Saturday, August 29, 2015

One good adventure, deserves another...

I AM EXHAUSTED! Two trips to try and gather everything I could, and I have left so much behind. You know what?

It's a funny thing, stuff.

Stuff is usually all the stuff we wanted, but I don't think we ever anticipated how well most of that stuff holds us down. Now, after packing and squeezing all that stuff I've needed so badly, I can't even walk into Target without thinking 'this is more stuff than I've ever needed.'

Stuff becomes, crap.

Wanderlust and stuff go together just as well as pickles and licorice, and if you enjoy that combo then once again my metaphors are at a complete loss. Just think of two things that don't jive well together, and you have a recipe for more useless desires.

If you're about to get married, and you've registered for an air popcorn maker and a ton of other cool gadgets, I just want to fast forward you to your first Goodwill trip/Garage Sale where you will both scratch your heads and say 'when did we get all this stuff?'..

The worst part about stuff, is that by the time you've invested your money in a lot of it, you will find that you really need the capital from it to do something actually meaningful, like;

Have Kids.
Give to a great cause.

Yeah, I have a thing for shoes. It still qualifies as stuff, though. Bummer.

So, I urge you as one person who has acquired two other little people and all of their stuff, to get rid of some stuff and get out there and...


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road

Buck Owens knew I wasn't going to be a Country music star.

He said, "You have to want it more than anything. Think of what you want the most right now, well you have to want it more than that. More than Anything!" And then, he sent me on my way.

I left Bakersfield, CA for the Yellow Brick Road back in 1998. 

Nashville was a lot like the journey to Oz, in that the most meaningful part of it wasn't the destination but the relationships I made.  Once I got on Music Row, the game for me had changed. The Nashville scene was transitioning from the demo singers that were 'discovered' in the studios, to reality show phenom's. If in 2001 you were on a show that included the words 'Idol' or 'Star' you just might have a shot.

The men behind the curtains pulling levers, and smoke machines were retiring and labels were closing left and right. The gentrification of Nashville had begun long before the 12 South and Gulch explosion when Tower Records and Bobby's Idle Hour had shut down. Buck always said that Nashville was a slick machine that waned between art & commerce, and it still in fact is.

My musical education here was broadened not by Nashville's commercial sound, but by the spiritual experience of attending a Patty Griffin show, the gritty vocals of Lucinda Williams and the sweet fragile voice of Julie Miller.

Singing took a backseat to babies, and that was just fine with me. I could fail at the game, I could fail in a broken marriage, but failure as a parent is not an option. I knew what I wanted more than 'Anything'.

The reason I came to Nashville has shifted from being about me, to being about something much bigger than myself. The best future for two little kids, and getting them off of the Yellow Brick Road and onto one less traveled by.

The best things about Nashville are probably my memories with you if you're reading this, and my Cross Point family.  I love you for helping me realize that the best way to serve myself, was by serving others. That was a gift.

The Instagrams of Nashville sunsets and coffee art, will preserve most of the posterity I hold dear.

If we've ever shared a beer and a bible verse, then you know you will be missed.

I started where the sun sets, and will settle where the sun begins in Wilmington, NC.

I cant wait to see my kids enjoy being with family, the ocean and some peace.
My wonderful Mom will get to enjoy being in the same city again with both of her kids after 20 years!

If you find yourself in Nashville chasing down a dream, remember that boys are like flying monkeys and yes, you should throw rocks at them unless they prove they have Brains, Courage and a Heart. Be careful of distractions, they're everywhere and they can look promising but may consequentially detour you like a field of pretty flowers. People in the biz, are not the Wizard and they have no idea how to 'make it' and will give you copious amounts of advice in the form of worse metaphors than these.  Witches don't always fly brooms, but they might be good attorneys.

Lastly.. I think Elphaba from Wicked said it best..

"Whatever way our stories end, I'll know you'll have rewritten mine for being my friend."

God Speed, Nashville..

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Why I will never post anything Kind about Disney World..

In 2007, soon after my son turned two, my family and I booked a trip to Walt Disney World to enjoy the magic for a week at The Polynesian Resort. After having open heart surgery and navigating the new world of special needs, Dalton was just barely a toddler who also happened to have Down Syndrome and a repaired heart defect with an exceptional open heart surgery within his first year. Now that he was stable, we wanted to celebrate a magical moment in the Happiest Place on Earth!

Entering the park for the first day, we headed right to It's A Small World, and a cast member stopped me while I was in line.

"I see you have a Special Guest there!"

He was smiling at Dalton, explaining that Dalton could get a Disability Pass at the Guest Services near City Hall at the entrance of Main Street as well as a Wheel Chair pass for his stroller. Suddenly, this little brother came with perks. For the first time, we had a VIP with us, and in a place like Disney World, this was a wonderful experience! I left with Dalton and we came back with his new Pass. We walked up to the flying elephant ride of Dumbo, and as soon as I went to sit down with Dalton, he screamed and wanted off immediately. The rest of the family rode, and Dalton and I just waited while waving at everyone else. Then, again on Winnie the Pooh ride, as it went indoors and the sound of tinkering honey pots and laughter seemed to rattle Dalton, he stood up looking for a way out which resulted in an interruption and a loud voice on the speaker asking everyone to sit down during the duration of the ride. Everyone else was enjoying the experience.

Everyone, but the VIP.

Disney World became the 'Aha' moment when I started to notice Dalton had some major sensory issues. These issues were the baby steps to a possible dual diagnosis. Almost 10 years later, I now homeschool Dalton with the help of my Mom who was a Special Education Teacher to provide more one on one instruction. He started having melt downs on the way to school, anxious and scared. Being mostly non verbal, we never knew what caused his constant anxiety that induced Dalton to throwing up in the car line every day.

We never went to movies, and entertainment that was in a dark or noisy place like Rainforest Cafe became avoided. You would think in the midst of these abrupt changes, my daughter would resent her brother for the lack of family experiences like that Magical trip in 2007, but this Mom struck gold when Bella Grace was born. In the past five years of becoming a single Mom, I've been really blessed and have been able to take both of them, with my Mom to places like Dollywood and Universal Studios. We still haven't been able to enjoy the parades, or indoor shows. We avoid fireworks, but Dalton has some sensory seeking behaviors that have him begging to ride Spinning rides that give him the giggles, and leave us in stitches. The kids' laugh is infectious, like a little Minion!
Dalton at Universal, absolutely up to no good.

We've found ways to enjoy time in amusement parks, except for ONE. Just the thought of the expense alone, is enough to give me shingles. But a few years ago, one particular event changed the way families can anticipate going to the Happiest Place on Earth.

In 2013, one wealthy Manhattanite Mom was caught red handed 'renting' the disabled for a Golden Ticket to the front of the line at Disney Park attractions. Many kids, whether those who have Autism or a myriad of different disabilities that affect their ability to remain in long lines for extended amounts of time can't handle the wait. Melt downs occur and unlike typical toddler melt downs, these rank high risk because they can affect a persons ability to regulate heart rate and blood pressure. It can send some families to the ER instead of the front of the line. Instead of a Disability Pass, which let the guest and his or her party of up to five guests walk right up to the front, they now get a return time after scanning their Magic Band.  I've read enough Op Ed pieces, omissions, retractions and Pinterest posts to know that this was Disney's way of fixing their system and in some posts, it also meant that thousands of kids and adults with disabilities were paying for the shameful actions of an opportunistic 'Rich Bitch'.

Yep, I said it, and I was boycotting Disney.

When the chance to take a trip of a lifetime with the kids came up, I thought of the new exceptions we learned to make when visiting Universal Studios, and I booked it.

I took a huge risk and booked a trip for Walt Disney World.

I might regret this.

(To SKIP too many details, skip ahead to the *) because it's all going downhill from here.

My Mom was really apprehensive about going, so much so that she backed out of the trip a month before going. Even at Universal, where there are more rides and parades and explosions she left the experience wanting to hibernate when we got back to Nashville.

But, we're making memories! They might be bad ones, but we've never really had a horrible time when traveling with Dalton. We usually cry, but laugh later...

Dalton started to become obsessed with Mickey Mouse and Friends, Big Hero 6 (He's got the hand bump down packed) and don't even ask him about Doc McStuffins unless you want him to babble about Stuffy and Lambie for hours.

We can do this.

Two weeks of prep, laundry, lists, escape plans, Disney blogs, reservations, and personal words of affirmation, my little Jeep Compass was packed, or rather stuffed shut. Upon leaving, I made everyone promise to not open the trunk of the car until we were there.  I had four people's luggage and a Special Needs Stroller. It was nothing short of a miracle.

12 Hours later, we rolled in!

Our Magic Bands checked us in and we went straight to our room to unpack, eat up and take some melatonin before our first day in the Park.

Memorial Day Weekend, what was I thinking?! Once we drove into the parking lot for the Magic Kingdom, we had two choices; the longest line in the world for the Monorail or the longest line for the Ferry Boat. We got into the Ferry Boat line, and Dalton started getting antsy. It was already hot with a heat index of 100*, I reached for the Bose Noiseless headphones but he was fighting me and we hadn't even gotten into the Park. 

Just Keep Swimming, became Just Keep Sweating, just keep sweating, sweating, sweating...

First of all, if you have chosen any Fast Pass selections (like we had) your Disability Pass will interfere, or at least ours did at The Dumbo Ride. The ride goes from an outside line to a dark hall that leads to an indoor playground. Dalton immediately got scared and wanted to run, we tried to let him just go under the ropes but got yelled at by cast members who were waiting at the next Fast Pass stanchion to scan our bands inside. After trying to explain that Dalton was scared, the frazzled girl just made things worse with her tone and Dalton got worse. And then, the calm came over me.

'Thank you for your kindness' and I said it right to her wide eyes. She immediately backed down letting me take the band with me to scan it as Dalton went outside with my Mom back into the line. 

My memory took me back to our first time here, this was the ride Dalton freaked out on. He walked out onto the platform and into the elephant. Triumph number one. He was buckled in.

The rest of the day was hot, and everyone was melting into the Fantasyland pavement. When we finally got into one of the most coveted restaurants in the park, 'Be Our Guest', our little Beast was on his way to a meltdown. We could not get in to find a table for our reservation until 2:15 exactly. The park was so packed, cast members were not feeling magical that day and you could tell that most of them were just 'maintaining'.

I hurried through the contents of my 'emergency bag' to get Dalton's headphones as the sounds of excited guests and screaming children bounced off the slick floors and coffered ceiling of what was blogged about as the 'quietest' room in the restaurant. The headphone slipped off my finger as I tried to spread them over Dalton's head and it snapped on his nose. What followed, was a roar so loud that it quieted the entire wing. The kid was definitely in character, and I sat red faced as I got the second attempt over his head. Dalton regulated from Hulk status, his face softened and his lunch soon arrived. A plate of orangey meatloaf, but there were his favorite; french fries.
By the time the dessert came, I was buried in my Masters Cupcake and it's true, the gray stuff is delicious.

So, our first day in the park was nothing short of a small disaster but we did what many recommended and went back to the hotel for a swim. I found a Mimosa. All was right with the world again.

Dalton wanted to stay at the hotel, so I took the opportunity to take Bella back to Magic Kingdom that night to ride our Fast Pass for the Seven Dwarf's Mine Ride. It was so worth it!!! Bella got some uninterrupted fun, and we enjoyed my favorite attraction a few times, The Haunted Mansion. It still reminds me of my childhood when I enjoyed Disneyland. People are just dying to get into that place, and I love it when they cut you off at the door and say 'Don't worry, your time will come'.

Bella was able to enjoy the Haunted Mansion gift shop that semi rivals Olivander's Wand Shop when they turn your picture into a ghost from their mortal portal. She added a fun new set of pins to her collection, and upon entering the attraction one last time we realized that the Madame Leota pin glows in the dark! The spirits were very mischievous that night, because her pin disappeared in the ride. 
The rest of the day, I saw people yelling at Cast Members and knew that the Magic was slipping. There's no way most of these people waiting on masses of hot, disoriented parents were getting paid enough to take the abuse dolled out at them by patrons who paid a high premium to be in there. There were $100 complaints, everywhere. 

Day One, the park is a lot more fun when the sun goes down!
Ice water, Ice Water, Ice Water (available at any quick service restaurant for free)
This Disability Pass thing is a real Bummer.

*Now, this post is titled "Why I will never post anything kind about Disney World" because of what happened the next day..

Disney's Hollywood Studios is not my favorite park, but it is definitely a step up from Animal Kingdom where there were't many things our entire family could enjoy.  If Dalton could handle the sensory aspects of 'Finding Nemo" the musical I know he would love it, but watching it on YouTube seemed to satisfy him.  As amped up as I was to enjoy Star Wars weekends, no one else shared my enthusiasm so we went Monday. 

It was even hotter. After the gentle monsoon showers part and the sun comes out, it's a sauna for the senses!!

The Art of Animation has places to meet your heroes, and Big Hero 6 is a huge favorite for both kids. Luckily you can see them from the glass on the top level, and the overwhelming sensory aspect of your favorite character with huge head translates into one nugget of wisdom..

"Sometimes, it's best not to meet your hero" 

At 50 feet away, the scale is still big but not terrifying.

This is another buddy we made at the park, he and Dalton both needed a sensory break!

In the Courtyard near the Disney Junior Playhouse Live Show, there is an area where each character sets up with a photographer so that kids can meet them up close and personal. 
Dalton saw the Doc McStuffins corner, and the rest is history. 

Here's where everything gets extremely frustrating in writing this.

This is why I will never post anything Kind about Disney World. 

What happened next, shattered me.

We got a disability pass for the next showing of Disney Junior Live. The game plan was;

1.  At least get him inside. 
2. Get the Noise Canceling headphones on.
3. Try 
4. Emergency Exit- Stage Left or Enjoy the Show!

We never made it inside. We got in the line, and Dalton started melting down. The cast members were kind enough to let us out, and they went a step further to try and make a little magic for Dalton because they knew after we had come up once already for his Fast Pass, Dalton was a huge fan. Steven and Ashley, as well as two other Cast Members there with them that day did their best to get him to smile. He watched Doc McStuffins from a distance, take pictures with other kids and give them hugs. He was too scared. It was too much, and then Ashley said 'Wait right here' and she disappeared. When she came back, it was with an autograph from Doc McStuffins. 

You would have thought Dalton won the lottery, he smiled (Score!). 

Stop, wait a minute. Things got even better.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you what happened. I can't fully describe the joy of what Dalton will call the "Best Day Ever!!" because of Kindness.

Kindness, is now used as currency and it absolutely wrecks me.

Being a person with a disability means that most days, the world is not a Kind place. When organizations like Disney make special privileges for people like Dalton, it means going to a magical place where you are treated like a VIP even if only for a day. Unfortunately,  people who already have privileges of wealth, health and success take advantages of this kindness, and when they do, they take advantage not only of a system, they take advantage of the disabled.

If I tell you what happened when I went to thank Disney Hollywood Studios at their Guest Services for the kindness of Ashely and Steven, I'm afraid someone will use it as currency to get something that they want. What followed after going to see Aaron at the Guest Services window to praise two amazing Cast Members, shattered me. Dan Cockerell, if I could have thanked you face to face I would have. 

Now, what blessed us is nothing as extravagant as a free stay but it absolutely shattered this Mom into a thousand tears. The kindness was overwhelming, and I have to pause because I'm crying once again recounting the details in my head.

People abuse systems meant to be gifts, and as of recent there are active lawsuits against Disney because of the reformed system they now use for the Disability Pass in place of their previous one.

But, Disney didn't disappoint especially when it came to my daughter who is 12 and not easily entertained anymore like she once was at the Bippity Boppity Boutique on our last trip in 2007. 

Bella lost that Madame Leota pin she was so excited to buy, and when we went to replace it at the gift shop on our last day, it was only available in another $25 pack of pins. When we went to buy another mystery box that was cheaper, hoping something similar might be inside, a sweet Cast Member named Bianca stopped us before we could get rung up. Apparently, Madame Leota was very fond of her merchandise and Bianca told my daughter that the spirits were tricksters. She and her coworker Katie told us to look up around the store into different glass globes as different spirits looked everywhere for Bella's pin. Each appeared, and then a bell rung from a cabinet. When Bianca reached inside next to Madame Leota's portrait, there was a great white light and just inside the sleeve of an envelope.. was Bella's Madame Leota Pin. 

(Okay, that's enough Kindness. Shh, don't tell anyone!)

Dalton and Bella's wishes were exceptionally granted, and our experience is a memory none of us will ever forget. 

That Monday in Disney Hollywood Studios I stood there, watching my son in his moment as sobbing tears rolled down my face. I couldn't speak, but if I could tell you everything knowing that no one would ever use it in their own favor, I would. But for now, I will never post anything 'else' that is KIND about Disney World, but if I see you I won't hesitate to tell you what happened...

The final Magical Moment happened on our very last night in Magic Kingdom. 

We were going to pass the ride by, but Dalton wanted to go inside. A Cast Member told us that because Dalton had a Wheel Chair pass on his stroller, he could get in the wheel chair accessible boat on It's A Small World After All.
The ride he was terrified of.
And then this happened...

Dalton got in the boat.

The Cast Members clapped for him, and don't tell anyone about this Kindness (they let him go twice).
Yes, I cried again.

I drove home Friday, bug bites and tired eyes, trunk stuffed shut and memories packed, it's an exhausting trip. There are highs and lows to any vacation, and for all of you parents with kids that have had magical moments at Disney World, I now understand why you exhaust yourselves to do it all again. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I Never Finish Anyth

Blogs aren't meant to be diaries, or therapies but this post might teeter at the edge of one of the two. Do you have a place where when your mind is racing and you need to de-funkify the noise, something breaks through and you have an epiphany? I have two places where I do one of two things;

Worry or Pray

I may not even call it worry at the moment, but that's usually the inner dialogue where all of my problems have a traffic jam, exactly when I'm in traffic. In my head I function on right brain technology, an interface where all logic and reality converge with hyperbole and metaphor and things in there can get really messy.
Driving has always been one of my vices to sort that out.
I know some of you are shaking your heads because the thought of getting in your car and navigating Nashville while solving your inner NATO issues is the last place you'd think to work out your stuff, but for some reason it's a more manageable chaos for me.
The thought of getting in my car and going ANYWHERE seems better to me than sitting static and going NOWHERE.
Even in traffic, we're all bound to get somewhere eventually..

The second place is in my shower, or at the kitchen sink. This probably sounds even stranger than the first.
In my shower I have written some of the best songs that never seem to make it out of that glass box, but oh my Lawd they sound good. Let's be honest, shower singers, we all sound hella good in there. Every book idea, every song idea, every hairstyle idea, every painting idea has had it's inception in the shower.
The bath tub is far too complicated, I don't know if it's because I get bored in there but running water seems to always do the trick. I bet I could come up with some fascinating ideas at Niagra Falls.

About that worrying, I read the best quote and posted it once to my Instagram..

But it's so much easier!!

For the last two months, and five years I have been so good at this. I had been a stay at home Mom for almost a decade, until that plan flew out the window when Divorce came knocking at the door. If worrying was entertainment, I'd have an Oscar by now. Worrying is also like trying to solve a rubiks cube in the dark. (I told you I like metaphors, I also just aged myself with that comment.)

Spell check has underlined rubiks, and now I'm worried about losing street-cred with one of you who is grammar-tastic. (People like me, keep editors paid.) So my point is getting there, and I thank you for bearing with me on this post. Welcome to the daily battle of my mind.

This is what keeps me up at night, why I'm writing right now because just a moment ago I got an epiphany. Where do you think I was? 

This time, I was brushing my teeth and this verse popped into my head.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. NIV

All of my Facebook homies, friends, family and coworkers have known that I have been trying to get things rolling with more consistent Makeup work.  I homeschool my youngest, and being a Full time Mom is my biggest priority.  Some days I think one plan is the best, and then find myself second guessing that choice. Basically, I get NOWHERE. I talk myself into a hundred things and talk myself out of a million more. It's exhausting!! Other creative brains, you get me, right?! You're multi faceted like a rainbow with ADHD.

You can sing, dance, write stories and songs! You invent gadgets in your head that can hold your ice cream cone while driving a stick shift so you can eat it, or a remote control GPS app on your iPhone while crocheting an environmentally friendly recyclable coffee cup wrap. The worst part, you haven't finished one!! Not ONE THING! You enjoy so many things that your college guidance counselor is probably now receiving therapy for the millions of major to minor changes you made before you dropped out and joined a band that only ever got paid in free tacos. My biggest question for most of my life has been, God, why would you wire any of us this way?! 

This is a pillow I almost made..

Okay, so I never even started that pillow but if I did it would look just like that one, but probably "I never fin.."

I don't think this is one of those, 'teachable moment' posts but I know there's more of us out there and we are annoying all the left brainers who finished that pillow up there along with all of their perfectly folded laundry yesterday before Easter Sunday.

And to all of you 20 somethings reading this.. if I just described you, I am the last person who should give you any advice. I'd like to publicly apologize to the sales girl at the Lush store in Green Hills Mall who said she was on her 6th major and I said "Just do it all!" Your parents want their tuition money back that they've been saving since you were in diapers.

So how am I supposed to make sense of me? I think it's exactly what that verse said.

'Many are the plans in a persons heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.' I think I have to just continue to trust that. If you don't believe in Christ, I'm praying that you might give it a little bit of faith. The best part, it's the beginning of a relationship that you don't have to worry about, it's steadfast, and consistent and maybe that's why it's my favorite one.

Before I had gone in to brush my teeth, I had been laying down getting my son to go to sleep saying prayers. It's crazy, for someone like me who can't finish anything, how quickly God answers and finishes my thoughts with scripture. Which now, I believe is where my Epiphany comes in. He just asked me to Begin. Any one of my crazy plans, I may not finish. I'm amazed that I've almost finished this post. I'm just going to lay these plans at his feet, and begin one. I may write about my next huge failure, but it's his purpose that always prevails and I'm going to go to sleep with that tonight. What I'm not going to do is go to sleep, worrying. I'm going to at least pray for the things that I actually do want. If you see me driving around Nashville aimlessly, just wave and know that I'm working things out in my head to let God's purpose help me finish the things I can't.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Love and Loss

My parents, were not the equation that formulated my existence. My Mom and Step Dad were madly in love and gave me a window to what real Love looks like. This October, my Dad will have been gone for almost 19 years. But, for the years that they had together, I can only describe their relationship as everlasting.

Every anniversary, from the beginning to the last, he brought her a dozen red roses.

My Mom hated red roses.

They were so cliche, the epitome of every household husband's endorsement of Hallmark romance. This was an act of love, and of humor, and every year I'd come home from school and see them on the kitchen counter.

Every year, they lasted on the counter until the last petal fell.

Almost married 15 years, he lost his premature fight to brain cancer a month before they would have celebrated together.  Even though his life of motorcycles, flying planes, Dirty Harry and James Bond passions were cut short, so was his love story to a blonde firecracker of a woman named Naomi.

"Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all."  -Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tennyson, a man who had wrote many acclaimed works was critically assailed after writing his second book of poetry, The Lady of Shallot. After his critics publicly humiliated his work, he retreated for a ten year hiatus before attempting another. That is, until his best friend died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage before taking his sister's hand in marriage. After the untimely death of his best friend, Arthur Hallam's passing inspired him to write many more masterpieces including In Memoriam from which this most profound excerpt was birthed.

"Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all."

What does this mean? Why would it have been better to have loved and lost? It has been presented as a question, in every literary class whether in post secondary education or grade school I've ever had.

 Every response from my childhood, to adulthood has resonated the same, and it comes from that very place of loss.

"I know what love is."

To my Mom who just celebrated her 65th birthday, I'm sure each October when my Dad passed, bares a bitter sweet void where those red petals fell.

I can assure you this, you cannot replace a true thing with an imposter. Even if abbreviated, 3 months of a substitute will never measure to 3 seconds of true love and in transverse. Even though my parents never got to experience the celebration of a 20 year anniversary, 14 years of veritable love far outweighs a lifetime of any synthetic substitute. I think when Tennyson experienced this very loss of a beloved friend and of his sister's, he was blessed with the opportunity to write the truth, that the absolute concentrate of love between two people for however long or short lived, is better than nothing at all.

Never accept anything less, never.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Waiting to be Known..

This afternoon, in the periphery between rain and sun I took my kids to our clubhouse pool not knowing if we would leave 5 minutes after arriving.

I skirted near the edge in my swimsuit as my oldest, Bella flipped in the deep end doing somersaults and flips. Dalton walked over to the smaller pool with his orange bucket full to the brim with plastic toys. Soon he had them lined up side by side in a perfect row of Veggietales and Bubble Guppies. He'd inspect them and mumble in pretend play conversations that only he understands sometimes.

I forget how abstract his world must be. Our world, the conversational bold colors we paint with words is confined to a person, let alone a child with poor expressive skills like Dalton.

He's receiving, not transmitting as well.

It's hard to be known, to make friends when communication is paramount to interacting.

About an hour later, Dalton decided he wanted to join his sister in the big pool. 

Big Kid Territory.

"Go for it, go get Bella!"

Dalton left all of his toys and walked down the big entrance of steps, only to walk back out.

I waited. Slowly, he walked around to a smaller entrance and waded in the 3 ft area where kids his chronological age were playing. He watched and mumbled a few things but as things normally go, he went ignored until his sister came over with her friends.

He's not a swimmer yet. 

He's a wader. 

I kept close by, sat on the steps ready to leap in if necessary.

He's not too fond of the feeling of floating. There's no vestibular cues for his body to fully process that lack of control that gravity suggests with the push and pull of up and down.

Two boys next to him in the shallow area began throwing a ball back and forth.
Dalton smiled and watched them play.

My heart ached a little, but I waited.

Then, one of the boys turned and smiled at Dalton.

Then he threw the ball, and Dalton caught it.

My heart danced a little. We both smiled.

Three little boys were playing ball.

My heart jumped up into my throat, my eyes got a little wet.

They see you buddy.

To be known, to have someone not only see you but include you is something most of us want. It's what most of us need to thrive and in so many ways.

To love, and be loved.

To see, and be seen.

To touch, and be touched.

To just be included, in a game of ball.

To be Known.

So many of us have talents, gifts, callings that we're waiting to be known for.

But, what if we were just as content to be Known. Not for what we do, for what we are, for what we offer but why isn't being a human being with a beating heart enough of a reason anymore?

I think it's enough.

I think you're enough.

I might just start carrying around a little ball in my purse, and look for anyone who might want to play. In fact, I think Dalton would like it if I did that very much.

"Somewhere, Something Incredible is Waiting to be Known" - Carl Sagan

I also think

"Somewhere, Someone Incredible is Waiting to be Known"

Dalton is a pretty incredible kid,  and today some really incredible kids became friends.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Transforming Pain into Art - 'Vincent & the Doctor'

Last night one of my most favorite Doctor Who episodes came on, Vincent.

The transformative power of pain, and suffering expressed through Art, through his eyes to canvas.

He is to this day one of the most relevant Expressionism artists our time has ever known, and one of the most tragic.

Whether you're a painter, dancer, photographer, singer, instrumentalist, teacher, graphic artist, architect, or anyone who creates anything this is for you.

For every time that you pour your heart onto the canvas, your medium isn't always the paint, or the voice, or the pen, or the click... it's the beating of your heart, the pain of your past, the disregard for your talents, the misunderstood, the anger, the fist.

In this particular episode, the novel idea that a time traveler 'The Doctor' could give Vincent Van Gogh a glimpse of his celebrated art, years and years later is touching and gives Vincent a perspective of his prolific talents. That may be something we never experience, and if we did, would it redefine why we do what we do?

Why are you doing it?

What if you never received another commission for your work?

How many singers and entertainers have walked through the revolving door of the entertainment business to never be relevant to their field of work? Thousands.

It's a hard place in this world to remain "Relevant", that's why we scratch our heads when we see performers disembowel their dignity for twerking and crying kittens, because it is getting increasingly difficult to be "Relevant" when we continually throw out the baby with the bath water in the world of Art and Entertainment.

More than that, can we transcend our consumer mindset to be able to restore talent into the things that once again reach us in the darkest places where someone can transform pain and suffering into something beautiful?

Would we ever try if no one ever noticed?

Increasingly, I believe we are quitting on ourselves.

It always sounds like a great notion, "Dance like no one is watching," but I'm afraid that we've stopped dancing because no one is watching.

If you're an artist, a poet, a teacher, a dreamer, a singer, an iPhone photographer, a Tumblr, ... forget about the "Like" button today.

Go create something for you.

Whatever stirs your passion, makes you want to sing in the shower, gives you goose bumps, reminds you of the smell of dust after it rains, Go!! Create!! Do It!!

Life isn't Show and Tell, it's GO and DO.

And, if you don't know where to start... start with your dirty car and take your finger and in that annoying sticky film on your window, draw a heart.

Just Begin.

Start Again. Start Again. Start Again.

And Again.

Use your pain, use your joy, use your sorrow, use your life.

You may touch lives today, or ten hundred years from now.

That's why it's relevant.

It's not just a piece of Art, it's a piece of YOU and that becomes timeless.

That, is Relevant.