Letters For Lent 2020: Shining in Faith

(Writer’s note: Please note that this post was written on Monday, February 10, 2020, before I practiced my Lenten observance, one of which is being absent on social media, but the message remains relevant, especially in our current situation)

Here’s a riddle for all of you, my dear readers, what shines brighter than anything during the darkest nights? What helps shine light in this dark world? In the face of death, heartache and loss, what helps us deal with it with more strength than even we ourselves know we have?

The answer is faith. It may seem redundant, considering that this segment is called Letters for Lent, but when people lose it, it can be hard to know that faith can do a lot in the heat of the moment.

It can feel like nothing else matters, except you and your emotions, when dark times come upon you, as they will from time to time.

The important thing to know is that what troubles, hurdles and pitfalls we daily deal with is that it’s only temporary. If anything, countless songs have been made over the years that can make you feel like you can relate to the singer, it was the way it was with Billy Joel’s You’re Only Human (Second Wind) in my life, as the opening lyrics show, the link is here: https://www.billyjoel.com/song/youre-only-human-second-wind-2/

You’re having a hard time and lately you don’t feel so good

You’re getting a bad reputation in your neighborhood

It’s alright, it’s alright

Sometimes that’s what it takes

You’re only human, you’re allowed to make your share of mistakes

Recent events in my life have given me a reason to keep the faith, even in the darkest times (and there will be there, then as now) but all I can do is try to keep the faith as best as I can. I know it’ll be hard to do in the moment, but it can be done.

So, keep the faith, stay strong and, as always…

Shine On!!

The Power of Volunteers!

I don’t say this lightly, especially from first-hand experience, but I want to give a shout-out to those volunteers who are helping us as we deal with the Coronavirus chaos.

So this one is for the volunteers, you all are some of the most selfless, most empowering, most charitable people I’ve ever known, ever! Even though I am a volunteer myself, it makes me feel powerless when I can’t help others the scale that others have done recently.

But I also want to speak as a volunteer, volunteering can be a struggle at first, as you try to find your place, where you belong in the group. It can be challenge to find a way to contribute to the efforts. It can be exhausting at times, trying to fix problems that are there, but those things they are unforeseen. That being said, though, being a volunteer can be the most enriching, the most inspiring and the most empowering thing you can possibly do.

Speaking from experience, there are challenges from volunteering, since I didn’t know whom I was working with until I stepped into the place I’d be working in. There are disabled people that I can connect to, but there were times when I was worried that I was overwhelming one person.

I vividly remember a time, the first time I played games inside the Literacy Program, it was a crossword game from a good source, the problem was that the people I worked with because so confused and frustrated, one person was crying due to it.

Yeah, suffice it to say that that attempt on my part was an epic failure.

So I worked with new concepts, new ideas and made it work. It’s the real perk of being a visual thinker, I feel. I test it out myself before I unleash it on people that I consider friends.

I hope that they’ve learned a lot from me as much as I have from them, because I do miss them.

If you have the chance, the ability to help out as a volunteer, I’d like to suggest that you do so, if fit no other reason than to make the world a better, kinder place for us all to celebrate, support each other and always…

Shine On!!

Throwback Thursday: Who still listens to the Listeners?

Recently, I’ve been watching classic TV, particularly Star Trek simply because I wanted to change my TV habits up a bit. I must admit that I’m a Trekkie, perhaps deep down, I’ve always been a fan and never realized that until recently. The fact that Dr. Temple Grandin is a fan of the classic Star Trek, my hero in the autistic community, helps me so much and, looking into it, it’s not hard to see why, how so, read on….

Inside the Trek universe, there are so many people who I can relate to, that I can say that there’s a part of me in all of them. In Capt. Sisko, I feel the tension that he felt every day, having to keep the peace of so many different species, making those choices that we might flinch at and how he had to keep up appearances as a religious icon and a Commander (later Captain) inside Starfleet.  Thus far, I see myself in Sisko, though I have a passion for the arts so much that I can see Picard in me as well.

In Chief O Brien, there’s the obvious connection with our shared heritage and how he had to fix Deep Space 9, a Cardassian space station with Federation technology, not an easy task, which required him to be creative and flexible in his role as Head of Operations, something I’ve had to do countless times in my own work, similar to him and Voyager’s Neelix.

In Voyager’s EMH, known simply as the Doctor, he was a person, an entity which I felt for, simply for the fact that he wanted to belong and his struggles mirror my own, both the triumphs and pitfalls. I also see Data in myself as well for the same reasons, both the Doctor and Data fought for the person (entities, perhaps?) that they are, fought for the respect that they deserved, much like I do to this day.

There was one character that really stood out to me, with Quark being a close second, Guinan, from the Next Generation, it maybe because of the fact that she simply listens. I saw her and felt a connection because, as a former bartender’s son, I’ve always been known for being a good listener. It’s a family trait, I’m feeling, as all of my wonderful brothers are known for being good listeners.

It’s gotten so much so that, when friends have their problems, we are the first people that they can talk to, because like Guinan, we seem to be good at listening. I admit that I’m working on giving advice, but I feel like if listening helps the person vent out possibly pent-up frustrations, then I’m happy to be a help, no matter how small.

It just goes to show that, whatever you find yourself a fan of, you can always find someone to look up to in a postive light, especially when the news is full of bad characters nowadays. That said, in life, there’ll always be the people you can look to for advice, a shoulder to cry on and a character that you can’t help but root for, but with them by your side, you won’t be able to do anything but be like a star and…..

Shine On!!

 

Poetry Packed Out: A Late Present For My Fellow Irishmen and My Family!!

I know that this is a little late for St. Patrick’s Day, but I wanted to do something to celebrate it, which I couldn’t do this year due to the Coronavirus chaos.

Just a disclaimer, dear readers, before going on about this: I’m a proud Irish-American. My Mom was born in Brooklyn, NY but my grandparents lived in Crossmolina, County Mayo in Ireland, while my Dad was born and lived in Limerick before they both emigrated to the United States.

I’ll give my thoughts on my family on my Mom’s side later in a new blog post, but I’ll focus on my Grandfather on my Dad’s side because there’s a connection there. My grandfather on my Dad’s side was a hard working person but he also was a poet, much like I am. His poem Garryowen hangs in a place of honor in my apartment and my family’s houses, but also hangs at the Horse and Hound Pub in Limerick (the page for the Pub is here: https://www.facebook.com/The-Horse-and-Hound-1407609432807817/)

But perhaps, I digress…

He was a great poet and one whose example I try to follow in each day, but he was also Irish and one of the great symbols of Irish identity and culture is the Claddagh Ring, which looks like this:

How to Draw a Claddagh Ring, Claddagh Ring Tattoo

But people may not realize what this image represents, which is the basis for the following limerick (fitting, huh), which I share with you, my readers:

Claddagh’s Code

-for my Fellow Irishmen and my family-

 

Friendship, loyalty and love

all brought forth from above,

all wrapped up in gold;

it’s easy to hold

someone’s heart inside a glove.

 

I wear my Claddagh ring with a lot of pride, because it reminds me of who I am, as an Irish-American and as a person, so spread your hands to care for others, especially in this current time, show your loyality and love to others and help them, as best as you can to….

 

Shine On!!

Poetry Packed Out: A Sense Of Community

Greetings, dear readers!! 

I figured that, instead of you all reading my poetic works, I thought that you could see me reading my works, if for no other reason, it gives us a chance to feel connected in some way to the Coronavirus chaos.

I just feel it right to set the scene so you know where this video comes from: This was from the first edition of a local poetry marathon known as Brain Storms, it’s been done in many places, particularly in New York City, but this was the first time that it was done in Kingston, NY.

The result, as the following link (https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2019/12/27/six-hour-poetry-marathon-on-new-years-day/) shows for itself:

They have assembled over 100 performers from an area that runs from Poughkeepsie to Saratoga and from Kingston to Delhi. For poets they missed, an open reading will follow. “Anyone can come and participate,” said Weber. “I didn’t want to close the door to anyone.”
When he attended an event at the Beverly Lounge earlier this year, Weber felt comfortable in the space and was pleased to learn that the owner, Trippy Thompson, had been an East Village resident. Joanne Pagano is building a set, with the help of other local artists.

But he didn’t do it alone, he did it with the help of a band of wonderful poets and friends, including Teresa Costa, Bruce Weber, Lissa Kiernan from the Poetry Barn (Poetrybarn.co), Sam Truitt (Stationhill.org), David Schell (Greenkill.org) , Bertha Rogers (Brighthillpress.org) as well as long time poets and friends of mine, who I’ve mentioned on The SuperBlog, “The Mighty Mr. Mantle”  Mikhail Horowitz and Chronogram‘s Poetry Editor as well as ringmaster for he Woodstock Poetry Society (woodstockpoetry.com)  Phillip Levine (the latter of which introduces me in the following video, by the way.)

But I digress, enjoy the video, thanks to my dear friend Nancy Michaels and, as always…

Shine On!!!

Letters For Lent 2020: Trust Never Fails

(Writer’s note: Please note that this post was written on February 23, 2020, before I practiced my Lenten observance, one of which is being absent on social media, but the message remains relevant.

This particular post is dedicated to my friends and family, especially my dear friends, Joe Defino, his family, Jason Cohen, two time author Jesse Saperstein and of course, Samantha.)

Trust is a big thing, perhaps the most important thing to a person, Spectrumite or not. Without it, you can find yourself living in fear, scared to do anything by yourself, paralyzed by panic and worry.

But ask yourself one question, whom would you trust? Have you ever wondered what can you do with trust? Have you ever formed a bond with a friend that you know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that your friend will always be there for you, no matter what?

Well, my friends have been there for me, in fact, I’ve been very lucky to live in a community that really supports me; that looks past my faults and looks to the real me. I also know that there are people who are less lucky than I am, or those who find trust in someone, much less anyone.

The point I wish to make is that trust is possible.

It can be done, if you only give it a chance.

I feel like Billy Joel’s song, A Matter of Trust, says it better than I can do when it comes to trust. The song in question is shown above, but the lyric below hammers it home for me, because I’m sure than we’ve all been there:

You can’t go the distance
With too much resistance
I know you have doubts
But for God’s sake don’t shut me out

There will come a time where we need to trust each other, it’s not a question of how, but when we need to trust. The best thing to do, in those cases, is not to shut people out, but let people in. Only then can we grow together, be better and, as always…

Shine On!!!!

Don’t Be Afraid!!

Let’s be honest, dear readers, ever since this Coronavirus chaos has permeated our lives, in news, online or on the radio, it’s been hard for us to be peaceful, to be calm in the face of chaos.

It’s been hard to know that our lives have been tossed like salad, to know that life won’t return to normalcy for a while. It feels like things will only get worse before it gets better.

But, life will get better. One minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time, life will get better. It may not seem so now and it may sound cliche, but I really do feel like things will get better.

Sure, we should live in caution, we should err on the side of caution and we should be safe, but we shouldn’t live in fear. We shouldn’t live in fear or dread of anyone or anything.

You hear that, Coronavirus? We are prepared to fight and we won’t be afraid!

That last statement is not and should not be seen as political, but it’s meant to boost your morale, dear readers.

We shouldn’t live in fear, we should know that hope is just around the corner, that a new day (baby!, thank you Kofi Kingston) is coming as long as we don’t lose hope and have compassion for those who’ve lost people due to this Coronavirus.

Hearing it is one thing, but believing it is another, trust me, but know that we can survive, we must survive, if for not other reason to inspire others to feel hope she, as always…..

Shine On!!!

Throwback Thursday: A (Not-so-Sad) Tribute to Spring

Before I get down to this post, I want to thank you all so much for reading my “then vs now” post I wrote on Monday, I’ve had a lot of feedback from it , all of it positive and one was negative, but despite that, it really let me know that you all, my readers, really that the post and the Super-blog are worthwhile, so I just needed to take some time to say Thank You All So Much for your support, your patronage, and your kind words. It means so much to me..

Besides that, I feel like celebrating, I feel like there’s an extra spring in my step, in more ways than one, I feel like the cold is only a distant memory, that the flowers are due to come in any day and all this because of the fact that Spring is officially here!!

Truth be told, I’m not exactly a fan of winter, I like it fine, but I’m not a fan of the season itself. I know I live in the Northeast, but every winter, I feel the need to brace for the storm. It’s just an impulse I have built into me, like many defense mechanisms, such as fight or flight. I guess that’s primarily why I like the first day of Spring, mostly because I know that pleasant temperatures are on the way. I know that those who deal with seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, will join me in celebrating this joyous day, a link from the Mayo Clinic is here for more information:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

The symptoms are the that the person affected may be:

Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
Having low energy
Having problems with sleeping
Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
Feeling sluggish or agitated
Having difficulty concentrating
Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
In the case of winter, they can also feel like:
Oversleeping
Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
Weight gain
Tiredness or low energy

I must stress that SAD is a real disorder which can be misunderstood as the “winter blues.” If that’s the case for you or not, just know that the feelings you’re experiencing now are, like winter itself, only temporary, look at this as a way to know you’re not alone and that together we can all really…

Shine On!!

The More Things Change…

This unexpected break from life due to the Coronavirus chaos has been bittersweet, if I’m being honest (though I feel like I’m not alone, I’m sure, right, my readers?) and it’s been a challenge, to say the least. This Coronavirus chaos has been stressful, chaotic, and in general it’s been hard to adjust. More so when one considers how dependent we are of our social lives.

We crave socialization like bears crave honey, like baseball players crave money, or like we all crave our desires. It’s become so ingrained in us, so much so that we can’t live not being around others. To have those certainties taken from us due to outside forces is staggering, to say the very least.

I should know because I crave the social scene, I put others opinions on a pedestal, letting others make me feel as they want me to. I look at myself and my opinion as inferior to others. I make others’ feelings mean more than I do my own.

Which is why I can look at this unexpected vacation as a curse, but also a blessing as well.

It gives me a chance to give myself a break; to look inside myself and give myself the affirmation that is lacking at the moment. It really gives me a chance to rethink my patterns, why I do what I do.

It’s also given me a chance to do things that I’ve left undone for a while, mostly because I’m always on the go all the time. The lack of the social scene I crave at times is unsettling, but it’s also a good thing as well.

That’s a lesson for all of us, I feel, to use these lulls as a good thing. It’s a hard thing to deal with, to be sure, but we can survive, we can overcome, we can become better and, as always, we can and will..

Shine On!!!

News from GRASP!!

Live news from my friends from the Global and Regional Aspergers Syndrome Partnership about social events!!

Offering extra online chat groups & supports

As many organizations are cancelling much needed services and support without offering alternatives, we have decided to expand our free resources. Instead of just offering monthly chat groups, we are going to be offering free chats groups Monday through Friday. These new chats begin March 16th and will go through April.

On Mondays we are offering a chat group for autistic adults.
On Tuesdays we will be offering a chat group for those over 50.
On Wednesdays we will be offering a chat group for women, trans-women and non-binary folks.
On Thursdays we will be offering a chat for LGBTQIA+ Community.
And on Fridays we will be offering a chat for parents or family members of autistics.

Monday-Thursday chats: 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm, Eastern time
Friday chats: 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm, Eastern time

If you are currently a GRASP online chat member, please look for emails with details about the new chat information. If you are not currently a member and interested in participating in the new daily chats, please reach out to us via our contact page or info@grasp.org. For more information about the chats and how it works, check out, https://grasp.org/resources/.

Additionally, if you find yourself needing one-on-one support, we offer virtual coaching. For more information about coaching check out, https://grasp.org/coaching/.

Finally, if you are experiencing overwhelming emotions and need more intensive help, reach out to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health) by calling their helpline at 1-800-950-6264 or by texting NAMI to 741741. Learn more at, https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/NAMI-HelpLine/Top-HelpLine-Resources

Help them help us and, as always…

Shine On!!