Saturday, May 29, 2010

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. 
 ~Joseph Campbell

* Photo from

Thursday, May 27, 2010


We know our friends as our friends, we may know them as spouses, even siblings and children, but to me, the greatest gift has been knowing my friends as parents. I'd say some of my best parenting practices have been stolen outright from friends that I admire.

I have a dear friend that lives 3,000 miles away - has for nearly fifteen years. About once a year, however, we've managed to see each other. Fortunately for me, most of our visits have been in her home, which has provided me with not only a break, but a chance to really live and learn from a master.

It was one of the very earliest visits, at the time this friend had a four-year-old and a two-year-old. Doesn't sound fun, does it? But it was. She thoroughly enjoyed her kids at those ages, just as she does now, at fifteen and seventeen. At that time there was tremendous stress in her life, you could almost say it was crisis level. I'll never forget what happened, though. Her husband came home and asked her about the day, and she said, "We had a lot of laughs." Of course my friend and I had had a lot of laughs, but that's not what she was referring to - she was talking about the day spent with a toddler and at that time, hard to regulate four-year-old.

"We had a lot of laughs."

I've thought of that so many times through the years, marveled at her ability to just be present with her kids, to enjoy them, to laugh with them. I've fallen short of this goal to have a lot of laughs with my kids each day, but I can honestly say that that one small scene has made me a better parent, has shifted my thinking, has, best of all, brought about a lot more laughter in this house.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


One of my friends has the greatest quote, "Everyone wants to be normal, but nobody wants to be average." Isn't that just so TRUE?

* Photo from:

Monday, May 24, 2010


Tonight Rojo wanted to go to the playground, and I heard myself agreeing without a grumble -  something just went off in my head that said, this is important.

Got there and immediately ran into two friends, one being "Above and Beyond," aka the ice cream truck lady. Also there was a man I've known since Rojo was born, and now he, too, is the parent of a special needs child. 

I had Flicka sitting next to me, and kids kept coming up to me and asking if they could pet her. Next thing I knew a little one asked if he could take Flicka on a walk. I said sure, and got busy solving the world's problems with my friends on the bench. Occasionally I would look up to make sure Rojo was fine, and that Flicka was within sight and doing okay with her new role as Pied Piper. Each time I saw her she had gained another follower. One would return Flicka to me and then the next would ask for a turn. We finally established a little routine, a route, if you would, to make it fair. They could take Flicka once around the loop, bring her back to me and then it would be the next person's turn.

I was aware that a young dad had two kids, a boy about four and a girl about two, now in line for Flicka. The little boy had a Scooby Doo Band Aid on his check, and when I asked him about it he awkwardly touched it. The dad said, "M., ask what the dog's name is." The boy didn't ask. "Ask how old the dog is," the dad prodded. The boy didn't ask. "Ask if you can pet the dog, M.," the boy didn't ask. I didn't think too much about it. The dad and I got to talking and I told him Flicka was a retired guide dog. He marveled at her beauty, her shiny coat, her sweetness, how young she looks.

Suddenly Flicka was up on the play structure, so I jumped up to get her down - can't have her scaring the kids up there. All the followers were trying to get her down and there was some degree of temporary chaos. The dad followed me. Once down, I turned to the dad and said, "I think Flicka was checking on Rojo, he has special needs, you see, and that's why we got her. She knows she's his buddy, and she was probably worried that she hadn't been with him for awhile."

I saw the look in the man's eyes. The look. The look of one that walks the path. "Your son has special needs? My son has special needs. Did the dog just automatically know that she was there for your son, because I can tell she understands my son, too." I told more about the story of Flicka, and how yes, she knew she was there for Rojo, and that their bond was a thing of beauty.

We chased kids and dogs, passed the leash, made small talk, and then I asked, "So, what's going on with your son?" 

"Well, we're just finding that out now," he said, giving me the look again and smiling a little too broadly.

"It's so hard," I said, making eye contact with him, and noticing tears behind his eager smile.

"Yea, looks like he has dyspraxia, sensory processing disorder, maybe autism... does you son have any of those things?"

"Check, check, check!" I said.

Our conversation went on and he said how he wished his wife could meet me, as she is desperate for other mothers to talk to about things like this. I told him about the support group I run and that his wife is welcome to join us. "Oh, that would be SO great," he said about four times. 

"I don't have anything with me to write down my information on, do you?" 

"No," he said, "but do you come here very often?"

"All the time," I said.

I have no doubt that Rojo, Flicka and Mary will make sure our paths cross again.

And I'll have a pencil and paper when they do.

* Photo from:

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Hadn't been to my beginner's yoga class in thirteen days. Was really feeling the lapse - what had been effortless just two weeks ago, was not today. Effortful it was, and I was determined to fight through it. No matter how many times my Lithuanian instructor cautioned us to listen to our bodies, and that doing so was a sign of strength, and not of weakness, I pushed on, ignoring her. Ignoring my body. Ignoring the wisdom.

Classic Carrie.

And while I have come a long way in learning to listen, I still have a long ways to go, also in redefining weakness and strength.

When we were in one particularly challenging pose (no idea what it's called), she said, "Find the ease. Now find the challenge. Put them together. Take the ease, put it with the challenge. In your mind, move them on top of each other, let them work together. That is how you get stronger - combining ease with challenge. Now, when you are in your challenge, breathe ease into it."

What if I were to take the ease of love and put it on top of the challenge of apologizing? What if I were to take the ease of laughter, and put it together with the challenge of forgiveness? What if I were to take the ease of caring and overlap it with the challenge of non-judgment?

How much can I truly bend?

*Photo from:

Thursday, May 20, 2010


So Rojo has been obsessed (is there a stronger word than obsessed?) with the ice cream truck for many, many, many, grey-hair creating years. He takes a short break from talking about it between the months of November and February, then it's back up for grabs. He plays various ice cream truck songs on his keyboard, on our piano, taps and hums them while he eats his breakfast, plays them on a recorder, kicks the breakfast bar to the beat of them when he eats his dinner, sings them in the car, listens to them on YouTube, loudly and repeatedly, on and on and on and on.

I've got "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" and "The Entertainer" coming out my ears.

"Mom, where does the ice cream truck live?"

"Is the ice cream truck coming to our house today, Mom?"

"What time is the ice cream truck coming to our house today, Mom?"

"Is it going to be hot today? If it's hot today, will the ice cream truck come to our house today, Mom?"

I'm going to go ahead and conservatively guess he asks an ice cream truck related question, twenty times a day. Every day. For eight months of the year. For at least the last six years. Not a mark on him.

So on Sunday we were walking back from the park/neighborhood school playground, and we ran into a friend of mine. She has a child on the spectrum, and although our boys don't know each other, we know all about each other's boys. You know how that goes. Rojo asks her, "Did you see the ice cream truck at your house? If you see the ice cream truck come by, make sure you tell them to come down to our house. Don't forget. Promise you won't forget."

"Well," she says, "you know my boys have a lot of food allergies, so sometimes I get the kinds of treats they can eat, put them in an ice chest in the wagon, and we walk around passing those out to the neighbors."

That's all it took.

"Mom? Can we go to Mrs. F.'s house and get ice cream after school? Can we go to her wagon? Can we just go there right after we pick up Woohoo and just go straight there and get ice cream?"


So Monday I e-mailed Mrs. F. and asked if we could swing by, and would it be possible that Rojo give her a dollar for something she had in her freezer.

She e-mailed back and wanted to know just what it was he liked, what was the exact song he preferred the ice cream truck to play, etc.  When we pulled up to her house at the designated time (3:45), she had the wagon all out, had made a big sign to put on the outside, displaying all the kinds of treats they had (and that she'd driven all over town shopping for) and as we got out of the car she grabbed her i-Phone, pushed "play" and out came "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" WHO DOES THAT??

Then, because she'd created a monster, and the weather here is down right wintry this week with unbelievable rain, she has taped the sign TO HER CAR, and driven TO OUR HOUSE, three days IN A ROW at Rojo's preferred ice cream eating time.

And she even lowered her prices, $0.05.

But truly, those popsicles and that friend? Priceless.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Had to spend a whole day at home earlier this week. STM was expecting an important package to be delivered, and it required a signature. I looked at my calendar and I didn't have any appointments, no errands that just had to be run that day, so I said I could do it. After all, I don't "work."

Cannot tell you how many times I had the urge to jet off somewhere, to take care of some annoying thing on my list, to go out into the backyard (where I would not be able to hear the doorbell) to pull weeds that had not made my radar until that very moment. On and on it went. The more aware I was that I couldn't go anywhere, the more I felt the need to.

Kept having to ask myself, "Why am I here? Oh, yea, to receive the package from UPS."

Asking myself "Why am I here?" all day?

Not a bad way to spend the day when you think about it.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Wrapped six presents for STM's birthday tomorrow
Loaded, ran, unloaded the dishwasher
Did three loads of laundry, washed, dried, folded, put away (nicely)
Made beds
Vacuummed the whole house
Cleaned the kitchen
Answered a million (give or take) schedule related e-mails
Set up three appointments
Paid bills
Made a grocery list
Washed all the windows I could reach without a ladder - inside and out
Redeemed miles on-line
Ran to the store to get a few things and the guy says to me, "So, you're not working today?"

* Photo from:

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Had a big important meeting Friday morning at my house. Did a little morning meditation to get my energy right, asked for Mary's help. Mary's peace. Mary's presence.

Showered, grabbed a skirt I hadn't worn since last summer, reached in the pocket and there was a Mary seed.

Went downstairs to light candles, put on music, and again, make the energy right in preparation for this meeting. Pushed the button to eject the CD already in the stereo, and out came "Feasts of Mother Mary." Shoved it right back in and pushed "Play."

Finished fussing around the house, had nervous energy left over, turned on the computer to check e-mail. Eyes landed right on one from a customer service rep assigned to a return I needed to make. Her name? Mary Precious Grace. I. Kid. You. Not.

Next e-mail was from a friend that had just had surgery, writing to tell me her pre-op nurse's name was Mary, so she knew she was in good hands. She was. Her surgery had the outcome we'd all hoped and prayed for.

Meeting went great.

No accidents.

Friday, May 14, 2010


There's a local chain of discount stores in the northwest called Bi-Mart, where for $5.00 you can buy yourself a family membership. For life. Course you don't really need to show your card to get in through the gate, as the people that operate it know everyone that's a regular. Like me.

"Buzz" goes the button as soon as they see my face. Pushing the red half gate to the side I cross through to an alternate universe. The music, the items, the people that work there, the customers even, are from another era.

I love it.

When you are ready to tackle your gardening needs, Bi-Mart is the place to go. They have everything. Cheap. And what I love best is all the kinds of soil, mulch and manure are stacked on pallets in the parking lot, with an empty sample bag tacked up on the wall above the doors. Crudely made signs tell the cashiers the product code of each bag in big bold numbers so they can quickly glance and enter them into their cash registers.

"I'll take two bags of Steer Plus," I say.

"Just two?" the woman with hair from the 60's verifies.

"Yep, two will do it," I say, "didn't have quite enough as it turns out, need two more bags."

She rings me up, $2.19 times two, adds up everything else in my basket: Kleenex, toothpaste, sponges, laundry soap, a new nozzle for the hose, and prints me out my receipt.

That little piece of paper that nobody ever looks at again is all that keeps me from robbing Bi-Mart blind. From that point you go to your car, drive it around to the pallet of choice and take as many bags as you say you paid for.

Honor system.

Not enough has been made of a system that relies on honor.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear but
around in awareness.
- James Thurber

Jess at A Diary of a Mom wrote today about the phenomenon of walking into your child's classroom and seeing all the support they're getting, and how surprisingly, it surprises you (my words). She wondered if one ever gets used to it.


Hate to sound negative, discouraging or in any way disheartening, but the reality is you don't get over the shock. It continues to hit you like a ton of bricks. Other kids are doing things one way, your kid is doing it a different way, or not at all.

So, no, you don't get used to it, but you get okay with it. You learn how to stop looking back with anger and resentment, stop looking forward with fear and anxiety, and start looking around with awareness and acceptance.

Your child is different. That's the bad news and that is the good news. Except there is no bad news and there is no good news, there is just news and our interpretation of that news. Your child is different. Period.

We need different. Look around. We badly, badly, badly need different. It's my personal belief that these kids are here to help heal and evolve our planet.

I know they are helping to heal and evolve me.

* Photo from:

Monday, May 10, 2010


Somewhere around the third park of the day I began to settle into it: this is my life. Thought it would be one thing and it is quite another. Didn't imagine spending my days going from park to park to park with an almost fourteen-year-old, fighting down my ego that struggled to watch him awkwardly play with three and four-year-olds while discerning if we are actually getting funny looks, or if I was just imagining it.

When he wasn't on the play structures, we were looking for drinking fountains. Four parks, seventeen drinking fountains, each one sipped from once, twice, three times.

Miles we covered and my mind and soul fought with each other with every step: I should be folding the three loads of laundry that sits on my bed right now. I should be wrapping Mother's Day gifts. I should be vacuuming dog hair. Cleaning bathrooms, spending time with Woohoo, and STM, returning a call to a friend, writing a card to my friend about to have major surgery, returning e-mails, fixing dinner, reading the book for book club, grocery shopping, changing beds, should, should, should. My mind said I should be doing anything and everything but being right here in this moment. This perfect moment.

Eckhart Tolle (my hero, he and HH, the Dalai Lama, two enlightened living beings, I'm telling you), talks about the symbolism of the Christian cross. I think I've blogged about it before, but if I can't remember for sure, I'm hoping neither can you. He talks about how we, as humans, mind-centered, live in a horizontal line, always in the past and future, and very seldom living in the moment. Consciousness/our souls/higher selves live in a vertical line, connected to God/source/all that is holy/the light. When we are living in the present moment, the now, we are where those two lines intersect, the center of the cross, the place of the Divine.

Rojo is going to keep dragging me to parks until I stop fighting it and am one with it. That's his job, to make me conscious, to line me up, to bring me to the center, to connect me to the Divine.

* Photo from:

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day to all of you.
You are mothers, you are children of mothers.
You've been well mothered, you've been badly mothered.
You've raised your children, you've raised someone else's children.
You've given birth, you've adopted.
You've given your children up for adoption, you've been reunited. Or not.
You've lived your lives with what ifs? and thank Gods.
You've longed for children, you've chosen to remain childless.
You've struggled to get pregnant, you've got more kids than you know what to do with.
You love this day and all whom it celebrates, you hate this day and all that's gone missing.
You are actively raising children, you are empty nesters.
You are beginning the journey, you are nearing the end.
You are raising typical children, you are raising those with special needs.
You can see the end in sight, you know there is no end.
You love some of mothering and hate the rest, but accept it all,
As part of the journey, wherever it's taken you.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Can't embed the flippin' YouTube video, so click this: The Mother's Day Note You Deserve from Kelly Corrigan & Friends


Don't forget.

Promise you won't forget.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Ran into a friend at the park last night when I had Rojo and Flicka there after dinner. It's not really a park, it's the public school playground near our house. It doesn't really matter except that everything matters in a nothing matters way. That's really the point. Right?

Friend said, "How's your book?"

"Pulled it," I said, one hand on Flicka giving her an absent minded pet.

"Self publish," she said, while deftly grabbing her escaping toddler with one hand.

"Good idea," I said, and if publishing it were now the objective, I'd consider that. "Thing is, don't really want it published after all."

She looked at me quizzically, as if to say, wasn't that the point of writing it?

And that was the point. Until it wasn't. Until the point became something else. Until the point stopped being to have everyone and their mother read it. Until the point was that just writing it was enough.

"Turns out it was just a really long way to get back to where I started. Spent years and years, lots and lots of money, turned myself and everyone around me inside and out, then got back to where I began."

Her eyes turned up in a now-I-get-it way.

"Full circle," I said.

"Full circle," she said.

And we laughed.

* Photo from:

Monday, May 03, 2010



16. She is funny

15. She has style galore

14. She is beautiful, inside and out

13.  She knows herself

12. And loves that self

11. She self advocates

10. She advocates for others

9. She is wise beyond her years

8. She is accepting of differences

7. She is opinionated

6. But respectful of others' opinions

5. Nobody can talk her into doing anything she doesn't want to do

4.  She is a good friend

3. She is kind

2. She is forgiving

1. She loves well

* Photo from