Trying to be Duct Tape

Look what Anna stumbled upon while on our School District’s website:

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 8.50.40 AM

In case you missed it – check this out!

 

Jack and I have also had the pleasure of speaking to several classes at South Orange Middle School and are scheduled to speak at an event for CPNJ, a Clinton School fundraiser and a few book clubs. Never did I imagine speaking being part of our journey, but here we are.

I was talking with a friend last week who has a child going through a difficult time with his own challenges, and she said, “I can’t wait to be on the other side of this. I can’t wait to be in a place where I can help other families.” All I could say was, “You’ll get there. It’s awesome!”

We could have reached this place and just lived our new normal, but our family was eager to thank everyone who helped us along the way (our duct tape). I’ve never been great with “thank you notes”, so instead we chose to thank our duct tape by paying it forward – by trying to BE DUCT TAPE.

Whether we are delivering Boxes of Fun (Anna and her Columbia High School friends have taken over, but Jack and I still deliver) or talking on the phone to a newly diagnosed ALD family or speaking to a group of young people about kindness – it’s confirming that we are on the other side AND it’s our way of thanking all of you.

I don’t believe that nature/life has a perfect plan for all of us – I’ve witnessed too much to make sense of that as a reality. What I do believe is that we all have the power to make the most of the lives we are living. I might not always make the best choices, but I will always do my best to help others. If our family can be a little bit of duct tape for someone else, we have done our job.

 

Love, Jess

IMG_0790

IMG_0792

IMG_0793

images-61

Thanks for including me JackO

I was shaking when Dan, Jack and I arrived at Jefferson School this morning. I’ve been a teacher most of my adult life, but that doesn’t mean I’m a natural at public speaking. Standing in front of twenty students and a pile art supplies is WAY different then standing in front of over a hundred people with nothing but some notes and a copy of Smiles and Duct Tape to protect me.

I’ve now had a few opportunities to speak in front of audiences. I keep thinking it will get easier, but I still feel the adrenaline racing threw my blood and every bit of my body trembling. I wonder if that ever goes away . . .

images-51

Luckily, this audience was kind.

There were a few familiar faces in the crowd, and I could see Jack and Dan sitting in the back of the library. Their smiles always give me strength. So, once the kids arrived and settled themselves in their seats, I dove in and the talk seemed to go well.

When I was approached about talking to this group of fifth graders, I wondered what I would talk about. February is “Kindness” month at Jefferson. I am pretty nice (unless you bring out the Scorpio in me), but any expertise I have in kindness has been earned because of the kindness that our family has witnessed over the years.

Today I talked a little about what our family has gone through and all the wonderful ways people showered us with kindness. I discussed how people can be kind and how kindness is contagious. I even shared a passage from Smiles and Duct Tape. I’m proud to announce that I maintained the attention of a room full of fifth graders for almost an hour – FIFTH graders!

Once it was time for Q&A, I was shocked by how many thoughtful questions were posed about our family, about ALD, and about Jack. Everyone seemed very interested — did I mention they were fifth graders!?! It was a remarkable group.

We ended the presentation by introducing Jack and he showed-off by presenting everyone his favorite (and only) sign – LOVE. Honestly, I’m pretty sure that alone would have made the day a success;)

images-10

 

Jack then gave each person a high-five as they left the room. I did most of the talking today, but Jack is the real teacher when it comes to kindness. I’m just lucky that Jack includes me in his speaking engagements.

Love, Jack

img_0558

the talking dream

I remember the first time I heard my voice on my father’s mini-tape recorder. I was about four, singing Itsy Bitsy Spider. It sounded so strange. He’d taped me just minutes before, but I still questioned if it was really me. Although we live in these modern times full of videos, I’ve managed to avoid them. Not even our wedding made it to VHS or DVD or HD or whatever they’re calling it today. So, imagine how I felt when I sat down and watched myself sharing my story,  The Talking Dream, at Listen to Your Mother.

A few comments:

1.) Bangs don’t translate well with overhead lights.
2.) My hands move in a way that makes me uncomfortable.
3.) I play with my wedding band obsessively.
4.) I’m not a pretty crier.
5.) All this, and I’m still proud.

Check out the rest of the cast — I shared the stage with a talented crew!
Love, Jess