Mother Nature’s Autistic Summer

Summer 2018
Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding.  Scorching heat.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding.  Scorching heat. Bugs extraordinaire.  Make me run inside for shelter.  AC.  A spurt of sun appears.  Some tomatoes wear tough rain jackets, many others split on the vine while unlucky peppers turn soggy rather than red and basil’s aromatic gifts are non-existent this year.  The grill waited to be fired up but the fire and enthusiasm in me drowned out.

What to make of this autistic summer?  Although many people disagree on the “causes” of autism and of climate change, they both exhibit blatantly foreboding signs:

  • Climate change – an increase in the frequency and strength of extreme events (storms, floods, droughts) that threaten human health and safety.
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characteristics –  social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges, and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors.

Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding.  Scorching heat.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding. Scorching heat. Bugs extraordinaire.

Six full days at best I could work in the yard this summer, and grill on two.  Tall grass is as unkempt as the autistic’s personal hygiene.   Weeds are poised to take over.   They know I will not be tugging at them in the rain or with mosquitos biting my neck.  Arms.  Legs.  Scratching for relief.  Scratching.  Scratching.  Where is the relief?  Summer use to be a break from the long, cold, stressful winter but Mother Nature’s fighting, hitting, kicking, biting, throwing objects from her autistic corner.  Does she feel cornered?

Autistics struggle with severe anxiety, sensory dysfunction, and deficits in social  communication.  Half are considered aggressive toward others, and nearly one-third of autistic adults are unable to use spoken language to communicate.

I hear the thunderous banging and wailing.  Her words trail behind the clouds…the rain, and tears of desperation.  I see her utter frustration.

Fish in the Grass

Heavy rains make weeds grow freely

but

also easier to remove.

Rainstorms

flood the pond.

Fish are swimming in the yard.

Not so lucky for them

but the heron is happy for food

and the grass will be fertilized.

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Photo by Tyler Butler on Unsplash

This is my gardener’s perspective on a Chinese folk story called “An Old Man Lost His Horse – Sai Weng Shi Ma.”

From Taoism to Shakespeare’s, “Nothing is good or bad.  It’s thinking that makes it so,” the lens widens as the circle of learning continues.

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Misfortune, that is where happiness depends;

happiness, that is where misfortune underlies.”

 

Have You Seen the Rose Bush?

The whole is some of everything

if we but open our eyes to see.

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Growing pains

do not require suffering.

Pruning

encourages growth.

Endings

are beginnings. 

Instead of shooing away challenges

welcome the fortitude of character

as an expansive, cleansing belly breath.

Out. In. Up. Down.

We are the sum of everything —

life experiences,

thoughts, feelings, paths taken.

The Prickly Fine Print

I often viewed challenges as problems, headaches, when in reality my narrow perspective was the constricting chokehold. My limited vision obstructed a panorama of possibilities in what appeared a seemingly bleak situation.

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Photo by Benjamin Balázs on Unsplash

 

Hearing someone say they were so busy looking at the thorn that they missed the rose, wiped the spattered looking-glass for me.  Working in the garden and studying the Tao pryed open the door to a scopic reality.

 

 

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While I now see both the roses and the thorns, I am learning to not judge either as good or bad but as a unified connection, one simply needing the other in life.

 

 

 

Original feature photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash

 

 

Digging with Orphans in the Garden

Digging in the dirt…unearthing rocks, weeds, my thoughts turn to life’s struggles…times my heart was breaking and I did not see a way out, a reasonable solution, how to get past the pain of the moment.  Not knowing what else to do, I dug in the dirt.  I weeded.  I carried rocks.  Pails of small ones, and wheelbarrows of large ones until I ached.  Ached so bad I could barely sleep but went back out and did it all over again the next day.  And the next.

Unable to remove the boulder that was there, and would always be there like unresolved abysmal hurt, I tried to conceal it.  Find a way around it.  Moving on, I cultivated the impermeable soil to breathe and grow while filling my thoughts with affirmations and new perspectives.  Taking time to nurture nature, nature began nurturing me.

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Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

If you’ve ever felt dishonored or abandoned, turn to nature.  Love her.  Honor her.  Nurture her to soothe the soul.  She is always there for you.

 

 

 

Take orphans — or any neglected children — into the garden.  Create.  Nurture.  Love.  Watch them grow.

 

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Featured black/white photo (original in color) by Meghan Holmes on Unsplash.

Get a Universal Hug!

World Tai Chi & Qigong Day sat on my bucket list for several years.  With no events offered in my small, semi-rural community, I made up my mind last year to drive 1.5 hours to participate.  The powerful group energy felt like a profoundly calming universal hug, not to mention the good people I met and now have the pleasure of studying the Tao with.   Yes, I make the 3 hour roundtrip drive to do this monthly but it brings me so much pleasure it’s a worthy investment.  Now, World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is an annual must do event for me.  (FYI, it’s always the last Saturday in April at 10AM local time.)

As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person),  safeguarding my own peace and serenity (aka well-being) is critical for me.  Detaching from the bombardment of frenetic and frantic energy through sensationalized “news” while staying engaged with humans and the environment is key, and I’m meeting numerous others with similar observations.  Like the waitress who sadly said, “I’m serving more and more families who come in and sit glued to their phones rather than talk to each other.  It doesn’t make sense!”  Or the fellow concert goer who high-fived me after first responding in shock, “You did what?!  I’d like to give up this thing too and get my life back.”

tech free

For the record, I recognize some value in having technology like GPS or locating a restaurant in an unfamiliar city, but it’s not worth the expense to me — financially, mentally or emotionally. I just don’t need technology. My life M.O. has changed to “discarding” rather than “adding” non-essentials. I value my time more. I see how easily I could become addicted. And I see the stress — whether to the user or those around them — from constantly pinging phones interrupting each moment, deteriorating eye contact and banishing personal interaction. I see others trying to remedy their lives after their electronic financial accounts were hacked… What I don’t see is the value of turning my life over to technology.

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Photo by Seth Macey on Unsplash

But anyway, the point of this post is to encourage you to try World Tai Chi & Qigong Day if you haven’t already.  Whether you are or aren’t engaged with technology, Tai Chi and Qigong are certain to bring a calmness into your life.  And couldn’t we all use that these days?

Visit this site to find an event near you:  http://www.worldtaichiday.org 

 fhug

It’s More than Just Earth Day

I grew up seeing public service messages of a Native American crying about litter strewn across the land and water they honored.  The message stuck.  I don’t litter.  And I honor, I love, Mother Earth and our environment.

When Earth Day began in 1970, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  It still does.  We just need 364 more days of it.  Worldwide.

In my lifetime of globalization, littering escalated to what you see below.  The five major oceans on our planet all have garbage patches.  The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is larger than Texas.  Unthinkable, isn’t it?!

Today, I am the one shedding tears for how humans and corporations worldwide are polluting our land and oceans.  There are plenty of examples showing how we are destroying our environment.  You’ve seen them.  I have too.  Some become active or proactive but too many turn away in apathy saying “there is nothing one can do” yet it is up to each of us to care, to not look away.

A long time ago I heard the sentiment, “Ignore your health long enough and maybe it will go away.”  That stuck with me too.  Ignore problems and maybe they’ll go away… maybe.  Maybe they’ll snowball and be harder and more costly to solve. Or, maybe they’ll become unsolvable. Call me an insurance salesman’s dream — I’d rather pay now than pay later. Maybe, probably, if we ignore the environment long enough, it will go away.

“From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival.” from the Earth Day Network.

Has the message stuck?

What are you willing to do to honor Mother Earth and our planet?  Will you commit to stop using plastic bags, bottled water, and plastic tableware?  How about microbead cleansers?  Will you educate others about plastic pollution in our environment and to our bodies?  Share a video on the sea of garbage, lobby for bio benign plastic packaging, boycott companies responsible for oil spills?  Get creative.  No matter how large or small, we each need to do our part.

ACT. To make a difference.

And as Earth Day approaches on April 22nd, remember the oceans too.

 

A Language I do not Know

I do not understand the language of texting, or bar codes containing paragraphs of information.  I do not understand how people do not know how to count change, what their own phone number is, or how communication and society have morphed into a world of antonyms.

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Photo by Cheron James on Unsplash

Words such as cooperation, negotiation, impartial, conversation, politeness, and respect are no longer understood.  They have become foreign concepts in this foreign land I no longer understand.

Customer service now means self service.

A doctor visit means getting a prescription.

“Friendships” have become 1,000 or 100 strangers I don’t really know.

“Conversation” was an informal exchange of ideas but often appears as a one-sided dump.

Once upon a time a “debate” meant a public discussion of opposing arguments on a particular topic.  Today it is who can interrupt the most and shout the loudest slander.

Microwaving a prepared meal is called cooking.”

Excuse me has fallen to the wayside for immediate interruption or unacknowledged bumping into.

Here you go replaced thank you.”

Intimidating hurtful trolls lurk on “social media.

“Personal responsibility” now looks like lawsuits and blame.

Family time means individual members sitting next to each other staring into screens.

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

“Unbiased journalism” is dead.  Infomercials disguised as articles, and fake news abound.

Health care is really the health industry.

Publicservants are politicians passing legislation written by lobbyists.

Marketing is the sugar-coated word for lies.  Companies tout their products to take my money yet when I attempt to get help for the “failed product” it is usually in the Philippines, Dubai or any other place I can barely understand the instruction to fix the problem for the “inferior product” that was advertised as “the world’s best” that I now wish I hadn’t purchased.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

My telephone landline use to bring news from friends or family.  Now, I cannot answer it for fear of telemarketers and scammers breaking into my home.

The tech industry told us they were making our lives simpler, less complicated, paperless, and more convenient when in truth our lives are more complicated, more disrupted, more vulnerable and disconnected, and I pay to discard more junk mail than food or household waste.

I do not recognize what I was taught in school.  Like being an American meant I was free and there was liberty and justice for all when in actuality my government sold out my rights to self-serving corporations.

America has turned topsy-turvy, upside down into a country of antonyms.  I am native to this foreign land where nothing is as it’s purported.

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Photo by Redd Angelo on Unsplash

My dictionary indicates virtual reality is not physically existing but made by software to appear to do so.”  As far as I’m concerned it’s based on a book of antonyms.  I’m not ready to discard my dictionary and thesaurus for a new reality.  I prefer to call it what it really is while I still have the mindset to know what it really is.

reality
Photo by pine watt on Unsplash

Reality – “the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.”

via Daily Prompt: Foreign

A Non-Religious but Spiritual Palm Sunday

The calendar indicates today is “Palm Sunday.  Being a religious holiday, I often wondered in my youth why it wasn’t called “Psalm Sunday” but as a gardener I’m just as happy to see green palms after a long, grey winter.

And while it’s (sadly) becoming increasingly unpopular and even dangerous to identify Frond-Lwith any religious affiliation, I will say organized religion is not the source of my spirituality.  Yes, I was baptized and confirmed a Christian, but I also practiced Buddhism in my teens, then investigated Catholicism, Judaism, Unity New Thought and A Course in Miracles doctrines.  I have friends of all faiths and of no faith.  I pass no judgment if someone chooses to be religious or not, or the path they have taken to their own spirituality.  What I do have a problem with, though, are acts of cruelty, hate, torture or killing — evil, in the name of religion or God.  So contrary and senseless to me.

Thankfully, I was not raised to believe in a condemning and punishing God but instead one as loving protector.  Studying Taoism and working in nature have deepened my understanding of life and some of the religious teachings of my youth.  To me, all of these sources are akin to tendrils of a plant, offering various meanings and interpretations of life, expanding with my maturity.

Frond-RAs a variety of flowers constitute my garden, and a variety of races and ethnicities constitute the world, I am open to a variety of religions in life.  I do not believe that one religion has all the answers, or that only one particular religion has the only true God.  I believe there are as many spiritual roads to God as there are in the names we choose to call Him or Her or whatever is meaningful to the particular person in that particular part of the world.  Opening my mind opens my heart.

And so, today is “Psalm” Sunday for me — spiritual being synonymous with psalm, and psalm being a sacred song.   I acknowledge this day not in blasphemy but in honor of the sacred songs each of us carries in our hearts.  As a gardener, I view this day as the triumphant arrival of Spring, a fresh start after a long winter, the Pre-Easter beginning of infinite life, and with gratitude for the richness Mother Nature offers.  I believe God is everywhere as in nature, but also in our hearts.  And in the end, isn’t that all that really matters — what is in our hearts?


“…Every day something new

Open mind for a different view

And nothing else matters…”

 

Happy Psalm Sunday!

Spring, Life’s New Start!

yellow tulipMissed starting over for the New Year, like so many do?  Don’t feel bad.  It may have been Day 1 on the calendar, but Mother Nature begins anew with Spring.  You can too.

Becoming more aware of the paradoxes of life while studying the Tao, I suppose it’s not so unusual that I occasionally rant about technology addiction.  Afterall, it’s the antithesis of nature (and of growing concern to me).  So, if you’re among the trapped “millions” who bought into technology to have the latest and greatest, be like your friends, were attracted by “convenience,” or became hooked on virtual life rather than “living” your real one, you already know how crummy you feel.  Be honest.  (If you don’t know or believe that technology is addictive, ask your Smartphone for the answer.)

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I’m not completely kicking technology in the butt.  I admit, there are “some” conveniences and I realize even flowers need rain.  But, I also see how easily the technological scales tip to losing one’s self (not just through identity theft either), a sense of community, and an appreciation of nature while adding stresses like being hacked, internet bullying, lost privacy, constant interruption and distraction, unrefreshing sleep, increased onset of macular degeneration, mood impairment, etc., etc. purple tulip(Isn’t that enough?)

Yes, it takes courage to change, to not follow the crowd, and the only one who can do it is you.  If you want to de-stress and take back control of your life (and mind) this recent article will help.  Remember, only in the dark can you see the light.  It’s time to turn over a new leaf — it’s Spring!

 

March 20 Second Stage

 

Stop the technology virus from mutating the human brain and natural living.  In 2014, there were 420 million internet addicts.  In 2012, 84% of the population couldn’t go a day without their phone.  What do you think the numbers are now?

 

I Wonder…

I wonder how healthy Americans would be if:

  • The government gave everyone $2,000/year to spend on the preventive care of their choice.
  • Western medicine would partner with the wonders of alternative, eastern, and non-traditional medicine.
  • Big Pharma and lawyers stopped advertising.
  • Insurance companies allowed patients to select their own doctor, and gave doctors enough time to develop a knowledgeable relationship with their patients.
  • Medical schools taught diet and nutrition rather than what scripts to write.
  • The primary goal of medical students was to heal.
  • Doctors changed their focus from disease to creating optimal health.
  • Health, senior and child care workers were better trained and paid.ripple effect of good health
  • Restaurants stopped super-sizing portions.
  • Government agencies denied the use of harmful chemicals, pesticides, hormones, preservatives, additives, etc. in our food supplies.
  • Politicians worked “for the people” rather than the special interests they serve.
  • Technology stopped directing people to be lazy or on overload.
  • Manufacturers produced quality products that lasted.
  • Businesses discarded voice mail and returned to employing and training “people” to help customers.
  • Hollywood stopped making violent movies and video games.
  • Parents interacted with their children as a family and limited screen time.
  • We connected with nature and respected our environment.
  • As a nation, we showed personal pride in our person and how we treat others.
  • Everyone took personal responsibility for their own health.

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Perhaps my response should have been to a Daily Prompt on “What I Know” rather than via Daily Prompt: Wonder