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There are lots of different kinds of love stories.

I’ve written one just for you.

Well, Life has crafted a few for me, and I’ve written one of them down for you. That is if you are a person who has known great love or great suffering. Or if you are a person who has been heartbroken and wanted to keep loving anyway. Or if you are a person who has been face-flat-on-the-floor despairing and gotten back up. Or if you thought you knew all about love and how it was enough to heal everything and then found out it wasn’t, didn’t. And then discovered that somehow that was ok. At least sometimes.

When I began writing this story down almost four years ago now (!), a friend sent me a postcard that stayed on my desk through all the writing, re-writing, editing, proofreading, re-writing, editing…that is the process of writing a book. Here it is:

This quote helped me keep going on the days when I didn’t believe I could. I told my writing teachers, the wonderful Tania Casselle and Sean Murphy, more than once that I thought the book was trying to kill me. Sean gently reminded me I could do hard things; I have done hard things. The hardest of them by far being loving with the never-giving-up-kind-of love we need in our family.

One early reader of my new book said, “While it broke my heart in places (ok, a lot of places for all of you), your story is one of love, compassion, forgiveness, hope and strength to me.” A love story. My love story.

I recently describe it like this to someone:

"I began offering the FASCETS Neurobehavioral Model training that transformed our family several years ago. Parents and professionals told me I was describing a child in their lives they’d never been able to reach. Also, that our family's story gave them hope. I needed to write it down and offer it to the world. I’ve spent the last few years crafting that book to offer hope first to countless families like ours and then to the doctors, teachers, and therapists who try to help along the way. Embedded in the narrative is the Neurobehavioral Model, offering a path forward. Tinderbox: One Family’s Story of Adoption, Neurodiversity, and Fierce Love will be published by She Writes Press in September. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking!"

My family is brave. They’ve let me write the parts of their stories that intertwine with mine, which is lots of the parts! Another couple early readers, Carrie McKean and Eileen Devine, asked me tough questions about that process. It is messy and hard to unravel. What is my story to tell?

I do want a revolution. Like the postcard on my desk talks about. One that leads to people being able to contribute whatever their gifts are to all of us in this human community, making us all richer and more whole. One where curiosity overcomes judgement; acceptance replaces rejection. One where understanding leads to support, and we champion each other’s strengths. That's why I still teach the FASCETS Neurobehavioral Model; it's what the model is all about.

I spent this Valentine’s Day morning breaking up milk chocolate bars into a small pot on my stove. I had already rinsed and dumped bright red strawberries and raspberries onto a green kitchen towel next to the sink. As I picked up each berry and swirled it in the melted chocolate, I tried to swirl in my love for my children, my husband, my parents, my friends.

The plates I created were lots prettier in my mind than they turned out on the kitchen island. Bumpy chocolate instead of smooth, crinkled paper with pink and gold shapes that didn’t really match the plates underneath. The part of me that wants to be perfect cringed. But the part of me that knows what real love looks like thought it was ok and offered them to my loves anyway.

So, dear reader, Happy Valentine’s Day to you. Here’s to love. Even the kind I wrote a book about, saying in one part: “This love was the desperate kind. Wounding to heal…I prayed it would be the strongest, truest love somehow.” Two years ago, my gift to you was my website up and running with my thoughts, work, and resources. Today it is Tinderbox. You can pre-order it here or here if you’d like.

May we all find the spark we need kindled inside ourselves and share it with the world.


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