90,000 Miles to Me

The Manifesto

              …otherwise known as, the About Me page.

The Short Version:

I’m a mid-30s autistic woman traveling the USA in a white Ford van to see the country, explore, learn, engage with nature, make art, and figure out who I am. Still interested? Here’s the long version…

 

The Long Version:

A dear friend of mine accidentally saved my life in August of 2016, when she mentioned an article she had read about new research that shows girls exhibit different symptoms of autism than boys. This ignited a fire in my brain. Many hours of frenzied online research later, I announced that I had finally figured out “what was wrong with me.” I am not wrong. I am autistic.

I got a formal diagnosis of being on the part of the autism spectrum sometimes referred to as Asperger’s Syndrome, in January of 2017, confirming what I had suspected for many years (but they insisted autism only affects boys). It explained so much of my life, so many of the difficulties I have had and the successes, ridding me of the guilt and shame of not fitting in and not even wanting to. It changed my entire life, probably saving my life.

Diagnosis in hand, it was my “get out of jail free card” to try something new. I could stop trying to force myself to be someone I never could be and start being authentically me. Yet I quickly stumbled on that first challenge. Who am I, now that I no longer need to pretend? I don’t know.

“Yet I quickly stumbled on that first challenge.”

Well, I’m still working on that one. It will probably take a long time to peel away all the layers of deeply-ingrained, unhelpful and hurtful habits of the heart, to really heal. This is that journey.

A journey of self-discovery, trying out new things without any pressure to commit to any of them, learning new skills, exploring things I have always wanted to try and getting excited about life again. Finding joy.

It is also a journey in the most literal sense. In June of 2017, I set out in a white Ford Transit van named Serenity to see the country. I love traveling, but don’t do well with change (I told you, I’m autistic). Do you see a problem there? Well, taking my home with me gives me the stability and non-changing-ness that I need to deal with and enjoy all the changes that come with traveling. It is also dirt cheap; more so because I camp in forests as often as I can, where dirt is the prevailing currency.

If you’re interested, I invite you to poke in here occasionally and see where I am and what’s going on. See if I’ve found myself yet.

The point isn’t to rack up miles or kudos or likes or followers, but to engage deeply with important issues; not issues of current events, but the far more difficult issues of the heart, of how I think and why, of how those thoughts and feelings influence how I act and engage with myself and my God and the world and you.

To that end I am trying to be intentional about what things I choose to do and more importantly, how I choose to do those things.

“to engage deeply with the far more difficult issues of the heart”

So if I say I want to prepare food for myself, it is not simply about eating or being healthy or even the food itself, but about slowing down and engaging with the things that sustain my life and what sustained them and how they got to me and valuing the food by how I use my body to prepare it, carefully and thoughtfully, and minimizing waste and what I do with any that I do have. Just as an example.

Here are a few of the things I want to engage with—some of my intentions—on this journey. To prepare food from scratch, to move my body outdoors frequently, to pray, to play, to be joyful, to challenge myself in constructive ways, to make things, to make art, to do physical labor, to get excited again, to meditate, to engage with nature, to live by faith, to foster connections with friends and family, to indulge in restorative alone time, to get back to the fundamentals of what makes a good life.

That’s a long list, and here’s some more, but I’ve got a long list of issues to tackle. It might take a while. I’m figuring at least 90,000 miles at most. Join me.

 

4 thoughts on “The Manifesto

  1. Wow. So proud of you. It takes tremendous courage to genuinely explore one’s authenticity on a daily basis — and doubly so to do it in a public forum. Whatever support you need, just ask.

  2. I believe that you are a very courageous young lady and I for one am very proud of you. my hope for you is that you find the answers that you are looking for and more.

  3. This is awesome. You are following a long line of adventurers. You are wonderfully made in God’s image. I am so happy to be a part of your exploration, support and adventure. Love and Prayers Maria

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