A Focus on Gratitude
As we finalised the proofs for this issue, the world seemed to be spinning out of control. Uncertainty in the US election, lockdowns across Europe – it felt like we didn’t know what was going to happen from one day to the next.
Amid all this, I tried to stop and just breath. To look out of the window and be grateful for the sunshine through the last of the orange leaves. To enjoy the sound of the cat snoring in his blissful sleep. To feel happy that the washing was drying on the line.
This has been the most extraordinary year, but I, like many, have found that in the midst of fear and anxiety, a focus on gratitude can help. Even with all the terrible sadness around us, if we stop and look closely enough, we can find small things to be grateful for, and those small things can keep us lifted through the day.
Elisabeth Pike found that writing poems helped her. She writes, on pages 32 and 33, “Looking for things to be thankful for each day opened up my eyes to see what was there all along. And the things I wrote about weren’t extraordinary, they were the things of the everyday.”
We also asked our readers to share their grateful moments on Instagram, and I love the images and powerful words spoken from each person’s heart. Take a look on pages 30 and 31.
Creating this issue of JUNO, I felt a strong theme of acknowledging that each of us is an individual: the striking book celebrating dyslexia (page 69); Wayne J. Cosshall’s My Teen column about supporting his daughter (page 75); reading Spectrum Women and Birth Shock (reviews on pages 70 and 71); and Jade Mutyora’s article about being part of a multi-racial family (pages 14–16). We are all individuals. We all have different needs. We all look different and feel things differently. We all have things that we struggle with and it can help all of us if others try to understand those rather than us all think: ‘well, that’s the way we’ve always done it’. I was guided, by Lucy Pearce, to the words of Karen Blacher, who, when writing about being an autistic and a teacher said:
“When we treat autistic children the way the world tells us to treat neurotypical children, they suffer. But I have never encountered a single human being, of any age or neurotype, who doesn’t thrive when treated like an autistic person. (I mean, of course, treated the way an autistic person OUGHT to be treated. With open communication, adaptive expectations, and respect for self-advocacy and self-regulation). And that got me thinking that maybe ND people aren’t the only ones who’ve been misunderstood and mistreated all this time. They’re just the ones who feel it most, and the ones who finally got the message through to the rest of humanity that there’s a better way to be.”
These words have stayed with me as we end this year: “there’s a better way to be.” So much has changed for us all this year; can we take the changes, the hardships, the new way of being, and turn them into a willingness to reflect on what might work better, for us and our Earth? If we work towards constructive change, and treating each other as individuals, that will ultimately be better for everyone, and will help us find more reasons for gratitude from within the struggles.