#GivingTuesday: Paying it Forward!

I know it’s only a couple of days away, but today is as good a time as ever to consider what to do when it come to Giving Tuesday. It seems apropos to talk about it here because we all have had help in our lives, I’m sure. I’ve added these once before, but I’ve added one more to the list because I believe in these places and the mission that they work for, please  consider checking out and supporting the following places:

The Autism Society of America: http://www.autism-society.org: One of the best places to go for autism research, especially as it comes to support for newcomers and newly diagnosed. A long standing beacon of advocacy for over 50 years, ASA stands among the best of the best, coming from a former Board Member of my local Chapter.

4340 East-West Hwy, Suite 350 Bethesda, Maryland 20814

Global and Regional Aspergers Syndrome Partnership: https://grasp.org: If you’re a Spectrumite that’s looking for a diagnosis, looking for support groups or need to work on new things, then GRASP is for you. Talking from personal experience (as I do with all the links I’m sharing), GRASP looks to empower Spectrumites so that they feel like you’re never alone. Wise words from an organization where I’m part of their Advisory Board.

369 Lexington Ave, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10017

Center for Spectrum Services: http://centerforspectrumservices.org: When it comes to the Hudson Valley, The Center for Spectrum Services, my old school, is a place where young Spectrumites can feel like being themselves, thanks to 40 plus years of experience, a warm and inviting staff and wonderful two co-founders, Jamey Wolff and Susan Buckler, whose vision and determination has grown CSS into what it is today.

Kingston:
70 Kukuk Lane
Kingston, NY  12401

845-336-2616

Ellenville:
4 Yankee Place
Ellenville, NY  12428

845-647-6464

Specialisterne: http://specialisterne.com: This company that is based out of Denmark, specializes on giving Spectrumites a chance (and the skills) to work primarily on computer programs, are least from what I know.

As they say from their own website:

 Specialisterne, which translates from Danish as “The Specialists”, is a socially innovative company where the majority of employees have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. Employees work as business consultants on tasks such as software testing, programming and data entry for the public and private sectors.

We harness the special characteristics and talents of people with autism and use them as a competitive advantage, and as a means to help people with autism secure meaningful employment. Specialisterne has operations in numerous locations around the world.

They also work with Spectrumites from around the world, but for their USA branch, their website is: https://specialisterneusa.com/about/ which explains whom they are, the Director of the US Branch is also my cousin, just for full disclosure.

Autistic Self Advocacy Network: https://autisticadvocacy.org. This penultimate link is primarily for self advocacy for Spectrumites, this gives you a voice to what sometimes slips through the cracks as far as news for Spectrumites, by Spectrumites. I definitely recommend this source for help in self advocacy, especially for newly diagnosed Spectrumites.

Autistic Self Advocacy Network
PO Box 66122
Washington, DC 20035

The ARC: I both live in my current place and also volunteer at my local ARC, which helps people with disabilities have more meaningful and productive lives. The people involved are also working on self advocacy as well as helping people with disabilities learn skills for working in and living in their respective communities.

 1825 K Street, NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20006

ProLiteracy: https://proliteracy.org/: Their goal is to help others attain their goals by enhancing their reading skills, as they say in their mission, it’s to:

promote adult literacy through content development, programs, and advocacy. Our goal is to change lives and communities through the power of literacy.

For people with disabilities and not, working on your literacy can be a literal game changer in many lives, especially for those who are older than I am. In my life, I’ve been able to help others with the ARC Mid Hudson’s Literacy Program, but I got the training from Ulster Literacy Association, which in turn gets their training from ProLiteracy. To help others with reading is honestly one of the proudest accomplishments in my life, it can be humbling at times as well. I’m very happy and proud to add this charity to my list of places to donate.

101 Wyoming Street, Syracuse, NY 13204

Once again, I ask you to support these and other organizations to not only help yourselves pay it forward but to also help others to improve thier lives and help us all….

 

Shine On!!!

A Time to Be Thankful!

In this cold world, it’s hard to see the things that make our hearts warm and cozy, it’s hard to be happy when all you see fills you with nothing but despair.

For some, the holidays hammer that feeling of loneliness, especially for those where families are scattered, by distance or circumstances beyond their control.

But instead of how bad things seem to be, I’m going to ask you all, my readers, to try a different tactic: To think of something in your life to be thankful for, you might find that you have a lot going on that’s good more often times than naught.

This is what I wrote on the Super-Blog last year, but the sentiments are still as true as they were then, so I’d like to share an excerpt of that post with you to show you all, my readers, what I’m grateful for:

One of the things that you may have noticed in reading my blog is that I try to expand my explanations as best as I can, like a translator working between two very different; very unique societies.

I’m thankful for God, for making me who I am.

I’m thankful for my family; for those I hold dear to me as well as my friends (Spectrumites or not) because you all see me as I am, with my faults and virtues.

I’m thankful for my job, my co workers, supervisors and managers, humble as my job is, it challenges me to do better than I do the day before, in doing better, they see, I become a better person and vice versa.

I’m thankful for my community for being so kind, compassionate and understanding towards me and those around me. Though work still needs to be done, with the bridges we build, we can all make the world a better place.

I’m thankful for Libraries, Librarians, artists of all disciplines, and so many other people in my life that make a difference by just being themselves..

But most importantly, I’d like to thank all of you, who support my blog, that read these posts which are my life. To those who criticize my posts, well I thank you as well, because your criticism makes me a better writer, I know I need to improve or Socrates’ problem would have no meaning (“All that I know is that I know nothing” just for those who are curious) so thank you all for your support, critique and for you just being you to me and helping us all…

Shine on!!!

“You Don’t Age, Ever!”

That was the general refrain that I got as I met friends that I haven’t kept in touch with (barring social media) since I graduated from Saugerties High School in June 1999.

It was refreshing to reconnect and reminisce about life in the twilight of the Second Millennium. Just the mere thought of it being 20 years since we graduated High School made me react like Dr. Emmett Brown from Back to the Future:

My God, has it been that long?

It’s honestly amazing to see how much changes with us all, but even with that, there are some things like family and friends that never, ever seem to change. Given how I got the tickets (through the generosity of a friend), I was pleased surprised how kind and supportive my friends have been.

They seemed ever more supportive of me, though in fairness, I think somethings changed in my life, most of which I will get into later this year, but just feeling the love and being able to reconnect with long lost friends is something that I’ll never lose, no matter what.

The only thing that I regret was having to leave early, but I’m comforted by the fact that I…had the time of my life (and I’ve never felt this way before and yes, I’ll bet you sang that 80s song!) I had my reasons for leaving early, what with work and all, but I can really say that I really enjoyed myself.

So, this is my way to say “Thank you” to my friends and classmates, especially the ones responsible for the 20th Anniversary last night. By welcoming me back into the fold, you made me feel like I belonged, as if we all never left. Thank you for being so great friends to me and helping me, and us by proxy, truly be ourselves and helping us….

Shine On!!!

Happy New (Church) Year!!

Ok, short post this time, but it means something special….

In the Roman Catholic world, today marks the celebration of Christus Rex, or Christ the King, as such it is the beginning of the New Year in the life of the Holy Church.

That being the case, the Holy Season of Advent is on the way, as soon as next week and, as such, there’ll be a new series coming your way: The Advent Hope, which will touch on the topics of the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day.

I won’t give you, my readers, any spoilers as yet, just know that I’m working on them as I type.

Until then, may your Advent leave you with His Light to help you in your lives so you can…

Shine On!! Happy New Year!!

Throwback Thursday: A Regifting to Drink in, Man!!

Creativity, for me, is less a word, but more of a process, one you can always plan for when it hits you (even when you have to do things on the fly) but creativity is something that really can’t be rushed. It really can’t be rushed along, or as Alton Brown says, “your impatience will be punished.”

Creativity is the flexiblitiy to know that as things change, in life and other things, you can always change to fit the respective situation. But for every gift, people ask me where my creativity comes from, well, let’s just say that for every flame that one sees, there’s always a spark that it can be always traced back into.

I guess that my creative spark can be traced back to my late Grandfather, who was a well known poet in his hometown in Limerick, a bar he used to frequent has his poem, Garryowen, in a place of honor, as it does in my own apartment. Even though he passed away early on in my life, I somehow feel that we’re connected by poetry, done in different ways, but still beautiful all the same, much like the country that he and I call home: Ireland. Guinness aside, Ireland has so much art, culture and history that I’ve only now decided to delve into my family history to see what family traits that I see in my relatives and to take the lessons of the past and transfer them to my present day.

The spark that was handed down to me by my late Grandfather was nurtured throughout my high school years and I was known for my poems, then as now. Though various teachers helped me grow my talent (and for that I’m so grateful), none had such an impact on me than my late friend and mentor, the Late Larry Berk, who was a librarian at the community college I went to after high school. Larry was a true friend, always encouraging me to keep writing. In time, he became someone that I could confide in, especially when you take into consideration that he saw his sons in me, as we all had another connection: autism.

I met so many fellow artists becuase of him: Linocutter Carol Zaloom, performance poet Mik Horowitz and his partner, Gilles Malkine among so many others. I owe no shortage of gratitude to Larry’s influence because the artistic appreciation and the respect that I have currently for librarians is all due to him and his family who believed in me and my ability to always evolve and….

Shine on!!!

Poetry Packed Out: The Battle Within is a Hard Road

I wanted bring this edition of Poetry Packed Out to bring a truth that’s obvious to all of us in our lives: that life is hard, it’s really tough and it can be hard to keep light shining in the dark times we daily deal with.

Recently, I’ve been dealing with a lot of changes, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned on the Super-blog. Financially; socially and everywhere else in between, life is hard, moreso when one is a Spectrumite, where changes are met with discomfort at best and full blown meltdowns at their absolute worst.

The best example of how change affects others, would be the short but profound life of the late Mattie Stepanek, whom, like myself, was a poet and reached out to other people, like Oprah, Larry King with a message of peace. All this he did while dealing with a rare disorder known as Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy (the link for his Foundation is here for more info: http://www.mattieonline.com/)

For now, here’s my message, in the following poem:

 

Light and Dark

-to those who mourn-

I. Darkness

In life’s
bleak stage,
dark world
seems so
shallow;
cold,
uncaring.
The wind
seems to mock,
at each;
every turn
laughing,
as broken heart
brings pain,
one you
feel;
scars sear
deep into your core.

II. Light

St. Mattie’s Light,
small glimmer
full of optimism;
hope
comes
in all colors;
resides in us all.

It’s deepest wish
seeks nothing
wanting only
turn our sorrows;
worries,
doubts
all in its way
to heal
broken hearts.

St. Mattie’s Light,
perpetually
endures all,
gives strengh
to us,
through us
Cruel winds,
makes candle
flicker,
but never
really
fades away.
each day;
joins
hand-in-hand
with others
dancing;
dispelling
darkness
transforming sorrow
into wonderful,
everlasting light.

If someone with a life threading disease can impact so many people with a message of peace, what do you think you can do in your life? There is suffering in life, but there’s also a message in your suffering that you can bring to others. Only then can we truly be better and help others….

Shine On!!

Throwback Thursday: Always A Matter of Trust (again)

Mary Poppins had it right when she said that some promises are like a pie crust: “Easily made and easily broken.” 

 

Such is similar with a simple thing as Trust. Trust is a black and white thing, you either have it or you don’t. 

 

The question that I was struggling with for a long time is what to do when trust is broken? This is the time where family, friends and faith become imperative to survival. It’s normal to panic and want for things to go as you would want them to go, but as I’ve discovered recently, it’s all for naught. 

 

All you can really do is rebuild a different type of trust, self confidence, which means looking in the mirror and taking stock of who you are and what you mean to others. For all my troubles, all my problems, all the things that could put me down, I’ve realized that it all changes when someone calls me an inspiration not only to them but others, there’s no better feeling than to know that you matter. We all matter to each other, and that’s something that we all should see, both in ourselves but others, too.

Shine on!!!

Poetry Packed Out: A Humbling Admission

Lately, I’ve felt that I’ve let myself and my friends down. I’ve had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t as good as I hoped I was becoming. in all honesty, I’ve felt like a failure, mostly stemming from my lack of money management over the years, it was a humbling thing to give control to someone else, especially after feeling that I was doing a good job for a very long time.

Even with the successes I’ve had in my life, this stressful situation and the solution that I made to deal with it, even though it was for the best, has made me feel like I failed, that I’m a failure. It’s been two weeks since I’ve had to make the choice and that feeling hasn’t gone away, it’s especially made me felt worse since I know that I deal with depression.

But then, I thought, why not make a diamente out of this difficulty, it doesn’t make this easier, but at least I can get it out in the open, and that’s where this poem comes from. I want to stress that life isn’t easy and things like this happen, but all you can do is learn and become a better person, such as I’m doing now.  Without further ado, the diamente known as Failure:

 

Failure

 

Failure

Anger, hatred

Others, myself, everyone

Making you second guess; reinforce

Struggles, victories, accomplishments

Confidence, strong

Success.

 

May your struggles lead you all, my readers, to a brighter future, one where we can all…

 

 

Shine On!!

 

Throwback Thursday: Back to the Past

(Writer’s note: It’s still Brian here, I want to thank you all for reading the Super-blog and making it what it is today, but I wanted to share with you, my readers, why I started blogging in the first place.

I was still finding my place and my voice within the Super-blog, so forgive me if this seems simpler than my posts now, but that was where I was. I say was because I’ve grown a lot since then, but in any case, please enjoy this Throwback and, as always…

Shine On!!!)

Greetings!! This is Brian…

When I mentioned to my friends that I’d be starting up this blog, I asked for advice because I honestly didn’t know what to say or what to do. For the first time in my life, the words, “I have nothing to write” came into my mind, creeping into my confidence and causing doubt to come forth. To an aspiring writer, those words can be disabling, moreso when you are me, a published poet that has autism. I like to be an optimist even in the most daunting circumstances.

You might have read that I have autism, and you didn’t misread that. Autism has so many connotations, from the 1988 movie Rain Man to today’s role model in Dr. Temple Grandin, to society, we are either geniuses or we aren’t. Well, to me, autism is a different way of looking at the world in which we live, one made more vibrant because of whom we are.

Autism means inspiration, just hearing parents look at me and say that I’m an inspiration to them at my job as a maintenance person means so much to me. Autism also can mean detail-orientated small things people may overlook or not think important but no one thinks of a small thing being major until it’s too late. Autism can also mean strength because of one Spectrumite can show people the kind qualities they themselves posses, even those not known to themselves.

It’s due to the encouragement and support of my community of friends and family that has been with me for a long time that I’m doing this blog, to share support to others, to be that inspiration to others, to share my expertise to those asking questions.

I’m told by one friend that my openness is my greatest quality. To coin Jim Cramer from Mad Money, “if I can help one person….then I’ve done good” so consider this my hand in friendship and support to all of you because I feel as it together, we can all change the world for the better.

Change: The Inevitable Factor

The one thing I’ve learned in life is that change is the one wild card, the one variable that can turn good days into bad, sometimes in an instant, others are a long time in coming. Change, though, is the one thing about life you can always count on, without fail.

Recently, I’ve been adjusting to a huge change in my life, specifically one that forces me into a tight budget but also is designed to curb my spending habits. For someone as stubborn as I am, this change is a huge wake up call.

I’ve been feeling a mixture of emotions honestly, depression out of feeling like I failed at something, relief that the stress is finally over, anger that I’m in the situation I’m in now and confusion as to where I go from here.

The journey into this unknown “territory” is what Spectrumites struggle with constantly, we’re not fond of sudden changes as we like to prepare for things in advance, gradually move into the change so that the transition is easier for us to accept.

But, as I learned recently, that’s not always the case.

It’s just now been a case of trying to navigate through this new “territory” and try to survive as best as I can, even though I know that this won’t be easy to do, hopefully I have some ideas to get my book Through Autistic Eyes out there which I hope can pan out positively for me.

That said, I know that change isn’t easy and life is already tough to plan for, but just trust your family, those close to you but more than anything else, be sure to trust yourself and ride the storms when they come. Only then can you grow, be a better person in the long run and in the end, as always….

Shine On!!!