Halloween Humor – Feeding The Bir…Bats

Because that’s how vamps roll…

Love My Little Man

It never ceases to amaze me how much we miss the animals we’ve bonded with in life, no matter the time that passes… I was blessed to have this (big) little guy’s trust and love and I will forever be thankful.

Fitting that he transitioned on the Autumn Equinox – he brought a double rainbow and a fiery sky to let me know he was okay. . .

The Best Revenge

We’d all be lying if we said we didn’t plot revenge at some point in our lives (internally, in our minds, of course!) It seems to be human nature (and I daresay ONLY human-kind’s nature) to want to “get back” at someone for what we perceive as injustice. Doesn’t matter what it is, or frankly WHO it is…the tantalizing prospect of nudging the Universe from its perch and taking our own karmic control of the situation has a way of rearing its head in distress.

Remarkably, animals don’t appear to have the hangup…though they also fail to drudge around much of the human baggage our brains insist we do. Complex creatures, indeed! We can, as much in this case as countless others, learn from animals about how to best manage an anger-provoking scenario…

Ever notice how animals just carry on? I raised two jungle cats and inevitably there’d be several stand-offs a week with my female. Oh yes, she’d test the boundaries with a fierce and unrelenting gaze in effort to see if she could assert full dominance in our argument-du-moment (for example, removing her giant self from atop my computer cupboard so I could work without any distractions (e.g.: a flying and sharp paw.))

Well, I had to stare HER down to ensure she knew who (momma!) was in charge. And after the showdown when she submissively averted her eyes? Life went on – right back to normal. She didn’t hold a grudge for my stern assertion of I’m-the-bossness – she loved me just as much as before (and in fact, likely had more respect.)

While this is a substantial departure from a person-to-person tango (at work, at home, with a close friend etc), it does offer us another example of fine behavior. There’s no stewing or festering. She isn’t running false scenarios though her mind that I don’t love her, or that I deserve to be bitten in the face. There’s no lashing out because she didn’t get what she wanted… And there’s no toddler-type tantrum (the kind human adults pitch all the time.)

If you think about it, it really IS as simple as that – and it’s applicable. We may be upset about a situation, or feeling hurt (which, by the way, animals can certainly feel too – they aren’t devoid of emotion!) but wallowing in misery or replaying the “how-can-I-retort?” loop isn’t going to help us.

What will…?

MOVING ON. 

Even better? Moving on and being happy.

If someone in our life is toxic, hard it may be, we have to exit stage left (why left? I have to look that up again. I have no idea!)

If someone has lied or wronged us, we need to let it go and move onwards-and-upwards. (It’s not easy to let go sometimes – I too have been known to struggle with this. The moving ON, however, was always the plan. Chin up. Smile on. Seek out the new and better opportunities.)

When we lessen the burden we carry around – such as the plethora of injustices done to us (and I am sure we could all enumerate at length!) – we make room for more joy, love, and fulfillment in life.

Not everyone IS as nice as you are. Not everyone understands what might feel to some of us like common-sense manners, or decencies. Not everyone, let’s be honest, really cares about others…or if the impact they’ve had on your life has been negative all around.

But…

We have choices.

  • We DO get to choose or partners and friends.
  • We DO get to choose how we manage situations
  • We DO get to choose our behavior, our actions, and our responses (note that I didn’t say reactions…which are often quick and less measured than a response. Semantics, yes, but an important distinction.)
  • We DO get to choose how we carry ourselevs
  • We DO – big one – get to choose happiness (it’s the ultimate DIY! Read other posts on this here, here, or just browse the rest here.)

And finally… 

We get to decide to detach. To let go. To let Karma do what she does best…and right a situation of her own accord. I was taught that people “fall of their own weight” and boy…I’ve seen it time and time again. We don’t need the burden of weighing in. It is neither our right, nor our responsibility. And ooooh, the freedom in getting to focus on our own happiness instead? Talk about a GIFT!

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Surrounding Yourself With Good People

The people with whom you choose to spend the most time can have a huge impact on your life and well-being…

Look to those who love you for exactly who you are. For they are the ones who will have patience, respect, and understanding when you need it most….and, more importantly, at all times.

Look to those who push you to look deeply within yourself at the things that maybe no longer serve you so well – sometimes it’s hard to face ourselves alone. 

Look to those who challenge you to internally and externally step up your game. There are those who will support and encourage you, and remind you of all the “wonderful” you have to offer (and you deserve to be reminded. OFTEN!)

Look to the people who remind you that “failure” means “lesson,” and nothing more. The people who will remind you that have the strength, the courage, and the wherewithal to get up and fight…because you’ve already done it with success so many times before.

And look to those who will not only look for the bright side no matter how grim the circumstance, but who will do everything in their power to BE the “bright” when the lights go out. 

Life is full of ups and downs – when we have the right troops in our corner it’s not only easier to weather the storms, but the joys and celebrations are also multiplied many, many fold.  

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Without The Darkness, And Without The Storms…

Some days are good, many are great, and some feel insurmountably uphill. I really do try my best to see the world as “I’m thankful I have a glass” as opposed to “it’s half empty or half full,” because I actually do harbor that much gratitude – life is a gift on every level.

On the tough days, though, I give myself so hard a time it’s nigh unconscionable. While I have uncovered the part I had to play in some disastrous situations of the past, it is also important to remember that I didn’t deserve bad things…and neither was I the cause. It is important that we ALL remember that – we are nothing more than a bundle of experiences and lenses colored by those experiences. It isn’t always easy to step back – recovery takes a lifetime, not just a handful of years.

It’s also important to be gentle with ourselves for our shortcomings – many of which, I daresay, we are neither proud of nor want! Frankly, I’d love to not have some of the conditioned responses I have. As a person who knows I have a choice in everything surrounding ME (my attitude, my actions, my inactions, my REactions, my responses…) it frustrates me to the hilt that I am unable to “will away” the things I do that I can’t stand. That said, I’m also not less of a person because I struggle…and neither are you.

While I am acutely aware that without a “yang” there is no “yin,” I sometimes need a reminder. A friend today gave me one such virtual hug… Without the storms and darkness, we aren’t able to have or appreciate the calm or the light in life. I really believe that both are necessary, and that product of both is a life that is collectively more (far more!) beautiful than it is not. . .


“Progress, not perfection” as it goes… I don’t have a right to judge myself or anyone else – I know deep down that I try to be better each day, and I know (in advance) that I won’t always be able to make that mark. In spite of human flaws and fragility, I see so much good in the world. Through the words and support of others, I also have the comfort of knowing I am not alone, and that the personal difficulties I have weathered in my own life (or how I have been affected and altered by those experiences) are also not so strange and unusual. In fact, far from it…

Some days I need a spiritual hug. Others, I require room to breathe… Overall, though, patience, positivity, and understanding are always welcome, and I’m thankful to have that in my life. What a joy to know that the journey is one we never have to make alone, and that the darkness will always give way to light.

Autism And Other Pervasive Disorders – Idioms And Literal Language

I’ve been taking a graduate course in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) over the last few months and I’ve loved it so much more than I can say. Having been out of the school circuit for 17 years, it’s definitely been eye-opening across the board! But nothing beats the feeling of learning more about ASD and other pervasive developmental diseases – I’ve truly found my passion, and am ever eager to apply what I learn to my volunteer work with children, teens, and adults of varying disabilities.

In a recent discussion we talked about idioms – a type of “language” that we all use without really thinking about it. Neither, therefore, do many of us consider the implications on individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities and delays. As I prepared for the discussion, I realized that I couldn’t think of any I had used “off the top!” Sure enough, as I snooped about online, I discovered I use quite a few. For example:

All ears                                                It takes two to tango

Blessing in disguise                          Method to the madness

Chomp at the bit                                Not playing with a full deck

Cry over spilt milk                             Off his rocker

Curiosity killed the cat                      Once in a blue moon

Devil’s advocate                                 Over the moon

Silver lining                                         Piece of cake

Hit the hay                                          Speak of the devil

Hit the nail on the head                    Take it with a grain of salt

My classmates also came up with a hefty array of phrases, many of which I hear or say myself (“I lost my marbles!” comes to mind. 🙂 )  In combination with meticulous observation of my own idiom usage (for the purposes of this assignment) I found that I say them with relative frequency in every day speech. . .as does just about everyone around me. The funny thing is that I actually had to look up examples – using idioms is so much a part of our language that I wasn’t even aware. This sentiment was, as it turns out, shared by my classmates…

Having learned throughout my course that individuals with ASD often take language literally – truly at its face value – I am now far more attentive to my verbal language when communicating with them. Paired with deficits in social skillsets (such as joint attention, inability to read body language, verbal tone, cues and so forth), the literal translation of idioms could pose a substantial challenge during interaction. Our course has touched on the multitude of challenges that children with ASD face in the realm of communication (which includes a lot more than just “verbal language.”) The point has also been made that it isn’t always obvious to an outsider that someone with ASD won’t understand conversation, as some have a large (and impressive!) vocabularies.

I recall once saying (prior to my class, in a volunteer capacity) “you could be a pro!” to a child with ASD kicking a soccer ball. He asked what I meant and I realized that I didn’t say “professional soccer player,” which is what I needed to express in order for him to understand my meaning. While not an idiom per se, the language was not complete – an abbreviation I took for granted was not clear to him. This experience was eye-opening and I realized I needed to up my awareness when conversing with an individual with ASD. It is not at all a matter of intelligence – I find many to be incredibly bright…and they are! – more that I need to recognize the common trait of taking words exactly as spoken. I myself have a tendency to read into what I hear, sometimes taking comments as literal and serious.

Despite that English is my only fluent language, I always loved learning foreign languages in school. I remember purchasing books that offered slang and street French / Italian (even Latin!) so that I could perhaps utilize the language in the way native speakers do…or at least follow their conversation. Slang and idioms are a HUGE part of a culture’s social structure – they are thrown around with such frequency that not understanding them can pose a substantial language barrier as well as, at worst, flat-out social isolation. Think about learning a new language in school, then being immersed in that culture. The stream of communication of someone native to the language will be riddled with idioms – we all do it! We might then find ourselves saying, “what do you mean?” just like the child with ASD asked me.

This is a massive task for teachers because there are infinite ways in which idioms may present, and there are in the order of twenty-five thousand in English alone. (Wikipedia, as retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiom ) We read an article written by Temple Grandin earlier in the course and she mentioned how she has to mentally retrieve visuals and concrete memories based on previous experiences to know how to respond appropriately in social situations – what a daunting task! When we study a specific technique in Ninjutsu (a current Martial Art of mine) we sometimes discuss that the founders of the Art did not always teach a follow-up submission or takedown with it – the reasoning was that there are so many permutations, the task would not only be overwhelming, but students would be trying to remember far too many combinations (diverting attention from the more important fundamentals.) Way to go, Temple, for mastering that ability!

In the case of language, however, not learning idiomatic expressions will absolutely leave a child at a disadvantage – out of the realm in which peers and others knowledgeable about their disabilities (and therefore able to accommodate), an individual with ASD may be left bewildered by the normal conversational style of society. Again, as above, potentially leading to isolation and less opportunity for interactions (which also means less practice!)

Teaching generalization is vital for the individuals, and I do think key idioms must be addressed. That all said, I think that a learning program must – as all instruction – be highly specific, and tailored to the individual with ASD. If he or she is at a level at which more can be mentally digested, perhaps more idioms can be taught – but I sincerely believe that core fundamentals of are crucial, and must – as an order of operations – be learned before attempting to master more descriptive, idiomatic expressions. (I did see, per the below, a plethora of visual representations of idioms, which would be a perfect way to introduce them to children with ASD!)