When A Writer Is Blocked

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On Monday I have my very first deadline for my very first article for the Special-needs blog at parents.com. I also have performance anxiety. And Pinkeye, but that is a whole other thing.

I intended to have this article written several weeks earlier. I even started it a month ago. But then I had a sick kid, sick ME, the start of Autism Acceptance month, sick kid again, class parties (I was a sucker and volunteered to be room mom), Easter, Spring Break, sick kid again again, loss of a loved one and subsequent arrangements and gatherings, sick ME again (with pinkeye that I caught taking the sick kid to the doctor)… and on and on. You get the drift. Basically, LIFE.

When I woke up today I was EXHAUSTED. It was the very first day in three weeks that I felt like I could sit and catch my breath. Except that I have a pile of laundry, a sink full of dirty dishes, and a house in otherwise total disarray. And then I realized that if I want to get any feedback from the editor, before my article is due on Monday, I have to finish it today so she can read it before she goes home for the weekend.

I really want her feedback because I feel an immense amount of self-imposed pressure to write the Best. Article. EVERRRR.

I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to have an occasional featured post on the Parents website. It was exactly what I had hoped for and had been working towards. Then about an hour later I was absolutely terrified. Terrified that I wouldn’t be good enough, and that people might laugh at me because there are other writers out there that are better than me. I worried I would make grammatical mistakes and look foolish. Most of all, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to think of anything to write, or that the words I did write wouldn’t be worth reading.

Why do we punish ourselves so much with self-doubt? And why is it, even when we have an opportunity in front of us that we find incredibly exciting, we are so willing to let all the other mess of life get in the way of accomplishing our goals?

Oh, and why is it that I have been inspired to write SEVERAL posts this week that are thoughtful and compelling (if I do say so myself), but still can’t finish the one I most want to do???

ENOUGH, I say. I’m going to go grab another cup of coffee and then I’m going to write.

I am going to finish that article. I am also going to have to trust that, even though it will NOT be the “best article ever,” somehow it WILL make the world a better place.

My words matter, because they come from my heart.

Wish me luck!

(Image is of a coffee cup, pen, and paper. All are shrouded in shadow. Just like my thoughts.)

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Random Acts of Kindness Week

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HUNDREDS of cards and letters. That was the response of former students when they learned that a beloved, retired teacher was very ill. And their response was just in time. Click here to read the whole story of how the community rallied around a great man in the days before his death. They sent “Letters to Mr. Goss,” and it all began in honor of Random Acts of Kindness week.

This year Random Acts of Kindness week is February 9-15. Let’s get started today! If you need some help getting inspired here are some suggestions on how to get the kindness flowing. The world is in desperate need of more kindness. What can YOU do to help make the world a better place? Do something unexpected for a stranger? Make amends for a past wrongdoing? Seek out someone who made a difference in your life and finally tell them THANK YOU? It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, it just has to be kind. Whatever it is, go DO IT! And then come back and tell us about it! Go out there and spread some kindness!

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The Last Lights Shining

Every year it seems that my house is last one on our street with Christmas lights still shining. I like to leave them up until around Epiphany/ Three Kings Day. To me it feels too hurried to spend a month of frenzied preparation, only to have it culminate abruptly in two days of even more frenzied celebration (depending on your family situation). The very next day we all seem far too ready to simply move on with our regular lives, because “Christmas is over.”

I need more than that. I need time to simply sit, and revel, and bask, and it seems that it is only in the stillness of the days following all the activity of celebration that I finally find Christmas. Once I find it I also wish to keep it for as long as possible. I totally understand that some people want a fresh, orderly start in time for the New Year, and that’s what works for them. But in my experience no celebration of a New Year feels complete without also bringing along the last of the light of Christmas. It serves as a beacon of love, and joy, and hope; illuminating our path for the new days ahead.

I gaze upon those lights of ours, rending the darkness one last night, and I try to draw their brightness deep into my heart. Their warmth reminds me of this truth:

Christmas has come, Christmas is here, and Christmas will remain.

I can cling to that, even if I find myself in the dark.

May the light of Christmas continue to shine for each of you this New Year.

I Watched You Dance: What I wish I could have told the father of an adult son with Down Syndrome (SeriouslyNotBoring.com)

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Dear Father: I once watched you and your adult son, who has Down Syndrome, enjoying an outdoor summer concert together. I still think about that day, because I couldn’t stop staring at the two of you (but not for the reason one might think). The relationship you have with your son was one of the most beautiful, precious things I have ever seen. It brought tears to my eyes. I wanted to talk to you and your son so badly, but out of respect for you (and my husband, who gets embarrassed when I make a scene) I simply observed from a distance. But today, as I reflect on what I witnessed, you continue to have my admiration. Continue reading

We Are the Champions

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Behold the tiny champions. My children completed training with a running club at their school and then this past weekend ran in a one-mile kids race. In the rain. During pollen season. Even without the extra complications it would still be a HUGE deal. I am so proud of them!

My children have been slowly losing interest in physical activity despite parental encouragement (or maybe because of it). Part of that is because organized sports create a great deal of anxiety for them, even though we started them out on teams very young. They have gotten bored with our small cul-de-sac and tiny backyard (suburbia is not always idyllic). There is also a shortage of boys for them to play with on our street that are NOT doing some sort of organized game. My oldest has asthma and my youngest is on the Autism Spectrum, so sometimes that can further complicate exercise or play (many a day my boys came back inside with tears streaming down their faces).  My husband and I have endured a lot of frustration trying to figure out how to best encourage them to be more active and spend more time outside. And don’t bother trying to judge us & say, “Stop making excuses and get those kids outside!” Just don’t. Moving on…

Continue reading