Patiently, She Waits

Untangled

She’s not
a creature
invisible
Nobody with no-body
She’s the inner child

She’s not
unloveable
disposable
forgettable
She’s the little girl inside

She’s there
waiting
visible
huggable

She’s there
quietly, patiently longing
to become part of the whole
Somebody with a-body

She’ll wait
She’s listening
If you whisper
you’ll feel her smile
when you touch your heart.

©Alexis Rose. Image Source, Pexels

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

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The Mustard Seed By Kimberly Gerry Tucker

Originally published on The Art of Autism. https://the-art-of-autism.com/the-mustard-seed/

The children who visit me always ask to look for treasures with me. I am more than happy to oblige. I have shoe boxes filled with treasures: sparkly rocks, cracked hollow geodes, rocks shaped by nature like hearts, and the odd sterling silver half dollar; among other things. Given my attachment to objects (which is gargantuan) I have a difficult time parting with such things as trinkets, things found on the ground in parking lots and even bureaus, end tables and the like. The time usually comes to toss things out and I know this. But I’m what my aunt used to refer to as an “odd duck.” For example, if I get a new gadget (let’s say an electric can opener), I can’t use it immediately. I’ll place it in its new assigned spot on the counter and then for a week or so, I acclimate my presence to it by glancing at it peripherally. Eventually it’s a routine object and I use it.

Perfectly normal, right? 😊 I don’t do normal. As an Aspergers woman who happens to have selective mutism AND anxiety, my anxiety sometimes gets the best of me. Special interests help, of course- they help me re-energize, kind of like recharging a flickering brain. The digital painting I did here of the lady with crows has helped quell some anxiety which I realized was getting the best of me when I stepped into the bathtub the other day, and had an irrational fear it would crash through the floor and into the basement with me in it! Treasure hunts calm me, too.

I collect a lot of stuff so when I rediscover something it’s always fun. But I do throw things away when I have to. Letting go is as hard though. To ease the mourning of parting with an object, I often throw out broken or old bureaus for example, in the neighborhood free bulk pickup-and then I keep the drawers for a while. After maybe ten years or less, I either have repurposed the drawers or I finally am able to throw them out. One bureau I used to own was acquired from my (first male!) fifth grade teacher, and this is because my mother worked at a school and bought it from him…Some of you may be familiar with that red bearded teacher of mine if you have read the Chapter called “Eraser Balls” in my memoir. For many years I owned that teacher’s bureau… but I’m digressing.

Anyway, this bureau became shot to hell after years of use. It was second hand when my mother bought it; after all. It had seven tiny drawers with white knobs along the top under the big mirror which I just couldn’t part with. I still have these little drawers lined up; one atop the other, balanced on a shelf inside my room (and filled with who knows what).

There are times I feel like snooping for treasures and when the weather gets colder as it is here in the east just now, I partake in treasure hunts. After all, if I find a tiny bell, a wee knit cap pilfered from a broken stuffed toy, or a round piece of styrofoam- (all are things I have ‘found’ stashed away) these can be repurposed into holiday ornaments which I am compelled to make every year. Every treasure has a story and indeed I could fill blog entry after blog entry on just that topic of ‘things’ alone.

My mother and I were always good at repurposing found or saved things. In Girl Scouts my mother was the leader, and along with thinking up crafts for us girls, she felt it was also her job as my mother to immerse me in things that might socialize me (Fail)… So the pill bottle necklaces came about. Someone had the idea to put various baubles, colorful beads and shiny things inside plastic pill bottles (with the labels removed of course- the bottles were always amber-colored back then) and then melt them in toaster ovens. You can watch the melting process through the toaster oven door’s window. (What a terrible odor however, this activity must be done with an extension cord leading outside with the toaster oven placed on a picnic table-that’s how we did it). When the plastic is still hot and pliable, a needle can be poked through it, in order to make it into a necklace. Apparently, people still do this because I found this very craft on Pinterest.

I was on a hunt for forgotten things in my home when I found this little mustard seed suspended inside a cracked heart which once had a neck chain attached, I assume. I vaguely recognized it as being something my mother once owned. This prompted me to look up the story of the mustard seed. Turns out it is a religious parable:

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches.”

The parable refers to the black mustard plant, specifically. I found this long forgotten mustard seed in one of my little drawers pictured earlier in the post. (not the fingers; I mean I found this trinket). I admit it; I’m a border/hoarder… My mother; she was a full out hoarder (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but I’m just a borderline hoarder (thus the term border/hoarder.) As such, I often come upon things in the back of one of my closets; cheap plastic shopping bags full of ‘tangled necklaces or quartz rocks or antique wooden rulers with cute pictures on them;’ hanging there on hooks behind well-worn garments. Garments I will wear again when I lose more weight…

I do love objects and I never know what I’ll find on my treasure hunts. I’m not at all super-religious but I like the mustard seed parable, which you have probably heard before. The tiny seed becomes the biggest tree, big enough for birds to perch within it. I look at my mother’s old mustard seed necklace sans chain, my mother who has now passed away, and I’m glad I saved this. It makes me think of tiny things that become larger. Like kindness. Or my random little thoughts. Because I am quiet, I have always thought I should have a sign on my forehead: “Thoughts and ideas may be bigger than they appear.”

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” – Napoleon Hill

***

Kimberly Gerry Tucker is author of Under The Banana Moon. She lives in Connecticut with her fiancé, a dog, and two cats. Kim’s art was chosen for the cover of Samantha Craft’s (2nd printing) book Everyday Aspergers (Nov. 2018). Her most recent publication was in the anthology, Firsts-Coming of Age Stories by People With Disabilities by Belo Cipriani. She arts every day.

Random Thoughts: A Motion through Power and Other Things

My Joyous Feature

There’s that motion through our physical structure and psyche. A motion within can lead up into a more potent moment. Feeling like there’s these true feelings rising beneath every solution. Finding that mindless way to understand these qualities of life. Life shall take it farther ahead.

A genuine power shall open up into that simplest pleasure. Carrying on that much better situation. Making it against that much powerful meaning. There’s that piece of life that can bring up that creative movement. A creative movement shall take forward in a strong meaningful way. It’s feeling like a lot more candid about it.

Sometimes a powerful moment can rise up throughout those simple delights. Climbing up into every detail. Feeling like there’s that secret pattern going around. A powerful meaning can find it very strong to overpower things. Things that can be more like an improvement.

Wisdom can take on every problem…

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What Would You Suggest?

Untangled

I have the privilege of presenting to a  Human Services class at a local college in a couple of weeks.  I’m extremely grateful and also honored to be asked to talk to these students, because some of them may become (or already are) professionals in the mental health field. I’m determined to help destigmatize mental illness, particularly PTSD, by speaking and writing openly about living with this disorder.

I’ll be talking about the definition of PTSD, some common symptoms, how I’m able to live a full, and purposeful life, even though I sometimes still struggle with multiple symptoms, resources, etc.

I’m really excited about two topics that I have been asked to address during my presentation.

  • What to say and/or not to say to someone with PTSD (or mental illness)?
  • How professionals can better help people who they work with? 

I definitely have my ideas, but I thought about how wonderfully…

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Saint Thorlak, Patron Saint of Autism; Our Spiritual Directions, guest post by Aimee O’Connell

Reposted from https://www.mission-of-saint-thorlak.com/mission-activities/missionary-thought-for-the-week-of-october-22-2018-our-spiritual-directions

A funny thing happened during our August hiatus here at the Mission of Saint Thorlak. A flurry of “Contact Us” forms began coming in from different regions of the world, surprisingly all from people seeking spiritual direction. The timing of this coming during our inventory clearly pointed to this being a theme needing to be addressed, and so we started doing our homework in our weeks off. Where might we look to assist teens and adults who have real and relevant questions about how to better experience God, both personally and as part of their faith communities?

Bottom line: There is not much out there.

(Yet.)

There are several options for social stories and manipulatives which younger children may use and bring with them to church services. There are growing numbers of churches offering “sensory-friendly” services or worship spaces to help accommodate those who need quieter or more kinetic space. But what is there to help the autistic older children and adults who seek to comprehend the spiritual purpose for coming to church in the first place?

One adult who contacted us has graciously permitted us to quote her requests directly. Her words describe the need much better than we could summarize.

“God doesn’t make sense to me and I can’t get a good impression of how he thinks. I don’t understand all of the abstract/metaphorical ways that people try to explain him. It goes right through my brain without finding anything to stick to. Emotional appeals hold no weight for me because they are generally not based on reason. Emotions are not a sound basis for making decisions.

It is very discouraging to keep running into solid walls when I try over and over to learn what I’m supposed to know about God. I lack many of the puzzle pieces that I need to make it work. You don’t think he would hold that against me, do you? I would like to think he doesn’t but I’ve never been sure.

I would be extremely appreciative of faith formation resources for autistic adults. I have only found the ones for children so far and they were not useful for someone with more complex thought processes. I am desperate to know the reasoning behind most aspects of Catholicism.

Here are some of the areas I struggle with:

1. Who is God? What does he want? What are my obligations to him and other people? Does he have any obligations toward me? Can I trust him?

2. Do I matter to God as an individual, or do I only matter because of the ways I could help others?

3. Why doesn’t God fix at least some of the things that are wrong in the world? I understand that he would not be able to change the results of everyone’s actions due to free will, but why doesn’t he help more? How could leaving the bad things in place be worthwhile?

4. If God isn’t planning to fix things here, can he heal people after they die from the things that happened when they were alive?

5. Is God a part of my normal life? If yes, what is he doing? Why can’t I tell?

Concepts-

1. The language of Catholicism is not understandable to me. I don’t know if this is an issue for me only or if others share it. Example: I have no idea what “fullness” or “opening hearts” mean. I get incredibly frustrated when I can’t figure out what certain words or phrases are intended to convey.

2. The Crucifixion. I cannot understand how that benefitted anyone. In addition, I am a nurse. I can picture the physical effects of the process in excruciating detail (not a pun- it is extremely distressing). I have not been able to accept that. The fact that it was voluntary has not changed how I feel.

3. Heaven- It is supposed to be the best thing, but how could I work toward or hope for something that I can’t picture? It sounds like it’s full of people and like I would have to completely change myself to belong there. How is that practical or possible?

4. Saints- The stories about them all make them seem kind of crazy. I do not want to do crazy things or things that result in harm to myself. ”

Wow. This is just one person!

Other dilemmas that have been brought to us concern relationships with difficult people and how to reconcile the need for healthy boundaries with Christian teachings. Still others have shared deep pain about participating in the Catholic sacraments. Verbal limitations are a huge obstacle to the sacrament of Confession, for instance, where the normal expectation is to speak directly to the priest. The matter of anxiety and scruples just complicates things all the more. It seems to be random luck as to whether or not a parish has a priest who is familiar enough with autism to know how to comfortably address these practical issues among those who think, feel and experience life as people with autism. Furthermore, the majority of spiritual teachings not only defy ordinary logic, but they tend to evoke emotions which people on the spectrum process differently than most others. If we are missing bricks in our foundational experiences of our faith, we have all the more difficulty grasping what these practices are supposed to look like and feel like.
The most ordinary daily processes are already more difficult to master, more deliberately studied, more cautiously approached and less obviously understood for autistic people than nonautistic people. Something as abstract – and so very, very serious – as faith is easily brushed aside as one of the optional things in life that we might get to if we can solve all those other, ordinary things first.

Well: If it’s optional, then, what about those of us who opt to pursue it?

Besides those already named, here are some more topics that could use better, more concrete explanations:

Forgiveness
Mercy
Suffering
“Offer it up”
Reparation for sin
What we are supposed to get from attending Mass
The Communion of Saints
The afterlife
Prayer
Martyrdom
What we are supposed to do/feel during the ordinary week
Why the liturgy follows the order it does
Humility
How to feel like homilies relate to us, individually
How to pay attention at Mass

The longer the list, the more it resembles some sort of “Catechism for Autism”… and, the more we realize that there really could be such a thing, one day, if anyone takes the time to compile such a resource: an explanation of the faith, using words and examples and suggestions for accommodations to make spirituality more accessible for those who desire it but cannot yet grasp it.

Someone has to start somewhere.

Shall we?
Pray: Heavenly Father, let there be a way we can better know You!

Contemplate: What are the areas of our spirituality that pose the greatest difficulty in our connecting with God and others?

Relate: Ask others these same questions, and realize they are more common than we might have first thought.

#MyVoteCounts Why it is important for autistic people to vote

Today, across Ontario, municipal elections are taking place. The CBC vote compass http://votecompass.com gives suggestions on who you may want to vote for, based on a series of optional questions that can be filled out. I would also recommend visiting the candidate’s websites.

Art by Nicole Corrado

Tomorrow, June 7th, 2018, many people in Ontario will be heading out to the polls to vote for Members of Provincial Parliament, and a Premier.  One group of people who are often overlooked in the election are autistic people, and people with other developmental differences.  When not enough people from these demographics do not vote, their voices are often ignored.

Anyone who is at least 18 years old on Election Day, a citizen of Canada, and a resident of Ontario can vote in this election, regardless of difference or diagnostic label.

Information on the Ontario election can be found at Elections Ontario’s website.

To find candidates in your riding (local area), follow this link.

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That Heart of Mind

My Joyous Feature

A perfect touch will melt through the heart. Having that perfect sense to cherish something. Something that can tag along with a pure essence. That pure heart can balance out a soul of life. Feeling like there’s that strong power to follow things through.

Essence along with mind and soul can balance out that caring moment. A mind will think of the affection. Finding it more than just a bittersweet delight. The soul can be like a liveliness to the heart. Mind and soul can cherish the core at a complete moment.

Throughout the center from the joys of everyone, there’s a brighter moment. A moment that can feel more like a smile. A smile that can demand over that key moment. Opening that lock to a lovely heart. Letting it shine to the brightest.

There’s secrets of the heart. Appearing through the mirror and there’s a reflection. A reflection…

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