Conform

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.~ Harry Dixon Loes

 

Here we are again, in the midst of what many consider to be an important time of year. My social media feed is telling me how to wish everyone a wonderful season, in language meant to show respect for every single person’s beliefs. Honestly, I don’t know what the cashier at Walmart believes. Do I risk it by using one of the phrases or just nod my thanks? Social dilemma?

It isn’t just the holidays (oops, that implies Holy Days, which might offend someone). I struggle with all kinds of celebrations. I also struggle with social demands…requests to fit in with a group. I think through thousands of things before I speak. Before I accept or decline. Before I act. It can be quite exhausting.

Conforming is exhausting. Yes, I accept these expectations as part of getting along, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for me. The best thing I can compare this feeling to is the need to have the latest brand of clothing or shoes or to be seen with the “in” crowd. At least you can purchase those things (yes, even the crowd; see celebrities) and blend in. But when you’re wired differently and no one really knows, it’s a huge challenge.

So I don’t always fit in. I’m old enough to get that and live with the fact that I rub some people wrong. I worry about people younger than me who still struggle to conform. There is so much emphasis on fitting in at school, at the store even at church that it’s no wonder parents are getting burned out. There are so many expectations of quiet, well-behaved (yeah, perspective matters) children that just aren’t natural. I grew up with children should be seen and not heard. I learned as a parent that not hearing my kids meant they were up to something….

So, here we are. What to do?  My answer…let your light shine. Together we make up a beautiful portrait of humanity. Sure, we need to respect each other (hence the requirement for conformity), but we don’t need to be exactly alike. Our differences make us stronger as a whole. Let’s teach our kids that being different is okay. Let’s teach our kids that each light is valuable and part of the chain that keeps our paths illuminated.

And for those who wonder…the cashier wished me a blessed day. I wished her a Merry Christmas. I’m not totally clueless…..

 

 

 

New Normal

You know how there are some phrases that just rub you wrong?  Push your buttons? Raise your hackles? Yep, that feeling.

There is no such thing as “the new normal.” For me, life just goes on. Every day brings change. There really never was a “normal” point in my life. I suppose if you used the picket fence, 2.5 kids example as normal….well, not sure what you did with the other half of a kid.

My point is, change brings about more change. Just because your life changes doesn’t mean it’s not normal. It also doesn’t mean it’s going to stop changing, thus my objection to “new.”  It just is. We live in a state of constant change and trying to label that is just an exercise in futility.

Instead, try living. Stop trying to pin labels on everything and everybody. While it is human nature to want to categorize things, labels are pretty meaningless in reality. Live. Love. Let go.

No, Really?

In the business world, they use the acronym “subject matter expert” or SME to describe a person who seems to know a lot about a particular topic. But what about outside the business world?

Take parenting. I’ve successfully launched three young adults on their chosen career paths. Twenty-one years of parenting does provide a certain level of expertise, at least about my own children. I have to keep my chortles to myself when I read about women who have these absolutely perfect ideas about bringing a tiny human into this world. I remember being one of them…21 years ago. I have since learned, as many of us do, that things rarely go as planned.

Doctors are another group that doesn’t seem to think anyone except them could be a SME. I live with my multiple disease processes. Every. Single. Day. I didn’t learn about them in a semester long class. I didn’t write a research paper or capstone project. Actually, I might have done the equivalent trying to learn about the 1:50,000 occurrence rate diseases (translated: rare) that no one seems to know how to deal with. But even with that knowledge about a single disease, I still have to consider what domino effect is triggered in my body when one of them acts up. So, yes, I am a SME on myself. Don’t look at me like that….when you live waiting for the other shoe to drop because you know it eventually will because you have studied everything available to you so you can educate others…yes, that’s a fair assessment.

Yes, it absolutely is hard not to laugh sometimes. I struggle to keep a straight face as I watch people learn about life’s curveballs and see their surprised expressions in photographs when the plan changes. Maybe it’s mean, rude or otherwise unkind. I really do try not to do it out loud. I call it controlling my inner snark.

And I apologize in advance if you catch me with a little grin sometimes.

Make Me

How many times have you heard or said this taunt? I know I say things along these lines. I’ve done it for as long as  I remember…Eat your vegetables! Make me! Clean your room! Make me! Take out the trash! Make me!

Almost every time, the words are said out of anger or frustration. It’s like reaching the point of no return and digging in your heels. Challenging someone to force you to do something you have no desire to do. I dare you…make me do this.

Getting boxed  into a corner brings out this phrase. Not being able to process a situation brings this out. Not comprehending how far along that path someone has already traveled also leads to this type of confrontation. At some point, communication just breaks down and, well, make me.

I honestly can’t think of a single person I’m around on a regular basis that hasn’t gone into make me mode at some point. I believe that most of these confrontations resolve with some space and maybe a time out. But what if they don’t? What happens when someone decides to dig in and truly make you do something?

You have a choice. Recognize the confrontation for what it is. Understand that the other person has reached their point of no return. Step back. Breathe. It’s not easy to do in the heat of the moment. I get that. Sometimes my sense of “justice” demands that I dig in as well. When that happens, let’s just say that there’s smoke behind me from the bridge I just burned.

Sometimes, you do have to be the person who gives a little. Sometimes, you are the person demanding a little. Either way, you’re much more effective if you step back from “make me.” That’s a challenge. It riles people up. And resolving things is much more difficult when people are riled up.

Your challenge: Breathe. Pause. Regroup. Be respectful. Evaluate your options. Keep in mind that what you feel is right may be the other person’s point of no return. Work to improve communication so you don’t run into “make me” moments. Trust me, it’s much less stressful to pause than it is to get caught up in the heat of the moment .

Asperger’s Syndrome’s missing trait

oystersandlife:

I know girls are wired differently than boys. Most of the Autism studies used males for their subjects. I personally have distinct memories of not being like my peers starting in Kindergarten. By high school, it was very obvious.

Originally posted on seventhvoice:

best-life-quote_325404-4 There are many websites, blogs and books that provide lists of traits that are purportedly said to be the common signs of Asperger’s Syndrome in Females.

However, each and every one of these lists has a tendency to focus exclusively on the outward signs of Asperger’s Syndrome in women.

Signs like:

‘difficulties with social interaction’,

‘dislike of small talk’,

‘poor co-ordination’,

‘fixation on special interests’,

‘preference for spending time alone’

I‘m sure by now we are all nauseatingly familiar with the above list of symptoms.

Perhaps we’ve even become so familiar with these lists that we’ve stopped looking for the traits that have been missed.

Well here’s a trait that continues to remain unlisted, although I cannot for the life of me understand why this should be so, as it is a trait that has been mentioned over and over again, by every woman with Asperger’s Syndrome that I’ve ever…

View original 326 more words

Scars

There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with. ~ Harry Crews

I led an active life for many years. I’m looking at my hands as I type this, noting the rabbit bite, the parrot bite, the scar from a broken wrist and the dog bites. Multiple kitchen accidents are also seen in the white marks on my hands. There’s the slightly twisted finger from when I ruptured a tendon. There’s also the “writer’s dent” from firmly holding pens and pencils over the years. Reminders, every one. Little memories that usually make me smile, because they remind me of things I loved.

Now there are also medical scars. IV puncture marks. Ghostly outlines from where tape was applied and carelessly removed. The two 3″ long angry red scars from my implanted ports. The raised keloids from so many surgeries. They also tell a story. These scars illustrate what I’ve gone through to get here. The pain and struggles that most people know nothing about because I keep them hidden.

I hide other scars too. I’ve been and still am bullied. I have flashbacks to not so pleasant experiences. There are some parts of my mind that I consider dark recesses. I think of my mind as a large closet, with each memory tucked away in a box. Some boxes I keep sealed in many layers of tape. Others I gleefully open on a daily basis.

All these scars are part of me. I’m not ashamed of any of them. To me, there is no difference between a scar acquired from a physical injury and one acquired by an emotional injury. They both remind me of how much I’ve grown and changed over the years.

Don’t be afraid of scars. Everyone has at least one.

 

It’s a People Thing

This week brought 12 unfriendings, 3 really awful comments to be deleted and a need to start censuring posts. I’m reminded that what I put on the Internet takes on a life of its own that I have zero control over. I guess we all need a reminder every once in a while.

The unfriendings happened for several reasons. The most common reason was a comment I made (as well as a blog entry) supporting police officers. Not dismissing recent events. Not shaming or blaming. Just stating that police officers are our thin blue line that keeps us safe. Suddenly, I’m a racist pig. I’m a 1% who could never understand struggle. I believe that the victims are completely at fault. Literally, my social media blew up in my face.

The second most common reason is a post about World AIDS day, which was December 1. About 6 people  informed me that I was going to hell. A few others took it upon themselves to point out that December is the month of Christmas and how dare I bring up such an un-Christian topic. And yet a few more condemned my efforts to raise awareness about a disease that affects a broad spectrum of society. I was told that AIDS doesn’t deserve research dollars because there are  other diseases that people didn’t “bring on themselves.”

Truth? Your attitude shows me your true colors. Anyone who has actually met me will tell you I get along with 99% of the people I meet. They’ll tell you my personal space is comfortable for them. It’s a no judgment zone. They can tell me anything because I listen and empathize. Yes, I have the things I feel passionate about. Yes, I have opinions about politics, religion and even justice. I’m human just like you.

However, I don’t believe my opinions are the end of discussions. I don’t believe my ideas are superior to anyone else’s. I don’t believe that we all have to be passionate about the same things. I certainly don’t believe that I must shove my beliefs in your face.

So, to those who can’t see the hurt they are causing, I hope one day you realize that causing pain doesn’t accomplish anything. To those who feel they must take sides and polarize communities, I wish for understanding. To those who carry deep passion, I hope your love can extend to those who may not see your vision.

This isn’t about politics, ethnicity, religion or equality. It’s about people. It’s about accepting that we all feel differently about events and we all respond differently to actions. It is about trying to understand each other better so we can close gaps and cross bridges. It’s about seeing past our own perspective to learn what other people see.

Your challenge: Step outside your zone. Not your comfort zone, but the one where the people around you all feel similarly about things. Look at where you live and try to understand your community from a different perspective. Take the time to think about what you’re going to say and how it could impact others. These few gestures won’t take much of your time and the insight you gain and then share makes a difference.