Thursday, December 29, 2016

12-29-16-- Attentiveness

Well, after some rest, I can feel my brain getting back into gear. On good days.  Right now, I'm on one good day then one bad day then one good day.  Well, that's alright.  It's progress.  Still need more rest.

I also have my first goal of my post-quitting life.  One of the reasons I quit is because my mind is so busy that I can't love people appropriately.  But what is love?  I focused on this a bit, and discovered that the first step of loving anyone is attentiveness.  To really love someone is to give them our full attention, at least for a bit.

This is a real problem for me, since I have become so distracted.  My way of dealing with stress is to just avoid thinking about stressful things so long (until they all come crashing down on me in the middle of the night).  So no one got my focused attention for more than a few moments at a time.  I couldn't look anyone in the eye.  On my good days I'm getting better at this.  But I still have a long ways to go.

Here's my current to do list to achieving attentiveness:

  • Slow down.  Do less.  Be satisfied with doing less.

  • Allow myself to be bored.  See it as a discipline.

  • Practice meditation.  Live with my thoughts, not allowing myself to be distracted.

  • Instead of reading the darting fishes of internet posts, I should read books. Novels when I'm not doing well.  Non fiction when I'm able to.

  • Stop and pay attention to what's around me.  Notice not only the flowers, but the construction, the people walking by.  Wonder about them all.

  • Get enough rest so my mind is able to focus.  

  • Reduce caffeine so my mind can rest sometimes. 

  • Take time for myself.  I find if I get alone and take photos or write notes of my thoughts, then I'll be better able to relate to others later.

  • When I have to work, focus on work.  Apologize to people that I can't focus on them like I want to.

  • Focus on one person at a time.  Try not to multitask multiple people.

  • When I am listening to someone, occasionally let them know what I've heard so they know I'm paying attention.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

12-1-16-- Anger

Last night my daughter and I had a knock-down drag-out fight.  Verbally, of course.  This morning we apologized to each other.  The fight is my responsibility.  I'm the grown up (in theory).

But I've been angry a lot.  I believe that I have good reason to be.

  • People whom I helped and sacrificed for years betrayed me and my work by oppressing people on my (former) property, forcing me to shut down.
  • A local church is doing outreach on my (former) church property, to undermine all that I was doing.  
  • The neighbors have been complaining and trying to undermine our work for years, and they finally succeeded.
  • Two cities I've been working with have been endangering homeless people's lives by sweeping them without giving them a place to go, but out of the cities.  Yet they still claim to be helping these same people.
  • One city had me arrested for protesting their actions.
  • The other city constantly threatens my friends.
  • People have been gossiping about me.  I confronted one and that person turned around to gossip even more about me and my people.
  • I have to pack up and move out, giving my hard work to someone else, and I have to stay away.
  • The solutions for my folks on the street are as far away as they ever were.
Okay, pretty good reasons.  But why am I so furious now?  And if these are the reasons, why am I taking it out on my family?

Well, I'm not sure.  But these are some possibilities:

-I pushed my anger aside for the last year and now it's all coming out

-I am going through a grieving process from losing my two-decade old work and this is the stage I'm going through.

-I am in depression from my drug withdrawals (adrenaline) and part of this is anger.

-I am overwhelmed by people and so I'm likely to explode at anyone.

Or some combination thereof. 

I really think my best option at this point is to find a bunker and hide there for a year until the feels go away.  But more realistically, I will need to keep living at a lower stress level and to keep reminding myself that it isn't the person in front of me I'm upset at.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

11-20-16-- Anxiety

Two years ago, when I first saw a psychologist, I said, truthfully, that I am afraid of very little.  This makes sense.  Working with the folks I do, I have to have a boldness that most people don't have.  I have to be willing to take chances that most people aren't willing to take.  And I have to be willing to set aside worries and concerns that would overwhelm me.

I have had periods of time in which I lost sleep because of someone's suffering, because of children on the street.  But I'd say that the big difference between me today and me last year is that anxiety is an everyday event.

Just going to the Red Barn right now makes me sick to my stomach.  The idea of having to meet people makes me nauseous.  It used to be that I couldn't sleep if someone (like a television) is on.  Now I can't sleep unless I have a podcast droning in my ear all night, because if I wake up, I will start worrying and it will keep me awake all night.  If I focus my mind on the subject of, say, a movie review, I can get back to sleep at two in the morning.

I would be able to laugh off conflict and rejection.  Heck, at times in my life I thrived when someone insulted me or threatened my life.  I was overjoyed to be arrested earlier this year.  Now I find myself avoiding conflict.  I have headaches because I have people yelling at me or disgusted with me.  I find myself lapsing into occasional cowardice.

And I wonder if this is the main reason I need to quit, besides it just being my time.  My body can no longer deal with the everyday stresses, stories of suffering, and even everyday conflict.  I have had too much persecution, too much rejection, too much suffering for righteousness sake.

I feel as if my whole life the world has been chipping away at me to help me become the image of Jesus.  Unfortunately, they kept on chipping.  And they always get one side wrong.  I'll never make that image.  Sigh.  The world just isn't a great artist, I guess.

I feel smaller than I used to be.  I suppose that's a good thing.  Teaches us dependence on God, right?  Teaches us humility.

Yep.  But that also means that I am able to do less. I can't accomplish a fraction of what I used to.  And that makes me guilty. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

11-19-16-- Depression

Last year, I wrote about the cycle of adrenaline highs and withdrawals.  Right after that time, I pushed myself into the biggest high of my life.  I started a camp, in opposition to the city's wishes, I protested against another city and got arrested, I helped set up protest camps, I participated in protests, I participated in camp moves and I saved lives.  All excellent, important, even essential work.  It's been a great year.  But I knew it couldn't last.  I would reach the end of my adrenaline being effective, and I would have to slow down.  And when I slowed down, I would go through drug withdrawals, and head into a deep depression.

Withdrawals in my case aren't as bad as withdrawals from heroin or meth.  I get nausea, lack of sleep, difficulty breathing, no energy and severe depression.

So I saw a couple doctors to see what they could do to slow down this process.  Last year, I tried anti-depressants, in the past, I tried testosterone.  But these weren't good answers for me.  Now I'm quitting so I'm heading down a deep, dark spiral of depression.

As is often said, depression isn't about sadness, but a severe lack of energy and a lack of interest in anything.  It puts a veil of darkness over everything, so everything looks unworthy, even disgusting.  The things I could endure are completely unacceptable now.

Because of my slight autism, people, all people, are overwhelming, and I just want to escape.  I have no patience for anyone and the slightest thing can make me upset.   I have many days that I just want to hide under the covers and not come out.

My depression will end. It won't last forever.

But because this depression is associated with a long-term adrenal overload, it might take years to get out of it, even if I don't activate my adrenaline overmuch.  But the chances of me not attending a protest, moving a camp in danger or confronting city workers again are slight.  That's the kind of stuff that will give me that high again.

And then I'll have to start the withdrawals all over again.

Friday, November 18, 2016

11-18-16-- Spiritual Emptiness

When I last met with my spiritual director, she told me that she felt that I was heading into a Dark Night of the Soul.

This is a period of people's lives described in detail by St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross in which a person feels distant from God and doesn't experience the spiritual in their lives.  St. Theresa of Calcutta spent most of her life doing work without a spiritual connection.  It isn't that they believe that God doesn't exist or doubt the existence of the spiritual world.  It is that they cannot connect to it, no matter what they do, no matter how much they do the "right" thing.

I have always had a sense of God leading.  And I felt the same thing a number of weeks ago when my Voice told me to quit.  Since then, nothing.

Stupid prophetic spiritual director.  

I believe in the efficacy of prayer, but not my own prayer.  I have no confidence that my prayers will be heard.  

There is one thing that the Holy Spirit-- God's power to answer prayer-- gives, which is love.  God will grant love to all who ask.  It may take time, but it will happen.  Those who are filled with the Spirit are filled with compassion and mercy.  Those who are in tune with God has their heart flooded with the love of God for those around them who do not deserve it.

I prayed for love.  For years.  I got nothing.

It isn't that I think God answering prayers.  God granted finances when (or just after) we needed it.  God provided help not only for us but for those whom we helped.  God's resources were never-ending.  But the most important prayer, the pursuit of love, the opportunity to feel compassion, not just to give lip service to it.  In this area God failed me. 

Yes, failed.  I really believe that God has a responsibility to give love to those who seek it.  There are many "Christians" who just offer excuses and don't pursue love at all.  They are more interested in karma than mercy.  I don't think they are really pursuing God.  Because God is love, and those who love God are those who benefit those who don't deserve it because that's what God does. 

And my love is like the filthy water at the bottom of a bath drain.  There's nothing left, and what is there is diluted.  God is supposed to open up the flood of water again.  But there's nothing.  And I'm filthy. 

I asked my spiritual director, who went through a period of the dark night of the soul, how one gets out.  Do we pray?  Do we meditate?  Do we seek God?

She said, "You can do that if you want.  But it doesn't work. Do what gives you spiritual comfort.  But in the end, you will feel a desire to get back into spiritual disciplines.  And that's when you will be ready to connect with God again." 

I hate to have people ask me to pray for them right now.  I've got nothing to give.  Someone asked me, "How does a person find God?"  I answered, "I wish I knew." 

I'm living in a Bergman film.  Black and white, and God is distant.  And Death seems like a pretty nice guy.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

11-17-16-- Why I am a Failure

Okay, everyone, slow down!  You two folks need to not be so quick to criticize my titles!

Yes, I understand that I have done a lot of good these past 22 years.  I haven't been a failure all that time.  But I feel like a failure now.  Here's some reasons:

1. I have to quit leadership of the organization I started
As if I'm no good at leading what I started.  Well, some might claim that was always true.  I certainly know some neighbors of Red Barn who think that way. But I think they consider my work good only if I got rid of all homeless people.  That's the only condition under which they will stop complaining, anyway.

But I've led this for 22 years, come up with a lot of ideas and now I'm done.  That just sucks, and I feel horrible about it.  I feel like I've given up on everyone.

St. Francis got fired from the organization he started as well.  What a loser.

2. I nurtured the person who betrayed me
The situation that really overwhelmed me to the breaking point is having a person distribute meth on the property.  This is a person I worked with, prayed for, tried to heal spiritually and emotionally, providing housing and work and finances for.  Worked with to get him on disability.  Fought for.  And he betrays me and the work by distributing the one thing he knows I hate and is a terrible tool of oppression.  He manipulated the situation because he knew what I would do and what I wouldn't do.  And he lied to me repeatedly.

Jesus also supported and discipled his betrayer.  What a failure.

3. The help for the homeless has to reduce
I have fed and provided for the homeless for decades.  Now that will have to reduce.  People will have to figure out their own locations to move, figure out where they will get their own food.  Of course, self-sustenance is always a better answer for the poor all around the world than dependence. My work has always been with an eye to productivity and self-sustenance and helping the homeless take hold of their own solutions.

But this happens through having a place to be, a center of reduced stress so they can create their own solutions.  Now that will happen without me.  I have to move on.

Just like Paul, when he was persecuted, left every town he started a church in and gave the leadership to others.  He had to leave so quickly that sometimes he didn't know who the leaders were!  What a git.

4. I lose my friends
I have always been there.  I have always been available.  I was there every week, even when I was exhausted, even when others had holidays, I didn't.  I was faithful.  Now I don't know who I will see or what will happen.  But one thing for sure, if I am going to heal I need to reduce the number of people I connect with.  Hopefully this will only be for a short time.  But possibly not. I might leave and not come back.  And it will be my choice.  I didn't have a stroke, I didn't collapse in my work.  I didn't die. I am just gone.

I am a failure as a friend.  I am a failure as a person who has always been there.

5. I am not a saint
Like St. Therese of the Infant Jesus, I chose to follow the path of the saint.  I gave away everything I had, I surrendered my job, my home.  I gladly worked with people who disdained me.  I took all the persecution and suffering.  Unfortunately, unlike St. Therese, I didn't die young.  The longer you pursue sainthood, the harder it is to maintain.  Saintliness-- loving your enemy, loving the poor, improving other people's lives but not your own, being wise for everyone but yourself-- takes it's toll over time.  Frankly, it can't be sustained.  If you want to be a saint, be a martyr as well.  Or be sickly.  I'd give a life of saintliness about ten years.  Mind you, that's about the time that you learn some wisdom in your path of saintliness.  For the first ten years you're all gusto and power and looking down your nose at Christians who aren't as saintly as you.  For the second ten years you start to feel the cost and work on burnout.  By the time you reach twenty years (and that's pretty good) you either learn balance or quit.  I never did learn balance.

Jesus had three years of being a saint.  I just learned that in MLK Jr.'s civil rights movement, they gave each person five years of intense work and then recommended that they live a normal life.  Paul ended his life of missionary work in anxiety and feeling rejected by everyone.  Elijah ended his life of prophethood begging for death. Let's face it, sainthood isn't for anyone in the long term.

I really thought I could reach the distance.  Instead, I am bitter and angry and ready to quit.    I prayed to die.  I prayed for a stroke (my wife thinks that this is horrible-- why should she have to take care of me for the rest of my life because I'm tired?)  I have lost the love and passion that drove me on for years.

Yes, we opened a house for the homeless and had dozens of people living here.  Yes, we had a center for the homeless and helped perhaps a thousand people.  And we did all this without asking for funds, depending on God and prayer. Yes, I was a peacemaker for years.  Yes, I loved people whom no one else loved.  But in the end, I couldn't sustain it.

Dammit.  I'm human.  And that really pisses me off.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

11-16-16-- Reasons I'm Quitting

Remember what I said in the last episode of our story.  "The real reason I'm quitting is because my Voice is telling me to."  So below are the less-than-real reasons.  This sounds totally like too much information.  But people around me will list these as the "real" reasons and my Voice as a convenience.  Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

1. Because I am an enemy to the cities I've worked in
Not so much Portland, they are still willing to work with me, but Gresham is really tired of me.  I've been involved in protests in Gresham (which they are not used to) for the homeless, I've organized camps which they don't want, I've confronted their leaders and I've just been successful in winning a trial they held against me.  But most importantly, they believe that I personally am the reason that homeless people still exist in Gresham.  It's not true.  It's the economy of Gresham that causes homelessness.  I help the homeless.  But I guess the city of Gresham isn't too good at cause-and-effect.

Because Gresham dislikes me, I am a target.  They watch what I do and what I am establishing.  Occasionally they take pictures of my Facebook page to find out what's going on. Sounds paranoid, but I've seen their pics. I know that my work at the Red Barn is often targeted and many leaders in Gresham would love to see the Red Barn fold, because I'm helping the "wrong" people. The code department has sent dozens of violation notice over the last couple years and is finally charging us a thousand dollars. So if the work among the homeless is to grow, perhaps it should be done by someone else.  I need to step away and let others do it.

2. Because the Red Barn is compromised
I found out recently that someone is using my church site as a distribution center for meth.

Now, meth is an evil, evil drug.  It causes schizophrenia, making people see and hear what isn't there, but they believe it is real. This person I helped for years and gave him great opportunities, took advantage of those opportunities to give meth to others.  I'll talk more about this later.

The real reason is that I can't figure out how to solve this issue quickly.  Every time I look to the police, or the city, they give me more delays, more limitations to solving this problem.  Possibly, if I stepped away and closed Red Barn permanently, then they would take care of the issue, because it wouldn't be for my church, but for the neighborhood.

3. Because I am Overwhelmed
I am depressed, anxious, and furious.  I can't think well enough to come up with new workable solutions, which has always been my strength in the work.  I am older than I was and it is really time for someone else to take over.

4. Because I struggle to Love
Having the Voice tell me to quit is fine, but I wish that this were the real reason I was quitting.  I can serve food, I can organize volunteers, I can preach a sermon, I can move a camp,  I can give wisdom (on good days).  But I cannot look someone in the eye, let alone care for them.  I can't listen to normal people, let alone difficult people.  If I cannot love, then I should quit this work and figure out how to love.  Because it's all about loving people, caring for them, benefiting them in ways they and I never expected.  But I can't do that right now.  I'm a love cripple.

Jon Forman would say that we are all amateurs at love, but right now, it's worse than that.  I am interested in keeping the ball rolling, but I honestly don't care.  I've done retreats, I've done meditation, I've done prayer, I've done everything we are supposed to do.  It's just not coming back. 

I sound like Barry Manilow singing Tryin' To Get the Feeling.  I'm sorry to put that song in your head.  What?  You've never heard it?  Here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

11-15-16-- Processing Part 1

Okay, let's just get it over with:

I'm going to quit the career I had for 22 years.

Whew.  That's a relief to say it.  I'm sure both of you reading this are shocked.

Sure, it's a personal milestone, but is there a reason to write a bunch of blog posts about it?  Well, there is for me. I am having many horrible emotional experiences right now, I need to process and figure out what is going on in me.  I am having a hard time writing anything, and I can't take pleasure in the things I would have.  I am struggling to get up and do anything. I am at my wit's end, in that I cannot come up with solutions, which has always been my strength.  And I feel that if I figure out my head, sort out my emotions, perhaps I can make some positive steps.

Also, my "job" (so to speak, as I never got an official salary) has a lot of folks dependent on me and the organization work I do.  This will leave them out in the wind.  This also has me conflicted.

Just to let you know, I am seeing a psychologist, but I can only see him once every few weeks, so I figure I'll spend some time writing to help me know what to do.

For those reading this who have worked with me and it is close to the date I wrote it, this will be a surprise, as I haven't announced my "early retirement".  This writing is part of the process I have to go through in order to write my announcement helpfully.  I'm not giving up on helping homeless people completely, but if I am going to do this correctly, I will need to get a job to, you know, pay bill and such.  So my ability to help will be limited.

I'm not going to limit my writing on this blog.  I need to process, so I'm going for the nation-wide trip.  This will get boring sometimes.  So if you're reading this for entertainment... well, perhaps you'd better re-think that.  If some student of abnormal psychology is assigned this portion of the blog, all I can do is apologize.


Speaking of abnormal psychology, let's talk about my spirituality.

There is only one reason I'm quitting.  Because the voice that told me to start is telling me to quit.  All other reasons I have aren't that big of a deal.  I've had depression and opposition and difficulties for years.

But when I started this work among the homeless, it was because of  a prayer.  I prayed that God would help me work with the poor and not just talk about the poor.

When I quit my job to work full time with the homeless and to have a planned period of homelessness (couch surfing) myself, it was because my Voice told me to.

When I started a church, it was because my Voice told me to, after the church that supported us kicked us out.

Earlier this year, that same Voice told me to rest.  To stop the work, to read, to take it easy.

And a number of weeks ago, that same Voice told me to quit.

In every case, I didn't obey the Voice right away.  I checked with my wife.  I checked with some other counselors I had.  And all agreed that the Voice was correct.

So while I'll be talking about a number of reasons why I am quitting, in reality, it is only one reason: the Voice in my head told me to.

I will call that Voice God.  You may call it something else.  Some deep-seeded logic.  A portion of my brain.  A spiritual being that is something other than God.   Whatever.  All I know is that it is the Voice that I am welcome to question and test and delay, but in the end I obey it.  Because of the Voice I have taken chances that most people wouldn't take and my life is richer for it, and I'd like to think that others' lives are as well.  

And that Voice is telling me to quit.  And I have a number of reasons why that's probably for the best.
I'll go over those in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hard Rain

Rain once fell softly on this town
But now drives hard and harsh:
Flooding, drowning those without roofs,
Their souls shipwrecked against
Rocky hearts.
Rain once fell softly on this town.
Now long-buried corpses
Float down the trafficked boulevard.
All-seeing eyes glance aside
Rain once fell softly on this town.
Every time I look high
My lungs fill with blackish fluid
My arms outstretched, crying,

Staring at a Departed Friend

Wicked corpse, Abomination!
How dare you gaze with your eye
Without the soul I so cherish?
I could touch your fishy flesh
But honest contact is stolen.
I nod to your spirit’s rest-bliss
But I will not, cannot forget
The oppression this world gains
At your absence.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Last night I woke up gasping.

I dreamed that every creature, every plant, every speck of water on the planet was alive.  Not just alive, but could see.  The world was filled with eyes, billions, trillions of eyes.  And with every step I made with my Danner boots, with every inch I drove with my truck, with every deep breath I took to be fully alive, I crushed those eyes.  Hundreds, thousands of them are dead with each act of life I undertook.

I would dig up a tree and thoughtlessly I would destroy an ecosystem, a measure of millions.  I prepare ground for a garden and I cannot help but kill the quiet creatures that gave that patch life.  I grow my food, I build my life, I eat and thrive only on a pyramid of death.

I live by the forced sacrifice of all other creatures.  Meat is the least of it.  All I do is death.  My very existence is a horror waiting to happen to the small. The tinier the life, the more likely I will kill it thoughtlessly.

I believe it is time for me to feed, not murder.

9-13-2016-- Autism and the Catch-22

Both of my adult children are on the autistic spectrum, enough that is inhibits them from living a normal, everyday life.  I have confidence that that they will get past this swamp they are currently in, and find a good place for their talents in society.  It may just take them a while.

Their spectrum disorder is unique to each of them.  One of my kids is a fast thinker, a pacer, while the other is smart but slow, and lethargic. Both have extreme social anxieties.

It is interesting to note that autism moves genetically through the male line, like one's sex.  This doesn't mean that a father has autism, only that the genetic code is located in his genes and is passed on to his children.  This means that somewhere deep in my genetic code the specific bits and bytes of autism rest in my genes.

Once we looked at it, my wife instantly recognized that I was also on the spectrum, just not to the same degree as my children.  I have strange social anxieties, I get overwhelmed by people and when pushed too far I am explosive, verbally.

In the past, someone pushing me too far in an argument would cause me to explode.  But lately it is overwork that builds up my stress until a small trigger will cause me to collapse.  Stress can also cause me to wipe away part of my function, such as memory or finishing simple tasks (like closing a car door).

The answer is simple: don't work too hard.   Yep.  No problem.

Except for me.  I feel that I need to work because my work is saving people's lives.  If I don't work, people die.  Pretty simple equation.

But if I work too hard, then I lose the volunteers I have because I am too explosive.

What I'd really like to do is find someone else to do this work, to take my place   That way, I know the work is done, even differently than I would do it, and I could seek a life of balance.

I don't think that I can find someone to take over my organization, though.  I'm not sure.  I set it up in a weird way, to accommodate my social anxieties and personal issues.

Honestly, I feel trapped.  That I can't morally quit, but I can't morally continue, either.  I do overwork.  And I do explode.  But the thought of quitting gives me shivers.  I don't know which I fear more.

I don't know if I said this before, but I daydream about being paralyzed, or about having a stroke.  So I can be rendered incapable, and the choice is taken away from me.  I no longer have to work, and the lives lost cannot be my fault.  That's the only way I see out of this place I've trapped myself.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


A friend of mine just told me, "I do what I can."  I realize that I do much more than I can.

This isn't a good thing.

To do what we can means we have balance in our lives, we help as we are able.

To do more than we can means that we choose to love some with our whole hearts, physically and emotionally, while we neglect or are actively hurting others.

I need to learn to have more balance, to achieve enough rest so that I can love everyone, without exception.

In my case, this means that I have to have fewer people to love.  I am overwhelmed by trying to love everyone I meet or know, especially because so many people are drowning.  If I try to save everyone, I will just drown with them, the overwhelming need of the world drags me down.

I haven't been trying to save everyone.  But I've been trying to help too many.

I do this because I am frustrated with a church community, a neighborhood, a city that simply doesn't care for large groups of people they should care for.  I will stand in for them, to save people from death, as I can.

But everyone has to have a break.  Everyone has to have a limit.  I use up my energy like I do my bank account.  I figure I still got money in the bank, so I should use it up.

But this means that when I get home, my wife, my housemates, I have no love left for them.  My energy is depleted and I don't have anything left to give because I gave it all.

I need to force myself to be balanced so I have enough energy and love for those I am responsible for.  I can help others, and I must.  But not too much.

Whatever that looks like. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Some Basic Information about Autism

I got studying autism because two of my kids are diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum.  And I made some interesting discoveries about myself on the way.  I want to take some time to tell you a bit about autism.  I'm pretty sure you'll learn something.  I know I learned a lot.

Autism is a spectrum
Most of us have heard that autism is a spectrum.  But we usually think about it in an inaccurate way.  A blog by an autistic man I saw put it ingeniously this way:
This is how I usually thought about the autism spectrum.  That it is a range that you can be high or low on.  Some people have autism real bad, and others have it not so bad.  But I was wrong.

Autism is actually more like a prism, with different aspects.  Each person who has autism has it differently.  Some may seem socially great, but they might have other issues that make them autistic.  Certainly some autistic folks are more functioning in our society than others.  Sometimes that's because the autism is particularly bad, but just as often because the autistic person was not given the opportunity to learn to function past their disability.

Autism is not understood
When I was in high school, I took a job-training program and I decided to assist a school that taught autistic kids.  When a kid was really out of control, a teacher would roughly treat the child and even hit them.  I was stunned and approached her, saying that this treatment wasn't right.  She pulled a text about teaching autistic kids off the shelf, and had me read a few paragraphs.  Sure enough, right there, in this official training manual, it mentions physically and verbally attacking the child so they could pay attention and learn.  That was not an occupation I wanted to pursue, that's for sure.

Education of autistic kids are remarkably different now, and I suspect many teachers of autistic kids in the 80s didn't use that approach.  But there are many families that don't understand that their kid is on the spectrum, that they aren't just ignoring you or that computers are the only way they can communicate.

Autism is an extreme experience of the world 
Adults now feel abused by families that had no idea how to care for their kid.  They didn't know how to deal with the screaming or what seemed like attacks.  They had no idea that their kid saw all their interactions as if they were turned up to 11, as if someone had taken the world and turned the saturation knob up to high. 

For a lot of autistic people, this is what their life is like:

(To get the full effect, put your headphones on and put it on a normal volume level for you)

So to give the autistic kid or adult more stimulation is the wrong approach.  They need a gentler approach, and space to rest and to figure out their way through the world.

Autism can't be cured, but a person can learn to function, to make their own unique way through the world.

Characteristics of  Adult Autism
A broad list of autistic characteristics is quite long, and ranges through the whole of a person's life.  In adults, some main indicators of autism might be:
-Few friendships
-Difficulty in understanding non-verbal cues
-Strong resistance to change
-Difficulty processing new sensory experiences
-Difficulty in romantic connection
-Struggles with empathy
-Repetitive behaviors
-Short attention span
-Focused preoccupations, obsessions
(taken from Udemy Blog)

I feel horrible that we weren't able to discover my two kids' diagnosis until after high school. I am glad that we homeschooled them until high school, though because they were able to function better in that setting than in school, where they both had terrible difficulties.

Genetic aspect
Another curious aspect of autism is that the gene that triggers autism is passed only through the male. This doesn't mean that a man with autistic children has autism, but it would be in his family line, somewhere.  The other curious aspect of the autism gene is that two people in the same family could have the autistic gene, but autism would look very different in even siblings that have autism.  The gene might be the same, but the way the gene reacts is remarkably different for each person.

So think of the prism spectrum illustration above.  Each autistic person might have 12 different characteristics, but the application of those characteristics, and the seriousness of each characteristic would be different for each person.  Autism may not ever be found if a person has found their place in society, and their autistic characteristics would be seen as "quirks" or the person seen as "eccentric."  

All of this is fascinating, I'm sure, to you, but it also applies to me, so I'll be talking about some things I learned about myself next time.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Devon loved to play the recorder. In fact, he never stopped. All day, all night, he played with joy, spreading his happiness to everyone. The god Zeus, after pursuing a nymph all night, was awakened by Devon's playing a bit too early in the morning. Zeus turned Devon into a kitschy art decoration all over the world, and his flute was never heard from again.
Later in the afternoon, when Zeus woke up, he had no recollection of ever doing this.

Monday, July 11, 2016


She always enjoyed standing on the shore of the river, dusk encompassing the landscape, while she watched the fish drowning.


"I am the king! I am the king!"
"Would you please just shut up."
"Only if you let me be king!"
"Fine, fine, whatever. Just be quiet"

Life is Full of Love

Life and love find us where we look for it. 
If all we see if death and bitterness, then we'll find that. 
I'd rather see a half-truth world filled with people trying to love 
than a half-truth world filled with people who are selfish.


Today he turns twelve. His mind is full of questions:
"What is the disability I am unaware of that will cripple my life?
Who will I make miserable because I live with them?
Do I weep because I am sad, or am I sad because I weep?
Is Ronald McDonald really trying to destroy me?"
It wasn't a good day.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lessons I Have Learned (2013)

Nothing great happens without sacrifice

Great relationships happen with patience and forgiveness (on both sides).  If you cut off the people who irritate you, you will be very lonely and miserable.

We all have a serious problem or addiction in our lives.  We need to recognize it as a problem and try to keep it from hurting others.

If you want to change the world, you will hurt those around you.  Really consider if the sacrifices you make them pay are worth it.

Generally, you aren’t important enough for others to talk about.  Don’t fret about what others say, they are probably saying nothing.

The more you want something, the more you strive for it.  The more you strive, the less likely you’ll get it.  Give it time.

You may not think you need balance in your life.  You do.  Listen to those who went your path before you who had to learn about balance the hard way.

The only people who don’t need balance are those who die young.

The more you practice something, the more natural it becomes.  Practice kindness now so you don’t become a nasty old person.

You’ll never accomplish anything unless you do something different than those around you.

Listen to Ms. Frizzle: "Take chances.  Make mistakes.  Get messy."

Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 31 2016

I'm sorry if any of you feel I just write this diary to whine.  I am using this diary to process what I'm going through in trying to quit my adrenaline addiction into a life of balance, and there's a lot of negative stuff I might share.  I won't slam anybody else, if I can help it, but my frustrations will certainly come out.  Please be patient with me.

If you want me to be funny, go on my Facebook timeline.  I'm funny half the time there. :)

Today, my frustrations have to do with the kind of work I do.  I just want to help the homeless, to build community, to establish a safe place for them.  But there have been threats and complaints from every side.  The church we share the facility with want to keep animals and sleeping out of the church building so that the sanctuary can be kept "holy."  We let them know that "holiness" for us is loving and that welcoming those with dogs they can't put anywhere else and offering sleep for those in danger and having no place to sleep is how we practice holiness.  That doesn't matter to them.

Nor does it matter to the denomination who owns the property.  They want us to disallow sleeping and to disallow animals in the building, and I said that I cannot act as a police officer for arbitrary rules.  If someone is coming from the hospital and needs a place to sleep, I will give it to them.  If someone with a baby needs a place to sleep I will give it to them.  Even if it means that I lose use of the property.

That sounds pretty harsh of me, from one side.  Narrow minded, at least.  After all, I'm threatening the use of the building for hundreds for the sake of a few.  But from my perspective, they are forcing me to be the person who James and John said not to be.  They say that to display my faith, my love of God, I have to take what I have and offer it to the person who needs it.  Perhaps I don't own the property, but no one else is there.  Why shouldn't they sleep overnight in the warm instead of being sick or having their baby outside in the cold, where they are in danger of their lives?

Of course, there's the neighbor across the street who is constantly complaining to the city and the code department who threaten us with fines and the police department who blames me for all the poor in Gresham, or so I hear.

I see the managing of a building to be a great burden, perhaps one that I cannot bear.  Perhaps it is time for my church to give up use of the building as long as people are requiring that I follow rules that I should not follow.  Perhaps I should just find ways to support the poor otherwise.  Managing this building for the last five years has been great for the homeless community.  And it really has caused me to grow, as well as causing my health to fail.

But I am interested in following Jesus.  I am interested in obeying love, not rules.  If saving people's lives is against the law, against the rules of the church, then I will break those rules.  If helping the sick and an infant is against the law, then throw me in jail.  If the denomination wants to cast out three congregations from a place to worship, and hundreds of homeless from their home that they have slept on, worked on and grown food on, I don't see that as my responsibility.  I must follow the dictates of the Spirit who tells me to love.



Friday, January 22, 2016

January 22, 2016-- Relapse and Withdrawl

So for years I've been functioning on a combination of adrenaline and testosterone.  I accomplished things that normal human beings can't typically accomplish-- forming a community from the homeless, establishing eight churches, counselling thousands of people in severe trauma in their lives.  But I am just a normal human being, but I was able to tap into a deeper well of adrenaline than most people do to accomplish more difficult tasks.

This is commonly known as drug addiction.  Sure, it's a drug that my body creates itself (although I used testosterone to enhance it for a number of years), but its still a drug.  And my body uses it like a drug.

So the last couple months have been a tremendous amount of work.  I needed to establish a new system of support for the overnight shelters, and fast, for wind, ice and snow hit our region early.  I both opened up more day shelters, which I usually ran myself, and pulled in people to organize night shelters, because in my undrugged state, I couldn't do it anymore.

Then I visited a new homeless camp, where about fifty people were going to be thrown out in the middle of the worst weather of the year.  At that moment, I reached into my deeper well of adrenaline and found greater reserves in order to help these folks.  I helped them create an organization, I worked with the mayors office and now they have a new camp, organized and settled peacefully.

I spent two months in this higher adrenaline state. Then I got sick.
It was just a cold, but my immune system was down from my drugged state and from spending a lot of time in the cold and wet (being outside a lot and because one of my house heat source was broken).  The cold turned into bronchitis, and I got really sick.  

So I had to slow down and rest.  This caused my adrenaline to reduce.  Which caused my body to go through withdrawals.

I'm a drug addict, and like any drug addict, I have to recognize that going back on my drug has consequences.  I feel good about the work I accomplished.  But now, I'm sick with headaches and coughing (for a month) and exhaustion.  It's the cost of doing too much, of going back on the adrenaline.  I'm okay with that, although the people around me may not be.

Again, the goal is balance.  The last two months I had no balance.  I need to return to the old pattern.  I'll get there. Winters working with the homeless are always going to be hard, though.  I will have a hard time not to go back to using adrenaline in order to save lives.  Frankly, the temporary cost to my body is worth the work I did.