Coming Back From Isolation

My dear friends, I would like to apologize for disappearing so thoroughly from most of your lives both this year and last. I also want to explain a bit about why I disappeared.

When I disappeared it was more that I became unable to reach out, even though I desperately could’ve used the support of more friends during that time.

Someone whom I had considered a close friend turned out to be not a friend at all. But before I even began the process of figuring out that she wasn’t a friend, she had already effectively isolated me from those who truly were or still are my friends.

The thing about liars (especially those who lie about big things), is that they can’t be trusted. I trusted a liar and it was a huge mistake. By the time I figured out it had been a mistake to trust or even help this alleged friend of mine, I was too sapped of energy to do anything but simply hunker down and try to survive.

Isolation is a tricky thing too because it looks so different from the inside versus the outside.

As I was being isolated, other close friends of mine were being encouraged to believe that I was deliberately excluding them from my life. This was completely untrue and effectively led to my further isolation.

When someone disappears or becomes distanced from others, the way that I did, it can be easy to take their disappearance personally. In my situation, that perceived personal affront was used by my alleged friend to further isolate me and control the situation.

This was all done without my consent and I had very little awareness that it was even happening.

I am so thankful for those of you who have been gracious and understanding as I’ve gradually come back into your lives and who didn’t take it personally. It really had nothing to do with any of you, my actual friends.

I’ve recently learned that one of the downsides of trusting someone who lies frequently and about other people is that they eventually will lie about you too. Not a fun lesson, but an important one. So, if you have any questions about that situation (or any other you think I might have been involved in), please ask me directly and I will do my best to be as honest as possible about it.

I’m gradually working on letting more people back into my life. The order I’ve gone in so far has nothing to do with my regard (or disregard) for anyone, it’s more of a convenience thing.

I know “convenience” sounds bad too, but with limited energy after a full Autistic Burnout comes an increased need to go with the flow and people who *reach out to me are more likely to be added back into my life sooner than those who don’t. Those who live nearby and see me more often are, likewise, easier to add back than those who are far away.

Thank you for your patience and I appreciate you all!

*Unless I’ve told you that your communication with me causes panic attacks, in which case please just don’t.


An Autistic Announcement

Many people who know me well already know this because I’ve been increasingly open about it, but I want to make a general, public post about autism so here goes.

Around two years ago I received an autism diagnosis. For those who are surprised, please read this.

Knowing I’m autistic is not a bad thing. In fact, this is the single most helpful thing I’ve ever learned about myself. There will be many links in this post if you also want more information.

You may want to read Nick Walker’s What is autism? to start with. Here’s an introduction geared towards a newly diagnosed child if you would prefer a simpler explanation in very clear language.

Being autistic explains my life. Every struggle, every confused moment, everything. I’m not interested in rehashing my history so you’ll just have to trust me about this. The diagnostic process took months and involved a thorough and harrowing look into my past and then-present struggles.

I’m going to make a list for the rest of the post. These are some important things to know if you care about me, especially as April “Autism Bewareness” Month approaches:

  • I use identity-first language. I’m autistic. I don’t “have” or “live with” autism. If you want to learn more, this post looks at the significance of language choice and has links to commentary on all sides of the person-first vs identity-first debate. This brief post (with a nifty comic to illustrate the point) effectively sums up my thoughts about the issue.
  • I struggle a great deal with communicating clearly in person even when I seem to be communicating just fine. If you’re not sure what I mean, please ask for clarification rather than making assumptions. I may need a moment or two to process what you’re saying, especially if you say something unexpected. I may then need another moment or two (or even years, in extreme cases) in order to figure out how to turn my response into words. Sometimes I can’t talk effectively or at all and this may cut a conversation short. I almost always prefer conversing via text (online, email, etc) rather than via spoken word.
  • I often get overwhelmed very quickly when socializing and/or in a situation with a lot of sensory input and it can take me a while to respond to texts, emails, and private messages. I’m also terrible about getting together with people in person. Please don’t take such delays personally.
  • I’m not interested in having anything to do with puzzle pieces, lighting it up blue, Autism $peaks, or ABA. I don’t particularly want to be tagged in or sent posts about those things either, especially in April when that rhetoric is unavoidable to begin with.
  • I do not use functioning labels (such as “high functioning” and “low functioning”) because I’ve found they are not helpful, can be harmful, and aren’t accurate anyhow. Some days are easier for me than others and if you see me out and about then it’s probably a pretty decent day.
  • If you have an autistic child or think you may be autistic yourself and want help sifting through the available information, please contact me privately. I’m usually happy to send you specific links and/or chat with you about your situation as I feel able. I’ve read/saved hundreds of links, have read dozens of books relating to autism (mostly from other autistic perspectives), and I love sharing autism information with people who are sincerely interested in learning more.
  • I’d rather you directly ask me questions about autism than use google because most top google sources are written by non-autistic people and often don’t accurately reflect the experiences of #ActuallyAutistic people. I co-founded a local autistic advocacy/support group and post autism information regularly on the group’s Facebook page, which you can follow, if you’d like.

Thank you for reading ❤


Dandelion Wine

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of dandelion wine. Well, maybe not always, but certainly ever since I read the Ray Bradbury book of the same name. The quote that really caught my fancy was this one:

Dandelion Wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered…Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass, a tiny glass of course, the smallest tingling sip for children; change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in.

Two years ago, when we were still living in WA, we looked out our windows one fine midday and noticed that our yard was almost completely carpeted with beautiful yellow dandelion flowers and we decided, on the spot, that we should try our hand at making some dandelion wine. We’d never made wine before. We had none of the necessary equipment. So we looked up recipes and methods and headed out to the brewing store to pick up the equipment and then we came back home and made up a nice big batch!

Then we moved across the country and sort of… neglected the brew for the next two years. Oops!

So, we weren’t expecting much when we finally bottled up the wine last Friday evening. The wine ended up being amazingly strong, but quite good! It’s nice and sweet – you can actually taste the dandelion flowers – while also being quite dry and I’m as pleased as I can possibly be to report that it does taste like summer in a glass.

We’ll definitely have to make another batch next summer and this time we’ll actually bottle it up the way you’re supposed to. I’m absolutely thrilled that this batch wasn’t a complete waste though and we should probably try some other foraging-type brews in the future. This was a very satisfying endeavor on the whole. Sadly there aren’t any brewing stores in our new area so we’ll have to plan ahead a bit more next time, but that’s probably not a bad thing.


Driving in a New Town

Learning to drive in a new town is… interesting. We moved to the Augusta, GA area in the middle of December, but I didn’t start driving around until about a month ago because we also have a new car and we weren’t able to move the seat  forward which meant I couldn’t reach the pedals. Eventually we bought a cushion from the Salvation Army so I can sit forward enough even though the seat still doesn’t move… and I digress…

I was very nervous about learning to drive our new car (a ’78 VW bus) in a brand new town. I’m a good driver, but I’ve never regularly driven in a large city or in a town where most of the roads are 4+ lanes wide. I learned to drive in Kitsap County, WA – Land of the Two Lane Roads. Driving on two-lane roads is nice and I really like it, but I found myself at a serious disadvantage when we moved here and I realized that I have virtually no experience driving on large roads.

Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten more practice and am gradually getting more comfortable on the larger roads here. I’m rediscovering that I *am* a good driver and that I can do this! I’m finally starting to feel as though I know where I’m going sometimes without having to print out a long list of directions from mapquest. I’m learning the names of the roads and which roads to avoid during rush-hour (pretty much all of them in Columbia County…).

I’m also getting comfortable with the VW clutch again after having driven an automatic for the last year and a half. I’m more used to having such a large vehicle behind me and virtually nothing in front of me. I’m discovering that VW busses are incredibly fun to drive and almost as fun to drive as a VW beetle – which was my first car.

I’m beginning to enjoy driving again. Life is good 🙂


Relax, Take it easy, Unwind, Pause

My children are napping, my tea is brewing, and my husband is working. It is that lovely time of my day when I truly have time all to myself.

It is a pause between my morning and evening, this time that I have to myself.

I read, I write, I recharge. I sip my tea.

I forget the laundry that needs to be folded. The dishes that need to be washed. The carpet that, once again, needs to be vacuumed. I concentrate on being relaxed. I take deep breaths.

I ponder deep thoughts. I pray for myself and for others. I ask for patience and wisdom.

The dog is relaxed as she sleeps on the rug. The cat is relaxed as she gazes out the window.

The sun is sinking lower and relaxing in the sky.

I lazily sip my tea.

There will be time later to do the dishes. Time enough in the future to vacuum and fold clothes.

There is not much time for just me, and I take it eagerly when it comes.

There is not much time to relax, take it easy, unwind, and pause in the middle of the day.

I let the silence wash over me like the sun’s rays.

The tea is gone. It is time to plan, to do, to live actively! The pause has done its job well. I am refreshed. I am ready to face the rest of my day.

Dishes,  laundry, carpet, dinner! Children, husband, friends! I can do it all. But not without my restful pause.

Home Comforts – The Art & Science of Keeping House

by Cheryl Mendelson has been such a help to me lately. It may very well rank right up there with The Tightwad Gazette and Clutter’s Last Stand as one of the most useful and helpful books I’ve ever owned.

I was never taught how to take care of a house. I never learned how to straighten as I went or how to keep up on chores so that they weren’t always completely overwhelming. In my family, while I was growing up, we only cleaned on Saturday and it was a huge deal. It took practically all. day. long. So I learned to hate cleaning/picking up after myself and others. I learned that it was an all day chore when it happened and that I should put it off as long as possible because it always took forever.

I was also never taught how to get rid of anything. Everything I had, I just assumed I would always have. My parents modeled this behavior to me quite effectively. My dad had shelves and shelves of books that would periodically end up in piles on the floor and wait for weeks before they were reshelved. My mom kept everything. Every. single. thing. She still has boxes of junk mail and coupons from four years ago (maybe longer even) because when we would “tidy” up the house we would just put all those papers in boxes for her to go through at some mythical later date, but “later” never came.

Enter: my husband and two daughters. Now it wasn’t just my own mess that I was procrastinating about picking up. It wasn’t just my own clutter that I didn’t want to get rid of. Now it was my husband’s mess (which, admittedly wasn’t too bad) and my older daughter’s mess (toddler mess… pretty bad!) as well. I decided that I didn’t want to raise my children in clutter and mayhem the way I was raised.

“Clutter’s Last Stand” by Don Aslett came into my life through the Library Book Sale. I now know better how to decide whether something stays in my life or needs to leave ASAP. The fewer things I have, the fewer things I have to take care of and the less time I have to spend putting them away.

I still wasn’t comfortable with the cleaning aspect of keeping house though. I was never sure whether I was doing it correctly or often enough (or too often?). The book Home Comforts – The Art & Science of Keeping House fairly leapt off the shelf at me when I was at Border’s a couple of weeks ago. I was glancing through their selection of house-keeping and organizational books and this one was by far the largest housekeeping book on the shelves. It was practically corpulent!

I flipped through it and found that it contained information about how to take care of almost every aspect of house keeping. It covered how to make your home clean and yet not institutional. It covered how to choose fabrics and how to wash them without destroying them in the process. It covered how to make a schedule so that housekeeping doesn’t become overwhelming due to handling it from crisis to crisis.

I bought a copy.

It is changing my life. I have set aside one day a week to do baking so that my family has bread and breakfast muffins every day. We have a budget now and have put it down on paper so we will be sure to stick to it! I’m vacuuming the house several time a week and I don’t feel overwhelmed by the kitchen because the dishes are done after almost every single meal (breakfast only dirties a couple of plates that can wait until the lunch dishes are washed).

I’m getting my online life under control so that I have time to do the things that really matter – spending time making my house comfortable and safe. Spending time with my husband and daughters. Spending time LIVING! I’m cleaning more than I ever have before, but I feel so much better. I used to hide from my messy house by spending excessive time online and now I am able to spend time in my house because it’s a nice, pleasant place to be.

Now I just have to keep it up!

Home Again

So here we are. Back home again. After spending 4 weeks down in the sunny south we are back in the cold, wet, rainy Pacific Northwest. Oh well, it’s home. We didn’t want to come back this time though.

We’re now 99% sure that we will be heading south later this year to be closer to my family and so that my wonderful husband can finish his degree. A cross-country move with two toddlers in tow, oh boy. We can actually afford to buy a house in the south also and that will be just lovely!

I have much to say about housekeeping and things that I have learned this week, but I think that will have to wait until after the girls have their nap. It’s getting to be fussy-o-clock around these parts and typing is getting harder and harder…

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