My Holiday 2016 "Letter to YOU!"

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Mardy Ross's picture

It's the morning of winter solstice, as I write this and look ahead to the ending of 2016 and having a NEW YEAR, a new calendar, and another "trip around the Sun" we'll take --- together. The election of the US President this year was like none other, and clearly indicates we're having some sort of revolution.  Naturally, the world watches and waits, as nothing affects the United States without affecting them / the world.  I reflect on the past year, since last solstice, last Christmas, last New Year's, which is now the old, and am so "Grate-Full".  LumiGrateFull. This year I had time with O'Rio Grande to stop by Chow Down Pet Supply for their pre-holiday shin-dig, and Santa was there with the local kennel club, so we had our picture taken. 

I thankfully took the time to apply myself to learning new information as much in the past three years as I did in the three years I was in the occupational therapy program and doing internships, twenty years ago. I studied Internet sources, searching for validity and truth, related to who's who, and what's what, with the candidates. And so I have relative clarity right now, as the fallout continues to happen.  I spent time the other night, finally, learning about what the "pizzagate" stuff was about and knew I'd be confused and overwhelmed if I'd not done my homework the last few years. It's the biggest election in my lifetime, on the heels of the 2008 election, which was as well. 

The Internet, for those who use it as their primary tool for information, if they make and take the time to use it, has changed everything.  It's being censored, increassingly, but in the US we still mostly can get the truth out to people, though it's an ongoing trickery battle requiring lots of smartness by those who can outsmart the problem-makers.  I'm happy to have my relatively small place on the Internet, with Lumigrate, and take pleasure in seeing hundreds of reads on many topics a month, which adds up to a significant amount of information I provide reaching YOUsers. It was, in 2008 when the funds came to me from a relative's estate (as a surprise), intended to be my investment in making a way to have income for the rest of my life, after I couldn't work doing the things I had been doing for income -- being an occupational therapist.  Some suggested I purchase a house with it and I clearly wasn't getting the message that was the right answer.  "Do the website, then write books .... you're here to be one bringing the change in the world to people."  Or that's my translation into English of what my 'gut' told me, as I decided in December 2007 'what to do'.  And here we are, nine years later .....   

Twenty years ago today I'd just completed my internships at The Denver VA.  I'd applied for a rather difficult internships, per the peer reviews by students before me, because I loved the history of occupational therapy and it's roots in the mind -- "engage the mind and the body will follow" is one of the old sayings from the formative years.  They tied two internships together, though, in those days at that location -- the physical disabilities rehabilitation supervisor was considered difficult because she was as big a delegator as I've ever seen.  Which left many students feeling unsupported.  Many wanted the psychiatric / mental health internships there, because it was so highly reviewed and was considered 'easy', so the fieldwork coordinators tied the two together, and only allowed certain types of students to apply -- those who were more mature, more independent, resourceful -- not needing the close supervision of the managing supervisor. 

I'd begun in "Phys Dys" in July of 1996, after moving to a small condo near the CU Medical Center/ Denver VA "complex / campus" on Colorado Boulevard.  Paying rent, tuition, etc., and having an unpaid internship, I was looking for a job once I'd started the second internship, which began in September and ended on December 20th.  The fieldwork overall was through the Phys Dys supervisor, who I met with just after lunchtime on December 20, 1996 and got my "flying colors" passing grade -- with the exception of my splinting abilities on the one hand patient I'd been given for experience in hands.

She had been thoughtful in assigning me one "case" of every major thing they had, as the cases came along in those three months -- a right hemisphere stroke, an amputee, a burn, a Parkinson's, a dementia, a cerebellar stroke ..... all of which was within the military medicine system for documentation and therefore no 'billing', took place, so I had zippo experience with Medicare -- it somehow was not included in our coursework at Colorado State University.

I was, unwittingly, getting experience which would come into play a decade later -- now a decade ago -- when I'd collaborate with Dr. Chris Young of Behavioral Health and Wellness, the co-founder of the practice which was located in the Primary Care Parterns / Docs on Call building, which was sharing a 'campus' with the area's primary hospice -- which at that time was being constructed.  My first new patient of 2007, which was my first new patient after having the mainstream, mangling medical system mismanage medications after my surgery in mid December, had fibromyalgia.  Her physician was the same guy who I'd gone to, for fibromyalgia, who helped a lot, and also made a major medication error which mangled my mind in 2005.  But he'd only complied with her request for a prescription for OT, it was suggested by her massage therapist, who somehow had heard the OT in the PCP building had fibromyalgia so maybe she could help you......  Yes, my own physician wasn't thinking to send patients to me -- the patient had to be the one to figure it out ...... 

I'd suggest a certain PT in our practice based on her needs, who agreed to take her as a new patient.  I'd get the orders for that -- nonbillable time, which is part of the reason it's not done more often, mainstream providers going out of their way to do what's right for the patient if it's something you cannot bill for.  I'd also suggest she get signed up to see Dr. Young.  Every week the PT and I would cross paths at some point and hurriedly get a verbal on the patient's progress with PT, which includes difficulties not just progress, by the way.  I'd tell him or her (as on occasion another PT would substitute) not only what I knew from doing similarly with Dr. Young, but also what I was finding in our OT time.  Then in my weekly OT session with the patient, I'd tell her the highlights of this 'meeting time' about her.  She did so well, Dr. Young was revitalized about health care and inspired to start an education group about chronic pain, fatigue, illness.  So it was with sadness and profound respect and reflection on what transpired since, that I learned of her passing this year. Blessings, and my thanks for your influence on the trajectory in my life. 

It was, as I said, January and for him there's a major roller coaster of demand which has to do with kids and the school year cycle.  January is a time when he has time to be creative, after a crush in the fall and going into winter. 

I'd bring to the table in our weekly meetings about how to establish an education group 'our way', the model a Dr. Peter Shang, rheumatology specialist, had given me over lunch in January 2005.  He was the first doctor I marketed to when I 'hung out my shingle' within the PT clinic within the primary care building, within the campus that included hospice and palliative care -- and their innovative "Cups" beverage shop and meeting place, located in the old house that had long ago been the home on the range, so to speak.  Dr. Young and I instantly had gotten along professionally because we both had backgrounds in military medicine, and that day we came up with "The You Model" based off my meeting with Dr. Shane fully two years before.  Dr. Shane wasn't even in town anymore, he'd left already, so I couldn't fulfill his request to have what he'd requested for his patients with complex chronic pain. 

Dr. Young called the model The Collaborative Care Model, and would go on to get grant funding to get integration going within the PCP building.  Recently I took someone new to town on a tour of the building as they market a gadget that would be of value to people, and that's a hub of medical care in Grand Junction.  I got to say hello to Dr. Young as he zipped to the photocopier.  The gadget the guy I was showing the ropes to was something the chronic pain task force might want to know about, and Cheryl Young is on that task force now, the building's marketing director told us.  And it was Cheryl's day to be embedded / integrated into the primary care physician's office, I was told, so we weren't able to connect in person that day. 

I fondly recall, ten years ago this month, their including me for their yearly holiday shin-dig, which was scheduled for three evenings after my scheduled surgery.  Their amazing office manager used to work in a gynecology clinic and had given me good advice -- your recovery will go much better if you really lay low and "pamper yourself" afterwards.  So in their minds I was going to be doing just that and not trying to come to their holiday party.  So, when the Young family had a bug messing with them that weekend, they decided to call everyone and postpone the shin-dig, and nobody called me, since they were presuming I'd not be up for shin digs. 

But I knew that there was something extremely important in the making that was coming through my interactions with Behavioral Health and Wellness, and the Youngs -- primarily Chris, initially, but then through Cheryl as well.  She's an incredible educator, as is he.  They were very much my mentors from 2005 to 2010 related to mainstream behavioral / mental health, building upon the foundation I'd gotten at the Denver VA psyche unit, and naturally whatever mainstream psychology and psychiatry information I learned in my publicly funded education from kindergarten through graduation in 1996 as an occupational therapist. 

So I'd show up at their doorstep, on time for the party, to have the door open by a teenage boy who said 'there's not party here'.  I'd think I was misremembering the location of the house, and go to my car and call their landline from my cellular phone, and have the same young man answer the phone -- and get the explanation of the bug and the postponement.  I'd run into him in 2015, more than once, at the grocery store near my initial house doing the Mardy PopIns  (aka poppins) project, and he now works for the cellular company I had as my service provider back then. 

It's funny how things reconnect.  I'd get the update on what his folks were doing professionally, and I look forward to seeing their new projects and enterprises come to fruition, as well as what comes from Dr. Young's getting grant funding to do integration within his building.  I left in early 2008, to help create an integrative center that unfortunately didn't stick to the plan we had when talking about our vision and desires for the center, and all who weren't owners of the enterprise went and rented elsewhere.  Except in my case, I went home-based.  And then went to being Mardy Poppins in 2015. 

Things take time, typically about two years, it seems, to come to any type of fruition -- if given proper support.  I'm pleased to say that I've been in touch in December with all the people who were major collaborators as the "YOU!" with me, as Mardy Poppins, and all are maintaining their overall improvements, and making gains in other areas as well.  The biggest and best from Mardy Poppins so far is O'Rio Grande, who is lying here as I write, wishing we'd go on a walk or something more interesting.  He's now 10, middle aged for a dog of his breed (mother was yellow lab, father border collie). 

I started working with him in June 2015, so we're now at 18 months together.  His improvements and what I taught through that to his family has had some impact on them.  This year his owner could have used the live eduation group Dr. Young and I had in 2007, and it coincided with when Amazing Alice, who'd been Lumigrate's inspirational Christian writer in our formative years, passed.  From the hospital she had posted on Facebook an inspirational "Each one, reach one", and I realized that was what I had done, through O'Rio's needing a caretaker when the family was out of town (which is a majority of the time).

In the 2007 group, house keeping was a major point brought up by the members with chronic fatigue, stiffness or laxity (ironic how that works), pain, and "brain fog" / cognitive impairment. I'd find an amazing woman who did commercial cleaning that offered to clean for those with complex chronic illness for an affordable amount -- knowing many were on disability (low) income, or were spending a lot of funds on their health care.  Her name was Mary, and she clearly was Christian in what she said to me on the phone for the reason why she was offering to help people in need. 

O'Rio's house, after 18 months, has turned the corner, which has to be a collaboration with his family when they're "home".  Which has not been easy always, change often meets with resistance.  I am grateful for my mentor about "systems theory", which came about via Cheryl Young's recommendation in 2008 for a therapist / counselor for my then significant other and I (and his four children, potentially, and extended family).  "A guy like him, needs a guy's guy, and Paul is that kind of guy's guy". 

My soon-to-be ex didn't ever come to a session, and only called in (as we'd agreed could be a compromise to get started) once, so Paul and I would talk about his forte professionally, which was "systems theory". It's been one of the more important lessons I've utilized in my overall life since! When it comes to the revolution in the world right now, with the cabal (which is also called the shadow government), the medical and health care industry (two different but interrelated things), or the revolution in my family of origin, inspired by my chosing to fight and make peace consciously, going my separate way by choice and letting them continue on with the way they do things as undisturbed as is possible .... for their best well-being and mine. 

Yes, no time brings up more memories, typically, of the old times, than the holidays, and I'm no exception.

I also reflect on the summer solstice of 2016, and getting reunited for a weekend with the 'old boss' and his wife, who had been my coworker for the last years working there, and then my best hang-out buddy, mountain biking buddy, skiing buddy and drinking buddy, as I was preparing to apply to the occupational therapy program at Colorado State University. 

Through their circle of friends, I met some of the leaders of veterinary medicine at Colorado State University -- my old boss is a leader in his area of expertise, which is climate and air quality -- visibility in particular.  EPA called him "Dr. Visibility" at an awards ceremony when he retired from the National Park Service, where he'd migrated after being at EPA prior to my meeting him in 1984.  He'd just turned 40 then, he was known as "Wild Bill".  (And this year, I reconnected with veterinary and animal sciences professionals, due to seeking out expertise about O'Rio, I see the commonalities with human and veterinary health and the debacle of mainstream education and provision currently, which is all changing in similar ways, thankfully -- we just need to keep working together!)

So he's matured in affectionate names as well as mellowing as a person.  But they still have more energy than I have, despite having some years on me! I therefore attended the Palisade Bluegrass Festival -- it was so hot, just like it's been so cold recently with the winter solstice time as the sun is at it's furthest point now, closest point then. 

After that I was off to Leadville, where I hoped to have more impact than I had on those who provided my housing -- one part of the couple half wants to believe what I'm saying about what's in the environment -- the truth about it -- and the other part of the couple is not.  This would be repeated in Colorado Springs with old friends there -- it was funny in that case because we sat outside at sunset and after dark and one of the spouses in the couple said 'I'm getting spider webs on me from the air" after they'd thoroughly dismissed what I'd said earlier about 'those aren't spider webs, they're part of the terraforming, to do with chemtrailing aircraft -- a Facebook colleague truth teller in Arizona has done a marvelous job documenting it, go online and look".  So if these people still 'accept me', and vice versa, despite our being in different realities, in different places in what we believe to be going on, and how we live our lives, I consider that a victory.  We're in this together, and turning on those you have known the longest or best, because they've changed, makes no sense to me in terms of how the ripple effect can progress people along. 

From there, I was off to the Denver metro suburbs SW of Denver, where I had a very important month of July.  Caretaking O'Rio for part of the month at a house where I was taking care of the most loving, emotional dog I've ever seen -- a white with black spotted bulldog.  It was like "Mutt and Jeff", with big ol' O'Rio.  The only time we were not together was a few hours when I ran to my home town for a memorial service for one of my friends' mothers from college years, though we went to high school together and hadn't yet met then.  Our high school had been on split sessions, and I had a lot of work to do at home to help my family of origin in those years, so I didn't get involved in anything extra-curricular.  Her sons are all newly in the US Marine Corps and attended their beloved grandmother's funeral in their dress uniforms, sans hankerchiefs for whatever reason. 

I would later be reminded via a movie about a senior intern, of the chivalrous reason for hankerchiefs, after seeing it in action at the memorial.  Their uncle had one, and my gal pals had paper tissues to share, so the bases were covered, but that classiness of hankerchiefs really stuck with me.  And why didn't women adopt the habit of having a clean one in their purse to offer to a man or woman, or child, or dog in need?  I sat and wondered what all these young men would experience in the military, and truly hope we are in a peaceful revolution right now, which will transform the war machine we've operated under for so long people take it for granted that it has to continue. 

I was reminded of my time in Denver at the VA, 20 years before, when I got together with the driving rehabilitation OT there, who happened to be my area manager at my first job as an OT.  Thankfully, her husband had brain differences that affected learning and perception of visual things, so she knew of Lynn Hellerstein and, despite my having had a round of vision therapy and, I thought, properly prescribed glasses from a Fort Collins optometrist, I would get 'the grand pooh bah' of the area back in 1997, as a result, who would have her first book out when I created Lumigrate -- hence Lumigrate's forums has content from the internationally renowned Dr. Hellerstein.  This summer, they had me over for brunch, so I got to meet the man who had been the reason I wasn't fired that first job, due to my difficulties doing accurate documentation with pen and paper in the commotion of the gym/office at the nursing home which was not far from where this photo was taken .... twenty years later! 

As 'luck' would have it, I'd fall when on a walk -- not to do with dogs on leashes so much as the trash truck having put the trash can in the middle of the side walk and my visual / perceptual / planning 'difficulties'.  I was thinking I'd walk around the side by the street -- more room that way, as I had the bulldog with me, on one of our first walks together to the nearby AMAZING park. 

..... not thinking that the curb shape is different there than what I've been walking around for the last decade or so in the Grand Junction area, and my left ankle isn't very stable -- hasn't been since 1978's injury and then 2002's re-injury which almost ended my OT career at that time.  So my ankle rolled, it actually blew my sneaker apart, it required repair from a shoe repair place (after I looked at the cost of new, I opted for the $18 fix). 

My dominant hand was barely functional, due to the extreme edema / swelling of tissues I get from trauma injuries (due to what I believe is what's called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome by mainstream, allopathic medicine, which somehow never got around to more difinitively diagnosing me, leaving it at 'chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, migraines, bleeding disorder of unknown origin, cellulitis (after the 2002 ankle injury and a bug bite on the ankle), cervical disk and DJD issues, etc.   

On the other side of my body my knee and elbow were pretty messed up.  I decided to hang out with the dogs and get into their 'groove'.  We rested a lot (I'd watch Netflix if I wasn't sleeping, while they slept).  We went on a lot of walks.  We ate well, and all together.  We played after we ate. I thought about the honorable OT Jane Goodall and her methods with primates, and it was simply transformative.  So, I'm so grateful to the whole experience. Particularly because when I got to Fort Collins to see what old friends I might connect with, the gal pals didn't respond to texts or calls so I called an ex beau, who had become a quadruplegic since the last time we talked a few years ago, being rehabilitated fairly successfully through Craigh Rehabilitation in Denver.  Due to a fall, protective extension, etc.  I'm so thankful for having found the functional medicine and food / diet / organic / wholesome / holistic information AND having the wherewithall to learn and comply with 'outside the box'.    

Thankfully, in the past when I've been injured, I've found providers who practice Cranial Academy techniques as well as Mulligan Techniques. And I believe that and many other things have truly reversed and 'cleared up' many of the reaons for the issues to have occurred, but it's an ongoing process for ALL OF US to counteract what's in the environment 'messing with us' in one way or another or many ways.  So, to all who are taking a proactive stand for your health and well-being, yay you, and that is good for all.  

So, this summer after my fall, I just needed time for my body to do what it needed to do in response to not only the physical injury, but the emotional ones I was getting from being in my old 'home town area'.  It's simply an intense time, and people seem to be forgetful, overwhelemed, disorganized, unwell, and hurtful to others -- unwittingly perhaps, and perhaps subconsciously. I admittedly slacked off on my usual level of food and water and other drink quality in terms of what toxins might be in them, and I was re-inspired because I saw how rapidly things got less good for me -- the knee that had been injured would go out of whack in the fall, when I'd have vertigo, which I'd not had for a long time. 

All that improved when I 'buckled down' on my diet, again.  FORTY YEARS it's been since the first eating plan, for blood sugar control, I'm still struggling like most do with trying to be like the 'norm' and average person in society and then seeing the effects of that.  Maybe when I'm old and wise I'll have mastered realizing I was right in my diligent compliance of my younger adulthood, which was thought to be kind of 'bad' and OCD-like.  What if these quirks of personality are really built into us for what will ultimately help us in life?  (I know, right? "Whoa"!) 

It was a shift time, for me.  And thankfully I connected with this fellow rabel-rouser, who welcomed me and O'Rio into her home to stay as long as needed, beyond when she was there, off on vacation as she was, and proving to me that Facebook friends who meet over causes, as we did (geoengineering as I recall) should meet in person if it's possible.  "You have a website? I didn't know that, I'm wanting to start a website", she said.  And I'll gladly assist her with that, if she wants -- I've learned so much from Lumigrate, I'd welcome sharing what might help their process more effective for consumers and them as a provider.                                 

It appears to me, based upon teachers out there who study and teach about 'timelines', that I went from one timeline to the other this year.  I hope Lumigrate can assist people who are going to go from the negative timeline to the positive, by the content I've provided along the way from my process, which I've provided.  But it's not any type of 'better or worse' thing, it's all our life paths and what we are to experience this time on Earth, but that was, essentially, the esoteric experience, as I see it presently, from my summer and fall, and had to process and act upon, accordingly.   It happened that her home away from home this summer was in the ski town I got to go to on it's opening weekend, back in my childhood.  So O'Rio and I walked around the base of the ski area, and then went up and got water from a spring on Loveland Pass, which, before Eisenhower Tunnel was the only way of going across the Continental Divide / Rockies in that area, so we'd done that in the previous years when I was learning to ski.

The whole trip from June to August was 'coincidences' of where I'd be staying or asked to drive someone taking me to place of significance from my past.  The company that hired me 20 years ago, their headquarters was across the street from one place I was to not have work out for housing.  The place my father died was where someone needed a ride to watch a kiddo in a sporting event.  The bulldog's house was right near the nursing home my grandmother spent her last months, and she was the most beloved to me of all my biological relatives.  And then the ski town as the frosting on the cake!  

Thanks to "Colorado's J Lo" as I will call her, and I hope we continue in-person shinanigans and cross pollination of ideas of how to help people at this critical time.  She's very gifted -- it happened that we met in person when it was chilly out and we ran to my car for me to get a jacket as the one I had on looked great with what she was wearing.  As I looked around in my car for the clothing, she opened her tips from her day's work and someone had given her an almost 100% tip.  I just thought it was interesting timing.  I'd thought she might show me some things to do with O'Rio but she was so 'overdone', clearly, from her long day where she clearly gives all to those she assists, that I felt like I was maybe needing to dust off my body working skills -- but a dunk in the pool/hot tub area of her lodging and an early night after a great dinner in town was all we needed .... and off she went to the races the next morning.  Such energy! I had it, too, at her age....

I returned to the Grand Valley in August to continue with the Each One, Reach One rehabilitation of O'Rio's house, and then for the fall to complete -- just this week, finally -- a year-long project for a woman "aging in place" who is on the "home stretch of life". 

Having not realized her symptoms were environmental illness and reversible through adopting non mainstream medical teachers, providers, products and techniques, she needed help for decades to put it all together, but hadn't realized it, or didn't want the help.  I've been there, I needed assistance for years and didn't ask for help, and when I finally did give in and get someone I could affort do assist me, it was overwhelming to them and to me, because there was such a backlog.  

So, with finally having someone assisting with culling and organizing the heritage items collected over a hundred years in her family, her family and friends are enjoying a 140+ "book" about "her life so far".  Which has a lot to do with their family tree, or trees.  Descending from a grandmother who had petitioned for Colorado to become a state -- traded with the Ute indians who passed by her family's homestead, which was later taken over by Denver for a lake -- where I learned to skate a half a century ago or more -- it's been a very gratifying project to work on.  And complete.  Yesterday's email that I saw gushed to her about how much it was being enjoyed and at the end "Thanks to Marty (sic) for her assistance". 

I happened to be the right person for this person, same as my old boss, who I saw this summer for the bluegrass festival, told me every time I saw him until this one -- I was simply the best person to do the work for him that he ever had.

So I've had two years now, as of this week, as Mardy Pop-Ins.  (I use "poppins" as my email address, however -- mardy dot poppins at yahoo dot com, because it's confusing looking as pop-ins@----- with an e-address). I wonder where I'm off to next.  My umbrella's up (and my resume's out)!  My monthly expenses are minimized but include: 

Phone: $45/month

Hatchling Plan with my hosting service for Lumigrate: $9

Box at a UPS store for mail: $17

Subscriptions to Internet sites to bring quality information to YOUsers, via my continuing education: $20

Automobile (insurance, maintenance, I thankfully own my 2006 sturdy steed with low miles) - $100 minimum

Fuel: Car about $20/week,  Me (nutrition): $10-15/day, about $100/week

Housing compensation -- $15/day I've paid as needed when I cannot find a host home to trade Mardy PopIns' time for housing.  (I 'trade' housing, preferably, and assist the home provider with what assists them. However, it's not always possible to find accommodations that are non toxic in terms of what's in the living space, whether that be behaviors of the people, smoke from others in adjoining housing, or other environmental contributors -- such as damage from liquids (water being one, recently there was fluid from defrosted meat that leaked out of a freezer after utilities were shut off being un-acceptable.) (Another situation which was, ironically a pay to play place, was very set on using Febreeze in the air, and scented laundry products --- because this was not someone wanting to learn how to be less unwell, they just needed extra income.  "I already compromize on not smoking (tobacco cigarettes) inside, I'm not changing this too."  This is a perfect place to insert the "load theory" model from Lumigrate's 'cornerstone' and "building block" concept graphics.... (©2012)


Yup, 2016 had it's challenges, and I therefore am retooling.  I look forward to what my letter at this time of year in 2017 will have to say....... and if you're reading this, if you have the desire for information guidance and support by a former occupational therapist in how to integrate the changes into your routine, home, work, etc. 

My phone is 462 - 8662 (cell, and I text), and the area code is 970.  Again, my email is mardy dot poppins at yahoo dot com .... or as someone clever put email online AND REMOVE THE NUMBERS.  (which allows you to cut and paste).  

I look forward to what YOU will have to say about this year, and going forward, if was connect.  We're in this together, ultimately, and I appreciate all who have had any part to play via whatever form of connections we share.

Gratefully ~ Mardy


My birthday, which is the day after April Fool's Day, approaches.  I've made 57 trips around the Sun on Earth since being born on a beautiful spring Saturday in Denver.  My mother went into labor in the early morning hours and they were so relieved -- not only was it not a work day for my father, snow to contend with on the roads was not an issue.  Two years before, a massive storm had occurred on April 1, and the county road grader had even turned around across from their house and gone back down the canyon, giving up on going further up the road. They arrived at the hospital about 8 am, and the doctor had a golf tee time scheduled at 3 pm.  My mother didn't say much about it, but my father would later tell me that she had been furious about the doctor insisting on using forceps to usher me out into the world in time for him to be playing golf on time. 

Since that was the only thing I knew of my history which was potentially damaging to me, causing 'irregularities' of one kind or another, I'd 'pin the tail on that donkey', so to speak.  Then we'd be told that cigarettes were bad, and she'd smoked.  And then we'd learn that alcohol by pregnant women was not good, and she'd continued a daily alcohol habit from college until the day before she died.  The coroner gave me a fully look that day in 1987 when we were allowed to go into the dining area and view her body as they'd found it, the murder / suicide investigation completed.  I instantly said "it was before 5 pm when she died" and he asked how I knew that.  "She has iced tea, you could set your clock by when she switched to martinis".  And the blood analysis supported what I'd said. 

I'd had a talk with her one night a couple of years before she died, and voice my concern and my newfound information about treatment facilities -- I even had an interventionist who'd agreed to make the two hour drive if the family would agree.  The family wouldn't agree, and all I could do on my own was make an appeal to her.  "This is the way I want to live my life, and this is how I want to die", she said from her place at one head of the table, a martini in one hand and a Doral in the other.  And that is exactly where and how she died, except it was an iced tea and not a martini. 

So for many years I would attribute my various learning and physical difficulties and differences to those three factors, plus that I'd been dropped my first Christmas season because I'd pulled on the tree while my parents were posing for a photograph with their realtor / friends who'd come to visit.  I have no recollection of them, perhaps that was the last time they visited. 

I had no positive physical contact with my father from that point until I graduated from high school, where he gave me a hug.  I appreciated that he was risking the gynmasium floor collapsing with the weight of all the people who'd had to rush in from the tremendous lightning storm that came up during the ceremony -- the rest of my family took off for home, and 'got the party started'. 

My mother was a teacher at the elementary and knew that there were major renovations going on to the structures under the gym at the high school, and some sort of temporary supports were holding the floor up.  I was terrified of lightning and was just relieved to be indoors and decided to take my chances with the school's safety.  And it was fine, but most students weren't having a nagging concern in the backs of their minds.  I was.  Similar to the feeling I had at four when separated from everyone at my party while they set up. 

I didn't have "a big lens kit" yet, to look through and determine what was affecting my peformance and well-being, nor a library to look up what caused it, and what to do about it.  We are so fortunate with the Internet and that it's still relatively uncensored.  I've also recognized Facebook as the single most important tool for people to have connected with others and been guided to more information than is humanly possible to consume.  

And I certainly didn't have enough lenses to look at my biological family through. Years of personal and professional experience would build that kit up, thankfully.  I'd begun journaling in my teens and by 10th grade it ended with an entry saying I was hanging out with a girl I'd known for a while but hadn't been friends with before, and it was good because she was very insightful about psychology.  The journal was not something I did every day, only when I was struggling with a conflict or had something major happen I was excited about, which was mostly to do with BOYS.  

I'd done my eighth grade oral book report in English class on the blockbuster book of the early 1970s I'm Okay, You're Okay, which my mother had purchased and read so it was available to me when needing to do a book report.  The student after me got much more interest from the class by reporting on Little House on the Prairie .  I would again have "that feeling", similar to the day of my 4th birthday party, and as I'd have again when I turned 48 with the "Big Mac" computer in my office in boxes.  

I got another hug from my father at my wedding when I was 21.  Two hugs until adulthood, rather symmetrical because I'd had two evenings when I was 4 and 5 where I'd had either a plastic ruler or a belt used on my behind after being picked up and turned over on his lap. 

I decided to start hugging him when he walked me to my car the day after my mother's funeral, as it was a work day for me (and my husband, who'd been very helpful to us in our emergency time of need), as well as a class day for me at the University, taking "Introduction to Psychology" in my attempt to return to complete a degree in occupational therapy.  Whether he was comfortable with it or not. 

I'd been a witness to the sweet yet uncomfortable hugs my parents would occassionally give each other in the kitchen.  I was now remarried to a very affectionate man who helping me 'normalize' many of the things I wanted to have be different. 

Adequate "lenses" you look through to view a situation are, in my mind, one of the most critical 'tools' in a person's 'toolkit'.  I finally would add 'an autism lens' to my toolkit to view people, myself included.

The next step was to realize that using the lens on dogs and cats would help explain a lot of issues with our furry friends.  I didn't make that leap until it was too late to help my beloved cat who was euthanized before she was four, in 2013.  I believe it was my intense feeling of failure to get to the answer in time to help her that drove me to go to another level spiritually and connect with a dog in need, almost two years ago. 

This is the story about that dog, and he was born in February of 2005, back when I was preparing to turn 45.  I'd realized something was more awry in my body the year before, when it was me and frail women dying of cancer in an IV room who had to be fiddled with five or more times to get one treatment of whatever we were getting into our bodies. 

I'd gone on to find several other helpful providers, products and services and was living a life in 2007 I could not have imagined could have been better! I'd co-created a successful live seminar series and a doctor had given me his personal video camera and tripod and asked for it to be recorded since he couldn't attend in person.  "I wonder how much it would cost -- I saw that YouTube thing once and if they can do that, I could too.  I wish I had the money to do that".  I went to the box where I got my mail the next day, where it was usually just a bunch of bills and statements about medical things my insurance at the time was paying for, and instead there was a surprise gift of funds I'd not known was coming.  That's what I used to start what would come to be called Lumigrate. 

I also paid my bills for my life for a while longer, including finally paying off my $45, 000 in student loans AND buying a 2006 version of my 2001 Toyota Highlander, which only was a $5,000 expenditure.  My father would help me out for a while before he died -- on and off it was not totally in his control near the end of his life, and after his life the law firm's competent lawyer intervened when the incompetent one stepped aside and, though it took four years and drained funds their way instead of mine, unfortunately, it allowed me to continue focusing a lot of time and energy (and a little money) on the website.  It's with a unique reputation, and I trust it will continue to help people as it has until it either meets it's demise or someone who will want to rehabilitate it and dance along with it for a while. 

I'm going to be focusing on dogs now.  When I was four and someone asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I said work for Guide Dogs for the Blind.  My mother had put a stop to that dream, saying everyone wants to work with dogs.  I now believe I was fore-seeing the final era of my life's work at that time, and I'm now there. 

My mother had wanted a second child, and it had not been an easy accomplishment like the first had been early in their marriage when they lived in England.  My parents had married in 1951 just prior to my father's being transferred to England in his job with the USAF.  They were in Albuquerque when they met. 

He was 30, she 26 and a college graduate in art education. He was a college graduate as well, though in what and when and where changed over the years as I got older and the programs he worked in were declassified.  Or so I suspect.  He'd live until I was 50, a very tortured life in many ways, but the blessing in his later years was he'd have time to reflect, and the pain he was in would change, and he'd have access to the new information coming out; he'd realize he had autism.  

They were apart for a year, and per the home movies and stories told, which I fondly remember, appeared to be happy as 'newleyweds' and new parents shortly thereafter.  She wanted to find a way to work from home, and their neighbors were raising and selling and showing goldren retrievers, and taught them how.  They purchased three quality dogs, a male and two females, and set off for the mountains outside of Denver.  The dogs came over on the Queen Mary or Elizabeth, I can never remember which one, and the family of three humans came on an old troop ship. 

O'Rio Grande's human guardian's mother and father were to be in Albuquerque not long after that, and then moved to Grand Junction, Colorado, where I'd move in very early 2004.  At that time they had a 'mama dog' retriever who they were breeding with AKC laborador males and having a very similar upbringing to mine! In February 2004 a litter would be born from the neighbor border collie having come to visit, and they kept one male pup who I have come to call O'Rio Grande.  Of the Big River.  I did a blog topic about him starting around this time last year, St Patrick's day inspired me on the O'Rio.  Since he's got a big white (fat filled) chest and snout, and is black mostly otherwise, it'll keep Nabisco from having a problem with the way most people would name an 'Oreo' colored pet.  Yes, taking a page from the book of South Park's successful navigation of staying away from problems with names, places and locations! 

In 2008, as April Fool's Day approached, I recall eagerly awaiting the arrival of the "BTO" (built to order) Macintosh computer I'd ordered.  I referred to it as "Big Mac" after it arrived.  I hadn't a clue how to go about assembling it, but thankfully the right person had come along in March to guide us with that.  And the right person to assist in everything, who I thankfully could employ for fifteen months, had happened along in March as well.  I'd refer to it as "Linda's computer", and truly was afraid of it. 

I'd started working on computers in my early adulthood, and here I was almost 48 years old, and was afraid of a new computer.  Why?  Because it was expensive, and complicated -- it had two monitors, for instance, since a successful, live seminar series I'd co-created in 2007 in my old, mainstream medical building had been the stepping stone to creating a website for health education which would include videos of select seminars. 

I recall having had a very similar feeling forty four years before, when I turned four years of age in early April 1964 and my mother had three girls from the area, and their mothers if they wished, come to the house so we could meet and get some practice socializing before going to kindergarten the next year. 

I knew two of the three already, but they did not know each other.  The fourth girl was invited because her mother wrote the column about "who was doing what" in our canyon outside Denver, Colorado.  My mother at the time was our area's canine 4-H leader, The Hillbilly Hounds, and would need to communicate about the dog shows in order to get it in the paper. 

Ten years after we started school, a young man named Trey Parker would follow in our chairseats, and go on to collaborate in creating the cartoon comedy enterprise South Park.  I've heard it alleged that the principal of the elementary, who came along after my class, inspired the character of the Mayor of South Park.  Names, appearances and other details had to be changed.  The show has a student named Kenny, who vomits a lot.  Was I our classes Kenny? 

I clearly recall being in the living room alone, and being very anxious because everyone was in the dining room on the "back porch" of my family's home preparing for me to enter and have the candles ablaze, sing happy birthday to me, and of course the gifts I'd seen arrive.  I completely understood what they were doing and it was 'set up time' for them to honor me, but I felt left out.  And I knew that was silly.  I couldn't help it, that was how I felt. 

In March of 2015, I was driving on one of the major roads in Grand Junction to check on storage places for what I'd be keeping in my new phase of life, which I affectionately call The Mardy PopIns Experiment.  As I entered a traffic circle, intending to continue on in the direction I was going, I was literally 'called' to exit at the first option.  This was a very small traffic circle too, it was almost like being possessed! I realized as I drove along the road, away from town, that I felt there was someone I was supposed to connect with, so I had my 'radar up'. 

At one of the intersections, which happen every mile, a white truck was stopped at the stop sign.  I was going by my radar and not my vision apparently, because I came to a stop there.  The man in the truck waved me through and I would realize as I went by that it was someone who'd bought an item from me almost exactly a week before, to the minute.  We'd exchanged contact information because he has technical skills that were in line with a side business I'd just been offered to be set up in with all the supplies and tools, I'm just not qualified to do the work by myself.  "Was that you at that four way stop?" I texted.  He responded it was, but it was not a stop for me.  

I'd not see anyone out to talk to / connect with and recall thinking as I went past one property "I should go over there ---- but you don't just drive up and ring someone's doorbell and say "I feel I'm supposed to connect with you".  I got to the end of the road and a farmer was out doing some work by the road and I knew that was not the person or situation I was supposed to connect to, and I turned around and went on my way and went into town and got nowhere in trying to connect with anyone about storage I could afford.  I'd be connected to that AFTER THAT by the woman who had invited me to Mardy PopIns' Project House #1.  And my things are still there -- the ones I don't need frequently.  The rest are in the property I'd looked over at and felt drawn to, but I'd not be connected to the owner for another two months.  In the mean time, my early April birthday would come and go, and I'd continue selling items I didn't feel I needed to take forward with me in life, for whatever reason.  House #1 was located on a fabulous corner for just going out when weather permitted and putting things out. 

I'd go to Mardy PopIns House #2 in May, moving my computer so I could continue working on and doing outreach via Facebook.  Outreach to learn, and to teach and 'connect'.  I'd call a woman who had an ability for figuring out medical things that are over my head to see if she'd be up for looking into something for me, which was lucky. She asked how it was going as Mardy PopIns and I said 'I need to be in bigger houses if there are people, the first house was ideal for the first weeks when it was just me caring for the property in their absence'. 

"Do you like dogs?" she asked. She was friends with the woman who owned the house -- and a big black 10 year old dog who was being cared for by someone coming by every day for a visit, and food and water.  

Do I like dogs?  I grew up on an AKC kennel, and the first thing I told adults I wanted to 'be' when I grew up was a worker with dogs and people with special needs.  It had not occurred to me that I'd end up working with a DOG with special needs, but that is what happened.  Starting in June of 2015, and continuing today and into the forseeable future, I've been having 'the time of my life' with this dog I have named, for my purposes 'O'Rio'.  It's tricky, it sounds like the famous cookie, which is what he looks like, but it's short for O'Rio Grande -- of the big river.  I created a blog topic about him at Lumigrate last St. Patrick's Day season.  And it's clearly been 'where I'm supposed to be going next'. 





Live and Learn. Learn and Live Better! is my motto. I'm Mardy Ross, and I founded Lumigrate in 2008 after a career as an occupational therapist with a background in health education and environmental research program administration. Today I function as the desk clerk for short questions people have, as well as 'concierge' services offered for those who want a thorough exploration of their health history and direction to resources likely to progress their health according to their goals. Contact Us comes to me, so please do if you have questions or comments. Lumigrate is "Lighting the Path to Health and Well-Being" for increasing numbers of people. Follow us on social networking sites such as: Twitter: and Facebook. (There is my personal page and several Lumigrate pages. For those interested in "groovy" local education and networking for those uniquely talented LumiGRATE experts located in my own back yard, "LumiGRATE Groove of the Grand Valley" is a Facebook page to join. (Many who have joined are beyond our area but like to see the Groovy information! We not only have FUN, we are learning about other providers we can be referring patients to and 'wearing a groove' to each other's doors -- or websites/home offices!) By covering some of the things we do, including case examples, it reinforces the concepts at as well as making YOU feel that you're part of a community. Which you ARE at Lumigrate!

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