Sunday, December 31, 2017

Autism Answer: Some New Years Are Another Chapter In A Book, Others Are An Entirely New Book In The Series

Time to reflect, create, plan, envision, and connect.

The New Year always offers a timely moment to consider, reflect, plan, and design a renewed vision for ourselves. 

However, while many New Years stretch before us with potential and possibilities waiting to be shaped by us, some New Years present themselves with the promise of huge life shifts regardless of any planning on our part. These New Years, arriving with unmistakable design changes already in the blueprint, are still wonderfully important opportunities to consider, reflect, plan, and design a renewed vision around, and indeed they almost demand it considering that new living has been previously decided. But they feel different. These New Years remind us that life is going to change, that people will leave, arrive, hold on, let go, regardless of any comfort we may have with our world the way it is, and we are always able to plan, reflect, and design new visions but we aren't always able to keep things the same, and we aren't the boss of the visions and plans our loved ones create. 

I am being welcomed into one of those New Years myself. 

2018 has my youngest son graduating high school with plans to leave home for college giving my hubby and I our first ever opportunity to live together without children or a school schedule tethering us to our town, I am expecting two more grandbabies, one of whom will be the first child for my second youngest son, and my mom (aka Dr. Lynette Louise The Brain Broad, aka My Employer) has asked me to do a new job for her as she shifts her career to one of consistently speaking and performing on stages around the world now that she is no longer accepting new clients. My New Year has been partially designed for me (new living environment, new job, new babies) while leaving plenty of room for me to reflect, plan, and design how I will step into it with passion, excitement, and intention. 

What an exciting time! It's almost like a blank canvas. Almost. But more like a sequel or series. I know the colors and characters that I certainly want written into this New Year while I find myself excited for and anticipating the new ones about to be introduced. Established storylines exhist and new ones are waiting to be discovered, explored, and invented.

Some New Years are like a new chapter in a book or a new episode in the same season of a show, while others are like a brand new book or an entirely new season. I feel myself getting ready to binge on an entirely new season while opening pages against the newness on the spine of a brand new book in a series. RANDOM ADDITION: I am not often found reading books in a series or even watching many shows, preferring to be more of a stand-alone movie and book fan, but that doesn't mean I don't ever do it or understand the joys of them. In fact, I ADORE the ones I choose, partly because I choose well and partly because I choose to ADORE the ones I choose. :D

Happy New Year, friends!! 

Regardless of how much your New Year promises to be similar to recent ones, an episode in a season of your life; or spectacularly different, a whole new season or even an entirely new show, I hope you have fun planning your role and creating visions and dreams and actions for 2018!!! 

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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Autism Answer: Creating My Life With Intentional Storytelling (A Story To Start The New Year)

"Narrative and stories are thrown at people from all directions. It's easy to accept them and forget the power that they have. Yet with simple shifts Tsara Shelton suggests people can take advantage of that power by telling stories with purpose. Practicing intentional storytelling can make individuals and whole families happier and smarter." <--- That is an excerpt from this Press Release about storytelling.  The press release was written years after I had taken the time to craft and practice and live the benefits of what I first began to create for myself about twenty years ago. Following is the story of my budding new belief and how I tried to explain it to my then-boyfriend (now husband). I want to share it with you now as we step into a new year, it's a way of giving you the gift of intentional storytelling as a new understanding. In this way you can take it into the new year and create what you want out of it.  I don't know if it will do for you what it has done for me (in a word: happiness) but I hope it will give you a reminder of how powerful our personal stories are. And at the very least I hope you enjoy my telling of it. Happy almost new year, friends!!! ~Tsara

Creating My Life With Intentional Storytelling

With the sound of my boyfriend’s rusty old truck droning in my ears and the messy look of our small Texas town passing by my window I replayed his recent words in my mind, almost encouraging the annoyance to build. “It’s easier for you to be happy because your life is easier.” 

In that moment years’ worth of purposefully creating and discovering my personal beliefs about
Back in our boyfriend/girlfriend days.
happiness ignited into an uncharacteristic flame of what felt like justified anger.

“No. No it’s not,” I insisted. “My life seems easier to you because I do it well. I tell and live the story of my life happily. With intentional storytelling I am happy and I live life easier because I decide to. Not because my life is easier.” 

My boyfriend – who would soon become my husband – risked a short peek in my direction. The disbelief, almost condescending, was evident on his dark, handsome face.

As he returned his attention to the road ahead of him I heard myself lay out my proof.

“You know, I could just as easily describe my days as grueling and unfair.” A little bit crudely I affected a whiny voice. “Oh, dear me. My disabled brothers are such a burden, why must I be forced to live without the ease and freedom other sisters get to have? People stare at us, they are cruel and constantly judging us. Living with my brothers means things are always lost or broken. And me with my own problems! I was molested as a child! And I have been in an abusive relationship! I couldn’t take care of myself and went home for help. Woe is me, why must I live again with my mom? I’m such a loser!” I was almost having fun letting loose with this act and started really getting into it, holding my hand up to my forehead and closing my eyes as though all the troubles in the world were giving me a headache. “We’re poor, and I can’t even get a legitimate job because I don’t have my green card yet. And I couldn’t even work anyway because who, oh who, would take care of my babies? Besides, no matter how hard we work, and we work hard, we’re always poor. New shoes? Not in this lifetime! Oh, me oh my, the world is so cruel and my sons are treated differently. Not only because I’m a single mom but also because they are brown skinned. What a horrible hard life I have!”

As I acted out this pretend speech full of true things I was unexpectedly offered a great opportunity to solidify and make clear for myself the concrete real world power of what I was beginning to dub “intentional storytelling”. 

So, that hot afternoon in the cab of a rusty old truck driving from one small town in Texas to another small town, my much older than me black boyfriend listened as his much younger Canadian white girl girlfriend (Read: me) gave a passionate and meaningful rundown of her life and how she had made happiness a habit.

As a little girl I worked hard to be liked by others. I quickly learned that being a good listener and being mostly happy made me easy to like. Admittedly, for the longest time I was merely pretending to listen, so busy was I in my head hoping to be liked. But a degree of happiness tended to come natural to me.

Now, I am human. So I have been hurt, confused, wrong, and wronged. But with an eye on happiness I discovered (eventually) a way to learn from, understand, and disallow most of that negativity. 

Through intentional storytelling. Through the act of telling the story of my days, my life, my moments, with the intention of displaying the goodness. Whether telling it to myself or to others, always the intention was telling an authentic story that was hopeful, thoughtful, and ultimately, happy. 

At this point in my long winded argument, partly because we were almost at our destination - an Auto Parts Store - but mostly because I felt I was on the precipice of truly understanding something about myself, I spoke strong and clear.

“Do you see? My life has been, and is, just as hard as most people. But because I tell the story of my days with the intention of highlighting the happiness, the gifts, the things I’ve learned rather than the hurt, the unfairness, the things done to me, I’m actually truly happy. Sure, I talk about the hard stuff, but with the intention of finding and saying what I get out of it. Do you see?”

Pulling into the small parking lot of the store where my mechanic boyfriend was about to purchase a part for the car he’d been working on for a neighbor, he looked at me and smiled. 

“Well, two people can look at the same thing and see something different.” His go-to statement every time it was obvious we weren’t anywhere near agreeing or understanding each other.

At the time, I just shrugged. “It’s his loss,” I thought to myself, too busy being excited at my own newly concrete understanding of who I was to need validation. 

Now, happily married to that handsome mechanic for over seventeen years, co-parenting our blended family with eight colorful kids, I still share with him the value of intentional storytelling. Our happy home has benefited from it. 

But I, too, have benefitted by willingly seeing that my husband was also right. As a black man – now in his sixties – living his entire life in small town Texas with a personal history unlike anything I want to, but I do, believe, his life has always been harder and more unfair than mine. 

So now we intentionally tell our story together. And with the twining of our drastically different histories, habits, and beliefs it has become a little bit harder for me. 

But we are both happier. 
# # #

I hope you enjoyed my story! If you are interested in diving deeper into the art and power of intentional storytelling feel free to read my book, Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself. Admittedly, the book is about me and my life, the stories are told my way and in my voice, and so the art and power of intentional storytelling is on display but not given the diversity of voice and style that is absolutely possible and necessary. As I say in my book, I hope you will do that. I hope you will discover your style of intentional storytelling and use it to enhance your life and the lives of those around you. Step into the new year with the knowledge of your power and the desire to use it well! Happy New Year, friends!! 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Autism Answer: The Power And Potential Of Environment

My mom (Dr. Lynette Louise, The Brain Broad) works successfully with people who have all types of mental health challenges around the world. 

One of the things she has made clear to me in our conversations about her work is this: Your environment is affecting you. Psychologically and physically. Be aware, purposeful, and willing to make big changes in the choosing and creation of your environment. 

One of the things I find fascinating about this truth is that simply knowing and believing it gives you a most important tool to help yourself and your loved ones, regardless of your surroundings! You don't need to have overwhelming smarts or a fancy education to use this info. Just pay attention to yourself and your loved ones, and keep an eye open for clues, and be willing to make changes. 

So, knowing that your environment plays a big role in your mental and physical health can help you get healthy, no matter your environment! 

Funny, right? I mean, my mom works in homes of every style and culture, yet this important fact, that the world we immerse ourselves in matters to such a powerful degree, helps my mom effectively help her clients regardless of their environment. 

So look around you, friends. Be willing to make big and small changes to your chosen environment of beliefs, friends, culture, and habits. 

When us eight kids were small (my adopted siblings still multi-diagnosed and overwhelmingly challenged) my mom often moved towns, tweaked her belief systems, and changed professions in order to create a safe and healthy world for us kids. It always helped! Always, always!

Regardless of where or how you live, you are able to help your family by being aware and purposeful of where and how you live while keeping an open eye on how it is affecting you and being willing to make changes. 

That's some empowering stuff! 

I encourage you to watch my mom's international docu-series FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD in order to see how well she uses any and every environment - along with neuorfeedback and behavior science - to point out problems, make changes, and begin healing. (I almost want to insist that you watch it, but you would probably feel like I was being bossy and then purposefully push back against my insistance to prove your independance, which is something I do far more often than I care to admit, push away from a good idea just because someone seemed to be acting like they know what's best for me and so I want to put my own adulthood on display while acting like a child and giving into a knee jerk reaction to be my own woman by saying no, and then making up some reason I pretend is smart about why I'm saying no... not that you would act that way just because I sometimes do but, you know, I don't want to risk it and then you don't watch the show and you miss out on amazing entertainment and learning.)  Giggle!

The family we are given, the family we choose, and the family we build is complex and interwoven. We aren't responsible for making the world be the way we want it to be, and we shouldn't make the mistake of trying to make our family members be the way we imagine they should be, but we do want to take steps to build, discover, and allow for a world and family that is healthy for us at any given time in our lives.

There is a heavy responsibility in this knowledge. I know. But, along with that, there is freedom and potential in it! So try to accept the responsibity while focusing on the fun of the freedom! Build on that potential and discover the various environments and surroundings that suit you! 

Our environment is affecting us. It is helping grow us, and our families, into who we are. Let's have fun and play the important role of being purposeful and open to  change!

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

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Autism Answer: Alibi (Video/Song)

I wrote another song. Weird, right? I mean, I'm not a songwriter. But I am a writer so I suppose songs happening isn't that unbelievable. :D

This one was inspired by the #MeToo movement. Quite different from my last song (Sexy Daydreams, My Life Is Awesome) which was inspired by me loving and celebrating every little thing about my life. Yet also quite the same since it was inspired by my life.

Anyway, here is a video of me singing it. 

And here are the lyrics:

written by Tsara Shelton

I was sleeping
when he came in
he was touching
I was frightened

Why do I cry
when it's not my
crime, I am my own

I was drinking
he was driving
lying, trying 
to keep me quiet

Why do I cry
when it's not my
crime, I am my own

He was kindly
saying "no, please"
I was pushing
hardly listening

Why do I cry
when it is my
crime, I am my own

They were growing
I am teaching
wanting, needing
to do this right

Why do I cry
when it is my
crime, I am my own 

Why do I cry
while I do try
to stop this crime
I'm my alibi

My own

# # #

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