Friday, August 23, 2019

Seasons Of Change. From Annoying to Entertaining- Dora and Other Sensory Seasonal Changes. "I forgot that you existed" and other Nuances like Quitting Therapy And Instagram.

The kid's show "Dora" from the early 2000's, was most parent's sensory nightmare. Not only was it loud but the catchy songs would pop into one's head during "grown up" moments...No? Maybe that was just my quirky brain. Dora was in the top three for annoying children's shows but my kids loved it so we bought the DVDs. At that point we did not have TV channels or Internet. My daughter even had a Dora kitchen we found on discount.

Recently, my Aunt wanted to take us to a movie. We had seen everything family friendly except for Dora. We found out we were going on her 55th birthday to 'Dora the Explorer' which she had never seen or had context for. So that was weird for her. We felt bad as we didn't know it was her birthday until after the tickets were booked. Tickets she paid for. And of course she wouldn't let us pay. We brought cards and cream cheese icing cupcakes. But she had caught a ride with my sister whom was running late, and the cupcakes were in danger of melting so we had to quickly eat them using our van for a picnic table. My aunt started chuckling as she was shovelling cupcake into her mouth. She laughed and asked my sister to take a picture, "Because I never thought when I was five, that on my 55th birthday I would be eating off an old dodge before going to Dora the Explorer. Happy 55th to me! It's hilarious. I love it."
(We were so excited to the kids are used to my loud enthusiasm. It was not a serious moment of singing as you can hear but it was fun! Sometimes with my husband I follow these moments up with a smile and state, "I'm Autistic." To which he laughs and says, "It's one of the things I love most about you." Yup. True story. )

Up until that point, I hadn't really thought about eating off the hood in the parking lot as anything weird. We do odd stuff like that all the time. It's our normal. But it suddenly struck me as funny too. Luckily, she sat by my sister who died laughing at the entire film, and spent it laughing at her. We all had a blast. I couldn't get over the fact that I was having the most laughs in about a month because of "Dora." At moments it was surreal...definitely creatively fun/weird. I was impressed.

As I was contemplating the movie later, I realized that my life has mimicked the Dora experience lately. Sensory stimuli that used to drive me crazy have become non issues. Or better...entertaining! I have found humour in the sensory that is not too bad. New sensory issues have surfaced. Maybe in a few years they will be obsolete too? This stoicism in sensory has helped me cope better. Sometimes it is still serious but I have been there and done that. I had years of hashing out the sensory. It's an important stage. But like everything, life brings Seasons. Am I still Autistic and experience sensory differently? Yes! Does my brain still mix up danger with confusing stimuli? Absolutely. But there are changes to whom I am now afterwords.

For a few years jewellery and certain types of clothing bothered me, so I completely avoided them. But gradually I have been incorporating them again, because sometimes a tiny bit of uncomfortability can be worth the beauty or the magic. Sometimes not. It's both and neither. Like Dora, what was previously annoying can be suddenly entertaining or enhancing to life.
( I just want to thank "Smoothies" -applied every night- for this picture! I did not have to touch up any wrinkles! I still have them but each morning after "Smoothies" my skin looks like this for a bit! Something sensory I also would not have attempted a few years ago but worth it!)

With this seasonal attitude, for the first time in 14 years, I have decided to take a break from my monthly therapy sessions. Let me state that I FIRMLY believe in the positives of therapy. Counselling changed my life in many positive ways. I became. I was supported. I re balanced aspects that were running away from my grasp. I learned how to let go and create boundaries. I feel that each person can benefit from a season in therapy at least once in their lifetime even if they are not mentally ill. For the mentally ill or disabled or the Neurodiverse, healing therapy is a lifeline. I reserve the right to decide to go back at any time. Being different in the world sometimes requires additional, neutral support. I am forever grateful for 14 steady years.

However, it's time to BE. To stretch my own wings and see how I cope for awhile on my own. To trust myself and trust that I will go back if I need to...but that maybe in this season, it has slowly become a crutch instead of a freeing block of time. I think I was becoming stuck. How many things do we actually stick to doing monthly for 14 years? Not many. Life is Seasonal and it requires change. For clarification- this is personal and not a route I am recommending to anyone but myself. But I feel it's important to document and put out there for anyone who may be in a similar situation...which is unlikely but ya never know. Plus, metaphorically it could apply to other circumstances.

Two years ago, when I thought about my therapist leaving or quitting I was distraught. I imagined a bunch of scenarios that never happened. Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans and life happened slowly. The Seasons shifted. What once was, wasn't. It was easy. A couple instances happened that made me angry yet desperate to hold on. Until one day, it wasn't even an issue. I just knew I was done. Not in an angry or upset way but similar to when Summer is done and you realize it's Autumn.

Where I live, Autumn has arrived. The nights are earlier, the days are chilled, and Autumn decor is out in our local Home Sense. When I caught the reds, oranges and yellows in the aisles I giddily jumped up and down. I sang, "It's the most Wonderful Time of the Year" to my husband when we rounded the corner and Halloween blacks were showcased with all their Witchy bliss. As much as I have adored this Summer and find laying out in the heat healing...I am always ready for Fall. The smell of decay soothes me. My soul rests. I also feel the most excitement for all the "ER" months. Christmas is perfect too. I love it all. I've become an "All Seasons Girl" but of course there are some high points within the Calendar.

Taylor Swifts new album dropped and a few songs are already in my home library. With memory issues plus allowing myself Seasons and letting go the song, "I forgot that you existed" seemed accurate. "How many days did I spend thinking how you did me wrong? Living in the shade you were throwing, till all of my sunshine was gone, gone, gone. And I couldn't get away from rent living in my mind. But the something happened one magical night. I forgot that you existed. And I though that it would kill me, but it didn't. And it was so nice. So peaceful and quiet. I forgot that you existed. It isn't love, it isn't hate, it's just indifference. I forgot that you existed... Sent me a clear message, taught me some hard lessons. I just forget what they were. It's all just a blur... I forgot that you existed."- Taylor Swift.

It goes both ways. When we disappear from people's lives or give mediocre attempts at BEING in them, we can't expect them to give us full support. That is not the correct context. However, there are seasons when we need to carve out alone time, are too busy, or are just dealing with life and can't think of others...and those seasons deserve grace in relationships. Friendship and close relationships also need to honour the seasonal. There are cold winters where we just survive or maybe the winters are when we cozy up and nurture. There are Springs full of either personal potential or the birthing of relationships. Summers are warm with engagement or getting things done. Autumn is for preparing or letting go or fresh beginnings and die off.

Seasons come with different rules of engagement. For instance, I quit Instagram again in the way I used to use it. Each time this has happened in my life, some forever changes took place.  The first time I narrowed it down to just people that were tougher to interface with otherwise. But this time  the phrase from Ozzy Osbourne ran through my head over and over,"Voices, a thousand, thousand voices. Whispering, the time has passed for choices. Golden days are passing over, yea..."

There were too many voices in my life. I felt obligated to like and comment on every post and watch every video to my 20 people (which is nothing to most people but a lot to me.) I take ownership for this as no one expected me to do this. But I also had to take ownership for the fact that I could not kick it without making serious changes. These ladies were a large part of my regular support system, and I gave ample consideration before I pulled the plug. But, in the end, I asked myself, "How often do we actually engage on here together? How often do we dialogue or use this forum to deepen our relationships? Are there other ways I can connect with them? Are there other forms of media I can share my photos with them on from time to time? Can they text me pictures occasionally too or find other ways of connection? Are some of us in differing seasons where we are NOT supposed to see each other that regularly because we need different lessons with different voices? Are we speaking too much ( myself included) about our opinions, advocacy's, and causes and not listening? Even in the name of "healing"? Has this become a place I have relied on heavily to escape my own metamorphosis? Have I censored too much to honour others? Have I not censored enough? Is this a natural way to be? Or maybe it is the new normal?"

I have no answers for anyone else. I think social media is healing and good and connective in many ways. But it was another season for change that I needed to honour. Winter is coming. Or perhaps winter was here. I'm not sure. Either way, we each have to question and then answer to our souls, while still taking the responsibility to give others their dignity and honour everything that has come before...even if it changes. They could circle back again. Or never again. Both deserve gratitude and respect in many cases. And perhaps some just indifference?

How is Instagram different from email and blogging? Blogging feels more like a choice. People have to go out of their way to click on the post and WANT to read. People can ask to be taken off the email list and only are subjected to it a few times a month at most. I do love Instagram. I feel it has some sort of place on and off in my Seasons. But scrolling through or using it selfishly for our own causes or plastering of life feels...empty. And although I wasn't using it that way nor were most of those I follow, I found that I saw too many glimpses of my own voice projecting even when it wasn't meant to. It just wasn't what I felt I was trying to accomplish anymore in my relationships for the most part. The golden days were fading and it was time to transition to different ways of connecting with the same people or value seeing them when I saw them...perhaps the sun will rise again and we will go through the golden days of sunshine again?

Honestly, for years Instagram worked in the unusual way I used a journal and connective, deep dive into thoughts and dialogue. It was beautiful. But again....crossroads come. There are other ways to use it that I could see myself engaging in after a break...who knows?

There is a fine line between being too private and being too public. I struggle more with being too private. I really have to ask myself often, "Am I isolating myself too much or is this just my normal?" If it's my normal, it's fine to honour but there are times when the dust settles and I see that perhaps I pushed too hard for personal privacy...and left important people out of the sharing of hearth and home. Just like there are a billion different, beautiful ways to live a life...there are a billion lovely ways to share it...including platforms like Instagram. It's sad when we allow comparison to be the thief of joy and miss out on the beauty of others and ourselves when we decide to disconnect. But it's also sad when we forget our own seasons or need for shelter and give, give, give. Life is often lived in the liminal spaces of in between.

As I have stated before, I just came out of a season where I realized I was tired of being in my head so much. Nightfall is slowly easing. The universe is attempting to infuse magic into my daily with little reminders. Often lately, even after shuffling, I have pulled the same inspirational card that says, "Life is full of cycles. The sun rises and sets. Years begin and end. Seasons come and go. Events or projects are planned, executed, and then completed. Jobs are found and sometimes lost. Relationships that enter your life so full of promise can leave your life. Beginnings are often fulled with joy and hope. Cherish those times. Sometimes we take it for granted. Endings are often permeated with sadness and pain. When things, events, or people leave our lives, they can leave great holes like exit wounds. A mourning period usually follows where we may wait for that which was lost to return to us. After a while we realize it will not return, we mourn the loss. This is natural and must happen before the next phase or cycle can begin...Know this too; Life will beckon again and you will eventually be able to answer it's call and begin your next cycle."- Barbara Moore
(Speaking of seasons my husband cut his ponytail off after four years...and now it's even shorter than this photo. His mother was the last one to cut his hair...but he decided it was a new Season.)

So now, I spend most of my days out in the world adventuring and coming home to my usual haven. I am finding sensory bliss in food, make up, jewellery, concerts, movies, and even a tiny bit of local travel. I've been taking more risks and they are paying off. Most of all, I am giving less validity to my own inner thoughts and just BEING. Of course I spend time contemplating deeper issues and we still have our monthly forums (HERE.) At our last event our guests were an Anthropology professor, a Philosophy professor and a Professor of Buddhism giving the presentation. They arrived for supper two hours prior to the engagement and the conversation we shared as a family with the three of them was a definite highlight of the Summer. They were astounded by what we knew, what we do for the community and that people like us exist in Alberta. They could not believe that our children could keep up with names like "Hannah Arendt" or engage in speaking about Institutional failings, cultural conditioning ect. To hear three strong female voices in my home instead of the usual male voices, which I also deeply appreciate but the female presenters are a minority...was so soul refreshing. But here's the was natural to be in my head then but still experience sensory and connection. It was ALL. Not either/or. And these are the integrating moments I am incorporating more of I suppose.

What Season are you in?

P.S. For the mystics I recommend the book "The Seasonal Soul." I do not recommend it to most religious's more for Wiccans or Mystics but it's a lovely book.

Song Mentions: I forgot that you existed- Taylor Swift

See you on the other side- Ozzy Osbourne

Friday, August 16, 2019

Soul Full Crossroads. Letting Every Day Magic in Despite the Accusation of "Privilege."

"The ancient mystics venerated the in between and the interstitial as places where possibilities overlap, creating the perfect petri dish for synchronicity and magic. These places are often called crossroads because there, instead of continuing on your current path, you could choose to make a hard turn and explore the unknown."- Maia Toll

Life is full of paradoxes and polar opposites. Within them sits the insight into the in-between spaces. This is where the magic happens in life.

I am both a minority in some aspects and a person of majority. I have been the sufferer of many conditions for decades but I have also been in phases of healing and vitality. I wish the world would listen more to the actual voices of the sufferers (Autistics for Autism, Lyme for Lyme sufferers, Bi polar for Bi polar ect. ect.) and I wish that professionalism would marry experience. I would love to see mysticism marry street smarts and magical and positive thinking to marry logical rationality. However, those are ideals and negate the yin yang of life. There is an ever present balance of darkness and light.

Maybe the world needs the left as much as the right? Maybe it needs the in depth mystics and rational logicians? The anti religious and religious? Obviously dangerous extremes need to be avoided but maybe by the basic respect to differences, we can negate most of the extremist mentalities? Because the full throttle mystic can be friends with the hard facts scientist, and they can mutually give and take perspectives, right?

Maybe this is wishful thinking and my ever "perspectives INFJ" talking? I have been accused of having privilege...and yes I do. But so do you if you are reading this. We all do. So let's stop throwing that word around. I am sick of it. What good does it give to the larger global conversation as well as the individual other than accusation, blame, judgement or shame...none of which make the world a better place. Responsibility is important but so is acceptance. Maybe slapping the "privilege" word in accusation at someone else is ignoring the fact that we ALL have issues, and one person's privilege is another's pain and the cycle could go on into the millions. Comparison is the thief of joy and living authentically. It is also unjust to compare pain, joy, the circumstances one is born into or lifestyles. I'm not saying that awareness is a bad word. However, let me spin it another way. If a doctor studies medicine but never practises it- how legitimate is their practice? They can't just be aware of all the maladies without living their part. They can't simply preach about what they have learned and negate treatment or giving out individual one on one care. No. In order to be a Doctor that makes a difference they must, through trial and error, endeavour to heal by the Hippocratic oath. Unfortunately, that often does not happen but ideally, that is the intent. They MUST LIVE their stories. They must BE and not just SAY. I would also assume that in order to give optimal care, they also need to take joy in their personal lives that they are given and endeavour to heal their own suffering as well. These practises will enhance their intuition in giving to others.

Working to improve life with responsibility and positive thinking needs to partner with allowing life to just BE and knowing your worth simply because you ARE. Polar opposites exist to balance the scales. I sincerely appreciate all those who speak up for the underdogs or those who have no voices. I have been that person and probably will be again. But the most important aspect of living is LIVING and sharing our stories with those around us. Mother Teresa once said, "If you want to change the world go home and love your family." Or plants, or cats or pets or community or garden or blog or home or whatever you have....Give it your best. Live it fully for those who can not, without guilt of your personal privilege, but then pair that with listening to those who come to you for aid or those who are silently requesting community on some level. Give when you can give. Take when you are allowed to take (with intent and awareness of course but let it be without constant self judgement.)

"In mythology, crossroads have a guardian, because major life changes often require the death of an old way of being and humans need guidance (or a trial!) to help them through this rite of passage. If you you were standing at a crossroads today, what you would be willing to leave behind to take a new road?"- Maia Toll

What are we, as a society, willing to leave behind? Our platforms to only be seen as aware, well adjusted individuals? Media is great if it's used for connective encouragement or knowledge or daily inspiration...but there is always the other side. What are we willing to leave behind individually? For example, I have been told I have "white privilege" (Which negates my Native/ Hispanic/ Romanian history, as well as the melting pot I am, as well as how I am often discriminated against because of how I can come across as an Autistic, even if my skin is mostly white or olive.) How does it help society for a person whom is white to go around feeling constantly shamed and guilty? Aren't we just perpetuating a previous cycle? Allowing a white person to be whom they are without throwing the guilt of history upon them (that other cultures are guilty of too by the way if we dig deeper. Although, yes, there are many LAYERS to this story.) is probably a better way of having them take a look at respecting every one else. It is NOT that simple. We need to dig deeper.

I have grappled with this topic for a few years since that accusation was thrown at me. It's not easy. I don't have answers but I do know whom I don't wish to be. That is a start. I don't wish to be unaware but I also don't wish to be constantly aware of every issue that in days before social media, I wouldn't have even known about. My brain can't handle that overload. I don't wish to be labelled an advocate anymore. I just AM and that includes speaking out for causes or voices unheard when it applies in my life. That does not make me noble. It just is. I don't wish to accept that I am only a victim of my privilege. My soul knows more. It knows I was both born into greatness and also had to create it with each year that passed. Much was circumstance that I am grateful for, but much was also learning again and again to BE. Failing. Reaching. Pausing. Giving. Taking. Savouring. Crying out. Days spent in bed. Days spent euphorically living it up. It is all there. Within.

I also know the basics of what I want. I want to live the enchanted aspects of life. I want to reach for the magic in the every day and be grateful for the flower upon my path or the deep breath of rain. I want to take responsibility for my story and the stories of those put into my care for Seasons. I want to see beyond, into the depths and not just swim in the shallow end. I want a rest from all my thinking and will gladly take it sometimes. I want to not feel guilty for these phases because I know that I will find re balance. I want to continue to trust myself and have the few who know me to trust me and not question my journey either. That's the rest of the world's job and I will gladly ignore it for the most part. And when I can't I will write a post. Ha ha. I want to ignore the voices that do not know my inner workings. I want to be imperfect and make glorious mistakes while still striving to be a better human being. I wish to be on the edges of polarization while also re balancing. A paradox? Perhaps. As Walt Whitman said, "Do I contradict myself? Very well I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes." I will LIVE while I live. I want soul and multiple crossroads with an insightful guide or guides. I wish for my soul to be FULL of life. Soul full and overflowing on to others when possible and sustaining me when not. I want a bit of mystery thrown into the logic of life.

The herb "Vervain whispers of enchantment and worlds not quite seen. She'll teach you to see beyond the ordinary and help you explore the liminal lands of the psyche. Through her easy access to the in between, she can call in the medicine of plants not present, making her a must for a healer's garden...but remember, even though she is wispy, vervain is powerful: a sip of her tea is magical, a cup nauseating. Why? Because too much mystery puts us off balance; think of it as a-motion sickness of the soul. So let Vervain dance lightly on the edges of your consciousness, reminding of the infinite possibilities that unfold when you let magic in."- Maia Toll

*Quotes  from The Herbriary pages 153- 155. This is a beautiful book and it comes with inspirational cards to learn the Herbs with lovely illustrations. The first card I ever picked was Vervain- Let Magic In. It holds a special place in my soul.*

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and to illustrate the goals for my life I wish to share what I am already living and loving. I will admit I am in an excellent phase of life that I feel is well deserved or maybe not...but I am glad for it after some tough years...I have enjoyed some travels, re decorating, incorporating new rituals and letting go of others, savouring outdoors in a Canadian summer as much as possible, baking amazing gluten free lemon cakes often! and paying attention to the microscopic magic that is all around. But I will let the pictures speak:

The 4 pictures below I wanted to add thoughts: 1. Even if its contributing to my battle with wrinkles and showcases my weight gain to anyone who walks by, I spend 20 minutes every sun filled day laying on our front deck with as much skin soaking up the sun as possible. I feel the heat. Watch clouds. Think. Savour the warm feeling. Watch the butterflies and bees and listen to the birds chirp. I don't care if it's considered lazy, inappropriate or privileged because I have the time. I MAKE the time because it is a priority. In a place where we have Winter for about 8 months, I wish to spend that carved out time every day savouring the gift of sunshine. It heals in moderation and it comforts me and makes me better. 2.) My nephew showed up at my door so proud with flowers for his Auntie Kissa. He was in the store with my mother and insisted on buying me flowers, which my mom thought was too cute not to do so she gave in and bought them. He is adorable. I don't see him often and sometimes do not feel I deserve such devotion from him but he teaches me, as all children do, that love is freely given sometimes just because. 3.)This Celtic knot was found in the oddest place. It was in a Mennonite town and establishment. We went the next week to see if they would sell it but it was already garbaged. I was sad as I loved the beauty of the unexpected even if it was coming apart. I wonder how it got there and what it's story was... 4.) The man who works by my side to make our dreams come true. He works hard so we can have the life we lead in many ways. I appreciate what he gives to our picture. He is my soul friend. My Anam's not just my's also him and the children within it.

Song choice: Ordinary Miracle -Sarah McLachlan