Steve Lopez & Nathaniel Ayers end a perfect day

Can I just say Nathaniel Ayers is an amazing person? Jordan wants to have a playdate with him and is disappointed he didn’t get his number. His authograph to Jordan reads, “The San Francisco Little Symphony, Take me to your leader. Go Obama–there’s more and quite a bit for Amanda & Alix who had to leave early on the other side.

The day opened with Marsha Linehan unraveling Dialectal Behavior Therapy which has proved highly effective for suicidal patients. Before Borderline Personality Disorder was even familiar to Linehan she came up with this therapeutic approach. Turns out, it symptomatically treats BPD symptoms–and other disorders–with a high success rate.

Following that session were discussions about metabolic issues with mental illness, and cultural variables that need to be recognized and changed. Both of those were a bit depressing.

Things brightened up with “Arts and Recovery,” a colorful session presented by several artists showing their mediums of expression. The moderator was colorful herself covered in bright scarves (grandson’s name Aloha Sunbeam) and introduced a singer/songwriter, writer who leads creative therapeutic writing at Stanford and a woman who dabbled in artistic trading cards, “Fat Lip Readers Theater” (created by 10 fat ladies discussing fatness in our culture) and Threshold Choir, a group of singers throughout the State who learn the same songs and sing to people who are dying or in need. I loved the creative writing as a pathway to help people through recovery and felt lead to start my own to help people in the North State once we get settled.

Jordan’s own creative juices started in our next session and he wrote a touching poem he called “Hope.”

The night couldn’t have ended more appropriately than with Nathaniel Ayer’s astounding musical talent filling the Ballroom. He opened with the violin. I don’t know about Steve Lopez. His passion is more about homelessness (also one of mine so I’m good with that) and his friend Nathaniel, not exactly mental illness change. And, maybe it’s just me, but he’s not exactly a personable guy. I could just be holding a grudge because during his column writing I wrote on several occasions to thank him and tell him about NAMI. He never responded and tonight said 500 people from NAMI wrote so that may explain his lack of response. But you know what, Lopez? Pete Earley is busy and he always responds! If Lopez does choose to give mental illness change his focus, change will be made as he is clearly a powerful writer and force where he puts his concentration.

Nathaniel, on the other hand, was full of personality and warmth. He was kind to Jordan and took so much time with each person waiting for an autograph that at 10:45 he was still signing and really intuiting each person. He’s an intuitive soul and you just feel happy when you are near him. He’s so talented and we felt so proud of his performance. While we waited in line for a signature, Lopez discussed the movie and book–the accuracies and inaccuracies. He also said the trip coming from LA to San Fran was the best he’d ever had with Ayers hanging out the window playing the French Horn.

The bond between them is special. The movie captured that well. And Nathaniel. Priceless.

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