The Easy Truth?

Autistic people equate the truth with being kind.

I was just diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in December of 2022, a few weeks before my 58th birthday. I wrote about what caused me to seek this diagnosis here. I’m rather new at this stuff, and I’ll be blogging quite a bit about various aspects of it as I go along, reading and learning and wondering what this means for me, as I suspect that quite a few other people are experiencing a similar thing.

Check out my autism category for a list of relevant blog posts, and never forget that 1) I’m just one person, writing about my personal experiences with a thing I only just learned I had. 2) No two people on the spectrum are alike. 3) I am not a medical or mental health professional. 4) I’m not attempting to write a one size fits all autism advice column.

Lately I have been doing a lot of research on autism in an attempt to figure out who I am now that I have this newfound diagnosis. I’ve been reading books and blogs, watching movies and Youtube videos, and listening to podcasts on the subject. A lot of them resonate with me.

With each new insight, I’m gaining understanding about things from my past that used to confuse me quite a bit. Not a day has gone by since my diagnosis that hasn’t come with at least one puzzle piece falling into place for me. It frustrates me that I didn’t get these insights when I was younger and could have adjusted more easily. At the same time, I’m also learning about autistic traits that I definitely do not have, and that causes me to count my blessings. (That’s a subject for another post, if I can figure out a way to tactfully broach it.)

So far on this journey, one of the many sources of insight that I am most grateful for is Orion Kelly’s YouTube page. I watch so many of his videos lately that I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t recall which one served up this pearl of wisdom, but it has been percolating in my mind ever since. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said something along the lines of, “Autistic people equate the truth with being kind, whereas neurotypical people equate lying with being kind.”

Oh, my holy hell. Wow. Puzzle pieces are falling into place left, right, and center with that one! That pretty much explains the bulk of my misunderstandings with others for the past 50 years. I should have that tattooed on my forearm so I can remind myself of it on a daily basis.

  • This explains why I am so hurt when I discover I have been lied to, because I don’t find lying to be kind at all.
  • It explains why I hurt people without intending to, because when I tell them the “kind” truth, they are shocked and offended that I didn’t, at the very least, keep my mouth shut instead.
  • It explains why, when I’m asked for an opinion and I actually give it, people get upset, because they didn’t really want my opinion. What they were looking for was validation in the form of lies. (But I’m sorry. Those shorts really do make you look fat.)
  • It explains why I stir up controversy by kindly telling people not to bake Christmas sweets for me as I’m trying to lose weight. I think it’s kinder to tell people that and save them a lot of time and money. But apparently neurotypicals feel its kinder to accept the sweets year after year after year and say thank you to the baker, and then either throw the sweets away or pass on the gift of poor health to someone else.
  • It explains why I don’t keep things that I don’t like or need just because someone has given them to me, only to find out that they’re really upset to discover that their gift is not cluttering up my house. They interpret the thing’s absence as some sort of personal attack.
  • It explains why I get so frustrated with people who hem and haw and don’t just tell people what they desperately need them to hear. (That’s the plot line of every single movie on earth. I want to scream, “Just tell him!”)
  • And most of all, it explains why I get so irritated, especially at work, when people are willing to put up with an inefficient or incompetent status quo rather than implementing solutions. People would much rather avoid ruffling feathers than introduce change, even if the change would be a vast improvement.

Just thinking about these things has me agitated. Even though I now see where I go off the neurotypical rails, I don’t think I’m capable of making any adjustments because of it. I genuinely feel like a horrible person when I lie to people. It wounds my soul to do so. What you see is what you get. At least now I kind of see why people don’t like what they get from me. I doubt I’ll ever be able to relate to the reasons they take a different path than I would or could, though.

Many people have told me that they admire the fact that I’m a “straight shooter”. But I’m starting to realize that many of those same people have taken advantage of this honestly streak in me. This is something that has always happened to me at work. People will come to me with complaints, knowing that I’ll speak up about the issue, so they themselves don’t have to stick their necks out. It’s as if they use me as some sort of a justice-seeking human shield. I shield them, but they don’t have my back when I am the object of someone’s wrath as a consequence.

I will always have a lower opinion of someone who displays a lack of integrity. It feels as though that’s hardwired in me. Just as I would never intentionally thrust my hand into an open flame, it would feel unnatural to me to obfuscate. Because of this, I expect the same from others. But I rarely get it.

That, and the truth is much easier for me to keep track of. I lack the capacity to remember lies so that I can appear consistent. The truth does not require a filing system in your head. You can just figure out what the truth is again if the situation comes up more than once. In that way, the truth really does set you free.

Ironically, it’s my very lack of obfuscation that causes people to be confused. And then their confusion confuses me. It never occurs to me that people may assume I’m being insincere. That’s probably because neurotypicals are insincere all the time because they think that’s kind, so it’s only natural that they might think everyone is equally “kind”.

I think I’m going to start experimenting with giving advanced warning for my communication style. For example, when someone asks my opinion, perhaps I can ask if they really want it, because my autistic tendency is to actually give it. If they don’t really want my opinion and they manage to admit as much, then I’m perfectly content to keep my mouth shut. Sadly, they’ll probably use that moment to kindly lie. (And by the way, my opinions aren’t always harsh or negative. They just lack subtlety and are therefore unwelcome.)

Even after I read my warning label to you, you don’t want to retract your request for my opinion? Well, then, you asked for it. QUI TACET CONSENTIRE VIDETUR is one of my mottos. “He who remains silent appears to consent.”

Sometimes I think the ouroboros should be my spirit animal. Like a snake devouring its tail, I seem to be trapped in a communication cycle that, however well-meaning it may be, tends to circle back around to bite me right in the, er . . . tail.

Like the way my neurodivergent mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!


Gottman’s 5 to 1 Ratio

Everyone wants to feel heard and valued.

Increasingly, I find myself reading up on all things autism, due to my recent diagnosis. The other day I was particularly interested in how people cope with meltdowns, because I was writing blog post on the subject, which you can find here. I find that you can learn a lot if you not only read articles, but read the comments from readers that often follow them.  This time was no exception.

Many people were giving advice based on their own experiences with autistic meltdowns, and one mom said that she always tries to follow Gottman’s 5 to 1 Ratio. Unfortunately, she didn’t elaborate. Now, I knew I had heard of this ratio before, but for the life of me, I couldn’t place it. So naturally I delved deeper with the help of a search engine, as one does.

I went directly to the source. The Gottman Institute website reminded me why I had heard of this ratio. It comes from their research into healthy and happy marriages. By studying how couples work through conflicts, they were able to predict, with 90% accuracy, which couples would divorce. They determined that for every negative interaction a couple has during a conflict, a stable and happy marriage has at least five positive interactions.

I genuinely believe this ratio is true, based on my own observations. However, I had never thought of applying it to relationships that weren’t romantic, such as those with work colleagues or children or friends. I have no idea why.

I think everyone wants to feel heard and valued. Everyone appreciates little acts of kindness. It’s always a more comfortable conversation when we can emphasize common ground, understanding, and compassion. All of these things constitute positive interactions.

Dear Husband, in particular, is very adept at this. I’ve never met anyone before him who seemed to be born to be married. DH definitely is. He thrives in matrimony. He is positive with me in particular, but he’s also that way in general. It’s second nature to him to seek out the positive spin on every situation, and you can tell that he’s really sincere about it. How lucky I am to have found him!

I, on the other hand, waited until I found a keeper, which means I married for the first time at age 53. Sometimes I feel like I’m a baby giraffe just learning how to walk in this marriage thing. DH is very patient with me, and he has taught me a great deal by sheer example.

You’d think positive interactions would be common sense, but they don’t come as naturally to others as they do to my husband. That’s unfortunate. I agree that it’s also good to be playful in a marriage, but I’ve known a lot of people who take this way too far.

It’s okay to joke and gently tease, but it’s easy to cross the line. Some jokes can be cruel. Some teasing can be humiliating. If you get too comfortable in your interactions, they can become hurtful. I’ve witnessed a lot of couples who interact in that manner, and often at least one of them doesn’t seem to realize that they’ve stopped being mindful of the other’s feelings. Those are the relationships that don’t last. I often wish those people could pay more attention to how Dear Husband treats me.

But the same thing can be said about how one deals with coworkers or friends. Have fun, yes, but also show that you respect the people you interact with. Make sure they feel that you support them. These basic tenets have fallen by the wayside since 2016, and it’s having a negative impact on society in general. We have to turn this around somehow.

I know it sounds corny, but that’s only because it’s so true: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!

Doing Something Small

You are planting seeds wherever you go.

Recently, a friend shared this meme with me, and it really resonated.

First of all, I hate time travel movies. They all seem so formulaic, and an easy out for most writers. Don’t like the plot corner you’ve painted yourself into? Then allow your character to time travel! Problem solved! Literary laziness is what that is.

And I do believe that Back to the Future was the first movie that ever infuriated me. You sit through the entire thing, and then… wait. What? I have to watch another movie to see what happens? Are you kidding me right now? If I’m only seeing 1/3 of a story, I should only have to pay for 1/3 of the movie ticket! I want a REFUND!!!

But this meme does bring up a good point. If we are all willing to accept that changing one tiny thing in a timeline can change the entire future of humanity, why do we find it so hard to believe that doing one little thing in the present might make all the difference for the future? If you can buy into one premise, you should be able to buy into the other. And yet so many of us don’t realize how much our actions and words and beliefs matter.

A few times in life I have been told by people that something I said, or some example that I set, really changed their point of view. They viewed that interaction as pivotal to some aspect of their lives, and in most cases I can’t even remember the conversation. I don’t see myself as an influencer. I can’t even picture that. And yet I have been told this more than once, and it never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Happy tears, because I’ve only been told about positive situations.

But that begs the question: Have I ever changed someone’s life for the worse? And would that person tell me if I had? What would that conversation look like? What would I say? What would I do? Would it be possible to fix it? Would it be too late?

Just like everyone else, I’ve had bad days. I’ve said mean things. I’ve been tired and/or depressed and/or felt defeated or defensive or scared to the point of not caring about someone else’s feelings. We aren’t always our best selves. But those moments can be pivotal, too.

To make up for these things, whether they be real or imagined, I do try to leave positive marks upon the earth. I try to do good deeds and make positive changes and reassure people and encourage them. I try to be a force for good.

But when all is said and done, none of us can ever know our true impact unless we’re told. Perhaps that’s why none of us can predict the future. We can’t even see within the range of our own sphere of influence, let alone outside of it.

That’s why it’s so important to be kind. Tread lightly. Whether you know it or not, you are planting seeds wherever you go.

The ultimate form of recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library!

Generosity of Spirit

Everyone could use a little kindness.

Tomorrow is Spread Goodness Day! I love this annual event, so much so that I have written about it here, here, and here. I thought I would give you a day to get yourself into the mindset, because we’re all in the throes of pandemic stress lately, and it’s not a good look. I doesn’t hurt to be emotionally prepared to get your goodness on.

The other day, I asked someone to do me a favor. It was a minor thing, because I hate asking people for help. I only do so in times of desperation. It would not have unduly inconvenienced that person, and it would have meant the world to me. I had never asked him for anything before.

He didn’t even ask me the circumstances that lead to my request. He didn’t ask if anyone else could do this favor for me. He simply said, “No, I’d rather not. Sorry.”

Of course, he was perfectly within his rights to deny my request, but he was my only option. This left me, effectively, screwed. And, frankly, shocked.

I’m always shocked when people react differently than I would in the same situation. And about 8 hours later, I added indignation to my shock, because I remembered that several years ago he asked me to help him complete a job application, and also asked for a letter of recommendation, and I didn’t hesitate to help. I think it took me that long to remember that because I’m not one to keep score.

Now I find myself having less respect for this man. That makes me sad. But I’m starting to realize that my level of respect for a person is closely tied to what I call their generosity of spirit. That generosity doesn’t even have to involve me in any way. It’s just my observations about how that person treats others.

For example, I find it hard to respect people who are cruel to their family members, abusive to animals, or rude to cashiers or wait staff or anyone else in the service industry. On the other hand, I have mad respect for those who volunteer, or see a need in the community and try to fix it. Extra credit to those who shovel their neighbor’s driveway or give coats to the homeless. And kudos to those who wear a mask to protect the more vulnerable members of society during this pandemic. I can’t understand how anyone even hesitates to do so.

And even if you don’t have the time or money, there are so many ways to have a generous spirit without unduly sacrificing yourself. I heard a story the other day about a woman who was grocery shopping, and the cashier said, “How are you doing?” Normally she would have responded that she was fine, but a few days ago her mother had died, and she said so. The bag boy asked if he could give her a hug, and he did so when she said yes.

Little things like that can mean the entire world to someone. (And incidentally, if you want to hear more lovely stories like that one, check out the My Unsung Hero podcast. It will warm your heart.)

Kindness doesn’t have to be hard for you. If someone says hello to you, say hello back. Simple. Hold the door for someone. Let someone go first. Hold the elevator. Show up early.

One time I was walking down the sidewalk and a little old lady approached me and shyly asked if I could zip up her dress. She lived alone, and she couldn’t reach the zipper herself. She didn’t want to walk into church in an unzipped dress. So I zipped it right up for her. I suspect that’s the most human contact she had had in ages. Things like that are so easy to do. I wish more people would do them.

I just looked up the etymology of the word favor. It’s been around since the 1300’s at least. It means good will, support, honor, reverence, to show a kindness to.

So when someone says “Do me a favor,” they’re actually asking you to honor and support them with your kindness. I find that delightful. We need more of that in this world.

Think of that next time someone asks you for a favor. If you are able, I hope you’ll be willing. Because everyone could use a little kindness.

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!

Third Annual Spread Goodness Day

Do one act of goodness.

About 5 months ago, I wrote about an amazing woman named Anna Dravland and her desire to change the world despite some serious medical setbacks she encountered along the way. Out of that desire, Spread Goodness Day was born. The third annual Spread Goodness Day just happens to be today, March 13, 2020.

On this day (and every other day, really), you are encouraged to do one act of goodness. It can be big or small, public or private. Just put some positivity into the world in what ever way feels natural to you.

Hold open a door. Pay for someone’s coffee. Let a car in ahead of yours during rush hour. Volunteer. Check in on an elderly neighbor. Remind someone that they’re awesome.

What do I plan to do on this day? Well, for starters, I wrote this blog to spread the word. As of this writing (I write most posts about 10 days in advance) I have no specific plans. I firmly believe, though, that an opportunity will present itself. I think that most genuine acts of kindness happen organically. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to doing it.

If you feel like spreading the love even further, once you’ve done your kindness, head on over to and tell everyone what you did. You can remain anonymous if you wish. But you might inspire someone else, and therefore double your impact!

However you choose to spend Spread Goodness Day, I’m sending you love, dear reader!

virtual hug

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!

“I Bought a Dog Today.”

The milk of human kindness still flows.

Dear reader, take heart. All is not lost. There is still kindness and decency in this world. Despite all our divisiveness and infighting and moral decay, the milk of human kindness still flows. The story below is a true one. The good deed was done by a friend of my husband’s, who gave me permission to share it with you, as long as he remained anonymous. The picture is not of the actual dog in question.

It’s important to share the good news, to remind us that now is not the time to abandon all hope. Love still wins. It’s still here.

For all of you out there who spread goodness in ways big and small, thank you.

I bought a dog today. I was taking the feral kitten we caught to the shelter today and there was an old man there trying to pick up his dog. He explained that he had been in the hospital and that his dog was there. He wanted to take it home. They explained to him that it had been there for a while and it was up for adoption. He said he just wanted to take him home. She said he would have to pay the adoption fee and expenses. She told him the cost and he said he couldn’t afford it. I bought a dog today.


A book about gratitude is a gift that keeps on giving!

Little Pebbles in a Big Pond

A small gesture.

Sometimes I see this big old world of ours as a gigantic pond. We all sit along its banks, so far apart that we struggle to make an impact on each other’s lives. But if we gaze at that glassy water long enough, if we think about how it stretches out before us to distant shores, and if we are just the tiniest bit creative, then we start to figure out what we have to do.

We simply have to drop a tiny pebble into that pond. Make an effort. A small gesture. It doesn’t take much to cause a ripple that will spread out to those near you, and cause them to drop in a pebble too, and so on.

And we each have different pebbles. We can be kind to a stranger. We can donate to a charity. We can write a blog or start a little free library or pick up garbage off the side of the road. We can recycle and compost and carry our own reusable grocery bags to the market. We can teach and we can learn. We can let a car in ahead of us during rush hour. We can listen to a troubled teen.

There are so many little things you can do in the course of a day. You may already be in this habit, to the point where you don’t even realize the ripples that you put out or the impact that you make. Or you may be in despair, thinking that nothing you do really matters or is noticed. But keep it up, because it does matter and it is noticed, and it’s appreciated more than you will ever know.


pebble in a pond

A big thanks to StoryCorps for inspiring this blog and my first book.


Incredible Kindness

Okay. Hoo. I’ve got something in my eye.

Okay. Hoo. I’ve got something in my eye. Sniffle.

One of the most unexpected perks about getting married is that I’ve acquired a whole lot of new amazing family members. One of my favorites, Jenna, recently posted something on her Facebook page that moved me so much that I had to share it with all of you.

“Took the kiddos to a busy park today and watched a mom lose her temper at her kiddo…in a loud yelling, arm yanking kind of way. Another mom walked up to her, put her hand in hers and said, “Hey, we’ve all been here.” Then the super young mama went from red-faced anger to tears. They hugged, and then another mom joined, and another, then a dad joined them, and another, then there were like 10 parents, in a group hug around her. I cried from the sidelines trying to keep a close eye on my little ones, but It was astonishing to see the diversity of parents show their compassion, rather than judgement. We need to rally around our vulnerable parents. Lift them up, and give them strength. This kid raisin’ business is hard. #bekind #ilovemycommunity #tucsonkindness

I’m not one to fill my blog with Facebookishness, but this really hit me in the heart place. In a time when we’re all feeling so polarized and divided and downright depressed, this kind of behavior gives me hope. It is still possible to love thy neighbor. We can support each other. Si se puede. We can be a force for good.

Just sit with that for a while. Let it sink in. Let it be your thought for the day. Namaste.

Group Hug

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!

The Web of Good Deeds

Our entire existence can be attributed in some way to the kindness of others.

Recently, I was talking to someone I hadn’t talked to in ages. She is the cousin of a dear friend. She lives here in the Seattle area. When I was moving 3100 miles, I was really stressed out about my housing situation, because I was bringing my two dogs and all my stuff with me, so if I didn’t have a house lined up before I got here, I’d have been in a real fix. I couldn’t afford to fly out in advance and set this all up, so I had no idea what I was going to do.

I did find a house on line, and my friend called his cousin, and, without knowing me at all, she took the time out of her busy schedule to go and check out the house for me and take pictures, so I was comfortable enough to put down a deposit sight unseen. I couldn’t have done it without her. The whole relocation thing would have crumbled like a house of cards.

That means that all that came afterwards, my great job, my financial security for the first time in my life, my husband, my happiness… none of that would have happened were it not for her kindness to a stranger. Needless to say, I thanked her profusely. But I’m sure she doesn’t get what a significant thing that was for me.

If you look at the big picture, our entire existence can be attributed in some way to the kindness of others. I’ve had so many people throughout my life who have given me a leg up. Scholarships. Crowdfunding. Letters of recommendation. Most of the clothing I’ve worn throughout my life has been from thrift stores, made affordable only through donations by others. Most of the furniture I’ve owned has come from the side of the road. People have given me advice. Others have stood between me and violence. Untold numbers have helped me find my way when I was lost.

We all walk upon a web of good deeds that is so densely woven that it has become a tapestry. I feel certain that much of the goodness is behind the scenes. We are able to stand tall for reasons unknown and often unappreciated. This decency forms the very fabric of society.

Even in these times of great division and conflict, I genuinely believe that most of us are fundamentally good. It’s important to remember that. It’s important to appreciate it, and never forget its value.

So, thanks again Sarah, and thanks to all the others who have come before you in my life, and all the ones who will surely come after you.


Portable gratitude. Inspiring pictures. Claim your copy of my first collection of favorite posts!

Much Better than a Cult

Look for the good in the world. Accept nothing less.

As strange as it may seem, it took me years to figure out that I should only surround myself with kind, loving, and decent people. No one ever told me that. I think deep down, had the concept even occurred to the younger me, I wouldn’t have really believed I deserved it.

So I wasted a lot of time desperately trying to gain approval from people who were way too busy pumping toxic waste into my life to ever grant said approval. What a shame.

But slowly, ever so slowly, the number of amazing humans in my world started to outnumber the bad apples. That made that rotten fruit seem increasingly unpalatable to me. I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to expect quality in all my relationships. What a notion.

It’s so wonderful to know so many outstanding people now. It’s a gift. It’s priceless. Sometimes it brings tears of joy to my eyes.

But recently I’ve come to see what it would have been like if I had kept my emotional garden free of weeds and decay all along. My boyfriend seems to have done an excellent job of doing so, and the results have been profoundly positive. There is so much good in his world. It’s one of the many things I admire about him. He is a lodestone for kindness.

Recently we announced our engagement, and the outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming. In the best possible way. This is all new to me. I keep telling him I feel like I’m being love bombed. He reassures me that I’m not joining a cult. Receiving this kind of encouragement is just as it should be.

Well, alrighty then! I’ll take it. Please and thank you!

In case no one ever told you, dear reader: Look for the good in the world. Accept nothing less. You’ll be amazed at how much it multiplies. Proof positive that love conquers all.

http _aqwwiki.wdfiles.com_local--files_bad-apple_BAOld.png

Check out my refreshingly positive book for these depressingly negative times.