Jul 122017

By now we all know that Wonder Woman possesses superhuman strength and speed.What are YOUR super powers?

Ellen Elwell has some Mom marketing mojo under her superwoman cape, and Linda Joy’s Visionary Female Authors all seem to have some special magic related to women and their personal power. But, in my humble opinion, none of us can hold a candle to Mattisa Moorer, also known as Kerstin’s Mom.

Shortly after Kerstin was born, she was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Hip Dysplasia and lung-threatening Scoliosis. When she was 13, she weighed just 40 pounds, necessitating a permanent GI (feeding) tube.  Almost three years later, after multiple surgeries, she is a healthy 80 pounds, but will never be able to walk, talk, or take care of herself.

The greatest act of faith some days is to simply get up and face another day. - Amy Gatliff Click To Tweet

On a typical day, Mattisa and Kerstin pile in and out of their 16-year-old SUV countless times as they go to work, run errands, or visit with family members.

Even more important, are the non-stop appointments with Kerstin’s doctors, therapists, and other medical specialists. They live in a small, rural town, so no trip is “nearby.” The closest cities are  Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham – 35, 45 and 125 miles away respectively. On “appointment days” they can easily add 250 miles to an odometer that already reflects more than  300,000 miles of back-breaking work. It’s tired — and is not equipped with a wheelchair lift.

Mattisa lifts her now 80-pound daughter into and out of her car seat all day long. It’s a difficult and frightening task: multiple surgeries fused Kerstin’s spine, and a bad jolt could put her back in Children’s Hospital of Alabama.

They are in desperate need of a newer vehicle with a wheelchair lift. But, as Mattisa says, “buying one is a million miles away from our “budget.” I’m a single mom with a limited income. I have a part-time job that lets me keep Kerstin with me; her medical needs just don’t leave enough hours in the week to work full-time. A wheelchair-accessible van would answer most of our prayers and be, literally, a life-saving miracle for Kerstin.”

I “met” Mattisa and Kerstin by way of my long-time Twitter-friend Ellen Elwell. Like many of you, Ellen and I share a passion for helping moms who face extra obstacles. Ellen wrote to ask for help creating an online “buzz” for Mattisa’s fundraising campaign.

We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced. — Malala Y. Click To Tweet

Being a parent is rarely easy, but can you imagine lifting an 80-pound girl in and out of a broken-down, 16-year-old, broken-down van all day, every day, year in and year out?

Mattisa and Kerstin desperately need a van with a wheelchair lift. It would change their lives more than you can imagine.

In her note to me, Ellen was clear this was not a request for money. Maybe it should be: Can we find 1,000 people to chip in $30 each?

Our power is in our ability to decide. — B. Fuller #wheelchairvanforkirsten Click To Tweet

This is an incredible opportunity to reach out with love and any super power you may possess: share this story with your followers, contribute $5 and ask others to do the same, write your own blog post about the power of sisterhood, share a great idea, connect Ellen or Mattisa with a foundation or a creative and generous auto dealer, or help spread the hashtag #wheelchairvanforkerstin.

The possibilities are endless. Let’s combine our super powers and see what kind of miracles we can make.

Mattisa’s GoFundMe Page http://bit.ly/2qU4MoY #wheelchairvanforkirsten Click To Tweet









 July 12, 2017  Posted by  Parenting, Special Topics 8 Responses »
Jun 282017

America’s opioid crisis has become a common topic in the media and in conversations with friends. Surprisingly, much of the coverage has started to focus on families: stories about individual addicts are now being given a context and that context includes the family members who suffer right along with them. Debates about criminality versus medical condition continues to take up too much space but, just like individuals and families struggling with addiction, we can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge.

We can't fix what we don't acknowledge. #addiction #families Click To Tweet

I’m glad we’re finally talking about it. I worked in the addictions field and was part of one of the first residential treatment programs for families of people with chemical dependency issues. Addiction — in all of its forms — can be devastating to families.

And, according to a number of experts in the field, it can also come from many forms devastation in families: abuse, neglect, addiction, divorce, abandonment, and violence. Such circumstances are now being termed ACE: Adverse Childhood Experiences. And, while most people have at least one such adverse experience, those with multiples are deemed high risk for a variety of health crises ranging from addiction to heart disease. (You can get your ACE score here.)


Back when I was developing addiction awareness programs for parents, we used to ask, “Why do teens use drugs?” The answer? “Because they work.” What that answer assumed was common sense that is now becoming part of the mainstream awareness: people use drugs to feel better. (I know, “duh.” Right?)

Why do people need to feel better? #addiction #ACEs #opioids Click To Tweet

So why do people need to feel better? We could all fill volumes on the overwhelming pain and difficulties so many people face on a daily basis. And if we work at it together, we could probably fill an equal number of volumes about compassion, resilience, and prevention.

And, while opiate abuse has reached epidemic status, there are still simple things parents and grandparents, friends and neighbors can do for those who are closest to them.

  • Set a good example
  • Maintain rituals and
  • Incorporate spiritual practice into your family life.

As much as most of us would like to guarantee good health and success for the young people we care about, the best we can do is try to stack the odds in their favor.  Safety, security, and skills are a great place to start. Any work to decrease risk factors improves their odds.

The best we can do is try to stack the odds in their favor. #parents #prevention #opioids… Click To Tweet

In addition to creating a list of resources for families, I’ve put together this small list of resources to help families facing addiction. Please download and invite your friends to do so as well. In the meantime, please share stories about individual and community efforts that area working to enhance resilience and decrease risk. Thanks.









 June 28, 2017  Posted by  E, Parenting, Special Topics 11 Responses »
Jun 142017

It took me a long time to become willing to be part of a writers’ group. Frankly, I’d heard some fairly awful things about them. I had heard such groups could be competitive and repetitive. That some groups were more in love with the idea of writing than getting anything done and that those meetings sounded more like a roomful of angsty teens than a bunch of grown-up word nerds trying to help one another improve.

A bunch of grown-up word nerds trying to help one another improve... Click To Tweet

Whenever I’m trying to get better at something, I seek out people who are striving to improve a similar skill set or someone who is far more accomplished and willing to share expertise. And, while I always hope to find people with a passion for improvement and excellence, I loathe the expression “like-minded.” When I’m trying to learn new skills, or I’ve backed myself into a corner, I can be impatient or hard on myself. I don’t want or need a mind like mine. I need fresh eyes, different experiences, humor, and compassion. I need my very own word nerds. The ones who love me and have got my back.

I made some false starts before finding my group. I attended some critiques that bordered on mean and others that appear to have been fueled by lollipops and rainbows. I’ve been asked questions by (usually male) newbies who proceeded to argue and mansplain my answers away or treated like a kindergartener by a facilitator. And there were groups that didn’t recognize my genre and people who believe that “real” writers limit themselves to longhand, legal pads and lead.

Do real writers limit themselves to longhand, legal pads and lead? Click To Tweet

A year or so ago, a mentor of mine questioned me about my efforts to find a writers’ group. His experience had been wonderful and, not only did he want to understand my tenderness around the topic, he also wanted me to experience the growth that can come from participating in a good group.

I decided to pursue a new genre and joined a group as the member with the least experience with that sort of work. After attending a few meetings, they asked me to read. To my amazement, they listened attentively, respected my boundaries about the kind of feedback I wanted and encouraged me to keep going.

Today’s meeting was inconvenient. I hadn’t read the facilitator’s materials or found a segment of my work to bring for critique. Early this morning, I did a public presentation on an unrelated topic.  My husband is hours away from some big, disruptive travel, and my son’s home decided to develop “issues” while he is somewhere at the other end of the country. I was hungry, over-tired, unprepared, it was raining again… and I was shocked. I couldn’t wait to get there.

As it turns out, everyone who showed up was in the same boat for different reasons: grant deadlines without cooperation from grantees, house construction delays, family member illnesses, returned-to-the nest adult children. Stuff.

So we tossed the agenda and talked about our stuff. Then we talked about some new and exciting projects. And awards we had applied for and conferences we were attending. And, eventually, after having each experienced one? We talked about character arc. And we laughed.

 June 14, 2017  Posted by  E, Happiness, Writing and Reading 11 Responses »
Jun 062017

While employed by others, I spent a lot of years maintaining strict boundaries and everyone’s privacy. In many of my work environs, it was not a good idea to become part of the story, and any information shared outside of the office qualified as TMI. So, as a highly introverted advocate-turned-author, one of the things I struggle with is how to connect online without sharing too much about myself. The idea of “TMI Tuesday” felt right, so, here’s my first attempt. (I hope the questions don’t get more difficult later on!)

As an introverted advocate-turned-author, I struggle with how to connect online without sharing… Click To Tweet

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

I have been lucky enough to have dinner with some pretty extraordinary people over the years — some famous and some just plain fascinating. Right now, my dinner guest of choice would be my youngest stepson. Having him here would mean his passport woes are behind him and he’s getting to spend time with the American half of his family. (And, yes, we’d appreciate all the good vibes you can send in our direction, please.)

2. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

You mean aside from waking up on the right side of the dirt???

So far today is pretty close to perfect. I got up early, caught up with some friends on social media, and found this blog idea, all while drinking slurping not spilling savoring my first cup of coffee. There’s a gentle rain outside. I’ve got the windows open, the birds are singing their heads off, and the garden is full of fresh new growth. There are no outside commitments on my calendar and no critical end-of-the-day deadlines. I have two exciting, active projects in the works and lots of ideas about what I’ll be able to get to add to them today. And I’m only minutes away from My Favorite Husband returning from the gym. He almost always brings me a latte. (It’s the best of both worlds — like getting room service without having to leave home.)

It's the best of both worlds -- like getting room service without having to leave home. Click To Tweet

I also enjoy perfect days exploring new places… or new looks at old, familiar places. I’ve got a few of those on the calendar.

3. How much do you like your personality?
(pick just one)

a. A lot.
b. A little.
c. It needs work.
d. I am annoying sometimes.
e. I am difficult, and people have told me so.

I’m going to have to go with “c” — my personality needs work. While there are parts of me that are pretty OK, there are some parts that could be best described as “a hot mess.” I try not to injure others with those parts, to be at least a little bit better every day, and not beat myself too mercilessly when I screw up. I’m consoled by the fact that my dogs love me — or at least pretend until they get fed. Progress, not perfection, right?

quote on fiery background "If I'm not the problem, there is no solution."

4. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

Neither. My mind is a whole lot better than it was at 30. My body? Eh… I’d look even more ridiculous. Seriously? Everybody’s got challenges. Whether physical or mental, I hope to keep learning from mine.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any ability, what would it be? Click To Tweet

5. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any ability, what would it be?

Wow ~ so many things. To be kinder. To lose fat and build muscle. To run long distances or return to downhill skiing without requiring another knee surgery. To write something that sells millions of copies….

Maybe the best new ability I could hope for is to keep up with the ideas I have about trying things!

picture of Mary Oliver quote "instruction for living a life:
How about helping me out and making this more of a two-way street by answering one of these questions in a “comment”? (I really DO want to know.)

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