A Blast from the Past…

Polly Anna Club Button

I bought myself a Polly Anna Club Badge to prove my membership.

Several years ago (approximately three posts in Gina’s Blog Time) I mentioned that I had reconnected with my paternal clan after a couple of decades without contact. It was kind of a strange feeling that. I’ve known and been connected to these folks my entire life and knew a little more than nothing about them.

Remember those reunion episodes that every talk show hosted about once a month through the 80s and 90s? Well, I watched those with special interest because my magical thinking brain kept telling me, “Someday you may have to break down and call Donahue/Jerry/Oprah to get your family back. You need to know how this works.”

Well, I didn’t have to invite the entire planet to my family reunion, but that doesn’t mean that the magical thinking stopped there. What you typically saw on those shows was a tearful reunion with lots of hugging and crying and some sense that everyone would leave the set and be the Brady Bunch and live Happily Ever After. The End.

Um. I hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. And, as much as I love to read, I haven’t found a manual that explains how it is supposed to work. What I have found is that regardless of your best intentions and your desire to find common ground, this whole rebuilding-a-family-from-scratch thing is hard work.

As part of that process, I sent one of my sisters a link to this blog. I thought it might give her some insight into the person I am, what I care about, and how I got to this point in my life. It was pretty terrifying to open up in this way. Yes, this is a public blog, but there seems to be a difference between writing for strangers and having someone you actually (sort of) know and (truly) love reading your rants about strangers hogging the gym machines.

So, after I sent the link, I came back and read through my posts… if only to know what I’d just newly shared with my sister.

And then I got kind of nostalgic about this space.

As I’ve posted before, I haven’t deleted this blog for several reasons — most of them based in my desire to have a record of the weight-loss-turned-life-change process I detailed here. But I still feel the pull to chronicle the shifts in my life in a more expansive way than my daily facebook status updates.


And then I think, do I want to be open in this way, again… still?

When did I become so afraid?

Why am I hesitating?

There is resistance here and desire, too, and that tension has me thinking that I need to spend some time thinking about . . .


And then just like that, it hits me…

I’m turning 40 in a couple of months. This year has been another transition year — new house, new school, new certifications, new contracts — but it’s also been incredibly redundant.

I’m afraid that I’m still stuck in that same space I was in when I started down this road. Yes, I am still a PollyAnna (and have the badge to prove it). Yes, I believe in balance and dreams and love and hope.

But here recently, there has been a sour voice talking back. “Life is hard.” “People don’t change.” “You’re lost.”

Where did that come from?

Oh. NO! The balloon poppers are winning!!!

This has to stop.

There is this place tucked way back in the farthest, dustiest corners of my brain where I put the icky stuff. The real reasons I stopped being a part of my paternal clad hide back there along with being teased in the 3rd grade, the taste of black licorice, images of horror films, and everything I ever learned about life insurance. I dealt with — and healed from — those events through years of therapy, journaling, ice cream cones, and forgiveness.

As I work to reconnect with my sister, there is some sense that I’m supposed to explain all of this. Why I believe what I believe. How I got to be this person. What I was thinking over that 21 year absence.

And I don’t want to.

Not because I have anything to hide but because I’m tired of retreading that ground. I want to be here. Now. In this moment. Not rehashing 40 years of decisions, events, and transitions.

When you share pieces of your life history with someone who wasn’t there, it is typically done as a “getting to know you” exercise. It is done in the context of shared interests or some other common connection. So, when someone asks me about my kids in the context of their diagnoses because they have a kid with a diagnosis, there is probably some interest in learning what I’ve learned so that they can apply those hard lessons in their own life. Or maybe we’re just commiserating or even celebrating.

The point is that there is an exchange of finite information that makes sense in the context, and that whether or not this person agrees with my choices, they aren’t likely to get under my skin either way. There isn’t an urge to justify myself.

I’m learning that it isn’t this way with “family” regardless of how long you’ve been gone. There is some emotional pull there. An expectation. An ability to hurt without intention because it isn’t a clean slate regardless of how guileless you are trying to keep the interactions.

I think I’ve allowed myself to start believing the rumors about me. The mumble cussing about my intentions has gotten loud enough for me to hear but is not blatant enough for me to address directly. So the sour voice has worked it’s way into my brain without my awareness. It’s time to kick it out.

Here’s what I know to be true (to borrow a line from Oprah): I don’t play games. I don’t do politics. I tell the truth. I avoid peril. I laugh lots. If I say, “I love you,” I mean it. If a relationship gets damaged I’ll do just about anything to reconcile it. At some point, when I’ve exhausted every idea I have to make it right, or I feel rejected or unwanted, I’ll walk away. I’m learning to balance being open with protecting myself. I used to give my all, but I’m learning to hold some aside for me. I am always surprised when someone is upset with me because I spend about 99% of my energy trying to make others happy. I don’t have an agenda. I’m striving to be my authentic self everywhere I go.

It only took me 39 years, 10 months and a couple of days to get here. Thank goodness I’m a quick study, huh?

So, back to pointing forward. I feel another transition year coming…

But aren’t they all?

And Just Like That an Entire Year Passes…

Breaking Ground Arts Issue -- Cover by Gina LynetteNo, I didn’t fall completely off of the planet.

I took a job that involved working for an organization that required that I curtail a significant portion of my advocacy/openness/personality. I learned a whole boatload of new skills, made a couple of terrific friends, and discovered that I am much happier when I can openly share what I think and who I am.

So, to catch you up on a whole year’s worth of events, we’ll do the bullet list trick.

  • I nearly died on August 6, 2007. Yep, on B’s 9th birthday. Bad timing. Emergency surgery on August 7, 2007 saved me. My best friend nursed me back to health for weeks. I’m all better now.
  • I discovered a job opening, interviewed, and was hired between August 16 and September 17, 2007. It was exactly what I hoped for and not what I expected at all. Funny that.
  • I moved everything we own a couple of hundred miles over the course of September and October 2007. (See job.) We now live on 6+ acres in a gorgeous part of the world.
  • My photo was chosen for the cover of the Breaking Ground Arts issue in September 2007.
  • My kids went back to public school in October 2007. (See job. See move.) I relearned all I wanted to forget about Special Education–but discovered that some districts actually want to make it work for everyone.
  • I gained a “significant other” in March–or so. He was significant before. Now he lives here. I suppose that makes him super-significant, right?
  • Our–his and my together–co-created artwork was exhibited for 2 months in a “solo” (except that we are 2 people) show at our city hall from April – June 2008. It was a surreal experience walking in and seeing 25 pieces of our soul lining the walls of a public building.
  • I attended my 6th MegaConference in June 2008.
  • My son turned 10 on August 6, 2008. Yes! A decade!
  • I gained about 10ish pounds over the course of the year. Stress eating (See job. See move. See kids in school. See incredible cook aka significant other moving in.) does that to me. It’s time to get that gone.

So, sports fans, it is time to get back on the MegaChallenge Bandwagon. I still like the 200 workouts in a year deal. I still like basing it on the MegaConference schedule. That means I would have to kick some major pre-contemplation into gear and get a move on.

We installed a workout room in our basement–so I literally have no excuses for not working out. Well, not any that hold water.

I am also thinking that keeping track of the stuff I eat via fitday would be a good idea.

I am doing a whole lot of thinking.

Time for some doing!

Stuck Under a Pile of Laundry…

Send help!

I know everyone has to deal with laundry. Well, I suppose there are folks who toss aside their just-doffed clothing with the expectation that the Laundry Fairy (be it mom, wife, butler, or actual magical nymph) will remove it, clean it, dry it, fold it, and return it to the drawer where it belongs. Ignoring those folks (two of whom live in this house) the rest of us have this issue on an on going basis.

Gina, are you seriously going to do a blog post on laundry?

Why not??

Well, you have only posted like 4 times in the past 4 months. Couldn’t you update us on something a little more–well, exciting??

All right! Okay! Enough about the 8 loads (count ’em!) I did today. We’ll talk about something else. I was on a roll, though. Laundry happens to be a big deal around here.

Oh! The magazine with my rant about that Combating Autism Act came out. Of course, they deleted all of my exclamation points and question marks and sighs and acks and it reads like a research paper–but it is in print. (Why do editors do that??? They get all excited about a piece and beg you to let them publish it and then strip it of everything that made it yours to begin with…) You can see it here. Scroll down to pages 12-13.

We are also on the cover–along with several pics I took during our last lobbying trip to DC. They put more of my shots inside around a piece written by another family that went on the same trip. It seems I am a photo-journalist, too! Whoda thunk?

And as long as I am “outing” myself by giving you a link to the magazine–which contains pics of me and my child along with my real name–I might as well add a picture to my profile and include a link to my other* website. Sure, some might see it as shameless self-promotion. They obviously don’t know me very well.

So, there you have it. I have morphed into a laundry-doing, homeschooling, photo-journalist, author, webmistress, blogging, life coach.

Heavy on the laundry.

*Y’all have had a link to untangleautism.org on the sidebar for over a year. If you google “autism” and “iep” my little site will come up first–and I have done nothing to promote it evah… kah-cha!! Just goes to show what having a site sit there for 6 years can do. LOL

Decisions, decisions…

Yes, I am down to 142.5 pounds, but not in a good way. I have lost weight this week because I have stressed myself into a relapse and can’t manage to eat anything.

I am the canary in the mine. I see the big picture. I see the problems and cracks and I am probably a little hyper-vigilant. But when I see it coming, I want to warn folks.

“Get out of the way!”

“We gotta change this!”

“This could be so much easier/sweeter/kinder/effective!”

But sometimes–most of the time–they just don’t want to hear it. And I can usually let it go.

Unless it directly affects my life in some dramatic way.

Like People First Language.

Well grad school is affecting my life in a dramatic way. The issues with my team got worse–much worse–over the course of the past several weeks and I went to the administration for help. It seems that was the wrong course of action. They don’t want to hear it. And I can’t let it go.

Without detailing you to death, let’s just say that I am seriously considering leaving the program. This sucks for about 64 reasons, not the least of which is that I want this degree, I love the coursework, and I don’t know what I am going to do if I drop out.

But I can’t live with this kind of stress for another year. It isn’t fair to my children. It isn’t healthy for me. Life is way too short to go weeks without sleep or eating because folks won’t do their part.

Damn it.

Oh, son, I am so, so sorry…

Berns Goes to WashingtonFrom the press release announcing the passage of the “Combating Autism Act”:

“This bill is a federal declaration of war on the epidemic of autism,” said Jon Shestack, co-founder of Cure Autism Now. “It creates a congressionally mandated road map for a federal assault on autism, including requirements for strategic planning, budget transparency, Congressional oversight, and a substantial role for parents of children with autism in the federal decision-making process.”

“By passing this landmark single-disease legislation, the House has recognized the daily plight of the thousands of families struggling every day with autism, and has once and for all acknowledged autism as a national healthcare crisis,” said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks and chairman and CEO of NBC Universal.


The name of the act alone sent me into a rage but this???

“war on the epidemic of autism”????

“assault on autism”????

“daily plight”????

“families struggling”????

“once and for all acknowledged autism as a national healthcare crisis”????

All of this packed into TWO sentences!!! Oh. My. GOD!!!

And this stuff was said by family members of children with autism… not professionals or lobbyists.

These people are declaring war on my son!!! And their own children… they just don’t get it, do they??


I just want to go on the record saying that while I am all for finding accommodations that help folks participate in the world, offering medical treatment to those who need it, finding new ways to teach folks, and the like–I am *not* cool with using the same language we apply to terrorists and drug lords for legislation regarding our children!

Since when do we wage war on children?

It is not okay to forget that my children are just that–children.

The language we use is important! How often do children with diagnoses hear that there is “something wrong with them”?? How many times can they hear that without believing it?

Unfortunately, other people believe it, too. So, for the record, there is nothing “wrong” with my children. They are not the cause of some “daily plight” in my life. We get along just fine, thankyouverymuch.

I know that there are plenty of folks ready to heap ashes on my head for thinking this way. They will point to their children and say, “Look at my child! He bangs his head! He drools! He spreads poop on the walls! He has behaviors! You just don’t understand!!”

I do understand. I have seen it all. I have lived it all. And still I refuse to blame my children and lay the burden of my lack of happiness at their feet. I will not “wage war” on them. I will love them and care for them and fight for them and educate them and tell them over and over that they are awesome.

And I will declare war on anyone who suggests I do otherwise.

Grad School is Hard…

But not for the reasons you might think.

When you think school, what do you think about? I’d bet tuition and books are pretty high on that list.

Well, not to the folks in my “Learning Team.” Oh no! Books are optional! Yeah!

I am struggling for the words to express my complete dismay at the lack of responsibility, preparation, and readiness for school exhibited by the folks I am supposed to study with for the next 18 months.

Okay, to catch you up–my grad school program has a very large team component. We are grouped with three of our classmates into a “Learning Team” for the duration of the program. The team is required to do projects and presentations every week. It is a major part of my grade and my life. It is supposed to create a support system and synergize learning.

Well, it ain’t cutting it.

Of the four of us, two of them don’t have books 8 weeks into school–the third got hers late. One of them is planning a wedding and travels constantly, another can’t put a sentence together (subject-verb-period–how hard is it??) and doesn’t know the word “volunteer”, and the third can’t keep a promise to save her life.

“Oh, I can do that! I’ll bring that! I’ll write that!”

and then nothing.


And I am supposed to feel sorry for her because she meant to get to it.

I am such a bitch.

But after spending every weekend pathologically checking email for signs of her work only to be perpetually disappointed, and then spending every Monday scrambling to create whatever it is that she is responsible for, I am over it. The final straw came when she made some snide remark about my giving too much information to her for a project she has to do–and when I called her on it, she did her Famous Flip and denied saying it.

So, I had a Come to Jesus Meeting with Ms Flip. She heard me. She cried. She promised to do better. And then she decided to give me the silent treatment instead. (I told you she couldn’t keep a promise!!)

Mr Skate is another frustration entirely. He has yet to step up and offer to do anything. Literally. If we have 4 segments of an assignment he will wait until everyone takes a part and then just sits there. I have said things like, “So, what are you going to be doing?” or “Which part do you intend to cover?” to give him the opportunity to jump on board. I end up having to assign stuff to him. And then comes the clincher.

He can’t actually do it.

Given a bulleted summary of an article and the task of turning it into a 3-paragraph write-up, he actually randomized the points, removed all the apostrophes, misspelled “morale” as “moral” 3 times, quoted things that weren’t quotes and removed quotes from items that were, added words that had no relevance to the subject, and sent it to me “finalized and ready to print.” It seemed moot to point out that nothing was cited, and that APA has a manual to help with that.

The wedding-planner girl isn’t so bad. As a matter of fact, she is pretty on-the-ball. She works hard to keep up her end, which I appreciate. The downside is that she is a solid B student–and I haven’t made a B in 15 years. So, we have different goals. Her opening salvo was to make fun of me and to invalidate my entire life when she was assigned to introduce me to the class. Nice, huh? She is an ESTJ and I am an ENFP–which basically means we are outgoing opposites of one another. I am touchy-feely; she is all business. It can be a good thing–in a yin/yang kind of way–if we don’t kill one another.

I am not responsible for these people. I shouldn’t be carrying them through school. Yeah, my degree is in Human Resource Development–but I didn’t bargain for having to start out implementing a major intervention. I mean, that’s supposed to be the final project not the opening move!

Send chocolate.

Missed their target…

Catalog CoverI just got a catalog from Jessica London in my mailbox. The cover features a size-6 model wearing a pretty periwinkle shirt/shell set. Having never heard of this company, imagine my surprise to discover that they cater to women who wear sizes 14W-34W.

I say, “cater” but what I should say is that they sell clothing to this group of women–they cater to the misguided illusion that women who wear plus sizes need to be deluded into thinking that they will suddenly shrink to a size 6 upon donning the outfits.

There is not a single model in the entire catalog with a BMI over 20. Gah!!

I don’t wear plus sizes anymore, so I can’t buy anything from this company–and if I were wearing plus sizes, I wouldn’t know from the cover or inside shots that they carry them!

How is this considered “good” marketing?

I am hoping it isn’t–or that it doesn’t continue to be.

Things gotta change.

Brain fog rolls in…

FallHave you ever really wanted to blog but had so few firing brain cells that you just couldn’t make an entry make sense to save your traffic??


Well, lemme fill you in on what it is like. I have opened the word processor no less than 15 times in the past week and started typing. I get about 5 paragraphs into it and go back and re-read what is there. I shake my head in utter dismay because it is completely unintelligible. I close the browser window and assure Blogger that, yes, I really do want to navigate away from the page without saving my changes.


It isn’t that I don’t have any news. I do! I saw 145 lbs on the scale on Sunday. I went to the gym on Saturday. (Sure it was closed when I got there, but I actually laced up my shoes! That has to count for something, no??) I could tell you all sorts of stories about my wacko family–including that my mom and step-dad moved an hour away without ever officially telling me that they had bought a new house. I could even update you on my grad school progress. (Did you know that textbooks no longer come with covers? They are still over $100, but they are all paperback. I could rant for hours on this alone!)

So what, you ask, seems to be the problem?

Allergy med head.


I don’t know why my immune system takes such strong offense to the change of seasons, but let the temperature adjust by 10 degrees and I am practically incapacitated for 2 weeks. I am allergic to just about every plant and animal on the globe. My allergist actually took pictures of my scratch tests–the reactions were so strong that my whole body looked like one big, swollen mosquito bite. Oh, and lucky me, I am one of the 3% (not a scientifically-based statistic. Go look it up if you want to know. I can’t be bothered in my state.) of the population that reacts to allergy shots by getting worse. Tack on a metabolism that runs through meds in half the normal time, and you have a recipe for allergy med head.

So, forgive me if I am somewhat unaccounted for as fall arrives. I am wandering around bleary-eyed.

Warning to Lurkers…

If you are reading this and not posting comments, you are officially a lurker. You may feel safe, but you aren’t. One day you will get overcome by the urge to say something in response to one of my brilliant posts and *blam* you will be exposed! You might even say something that gets me so inspired that I mention you by name in my next post along with a kick-your-ass challenge to lose 5 pounds by Labor Day. Impossible, you say? Well, scoff not, because I speak from experience.

Deep breaths.

I can lose 5 pounds by Labor Day. And I am so excited to think that in 6 weeks I could be well on my way through the 160’s. Of course, I am not going to get there eating Happy Meals with Allan. So, I promise to redouble my fitness efforts. I got a good start on it this afternoon by completing workout 33/200 with a 60 minute run to nowhere and a trip around the upper body and ab machines. But this is a double challenge – not just workouts but weight is on the line here – so I will also begin keeping track of my – gulp – food.

I am not going to determine a calorie/fat/carb/protein limit at this point. I am simply going to keep track of what I eat/drink and own it. You may follow along if you like.

Oh, and if you are interested in joining the challenge, head over to see Renee to get signed up.

Aunt Angie's GFCF Peanut Butter Cookies

Good thing Aunt Angie taught us to bake our own GFCF Peanut Butter cookies.

Soap Box of the Day: My kids are allergic to the majority of the American diet. I’m not kidding. Between the two of them, they are unable to eat oats, barley, wheat, rye, soy, chicken, pork, seafood, dairy, and many dyes. What do they eat? Well, lots of fresh fruits and veggies. And very, very expensive replacement grains.

What do I mean by expensive? Well, a package of 10 cookies runs $4.79. These aren’t large cookies. They make Oreos look like saucers. Hot dog buns? $4.00 for 4 half-length facsimiles. It isn’t like my kids live on cookies and hot dog buns, but they are kids and they want to eat what their friends eat – or at least something that passes for similar.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that it costs more to make small batches of product on specially dedicated lines, but when I consider the fact that 80% of the ingredients in our food supply are absolutely unnecessary, I get peeved. There is no reason we should have to purchase a special brand of rice cereal – except that manufactures love to add “barley malt” or “caramel color” or dye to everything. Don’t even get me started on the phenolmethylstearate stuff.

Sigh. I guess what it really comes down to is my issues with the food battles I have had all my life. My parents were on a perpetual diet, and even though I was a skinny kid/teen I was watched like a hawk when I ate for fear I might take after them. I swore that food would be a non-issue with my kids; that I wouldn’t harp and portion and push or deny them what their bodies told them that they were hungry for. And it makes me nuts enough to have to tell my kids, “no” because of all of their dietary restrictions without the added barrier of the financial consideration.

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