We returned home last night from the ICI Conference (Institute on Communication and Inclusion) at Syracuse University and though it was wonderful to see those family members we’d left behind, being “back” is hard.  I don’t do transitions well. As a kid I would eagerly anticipate having a sleepover at a friend’s house weeks in advance, only to return home depressed.  It is still like that.  It often takes several days before the weight of sadness, that accompanies returning from a place where I’ve had a terrific time, is lifted.  Even though all that excitement, fun and the constant interaction with lots of people is exhausting.  Yesterday I was so emotional I knew I was in overwhelm, but we had a whole day of presentations ahead of us, so I ploughed through.

When I reach this point of exhaustion and overwhelm I become emotional.  Anything can set off a torrent of tears.  If someone says something even remotely critical the tears begin to flow, watching a movie, saying good-bye, tears and more tears; it’s as though the social dam I’ve constructed gets chipped away until there are too many cracks to hold the feelings back.  Everything becomes intense, my friends become a lifeline, it’s no longer just nice to see them, I feel dependent upon them, as if without them, I may die, words spoken with anything other than kindness, feel like knives, music induces feelings of pain and euphoria all at the same time.  I am hyper aware of and easily overloaded with the feelings and interactions and the sheer numbers of people.  This is how I’ve always been.  I understand this about myself.  I am able to function, barely, but not without lots of tears.  So much so that Ibby handed me her plaid handkerchief at one point, causing me to cry even louder and harder and then came over and hugged me as I sobbed on her shoulder.

I become hyper aware of the injustices of the world, I feel both ecstatic to be among so many wonderfully accepting people, while also horrified by the “real” world we live in and must soon return to.  The disconnect starts to feel impossible.  I begin to believe the change so many are trying to create will never come about.  I slide helplessly into despair.  And then I bolster myself up by remembering other people’s words.  At yesterday’s keynote address with Jamie Burke, Sue Rubin, Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette, Tracy typed,  “Larry likes typing out poking fingers on hurtful labeling to push his wrecking ball toward brick walls of structures of old thinking.  What I intend is to push my own ball of fiery passion of change to the global stage and shatter the glass like Pascal did in the city.  Pascal clumsily broke the water glass; Tracy intends to go about the Inclusion Movement more like George Clooney.  Charming Tracy’s plan; worldly connections repairing injustices is the wretches-in-arms plan.”

I have the choice to join all those who are using their “own ball of fiery passion”.  It feels less like a choice and more like an honor.   We can join each other.  Linking our arms, united in making society understand that to include is in everyone’s best interests and all will benefit.

I am ending with photographs from the last three days spent immersed in a world that accepted, appreciated and above all else, presumed one another competent…


Christine Ashby

Rosemary Crossley

Em types with Leah
Leah& Em

Me, Amy & Ibby after our presentation, “Blogging to Communicate”
Ariane, Amy & Ib

Em takes the stage























Ibby & Larry Bissonnette

Douglas Biklen and Me
Doug &Me

Doug Biklen and Ibby
Ib& doug

Doug Biklen & Amy Sequenzia

Mark Utter during the Q & A after the screening of his film, I am in here
Mark Utter

Anne Donnellan
Anne Donnallan

Typing with Emma
Me & Em

Sue Rubin
Sue Rubin

Tracy Thresher
Leading Man Tracy

Emma’s String
Em's String

Em, Mark Utter & Ibby
Em, Mark & Ib


14 responses to “Transitions

  1. Absolutely beautiful!!!

  2. Though you didn’t know it or even intend to do so, I want to thank you for your post today. Thank you for describing me and my hyper-sensitive reality in words far more eloquent than my own have been. Every machine grinds/shrieks and the mountain’s weight presses down on molecules that never escape. Thank you, Ariane.

    • “Every machine grinds/shrieks and the mountain’s weight presses down on molecules that never escape.” Jesse – that’s beautiful and wow, can I relate. 🙂

  3. Barb (from DC)

    “community is the most powerful resource that people have as they engage in social action.” Quaker perspective in working for the long haul here, from one of our program assistants.

  4. ((Ariane)) Sigh…
    It is hard to leave the places where we find that wonderful feeling of being amongst those who ‘get it’. For me it is like being welcomed by a home and with family I never knew I had. It is a loss to tear yourself (and your child) away from being surrounded by the exquisite feeling of acceptance and perfectly paced supports, especially when you feel you have just found it…

    As difficult as it may be to transition back to our regular lives, I think these rich experiences fuel our actions. These glimpses of what is possible, and the feeling of perfect inclusion and acceptance and understanding are hard to leave – but they give us a touchstone – a framework. It is like an addictive little taste that leave us wanting more… and I, too, am saddened that it isn’t already more far-reaching. It is a loss that motivates us to work to create this as a common experience.

    “I have the choice to join all those who are using their “own ball of fiery passion”. It feels less like a choice and more like an honor. We can join each other. Linking our arms, united in making society understand that to include is in everyone’s best interests and all will benefit.”


    Love and appreciation,

  5. Planning trips is one of my passions, one of my strengths. I am always happier when I have a trip to plan. I am an over-planner. I research everything. But, with everyone in the family having some sort of special needs (autism, SPD, wheelchair, diabetes, gluten-free, etc.), I NEED to plan to help things go smoothly.
    Once the trip starts, I enjoy myself. I have a plan, I am good. But, in the last few days of the trip, some melancholy starts to set in. I don’t want this trip to end. It has been all-consuming for months, it has been my over-focus topic.
    After the trip, I tend to be rather depressed. It is like I don’t know quite what to do with myself. The fun of the trip is over, but, also, I have lost my focus.

  6. I feel I am emotional like that, too. I was born with that kind of hypersensitive to emotions soul. And I’m exquisitely aware of how that makes me vulnerable in the world. So I’ve built up walls. When we take down our walls and let people in, it is very hard to realize that sometimes we need those walls, that armor, to protect ourselves. ❤

  7. So much love! Such wide open faces, enjoying each other! I want to kiss all of you, and (gently) bite a few 💕
    I am so pleased your passion grows. Even though you are weak right now, you are so very strong, and the pen is, indeed, the mightiest of wrecking balls!
    Tender post and sweet, sweet pics, and I think Emma’s string has evolved into a true work of art! Her magic wand ✨
    (((rest now))), “Joan of Aut” 🌹

  8. I, like you, cry at the drop of a hat my family teases me about it but i’m no longer embarrassed of it crying shows you’re brave enough to be vulnerable.

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