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Jen Interviews Rob

1.) You are a man of quiet observation and deep wisdom.  What would you say are the most important lessons you’ve learned so far?
Thank you for the compliments… There’s a never-ending supply of lessons in life (that’s the most important thing I’ve learned so far). Here’s a list of things, some humorous and some sad, some profound, and some not so deep:
– Treat people the way you would like to be treated. If that doesn’t work, walk away.
– Life is fleeting.
– You can suffer through many things (illness, depression, anger, sadness, heartbreak) and still be among the living if you take time to make peace with whatever you’re suffering from.
– Watching a child be born (in my case, both our kids) is the most intensely amazing thing in this world. The power of emotions, exhaustion, joy, fear, excitement, adrenaline all wrapped up into one. I feel honored and lucky to have caught (literally) both of our children as they came into this world!
– Watching someone you love die is the most intensely difficult thing in this world. There are too many aspects of this lesson and I am still processing them a couple of years after watching my Father die. I suppose I will still be processing them for years to come.
– Even if you think you’re a ‘know-it-all’, you’re not.
– Embrace humility, be humble, and OWN who you ARE.
– The keys to a good, long lasting marriage: Humor, My cooking, Therapy, Love, Passion, Joy, Friendship, Trust, My cooking, More Therapy, and FUN.
– Everyone has a story that is all their own. Some stories are less interesting than others, some are filled with unimaginable suffering and pain… but everyone’s story is an important one (good or bad).

2.) What is the one thing you want to accomplish this year?

This is a tough one because I am a Gemini. There’s often two angles of me so I am going to answer from my two different selves.
– From self #1: Finish the landscaping projects I’ve been putting off at our house… This will allow me to spend more time in the yard, to increase the size of our flock of chickens, grow more of everything (from veggies to herbs and MORE hops oh my!) and might even give me the courage to enter the annual ‘Tour de Coop.
– From self #2: Finish the garage. I’ve been pining away for the completion of a nano brewery. This will give me a space that I have been longing for the past 6 years.

3.) How has Autism affected your life?

Autism is simultaneously the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced AND the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It has been a long journey so far and yet, it’s only just the beginning. Autism has ‘tested’ me on so many levels; patience, fear, resolve, compassion, resiliency, hope… it’s very difficult to maintain an equilibrium when it comes to giving both Sam & Zoë what they need, especially since Sam needs more help with so many things. I look forward to growing with Sam, to advocating for him and others with Autism, and to introducing people to Autism. I often ponder whether Autism is an evolutionary change and of course, may never live long enough to see whether my hunch comes true.

4.) What do you see your daughter doing in 10 years? Your son? (what do you think their lifestyle will be like? Their hobbies? Their circle of friends?)

In 10 years Zoë will be turning 19. If I am still alive (having survived the era that will be her ‘early to mid teen years’ I would think that she’ll still be just as quirky / cool / lovely / unique as she is today, but on a more mature level. She’ll likely have moved out of our house or is planning to do so (though I kind of hope not, for me heart’s sake). Zoë has this fierce sense of justice (at almost 9 years old) so I am guessing that her friendships will be strong. She’s nothing like me in that, I had quality relationships with many people and like it that way. Zoë likes small, low-stress, deeper connections and one-on-one time. So that should be interesting to see what her ‘circle of friends’ will look like.

Sam will be turning 17. I foresee him having lots to say, being a good student, and filled with joy. I hope and dream that he develops friendships that are deep and meaningful. I am going to be really honest here and confess that I seldom spend time thinking far ahead into Sam’s future because… Let’s face it… it’s going to be anything but ‘typical’. He will continue to succeed, this I know. He will keep on being Sam. There are as many branches to Sam’s path in life that lead to potentially heartbreaking scenarios as there are paths that lead to greatness. I know that his heart is huge, that he radiates love and light when his eyes get wide and that smile is directed at you. I instead focus on the moment, on just a little bit into the future. Gosh, that response is making me feel bad, but it’s true. I’m not saying that Sam will not be great, on the contrary… I am just so nervous about what will happen when Sam transitions into what is a largely cruel world that seems to be suffering from an erosion of compassion almost daily. I worry about things like: Sam getting teased, bullied, or injured. Whether Sam will know what it is like to have a girlfriend/boyfriend.

The good news is that 10 years is a long way away and perhaps the world will become a more compassionate place?

5.) Would you be willing to share one of your dreams for the future?

I still think that I would love to be living on some land, acreage, and how I could work with the land to find a balance between sustainability and education. Of all the many lifetimes I’ve crammed into this one lifetime, I’ve been most at peace when I am in this setting. I’ve always wanted to have a place where people can come stay and connect with something that they cannot find in the city. Perhaps that might come true? We’ll see what adventures we’ll embark on and whether they lead to this. Another component of the future is that I’m hoping to be growing old with my wife & being present for my children as they become adults.

6.) What inspires you right now (either for work, or in general)?

My wife, Jen McDowner. I am such a huge fan of all the talent Jen has. It makes me want to do more things that make my heart happy (cooking, brewing, gardening) because she is making art for a living by capturing moments in which people are being ‘Real’ and then gives these moments to them to have forever. There is something almost ‘magic’ about that. How could that not inspire me?

7.) If you were to take your wife on a date, where would you go?

To the Tea House Spa in Santa Cruz,CA. where she and I would have simultaneous 90 minute massages followed be 1 hour soak & sauna in their amazingly tranquil and mind tingling hot tub/sauna rooms overlooking the small bamboo grove. Then we’d go to Shogun Sushi for dinner.

8.) What is your biggest challenge that you face this year?

Focus & Health. How about Focusing on Health?

9.) What are you craving right now? (it can be anything; food, tactile, audible, visual)

Something sweet from either VooDoo Doughnuts or Back To Eden Bakery. Damn it – now I’m thinking of how I can fulfill that craving…

10.) If you could have any ‘super power’ what would you choose to have and WHY?

I still stand by invisibility. I would use it for good deeds and justice. Plus… could you imagine what kind of comedy would ensue from being invisible?

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March 21, 2012 - 7:01 pm

Monique - Jen! I love this post! I might have to have you do a guest post on my ADHD blog soon! I am finding some of the challenges parenting an ADHD/SPD child are similar to those who are parenting autistic children! xo

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