The Healing Horse, Ch 2, Sc 7: Mama Reflects

Mama saw that I had more ability than the school experts thought, and that my learning disability did not make me less intelligent than anyone else. It made learning from text hard. It did not make thinking hard. Her belief in me empowered me. Her example as an advocate taught me to become an advocate for myself, and then for others.

Scene 7: Mama Reflects

In the kitchen, Mama filled a bowl with ice cream before reclining in her easy chair in front of the television.

Karen is trying hard, now, with her schoolwork and sense of self. It shows in her actions. I just wish it weren’t so tough for her. I am not going to let her struggle needlessly or be put aside because of her cerebral palsy or her learning disability. She is a smart girl, more intelligent than what the school experts think, and the world needs to know this.

#cerebralpalsy #dyslexia #inspirationalwriting #experts

©2020, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch 2, Sc 6: Mama reads aloud and develops Karen’s imagination

I continued to struggle with reading, but then something magical happened. Even though the school books remained impervious to my mind, the story books opened for me and led me onto the magic path to learning.

Scene 6: Mama reads aloud and develops Karen’s imagination

In spite of the difficulty she had doing the homework she brought home from school, Karen loved stories and she loved books.

Every evening, Karen readied herself for bed by putting on her favorite lavender pajamas. This was her favorite time of day. Curled on the couch, she gazed lovingly up at her mother, anticipating the evening’s bedtime story.

As Mama read aloud, Karen’s imagination transported her into the wizardly world of make-believe. Page after delicious page, she became involved in the beloved bedtime stories as if she were living in them. The stories were magic.

After reading, Mama carried Karen to bed. She tucked her in and read a few coming attractions from the next story. Mama kissed her goodnight and turned out the light, leaving Kitten lying in bed, visualizing what she had heard. The transformative vocabulary of the bedtime stories never vanished the way schoolwork vocabulary did.

I loved the story Mama read about horses tonight. I wish I could make friends with a horse like that, a friend I could tell my feelings to and trust.

Her remembered visions tumbled into beautiful dreams, but with daybreak, the rough difficulties of life always returned.

#cerebralpalsy #dyslexia #inspirational #reading

©2020, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse Ch 2, Sc 5: Lipstick

Mama knew that if she had to do my homework for me, or coach me through every step of it, then it was not teaching me anything but dependence. Typically, when she finally exploded, she directed her frustration at its cause—my teacher giving me homework that I could not do—not at me.

Scene 5: Lipstick

Night after night, Mama coached Karen through her academic struggles. One night, her heart aching as Karen agonized over homework, Mama picked up the closest writing tool near her, which was her red lipstick, and slashed across Kitten’s paper:

“Give Karen homework she can do by herself!”

Karen gasped, stunned with shame and humiliation.

Mama said, “Krana Layala, I’m not doing this to hurt you. I’m doing this so your teachers will know you’re having problems. This way, they can help you. It’s important that you learn to do your homework on your own, and that you feel good about yourself and about doing it. Giving you homework you can’t do, or that makes you feel bad isn’t helping. They need to modify your homework so that it works for you.”

#cerebralpalsy #dyslexia #inspirational #homework

©2020, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch 2, Scene 4: Testing

My Mama understood my situation far better than most parents would have in the 1950s. She insisted that I be tested, and sure enough I was diagnosed with dyslexia. We both thought the diagnosis would be more than one small step on a long journey. In the next scene, though, Mama blows up with frustration.

Scene 4: Testing

Mama understood that Karen’s academic progress had stalled before it had even started. While many parents would have decided that their child couldn’t learn, and would have given up in discouragement, Mama understood that Karen could learn if she got the academic help and emotional support that she needed. Kitten needed special academic accommodation, and she needed to develop self-confidence. Learning as a chore was useless, but if Kitten developed self-confidence, then she would learn by herself. In the Fifties, there were few progressive parents like Mama who understood that the most important thing for all children to grasp was their own worth, which would sustain their wills through any challenge. Mama put her best effort into providing Kitten with the academic help and confidence building she needed.

She arranged for testing, which showed that Karen indeed had a learning disability. Dyslexia made reading, writing and arithmetic difficult. Regardless of how intelligent Kitten was, learning from text was taxing for her. Thereafter, with a better understanding of what her mother advocated, Karen completed the slightly modified homework that her teachers gave her. She did the best she could, while still wrestling with it. She kept her chin up and reminded herself of what she was accomplishing.

#cerebralpalsy #dyslexia #inspirational

©2020, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch 2, Scene 3: Struggling

As a first-grader, I had no idea why I could not recall what I read. The other kids could. Why couldn’t I? Fortunately, I did not let myself become discouraged, so after some hard times, I did eventually learn to read and to love reading. But that comes later in the story.

Scene 3: Struggling

Karen wanted to learn, but though she poured her soul into acquiring knowledge, everything she attempted to memorize, be it word, date, or fact flew straight out of her head; neither did it return. She could not retain information. The more endurance and effort she demanded of herself, the more her memory choked. Material she committed to it was rarely there on demand. Her perceptual learning difficulties, rather than her determination and effort, determined her level of success in English, social studies and math.

Without questioning why this happened, she took the business of learning seriously. With every neuron of her brain, with every sinew of her body, with every prayer of her soul, Kitten disciplined herself. To her young soul, there were no accidents in the universe. She never passively waited for providence to intervene. She never wavered. She did her homework assignments on time. She was not afraid to make mistakes because she always learned from them. She faced her trials with an inner power and strength that helped her conquer her outer world obstacles.

Climbing over each hurdle, Karen’s inner self became stronger, and her imagination flowered. As Karen tried to accomplish her assignments, she found that letters, words, phrases and numbers twisted around in her brain. She transposed letters and added a confusing letter s where it did not belong. She began reading a page, but then found that when she reached the end she could not remember any of the content.

She became so frustrated with herself that the frustration itself became a problem. The harder she tried, the harder it was for her to complete the homework. Learning was a constant struggle, but she never ran away from it. She knew she had been given this challenge for a reason, even though she felt humiliated by it.

Regardless of her academic difficulties, Kitten never complained, nor did she ever give in as she continued her childhood journey through life. Anguish and humbling experiences were her building blocks as she developed compassion and self-knowledge, although, just like any other little girl, she needed reassurance from Mama, who usually quieted her daughter’s fears.

©2020, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

#cerebralpalsy #dyslexia #inspirationalwriting

 

The Healing Horse, Ch 2, Scene 2: A House with a Window

When I got into first grade, my Mama quickly discovered that my way of perceiving things was different from what my teachers thought of as normal. She knew I was smart, but she also knew I would need help with academics.

Scene 2: A House with a Window

When Karen had been in kindergarten, Mama had noticed how quiet and shy she was, but now that she was in first grade she was faced with academics. Mama knew that her Kitten was smart, but she also saw that she had a problem with learning.

The conventional belief in the 1950s equated paralysis with severe learning disabilities, but a new school of thought had discovered that paralyzed children could learn, if their teachers used innovative approaches. Mama studied this new approach and believed in it. She would find out what kind of help Kitten needed, and she would fight the whole world to get it for her. She saw the issues, even if her Kitten’s teachers did not.

Mama constantly found that Karen’s perception of visual images was quite different from that of other children. She carefully made notes on her daughter’s progress, the homework that the school sent home, and on how the little girl reacted to it. But, that was not enough. She needed more proof to support her suspicions.

One afternoon, Karen’s neighbor and friend Kimberly visited. Kimberly did not have any disabilities and was progressing normally at school. Mama took this opportunity to test and compare Karen’s perception with that of a normal child. She lifted something from her desk and asked both girls what they saw.

This will be a simple method to figure out just what kind of help Karen needs, Mama thought, without knowing that this would be the first step on a lifelong journey of learning.

Kimberly responded with the usual answer.

“Hey, Mrs. H, that’s an envelope with a stamp in the corner.”

Karen saw something completely different.

“I see a house with a window, Mommy!”

“Kitten, do you mean you can imagine that this is a house with a window?” Mama asked.

“No,” Kitten replied. “I really see a picture of a house with a window.”

Mama returned to her desk and let the children continue their play, as she thought, A high intelligence and a unique perception coexist within my daughter. Kitten learns differently, but her ability is no less. She needs academic help. She has imagination, but she has a learning disability in the area of perception.

©2020, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

#cerebralpalsy #dyslexia #inspirationalwriting

 

Title: The Healing Horse, Ch 2, Sc 1: Story time and disappearing words

Here is a photo of Karen at her first dance recital, age three-and-one-half, with the famous Al Gilbert who used dance as therapy.

Me at my first dance recital

By the time I began school, I was able to walk, but then a new issue appeared. I could not remember words, so I could not develop the most basic academic skill I would need to succeed as an adult. Needless to say, I dealt with this, too, as you will soon see. But first, here is a photo of me at my first dance recital, age three-and-a-half, with the great Al Gilbert. Even though I needed the brace some of the time, I did not need it to dance.

 

Scene 1: Story time and disappearing words

Karen’s precious spirit soared bravely beyond her physical limitations, hurts, and pains. As she had envisioned, when she was a baby with a newly acquired disability, she overcame all limitations in her little girl world. She let absolutely nothing stand in her way. She needed longer than most children did to crawl, and then to walk, but after many falls, she found ways to manage her heavy leg brace and to stand on her own two feet. She resolved that she would never let her physical disabilities stop her; however, once she began school, her mother found that Karen was not learning like other children. When Kitten was six and in first grade, she was not developing basic academic skills.

During story time, Karen had problems understanding. She could not retain the words that her teacher had just read aloud. No, please, come back! Wait! she beckoned in her mind, but the lost words vaporized as soon as they were uttered.

Karen never revealed this; she kept it a secret, but it was not a secret to Mama.

©2020, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

#cerebralpalsy #dyslexia #inspirationalwriting

The Healing Horse, Ch 1 Disaster Strikes, Scene 3: Birthday Party Tears

Karen at age 4 wearing her leg brace

Karen at age 4 wearing her leg brace

As I warned you, things did get worse, before they got better. In real life, my father did not pass away until I was in my teens, but I put it earlier in the story to show what a struggle my Mama had, and how I felt, too. At the same time, I kept up my positive attitude. Here’ a photo of me at age 4. In real life, by age 7, I had danced my way out of that brace. (Correction: I was 11 when I danced my way out of that brace.)

Scene 3: Birthday Party Tears

The years passed, and in spite of everything that happened, Mama devoted herself to her baby. She held Karen’s fifth birthday party in their bungalow, the beautiful little house that she and her husband had bought long ago, and that she had managed to hold onto in spite of everything. Karen was crying.

“Why, Mama? Why? Why isn’t my daddy here? The other kids have daddies. Why did my daddy have to leave us? Why did Daddy have to go?”

“I don’t know why, Krana Layala, but God must have wanted your daddy to cheer Him up! We are hurting, because we love him, but remember that we can always reach out to him. We can always call out to him in our hearts and hold him close. That way, he will never be forgotten. You can always talk to Daddy, any time you need him. He will always be there for you, and protect you. I want you to feel safe and secure. I want you to know that Mama is always going to be here for you, too. Always!”

Despite her soothing words, Karen’s diminutive body shook. Karen looked up to her mother for strength. Mama put her arms around her Kitten’s small, trembling body and the rigid steel brace that supported Karen’s left leg.

©2020, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.
#cerebralpalsy #dyslexia #inspirational

Ch 1: Disaster Strikes. Scene 2: At the Hospital

Today’s scene is very short, but it still means a lot to me. Mama never left my bedside, while I was in the hospital–and I never gave up, when I regained consciousness and went home. Even as a toddler, I was determined to push the boundaries.

Scene 2: At the Hospital

“Oh, Kitten, I know you can hear me even though you are in a deep sleep.” The tears began to roll down her plump checks. “You gotta get well for Mama, and wake up, sweetheart. Know that I will be by your side, and that you are safe in my hands.”

Day in and day out, Kitten fought for her young life. But the telling results were in. Karen’s body would never return to “normal.” She was paralyzed. Fortunately, she later regained the use of her right side; however, she remained permanently paralyzed on her left. She had many challenges ahead of her. Although she was just a toddler, she somehow understood that nothing would stand in her way. Someday, she was going to push the boundaries of what is “normal.”

©2020, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

#cerebralpalsy #dyslexia #inspirational

Introducing My Forthcoming Novel: The Healing Horse

When I was in college, I published my first novel The Broken Hoof and won a literary award for it. Now, I am completely rewriting it and will soon (I hope) publish it as The Healing Horse. Like the first novel, it is a story of triumph over adversity, of a little girl with a big heart, cerebral palsy, dyslexia–and an iron will to succeed.

I want to ask my readers a favor. Beginning today, I intend to publish the current draft, one scene at a time, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Please let me know your thoughts and feelings as you read. I hope you like it just as it is, but if you see room for improvement, please let me know. I value your insights.

Thanks, and here is Chapter 1, Scene 1.

Scene 1: Disaster Strikes

Once upon a time, a small, humbly resplendent child came into the world. Her name was Karen, and the people closest to her nicknamed her Kitten because of her lovely nature.

Sweet Kitten was born with a head of wavy, dark brown hair. Her features resembled her daddy’s, but her hair coloring and complexion were more like her mother’s. Karen was a quiet child, healthy and beautiful with a smile that warmed everyone’s heart. Her parents were delighted to have a little girl like her. One reason was because she rarely fussed, and another was that her disposition was so easy-going. She was truly cherished.

Karen’s mother stood five feet tall, had jet black hair, brown eyes, and a long, pointed nose. She also had thin arms and legs, with a rounded tummy, and could hold Karen just right in her arms. Every day, Mama took time to care for her treasured baby girl. Her baby was the most important entity in her life. Looking down at Karen, Mama thought, “How sweet and loving my child is. I am lucky to be the mother of Karen. She makes my life so worthwhile.”

Her father stood five feet, eleven inches tall and was built slender. He had baby blue eyes, blond hair, and a pug nose. He was a quiet, disciplined person who worked hard at his business. Every morning, he got up with the moon’s glow to earn a living, and then came home late every night. He owned a bustling hamburger stand, making hamburgers for students from the nearby university. Her daddy was an earnest, steadfast man.

Karen and her family were happy, and they greeted each day with gladness in their hearts.

Life was simple, sweet, and good to them until that determinative moment when heartbreak hit their lives. On that day, Karen became ill from a DPT shot. She was only five months old when her Mama noticed Karen was burning up with a ferocious fever. She was rushed to the hospital, where the emergency center began tests. For over a month, she remained in the hospital, and in a deep coma. Mama was overcome with grief. From the moment that Karen entered the hospital, Mama never left her side.

©2020, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

#cerebralpalsy #dyslexia #inspirational