Who Else Needs Some Encouraging Words?

“Unprecedented” is the big word in our house. It perfectly describes what our city, our state, our country, our world is going through. 

As I tell my almost-twelve-year-old son, no one really knows. Everyone is making it up as we go. Trying to figure out what needs to be done to keep people healthy and safe.

I recently read Michael J. Fox’s slim memoir A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Future…

They say that sometimes books come into your lives when you most need them. Well, there was one part I most definitely needed to read. It helped me, and I share it with you this week in hopes that it will also help you during these uncertain times.

“Don’t spend a lot of time imagining the worst-case scenario. It rarely goes down as you imagine it will, and if by some fluke it does, you will have lived it twice. When things go bad, don’t run, don’t hide. Stick it out, and be scrupulous in facing every part of your fear. Try to be still. It will take time, but you’ll find that even the gravest problems are finite — and that your choices are infinite.”

Worries and Promises

Now is a time for art projects, reading, and homework. My little artist when he was just 2 years old.

It’s a difficult time in our world right now.

It’s scary. And unpredictable. And more scary.

And in the midst of all this uncertainty, all this toilet-paper-buying, all this hand-washing, I’m trying to remain calm and reassuring, both for my son and myself.

No one prepares you for difficult conversations with kids.

I remember when I was still teaching. Having to talk to my fourth graders the day after the Sandy Hook tragedy. They were scared. They wanted reassurances and promises. And I could only promise them so much. I promised them that my number one job each day is to keep them healthy and safe. And I promised them that everyone at our elementary school felt the same way.

Now I’m having to talk to my almost-twelve-year-old son about a virus I have difficulty spelling. 

For my son, the coronavirus became more real when the NBA cancelled games and suspended the season. And on the same night we got that information, we found out one of our favorite actors, Tom Hanks, had contracted the illness. 

Though Los Angeles schools are now shut-down for at least two weeks, our family is managing. We’re lucky. I write from home, and thankfully, we’re not reliant on the meals provided by my son’s school. We’ll get through this, because really, what other choice is there.

But what do I tell my son? What can I promise him during these unprecedented times?

The same thing I told my students. My number one job is to keep him healthy and safe.

Wishing you all health and safety and hope you surround yourselves with things that make you feel good and cozy. For us, it’s hot chocolate, good books, microwave popcorn, and the reassurance that we have plenty of toilet paper stashed away.


Connecting With ‘The Pretty One’

The latest book on my “just read” list is Keah Brown’s The Pretty One. 

I first saw the book at Target and was immediately intrigued by the author’s smile and subtitle – “On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons To Fall In Love With Me.”

Keah Brown and I are different.

She is in her twenties; I am in my forties.

She is black; I am white.

Her disability is visible; mine is invisible.

However, her book proves a very common theme – the more specific you can get in your writing, the more you’ll find it relates to so many different people. You don’t have to be like Keah Brown to read this book. In fact, maybe it’s better if you’re not. Because then you’re forced to go along with Ms. Brown for this ride; to get a sense of what it is like when most of the movies you enjoy watching don’t feature a character that looks like you. (Although, like Ms. Brown and her sister, many of my friends did refer to my younger sister as the “pretty one.”)

Here are a few takeaways I’d like to share with you this week:

“The loss of control is where the true manifestation of my anxiety begins: the fact that you’re put under and you have no idea what is being done to your body, but you lead with the hope that it is the right thing, as strangers cut into your body in an effort to make it better. The reality is that I frequently cut myself open in the figurative sense when I share bits of myself with readers and audiences, but the idea of being cut open in real life will never not worry me despite the many experiences I have had.” 

“The pain is still there when it wants to be. The pain is one of the factors of disability that I cannot control. All I can do is try my best to take back the narrative about what living with disabilities is like.”  

“I like that my journey has not been easy, because then I would not have my stories to tell. Getting to that place of thought was hard, but so much of my life makes sense in these terms.”

“Imagine if we gave ourselves the same sort of love, attention, and understanding we give the people we love. If we allowed our vulnerability to fuel us to be better people, to say and do more, to feel in and navigate a world that champions tears as much as it does strength, to see tears and crying as signs of strength, even.” 

“I have always believed it is imperative that we learn from the experiences and histories of other people to better understand each other and ourselves.”


Just Because You Can’t See It, Doesn’t Make It Less Real

You don’t see the wind. But you know it’s there when you hear the wind chime.

“The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. 

The struggles within yourself – 

the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – 

that’s where it’s at.”

– Jesse Owens

I had an experience that made me think of this quote. 

Many times over the years I’ve been told I don’t look sick.

And I don’t feel sick. 

I think of sick as throwing up, coughing, fever. I’m not sick. (Thankfully).

I am uncomfortable. In pain. 

And the worst part is when the pain just randomly hits out of nowhere. Sometimes the pain makes sense. I spend 30 minutes pulling weeds and gardening, my legs hurt. My son and I go shopping at Target (such a huge store), and I’m hurting.

But a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I went out to lunch. I was ok. We were walking to our car in the adjoining parking lot, and all of a sudden I clutched my husband’s hand. An intense pain gripped my left thigh. We found a ledge to sit down on. And while I tried to take deep breaths, I quietly cried behind my sunglasses.

I cried because of the pain.

And, I cried because I was out with my husband, celebrating his birthday, and I couldn’t even walk to our car. 

The pain subsided enough for me to get up and keep walking. But for the rest of the day my thigh hurt. The kind of lingering hurt you get after you’ve clumsily walked into the corner of a table or something. 

Except I hadn’t walked into anything. I had simply walked.

And some days, it’s harder than others.