A Short but Sweet Post

I know that this is a short post this time, but I promise that it’ll be as sweet and honey and apples..

There’s always something sweet when the New Year hits, it feels like a tabula rasa, a new day (Yes it is! Kudos for those who get the reference) a fresh start.

In other words, it’s always nice to feel that, no matter what life throws at you, there’s always a way for everyone to get a second chance. Such is the way today for our Jewish friends as they begin to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

It may not be as flashy as the New Year celebrations, but the sentiment of getting a second chance at life. But the camaraderie of having family and friends around goes as well as honey and apples, much as it does for the New Year.

So, during today and every day, let’s not take each other for granted, let’s treasure each other as God looks at us, so that I’m doing so, we can all….

Shine On!! La Shana Tova to those who celebrate!!

Playing with Power: A Harrowing Balance

The measure of a man is what he does with power.

-Plato

(The following quote and others can be seen here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201209/37-quotes-power)

Power corrupts, power changes, power manipulates people as much as it can enlighten people as to what happens if power used for evil can go to far. But power is true to its word, as it empowers those with a voice to change things for the better, so long as it’s used wisely.

This might just be a musing on how power can be used for good or for evil, but considering what’s in the news right now, it might be a harsh lesson that we need to remember, both for now and for the future.

I want to say right at the outset that this isn’t a political post, but it’s current events, so I feel like it’d be a shame not to mention it.  That said, it’s no secret in the United States that President Trump is in a lot of hot water right now. Whenever or not he’ll be impeached is still up to the courts to decide, but this bit of news should show us how power can be used for good, but the temptation to go too far is so prevalent that I’d say that it takes divine intervention or humility to not go that road.

Power can make even the best falter, it happened to the late Charles Van Doren, Herbert Stempel and Pete Rose; just as it’s happening to President Trump now, joining a band of Powerful Presidential Abusers as Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and Andrew Jackson.

For those who want power, who desire the ability to change the world, allow me this one piece of advice: be humble when you get it and never forget to thank God for His help in troubling times (which will come, in the form of temptations daily.) Talking from experience, wanting to be a leader is one thing when you’re on the outside looking in, but being a leader takes a lot of patience, fortitude and faith, none of which come easy, but can be developed with time and experience.

So, make sure you want to be the leader you want to be for others, wary of the slippery slope that will be there, but know that you are never alone and that, working together, we can all help each other….

Shine On!!!

Much to Love about Libraries

Those who know me know why I have an appreciation for Libraries and Librarians, the support they show their communities, how they help their communities be better, do better and just learning in general.

I know this support firsthand, even throughout my life, but especially in my adult life. I’ve spoken at great length of my late College mentor, Larry Berk, about how he opened my eyes to what the arts can be, but he was a giant in both the art communities and the Library communities as well. He changed the game with his innovative solutions, including creating the Annual Artists in Residences every Autumn and Spring.

Another thing he created was the Information Literacy Program, or Lib 111. If the internet is any indication, we all know that information is prevalent in our world: the trouble is finding out the right information for what we want. Lib 111 was his way to help us navigate the web safely and accurately.

When Larry passed away 13 years ago this October, it hit me hard, like really hard. That was when his work family, the great people at SUNY Ulster’s Macdonald Dewitt Library (whose link is here: https://www.sunyulster.edu/library/) adopted me into their family. It touched me beyond words and it made me know that I wasn’t alone in my mourning. Being in their Library family is something I don’t take for granted and something I try to live up to everyday.

I only hope I do a good job of it, sometimes.

I know I digressed, but I bring this up to highlight how important Libraries and Librarians are to all of us, myself included. I want to take this time to say thank you so much to my SUNY Ulster Library family for being such great friends to me, as well as the Librarians of The Mid Hudson Library System, whose work spans the whole Hudson Valley area (the link for them is here: https://midhudson.org/) This is just a small way that I can say thank you all so much for all you do for the communities you all serve. It’s because of all of you that we can do better, be better, and as always..

 

Shine On!!

 

The Draining Game

I’d like to apologize to you, my readers, for taking so long in getting more posts out, but in all honesty, I’ve been busy, what with work, volunteering and everything else in my life. So much so that I barely have time for doing much else but recharging myself for the next day.

That said, though, that doesn’t mean I’m going off the blogging grid, far from it, actually. I have some posts in progress that I need to work on. What can I say, it’s the perfectionist in me, but I assure you a it’ll be worth the wait.

Now, I do have something that I’m sure you, my readers, can vouch for at one point in our lives: Socializing is tough. More than that, it seems, it’s frantic, chaotic and (at least lately, for me) draining.

Socializing, at it’s core, is all an act, an act that others naturally have, like politicians, actors, businesspeople, easily able to navigate through without any problems.

Socializing for autistic people can be a challenge to master. We work off a prepared script that we work from over and over everyday to pass ourselves off as “normal” and it can be extremely difficult for us to go off our script, it pushes us into unfamiliar territory, ones that, if we aren’t careful, can lead us to be overwhelmed. It would be the equivalent of a computer freezing up or an old school pinball machine going “Tilt.” It’s a paralyzing experience and it can lead to meltdowns if left unchecked.

This is a prime example of where self care, taking care of yourself should (and needs to) be a priority. When you feel yourself freezing up, understand that it’s ok for you to say no, to step outside if you need to, to get something for yourself that will help you recharge.

Know that you are important to your life and, in times of stress, you matter to yourself and those who care about you. It’s also important to know your limits, your weaknesses but also your strengths as well, only then can you put your best foot forward and truly…..

Shine On!!!

Throwback Thursday: Risk vs. Reward

In life, there will be times where a conversation will be hard to have, awkward at best and difficult at worst, times where you’ll put yourself out there for all the world to see, vulnerable to any attacks that may come as to reveal yourself.

I’ve always been honest on the Superblog when all of you, my readers. With this topic, though, I’ve struggled, mostly because I recently didn’t know how to deal with difficult conversations, especially when there was a lot to lose.

I guess the main reason I didn’t like those conversations was because I didn’t want to lose anyone. That’s mostly because I value and cherish my friends, especially those whom I consider close.

Well, while I’m lucky I didn’t lose one, I had to risk that recently due to a difficult conversation. But the thing that really bothers me in hindsight is that I took the easy way out and asked a friend to help me tell a friend some news.

Again, in hindsight, I realize that it was a bad call to make but at the time, it seemed like the right decision. But what I’ve learned in this experience is to just swallow your pride, take a deep breath and don’t be afraid to have the difficult conversation with those you care about, especially if the thing in question is something that’s bugging you.

A friend I knew committed suicide because of one misunderstanding that must have felt like the end of the world. Looking back at my conundrum, I can only say that fear was holding me back. How I handled was the right call at the time, but I now see that it was a cowardly move on my part. That’s the part that I’m ashamed of, most of all.

What I ask of you all to do if you’re in the same situation, my advice to you is to swallow your pride, be brave and let the chips fall where they may, maybe you’ll win, maybe you’ll lose, but either way, you’ll have an answer; as my brother would say, “Lesson learned.”

I know it’s a tough thing to say, but sometimes being tough is something that’s needed in life, but by being tough, having tough conversations and making your needs a priority will have a positive impact in the long run, since you can do what you need to do to…

Shine On!!

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!!

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!!