Get notice of new posts
Connect with me!
Help Support Our Climb
Damn Fine Words Writing Course

“Happy Ever Afters”| Rangers|and Kick-ass Aikido

American Revolution Rangers

Rangers in American Revolution

Ranger in movie One for the Money

Ranger in "One for the Money"

Searching for Happy Ever Afters

One of my favorite quotes is: “Look at what you have left, not at what you have lost (Schuller).”

Great advice. But when your life is full of losses, it is difficult to let go of the sadness and find joy in what is “left.”

Aaron was losing skills that took decades to build; and,
The pendulum was swinging back toward segregation and away from inclusion; and,
My best efforts at change weren’t making any difference; and,
My best friend died tragically.

Up until that point, I spent my free time reading non-fiction books like: Enabling and Empowering Families, Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?, Man’s Search for Meaning, When Bad things Happen to Good People…

You see a pattern?

I kept trying to learn a new way to make an inch of forward progress on our journey toward inclusion.
I kept beating my head against a brick wall, and the only thing I was getting was a bloody headache.

I decided I needed a new direction. “What did I have left”?

What new patterns could I make in MY life?

Not Aaron’s? Not the community? Not disability world? MY LIFE.

One for the Money: One hot Ranger

A friend gave me Janet Evanovich’s book, One For The Money, a romantic comedy about Stephanie Plum, a blundering bounty hunter who has help from a hot cop and an even hotter businessman named Ranger.

Well, it was funny and made me happy. I finished it in one day and it gave me new energy and spirit. I felt a touch of “normal.”

I began to read romance novels which would guarantee a “Happy Ever After”–something I probably won’t be able to achieve in real life.

I know, I know… people make fun of romance novels. But not booksellers–they know the romance genre makes up over 30% of all books sold.

Well I was hooked, probably for many of the same reasons as many women (and men). I was able to escape into a good story, ignore my problems for a while, and know the ending will be “happy ever after.”


Since I am obsessive about everything I do, I joined National and OVRWA, our local chapter of the Romance Writers of America. I even started writing a novel and became an editor for a small online epublisher.

Hey, I’ve been on boards of the Arc, TASH, Autism Society, County Board of MR/DD and scores of national, state and local organizations for people with disabilities. I can follow Roberts’ Rules of Order with the best of them. I even have a wooden gavel in my desk drawer from my tenure as president on one board.

What I don’t know how to do–is be normal. I don’t know how to include myself in my community.

Yea, the topic I have spent my life on–for Aaron.

But what about me?

How do I “normalize” and “include” myself?

Ranger meets the Rangers

OVRWA has been a terrific experience because of some amazing women. They are serious writers. Some just beginning, some NYT best sellers whose names you might recognize, or will recognize in the future.

I enjoy every minute of their company… and have learned much about writing, publishing, and … living.

In a previous post I wrote about Wheelchair Becky becoming a romance writer. I am finding I don’t have to give up my beliefs, they only become clearer. I don’t have to change my passion for inclusion, I can find it everywhere.

Last month’s presentation was for the historical romance writers in our group. Two men (much sexier than the stock photo above) brought their collections of American Revolution costumes, stories, artifacts and gave a well rounded presentation of the English and the colonist’s viewpoints. They helped us relive the time period and much more.

Professional vs. Amateur

In their opinion, the Americans won because of their passion for the cause and their ability to adapt to the environment.

The Americans were amateurs, with few men, no royal blood or fancy educations, little professional experience, less sophisticated weapons, few funds…. taking on the most powerful military force in the world.

The professional soldiers kept insisting on fighting with traditional European formal rules of engagement wearing bright red coats. The Americans fought as the native Americans and wore dull natural clothing blending into the landscape. The English had many strategies to induce fear and authority. The Americans brought passion and dreams for a better future for their children.

How many administrators tell parents of children with disabilities: “we are the professionals, we have degrees and experience”; “rules is rules”; “this is the established way we do things”; “we control the money and you have to do things our way” or “we are just doing our jobs”?

How many parents say: “we don’t care about your fancy degrees or experience”; “if a rule doesn’t make sense–change it,” “we don’t want to be ‘special’; we want our children to blend into a normalized environment” and “this is my child, and his/her future is at stake–we will challenge you with every breath in our body”.

At one point the presenters demonstrated their “Ranger” battle techniques where–if you knew what you were doing you could disable your enemy with a single movement.

The presentation was compelling and informative as doubting members of the audience were “gently” flung to the floor with one twist of the arm.

I wondered when I might be able to use some of their information when I happened upon this video.

Kick-ass Aikido

A woman with a physical disability, I’m assuming paralysis from the waist down, is able to flick off her attackers with a single arm movement. It is remarkable and looks exactly like the Ranger’s technique.


It is so easy to get caught up in Disability World. So hard to be part of the normal world. But there are many opportunities if we look.

And, it is exciting to be with people who are not active in Disability World.

They can teach us lessons, but more importantly, help us learn about the human spirit.

I love that last month’s OVRWA meeting made me think of the professional/amateur professional/parent connection. If a rag tag group of farmers could win against the most powerful military machine of the time–there is still hope for us parents. The strategies and techniques of defeating professional soldiers, paid mercenaries, and hostile native Americans brought the two worlds together for me as I watched this woman the world would say was weak and vulnerable–ward off her attackers with the flick of her arm.

Survival strategies remain the same.

We need our vision and passion–Freedom and Liberty are still powerful motivators.

We need to continually change and adjust to the situation if we are to survive.

We need to blend into our normal environment (INCLUSION).

We need to keep learning new moves.

ps. One for the Money will be coming out this summer. Katherine Heigl is playing Stephanie Plum and Daniel Sunjata is Ranger. And there is a plot, I swear (at least in the book).

What do you think?

In the comments share your thoughts about the analogy of the American Revolution Rangers and Parents of children with disabilities? The video? Any lessons from books, recreation activities that inspire your work? Anyone want to sign up to be a Ranger? Take Aikido? Any new insights about inclusion? Any ideas about “Happy Ever After”? Any ideas about “looking at what you have left”?

Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward

All the best,


Be Sociable, Share!

13 Responses to ““Happy Ever Afters”| Rangers|and Kick-ass Aikido”

  • Sally Beiting says:

    Wow, I really am happy I came across this post. I am a sports and fitness enthusiast and am all for eating healthy. It can change someones life, as you can tell. I’m sure it gave her a world f confidence. Just to see a person with a disability accomplishing those things makes me more than appreciative. That is a huge inspiration to everyone. Thank you for sharing

  • Mary says:

    You are right Ed, we need to just keep fighting whether we are “expert” or a beginner.

  • Ed Carlin says:

    I liked how the presentation you saw told about how the Americans beat the English who were supposedly more professional and had better weapons. I think people without degrees, or people with disabilities can teach us just as much if not more than people who are considered “smarter” or more qualified. Just because someone has a disability does not mean that they are not as smart as someone without a disability. We can not judge people before you get to know them and see where they are coming from and what their story is.

  • mary says:

    Love it. Talk to me about your favorites sometime. I’ve met so many great writers, it really has been a happy time. You might like my post about “Sisters of the Heart” –put it in the search box at the top of CEM right corner. Then of course there is the wheelchair Barbie article which I thought was hilarious. We all laughed and laughed.

    And, you’re right it was a nice diversion, except one of my author friends is actually an OT in real life who writes chick-lit about Cincinnati area landmarks, and another is a special education teacher who writes spicy paranormal–how fun is that!

  • Kelsey says:

    I think it’s great that you become obsessed with things and it drives you to join clubs, committees etc. To me, that is what passion is all about and it seems that you are FILLED with it. Without passion, who knows if you would have been able to accomplish and push for what Aaron and many others deserve. I think the “Happy Ever After” Comparisons and the section in general was great. I am a romance novel addict for that very reason, I like to ignore my problems and become immersed in something that i know is going to end well, unlike life at times when were really not sure!

  • Abby Awad says:

    I think I read the “look at what you have left, not at what you have lost” quote a little differently than was originally intended. Instead of viewing “what [I] have left” as belongings, feelings, experiences, etc still in my possession, I read it as being what I have left behind…what affect I’ve had on other people throughout my life…what work I did that changed someone or something. Tying into the rest of your blog post, I think your story about your interest and involvement in romance novels demonstrates how what you’re leaving behind and how you’re affecting the lives of others is vastly spread across the spectrum…as I believe should be the goal for everyone.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      I hadn’t thought of it that way. Thanks Abby. Now if only we could make more “happy ever afters” for our children. So we keep trying.

  • I’m glad you have novels and writers group to provide a break from the sadnesses and the sheer relentlessness of life, Mary. I find it hard to escape although I don’t face the challenges you do, so I understand the obsessiveness that can overtake us. I’m glad you found a positive way to channel it. Did you ever use the porn star icebreaker?
    Alison Golden recently posted..Warrior Woman Wrap-Up- One Year Ago

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Alison, must have missed this. You have always been such a dear friend. You help me more than you know. The “porn star” icebreaker in Wheelchair Becky–“Smokey Woods” always makes me laugh–though my 90 year old mother never “got it.” Which also made the family reunion more fun–now we have another grandma joke. 🙂

  • Carly Yorio says:

    I think it is important for everyone to realize what other people can teach them. Whether a person has a disability or not, everyone is capable of imspiring others and teaching valuable life lessons. I think that it would be useful in todays world if people had a more open mind about others and realized what they could offer to you. For instance, while in elementary school there was a student with autism that I sat next to everyday.I would help explain assignments and write things in his plannner to help him remember. We ended up growing really close to each other and he taught me a lot of things about life. I am very grateful for the relationsip we established and I think he has a lot to do with my desire to be a teacher.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Hi Carly,

      What a wonderful testimony to “inclusion.” You helped the student with autism and he gave you a vision of who you could be as an adult. I’ll bet you’re going to be a great teacher and inspire both co-workers, parents, community members and kids with and without disabilities. We all can learn from each other. Thanks for giving us such a beautiful example.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge