Friday, December 14, 2007

Conundrum Solved

I have the best friends. Had a long talk with one of them last night about the whole probation/fear/body thing. I love how he isn't afraid to just be direct and honest even though sometimes its tough to hear. Anyway, I wanna work through it and all. Which I think I knew I would, I just wanted time to feel bad about it for a while first. I swear though, I have the best friends. This one in particular is really good at cutting through equivocations and BS (even when I don't yet know that's what I'm doing) and also at reminding me to be grateful. Thanks, Shaun.

Winter in Hawaii

Winter is here. It was kinda amusing the first few little snows, but this snow is neither little nor amusing. Everything is basically functional and all (no snow days!) but just slower than usual. The snow is up to about my midcalf. Driving in it is not as scary as I thought it would be, if you just go really slow. I have snow tires and things like that too. There's plows all around, at all hours. It's an irritating sound when they go by because of the metal-on-pavement scrape and the loud engines, but its kind of a comforting sound too, knowing that things are being taken care of and I could probably get out if I needed to. The scenery is monochromatic, and not in a calming way; in a boring, craving color kind of way. So, while first kinda fun, winter is no longer amusing. And I still have about 4 months of it left. Why isn't the Option Institute in Hawaii?

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I've been given something of a deadline in my training. If I am not through with an issue by February I will be put on probation. Probation means, you have one month to get through something and no class time will be spent on it, its just all you. If you aren't done with it in that one month, you are out of the program. So now I am working on whether its worth pushing myself on this one issue. Its big for me. Its being comfortable with having attention focused on my body. That's really scary for me, but necessary in the playroom with autistic kids, as we want to be the most exciting thing in the room. A child facilitator's body is her most important tool and she has to be completely comfortable with it and with using it in any way. I'm not. And I don't know if I want to be. I know that I can be, if I want it. I'm kinda stuck on this, because its so big for me. I don't know if I want the training bad enough to work through this scary issue.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Wow, I missed all of November...
I'm a pretty busy person these days. I work 8:30 to 5:30 doing training and administrative services stuff (the latter being how I pay off my tuition for the former, in a kind of work/study arrangement), then each week that we have a program at the Institute I work on Sunday from 5 to 9 in the parking lot greeting participants as they arrive and telling them where their rooms are. Every week night that we have a program I close the kitchen too, which is from 7 to about 9 or 10 depending on the size of the program. My class is done with the official class-wide pre-assigned homework papers and essays, but we still get individual homework from class and teachers and have two sheets to fill out every week asking questions about things we've observed. Then I get acupuncture pretty much every Saturday afternoon, and my acupuncturist is also the person I'm closest to here so we then hang out til the wee hours of Sunday morning generally. Actually, Fritz and I hang out so much that if one of us says "we did such and such" everyone just assumes the "we" bit is me and him (no, matchmakers, there is no romance there: he has a girlfriend in England and we are simply close and loving friends). I generally spend some time every weekend with another friend Shaun. He's teaching me guitar and I give him reiki and we have the most bizarre intellectual/philosophical talks about things like how the concept of a concept is impossible to define because you have to use concepts to do so. Somewhat pointless but entertaining, and once in a while we come with something actually useful. I do things with Susan and Paula and Holly too. Fritz and Shaun work in the kitchen and Holly, Susan, and Paula are in my training program. Actually, Susan recently graduated it, Paula is about to, and Holly is in my class. Then there's going to the laundromat, shopping, all the driving you have to do around here to get anywhere, trying to get decent amounts of sleep, making sure I have time to just sit around and read or whatever, getting my personal homework done.... So yeah. Business. To all of you I don't keep in great contact with, it's not because I don't love you! It's just that I'm busy making myself the best me I can be, as a tribute and a help to you and all that you mean to me, because I do love you.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dear Jordon

Hello, big boy!
I loved getting my message the other day, with you singing. I can't believe you know the whole alphabet, and a brand new prayer I've never heard you say! I have pictures of you and mommy and daddy and Aliana at my desk at work, and I think of you all every day. In a couple of months I will be coming to visit your family and Oma. I hope we will get to play lots, and I can't wait to see what new things you will have learned by then!
I love you very much.
Auntie Sonya

Friday, October 19, 2007

duh, just ask!

Okokok. So I just really fully realized this last night, and worked with it today. I use unhappiness as a way to get attention. Now people, I know I've said that before, but I just knew it in my head, I didn't really believe it. No wait. Yes I did. But I didn't change it because I really believed that unhappiness is the only way to get people to show caring and nurturing. And I had ample evidence. When I was happy, active caring was kinda hit or miss but when I was unhappy, man, people rushed to love me! Well, here's what I figured out. I wasn't getting that caring kind of energy in my interactions when I was happy because I WASN"T ASKING FOR IT! Even when I thought I was, I was asking really unclearly, not at all specifically and usually not in the moment. So instead of "I'd love a hug, please!" I was saying things like "Why aren't you happier for me?" which is just a question, its not at all an expression of what I want. Duh, I wasn't getting what I wanted when I was happy because people didn't know what I wanted!
And here's an exciting second part. Suppose I do say "I'd love a hug, please" and my friend says "no." So what! They say this all the time at Option but I never got it: that means everything about him and nothing about me. He could still think I'm the greatest person ever, he just doesn't want a hug right then. He has a sore arm, he's afraid to catch my cold (I really do have a nasty cold, by the way), or he just isn't in the mood. Or maybe my friend really does decide he thinks I'm not a great person and doesn't want to maintain the friendship. So what again! Just because he isn't seeing it in the moment doesn't mean I'm *not* a great person, it just means he's not seeing it because of his own filters and stuff. Or he does see it but its not the kind of greatness he needs in his life right now. Or he's more comfortable interacting in unhappiness. There's a million things it could mean, but it does NOT mean anything about me.
What a freeing couple of realizations to have had!

Friday, October 12, 2007


So I've been working for The Option Institute and Autism Treatment center of America for almost exactly two months, and I've changed so much I wouldn't know how to tell someone who asked. Here is a really telling symptom of some of those changes though. I think most of you who read this will understand how huge this is for me.
In the past week I have:
  • gone to dinner and a movie with a friend from work
  • gone on a hike with a friend from work
  • gone to open mic night at a club with about 8 people from work and their various spouses, friends, etc.
  • gone to a karaoke night at a restaurant /bar
And that's just the past week. Its Friday now and that's since last Friday. I'm also doing some unknown something with a couple of people from work tomorrow afternoon/evening. I've become... gulp... social! And, for the most part, I've been pretty comfortable in all of these situations. Crazy, huh?!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I have issues with abandonment. Seriously. Sometimes I think I'm kinda over it and then the universe decides to test me. I fail.
Last night someone I care about kinda inexplicably disappeared. The details turned out to be very convoluted, and a message from him was relayed incorrectly to me, and all in all it wasn't that big a deal once I figured out what had actually happened. But the point in this: when I thought he was gone for a long time with no explanation and no direct goodbye, I freaked out. "He's decided I'm disgusting, just like I always knew I was, every time I care about someone they disappear, its not worth caring about people 'cause you just get left, the happiness isn't worth the pain" and all that. It was less than it has been in the past, so maybe I'm getting better with it. But it was still there and it still sucked a lot, causing vomiting and a sleepless night.
Any ideas, friends?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's Not a Texas Tattoo, Ry

So I got a new tattoo while I was in Austin. Its actually centered on my forearm, its just then when you hold your arm up the muscles and skin twist around. While it does happen to be a single star design, it is not a Lone Star/ Texas thing. That's a coincidence I didn't notice 'til the next day. Here's what it is though. The friend I went to visit has a tat of Orion (like, the constellation) across his back. Almost every star in it is different: different colors, numbers of points, interior designs, exterior designs, sizes... just all different kinds of stars. My newest tattoo is one of those stars. Orion's left foot, actually, but not because that's significant, its just the star I like the best. Orion has always meant protection to me (turns out it does to this friend too) so my star is symbolic of being always protected. It also has a nebula around it, which is where stars are born. This Orion-inked friend has been a huge resource for me during my move to Massachusetts and just in life in general the past several months, and I've grown in ways I thought were impossible for me; so its also a reminder that I can do and be anything, and that support and friends are a hugely important aspect of change. And that change is good and fun and even easy!
Yes, I also got a haircut. It was time. I tend to cut my hair during times of change and transition and growth, or to commemorate some event. The past 2 months have had lots of all of those things, so I decided it was time. I like it. Its shaved underneath to about the temple, and makes a rather jaunty little ponytail.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Details to Follow

I'm tired, so here's just a teaser like.
I went on a trip to Austin, Texas this past weekend to see a friend of mine. It was spectacular. Austin is a really neat city with bats and turtles and pralines and fried pickles and lakes and toys and queso and tostadas and fun and friendliness. And its really pretty too. It was glorious to see my friend and have hugs. I got a new tattoo and a hair cut, too. It was a rockin' awesome birthday weekend, nearly perfect. I'm so so so glad I went. I was already really close to this friend I went to see, and now I feel even closer, which is a really nice feeling. I met another friend there for a few hours, and that was also really really nice.
Had a phone call with Julie Walker this morning. I still get to eat chocolate! Just not refined sugars, lol. More details on that too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

dingdong, the belief is dead

I've been holding on to this belief that unhappy people get more and better attention than happy people. Like if someone is sad, they get hugs and sweetness and all that nurturing stuff but if someone is happy people just assume they're good. For the past month or so I've been annoyed at that belief, because I use unhappiness to get attention. For a long long time it was way less conscious than that, but for a month or two I've been pretty aware but unable to figure out how to get that same nurturing attention without resorting to the almost-manipulation of feeling down or upset to get it. For the past week and a half I've been actively looking for evidence that happy people do get good attention and that I get good attention when I'm happy. I've also been working on ways to get the same kind of attention I get when I'm unhappy, but when I'm going ok (thanks you loads of people who talking with me about that). Here's the consensus and what I've come to find actually works: sometimes it'll just come anyway, and I can ask for it when I want it! I've taken to saying "tell me something sweet" or "be loving to me please" and, as silly as I think it sounds sometimes, it works really well. It doesn't even feel insincere when people respond, which I thought it might.
So. I now believe that happy people get amazing, sweet, loving attention and there is no reason to be unhappy. Yay! It feels a lot better this way.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


For some random reason I was just reminded of an magazine editor I used to work for, who made corrections [IN BOLD ITALIC CAPS] and it was always very funny.
Thinkin' of you too of course, Ang.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


I think I will learn the real meaning of the word during this training, at least when it comes to myself. I'm pretty good at being patient with other people. And at counseling other people to be patient with themselves. But I've come to realize I'm awful at being patient with myself. If I get feedback on a session in the playroom that says "celebrate with more enthusiasm" and the next time I'm in the room my celebrations are weak I go into this whole tailspin about that sucked--> I suck as a child facilitator--> I suck as a person. And it happens so fast it feels instantaneous. And familiar; dreadfully familiar. This happens a lot in my life, this "I didn't do as well as I could therefore I fundamentally suck as a person" thing. It took a friend of mine to purposely irritate me so that I would have some kind of action-y feeling so that I look at the process and see what had happened. I'm not sure if its a compliment, but this friend is very good at being just irritating enough to un-despondency me without really pissing me off.
So anyway. Patience. I have this idea that if I'm given an idea once, I should automatically be able to do that thing forever more. I'm not being patient with myself at all, not really understanding this is a process, there's a reason its a three year program. Apparently theres this whole do-learn-integrate-practice-master model of learning and I'm trying to jump from learn to master. (By the way, model-giver or anyone else who knows, how come you do first, then learn? Why isn't it learn then do?) I'm ok with not knowing something if I haven't been expressly told (eh... ok well I generally am, but that another whole post) but once I'm told, I feel like I should be integrating it right away, one hundred per cent. And then I get really judgmental if I'm not. And then I get judgmental that I'm being judgmental. And then I just get trapped in this morass of judging.
I need help with this.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Training Day

No, not the movie. I don't think I've ever even seen the movie.
Work. Today I was in the playroom with a child for the first time, and got feedback for the first time. This kid is the cutest boy ever, or at least he is when I'm with him (don't worry, Jordon, you're still the cutest when I'm not under this kid's direct influence!). I had a really good time in the room; he even held my hand and gave me a little hug! And the feedback was great. I had been dreading it, afraid I would be defensive or take it personally or find some other all-about-me way to not take in the feedback I got. But, yay me! I was really present and open and answered all the teacher's questions honestly and thoughtfully and authentically. It helped to think of the feedback in terms of ways I was effective and ways I was ineffective; not good and bad, or even good and needs improvement or some other euphemism for bad. Mostly my feedback boils down to this: I need to be in the moment, love the moment I'm in, and not be worrying about the possibilities of the future; to trust that I will know what to do when the next moment arrives, and the next and the next. When I'm worried about whatever, I miss the beauty of the moment I'm in, and the chance to show the person I'm with how much I appreciate the moment. So, loving the moment fully and genuinely. Which is obviously a spectacular idea for all of life, not just in a Son-Rise playroom. God I'm gonna learn a lot, this was only my first day of real training!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I have never shifted gears or used my brights/high beams as much as I have here. Ever. The mountains and ruralness are insane.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nothing Gold Can Stay

The title is a poem by Robert Frost, definitely worth looking up if you've never read/heard it.

So every day, except the first day which was kinda scary and stressful, I've woken up looking forward to going to work; even if I was tired or something I still wanted to be there. Except today. Today I'd kinda just like to stay in bed and avoid all the people at work and the hiking and the food and everything. Then I'm a little freaked out because I was thinking and hoping I would always like work, and expecting that of myself. I feel like people at work are expecting it of me too, although I'm pretty sure that mostly not true.
Things I'm not looking forward to today: being around highly energetic people, being asked more about my scars, being asked more about sensory dysfunction, and being slower at walking up that stupid hill than the spritely skinnyass people (gee, no bitterness there, huh). Also I'm now putting an expectation on myself to always be happy. People are saying its more fun and more cheerful and a more positive influence, they are proud of me and all. So I put pressure on myself to be cheerful and feel good. I feel like its not ok to feel off. And if I do, I should hide it.
I guess those are the things I should consider ways to be happier about then. But. Uhm. Sometime when I'm not about to be late for said work.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My People, In the Superlative

I know the best people.

I know the best hugger.
I know the most loving toddler.
I know the most grounded woman.
I know the funniest man.
I knew the guy with the best beard ever.
I know the best sorting out pysch stuff guy.
I know the coolest pop-and-lock dancer, who also has the best singing voice.
I know the silliest lady.
I know the most nurturing woman.
I know the bravest lady.
I know the sweetest girl.
I know the boy-o with the best accent, who says "mmhmm" in the best way.
I know the most realistic woman.
I know the best cook. No wait, I know the two best cooks! One specializes in breakfast and one in spicy stuff, but both rock.
I know the guy who drinks the most green tea.
I know the smartest man.
I know the most dedicated chick.
I know the guy who says "sweetie" in the best way.
I know the most giving lady.
I know the most curious little girl baby, with the best expressions.
I know the best mommy and daddy.
I know the most open woman.
I know the most accepting woman.
I know the most caring and devoted and wanting-to-grow people.

I am the luckiest me!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dear Jordon

Today on the way home from work I saw some kids in a field playing baseball. It reminded me of you. I hope that you are having fun and playing lots. I miss you, and I love you very......(much!)

Hugs and kisses,
Auntie Sonya

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Standards for Option Institute Staff

So. The next part of my life has truly begun. I do Son-Rise Child Facilitator training for about 20 hours a week, and then for the other 20 I earn my keep by being, officially: the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Administrative Services and Son-Rise Program, or unofficially: Dane's assistant. Dane is very cool. The other 3 trainees are very cool. Our teachers are very very cool. I get free lunches, always with a vegetarian option, like stuffed zuchinni or brocolli cheese lasagna. Of course, I have to walk partway up a mountain to get it. Actually, except for one chunk, its a pretty mild grade of hill. I'm slightly nervous because no trainee class has every graduated with all its original members. But I hear that mostly people get asked to leave because they aren't dedicated to change. I'm afraid, but dedicated and willing.
The Option Institute itself is a really different kind of place to work. Here's the "Standards for Option Institute Staff" they give everyone at their orientations:

  • Support the Option Institute- in words and actions.
  • Respect and lovingly serve our guests and staff.
  • Deliver excellence... with accountability.
  • Be honest.
  • Receive feedback openly and act on it.
  • Demonstrate energy and enthusiasm.
  • Bring comments, questions, and concerns directly to your supervisor first.
And here's what those standards mean, as explained to us and as I've either experienced or heard the stories of other's experiences:
  • When in public or around program participants on campus, don't say things that can be construed as negative about the Institute.
  • Seriously, lovingly. Like, with hugs and greetings all the time and always smiling and saying hello when you pass people or they pass you. Because you mean it, not because you have been told you should.
  • There are no excuses at Option. You did it right, or you did it wrong, or you didn't do it. Whatever the reason is, it's still your responsibility, and you will be asked how you plan to not mess up in the future. Sometimes your reply has to be in written form.
  • They don't mean "don't be dishonest," they really do mean "be honest." Like, say what you are thinking and feeling at the time that you are thinking and feeling it. And act on that.
  • People will critique you. In training, its their job. In work, its their responsibility. People have been fired for being defensive about being critiqued. And these people tell you what they think too. And some of them are not very gentle. Not that anyone would ever say "you are a bad person," 'cause no one there believes that. But they have no problem saying "you did a really bad job."
  • Energy. Enthusiasm. No matter how late your night was or how bad your headache is or how much work you have to do. And no fake enthusiasm either, they want the real thing. And they ask you why you aren't enthusiastic if you aren't. And make you answer. And then talk about it.
  • Yeah, taking concerns to your supervisor makes sense. But the hidden part is, if you have a concern you don't take to your supervisor, and someone finds out its a concern that your supervisor doesn't know about, you get asked why. And made to answer. And then talk about. They are big on that.
So: awesome, its a really open, honest place. And yikes, its a really open, honest place. Ain't no hiding from anyone, especially yourself, at the Option Institute. I expect (and so do they) that I will change a lot, rather quickly, and definitely for the better.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Refresh and Gladden My Spirit

The italicized quotes are from a Baha'i prayer by 'Abdu'l-Baha. It's always been one of my favorites and is pretty popular, but the past few days its come to have a lot of meaning for me.

O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers.
I feel like I'm gonna need a lot of help with the new work/apprenticeship/training thing. I need to be refreshed and illumined so I can be as clear and ready and energetic as I can be.

I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge.
In the end, I'm here by myself. No matter who I email or who reads this blog or how many times I talk to folk on the phone, its just me in the end. Who else but the Universe/God/Higher Power am I gonna rely on ultimately?

I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.
Someone's been talking to me about this lately. And I've been thinking about it on my own a lot too. And of course, the whole Option thing: Happiness Is a Choice and all that. The idea of thinking myself into a bad spot; of dwelling on the hard stuff instead of the fact that I am living in a gorgeous apartment right along a beautiful river, about to start the best job in the world. All that and still I look around and say "oh boohoo for me." I don't know if I know how to dwell on the pleasant things of life. I'm trying to figure that out though.

O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.
It doesn't take much, really, to be a better friend to me than I am to myself. Not that I'm knocking what a great guy God is, I'm just saying I'm not much of a friend to myself very often. It's another thing I'm working on.

One day I will figure out how to stop working on things and just do them. That's... something I'm working on.

There's No Place Like Home

Its just that I'm a little confused about where home is right now. I feel connected to both NC and MA now, which kinda leaves me not feeling connected at all even though I'm still just as connected to people. Some of the most important people in my life have never been geographically close to me: they are in Texas and Sweden and England and far off places like that but I still feel unconnected to them right now.

People have been really great about calling me and keeping in touch; it makes me feel loved but it makes me miss them more too I think. All in all though, please don't stop calling.

Tuesday night was really extra hard. I called my brother to give him my address and it was in the middle of this Tuesday dinner and Baha'i study thing. I could hear everyone together, and looked around my empty apartment and got sad, even though I got to talk with Rio and the Js, both big and lil. I wound up having a pretty short conversation with another friend, who then wasn't able to call back when he'd planned. When I called him, he still wasn't able to talk. So I went for a walk and called three other folk... who luckily didn't wake up when their phones rang at 4am but got some pretty confused and panicky messages. Eventually I got back to the first friend, who was amazing and I made it through the night mostly intact. I get really conflicted about asking people for help like that. Even though this 4am-friend said, “This is when you are supposed to call. When you need me, make sure I hear you.” I think I don't trust myself or other people to do what's best for ourselves. That bears thinking about. Again. Sigh.

I Cried All the Way to Mooresville

Leaving North Carolina was hard. The morning was perfect though, from my brother cooking his fabulous breakfast (including of course, chocolate chip banana pancakes) to Ryan arriving late, rumpled and freshly awake. A conversation I had with my 2 year old nephew, little J, sums it up pretty well.

Lil J: (see you) next time!
Me: Yeah. But you know that next time might not be for a long time.
Lil J: Away. Moving!
Me: Yeah, I'm moving. That means I'm going to live far away. So I might not get to see you for a long time.
Lil J: Yeah
Me: But you know, no matter where I am, I love you very much.
Lil J: Yeah

Thoughts from the drive:

  • There is way too much of Virginia. Virginia: DO NOT WANT!!!1!!1!
  • The way I reacted to my tooth extraction is kinda how I react to life a lot of times. It hurt, so I got worried. From a position of worry I examined the situation, and worry became fear. I got it checked out and found out I was experiencing a “slow but normal healing process.” That's me all over. Something hurts, I think it can't be right, but eventually it turns out it was supposed to hurt and all that fear and worry and wheel-turning was for nothing.
  • Even I have to have a break from Jack White once in a while.

  • I can make the drive back to NC in one day with not much trouble, if I had to. That's comforting. I can be back there in one day if I need to be. Or even want to be.

  • Friends are good. Really really good. Hi, Chris.

  • If everything you own, minus six boxes of books, is in your car, it takes a lot longer to stop your car.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Uncle Walt

O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless--of cities fill'd with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light--of the objects mean--of the struggle ever renew'd;
Of the poor results of all--of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest--with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring--What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here--that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
--Walt Whitman

So I'm thinking this whole Massachusetts thing is a chance for me to start writing my own verse as I want it to be; to start on a fresh page with a new vocabulary of mindfulness and authenticity. I'm so excited, and sad, and scared. As someone once told me, change is scary, no matter how great the change is.
I will so miss the people I have here in NC, but I'm also excited about making our relationships more mindful. Right now I kind of drift and when I see you all, it's great and I love you, but I don't have to try to see you, you're just there. I think having to be intentional about when we talk and what we say is going to be really nice, even though I will miss being able to drift in and out of my brother's family's house and surprise Rio sightings and random dinners with Ryan and errands with Mom and gatherings at Karin's and and and.
I love you all.