Where do we go from here…

I grew up being bullied by classmates, teachers, and even members of my own family.

I was beat up at various times from the age of 5 through middle school. I finally fought back, decisively, and no one touched me again after that.

To some, I should’ve acted sooner. In my mind, aggression and violence lack any and all moral authority.

Our leaders do a tremendous job of wrapping it in a pretty bow of patriotism or some other unquestioned tribalistic, dogma.

What they’re really saying is that, we have the resources and strength to force others to indulge our selfishness and tough shit if they don’t like it.

That isn’t leadership, those are grade school bullies who grew up to be elected by other bullies. There, I said it.

Please don’t come at me with talk of Hitler and other historical actors who could only be stopped through fierce opposition.

That is a symptom of the broader problem I’m talking about and not an exception of what I’m talking about here.

The fact that our movies, shows, media, YouTube, etc., glorify people getting hurt, maimed, beaten and even killed in the name of “justice” or entertainment should disturb everyone.

It would be like cows sitting back and watching slaughterhouse footage to unwind.

We need a new script. Our culture needs an enema.

People who live with neurodiversity know the experience of living in a world where people are hostile toward them simply because they’re different.

A sarcastic and judgmental, “What’s wrong with you,” is not uncommon when you act a little quirky around someone unfamiliar with you.

While we’re on the subject, “sarcasm” is an aggressive way of speaking. It’s tone suggests the person you’re talking to is stupid. It’s one-upmanship.

It’s one way we compete with each other and our culture is saturated with it.

This incessant need to win, be the smartest kid in the room, be the best whatever, causes us to put each other down at every opportunity and it needs to fricking stop NOW!

Each person needs to decide for themselves how they want to shape this world.

If violence plays any role in your plan, you’re part of the problem.

There’s a lot to learn from those who have led the way to profound social change without once raising their hand against a fellow human being.

Let’s try unity, connection, compassion, community and kindness for a while. It can’t be worse than what we’ve been doing.

When you don’t know how to figure out what isn’t working…

You don’t need to have resolutions or goals because there’s a new year.
 
Whether you live your life guided by a desire to be, have or do anything is up to you. Regardless of what the calendar says.
 
Your beliefs about what’s possible for you may be informed by how much neurodiversity affects your life.
 
You may see failures as evidence of what you can’t do instead of as evidence of simply what doesn’t work.
 
When you think about how you’re living now, you may have a feeling that things aren’t working.
 
Though you struggle to determine what, specifically isn’t working. You know once you determine that, you decide what you’d like instead. Then, of course, you can get busy creating it.
 
A way to help figure out what isn’t working, is to ask yourself this.
 

If I want to feel better than I do now, is there anything I need to:

👉 Keep doing?
👉 Stop doing? or
👉 Start doing?

Make sure one of the things you stop doing is basing your feelings of success on other people’s happiness.

This doesn’t mean ignore the impact of your actions on others. It means that your internal celebration of a job well done.

The gratitude you feel toward yourself for showing up, for you – is enough.

Comparison, impatience and competition are habits encouraged by those who wish to exploit your insecurities.

You don’t have to drink from those wells when there’s a fountain inside you.

The fountain is the fluid experience you’re having this moment. It tells you everything about where you’re at, but not where you’ll end up.

What is undeniable, is that you must take the first step in order to get started.

Robbing stigma of its oxygen

“Telling your story of life with neurodiversity educates and robs stigma of its oxygen.”

I said something to that effect during a discussion about neurodiversity in the workplace this morning.

The question was raised about how to educate employers about differences.

I emphasized that it needs to start outside the companies, in our communities and homes.

Your unique wiring brings with it 1 of 7 billion definitions of what it means to be human.

There’s profound beauty in that. There’s wisdom in that.

Wisdom regarding how you’ve learned to navigate the human condition.

When you share your decisions, strategies, tips or processes. You’re sharing a path to progress for someone.

Your story can be a potent piece in a larger puzzle that gives a face to the value of embracing neurodiversity.

To open up corporate culture or businesses in general to the riches lying unmined in the neurodiverse community.

We need people willing to make the conversation a priority.

People committed to normalizing it.

People dedicated to destigmatizing it.

Let’s get to a point where our differences draw us to each other as readily as our similarities do.

Our sameness comforts, our differences challenge us.

You have to face a fear to get past it

I’ve been feeling crippling anxiety over the past few weeks and I couldn’t quite get to the bottom of it.
 
It was such a departure from my typical silver lining, be here now self.
 
Last night I decided to allow myself to see what I was hiding from. I told the anxiety things will be okay if I know.
 
The truth is, as I’ve been working diligently with a few people on two exciting new projects.
 
Things I haven’t done before. That are requiring me to be more trusting, to give up control and allow myself to be seen on a larger scale.
 
Well that led to a whopping case of imposter syndrome.
 
Once I was able to name it the anxiety fell away because it was seen.
 
Emotion that is seen is shown the way out.
 
I feel much more calm, clear and centered today.
 
As someone with neurodiversity, stepping into new levels of growth or responsibility isn’t like getting that promotion at work.
 
You get the news, you celebrate, you start the new job.
 
For ND’s some big changes can feel like you’re being shoved through the birth canal again.
 
My introverted side has resisted opportunities like this for years. Not anymore.
 
Too many people are suffering to keep playing small.

Follow your own stream when mainstream doesn’t fit

As a neurodiverse person, your very existence is a challenge to the status quo.
 
Many will be frightened by your differences, threatened by any disruption to their own comfort.
 
Some will try to help you be normal, to fit in. To please others so you’re more likely to be accepted.
 
Then there are those who realize there’s more than one way to be human.
 
That mainstream means there’s also sidestream or crossstream or splitstream.
 
Your path is your own and the surest way for you to make your unique difference in this world.
 
The key is to learn the confidence and have the support you need to be who you are.
 
As you explore yourstream the livestream of the mainstream can get really extreme. Know what I mean?
 
It’s tougher to try and do it along. So don’t do it that way. You don’t have to do it that way.
 
It’s easier and more safe to grow among friends committed to each other’s growth than among people fighting to protect their comfort zones. Am I right?
 
There are openings for my Inner Circle. Now streaming.

I’m afraid to tell you I’m confused

What will others think if I tell them I’m actually confused when they all seem to know what’s going on?

We can be hanging out together like always and suddenly I feel disoriented and nothing makes sense. It can even be a little scary.

This, or something like it, happening is a common fear of people with neurodiversity. Sometimes there are many conversations happening at once. Some folks talk fast.

Any number of things can overload your brain circuits and cause a temporary short circuit.

Sometimes my brain can keep up but sometimes it doesn’t kick in. Your brain can be like that unreliable car you have to push to get it started.

If only you knew when those times were going to be. Alas, they’re unpredictable. You may fear others discovering your vulnerability.

If you have this fear often one thing to consider is your social circle.

Nit picky, teasing, trash talking types may be less likely to express empathy and extend you grace during these moments.

People who themselves are more accepting of their own mistakes. Those who handle disappointment with flexibility instead of anger. These are the people you want around you.

There’s a reason swimmers choose water instead of oil. The environment you put yourself in to try and be your best matters.

It’s difficult to meet your needs and be at your best when hanging with people you don’t feel safe enough with to ask for what you need.

A few things to consider. Your current circle may have no idea of your struggles and may surprise you.

You could take a chance and speak up to see if they step up.

If they don’t, you take the necessary steps to bring new people into your life to add more water to your pool.

The answer should never be a life of keeping your needs to yourself because of a lack of those who understand.

When good news frightens me

When I’m presented with a positive opportunity my first response is fear.

My self-talk begins generating a list of reasons why my health won’t allow it, why I couldn’t possibly make the time for it and blahdy, blah, blah!

Yes! There’s a part of me that still feels like an imposter, is afraid to be seen and is afraid of failing with an audience.

The key is to keep that voice in the peanut gallery instead of as Chairman of the Board.

I help you step by step (as I’ve learned to do) to gain power over that voice so it’s smaller and easier to brush aside.

Part of the process is countering the fear with compassionate self-talk.

I remind myself I offer nothing more than my best at any given moment.

That I will be human throughout and make no promises beyond what I’m confident I can deliver.

I will not accept responsibility for something someone needs from me unless it is communicated directly to me. Telepathy is not a gift of mine.

Though I enjoy travel I’m not available for any guilt trips.

I will decline all efforts to compel me to feel shame.

I declare now that I am good enough and no human has the power to deem it otherwise.

Once I’m grounded and empowered in my values and my humanity, I can respond from that place instead of fear.

Let’s work on your empowering voice.

I’ll try to enjoy my birthday for once

My birthday has been a source of hurt and resentment for my entire life.

I was born on December 25. For as long as I can remember, the fact it was my birthday was something that got in the way of everyone’s Christmas.

I felt invisible in my family and a birthday is one day you hope everyone notices you.

It was tradition to go to my grandparents house to meet up with aunts, uncles and cousins.

My mother did her best to encourage family and even my siblings to take notice.

The fact they needed to be reminded year after year added to my already feeling like an outsider.

When I became a parent the attention naturally shifted to my boys.

I began noticing myself feeling angry each year as my birthday got closer. Feeling guarded and wanting to be left alone.

For many Christmas’s I agreed to a cake Cath was generous enough to bake but I was left with a feeling of guilt.

Like I was in the way and burdening her on my own birthday. Gee, wonder where that came from.

Now comes this week. Cath and the boys had the idea of doing Christmas on Christmas Eve and just Christmas being for my birthday.

In my almost 51 years of life I’ve never had that offer.

I went through feelings of confusion, anger, resistance, sadness and finally today I cried.

I realized I didn’t know how to enjoy my birthday. I also realized I was sick of having them ruined every year.

This year we’re going to start a new tradition. I’m eager to see how it feels for once.

The wisdom of monotony

“Same shit different day!” is an unfortunate mantra.
 
One finding greater usefulness during COVID where its harder to tell one day from the next.
 
There’s actually a bit of wisdom in there that shows you a way out of the monotony you may otherwise be feeling.
 
The wisdom is the idea of same, but different. You may be doing things that seem the same. But today is a different day. You haven’t done them today yet.
 
In fact, the you in this moment isn’t the you of yesterday.
You have been refined by the lessons of yesterday and show up differently now.
 
Even if it’s the same shit, it isn’t the same you doing the same shit. It’s a wiser you.
 
I’ve had experiences where I emerged with greater appreciation for nature, people, what I already have. None of those things changed as much as I did.
 
I find more often than not, that when things around me seem “stuck”, in a rut, so to speak. The issue isn’t somewhere on the outside.
 
It’s in my forgetting to appreciate how much newness is blooming in this moment.

Here’s the thing about the idea of “overcoming” your disability…

When raising a child with a chronic condition, disability, whatever you want to call it.
 
It’s my position that “acceptance” is the goal NOT “overcoming”.
 
Overcoming puts you at odds with the challenges you’re experiencing. What emotions bubble up when you try to show your disability who’s boss (e.g. anger, anxiety, frustration)?
 
Acceptance requires a more compassionate approach toward yourself. One where you learn to be happy even while living a life that doesn’t match the one your friends live.
 
Acceptance is in part, the confidence that no longer looks to compare yourself to anyone else.
 
Acceptance isn’t the enemy of growth or skill building either. It doesn’t mean you “give up” or “let the diagnosis win”. 
That’s win-lose thinking driven by our competitive minded culture.
 
We’ve become such dopamine junkies these days. It’s easy to forget how much having to work through hard things has to teach you.
 
The more at odds you are with the teacher that is your chronic condition, the more you will have to stay in class.
 
I won’t belabor the point. Sometimes the condition is here to stay and with it, you must create a meaningful life for yourself.
 
It can mean whatever you want it to.