#Throwback Thursday: Poetry Packed Out: Learning to Forgive and Forget (Again)

How many of us, Spectrumites and otherwise, have been mistreated so much that forgiving seems to be a hard (impossible?) thing to do, especially for things that were really out of our control?

All I can say is that it does happen but I try to show mercy by forgiving the person, in the model of St. Faustina, I’ve been recently reading her Diary (Divine Mercy in My Soul, for those interested) and the common theme of the Diary, in her life, was that no matter what she suffered, she always was merciful to others and to God.

It was in that spirit that I composed “Mercy“, a poem that shows us that giving mercy, while not always the easiest choice, can be the most settling, one where both feel as if both have a clean conscience. I share this poem in the hopes that we might be merciful to others as we are to ourselves, so without further ado:

Mercy

-Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

St. Matthew 5:7

I.

It is easy-

too easy

blaming others,

make them suffer

for mistakes,

no reason why

‘just because’,

their simple reply.

The hallways

echo the silent refrain,

“Conform is the norm.”

II.

A

child

sits alone

at a table

left with only

their thoughts,

imperfections,

humiliations,

as friends.

A stranger

new to the area

asks to sit near him

they chat for a while-

he finds out her name is Mary-

she related to her new friend’s

troubles;

she’s been there before

says something profound

to comfort him.

“To show mercy,

to forgive those who have

wronged you;

to worry;

care for those

who couldn’t care less,

more precious than gold.”

In short,

to forgive

both them

and yourself;

to show mercy

simply said

is divine.”

Give thanks always, be merciful as much as you can and never let things cause you to not…

Shine on!!!

Letters For Lent 2020: Ash Wednesday!! (Repost)

(Writer’s note: Please note that this post was written on Monday, February 18, 2019, before I practiced my Lenten observance, one of which is being absent on social media, but the message remains relevant)

Well, the time of repentance and self denial is finally here, it’s the Lenten Season in the Roman Catholic community. I’ve been planning this for a while now and I think I have a plan to share the Lenten message with all of my readers.

Each week during Lent, I’m going to focus on the themes of Lent, pinpointing on the questions that drive us on this journey and specifically, why these things are important to us all.

To all of my friends that may see people with ashes on their heads, I ask you not to tease them, for they are showing their humility outwardly, suffering on the inside by denying themselves what they consider routine any other time, they may be struggling to keep their resolutions, as I am today.

The struggle is real, but the good thing of the struggle and sacrifice is that there is hope and that hope comes from our faith in God. For all the ridicule, for all the bad times in our lives, for all the times where things don’t go the way we hope it will, our faith can help us deal with it and light our way. Even in our darkest times, always know that hope shines brightest in the darkest times.

I know it was the case for me, when my parents went through a divorce, when I lost my late mentor Larry (whom I’ve mentioned I’m the Superblog) and when opportunities seemed bleak for me, my friends drew me to know God and be close to my faith and made me realize that my life means something.

That, in a nutshell, is what Lent is all about, taking stock of what you have in your life and what we need to work on, realizing where you need to get rid of in your life and what to improve on. So, this Lent, don’t let yourself get discouraged and let your faith and your life…

Shine On!!

Derailing the Self-Hate Train

I was going to write a short post, commenting on the fact that Ash Wednesday, and thus Lent, will be starting up tomorrow (the first Letters For Lent of 2020 will be up tomorrow, so I hope you, my readers, enjoy both that and this year’s series) but I read something that I just needed to comment on.

Not so much comment on, but rather a confession: I’ve been dealing with a lot of self-hate. Here’s the link where I got the inspiration: https://www.wikihow.com/Accept-Your-Autism

We’ve all had those experiences, right? That nagging feeling that the things that we do just aren’t enough, who we are won’t be good enough. I can say personally that, even with all the positive support that I have in my community, it’s hard for me to see me as others see me simply because being autistic in a neurotypical world can be outright exhausting.

Dealing with it for so long can be harmful to us, simply because of the self-hate we deal with, mostly due to the fact that we mask our true selves in order to fit in. I think of it as being a real life superhero, we hide who we are to those in public, but those who know us know the real us, the person behind the mask.

One of the things I plan to do for Lent is something I’ve never really done before: give myself a break, be kind to myself. Giving up social media and soda are things that I’ve done before (and, by the way, I plan to do those again) but I think that giving myself a break and being kind to myself may be a game changer this Lent, maybe doing a short self afirmations either here or in my personal space.

But this is something that I want to do, something I need to do, for myself if nothing else; I can only hope that others will see this and learn from my example this Lent.

Please wish me luck and, as always…

 

Shine On!!!

#Throwback Thursday: Still a gift!!

As we’re coming into August, there’s always been a local event that I make a point to make time and see in support of those like myself. You see, you may have guessed that I’m a poet, which is a part of the written (and spoken) arts. For as long as I an remember, I’ve always thought of myself as creative, but it wasn’t until the death of my paternal grandfather that I read his poems for the first time and he was a very good writer and someone I wish I knew sooner before his passing.

Then again, I guess, looking back, that I do know him from my own work.

I started writing poetry in high school, around 1998; got published into the school paper and was regarded by my schoolmates as a gifted and creative person and I wanted to think that publishing my poetry would be the next step. But I see now that I was foolish, not in my passion, but I know that I had a long way to go, a lot to learn before going that route.

That’s where my friend, Larry, comes into play, after graduating high school, my parents knew that college was the next logical step, one that my brothers went into, so it seemed only right for me to follow in thier footsteps and I’m glad that I did because I got to see more than I would’ve otherwise, it made me open up to a new world, new experiences and a new way to see it. Larry, more than anyone, was a friendly face in a new setting that was (I admit) very intimidating. In him, I saw a fellow poet, someone I could learn from and he from me after I disclosed to him about my having autism, I guess he looked at me as a kindred spirit as his sons were on the Spectrum as well and perhaps he saw something in me he wanted for them in the future.

From that seed he planted in me came a lifelong appreciation for the arts in general as well as a respect and admiration for librarians.  Some of the people he knew and worked with are also great friends of mine as they welcomed me into thier family, a touching sentiment was when they wrote supprtive messages on a whiteboard near the window of the Library acriss from where the graduating ceremony I was in several years later on would be. I always felt that it was a fitting sendoff for them to give me, as one of thier family and I’ll hold and cherish that memory for the rest of my life.

From that time on until his passing from ALS, Larry made it a point of inviting me to see different aspects of the arts, but due to transportation issues I had at the time, always left the invite open, if I could, great, if not, then that was ok as well. He even introdruced to me great artists from the area that I consider gems in the community: Carol Zaloom, Mik Horowitz, Gilles Malkine to name only a few, many of whom will be featured later this month at the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour, which I highly recommend all my readers to see at http://saugertiesarttour.org/. It really is something to see, something different but also refreshing at the same time. But isn’t that the way art always is, right? Without art, without life, without that spark of creativity, I (and all of us) wouldn’t light our darkness and might not find a way to…

Shine on!!!

 

Don’t be Afraid to Break

Over the last two weeks, I’ve had to think about something my therapist felt that I was, she told me that she believed that I have narcissistic tendencies, all stemming from my ability to mask who I really am, am autistic person who just happens to have it all together.

Or, so it would seem. I never meant for it to turn up as it did, but still the fact that I couldn’t shake what she said really bugged me, then as now.

The thing is, after doing a lot of soul searching and talking with people who know me, I newer really let myself feel like what I was doing was ever good enough. I always felt that, no matter how good I was, no matter how great the accomplishments were (and still are), I never felt that it was good enough. From my cousins, my family or my friends, I always felt that what I did, or whom I was, was never good enough. I’m sure that most Spectrumites feel the same way, that nuerotypicals rule the world and we just live in it, or more like conform to their world. It feels like a bad dream that you just can’t shake off.

But in my case, I have to say that’s all on me.

I just shrugged it off, I didn’t think it was too big of a deal, that it was just something I could deal with on my own, even as it caused my mask to rent more space inside myself.

It’s so easy to lash out at those who try to help, since they aren’t in your shoes. Believe me, I’ve done it many times, especially to those including my therapist who were trying to help.

That said, though, these setbacks can be difficult discouraging, so I’m not going to say that you should be strong since I know firsthand how challenging it will be. So I’m going to say that sometimes, it’s quite all right for your mask you break, to have it crack a little.

All that matters in the long run, though, is how you can make it work to your advantage and learn from it in the long run. I won’t say that it’ll be easy (it hasn’t been easy for me) but all you can do is hope know that the discomfort is temporary.

So, know you’re not alone and know that it’s all right for you to crack once in a while, because only then can you learn and be a better person, one who’s willing to adapt and help others…

Shine On!!!

#Throwback Thursday: Another introduction!!

(Writers note: This #Throwback Thursday blog post was written before I came up with the “Shine On” Ending that I’m known for, at this point, I was still finding my voice of the SuperBlog.

I’m honestly still finding it all out myself. It helps that I’ve gotten all of you as my readers and friends. So I want to thank you for your support, then and now.

I hope you know that this message still stands and I hope I’m doing my best to help you all find some hope and, as always….

Shine On!! Enjoy!!)

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.

Humility: The Great Equalizer!

As I watch The President of The United States have a conference regarding his Impeachment acquittal, I’m reminded once again about how much power can corrupt anyone and everyone.

It’s probably the reason why I don’t talk about politics much, because it’s a pit full of vipers. That said, it is a necessary evil to deal with, especially now in everyday life.

But it’s also reminded me what’s needed in our society in general: the virtue of humility. Being proud of one’s accomplishments is one thing, but there’s something cleansing about having humility. It makes things seem more genuine, both the good as well as the bad. It makes power seem like a blessing because it will be used wisely, used to help others, not just a select few.

I’ve been told by my local self advocacy group that I’d be a great President, especially since I’ve already proven to be a leader. That said, I am very well aware of what can happen if power goes to one’s head, proven by the example of Mr. Pumpkin Head (fans of Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle I’m sure will get that reference!)

As for myself, I like to lead by example, don’t tell others what they did wrong, show them, but be open to others opinions. Communication is critical in this case, as frustrations could boil over if not explained. Better for things to be explained as they come, as it could distract from action, real action.

I’m very sorry to have turned this into a political post (especially since I’m not well versed in politics, personally) but this was something that I felt needed to be said, it also highlights the subject of humility.

Notice how I puffed myself up and talking about my leadership style; realize that as much as it can happen to those in power, it can easily happen to any of us, unless we stay humble.

I’m reminded of Star Trek character Zefram Cochrane’s quote in Star Trek: First Contact:

Don’t try to be a great man. Just be a man, and let history make its own judgements.

Wise words for us all, I feel, especially when it comes to humility, as your personality and your values tend to shine more than your accomplishments. It’s hard to do, but know that it can be done, as people like St. Teresa of Calcutta, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and St. John Paul II have proven over the years. Only then can we make ourselves great, really succeed and help others to…

Shine On!!

#Throwback Thursday: A Tribute to a Great Friend!!!

Eleven years have gone since you left us and life has never been the same without you…

To say that I miss you, my friend, would be a huge understatement.

But there is hope, even in sorrow and grief, but maybe I’m getting ahead of myself…

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the passing of my dear friend, the Late Larry Berk and in his life, he was called impresario, dynamic and someone who had great foresight, many times doing what was right for the Library, not what was popular.

For me, he was all that and more, but for someone on the Spectrum, he was kind, caring, compassionate and he was a dear friend, one who always believed that community college grads had as much of a shot of making it as the Ivy Leaguers.

Perhaps, though, I should start at the beginning…

Years ago, when I was just starting my college life, the social scene was a mystery to me, new people and places made it hard for me to make friends and find where I belonged. All that changed, however, when I saw something on the bulletin board letting people know that there was going to be a poetry club starting up and to go to the Library for more details. I thought that if I was going to make friends, that was as good a place as any to start.

That’s where I met Larry…

He was sitting inside his office, at first glance he was kind and welcoming; yet here I was, shy, modest and almost walking on eggshells, worried I’d make a bad impression on him. I introduced myself and sheepishly showed him my work and as time went on, I disclosed my autism to him, and to my surprise, he was happy for me, since he had two sons who, like me, are on the Spectrum, he saw them in me and saw what they could become. In time, he introduced me to his family and friends (both those who worked with him and some personal), reintroduced me to Dr. Temple Grandin and instilled in me hope and optimism about my poetry, which were crucial in a time where people thought my publishing my work was considered a pipe dream.

Most importantly, he helped me develop an appreciation for the arts, from paintings to dance, to both the written and spoken word, whatever appreciation I have to this day about the arts are all thanks to him. It makes what happened next so sad for me to write. Sometime later, he was involved in an accident with a driver and shortly thereafter, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I remember the day I met him in the hospital for the last time, how I’d written a poem for him and how I couldn’t help but cry as I recited it, though he couldn’t hear me.

Eleven years ago, at the Library he had worked at, his secretary told me the sad and tragic end for my friend. More than anything else, I remember how numb emotionally I was, how I cried because of it for several weeks after that. In time, I wanted to give back to my community, to pay it forward, as a friend who knew Larry phrased it, for all he had done for me, helping others like me learn to read. I figured that doing at least that would be a way to show others that you can do anything you put your mind to. I can only hope that I’m making him proud of me in a small way.

This is just a post to say thank you so much, Larry, for what you did for me, believing in me and by doing that, helping me help others to always…

Shine on!!!

Switch: Triggered!!

Well, it’s that month again!!

February 1st, the start of a month where, granted, good things happen to people, but it just serves as a reminder to people like me what’s missing in their lives: romance, having a companion, knowing that love is there.

I’ve gotten better, slowly but surely, about being good to myself and loving myself for whom I am, yet the trigger is still there and it’s hard to ignore. I know that love does exist, but it seems like a long time ago and the pain of having that feeling seemingly ripped away without notice just makes it harder for me to deal with.

My friend, fellow Spectrumite and author, Jesse Saperstein, is a firm believer in not letting go, but instead employs incremental backing off, as a way to not seem so weird from blasts from the past where misunderstandings can fester into unhealed wounds. In all honesty, I’m inclined to believe him on that, since life can work in really weird ways.

I have been implementing his backing off strategy and it has worked wonders for me, but I know that the trigger is there. For those who deal with their own triggers, just know that you’re not alone; that your voice, your feelings and your concerns matter, for you and your others.

Just know that, as hard as those triggers may be, that support and love is there for you if you need it. May you take the help when it becomes available, because by understanding, by talking about it, can we be better and ultimately…

Shine On!!!