# 1 tip for photographing rental units, get out of the shot.

Nice garage, but I don’t want to rent the place if that guy is going to be hanging around.

We are going to be renting soon, and I am looking at apartments and rental homes through a realtor and also seeing what I can find on Craigslist. What I’m finding are a lot of men in the shots.

Dude, seriously?

It goes on and on and honestly, it ain’t selling the places. It’s kind of creepy. They look like ghosts.

Someone’s in the microwave…

Et tu Fido?

Woof.

We found the perfect house to rent the other day, and we were about two hours too late. Our only hope is that the first applicant’s credit is lousy. And of course I would never wish that on anyone, right? Sigh.

The search continues.

They’re My Home

We are losing our entire life savings in this move. Not that we had true “life savings.” Our life savings was our equity in our home, and there is no longer any equity. The market has dropped so profoundly since we bought it. Our sweet house doesn’t seem to even be worth what we owe on it.

We had one offer, and the deal fell through. A short sale isn’t too far off for us. Foreclosure is not out of the question.

I have been struggling. Struggling to keep the house “show ready” for two months. Struggling with the unknowns of where we will live, and when we will leave. The only sure things are the schools. Both are set. Todd has interviews next week which will narrow some things down as far as location for rentals to explore.

I’ve been struggling with feelings of victimhood. How is it possible that we who have been so responsible with our money, could walk away from Cleveland with nothing? We who have lived modestly, we who did not take out a mortgage we could not afford, we who have never been late with a bill in our lives, could be in this predicament? How is it fair that we’ve had to pay out of pocket for almost everything medical for over a decade and at the same time pay for medical insurance we’ve hardly been able to take advantage of because autism isn’t covered?

My ego is bruised when I see (or imagine) the cushy lives of friends, who have been in the same house for their childrens whole childhoods, who probably have it almost paid off, who have some semblance of financial security, who have community that sticks.

Off we go again.

I’m alternately ill and thrilled over the prospect of renting. Ill because it’s not what I expected at this point in our lives. I’m having to take a real look at myself and question any beliefs I have about my personal value as a person being tied up in what kind of home I live in. Previously I would have scoffed that I had any of that, but there it is. Right there bobbing on the surface. I’m not above it. HGTV doesn’t help. I have turned that channel off, for good. Having come from a place of poverty, I fear it. I never want to live in a shit hole again. I’m shit hole averse. As are most, I would think. Who chooses to live in a shit hole? I digress. Of course we won’t live in a shit hole.

Thrilled because no maintenance. Freedom. The possibility of living close to the beach. And thrilled for the very reason we are going. The possibilities for our darling girl. Big things in store for her, and for Seth. His new school looks to be fantastic as well. I know it is going to be a wonderful adventure. I know it is going to be good. I know we are so fortunate to be able to put our kids into two private schools, no matter where we wind up living. I know we are fortunate that it is relatively easy for us to find work. Knock on wood.

HT and I have had some of the dooziest fights of our marriage in the last couple of months, and we have weathered them and come through the other side. We’ve let go of a lot of fear in the process. We’re okay. We’re back on the same team, being gentle with each other.

I know financially we are starting over, but we have so much more than so many and I have to remember how truly fortunate we are to be able to uproot and do this. There has never been something we’ve wanted to do for the kids well-being that we have not figured out how to do. I really have no problems.

Lately in moments I least expect it, a memory keeps floating through and tapping me on the shoulder. We were on an Alaskan cruise. Riley was eight. Seth was six. It was night. We were in our cabin, no bigger than a shoe box. Seth was asleep on the bunk above us. Riley was on the little fold out couch at the foot of our bed. Todd was snuggled up spooning me. The ocean was rocking us to sleep. All of my loves were within an arm’s reach.

It felt womb-like. The love. I had everything I needed. I’d never been happier.

All was well.

All will be well.

All is well.

Amen.

Take Your Head Out of the Sand

When Riley was three, I was attending a weekly meeting to discuss A Course in Miracles. I’d found the book a couple of years prior, and dabbled. I felt better every time I picked it up and read a little. It was at this challenging point in my life that I began studying it in earnest, and it got me through a very rough time and truly informed my spirituality. It still does.

There were anywhere from a dozen to two dozen who showed up at those meetings, and at least three of us (all women) had a kid on the spectrum, though I had not faced it yet. Two men had challenging sons. I don’t know if they were diagnosed with anything or not.

I would share my troubles, week after week, about this kid that screamed and cried for no reason, and finally one day, one of the women whose own son had already been through it said to me,

“Your doctor has not helped her. You need to take your head out of the sand. This kid sounds exactly like mine did, and she is hurting.  You might want to see the doctor we see.”

Blunt.

Her son is a few years older than Riley and one for whom removing dairy and wheat had a transformative effect. He oozed pus out of his nose until his system cleared of it. He “woke up” from a foggy haze just getting those foods out of his system. They’d also done chelation and a bunch of other interventions that helped him even more. He was getting better, and she was transforming herself spiritually, working on deep forgiveness in every area of her life.

Our regular pediatrician had advised us to simply, “Tell Riley she’s making a big deal out of nothing.”

And, “Kids have tantrums, and it is up to you to set limits.”

He was clueless as to what we were really dealing with, what that little girl was living.

“She’s fine. She has advanced speech.”

At three and a half she was having panic attacks and had the self-care skills of an 18 month old, but whatever. She could talk.

“You need to take your head out of the sand.”

If it had been anyone else to tell me to “take my head out of the sand,” I would have been offended and might have turned in the opposite direction. It was shocking. It stung.

“You need to take your head out of the sand.”

But it opened a door.

I knew she was coming from a place of love. I knew she cared about me and my child. I knew her kid had gotten better. I knew he used to be “just like Riley.”

Take

your

head

out

of

the

sand.

Sometimes, it’s just the thing we need to hear.

Witness

Last night was the 8th grade graduation at Riley’s school. Riley is in 7th grade, but she really wanted to go. It was her birthday yesterday…13! And she wanted nothing more than to spend her evening seeing her 8th grade friends graduate. It was a very beautiful and emotional ceremony. Every one of the kids had faced challenges due to their learning differences. Every one of them had walked a very long and brave road to have come this far and be off to high school next year. The graduates each created a power point presentation set to music, including baby photos and photos of when they first arrived at the school(some were so tiny), and shared some of their favorite memories there. Being in a room full of special needs parents, knowing how hard they have worked to get their children to this point in their lives. Teachers were crying. Parents were crying. At one part of the ceremony, each student took a single rose and presented it to their parents. Be still my heart.

In the row in front of us, left to right, there was what appeared to be a mom, a ten year old brother, a step-mom and a dad. Mom and dad, furthest apart from each other. When their daughter approached the row with her rose, they all stood up, and the step-mom backed up ever so slightly, allowing the mom to get in there. She was respectful that this was the other woman’s daughter, and bowed out for the moment. And the mom and dad hugged their child, who had come so very, very far.

And then, not two seconds into the hug, the mom turned and reached out her arm and pulled the step-mom into the circle, and they all embraced.

And then the girl was off and back to the group of graduates at the front, and the row in front of me sat down, and the mom held her long stemmed rose. And she smiled and inhaled it.

And then, she reached across little brother, and offered it to step-mom’s nose, and she too inhaled it deeply, and they just kind of acknowledged each other again with their eyes, and then the moment was over and it was on with the ceremony.

The whole transaction was between the two women. The dad was kind of oblivious to it, his eyes focused on his daughter, up front.

Love for a child.

It’s a powerful thing.