Letters for Lent: When Nuture and Nature Combine

(Writer’s note: Please note that this post was written on Wednesday, February 20, before I practiced my Lenten observance, one of which is being absent on social media, but the message remains relevant)

Have you ever felt like no matter what you do, how accomplished you feel, you feel unfulfilled at times? Like the only close friends you have are anxiety and depression, where being stagnant has become a way of life for you?

I know I sound like a Tom Papa skit from NPR’s radio program Live From Here, but here’s the point: I have. I’ve been there, before I moved into my current apartment, I felt unfulfilled, I felt lazy, I felt anxious and I deal with depression and I still do to this day. It feels natural to doubt yourself and wonder if you’re doing the right thing, even when all signs point that you’re right.

Here’s some good news I’ve learned in my life, in spite of all this: I’ve learned that we all grow differently, in different ways, but we all blossom at our own time. If you were to look at me now against who I was before the move, it’d be night and day, because I had to learn new things about myself. That’s not to say that it’ll be easy, as I’m sure it hasn’t been during the three weeks we’ve dealt with during Lent.

Each Lent is all about growth, not just personal growth as it’s been about spiritual growth. We’ve all given up something that we really felt like we couldn’t live without, but think about how far we’ve all come since Ash Wednesday, how much we’ve learned about our Faith and about ourselves.

It really can be a challenge to change; to evolve beyond our programming to use a line from Star Trek: Generations. But at times, it feels natural to change as we feel like Data perhaps, thinking about how we can proceed. The only way we can grow is to take stock of our lives and find out what we need to shed, what we need to do to become a better version of ourselves, the person God calls us to be. Only then can we thrive in times of trouble, grow in our Faith and really..,

Shine On!!

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Poetry Packed Out: A Fitting Cinquain for the Season

I’ve felt it and I’m sure most of you have felt it as well, especially Catholics whom are going through the Lenten Season. It’s all around us, just waiting for us to let our guard down so we give into it. It lurks in the shadows just waiting for the right moment to pounce upon us.

We all feel it calling to us each and every day, addicts try to cope with this, some fail while others succeed. It can follow us throughout our lives, hoping to pop up like a jack in the box.

What is this hidden demon, you might inquire, well, it’s temptation. I know it’s hard to fight it, but without mentioning it, we all know that it’s around. The brutal truth that we all must face is that temptation won’t go away unless we confront it.

I’ll admit that, during this Lent, I’ve cheated and gone on social media because feeling disconnected, while it’s a good thing, can be very difficult to do when you’re involved in self advocacy, when news seems so readily available (even if it can seem to be slanted at times.)

That’s where this latest cinquain came from, the feeling of guilt, of shame, of being honest with myself, but it also came from the fact that I’m not alone in my struggles. That’s how it is with me as I’m sure it is with all of you, so without further ado, my cinquain called Temptation:

Temptation

Temptation 

Urges, instincts

Envelops, taunts, hopes

To cause us all to never know true 

Satisfaction. 

The thing we all need to know and understand is that we’re not alone in anything we deal with. Support, love and friendship is always there in your time of need. So, never be afraid to be open to help and support when you need it, you might find that strangers you might not have thought to talk to may become your closest friends in time. When it happens, success will come your way and hopefully you’ll be able to pay it forward and help communities and the world….

Shine On!!!

Finally, Spring has come back to Saugerties!!!

Before I get down to this post, I want to thank you all so much for reading my “then vs now” post I wrote on Monday, I’ve had a lot of feedback from it , all of it positive and one was negative, but despite that, it really let me know that you all, my readers, really that the post and the Super-blog are worthwhile, so I just needed to take some time to say Thank You All So Much for your support, your patronage, and your kind words. It means so much to me..

Besides that, I feel like celebrating, I feel like there’s an extra spring in my step, in more ways than one, I feel like the cold is only a distant memory, that the flowers are due to come in any day and all this because of the fact that Spring is officially here!!

Truth be told, I’m not exactly a fan of winter, I like it fine, but I’m not a fan of the season itself. I know I live in the Northeast, but every winter, I feel the need to brace for the storm. It’s just an impulse I have built into me, like many defense mechanisms, such as fight or flight. I guess that’s primarily why I like the first day of Spring, mostly because I know that pleasant temperatures are on the way. I know that those who deal with seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, will join me in celebrating this joyous day, a link from the Mayo Clinic is here for more information:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

The symptoms are the that the person affected may be:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Having low energy

  • Having problems with sleeping

  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight

  • Feeling sluggish or agitated

  • Having difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty

  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

In the case of winter, they can also feel like:

  • Oversleeping

  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates

  • Weight gain

  • Tiredness or low energy

I must stress that SAD is a real disorder which can be misunderstood as the “winter blues.” If that’s the case for you or not, just know that the feelings you’re experiencing now are, like winter itself, only temporary, look at this as a way to know you’re not alone and that together we can all really…

Shine On!!

Poetry Packed Out: Drawings in the Sand

Boundaries are never easy to set, especially when family is involved, it’s never easy with friends either, knowing that you need space to recharge, even if for a while. It’s been a lesson I’ve needed to learn in order to be of help to others as well as myself (maybe moreso for me.)

The thing is, I’m still learning that lesson.

Sometimes, we all need boundaries, invisible lines that those whom we trust can cross, our lives are all defined by lines, from traffic, property, waiting (in banks and grocery stores, for example) so lines can be both good and bad. It’s all about how we see lines and if we want to respect the job lines do for us.

With that being said, that was my mindset when I crafted the latest cinquain, called fittingly, Lines, something that can be used to show where we’re going in our lives, both on the road and in the direction we’re going in. So, without any further ado:

Lines

Lines, 

Connect, crosses, 

Our lives, streets, faces

From which we paint our inner beauty.

Direction.

I know it may seem like a short post, but imagine what chaos would ensue without the help of lines, for better or worst, lines can make a difference in both war and peace. That said, who’s to say that one can’t break lines and make dreams come true so that they can always feel like they can…

Shine On!!!

A Case of Now vs. Then: A Letter from Me Now to Me Then

I was inspired to write this “now vs. then” letter because of a recent speech of someone I consider my best friend, writer and author, Jesse Saperstein, so this blog post is going on be my “now vs. then” letter to myself in the past written from me now. Another thing that I remember as the inspiration for this was seeing WWE Superstars looking at pictures of them then vs whom they are now, so without further ado, my “now vs. then” letter:

Dear Me,

I know that life seems so rosy now that you’re in high school, it feels surreal almost, but there will be times where you’ll be tested, tempted, bullied and mocked for the person you’ll become. But you’ll come out of this so much better in the long run.

First things first, keep your faith, it’s seems silly to say now but I’m learning things about my faith I wished I’d learned before. Things like the Saints, the sacraments, you have a great heritage as a Catholic that you shouldn’t take for granted. Learn about them now before new things, new temptations happen that will frustrate you.

Secondly, seek the new but be true to you. Don’t lose the person you are now, with all your quirks, your talents, your love of game shows (that last one is something you shouldn’t want to lose, trust me, you’ll thank me later.) That said, you should always seek to be open to new things that can improve you to better a better you. Artists change, that’s true, but they always are true to themselves even as they change.

Thirdly, save some money now so you won’t be strapped later on, I know you things things will be better in the future, but don’t bet on it; take your future in your own hands. You may need to work to do so, but you’ll be better for it in more ways than one. Don’t fly too much on borrowed wings, or you might fall like Icarus.

Fourthly, learn to stand up for yourself. It’ll be hard, I know, since you’re used for others fighting your battles for you (and with you.) That said, imagine it was a four-on-one situation at Survivor Series, eventually, you’ll have to fight for who you are and it won’t be easy. Just know that your defeats (and you will have defeats in your life) will make your victories sweeter, with so many friends cheering you on, like the Defino’s, whom I know you admire, I still do to this day and our bond, much like your family and friends, will be strengthened because of both your victories and defeats. You’ll become a better person and a better leader in time because of it.

Finally, try reading the classics, keep reading and not just the books you know a lot about, maybe delve into some philosophy, since it teaches you to question everything about everyone. It gives you the ability to think critically for yourself which if you don’t learn now, you’ll regret it later. You end up doubting yourself and second guessing your actions, your gut reactions. Treasure your Local Library (and Libraries in general, you make a lot of great friends in Libraries, trust me.) They might even help you achieve your dream of being a writer, which will come true with patience and hard work.

Hopefully, Future Me, you’ll take my advice to heart and never give up being your wonderful, kind and handsome self. Forgive others, laugh, learn and be patient to others. I’ll end with a Star Trek character’s wise words,

Don’t try to be a great man, just be a man, let history make its own judgments.

Zefram Cochrane, Star Trek: First Contact

Let others judge you but please be kind to yourself, that way you can see the stars twinkle as they always do, as soon as they always…

Shine On!!!

The Problem with Going off Script

Have you ever been caught off guard with something you never expected, having you go off script and being impromptu, especially in social situations? Forgive me for sounding like Tom Papa from Live from Here, but I have.

Most people know how to go to their social playbook, doing so as if it’s natural. I’ve been known to do so myself, even as the panic in my face and in my eyes may tell a different story.

It’s the panic that can be overcome with both practicing and polishing, but that’s not to say that the feeling of being overwhelmed and unprepared can make even the best speakers flinch under pressure. To maintain composure in those situations can be done, but understand that it takes a lot of practice to do so.

The unwritten social rules that Neurotypicals take for granted should be made known to us in both a meaningful and constructive manner, but there should also be a “grey matter” where we all given a chance to break down and understand our own story. I’ve taken the liberty of sharing some of the rules a fellow blogger feels are important to her, Autistic Hoya and posting the link to her article here (https://www.autistichoya.com/2012/10/important-social-rules-for-both-autistics-and-nonautistics.html?m=1) but here are some I feel are important to me from her list:

  1. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

  2. Don’t ask other people to do things for you if you’d be unwilling to do comparable things for them.

  3. Don’t insult people to their faces unless they’re being bigots. Otherwise, save the insults for private conversations with trusted friends, a counselor, a confessor, or an anonymous website where you omit both their and your names or other identifying information.

  4. Thank people when they do something for you.

  5. Only ask people questions if you either really care about the answer or you need them to think you do.

  6. Don’t ask strangers about their health, religion, politics, gender identity or pronouns, sexual orientation, weight, income, or disability status unless you’re in a safe space or themed event/conference (i.e. a queer pride group, an autism conference, or a religious gathering, for example).

  7. Don’t invite yourself to parties or outings. If you find out about a private party or outing that you weren’t invited to, don’t mention it around the people who are invited.

  8. Thank people in advance when you expect them to do something for you.

  9. Always ask if you need anything from anyone.

  10. Default to speaking or acting more respectfully or formally when in doubt about how formal you should be around a particular person or in a particular situation or place.

  11. No means no.

These rules, among others, are reason enough in my eyes to make communication a resonable, accessible two way street to understanding and compassion, only then can we be shown respect as we Spectrumites give to others, fellow Spectrumites or not. Only then can misunderstandings be undone and we all can communicate and…

 

Shine On!!!!

Letters for Lent: Trusting in Luck; Trusting in Him

(Writer’s note: Please note that this post was written on Tuesday, February 19, before I practiced my Lenten observance, one of which is being absent on social media, but the message remains relevant)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all!!!

Whenever people think of the Irish, they often times might think of leprechauns with rainbows leading to their hidden treasures, maybe Guinness amongst other things. That said, there’s also other things that the Irish are known for, their philosophers, writers, playwrights and other things.

But that’s nothing compared to their faith.

From the unification of Ireland thanks to High King Brian Boru, to St. Patrick explaining The Holy Trinity, to the Miracle of The Blessed Virgin Mary in Knock, to the Irish Famine, the Irish have always been faithful, always trusting that God will see them through any tribulations they went through them as now. The Irish realize how important faith can be in their lives.

Faith can be a great treasure, much they are in the Beatitudes, which explain how we should consider our lives blessed even in our struggles. No matter what comes our way, we should always see ourselves as blessed.

Just as the saints did, they lived lives, just like we all do, they had difficulties as we all do, and they all trusted God, just as we should do, so we can all be the best version of ourselves and help others…

Shine On!!

The Pressures of the Past

One year ago, a former roommate of mine moved into another apartment in the Agency that houses people with disabilities. He and I were young but whereas I was more responsible, working, and on top of things, he was a slacker, clingy and always asked me questions about stuff I always considered common knowledge.

Suffice it to say that the move was the best thing that could’ve happened to me, but that didn’t stop him from showing up in my life from time to time, especially last night at a self advocacy meeting. I managed to deal with him without incident, but suffice it to say, it was an intense meeting for me.

I’m sure Spectrumites feel shocked about changes that we can’t control; when life gives us cards that can be difficult to play. But we play them as best as we can, for better or worse. It’s the same for all of us, I’m sure, what with anxiety running rampant on all sides, the unknown making us second guess our instincts.

It’s the same for us all, things that we can’t control end up affecting our lives, both in good ways and bad. Professional wrestler (and 16-time World Champion) John Cena has the perfect way to approach when times affect us: To Rise Above the Hate, as his t-shirts say. That can speak to all of us as well, I feel; we shouldn’t allow the pressures, the inconveniences, the not so great days keep us from being ourselves and living our lives to the fullest. Doing so will help us all really, truly….

Shine On!!

Letters for Lent: Making the Tough Choices

(Writer’s note: Please note that this post was written on Tuesday, February 19, before I practiced my Lenten observance, one of which is being absent on social media, but the message remains relevant)

Being Catholic is a tough cross to bear, having to make the tough; difficult choices where temptation is ever present, especially in our world, where social media makes the pressure seem that much more intense.

Being the best version of whom God calls us to be seems to be distant in a world where images of what seems to be perfect are all in your face, all at once. Like being in Times Square in New York City for the first time by yourself, it can feel overpowering; overwhelming at times.

The point I’m bringing up with this is that temptation is everywhere, the temptation to do the easy things, make the easy choices, do something you know that God might not approve of, even though He does give us free will, so that our choices are our own.

I’ve made decisions in my own life where the pressure seemed intense, in my high school, we usually had pizza on Fridays, one of which had meat, I was given a slice of meat pizza (even while they didn’t know that I didn’t want that choice.) When I paid for my lunch, I mentioned to a lunch monitor (who was also a parishioner at my Church) my dilemma and with her help, the choice was changed and from then on pizza was given two choices, meat and cheese.

Another choice was the temptation to have intercourse before I was ready, which was a big one for me for so many reasons, but because I had my reasons, I was respected for those decisions, not just because of the Ten Commandments, mind you, but looking back at it now, I see other factors that could’ve made the decision a hard one to take back. Financially, emotionally, I wasn’t ready for that kind of responsibility, to be frank about it.

There will always be moments of truth; moments that show who we are deep inside. But as long as we remain true to ourselves, if we continue to fight for what is right, then we can really, truly thrive in life and…

Shine On!!

Practicing Patience

Life is a proving ground when it comes to virtue, it comes to us whenever we accept the mission or not. It takes so much of all of us to develop those virtues that come to others so easily, but we all do so in our own way. Among the countless virtues we all come across, the most rewarding and yet the most elusive is patience.

My life was (then as now) a test of patience, the need to silence yourself, to keep your voice silent even as you feel the overwhelming urge to let your voice out, to let yourself be heard. We all have those friends who constantly talk about themselves, constantly let their voices be heard even at the cost of other voices’ opinions being silenced.

For the Spectrumite, that feeling of patience may not hard to do, but even we have our limits but the world keeps our voices silent, it’s important to realize that that kind of isolation can result in important details being left out, the things we catch going unnoticed. If it happens too much, though, meltdowns can occur (and have done so in my life.) It feels like a bottle that’s been shaken up and left shaken up for too long with Mentos stuffed into it, just as that result can be messy, such is how a meltdown can feel, to everyone affected by it.

The solution to curb this is simple, yet can feel difficult for Neurotypicals to grasp, to realize that our lives, our opinions, our concerns and our interests matter, to us for no other reason. A friend of mine, a fellow Spectrumite, has been patient with repairs in her living space, but her concerns feel like they are ignored and she feels frustrated as a result. Even in my own life, I can feel frustrated when my needs, my concerns, my views aren’t taken as seriously as they should be sometimes.

What we freely give, we (and others like us) now ask for patience, kindness and understanding in return. It’s been so long and so much progress has been made since the days of Willowbrook, so I feel that it’d be criminal for our voices, our concerns, our lives to take a backseat to others. But bridges can’t be built with one form of communication, it takes both of us, all of us to really make our world a better, a kinder place where we can all…

Shine On!!!