The Dead Sea of my Childhood

So this past weekend I had the opportunity to spend a Saturday volunteering at a local Make A Wish Event.  I am a Make A Wish Ambassador for the Utah Chapter and this is my 3rd year, I enjoy this work immensely.  This event happened to be an ATV Ride held out in the west desert of Utah in Grantsville, which is about an hour or so west of Salt Lake and a little bit west of the city of Tooele (pronounced too-ill-ah).

So driving out to Tooele you get to pass by the south end of the famous Great Salt Lake.  I would like to tell you that it is a wonder to behold, I sure would.  But frankly, and this is my humble opinion, as a person who has lived in Salt Lake all my life, and been to the Great Salt Lake several times, a wonder it is not.  Now, given, in its ‘hey day’ it may have been something.  But those days are gone, my friend.

As I passed the Great Salt Lake, of which I had to really squint to see any actual lake at all, what I saw was barren land with literally no growth anywhere and patches of dirty, standing water which looked entirely void of any life.  Yet, I knew if anything, the West Nile Virus and those mosquitoes that carry it were surely living the high life out there.  In the far distance I could make out a body of water as I drove farther west and, one lone sailboat way off on the horizon.  But that may have been my imagination, I’m not sure.

But then, there it was, the majestic Salt Air palace, restored as a beautiful homage to its former glory and the glory of the Great Salt Lake of the past.  Apparently an Events Center, Museum and Visitors Center for folks to learn and relive the wonder of this anomaly located in the Utah desert.  And from what I understand well worth the trip if you like that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, my childhood memories of horrible elementary school field trips came rushing back and I chose not to stop.   I had a vision of myself parking and then taking a big breath and holding my nose as I ran to the building.  You see, if my memory serves correctly, the lake stinks.  I mean for real, to high heaven stinks.  No matter what time of year, hot or cold, it stinks.  In fact, sometimes we get this terrible snow in the winter called ‘lake effect snow’ and OMG, it’s so bad I get the dry heaves.  I have worked out that way and heaven help me, it’s just awful.

I mean it’s full of salt people!  And it has no outlet…like to the sea.  It is completely landlocked.  It is so salty nothing but brine shrimp and weird fish can live in it.  And the flies, in the summer, oh Lord, the flies and the bugs.  Horrible.  Now, my disclaimer is that I literally have not been to the shores of the Great Salt Lake since I was in Mrs. Mayben’s 4th grade class in 1976.  It was the Bi-Centennial year.  We took a field trip that year to the Great Salt Lake, and about ever year before that.

It was the same song and dance every year; you wore your (one piece) swim suit under your clothes and brought a towel and a sack lunch from home.  We would ride the bus for like an hour out to the stinky, smelly, bug infested lake and eat our lunch on the rocky shores while trying to avoid a brine shrimp crawling up your OP shorts.  Once my sister stepped on a dead fish lying on the shore, it was hilariously gross and provided us laughs for years.

There were a always a few brave souls that took to the water and rode home on the bus awash in a sticky white film.  Even I tried it the first time, the salt made me itch so bad I felt like I would turn inside out all the way back. We were all a little sunburned, on that bus ride back and more than a little ravaged by the mosquitoes and biting flies, but also glad to be somewhere othere than school all together.  But those were fleeting moments, trust me.  Because, as I said before, quite frankly, it stunk, and it was buggy and sticky and hot.

Several years ago, I hired a great guy from Denver who moved his family to Salt Lake in the spring.  After he had been here a few weeks,  a bunch of our team, including him, were sitting at a local restaurant having lunch and talking about weekend plans.  Gregg (his name was Gregg) said something like, “so hey, do you all go out to the beach on the weekends?”   We just looked at him dumbfounded.  “What beach?” I asked.  “You know, the Great Salt Lake!” He replied. The faces around the table pulled back in what could only be described as a grimace, and, almost involuntarily, I blurted out “Oh Gregg, hell no!”  This was followed by the entire table reciting similar memories to those I have shared above.

The fact of the matter is there are countless beautiful, gorgeous lakes, reservoirs, canyons and National Parks in Utah and hundreds of excellent things to do and see.  In your own opinion the Great Salt Lake may be one of them, come take a look for yourself!  As for me, I am scarred from the memories of my youth, but I am a native Utahn and I call ’em as I see ’em.

Happy Trails!

Saltair

Great Salt Lake 2017

Advertisements

Which one is the evil twin? …Really?

Sharing the following article:  Real-Life Stories Of Twins Creepier Than Any Horror Movie

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fashionbeans.com%2Fcontent%2Freal-life-stories-of-twins-creepier-than-any-horror-movie%3Frtg%3Dwordables-TVic1A%26param4%3Dfsb-fni-fbss-2106-demo&h=ATOe_4cooeGMmzXEKf8p4IPBtBxX_TszKCD2z-ztCi4hOHL_PicCg79N_y-ukzpYOEMYJjBeomZ-c7zj3Wms87-YXYoVD34JJ-CiA3syNwzUTxv43KHTAfdY33DDuPJ3DkoO8tF3EC9M0ahkAZ8

OK, as a twin, who is not bothered by too much on social media, I am sharing this because it bothers me. The article is fine, but I am tired and a little, not a lot, but just a little offended by the use of the words CREEPY and HORROR when referring to twins and their sometimes amazing and beautiful, and possibly unusual connections. My sister and I experience many unexplained connections that include showing up in the same dress or blouse, buying the same card for one another or for family members on birthdays or mothers day etc., or choosing the same Christmas wrapping paper, all independant of one another.

We have even texted each other the same thoughts at the same moment. We have sensed each other’s pain or sorrow and made a timely phone call or visit and once, when my sister was in a terrible boating accident while skiing at a local resevoir and her leg was caught in a boat prop out on the water, I experienced severe cramping in my own leg and a panic attack while sitting back on the dock.

I have never once felt like these experiences were scary or creepy or the stuff of horror movies. I have always felt that it was a natural occurrence due the the sharing of nearly identical DNA and sharing the same womb and resources during our literal development from egg(s) to human beings.

As far as the somewhat strange stories relayed in this article and others I have heard, such as the Sisters not speaking and twins who develop their own language etc. Much of that I believe is a voluntary choice made by those individuals to enhance the very uniqueness felt by being twins. To build on the social stigma of twins being so special and weird, for lack of a better term. I mean, who in their right mind names a twin Damian?? (Or any kid for that matter…sheesh.) A TWIN named DAMIAN. Gee, I wonder which one is the evil one and which one is the good one? And yes, people ask us that all the time!
…my answer?  It depends on what you define as evil…bwahahahaha!

Ask me if I like being a twin, again. My answer, sure! I don’t know anything else. I love having my sister Chris so close to me literally and figuratively. I also love having my kid sister Lezlie close as well. We may not pick the same blouse, but I know which blouse she would pick…and that she would never use the word blouse when choosing a shirt. LOL!

Plus I also have a beleaguered brother, whom I love fiercely, and qho grew up fighting the girls. Bless his heart.

Anyhoo, just food for thought. Twins are not creepy or freaky.  They are cool and amazing.

And everyone is a little weird in their own right. Hooray for that!

Be Brave, Be Strong, Be Kind! Dee

Below, Me on the left and Chris on the right.

17504547_10209126651069085_2403239737804957634_o

Below, Chris on the left and me on the right.

twins 2

Geez Louise!

So I spend my days in a kitchen now, a pretty big and busy kitchen! I work with a very large and diverse staff from countries and cultures all over the world and its fabulous. Well, mostly it is. Many various languages are spoken in our kitchen and English is definately only one of them. Coming from a long line of English speaking family, indigenous to Salt Lake City, Utah, with only my 6 years of Junior High and High school French, I am at a distinguished disadvantage when it comes to clear communication at work.
As Chefs working together, good communication is essential in the kitchen. In fact, now that I think about it, good communication is essential in all aspects of life. But currently, for the sake of my career, I am saving up for the Rosetta Stone. All I have to do is decide which to learn first, Spanish, Bosnian or Vietnamese! Any of them would be a good start.
Today was a little slower day than most Saturdays in my kitchen, but it is amazing how ‘not speaking the same language’ can put a snag in an otherwise smooth service. There were just three of us on my station today. Mama Than is my supervisor, a tiny little bit of a person that carries a big…knife. She is Vietnamese and 71 years old, she speaks, and understands, almost no English. Luisa is from Argentina, she speaks Spanish and Portuguese. Luisa speaks a little more English than Mama, but understands about the same. So my chances of misunderstanding them and vice versa, are huge. Also, at 5’4″ I am probably a foot taller than Mama and a good 4 inches talker than Luisa. I am like the jolly green giant of Garde Manger with them. So as the newest member of the group, I am often feeling like the big, obnoxious, American. Like I said, fabulous.
Anyhoo, here is todays riddle, how many little chefs does it take to find the horseradish? Mama asks Luisa to make creamy horseradish, but Luisa comes back and says she can’t find any raw horseradish. Mama misunderstands and again, tells Luisa that is why she needs to make the horseradish. I am watching and listening to them go back and forth, round and round, and it reminds me of the old ‘whose on first?’ routine. I am understanding the disconnect here. I jump in to try to clarify. Luisa is nodding furiously at Mama as I try to explain her problem. But Mama doesnt understand me either. So she throws up her hands and walks off saying something in Vietnamese, with Luisa trailing behind her, speaking in a very fast Spanish. I go back to what I was doing. Then Luisa reappears, calling my name. After a minute I get that she wants me to come help her out with Mama and the horseradish. I walk back to the cooler with her to find Mama climbing the shelves looking for horseradish. Suddenly they are both talking to me loudly, in their respective languages. I say, in my best American, “geez Louise! Its like the United Nations back here. How many chefs does it take to find the horseradish!” With that, they are both quiet, looking at me. And then, Luisa says in her cute little Argentinian voice, “Dee, what geezy leweezy?” I begin to laugh. Soon we are all laughing. I find the horseradish and we all go back to work.  Crisis averted.
It seems that laughter is the language we all understand. Thank goodness and…Bon Appétit! (…there’s that French!)

Merry Christmas 2016!

beltz-2016

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from our house to yours!  Another year has gone by in the blink of an eye it seems…until you start looking back on it, and then sometimes you realize just how much ground you really covered and how far in your journey you have really traveled.

2016 was a lot like that for me, and for our family.  Big changes, challenges, accomplishments and many obstacles put behind us that has led to a lot of learning and growth…and laughter!  Here is a quick update on what is up at our house!

As a family, we had to really pull together as I began Culinary School, full time, in January, 2016 and working nights at the Marriott in their Bistro & Bar.  Zachary, 23, has been ‘adulting’ a good amount of the time, thank goodness, probably more than he cares to.  He is working full time for The Cacao Company right now and is learning all about the chocolate truffle making/distribution industry.  So far, the only down side is the necessity of wearing a “beard net”.  LOL. #notquiteDuckDynastybutclose. One of the up sides to working in confections is bag after bag of the “rejects” he brings home to share with us!  (Just FYI, a reject truffle tastes the same as a perfect truffle.)  Zach loves his truck, going to movies and our puppy Bayja. He takes care of his own business and even better care of his sister.  I think he would be a great catch!  (He is going to kill me for writing that…)

Holland turned 17 in April and is a Senior at Hillcrest High School this year, she will turn 18 in April, 2017 and graduate this coming June.  Yep, you read that right.  Nope, I can’t believe it either.  She still only eats about 5 things for crying out loud!  “Sunrise, Sunset, swiftly flow the years…”  (I was singing and crying there.)  She is also a very busy bee!  Holland is on the Link Crew and in Art and the Husky Club at school.  She is also in an advanced early Childhood Development course where she assists in teaching at Hillcrest’s pre-school.  Holland loves teaching and adores the children and hopes to continue her studies in Early Childhood education after High School…or Web Animation, or Culinary School, or all three, not necessarily in that order.  She is more mature than me.

Keith continues to work for Aspen Press and has been my partner in crime this year, holding down the fort as I attended school and worked 30 to 40 hours a week.  I put in 16 hour days about 3 times during the week with my commute and Keith has been a super Mr. Mom at home, again, probably more than he cares to.  We were able to take a vacation to Palm Springs for 10 days this summer with the Beltz family.  It was the first time in our 28 years together we have traveled with Keith’s family and we had a ball!  I had the chance to practice my “Private Chef” skills and planned the menu, shopped and cooked a brunch and dinner each day in our condo for 7 days of our vacation for our party of 10!  Keith had the chance to relax and have some fun with his brother, our nieces, our kids and his Mom.  He only had one scary moment when he nearly let his Mother drown in the massive pool when she ventured past the 3-foot line, (where did Nana go?), but other than that it was a roaring success!

Finally, my 50th year has been one of massive obstacles, even bigger successes and even more hard work.  As I said, I started Culinary School in January attending Monday through Friday 8AM to 2PM.  I worked nights at the Marriott Courtyard Bistro & Bar from December 2015 thru October 2016.  Although I enjoyed my work and my Team at the Marriott, as I got closer to graduating with my degree as a Culinary Professional, I was unable to secure a full-time position.  I was offered a full-time position as a Chef in Garde Manger (means literally “eat the garden” in French.  I am in Cold Foods, salads, dressings, deli, appetizers etc.) at the Little America Hotel & Resort in SLC in October so I took it and I love it!  I finish school in mid-January and will work days from 7am to 3pm, 5 days a week.  I can’t believe I am on my way!  Yet, I can, because you all know, I do nothing the easy way.  It is in my nature to have several bumps in the road, so to speak, along my way.  True to form, I started my year out with a bang and after only 6 days of school, I slipped on the ice in my drive way early in the morning and did a face plant into the cement, nose first. Fabulous.  I broke my brow bone, shattered my nose and put my teeth through my top lip and bled like a stuck pig, I kid you not.  As I laid face down in the ice, feeling the rivers of blood running down the front of my shirt. I thought “well $#@!, I am still the same old me” and I spit out the blood, rolled onto my back and felt those rivers of blood run through my hair.  #CSImydriveway. Finally, I croaked out “help” and one month plus two surgeries later, I was back to school and had hit my annual deductible.  Geez Louise.  I think it was the blood-letting, I don’t know, but I felt all the pain from the last 2 years evaporate. Happily, I pushed forward.  I have lived and learned…did you know you can fail a roadside sobriety test even if you blow 0%?  and grown substantially over this year.  I have worked my butt off, literally and figuratively.  I have built a new career as a Chef, catered my first wedding, learned to tend bar, to barista, to butcher chickens, a pig, a side of beef and filet an Atlantic Salmon and then learned to cook them all several ways from Sunday.  I can make and bake rolls, cake, cookies and pies from scratch, for 4 or for 400.  I can make 60 gallons of Ranch dressing or Hollandaise for six.  I can slice potatoes, top strawberries or flip crepes for 5 hours straight with a smile on my face.  I have done a zillion dishes and mopped a million floors, and my first year in the Culinary Arts was 200% less stressful than my last year in Executive Banking.  Thank you, Lord.

May your days be Merry & Bright!  With all our love, The Beltz Family

-Keith, DeeAnn, Zachary & Holland

Becoming Bing Bong

Inside Out

About a year ago my family and I went to see an animated movie called “Inside Out”.  Now usually I am not a big fan of the animated stuff on the big screen, especially if you have to see it in iMax and wear the paper 3D glasses to watch it.  Yeah, see that is the road to vomitville for me anymore so I tend to shy away.  Last time we were at Universal Studios Hollywood I didn’t want to be the old lady Mom, so I rode ‘The Simpson’s’ and ‘The Minions’, both iMax and wearing the plastic glasses with my kids.  I am telling you, if I end up in hell, it will be with Homer Simpson spinning in 3D with the Minions choir singing the banana song while I am stuck in those glasses, nauseous and trying not to hurl.  But, as usual, I digress.  As for animated movies,  like most folks, if it is by Disney or Pixar and it peaks my interest, we will go see it.  I had heard good things about Inside Out so we saw it,  and I loved it and have seen it many times since.  If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth your time and money.

One afternoon a month or so later, while with my kids enjoying the fall sunshine, everyone’s nose in their phone, I came across a Facebook quiz asking “Which Inside Out Character Are You?” Naturally, I had to make everyone take it including me.  We laughed as my teenage, angst ridden daughter came up as Disgust, and my brooding 22 year old son popped up as Anger, and my bubbly sister as Joy.  Finally I took the test and I came up as…Bing Bong.  Bing Bong is the Imaginary Friend found in the recesses of the main character’s mind.  An obnoxious pink elephant that served as a happy, silly, yet invisible friend at a very young age.  Well of course, wild hilarity ensued.  I admit, even I was laughing right along with everyone else.  Mostly because, well, it was damn funny.  We laughed until my kids were holding their sides and my sister and I were crying and it was the running joke for the rest of the day…hell, it is still a running joke and it is pretty funny.

But later that night, after everyone had gone home and my kids were in bed, I thought about Bing Bong.  Now, I take a lot of those quizzes on Facebook and I know that my Hippie Name is not necessarily Jagged Star, mostly because I am not a hippie, and my Spirit Animal is probably not the Blue Dolphin , logically, since I am not a Native American (my sister’s was the Sea Cow…LOL).   I take them for fun along with the majority, I hope. But this one kind of started to get to me.  It was not quite a year ago, November 2015, about 2 months after I had lost my job for a second time.  I had spent 28 years at this company and was used to seeing many people I considered my friends, at work, every single day, doing business, traveling, socializing etc.  Last year I spent most everyday alone, looking for work, trying to make connections and holding everything together financially and otherwise at home.

My friends from work had long stopped calling or emailing to check in on me, not because they didn’t care, but because they were busy at work and at home themselves.  Maybe I was becoming like Bing Bong, and so were they, like imaginary friends.  I mean, I still existed and they still existed, and surely I could reach back to them anytime I wanted and contact them as they could me.  I did reach out and many friends did respond, and some did not.  I know those people are still there and I shared real experiences that were happy, fun and even silly.  Yet in my alone-ness I wondered,  am I becoming Bing Bong to those people I thought I would have lasting friendships with?  Am I Bing Bong to those friends I think I have close relationships with but don’t see or talk to anymore on a regular basis?  Am I just an imaginary friend that served as a fun, happy and silly co-worker for a time?  Am I just a memory?  Well, the answer to that is yes and no and, more importantly, it is up to me, isn’t it.

So first of all, yes, sometimes I feel like the imaginary, forgotten friend/co-worker and to some, I probably am.  Poor, pitiful me.  And that is enough of that.  And, yes, I was, and still am a happy, fun and silly friend that shares  great memories with many, many wonderful friends that I still hear from and see and many that I don’t.  But the fact remains, we have that memory that we share together and we get to have it for.ever.  God willing, I choose to remember those good times because they are actually ties that bind us together for the ages.  These experiences are not imagined, they are valuable and precious memories not easily forgotten. I have tried, to forget, that is. The hurtful ones. But I can’t. Not the wonderful memories, nor the hurtful ones either.  Not yet anyway. It would hurt less if I could in some cases.  But I think it is our mind’s way of protecting us while we are still vulnerable.  It is that little voice that whispers to you “remember the minions ride”  before you buy a ticket to the next iMax in 3D animation movie.  And you go see Finding Dory on the regular old screen instead, and there is no nausea or vomiting, just enjoying and remembering.

Speaking of Inside Out, my favorite emotion is laughter.  Specifically laughing so hard you cry at the same time. I love it. If you can, think about the last time you laughed so hard you cried at the same time.  What was it over, who were you with, where were you?  Was it something occurring right at that moment?  Or was it the re-telling of a previous experience?  A memory.  Take a beat, remember it as clearly as possible.  I hope you are smiling or even laughing to yourself.  It is a memory now.  A treasure.  Keep it close and at the ready, for when you need it. Even better, collect more, new ones! Reach out, make time.  Experiences like these are fleeting, but the memories stay with you for ever.  Even if you tragically lose them for a time,  God will give them back to you.  I believe that.  I have to believe that.  I know that I can sit with my Dad, who is ailing from fairly severe dementia, and recall a hilarious story from my childhood and have him laughing and crying at the same time.  I doesn’t matter if he really remembers, we just made a new and precious memory and we will take it.

So maybe I am Bing Bong.  That is okay.  Friends are important to Bing Bong and family, friends and relationships are important to me.  The Facebook quiz told me that there aren’t many friends and people like me and Bing Bong in the world anymore.  People that truly want those around them to be happy and well.  Like I said I don’t live or die by what a quiz on Facebook tells me, but this time I think it hit the mark.  So Bing Bong it is.

Now, just for the record, my aura is Blue, the natural wonder I am like is a Cyclone,  the movie character I am most like is Princess Leia, the Toy Story character I am most like is Mrs. Potato Head (don’t get me started),  the car that best suits me is a Land Rover and the word that best describes me is:

STRONG…I kid you not.   ps. Strong is my maiden name.

Bing Bong

How I Was the Brady Bunch Lamp

Yes, I will seriously date myself with this post, but here I go anyway.  In the last few months I have been concerned primarily with completely re-starting my personal career.  The need to do this was predicated by the traumatic loss of my previous career of 27 years with Wells Fargo Bank in 2015.

The loss of my job and my livelihood was unexpected and complicated and unfair.  I spent an entire year struggling to keep a career I had built over my entire adult life and that provided the income needed to take care my family.  It has been an
unfortunate roller coaster ride that crippled me and my family financially and emotionally. 
Many friends and loved ones sent their good wishes and words of encouragement to me during the year and they were greatly appreciated.  One of the messages I received repeatedly was “One day you will look back on this experience and laugh because it was all for the best.”    Okay, so currently, I  am about halfway there.  I am laughing at the situation because #1, it feels better than the alternative and B, it makes me feel stronger and braver as I move ahead into new territory.  Make no mistake, the loss of my job and all that came with it in 2015, broke me into irreparable pieces emotionally.  Pieces too small to put back together in the end, so I had to build something new to be able to walk away.  But also, in the end, I have always been able to find the humor in most everything that happens to me.  I refuse to let that part of me be lost too.

So yes, I am old enough to say I watched The Brady Bunch on TV when they were not reruns.  If you don’t know anything about the Brady Bunch, I am sorry for you and you will have to Google it.  For everyone else, remember the one where the boys were told, “Don’t play ball in the house” and they did anyway?   And then what happened? Yep, they broke the lamp in the living room.  That is me!  I am the broken lamp!  See, if they had done the right thing in the first place, the way they had been trained to do, it never would have happened.  But instead they did exactly what they wanted to and CRASH!  Broken lamp, broken me! 
I was as broken as that damn lamp when I lost my job.  I did not see it coming and was stunned when it did because everyone knows that Mom always says, “Don’t play ball in the house!”  Because I knew the rules and I followed them.  But then, do you remember what those boys did after they broke the lamp?  Did they come clean and tell the truth?  NO!  They tried to glue the freaking lamp back together so no one would know and put it right back where it was and acted like nothing happened. 
Like I said before, that is exactly what happened to me!  There I was broken to pieces, and suddenly I had to put myself back together and go right back to where I was at Wells Fargo and act like nothing had happened.  But no one came clean, and no one told the truth…except me.  And just like me the Brady Bunch lamp ended up telling the truth, because in the end, the covered up, and glued together version gave way and fell apart.  Now here is where I was different than the lamp, I held up, I was strong…until I was hit again.  More ball in the house!  And this time, I was smashed into pieces that could not be put together again.
But I fell apart where no one could see.  So at Wells Fargo, they are still playing ball, in the house no less.  It took several weeks to realize that I was the Brady Bunch lamp.  But where those boys had to come clean and tell the truth, Wells Fargo and those that played a part, still refuse to do so. But Karma is a constant watch man and as I have been told many times, “the truth will always out and you will reap as you sow.”  Take it from the Brady Bunch Lamp.

That said, I had to rebuild and create a new life for myself and my kids. Because just like that stupid lamp, they look to me to light the way.  As their mother, I want to be an example of strength, integrity and resiliency for them.  I want them to know that we can weather any storm, especially when we take the high road.  It starts with changing your mind and letting go of the past to start over again.  So I did.

It is the hardest work I have ever done both physically and emotionally.  I see a therapist for both.  The good news is that I find myself happy and under so much less stress than before.  My health has improved as well.  The bad news is that financially, progress is slow.  When you start over you start at the bottom and work your way up.  Trust me, I have done it before and I pray I can do it again now. 
The fact is I am not 22 or even 32 this time around.  I am 50 next month and believe me, I feel every single minute of my age.  I am putting in 9 to 15 hour days on my feet in the kitchens. Training to become a chef, and actually being a chef are two very different things.  I come home and flop into bed with the jimmy legs and already half asleep.  I wake up  the next morning with nothing short of rigor mortis setting in.  I crack and limp my way around like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz.  But this is the path ahead.  I am committed to see it through.

Life rolls on, you see.  It is full of unexpected joys and sorrows.  Your current situation can change in a moment.  You have be willing, if not ready, to roll with it or you will be left broken on the side of the road. Don’t let anyone put your light out, be brave and take the high road…and please, don’t play ball in the house. 

Posted from WordPress for Android

Happy Holidays 2015!

Joyous Holiday Blessings from the Beltz Family!

Hello!  We hope this finds you and your family healthy and happy! As for us, we cannot wait for this year to be over. You know, some years seem to just fly by.  While others feel more like you are slogging through cold mud, with someone holding on to the back of your shirt the whole time. I know, right?  So yeah, good bye 2015!

Actually, we did lose one of our own tribe when Keith’s Dad, Laverne passed away from heart failure in April of this year. We miss him and love him and GO UTES! It wasn’t pretty for the Red in the end, but a win is a win. We know Papa was there in spirit and letting the expletives fly!

As for us, I lost my job at Wells Fargo in January 2015 after 27 years.  I fought it and was re-instated in April 2015.  Then Keith lost his job at Hudson after over 25 years in June 2015.  He found a new job in August 2015.  Then I lost my job again, (yes the same freaking job!) in September 2015.  Then Zachary decided to quit his job at Hudson in October 2015. At this point we decided to move to Disneyland!  As it turns out, you can only visit there, you can’t live there.  Bummer.  So we stayed a week and came home.

So Zach is 22 and thankfully has found a new job with Tele-Performance in their Customer Support / Gaming Area.  I knew all those video games had to pay off some time!  He has enjoyed having the Holidays off to relax and experiment with his beard growing abilities. It takes him about a week to grow a full beard. That kid had hair down his back and on his back from the day he was born!  Zach has started attending the Singles Ward on Sundays. (Thank you Lord!)  He will become an Elder in January, 2016. Zach is a good egg.  He is a Chicago Bears fan, a Utah Jazz fan and bleeds Ute red like his Papa!

However, Zach and Keith made a foolish mistake while living in Disneyland this year.  They chose to eat the BBQ Chicken skewers at the Bengal BBQ in Adventureland, across from the Jungle Ride. Fair warning to all, the both of them spent the next day with a case of the rumbly tumblies along with violent diarrhea.  They missed our visit to Old Town in San Diego and had to stay close to the porcelain throne in the air conditioned condo.  It was too bad really because it was a beautiful day in Old Town and Holland and I had to spend several lonely hours browsing the fabulous boutiques…all by ourselves, alone…with no one standing outside the shops tapping their toes and waiting to leave. Poor diarrhea stricken, sick kitties.

Speaking of Keith, after losing his Dad in April and leaving his job at Hudson, it took a little bit to get up and move on. But he quickly found a new position at a competitive printer and was able to join Aspen Press in August.  So far, things are good for him and for us. Their summer party was a paid and catered day at Lagoon, a local amusement park, and their Holiday Party was a private showing of the new Star Wars movie with drinks and popcorn provided!  We believe the Force is with us at Aspen Press.

Our Holland turned sweet 16 this year!  One day this summer she announced she was ready to learn to drive…with Mom.  Mom?!  Why Mom? I am the worst driver I know, except for maybe my sister Chris. Never the less, the rite of passage began, as it did with many of us, at the church parking lot.  I have to say, I was as cool as a cucumber and so, very, patient as a coach.  I swelled with pride as she hit about every other curb.  I am a curb hitter myself, as many of you know.  She takes after me.  At one point she asked for a tissue and I looked over to find her drenched in sweat with a droplet about to fall from the end of her nose.  I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, she is more nervous than I am!’  So we took a tissue break and soldiered on.  After more than an hour in the church parking lot practicing her driving skills, we decided to head home. I told Holland she could drive us home, it was just down 7800 S. and around the corner on 1000 East. She was mortified.  I told her she would be fine and she was feeling more comfortable so she agreed, and I am an idiot.

The minute she turned onto the ‘real road’ my mind voice began screaming at me, ‘MISTAKE! MISTAKE!’  There were cars coming at us, cars parked on the CURB…curb hitter!  Left hand turn!  Pedestrians!  Now I needed a tissue, and a Xanax and possibly an adult diaper.  I began sweating profusely and my ‘cool mom’ exterior melted and ran down my back and my front in rivulets.  Of course, we made it home and Dad was standing there, waiting in the driveway.  Holland jumped out of the car and proudly announced, “Well Dad, I know how to drive now!”  I gave him the big thumbs up, walked directly into my bedroom, took that Xanax and ate a Hagen Daz ice cream bar before I got the vapors.

Holland will be a senior at Hillcrest in the fall.  She enjoyed her first Prom this year and is a member of the Husky Club and an excellent artist.  She also went to Girls Camp and had a great experience, especially with her Mom as the (now retired) Camp Director.  Her favorite things are cheese dogs from Hot Dog on a Stick (New! Hooray!), her iPhone and iPad Mini, Scary Movies, (The Visit…hello!?) and her puppy Bayja, the princess diva dog.  Holland is a beautiful light in our home.

And at least our lights our still on…LOL!  Kids, you CAN afford to contribute to your company’s 401K or an IRA. 30 years of contributions saved my family’s behind during this year of unexpected and unpleasant surprises. However, it will not save your sanity.   Fortunately, we have the Light of Christ and our Faith in God to help and guide us. Not to mention the four of us are still, heavily medicated.

For me, the roller coaster of this year of unemployment, re-instatement, unemployment again and finally the loss of my career has been a lot like a ride my sister and I took at Lagoon this year. We affectionately refer to Lagoon as Galoon in our family, so we will go with that.  This year at Galoon, we rode the brand new roller coaster called ‘The Cannibal’.  When I was fired the first time from Wells Fargo, there was a long and painful process of sending resumes and applications and then waiting…and waiting,  for a response. As it was with The Cannibal, we had a long wait in line in the hot sun, fretting about it. And then I was given my job back. Time to get on the Roller Coaster. As I stepped into the Cannibal and rode the elevator stories high into the air, I felt excited and afraid for this new adventure.  Then, the elevator stopped and the doors opened to I could see the valley of the Shadow of Death, or it may have been Davis County.  I believe I caught a glimpse of the waving cowboy in Wendover.  It was exhilarating, for about 3 seconds and then I realized I was about to drop off the end of the track I thought I was on.  I looked wildly at my sister and she looked at me and said, “Mistake, big mistake.” I turned to the 7 year old sitting to my left and said, “I believe this to be big mistake on my part.” And then we sailed off the end of the world and down the Cannibal’s throat.  And I walked right back into Wells Fargo’s Executive offices.  Just like The Cannibal, it was scary at first and I thought I had made a mistake.  In hindsight maybe it was, but I trusted this Company, just like I trusted Galoon.

Going back to my job was kind of like the corporate version of “Lord of the Flies” and I ended up on the sharp end of the stick. Pun fully intended. Once the ride was over and I struggled to stand on jello legs and make my way to the Cannibal’s exit, shaking and crawling along the handrails. Dry heaving and having a hot flash all at the same time. I look up to see, by the grace of God, my sister, with both hands on the trash can sweating profusely and dry heaving just like me. And I am not alone. I realize sometimes you just need to sit one out with a cold drink before moving on to the next thing.  Just do something  benign, like squirting water into the clowns’ mouth until you win the BIG prize or grow a salad garden.  Then you must start over.  Which is what I have done.  I will start Culinary School in January, 2016 and I am working as the evening Catering / Bistro Associate at the Courtyard by Marriott in Layton. Either way it is costly, but will be rewarding in the end. I will not be returning to Wells Fargo or The Cannibal, anytime soon.

So before this gets too sappy, which would fly in the face of the point of this annual Holiday letter, let me share a recent, classic “DeeAnn” experience.   Just after Thanksgiving I had a bout with Bronchial Pneumonia. I thankfully recovered relatively quickly, but during this time I had an incident. I was about to eat a bowl of Coco Puffs one morning and as I took a bite of cereal I had a coughing spasm and actually choked on my Coco Puffs. I was in my room, silently choking and turning purple, Zach and Keith were down stairs. I could not breathe or speak. I finally put my fingers down my throat and was able to vomit. But I began coughing violently and could not get a breath. There was a terrible pain in my right lung. But at least I was loud enough to get them to come running. Again, I could not speak and I was covered in tears, puke and snot all over my face. A pretty girl, is like a melody… The pain in my lung was incredible and I realized I had aspirated the freaking Coco Puffs into my lung. The coughing was hard and unforgiving and to make matters worse Keith was smacking me on the back like I was a two year old choking in their high chair. I managed to croak out ‘911” and then help was on the way.  Keith carried me out to the living room, but all I could think of was that the cast of Backdraft was coming to my house and I was covered in puke and snot and I wasn’t wearing a bra.  I am telling myself ‘DO NOT pee or crap yourself now!’  Anyhoo, they came, they helped and the Coco Puffs dissolved and, like I said at the beginning, we survived.

So Life is good!  But you will also get a lot of unexpected line drives right to the face. So keep your mitt up.  I will be sticking to protein shakes for breakfast and… starting over.  But it is about enjoying the climb even more than reaching your destination.

We wish you a Happy New Year, with fresh starts and new adventures! Have a fabulous holiday with those you love and care about the very most!

With all the love and joy we have to give,  The Beltz Family
Keith, DeeAnn, Zach & Holland & Bayja.

                    2015 Pic

What the Fudge? Staycation Memories…2015

So I am on ‘staycation’ this week.  No work, just sleeping in and hanging out by the pool with my girl Holland and my sista who also took some time off.  We also decided to hit our City Zoo and local Amusement Park during the week since we had the time.

I am sorry to admit that I had not visited our zoo for several years, okay many years.  In the past, and I mean like 10 plus years ago, if memory serves, the zoo was not a pleasant experience.  Very smelly, no shade, and some very sad animals in cages that all looked like they desperately needed a drink, I know I did.  Our zoo was also colorless, many varying shades of tan.

However, my daughter and my sista, who teaches elementary school, make the trip to the zoo pretty much annually.  They were both very excited to shuttle me around the ‘new zoo’ so I could see how beautiful it is now.

So off we went.  We parked and the first thing that met me right at the gates was the smell of manure.  Deja vu.  Yeah, I been to this party before.  Well what did you expect lady?  It’s a zoo for crying out loud.  Everybody poops, get your nose out of the air and carry on already.  Through the gates we went only to find the ‘African Savannah’, a sprawling geography of land within the zoo with plants and water holes indigenous to Africa serving as home to the animals that live there, together.  Giraffes roaming around while zebras drank from the water and gazelles ran by.  It was beautiful.  We saw the Asian Highlands, home to the big cats with their habitats separated only by nearly invisible fencing hidden in the foliage.  Each habitat was preceded by beautiful sculptures of the animals done by local artists and ‘eco-explorers’ ready to answer your questions and give you information about the animals. It was a great day.  There was just one moment where I got the dry heaves entering the reptile house, and had to gird my loins.  I am calling it a win.  Well done Zoo.

On to the Amusement Park.  Our local park is called Lagoon and it opened in 1886, I kid you not.  This year they are selling T-shirts that say Lagoon ’86 on them.  Here is another fun fact.  Why “Lagoon” you ask?  The original creator of the park was named L.A. Goon.  Once again, I kid you not.  I always thought that was creepy, and frankly, Lagoon has always had a little creep factor for me and my sista that we can’t quite put our finger on.  We fondly call it ‘Galoon’ among our own.   It runs along the same vein of being afraid of clowns, like that.

Anyhoo, my son Zach got the day off so the four of us headed out for Galoon.  The tradition is that we ride the Terror Ride first.  The quintessential fun-supposed-to be scary carnie ride with the Wolf-man scene, the Dracula scene, Frankenstein etc.  My son and I rode together and as we all laughed getting off he said to my daughter, “Mom sounded just like CC in there!”  CC would be his grandma, my mother.  Well, fabulous.  I just stood there as they headed for the roller coaster.  My sista was laughing hysterically and I just looked at her and said “we are getting fudge later.”  She said “for sure” and we walked after them.

The new roller coaster at our park this year is called ‘The Cannibal’.  Clever.  I guess they call it that because the big drop looks like a tongue..like a big letter ‘P’…and it’s red.  You get in the car and go straight up in an elevator.  Then a big garage-like door opens and you move straight out the door and then…nothing.  The track literally disappears because it curves completely underneath itself and then straight back and down.  My son was very excited to ride this.  It is extremely high and fast, we watched it run several times as we waited in line.  The scary factor has been made bigger than usual because the opening of the ride has been delayed due to safety concerns for a month.  My daughter about had a nervous breakdown the night before we went because she thought her brother was going to make her ride it.  To be honest I about had a nervous breakdown in line watching the damn thing because I agreed to ride it.

Okay, let me come real clean here.  I am a dizzy wizzy.  Not really a scaredy cat per se, but a dizzy wizzy.  I get sick on things that go round and round.  I have been a dizzy wizzy since I was little.  I once was twirling in our yard with my sista when were very young and got dizzy and walked right into our light post and about knocked myself out.  At Galoon, on our church Galoon Day when I was about 11, in the Fun House, which is not there anymore because it was an accident and a lawsuit waiting to happen, I was on a “ride” that was really just a big wooden disc that you sat on and pushed yourself back against the people around you as hard as you could while they spun the disc around faster and faster and you tried to stay on despite the centrifugal force until every one spun off.   Unfortunately, I vomited right in the middle of a crowd of kids on this thing and my barf spun off everywhere along with a zillion pre-teens and they had to shut down the ride.  My mom was so mad.

Anyhoo, the older I get the less it takes for this dizzy wizzy to get the clammy sweats and the jelly legs, yet here I am ready to get on the Cannibal.  Smart chick.  So we are going up the elevator thing and I am sitting next to my sista on my right and an 8 year old boy I  do not know on my left.  Suddenly the door opens and for a split second I think I can see so far I spy the waving cowboy in Wendover, and then we are heading straight out and over the edge and I hear my sista say “This was a mistake”.  I lean over and say to my 8 year old co-rider, “Yes, this was a mistake” as sweat trickles down my back…and then I am literally standing up in the car because it is completely upside down and someone is screaming and it is me.

Then…it is over.  The heavy thing keeping me in my seat lifts off of my shoulders and over my head.  I am supposed to stand up but my legs are like jello when I try to stand.  I am sweating cold and clammy sweat and having a hot flash at the same time.  I am slush.  My son is trying to pull me onto the platform and I am trying to get myself out and off of this wretched ride.   I look up and see my sista just outside the exit with both hands on the garbage can and breathing hard, she is the color of the zoo…kind of a light beige…all over.  I pick my way over to her with my Novocain legs and she says “time for that fudge”  and I say “yes ma’am”.

It takes a little bit for the both of us to get our bearings, but we do.  We carry on like the old broads we are, making our way through the Rattle Snake Rapids (wet pants) and the Log Flume, corn on a stick and frozen lemonades and steering clear of the Tilt-a-Hurl and the Flying Aces.  When we get to the Pioneer Village we head straight for the candy shoppe to get our fudge, only to find they don’t have it any more.  But all is not lost, there are hot, soft pretzels and all is right with the world.  It’s closing time, almost 11pm and time to head for home.  Goodnight Galoon!  Good times, even without the fudge.

lagoon_logo          Wicked launch tower roller coaster at Lagoon park

Happy Holidays 2014! …Finally :/

Holiday 2014

Well, Happy 2015…for crying out loud.  You may be surprised to see our holiday letter in February…or March, but I hope it is a pleasant surprise.  Some unfortunate and unexpected life events derailed me and it took me a little time to get my bearings. So we keep calm and carry on!  We hope all is well with you and yours!  Please know that we are all healthy and blessed.

If you haven’t heard by now, after a 27 year career, I have recently taken a leap off the Stagecoach and hit the ground with a very hard bump.  I am seeing a few stars and in the process of gathering my petticoats and brushing off the dust, so to speak.  There are no hard feelings per se, but I am still smarting a bit.  So I am currently between careers at the moment. Moving on has been a little bit of a learning experience to say the least.  I have not applied for a job since 1988, I have worked for only one employer and I am very much a stranger in a strange land!  Welcome to 2015!

Now write a LinkedIn profile and page and remember it must be worked and updated daily to make connections and ensure it is viewed.  Endorse others as you would like to be equally endorsed and be brave and select some folks you think might write you a recommendation on your page and invite them to do so.  But try not to feel badly of they ignore you or decline you.  Remember people are notified when you view their profile so don’t stalk anyone and be sure your own update notifications are turned OFF so you are not the pest of the internet. Oops.  Nothing too personal, no kids in your picture, no pets in your picture, not too formal, not too candid.  Do not use anything too old, no wedding photos.  No hubby photos, yes it has to be of yourself.  Don’t you have another Employer to add, or more Education?  You need more connections!  Look who has viewed your profile?  …someone from the Stage Coach, they wish to remain Anonymous, not helpful.

Now do a new Resume, and a Cover Letter and what the hell is a Cover Letter?  Note to self – Google “Cover Letter”. Objective statements are out, Professional Brands are in, but don’t call them a brand.  Two pages max for a resume and be sure you detail your career accomplishments separate from your skill set and your work experience and include your community affiliations and your charitable support work.  No one cares if you are married or of you have kids but be sure to include your web proficiency and social networking skills like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram etc.  Oh by the way, you will customize your resume and especially your Cover Letter (less than one page, 3 paragraphs – google it) for each job you apply for to emphasize the skills each employer is looking for specifically.  You will do this constantly because, to stay eligible for Unemployment Insurance payments, you will apply for 4 new jobs every week and submit the application information every Sunday via the Utah.gov website…or you will be deemed not eligible for Unemployment and have to start over again and re-apply.  THAT is not an option, trust me.  Plus I need that $400.00 a week to pay for the Cobra, man…  I am trying to stay focused on not eating everything in my pantry and not wearing my jammies all day.  But I am FINE!  REALLY I AM!  😉

In lighter news, Keith is working away at Hudson Printing and is looking forward to even more warm weather so he can get out on the Golf Course.  He has enjoyed sharing his rabid love for the Utes with Zach in the last year on both the football field and the basketball court!  They both enjoy watching in our theater room and attending games in person every once in a while.  However, in his old age, Keith is taking more and more after his Dad in the “rabid” department and gets quite…animated during the games and will hardly notice Zach slinking away, his face hot with embarrassment during his Dad’s ranting and raving at the TV.   Funny, because many a time has Keith come home early from his parents’ home during a game because “my Dad was out of control.”  Frankly, I find it HI-larious.  Keith is trying to stay focused on doing dishes and laundry and not on me eating everything in the pantry and staying in my jammies all day long…I told him I am FINE.  We are both on the Prozac, thank the Good and Gracious Lord.

Zach is 21 (!?) and also works full-time at Hudson Printing and he and Keith are spending good times together attending Jazz games from time to time in the court side seats with Hudson clients and pairing up for work events like the annual Holiday Breakfast.  They were “Big Ride Buddies” at Universal Studios during our family vacation this summer in Southern California and are often seen together in our neighborhood helping others with the Elders Quorum.  Zach also enjoys a round or two of golf and taking off to see the newest movie premiere.  Zach is my hero.  He has lost over 60 pounds since January of 2014 and looks super great.  He has done it by eating less and eating the right things and exercising more.  So the hard way.  He only drinks water and the occasional Gator-aid, no sweets and has his portions exactly right.  I feel like a diet coke-drinking pig in a pen next to him at dinner time but it has been nice to have him eating the same way I do as a diabetic, if not an emotional wreck of a diabetic.  Zach is our enduring spirit, our tender mercy.

Our Miss Holland is 15, sweet 16 in April.  She is a sophomore at Hillcrest High School and having the best school year ever!  She is finally placed exactly right academically and it has made all the difference in the world.  Imagine that!  Her special needs core-director at Hillcrest, Joanne Plant is literally her Fairy Godmother of Autism and one day when Holland gives two hoots about a Prince or a ball she will be Cinderella.  For now Holland is a second soprano in the Sophomore Girls Choir and has 2 recitals and a solo under her very tiny belt.  She loves to sing and has a voice like a crystal bell.  It is best showcased in the shower or when she doesn’t think anyone is listening.  She has been recognized for her art skills in Drawing and Painting and was showcased in Hillcrests’ Gallery show last spring.  She is currently working in Ceramics and Sculpture and is preparing a portfolio.  Holland also enjoyed our vacation in California.  Especially hanging out on Huntington Beach and in the beach house with her cousins and CC ad Poppy.  She is a beach bum at heart, just like her Mom.   This year she also discovered the Street Fair and I could hardly pull her and Zoe away…as if I tried very hard, I like me a Street Fair at the beach!  Holland likes shopping! …beach jewelry and beach bags and sunglasses, T-shirts and swim suits and sun dresses and especially the art.  They had a beautiful Farmers Market with fresh fruits and veggies and imagine my surprise when Zoe and Holland wanted to go “listen to the bands” while I was picking out produce.  (Translation = check out the boys!)  Needless to say, we can’t wait to go back to the beach!   Holland is our beautiful light, teaching us so much about patience and kindness every day.

So that is that for now.  The tide is sometimes in and the tide is often out in our lives and that is the way it is supposed to be.  So as I often say, “we keep our mitts up for the unexpected line drive” or painful fall off the Stage Coach, whatever the case may be.  It is in these experiences that we learn and grow the most, after the dust clears that is.  Then we continue to survive, count our blessings and be ever so grateful for what we do have…and carry on.

Much love,  Dee, Keith, Zach and Holland

Everyone is a little Autistic…

Previously Published /2.2013

Posting again now for my Holland.   Everyone is a little Autistic…

April was Autism Awareness month and I was asked to participate in a Diversity presentation in Fort Worth Texas in May that included some Autism Awareness and how Autism impacts my life, and my daughters life, and the life of our family day-to-day and how we cope.  The event was to be held for my company and all of my peers and our partners and management from across the country.  That’s a lot of people.  There was a definite “Yikes” factor at work for me this time.  I have spoken to large groups before but in my business and among my peers I have never been asked to speak about how a topic impacts me and my family on a personal level.

But, ‘Yikes” factor aside, I am an Autism Advocate for parents and kids and will speak to anyone that will listen about my life and my daughters life with autism, cards on the table man.  Ask me anything and I’ll give you more information than you every wanted in the first place.  My middle name is “TMI” and that is fine by me.   The presentation went very well and I had many people want to talk afterwards about their son or daughter, or a grandchild or niece or nephew or friend.. The fact is that when I spoke the word Autism I instantly made a connection with over half of the audience.  But if I had more time, I would have had the other half no problem…because everyone is a little Autistic.

First, don’t panic, being Autistic, a little or a lot, is not even close to the end of the world.   In fact, didn’t we all survive the end of the Mayan Calendar world?  It was just like the day before the end of the world wasn’t it?  So we can learn a valuable lesson from the Mayan’s;   a)  Maybe what feels like the end of your world, is just another beginning, remember that today, the present, is a gift, and 2)  Maybe the Mayans are just like regular people and just ran out of space on that calendar. How would they know how serious everyone would take it.  Mountain and molehill…who knows?

In fact, the older I get the less I see a need to actually panic.  I find that when I catch myself feeling panicky (if that’s even a word)  I feel silly.  My inside my head voice says “Oh for heaven’s sake, stop this.  Calm your damn self down and carry on with what you need to do to address the situation within the limits of your control.”   Unfortunately, many times it takes longer than I would hope to catch myself and usually do or say at least one very silly or hysterical thing before the “smart cookie” side of my brain kicks in.   Exception – if I am being chased by a big dog or other large animal, wait I take that back because if a chicken or a goose was chasing me, that would merit valid panic. See everybody has a thing.

This is why we are all a little Autistic.  ANXIETY!  With children (and adults) who are diagnosed with Autism you may not find a single symptom the same in every case.  There are many commonalities you might see, but way more differences. Just like people without Autism.  We all experience anxiety.  The differences seem to be to be what causes an individual’s anxiety level to rise (big dog, aggressive chicken) and how they are able to cope with that anxiety…or not.  (Run away willy nilly!)

For example, why do you think so many stores and designers are making shirts and tops and blouses that are tag less?   Do you think it’s because a good portion of Autistic folks cannot cope with a tag in their shirt scratching or even touching the back of their neck?  While this is true, of course not!  Although Holland, my daughter will cut the entire piece of the shirt with the tag out of the back with those nubby school scissors leaving a big scraggy hole or ‘notch’ in the shirt to alleviate that particular anxiety.
But the point is, almost everyone in the world gets bugged by tags in the back of their shirt!  It causes them a certain level of anxiety they don’t like.  The difference between a little Autistic and diagnosed Autism (among other things) is how high that level of anxiety goes (I cannot think about or focus on anything else because this tag in my shirt is making me feel crazy, literally) and how well we are able to cope or progress forward with the task or situation at hand in spite of our anxiety.  (I am cutting up my stupid shirt while my teacher is in the rest room.)

My daughter Holland has Autism.  She hates tights. She has hated them since she was a baby.  She would cry and pull on the toes of the tights trying to get them off for the duration of church, or the wedding or funeral etc.  At about two years old I was pleased to realize that Holland had inherited at least part of  the ‘smart cookie’ gene when she just started snagging her tights with her finger until she could rip a ginormous hole in them and step right out of her tights and carry on!   So, it’s been leggings ever since.   But her ability to find a way to keep on moving, however destructive (holey shirts and ruined tights) told me that she could learn to cope and that for her in her life, we can find a way.
Now frankly, tights and tags have been the least of our issues as most parents, or folks who work with Autistic kids would agree.  But the principle is the same. Unlike many disabilities, Autism does discriminate.  Some children are super high functioning and can respond, adapt and learn quite quickly.  Others have more severe delays and their anxieties can stay locked inside making it nearly impossible for them to speak, which makes learning and coping extremely difficult and challenging.  But many of our Autistic brothers and sisters are just somewhere in between. Trying to live in a very socially dominated world that no matter how high functioning, they simply don’t understand.  None of that comes naturally and learning it and practicing it, and I mean accepted and expected social behavior, takes a lot of work and effort for these kids AND it makes their level of anxiety shoot the moon.

Remember how you felt the very first day of Jr High School?  Or the first day of any new school?  Imagine feeling that way every day of your life about several things during those days.  Now imagine not being able to articulate why you are feeling that way to anyone, even your Mom.  How frustrating would that be for you?  If you think “a lot frustrating”  you may start to understand Autism.

So here is what I can tell you now, what I have learned so far in my journey called life, that just so happens to include Autism.  I cannot stand ear buds, they hurt and so I prefer head phones.  I use a Blackberry Bold because I cannot tolerate the touch screen key pad, it makes me…yes…it makes me mad to use it so I don’t.  I will not eat zucchini in anything but zucchini bread.  Just thinking about it makes me have a dry heave.  In fact, I have avoided the squash family altogether until just last year ( I am 47) and now I only eat spaghetti squash on my own terms.  I refuse to shave my husbands back, neck or chest no matter how many times he has asked me in 25 years of marriage.  I think it’s gross and just thinking about it makes me have a dry heave.  I could go on and on.  Because we all have a thing…or three.

But I can identify these things and find my way around them in my world and carry on with no problem except a hairy husband.  (Still gross.)  Most of us do this every day.  That is the difference between being a little Autistic and having Autism.

Last story.  One April day before her 5th birthday, Holland and I were in TJ Maxx in the check out line.  Holland had found some Polly Pockets she wanted and I agreed to buy.  While in line she was pretending with the dolls and talking to herself and all of a sudden she became aware that some people in the line had turned and were looking at her.  She stopped and came close to me and said  “Mom, am I weird?”  I prayed a little prayer and then said “Little bird, everyone is a little weird.”  AND THEN, I kid you not, this kid came up to stand behind us in the check out line.  I glanced around and saw him, who was probably 6 or 7, wearing Woody pajamas and a full cowl Batman mask and his snow boots.  Holland turned and was face to…well…mask with this Lone Dark Knight Ranger and they just looked at each other for probably a full minute, saying nothing.  Holland’s face was serious…for Woody the Batman I can’t say.  Then slowly, Holland turned  back around and reached up to whisper to me.  “Yeah Mom, everyone is a little weird huh?”  I said “See I told you.” and we smiled at each other and went to the check out.

Whoever dares say that God doesn’t answer our prayers…or have a sense of humor…is 100% wrong.  I thanked Him for that little miracle in a mask and snow boots who appeared at just the right moment all the way home.

Every once in a while it really does go your way, if you look at it from the right perspective.

Mom and Holland- 2015

Mom and Holland- 2015

http://planbdsb.blogspot.com/2013/07/plan-b-everyone-is-little-autistic.html?m=1

Posted from WordPress for Android