Motorcycle Fun

This weekend, Midwest Cafe Racing Association had an event at Gateway Motorsports Park just outside of St. Louis.  Hubby and I participated in the Test the Track part of the event on Saturday.  Riders run the track once in the morning and once in the afternoon in a private session. This group is chaperoned, speed restricted with a no-passing rule.  There is an experienced track guide as the lead bike and this person shows a good line through the curves.

The morning ride started out slow, even slower than I liked, but gradually increased in speed.  By the time we were done, we were going a perfect speed for me, but still too slow for hubby and our friends.  It seemed like the time flew by and suddenly it was time to quit the track.

The afternoon ride started out a bit more aggressive than where we left off on the morning ride.  By about the third lap there was a large gap between me and the bike ahead of me.  Hubby was behind me with camera rolling.  That was a good thing too, because it helped me to understand visually what I was doing wrong.  While riding, I could not figure out why I was going so wide at the end of a curve and everything I did to try to correct it just made it worse.  I think that it may be because I am not strong in math, especially geometry.  By the end of the afternoon session, I was ready to be off that track.  But I was also a little disappointed that I wouldn’t have a chance to immediately apply what I learned while we were discussing it right after the ride – and after viewing the video that evening.

All in all, it was a pretty fun day. Until the ride home – that is.  It started to sprinkle so we hightailed it out of there, only to meet the oncoming storm head on.  Of course, we did not don our rain gear that was safely packed in the trunk.  Here is a video of my drenched socks!

Here is a picture of my bike right after it passed track inspection.

Ninja 300 at Gateway Motorsports Park
Ninja 300 at Gateway Motorsports Park

Know Thy Self

You would think that this would be easy for the vast majority of people.  Who could know us any better?  After all, we have access to all of our own thoughts, fears, desires, etc – like no other person does.  So why do I have such a hard time knowing myself (like so many other people)?  In early May, I went through a period of “funk.”  I wrote about it, which helps me to analyze myself and hopefully learn from it so that I can improve my interactions with important people in my life.

I have vague ideas on what my needs are, but I’m still not quite sure, or at least not sure how to recognize when they’re not being met and use good interpersonal skills to increase chances of them being met in the future.  And if I’m not sure, how can my hubby be sure?  During my “funk” I could not determine specifically why I was feeling that way.  I wanted to understand myself better so that I could make a plan for getting my emotional needs better met – at home AND at work (which was NOT happening).

In psychology, some people are referred to as “chameleons.”  This entails being someone that you think others feel you should be.  I think that is me.  Deep down, I’m terrified of rejection.  If I reveal that I’m irritated, sad, weak, or in disagreement – you’ll leave me.  That might be a bit too strong for most of my relationships, but I believe there may at least be a temporary withdrawal and the potential for further withdrawing each time I reveal these parts of myself.  So I pretend to be happy – or at least happier than I really feel, motivated (mostly regarding my work situation), and agreeable – to some extent.  And when I do express discontent, I minimize it or state it in a vague way.

A blogger I frequently read challenges her readers to think about things they like and don’t like, in an effort to get to know their “self” better.  In my relationships, I like (in no order): conversation, being made aware of my importance (recognition), being involved in activities together (doesn’t even matter WHAT activities), being accepted for my quirks – but encouraged – not criticized regarding them, and feeling loved (deep hugs, tender caresses, nice snuggling with legs intertwined).  I don’t like: being criticized, lack of recognition for my efforts, being guilted or pressured into something, being the only housekeeper, being the primary parent by a vast margin (I’m ok being primary by a smaller margin), refusal of participation in my recreational ideas.  I’m sure there’s more for me in each category, but these are the ones that come to mind with minimal thought.

Now, back to my being in a funk recently.  I bolded a few statements above that may have contributed to my funk.  Hubby and I have been in the process of learning to know ourselves and each other better.  In the day-to-day grind there may be several days where a couple may not have much content for discussion, and that was happening at the time.  And there also may not be much opportunity for doing activities together, yep – applied to that time frame.  Then you have to add in that I’m still learning how to trust my instincts about how another person feels and to discuss difficult feelings / topics to get clarification & understanding.  Mash that mess up with tiny critical statements (even if not really meant to be critical – because we all know that I feel criticism where none was intended) and continual frustration on the job – and you get ME in a funk!

I am learning how to communicate more clearly about my feelings and needs.  I hesitate to discuss them because sometimes I’m not really clear on them myself.  So during my funk, I implied to hubby that I was feeling off.  He took it as feeling off physically and I didn’t correct his assumption because I didn’t know HOW to correct it.  Shortly after that we were experiencing a stressful incident together and it became clear that I had not sufficiently communicated my mood.  A couple of days later we both had the opportunity to work from home and it was a light work day for both of us.  Even though we didn’t devote the whole day to gazing into each others eyes – we were able to reconnect without interference from kids and minimal interference from work.  And then we followed it up with a nice motorcycle ride and motorcycle gear shopping for youngest son.

Writing about the event helped me to organize my thoughts, analyze my feelings, and formulate a plan for how to cope better in the future.  I has also helped me to build my confidence in myself.

Manipulation

/məˈnipyəˌlāt/

Merriam Webster says that manipulation is “to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.”

My 12 year old son loves to manipulate me.  My husband is very aware of this, but I have not been a believer until yesterday.  I think that my mom saying that my son was manipulating me is what turned me into a full believer.  I was describing our horrible Tuesday morning when she observed that he was likely manipulating me.

Tuesday morning:

  • 12 yr old usually gets woken up by me at 6:20ish AM, but I needed to get him up at 6 AM.  A mere 20 minutes early.  Son whines and had several prompts to get busy doing his morning routine.  After it took 20 minutes to traverse from his bedroom to the kitchen to feed the cats, I lost it when he said, “I can’t.”  So I let him know that he lost his electronics for the day.  There were raised voices on both sides, him accusing me of hating him, him claiming that he was about to feed the cats, him wondering why he lost his electronics, and me telling him to just get dressed.  I really try not to raise my voice, but this kid is trying my patience lately.
  • We were finally able to make it into the car, where he proceeded to whine about having to go to a “program” for the summer.  Then he tells me more about the kid who is picking on him and telling him that he might as well just kill himself.  He’s in full meltdown mode now and wonders why I don’t care enough to help him.  But I think that in his mind, that help is in the form of me turning the car around and letting him play on his computer all day.  In my mind, I am helping him by taking him to his psychologist so that he can learn how to cope with life’s disappointments (like bullies and dealing with consequences grownups give him due to his behavior).  In a recent therapy session he indicated that he wouldn’t mind dying, but that he didn’t want to hurt himself.  I DO NOT want to be the parent that people talk about and say, “Well, why didn’t his mother help him?  Why didn’t she see that things were getting so bad and admit him to a hospital?”  Etc. etc. etc.  So I contacted hubby to get his opinion.  I was nearly ready to take this kid to the hospital and admit him (took him once before but they did not admit him).
  • Ultimately, I think that hubby made a really good call and urged me to take son to his program, tell the facilitator the name of the boy who has been bullying him, and request that the bully’s parents be notified.  The facilitators counciled the bully and plan to keep the two boys separated.

Back to manipulation.  I need to learn more about this, so as to be better prepared to defend against this evil tactic.  WebMD has an article regarding teens manipulating their parents.  I do believe I was victim of #2. Lying (his telling me that the kids were no longer picking on him), #3. Retaliation (he does NOT like to have his electronics taken away and retaliated by playing the innocent victim), 4. Emotional blackmail (we are ruining his life by limiting electronics time and making him go to his summer program, and why would I send him to a place where the people hurt him and EVERYONE hates him).

Tuesday evening my son sincerely apologized for his behavior from the morning.  He said that most of what he said was true, that he was being picked on and that a kid did tell him he should kill himself, but that he exaggerated because he was mad about needing to get up early and then losing his electronics.

Now that I recognize that he is manipulative and have a confession of sorts from him, I hope that I will be better able to cut him off at the pass when he tries this with me again.

Autism Abilities in the Workplace

This is an article I wrote for a Diversity newsletter at work.  I mainly wrote this article because I have a 9 yr old boy with Asperger’s and he will eventually be in the workforce.  Being employed by a large corporation with many “engineering types” – it is likely that there are some with these difficulties.  My company strives to have an inclusive and diverse workforce and I am glad to help!

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Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Bi-polar, OCD, etc., etc., etc.  Each of these labels are applied to people with a wide variety of abilities and behaviors.  Many individuals with these labels are in the workforce.  In fact, companies such as SAP and Freddie Mac are heavily recruiting autistic individuals, even current college students.   This article will define Autism / Asperger’s (ASD), identify strengths applicable to the workplace, and provide information about their difficulties associated with being in the work force.

ASD Defined:

From DSM5.org ASD Fact Sheet:  “People with ASD tend to have communication deficits, such as responding inappropriately in conversations, misreading nonverbal interactions, or having difficulty building friendships appropriate to their age. In addition, people with ASD may be overly dependent on routines, highly sensitive to changes in their environment, or intensely focused on inappropriate items. Again, the symptoms of people with ASD will fall on a continuum, with some individuals showing mild symptoms and others having much more severe symptoms.”

Strengths

  • Exceptional memory.  This includes understanding concepts presented in material and images.
  • Detailed understanding of concrete concepts, rules and sequences.
  • Intensely focused.
  • Very precise and detail oriented, which can be combined with high levels of focus on tasks that others may not want to do.
  • Schedule driven.

Two difficult aspects of work for the ASD individual include social interactions and transitions.  Social interaction difficulties may include not understanding non verbal cues, strict adherence to rules and the expectation that others also adhere to said rules, blunt language (which is “truth” to them), and sometimes repetitive behaviors.  Transitions happen quite a bit more often than non ASD individuals realize, and each transition has the potential to cause distress in the ASD individual.

How do you know when you are boring someone you are talking with?  It is likely so automatic to you that you don’t even think about it.  ASD individuals often have favorite topics to discuss and most people are willing to listen for a period of time.  But when a non ASD person has had enough, he or she may start checking the time and giving non verbal hints that they want the conversation to come to a close.  ASD individuals typically do not catch these hints.  The best option is to use clear language that closes the conversation politely.  For example say something like, “Thank you for an interesting conversation.    Now I am going to a meeting.  Bye!”

Recall that a common characteristic of ASD individuals is their ability to focus.  Transitions are a break in that focus.  Some transitions that a non ASD individual may not think about include: switching from one project to another, especially when the first one is not finished; breaking for lunch; adapting to a new information system; gaining a new responsibility.  Transitions can cause feelings similar to those that many avid readers have after finishing a good book.  There is a let down period where you may wonder “oh no – what now?”  Imagine having that feeling several times a day.  When the ASD individual controls the transition, things go much more smoothly.  Whenever possible, involve the ASD individual in the transition planning, especially for significant transitions.  Allow the ASD individual to control their own minor transitions, such as when to take a break.  When presenting an unexpected transition to the ASD individual, be sympathetic and allow time for the individual to process through stressful emotions caused by the unplanned transition.

Where I ramble about a variety of topics!