The Stranger on the Lawnmower Is the Best Part of This Photo


What do you see when you look at this picture?

Look at the whole scene… I will paint a different picture for you than the one you are looking at.

It was a crisp fall afternoon. The sun shining down and warming the air, and leaves danced in the breeze across the sidewalk. My son, Beast, and I got ready to walk to school. Hand in hand, we approached the sidewalk. I heard some kind of machinery as we got closer to the school. I figured it was the guys working on the sidewalk. Beast would be excited to see the machines working! Getting closer, I realized it wasn’t the construction crew working — it was a lawnmower, and it was mowing the area where we wait for a para to get Beast for Lunch Bunch.

Walking up the sidewalk and getting closer to the mower, Beast leaned his head into my side and wrapped my arm around the back of his head, covering his ear — a head hug to block out the noise.

Creeping toward the door, Beast stopped several times. He needed reassurance and coaxing to move forward.

Suddenly the noise got softer… The gentleman must have noticed how distressed Beast was, because he pulled as far away as he could and parked the mower! He wasn’t upset when we stood outside the door waiting for seven minutes. He wasn’t rushing us. He didn’t start the mower back up when we didn’t go into the school right away. He waited until the door was fully closed and I was walking back toward my van to start mowing again!

I told him thank you, like, 10 times, explaining that Beast has autism and loud noises really scare him.

What he did was extremely appreciated. He didn’t have to, but he did.

He could’ve ignored what he saw, but he didn’t.

He noticed a child in distress because of what he was doing, and he stopped!

A version of this post originally appeared on Finders Seekers on Instagram. Follow this journey on Finders Seekers.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment a stranger — or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible love. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.




When I Became a Mother to a Baby I Would Never Hold


My first baby died in 1991.

I was 22 years old. It was my first pregnancy. We were overjoyed. We took great delight in telling everyone. We started dreaming up baby names, and I started writing.

I reminisced yesterday about how my first many years of writing caused me to develop a callous on my right ring finger (and yes if you just checked, I do hold a pencil propped on the wrong finger). I had piles of journals full of writing going back to the years of teenaged angst and crushes on boys.

And now here we are in 2015, writing from our phones, iPads, laptops and desktops. With the Internet at our fingertips, we can share what we think with others in a matter of moments.

If then were now, I would have shared with you my joy. I might have even given you a glimpse into the things I was thinking and dreaming about my baby.

This is my journal from 1991-1998 that was specifically devoted to writing to my children before they were born. The ultrasound photos are of my son, Nicholas. They have been tucked in that book for 23 years.

I wrote:

February 25, 1991

Your life is a miracle. I hope that someday you will realize how miraculous and how wonderful you are. You, my dear child, are a reflection of love…

I went on to write out Psalm 139, which I have spoken and prayed over each one of my children more times than I can count. I wrote of telling grandparents and soon to be aunts and uncles the good news. I wrote about love and hopes and dreams. I wrote about nausea. I told this little one how Daddy would lay his face close to my belly and pray and speak love and kindness.

March 15, 1991

….even your fingerprints are evident, and if something were placed in your hand, your tiny fingers would curve around it. You can squint, swallow and wrinkle your nose. You are almost 2 inches long. Aren’t you amazing? Mommy’s tummy is starting to get a little bulge. I am so hungry!….

We are starting to decide on names for you. It’s so fun getting ready.

And then I woke up the morning of April 2nd and everything changed. Things were not right. We rushed to the hospital. My baby was gone. I needed surgery.

My heart broke.

April 7, 1991

So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.” I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and gall. I remember them and my soul is downcast within me. Yes this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him.”

My dear child,

It is so different now this time as I write. I weep because I will never rock you in my arms…. I weep because I will never see you grow into a young man or woman, I will never laugh with you or cry with you, never watch you from a distance with a mother’s pride, and never have you near to thrill my heart and fill me with joy…..

And I continued to pour out my heart to my child.

People reached out to me. Women who had also lost shared that I wasn’t alone. They knew this pain. A few weeks of hugs and meals came and went, and then mostly I was alone with my journal and my pain.

May 3, 1991

It has been over a month since the loss of our child. I have not been doing well. It seems that the reality of our loss has hit extremely hard recently. Sometimes I feel so empty and confused. It seems like those around us must think we are “back to normal.” I guess I’m good at giving that impression….

And so I kept writing.

May 5, 1991

Everything reminds me of you baby.

I try so hard not to cry, but that day that you died,

Life ran out of me,

Just like these tears now running down my face.

Your tiny heart beat echoes across my mind,

Fading away like a whisper in the night.

You’ve drifted up to heaven’s arms,

Heaven holds you now my darling,

But everything reminds me of you.

Miracle of life, Mystery of death,

“A time to be born and a time to die,”

Your time came too soon for this mother’s empty arms.

But child know one thing, I will come to you one day.

And you will fill these empty arms,

But until that day, sweet child.

Everything reminds me of you.

I wrote about my first Mother’s Day. I wrote about how I had to learn to share my feelings with my husband, John. I wrote about John’s struggle on Father’s Day. I wrote about seeing other babies and the feelings it would stir.

I wrote and wrote in a little blue book I would write in for the next eight years.

Other babies came. Beautiful babies. I wrote many more pages in this little blue book.

But I became a mother for the first time in 1991 to a baby I would never hold.

One day many years later, I would have a dream, a dream of beautiful little girl with long flowing blonde hair and crystal blue eyes running in the most amazing field of color and light. And she was mine. I knew she was mine.

Follow this journey on From the Heart.


To My Son With Autism Who Doesn’t Realize He’s His Little Sister’s Hero


Dear Son,

You probably don’t realize it, but you are someone’s hero.

You earned that title nearly five years ago when you first met your little sister. The baby who was in the NICU for three weeks you waited so patiently to meet. You were only 6 years old, and when I asked you what you thought of the tiny girl hooked up to all the wires and monitors you said, “She’s amazing!”

Jodi Shenal.3-001

Amazing was an accurate description. She had defied the odds. We were told she would likely be “incompatible with life.” Thankfully, she had other plans. She entered the world as a fighter, and that personality trait has only grown stronger over time.

Over the years, your bond with her has strengthened, and it’s easy to see the depth of your love for her. Although she is unable to speak, the twinkle in her eyes and the squeals of her laughter convey how happy she is when you are around. You read your video game books to her and also record your voice onto her favorite iPad apps, giving them a familiar and personal touch. If she is upset, you immediately go to her and try to pacify her. Knowing she can’t tell you what’s wrong, I can see the worry on your face for her.

You are so helpful. When we arrive at school each day to drop your little sister off, you instinctively get out of the car and pull open the trunk so I can remove her wheelchair. Routinely, you proceed to open her car door and ask her if she’s ready to see her friends. Then, you always unbuckle her car seat as I bring her wheelchair around to place her in it. You carry her little pink backpack with “Frozen” characters on it, no matter how much you detest anything “girly.”

Last year, when you attended the same school as her, you would stop by her classroom and remind the teacher to “take good care of her.” If you saw her being pushed down the hallway in her wheelchair, you would run up to her and give her a hug or kiss her forehead. You didn’t care if anyone saw you; it didn’t bother you to show affection to her in front of your friends.

You recently began writing a story about her and her classmates that you want to share with her class. In your story, you refer to them all as superheroes and describe how they have the power to “change bad guys into nice guys.” You tell me with an empathetic heart how these children work hard to overcome challenges and how that also makes them superheroes. You can’t possibly know how proud you make me feel.

You told me once you would like to care for her when I become too old to do so. At 11 years old, you told me she would live with you someday and have her own room in your family’s home. In that moment, I knew with certainty you were wise beyond your years. Your autism spectrum disorder has given you a great, impressive intellect, and you have a kind heart of equal greatness to match. I worry about you, too, just as much as I worry about her. I want life to be wonderful for you, and I strive to make things easier for you. Without realizing it, you do the same for your little sister and me.

Thank you for wanting to be such an integral part of her life. Thank you for being a hero of a big brother.

You are her hero, and you are also mine.


Why This Photo Is More Than Just a Kid Going Down a Slide


We have some time before dinner, so we go to the park to play for a little while. All three of us head to the playground equipment. My son, Bubba, is in the lead. I help my daughter navigate the first step, and she quickly lets go of my hand. She walks in the same direction as her big brother, so I assume she’s following him.

Jill W.2-001 She walks with confidence and determination past the small slides, across the bridge, past her big brother and up the steps of the big slide. When she reaches the top, she gets on all fours at the mouth of a slide. I gasp and yell, “That’s a big one, honey! Be careful! Bubba, go help her!” And before he can get to her, she disappears down the slide. I hold my breath.

In this moment so much flashes through my mind. This is not just a kid going down the slide. Oh no, it’s so much more than that.

It has taken us five years and six months to get here.

It has taken more than 200 physical therapy sessions and almost as many occupational therapy sessions.

Three sets of braces/orthotics.

Hours of cheering her on, holding her hands as she tried to walk or climb and helping her move her little arms and legs to get them to do what is being asked of her.

Countless massages to work out the pain and knots in my back from carrying her ever-growing body, contorting myself to help her with the latest exercises and crawling next to her.

This is the first time she has gone down the big twisting slide on her own.

At this park.

This is the park where we had her 3rd birthday party when she had to use a walker.

This is the playground bridge that terrified her, so she would instantly drop to her knees and crawl on it even after she could walk.

This is the park where I felt judged as an “overprotective parent” countless times as I navigated the equipment with her to keep her safe.

This is where I have spent hours feeling sorrow, hope, jealousy, joy, exhaustion and reinvigoration.

Then she reappears at the bottom of the slide all smiles, and I can breathe again. I offer my hand to help, but she gives me a high-five instead and walks straight back to the steps of the slide. And she rides down it three more times. Bubba cheers then continues to play.

She’s a big girl now and looks (mostly) like any other 5-year-old enjoying the park. And I am standing there, looking like an overprotective mama with tears in my eye, taking her picture at the top of her first big twisting slide. I text the evidence to her first physical and occupational therapists and her daddy. They know the glory of this moment is more than just a kid going down a slide.


The Note That Helped Pull Me Out Of My Depression


About a year ago I went off my medicine. I was just feeling so goodish and normalish, I decided it was time to try life again without meds. Sometimes medicine can be used as a life boat to get you from drowning to solid ground. I thought I was on solid ground. So anyway, I went off and had some good months. But then, well, I kind of went downward from there.

It’s hard to explain what it’s like when I slide back into anxiety and depression, but I’ll try. You know how when something scary or really hard is about to happen you feel fluttery, wired and nervous until it’s over? Anxiety is a little bit like that, except “the thing” is never over. The thing is life. And the constant fear, jitters or whatever it is makes it impossible for me to enter the moment. This is the best way for me to describe it — I’m never grounded. Never relaxed. Never present. On stage in front of thousands or in my kitchen talking to my daughter about her day — I am not there. You can look at me and see me, but I’m not there. All my energy/thought/emotion goes into calming my nerves and soothing myself. Anxiety is like a shaky hovering.

Good times.

And depression is like putting a heavy, itchy blanket on top of anxiety. It’s like pouring spilt pea soup all over fear. It’s like a sucking out of the soul. It’s a disappearing act, really. It takes all the colors that a person is and bashes them all together until no color is left at all. All the person is or feels or reflects is gray, gray, gray. There’s not life anymore, just existing.

And I know this. I know this. But it doesn’t matter.

When anxiety and depression first set in, I assumed I was tired. That lasted a week or so. I got extra rest. Then when I didn’t feel better, I switched up my diet. Less sugar usually helps me feel better. I committed to yoga and exercise. I was very tender with myself. I spent a lot of time in bed just babying myself. I read my comfort books. I upped my therapy. I spent a lot of time snuggling my people. Curling up in a ball on my husband’s lap. I reminded myself there are gifts inside these times.

And then after a couple of months, sitting on the couch after snapping at my husband and the kids for the millionth time, I realized I was just gone. I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t remember why I loved life or what was special or good about me.  And something about “what’s the point?” made me remember something.

Sometimes I have my “down-self” write notes to my “up-self” to help me with therapy. I also write notes from my up-self to my down-self to remind myself who I am.

So I ran to find my note. This is the one I found.

Note to myself

Don’t be afraid. Remember.

So I called my doctor and got back on my meds.

A few weeks later I was sitting back on that same couch, folding my kids’ laundry and watching some stupid Bravo show  I felt a wave of joy. I love this life, I thought. I love the smell of that incense and I love making these teeny piles of clothes. I love trash TV and I love being alone in this house. And, oh my gosh! Wait, what? Joy? Is that joy I’m feeling? I’m back, baby! I’m back. So I called my husband and then I called my sister and then my parents and said I’m sorry I was gone for so long. I’m back. I’m back now.

So now I’m in the returning part, which has its own challenges. I feel so grateful. But I also feel fresh — new, baby-like — vulnerable, exposed, skinless. Like a soft shell crab that has outgrown its previous shell but hasn’t quite found a new one to wear yet.

For me, these depression times are exactly like an eraser. They come and stay and when they leave, they take everything with them. The only way I can describe it is that I feel totally new — like I’ve forgotten all the wisdom I learned before. Like I’m starting over. It’s a little distressing for a writer. I don’t know anything again. It’s like spiritual amnesia. I’m Dory from “Finding Nemo”: Wait! Where are we? Hold on: Here I am and I swear I knew some things yesterday! What were those things! Oh, who cares! Look! A whale!

I hate it a little bit. I feel untethered. But when I talk to God about it, when I say to God: What’s the deal with all the erasing? God says: Honey, take heart. I’m doing a new thing.

And when I say: But I worked so hard to know all those things, God. And it’s my job to know things. People line up to hear me say things I know

God says: Silly. You know nothing. You don’t teach by knowing, you teach by loving. You can do that. They don’t come to hear what you know, they come to hear your awe. And awe comes from having childlike eyes. Fresh. Post-erased eyes.

Beginners mind, they call it. Depression leaves us no choice but to begin again and again and again with beginners’ minds and eyes and ears and hands. Depression leaves no room for pride. What a beautiful thing.

This piece was originally featured on Momastery.


8 People Who Prove Having Depression Doesn’t Make You Lazy


What you think of someone who experiences depression, who do you see?

Is she locked up in her room, shades down, watching soap operas? Is he finishing a carton of ice cream and writing sad poetry in a diary?

Whatever the stereotype, the truth is this: Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults − about 14.8 million people − live with major depression, and about 19 million experience depression in any given one-year period.

But having depression isn’t an indicator of whether or not you will succeed. Millions of Americans aren’t hiding in their rooms. Here are some badass, accomplished individuals, who also happened to have experienced depression.

64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals 1. Jon Hamm

In 2010, the “Mad Men” star opened up about his experience with chronic depression. “I did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me,” he told The Observer. This year, Hamm finally won in Emmy for his portrayal of Don Draper, a successful advertising man with a dark past.





2. Amanda Beard


She’s a model, swimmer and seven-time Olympic medalist. She’s a former world-record holder in the 200-meter breaststroke. She made her first Olympic appearance at the age of 14. She’s also experienced depression and lived with an eating disorder.

Her husband Sasha Brown helped the athlete reach out for help. “I always thought if someone saw my true colors, they would just turn away,” Beard told MLive. “He didn’t. He was very loving and supportive.”

Her memoir, “In the Water They Can’t See You Cry,” chronicles her journey with mental health issues.

unnamed-1 3. Philip Burguieres

As one of the youngest CEOs ever to run a Fortune 500 company, Burguieres actually resigned because he feared the stigma around mental health problems, according to PBS. He never used the word “depression” when explaining the situation to his peers, and the cause of his resignation was cited to unspecific “health problems.” Even doctors blamed his experiences on the job or “situational stress.”

But it really wasn’t just the job, and it wasn’t just stress,” Burguieres told PBS. “I think my major episode was really the culmination of undiagnosed depression, a condition I had been fighting for years.”

He eventually made a full recovery and re-entered corporate life as vice chairman of the Houston Texans.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 11.57.35 AM 4. Stephen King

Author of “IT,” “Carrie,” “The Shining,” 51 other novels and nearly 200 short stories, King has dealt with both depression and addiction. “There were nine months when I was out of gas, depressed,” he told The Guardian. “And despite what some people say, depression is not conducive to good writing or to bad writing,”



Premiere Of New Line's "A Nightmare On Elm Street" - Arrivals 5. Kid Cudi

The rapper has been open about his experiences with depression and suicidal thoughts in both interviews and in his music. “I know what that feels like, I know it comes from loneliness, I know it comes from not having self-worth, not loving yourself,” he said about experiencing suicidal thoughts to HipHop DX. In a genre that typically doesn’t address issues of mental health, he’s a two-time Grammy award winner.




Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 12.09.07 PM 6. JK Rowling

The creator of the beloved Harry Potter franchise was actually experiencing depression when she wrote, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” These dark times manifested themselves in the one of the mystical creatures in her series, Dementors, hooded creatures who feed off happiness.


Opening Ceremony And 'The Great Gatsby' Premiere - The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival 7. Cara Delevingne

Model and actor Cara Delevingne experienced depression during her rise to fame. “[In my] external life, I couldn’t be luckier or more blessed,” the 23-year-old said in an interview at the Women in the World summit. “But internal battles were going on. I also felt like I never deserved [the fame]. That I was living someone else’s dream.”

Most recently, Delevingne starred in “Paper Towns.



8. Sarah Silverman 

"Wreck It Ralph" Australian Screening - Arrivals

The comedian recently opened up about depression in a personal essay in Glamour magazine, where she discusses first experiencing the symptoms at age 13. “I went from being the class clown to not being able to see life in that casual way anymore,” the essay reads. “I couldn’t deal with being with my friends, I didn’t go to school for months, and I started having panic attacks.”

She began recovery, got hired as an writer-performer for “Saturday Night Live” at age 22, but relapsed again soon after.

Since then I’ve lived with depression and learned to control it,” Silverman shared with Glamour, “or at least to ride the waves as best I can.”


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