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. 😂

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Building Happiness

About two weeks ago my family and I went on a four day vacation into the scenic mountains of Colorado and forests of New Mexico. It had been about 16 long years since we had taken a real vacation, which pretty much meant ever for the boys and only once for hubby and I.

We took long drives through the most curvy roads and gorgeous views. There was no itinerary and nowhere in particular to be. There were stops in overnight cabins in the woods, cafe lunches and parks to see, trails to walk if we came across some and wanted to peruse them at the time. It was quiet, peaceful and uncrowded. Just the way I like it.

We did stop to see some friends as we traveled. One of those friends was from my husband's childhood. We hadn't seen him in 22 years or more. He'd been staying with us and then left for Colorado, and that was that. Twenty-two years and now we're all gray. I'm not sure how that happened. It didn't feel like it was that long ago. One day I'm 18 and trying to get by and the next somehow I'm 40.

The in between years were not exactly filled with joy and peace. Those were years of struggling. Of course, don't get me wrong, there were happy moments, but there were also many of turmoil, pain and healing. So much confusion from my own perspective of not knowing I was autistic, and having such a dysfunctional family always interfering with everything I did. It was like a black cloud that followed me everywhere and sabotaged all that I did. I had to recognize and break free from that, which then required healing. My husband has had some similar issues.

I am always looking for that extra piece of the puzzle, or clue on ways to be happier. How can I improve my life? Sometimes I'll get this small, little clue that will cross my path that will be too obscure to put into words. It will be more of a feeling or a gist than an action. Like one time I had to go to the hospital for a routine surgery and the way the staff interacted was a specific kind of way. I can't say it, or explain it, but I felt it and it was very positive and it clicked something inside of my brain that helped me to relate to others in that manner, too. I cannot explain it, but it changed my perception of life, and my attitude.

But, this is something a tad more explainable. Being away, in such beautiful scenery, and then that final click inside of my brain was when I saw a physical representation of time. My brain went, "Wait. Stop everything." I had to fully comprehend this. I just can't handle another 22 years in Kansas. Ugh. I don't like it here. I spent the first 35 years of my life struggling and healing from so much. Look how quickly time can go by. Can I stand another 22 in a place I don't like?  What if we were able to enjoy that kind of nature all the time, or at least lived close enough to it to enjoy some of the time?

I don't know. It was an awakening to something. It was a whisper of an answer to that restless feeling