This particular curve ball, last week, hit the strike zone high and inside - where I never saw it coming. I didn't have a chance to swing or react preemptively. (Now, before you get all impressed with the usage of that baseball metaphor. I will confess that I know just enough about some sports to sound knowledgeable. But honestly, it is all just superior observation skills.) As a side note, these talents are enormously helpful when you wear as many hats as I do.
I won't go into detail (today) - however, I wanted to use this incident to showcase our ability to (literally and figuratively) turn on a dime. To say I am proud of this reputation is an understatement.
Many parents find us because they are overwhelmingly frustrated that no one ever listens to their child or them. And to go even further, the system is so rigid in their stance of "this is the way we do things" that these kids are traumatized by their methodology.
When families sit in my office and tell their stories - I listen. No matter how long it takes. Then, often, through many interruptions of more heartbreaking tales, I tell them about DRC - our philosophy and mission - and what we do here on any given day. As you can imagine, it is usually the polar opposite of their experience, and they are blown away.
Everything that we do hinges on one thing - flexibility. If something isn't quite right - we will figure it out together. If a kid wants to explore something that seems impossible - we will find a way (eventually).
At DRC, we are constantly modeling problem-solving skills (otherwise known as the scientific method). Learn as much as possible about the situation, ask questions, brainstorm and think outside every box ever created, play and experiment with the ideas, fail, reject early drafts, and find the answer.
These kids are learning that curve balls are an inevitable part of life - and we will all get blindsided occasionally. The lesson here is to get up (bandage your cuts, scrapes, and bruised ego), explore all the possibilities and (most importantly) the potential buried within the fallout, and move, although sometimes clumsily, with as much grace and gratitude as you can muster - toward the solution.
Weekly Creative Meditation
Thank you to the Foster/Peet crew for taking care of some of the maintenance issues at the Canton Center last Sunday. There is plenty more to do... If you are a handy person with "fix it" skills, please get in touch. We will gratefully accept your offer to help.
Summer Program - begins in two weeks. There are a few spaces left - register today.
This, as it turns out, is an unintended follow-up to last week's post. I have had several ideas circling and cycling through my brain these last few days- but none have cooperated enough to be wrangled into something worthy of my (or your) time.
So with that explanation - I am officially honoring my artistic process and allowing these creative meditations (inspired by the industrious tiny creatures in my garden), which presented themselves and poured out without hesitation, to speak for me this week. Enjoy!
Summer Program is filling up. Don't let your child miss out! Register today.
Have you noticed? Procrastination and guilt are the very best of buddies. They show up prepared - one with cozy blankets, some good books, and a streaming device, and the other follows close behind with snacks - ready to settle in for a while.
I often wonder, seems this is the case - why do I put things off? I am not talking about the small stuff - here, either.
For me, (I think) it comes down to the fear of screwing up those big projects - the inevitable mistakes and the myriad of responsibilities that follow once they have been completed.
For instance, a few days ago, I finally self-published the second book in my children's series as an e-book - twelve years AFTER the first was published and fifteen years after I finished writing it. Yeah, I procrastinated the first one too.
My excuse for the second book was that I didn't have any illustrations (my artist had grown up, left home, gone to college, and got married - jeesh!). And despite my many efforts to find someone to take on the task - it never happened. This past week, I actually figured out how to solve that issue. Duh - I have the tools to create something myself!
Seems I was on a roll - I also made the first one in the series available as an e-book and republished the paperback. I will make the second one accessible in paperback later today, too.
You would think I would feel all the happy emotions - pride, relief, joy... This is not the case - now I feel dumb, super guilty for taking so long, and overwhelmed by the next step - self-promotion. Which, as many of you understand, is not my jam.
There are other biggish things that I put off, too - at this moment, it is a significant grant that I know we will likely get. And the piece that makes it even worse is I literally have the playbook from others (thank you, my LL Peeps) that have written it and received the funding.
Sometimes, I remember to give myself a break - some grace. I am a firm believer in the beneficence of the Universe. She is guiding me - even though this feels (looks) like procrastination, maybe it is simply waiting until everything aligns for the most favorable outcome. Or am I possibly selling myself a line of bull to feel better? (Pass the snacks, please.)
In any case - I am motivated to write (copy & paste) that grant - today or tomorrow... and to start on the book promotion. The links are below. Please share.
May you too find the guidance, inspiration, and grace from the Universe - that informs you (when, how, and where) to do all those things you aspire to.
Weekly Creative Meditation
Summer Program - register today!
The Schoolhouse Gang Series:
Welcome to Streamside! This is the small country schoolhouse in Northern New York where the Schoolhouse Gang - a group of ten-year-old best friends share everything. Follow along on their adventures as they play and learn together.
I will have paperback copies of both in the next few weeks, if you would like to purchase them from me (I will also "make" more by selling them directly). Shoot me a message if you would like either or both. That will help me determine how many to order.
Earlier this week, I wrote the following on social media. It accompanied the haiku that I am using as today’s creative meditation.
Weekly Creative Meditation
Summer Programs - So sorry to announce that we have cancelled the DRC-East Summer Program. There was not enough interest to make it viable.
However, summer program at the Canton facility, during the last three weeks of August, will be running. They have become a beloved tradition for many local families. The program is designed to offer opportunities for hands-on exploration, creativity, and fun that children crave. DRC provides a space filled with resources and materials where kids are encouraged to explore their interests freely.
Don't let your kids miss out on this opportunity - register today.
As weird as it may sound, this is a love letter to myself firstly - which, as I am discovering, is many years overdue. Let me back up and tell this story from the beginning. As you can imagine, I intend for this post to reveal some highly personal truths, and I will likely cry multiple times while writing it. Fortunately, my tears won't influence the readability like it would if this was on paper instead of your screen.
Over the past several months, as I become more conversant with ASD, I have become increasingly aware that I am neurodivergent and likely autistic. However, I shied away from sharing my suspicions with people close to me (or even admitting it to myself) for many reasons - not the least, the fear of appearing fraudulent and attention-seeking.
Then last week, I traveled to the Liberated Learners Conference in N.J. with Bridget, a DRC board member. One of the workshops, "Supporting Autistic Youth at a Liberated Learners Center," was facilitated by JayJay, an autistic staff person from Bay State Learning Center near Boston, MA, who is also an activist. I should also mention that they presented via a virtual platform.
I honestly don't remember much of the actual presentation - because after they explained how, unfortunately, society, at large, views autism as a disorder - a pathology that needs to be fixed - they began to talk about traits that many autistic people share. They listed all the usual suspects associated with ASD and then finished the list with "dyspraxia and face blindness."
One more step backward in this tale - during our nearly seven-hour drive to the conference, I had mentioned in passing that I am extremely clumsy and always feel like I am not quite centered in my body - just a "half a bubble off of plumb," as the saying goes. And that I also experience a mild form of face blindness. I mostly recognize people by their mannerisms and the way they move.
When JayJay uttered those words, I turned to Bridget, and she turned to me, and I burst into messy, snotty, throat-clogging tears. I couldn't get it together enough to ask all the questions. But, I did manage to say (and gesture), through the lump in my throat - "that is me."
To say everyone in the room (including JayJay) was overwhelmingly supportive would be an understatement. The hugs were tight. The unconditional love, acceptance, and understanding of all my pent-up emotions and years of frustration were in plain view. And most importantly, they all acknowledged the validity of my statement, "I am autistic." This is just one of the many reasons I am so very grateful to have these people in my life.
To be clear, owning this label does not change the essential me. What it does - is allow me to fully embrace and unmask that quirky, weirdly geeky, smart, socially awkward, sensory sensitive, creative, "half a bubble off of plumb" little girl inside - who has been hiding (for 57 years) because she never understood her place in the world.
This leads me to my final two points: Autism is not a disease. Full Stop! We are not sick - just differently wired. Which doesn't make us any less - only different. We don't want or need to be pathologized, remediated, or "fixed" in any way.
And secondly, we can advocate for ourselves - as a group and as individuals. We don't need or want neurotypical (conformists) to lead the charge - needless to say, all you neuro-"typs" are more than welcome to join us as a support network. We want to be completely clear that we are not puzzle pieces waiting for you to fit us into the spaces you deem appropriate because we make you uncomfortable.
Autistic people are fully capable of self-advocacy and activism. We are also permitted to, individually, take our places in this world that feel right to each of us - that allow us to be our unmasked, authentic selves.
It is not lost on me that autistic people generally have a shorter life span. This is accounted for in several ways - 1) we are often forced through behavior therapy (ABA) to become "normal" versions of ourselves. 2) this often results in serious mental health issues, and 3) we are shunned and not given a legitimate place in society, which means we are often pushed aside without homes, work, or healthcare.
This is the main reason I requested the above workshop. A good number of the young people who find DRC are autistic - many undiagnosed. I wanted to know how DRC can help them be themselves in a world that desires and forces normalcy and perfection.
In a roundabout way, I found my answer - we simply do what we have always done - provide a safe environment and support them with as many accommodations as they need to joyfully celebrate their purely, unmasked, and fiercely genuine selves.
*Note: JayJay's FB page can be found here. It is a great place to begin learning about ASD from an autistic person.
Weekly Creative Meditation
Summer Programs: The DRC-East three themed programs begin on July 11th. Currently, we do not have a minimum number to make the program financially viable, and if that is the case, we will not run it. Please get in touch before Tuesday the 5th if your child is interested.
I have been updating the DRC website over the past few days. Please take a look and let me know if there any links not working - thanks. PS - I know that the Navigation Menu is not showing up on the blog page. Apparently, it is a Weebly issue that has occurred for other folks too.
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