December 2012

Blogging help

Calling all well-established bloggers (or, any blogger at all). I need help. I so  badly want this blog to keep going, to become SOMETHING, to (maybe) one day go public with it and tell the world who I am, and share it with colleagues and loved ones. But in order to do that, I want to establish it more. I want it to be something believe in, something people feel is worth checking, not something where there is a post every month when I get brave enough.

I know I can’t write every day, and I probably can’t commit to every other day. But I do know I could aim for at least twice a week. Is that good enough, or not? Will people read it?

And how do I decide what’s worth writing and what’s not? Should I focus on one theme? Keep this mismash that I have going on? Should I turn it more professional, keep it more personal, or both?

Do I make a schedule for myself about what to write when, or just let it happen?

Please, please, please, any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated!

New Year’s

I dislike all of the hoopla around New Year’s. I’ve never enjoyed the forced partying of New Year’s Eve. Everywhere I go, the question is, “What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?!” When I was in high school and college, and didn’t embrace my quirky and true self, I would desperately work with my friends to create a fabulous party, where there would be guys and girls and lots of alcohol. Just so I had stories to share after. Just so I didn’t feel “left out.” Left out from what, I don’t really know. But I desperately wanted to do everything everyone else was doing, so that I belonged. No, so that I FELT as though I belonged. Whether or not I did was moot.

So there was that.

I dislike how New Year’s forces everyone to talk about the passage of time, something that already stresses me out enough as it is. I know that days are slipping away faster than I can hold onto them; I don’t need an entire 24 hours devoted to that.

But most of all, I dislike the idea of “resolutions.” I believe in goal-setting. But I hate how everyone waits until January 1st to try to better themselves. Anyone can make a change in their life at any moment of any day. Waiting until the new year seems like a cop-out. And more than that, it sets us up for failure. Inevitably, come February, people already start talking about how they broke their resolutions, so they’ll just have to wait until the next year. WHY?

The moment is now. The time is here. Do it now. Time is precious and there is little to waste. If something needs to be changed, altered, spoken, or created, do it now.

Toward the light

Today, the day that everyone complains about being the shortest day of the year, is one of my most favorite days all year.

Today is the Winter Solstice. The day is short and dark. But starting today, we start turning toward the light. Starting today, we gain a minute of light each day. Despite the cold of winter, and the dreary days, we are ultimately moving in the right direction. Toward light, toward hope, toward peace.

I love today.

Embracing my quirky self

I really like myself.

I didn’t always like myself.

In fact, I think it’s only in the past two-three years that I really started liking myself.

It’s funny, in a sad way. I spent all of high school and college trying to act “normal” and “cool,” so that people wouldn’t think I was weird, or odd, or different. Consequently, anytime I did ANYTHING, I panicked over how I was perceived about it. So it became a lose-lose situation. And I firmly believe that positivity and confidence is attractive and magnetic, so the opposite was certainly repelling and unappealing. It’s not a coincidence to me that I met the love of my life (and the first and only guy I have ever truly dated) once my self-confidence skyrocketed and I started loving myself. Nor is it a coincidence that my generalized anxiety and panic attacks settled down once I started liking myself. It’s funny — all the work we do to “protect” ourselves just makes it worse in the end.

But now, I embrace my weirdness. I am quirky and I LOVE that. I love laughing at myself. I say what’s on my mind, I say weird things, I make people giggle. I let my students laugh at me when I sing during a therapy session or do something completely embarrassing. It helps them see that I’m human. And maybe it’ll help them feel more comfortable laughing at themselves, too.

I love my sensitivities, even when they make life tricky for me. I love my quirks, my ruminations, my intuition. I don’t pretend to enjoy going to clubs or bars anymore. I don’t pretend to enjoy things I don’t like. I tell it like it is. I’m honest with myself and others about my likes, dislikes, interests, fears. I’m real. I really just love myself. And that’s not to say I’m happy all of the time, because I’m not. But happiness and self-love can be separate things. I can love myself and also be sad sometimes. And that’s okay.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Everyone is blogging about Newtown, and while I love reading all the blog posts, I know that many people have no desire to read the same thing over and over again. So, let me cut to the chase.

I am hearing, from so many people on the news, via blogs, in real life, “It’s so awful,” and “Something needs to change.” Yes. I agree. COMPLETELY. However, it’s starting to frustrate me. These people aren’t frustrating me. Their desire for change isn’t frustrating me. The whole situation, the whole world, the whole everything is what’s frustrating to me. Because change isn’t happening. And people are all talk, but on a larger scale, nothing is happening. That statement, I realize, will rub a lot of people the wrong way. So please know I am not saying that I don’t recognize the bravery and the motivation and the determination of so many people.

And co-workers and loved ones, who are only doing their very best to help, are seeing these events totally destroy me, and are saying things like, ” This is why we have to life every day to its fullest,” or “You need to stop thinking about it, it’ll keep upsetting you.” And that’s really frustrating, too. Because is the solution honestly to not think about it? Or just go about our lives hoping we continue to be as fortunate as we are? That’s part of the problem! That people push hard thoughts and feelings and memories away in the hopes that they will disappear. But they don’t. And they come back stronger than ever.

It’s not to say that there shouldn’t be a balance. All of the above comments and statements are legitimate and necessary. It’s just that we need that balance. Between saying and doing. Between acknowledging and changing.

Does this make sense at all, to anyone? Or do I just sound like a heartless human being? (Aka my biggest fear. In the world. That if I speak my mind, people won’t understand what I mean, and they’ll think I’m insensitive.)

Lack of understanding or something else?

I love Social Thinking. I’m all for it. I’ve been trained in it for years, both of my jobs involve it on a daily basis, I’ve seen what it can do for kids with autism or various other diagnoses. That being said, I need to make one point clear, one that some people either overlook or don’t understand. And let me preface this by saying that I am not talking about kids with autism who are nonverbal, who have little functional communication, who are on the far end of the spectrum. I’m talking about the more middle-to-higher communicative kids. Okay.

We teach “Thinking with our eyes,” and “Keep your brain in the group” and all of the other wonderful catch phrases. And once they catch on, they work wonders. But sometimes they are not going to work. Sometimes, no matter how long you’ve worked on that skill, your autistic student is not going to “think with their eyes” and look at you while you’re in a conversation with him. Sometimes, no matter how many times you explain that it’s unexpected to blurt out a random thought, she is still going to blurt. It’s not (necessarily) because s/he doesn’t understand that skill.

Some of it has to do with processing. For that first student, it’s possible that his brain is overloaded. Maybe he has a language disorder as well and lags behind in receptive or expressive communication. Maybe, his brain is trying so desperately to listen to what you’re saying, understand it, remember it, and formulate the “expected” response that there is just no more availability for his brain to ALSO look at you, visually process what you look like, what your mouth movements look like, AND do all of those other skills. For the second student, maybe her working memory skills aren’t so solid. Maybe she doesn’t know (as one of my students was able to explain to me — changed the way I thought about this entirely) how to “keep thoughts from coming down to her mouth” and “keep them in her brain until later.” Maybe, as this student also explained to me, she hasn’t learned how to “save a thought in her mind” so that she can “remember it later.” Maybe her blurting isn’t her not caring about expected behaviors, but maybe it has to do with the fact that her brain sent that thought down to her mouth, and her mouth needs to say the five-word script from a commercial in order for her to move on. And maybe, as is in the case with my student, if you let it happen but get her right back on track, it’s actually more productive and beneficial. Or maybe that student’s brain is so disorganized, and there are so many scripts and facts and thoughts floating around, that if she doesn’t say that thought right away, she will forget it forever, and she desperately wants you to hear how important it is to her. So maybe the solution isn’t to berate the individual for being “unexpected” during class, but rather, say, “We can talk about that at the end of class, I’ll write it down so I remember for you,” and get right back to the lesson.

PLEASE don’t get me wrong. Social Thinking is incredible. But it’s not a full-proof solution for every moment of every day. Sometimes, we need to go with our intuition. To put ourselves in these kids’ shoes (which I realize is easier for some than others — I happen to believe that while I fall on the “typical” side of the continuum, I am close enough to the point where “autism” begins that I understand a lot about these kids intuitively) and think, “Is there a reason this isn’t working, other than because they can’t do it?” And maybe you’ll be surprised.

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