Organic Learning

Riley woke up this morning with two questions:

1) Does my hair look like a rat’s nest?

2) Do rats really have nests?

And so we’re studying the habitats of rats today.

And Riley is writing more of her graphic novel.

And Seth is playing. As in…he’s conceptualizing a play, involving Harry Potter characters dressed in Star Wars costumes. There are lasers and catapults and hang gliders and crashes.

After lunch we’re off to homeschool music class, for rhythms and dance. It’s a “typical” class, in a room that’s kind of like a small auditorium. Last week was the first week, and ten years into this game, I got to sit in the audience, like all the other moms. I didn’t have to be “room mom.” Code for one on one aide.

Riley had one anxious moment, but she asked to “pass” on her turn, and then got right back in. I didn’t have to intervene. Both kids had so much fun.

The better it gets, the better it gets.

We learn, learn, learn as we go.

She Loves Me

Last night I snuck away into the bedroom to read for a bit. Riley came in to say goodnight and snuggled under the covers with me for a moment. We decided to say her prayers right there, rather than wait to go into her room.

My dreams will be happy and joyful.

I am loved.

I am healthy, loving and wise.

God helps me know what to do.

Tomorrow will be a wonderful day.

Thank you God.


We talked about her “happy thoughts” from the day, as I stroked her hair.

There were many happy thoughts.

When she got done listing them, she nestled her head down deeper into my shoulder, sighed, and said,

“I love you.”

In ten years it was the first time she ever said it first.

“Get to” vs. “got to,”(at a fast clip)

After no exercise for two weeks (due to sickness making its rounds in the house) I walked fast for thirty minutes on the treadmill today.

It was awesome.

Ramped up on appreciation from a morning writing exercise I do, I hopped on that baby with enthusiasm.

Woo-hoo! Look at me go! Feels so good to move!

I love my body. Today I’m not thinking about that roll around my middle. I’m thinking about legs that work. Feet that feel good. My mom says I started walking by 8 months. What good feet I have, taking me all these steps for 42 years.

The human body. So cool? How is it I’m walking on this treadmill? How is it I’m standing upright at all? I think of skeletons hanging in biology classrooms. They’d just collapse if let off their hooks, but living, breathing bodies? We get to stand! We get to walk! Spectacular life energy holds us up. How the hell? Woo-hoo!

Scratching an itch on my cheek. How did I do that? I didn’t put out a memo and request my hand reach up to my face. I didn’t have to pay for it. I didn’t even have to think about it. I itched. I scratched. End of story.

I try this several times. Hands raised in the air.

Back down.

All while walking at a fast clip.

Up again! Hands in the air. Wave ’em like you just don’t care!

A miracle!

Seth walks in the room, ready to talk my ear off about Lego.

“SETH!” I greet him,


Without a word, Seth slowly backs out of the room.

I’m loving this treadmill, this walking.

On the wall to my right hangs a picture I bought, during a trip to West Virginia; the last time I saw my friend Clarissa. The last time I’ll ever see her.

“If I could.”

She held it for me as I dug my wallet out of my purse to pay for it. I reach out now with my miraculously functioning arm, and still walking, I touch it. She touched it, and now I touch it and some of our molecules mix.

Step, step, step.

I think of a dinner on the Caribbean cruise I went on last year, where a new friend corrected several of us at the table…urging us to begin saying, “I get to….(insert anything) instead of saying, “I’ve got to…..(insert anything). Such a small shift in words. Such a huge shift in energy.

I have a highly complex, beautifully functioning body.

I’m so lucky I “get” to do the treadmill.

I get to be alive.

I get to do countless wonderful things.

I get it.

Thule le Mama Ya

Sunday was our latest Windsong concert. It was my fourth concert with the group and it was my favorite so far. That might have something to do with the fact it was the first time I felt like I mostly knew what I was doing. I’d never been a confident singer and it took me a while to get acclimated (I’m in the middle, second row).

The songs were so much fun this time.

Thule le Mama ya is inspired by the Zulu phrase “thula mama” meaning, “Don’t worry Mama.” Singing with this wonderful group is one of the times my worries can’t get me. I’m totally in the moment.

Don’t worry Mama.

Things have a way of working out.

They really do.

True Colors Gay Men’s Chorus of LA

Watching this video took me on a huge roller coaster of emotions. I love the slow face shots at the beginning. Each person…all of these men, what they have been through personally in a society which discriminates against them for simply being who they are. Their bravery.

As the video progresses, my heart just seemed to open wider and wider. Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors, written for her friend with HIV. The despicable history of our government in the 80’s not giving a shit about the AIDs epidemic because it was primarily affecting gay men. As if they were disposable. The continued battle to help those affected get the services they need.

The love I have for my daughter and anyone who is at all “different” in some way.

The physical beauty of these men, all of whom appear lit from within, and how could they not be in the context of this video, and the “it gets better” reason for doing it.

The joining of more and more supporters and loved ones.

The healing, spiritual power of music, singing, voice.

The deep knowing that in my childrens’ lifetime, this BS is going to stop. As a society we’re not going to put up with it anymore.

My absolute certaintly that love prevails.

To the gay people in my life, I admire you and I believe in a day when no one will have to hide or hurt for being who they are.


Seth’s Manifestation of His Puppy

One of the biggest regrets I had when I stopped blogging was not having the opportunity to share Seth’s puppy with you.

Back in September, I did put up a piece about it over at my friend Betsy’s Autism Law of Attraction blog. Seth is the most positive person you are going to meet. No coincidence he’s also amazing at manifesting his heart’s desires.

Anyway…I hope you enjoy the story of Seth’s manifestation of Yippee.

They are one happy pair.

What I Do When I Get Scared

Sometimes I feel so scared.

I wake in the night, feeling like life is just ticking away. So little time. At the theater the other night, I see an actor back flip through the air repeatedly and I know that is one thing I’m probably not going to experience this lifetime. What’s it like? Flying through the air with such freedom in your body?

I should have been a gymnast. Or a dancer. What would that have been like? Not a Black Swan miserable pain and suffering dancer…but…just….I don’t dance enough.

When I feel that frightening…time ticking away feeling, I have to remind myself we’re all eternal. What I don’t get to experience in this lifetime, I’ll get to experience in another one. Most of the world believes in reincarnation, btw. And there are many, many stories which lead me to believe it is true. We are but a beautiful bit of a much larger soul, which is part of a much larger ever expanding Universe.

Whatever I have done so far, is enough, even as I look forward to experiencing so much more of what this life has to offer.

One of the things that helps me when I feel scared is a set of questions from A Course in Miracles.

Where would You have me go?

What would You have me do?

What would You have me say and to whom?

This very blog post is a response to those questions. For me, just asking the questions and creating space to listen for answers takes away feelings of fear, helplessness or despair. Just honoring that I do have something of value to offer, no matter how small. One thing which also helps when I feel scared is listening to Rev. Michael Beckwith’s Living From the Overflow. Maybe it will help you too. I felt moved to mention it.


German Shoulders

Read or listen

On Tuesdays, Riley has music therapy at the Cleveland Music School Settlement. This has become a special time for Seth and I. We head to the lounge on the second floor, and I give him $0.35. He goes to the vending machine and procures himself a small pack of Juicy Fruit.

He offers me a piece, pops one into his own mouth, and we sit together on a sofa, hunkering down for 45 minutes of reading Indiana Jones together. We’ve made it through Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Temple of Doom, and we’re now half way through Last Crusade. Indy and his father are trapped, tied to a chair. When the room goes up in flames, Seth’s eyes go wide.

When Indy poses as a ticket taker on a huge aircraft, slugs the bad guy, then turns to find the rest of the passengers intimidated and waving their tickets, Seth chuckles. There is a lot of humor in these stories and Seth gets every punch line. However, nothing is more funny to him than when his mother misreads “German soldiers” as “German shoulders.” I don’t mean to do it, but I swear it happens every time.

I used to feel guilty about dragging Seth to all of Riley’s therapies and appointments, but not anymore. These are some of the best one-on-ones we have. Reading, laughing, connecting, looking each other in the eye, chomping Juicy Fruit.

Seth and his mom.

We’ll always have German shoulders.

Back in the Saddle

Listen or read: (I’ve been playing around with podcasts. Not gonna have them on every post. Have not figured out how to stop it from opening in a separate window. It’s just for fun).

Our family went down like dominoes last week with a stomach bug. First Seth, then Todd, then me and finally Riley. The night it was my turn, I kept waking, sweaty and nauseous. Every time I woke up, I tried to take my mind off  how I felt by deliberately seeking things to be grateful for.

I know this is just a stomach bug. It will be gone in a couple of days.

Looking around the room, in the glow of the hall light, I saw the door.

Hinges. I am grateful for hinges. Thank you for doors and for whoever invented them.

HT snored next to me.

Thank you for him. I know I could wake him and he would comfort me. I won’t, but I could. Thank you.

I’d fall back asleep, and rouse a couple of hours later.

I’d start to panic, nausea is a trigger for me, but then…

Thank you for running water. Thank you for toilets that flush.

Thank you for this warm house.

I went downstairs on the couch, not wanting to disturb Todd with my tossing and turning.

Thank you for this pillow and this blanket.

I turned on the TV.

Thank you for TIVO and for cable to help me take my mind off  how I feel.

I watched two episodes of Sex and the City.

Honestly I forgot to be thankful for anything else after that, but it was a pretty good run.

Five days since the first O’Neil fell, we’re back in the saddle.

And I’m thankful.

And then, somehow she just knew, it was time to start again

Photo on 2011-12-27 at 23.00

So it looks like I’m blogging again. I mean, here I am, in a “new post” page, feeling ready to roll. It just feels like time.

A lot has happened in the last five months. We stayed in Cleveland. Todd got a new job. Seth got a puppy of his own. Riley is doing extremely well, and we decided to home school Seth too. My sister fell in love and moved to Texas. My dear friend Clarissa died. I wrote almost every day, but nothing for a book. At least I don’t think so.

Back in August, I was overwhelmed in so many ways. I’d kind of lost my footing and needed time to figure things out. Needed to put my own private process first, for the good of myself and my family. I wasn’t sure I’d ever pick up this blog again. Blogging itself had started to feel unhealthy for me. It’s a whole animal of its own, isn’t it? It can buoy you; and it can kick up your worst insecurities.

So I come back to this page a little stronger and wiser, I hope. And more deliberate with my intentions.

If you’d like to read along, I’d be honored. If you think it’s crap I stopped writing here and now I’m starting again, and you never want to read another word of mine, I honor that too.

Wishing you more self-love, more honoring whatever is right for you, in 2011.

Breathe that in.

Let it be.

And so it is.

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

-Maya Angelou