Decorating for Christmas

Thanksgiving is over.  Radio stations are blasting their Christmas line ups.  Black Friday shoppers nudging people out of the way.

For us, it’s time to get the decorations up.

This was the first year that Liam was engaged in helping to getting the ornaments on the tree.

He quickly began knocking them all down 5 minutes later…but progress is progress. IMG_20171124_132911249IMG_20171124_193028527IMG_20171124_150450691IMG_20171124_150514530IMG_20171124_153200472


Road Trip to Delaware


Tied up as many loose ends as I could this morning, then packed Patti, Maddex and Liam in the car and pointed the car south for Delaware.  Reheboth Beach to be more specific.

Why Delaware?  1.  It’s on the way to our final destination in Virginia.  2. It’s awesome. 3.  I have fond memories of this area. (always a catch isn’t there?)

It was the last vacation I ever took with my immediate family.   It was the summer of 06 and I was in a very isolated point in my life.  I had just withdrew from College and lost my finance in the same day that past February.

I entered a state of seclusion where I hid from the outside world.  Only emerging  work in restaurants, which was about 80 hours a week.  I had a couple of close friends that refused to let me become a total hermit.

However, my mom besieged me to take a week off to drive her, my grandmother, and younger brother down to see my Aunt in Delaware.

The trip was very therapeutic.  I spent the week thinking about how there was so much more out there.  That I was barely living a “half life”.  When I returned I enrolled in the Culinary Arts Program and began piecing my life together.

Surviving the car ride is the hard part.  Getting down route 81 and then horrifying  476 when you get to Philadelphia and traffic turns into a slow crawl for a good hour.  You’re in the homestretch once your cross into Delaware’s RT 1S.

We made it to our destination about 430PM.  Let the vacation begin.




I know I’m Lame…but I miss Quiznos. 



846eae2ed0503e9e95e8baf1cd4fe7e0Dec. 30st

Like so many other people, I found 2016 to be a not very good year.  But my year was bad because of politics, the economy, or the vast string of celebrity deaths.  As 2016 drew to a close I found myself to probably me the most unhappy that I have ever been.  Unhappy with my work, my marriage, and with life in general.  The problem was that the reason for my unhappiness was unclear.  I had a have job, a recently purchased house, and a beautiful family, but I found myself constantly trying to escape to a new life.

I knew I had to find a way to fix these feelings of discontent.  It wasn’t until I found an audio book named THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, by Gretchen Rubin that I hoped would point me in the right direction.  The Happiness Project Chronicles a year in the life of a NYC wife and mother of two as she makes 12 months of resolutions all centered about making her happier.  Was it easy for her? Of course not.  But after a year of blogging about her experience she found herself the happiest she had ever been and it didn’t require a major life change.  It inspired me to start my own Happiness Project.  January 1st is just around the corner and I can’t wait to get started



December 31st

A little bit about myself before I dive into why I am starting a Happiness project.

I’m 30 years old living in a small suburb near to Syracuse, New York.  I am married with 3 boys.  Maddex (11) technically my step son but I love and care for him like my own, Lucas (5) lives with his Mother in Buffalo when he is not with us. Liam (2) we had shortly after we got married.  My wife Patti and I have been together almost 5 years now.

I work as a General manager in a local restaurant and my wife works a server at a different restaurant.  We don’t rely on babysitters so we have to work opposite shifts which can prove very difficult.

So Why am I starting a happiness project?  As I said about there was no major, defining reason for my unhappiness.  Just a lot of small ones.

– not on the top of my game a work : after three straight years of being in the upper tier of performance in my company, my performance seems to have peaked Now i have slipped into the mediocre at least in my own mind

lack of close relationships: Throughout my life I have only have a couple close friends at a time. My two best friends in my adult life  have both more off intro their own adult lives

lack of relationship with,  my wife Patti : Patti leaving her job and going back to Zebbs (restaurant) added new stress on our relationship. Sure she was making more money which was a huge source of stress when she wasn’t. But now she was working 5 nights a week and going in at 5. Which gave us a few minutes together each of those days. And Monday nights. sometimes we would get luck with a Friday night or Tuesday morning but that was occasional.

amount of time seeing  Luke: my first son Lucas, I have had trouble coping with only seeing him every other weekend. his mother has recently gotten engaged with has been this anxiety escalate.

struggles with work – loosing my right hand and assistant in the middle of the year has proved a challenge. My current management team is good but we still have a lot of growing to do

It’s NYE obviously,

Check out my post explaining exactly what a happiness project consists off.

Then check back  for January’s resolutions

Living with Asperger’s : Camouflaging


“While autism is usually diagnosed in childhood, some people remain “off the radar” for a long time and only receive a diagnosis much later. One possible reason is that they have learned socially appropriate behaviors, effectively camouflaging their social difficulties, including maintaining eye contact during conversations, memorizing jokes or imitating facial expressions.

This pattern of behavior could have serious consequences for the lives of some people with autism. It is easy to imagine that camouflaging demands significant cognitive effort, leading to mental exhaustion over time, and in extreme cases perhaps also contributing to anxiety and depression.”

Why do we mask?  The answer is simple.  We do it at a young age to avoid getting yelled at or grounded by our parents.  We do it to make friends.  We do it to get a job.  We do it to find a spouse.   Because of the way awareness was back then and still is to a certain extent, it was the only way to belong.


“To be honest, 9 times out of 10 when I walk into a room full of people.  To me a room full of people could be just one person part from me.   Usually what I do is I put on a mask,  I climb into a skin, and I pretend to be human.  Because it’s easy to do that than to show people…myself.”

Monique Botha.


‘With Asperger’s you put on a mask to pretend you’re normal.  I ate lunch by myself to avoid people talking about things that were not work-related. The more I did stuff like that the more people rejected me”   Daniel Lightwing


“My fear is that if I don’t mask, push through & show how capable I am, I won’t be offered opportunities in the future or be valued the same.” – Emily Swiatek




Living With Asperger’s : Social Isolation

Look that little red-hair kid.  He’s sitting all alone at the lunch table.  The other kids…they make fun of him because of his red hair, freckles, and awkward nature.  His parents don’t know…because he never tells them about it. He does very well in his classes.   He never tells them because it doesn’t bother him. His happy here….Alone. Inside the universe in his head.  


He will make a couple friends over time.  Usually, adopted by an extrovert. He’s a good listener because he doesn’t say much.  He is taken in by the extrovert and included with the group of friends. But that doesn’t last long.  The extrovert doesn’t want to be seen as “uncool”. Associating with this socially awkward kid. He is cast a side.  Forgotten about.


But the red-haired boy doesn’t mind much.  He is happy here. Alone. Until the cycle starts again.  It’s almost like a child in an out of foster care.


Then the boy will grow up.  People wonder why he prefers to be alone.  They try to “fix” him. Nobody should want to be alone all the time.  But this is who is. This is who he will always be. He can fake it to a certain extent.  Work, family, life demands it from time to time. But the first opportunity he has, he will recede back into himself.  Into his universe. Where he is happy. Alone.




Let him be.  


If you are lucky,  He will let you in his universe.  



Living With Asperger’s : ADHD

Those with Asperger’s are likely to show symptoms of Depression, Anxiety and or ADHD.  

Much like most men, I was diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression in my early twenties.  I have since learned to cope with both without taking any mediation.  

I don’t feel anxious unless I am put in an unfamiliar social situation such as meeting new people, public speaking, or being judged on my performance when I am not familiar with the subject.

My depression if very mild.  I tend to only have “flare ups” when I am feeling stuck or without a clear direction because anyone who knows me knows that I must always being moving forward.  

Finally we get to ADHD.  Those that read my blog last year know that it wasn’t until age 31 that a was diagnosed and treated for ADHD.  

I sought the treatment because I had so many ideas and desires of things that I wanted to do, but couldn’t slow down for two seconds to figure out how to do them, which then caused more frustration, anxiety, depression, yada, yada.  

There is so much stigma when it comes to stimulant medication but I can tell you; that you use prescribed drugs properly you will find that you can do so many things.  

I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today in my company, my community, and with my kids’ school if I didn’t start taking them.   I’ve said it before;  It was as I was blind and then suddenly I could see.   And now, 6 months later. I don’t take them everyday. I have learned to regulate without them. I only take them when I know that I need to completely focus on the task at hand.  



Living With Asperger’s: Obsession

Anyone have a hobby?  Most people do.  Ever people so obsessed with a hobby that it jeopardizes your studies?  Your job? Your relationship.

Most Aspies know this all to well and I am no exception.  I usually don’t have much to say but if you start a conversation with me about whatever my interest is at the time, you might not get me to shut up.

Obsessions can last a long time and they can become all-consuming.   Thankfully, these days I have people to answer to and people who depend on me to get up everyday and take care of them.  I have been able to regulate myself to get back on track whenver I start to lose focus on whats important for too long.

Here’s my personal recollection of my topics of interest from childhood until now.

Age 3-9 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers :   I know it’s normal for kids to have a favorite show but this lasted for many years and I had hundreds of toys that I would line up and bring everywhere with me.

Age 9  Dinosaurs : I don’t know what triggered this but I would copy text from every book and encyclopedia  I could find into compositions books…dozens of them.  The internet was not a thing back then and I would sit and study each page.  Memorizing every pronunciation, every detail of each species.

Age 10  Football Cards :  I would beg my mother to take me to the local card shop and drop big bucks on packs of football cards.  Certain players or card styles appealed to me.   I still remember my favorite year and company.  Score 1996.   I would study the stats on the back of the cards.  Fascinated by the numbers and what they all meant.

Age 11 Sharks :  Same as Dinosaurs.

Age 13 Pokemon Cards : I have no shame in admitting it.  It was a little past my age group.  But that’s a common trait in people on the spectrum.  They are overly mature in some areas and overly immature in others.

Age 15-16  Wrestling :  By this time I was working and my hard-earned money was spent on wrestling VHS. My off hours were spent watching and analyzing the various matches.

Age 21 – when I stopped becoming and just and employee and started my career in management, when the results became “my results” and whole new oppression began.  I have fought workaholism for the better part of ten years. Frequently blurring the lines between “driven” and “crazed” when it comes to my performance.


obsessive interests

Living With Asperger’s : Cognitive Empathy



Lack of empathy is attributed to those with Asperger’s, but that’s an incomplete statement.  What kind of empathy are we talking about?

“Empathy is made up of two important parts: the first is the ability to see the world from the perspective of another. This is the thinking or cognitive part of empathy. It is about identifying what is going on in another person’s mind.

The second part of empathy is more emotional—the ability to imagine what another person is feeling and then to care about it.

These two aspects of empathy require different skills. In a nutshell, people with Asperger’s Syndrome have more difficulty than the average person with the first part of empathy—seeing the world from someone else’s perspective. The second part, caring about what someone else feels is as developed and present as anyone else.”  Kenneth Roberson, Ph.D.

As stated above,  I struggle to understand why people do and feel the way that they do, or how they are going to react to a particular thing I might say or do.

I say a lot of blunt and social inappropriate things in the course of a day.  I hurt a lot of people feelings unintentionally because at the time I see nothing wrong.  When I learn about how I made someone upset I feel horrible and apologetic.  When is called “effective empathy” which is, if I’m being honest, sets people with Asperger’s apart from Psychopaths.

I have had to practice, even deep into adulthood, to think about my what I say and how it will be received.   Do I still slip up?  Of course, more than I like to admit.

My advice to those who leave a conversation with me thinking that I am callous and cold :  Tell me how I made you feel.


Living with Asperger’s : Eye Contact

“As a child, I didn’t give any eye contact at all, but I now give it (or let people believe I’m giving it) in certain situations but not in others. If I’m stressed about something, I likely won’t be giving any eye contact, and in general I’m not a fan of it. It’s hard to explain why eye contact is difficult, but a lot of the time it feels spooky. It feels as though someone is looking right into your very soul. That’s why it used to be absolutely unbearable and still is in certain circumstances.” — Alex Lowery

It’s hard for other’s to understand.  It’s seen as “rude” or “anti-social”.  I want people to understand that I listen and understand better if I’m not looking in your eyes.    Much like Alex, I know there are situations where I must, more and more as I expose myself to more people.  It’s so exhausting.

Here’s what some other’s said about eye contact.

“To me, eye contact feels like I’m being stared at, like I’m being scrutinized and judged. It makes me uncomfortable because I feel like I’m under immense pressure, and the tension builds and builds until finally I have to look away. It feels almost confrontational, which causes me a lot of anxiety. It’s just too much pressure, and I can’t keep eye contact for very long unless it’s with someone I trust… But despite how my eyes may wander, or if I’m even looking in another direction, make no mistake; I am still listening, and I am still interested in what you have to say.” — Emma Wozny

“For me, it’s difficult because I feel like the person I’m making eye contact with may be able to see just how socially awkward and odd I am. I force myself to make eye contact when speaking to a person, but it can actually make my eyes burn or water while doing it.” — Jill Toler


“It’s sometimes physically painful trying to maintain a constant stare straight into someone else’s eyes. It does not mean I’m not listening or have something against the person talking to me, it’s just an uncontrollable struggle to maintain eye contact.” — Chris Amor

Living with Asperger’s : Introduction

As I said I would, being Autism Awareness Month,   that I would share with you what’s it’s like being an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome.

First of, what is Asperger’s Syndrome?  It can be my commonly defined as “High Functioning, Mild Autism”

If you saw me walking down the street, you think I’m just a regular guy, for a ginger anyway.  But if you had to stop to talk to me, you would know something was differently…well “off”

I will say that I have had a privileged and bless life.   But growing up was very hard for me.  I had trouble making/ keeping friends.  I was socially isolated.  I had trouble being understood.   Still partially true on some counts.

Through a lot of practice I have been able to find my place in the world…while not truly feeling like I belong.

And if you are an individual with Asperger’s or Autism or someone who loves them :  There is hope.

For the rest of the month I will share with you the traits of Asperger’s that I display and how it has affected me and how I cope with them.


If you felt like you learned a lot about me last year…you haven’t heard anything yet.