Do You Lucid Dream, Too?

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Let me start by saying, this is not in any way an official anything on lucid dreams. I’m just in a mood to talk, and this has been on my mind lately. It’s probably silly to some, but it’s been fun to discuss with Blue.

I have always been an interesting sleeper. As a kid, I would end up at the other end of the bed, sideways, you name it. I talk in my sleep, much to the past amusement of friends and partners.  I cry so hard at times, I wake up sobbing. I laugh and giggle aloud. Years ago, before Blue, I would often wake up and see people who weren’t really there. Some talked to me, others just looked at me, and still some just went on as if I didn’t exist.

And then, last summer I began to lucid dream.

In one dream, I was hiding behind a log in a grassy field. I was evading detection from either aliens or warring factions. Suddenly, I’m watching my own self and I’m telling myself, “Heather, look up. Look at me.” and I/she did. I proceed to tell her/myself, “Look at who you’re with here.” It’s Brad Pitt. So very funny. I’ve never dreamed of Brad Pitt. It was Legends of the Fall era Brad Pitt. And, surely, if you’ve seen Legends of the Fall or Troy, you’ll know, at least at that time, he had a great, ahem, backside. Yep, it was just as great in my dream. At any rate, I was lucidly dreaming. I knew that I was in a dream and I was able to talk to myself. However, I woke up quickly and that was that. Unfortunately, I have no scandalous memories of my time with Brad.

LOTF

A week later, I had another lucid dream. I don’t remember much of the dream, other than the fact that again I knew I was dreaming and I had a back and forth conversation with myself. I was driving in a neighborhood, circling the same block over and over. I was in a 1960’s style coupe and I kept passing this one particular house that had tall, narrow, evenly spaced shrubs that bothered me. Eventually, as I drove down the street again and again, the shrubs began to morph and turn into leaf men aliens. It sounds funny to hear, but it was actually a really anxious, fearful situation as it happened in the dream. I knew I was dreaming, but I couldn’t stop it. I woke up just as one of these tall, gangling, terrifying leaf aliens was reaching out to grab the back of my car.

After my brush with attacking shrubs, I didn’t have another lucid dream again for a few months. Life got pretty intense, and I guess my sleep was just too exhausted to be adventurous. But, then. . .

The Binary Code Dream

What I remember of this dream was that I was lucid, someone spoke to me, a voice from the darkness not connected to any body, and at the end, the entire dream was washed over with binary code. It was a spacey type dream and I was ooh’ing and ahh’ing at the fact that I was swimming through the universe, basically, when a voice speaks into my head. I wish I could remember the exact words. I wasn’t smart enough to write it down. But, it was profound. Something akin to, “We are here.” and then the view turned black and binary code just poured into the space.

Blue is convinced it was aliens, or God, or even humans from the future sending a message back to me. I’m not sure what I think. But, whatever it is, we agreed that I should work more on controlling my lucid dreaming.

The Newest Dreams

So, last week before I went to sleep, I laid in the dark, exhausted, mentally reciting that  I was going to remember my dreams, control my dreams, and dream of Sam and Dean from Supernatural. (Laugh all you want, I thought they’d be a good time. Ha.) I envisioned myself walking down a tropical beach with them, and then at dinner with them. I’d read an article on how to lucid dream that day that suggested envisioned two scenes from what you wanted to happen.

SDC

People – I DREAMED of Sam and Dean from Supernatural! I walked down a beach with them, had a nice conversation with Sam. (Odd, because I’m totally a Dean girl.) and just generally enjoyed myself. I was not able to control the dream, or to separate myself from it enough to really talk to myself in it. But, I knew I was dreaming.

Second night – Rinse and repeat. This time, I was on a case with the Winchester boys on an episode of Supernatural! Again, I didn’t speak to myself and I didn’t separate enough to be able to actively control the dream. But, it sure was a fun time.

I’m thinking now, I’m going to start keeping a dream journal, keep practicing controlling what dream I have and who is in them. And then, move on to actively trying to be lucid enough to change the scenery, the action, etc.

How wonderful would it be to be able to recognize you are having a nightmare, pause the action, and change it? As a child, I had two very distinct recurring nightmares. I remember every frame of those dreams to this day. I wish I would have known then how to recognize it was just a dream, and then change it. I don’t have many nightmares now, they’re fairly rare, but it would be so nice to cut them off at the knees.

That’s where I’m at. What do you think? Did aliens speak to me? Was it God? Am I just crazy?

Have you ever had a lucid dream, or do you regularly? Let me know in the comments!

Best,
H

An Interview with Blue

An Interview with Blue

  1. Q. How old are you?
    A. 20. I’m old. (Snort – H)
  2. Q. What is your favorite subject in school?
    A. Right now, probably paleontology. 
  3. Q. Are you excited to be finishing high-school?
    A. Yes! (Definitely a silent Hallelujah! on both our parts. – H)
  4. Q. Do you intend to keep finishing online classes that are of interest to you?
    A. Yeah. 
  5. Q. Are you ready to study for the ACT?
    A. No, not really. (Me, either, kid. Me, either. – H)
  6. Q. What do you plan to major in at college?
    A. I still haven’t decided. (Art, animals, and geology/anthropology are the considerations. We’ve discussed how she might grow into a career that utilizes all of them.)
  7. Q. At this moment, today, what is your dream job?
    A. (noises) .. something to do with art. 
  8. Q. What’s your favorite color?
    A. Purple 
  9. Q. Has your favorite color changed?
    A. Yep, it’s been so many, but I guess this year it’s purple. 
  10. Q. What’s your favorite type of music?
    A. I like all types of music. I don’t have just one favorite.
    Q2. Do you have a favorite song?
    A. Nah, no, I’ve never understood the concept of having one favorite song. Or, band. I like all songs. 
  11. Q. Has your taste in music changed or grown to include more genres?
    A. Yeah. (She is so forth-coming. /s/ – H)
  12. Q. What’s the best book you’ve read so far and why?
    A. The book Alexis sent me, Eleanor and Park, because I think it kinda helped me through, understanding, I guess going through the breakup and going through stuff like that. It just helped a lot. 
  13. Q. What are you most afraid of?
    A. Heights, and I guess being alone. I think a lot of people feel that way, deep down.
    (They sure do, love. – H)
  14. Q. Where is your dream place to live, if you could live anywhere? Why?
    A. I don’t know. I can’t think of anywhere, at the moment. Uh, all I can think of is somewhere close to the ocean, so I could go to the beach and listen to the water.

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    Blue’s first glimpse of the ocean.
  15. Q. What is your favorite art style?
    A. Uhh, I don’t have one favorite art style. I don’t even have my own single art style. My art changes depending on what I’m drawing.
    Q2. Are you interested in learning other mediums of art?
    A. I think so. Sometimes. Sometimes, I like where I’m at, right now.

     *Fun Fact – My Blue girl has been creating new art for a FB game for over a year now. They work around her schedule and pretty much accept whatever she wants to give them. It’s been great for helping to teach her that in the real world, work deadlines and quality expectations, along with constructive criticism are all things she’ll have to live with as an independent woman. – H
  16. Q. What do you think is the scariest thing in the news these days?
    A. I guess the fact that we could be going into war any minute. 
  17. Q. Do you think you’re conservative, liberal, centrist, or something else?
    A. I guess something else. We all know I’m not a conservative. 
  18. Q. Do you believe in star signs?
    A. I think they’re cool, but I don’t really believe in them. They’re cool to study, though. 
  19. Q. Chocolate or vanilla?
    A. I like both, but I think right now, vanilla. (Specifically, vanilla frosted sugar cookies from the store bakery. She would eat a package a day, if I’d buy them and let her. – H)
  20. Q. Coffee, tea, or coke?
    A. Sweet tea. (We are southern, after all. – H)
  21. Q. Breakfast for dinner?
    A. Yeah, I like breakfast for dinner. You make good breakfast for dinner. 
  22. Q. Best vacation you’ve ever had?
    A. Uh, there’s a lot of vacations I’ve liked, but I think the one we just had. I’d like to go back to the beach. The water was cold, but a good cold.
    Q2. Do you feel like the ocean played any part in soothing the symptoms of your autism or anxiety?
    A. Yeah, it just felt like I was on a rhythm. 
  23. Q. Saddest day of your life so far?
    A. The break-up. 
  24. Q. What are your goals for the next ten years?
    A. I guess being able to live on my own. And, not having to worry.
    (Don’t worry, kid. I’ll worry for us. – H)
  25. Q. Do you want to be famous? Why or why not?
    A. Uh, in-between. I want to, but at the same I don’t. I want to be noticed, but at the same time I don’t. It’s just too much pressure. (She’s been planning her Academy Award speech for Best Animated Film for years! It always includes, “And, you’ll be in the audience sobbing, right, Mom?” Yes. Yes, I would be, Blue. – H)
  26. Q. Do you believe in God?
    A. No, but I also can’t prove there isn’t one, either. I am agnostic/atheist. 
  27. Q. Do you feel like you were pressured not to believe in God because of who you grew up with?
    A. No. I just feel like it’s just like kids growing up with Christians. It’s just how it was. I wasn’t pressured. I’ve been to church, I’ve seen that. I’m not interested. 
  28. Q. How many kids do you want?
    A. Two. But, we all know I’m going to end up having four. 
  29. Q. What do you hope they look like?
    A. I don’t know. I don’t care what they’ll look like. I’ll love them any way they are. 

    *Fun Fact – She is bi-racial.  Caucasion (Mostly Irish/Welsh & Native American through myself) & Mexican. (We think. Her biological  father was adopted. We hope to do a DNA kit at some point. We always joke about what  her kids might look like. People have thought she’s Puerto Rican, Japanese, black/white, you name it. We get a kick out of it.)

     

  30. Q. What is your favorite T.V. show, right now?
    A. Santa Clarita Diet. That was funny. I liked it. I already know Lost in Space is going to be my favorite.

  31. Q. Top 5 shows?
    A. The Walking Dead, Supernatural, The Good Place, The Good Doctor, and iZombie, oh and ZNation. There’s a lot of zombie shows I like. (Hence the reason my next book includes zombies. – H)
  32. Q. What are your favorite 5 movies?
    A. All the Jurassic Park movies, Zootopia, Moana, Harry Potter series, The Paranormal Activity movies. I really like scary movies. (When she was little, we watched Forest Gump at least 900 times. No lie. – H)

    *Fun Fact – We saw Harry Potter in the theatre when Blue was four-years-old. She was so into it, I barely had to remind her not to narrate the entire movie. There was one particuarly intense moment when Harry seems in great peril. The theatre is silent. Then, suddenly, in that silence came the sweetest, most intensely worried little voice sighing out loudly, “Ohhhhhh, Harrrryyyy.” The entire theatre erupted into laughter. It was the sweetest, cutest moment.
  33. Q. What is your favorite animal?
    A. I like ALL animals. I can’t pick just one. I guess if I did. You know what I’ve always liked since I was little, is tigers. (Seriously, I did not realize it was tigers. I would have guessed snake or shark. She is an animal fact machine. Land or marine life, she’s your go-to. – H)
  34. Q. How do you feel about hunting?
    A. I don’t like hunting as a sport. But, if you’re maybe living off the land, using all the body, respecting the animals, you should go for it if that’s your thing. Cause, I know no one is going to stop hunting. It’s just in our blood, instinctual, to survive. 
  35. Q. If you saw a woman being abused, would you step in?
    A. I would try, too. It would take me talking myself into it. Because, I’m not strong at all. But, I would try, even if it meant putting myself in-between them. 
  36. Q. And, finally, do you understand what autism is?
    A. Just means I function differently from everybody. My brain is on another level, that no one else can understand. That’s neither good or bad. It’s in-between. 
  37. Q. What do you think is the most common misconception about autism?
    A. That all of us are the same, that we can’t talk, can’t take of ourselves. I guess that we can’t do things that “normal” people can do. Everybody seems to think that autism is like Down’s Syndrome. And, even they’re not what people think. People think we can’t do anything, because we don’t do it at the right time or the right way. We’re normal to us. We just have our own way of doing things. 
  38. Q. How does it make you feel when someone says, “You don’t look like you have autism.”?
    A. Makes me upset, because it makes me think what does autism look like to them? 
  39. Q. If you could magically wake up without autism, would you want to?
    A. On some days, I do. But, other days, I’m just like it doesn’t matter to me. 
  40. Q. Do you prefer autistic girl or girl with autism?
    A. Neither. I guess if it had to come up, I’d tell them. But, I just want to be known as Lyli. (I’m sorry it has to come up so often, Blue. – H)
  41. Q. How would you describe stimming to non-autistic people?
    A. You know how you like to tap you fingers on the table sometimes, or bounce your leg? It’s like that for me, but like times ten. It helps me calm my nerves down. Or, it helps distract my mind when I need to be distracted. 
  42. Q. Do you feel like your skin picking is a form of stimming or just related to your anxiety and OCD?
    A. Probably in-between, but also the self-harming kind of thing, the relief. 
  43. Q. What relief does skin-picking give you?
    A. I don’t know how to explain it. It just feels like a wave, just washes over, I guess. I guess it’s like, taking out my anxiety, or something.

  44. Q. What is your favorite food?
    A. We all know I love food. I don’t know why you’re asking. We all know chicken wings are going to be on top. I could eat some right now. 
  45. Q. Lastly, What is your ideal way to spend a day?
    A. You know that answer. Sleep in. And, get up and play video games in whatever awesome video game room that I have. Eating all the food. And, having people over to hang out.

 

Autism Acceptance – We Can Do More.

Today, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day. Everywhere, around the globe, across social media, and in the news, there will be thousands of pictures of much loved kids and adults. Today, efforts will continue to bring Autism to the forefront of peoples minds, and calls for much needed funding and services will be made. People will give likes, and maybe even share posts and articles. But, will they do any more than that?

How many of you will remember autism after the media blitz today? And, how will you  remember autism if it doesn’t effect your life directly? Will you wonder if every kid having a meltdown in the grocery store is autistic? Will you assume every non-verbal or special needs person you  run across, must have autism based on their behavior? How do you recognize autism when it isn’t being shown directly to you? Can you recognize it?

The Autism Science Foundation says, “When people refer to “Autism” today, they are usually talking about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which is a brain-based disorder characterized by social-communication challenges and restricted repetitive behaviors, activities, and interests.”

When everyday people think of autism, most are envisioning young, non-verbal children who are hard to manage. This is where the spectrum part of autism comes into play. You see, just like most personalities, autism runs the gamut. Some people born with autism never speak, never learn to care for themselves, may be violent. Other autistics, however, may be hard to spot.  These are the so-called high-functioning autistics who have taught themselves to blend well enough into the neuro-typical box that most people think, Yeah, he’s a little weird, but they don’t ever think, Oh, he’s autistic.

In-between those two types of autistic people are a million other shades of autism. There’s a very popular saying, “Once you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” We learn more and more every day about the autistic brain and yet, we hardly know anything. We are constantly surprised and always searching to unlock what makes these awesome people tick.

No doubt, autistic people need help to achieve their greatest potential. But, they are not broken. They do not need to be cured or fixed. Their brains work differently from ours and that is never going to change. It is why we, the neuro-typical, must be open to changing our own way of viewing the world around us. Instead of trying to fit autistic people into our neat little box, we need to throw the box out and work on broadening the scope of what is considered to be normal living.

I believe in looking at autism for exactly what it is, a delay in brain development in utero that changed the way each autistic person sees and interacts with the outside world. I believe there hasn’t been enough done to bring fruition to a very common wish among autistic people, the wish to be treated just like you and I. They want the same acceptance, the same opportunities to live their life to its fullest potential. We must come together to help them achieve that.

Autism acceptance extends outside of autism to envelope all neuro-divergent people. It asks everyone to stop being afraid of what isn’t the majority and to open their minds to the possibility that autistic people and others who diverge from norm be welcomed and encouraged to be themselves.

If you  don’t know an autistic person, I highly recommend you change that. Do more than like the posts, become a friend and an advocate to the autism community. Encourage lawmakers to continue passing laws of equality and diversity. Volunteer and fund raise for the autism charity of your choice. It’s always needed.

Services for adults on the spectrum, after the age of 18, are astronomical. My own daughter has been qualified for a service dog, a dog that may allow her to one day live a life outside our home without needing me with her as a security device. Service dogs are highly trained and specialized animals that cost between 10 and 20 thousand dollars. No joke.

If you run a business, consider giving autistic people a chance to work for you. Contrary to the movies and television shows, not every autistic person is a mathematical or electronic genius. They need other people in their communities to open their doors and help them grow and learn so they can gain independence through confidence. Welcome them into your life and reap the rewards that these awesome individuals can bring. I promise you they are eager to learn and aching to feel part of society. Yes, they may  have quirks, tics, and the occasional panic attack, but the benefits far outweigh any  perceived drawback.

Let go of assumptions. You are never going to know who is autistic and who isn’t. When you do come across an autistic individual, treat them as normally as possible. If someone is non-verbal, talk to them anyway. Research is showing that they’re in there. They’re listening to you, they’re understanding you. Their bodies may not cooperate, but they are soaking up every word, look, and action. Please remember that.

To accept someone means to let go of the standard expectations and to welcome and love them for simply who they are. It’s not always comfortable. They aren’t going to stay the cute six-year-old kid who tugs your heartstrings. Those cute kids grow up to be adults who need opportunities to learn, grow, work, play, build friendships and find love, and have families of their own someday. Their needs are not unlike your own.

It’s never always easy, but it’s always worth it.

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Best,
H

 

 

My Daughter & Autism

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I’ve been MIA for about two years now. As happens, life decides to get in the way and some things fall to the wayside. This blog being one of them. I hope to change that now, for many reasons. But, today’s blog is all about my daughter and autism.

Almost two years ago my daughter was diagnosed with autism, severe anxiety disorder, OCD excoriation (skin picking in layman’s terms) and depression, as well as Borderline Intellectual Functioning. There were tests. Oh, so many tests and papers to fill out, questions to answer, and interviews. It was a lot. It’s still a lot.

I always knew she might possibly be autistic, but getting an actual firm diagnosis from a doctor with lots of fancy degrees and multiple letters after her name made it official. It was both a sigh of relief moment and a moment of life-altering hard-hitting reality. This is her. This is always going to be her.

My daughter is considered a Level 1 autistic. Yes, even in autism, people feel a need to put other people in boxes, and make them fit, although they often don’t. I strongly feel this is inadequate and does her and every other autistic person a disservice. Because, here’s how it works. The higher level you are, the more services you have access to.

What it really means on paper is that because she has extremely good verbal skills, lots of men with fancy degrees and fancier suits feel she needs less help than someone who is non-verbal. What it means to her, myself, and her therapist, is that she is lost in some gray area where we know she does need more help, but because she speaks so well, on paper that prevents her from finding that help more easily.

Let’s get this straight, a verbal autistic person needs every bit as much help, as a non-verbal person. They simply need it in a different way. And, let me tell you, finding help once a person is over 18 is hard, very hard. My daughter is still in high-school at twenty-years-old. She cannot drive. She would not go in a store alone to buy even one item until this last year. When she did, she would shove all of her money at the cashier, no matter how much it cost. She’s getting better at it. There are still days she will have a meltdown and cry because she doesn’t want to. I won’t let her stop.

She has panic attacks. She is emotionally on the level of a fourteen-year-old. She doesn’t want to leave her room. She has no real life friends. She could spend every day in the same clothes and never care about that. Ever. She has to be reminded to brush her teeth, take a shower, put on deodorant, even now.

My daughter self-harms. Many autistics do. She used to hit me. She doesn’t take change well. She takes everything too literally. She didn’t know how to make or take a joke until she was fifteen. She is afraid of most men. She is still learning her multiplication. She is moody and has bouts of depression. She doesn’t know if she understands love or even if she feels it.

She needs help recalling her phone number, her address, and step-by-step printed guides on how to wash dishes, clean her room. If I don’t push her, those things never happen. And, it never changes.

I could list a thousand things that show why she needs help, a thousand things that highlight her autism. Without help, she will never have her own life, possibly never go to college, never hold a good job, never marry, have children, travel, see the world or conquer it. I am her driver, her cook, her maid, her advocate. Neither of us have the life we envisioned we’d have when she turned twenty-years-old.

But, let me tell you other things about her. My daughter is an artist. She’s been drawing since she could hold a crayon and never stopped. She is a self-taught graphic artist, and is teaching herself animation. A girl who can barely do her times tables is teaching herself how to animate art. Think about that.

She is seriously funny. Her sense of humor may have taken a while to kick in, but once it did, it became this quick-witted, dry sort of humor that keeps me in stitches. Then, there’s another sort of humor, the silliness she refers to as, “the humor of a thirteen-year-old boy.”

She is the sweetest kid on Earth. Loving. Loyal. If she loves you, she loves you and that’s it. You could hurt her a thousand ways and she’d forgive you. For a mother, that’s a scary thing to understand in your child, that she’s vulnerable to being hurt, used. She doesn’t have a bad bone in her body.

And, her fancy tests may say something else by number, but this girl is so intelligent, so smart. She can tell you any and every thing you ever wanted to know about dinosaurs, insects, sea life, and more. If it’s an interest to her, she will learn absolutely everything about it to the Nth degree.

She may not be comfortable at expressing love the way we know it, but she’ll come to me and spend an hour telling me facts. That’s her love. That’s her telling me she wants to be with me. If I hear her singing the ABC song in her room, that means she’s happy, content, and it fills me with happiness, too.

Sometimes, I have gotten down and mourned the life I think I’ve lost, the one where I’m a relatively young woman whose kid is grown and out on their own and it’s all me time. And, then, I hear her singing. And, everything is okay, it’s all okay. And, for her, I would do anything. I would beg, borrow, and steal.

She is smart enough to understand autism, that her brain works differently from the majority. There is nothing more painful than seeing your child realize that the entire world looks at her strangely, that the entire world is always going to underestimate her, think she doesn’t understand their judgement, or their condescension. And, that causes a pain inside of her that I can’t adequately describe.

She wants everything you ever wanted, I ever wanted. She wants to be a “normal” young adult who has friends, goes out, dates, falls in love, goes to college, has a career, marries, has children. All of it. She longs for it and if I could make every one in the world feel that longing, that pain of missing things we take for granted, there wouldn’t be a need for boxes and levels, there would be help everywhere, readily available.

There would be acceptance. And, that’s something I plan to write about in a couple of days. April is coming up. April is Autism Awareness Month. And, April 2nd is Autism Awareness Day. And, while I think we should always keep up with teaching awareness. I think it’s time we started focusing on acceptance and opportunity. But, again, I’ll save that for another blog.

Autism is just one of the reasons I’ve been away. Maybe I will touch on the rest here and there along the way. And, of course, I’ll get back to more posts about my writing.

Best,
H.

 

I Love New York?

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View from 8th floor hotel room.

Guns. Broken down subway cars. Stair hikes. Walking. Walking. Walking. Bloody blisters. Bathroom emergencies. Divine Intervention. Hairs in food. We’re so lost. Innocuous looking park wall. Broken arm. Plane cooties. Plane delay. Home.

 

Watch this space for the details of my grand week in New York!

 

Ground Control to Major Tom

The loss of a legend.

 

RIP David.

 

Lazarus – D. Bowie

Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now

Look up here, man, I’m in danger
I’ve got nothing left to lose
I’m so high it makes my brain whirl
Dropped my cell phone down below

Ain’t that just like me

By the time I got to New York
I was living like a king
Then I used up all my money
I was looking for your ass

This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me

Oh I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Oh I’ll be free

Ain’t that just like me

 

 

Review Me – Please

One of the hardest things I’ve encountered on this wild, wonderful journey into self-publishing so far is finding people willing to review my book. Why, I’m not sure. I’m not looking in the right places, perhaps?

What I would like to do is swap books with another new’ish indie author or three, so that we might help each other out. Now, I’m not saying we give each other 5-star glowing reviews if the work doesn’t warrant 5-stars, but I am saying we could help each other with genuine, thoughtful feedback so that potential readers have something more to go on than just the book synopsis.

Are you out there? Tell me where to find you. Are you a dedicated reader, love YA? I want to hear from you, too!

If you know where I should be looking, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

– Heather