Deep Thoughts and Other Wisdom

No matter how bad your day, someone else’s is worse.

Don’t allow Others to poison the well for you. Withhold judgment and form your own opinion. You may find out that Others were wrong.

Never say never.  Because you don’t know what you don’t know.

Your before picture might be someone’s after.

If you opt out of the process, you don’t get to complain about the result.

Instead of focusing our emotions on anger at those who wrong us, perhaps we should concentrate on gratitude that, in doing so, said individuals have revealed to us their true character and, therefore, have hastened the process for escorting them and their negative energy out of our lives.

Small Kindnesses

When our oldest daughter was about a year old, we stopped for dinner at a family restaurant after a long day in the car.  Our baby was tired and cranky, and I became increasingly upset as other diners turned to stare, making it clear that a toddler’s justifiable fussing was ruining their dinner.

My husband and I tried to soothe and distract her, and I ended up taking her outside to walk until she finally fell asleep on my shoulder. Back inside the restaurant and near tears from the dagger-like stares of other patrons, I concluded that I was the worst parent in world history.

Just then, a couple, who were about the age I am now, got up to leave, and as they did they stopped by our table to complement our beautiful daughter and to congratulate us on our patient and loving care of her. “Such good parents,” the woman said, and her husband agreed. Those words, and their smiles, enfolded me like a warm blanket.

That kindness and affirmation meant everything to me at that moment, and its spirit has lived with me daily in the 27 years that have passed since that day. I’m certain that our daughter was nowhere near as obstreperous in reality as it seemed in that moment, but neither was I a model parent.

Still, that couple did something that I have endeavored to do ever since: They looked for the best in me, and in praising what I had not yet become, helped me grow into what I always hoped to be.

From that day onward, I have looked for opportunities to recognize the effort to become, the desire to be better, the determination to grow into the person one aspires to be. Whether in the grocery check-out line chatting with a tired mother of little ones, or someone in despair, or a young person looking to make their way in the world, we can all be the voice of kindness and gentle encouragement, especially when things aren’t working out.

It’s easy to be that person. One small kindness can transform someone’s day, or even their entire perception of themselves. That couple who did it for me all those years ago? I don’t know their names, but I wish I did so I could thank them. They saw the mother I wanted to be, and in so doing, helped me to become. It made all the difference in the world to me.

Every day, I try to be that person.

It feels really good.

Choice and the 63 Million

Pro-Choice advocates are appropriately concerned about recent laws enacted in Georgia, Alabama and Missouri that effectively outlaw abortion under any circumstances and would imprison physicians who perform them.

These laws are unconstitutional. All sitting Supreme Court Justices testified under oath during their confirmation hearings that, consistent with stare decisis (the bedrock principle of our judicial system) they would uphold the precedent of Roe v. Wade, as that is a matter of settled law.

If the justices act as they have promised they would (so help them God), these laws represent an obstacle for women seeking legal abortion – no small thing – but ultimately one which is temporary.

If the justices do not act as they have promised they would (so help them God), then Roe is overturned and states are free to enact legislation outlawing abortion.

We all know what happens next: Unsafe, life-threatening back alley abortions for the poor; safe, “therapeutic” D & C’s for the rich. Same as it ever was.

There isn’t much any of us can do to influence the make-up of the Supreme Court…that ship sailed 2 1/2 years ago when 63 million Americans put their faith in an unhinged narcissist whose single consideration in all things is, which choice will inure to me greater power and total control?

What we can do is make sure he doesn’t get re-elected, which, given his behavior thus far, shouldn’t be a tall order, except it turns out that our country is a lot more racist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic than anyone ever suspected.

And then there are those lawmakers in Georgia and Alabama. They didn’t just wake up one morning as legislator or governor…someone elected them. A whole lot of people, actually, and one must assume that those people are okay with ending a woman’s right to choose whether or not she wants to have a child, even if that decision was foisted upon her by a rapist.

And so I guess what I’m saying is, if you don’t like where we are headed, then thank the good people of Alabama, Georgia, and the 63 million who elected a king.

Me? I’m proud to be one of the 66 Million.

Love Beyond Words

Love is love is love. And then more love.

Love beyond words.

If we fill our hearts and souls with love…

…how can we fail to fulfill our purpose?

On Mother’s Day, If You Care About Mothers…

It’s Mother’s Day…time for all who have mothers to be guilted into buying florid, ornate greeting cards, wildly overpriced flowers, or jewelry chain store bling, so as to check off that box.

A time for some politicians, in a transparent act of pandering, to wax rhapsodic about the importance of mothers while enacting legislation that limits reproductive choice, gutting critical educational programs and funding, lifting regulations intended to address the impact of climate change, repealing the ACA, all while enabling children to be gunned down in school day after day after day.

If you care about mothers, support their right to make family planning decisions free from the threat of criminal liability.

If you care about mothers, make sure their children have access to quality education.

If you care about mothers, work to guarantee that their children will have a healthy planet on which to live.

If you care about mothers, insist that they can assure their child’s good health by demanding affordable health care.

Finally, if you care about mothers, scream at the top of your voice for sensible gun control, so that those mothers don’t end up burying their children.

Or you can just buy a card and call it a day.

Gratitude for My Imperfection

Love is love is love.

How blessed am I that my life is not #perfect.

I believe god loves…

…the disabled
…the LGBT community
…the poor
…the sick
…those who are in prison
…those of you who are perfect

I’m not perfect. I’m so flawed. But to those who are all that god calls us to be, be gentle with me. I’m trying.

Thank god for my frailties and imperfections, for they provide endless opportunities to be better.

The Sound of Helicopters

Let me be the sound of helicopters.

Let me be the person I needed when I was younger.

Let me be the shoulders others stand on.

Let me be of service to those in need.

Let me be filled with kindness, compassion, patience and humility.

Let me be grateful for my enormous blessings and privilege.

Let me be worthy of the bounty of my life.

The Truth About Autism

We recently began watching a TV series in which two parents learn that their son is on the Autistic Spectrum. They freak out. They cry a lot. They act like assholes.

Over the course of several episodes, they consult a specialist because he’s the best, then challenge him…like assholes…when they hear the news that their son is, indeed, autistic. They push their way into a school for kids on the spectrum and berate the director when she tells them the school simply has no openings…perhaps because the school wants to make sure it can meet the needs of the kids who are already enrolled. They eventually get their way, and their kid jumps the line…because his parents are assholes.

They hire a therapeutic behavioralist and immediately challenge her methods, then complain about how much her services cost, but ultimately everyone is happy because now the wife can stop faking her orgasms. Yes. They’re assholes.

It’s a TV show. It’s targeted at people who are 20 years younger than I am. The life lessons it seeks to teach are ones I learned a long time ago, and I can spot most of the conflict coming thirty seconds after the theme music has ended. So, it’s not my thing, and, also, it’s a TV show. Some of it is probably pretty accurate. Some of it is probably relatable. But most of the parents are assholes.

When we found out Allie was autistic, we freaked out, too. There was a whole year where I thought I could “fix” her if only I could combine the perfect combination of therapy, interventions, equipment and a rigorous home program.

This was in the 90’s, mind you. Before Autism Speaks, before the blue puzzle piece logo, before most people knew anything. There was almost nothing in the way of support, and for five years I went from doctor to doctor practically screaming, “tell me what’s wrong!” only to be told there was nothing wrong.

They were wrong.

Allie was diagnosed at 5. It took us 4 years to get an appointment with the only autism specialist in Philadelphia, and during those 4 years we tried to figure it out for ourselves. By the time we got in to see the specialist, she basically told us that she had nothing to offer us other than her seal of approval for the team we had cobbled together for Allie – the occupational therapists and speech therapists, the educators at the school we couldn’t afford but sent Allie to anyway, and the medical specialists (neurology, psychiatry), the behavioral specialist and the TSS and wraparound service people, the meds, the homemade equipment to address sensory integration issues. It was pretty much the best we could do.

Allie is now almost 25. It has already been a long road. She’s been so fortunate to have had outstanding, tireless advocates in the form of teachers and therapists and our dear friends who have loved her and supported her. She had 4 years at a specialized sleepaway camp for kids on the spectrum, and she spent a difficult year in a remote corner of West Virginia with virtually zero support from the faculty at her equine studies program, buoyed only by the amazing young woman we hired who became her champion.

Allie now works at a therapeutic equine program that has embraced her as part of their family, and where she knows and loves each horse as a dear friend. She works part time at a movie theatre. She’s in a book club. She’s the adoring owner of a ginger Maine Coon cat who is almost as beautiful as she is. She’s pretty amazing.

Of course no one rejoices when they are told their child will almost certainly struggle every day of their life, and no one jumps for joy when they think about how hard it will be that their kid is going to be different in ways that may profoundly impact how – or whether – others value them.

So, I get that these parents on this TV show freaked out, because, of course they did, and who wouldn’t, and it’s really dumb to get pissed off by a TV show that exists mainly to sell advertising and generate revenue, and no one ever watched a network television show and said, “that precisely reflects my actual life experience, without comedic or dramatic embellishment.”


But here’s my point: People often behave as though autism is a fate worse than virtually anything else that could befall their child, ever. Worse than being blind, or losing a limb, or getting cancer. The fear of autism is so great that many people refuse to vaccinate their kids against DISEASES THAT CAN KILL YOU on the basis of a thoroughly discredited “scientific study” and the say-so of a Playboy centerfold model who got her medical degree from the University of Oh, That’s Right, I’m an Asshole.

My daughter has autism, and guess what? It’s no more and no less a part of her than her startlingly beautiful sapphire eyes, her grace while trotting her horse in a dressage ring, the earnest pride she takes in being a reliable worker, or her determination to lead a meaningful life. Freak out all you want, asshole TV character parents, but even though you aren’t real, I wish I could meet up with you when your TV kid is 25 and ask you whether you’d want him to be anything but what he is.

My Allie is everything I ever hoped she would be – she is hardworking, honest, kind, and empathic. She is loving and silly and a good cook. She has a frighteningly exhaustive memory and looks great in a Carhart coverall. She’s our Boops, our Lissie, our Rosebud. And she’s perfect just the way she is.

A Prayer for Possibility

What a gift is time.
Time to grieve, time to heal.
Time to grow, time to learn.
Time to forgive, time to be forgiven.
Time to get it right. Time to do the right thing, finally.
Time to become the person you always hoped you would be.
Time for gratitude and humility.
Time, always, to give our best and most fervent love,
And daily be renewed with all this beautiful world has to offer.
As long as we draw breath, there is time, and hope, and infinite possibility.
Thank you.