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Losing Traction

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Poke it with a Stick

A short story: It is rare that we appreciate what we have, until faced with the loss of it.

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Flickering Flames

Flickering flames of hope and peace,
We must continue to let them shine
Blocking attempts to extinguish them,
Citizens marching, people…

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Photography & Meditation: Integrating the paths of photography and meditation

Views of 3 professional photographers in Barcelona

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I’m on the Autism Spectrum. Bullying, discrimination, and non-acceptance is a way of life.

Our lives matter too.

I was a Guest Speaker at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City for World Autism Awareness Day 2017. Photo by Anita Lesko

A highlight of my life was getting invited to be a guest speaker at the United Nations Headquarters for World Autism Awareness Day 2017. I can still remember walking into that huge amphitheater room and seeing my name placard lit up at my seat. It was overwhelming to say the least. There were thousands in the room, and the event was going to be live streamed around the world to 92 countries.

I was selected to speak because I have a career, and I’m married. What? Like big deal, you’re thinking. Millions of people have a career and are married. Yeah, that’s true. Except they are not on the autism spectrum. To be an independent person, with a successful career, and be married is no small fete when you’re on the autism spectrum.

One thing I think people forget is that those cute little kids with autism will grow up to become autistic adults. Imagine that. The vast majority of autism research funding goes into studies surrounding autistic children. For a long time, if there was research about adults on the spectrum, it was conducted solely by non-autistic individuals, without having at least one autistic person as an advisor or consultant. Well how Freakin’ crazy is that? Fortunately, that has changed over recent years.

I am deeply saddened, shocked, and outraged like the rest of the world at the murder of George Floyd, and other blacks killed by law enforcement. Yes, without a doubt, racism MUST stop. Once and for all. But in the quest for equality, let us use this opportunity to seek equality for everyone.

A few years ago, someone asked me, “just how long are you going to drag out this Asperger’s thing?” There is no difference in that question than had he said to a black person, “just how long are you going to drag out this black thing?”

Each human being is born into this world without getting to make any requests for how we want to be. It’s not like placing an order on Amazon where you pick out exactly what you want. No, us humans are more the ‘potluck,’ you simply get whatever shows up. None of us can help how we are born, or to whom. It just happens. Where, then, I ask, did it ever all start that some people feel they are superior to others? Why do some people bully, harass, discriminate, even kill those they see as lesser than themselves, for reasons that individual had no choice in the matter? Whether it is the color of their skin, or whether they have autism.

I’m on the autism spectrum, and I have experienced some of the same things as those who are black. No, autistic people are not getting killed by cops. But many autistic individuals commit suicide from loneliness, isolation, discrimination, and non-acceptance in this world. The end result is the same. It is unacceptable on all accounts.

I am talking about discrimination and non-acceptance. Individuals on the autism spectrum are different and society typically doesn’t allow us to fit in. That’s the ticket to those who chose to exclude us from everyday life. Many people have a negative attitude or stereotyped beliefs of those on the autism spectrum.

A common occurrence is experiencing bullying and discrimination in the workplace. This is quite common for those on the autism spectrum who are employed. The latest global statistics show that 85% of autistic adults are unemployed or underemployed. This is a very complex topic, one I shall address in a separate article.

Autistic individuals experience the world very differently than non-autistic people. This is due to a combination of factors. Sensory intake of sound, touch, taste, visual, smell is often highly acute and overwhelming, and may even vary depending on different times throughout the day. There is also the cognitive factor, of how we process information and subsequently respond to it. We take things very literally, and typically have extreme difficulty understanding facial expressions and body language.

Most non-autistic people don’t understand how we experience the world, and thus are not prepared for interacting with us, or working with us.

Some years ago, a friend’s young autistic son was suffering with depression. He was around ten at the time. No kids at school wanted anything to do with him, typical for anyone on the autism spectrum. One day he asked her point blank, “Mommy, is anyone ever going to want to be my friend? If not, I just want to be dead.” Wow. Ten years old. Pretty heavy stuff, and incredibly sad.

Acceptance of neurodiversity in our society is just as important as acceptance of race, religion, culture, sex.

Autistic people are not fully accepted into society. Many try to hide behind a mask to “conceal” their autistic traits from others. That is not only exhausting, it is impacting their mental health. Why should anyone have to hide your true self? It doesn’t work anyway, as others can sense you are different even if you try to hide it.

Why can’t people realize we are one human race on this planet. Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary General won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. In the quest for a more peaceful world, he revitalized the UN to give priority to human rights. He believed “we are all human and need to stand together despite religious, cultural, or racial differences.”

Our society must not accept the marginalization of any human being, for any reason. There are no excuses. It is 2020. It cannot and must not accept discrimination nor marginalization of anyone. Each one of us is a human being. The time has come to step up to the plate and embrace your fellow humans. Let’s stop the hate, the discrimination, the marginalization.

Nelson Mandela’s words are so very true. We must begin to follow his words now, as well as those of Kofi Annan. This world is in peril. It cannot take much more. Just think of how great this world could be if everyone did just that.

Let’s all take the high road, put aside each other’s differences, and embrace each other as a fellow human being.

All of our lives matter. Each and every one of us.

I’m on the Autism Spectrum. Bullying, discrimination, and non-acceptance is a way of life. was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Are Women Really Embracing Their Body Hair?

Or is it just another show of “False Control ”?

Photo By: Bazaar featuring Emily Ratajkowski

Today I read one article about how women are accepting their bodies the way it is, naturally. There is a big movement going on about women embracing their body hair. For them to raise their voices with the slogan “if men don’t have to do it, why should I”.

That is good, motivational, and strong to read or to see on models who promote and support the moment. It is quite inspiring to have a feel of full control of our personal choices by looking at those pictures and reading those articles.

But the real question is, is it real or just some other tactic to make women feel in control? Will you accept your body hair the way it is, naturally? Are you one of those women who bravely accepted to break through this stereotype? Are you willing to look at someone with body hair without being a participant of body shame? Even in a passing thought?

Are you accepting your body hair because you wanted to accept it or are you accepting it because it is cool and a “new statement”? You are not accepting it because some celebrities are doing this, right?

And the most important question, do these “movements” exist only on papers and photos or is it real? Hell! Do they even exist on that promotional pictures and articles?

Because quite frankly, I don’t think so. For me, it can be a huge step in accepting yourself the way you are? A big step in finally realizing, accepting, and standing up for your choices. But to be honest, we are not quite there. Have you ever look at the pictures they are using to promote such a thing?

In those photos, the model featured only accepted the armpit hair. Armpit hair and public hair are not the only body hair type.

If you wanted to embrace your body the way it is, will you be able to accept someone that doesn’t have perfectly shaped eyebrows or someone with the hair above their lips or on the chin? Will you be able to accept someone that refuses to wax their hairs on legs and hands? Will you?

Change does not always imply, you have to take action yourself but the fact that to be supporting enough to accept others in action.

This question is not only for men but for women. Especially for women. If we, women decided and accepted that we want to defy some norm, there is no one else to question it.

But the problem is, are women ready to really embrace the change?

Accept yourself and your choices because you wanted to, not because others are doing it. Accept your body hair or any change for that matter because you wanted to, because you are comfortable. Not because it is what trending or in fashion.

Because ultimately, it is you who has to live with the changes. Any step, any change will not be a forward step or a positive change if it is not your choice, no matter how huge and important it is. We don’t want to go backward, now, do we?

Bitter but real, Change is not initiated and being practiced on papers and photos but with the real examples. Before appreciating and feeling proud of any change happening in the world, just question yourself are you willing to be “the change” yourself??

Be proud, to be yourself.

Be courageous, to accept that.

Are Women Really Embracing Their Body Hair? was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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A Story of Humanity and Illness

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Breathe, Accept, and Move Forward

Growth happens when we stop fighting the negative stuff and accept reality as it presents.

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Cultural Integration

People make progress as best they can
Fortunate ones have winds at their backs
Others struggle daily against strong currents,
Race and…

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Madness Is Eccentric

Perceptions have gone wrong

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