It Doesn’t Hurt to Be Bold…

Did you ever notice that some people are naturally outspoken? I sometimes watch in awe as these fearless folks wave their arm up to be recognized at public forums or at meetings and now even in social media. Although at times, we less outspoken souls roll our eyes or wince when the floodgates open, often it doesn’t hurt to be bold, and can actually be a good thing. Boldness can help define issues, boldness can give voice to the unspoken and boldness can help fulfill dreams.

Arianna Huffington who wrote,” On Becoming Fearless…in Love, Work and Life,” contends that we can be assertive without sacrificing charm and humor. I fully subscribe to the notion that it is all in the presentation—or at least a good deal is. Part of this is taking what we have to say seriously but not taking ourselves too seriously. And one other thing my grandmother taught me, and maybe yours taught too,” you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

When I think about the most effective and persuasive people I know, they share certain attributes that make them successfully and non-offensively bold. First, they know who they are and what they stand for: call this self-confidence or self-awareness or self-actualized—all are good descriptions. Next, they are not obnoxious or offensive, rather they express themselves without attacking in a calm way that engages. Another attribute these well-spoken speakers possess is their ability to get their point across in a way that is respectful of their audience without coming across superior or humorless. Finally, and maybe most importantly, they do not have to go on forever with their thoughts and skillfully state their case and sit down.

It doesn’t hurt to be bold when we have something we believe in, and we think it through before we speak. At times we do not express our thoughts for fear of being criticized or misunderstood and these are compelling reasons not to be bold. But to not speak and wish you had may have more dire and long lasting consequences. It doesn’t hurt to be bold but like in all things, be mindful of moderation.

When life makes you cry…

When life makes you cry, realize that is a healthy reaction to stress, loss and occurrences that touch your heart—good or bad.  Often we feel or are taught to keep emotions in but if we do this and never release, the consequences can be dire, affecting our health and relationships.

Sometimes a life altering event will occur and we are initially numb.  It seems strange that tears do not fall and to the general world we seem okay.  But then, months or years later the tears flow, almost randomly—but it is not random.  Emotions have been brewing and then, when a trigger occurs, they boil over, and the tears flow. Finally, all those bottled up emotions are released, or begin to release—although painful and difficult, this is a good thing and a first step towards understanding and recovery.

When a person is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), no matter what their age, it is a life-altering discovery.  Often it is painful, confusing and fear is prevalent.  It is okay to cry and probably important to cry.  The world as we expected it to be is not at all what we anticipated and we need to realign our thinking.  There can be a kind of mourning period as we let go of the imagined life and come to grips with a new reality.

Crying is a cleansing that is private and shared with those closest to us.  Crying is a cleansing that can be shared with professionals who can help guide our thoughts. Crying helps us transition and go forward.

During our lifetimes, we will all shed some tears— sad tears, happy tears and many other kinds of tears–markers of our humanity and our courage.  When life makes you cry…cry!  It is healthy to a point and for most of us, it will end and we can begin again, freer, fresher and clearer. If not, seek help, support and guidance, do not go it alone!

Embracing Love…and not just for Valentine’s Day!

“Ugh, Valentine’s Day!” you say, “not that time of year with chocolate promises of undying love and sparkling jewel like proclamations of forever us.” Now come on, don’t be such a nay sayer…this time of year does get us thinking, for better or worse, about the love we have in our lives and the love we are seeking. Thinking about love is really the first step to embracing love.

There are countless personal definitions of what love is or should be and surely you have your own specific thoughts on this topic. In terms of Autism and love, there have been several recent articles on the topic, including a very good one recently by Amy Harmon in the New York Times that profiles a young couple and their challenges and joys seeking love. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Ignition Grant Program with UJA Federation of New York is focused on helping adults on the spectrum navigate the course of their love lives through support groups, social networking and dating advice. This will be a pioneering program that we will share so that adults living with Autism everywhere can benefit from the support systems that evolve from this program at the JCC in Manhattan in the coming months.

There is no question that all people seek love and need love but why do some more successfully attain love? I think one of the reasons is that they embrace love. Embracing love is opening yourself to love and putting that out there to others. Your own kind gestures and loving attitude towards others is a way of embracing love. Many say that one has to love oneself to attain love—but I am not so sure about that. How confident are most people that they feel worthy of love and why should we put that pressure on ourselves? Embracing love is more about lovingly be a part of the world in the kindest way that feels right to you. And once you embrace love, I believe that love will come back to you.

So this Valentine’s Day, instead of feeling down and out about love, embrace it! No you don’t have to walk around passing out chocolate hearts to people, but a few smiles or an act of kindness towards someone could open a new door of love in your own life.

It Takes a “Super Team”

This weekend, much of the United States, and many throughout the world, will be focused on the Super Bowl! Families and friends will gather around the biggest tv they own and a fortunate few will be there in person to cheer on their favorite team (or the team they like better of the two)!

I have watched a couple of the pre-game interviews with players and what strikes me is that no matter who is being interviewed, every player remarks that it is “teamwork” and the “whole team” that got them to this magnificent moment. It occurs to me that no matter what we do in our lives, building a great team is one of the essential ingredients to success.

So how do you build your own winning team? It starts from the center, the captain, and that is YOU. Next, supportive family members who are not judgmental and do not try to be captain but support and encourage you, offering advice when asked and gently bringing ideas to your attention that could help, would be an asset to your team. There may not be many who fit this profile, but even one such person would be a valuable member of your team.

Next, and this may be much easier because as the saying goes, “you can choose your friends, but not your family,” recruit your best friends to join your team. These friends undoubtedly come from all parts and phases of your life and each one has something special to add to your team. Some will add humor, some will add wisdom, some you can cry with and some will be as angry as you are when lousy things happen in your life. All of these team members are essential to your super team.

Professionals are important team members that you will call upon from the bench as needed. They will have expert traits and talents that enhance specific projects and goals. Having a great lineup of bench-warmers is vital to any great team.

When you watch the Super Bowl this Sunday, observe how the quarterback pulls the team together and calls the plays and how everyone else supports his call. I will never contend to know much about football, but I think we can all learn from this gridiron game that building a great team is the backbone for achieving goals and conquering challenges.


There Are Cloudy Days…

Not everyday starts out promising, even if the sun is shining!  Some days we just feel like we want to pull up the covers to our chin, and hide!  And sometimes it is okay to do this.  But on most days we cannot as there is work to do, children who need us, obligations we must fulfill.  In a way, thank goodness for these things or else we might always stay in bed.

But how do we motivate ourselves to arise from the bed with enough optimism or hope that whatever the day brings, we will be able to handle it without eating a whole box of cookies or worse?  This takes exercise.

Exercise you say…what is that?  Yes, physical exercise is excellent and important but what I am referring to is mental exercise—exercising our brains to be positive.  Sometimes we need a trainer, like a good therapist, or a dear friend but we still need to rely on ourselves to begin and to seek the help and support we need to succeed.

Before you put a foot on the ground when you awake tomorrow (and every day going forward) spend a minute or two to take a few cleansing breaths.  Then either out loud (if you can) or silently to yourself, tell yourself that everything is going to be okay (even if you are not sure about this).  If you have to say it twice or three times, do it! Then get out of bed and begin your day!

Exercising your mental muscle to begin each day positively helps build your strength to face whatever is ahead that day!  And remember, like any exercise, this takes time and practice so be patient with yourself knowing that each day you are getting stronger!