Friday, May 26, 2017

Autism Answer: Doing Daydreaming



This is something I am often doing: looking, wondering, and wandering with my mind. 

This is not me taking a break or planning my day or avoiding responsibility. This is me doing something. 


And although I also do many other things, this feels like one of the more valuable things. Actually, it has proven itself time and again to be one of the more valuable things.

How unfortunate it is to create a culture that tells its children to focus, attend, plan, work, mimic, memorize, practice, and prove so much more often than doing this. Than doing daydreaming.

It feels like a cruel mistake, telling our children to tune into us and what we say so much more than tuning into themselves. Actually, it has proven itself time and again to be a cruel mistake. 

Let's allow our children the freedom to look, wonder, and wander with their minds. And let's insist on the allowance of it elsewhere. 

We can begin by doing, and valuing, more of it ourselves. 

What an important and fun homework assignment, friends!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Looking up at the sky through a tangle of tree branches. Doing daydreaming.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Autism Answer: Dear New Parents - Position For Parenting Success



Dear new parents,

Position for Parenting Success by becoming your own expert.

The world of advice and experts is filled with people who will tell you what they think and what they’ve learned. And, just like you, they are not always right and they are not done learning. So listen openly but also always take the time to think about it for yourself. If you’re like me that means spending time alone. I am shy and nervous and believe what most people tell me, at first. And then I think about it. My instincts are surprisingly clever! Even when I am not. 

Position for Parenting Success by choosing for yourself.

You can let all of the contradictions frustrate and frighten you or you can let them set you free. Parenting advice is filled with strong, passionate, opposing views. I suggest listening to snippets of everything and then giving yourself the freedom to decide for yourself.

Now that you are a parent, you are going to learn more about who you are. More than you have in all the years leading up to now! Being a parent means being both leader and follower. Playing both roles for someone you love and care about in ways you've never before experienced.

Loving so deeply is possibly the greatest incentive for self-reflection and discovery.

Congratulations, new parents!

Enjoy figuring it all out with help, but as and for yourselves.

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

~Tsara

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Autism Answer: A Life Lesson About Being A Little Bit Stinky

Multitasking: Dancing, making coffee, sniffing armpit.

It doesn't feel good to be overly stinky. I don't really like it.

When stinky body odor first started to happen to me I happily reached for the grown-up feeling deodorant. Yes, at first I often forgot and would catch myself sweating with embarrassment around my peers. But soon, with motivation easily found - I was a teenager wanting to be discovered in certain ways by all the boys - it became a simple habit. Deodorant donned every morning without thought.

Many years later I began to pay closer attention to the buzzing and whispers I heard about the unhealthy ingredients in most deodorants. I wasn't anywhere near willing to quit it, but I heard myself explaining it to my sons and when buying them deodorants I would suggest minimal use.

Yes, I tried chemical free deodorants a bit. No, they didn't work for me. Although, I still sometimes used them.

A few years later I learned more about motivations, money, and health. Applying those learning's to deodorant I couldn't help but feel complicit and cruel. Where is the motivation for companies to create effective healthy deodorants that will help keep our entire society healthier (including my sons!) if consumers are easily buying the toxic stuff already available? The toxic buildup from deodorant is actually, really, truly affecting me and my family. It's not just a thing to say and know; it's a thing that's happening.

So, I went searching in earnest for sustainable, healthy, fair-trade type deodorants. I started sometimes making my own.

This is what I learned:
Sometimes I stink a little. And that's okay. Most of the time I either smell fine thanks to a natural substance that I'm using and my healthy diet, or because that day I just happen to smell fine. Sometimes I even use good-ol-fashioned-not-good-for-me deodorant. There are events I go to (school concerts) where I decide to be certain of not stinking at all.


But sometimes, I stink a little. And that's okay. Seriously, what's so horrible about stinking a little? It's just my smell, my naturally occurring smell. Now, I don't think it's awesome to be absolutely stinky. That's often (though certainly not always) a sign of something unhealthy going on - stress, lack of self-care, poor butt-wiping skills, etc - but stinking a little bit some of the time is what I am. A living animal with scents and sounds and chin hair.

Here's my life lesson: 
Too often we cover up the truth of things with fancy smells regardless of the harm we're doing. If something doesn't stink, it's not so much offending us. But, that's proven itself to be a dangerous attitude! Sometimes the beautiful true nature of a thing will surprise, challenge, and even slightly offend us. Not because it's offensive but because we've been taught to be offended. And other times we avoid helping ourselves and others by dousing them in nice poisonous artificial smells. This is, again, our way of not being offended by something. But this time, maybe we should be offended. And we should do the work of making changes.

So, to sum up, covering ourselves and our issues in fancy smells regardless of who we may be hurting in the process is an all too socially accepted habit. One we might want to discontinue.

Also, when you and I meet for coffee, you might notice that I'm a little bit stinky. Lucky you! What a wonderful excuse to deeply inhale the delightful smell of your gorgeous scented beverage!! tee hee!

Happy Friday, friends!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Autism Answer: Love


AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wrote the following post in 2013. Reading it now, years later, I love how much has changed while simultaneously staying the same. Life is funny that way! My husband and I have been married seventeen years and I'd forgotten some of the young things I thought about when we were dating. It's so good for me to remember! My four sons are in young relationships of their own and this post brings back memories of what it is to be new at things. No, I'm not assuming that their thoughts will be the same as mine, but yes, I'm remembering that they are young thoughts. This is one of the reasons I highly value remembering our own experiences of growing up, so we remember the never ending nature of it. I hope you enjoy reading my memory! Unedited for the sake of honoring the place I was at when I wrote it. ~Tsara

An afternoon drive with my hubby.
 
LOVE
Anyone who ever dated my sisters and I were in for some interesting surprises. I won't waste your time coloring the picture in too much, suffice it to say that phrases like, "I found your shoe, my brother took it in the other room because he thinks it's sexy" and "I'm sorry my brother released the parking brake and your car is headed down the hill. He doesn't like round cars. You understand?" had them, well, not understanding. Our brothers--and my autistic mom!--scared off more than a few would-be suitors. We had no idea how lucky we were!

The day I met my husband I was the single mom of three adorable boys. He had come to fix my mom's car and my kids were visiting my sister for a sleep over. The whole time he and I chatted I complained about missing my boys. He mentioned that he had lost his mom only one year before and began to tear up. I didn't know what to say so I gave him a hearty hug. He fell for me right then. According to him an overwhelmingly obvious love for my kids along with the fact that I was willing to hug a black stranger, cinched it. I, however, hadn't fallen for him.

We dated and I was crazy confused about him. He respected me. He was kind to me. He loved my kids. But what would people think of me if I stayed with this man? Became his wife? I wasn't concerned because of the color of his skin, or because of the lack of financial future, but because he seemed, to me, like less than the sharpest tool in the shed. He sees things in terms of right and wrong, while I have a habit of living in the "understanding everyone's point" zone. If I stayed with this man, would people think I couldn't get a smarter more sophisticated thinking man to love me? One with the ability to understand the grey areas? Also, I am very openly affectionate (almost annoyingly so, ask my kids!) and love to touch and snuggle and kiss in public. This man seemed to cringe from my caress when others were around. Would people think I was a victim letting my man cringe at my caress??

Eventually, I opened my ears and heard my own thoughts. I was not impressed! Firstly, this man has had such a different life than mine; schools were segregated for him until eleventh grade, he had been picking cotton and fixing engines since the age of seven, he couldn't look us in the eye--not because of autism, but because we were white and he had been taught not to. He is drastically different, not less smart. And what would other people think of me?? Who gives a crap?! Do I want my boys to run around caring about the opinions of others and making choices based on what they may or may not think? Hell no! So why was I?

And let's not forget, he loves my kids. We don't always agree on parenting choices, we very often don't, but we both know that the other is always thinking of what is best for them. Hadn't autism taught me anything? Love doesn't "look like this" or "look like that". If families of autism expected love to have a consistent and specific look then we would be missing out hugely! Loving adults and kids with autism has taught me to see the gift of love, regardless of how it's wrapped. How selfish of me to forget!


And imagine if we all lived believing that the opinions of others were our best tool for feeling happy. Yikes! 

My hubby and I have been happily married for thirteen years. We are so happily married, in fact, that my kids are always talking about how much they want to be like us. How many kids--and mine are teenagers!--say that??


Largely because of the autism in my world, I have learned that the important thing is to love our own way, and to let others do the same. My marriage seems odd to many people. Our age difference (he is 23 years older), our contrasting skin colors, our very different attitudes (I am goofily grinning and singing to myself all the time, he is avoiding eye contact and making sure no one's taking advantage of him), our willingness to let the other take off and do their own thing (I once lived in another state for two years, helping my mom get her business off the ground by hanging with my autistic brother), it all looks strange to people. And that's wonderful! When they ask how we do it I have an opportunity to share the importance of letting go of common perceptions and social norms in order to discover your own way. 

I have an opportunity to share some of life's Autism Answers!

As it is with learning, communicating and passions... love looks different coming from different people. A great gift is letting people show it and feel it, without trying to teach them to do it your way. It's a gift not only because it allows the other to explore and share their love comfortably, but also because it opens you up to seeing it where you may not have seen it before! 

And love is always worth taking the time to see!!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

INVITATION: I hope you'll consider purchasing a copy of my book, Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow Up. The book is an example of remembering our younger selves while choosing our present selves with purpose. But mostly, it's just a lot of stories about how much I've learned with my unique and fantastical family! The book is available in all the usual places: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM, Powell's, and maybe even at your local library! If they don't have it you can ask them to order it. :D Hugs!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Autism Answer: A Mom Phrase That Matters To Me

Lately I've found myself wondering: Will my sons say things like, "As my mom always says..." followed by some memorable and wise life suggestion? For the life of me, I can't
Me and my mom
think of a single thing I always say. Wise or otherwise. 

I know I catch myself saying, "Like my mom always says..." often enough. "Raise the bar!" and "Duck and weave and rise above!" and "I need a neck-lift!" Most of my mom's phrases are brilliant and wise and helpful in moments of transition or necessary decision making.  NOTE: My mom wasn't always at war with her neck wrinkles. "I think I need a neck-lift!" was a mom-ism that came in my less formative years and I have no interest in adopting it for myself. I love wrinkles! Giggle!

One phrase, in particular, has been important for me. I am naturally timid and gifted at avoiding confrontation. (One might even say I "Duck and weave and rise above!" it. tee hee!) I also have a history of giving up or running away from things. These two issues of mine would have probably been a bigger problem in my life if I didn't also naturally have this going for me: I love deeply. 

So, when my mom says, 
“You can’t walk gingerly. You have to step in and say I am gong to love you robustly, and we are going to get to the end of this!” ~Lynette Louise (aka "The Brain Broad")
I am innately stirred and spoken to.

This thing, this phrase of my mom's, has an important history.

She started saying it when all eight of us kids were younger. My four adopted brothers were disabled and on the autism spectrum. It seemed as though my mom was debating constantly with educators and doctors and neighbors and friends on the subject of how to love and teach my brothers. They would insist it was hopeless and she would declare: "Raise the bar!" and she would move our family just when the debates were turning into cruel arguments, folks trying to gang up on my mom by forcing her to see that my brothers were not able to learn the things she believed they could learn, and in moving our family we were able to: "Duck and weave and rise above!" 

However, I also quietly wondered if mom was trying too hard and believing too hard. After all, how could everyone be wrong and just mom be right? Well, when we asked her why she was teaching my brothers things that it didn't look like they could learn, holding their hands and believing in them as they struggled more than most, her response was always a version of, "You can't walk gingerly! You have to love robustly!"

And I could immediately feel the truth of this. Indeed, I wasn't watching my mom fool herself or create false hope. I was watching her love robustly, toss out timidity, and believe in reaching goals. And because of this - coupled with my mom's incredible ability to aim for a goal creatively while living in the moment - I also watched my brothers feel robustly loved and get to the end of things! 

Now, to be sure, there are times when you can walk gingerly. I often watched my mom be soft and kind and respectful of my brother's uncommon challenges. But there was also something different in her softness; something entirely unlike the sweetness poured on them by people who felt pity. Mom carried the knowledge that she loved them robustly and she would step in with them and they were going to get to the end of this.

As my brothers grew and learned all the things it never looked like they could learn (three of my four brothers are completely independent men, and my most challenged brother is what mom calls her "slow moving miracle") I adopted the proven phrase for myself. Of all mom's mom-isms, it is most necessary for me because I am tempted to ignore it. Not walking gingerly often means making noise and being noticed, which often attracts certain kinds of confrontation.

But as a mom myself, for me and for my sons, it became vitally important that I remember: “You can’t walk gingerly. You have to step in and say I am gong to love you robustly, and we are going to get to the end of this!”

For me and for my sons. Like my mom, I have four. They are all quite unique (as we all are) but so is my parenting. Although, admittedly, I didn't really know that. I was just sort of winging it and loving them and getting to know them and people were pointing and staring and avoiding me or applauding me, but I often didn't quite understand why. Allowing my oldest son to go to kindergarten with marker all over his face and arms seemed fine to me. He had created a look, he liked it, and kindergarten is filled with children who likely do the same! Breastfeeding my youngest son while his brothers ran around barefoot (as was I) at the local park seemed like parenting 101. 

Now, I wasn't entirely clueless. I did watch other moms and dads and try to see how they were doing things. I did try to get approval from others by copying popular parenting moves. I was, as most parents are, a wild mix of me and them; original and imitation. Which, I believe, in the right doses is good. We'd be fools not to learn from other parents, but we must also practice learning in order to decide for ourselves. 

Those were the days I had to make myself remember my mom's words. Tempted as I was to walk gingerly and be an invisible part of the crowd, the more I tried that the more lost me and my sons became. And so I loved robustly! I explained my reasons and listened to suggestions and revisited my reasons. I made friends but more often I clashed with people and we were kind to each other in passing. But by loving robustly and telling my boys we can get to the end of this (aka reach certain goals), well, we did! 

Not only has this phrase helped me as a mom but I apply it to helping myself as a woman as well. When I'm tempted to give up or walk away from something for all the wrong reasons as I habitually did in my youth, or I'm avoiding things out of fear, things I might want or hope for, I bring my mom's phrase forth and insist on loving myself robustly. I remind myself it is not always right to walk gingerly, and I can get to the end of this! And always, when I make those words matter to me, I do. I get to the end and it is worth it! 

In fact, by doing this for myself, by loving me robustly and getting to the end of things, I am showing my adult sons how to do the same for themselves. So, again, when I am tempted hide away timidly I remember my sons and step in.

I could go on and on about the myriad of ways this one phrase has given me strength and encouragement. How it continues to give me strength and encouragement. 

So, again I'm back to wondering. Do I say things that give my sons strength and encouragement? This is something I realize now I can't exactly know. My mom's phrases matter in different ways to all of us kids. And I wouldn't be surprised if my mom doesn't even know what things she says that matter to us. Anyway, if we tell her what we believe her phrases to mean she'd quite possibly disagree!

I guess I'll continue to wonder if I have any phrases that matter to my boys, but it's not deeply important. One thing they've proven over and over again is that they understand me. And they love me. And they know I love them. Whatever words of mine they choose to reflect that - if any - is just fine with me.

I'll be sure they know that one of the reasons we've been able to create such a strong authentic relationship is this: "I didn't always walk gingerly. Often, even when it made them angry at me or made us stand out, I would step in and say I am gong to love you robustly, and we are going to get to the end of this! And I was able to do that because I knew, even if I messed it all up, I had the love and support of my mom who would certainly love robustly, step in, and help us all get to the end of this.”


 *Sending robust love to mom's everywhere this Mother's Day month!*


Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

Please visit FIX IT IN FIVE with THE BRAIN BROAD and watch what it means to love robustly!



Friday, May 5, 2017

Autism Answer: Peace Isn't Absence; Peace Is Action


"Peace isn't an absence of violence or war. Peace isn't absence; peace is action. Peace is solving problems, working together, recognizing cruelty and making thoughtful change. Peace is a series of actions and choices, large and small, intimate and in large groups. Peace isn't only possible, it's here. We do it daily. And I believe we can insist on making more of it." ~Tsara Shelton (aka Me!) #IDWP

Take advantage of your moments to practice peace. When you are helping your loved ones learn, when you are gathering together to create plans, when you are closing your eyes and envisioning a future for yourself, your children, and your world, choose peace. Take action and recognize your power. 


Do you see how often you are doing peace? Sure, violence is often easy to recognize (although, more often it isn't, which is why we sometimes continue to harm and hurt people we love without knowing it) but with practice, peace is also easy to recognize. Every day in situations big and small, we choose peace. We work at it. We explain it. We make changes when we see our peace isn't exactly the peace we believed it was. We apologize and discover new ways. 

Some of us choose peace more often than others, but we all do it. 

We also all harm, kill, and even disregard lives that our actions hurt. Some of us more than others.  

MY SIMPLE SUGGESTION: When we feel overwhelmed by the challenges in our homes or in our world (living with, or as, a severely autistic person often invites unique challenges that overwhelm us, regardless of how wonderfully loving we are) I suggest we bring our focus in closer. We look at the little things. The moments we were tempted to yell, but chose not to and instead took the action of sitting and listening or allowing or patiently teaching. The time a store had only one person working at the register and everyone decided to chat and understand and not complain about the wait. These are small actions of peace. Explaining to a friend why her joke isn't funny to you, rather than quietly fuming or angrily pushing her away by calling her "prejudice" or "homophobic" or whatever you feel was cruel about the joke. That takes work. The work of peace. And it is worth it. Please note, your friend doesn't have to understand for the work to be worth it. You only have to make the choice and take the action. In that moment you have chosen peace and stepped up for what you believe in. Our beliefs change but practicing peace gives us a skill that can last lifetimes. 

If you, like me, want a world filled with peace and love and laughter, perhaps start by celebrating the peace and love and laughter you are already creating!

Take that action and run with it!


Hugs, smiles, love & peace my friends!!
 www.tsarashelton.com / www.brainbody.net
 Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)


RANDOM SILLY ADDITION: 
I'm always exploiting my poor purse. It's constantly modeling for me and I've never offered it payment of any sort. Not even craft service! I just manipulate it and put it where I want it and use whatever words I want to use when posting its image. This is why you should always have an agent, people. Or folks like me might take advantage.

Wait a sec! What am I thinking? My wallet is in my purse! My purse is in charge of the budget! No wonder I'm always broke. My purse is overpaying itself. My purse is taking advantage of me. I guess I need to get an agent.
tee hee!


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Autism Answer: Loopholes for Mental Health!




Psst! I know a loophole!!

So, my mom, Lynette Louise ("The Brain Broad") is no longer taking new clients - although, after announcing to folks that April was the last month she'd be accepting newbies she did get a whole bunch of wonderful new families to work with! - but even though she won't accept new CLIENTS, she is still willing to come to your home and teach you and your network via the In Home Parent Program!

See?! Loophole!

Okay, not exactly a loophole. Having Lynette accept you as a client and come to your home for a three-day outreach, which is followed up with a lifetime of having her on your team, is different from the In Home Parent Program, where she comes to your home and teaches you and your group in a workshop style setting. Though, they are similar. And they're both life enhancing experiences. So you can see why I thought of it as a loophole.

But, wait! Now I know the loophole! She did say that she will happily mentor and consult with experts, teachers, therapists etc. for new clients. She would love to help your team understand and recreate (with your personal flavor and flair, of course!) the amazing results and successes she consistently has. So, maybe that's the loophole?

For goodness sake, I almost forgot to remember that she's still speaking, performing, and running workshops at all kinds of events! If the topic has any connection to the brain (and pretty much everything has a connection to the brain!) she has a talk or performance to share. Effective Leadership Event? Yup! She's your gal! Neurofeedback for autism? She's a top notch expert! Inspiration for parents and professionals? The Brain Broad has audiences on their feet! Understanding abuse and creating healthy relationships? Storytelling and brain science with Lynette gives you the tools! I could go on. So here's yet another loophole for learning with Lynette! Hire her for your event or be an attendee when she's presenting.

Oh, ya! And also you can still read her books, watch her videos, and - most importantly - watch her work with families around the world in her international docu-series FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD - on The Autism Channel and via Vimeo On Demand. All of which she's going to continue to build, write, and release. So, in a way, you can invite her into your home with ease. Loophole!! 

It turns out there are many mental health with Lynette Louise loopholes!

All these loopholes (and more) can be found on her websites.

Here, allow me to bring them to you: 

Brain and Body - Mental health related - tons of neurofeedback info, specialist introductions,  and testimonials: www.brainbody.net

Letter from Lynette re: how she did her outreaches (use it to create something similar for your family: How I Work
 
Lynette Louise (The Brain Broad) - Lynette related - tons of info, videos, fun stuff, emotional stuff, mental health songs, personal stories, and links to pretty much everything she does. www.lynettelouise.com

FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD: Seasons One (Uganda) and Two (USA) and trailer for the upcoming third season (Israel): FIX IT IN FIVE
 
So, if you're like me and you like loopholes, have fun picking your favorite! Sure, Lynette Louise isn't taking on new clients anymore but you can sorta be a new client no matter what my mom says!

Wait a minute! My mom LOVES loopholes! I bet these are all here on purpose. She wants you to explore these loopholes! Sweet!

Have a lovely loophole lovin' day, friends! tee hee!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

When The Brain Broad comes to your home or event she always brings her big brain!