A condition of survival

Big Ben and Parliament seem the quintessential symbols of orderly British discipline and punctuality.  August, 2005

Big Ben and Parliament, quintessential symbols of orderly British discipline and punctuality.  August, 2005

“If you do the same thing every day at the same time for the same length of time, you’ll save yourself from many a sink. Routine is a condition of survival.”
Flannery O’Connor

One of the most insidiously risky aspects of dealing with chronic illness and frequent hospital trips is the disruption to routine.  Since I’m a person who has never much liked the idea of routine, nor been as disciplined about maintaining a set schedule as Jeff is, I had thought maybe this disadvantage would affect him more than it does me.

But I should have realized that he is far better at creating his own internal routine than I am.   I’m still floundering a bit, feeling overwhelmed and vaguely anxious.  I aspire to the wildly popular British maxim someone unearthed from an old, mostly uncirculated World War II motivational poster: “Keep calm and carry on.”  Unfortunately, I have a hard time answering the question: “Carry on…with what exactly?”

It’s not that there is no time available, it’s that I’m unfocused when I do have time, not certain which of many backlogged tasks should be prioritized.  Life has been unpredictable lately, and the continual adjustments to our schedule leave me feeling disoriented and tired even when I have little to show for the day.

For now I’m just riding the waves, trying to take it easy on myself and hoping things will stabilize soon.  But I’ve learned to have a whole new respect for the value of routine in our lives. Perhaps I’m kidding myself, but I imagine that if and when our lives return to some semblance of normalcy, I will be eager to embrace the structure that has been so intrinsic to Jeff’s life for as long as I’ve known him.

What are your reactions to O’Connor’s quote above?  Do you find routine to be boring or beneficial?  Exhausting or energizing?  Does getting up early make structure and discipline easier?  Or are high achievers just naturally morning people who make it look easier for them than it really is?  Feel free to offer up any handy hints or life hacks that might help me get back on track.

One year ago today:

Govern the clock

 

48 Comments

  1. Julia – It is very important that you “take it easy on [yourself].” Morning people are simply more blessed than others. (Remember the 5-talent and one-talent men had 10-talent men in their lives – the one talent ended up being given to the one already most blessed.)
    Flannery O’Conner represents an opposite pole on the true-wisdom-of-life continuum.
    A study has shown that the population of the world is divided roughly into thirds: 30% are “morning people”, rising early full of energy and motivation. Another third do their best work late in the evening, “burning the midnight oil”, as it were. The final 33-some-odd percent? They honestly can’t say which they are.

    • Eric, did you know there’s an entire body of research based on what has come to be called the Matthew effects (named after the book containing the parable you referred to)? I found out about it during my years of active special education advocacy, while studying the related concepts of learned helplessness and so-called “self-fulfilling prophecies.” Although I learned of it in an educational context, it has many sociological applications. More importantly – it’s a great lesson in humility – “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)

      I appreciate your giving me encouragement to take it easy on my innate body clock. Jeff has always been totally bewildered by my ability to be awake and energized late at night, and equally bewildered by my ability to sleep late in the morning. Years of being forced (as a mother and caregiver) to get up at 6:00 a.m. never turned me into a morning person, but I still hope to learn to like rising early sometime. It might be totally different if I could rise early and go about my own day instead of arranging someone else’s. One reason I end up staying up late is that it’s the only time I can work without interruptions. 🙂

  2. I’ve come to covet a routine. The problem is that everyone’s trying to disrupt. I’m sick of needing to constantly move. I yearn for stability in my retirement years, not hauling my meager possessions up and down flights of stairs.

    I was just getting to like my new condo when my landlord, who lives in an RV out of state, decided we are not compatible. He wants me gone, out of his condo, even if he has to lie, cheat and physically threaten to buy a gun and shoot me. That’s not routine!

    • Bob, that is what Jeff and I so hated about renting. We had a nice home in northern California, with a reasonable monthly payment, and really liked our landlady. But she could never decide whether or not she wanted to sell the place out from under us. We decided that all the hassles of owning, having to buy and sell frequently, were better than not ever being sure we could stay in a home we loved. Be sure to see my post tomorrow – I’ve linked to a video about the Tiny House movement – have you heard of it? You might be interested in that sort of home. Lots of freedom but also a bit of security in terms of not having to move, or if you do, taking the home with you. I think there are quite a few people in Oregon who are involved. BTW – if that guy literally threatened to shoot you, you might want to report him to the housing authority – but maybe not until you have moved out and left no forwarding address. 🙂

  3. I don’t know about the keep calm part, but the carry on I totally agree with, and do follow it. :o)

    • That sounds possible for me. I think I can manage to carry on, but keeping calm is not my strong suit. 😀

  4. Many years ago when I was deeply immersed in my teacher training and studying the psychology of childhood I learnt about the importance of rhythm in the life of the child and how that echoes on in adulthood. Throughout my teaching career and later when I was training new teachers this one facet became even more important as the breakdown of the family and the old life rhythms were increasingly lost to TV Dinners, absent parents and etc. One of the important, health-giving and stabilising things for all people is rhythm. Routine is part of that. Not the boring stuff but the bit you noted – regular activities at regular times. This outer routine is what gives inner stability. It strengthens the will in childhood and can be used to foster that in adulthood. Doesn’t matter if you are an early bird or a night owl – as long as the routine of your day holds some elements that are sacred to you. The time you go to bed and the time you rise. The activities of the first hour, the second hour and the last two hours of the day. How do you get up, how do you prepare for sleep? A day should be filled with activity, rest, fun, concentration, stillness and quietness and social interactions. Each one has their place. Some people need more of one and less of another. As adults we get to choose what we prefer and what is right for us. We sometimes make compromises and that is fine too – it is always a balancing act.

    Does any of this make any sense? Sorry about the long paragraph – this is one of my favourite subjects 🙂

    • Pauline, all this makes perfect sense, and I think it’s so true. Over years seeing Matt through of major surgeries, I have noticed a pattern. I usually do fine during the crises themselves — I guess I live on adrenaline — but sometime around a year later I tend to “crash” from a mental health standpoint, and often this manifests in refractory insomnia that is highly resistant to most attempts to treat it with medication. (During one particularly difficult period where I was literally going days with no sleep, doctors tried 5 different meds with me for insomnia, none of which worked, at least not in ways I could live with.) I did a lot of reading about what is often called “sleep hygiene” and one of the keys is to have a set bedtime routine. I got very vigilant about protecting my sleep and that’s one thing I’ve been able to manage even here in the hospital. But my little nighttime routine (including reading myself to sleep each night 🙂 ) is essential anywhere I go. Needless to say, I plan to take extra precautions to avoid what could be a massive “crash” following the quadruple stress of the past 18 months (including six surgeries for Jeff and four for Matt) and I think part of that will mean setting myself a bit more of a schedule, one that works for me and my totally unpredictable life. Doing this blog has given me that sort of structure; because I post and respond to comments daily, it’s a routine of sorts, and because I schedule the posts two weeks in advance, that gives me a cushion for days when the time to do it just isn’t there.

      I think one of the most dangerous things about being a full time “stay at home” parent or caregiver is the lack of intrinsic structure. I’ve often said that motherhood is the most emotionally risky job in the world, and I think you have hit upon one reason why – we are often pulled in many different directions and everyone assumes that since we “don’t work” we can take care of whatever arises. But as you point out, having that stable presence of a parent in the home who keeps the child’s routine on track is absolutely essential to a healthy childhood. Growing up is hard, maybe impossible, without some sense of a secure foundation.

  5. I do love routine but I take days off with regularity and let go of them. So I guess you could say I do that routinely as well. 🙂 I agree that illness and other unexpected issues in life happen and when they do, it throws me off. Even a vacation can throw me off for a couple of weeks.

    • Vacations do throw us off, but in a good way — I always return home a bit more appreciative of everyday life. As much as I joke about Jeff’s adherence to routine, I know it has been a blessing to me. Without routine I’m like a body without a skeleton.

  6. Holidays affect me badly – I may not do yoga, I tend to overeat, I talk and sleep too much. No wonder on Sundays (our first working day) my weight is half a kg more than the normal weight. Within a day everything will be back to normal. Kids, glued on to the computer, find no time for their bath and studies. The two month summer vacation becomes a nightmare in that way. Having a routine is far better than not having any. But when things go off the track it is better to ‘keep calm’ and move on without trying to resist or discipline it.
    Hope your dear ones are fine. May God bless you with all the required strength.

    • Bindu, we too tend to relax all the normal rules during holiday times, which is one reason it’s always so good to get back into a normal routine. I think for parents the summer vacation can be especially hard. Because Matt was in special education, he went to school during the summers or else he would lose a lot of what he had worked hard to learn the previous school year. Here in the US there is a sort of movement in favor of year-round school, and a few districts have it already. The number of days is usually the same total, but the breaks are divided up into two-week blocks and spaced through the year. I think this makes more sense as most families here are no longer on a farm schedule that requires summers off.

      We are happy here tonight; Matt came home from the hospital! I have a lot of new things to keep up with, beginning with getting his holter monitor (a sort of portable 24-hour EKG) disconnected and sent back tomorrow, then a whole new medication schedule to learn and new meds to organize until they are changed up again in a few weeks. But I will be so happy to be doing these things from HOME. I am looking forward to sleeping tonight without hearing machines beeping all night and early morning! 🙂 Thanks for your kind thoughts and caring.

  7. I embrace routine. As one disabled by polio since age four, routine is exciting and fulfilling. In my younger years I was often out and about. Yet there were routines of a physical nature that were necessary. In putting on leg braces, lacing my shoes, dressing, grooming and taking care of all personal needs that most do with a diverted mind toward what lies ahead in their day.
    Each of these things of routine to me are things of pupose. When we see the value in anything that we accomplish, even the most mudane, routine then becomes a good offering of the day; at which end we can feel a pleasing response from He who is aware of our every move.

    • Alan, these are beautiful thoughts! I hope I will remember this the next time I get impatient trying to help Matt with some new motor task. One of the most challenging aspects of his disability is that he is severely dyspraxic, so learning any sort of motor task requires lots of repetition and practice for him, and there are many that he will never be able to do quickly or with much precision. Most things he is able to master with enough time, but it can be very frustrating for him and us. I think I should try to help him (and us) adopt your way of looking at the challenges; as something that adds meaning and purpose, especially in thinking of it as an offering of the day. I do know that there are a lot of things I don’t take for granted as I did before Matt came into our lives. I can remember after his very first open heart surgery, before he was a year old, for weeks afterward I used to love to listen to his heart beat through Jeff’s stethoscope. Before Matt’s first heart repair, his heart just basically made a sort of slushing sound, not a really strong beat. To hear the difference was wonderful. A normal heartbeat is just one of many things we all tend to take for granted – you have reminded us of others! Thanks so much for being here.

  8. MaryAnn

    Let’s pretend that it is a verb: I do not “routine” well! Enough said?

    • Well you must be doing something right to accomplish as much as you do! But I can see where you are more of what people used to call a “right brain” type – creative, spontaneous and lively. Not a bad way to be. ❤

      • MaryAnn

        Methinks you have a great command of our English language! (translated: I like your adjectives). Thanks for the compliment!

        • Wow, thanks Mary Ann. I can think of lots of wonderful words to describe you 🙂 as can anyone who knows you!

  9. Amy

    Hmmmm offer up hints for keeping on track and disciplined. That question lets me out 🙂 BUT if I get it figured out I will let you know. I can’t even seem to do fun things in an orderly or timely manner so chores etc. FORGET IT!!! How is Matt? I am praying for you all. Please let me know if you need some relief. We love you.

    • I wonder how you can manage to keep your house so clean then? Do the Menehune visit you? I thought they were just in Hawaii!! They get everything done while everybody is sleeping, kind of like Santa’s elves. They live in the forest so maybe some are hiding out behind your home. Send them my way!!

      WE ARE HOME – come to see us and let’s have some tea. Thanks for your prayers – we love you!

      • Amy

        OH I am soooo pleased. GIVE MY LOVE TO THE BOYS!!! Yeah, yeah for rest and home and good health. I pray things continue on an upward path. What a relief just to be home. I will come. Do you have plans for Mother’s day? Maybe we could pop in that afternoon. I am assuming you will stay in Alexandria for a bit but maybe Matt is well enough to travel. That would be great news too. Let me know. I love you all. SOOOO happy. Talk with you soon.

        • Hi Amy, no Matt is not able to travel anywhere yet. Maybe you and I can get together this weekend for your VERY BELATED birthday dinner! Today was wonderful just being home. I have piles of mail to get through and lots of other stuff to do but I’m taking it slowly and focusing on helping Matt get through his post-op routines. It was nice just to sit in our living room with him today. AND to walk outside tonight, with such lovely weather! Talk to you soon I hope.

          • Amy

            We have the youth group tomorrow night to use the ice cream parlor but I will call on Sat. Give my love to Matt and I will plan to meet you even if for just a bit. Take care.

            • Sounds like fun! Have an extra sundae for me. 🙂 Lots of hot fudge.

  10. Sheila

    Julia, I’m hoping that you are home and resting, maybe even reading tonight. Now you must transition back to your home routine. I hope that goes smoothly. I want to shout out a huge “Thank you” for the daily blogs that we received everyday, the replys, and the updates on Matt and Jeff. 🙂 Bill and I often refer to being back to normal, for various reasons….. and then we laugh! Staying focused is my biggest issue right now. I’m somewhere between calm and calamity! 🙂

    • Sheila, we are HOME SWEET HOME and it’s wonderful. Our parallel lives continue because I’m sure FOCUS is going to be an even more enormous issue for me now. As the internet meme goes, if I had a nickel for every time I get distracted, I wish I had a puppy!

      I have a lot of stuff to remember and learn in the next few days, but hopefully it will be easier (at least from an emotional level) now that we are home. The blog kept me from going crazy being stuck in the hospital, where life is a strange combination of anxiety, boredom, interruptions, frustrations and gratitude. I am the one who needs to say a huge “Thank you” to all of you!!! I’m sure you know we will keep you posted. I’m excited about “sleeping without beeping” tonight!!!

      • singleseatfighterpilot

        Two phrases encapsulate my shared joy today. One is by Sheila: “somewhere between calm and calamity” — I love it! The other is Julia’s “sleeping without beeping”. I lost track of Jeff did he have a few nights of “sleeping without beeping” already?

        • Eric, Jeff was home every night but two between Sunday 4/27 and yesterday. He took Wednesday and Saturday nights to stay there so I could get some time away. Before his second night there I became obnoxious about the alarms and told them that they MUST be silenced promptly while Jeff was there – the problem improved tremendously for the remainder of the weekend. 🙂 In fact, he told me both he and Matt slept all night without hearing hardly any. So that was good. It might have something to do with him sleeping more soundly than I do AND with the unreal amount of time he’s spent having to recuperate from being literally at death’s door with those kinds of alarms going off all the time. I was reminding myself that this two weeks, long as it was, was sorter than either hospital stay Jeff for his liver resections (both 3 weeks long).

        • Sheila

          Eric, just another “Sheila-ism” and a “Julia-ism”! 🙂 Right, Juia?

          • That’s right Walter, er, I mean SHEILA!

  11. raynard

    Julia I hear a joke once. ( it can apply to me) How did a famous blind person’s parents punish them? By moving the furnature. My younger sister use to do it when I lived in her house and now my wife does it. Talk about “O.C.D , I really digress now lol be blessed

    • Raynard, I know a lot of women love to rearrange furniture but I’m just the opposite; I tend to like home to stay pretty much the same. I have a hard time even changing out the drapes or bedspreads even though I’m always happy when I finally do. I had a friend once who liked to knock out walls to make rooms bigger too. Every time she and her husband moved they would knock out a wall or two in their new home, or so it seemed to me. It was a mystery to me why anyone would do that but she always got really excited about it. I guess some people crave change more than others.

  12. Julia…PTL for Matt being back home!! Keeping you and family in prayer.
    May you be blessed with strength and rest in the surroundings of your home.
    I need routine and my comfort zone. I also suffer from sleep problems and must keep a routine schedule for sleep and rest. But some nights, sleep just won’t come and I’m totally awake. Since retirement, I’m more relaxed from the demands of time.
    but now husband is ready for breakfast. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Merry. The prayers have gotten us through this. It has been such a great comfort to be home today. I still have problems falling asleep from time to time, but since Jeff got me a Kindle Paperwhite a couple of years ago, it’s like magic, the screen is lit and I can read with the room totally dark and it almost always puts me to sleep.

      For years I have looked forward to being retired with Jeff and having time to do all the little things we don’t take time for now (watching movies, sleeping late, going out for breakfast sometimes, sitting outside, etc.) and I just pray that we will be blessed with more years together. This winter when he was starting to feel pretty good after his 2nd surgery and had a couple of weeks left at home before he went back to work, it was wonderful. He was forced to slow down a little and we just lived in hibernation, a wonderful holiday treat. Thanks so much for remembering us in your thoughts, prayers and visits here. It really does brighten up my days.

  13. Michael

    That is a great line,” Matt came home from the hospital today.”

    I hate routine and any repetitive task, which is why lawn mowing is not my thing- one of the forgotten joys of winter. My worst summer job was working in a cannery where I spent all day pushing a lever- back and forth to fill the cans with syrup. It was mind destroying.
    But I do have my routines- like coffee and toast in the A.M.
    I wonder if meditation or guided imagery tapes would help with your insomnia, like the frog jungle tape you posted a while back?
    “Anxiety, boredom, interruptions, frustration and gratitude,” -sounds a little like the daily grind?

    • Thanks Michael, we are all very happy I was able to include that line! I never thought of mowing the lawn as repetitive (I’ve actually never thought much about it at all) but perhaps Jeff enjoys it in part because of his methodical nature. He is much better than me about remembering to water plants regularly and so on. I think factory work would make almost anyone crazy. I remember hearing a friend who had worked in a GM plant talk about how they would have grease fights just to break the monotony. That’s one great thing about public contact jobs. It can be stressful but it’s never exactly the same because people are so very different.

      We use a white noise machine set to rain sounds which has worked better for me than other types of audio input. During that very difficult period of insomnia in northern CA my friend sent me a CD with “Delta-wave” music on it (very subtle and soothing) which made a remarkable difference. In fact I still have it on an MP3 player and occasionally have used it when I am in noisy hotels. I should probably try it again sometime at home and see if it makes a difference. The primary challenge is keeping the earphones from coming out while I sleep, and keeping the battery from running down. Back when I was using it every night, I would charge it daily and it would get through most of the night.

      Yes, the hospital bears some relation to the daily grind, except that one never gets outside enough and it’s much more monotonous.

  14. Michael

    I often associated routine with the Myth of Sisyphus, rolling the rock up the hill and rolling it back down over and over in eternity- but that is my problem. One thing that helped me is the book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”- wonderful book which talks about turning routines into rituals. Once in a while I get a glimpse of that truth and it does help. Routine can be also a ritual which means even the routine can be a religious experience depending on our attitude.

    • The entire time my kids were growing up, and especially while I was helping Matt get through school, I frequently used the Sisyphus myth as a metaphor to describe my life. I felt it was a perfect summation of why I found it so hard to get up most mornings. I did read Pirsig’s book (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) while we lived in San Antonio, and I found it interesting and helpful. I think routine becomes a blessing to the extent that we see it as a choice and not as something forced on us. I really appreciate what Alan said about how routines — even ones that are imposed from circumstances outside one’s control — can give purpose to daily life and can become a sort of offering.

  15. Carolyn Miller

    I was so happy to read that you all are home. Matt will heal and be feeling great soon. God has been listing to all the prayers that have been going up for Him. You take care of yourself, Matt and Jeff need you. How is Jeff doing with this round of chemo? I am doing okay, just waiting for the 22 to get here and see if my eye is ready for surgery. I sure hope so because my patients are about all gone. You all take care and keep me up to date on the boys. Glad that all the beeping has been left at the hospital. Hugs and love.

    • Carolyn, you have been SOOOO patient about that eye surgery, I surely hope you will be able to put it behind you. Matt got the sweet card and photo. You all look great. Believe it or not my first thought was that it was Jennifer in the photo! Hard to imagine your grandchildren are close to the same age your kids were when we were together. Thanks so much for your prayers. We continue to pray for you too and I am still counting down to our 5-year survival party for you and Jeff in 2017! It’s getting closer all the time. Love to you and Terry.

  16. Michael

    My wife has some issues with insomnia so will mention the Delta wave music CD. She has a Bose portable CD player that might work. Also the white noise -machine is something I have not tried.
    I find the NPR puzzles also good for insomnia.

    • Michael, the particular CD I have is no longer available, and I couldn’t find one that appeared similar, so maybe I should try sending you one of the MP3 files for her to try. I definitely recommend the white noise machine. During my months sleeping on chair beds in a hospital where lights and sounds were constant, I found to my surprise that wearing a sleeping mask on my eyes was enormously helpful. I had not realized how much lights and sounds can prevent healthy sleep for people who are light sleepers. I’m not familiar with the NPR puzzles but when I try to read myself to sleep I always choose something rather dry or literary – no thrillers or lively humor!

  17. Michael

    I think routine becomes more and more important as we age with grace. This is one factor in keeping folks in their own homes for as long as possible before “outsourcing” them. My mom was in a convalescent center her last three years and though she complained constantly about the setting she did have a routine there that she never wanted to break.
    I think the morning people will probably rule the world someday.
    That was an interesting note on the Matthew effect. I wonder what that says about so called gifted programs in public school? Is this or are they part of the process and does leaving some out- accelerate the downward spiral? I will have to ask my son about that in that we works with many,””at risk students” at his alternative school in NYC.

    • I thought morning people already ruled the world? They seem to rule my world, anyway. Don’t get me started on gifted programs. I once had an unbelievable conversation with the DIRECTOR of a regional government-funded agency tasked with providing medical and social services to people with disabilities. I never heard of them doing one useful thing for anyone I knew of, in fact I heard nothing but complaints about them, and of course their excuse was always a lack of funding (though this did not prevent several people from being full time employees there). I asked this director, after he said “sorry, I can’t help you,” how the county had so much money for gifted programs if funds were so tight. He said “parents of severely gifted children can make just as eloquent an argument for their children’s needs as you can for your son.” I told him that I found the term “severely gifted” to be quite odd, but if he wanted to make that argument, I had a “severely gifted” older son who was openly scornful of the need for “gifted education.” I asked him what the eloquent arguments in favor of it might be and he said — I swear I am not making this up — “their parents could say that if our gifted children don’t get the programs they need, they might blow up the school building.” At that point I terminated the conversation as quickly as I could because I realized I was dealing with someone who had no clue despite his supposed PhD and high title. I can’t help but remember that incident every time I hear the program “gifted programs.”

      I’m not saying that gifted education is all bad or never needed, but I do think it’s unhealthy for people with kids anywhere in the top 25% to expect them all to get into Harvard, and to start putting pressure on them to prepare to do that from as early as elementary school. When we left San Antonio – which had the best schools, hands down, of anyplace we lived — Drew was in 9th grade and had seven honors courses, including honors Latin. When we moved to CA there were only 2 honors courses for 10th graders, and no Latin of any kind at any age. Despite this, Drew said moving to the school there was the best thing that ever happened to him from an academic and also from a personal standpoint, and his academic success (and that of his classmates) would argue strongly that they did just fine with no “gifted programs.”

  18. Michael

    My brother in law had a tough time in school with reading, and was later diagnosed with dyslexia. He grew up in 50-60’s era. He was bright enough to get through high school, but never really got into reading much. But he does love comics.
    We spent a year in Australia and they have this test that all kids take in like the 8th grade. This major test tracks students into college bound and or something else. We had some friends- also Americans- spending a couple of years down under. They were so offended when their son was tracked into the non-college group and told to consider a trade- specifically painting. We here in U.S. -all want our kids to be college bound, albeit it seems to be getting better. We kind of forced our oldest into college- and he was not ready, willing or able and had a tough time. He never finished school, but loves his life as a fireman. Australia has a much different education milieu.

    • Michael, I really think we are delusional here in the USA with this idea that everyone has to go to college. There are so many factors at play. When I was a high school graduate I wanted only to have an airline job so I could travel, but I went to college because money was not an issue and I wanted to learn and spend some time “on my own” in a formative environment. People would ask me why I went, as if it was some sort of meal ticket and nothing more. As if there was no reason to go to school unless one “had” to go.

      Yet it’s also wrong to make the opposite mistake and think that college is the only option. There are far too many history-changing geniuses who never got a college degree for any of us to seriously think that’s a prerequisite to greatness, success or a happy life. I think where we get confused is equating education with college. It’s like we have complete tunnel vision about education.

      On the IEP forms for special ed students approaching the end of high school, there is a legal requirement for the team to consider post-secondary options. When we first came to Virginia from California, I knew of several innovative post-secondary programs for people with disabilities in that state, including life skills training, vocational education, etc. I will never forget my first IEP meeting in Virginia, where the IEP team basically trashed the carefully-crafted IEP Matt’s team had put together for his transition years. When they skipped by the “post-secondary” section as if it was not there, I asked them to re-visit it. They snorted and Matt’s new teacher/case manager rolled her eyes and laughed at me. “You think Matt’s going to College!” she jeered. I was almost in tears but I explained to them that in the state I had come from, ideas of post-secondary education were not limited to college, but were more progressive. I felt as if I had been beamed back to the 50’s. When I told Matt’s psychologist that, he said “Would you be referring to the 1850’s or the 1950’s?” 😀 One of my favorite all-time summaries of how the situation in that location was; very validating. I digress BIG TIME here, way beyond anything Raynard can claim! College isn’t for everyone, and thank God for that. We would be in big trouble if it was.

  19. Sheila

    Julia, I’m so glad that I came back tonight to read and comment. I was proud to graduate from high school in 1966 and even prouder to meet Bill shortly thereafter and marry in 1968 before he went to Vietnam in the Navy. I’ll always remember several years later when he introduced me to acquaintance from the “Club” and she asked where I’d gone to school. I told her, but the name of my rural high school was not exactly what she was asking! 😦 At least I remember this for a reason. I guess it’s a determination that I strive everyday to be myself, to be my BEST self! 🙂

    • Sheila, so many women of our generation and older were not expected to go to college at all. Hence people asking me why I went? It’s too bad that a college education became, somewhere along the line, a status issue; whether, and where, and even what (certain majors definitely garner more respect than others, said the liberal arts major). To me, any such snobbery is just another form of ignorance. I’m glad you are able to be who you are despite the (possibly unintentional) put-down from a clueless person so many years ago. I would remember it too. It’s not the sort of thing one forgets.

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