You Just Don’t Understand

I’m sitting here with Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” blasting in my ears on repeat with my sunglasses, and tapping my feet. This song has everything to do with this post and I can only handle certain songs this loud. This is one of them. 

My brain is tumbling many things and thoughts over and over again like sea glass. Sometimes a sharp part will hit home and I have to keep it going until it’s smooth in my mind.
I was recently challenged to think of something in a brand new way. I had shared a screenshot from a Facebook group for adults with ASD with my friend about how “NTs” (non autistic population) just don’t understand autistic people. Her response wasn’t to laugh or think it was funny at all. 

She instead asked me if I was bitter towards people who are not on the Autism Spectrum. It took me by complete surprise. My first reaction was to defend myself. I didn’t understand why any one could think that I would not like anyone at all.

She shared that she herself had taken the “Aspie” quiz and fell somewhere in between (50/50) and said she didn’t fit in either group: non autistic or autistic and I was still confused and said that I saw that as a good thing. She could see both sides. Then it hit me. Sides. Why do we have sides at all?

There are plenty of people who are not on the Autism Spectrum and plenty who are who already think and believe what I’m about to share but I’m worried that there are people (both) in general who don’t. This hadn’t even occurred to me. 

I want to be sure I make it clear that I do no hate non-autistic people and never have but even joking about how “NTs” and how they don’t understand autistics or similar statements or even jokes about non-autistics are just as harmful or hateful as jokes or discriminatory comments about autistic people. 

There should be no sides. We are all human and to make this a little more concrete or “black and white” thinking, I’m going to drive this home, quite literally, with those terms.

What if the comments that people made (autistic or not) were changed up a bit? What if we removed the words “non autistic” or “autistic” from those jokes or comments and replaced them with the terms “black” and “white” or “gay” and “straight”? 

When what she was sharing finally hit home, my heart dropped. It’s never supposed to be about one side of the human spectrum or the other. Whether we are autistic or non autistic, gay or straight, and no matter the color of our skin- it’s all one big spectrum of various colors, in our sexuality, our physical skin color, and our neurological perspective. 

So what does this mean? It means that there is no turf war. Hate is never okay. I think the hate that occurs develops because we feel this sense self righteous anger towards discrimination but we cannot group people into sides. This is not a war against autistics. Everyone, no matter where they fall on the spectrum in this human race needs to be working towards the same goal of better understanding each other.

If we stop defending our ‘sides’ and instead start asking questions, is there any need to even take a ‘side’? If autistics tweet, post memes, and “preach” about how others need to accept us just the way we are and that is all about loving one another- it’s a two way street. 

We, as a human race, should be respecting each other regardless… because true love does not discriminate and the best way to teach others this mentality has nothing to do with memes or t-shirts. 

We have to lead by example.

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Ganymede – A Poem

The pavement rough

beneath my knees 

I adjust the lens again

& gaze back up above at 

a glittering night sky

these 

sleeping 

eyes 

awaken

I wonder why

I wonder how

I wonder when

Thoughts lost in

a tidal locking orbit

and then –

Like a blast from 1610

a habit’s darkness lifts

As I lean back as

and breathe in –

Seeking my Callisto

a tangible Ganymede

My eyes drift left to right 

But some things

we aren’t meant to know. 

I squint back

into my telescope

Praying to become an

emotional Galileo 

counting moons

collecting constellations

in tattered pockets

to light my journey on.

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Unconditional Love #Autism

I have always wanted to make a difference.

As a child, when I saw another child being bullied, I would sit beside them. I didn’t know how to make friends. To be honest, I’m not sure I ever will but that wasn’t why I sat beside them. I sat beside them because I felt this physical pain when I saw someone else in pain. 

As a teenager, I would do random things like put my spare change on top of pay phones with a note that said “Pay it forward.” I was so determined to simply make a difference in someone else’s life. I was mocked for bringing my Bible to school, bullied for not ever fitting in….My clothes never quite seemed to be good enough. I thought I needed to be popular to have friends as I went from school to school. It never happened and I usually had very few friends. I was wrong in my thinking but I would learn an important lesson later on.

As I got older I looked for ways to do simple acts of kindness. There was something so incredible about seeing joy on someone else’s face. To see them light up. It made me light up too. 

When I graduated from high school I moved to Los Angeles where I saw poverty and felt it just the same. I remember the day I cut up my moving boxes and laid them down on steel springs with a blanket. This was to be my bed for awhile. I started to feel some bitterness but I was still determined. I still tried to find ways to help the less fortunate regardless whether it was handing someone my bus pass on my walk home from work or buying a sandwich for someone pan handling. They didn’t know that I often ate only once a day myself.

There were relationships I endured thinking “What would Jesus do?” I started feeling… tired and I will never forget hitting rock bottom living in a motel in a city I barely knew singing myself to sleep. Although rock bottom seemed like it was to be the norm for awhile.  

That was ten years ago. Let me tell you what I’ve learned since. I just turned twenty nine years old and I wasn’t diagnosed with ASD until I was twenty-three. I still want to make a difference every single day but there was something missing. I had missed the mark somewhere in my journey.

Selflessness and unconditional love are important and were something I believe Jesus wanted us to show others more than anything else but they are lost when you lose sight of self worth. I had forgotten to take care of myself. I had forgotten that I meant something too. I was so consumed with taking care of others, I had forgotten that in order to give back, we first need something to offer. 

This means something different for everyone but to me, this Easter, as I reflect on the Cross, I feel gratitude. I think of how Jesus had nothing Earthly but everything Heavenly to offer every one he met and served. 

For some reason, this year, everywhere I turn people seem to be offering joy back. At first I felt a deep sense of shame. I thought “Why would someone care so much about me?” At first I thought, perhaps…they must pity me. Then I realized that there is something magical about learning to accept joy and love. That it’s not always about offering it. Learning to accept love in return is not an easy task for me and I have a feeling I’m not the only one.

This year…I am letting go of pain and hanging on to love. I still feel dedicated to finding ways to give back but I’m taking the time to absorb and reflect on the many ways others have shown me the same. That’s where my cup fills up. That is what inspires me to keep going.

As most of you know, this month is also Autism Awareness Month, I want to ask you this – when we look at the example we have been given by whichever religion we follow- was there ever a moment where our God (or Gods) ever suggested we should offer anything but compassion for those around us? Were we ever encouraged to judge others for being different? No.

So let us be different but united by what moves us to stand firm and advocate for ourselves or loved ones or both. Let us give back but accept what we are given. Let us find peace in the knowing that our struggles only make us stronger. Let us find that the red, blue, and yellow ribbon is not just an unfinished puzzle, but something that ties us together.

 

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A Jar of Stars – A Poem

Firelight grows and burns

in your tired owl eyes

growing brighter like

splashes of white & golden light

Crackling and bursting

like sparks of an unlocking padlock

Foreshadowing the reveal of 

a lost and almost forgotten garden-

then you laugh//

and I fall back into the moment

as I lean back to study the stars

wishing I could capture the grounding constellations 

in a jar of roots dancing like fireflies

and I reach out slowly//

to hold your hand

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Gratitude

I’ve had some much to say and no words to share it all. As I sit here listening to “Let It Be” by The Beatles, I’m finding some of those words although most details are far too private to share with the world. 

Sometimes life catches you by surprise. 2013 and 2014 were the most challenging years of my life to date but I’m stronger than I was before. I have learned so much about perspective and that despite my need for routine and my dislike of change, it does not negate the need for change at times. I am learning very quickly that sometimes change is actually a good thing.

Coming to the realization that my marriage wasn’t working…and wasn’t going to get better… wasn’t easy. Now, I can look back and see why I held so tightly to the hope that it would…if I just tried harder. After all…isn’t that what most will tell you? Keep trying. Keep pushing. Marriage isn’t easy. 

What I learned is that it’s not about who was in the wrong. It’s not about pointing fingers. It’s about growing and letting go. I went through so many emotions. Anger with myself and them, overflowing moments of sorrow, forgiveness, and then finally it came…peace. 

But this isn’t just about my divorce. I’ve grieved that loss and a couple of others as well. Grief and pain tend to come in multiples and so I had to do a lot of soul searching to find that peace. I will always deal with daily anxiety but I have found some new coping skills to help me deal with it in a healthier way.

I’ve been facing my fears a lot over the last few months. It’s interesting to know that when you stare fear in the face it starts to lose it’s power because there are usually no logical roots to keep it grounded. Stomping out some of those fears has been amazing.

This month marked a brand start for me. I still come face to face with daily challenges but I have found that prayer has become a priority again. I have found my smile again. It’s all about perspective. So instead of living in constant fear I am choosing to focus on gratitude. It’s really that simple.

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Facing Fears

Sometimes we learn life lessons in incredibly unexpected ways. In my recent post about fear I didn’t really expound much on the good that has come from learning about why fear is such a waste of time and useless.

For so long I believed that as long as I remained afraid of things I would never have to face them. It was a huge misunderstanding of a Bible verse I had read so many times over to comfort myself when I felt afraid. That God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle so I figured that if I remained so afraid that I couldn’t handle it…I would never have to face my fears.

It took a long long time to see how cowardly and untrue that concept is. Basically it means that I was choosing to be terrified so that I wouldn’t risk ever being frightened. Looking back it makes absolutely zero sense but it felt like a security blanket and I never really processed what I was doing.

But fear doesn’t kill evil and fear doesn’t stop it. Love does. Love is stronger than any fear. It truly is, as cliche as it may sound to you, the most powerful thing. Doing what is right instead of being a coward sounds so simple. It seems black and white. But it’s not. Not even close.

You know when you finish a book that has a good versus evil theme and your heart is pounding towards the end. Good has to win and evil has to die right? Well, that happened to me today and when that wasn’t exactly what happened..it was more vague…it occurred to me…

Just as mentioned in my previous post, darkness is everywhere. It won’t ever truly be killed or gone. In real life there usually is no good guy versus bad guy. We are all human and we are all flawed. I felt rather distraught about that for a moment but then it dawned on me that THAT isn’t the point…

Love cannot be killed. Love will always win the war even if we lose some battles and THAT is what counts. We learn from out mistakes. If we never made poor choices there would be very little to learn and very little room to grow. What an an amazing thing to learn from something so random.

I love it when that happens. :)

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The Color of Fear

I grew up believing that something was simply right or wrong and that there is nothing in between. But there is: It’s called fear. If darkness is everywhere and light is also everywhere… then fear must have a home along that same spectrum.

We know that fear does not live in the light. It cowers like nothing else in this universe. So analytically speaking, not only does fear itself live in darkness, it is actually a part of it. It has it’s own shade of black that we call gray.

People often confuse fear with religious submission but I can attest to the fact that living in fear for so many years is living in a Hell of your own creation. Fear speaks, it breathes whatever life we offer it, and it lives within all of us. We all face it and we each choose how we will respond.

Fear is very fragile in concept but hard to kill. It’s flimsier than plastic but stronger than steel because we hold onto it so tightly. But if you think about it on a grander scale, on a much grander scale, knowing that it only has the power we allow it, it is really nothing but a dark destructive illusion.

It offers no hope, no joy, nor does it offer happiness. It creates barriers and shreds trust that time has built in a millisecond if we allow it. Fear is not a friend but our greatest enemy. Fear is a monster we create from our scars, from our past, from our pain, and from our own weaknesses. It does not protect us, guide us in a the right direction, nor does not shelter us in any way.

In the end, fear is nothing but a false shade of light…much like a wolf in a sheep suit. But once we stop choosing to live in fear and start living for love, living for hope, and living to give back…the world seems like such a happier place.

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