Sweat, Tears, and a Prayer for Humanity

When I was in my thirties and my children were young I became very ill. I looked fine to most people, but I didn’t feel fine at all. I battled insomnia for about seven years. I was exhausted and severely fatigued. I ran on adrenaline most of the time. At the height of my illness I once went 23 days with only a few hours of rest each night, induced by Ambien. The pain was almost unbearable. My kids saved my life. Being here for them kept me going.

2008 photo by Kathy Nemeth Kayne

While chasing down my symptoms I ended up with several diagnoses. Fibromyalgia, Epstein Barr virus, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are the main ones that have stuck with me. It took me a while, but I had enough doctors ask me about my level of stress and push prescriptions at me to understand that I just needed to biohack my body so that’s what I did. At some point I realized that my body had stopped sweating altogether. I found this to be more alarming than the extreme sweating I had been doing throughout my heart palpitating fitful nights for the few years before. Not sweating didn’t feel right at all. So I went back to the hot yoga my mom introduced me to when I was in college. It took me a few months of just going into the hot room and laying on my yoga mat three times a week before I finally broke a sweat again. I never really discussed it with anyone, but I knew that it was something important. Our bodies are made to hold and release water. I’ve realized through my biohacking that my body doesn’t always do that very easily on its own. I wonder why.

I’m the same way with crying. I just don’t do it very often. It is something I should probably start tracking because it can’t be good for me. I’m certain it’s as important for my health as being well hydrated or sleeping. I wonder if the sweating and the crying are part of my same wiring? What I know is that the sweating was something new that happened when I was sick and was never an issue before. But I’ve never been a crier. I’ve always been stoic. Sort of unflappable. I’ve become curious about the meaning of this part of my human design.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a robot. It’s not that I never cry or that I don’t feel things deeply. I absolutely do. I cry uncontrollably sometimes. Just not very often. During my sickness I experienced a kind of crying breakthrough. I remember being at a museum with my kids and our friends. It was winter break and we had a good time with our friends. I had nothing particular on my mind as I was driving us home and then out of nowhere the tears just came. There was no reason I could think of, but it became clear that my body just couldn’t hold whatever it was in any longer and the water was coming out in buckets. As it turned out, I did release a bunch of emotions that I had stuffed deep down. My thoughts about feelings I had over the years that I didn’t even recall at all came spewing out of my mouth in what felt like projectile verbal vomit all over my now ex-husband. It felt like a kind of out of body experience for me and an unwitting assault on him.

I think back on the few times I have cried hard like this because I wonder how the tears sometimes feel like they rush in with such intensity and without control and then other times not at all. I have experienced a lot of pain. Anyone who really knows me can see this. But the things is that I don’t feel like crying. Why? Recently I began wondering if there is a specific therapy that would release me from this human design feature that just feels wrong. Surely, I have enough pain stored up for a few weeks of uninterrupted bawling. But nothing until about a month ago when suddently every day for a few weeks I had tears running out of the corners of my eyes all day long. It was strange and annoying. Enough so that that I thought about chasing down the symptom. But then it stopped as suddenly as it had started. Fascinating. I interpreted this symptom as my body telling me that I better get more water out even if I wouldn’t cry. I haven’t found cry therapy, so back to hot yoga I go. It’s so good to sweat.

Today I sat with one of my teenagers as they wailed at the world that has been so cruel to them, especially the last few years. I listened and I loved my beautiful child struggling with PTSD and I wept beside them. My heart ached as I listened to them wail about how humanity is lost. How they wish the world was just different. Given all we’ve been through over the last few years, I wish the same thing. What we have experienced and witnessed over and over again can make you lose faith in humanity. At least some of the time. I’ve been there. For me, I really just try to remain focused on the more immediate human problem rather than all of humanity.

What I see is that our school system is lacking humanity. So I pray for all of humanity that the adult human beings who are in charge of our schools will bring their focus back to the young human beings we are supposed to be educating. That’s all it really takes. Focus on humanity. In the meantime, I’m going to do everything I can to change it because there are just so many kids getting hurt. I know because I’ve got three of those kids myself.

I have faith that we can change the world if we can just focus on humanity.

1m3s ✌🏼



Community is the Solution

I don’t actually recall if anyone has said it to my face, but I know that some people think that it’s my own fault that I have so many problems. It’s impossible not to see that I have a lot of problems if you’re paying attention. I have three teenagers. And who doesn’t have a lot of problems? I’ve found that life comes with an endless supply. Some are more difficult than others and there are always solutions.

A good friend of mine recently explained to me that I have five karmic corrections. I don’t exactly understand that, but it does give me some relielf. My friend is able to see in me what I already know. My life is hard. Now I know that it’s in the stars. Karmic corrections. It’s a tangible reason that explains why my life is hard. Otherwise, it looks like a choice or it looks like it is my fault. And I always knew that it is not. Even if others don’t see it that way.

Sometimes I know that people assume that I make my life harder than it needs to be. I guess that is theoretically true and maybe even actually true, based on my own abilities and inabilities. I am not perfect. But what people are really thinking is, do I really have to fight so hard? Yes, I do. It’s my life and I don’t see giving up as a choice. I’m pretty sure now that my soul might just end up with a sixth karmic correction if I don’t fight when I know that I can. The truth is that not fighting is not something I would ever consider. It’s my life. They’re my kids. It’s my responsibility. They are my family. I am also intentional about always trying to do what I think is right. It is my foundation. And I was born this way. A fighter. I feel fortunate to be this way. And I am very aware that not everyone is able to fight the school system for their kids like I am. Not everyone can afford to. They can’t make the time. They don’t have the money. They don’t have the skills. They don’t know the law. Not everyone knows their rights. Someone has to do it. It’s the only way that change is made for others. It’s why I am a civil rights lawyer.

The truth is that my life looks like a mess because I’m open about it. I’ve never really been afraid to talk about it, but I am aware that sometimes it makes other people feel scared so until recently I have tried to keep it close. Only those closest to me know what is going on in my life. This is still true. I have a lot of people in my life who really don’t know anything about me. They see as much as they want to see. It’s just not always comfortable. I certainly haven’t often written or spoken about my experience until now, but I wish I had. Maybe I wouldn’t be so isolated. Maybe the trauma my family has endured wouldn’t have been so intense if we had more people who understood what we have going on and what we have been through. The truth is that is the reason I started writing and speaking. People need to know.

Another good friend says that now I’m living out loud. I guess that’s true, but it doesn’t feel loud to me. I just wasn’t born to be loud. I’ve always been quiet and observant. Stoic. And I have learned a lot. That’s what living a hard life does for you. I am grateful for this wisdom. My life is a master class I am here to share. Now I can’t seem to get my story out far enough or fast enough or wide enough. Or loud enough.

Because I am a well-educated, middle class white woman living in a good neighborhood, I live in a circle of people who can often afford private services, private therapists, private evalutators, private schools, private whatever their kids need. I’m not criticizing this. I can afford some of those things. I am fortunate. These things have become necessities that many people cannot afford. That’s why they suffer. I also live in a circle of people who were raised in a privileged environment themselves. They were fortunate in that way, but that has not been my experience. I know what it’s like in the public school system and so do my kids. Sometimes I imagine how nice that protective bubble must feel. I don’t have time for envy. I have to keep moving and fighting. Sometimes it feels like I’m treading water or running in circles. And I am known to take others’ hands along the way because I know they need the support. It is a lot and it is a choice, but I know that’s what I’m here for and I believe that we are all in this together. Privilege is irrelevant to me.

Here are the facts. The education and health care system data reports show that problems like my family is experiencing (i.e., trauma, illness, truancy, dropout) affects only those who come from challenging circumstances like poverty, homelessness, and addiction. I’m here to tell you that this is not true and that these reports give people a false sense of security. It makes people think that they are not susceptible to such unfathomable things. It makes people think that these things are only challenging for people who have always struggled with these things. People who are not white or middle class. People who are not privileged.

I’m here to tell you that no one is immune to these problems. I know that this is just part of life at the moment because I am living it. I know this because I haven’t met a parent with a school age kid in quite a while, particularly those in our public school system, who doesn’t have problems similar to mine. Perhaps I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but I want to make sure you do so I’m saying it out loud. Our systems are failing us and it’s because they have not been built to serve our needs and because they are only focused on money and not on people. Our public systems are not focused on you or me. This is the same world we are all living in together.

That’s all the time I have today. I need to get back to it. Be safe and take good care of yourselves.

Peace and light always,



Public Testimony on 12/5/19

Public Testimony – Colorado Behavioral Task Force/Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Deaf Blind


My name is Lisa Weiss. I am a children’s and disabilities attorney and an education policy specialist.  I am also the mother of a deaf teenager. Max is the reason I was asked to speak at this Town Hall meeting today and I want to thank you for giving the deaf community an opportunity to be heard. 

My deepest wish is for people to understand that deaf people are just like everyone else.  They are just people. I have found the systems in Colorado to be difficult because of this one thing. I know that the state agencies responsible for serving deaf people don’t understand.  This is not for lack of people’s good intentions. I know the people who work at these agencies care. It’s because of lack of exposure. It’s because assumptions are made about what deaf people need by people who are not deaf.  Over the last nine years I have witnessed the exclusion of deaf people in the meetings where their fate is being determined for them. To me, that’s the biggest problem. We need deaf people at every level of leadership and there are almost none.

I have the privilege of living with a deaf person and being a part of a deaf community.  I oftentimes work in predominantly deaf groups. I understand the barriers that exist when the communication is inaccessible.  I understand that inaccessibility is at the core of all of the struggles for our community. It is a barrier to everything. People are wired for communication.  It is a basic human need. It is the reason communication is a civil right. Without the ability to communicate there is no opportunity for meaningful understanding or connection.  For a meeting of our minds. What I wish people would understand is that this does not only affect the deaf person, this affects the whole group.  

What I also wish people could see is that for a person in an inaccessible community, this one thing often is the reason for their behavioral health care need.  Without access people can easily become isolated and withdrawn. We become depressed and anxious. I want you to try to imagine what it feels like to be fearful and to feel excluded everywhere because you can’t understand what is going on so you can’t connect.  It’s not that difficult to imagine that at some point you really only feel safe in your own home. That is Max’s experience and that is our family’s experience.


I want you to know that I was raised in our public school system.  I am a supporter. I moved back here when my kids were young because Colorado boasted of being a leader in deaf education and I wanted my kids to attend the same schools I did.  I wanted my kids to go to the schools where I felt safe. But this isn’t the same school system. Our school system is no longer focused on its mission. Kids. From my perspective, our childrens’ social emotional needs are ignored unless their behavior becomes disruptive.  Then they are restrained, suspended, or just pushed out and forgotten. There is little regard for our children, for our teachers, or for families.

Please understand that my experience is not just limited to Max.  I have three kids and I can tell you that life has been extremely challenging for my family.  All three of my kids have had adverse childhood experiences in the public school system and have been unable to attend school or have their needs met.  As a mom who has kids who are gifted and who also have disabilities, I can tell you that it has gotten to the point where it is nearly impossible to get kids like mine safely through our school system.  That’s because our school system has lost focus on the whole point of education.  

As for our deaf kids, I know they are being harmed. Their accessibility needs are being neglected because the systems of support haven’t ever been set up.  The services they need are too difficult and expensive for school districts so they just don’t provide them. I have heard often enough that parents are not complaining.  This is not true. I know that our deaf kids are being neglected because of systemic failure and Max has been traumatized as a result. Our family has endured a lot. Let me be clear.  I do understand that the accessibility needs are not just being neglected in the school system, but this is where I have been living until now and it is what I can personally verify. 


All that said, in terms of behavioral health care outside of the school system, I think I can fairly say that Max has been fortunate.  Especially relative to what I know about Max’s deaf peers. When Max needed it, I was able to find a private therapist who focuses on deaf adolescents and could work with Max. I didn’t have to worry about Max having access, which I know can take time to get set up.  

Now Max is fortunate to be recovering from PTSD and the effects of social isolation at school.  Max is benefitting from the programming at the Mental Health Center of Denver. There Max is able to participate in groups and activities with other teens.  That’s because MHCD has been compassionate and patient and generous. That’s because MHCD is focused on their mission. That’s because MHCD sees deaf people as people. 

What MHCD is also learning is that not all deaf people are alike. I have found this to be a real problem, especially in Colorado’s agencies. People need to understand that the deaf community is diverse. Deaf people speak. Deaf people use hearing technology. Deaf people use American Sign Language. Deaf people use something called Cued Speech. Deaf people use written language. There are many ways to communicate. The accessibility need varies depending on the person, the circumstances, and the setting.


Our deaf community is relatively small.  We are easily overlooked without focusing on us. The services we need are oftentimes costly for organizations to provide and most people do not even understand what we need.  

I want to encourage this task force to make this community a priority.  Organizations in Colorado must be supported to understand how to meet accessibility needs.  Colorado needs to build an overall system of support. It requires education and it requires dedicated funding.  Accessibility must be factored into every organization’s budget. And the system needs to call on a diverse group of the people in this effort who understand the accessibility need.  The deaf people themselves are the leaders we need. 

Thank you for your consideration.



I have not been paying much attention to the impeachment hearings. I know to some people that probably makes me seem like I am out of touch and maybe I am, but I know myself well enough by now to realize that I don’t need the impeachment hearings running through my head every day. Besides, my husband is deeply into it and he is a human being who is designed pretty much like a megaphone crossed with a tuning fork. That means that I am really not missing out on much and it still stresses me out. It also stresses him out, but he’s not as protective of himself as I have learned to be. I just hope it’s all over soon.

I don’t blame my husband for his curiosity. Back in the day I myself was devoted to following the OJ Simpson trial and I got caught up in the news scrum after the 2016 election for a few months, so I definitely understand the entertainment value. For the most part I have never really watched the news. It’s just not for me. I prefer to read my news. I just don’t have that kind of bandwidth.


But I do have a lot of respect for the whistleblower and for the civil servants who have been testifying this last week. I’ve heard the term whistleblower a lot lately, but I don’t know if there is much attention being given to who a whistleblower really is. The legal definition of a whistleblower is “an employee who brings wrongdoing by an employer or other employees to the attention of a government or law enforcement agency and who is commonly vested by statute with rights and remedies for retaliation.” This is what I found when I looked it up just now in the the Merriam-Webster.com Legal Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-Webster.com/legal/whistleblower. Accessed 23 November 2019.

What I think is that a whistleblower is simply someone who is willing to shine a light on something that they know to be wrong. Someone who is willing to stand up (or sit down) and put it on the record. What I know is that it takes an enormous amount of courage. I’ve heard enough of the impeachment hearings on NPR while I’m driving around town to know that these courageous people are being portrayed as hateful. I just don’t see them that way at all. From my perspective, these people have been called to action from a place of love, out of duty and honor.

There is also one thing about these impeachment hearings that is a constant reminder for me. It is something that has come up for me over the years whenever Rudy Guiliani is in the news cycle. You see, I was one of Guiliani’s lawyers.

This really isn’t a big deal. I defended the City of New York under Guiliani’s administration for a hot minute almost twenty years ago. I was just a baby lawyer trying to figure out how to practice law. Truth be told, my 29 year old self didn’t even think very much about my boss and I never even met the person. But over the years whenever it has come up that I was a lawyer under Mayor Guiliani’s administration it has felt awkward. There is something about revealing this truth that makes me brace myself for the person’s reaction. Just a smidge. It’s because I never know what kind of an assumption a person might make about me based on this professional association. Especially now that everyone is learning so much about him.

Oy. Guiliani really is a hot mess.

I realize now having worked under other administrations that my connection to Guiliani has always felt surreal to me only because he has such a high public profile and I am just the opposite. It is in my nature to fly under the radar. What I know is that everyone is connected a lot more closely than any of us usually stops to realize. I am one degree of separation from Donald Trump. If you know me, that means that you have only two degrees of separation. This is the kind of stuff that blows my mind.


The degrees of separation between human beings has long been fascinating to me. Pretty much ever since I saw the movie Six Degrees of Separation when I was still in high school. The theory of six degrees of separation is that any person on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.

What I’ve come to understand about this is pretty simple. Our connections to people, no matter how distant they may seem, do mean something. The closeness of my connection to Guiliani and now Trump is a reminder to me that what I do does affect other people. It does matter. No matter how much you think it doesn’t, it does. We are all connected and we are all responsible for one another.

I just learned through a website about an organization called Transparency International and that June 23rd is World Whistleblower Day. Who knew?


College Visits

I’m on a plane ride home. I was visiting a college with one my 17 year old twins.

Honestly, the whole college visit thing is a little bit foreign to me. I really can’t even remember doing it myself at the same age. Unless I count the time I drove up to Boulder from Denver with my girlfriend and our two guy friends we had asked to our high school winter dance. I’m pretty sure getting stranded at a fraternity house after a party and sleeping on the floor of their older brother’s room shouldn’t be counted as a college visit though. It wasn’t my proudest moment.

The point is that I don’t actually remember looking at colleges the way I am for my deaf child. When I was a senior I knew I was expected to go to college. I followed the path set out for me. Gap years weren’t a thing yet. I applied to a couple of in-state schools because that’s what my parents were willing to pay for. I was accepted to both schools and decided to go to the one where I slept on the sticky floor with my friends that one unfortunate night. I chose CU-Boulder because I knew I was going to have my friend as my college roommate. It was a good choice.

From my perspective, it doesn’t really seem like all that much has changed in the college choice process since 1988. The thing that has changed is amount of pressure on kids. And on parents. I don’t remember my public school friends applying to a dozen colleges like my friends‘ kids do now. Maybe I was just oblivious. It wouldn’t be the first time.

To me it just seems to be an exorbitant amount of stress that has resulted in parents getting too involved. I understand that parents are just worried about whether their kids will be able to manage without them. I get that. I talk to those parents all the time. We all know this. My god, there are celebrity parents facing jail time because of their messed up college choice process

I’m not that kind of parent. I just am not interested in living that kind of hyped up, stressed out, competitive life. That’s part of the reason I moved back to Colorado from New York. I didn’t want anything to do with that pressure cooker. I didn’t want to raise my kids that way. I have never and would never encourage my kids to apply to a dozen colleges. I guess it’s because my own college choice process worked out just fine for me.

I think I am generally the same kind of parent to my three kids that my parents were to me and my brother. I assume that my parents trusted our capabilities or at least trusted that we would ask for their help when we needed it. They supported us when we really screwed up.

Choosing a school for my deaf child should actually be pretty simple. There are only a few schools to visit because there are only a few that they are interested in. They are the schools that have been recruiting my child for the last few years. You see, my child is deaf and wants to go to a deaf school. Or at least a deaf program. My child doesn’t have to go to a deaf school, but wants to. Not for the reasons that people might think. My child is able to get along pretty well in any school with effective access. Theoretically, my child could go to any college and get the communication access they need. But my child wants to be among their deaf tribe. I think maybe my child needs it. People may never be able to understand what it’s really like to be a parent to a child who is born deaf. I often find myself wishing that we were all deaf. The truth is that we are all becoming deaf.

The other day, the New York Times published an essay by a writer that we know. It was a cause for celebration in our world. Through her words she gave voice to so many of us who struggle with belonging in the deaf community. Like my child, the author is deaf with parents who are not.

One thing she wrote about was the fear some parents feel thinking that Deaf people will take their deaf children away from them. I do understand this fear. I have sensed it from some of the parents I meet and I have even heard it uttered by some of my friends. But I don’t share their fear and I never have. Here’s why. We are bonded. We are as close as any mother and child can be. Just like I am with my other children. That’s because we can communicate completely and naturally and without the need for hearing or learning any new languages. I can talk to my child at the same time I talk to anyone else and without changing my words or interpreting them into another language. That’s because we use Cued Speech.

Despite the bad rap that “hearing” parents get from some people in the Deaf community, I am actually the opposite of these fearful parents. I want my child to go to deaf schools. I love the pride deaf schools instill in their students. It’s important. I do my best to instill this sense of pride in our family. Deaf schools would have always been my preference for my child, but it just isn’t as simple as that. The deaf schools don’t understand or normally provide access for deaf kids who use Cued Speech. They insist that everyone conform to using American Sign Language. It is not a language that has been easy for us to learn.

Now as we take a good hard look at these few deaf programs, I am worried that the communication accessibility issue that should not be a factor at any school might actually be as complicated at a deaf school. These schools are recruiting my deaf kid yet deaf kids like mine face the same problems at these schools that Deaf kids face everywhere else in our “hearing” world. Why should any deaf person be required to learn a whole new language before they can get an education at a deaf school? How does this make sense?

So I am happy to be visiting these schools, but it is not exactly the experience that most of my hearing privileged parent peers are having. I am visiting these schools to make sure that these deaf schools will provide my deaf kid with the kind of access they will need.

My child is not a signer. My child is a talker and a Cuer. My child’s native language is spoken English, just like mine. Of all the schools in our country, these deaf schools must be able to understand and accommodate and accept deaf Cuers because when it comes right down to it they are all in the same boat. My child is deaf just like anyone else who is deaf. And believe it or not, my child is not the only deaf kid in this situation.

I hope they will do the right thing.


My Twin Towers

Anniversaries are a funny thing. Truthfully, I hadn’t even thought about the date today until a dear old friend posted a comment on my Facebook. Adam and I practiced law together in New York City and he is the one who reminded me of today’s anniversary. He is the one who reminded me to think about my own story from that day. Thank you, Adam.

Truth be told, I have not often told even my closest friends or family about my experience with 9/11. Some people don’t even know that I lived in New York City at that time. You see, there were other people in my life who had stories that seemed so much more important or interesting than my own. So on 9/11 I disregarded my own feelings and quickly, without a moment of thought, stuffed them down deep. That’s what I do. That’s what I’ve always done. I know it’s not healthy. That’s why I write now.

It took me a decade to finally begin valuing my own 9/11 experience. And it required therapy. My therapist did not even realize I had been impacted by 9/11 because I had so much regard for my ex-husband’s story that I disregarded my feelings about the experience completely. I had not being there guilt. I think she called it survivor guilt.

My ex-husband’s story really was powerful and it is also only his story to share. And at the time there were people who thought the world wanted to know about it. I can still recall the voices of Katie Couric and Oprah on our answering machine and the other end of the line. They both called our home phone in the hours and days after the tower was hit. Maybe that’s one of the reasons it has taken me a long time to realize that my own experience also has value.

Fortunately for me, when the plane hit the World Trade Center tower I was still laying in bed in my brownstone apartment in Brooklyn. That’s one reason why I thought my story had no value. I wasn’t even there. I wasn’t one of the people running away from a burning building, running through ash and smoke and chaos like my boyfriend, my friends, and my colleagues. And I wasn’t one of the people trapped underneath the World Trade Center, which is where I most likely would have been if I had gone into the office that morning as I had planned. That was where I was pretty much every morning when I went to law school and worked in Manhattan. The subway underneath the World Trade Center was where I ended my morning commute.

I had been on a plane myself on September 10th. I had taken a sabbatical from the stress of my job as a defense attorney for the City of New York. I had rented an apartment in Paris by myself and spent a few weeks traveling with friends and then come back to the states where my boyfriend and I vacationed with my parents in Hawaii. He went to work that morning, but I did not have immediate work to get back to so I was taking my time getting up. All of my active cases had been reassigned before I left and I had planned to go back into my office that morning to talk to my department chief. So when the tower was hit, I was still blissfully unaware.

I was alerted to the tower being hit by my landlord, Alba, a sweet and kind hearted woman from Colombia who lived downstairs. She owned the brownstone with her late husband, Stanley. My boyfriend and I rented the apartment, which was the top two floors. A small closet in the hallway of our apartment provided the only access to the roof. I was finally roused by Alba pounding on my door so she could get up to the roof. She told me the tower had been hit and she wanted to see it with her own eyes. I did not.

Everything about that day is a little blurry and always has been. I turned on the tv as soon as Alba told me what had happened. What I could see immediately was that the tower was leaning and it looked like it was going to break apart and fall over. I was worried about my boyfriend who worked in the World Financial Center across the street from the tower. He called me twice shortly after and these quick phone calls reassured me that he was okay even though the tower had not come down yet. People had not started evacuating other buildings at that point. But I had heard his voice and, in my mind, that meant that he was alive. As much as that made no sense at all, that’s how I felt and what I thought as I moved through that day. He was okay. Everything would be okay.

I remember talking to a few people on the phone. My boyfriend’s sister. My mother. Instinctively somehow I knew that I was never going back to my office. There was no reason for me to think this so it must have been from somewhere inside. I remember wandering around Brooklyn on foot. I remember going to an office store to buy a fax machine because I was going to be looking for a job. I remember lugging that fax machine home. I didn’t have a car. All I know now is that I felt sure that day that my life was going to be different. I had no idea then how much.

I did talk to my boyfriend again toward the end of the day, so I had been right that he was alive. He was trying to figure out how to get home. We talked about people he could contact. Places he could stay that night. I didn’t know then if he was coming home that night. Ultimately, he walked home and walked through the door looking as he always did after work, which surprised me. The only difference was that he had walked, that he was not wearing a tie, and that he had quite a story to share. And I just felt numb.

What I remember now about the days following was that it felt as if someone close to me had died, but there was no process for the death. No funeral. No sitting shivah. No mourning or grieving process that I could recognize. I knew a lot of people who were there that day. Of course, there were a lot of people who died, but I didn’t know any of them. All of my friends and colleagues survived.

Those first few days there were people calling trying to get in touch with my boyfriend. Important people wanted him to tell his story. He didn’t want to discuss it with anyone. He just wanted it all to go away. He began having nightmares. Neither of us was going in to work because our offices had been damaged so badly. And we really weren’t talking about it much at all. I think we probably just wanted everything to go back to normal. What was normal?

I wonder now if the death that I was feeling was a piece of me that died during that time. I couldn’t talk about my own feelings because I didn’t feel like I deserved to. My only story was his story. And he didn’t even want to talk about it with me. I wonder now if the death that I was feeling was also a part of us that died, him and myself together.

There were real, tangible ways that my life changed after 9/11. At least, in my mind they were direct results of my 9/11 experience. Most importantly, the conception of our twins and later, my youngest child. I have no doubt that they would not have been conceived but for 9/11. For this, I am eternally grateful for that day.

God bless us all.

Photograph of my three children made by Kathy Kayne, New Jersey, 2008

1m3s ✌🏼




Hope has been on my mind a lot over the last week as I think about what it must feel like to be my 16 year old. Despite everything that has happened to her over the last few years at school, she has practiced forgiveness and patience and has continued to hold out hope that people will do what they promise and what is right. I have always been patient and I realize that I tend to be a hopeful person, too. I think I’ve always been that way and maybe that has rubbed off or maybe we were both just born that way. I don’t really know how that works. What I do know is that we are both people who can be patient and who look for hope. The way I see it, these are qualities that weigh heavily in our favor.

People are very curious about my daughter, but they don’t always seem interested in the ways she needs them to be. Right now they’re more interested in her gender identity. It’s the question I am most often asked. Even when I am in the middle of a conversation about what is most affecting her. Her deafness. I get it. Not everyone has a transgender person in the family and it must seem like the biggest deal in the world to a lot of people. I guess it is a big deal, but not to me. Not right now. She is almost 17 years old. I’ve known that she didn’t fit quite right into the gender role she was assigned at birth since she was as young as six years old and I found her in one of my formal dresses adoring herself in a full length mirror in my bathroom. I have a whole photo shoot of that moment. I need to find those images on my computer. She knew she was and she still is beautiful. Her labels are irrelevant to me. She is the same exact person she has always been. I’m not here to tell her who to be and I never would. People praise me for this attitude and tell me how lucky she is to have me as her mother. I appreciate that and I know that is true because I know that not everyone accepts their children for who they are. I just feel like her mother. Lucky to have her.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that there are people who are curious who support her and accept her, but what I truly wish is that people would take an interest in the fact that she is deaf and she is being discriminated against. It’s a big deal. It makes her really expensive to educate because she needs an interpreter at school. She is entitled to it under the law, but we have to fight for it ourselves. The discrimination against her as a deaf person permeates every single crevice of our lives. She has been traumatized. It hurts every person in our family. It’s hard when hope falls out from under you and you feel hopeless. It wipes you out and makes you feel depressed. That’s just what hopelessness does. That’s why hope is so important to me.

She wrote something the other day about what it feels like to be discriminated against. I read it. Yesterday she asked me if I know what it feels like. I don’t. But I know what it feels like to be the mother of someone who has been discriminated against. It is hurting me deeply. I can only imagine what it feels like to be her. Now at a time when she is most vulnerable, she has been betrayed again by the same people who have been hurting her all along. She just hoped they would fix the problem. It stands to reason since that’s their job. So far hope and patience haven’t worked out in this situation at all. Not for either of us. She has been an educational refugee all year because she doesn’t have an interpreter. It is a struggle to find any benefit for her at all in our schools. And she’s certainly not alone. The people who have hurt her were supposed to teach her. It turns out she is doing the teaching. She speaks up for herself. She doesn’t hesitate to speak publicly about how she has been mistreated because she is deaf. She wants to call the police. She doesn’t understand how discrimination, especially against a child, isn’t a criminal offense. Why doesn’t the law work that way? She filed her own complaint about how she’s been discriminated against by the school system because it’s just plain wrong.

I was texting with her the other day and she said that she was glad that it was happening to her instead of someone else. I actually know that’s not exactly true. I’m certain that there are other deaf kids who are suffering in the same way, but I didn’t say that to her. She feels like the only one right now. Instead I asked her why she was glad it was her. She said that it has to happen to someone for things to change and that she knows not everyone can handle it. She said she knows she can because she has become so used to it. It felt like an arrow was shot straight into my heart. I am raising a leader and only a few of us can see that. She knows it. That’s the only thing that really matters.

I am amazed at her resiliency and so thankful for her. She hugged me and thanked me yesterday for always being her rock. I am thankful that I am strong and that she knows that, too. But it is the kids who are going to have to lead us out of this mess because the adults are just failing. We live in an adult world where we have to navigate through lawyers. I am in awe of her simplistic power.

And there it is again. There is always more hope when I look for it.  I love that about hope.

Bad Words

This is me at work in 2019 in my official capacity at the Colorado Department of Education where I was employed as a Dispute Resolution and Policy Specialist and a Senior Consultant. My primary responsibility for 5 years was to investigate formal state complaints brought on behalf of children who are entitled to special education services under the federal IDEA regulations. You can still read many of my written decisions on the state’s website. Currently, I work as an educational interpreter most days and a community activist focused on building up the skills of our school industry that serves children.

Badass (4t1t3s). I looked it up. There are a plethora of definitions when I search the word on Google. Personally, I prefer the definition provided by Urban Dictionary, which is “someone who becomes mentally stronger despite having lived through adversity.”

Nailed it.

This word has been coming up for me a lot. After a fair amount of consideration I have to say I’m a fan. Please consider my use of it to fall under this definition.

I’m not ashamed to use it. Forgive me if you’re offended. It is what it is.

With all 1c 3m3s1c2s5s and in 1m3s ✌🏼 always.

Lisa A. Weiss, J.D.

Solid Ground Denver

Testimony in support of Colorado HB 21-1014

I wrote the following on March 24, 2021 in support of a bill championed by colleagues working with the Invisible Disabilities Association.

My name is Lisa Weiss and I am the director of advocacy programs for VALIDEAF, a national non-profit with a mission that serves the diverse deaf community. I am a proud native and resident of Colorado who has invisible disabilities myself. I am also a juvenile and disability rights attorney and education policy expert who has worked in public service for the last 22 years. I am writing in support of Colorado HB 21-1014 that will make a difference in helping save lives and raise awareness of people who are deaf or are living with disabilities, particularly those that are invisible or misunderstood.

As a person with invisible disabilities myself, I am concerned about others like me who may at times need accommodations related to physical access even though we may not appear to have a physical limitation to others. Living with a persistent medical condition does not always look like what people assume. It remains an unfortunate myth that all people with physical disabilities require a wheelchair. I have seen this in action when airlines pull up to the gate to assist my deaf colleagues with a wheelchair. I have also seen this in action when my friends with invisible illnesses are harassed for parking in spaces assigned specifically for them when they don’t exit the car with a wheelchair. The truth is that the person themself is in the best position
to determine the accommodations and access that they require for their daily living, work, and community needs. Sometimes a person simply needs to park closer to the entrance of our workplace so that person doesn’t exhaust themselves before they start their workday. I worry about all of these people every day.

And as the mother of a young adult who is deaf, I cannot tell you how many people still ask me if deaf people can drive. This is another persistent myth that is based on a cultural misunderstanding that hearing is necessary to be safe. It is not. But there are laws in place to ensure that peace officers take appropriate steps to communicate effectively with deaf people because access is the issue for safety. This obligation does include providing sign language interpreters and auxiliary aids, but beyond this there is a clear need for peace officers (and the general public) to understand how to communicate with members of a diverse deaf community.

This is where it gets tricky and I have found this problem to be twofold. One is based in a general misunderstanding about what it means to be deaf. I have found over the last 16 years as a hearing mother navigating the world with a deaf child that there is a persistent myth that all deaf people only communicate using visual language. This is simply not true. The truth is that some deaf people only communicate with visual language. And these people need access to communication in the visual language that they prefer and are able to understand. The second is due to the lack of awareness about how prevalent deafness really is. I often wonder who in our world doesn’t know someone who is deaf (or going deaf) since I know that EVERYONE is becoming deaf. It is difficult for me to imagine knowing this and knowing that approximately 15% (or 37.5 million) American adults aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing and that one in eight people in the United States (13% or 30 million) aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing exams. I worry about all of these people.

My point is, this bill is intended to promote awareness, to provide training, and to ensure the protection of our community. Not just for a few people, but for most people. It is important that the public servants who are called on to serve our community are able to do so and that means being able to identify needs and provide appropriate accessibility depending on the person, the circumstances, and the setting. I hope that this bill will move forward with due diligence and without undue interruption.

Peace and solidarity always,

Lisa A. Weiss, Esq.
Director of ValidADVOCACY Programs

It’s Called Cued Speech

The following is an oral presentation about the deaf Cued Speech community that I wrote in 2018. Or was it 2019? I can’t recall right now. In any case, I was offered an opportunity by Janet DesGeorges, who is the Chairperson of the family advisory committee for the national Early Hearing Detection and Intervention conference to lay out Cued Speech for the group. I remember at the time it felt like a big deal that Cued Speech was being offered a place at a table. Any table.

I happened upon a hard copy of the “speech” I prepared for the lunch group that day. I want to be sure to give credit to Benjamin Lachman who helped me to write and prepare to present the facts. Please understand that there is a growing list of Cued Speech resources around the world so this speech is not providing a complete list. These were the noteworthy resources that Ben and I identified at that time.

Finally, if you want to find me working on Cued Speech related projects in any kind of a “professional” capacity, please come find me and my family and friends doing Colorado cultural digging and game playing as a public service. I work as an educational interpreter and advocate at our family based grassroots organization called Solid Ground Denver.

Here is our new Solid Ground Denver logo and right now you can find evidence of our cultural existence at this website. https://ccraweb.com/partner-programs.

So here we go.

I believe Cued Speech builds a human bridge. I see the deaf community as I see every other segment of our population. It is part of the human diaspora where we all belong.

At your service, in our community and in 1m3s ✌🏼 always,

Lisa A. Weiss, J.D.
Educational Interpreter, Mediator, Public School Policy Expert, and Cross Pollinator from Solid Ground Denver



EHDI Family Advisory Committee
Cued Speech/Cued Language(s) – A Place at the Table

What is Cued Speech?

Cued Speech is the system that constitutes the mode of communication that visually conveys cued American English (and other spoken languages). It was created only five decades ago with the singular purpose of supporting literacy in deaf and hard of hearing people. Today it has grown into 60+ visual adaptations for other spoken languages around the world and has found multiple benefits beyond the deaf and hard of hearing communities.

What is cued language?

While Cued Speech is the *system* of conveying language, the actual act of cueing a language is often referred to cued language. There’s a small but marked different between Cued American English and Cued British English, for example. We are not saying that cueing is a language, we are saying that a language is being cued. The fundamentals are highly adaptable to phonemic based languages. There are some exceptions but the majority of languages are feasible.

In my experience, the reason Cuers aren’t loud is because we do well. There isn’t a lot of discontent. Our kids do well in school and go on to do well in life. We are often invisible because we blend right in. We don’t “appear to be deaf”. But we really do need this voice. And sometimes we do get angry because sometimes we really do get hurt. It’s when we don’t get the communication access or the recognition that we deserve. It’s the same as those who are loud about ASL. We just don’t have any support. Cued Speech is a redheaded stepchild. Cuers are left on our own to educate and advocate for ourselves. We build our own resources. We do our own research. Outside of our community, Cued Speech is a complete mystery to almost everyone.

There are many myths and false perceptions that have been perpetuated as Cued Speech became stuck in the LSL vs. ASL debate. But the cueing community is not the tiny minority most people think it is. It is difficult to know for certain just how may people are using it, but we are very aware that there are many more of us out there who we don’t even know. It is adaptable. It’s diverse. And it’s growing. The 2017 NCHAM EI Snapshot Report showed that almost half of the survey respondents only use one mode of communication and 12% of those people are cueing (49% LSL only; 3% ASL ONLY). It can be, but is not required to be, a stand-alone strategy. The overall deaf community is diverse and the cueing segment of our community is no different. Cuers span the breadth of it. This is because cueing is what you make of it. It is complementary to both LSL and ASL. By definition, it can and already does work in parallel with Listening and Spoken Langauge as well as in a bilingual program with ASL.

The issues we need to address:

  1. It’s not difficult to learn. Families are able to learn it in their own homes and may never connect with another person who cues. The EI Snapshot showed us that 10%+ of families are choosing to use Cued Speech in their homes. It also showed that families reported fair to poor access to information and resources about it. This is the primary issue we need to address.
  2. The majority of pre-service higher education programs for DHH teachers still don’t include Cued Speech in their coursework, there is indeed a larger segment of DHH educational professionals than people realize in the public education sector which support and have implemented the use of Cued Speech.
  3. There is a prevailing belief in the greater DHH field that Cued Speech has only been used when parents like myself have made an isolated request for it for our children and that there is no data proving its efficacy. This isn’t true. Cued Speech programs are localized with various hot spots, which means the majority of cueing services requests are in school districts that do not have existing programs in place or any knowledge about Cued Speech at all. In addition to the available empirical research about Cued Speech, these programs have actual data; they have years of experience and student performance data proving the efficacy of Cued Speech on English language acquisition and literacy.
  4. School districts are under the impression that it’s difficult to integrate cueing into a mainstream setting. This isn’t true. They just don’t know about it. Many families like my own have to bring cueing into their school district and work with the district to develop services that work for that student and the community. This is a huyge burden on families like my own and the school districts where we live often don’t know where to begin. We couldn’t tell you how many times we’ve heard people say, “we have an oral program and a total communication program here in this district. Choose one of those.”

What do we need?

We need exposure. We need support. And we need inclusion.

We have to address what the EI snapshot report highlighted, which is that “the majority of families are receiving excellent or good quality information about communication options except for Cued Speech.” 76% of famlies reported excellent to good information about LSL and 67% reported excellent to good information about ASL. Only 43% reported excellent to good information about Cued Speech. The Cued Speech community has developed the resources, but we are stretched awfully thin.

Once a child is identified, if a family is interested in cueing, they could start giving their child access to the language of their home as quickly as within a few days of starting to learn to cue. The hope is to offer the infrastructure to do that and the awareness that the infrastructure exists. We are here to serve everyone.

  1. We need families to be provided with consistent and reliable information about Cued Speech along with all of the options for language development. We need to develop a plan to systematically provide training and materials about Cued Speech and the diversity of the cueing community to states’ family based organizations (e.g. states’ Hands and Voices Parent Guides and states’ EHDI networks).
  2. We need parents to have access to free training in Cued Speech on the NCHAM website similar to how parents have access to free training videos in ASL on their website.
  3. We need states supporting efforts to expand current adult Deaf ASL mentor programs for parents to also provide that for cueing.
  4. We need early interventionists to receive instruction and training in Cued Speech. Training for state level EHDI coordinators on how to communicate what Cued Speech is and what its purposes are.
  5. Audiologists and EI providers should at the very least have some working knowledge of what its purposes are.
  6. Audiologists and EI providers should at the very least have some working knowledge of what it is and what its actual purpose is. That information needs to be developed by people who are deeply knowledgeable about Cued Speech.
  7. We have a ton of great resources already. We need support to keep growing and we need them infused into the systems that are supposed to support us all.

Here are our resources

National Cued Speech Association
CueSign, Inc. – Fully inclusive programming with ASL and Cued Speech
Cue College – online platform (cued speech instruction and tutoring services)
Daily Cues – free learning resources
TECUnit – skills assessment unit
INSCert – Instructor workshops and certification
Language Matters, Inc. – transliterator training and agency based in North Carolina

Sunflower Power

This piece was written by my son, Cole, as I was starting up my LAW Access Education LLC practice with the support of my cohort in a program called Legal Entrepreneurs for Justice. Cole is now officially an adult at 19 and is studying photography and archaeology. He was 17 at the time he wrote this and he gave me permission and his trust to use his writing however I thought it could be useful. If you are lucky enough to know Cole you may already realize that he is an incredibly generous and kind soul and that he also has a wonderful way with words. Cole also trusted me to use his picture of a sunflower that he made in the 4th grade. This original picture has hung in my office or home since 2014 where it has provided me with a daily glimpse of bright light and hope and a reminder of his innate inner strength and optimism. It has been used as the catalyst for a few other projects and actions myself and my husband (and other individuals and organizations) have taken in an effort to spark a bit of Cole’s gift into the world around us. Cole and I hope that you enjoy both of his works featured in this post.

Peace and love.

Lisa and Cole

Cole Jackson Tucker, Grade 4 (Summit View Elementary, Highlands Ranch, Colorado)

“In Japan, lapel badges hold special meanings relating to law. These badges are called kisho. Most renowned are the badges worn by trial lawyers (bengoshi), and the one we will focus on today is the one used for defense attorneys. This badge is a 16 petaled sunflower with an imprint of scales in the center. The scales are an obvious symbol of law and justice, but the sunflower here is what we will be focusing on. I will get to that in a bit.

Legal badges in Japan are lent to lawyers by the JFBA, or the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. These badges are an easy way to recognize lawyers, and are taken very seriously. They are to be interchanged with anyone and are to be returned if the lawyer in question is disbarred, convicted of a crime, bankrupt, or dead. Badges are easily lost in things like laundry, and are a pain to replace as each badge is stamped with a specific serial number. These badges are taken as identification for a lawyer, contrasting us in the United States who don’t get fancy cool badges. 

Japanese pin

There are two types of trial badges, the sunflower and the chrysanthemum. The chrysanthemum is known as the Imperial Seal of Japan, and is representative of a prosecutor’s status as a government official. The prosecutor’s badge known as shuso retsujitsu, has white petals, golden leaves and a red jewel in the center representing the sun. The name means “autumn frost, scorching sunlight”, and it symbolises the poignance of punishment and the upholding of the principles expected of a prosecutor. 

But the sunflower I write about today is a perfect contrast to this extravagant government badge. This type of badge holds no allegiance to the government, only the law. The sunflower petals represent the pursuit and celebration of justice and liberty, and the scale in the center of the badge refers to fairness and equality. Both the trial lawyer and the prosecutor both pursue justice but are there to promote different principles of it, and ideally should reach a fair conclusion.

Hope and recovery from strife is also part of the sunflower, though it does not refer to any sort of legal connotation. Sunflowers have been noted to be able to extract toxic elements from soil, and have been specifically sought after for their ability to remove radiation from soil. Ever since the Chernobyl Incident, the Ukraine has used sunflowers to absorb radioactive elements from the soil. So Japan used sunflowers after their nuclear power plant, Fukushima Daiichi, had a series of core meltdowns and explosions on March 11, 2011.  After harvesting the sunflowers they were decomposed, and the radioactivity in the soil was lessened. 


Principles like these seem to be present in my mom’s job, so I recommended the sunflower for a symbol, since her job is about justice, fairness, hope and moving on from tragedy. Plus it’s nice and yellow, a sunny color that suits this optimistic view.

I don’t really know how to end this document, but I hope my mom serves you well and does the best she can to help you guys. I don’t think I can do much for you since I’m still in school. But I wish you luck. Have a good day.”

Cole Jackson Tucker, Age 17 (Independent Private High School Student)

Dear Boston,

I just spent the last four days in Vermont performing a critical task that I will not be writing about right now. Perhaps someday I will find a way to write about it, but not now. It’s too raw. What I want to write about is you. Boston is where I flew in and out of in order to perform my most important task.

The last time I was in Boston was almost twenty years ago. It was the fall of 2001. I think it was less than a month after the 9/11 attack in New York City, which was a pivotal moment in my life. That’s for sure. That day changed the course of my life.

I’ve already written a bit about my 9/11 experience on Stuck in my Bra and I’m not really thinking about that so much, except that it was actually the only reason I ended up in Boston in September 2001. The truth is if I hadn’t been in Boston that weekend I’m not positive that I would be a mother. I take that back. I don’t believe that I would have been the same mother. I wouldn’t have the same kids. I guess I’ll never really know for sure if that’s true, but that’s what I believe. Nonetheless, I am grateful that I have these three beautiful human beings in my life and for that reason Boston holds a very special place in my mind and my heart. It reminds me of my kids who hold my heart together.

I spent the last 24 hours in Boston and I am now on a flight back home to Denver. Admittedly, I spent most of the last 24 hours barely holding it together. Like I said, my task was painful. I would have had a difficult time containing my tears and my sobs if I wasn’t alone, so I’m glad that I was alone even though I know that the people who care about me wish I wasn’t. The truth is that I have a difficult time expressing my feelings and letting it out full throttle would have been too difficult for me if I was with anyone else. It’s a lot for people to handle. They want to make all the pain just go away. That’s impossible.

My human design is to hold it together and hold it in even when it’s not good for me. I’m working on that all the time, but I am grateful that I was alone this time so that I could let it all out when the feeling came up. I am also grateful to have so many people who love me and care about my wellbeing. I am grateful to have parents who worry about me. I know how much my mom worries. We share the white hair worry gene and hers went white a long, long time ago worrying about me. I am grateful for my husband who worries for me. He loves and takes care of all of our kids even though my three aren’t legally his responsibility. Jason is a godsend.

Anyway, Boston in September 2001. The reason that I was in Boston is because my boyfriend at that time had been relocated temporarily for his job. He worked on Wall Street. Technically, his office was located in the World Financial Center on 9/11 and Lehman Brothers (which is the company that he worked for at the time) wasted no time relocating him so that they could keep their money machine operating. My boyfriend’s life at that time was all about money. That’s the name of the game on Wall Street. Money money money. More money money money. There are people who believe that money makes the world go around. I’m thankful that I am not one of those people. Go ahead, call me foolish. I stopped caring what people think about me a long time ago. Call me whatever you want. I know what’s important to me and that’s all that matters.

My boyfriend and I were shacked up in Brooklyn at the time and I had stayed back. I don’t remember ever considering going to Boston with him at that time. I also don’t remember if he ever asked me to, but I don’t think he ever did. It’s been so long that I can’t actually remember what I was thinking or feeling about him going to Boston, but what my mind tells me now is that I was probably relieved that he was going and I was also emotionally numb. It’s a fair conclusion given that I was mostly emotionally numb back then and I had also just been shell shocked by 9/11. I also know that at that time I had put my law school loans on hold to save up money so that I could afford to move myself back to Colorado. I had registered to take the Colorado Bar Exam even though I was already licensed to practice law in New York and was doing well. I had decided that I didn’t want to live in New York City any longer. I couldn’t afford to live there on my public servant wages and I didn’t want to get stuck. Stuck is the worst. So at that time I was mentally preparing myself to break off our relationship. I couldn’t see a future that I wanted with him.

What I realize now is that I have always been resistant to people who focus their life decisions on money. Unfortunately, working on Wall Street had made that my boyfriend’s focus and I was repelled. Silently and subconsciously repelled, but repelled nonetheless. It was making me sick to my stomach so I knew I had to free myself from this relationship with a man who I cared about deeply. I loved him and I was also repelled by him. My gut is always right.

I think that the reason I went out to visit him when he was in Boston was because he invited me out for a weekend with one of his client/friend’s family who had a vacation home on Nantucket. I think it was Nantucket? I can’t even be sure now exactly where it was, but that’s why I took the train to Boston that weekend. His client and their family were really nice people from Milwaukee and I enjoyed spending time with them. I knew my boyfriend did, too, and that’s when we were at our best together. When we were enjoying ourselves with other people. That was one thing that was enjoyable about the Wall Street life. It allowed us to touch the lifestyles of the wealthy. Some of those wealthy people were good people and they had good lives that they shared with us. For that, I was grateful. I never would have had those kinds of experiences without him. Anyway, we had a fun weekend despite the trauma we had both experienced just a few weeks before.

That is the weekend that our beautiful twins were conceived. That’s it. That’s why I love Boston.

When I was in Boston this time though I couldn’t help myself from thinking about a dear friend of mine who lived in Boston for many years. I’ve wracked my brain to think of someone else I know who lives in Boston and I can only think of him.

Josh Libby was a gem. He passed away recently and it really hit me hard. Most people probably didn’t even realize we were close, but he was special to me. We had reconnected again recently and were on Facebook messenger a lot discussing life and Cued Speech history and drama. Josh was one of my favorite people. He was easy to be around. He was charming and playful and authentic and just a good all around human being. We confided in one another. I miss him a lot. He was one of my favorite deaf mentors and I have had plenty.

I first met Josh when he was the President of the National Cued Speech Association and I was just a baby board member. I had been recruited onto his board because I am the parent of a deaf native cuer like Josh and also because of my professional skillset. They knew that I could be invested in the mission and probably hoped that I would be useful. Maybe I would even fight for them. Of course I will. I don’t see it as a choice. Its my call of duty.

Now my deaf child is grown. She is a deaf leader. She has always been my deaf leader. Whether anyone else recognizes that fact or not, I don’t really care. It’s the truth. That is what I learned by knowing Josh and other people like him. That is what I have learned from my own kids. That is what I’ve learned as a person who has sometimes become disabled myself. The truth is if we don’t take the lead we may not survive in this audist and ableist world.

Here’s the truth about me.

I am repelled by greed. I get fired up by discrimination in all of its forms. I really do love Boston. I love my family the most. And I always choose love. I don’t see any way through this life if I didn’t because I believe that it is love and not money that makes the world go around.

1m3s always,


True Colors

November 3, 2020

Four years ago I didn’t have a pussy hat. It wasn’t a thing I would have imagined so many women wearing. I know lots of people who thought my little group of friends in college were disgusting girls for wearing tampon costumes on Halloween. We just thought it was hilarious and provocative. But then shock humor comes naturally to me.

Pussyhat knitted by my friend, Wendy❤️

Four years ago I was worried that someone whose rhetoric smacked of so many things we’ve learned throughout history eventually results in genocide might become our next president, but I still assumed that our systems would work. And I still believed that more people cared about each other as much as they cared about only themselves.

Four years ago I talked to people who worked in the Colorado public school system every day. Kids were getting hurt in the school systems for sure. Especially the kids I look out for. The hard truth is that they always have. But something shifted in people four years ago and it was obvious to me within days after the last election.

I have worked with public school system administrators to resolve conflict for many years and I had only met a few who raised the hair on the back of my neck. One who was purely politically minded and offered to get me a job as a school district superintendent even though I had absolutely no experience or interest. (Um, what?!!!). And one who spoke disgustingly of a kid who clearly needed accommodations and wasn’t getting them. (That’s just wrong. Time to find a new field.)

Four years ago red flags became a huge wave in my line of work. I could feel the energy shift in our environment the morning after the election on my way into my government office. The darkness and gloom on the streets was visceral. I could sense the fear all around me all the time for the first time I could recall since September 11, 2001. I didn’t even have to talk to anyone to feel the fear all around me.

But my first actual red flag came less than a week after the election when people I actually knew began showing their true colors. I was talking to a school district administrator when the first red flag came up in my job. I’m an attorney working as a mediator and a special education policy expert and complaints investigator. This administrator was someone I had worked with as I investigated discrimination cases in their school district for several years. I knew them to be funny, charming, and I thought compassionate. I was either very wrong or something had changed. All I know is a regular friendly and professional conversation turned into what sounded to me like a school district witch hunt against a kid’s mother. She wasn’t doing anything but her job. It’s a parent’s responsibility to protect their children’s right to a public education. It is the law.

My 18 year old is a natural born linguist. When Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away and everyone was saying her name it got him to thinking. He was thinking about what the word ruth meant. He said everyone knew what ruthless meant. (We sure do.) But what did the word ruth mean?

On Merriam-Webster.com the definition of ruth is: compassion for the misery of another OR sorry for one’s own faults: REMORSE.

We have lost our course as a nation, people. We have lost our ruth.

Find your remorse. Find your compassion. Show your true colors as if you are not afraid. Show that you care about someone besides yourself and your small circle of people who are the same as you. That’s my best advice.



I am 50 years old. I am a native daughter of Denver. I live with my family in a small house that is pretty much smack in the middle of the city. Our house rests on the south edge of Park Hill right off of Colfax Avenue. I have a story.

Yesterday I was running around delivering boxes full of eggs that I was fortunate enough to get my hands on and I was rushing home just before noon to make myself some eggs and spend some time with my family when I remembered that we were out of milk. I stopped at the 7 Eleven around the corner from our house for a quick grab and go where I usually love talking to the people who work there, so I was kind of looking forward to that part. It’s an easy quick shopping stop. This time was anything but easy. As I touched the handle to open the door to the 7 Eleven I could feel the electricity in the building. What I had walked into was a ticking time bomb. It took me only a few seconds to sense what was happening inside that store.

When I walked in an older woman was being harassed by a man who was behind her in line. Apparently, she had jumped the line straight to the counter and he was angry. She seemed scared and I’m guessing she was confused. It’s difficult to understand the lines in the stores these days. By the time I grabbed my gallon of milk and made my way to the end of the 8-10 man line behind those two I heard the man angrily call the woman a bitch. It had probably been 20 seconds? Everyone in the store seemed frozen, unable to react. The men in line were all just watching and probably going through a similar thought process to mine. I know I was considering how I could help the woman. I was so afraid that she was going to be physically attacked.

As I took my place at the end of the line, a younger man walked in. I’m guessing he was in his early 40s, but it’s so difficult to recognize people with masks on. The man took his place between the woman and the man who was verbally assaulting her. The man began standing up for her, telling the man that you can’t talk to people like that. Yes. But it was also making the situation scarier. Now the two men were engaged in verbal conflict. Oy.

At that point I felt like someone had to do something. I just didn’t know exactly what that was. I couldn’t fully view any of the people from the back of the line and I was starting to feel more fearful that maybe none of us were going to make it out of the store at this point. My life started to flash through my mind. My life insurance policy. I need to pay that bill.

I got out of line and went back to the cooler where I got my milk to put it away. I was considering maybe going outside to call 911 or whether I could text 911 and stay at the front of the store. I really didn’t want to see any physical violence added to the verbal violence that was escalating rapidly now as her protector stood up for what was right. I walked to the front of the store to face the line. I quickly observed both men. The woman’s aggressor was about a 40 year old caucasian man who was not wearing a mask. He had piercing blue eyes, a shaved bald head, and tattoos covering his face and neck. I was trying to figure out why his eyes were so scary. Was it drugs? It was definitely anger. The woman’s protector was black and he was wearing a mask and looked a lot like my friend, Steve, who is one of the kindest, most sensitive people I know. And I know that throughout his life he also has stood up for a lot of people. I know because I am one of them. I’m lucky to have him as a friend and I couldn’t help but notice the resemblance. Good trouble.

The woman paid for her things and walked past me out the door. I spoke to her quietly. I told her I was sorry and that I hoped she would have a nice day. I didn’t know what else to say. She looked stunned. That’s when I turned to the men who could not take their eyes off of each other. They seemed to be sizing each other up. The protector said again that you cannot disrespect women like that. The aggressor replied that she couldn’t just jump in line. It felt to me like it was about to erupt into violence. All I could sense was anger and fear in the building. So I spoke. I raised up my hands to them and I looked the two men in the eyes. I asked them to please give everyone here some peace. The aggressor looked at me for what felt like minutes and said something again about the woman jumping the line. I shook my head up and down and I calmly asked again for some peace. They both tried to state their arguments to me again. I shook my head up and down that I understood their positions and I asked them to let it go. I said let’s all please have some peace.

Luckily, it worked. The aggressor walked out of the store. I picked up my milk and went to the back of the line. The protector got in line in front of me to buy whatever he was buying and I started sobbing as quietly as possible. Big fat tears running down my cheeks. The protector and I spoke to each other. I thanked him. He explained that he would have stood up for anyone. That it wasn’t right. I told him that I knew that. The we are the same.

I hope that the rest of the day went peacefully for everyone else who witnessed what happened in our neighborhood 7 Eleven yesterday. I know I was pretty shaken all day and also just so incredibly grateful that I hadn’t witnessed anything worse than what I had. Grateful that I got to come home to my family.

It’s chaotic out there. Please remember what and who you are fighting FOR. We are one nation. One people. I hope we can remember that we are all representatives of the UNITED States of America. I believe we must.

Peace always,


Resting Smirk Face

“The woods are lovely, dark , and deep but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. . .” Robert Frost

Turning off emotions that don’t serve me is something I have thought about a lot during my adulthood. I realize that I may have always been quite good at shutting some of my emotions off and I suspect that I became quite adept from an early age. Sometimes I wonder if this is purely instinctual or if it is learned behavior. I suspect it is a combination of both, but I really don’t know and I guess it doesn’t really matter. The truth is I can turn off some of my emotions automatically. People say I’m stoic. This is a quality that I’ve come to understand about myself after years of seeing it reflected back to me. After years of feeling misunderstood. Like everything else in life, there is good and bad that comes with stoicism. That’s life.

The downside. I have a poker face. So my words are important and I don’t always choose them carefully enough. I feel misunderstood. My facial expressions sometimes don’t match my feelings or the words I may be using to express myself. Sometimes I laugh when I don’t mean to at all. This results in miscommunication, hurt feelings, bad blood, disconnection from loved ones, and feelings of abandonment. It causes me to turn inward to avoid hurting others. And then that hurts them, too. It’s a no win situation really.

The upside. I have a poker face. The only time I really cannot control my face is at times when I am feeling really angry or sad. At these times I might appear to have a little smirk on my face that is misinterpreted as snobbery or sarcasm or meanness. This was something that a good friend pointed out to me in high school. I might have gone years longer if she hadn’t pointed this out so kindly. Thank you, Kelly.

Because I have been a special special education policy lawyer for twenty years and I read and study evaluations about children as a job, I know that the assessments are helpful for identifying the roots of some of our challenges. I do think that it will help some people to understand me better if I identify myself. I am actually autistic. I have never received a diagnosis and have never been identified by a public school system definitively as being on the autism spectrum. The truth is I found out as an adult that when I was a child there were teachers who suspected that I was autistic, but I was never evaluated so I was never identified as anything by my public schools other than gifted and talented.

That is irrelevant. I identify myself. What I do not relate to is my human design being a disorder. It’s just my human design. I am hoping that by knowing this people may be able to understand me better and maybe even understand their kids better. And they will forgive me for my miscommunications or other challenges that being in relationship with me might present.

This is just who I am.

The Name is Pain

I’ve just spent my whole morning hanging out around the convenience stores near my neighborhood high school. That’s because my friend asked me to buy out medication so there wouldn’t be any for his kid to steal. My friend is what I would call a professional dad. He has been advocating for his kids for a long time. And my friend thinks he knows that his kid has a suicide plan.

I know a lot of people are hyper aware that we have a mental health crisis on our hands in this country. According to the CDC teenage suicide has increased by 76% in the last decade. The thing is I’m not sure that a person can truly understand suicide unless they’ve faced a crisis themselves. Suicide is pain relief. That’s the truth.

As parents we are pretty much left to handle everything on our own because our school system would rather not deal with these kids at all. And the schools do legally share this responsibility. The problem is everyone gets hurt when we advocate for the kids. Teachers get hurt. Families get hurt. Our kids don’t get what they need. It’s a terrible situation. Our school system has forgotten that education is a human service. I’ve been working in the system so I know what’s really going on. It’s a political business. It’s wrong.

There were too many products at these two stores for me to buy and people actually do need these medications, so instead I took it all off the shelves and got the store managers to agree to keep them off for a few hours. The people I talked to who work at the stores felt helpless. It’s scary. A person can end a life in so many ways if that’s what they set their mind to. Sometimes sick minds do sick things.

Luckily, my friend is relentless. And smart. He is a fighter. I think his kid is, too. I can tell. I’ve seen these kinds of things up close. I have kids and we have had a lot of sickness in our house. It would be an enormous understatement to say that it’s difficult to get the kind of help we need when we are sick these days.

And it’s not just kids. I know people are going through similar things with their aging parents. Suicide rates are climbing across the board. It’s just plain hard. It can make you feel helpless sometimes. Sometimes that becomes overwhelming. And the truth is that sickness can be contagious. That’s why it’s scary. I think we can all relate to that right now.

Here’s the thing. Can someone please call Oprah or something because I’m beginning to feel like a broken record and everyone needs to know. MENTAL ILLNESS IS NO DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER ILLNESS. Does it really matter if it’s your brain or some other part of your body that gets sick? It makes no difference. Sick is sick. Let’s just call it what it is. This is a pain crisis.


I want to share what I’ve learned about ketamine because over the last few months ketamine treatments have revived my 17 year old from a deep depression that has been disabling him since he was 14. Now Cole is like a doll that has come to life. My gentle, intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, kind, witty, wise old soul is coming out of the woods. It’s a relief to this mom.

Chronic illness like Cole has experienced is exhausting and it can be scary sometimes. Just like a lot of other illnesses. I think that’s just personal. Just like treatment is personal. It is just different for everyone. Anyone can become sick and sometimes people really do need medical treatment. And sometimes you need to try something different. It’s all scary. That’s because it’s unknown.

What I’ve found is that there is a lot of misinformation and a lot of stigma about medical treatments like ketamine. These are a product of fear and ignorance, which can prevent people from looking into it for themselves and their loved ones. I think that’s a shame so I’m taking a shot at helping you to feel brave and maybe even hopeful by sharing a bit about our experience with ketamine. Please do your own research. That’s what we did after Cole’s father learned about this project by veterans https://www.invictusproject.org/program-ketamine-infusion-therapy/

The following are some of Cole’s thoughts about his ketamine treatment that he has written himself.

Ketamine is most commonly known as a dissociative anesthetic, but it can also be used as a painkiller and a bronchodilator. It has been well established as a drug in the medical community. But recent studies have shown ketamine might have purpose as an antidepressant, and although these studies are few, they look to be quite promising. 

I’ve been struggling with depression for as long as I can remember. Around four or five years ago I was at my lowest, so I asked for help. Therapy and conventional medication only lessened the strain it put on me. I got more and more fed up with pills, and constantly going to doctor’s appointments. I was constantly tired. Maybe it was being fed up with it all that allowed me to take this risk. 

Ketamine is still experimental, but there was a clinic I could go to. It was a leap of faith honestly, I knew it was risky, but I was tired of just being like this, day in day out, waiting for drugs that didn’t even help much to fix me. They told me I couldn’t eat for something like half a day in time, and I couldn’t drink either. I went in and they had this big reclinable chair, with pillows and blankets. They hooked me up to an IV and blood pressure machine, and put some electrodes on me. The lights were turned off, and everything was quiet. My mom was sitting close by and so was the nurse.

They told me that it’d start to set in in about seven minutes. My body felt dead, like that numb feeling you have when you don’t have gloves on on a snowy day. I was aware and awake and could talk normally, but I felt peaceful. Like nothing in the world really mattered for the moment, and that was great. Everything I could see looked far away. Everything looked simultaneously blurry and incredibly detailed. So I just closed my eyes and relaxed. An hour and ten minutes passed and it was time to go. It was hard to stand and walk, I felt dizzy, but the first benefit I noticed was that happiness and peace remained. Mom drove me home and I talked the most I felt I had in ages for the rest of the night. I actually chose to interact with people instead of shutting myself away, because for once I had energy and I didn’t wanna waste it. 

I’ve gone back several times since then for maintenance, but I can say without a doubt it’s done me a world of good. I know some people are skeptical of the stuff, but who wouldn’t be skeptical of an experimental mood-altering drug? If your problem with it is potential risks of addiction, it’s been said to me by them that the treatment is not addictive. If it’s the fear that it might cause more harm than good, then I’d say that may be possible, but don’t entirely rule out its benefits, and even then you can always just try it out once and move on. This stuff has really helped me and was the primer for all those years of therapy and trying to suddenly make a massive difference in my life. So if you’ve heard about it and can’t ignore the possibility of relief from treatment-resistant depression, I’d say go for it. I hope it benefits you.

Cole began ketamine treatments in November 2019. His depression is now in remission. #endthestigma

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