Tag: Hope

Overcomers: Finding a way through the Darkness

I recently had the privilege of meeting an unusually resilient man named Matt.* He has lived through extreme illness, abuse and hardship, yet remains upbeat, generous and hopeful. As I listened to him recount the tragic details of his life, I often had to fight back tears. But surprisingly, by the end of our conversation, I felt encouraged. Matt never remembers a time when he was totally healthy.  As a toddler he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that caused him to contract one life-threatening...

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A Journey Begins

I’ve taken a bit of time off from blogging. I hadn’t planned to, but everything I tried to write was sounding negative and slightly angry (instead of amusing and decidedly hopeful: which is what I aim for). I decided the Voice and Vision audience probably didn’t need any “angry,” and my boss agreed, so I took a brief hiatus from my usual bi-weekly articles. I’ve never considered myself to be an angry person, but lately a lot of things have been pushing my buttons, making it increasingly difficult...

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Overcomers: Living (Joyfully!) With Multiple Sclerosis

Growing up in the South Bronx, Michelle had an idyllic childhood. Her free time was spent with friends: roller skating, going to the pool and the beach, walking across the bridge into Manhattan. Life was filled with possibilities and every day was a new adventure. At the age of 14, however, Michelle began having difficulty walking. Her knees would no longer bend fully and instead of bending forward, they began bending backward. One day at the beach, as she walked across the sand, she felt as though...

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Frozen Feet

On New Year’s Day my friend Sue and I went back and forth about whether we felt like going to the Mummers’ Parade. (If you aren’t familiar with this event, it is a 116-year-old tradition involving approximately 10,000 people, dancing and/or playing instruments, while wearing wildly elaborate costumes—truly a unique piece of Philadelphia culture.) My husband and I live very close to the old parade route, close enough that we used to hear string band music inside our house throughout New Year’s...

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Overcomers: Parenting Multiple Children with Special Needs

The term “special needs child” is commonplace these days. It’s likely we all know someone who has a child with special needs. It’s understood that parenting a child with special needs is a huge undertaking and a labor of extreme love—the thought of parenting more than one of these unique children at the same time, however, is mind-boggling. Recently, I met Anne*—a wonderfully upbeat woman who has three children—all of whom have “special needs.” As if coping with her children’s difficulties was...

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Silver Linings

A while back I began noticing an epidemic of bad posture—otherwise healthy people of all ages, their shoulders slumped forward, necks craned out in front, heads arriving everywhere a second ahead of the rest of their bodies. (Presumably a side effect of long hours spent hunched over computers and cell phones.) I found myself feeling sorry for these people and wondering if they knew what was happening to them. While shopping one day, I tried on an outfit in a dressing room that had large mirrors...

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The Road Trip

The autumn when my daughter Alison was 19, she and one of her best friends decided to drive from our home in Anchorage, Alaska to visit friends and relatives in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Since she was no longer a minor, Alison didn’t have to get our permission to go; but out of respect, she asked for our blessing. No small undertaking, the mileage for this trip would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2500 miles, many of those on the infamous ALCAN (Alaska-Canada) Highway—notorious...

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Overcomers: Escaping Generational Poverty

Jean grew up poor; her parents were what today would be called “working poor.” They worked hard but only earned enough to get by. They were kind, generous people but did not encourage Jean to rise above their own meager means. Jean’s mother was killed in a car accident when Jean was only 15. Jean suffered from poor self-esteem, which seems to have caused her to fall prey to abusive men. When she married the first—within a year after her mother’s death—her siblings disapproved of her choice and...

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The Staycation

When my husband and I moved back to Philly after 24 years elsewhere, it wasn’t really by choice. I mean it was—in that no one forced us to move—but Philly wasn’t a place either of us ever thought we’d live again. We were used to living in a suburban setting—having some air around us and a bit of separation from neighbors. But our mothers were doing poorly and we felt like being near them was the right thing to do. So we moved. Shortly after coming back here, I went to a farewell party for a new...

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Overcomers: Parenting a Child with Asperger’s Syndrome

Amber had never heard of Asperger’s when she realized something wasn’t quite right with her then three-year-old son, Taye.  Their pediatrician repeatedly told her not to worry; but as a mother, Amber knew better. She spent the next three years scanning the Internet, trying to figure out why her son was so different from other children. When she heard someone mention Asperger’s on a TV show, she immediately went to the computer and searched for the symptoms. What she read made the pieces fit,...

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