Sunday, July 25, 2010

Seeing and Perspective

A lot has happened over the past week, and I'm not quite as quick at processing as I once was. Or maybe I am taking the time now to thoroughly investigate some things that I've glossed over in the past. Probably the latter; as I get older, I realize that there are many small gifts and blessings tucked away in daily living that can be easily missed if one isn't paying attention.

I find joy in these things, but my only regret is that it took me this long to realize that.

Anyway, sight is on my mind, since hubby and I are now firmly in bifocal territory (sob)--he had the temerity to laugh at my pronouncement, and then got his own and that ended the teasing.

Lectoring mass last week allowed me to reconnect with Fr M, and we're hoping to get him over for dinner in August. I told the kids they needed to behave, and Nic insisted on sitting directly in Fr M's line of sight. It's not lost on me that this kid knows how to sit in a movie theater, but I still need to coach (nag) him to sit correctly in church. G somehow gets it, but Nic is a tough nut.

But then I think of how Nic interacted this week on our numerous outings and think that he really looked like anyone else there--at least if you didn't listen too closely to him. G was in his own happy little world, but that's just the way G rolls, and he is good with it.

But when it's just family, or people he's comfortable with, the real Nic emerges. Or at any rate, the one he *really* embraces. I sigh and hope it's a phase (inwardly) while I outwardly harden my face and deal him the consequences. Maddeningly enough, he always enjoys what we are doing, then he catches himself having a good time and has to complain about what we're *not* doing.

Which brings me back to my responsibilities to him as a parent: I feel like there is always so much to *work* on, but sometimes in choosing the daily battles, sometimes days go by where I am reminded of other things that need work and improvement. Then I focus on those, until I am reminded (again) of other things that require my attention.

I guess this is the other reason I have slowed down; it's also easy to miss the teachable moments when speeding through life. And the thing is that EVERYTHING is a teachable moment.

I do my best, but every day, that bar goes up.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I can't shake the feeling that I and my family are on the verge of another big change. As tough as some of the going has been this summer, I am amazed, continue to be amazed, at the strides both boys make.

Nic had a great time with J and A at the pool. He was looking forward to seeing them, and was engaged playing with them both for at least 45 minutes before he headed to the lazy river. G was on his own, but made some friends on the sprinkler. I had some nice time with my friend C, and for the first time since we started going to that pool three summers ago (I even wrote about it here), I actually relaxed and had a good time.

Because I could.

How far we have come.

We just got back from a nice dinner and evening with friends. I'll chase the kids upstairs in a couple minutes. But first, I just wanted to bask in the glow.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Apparently, I need to be reminded that I don't know it all. Because every time I hit a peak like Friday, I bowl headlong into a valley.

Like yesterday evening.

The boys and I enjoyed a mellow day at the library and to see Toy Story 3 again, and I told them we needed to stop off at the store. I didn't expect that such a routine run to our local supermarket was going to turn into dinner and a show, but Nic had something else in mind.

It would have been fine if he hadn't waited until we were in the supermarket to tell me he had to go to the bathroom. I reminded him that we had a very short list and we would be home in literally five minutes.

The show began at checkout. As I was paying for and bagging our order, Nic backed up into the area in front of check out and announced he REALLY REALLY had to go!! The cashier had helpfully told us the location of the restroom. And Nic continued to stand there shouting that he couldn't go without an ADULT.

Under ordinary circumstances, I just would have finished the transaction and walked out, forcing Nic to follow. However, G had already followed the cashier's directions to the bathroom--which was at the back of the store.

So, I leave my cart at the front, follow G to the back, with Nic trailing and howling all the way to the bathroom. If this were as bad as it got, that would have been fine.

But the bathroom had a hand dryer. Ergo, Nic, already wound too tight to function, refused to go. I thought we had conquered the fear of the hand dryer anyway, but Nic schooled me to the contrary.

I hissed that we could have been home by now, using our own bathroom, if he hadn't pulled this stunt (and if I hadn't had to retrieve G, who had dutifully followed the cashier's directions). And I ordered him to keep quiet about not using the bathroom, because he had caused enough of a ruckus.

But no. Nic had to announce loudly to a fresh audience of shoppers (plus the repeat audience of staff) that he COULDN'T use the bathroom because of the HAND-DRYER, and he is TERRIFIED of hand dryers!


In the post mortem and hailstorm of tears that followed, Nic correctly identified my primary emotion and corrected me when we spoke of it later.

"Do you understand why I was upset?"

"You weren't upset--you were angry," Nic pointed out.

I can't argue. This is the kid I brag on, yet he is capable of Oscar-caliber work when he has made up his mind that he's done performing for my--and everyone else's--benefit. He works hard to keep himself together all week, and he has fashioned a beautifully sculpted face to show the world. But introduce hunger, exhaustion, or (as I found out the hard way) urinary urgency, the fault-lines open to chasms.

If that didn't provide us with enough excitement, G spent a good chunk of the night wailing over the porcelain god with stomach upset and a fever. Dinner did not stay down, and he wailed that the upper inside of his cheek was killing him (although I couldn't see anything for looking, although a dose of Anbesol made it feel better).

Getting back to Nic, he knows I expect great things of him. But I do think on some level that he needs to pushback. And what happened last night served as an important reminder to me that ultimately, he owns his own actions and behavior, for better or for worse.

He is beginning to understand that, but he doesn't fully understand what the ownership of his own actions means. And I expect he'll find that out over the next few years the hard way.

I can't make him care about what other people think of his escapades. I sometimes fear he never will.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Little Gifts Satisfy the Soul

As I headed west on the PA turnpike for my speaking gig last night, I pondered what I'd eat for dinner. An eye appointment delayed my departure, and it was already too late to eat with my family. I spied a rest area sign, and on it was Roy Rogers, a rare find anywhere these days.

Roy Rogers! I couldn't help but grin. We belonged to the buckeroo club, the five of us, and got a free soda with our meal every Sunday. As part of our rituals, my mom would take us to lunch at Roy's then either the local airport or the mall after. And I always got a roast beef sandwich.

My mouth watered at the thought of one of those sandwiches.

I stopped in for that and a baked potato (a tip of the hat to my metabolism), and that sandwich was The. Best. Ever. It says something that it was past 7 and last time I ate was around 11 am. But anyway.

When I get to the hotel, I am pleased to discover that it has an indoor pool. Nirvana! I lost no time in changing and hurrying to the pool.

I used to do lots of laps; last night, I did some, I floated some, I dove some, but for the most part, I just hung out there in the pool. And a hot shower after. AH!!!

So when I called hubby at 10 with the kids shouting in the background, he snapped "you already had several glasses of wine, didn't you?"

I laughed, too mellow to be affronted. "I just came in from the pool. AND a hot shower."

"Oh." Pause. "You sound great."


After I rang off with him, I pannicked as I looked at the questions I'd be answering in the panel discussion this morning. Did I REALLY know what I wanted to say? What was I supposed to say?

Thank God for the functional desktop in the lobby and Google is all I can say.

And it went awesome. I am so happy with the day. Time to go home, get the boys, and get rolling on the weekend....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Long Road Home

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~Steve Jobs

I just finished reading Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo, which my Sherpa loaned me a few weeks ago. Although time permits me to read fewer books than I like, I choose my reading most carefully, with pleasing results.

Although it is a work of fiction, it's factual in its larger truth. God is, but we choose our own paths. Every day, in a thousand ways, we choose good or bad, and those seemingly inconsequential decisions add up to our individual characters.

For example, my getting dragged back to terra firma happened because I let my reaction to what some one said about me (which was untrue) run away with me. Certainly, that was not the first time this has happened. And the resulting cloud of dust obscured my way. And I stumbled. And fell a few more times.

And then, as I hit ground and lay there moaning, a passage of the book reminded me that every day, every moment, we have a choice to go light, or go dark. As those choices to go to the light become easier, we thus begin to walk our long road home.

So I made my choice, and this was easier than the last time. And making that choice put everything back in alignment. But it did have me going back to check on people who put me in this same position a few years ago. One is a savvy (if not cycnical) business woman and the other is a poseur. For them, nothing has changed, for good or ill.

But I find myself grateful to them. Because for whatever hurt they have done to me, the results of their actions have given me a new direction, and my life has been given a new meaning. What struck me then as a grievous mistake has become over time a powerful life lesson that has guided me true the last few years.

To choose to not learn from your mistakes is the only bad choice.

The rest is to follow the light, choose light, and only then can you begin to walk the long road home.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Internally Aligned Once Again

The crashing, banging and thudding along the pavement continued all day yesterday into yesterday evening. It's one thing when you don't DO right; it's quite another when things don't GO right. I am reminded that there is more to the universe than insofar as it serves my tiny little purpose.

But I need the reminder.

I went to bed last night conflicted; I awoke with a clear head, a clear mind, and a clear purpose this morning. I delayed my entry to work and advised my team that I would be doing so. And I performed all the tasks that needed my attention.

I got the boys' bags ready for their days as I always do, but they were delighted that I was in the kitchen, serving up the chocolate chip banana bread I baked for them last night.

As I headed out to my 9 o'clock meeting, hubby stopped me--to sign about a half dozen papers, much to my annoyance.

"You couldn't have me do this last night, when we were sitting and talking about this?" I asked.

"It's not 9 o'clock yet," came his somewhat startled reply. Right. It was 10 minutes to.

"My meeting STARTS at 9," I snapped.

My phone rings and it's one of my compatriots. I tell her that I'll be there when I get there.

And I get there. And I realize, yet again, that I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to be doing.

The hawks I see in the rain coming in to the office remind me that my way is straight and true. And I am gloriously, blessedly busy when I get to my desk.

I exhale, and am grateful that once again, my head and heart are both exactly where they need to be.

Monday, July 12, 2010


If you heard a sonic boom over the weekend, chances are better than not you heard me descending back into the atmosphere, tumbling end over end until at last I hit the ground with a muffled explosion and puff of dust.

I'm still coughing up dirt.

Figuratively speaking of course, although I do feel a bit bruised, shaken, and otherwise disoriented. The kids and I passed a good enough weekend with friends in Maryland, although it was a bit marred by Nic and G's taking turns acting out while we were out and about.

Good things: we saw Despicable Me (cute movie), went to a museum and a playground on Saturday and went to DC on Sunday. Nic really enjoyed the American Indian museum and botanical gardens. We did have a blow up when he loaded up his tray 'with all the foods I like best' and presented me with a $46 bill at the eatery in the National Gallery (that little stunt cost his computer for the month and he has to work off the difference he owes me for lunch).

I remind myself that it's all a learning experience, and he will never do that again. But I will never turn my back on him for a minute in a cafeteria setting, either. (what happened was that I made the mistake of thinking about what I wanted for lunch, and I thought I was safe because I had already picked up pizza for him. Heh)

I bagged the leftovers, and that was dinner on the way home.

I have to keep in mind that life is not always perfect, and that the best teachable moments come from crashing and burning up in the atmosphere, in much the same way I've been doing the last few days.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Superpowers and Autism

I had about a dozen or so people message me over the last 24 hours about the duck boat accident and the prescience of Nic's reaction to being on it. I'm trying not to read too much into the fact that it happened within an hour of being exactly six weeks since we were on it.

And I'm trying not to read too much into the fact that this is not the first time something like this has happened.

As much as I worry about my kids being able to survive in the world, it never ceases to amaze me how their almost otherworldy perception seems to catch them both when their own senses about other people and things fail them.

So the question, then: how do I teach them to hone this? Or do I let them learn on their own? Do I try to explain this to them, or do I let them come to me with questions, if any?

My own finely tuned sensibilities have only come as a result of my own experience and little to no external guidance.

I don't know. I don't know. All I know is that I had a couple of dozen people let me know that Nic was in their thoughts yesterday when they heard about the Ducks accident.

"And life is not without risk," dad reminded me late last night.

I know. It's a fine line between managing risk and living free.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ducks and Wineberries

I've been running at full bore since 5:30 am but needed to type a few things.....

Good: in the greenspace that surrounds where I work, I was happy to note the crop of wild wineberries blooming along the bike path last week. In spite of the scorching hot temperatures yesterday, I paused a little on the way back from my meeting, laptop on shoulder, heels and skirt, wading through the underbrush and putting berries in a cup.

I haven't done that in years, since before I had Nic. I had a nice little harvest, listening to the birds, with the weight of my laptop reminding me that I needed to get back to it....

And I need to type a few lines about the Duck Tour boat that was hit by the barge in the Delaware this afternoon. Nic's cries and protestations that day about six weeks ago now seem oddly prophetic, given that it was exactly 6 weeks ago within an hour that we were on that Duckboat.

I wonder if the kid who was making fun of Nic's upset knows about this, and what happened.

I pray for the safe return of the missing. And sigh. And wonder about everything Nic knows that the rest of us don't......

Watched Toy Story 3 with the boys tonight. Got a postcard from G's AS teacher letting me know she is retiring. Talked another mom off her ledge about the same message she got via the mail today.

So much bitter in my sweet today. Sad. Tired.

Tomorrow is another day. Prayers for the missing, wounded and hurting tonight.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Good Stuff in Waking Life

In the real world, Nic experienced a huge milestone. Yesterday, as we sat and waited for the parade to come down our street, Nic caught sight of a girl he has a crush on.

"Mom! There's M--! Can I go sit with her?"

Holy cow, REALLY?? "Um, yeah," I answered nonplussed, but thinking quickly. "But you better ask if it's okay, first."

Nic bolted across the street, and I marveled at how fast he can move when he's motivated. He sprinted back, beaming triumphantly. "She said yes!"

I nodded. "Okay, don't forget your water and chair."

He gathered these up and bolted back to the lawn tent her family set up. I noted he was sitting in the sun and hadn't put block on. I hated to do the mom thing, but I did.

"You need this," I told his questioning look, and he helped me put on his sunblock withot a word of complaint. M looked on and I glanced over at her and smiled. "Thanks for inviting Nic over."

"Oh, no problem," she answered, smiling. Really a sweet girl, I can see why Nic likes her.

A big deal: Nic with friends watching the parade while G and I sat with people we sort of knew from around. G had about a half dozen people come up and say hello to him; I chatted with the older man who parked his chair next to mine. Hubby eventually rolled up and stood with us, and when he realized Nic was elsewhere, he spent most of the rest of the parade keeping an eye on him, or looking for him, or worrying about him.

"Honey," I reminded him. "This is *normal*."

He huffed. "She's too nice to him."

I was quiet a moment, thinking of all the people who weren't kind to him at all. "Enjoy it. He is."


It was late; the sun shone high in the sky, and I drove in a city hadn't been to in a while, but the impending urgency that comes with the the knowledge that tempus fugit crowded out any pleasure I might have otherwise derived from familiar surroundings.

In waking life, this landscape resembled University City meets Northeast Philadelphia.

In dreamtime, I'm frantic. I'm due to meet up with my brother and sister in law on the other side of the river, and my short cuts are actually delaying me.

Hubby refrains from comment, which is how I know this is a dream. :)

We find ourselves at an underground garage; the bridge I had figured we would use to cross the river is closed to cars. Hubby and I look at one another, and I tell him to park the car.

Meanwhile, we are in an ante room of some kind, and Tosca is on the screen. We are late, but the baritone singing Scarpia's role (sounds like Bryn Terfel meets Samuel Ramey; looks like my Sherpa's hubby) has me captivated as he sings Te Deum. Hubby is urging me to go, but as late as we are, I just *have* to watch and listen.......

I jerk awake and look at the clock with a groan. I should have been out the door and on the road ten minutes by now. I race downstairs, put on the coffee, make the kids' lunches, race back upstairs, throw on my clothes (and thank God Nic bullied me into taking my shower the night before), wake hubby, and race out the door.

Except I forgot something. A couple somethings--my name badge, and both cars are running on fumes.

I mutter, get the badge, get on the road, stop for gas, and note that the road is filled with people similarly dazed. It does feel like a Monday.

Still, my raptor compatriots are at their posts, and I see them, and know it's going to be a good day anyway, odd dreams and oversleeping notwithstanding. I'm learning not to let the little annoyances wreck my mood; in fact, I find good in them, because there is, in fact a reason for everything.

And I am at a point in life where I feel like I don't have to know what those reasons are. That they are, is sufficient.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ostentatious Spirituality

I need to write a few lines about this. I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but it isn't really. Think about all the flavors of books and seminars out there that range from the ultra conservative to the woo-woo New Age thinking that, at the bottom line, seeks to separate seekers from their money.

It blows my mind how many people fall for this crap. All in the name of seeking enlightenment.

My own faith and spirituality lies in the sum of my experiences--and as it should be. Every one has their own unique belief system that is the sum of their experiences. I can't tell you how and what to believe any more than you can tell me. Because there IS no one right answer.

Ironically, those who espouse different dogmas at heart but have their own systems of belief have more in common at their core with me than anyone who claims to be any one thing or another.

My thought du jour is this; embrace the experiences and opportunities of every day. Bad experiences serve two purposes; they teach, and they exist to remind you of your blessings, and of all that is good in your life. So 'bad' experiences, are, in their way, good. If you know how to appreciate them for what they are.

Every day is a blessing. Every connection you make is a blessing. Live. Love. Laugh. Do it all early and often.

(and that didn't cost you anything but your time).

Go in peace, and pay it forward.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Literal House Needs Order!

The big downside of working out of the home is that my house is looking more bomb-hit than usual.

The big upside is that we are all very busy and content, enjoying each other and life. Nic has taken to getting pushed outside his comfort zone, and as always, G is happy to be wherever he is.

I am happy to find myself doing whatever we are doing on a given day; we have a pretty good mix of continuing our elevator adventures, golf outings and miscellaneous fun and getting together with friends. Yesterday we spent a very pleasant afternoon and evening with friends, last week we similarly spent a Friday evening swimming, playing and talking, and it just looks like these good times will stretch on through the summer.

It just all feels good. But for this morning, I really do need to clean. Windows are open, birds are singing, time to get the coffee on and get busy!

(Thank you God for another beautiful day!)

Thursday, July 1, 2010


It's the start of a new month, and I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. I fueled my drive into work with purpose and caffeine, having left the house with the kids' bags packed, lunches made, chocolate chip muffins baked, laundry done and folded, AND my draft submitted for feedback.

My hawk perched in plain sight as I drove onto the turnpike. I smiled. The hawk always means good things.

I just discovered that some things I have let sit actually need to be left to one side, which never happens. :)

The kids continue to do well in their respecitve programs. Nic, by virtue of the fact that he is doing so much on his own and without support, is blowing me away. Not that he is having such an easy time of it, but that he is out there on his own, making his own way, is not something I thought would be happening so soon. I am so proud of him.

And my little one was adorable this am; he wanted me to cuddle with him--until he discovered that I baked muffins for breakfast.

"Okay, mom," he told me. "You can get up now."

He has his priorities straight, that one.