The Warrior (Wonder Woman)

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have been a fan of Wonder Woman for a long time. In the 70’s, Wonder Woman was the one of the few shows we watched as a family. For some reason, my dad never complained when our family sat down together to watch Lynda Carter change into the various Wonder Woman outfits to kick some butt and save the day.

Since then, I have been looking forward to her movie for many years. I have seen countless Marvel and DC movies over the years – and enjoyed most of them – and I could not have been more excited to buy tickets for opening night of Wonder Woman this week. Don’t worry – I won’t reveal any spoilers. I don’t intend for this to be a movie review…in short – go see the movie. It’s highly entertaining.

I do feel compelled to explore why I feel a connection to Wonder Woman – and to describe how the movie made me feel…and to find some meaning about my own life in some way. As I often do, I write to try to figure these things out.

Wonder Woman (Diana) stands for peace and justice. She is the first person to fight for it when no one else will. I got goosebumps when Diana says, “I’m willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.” Having my step-son Eric in my life has made me become a fighter in this way.

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Eric and my Wonder Woman Bobblehead – a gift from his dad (Jerry) who knows me very well.

 

Let me explain. A little more than four years ago, I was a single, divorced woman who always wanted to have a family. I embarked on a journey to make that happen – exploring international adoption, private adoption, foster care…Today, I have a family made up of my partner Jerry, his beautiful twin 23-year-old daughters (Chelsea and Kaitlyn), and his 18-year-old son, Eric, who has multiple disabilities. There are a LOT of stories in the “…”, and a lot to learn from that journey. However, that is not my focus today.

When I think about fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves, I immediately think of Eric. Eric, who now lives with us full-time, is non-verbal. He relies on us to take care of him and his basic needs – and to also be his voice. Having him in my life has changed me forever. Eric’s teachers wrote me a note on the last day of school this Friday where they called me “an amazing mother, and a fearless advocate for Eric.” I cannot think of a better compliment I have ever received.

No one needs to feel sorry for me. In fact, when people do, I am almost offended – like they don’t really get who I am and what I stand for. Eric has brought so much joy and meaning to my life – I don’t need or want anyone’s sympathy. Instead, I want their support and recognition that Eric and other people with disabilities have so much to offer the world – and they deserve to be an active part of their communities. I fight for that every day as Eric’s step-mom and as a board member at his amazing school, PACE Charter school, a program of Pattison’s Academy.

Another thing that Diane says in the movie is this: “It’s not about what you deserve.  It’s what you believe.  And I believe in love.” I do too.

When we make choices from love instead of fear, we make our relationships better. We make ourselves better. One tiny step at a time, we change the world for the better. I believe that each one of us has the power to change the world, and that we should never give up trying. Anger is a fuel – that is certain, but it is a fuel that leaves us on “empty” – more tired than we were when we started. Love is a renewable fuel that not only keeps the tank full, but fills other tanks. It grows exponentially and will never run out.

Since the last presidential race, I have been overcome by “noise” on a regular basis. I try to deal with this noise by focusing on what I can do to live my values, and to try to make a difference in any small way that I can. I try not to succumb to fear by contributing to the noise. It is not easy, and I don’t always get it right – but this is what I try to do. Loving my family and doing what I can to fight for what is right is keeping me centered and hopeful for our future.

As the movie concludes, Diana says, “I used to want to save the world, to end war and protect mankind. But then I glimpsed the darkness that lives inside their light, and learned that both will always be inside them, and that is something no hero can defeat. They must always choose for themselves. So I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now, forever.”

This is my mission too. I may not be a superhero, and I certainly don’t have any special powers. But I do have the most important thing – love, because as Wonder Woman says, “Only love can truly save the world.”

 

Oh Marie!

This is a story about my Mom, Marie, whose birthday is tomorrow. I have told this story a few times this week – because it’s funny, and is such a great example of what makes my mom so special. I will tell it here – again, because it will hopefully make others chuckle…and because I think there is something we can all learn from my mom about the joy of living life to the fullest.

My mom and dad just returned from a vacation that they touted as a “Big Chill Weekend” to visit their friends from high school that they hadn’t seen in many, many years. Clearly, they were anticipating having a fun, and possibly somewhat decadent time with old friends…and that is exactly what happened.

Here is the evidence:

My mother Marie at the tattoo parlor.

The end result. A palm tree.

Mom sent these pictures to all of our family with no explanation whatsoever. I literally was sitting in my cubicle at work when I opened the email, and I may have said an expletive or two out loud when I saw these pictures for the first time. My family’s reactions were so varied – and gave me a lot to think about over the last few days. My brother wasn’t too happy that he would have to explain to his young children how and why “Nina” got “inked.” I saw the pictures and immediately called my father in disbelief to get the story – and was relieved to discover the tattoo was airbrushed…whew!! My sister – the street smart one in our bunch – figured out that it was airbrushed from the picture and was completely nonplussed. My father was and is still trying to garner support from all of us being, in his words, “a united front” in disapproval of my mother ever getting a real tattoo.

As I told this story and sent the pictures around to some friends, I realized that I was doing so with a significant amount of pride and joy for my mom. Yes – my reaction had been authentic – I was relieved she didn’t get a real tattoo. But – I would seriously not have been surprised if she had actually done it – or if she does do it sometime in the future. That is who she is – someone who takes risk, who enjoys having fun, and who frankly doesn’t care all that much about what people think. She is the kind of person who will jump in the water with her clothes on…or will jump in her outdoor hot tub without them (both of these things have definitely happened). Do I want to erase that mental picture from the hot tub?? Maybe. Do I want to erase that memory and the hilarious story that ensued – absolutely not!! My mom is often unfiltered and uninhibited – speaking and acting from the heart.

I have learned so much from my mom about taking risks, about being true to who you are, about being passionate and joyful in the moment. When I tell these funny stories to my friends, I always say that I hope that I am the kind of person who would do the same things at her age. I hope that I take risks, that I am true to who I am, that I jump in the water and enjoy the moment now and at any age the way that she does.

Happy Birthday Mom!