So I have been challenged by a blogger friend of mine to write a theme post: Who Am I… and I love a challenge! But now I am sitting here wondering if this should include a question mark as punctuation, or maybe it should be more: Who I am!
A few days ago, when I took up the challenge to do this, I thought, piece of cake – Right!?! Then I hit a stall… honestly I don’t even know where to begin. In fact, my pondering the appropriateness of the question mark is a window into my ambivalence over this. The reality is that the explanation of who I am is brimming with complexities. I am different things to different people, and in different situations, and depending upon my mood or present state of mindfulness, I can even be different things to myself.
I wrote a post some time ago about the perspective of thinking outside the box and how that is relevant for me (Contemplating the Box and Living on the Edge) and quite simply put – it is difficult for me to consider my identity outside of my role as a person surrounded by others with autism. This has me ever extending my understanding and striving to understand the perspectives of others. I am much more than this – but I am also so much more because of this. I know I am a better person, more self-aware, more appreciative, and happier because of my experiences as a parent of a child with autism and as a special educator.
So – here is some less obvious information about who I am today:
I am outgoing and love to talk with people… but I also value time alone with my thoughts in my own head. As contradictory as it may sound, I am an extrovert and an introvert. I am a deep thinker and am seldom impulsive: it can take me a long time to consider all of the angles of a situation and varying perspectives before making a decision.
I like thrift stores but I hate shopping, the mall, and uncomfortable shoes. I like cooking but I hate following recipes, which I suspect may reveal a bit about my oppositional, defiant, and independent tendencies. I have an excellent memory for jargon and concepts – but I am terrible with names. I am often simultaneously reading as many as 10 books… I lean toward non-fiction and sci-fi fantasy. I love irony and understated humour and I am quick with double-entendre and puns – but I do not appreciate pejorative or sarcastic attempts at humour that victimizes others.
I clean the house when I am talking on the phone…
I write poetry, this blog, countless lists, and sometimes stories too. I have written political songs. I play guitar – but not often. I sing (often). I draw and have done political cartoons. I worked as an archeologist in university and I love dirt and gardening. I can name every plant in my garden. I know how to scuba dive and feel most at home by the ocean. I love taking photos, learning new things, and hanging out with my family.
When I was younger I struggled with negative thoughts and self-talk… Now I am working to be mindful about the connection between my thoughts and actions and the way I feel about my life and my place in the world.
I believe in peace and kindness…
and the power of metaphor!
As I reflect, it bears consideration that in many ways my journey is similar to that of my son as he works to navigate his way through the social world. It is hard to judge where someone will be next year or in five years based solely upon where/who they might be at this moment… but the support and interactions of/with others help to shape who that person will come to be. A one-step-at-a-time stance creates great opportunities for learning about one’s self and others as well. I guess my son and I are both works in progress – and I think that is the perfect place to be in this moment…
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.
© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2011)