Friday, July 18, 2008

Have You Noticed? -Are Bikes the New 'Cars'?

As gas prices continue to shock, I'm seeing more and more of these on the road. Are you?

Good for the wallet, the environment and your health!

RIDE ON! -But please don't forget helmets (help prevent traumatic brain injuries (TBI)).
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Give Back! -Become an Angel Today!

There's no question that economic times are currently tough in this country. Many good folks are struggling just to make ends meet, fuel their cars, and put food on the table. Food banks in many communities are running on empty while demand grows bigger each day. People who never expected to stand in food lines or live on the street now are, including children counting on the adults in their lives to fill their empty tummies.

The line of circumstance that separates us all is thin, indeed. You don't have to look to a foreign land to fill a need. There's one waiting to be met right in your own backyard.

If ever there was a time for those of us who can help, to dig deep and share, this is it. Please consider giving to or support your local food bank TODAY.

No one should go hungry in the land of plenty. Please, don't turn away. Become part of the hunger solution, starting right now. One person can make a difference.

Remember, good karma begets good karma...
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Thursday, July 17, 2008

WWFAC Up North Retreat- Part 3- Artist Date

As promised in my original Women Writing for a Change Up North (WWFAC) retreat posting two blogs ago, above are a few of the photos I took during my artist date (that's what writer Julia Cameron calls them!) at the Landscape Depot, a wonderful business in Petoskey, Michigan, whose terrific manager gave me permission to shoot to my creative soul's contentment! Thanks!!

Angels turned out to be big inspiration for me during the outing. The church and sunset photos are from a trip to downtown Petoskey.

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

WWFAC Up North Retreat-Part 2-Elvis Prompt

As promised in my last blog entry, here's a sampling of the outstanding writing that occurred during last weekend's Women Writing for a Change Up North (WWFAC) retreat. At the beginning of the weekend, I gave each woman a welcome card with a writing prompt in it- an Elvis sticker! In short order, Christina Ryan turned the prompt into yet another incredible piece of work.

This woman's writing is simply amazing!

I'll share additional works from the retreat in the weeks ahead.


By Christina Ryan
July 2008

Remember that pot hole on Henry Street, the one that always filled up with smelly water when the river ran high and we’d either have to step in it or break mamas back with a giant step over?

Petey liked to splash our tights all polka dotted and mama’s set to scrubbing them clean for Sunday?

Remember that day we walked home from St Mary’s and all the Daddy’s were holding their heads on the front stoop at Porter’s and then we found mama on her knees underneath the clothesline. The radio static barely drowning out her sobs, her face looked just like Petey’s when Old Man Tucker chased him with the Louisville after he busted out his window?

Aunt Carlene’s Pall Mall burned to the quick—hanging from her lip like a trucker. She forgot to put the car into park and it rolled straight through the bougainvillea and the engine revved and the cousins, all wild and red haired, smacked each other as we sat staring while she hugged mama and wiped away the tears from her cheeks.

We took Necco Wafers to the tree fort with our flash light and watched them listen over and over to “Love Me Tender” and cry…

In the morning, our tights hung from the clothesline to dry… but mama let the crickets sing us to sleep the rest of that summer.

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Permission Granted! -Women Writing for a Change Up North Retreat

(From top: Lovely flowers on retreat grounds, retreat location entrance, charming Shea!, the ceremonial lighting of the circle candle, retreat leader Anni with Sister Barbara, who each graciously made sure our needs were met while at the center, & presenting our terrific group of talented women writers!).

I’m currently in a state of major life transition, committed to broadening my experiences, knowledge, creativity, and feeding my spiritual self. While special needs will always hold a special place/priority in my professional and personal heart (and on this blog), I’m also now boldly venturing into brand new creative territory while further exploring some old loves (like photography) that got set aside during the years I raised my son and daughter and prioritized special needs—those years when I hardly had time to breathe.

Permission granted.

In that spirit of self care and exploration, I attended last weekend’s Women Writing for a Change Up North (WWFAC) retreat in Petoskey, Michigan, also known as God's Country. Along with five other talented women hungry for creative sustenance, I out ran daily demands, personal demons and exhaustion to gather in supportive community.

Using the sacred gift of words, we rediscovered ourselves.

Anni, Jodi, Christina, Bronwyn, Shea and I quickly built a nurturing community of expression, fueled by each other’s acceptance, love, heart and generous words about the value of our individual works. I’ve gathered with writers before; this was different. These women weren’t here looking for kudos or agents or ego gratification or to compete on some imagined writer’s stage. They came to reclaim the artist self so often lost or suffocated amid daily demands and life trauma. We needed time alone and time in supportive community and each bravely claimed that time.

We came for the quiet necessary to hear ourselves think, and embraced sitting still.

For two nights and two days, we shared simple lodging and meals seasoned with emotional stories of self esteem and weight issues, battles with addictions and health, and the unthinkable experiences of the death of loved ones, and rape. The work of these brave women was some of the finest I’ve been privileged to share. Each brought something different to the creative table.

Pieces of cloth and patterns that at first introduction seemed odd fitting, made a stunning human quilt when joined together. We dug deep, shared openly and used powerful imagery and turns of phrasing that took my breath away. I was stunned by the beauty, intelligence, insight and wisdom of the women’s words.

I even escaped briefly Saturday afternoon for a photographer’s outing that left me giddy, and with some great new photos, some of which I am sharing with you on this blog. Check out my next two blog entries for more photos from this inspiring outing and samples of the women's writing.

I left the retreat refreshed, energized, validated, and reminded of how much I love being a creative soul—and I got five terrific new writer friends to boot. Well worth the price of admission.

Time away is priceless and restorative. Try to claim it for yourself, no matter how brief the escape.

For more information about WWFAC, visit:
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Granddoggies Go Swimming....

Sir Griff and Madame Zelda agree that the only place to be during the sultry, sweaty dog days of July is in the cool water! (or in AC!). Afterall, a dog can't just herd critters or fetch Frisbees all day long...

Don't you feel cooler just looking at them??

Me? I'm already dreamin of fall, and new boots...
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Catch It! -My 'Live! with Lisa Radio' Interview with Tim Shriver of Special Olympics

If you want to catch my interview on Live! with Lisa Radio at Yale with Tim Shriver, it's reairing as part of their best of shows on Friday, July 25th from 10 a.m. to noonWYBC-AM1340, . (Top photo: me with super producer, Gabby Durk; Middle photo- me in studio, and on the left- me with Lisa Wexler, terrific show host and the Lisa in Live! With Lisa!).

You say you just can't wait?
:) Then check out the link now and listen. It's a two-hour program with various guests. Tim Shriver comes in at about 10:20 or so and I come in after that for most of the rest of the time. Sorry I don't have the edited down version yet, but it's all worth listening to.

...and don't forget to watch for another season of the Real Housewives of NYC on Bravo! Lisa's sister, Jill Zarin, is one of the cool housewives. I admit that it's one of my guilty pleasures.

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Check it Out! Michigan's Grand Hotel Makes Travel & Leisure Cover!

The July cover of Travel & Leisure magazine highlights "50 Fabulous U.S. Travel Ideas," and features the Grand Hotel from one of my fav places in the world, Mackinac Island.

The down side to their fab choice is that now even more people will know about this jewel of an escape to another time..... but that's good news for the struggling economy.

BTW: that's my photo of the Grand Hotel above.

You can check out this gem of an island at (pronounced MackinaW)

It's all grand...
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Take Note: A New Special Needs Casting Alert!

My friend Gail is looking to help cast a child with cerebral palsy, a wheelchair user. You must live in Southern California.

Here's her request. Good luck!

"I am assisting a casting director looking to cast a Caucasian girl age 7 to 13 who has Cerebral Palsy (with wheelchair) or has any other disability that causes her to use a wheelchair; also a Southern California local, with good enough verbal skills for a speaking role on this commercial spot.

For consideration, please forward photo, name, age and contact information to me (Gail Williamson) by Monday, July 21, 2008 at and put “casting cp” in the subject line.

Please forward and post this email where ever you feel there might be someone to fit this “breakdown.”

Thank you for all submissions and you will only be contacted if the casting director would like to schedule you for an audition.

If there is a child with any disability that does not fit this ‘breakdown” but would like opportunities to audition for other productions, go to the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles website and click in the upper right on Heart & Halo Talent to register. If you fit this breakdown and would like future opportunities, besides just this one, you can also register at H&H Talent as well."

Gail WilliamsonExecutive DirectorDown Syndrome Association of Los Angeles, Inc.315 Arden Avenue, Suite 25 Glendale, CA 91203818-242-7871 voice818-242-7819

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Grand Hotel
Mackinac Island, Michigan

We live in the greatest country in the world, where it's easy to take individual freedoms for granted. How will you honor your remarkable freedom and independence in 2008?

Whatever you choose, do it justice.

..but please be careful with all those noisy and unpredictable fireworks, especially around children and pets.
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations