Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Surviving 2020, But How?

 Today while I was out running some errands I took note of the misty gray sky and the chilly temperatures. My stomach kinda pulled in as a familiar feeling of low dread began swirling through it. With a heavy exhale I realized it was my body remembering the winter blahs. The short,  dreary days where everything is gray and brown outside leading to an evening of early darkness that seems to drag on and on.  


I'm not the only one feeling this way. Somehow, the entire world seems to be on an exasperated negative energy shift. I was not aware that this kind of restless melancholy could be shared with so many on a global level,  but for the majority of people I know, it seems to be.



So, what can we do with all this stress and turmoil we're finding ourselves reeling in from day to day? I certainly don't have any answers that will be applicable to everyone, but I have do have some suggestions to try, and possibly tweak to fit your own life.


Find Ways To Connect:

 

During quarantine this is hard. As a matter of fact, quarantine/social distancing is probably a huge part of why everyone is out of sorts. Humans are social animals, even as introverted as I am, I need to have some kind of social contact with others, even if it that contact is different than that of an extrovert.


If you're someone who really misses socializing in person there are some volunteer opportunities that may be available in your area. In my area there is still a soup kitchen that runs on volunteer work as well as people needed to help with the food bank. I'm sure there are more activities than that to choose from, but those are two that I know of.


This one might be a little counter-intuitive, but I absolutely think it's helpful to many of us. Lean into social media selectively. Find groups to join on topics you like. Share your passions with others and encourage them to share theirs. I belong to more than one group on social media where the people are positive and supportive. If you don't have this, or can't find one,  create it!  Find apps that link like-minded people together from around the world. I have personally used some of these apps and it's so much fun learning about other cultures and people. 


Be nice. That should go  without saying, but for real you guys.... whether it's in person or online maybe skip the negative comments and leave positive ones. Sometimes I will see something that is just super rude or out there on the internet (no way, right?! lol) and I will begin typing my angry response with zero fucks to give about how it's coming across, but then I will ask myself if I would say that very same comment to the person's face. Usually, I admit to myself that I would probably either word  it differently or just say nothing, so I choose to do that online, too. It takes a lot of practice and I'm not really great at wording things the best irl, but I'm trying. With that being said, be liberal with your kind words to others.Kindness costs nothing. Give others encouragement and recognition frequently. By building others up you will also feel a positive boost in your own mood.


Learn or Do Something New:

 

You might learn a new skill, language or instrument. Maybe you might decide to start a new fitness routine, or genre of books. You could foster animals or learn a new video game. Big or small,  it doesn't matter. Changing up and expanding our lives and routines can lead to a greater sense of well being. 


Self-care

 

I know this phrase has been overused. I'm including it anyway, because self care is important. It's not always obvious, though. Self care can mean monitoring our own thoughts and behaviors and modifying the ones that have a perpetually negative outcome. That is hard, takes practice  but necessary for happiness. Maybe you don't sleep enough, drink enough water, feel a certain down kinda way after talking to a specific friend. See how changing these influences and behaviors might contribute to a more positive mindset. 

 

How have you been coping lately? Have you ever tried any of these ideas, and if so how did they work for you? Let me know in the comment section. I am genuinely curious. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Hello Again!

 Well, hello! 


I bet most of you thought that maybe I'd given up blogging. I'd only made a few posts this year and haven't done so in something like four months, so I would see how people would think that.


Truth is, I have thought  about giving up blogging, due to a few different factors. One being that it doesn't seem to be very popular anymore, so when I do put in the effort to publish something it's often not read by very many people. The second reason is what I mostly wanted to talk about today. Chronic Illness. 


When I began blogging something like 15 years ago it was about autism, mainly about my two autistic kids. They have now almost grown up and like them I have grown, as well. Seems kinda weird to talk about their lives through a blog when they're 18 and 16. It's an invasion of their privacy as well as an unethical form of voyeurism, imo. I had thought about this awhile ago and began to scale back the amount of info I shared about them online in a public forum. Maybe I should never have been so open about their lives to begin with? I don't know. Probably not, but hindsight is 20/20. When we know better we can do better. The best any of us can do is adjust our behavior to the knowledge we continually seek, refusing to stay uninformed and ignorant about how we affect others and they affect us.


Besides, the last ten years or so I have moved to speaking out about my own autism, and how I view the world through the unique being that I am. This took up quite a  lot of the space in the blog, until I began to feel I had almost run out information to share on the topic. 


Then, I opened up the scope of focus to include introversion as well. As I aged and learned more about myself I felt that being an introvert has been a very large part of who I am,  almost as much as the autism. I felt the need to further explore what being an introvert means to me and how it has impacted my life. I wanted to connect with a wider community than just the neurodiverse,  so I changed the blog (and blog page on FB) to the current name,  replacing Inner Aspie. I'd outgrown that name, that persona in a variety of ways, so I wanted the title of my writings to reflect that. In doing so I have been very lucky to connect with many new friends that I cherish. 


Now, I am including chronic illness as a focus, or a sub-focal point (?) to the blog. This isn't entirely a new topic on here. If you've been a long time reader you probably remember some posts speaking of migraines and such. It seems that I have found out the cause of my ever growing and ever changing physical maladies that have prevented me from being able to be as active as I'd like, including things like blogging. 


I'd been to my regular physician and a neurologist these last couple of years trying to find out what is causing my symptoms and what can be done. Tests and more tests have been run. Then after a very detailed lab panel had been run and come back fine my doctor told me I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis 

I knew basically what that was, and wasn't happy to hear that diagnosis, at all. I felt my stomach sink as she told me there's not a lot that she can do  for me. I left with a printout about ME feeling a bit defeated. 

 

I'm still learning about what it is and how it applies to me. Looking back over my life now I realize that I probably have suffered from this illness on and off to varying degrees since I was 15. I'm now trying to tease apart what has been depression and what has been just flat out exhaustion and malaise, for one. There's been a lot of assumptions I've made about myself and who that I am that I have to reevaluate now. It's been a very freeing process to understand myself through this lens, letting go of shame of who I thought I was and who I admonished myself for never being. 

 

I'd love to be able to express this whole journey through writing about it here, and I plan to  as much as possible, but the amount possible is where the difficulty lies. Much of the time my head is so foggy and even thinking about putting together coherent sentences is beyond my reach. Still, it's my hope to be able to continue to blog here on the days the fog subsides and I have a tiny bit of energy to spare.  This place here is a digital representation of my soul., safe and authentic. Thanks for visiting, friend!



Sunday, April 19, 2020

Raising the Collective Well Being

I was having a conversation with an acquaintance last week about some topics that are usually politically divisive, and highly controversial. Most people think they know the answer and they have no shortage of opinions on these matters.

I am obviously not above this. I have ideas and opinions about social programs designed to help those less fortunate, just like anyone else. I can be quite passionate about those ideas and opinions, as well. Usually, though when I am speaking to someone in person I do a lot of listening, more than talking. I might interject a few questions, or thoughts, but mostly I listen. It's not often that I've ever heard the extreme opinions voiced in person as I have online. It's almost never,  especially if the person speaking isn't sure what the listener's stance is. They will kind of dance around, and be more cautious with the generalized terms and blanket statements. That tells me that they know the difference between what they say when in their own company and what they know is true.

The internet has changed the way we communicate. It allows us instant connections to anyone and everyone all the time. It isn't the same as reading a newspaper article 30 years ago and thinking about how you might feel about it and then maybe, discussing it with a family member or acquaintance who, chances are is more aligned to your own culture and beliefs than not. We weren't faced with wildly opposing opinions and ideas on a daily,  maybe even hourly basis. This was not necessarily a good thing. It was just the way it was. Exposure to other cultures and beliefs was minimal. Group think was also a tool for survival, because being a part of a social group meant having support. Even if you didn't agree with or like certain activities a person might still participate in order to remain intact to their immediate social group.

An example of that would be my late grandmother in law who told me that she used to attend coffee time with all the other ladies in their neighborhood as they gathered to watch soap operas. She abhorred soaps, but to turn down the invite would be rude. She'd be left out of the circle and being left out of the circle came with consequences. All the men in the neighborhood worked long days and sometimes weeks on oil rigs. There were long stretches of time that these ladies would be on their own, and sometimes without enough money to get by until their husbands returned. Camaraderie in this situation would prove to be in everyone's best interest. They would frequently get together to share food to make meals out of what could be be gathered from everyone's kitchen, as well as help each other with child minding, ect... My grandmother in law would proudly state that no one ever went hungry. They all came together to help each other in times of need. They saw the benefit of cooperation and the understanding that all is one and one is all.

I'm not about to say that I am in deep friendship and cooperation with my neighbors. I don't know any of them and they don't know me and we have always found that to be good enough. It's a shame, as I think about the way things were years ago and I wonder how that felt. So many of us are more connected than ever, but reporting to be more lonely than ever, too. I would never discount internet friendships, or the many wonderful ways social media has brought people together, and made positive differences for all of us. It's just that somehow I feel we are further away than we ever used to be from in person, supportive social circles that also have a positive impact on daily lives. As introverted as I am, I can't help but sometimes envy that closeness, that support, and that feeling of belonging that my grandmother in law must've felt sixty some years ago.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Homeschooling Through the Quarantine

As I sit here on this unusually warm spring night with the window open in my sitting room and a candle flickering nearby I feel the air's heavy humidity as I type this. What I notice is how uncharacteristically quiet it is. The outside carries no noise through my open window. Not a car engine, or music from a neighbor working in their garage. Silence. Eerie, eerie silence.

I felt the same as I entered the grocery store last night and many aisles were empty. People shuffled by quickly, apologetically as they tried to fill their carts with what was left. Heaviness seemed to hang in the air. The few children I did see were sullen looking. Everyone seemed to be much more somber than usual.

I suspect that this feeling of panic, fear, and uncertainty will continue for some time into the future as the Covid19 virus keeps us all under orders of social distancing. Many people can't work. Others have to work more, harder and in the most exposed situations. Many states have closed school districts for at least a month. Ours is for the rest of the year. Leaving many parents to scramble for childcare and schooling for their children.       

If you are one of the parents that are fretting over having your kids at home all day for weeks, or even months it's going to be okay. If you don't have any idea how to homeschool your children and feel a sense of urgency to begin right away, slow down. Hold on and get your bearings first.

I've homeschooled, unschooled and sent my kids to public school. There's more than one way to homeschool, for sure. There's tons of combinations that will, or can work for you and your child(ren).

We're all different. Some of us learn better with structure, some of us like to freestyle and others like some structure, but with independence. Kids are the same way. We have strengths and weaknesses and the strengths can really be capitalized during homeschooling, because of the flexibility towards individual needs. Just like we all find different types of jobs more interesting and doable, our kids find learning to be much the same way.

In the beginning most people that opt to homeschool (without being forced) often ease their way into it. I can't think of any better of a time than now that this would apply. Our world has been shook up a bit and so many things are uncertain to adults and kids alike. I would recommend starting off with a loose schooling schedule that is very basic and non-time consuming, especially

Monday, October 21, 2019

Freestyle Ramble

It's getting to be be the latter part of October. The leaves are beginning to fall quickly from the trees and the colors are changing from olive greens to yellows and some rusty reds. In Kansas it's not always predictable what type of fall you'll get. Sometimes it might get too cold too quickly causing the leaves to fall from the trees before turning many colors at all, or other times there can be spectacular bursts of cascading colors that lasts into November.

Much like our fall my physical health is this way, especially this time of the year. Unpredictable. A few years ago when the migraines began to take hold I noticed that in fall they would get noticeably worse more years than not. I am kind of waiting to see how this one pans out. So far not much of a change in the norm of how it's been. I was finally able to see a specialist, so maybe a solution, or at least an improvement in the severity is on the horizon? Fingers crossed.

Tomorrow is Bubby's last IEP meeting. Yes. Last. He will graduate high school in May. He will turn 18 in about 2 weeks.

I will let that sink in for a second for long time readers. 😂