Mentors Matter

May 16, 2024

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much our lives are impacted by the people who surround us. Many of them we specifically choose. And choosing carefully is really important. Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed to meet some incredible people who continue to influence my life in transformational ways. This week’s issue spotlights one of my favorite mentors. It’s also a chance for me to thank all the other ones (you know who you are!) and to commit to expressing this gratitude more often, no matter how busy life gets.

Who have you learned from? What have they taught you? How can you share the wisdom? Leave a comment to get the conversation started or give a “shout out” to someone who deserves it.

Amazing Annie Talman.

Nearly twenty years ago, while waiting to board a flight from NYC to Disneyworld, our family was approached by a talented Broadway actress who I’m now proud to call a dear friend. “Your family reminds me so much of my own,” she said. And then Annie Talman spent more than two decades teaching me about living with, loving and caring for a person with a disability. She has also encouraged our son to explore his musical passions while she continues to explore her own. This entertaining interview with her offers insights, entertainment and encouragement for us all. Annie’s one-woman show and documentary film, Woody’s Order, details her experiences caring for her older brother with cerebral palsy and her father with Alzheimer’s. It’s funny, sad and truly breathtaking. Her new cabaret review, Shadow of Her Smile, about knowing, working with and loving actress Elizabeth Taylor just debuted in Manhattan. Annie and her performances are simply amazing! She is truly masterful at teaching and touching people through beautiful storytelling. Where would we be without our mentors?


Annie recently served on a panel with disability activist Michael Kutcher, the twin brother of actor Ashton Kutcher. Michael’s company, Outshine Labels, helps families raise funds for disability-related causes. I love his view of “diffa-bilities,” which we all can relate to in our own unique ways.

Twin brothers Michael and Ashton Kutcher.

Brain dump.

I love Brain & Life, a free magazine from the American Academy of Neurology. Our family has received a monthly hardcopy for years, and each one contains useful and interesting info to help us feel empowered and capable of managing whatever comes our way neurologically. The most recent issue of the magazine features a number of excellent articles, including this one about how and why older caregivers need to plan for their loved ones’ futures. This is a very challenging job for many parents of individuals with disabilities. Please reach out if you’d like to learn about ways I can help. Always happy to hear from families and see if we can work some magic together.


Powerful parent panel.

Last week, I was honored to serve as a panelist for a wonderful webinar on “Loving, Raising, and Working with a Personal with a Disability.” It was sponsored by ChristianaCare, a leading network of private, non-profit hospitals providing health care services throughout Delaware and surrounding areas. Such a pleasure to listen and learn from other participants, who discussed the many benefits of employing people with disabilities, the challenges of working while parenting people with disabilities, and ideas for how organizations can be more inclusive for employees with disabilities as well as their family members. I’m thinking of hosting a virtual event on this topic for the Another Normal community in the coming months. Please let me know here if this is of interest to you.


The story continues.

Happy to report great progress on two previous topics from this newsletter:

  • The Sunflower Travel Program is blooming in new places. Check it out if you’re flying to or from Michigan, Texas, Florida, New Jersey or New York with someone who has a “hidden disability.” Designed to make travel faster, friendlier and more enjoyable for all.

  • Vertical Harvest, the inclusive hydroponic vertical farming company, offers a customized employment program for people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. The company recently raised nearly $8.5 million in Series A funding to expand its model throughout the U.S. Yes to investments that remove barriers to meaningful employment, change lives and foster independence!

Another Normal is a newsletter dedicated to helping families with disabilities bloom and thrive. Thanks for being here.

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Interested in learning more about one-to-one coaching? Contact Kris for information on what this might look like for you, including outcomes, availability, fees and more.

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