Aloof

I few days ago, someone told me I was disconnected from a certain situation. I’ve spent some time (as usual) pondering this and why it was said. And I’ve contemplated the past few months and a few other situations where my reaction was apparently not what was expected. Guess what? You could call me aloof.

That doesn’t mean I don’t care. It doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. It doesn’t mean I’m unaware of a situation.

It does mean that I express my feelings differently than others. It means what you see may not be what I feel. Think about the saying of still waters run deep.

And please, stop trying to fit me into your perspective. It’s yours and you are welcome to it. My perspective is just as valid and just as meaningful. We just see things differently.

Aloof is a nifty word. Cool, casual, unruffled. Just don’t mistake it for disconnected.

Semantics

There’s a discussion going on about how a person should be addressed in this age of fluid labeling. Gone are the labels of Ms. Mrs. and Mr. How old-fashioned!

Now I have to make sure that I’m not offending someone by referring to “that girl” or “this boy.” I though I could go with “child” but apparently some people prefer “offspring” and thus, I am offending that group.

Heaven forbid I use clothing as a way to describe a person. The “girl” with the pink shirt might prefer to be called “individual.” The “boy” in the pink shirt might not be happy with “boy” as a descriptor either. He seems to prefer “man.”

In the Autism (there I go again!) community, people are both claiming and denying the labels. Personally, I go by Autistic. One of my children prefers Aspie. The other prefers no one knows. Then there are the “people with Autism” who are all in with the person first language. Me, well, I’ve been a person longer than I have identified with Autism.  The order of your speech doesn’t affect my life.

But your attitude does. How you treat me does. How you speak with me does. Your words tell me how you feel/believe. Be kind.

Ask me if you don’t know and are worried about offending me. I’ll tell you. Not everyone is as open about their lives, so some may consider your question intrusive. I think the majority will be grateful you asked.

Chemistry

It’s been awhile. Crazy thing called life. Three graduations and a birthday later, I now find time to write again. And today’s topic….precipitate.

You see, some blockhead on a social media site is spouting that very tired line of if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  It’s neat, tidy sayings like this that made Zig Zigler a billionaire. But, in everyday life, they are cop outs. Sound bites designed to make you feel good about buying into someone else’s philosophies. Literally, paying to let someone think for you.

People like that make me very happy to have a different perspective on life. I know I’m changing the things I can, usually for the better. I don’t need someone else to hand me my words or even justify my actions. Honestly, you should feel good about your decisions. I’m not talking about second guessing yourself, because, well, that’s what we all do. I’m talking about using your own words to express your own thoughts.

But wait, each statement is (in American English) is just a different combination of 26 letters. Therefore, it is not unique. Ohhhhh…another sound bite!

The blockhead continued to use sound bites to “argue” something. The part that um, upset me, is the assumption of stupidity on my behalf. Oh, and all the clichés. The prattling on about how someone who has experience with disabilities would know better. The assumption that all disabilities are equal. And, the coup d’état, that their voice speaks for all people with disabilities. Can you say “drink the Kool Aid?”

There are all these nifty sound bites out there that make people feel like they sound intelligent. There’s also a whole vocabulary that is politically correct, even if those being described don’t agree with the terminology. And the people who think they are being helpful for “supporting the agenda” when in fact, they only make things worse. Sometimes, no support is better than “holier than thou” support.

There you have it. I guess I’m a precipitate because I didn’t buy into the sound bites. If you have any doubt about my involvement in speaking up and out, feel free to read further into the blog. I’ve been writing for almost 2 years now. I believe you’ll find that while I’ve softened some of my stances, I’m still talking about the things that matter to me. I don’t need a sound bite to validate me.

Here’s your sound bite….if you’re not part of the solution, you are the precipitate..

 

 

 

Ivory Tower

Once again, a city finds itself engulfed in flames. Once again I hear the argument that people riot because it’s the only way they get heard. Once again, I am told I can’t possibly understand because I’m white.

Once again, people are trying to justify violence against people who have done nothing except open a business in an area that needed the services. Once again, thousands of dollars worth of damage is done to public safety vehicles. Once again, officers ended up injured.

Once again, people will rally to destroy their city. Once again, others will state we must stand in solidarity with those who feel oppressed. Once again, we hear that curfews will not stop the message of outrage.

I ask this. How long will people continue to believe the “race card” is a valid reason to destroy one’s neighborhood, loot stores and destroy the very equipment they count on to come save their lives? How much longer until people look around and see that while poverty exists, burning businesses won’t help lift anyone up. How much longer will it take for people to understand that parts of our global community make do with far less and are still considered successful?

Oh yes, you can say I live in an ivory tower. That I have no idea what oppression feels like. That since I’ve never “lived it” I have no room to talk. Well, courtesy of that great invention called the television as well as 24 hour news, I can see for myself what’s happening. I saw a mother so disgusted with her son’s action that she went to the riot location and dragged him away. I can see the pictures of people passing out cold water and juice to the first responders protecting their neighborhood. I can see people cleaning up after a night of vandalism, with nothing to gain except reclaiming their neighborhood. I can see hard-working individuals attempting to preserve their property in the face of random acts of violence.

I heard the pleas of Freddie Grey’s family to stop the violence. I listened to the family as they publicly told people that rioting was not the way to seek justice. They called for calm amidst the rioting. The family asked many times for people to just stop. The pleas fell on deaf ears and another city burned.

You know nothing of me and the trials I face everyday. You think prejudice only “belongs” to certain ethnic groups or socio-economic statuses. You are wrong. What you don’t see are the groups who work diligently to eradicate prejudice across society by working tirelessly to secure basic human rights for all. You don’t see the countless hours spent by people working to shed light on injustices in their cities…not by rioting but by educating. You don’t see the organizations feeding our hungry and sheltering our homeless. You don’t see the thousands of people working to improve living conditions for all.

You don’t see this because riots are sensational. Because we buy into sensationalism instead of sensibility. We ignore the good that is happening around us in favor of elevating the things that feed the news.

Nepal suffered a major earthquake with thousands dead or missing. A devastating landslide wiped out a major national park in Nepal. Both events barely received a mention on the news. The immediate aid that was sent by many countries had a scant 15 seconds of air time last night. Neighbors helping neighbors was drowned out by violence here in the United States.

No wonder people think the worst will happen. Our gloomy view of the world is actually a heavy cloud seeded by lust for so-called justice. It is no secret that people around the world look at the United States and wonder what the hell is going on over here. Everyone has problems. People are suffering everywhere. And yet, people in the US burn the things that help them. Any ideas on how grateful the Nepalese people would be to have a functional pharmacy right now? You can bet they wouldn’t be burning it to the ground.

To those who say there is no comparison, you may be right. How does a natural disaster compare to a riot. Well, they don’t. A man-made disaster is exactly that….man made. We brought this mess upon ourselves. The reasons can be stated in many ways, but we did this to ourselves. Now we need to dig ourselves out.

I’m done apologizing for the past. My “ancestors” were never a part of what the “oppression” that keeps getting  tossed out as a reason for destroying neighborhoods. The past is just that…past. Start looking forward and let go of whatever you believe is holding you back. If people half a world away can pull themselves up from the rubble of natural disaster, there is no reason people in the United States can’t stop their rioting long enough to appreciate that destroying their neighborhoods doesn’t serve any purpose.

 

Shame

I’d bet many of you know how shame feels. Probably from both the receiving and giving sides. Sometimes it’s unintentional, like when you say a blooper. Sometimes it’s purposeful, such as when you scold a child. Either way, shame hurts.

I have some quirky habits that make it possible for me to experience shame on an almost daily basis. My speech is an easy target. Sometimes I use vocabulary that doesn’t fit the conversation. Other times my speech is affected by a medical condition. Regardless, at least one person per day makes a comment that shames me.

April is Autism Acceptance month. You may be wondering what shame and Autism have in common. Quite a bit, actually.  If you buy into the rhetoric of a certain organization, Autistics need to be cured. How can I not feel shame when people are publicly promoting the idea that I’m defective because of my differences? How do family members feel when onlookers critique their loved ones? Shame.

Shame can lead to desperation. Feelings of worthlessness surface. Feelings of failure. Feelings of inadequacy. People are driven to find ways to help each other. It’s hardwired into most of us. The people who bring you “light it up blue” are the same ones who capitalize on these feelings to raise money that is used to move society a step closer to eugenics.

Autistic children grow up to become Autistic adults. A child who hears they are a burden remembers. A child exposed to hurtful speech remembers. A child who is told they are worthless remembers. The feelings of shame grow deeper as we age.

Acceptance is the key. Accept the differences. Accept the whole individual. Put an end to shaming others for being different. It starts with you.

On Your Time

Oh, the dilemma. I like to do social things. I like being included. I like receiving invitations.

But, those have dried up for a variety of reasons. My health is unpredictable. My “friends” tell me they don’t want to burden me with their requests. Some people have decided that Autism is a deal breaker. Others just faded away.

Then there’s the flip side. I ask, plan and then get turned down at the last-minute. Sometimes I have gone above and beyond. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I try too hard.

Then I wonder what’s wrong with me. Why do people turn me down. What can I change. What am I doing wrong. I can’t get unstuck from “me” being the problem.

In reality, other people are making choices. We all get to choose who we hang out with, what activities we do and so on. I can’t make those choices for other people. I can make myself available, that’s  it.

Whether I’m traveling across my city or across the country, it’s their choice. I don’t like that people have led me on, making plans and then cancelling. Or choosing a “better” option. It hurts, a lot. Everyone has a reason and I guess my job is to accept and move on.

 

Plans

I have a hard time with plans. I like to know what I’m doing and when. I will spend hours working out schedules. Most people think I fly by the seat of my pants. I actually plan different scenarios and see which one pans out.

I guess I like knowing the possibilities. I gather information and stash it away for when it might be useful. I wouldn’t say I’m inflexible, at least to everyone else. But I need my plans.

So when my plans fall apart, I struggle. A lot. Because my plans usually involve other people, I try not to let anyone down. And become self-critical when others change their plans. What did I do wrong? Did I offend someone? Did I say something out of line? Yes, it’s always about me. I accept responsibility for things that are not even mine in the first place. It’s not an ego thing. It’s more of a security blanket type thing. If I know what’s coming, I can plan for it.

I guess this is my routine that is the strongest as far as Autism goes. I have many tools for coping with it, including writing this blog. I’ve tried shifting my thoughts to more of a “let it roll” philosophy, but I always come back to the land of plans.

So please, dear readers, know that changing plans is hard for many people. If you can’t or don’t want to do something, please speak up. Kindly, of course. My plans, and sometimes my sanity, are counting on you.

 

Dear Teacher

I know you mean well. really, I truly believe that you started your journey with that spark. But, maybe you’ve forgotten why you’re here, in this job. Twenty five or even thirty years is a long time to be in a career that has such high emotional demands. You are not only an educator. You are a nurse, a psychologist and perhaps a shoulder to cry on. You are a cheerleader and a disciplinarian. Sometimes you feel like an ATM, buying school supplies and lunches for kids you know won’t get anything unless you take care of it. That’s a lot of demand placed on one person who gets paid less than $30 per hour.

Today I watched you with your students. I heard you yell in a way that made me cringe. I heard you call a kid stupid. I watched your body language, with your arms folded tightly against your chest. I saw you interact with other teachers, cutting them off mid sentence so you could say your two cents worth. The looks from your peers should have been a clue, but you were too caught up in yourself to notice.

The message you are sending is that you don’t care as deeply as you once did. The jaded tone in your voice tells me you are just treading water until you retire. Your peers see it. Your students see it. And yet, you seem oblivious. You have all the answers. You play all the games. No one could possible be as “good” as you.

But your actions are speaking very loudly. When you lose the ability to truly listen, it’s time to stop and think about things. When you resort to name calling, it’s time to examine your reasons for remaining in the career field. When you rely on passive-aggressive relationships to maintain your “position” in the hierarchy, you’ve lost what made you an excellent teacher. When you no longer care what message you are broadcasting, it’s time to let go.

You’re not the first teacher I’ve met with this attitude. You probably won’t be the last. It’s sad that in this career field there aren’t many opportunities for sabbatical or even true job changes. You will work your entire career doing pretty much the same thing. And while this job is vitally important, you will become jaded because of expectations, curriculum swerves, student behaviors and lack of support. I just wish you could see yourself and realize what you are really saying.

What you are telling students…they don’t matter. You have more important things to think about. “I” am not important. Why should “I” try when “You” aren’t?

So, dear Teacher, I encourage you to rethink why you are here. What is the purpose of you showing up every day? How can you change so your students change? What can you do to improve the school so everyone can learn? Because it’s not about you.

Sincerely,

Your Future