Neurodiversity as biodiversity

Hello Friends,

I had a startling experience at work recently, one that shook me a bit. I’m still processing that event, which had to do with being unfairly accused of something I could not have done. But I’m not ready to tell that story. It’s still too raw.

Instead, I want to reflect on what I see as an issue that is becoming more important to me as I see people with hidden “disabilities” in the workplace. In fact, these qualities are not always “disabling.” In some cases, these issues, which I will group into the term “neurodiversity” for the sake of this reflection, can often be used as assets.

biodiversity wikipedia
From Wikipedia’s biodiversity entry

In my case, I have come to see my variable focus as an asset that has served me well in many situations. I hyper-focus on projects I find to be fascinating. I’m like a dog with a bone when I’m on the trail of something where I might find a solution. I don’t give up on it. I may even lose sleep thinking about it, though I’m trying to train my brain to wind down earlier in the evenings.

On the other hand, routine and monotonous tasks are kind of like my Kryptonite. If I cannot automate those tasks, I end up getting in trouble sometimes. Ordinary tasks like making my bed or cleaning my room were never easy for me.

Ask my poor mother, who would come to check my work, only to realize I had my nose stuck in a book, cheerfully oblivious to what she had asked me to do. I was not deliberately disobeying her. I simply uncovered a missing book during my cleaning session and had difficulty not picking it up…

When it comes down to it, those of us with hidden disabilities are so often defined by what we cannot do. What if we were defined by all of our other qualities? What if our kindness and concern for others were recognized as strengths? What if our ability to ask for help were rewarded?

If you have staff, how do you acknowledge people’s strengths? Do you help them select projects that can showcase their talents? Do you allow them room for growth instead of shutting them down when they make unconventional suggestions?

Neuro-diversity is just another form of biodiversity. And our earth thrives when both are honored and preserved.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

Throwback Thursday – Walking the labyrinth

This is an edited piece posted originally August of 2018. Now that I’ve arrived at a new position at the University, I realize that the assessment phase feels like a bit of a labyrinth. 

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After a morning appointment in St. Paul I decided to make a stop at the College of St. Catherine in order to walk the labyrinth.

labyrinth walk
Photo credit link – Meditate in a Labyrinth

Have you ever walked a labyrinth?  I considered taking a photo while there but I was without electronic devices on my walk, so I did not. However, I found a great article on how to meditate in a labyrinth, so I am cribbing a photo from that, and the link as well.

I used the walk as a meditative experience, starting from the outside and following the path toward the inside. Then I spent some time on the inside, taking a few deep breaths, and slowly walked back out again. I walked barefoot, and did not worry about the acorns that occasionally stabbed my feet. I did nudge away a few small branches that had fallen along the path to make it easier for the next person’s journey.

My intention was to reflect and consider the big changes happening in my life, the opportunities that are ahead, and any possible fears I was holding. It was a walking meditation, a slow and intentional trip back and forth through the “folds” of the labyrinth. It occurred to me how little I knew about meditation last time I had walked it a decade ago. Yet repeating it gave me sacred feeling both times.

labyrinth visual.JPG
Photo credit link – Fractal Enlightenment

As we traverse through life, our paths are rarely linear. Some of them meander and fold back on themselves. Some of them seem to go in spirals, and we wonder: Are we in the same place AGAIN? But really we are never in the same place twice. Even if an event seems similar, or we seem to repeat a mistake we have made before, we are not exactly the same people this time.

Our lived experiences give us a different context. This is why I love the work of Marion Woodman so much. She understands that many of us learn in a non-linear way. We forget things we have learned, or sometimes we must re-apply lesson we have learned, but in a different way, or in a different relationship.

Our learning and wisdom are never lost, even though it may seem like we did not absorb a lesson the first time. Maybe we are ready to learn in a new way. Maybe there was resistance the first time, and we were not ready to complete lesson. We receive multiple opportunities and invitations for our souls to expand and grow.

The journey inward allows us to check our soul’s intentions. The journey back outward allows us to live our ultimate purpose. This is the essence of a life well-lived.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Never too late to be what you might have been — Libre Paley (Saturday Share)

The recent death aged 93 of writer Andrea Camilleri, Italian author of the Inspector Montalbano novels, prompted me to consider writers that start (not simply finish but start) writing in older age. Aside from one early (at least commercially) unsuccessful publication, Camilleri did not start writing until he was almost 70, yet went on to […]

via Never too late to be what you might have been — Libre Paley

Saturday Share: Want to See a More Diverse WordPress Contributor Community? So Do We.

More diverse speakers at WordCamps means a more diverse community contributing to WordPress — and that results in better software for everyone.

via Want to See a More Diverse WordPress Contributor Community? So Do We. — The WordPress.com Blog

This struck me as really fascinating, so I wanted to put it out there for the Saturday share. It kinda goes along with my theme of wanting to see more women, and other under-represented people writing, whether it is people with disabilities, people of color or just people with diverse viewpoints.

This weekend I’m running Grandma’s Half Marathon in Duluth, MN. SO under-trained for this year! Oh well, it’s more about the ability to get together with friends and enjoy a fun event.  Happy official start to summer solstice!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Captain Marvel on a pineapple

I found myself with a rather odd disinclination to write on Wednesday. So I picked a strange observation and brought some curiosity to it. That’s always good for a idea; I wish I could be that swift when it comes to Toastmasters Table Topics!

I am fascinated with why the Dole company would pick Captain Marvel to advertise on a pineapple.

I guess another question is: why not?

I had not realized at first that Captain Marvel is a woman, until my husband and I went to the movie a few weeks ago, and I watched the trailer beforehand.

Captain Marvel on the pineapple

It reminded me of the Ted Talk I saw by Christopher Bell on needing more women superheroes as models rather than simply side-kicks and love interests, a notion with which I agree wholeheartedly.

So I did what any self-respecting internet user does when they do not know something: I googled it. It turns out that there is a campaign to honor healthy female superheroes, with specific health and wellness content. Who knew?

I just thought it was strange that we were handed a pineapple in the store at Leuken’s in Bemidji this past weekend, and it was discounted but not presented as something we could refuse. I do not normally buy pineapples – they seem a hassle to process.

We swim in tide of media that is controlled by 6 large corporations making 9 out of every 10 movies. This narrative-driven industry perpetuates myths and stereotypes about gender, which devalue the contributions of girls and women, selling them princesses while boys get the hero action figures. Is it any wonder that self-confidence plummets about the time girls reach adolescence?

The beauty of Captain Marvel is that she is unapologetic about her strengths and her power. She owns her power, and for me that is a joy to watch.  She swims against the tide. But hey, some of us are strong swimmers, and challenges make us resilient. Just something to keep in mind as we consider any voices of doubt in our heads and from whence they came: just about every cultural message we absorb every day.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com