Sunday, November 30, 2014

Memorable

NOTE: I started this post in September. Then, life got in the way, and I never finished it. I'm finishing it today, because I'm tired of life getting in the way of me finishing what I want to finish. And by "finished," I don't mean finished. Nothing is ever finished, is it?



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"Well, hello, Wilson!" said the Nike Youth Games/Special Olympics volunteer at check-in. I looked at Wil to see if he was wearing a name tag I hadn't remembered him wearing. I replayed the last minute in my head: Had he said his name? No, he hadn't said anything, he'd simply walked up to the table.

"I remember you from last year," the adorable, young, volunteer said.

She remembered him from LAST year? There are hundreds and hundreds of kids here, how could she remember HIM?

But she had.

Wil participated in his second Nike Youth Games event held in conjunction with Special Olympics. He played soccer on a Project UNIFY team and was matched with (not against) three other teams from the area. If you want to know all that's right with the world, look no further than a Project UNIFY team. A unified team has both players with and without intellectual disabilities. Those with intellectual disabilities are "athletes" and those without are "partners." There are strict rules about how many athletes must be on the field/court/etc. at a time, and how many partners. Athletes get to make the goals, the baskets, the points, what-have-you. Partners are there to support the athletes in every way. It's a wonder to behold. If you're not tearing up after a Project UNIFY game, you have a stone for a heart.

I recently watched (the best show on TV) "Super Soul Sunday" with Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics. Amazing man. Amazing family legacies. Amazing inspiration: his aunt, Rosemary Kennedy. Rosemary Kennedy had a traumatic birth, which left her with an intellectual disability. It was not easy to "see," and the family kept it hidden (in shame). Rosemary functioned approximately at the age of an 8-12 year-old. At 23, her father agreed, without his wife's knowledge or consent, to a prefrontal lobotomy for Rosemary. It left her incapacitated. She lived until 86.

It's easy to go down the Her-Life-Was-Tragic road, and believe me, I've gone down it. I've also gone down the How-Could-You-Stay-Married-To-A-Man-That-Does-Not-Consult-You-Before-Such-A-Thing? road. It's not a pretty road. Or, very helpful.

Eunice Shriver took the family secret and she put it front of the country, in a time where the intellectually disabled were the most stigmatized population in the country (one could argue that they still are). The first Special Olympics were held in July 1968, in Chicago, Illinois.

There are over 4 million Special Olympic athletes in the world now.

Over 4 million people are now getting opportunities, and respect, that is long over-due.

Rosemary Kennedy, you are remembered.








Saturday, November 29, 2014

Small Victories

Been awhile since I posted. Thank you to those that have noticed, and a special thank you to those that have checked in on me, to make sure everything is okay. I am okay.

I just finished reading Anne Lamott's newest book, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. I am a big Anne Lamott lover for many reasons. I love that she's a hot mess most of the time, yet writes about the biggies: grace, forgiveness, love. I dare say, I've learned more from her in her screwed-up way, than from many that pretend to have it all figured out.

Anne is 60 now, and says she knows less than ever. That resonated with me. I, too, know less than ever about almost everything.

Last night I dreamed I had a swollen left palm. I pierced it somehow, and out came fluid. In the fluid were two tiny fish - larger than microscopic, but not by much. The fish left my palm, left the small amount of fluid in which they'd lived, and left for the great beyond.

My dream then switched to me sitting at a computer, and two large cats were surrounding me, one was actually wedging herself between my chair and my back, pushing me into the computer and making it almost impossible to type. I knew that the tiny little fish that had left my palm, had turned into big, strong, determined cats.

Life is like that, isn't it? Parts of us that start off small, almost microscopic, leave us and go on to turn into other things, sometimes almost unrecognizably so. It is not up to us what happens with the stories, the events, the people, the "fish" that were part of us at one time. We have to pierce open ourselves and let them go, let them become what they will. Or won't.

That is one of the few things I still know.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Eggnog Lattes

Did you hear all the fuss about Starbucks dropping eggnog lattes from their seasonal menu? I am an eggnog latte lover, and look forward each year to the red cups, the November 1st launch, and the occasional trip into Starbucks just for that very drink.

I went in yesterday and discussed all the hoopla with the barista. She was quick to say it was never going to affect the Pacific Northwest, but what about all those other poor souls out there, without their eggnog lattes?

"It's just eggnog, people!" she said with disdain.

"Yes and no," I responded. Of course, it's "just" eggnog. But life can be stressful and challenging, and sometimes it's the "eggnog lattes" in our life that get us from Point A to Point B all in one piece.

Could I live without eggnog? Starbucks? Red cups? Absolutely. It is, after all, only eggnog.

But by the same token, there are plenty of days when adding that stop in is the best part of my day. A little love from Carrie to Carrie. A splurge, if you will. A few minutes, and dollars, as in investment in my over-all well-being.

Priceless.