Lead With Your Heart

heart art background“What is the top advice you would give to younger generations?” I asked Joanne, a retired teacher who did her own share of shaking the system over the years. She was now facing end-of-life type decisions, and while a recent injury had her down, she wasn’t out, and the spark in her eyes in response to my question reminded me of this.

“Lead with your heart,” she said without hesitation. “And I mean lead. I use that word on purpose. Lead.” She explained that “following” one’s heart could create a frustrating situation of never reaching one’s desires. Instead, listen to what makes your heart sing, and then actively go for it. And while you are at it, you might find yourself leading others along the way. Joanne is one of those accidental leaders who make a difference in the world by making their own way.

The creation of personalized education programs, has been series of heart-lead projects, and I have often had people say that they couldn’t do the same thing. They have ideas of what they want, and try to follow paths to reach their goals, but they didn’t realize that leading sometimes means forging your own tools and cutting your path.

When my team and I sat down apply for accreditation for one of those programs, we overshot the mark in what was required because we were diverging from the norm. We were the freaks. The deviants. And six years later? We were the standard. As we worked through the reaccreditation process, we saw the new standards aligning to ideas that were considered radical and even confusing only six years ago.

I’ll went to the iNacol conference as a representative of a school who has been doing the “new” stuff for awhile. Instead of being complacent as the current standard, I wanted to see what more we could do to lead toward continued growth for students.

I would like to hear from you. What’s in your heart? Do you have any suggestions, or struggles that could be addressed in education?


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Aspies Don’t Lack Empathy – Just the Opposite

Art work by Aegis Mario S. Nevado

Art work by Aegis Mario S. Nevado

A common trait that people associate with Asperger’s is the lack of empathy.  This misconception could be due to “normal people” lacking the ability to empathize with Aspies.  Chew on that irony for a moment.

First let me give you two sources who can explain this idea better than I, and then I will give you a glimpse into my own brain.

This has been an emotional topic for me. I am neurodivergent, and my world is rich with sensory perception sensitivity, compounded by forms of synesthesia and living as an empath. Sometimes I feel so much that I have to brace myself. It’s not just my own emotional and physical feelings, but those of others. If I care about the person, it’s intensified, but even a stranger’s emotions can touch me. And I mean touch me — where I am feeling the joy or anger or – sometimes – physical sensations that are supposed to stay put inside of that other individual. Add in synesthesia, and my eyes can strain from the changing lights that surround each person.

If I ground myself against the emotions, or motion with my hands as if to push away the feelings, I can come across as uncaring. Sometimes I have to the leave the room, regroup, and come back prepared for what I am walking into.  And sometimes I even feel anger and hurt at being assaulted by that other person pushing his or her emotions onto me, worse when there’s a demand that I only listen and “take it” instead of letting me try to fix it, to eliminate the source or to heal the person so we can both stop hurting.  However, sometimes it is important that the person go through that whole process, and it also isn’t always my place to “fix” anything.  Luckily there is a way I can meet this need without such harm to myself.

When allowed to be who I am and to use the strategies available to me, I can be my most powerful self – the self who is loving, nurturing, mentoring, healing, and creating.  It just needs to be on my terms, and – with the help of others able to empathize with me – I am learning what those are.  For example, I have honored some requests by parents to advocate for their student in a public school, and this usually involves sitting in a room with emotions running high from the teachers, parents, and especially the student, making sure everyone’s feelings and needs have been heard and understood. I can calmly direct that conversation with a balance of using empathy to guide me but, as far as people in the room can see, a gentle but solid power. They don’t know I’m trembling inside as I take each blow. If I weren’t allowed to put on my armor beforehand, I wouldn’t be successful.

A former boyfriend once described it this way. He sat across a table from me as he expressed anger, and then apologized when he realized he had been mistaken – a fact I knew the whole exasperating time as I tried to “just listen” to him, as he insisted, instead of eliminating the source of his hurt, which I finally did by saying a single sentence.  He described my demeanor during it all as calmly keeping multiple swords sheathed at my belt – a power kept in check. What he didn’t realize was that those were swords I kept collecting from him, sheathing them one by one in an effort to keep us both from being hurt. Either he was going to let me get a word in edge-wise or I was going to (figuratively) whack him over the head with the next one that came my way. Which pretty much describes our breakup.

I’m a messy empath, but I have learned much. The relationship noted above about killed me but served as the catalyst for me to become stronger and a better partner for my current relationships – all of which are a source of loving support and inspire me to be a better person. They are self-aware individuals who value the same traits that befuddle neurotypicals. It finally occurred to me that I had to be picky when it came to dating (and shouldn’t everybody do this for themselves?).  For me, I realized that I can only be that intimate with somebody who is highly capable of empathy, and I was more likely to find that among other neurodivergents. Including Aspies.



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She let go ~ poem by Reverend Safire Rose

She let go.

Without a thought or a word, she let go. She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all the memories that held her back.
She let go of all the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Standing on the Side of Compassion, Love, & Logic

Jonathan Lovingly Taketh His Leave of David by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Jonathan Lovingly Taketh His Leave of David by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Watching the discussions, hearing concerns expressed, and I am often asked for details on why I land where I do regarding Marriage Equality.  Here are some points to consider:

Marriage being 1 man, 1 woman, and a “2000 year tradition”: In this country, this has been the legal status only since the mid 19th century. Many immigrants, and many people indigenous to this continent, were in marriages of more than two partners — usually polygamy.  Perspectives of homosexuality varied depending on the culture/religion of a particular group. And if you want to go back before this country, even before 2000 years, check out Ancient Greece — a society upon which many of our laws and values are founded.

Bible saying sodomy is a sin:  1) Most of the world isn’t Christian. 2) This form of sexual relations is not exclusive to homosexuals.  3) If the couple is Christian and believes this is a sin? Just like it is not the only option available to heterosexual couples, sexual intimacy can come in many forms for homosexual couples. Use your imagination.

Bible saying it is an abomination: 1) See #1 of above.  2) Go back to the earliest interpretations of Leviticus and you find different meanings.  Leviticus seems to be OCD — a don’t mix your peas with your mashed potatoes type of guy (thanks Cass for that analogy).  Leviticus is also adamant that you don’t wear clothes of mixed fibers. Now go check the tags in your wardrobe. The only thing clear about that passage is saying that you just don’t have relations the same way or in the same place — not that the relations themselves are a problem (those extra words such as “abomination” were added later by those wanting to force a particular interpretation).  Oh, and there’s even debate as to whether or not the passage was even talking about sex. Really.

Slippery slopes: 1) You do realize that this is a logical fallacy? 2) Marrying a fellow human being who is a consenting adult will not lead to marrying inanimate objects or other living creatures unable to give their consent — any more than current allowances to marry have already done.  3) Will marriage rights for same sex couples cause us to then reestablish legal rights to polyamorous relationships? This moves us from slippery slope to begging the question: does that matter?

Women having the right to own property (and thus not be destitute from a divorce); people being able to marry within their race; people allowed to marry outside of their ancestral ethnicity; and now people marrying partners of the same sex…. it appears that we continue to expand rights and freedoms with regard to marriage and could very likely continue to do so.

Marriage can have two parts: the legal contract, and a personal/spiritual/romantic component.  A marriage can exist with only one of either of these parts.  Atheists marry, people of many religious beliefs marry, and they might even use a word other than marriage, but marriage is happening regardless of the access to the legal contract portion.

So, with all of the above in mind, and even setting aside the emotional arguments, the only thing we are doing by *not* having marriage equality is telling one couple they can enjoy the benefit of certain details of their contract, while not allowing another couple access to the same benefits and protections from their contract.  The limitations are based on the sex of the contract partner, and as such is a form of sexual discrimination.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding marriage equality. We cannot be sure on how they will rule, but even if they do not decide now to extend rights at a federal level, this will likely happen within the next generation or two.  Surveys are showing that over half of Americans favor marriage equality, and 80 percent of adults under 30 are fine with it, meaning their children will likely not see a problem with it either.  Unless something catastrophic happens, it is not a question of “if” but of “when.”


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