Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Autism Answer: I Choose Guilt For A Moment (but Only A Moment)

I went for a walk with my son, Tyran, while he was visiting me last month. We ran into a childhood friend of his and stopped to say hello. 

We both knew this friend of his was getting into trouble and struggling. My son was friendly but not so friendly as to try and rekindle a friendship. I was friendly, and tried to offer annoying grown up advice. "Make good choices" type of advice. While being cool and not lecturing of course, which probably made my lecture-like intentions more transparent. 

Well, not long after that this childhood friend of my son's broke into a nearby home with some buddies and, discovering the neighbor unexpectedly home, a tragic shooting took place. The home owner and one of the boys breaking in were killed.

My son's childhood friend will likely be in prison for a long time. I keep remembering that day when we ran into him. I keep feeling like somehow we failed him. But, to be honest, we hardly even knew him. 

The truth is, my son was right to be friendly but careful, and I was right to offer grown up annoying advice. Advice that could have saved some lives but (as I well knew) was unlikely to. 

And though I know better than to feel any true guilt, I prefer my little nagging of "what could we have done different" over the less useful and far crueler "those boys had it coming, I'm glad one of them got killed" that I've heard from others. 

Life has tragedy and horror. But that is no excuse to stop reaching out or to fear our neighbors. If anything, it is a cry for more reaching out and more love for our neighbors. 

Often, you won't make a difference. But if we all do it, with all of our neighbors, all of the time.......

Well, wow! I'm certain that will make all of the difference. 

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

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Autism Answer: Why I Write

"When I write I feel like I'm disappearing into more of me." ~Me
The first time I ever truly wrote something, beginning middle and end, it was a screenplay. Well... at least it wanted to be a screenplay.

I had a lot to learn about proper screenwriting before it would actually grow to be a true script. Today, I think it is.

But back then I didn't care about formatting or writing scenes that were visual rather than internal. Back then I had a story to tell and wanted only to discover it at the same time that I crafted it. 

I felt free as Derek, my lottery winning lawyer, made the choice to say goodby to his on again off again girlfriend so that he could make a new life for himself and his autistic brother. I felt free as he apologized to his deceased mom while realizing that though she would be disappointed, she would also be proud. 

I forgave myself as I followed Carrie and her small boys while they escaped Children's Protective Services. I joined them on their journey to get help from Carrie's mom. I got to know the true strength it takes to admit you need help, and that you are indeed a strong and beautiful mom when you do. 

I cried while The Cowboy molested Amber, his twelve year old daughter. I felt anger at him and fear for her. I was sad for her sister when she refused to see what was in-front of her, afraid to step up. I hated Mother, maybe most of all, for ignoring it all because she wanted pretty things. I cried as I was grateful to my own mother and sister for believing in me and stepping up for me, and I reached out to my fellow molested brothers and sisters by writing a story for them. The ones who are not believed.

I realized the real prejudiced young Jade faced as she craved acceptance from her loving adoptive parents but knew too well how they felt about lesbians. My heart ached as she hid her love from them and pretended to give it to a boy, and for the first time in my life I knew that prejudice was real and not just something for movies or "the olden days". 

I understood my main character, The Hitchhiker, as he chose to live homeless and forever on the road. Moving forward and exploring the lives of others, feeling the feelings that existed in his imagining of theirs. I understood his desire to live unencumbered by too much life of his own. 

And, with every re-write (and boy, did I have to re-write!) the tears, anger, prejudice, apologies, letting go, forgiveness, and fear remained. Rather than edit them out, I refined them. I explored them.

Never did I even consider getting rid of them because they are why I write. They are why I love stories. To feel everything strongly, without needing to manifest it in real life. To take advantage of my own life and learn about others. 

To reach out and know the world while I dive in and know myself. 

I wrote my screenplay ten years ago, and still it hasn't been made into a movie. That's okay, although I truly hope one day it will be. 

The things I write are sort of like my children. I have hopes and goals for them, I have dreams and ideas, but I try not to lose sight of the truth that they will only grow strong and independent if I let them do so in their own way and in their own time. 

I try to keep my joy in the journey and my calendar in a drawer. 

My children have ideas and dreams of their own. The things I write sort of do too. And though they are not the same, they have similarities. 

I love that. 

And one day, when I take my sons to the premier of my movie--or one of their movies!--I'll be proud of wherever we all are on our journey. And I'll look forward to where we hope to be. 

Hmmmmm....I hope they'll let me wear jeans to the premier. You see, I write also because it's the kind of job where I can forget to brush my hair, sip too much coffee, and always wear comfy, torn jeans.  

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

Me, and my comfy torn writing jeans!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Autism Answer: About a Book and The Power of Stories

Author's Note: This post is both a call to action and an introduction to my new book: Spinning in Circles and Learning From Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow-Up. I truly hope you consider both! ~~

When I was a little girl I would write stories in my head to myself, narrate thoughts and actions. I would mix truth with fiction. "As my sister walks away I feel her anger and want desperately to run to her, hold her, and tell her the truth. That I love her more than life, and that my actions--which had hurt her heart--were meant only to keep her safe. But I had to be strong, and so I let her walk away angry. For her. Because I love her more." I would think this storyline when I'd said something snotty and had hurt her feelings. 

Part of the narrative was true of course, I wanted to hug her and say sorry. But the reason I didn't say sorry had nothing to do with kindness or strength, and everything to do with fear of admitting I wasn't always "the nice one". As a young girl I knew the value of storytelling, even if I was often using it to lie to myself.

I would also make wishes and then quickly clarify. "I wish I had pretty hair like that girl," I'd think. And then quickly I'd follow up even louder in my mind with,"But I want to keep my family and my personality and my home and have my life. So I only want her pretty hair if I can keep that stuff. Otherwise, no thank you." I'd seen plenty of "be careful what you wish for" stories. As a young girl I knew that stories became reality, and I was careful. Intentional. Even if I was mostly careful to avoid change. 

All of my life I have craved and valued stories. Putting storytellers up on a pedestal has been a lifelong habit. While peers were imagining make-out sessions with Johnny Depp or Alyssa Milano, I was crafting intelligent, well written, hopefully impressive letters to my favorite authors. Imagining chatting with them as equals and swapping smart ideas and insightful observations. 

Over the years my stories have matured. With time I grew bored of lying to myself and instead narrated as a way to know myself. I told my stories as a way to embrace, rather than avoid, change. 

And I began sharing with others. First with family, and then with strangers. I learned to know more than only myself through my stories and began to know the world. To see society's hand in raising me, in raising my sons. And to see our hand in affecting society. 

Always, I use my stories to discover answers, and always I discover them. Though--wonderfully!-- through the years the answers change.

They grow-up.

I invite you to join me on this journey. To tell your stories (whether narrated in your head, written in letters, or told to friends over coffee) with intention. To use them wisely and see their value. 

For those of you interested in spending a little time in my stories, I invite you to check out my new book, Spinning In Circles and Learning From Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow-Up. Poverty, parenting, autism, sexual assault, mixed race relations--these are all issues I discover my thoughts and answers on, and I'm pleased with most of my discoveries. 

Yet, more than anything, I want to know more. To learn more, to gather more stories from different lives and different families. From you, your neighbor, your uncle, and your teenage dog-walker. 

So please always feel free sharing your stories! 

But I encourage you also to be intentional and honest. Our stories are powerful, and together they create the world we live in. 

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

Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow-Up
Also available on Amazon: Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself by Tsara Shelton

"When I write I feel like I disappear into more of me."~Tsara Shelton

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Autism Answer: Enjoy The Hard Work Of Making Moments Happen

Well friends, our spring break has just come to a close. And what a fantastical spring break it was!!!!!

What an adventure!

I took a road trip with a couple of my boys to meet up with my other boys and then drove home with different boys.... I saw my sister, my brother, my nieces. I sipped coffee, listened to my sons and my sister's daughters sing together, we chatted about growing up and allowing others to do the same, I talked my brother into getting out of the pool to hang with us only to have him consistently jump back in when I wasn't looking, I let my sons borrow my car and enjoyed their appreciation and love. 

As everyone grows older it gets harder and harder to get us all together. It involves budgeting checkbooks, making travel plans, and shifting schedules. 

And because of this it also becomes more and more obvious that it's always and forever worth it!!!

Remember to enjoy the hard work of getting what you want, friends. It encourages us to know our desires, along with the value of having desires. It encourages us to be intentional with our motivators and consider the amazing things we're willing to do to get what we want. It encourages us to believe in and seek motivators for our loved ones, regardless of how different they may be from our own.

Enjoying the work of making dreams and moments come true encourages us to let go of the limiting image of life as tragedy and instead see life as the fabulous adventure that it is!!!

And when we see adventure in place of tragedy, we can't help but encourage the diverse and talented generation stepping in behind us to do the same.

What possibilities!
What adventure!! 

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

Me & My Four Sons