Grammy Nominated Artist, Storyteller & Motivational Entertainer

Pushed & Pulled

We drove to Memphis on Monday to take James to his first week-long over-night camp at Camp Conquest. That was the easy part. Getting him out of the car, into the cabin and comfortable in his bunk is a whole other story, that involved everything from coaxing to carrying to crying.

As we drove away, the camp leader said,

“Ma’am, in five years we’ve never had to return a child.”

This didn’t calm me like I think he hoped. We left James in the hands of five male camp counselors and I knew that James was going to be pushed and pulled to the max –  to be asked to live for one week – outside of his comfort zone.  I didn’t realize how much I would be too.

As I worried and texted friends this week for comfort, I’ve found myself at a new place,

one that has asked me to trust more than I ever have,

pray with more sincerity and truly have faith in the choice we made. When we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, being pushed beyond our comfort zone, it also brings a new space to discover more of your true self within.

Every day the camp posts photos on their website of the day activities. And every day I would wait with baited breath to see a photo of James, laughing and running and playing. And each day the photo didn’t come. (They sent this one saying, “we got James a wagon to move him in!”)

I was forced to admit that, even eleven years later,

I still mourn the loss of a typical child, I still very much dislike the combination of Autism and Down syndrome,

and I probably always will! When dreams don’t come true, they just don’t automatically go away from our desires. It’s like a wound that never completely heals. I broke my toe during one late-night polka party in the 90’s, and last week I stubbed it on my chair and it instantly brought back all the pain. You can’t deny it.

The only thing you can do is accept and surrender all over again.

And that honesty pulls you into the present and pushes you to what is real. (Just for the record, I hate that this is the way works, but it is!)

So, what do you do when you find yourself out of your comfort zone? What do you do when your job, your relationship, your world asks you to be stronger than you feel? For me this week it came down to very simple things; daily hikes in the park, honest prayers – allowing myself to admit how scared I was – and lunches with dear friends that included dessert!

It’s Friday, and I survived. And James survived. I feel slightly stronger. When I hold him in my arms tomorrow afternoon, only then will I admit that all this pushing and pulling was the best thing that ever happened to us!