Two Sides of the Same Bad Penny

Two hands held outward and full of pennies.

                        I live with a person who struggles with the next, or even the first, step. His pile of things he needs to get done keeps growing higher and higher, and now the messy tangle of to-dos is too daunting to even know where to begin. So he sits there in a very dark place, berating himself for his lack of progress. He calls it, “self loathing.” I am a person who can’t let things … [Read more...]



1-30-21 Sometimes I’m that kid in the photo: I go outside and twirl with my arms outstretched, in awe, and gratitude of a particular gorgeous day. It always raises a smile from my wife, Gina, so – job done. Sometimes I express my gratitude into a Gratitude Journal. It prompts: “What are you grateful for today?” and “What are you grateful for in your life?” To the first, the responses vary, though there are definite themes: the birds singing; the author who wrote this excellent book I’m … [Read more...]

A New Year

New Year

A New Year Goodbye 2020, and good riddance. We will not miss you, nor ever forget you. You are indelibly stamped on our psyches and through our losses, our dis-ease, our months upon months of isolation. Here comes our chance to have a better year, though the harsh realities of 2020 will not fade soon, or soon enough. I propose some New Year Resolutions. Realistic ones, like, I will endeavor to: Eat better and healthier foods Be more patient with my children, spouse, parents, … [Read more...]

Open to Gifts

two hands upheld, as if accepting a gift

  11/16/20 Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into “those who offer help” and “those who need help.” The truth is that we are both. – Brené Brown, from The Gifts of Imperfection This year has not been the best of years. I think most would agree, even though most of us agreeing on something is pretty rare these days. But during this year of dis-ease and … [Read more...]

Leaning into the Pause

A picture of the world as a globe, and a hand next to it as if to say, stop.

Just pause. It sounds simple, but in many situations, it’s very hard to do. I am an implementer. If I’m asked to do something, I’m on it. Lickity-split. Pronto. Edit a document? Already doing it. Write a letter of recommendation? Give me an hour. Email in my inbox? Answer sent. Voicemail? “Hello, this is Ned Andrew, returning your call.” My natural anxiety has not allowed me to pause. To wait. To consider. To reflect. To look before leaping. To give the universe a chance to chime in. (My wife … [Read more...]

The Right Thing

PD: There is an image of a beautiful blue and black bird who has landed on a flat dish bird feeder in the middle of winter. The feeder is covered with snow and the bird has selected a peanut in its shell to eat holding it firmly in its beak.

  The birds in our backyard know the right thing when they see it, or feel it. Landing on the tube feeder filled with a blend of white millet, black oil sunflower, striped sunflower and safflower seeds, they select one, determine its weight, and decide whether its nutritious enough to ingest. If not, it gets tossed aside. But that’s okay too, because a different breed of bird, who scavenges primarily on the ground, will discover a treat waiting there. As I set out to write my … [Read more...]

Who Do You Know?

Two puffins chatting with Who Do You Know? above them.

Each of us has the power to build a bridge. A few months ago, a young lady with an intellectual disability – let’s call her Angela - reached out to me. She was being served by an entity that was having some difficulty finding her an internship that suited her. Angela knew exactly the kind of work she wanted to do. It was a job where she could envision her future. Angela had the self-advocacy thing down. She called me. She said, “Mr. Ned, I need your help.” Angela and I already had a … [Read more...]

In Search of a Calm, Familiar Place, through Technology

Bernie with laptop

One of my earliest memories of my stepson, Bernie Lynette, was him sitting in his pajamas, staring straight into his computer screen on Christmas Day, 2009, his back to the rest of the world. We were at my parents-in-law’s home in Sevierville, Tennessee. It was crowded and noisy, and the living room and kitchen where we all gathered in proximity to Bernie was a bustle of activity. Food and coffee were being made; wrapped gifts were being placed into position; relatives from several cities and … [Read more...]

Living in a Smart Home

Kate at the Enabling Tech House

When my Council colleague, Mildred Sparkman, and I quietly walked up to the back door of the Harrington House on Stewarts Ferry Pike, the house already knew we were there. In a gentle and courteous voice, the house spoke to us and invited us inside. Mildred and I entered, a little cautiously – was this a prank, or a perilous scene in a horror movie? Neither, fortunately. It was just Kate Adams, Enabling Tech Champion for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), … [Read more...]

Hand in Hand: Preparing for a life well lived

Will McMillian, a graduate of the Hand-in-Hand program at Pope John Paul II High School, has a job at the Green Hill Y in Nashville, TN on Wednesday, 23 January 2019.

In 2004, John Paul II High School embarked on an experiment: could students with intellectual disabilities attend school with typically-developing peers in a rigorous, Catholic scholastic environment, and not only co-exist on the same campus, but become fully immersed and accepted members of the school community? The answer must have been a resounding “yes”, because the program is still going strong and boasts a full roster of graduates, and a second Hand in Hand initiative is under way at … [Read more...]