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Shopping with the Elderly: Observations and Revelations

Have you ever been at the grocery store the day before a mild weather-related event (emphasis on mild)? Just recently, I went to the grocery store around 11am to pick up a few items for dinner when something startling occurred to me:

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That day, the entire grocery store was filled with the elderly; and I mean the very elderly. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the average age of the shoppers must have been around 120 years old (give or take a few years). I’m talking about REAL OLD, like the shriveled-up wheelchair raisin lady from Spongebob. For those who don’t know, this lady:

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I was only in the store for five minutes before this realization came to me. The old folks were everywhere, and to my amazement, they all knew each other.

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As I wandered from aisle to aisle, even more fascinating things emerged. The chatter among the customers remained consistent in topic, and the total number of topics covered was limited.

I’ve made a quick chart to show the topics covered by seniors in the grocery store:

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During the charade of grocery shopping, many thoughts came to me:

Why is the store so crowded right now? Why is everyone here older than time? Where are all the moderately old people (like ages 65-85)? 

Also, why do so many people have no concept of/consideration for the space around them?

EXHIBIT A:

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(Just kidding, I didn’t say any of that, but I sure wanted to.)

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Then it hit me: an above-average amount of rain was predicted in the forecast for the next day. This explained why all the elders were out in droves at 11am. They needed at least 24 hours to prepare for, you know, the rain. Nesting isn’t just a thing experienced by expectant mothers, you know.

By the time I made it to the check out, I was mystified. I felt like I had traveled to a land where the oldest of the old lived, and this was their grocery store. I walked among them, like some sort of ghoul of youth.

As if the morning couldn’t have gotten any more fascinating, I noticed that all the lines were long, but nobody seemed bothered by this in the slightest. Instead, it was a social event. There was lots to talk about and lots of people to talk with. Long lines simply meant more good conversation opportunities. Whilst waiting, I was able to very rapidly summarize the types of people in front of me. I will shamelessly describe them in a stereotypical fashion for you now:

In Line #1, we have Pauline. She’s 107 years old, and in the “10 items or less” line with 83 cans of Tuna in her cart,  and one container of OxiClean. After all of her items have been scanned, she decides that she needs 3 more cans of tuna, and proceeds to “hurry” back to find the aisle where the tuna lived. She’s gone for 15 minutes because she went down the wrong aisle 3 times, and she ran into her neighbor, Santiago (age: 104), who she already spent 20 minutes speaking with earlier that morning.

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In Line #2, we have Jack (130 years old) and his wife, Virginia (124 years old). They only have 3 items, but they’ve got roughly 400 coupons in a little plastic case. After sorting through which ones were applicable, and hearing the total, they decide they are going to write a check. Keep in mind, the total is $4.32. Virginia insists that she be the one to write the check because she has better handwriting, but alas, she cannot locate her glasses. (The glasses are on her head, but Jack realizes this, finds the mystery humorous, and decides not to inform her.) Jack writes the check and Virginia scolds him for his sloppy handwriting, which gives him another chuckle. They are at the register for a total of 23 minutes.

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In Line #3, we have Mary Anne. A delightfully social woman of 99 years of age, she’s been in the store for almost 4 hours because she won’t stop talking to every person she encounters. Despite being at the register, the cashier cannot finish the sale because Mary Anne is telling a long-winded story about her Grandson’s dog’s hernia. Also, the weather. Also, her own hernia. The cashier has transformed into an apathetic zombie, but Mary Anne doesn’t seem to notice or if she has noticed, she doesn’t give a hoot.

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And then there was me, wondering how I had found myself in this landscape of AARP, hip replacements, and Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal. A myriad of thoughts traipsed through my mind. The worst one, was this:

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With devastation, it occurred to me that I must have become elderly overnight, which would explain why I found myself meandering in the seascape of seniors – I had become one of them. I was no ghoul of youth, rather, this was a reverse type of situation where an elderly spirit was trapped inside of me. It all made so much sense. I was there too, picking up some essentials because it was going to rain and I don’t like driving in the rain because driving can be overstimulating for me and rain makes it even harder. I wanted to be home when it rained – with my soup and an intense dystopian novel. Nobody noticed that I was the only person under 95 because the spirit residing inside me is roughly 110.

After accepting my new reality, and paying for my food, my only exit was blocked by a large crowd of farewell conversations; one last goodbye before they all meet again probably tomorrow at the pharmacy or the audiologist. But I was trapped. There is and was only one solution for this type of problem:

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Note: never do this. Unless you’re an employee, then by all means, do this.

Shopping with people who were probably around during the time of the dinosaurs was both a thrilling and frustrating experience. I admire their dedication to shopping the sales and tenacity to staying alive. Also, their humor.

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So quirksters, the next time it’s raining (or going to rain), please head on over to your local food supplier and tell me if this phenomenon is nation-wide or just an isolated event. I need to know.

Xo your old friend, kelly

 

 

 

 

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How to Humiliate Yourself in Front of Attractive People in Public Spaces

Some days, you may ask yourself the following: can I somehow make this day worse on purpose?

The answer is yes, and I’m about to show you how you can create regrettable moments by using my own true story from my late adolescence as an example.


If you follow this blog, it’s no secret that I’ve had my share of bowel problems. I don’t know why I used to be ashamed of them. Everyone has bowels. Everyone eats. Everyone poops. I might imagine one could be embarrassed about pooping if you were the only person in the entire world who did it. That would make for awkward dinner conversation.

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Luckily, the tale I’m about to share happened quite a while ago, so I am a different person now and can safely recount this unfortunate adventure with confidence knowing that I no longer give a foof if these events happened to me today.

Many years ago, during a less-than-great time, I was experiencing some issues with my bowels. I needed some medicated intervention down south ASAP, so I decided to go to a nearby drugstore to retrieve the necessary items.

(NOTE: My car does not actually fly. It can only reach a maximum speed of 23 mph and the horn sound is similar to the vocalizations of a farm animal.)

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I chose to shop at this one specific drugstore because every time I had been there previously, there was always older women working behind the counter, and I could buy whatever products I needed and not feel weird about it.

As I wandered (painfully) through the florescent-lit space, I grabbed the things I needed:

-Fiber One Cookies

-Preparation H

-Miralax

And finally, as if matters weren’t unfortunate enough, I also had a raging period. So I bought two more items:

-Giant, overnight maxi pads with wings (These are basically fancy diapers, let’s be real here.)

-A bag of Reese’s (Don’t worry, the irony isn’t lost on me. But I figured the laxative powder would cancel out any of the constipation from the chocolate. See? I had everything sorted out.)

I headed to the counter to pay for my plethora of remedies, with a sense of calm reassurance flowing through my pores. My unfortunate situation was nearly just a memory.

I haphazardly placed all my crap on the counter. (Heads up: this is where the story turns regrettable.)

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Standing behind the counter were not any of the women I had seen there countless times before. Oh no. It was perhaps the most attractive-looking young man I had ever seen – or may ever see – in this life. Imagine for a moment the top (literally, the number one) male model in the world decided to quit modelling one day and work at your local drugstore for no reason. Imagine you went to that same drugstore the very next day and bought the most obvious constipation, hemorrhoid, menstruation products at the same time and slathered them shamelessly on the counter in front of him.

During those first few seconds, the situation looked like this:

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Within 4 seconds, the air between him and I changed.

Picture, if you will, his gorgeous face transforming into a state of primal fear because he’s new to this life and emotionally not able to handle the fact that women have bodies, and his awkwardness flows from him with more strength than you can bear. Imagine you suddenly become painfully aware of this cringe-fest, but have no choice but to tolerate it because you NEED those things on the counter. That, my friends, is what transpired. Him and I became trapped in the sacred space I call, the Zone of Discomfort.

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He scanned each item slowly, avoiding all eye contact with me. The realization that I was buying all these things at the same time appeared to traumatize him and subsequently, me. I figured the panic must have inhibited his motor skills to a certain degree because he was moving as if he were in some kind of nightmare.

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After a few brief moments of unbearable awkwardness, he managed to utter a total. His vocalizations barely reached my eardrums through the Zone of Discomfort. It’s thick fog created a terrible barrier.

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The fact is, this experience was so awkward because of the combination of events that happened to occur together. Like the perfect storm, this situation had all the right components for devastation: nineteen year-old me, nineteen year-old most attractive human on earth, and our unavoidable interaction involving products that suggested embarrassment and pain at the mere sight of the packaging. I did not utter a single word, yet, my basket of items screamed, “EVERYTHING NEAR MY BUM IS HURTING AND BLEEDING AND I’M DYING.”

After what felt like a century of nauseating levels of tension, I swiped my debit card and noped out of there with such velocity that Usain Bolt would’ve been left choking on my dust.

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Back safely in my car, I ripped open the bag of Reese’s to heal myself from the cringe-fest I just experienced. Luckily, I never saw the model employee again, and he probably was thankful he never saw me again either. We had bonded in the most unfortunate way. His heart and my heart were forever united for those few brief moments of unparalleled embarrassment. I feel a sort of kinship with him, but also, I pray our paths may never cross again.

What’s the moral lesson to be taken from this story? There is no moral lesson. If you want to humiliate yourself in front of attractive people in public spaces, I’m sure the story I described above will inspire you to cringe your way through life. I am proud of you – go forth and live your best life in the Zone of Discomfort.

Just some advice for everyone else: always use the self-check out.

xo kel

Halloween and How to Upset the Elderly

My favorite holiday is just around the corner: Halloween.

Witches, ghosts, candy, and people making bad decisions in horror movies; what’s not to love about the season of spooks?

Back when I was a spirited ten year-old, I spent my school days experiencing crippling anxiety brainstorming ideas for my Halloween costume using precise, statistical formulas:

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After careful meditation and self-reflection, I chose what my ten year-old self believed to be the most creative, hilarious costume yet: A CEREAL KILLER.

Yes, you read that correctly. CEREAL. It was like being a serial killer with less serial and more CEREAL.

This was set to be the best Halloween ever.

The Big Day

October 31st finally arrived after what seemed like several lifetimes. Preparing my cereal killer costume took a lot of preparation. I had to collect – and eat – numerous mini boxes of cereal. Then, I had to stab each of the boxes with a plastic knife and paint fake blood gushing from the wound. Finally, I taped each box to my clothes, and added some blood splatter on my face for mood enhancement, and then I was ready to go.

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Momsy liked the costume because it was cheap and easy. She simply had to buy the cereal, which I ate anyway. It was a win-win. Dad was also a fan because he liked simple yet humorous costumes. In fact, for several years in a row, my Dad was a leaf blower:

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As dusk emerged, I sprinted with my friends to the first house for some sugary gems.

However, after visiting a few houses, a pattern began to materialize. Whenever someone old answered the door, they appeared heavily distressed by my costume.

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Yet house after house of elderly folks, the reaction upon seeing my costume was the same. I became a bit dismayed. Young people, even those delightful middle-aged homeowners, seemed to enjoy my costume. But those elders….not so much. Was it the thought of their beloved Fiber One cereal being gruesomely murdered too much to bear?

New Beginnings

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Dad was right. I didn’t need the approval of wrinkly people to enjoy my Halloween festivities! Nay. My costume was funny and creative and definitely unique. If I was going to continue my trick-or-treating as a cereal killer, than darn it all, I was going to be the most terrifying cereal killer around. And I was going to do it with style.

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Moral of the story: always be true to yourself… especially if you’re a ten year-old cereal killer.

And to my senior friends: You better take good care of your fiber-filled breakfasts. I may be stopping by your house….for MURDERRRRRRRRRRRR.

bran-flakes

 

xo kelly

True Tales: Owl Encounter

It was just an ordinary Thursday evening, or so I thought.

I was up to one of my usual activities: sewing. (Note: I may or may not be a wrinkly old lady trapped inside the body of a super attractive young woman.)

In the middle of stitching away my emotional pain, I heard a ruckus from the other side of my house. (Well, my parent’s house. I don’t own a house. I have no money.)

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When you live in the wilderness as I do, you know that bird behavior is very indicative of the state of the environment. Meaning, if the birds are freaking out, something’s going on. And that something is usually a predator.

To my absolute and total delight, that predator happened to be an owl. A barred owl, in fact. If it wasn’t obvious from my owl hat that I’m really into flying creatures (especially owls) let it be known: I’m really into owls.

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The barred owl – the elusive animal that it is – is rarely seen, but often heard. They are known as the “who-cooks-for-you” owl, as their hoot sounds bizarre and more like a monkey on steroids than a majestic bird. Believe me though, this is a creature of pure elegance.

It was clear that the owl had arrived to reunite with me and connect spirits.

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Through years of practice and experience, I have essentially mastered the barred owl call. However, it is still a mystery as to why no owls flock to me when I perform the tune with perfection and grace.

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From what I could tell, the owl was really paying attention. His face said “focus and concentration.” He was into it.

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Suddenly, a bird flew from another dimension and BOOPED my owl friend right in the face!

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Though annoyed, the owl did not move from his branch. Instead, his expression changed from “mildly irritated” to “apathetic slow burn.”

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Meanwhile, I sprinted inside to grab my cheap pair of binoculars. If this was going to be an evening of  intense owl observation and possible spirit connection, I needed to be prepared.

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Just as I focused my lenses on the owl, it took off into the dense woods. My world, once warm and illuminated, was now dark and lifeless as Voldemort himself.

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Eternity passed – although admittedly it was only a few minutes –  before my owl friend reappeared. This time, he was on the opposite side of our backyard. I maneuvered my way closer in what could only be described as a “slow dash.” As in, I was trying to go as fast as possible while simultaneously moving at a snail’s pace, as to not frighten the owl. (In some cultures, I’m certain these same bodily movements are used to summon spirits and curses.)

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Momsy and Sister came outside to catch the action.

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In my mind, I pictured the moment to be intense, in a spiritual-enlightenment kind of way. It wasn’t like that though.

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A Few Days Later

A miracle was about to occur in my life and I was not emotionally prepared for it. Just a few days after my first owl encounter, I heard the familiar screech from the woods. I went outside with my binoculars, hoping to catch another glimpse.

I was not expecting what would happen next.

I spotted the owl on a low hanging branch. Suddenly, I heard an identical screech but from another tree! To my utter delight, two owls appeared on the branch together. My excitement was overwhelming.

Could this moment possibly get any better?!

As if the universe was hearing my informal plea, a THIRD owl made itself comfortable on the branch next to the others, who weren’t exactly happy to share the space. Nevertheless, it was a magical and remarkable moment for me. I have low standards for happiness.

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And that, quirksters, is the end of this story. Darkness overtook the sky, and I stood below a tree watching my winged friends until I could no longer see my own hand in front of my face.

It was a moment I will remember for a long time to come (but honestly will forget most of the details in a week).

xo kelly

 

 

SPD is not a “dubious diagnosis”

There I was, spending a quiet evening at home, munching diligently on some freshly-baked oatmeal cookies when my eyes scanned the internet headline “Why ‘Sensory Integration Disorder’ Is A Dubious Diagnosis.” The author of the article, Peter L. Heilbroner, MD, PhD, states that Sensory Processing Disorder (or Sensory Integration Disorder, as it’s also known) is not a real condition.

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As I began to violently shovel oatmeal cookies into my mouth, I read and re-read his article over and over. Below, I have written a counter-argument, because I believe Sensory Processing Disorder is real and those of us with SPD deserve advocacy. Since I am an adult with SPD, I will do the advocating!

 

His argument:

“Many children with autism have “sensory issues” such as oversensitivity to touch. Similar symptoms occur with other neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems (including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and anxiety disorders. However, the prevailing medical view is that “sensory symptoms” are a nonspecific indicator of neurodevelopmental immaturity rather than a distinct disorder. Such symptoms can also occur in children considered normal.”

My argument:

Yes, many children with autism do have sensory issues, as do children with various other neurological disorders. And yes, sensory issues can come about throughout early childhood as the brain is still developing and growing, and this is totally normal.

But, when children are struggling for long periods of time with basic sensory-related acts, it’s time to question whether or not that child is neurologically immature, or if there’s an actual problem with the child’s neurology that needs fixing.

 

His argument:

“Moreover, except in cases of autism, these sensory symptoms are virtually always outgrown. Do you know of any non-autistic adults with the type of “sensory problems” said to occur in SID? I work in the largest neurology group in my state. Although we see every conceivable neurological complaint, I have yet to hear from my colleagues of even one case of “SID” in an adult. In my experience, children who had been diagnosed with “SID” were overly anxious and come from a family that includes others who suffer from an anxiety disorder.”

My argument:

First thing’s first. Ok, I’ll admit it: those of us with SPD are usually very anxious people. But why are we so anxious? Oh yes, it’s because our sensory difficulties make ordinary life tasks difficult and anxiety producing. I know for myself, anxiety and sensory issues are two separate things, but SPD can make my anxiety worse, and anxiety can make my SPD worse. However, I rarely confuse the two – or smush them together as one – because their symptoms manifest very differently.

Second, just because you haven’t personally met an adult with a sensory disorder does not mean that these people do not exist. I’m telling you – there are thousands of adults with SPD, many of us are living with no diagnosis for various reasons. Some of us struggle so immensely with our SPD that we cannot live normal lives. Thanks to the internet, many adults have reached out for help and found support. They are startled to find that their symptoms are shockingly similar – not just regarding anxiety, but symptoms such as extremely poor coordination, or severe distress around bright lights, or the inability to wear certain fabrics, or feeling ill around certain odors. These people are not autistic, yet they suffer from severe sensory issues.

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His argument:

“Since few (if any) adult patients have SID, it is reasonable to question whether costly interventions are really necessary for what are most likely self-limiting problems of neurodevelopmental immaturity and anxiety.”

My argument:

Am I “neurodevelopmentally immature?” Gee, I hope not. I like to think of myself as “neurodevelopmentally unique or divergent.” The different wording makes it sound less like I’m to blame for my own neurological problems, and it gives me more hope that I can manage my life better.

Costly research and interventions have helped change the lives of millions of people with neurological disorders. Without research and treatment exploration, people living with conditions such as autism, epilepsy, PTSD and other disorders of the brain would still be receiving inappropriate treatment, or none at all.  Some of these conditions were completely misunderstood and stigmatized until science  – and humanity – caught up. I want the same to be said for Sensory Processing Disorder.

Here is a link to a recent study that found quantifiable differences in the brain structure of children with Sensory Processing Disorder. This is the first time science has found biological evidence of SPD:

Breakthrough Study Reveals Biological Basis for Sensory Processing Disorders in Kids

 

His bottomline:

“Most children develop and improve their behavior spontaneously. Since few (if any) adult patients have SID, it is reasonable to question whether costly interventions are really necessary for what are most likely self-limiting problems of neurodevelopmental immaturity and anxiety. Well-designed scientific studies are needed to determine whether or not SID is a definable disorder, and even if so, whether the treatments currently prescribed are effective or necessary. Until studies along these lines are conducted, the diagnosis of SID should prompt a healthy degree of skepticism. Working with a friendly and relaxed therapist can be calming to children. I believe that families with children with behavioral or anxiety disorders would be better off getting standard treatment than investing time and money in unproven approaches.”

My bottomline:

Don’t rush into investing time and money on treating sensory issues before you truly know if sensory issues are the problem. Anxiety treatment is not the same as sensory treatment, but treating anxiety can help a person with sensory issues. Visit an Occupational Therapist to see if what you’re experiencing is SPD or something else. It’s rarely a good idea to self-diagnose and treat. An OT will be able to provide a diagnosis and treatment plan specifically designed to help sort out sensory issues.

Most importantly, adults with Sensory Processing Disorder do exist, and SPD is definitely not a dubious diagnosis.

 

Here is the link to the article by Mr. Heilbroner if you wish to read it in full:  http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/sid.html

What are your thoughts on this topic?

-Kelly

The Day I Learned I Couldn’t Dance

 In other words, can my neurological condition take the blame for my lack of groove?

 

In a pathetic moment of hormonal-induced rage, my depressed, potato brain had created two options for itself:

1. run around and destroy local property and regret it later while in jail

2. find a sweet-ass dance video on youtube and dance my awful feelings into oblivion

Luckily for everyone, I selected option 2.

 

After throwing on some terrible pink shorts and a ugly maroon tank top, I was ready.

lord of the dance

Youtube provided a wide array of follow-along workout videos. I decided to watch the one with the most attractive, happy, and successful looking people. If I danced with them, I could become them. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right? They were led by her:

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Her name is Bipasha Basu; she’s a popular Indian actress with hair that flows and skin that glows.

At first, it was encouraging. All these attractive people dancing and exercising together to make themselves even more attractive. I too, was dancing with them. Bipahsa was talking to me; her incredible abs motivated me; her bronzed cleavage cheered me on.

 

It would be nice if my dance story ended here:

I danced into the sunset with Bipasha and the crew, as my mental health struggles melted away. Everyone was right – exercise does help!

 

Unfortunately, the story goes more like this:

Within approximately 7 minutes, I realized that I was not only struggling to dance along with Bipasha, but I was completely unable to dance at all.

As Bipasha and the rest of her gorgeous friends boogied effortlessly, I was unable to follow even the most basic dance instructions.

Literally, no exaggeration here:

me vs bipasha

To add to the incredibly low level of self worth I was experiencing, the dance moves became increasingly more difficult and soul-crushing – this one was referred to as the “sexy sway.” I’m not joking, look at the screen shot I took:

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I can assure you there was no swaying and there was definitely no sexiness on my end. If I had dance moves, they would probably be:

trex dance

SULTRY STUBBED TOE

ANXIETY

My dog Sam sat silently nearby, judging me. (Also, what a hypocrite! As if Sam can dance better than me! What’s his best dance move you ask? Probably the “Fantastic Fart.”)

JUDGING YOU

 

To add to the insanity, I danced in the privacy of my own bedroom, which is barely large enough to accommodate regular life activities, let alone dancing and dog lounging. Sam didn’t want to lay on my bed or in any surrounding area. No, he chose to sit right in the middle of my personal dance arena.

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What can only be described as some freaky, alien-esque aerobics, the experience left both me and the dog in a state of hyper confusion.

wave those arms!

 

Sam, not being the type to filter his facial expressions, or shower me with unconditional love as other dogs do, was clear about his opinion of me at the time.

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My only saving grace was in the few moments during the workout where Bipasha and the gang would march in place. I’ll have you all know that marching in place happens to be one of my special talents.

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so good at marching

 

As I marched in place (into the sunset), I became comfortable with the fact that I cannot dance along to any sort of choreography at this time. (It also occurred to me that I should probably see a neurologist because WTF something is WRONG.) 

Maybe one day, when my brain decides to get with the program, I will join in the ranks of Bipasha’s aerobic dance team/squad/army. Until then, I will march on….in place, obviously.

xo kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Restrooms: A Guide for the Sensory Sensitive

Picture this: you are out and about in this great, big world – away from the comfort and security of your own bathroom. Suddenly, it hits you.

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You gotta go.

Perhaps it was those two three cups of tea you had this morning. Maybe you ate a sandwich and afterwards, you remembered sandwiches give you tummy troubles. How unfortunate! Whatever the case may be, you know now that your destination is only one place: the public restroom.

Depending on where exactly you are, your public restroom experience will be either “pretty bad,”extremely bad” or,”oh lord have mercy on me.”

If you’re like me, most public restroom experiences fall into the “oh lord have mercy on me” category. This is because not only do public restrooms suck all faith in humanity from my soul, but they are also SENSORY-DANGEROUS SPACES. What constitutes a SENSORY-DANGEROUS SPACE, you ask?

sensory dangerous spaces chart

Luckily for you, I’ve spent my whole life figuring out the best way to deal with public restrooms as someone with Sensory Processing Disorder. I will now bestow upon you, dear friends, the skills and swift tricks I have mastered to survive these dreaded moments.

1. Know your options

Before heading to your death in a public restroom, stop and think. Do I know of a nearby restroom which offers a BETTER sensory experience? Can I make it there in time? If yes, go there. Always know your options before making a commitment.

Within my first week of college, I made myself into a restroom expert of sorts. In my mind I created a mental map of the entire campus and all its restrooms. Each one had a rating scale of how sensory-dangerous it was. I carefully calculated the time it would take me to run from one class, across campus to use the least sensory-dangerous restroom, and back to my next class without being late. (It’s actually really sad that I had to run through this anxiety-producing drill every day at school, but beggars can’t be choosers….or something like that.)

2. Use your tools

If you’re like me, you keep an arsenal of sensory tools with you at all times. For my particular sensory needs, this includes: ear plugs, bigger ear plugs, noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, and a Wilbarger brush.

Much like preparing for battle, one must gear up before heading to a public restroom. There is no shame in this!

3. Go during safe times

If it can be avoided, use the public restroom at times when you will likely be the only one in there. Just one other person can reak havoc upon your restroom experience. Tread carefully!

If it is impossible for you to use the restroom during slower times, then option three is a total waste of time. I’m sorry I even created this option.

4. All about technique

So you find yourself in the restroom with multiple people doing multiple things. I’m talking about hand dryers, hand washing, toilets flushing, doors slamming, kids screaming, people talking loudly on their phones (which by the way, has me all “WTF talk somewhere else”), and many more!

Your tools can only go so far. It’s not about the tools you have, rather, it’s how you use them. It’s time to explore the Techniques for Public Restroom Sensory Safety and Survival, or as I call it: TPRSSS, (pronounced “te-purrs”).

Technique 1: Wash ‘n Go

After you’ve done the business, it’s time to rid yourself of those pesky germs. But wait! Oh no! The restroom is crowded with people using those hand dryers that sound like commercial airliners taking off. For this technique, wash your hands and RUN. Dry on your own time – those hand dryers will wait for no one.

RUIN YOUR DAY

Technique 2: Be aware of your neighbors.

Are your fellow restroomers about to flush and unleash a windstorm of sudden, loud toilet sounds? Be prepared and mindful of your neighbors. Don’t let an unexpected flush or door slam set you off into panic mode.

Technique 3: The Cold Shoulder

In a moment of haste, you may have forgotten to wear hearing protection before entering the restroom. Fear not! In this situation, cover your ears and use your shoulder to take the place of one hand when that hand is in use. Observe the following diagram:

bathroom technique 1

Technique 4: Run, Forest, Run

Move quickly. You are a cheetah in the fast-lane. Slow and steady will not win the race for you when you’ve got sensory issues in the restroom.

Technique 5: Mental Stamina

Here’s the situation: you gotta go, but the restroom is crowded and way too overstimulating for you right now. But you’ve been here before. It’s time for you to use your mental powers to convince yourself that you really don’t have to go at all. Need to pee? Not anymore. Why? YOUR MIND TOLD YOU SO. This technique requires time and patience, but once mastered, it may be your saving grace in a desperate situation.

BRAIN POWERS ACTIVATE

In conclusion, restrooms are a sensory nightmare. But, with the right techniques, you CAN survive the experience.

As I lay awake at night, pondering the insanity that is life, I imagine a world where people with Sensory Processing Disorder can use public restrooms with ease. I dream of quieter toilets, and paper towels for hand drying, maybe even less fluorescent lighting! Let us end the reign of restroom misery!

One day I will enter a public restroom less like this:

bathroom fear

And more like THIS:

make way peasants

xo kelly

Got any other sensory-related restroom advice? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Infants sound like goats

Jolly good news, internet friends: as of October 2nd, I am an auntie!

The squishy bundle arrived early Friday morning, to greet and delight us with his tiny human-ness. His name is Liam, and here is a drawing I made after I first saw him:

burrito liam

The past several months have been a whirlwind of anxiety, laughter, and mostly anxiety while my family awaited his arrival. My younger sister, Shannon, was a cool pregnant person.

Many women develop strange eating habits during their pregnancy. My sister craved perhaps the strangest food combination: pickles and oreos. Yes, you heard it right. Often, the two foods would be consumed together. *shudders*

Months went by, often accompanied by Shannon’s hormonal rages and short bursts of loathing.

super preg

DESTROY THIS WATER

Five minutes later…

sorry i was terrible

KELLY WONT LOVE ME

After the baby arrived, I quickly became aware of the secrets of baby sounds. So mysterious, yet so informative they are! I’ve decided to use advanced scientific formulas and diagrams to show you, the people at home, exactly what baby noises really mean.

  1. Show me the poop

diaper cry

2. Not feeling it

dont feel like crying

3. Back in my day, I used to be comfy

body position cry

 

4. Is it time to panic? I’m panicking.

lost suction cry

5. A light, tropical breeze of sorts

special surprise cry

6. Whatever bro

funny sounds cry

 

7. Meanwhile, on the farm

goat cry

If those graphs don’t make sense, I honestly don’t know what does. I may have never produced more clear information in my life. The bottom line: newborn babies are squirmy little creatures and they often sound like goats. The sounds they make are varied and complex, like an ancient language. Perhaps someday in the future, the power of science can break down these cryptic coos to reveal extraordinary genius.

Does this not look like a genius to you?

liam bird

xo kelly

 

The Real Restroom Dilemma

Last summer, Momsy and I attended an Arts and Crafts Fair. After bopping around from one crafter to the next, we needed a bathroom pit stop. Luckily for us, there were actual bathrooms at this fair – not a porta potty in sight. Unfortunately for me, those bathrooms were very noisy, and included my least favorite thing ever: air-powered hand dryers.

At the bathroom building, I informed Momsy that I did not, in fact, have to pee.

I lied.

i lied

Was my bladder going to explode if the internal pressure was not released at that very moment? Probs not. But there was no way I was going into the noisy restroom.

I waited patiently outside for Momsy, watching women join the long line for the restrooms, then watching them exit after several minutes. The roar of the hand dryers, women talking, and the toilets flushing collided with the quieter sounds of the world outside as I stood baking in the bright sun, like a cookie.

Walking past me came a woman pushing another woman in a wheelchair. The woman in the wheelchair was missing her one leg below her knee. The pair were heading towards the restroom line.

Suddenly, a young volunteer working at the fair asked the woman, “are you headed to the bathrooms?

The woman in the wheelchair replied, “yes.”

The volunteer said, “oh, come this way, this the employee bathroom, but you can use it.”

The two women thanked her casually and followed her past a security gate and into another small building.

That moment resonated with me. The woman in the wheelchair was clearly disabled – anyone could see both the wheelchair and the fact that half her leg was not there. The volunteer did the right thing by trying to make life easier for her by accommodating her needs and allowing her to use a separate, less crowded bathroom.

I began to imagine if I had asked that same volunteer if I could also use the private bathroom. I envisioned myself explaining – in my awkward-while-trying-to-be-confident manner –  about my sensory processing disorder, and how the normal bathrooms were very uncomfortable – in this case, impossible – for me to use.

I could see her making that “ehhh” face, the one where she isn’t buying it, but she doesn’t want to look like an absolute idiot either. She responds with something along the lines of “well, you see, that bathroom is for employees only. I’m sorry but I don’t really work here. I’m just a volunteer, and I don’t think it would be allowed.”

the ehh face

If I was a true badass of disability equality and advocacy, I might say something along the lines of, “But I noticed you allowed that other disabled woman to use that restroom. I was hoping I could also be accommodated because of my special needs.”

Next, perhaps, she would create some kind of excuse for her decision, like “I allowed that woman to use the other restroom because her wheelchair would be too big for the regular restroom.”

OrI didn’t want her to have to wait on the long line.”

Or maybe even, “She is in a wheelchair so she has a disability. You are clearly a fully-functioning person because I cannot see any visible sign of a problem. So you cannot use the other bathroom because you are a liar and you are trying to mooch the system. SHAME….SHAAAAAAMMEE.”

Was there a small chance that this volunteer would allow me to use the private restroom after I politely explained my situation? Of course. But that small chance was probably very, very small. And for some reason, I would end up feeling guilty asking for this accommodation in the first place.

The whole moment made me think about every person with an invisible illness or disability or condition. Our lives are spent trying to make the best of a world that doesn’t seem too eager to accommodate our particular needs. Whether those needs are closer parking spaces, equal treatment in school or at work, or the need to use a different restroom when one is available.

As a teenager, I used to wear brightly colored earplugs to visually remind those around me about my condition (aside from using them for hearing protection, too). Without them, I’m certain most people would have completely forgotten about my severe sensitivity to sound and things would have been more miserable then they already were. I used to jokingly tell Momsy that I wished I was in a wheelchair because maybe then people would respect and understand my needs once they saw a visual sign of a problem. How sad is that?

Would it be tacky of me to walk around with a massive sign drapped over my shoulders, reading: PERSON WITH NEUROLOGICAL CONDITION. MAY REQUIRE SPECIAL SERVICES?

perosn with condition

I wish I didn’t have to feel that way, but that’s how much of our society thinks of differently-abled people, and that’s how desperate I am to make things easier.

As we left the arts and crafts fair that day, Momsy and I talked about it. I said, “What if a mother and her young, autistic son asked to use separate bathroom and were turned down, even after the mother explained her situation?” Momsy replied, “They would’ve had to use the regular restroom and the boy would’ve been very upset in there, and the mother would be frustrated and tired.”

I mumbled something like, “that’s not fair. Life sucks. Can we get ice cream?”

tps

And so we got ice cream, and I peed when we got home (in case you were concerned).

The Attic

Some people have stairs leading to their attic. Some people don’t even have an attic. Then there are some people, like my parents, who had a ladder leading up to the attic.

The attic; a strange, foreign land of trinkets from years past, balls of tangled Christmas lights, and deadly creatures. My childhood fascination with such a space overwhelmed me. In the rare moments when the attic door was opened and the ladder would reveal itself, my insides tingled anxiously. It was as if I was staring into the vast reaches of outer space; the universe in all its complexity and mystery lay just beyond the top of the ladder. Green slime oozed from the edges of the attic, surely an indication of some other-worldly experience.

attic 1

I was enamored with the attic. It was terrifying and amazing; it was terrifazing. Amazifying? Whatever. My youthful spirit longed to know of its secrets.

attic 2

Soon enough, that fated day arrived when I would experience the attic. Dad needed to retrieve something in a box up there, and I saw my golden opportunity. This is it, I thought to myself, this is your moment.

With my emotional security blanket (which I named Star) tied firmly around my neck like a cape, I began to ascend the ladder.

How I thought it was:

attic 3

How it really was:

attic 4

As the wind began to pick up, I tightened Star around me and secured my grip on the ladder. Nearly at the top, there was no telling what awaited me. The anticipation was overwhelming.

attic 5

attic 6

Alas! I had reached the surface to discover a world of boxes filled with junk I didn’t really care about, yet I was overjoyed to explore this new, vast wilderness.

attic 7

After what seemed like only a few minutes (probably because it only was a few minutes), I heard the call of my parents from the world below. It was time to descend the ladder and bid farewell to the new world.  As I crept near the opening from which I came, it occurred to me exactly how high up I was. The task ahead required me to turn and go down the ladder. Thanks to my sensory problem, this seemingly simple action became my equivalent of bungy jumping off the empire state building into a pit of blood-thirsty wolves.

attic 9

 

attic 10

With this revelation began a true anxiety meltdown in the four foot high space on the attic. No amount of coaxing or words of reassurance from my family below were alleviating my overwhelming panic. The prospect of having to go backwards down the ladder was truly disturbing and frightening to me. As an adult looking back on the situation, I agree with my childhood self for getting upset. This was a totally rational situation to meltdown over.

It was during mid-crisis in the attic when I realized that the attic was a slightly creepy place to be. Looking around, it became clear to me that there was plenty of potential for evil creatures to jump out of the darkness and swallow me whole. Above me, giant nails protruded through the ceiling, as if a monster was clawing at the house trying to get me. (I later realized these were nails which held the shingles in place.) But things got worse. The beams supporting the roof were covered in some sort of gross, sticky brown substance. A Christmas tree loomed in the corner, ready to attack me with holiday cheer. An old toy doll …well, let’s just say she was the new bride of Chuckie.

I wrapped my blanket, Star, around my head like a veil. It was my only ally and source of protection in this strange and dangerous land.

attic 8

The minutes passed as my family failed to convince me to climb back down the ladder. I became a incoherent blob. As far as I was concerned, I was never coming down. This would be where I’d spend the rest of my sorry little life. My fate hit me like a ton of bricks.

attic 11

Suddenly, Dad appeared at the top of the ladder. Again, I assured him I would not be making the descent back to the mortal world. He managed to convince me to hold onto him and close my eyes. He held me and climbed down the ladder; it was the scariest 3 seconds of my young life. I felt like Carol Anne as she was sucked away from the demons of the underworld in that movie, Poltergeist. I can’t believe we made it down alive. To be able to live among my earth family yet again was such a relief.

attic 12

To this day, climbing any kind of ladder disorients my body and mind. The fear takes me back to that fated day in the attic. Will I ever be able to conquer this body-ladder coordination conundrum? Only time will tell.

attic 13

Also, F.U. to my sensory problems. Struggling to stand on a basic 2-step ladder is super embarrassing and mildly inconvenient.

xo kelly