I am going on retreat this weekend.  My last scheduled retreat through Quest.  It took me signing up for a 2-year program and promising to go to all of the retreats (6 in all) in order to allow myself to take time for myself.  Now, I need to make sure I keep it up — like exercise, like practice, like anything out of my daily round, I can forget so easily how important self care is.

When I was part of a couple, it was not necessarily easier to remember to take care of myself, but there was  . . . I don’t know a word for it.  Couple-time.  Down time together.  We took time — as simple as a walk or a late night tea, sitting on the couch cuddling watching a movie.  There was self care and also care for the beloved and most of the time that was enough to fill me.  Perhaps that is another reason to couple.  I did not have to work at care.  I cared because I loved.

Now, it needs to be deliberate.  And so be it.

My sphere is small.  Sometimes smaller than I realize.  A friend called from England last night and my phone was turned off.  When Julia went to bed, I went to call back and discovered that I could not make an international call on my cell.  It struck me that my world had shrunk very small if, in the last four years, I had not even discovered that I could not make international calls.  Of course, now I remember that it was not a concern when I had a landline and then we used Skype all of the time when Cheshire was traveling.  But in truth, I have not thought about this is a long time.  The idea makes me claustrophobic.  How small I have made my box.  How insulated.  I understand the urge and the need for such diminutive size.  Healing, at least for me, is not done in a large forum.  Small feels very safe.  And after all of this change, change is still a challenge.  I find I must be vigilant to support it.  I proclaim and most of the time imagine that I have readied myself to accept and embrace change.  That it has become my way of life.  But however true that may be in some realms in others it is a true lie.

I have stopped using commas.  I have overused them for years and now . . . when?

Julia:  Very happy to have me away for a weekend and to spend the time with one of her beloved therapists.  I could wonder if this means good attachment or bad.  I both fear and embrace wholeheartedly her need for independence.  We are working through a trauma book with Marilyn (attachment/trauma therapist).  Julia has been drawing pictures of a “sad, mad, scared” brain and of a happy brain.   The pictures are quite amazing.  She captures feelings.  When we ask her to make these drawings, after reading a description, she happily trots to the table and begins work.  Yes, I think she thinks in pictures, and although I can talk about it and read about it, I really do not understand it.  I so definitely think in words.

Last weekend, I wrote down “rules” for solving simple math word problems.  The rules are illustrated — at least as well as I can do that.  We have been using the rules.  I had Julia do her paragraph writing for the week about the rules for problem solving.  Another way to get the rules into her brain.  I am not interested in any math work — which I imagine will always be a challenge for Julia — for its own sake.  No “two trains departing from opposite sides of the world going different speeds with some finite number of stops each and where do they meet.”  I want her to be able to go into an art store, order supplies, and know if she has sufficient cash to pay for them.

Julia broke her first easter egg. Her thumb went right through a shell she was working on.  It is inevitable to break a few eggs in the beginning.  Who knows how careful you must be with eggs until you break a few?!  She handled it very well — felt badly, didn’t really want to throw it away but didn’t want a smelly eggs around, and moved on.  There is evidence of her years of intensive therapy!

And my Curriculum Training Course with began last evening with an online video introduction.  It is a big class — 40 on the call, at least three times that in the class.  I am excited to get going.  I can almost feel myself crossing a threshold.

Cheshire and Linde were due to come for the weekend Thursday evening but because of a big snow storm headed for NYC, Cheshire changed her flight to Wednesday.  What a gift!  This visit is my birthday gift from these young women and nothing could be better.   It is wonderful to have their spirits in the house.

Julia’s first cello concert was last week.  It was a class performance and only for other classes — not even the entire school — and parents who could make it during the day.  They played about eight tunes — some a line long.  I still think that the strings program strives to quantity over quality, but it was great to see about 30 kids playing together.  Julia did a very good job.  Her aide sat beside her but Victoria did not need to do much queing at all.  Julia payed attention to the music and the teacher as she conducted.  Divided attention!  Something that her therapists and I longed for for a very long time.  Her playing was not perfect but when she got behind I could see her skip a few notes to catch up.  She did not rush ahead and she did not play during any rest.

Yahoo!  I do not think that she is at the bottom of her strings class.  She is playing with peers!  I am sure that we do a lot more work at home, plus her private lesson, than many of the other kids in her class, but I am so encouraged that she can keep up.  And very encouraged that she is interested and enthusiastic about continuing.

The middle school search continues.  Conflicting reports from different parents and educators reflecting their own experiences and some of what they’ve heard.  Right now, I don’t see any school as being a perfect match and sorting through strengths and weaknesses has not produced a winner.


Last week of the Fundamentals course at   I will skip the next round of the curriculum course and pick that up later in the spring.  I need time to digest what I’ve been practicing and also to spend time with the material that I’ve gotten from the woman who I will be doing my final LEND internship with.  As that opportunity becomes more defined, I’ll write some of it.  Right now, we’ve had two meetings a few months apart, the last one last week with a list of possible tasks for me and a pile of books to read and sort out.

More patience.


From 2 January 2014, about an hour after our flight was pushed back.

Stranded in the Baltimore Airport.  Hopefully for a few more hours, possibly for the night.  It has been cold and snow in Wisconsin but tonight the weather is acting out all over the country.  The flight that we are schedule to go on departed hours late from Houston because of a late arrival from the midwest.  Now, there is the weather here to cause concern.  It is snowing and sticking, and folks in Baltimore are cowed by snow.

We are prepared — comfortable, warm clothes, backpacks with a change of underwear just in case, and plenty of electronic toys to occupy us.  I decided that I would pay for some internet here but I cannot seem to connect to anything including the free WiFi.

The plane landed about 2 hours late and we were on it soon afterwards.  The weather in Maryland was terrible and the plane needed to be de-iced and the runway plowed.  Everyone pushed on until it was off the ground and flying.  Milwaukee was cold, but the roads were clear and dry.  We made it home a bit after 2.  Five hours later than planned but home nonetheless.

What I notice is that I worried less than I ever have about that kind of situation but even the worry that I did was useless.  I could not give it up but at least I could notice what it was good for.

Worry is a tough one for me to give up.  I do it all the time about Julia and it ruins everything!  Just a bit of hyperbole.

I can get into a vortex of maternal preoccupation when I focus on all the Julia has not learned that is essential to an independent life and a typical 12 year old.  oh, 13 in two weeks.  I want to schedule every minute, fill it all with something important — reading, writing, science preview, cello practice, math on the computer, typing program,  knitting, calendar work, before and after work.  It is hard to find any time for fun and being that 12 year old on that kind of schedule.  I have not found the balance.  I am still on the intensive therapy schedule.

There are brief flashes when I see/hear/perceive Julia’s intelligence.  A very rare glimpse of clarity — an answer to a question, an astute observation, an enthusiastic explanation.  When we were at Universal Studios, the Wizarding World section, we went to the Olivander shop to get a wand for Julia.  This is her description of what happened:

We went to Universal Studios and I got a wand.

I went to the Wazarding World of Harry Potter and to Ollivanders wand shop.  A whole group of people went into the shop at the same time.   Mr. Olivander came in and said “Welcome to Ollivanders Wand Shop.  I’ve made fine wands since 382 B.C.”  Then he asked me if I wanted to find a wand before I went to Hogwarts.

Mr. Olivander handed me a wand and said, “Perhaps try this first wand.”  He told me to say luminous to make more light in the shop.  I said “luminous” and I made lightening and thunder.  People in the shop were scared.  Mr. Olivander said that that was not the wand you should use.

Mr. Olivander gave me another wand and told me to bring the flowers from one corner of the shop to the counter.  He told me to say, ___________.  I said that and the flowers wilted.  So, that was the wrong wand too.

Then, he told me to stand in the light by his counter he asked me when I was born.  I told him, January.  He said, “Ooo, wait a second.  Perhaps you should try  . . . .”  He went up the stairs and found a good wand.  It was made of Alder wood with a phoenix feather inside and he said it had a good “swish.”  He handed it to me and my pigtails were blown up and lights came on.

He said that was the wand chose me and that he expected me to be a great and strong witch.

Two things startled me.  First, that she was able to be involved in such an encounter — answering questions, responding to directions and all in front of a group of people.  Second, that she was able to remember it and tell it back to be a few days later.

When we were in Maryland with Cheshire and friends, I watched as Julia interacted with them and I do not see much difference in her interaction from last year to this.  I want to know how to inspire her to be as attentive to her sister as she was to Mr. Ollivandar.

At home in Madison, Julia is obsessing about Harry Potter.  Harry and his life and friends are on her mind all the time.  Sometimes I ask her to stop talking about it for a little while and talk about our lives and she asks me if she can still think about it.  This obsession has a different feel to it.  It is focused on people and not on dinosaurs, and the people have been part of books and movies.  I wonder if it is a step in the right direction — interest in people, that is.  I understand her interest on my own terms because I obsessed about books and stories for years but is it the same.

I have no idea!  And guidance is sparse.  No one seems to really know.  When I ask experts they tell me of possibilities, most of which I’ve figured out for myself.  Navigating the development of typical children is not easy but navigating Julia’s tween years is like padding upstream, in the dark, with a straw for a paddle.

Absolutely, all that I can do on my best days is to be present for her and have patience with the both of us.