Perseverance Versus Perseveration #Autism

“Jareth: Turn back, Sarah. Turn back before it’s too late.
Sarah: I can’t. Don’t you understand I can’t?
Jareth: What a pity.”
Labyrinth 1986

I have learned so much in the past year. For so long I have held onto so many painful memories. I tend to do that. But one thing I have come to see recently is that I hold onto fear the most instead of seeing it for what it is and choosing to disengage from my heavy burdensome fears.

My fears have held me back so much in so many ways. Last week I was sitting on my couch thinking about the things I fear so much and made a decision to write myself a letter.

As I wrote I started processing my fears in a totally different light. I started building convictions to move past them the more that I wrote. As I finished the letter to myself, I recalled that famous line from the movie “Labyrinth” -

“You have no power over me”

I started reflecting on that movie and thinking of the parallels I could draw to my state of mind. I suddenly saw my fear as a labyrinth and that David Bowie’s character Jareth represents fear and confusion and that I often allow my mind to go in these vicious cycles that lead to nowhere but more pain and fear.

When I thought of it that way I smiled and wrote down that quote at the end. I got up and went into the bathroom, lit the letter on fire and dropped it into the toilet, and knelt down and started praying. I prayed for peace, for forgiveness for doubting that God is the one who should be in control, and for the courage to let it go.

I sit here typing this out as I listen to “Let It Go” (Disney’s Frozen/Idina Menzel) and I’m smiling because even though I know that fear will always be there I now understand that it has no power over me. Not unless I give it power. Enough is enough.

I can in fact choose to not be afraid. I can decide to accept that I am not in control but I am in the hands of powers that are older,wiser, and far more powerful than my own.

It’s my choice and I am making a different choice now. ASD may make my labyrinths seem inevitable, I fixate on many things, but fear doesn’t have to be one of them. I can stop, pray, and ask for God to help me move on.

So even though the fears come to mind many times a day (at times 100+ times a day), I have been telling myself this instead “I am choosing not to be afraid. My faith is stronger than my greatest fear. God is in control” and you know…

It’s working.

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ASD & Unity

Erin Clemens and I worked on a video this week to really try to explain where we stand in terms of advocacy, our hopes for the community, and what we would like to share with parents of individuals with Autism.

It has been such an honor to work with her on yet another Autism advocacy project. We make a great team! Thank-you Erin!

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Like Golden Ribbon – A Poem

 

Swirls of golden ribbon

Weaving in, out & around

my hands, my eyes, my heart

Enveloping me in a warm

brilliance like that of the Sun.

 

A warm light from within me shows

as I touch my hand to yours

You smile & turn to pass it on-

And it in response it grows.

 

A unity never seen before

we band our hands tightly

Fingers like sunbeams glow

against a midnight-lit society

 

& sunshine spills like glitter

across a field of daffodils

As we lift our hands together

like that of a new-age dawn.

 

For Autism Awareness Month

Gretchen Leary 2014

 

 

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Twenty Eight

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So I am officially twenty eight years old.

I’m looking back on the last almost three decades (the word almost is key there), and I think of all of the things I have been through. The good and the bad.

It’s far too easy to list all of the bad things so I am going to list 28 life lessons I’ve learned or things that I am grateful for:

1) I am alive. Can’t take that for granted
2) I am happily married despite my ASD. Somewhat of a miracle to me at times that she sticks around 💜💫
3) I do have friends. Not many but it’s quality not quantity that counts
4) I am grateful for my family
5) I am grateful that God is in control
6) I am grateful that they didn’t find invasive cancer (Precancer gone!)
7) I have found I never really needed my appendix or gallbladder anyway
8) I now know that putting people on pedestals only ruins friendships and lowers my self esteem
9) My ASD diagnosis does not define me, it’s a disability that constantly challenges me to try harder to find coping skills
10) I am grateful for my online support system. I can never say that enough.
11) I have learned I cannot change who I am for anyone, but I can improve myself, despite anyone’s theory that I cannot
12) I am grateful that I have finally figured out what “home” is. No need for ruby slippers although I would love a pair!
13) I am grateful for my family whether chosen or blood, this really should be number 2 but it’s kind of a given
14) I am grateful that I got to see my dad last year for the first time in a decade and the second time ever in my lifetime
15) I have learned that true friends don’t ask you to change to make it easier on them
16) I am grateful for my cats despite how destructive they are. 💜
17) I have learned that no one judges me harder than myself.
18) I have learned that hard times do not ever last forever
19) I am grateful for my home and heat, we’ve run out of oil enough times to be grateful for hot showers
20) I have learned that snow and trees are not what Christmas is about
21) I am grateful for this time to work on my next children’s book a The Quiet Bear while I look for work
22) I have learned that things are not always black and white and people are not always worthy of my trust
23) I have learned that letting go is so hard but once you do, it feels amazing 24) I am grateful for Broadway music, it literally can change my mood in minutes
25) I have learned that life isn’t about me, it’s about finding a way to serve others
26) I have learned that even though I have Aspergers, it doesn’t mean I can’t go to college. Yay Fall 2014!
27) I am grateful that I am only twenty eight because my fingers are starting to cramp
28) Last but not least, I am grateful for you, whoever you are, wherever you are for taking the time to read my stories and poetry.

Here’s to another year to grow.
>

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ASD: A Gift or a Disability?

This topic keeps coming up recently and it’s bugging me. Why, you ask?

Okay, this is my take on this:

ASD is a disability.

It is a developmental disability. I do not see it as a lifestyle. I do not see the condition as a gift. I see it as a disability that may allow some to do extraordinary things at times partially because of our issues with perseveration and extreme focus on particular things.

I have Asperger Syndrome
.

I think there is a difference between someone accepting a diagnosis and having a positive attitude about it and not letting it define them but finding ways to grow and cope and someone stating that Autism Spectrum Disorder is merely a gift or a choice (lifestyle). It makes me think of how silly it would sound to call “poor vision” a gift simply because it might improve their hearing.

I find it almost offensive when people call it a gift because I personally feel like it belittles all of the hard work I do on a daily basis to co-exist with neurotypical people. I can see how one might get confused but just the fact that I have Asperger Syndrome does not mean I am some sort of genius or able to do amazing things.

This is not a debate on whether or not I want a cure for myself or anyone else. I don’t even feel educated enough to answer that because I don’t know what a cure would mean for someone like me and I cannot and would not try to speak for someone else. Not my place. But I digress…

Why is it assumed that if a person calls ASD a disability that the person is then a pessimist? I see it as a challenge for me to deal with and adapt to every day. Or is it that people see Autistic Disorder as a disability and Asperger Syndrome a gift?

That seems like ignorance to me.

We cannot have a community without unity and an advocacy community that stands divided between parents and adults on the Spectrum is only holding us back from supporting each other by listening. We may not be able to relate to everything each other shares but that’s just diversity and I would prefer diversity over adversity in our community any day of the week.

Can we see beyond the politics and our pride? Can we just be there for each other? Shouldn’t we be the last community to be judgmental of others? Alienating others? Can we stop long enough to listen? I don’t want to preach, I just want our community back. Here, I’ll start. For those of you who want to share…

What is your story? I’m listening.

Please do not turn the comment section into a political debate.

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Not Giving Up

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I have been having a really rough time in general but the dream of having my new children’s book The Quiet Bear become a reality is what keeps inspiring me to keep trying, keep tweeting, keep believing in my dream.

I cancelled the Kickstarter which I had set up poor rewards for (which I couldn’t edit by the time I realized what was wrong) and started it over on GoFundMe. Hopefully the new rewards will have people much more excited to be a part of the project. If you were a part of the Kickstarter project and want to find the link to the new project or you are brand new to it, here is the link: http://www.gofundme.com/TheQuietBear

In other news, my arm cast is coming off on Monday and although I don’t have a job lined up just yet, I am not giving up.

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My Next Children’s Book #Autism #KickstartTheQuietBear

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Hello everyone!

I’m working with an illustrator to make my second children’s book about Autism come to life. Now, I am not a sales person, just a writer, but I do have to raise the funds to make this book happen.

Despite the title “The Quiet Bear”, the story is about a little girl with Autism who is trying to find her voice in the biggest city. I don’t want to spoil what happens but I do want to ask for your help.

If you can even pledge $1 it will bring me closer to my $2000 goal.

If you have any questions or have any ideas on how to promote this aside from here and Twitter, I would love to hear your ideas!

Here is the link to my Kickstarter project

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