The Wednesday HodgePodge (October 19, 2022)

Hi all. I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge again. This week’s questions are truly random or at least I cannot see a common theme to them. I don’t mind though. Here goes.

1. What’s something you wish you’d figured out sooner?
That I am the beloved of God and that it really doesn’t matter what my family or anyone else thinks of me in the end, God will ultimately judge my heart.

2. Something from childhood you still enjoy today?
Swimming, playground equipment (when it’s strong enough to carry adult me, such as here at the institution), children’s books.

3. Are you a fidgeter? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word fidget?
I am a definite fidgeter! The first thing that comes to mind is hair twirling. I’ve done it since adolescence. When I was 21, my autism diagnosing psychologist in fact told me I really had to unlearn it because it was a “serious social handicap”. Thankfully, the only people who agreed were my immediate family, who had more or less abandoned me by this time anyway.

4. Your favorite fall vegetable? How do you like it prepared?
Broccoli! In fact, about a month ago, I was discussing with a former staff what vegetable I’d choose if I could eat only one for the rest of my life and I picked broccoli. It is such a versatile vegetable. I love it cooked plain or with a creamy sauce, stir-fried or even raw in a salad. Next up are carrots. I eat them raw as a side to my lunch almost everyday.

5. What’s something you find mildly annoying, but not annoying enough to actually do anything about? Might you now?
My headphones (the cheap Chinese brand ones I bought six months ago as a replacement for the Bose QuietComfort 45 ones that broke within three weeks of me having bought them) being basically useless as wireless headphones due to the battery draining very quickly. I have been intending to replace them for a few weeks, but can’t decide for sure on a new model. For now, I’m using my AirPods with my iPhone, but this is indeed slightly annoying.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I’ve been in the main institution care home for two weeks today and it’s going pretty well. We had some issues early on, among other things with my medication, but all has been sorted now.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 2, 2022)

Hi everyone on this first Saturday of July. Wow, can you believe the first half of the year is over with already? I certainly can’t. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I just had my afternoon coffee, but the other residents are probably still having theirs. Let’s have a coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d start out by asking how you are. How’s your weather? Ours has been mixed. Right now, it’s about 23°C and partly cloudy, but we’ve had daytime temps as high as 29°C and as low as 19°C and a mix of sun and rain and thunderstorms.

If we were having coffee, I would share that this week was a mixed bag. I’ve been struggling quite a bit with all the new staff being introduced to me over the week. Now I hear you say what my staff have been saying too: isn’t that better than temp workers? Yes, it is and, thankfully, I didn’t have any temping staff all week. However, on some days, I had two staff introduced to me in a day and this generally meant at least one of them was orienting to my one-on-one shift. This means they’re with me literally all the time and this means I have two staff with me all the time, who are sometimes chatting among themselves about their kids or whatever (sometimes under the guise of the new staff telling me about themself). That cost me a lot of energy. By the middle of the week, I had thankfully been able to get it through to the staff that I don’t like this.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been struggling a bit with the discrepancy between my emotional development and my intelligence again. I have been reading up on emotional development as it relates to people with developmental disabilities and, though the theory makes perfect sense to me, this does actually create intense turmoil inside of me. This specifically relates to the situation in which staff confront me with my challenging behavior, trying to let me know it’s unacceptable. I am not even always rationally able to see their point, for example when it relates to the temp workers and new staff, but even when I am, it is sheer impossible for me to grasp it emotionally.

If we were having coffee, I would share that, on Monday, some evangelicals were handing out flowers near my neighborhood supermarket. As a progressive Christian, I agreed with a lot but not all of what the woman doing the evangelizing to me said, but I didn’t feel like challenging her. After she started challenging my staff’s Catholic beliefs and all of us noticed the conversation became awkward, I accepted the flowers and moved on. I do feel that this, odd as it may seem, came at the right time, being that it was my birthday and I’d just had a really hard appt with my nurse practitioner. At least yesterday, the flowers still looked quite good.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you I’ve been very crafty lately. The creations I shared yesterday, I had finished late last week. This week, I’ve been experimenting with the plunger cutters I got from the new student staff on Wednesday, as well as with my extruder. I didn’t actually create anything using the extruder yet and I might’ve broken it already after all. Today, I did create a sort of Earth charm. I originally wanted to do the continents much like they are on the real planet, but that didn’t work out.

How have you been?

Rebirth

I remember reading a story some years ago in the book Preemie Voices by Saroj Saigal. This is a collection of autobiographical letters from people who were once premature babies in the university hospital NICU Saigal worked for. I, like the contributors, was a preemie.

In this particular story, the author shared how she felt she has three birthdays: one, her actual birthday, the second, her original due date, and the third, the day of her rebirth. In this author’s case, her rebirth meant being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (her choice of words).

I haven’t experienced one such pivotal moment in my life. I mean, I too could choose the day I was diagnosed as autistic (March 16, 2007). Then again, my diagnosis has been removed and reaffirmed so many times that I could just as easily choose the last time I was diagnosed (May 1, 2017). Besides, self-diagnosis is valid too.

I could choose the day I was given long-term care funding (June 4, 2019). Maybe that is the most pivotal moment in my life, but it didn’t exactly mean I was reborn.

I could, of course, choose the day I became a Christ follower (December 7, 2020). Many people in the Evangelical Christian community say they are Born Again and indeed, rebirth in Christ is a common Biblical concept. However, I am more of the opinion that, as Christians, we are on a continuous path towards God. I believe that, each time I consciously pick up my Bible, or the cross my husband gifted me and which I use for prayer, or each time a message from God truly enters me, I am transformed a little bit. I don’t believe that I will be made fully new until the day of Jesus’ return.

All that being said, I do believe I am not the exact same I was a year ago. I am not even the same I was yesterday. Or when I started writing this post. In my view, every single moment is an opportunity for rebirth. Every second we are given is another second chance.

This post was written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge, for which the prompt this week is a theme: rebirth.

Such an Inner Strength

Yesterday, I listened to the latest sermon at Holy Covenant UCC. As regular readers know, I’m a very progressive believer, hardly even calling myself a Christian. I tend to doubt God’s presence a lot. I mean, why is there so much suffering in the world when God is loving and ever present?

The pastor delivering the sermon said that Jesus could’ve had these same doubts while on the cross. Yet what seemed like God the Father abandoning His son was, according to the pastor, the greatest moment of all creation, as God opened the gates of Heaven.

One of the things I find hard to deal with in Christianity is the idea that only certain people will make it to Heaven. I mean, according to the Bible, only 144,000 people who ever existed will be allowed entry into the Kingdom of God. My husband uses this as one of his reasons for being an atheist. My former pastor at the psych hospital though said that this number may be symbolic: twelve times twelve times a thousand is a lot! I like that. Some other progressive Christians at one point told me that there’s a theological theory that says that all of Hell was shattered on the cross when Jesus died for our sins.

At first, when listening to the Holy Covenant UCC sermon, I felt weird. The pastor said that God had hidden his treasure in the plain and ordinary, that is, us. That had me go uhm. I somehow wish I was more than just an ordinary being and a sinner at that. Isn’t that a bit narcissistic of me?

Then the pastor went on to tell the church that we are more than our outward appearance. In other words, we are more than ordinary beings. Because of God, we each harbor a huge inner strength. A treasure. We are more than how we come across to others. We are also more than our experiences. We are more than the racism, sexism, ableism, etc. we endured. Through God, we can overcome the odds!

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight for what is right. The pastor, who I assume is of color, talked about the great abolitionists and civil rights activists, who maintained their faith in the presence of immense hardship. They kept going despite opposition and oppression. That is what we should do. Don’t give up, but fight knowing that God is by our side. Ultimately, even if evil prospers right now, it will not always.