Category Archives: Writing

A Long Love of Reading

IMG_5037I started reading and speaking at about the same time. Letters and words read to me by adults became a magical fixation. Entranced by their power, at the age of one and a half, I was determined to harness the pictures for the words that adults used.

The books had pictures and were made of cardboard. The best audio books came with cassette tapes and had a voice or beep that told you when to turn the page, allowing me to more easily follow along. Goodnight Moon was one of my favorites. I’d listen to the words, following along in my book.

Listen to a book, follow along, rewind, repeat. Over and over, memorizing the words. Each word a little picture. I was reading but not phonetically. Deciphering the code, little by little. I started with easy words like dog, cat, and god (sometimes mixing up dog & god).

To entertain myself in the car I would read and call out the letters and words on street signs. On one road trip just before my second birthday, as my mother reviewed directions on a large paper map, I suddenly became VERY excited and thrust my tiny finger enthusiastically onto the map. “Ping-Pong! Ping Pong!” I exclaimed, pointing to the small town of Ding-Dong, Texas.

Earlier in the day, I’d been watching Beanie & Cecil. In the episode, they had sailed to the island of “Ping-Pong” and shown the location on a map. I was very excited when I thought I’d found it.

Reading came easy for me and had a head start on the other kids when I started Pre-K. Unfortunately, by the time I got to first grade, I hit my first roadblock. Reading aloud, something I still avoid as much as possible.

We sat in a circle, textbooks open. “As we go around the room, everyone will read a IMG_1704paragraph. We will go around the circle until we finish the story.” My memory of that day is still remarkably clear. I will always be able to replay those events in my head.

I remember the teacher’s anger when I didn’t read my paragraph. I remember reading the words in my mind, screaming the words in my head, then begging the words to come out of my mouth. Nothing. I knew the words but couldn’t say them. I remember being sent out of class for refusing to participate in the activity and I remember being ashamed.

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In middle school reading was a solitary activity, allowing me to dig myself deep into the elaborate universes of Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, & Stephen King. In the eighth grade I devoured Interview With a Vampire, Dracula, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

Throughout high school, I worked on writing. Listening to my favorite authors, making note of the writing styles and story patterns. Creating edgy teen vampire fiction, printed from an old Windows 95 computer. I placed the stories into brad folders before passing them along to my classmates.

 

As I’ve grown and changed, my love of reading has evolved. As a girl, I’d escape into fiction. In my late twenties, I started to find more value and joy in the accumulation of facts. There are still vivid pictures in my mind when I read, but now I’m visualizing real concepts, like human digestion and brain function.

 

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It’s fun to reflect back on my history of reading. To think that it all started on the laps of adults who cared enough to read to me, even before I could speak. How could my life have been different had I not received this type of encouragement? What would have happened if the people around me had cared less?

 

Many of my earliest memories involve books. I will always be grateful for those who nurtured my love of reading.

Today is my one year blogging anniversary!

I got this website on on this date one year ago today, although I would not post my first blog until November 24th, when I finally knew what I wanted to say.

Thanks to everyone who’s come on the journey with me. Looking forward to sharing some VERY big news about the next exciting project. Here’s to another year of fun & sharing!

Zero to My Own Hero – The Evolution of Me

Over time I’ve changed, grown taller and wiser. My physical appearance, ways of thinking, and self-wort have all teetered back and forth, from one extreme to the other. Every experience is an opportunity for growth, if we are open, even the most difficult situations have the power to teach us something

A friend once said to me that she remembered that I “wasn’t good at anything” when we were kids. This week I talk about what’s changed over the years. Life hasn’t always been easy but I make the most of things.

Most importantly, I’ve gained more self-confidence through growing a better understanding of myself.

My Friend Coffee

I love coffee, we’ve grown old together. Our relationship is a long one. I started drinking coffee at the age of twelve but my first taste was much earlier.

At my great grandmother’s house, I toddled around with a plastic cup of milk. From the kitchen, I heard a happy voice, “Coffee’s ready! Come and get it!” I moved with the adults into the kitchen, tiny yellow cup in hand, waiting to get my coffee.

When it was my turn the adults hesitated, but after my firm insistence, a few drops of coffee were poured into my milk cup. “She’s not going to like it” a voice from above me boomed. “I didn’t put enough in there for her to taste anything” another whispered.

The first voice was right. My face puckered as the milk hit my taste buds. Repulsed by the bitterness, I passed my tainted cup up into the crowd of adults and walked away.

In the mid-nineties, coffee came back into my life in the form of the Starbucks blended Frappuccino. To a twelve-year-old, this sweet concoction was basically a coffee milk shake. You could get them with extra toppings and all the sugar hid the bitterness of the coffee.

Once again, coffee was my good friend when I entered the workforce. Sixty plus hour weeks with spit shifts and long days were saved by caffeine. I poured coffee into me like fuel when I didn’t have time to eat. Eventually, I was up to drinking an entire pot of coffee on my own in an 8 hour work day. I loved coffee, however, these habits were completely unhealthy.

Coffee had been a gateway for sugar consumption when I was younger. Now that I’m on the keto diet, sugar is out of the picture, I take my coffee with heavy cream, MCT coconut oil, and a bit of stevia. I like my home made coffee better what I can order at a shop.

Over the years I’ve found a happy balance, mostly because I can no longer handle as much caffeine as I used to. I even cut coffee off completely for a few months when I started the keto diet.

Paying close attention to my body has helped me to learn what’s best for me. Most mornings I have one “real cup of coffee” – a small mug with caffeinated coffee. If I want coffee after 11 am, I go for “the fake stuff” – decaffeinated.

Coffee is still my friend we just realized we were spending a little too much time together.

 

 

A Neurodivergent View of Netflix’s Atypical

I did it! On a long car ride across Texas, David at the wheel, I managed to sit through the entire first, 38-minute episode, of Atypical, titled Antartica.

Let me start by saying that Atypical is a show about autism. It is not made to be a show for autistic people, despite autism being the main theme of the TV show.

Netflix’s new show Atypical has been creating quite a stir in the online autism community. The story is supposed to be told from an autistic person’s perspective, but many people are upset with the show’s apparent lack of neurodiverse representation both on and off screen.

Autistic advocates were most frustrated over the autistic main character, Sam. Many expressed wishes for autistic characters to be portrayed by autistic actors. As expected, Sam’s character is basically just a DSM checklist of every possible autistic stereotype imaginable.

In the first episode, I am already put off by the complaining from the mother character. Hopefully, she’ll take responsibility for her own actions, stop holding her son back, and quit complaining about how much of a burden autistic people are in future episodes.

We’ll skip past all of the completely unrealistic, WTF moments, such as the “brain donation question”, the “sex with a random older female stranger”, and the illogical “bedroom assault”. (Nothing about that first “sex scene” is even believable.)

Atypical is a painfully typical coming of age comedy. It has a very basic family teenage drama dynamic, complete with predictable plot lines focused on teen sex and surviving high school.

Every show needs comic relief and the writers of Atypical have managed to do a great job placing autism front and center as the butt in most of its jokes, because it’s fun to laugh at other people’s difficulties.

Between the poor representation and the bad acting, the first episode of Atypical was one of the most cringeworthy things I’ve come across in a very long time. One was enough. I’ve got no plans to watch another episode any time soon.

Sorry Netflix, that is a big “NO!” from me.

What do you think? Did you like Atypical? Should autistic characters in film and TV be played by autistic actors?

Check out the tag #actuallyAtypical on Twitter for more autistic opinions on the show.

Neurodivergent Rebel on Religion, Writing, & Feelings – Oh MY!

I love writing, always have. Unfortunately I don’t write as often as I should. I’ve found that writing can be a magical, therapeutic process. I work out a lot of things with a keyboard.

 

 

If you want to read my blog about Wicca, yoga, meditation, & Buddhism click here.

The Winding Road from Christianity to Buddhism

I’ve been thinking about my journey into Buddhism more often in recent days, reflecting on the path and how far I’ve come.

Throughout my life, I’ve had an interesting relationship with religion. I grew up with Christianity and attended church often as a child, but always felt out of place.

It’s never been like me to call on a higher power. The closest I ever came was in the fifth grade when I shouted up at the sky angrily, “If you are real, now would be a GREAT TIME to do something!” I wanted to believe but it all felt like a fairy tale to me. For many years I was very conflicted over this, but as I grew up the feelings faded.

Always walking to the beat of a different drum, although not intentionally, in middle school I discovered Wicca (a form of modern paganism). Finally, something self-empowering!

I stuck to a regular Wiccan practice for several years, until my late teens. There were so many things I loved about Wicca, the rituals, the connection with nature, the routine. The mantra, “If it harm none, do what ye will,” freed me from the guilt I had for being a non-believer in my previous church. I loved my new religion, it helped me to make sense of the world, gave me clarity.

My mother, on the other hand, was concerned for my mortal soul. She called me a “devil worshiper” and told me she “didn’t want me to go to hell.”  My mother went to church several times a week and dragged me along, moaning and groaning all the way.

Through the years I’ve been called many things but rebellious and difficult are probably the two I hear the most. “You HAVE to be a rebel don’t you?” “Why are you SO rebellious?” “Can’t you just do it like everyone else?” “Why do you have to be difficult?”

People accused me of becoming a Pagan just to tick off my mom. “Here is Christa being difficult again!” I was never trying to be difficult, all I wanted was to be myself.

In my early twenties, I studied all religions from a very high level. The similarities and parallels between all religions, things people seek and learn, were becoming more obvious to me.

For a while, I had no religion, but took up yoga and then meditation. These things created temporary pauses to the suffering didn’t know I had. I wanted to hang in the stillness, that perfect feeling when a yoga sequence becomes so effortless that all my worries and troubles stopped. I was addicted to the feeling and wanted to do yoga everywhere I went.

Many people don’t realize yoga is more than just body postures and sequences. Even fewer people dig into the history of yoga, but when I love something I have a deep need to know everything about it.

I became particularly fixated on chakra balancing and was convinced my Throat Chakra, the one in charge of communication, was off balance. I even went so far as to wear the color blue, a color I generally dislike, around my throat.

My exposure to yoga and yoga culture brought me into contact with Buddhism and its practical mind shaping wisdom. Buddhism acknowledged that life is full of near constant suffering. This was something I could relate to. I was suffering from something I could not name. Buddhism also promised a way to end ones suffering, so I was on board.

Buddhism is a very practical religion full of lists. I love it! There is no sin, the rules are clear, and you are encouraged to take responsibility for your own actions – every single thing you say or do. There is no threat of heaven or hell in the end, and because the historical Buddha was not a god, the only person you have to answer to is yourself.

The first step was to follow the Noble Eightfold Path, a list of things I needed to work on to reach mental freedom on earth. Right Speech seemed to give me the most trouble so I focused extra attention in this area, sometimes writing reminders in pen on my arms & hands.

Years later, I no longer need the reminders. Finally, I’ve got everything memorized and know how I should be acting. I’m practicing, getting better every day.

Nobody’s perfect. I am a work in progress. Each day is an opportunity to start over when we make mistakes. Every minute a chance to learn something new. It’s great to look back at the long and winding road, seeing how far I’ve come.