Poetry Packed Out: One for the Teachers

This post is for those wonderfully creative and brave warriors that care about those they work with. Those heroes that live among us, yet they make an indelible impact on all of us. Those people that uplift during the weakest, the darkness points as well as the positive points of our lives.

Simply put, this post is for the teachers that impact our lives. These people are the hardest working people that I’ve had the honor to know as friends.

On a personal note, I know that impact firsthand as I know a family who is willing to help, to listen, to do everything that they can to improve their community. One of my best friends has been a teacher for over 30 years named Joe Defino, who has been the epitome of what a teacher should be and more, he’s been a coach, a mentor, a cheerleader, a husband, a father and so many other things, even the founder of a ground breaking event called Hope Rocks, which helps people with addiction of all kinds know that there is hope (the link is here: https://www.hoperocksny.com.)

For him and other wonderful teachers, I wish to share the following haiku set, which I titled, Work and Play, which not only honors and respects teachers, but also the students whose lives they daily touch, so without further ado, I unveil the following haiku:

 

Work and Play

 

-for all teachers-

 

Final bell peal

brings relief, sorrow in

hard work aftermath.

 

Teachers gather at

old playground, reminisce on

memories; old, new.

 

They laugh, play at what

gathered them here and how they

took heart; grew from there.

 

For all parents, teachers, and students who worked hard to be the success that they are, that also hung tough during the tough times (especially during this year, with all we’ve dealt with in 2020), thank you all for being hard-working, thank you for being creative in tough times, and never forget to always….

 

Shine On!!!

The Colors We Share

It’s about time, dear readers, that we stop thinking about what divides us, what makes us different but instead look at what binds us, unites us and brings us together.

Like what makes us unique? What makes us different, what are things that we feel as much (if not moreso) than others? It’s so easy for us to be down on ourselves from time to time, to need to know that we’re not alone. Spectrumites can feel that way as well and that is amplified by our social challenges.

That is touched on in the following note I wrote several years ago, which was inspired by a similar note that was written by my dear friend that I’ve mentioned on The SuperBlog before, autistic author Jesse Saperstein, which I’ll share with you all on The SuperBlog:

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Colors We Share

-written with thanks to his wonderful friend Jesse Saperstein for the inspiration for this note-

All of us, as human beings have feelings and emotions that are ours to own; a birth of a newborn, the loss of someone close to us, a wedding, a graduation, getting a driver’s license, the feelings we have are natural, unique and depends on the person. Regardless, these feelings come with various philosophical questions at certain points in our lives. The answers we give, answers unique to us, will help define us as a person. These questions are as old as time itself; countless philosophers and artists giving myriad points of view.

For those who are reading this, I’d like to pose the following question: What is it like to be different?

I’m sure that we can all relate to how it feels to be different at times in our lives; how strange it was to have all the eyes focused on you. I’ve had my share of people bullying me for being the strange one; even though it’s comforting now to know that I wasn’t the only one, still being criticized for only being myself still hurt. It helped that I had the support of my family and friends to help me through the tough times, even though I know now of people less lucky than I was.

Having the support of teachers who were sympathetic to me, a great deal of whom I now consider friends, helped me deal with the dark times that plagued my life, as they do all of us. At this point, I feel the need say something to those teachers, friends and even those who bullied me in the past; I wish to say a warm thank you to you all. You all have made an impact on my life and made my the person I am today.

By writing this, I hope to empower those going through similar challenges, those shy of their imperfections by asking this question to them: what is the difference between being strange and being unique? Albert Einstein was considered strange by the people of his day, yet without his eccentricities, science as we know it would be very different.

Without the talents of my hero, Dr. Temple Grandin, meat-packing plants may not have seen what she saw with her unique insight into animals. Without friends and family wishing to relate to me; wanting to understand and help me, I’m not sure that I would be as eloquent as I am.

I feel that it’s important to know that even though at times that you are, whatever circumstances you might find yourself, you’re not alone; there’s nothing wrong with you being the person you are.  It’s at time where it seems that you may be at your weakest, your most vulnerable. But it’s in those times where the traits that people will; admire about you shine through like a bright diamond.

Even though it may be hard to forgive those who may have bullied you, I pose this thought. Before returning hate in kind, instead look at them as another person; each with their own feelings, strengths and weaknesses. Even as some people might find you crazy, realize that they, like yourselves to find themselves into this complex cornucopia that is our home.  As we all bring our unique attributes, time will show where we all fit in the grand color scheme.

In closing, I wish to make a point, much like Atticus Finch made to his daughter Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird. Before making assumptions about a person, ask yourself what you really know about a person; each one of us has a our story to share, but only if we allow ourselves to be open to other people’s points.

During the mid 1930-40s, a time of great uncertainty, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said words to comfort a nation, those words were that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. I ask all who are reading this while looking in your own lives, what do you have to fear that you feel the need to bully others? Each person is a present since if you only give others a chance, you might be surprised at what you might discover.

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In closing, never forget to be different, be yourself, be unique and, as always….

Shine On!!!

The Bright Side of the Spectrum!

I know I was really heavy last post, but I wanted to get my frustration about the coronavirus chaos out there, because I feel like I’m not alone in my frustration about this point in time, to think that your life has been upended due to circumstances beyond our control.

Now, let’s get to the lighter side, right?

I wrote this note several years ago because os a note that a wonderful friend, Eric Rutulante, had given me. From what I remember, he was writing about the good things about having Lyme disease, which he has had for a long time, that even in our sufferings, there are hidden blessings.

It doesn’t matter what anyone has, autism, Lyme disease or anything else, the reason for this note is that there’s always something good that comes out of it. On that note, I share with you the following note, which I hope that shines a light on any situation you’re dealing with at any moment:

Bright Side of the Spectrum

-written with thanks to Eric Dominick Rutlante for the inspiration for this note-

Recently, I was reading an article from a friend who has Lyme Disease that reminded me that, even though life comes with its challenges; its hardships, it’s also true to say that it’s also a blessing. It was a moving article, one that made me realize the the same can also be said for those of us who have autism as well. That being said, I wish to empower and inpsire those who have autism and your families: when you are having a bad day; I ask you to look on the bright side of what live has given you.

Even with all the challenges we go through in life, there’s also the good that we do, whatever or however that might be. Has anyone heard of the saying that to the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world? Well, that’s true for spectrumites as well. Our gifts; the talents we have are just that: ours to use; ours to change the world as we see fit. Look at Temple Grandin, she was able to use her talents to see things differently to change the way meat is processed. Another example is Jesse Saperstein, is able to use his wonderful talents not only to write an insightful novel, but maybe just as important, his voice to combat bullying in all of its heinous forms.

It also helps to know during times of great dispair, the love from your family and the community at large can do great things to lift you up. I’d be lying if I said that I did everything on my own, without the support of my friends and family.  To say that they all mean so much to me would be a gross understatement; they have been the people who’ve inspired me to go above and beyond where I was before. It’s because of them and thier love, support and friendship that makes me the person I am today.  To them, I’d like to tak this time to thank them for all the support, you all show me, both in word and action, that through it all, the good and the bad, we’re not alone in life.

I’d be lying to say, though, that I wish that I was more successful than I am now. Yet, when some parents who have autistic children are impressed by my accomplishments, those people wishing similiar results for thier children, it makes me feel important; that success should doesn’t have to be measured by how much you make, but the impact, how much of a role model you are, makes all the difference in the world.

Another reason to look on the bright side of autism comes from a cartoon I watched for a time, Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends. One character fit me in the way in which she saw her world, she was one with whom I felt a connection to: Goo Goo Gaga. While it was clear that she didn’t fit what was considered, “normal” from her world’s point of view, one can also make a case that from a totally unique point of view. She, along with other characters from the show, showed that being different isn’t always a bad thing. That was the one thing that I liked about Foster’s, its unique ability to show how the world can be comforting and supporting even in the face of whatever people face.

In summation, it’s my hope that this note inspires and empowers you to help you and your families to face the sometimes cruel world we live in. I know from experience how hard it is to deal with the bad hands we get dealt with, but through it all, though, know you’re not; nor will you ever be alone in your struggles.

Be inspired, be brave, but always find a way to…..

Shine On!!!

Throwback Thursday: A Letter to Me Now to Me Then

I was inspired to write this “now vs. then” letter because of a recent speech of someone I consider my best friend, writer and author, Jesse Saperstein, so this blog post is going on be my “now vs. then” letter to myself in the past written from me now. Another thing that I remember as the inspiration for this was seeing WWE Superstars looking at pictures of them then vs whom they are now, so without further ado, my “now vs. then” letter:

Dear Me,

I know that life seems so rosy now that you’re in high school, it feels surreal almost, but there will be times where you’ll be tested, tempted, bullied and mocked for the person you’ll become. But you’ll come out of this so much better in the long run.

First things first, keep your faith, it’s seems silly to say now but I’m learning things about my faith I wished I’d learned before. Things like the Saints, the sacraments, you have a great heritage as a Catholic that you shouldn’t take for granted. Learn about them now before new things, new temptations happen that will frustrate you.

Secondly, seek the new but be true to you. Don’t lose the person you are now, with all your quirks, your talents, your love of game shows (that last one is something you shouldn’t want to lose, trust me, you’ll thank me later.) That said, you should always seek to be open to new things that can improve you to better a better you. Artists change, that’s true, but they always are true to themselves even as they change.

Thirdly, save some money now so you won’t be strapped later on, I know you things things will be better in the future, but don’t bet on it; take your future in your own hands. You may need to work to do so, but you’ll be better for it in more ways than one. Don’t fly too much on borrowed wings, or you might fall like Icarus.

Fourthly, learn to stand up for yourself. It’ll be hard, I know, since you’re used for others fighting your battles for you (and with you.) That said, imagine it was a four-on-one situation at Survivor Series, eventually, you’ll have to fight for who you are and it won’t be easy. Just know that your defeats (and you will have defeats in your life) will make your victories sweeter, with so many friends cheering you on, like the Defino’s, whom I know you admire, I still do to this day and our bond, much like your family and friends, will be strengthened because of both your victories and defeats. You’ll become a better person and a better leader in time because of it.

Finally, try reading the classics, keep reading and not just the books you know a lot about, maybe delve into some philosophy, since it teaches you to question everything about everyone. It gives you the ability to think critically for yourself which if you don’t learn now, you’ll regret it later. You end up doubting yourself and second guessing your actions, your gut reactions. Treasure your Local Library (and Libraries in general, you make a lot of great friends in Libraries, trust me.) They might even help you achieve your dream of being a writer, which will come true with patience and hard work.

Hopefully, Future Me, you’ll take my advice to heart and never give up being your wonderful, kind and handsome self. Forgive others, laugh, learn and be patient to others. I’ll end with a Star Trek character’s wise words,

Don’t try to be a great man, just be a man, let history make its own judgments.

Zefram Cochrane, Star Trek: First Contact

Let others judge you but please be kind to yourself, that way you can see the stars twinkle as they always do, as soon as they always…

Shine On!!!

The (Un) Merry-Go-Round

It’s so easy for people to hear the good parts about them, Spectrumite or not, we love attention, we crave attention, we want to be noticed; we feel as if our intentions are good (and perhaps they are.)

That, along with the uncertainty of not knowing when my friends and I will be able to reenter the community, made this past week a constant merry-go-round of stress and worry.

That said, I’m getting ahead of myself here, maybe I should explain, Dear Readers, what the reason is for the title.

I’ve been struggling, like really wrestling, with what I like to call my inner demons, the bad cards I have in my life. Specifically, I’ve been trying to reconcile the fact that others consider me to be entitled for all I have in my life. Another thing that I’ve been wrestling with has been a lack of accountability for my actions.

Even though that’s what people might think, however, my life was far from charmed. As I look at my Senior Graduation picture, it was a far cry from the professional pictures that I see others have. I had to reflect on my life, how things could’ve been better in it, if things went better for me. So, yeah, I have the impression of being entitled, but considering how things were for me back then, I consider myself proud of the struggles I’ve had, the blessings I’ve had and the journey that I’ve gone through to get to where I am now.

The reason I wrote this is to empower and encourage you all to deal with your own inner demons, don’t just crave the praise and attention of others. Instead, work on dealing with your demons, try to find the balance between the good and bad parts to you, only then can you truly know your worth, see your true potential and, as always…

Shine On!!!

Blog Number 24601: BrotherMania 50

(A la Hulk Hogan) Well, Brother, whatcha gonna do when BrotherMania runs wild on you?

You celebrate a brother’s birthday, that’s what!

That, as well as so many others, is one of the earliest memories that I have with my older brother, Bill. He is the most hardest working, the kindest, the most giving person that I know. I know that it seems like I’m biased, but that’s only because I know that from first hand experience. He and I have gone on so many adventures during my life that to thank him enough would take me the rest of my life to do.

Seriously, even with my financial situation, I was able to go to see a taping of Bob Barker’s final season on the legendary game show, The Price is Right, got to see both Lord of the Dance and Riverdance, the latter of which I saw from the second row from the stage of Radio City Hall, went to several wrestling events, including WrestleMania 27 and 29.

To say nothing of the things I’ve been given that he gave me that I won’t get into. To say I’m humbled by his generosity is a true understatement, I wouldn’t be able to the things I do without his help.

The reason for the title for this blog post, though, is because of another thing he likes: the book, musical and movie known as Les Miserables. I only recently watched it, renting it from my local library prior to the Coronavirus chaos. Considering the struggle that was in the movie, I can understand how he can be as strong as he is.

So this is my way to say thank you to my brother, Bill, thank you for being the wonderful person you are to us all. Thank you for being strong and kind, helping me (and all who know you) truly…..

Shine On!!! Happy Birthday!!

Poetry Packed Out: A Father’s Spirit

You might remember, Dear Readers, that last month, I did a blog post about mothers, one where I mentioned those lights of faith, ones that shine brightest when things are tough, both at home and in our lives. Mothers are tender yet tough when they need to be, but also do what they feel what is right for us all, how they do so by their own examples.

Well, this one is for the fathers. The real fathers, stepfathers, foster fathers, single fathers, grandfathers as well as those who play the role of both mother and father.

My life has been truly blessed by the fathers that I look to as my role models. There are so many that fit this category, one shining example of hope is someone I’ve mentioned before on The SuperBlog before, but he’s worth mentioning again. He is a long time teacher in Saugerties named Joe Defino (the same one who is the founder of Hope Rocks, by the way Hope does Rock!)

I was in elementary school when I first met him, but our friendship has endured even with all that life throws at us. He has always been a constant source of support for me in my darkest times. I’ve come to know him not only as a dear friend of mine, but also a wonderful spiritual advisor.

The other fathers I wish to recognize are my late Grandfather, Patrick Liston as well as one of his sons, Kevin Liston, my father. Both are hard working Irishman, but one, my late Grandfather was a poet, much like myself. Perhaps, I’ll share his most famous poem Garryowen sometime soon.

My father is a wonderful person, always well known in the local community, he was (and still is) someone that I admire. Like I said before, he was a hard working Irishman, he always had a certain amiability to all who know him. He was tough and firm when he needed to be, but he always cared about his family. He always did anything to make sure we never needed for anything, hence the reason for the following poem, named for the city in Ireland that he was born, Limerick, so without further ado:

 

Limerick

 

-for my Father, Kevin, Sr.-

 

Hard working

Irishman;

is stern,

but deep down

he loves;

cares

for all who

know him;

those who see

the real him.

 

His family

knows

it’s tough

to be him;

they see them

deal with

whatever

hand he’s dealt.

 

Timeless bonds;

courage,

strength

faith;

heart

sees him

through

every day,

inspiring

his sons

to be better

strive to be

stronger,

wiser

than he could.

 

So, for all the fathers, including mine and those whom I consider father figures in my life, this is my way to say thank you for your example, your courage, your light and helping me to find my way to….

 

 

Shine On!!!

Let’s Talk About Pride (Again!)

I want to wish my readers whom are LGBTQ a very happy Pride Month!! I know how progress has shaped the landscape to make us all better because of your impact and presence in all of our lives!!

I’m sorry if I haven’t mentioned it before today, but I do have a legitimate reason for this, because today is Autistic Pride Day!!

The same Pride we all share in the wonderful people we are; the struggles we’ve faced to get to this point in our lives is something to celebrate, if not today then everyday of our lives.

But before we look to the future, maybe some perspective is in order..

50 years ago, (or maybe earlier than that) Spectrumites like us were kept in the shadows, branded as weirdos, lunatics by our peers where our hopes were at best dreams; at worst they were impossible.

We were locked away in institutions, or forced to mask the people we were inside. But we fought back, ourselves, our allies, our friends and families fought for us and alongside us in order for autistic people (as well as people with disabilities) the rights and representation we deserved.

I realize that I’m giving a “cliff notes” version of it, but I do so to make a point: that we all want for our lives to have meaning, a purpose and we want to be ourselves, to take our masks off and be comfortable in our own quirks. History has countless stories that prove this point, the founding of nations, societies, organizations and other things as well. But we all want the same thing: to make our mark in the world and make our world a better place, one where we can always be happy and…

Shine On!!

Who Really Matters? We All Do!!

In uncertain times, Dear Readers, it’s so easy for us to think that we are the only people that matter in the world. To think of others or think of our respective communities can be considered unnerving. Feelings of resentment, anger and selfishness can be commonplace and, if left unchecked, well…the current looting of several cities can speak more than I could ever say.

That being said, this post isn’t about the looters, it’s about the protests that have been unfairly grouped together with the aforementioned people. Protesting, historically speaking has changed the world, for better or worse.

Just recent examples are the Civil Rights movement, the fight that brought about the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the aftermath of the Great Depression, the Meiji Restoration and the American Revolution among many others.

I bring all of these up to explain how we all matter, how all lives matter, black, brown, white, autistic, gay, lesbian or transgender. Life holds no favoritism when it comes to it, because we all have things that bring us together as a community. We all have times like what we are in right now that, to be frank, level the playing field. We’ve all dealt with loss, we’ve all dealt with pain, we’ve all dealt with anxiety and adversity (case in point: the coronavirus chaos) and we’ve all dealt with disappointments in every aspect in our lives.

I also want to touch on something else we all have that bring us together as a community, we all have ideas, we all have dreams, we all have aspirations and we all that the desire to be respected and welcomed as the people we know we are deep inside.

Hearing of people killing others, regardless of color, religion or sexuality, no matter what or whom, is not the best we can do mostly because of the fact that we should know better, or do Maya Angelou’s wise words really falling on deaf ears?

So, let’s do better, let’s be better people and a better society, let’s do better for others as well as ourselves. Let’s start by educating each other and empathizing with each other. Only by doing that can we all rise above all hatred and really, as one society, move forward and, as always….

Shine On because we all matter!!

Picture It! A Wonderful Brother’s Birthday!!

Picture it, 1980s, Upstate NY, two brothers in their childhood home, one in his room, with New York license plates and board games on his walls. No words needed to be said for ours was (and still is) a bond that could never be broken.

Never has been and never will.

If anyone that deserves to get some appreciation at this moment, if there’s anyone who I admire and respect more, that person would be my oldest brother, who has been my biggest supporter aside from my parents.

My oldest brother has dealt with me the most, both the good and the bad. He has helped me talk through and deal with problems I’ve dealt with in my life. He was the person that motivated me; encouraged me to move out of my Mom’s place, which had my Mom’s business, and move into the place that I now call my home. He was the person who was encouraging me to try new things and told me things that were hard for me to hear.

My oldest brother has always been there for me, so I wanted to write a blog post for him; to say thank you for being a friend, a brother and a critic to me when I really needed it.

But I think that this theme could do so better than I could ever do.

So to my oldest brother, Kevin, here’s a theme for you that I feel that I could show as a Birthday present, may your husband treat you fabulously and, as always…

Shine On and Happy Birthday!!!