Comic Sans

Font of Choice

(Author’s note: I am working with WordPress to be able to select different fonts for each blog. Till then … )

When I was teaching, my font of choice was Comic Sans. I know, I know. I can feel the derision creeping through the interwebs.

(It helps if you read this with a slightly snotty tone.) “Comic Sans? Times New Roman! It’s just the way we do things around here. To use anything else, is just gauche, childish, even slightly moronic.”

And yet I knew that many of my students hated Times New Roman. The slightly menacing neutrality of it all made it something that I didn’t want to come from me, and besides, students were only expected to use it for one type of assignment – final drafts, where the power of their writing had to come from their words, not their fonts.

I have been struggling with the power – or lack of power in my own words for months now. As I carefully walked down the stairs to the kitchen a couple of  mornings ago at my usual 5:10, one of the voices in my brain said gruffly,” You’re not writing much of anything that I can see … Why don’t you try the font thing.” I sighed. Sure, why not? Nothing else is helping it. I changed the font and set about making tea.

A cup of Earl Gray now resting beside my left hand, cooling in the small orange fox mug – a Christmas gift from Matt when he was a barista in college – a bowl of cereal and way too much banana, and people were being introduced …  No, wait. I apologize for that. I fell asleep a little and that was part of my dream.

If you know a sleep-typer, cut them some slack. There is nothing like waking up from a nightmare and wondering if you did a search for people’s names before handing in a financial analysis.

I glanced at the clock … Wow! I was actually writing. And it wasn’t crap. It wasn’t poet laureate, but hey. I closed the docs I was working after a couple of hours because I was going fast-walking with one of my heroes, Claudia, and her goof-head dog. If you had asked me when I closed my computer how I broke the writer’s blockers, I would not have guessed in a million years that it would take my brain chastising me about a font.

It is an example, though, of the scattered nature of my life since April. The “Reader’s Digest, in a nutshell version” is that 1) the “complication” of the first surgery – my right temporal bone (my skull) that had been fractured when I fell in December 2016 was broken again. Worse than before. My recovery from this new fracture has been difficult and has impacted the healing of all other aspects affected by the surgery.

Direct brain stimulation has not had the desired effects we had all hoped and prayed for. A bright spot – the cramping of my right leg and foot are almost completely gone, for which I am truly grateful. However, the freezing, balance troubles, gait, swallowing, and breath control are all worse. Known side effects, yes, but not what one expects to be the overriding outcomes. The surgery I had prayed would bring dance and sailing back into my life has so far failed.

I am not giving up yet, though. I am working hard, making some changes, and practicing my compartmentalization skills. There are other parts of my life that are exciting and happy.

Because,, OH! I am moving … again … I can’t believe it. This time, though, it’s into a condo I am buying! The first house I’ve ever bought by myself!  I call it a house because “house” and “home” are synonymous to me. It’s in a 55+ community, with a nice golf course, tennis, pool, club house, the works. And I will have large windows with south and east exposure, lots of sunshine, walls I can paint, a kitchen I can re-do, and even though it’s on the second floor, it’s one level, reached by only 8 stairs. Not the 18 I’ve been climbing up and down since April. (Don’t ask.)

And I am getting a service dog. I was not able to keep and train Friday, even though he was (is) smart, loving, and gallumpy, he’s also amazingly distractable from what he needs to pay attention to (me, and people in general) but equally and oppositely focused on that which he should not pay attention to (leaves and birds).  

My service dog will be trained when we are matched, and he or she will continue training with me after. I will talk a lot more about this soon! I’m very excited!

Then there are the usual ridiculously scary co-morbidities that haunt me, however, compartmentalizing and realizing a few things go a long way in the Land of Coping Mechanisms.

The retina in my left eye will always be damaged, but there is no new damage or inflammation. (good) The front of my eye is now inflamed and we don’t know why. (bad) But I’m on really powerful eye drops! (good)

My lower back is still super painful and is still shooting pain down the backs of my legs, causing numbness and all sorts of not good feelings. (bad) And we’re not exactly sure why or where it’s coming from. (bad, again) But I’m working with some amazing professionals, including my friend, Kimberly, and I’m modifying. (good) I’m learning that “modify” is not the same as “lessen the intensity” it just means, “Don’t be an idiot, Janie.” (good)

There will be more updates as changes occur, and as long as I can keep the blockers in their places.

P.S. It’s going to be a different Thanksgiving this year – what with the moving and all – but I don’t need a holiday to remind me to be thankful for all I have been given.

I am alive.

I am not blind, I can still see.

I will always be able to love. (my sons, my family, my friends from all circles, my friends I haven’t met yet)

I will dance again, somehow.

I will be by the water and as close to on it as possible.

I can still laugh and smile and share and comfort and advocate.

Happy Thanksgiving 😊 What are you thankful for?

Be Your Own Tiara

By Jane Miller

My life is turning out neither the way I planned it, nor dreamed it.

I dreamed of happy. Of belonging. Of place. Of love everlasting.

Of a tiara.

I have always wanted a tiara. A sparkly symbol of something … I don’t know. Acceptance? Esteem? Beauty? Altruism?

One year, as we were searching for decorations for the prom, my students found an old box up in the attic of the high school in Gold Beach. A veritable cornucopia of prom treasures. Sashes. Gold pins. Glitter and sparkles. And … a tiara. I put it on to a round of applause.

I wore that tiara all day. Then I put it away. After all, I did not earn it. No one voted for me. I didn’t inherit it from some other princess. I found it in a dusty old box.

Someone once promised to buy me a tiara. It never materialized, so I stopped asking and I did what I should have done years (decades) ago.

I bought my own tiara. The tiara doesn’t have a name the way many of my favorite objects do. But it is sitting in a place of honor atop Molly’s head on my jewelry box.


Last fall, my Sole Support for Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon team was comprised of friends from near and far. We ranged in age from 70-ish to four. From 6’ 7” to 22”. (The four-year old was Lily, daughter of my sorority sister, Christy. The 22” was Nettle, a lovely golden retriever.) In addition to the tutus we all made, I made bracelets for the team to commemorate the walk and thank them for their love and friendship. I even made one I hoped would be small enough for Lily.

The bracelet for Lily was big, and early on she began to play with it, causing it to slip up and down her arm. Christy matter of factly notified Lily that the bracelet had been a present from “Princess” Jane and she had better not lose it. Lily’s eyes widened as Christy went on to explain.

“See?” she asked, pointing to my tiara. “Princess Jane is a real princess, she has a tiara. She gave you that bracelet, and you need to take care of it.”

Not being privy to this exchange, I began to wonder why this lovely little girl kept stealing surreptitious glances my way. Lily wore that bracelet all day, taking care that it didn’t slip off her wrist, making sure nothing happened to it.

The walk began, and shortly into it, Lily made it known that she was no longer enamored with this whole 5K idea. Christy made it known that she was not about to schlep a 4-year-old around the streets of Portland.

“Look at Princess Jane,” Christy explained. “If she can walk, so can you.” Lily cast glances my direction throughout the brief walk, my migraine causing me to cut my participation short.

After our walk, we sat at picnic tables, snacking and talking about our day – the vendors, the crowd, the joy of friends you’ve known for almost 40 years. Christy began taking pictures of Lily as she stood between the tables, still resplendent in her tulle tutu, numerous leis, and bracelet.

I walked softly over to Lily and knelt down to look into her eyes.

“Lily, would you like to wear my tiara for a little bit?”

img_4638Her small hands went to her mouth as she almost trembled with excitement. She looked to Christy, then back to me, and nodded just a touch. I took the tiara off my  head and placed it gently atop hers, making sure it was perched snuggly.

Lily stood rooted to her spot, as if the slightest move would break the spell. Christy kept taking pictures while I quietly talked to Lily about tiaras and princesses.

How Lily could have a tiara of her own. How important it was to be a good princess, help other people, and be kind. She nodded but didn’t say a word.

After just a few minutes I sat down while Lily continued to stand straight and tall. Then she pivoted ever so slowly and carefully toward me, took the tiara gently from her head, cradled it securely in her tiny hands, and gave it back to me.

“Thank you for taking such good care,” I praised her, then whispered, “Are you sure you don’t want to wear it more?”

Lily gave a quick shake of her head, smiled again, and went back to her mother. Christy knelt down and hugged her, as Lily started to recount the story of how she wore a real princess’ tiara.

Lily will someday know that I am not a real princess. But she will also know that you don’t have to wait for someone to give you a tiara. You make your own tiara every day of your life.


Be responsible for those who depend on you.

Be kind to all.

Be a person you would be proud of.

And I have realized that I DO have what I dreamed of.