Monday, December 21, 2020


Dear Persons, Dear Universe,

Please take 2020 away.

No, really.

Yeah, we who are reading/writing/praying/complaining are glad to still be alive, yep. Thank you for that. THANK YOU! 

Sooooooo glad...Butno. 

True, we've gained "resilience" and "cozy time at home," but we have also gained "weight," and "climbing the walls," and "possibly not doing so well with remote learning/work."

We feel heartbroken, battered, exhausted, paralyzed. Many of us, perhaps especially those who live with extraordinary challenges (whether medically fragile, living in poverty, disabled, Black in the United States, and/or...), have been stretched almost beyond our capacities this year; some haven't made it. 

And so we ask with all our hearts, with much love and many thanks, simply for a New New Year.

Full Spectrum Mama

P.S. Please consider, beloved Universe, all prior Winter Prayers (2018 and 2017) to be still in pray. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


For George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and their fellow human beings unjustly killed for being Black


I’m about as white-skinned as it gets. 

But when I lost my still-alive white father to mental illness, a Black man—a former mentor and teacher—stepped up to fill that thankless role without even being asked. 

There are very few people of color in my current hometown.

But my daughter’s best friend all through grade school was one of them, and her family became my adopted family here. 

I’m a United States citizen.

But the first year and most formative times in my life were spent in the Darien jungle in Panama. There, my father and I were usually the only white people for hundreds of miles, amidst indigenous people, the descendants of escaped African slaves, (mostly) Spanish colonizers, and Chinese canal laborers, and combinations thereof.

My daughter is a U.S. citizen. 

But she was born in and adopted from China and is genetically of entirely Chinese descent.

Four rational reasons why I march, why I vote for equality, and why I always do my best to do right by all people of color.


My son and I are neurodivergent.

Just as a Black person may be in danger (or be bullied, or passed over for a job, and on and on) simply for “being in a black body,” my white-bodied son faces discrimination and danger for having an autistic mind. (I “pass” a little more easily, but have also dealt with plenty of neurodiversity-related issues over my lifetime!) 

Like most Black parents, many parents of autistic children teach their kids how to behave if they encounter the police. “Acting weird” or “different” is yet another way to “get yourself in trouble”—or worse. 

When we—whoever we are, whatever our skin color, etc.—say “Black lives matter,” we are in fact saying “All lives matter, because all people should be equal”; 

and we are also saying “We understand that, historically and in the present, people living in so-called black bodies have been, and are being, treated with extraordinary violence and injustice, as if they don’t matter, and we want everybody to know that black lives are of great and necessary value in the tapestry of humanity and we ally with Black people.”

If you’re “foreign,” gay, Autistic, brown, yellow, Black … in short, if you’re colored or shaped or oriented or identify differently—if (in the United States) you’re different from the dominant/“normal” white majority in any way, really—you know what it feels like to have your body and whole being seen in ways that categorize you, that relegate your existence and actions to a lesser status on the basis of a single trait. 

Another rational reason why I advocate and ally with ALL marginalized peoples.


But rational reasons, even very convincing ones, aren’t the point. 

Dear persons, why must there be a reason behind understanding that we are all human beings?

As such, do we not all have hearts to care for our fellow beings? 

I once read about a U.S. senator discussing how he was grateful for the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of healthcare his sick wife received through health insurance. He spoke of how that huge amount of money would have been a stretch for him without insurance, and how he now understands why people need insurance

Do the math, senator. For most people, hundreds of dollars, even dollars, in out-of-pocket health expenses would be a stretch. I suppose that’s a rational reason behind healthcare coverage.

But it’s also a heart-centered reason behind caring: Do those less-affluent people care any less about their wives, children, partners, parents—or their own and loved ones’ health and access to healthcare?

Why would it take a direct experience of the need for healthcare to grasp that everyone needs healthcare—and that basic human decency demands that they get it?

Likewise, why would you have to know a [fill in the blank here] person intimately to include them in your species?

Even if we don’t have the empathetic capacity to make such a heartfelt leap of understanding, doesn’t logical reasoning tell us we are all fundamentally similar in the most basic ways? 

For instance, I think we can agree that we all want and need the same things: 

  • enough food to eat 
  • a safe home to live in
  • to be loved and to love
  • enough resources to access what we need (and, we hope, a bit more “for special”)
  • opportunities for meaningful employment and/or other activities
  • people with whom we can connect on what we care about
  • to be known as a worthwhile being and treated with respect

I might have missed one or two items (and, of course, some specifics for particular individuals), but it seems to me these needs are 

  1. widely if not universally shared,
  2. reasonable, and, more importantly, 
  3. achievable…if we work together

Let’s try this handy test:

Are you human?

Do you believe that other humans are also human?

Do you believe on some level that some humans, say, women, trans people, Black people, Autistic people, and/or members of some other subgroup, are somehow less human than other humans of another group (probably your group)? 

OR do you believe that all humans in general* have equal/shared humanity and worth?

If so, whether you came to this conclusion with your heart or mind (or both), do you believe it’s worthwhile, even imperative, to help ensure that all humans have access to the above basics? 

Do you accept that some of us have certain areas of privilege (such as being white, educated, verbal, male, financially secure, and so on)?

Can we use whatever resources, privilege(s), and/or power we’ve got to advocate for equality? 

Dear readers, I get it: It may feel like there isn’t much you can do in this isolating global crisis. You may feel angry, sad, tired, hopeless. Many of us have all we can handle with work and family alone. 

But the world is desperately in need of healing right now, and ripe for CHANGE in ways we may never again see. It’s an amazing opportunity! 

Know that every small shift toward inclusion, every friendly and/or courageous exchange between mutually human beings, can have huge reverberations. That means any little steps you can take will make the world better for all of us. 

Thanks and love,

Full Spectrum Mama

* Of course, some individuals commit acts that diminish their own and others’ humanity. I’m simply arguing against classifying any subgroup of humanity as less-than based on a single trait. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020


Years of meditation practice have allowed me to sometimes approximate a sane person.

The other day, I awoke inundated by cortisol and genuine worries, both pandemic-related and other. I didn’t know how I would get out of bed, much less make it through a very full day. 

Sitting up halfway, trying to muster my gumption to get a move on, a question popped into the tiny bit of spaciousness my meditation practice has created in my head: 

Is there some way I can see this differently?

I didn’t have an answer, actually. But it made a little room in my heart to not feel quite so despondent. Times like these, that's a precious gift. 

Subsequently, I’ve been finding plenty of applications for a “see-this-differently” approach! 

One area that's ripe for a bigger vision? My son's senior year. 

For the class of 2020, there’s no senior prom. No big, festive graduation. I hear that some kids (well, young adults, at this point) are defying social-distancing rules and hanging out without protections. But mine aren’t. Most others aren’t, either. 

And these kids are lonely. All of them. Not just the marginalized kids. Not just the students who don’t “fit in,” or are “different.”

In a way, it’s kind of an amazing moment for the latter groups, I suspect. 

Popular people just can’t be popular in the same ways while sheltering in place. And perhaps people who are often lonely can’t judge themselves (and others) in the usual ways. This is simply how it is—for everybody.

Is it possible that pandemic-induced social isolation actually mitigates the social isolation that so many feel in their usual day-to-day lives? 

I think of my mother-in-law, who—despite having seven living children—rarely sees anyone besides a caregiver who comes for a few hours every day and the one daughter who lives in the same city. 

Now, she must feel less disappointed—because nobody’s seeing anybody. I hope so, anyway. 

I think of my son, who as a junior so assiduously tried to get a date for the prom—with no success. At that time, I began to pre-worry about this year's prom. 

These days, I’ve been asking myself if the lack of prom is actually a great way for those who might not have found a date to avoid a lifetime of that bad memory? 

That said, is social-distancing in some ways a blessing in disguise for students who struggle socially? Especially those who connect better digitally? 

Has this terrible pandemic created online social spaces that are more accepting? 

If everybody is lonely, are some lonelier than others? Or are our children (and elders, and selves) being equally lonely, together but apart? Maybe even experiencing loneliness in ways that might make them (us) more compassionate and inclusive for the long term? 

In other words, is this challenging period in some ways a powerful equalizer? Aside from all the myriad challenges and tragedies, are we finally learning to create a world in which there’s more acceptance and our real gifts shine and we can be free to be ourselves? (I know a lot of wild animals certainly feel that way right now.) 

Also, I'm wondering what will continue to resonate most after we’ve moved through the pandemic—the terrible loneliness and fear, or the unprecedented shared experience of an extraordinary time?

I certainly see how this global crisis exacerbates inequalities around access and economics, and I genuinely fear many of us, and many of our towns and cities, may not be able to recover—for a very long time.I mourn for the hundreds of thousands dead, and for their living loved ones who couldn't be with them at the end.I'm deeply grateful for the many brave essential workers who have risked their lives to keep civilization functioning worldwide. 

Here in my own small, relatively safe universe, I nevertheless experience waves of such sadness, fear, plain-old grumpiness...So I’m trying to see things slightly differently, in the interest of family and community morale, in general, and personal sanity, in particular.

May we in our mutual loneliness find ways to uplift ourselves and each other. Some days, that’s going to be really hard. On those days, may we remember that it's possible to see our lives from another perspective.  

Stay well, dear persons.

You are not alone in your fears or your loneliness or your joys, and you are loved,
Full Spectrum Mama

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


We recently went to my daughter’s middle school concert. To my amazement, my 18-year-old son sat through the entire concert without fidgeting, talking, or calling out unexpectedly to kids onstage. 

It was the first such event I’ve ever attended without breaking into a cold sweat from anxiety over his behavior. That includes, over the years, many, many concerts, movies, plays, musicals and other performances during which attendants are expected to be quiet and attentive. 

I’ve been a mostly solo (my partner, Pardner, is a chef/owner of a restaurant) or entirely single parent for most of my children’s lives. With a couple of notable exceptions, I’ve spent every weekend on my own with them for the past twelve years or so. 

It’s been really hard—and REALLY wonderful. 

Early on, I decided I wanted to be a person and do things, and so I’ve been dragging them along to events all these years. 

I hadn’t realized how much G’s restlessness affected me until the other night. 

There are so many little ways in which life can feel daunting. What we usually do is soldier on, right? 

But it’s amazing to consider all the possibilities that open up when you actually feel free to enjoy an event rather than keep most of your energy on someone sitting next to you. 

Sitting through that concert like that was kind of a big deal. 

And it got me to wondering: How much energy have I wasted on worry over these many years? 

I usually explain and justify my worries to myself as solution-seeking behavior. 

But no amount of anxiety could possibly have hastened G’s development into the amazing young man he is now. 

And, to be honest, my worries probably kept my brain too busy to come up with good work-arounds and ideas. 

Plus, ALL ALONG, G has been the happy, kind, funny, fun, loving person he is now. Just a bit more fidgety. (And, truth be told, he wasn’t always all that into much of the stuff I dragged him to…)

Yet I persisted in worrying much of the time about G’s fidgeting and behavior—and not only insofar as it affected him at the time! I also future-catastrophized about potential impacts on his career and how it  might alienate him from the “regular” social world. 

What good did/does all that worrying do? How many other useless ways do I spend my time anxiously mulling over and anticipating possible disastrophes? 

We all struggle with how to be in society. And knowledge around expectations and societal norms comes slowly to some. So do the sheer physical ability to settle down and key mental capacities, including emotional regulation. 

So why do I torture myself unnecessarily? 

I know I’m not the only parent (or guardian, or loved one) of a child with differences (or parent, period) who does this. 

Frankly, I wasn’t much of a worrier, pre-kids. Somehow the little worries of new parenthood mushroomed over the years—sometimes with good reason—into a constant stream of nervousness. 

Looking back, I wish I could’ve enjoyed myself more as a mom, instead of only now realizing all this. 

I’m going to work on finding a way to avoid breaking into a cold sweat when I go places with my children. 

More to the point, I’m going to take a close look at the ways worry has come to pervade so many areas of my life that it’s often depressing and sometimes even debilitating. 

Because I have a hunch that in all cases there’s a similar element of complete futility.

I’m going to try to be gentle with myself in the process: This worry has developed as a result of a lot of hard stuff. 

But I’m also going to be firm, because I’ve had enough!

Worry is my issue and I’m going to own it. 

I cannot “control” my kids anymore now that they’re teenagers. Nor can I make everything right for them!! In fact, I never could entirely do either. 

I can see now that G has moved on. 

Time for me to do the same.

Full Spectrum Mama

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