The Snow #Poetry

This poem was written while listening to the Prelude to Ave Maria by J.S. Bach.

The snow; it falls so softly,

Like the tender notes of Winter-

I stand watching a symphony,

of gusts of swirling glitter-

Like ice forming; a lullaby plays

& I stand in a daze// in awe

of the wonderland before me,

Among a million

crystallized sparkling butterflies

dancing until they drift to sleep

in blankets so soft and white,

to welcome the holiday’s Eve.

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Dear Keala & Hugh @KealaSettle & @RealHughJackman #Thankyou #Autism

Dear Keala ( & Hugh)

Where do I begin? The expression “thank-you” does not feel big enough to express my gratitude. While I know you did not write the song “This Is Me”, it’s begun to change my life and it is your performance of the song itself that I remember during moments when I feel like I stand out and feel alone.

It is then that I remember that I was born to stand out and I remember the way you walked while you sang that song. I recall how you danced with every ounce of confidence and oomph I’ve ever witnessed and I aspire to walk, sing, and live my life just like that.

It is a dream of mine to meet you and the cast from The Greatest Showman one day even just to thank-you in person. I channel my inner “Lettie” any time I feel like I’m stuck in the dark but need to be a powerhouse and a lighthouse instead. If I never get to meet you all, I hope you at least get to read this. I am forever thankful to all of you for reminding a woman like me with a disability that it is my differences that make me the most beautiful.


Gretchen Leary

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Down By the River #Poetry

Those eyes of yours

told me stories,

As your strong hands

gently guided me-

down to the river,

Your fingers laced with mine,

& Autumn breathed-

a smooth crisp breeze-

& almost a shiver

to anyone listening,

& stirring the heat-

Between soft words

and a beautiful silence //

Swirling my hair in the air,

As my forehead pressed

against your chest…

And we danced.

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A Snowy Dream #shortstories #writing

One of the oddest dreams I’ve ever had.

The air was cold outside the train window and my fingers felt frozen to them as I leaned closer to see the world spinning by me. I heard others around me telling each other that the last stop had passed and we were heading into unknown territory.

Tiny snowflakes danced against the glass and I curled my toes inside my warm boots with this taste of excitement filling me and warming me. We were in Alaska finally but where we had left from I’m still unsure. After all, this is just a dream.

The trains lights flickered for a second as the doors opened to this unknown place. Frigid air and all those pretty snowflakes felt less magical in my hair and blasting against my face as I stepped down off the train. I felt slightly abandoned as I stood on the wooden platform. What was this place?

All at once I hear a cheerful voice coming closer and a tap on my shoulder. “This way silly” she said with an odd expression on her face as though I should know where to go; as though I had made this trek a million times. I curled my toes again to warm them and stuffed my hands in my gloves and we boarded the bus to take us to whatever place it was I was surely going to recognize.

I was wrong. As the bus, which felt far less welcoming than the warm train had, drove down snow covered streets, I could see clusters of wolves and of bears wandering the streets. Children laughing excitedly and pointed and my friends shrugged when I asked if this was safe. “Just keep your distance silly”, my strange friends would say as I watched a particularly large wolf wander down a snowy lane filled with softly lit homes as casually as a stray cat might. Needless to say, I did not want to get off the bus.

“Here’s our stop folks”, said the driver and I hesitantly put one shaky foot in front of the other and then firmly on icy gravel. I stayed in the middle of the crowd as we walked. No creature approached our pack of frozen people. Their packs seemed happy to keep their distance as well.

I laughed nervously as I wound my fingers around the fabric in my pockets as I considered how strange we must appear to them as well. My silly red hat especially. I kept my head down and focused on my breaths and the power of being in a seemingly endless sea of wanderers as we approached the house I surely must know in memory. Silly me.

I was the last to walk to the door but it was latched and locked. I peered inside and there were people cheerily putting away their coats as I frantically banged on the glass panes. The wooden frame of the door rattled as my panic heightened when I saw a black form slowly approaching. I swallowed my scream and banged harder as I saw the face of a black wolf and his front paws come into view as he attempted to climb the railing.

I threw my hat at him as though that might help. I saw an acquaintance watching now from the door with a quizzical expression on her face. I yelled “Please go away” repeatedly attempting to shove the beast from me with all of my strength. I could see his orange fire-like eyes glittering in the soft light and the tiny snowflakes until I heard him whisper “Please, do not be afraid. I need you to listen.”

Startled beyond measure I almost slipped backwards and he took that liberty to climb up onto the icy porch and sit beside me. His eyes looked off into the distance as I scrambled frantically to sit up. It was the moment he turned again to look at me that I recognized a softness in his eyes that my own fear had blinded me from. He almost looked kind of wolf could ever look kind.

I nodded at him to show him that I was listening as I wrapped my long coat around me tighter. “Come with me”, said the wolf, “It’s time to go home.” I stood up and dusted the snowflakes from my knees and glanced back at the people merrily toasting to some celebration occasionally glancing at me as if all was well and I was where I belonged.

I turned to my new friend, this beast of a beautiful black wolf, in the sparkling snow falling around us with a sense of newfound curiosity that every new adventure requires. “Okay Wolf, take me Home. Is Home a nice place? I’ve never been there before” and off we went; The night was quiet around us as we travelled down snowy roads. All I could hear was my own heartbeat which sounded like drums. This was to be an unforgettable journey; and so it was.

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Perseverance #Autism

There are times when I wonder if those around me see my struggle. Some days I wish they could. Other days, I’m praying that they can’t. There are days I am so proud to be different and there are days when I would give anything not to be on the Autism spectrum.

But there is something that ties all of that together: Regardless of where my mind is that that day or whether or not someone noticed my disability. Regardless of whether or not I made some huge social faux pas that I wonder if I’ll be reminded of for the next five decades in gentle jest by the friends- the message behind these two concepts that ties them together to me is that I didn’t give up or lose hope either way.

Sometimes I wonder if my dream of traveling the world to read to preschoolers all around the world and being a motivational speaker is just an epic day dream. But then things, big things, like my talks, tv interviews, or recent trip to the Philippines to do just that happen and I recognize that anything is possible.

My dreams may not unfold as I wish they would but they will unfold as they are meant to and as they serve others best. I have such faith that the creator of the universe is watching over me every day and knows my heart to serve and hears my prayers and will pave the way.

My dream to speak to students at schools of all levels about bullying and my dream to be a motivational speaker who reaches tens of thousands or millions of people might not look the way I see it in my mind, but I know that my passion is to serve others and that sharing my story can be a part of that dream. Not because my story is so unique but because it is a reminder that no matter who we think we are or how small we might think we are – we all play such a beautiful role in healing in others. When we take our blinders off and start loving ourselves and, by doing so, beginning to love others the way we are meant to…everything changes.

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Angels & Palm Trees #Autism

Sometimes we have experiences where it is truly a struggle to find the right words to describe them. My experience in Olongapo City is one of those.

Returning to the city I was born in for the first time in my life, after thirty-two years was nothing short of humbling. The journey from Boston was a long one, approximately thirty five hours including extremely long layovers. But it was all very much worth it.

When I arrived it was about to rain and it rained for nearly my entire trip. I remember sitting in the hotel restaurant watching the waves and palm trees through the large windows. I imagine I seemed strange to the hotel staff.

I didn’t inform them of my disability but I’m sure some found it funny that I ordered grilled ham and cheese for nearly every meal during my stay. Trying to create routine and avoid my shellfish allergy became crucial to avoiding meltdowns for me.

I got to reunite with the woman who once took care of me as a baby and I spent a couple of days with her as well. That was beautiful and I will keep those memories and photographs of the two of us now forever.

But the most amazing part of this trip was meeting the children at Gordon Heights Elementary in Olongapo City. When we arrived I was so startled to see how different the schools are there and sadly the heaviness how great the need is there as well.

We searched for the teacher’s name and instead found a banner with my name welcoming me to the school. There are no words for how beautiful that was to me. I was not anticipating any grand welcome. I was simply excited to read to the children and donate the art supplies I had brought for them.

I feel as though I may have learned more than the children that day. They put on a talent show for me. I got to watch as they sang their hearts out and danced before I read to them and spoke to their parents. I spoke of hope. I spoke of my struggles and of overcoming.

My mission with this school and my children’s books is far from over. I’ve asked for a list of what the school needs and I intend to send them what I can when I can. I have reached out to companies to ask for donations as well.

The need is great. But so is my ambition and my heart for this city as well. I was able to meet some other incredible teachers who traveled to meet me as well and I treasure meet them as well.

On my final morning in Subic Bay, I raced to the water just in time to meet the sun rise and I will never forget it. I was in awe. I stood for a moment with the breeze in my hair and just closed my eyes when the brilliant colors were almost too brilliant to seem real. But they were real and so was the hope I felt in that moment as well.

I have been writing children’s books and speaking for a few years now, and yet somehow, because of this journey, it seems like it has only just begun. ♥️

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Like Thunder #Poetry

Palm trees dancing

against slate grey skies,

I close my eyes

and dream of

my toes sinking

in warm dry sand

Before a roll of thunder

wakes me,

and lighting strikes

and shakes me,

To see this island,

My island- as it is,

& not as I once

dreamt it to be.

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Subic Bay #Autism

It’s late and bed time and I’m here in rainy Subic Bay. So excited to read my children’s books to the children tomorrow and spend time with them in Olongapo City.

This is such a blessing. I am so thankful for this journey. It was the hardest trek I have ever made but it has turned out to be one of the most important I’ve ever made in my life.

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Loss #Poetry

When a star falls,


& twinkling

down from

the night sky

and drowns

in the


that pours

like old rivers-

from my tired eyes

I will always think of you.

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