Gina’s Reading: Broken for You

Broken for You by Stephanie KallosI picked up a copy of Kallos’ debut novel on the dual recommendation of Ev at the Bookloft in Great Barrington, MA and Sue Monk Kidd’s endorsement on the cover. This may seem insignificant, but without those two women promising I would be glad I’d read this, I wouldn’t have made it through the first half. Frankly, some of the situations and literary tactics were downright silly.

Starting with Part II, Kallos found her literary legs. I was finally interested in the characters–perhaps because she introduces a couple of folks who were believable–and the story started to make more sense. She also found her hook and finally gave you the piece of information that helped explain quite a bit that was out-of-place in the first half of her novel.

Where Kallos finally made it worth reading the 360 pages was in her weaving the global hurt of the Holocaust with the private hurts of her individual characters and giving a space for cathartic exploration of roads to healing. Not unlike the significance of the art created by her characters being more about the materials than the product–Kallos’ work gains its value, not from the creation of a well-executed novel, but from her exploration of themes that resonate with a searching reader.

Of course, it always helps to have a personal connection to the subject matter in a book. As luck(?) would have it, I’m sitting in my in-laws’ home in the Berkshires surrounded by my Jewish father-in-law’s gorgeous found-object collages. As I prepared to head out to the Bookloft this afternoon for a stack of new recommendations from Ev, this book called back to me.

I’ll leave the analogies for you to discover, but will be thinking lots about histories and family of origin and chosen family and finding a way to make something beautiful out of the tatters of another chapter.

Donald Solomon's Collages

Ned Andrew's father, Donald Solomon, made hundreds of these collages from every type of found object.


Let Freedom Ring! Launching Lizzy on Independence Day


Our Four Loves

When I married Ned Andrew I got a pretty amazing bonus prize. He came with two absolutely incredible daughters — Lizzy and Skye. Ned and I met at a disability conference about 10 years ago. I was there trying to learn how to navigate the special education maze. He was there to promote the two disability leadership trainings he’s been running since the winter of 2000. We hit it off immediately.

It took another 6 or 7 years to grow our friendship, manage to live in the same town, fall in love, decide we were brave enough to try a full-time relationship gig, and get married. However, once I met them, it only took me about 45 seconds to latch onto Ned’s girls.

Anywho, as I’m not fond of the term “step-parent” — having two of my own, along with step-brothers and half-sisters, it never felt like a term that honors these relationships — we came up with alternate designations for one another. Lizzy’s one of our Big Girls. (We call the two I showed up with the Little Kids.)

And, is Lizzy ever a Big Girl. She’s already a retired CEO, having established her own line of greeting cards when she was 12. She has a part time job, travels with her youth group, and has earned her callouses texting her enormous group of friends. She keeps us all in line and is quick to offer “Big Sister Advice” to the Little Kids. She graduated with honors from high school in May and has been accepted into her college-of-choice in Nashville.

Lizzy also has cerebral palsy which mainly impacts her stamina and her ability to carry her stuff. It does not impact her wicked sense of humor, incredible organizational skills, or her determination to get her doctorate. For the most part, Lizzy uses a walker to support her while she walks. When we are doing something that will involve more walking than she’s up for, she sits in a manual wheel chair and one of us pushes her around.

It was about 5 years ago that I started harping on Lizzy’s needing a way to navigate long distances without being pushed. I wanted her to have that independence. Having Lupus, I’ve needed to use a chair from time to time and there’s just about nothing worse than being at another person’s mercy to get where you want to go. That, and we somehow tend to end up parked looking at someone’s butt instead of whatever we’re trying to see.


Most of the shots from the test drive are a blur...

Being the  — um — stepmom/extra mom/Dad’s wife — I kinda kept my mouth shut. Kinda. Until Ned talked with a colleague about how her daughter was love, love, loving her new scooter at college. Ned got pretty excited at the thought of Lizzy being able to go under her own steam. So, we arranged for Lizzy to try out several scooters “in the wild.” She spent 2 hours in the heat driving them all over the neighborhood and some additional time navigating around the house. She and Berns raced them in the parking lot. She drove it across the grassy lawn to take a phone to a neighbor. She was in her element.

She had only four requests: (1) a really cool key chain, (2) a cup holder for her coffee, (3) a seat belt so that she feels secure, and (4) that we get it before she goes to college.

Lizzy’s excited at the thought of having a way to carry her own books and stuff around campus, being able to hop into the car with her friends (the scooter Lizzy wants breaks down into 5 light pieces), and, for the first time in her life, being able to just gooooooo!

The reality is that buying this scooter is a stretch for us — it’s going to run about $1400 for the one that fits her best once we get that seat belt and cup holder installed. We have four kids and I’ve cut my hours way back to homeschool one of them. We aren’t into asking for public funds to cover stuff that we can earn ourselves — we try to be good stewards of those resources and know there are folks who need those supports more than we do.

So, I got to thinking and…

Here’s where you come in.

As you know, I’m a coach. What you may not know is that I recently invested well over a year getting certified to add a set of pretty neat graphic templates to my coaching toolkit. After working through them with several clients and finding that they truly help folks get past the typical barriers to change, I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate these tools more fully into my practice. I’m not into big announcements of “New and Improved!” Heck, I’m not really a big self-promoter at all. It isn’t my style.

But I do love my kids and I want Lizzy to have that scooter. And I do know that some of you are kicking around the idea of hiring me. So, I’ll just do us all a favor.

Gina Lynette -- Certified SHIFT-IT Graphic CoachIn honor of Independence Day, in support of Lizzy’s physical independence as she heads to college, and as a demonstration that we can do BIG THINGS if we just decide it’s worth stepping out a little, I’m offering to walk/roll folks through the SHIFT-IT Graphic Coaching Process® for about half my normal coaching rates. I’m offering three options — a single At The Crossroads session, a 6-session SHIFT-IT package, and a 12-session SHIFT-IT package — so that you can invest in your own launch at a price point and level of support that works for you.

Each session lasts an hour — a really real 60-minute hour — via the phone or Skype, and if you like, you can watch me complete your SHIFT-IT maps in real time via Google Docs.

While I’m typically pretty flexible with payment, I am asking that you book your package and pay for it in advance — we need that dough pretty soon if our girl is going to drive herself around campus on August 15th. No worries about my seeing your payment information — it all goes through PayPal and you don’t have to have a membership to check out.

If you want a pay-as-you go option, you can grab a single session (or two) at the Launching Lizzy Rate and we’ll work out the rest from there.

I’ll honor this rate for packages purchased during the month of July, 2011 or until my calendar is begging for mercy. No one deserves a stressed out coach!

Of course, if you need to know more, I’m always happy to schedule a 30-minute conversation to talk about how coaching works, to see if we’re a good fit, and to help you choose a plan that will meet your needs.

Select your Lizzy’s Launch Coaching Package from the Menu and then click on the brown button to go to the checkout.

Lizzy’s Launch Coaching Packages




While this isn’t a tax deductible donation, and we aren’t a charity of any sort, some folks asked if they could just chip in. So, here’s a button for that. I’ll watch what comes in this way very closely and if we are getting near our goal, I’ll remove the button and let y’all know!

Go, Lizzy, Go!

Lizzy & Berns Off to the Races!

Lizzy & Berns Off to the Races!

Happy Quote

Doodle 9 -- Pen on Cold-Press Watercolor Paper -- Gina Lynette

Doodle 9 -- Pen on Cold-Press Watercolor Paper -- Gina Lynette


If life’s too busy to doodle, life’s too busy. Doodle!

— Gina Lynette

(And who says I can’t quote myself? That’s what I thought.)

Happy Quote


Edna Didn't Get The Memo -- Colored Pencil on Coloring Book -- Gina Lynette

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

— George Bernard Shaw

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?

Silence Doesn’t Indicate Inertia…

Cheese Plate

Everything in Balance

I love this blog. I know it is hard to tell that from the long absences–okay, complete neglect–over the past couple of years, but I do!

When I started the MegaChallenge, I was some 39 (50) pounds overweight, living in a marriage that threatened my life, working on my degree, homeschooling my kids, and in need of a place where I could “talk” without being edited. It was an act of courage–actually several, since it took multiple tries to get logged on to blog spot–that started this blog. When I wrote that very first entry I honestly had no idea whether anyone would read it.

Then something amazing happened. People did read it, but that wasn’t the real magic. The real magic was finding other people who were in the same boat. No, not identical boats–just similar ones. There were these other bloggers who were also losing weight, but the pounds weren’t actually the point. Life was the point. They were exploring that question that seems to manifest itself from some common place in us all–“Why are we here?”

Of course, the answers varied widely. They had to. How could Allan–an admitted foodie and a food broker from NYC–maintain his sanity as he made his attempt to lose weight while handling the most decadent of foods all day every day? How could Renee drop the pounds while carrying around her self-doubts? How would Trish bounce back from a post-tummy-tuck weight gain while she juggled her responsibilities and the ones she took on for her family? How would Shawna hold up under media scrutiny when her weight-loss blog and book made her famous?

Sure, we were all talking about weight and diet and exercise and scales, but they weren’t the only common themes. Other A-Has emerged as we blogged.

Balance — Maintenance — Relationships — Goals –Celebration 

Those are the topics of larger conversations. Yeah, I lost weight and worked out and wrote about it on this blog. But I also transformed my life, found balance, improved my relationships, set brand new goals, and celebrated successes of all sorts! 

I thought about deleting the MegaChallenge when I co-created Blissification with my long-time, off-line friend, Christine. Blissification is all about what I am up to now: helping folks find their bliss. But I paused on the delete link. Maybe the MegaChallenge still has its purpose. If I am telling someone that they can be happy and all they see is the current Gina–the one who lives on 6 acres in a gorgeous part of the world, with a wonderfully supportive husband, a job she loves, and kids all around, and who is regularly called, “PollyAnna”–will they believe I have any idea what they are going through?

So, the MegaChallenge stays so that if at some point someone wants to know how I got from where I was to where I am, I can point them here.

And, who knows? At some point this 10 extra pounds that I have been carrying around for the past year might become something I want to eliminate. When I get past the precontemplation stage, this is exactly where I want to record that journey.

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