Category Archives: Travel

Big thoughts on a blank page

I miss your blog.
You should write more.
You have so much to say.

I need to hold onto those statements by friends and colleagues as I, as well as many others, get occasionally trapped thinking we are impostors. I see this happen to many of my artistic friends and it’s only when we allow ourselves to be authentic do we get to the places we need to go or the results we are seeking. There are so many people in the disability field with different voices, yet each of us has a different story unique to ourselves. Our triumphs, tribulations, strengths, flaws, and so many other pieces are what provides the whole picture. I get stuck in my head at times and as entertaining as it is there, it’s important for me to connect with others. It’s important to remind myself my flaws are part of my whole picture.

I do have something to say.
My voice can impact change.
The fact that I can’t fold my own laundry in a timely fashion has no impact on my ability to help others.

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For those of you who’ve seen this website before you may realize I’ve tweaked it a bit and will be doing some more soon. I’ve also been silent here because it’s taken time getting all my ducks in a row as my dreams are becoming a reality. This fall, I am beginning to offer movement classes for children and adults in the Southern Maine area. Although the intention is for these classes to geared towards the disability community, all are welcomed to attend. The dates, times, and signups will be on this site and my FaceBook page when they become public.

I’ve also begun the first baby steps of creating a non profit on this same area. The Way We Move, based on the title of the Fringe Show I created this past spring, will work to create accessible Movement and Arts programs, performances, and eventually an artistic vocational track. Although the base of operations will be in Maine, there is already interest in bringing this to Colorado, Chicago, and other places around the country.

Right now, I’m currently teach the 3 week Film Camp at S.P.E.A.K.S. for the third year in a row. It’s so wonderful here and the campers are all great. We have already filmed our commercials and this week are creating great group films on the theme of Nature. Some of these kids have been in the camp for all 3 years and to see how they have grown into themselves is wonderful. I was lucky enough to have an artistic mother who supported me and I’m so happy these campers can embrace the arts in their own ways.

Danger Double Standard

Last night my brother took the wrong bus. He’s never been on a bus and he got on the wrong one which took him to the other college campus instead of heading towards our apartment. I was very concerned about his safety and was worried about him until I heard he had gotten settled. I’m very protective of my brother!

As I write this I’m staying in my accommodations for the conference in what some may described as an “unsafe” area. To get to my motel, you leave the metropolitan area and head over a bridge. From there, continue on the main road past the pawn shops and cash advance stores. Continue on until you see a Burger King next to Wendy’s across from a strip mall. In the strip mall there is a Taco Bell, Arby’s, McDonald’s, Planned Parenthood, Plasma donation center, and a Subway. If you drive behind the strip mall, you will find the motel I’m in.

Now, I’m perfectly fine with these accommodations. I’m staying in a place with free parking, free breakfast, free wifi, and there are not noticeable stains or smells in the room. When going to conferences, the conference centers are often connected to giant mega hotels. One night at one of those hotels is more than my entire stay here, not including necessary things such as wifi and parking.

I’m not really a high-maintenance type of girl, if you haven’t been able to determine. So far on my travels I have slept on the floor and two separate couches. Falling asleep anywhere is one of my super powers. My other super power is the ability to untangle chords, which is extremely useful. It takes the simple things like a roof over my head and a warm bed to make me happy. Since tomorrow begins the conference, I’m going to get some rest. See some of you tomorrow!

I want to be social… but I’m not really social all the time

This weekend I went to preform at an amazing festival. It was filled with amazing and friendly people. I love these types of events, but after my Month of Autism (as July of this year shall now be known as) I was getting very quickly overwhelmed with people.

At the Autism events I went to, going up to someone and saying “nice bracelet” or exchanging random quotes from obscure movies can establish a friendship. When people were nice to my face,  I had no reason to believe they were not being nice behind my back. My hearing senses can get turned up and I heard people making snap judgements about me and my friends. Not cool.

Since I wanted to be social and had to take responsibility to pull myself out of a funk, I made up my mind to have fun. In my little cave of Brigid (also known as my tent) I regrouped, regulated, and headed out to socialize.

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I’ve talked about spinning, or flow arts, quite a bit lately and I don’t know if I’ve communicated it clearly. By finding spinning, I’ve found a part of myself. Even surrounded by people who I don’t know, it was comforting to be known as “The Fire-spinner”. I can spin things and relax in a way I’ve never done before. I had the opportunity to meet amazing fire spinners this weekend who elevate the art to a level I wish to one day achieve, and they complimented me on my spinning.

After a very stressful social encounter last month with someone who retracted a huge Autism leadership opportunity because I don’t fit in with their value system, I must admit I felt crushed. It caused me to doubt myself, my values, and my mission in life.

My mission is to spread happiness.

Spending some time surrounded by loving and friendly people, I realized I need to remember to love myself. The path I’ve walked is one that could only have been walked by me. It takes a lot out of me sometimes just to be me, but I’m proud of everything I’ve done. I can be social doing the things I love as long as I don’t let the negative people affect me. There will always be negative people around me, I just need to shrug it off.

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When people ask me how their child or adult can be social, I often want to talk directly to the person and not about them. All people have their own comfort bubble and for some people we like to talk about our special interests. My special interests are movies, autism, animals, and flow arts. I’ve talked to people who like dirt, cars, architecture, and very many different things.

Being social can sometimes be a challenge. It can be scary, intimidating, and very anxious. However, the rewards far outweigh the stress. I met a lot of amazing people and I am really excited to get to know my new friends even better and share our successes with each other.

Into the Woods

The month of July was a whirlwind. I spent time in New York, Ohio, Indiana, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and starting the month back in Maine. Literally, I drove into the state today. It was an intense month of personal growth and professional development. It will take me a few days to process everything with a clear head, but there were some important things I learned that I am able to convey now.

I realized I am a lot better under pressure than ever realized. When real life do or die things are going wrong, it is my default to take charge and delegate things that need to be done.

Sometimes it takes listening to a song when you are the only one on a long stretch of highway at 3am to realize why it speaks directly to your heart.

Men-folk are wonderful, but nothing I’ve ever known compares to the feeling of having women friends support each other and help each other each their personal best.

Driving 2,628 miles in 31 days is not my personal best, but I still managed to retain some sanity. (haha)

The world is bigger and scarier and more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

Gossip is horrible and can cost people their jobs. Even letting it happen in front of you and saying nothing can be just as hurtful to a person. If you really want to know something, go ask the person directly.

Friendships can be formed just by saying “Nice bracelet”. It’s the littlest things.

So to process all the things in a relaxing space, I’m running off to the woods of Maine. I’ll actually be spinning fire all weekend at an EDM festival, but it’ll be the perfect conclusion to this month of adventures.

I know it’s been said multiple times, but there are big things coming. I can see them on the horizon and soon everyone will be able to see them.

Reflections on Camp

I’ve been M.I.A. these past two weeks as I was working at the S.P.E.A.K.S. camp in Columbus Ohio. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had so far, but it was also very draining for me on a personal level.

I was the Film Instructor and helped the campers make and edit their own films. I also worked with the theater camp closely and made a ‘behind the scenes’ film for them. The videos they made were easy “how to” ones such as “how to make chocolate milk” or “how to go on a trip”. The editing process was a lot of fun and I learned everyone loves adding sound effects to movies. (Michael Bay, I’m looking at you.)

The reason why the camp was so difficult for me was, in a large part, due to my inexperience of teaching. I’ve always enjoyed helping people learn, but being actively involved in the learning process for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week is a lot of work for me. Some days, it was difficult just to get my TA, freelance, and graduate work done.

Despite the exhaustion, rewards of the camp far outweigh the energy loss. For me, having the campers ask me about the next movie we will make made my heart glow. Seeing them pose for pictures in front of the sets they painted themselves with such pride is a feeling I can’t describe. Hearing stories about these kids having behaviors and quitting other activities, yet they stayed for the entire two weeks in camp every day was really eye opening for me.

This was a camp run by Autistics for the disability population. We found ways to help support each other in self-regulating while helping solve some of the communication issues that will always come up while working at a camp. It was such an open and accepting environment. When someone would do something or get upset, we’d just let them know it’s fine and we ALL understand getting overwhelmed.

At a personal level, it took a couple of people saying things (sometimes repeatedly) to realize how far I have come in just a short year. I’ve been able to handle complicated and urgent crisis with a grace I never knew I had. Solving problems quickly and effectively while making sure everyone feels safe and taken care of is not something I think I could have done as well last year. It’s been eye opening to see where I am now and how much I have grown.

This also completely sets me up for my next two weeks. I’ll be getting a chance to talk about why art really matters and how it can help people communicate. Needless to say, the universe hand delivered some answers to me. As one parent said to me, their child learned more than just the film or theater skills we set out to teach.
They learned so much more.
Me too.

Everything In!

As I’m getting closer to leaving for my Midwest adventures, I’m getting more and more back into my groove. The funny thing is I never really had a groove to begin with, so this is quite entertaining.

On Tuesday morning (ish), I’ll begin my trek to Ohio where I’ll be teaching a short summer film camp. At this camp, the instructors are all on the autism spectrum and they will be teaching people on the spectrum. How amazing is that! I’m still a bit in shock that in less than 2 weeks I’m going to be an instructor. I’ll also be speaking at two Autism conferences before making my way back to Maine to spin fire, of course.

So the next few days Tuesday I’ll load up my car and relocate myself for a month.

I’m not sure how some people would react to this, uprooting their life and completely shifting everything for a month, but it’s not the worst thing in the world for me. The worst thing for me really is a 9-5 steady job doing the same thing every single day. So this is the adventure path I’m on.

I’m not afraid, except of all my plants dying in my absence, I’m actually very excited.

I’m on this career path and my biggest struggle is not to get too overwhelmed. I addition to all of my fun work related activities, I’m also still a full-time graduate student. In fact, I’m writing this blog instead of one of my papers.

I’m trying to get better at not swamping myself with work, but it is a learning process. It takes times and I need to learn to be more patient with myself. So the next few weeks I get to hermit myself away for a bit, when I’m not having lots of fun, and work on some big things.

Make sure to stay tuned for lots of awesome updates!

Trauma-Rama

Last week began my summer session. I headed off to Colorado to help out at the Autistic Global Initiative (AGI) retreat. AGI is a program part of the Autism Research Institute (ARI) run by autistic self-advocates to create dialogue and promote positive change in the world. When I went, I was an on deck leader to their youth program and was also going to help out with shuttling participants.

There was a theme to the retreat which is very special to me and the reason I was invited: Trauma and Survivorship.

I’ve spoken about and made allusions to different types of trauma on my blog so far. I’ve openly spoken about my head injury, which still can be difficult to talk about, and have also talked about some of the toxic relationships I’ve found myself in. So this past week I relived some of my trauma in order to get a better understanding of how I have healed.

It was an intense week for me because I had to expose a still vulnerable part of myself to better help others never have to go through what I have been through. If one person can get out of a negative relationship, learn to heal, or prevent trauma from happening the emotional toll will be worthwhile.

On Sunday, the last full day of the retreat was designed to the Youth Leaders. We had a facilitator come in to help create a visual representation of how trauma affects a person. I’ve attached the photograph below so you can get an idea how our conversations went. The AGI Youth Leaders are a diverse group with many different life experiences, but unfortunately we have some traumatic things in common. Although this project was specific to the Autism Community, many if not most of these feelings or reactions are universal to the human condition.

Visual Graph of Trauma from the AGI Youth Leaders, 2014. Photo by Chantal Sicile-Kira.

It was an amazing experience to participate in this Think Tank and there will be some amazing things to come out of our hard work. While at the retreat, we were also being filmed for a few video project relating to survivorship and sensory needs. This material, as well as a great art project designed by my amazing mother, will be put together into a Think Tank packet other groups can use to have their own conversations.

I’m also very proud to announce I was made an AGI partner after the retreat and will be working to help affect lots of positive change with the other partners. Although I will not have an active role in the work the Youth Leaders are doing related to the Think Tank work, I am so excited to see what these amazing self-advocates create. The world is ready for these young leaders to make their voices heard and I’m very happy AGI will be helping make their voices heard to a wider audience.

If you would like to find out more about AGI, please visit their website at http://www.autism.com/AGIFAQ where you can sign up for their free newsletter with lots of useful information.

Resting, Relaxing, Relationships

This week I needed a break from my hectic schedule so I ran away for a few days. I ran away to New York to visit some friends and I did get caught in the storm on the way back.

Resting and relaxing is not something really in my nature. I jokingly blame my mother for this. We come from a family of hard workers. “Days off” are not really a common occurrence in my life and it’s only very recently I’m working on building them into my schedule. This break was very much needed because I could feel myself getting worn out.

Relaxing is important to everyone and leading the type of life I do, it’s even more important. If I get too stressed, my Lyme acts up and I will get very sick very quickly. I’m talking about not being able to swallow liquids or solids serious. 48 hours of that and then I’m needing to get my nutrients from tubes. Luckily, I have a Prius and can travel quite a bit on not a lot of gas.

My last day of adventuring ended up with me leaving Vermont yesterday. I bid farewell to one of my best friends and knew I’d be seeing him again soon. Through the winter storm advisory, my little prius ventured back to Maine. The glow of spending good times with my friends helped to keep me safe as the snow drifted around me. The people I hung out with are some of my closest friends. They know some of my deep dark secrets and still want to be friends with me. That means a lot since some of my baggage does not say “Handle with care” as much as “Danger: Contents under pressure” or “Warning: Flammable”.

I’ll be the first to say I’m not the best at interpersonal relationships. It was the observations of one of my best friends that really drove the point home to me. Talking about yet another person who I once was close friends with who now dislikes me, she pointed out the theme of my life.

“You know Brigid, that happens a lot to you. Some of your closest friends once really disliked you and people who you once were best friends with now dislike you. People either like you or they don’t. There’s no real middle ground.”

I’ve heard this a lot. Like A LOT. Something about this really sunk into me this time. This past year I’ve distanced myself from some people who are working on their own baggage and the place they are in right now is toxic to me. Or the more accurate thing is to say the more I learned about them the more I decided I didn’t want to be close to them.

How do you deal with that?

I’m quick to socialize and quick to trust some people, but the more I learned about some people the more I learn they can’t be close to me. I can’t be friends with people who are not patient, who are emotionally volatile, or who won’t communicate about serious emotional issues with me. Those people are best kept at arms length from me because I care too much. I care about people who don’t hesitate to wound me or who really don’t care about me.

That being said, I am learning more and more who I do want to be involved in my life. It’s important to realize now everyone will like me, but there are people who love me for my flaws. The love of my friends and family helps when the world feels too heavy. We all have those days when things pile up on us like the snow accumulating outside my windows. But the snow must end and summer is just around the corner. Things take awhile, but I can rest soundly knowing my friends can help dig me out if I need a hang.

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“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” ― Dita Von Teese

Greetings from St Louie!

Last night I arrived in St. Louis to stay at a friend’s place and leave early this morning for the trip back to New England.

It’s nighttime and we are still in St. Louis at the City Museum.

Things for me don’t always go as planned. That’s life!

I’ve recently tried to let go with some of my stresses and enjoy the unplanned moments even more. Some of my favorite moments in life have been the ones I did not plan. These are the moments we share with friends and those moments which create friends. Most of my life has been a series of walking into the right door at the right time when I had no idea what was behind the door. I try my best to plan out some of the bigger things in life like my job and where I am living, but even these things are not always in my control.

So take a deep breath and try not to stress when things do not go the way you have planned. It is entirely possible the plan you thought was right for you is not the plan you are destined to have right now. We don’t always get to see what the universe has planned for us, but we do need to have a little faith in things.

Where will she be next?

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Brigid time to let you know where I’ll be going next.

If you are in the Ohio area and plan to attend the OCALI conference next week, you can find me at the Autism Global Initiative/ Autism Research Institute booth located at space 408 in the exhibition hall or you can find me just wandering around. 

*Hint when looking for me: Look for the tall redhead wearing a corset. *



For more information on the conference please check out the OCALI Conference website at http://conference.ocali.org/.

For more information on AGI/ARI please check out their website at http://www.autism.com/.

To see some of the courses I’ll be promoting check out the Houlton Institute programs at http://www.houltoninstitute.com/programs/.
I hear the Teaching Assistant is really wonderful for the programs.
*Hint: It’s me!*