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Monday, December 2, 2013

Antagonist Speak.. Georgia vs. Her SELF

Antagonists Speak... if you listen that is.
An exercise.

Meet Georgia.

"I love ballet. I love cowboys. I love gladiators.  And I love astronauts and I love everything. Why do I have to choose a career anyway?
I drew a picture of me in a space shuttle wearing my cowboy hat and pink tutu. Ms. Vega told me I didn’t follow directions.  But in my own way, I did. I drew myself wearing and being all the things I want to be. 
I can’t to do my homework and I ‘m not good at deciding.  Ms. Vega didn’t like my ideas. So now everyone in class is probably just going to laugh at me and Ms. Vega will say I didn’t do it right anyway.
I know. I’m going to be sick tomorrow. I ‘m going to tell Mom that my tummy hurts and that I can’t go to school cause I will have a fever. 
Mommy will say, yes and let me stay home. She will make me grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup and rub my head and Ms. Vega will be sorry. She’ll be sad that I am sick and wonder if it’s all her fault."
- Georgia, age 7

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tread Lightly....sensory exercise take 2

Sensory Exercise- The BestPlace
God’s Country

I step onto the hot tarmac just having left the confines of a dizzying single engine plane. I don’t do well with motion sickness.Especially when it’s hot and the humidity, too thick to breathe my way to feeling better, blankets you in a stifling thermal layer. It even smells humid.Lush. Wet. Green.
My stomach does a few loops and twists before I’m able to really feel like I’m breathing again. Just being out of the plane relieves my soul. I sigh.
I gain my footing. Dizzying whirls now slow down.
It’s distinctly raw, virgin type land.
The sun pounces on us and the tarmac and yet, I suddenly can’t feel the heat anymore.
I’m lulled. Blue Hyacinth McCaw flirt and flutter above our heads. Seeming now to have announce we’ve arrived.  I smile, entranced.

Swamps, marsh, lakes, and forests, lots of forest, takeup the land. A giant magic mosaic carpet…

We aren’t alone. Foreboding creatures lay still sunbathing in the afternoon hothouse.
My heart kicks itself and its beat goes up a few notches.

Night falls.
Rain boots squish in the mud.
My flashlight spills upon redeyes set ablaze.
Where guttural barks echo through vast waterways,distinctly un-dog like;


Where am I?
I'm in God's country where you're advised to treadlightly.
In the world’s largest wetlands; Brazil’s,Pantanal.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Heart Held Dreams...

Quote of my day:

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."

-Mark Twain

Something about that quote just makes me smile from the inside.
Take a moment to contemplate all that you are.
Then celebrate.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Join me! Sensory Exercise #2 Describe the Best or Worst Place

This writing exercise is meant to to help jog the muscles.
Writing is after all, a muscle.
So, use it.

Today I am inviting readers to write.
Please describe the best or worst place you've ever been to.
Incorporate all the senses.

Get us there.
Ready. Set. Go!

I'll write back with my version.
Please post yours :)

Here is my version...

A blood orange sky.
A single engine plane.

Humidity blankets
the wet smell of land.
Pure. Lush. Green.

I step onto the tarmac.
Lulled right in...
blue Hyacinth McCaw’s announce
I’ve arrived.

Night falls.
Rain boots squish in the mud.
A looming presence
foreboding creatures.
My flashlight falls
onto red eyes set ablaze.
Guttural barks echo
through waterways.
Distinct and un-dog like;

I'm in God's country.
Where you're advised to tread lightly.
Here. In the world’s largest wetlands;
Brazil’s, Pantanal.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Swimming Around in My Earliest Memory: A sensory exercise....

I am three or four years old, max and we rented a small cabin on a lake. I think we are in Missouri but I can’t be sure. We never traveled much after my early childhood years, especially after my baby brother was born. That’s probably another reason why I can remember it.  It was sunny. The kind of summer time-stick-to-your skin hot. The humidity clung onto my skin and made my red hair frizz out more than normal.  I had on my little blue canvas sneakers and my white and red floral applique bathing suit. I loved that thing.  I also wore what would be the near death of me, a plastic inner tube around my waist.  I felt like a big girl.

Our cabin sat right on a little wooden dock. I was so proud to be able to walk right up to the lake and jump in all by myself. 

I don’t remember if my parents were in the water or if the front door to the cabin was open where they kept an ear from inside.  Maybe I simply walked out on my own but that part is hard to recall.  I was in my little baby inner tube, kicking and floating about happily. The cool water felt good and I was having a ball. All was well, or so I thought. 

I don’t know how it happened but it happened. All of sudden water rushed deep into my nose and throat.  My little legs now upright, sticking out in the air were thrashing about.  I tried calling for help but that made it worse.  I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t turn right side up. I’m completely upside down stuck and drowning in that damn inner tube.  I tried paddling and pushing the water away with my tiny hands in hopes to get back up for much needed air. No use. The inner tube held me prisoner.  Head under water and panic rushed in. 

That’s when someone grabbed hold of my legs and pulled me right up.  I couldn’t yet see, but I heard him. He was yelling and calling out for help. After the coughing and simultaneous crying stopped, he came into focus: Dad.  My hero. 

Dad pulled me out and saved me from the grips of that stupid F&^-ing inner tube.

And I never wore one again.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Been a goes nothing...A LOVE STORY

Gio wasn’t planned on. In fact, after already having two adolescents my sister, Myrna believed she was done having kids.  Like DONE, and admitted in not having used contraception in like, forever.  Her partner, Julio wanted kids but, my sister wasn’t getting pregnant. 

End of story?

No.  It’s just the beginning.

So one BIG day in May the highly  (un)anticipated, Gio arrived in the world with a head full of curls and big bright eyes, so shiny and full of life! Yep, Gio had arrived.  So this story begins right here. The minute he was born.

Lives changed.
Julio was now a first time Dad.  He held Gio in his arms and a love too immense for words for that boy welled in Julio’s heart.  Tears streamed and poured out of Julio’s eyes as he gazed at his beautiful little boy. Gio was gorgeous.  From the top of that curly head all the way down to his chubby toes.  Beautiful. Strong. Brilliant.

Gio was a healthy brand new baby boy.  My sister and brother in law took him home to my mom’s house where everyone was living under one big roof.  My mom, stepdad, sister, her husband and three kids. … Not at all an easy living situation, but that’s another story.

Gio grew and developed. He hit some early milestones and his pictures, like lots of babies on Facebook drew legions of “Likes” from family and friends.  He is a cutie. I admit, I too hit “Like” every time.

So fast forward to eight or nine months later and I am visiting my family, hanging out in the living room with the pungent smell of garlic, onions, green pepper and cilantro simmering together. A smell that confirms I’m home.  My Puerto Rican home, that is. 
So I’m sitting in the living room assaulted by the smells that will long stay cemented in my hair and clothes after I’ve eaten, thinking, “hey, Ill play with Gio while dinner is being prepared.”

At this point Gio is crawling around on the rug near the corner of the living room and I start calling his name. Gio is way too enthralled with his wooden toy cars to give me the time of day.  “I get it,” I think to myself so I decide to join him on the rug.  I crouch down to his eye-level so I can play too.  Cars or no cars, I can get any baby’s attention.   I crouch down.

I say his name, "Gio...."

I say it again. "Giooo..."

Then again.

Gio will not lift his eyes to meet mine.
What?!  Babies don't ignores me…I mean me,,  Im like the amazing aunt who makes the kids laugh and  buy them cool gifts. I can get any baby, like any baby to smile.

I give it one last go. “GIO-VANNI” I say using my most teacher voice possible.
NADA.  The kid will not look at me.

So I try to join the play, you know, I get in there and try playing cars with him, "vroom-vroom and all that stuff.  He removes each car I touch, one by one from my hand and continues to line up his cars and hum.  He does not stop humming.

And he will not play with me.

In fact, he is not playing. He is only repeating motions, lining up cars and re-lining up the cars.

That’s when I call my sister.
I call out to her and she knows my call is serious. My tone is concerned, not big sister concerned…but the strong teacher in me kinda voice concerned and I say,   “Gio won’t make eye contact Myrna. I’ve tried many times. He doesn’t look at me. Can he  hear me?
My sister’s crystal blue eyes shoot downwards and she swoops up Gio in an effort to get his attention and say, "See…" perhaps unconsciously wanting to prove me wrong. 
He doesn’t give her direct eye contact either.


I look at my sister.
She shrugs a defeating shrug that says, “I know. I know.”

And I just wanna hold her and tell her not to worry, not to think the worst, not to beat herself up,
not yet…but I don’t....

I go into quick acting-fast on my toes thinking teacher mode and say, “He needs testing, we have to rule out hearing.”  She sighs big and says, I know, I know Sister, I was just hoping he needed more time. “

“No. There is no more time.
Get on it Myrna.
Get him tested so we can help him now.”

And the rest of the story just goes and goes…and still goes. 

She got him tested.  Gio wasn’t deaf, Thank god.

Gio is autistic. Rather, he is on the spectrum.

The good news? We tested quick. And Myrna went after lots of early intervention.
A whole support team saw him through his infancy and really made a dramatic impact on his development. 
They helped desensitize him to grass, sand, by literally brushing his skin.
They assisted him with his speech.
Providing my sister with consistent language and talk to help Gio express his needs constructively.
The team saw my sister through many a rough patches…. The tantrums, the unsafe climbing and wandering off and tug of war he played with his safety.
The bad news?
Truth is, there is no bad news, that’s the real good news. 
He has Asperger’s and now we say, AND?

Giovanni is beautiful.
He’s bright and uniquely his own person.
He will always have challenges and well, won’t we all?

While there are still rough patches,  days where my sister wants to scream, punch a wall, and pick at the old glue of emotional band-aids and lick her wounds.
Re-dressing the same wounds gets old.
Because what hurts the most are the ignorant comments and unsympathetic remarks about those kind-of kids.
Myrna is a hero. His hero.
She's his greatest advocate and sometimes, many times,
she’s exhausted.

The good news?
Her love for Gio is inexhaustible.
And in the end that’s all that matters anyway, love.