Tidy vs Compulsive

Dearest people who casually use the term “OCD”:

Being tidy and “needing” things to be a certain way isn’t

Obsessive,

Compulsive

or a Disorder.

It took me almost 3 minutes to knock on doors because I had to knock in patterns of 3’s.

If someone opened the door,

I still had to knock until I finished the sequence.

And if I was stopped, I’d have to begin again.

No matter how long that took.

Same pattern with every single light I turned on.

Or off.

I washed my hands 100-200 times a day, sometimes until they were cracked and bleeding.

I obsessively counted ceiling tiles, floor tiles, bricks

Again and again.

And again.

I couldn’t stand to see segments of garlic that hadn’t been broken apart. I’d smash them to bits or I couldn’t hear a single thing anyone was saying.

All I could hear was loud swishing noises and all I could think about was smashing the segments apart.

I couldn’t be touched by most people without needing to wash my hands.

I had to disinfect every doorknob, light switch daily.

In fact,

I spent 4-6 hours a day cleaning every surface in my home.

I never stepped on a crack if I could help it, even if that meant skipping, walking and jumping oddly.

Everything was in patterns only I knew.

It took a lot of thought and energy.

It was debilitating af.

Worse though when was I didn’t finish the knocking sequence.

When I fell onto a crack.

When I wasn’t able to smash the garlic bulbs hanging on the wall.

When I was imperfect.

Imperfection wasn’t tolerable.

I would often smash a glass coke bottle against my head or face until I was black and blue.

Or I would cut the bottoms of my feet with a razor.

The more blood, the better.

I don’t believe that there is sick a thing as being

“OCD sometimes”

Or having “a touch of OCD”.

So unless you can identify with any of the above,

count yourself lucky;

you don’t have OCD.

❤️

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The Kid and I Sat On a Couch

On July 26th, 2017, Toronto photographer Adam Coish placed the following ad in the bunz trading zone:

HELLO FELLOW COUCH OWNERS! I’m looking for willing participants to take part in my ongoing photo project titled “The Couch Series”. I’ve been working on this series for some time and I’m looking to revive the series with some new, fresh looking portraits. The concept is simple. I photograph people on their couches.

I’ve shot over 50 couches and the people/pets who sit on them. What I’m looking for now are interesting faces, spaces and couches that stand out amongst the rest.. 
Here’s some things I’m looking for:
– People with unique hair/style, i.e. Afro, colourful hair, mohawk, dreads, etc. Formal, hippy/bohemian, etc.
– Intriguing couches/spaces. Anything that catches the eye. Could be messy or tidy. Fancy or plain.
– All types of people (age, ethnicity and interests). I.E. Gothic couple, firemen in their station, bikers, Punk couple, Someone with a lot of pets. The list can go on and on.

If you have interest in being a part of this photo series, please DM me. It’s roughly a 1-2 hour experience. In return for you allowing me into your home and taking your portrait, I will email you a couple different portraits from the session. It’s an awesome way to immortalize this time in your life!
Please check out the link below for “The Couch Series”. I’m looking for something different from my series, so I’m sorry in advance if I don’t respond.

Thanks guys!! Now go laze on that couch of yours and relax. You deserve it!

Adam Coish

He included a link to a recent bit of press:

https://www.blogto.com/arts/2017/07/someone-taking-photos-people-quirky-couches-toronto/

I read the article, took one look at his photos and was determined to apply! I was newly single after half a decade and very keen to have a new family photo taken. But, because I was newly single and suddenly paying twice the bills, I hadn’t prioritized it. Plus, I had recently traded for a couch on bunz.com, painted the fabric with chalk finish acrylic and refinished the wood with gold leaf, so it felt like kismet!

I immediately sent him a message.

Hi Adam!
I saw your bunz post and thought I’d throw my hat in the ring!
I’m a professional artist and hula hooper with a very weird/eclectic style. I also recently redecorated a couch! Coincidence?
Yes! 🤣

I included these two photos. In hindsight, the front door was an odd choice to seeing as how a couch would never be anywhere near there.

I crossed my fingers and waited.

Luckily for me, he liked the look of the couch and took the time to reply!  After a bit of back and forth about the kid and the cats, we set up a date for the shoot!

Adam was amazing on the day!

Things that weren’t in his favour:

  • The kid tends to fire off questions one after another, seldom pausing for a breath
  • (Adam took the time to chat and show him his lighting equipment, which Evan still mentions)
  • I am notoriously awkward when asked to pose
  • Cats are super jerks
  • x 3
  • x SIAMESE

Adam expertly directed my family circus and I think it shows it shows in the final photo:

 

unnamed (1)

Isn’t it just (pardon the pun) purrfect?!

I got a bit emotional when I saw it.

And because he’s beyond amazing, Adam recently sent me a bonus photo.

It arrived just as all three foster cats had moved on to there furever homes so it was like a refresh on the family photo.  HOW COOL IS THAT!?

unnamed (2)

Check out the rest of the series and see if you can guess which (besides ours of course) is my favourite!

http://www.adamcoishphotography.com/thecouchseries

 

Love, peace and chicken grease,

thierry

Low Points Are Just Turning Points In Disguise

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I see choices everywhere right now. Did you ever read a Choose Your Own Adventure book?  I used to borrow them from the library in grade school. My mother was the town librarian but I didn’t dare admit my secret affection for them.

They looked like a regular paperback novel in size and shape and each one had a familiar font and graphics on the front and a title you wouldn’t think was misplaced on a Hardy Boys book. Shit like “SPACE AND BEYOND” “JOURNEY UNDER THE SEA”.

 

Each followed a similar pattern of introducing your character and the scene and then giving you a choice as to what direction the story went it. It usually started fairly simply, with no dire consequences to your choices.

If you want the sea captain to pull up the anchor and shove off, turn to page 11

If you think the captain should wait 5 more minutes for Peter, turn to page 14.

Anyway, each book had about 5-6 different endings, at least one including your untimely death and a plethora of ways to get there.

Choices.

I’m at the part of my story that has the most choices so far.

There were always folded corners and bookmarks left in Choose Your Own adventures so that you could go back if you’d made a particularly bad decision.

Occasionally some smartass kid (sometimes me) would write the conclusions beside the answers:

To pull the handle, go to page 147

(Do NOT pull the handle or a giant boulder falls on you and you DIE!!!!)

To turn around a run, go to page 133 (You live another day but you girlfriend leaves you!)

To push the pirate into the sea, go to page 89 (You get 2 more choices then DEAD AGAIN!)

To make an excuse and go back to your room, go to page 111 (WINNER WINNER!)

 

If you laid a well-used Choose Your Own Adventure book on its side, it was usually quite apparent where the major turning points in the story lines were by the fact that it would spring open a bit on pages where there were major multiple choices.

 

The kids who read CYOA books in an attempt to trick a teacher into thinking they had read an actual novel tended to try and find the quickest route to their demise as possible.

I was always aiming to read the longest, most complicated story line in the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reasons I’ve been judgy; Jealousy

Last night, the baseball team here did real well at the sportsing. People were running through the streets for hours, yelling, drinking and generally having a great time.

It sounded like a rad party,

except that I don’t know how to be a part of it.

Sports from my POV:

Excited people everywhere are acting like they know the players personally.  I seriously doubt I would jump up and down even if the team were made of my cousins, so I really don’t understand the excitement at seeing strangers hit balls and things.

Tickets are expensive.

Sports games are longer than movies, and I can’t even sit through an episode of BoJack Horseman in one go.

And so I decided to do a little research;

“Some fans experience dopamine surges whenever their favorite team or athlete fares well. Psychology Today describes dopamine as a “neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.” It helps regulate emotional responses as well as movement.

Whenever a fan’s team experiences a win, that individual’s “pleasure centers” will be ignited.

Cells in the brain called mirror neurons activate when sports fans watch games. Mirror neurons help people understand the actions of others and allow people to put themselves “into another’s shoes” — in other words, to feel empathy. When it comes to watching sports, these mirror neurons cause fans to internalize the actions they’re witnessing on the field and feel the accompanying emotions as if they were doing the action themselves.”

Well holy crap! That sounds AMAZING.

The psychologist that diagnosed my ADHD and ASD tendencies last year told me that the feeling of being disconnected from mass events like sports games is common for people with autism and Aspergers.

Oh.

I simply lack the ability to feel like part of the experience.

As a child, I was extra especially judgmental about people watching sports.  In hindsight, I know it’s because I was jealous. My friends acted as excited watching a game on TV as I imagined they would if they were actually playing themselves, and all they had to do was WATCH?!

I faked it for awhile, to try and be cool, and because I hoped I could learn to be a part of it,  but it was easier to cover up my lack of understanding by being a bitch;

“OMG You don’t even KNOW those people! Are they even FROM the city you’re rooting for? Are they even from our COUNTRY?! It’s pathetic that so many people don’t have anything better to do with their time and energy then live vicariously through a bunch of overpaid little boys waving sticks around.”

I have to admit, I’ve said worse. Belittling others enjoyment of things I don’t understand made me feel bigger.  Better.

These days, when I get those judgy feelings, I take a long hard look at WHY. Jealousy, ignorance or assumptions I’ve made based on past experienced have all been justification for my judgements in the past.

And so instead of ripping on what I don’t understand, I would just like to say that I am quite jealous that I don’t know how to learn to share in what sounds like huge amounts of happiness.

GO TEAM.

sportsing

How I overcame my Cleithrophobia!

It’s been a week since I was forced to face my last remaining fear; Cleithrophobia; the fear of being trapped.

I don’t know what made me follow that lady into our elevator with the kid last Friday; we usually take the stairs. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention…but maybe it was something more…

There are two elevators in our building;  Car 1 is small.  Car 2 is for moving furniture and such.

We got into car 1.

The elevator doors closed and we began to rise. We didn’t make it all the way to the 2nd floor when there was a noise and a drop that made my stomach feel like it wanted to jump out of my throat.

“MUM?”

Panic.

The woman started pressing buttons. She doesn’t speak English. The elevator blinks and beeps but nothing happens. The kid is excited but won’t stop shouting things like “Ropes broken! We’re going to fall down and die!” The woman looked increasingly panicked despite not understanding a word he’s saying.

A minute has passed.

We hit the phone button… it didn’t work. The call kept getting disconnected.

We hit the alarm.

3 minutes passed.

The woman started to hyperventilate.  She gestured for me to pry the doors open.

All I can think about is getting OUT of that tiny metal box.

I forced the doors open to see that we  midway between floors.

I let the inside doors shut again and my lungs feel like they’re in a vice.

No air! I shut my eyes and felt the elevator shrink around me.  I wanted to start swinging fists;  I needed less noise and more room!

But that’s not what moms do.

At least, not the ‘good’ ones.

And so, with my eyes closed, I tuned out the yelling and the alarm and I told myself that the first step, the only one that mattered right then, was to breathe.

Deeply and slowly…

What would be the BEST way I could handle this situation?

(Upon seeing that my eyes are closed and that I am somewhat panic stricken myself, the kid starts to freak out…)

“Just give mommy 2 minutes, baby! I just need to breathe…” I heard myself shouting over them, my voice cracking with fear, tears in my eyes.

And then everything went silent for a moment.

I am not afraid to die. Not at all. I’ve been close to death and have lost so many people that I embrace death as the only inevitability in life. I’m not religious but would (only in the past 2 years) consider myself spiritual, so I have no fear of what comes ‘after’.

I don’t like being hurt but we’re unlikely to die as we’re only about 10 feet up!

There’s plenty of air.

The elevator is the same size it always was.

I’m ok.

I can help them.

I will help them.

And just like that, I wasn’t afraid anymore.  The feeling of tightness in my chest disappeared. The overwhelming urge to rip my way out of that box by any means necessary totally evaporated.

I felt calm. I felt happy.

I was me again.  Just me, trapped in a box with two hysterical humans, one who can’t speak English and one with very limited speech.

I opened my eyes, took a deep breath and smiled.

I reassured the kid that everything was fine.  I stroked his hair and said soothing things while looking into he eyes of the woman.  His fear turned into excitement again.  I tried to communicate with the woman but the language barrier and the fear factor made that incredibly difficult.

She managed to mime that she was scared  that we would use all of the air. I smiled and shook my head no to try and reassure her. I took deep breaths and showed her that the door opened. “There is airflow!”

She looked calmer.

6 minutes have passed. I suddenly remember I have my cellphone! I don’t always carry it.  Isn’t that lucky?

I called Dream Man and asked him to call the building manager.

7 Minutes…

8 minutes…

The elevator phone rang several times but we couldn’t make out what was on the other end.

I get a call on my phone from the building supervisor.

“Are you ok!? We can see you n the camera! We’ve called the repairman! H should be here momentarily… maybe 15 minutes? Tony [other manager] is trying to see what he can do in the meantime! Don’t worry! Don’t panic, ok?!”

She sounded scared.

“No problem. I’ve got this.” I hung up the phone.

15 minutes passed.

The lady sat on the floor. The kid demanded she get up but neither one understood anything the other was saying so it was all good.

I hear shouting up the elevator shaft.

I remember that I have a phone and offer it to the lady.  She is so thankful, I try to apologize for not offering it earlier but it’s a lost cause.

She shouts hysterically into the phone for 3-4 minutes before hanging up, smiling sweetly and saying “thank you”.

20 minutes have passed.

The woman is picking at her toenails and occasionally moaning.

I hear shouting outside the door.

“Can you open them?”

“YES!” I shout.

One of the tenants who happens to be an elevator repairman was there with one of the building supervisors. Their feet were at my chest. They bent down.  I sensed fear.

The kid tried to run for the gap, hoping to be lifted out but I grabbed him just in time.

“No!” They both shouted.

“We can’t help you out. I’m so sorry. I tried to do what I could but I’m not authorized to touch this elevator. I’m so sorry…”

“Just stay calm.  We’d take you out of there now if we could but it’s far too dangerous with it being between floors.”

No kidding. I just read a Cracked article about elevator accidents like 2 weeks ago.  Metal coffins.

“Ok… so how long will we have to wait here?” I asked.

“Maybe 20 minutes? They’re usually pretty fast and it’s already been awhile…”

Two and a half hours.  That’s how long it took.

It didn’t go by quickly but I’ll save you most of the details.  Sufficient to say that the kid and the woman suffered waves of calm and waves of sheer panic.

I smiled and cuddled, hugged and reassured.

Do you know what happens when you spend 2 and a half hours in an elevator with a full bladder, a large coffee and a kid with a full bladder?  YOU DRINK YOUR DAMN COFFEE AND USE THE CUP LIKE A TOILET FOR YOUR KID AND YOU NEARLY BURST YOUR BLADDER.

When they finally pulled us up and out of that thing, I had to hand the nearly full coffee cup to the repairman who stupidly assumed it was still coffee. “Wow, must have been hard not to drink your coffee but good thinking!”

I was already running for a toilet.

I peed for 137 years.

True story.

Except I missed one very important bit.   The young man who came to retrieve the older lady said, “She says to thank you! She doesn’t know what she would have done without you with her!” The lady was kissing her fingers and blowing them towards me with tears in her eyes.

I nodded, blew a kiss back and ran for the loo.

It’s been a week.  I can’t tell you how incredible it feels to know that I am a person with no fears.

I used to say thing like, I’ve conquered all my fears, except my fear of being trapped. Sometimes I worry that if I got stuck in an elevator, I’d just start swinging fists!  I’d totally freak out!”

NOW I can say, “I am fearless!”

I don’t think I believe in fate.  I’d prefer to believe that I create lessons in situations rather than the lessons being provided by the universe or god or whatever you call it/him/her/us.

But this situation feels a little different.

Not only did I learn a life lesson, not only were we there for someone who needed us, the BEST bit to come from all of this was watching my beautiful, autistic son deal with all of this. The excitement turning into fear, turning into panic.  The drama that went through his head and then the decision to make it all into a fantastic experience.

He didn’t come out of that elevator traumatized or scared.  He decided that it was one of the most exciting things to ever happen to him!  He told people about all the best bits.  He took an emotional experience and digested it properly. What was left was pure joy.

It took me YEARS to learn how to do that!

Somehow getting trapped in an elevator ended up being a fantastic experience for both of us.

Who’da thunk it?

How do I discipline my child without judgement?

I got a call yesterday to say that my 9 year old son hit another child at recess.  This is the third time in 2 weeks my son has been physically aggressive at school. The fact that it had been years since he has behaved that way in front of me made me think that this has very little to do with his autism and sensory needs and everything to do with piss poor behavior.

A little back story; Evan was diagnosed with autism at age 3.  He was mostly non-verbal until the age of 6 and still struggles with language. He was a happy, gentle child but could be prone to bouts of anger and violence, both of which seemed to dissipate with the development of new language skills.

In fact, it’s been years since he’s been physically aggressive towards me and in that time, my parenting style has changed drastically.

And so I was left to wonder, how do I discipline my child without judgement?

Evan is a very large, thick child with more muscle then fleshy bits. He is solid and because of his ASD, he is a bit numb physically. Evan loves deep pressure, hard hugs and squeezes; they help to keep him aware of his body.

Evans father is 6’4″ and was 6′ by the age of 12.

The way I see it, I have a short period of time to change this behavior before my child is bigger than me.

Because it has been a long time since I’ve had to deal with this behavior, I found myself falling into old patterns of thinking; I imagined how angry I would be in advance of seeing him, to show how much I disapproved of his behavior.

But then I remembered this whole non-judgement malarkey and had to have a serious re-think about how I was going to handle the situation.

How do I show my partially verbal son that his behavior is unacceptable without showing anger or frustration?

I decided to stay calm. I would talk to him, I would discuss all the reasons why being physically aggressive is negative, how that behavior affects others and why he wouldn’t be seeing his ipad for a week.

I met him off the school bus. I was so cool. He was apprehensive at first; if this was last year, I would have acted VERY angry in this situation.  Instead, I let myself feel all of the love I feel for him (instead of hiding it behind a mask of anger) but clearly spoke to him about never hitting, about the importance of learning to keep your cool and make yourself happy by thinking happy thoughts instead of lashing out.

“When you are angry or sad, it’s up to YOU to remind yourself of all of the things that make you happy before you act out.”

“I’m sorry mommy! I won’t be hitting.”

“Ok…but can you tell me the kinds of happy things you’re going to remember to think about the next time you’re angry?  What kinds of things make you happy?”

He sat and thought for a moment and then replied, “Mommy makes me happy.”

NICE TRY, KID!

He spent the time after school on his bed, contemplating life, the universe and everything (Hitting = bad stuff. Not hitting = Good times),  ate dinner at 5:30 and was tucked up in bed by 6:15, 45 minutes earlier than usual.

The first thing he said to me this morning as he crawled into my bed for a cuddle was, “I’m sorry I hit, mommy. I love you.” which I took as a sign that he’d been thinking about it.

I sent him off to school with instructions to apologize to the people involved. his teacher sent me this: ScreenShot

#NailedIt