(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:
-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…
(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,
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!!
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…
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
In a world
but it exists as
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…