Friday, 16 January 2015

Our Very First PACE Publication

Seven months ago, during an Easter get together with Winnipeg Mom's Night Out and of course Winnipeg Autism PACE, I was approached by an autism dad who was so impressed with our autism community, he asked if Mike and I had ever considered a publication.   At first he said something about making a pamphlet, and then, as though he had an epiphany, he said:  "No, a MAGAZINE!"

"No, I'm having enough trouble with facebook.  I wouldn't even know where to begin with a publication, nor do I have the kind of cash to make that happen."
"What if my wife and I did it for you?  It wouldn't cost you anything!"
He was so excited, and his smile took over his face.  I didn't have the heart to say no...  Famous last words:  "Sure, that would be great."  Meaning, knock yourself out buddy.  You don't stand a chance. People with neurotypical kids pretend we don't exist, why on earth would they want to see us in a magazine...

That was in April.  Three months later, we unveiled our very first PACE publication. I will never doubt Michael again.  If he says he can do something, he means it.  It's going to happen.  And you're going for a ride of your life.  Literally.  Put your five harness seat belt on and lets roll!

Michael called Mike and I a few times before the end of the month.  Then more phone calls in May, June was crazy.  Michael called us at least three to four times a week.  This magazine was coming to life all on its own!  And Michael was PUMPED!  I was beginning to realize this was real, it was happening, and I wasn't sure I was ready.  I mean, come on!  Really?

By the end of June I was a hot mess.  Imagine, it's the middle of summer, and it's hot.  I'm a big woman.  This means I feel heat a lot quicker then twiggy gals.  I'm menopausal and not very graceful about it. Mix that with trying to organize a photo shoots with PACE members without blowing the whistle as to why I'm nagging to get people together in the middle of summer vacation, working full time and still making time to get together every Tuesday night for PACE Kid Gymboree was making me sweat, stutter and have mini meltdowns of my own.

I failed miserably in getting the whole PACE membership together for a photoshoot.  Heck, I didn't even get 5% of the membership to show up for the cover photo I desperately wanted.  For the record, I accept failing a goal even less graceful then menopausal hot flashes.  I was not pleased.  But blowing the whistle on WHY I needed everyone to get together just wasn't an option.  I still wasn't 100% certain this was going to happen, and I soooo didn't want the embarrassment of promising a magazine, then not be able to produce one...  I thought I was being "realistic."  Looking back I can see I was most likely in denial.  Meanwhile, I have not one, but two Michaels all excited about the magazine, and one of them lives with me.  Every morning I heard about the magazine. Every phone call home from work I heard more about the magazine.  Every evening at bed time I heard even more about the magazine.  Repeat the next day.  And the next.  And then Michael would call and tell me about the magazine too.  And when the two of them got together...  that's all we talked about.

Thanks to Michael, we now have a magazine.  Our next issue is coming out in March, and I get to go through the roller coaster of the two excited Mikes all over again (I smile as I type this.  Their excitement and energy are fun and addicting!).  The beauty this time around is it's not summer yet, so I'll only have to deal with the occasional hot flash.  I know to expect the roller coaster and how to dismount gracefully.  Well, maybe with a smidgen more grace...

So here's our first issue of our PACE magazine.  I hope you enjoy the vibrant colors Noreen developed and the beautiful pictures we did manage to get.  The cover picture of course is done by Anthony Schellenberg of Anthony Mark Photography. The magazine is a production Michael Nurse of Phoenix Communications.  Need a publication, Michael Nurse is your man!  Just be prepared to be swept away, because as I've said, if he says it can be done, IT WILL BE DONE.

The unveiling of our first magazine:

Words can not begin to describe (I know, how cliche, but it's true) the feeling in my whole being at what happened at the unveiling of the magazine...  A young man with Asperger's Syndrome who happened to be at our 2nd Annual PACE World Autism Awareness Walk, who just happens to be an artist who's art United Nations used for a postage stamp to represent autism awareness, who just happened to be inspired by our walk, created a work of art for PACE, that just completely resonated with my soul.  I know some of you are gagging at my sentiment, but for all who saw me, including CBC Winnipeg News and whoever caught the news that evening and the next, I was a blubbering idiot for the evening.  I cried.  And I couldn't stop.  I kept apologizing to this young man and his mother, because I just literally couldn't stop.  The only other thing I could say was "Oh my God," over and over again.

A lot of thought goes into our annual walks.  We don't just show up and walk.  It takes months of preparations.  In fact, we're meeting this coming week to discuss plans on the upcoming April walk. I'm fairly certain people are aware of autism...  So the walk is more about what autism IS and CAN be.  While a diagnosis of autism for any parent isn't something you jump for joy over, it is not a death sentence.  The child WILL thrive and live a long life.  But how will their life be lived?  I want my kids to lead a happy and even though I hate the term, NORMAL life.  There's no reason my kids need to be swept under a rug.  They CAN and WILL be contributing members of society.  And they will do that with JOY.  My kids will be proud of their accomplishments, and they will accomplish many things in their life.  I want to free my children from the uneducated stigma of "autism."  I want them to love and be loved.  I want them to throw away the yoke of "it's too hard" and "I can't do that."  I want them to show themselves to the world and make everyone see that against all odds, they are a success.  I want them to be FREE.  I want them to go forth and conquer!  OK, I'll admit that was a wee bit overboard, but I just can't find the words to express what I want to convey.  But Ryan Smoluk did, in his art!  In his masterpiece, he's conveyed all I want to express at every autism walk we do.

For more information of Ryan Smoluk, visit his website at

To check out his art used in the United Nations postage stamp:

Of course, a writer is NOT a speaker.  Just the thought of being on television sets on a chain reaction of sweaty palms, sweaty tongue (oh yes, that happens in extreme anxiety), hot flashes, nausea, light headedness...  But CBC Winnipeg Television was there!  I made it clear to Mike this was his gig.  And he done us all proud!

Here's some more pictures from the unveiling night:

Arlene Reid made a cake for us...  yum!!!

I held on to this painting the entire night.  I just couldn't let go of it.  Anyone wanting a picture of it had me in the picture with it.

Michael Nurse of Phoenix Communications put on a spread we talked about for days afterwards.  It was absolutely DELICIOUS!

Soooooo good!  Thanks Michael Nurse, Noreen Luptak and Judy Luptak of Phoenix Communications!

Mike, our MC of the evening.  So proud!

News crew busy at work

Phoenix Communications:  Michael Nurse with his lovely wife Noreen Luptak (Graphic designer extraordinaire), and the best ever mother, mother in law and grandma on the planet, Judy Luptak.

Michael with his son Phoenix, Mike, myself (crying) and our daughter Athena.

Michael with my youngest John and his wife Noreen.

I love this picture.  Phoenix is so very proud of his dad!

The news reporter's camera looks heavier than she is...  Yes, I'm still carrying Ryan's beautiful gift, and still crying. 

Michael Nurse and Noreen Luptak
We have a magazine...  Holy smokes.  Had you told me three years ago PACE would expand to the point we would have a magazine, I would have called you certifiable.  PACE has a magazine, and I am amazed.

Mike and I have been so fortunate in our journey with PACE.  We've met wonderful parents and children whom we'd never had met had it not been for PACE.  We've made friends, lots of friends.  I am a grateful woman, blessed beyond words.  But to be honest, I never thought I'd meet so many people willing to give their talents so freely.  Anthony Schellenberg has the talent to capture the beauty of the human spirit, the beauty of autism.  That is a rare gift.  Arlene Reid has the gift of baking and care giving.  She bakes her heart out and feeds us like kings and queens at our special events and annual autism walks.  Noreen Luptak shares her gift of art with her graphic designs.  She is so very, very talented.  I can hardly wait to show you the work she's done on our new Autism Winnipeg PACE logo.  When she's ready, I will.  Michael Nurse...  "Knock yourself out buddy.  You don't stand a chance..."  I was wrrrrrrrrrrrr...  wrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...  wrrrrrrrrrrrr...  you were right.  Your talents are now, wait for it...  LEGENDARY.

Just like dad Paul taught me, consider yourselves hugged,

Lou and family

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