War Changes You, For Better (or Worse)

There’s no denying it, that this coronavirus chaos has been hell to deal with, what with the constant changes that we all have had to deal with. Sports leagues cancelling or postponing games and seasons. Professional wrestling being forced to change what they do for us, to entertain us, all with no audience to feed off of.

While safety of us all is paramount at this stage of the game, there are two ways to look at this: we can help us be bitter, or it can help us to become better.

One road requires us to blow up at things that don’t go the way we want (which I’ve been known to do in stressful situations.) The other road requires us to have patience, even when that patience is slowing draining us. The road that one chooses shows the content of that person’s character.

To quote Neo from the critically acclaimed sci-do movie The Matrix, “Where we go from there, is a choice I leave to you.”

So I ask you all, Dear Readers, where do we go from here? What choices can we make to be better than what we were before? This is really the moment of truth for all of us.

So we should be better, we need to be better for ourselves if nothing else. So let’s be better, let’s know better and, as always, let’s…

Shine On!!!

The Fourth Be With You!

This was meant for May 4, 2020, but as you can tell, dear readers, that’s wasn’t possible, but know that I was working on this before then…

“And with your spirit.” Just some Roman Catholic humor.

Now, to the topic at hand.

In these unprecedented and chaotic times, it’s tough to think of yourself as powerless, weak or selfish when you think only of yourself instead of others. I know that feeling, because I’ve been there before many times in my life, I’m honestly dealing with so much depressive thoughts currently, like thoughts of inadequacy, worthlessness, and despair.

More than likely, it comes from the isolation that comes from the Coronavirus chaos that we’ve all been dealing with. It feels so strange, doesn’t it? To know that we’re united and yet feel so disconnected is a weird feeling.

That being said, it’s also a good thing to have a little quiet time. It gives us all pause to be creative, to slow down and to focus on what is important in our lives. It can also be a bad thing, as it forces us to deal with whatever demons we have in our lives.

We should take solace in the fact that we’re not alone, yet it feels disarming to be alone. That said, I should reiterate my refrain from past posts: We are not alone! I feel the need, the desire, to repeat that because I’m not a fan of the alternative. I believe in my faith, the faith of our resolve, our faith in each other and the fact that we can use our collective “force” to change our world for the better.

So, let’s be cautious, but let’s be hopeful, let’s be optimistic and let’s help others….

Shine On!!!

Throwback Thursday: Remembering A Milestone

Today, dear readers, marks a day filled with questions and hopes for me, because tomorrow marks my 10 year College Graduation from a great school, SUNY Ulster. It was a day that I hold near and dear in my heart.

But perhaps, I’m getting ahead of myself.

When I first cane to SUNY Ulster, the experience was a friendly one, if a bit lonely for someone on the Spectrum. Changes were commonplace in a setting where routine was best, friends came and went, but there were no real people I could connect with. At the time, I really didn’t know what my plans were, I had my dream to become a writer, a well known poet, an inspiration to fellow Spectrumites, but I honestly had no set plan for me other than those.

That all changed when my late friend and mentor Larry entered my life, I felt like my poetry could improve with his guidance and he understood my concerns, having two sons on the Spectrum himself. He was well known as well, not just in the library community but also in the arts community. He made the arts feel more alive, like I could see arts from various parts of the world, hear accomplished writers, learn about the music of the works, all within SUNY Ulster’s Campus. To say he was a game changer would be an understatement, he made me feel like my aspirations weren’t just a dream.

He also was friends with another departed teacher, one who made Philosophy and Logic fun and relatable at the same time. The late Tom Davis was a teacher that was always optimistic, funny, topical but insightful in his own way, he always made learning humorous and as such, he was beloved by both students and teachers alike.

It was why Larry’s death in 2006 due to ALS (as well as Tom Davis’ passing a year later) hit me so hard. I felt they left me their legacy, one I wanted to share with those in my community in my own way. When he passed away, the Library where he worked adopted me into their family and it’s something I never want to lose or take for granted.

My Graduation is something that I’m very proud of; the memories of that day still keeping me going after 10 years, the ceremony, the party (and the encouragement of seeing my Library Family taking the time to support me in this new chapter in my life definitely helped, as it still does now.)

That said, my Graduation gave me questions that made me wonder if it was all worth it? I’m sure this happens to everyone who graduates College or anywhere for that matter: it’s the Super Bowl Question: You’ve graduates from college, what are you going to do next?

Upon reflection of these past 10 years, I can say that I’m happy for the choices I made, I’m happy of the person I became because of Larry (God Rest His Soul) because his example drives me to do better; to be a better person. My college experience and the things I learned gave me a different perspective, a deeper knowledge which I try to pass on to my fellow friends in the Agency. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a balance, but it does help to bridge what can be done and what does get done, a stark contrast from what opportunities people with disabilities had fifty to sixty years ago, where degrees were only a dream.

The bridges I’ve built to help others like me, the evolution I’ve made in these 10 years were worth it, sacrifices I’ve made, the harsh lessons I’ve learned were all worth the payoff that I share with others. I know that by doing so, I can help others achieve what they want to and let their dreams…

Shine On!!

Poetry Packed Out: How Isolation Can Help Us

One positive thing that is coming out of the coronavirus chaos, among other things, is that I’m able to think about working on new poetic forms. I feel like being challenged in tough times can bring out the absolute best out of us and make us all stronger as a result of anything, including this coronavirus chaos.

The basis for this edition of Poetry Packed Out was because of a such a challenge. I was challenged to write a triolet by a jack of all trades, especially from a fellow poet, Mikhail Horowitz. I thought about it for a while, until inspiration hit me because of a poem I was working on, I just needed to rework it into a triolet and, in all honesty, it was a wonderful attempt, one that I might keep on doing post-COVID-19.

I only hope that you, my readers, will agree as I present the following triolet:

Isolation

 

Isolation cripples even the strong

As endgame; light seems so bleak

Minutes bleed to weeks, most of them long

Invisible water to break the strong.

 

Yet, creativity makes us easy to tweak

Rebuilding brick by brick, working all along

To reclaim treasures buried, for right or wrong

Knowing we were always strong; never weak.

 

Let this triolet be a reminder that we can rebuild our lives, that we can be better than we were before and that better days are coming, especially since things could be worse, right?

So, stay strong and, as always….

Shine On!!!

The Larson Effect: The Big Bucks Tribute

Yesterday, thirty-six years ago, an out of work ice cream truck salesman, who was very intelligent, very calculating, yet very greedy for money and power, came along to a 1980s game show. That game show was Press Your Luck, the person in question was the late Michael Larson, and his actions, as the above video shows, literally changed the game and affected the game show world.

As a young man, growing up in the 1980s, I only heard of his exploits from others who have and I only appreciate his legacy in hindsight. So, please enjoy Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal, which I found on Vimeo.com and, as always….

Shine On! With No Whammies, of course!

Throwback Thursday: A Poetic Beacon of Hope and Light!

Throughout my life, I’ve come across some great people, ones that enriches my life, believed; supported me, helped me learn things I wouldn’t know otherwise and someone I know that I can talk to and know that they hear and understand me. An elementary school teacher (and wonderful friend) Joe Defino Jr. has done all that and then some, not just to me but to the community that he serves, all with his heart and creativity.

At the time I first met him, I was going through my own perfect storm, my parents were going through a divorce, settling into a new school and puberty, all within one period in my life where I felt alone and unsure. Then, a relatively new teacher came into my life and made me realize that all the things I was feeling at the time were totally nuerotypical for anyone, Spectrumite or not and offered me a light, a beacon of hope and most importantly, his friendship, all while not asking for anything else in return. It’s something that I hold most dear to me and I’ll always thank him (and by extension, his whole family) for that.

Ever since, he’s been a go-to for me if I need a shoulder to cry on, someone to bounce ideas off of or just for support, he’s been there for me more times than I can count. He not only supports me but also does so for the entire community, as is evident in his most recent endeavor, Hope Rocks, a festival of hope and support that we need now more than ever with the epidemic of young people committing suicide and dying from drug overdoses. Throughout his teaching carrer, he’s been to 9 funerals, just in the past 3 years alone, over 27 in all that time! In a time where the world would want us to be callous, indifferent and uncaring, Joe is sharing his light to show to others what is evident to me, that hope is there for the asking, hope is present, hope shines and quite frankly, hope rocks!!

So, not only is this a blog post to highlight Joe as a person, but this is also me adding my voice to his, letting people know that it only takes one person to make a difference in lives so if you ever feel like you’re down and out, depressed, or even suicidal, DO NOT HESISTATE TO LET PEOPLE KNOW!! I can’t stress this enough and if you need any more prodding, come on down to Cantine Field in Saugerties on August 17-19 and I can bet you’ll find support, you’ll find kindness and perhaps you’ll find the answers you’re looking for. I close this blog post with a poem I wrote for Joe and for his mission to spread hope and compassion to those he meets:

Hope

By Brian Liston

For Joe Defino Jr, a true friend and beacon of hope-

Hope
Speaks, feels
In our tears, darkness, fears
That we are not alone to share our
Collective light.

Until next time, don’t forget to…

Shine on!!

Poetry Packed Out: A Light From Darkness

This is a short post, I admit, but this is one that I feel is well worth it. That said, Readers, I want to ask what you all thought of my video blog posts. I want to do more but I feel like I need more input from you all, so I can improve on them. So please, let me know what you think of my video blog posts in the comments and I’ll let you all know what the future is for them.

Now, for the post in question…

During this lockdown, Dear Readers, it’s been a tough experience to be away from what we know as your routine, especially for Spectrumites, where routines are literally a way of life. Simply put, we crave routines, we thrive on them, we need routines to function.

That makes this lockdown especially unnerving, which led to the following poem, that came from my personal feelings early on in this lockdown. I was feeling confused, irritated and angry to be honest about this coronavirus chaos. I’ve explained my feelings to my friends as “the wild card that no one could’ve seen coming” and it’s so true. Look at how many structures that have been disrupted; changed significantly due to COVID-19, not just with Spectrumites, but with us all.

As a Spectrumite who thrives in routine, I think that I’m not alone in feeling what I wrote about and I feel that it colors the following poem.

 

From Darkness, Light

 

No way to go now

Like I’ve given up the fight

Emotions well up inside

As day turns to night.

 

The drive is strong with me

But all detours on my map

Cooped up inside with it all

One thread left, ready to snap.

 

No way to see God’s Beauty

In this belly of the beast

Dealing with withdrawals; constant famine

When we should be ready to feast.

 

When, behold! One ray of light

Breaks up the dark clouds away

On me, one ray shines the brightest

Telling me to survive, reviving my fight.

 

Please don’t give up when times get tough, know that better days are coming soon, hold on and please try to…..

 

Shine On!!!!

Grounding In A Crisis

-with thanks to a new local friend, Rabbi Zoe, for her video on grounding, which inspired this blog post

During this coronavirus chaos, Dear Readers, I’m sure you all have been trying to keep yourself busy and not go stir crazy about the current situation. I know that it’s not been a easy challenge, Spectrumite or not, for us to adapt to restrictions that we’re not used to..ever.

It’s of paramount importance during these unnerving times for us to keep ourselves busy and do what we feel is necessary to keep our spirits up. So I want to ask a question to you all, Dear Readers, what do you do to keep yourself busy; what grounds you?

Myself, I’ve found myself working on things that I had long since put off for a while, mostly due to my busy schedule. I’ve been working on some new projects for the Literacy Program I do for the ARC Mid Hudson.

I’ve also found myself grounding in my poetry, I’m doing all I can to learn new poetic forms, as an autistic artist, I feel that it’s important to expand your artistic arrows in your quiver, so to speak. Tough as it can be to change, being versatile can be a good thing.

My faith also grounds me as well, as it helps me know that these times are only temporary; that better times are ahead and that suffering builds character, as evidenced by the lives of the Saints.

No doubt about it, these are challenging times, but if we ground ourselves in what we want; what we are passionate about, we can survive and thrive in these times and do better, be better people when this crisis is over.

Never forget that we’re in this together and, as always…

Shine On!