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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Would You Dare To Go ‘All In’ On A Dream?

There's something magical about deciding to go all in. Photo Credit: Brian Taylor Photography In that moment when you make the heart-pounding decision to commit to doing whatever it is you most need to do, energy starts flowing through you. Things happen to make you feel as though you're not alone, as though Something or Someone is blessing your efforts. It's as though a mysterious force actually wants you to succeed. This is both unnerving and exciting. Just a year ago, I dreamed (and feared the dream) of becoming a full-time writer. I longed to work on projects ...
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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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Get Outta Here, Guilt: Staying Close While Saying Goodbye

Here's my theory: moving is like throwing a stone over the lake of your life -- eventually, the ripples reach to every part of the water. I arrived at this idea as I talked with my mom this week. In the course of conversation, she said, "Your brother keeps forgetting to say "Alabama" instead of, "Washington, DC" when he prays." Every night at supper, Willie prays: "Thank you God for heaven and for prayers, and for food, and for my sister Caroline and Jonathan in Washington, DC ... " Remembering this, I felt a sinking sense of guilt; not only ...
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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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For You, When You Can’t See the Silver Lining: A Tale of Serenades, Special Needs, and the Best Surprise of All

Of all the surprises that my birthday held, the one I least expected was a stranger's serenade. Naturally, this requires an explanation. The week before my birthday, I'd dropped off my well-loved boots at a local shoe-repair shop to be re-soled. These boots have been my go-to footwear for two and a half years, ever since I acquired them during a freezing-cold vacation for which I was ill-prepared. (19 degrees in Alabama? When does that happen?) So, when the soles of the boots opened into holes, I determined that my friend Roberto would be the one to rescue them. Roberto ...
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Breaking News: Your Birthday is a Big Deal (As Are You).

In my book, a birthday is a Big Deal. I realize that this may make me sound a bit naive or child-like. After all, isn’t making a fuss over birthdays something you’re supposed to, well, outgrow? Many of us claim to have outgrown birthdays, but I don't think that's true. It's more that we've metered our expectations. We've lived long enough to know that many celebrations don't turn out as planned, that high expectations are a setup for disappointment. We've had friends and family members forget our special day, and, in turn, we've forgotten the special days of others. We've ...
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100 Posts on Disability, Caregiving, and Courage (and Why We Fear Public Speaking More than Death)

I stare down at the small pile before me: an outline of my talk (8 pages long), 2 books to read from, and 1 cough drop, just in case things get desperate. This is it, I think. There's no going back now. I'm standing in front of a small audience at St. Francis of Assisi church, about to give a talk entitled, "Not A Burden, but a Privilege:  Ministry Alongside People with Special Needs." And boy oh boy, am I nervous. I try not to think about the camera filming me, or the raw ache in my throat that had ...
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My Greatest Teacher in the Art of Acceptance: My Brother with Autism

This is the 99th published post here at A Wish Come Clear. With the 100th post around the corner, I'm thinking about another milestone that's coming up soon: my younger brother Willie's 25th birthday. (Willie has autism, as well as myriad creative gifts; he came up with the name 'A Wish Come Clear'.) Willie has been talking about his 25th birthday since, well, the day after his 24th. At regular intervals, he announces, "On May 10, 2012, Willie will be 25 years old!" And then, of course, we gently prompt, "I will be 25", and he says it right back, ...
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