How a man on the Spectrum learns to live

Remembering My Purpose

I've remembered my purpose again!

I’ve remembered my purpose again!

Hard to believe that nearly four years ago I started this blog. A lot has changed since then. It has been a long time since anything new was written here, but now I’ve found a renewed sense of purpose and a new way of sharing my story with the world. Over the past several months, I had lost some of my consistency with posting regularly. Now, with a new sense of purpose, I reflect on what brought me to the world of blogging in the first place.

When I graduated from college in 2011, I had achieved something that very few people on the Autism Spectrum accomplish. That’s another story, of course. The truth is, I was still unsure of what I was going to do after the ceremony was over and I was done with the parties that my friends and family threw for me.

After talking it out with Mom, I realized that my story needed to be told to serve as an example of someone with Autism.  I had merely toyed with the idea of starting a blog, but after giving it some serious thought, I knew I needed a purpose after my graduation. So, after some research and examination of other blogs and hosting sites, I found a place to start and the tools to set it up.  With clarity and a sense of purpose, Lesson Plan for Life was born on June 26th, 2011.

A lot has changed in my life since then, and for the past several months, the recent changes in my life have caused me to lose my consistency in posting. But, I do not regret the time lost, and I’m happy to have found a new vibration and energy to bring life to the purpose of this blog: to be a voice and a living example of what’s possible for someone born on the Autism Spectrum.

Looking back on my first post, I remember where I’ve come from, where I’ve been, and how much further I’m going with everything I’m learning. Check the link here to read my full purpose statement from nearly four years ago.  As always, I am grateful to everyone who visits and comments on my writing. I look forward to maintaining my writing and my lessons in this amazing state of being called Life! Last, but not least, I share with you my phrase of purpose that I wish for you all: “Be happy, be proud, be you”!

Never Stop Dancing

I like this post because it reminds me that you don’t have to be a professional to dance through life!

Rose with Thorns

My mother named me “Anna” which means “Grace” because she felt like I was a dancer while in her womb. Her thought was not so much that I would become a ballerina but that I would dance through life with grace.

When I think about that name, I feel sometimes like I have failed it. If my life has been a dance, it has looked more like a tempest-filled Irish jig with me falling over in the intense parts of the the music. Or perhaps it has been a breakdance routine where I struggle to get back on my feet.

Yet, sometimes I think about the beauty of a dance and like to compare it to life. Your choreography might seem simple to those who know little about dance, but that is not an indicator of how hard you are working on an intricate step. Sweat runs down your face…

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As long as you have some form of love in your life, then you're already a winner.

As long as you have some form of love in your life, then you’re already a winner.

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Have you ever felt like your life is written in song lyrics? If so, what song is it, and why does it mean what it does? Is it about your pain or about your joy? Well, the song that best describes my life right now is the REO Speedwagon rock ballad “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. This is because I met someone very special when I least expected it. Since then, the resulting swell of emotions and feelings have made my head spin! I’ve never felt this connected to any woman before. She has become my girlfriend, and she is also much more than I ever could have imagined.

We met at a convention I was attending. There was a dance in full swing and I noticed a girl at the volunteer area table. There was something uniquely appealing about her, something attractive that radiated from within. After I introduced myself we both listened to the music that the band was playing. I noticed her mouthing the words of many American Jazz standards and my heart skipped a beat! I felt like she knew something that I thought only I knew! It was a feeling I couldn’t deny.

Within minutes I could feel my inhibitions and fears disappearing, so I took a leap of faith and asked her to dance. She knew what I was asking her because she finished my sentence with me and said yes! I felt a growth of confidence and self-esteem that I’d never felt before. My nervous tension, born out of my Asperger’s Syndrome and Social Anxiety, began to melt away as we danced and I stopped caring too much about what other people were thinking. Somehow I knew that I could trust this girl and be myself around her. I believed that she was going to profoundly change my life.

As the dance was winding down, we said good night and parted ways, but that wasn’t the end of it. Regretfully, I didn’t run into her on the last day of the convention. I felt a pang of disappointment, until I discovered, that night, that she had looked up my name on social media. I immediately responded back and established a connection. This used to be difficult for me. I didn’t think anyone would ever understand the deeper parts of me, and it used to be very hard to open up to people because I’d been hurt before and was too scared to put myself in a vulnerable position. Yet, as I began to see her more often, I found myself being more and more honest with her. She was embracing my core traits as if she had known me for years! I began realizing that we were going to enrich each other’s lives in so many ways.

We’ve been seeing each other for more than two months now. The longer we’re together, the more we discover how much we have in common. In each other’s company, we’re a safe zone of open and honest communication that enhances our trust of one another. I feel like I’ve fallen in love with my best friend! We understand each other on so many levels and have bonded over so many experiences that its like our most impossible dreams and desires have come true! I don’t feel like I’m someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I’m just a man who’s finally learned how to be in love. She has brought a new level of joy and fulfillment to my life that I’ve never had with any other woman. We love each other wholeheartedly and our lives have become a song; and like the song says, “I can’t fight this feeling anymore“!

Today’s musical inspiration is, of course, REO Speedwagon with “Can’t Fight This Feeling“.

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May we all be grateful for our country.

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Happy Independence Day!

Hello, Everybody! I’m sorry I haven’t posted in such a long time, but so many great things have happened in my life that I’m still trying to keep my head on straight! I’ll write about them later, but for now I’m here with a message for all of my readers here in the United States.

I wish all of you here in America a happy and blessed Independence Day. I’m grateful for all of your support and I’m grateful to live in a country that has always afforded me and my family the opportunities and options to grow, flourish, and find our own freedom.

Thank you for all of your support. May we all find our true freedom. Have a Happy Fourth of July!

Today’s musical inspiration is a young girl of 7 named Rhema Marvanne with a stunning rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. http://youtu.be/YrCvMTGs2u8

Random Bliss

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Sometimes, you find random bliss in the most unlikely places. That recently happened when I was on DeviantArt and read the latest journal entry of an artist I follow. This woman who calls herself PixelKitties is known among some artists and pop culture geeks for being skilled with drawing and crafts, and possessing a very witty sense of humor. What was different about this journal entry was the candor, honesty, and thought-provoking words that left me speechless.

I don’t have time, inclination or the patience to tell other people what to do or how to live their lives. Policing my own self is a full time job. I don’t want to be anyone else’s moral gendarme. All I want is to be a good person and treat others with the same respect, understanding and kindness that I want to be treated with.

I don’t deal in stereotypes or broad generalizations or beating people over the head with the cudgel of my own personal beliefs. I have faced pain and suffering and discrimination and hurt and heartache in my life-just the same as anyone. I’ve done good things and bad, brave and cowardly, honorable and self-serving. I have been there, just the same as you. And because of that, more than anything else in this world, I believe in empathy and understanding, never condemnation. My past mistakes- and they are multitude- is today’s lesson and tomorrow’s regret. I dare not judge or begrudge others for their missteps along the way.” (May 22, 2014)

Reading these words was like reading my innermost feelings. I felt a sense of grace, as if God and the Universe were showing me that I wasn’t the only one who was felt this way in their core; a reminder that I’m not alone in believing in the best of humanity. I remembered to stand in the truth of my own flaws and mistakes, and remembered that even when I was bullied, I chose to rise above the role of victim. This is important for anyone, not just someone on the Autism Spectrum. I feel like we all need to be reminded that we are not alone in our hopes and dreams. Even on days when we feel secure, a friendly and unexpected reminder can bring us extra joy and contentment. Even the simplest of words can become a gift of unexpected grace and random bliss.

Read the short, but sweet journal entry here at DeviantArt: PixelKitties’ Journal Entry

Today’s musical inspiration is favorite of mine and it’s how I feel right now: Live High by Jason Mraz

What will your story be?

What will your story be?

Inspired by my previous post: “Let’s Keep Moving!“, I wrote a poem about how I feel when I hike. I hope I inspire you to find your own unique meditation.

It can be anywhere: the trail you take
If you think about it, the difficulty doesn’t matter
The only constant thing is the anticipation: the feeling of silent preparation you’ve had before
The way your limbs and muscles tense and release when you breathe deeply and your lungs expand,
And then…you feel ready
You see the different sights around you, you have more breathing space
Concentrating on the movement of your legs
Carefully feeling as each step connects to the ground and your feet are gently grounded
The focus is only on the present moment
This is you, in the midst of one piece of Creation
When all is said and done, this is a moment
When you are connected perfectly with Spirit
Nothing can take that away from you
You are always blessed
May every step you take be better than your last
Happy Trails!

Let’s Keep Moving!

"I've Got to Keep on Moving!"-Matthew Wilder

“I’ve Got to Keep on Moving!”-Matthew Wilder

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned how being active has alleviated the worst parts of my Asperger’s Syndrome and helped me eliminate the need for prescription anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs. I’m very happy to say that I’m not only maintaining this lifestyle, but I’ve found new ways to keep myself healthy and vital. It’s a gradual process because I still need to take small steps to change my established routines, but I have a variety of activities that don’t feel like chores at all.

I believe it all starts with perspective. Some people still don’t realize how Aspies can be very sensitive to disruptions in routine. Generally, the lower functioning the person, the more likely they will act out in nonverbal, hard-to-understand ways. Even though I have High-Functioning Autism, I’ve still had my moments of vocal protest.

Can you imagine being so sensitive to disruptions in your surroundings that you become gripped by paralyzing fear and heart-pounding stress? Think of a high-stress, no-relief day with no end in sight and no way to communicate how you feel! This is what can happen to someone living with Autism on a daily basis!

Fortunately, with years of counseling, specialized therapy, and a strong support system, I developed coping skills like using different activities that not only boost my physical health, but also improve my mental health and well-being. I feel like physical fitness starts with improving the body and evolves into strengthening the mind and soul. Everyone including those on the Spectrum can benefit from variety, it just takes time to find out what works best.

Some activities I learned to enjoy with time, and others I took an instant liking to. I’ve written about the different exercise tapes and DVDs that got me started on my fitness journey. Since then, I’ve also utilized my membership at a local gym. One of my favorite activities is playing the Dance Dance Revolution arcade game and the different dancing games for Xbox 360 and Kinect. They give me a fun workout and an adrenaline rush that lifts my spirits to new heights! I’ve talked about this extensively in a previous post entitled “You Should Be Dancing

In the past two years I’ve developed an interest in hiking, which used to be out of character for me, I didn’t really consider myself an outdoor person. There is such a centering, affirming quality to hiking. Looking for different trails and walking a path in the midst of nature is a great way to clear my mind. When I focus on where I plant my feet, I’m reminded of the spiritual strength that comes from walking meditation. I regain a clear perspective on life, and that’s worth feeling tired at the end.

At the gym, I take advantage of the special classes that are offered. I’ve found the most energy, excitement, and sweat equity in cycling and kickboxing. Doing the early classes helps my day to start off in a positive way, and that’s something, considering that I never used to be a morning person!

I participate in several runs for charity each year: perfect opportunities to test my fitness level in the real world. I’ve also discovered farmer’s markets, museums, parks, and outdoor festivals are great not only for walking, but for socializing as well. It may not seem like much, but I enjoy living in the moment.

I’ve come a long way from the boy who was afraid of P.E. and ate junk food to hide his insecurities. I’m more alive and youthful than I was in high school! Now, what kind of activities keep you in motion? How long have you enjoyed them, and do they lift your spirits? Everyone’s at a different place in their journeys, and I’m just glad to be in the place I am today with the ability to keep moving!

Today’s musical inspiration is a fun little ditty from the 1980s by Matthew Wilder: “Break My Stride