She’s been hacked!

The other day, sitting at the kitchen table, I looked up from Facebook on my computer and said to Todd, ”

“You’re not going to believe this but ______ is voting for _______.”

He looked up from buttering his toast with a perplexed expression. It didn’t make sense to either of us. She is not conservative. I don’t know her family’s personal finances, but I’m guessing she’s not part of the 1%.

All day it kept coming back to me.

I could have sworn she voted for Obama in the last election.

That night, she sent out an update, saying her Facebook account had been hacked. One of her friends left a comment saying hers had been hacked as well. My friend was angry and questioned why this happened to her in this very important state of Ohio, and not to her friends in other parts of the country where the stakes are not so high.

It’s disgusting. Dirty, dirty politics.

It does make me feel better to think of women being hacked, rather than actually “liking” that candidate. Another women I know, a young one, also “liked” _____ on FB the other day. It confused me at the time, but maybe she’s been hacked too. She’s just graduating college and starting off on a promising new career. She certainly would like to make as much money as her male counterparts throughout her career, wouldn’t she? She uses birth control, so it’s not like she’d want to deny it to anyone else, would she? She’s not religious, so I doubt abortion is the reason. Yes, she likely has ambitions to one day make oodles of dough, but does she realize what she’s doing?

Another sweet woman in my life, almost retirement age, a lover of peace and Jimmy Carter…… over the last several years appears to have changed her tune about politics. She’s quoting Ronald Regan and recently posted something on Facebook comparing President Obama to Hitler. It broke my heart.

Sadly, she too has been hacked, but doesn’t even realize it.

That’s what Fox News, and the Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters of the world have done. They’ve hacked into good people and changed the wiring of their minds. I used to work at a radio station that played Rush Limbaugh and that’s what it does. It brainwashes you when you listen to it day after day after day. He gives you little quips and soon you think they are your own ideas. And if you repeat them, you kinda sorta sound smart. And that feels really good. But what you really are is a regurgitator of hate and not a very critical thinker at all. I’m not saying there aren’t smart Republicans. I’m saying if they get their info only from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, they aren’t. If they claim to be for God, but are fed hate, hate, hate, to the point where they spew hate, hate, hate, they are lost. They’ve been hacked.

Because really, any woman who isn’t part of the super wealthy 1 %, and isn’t uber religious and voting straight down the anti-abortion line? Any women who would deny health care to someone with a pre-exisiting condition(say autism, or breast cancer perhaps)? Any woman willing to piss away the basic rights of her daughters and grandaughters to have access to reproductive health care? Birth control? Pap smears? Breast exams? The rights generations of women before her worked so hard to obtain? Well, something in her has been hacked. Maybe her conscience. Maybe her sense of justice. Maybe her knowledge of women’s history. Maybe just her Facebook account, but something, (hopefully not her very soul), has been hacked.

What’s sad is she wouldn’t even have the right to vote for the men who plan to disempower her if a lot of brave women hadn’t had their heads busted open to give her the privilege.

Perhaps that information has been removed from her memory.

Hackers do shit like that.

Digital Scrapbooking with Ardissa Video

My friend Melissa Berman has started a new business where she will take your home video clips and photos and make up a scrapbook for you to share online. It’s really easy and affordable. You just decide on your theme and send her the videos and photos you want to use. You can personalize it with whatever you want to say. Baby announcements, baby showers, weddings, birthdays, confirmations, Bar/Bat mitzvahs, sweet sixteens, graduations, anniversaries, holidays, retirements etc.

I can think of some other categories she might try as well. Melissa, if I may?

Break-ups. A scrapbook would be better than an email or a post-it note. Okay, maybe break-ups are a bad idea.

But what about wedding proposals? Engagement announcements! We’re pregnant announcements! Or better yet, we’re getting a vasectomy announcements! Okay, again, maybe not.

What about athletic events? Perhaps an on-line scrapbook of one’s Tough Mudder race to share with all your friends, for people who are Tough Mudders like my other friend Melissa? Or teachers? What about something teachers could share with parents at the end of the year, or mid-year.

Each video is only $99.

Perhaps we’ll do this instead of a holiday card this year? Think of what I’d save in stamps, and hand cramping! Plus, it’s good for the environment!

Anyway….congrats on your new adventure Melissa. May you be hugely rewarded for following your heart. May you work with amazing people. What an uplifting business to be in, celebrating life’s precious moments.

Katy Perry Sings Duet with Child with Autism

My sister Kelli sent me this video tonight:

Kids with autism work so hard.

Watching the video took me right back to when Riley was three, and the tears just started to flow. (And that was before the little girl even started singing). It makes me take stock and appreciate how far Riley has come. Like the child in the video, everything was so very frustrating for her. Now, our girl is mostly joyful. She’s having a good life.

Riley loves Katy Perry. Watching that little girl sing with her and hug her long and hard at the end of the song was so precious. That little girl had to climb Mt. Everest to be on that stage.

I love her.

And I love my girl.

And I love all kids who live with autism. And I love all people who open their hearts to them.

I’m a big blubbering pile of love.

You can blame my sister for this.

Honk Honk

Driving Seth to school today we were stopped at a red light. It turned green and before I could even step on the pedal, the person behind me honked. Seriously, I wasn’t dilly-dallying. I looked back at Seth and he said,

“The light just turned green!”

I said, “I know!”

He said, “He didn’t even give you a chance.”

I said, “I know!”

Then I said,

“You know what Seth? I’m going to choose to believe that was an accident.”

He nodded, understanding where this was headed.

“Maybe it was an accident, right? And if it wasn’t, it isn’t worth getting sucked into his negative energy field and letting it affect my day.”

Then we started having some fun with it.

“Poor guy. He has no control over his own body!”

Ha-ha-ha!

“Poor guy. It must be scary driving a car when you might suddenly, at any given moment, be compelled to honk!”

Ha-ha-ha!

“Poor guy! Having no patience is noooooo fun!”

We were cracking ourselves up.

We pulled in and took our place in the long drop-off line of cars at Seth’s school.  Seth leaned over from the back seat to give me a good-bye hug and I twisted around awkwardly to hug him back. In doing so, my left elbow wailed on my horn.

I hope the people in the ten cars that were in front of us don’t think I’m an asshole.

My boy walked into school buckling over with laughter.

Hello Old Friend

When we got there on Seth’s first day, the teacher took him over to a wall on which a big note was written. It said:

Shalom Seth! 

Welcome to our classroom! We hope you have a fantastic first day! Ask us anything you need to know. We are here to help and excited to have you join our classroom. In this classroom we are always brave, sometimes silly and always do our best work.

Love,

Ms. ___’s class

(all the kids signed it)

P.S. Be ready to learn new languages! 

Then she showed him his desk, and he sat down. A boy at a nearby desk leaned over and told Seth something, giving him direction, “This is how we…..whatever.” I can’t remember, but he was helping Seth out.

Then we sat in a circle, and I talked about PANDAS and the kids played a fun and silly game, and during all this I saw something. The same boy wound up sitting next to Seth in the circle. And the boy was funny. And he said something hilarious, and he and Seth made eye contact, and they laughed, and I got to see it.

What I believe I saw was a moment when two old friends, meet each other for the first time. It felt sacred. And I felt blessed to bear witness.

Easing the Transition

billie jean

Seth was pretty nervous his first day of school. He was brave though, and went right in. His teacher is lovely and invited me to stay for the morning meeting and I was able to talk with the kids about PANDAS and they were all really sweet and cute. They played a fun game, and Seth joined right in, and I felt like he was in a good place when I left.

A highlight of the first day was a substitute for PE class. This meant instead of formal class, they did X-Box hip-hop dance. He tied with one other student for highest score, which gave him a bit of street cred. Finally his MJ obsession was put to good use.

Today on the way into the school, several boys came running up from behind, greeting him, shouting, “Seth! Seth!” I think it made him feel welcome and happy.

One of them told me all about Seth’s dancing the day before.

Today he had art class, and no way, but guess what? A huge portrait of Michael Jackson was hanging on the wall in the art room. It gave him great comfort.

Two days in, he’s doing well.

The Fedora waits on the back seat of the car until I pick him up each afternoon.

 

*Image Source: GroupieBlog, Huntermuttall.com, MJDavid007.com

Beautiful, Beautiful Boy

So much has been going on I have not even had time to obsess over my new hair cut.

A few years ago, before we even got Jingle, I checked out a local charter school here, hoping it might be a fit for Riley. I’d found out about it after reading a book called The Nurtured Heart, which I read about on Kyra’s blog. I was looking for a counselor trained in the Nurtured Heart approach to work with Riley. What I found was a school that used the approach with their students. It turned out the school didn’t have the right supports for what Riley needed.

Seth was on a waiting list, but there were many potential students in front of him and it never seemed like a reality. Over the summer they wrote to ask if I wanted the deposit back or if we wanted to keep him on the waiting list, and I figured, what the heck? Keep him on. And then I forgot about it. At this point there were four students in line in front of him. We’d looked at a private school for him last year, and it was lovely, but it required us to sign a contract for the full school year. If it wound up not working for Seth, we would still be obligated to pay. We didn’t feel we could risk that with Seth’s health issues. And there was something more intangible that held me back from sending him. I had this idea in my head that Seth and I would have a year together, to make up for all the time in his life when the focus was not on him. If I want to, I can get on a real tear about how neglected he’s been.

I even started to write a whole victimy piece like this for my last writing group meeting and consciously stopped myself. Instead I wrote about the glorious soul Seth is. He’s not a victim. He’s been loved every second of his life. He is purposeful and came here for a reason. It felt good to remember this.

So Seth and I have been having fun. We take the dogs walking as soon as Riley leaves for school. We come home and have breakfast and do reading and some light academics. We listen to books on tape while he plays with Lego. If Todd is home he does math with him. And then later, I take him bike riding. He’s all about the bike. September 2012 will forever be etched in my memory as a little blond boy, whizzing by on his bike under a breathtakingly blue September sky. For the last eleven years I could never look at a sky like that without thinking of 9/11, but now when I see that blue, I think of Seth. He works with a dog trainer on Fridays. He helps in the kitchen. It’s all lovely and sweet, and there isn’t a thing wrong with what we are doing.

But the charter school called. They have a spot. They wanted to see Seth. They assessed him. He’s a little behind for his grade level because of our relaxed pieced together curriculum, but he’s fine. They know all about his PANDAS and they still invite him to be there.

Six weeks into our mother/son love fest, the world wants him back. A couple of weeks after I reframe him in my mind, from victim to powerful, the opportunity arises.

We would never send him to any old school. He is so sensitive. But this is the “Nurtured Heart” school! We felt in pulling our kids from school that academics could always be learned but unlearning broken self-esteem was much more difficult. This was why we pulled Riley, Seth came along for the ride, but then, his tics are what kept us from putting him back. He has no shame about them now, but all it would take are one or two kids to pick on him. I don’t think that will happen in this school. We will go in and talk to all the children about PANDAS. Seth and I together will explain it. When kids are given the respect of being told what is going on, they always respond with compassion.

This school is inter-generational. They have combined grade levels where students learn from being with those older and younger than them. They have senior citizen volunteers who build nurturing on-going relationships with the children. They also have college student volunteers who work with the kids. They have PE every day. The teachers are happy to be there and flexible and eager to learn, readily admitting they don’t have all the answers.

A week ago this wasn’t even a possibility. He’ll likely start on Tuesday. Seth is both “scared and excited.”

I’m left feeling remorse for the loss of “our year” but I think this is an opportunity we can’t pass up. Being immersed in a school like this could change the trajectory of Seth’s life. My friend Amy reminds me I can still do all the things I wanted to do with him. I can take him bike riding. I can schedule regular one on one on the calendar, write it in ink. This is particularly soothing coming from her, because she is a fellow home schooling friend and I respect her very much. The dog trainer says she’ll work around his new schedule.

My heart hurts as I buy khakis and polos. He is such a free spirit. He is so not khakis and polos. He’ll be uncomfortable in these clothes. I snip off all the buttons which he hates, and wash them many times to soften them up. Tomorrow I’ll run around looking for somewhere to put snaps or velcro where the buttons should have been.

I worry he’ll be exposed to so many germs. That is my big fear, worst case scenario. His health takes a dive. But can we lock him away from the world forever? Might the lift he gets in his spirits from being around so many positive people, and from feeling a sense of accomplishment and belonging also boost his immune system?

Rev. Michael Beckwith says to ask at times like this, “What’s the best thing that could happen?”

It might be really, really great.

And if it doesn’t work out, I am not afraid to have him home. It will not be overwhelming like it was when we first took Riley out of school.

So say a little prayer for my brave boy this week. It’s a big one for him.

To all of you who know him and love him, in person or just here on the blog, I thank you for holding him in your hearts.

I check my look in the mirror, wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face

So I was all gung-ho for my 10:00AM hair cut appointment yesterday. I got Riley out the door, made a plan for Seth, jaunted off to my appointment excited and nervous. I checked in at the salon. Sat down, flipped open a magazine and my cell rang. It was the school and they needed me to come get Riley ASAP.

Buh-bye hair appointment.

I went to get her, not knowing what the problem was. Turns out she was sick. We think it had to do with the bus (van) ride in the morning. A ten minute trip to school is turned into fifty minutes, and she has to get up super early to get on the van at ever earlier times (it’s moved gradually from 7:20 to 6:55AM) and well, it’s just too much. Not a good day for her.

But my hair.

All the wind got knocked out of my sails. I wasn’t sure I was even going to go through with it. I couldn’t fathom driving across town again to get back to the salon. I was in a slump. Then I remembered another stylist very close by, who gave Riley a great hair cut once a couple of years ago. I called. She had a one o’clock.

I still have a few hair cuts to go before all of the artificial color is gone. You can see the gray right at the roots. My initial response? It isn’t as gray as I imagined it’d be. We’ll see in time. I’m not sure how I feel about the cut for me, but I think it’s okay. I’m not devastated. It’s nice not to have a ponytail headache. It’s fun to try something bold and new.

Note to spouses who might be reading: If your significant other comes home on her 44th birthday with a super short hair cut, and you say, “You look like Courtney Cox in the Dancing in the Dark video,” it is very, very good move.  It doesn’t even need to be true. It’s a smart thing to say. File that under Hot Toddy, and you’re welcome for the tip.

Lovingly yours,

MO’N

An Experiment in Going Gray

I have friends who intend to color their hair until the day they die. I have other friends who are going grey quietly, gracefully. They need no fanfare. They aren’t having existential angst. They haven’t wasted years and dollars fighting it.

But enough about them.

Tomorrow is my 44th birthday, and I am cutting off my hair, and experimenting with letting it grow in au naturale. I started coloring it for fun in my teens, because I’d get bored with it. I’d go from my natural brunette to light brown. I’d go auburn. In my thirties, I started seeing some grey, and continued to color it(except when I was pregnant). I almost always did it myself, at home out of a box. A while back I got blond highlights wanting to look good for my 25th high school reunion. It cost a fortune. I’ve kept it up,(barely) going way long in between foil sessions, mostly looking like crap, mostly worn in a ponytail anyway.

Sitting in the chair at the salon for these “touch-ups,” I always have an anxiety attack about the money. I’ve conjured visions of home hair highlighting parties with my friends. I’ve shaken my fist (in my mind) about the cost. What the hell? Why so much money? Who gets paid this much for any service? And why aren’t hair stylists living in luxury? Someone is making a bundle, but it seems like it isn’t the actual stylists doing my hair.

I’ll admit I didn’t have so much angst before the highlights. Some concern about the chemicals, yes, but who cares if I spend ten bucks at home every couple of months?

But lately, I’ve been questioning what my real hair even looks like after all these years. I see women with gorgeous heads of silver and I envy them. I envy the self-acceptance. I envy the freedom.

In Mutant Message Down Under, a book I read years ago, the narrator goes on a walk-about with an aborigine tribe in the Australian Outback.  As her bleached hair grows in dark at the roots, they take it as a sign she is assimilating with the group, getting wiser, more like them.

I ponder this. Is it wiser not to color? Not to give in to society’s demands about how we as women are supposed to look? Not to bow down to an industry designed to make us feel insecure so we buy more products and services? Not to waste precious hours and dollars fighting the tides? Or is it smarter to go with the flow and do what the majority of women in our culture do and cover up those grays? There is no denying the lift you feel walking out of the salon, feeling “put together” after a cut and color. That is one of the reasons I continued to get the highlights. It made me feel somehow un-frumpified.

Is that in itself a bit messed up?

In my heart of hearts I know there is no “right” answer. Each woman must decide for herself what feels right and for me I honestly don’t know. I reserve the right to flow back and forth. If I hate it, I’ll go back to coloring. I don’t have to make it a big moral issue. I just have to feel good about whatever I decide.

So I’m going to try it.

But I’m vain. I worry. Will I look washed out? Will I look mousy? Will I look (gasp) old?

I am not willing to mess around with trying to blend the color I’ve got. I’m not adding gray highlights. It sounds like a whole lotta back and forth and more money and blah blah blah. I’m going to cut it off, cold turkey, let it grow in and see. That’s how I do things. I’ll take a good long time sitting on the fence, but once I make a decision, that’s it.

So I’m doing it. I’m getting a super short cut. I’m scared I’ll look ugly. That I won’t have the face for it. I might wear hats and scarves for months. I might say forget the whole thing and color it immediately. I hope I’ll be okay with it.

That photo above? That’s the day I had my hair done at the salon last time. It never really looks like that. It usually looks more like this:

The highlights are pulled back in a pony, and the grey peeks through at the roots anyway.

What exactly am I clinging to?

Friends, I’m going in. Wish me luck.

It’s just hair, right?

*Todd is fully supportive (but that might be just his wallet talking).

** This website has a lot of short hair cuts. I’m not doing a funky buzz cut, but I do like Ginnifer Goodwin’s and Carey Mulligan’s cuts. I’ve also been reading this book, a memoir about going gray. And this blog is another inspiring resource if you are considering letting your silver shine through.

*** This was written yesterday. I’m actually getting my hair cut today. Wish me luck!

Child With PANDAS Custody Taken from Parents via Boston Children’s Hospital

These are the shell shocked faces of parents who have been put through hell at the hands of Boston Children’s Hospital. According to their attorney Beth Maloney, they did absolutely nothing wrong. “They are caring, lovely people whose daughter was diagnosed with PANDAS/PANS by two different physicians, and they diligently sought appropriate treatment for her.”

She goes on:

“Their daughter Elizabeth was admitted to BCH due to eating issues. This is the second family I have represented within two months regarding BCH with the same fact pattern. In both cases, BCH has immediately told the parents that PANDAS/PANS does not exist, cut off the child’s antibiotics, reported the parents to Mass child protective services, and had the parents trailed by guards at the hospital. In both cases, BCH has actively encouraged children’s services to remove the child from the custody of the parents unless the family signed a voluntary agreement to place the child in a locked psych unit.”

This is sickening. So very sickening.

Please forward this to everyone you know. Parents who are dealing with PANDAS are going through so much. To have their child taken from them, by ignorant doctors who claim the condition doesn’t even exist?

And that child? What’s she going through?

Please pray for this family. And I would not take your children with PANDAS to Boston Children’s Hospital.

Here is the PR address at BCH should you feel the desire to write them an email on behalf of the Wray family, Carrie and Jay and their daughter Elizabeth.

public.affairs@childrens.harvard.edu

*Please read comment section. At least one parent says her child with PANDAS received quality care at BCH. I will be interested to learn more as this story unfolds. I do trust Beth Maloney though. She is a very strong advocate for kids with PANDAS.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

File:Gandhi at Darwen with women.jpg

7:30AM, and I had Seth at the stove, working on dinner for tonight. He measured and stirred and poured and we talked, and I can’t even remember how it came up, but we were discussing Ghandi. I told him what I could about the Salt March, but knew I didn’t have all the details in my brain, so after we covered up Seth’s taco casserole masterpiece and tucked it into the fridge we looked up Ghandi and had a nice discussion. Such a huge life for such a young boy to take in. We’d been reading and chatting for about twenty minutes when we realized that today is Ghandi’s birthday.  And we looked at each other and I did the Twilight Zone music and Seth didn’t know what the “Twilight Zone” music even meant, so maybe after I force him to make lunch we’ll study up on Rod Serling.

And that my friends, is homeschooling.

Happy Birthday beloved Mahatma. You cute little skinny powerful light of God. We mothers around the world are still talking about you.

Thank you for opening so many hearts.

* Gandhi with textile workers at Darwen, Lancashire, 26 September 1931. Source: Wikipedia

*Quote: Ghandi, (brainyquote.com).

We’ll all be dead soon

About my recent presentation. I lived. I did my best to get centered beforehand, reading uplifting spiritual material in the AM and listening to soothing music on the way to the conference, but I don’t know how much that helped once it was actually my time to talk. I felt out of my element, stepping out from behind the computer screen (I’m so much cooler on line, LOL).

I do not pass myself off as a a teacher, but offered some tips I’ve picked up along the way at various writing workshops I’ve attended. Things that really helped me, and mattered to me, and things I believe made my writing stronger. It was hard to gauge where people were in their writing processes and I hoped I wasn’t repeating what they already knew. At the end, I miscalculated the time and thought I had 15 more minutes and thank God one of them told me I was going over. Whoopsie! 

I can’t say the audience was riveted by me. One person was nodding off (mine was the last presentation of the day and came an hour or so after lunch) and a couple of people couldn’t leave their phones alone, but most in the room were attentive and seemed sincere. I hope I gave them some things to think about and a nugget or two that will help them in their writing endeavors. A couple of kind souls thanked me afterward and I got some nice feedback from evaluations. I wasn’t told of any bad feedback, and I’m too scared to ask if there was any, though I probably should find out so I can learn.

I did sell some books and a couple of people shared their personal stories with me, which is a privilege and attests to the fact that when you air your own shame, you give others permission to do the same. 

After the conference I came home and unloaded the whole thing on HT, and he hugged me and decreed the person who was nodding off to have overdosed on tryptophan at lunch, and made me laugh and hugged me profusely and told me he was proud of me for being brave. I emailed a couple of dear friends, who sent their love and encouragement, and later I snuggled my kids and later still, talked a friend (who was having her own crises) off a ledge and the whole thing got further away.

Whatever we are worried about is so transient. I can’t even remember what I was worried about last week or last month, but I’m sure it was something.

My sister and I jokingly use the phrase, “We’ll all be dead soon,” whenever one of us is in pain. Morbid? Yes, but also a reminder not to make such a big deal of things and to know it’s all impermanent. This too shall pass.

So I’m not the world’s greatest public speaker. I guess it’s still okay to be me, right now, neurotic exactly as I am. There’s really no alternative.