Friday, July 24, 2015

I'm not (completely) coming back

Before this trip I'm on now, I've spent the past few months working 60+ hour weeks to keep my head above water and afford this month away from home.

I'm not going back to that.

There are literally not enough hours in the day to get all the work done as well as take care of myself and plan for my future. Certain things, like my health and projects I've wanted to do, were put on hold as I simply put one foot in front of the other. This trip was the light at the end of the tunnel and there is no way I plan to go back into the darkness.

I've been offered a few jobs that will allow me to work smarter, not harder. These opportunities are based on my skill set, experience in the autism field, and my passion of helping others. I'll be able to continue living the life I have, but with "free time" and even *gasp* weekends off. Yes, the concept of a 'day off' is something that has eluded me for the past 2 years. I'm so happy that I'll also be able to put time and energy into creating the movement based programing. Hey, I'll actually have energy!

I realized the life I had been leading was nothing I could maintain after sleeping an average of 14 hours a day all last week. It also wasn't making me fully happy. In many ways, I was going through the motions because it was easier than trying to change things in the midst of chaos. Colorado gave me the must needed distance to look at my priorities and how to achieve those.

The other thing that needs to change, which I was told about by my friends on multiple occasions, is I need to start valuing myself. I work really hard, I help others, and I do a bunch of really awesome things with my life. It takes energy to to these things and in some ways my humility of thinking "well, anyone would do what I do" has gotten me into trouble. It's lead to people taking advantage of me and has put an unhealthy reliance on external validation.

It's not about comparing my own personal achievements to those of anyone else, it's that standing alone my life speaks volumes. For too many years people told me I can't do things or things would never be possible for me. I've ingrained some of those thoughts and it's time I realize I've proven them, and more importantly myself, wrong. I'm strong, powerful, and talented.

It's time I remember who I am as I work towards the bright future.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Me and my people

Currently, I'm relaxing in Boulder and doing my best to figure out the next steps of this wacky thing called 'life'. The greatest part of all this is I'm surrounded by one of my mentors and still feeling the effects of the Autism Society of America conference.

The joke came up several times last week about how several of us go to the Autism Society of America conference to be social. It's a once a year trip most of us make to unite us from across the country. Navigating the whirlwind of meetings and presentations, either giving or attending, we still manage to reconnect in the hallways or in the evening.

On the last night of the conference, what was only going to be a brief dinner with an old friend and my mother turned into something so much better. It started by inviting new friends to join us. That quickly turned to other friends showing up and soon we were taking over a large section of comfy couches. The evening was spent talking about everything as we watched lightning dance across the Denver skyline.


That last night before the end of the conference, I was stressed and very nervous about my early morning presentation looming the next morning. My topic for the Sisterhood of the Spectrum panel was "Authenticity". At 8:30 in the morning, still adjusting to Mountain Standard Time compared to Eastern Standard Time, I would speak about the importance of embracing who you are and knowing others have walked the similar path.

One of the greatest things I have come to understand and accept is that I have people in my life who truly care about me. There are people in the world who genuinely want to support others and wish the best for them. I am one of those people and am very thankful for being surrounded by the same type of people. My people are kind and care about each other. This is something very special I was able to be reminded of at the conference.

Sometimes the best parts of the conference are not covered in the program guide.