Tuesday, January 13, 2009


From the pain comes the dream.
From the dream comes the vision.
From the vision come the people.
From the people comes the power.
From this power comes the change.
(Peter Gabriel - good catch, NBF, Wanda!)

I've blogged before about my "grief is like a Slinky" theory, but just in case you missed it, it's pretty much just like it sounds: Grief is like a Slinky. It’s one circle on another circle on another circle, all coiling, wrapping, winding and leading their way to the end: Acceptance. The grief (of whatever/whomever you’re letting go of) cycles around and around, almost always catching you by surprise when it feels like you’re back at the beginning again, and you feel disappointed because you thought you’d come so far.

Well, you have come far; you’re just not done. You’ve completed more cycles and are moving towards healing/acceptance with every turn. That feeling of being back at the beginning again is just the beginning of the next layer, but not the very, very, beginning.

That’s my theory.

May not be true for everyone, but it’s true for me.

Well, I think STM and I completed a few major rotations round the ol' Slinky today as we visited the SCHOOL THAT GETS IT. We went up to Washington Monday to belatedly celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary (plus 6 years of dating means I've been with this man over 1/2 my life, but who's counting?). We had a really nice time, laughing, hanging out, and remembering why we got married in the first place. Note to self: Do this more often.

This morning we woke up early and headed over to TSTGI, and OMHOG, do they GET IT! I was all prepared, had my yellow legal pad all full of questions and room to write their responses. I'd done my homework, there was nothing they could say or do that would make ME lose my composure! I was just there on a fact finding mission, for God's sake, not to be TOUCHED! You see, we are hoping to replicate TSTGI here in Portland, and STM and I are the self-appointed ambassadors (read: Most desperate).

For a full five minutes I was business like. I think it was when the director (who happens to have a daughter in the program), said they rely on peer tutors, and she has testimonial after testimonial of the profound, and long-reaching impact this program has on the "typicals," that I started crying. For the first time.

When the principal stopped what he was doing and joined us for 45 minutes I held it together, until he said, "This is not a program for 20 kids. This is a program for 615 kids, 100 teachers/staff, and hundreds of parents. This is a program for this entire community." When I started thinking of just how far those ripples spread, from this community to the greater community, to the greater state, region, county and beyond, it quickly turned into an ugly cry.

Five other programs have been started with this school as its model - one parent last MARCH got a bee in her bonnet and had a program in place in AUGUST. The director gave me all the contact information, and I can't wait to call tomorrow. My new best friend is a phone call away.

As we toured the school the director spotted a young woman. "A.," she called, "come meet the Links." A well composed, highly articulate, self-confident senior approached us, and warmly shook our hands. "The Links are hoping to start a program like this at their school, in Portland," the director told A. "Well, you'll want to start a 'Circle of Friends' group, I run that here at this school. We match the Options kids with peers and do monthly activities. It's a great program."

We let her get back to class, and the director said, "She moved here from Greece three years ago - didn't speak a word of English. She was terribly shy, no self esteem, and she found refuge in the Options Program. We trained her to be a peer tutor and she is now a major leader at this school. When she graduates she wants to go to college and major in Special Education."

The last trace of mascara was wiped from my eyes.

A school that gets it.

Times five.

At least.

Imagine the ripples.

Imagine the possibilities.

Imagine the healing.

Imagine the miracles.



Kathryn said...

Okay, I'm imagining...this is so wonderful. Did you hear the angels sing when you walked through the doors?!

And, I appreciate hearing the slinky theory again - it is so true for me, Carrie. I am cycling through again as we speak.

Congrats on all of the years with STM, and the remembering...


Angie Ledbetter said...

Major goosebumps! I'm so happy. Will say prayers of thanksgiving. They really DO get it. It's the inclusion and peer influence that makes all the difference for the entire school population! I forgot to tell you also, my daughter was president of Best Buddies for 2 years of our fab high school. Do look it up if you're not familiar. Or lemme know if you want me to email you mo info.

drama mama said...

Okay. I hate to turn this around and talk about me/us, but as you know, M. started in her own STGI just a few months ago.

She has lost 10 pounds of baby fat due to inertia. She plays outside. She runs in and has friends to talk to in the morning. She makes jokes, and chatters nonstop in the car after school. For the first time, yesterday, she got into the car and PLANNED HER BIRTHDAY PARTY. Unsolicited.

Not enough can be said for finding a home, and how it impacts the family and a community.

I am so there with you. DO IT NOW.

Rev. Christine said...

Awesome post! Congratulations! On building a conscious long-lasting relationship and on making a difference for kids and families. You rock!

Wanda said...

That's IFC! I'm imagining....

I can see it....

Hey...I thought I was your new best friend! (har har har) :)

Peter Yarrow?

Terry said...

Inspiring. Truly truly inspiring.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Awesome Carrie!

I have read up on Circle of Friends, and I am interested in hearing about your process every step of the way.

If anyone will get this program implemented(and quickly), you will!

Cathy said...

that's really exciting--we live in CO and really struggle gettin our son with asperger's needs met.

Go Mama said...

You GO girl!

And, um, 23 years? Jeez, you deserve a medal for that too!

Robin said...

I cried with you just imagining it. Imagine if all schools started to see our kids not as a liability but as a blessing. A real blessing. Imagine it.

(Congrats on the anniversary!!)

Anonymous said...

Great post - wow! This must be so exciting for you!

Lola said...

Your Field of Dreams
They will Carrie!

Anonymous said...

It sounds lovely.

Jerri said...

Can't wait to see what happens next.

She said...

Go for it! And the Circle of Friends is a good thing!

This is beautifully written!

Deb Shucka said...

What I loved best about this post is how you got to cry what sound like tears of relief and joy at the validation of what you already know about your gifted son. That his life is a powerful gift to us all. Some people just need to be taught that.

Looking forward to following this story as it unfolds.

And so glad you and STM had fun.

Amber said...

"almost always catching you by surprise when it feels like you’re back at the beginning again, and you feel disappointed because you thought you’d come so far."--


This school sounds amazing. Just amazng. Sometimes people really get it right! And then all the right spreads... :)


kario said...

Happy Anniversary.
Happy school visiting.
Happy slinky theory (I'm convinced that it's not only grief that is like a slinky - it's the cycle of our lives).

But, now for the school....you know, it would be a lot simpler if you guys just all moved up here so Rojo could go to that school instead of starting your own. Then I'd be your peer group ;-)