Monday, 25 November 2013

The Joys of Running

The Joys of Running
I have always wanted to run run run and have been grateful for running partners. Now I have met men my own age who are committed to helping me to realize my dreams. My faulty nervous system means that I can't always do what I dream. But I am trying, helped by creative strategies of my running friends. It helps me to express my thoughts and dreams in poems and mantras like this one, which was first composed in February 2013 (with Judi's ST support) and recently edited by Lea who is my Clean Language discussant and adviser: 

I am a good fast runner
I am determined and focused.
I keep up.
Being determined and focused is exciting and responsible.
Exciting is huge and big with unlimited joy.
I can reach it.
It is where I want to be.
I can do what I need to do.
I can go towards it and reach a very big dream that will bring me joy.
Joy is being full of hope and peace and knowing that I have done my very best.
Joy is big, it is green and yellow.
I am smiling and running with Yukon and we are in a field of green and yellow.

My dream is happiness.
My dreams are in my thoughts and my heart.
I grow and push myself forward to make it happen.
My very big dream is fulfilled.
I keep the dreams alive.
I feel so good and alive like a runner in a marathon going for the finish line.
I see my family and friends cheering.
My body is free and able, like a plunge into the water. 

New Film: Holding in The Storm

I am happy to announce a new dramatic film to promote community acceptance and inclusion of adults who are different because of disability such as Autism. Launch planned for 29 March 2014.  

Announcing the production of a short dramatic film titled HOLDING IN THE STORM: MY LIFE WITH AUTISM the goal of which is to increase community acceptance and inclusion of people with Autism or similar disabilities, especially adults.

The direction and production team is led by Christine Zorn of Pan Video Services. A short preview of the film is now on youtube at Editing and post production tasks will take the next 4-5 months.

This new film is inspired by the thoughts and words of the Bridges-Over-Barriers communicators, for whom Christine produced the documentary video In Our Own Words in 2010.

Guelph Services for the Autistic is raising the funds for the project and will distribute the film on DVD together with a Discussion Guide that will continue online.

We plan to host the film launch to mark World Autism Awareness Day next spring. We expect there will be a premiere showing at the University of Guelph Arboretum Centre on 29 March 2014.

Please share this news and the youtube link with any people likely to be interested. You may post comments and questions on youtube.

How Supported Typing works for me....

My friends, especially those I have met only recently, are very intrigued by Supported Typing. My relationship with my ST facilitator is very precious. This is a new poem I composed after a long session in which B supported me to have a conversation with a new running partner. If you use ST, how is it for you?

Opening the Taps
AB 6 Nov 2013
My brain is like a water faucet:
when it is open,
words and feelings pour out of me;
and then it is closed and I shut off.

Nothing helps to open the taps
like being with you.
I feel open when you sit down
and invite me to speak my mind.
If the faucet is stuck
you grease it with your encouraging words.
and when I need to shut off you let me.
Sometimes it is slow to get flowing
 like in the winter when things
start to freeze.
Then you chip away the ice
in a way that is neither mean
nor tentative.

My brain is saying yes thank you
and I will tell you what
is in my heart.
My brain is full to the brim
but I need my writing partner
to help open the faucet,
like I need partners to run
and to work in the garden.

Does this mean you are a plumber
or someone who knows
about water faucets?
You keep your brain open to me
and I think when you invite me
to talk there is a coupling of our minds
and the words come flowing.
Not always but when it is working
it is a monumental thing
and I am grateful for these moments.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Andrew's Garden Photos 2013

Agastache - Apricot Sprite 


Agastache foeniculum



Chocolate Mint (far left), Nasturtium, Swiss mint, Spearmint and Peppermint
Lemon Balm (far left), Skullcap, Sorrel 
Moroccan and Orange Mints (far left), Apple and Ginger Mint, Apricot Sprite Agastache

Monday, 26 August 2013

A New Poem

River of Thoughts
8 June 2012 (j)
The river is a beginning and an end.
The river begins to trickle,
The trickle becomes bigger
and a stream forms.
The stream becomes a body of water
to be home to plants and fish.
The bottom is rocky and smooth
from the constant motion of the water.
The river becomes home to many things.
The plants flow like ribbons in the water.
The birds of the river become
the hunters of the fish.
The herons stand tall and look like
they are guarding the river.
The geese are a noisy and large presence.
I feel like a goose sometimes:
I am noisy with my unexpected energy.
I can be seen as a threat to those I don’t know.
I am not harmful to anyone:
I just need to get to know you.
The river becomes so wide it needs a bridge
to get across this magnificent body of water.
It has many things to stop you
and have you look and listen.
It has to be strong and powerful
to do what it needs to.
The river becomes a forceful stream
that needs a bridge to pass over
to enjoy things on either side.
This is like my life:
I need the powerful and noisy things
in my day to make it all work.
I am going back and forth
on the bridge every day.
My life is changing always
but it is full of energy and new things
that form the rocks in my life.
They keep changing and smoothing
as the river in my life moves.
I am thankful for the bridges
I have in my life to cross it
when I need to.

My life is much like the river.
The river is magnificent:
the river of my home and life.

Monday, 10 June 2013

A Restful Night

I want to share something that is now helping me to cope with deep anxiety that has prevented me from sleeping well for many weeks. Last week my friend Beth sang me a Jewish morning blessing and I had the idea of composing a blessing poem for the end of my day. I composed it with the same line to begin each verse and a refrain after the verse. I wanted the words to be spoken clearly with a background of relaxing music. It was very encouraging to me to know I have angels around me. I sleep and it feels good. My friend Lea is helping me to record the words spoken with some soft music.

Now I am working on a morning blessing for A Hopeful Day.

A restful night
I breathe in and I breathe out
and I listen
to my friend's beautiful voice
sing to me of hope.
I wish for a restful night
where angels come
and guide me
with images of good deeds
and nice people who care for each other.

I breathe in and I breathe out
and I recall
the kindness of all my friends.
I wish for a restful night
where angels come
and guide me
with images of good deeds
and nice people who care for each other.

I breathe in and I breathe out
and I see in my imagination
running free.
I run like the wind.
I wish for a restful night
where angels come
and guide me
with images of good deeds
and nice people who care for each other.

I breathe in and I breathe out
and I think about
the warm embrace
of my family
and the intimacy
of my four-legged companion.
I wish for a restful night
where angels come
and guide me
with images of good deeds
and nice people who care for each other.

AB, 29 May 2013

Monday, 4 March 2013

Monday, 4 February 2013

Ken's Christmas trip to Jamaica

Hello Bridges friends,

Here is Ken's story about his Christmas trip to Jamaica!

Please let us know if you need it in some other format.

Thank you Ken!



January 5, 2013

Ken’s reflections on his vacation in Jamaica.

I had a good time.  Carlo and Donna took me out to see Jamaica with them.  We saw the beach and we took the bus to see different places.  I liked the people.  They were nice to me.  We ate good food – lots of vegetables and fruit.  Inez made a chicken for Christmas Day.  We had her relatives come and eat with us.  They are very happy and laugh a lot.  I liked going to the beach. It was fun to stand in the waves.  They feel strong when you stand in them.  I think Inez and Norris are very happy there.  They have lots of friends and we visited a lot of them after church.  I wore my purple shirt to church and the people told me I looked nice.

I stayed with Inez and Norris.  We worked in the garden and I helped to carry the vegetables and baskets back to the house.  It is a nice big house with lots of rooms. We each had a room to sleep in.  We ate a lot of fish and I had to be careful of the bones.  Inez is a good cook and she gave us a lot to eat.  I was full and did not have to take food.

I saw a lot of places that were nice to see.  I saw a lot of nice flowers growing around the houses and buildings.  The houses are painted many different colours so everything looks bright and pretty.   I liked visiting the relatives.  They were happy to see me. They remembered me from my last visit to Jamaica.

I like the pretty flowers and the blue sky.  I liked the bus ride around to see places.  It is very pretty with all the trees which have bright flowers growing on them.  The roads are full of holes, but we can still drive on them.  Inez cooked lots of fish for breakfast. It was different but it tasted good.  I liked being with Donna and Carlo on our trips to see things.  We saw lots of buildings and lots of nice gardens.  The goats and dogs are free to roam the streets and parks around the place where we stayed.  I thought it was different having goats beside us on the road where we walked.

I liked Inez’s house and it was a very nice place with lots of windows to look out. The sky was blue and the water was warm to swim in.  We had a good time in Jamaica.  It is strange to come back to Canada with all the snow and now I have to wear winter clothes.  I will get used to it again.  I will be able to snowshoe in the woods now.

I gave Inez a hug and Donna thanked her for both of us.  They were kind to us and took good care of us.  They have nice friends at church.

From Ken

Monday, 28 January 2013

Bridges Song of Hope

Bridges-Over-Barriers update:
I am very happy to announce that our Bridges Song of Hope is now published as sheet music! It is dedicated to all our Bridges friends and allies.
You can see it online at:

Getting this far has been a collaborative achievement and a kind of miracle. I composed the words in November 2010, just as we were completing the editing of our Bridges DVD and book, In Our Own Words. We were in time to include the song in the book, on page 106. During 2011, we talked about setting it to music. I wanted to have it played by piano and flute. That happened in early 2012, thanks to a new Bridges friend who teaches music and helps many people in Simcoe, Ontario. Leah read the lyrics and immediately composed the music which she recorded on the piano with Tyler playing the flute. At most 2012 gatherings we listened to the music and tried to sing along together. Judy Loman Umbrico and Linda Umbrico, Joey’s mother and sister, helped us to play and sing together, and Judy with her colleague Mitchell edited the final version of the musical score for publication. My friend Marie, a cartographer and graphic designer, used one of my paintings to create a cover design. The painting is my vision of a Bridges Centre, a golden dome-shaped house on a bridge in the green forest with all of us communicators shown relaxed and happy. As with all my art, it is a collaboration with my art mentor, Heidi. I type about the images, colours and shapes that I want, and Heidi helps me to get the paint on the canvas.
Now we are sending you copies of the sheet music for you to feel inspired and to share with anyone who could be interested. I have another idea. Everyone connected with friends who are singers and musicians could play and sing the song wherever you are. If you could record the playing and singing and send this to us, we could put all the recordings artistically together in a DVD to inspire even more people. We need so much to speak up for our rights and abilities to express our thoughts. Being helped to do this makes life better for everyone!

We are beginning our tenth year as a community of communicators. Up to 15 of us meet monthly in Guelph, with our families and friends, to share ideas and friendship, and we have some distant members as well. In 2013, these are dates of our monthly meetings (all Saturdays): March 16; April 13; May 11; June 8; July 6; August 10; September 7; October 5; November 2; November 30
As well as meeting in our gatherings, we also try to keep in touch by email and Internet. Look up my Andrew’s Bridges blog at:
Link to our last full newsletter:

Monday, 21 January 2013

Thank you, snow

Appreciating Snow
AB 9 Jan 2013
To some people snow is a nuisance.
but I like snow.
It is good in many ways
even though it can be ugly
when it gets grey and dirty.
Snow is good for the ground
because it gives us moisture
in the reservoirs and lakes.
Snow helps the birds to have something to drink.
For me it provides a visual blanket.
I like the crunching sound it makes
when I walk on it.

Snow in the air feels fresh on my face.
I like the quiet of the neighbourhood
after a snowfall.
I hear the flakes settling
on the branches of the trees
and on my head.
Under the car tires
there is a funny sort of screech
and it makes me laugh to myself
as the dog and I
walk safely on the sidewalk.

I like to get bundled up in my coat
and don my boots.
I won’t wear a new t-shirt,
but my old boots and coat
are my winter friends.
I think I could walk forever
on a snowy day.
No heat and humidity
to disturb my inner thermometer.
The world seems calm
and peaceful and pretty
when the snow falls and
I am out in it.

In my younger days
I used to ski across the fields,
but winters were colder then
and we had more snow.
I like the thought of snowshoeing
like the native people of Canada
and our early settlers.
It feels like you could forget
all the cares of our modern day lives
when out on a good walk
in the snow.

Today is the day to make it happen:
Let’s go for it!

AB 19 Jan 2013
I am a proud man
who prefers to do my best at all times.
I am trying my best always.
Today is the day to make it happen,
so let’s go for it!

I will do my best
which may not be
the expectations of others.
Is it necessary to be the way
others expect me to be?

I am a man with new thoughts and my own ideas.
If it is important to me, I will make it happen.
I need to know that,
if I don’t get to the finish line,
it is okay.
It is a journey, not a race.

My dreams to make my life the best it can be
need to be worked on every day.
I am a man with great determination;
but there is a limit.
I am a great schemer of good ideas;
I fool myself.
I want things that are always out of my reach;
but I keep stretching myself to get there.

It is my responsibility and choice
to be the person I choose,
whether it is making the best
of a not-so-great situation
or seeking something new.
I need to run towards it
and take the decision to make it mine.
Today is the day to make it happen;
so let’s go for it!