My Son is 16 Today!

Happy Birthday Davide! Tonight after reading three cards written by your mother, you asked me where were my words.

That was a great question.

I do not tell you very often that you are great or that you do great things. You are and you do.

I often ask more from you so I am sure it seems that I am never satisfied with who you are and what you do. I understand your point of view. How can you know if I do not say the right words and the words I do say criticize rather than praise.

Let me start tonight and I will work hard to let you know these things as often as I feel them.

You are fun and funny. Smart. Good hearted. Independent — on some things. You can be sweet and caring. Helpful — when you choose to be. You have lots of good friends who are good people. Now that is something to be especially proud of.

You work hard. You like to play. Just because I want to you to work harder does not mean that I don’t realize that you work even if it sounds that way when the words come out.

I wish for you to be happy and to become even more of a mensch– a person who does good. I also wish for you to do well, to find and chase your passion and to –when the time is right–to find your soulmate. I want you to take some chances, put yourself out there. I will be here to help if things don’t go as you wanted. That can happen sometimes when you take chances. Better to try and fail sometimes than not to try.

I hope that you will trust me and learn to share with me.  It is hard to do these things sometimes especially when you want your independence. If we trust each other freedom will come more quickly.

You were easy to love when we first met. I was probably easier to love then too. It seems as if it were just a short time ago and yet now you are closer to being a man than a child.

I am proud of you. I am happy to be your dad. I love you very much. Happy birthday my son.

A Tough But Satisfying Week

Two long days in the office with a million things to do followed by four cities in two days with two planes very delayed and only one modestly early. That was the tough part.

On the satisfying side I met two new clients for the first time. The meetings went well and the people were interesting and fun. Got to Rhode Island for the first time. Providence seems like a cool, quaint New England town. Great crab cakes for lunch.

I would do this week again.

Thinking Changes Your Brain as Well as Your Mind

I just assumed use it or lose it applied to the mind as well as the body. It just made sense. I was unaware and unconcerned with the science behind this. There must be some new neuroscience studies out recently because in a couple of nonscientific periodicals I have read really cool stuff about the link between the brain and the mind.

Apparently the Dalai Lama was far ahead of western docs and scientists. The Men of science believed that the physical aspects of the brain (composition, chemicals, electrical patterns, etc.) make us who we are and that if the brain was affected or damaged in some way that it would affect the mind. The mind however could not change the brain.

The DL suspected that the power of the mind could also change the brain. This was supported by studies of monks who were masters of meditation. Their brains in some ways function differently. The mental training in meditation makes it easier for the brain to turn on circuits that underlie compassion and empathy. They had a stronger connection from the frontal regions of the brain to the emotion regions, which is the pathway by which higher thought can control emotions.

Why do I find this so cool?  I love when no-it-alls learn from people with another perspective. I like the idea that we can exercise the mind for own greater good. I enjoy when West and East come together instead of getting farther apart.

Something to think about.

I Have Always Depended on the Kindness of Strangers

Well, not in a Blanche DuBois kind of way. Most times strangers at best ignore you or get angry over the most modest of perceived slights. So I was surprised and pleased to the point of tears when yesterday a stranger went out of her way to be nice.

I have an autistic sister. She lives in a group home not to far away. While my Mom still does the heavy lifting for Sandy, my siblings and I take turns entertaining her on a Sunday afternoon. Sandy has limited speech, some behavioral quirks and will never be able to live on her own. Some days she is in more control of herself than others. Yesterday was a little less than more.

We walked around a mall for an hour waiting for Charlotte’s Web to begin. While at no time did she fall to the ground screaming–been there, done that– I could tell that she was more excitable than her best days. Tactical error by older brother. Bought too much popcorn and soda. Sandy needs to finish things. More on that later.

The crowd was young kids and parents. Sandy was talky from the get go. It didn’t manner much during the previews but it continued once the movie began. Not overly loud but constant chatter. Nothing I did would quiet her. With an autistic sister you can handle things two ways. You can be be embarrassed or be her advocate. Yesterday I was a little of both. I tried to get her to stop because I certainly did not want others disturbed but I also realized that there was a baby crying occasionally and other kids talking. I wanted to keep her from overeating but realistically buying a large popcorn did not put my sister in an environment where she could succeed. As I said, Sandy needs to finish things. When I took the popcorn away she would get louder.

Half way through the movie a teenage usher came by and asked us to leave. My sister would have no part of that. I tried to get her to go but knew that screaming would soon occur. So I sat there, nervous and embarrassed, waiting for the usher to come back.

Then the calvary arrived. A woman in the row behind us went over to speak to the usher. She came back and leaned over to say something to me. I was certain that she was going to demand that we leave. To my amazement, she had told the usher to take a hike, that there were other kids standing, talking and making noise. That this is how young kids watch movies and that we should stay.

Sandy was quiet the rest of the movie. Once the popcorn was finished she stopped obsessing over it. I also believe she now understood that she needed to behave better. At the end of the movie my sister was laughing and joyous in a way that only the young at heart can be.

I thanked the woman. I had had a brutal work week and this bit of kindness saved my sanity. We continued to talk and it was a moment before I realized I was being rebuked for not standing up for my sister. Often rebukes by strangers would make me mad but she was absolutely right and she had helped. Then the woman sitting on the other side of Sandy went out of her way to tell me that she was not bothered by my sister’s behaviors. People can be quite understanding sometimes.

There is a lesson or two somewhere in this story.  I think I will ask Sandy to enlighten me.