Christmas Wishes for 2011

26 12 2011

Christmas is a time of universal reflection for me, maybe even more so than Thanksgiving. At New Year’s I’m looking at personal achievements in the past year and what I want to accomplish in the next year.

When we sit down to our meal, I recount our list of blessings. Every year, the list seems to grow. I start off slowly, thanking the Earth for the food, the people who planted it, grew it, harvested it, and transported it so that I could enjoy the meal of which I am about to partake. I make sure to thank the turkey for its life. Then the tears inevitably come–for the people who are going hungry, who are homeless, who are hopeless, and who are loveless. I may have helped some over the year, but did I do enough? NEVER. There is always more an individual can do. I gratefully acknowledge the people who have sacrificed their lives–our military and the quiet heroes of daily life. I say a blessing to those families who are grieving the death of a loved one; holidays can be the hardest times in their lives. I pray for those contemplating suicide that they find some reason to hang on to this life just one more day.  Then I’ll begin to recount all the blessings currently in my own life.

While I may moan or complain from time to time, my life is very good. Patrick continues to flourish. I have a loving family, a roof over my head in a fantastic area to live, food in my stomach, a decent car to drive, great neighbors, wonderful friends, and an employer who is continuing to let me try to work each day as much as I can instead of filing for disability.

The things I have on my Christmas wish list require the cooperation of others in order to achieve:

1. World peace. Sounds corny, I know, but I’m an idealistic fool who thinks this is actually possible. Before that happens, we will have to get rid of prejudice and hate. In order to get rid of prejudice and hate, we need better educated people.

2. End to hunger: With all the food we have and waste every day, we could feed the world.

3. A cure for autism: Just because I love my son and accept his diagnosis, doesn’t mean I would not want to make life easier for him, and for other parents not to have to even take this journey. The life lessons have been tremendous, but at what cost?

4. More kindness. As our economy struggles, I have noticed more rude people. Perhaps at the heart of this issue is self-centeredness. How can you be kind to others if it is all about you? I understand your life circumstance may be difficult, but the person who has done nothing to you is now the bulls-eye of your toxic dart board. I believe in karma.

While I am waiting for those things to happen, I will continue to try to do my part, helping one person at a time, one day at a time.

People tend to store their “good will towards men” for just the Christmas season. As they pack away the Christmas decorations, the spirit of Christmas leaves them as well. Perhaps I should dream smaller. Perhaps my ultimate Christmas wish is for others to find the heart of Christmas in their daily lives and keep that siren song alive year-round. Instead of the 12 days of Christmas, we would sing the joys of 365 days of Christmas. Can you imagine what an astounding force of nature we as a people would be?





Acts of Kindness Part 2

24 11 2011

Back in 1998, when we were struggling to get Patrick to an autism program in Massachusetts that we hoped to be his best chances at recovery, kindness came from everywhere: Family, friends, strangers donated, held fundraisers, etc. to help us earn the money we needed (starting in July). On December 31, 1998, the day we left, we raised the final number we needed: $15,000. It was difficult for me to accept kindness like this, but I had to swallow my pride to first ask for the help, but learned to accept it with humbleness and gratitude. For many years, I had a web site on AOL (remember AOL Hometown?) where any one of the donors could go to keep up with their investment. After all, it was not only an act of love but an investment in the life of another.

PBFundraiser

My friend Jennifer's church allowed us to sell bear ornaments as a fundraiser.

During the course of having Patrick, my boss has done a tremendous number of things that I cannot name for reasons of confidentiality. Even though I don’t seem to be able to produce full-time work anymore, she allows me to stay hoping that one day I can get past my medical issues and produce at full-time or even part-time levels again. I do know that without the things she has done, our lives would be very different today.

Last year, I got another WOW moment to add to my top 10 kindnesses of all-time. I put out to the universe on Facebook that we had planned to go to the Adam Lambert concert but because every penny now was invested in that fabulous private school Patrick was going to, the results of which they had seen unfold right on Facebook, that if they heard of any contests to win tickets to please let me know. Instead, my friend Melissa went out and bought us not 3 tickets, but 4. She told us we had to take Patrick and gave us an extra seat to buffer ourselves from other people if necessary and a place to put his stuff. In the tickets, she also gave us spending money (for parking, presents, etc.) Melissa will tell you to this day she had never done anything like that and several times stopped and thought she was crazy for doing it. This kindness had “kindness” percussions. Going to the Adam concert led to know a certain person who would go on and help my son’s school during a fundraiser called Rock Autism, Joey Guerra, music critic for the Houston Chronicle.

Patrick's favorite: The laser lights.

The next big kindness came from an actor named JC Williams (@JustChillin21) who has been on many shows, but I came to know him because he was on Stargate Universe, a show I blogged about on Fox 26 Houston and a volunteer science-fiction-fan-run website. When the show was cancelled, there was a big sale of prop items in Vancouver, British Columbia. There are so many Stargate fans, many of whom tried to find people attending the sale so that these people could get them something. I thoroughly understand that level of passion, but I never wanted to place an undue burden on anyone living in Vancouver so that I could benefit from such a request. I feel that such a request would put in doubt the true nature of our relationships in some cases.

I don’t remember which Saturday it was, but I am hardly ever in my office and I am hardly ever on Twitter on the weekend. But this short time span I was. JC sent me a tweet asking if he could pick me up something and was asking our sizes. We communicated back and forth for a little while and in the end I told him I’d just be happy with a sticker or something; I’m not greedy. After the sale, he would tease me about sending me off a “box” of stuff. A box???? From personal experience, even mailing a small box from Canada to the United States is expensive. I felt excited yet unworthy once again. I am glad that it took several weeks to get here so I could shed the “unworthy” label and just be excited. It arrived on a Monday, July 11, 2011. My husband wanted to be there when I opened it, and I needed him to record the event. Since JC could not be here in person to see my reaction, capturing it on camcorder and putting in on YouTube seemed like a good idea. Meanwhile the day before I was bit by a spider and my arm started swelling and about the time I opened this, I was running a fever, but with the surge of adrenaline in my system, you can hardly tell I was even sick. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so my videos will say more:

I first open the box here (I’ve lost a lot of weight since then):   Click here for the video

I missed sharing about some items in the box:   Click here for the video

I tried on one of the gifts here:  Click here for the video

Also among the box, not put on video (because at that time of the video I wasn’t sure if he wanted to remain anonymous or not), were these pictures (don’t faint friends):

JCWilliams

J.C. Williams, actor, dreammaker

JC put a lot of thought and love into this box he was sending. He went out of his way to meet up with one other Stargate Universe actor, Herb Sommerfeld (picture below). He also tried to get one other’s picture and autograph for me, but was never able to catch up with that particular actor.

HerbSommerfeld

Herb Sommerfeld, actor, teacher

You can see JC’s great work on a recent episode of Sanctuary, “Resistance.” Click here.

Finally we close out this year with the overwhelming support I’m receiving for Patrick’s fundraiser for his autism school’s end-of-the-year annual campaign. Even though we are in a tough economy, people have been giving amounts from $5 on up. We met our first-placed $1000 goal. When we reached that, I upped the goal to $1100 and we’ve reached that. Now the goal stands at $1200. The fundraiser goes through Christmas Day. If you would like to see your money make a huge difference, knowing all the money stays at the school, most of it directly for the support of the kids there or creating programs so more kids on the waiting list can get help quicker, then this is a good place to give. Thank you to all those who were able to give, and thanks to those, too, who found themselves unable to give, but forwarded the message to others. Your acts of kindness astound me.  If you would like to help us raise money for this wonderful school for autism, please click here.

 

Patrick

My life teacher and inspiration, Patrick






Acts of Kindness Part 1

23 11 2011

“You can have it, if you’d like it,” the old woman said to the young girl, sensing the fear and nerves of the child, who had never lived anywhere else in her 5 short years of life.  There was something special about this antiquated stuffed turtle that was over 50 years old. Perhaps, it was a physical item of transference, a thing she could hold onto in the upcoming uncertainty of her life. Looking at her parents for approval to accept the offer, the 6-year-old lavished thanks on the two older women, and held on to that turtle for a very long time.

The House of Turtle

The house where I found "Turtle"

We are all the recipients of acts of kindness each day. Some acts of kindness are remembered more than others because of emotions attached to them, or you were having a bad day in your life, or perhaps you felt you just didn’t deserve it. Most kindnesses eventually fade away in the stream of consciousness as it is impossible to remember all of them all (unless you’ve written them down). The big ones you never forget. Like my turtle.

The next big kindness I remember was being asked to go on a family trip with my friends Kelly and Kitchel. They were close in age and I would wind up doing things with one for awhile and then the other. Their family became a refuge from my dysfunctional, abusive home and I loved spending time there. I learned about refried beans and real butter. Their mother, a nurse, used IV needles and ice cubes to pierce my ears. When I was asked to go on their family trip to Kansas, I was ecstatic. But the kindnesses did not cease coming from them.

Hilda in Kansas

Me on the Kansas trip

My mother’s sister and her husband took me in when my mother kicked me out age the age of 13. However, I was there for only 2 weeks. My mother wished for me to return home. My aunt and uncle sat me down and said, “If you want to stay, we will fight for you to stay, but if you return home, you won’t be able to come back.” I made a bad choice and left.

After I was told to leave my home again 6 months later, with whatever I possessed from things that were gifts or things I had bought myself, my sister, on a break from college, was staying with her college friend and her family in the Bronx for the summer. They also provided me shelter until my sister could work things out about where I would go. Their apartment was not big; they were not rich, but their hearts were. Somewhere in there (I forget the timing of all this), my sister brought me upstate New York to my father’s brother’s house. My two of four cousins still remained at home. They welcomed me into their home. For me it was only temporary because the place where my heart felt like home was with Kelly and Kitchel’s family who had moved from Nebraska to Missouri. They were having family meetings to discuss the impact on having me there. But in the meantime, my aunt, uncle and cousins were glad to have me.

The decision was a positive one for me with my friends’ family and I soon moved to Missouri. It lasted from September until December. Plans were being made by my sister once again to file child abandonment charges against my mother to get me into a foster home in New York (close to her where she was going to school). Things didn’t work out with my friends as we had hoped for a variety of reasons—them lacking any legal authority as “parents”, the financial help my father promised, the arguments I was getting into with one of the two girls. I had to leave. When my mother discovered I was there, my departure protected them from being charged with harboring a runaway (I did not runaway, but my mother was upset that she was told off about her less-than-wonderful parenting ability). When I boarded the plane to New York to my sister, the police showed up at my friends’ home. Fortunately, I was not there. I always look back on this has a huge kindness. They could have easily said no given the headache involved with it, but they did not.

The next kindness rates into a category all of its own and will be continued tomorrow in part 2.





Join Team Patrick!

14 11 2011

I knew it was a long time since I’ve posted, but I had no idea it’s been almost 2 months. After Halloween is over, things seem to go into high gear, don’t they? Unexpected illnesses throw the whole schedule off. Tonight I’m starting our annual Christmas letter because I have about 200 cards to send out via regular mail not to mention the ones I send electronically. I just opened the mail I’ve been neglecting for a month. I have no time to even start a game of Skyrim. The Fringe fall finale is this Friday (what????) Its nuts! I was supposed to have attended Wizard World in Austin today for a day trip with my husband to visit Alaina Huffman and Julia Benson of Stargate Universe, but the flu decided to pay us a visit on Monday night to Tuesday morning and then Patrick proceeded to get sick. I haven’t read Joe Mallozzi’s blog in over a week, something I make sure to attend to every day. I also need to work, help Patrick’s school, and put up at least a Christmas tree.

I did accomplish quite a bit today considering I’ve been out of it for about a week. One of those items includes a fundraiser campaign for my son’s not-for-profit autism school, Including Kids. I know that budgets are tight and dollars are precious, but autism waits for no one. I would like to invite you to read our story, about this wonderful school and the difference you can make with even a small donation (even $5.00 helps).

My family thanks you for the support you have always shown us. I don’t know how we would have gotten this far without the financial, emotional and spiritual support of friends, family and even strangers.  If you feel like you might be able to contribute to this wonderful school, please follow this link:

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/hildabowen/annual-campaign-2011

Thanks for joining Team Patrick. Although I set the goal at the level that was requested by the school of each of the parents, I would truly like to exceed the amount. The amount is tax-deductible.

Blessings to all.