As I was on my trip to San Fran, another of thing hit me about the idea of gifts and sharing your story. Two ideas: (1) labels effect you, and (2) how you affect others in their lives. First, we’ll start with labels, then how you can affect others, and how they go together.
It came to me that sometimes in gift track we tend to focus on our autism, or whatever it is, and get so focused on it that we get lost in the quiet of own hearts and minds to figure things out. Yes, we have it, but it’s a small part of who we are. I was reading somewhere that when you smile, others smile, and when you’re sad, others are sad. The important thing here is if you’re so focused on the label you’ll get lost in what you can overcome and what you’re building towards. I’m not saying that these labels are unimportant, but don't let them own you.
On this trip I was able to share my story with my family, and I saw the power of that. I have affected my family for the better, not the worse. When I was unhappy and not being me, I was hiding from others. So I needed to realize that, yes, I have autism; but I have always been truly a golden creature of my creator. That’s all that matters.
I have many different gifts and many things that I like to do. I will from time to time go back to my old ways; it happens to all of us. However, I see a new path in my life, and I am ready for the next chapter, whatever it holds. So, create a safe space for your person with autism, together.
Today’s blog is about going deeper into the ideas of gifts and using them to find what you want to do with yourself and your story. As we have been discussing, stories have a powerful effect on how you live out your dreams. As I said in previous posts, before I knew about it I just didn’t want my dream; I didn’t think it was possible for me to have one. What I’m starting to is that the quiet is where you build your new self up to create the space for that dream. I call it my “safe space.”
So where does autism fit into this? I believe it’s key to allow that safe space to be created for people with autism to live their dreams. For anyone to live their dreams they need to have a safe space. By going forward with this blog, I hope to create this safe space where people can work on themselves inside. I can’t do that for you, but I am here to be a good listener. The change comes from the person with autism. I found out a long time ago that outside stuff can’t fix me; it needs to come from the inside. Outside things can help, but they are just tools to build yourself on. I confess that I still have that mindset from time to time: that the outside world can save me or fix me. I came to the truth that outside world can’t fix me, and don’t I want it to. I have pride in who and what I am.
So how does this fit into what we’ve been talking about? This is how: we all have to go on the journey like the wise men and the shepherds did. Find our own true stars, those parts of us that make us who and what we are. I call it the “rebirth moment.” It happens all the time. We can’t stop it. We can bury it, but we can’t stop it. Once we find that star in us, we want it to shine. It’s when we believe the lies that we tell ourselves that things get in the way.
I am going to stop here for now as the post is getting long. Next time we will elaborate more on finding your dreams.
Today I want to talk about finding your gifts. Last time, we discussed the broken road; well, I see this as a continuing theme today. I only knew I was on the broken road when one day I heard that voice inside of me that told me to stop to living the way I was. “You have a choice. You can live a different way.” This post is about the idea of finding your gift inside of you.
It wasn’t until I started writing his blog and talking to many of my mentors who said “you find your Creator in the silence, not in the noise of lfe. You will hear his voice. That’s where you find him.” It’s the truth. From time to time, I go to a Quaker meeting near where I live. It’s 40 minutes of peace; it’s there and on my many walks that I hear my inner voice. It takes time and I don’t always hear it. It’s there that I was taught about what my gifts and who I am. I’m still learning how to listen to that voice.
For so many years I was listening to others and trying to live their lives. Now, I live my life by trusting that voice to guide me though life. Do I always belief what it tells me? No. I’m learning to see the difference between acting on impulse and waiting. I have learned that the voice that tells me to wait is the right voice. It only says it once. I learn so much about waiting and not rushing into anything. There is power in waiting for the quiet moments in life.
I like the fact that the wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus. They knew what he needed. They also knew to listen to their inner voices, and not go back to how they came. Interesting, isn’t it? Moses had that too. A lot of great thinkers and spiritual leaders of our time have this gift. You want to know something, so you do. Wow, isn’t that cool? All you have to do is to start telling your story, share your gift, and find a quiet place to go inside of yourself; as a result, you will tap into your golden place and find what you are looking for. Just think how much peace you will have when you do that. Isn't that cool? It will also start you on your journey of healing from your broken road. How do I know this? I am doing this myself. I am at a better place in my life today because I decided to tap into that new place inside of me. I am still learning. It’s life’s long journey, so let’s take it together.
Thanks. That’s it for now.
When I was in college, as you know, I was scared because it was something new to me and I wasn’t sure what to do. My dad helped me get a bank account; so, I had money but I never had a debit card and no concept of money management. I knew how to make change but not how to properly save and budget my money. I knew I had to pay my college tuition—which my parents gave me—but I was always worried about having money; I’m still somewhat like that today. I had plenty but it still felt as if I didn’t have enough. I am always learning and it’s something that I need to work on.
Also, I was still dealing with my trust issues and discovering who I was. So, you could say I was calm and cool on the outside. But on the inside, I was scared and could never really talk about it with any one. I did stuff in college that I am not proud of; however, I now see that those things were meant to happen. I am blessed that I had the great creator to pull me out of it. I am also blessed to have had a lot of good people to talk to about other stuff—papers and the stresses of college.
I felt I was losing control; each time I
had to regain my will power by fighting with myself, while keeping up
the lies about who I was. I won’t go into details now. If you have
questions about what happened, contact me and I will share. I deiced
not to be publically open about some parts of my life to protect my
personal space and allow for healing in my life. I need to learn to
live in the present moment.
In college, I learned how to survive, go to class, get good grades, and make friends. But, I wasn’t being me; I was being who I thought people wanted me to be. That’s a danger in learning life skills. The skill to survive was big in me. Today, I know to ask for help in my recovery. I am learning to let go of the shame and guilt; I am learning to be who I truly am.
This also ties into personal space as I had to learn that there were unhealthy boundaries. The unsafe things I did hurt me emotionally. Throughout college, I was in a lot of pain and angry at myself. Sometimes, I took it out on others; which I did not mean to do but that’s how it came out. I loved college, learned a lot, and graduated; I’m so happy about that.
I wanted to say that this all taught me there are what I will call “outside life skills,” like money managing and cooking. Then there are “inside life skills,” such as not beating yourself up and not doing things that hurt others. I wish that what I now about these things teach others I have learned.
So today I am going to talk about how I came to my views about life skills. As I mentioned in my first post about life skills, I felt that was that person in IEP. When I discovered I had Autism I felt like I wasn’t going to do anything at all and that Autism was the label people believed it to be. So I did what they told me to do. It wasn’t until the 10th grade that I had an English teacher -- whose special education class I was in -- that things changed. She told me that I didn’t need to be in her class and that I should be in a more difficult one.
Something inside of me opened me up to wow, I’m smarter than I think I am, so after that I got myself in to really “hard” English and History classes. These teachers were well known to be tough. I was nervous yet I got though them and learned a lot about myself in the process. It was sometime during my junior year that I got to attend an IEP meeting. When I turned 18 I got to organize it, that really changed me for the better as I knew I didn’t want to be in any transition program, that there were more things I wanted to do.
I remember that I wanted to play golf among other things; I also remember thinking about college. I went to my college and career center to see what there was. I recognized a book there because someone I knew wore a hat from the same school. It got me thinking about what I wanted to do, I wanted to go to college. I knew that if I attended college I would really be able to see if I could be independent and live by myself. Before then I always had people doing things for me as I thought I couldn’t do them alone.
It wasn’t until I applied to a few schools and took the ACT that I knew my dream had come true, I was going to go to college. One of the places, where I ended up attending, I had applied Monday, visited Friday and they accepted me that day of my visit. I was very happy as I thought that I wasn’t going to amount to much here but I was now going to college.
I took a life skill in high school and a job skills summer program that helped me a lot; I still use most of it, and a friend taught me about finances. All of these experiences help me even today and will continue to serve me.
In my next post we'll discuss how I applied my life skills to college.