Kindness in Abundance

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When I read this week’s writing prompt for Finish the Sentence Friday, I panicked a little.  “One of the best things anyone ever did for me was…”  Well that is tough to call, because I have too many acts of kindness to choose from.   Some examples from my notes –

  • My mother for letting me read whatever I wanted.
  • My husband for saying yes, when I asked him if I could take his four young children on a thirty day road trip, while he stayed home and worked.
  • The Manager at CPK who helped me out with Barrett this past February (although that blog topic has been beaten to death).
  • Anyone of the therapists who has worked with my son over the years.
  • My brother and sister in-law for babysitting our kids whenever we desperately needed help.
  • Melissa at Chick Lit Central who took a chance on me.
  • My besties Michele, Marice & Barb for an endless number of things over the decades.
  • The two different relatives, who on two separate and unrelated occasions, surprised me with checks in the mail.

You see where I’m going here?  I’ve been so lucky that it was hard to choose one.  I finally decided that I’d write about my friend Barbara’s father, Gerry Nadeau.  Mr. Nadeau was the fairy godfather who literally changed the course of my life, with one phone call!  I owe the life I have today to his generosity and kindness (and patience!).  Then May Madness descended upon me and time ran out.  I love participating in FTSF and didn’t want to miss out!  So I’m posting an old blog that I’m confident hasn’t been read by anyone other than a very small handful of friends.  It was one of my first – long, long, long before I had a clue about how to blog.   Still, I will one day tell the story of the phone call…

I’m happy and proud to announce that I now write a monthly column, featuring book reviews, for a local magazine, My Forsyth.  The first time I saw my column in print I was over the top excited, and I owe it all to my friend Lise.

I’m Published – Yay, Yay, Yay, Yay!

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Okay – so it’s only a small, free, local publication, but sill, its printed paper for public consumption and its glossy! I’m kind of feeling like the North Georgia Carrie Bradshaw. Didn’t she write a column for a local magazine? Or was it newspaper? Anyway, when I found out the magazine had supposedly hit the stands, I drove around to four different places till I found it and then swiped ten copies so I could mail them to family and friends, who live far away. I was so excited, I couldn’t stop smiling and pumping my fists in the air. If (when, positive thoughts to the universe) I ever get THE CALL, Lord help those around me – I will be out of control!

I first put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) more than ten years ago. That was when I decided that I was never going back to a corporate office and I was going to stay home with my babes and be the next Nora Roberts. I was going to be a writer, just like that. Yes, ten years ago! It took ten years to finally hit the publishing lotto in the form of a 350 word column in a magazine with a 20,000 print run. Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Beggars can’t be choosers.

A lot’s happened in those ten years. Two more kids, autism, six moves, two states, the death of loved ones, aging, thousands of miles traveled and many milestones reached, but I never stopped hoping. I did however, sometimes stop writing. So I really can’t say I’ve been working at it for a decade.

In the early days, I was blindly dedicated. In the spring of 2003 I signed up for a Georgia Romance Writers workshop to have my work reviewed by a published author (Stephanie Bond writer of romantic comedies and mysteries). I was sooooo excited, because I was certain that I’d be discovered on March 15th, 2003, which was the date of the workshop. Fate however, had different plans for my Ides of March. My family’s autism diagnose blew my life apart on March 14th, 2003. Looking back, I don’t know why or how I showed up at the event, but I did. I numbly sat and listened to Stephanie tell me what I did right and what I needed to work on. I cannot even imagine what she thought as my eyes glazed over, with an utterly blank look, nodding absently. But the writer in me can still quote this sentence from the thirty-five pages of manuscript I submitted that she loved: “Janet at one time had been a debutante in Brahmin society, but at forty-five she was starting over with her eighteen year old daughter, a truck load of memories – not all of them good – and the run-down Mustang of her eldest, estranged daughter.” In retrospect, the part about memories and starting over is kind of prophetic.

I gallantly tried to stick with it, even finishing my manuscript while my world fell apart. Gradually though, my broken heart could not sustain my dream and I just stopped. I didn’t write. I couldn’t. Yet I never told anyone that I wasn’t writing, which I guess means that deep down inside, I knew one day I’d do it again.

Eventually I did, but then I’d stop, only to start again. I would read how writers expressed that they had to write – they had to, it was who they were. I couldn’t, so I worried maybe I wasn’t a writer. It wasn’t writer’s block, because I certainly had tons of ideas, but I just daydreamed about them and never did anything. Then last summer, as I was blogging on our road trip, I felt good writing. I was excited to sit down at the computer each night. All that time on the road got the wheels in my head turning. I realized that the kids are growing up and asked myself the question that all moms eventually ask, “What about me?” I also love to read and so many stories inspire me. I’d often visit author sites (I call myself the author stalker) and book blogs.  I could never get enough. I started writing reviews on Goodreads and I loved it. Then I saw a contest on Chick Lit Central: The Blog, for a new book reviewer and I went for it.

Through this all, I discovered once again, that I truly love to write. Why? Damn if I know. I love to communicate, but often the art of conversation trips me up. I’ll be listening and forget the point I wanted to make. Or I will have too much to say and I will rudely interrupt the person I’m talking to, as if what I have to say is more important (I’m bad at this, but I am conscious of it and I’m honestly trying to correct the behavior). I also have running soliloquies in my head – all the time, and to spare those around me from hearing them, I sometimes write them for my enjoyment only. That’s why I love blogging – I want to get it out, but it’s up to you whether or not you read it, where as if I drone on in conversation, the listener will likely have difficulty walking away. And let’s face it, I’d never let them forget it!

I love to write about my family so that one day my children will have a record that, yes, I did adore them (particularly important for the fast approaching teenage years). I also lost a parent early in life and missed out on so many opportunities to know my mom. God forbid that if I leave this world early, I want my kids to know me.

Also, since I was little, I’ve had an extremely vivid imagination and I dream a lot of shit up. Sometimes I write that down.

Finally, I want to help people. It’s incredibly narcissistic of me to think that I have the ability to do this, but I’ve often been told by people in the autism community that they admire the way I handle things. Believe me, this has been an evolution. If I can do it, I honestly believe anyone can do it. That’s why I want to share my story about autism.

Oh yeah – that book review contest? I lost. But the site’s founder, Melissa, was kind enough to invite me to submit guest reviews. I did and did and did. Poor Melissa. Then one day she asked me to write a review. I was very excited. Ironically, it was an autism memoir.  Not like an apple falling on my head or anything?  Time to get back to my book.

So here I am. Since then I’ve written and submitted more book reviews and then one day my friend Lise called with a proposal.  She’d recently been hired at the Marketing Director at a local publication – the magazine, My Forsyth.  She told me that she’s bragged about my book reviews to her editor, who wanted to meet with me to discuss contributing to the magazine.  We had lunch, and I was hired on the spot.  You gotta love nepotism. Who knows? Maybe there will be other magazines and maybe there will be other blogs, but in the meantime I’m going to start with my own blog. Most importantly, I’m writing all kinds of stuff, all of the time, and I’m a happy girl!

A year and a half later, I’m still feeling lucky.   I’ve been able to add a number of bylines to my writing resume, but the true blessing is the friends I’ve met on this blogging journey.  I now feel like I belong to another sisterhood – one of writers, mothers, readers, deep thinkers, special needs activists and pop culture enthusiasts.  I am inspired everyday by what I learn from this community.

Thank you Lise!

 

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. The sentence is “One of the best things somebody ever did for me was… ”  by Sarah at Left Brain Buddha. Please go show her some extra love.

Hosts:
Janine: Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
Kate: Can I get another bottle of whine?
Stephanie: Mommy, for Real
Kristi: 
Finding Ninee

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What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?

24 thoughts on “Kindness in Abundance”

  1. I realized recently after watching a few reruns of Sex in the City, that I was indeed similar to Carrie Bradshaw being a writer and doing my own thing at home, so yes you can totally compare yourself to her. I think it was a newspaper, but either way it was in print and so are you :)

  2. Allie, I love this! You are an inspiration, as an autism mom, and as a writer. I’m so glad you put yourself out there, here, and that we’ve found one another in this awesome world of writing and blogging. I really want to hear about the 30-day road trip and the phone call that changed everything! Also, relatives mail you money? That’s awesome.

    1. Thank you Kristi! Your kindness and support means the world to me – and you inspire me! I can’t believe I’m going to miss you at Blog U. I was this close to attending, but couldn’t make it work with the road trip. Look for a post next week (with a cool give-away) about the road trip and where we’re going.

  3. Oh we all need a Lise in our lives. Thank you for reminding me about my own personal Lise. She is my brother. He sent an article I wrote for another blog to the online paper he writes for. They liked it and said they would welcome my contributions. Wow. I had no idea that would take me to writing my own blog which would lead me to meeting such wonderful writers and people such as yourself. So thanks Mike. Here’s to all the wonderful Lises out there! And yes – to the check senders. God bless ’em.

    1. Thanks Kelly. Your brother sounds cool, so happy for you. Yes, God bless the check senders. One came while I was in graduate school and barely getting by. The other one arrived after I got engaged, to help with wedding expenses (and believe me, it was a relative I wasnot close to, so from way out of left field!).

  4. Hi: now I know why I enjoy reading your material — you’ve been practicing your writing for a very long time! I certainly understand how the autism diagnosis can change your world in a heartbeat. It certainly did so for our family. I’m glad that you cam back to writing, and look forward to lots more terrific posts from you!

  5. I loved reading about your writing journey so far and congratulations of becoming a columnist! From what I have read on your blog so far, I can tell that not only are you a very talented writer but that you have had a huge amount of varied life experiences which enrich your content. I’m very intrigue to know about the phone conversation!

    1. Thanks Lizzy. Yes, sometimes I feel like I’ve lived 7 lives. As for the phone call, I feel bad for teasing everyone. I promise to put a post up about it the next couple weeks.

  6. How absolutely wonderful that you have this outlet, and that you’ve received such support and reinforcement in it! As another mother of a child with special needs, I know how important it is to hold on to something that is meaningful and defining outside of your extremely demanding and time-consuming job as mother of a special needs child. Yay for you!

    1. Thank you Sarah. I don’t think I could have put it better myself – about finding “something that is meaningful and defining,” outside of my role as a mom. Love that.

  7. Congratulations! It’s so exciting to see a fellow blogger expand their writings to a physical nature. The fact that you can recall so many beautiful moments and acts of kindness in your life really shows how beautiful you are!

  8. Congratulations, you are such an inspiration to people who have gone through the same experience and through you, they will never loose hope, just move forward, keeping the faith, being humble and grateful, then everything else follows. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  9. Great post. The lesson to learn is never to give up on what you believe you can do for yourself and others even at challenging time. Thanks for sharing. You are such an inspiration.

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