Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Autism Answer: It's Never a Mistake to Engage with Kindness!

When you love someone on the spectrum, all the old parenting/relationship cliches tend to get thrown out the window. But too often all that's left is a feeling of "Well, what the heck do I do now??"

There are lots of things you can, and should, do!! The list of tips and suggestions from wonderful autism experts (like Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD) is lovely and long! Yet, even without the specifics there is an important thing you can do--for autism and for the world--right now! Drum roll please....... you can try stuff!!! And try with kindness!!!

Often we are afraid that if we try something, we'll make a mistake. And then when we do try something, later we see what we should have done different. But guess what? When we engage with kindness, it's never a mistake! Sure, you may have said or done something that discouraged speech in that moment. Sure, you may have over reacted and put your friend/child on the spot which may have resulted in them behaving poorly or giving up in the moment. 

But you also showed interest, love, and a desire to connect! You showed a willingness to try, even if it may end in a failure of the moment. Good for you!!

With an autistic person, just as with everyone else in the world, a willingness to engage with kindness can make all the difference.

Imagine a world where no one tries for fear of failure. Where the child hiding in the corner is forgotten because we're afraid to engage, for fear of causing a meltdown. Actually, don't imagine that. It's yucky!

Instead, trust yourself and be kind enough to try and try and try until you are a shining example of learning from your mistakes and trying again!!

It's never a mistake to engage with kindness!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers

Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD (my mom!)
And my brother, Dar!
Dancing and learning and connecting...
with kindness!
And booty shaking!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Autism Answer: While My Computer Was Broken.

My computer had been broken for three days. It was lovely!
I dropped it off for repairs one morning, and then sauntered to the local 99 Cent store for treats, no rush. I played with my nieces, sipped coffee with my mom and sister, chatted with my hubby on the phone, and wandered to the park with family.
I volunteered to help out on my son's photo shoot, drove kids to work and danced with my nieces and sons at the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, rarely thinking about the work I should be doing on my computer.
And every time I would feel a tug of computer envy, watching family pop open computers and answer emails, share links for work, create posts and produce projects, I would just walk away to see which family member--which niece or brother or sister or son--was available for chit-chat or imaginative play.
Often I would think of things I wanted to share with you dear readers, or see things that made me think of an Autism Answer--some were silly, some simple, some potentially sensational--but when they slipped away because I was unable to use my computer and share, I noticed that my life and people were still available for more learnings!! And I remembered that you are busy too, and that it's all wonderfully right!!
The virtual world (along with our friends in it) is very real to many of us, and I'm happy to say that I'm comfortable and thrilled about that! And the world of family, neighbors and true-life connections is of course very real as well. 
Keeping a balance is delicious and can offer such beautiful revelations for all of our worlds!!!
So I'm sorry if I'm not around every now and then. But I'm also happy!!
Because I learned that I have such a lovely time missing you while my computer is broken, shut down or nowhere near internet!!
And while I'm missing you, I'm living and learning and gathering so much more to add to the conversations we'll have when I return. And looking forward to all the fantastic ideas and stories you'll be bringing as well!
Hugs, smiles and love!!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Autism Answer: Being Myself, and Being Different

I  have this memory that reminds me to be myself, even if I'm different.

When I was a little girl, I auditioned for a role in a Pipi Longstockings movie. In a room filled with other little girls, we were asked to take turns walking along a line of tape, imagining we were in a burning tree house and calling for Pipi's monkey friend, Mr. Nielsen.

As I nervously waited my turn I saw all the other girls desperately calling for Mr. Nielsen, but none of them seemed to remember that they would be surrounded by smoke and heat. So, armed with intention and an idea to make me stand out as the better actress and imaginer, I waited my turn. But when it got time for me to strut my stuff, I was too scared. I didn't want to stand out anymore. I just wanted my turn to be over and for everyone to stop looking at me. So, I just walked the line of tape the same way all the other little girls had done it.

Afterward, I was painfully upset with myself for chickening out. I kept wanting to say, "Wait! I was kidding! I meant to do this..." I didn't care about the role or the movie, just my own actions, or lack thereof.

It's pretty fitting that an epiphany about being comfortably myself would happen then, considering that Pipi Longstockings is one fabulously wonderful and unapologetically "herself" kinda girl!!

From that day and forever after I would remind myself to at least try. I would remind myself that whether my efforts received the intended result or not, at least I would know I had tried and been true to myself. I had listened to my own ideas and trusted them, even if they--and me!-- were different from everyone else.

I didn't always succeed, it took a lot of courage and practice, but at least I always remembered. 

And now, as I watch my children struggle similarly, I try to help them remember too!! 

It's important to be yourself, even if your different. 
It's wonderful to be yourself, especially if your different!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Autism Answer: Write Yourself a Letter of Recommendation!

A while back I went with my best friend (who moved away from me! Not cool!) to pick-up letters of recommendation from her former employers, and I had a thought...

My mom taught us the importance of specificity, especially when celebrating or correcting my autistic brothers. Saying, "Good job Dar" is nice, but also a missed opportunity to specify what he did well and why we love that he did it! "Wow Dar! You took a fair share of the bacon! What a wonderful way to stay healthy and care about the rest of us! Thank-you!" A few more words, but what a difference!!

**Random Addition: Dar taking his fair share of bacon would be something worth celebrating, let me tell you!!**

Looking at my friend's letters of recommendation I noticed that one was very boring and read like a "she was a good teacher" form letter, while the others included specific to her compliments. Seeing them written down I couldn't help but remember all the times she had been "compassionate about teaching creatively" and "gifted at respecting her students". 

I'll bet even she was reminded and encouraged!

So, this weekend, why don't we all write ourselves and our loved ones letters of recommendation? Be specific! Be kind! Have fun and do it together, or sneak away and surprise them with their morning meal! But please don't forget yourself!! Whether as a mom, dad, spouse, advocate, student or teacher of life... recommend yourself and highlight your achievements and strengths through struggle!!

I promise not to hand out homework again for the rest of the weekend!!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!! 

Author's Note: If you'd like a little help getting started, here ya go:

Dear Me:
I would like to recommend myself as an excellent advocate, world changer, and passionate person. To begin with, I choose the blogs I read with intention and only follow the classiest, coolest ones. Like Autism Answers! The classiest and coolest and hippest and cutest-kid-stories having of them all!!! 

~~Alright friends, you can take it from there...tee hee!~~

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Autism Answer: Taken from the Tip Jar!

"Teachers are trying to not let kids be kids. They are always making us sit down and learn what they want us to learn. But I always learn more when I have freedom to be myself at home than when I'm sitting around doing work at school."~Declyn (my twelve year old)

We have a tip jar sitting on the kitchen counter. I don't expect my family to drop coins or random dollar bills in it as a way to thank me for making healthy (and every once in a while, tasty!) meals. Not that I'd complain! Rather, I encourage them to add random thoughts and suggestions for life in it. 

Having that idea was one of those rare parenting moments when I patted myself on the back. I mean... how cool is that?! It means that I highlight the importance of making our ideas clear and sharing with each other! They'll practice spelling and clarity! They'll feel valuable and smart! And it underscores my belief that, though money is important and something to be proud of earning, the end goal is about filling our tip jars with ideas and beliefs and equality and passion and happiness!! Cool!!

Of course, usually when I look through the tip jar, all the tips are my own. My boys said they thought it was a cool idea, but then never add to the jar. We've had the jar for six months. I've moved it around, hoping to make the idea new again so that they'll play my game. Shay added this a few weeks ago, "We should put tips in the tip jar." Cute!! Cheeky!! Better than nothing!!

But one morning I saw that one from Declyn. The one I opened this post with, about school. I have no idea when he did it, but there it was.

And you know what I'm thinking? I freaking love the tip jar!!!! It's not that specific tip (which encouraged much fun conversation with my boys and I!) that reminds me to love the tip jar. It's the feeling of knowing my idea wasn't silly, and is going to do what I'd hoped it would. 

When we have creative and fun ideas as moms, dads, sisters, friends etc... there is very often an excitement and then a slow waning followed by giving it up. If it doesn't work in the first few days, or maybe weeks, we tend to feel silly and quit. Don't!! If the idea feels right, and you can point clearly to reasons why it truly could help, keep it up! Perhaps you can step back and re-adjust your approach a bit--like me moving the tip jar around to make it new again--but don't give it up!

Like Declyn said in his tip: we always learn more by being ourselves. So believe in your ideas and let them mature!!
Please, come on over and LIKE my Facebook page so you can comment, and we can learn from you and your family!!

And while your hanging with us, feel free to offer us some tips for our tip jar!!

Look! It's our tip jar!
Also, a witch/pumpkin thing.
Because, why not?!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Autism Answer: Remembering my Privilege

My handsome and dark skinned hubby loves me, and gets a lot of flak for it!

At work they treat him poorly and sneer,"Why'd you go and marry a white woman?" A neighbor-lady (who is also black) poured sugar in the gas tank of a car he was working on. When he asked her about it she said,"Maybe someone did it cause you married that white woman." Before we got married, his already grown kids asked,"Why would that white woman want to marry you? She must be using you for something." 

Yet no one ever talks down to me in this way for marrying a black man. I guess I get judged, but I'm never treated with this kind of obvious and open prejudiced. Of course, it's because I am a white woman. Somehow, because my hubby has dark skin, he is to  "blame" and more easily talked at with disrespect. 

My husband is a fabulous and strong man. He carries a lot, and rarely lets us get a glimpse of just how much he handles. 

However, it does help me every once in a while to remember my own privilege. To remember that the world treats each of us differently, and that we experience it differently. 

With my years of learning and growing as an autism sibling, I'm quite gifted at taking the time to remember my privilege!

It helps me for so many reasons. I can adjust expectations, I can see the world has much to learn about acceptance, I can remember that my colorful and challenged children are living in a world I can only know by asking questions. 

It helps me to remember how often my disabled brothers are attempting to navigate a world that treats them so very differently than it treats me. How they are seeing and feeling and hearing and tasting difference from a place I can only know by listening.

And wonderfully, remembering my privilege helps me to see the love my husband has for us. To know that he loves me and our boys so much louder than these accusations. 

I am pretty privileged. And I'm very loved. It's never a mistake to see that!

Hugs, smiles and love!!
Autism Answers

"It's not differences that divide us. It's our judgments that do." ~Margret Wheatley

My hubby and I
Looooonnng ago!
We've aged a lot, but we're still this happy!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Autism Answer: Making Halloween Awesome for Autism!

Spooky and wild. Scary and different. Often seen as a pretty big challenge for those on the autism spectrum, Halloween can also be an excellent opportunity for playfully fun learning’s!! 

Global autism expert, speaker/performer, author and—most importantly my mom—Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD offers some simple and surprising tips that will help your family, with or without autistic children, get the most out of this boo-tiful opportunity! Here are a few fun tips, unmasked: 

Imagination Appreciation: It’s often said that autistic kids have no imagination. Yet one won’t sleep without her clock pillow and another wants only to line up his trains and dinosaurs. What do we ‘imagine’ they are thinking? Halloween is a night for exploring and discovering who they want to be and what that looks like to them. With make-up and masks comes a chance to shape imagination. Teaching appropriate imaginative play is lurking…

Awareness in your Neighborhood: One of the ‘scary’ truths about autism is that often families avoid outings and teaching opportunities due to a lack of awareness and understanding in the world outside autism spectrum disorder. Halloween is an excellent time to introduce your quirky selves to the—let’s face it—curious neighbors. Autism awareness in your neighborhood can offer safety and friendship. The neighbors probably aren’t as scary as you think… and neither are you!

Social Skills: Whether your child is verbal, non-verbal, echolalic or only interested in calendar dates, door to door small talk (or if your child is more comfortable, handing out candy to visiting ghouls) is a once in a year opportunity to teach spooky social skills without too much pressure. Involved in parallel play there is no need for sophisticated interaction. Also, there is the immediate reward of candy!

RE: Candy and its negative effect on our kids, esp. those on a special diet. Lynette suggests that with a little creativity families can find fun ways to deal with this very real issue, but the bottom line is that experience and teaching opportunities very often outweigh the negative side effects of an evening with gluten and sugar.

You know your own children’s challenges and strengths. With these simple tips you can take advantage of this spooky night (and the days leading up to it) with intention and the important skill of fun learning! Together you and your family can take a step toward taking the "scary" out of autism! 


Hugs, smiles and love!!!!!

A Halloween Photo!
Two of my boys, two of my nieces
and my dad!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Autism Answer: Trust Instincts, not Assumptions.

I'm a true believer in trusting your instincts. 

Warning bells usually ring for a very real reason!

But most of our thoughts on what that reason is are rarely to be trusted!! The real, true one, is usually in there somewhere, surrounded by others that are born out of blame, guilt, worry, worry about worrying, concern that you're too easily concerned, other peoples opinions and judgments, our own justifications and surface wants... etc.

So I always trust my instincts, and then take a minute (sometimes a few days!) to sift through the thoughts--either alone or with someone I truly trust to help guide me to my own answer, not theirs. 

Eventually I always discover the reason for the warning bells. Sometimes the reason is pretty obvious. But often it's quite surprising and personal!!

Regardless, I'm left with the job of figuring out how to solve the real problem, rather than a million other made up ones that end up causing their own real problems because of my rush and assumptions!

Be proactive! Be busy! But remember that taking time to think deep and connect with yourself is an important part of advocating and problem solving effectively.

The clarity you're usually left with also makes coming up with solutions easier and almost fun!!!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!
Autism Answers

Friday, October 18, 2013

Autism Answer: Freedom and Fantastic Friday!!

I freakin' love Fridays!!! Though I do have to share my kids with the school, and get everyone up early enough to get them there on time, the knowledge that they will be home soon for an entire weekend--and that we can spend it ignoring the clock and doing our own thing--makes me smile!!!

I absolutely adore freedom! And so Saturdays are wickedly wonderful too! I almost never look at the clock, get dressed or comb my hair on Saturdays!! And there is no worry about getting the boys up on time, dress code issues or social stress. Just what we want, when we want!!

But the absolute freedom of Saturday brings a teeny bit of (slightly silly!) stress. I worry about using the day to it's fullest. Should I read and go for walks with the kids, or snuggle with movies and popcorn? Should we go to the park or invite friends and extended family for social time? Should we learn a skill or spring clean or re-arrange family photos?

This silly stress sometimes makes Saturday feel almost heavy. Almost! The weight of the possibilities can warp my view of freedom and find me feeling overwhelmed and nervous about wasting the day--which is funny since feeling overwhelmed is pretty much a wasted day! tee hee!

But Friday!! Fantastic Friday!! The weekend is practically here, and the routine forced on us in the morning really only makes the freedom of the evening that much sweeter! On Friday I know I had better get groceries and pay the bills on my list. I know I have to be at the school by three-twenty to get the boys, but the rest is up to me!!

And here is the answer Friday has gifted me with: we ALL crave a little routine. We all enjoy having some structure and expectations. But too many will weigh us down and make us feel judged and unfairly treated and like breaking free. While none at all can leave us feeling lost, unsure and tempted to judge ourselves harshly. But just the right amount of freedom, especially if coupled with smiles and encouragement, can help us become the best, most comfortable, versions of ourselves!!! 

I hope everyone has just the right amount of freedom this fantastic Friday!!!! 

Hugs, smiles and love!!!!

Some Fabulous Friday Sand Art!!
By: Declyn & Shay Shelton

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Autism Answer: Just 'cause it looks "Wrong", doesn't mean that it is!

I was on the back porch feeding our dogs when our "Alpha" girl came running around the corner, a dead baby rabbit flopping unnaturally in her mouth. 

I cringed and twitched and cried out,"Gross!" 

Upon realizing that she was about to be doubly fed, she quickly swallowed her organic, free-range meat (in--like--three gulps!) and pranced up to me, happy as can be.

I'll be honest. I wanted to yell at her. I wanted to tell her she was bad and disgusting. I pulled back when she tried to get my affection. But I knew full well that she hadn't done anything wrong.

In truth, she is a fabulous survivor. She's independent and a wonderful protector. A loyal family member that we adore. 

But for the next few hours, she kinda grossed me out.

It's not the first time I've had to get over her ability to catch, kill, and eat. And this time, just like all of the others, I was back to being affectionate and comfortable around her shortly. It happens quicker and quicker each time.

If I react like that when I know it's not wrong, I gotta remember to keep an eye on myself when I automatically think something is wrong.

Sometimes, it is wrong.

Most often though, it's just something I'm not used to, or it's something I don't like. That doesn't make it wrong.

I've seen people I love make others uncomfortable and cringe when they did things that were different, kinda creepy or downright crazy. But rarely were those things in any way wrong.

And when they were, it was hard for the people I love to see why, or take it serious, considering they had been told over and over for reasons that made no true sense, that so many things were wrong.

Rule of Thumb: Just because something seems wrong, doesn't mean that it is. Take a moment to reflect, discuss and decide.

Hugs, smiles and love!!!
Autism Answers

Our dogs: Deja & December
The itty bitty one is December, and she is now waaayyy bigger!
But Deja is still the boss!
Our Alpha lady!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Autism Answer: The Sunshine Award (or I Guess I'm a Blogger!)

Well, it turns out I'm a blogger, with a blog that's worthy of being nominated for The Sunshine Award. Who'd have thunk?? I'm surprised, thrilled, and honored!!

In truth, I haven't ever thought of myself as a "blogger". So, in responding to this award, I will be exploring and sharing this new label that I'm accepting with pride, while you--the reader--explore with me! I'm so happy that you're here to help me celebrate!!

“For the Sunshine Award, the blogger must:
  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger. (The beautiful, insightful, and fellow fan of the exclamation point: Words I Wheel By!! Thank-you so much!!!)
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer & let all the bloggers know they've been nominated. You cannot nominate the blogger that nominated you.”
Alright, so.... what are we waiting for?! Let's do this!!!

Eleven Random Facts About Me:

1) I eat entirely too much cheese, and drink copious amounts of soul nourishing coffee!  

2) I have four teenage sons: Jory, Tyran, Shay, and Declyn. I use everyone's real names in posts, articles and more. I grew-up in the public eye (my mom is international mental health therapist Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD) and find it very comfortable. My sons are actors, writers, dancers etc, and not only enjoy, but appreciate, being credited and bragged about publicly. Also, I truly believe that it is safer to live out loud than to hide and protect, for the most part. If there is something my family or I don't want to share, then we don't! 

3) I was a single mom for many years. I never, ever, ever imagined I would be a married woman. However, my husband and I have now been happily married for thirteen years, and I freaking love it!!!

4) I'm very comfortable talking about sex. There is so much we can learn about ourselves and human nature when we are willing to explore the insecurities, joys, and questions that present themselves during that very vulnerable and beautiful act. I also think it's a dangerous habit in our society to teach uncomfortable quickness or assume inappropriateness when sex is the topic. Many people see themselves as monsters or broken when they begin to feel sexual, and without comfort exploring the issue, there is little they can do to learn otherwise.

5) I'm very uninterested in talking about sex just for the sake of talking about sex.

6) I love reading novels. I love dancing to rock music. I love singing real loud to myself. 

7) I really, really, really love my husband, but I live for my children.

8) I am the oldest of eight kids. We are four girls and four boys. All of my brothers (who were adopted) had many labels: autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, mental retardation, auditory processing issues, and more. My mom was also on the autism spectrum, so it wasn't really that weird to us when she solved a myriad of issues (school, neighborhood, business, family bonding) by putting together a North American Prison Tour, where our entire family traveled in a van, learned life skills and performed comedy and music for prisoners. Doesn't everyone do that?

9) I have two step daughters that are older than me, and step-grandchildren that are almost my age. 
 10) My mom offered to hire me as her personal assistant and I have been growing as a writer, individual, and advocate ever since. We are an amazing team!!! And I am not surprised!

11) I have a huge crush on Mark Ruffalo. And a little crush on my dentist! (He has an accent. I love accents!)

My Answers To The Eleven Questions Words I Wheel By Posed:  

What causes are you most passionate about?

Well, that's a fun one!! Obviously, I have an interest in autism, mental health, and equality. I am very passionate about parenting, and revealing it's important and beautiful role in society. I am passionate about revealing answers and hope in the world of sexual abuse. I love the environment, organic farming, healthy habits... however, I believe that the cause I am most passionate about is an open mind and flexibility for change. The specifics (autism, environment, sexual abuse) of where I put my passion shifts, but the underlying theme remains the same. We need to be willing to change course when we discover new truths. This sounds simple--and actually is!--however it requires learning when we were wrong and complicit, and listening with an open mind to those who have very different views and attitudes. This can be frightening and challenging, but it is also always revealing and enlightening!

What project is on your to-do list that you keep meaning to finish?

That's an easy one! I've been meaning to make a to-do list! tee hee! No, seriously, the only project I have on my to-do list that isn't getting done is the writing of my novels. I have completed one outline, and worked a bit on two others. The characters live patiently in my head, waiting until my sons have all moved out of the house. You see, it turns out that when I'm writing, I'm not very nice to the real world! I have an issue with transitioning. I love my real life when I'm in it, and I love my made up lives when I'm living them, but transitioning between the two is not my strong suit! 

What are you having for dinner tonight?

Yikes!! And now, a sad truth. I'm not sure what we'll have for dinner, but can promise you this. It'll be something simple. I don't really cook. So, I'm thinking fresh-water tuna, crackers, broccoli and carrots? Or maybe cheese, crackers, salami and peppers? There is the slight possibility that I'll make spaghetti  but my boys are kinda sick of that. Since it's the only real meal I make! 

Facebook or Twitter?

Simple! Facebook for sure!! I love to use lots and lots and lots of words!! Also, Twitter kind of confuses me. It's like, a bunch of people talking all at once, and I don't exactly know what more than half of them are saying.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

For sure I would take my husband and all four of our boys to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where I did most of my growing up. We would ride subways and visit coffee shops and used book stores and breath deep and enjoy crisp fall air! Oh, did I mention we would go in the fall? Well, we would!!! I often imagine winning the lottery, renewing our passports, buying a car and heading north!! Home is where my heart is, my heart is where my boys are, and Toronto is where I was discovering myself at their age... it just seems like it would be so bloody fun!!!

Apple cider or hot chocolate?

Absolutely hot chocolate. With mostly coffee. Not quite half and half.... more like coffee with a smidgen of hot chocolate. Or, just coffee!! tee hee!

Favorite cake flavor?

No, thank-you! I'm not a fan of cake. But pie! My mom's homemade rhubarb and strawberry pie, with a cup of coffee!! Ooohhhhh.... and with Mark Ruffalo chatting about how awesome my kids are!! That would be a kick-butt awesome piece of pie!!! 

Why did you start blogging?

Let's see... I've always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mom and a writer. I jumped on the mom train pretty early, but all of my attempts at writing left me feeling embarrassed.  I'd think, "This is fun!" and then I'd think,"Who the heck cares what I think? Who cares about these people I'm making up? Who the heck do I think I am??!" So, I just stopped. 

But, I want my boys to follow their dreams. So, giving up on mine felt like bad parenting. One day I was driving, had an idea for a movie, came home and stayed up all night typing it. Then, I forced myself to share it with others. I showed my family. They said they loved it, but I wasn't sure. What I did know was that I loved it! Not necessarily my story, but the act of writing it! So, I started writing the odd thing. However, I never had a real purpose until my mom offered me the job of personal assistant and PR chick. Then, she invested a bunch of money in me, sent me to a conference and more. Well, she gave my writing a purpose! Because my mom is a mental heath therapist and expert, and because she is an out-of-the-box thinker, she also gave me much to advocate for! Suddenly I was writing and sharing and publishing here and there. But when I needed to link to a piece, or share something I'd written, I could never find it. So... I created a blog! It's a place where I copy & paste all of my autism, parenting, life lesson type posts. I can also hyperlink to sites that have kindly offered me guest posts, or published my other styled articles and more. It's a way I can give back and share with volume!

And I have to admit, I love it!! 

Windows or Apple?

Hmmmmm.... I find windows better for gazing out of, and apples better for eating. Oh! You mean computer thingys! Well, I have Windows, so it's the one I know. However, I do not understand technology very well, and only use my tiny little computer for email, writing, and sharing on social media. That's all. Oh, wait, I also put a couple videos on YouTube! It made me feel very hip and computer savvy!!

Dogs or cats?

I was always more of a cat person. But, over the last ten years, I've discovered the dog person in me. We live on sixty-seven acres of wooded land, and dogs just kind of show up. We feed them and love them, but they are completely free to go anytime. There is something beautiful about being chosen. There is something important about watching them out our window. And my youngest son has learned to practice social skills by spending quality, comfortable time with them. He talks to them, shares his feelings with them, runs with them. There is something beautiful and important in that, too. It is precisely the relationship I had with cats growing up. 

Who would you most like to have dinner with, dead or alive?

Mahatma Ghandi's mom, Nelson Mandela's mom, Albert Einstein's mom, Max Frankel's mom... there are a few others. I have often craved conversation with moms of some of the men who have inspired me. Men who were in touch with their own beliefs, strong enough to insist on them, and comfortable enough to do so with consistent kindness. I wonder how their moms felt. How they encouraged such self reflection and confidence. I wonder so many things. 

But now that my own boys are becoming men, I can honestly say that I crave those conversations less and less. My sons inspire and surprise me consistently  And I'm beginning to believe that those moms would be as proud and uncertain, though full of educated guesses, of how their sons came to be such inspirations.  

Okay! Now for the fun of nominating some of my favorite blogs!!

Alright, I'm embarrassed to admit this. But, I don't actually read many blogs. I know, it sounds rude, doesn't it? I'm sorry!! It's just not the kind of reading I usually do. I have read gazillions of lovely, moving, funny, important, and insightful blog posts, but I rarely remember from where, or from what blog. So, I'm going to offer The Sunshine Award to bloggers that have been part of my life and have become my friends. Whether they've invited me to guest post, reached out as a friend, offered suggestions and/or opportunities... these blogs deserve recognition. What they write is wonderful. What they do changes lives. 

At least, they changed mine. And I owe them more than I can simply say.

Now, Eleven Questions I'd Like These Bloggers to Answer!

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Are you a shower or bath person?

When someone asks,"What do you do?", what is your answer?

What is one fear you've gotten over in your life?

What is your favorite movie genre?

How do you usually react to stress?

Do you laugh often?

When people describe you, what word do you think is most often used? What word would you use?

What's a favorite comfort food?

Do you prefer to read fact or fiction? 

Okay, that was fun!!! Regardless of whether or not the other bloggers have time to play the game, I have to admit I have enjoyed it! And please, please, please, take a moment to check out their stuff!!! 

Once again, thanks to Words I Wheel By for nominating me for the award!!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!