Two Sides of Tolerance: Accepting Others


Not long ago, I enjoyed tea and pastry at my favorite bakery. A woman with dizzying perfume swept into a seat behind me. Her sharp, expensive fragrance slid over my table, invading each sip and bite I took.  Irritation engulfed me. I snatched up my notebooks and stomped across the room to pen a few ill-tempered paragraphs. When my tea tasted good again, I stole a glance at the perpetrator. Slim and sixtyish, she stiffened under my scrutiny.

I expected someone offensive and unlikable–a diabolical, slathering fiend, perfume bottle in hand, ready to shoot pungent fluids at my face.  Instead, a frail and self-conscious senior citizen nibbled a croissant.  Her red-and-black plaid pantsuit radiated as fiercely as her fragrance. She was the kind of woman who applies lipstick with a tiny brush and styles her improbable chestnut hair with precision. In a deserted bakery, she purposely chose the seat closest to twitchy, tappy me.

As an autistic woman, I cursed both my sensory sensitivity and social reticence.  I wanted to explain my huff, but I had neither the words nor the poise. Perhaps the perfume she wore was her stim, her comfort, her way of making the outside world tolerable. Sitting close to me was an act of camaraderie, not hostility.

No matter how righteous my beliefs, I should not scorn the woman across the bakery.

After all, how many recoiled from me in hallways and lunchrooms because they found my excitability unnerving?

It is easy, instinctive even, to divide the world into smaller and smaller pieces to protect yourself. Cutting away people who smell too strongly, talk too loudly, or twitch too often can evolve into intolerance on a grander scale. Assail ideas, not individuals.

I timed my departure to match the flower woman’s, so I could hold the door open for her. Conciliatory words jammed my throat, but my eyes leapt to hers. I gave her my warmest, kindest smile. She held my gaze and smiled, “Thank you.”

374 thoughts on “Two Sides of Tolerance: Accepting Others

  1. Love this. It actually made me want to cry. it’s so easy to judge others, ESPECIALLY when we are constantly on guard because we have been judged. You did the right thing. 🙂

    1. Gretchen, I am deeply touched that my post moved you. When I was a young woman, I fought more than I should have. Sometimes anger is really a mask for uncertainty. Thank you for your thoughts. <3


      1. Lana,

        Thank you so much for your words. As I thumb through my journals, I continue to be surprised by this theme repeating over and over. I struggle to understand people and their motivations. It’s easy to make assumptions, perhaps at times even safer, but I hope to better myself. 🙂

        1. *smiles softly*
          I understand completely. I’ve always had difficulty understanding the motivations of others as well (rather, understanding other people in general…), but I’ve been trying to temper my knee-jerk reactions to that which irritates me. Everyone is walking a difficult journey, and a little bit of extra empathy and understanding can go a long way.


      2. Really liked that good job! Especially the way you said the perfume was her way of making the world tolerabe it made me feel as though we all have our shields and by noting that was the connection 🙂

  2. Really that’s where it gets confusing…my somewhat nt self trying to manage two opposite autistic kids plus a lil dementia to make it fun. Lots of ice this yr so it falls on me to figure out how all 3 can be allowed to be them without driving anyone else bonkers

    1. Our winters in New England can be crazy-making, especially when you can’t burn off pent-up energy. Having only one child can be a blessing and a curse–on one hand, I only need to cope with individual dynamics, not the complexity siblings bring. On the other, he has no built-in playmates! It’s me, me, me! The hardest part of parenthood for me has very little to do with my son’s autism, but much with mine. I can’t tolerate boredom, and I sometimes languish because all I want to do is art! Being outdoors is like opening a window in your brain, the fresh air is stimulating and healthy for all. Here’s to spring soon!

  3. No homicides yet tho lol tho I am not always successful. I have seen same in other multiple autistic households tho..what if one’s stim is others trigger? Any advice?

    1. Camelynelayne, I wish I had specific advice for you (we are all only children here!), so I reached out to Tyoma’s Autism coach, Danielle. She is incredibly wise, experienced and sensitive. Over the past few years she has educated us so much and she is accustomed to working with multiple special needs kids in inclusive classrooms. She will get in touch with you here so you can share specifics and find a good solution. As parents of larger families search for this type of information, please update us on how things are going for you. So we can spread what works!

      As far as general ASD parenting resources go, my two heroes are Mama Be Good and Karla’s ASD Page (<- on Facebook). I check in with these incredible women several times a week!

      Best wishes,
      Lori D

  4. Thx I’ve found the main conflict is my older aspies tendency to narrate everything he does…loudly…and my dad’s dementia not liking noise and change… dad mostly does ok on the every other weekend but bein iced in a wk at a time I find myself mediating a lot. I’ve really found though that both my kids autism prepared me quite a bit for dad they share temperament on one side and inability to communicate on the other. I say I’m somewhat nt bc I’m starting to figure out at 34 ADD is fairly likely but adding extra acronyms while it helps me get them doesn’t help overall.. kwim?

  5. And as a side note my faves are diaryofamom and emmashopebook and musingsofanaspie but those ate just top of my head oh thethirdglance dang there are too many lol but that’s a wonderful problem

  6. One autistic is one autistic…and I read diff ones for both boys….but all added together I start to get a composite picture.. Emma explains what it’s like to be smart but not thought so, 3rd glance (ugh name blank) explains pain threshold, ido explains how his body disobeys…it all adds up

  7. Until reading this I have been so self-righteous, without meaning to be so, about my sensory sensitivities and judgments. Thanks you SO MUCH for giving a different perspective. I will still have to avoid strong smells as best i can (or get horrible, horrible migraines) but will remember to not direct resentment toward those who wear these scents to feel good about themselves, or as art or protection or to conceal what they see as their own “bad” smells. what a concept! Now can you reform ceiling fans and florescent lights??? Love,

    1. OMG I’m so with you on the fluorescent lights and fans. <3

      Seriously, though… I totally hear you on the self-righteousness. Some perfumes affect me so much that I end up physically ill, but I do wear rose scent to quell anxiety and such. Until I read this, it really didn't occur to me that someone else might gag when they smell the scent that calms -me-. Food for thought. 🙂

        1. Hello, sorry for the absence, our kitty is gravely ill. I should sort myself out soon. Thank you lovely people for connecting with me. <3


    2. Thank you for telling me how this post affected you. It means a great deal to be able to reach out to others. I tend to keep to myself, so it is a delight to read that I made a difference.


  8. my sense of smell is one of my strongest sense, and i am one of those who regularly wears scented oils. it’s a way to comfort myself and to ward of other, overwhelming scents.

    saying that, i have been totally guilty of the above. the sound of someone chewing their food drives me insane. it takes over my head and i cannot hear anything else. i have walked out of family meals at restaurants, hurting my mother’s feelings on more than one occassion, all because i have been overwhelmed.

    i always find it hard to explain myself in these situations. i KNOW my mom does not chew loudly to hurt me, it’s just how she does it. yet, once in an overwhelmed and therefore defensive state, i often leap to righteous indignation.

      1. *Winces* Oof.
        That one doesn’t bother me quite as much as the sound of crunchy things being chewed… but the main reason I can’t deal with restaurants is because everyone’s talking at the same time all at once and I go into auditory overload.

    1. There is something intrusive and repulsive about the sounds of others eating that can get stuck in your head. It feels like a strange madness, because you *know* you should tune it out, but it becomes even more intrusive! I avoid public spaces when I feel energized or anxious as I know that I hyper-focus on something…

  9. I hate sitting near people wearing strong perfume too. I dealt with this a lot while taking college classes… if someone was wearing strong perfume, I could not think of anything else but the perfume. And it was easy to feel angry at the person wearing it, and to even hate them for ruining my experience of taking the class. You are wise to point out that most people don’t mean to, or realize that they are, overwhelming our senses. But it is so HARD! At my lunch break at work the other day, I found myself really feeling mad at this lady who was making loud smacking noises while she ate her sandwich. It was so disturbing to me, I wanted to roll around on the floor to get the sound off of me! And every time I saw her after that, I felt like I just didn’t like her. But she is probably a very nice lady. I would like to wear headphones in the break room.

    1. Yes! I remember cramped and smell classrooms–you are exactly right, nothing can compete with the immediacy of intense and unpleasant odors. Even if you stuff your nose with cotton, you breathe it in through your mouth.

      I pity the poor mouth-smacker–I have Tourette’s and exist in a maelstrom of irritating self-made noises. Yet, I can imagine how irritating it must be to others. I loved the image of you rolling around to get the sound off of you. I will hold that in my mind the next time I’m seized by a whooping compulsion. I love these guys: The best earplugs ever! I wear them in noisy areas and they are fantastic. The only problem with them is that they can cause autophony–you won’t hear the lady smacking her mouth, but you can hear yourself chew and swallow!

      Thanks for dropping by. It is always so nice to hear from you!


  10. Wanted to say that the style of your blog is awesome. The pictures look like something from a cool stop motion film half the time. JUST LOVE IT. Second, as someone who writes so much about T.S., I am really struggling with some of the more Aspie aspects of my son’s personality these days. I need to get him diagnosed and really need support. Your idea to contact our local TSA chapter was a great one. Thank you. I look forward to reading you more. Please know, on dark days, that your words are a light to others in the well. Write on!

    1. Andrea,

      I appreciate all the kind words and encouragement! I work quite hard on each post and it tickles me when someone enjoys it. I am highly influenced by stop-motion animation (Jan Svankmajer!), so I am doubly thrilled that you noticed my homage!

      Asperger’s and TS together can really keep you on your toes. The hardest part for me is adapting fluidly to changing situations. I like having “recipes” that work since thinking on my feet is challenging. My greatest piece of wisdom: subtract 3-4 years from your child’s age to come up with appropriate emotional/social expectations. It might be an oversimplification, but it eased our entire household.

      I am grateful you took the time to write me such a lovely comment. I do have dark days, and when I visit my blog, I turn to words like yours for cheer. Thank you!

      Lori D.

  11. This post is such a great reminder. Thank you for sharing this! I know some people who would have just told her what they thought. It’s so hard to just be accepting of others and not always voice our opinion.

    Now I will be wondering if I have ever put on too much perfume…..

    1. Great validity exists in speaking out for yourself! I tend to think and rethink a dozen times because it is so hard for me to put together words. It’s a blessing and a curse! I always wonder about myself, if I should have said something, or kept quiet. It’s mental static, I reckon! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with me!


    1. And I am struggling to say thank you, because kind comments mean much more to me than many could know. Thank you for the strong dose of validation.

      Lori D.

  12. What a thoughtful post. I will definitely be thinking about this as I’m out and about now, examining how I view others. Every person is special and unique and all deserve respect. Thank you for the reminder today.

  13. This is such a lovely, honest and touching post that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It just shows how easily we as humans judge each other, but at least you could move past the judgement to see a person. Thank you for posting!

  14. This didn’t make me want to cry…I am on the verge of …tears! I’m glad you chose to smile at her in the end…that’s what made all the difference!
    wonderful post!

  15. I think it’s awesome that you found a way to connect with her non-verbally…sometimes that is all it takes to bridge the autism social gap.

    1. Communication can be overwhelming because there are so many factors to consider and process. A glance and a smile can be very powerful. Thank you for taking a moment to connect with me!


  16. As a queer person struggling to find room in his life for people who are decidedly not pro-queer… this hits home. In a lot of ways. Thank you very much for sharing your experience.

    1. Thank you Khai! I just visited your blog and enjoyed the lovely pictures! I can’t fathom what it is like to have others deny your identity, lifestyle, or love–especially if they are related to you. I send you my respect and well-wishes as you make room for others.

      Lori D.

  17. I saw your like on my sink post and motored on over to visit and am I glad I did. What a perfect little vignette, the description so vivid I can see the nice (and fragrant) lady myself. And, of course, we all ought to be less reactive and more accepting…..working on it.

    1. Hello Jan! Thank you for visiting. I appreciate the kind words and empathy. Your photo is so sweet, I imagine you as being twenty degrees of accepting! 🙂


  18. I loved reading this, it’s so easy to judge and feel annoyed when we don’t pause and see. It made me feel sad and happy as a reminder to be present and acknowledge each person who enters our shared space. Judge not and give the gift of your smile, we never know what’s behind the mask, be it a fragrance or lipstick mask. Thank you for this beautiful piece of writing 😉

    1. Thank you for taking a moment to share with me. I especially like this: “be present and acknowledge each person who enters our shared space.” This is excellent advice for any part of one’s life!

      1. As I grow in mindset and age I realise how many of us are struggling and the importance of self care and listening to others , it’s a crazy world we live in but for most of us we simply want love xx your writing is wonderful thank you for that gift!

  19. That was absolutely amazing, it made me see how acceptance in a whole different way and, I found this entire blog very inspiring. Especially the ending, it was such a small action yet it seems to speak volumes. You’re a truly wonderful person and blogger. Have a nice day!

    1. Thank you for bookmarking me! I enjoy the thought of writing something another would revisit. Tolerance, forgiveness, acceptance not only help others, but they make the inside of your own mind much sweeter.


  20. This touched me greatly, as I find I don’t deal as well in public places as I did years ago. I often need to remind myself the person who is irritating me, isn’t really doing anything more than being themselves. It is my issues that are truly irritating me. Not them.

    1. I am glad to have reached you. Everybody needs to give compassion since we never know when we will require it ourselves. Thank you for commenting.


  21. I get that way when standing in line or driving in heavy traffic, very judgmental of the people who are “annoying” me. I just did it this morning; thought ugly thoughts of the grandmother who kept entering my “shopping zone” because we were looking at the same things, the older woman in front of me at the register who kept me waiting longer than I cared to, the lady behind me yapping on her phone, the driver of the car in front of me in the parking lot. The problem isn’t them – it’s me. I’m introverted and short-tempered. We really all should be more patient with each other.

    1. I understand you. My mom is a stick of dynamite in some situations–frustration makes her boil over. Wisdom is looking inside yourself and taking responsibility for how you feel and react, or at least knowing yourself and aspiring to be kinder. I appreciate you taking the time to write me. Thanks!


    1. Thank you. I often find I lose the ability to speak sensibly when I feel emotional. Perhaps it is why I spend so much time thinking! I appreciate your visit!


  22. Thought provoking post about acceptance. I think at least 90% of society is in a perpetual state of judgement regarding others, if they don’t speak, move, emotion, talk, care, write, think like us…GOOD RIDDANCE. But I think it’s an act of grace to slow down, to make that willful shift. I wasn’t there so I don’t know all that you experienced, but via this post I feel through what you’ve described and it is a great reminder. To take a deep breath and give a person a chance.

    You’re right. Assail ideas, not individuals. *Thank-you.*

    1. Thank you very much for reblogging and sharing my post. I appreciate what you say, it does seem like so much of the time we are willing to condemn others. It is vital to mentally switch places and to give consideration. I am so pleased with the many positive responses I have gotten. The world is filled with beautiful people.


      1. You’re quite welcome Lori. And I agree you’ve gotten many positive responses to your post. There are some beautiful people about, indeed, some.. 🙂

  23. Excellent post. The way you described the situation is really good. If there’s something I could write it down from this article, it’s “Cutting away people who smell too strongly, talk too loudly, or twitch too often can evolve into intolerance on a grander scale.”

  24. Gosh I have been there so many times getting all angry because I was so sure that the offensive person got up that morning planning how to ruin my day! I love your imagery!

  25. Interesting POV. How often do I write people off because of something that should be no big deal and maybe to them its everything. Side note – every morning when I walk into the office I can tell if my service guy has been there before me because his body wash is VERY STRONG! Not bad smelling but kinda like Europe (drenched). Could be pregnancy nose. – the wifey

    1. Ahhh, pregnancy nose! I smile because I could smell bacon a mile away when I was expecting. It is strange when fragrance ghosts linger long behind their owner. I also totally get the European fragrance reference–I’ve visited France before. When you step off the plane they hand you a bottle of cologne! Thanks for visiting with me and giving me a giggle!


  26. thanks. I have fibromyalgia, with its sensitivity to smells, light sometimes, blah blah. But until I read your sensitively written post, I had not thought well of highly perfumed folk. Eye opened, thanks.

    1. I enjoy learning that I have touched someone. Living with fibromyalgia takes great strength. I can understand how assailed you must feel by perfumes and appreciate the new connections you have made. Thank you for sharing with me.


  27. Reblogged this on and commented:
    If I deny judging people, I am lying plain and simple. Purposely or unknowingly we do it all the time, in someone’s simple actions we tend to profess his ethos and stamp him with an image that becomes irrevocable with time. As we now begin to find a imaginary pattern in the other person’s actions to strengthen our inference, fostering a gloomy delight and a sense of accomplishment.
    I see it everywhere from journalism to people you thought knew you well. But truly there is nothing that entitles me to judge anyone (even Arnab Goswami :P) – everyone is fighting a different battle, everyone is struggling through things unknown to me; I am ignorant and in no way superior to anyone of them.
    I think best we can do is TRY to be compassionate and embrace a person as he is.

    1. I appreciate the reblog and the thought you put into your comment. You are right, we all judge people, sometimes, it seems as automatic as breathing. I often feel much of my life is a reverie, a mental musing on other’s intentions, especially since I find it hard to speak to others. Building up images of others can be positive when we use compassion and imagine them as us. Maybe that is the gateway to true compassion.

      Thank you again for your thoughtful and well-wrought response.


  28. “Assail ideas, not individuals.” I love this. Closely related to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” And I imagined the woman as the one on the image. 😛

    1. Ha! I never made that connection! But the quote is so familiar that it had to be floating around in the back of my mind. I went through pages of portraits before I selected the one above to alter. This woman was so like the lady at the bakery, both in face and spirit. I think it was the eyes. thank you for visiting with me!


  29. Thank you for sharing, sometimes all that is needed is an act of kindness to demonstrate an amends. Good for you, I love your awareness and the ability to be kind.

  30. HI Lori, that line in your post about it being an act of camaraderie and not hostility just really got me. You really painted a picture of the entire incident. We sometimes forget to look for the meaning in people’s actions because we get in our own way. I do it all the time and then agonise over it. This really is a lovely, thoughtful post and I loved reading it. Thank you.

    1. We have in common that we agonize and revisit our actions. It’s a good thing to always wonder what could be better next time. I appreciate your kind words and the time you took to share your thoughts.


  31. Have you ever noticed somebody walking your way who has a different color skin, or ears that are pierced with huge holes and rings in their nose, eyebrows, lips, etc.? Did you immediately prepare to avoid this person? Only to have them bid you the friendlies

    1. When I see differences, I am drawn in. Perhaps because I am autistic and I have been different all my life. In an odd way, that makes normal different!

  32. OMG! This post totally relates to my situation right now. There are just too many people in my house (which is unusual) and I feel annoyed by every little action of theirs. I swear, if it wasn’t for this post, I’d have to live another week with total intolerance to the silly and annoying actions of my extended family. This post of yours has in some way changed my perspective..hoping to have a better time with them at dinner (which is only 30 minutes away). Whatever was the motive of this post, thanks a bunch! 🙂

    1. I am glad to have improved your day! Never underestimate the pressures of having a crowded home space. It can be absolutely maddening. I’ve found myself irritable with house guests (family) over ridiculous things. I need a great deal of personal space. I hope your situation lightens!


  33. A lovely story indeed. I am too guilty of snapping and walking away, brandishing dagger stares as I depart.

    Shall remind myself to try to do the same and not be easily agitated. A tad of graciousness goes a long way!

    1. I appreciate you connecting with me. Dagger stares rarely evolve in a vacuum. That makes taking a breath and trying harder even more valuable. Thank you.


  34. Beautiful to read. Glad to see this on Freshly pressed. Indeed. Too often we forget to see the other person beyond the stuff we find distasteful….

  35. One of the most beautiful things I’ve read in a while. As a nervous introvert who often finds comfort in my own company, I can really relate to this. Stunning writing, really.

  36. “Assail ideas, not individuals.” – Words I will definitely have to keep reminding myself in times like the ones you have depicted. Well written and heartfelt!

  37. Well said…

    Most of our tensions are due to intolerance in our behaviors. We can make this world happy if we convince ourselves to tolerate others. Tolerance to accept others will make them to accept us.

    Intolerance is injustice; to ourselves and to the humanity.

    1. Beautiful sentiments. I agree with you completely. “Intolerance is injustice; to ourselves and to the humanity.” Excellent quote. Thank you for taking the time to share with me.


      1. Thank you for the compliments on my quote. In fact, tolerance is just like nucleus for a peaceful society. As long as you maintain tolerating others, happiness will keep on evolving in synergy and rhythm with others happiness. As you go away from nucleus, there are good chances that one day you will get out from the orbit of happiness.

  38. Reblogged this on میرے لیۓ اللہ ہی کافی ہے and commented:
    Well said…

    Most of our tensions are due to intolerance in our behaviors. We can make this world happy if we convince ourselves to tolerate others. Tolerance to accept others will make them to accept us.

    Intolerance is injustice; to ourselves and to the humanity.

      1. Cruelty of time has made us too materialistic. Otherwise, every one of us has a soul which is very near to the Nature; the Nature which is all loving. As soon as someone or an event reminds us something natural, our inner sense recalls our natural beauty; love others, get loved. Thank you for reminding us so nicely.

  39. That was a beautiful post. I have often avoided talking to people by giving them labels like ‘too loud’, ‘too annoying’, ‘too arrogant’. My fear of acceptance keeps me from accepting others.

    1. Thank you. I understand fear quite well, it can be such a crushing pressure, compelling you to defend yourself. It’s hard to be accepting when you feel squashed. I am glad to have quiet moments to connect with others. They build over time.


  40. You hit the nail on the head. I struggle in this department too. Irritation seems to be part of my temperament. I’m trying to develop more patience – it’s nice to know I’m not alone!

  41. Reblogged this on Love, Change & the Whole Damned Thing… and commented:
    This is an amazing piece that exposes a struggle that I suspect many of us feel. It is an inside look about the quickness with which we jump to conclusions. I know I’m guilty and I know I need to view people through a more patient lens. I couldn’t have said it any better than this!

  42. Very few I have come across who accept what they felt they should not have done, least of all correct it the very moment… Applause for you did both!!

    Would love to know more of your humanly-compassionate moments, for I am sure, I will learn an ocean of sentiments that we so easily overlook!!

    1. Thank you very much. I have time on my side, experience, as they say to “know better. I’ve written for years and will see what special thing I can share with you.


  43. I can totally relate to this, but sometimes I wonder if they know how strong their perfume is. Makes my judgements a little less aggressive if I remember to keep everything in perspective. Great post! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I have always wonder what is “wrong” with perfume lovers, and then suspected it was entirely me! The balance is in between, but I shall work to be more accepting.


  44. I wanted to thank you for this post. I am guilty myself for being quick to anger when someone is considered “in my way”. This post reminds me that I’m not the only on this earth, and that I shouldn’t be so quick to say someone off because of indifference of another individual. I think your smile and kind gesture said what your mouth couldn’t. 🙂 great read.

  45. My message is—Do more than tolerate—embrace the other person (in your mind) show compassion and understanding. Then again maybe more businesses could set a policy of scent free for allergy sufferers and those on the Autism scale. Schools should definitely set policy.

  46. This was absolutely lovely. Thank you for sharing your realizations. 🙂 Now, if we could just teach the so-called “normal” people HALF this much grace, I wouldn’t walk around work wanting to throttle people. And I don’t have any social issues!
    Sorry, didn’t mean to be negative. I just wish that we as humans could recognize the human in others more often. It wasa beautiful post, and you are very brave to bare your soul like this!

    1. Not negative at all! I understand your frustration. Understanding another person’s humanity is one of the most important life lessons and sometimes the hardest to learn. Thank you for taking a moment to share with me!


  47. Reblogged this on Anu's blog and commented:
    It is an art to relate a positive thought without making it sound like you’re doing just that. Well, the writer here surely has a knack for it. The post had a message that touched my heart without my realizing. Hope it does the same to you. 🙂

  48. lovely post! ive been put off by strong perfumery before only to realize that it was an elderly woman wearing it who probably couldn’t smell the fragrance well/ tell how much she was wearing! my mother once explained the “old people smell” to me that way… their senses dilapidate.

    1. Yes! That is a good point. I was amazed to realize that “old people smell” is a real phenomenon–an actual chemical change that occurs in the elderly. Also, the sense of smell can deteriorate as well! Thanks for taking a moment to share that with me!


  49. You’re right, it is so easy to judge others, but I’m so glad that you took a second to put it in perspective and to reconcile your true feelings with your behaviour. We must always remember that the attitude and vibe we give off to those around us is more contagious than any disease and has a ripple effect. By smiling and holding the door, you may have changed her whole day, and in turn she could have changed others. You have a really lovely way of writing and describing 🙂

    1. I love this: “We must always remember that the attitude and vibe we give off to those around us is more contagious than any disease and has a ripple effect” I agree with you so much! My son is autistic, and when he has a “moment” I have found that my demeanor sets the tone for all around us.

      I like the thought of having made her day a better one. To be a link in a chain of kindnesses is very fulfilling. Thank you for making a kind link in my day with your thoughtful comment.


  50. Wow. Magic. I recently wrote a piece about a nephew of mine with Down syndrome. where I tried to get people to stop calling him disabled but rather to use the word handicapped. It is obvious your Autism is not a disability. (I don’t know how to post a smiley face. Consider it’s here)

    1. Thank you for sharing with me. The disability community can be very particular about the terms used to refer to its members. The most important thing is what the person himself wants. Thank you for the smiley face and the moment you took to share with me. (ta-dah -> ) 🙂

  51. So powerful and true. I myself as a black woman find myself on the defense all the time when I vacation In places outside my comfort zone. I am on vacation in westbrook and my family are the only people of color here right now. I went to the gym yesterday and there was a woman who kept staring at me and the two boys. I hardened my face thinking she dissaproved of us. When we ended up on the bike side by side where we could see through the glass window of the pool where the boys were having a great time, she bent over and said to me with a genuine smile ,” I don’t think you are going to get the boys out of the pool today, they are having an amazing time.” She further went on to tell me how much she enjoys seeing kids being able to be free and be themselves. Though I responded with a smile, It felt stiff as I I felt guilty in assuming she was not pleased to see people of color there. She was just enjoying the playfulness and laughter of the kids. The fact is, life experiences shape us and unfortunately robs us of building positive relationships with good people whether in friendships or intimate relationships.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I am sad to know the burden you bear on vacations, because that should be a carefree, fun time. You said, “life experiences shape us and unfortunately robs us of building positive relationships.” This is an painful truth put eloquently. It hurts to imagine how others behave to build defensiveness in others. I wish I could wipe it away. I am proud to have made a connection with you here. I appreciate your outreach and thoughtful words.


  52. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My daughter is a beautiful girl with autism, now studying in college. I hear her voice in your writing.

    I have written about her in my blog: Tripping Over Cancer. I hope you don’t mind me reblogging this extraordinary piece. Following you.

  53. Yes we all do it, but if we could learn not to judge a cover until we have read the book than we have a chance to understand what the other person might be going through and we can be helpful, you know just a smile, a kind word, or giving another person a hand when they are down – we never know when we ourselves might need a helping hand!

  54. I am well aware of my inclination to get upset with people in busy places, such as supermarkets, coffee shops, parking lots, etc., especially where the rules of common courtesy are flagrantly neglected in lieu of “me first”. I tend to avoid such places as much as possible, or plan my patronage during less busy times of day. Some people simply don’t know that what they are doing is irritating to someone else, because no one has told them so.

    My son shows the same inclination, and hasn’t yet adeptly learned to deal with his feelings in an appropriate way, or to find a mechanism to provide comfort. He ends up being the one everyone stares at for an outburst in a public place out-of-line with the circumstances. The people staring don’t understand that he has an anxiety disorder. They see a kid out of control.

    Finding the comfort level in between becoming a hermit and diving into the deep end is a difficult task, even if someone believes they are a tolerant person.

  55. Wow. You got me.
    “It is easy, instinctive even, to divide the world into smaller and smaller pieces to protect yourself. Cutting away people who smell too strongly, talk too loudly, or twitch too often can evolve into intolerance on a grander scale. Assail ideas, not individuals”

  56. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! This was a lovely post and the comments have been great!

    One of the comments talked about “empathy and understanding”.

    That extra empathy and understanding costs us nothing, really. I try to live in such a way that gives others the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the clerk who is rude to me is being abused at home and feels trapped … maybe the person who cut me off in traffic is trying to make it to the hospital to say goodbye to a parent who is dying. We really don’t know what is going on in people’s lives, but definitely everyone is going through something. Being kind is free, but it takes practice.

    Just for clarification, I said I *try to live this way – I don’t often succeed, but it is one of my life goals. Stumble on!

  57. Enjoyed this very much…. Interestingly I wrote a blog this week called smelly cheese and a pair of scissors which resulted from an unexpected encounter too…. Different and similar!

  58. Women become more understanding after 50 something. See-Pause-think -analyze-act. These processes take time to get set into the mind since these are acquired reflexes. Developing tolerance is also a Skill……:)

  59. Simply beautiful, I wish more of us were able to catch and correct ourselves. So glad you made the effort to end it on a warm smile. A wonderful read.

  60. I love this quiet insight. I’ve been there too, judging someone for something, not stopping to think until later that I’ve been both unkind and unfair in doing so. There are so many battles that I don’t know about raging inside of others that it’s become a goal of mine to just be kind and assume the best about everyone until proven wrong. I’d rather assume someone is ignorant in their irritability than purposeful about it.

  61. This is the kind of writing I was looking for when I joined WordPress. Your description of the woman made her come alive. I’ve met people just like her. Love that you tried to make amends. I sometimes have to remind myself to do the same thing. Much easier to stay mad, but not nearly as satisfying in the long run.

  62. Lori – I loved your words (thank you Freshly Pressed) – and then the comments and conversation below taught me so much more. What an incredible connection you caused with this piece. And what a beautiful connection for so many – like me. Thank you!!

  63. This is one of the most pleasing posts I’ve read in a long time. It was so warm and human, not only because you overcame your intolerance and made a genuine, though small, connection to the perfumed woman, but because this incident was one that I (and I suppose almost everyone) can identify with. Wow!