a little bird…

A new Thanksgiving tradition for our scattered family members is to write down a
few things for which we are grateful and send them to each family’s household
to be read during the Thanksgiving holiday. Alexis’ items included being grateful for her health (yes, really). The letter below is from her aunt who lives in the mountains. (guest post by Chriseda Crow)

gratitude leaf

Dear Alexis,

I just wanted to send a quick message to tell you that your story inspired a group of 9 and 10 year olds today. 

I volunteer in Kenzie’s class (Alexis’ cousin) on Tuesdays.  I lead them in an activity that has been pre-arranged for the whole school. 

Today, I was asked to read a story about a little bird with a broken wing and then lead a conversation about gratitude and giving.  The students are then supposed to write their gratitude quote on a block of paper that will eventually be put up on a bulletin board for everyone to see. 

But after reading the cute little bird story, I realized that I had a much better real live story that would really inspire a lesson in gratitude.  Your story.   I thought about how I basically just did this gratitude quote activity with family and friends at Thanksgiving, and how your gratitude quote was the most inspiring of them all. 

So I gathered the 21 students (and one volunteer dad) in a circle on the floor and shared your story.  With their eyes wide and mouths closed, they listened contently.  I focused on how after all you’ve been through this past year; you still give thanks for the health that you do still enjoy.  I explained how we all gain joy through different means, but that we can only receive it because we are alive and breathing and our senses allow us to take the joy in.  I challenged them to dig deep and give thanks for the gifts they’ve been given that allow them to experience joy. 

I wasn’t sure how this would go over with this young group.  Last month they had to introduce themselves and say what they were grateful for at Thanksgiving and most of them had some “thing” they were thankful for – video games, TV, a favorite toy, sleeping in, presents for their birthday – things like that. But they really amazed me today.  After hearing your story, these same children wrote things on their paper like – “I am thankful for my hands so that I can write and draw”, “I am grateful for my legs so I can play soccer”, “I am thankful for my muscles so I can hike with my family”, “I am thankful for the love and care my family gives to me”, “I am thankful for my eyes so I can see nature” ….and on and on like that. 

These kids who are seemingly focused on the latest fashions, the coolest new video games, or who’s the most popular – all sat down and really thought about their true gifts and how those gifts allow them to experience their own personal joy.   The little bird story was cute, but it never could have brought out such sincere and meaningful gratitude like your story did. 

Keep inspiring Alexis!  You are changing lives! 

I just love you so much.   I am so proud of the woman you are.  Thank you for being wonderful you! 

With Love and Hugs,

~Aunt Brandi


Mr. Paul

There are a lot of types of Fathers.  There are Dads, Daddies, Papas, Fathers, etc.  You get it.  Today, the focus turns to Stepdads.  But not really.  The focus here is going to be my stepdad.  Or even more specifically,

Mr. Paul.

The reason for focusing on such a specific subtype is because he isn’t a substitute dad or a replacement or average.  He’s the only one I’ve had and the only one I really want.  He’s been here for over half of my life, toughing it out through my pubescent years (yikes) and bravely forging a way through my diagnosis.  The man is contrary, intelligent, sarcastic, steadfast, loyal and more.

Mr. Paul taught me how to ride a bike.  He taught me to mountain bike, has fixed my computer, has made vacations happen… he even went spelunking with me, even though it made him kind of nervous.  We’ve also argued about how to read a map (which is still hysterical to me).  Since January, we’ve become closer, discussing much and laughing over more, mostly when nobody else is around.   He takes phenomenal care of me, makes amazing coffee, and drives the chair magnificently.

Paul is family first.

Paul is a hard worker.

Paul is a researcher.

Paul is… well, he’s amazing.

And he ours.  He makes us all smile.  And laugh.

And he means a whole helluva lot to me.

Happy Birthday, DP.  I love you.

M is for Magical

There’s a special thing my mom and I usually do after a doctor’s appointment that I just love.  We go down an M street from Abrams to 75.  Now, I know not everyone is from Dallas, but there are these streets called the “M Streets” where M pretty much stands for magical.  The houses there are like little cottages with trees everywhere and creeping ivy and leaded glass windows.  We started doing this when I was participating in a drug trial and had to have weekly neurologist visits.  The first street we went down was McCommas, which was a mistake because it is by far the best one.  There is this stretch where it is as though you entered a magical little forest where Hobbits and elves and jovial people live because really, how can you be angry and live there?  You can’t.  Nothing can be terrible enough to make you sneer at your perfect little M house with its red rounded-top door, climbing roses and leaded glass.  This is why the M streets are practically famous and why I have never seen a For Sale sign up.

m street 1 m street 2 m street 3m street 4 m street 5 m street 6

I mean seriously.  How darling.

I would highly recommend taking your own magical journey down the M streets next time you’re in Dallas.  They’re just south of Mockingbird Station and waiting for you.

Have a smile on me, lovelies!!