How a man on the Spectrum learns to live

Posts tagged ‘Birthday’

Don’t Stop Living

You know something…if life is anything like this past weekend, then it’s never too late to have a dreams come true!  To all of you who are in the middle of celebrating the last of the holidays, I send you my regards.

Let me ask you this: Have you ever had a dream that you held on to all your life?  Did you feel like it would change your whole life if it came true?  Has something happened to you that reminded you that life was worth living to the fullest?  Well, all of this has happened to me, and I feel so lucky and blessed to be alive.

It started last Saturday, after returning from the farmer’s market.  My mom told me she couldn’t wait until Sunday to give me my birthday present.  She handed me an envelope; inside was a birthday card, but inside the card was a note that said “Pack your bag.  We’re going on an adventure!”  I had no idea what she meant; all she told me was to pack an overnight bag, ’cause we were driving up North for a couple of hours.

This was actually a big step for me at one time.  It has been said that people on the spectrum have a hard time adjusting to surprises and changes in routine.  That was true for me when I was younger.  Even today, I don’t know how I did it, but I got to a point where I could deal with changes and surprises a lot better.

I was driven north to L.A.  Then we pulled into the J.W. Marriott hotel in the L.A Live area, and the first surprise was that we were staying in this amazingly luxurious hotel for the night.  After checking in, we went up to our room, where another surprise awaited.  Before I knew what was happening, Mom pulled out a folder where there was a paper in it.  I read it and my eyes went wide with amazement.  There on the paper was a confirmation for two tickets to see Stevie Wonder at a concert to benefit his charity, House Full of Toys!

I just about went ballistic when I saw the tickets!  To see Stevie Wonder perform has always been a dream of mine since I was probably 10 years old!  Something about his poetic lyrics and spiritual vibe has always resonated with me.  I just knew that I would be seeing a legend who has performed with so many other artists I admire.

Later that night, we took a stroll around L.A. Live and had dinner at the Wolfgang Puck restaurant.  We went inside the Nokia Theater and were in for a treat.  Stevie Wonder was hosting the event, with colorful comedy provided by Steve Harvey.  Special guests included old school R&B singers Little Anthony and the Imperials and Charlie Wilson and the Gap Band.  There were quite a few other surprise guests as well; they included Michael McDonald, Hip-Hop singer Drake, and even Justin Bieber!

Of course, when the legend himself was singing, I was thrilled, to say the least.  I had waited nearly twenty years for this opportunity, and when it finally happened, I thought it was “bucket list amazing”.  I mean, I was so ecstatic for this amazing birthday gift that I could cross it off my list of things I want to do before I die!

Of course, I had no idea that I would get another birthday present on my actual birthday!  That morning, before we left, I got to meet my dad at the Agape International Spiritual Center and spend some quality time with him.  Before we went home, we found a local Indian restaurant with a vegetarian menu and I enjoyed a delicious birthday meal before the weekend was done.

As Christmas comes to a close for me, I reflect on what’s happened to me so far.  More than just seeing a concert, I had a dream come true.  Even more so, I spent some quality time with my dad.  We have not always gotten along in the past, but I could feel that for the past few years, we both have made progress on bridging the divide between us, and this time together was one of the best gifts I could receive.

Like an egotistical fool, I could talk on and on about the material gifts, but really, they were just the icing on the cake of the real gifts I received.  For me, my birthday and Christmas have been days of spiritual invigoration.  I reflect on how the year has been one of personal growth and remind myself of what I can make happen in the coming year.  What I continued to receive this year is the company of a family that loves me, and the reassurance that I have blessings that some people do not have.

If this is any indication as to what I have going for me, then I don’t think I need much else to be fulfilled.  After spending time with my dad, I realize how rarely we see each other.  I’m looking forward to making progress and mending our bonds.  I also realized that every year at Christmas, I have enjoyed riding in the car with mom, and going to the house where the family Christmas Eve party happens.

As long as I’ve been alive, I can still feel the magic of that car ride.  It’s because of that ride that I treasure the Christmas memories even more, because Mom has always been a constant beacon of love and care.  She outdid herself this year, when she took me on a ride for my birthday and made one of my greatest dreams come true after twenty years.  Until such time as she has left this mortal coil, I hope that the tradition of the ride to the family Christmas party continues for years to come.

I have so much to live for; I’m going to continue on my journey, and I’ll be worrying less about when things happen, because I learned that when I’m open to receiving, God and the Universe will grant me my desires when the time is right.

To all my readers out there, I hope that Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa have been special for you as well.  Every year I count my blessings and rejoice in the happiness when I see others do the same, especially when they draw closer to their friends and loved ones.  I will be back with another post before the year is over.  After the blessings of this year, I know that more reflection is due when the time comes.  I have much to look back upon, and much more to look forward to.

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The Found Weekend

On a weekend in September, something really special happened.  Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve tried to come up with words to describe it best, but I feel that mere words don’t do it justice.  In light of this, I can say for certain that what happened to me was…harmonic; as of now, the best feeling of connection that I have had with life.

I have had more than my share of tough times.  A few days ago I did have another bout with anxiety and momentary depression.  The first thing I did was recognize that I was in the middle of an emotional tailspin, the next thing I did was take the first step.  I remembered the blessings of an understanding family as well as the good fortune to have found an insightful counselor to work out my personal issues.  I also remembered how many good memories I possess, because I feel that when you remember the best of times during the worst, life can feel very special once again.

Let me ask you this: have you ever been so nervous and insecure that you avoided socializing, even at family events?  Did you realize how much of life you may have missed by not putting yourself out into the universe?  When did you finally step out of your comfort zone and were surprised at how good it felt?  Did something feel so right that your spirits soared incredibly high as a result?  Well, for me, all of the aforementioned feelings are ones that I’ve felt in the past and present.  Hopefully, in the future I will experience mostly the positive ones.

I first started noticing a change after I received an invitation in the mail for an upcoming family wedding.  Even as I felt the anticipation of the upcoming geek-centric magic of Comic-Con, I felt anticipation stirring for the upcoming wedding.

Around the same time, I received an e-mail about a surprise party for my uncle on the morning after the wedding.  Very quickly, the prospect of two early Fall events in one weekend made me smile even more than I usually do.  In the past, attending social events, much less two in a short period of time was not even something I would have considered because of my lack of social skills and always feeling out of place.

When the actual wedding happened, it was simply magical.  The atmosphere was vibrant from the moment I arrived. It was held in an outdoor setting, under a clear, sunny sky overlooking a picturesque vineyard.

The DJ kept spinning out an awesome mix of music; it was so awesome that I was on my feet dancing for almost the entire time!  The only time I sat down was to talk with friends and relatives.  I noticed a couple of girls who seemed to enjoy my company on the dance floor; looks like being me is really starting to pay off.  The entire affair was classy, but not ostentatious.  Things could not have gone any better; everything just felt right.

When the wedding was over, I left with several new memories and a handful of thoughtful souvenirs.  But the best part was that I left with pride, knowing that I was engaged in conversation and interaction with other people.  Years ago, I was liable to stay on the edges of a social situation, finding some way to distract myself from even talking to people by reading a book or playing a handheld game.

It took me a long time, but by becoming aware and immersed in the world around me, I have been able to break out of the shell that has contained my potential.  It didn’t happen overnight, and like someone who has achieved sobriety, it’s a daily process.

The next day was also a day of celebration.  We met in Old Town San Diego for my uncle’s birthday brunch.  I found it easy to relax and talk to other relatives who were there.  When the guest of honor arrived, we all stood up and cheered “Surprise!”  He was clearly not expecting such a warm welcome, and was happy to see everyone there.  The best part was that not only did I get to try out a new restaurant, but I was able to do so in celebration of a family birthday.

This particular weekend still resonates with me more than a month later.  Even though I have had a couple of difficult moments where my stress level was elevated and I became frustrated and angry, I was able to find a private place to lie down and breathe deeply.  As agitating and painful as my hurt and anger was, I remembered that it was only temporary.  As I was able to reflect on this memorable weekend, I was able to remind myself that good memories can save you.

I feel that it takes a lot of self-teaching to gain the confidence to remember what blessings occur with the power of good memories.  I have been fortunate enough to use them as a self-healing method when the worst of my negative feelings have passed.  That weekend had such significance because it felt so right, and the feelings are still vivid.  I know that I’ve been saved from a lot of downward emotional spirals by taking such a step.

What I know for sure is that I listened to my gut instinct when I kept replaying the weekend in my mind.  I knew that it was a memory worth holding on to, and writing down.  In all, I am grateful for the wisdom to see it and know when to write it.