Sunday, April 29, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
I'm a good man, with a good heart
Had a tough time, got a rough start
But I finally learned to let it go
Now I'm right here, and I'm right now
And I'm open, knowing somehow
That my shadow days are over
My shadow days are over now
- John Mayer
Monday, April 23, 2012
Perhaps I am stronger than I think.
Perhaps I am even afraid of my strength, and turn it against myself, thus making myself weak.
Making myself secure. Making myself guilty.
Perhaps I am most afraid of the strength of God in me.
Perhaps I would rather be guilty and weak in myself,
than strong in Him whom I cannot understand.
- Thomas Merton
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
The question isn't whether or not you are going to meet adversity but how you are going to meet it. Our responsibility is not simply shielding those we care for from adversity but preparing them to meet it well.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
by Christopher Smart
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Some of this will seem insanely obvious to some of you but maybe it will scratch an itch someone else has been suffering with. My marriage is far from perfect but we are coming up on being married longer than we were unmarried so that is saying something I guess . . .
Of course I am making a broad generalization here but men are solvers and fixers.
What I mean by that is we are wired to bring order out of chaos, come up with solutions and check off tasks on a to-do list. If we can do all of that and show off our physical prowess at the same time - all the better. This is one of the reasons why so many of us love sports. Every inning, every quarter, every down is a new puzzle to be solved with both brain and brawn. This is also why we drive the women in our lives CRAZY by proposing solutions to every single problem when most often women just want to connect and be understood.
Not only do we like to fix stuff - we like to solve problems. In other words, we want to fix it our way. In fact, we would rather do a worse job our way than a better job your way. If my wife comes to me and says , "Will you please feed our daughter lunch?", I am on it! I need to solve the puzzle, come up with a solution and put it all into action resulting in a heroic "fix".
If my wife comes to me and says, "I want you to feed our daughter 1 1/2 chicken nuggets, half a jar of spinach and 14 crackers", I get frustrated. Now instead of solving and fixing the "problem" of lunch and thereby being a hero, I have become a mindless tool controlled by my wife. This is why we hate asking for directions - we want to get there our way.
When a man cannot solve or fix a problem, he will often try harder or come at it from a different direction for a time. If the problem proves unsolvable to him, he feels at risk of becoming failure. So instead of continuing to try and failing, he will ignore and walk away - there are other problems to be solved after all!
One of the ways this hard wiring comes into play in a marriage is that men believe their spouse's happiness is their responsibility. I have done a small amount of marriage counseling with engaged couples and every single time I have said this it has always been a jaw dropper. I turn to the woman and say, "You may not realize this, but he thinks he is responsible for your happiness. Whenever you aren't happy - he feels like he has failed in a primary responsibility of manhood." The woman usually says, "That's crazy". Then I turn to the man and he admits, "It's true". Commence jaw-dropping. Women instinctively know this is silly. MEN DON'T.
When a woman is unhappy, the man instinctively feels that he has failed. Think of the family dog that tucks tail and hides even if his master is angry about something that is totally unrelated to the dog. It's twisted and wrong but I have never talked with a man that did not feel this way until they were told or learned eventually on their own that Her Happiness is Not His Responsibility. Men are responsible for acting kindly, lovingly and appropriately towards their spouses. Whether their spouse is actually happy or not is not their responsibility.
Men mistakenly believe that their wife's happiness is their problem to solve and fix. Of course, no woman is going to be happy 100% of the time and so as marriage progresses and the wife remains unhappy about a handful of issues, the man starts to feel like a failure and he does what men do, he distances himself.
This has PROFOUND implications for a father of a child with special needs. There are some issues and conditions that simply cannot be fixed. They can be addressed, improved and treated but sometimes "fixing" is just not possible. When a child is not happy, whole and healthy a father is prone to feel like a failure. The temptation to distance himself from his perceived failure is huge.
What can men do about it?
1) Get your head screwed on right. The man needs to accept that his spouse will just be plain unhappy sometimes. (Hopefully) there is nothing he did to cause it and (unfortunately) nothing he can do to fix it. He can be loving, sympathetic, empathetic and supportive but in the end, to the degree that is appropriate, he needs to internally accept that Her Happiness is Not His Responsibility. He also needs to accept this truth without completely shutting down every time his spouse is upset (let's face it - sometimes her unhappiness is his fault). It is a very fine emotional line to walk and it is not easy for most men.
2) Become the super hero you have always wanted to be. What makes a hero super is when they charge into a situation in which they may not win - but they do it anyway. Your special needs child needs you more than ever. The fact that your child has special needs does not mean you have failed - distancing yourself is the failure. Remain vital and engaged even when it is exhausting and painful. The old adage "Never try to catch a falling knife" does not apply to fathers of special needs kiddos. Super hero fathers grab for the knife and often catch it by the blade - and even then we don't let go.
3) Solve what you can. You may not be able to "fix" your wife so that she is happy 24/7 but you can load the dishwasher - that's a problem you can solve and fix. You may not be able to make your child 100% happy, whole and healthy but you can track down new therapies, hunt down new services, look for better insurance coverage and apply for various governmental and non-governmental programs. These are all problems you can solve and fix. Get in the fight - stay in the fight.
What can women do about it?
1) Recognize that right or wrong, your husband is prone to feeling like a failure and when that happens he is prone to distance himself. We need to know that we have solved and fixed things from time to time. We need to feel like we are your knight in shining armor from time to time. For every legitimate concern you express, try to give him one or two "atta boys". The phrase, "I am so proud of you" does WONDERS.
2) Give him problems to fix and surrender your control so that he has the freedom to come up with his own solution. Does this mean that my daughter's lunch consists wholly of french fries and goldfish crackers from time to time? Maybe. But a lunch made of snack foods once in a while is not going to kill her and it certainly won't kill my wife to just let me do it "my way" from time to time.
3) Give him some space. As all good men do, we love our families but we are not wired to be fully engaged 24/7. When we are not given a break from time to time, we start distancing ourselves and taking breaks all the time. Carve out a 4-8 hour window once a week where your husband is not accountable. It may mean watching the game on a Saturday, it may mean he grabs a beer with buddies on Thursday nights. Whatever it is, make space for it and don't grill him about it when he gets home. "Did you have a good time?" is really the extent most men are comfortable with - he will offer more info if and when he wants.
Men are solvers and fixers. It is a wise woman that recognizes this. It is a wise man that recognizes that just because he can't solve and fix everything does not mean he is a failure.
Part 2 to come . . .
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Saturday, April 7, 2012
I got to talking with a friend last week about how I wanted to get Annie a surfboard. He said he had an old foam board in his garage I could have and so we headed on over the next day. The board he had was a little too short but his neighbors were having a garage sale and there was a beasty 9-footer for sale.
My friend asked his neighbor how much he wanted for it and his neighbor asked, "Who is it for?" I pointed to Annie (who was doing doughnuts in her wheelchair) and the neighbor said "Take it. Its free."
As it turns out, the neighbor works for 9fish and once-upon-a-time volunteered to take some athletes from the Special Olympics out surfing. This board was from that event and now is coming full circle. It's a little worse for wear so yesterday I picked up some epoxy from Home Depot and did the dad-thing.
I have vague plans to add a seat and/or handles for Annie so this is the perfect (free) first-time experimental board. But before I modify it for the wee one, I am actually excited to take it out and try it myself!
Friday, April 6, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Again from the Abilities Expo last Friday:
While the wife wrangled the wee one, I headed up and down the aisles checking out the booths. I turned a corner and immediately recognized one of the salesmen at a power chair booth. "Holy crap!", I thought, "I have to go get Holly".
I found the wife and said, "There is someone you want to meet". I wouldn't tell her who it was until we got there and I introduced them, "Mark Smith, this is my wife, Holly. Holly, this is Mark Smith, the man that writes the Powerchair Diaries." Holly's jaw dropped.
Mark Smith is a HUGE hero of ours. He is a single dad with CP who is raising a teenage daughter. He writes a blog about life: Fatherhood, being single, having a disability. His writing is honest, profound and enormously inspiring. If you aren't already following him, well, you should.
Mark was wonderful and kind, generous and gracious and meeting him was one of the highlights of the Expo.
Monday, April 2, 2012
This past Friday we went to the Abilities Expo and ran into one of our heros - Jesse Billauer!:
Here's a great segment on Jesse from Step Into Liquidhttp://youtu.be/Iu2QTV2k4ow: http://youtu.be/Iu2QTV2k4ow
He was kind and gracious and generous with his time. We got to take photos and he autographed a postcard for Annie.
This is one of those events that you know your wee one doesn't "get" just yet but when she sees this photo and postcard years from now there will come a moment when she will stop in her tracks and say, "Wait a minute . . . WOW!"
Sunday, April 1, 2012
I was raised, like these people, that one of the most important things a person can do in your life is to, “stick to your guns.” Later I found out that if your main thing is to stick to your guns, all you end up with is your guns. And they are the same guns as you started with in the beginning. The depth of our sincerity alone does not make us good. There is the possibility of us all being people of great conviction… and being wrong. A faithful life is not based solely on sincerity.
- JD Harrison
- JD Harrison