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Jane! Get me off this crazy thing!

We all remember that part of the show, George Jetson who started out taking dear old Astro out for a walk on the space treadmill, winds up alone, frantic and calling for Jane's help. All while Astro who was smart enough to just take one step to the side and remove himself from the situation watches smugly as George struggles.

So reason asks, why does George keep on, doesn't he know safety is just a side-step away? It was so simple that Astro figured it out, so why couldn't George? We can learn a lot from dear old Astro.

Sometimes we get stuck....unable to free ourselves from the treadmill of life which seems as though it has spun out of control. Being busier than ever, with work, home, kids, that we can sometimes lose site of ourselves, or the escape hatch that might be as simple as saying "no" to one thing and stepping to the side and allowing another to take your place on the treadmill. Even for just one event, or one day.

In the panic, all we can see is the belt of the treadmill moving more and more quickly, losing sight of your Astro even still here? If not, then what am I still doing here? Is it habit? Sometimes when you have done something for so long, or repeatedly, it is hard to see yourself in anything but that role. But the past doesn't have to dictate today or the future. What is important is that you hold the key, you can, take that step to the side and get off this crazy thing.

So many of us get caught up on our own treadmills, and they look different for everyone:

  • everyone's problem solver
  • mediator
  • peacemaker
  • nurturer
  • fire-fighter
  • rescuer
  • enabler
  • can't say "no" to anything
  • super volunteer
  • teacher
  • dieter
  • dutiful employee

And when you have played that role before, or are good at it, it is hard not to get sucked into it. Don't get me wrong, all of those are good thing, necessary in fact... in moderation. The problem is, when we identify ourselves almost exclusively as one of those things in the same old patterns, and it keeps us stuck from growing. The problem with treadmills are that you don't actually get anywhere.

Burning Down the House?

If the same fire truck returned to the same house every day, to put out a little fire in a garbage can, it wouldn't be long before someone was having a discussion with the homeowner about fire prevention. So, why in other parts of our lives is it so difficult to focus on the fire prevention so that we can get off the treadmill of fighting those daily fires and make ourselves available to bigger challenges, ones that we are called to fight.

If you quit running to the garbage can fire, will that house, block, neighborhood go up in flames? Probably not, and if it does, you can't hold yourself forever responsible. Sometimes the smoke rising from the garbage can is a signal for the need for change or for someone else to step in.

A project doesn't get done, someone else has to pitch in, an event needs to be cancelled, it happens. Just because you might not see how it can all work out, resolutions or utter happiness for everyone on the horizon, doesn't mean it isn't there. People pitch in, adjust their schedules, or are maybe even relieved when a cancellation call comes. 

In reality, no one is indispensible. People move on, people die every day, leaders arise, change happens. And while not always easily, life goes on. Sometimes thrives in the process.

We all have choices to make, Astro chose his, what do you choose?


Dream a little dream...

Today I want to share a quote with you...

“You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Everything significant begins with a dream. Someone who isn't afraid to get out there and at the risk of being thought crazy step forward and share a dream within their heart. It isn't easy, to step up and state that you have a vision for something better, different or unusual. It is, however, necessary to bare your soul, reach higher, and dream that big hairy audacious dream!

That is going to look different for everyone, everyone has a different comfort level of sharing, of acting on inspiration, but the key is to push forward.

It's never too late...start thinking of you..."I wish I hads" and find ways to parallel them today. You can't go back and change the past, but what you can do is optimize what you are doing with what you have today. If you wished you had tried out for a part in your school play, find a community theater and give it a shot. Wish you had learned to cook, find an adult education class.

It is not too late, there is time, seize the day and start erasing the "wish I hads" from your life and start replacing them with the "I am so glad I dids!"

Why not?


Taking care of mama!

A recent study out of the University of Madison-Wisconsin that mothers of very low birth weight babies also suffer adverse physical health in following years.

The study reports:

• Mothers of very low birth-weight children had worse physical health than mothers of normal birth-weight children, partially because of the increased stress experienced by mothers of children born very low birth weight.

• Among mothers of very low birth-weight children, the higher the number of weeks the baby spent in a NICU, the worse the mother’s physical health when the child was age 5. This relationship was independent of whether the mother herself had health problems during pregnancy.

• The mothers of very low birth-weight children who had behavioral problems at age 2 had worse mental health years later. This appears to be partially due to greater levels of stress experienced by mothers of children with behavior problems.

This proves to be a good reminder for mothers to be sure to take care of yourself as well and for families and communities around those children not to forget these families in the months and years that follow a premature birth.

How can you help? Something as simple as an hour or two a week or month, watching the child so the mother can get a little time away. Or, perhaps offering a gift certificate for a massage, or theater tickets, maybe something as simple as sharing fresh veggies from your garden.

Mothers of preemies, often feel a sense of guilt or failure in being able to carry a baby to term. Working through those issues in the midst of caring for a special needs child can be very difficult. Patience and sensitivity during those first few days and weeks is critical.

A story I have often thought of likens having a special needs child to planning a trip to Italy only to land in Holland, without being able to change your destination. There will be a certain amount of grief for what you thought life with your new child would be like, what they might accomplish, who they might become. In some cases our preemies excel beyond our expectations and that grief might prove to be unwarranted, however, it is hard to not grieve the loss of what might have been. It might just take some time to appreciate the beauty of Holland.



Beyond the NICU

It is hard, if not impossible this time of year for me to reflect back on a late November day nearly 15 years ago, when my eldest daughter Hope came bursting into our world. Weighing only 15.6 ounces, and at only 24 weeks gestational age, our lives were forever changed.

Last evening, I was privileged to be able to share some of our story speaking at an event in a nearby town. Sharing stories of crisis, and laughter, of FEAR and gratitude. I shared stories of her birth, all of the little "coincidences" around her and the incredible journey we all have travelled.

In the early days of her life, we hung on every breath, willed her to breath it, manifesting the strength in her to carry on. Each week that I volunteer in the NICU, I see that again and again, so little, with such a will to live, battling through each day.

I believe the experience makes us stronger, more compassionate, more understanding, and more appreciative of life itself. As a parent, you are the advocate for your child, in the trenches every day, hanging on every breath, or pause between them. Your child is protected by the sanctuary of the NICU. Behind locked doors and an intimidating scrub station, lies a world many never have the privilege to witness. A world full of anxiety, celebration and grief, a world also filled with warmth and love and a lot of precious cargo.

But the NICU is not the real world, once you emerge from those doors, a whole new hosts of challenges emerge. There are no alarms which sound when your child faces difficulties or challenges in the world beyond your control. Certainly, as with any child, a parent does their best to protect, council and prepare them for the world the live in, but as we well know, control is an illusion.

I recently came across this statistic:
"66% of students with special needs report being bullied in school compared to 25% of students in the general population, according to the Disable Bullying campaign's Walk a Mile in Their Shoes report. In fact, students with special needs are 2 to 3 times more likely to be bullied than their "normal" peers." (

Two thirds, I can hardly believe my eyes, two thirds report being bullied. How as a society do we accept that? How as parents, who fought for every breath, every day prepare our children for the near certainty that some other child will choose to victimize them? I have long been of the opinion that bullying can be summed up in four words....Hurt people, hurt people. But that is not where that concept ends, read more below.

“Hurt people hurt people. We are not being judgmental by separating ourselves from such people. But we should do so with compassion. Compassion is defined as a "keen awareness of the suffering of another coupled with a desire to see it relieved."  People hurt others as a result of their own inner strife and pain. Avoid the reactive response of believing they are bad; they already think so and are acting that way. They aren't bad; they are damaged and they deserve compassion. Note that compassion is an internal process, an understanding of the painful and troubled road trod by another. It is not trying to change or fix that person.”
― Will Bowen, Complaint Free Relationships: Transforming Your Life One Relationship at a Time

Does that mean we should sit idly by and see our children victimized? No. In recent days the media has been filled with reports of the abuses at Penn state. Another report of a special needs child being verbally abused by teachers that was only dealt with after parents audio taped the child for several days. Debates of who knew, who may have intervened, and who turned a blind eye and what each of their responsibilities to ensure that the victimization be stopped. Are parents who sit by and do nothing to intervene as guilty as the perpetrator? What as parents can we do? Has bullying/abuse become acceptable in our society?

How do we begin to see through the anger and see the perpetrators as damaged and deserving of compassion? Is it possible to turn the other cheek without turning a blind eye?

Today, on this day of the awareness of prematurity, we honor those who have struggled to be here, to those who care for and protect them, and those who continue to face challenges long past the days of the protective gates of the NICU.


Announcing the big arrival!

I recently came across this holiday card for a NICU unit, which pictures the nativity and baby Jesus in an isolette. It made me smile, apparently the NICU unit sent them out "prematurely" in mid-October to emphasize the point. Brilliant!

When Hope was born, I quickly made up announcements that had full-sized footprints with verbiage to the effect of, "Most parents marvel at their child's smallest of are two that we are pretty proud of." Hope Levos 15.6 ounces, 10 7/8", November 27, 1996.


It is a difficult time at best, and after Hope's birth, I got as many condolences as I did congratulations. I don't blame people, finding the words at a time like that is difficult. With an uncertain future, how do you find the right words to express the mixed bag of emotions that a family is going through?

From my perspective, celebrate the positive, address the negative if and only if necessary. Parents of preemies are often in shock with all that has happened. Processing an entirely different language of medical jargon, and the potential for an entirely different future than they had imagined. This is the time for all of the love and support possible. Congratulate them!

I would love to hear about how you announced your new arrival as well!