Giving Thanks

It’s time to tell you all how grateful I am, so here we go. To my family I give thanks for loving me unconditionally and providing support in so many ways. I am the luckiest daughter, sister, mother in the world. To the friends who’ve known me since high school, I’m so grateful that you’re still in my life. Impossible to put anything over on you guys, and that’s good for keeping the ego in check. I’ve made some wonderful friends in publishing whose dedication to that world and whose sense of fun sustain me on long work days. A special shout out to my university press colleagues across the country. I love you all, I really do. To my friends in the Down syndrome community, I couldn’t imagine another community I’d rather be a part of. Our shared joys and challenges have made us so close. For friends close enough to drop in for tea and for those at the other end of my computer I am grateful. Thank you for sharing your life with me.

I’m also thankful for my job at the university, which pays me a decent wage and waives fees for my children’s education. And thankful for my union for negotiating those and other benefits for me. Thankful for friends who mentored me in my early years in publishing and taught me skills I can use to freelance, ensuring that I can continue to meet not just the needs of my family but some of our wants as well. To those who value my work and encourage others to hire me, I am grateful.

Much love to all and Happy Thanksgiving.

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Birthday Musings

Funny things, birthdays in the age of social media. It seems a day to stay offline and be with the people who are real in one’s daily life, yet one’s virtual profile is exploding with good wishes. So today I’m trying to do a bit of both. I’ve noticed in the last few months that people are taking a gratitude pledge, posting things for which they are thankful. It seems a bit of an exercise, a challenge from one person to another, and it’s made me curious about how difficult it is for people to acknowledge what is good in their lives.

I made the mental switch a while back to appreciate what I had more than lament what I didn’t. It sounds a bit sanctimonious when I write it down, but it’s made a big difference in how I approach each day. It’s as simple as knowing I am loved by my family and close friends. I’m grateful, of course, for witty, sparkling interchange with friends I mostly interact with online. And I’m always thrilled when I get to see those people IRL at annual conferences or when travelling otherwise. But with a few exceptions they’re generally not the ones I call if I want to have a howl about something sad or unjust. And that’s important to remember when trying to live in the present.

My pledge going forward into this new year is to continue to remember what’s important and what’s not, to acknowledge the good in everyday life, to nurture the relationships that sustain me, and to let go the ones that don’t. I’m grateful for everyone who took the time today to wish me a happy day. It does mean something, even if we’ve never met. I look forward to doing the same for you.

Resolve

I JUST THIS MINUTE signed up for a community about creativity and productivity, so this post serves as my resolve to work on my creative writing in a more intentional way. There. I’ve said it publicly. Good night, all.

Off on an Adventure

Russ and I are off in less than an hour on an adventure. This year the annual conference of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society is in Winnipeg,  and I impulsively submitted a speaker proposal about Russell’s daily life since he left high school in October and our involvement with Facile Waterloo Region, an organization whose board I have joined and whose services have had a large impact in Russell’s successful transition.

Russell is going with me because I’m no longer comfortable doing presentations about him without him present. He has a voice and isn’t afraid to use it. He’s going to do a piece of the presentation that talks about his best moments growing up and then talk about what he’s doing now and wants for the future. He’s done it once before and took questions at the end like a pro.

I’m going to focus a bit more on the model of independent facilitation as an alternative to government-funded programs. Independent facilitation allows the individual to “steer the course,” so to speak, and the facilitator walks along with them in their journey, helping to open doors and make connections. It’s both a one-to-one model and a network of support. The widespread success of this type of model depends on the success of our lobbying for more independent funding for people with disabilities. We are also raising funds to provide bursaries to families in need of financial support.

Anyway, I will have more to report on when I get back. In the meantime, here’s Russell.

The Next Chapter

Something very exciting is happening in Russell’s life! He has been accepted into a program called Stepping Out. It is the opportunity to live on his own for a week to see what skills he still needs before he moves out for good some day. His stay will be supported by Community Living. They will help him shop, cook, clean, catch his bus, etc., and then write a report at the end of the week what areas need work. He’s super excited for the prospect. His first night away is June 17 — I had to put them off until after my two trips away so I didn’t overwhelm myself mentally.

I’ll post more when I have more details. I need to ask a few questions that I didn’t think of when I was on the phone.

Tough Day

Tough day. The young son of a friend passed away and I cannot stop thinking of her and her husband and just how bloody awful it is. I won’t go into detail out of respect for their privacy — I’ll just say he fell ill and wasn’t able to fight off the virus. He was 14 years old. His mum and I are new friends and so I know little about their life yet, just that both of us had a passion for making the world better for our kids. If you read this, please just keep them in your thoughts.