It's been a while, and I feel bad about that. I haven't lost sight of all that I have to be grateful for, but I haven't carved out the time to get my thoughts out of my head so here goes. . .
–At the end of May, hubby and I had our triannual review for my daughter's IEP. She's made so much progress over the last three years that she no longer qualifies for school based support services. My girl–she is a rock star. She is the most inspirational person I know. She shows me every day what perseverance and determination look like. She finished her 11th grade year on the Dean's List again and with another Varsity Letter for Swim. We are so proud of her. I aspire to be more like her in so many ways. So much so, in fact, that I'm writing a book about it! (Read my post on IEPs here and on early detection and intervention here.)
–In early June, my friend Sue Schwartz and I started taking a private art class with instructor Scarlit Bloome. I mentioned Scarlit in a gratitude post I wrote back in March. She taught the art journaling class that Sue and I took through Conejo Valley Adult Ed. (Read that post here, and more about Scarlit here.) We are studying our emotions through art, collage, discussion, and writing. I'm learning a ton about myself (and Sue and Scarlit) and loving every minute of it. I'm grateful that Sue wanted to take this class with me and that Scarlit was willing to teach us a private class. There so much to say about the creative process, so much that I'm grateful for, but what I am most grateful for right now, in this moment, is COLOR. Color virtually disappeared from my family's life around the time of my daughter's diagnosis. The world of treatment is a very toilet-water colored world–industrial puke colored walls and floors and ceilings. Color has re-entered my life in a big way, and every day I make it a priority via paint and markers and glitter and ink to surround myself with it. This practice comforts and soothes me, and it helps me see beauty everywhere I look. Much more on art and creativity and healing in posts to come.
A shot of the index cards I've been working on for the ICAD challenge. (More about the challenge here.)
–Earlier this month, I was invited to attend my friend Alexia LaFortune's book launch. If you haven't picked up your copy of Sex, Love, and Spirit yet, you must. I'm grateful that Alexia wrote down her story. Her journey through shame and oppression into spiritual awareness contains lessons for us all. I'm grateful I was present on such a lovely evening, and I'm grateful for people who struggle to get the words so beautifully "right." (Find Alexia's book here.) Here she is!
I'm also grateful for the evening because I had the opportunity to meet Linda Schreyer in person. At the time, I was participating in Linda's Slipper Camp. (More about Linda and Slipper Camp here.) What a kind and generous woman. Listen, if you are person who does work that others aspire to do, please, if you have the opportunity to be a mentor or to say kind words to someone, do it! You might just make their day, week, month or year. You might help them remember why they started doing the work they are and that there's a damn good reason why they're doing it.
–I'm grateful for my friend, Fateme Banishoeib. She is an Italian born Switzerland based scientist and poet. I met Fateme at Laura Munson's Haven retreat in MT. (I'm VERY grateful for the way my life has changed and the people I've met and the work I've done from participating in Haven.) Fateme is starting a necessary dialogue about what success means. Is lack of failure success, she asks? Fateme and I will soon be embarking on a project together that will explore this idea in myriad ways. I'll keep you posted. I'm grateful that Fateme asked me to work with her, and I'm grateful for her lyrical heart and her courage and her wisdom. I have much to learn from her, especially about how women can support one another. (Check out Fateme here.) Below is pic of me with Maria Rodgers O'Rourke and Fateme from our last trip to MT.
–While I'm on the topic of Haven, I'm grateful for my friend Maria Rodgers O'Rourke. Those of you who participated in the Rising Strong book club will remember Maria's wise and compassionate comments. She has started an advice column. Check it out here. I read Maria's advice every week. I'm grateful because afterwards I feel smarter and like a better person. There are always tips and suggestions to employ in my daily life. Also, I'm grateful to share in the joy of my friend Lindsay Henry Rohde's announcement that she was signed by literary agency KT Literary. Lindsay writes YA, and she has a passion for helping young women. This good news could not have happened to a nicer, more talented or harder working person. I'm thrilled for her and for us because soon her work will be available and we can all check it out. Way to go, Lindsay! (Check out Lindsay's blog post about "the call" here.)
–Moving into the rest of summer and the future ( a time I try to ruminate less on so as to not miss what's happening right in front of my face, BUT it holds some good stuff), I'm grateful that I'm able to attend this year's NAMI convention in Denver. I hope to return with some solid information about what's trending in the field, and what NAMI's plans are for continued advocacy, support, research, and education. I'm grateful and excited to see my friend, Alison. More on her later. She's a talented artist and healer. I'm looking forward to a visit from my mom's boyfriend, Bob. Last summer routine surgery literally killed him. He was brought back to life on the operating table. I'm grateful he's alive, well enough to travel, and coming for a visit. I'm grateful I'll be taking my daughter at the end of July on a quick tour of colleges up North. The trip is one more reminder about how much progress we've made over the last several years. And last but definitely NOT least, my grandbaby boy Val turns one at the end of the month.
Phew. That's a heck of a lot of gratitude, but I think you get the picture. I'm feeling very grateful for the goodness, progress, healing, and people in my life. People I would most likely never have met had I not embarked on my writing journey. They enhance my life in so many ways. Years ago, I would have only been able to TRY to be grateful for them and happy over their successes. The little green monster lurked behind congratulatory smiles. I was lost in my mind which was often a dark place of scarcity. I wanted to share all these happy goings-on and the progress of my friends in gratitude for them, but also for the hard work I've done and changes I've made that allow me to see all this goodness for exactly what it is.
Happy Summer everyone. Look around. Good tidings are everywhere, all the time, even in the face of major distresses such as our current political climate and gun control battles. We can find and spread gratitude. We can. We have that power.