#Throwback Thursday: True then and Truer Now…

Whom do you know has a problem with pushing themselves beyond what you think you can handle? Whom do you know wants to give 100% (and sometimes even more?) to whatever they want in life, be it exercising, cooking, reading, watching TV, etc? I’ll be among the first to raise my hand on that, since I’m guilty of being in that situation. I have a tendency to push myself to extremes, just like Billy Joel’s classic song.
To them, including myself, I say to you this simple piece of advice: just relax and be yourself, but I guess I do so partly due to having to compensate for my autism, part of the mask I daily wear. The closest character that I feel a connection to on that front is Toph Bei Fong from Aang: The Last Airbender. Even thought she proves herself as a great Earthbender to Aang, Katara and Sokka, her parents only see her disability as a setback and have her only learning the basics, it feels condescending to her, especially considering what we learn about how she learned what she knows.

In my life, I have a tendency to notice things people might miss, like certain details, certain sounds that people might pass as normal that could lead to problems if not dealt with. I also have a keen eye for details. A trade off of that I know I need to work on time management, which I’m well aware of. That said, I’m willing to work on it and all my faults in order to be a better person in the long time.

It’s the same for all of us, I’m sure we all have things we need to work on; those faults that some might feel are annoying, weird or even odd. We don’t ask for much, though, all we ask is for accommodations for us, empathy for our quirks, compassion and understanding for us who need it in order for us all to grow, thrive and….

 
Shine On!!

So Humble It Hurts Sometimes

One of the things that I notice about myself is that I don’t give myself half the credit as I should.

Maybe that’s me being humble, but it often descends into low self esteem, low self confidence, making others feel better at the expense of my self worth. This isn’t a recent problem for me, as it goes back to my childhood, I always deferred to other’s opinions, rarely speaking up especially when I felt that I should. Looking back on it, I felt that it was the right thing to do, since I’m not really good at confrontations, much like George McFly in Back to the Future: Part 1 and I see a person who feels the need to apologize even when he doesn’t really have to.

No doubt about it, I do have a great support system, full of people who look at myself as an equal, I have friends and family that call me an inspiration. That said, there’s a big difference between feeling that you matter and knowing that you matter and sometimes, it’s hard to know which is which, especially when you’ve felt that you’re not good enough, so much so that it becomes a part of whom you are.

To that end, I’ve decided to try to change my self esteem game and write down five things that I think are good about myself. By writing down these five truths about myself, I can feel like I can take a good hard look at myself and know that I’m important enough to be strong in whom I am. The five Truths I’ve written down are as follows, with my breakdown of them:

1.I am smart: I realize that I graduated from high school and my community college with less than stellar marks, but I also know that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s honestly a lot more than most can say.

2.I am kind: I feel like I can be too kind for my own good, but I also realize that we need to be good and merciful to others, we need to show mercy to others; be kind to others and think of others before ourselves.

3.I am loyal: I see this is researching my name, since it means high or noble in Irish. I like to feel like that my friends can rely on me to back them if and when they ever need it. I can be fierce in my loyality to my friends to the point of being blinded by it, but I would rather be loyal than not.

4.I am strong: My friend says that their family “Doesn’t support those that aren’t strong themselves” and I’m beginning to see this in me as well. I can’t promise that I won’t break at times or may need support in times of need, but I can say that it takes a lot to bring me down.

5.I am creative: Those that really know me know that this goes without saying, I can see things from outside the box, looking to new ways of accomplishing goals that others might miss, or I tend to pick up on things that others overlook.

I should reiterate that there’s nothing wrong with being humble, but we shouldn’t sell ourselves short and make ourselves feel that we don’t matter. The truth of the matter is that we do matter, our voices matter, our lives matter, our struggles matter and that we are loved and treasured as the great people we are, flaws and strengths combined.

So, be strong.

Be brave.

Know your worth.

And, as always….

Shine On!!

The Advent Hope: Strength in Patience

The following clip features the classic Muppet’s song, fittingly sung by Kermit the Frog, called Its Not Easy Being Green, and I felt that it speaks to all of us, it’s not easy being human, period, but that doesn’t mean that we’re bad because of it; rather that we can show who we are deep inside. We can show our character, how tall we are, how small we are, how weak we feel we are, or how strong we are.

Of all of the human experience, I think (speaking from experience) that being strong isn’t easy at all either. It can be especially true when you’re in what seems to be a losing battle. It feels like you’re fighting the world alone with no end in sight, it’s easy to get discouraged, to get tired; to lose your faith in times like this.

Even in life, it seems so hard, look at the news alone and you’ll immediately see what I mean, with murders, impeachment hearings, Wall Street and political news (don’t get me started, I’m not a political person) dominating the majority of what we see.

Strength doesn’t mean physical strength, strength doesn’t always mean being right and it certainly doesn’t mean that you always get your way. Strength doesn’t mean that you are a bully, and it certainly doesn’t mean that might is always right. 

Strength is so much more..and the reality is that we don’t really know how strong we are until it’s all we have, it’s something I’ve learned recently. Strength can’t set the world on fire, though, unless there’s a spark to ignite it.

So, be the strong person, forgive others, listen to others’ lives. 

 

Autistic and Proud!!

The late comic Robin Williams told his students in Dead Poets Society that “words and ideas can change the world” if only they were true to themselves, to the people they are, with their strengths, flaws and dreams. It couldn’t be any truer than the recent news that Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish climate advocate, is TIME’s Person of the Year. 

It also helps and empowers me (and I feel all Spectrumites) that Greta is a fellow Spectrumite, so this is a big deal for our tribe. I know that I’ve always tried to change the world in my daily life in some small way, but I don’t think I could’ve ever thought of doing the Super-blog without the support and encouragement of my friends and family, so for that, I wish to thank you all for all you’ve done for me.

That said, I know that other Spectrumites aren’t so lucky, so I ask all of my readers to consider the low self esteem that we might have from rejection, being left out, feeling that we don’t belong, that what we do isn’t right, that we need to conform to other’s ideals. It’s a rotten feeling, honestly, to know that you aren’t good enough as you are, making addictions to “inspiration porn” a high that we feel that we need. Now, imagine the kind of support one needs to have to become Person of the Year, it needs to defy those odds, and it does in Greta’s case, as the article from TIME itself (the link is here: https://time.com/person-of-the-year-2019-greta-thunberg-choice/) states that:

Thunberg stands on the shoulders—and at the side—of hundreds of thousands of others who’ve been blockading the streets and settling the science, many of them since before she was born.

The support for her and her cause grows with the following statement:

Over the course of little more than a year, a 16-year-old from Stockholm went from a solitary protest on the cobblestones outside her country’s Parliament to leading a worldwide youth movement; from a schoolkid conjugating verbs in French class to meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and receiving audiences with Presidents and the Pope; from a solo demonstrator with a hand-painted slogan (Skolstrejk för Klimatet) to inspiring millions of people across more than 150 countries to take to the streets on behalf of the planet we share.

Of course, I’ve also heard the detractors, those even in the Spectrumite Tribe, telling me how much they wished their lives were different, as Ian Burrell’s opinion article “Greta Thunberg teaches us about autism as much as climate change”, (the link is here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/23/greta-thunberg-autism) explains their fears as such:

For we live in a society that, far from respecting difference, often seems to fear or ignore those that stand apart from the crowd. Look at how people with autism and learning disabilities are routinely abused, bullied, excluded from school, swept aside in the jobs market and shunted into the worst housing in the toughest parts of town.

What “Cure-bies” (those wanting a cure) don’t realize that whom they are is actually a good wonderful thing, it means that we see the world differently and that can do wonders for our world. Later, Burrell points out that Greta says as much in an interview in the same article, saying that:

“Being different is a gift,”  “It makes me see things from outside the box. I don’t easily fall for lies, I can see through things. If I would’ve been like everyone else, I wouldn’t have started this school strike for instance.”

In her article, How Greta Thunberg’s autism helped her become Time’s Person of the Year, (the link is here: https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/468091-opinion-activist-greta-thunbergs-autism-doesnt-hold-her-back) Sam Farmer, a fellow Spectrumite, shows how autism can be thought as a good thing to have because, as he states:

Like Greta, I, too, am an Aspie who often hyperfocuses, obsessively, on what matters most to me, and with solid results. I could not have become proficient at the piano had I not locked myself in practice rooms for hours at a time over many years while studying at music camps and schools. I could have given up early on my almost lifelong struggle at building self-esteem.

Later on in the article, he explains further the brighter light on the Spectrum:

Greta’s successes, when considered within the context of her Asperger’s profile, shed light on the importance of accepting neurodiversity as a significant and meaningful aspect of our social fabric. We acknowledge diversity with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, skin color and political affiliation, among others.

You see, there are just as many bad things about autism as there are good things, quirks that should be celebrated, not shunned. Things that we see that should be explained, not shut off. Opinions that we have are ones that should be respected, but never silenced. So, we should celebrate our victories as much as discuss our problems with others who get us. The choice is ours to make, but I want to encourage you, dear reader, to celebrate your gifts, what makes you different and find your tribe; your family. Only then can you finally belong and, as you evolve, finally….

 

Shine On!!! Congrats, Greta!!!!

#Throwback Thursday: Words: A Reoccurring Conundrum

Words can be confusing!!

That’s no contradiction, words can used to build bridges and be harmful, they can be used to share information and rumors alike (especially in the political world, but enough about that.) One apt example can be seen in the first Home Alone movie and the character of Old Man Marly, an old man who looks scary but you later find out that the rumors aren’t true.

That is not me being a contradiction, but consider how words are used in our everyday life, we use words that may have been lost in translation and later on, we wonder the context behind them. The late comic genius George Carlin made fun on these topics frequently on his stand up specials and those concepts are still funny today as they were then, perhaps they are funny since they have some truth to them….

Now, imagine being me, a Spectrumite who can have trouble, not so much with words, but with social cues. Street names and route number are good, but without visual clues to help, I feel lost especially in the big cities. The point is that I think in pictures, like my Autistic Hero, Dr. Temple Grandin, and when words come into play, I sometimes feel bad when things are lost in translation.

To help my cause socially improve, when I meet new people, I like to heed the words of Dr. Grandin, and observe nuerotypicals in their natural habitat, then there are times when observing recalled that I couldn’t just observe, but needed to be an active participant. Being a bartender’s son made particpation a requirement for me to try to talk to others, which has made it easier with practice and more forgiving audiences, those who knew me from my family. The community that I live in has helped me more and more each day but still the problem exists, mild as it can be at times.

That said, though, I know that my struggle with words and tones people use is nothing like the misunderstandings that Spectrumites like me have dealt with and continue to deal with to this day, but with support, understanding and encouragement, we can overcome our shortcomings and stand alongside out brothers and sisters, together finding a way to….

Shine on!!!

From Minor to Major: Misspelling Mishaps

In all honesty, not a lot of things bug me in life, even though I readily admit that I’m an emotional person by nature. As my friends will attest to, I’ll proudly stand by them in times of distress because I know they’d do the same for me.

One thing that really gets me is people who misspell things, even if it’s a small thing, it really bugs me. Effort helps, but when I know things are misspelled, it makes me ask the person who misspelled the word what they were thinking. I don’t tell others my concerns since that’s my usual thing to do, but there are words that are so simple to know how to spell that to misspell that word is annoying to me, to be frank about it.

And that’s just the misspelled words, my annoyance also goes to those who use contractions and think that they are one word (to be clear: all contractions are two words!!) It’s like every word is written for speed rather than accuracy and, for someone who like an attention to detail, it annoys me so much.

I can’t help being annoyed by things like this, but I admit that it’s one of my many quirks, which as a Spectrumite, can be annoying if I see too many of them, it’s overwhelming at times and I go into overload.

Perhaps it’s a case of me bordering on being a perfectionist but this has been bothering me for a while and I feel great to get it out to you, my readers, since I feel that you accept me for the person I am, even with my flaws and quirks.

For this understanding, I thank you but also want to challenge you to be a friend to someone you think can be difficult to deal with. Only by understanding and accepting people for whom they are can we make the world a better place and really help each other….

Shine On!!!

The Advent Hope: Changing Tunes, Changing Lives!

How many of my readers have heard of the 1990 classic movie Home Alone?

Not only is the movie fitting for this time of year, but there was another bit of the story that has only hit me just recently, mostly because it involves repentance, or rather a change of heart. To set the scene, one of the characters was a elderly man named Old Man Marley, who at first was feared around the neighborhood was found out to be a kind man, one who also had an estranged son, which meant that he could only see his granddaughter in choir practice.

Long story short, but after some advice from the main character, the scene changes to one of heartwarming resolution, as the family who was once estranged, reunites.

For a more personal story, as a rule, I never, ever give up on someone that I feel is an important person. A person, whom I won’t name to respect privacy, didn’t talk to me for over a decade after being close for a long time and I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy to trust that person, and whom would? I was crushed by the person’s desire to sever ties with me, and it created a lot of bad feelings toward this person and my family, making me feel like I was caught in the middle.

Recently, we finally spoke to each other, only saying “Hi” to each other at first, but it was progress. As we both took baby steps, it became easy to open up those conversations. Little by little, we were able to open up to each other and relate to the other’s problems and concerns, but it was refreshing compared to feeling as your on the outside looking in.

It took several years to finally admit it, but we were able to come to a place where we could call ourselves friends, healing with both time and communication. I consider this person one of my best friends, one of a few who I feel really get me.

What if there’s something that you want to change in your life? What about those people that you want to reconcile (or reconnect) with, if not for yourself, but then to have a clean slate? It speaks so much when enemies become friends, it happened in the aftermath of the Civil War, the Cold War, so what makes today, this day, any different? What’s holding you back from being the bigger person against someone who has wronged you in the past? Just reach out to the person, try to communicate your feelings, your thoughts to the person and let things play out as they will?

Things may play out as well as Old Man Marley, or they may not, but at least you can rest easy knowing that your black cloud is dissapating, blue skies will come no matter what, what matters is how you handle it and how you show others the way to….

 

Shine On!!!

 

 

#Throwback Thursday: A post, a poem of Thanks!!

I’m thankful for God, for always being there for me.

I’m thankful for my friends, who see more than I can see,

Of I am and who they know that I can be,

I’m thankful for them and also I’m thankful for family.

I’m thankful for the blessings that I’ve have in my life.

I’m also thankful for the times where I have seen strife.

I’m thankful for my mentors, to those that can teach

Knowing that, from deep inside, they’re never out of reach.

I know that may sound nothing short of vague

But, what I want what I’m sharing to spread like a plague

Thank you all so much for the support I lean upon

So, please share this to all you know to help us all shine on!!!

Danger!! High Voltage!!

Masking, especially in social situations, is very hazardous to Spectrumites, because it forces us to cover up the person we are deep inside us, tells us to conform to what others want from us, belittles our voices and opinions in order to follow the crowd.

The best way to describe our “masks” could be best described as being in theatre, you’re “on stage” all the time, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Your dialogue for your day has been fine tuned like a Grand piano, polished so as if to blend in with your environment. It’s like there are two people inside one person, the one we are on the outside, while our true self lies in the shadows, that one is a person only those who “know” you get to see. Parents of Spectrumites, Spectrumites themselves or disabled people are just a few of the people who know your secret, much like He-Man and She-Ra or other superheroes.

The problem with being “on stage” is that we need time to be ourselves, to be the person we are, and if nothing else, to get down time for us to recharge. The thing with decompressing, letting the social “boa constrictor” relax its grip on us is that we need to get free. We all have short term solutions, but unless we get free of it, there’s no real way to help us recharge.

If we’re not able to have time to decompress then it get into “meltdown” mode. At that point, we can be like a tornado that appears from out if no where, a snowstorm one can’t prepare for, (fitting for today, as Ezekiel slams at us) or an unexpected outage. It’s something you simply can’t prepare for, random as it can be unpredictable.

So, the best way for us not to get that point is to give us Spectrumites breaks when we need them, be understanding to us, our problems and our concerns. Getting information from the person or other sources can help, but just communication and understanding can work wonders for us. Only by being ourselves, by helping us understand your world, one we both share, can we thrive and show everyone what we’re made of and help us all…

Shine On!!!