“Maybe a singer, an astronaut, an artist, a wisdom teacher, an actor, a fashion designer, a mom…”

HT took the kids to the Great Lakes Science Center and came home with these photos.


Of course upon seeing Riley in a space suit I thought of Temple Grandin’s quote. The one where she refers to NASA as “the largest sheltered workshop in the world.”

I have a love/hate relationship with quotes like that.

Love. I love the idea Riley could work at NASA or any other place she wants to, hold a job, live independently, make good money, etc.

Hate. I hate when people minimize the challenges of those with Asperger’s. Oh they’re just a little quirky, no big deal. Ha, ha. Not that Temple Grandin generally minimizes, but that kind of quote sweeps under the rug how truly debilitating Asperger’s is for many.

It’s more than just being “quirky.” It’s so much more.  And that pretty much explains Riley. She is more of a challenge, but she’s also more in a good way too.

Example: No one can touch her in kindness.

One day we were out for a walk, and she was complaining about something she couldn’t do. I can’t even remember what, and I talked to her about the kindness she possesses.

“Riley do you know how many people come to see spiritual teachers, pay good money to hear them speak, they themselves striving to find the kindness and compassion in their hearts that is already right there, out in the open, in you?”   

We walked silently for a while as she thought about this. 

Finally she smiled at me,

“Maybe I’ll be a wisdom teacher,” she said.

“Maybe you will be,” I said.  


Far as I know, most ten year olds aren’t considering “wisdom teacher” as career choices.

Riley O’Neil.

“Has not missed a day of wisdom teaching since June of 2000.”

That will look good on a resume.’

NASA would be lucky to have her.

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14 Responses to “Maybe a singer, an astronaut, an artist, a wisdom teacher, an actor, a fashion designer, a mom…”

  1. Wanda says:

    Anyone would be lucky to have Riley or Seth…
    …as are you.

  2. pixiemama says:

    What a sweet pea. I just love your kids.


  3. Amanda says:

    Riley can be anything she wants to be because she has you to tell her so and the courage to follow her own path.

    Loveya! 😀

  4. Jerri says:

    Not simple but beautiful, your life and times with Seth and Riley on this trip around the big blue marble.

    Wisdom teacher, indeed.

  5. Carrie Link says:

    You are my human.

    She IS a wisdom teacher, and I can think of nothing better to strive for.

  6. Kim says:

    She’s is such an awesome girl!

  7. Lydia says:

    I secretly wish someone would say that to me, Michelle. “Yes, you’re more of a challenge, but we get so much more just from knowing you, that you’re completely worth it.” Oh, I wish. Mom tells me that she’d never trade me for a regular girl, essentially saying the same thing, but I want to hear that my difficulties are worth it. Sigh.

  8. Kim says:

    I am lucky to be one of her students.

  9. She constantly blows.me.away.

  10. amber says:


    I hear what you’re saying. I think it is easier for other people to “chew” little bits of aspergers, than to eat the “whole thing”. People tend to want to make things smaller and easier to understand, for themselves. I have gotten this re: my moms bi-polar. Everyone thinks they know someone with it, they think they have “seen it”, and get it.They get ‘moody’, right? Many think of it as a “quirk”, as you say. And it isn’t. And they really don’t get the whole of it, the amazing difficulty of what it is.

    I would pay to see Riley speak. 😉


  11. Robin says:

    I personally hate the “Bill Gates has Aspergers” statement. Like the diagnoses is a guarantee of billions of dollars and all challenges are imaginary.

    Stay strong!

  12. Deb says:

    I’d love to see her card! Wisdom teacher, indeed. 🙂

  13. kario says:

    Lovely post, Michelle! I wonder what Seth would say…

  14. Chris Vartorella says:

    My guess is,(only meeting Riley a couple of times,)that she already is a wisdom teacher like Carrie says, but I know for sure, her parents are the wisdom teachers for me…

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