Surrender

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I surrender.

I’ve been pondering the difference between giving up and surrender. To me, giving up feels like abandoning a dream. Walking away from something unfinished. Not being brave, perhaps. Not giving it your all.

Surrender, to me, feels like handing it over to a power greater than myself. Acknowledging  I don’t know what  will happen if I let go, of an idea, of a dream, of a way of being, but trusting it will be okay.

With love, I surrender anything that does not serve my highest good.

I make room for light.

I let it be.

Wil of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is the day!

Carrie Wilson Link’s long awaited book, Wil of God, is released.

“Wil of God is the story of a tightly wound special needs mother who comes undone, puts herself back together, and falls in love with her imperfect life.”

That’s a blurb from someone in the know.

Good blurb, right?

Oh, okay…it’s my blurb. I admit it.

I met Carrie at a writing workshop years ago. We bonded over our special needs parent status. Our children are very different and require completely different parenting but there was an immediate respect between us about the sacredness of our unexpected vocations.

I’ve had the honor to bear witness to the unfolding of Carrie’s story (at least the last seven years of it), and I’ve read her book in many of its phases. It is delightful. I am so very deeply and profoundly happy for her as Wil of God launches. It is a story that will lift you up, and make you better for having read it.

Carrie is a beautiful writer. A steadfast and devoted mother. A spiritual seeker. A vital thread in her community. She is a teacher to her core.

To paraphrase her son Wil, she is, “the right kind of woman.”

She’s also the right kind of friend.

Congratulations Care!

May your book find it’s way into the hands of all who will appreciate it. May there be many, many, many who open to receive Wil of God.

 

*For more on Carrie and Wil of God, visit her blog, here.

Dentists and Autism

Just before leaving to pick up Seth at school yesterday, I got a reminder in the mail from our most recent dentist. It’s time for cleanings. In the car, I found myself getting more and more agitated.

This is the dentist we switched to, after the last dentist. Before we saw this newest dentist for the first time I called ahead to pre-pave. To let them know about Riley’s anxiety. I assured them it would most likely be fine, she’s doing so well, but I felt it would be better for them to at least be aware.

In the car Riley said she was nervous. I assured her it was just a cleaning. I told her she’d had plenty of cleanings by now, and it would be okay. In the waiting room, the assistant came to call her back. I asked, “Riley, do you want me to come with you or stay in the waiting room?” I’d always come with her before, but she’s getting older. She grabbed my hand and said, “I want you to come.”

At this point, the dental assistant attempted very strongly to intercept me, and take Riley back by herself. We went around at least three times with it, and she was quite firm. You could tell she’d been sent out to do the dirty work. Like she was going to be in trouble or something if I waltzed back there with my kid. I told her I wanted to see the dentist and she put me in a little side room, (with Riley), to wait. At this point, not wanting to be the cause of any strife, Riley started ramping up, pleading, “It’s okay Mom. I’ll go by myself. It’s okay.”

I told her, “No it isn’t okay.”

If my child on the autism spectrum has a problem with anxiety, and it will reassure her to have her mother in the room for a cleaning, then what is the big deal? Why do dentists assume that they know better than parents of children with autism? How much training do they actually have with kids on the spectrum? I’m betting none. Why do they assume they know what to do if they run into a problem? Why do they assume we are the problem?

Dental visits are anxiety provoking for many people, and for Riley even more so. You can’t minimize her sensory issues. She is doing so well, and she puts on a brave face, but hold her hand walking down a street and you realize how truly sensitive she still is. She flinches and squeezes your hand at noises that wouldn’t phase most of us. In the car, she screams if I hit the brakes unexpectedly. Her panic response goes from zero to 100 in an instant.

In all likelihood her cleaning would be fine, but there was a chance it wouldn’t be. There was a chance the dentist wouldn’t take her sensory issues into account. And if not, there was a chance he’d be the trigger of a full scale scene. And there is a chance he would then shame her and blame her for her reaction to his own insensitivity. Ask me how I know. This happened with one of the assistants at the orthodontist’s just a few months ago. It’s never ending, the need for advocacy, and until I am clear she can do it on her own, I will be with her, if she wants me to be.

It took years of hard work to get her in the dentist’s chair. I wonder if this dentist realized that? I wonder if he realized how punched-in-the-gut I’ve felt nearly every time I’ve had to deal with a member of his profession?

In the end, the dentist never came into the “intimidation room” to talk with me. We were whisked back. I sat in the corner unobtrusively, while Riley got her teeth cleaned, without incident. I did not hover over her. I did not make it worse. I looked out the window, and held space for my girl, as she demonstrated yet another feat of bravery. Letting professionals she’d never met poke around in her mouth, bright lights, sounds, uncomfortable sensations. She handled it all.

When I got home I went into the privacy of my bedroom and cried. It is so tiring to be treated like this, and when it happens it brings up every other time it’s happened.

And then, like we autism parents do, I got on with things.

The reminder post card is serving to mark my page in a book I’m currently reading. It’s about the brain and the different areas of it and how they effect various learning disabilities and how we can strengthen areas of weakness. It’s what I do. I study. I help my kids.

As I turn the post card with the reminder over and look at it, I think about all this. It occurs to me Cleveland has a dental school. I wonder if somehow I could arrange to talk with the up-and-coming students. I wonder if in some small way, I can help turn this around.

Let’s Take the Long Way Home

I just finished Gail Caldwell’s memoir Let’s Take the Long Way Home(Random House, 2010). It is a book about two friends, and one of the friends dies, and it is sad. I didn’t spoil anything, the death is mentioned on the first page.

Both women are writers. Both women are addicted to alcohol but are sober. Both are obsessed with their dogs. Both are introverts. The one who died, Caroline Knapp, is the author of a memoir titled, Drinking: A Love Story. Now I suppose I have to go read that one as well! I’m always intrigued by stories of people who manage to triumph over addiction.

Above all, Let’s Take the Long Way Home is about female friendship. It’s about finding a friend you have everything in common with. And it’s also about unexpectedly losing her.

I read the book in less than 24 hours. It made me miss the intimacy of close female friendships. The kind where you call each other every day and know everything about each other. At this stage in my life I don’t have time for it. I love my friends but there’s not one of them I have the energy to talk to every day, nor them me. E-mail helps.

But I miss it. I didn’t realize how special it was when I had it. When I was single and unencumbered by the dude or the cute people.

This book reminded me how precious friendships are. And how precarious life is.

And yes, how totally healing it is to have a dog. I knew that, but it was nice to be reminded.

I can’t recommend Let’s Take the Long Way Home enough. It’s sad, but also life-affirming. Friendship affirming.

I loved it.

A Writer’s Guilt

I’m up in my office fretting that I should be downstairs. Feeling guilty about holing out in my room. I’ve not done much writing today. The family pull, the feeling of obligation is strong. I’m half downstairs anyway, even when I’m up here.

I give in. Downstairs, Seth is happily playing Wii. Riley is watching him. Todd is playing solitaire on his computer.

I walk over to him.

“I feel guilty.”

“Why?” he asks.

“For being upstairs,” I say.

He looks around at the peaceful scene behind us. Riley on the couch with a blanket. Chihuahua curled up on her lap. Seth happy with Wii remote in hand.

He says the nicest thing anyone could possibly say, “No one misses you.”

Relief washes over me and I laugh, “Thank God.”

I head back upstairs.

Regreso: A Journey

My friend Jen is heading to El Salvador, the country of her birth. She was adopted in 1980 and barely escaped the country’s civil war in which 75,000 Salvadorans were killed. In El Salvador she will be attending a conference to help support LGBT rights there and also making a documentary about her experience.

What must it have been like to narrowly escape such brutality? How does that effect your world view, and your sense of self? What if you are gay? To have come from a place whose LGBT rights are even less than our own here in the U.S. How does that play into it all?

Click on the red “Regreso: A Journey” button above to read more of Jen’s fascinating story and to see the adorable photos of her as a baby and little girl. I know she’s going to rock this documentary, and I know this is going to be a huge transformational journey for her.

I am excited to be able to support LGBT rights globally, in such a personal way.

P.S. Jen has the most powerful and amazing singing voice ever. One time our chorus was performing at the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame for World AIDS Day, and we were the last act of the night. People were starting to trickle out. We began our set with a Jen solo and people who’d been heading home stopped in their tracks. They kinda re-thought things, and decided to stay. Thank you El Salvador. We’ve got one of your treasures.

You’re Okay

By now most of you have probably seen this video of little Jessica doing her positive affirmations in the mirror, just loving herself. I came across the video again the other day. A couple of clicks down the YouTube rabbit hole and there I was, watching Jessica welcome her baby sister.

The baby begins to fuss and Jessica, after a moment of surprise at the sound, begins to soothe her new baby, telling her “You’re okay. You’re okay. You’re fine.”

It’s about the sweetest thing ever.

Isn’t that what all of us really want to know? That we’re okay? That we’re fine? That it’s all going to be alright?

Next time I feel like fussing, I hope I remember Jessica. I hope I tell myself, “You’re okay.”

I hope I remember, I’m fine.

#goodparenting

I kissed a book, and I liked it

Juhi, long time reader of this blog and all around good person (she donated toward Jingle over four years ago!) at Nooks & Crannies tagged me in this meme.

1. Are you genre agnostic or do you read only specific genres? Why?

I am drawn mostly to non-fiction, mostly memoir, but I love to sink my teeth into a good novel every so often. I don’t tend to read fantasy or sci-fi or romance, or mysteries, or anything too scary but I would never rule out entire genres. Like music, if it’s good, it’s good. Doesn’t matter what genre. I’m game. I love to be surprised and inspired. But if I don’t love it immediately, I won’t continue reading. There are too many other good books beckoning.

2. How and who started you on your love affair with the written word?

As a child, Charolette’s Web opened my heart and allowed me to cry. It felt so good to have a reason to cry that made sense when so much of my world was unfathomable and I literally had to be cut off from so many of my feelings in order to survive.

Also Judy Blume. In elementary school I borrowed the books from a friend, as fast as her mother bought them for her and she finished reading them. I would take the books out to my “fort” in the back of our huge barn like garage, and bring a sandwich (ham and American on a hard roll from Jimmy Roma’s bakery), and a blanket, and snuggle up on a cot and read for hours. A layer of dirt covered everything, including the windows. There were cracks in the walls and in the ancient cement floor, and it smelled like an old auto shop, but it was private and quiet and I was in bliss reading back there.

3. What were some of your favourite books as a tween and a teen?

Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret- Judy Blume.

Forever (very racy) – Judy Blume

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Catcher in the Rye. I could relate to Holden Caulfield’s negativity at the time.

I’m also embarrassed to say I read a couple of those awful V.C. Andrews books.

4. Have you found your reading taste change across the years?

Yes. I’m intolerant of gratuitous anything. I’m very conscious about what I take in as a reader these days. (Same with TV and film).

5. What’s your absolute favourite comfort read? Why?

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. It’s got everything. Every word, perfection. Reading it is inhaling inspiration. On a reader level and a writer level. On a human level. Period.

6. Do you think a love for reading automatically leads to a love for writing as well?

No. I have plenty of friends who devour books but feel no call to write. I don’t understand them, but plenty of them exist. I’ve met them in person, seen them with my own eyes.

7. What’s your favourite book/reading memory?

My favorite book is Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. I love the sophistication with which she writes of the unsophisticated. I love the intelligence she depicts in the uneducated. Having dipped my toe in many worlds(class systems in the U.S.), I know that education does not necessarily equal intelligence, and that money does not necessarily equal class. I love the respect she gives to her poor characters. I love her utter unpretentiousness mixed with an otherworldly talent. I love the hilarity in the book. I love the dialect. I love how truthful and inspiring the book is and I love how Janie lived several different lives within one lifetime. I can relate to that.

My favorite reading memory might be when I sat in a reclining beach chair in St. Croix reading Rachel Naomi Remen’s Kitchen Table Wisdom (in between naps). I’d gone to visit a friend who was working on the island. My daughter was in the worst of her autism at that point and had been screaming non-stop for over a year, plus we had an 11 month old baby. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I found the book on my friend’s shelf, just waiting for me to pick it up. Divinely. The inspiring words, the sound of the water, the sun, the nurturing from my friend, all these things healed me.

Now I believe I’m supposed to make up new questions and tag some folks, so here are my questions:

1) What is the quality in a book that makes you want to dive in and keep turning the page?Name a book that demonstrates this quality.

2) What’s the first book you read that made you cry? Why did it make you cry?

3) How has social media impacted your reading/writing time?

4) Have you ever loved a book so much you kissed it? (Not made out with it, but offered it a sweet kiss on it’s cover, like giving a friend a kiss on the cheek)? Yeah…me neither.

5) Describe the ultimate reading conditions for you. Where? What? When? How? Go big.

6) True or false: (Tongue firmly in cheek)

If you can’t be bothered to read to them, you should not have children.

7) Have you or have you not read Daughter of the Drunk at the bar?

If yes, you have completed this meme assignment. If no, scroll to the top of my blog and hit the button with the little girl on the inner tube to purchase your copy(also available in the Kindle Store). That poor girl will be waiting in that inner tube until you do, and frankly her feet are getting waterlogged and wrinkly, and she’s due for some sunscreen, but whatever…that’s on you. No pressure.

I’ll tag, but even if I don’t tag you feel free to join in on the fun. Answer any and all these questions in a blog post or in the comments. MegCarrieDeeKariHollyeAmyLeah, Jenny.

Oh…one last thing, inspired by Nina Badzin, I’m going to add a new page here, keeping track of all the books I read in 2013. The page is titled BILK (books I’d like to kiss).

Happy New Year everyone! Thank you for reading my blog.

Lovedy-duv-duv.