Autistic Invisibility

Autism might be “all in my head”, but that doesn’t mean I’m making it up.

Human beings have a hard time taking things seriously if those things can’t be seen with the naked eye. At least that’s been my experience. Mental health issues? You’ll be fine, until such time as you strip naked and walk down the middle of the interstate, or gun down some unsuspecting strangers. COVID? Invisible, so no need for masks. Global warming? Nah. It still snows.

Since my recent Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, the thing I’ve been struggling with the most is the sheer invisibility of this condition. If you saw me walking down the street, you’d assume I’m neurotypical 99 percent of the time. You might think I was a little odd because I don’t always make eye contact, and I often have a blank expression.

You’d probably find me to be nitpicky about things that you couldn’t care less about if you take the time to get to know me. You might think I overreact sometimes. You might accuse me of being anti-social and rather rigid in my beliefs. But I doubt you’d look at me and think, “There’s someone with a neurological difference who needs some support or the occasional special accommodation.”

Because of this, my needs are shunted to the side, and on the rare occasion that I do “act all autistic” it shocks or irritates or scares or annoys those around me. Autism might be “all in my head”, but that doesn’t mean I’m making it up. I certainly can’t turn it on or off when it suits me.

Even the people closest to me seem to be struggling with this concept. They can read book after book or article after article, or watch video after video, and it will seem like they understand, but then I’ll have an autistic meltdown, and they’ll instantly revert right back to assuming I’m being manipulative and childish, and that I’m throwing a tantrum. That reaction then increases my frustration and makes the situation 1000 times worse. But in fairness, it’s a lot to ask of anyone that they instantly shift their perspectives about me. There’s bound to be an adjustment period.

Insisting that you’re not being manipulative or childish is a fruitless as saying “I am not a crook.” Once someone has that image of you, it’s all but impossible to get them to see you differently. It’s really hard for me to imagine that someone can hold such a low opinion of me and yet love me at the same time.

I struggle to love people that I don’t respect, so I can’t comprehend how someone else can do it. Do I really want the love of someone who thinks so little of me? Not really. Maybe that’s an autism thing, too. But don’t most people want to be loved just the way they are?

Would I have an easier time of it if I were in a wheelchair? Definitely not. But at least some people might cut me a little freakin’ slack every once in a while. At least I hope so, or I’d lose all faith in humanity.

Why is it so hard for people to believe that I’m not willfully misbehaving? Why do they find it so difficult to trust me when I say that I’m not being intentionally rude? I can guarantee you that I’m trying a whole hell of a lot harder than you think I am.

Another thing that those around me can’t really see is that my energy reserves are all but depleted. That means I no longer have the strength to try to convince people that my autism is real. After a lifetime of not being taken seriously, I lack the momentum to get up every day knowing I’ll be called upon to prove myself or explain myself. I am no longer up for this fight. Sadly, there’s no alternative.

I know I’ll never fit into the narrow view of what is normal in this culture, and it shouldn’t be a requirement. But to function in this society, I have to navigate around all the things that nobody else sees. I don’t get to take a vacation from autism. I live inside every awkward interaction. I am forced to accommodate the impatience and irritation that others seem to feel because I am not fitting inside their prescribed boxes.

When someone accepts me and allows me to be myself, it’s such a rare occasion that I feel the need to thank them for it. Do neurotypicals get to take that sort of treatment for granted? I have no idea.

All I know is that I just want to be either accepted for the person that I am or left alone entirely. Take your pick. At the very least, don’t invalidate my disability simply because you can’t see it. When you do that, it feels like you’re invalidating me. Of course I’m tired. I have to resurrect myself from invalidation multiple times a day.

Believe me, I’d snap out of it if I could. I’ve been trying to do so for a lifetime. And I’m really, really tired of being reminded that I’ve been spectacularly unsuccessful despite those efforts.



Digital Limerence

Cyber-romance can be quite satisfying, if you don’t mind a diet of nothing but empty calories.

As someone who has been crashing into virtual doors and falling into large virtual bodies of water in the virtual world of Second Life for over a decade, I am quite familiar with limerence. It’s such a lovely sounding word, isn’t it? It sounds like what happens when limericks and romance collide. Like lime green hearts.

And limerence feels good. It’s the best drug in the world. It floods your body with some awesome chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine. But in the end, it usually brings you nothing but pain and regret. That’s why in recent years I only go into Second Life twice a week, to catch up with friends.

Limerence is often mistaken for falling in love. But it’s love on steroids. It’s butterflies in the stomach writ large. It’s when you crave the other person. You ignore all the red flags. You fantasize about them when they’re not with you. They have all the power to lift you up or tear you down. It’s not steady and solid nurturing as real love will be. It’s dramatic and unstable and exciting.

The internet is rife with limerence. It’s a state that thrives when you don’t really know the other person. The more blank canvas they present you with, the more you are able to paint in what you really want to see. You turn them into the perfect purveyor of all your unmet needs. Your mind convinces you that your beliefs about this person are real so that it/you can continue to be flooded with those awesome chemicals.

Second Life is full of such stories. I knew a guy who spent money he did not have to fly from Australia to the US, thinking he was going there to meet the love of his life, only to find out that the person waiting for him was… a person. She was not the gorgeous voluptuous avatar that he danced with in ballrooms every night in virtual reality, without a care in the world. And for that matter, he couldn’t afford a tuxedo in real life, and neither of them really knew how to dance. Their happily ever after crumbled like the house of cards it had always been.

You can draw limerence out in a virtual world for years. It’s a heady experience. As long as you both continue to play the unspoken roles that each has subtly laid out for the other, you can binge on the testosterone and estrogen for as long as you want, even if your real body is too old or too unhealthy or too married or too far away to actually consummate your connection.

Cyber-romance can be quite satisfying, as long as you don’t mind a diet that consists of nothing but empty calories.  But when it starts to crowd out your real life, it can be trouble. If you use up the bulk of your time daydreaming about the object of your limerence, that’s a problem. If it gives you an excuse to not work on establishing or improving a real life relationship, it’s unfair to your real life partner. When it worms its way into your psyche and starts nibbling away at your mental health, it’s toxic.

And while you are in limerence, you assume that the other person is putting in as much effort and being just as vulnerable and honest as you are. But so many of my friends have been lied to in virtual reality that it stuns me that anyone indulges in it anymore. You can be whoever you want to be in a virtual world, and if you don’t truly care about the person behind the other avatar, you can make up all the stories you want.

You can falsify your sexual experience and proclivities. You can experiment with other gender identities than your own. If you identify as male, regardless of what your birth certificate says, it’s cruel, in my opinion, to role play that you identify as female, because you’re role playing with someone else’s emotions. Not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with role playing. Just be up front about it if you’re engaged in a cyber romance. I really never understood people who delight in catfishing others. It’s heartless. No relationship can thrive if it’s based on deception.

And it boggles the mind, the number of people in there who are miserable and lonely and lying about their marital status. For many, virtual reality seems to be the land of quiet desperation. You don’t have to be you in there.

You can pretend to be successful or rich or even (for a short time) intelligent, when in fact you are none of those things. You can be utterly incapable of feeling real emotions, but you can make them up as you go along. You might even cut and paste dialogue from other parts of the net if you can’t think of anything to say yourself. If you’re a teenage boy, you can pretend to be in your 30’s. If you’re an old woman, you can pretend to be a model. If you’re four feet tall and wheelchair bound, you can pretend that you’re 6 feet tall and a professional dancer. If you’re a sinner, you can be a saint. If you’re a convicted felon, you can pretend that you are a commodities trader on Wall Street who lives in a brownstone in Manhattan instead of someone sitting in a trailer wearing nothing but an ankle bracelet and a bathrobe, on the outskirts of Detroit.

Again, all well and good if you’re not playing with someone’s heart. But don’t lie to someone as you both suck on those hormones, baby, and you convince yourself that you’re the happiest you’ve ever been in your life. What a rush! Until the truth comes out and you devastate the other person.

While it feels better than anything you’ve ever felt before, limerence is an illusion. And it keeps you in thrall as your real life begins to atrophy from the sheer neglect. And then one day you get slapped back into reality, and you have to start all over again.   

Love enhances you. But beware of limerence. It depletes you. Check out these articles for more information.

Now is the perfect time to stay at home and read a good book. Try mine!

“Love Will Prevail”

Because of splashes of hate, this message of love went further than expected.

Gig Harbor is on the Puget Sound here in Washington State. The town itself is charming, with its historic waterfront, and its many boutiques and restaurants. It has a population of around 12,000 people, but if you want a big city experience, it’s only about a 12 mile drive to the much larger Tacoma. Like Tacoma, Gig Harbor is somewhat liberal. But you have a very good chance of finding like-minded people there, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum.

According to Neighborhood Scout, you are much less likely to be a victim of a violent crime in Gig Harbor (1.5 violent crimes per thousand people) than you are to have that experience in the Seattle area (6.6 violent crimes per thousand people). For reference, the national median is 4 violent crimes per thousand people. So Gig Harbor sounds like a wonderful place to be.

Yet oddly enough, both Gig Harbor and Seattle exceed the national median for property crimes, which is 19 per thousand people. Gig Harbor is the victim of 38.07 property crimes per thousand people, and Seattle weighs in at a hefty 52.5 per thousand. Don’t get me started on my theories about Seattle, but I suspect the increased numbers in Gig Harbor are related to the fact that it is part of an urban cluster but has a lot of rural areas as well. So there’s enough of a population and tourist base to commit these crimes, paired with enough isolation so that there is an increased potential for fewer witnesses.

That unfortunate mix came to the forefront recently in an extremely disappointing way.

A local artist, Hillarie Isackson, decided to paint a beautiful mural on the side of a Gig Harbor business with the city’s approval. Isackson bought all the paint herself, and worked all day long, often in the rain, and into the night on the mural, which was of a Ukrainian flag, with an outline of the country over that, and a giant sunflower, the flower of Ukraine, over it all. She came in the next day before dawn to apply the finishing touches. Its message was “Stand with Ukraine.” Many people who worked in the building have ties to Ukraine, so they were thrilled by this artwork.

Unfortunately, not everyone was as thrilled with this mural as those working in the building. Late that night, two scumbags wearing black hoodies spent 4 short minutes destroying the artist’s hard work by splashing the white, blue and red of the Russian flag all over the wall. They were caught on the security cameras of several businesses, and several residents took videos, but at the time of this writing, they have yet to be identified. The fools even left their own footprints in the paint, so I have high hopes that they’ll eventually be apprehended.

If justice is ever served, it is estimated that they did about a thousand dollars’ worth of damage, so they would definitely be charged with vandalism, but there’s a very good chance that they’ll also be charged with a hate crime, which would not bode well for them at all. IMHO, it would certainly serve them right.

But the best part of this story came after their heinous acts. When word got out about the damage, people immediately stopped by with donations of paint and cash for other supplies. They also provided spotlights so the artist could once again work through the night. In addition, there are now more security cameras trained on the revitalized mural.

And what Isackson did to transform the splashes of hate has made the mural even more poignant than before. She took that hate and turned it into love. She restored the Ukrainian flag, the country’s outline, the sunflower, and the message, but she also used the haters’ handiwork to add an American flag, and was inspired to include the national flowers of all the many countries who support Ukraine. (The national flower of the USA is the rose. I didn’t know that.)

But the part of the mural that makes me get tears in my eyes is the message Isackson added below. “LOVE WILL PREVAIL

Isackson’s determination to make something beautiful out of her vandalized mural is a sort of microcosm of the current Ukrainian situation. Like Ukraine, this was an undeserved attack that left discouragement, destruction, and profound sadness in its wake, but she didn’t give up, just as the Ukrainians haven’t given up when faced with the Putin-inspired hellscape of death they are now forced to occupy. In Gig Harbor, people came together to make it possible for this artist to renew her efforts, to show support to fellow human beings who are suffering, just as many of us, all around the world, are doing what we can to stand with Ukraine.

Love will prevail, indeed. And that right there is why I still have hope for mankind in general and the Ukrainian fight for freedom specifically. I genuinely believe that those who are fighting because of love for one another have a much better chance of triumph than those who are fighting from a place of hate.

There is now a mural in Gig Harbor that allows me to say, with renewed vigor, слава Україні  — Glory to Ukraine, and любов переможе — Love will prevail.

Let it be so.

Sources and further reading:

‘Love will prevail:’ Ukraine mural vandalized in Gig Harbor takes on new message

A mural supporting Ukraine was destroyed in Gig Harbor. Here’s how the artist responded

Vandals deface Gig Harbor artist’s mural of support for Ukraine

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Let There Be Peace on Earth

The harshness of winter can bring out the best in us.

Knowing that I needed to write a post for Christmas Eve, I settled on the topic of Peace on Earth. An elusive yet very desirable goal. Not that Christmas really has anything to do with that. A lot of war and acts of hatred have been committed in the name of religion.

Of course, there are a lot of feel-good stories out there, too. What always springs to mind for me is the one about the Brits and the Germans coming out of their foxholes and singing Christmas carols across No Man’s Land during World War I. That was in 1914, more than 100 years ago, and there hasn’t been such a holiday ceasefire in a time of war since then. High ranking officers don’t allow such things anymore. Which goes to show that if left to their own devices, free from the propaganda of the 1 percent, regular people can usually find common ground. We just need to stop prioritizing the goals of the 1 percent.

This time of year does seem to bring out a bit more goodwill and generosity of spirit and love for one’s fellow man, regardless of our holiday traditions or religious beliefs. I suspect this was the case long before organized religion took hold. Winter is a harsh time of year. It’s not a time of abundance. It’s dark. It’s cold. It is a time to hunker down and try to survive with what you have stored up, and if you want your community to survive along with you (which would be in everyone’s best interest), you need to share.

I genuinely believe that the most inhospitable, stark, severe times in our lives will either bring out the very best or the very worst in us. The very best allows societies to survive and even thrive, while the very worst eventually spells disaster for everyone concerned.

I like the idea that it is the best of us who are more evolutionarily successful. It may not be evident during the brief blip on the historical radar that constitutes the average human lifespan, but I have to hold this belief deep within me or I’ll start to wonder what the point of life really is. And that’s not a rabbit hole that I care to run down, even in the warmest, sunniest of times.

I think we need the darkness of winter to “harsh our mellow.” We need to feel cold in order to want everyone to be warm. So, to quote a song, “Hello darkness, my old friend.

Interestingly enough, the Institute for Economics and Peace seems to bear my theory out, because it has named Iceland as the most peaceful country on earth for 14 years running, and according to Wikipedia, the temperature doesn’t usually get above 55 degrees Fahrenheit during the warmest months of the year, so you can just imagine what the winters are like.

The institute bases its ranking on three criteria: social safety and security, extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and degree of militarization. (Incidentally, did you know that America has only been at peace for 21 of its 245 years? When I read this article, I was horrified.)

According to this article about the 2021 peace rankings, “Icelanders can sleep well at night: they live in the most peaceful country in the world. No news is good news when it comes to tranquil Iceland: it is the fourteenth year in a row that it retains the number one spot, this year even improving its score by 0.27%. With no standing army, navy or air force and the smallest population of any NATO member state (about 365,000 people), Iceland also enjoys record-low crime rates, an enviable education and welfare system, and ranks among the best nations in terms of jobs and earnings and subjective sense of wellbeing.”

Because I know you’re going to ask, the United States ranked 122nd this year, due in part to its increasing civil unrest and political polarization. In my opinion, morale in this country is at an all-time low. And the US House of Representatives recently passed a $768 billion defense policy bill. Billion with a B. Such are our priorities.

Statistics bear out the fact that peace results in happiness, income growth, foreign investment, and political stability. What’s not to love? We tend to talk of peace on earth as if it were an unobtainable goal. But I actually see it as the only way we will survive.

So light a candle. Sing a song. Throw nothing but snowballs.

I wish you peace, dear reader, regardless of the season, and I leave you with a photo of Iceland to show you what that can look like. Happy holidays to you. Stay warm.

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

Did You Really Have to Say That?

A tale of cruel and unnecessary indifference by a religious leader.

Lately I have been thinking quite a bit about the surfeit of indifference in this country. It seems that with each passing year, more and more of us demonstrate an utter lack of compassion for our fellow man. No one seems to care that their words are hurtful, or that their actions may be putting other people at risk. They couldn’t care less about negative consequences for others as long as those consequences don’t touch them in any way. I just don’t get it.

Bad behavior seems to be everywhere you look these days. But I do have to remind myself that insensitivity bordering on cruelty is not new. What follows is a story about my grandmother, whom I never got to meet, as told to me by my mother, her daughter-in-law.

My grandmother’s mother passed away when she was quite young. Her father abandoned her, and she was raised by much older, childless aunts in Bellacastle, County Mayo, on the Irish coast. Apparently these aunts were rather no nonsense in their child rearing. Stern. The house was to remain quiet. They didn’t allow her to have any toys at all. (When my mother heard this, she gave my grandmother a doll for Christmas, causing her to cry.)

My grandmother came to America while still a teenager, probably to get away from those aunts, and she became a waitress in New York City. That’s where she met my grandfather, who was the owner/chef of the establishment. Apparently, he liked to tell her that the only reason he married her was so that he could stop paying her wages. If so, he was not the first to be insensitive toward her, and he wouldn’t be the last.

She couldn’t be blamed for thinking this cold cruelty was normal, given her upbringing. When their fourth child was about 6, my grandfather abandoned his family. My uncle’s earliest memory is of him walking up the street, carrying a suitcase and not once looking back. The man never paid one penny in child support, which must have been rather a tight bind to be in back in the late 1930’s.

But the story that sticks with me, the one that is the very definition of cruel insensitivity, is the following:

When my grandmother lost one of her children within days of its birth, she naturally went to her priest for solace, as she was a devout Catholic. She asked him if her baby was in Heaven. The priest responded that since the child had not yet been baptized, it was not in Heaven, it was in Limbo.

Because of that, and because of her beliefs, my grandmother got to go through life imagining that poor child forever trapped on the border of Hell. Not quite damned, but unredeemed by Jesus Christ. If her baby was in Limbo, then she felt that it must be lost, forgotten, unwanted, religiously cast aside. He was a helpless little baby, and no help would be forthcoming for all eternity. I can think of no worse concept for a devout parent who has lost an infant.

And yes, the Limbo of unbaptized infants was the theological concept of the most conservative priests at the time, but what purpose did it serve to tell this distraught young mother this? What good did it do to pile on even more grief? Should that be in any religious leader’s job description? She had done nothing wrong. The child definitely did nothing wrong. And yes, original sin, yadda yadda. But come on. There was no reason to be that despicable.

My mother told me that my grandmother did not step foot inside a church for decades after that. Seeing her in such pain did not sit well with my mother, so she immediately contacted the nearest priest, and asked him to come speak to my grandmother. (For the life of me, I do not know why her own children never thought to do this. But I digress.)

This priest was much younger, and was decades removed from the harsh condemnation of his misguided brother. He was of a much different theological era. He asked my grandmother one simple question.

“Did you love your child?”

Naturally, she said yes. And therefore he responded that her child was definitely with God.

She had decades of pain to cry out of her body before she could really form a sentence after that, but she did start attending Mass again. Of course she still mourned her first child, but now she at least got to believe that he was in a better place; a place where he was loved.

That second priest came from a place of compassion. He knew before he spoke that he was there to offer comfort, and he did so. I am not Catholic, but I would have loved this man for his pure decency.

Perhaps having heard this story so many times while growing up had more of an impact on me than I realized. I have always resisted rigid indoctrination of any kind. I chafe at dogma. I question authority.

People who refuse to be flexible and take specific circumstances into account before speaking or acting are anathema to me. I don’t believe any one person can always be right, and I have a hard time tolerating people who prefer to be right than to be kind. When someone shows you their soft underbelly, the place within them that causes them the most pain, even if you can’t relate to their point of view, is it really necessary to take a sword to it? Do you have to emotionally eviscerate someone just so you can be declared the winner of your debate?

If so, then we are all doomed.

This does not look like a fun place for a child to hang out in.

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

Love in Action

I’m one lucky woman.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, love is both a noun and a verb. Unfortunately, many people fail to realize that. They might be good at professing their love 100 times a day, but when it comes to the down and dirty, the taking action, the making sacrifices, the actively planning for a loving future, they fall short.

Do you love someone? Then prove it. Even if you’re sure they know. It’s important. Create experiences that actively show that you’re taking the other person into consideration and that you want them to feel special.

Here is love in action.

  • Recently, Dear Husband needed to take a trip to Marenakos Rock Center to check out some decorative rock for an upcoming project. He waited for a day when I could come along, because he knows I am a rock geek. We had fun riding the golf cart around the large facility to enjoy the rock pillars, benches, slate, statues, fountains, etc. It was quite fascinating.
  • On that same day, we passed a u-pick-em blueberry farm and decided to stop. I really wasn’t very interested, because it was hot, and for some reason I assumed that blueberry bushes would have thorns like blackberry brambles do. (They don’t.) I’m not even that crazy about blueberries. But I was willing to do it because I know that DH does enjoy them. He was willing to limit the visit to a half hour because he knows I don’t deal with heat well. And it turns out that we both had fun.
  • Love is also picking up the slack for your partner when that person is clearly exhausted or overwhelmed.
  • Love is listening to your partner when that person is exhausted or overwhelmed, and validating their feelings without giving unsolicited advice.
  • Love is removing splinters.
  • Love is planting flowers as well as buying them.
  • Love is going ziplining against your better judgment because your partner wants to.
  • Love is being open to trying new things.
  • Love is sleeping with the light on so your partner can read.
  • Love is making plans for the future based on both people’s needs and desires.
  • Love is taking your partner to the romantic La Rustica restaurant, and then to a delightful candlelight rooftop concert without it necessarily being a special occasion.

I’m one lucky woman. I hope you are lucky, too, dear reader. We all deserve the verb of love.

Enjoying my view? Then you’ll enjoy my book!

Do You Like Everyone?

I don’t.

I know several people who seem to like everyone that they come across. I’m not one of those people. Far from it.

My emotional system reacts to toxicity. I tend not to tolerate hostile people, users, those filled with hate, and substance abusers. Stupidity combined with arrogance, in particular, makes me chafe. To quote the Desiderata, I tend to “avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.”

And you know what? I’m tired of feeling guilty about it. I have a right not to like everyone. Heaven knows that not everyone likes me. That’s just a fact. My dislike of you doesn’t really matter in the overall scheme of things. I’m sure there are oodles of people out there who think you’re just peachy.

It’s also okay to stop liking someone that you used to like. People change. You change. Your friends change. You outgrow some people. You get new insights. Maybe that person is no longer healthy for you to be around. Some people are just more adept at recognizing end points than others.

Many religions say that you should love everyone, but the followers of those religions rarely do. I honestly think it would be a rather creepy world if everyone did. It would be a Stepford world. I prefer a little more nuance.

I’m not talking about going around and actively hating people. That is its own form of toxicity. But there’s nothing wrong with curating your friendships. Some people are only meant to be in your life for a season. Sometimes you need to move on. And it’s also perfectly okay if you never form a friendship with someone in the first place. Sure, give them the benefit of the doubt, but if you don’t mesh, you don’t mesh. It’s not the end of the world.

When I do warm up to someone, I’m a good friend to have. I have a lot of love that I freely give. But I reserve it for those whom I invite into my circle.

I believe that people who allow toxicity into their lives tend to get so used to it that they don’t even realize it’s there anymore. If you are abused, after a certain point you begin to think you deserve it. If you grew up next to the Love Canal, you probably wouldn’t realize that there’s clean water elsewhere. If you smoke long enough, hacking your lungs out in the morning seems like a normal part of your routine.

I kind of feel sorry for those who like everyone. They are not living in reality, for a start. They often get taken advantage of. Not everyone is going to have your best interests at heart.

I don’t have to like someone to hear what they have to say. It’s just that my time is getting more precious with each passing year, so I prefer to spend it with people I enjoy. Time is a commodity that you should dole out wisely.

People who claim to love everyone often say they don’t want to live in a bubble. They want all sorts of people in their lives. That sounds great, but every human being is different. If you have more than one person in your life, you have all sorts of people already. Mission accomplished.

I have all sorts of people in my life. Some don’t get along with others, so I share different parts of my life with each of them. Each person brings a different flavor to my feast of life. I’m not intolerant of differences. What I’m intolerant of is the lunatic fringe. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

People who say they love everyone do not seem genuine to me. So you do you. I’ll do me. Don’t try to force me to be you. It won’t work. Think of me as one of the many sorts of people you want in your life and leave it at that. Go off and kumbaya all you like. I’ll be over here when you’re done. In the real world.

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!


The most contradictory emotion on earth.

There is a certain kind of anger that can only be brought out of you by a loved one. It’s that blinding rage born of pure terror when they are doing something risky or idiotic. “What do you MEAN, you’ve joined a cult and are giving out free hugs in the midst of a pandemic?!”

I have a name for that worried fury, that impotent rage, that helpless frustration that makes your ears ring and everything around you turn white. I call it being “lovegry”. If you didn’t love that person so much, you wouldn’t be bothered with these strong feelings. You’d simply shake your head at this relative stranger and say, “what a fool.”

I’ve only been lovegry a handful of times in my life. Mainly because I don’t have children of my own. And, mostly, the people I love are relatively reasonable.

But, oh, when that feeling washes over me, it’s a very confusing and contradictory moment. Because I want to kill that person with my bare hands. Because they’re doing something dangerous. Because I want to save them. I suspect it’s like hugging a child who has run away, but also shouting, “Don’t you EVER do that to me again!”

If you’re ever feeling lovegry, congratulations. You’re human. Just try not to kill anyone until the mood passes.

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

Who Needs Hearts and Flowers?

I have something much more substantial.

Another Valentine’s Day come and gone. I used to view this day as a painful reminder that everyone seemed to have love in their lives except me. Flowers everywhere. Chocolates. Cards. All the things. Ouch.

Now that I’m happily married, oddly enough I don’t feel the need for the hearts and flowers. I get flowers at random surprise times throughout the year, and I love that. And I really need to avoid the chocolate anyway.

No. My husband shows love in more profound ways. For example, on Valentine’s morning, a Sunday, no less, he got up at 5 am with me. He didn’t have to. But we were in the throes of a wicked snowstorm and he wanted to check the highway cameras to see if it was safe enough for this Florida girl to drive to work. We decided that it was, but if we hadn’t, he would have driven me the 25 miles to work at that ungodly hour, and he then would have come to pick me up at the end of my shift. No question about it.

Now that is love.

He also keeps us in firewood and actually enjoys mowing the lawn. He puts up with my cranky dachshund and they’re even good friends when Quagmire’s not bite-y. He does a lot more cooking than I do. He knows my shoe size. He built me my little free library. He goes to the YMCA with me to exercise 4 times a week. He reads my blog every single day. He goes with me to my optometrist’s appointments because he knows having stuff close to my eyeballs freaks me out. He sprays Benadryl on my back when it itches. He opens stubborn jars for me.

I could go on and on and on, but you get the picture.

The bottom line is that you can have your hearts and flowers. I’ve got something much more substantial and long lasting. He’s a keeper. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

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

There Are Many Ways to Say I Love You

It’s giving someone the last bite of apple pie.

When my husband makes me a sandwich, he often gives me the bread heel, because he knows I love it. He also happens to love it, so that makes the sacrifice even more special. He also scratches my back without me having to ask, and he holds my hand when I’m going down the stairs because, let’s face it, I’m a klutz.

There are many ways to say I love you.

It’s remembering someone’s shoe size or their favorite flower. It’s putting up with insane relatives. It’s making sure someone is wearing their seatbelt.

It’s dropping someone off at the front door so they can avoid the rain. It’s handing them their vitamins after breakfast. It’s taking better care of yourself so you’ll be able to take care of someone else.

There are many ways to say I love you.

Sometimes, I love you means biting your tongue. Sometimes it means speaking up. It always means listening.

It’s giving someone else the last bite of apple pie. It’s sharing your secrets. It’s trusting and being trustworthy.

There are many ways to say I love you.

It’s stepping aside and it’s stepping up. It’s walking hand in hand, and it can sometimes be walking away. It’s sitting through a movie that wouldn’t have been your first choice.

Anything that demonstrates that you have given thought to what makes someone happy is a resounding I love you. Putting someone else first is another I love you (if you find the right balance). Allowing yourself o be vulnerable is perhaps one of the biggest I love you’s of all.

There are many ways to say I love you.

But sometimes people just want to hear the words. That’s important, too. Never assume someone knows. Tell them. If you truly feel it, you’ll never regret saying it.

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear reader.


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