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A Guest Post and Links AND Happy Halloween!

On Saturday, Varda of The Squashed Bologna (a.k.a. @squashedmom) asked me to contribute to her Special Needs Siblings Saturday (SNSS) feature. This was more than an honor, and let me tell you – if you ever do guest post for Varda, she will make you feel like a celebrity in her introduction. Talk about VIP treatment!

Please come visit me there and leave a comment so she knows I have friends. And click on the button below to see more SNSS posts.

SNSS

Thanks so much Varda!

I also found a number of links to share this week. Hope you enjoy them:

In Support of Anna! (Have you written something? Let me know.)
Utilizing the Power of Social Media
Tweet for Margaret
For Jack: Will You Help Us #LiftMargaret? (Also on Chicago Now)
Online Community Rallies for a Girl Who Lost Brother

So I’m not the only one who thinks being sick in bed sounds kind of great…
Silence of the Lambs masks for kids!
We all have different parenting styles – so why sweat (judge) the small stuff?
Too funny: “faking anger” with your kids to make a point (and yes – I totally do this)
Feeling sentimental about mess – I should try this…
A great reminder to be as intrusive as you want about what your kids are doing online.
Want to feature a home project or decor job? Tips for taking better room “interiors” pictures for your blog.

FINALLY – it’s Halloween today. And in spite of Saturday’s snow and the current toe-numbing temperature outside, we are very excited!

Have a fabulous night of fake gore and Disney princesses!

(Want to comment? Click the cake in the top left corner of this post – or just click HERE.)

Dynamic Family Dynamics

1/17/14

This post was originally published on The Squashed Bologna in October 2011. I came across the link and decided to retroactively publish it here too. Hard to believe that was over two years ago…

Dynamic Family Dynamics

Often when asked about the level of chaos and drama in my house, I’ll say that “I have a special needs child, an explosive child and a girl.” That pretty much sums it up.

But let me backtrack a bit.

I have three children – Oliver, my six year old, and George and Eleanor, my five year old twins. And just in case you’re wondering – no, that age difference was not planned. Nor was the two-for-one pregnancy. But no matter how dramatic and chaotic it may be, I never lose sight of how lucky I am to have these three entirely unique people in my life – to be able to watch them grow.

Like any other parent, I once looked into my children’s newborn faces and dreamed about their futures. I imagined them as happy and healthy kids. So close in age, they would be friends. They would grow up together and then go on to attend college, find careers… have families.

I always knew that they were really just on loan to me. I would raise them, but they would eventually leave to find their own way in the world. And I looked forward to watching it all unfold.

We had some basic expectations for the roles they would play, of course. Oliver would be the big brother, and look out for his not-that-much younger siblings. Eleanor would be a daddy’s girl because they all are in my husband’s extended family. George would be the middle child – even though he is only a minute older than his sister – and as a loud and demanding infant, he seemed destined to be a handful.

And some of this ended up being true. Eleanor is a shameless daddy’s girl and George has taken the term “handful” to a whole new level. But Oliver is not your average, everyday big brother. He is my special needs child.

The twins were born when he was 18 months old. And around that time, it was becoming obvious that he was different from other toddlers. His speech wasn’t developing with the lightning speed that I witnessed in other kids. He wasn’t as social and trusting. He was more interested in throwing blocks in than he was in using them to build towers.

Years later, after special needs preschool and various therapies, Oliver is sweet, handsome boy with severe sensory processing disorders. He also has an Autism Spectrum label: PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified).

The behaviors and challenges that qualify him for a Spectrum label are primarily noticeable in his communication and language skills, but he also has some more subtle problems with motor skills. We’ve been lucky to find a couple of alternative therapies that have been nothing short of magic as far as I’m concerned. And Oliver is always making progress – moving forward. But it’s never fast enough for him to catch up to, let alone keep up with, his peers.

And it’s not just other kids his age anymore. Oliver is now officially behind the skill levels of his siblings. Over time, George and Eleanor have become my barometer for what Oliver will hopefully learn how to do.

People are confused by our oldest son because he “looks normal.” But they haven’t witnessed Oliver’s daily struggles with things that have come so naturally to his brother and sister. Like sustaining conversation, understanding the rules in games and making friends. They don’t understand why it’s George who plays light sabers with the older boys across the street while Oliver plays with Thomas trains in the dirt. It should be the other way around, right?

They also have no idea how incredibly painful this is to watch.

For all of my love for them as individuals – all of my gratitude for their health and happiness – it breaks my heart to see my oldest fade into the background while his younger brother and sister become such stars. To see the babies of the family take over so many of the older sibling roles that should have been Oliver’s, by right.

And I know that sounds petty and unfair – to expect that the oldest would automatically be the front man for the band…the leader of the pack. But that’s the typical family dynamic, right? And didn’t I expect to have a “typical” family? Didn’t we all?

So my husband and I have had to put aside some of our new parent dreams and expectations for our children – our family. It was hard. And sometimes I still feel a little sad. I worry.

I worry about the near future when the twins start asking questions about why they can do things that their big brother can’t. So far, they haven’t. They don’t compare our family to others. It seems normal to them that George is the one who complains about Oliver messing up his…whatever it is he’s doing (remember – George is my explosive child, and there’s always a crisis). Or for Eleanor to act as spokesperson for her big brother when people ask him questions he’s not yet developmentally capable of answering.

But as we become less insular and spend more time with the rest of the world at large, it’s inevitable that my two younger children will wonder why we’re different from other families.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve avoided thinking about this for a long time. On some level, I’ve been wishing that Oliver would just become “normal enough.” That therapies and IEP reports aside, the kids in our neighborhood – and George and Eleanor – would see him as just another kid. Maybe a little goofy or quirky sometimes – but not so much that he couldn’t fly under the radar.

Then maybe someday when Oliver would be capable of engaging in a complex discussion, we could all talk about his personal challenges. Together as a family – with Oliver participating in this conversation about him.

It shouldn’t matter, I know. But I just really hate the idea of talking about Oliver to his siblings before I can talk to HIM about everything. I would feel like a betrayal. Like it was now me denying him his right to be the older brother.

I may have to do that someday – but I’m not ready. Not yet.

In a way – these ideas are entirely new for our family. We haven’t had to think about them.

So I don’t have personal stories to tell about how our children work around the special needs that make Oliver different from other six year olds. As of yet, the twins don’t really recognize that Oliver is different. He’s just Oliver. And I’m selfishly holding on to that as long as possible with no plan for the future.

Until now, I guess. Until I began writing this and reading about the experiences of other families with “special needs siblings.”

I’ve written numerous posts about Oliver’s special needs on my own blog, but this is the first time that I’ve actually addressed the issue of how those special needs affect his relationships with his siblings. And because I’ve always taken the Scarlett O’Hara approach of dealing with what I have to today, and leaving the rest for tomorrow – I’m now in uncharted waters.

I love the idea of Oliver being the big brother an taking care of his little brother and sister. But for now, and possibly for a long time (possibly forever) that’s not going to be our reality. In a couple of years it may be the younger brother and sister standing between Oliver and bullies on the playground. It’s still too soon to tell – but not so far off that I can’t imagine that possible future.

Will they stand up for Oliver? I think Eleanor would. As a girl, she has an innate maternal side. She seeks to nurture in a way that her brothers just don’t. But George? I don’t know about George.

He is so full of enthusiasm for life, that he doesn’t always notice other people as he races to grab the brass ring. He means well – but he’s a scrapper. He may unwittingly trample Oliver in his efforts to follow the older boys with their war games and skateboard ramps. I just don’t know.

But I do know that this is going to be painful at times… and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified by the uncertain future. That I didn’t wonder how many more of my dreams that future will will steal from me.

But I find great comfort in the fact that some of my dreams are already coming true. My children are happy and healthy. They are friends. They are growing up together. They may or may not all go to college, but each one of them can find a purpose in life – something they can consider their career.

Probably the most important dream I have for them is family. The families I once imagined for them included marriage and children. And right now I have no reason to doubt that this is possible for them. For all of them.

My dream of them all having their own families might actually come true. And it might not. But it doesn’t matter because whether they get married or not – have children or not – they will always have each other.

They will always be a family.

Guest Posting at Prada Today

That is, I Don’t Think Prada is the Answer They’re Looking For. But that’s a bit of a mouthful.

I’m talking about some of my favorite Etsy and indie finds. Here is a peek:




Come visit and leave me a comment with something from your holiday wish list (doesn’t matter if it’s real or fantasy – mine is entirely parallel universe).

As Good as It Gets (Alternately Titled: The Time I Put a Picture of My Ass on the Internet)

This is a guest post I wrote for Notes from the Grove several weeks ago. I had originally planned to post it here before having second thoughts. That is, second thoughts about how it might be interpreted.

Intent is so often misconstrued by the the content police (i.e. judgies who like to finger wag and meanies who like to spew venom in comments). But now that it’s “out there” and I survived without any one taking it the wrong way – I thought I’d put it here as well.

I would hate to think that anyone really believed I was posting pictures of myself out of any narcissistic leanings.

Let’s be clear. I am not in the least bit narcissistic about my body. Sparkling personality, sharp wit and killer good looks – of course! But body image? Not so much…

me at the beach, 1989

And I thought I was fat. Shoot me now.

Seriously – look at that. I was a totally normal looking teenage girl. I was not fat. And more importantly, I was unpuckered, unwrinkled and unmarked by that wily crone, Old Age. The now very real threat that only the hubris of youth could so coolly dismiss. Just that imaginary “something” that goes bump in the night for them. An urban legend.

Spider veins had of yet to stake their flag in my thighs and start mapping out their descent toward my ankles. Cellulite was strictly imaginary. And crows feet were something that only old people needed to worry about.

Why did I waste so much time worrying about looking fat?

Well – partly because at that age, I could have passed for a woman in her twenties while so many other girls still retained those boyish figures that the world at large applauds. That ideal that will never go out of fashion no matter how many Kim Kardashians or J Los celebrate the curvier side of physical beauty.

Also because I had entirely too much time on my hands. But that’s getting into a whole other youth wasted on the young diatribe. I just think it’s a shame that I didn’t appreciate everything that was lovely about my youth while I was in it.

And of course, the boys never help. I mean, how many teenage boys daydream about a really nice girl who likes to read and has zero talent for keg-side small talk?

It would be incredibly short sighted to place 100% of the blame for self esteem issues in young girls on men. But they do play their part.

Women have been known to laugh about how predictable men can be with their priorities. Not all men of course – but lets be honest: most men do go for looks first. At least until they mature and start to realize how boring women who never felt the need to have a personality can be.

I once (when I was young and had a little too much time on my hands) came up with a series of questions that perfectly illustrated this point. I would ask guys I knew what “the typical man’s” response would be. Not the really great guy inside them who we all hope will come through in the end – but that gut reaction guy. The one who is at best, programmed by society and at worst, a true pig at heart.

The reaction I was looking for was the one not always verbalized. It was the first thought that came to mind. And I have to say, for the most part, they all gave the exact same answer:

Me: Hey – there’s a girl I want you to meet!

Guy: Really? What’s she like?

Me: She has an amazing personality.

Guy: What does she look like? (but really thinking: “amazing personality…girls always say that when they mean ugly.”)

Me: Okay…DO OVER! There’s a girl I want you to meet! She has an amazing personality AND the most beautiful face.

Guy: That sounds good…what else? (but really thinking: “Beautiful face! The kiss of death – that means she’s fat.”)

Me: Right. I see where this is going… Let’s try it this way. There’s a girl I want you to meet! She has an amazing body.

Guy: Really? What’s her name?

Disclaimer: I KNOW that most men grow out of this (point in fact – the responses became much more cautious as my “subjects” and I got older). And truly, everyone has a different idea of what “an amazing body” means.

But my point is that there is so much focus on whether women’s bodies are meeting mass media standards (something that is impossible for most of us) that we all fall into that same priority trap. And the horny teenage boys are the worst.

At least in my experience growing up on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, that is. If you come from an area or culture where this is not the case, please consider yourself excluded from my sweeping generalizations.

So yeah – the insecurities of young girls are subject to some tie in with the expectations of the boys whom they wish to impress. That’s not news to anyone. But it’s not something you really acknowledge when you’re a young girl. And I was no exception.

But why even go there? Why the nostalgic melancholy? Why bother to even think about this now that I’m older, wiser and far too busy to care about whether I can still pull off a mini skirt?

Because all of this lamenting for not appreciating what I had when I had it makes me consider what I have now.

Do I currently look like the teenager in the picture above? Not exactly – I mean, a lot has changed. But what about the pictures of me from right now?

In 2029 will I look back and say, “why did I worry about looking wrinkled. I had such lovely thirty-seven year old skin. What a waste of time and energy…” or “why did I think my legs were so bad? With all of that running around after small children, I was in great shape.

Who knows what I’ll lament in the future. But I’m thinking I may just cut that off at the pass.

I’m going to think more about what looks good than what looks bad. About what makes me more attractive all around, not just physically. And I’m going to make my fifty-seven year old self feel that I made the most of what I had when I had it. Then I’ll do the same thing again when I’m fifty-seven.

So first step. Accept that I do not have a Hollywood-approved ass. BUT be happy that I have a husband-approved ass.

He even took a picture at the beach when I wasn’t looking.

Yup. That’s me and my son Oliver. This is probably the MOST flattering picture of my husband-approved ass, like EVER. But it’s still me.

The lighting is good, my “problem areas” are somewhat hidden and something about the way I’m standing seems to be stretching out those dimples and puckers (I won’t even go into the hereditary knee pudge that’s all but invisible). But it’s still a picture of me. Me after thirty days of shredding and dieting in anticipation of a week at the beach. But still me. Me before two vacations, one Halloween and uncounted “I’ll just eat what I want today and then start the diet tomorrow” weight gain. But still me. Me at thirty-seven.

This is as good as it gets for me at thirty-seven. So I’m going to save that picture and say “damn I look good” now. Not “damn, I looked good” later.

Want some more? It’s even better when surrounded by sparkling waves (and that grainy chiaroscuro effect on my thighs doesn’t hurt!)


Is my self love operating at 100% capacity?

No way. All of that “it’s a flattering picture” talk while true, fronts for a universally pervasive flaw focus.

Give me a break – it’s been thirty-seven years. I can’t turn that around in a day.

But girl’s got to start somewhere. And posting a picture of my ass on the Internet is as good a place as any. So there you have it. My personal best for age thirty-seven. I’m so framing that in twenty years…

The Wrong Shoes


I’m not here today. Instead I’m telling stories over at A Lil’ Welsh Rarebit.

I’ve never written fiction before but was inspired by the lovely and talented Ann of Ann’s Rants. Her fantastic piece, “Date Night” was a recent runner up for the WOW-WomenOnWriting Flash Fiction contest. You can read an interview she gave to the WOW blog, The Muffin, HERE.

I love the idea of conjuring a story, but have never actually tried. Let me know what you think!

Have You Ever Wondered What I Look Like?

I don’t know about you, but I really like to know the faces behind those blog posts. So I love pictures and vlogs. And of course, I never post pictures of myself and I never vlog. This is mainly because I’m never in any pictures (I’m generally behind the camera) and I never have anything to vlog about.

But that all ends today! Chris asked me to take some pictures of a little sous chef work I did for his cooking blog, Dad Can Cook yesterday. When our crappy camera started acting up (you know – the one George semi-broke at the beach), I decided to vlog it.

So go HERE to see the face (and voice, god help me – just as bad as on the voice mail greetings…) behind The Big Piece of Cake and Wishing True.

Before you go though, a few disclaimers/lessons learned:

1. Our kitchen is a hideously outdated galley, so you will most likely see flashes of cheap cabinetry and decorative tile.

2. People with thin lips should really splash on a little color before vlogging. I make Morticia Adams look like Angelina Jolie.

3. A low chignon-like pony tail is not a great look on camera – particularly in bad lighting (see makeup issue above).

4. It is absolutely time to get that deviated septum corrected. My nose looks like it’s on the side of my head.

5. The issue with still images featured on vlog windows when not playing being horribly unflattering seems to apply to me as well. Times 100.

6. This is my first ever attempt at a vlog – so treat it as you would a preschooler’s Mother’s Day art project (“Oh, that’s VERY good! Not quite sure what it is…but it’s very special.“)

Guest Posting over at Scary Mommy’s Place Today

Remember how I was supposed to guest post for Scary Mommy today, but I sent her something that wasn’t at all appropriate for the theme she had in mind? And I just posted it here yesterday?

No? Well go read that first!

Anyway, Scary Mommy was kind enough to just pull an oldie but a goodie from my archives. So go visit me there and tell me if you are “that mom” too.

Descent into Scary Mommyhood

One of my favorite online friends, Scary Mommy honored me with an invitation to guest post for her this week. She said that she thought it might be fun to have “a few people post their scary mommy moments (whatever that may mean).” And apparently, I completely missed the point…

She was talking about not being perfect – those times when you feel like “bad mom.” And I went in a totally different direction. Ultimately, she’s posting something else of mine that is more along the lines of what she had in mind. But since I went to the trouble of writing this thing, I’m posting it here.

So pretend that you are over at Scary Mommy’s blog and pretend that I completely nailed her guest post theme. And then leave me comments telling me what a tour de force this is so I can feel a little less moronic about the miscommunication.

Descent into Scary Mommyhood

When Jill asked me to guest post this week, she mentioned something about “scary mommy moments.” And my immediate thought was, “where do I start?!

I suppose that’s a universal theme of motherhood, with its never-ending firsts, challenges and fears. But along with that comes all of the triumphs, the self discovery and the great gift of testing and proving your merit as a parent. It’s a heady experience.

Being a parent is absolutely the most amazing thing that I’ve ever done. Of course it’s just as terrifying as it is thrilling. And much of the time, it also really sucks.

My initiation into the world of scary mommyhood was the complete upheaval, the world turned on it’s head, the holy crap, what the hell have I gotten myself into slap in the face, otherwise known as bringing your first baby home from the hospital.

The mystery of shell shocked new parent expressions that I had previously puzzled over was suddenly revealed. I now understood. They had just willingly signed away life as they once knew it.

And I think that’s when it starts. Truly, it’s right there at the beginning. Babies may fool you for those first few sleepy days in the hospital…but the minute they cross the threshold of their new home, they turn into mini Terminators on a mission to throw their parents’ once peaceful existence into a state of constant chaos. At least for a little while.

When sleep, something so basic to a functional life, becomes a privilege and not a right, you join the ranks of zombies so easily identified as new parents. And it really gets scary when you realize that you have no idea when the madness will end, if ever.

After one particularly taxing day with baby Oliver, I looked at my husband and said quite definitively, “I don’t know how people take care of multiples – I could never do it.

Epilogue: 18 months later I gave birth to twins.

Another scary mommy milestone would be caring for those twins during my maternity leave. Oliver was a week late and entered this world as a healthy, nine pound bruiser. Sure, he was fussy – but nothing beyond the expected newborn hoopla.

George and Eleanor were born just shy of 37 weeks and were each under six pounds. After my first tank of a baby, I didn’t know what to make of those skinny little things. They kept their wrinkly knees pulled up in a perpetual fetal position (common with c-section babies). And they looked so fragile, that even my 18 months of first baby experience made me handle them with extra care. Their tiny boniness was so foreign to me that when I dressed them in the morning I would often think that it felt like changing kittens.

They had reflux and colic and eczema and…well, let’s just say that I spent more time at the doctor’s office in those three months than I did in the previous 18 months with Oliver.

And taking care of both of them at once! Feeding them in tandem, bathing one while the other screamed, finally getting one to settle down for a nap, only to have the other wake up…When people knowingly advised me to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” I would reply, “oh yeah? Which one?” (The Miss Manners book got thrown out the window during that period of my life…)

But of course, they too eventually learned to sit up and hold their bottles, and entertain themselves and each other. And the scary new mommy phase quietly lifted away – quite the anticlimax to its bone crushing arrival.

I also think we all experience a touch of amnesia when it comes to those early months since the screaming newborn does at some point morph into a charming, cooing infant. Love and smug admiration for our offspring will inevitably win out in the end.

But then there is always something else… Some new scary development to snap us out of our self satisfied torpor. There is no relaxing in scary mommyhood.

My oldest child just turned four, and within that time I’ve experienced the NICU, the ER, hourly wake up calls for nights on end, speech and developmental delays, biting, fighting, tantrums, teething, crying, screaming and screaming and screaming…

But I’ve also experienced peals of laughter, hand holding, I wuv yous, flashes of genius, spirited identity building, earnest honesty, sticky sweet kisses, general center of the universeness and fervent gratitude for every single day that I have with those little monsters.

They have simplified my life and brought my priorities into sharp focus. My dreams for them are infinite, while my dreams for myself drop off somewhere after “showering with the door closed.” But that’s just for now because they are a daily reminder that anything is possible. They have aged me and made me feel young again. And yes – they scare the crap out of me.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. From the very beginning, they made it clear that no matter how scary life with them can be, every day is worth it. And every day is ours.

Magical Thinking, The Secret and Wishing Really, Really Hard

*Don’t forget to enter my Blair Waldorf approved giveaway from Andrea’s Beau! Click here for details.

Sorry for the re-post – but I wanted to put this guest post on my own site as well. And if you didn’t read it – well here is your second chance.

I wrote it for my friend Christy’s blog, so she figures prominently – and it’s a little different from my usual style – but my mom said it was the best mothers day present I could give her, so that was nice!

Magical Thinking, The Secret and Wishing Really, Really Hard
May 7, 2009

When I first met Christy – I was almost bowled over by her enthusiasm. The Christy experience is one you never forget. Her excitement for life is truly a force to be reckoned with.

And she’s a good woman to have in your corner. I often call her my own personal cheerleader. If it were up to Christy, I’d have an agent and a book deal tomorrow, all based on the haphazard scribblings in my personal blog. I have no real writing experience, but Christy sees no hindrance there. She doesn’t waste time worrying about obstacles – she sees only infinite possibility. This ability to focus all of her energy on “making things happen” has served her well. She found her dream husband, her dream career and became the mother of a baby who looks to have sprung directly from a Botticelli painting of angels. She knows how to live life to the fullest and does so every day. And it’s all due to the fact that this girl keeps her eye on the prize.

Everyone has heard of “The Secret” by now, and Christy is in fact, a success story for this Oprah-approved method for finding happiness in life. In one of our recent conversations she told me that when she was single and feeling ready to meet Mr. Right, she thought about everything she would want in a husband and always kept that in the periphery of her thoughts. She went on plenty of bad to so-so dates, but never doubted that this perfect man was out there. She could picture him clearly and knew that she would recognize him the minute he appeared.
And apparently she did, because they’ve been married for five years.

And when they were ready to have the as of then unknown Ms. Foo…the same rules applied. As it did for the dream job. While direct routes may not have been available to her, Christy always knew what her final destination would be be. This complete confidence comes from knowing what you want. And now, thanks to a wildly popular self help book endorsed by talk show hosts everywhere, anyone can be a Christy.

I’m not mocking The Secret of course, but it just strikes me as funny that people need a manual for something that boils down to common sense and a positive attitude. It’s all so simple, or at least it can be if you let it.

So it’s no wonder that a seasoned professional in self-doubt like me would find inspiration here. And not just because it sounds so logical and attainable. For me, this approach to life also sounds very familiar…

While she may not engender Christy’s particular brand of zest for life, my mother is another force to be reckoned with. Jo Coveny is a firm believer in taking responsibility for your own happiness. She didn’t “see the light” as early on as Christy did – but hey, better late than never right?

It all started when I was in elementary school and found myself making frequent trips with her to the Georgetown new age bookstore, “YES! Books” (if you read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, this may sound familiar – Anna Brashares grew up in the DC area and actually featured this blast from my past in her book). Crystal healing and meditation became common topics of discussion in my house and I believe there were “workshops” involved as well…

Since we were children, my brother and I didn’t actually meditate or read up on what crystals would best absorb the negative energy causing a recurring nightmare, but we were “exposed” to my mother’s new interests. A story that mom loves to tell involves my seven year old brother answering the phone while she was meditating and telling the caller that his mother wasn’t available at that time since she was not to be disturbed while she “levitated.”

But long after the crystals became fewer and far between, the self actualization tactics held strong. And my mother was a firm believer in the laws of attraction that The Secret explains. For YEARS I’ve been hearing that if I visualize good things coming my way, they eventually will.

I’ll admit that I’ve always battled a tendency to sit back and let life happen “to” me. Playing it safe and accepting what is offered is just so much easier than asking for more. But with Jo Coveny behind me, I’ve managed to expect more when it really mattered. I have a wonderful husband and beautiful children and my friends inspire me and make me laugh every day. But there is always that one tough spot. The one that doesn’t come clean with just one scrubbing. For me it’s a lack of confidence in my ability to “be something.” And it seems to be a stain made with permanent marker.

Or maybe not.

I recently read Magical Thinking by Augustine Burroughs, and was rather taken with his attitude that he can cause things to happen simply through sheer force of will. And he had this his whole life, even while he was “running with scissors” through his outrageous childhood. I love that he just decided one day that he would write a book that would be on the New York Times best seller list – and then DID.

Magical thinking is pretty much the same concept that the The Secret outlines. That you can make things happen for yourself. And I believe this – because I’ve seen it first hand.

My mother has cancer. She has for years. It began ten years ago as breast cancer, and after a long remission, came back as lung tumors and then brain tumors. So you might wonder how this secret magical thinking BS could be working for her. And I don’t blame you, because I’ve often wondered the same thing.

But that’s just not how life works. You can never dream up a perfect life and then get it. Nothing will ever be perfect – but it can still be wonderful. And the parts that aren’t so wonderful are always subject to change. The Secret proposes that “The Universe” is always listening. If you say “hey, Universe – how about sending me a life without any problems?” – you won’t get much of a response. It seems The Universe is more of a short order cook and not quite equipped to cater to requests on that large a scale. But if you ask for something specific, then you may get better results.

My mother realized many of her dreams. She and my father moved to Key West and opened a home furnishings store. They’ve faced floods and recessions – but they’re still there. In fact their current store is even more beautiful than the first location, and they now have a new business partner and best friend to share this dream. Mom wasn’t handed a perfect situation, but she has never doubted that everything would work out in the end. She knew what she needed, knew it would happen – and then it just did.

She never dreamed of getting cancer – but she did believe that she would find the treatment necessary to get her through it. The year that she developed tumors in her brain – a condition once only treatable through radiation and with a life expectancy of a few months to a few years – the FDA approved a new chemotherapy that specifically targets brain tumors. Almost a year later, my mother’s body is almost entirely cancer free. Was this just luck – or the laws of attraction?

Who knows. Maybe both. But we’ll take it.

There was a show on TV a long time ago (one that didn’t last more than a season or two) with a character named Annie who was kind of a flake. She lost her apartment and ended up secretly living in her sister’s garage where she was storing all of her furniture. A snarky friend discovered this arrangement and responded to her claims to have “tried everything” to find a new place to live by asking, “really Annie? Have you tried wishing really really hard?” Of course her deadpan “yes Brian, I have,” was supposed to be funny. But isn’t that what the laws of attraction and magical thinking are based on? That you start with a picture of what you want? A dream. A hope. A wish.

I don’t know if I believe that wishing is enough – but I do wholeheartedly believe in Jo Coveny. And I believe in Christy. And Augustine Burroughs. And everything that they have achieved started with a wish.

Of course you have to take action to make things happen, but first you have to know what you want.

So that’s where I am now. Figuring out what I want. I already have so much – but I want more. As I should. As we all should. So I’m going to make things happen for myself. I’m going to find a career that I love. Like Christy and like my mother (and of course Augustine) I’m going to picture this and believe in it. I’m going to believe that it’s all possible and that it’s never too late. And I’m going to start by wishing really really hard.