What is

A Zen buddhist teacher told me once – anything that happens in life is an opportunity to practice.  I remember my feeling of irritation when she first said that to me.  As the years pass I think of her and her statement often.  Whatever it is that is happening – if I can suspend my judgement and not label it as good or bad, but just as what is, I have taken away one more obstacle.

I think of Emma, beautiful, amazing Emma, who is unique and like no other child.  Her autism is neither good nor bad, but what is.   Even as I write this I can feel the tug in my chest, the little voice whispering to me, no – it is bad.  As though by accepting I will have given up.  As if my judgement will somehow make it go away.  As though the label will somehow change it.  I am not in the we-must-accept-and-do-nothing group.  I am in the – my labeling her autism or anything else for that matter as bad does not take it away – camp.  It just adds one more thing that I am fighting.

My practice is to continue the fine art of balancing what is with what I wish to be. What I wish for, what I hope for, what I work so hard for is to help Emma become more independent.  To celebrate her strengths, to encourage her to sing, to join her in her joy of music, to push her to work on her spelling, reading, writing, typing, math and language.  To gently lead her away from her rigidity, to embrace her silliness, to urge her to explore and be curious.  While I am doing that, I continually remind myself that each moment is a moment that simply is.

Emma is and for that I am eternally grateful.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:   www.Emma’s Hope Book.com

New York City Empire State Building taken from the High Line last night.

2 responses to “What is

  1. MICHAEL “the gorilla” MORRIS

    William (Bill) Morris is the Founder, Chairman, CEO and Chief Creative Person of All Things Good for Adults, Athletes, Kids and Grownups, this narrative was prepared as there is interest in making a movie called the Michael Morris Story:

    My son Michael is Autistic, Michael was stoic, he was a vegetable in the eyes of the experts, and he began speaking at the age of 5, right before he turned 6. My wife Elena and I have put thousands upon thousands of hours conducting their own research, and found it necessary to bypass the status quo of existing Autistic research.

    According to me (Bill) the current Autistic research is great for statistics, exposure and the raising of money for the pockets of the so called do gooders, but scores negative as it pertains to results, results being cures.

    Generally, Autistic characteristics’ do not surface until around the age of 2.

    One of the major problems of having an Autistic child is parental denial which causes the problem to go unchallenged for years and sometimes never.

    Then when an Autistic child has been discovered by others, the parent often times, attempts to put blame on the child’s most recent immunization shots; as a result, attempting to convince others that their child has been victimized and that they the parents are genetically pure. This is a tragic set of circumstances.

    Michael’s HAD all of the documented characteristics associated with an autistic child, such as, walking on his toes, unable to cross the street by himself, hiding behind me in public, inability to make friends, unable to speak, he created an incomprehensible babbling language of his own, he was unable to look a person in the eyes, had screaming fits over nothing, kick a door, or wall or anything that was in his way again over nothing.

    He held the appearance of daydreaming for hours, in a frightening state of being completely-stoic; as well as change, in almost every circumstance in life as things change from day to day; Michael WAS unable to accept change.

    One of the very difficult functions of life, as it pertains to Michael was his inability to put two things together; if two things were required to make something happen, then he would do the first step, then stop, then do the second, as the second now became the first. For example, he would take a glass out of the cabinet for a glass of water. The glass would come down; he would put the glass on the counter, then later come back and fill the glass up with water, then come back and drink the water.

    Elena and I have taken Michael from Special Education in public schools to Main Stream in public schools, over a six year period.

    In Michael’s second year of Special Education, Michael’s one & only objective, for the entire school year, was to learn how to draw a straight line and a circle, 7 years later he is now Main Stream and performing all the educational disciplines required of his age. Michael is now 15 years old.


    Michael Morris AGE 9
    With a fist full of 6 blue ribbons

    Michael WAS training to be gymnast, Michael says a “world Class” gymnast. Each year for three consecutive years; Michael has earned 6 first place honors out of 6 events. (High bar, parallel bars, rings, pommel horse, floor exercise and vault).

    Further, Michael is becoming an accomplished pianist, earning honors in every residual attended. Michael has composed his own music, and played Mozart by memory.

    On Sundays Michael and I, his Dad (BILL) ride and race our bikes. Michael won his first bicycle race, second place was not in sight. Many years ago I was ranked 23rd in the world in the velodrome event called the KILO; or one kilometer, which is 6.2 tens of a mile, which is considered a sprint. My cycling was weekends only as my corporate life prevailed over my athletic life.

    Michael’s cousin is Bill Johnson; Bill won a Gold Medal at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games for downhill skiing. In addition Bill won 3 gold’s in 3 World Cup races.

    Michael’s older brother Haldane was on the USA Cycling Team and has won over 30 California/Nevada and Arizona District Championships. Haldane is currently Manager Sportif for Yahoo’s Cycling Team.



    Michael is on a very strict disciplined program, which works; Michael Gymnastic training WAS for three hours a day for 3 school days, or 9 hours a week. Michael has dropped gymnastics in favor of Track and Field, because his current objective is to become a decathlete.

    Michael practices piano 4 days a week for 20 minutes each day and has one weekly 45 minute lesson.

    He has special scholastical tutoring with me, his Dad (Bill) for two hours 4 days a week. Michael’s mother (Elena) controls and administers his diet for every meal and his piano. I handle all of his school homework and physical training.

    There are two activities that will never change; they are SPORTS and the PIANO. These two MAJOR activities combined with all of the others have pulled Michael out of his stoic autism, to become a normal child. Any disruption to his routine at this time has the potential of Michael reversing his progress and we cannot and will not allow that to happen.

    Hence, our (Bill and Elena’s) techniques of Diet, Education, Sports and Music, enhanced by perseverance, caring and love are the proven cures as they pertain to our son Michael.


    It is the belief of several qualified individuals that our son Michael will achieve a new world’s record in the 100 meter track and field running event; at the 2012 Olympic Games, or sooner, Michael will be 16, in 2012. But, the 2012 games will not happen, as he is not ready.

    When Michael was 14, he ran a 100 meter sprint in 12.22 seconds, which puts Michael only 2.75 seconds from a world’s record. His time of 12.22 was done in his last year of Middle School; this was accomplished without any formal training, in June 2010.

    AGAIN, REMEMBER: Michael was Autistic, in his second year of Special Education School, his one and only objective was to draw a straight line and a circle; Michael is now cured, due to athletics, music, education and diet. Michael’s final grades in 8th grade middle school were 3 “A’s”, 2 “B’s” and 1 “C”.

    He is now in his second year of High School; last year as a freshman he was the top freshman in the shot put; he stopped running about to focus on the shot put.

    His school is noted to be the best in track and field, in our area, for this reason is why Michael is going to this school.

    Following are some pictures that may interest you:

    AGE 15
    Michael showing off for his mother

    In all of Michael’s competitions, he will be wearing OUR Track Shoes. His shoe laces will be colored in bright PINK, because Michael just lost his 40 year old cousin to breast cancer, she also had 5 children ages from 3 to 15.

    Our entire shoe line will be called, BBGS (BIG BUFF GORILLA SHOES), Michael may also be wearing ONE PINK BBGS Track Shoe.

    We are going to see if we can get Lance Armstrong to assist in his endorsement, as it pertains to shoes; as a result, Michael will wear one PINK shoe and ONE YELLOW shoe. The Yellow is for Lance’s foundation, “LiveStrong.”

    Michael’s objective for his athletic future is to be a decathlete, as well as participate in the 2016 Olympic Games, as a sprinter in the individual events, those being the 100, 200, 400 and the 4 by 400 meter relay, as well as a javelin participant and most important as a decathlete.

    AGE 14
    This is one of Michael’s bazaar javelin training techniques. Michael’s javelin goal is to earn a world’s record in the javelin event.

    Michael’s career objective after the Olympics is to be involved in Police Science or Political Science. As it pertains to Political Science he wants to take the same path that Bob Mathais took, only a little better.


    AGE 15

    AGE 14
    Shot put training with 16 pound ball, a 10 pound ball is used for his age.

    AGE 15

    The man in the red shirt asked Michael how many years has he been jumping? Michael said, “three DAYS.”




    Michael is now 5’9” and weighs 210 pounds; he quit playing football and wrestling because he kept on hurting the players, the bottom line is, he really likes track and field.

    The objective of his box jumps is to create a fast start or one second for every 10 meters up to 30 meters, and then Michael accelerates his sprint for the next 6 seconds to the finish, without leveling out. His goal is a 9.0 second time. The Track and Field experts are claiming that a time of 9.51 is the maximum speed a person can go.

    This fact is a huge motivator for Michael to achieve a 9 second time.

    AGE 14



    AGE 14
    Michael enjoys hitting the BAG, as it is good for his endurance, he hits until he is out of breath

    His upper-cut hits, allows him to get his arms moving as fast as possible, as this is necessary for his sprinting events.


    While he is in High School, over the next 3 years, his objective will be to beat ALL of the current High School records AS WELL AS ALL OF THE 10 DECATHLON RECORDS.

    Following are his target times TO BEAT THE DECATHLON RECORDS:

    Day 1
    100 meter run 10.20 seconds
    Long jump 27 feet
    Shot Put 63 feet
    High jump 7 feet
    400 meter run 45.50 seconds

    Day 2
    110 meter hurdles 13.45 seconds
    Discus 184 feet
    Pole vault 19 feet
    Javelin 265 feet
    1500 meter (mile) run 3 minutes 50 seconds

    Following are his world record target events so far, because Michael has three coaches (running, jump and throws) until Michael meets with the jump and throws coaches he will not know his potential:

    100 meter sprint
    200 meter sprint
    400 meter sprint
    Javelin (his javelin training is being done at home, because the school does not teach the javelin)

  2. Thank you for sharing this Ariane…as the “What Is” is a lesson for all of us, despite or rather, because of our situation in life. xoxo Beautiful as you and Emma are!

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