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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Am I Thankful For?

As one might expect, I'm grateful for many things about my successful writing career. I've come a long way since I first started a few years ago and my countless loyal fans are the reason I continue to put out love stories dear to my heart, whether historical or contemporary.

However, this year I'd have to say I'm thankful for something completely different, though relative to the publishing industry and the precious written word that keeps it running. I hope you'll continue to read on, as this post is not about me. Some of you, may even find it helpful, if not encouraging.

For many years, my daughter has struggled to read at her reading level and we couldn't figure out why. In the years past, we have performed every test imaginable: ADD, a learning disability, eye strengthening therapy, tutoring, you name it. All of these examinations always came up short on an answer -- some even a misdiagnosis. From the time she was in first grade, reading had become a utter chore and a bitter task in which she no longer held much enjoyment. As an author, an avid reader, and a mother, it broke my heart to watch her struggle because she's always had a love for books.

Fast forward seven unfruitful years...she is now in eighth grade and, although she finds a series of books she likes to read every now and again (like The English Roses by Madonna, books by Bill Wallace and Mary Downing Hahn, and How I Survived Middle School), she still doesn't read at her grade level.

Finally, her grammar teacher, God bless him, came to me with concerns about her reading/writing skills (or lack there of) and educated me on the possibility of dyslexia. He put me in touch with someone who could test her and gave me the date of an upcoming seminar the school was hosting. Feeling overwhelmed, I actually cried in his office that day. I couldn't help feel like I'd failed her as a mother because we weren't able to get her the help she needed at an earlier age.

After our conversation, I went home an emotional wreck and did some research on the topic. In visiting several reputable sites about the specialized learning disability, I then realized all the signs were there but I was totally ignorant to the glaring clues. On a lighter note, I also found that NY Times Best Selling Author, Debbie Macomber lives with dyslexia, along with many other famous people. It truly was an eye-opening and awe-inspiring moment to know my daughter was not alone and that many successful people had achieved their dreams despite this hurtle. I finally felt as if there was hope for my daughter too. 

Immediately, we had her tested and recently received the diagnosis of dyslexia. While I was still consumed with mixed emotions, I was also relieved to finally have an answer to all her questions of "Why can't I read?" or "What is wrong with me?" and the gut-wrenching question "Why can my little sister read faster than me?"

To my surprise, my daughter took this news in stride and has since made it her personal goal to read ABOVE her grade level. She has worked harder than I've seen her and in a matter of a few weeks (along with a new reading program at her school), she's gone from reading 66 words per minute to 150, while still comprehending the material. It's the most amazing thing to see her proud of her accomplishments and to know she will do great things in her life because of it.

This is exactly what I am thankful for this holiday season:
  • There are still dedicated teachers out there who care enough about their students and take the time to provide them with the extra help they need.
  • There are many role models who've openly come forward and shared their personal experiences and struggles with dyslexia so the children (and adults) struggling to read are not frustrated or ashamed by the challenges they face with the written word.
  • And most importantly, that my daughter didn't let this get her down or use it as an excuse not to chase her dreams. She's taken this "obstacle" and used it as her fuel to succeed. She no longer feels "stupid" or "incompetent"  when she's doing her homework. And she has this tremendous desire to overcome this challenge and prove to those around her that it's only just another mountain to climb.
If you, or anyone you know is struggling to read and write, or has been diagnosed with dyslexia, here are a few online resources with loads of information, direction, and answers about the language-based learning disability.

and for those in the Cincinnati area:

Just to make you go "Hmmm..." here is a list of other famous people who have dyslexia that you might not have known:
  • Albert Einstein
  • Thomas Edison
  • George Washington
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Walt Disney
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Beethoven
  • Bruce Jenner
  • Greg Louganis
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Orlando Bloom
  • Henry Winkler
  • Robin Williams
  • Kiera Knightley
  • Charles Schwab
  • Debbie Macomber
  • Agatha Christie
  • William Butler Yeats
  • Steven Spielberg

I want to thank you for reading this post in its entirety. If anything, it's been therapy for me to get it off my chest and to hopefully help someone else who might be going through the same.

Thanks for giving me the chance to express myself and for lending the proverbial shoulder for me to lean on as I begin this unknown journey with my daughter.

Have a very blessed and memorable Thanksgiving!

Renee Vincent
(Historical & Contemporary Adult Romance)
From the daunting, charismatic Vikings, to the charming, brazen Alpha male heroes of modern day, you'll be whisked away to a world filled with fast-paced adventure, unforgettable romance, and undying love.
Visit my website at

Gracie Lee Rose
(Lighthearted, Fancy-free Women's Fiction)
For those who love to read fun, wholesome, and endearing romantic stories that your mother, sister, friends, and daughters can enjoy.
Visit my website at


Sandy said...

Thank you for this post. I have known people who struggle with dyslexia.

Paris said...

What a wonderful and inspiring post! I think being unable to help your child is possibly the most frustrating situation a parent endures. Thank goodness for the teacher who helped put you on the right track (the man is hero material:)

I have a feeling that one day your daughter will be added to the list of role models that inspire others. Happy Thanksgiving!

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Thanks Sandy! If anything, I hope with my post I can help others realize that this specific learning disability is not something that can hold them back. The skies the limit if they put their mind to it.

Aww, Paris, you are too kind. And yes, her teacher is definitely a hero in my eyes. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!!!

Angela Brown said...

this is a beautiful post that is straight from the heart of a mother and her unconditional love! I know this hasn't been easy journey & many times the question "why" has probably surfaced. But you have been an awesome role model to Madeline & she is now showing what she has witnessed through her desire to acheive even greater things. She will not be defined by this diagnosis.....she will surpass it & continue to inspire others to not give up. Very proud of both of you!

Tina Donahue said...

Wonderful post, Renee. :)

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Thanks so much Angela!!! Seeing your comment here has brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for stopping by. You are a dear friend and cousin!

Thanks Tina for reading it and lending your support. It is most appreciated!

msspencerauthor said...

Reading your story of a mother's pain and guilt and worry brought the tears to my eyes. We ache so much for every challenge our children have because we love them so much. I'm not surprised your daughter took the diagnosis so well--now she knows what the problem is & that she's not stupid! It can be very uplifting. If you ever saw the Cosby show--remember all the daughters excelled in school & the boy didn't. In the later shows they find he's dyslexic--it's a very good series of shows on dealing with it. It can be overcome! Thanks for sharing Renee, Meredith

Samantha MacDouglas said...

Thank you for sharing. It's always so great to find the answer and know there is support and help out there I'm so glad your daughter is happily reading.

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Thank you Meredith. Your words are so true. I appreciate you taking the time to read and to comment.

I do vaguely remember that episode of the Cosby show. It's funny you mention that because just here lately, my daughters started watching it and they LOVE it. I'll have to keep an eye out for that one so she can see.

Thanks so much!!!

Adele Dubois said...

All my best wishes to you and your daughter for a Happy Thanksgiving and a great year ahead.


Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Thanks Samantha. Yes, it's been so hard helping her to read, while still trying to keep her love for books from diminishing. Luckily, she has found out that reading can be such a joy when you find something you like.

Thanks for dropping by. I know everyone is so busy with Thanksgiving preparations, but I'm so grateful you all have made some time for me. Thanks!!!

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Thanks Adele! Same to you, dear!

Krista said...

Truly wonderful post Renee !! You are such a good mom !!!

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Aww, thanks Krista. I certainly try to be...though I still feel like I've failed her in some way. In hind sight I wish I knew the signs so I could've gotten her the help she so desperately needed when she was younger. But I suppose there's always something in our lives we'd love to go back and redo.

Thanks for visiting with me!

Melissa said...

As soft and sweet as she is, no one could imagine how tough that girl is. I love her like she is one of my own. She is a lucky girl to have you as a momma and she knows it too. So proud of you and Greg for fighting so hard to get the right answer. Love you all!

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Melissa! Oh wow!!!! So awesome to see you here! Thank you for have no idea what it means to me. And your words are so touching. You KNOW I love you so much and treasure your friendship! You're always there when I need you!!!

jean hart stewart said...

My grandson has dsylexia and it was undiagnosed for years, so I know this whole scenario. He's now reading and doing well, and I trust this condition keeps getting the attention it deserves.

Paty Jager said...

Having a granddaughter who is struggling with ADHD I know how it gives a mother hope to know how to deal with the problem. The relief my daughter felt when she finally knew what to do to help her daughter made the whole family feel better.

Congratulations on discovering her difference and helping her become more successful.

Alexa said...

How wonderful that your daughter has decided to fight for herself. She must get that from you. :)

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Thank you Jean, Alexa, and Paty! Your words of encouragement are truly appreciated!!! Thank you so much for visiting with me. I so needed the company this week.

Miriam Newman said...

I know several people with dyslexia and know how much difficulty this has presented for them, but to see it through a parent's eyes is particularly gut-wrenching. I'm humbled by what you and your daughter have faced and overcome.

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Thanks so much Miriam. The support and encouragement I've gotten from so many people since this has been uplifting. Without their help, I would have been lost. I am grateful for so many peoples stories of success, giving my daughter hope.

Thank you for coming by when I know you are busy with Thanksgiving preparations. All the best to you!

Marianne Stephens said...

As a teacher, I had children with dsylexia. It was my job to make them more comfortable in class...and see to it that they were able to function.
There is so much support now for children with learning problems...and every child should have the best learning experiences we can offer.

Anonymous said...

What a great story. I'm so glad you discovered what was wrong and your daughter is dealing so well with it.

Barbara said...

What a brave, determined girl she is and what a great, caring support system she has.

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Thanks Marianne, Ella, and Barbara! Your comments are most appreciated and yes, she has an incredible support system at home and at school. I truly believe she will not let this hinder her success in life.

Thanks for visiting with me.

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