I’m blogging this from Chicago, one of my all-time favorite cities. This big-city jewel has a intoxicating energy that always leaves me eager to return. If I go too long without a visit to Oprah town, I find myself on edge, the writer in me screaming for a much-needed fix of cosmopolitan inspiration. The captivating blend of great shopping, deep dish pizza, and the sight of the Chicago Tribune Tower always energizes me. I am a reporter at heart.

My son, Eric, also loved this accessible city, which only adds to its charm for me. I still remember the huge grin on his face as he surveyed the giant skyscrapers from his wheelchair for the first time. My son was clearly mesmerized by the sight of it all, much as I was the first time I visited a big city.

Today, those memories remind me of why we placed such a huge focus on the importance of putting leisure time activities, including vacation and travel, back into our lives after our son’s birth. While those adventures took careful and thoughtful planning because of Eric’s special needs and wheelchair use, they always left us feeling as if our family was no different from any other, if only for a little while. Creating those memories were worth every ounce of effort they required.

On our trips to Chicago, Eric’s wheelchair always came in handy. We would load it down with Miracle Mile purchases carefully selected with the help of my fashionista daughter, Jenna, now twenty two and living on her own. My son’s solid sense of style closely mirrored his sister’s and every selection of apparel was carefully made. Remarkably, this hip brother and sister retail team always agreed on the choices made.

During such outings, the intensity of the special sibling bond and deep, heartfelt connection that I observed always brought me such joy, as do the memories of them now.

On this return trip, I feel Eric’s spirit with me strongly as I rewalk those steps alone, savoring the memories of shopping adventures I enjoyed with both of my children by my side…Today, I am both a grieving mother longing for another life adventure with my son, and a proud mama working hard to come to terms with empty nest now that my daughter has successfully claimed her place as an adult in this world. As a parent, I have been twice blessed.

Now I must work to reclaim my sense of self and uncover a new place in the world, one no longer defined by years of daily parenting demands. I am rediscovering who I am as a woman. My new path is proving both unnerving and exhilirating.

As a child, the little gypsy in me dreamed of running off to the big city, especially the literary capital of New York, to claim my fame and fortune penning literary insights that got me noticed. But I traded in that little child’s dream and chose instead to raise my family while living in the more predictable, supposedly safer surroundings of surburbia, complete with white picket fencing. My priorities had changed.

Today, my life demands have changed dramatically, leaving me free to travel more easily. It is one blessing of my new, more independent life as an author.

Now I travel as often as I can. Chi town is one city that keeps me returning often with it lure of big city living and my appreciation of Midwestern hospitality and the warmth of its people. And my writing goals today are less ego centered and more focused on helping improve the lives of others.

Fact is, Chicago is a big city with a great small town heart.
All that and Oprah, too…. I’ll be back again soon.

Where will your next adventure take you?

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs