#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!!!

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!!!

Poetry Packed Out: #TaketheMaskOff

My therapist recently told me that I needed to drop the facade I’ve had throughout my life, which is easier said than done, especially since it’s something that I’ve learned to do over time.

I do understand why she feels like I put the facade up, but, in my defense, I don’t do so thinking that I’m trying to be better than others. I chalk it up to my parents, they always (at least to me) put up the feeling that everything was all right, even when it wasn’t. That said, I couldn’t tell the difference but my Mom always pushed through it as best as she could.

But it’s been hard for me to pull myself away from that facade, mostly since it’s all I’ve known.

All the time, all everyone sees is a successful Autistic person, who has a car, a college degree, a job with supportive family and friends, but very few people know of the struggles, the disappointments, the sacrifices or the journey I had to take to get there, hence where this acrostic came from.

I want to give people hope, but I also want to be honest with the journey I took to get here, I don’t want to lie to anyone, much less myself. It’s hard to do, though, when you don’t know anything other than the facade. With that said, I present yo you the acrostic that is more than meets the eye:

Iceberg

Instant fame; success hides behind journey;

Cold; harsh winter brings forth Springs fortune.

Even as people ask for advice, an ear to hear

Behind the scenes, all he craves for is rest if

Even a moment. The need, want to break vicious

Recurring theme seeping into his core, slowing

Grating in him, nudging him to find a way to act.

I can’t tell you in all honesty how to live your life or how to help you, dear reader, how to take your mask off. I’m honestly figuring out that myself, but I can tell you that you can embrace the wonderful person you are, even with your flaws.

You’ll discover people, friends and family, who will love you and embrace you for all you are. But you need to be open with them, that’s the first step for you to be open with others, so they know that you’re genuine. When you can be open, you’ll find your purpose, your real friends and most importantly, you’ll be able to reach out, help others, and truly….

Shine On!!’

#Throwback Thursday: Who Really 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!!

The Reason Why I Shine…

Some of you, my readers, might be wondering why I end my blog posts with the expression, “Shine On!” At first, I thought it would be a clever way to end my blog posts; a way for me to make The SuperBlog unique. After thinking about it for some time, however, there is another reason why I use that expression:

To help people feel like they matter.

Hope is available to us all, but very few know that in the moment, especially dark times in their lives, where they feel depressed, alone and discouraged. I know I have at times, but it was only due to wonderful friends and family that helped me overcome those times, helping me see the positive things that are going on in my life.

Another thing that has helped me is my faith.

I’ll get into it later on this week, on Friday during the annual March for Life, but to discount my faith in helping me overcome dark times would be a sacrilege to those friends that I consider a light to me; they overcame their struggles because of their Catholic faith and to say that they inspire me would be very accurate.

In all honesty, both of those things have made a huge difference in my life and I wouldn’t be the person I am without them.

I want to be a hope dealer, I want to make a difference, I want to share and shed light in others dark times, which is why I like to say “Shine On!” I want to be able to be positive and be a positive influence to others; to make sure anyone knows that they matter.

So, whatever anyone’s going through, just know that you matter, you are important and that, with support, you can always find a way to…

Shine On!!! Both now and always!!

Poetry Packed Out: The Ugliness Beneath the Beauty

I was inspired to do this diamanté due to something I’ve been watching on YouTube recently, it’s not something for the faint of heart, but rather something I feel should be acknowledged: the crimes of Willowbrook.

To set the scene, long time readers (which include you, dear reader) know about my autism but also should be aware of my battle to advocate for myself as well as for others like myself. I just feel as if it’s the right thing to do.

More like the most merciful thing to do, especially in the light of what conditions were like in earlier years, one where filth, disease and despair were the norm. One such place was inside Willowbrook State School in New York, during its run, the aforementioned adjectives were more prevalent than it could ever have been. Documentaries enough are alone to vouch for that, which you can see on YouTube if you, my readers, are curious. Suffice it to say that they are intense, which is why this recent diamanté was formed, if for no other reason to illustrate this point.

So without further ado, I present for your reading the following diamanté:

Willowbrook

Willowbrook

Cries, wails

Decaying, robbing, demeaning

Those who can’t defend themselves, yet others

Uplift, delight, inspire

Cheers, spirits

Hope.

It is my hope that we can not look at people differently or be condescending to them, but rather, support them and nurture their dreams and lives, so we can all…

Shine On!!!