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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Yesterday, this little blog took in more than 300 site hits after I posted Life Unraveled, my perspective on being interviewed by The Independent Florida Alligator about how Will’s needs and the current state of disabled affairs in Florida are just not compatible. After the newspaper article and blog post ran, friends and family started sharing these links via social media, and I checked in periodically throughout the day, trying to make sure I saw each post that was visible to me so I could thank everyone for posting and thank those who offered comments of support, good wishes, and prayer.

Then, something truly remarkable happened. People I don’t even know started sharing the links and donating to our fundraising link. They were touched by our story, moved to action, and began posting on their own walls, sending me Facebook messages directly or through mutual friends, and offering their help. I cannot adequately express how overwhelming it is to have such love, positive energy, and support coming our way, to know that so many people want to help me help my son. The response has been more than I could ever have anticipated, and I am so tremendously grateful to everyone who took the time to read about our little family, share the blog and newspaper article, donate to our fundraiser, post messages of support, and offer ideas and suggestions of their own.

So much has happened, I realized I need a place to list all of the incredible things we have going on. So this post, “Gratitude,” will be the place to see all of the ways people can and are helping us, and I will update it as events change, start, and end. If you’re so inclined, please share this with people who have asked you how they can help us.

Current and Upcoming Events:

November 10th – 15th, shop with Body by Vi!

Katherine Edna Boyette is a Body By Vi representative. I’ve never even met Edna; she reached out through my friend Stacey Steinberg. But Edna is contributing to our moving fund by donating her commissions for 6 days. Here’s the post she put out on Facebook: “A chilly Saturday Morning to all my FB friends. Since November 1, a lot of you have been posting what you are thankful for. Many says family, friends, healthy children, etc. I myself is thankful that I have a family that supports me and that I have a healthy daughter who is now living her life helping others via Peace Corps. But then some of us are not that lucky. If you want to know what I am talking about, please take some time to read the blog post of my friend Tara Fitzer Cohen. Her blog says it all –https://inappropriateoutburst.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/life-unraveled/. To help Tara, I am running a fundraiser starting November 10 to November 15, 2012. All of my 10% commission will go to Tara. If you want to help, all you need to do is to purchase any challenge kit from http://healthybody.bodybyvi.com/. With your purchase, you are helping Tara and at the same time you are giving yourself a gift of good nutrition. You can share this site to your friends too. I hope that you can find in your heart to help support this fundraiser.”

December 2nd or 4th (TBD): Join us at Corks And Colors in Gainesville!

Rebecca Barborak owns Corks and Colors, a painting studio in Gainesville where plenty of my friends have had super fun Girls’ Nights Out! I don’t know Rebecca personally, but still she Facebooked me and asked if she could do a benefit night for us! Corks and Colors will provide all of the supplies and donate 100% of the proceeds to my moving fund. With 34 seats available in the studio, at $30 a head, we could raise nearly $1000! Please let me know if you’re interested in joining us, which of the two evenings listed above work better for you, and check back for a Facebook event link once the date is set. 

 

Ongoing Ways To Help

You can also help by hosting an online or in-home Thirty-One party with me! Read more about being a hostess (and see all the great freebies and discounts hostesses get!) by clicking here: Tara’s Thirty-One Page! Of course, not everyone has time to host, even online, but pretty much everyone loves Thirty-One! So please consider doing your holiday shopping with me! I have started a “Tara’s Moving Fundraiser” link in “My Parties” (top left of my Thirty-One page). I will run these special fundraising parties for two weeks at a time so no matter when you order, you won’t have to wait too long for your items to ship! Please consider sharing this information on Facebook and letting your network know that Thirty-One has awesome holiday gifts! Plus, for all purchases through November 26th, you’ll earn a Medium Utility Tote for just $5 for every $35 you spend! Thanks!

You can donate to our move directly via PayPal at taracohen@yahoo.com, or you can donate through our GiveForward link at http://www.giveforward.com/helpingtara

What We Need:

If you’re local or will be in the area, we still need more moving boxes! Please email me or comment here to connect. Do you own a business? Please consider breaking down and setting aside your incoming shipping boxes for a few days for us! 

I am still looking for work. I’m continuing to take new clients through JayBird Media, but I am losing my health insurance in our divorce, and I need a consistent income to support my kids, so I’m looking for a “normal job,” ideally in the Los Angeles area. However, there ARE other places in the country where we will consider moving for the right job because there are many other places with equally outstanding autism services. As well, in marketing and social media, companies often offer telecommuting options due to the nature of the work. So if you know people in marketing and social media, or people looking for services in these fields, please consider connecting me with them no matter where they are located. My portfolio is available on JayBird Media, and you can learn more about my professional experience via LinkedIn

Most importantly of all, please know that I am nothing short of tremendously grateful for every single person, every bit of help, every prayer, every kind word, every burst of good energy that comes our way. My village is astounding, and my heart is full. I will truly never be able to feel I’ve paid this love forward enough. But I promise to try. 

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Will is on the couch fidgeting in his peripheral vision with a piece of frayed green yarn, artfully and very deliberately coated in masking tape by my hands under Will’s nonverbal instructions. Julia is watching Madagascar 3 for the thousandth time, and Marty, my soon-to-be-ex-husband and the kids’ loving dad, is in the kitchen blessedly making coffee. And me? I am at my desk, thinking about the article that ran about my little family in this morning’s Independent Florida Alligator.

Will was around 3 in this picture, but it’s one of my all-time favorites.

The reporter, Colleen Wright, a UF sophomore, showed up last week at my garage sale, having heard that my goal was to raise money so I can move to California where, while I don’t expect to arrive into some kind of Oz filled with free speech therapy centers on every corner, there are most definitely a lot more options and available, affordable, accessible services for a child like my son, Will, who, at 7 and a half, is nonverbal (we always say “preverbal,” because we remain hopeful) and has autism, OCD, sensory integration dysfunction, and a host of chronic health challenges. Wright questioned me for an hour that morning, respectful and inquisitive, but clearly with no background in autism.  (more…)

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The first time I ever spent my very own hard-earned money for something special, I was eight. Having pretty much never paid for anything in my life, I’d saved up quite a few dimes from my weekly 20-cent allowance (earned through such thoroughly backbreaking activities as feeding the dog and setting the dinner table). I spent an evening counting the disgorged contents of my yellow ceramic ducky bank, stacking until I had 17 neat little towers of ten dimes apiece. I was feeling fairly full of myself for having saved such a fortune, quite adult and responsible, and then I begged, badgered, and bugged my mom until she agreed to take me to Toys ‘R Us.

When we finally arrived at that Nirvana of Plastic Kids’ Stuff, I rushed to the Barbie section where I found her: a “Loving You” Barbie Doll. She was the most magnificent Barbie I’d ever seen. Lavishly shod in the equivalent of 6-inch white Stripper Heels, Barbie wore a puff-sleeved, heart-dotted, ankle-length white chiffon gown with a breath-defyingly tight red velvet bodice. She was bedecked in gigantic fake ruby earrings and a matching ring that was, in reality, a plastic red dot on a stick that went through a hole in her hand and got lost in my brown shag carpet within the week. She was a living Valentine with Barbie’s trademark blonde hair in an I-Dream-of-Jeannie ponytail. She was gorgeous and perfect and completely inappropriate for playtime. I absolutely had to have that doll. (more…)

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Not long after my son Will was diagnosed with autism just shy of his second birthday, someone sent me this little bit of prose called “Welcome to Holland.” It basically equates having a special-needs child to having your travel plans messed up. Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait.

(Insert favorite muzak here.)

Done? Ok. So, when I first read “Welcome to Holland,” our whole household was in crisis. About to have Baby #2 (aka: Julia), we were grasping at straws, looking for any kind of comfort or hope or promise that there was some light at the end of this tunnel. No, not even that. I was just looking for someone to tell me we were truly in a tunnel and not, as I feared, in an inescapable abyss. In that desperate state, “Welcome to Holland” seemed like a really nice little anecdote. I thought it had been written by a parent of a child with autism (I was wrong), and I took her words to mean that things do get better with time and acceptance (I was right).

So, time passed, and my feelings on this changed. And by “time,” I mean about three weeks. And by “changed,” I mean that when I reread the Holland story, I thought something along the lines of, “Screw Holland. This story is a complete load of minimalizing crap.” From then on, whenever anybody started recommending I read this very lovely bit of Pollyanna-style, all-things-happen-for-a-reason, the-world-is-made-of-marshmallows, illogical bullshit, I simply declined. Pressed for my opinion on the essay, I said it reminded me of a religious answer to a scientific question: it sounds really nice and makes sense…if you don’t really think about it too hard.

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As a little girl, I kept a diary. I entrusted my deepest secrets to this silent confidante, my safe haven. My diary was a mute therapist, a free space where I could speak my mind without shame or fear or reprisal. My diary was a little hidden piece of me, tucked away in the dark recess beneath my headboard.

My childhood passed into adolescence, and the stack of flowery little diaries gave way to a neat pile of black-and-white Composition Books straight out of a 1950s high school movie. My diaries had become journals. My journals had become a project. And along the way, I had become a writer.

Today my old diaries and journals are stored away, rarely opened but always held onto, tied in bundles with red satin ribbons, living in perpetual safekeeping like so many baby photos and pressed flowers. I doubt I’ll ever let them go. They are little, written portraits of me. And, when, on rare occasions, I look back at them, I notice one overwhelming trend that holds true from my 4th-grade, Holly Hobby, lock-and-key, 40-page mini-diary to my leather-bound traveler’s journal from my senior year of college: They’re all incomplete. Every single volume has at least one big, huge time gap.
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By Tara Cohen

I talk about sex. I talk about politics. I talk about religion. I talk about race relations, health care, family dynamics, social networking, autism, aerobics, child birth, breast feeding, diaper rashes, potty training, and baby snot. I talk about vaccines and cloth diapers, computers and blogging, insurance and therapy. I have weight issues, food issues, and volume issues. I am tough to embarrass, easy to wind up, and hard to shut up. So when I start talking about colorectal surgery, it’s safe to say that the couple at the next table is officially done eating. Now.

And that’s exactly where I found myself earlier this week: two chocolate martinis into a girls’ night at a local restaurant, discussing the not-so-finer points of pregnancy-related hemorrhoids. Given the inverse relationship between my ability to keep my voice down and the number of drinks I’ve had, it’s safe to say that any teenager within 30 feet received the absolute best possible dose of reality-based contraceptives money can’t buy.

As the topic morphed from pregnancy and childbirth to family dynamics and in-laws, almost everyone had a story to share: In-laws who show up with no notice, adult siblings who ignore their own kids, manipulative mothers, parents who don’t make time for the grandkids. I was struck by the realization that there was a single common message all of these women wished they could get across to some family member or another: This is not about you. And this made me think of my father. Cue flashback…

I failed my Driver’s Permit test the first time. By one point. I reacted much as one would expect from any healthy, well-adjusted, typical 15-year-old girl: with utter devastation and certainty that no such injustice had befallen anyone, ever, in the history of humankind. I was crushed that I would have to wait yet another month before learning to drive, incredibly disappointed in myself for having failed, and mortified that all my friends knew I’d gone to the DMV and would be asking about it the next day at school. I went across the street to my boyfriend’s house to commiserate. He and his mom reassured me that I would eventually get my Permit, that this was a temporary setback, and that it happened to a lot of people. Though grateful for their love and support, I was, after all, a teenager. I had an inherent, hormonal need to mope. So I headed home and slumped upstairs to sulk, turning up Morrisey or The Smiths or whatever other maudlin mood de-hancer I could find in my mix-tape cassette collection.

Now, for me, time is both a magnifying glass and a fun-house mirror. While some events fall into sharper relief over the years, others are distorted, twisted, and bent to the will of memory, viewed through percolated bias. The majority of my life is documented in the cerebral equivalent a dollar-store paint-by-numbers book, narrated on a dubbed-over cassette tape. For the moments of greatest emotion and consequence, however, my grey matter has its own digital widescreen home theater on which to play its hi-def-and-surround-sound-mental-blu-rays.

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By Tara Cohen

The next person who tells me that God chooses special parents for special-needs children is getting smacked upside the head. That’s it. I’m done being polite. Without question, that is one of the least helpful, most aggravating platitudes with which I, as a special-needs parent, am assaulted on a regular basis. There is an endless list of them, including, “Isn’t he so lucky God gave him such a wonderful mother?” and, one of my favorites, “Oh, God has a special, special plan for those children, I just know it.”

Let me offer one caveat here: I am a Jew. I am also an atheist. And no, I don’t consider the two mutually exclusive. It all really depends on definition and semantics, but the upshot is that I don’t believe in God or Christ, nor am I into being Saved or Blessed or Reborn. It also means I am not big on having other peoples’ religiosity poured on me like so much boysenberry syrup on my perfectly unsullied blueberry pancakes. Cultural religion and atheism can blend for me. But having a special-needs child and having God in my life, those cannot exist in tandem. And since the kid is here to stay, God is out.

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