Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Unicorns and dead teenagers


I was profoundly moved by a young man I met on Facebook a few weeks ago. He'd posted in a group of LGBT people of varying faiths, pouring out his sorrow about what he witnessed at the Jerusalem Pride parade.

Here's my post about him and about the same violence that simmers here in the United States:

From Victorious Unicorn to a Dead Teenager in a Single Week.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Meet Gizmo, Healer of Hearts


Writing Rumplepimple has connected us to amazing people that we'd otherwise never had the honor and pleasure to meet. The amazing Gizmo is just one example. (OK, so he's not a person. But you get the idea.)

Rumor has it that Rumplepimple and Gizmo may have a chance to meet snout to butt soon. Can't wait.

The interview below recently appeared on HuffPost's Good News page. It's hard to believe how much this human/dog duo is accomplishing.

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Meet Gizmo, a 3.5-pound wonderdoglet on a mission to change the world one doggy hug at a time. I connected with Jen Adams (Gizmo's human) while getting the word out about my picture book Rumplepimple. We appeared on the same episode of The Pet Radio Show, and as I learned more, I began to wonder how such a wee creature could make such a huge difference.

The "Gizmo's Frens" Facebook page has almost 80,000 followers. Why do you think he has become so popular?

Truthfully, I am shocked at the size and diversity of Gizmo's following. They come from all walks of life, from all over the world, and they are all there to share a sense of kindness and good will. Maybe people first respond to the same thing I did: his lil' face and his excellent ears. I think when they learn what he's about and see his message, they want to be a part of making a positive difference.

You two do amazing work in all sorts of venues. Tell us how you got started.

 Before Gizmo found me, I lost the love of my life suddenly. Gizmo, with his gentle, loving nature, facilitated a real transformation for me. I went from a grieving, lost soul who was full of self-pity to having this amazing little creature whom I knew could change lives other than my own. Gizmo forced me to step outside of myself and help others, and, in so doing, he channeled healing in me.

During the very early stages of our journey, Gizmo exhibited a keen sense of people's emotions. He would seek out people who were having a tough time, and climb into their laps or lie beside them, as if to say, "Listen. I see you are hurting, and I will help you, ok? Cuz we're frens."

That being said, I just... began! Wherever there were folks who needed help in our community or people who were doing kind things, I showed up with the Giz. When people would say, "Who's that dog?" I would just say, "Oh wow, you don't know Gizmo? He's here to help!" In acting like he was a public figure, and believing that he was, so he became!

Gizmo became a certified therapy dog with Paws for Friendship, Inc. when he was two years old. We started doing visits at an assisted living facility, and it just grew from there. Today we visit hospitals, schools, veterans, nursing homes, juvenile facilities, group homes, mentoring programs, and more. We even traveled to Wisconsin when a mentoring program for teen girls asked if Gizmo could come help them deliver Christmas cookies to veterans. I figured, "Why not?" So away we went!

Gizmo also visits Hartford Public Library and its branch libraries as a Paws to Read certified reading assistance dog. Being a special education teacher, I wanted to help kids gain confidence in reading.

In observing Gizmo's interactions with people in need at the facilities where we visit, I realized that, in addition to animal assisted therapy, crisis counseling is another passion I never knew I had! So last September I started my Master's in Human Service/Counseling - Crisis Response and Trauma. Gizmo became the first known Community Emergency Response Team therapy dog in Connecticut. He went through the training with me, and is now available to visit storm shelters, sit with families during search and rescue situations, etc. when CERT is activated. Most recently, Gizmo passed his field evaluation for an amazing group called K9 First Responders (K9FR), a Critical Incident Mental Health Support organization. K9FR Teams bridge the gap between a traumatic event and the connection to mental health services. The goal is to jump-start the process of restoring a person's emotional and cognitive equilibrium through the animal/human bond.

Gizmo visited the state house in June! Tell us a bit about how that happened.

I donated a therapy visit with Gizmo to a charity auction. The woman who won the visit is a staffer for a legislator. She asked if Gizmo could come visit the House of Reps and Senate. We were humbled to oblige, and we were welcomed so warmly by all the Reps and Senators! As the universe would have it, our visit occurred on the day before Senate was slated to vote on a bill that had just passed through the House of Reps that would make therapy dogs more accessible to children in crisis in Connecticut. The following day the Senate voted unanimously to make the bill a law!

Why are you so committed to making a difference?

I decided life is a choice. We can live in misery and bitterness over crappy stuff, or we can focus on creating happy stuff. Throughout this journey, I have discovered an amazing relationship with God (or a Higher Power, the Universe, whatever anyone chooses to call it) - not so much in a religious sense, but in a spiritual sense. I believe it's what He wants for all of us... to help and support each other however we can, and to love. Truly, what other reason is there for being here?

You frequently offer words of inspirational wisdom on Gizmo's Frens Facebook page

The inspiration is simply what he has taught me through his encounters with people in need, including myself. All of his posts about forgiveness, hope, faith, love, kindness, living each day to the fullest, etc. came from his heart and transformed my life, and hopefully maybe the lives of others.

Do you think Gizmo knows he is a hero and a celebrity? He looks pretty humble.

Gizmo once sought out a random woman. He sat at her feet and looked up at her. She introduced herself as an animal communicator! She said Gizmo told her he knows he is important, but he does not know why. I think I will keep it that way.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Curve Magazine's Mr. Mom blogs about Rumplepimple.


We were so honored to have Rumplepimple featured in Mr. Mom's blog for Curve Magazine!

If you aren't familiar with it, Mr. Mom, AKA Lyndsey Darcangelo, offers insights into parenting with heart, depth, and intelligence. Lyndsey is a freelance writer who is in the midst of finishing up a YA novel. You can read more about her work at her website:

http://www.lyndseydarcangelo.com/

Thanks Lyndsey, for sharing your family life and for including Rumplepimple in this post about diverse books!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Don't like my view of abortion? Blame my kids.


Yesterday's post about Planned Parenthood's brokering of fetal body parts provoked several young women who are close to my daughter. One of them suggested that if I had not aborted, my living children might never have existed. The other said that even if they had existed, the entire world would have shifted based on that decision, and that neither I nor the two youngest of my children would be who we all are now.

I conceded their points. Unfortunately, they didn't understand mine, which means that I didn't do a good job of explaining it. Let me try again, here.

I'm not sorrowing after some mythical four-child family that could have been, with perhaps an older version of each sex rounding things out and cancelling my feelings of guilt. I've not imagineered that vision for many reasons.

What I am saying is that when my youngest child began to turn into a person, morphing from generic infant to baby, to inquisitive, focused toddler, I compared these two children that I adored. As the years passed their differences were amplified, two tines from a single handle arcing away and twisting into curves and arabesques and clever twinings I could never have imagined. Their difference was fascinating. Compelling. Absorbing.

Same family. Same genes. Same nature. Same nurture. Extraordinary difference.

And as I pondered this glorious differentiation, I marveled. Their magnificent particularly had nothing to do with me other than my "Yes". Every bit of who they were was due to the sheer beautiful whimsy of creation itself. A chance coalescing of ingredients into being.

And so I began to mourn. Not for some "Leave it to Beaver" 1950s version of family. I knew what my marriage was like. I recognized the brokenness that I brought into it and my flaws as a mother. I never mourned not having four children.

I mourned for the world, that two creations as amazingly unique and brilliantly colored and exquisitely, particularly, detailed had been stamped out of existence due to my "No."

Hear me now: I don't judge the women who feel like they have no other choice than to abort. I understand that feeling, all too well. I felt the panic, the despair, and the pressure.

Twice.

I worked hard to believe that what was being removed from me was just a bit of tissue. A few renegade cells, not that much different from cancer in their ability to disrupt a life. So I don't judge those despairing, cornered girls.

Quite the opposite. My heart cries for them, and worries. My heart aches for my daughter's dear friend, so quick to say that she would hurry to a doctor to have an unwanted being scraped from her body, because I've seen pictures of her sisters. I've seen how much they look alike, but I can't know from mere photos the myriad ways that they both resemble each other and are unique.

I can only reflect on the stunning particularity of my own two living children, and catch my breath in awe and wonder. And I will always mourn not permitting those other two the chance to develop into their own intensely unique and beautiful selfdom.