Instructions for Life: ‘Listen to the Rhythm. Don’t Be Scared.’

If you've never seen the movie Strictly Ballroom, I recommend that you remedy this oversight immediately. It’s hard to explain why I love the film. It has something to do with the fairy-tale feeling it evokes, with its over-the-top costumes and generalized insanity. It has something to do with the fact that it’s a family favorite, that I grew up quoting it. But it’s more than that. I love Strictly Ballroom because it’s a story about active rebellion and the gift of doing things differently, getting perspective and attending to the essentials, and celebrating and accepting people as they are. ...
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The Summer I Ran Away (and What Brought Me Home)

Hilton Head, 2012. Photo Credit: Donna Fischer Once upon a time, I ran away from home. I ran in a very structured, organized, responsible sort of way, which is to say, I disguised the escape. *** When my husband and I visited family last month, we spent time with my parents, brother, grandparents, and an aunt and uncle too. I'm blessed with a wonderful extended family, and I feel particularly close to this aunt and uncle. Why? Because I lived with them for a summer seven years ago. When people asked me why I was staying with my ...
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What Holds You Up? Or, the Hands that Frame Your Risks

Photo Credit: Ashley Baker I hopped on my bike and started pedaling, determined to arrive on time. I'd left home a little bit late, but I could still make it on time if I tried. Even though I was moving quickly, I savored the crisp autumn morning around me. It was a perfect day for yoga in the park, a donation-based event hosted by Shoals Yoga. As I pulled up to Wilson Park, I heard bells chiming the hour. After locking my bike, I pulled out my yoga mat and joined the other yogis on the grass. Glad ...
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This is Real Love: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sometimes, your choice to care comes back to bite you. Literally. Sometimes, the choice to welcome a sweet, spunky little kitten into your home -- a choice you made with gladness -- can get you into trouble.  Or to put another way: If you're ever in need of a punishment to inflict upon your worst (hypothetical) enemies, here's an idea: Infest their home with fleas. Do this while they're on vacation, so that when they return, travel-weary from, say, 10 hours of driving, they'll be greeted by legions of leaping, ravenous bugs that weren't there when they left. As you've ...
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The Responsibility of a Dream Realized: Welcome, Bootsie.

When I woke up last Friday, I had no idea that a dream was about to come true. It was a typical day in Alabama. I filled our truck with bags of laundry and drove to our friends Chris and Laura's house to use their (generously shared) washing machine. As I drove, I was reminded of how fast life can change. Just a few weeks ago, I despaired of learning to drive our stick-shift truck. But thanks to your encouragement and a commitment to practice, I'm driving myself around town. Amazing. While the laundry spun, I told Laura how much ...
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Commitment Is (Not) For The Birds, Or, Show Up and See What Happens

Sometimes, it's all too much! I'm going to tell you a secret: I don't always feel like showing up to write posts every week. Much as I love to write, sometimes, I just don't feel the love. My mind kicks in with complaints: "Again? Can't I skip it?!" Often, I feel resistance because I'm scared to write about what's most alive in me, but other times, I just want to play hooky from the written word. And I have a feeling that it's true for you, too. It can be hard to summon the dedication it takes to ...
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I Wanted To Blend In, But Special Needs Mean Standing Out

She leaned toward me as she said, "I'd always wanted to blend. You know? I never wanted to stand out. And when I had my son, I knew that I would have to lay that down, and it was hard." Photo Credit: Brian Taylor Photography My new friend Kristy was sharing her experience as a mom to a child with special needs, speaking about her challenges in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way. It takes courage to speak one's truth to a (relative) stranger, and I admired her for it. I leaned in, listening. "I know just what you mean," ...
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Trying to Learn, Seeking to Love? Start Small. Always.

A mosquito lands on my leg, and I swat it away. I'm in our front yard, pulling weeds with my husband, Jonathan, and trying to understand my own confusion. It's the perfect time of day to be outside, just before the sun sets in our small town in Alabama. As I pull out the roots, I'm thinking about the conversation I just had with my mom and my brother Willie. I'm thinking about how, for all the knowledge we as humans have gained, there are still so many things we don't know. For example, we don't know precisely why one ...
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On Caregiving and Paradox: Growing Up to Be a Kid Again

"When I grow up, I want to be ... a kid again!" So proclaimed a t-shirt of a friend (and Vassar College housemate) of mine. I remembered it recently because of what I've been learning: that being a real grown-up means embracing the part of oneself that is -- and always will be -- a child. Over the last two weeks, my husband and I have been on an extended 'moving tour'. We relocated from DC to Alabama, but instead of settling into our new (old) house right away, we dropped off our furniture and continued on. Moving had its ...
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The Rumors are True: On Moving 750+ Miles Away, Seeing Past the Surface of Special Needs, and Having a Hand to Hold

Yes, it's really happening: my husband Jonathan and I are relocating from Washington DC to a small town in Alabama this week. Soon, we'll be on the road, with everything in transit, everything in flux. For a couple who likes their daily routines, this is a destabilizing prospect. It's a bittersweet ending, but it's also a beginning. A new adventure is held out to us, and we're reaching to grasp it. Even as one life seems to slip away, another is on the horizon, fast drawing near. Even as I'm hugging old friends goodbye, an invisible hand seems to be ...
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