What Becomes of Six and a Half Pounds

N 2121 years ago I held this guy in my arms for the first time and was paralyzed by the thought of how much my life would change, having no idea that it would change even more than I had thought it could. This guy, who was 6 ½ pounds, would set my life on an uncharted course and lead me to a place completely different from where I thought I would go, from where I had planned to go. (Where was that? Oh, yeah. An editing job in New York.) My career evolved into something I would have never considered, and I couldn’t feel more fulfilled.

Today marks 21 years of this guy leaving his mark on the world, on me, on our family. 21 years of trying to figure him out, wondering what would happen next, what I needed to do. 21 years of keeping up with him – and trying to keep my sanity. 21 years of wanting to “give him back to the circus” (as my grandmother would say). And 21 years of loving him.

Last year he turned 20 (I know that probably didn’t need to be pointed out, but stay with me), and the whole two-decade milestone was cool, but something’s different about 21. For many parents of kids with special needs, it’s when their kids no longer attend a public school transition program. (Nigel refused to attend high school longer than his peers, but when you’re voted by your senior class as Most Likely to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse, high school’s not really on your radar.) Anyway (thanks for staying with me), turning 21 is not always about drinking (because when you have autism, epilepsy, and bipolar – and take meds to treat them – any amount of drinking is ill-advised, with emphasis on ill).

But turning 21 is about adulthood. For the last five years I’ve written on my websites about Nigel’s “transition to adulthood.” And – my God – we’re here. This is what adulthood looks like for my son. Yes, he will continue to grow and evolve as everyone, regardless of abilities or disorders, does. But for right now, I look at this young man who has come into his own, I look at the hurdles he has faced, the mountains, and what he still contends with every day to navigate this world, and I marvel at him. I marvel at his tenacity, evident in infancy, his adventurous spirit, his creativity, his insightful musings and comments, his wit (have you read the Nigelisms?), and his steadfastness as he envisions his dream of having a career in filmmaking.

Twenty-one. I went out to dinner at Red Lobster with my dad and my grandma. I moved to a different state (for the third time). I changed my college major (also, I believe, for the third time). That was 21 for me. For Nigel: dinner at a gourmet burger joint with his family. Later in the year, maybe getting his GED. Maybe working at Home Depot and starting to save for film school. Adulthood on his own terms. Making his way in a world from which he constantly needed relief, but in which he always desperately wanted to be.

Happy 21st Birthday, Nigel. It’s all you.

A Suicide of One’s Own

There are different ways to say it:

Took his own life.
Self-inflicted death.
Died at her own hands.
Offed himself.
Committed suicide.
Killed herself.

Multiple ways to wonder the same thing: Why?


Though her body of written work is extensive and laudable, Virginia Woolf is best known for her extended essay “A Room of One’s Own” and her self-described “mental disease” – what is now termed bipolar disorder – which led to drowning herself. Statistics say as many as 15% of people with bipolar disorder will commit suicide, half will attempt to, and nearly 80% will contemplate doing so (Everydayhealth.com).

Recently a good friend of the family became one of the 15% (perhaps that is yet another way to say it). He had three prior attempts that we know of. He had severe bipolar. And he had no success with medication.

There are those who would say it should “come as no surprise, considering his history” – as if grief were unwarranted for those who wanted to die. There are those who would say he “gave up on life” – as if the physical pain caused by malfunctioning neurotransmitters in his head had not played a significant role.

And then there is this:


We may never really know what goes through one’s mind, what demons lurk there, what insufferable agony. There could be many reasons. But does knowing the reason make up in any way for our loss? Our grief? Is it because we want testimony that, no, there was nothing we could have done? Or do we want to berate ourselves till our own dying day that we should have done something? That berating ourselves absolves us of the fact that we didn’t?

But it’s human nature to wonder why – probably because we want to understand. We want to make sense of the seemingly senseless. Most of all we want closure, and to many people knowing why seems to be one way to get it. Why isn’t it enough that a person was in pain? There must be more to it, some think, more reason to have done something so horrible, so irrevocable, so final. So selfish, some think. They don’t ask why; they only judge.

Whether we seek closure or make judgments, we somehow must come to terms with the untimely death that is suicide. We can grieve, we can postulate; we can put someone on a pedestal or we can condemn them. We may try to understand. And sometimes we must accept that trying may be the only thing we’re able to do.

[Image: The Suicide by Édouard Manet]

Transition Check-In: The Three

It hit me today that I have reached the point where I don’t always know where Nigel is – and I’m okay with that. He is in a supported living program. He’s not in college or driving. But he turns 21 in two months, and he is a walking, talking special needs success story.


It was fourteen months ago, with no small amount of trepidation on my part and his, that Nigel was given the key to his own apartment. In his words, he has “learned a lot” since then and wisely remarks that he is still learning. He is semi-independent, receiving daily support from Living Opportunities, a local organization that provides support for adults with developmental disabilities. They check in to make sure he is taking his meds, take him grocery shopping, help with doing laundry, keep track of medical appointments and provide transportation to them, among other things. I pay his bills out of his Social Security income and obtain and fill out all paperwork associated with his various benefits. I probably do a lot more I’m not even thinking of at the present moment.

It should be noted that no success of his came via luck. It involved tenacity, determination, and years of all kinds of therapy for a five-year-old who, when asked by a doctor, could not say his own name. Whose severe sensory issues precluded going to the grocery store and any other public place because this was a time when no one thought to suggest wearing noise-cancelling headphones. Instead, he shrieked and bolted. The list of his challenges, past and present, is long.

But now the guy safely rides his bike everywhere, up to twenty miles away and back. He handles its maintenance himself. He pushed his bike with its bike trailer attached all the way up a 3600-foot mountain because he was training to climb a 9500-foot one. (And with the accompaniment of my amazing, wildland firefighter sister, he succeeded.)

He takes good care of his cat. He likes to vacuum (read here why this is huge). He refers to his autism as his “difference,” and he has begun to ask me for dating advice and ways to meet “young ladies” who would understand and accept him.

Most importantly, he comes and goes as he pleases. Yes, you read that correctly. He comes and goes as he pleases, and I feel okay about that. I’m no longer frantic at the thought of him out alone in the community. Yes, sometimes I worry – he is vulnerable socially (being taken advantage of) and physically (bike riding in a city – or on a mountain). But from his own apartment he comes and goes as he pleases and I’m not wringing my hands all day long.

I don’t know which is more significant.


He calls them “The Three” – his wallet, keys, and phone. He got tired of hearing me list all three items individually, having to say Yes, yes, yes to each separate inquiry, and he came up with a collective term. So now when I pick him up to come and spend the night at the house or to leave for some other activity, as we head for the door I ask, “Do you have The Three?” And he says Yes, only once, and then we go about the rest of our day, truly blessed, well aware of what The Three symbolize for both of us.

The Unwelcome Presence of Epilepsy

I started to hear a repetitive banging noise coming from the living room, and I yelled out, “Stop the banging!” When it did not stop, I marched out to the living room. “I said to stop the banging! What are you doing?!” I yelled again, looking at Nigel, whose body was half-off the couch with his legs stuck under the heavy coffee table, banging it. I thought perhaps he was acting out a scene from the movie or laughing in an exaggerated way, but that was before I saw his face. I pulled back the blanket that had been covering him, and then all at once it hit me. The violent convulsing, the profuse frothing at the mouth, the eyes rolling back in his head: He was having a seizure.


My mind likes to torture me by replaying the events of Nigel’s first seizure five years ago. The above quote comes from the post I had written about it, and I still remember everything about that night. Mostly I remember the terror.

His subsequent seizures were the same. Always the violent convulsing, the eyes rolling back, the frothing at the mouth, the rigid limbs. Often the unmistakable thud of a body hitting the floor. I still hear it. Every time I hear a thud, even when Nigel is not in the house, I freeze, my heart races, and my PTSD kicks in. The force of his seizures is still with me, probably always will be.

The first medication we tried for him was not very effective. He continued to have seizures on a regular basis, like clockwork. Finally I convinced his aging doctor to try a different anticonvulsant, and we got it right just the second time out. It worked. I still lived in fear of the seizures, but they appeared to be controlled, and I felt so fortunate.

Last summer marked two whole years that Nigel, to the best of our knowledge, had not had a seizure. His neurologist ordered a 24-hour ambulatory EEG to see what the seizure activity in his brain now looked like. If it had decreased, we could begin the slow process of reducing the daily medication that, although a blessing, compromises his liver.

Nigel was excited about the prospect of eventually not having to take pills every day, of people not having to remind him. And he is also concerned about liver damage since his grandfather died of liver cancer. We were optimistic about the EEG.

But the results indicated that the amount of seizure activity had not decreased. At all. In his frontal lobe he still experiences the frequent, random spiking that, according to his doctor, could cause him to have a seizure at any time. We were disappointed that the medication could not be reduced, but immensely grateful that it was doing its job, and doing it well.


This month marks three years that Nigel has been seizure-free. Three years! We are so blessed that not only do we live during a time in history in which we are able, in many cases, to control seizures through medication, but also because we found one that works for Nigel. I quickly remind myself of that whenever I lament that the epilepsy is still with us, still maintaining its unwelcome presence in his frontal lobe, continuing to compromise his executive function ability and his cognitive processing. It may always be this way. But at least we have the upper hand.

[image credit: Science Life]

The Journey: My Parenting Milestones

I looked up “top parenting milestones” online, since with Aidan’s high school graduation this month I’ve made it to what I consider one of the biggest, and the first three pages of the search engine lists milestones for new parents. Baby milestones, like first time sitting up or cutting a tooth, most of which are now in the backs of our minds for those of us with teens and young adults. The only baby milestones that stand out for me are when they started walking and talking. And when you have kids with special needs, those milestones and others may be delayed – or they might not happen at all.


Both of my boys were walking a month before their first birthdays. The talking milestone took a lot longer to achieve and involved some intensive therapy, but it happened. So did toilet training (although also delayed). I would have celebrated the day the word playdate was retired, if I’d ever had to use it. Alas, many of our milestones were different. I have a friend who threw a huge party when her 10-year-old son was finally toilet trained (and I know others who aren’t and may never be). I celebrated Nigel’s first unprompted thank you – which occurred at age 15. So, things like that.

I think, special needs or not, we all have our own parenting milestones that we celebrate. What’s a big deal for me might not be for someone else, and vice versa. Here are mine (those I have reached, in addition to those mentioned above), in order of importance (not chronological):

• Moving into a supported living apartment (way sooner than I thought would be possible! Yes!!)
• Getting haircuts and going into a restaurant or grocery store without a sensory meltdown that involved shrieking, bolting, or writhing on the ground (it took a very, very long time, and I still don’t take it for granted)
• Learning to read and write (one guy had a hard time with reading, the other with writing)
• Graduating from high school (almost didn’t make it)
• Flying on a plane alone (wow!)
• Learning to make their own simple breakfast so I could sleep in on weekends (thank God)
• First time home alone (without setting things on fire – yeah, that happened)
• Taking their own showers (I think all three of us were excited about this)
• Learning to ride a bike (one guy took a lot longer)
• Going to prom (well, one did)
• Me noticing their leg hair growing in (yeah, I’m a mom of boys)
• When they started shaving (one even cuts his own hair now!)
• No longer having to bake/bring treats for class parties or facilitate the signing and addressing of Valentine cards (so glad that was only elementary school)


There will be more down the road, more things to marvel at and celebrate. For now, having both the boys out of high school is huge to me. It hasn’t hit me yet that, as a long-term single parent, I’ve actually made it. Who am I now? Where do I go from here? For the past 21 years my identity has been Mom. Of course, I always will be Mom, and that is a gift I treasure. But what can I now focus on that I couldn’t for the past 21 years? I’m not the person I was; I don’t even remember that young woman. It’s like going to your hometown decades later and not recognizing it. You know you’re in the right place, but everything’s different. My young adult sense of self cannot – and probably should not! – be reclaimed. So, I have the opportunity to reinvent many aspects of myself, and I’m excited about that, but also comtemplative. It’s a welcome change, but it feels odd, and somehow sudden, like being in a monsoon for hours and then all at once it’s over. I’ve still got the new graduate at home for a few more months, but life with him is different now, and although positive, it will take some getting used to. I’m happy though. I’ve waited a long time for this, and I’m finally here. Bring on the empty nest!

[Image credit: Therapies for Kids]

The Health of Our Heads

In retrospect, I can recognize the signs. It starts with agitation. I mismatch and contradict what people say. My filters are gone and I sometimes say insensitive things, things I wouldn’t normally say or would have said more diplomatically. I don’t sleep well that night. And the next day – well, the next day is unbearable.


For most people, Mental Health Awareness Month means educating ourselves about mental health and acknowledging its importance. It means that for me as well. I’ve always been intrigued by various mental disorders and learning about them and how they affect people and their families. But over the last two years since the commemorative month was designated, the awareness part of it means something much more personal, much closer to home. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For me, it’s every month.

My typical bipolar episode is one that most people don’t really know about: the mixed state. It’s when you experience both mania and depression at the same time. There aren’t that many references to it, and when I find one, it’s very short, almost dismissive. And that’s dangerous because of the 10-15% of people with bipolar who commit suicide do it while in a mixed state – you’re depressed but you have the energy of mania to do something about it. One minute you hear raging and wailing in your head, and the next minute you can’t stop crying. You don’t rest. You don’t lie down waiting for it to pass because you can’t. You pace, you walk in circles around the kitchen table, you feel like throwing your head into the wall, and sometimes you do. You’ll do anything to stop the relentless churning. It’s like having an egg beater in your head. And usually the only thing that stops it is the right medication.

Often when people feel better after taking their medication, though, they think they don’t need it anymore and stop taking it. And they immediately go into an episode. I knew that I wouldn’t stop taking my medication because I felt better, and so I developed this false sense of security that if I just took it every day, I would never experience another episode.

But if I don’t manage my stress, I can easily have what is termed a breakthrough episode. It will seemingly come from out of nowhere because I wasn’t paying attention to my triggers, and I wasn’t aware of the signs I exhibit when I’m beginning to go into an episode, the signs I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Over time and vigilant self-awareness, I have come to recognize the signs much earlier and can take some backup medication that my doctor has prescribed for these situations. It usually does the job, and I am back at my baseline within 2-3 days, very grateful that I didn’t advance into a full-blown episode, which sometimes feels like a glimpse of hell.

There are worse disorders than bipolar, worse diagnoses and outcomes. This is not a poor-me post; it’s an attempt to increase knowledge during Mental Health Awareness Month. We are not just in treatment centers and residential facilities. We are among you every day, working, paying bills, taking our kids to scout meetings, grocery shopping, lobbying for our children who have developmental disabilities, trying to function even when our neurotransmitters misfire, hoping like hell that when they do, we’ll gain the upper hand.

[image credit: Gifts for Awareness]

Cancer Is Just a Word

Cancer’s just a word until you witness it ravage someone you love. And if you are with that person, that loved one, when they take their last breath, it changes you forever. Sometimes in ways you wouldn’t expect.


Four years ago this month my father died of colon cancer after it had taken over his body and took up residence in his liver. In a previous post I wrote in detail about my experience with caring for him in his final weeks, days, hours, and minutes. Sometimes it feels like four years ago, and sometimes it feels like four months. Sometimes it is a compartmentalized sad memory, and other times it is still raw, and my grief can overtake me in an instant.

And at these times I wonder – how much longer will it be like this? I read or heard somewhere that it takes ten years to work through the loss, to get to the place where you still miss them – you always will – but the grief no longer weighs over you as heavily, as unpredictably. You are close to a place of peace.

I feel my dad in unexpected places and in different ways. Last week I was driving home from work the day after the anniversary of his death and it hit me, like so many other times in the past four years, that he’s gone, he’s really gone. And I sobbed as I continued to drive, the thought occurring to me that it would be safer if I pulled over. And then I imagine that I’m being pulled over by a cop, and he comes up to the window and I’m crying and he thinks I’m just trying to get out of a ticket and I say My dad died and he asks when, and I say Yesterday, because that’s the truth. And he asks me for more details to determine if I’m telling the truth so I answer his questions and he must be convinced because he says I’m sorry and tells me to wait until I’m calm and drive safely. But I never pull over and I never got pulled over and I keep driving, gasping, trying to stifle the sobs, and I get home and pull in the driveway and go into the house and cry even harder and wonder Where is this coming from after four years?

Fortunately, it’s not always in sad ways that I feel him. A month ago I went to see a regional choir concert. At one point only men were on the stage, and they sang a song in their deep, resonant voices that reverberated throughout the theater. My dad was a singer, a tenor. I loved his beautiful pitch-perfect voice that I heard throughout my life and am blessed to have several recordings of it. So I’m sitting there in the theater listening to these men’s resounding voices fill me with memories, and suddenly I feel his presence, strong and certain. He is there hovering around me, and I smile, basking in the warmth. A lump forms in my throat but I take a deep breath and continue to smile, happy to have him near me, enjoying the ethereal singing that brought him.


That word – cancer – now has a profound meaning for me. For some it is a raider that must be conquered, for others it is a thief. For me it is both of those things, but it is also a lense that makes me view life differently, knowing that it should be lived fully and openly. That dreams should be chased and trips should be taken and people should be hugged as often as possible. That we should love with abandon and live without regret. And for that, I am surprisingly and inexplicably grateful.

The Journey: Our Neurological Perfect Storm

On average:

These are not good odds. But in neurobehavioral research, it’s the perfect storm.


At the age of eight I discovered my father’s Encyclopaedia Britannica, a 30-volume set, and read each one. I learned about anatomy and geography and developed a love of history. I also became fascinated by autism. I read about epilepsy. Various mental illnesses intrigued me, especially schizophrenia and bipolar (then called manic depression). I started writing a story about an autistic girl who communicated via echolalia. I wrote another story about a pregnant girl who had schizophrenia. As I got older I began reading other books about autism (that I could find – not too many back then).

It was as if I somehow knew that I would find myself the captain of a boat in a perfect storm, trying to get over the next monumental swell. My son’s autism. His development of epilepsy. My diagnosis of bipolar. Then his. One neurobehavioral wave after another.

When I stop and think about it, I really wonder how he gets through his day, how he does as well as he does. As I know from experience, bipolar on its own can be horrible enough. Add a healthy dose of autism and some grand mals and you have the makings of I-think-I’ll-just-stay-in-bed-the-rest-of-my-life.

It isn’t pretty; it isn’t poetic. There isn’t some beautiful, poignant way I can write about it. Did I know? Was my eight-year-old self subconsciously trying to prepare me for my future? Was God, or fate? (“Oh, so you’re interested in this stuff? Really want to know what it’s like? That could be arranged.”)

The sea has calmed a bit since we finally found the perfect pharmaceutical storm. I don’t even want to think about where we would be without anticonvulsants and mood stabilizers. Back in the days when autism and bipolar didn’t even have names, we would be in asylums. We would be those people you see in old black and white photographs, chained to beds or – God forbid – cement cells. We would be wailing, rocking, wishing for death. How could I know that? Because before medication, that’s what I was doing. Just not in an asylum.


There are worse things than that trio of statistics. There are those even now who don’t have access to the medication that would alleviate their pain, and those who have tried many medications and still have not found relief. There are many storms besides our own, many boats at the mercy of nature. It is for them that I share my journey, and with it the hope that in some small way, it helps.

*image courtesy of Discover Magazine

5 Questions for a Parent of a Child with a Rare Seizure Disorder

Hope for a Sea Change cover art

Sometimes Life in the Different Lane pushes you further than you ever thought you could go. I’m honored to interview my friend Elizabeth Aquino, author of the memoir Hope for a Sea Change and A Moon, Worn As If It Had Been a Shell, her blog. The exquisitely written Hope for a Sea Change chronicles the first year of her experience with her daughter’s life-long struggle with epilepsy. I am indebted to Elizabeth for her candor, openness, and generosity in doing this interview.

1. You had mentioned that you came to like people you “wouldn’t otherwise have dreamed of knowing or even liked.”  What other aspects of having a child with a disability have you experienced that you wouldn’t have if Sophie weren’t in your life?  

I honestly look on my life before I had Sophie as another one entirely, so everything that’s happened since seems marked by her presence. I know that I would never have made my home in California and discovered the part of the world where I am happiest despite however many hardships I face. I love the Pacific ocean and the temperate air and the easy access to desert, mountain and sea. I also love the accessibility of progressive ideas about health and natural medicine and acupuncture — alternative medicine in general — that I never would have learned about nor embraced had I not had Sophie and sought alternatives for her.

2.  What was it that caused you to feel “a strange sense of relief despite having handed my baby to a stranger,” especially since it sounds like you hadn’t gone into the room with her?

It’s difficult to articulate how powerful and life-changing Dr. Frymann was and became in our lives. She was old and very stooped and small, even then nearly twenty years ago, yet she exuded peace. I’ve very much learned to trust my instincts since meeting and entrusting Sophie to Dr. Frymann. I think she embodied all that was inarticulate inside of me, my dread at how Sophie was being treated, my intuition that she was being harmed and not helped, etc. When she took Sophie from me, I felt relieved somehow of the burden, that someone was finally going to help us.

3.  You had written if someone told you that you would eventually make California your home, and that you would have two more children there, you would have “shaken my head and laughed.” At what point did you decide to make the move?

I made three trips out to southern California for six weeks at a time over about two years when I was still living in New York City. The osteopath’s treatments were really helping Sophie, and I found going back to dark and cold New York harder and harder, even though I did love living there. Sophie seemed to thrive during her times in California, so my husband and I thought it might be good to just move out temporarily to give it a go and commit to treatments twice a week for as long as it took. When he got a transfer and promotion with his job, and his company actually paid for our move, it seemed destined. Still, we didn’t expect to stay forever, but one year turned into two and then three — and now we’re working on the seventeenth!

4.  Did Sophie’s disability affect your decision to have more children?

Yes, it did. I’ve written quite a bit about that, but deciding to have another child was both terrifying and entirely impulsive. I knew that I had to have more children. I wanted more children. When Henry was born and developed normally, I began to think that I should have at least another so that we weren’t always defined as the family with one disabled and one not — that sounds terrible to me now, but at the time I wanted Sophie to not only be a part of a larger family (more people to love her!) but also to give Henry support as we aged. That kind of thinking came much later, though, when it became more and more apparent that Sophie would be dependent on us for the rest of our and her life.

5.  If you could go back and tell your younger self anything to prepare her for the parenting experience ahead of her, what would you say?

Hell, I don’t know. Run away now to Bora Bora and don’t look back? In all seriousness, I’d probably advise my younger self to get marriage therapy and individual therapy sooner. I’d accept help — any kind — and I’d exercise more.

Thank you, Elizabeth!

5 Questions for a Sister Contributor


I’m delighted to announce that one of my essays has been published in Sisters Born, Sisters Found, an anthology celebrating sisterhood, edited by Laura McHale Holland. It’s a lovely book about the love of sisters, biological or not. I recently had the honor of interviewing one of my fellow contributors, Catharine Bramkamp, a writing coach, professor, and author of many works of fiction, non-fiction, articles, essays, and poetry. For more info about her, please click here.


1. How would you describe the vision for your writing, present and future?

One of the reasons I chose to write Future Girls and focus the story as a YA – and Science Fiction is to influence my readers. I think YA readers think more, and understand more about both their own reality and better – the future, and sometimes the best way to convince a reader that the world needs to change is to offer the worst case scenario.  What I want to demonstrate is you can change the future;   It doesn’t take much, a word here, an invention there – and we can create a future that is  best for us, for both women and men. The theme of the book is that if society isn’t good for girls – it’s not good for anyone.    Oh, and my own future is tied up with Future Girls books:  the second Future Girls – Future Gold, will be out this next fall and I’m writing Future Run.  So the future is all about the future!


2. It sounds like being a Realtor/Broker inspired the Real Estate Diva Mystery Series. What inspired Future Girls?

Future Girls was inspired by a visit to Saudi Arabia. There wasn’t much to explore in the small town we were allowed to visit, so we ended up at a shopping mall. In the mall stood women’s stores, side by side.   The first store featured long burqas, coats, full head scarves available in every color ranging from black to navy.  The second store looked like Fredrick’s of Hollywood on steroids.  Brightly colored bras and negligees vied for attention in the store window, dresses fit for prom or Quinceanera in brilliant orange, purple and pink sequins, frills and tule spilled out of the shop doors and danced along the store front.  The male guide explained that their women liked to look beautiful for their men in the privacy of their home.

Which was bullshit.

Women don’t dress for men. Women dress for other women. And that was my trigger. If Saudi women were dressing up and showing off to their women friends in the privacy of their homes, and indeed, far away from the men in the family, what else are they doing in the privacy of their home? If the men of your society have marginalized you so completely that you are only able to communicate with other women, ever, what would you communicate?  What would you plot?  Once the women tired of dressing up, what was next?  In my mind, it was science, time travel, changing their situation in a way that circumvented the men in their lives.  The essential idea is:  if you can’t join the club, change all the rules for membership.


3. How do you create balance and engagement in your blog posts with having both fiction and non-fiction readers and clients?

Often the skills that we need to use for fiction, good story telling, also applies to non-fiction writing.  So my advice, and many of the subjects of my blogs, is to encourage my clients both working on fiction or nonfiction, to tell the story.  Tell the story about your business, or your clients (names changed) tell the story of your fictional characters.  It’s all about the story, and so the skills we need for fiction and non-fiction are often the same.


4. I love your poem in Sisters Born, Sisters Found. Did you ever “formulate the perfect transparent exit strategy”? What else can you tell us about your sisterly relationship?

I grew up with just one brother, so I have been delighted with my found sisters!

I wrote the poem after my Sorority (Chi Omega) big sister visited me in California, The poem summed up many years of friendship and sisterhood found.  We have been sisters now for longer than we’ve been wives or mothers.    I treasure this idea and I treasure her!  I sent her a copy of Sisters Born/Sisters Found and she loved it, and was very moved by the poem, it was a tribute to her and how important our found sisters really are.

Our exit strategy is all about eliminate the damn holiday fuss.  It’s been hard slog, I got out of decorating a live tree this year, but she didn’t!


5. In what way might you find yourself in the “Different Lane”?

I love what you do here on this blog, telling the story of how people find themselves, sometimes quite abruptly, in a different lane.

My lane change has been all about shifting out of the middle lane of self-improvement. I’ve been clutching the steering wheel, freaked out that the fast lane to the right is passing me by but the slow lane is not acceptable and so I’ve been traveling here in the middle, not relaxed, and not appreciating my life.  So I’m switching lanes and going on a self-improvement diet.

It’s so easy to default to fixing ourselves, taking another class, joining another Master Mind group, attending another self-improvement retreat.  And I thought, I’m switching lanes, I want to move forward without all the drag of self-help, without – dare I say it? – Making myself all that much better.  So I’m moving out of the know-yourself-better-take- this-test lane and into either the fast lane so I can reach my goals faster or maybe even the slow lane so I can enjoy the scenery. I’d let you know how it goes, but if I succeed, I will not have changed a bit!