Throwback Thursday: Tragic Strength

In light of recent events, with the shootings in Las Vegas and the death of Tom Petty still fresh in all of our minds, I figured that this edition of Poetry Packed Out needed to touch on sadness and how people can recover (as best as we can, at any rate) from the things in life that are sometimes unavoidable. The poem I chose is from my own sorrow and faith entitled Triumph from Tragedy. 

When I was writing this poem, I was still going through a rough patch in my life, losing my late mentor to ALS and wanting to let people know what I was feeling at the time. It was full of my emotions. Triumph from Tragedy had the paradox of this space known as time: it held onto the wanting to turn back time, yet it also held something more deep inside, that we find difficult to find at the time: the hope that each of us holds inside, even when we suffer more than we can bare, to know that we aren’t alone in our suffering. This poem is here to let those who mourn that it’s natural to mourn, especially for those we hold dear inside us, but also to let us not to forget how important it is to let others know that we care about them, individually and as a society. So, without further ado:

Triumph from Tragedy

Death is…

something uncontrollable:

spreading like a virus

losing your friend

in a matter of seconds

Without a chance to say goodbye.

It is pain beyond words

like the world is crumbling around you

with no escape in sight

Like losing you mentor; your hero

your knight in shining armor

In what seems like an eternity

But there is hope and joy in this

We must remember to appreciate

those people that are living now

before it’s too late

And to love other people back

Regardless of what others think of them

If we are to join our friends

When we leave this place

And journey into

The next world.

Hope this helps you all heal from the past and present pains so we can all…..

 

Shine On!!

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Dare to “B” Yourself!

I was struck (though not stung, thank God) by inspiration at the Annual Roy Gonyea Memorial Golf Tournament recently, the inspiration came from something buzzing, not inside my ears, but it came from all around. The sound was not easy to ignore, especially with both myself and my friend panicking at their sight.

They are necessary, yes, but they also are annoying, but in the case of this blog post, they were an inspiration. The pesky pest I’m prattling on about are, of course, bees.

To those that ask, “Well, if they’re that annoying, why are they inspirational at the same time?” It took a while for me to think about that, but I think that the thing to take away from bees is that they are persistent, focusing on the task of gathering sugar; pollen for the good of their collective hive. Sound familiar? It does to me because in an ironic sort of way, bees remind me of the Borg Collective and Starfleet from Star Trek.

Both defend themselves and their “hives”, both have leaders, both have their wants and their needs. It’s the moral question that they both take differently, one kills, assimilates others into their “culture” while the other defends those that they consider both families and friends.

Ok, maybe I read too much into it, but the point remains. We can learn a lot from bees, from all of nature, in fact. The question that remains for us is how to learn from nature, as Henry David Thoreau did. I feel that he penned it best in Life Without Principle:

“If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”

He punctuates it in Walden, with this:

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

How are we desperate, where can we find that balance?

What are we missing in our lives, how can we learn from nature?

My feelings are to start with the bees.

We need to “B” courageous!

We need to “B” brave!

We need to “B” fearless!

We need to “B” kind!

And perhaps just as importantly, we need to “B” au-some!

It may not be much, but it’s as good a place to start.

So, what are you waiting for? Start being yourself, start living your life, start doing what you want to do, because only then can you be inspirational and help others…

Shine On!!

Poetry Packed Out: Moving “Fore” Ward

(The following speech is one that I plan to deliver to The ARC Mid Hudson Fall Classic known as the Roy Gonyea Golf Tournament, something I’ve volunteered for several years in a row, The reason for it will become evident as the speech will show)

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you so much for your participation in this very special tournament, done in honor of a great friend of The ARC Mid Hudson, the late Roy Gonyea.

First and foremost, I wish to thank the people who make this tournament possible, including Kathy Bonelli and my friend and partner for this tournament, Jack Ruddick among so many others, I also want to thank my fellow volunteers among them both friends and self advocates: ARC Mid Hudson’s 2017 Personal Achievement Award Winner Samantha Michaels, two time author Jesse Saperstein.

If there was a word to describe what this tournament entails, it would be connection, or maybe “links” may be more fitting. Just think of it, golf holes link an either course, history links the past and present to our future and families are linked together, especially in my case. I’ve known the Gonyea family for many years and know that he’s smiling down on all of us tonight and the passion he had for the ARC Mid Hudson links us to his memory.

It’s in this spirit that I wish to share my poem, which I believe I shared last year, due to the fact that it encompasses Roy’s legacy and love, which we share today:

Fore!

 

-for the memory of Roy Gonyea Jr-

 

Forever friend fueled fire 

Open always to hear cries of those 

Ready to defend one, all in 

Every aspect of wonderful population. 

 

Fore! He cried, plans acted on at 

One’s request, knowing life and death depended

Really- depended on community banding as one

Everyone’s hopes hinging on trusted one. 

 

Finally, the decision comes in-success!! 

Our community, world is all the better for 

Real commitment, compassion on

Everyone’s hearing one voice, the flame we share. 

 

(Thank you and as always…

Shine On!!)

The Summer that Was..

Well, summer has come and gone and, all things considered, I’d have to say that it was a very worthwhile, interesting and wonderful summers I’ve had in recent memory.

It all started with a personal problem, which was all about creating a balance between work and SSI benefits. Thankfully, my job has been supportive of helping them understand and be flexible on my behalf. The lesson I learned (and need to constantly relearn) is to stand up for myself and what I need about my life. It’s tough for someone who is so used to using his circumstances to his benefit, as an artist would.

Then, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post (link: https://theautisticsuperblog.wordpress.com/2019/07/15/a-garden-party-with-the-piano-man/), I went to see my musical idol, Billy Joel, live at his home stadium, Madison Square Garden. I’ve said this before in that blog post in question, it was a magical moment, capped off by singing long time favorites of mine, including his trademark song, Piano Man. People singing with me was a moment I’ll cherish forever, including one of my closest friends, Jason.

That wasn’t the only thing I did with him, as we went to Overlook Mountain earlier this month, to say it was a hike would be an understatement. Two miles of rough, rocky terrain and a steep incline made it a challenge, but I think that Overlook, much like life itself, gives us challenges, only to push us to greater things, as was the case with the view that we had when we both made it to the top. It’s wise words from Mother Nature, I think…

As I usually do in August, I always make it a point to go to the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour (the website is: saugertiesarttour.org/, for those whom are inclined) and went to Olana, as I like to do at least once a year, one time I took my Dad there and he was impressed at the sights (the link is here:https://www.olana.org/) as well as going to the Skywalk (https://www.greatnortherncatskills.com/attractions/hudson-river-skywalk) that connects Olana to The Thomas Cole Center the first day it opened. I also went to a new place, Kinderhook, specifically the President Van Buren National Park, the link is here: https://www.nps.gov/mava/index.htm.

As one can see, my readers, it’s been a great summer, but I hope to do more as next summer comes around, letting the sun be on us all, so that we can all….

Shine On!!!

Throwback Thursday: GRASPing for a Brighter Future!!

(Writer’s note: This is the transcript of the speech that I’ll deliver tonight at the annual Gala for a great organization that’s made by Spectrumites for Spectrumites, one where I’m part of the Advisory Board: The Global and Regional Aspergers Syndrome Partnership.

The video will be up later tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest, but I wanted to share the transcript with you all, as a way to share my joy with my readers. I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing this. Until then, stay strange, Golden and, as always,
Shine On!!)
Friends, family, distinguished guests!!
Thank you very much for allowing me to speak at the GRASP Gala. First and foremost, I wish to thank my peers including the hard working Kate Palmer and her team, speaking from experience, I can say without fail, that they speak for us and with us, speaking as someone who have both been honored by my friends but also as someone on the Spectrum who has seen the progress they (and I ) have done. I think it’s fitting we are all here, in a city that has such a long history of helping others in need how ever we can.
The progress we’ve made has been outstanding, a far cry from where we were as much as 50 years ago, where opportunities such as these would be considered unrealistic, where our greatness and our quirks would be snuffed out, where choices would be totally nonexistent and our hopes and desires would end up with us hitting glass ceilings.
It’s in this world where my older peers in the Hudson Valley lived in until recently and it must feel like such a culture shock to them, like the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy passed from black and white to the technicolor world of Oz. I understand that that is s bleak picture, but I paint this picture to show everyone how much progress we’ve made our the years, not to say that our work is done.
As for my efforts, I simply couldn’t think of not doing anything to help my peers, both as a fellow peer and a writer. To that end, I decided to help them with The ARC of Ulster Greene’s (Writer’s note: now known as the ARC Mid Hudson) Literacy Program, specifically with the games I create, one of which helps them match letters they know so that they can make words from those letters that they use in their own cinquain.
The games I use are a product of my fixation, game shows, and I’ve seen the progress that my games have made on them, how my contributions have helped them see that they are capable, as are we all. That said, I try not to take credit for the results, I feel like I’m just the host; those I work with are the stars, especially since I go to their Day Programs. I firmly believe that by doing this activity, making learning both fun and approachable, I feel like I can make a difference in my community.
As it comes to my writing, I go by the wise words of Socrates, which I feel can speak to all of us, “All that I know is that I know nothing.” An artist is only as good as he is open to the world, his emotions and the forms he knows. I’ve done this for over 20 years and I’ve complied several volumes of works, yet I’ve only managed to publish one book thanks to my friend George Nicholsen via Blurb.com. I like to be wide open when it comes to new forms and new techniques as they come, as is evident in my blog, which is located at Theautisticsuperblog.wordpress.com. As I said earlier, though, our work isn’t done. Not even close. The employment opportunities still elude us even as we prove ourselves; the limits we have still bind us, making it feel unfair to excel.

It’s only by coming together like we are tonight that shows us what can happen when people unite themselves with our community and get to know us as we are. Then and only then can we be the people, the community we know we can be, where our dreams can come true when we can truly shine!! Thank you all so much!!

Where Were You? A Sept 11th Remembrance

The memories still feel so fresh, vivid images on a screen of something horrible, something we wish was fiction, was happening live in front of our eyes, happening in our time.

Those are the words that come to my mind as we come close to September 11th, 18 years since the most tragic event happened on American Soil. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, even as the hurt might never fully heal. But I digress, I’d like to give you all, my readers, what was going on in my life as September 11 was happening and why it was a scary time in my life.

To give backstory to this, my Dad was already at his job, a security person at the World Financial Center in New York City, he was planning to get some pictures of the recently opened Irish Arts Center, since he’s from Ireland, I’m guessing he wanted to see how it reminded him of his home in Limerick. My stepmom worked in a building that could see the skyline, so she had a view of the Twin Towers. All while this was taking place, I was watching on a TV set with people who were remodeling my Mom’s bar.

And then, it all changed when the Twin Towers were hit. In the space of minutes, panic, fear and concern filled our hearts. All as people were fleeing for their lives, all except the First Responders who rushed to the scene, families who had family that lived in Manhattan rushed to their phones to make sure that they were all right, nerves were frayed and tears were shed as the minutes passed into hours. Later on, we had heard of Flight 77 attacked the Pentagon and fear swept us more than ever.

Hours turned into days before people could reach anyone. Some got calls, relieving their fears, while others were not as lucky.

This day, Sept 11, this attack on our land, our freedom, our peace of mind, is something we remember today. We remember those whose lives were lost, we remember the sacrifices that were made to save people, we remember what we, as Americans, should be all about, but most importantly, we remember our courage and resolve to be brave and stand up for freedom.

But that said, never be afraid to be brave, to be forgiving, to be kind so as not to let the darkness win but help us all….

Shine On!! God Bless You all!!!

Being (Un)Critical of Ourselves!!

In this crazy, Neurotypical world, it’s hard to feel like you fit in, moreso when you have all the support in the world. The pressure that neurotypicals put on us can feel overwhelming, like even the slightest fault we have, or mistake we make, can be blown up against us.

For neurotypicals, such a critique can feel like no big deal, but for Spectrumites, particularly those with low self esteem and self confidence, it can feel like we aren’t good enough. We feel like we fail in basic NT protocol, NT 101 and it feels extremely horrible. Others can tell that we try, that we shouldn’t be crucial, it’s so hard to believe it in the moment. But, it feels like it’s an NT world and we just live in it….more like exist in it, most times.

It feels that for all we do; for all we are, both to ourselves and others, all the talents we have deep inside, our progress feels futile with one mistake.

So, I’m going to try to do something revolutionary: Being Kind to myself, letting myself know that I am important, that I’m loved and appreciated as I am, flaws and all. Even though it feels like an uphill climb, especially since I feel like I’m starting from square one (not the early 90’s PBS show,) I know that it’ll be worth it.

But the question to me is how can I start? I think I’ll start small, by telling myself to do my best, let the cards fall as they may, to tell myself that I am enough and I’m not perfect, but I am enough.

My question to you is how are you kind to yourselves? What do you do to build yourself up? I ask you all, readers, to give me advice since I can use it myself, so we can all start to feel better about ourselves and…

Shine On!!

Throwback Thursday: Merit of a Mother (for my Mom’s Birthday)

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers that are reading the Super-blog!! This post is a tribute to all of you, Mothers, GodMothers, Adopted Mothers, Mothers-to-be as well as the fathers who play both roles, as a way to say thank you to all of you for all you do for us, your children.

My definition of a mother is someone who is strong, even when that strength is at its peak, Someone who knows that she can do it and wise enough to know when (or if) she needs help. One such person was my best friends late mother: she was hope personified, she had faith in God, kind to her family and friends, strict when she needed to and strong when she had to be. This was evident in the battle that took her life: a battle with breast cancer, hence the imagery in my tribute poem to her, called Gentle Pink, which made her daughters cry when I recited it to them, so without ado:

Gentle Pink

-for the memory of Beverly Defino-

Gentle pink

wind calls out;

tells all that can hear

the broken hearted;

discouraged athelete

a sick person:

Even as enemies close in,

times when hope

seems

distant,

promise me

one thing:

That through it all,

to never give up.

My wish

helps

all in need,

battling whatever comes,

knowing

heroic fight

with its ardious

difficult

trials,

all too well.

Faith,

love

may seem

insignificant

in world deluged

in dismal news.

Those small things

done out of love;

kindness

mean so much

in the long run.

Love

from all who love you

inspires;

radiates itself

to others;

permeating

throughout life’s

peaks and pratfalls.

“Gentle wind,

those who get

the message

say silently

as if in prayer

“We know

words so heartfelt

how much you care,

even now,

you inspire

humble people

with your

faithfulness;

courageousness;

precious jem

the gifts

we celebrate;

guard

we will never forget

nor the memory

you leave in us.”

I figured I’d do a two for one blog post because there’s one person I wanted to acknowledge on this Mother’s Day, my own mother. My Mom is the kindest, selfless and thoughful person I’ve known in my life (and most of hers.) She loves her family just as much as she wanted to help her community, willing to do St. Patrick’s Day parties in our family business for so many years, a business she took over from my father.

An example of her selflessness manifested when she helped out (and took care of for a time) our Aunt Mary Mahoney, who lived in the same town after living her life in Ireland, but couldn’t go shopping on her own, hence what my Mom did for her. It’s something I do to this day at my job when people that shop for two families. I always try to keep them separate to make life easier, since I know firsthand what a problem it can be to sort two separate orders. With that being said, I present the second poem in this post:

Russell Street

-to the memory of Mary Mahoney-

I.

Two orders

come onto the

conveyor belt.

Before he bags,

the customer tells him

to separate them,

says she’s buying for two houses.

Bagger’s reply

“I’ll treat them as

I would my own family.”

His eyes

reassures her;

he means what he says,

they seem to say.

II.

Chieftain music plays

elderly woman lies in her chair,

blanket draped as

she listens,

eyes closed;

the music seemingly

transporting her

to a simpler time.

A woman

and her son

enter the house,

bags in their hands.

Elderly woman’s eyes open

happy to see her company,

she’s been expecting them.

As the friends talk

over tea,

“O Danny Boy” plays

in the background,

suddenly the elderly woman

sing

with the friend and her son

as her only audience,

listening

appreciating

every single note.

The son sits

mesmerized,

how much kindness

his Mom

has for her elderly aunt

to do what she does,

how each takes pride

in what life has given them,

Something he does,

Appreciating

more so now.

For those who mourn because their mothers aren’t around, know that I join my thoughts and prayers with you all, just as I celebrate those who have thier mothers around. I ask for those who do to be kind and caring to those without, invite them into your houses, show the compassion and kindness to them that they may need during this time, knowing that our example will help them all heal so we can all find the strength to truly..

Shine On!!! Happy Mother’s Day again!!!

Poetry Packed Out: A Very Ancient Saying Rings True

Hey, readers!! I know I was a bit heavy on the last post I made, but I just want you all to know that what I wrote was the truth. It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong (moreso when you’re very stubborn like I tend to be) so I wanted to be honest with what’s going on in my life, mostly because I think you all might feel uncomfortable dealing with the dark side. I only wanted to lead by example, so I wanted to take the lead on my end.

I just wanted to thank you all for reading my last post and for understanding.

And now, on a lighter note, on the cusp of a new school year, as a tutor and someone who does his own fair share of planning, I just want to say that I have a profound respect for teachers. They do so much for us all, both in the classroom and outside.

On that note, I was able to go to an Open Mic night at the Poetry Barn (https://www.poetrybarn.co) during a workshop where fellow poets learned new things about poetry, run by the wonderful Lissa Kiernan, whom I’ve shared a stage with before at the Golden Notebook in April during a meeting of the Woodstock Poetry Society (http://www.woodstockpoetry.com).

Simply put, it was so wonderful, the stage was small and intimate, fitting for a place that used to be a Camp, one where the annual Ashokan Hoot ( http://hoot.love) takes place. During my time there, I was able to do an impromptu teaching experience, sharing my 20 plus year experience in the poetic field. It was wonderful to share my insight and wisdom that I would do over again if given the chance. It made me feel like what I do, as a tutor, as a poet, makes a huge difference, which led me to share the following poem.

A Poet’s Life

All Poets

Search

For answers

In a world

That

Underestimates

The impact

Our words

Can have.

Poets

Bleed,

Work,

Play,

Read,

Look

For deeper

Meaning

In everyday

Life.

Success

Never is

Easy,

Drilling

Through

Blocks;

Famines,

Shedding

Light

Even as

the work

Is never

Really

complete,

but it exists as

our proof.

I hope that this inspires my friends, my fellow poets, those who want to learn about poetry, tutors and others to not give up on your dreams; look for deeper answers to life’s questions, all while helping you and others…

Shine On!!!!

A Long Hard Look

It’s so easy for me to make others feel like things will be all right, to be the face people look to when they need to unload their life on others, myself specifically. It’s so easy for me to let others not get the best of me, for me to brush things off, even when things get heavier by doing so?

But even, the cross gets overwhelming.

Such has been the case over the last couple of days, as I’ve had to do some soul searching; facing a harsh truth by doing so. Those who know me know that I can be very stubborn and it takes a lot to get harsh truths in my head, especially if it’s something I really don’t want to face.

Things came to a head this weekend when I was forced to confront the fact that, despite my thinking otherwise, I’m really bad at money management, or at least I’m not as good as I thought I was. It was quite the blow to fragile self esteem, to say nothing of my self confidence.

I admit, freely, that I was angry, hurt and miserable by the revelation. That is, until I spoke to family about it and found out that I’m not alone, which was a great consolation. It made me feel like I was seeing a side of myself I didn’t want to admit was there, but always was there in the shadows.

Suffice it to say, though, it’s been a humbling experience. But the good news is that it’s made me want to be better.

Looking at the bad side we all have isn’t always easy and, speaking from experience, it’s never pretty. It’s like dealing with the side you never show to others that even you don’t know is there.

And it’s something that we all have deep down inside, Spectrumite or not. So, as much as it may seem uncomfortable, as much as it hurts us to do so, we should confront our dark sides. Only when we know we need to be better can we actually be better. Only then, when we look at our “bad cards” can we become better people and really…

Shine On!!!