“Alone in a Crowd” Hope Street: My Journey

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. ©2014[www.stockpholio.com] 7175511144_a Wheelchair


Note: Event Occurred in Fall 2007

I sit alone staring at the center piece. Christmas ornaments in fancy glass containers. Each center piece at over twenty tables is slightly different. Sitting alone is the last thing I expected.

Earlier today my daughters and I discussed tonight’s big event. “Mom, you know it’s going to be crowded. Dad’s expecting over 200 people. It will be pretty hard to push you around in the wheel chair.”

My other daughter adds, “We know you really want to see your friends. How about if we find a table where they can see you? Then they can come to you.”

At the time it made sense. But the plan isn’t working. I lift my eyes slightly to glance around the room again. Why do I keep doing this? I just feel worse. I see more people I know. Some I’ve known for over twenty years. Maybe they’re busy and will talk to me later.

My daughter serves me a delicious smelling turkey dinner and joins me.

“Mmmm, I love cranberry sauce. I hope there’s pumpkin pie for dessert,” I say.

“I’ll get you some when you’re ready. So, who did you get to talk to?”

Looking down at my plate, I mumble. “No one. No one’s come by…yet. Maybe later.”

“Oh mom. I know you were really looking forward to seeing your friends. Especially since you don’t get to Modesto often.”

Tears brim my eyes. One rolls down my cheek but not without my daughter’s notice. She leans towards me and gives me a hug. “I’ll stay and talk to you.”

“I’ll be okay. You have responsibilities. Just stop by later and bring me some pie …with whipping cream, of course.”

I flip through the program pretending to look interested. But I’m sad. One person did say hi when I arrived but quickly moved on. Where are my friends? Maybe they don’t know I’m here. But if I can see them, they can probably see me too.

Towards the end of the evening, one of my best friends sits next to me. “I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to talk to you yet. I’ve been helping with the raffle tickets. So, how are you?”

Someone finally talks to me. I’m overwhelmed with emotions.

At home my husband comments, “I’m glad you got to come tonight. People were so happy to see you.”

Surprised I ask, “Really? How do you know that?”

“They told me. They asked how you’re doing.”

“No one talked to me. Well, two people did. Do you think it’s because I’m in a wheelchair?”

My husband quietly contemplates my question. “Oh Sweetie,” he replies while handing me a tissue. “Sometimes people don’t know what to say.”

“But that’s all they really have to say. ‘I’m so sorry; I don’t know what to say.'”

“I know, I know.” He comforts me, handing me several more tissues. “I know you’re really hurt. I’m sure sorry, Sweetie.”

Note: I was in a wheelchair periodical from October 2012 through January 2013. I collapsed often. My legs would just give out. Rick was regularly carrying me. The wheelchair made me safer when we were out & about.


“First Day of Appointments” Hope Street: My Journey

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. ©2014[www.stockpholio.com] 39024495_07 Hope Street DaveBleasdale

The previous blog ends, “Today God answers in a clear, calm, reassuring voice. ‘I’m here. I’m sending you to Stanford.’

Journal September 16, 2012. Lord, give me peace. I’m afraid I’ll have another bad experience. I’m afraid it will be bad news, although I believe You’ve been preparing me for it. It won’t make it much easier though.

First Stanford Hospital Appointment

Journal September 18, 2014. Lord, thanks for giving me peace today. I felt “off” today & took my medication in a.m., then during the trip. Every time there’s a bump in the road, I startle. And with California roads these days, it’s a lo-o-ong trip.

Rick & I like the doctors. The epilepsy neurologist is ordering an MRI. He says the machines need a level 3 to show epilepsy. Five years ago when I had an MRI, it was probably a 1.5 level. Then they’ll admit me to the hospital for 3-5 days, a week, maybe even 10 days, to record my brain activity. Finally!!!

It never made sense to me why no one’s ever done this. I ask my former doctor so many times, “Can’t you just hook me up to some kind of machine & see what happens to my brain when I have a fading spell?” He looks at me as if I am from outer space with the most outlandish idea he’s ever heard. But I keep asking.

Rick drove me to out-of-town medical appointments every three months for four years. Without much improvement from late 2007 to 2011, my appointments were discontinued. Now I’m back at Stanford.

Second Stanford Hospital Appointment

My next appointment today is with the sleep doctor. It is pretty straight forward: do another sleep study. It’s scheduled for October 30th unless there’s a cancellation.

Overall, my husband & I are pleased. Like Rick says, “It is hard to go over such a long medical history. How do you describe five years of symptoms that regularly change?” The doctors think I may have epilepsy, but probably non-epileptic seizures. I guess we may actually find out what I have.

Ignore Shocking Statements: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure

Ignore Me StockPholio.comClosely related to the parenting tip to help reduce negative peer pressure for school age children to suspend judgment, is to ignore shock value statements.

Ignore Shock Value Statements

Sometimes it feels like kids just want to push your buttons, but what they’re actually doing is figuring out what they believe. For example, a child who is raised in a church might say, “I don’t want to go to church anymore. I don’t think there’s really a God.” Your child is looking for your response. You are ignoring the shock value.


Most parents tend to over react to shock value statements. “How can you say that after all we’ve taught you?” Instead, ask a question. Get their response, don’t give yours. A better response is, “Tell me what you’re thinking about.” Help the child reach his or her own conclusions. Eventually, children need to take on their own personal beliefs and values. Over reacting will only push them away.

Image Source: Ignore Me 4791133 [StockPholio.com]

Warning Signs: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure

La JollaWarning Signs

The last tip for parents helping reducing negative peer pressure in school age children is looking for signs that peer pressure is becoming a problem. If you notice attitude changes; withdrawal; sudden materialism; and/or intense interest in “taboo” behaviors or possessions, you may want to consider professional help.1

Often these indicators are beyond parents’ skills and expertise. Using some or all of these parenting tips will help your school age child deal with negative peer pressure.


  1. Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013, www.parentmap.com
  2. Image: warning dangerous rip currents. La Jolla, CA

“Inspiration Dead End” Hope Street: My Journey

pencil-877271-s Stock XCHNG

Dancing Dog and I are on another summer bike ride around the neighborhood. As I take in the sights, I notice the name of a street: Inspiration Drive. That would be a nice street to live on. I love feeling inspired. Would I feel inspiration every time I see the street sign?

Then I notice another part of the street sign: Inspiration Court: Dead End. Dead end? I don’t want to live on a street where inspiration ends. Dead ends are too familiar.

What is inspiration? The Encarta Dictionary lists a number of definitions:

1. Stimulation to do creative work2. Somebody or something that inspires3. Creativeness4. Good idea: a sudden brilliant idea5. Divine influenceGod has blessed me with creativity. Not creativity in an artistic way, but with ideas. Lots and lots of ideas. When creative ideas flow, I rapidly jot them down on whatever paper I can find. Capturing these divine influenced ideas typically leads to more ideas. Eventually some of these ideas manifest themselves in an article, a speaking topic, a book, a new teaching technique, a part of a lesson plan, or some other endeavor.

But what happens when Inspiration is a Dead End? For several years, I rarely had any ideas. No sudden brilliant ideas. No creative thoughts. No stimulation to do creative work. No divine influence. My brain was functionally “dead.” My primary thoughts were how to “not waste my brain energy” so I could function at the most basic level. One way I conserved brain energy was not talking, especially to people I didn’t know.

Over time, my brain is getting better. I experience divine influence and generate more ideas and creative thoughts. The past two months I notice I’m talking to people when I’m out and about. The man at the Walgreens photo counter has a child starting kindergarten like my grandson. I encourage the young man in the WalMart line who’s buying a car seat for his 2 1/2 year old. The mom buying American Dolls for her three young daughters shares why she’s buying them dolls.

Why do I bother talking to others? I believe God can use even a brief conversation to encourage someone, let someone know they’re not alone, share an idea, or be inspired by their story. I may never know the impact of my assorted short conversations with others along life’s path, but I do know they may be part of God’s story in their lives.

Who can you encourage? Listen to? Share a word of kindness? Give a complement? We have the opportunity to make a small difference in someone’s life. And what’s more inspirational than that?


Designer Jeans, Coupons and Budgets for Teens


“Why do we always have to use a coupon to buy my clothes?” laments my eleven-year-old daughter. “I want them today.”

“You know we have a clothing budget. We can get more for our money if we wait until the item is on sale and we have a coupon,” I try explaining once again.

“Everyone else’s mom just buys their designer jeans even if they’re not on sale,” she retorts trying for the mother guilt button.

Clothing Budget. But this conversation changed significantly one year later when our seventh grader was given her very own clothing budget. “Mom, do you have any coupons? I need some jeans,” I proudly heard. She was allotted a monthly amount but could use up to three months of budget money at a time if necessary. Since our daughters were in year-round school, budget money for three months seemed reasonable.

Consider Needs. No, we didn’t just give our adolescents money and let them have a free for all. We talked about special events coming up, seasonal items like coats and swimsuits, what still fits from last season, do they need new undergarments, what about shoes, ways they can update their wardrobe inexpensively, and yes, how buying items on sale and using coupons saves money. Because they knew the cost of every item purchased, they took great care of their clothes when they began doing their own laundry at age thirteen (see previous blog, Laundry or Writing?).

Special Events. As they entered high school and needed dresses for special events such as the winter formal and the prom, we paid for half the dress cost up to a certain amount. Young men will need additional budget money for winter formal sports coats and renting tuxedoes for the prom. When they wanted additional clothing or designer clothing items that cost more, they used gift money or worked for extra money. Other families we know paid up to a certain amount for clothing items, such as a pair of jean or athletic shoes, and the young person paid the difference.

Your Family Budget. I’m purposely not sharing how much money we gave them for two reasons. They are young adults and inflation has occurred since they were teenagers. Secondly, each family has an income; some may have a larger budget for clothing, while others families will have smaller budgets. You may think you can’t afford to give your adolescents a clothing budget, but if you honestly track how much you spend on their clothes, shoes, undergarments, etc. it adds up quickly. The point isn’t so much about how much you allot for their budget, but teaching them the principles of money management.

Transition. When you transition the budget responsibility to your young adults, please resist the temptation to rescue them when they spend all their clothing money and need something. They will not learn to plan ahead and use their money wisely if you rescue them. Keep in mind that they will eventually learn to live with the consequences if you allow them opportunities to learn. And in no time, they’ll start asking, “Do you have any coupons?” and you will know you’ve done your job.


“Something Unusal Happened” Hope Street: My Journey

[www.stockpholio.com]-4618335923_3 Tate Modern Tribute

Something happened tonight that hasn’t happened in seven years.

“Surprise,” I chime in alongside friends gathered to celebrate our friend’s 65th birthday.

I choose a tan wicker rocking chair on the back patio where I engage in conversations. I catch up with some friends and reconnect with another I haven’t seen in years. The carrot cake is delicious. I savor every bite. I’m comfortable updating friends about my life, my adult daughters, and of course, our three precious grandchildren.

But what I don’t do is the significant part. I don’t sit quiet as a mouse observing so I can conserve my energy. I don’t leave the group because it’s too noisy to find solitude in a peaceful location. I don’t excuse myself to clean up my usual spilt drink because I don’t spill my Diet Coke.

I don’t startle and jump because someone drops a fork on the tile. I don’t roam around searching for the family cat since petting kitty provides a legitimate distraction. I don’t hide behind my camera when I can’t understand the conversation.

I don’t wander off to “help” since I can’t construct a coherent thought or form a complete sentence. I don’t walk to my car to dig up something I “forgot” when I can’t track the cross-talk of multiple conversations. I don’t go through the motions because I’m disconnected, staring off with a blank expression.

Tonight, I do none of these things. The things I’ve managed to do for seven years to compensate for my brain impairment in social settings. Indeed, something happened tonight. I initiated conversations. I added to stories. I asked questions. I laughed. I enjoyed myself fully…I didn’t escape.

100 Year Anniversary of Mother’s Day and Attachment


Do you know that 2014 is the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day?

Two weeks ago, Lois M. Collins, from the Deseret News National Edition, interviewed me about attachment and mothers. The part of the article I’m quoted in is below.

Follow the link to read the entire article. Mother’s Day 100-Year History

In the 19th century, Americans began what Matt calls a “sentimentalization of mothers,” who were featured lovingly in songs and stories and heavily celebrated for their virtue. “It began a new focus on mother love, warmth and tender ties.”

Mothers were noted for power to encourage kids to grow into good, pious citizens. Focus tightened on mother-child relationships. And Mother’s Day is a modern tale of love and attachment.

Author, speaker and child development specialist Marian Fritzemeier of Modesto, California, has two adult daughters and three grandchildren who will likely honor her with cards and small gifts, as well as a get-together and dinner. They’ll juggle the timing of the actual celebration so that her kids’ spouses can also celebrate with their moms.

She believes that a child’s very future hinges on developing secure relationships and strong emotional bonds. Mother is often among if not the first place those bonds form.

“Attachment is an emotional bond between an infant and a caring adult. It means somebody is responding consistently to the infant,” Fritzemeier said. Cries attract someone to figure out what’s wrong, whether it’s hunger, a need to be burped or stimulated or changed, or just a familiar and loving voice. Moms are often that early primary caregiver, she noted.

Strong, healthy attachment “provides a foundation for life, not just in infancy, but adolescence and into adulthood,” she said. At home, Fritzemeier is surrounded by trinkets and pictures her children have made her. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money. A lot of families don’t have it. Mother’s Day can be breakfast in bed, a meal together, perhaps a barbecue,” she said. Pick flowers from your yard or ask to pick your neighbor’s.

6 Year-Old Stabbed in Neck with Pencil

pencil-and-postit-796599-mWas it a stabbing or a poke with a pencil? Was it bullying or an accident? Why didn’t the school call an ambulance or the police? Did the Turlock Unified District follow established protocol?

The questions ruminating around California’s Central Valley abound. But the one question that bothers me the most is, Why didn’t the school intervene when the family previously reported bullying incidents?

Bully Workshop

I’m teaching a workshop at California Association for the Education of Young Children’s annual state conference in Pasadena, California. The workshop, Bullying 101: Helping the Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander; How Educators Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence, is based on a course I created for Merced College. This specific workshop is for adults working in kindergarten to third grade programs or schools.

Stories Abound

Any time I’ve had a conversation about my speaking engagement, someone shares a story. A story not unlike the “stabbing” story. “My (daughter, grandson, neighbor, friend, relative) has a child who was bullied. They reported it to the school over and over and nothing was done. The child changed schools.”

More Columbines?

How many more Columbines will it take for all schools to wake-up? How many more kids will take their own lives because of bullying, also called bullycide, before society demands bullying stops? How many times will I hear stories where no one intervened?

The Movie: Bully…

I’ll write more about bullying in the future and strategies that work. In the meantime, view the 2012 movie, Bully: It’s Time to Take A Stand produced by The Weinstein Company and Where We Live Films, rated PG-13. I’d sure like to hear your thoughts on the film and bullying in schools.

“The Forgotten Garden” Hope Street: My Journey

[www.stockpholio.com]-7574858320_4 on its way out aussiegall

The tomato plants hanging over the grow box creep onto the sidewalk fall chaotically onto my pathway look dead. It appears that someone at Stanford Hospital previously cared for these plants.

There’s evidence that tomato cages and stakes supported the plants growing tall and abundant. Now the cages lean haphazardly with the plants’ heaviness. The plants are left to die during the cool fall days.

The dead plants remind me of my life. Dealing with undiagnosed brain impairment for the past five years, darkness clouds my former bubbly personality and positive outlook on life.

After a long search, the doctors from the neurology & epilepsy department diagnosed me just last week. I’m one of the lucky ones. My diagnosis only took five years, while most people aren’t diagnosed for seven years.

My non-epileptic seizures don’t change my disability status. I’m still unable to fulfill my college professor responsibilities. I feel isolated and alone especially since my life no longer centers on hundreds of students and colleagues.

Then I notice that the plants are not quite dead. I discover two tiny, green tomatoes. I touch them and wonder how they are surviving amidst this tangled and forgotten garden. My eyes burn and overflow with tears. How will I survive another dark day?

During my hospitalization, the garden is the only place where I’m allowed some fresh air. Every day I’m compelled to visit the garden to check on my discovery. Breathing in the crisp air while observing God’s beauty, gives my heart a lift. The two small tomatoes are still growing amongst the neglected plants. If these two tiny tomatoes can thrive in this forgotten garden, maybe I can get better too.

Today as I approach the plants, they look worse than when I discovered them ten days ago. I hope my adopted tomatoes are still growing. But they’re not.

“They’re red,” I exclaim to no one but myself. “My two green tomatoes are turning red.”

I’m so excited I search through other vines parting their branches. I discover six tiny tomato buds on the first vine. On another I observe a dozen buds just forming in a row. Hundreds of tomato buds hang on the unkept plants.

What appears dead is still growing but unseen by those who pass by. I can’t always see the buds God is growing in my life. Yet in His time, I see glimpses of “red” just like my two adopted red tomatoes. There’s life amongst this forgotten garden. On this quiet nippy fall morning, I remember, God hasn’t forgotten me either.