(Guest post by Sara Jackson Johnson –  Sara blogs at Sara in Between)

I walk past this image at least once a day in the park at the end of my street .  I could take a more direct route through to the tube station, but always find my feet walking me this way.  This morning I realised it was time to pen a small note to work out why.

What I see here is intricate and interesting and kind of wrong in the middle of a park full of neat, planned and ordered foliage.  It strikes me every day and I have thought more than once about stopping the park keeper to ask how long it has been there?  Whether the ivy affects the health of the tree?  Is that a stump it’s growing on?  Whether they ever think about cutting it down and releasing the tree of its needy interloper? Or which of them actually came first?

But I never do. Not just because I think the park keeper hates me. You see unlike the other gardeners there with whom I have a happy hello-filled acquaintance, he either avoids my eye with no great subtlety or gives me a grudging smile if he absolutely has to…Anyway, I digress….

I don’t ask because I just love it as it is.  Love that I don’t really know whether it is a stump covered in ivy, opportunistically grabbing onto a tree that was unfortunate to be standing right next to it.  Or that the new tree was planted next to an old thing and they’ve developed a symbiotic need and love for each other.  I love that it makes me slow down, often stop, just to look across and down and up to see whether I can see the join.  Whether the tree is behaving as it should and marvelling at the sheer tenacity of that ivy.

I even enjoy the comparisons I find and the images it puts in my head; about me, my son, his DNA, what a pretty way to see something uninvited become so very…necessary somehow.

However I mostly love that in this picture, the sun is shining down on them both, as it does on us all.  Plain or startling, boring or exciting, healthy or wizened, different or the same.  Not how anyone planned it I’m sure, but glorious nonetheless.

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Our Daughters Differences Lead Us to Stem Cell Therapy

(Guest post by Maria Barber –  Maria blogs at Mommy You Know What)

We have a little girl named Lila, who is 4 years old.  Through all of her struggles, she has taught my husband and I patience, perseverance, how to love no matter what the circumstances may be, and how to look at the differences in others as blessings.

Lila has cerebral palsy (CP).  CP refers to anything that affects the brain (i.e. lack of oxygen at birth, abnormal growth, missing segments of the brain that had not grown in the womb, genetic abnormalities that have affected the structure of the brain).  This diagnosis is a HUGE umbrella to fall under, so we continued to search, as Lila’s CP is very mild.  Until last November, when her neurologist read over her MRI from 2 years prior and realized that he overlooked a very important fact.  Lila’s cerebellum is smaller than normal.

The cerebellum controls muscle tone, balance, coordination, learning skills, speech, etc. Her differences have mostly been seen in her physical sense, walking with a walker and not being able to stand independently, and in her speech.  Your muscles control speech, nevertheless, she continues to push through and try to use her words in social situations with her peers and teachers.  Hopefully Lila will one day have the confidence to interact at the level of her peers, and process this interaction much more quickly than today.

These differences, along with the promise of stem cell therapy, have led us on this journey of fund-raising to help her to have a stem cell treatment this year, with the promise and hope for more stability and balance, better control and confidence with her speech, and faster processing to keep up with her peers.

Some of you may be thinking…,”she has abnormal growth in her brain, is it really possible that something can help her cerebellum to regain growth and heal?”  YES, and thank goodness!  When anyone has a part of their body that is growing slower than normal, this means that the blood vessels which surround this area are constricted, not bringing enough oxygen to that area.  Stem cells help to regrow/open up those blood vessels to bring more oxygen to that area and promote growth.  Stem cells have also been known to regrow neurons.  Lila’s cerebellum has a chance to grow and get her back on track in the event that we can all give her this gift of stem cell therapy.

Please check out her blog at Mommy You Know What.  This will explain more about our beautiful daughter, her struggles, her smiles, and our fund-raising efforts.  Please join us on our journey, and share our blog with others who may need to see the positive side of the world of special needs.  The beauty is in the eyes of our special children!

I will be sure to drop in again at Different Iz Good and give you all an update as to Lila’s progress.  Look forward to sharing with you all again 🙂

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Taught So Much By Someone So Little!

(Guest post by Alisha Marie Peters – Alisha blogs at The Moments That Change Everything)

Happy Girl!!

Just her attitude, nothing unordinary at all, other than the 15 lb body cast!

I like my fellow contributors have thought long and hard about what my first post should entail. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to say exactly what I want. But it’s a start, and I promise next time will be better!

I have always thought of myself as a very accepting person. Accepting of differences, of mistakes, of anything really. My background taught me as much. Mostly that what happens to you does not define you, but it does help you in who you are. All things that happen to us can be either good or bad, but we can always learn lessons, and no matter what, our attitude about things is the key.

Most would probably say that I have had a difficult time in life, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that. It has taken me over 25 years to realize that my attitude toward everything is entirely up to me. And yes I could be mad and sad about everything, but I don’t want to be. No one has taught me better about this than my daughter. She has had it harder than anyone I know. With a total of 10 surgeries by the age of 2 1/2 and most likely 2 more before her third birthday, she has endured much more than anyone should in a lifetime.

Emarie does not complain about anything ever. And I really think, how can I complain or be upset about anything when she never is? The one whom everything directly affects. And she doesn’t just take it in stride either, she takes everything with a smile and a giggle 🙂

Here’s just a little example. This video was taken after her 10th surgery, which was the biggest and most elaborate surgery yet. It was a hip surgery to correct a displaysia she was born with. She had to be in a 3/4 body cast otherwise known as a “Spica” for close to 6 weeks. This little girl was happy and smiling the entire duration of the cast.

Happy Feet, or Rather, Anything I Can Wiggle!

I think we can all learn something from this most amazing little girl who is still shy of her third birthday!

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The Power of Different

(This post contributed by Camilla Downs – Camilla blogs at

We are blessed to live in different times.   I am blessed to have been chosen as Lillian’s Mom.  Not only does Lillian hold a special power that we “typical” types don’t, she has infused me with power just by being my daughter.

Fairy Princess Lillian

What silliness is this you say? I have accomplished goals and am on my way to accomplishing even more than I ever thought possible in my pre Lillian life.  More than the “before Lillian” me would have ever done! I strive to remind myself to enjoy every single day of the journey I am on.  To not have thoughts of “I’ll be happy when this, that or the other happens” or “I’ll be happy when I reach this or that goal”.  I have discovered that it’s not the destination that matters at all, it’s that I choose to enjoy the journey of getting to that destination.  Because there will always be another destination, another goal.  My time here will be done when I don’t have any more goals or destinations.   Lillian Darnell, self-proclaimed fairy princess, has helped open my eyes, heart and soul to knowing that it’s “the journey” that matters, not the destination!

I know that most of the power comes from within me; but Lillian has added to that and has given me a different view of things and life. There are still times when I don’t slow down and see, hear or think in a way that she does so that I can understand her and her world.  There are times when I am not compassionate and I should be. Lillian reminds me to think differently.

Had I not arrived in a different place than planned, I would never have realized the power, wisdom and compassion that lies within me ~ Camilla Downs ~

Lillian has more power by way of her differences than I can even comprehend at times. It is my hope that she figures out a way to tap into all that lies within her; and I will help her in any way I can (even if that means not helping sometimes).  Some may disagree, but I tell Lillian that she is Different and that she will, and it is okay, to use that to her advantage in her life. She doesn’t really know what the heck I’m talking about right now.  Hopefully one day she will!

Those who have met Lillian and those who have children like Lillian, who are differently-able, who are unique, recognize THAT “something” very special about her and them.  There is no word to adequately describe this.  These children hold a power that some just don’t see and/or don’t understand.  I see it. I don’t always understand it.  But, I see it.  Do you?

Different iz Good . . . Different is Powerful!

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