Sunday, June 29, 2008

When the student is ready....

In the past year I had a professor who quoted to me several times "when the student is ready, the teacher will come." She turned out to be one heck of a teacher. I realize how lucky I am to have had so many amazing people who have come in and out of my life who have inspired me, taught me a lesson however large or small, and somehow impacted me for the better.

I think the first time this happened was when I was very young. His name was Ron Tucker and he was my oboe instructor. He was passionate about his music, kind and inspiring. He was a great male role model when I needed one, and his passion for what he did inspired me to always strive to do something I was passionate about. Long ago that was music, my dream was to be a classical musician living in a loft in New York, eventually that dream transformed into something very different yet I'm still as passionate about my work as Ron was about his oboe and bassoon. Each time I hear Ravel or the notes from Sheherazade, I'm reminded of that passion.

I didn't feel that way again about a teacher for a very long time. Not until much later when I was working direct support and sent to a training. From that moment on, I was inspired to do something, to change my approach. Later, from this same teacher I learned not only about what I wanted to be professionally, but I also learned how to be a better mother, friend, lover, daughter etc...I am forever grateful to Guy who taught me these things.

I have always wanted to travel the world, in my younger idealistic days I would travel abroad and make a difference. After having children I though this would never happen, yet I met a professor, Dr. P, who has stirred in me the desire to follow my heart even if it is abroad, and through him I have learned that it is possible, children or not. He's a great man doing great things and I like so many other's have had the opportunity to see and hear his passion for what he believes in.

I had a professor earlier this year, Dr. B, who made such a difference for me that I returned to the Church, I opened my eyes and my heart and followed it home, and without her I think it would have taken a lot longer.

I've also had teacher's in people who don't necessarily carry the title. My son has taught me some of the most powerful lesson's I believe I will ever learn. My mother, my daughter's, my husband they all help me learn and grow each day. My friends, my co worker's, my wise guardian and fierce leader, they all teach me on an on-going basis.

I have been so fortunate in my life to have had so many great mentor's, teacher's and friends. But I think those lesson's surround us, they always there, waiting to be learned but we have to be ready. So I guess, really I'm fortunate that not only did all these great people come into my life, but that I was somehow ready for the lessons they needed to teach me.

Open your heart and your mind to the world around you, pay attention and soak it all in! You may not realize it at the time, but when you are ready, your teacher will come.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Today is another not so hot day- I feel just plain cruddy, but I'm not whining.

After an amuzing e-mail conversation with my wise guadian today, I have been struck by some responses to those strangers who inquire about my gait. (After today I won't whine anymore).

So here goes, when strangers ask "what happened to you?" I could respond with:

I was shanked in the leg while in prison,

Old war injury, shrapnil is still in there

Football injury, ruined my pro career

I'm drunk

You're drunk, I'm walking fine

Shark attack while swimming in lake Erie

Just got off my horse, he's parked around the corner

I injured it practicing the karma sutra

Parenting is rough

Ya know that magic trick where the magician traps you in a box and saws you in half?

When was the last time you had sex?

Sarcasm is funny! I know all these responses are rude and definitely not non-violent,but sometimes it would be nice to respond to rude questions with a rude comeback. Okay, I'm done with that now, I promise tomorrow I'll be back to my perky and empathetic self!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bad Day

I had a rough weekend. It started with going to pick up my car which cost significantly more than I had hoped, there went my son's birthday party and season tickets to the local amusement park...but I had my car back, and she was running smoothly, thank you Bill the mechanic! As depressing as that expense was, I usually don't let things get me down...but then my leg decided to do it's best impression of a sausage! My right leg and foot are horribly swollen and tight, I attribute it to the psoriatic arthritis. I went to the urgent care facility nearby and while waiting there I saw an older woman come in. I believe she had probably fallen as she was holding her bottom and having obvious difficulty walking. She sat down and I noticed her legs...they looked like mine. She was in her eighties, I in my thirties, this didn't seem right.

I came home for the first time and cried about this lovely autoimmune disorder. I didn't feel that I should feel sorry for myself, or that the PA is necessarily "bad" it has just become a new part of my life, something that I have to make accommodations for. This weekend though for the first time I cried because I am in pain, I cried because I am tired, I cried because my body doesn't work like a 33 year old's body is "suppose" to work. Got that out of my system and moved on.

Then today I became angry. The funny thing with my PA is that it isn't something that people can generally see, when it is visible via my limp or the oh so sexy T.E.D. hose I so fashionably donned today, people suddenly feel they have the right to inquire about my medical history. I don't mean people who know me, and are concerned when they see have difficulty getting around, I mean complete strangers! When I limp, strangers think they can say, "hey, did you hurt yourself?" or "ooh, what happened." A short answer like no I didn't injure myself is never satisfactory and they want to know more, and me being me, I politely offer my medical history.

This evening I was waiting for my son while he had an appointment and a complete stranger who saw me sitting and waiting asked "what happened?" I tried to brush it off with a polite answer, but he continued, saying how neat T.E.D hose are. Does he know what he is talking about? Has he ever had to wear these awful, itchy, completely unfashionable things? My anger at the hundreds of rude people who have inquired about my limp or my hose boiled over, and rather rudely I responded by saying "yeah, they're great to need at 33 years old, and they bring such nice attention." Immediately I felt awful as he quickly excused himself, and wished me "luck with that."

So, I feel bad because I was terribly mean to a stranger, I'm angry that people are so darn nosey, and frustrated that my body has changed and I must adjust. I will try not to be so rude again in the future, but honestly, I feel as if I should just put a sign around my neck detailing my medical records! So if you see me, limping around somewhere, compliment me on my clothes, my great fashion sense, or great lipstick, but please don't point and stare at my hose or ask me what happened, results could be hazardous!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wake up! (world update)

According to Amnesty Internationals 2008 report, which you can access and view for yourself at, revealed that people are still not allowed to speak freely in over 77 countries across the globe. Additionally, 54 countries still maintain unfair trials and often abuse within the penal system, while in at least 81 countries people continue to be tortured or ill treated. In Ethiopia alone the army carries out executions, rape and torture, but this is widespread across many nations, particularly those struggling with extreme poverty and oppression.

AI made several recommendations for the coming year which includes a challenge to China to uphold the promise to allow freedom of speech and free press, also urging them to end "re-education through labor" programs. They also challenge Russia to allow for political dissent and allow no "impunity" on the human rights violations occurring in Chechnya. Finally, the U.S. is urged to close Guantanamo Bay and other secret detention facilities and allow for fair trial. Additionally the U.S. is urged to end the torture and ill treatment of prisoners within these systems. Several countries were asked to end the practice of rendition.

People's human rights are violated on a routine basis across the globe, yet few of us pay attention. What's worse is that not all human rights violations are viewed in the same way. While people with disabilities are being neglected, abused, tortured and killed across the globe, Amnesty International barely offers this issue any recognition. With attention these situations can change. Reports from 1994-1997 revealing the severe neglect and abuse of children with disabilities in Russian orphanages, caused a small uproar that led to organizations standing up to promote change. Volunteers began to work to provide daily needs in these facilities and since these children's have have changed! They are no longer malnourished and neglected and treatment continues to improve. Yet, in Ireland patients with mental health disorders and disabilities are forced to stay in long term wards and are neglected and abused, and although attention was brought to the situation in the past few years, the country is still cited for inadequate inspection and care in organizations meant to support people with disabilities. The most horrible pictures and reports I have seen came out of Romania. Young children with disabilities tied to beds, bony from malnutrition and languishing in a state of neglect. These atrocities are not listed high in the priorities of Amnesty International and other organizations. I say this is much a human rights violation as any other and it's time people recognized it as such! All human rights abuses should stop, but we need to include the rights of people with disabilities along with everyone elses!

Stand up, say something, pay attention and GET INVOLVED! Even if it is as small as writing a letter or telling someone else, please send a message that the violation of rights of people with disabilities is just as important to us and as criminal as the violent acts carried out against non-disabled people.
For more info. on Romania visit these links:

"Disabled Children Confined and Abused in Romania" (ABC News)

Video: "Orphans 'Near Death' in Romania" (ABC News)

Report: "Romania’s Segregation and Abuse of Infants and Children with Disabilities" (Mental Disability Rights International)

"Romania Acknowledges Child Care Problems" (Associated Press via Newsday)

"EP member: international adoptions not a solution for institutionalized children" (Bucharest Daily News)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Penis Envy

I love being a woman, I identify strongly with my femininity and I'm definitely a "girly girl." Yet today, for the first time, for a brief moment in time I wished I had a penis! I was on my way home from work, which as you may know by now is a long way for me, when my lovely car decided she was tired. The car stopped smack dab in the middle of the busiest road during rush hour! I turned and turned the key, but nothing happened! Cars came screeching behind me, whizzing past honking their horns and undoubtedly calling me a litany of names. I called my husband, my darling of a husband, who though he was over an hour away said "I'll be there as soon as I can, be careful."

I sat in the car feeling helpless, I had called my husband, now what? I became aware that it would be safer to get out of the car for although I had my flashers on the cars speeding behind me didn't seem to realize the vehicle was stopped until they were right on top of me. Very carefully I got out and stood in the weeds beside the highway. Car after car drove past containing people inside who apparently thought it was some type of entertainment to stare at the lady on the side of the road in heels. No one stopped to help, but plenty of people honked angrily (because I totally stopped my car in the middle of the road on purpose). I suddenly had a thought, if I were a man I would know what to do, if I were a man I could push the car elsewhere, if I were a man I wouldn't feel so...helpless.

Eventually a cop showed who called a tow truck regardless of the fact that I told her my husband was on his way and had already called a truck. The truck showed up and pulled my car to a place of safety until the next truck and my husband appeared. I took the opportunity to call friends and catch up. At this point I decided that I didn't need to be a man, but I didn't need to be helpless either so I decided that I would take some classes in mechanics (Go ahead, those of you know me can pause to laugh, yes I know what a funny image, Cheryl underneath a car with her high heels hanging out from under!). Eventually the second tow truck came and my husband made his way to me.

Now, we drove almost the whole way home in James' van "Grimace" (the van is named grimace because it is purple). Guess what happened, you'll never believe it, the van got a flat! At this point James began to get flustered, I stayed positive "it's OK, we're close to home, and you have a spare." He got out the spare and began to remove the bolts from the tire when his jack (or whatever tooly thingy that was) snapped. Now he was helpless! He has a penis, but he too was helpless. We ended up having to call my mom to come get the two of us! I love irony, and I love that God has a sense of humor!

I guess today I learned that we all need help, penis or no penis!I'm glad I'm a woman still, but I will learn how to fix a car...or at least get a AAA membership!

Monday, June 16, 2008

List of Little Things

The little things that make me happy:

No matter how many times my son insists I'm I nerd, he still loves to make me laugh,

My youngest daughter's hand in mine,

My oldest daughter's independent, dramatic spirit,

My mom laughing until she cries,

My husband's surprise embrace from behind,

When my boss comes in in the morning,

When D. laughs,

When K. is carefree,

When I connect with an old friend through a silly blog (Michelle), and having an old friend who's known me longer than anyone outside my family,

When someone tells me I've been helpful,

When I know I've been helpful,

When I feel my Nannan and Grandad with me even though they're not here,

When I think of my husband and still get butterflies,

Picking up a book and not being able to put it down,

waking up to a new day...

...Make your own list, I dare you not to smile!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Today is Father's Day, so I'd like to start by wishing a Happy Father's Day to my what a man James. He is a wonderful father and step-father and incredible man. I am so glad he has become my family.

Family...this is something I have thought a lot about lately. Sometimes, the family we are born into isn't so much something lovely as it is something to survive. My own family is great in many ways, my mother has become an inspiration to me and a friend, my sister, a friend and fellow working mother- busy, dedicated, desperate for five minutes alone like so many of us! My father...Well he's my Dad, but I had to reconcile long ago the dad I had with the dad I wanted. When I was younger I cried for hours after watching Father of the Bride (the newer one), yes it's a touching, funny movie, but who would cry for hours? Well...I would! I cried when I realized that Steve Martin's character was very similar to the dad I wanted, but not the one I got. Now this is not a pity party though, I have learned many things because of my father. I have learned that I am strong, I am smart, I am beautiful, I am good, I CAN DO ANYTHING! No matter what I heard from him growing up, no matter how many tongue lashings he handed out, I have found these things despite him. I have forgiven and mourned the dad I wished for, and am grateful for who I am because in large part who I am is a direct result of being raised by him.

Here's the thing with family, we can be born into one that shapes us whether good or bad and we have no control over that. Later, we can stumble upon another family. Not the family we are born with, but the family that adopts us, the people who come into our lives (I believe very purposefully with the help of God), and they support us, celebrate us for exactly who we are and they help shape us into the best versions of ourselves, the people we were always meant to be. I have found that in my James, I have found new family with my children, and I have found family at work.

I ended up at my workplace by some magical force, I know that this is where I am supposed to be at this moment. I am surrounded by people who I am a better person for knowing. Have you ever seen that visa commercial with the schoolboys in backpacks? The line at the end is "Being with people who get you...priceless." I have found people who get me. A wise guardian who gives us wings, a dynamic leader who believes all things are possible, and a group of amazing people who believe we can do something amazing. I have found my best friends here, I have found a new family and I am the best FAB ever because of it.

The world is a sometimes scary but magical place. Open your eyes to the people around you and learn to trust the rhyme of the universe, and you will find the people who get you, it really is priceless!

Friday, June 13, 2008

What a man

Remember that song what a man? I always joke that my husband is a what a man, but truly he is, I am blessed. Well yesterday I met another what a man. As you noted if you read yesterday's blog I was very excited about Dave Hingsburger presenting in Butler. The conference finished today, and today was equally amazing resulting in a standing o. Anyway, when Dave pulled up yesterday he had Joe, his partner with him. The minute Joe got of the car, I found him to be very warm, one of those people others are just drawn to. He was also handsome, full of grace,humor and patience. Unfortunately, he had to be very patient with me both days, because as his warmth made me comfortable, I found it too easy to blather on at him and in my excitement both days I repeatedly made a jackass out of myself. I'm OK with that though, because you can't be jackass if you don't put yourself out there, and the truth is most people won't remember by next week that you embarrassed yourself. Anyway, Joe was patient, kind, warm, funny and so many other things.

I noticed as Dave was presenting that Joe was watching the whole time. He wasn't just watching, but actively participating, laughing and remaining truly engaged. Now of course it's not shocking that someone should be engaged and entertained when Dave speaks, but Joe has heard all these stories many times. Each time though, he responded as if hearing it for the first time and delighted in it. Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but I can only hear my husband's stories so many times before I'm ready for some new ones. But not Joe, he was as passionate about what he heard as those of us experiencing it for the first time! So not only was I struck by Joe as a person, but by the relationship of two people. Joe and Dave work together, live together, drive all over God's creation together, but they are not sick of each other. How many people can say that? I speculate not a lot. They share a respectful, lovely relationship based on care and built on each person's individual skill, talents, likes etc...

We don't always get born into a family that lifts us up and celebrates who we are or who we will become, but when we watch for it, we find other people who get placed in our lives to do just that. They become real family. I am so glad I have my own what a man in James, for these are things we share, and I'm so glad I met another what a man in Joe. I hope that the rest of you can enjoy such beautiful relationships.

p.s. I did ask Joe if it was OK for me to reference him, I apologize that in my sleepy excited state yesterday I spelled Dave's name wrong!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I may pee my pants!

I couldn't sleep last night, I went to bed early then tossed and turned. It was like Christmas Eve, I was a kid again, trying so hard to get to sleep because I knew I needed to or Santa wouldn't come (or in the case, it would be very difficult for me to get up at 4am), but too excited about seeing Santa (or in this case, Dave Hingsburger) to actually fall asleep. So, at 4am too tired to think, but too excited to feel tired I bounced out of bed and prepared for my 80 minute trek to work. My 80 minute trek didn't help any to calm me down, and by the time I arrived in Butler, I was literally bouncing up and down. After set up and preparation and waiting...he arrived, and I went and did it, I told him I was so excited I may pee my pants!

Now, let me take a moment to explain, I know I have said this before, but I really am a nerd, a truly fabulous one but a nerd nonetheless. For myself (and I know several others as well- Curly I'm talking to you now), the people I most admire, who do amazing work, are like rock stars! Put Dave Hingsburger in leather pants and I'd probably throw my bra at him! But this is what excites me, this is what I'm passionate about, this is my meaning in life so please excuse my serious and probably scary enthusiasm!

After all the excitement, and all my hopes about what today would be, I walked away surprised. As much as I built this event up in my head while channeling Freddie in the wee hours of the morning, Dave was even more incredible than I expected! Today I am truly grateful for David Hingsburger (and Joe, for those of you who read Dave's blog, you'll know who Joe is). I walked away today inspired, motivated, excited and also just a wee bit exhausted ( I really need to sleep tonight). I am thankful for Dave and his amazing gift, his gift of story telling, humor and incredible insight. I am also grateful for his gift of humility, he very clearly demonstrated today that he (and we) should never assume we have all the answers, that there is always more to learn. Dave is sharing that lesson with us, and I am grateful.

Today was a GREAT day! I was surrounded by passionate, excited people experiencing greatness and inspiration. I hope that today will set everyone's hearts afire with passion to do something, to make a difference, to follow Dave's example and his experience to create experiences of their own.

I know from having read Dave's blog that he's not always comfortable getting praise, and if he happens to read this I'm sorry, I just really needed to say thank you for sharing your gift! Those of you who are reading this and have never vistited his blog, please go see it now, by comparison anything you see here is not half as inspired! Click the link on this page for Chewing the Fat.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Today was a great day! It started with a meeting with one of my favorite people and mentor's, then progressed to a movie with my kids, followed by paddle boats and ending with banana splits! Great day indeed.

Now, many of my days are spent with my children. I am the mother of three, so entertainment in our house can consist of fart jokes from my eleven year old, chatter about boys from my nine year old and teddy bears and magical lands for my four year old. Our television often finds itself hosting purple dinosaurs or rock video's, and the adults in my house have started to find children's programming to be as fascinating as philosophical, sociological, historical and psychological studies. I have found that movies made for children often have deep and important meaning. Hang in there before you start laughing at me.

We went to see Kung Fu Panda today. My husband and I giggled along with the kids, but we also had a lovely discussion following the movie about it's deeper meaning. Yes, Jack Black performing the voice of a Panda had deep meaning. Po, the panda had great dreams about who he wanted to be, but mostly he was laughed at by others, called "fat" among other things, and had little faith in himself. By the end of the movie, he and the villagers around him discovered that there was "no secret ingredient" to greatness, it's all in your faith. Po thought that he would have to become something other than himself, that others would need to "change" and turn him into the person he wanted be. What everyone learned by the end of the film was that he did not need to be changed...he was already the perfect Po, he just needed to believe in himself and have others believe.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with a mother earlier this week. I met with a mother of a gentleman who is being supported in an adult training facility. At work, he often struggles, yet at home he is happy. His mother very clearly identified why. When he goes anywhere else, people want to change him, they want him to be someone else, do something else, conform and fit the mold of subservience. At home he is accepted for exactly who he is. His mother called him the "perfect Ricky" and she reached across the table, took my hand and said "just like you are the perfect Cheryl." She's right, and Kung Fu Panda is right, we're all perfect as we are, our motivation and meaning is our own and others cannot change that. We just need other's to believe as we need to have faith in ourselves.

So much of my job is about people who want someone else change, but the thing is we can't change other people, it's just not possible, nor is it necessary. When we begin to accept people for who they are as opposed to who we think we want them to be, our worlds will be more peaceful and happy.

So, until the next kids movie comes with a new inspiring meaning, I think I'll introduce everyone to Po, who is perfect just as he is...just like you and me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Sam Keen said..."The more you become a connoisseur of gratitude, the less you are victim of resentment, depression and despair. Gratitude will act as an elixir that will gradually dissolve the hard shell of your ego and transform you into a generous being. The sense of gratitude produces true spiritual alchemy, makes us magnanimous-large souled."

Several days ago I wrote about accepting appreciation, and appreciating one's self. It only makes sense that the blog to follow would be written about giving appreciation. As noted by Keen, resentment, depression and despair are often related to an inability to not only identify with our greatness but by extension the greatness of others. Witnessing something beautiful that someone else has created or done can be an amazing thing, but for many it can be difficult. When we are driven by insecurity and self doubt, we are less able to truly appreciate someone else without feelings of jealousy or a sense of inferiority. This often produces a sense of anger toward the other person, and we may find ourselves attempting to sabotage or take away from their gift. When we begin to appreciate ourselves and our own talents, it becomes easier to see the talents of others as a gift to all rather than a threat to self.

Be wary when you stand to appreciate someone else, that you do not do so as a means of manipulation or "stroking" or in some insincere attempt to be "nice." People will always know when this is the case, and it is usually better to just say nothing at all than to be fraudulent. as Marshall Rosenberg says "express appreciation as a way to celebrate, not to manipulate." And why wouldn't we celebrate one another? Each of us is so amazing, and when someone does something that enhances our life or someone else's, should we not celebrate it and embrace it as the beautiful thing that it is.

Celebrate! celebrate yourself, celebrate others, celebrate the sunny day! Be appreciative and thrive on the way another's gifts or your gifts or the gifts of the world have enriched your life. Then swim in the beautiful connection this will create with other human beings. Watch the other person's face as they realize that your appreciation is sincere and a testament to something they have done in an amazing way, often they then become appreciative of the recognition and will continue great pursuits as will you.

So start thanking people, recognize how another's actions have contributed to your well-being, how your needs have been fulfilled, and how pleasureful it is have to have those needs fulfilled. Stop noticing what's wrong, and start appreciating what's right, it really is a wonderful experience!