IDEA – Betsy DeVoss and the Supreme Court

IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – provides guidelines and protections for children, up to age 21, requiring special education in their schooling. More info on IDEA – Here is some Wiki info. Here is the government website.

IDEA is getting a lot of attention this month. Both with the senate hearings on Betsy DeVoss as Trump’s choice for Department of Education and arguments at the Supreme Court level as to what the public schools must do to meet the requirements of a Free Appropriate Public Education – FAPE.  Here is Wiki info. Here is the government website.

Let’s start with Betsy DeVoss –

Her senate hearing has begun. She has already shown how embarrassingly clueless she is about the actual work the department does or oversees. This following is a small portion of the questioning between Betsy DeVoss and Senator Tim Kaine.

Kaine: You don’t agree with me. Let me move to my next question. Should all K-12 school receiving governmental funding be required to meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?

DeVos: I think they already are.

Kaine: I’m asking you a “should” question. Whether they are or not, we’ll get into that later. Should all schools that receive taxpayer funding be required to meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?

DeVos: I think that’s a matter that’s best left to the states.

Kaine: So some states might be good to kids with disabilities and other states might not be so good, and then what? People can just move around the country if they don’t like how their kids are being treated?

DeVos: I think that’s an issue best left to the states.

Kaine: What about the federal requirement. It’s a federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Let’s limit it to federal funding. If schools receive federal funding should they be required to follow a federal law whether they are public, public charter or private?

DeVos: As the Senator referred to –

Kaine: Just yes or no, I’ve only got one more question

DeVos: There’s a Florida program. There are many parents that are very happy with the program there.

Kaine: Let me state this: I think all schools that receive federal funding, public, public charter or private should be required to meet the conditions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Di you agree with me or not?

DeVos: I think that is certainly worth discussion and I would look forward to.

So she is willing to discuss the application of this law if she were to be confirmed. I translate this to mean one of two things – “I have no idea what you are asking me about so I am going to go with state choice because that is popular with republicans and look like I remain open to discussion while I have someone do research for me to give me the abridged version of it.” – Or – “I do not support this federal law at all but I can’t say that right now so I will act like I don’t know what you are talking about, feigning ignorance, which I think is more acceptable to the masses than the truth.”

Video link  to full questioning here

Video link to Senator Maggie Hassan’s questions to Betsy DeVoss

Moving on to the Supreme Court. They just last week heard arguments on Endrew F. vs Douglas County School District. In this case they are being called upon to decide what children receiving public school special ed have the legal right to expect from their school district to meet the requirements of a Free Appropriate Public Education – FAPE – as it is outlined in IDEA. In this case the parents are stating that the public school system failed their child as proven by his now highly improved educational experience in a private school. The parents contend that it is the school district’s responsibility to pay for their child’s private education since they refused/were unable to educate him in their public school. Here is some info on the case.

There are a lot of important decisions currently being considered regarding the future of special education in public schools. I believe anyone who is involved with education or specifically involved with special ed needs to watch carefully and respond as needed to what is occurring. I know I am.

genius

**For full disclosure.. Right now my son is being schooled at home due to the sensory challenges he faces being in a class room. It is my desire that he reach a point to be able to attend a public school in the future. I do not have a problem with religious schools, private schools, charters, homeschooling or school choices. I have deep concerns about IDEA and FAPE being gutted, leaving our most vulnerable children without supportive education.

In Honor of Your Dead Child

One of the reasons for this blog is to post the daily experiences that lead me to deeper understandings on life, love, spirituality, the Universe…

Here is another one….

I am in a number of Facebook groups that are related to the syndrome that caused the death of one of my boys, Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, TTTS. Most of the groups are grief related but there is one that has a combination of parents with survivors and many parents currently going through TTTS. This is the type of group many parents whose children have died choose not to stay in. They feel like they don’t fit in and don’t feel like they can speak of their experience of grief….

Having a child die is something that you cannot fully understand unless it happens to you. Grieving the death of your child can be back breaking, heart breaking, even soul crushing. It can take YEARS before the parent feels like themselves again. Not who they used to be but who they are now. Because the grief can be so very consuming, there are often things said by the innocent parents in these mixed groups that comes off as wrong, cruel or just too painful to read for the parent who has experienced that grief…

I am over six years out so I don’t get triggered like I used to. Sometimes I will offer a differing opinion and sometimes I won’t when I read a post that reads “wrong” to me. But there was a post today that had me thinking. As I read it something inside me responded intensely. Something screamed NO!! This is not how it works!!! But I could not verbalize why until I had a discussion about it. THEN I got it. This was the trigger sentence – “ For the families who have suffered loss we promise our boys will live their lives to the fullest in honor of your angels.” that got to me.

I am not in judgement of the person who wrote the post. But this concept that she described, I am in judgement of that. There is no honoring my child with your child living their life to the fullest…. Don’t get me wrong, I hope these children have amazing and wonderful lives, as I wish all people to have. When we are fulfilled we make choices in the place of security, not fear, and that is better for all of us on this planet. But her children living their life to the fullest does not honor my child in any way.  The honoring of another is in the work or the giving to others, not in the rewards you receive. Saying I am going to raise one million dollars to honor someone but then keeping it is not honoring anyone but myself. There is nothing wrong in raising/earning/having a million dollars but if you have it and keep it for yourself, you are not honoring anyone but yourself. So please don’t say it is otherwise.

Just about every faith or religion calls upon it’s believers to give to those less fortunate or in need. When you contact the Cancer Society and say you want to honor someone they will be expecting a donation of some kind. You are confused if you believe that living well and doing nothing for others with the gains and windfalls of that life is honoring anyone but yourself.

Saying that in honor of my dead child, you will be happy and live a full life does not actually do anything for me or my child, or anyone else who may face the same experience… But maybe it makes you feel better?

Live your full life and offer up your work and be of service to another, that is honoring someone.

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Stopping a Verbal Tirade of Hate

Video

Some of you may have seen this video already, it’s about a month old. I share it not to shame anyone but as a discussion tool. The video is of a woman in JCPenny’s who lets loose on some other customers because they do something that she doesn’t like. If you haven’t seen this video then it is likely you have seen or heard of something similar happening recently. In this time of intense discomfort, confusion, and fear there are people who are lashing out at innocent people in public. And, I believe that is our responsibility as people of integrity and connection that we do something to point out that actions like this are not only inappropriate but also wrong. There is a simple technique I learned in my years working for the airlines that is powerful in it’s simplicity. I can’t guarantee it will always work but, in my experience, it has helped many a tense situations. I want to share it with you.

When someone is being outrageously rude, cruel or abusive they build their sense of power on those who either silently or verbally agree with them. When someone is speaking in a degrading manner to others they also rely on the fact that many people prefer not to get involved. They rely on the fact that even if others may not agree they won’t actually do/say anything. You can see in the above video people are not actually looking directly at her,  including the targets of her attack. You can feel the discomfort of the crowd.

The simple act that you can do when something like this is happening to you or around you is to become the observer. Stop what you are doing, do not hide your eyes or reduce your energy in the face of this, and look at the person who is acting in this way. When a situation happens in public we are all a part of the energy of the situation. If we are there we are a part of it. I guarantee you that everyone in hearing range of her voice was experiencing some level of emotional response. That emotional response feeds the situation, whether you agree or disagree with what she is saying. If it arouses an emotion, any emotion, you are feeding energy to the situation. When we change our energy, move ourselves from the unwitting participant to the observer, the energy shifts and we empower those around us to also change their energy, including the person who is being abusive. Holding our space without threat to the abuser or anyone else, can deflate the swirl of rage the attacking person feels, to the point that there is no more energy for them to continue. And it just trails off…..

So, simply, choose to disengage your energy from the abusive situation and observe. Turn your full body to the person speaking the abuse, and rest your eyes on them. Make full, unwavering eye contact with them, not as a challenge, but as the observer who thinks “I see you. Do you see you?” This is not an aggressive or threatening stance but it is energetically challenging, because it refuses to participate or feed the energy of the encounter, and it can be humbling to the person who is being verbally abusive. It’s important that you don’t say anything to them. A verbal response could goad them to get louder and more abusive and possibly turn their anger on you. And then you are participating again. But if you remain strong in your space and silently confident in your observations you create a space for the person caught up in their rage/fear to find space in your observation to see themselves and what they are doing. This can often be enough for them to experience their own shame, instead of projecting it on the other person, their target, and they will stop. It is important to note that if alcohol, drugs, weapons or physical violence is occurring the person may be past the ability to reach this place, and, if this approach is to work you would have to be practiced and experienced in holding your space in this way to sway the energy of the situation enough to alter it. Physical safety is always first.

I invite you to practice this response anytime you find yourself feeling uncomfortable or triggered by someone else’s actions/words. Everyone has the ability to remove their energy from a situation and be the observer. All it takes is practice.

So practice. We may need your experience in the future.

We are the ones we have been waiting for. It is on us to do this work.

Here is an article about how silent protest can be a powerful tool.

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I Am Not Unbreakable – Thank You Gilmore Girls

I watched the Gilmore Girls newest season on Netflix Friday. There were some parts I loved and some not so much. I was moved to tears, not necessarily because of the plot or characters but because of the music, or at least one song in particular. It’s at the end of episode 3, if you are interested.

“I know how everyone else’s life

Is supposed to fly by

Then someone turns and says

What about you?

And I stand here

Mouth open

Mind blank

This should have all work itself out by now

The map of my life should be clear and precise

With little red dashes and circles so nice

Showing roadblocks

And landmines

Oh, I am not unbreakable

I am breaking right now

Maybe everyone can’t have the dream

Maybe everyone can’t kiss the frog

Maybe it’ll be me and a dog

And the little stuff dolphins on the floor

And a little dog door

Oh, I am not unbreakable

I am breaking right now

I need to be unbreakable

Somehow

It’s never

Or now”

I sat alone in my living room after everyone had gone to bed and played that scene over and over again because it touched something within me. And I cried. And I cried. And I cried. I know it’s a part of the human experience to hit those spaces in life when we look around and ask “How did I get here?” Thankfully, I hit one of those this weekend.

There is so much in my life that is amazing and wonderful. Loving both of my beautiful boys is one of life’s biggest gifts, as is raising my surviving son. There is so much in my life that has been difficult, exhausting, and lonely. I have worked so hard, since the birth of my boys, to be unbreakable. The demands of the pregnancy, premature birth, death of one son and the continued NICU stay of my surviving son started me on my unbreakable path. Then other losses and accidents and challenges in the following years just grew my need to be unbreakable. I had big demands on me. Not getting up and not functioning is not an option to a single parent, especially the single parent who is caring for a child who faces different/more challenges than the norm. It’s so easy to begin to isolate because of just how exhausting it can be to do anything different. None of this is anyone’s fault, per se, it was me doing the best I could at the time. I created an unbreakable wall that I now find within myself. I did not create it out of fear of being hurt or because I don’t trust other people but because I needed something to help keep me standing up when I was empty with nothing left to give to anyone. I had to believe I was unbreakable or I would fall.

As time went on and life happened, that unbreakable-ness had to get bigger, more solid, and more rigid to hold me up. It is a common spiritual understanding that form follows thought. And so by thinking I had to be unbreakable, I created a metaphorical wall to hold me up, that wall was my physical body. If my physical body continued to stand regardless of what happened, then I really was unbreakable. And I did. I stood through it all. Fast forward to now, my neck and spine are often in pain, causing movement limitation, I have other pain throughout my body and migraines that neither my yoga nor meditation practice has been able to release, and I have added over 30lbs to my frame in the past 3 years.  Whether it was the “right” choice or “wrong” choice is not the point. It’s what I did and it worked – until it stopped working. What kept me upright has become the very thing that has stopped other support from coming in, as walls are also often barriers. I think everything happens when it is ready to happen. I got myself here and now it’s time to change so that I can go further. The unbreakable must break. So that I can transform, heal, and continue to grow.

And the short little song in the newest season of Gilmore Girls fed this understanding to me in a way that I wouldn’t fight it. It hit me right when I wasn’t expecting it. It was presented in a way that I enjoyed (the TV show) so my rational mind was not ready to defend my choices, ego. There is truth, wisdom, opportunities to learn in every moment we are in, if we allow ourselves to see them. (Really there is. Ever ask a question about your life, opened a random book to a random page only to read something that answered your question? Try it if you haven’t. It can be an amazing experience.) I had been asking Life what I needed to know or to do to help with my physical health and to let go of the excess weight I am carrying. I got my answer. I was vulnerable and unsuspecting when this little song popped out of nowhere and played on my TV. I heard it and I listened.

I am breaking right now.

It’s a good start.

fall-apart

 

 

 

Being of Service

When I started working at age 16 I took a job that was common for teenagers, fast food. I was your friendly drive through person. My manager always scheduled me for that position because I had a great smile that made people happy and a strong voice so they could hear me over their cars, music, sound of traffic. At least this is what she told me. 😉 After that job I moved on to retail and then almost 20 years of airline customer service; on the phone, face to face at the gate and ticket counter, supervising multiple gates for arrivals and departures and then finally in the air as a flight attendant. When I left the airline industry my service work did not end. I worked in restaurants serving food and drinks. Then I went to school and learned how to be of service at a different level. I learned how to help others figure out what they want with an intuitive combination of questions, silence, support and celebrations. I learned how to be of service by helping clients feel safe so that they could become calm, quiet and relaxed so to work out their difficulties through stories and metaphors – hypnotherapy. I became a teacher, another service job. While the teacher leads the class and directs the learning, they are in service of their students and support their students to learn, grow and expand. And I am still in service of others in the work I do today.

Being in service of others brings a wisdom and experience to the provider. It can create anger and even rage when taken advantage of or belittled. Being in service of another teaches humility and pride both at the same time. My time in service of others has been some of the most demanding, exhausting, heart warming, frustrating, fun, enlightening  experiences of my life. Those moments helped me to become well rounded, compassionate and strong. I would not trade them for the world. But I sure would have loved to have gotten better pay for the work I did.

We, many of us in the US, belittle those who work in the traditional service industry. They are likely the ones to make minimum wage, with no sick pay or any other benefits. They are often the ones who help care for others. We belittle their character, their intelligence and their ability to hold down a “real” job. I tell you what, it doesn’t get more real than cleaning up someone’s puke all over the restroom after you have already done 7 hours on your feet with a migraine, smiling at people who treat you as though you are less than them….

I remember once, when I was working for the airlines, I was at a departure gate. I don’t remember what exactly happened but I made one of the flight’s passengers unhappy. He looked at me in the eye and sneered “You are in customer service, right?”

I kept my gaze level with his, knowing from his tone he was gearing up to be rude, and answered “Yes.”

I will always remember his response “Well then if you are in customer service, then you are a servant. And since I am the person you are talking to, you are my servant. So give me what I want.”

I paused for a moment to process what he said to me and to make sure he actually said what he meant to say, no correction. Yup, he meant it because then he smiled at me as though he had won. I was his servant.

But then, it just came out. I laughed. It just spilled out of me without forethought and out of control, I laughed. He was shocked. His mouth dropped open and I remember wondering if he had used this line before and it had actually worked? “Sir, Yes, I am in customer service. No, I am not a servant. And no, I am not talking to you any more.” And then I just stood there and looked at him. And I waited. He stood in front of me staring at me for about a minute, probably doing in his head in response to my statement, what I had previously done in mine in response to his. Then finally he told me he would be reporting me and he stomped  away swearing. I smiled to the people around me, took a deep breath and said “Next please.”

Back to my points on being in service of others; to know how to respond to people, work with them, get them to work with you and stop them from taking advantage of you or others is a powerful skill set. That skill set is gained in working in service of others. There is a deep, quiet honor that can come with working in service of others, but if you have never done that you are likely to never know that.

This is why I say –

Never, never, never choose a leader who has never worked in service of others. A leader who has not been in service of others is likely to not see nor understand that they are in service to those whom they are to lead. It is likely they will never work to support nor fight for those who report to them unless it benefits them. The best and most trusted leaders are those who understand service. They are the ones who will be listened to and respected by those who report to them and by default are likely to be much more successful. To be in service of others is to be vulnerable. To know how to be vulnerable is to know how to be strong, truly strong with strength of character.

And now –

My political statement for the moment –

Voting to put someone into government office who has never been of service to others in their career, or their life, is often a mistake because they just don’t get it and it’s unlikely they will fight for, be in service of, you.

Peace ~

Carpet of Bluebells and Winding Path in a Sussex Wood

 

Trust Your Intuition, Let Go of Control

The fact that I am writing this post makes me laugh.

I am a psychic. My job requires that I trust my intuition – And yet – when it comes to my personal life it often seems to be a different story. This is not an uncommon phenomenon and many intuitive/psychic people experience it. When it is about our own lives, or lives of those we love, we often lack the objectivity and neutrality needed to understand, accept and act on our intuitive hits. This is why each of us often have a couple of go to psychic friends to offer that neutral objectivity.  Also many people like to believe, myself included, that when you have an intuition of what is going to happen in life then maybe you can do something about it to change it or improve it…

Well….. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

Anyway back to the story –

One of my son’s (RM’s)  speech therapy appointments is every Wednesday at 1:15p. We drive to the clinic and so he can meet with our wonderful Katy for 45 minutes of reading, singing, talking about stories and practicing pronunciation. Last Wednesday I got a feeling that therapy for this week, the day before Thanksgiving, was going to be canceled. I asked Katy if the clinic was open and if she would be there. She said yes, absolutely. So I said see you next week and let go of the thought.

Fast forward to the next Tuesday, yesterday, night and I get a phone call from Katy telling me that she had gotten an email from her clinic’s scheduling office that something had happened to  my son’s insurance authorization and she was not be able to see him since it would not be covered by insurance. Katy was thinking that maybe we were stopping therapy with her. I told her NO WAY! It had to be a mistake. When you find an amazing therapist for your child you do EVERYTHING to keep them. It was definitely not something that I had initiated. I told her I appreciated her calling me to let me know because otherwise we would have driven to the clinic and been denied therapy once we got there. That would have been a bad scene for my son, last minute changes are challenging for him, especially when he loses something he wants and he doesn’t understand why. It would have set off my mama bear response too as I would ask to speak to the manager, who knows me well. I knew I would have to follow up with my son’s insurance  support coordinator and the manager of the clinic via emails and  phone calls in the morning. Then I remembered my feeling last week of RM not getting speech therapy. Maybe this is what I had been picking up. The therapy session was going to cancel because of this paperwork mess up. Or maybe I was getting the opportunity to address and fix it.

This morning I emailed and called both RM’s support coordinator and the manager of the clinic to discuss what happened. To make a long story short there seemed to be poor customer service at the clinic and a paperwork error with the insurance. But, I had it all cleared up by 10am so that my son could attend his speech therapy appointment later this afternoon…

Within 10 minutes of hanging up the phone I get a text message from Katy, the speech therapist, she was calling out today due to her and her daughter being ill…

And so it goes. My intuition was right all along and even with everything I did to address any problems that came up, my son still did not get his speech therapy today, just like I felt would happen a week ago. But, I now have the clinic manager’s cell number so I can call her directly if there is ever another problem.

Life works in interesting ways.

control

Mediumship Lessons in Grief and Love

One of the most amazing things about the work I do is when I get information that I get to learn from too! When this happens I know the information isn’t coming from me but from a higher wisdom.

Case in point, I spoke with a client yesterday regarding her husband who died almost four years ago. I have been working with her for years and each conversation includes some mediumship work in connecting with her husband’s soul. She was talking about how she felt her grief changing and was finding herself starting to put away some of the pictures of them together. Something that she never imagined herself doing but it felt right now.

At this point I shared what I heard (I am clairaudient, among others, I hear messages) – “This is a part of the grieving process. When you get past the depths of the pain the connection with the person who died will be strengthened. The soul on the other side already feels the connection like that. There is no grief, nor time, nor separation, those are all human creations. So when you move past the sense of grief and separation you have the chance to feel the complete and unconditional sense of love your loved one on the other side already feels.”

As a parent who still grieves the death of one of my sons six years ago, this information made the hair on my arms stand up (I consider this a sign of confirmation) and I felt this information was for me too. The farther I move through my grief, the closer I get to my son’s pure soul. This is a change in perception for me. It is a common statement/belief that once a child of yours dies it is something you never get over, you grieve forever. And I still believe that to be true on some level but this information from yesterday helps me to understand how the depth of my grief might actually have been something that had separated me from my son not something that has kept us connected.

barriers