Content Writing and Copywriting Portfolio

You’ll find all kinds of published writing here, but I also have many years of copywriting, content writing, and marketing for employers and clients under my belt.

As copywriter for FamilyCare, a coordinated care organization (CCO) in Oregon, I was responsible for internal copywriting, client-focused content writing, and social media copy. Writing was also essential to the marketing roles I held prior to that—from other social media accounts to radio and print ads, infographics, press releases, product descriptions, and other forms of communication.

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Additionally, the following is a sampling of SEO-focused writing done while working with content marketing agencies in 2019. JEMSU had me writing webcopy for a variety of businesses, while Foottraffik focused on content writing for cannabis businesses. (To navigate, press ctrl+F to open finder and paste the title you’d like to read.)

Copywriting/Webcopy (JEMSU)
TEBO Store Fixtures Homepage
LawnTech Homepage
Savignon Interiors Homepage
Colorado Family Dentistry
NisonCo Cannabis Press Relations

Content Writing/SEO Articles (Foottraffik)
Why It’s Better to Get Your CBD Oil from a Dispensary
What is Ocimene
Cannabis for Muscle Spasms and MS
Cannabis Concentrates: What They Are & How to Use Them



A Store That Makes Customers Want to Stay

Outfitting your store is more than just finding ways to hang your products, it’s about creating an environment that your customers will want to spend time in. Tebo Store Fixtures provides merchandising equipment that uses creativity and innovation to make your retail environment appealing and user-friendly. And whether you’re a first-time business owner or a seasoned veteran, we can help you display your goods in a way that encourages customers to stay…and shop

We’re a retail design expert and outfitter who’s proud to service a broad range of customers from around the world. With our expansive in-stock selection at our Denver, Colorado warehouse, we’ve got what you need at our fingertips – display cases, digital signage, fixtures, display walls – all the retail store fixtures to equip your store like a pro. And no matter what type of business you are, after over 50 years of providing retail store supplies; we’re probably going to know just what kind of merchandising fixtures you need.

Fixtures that Sell

Tebo Store Fixtures’ retail design specialists provide revenue-producing solutions. We’re armed with an understanding of consumer behavior and market trends, helping us support retailers in creating engaging experiences for their customers. Our mission is to provide you with quality display supplies that best showcase your products – not ours. How can we use store fixture equipment to highlight your selection today?

We Carry: Display cases, digital signage, slatwall, gridwall, apparel, jewelry supplies, store supplies, fixtures, gondola shelving, acrylic, and merchandising supplies for specialty shops.

Trust and Competency

At Tebo, serving our clients to the utmost standard is nothing new. We’ve been at it since 1968, that’s five decades of helping businesses present themselves with the best store fixtures possible – and people have noticed. Many of our featured clients are household names, like Puma, Warner Bros, Dish, Post Cereal, 4 Wheels, Verizon, and Crocs. 

We’re also there for you when you need us. We keep a huge inventory on-hand, enabling us to serve the Denver area ASAP with free pickup. For those ordering from this website, orders ship same day if ordered before noon on a weekday. It’s important to us that you have what you need when you need it. In addition to fixtures, displays, packaging, and merchandise; we consider ourselves to be in the business of customer service. 

No Matter Your Industry If You’re in Retail, We’ve got you Covered

Whether you are a start-up or a flagship, a supermarket or restaurant, a boutique or multinational chain, our experienced team will guide you from the inception of your vision to opening day. We love serving a large range of businesses and open our arms to industries of all kinds – including the cannabis industry. 

Creating a successful retail environment is a challenging task with many moving wheels, and you don’t have to do it alone. Give yourself the gift of relief today. Stop by our Denver warehouse, or call (720) 571-0403 to start creating a space your customers don’t want to leave.


You deserve a sanctuary, let LawnTech help.

Your home is your kingdom. It should be a place of sanctuary, not endless to-do lists. And when at work, you need to be focused on the job – not making your space appears professional. At LawnTech we take our lawn and home care services very seriously, knowing that the outcome impacts our client’s lives; and making sure that it’s a positive one. 

We have been in the lawn and home care services business since 1977, and we apply these four-plus decades of expertise to every project we take on. Whether your needs are residential or commercial, we value quality work and customer satisfaction. We get the job done right, efficiently, as well as affordably. And our trustworthy team ensures that it’s completed with professionalism and friendly service, done in a way that’s eco-friendly. 

And you can also rely on us – if any concerns do arise, know they will be addressed promptly and with attention to detail. We know that providing exceeding customer service is key to running a successful business. Providing all of our clients with quality work on a weekly basis is our goal, we aim for quality at every turn. 

Masters of Lawn and Home Care Service

We are masters of lawn maintenance in Denver, offering: lawn mowing, aeration, maintenance, fertilizing, landscaping, sprinkler systems, and more. We partner with quality local professionals and our staff is professionally trained and certified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. In addition to providing Denver with superior lawn care services, we also provide: roof and gutter cleaning, power raking, general clean-up, as well as the removal of snow, leaves, and pet waste.

Whether you’re a homeowner, renter, or come from the commercial sphere; you can trust us to get the job done right. Let go of worries and know the peace of a well-kept environment, call LawnTech today at (303) 502-9441, email – or read on for more details about our services. 

Expertise You Can Trust 

Hiring someone to care for your home or office is different than hiring a business to design a website. When people are caring for the spaces where you have your most treasured family memories and professional milestones, it’s important to hire a team that knows trustworthiness is a crucial part of the job. 

LawnTech is a locally-owned, family-operated company that has proudly served the Denver community for over 40 years. We were started by Greg Hegarty in 1977, who is now joined by his wife Sherry; and their sons, Joey, Michael, and Christian, who are active in the day-to-day operations of the company. And the rest of our staff is truly an extension of the Hegarty family, we believe this is essential to our decades of success.

Another key factor to our success is commitment to training and professionalism. We are, of course, licensed and insured as well as being eco-friendly. Our staff is also professionally trained and certified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Additionally, we partner with Green Industries of Colorado, AGFINITY, Pioneer Sand Company, ScienTurfic, and Alameda Wholesale Nursery to offer you industry-leading products and services.

When you hire LawnTech, you’re hiring a trusted team that cares. We want you to enjoy your beautiful, professionally manicured home and garden; without any worry of how it came to look so good. Our customer service philosophy is to put your needs first as a client, and it shows.

As a final act of trustworthiness, we guarantee total satisfaction on all services.

LawnTech Knows Lawns.

At LawnTech we know that lawn maintenance is so much more than running the lawn mower sporadically. We are passionate about lawn care services and have been learning the tricks of the trade for over 40 years. As a result, we offer a specially curated and expansive range of lawn services. Maintaining the appearance, health and vigor of your lawn requires special care in Denver’s arid climate – let us handle it.

Lawn Mowing: Keep your grass fresh and healthy with our weekly lawn mowing service. This inclusive service includes mowing, trimming, and edging, as well as cleaning sidewalks and driveways.

Aeration: Aeration controls and prevents water run-off, dry spots and certain diseases. It also stimulates root growth by allowing water, nutrients and oxygen to reach the grass roots.

Fertilization: We know that fertilization is key to having a beautiful lawn, and our intensive and careful plan ensures that it’s done right, from pre-emergent phases down to weed control.

Sprinkler Systems: Proper water is essential to having an exquisite yard. Specialists will design and install highest-quality professional systems, as well as providing expert repair and maintenance services.

Landscaping: Our landscape architects will work with you to add dimension and depth to your yard, creating the lawn and garden you’ve always envisioned!

Gardening/Weeding: This year when spring weeds begin to rear their ugly heads, call on team LawnTech to remove them, amend the soil, and add mulch to keep your gardens healthy and looking their best.

Sodding: Lawn technicians will tear out the old sod at your home or office, prepare the soil, and install new sod.

Tree Planting: Looking to add some foliage to your yard? Look no further! LawnTech will plant any type of tree or shrubbery you’d like.

Trimming: Are your hedges or bushes beginning to look overgrown, spilling over sidewalks, fences or roofs? Technicians will prune and shape hedges, shrubs, and small trees to make them not only look better but improve their overall health and longevity.

…But we’re so much more.

In addition to providing Denver with superior lawn care services, we also provide: roof and gutter cleaning, power raking, general clean-up, as well as the removal of snow, leaves, and pet waste.

You can rely on LawnTech to provide the feeling of peace and tranquility known when entering your freshly cleaned home or office. Your time is so important, we’ll help you find balance with it; allowing you to focus on the things that are important to you.

We’re also happy to work with your individual needs, schedules, and lifestyles; offering customized cleaning packages so we can serve you best.

Get Started Today

When you partner with LawnTech, you’re getting thoughtful care that’s been honed with experience since 1977. Winter, spring, summer, or fall – we are here to keep your grass green, garden thriving, yard leaf-free, and your driveway clear of snow.

You deserve an environment that you love to work and live in. Contact us today to get started.


The Answer to Your Interior Design Needs  

You deserve a space that speaks to who you are as an individual or brand, while also creating an ambiance that soothes and inspires – and Denver’s Savignon Interiors can bring your unique vision to life. We know that entrusting someone with the interior design of your home or workspace is a big deal; and we’re honored to have pleased our clients, in Colorado and beyond, for nearly 20 years. 

Our Fearless Leader  

Team Savignon is led by Gabriela, who has a formal graduate-level design education. She was trained at UC Berkeley in Interior Architecture as well by well-respected educators around the world. Before returning to Colorado, she traveled extensively and lived abroad for many years; enriching her palette and taste for unique elements. In addition to her native English, she is fluent in Spanish, French, and Italian – enabling her to participate in exclusive international projects. 

She now brings this worldy experience to the Denver metro area, with a distinctive international flair to her design. She and the rest of us on the Savignon team also participate in ongoing training and visits to national and international tradeshows. We’re also members of the Association for Interior Designers, a partnership that helps keep us accountable and trained as well on top of industry trends.

We’ve Got You Covered from Remodeling to Accessories  

Our experience helps ensure that you remain worry-free, and that mistakes aren’t made. We’ll handle everything; from structure to window treatment, and from furniture to products. We offer residential and commercial design and architecture, including: 

  • Remodeling – We offer kitchen remodels and bathroom remodels as well remodeling other spaces in need of transformation. Our team has the creativity and know-how to create a space that fits how you live while reflecting your personal style.
  • Space Planning – How a room is arranged is crucial to its design success. We’ll ensure that the room’s needs and functions are taken into consideration; and done so beautifully, comfortably, tastefully, and gracefully.
  • New Construction – We’re knowledgeable about the construction and remodeling process, as well as the people and products involved. We collaborate with allied professionals to confirm that preliminary space plans and design concepts are safe, functional, and aesthetically appropriate. 
  • Color Consultation – Choosing color has as much to do with light, scale, and architecture as it does materials and furnishings. Let us take the guesswork out of color selection – making finding the perfect hue easy, and even fun. 
  • Hunter Douglas Authorized Dealer – We’re proud to offer their luxurious window treatments with features like: energy-efficiency, automation, unparalleled quality, and, of course, beautiful and unique designs.

A Partner You Can Trust  

At Savignon Interiors we know that you are very busy, but also concerned about the important and costly decisions involved with interior design and architecture. We go the extra mile to ensure that your project is completed to utmost standards, making your investment a valuable one. 

This is the space where you’ll grow your business, host memorable dinner parties, or bathe your children – this project needs to be right, and we’ll make certain that it is. Our proven results and boutique approach to customer service keep our clients returning, and we’re sure you’ll be just as pleased.

Start a conversation about your project today: (925) 872-9710.


Crowns and Bridges

At Colorado Family Dentistry, your happiness and health are our highest priorities. The dental health of Lakewood is our passion, and we take this responsibility to our community seriously. We’re led by Dr. Julia Kasper, who’s been practicing for over a decade and has earned fellowship status with the American Society of Implant and Reconstructive Dentistry, something only 5% of dentists have achieved nationwide.

Dr. Kasper and the highly skilled team at Colorado Family dentistry make sure to stay abreast on the latest dental technology and practices; ensuring you’re in capable hands when you choose us. We’ll also keep you in the loop, educating you on the services rendered and how to keep your smile healthy in the future. Two of such services are dental crowns and bridges. Read on to learn more, or schedule your appointment today.


Dental crowns are used to restore teeth by encasing the entire tooth to bring it to the desired size, shape, and color. They are tough and resilient, enabling them to fix teeth in situations where fillings cannot. This is a solution with multiple purposes as your crown will prolong the life of the tooth by making it stronger, in addition to solving your original problem. 

Some such problems:

  • Fractures and Broken Teeth: It’s a rough day when you break or damage a tooth. We’ll get you looking and feeling good as new, and we’ll do so with care.
  • Decay and Rot: When your tooth has been damaged by decay, we’ll get it out of there and restore the space thoroughly.
  • Filling Replacement: Crowns are stronger than fillings, and are a great replacement for fillings that have started failing, leaking, or breaking.
  • Function/Bite: When your mouth doesn’t quite bite like it ought to, we can use crowns to even it out or build up worn areas.
  • Root Canals: When a root canal is done, it’s important to use a crown to seal out infection and prevent tooth breakage.
  • Cracks: Like in your car windows, a crack is likely to indicate a future fracture is coming for you. We’ll prevent that fracture and the damage it would have caused.
  • Severely Worn Teeth: Sometimes damage is a slow fade. We’ll restore your smile to its original facade.
  • Aesthetics: We can change the color, size, and shape of your teeth; giving you the smile that you’ve always dreamed about.


Dental bridges are an excellent solution when one or more teeth cannot be restored. They consist of two crowns that are attached to artificial teeth, or pontics, that fill the empty space. Bridges are usually made of porcelain fused to metal, but they also can be made entirely out of gold. They are cemented in place and not removable, a long-lasting tooth replacement.

Reasons for a Dental Bridge:

  • Fill spaces created by missing teeth.
  • Ensure that teeth still present stay in position – 
  • And in doing so, maintain the shape of your face. 
  • Restore or maintain your ability to properly chew and speak.
  • Get you enjoying your smile again!

What to Expect 

While getting crowns takes two appointments, getting a bridge may require more. Either way, the first appointment will involve your getting several highly-detailed impressions that will be used to create your custom crown. After impressions are made, you will be carefully numbed and Dr. Kasper will prepare the tooth by removing decay and shaping the surface of your tooth to properly fit the crown.

Then we’ll use those impressions to create temporary crowns, false teeth (or pontics), and bridges as needed; which will stay in place until your custom-made pieces have been finished to satisfaction by a dental laboratory. We’ll place your temporary crown or crowns, and bridges if needed, making sure that you are biting properly. After 2-3 weeks for crowns, and 3 weeks if you also need bridges; you’ll come back in and we’ll get you cleaned up and cemented with your permanent custom-made crown(s) and/or bridges.

Our Knowledgeable Team is Here for You

During every step of this process, you can expect to be treated with impeccable care and thoughtful attention at Colorado Family Dentistry. Our goal is to help our patients have mouths that are healthy and free from: decay, gum disease, cancer, and pain. This, in turn, allows our patients to achieve overall health of their bodies. You’ll be amazed at the personal and comprehensive dental care you receive at our family-oriented office.

A Colorado Family Dentistry, we strive to create an atmosphere that is fun, friendly, and clean. And for crowns, bridges, or any of our other services; you can count on our caring team to work hard to ensure that your experience is professional, comfortable, and consistent – doing our part to change people’s perception of the dentist from something negative to something positive. 

We look forward to caring for your family! Schedule your appointment today.


Welcome to NisonCo Cannabis Press Relations

Choosing a public relations agency means selecting the people who will share your brand with the world. And when you’re in the cannabis industry, PR becomes especially important as you’re dealing with legal complications, stigma, and a sensitive burgeoning new industry. You and your team have worked hard, and it’s important that the impression you communicate is a positive one. 

When you trust NisonCo with this crucial responsibility, you can rest easy knowing that your cannabis PR is in good hands with our marijuana communications experts. We serve the gamut of businesses who could need marijuana PR: dispensaries, products, tech companies, hemp and CBD businesses, cannabis manufacturers, ancillary/accessory industries, and anyone else who might benefit from our services.

What We Do

We know that you’ve put care into establishing your business and we’ll help you take that impression to the next level. We offer a wide range of services that enable our clients to increase sales, brand awareness, and thought leadership within the cannabis industry. With NisonCo, you can:

  • Develop a PR strategy
  • Receive cannabis PR consulting
  • Outreach to relevant reporters and reviewers via our our proprietary database
  • Take media training
  • Receive assistance in applying for awards
  • Benefit from cannabis email marketing 
  • Develop a tandem social media strategy
  • Have content created
  • Distribute press releases 
  • Identify, secure and promote speaking engagements at premiere conferences and industry events

We’re passionate about the environment, and additionally provide:

  • Sustainable Industry PR
  • Green Tech PR
  • Green Technology PR
  • Agritech PR

We’re an Authority in Cannabis PR

We’re a team of PR specialists that’s poured their sweat, blood, and tears into the creation of the legal cannabis market; our staff has actually worked on many of the policy regulations that made the legal industry possible. Our forward-thinking and diverse staff are masters at connecting clients with industry leaders and educating on industry trends. We’re considered the “go-to” source for industry news by industry pros, whom we have long-standing relationships with.

You Can Trust Us

We know how hard you work to be ethical and elevate the cannabis industry. In addition to helping our clients continue to do so – our team is committed to the same objectives ourselves, and highly involved in cannabis advocacy. These values carry over to how we do business. We’re committed to honesty and transparency, it’s built into everything we do. (And since we’ve grown exponentially by word of mouth alone, it seems our clients appreciate it…) 

We won’t try to upsell unnecessary services or provide dishonest metrics – some firms will try to sell you on things like crisis communications for an additional $10k a month, but you won’t find that nonsense at NisonCo. Everything about PR is included in our retainer. We also have an all-remote team that hustles until the job is done; without the constraints of an office, we’re able to start our work day on the east coast and end it on the west coast.

We’ve been in cannabis PR since 2013, making us one of the first cannabis-specific firms out there. We know what we’re doing, and we get palpable results. Many agencies lean on a slew of ambiguous metrics, but we get you published in outlets that make an impact. We ensure clients benefit from coverage to elevate the profiles of industry leaders, when appropriate. We’re experts in pitching and managing relationships, but we also receive a number of inbound requests every day. 

A Cannabis PR Approach That Works

We’re confident in our approach because we have proven results that speak for themselves. For example, our founder has been featured by Good Morning America, Bloomberg TV, New York Times, Forbes, USA Today, and others. Reach out today to see what we can do for your brand!

Content Writing/SEO Articles


Cannabidiol, or CBD, is having its day in the sun. While you’ve probably heard that it’s a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant and it is believed to do things like calm anxiety, ease pain, and help with sleep (we’re still waiting on science to sort that out) — you might not know where it’s best to buy your CBD oil. It’s quite suddenly available everywhere: from bodegas to the internet, and, luckily, at cannabis dispensaries.

All CBD products are not equal, and it’s important that you know what you’re buying. There are many factors in regard to why it’s best to buy your CBD at a dispensary near you, and we’ll cover them, making sure that you don’t wind up with a bottle of snake oil, and do get the best out of your CBD experience.

There Are Many Cannabinoids like CBD

CBD is one of many compounds from the cannabis plant that are called cannabinoids. THC is the other popular one, but there’s actually thought to be hundreds of them. The most talked-about difference between THC and CBD is that the latter won’t get you high, but there are many other non-psychoactive cannabinoids available. Though other cannabinoids might wind up in your CBD oil bought from the corner store — including psychoactive THC — you can only intentionally get access to them from dispensaries.

Your nearby Have a Heart is able to offer products specifically created to serve your body and endocannabinoid system in different ways than CBD does. For instance, if you have nerve pain, the cannabinoid THCa might be a great relief. Researchers are still unlocking the potential (and even the availability) of different cannabinoids, and we’re excited to see what they find!

The Entourage Effect: Power-up Your Plant Medicine

These other cannabinoids are kind of like members of CBD’s team, and they work better when together! There are also factors like terpenes and flavonoids involved, all playing off of one another for a synergistic effect that your body and mind will benefit from. This is also referred to as using “whole plant medicine.” 

And even a very small amount of THC is thought to enhance the entourage effect, much smaller than the amount it takes to get a person stoned. In fact, you can benefit from whole plant medicine that includes THC in small doses without having a psychoactive effect. Keep an eye out for tinctures with labels like “18:1 High CBD” if that’s something you’d like to try out.

Buying at a Dispensary Means Products are Tested

Dispensaries are also required to test their products, which means that you’ll know what you’re getting; informing you about potential whole plant medicine as well knowing that the product is safe to put in your body. When you purchase CBD from other sources, they are only subject to the same standards as supplements, which basically means “healthy until legally proven dangerous.” There’s little-to-no testing done and no standard for quality. You could be buying an-y-thing when purchasing CBD from an unregulated source. 

Getting your CBD from a dispensary means knowing exactly what you’re buying, and that it’s ok to put into your body.

Get to Know All of this Powerful Plant, and Its World

Not only can you get access to other cannabinoids and products from your nearby dispensary, but you can also gain access to an entire industry and culture. People are realizing that the power of the cannabis plant goes far beyond munchies, and it’s resulting in a wildly exciting industry and scene. Help support the legalization of this powerful plant by shopping with the people who are making sure it’s done right.


Cannabis 101: Terpenes Are Nature’s Aroma

Think of how cannabis smells. Beyond “delicious” and “skunky,” there’s a whole world of words in our lexicon to describe its fragrance. Cannabis can smell piney like a tree, earthy like the ground, citrusy in general, like specific fruits in particular, or a whole olfactory world in between. This variety in smell and taste is created by oils called terpenes, which also affect the high and therapeutic benefits of a strain or plant. Ocimene, with it’s sweet, fragrant, herbaceous, and woodsy aromas is just one of many of these compounds. (It’s also beloved by perfumers for it’s sweet herbal scent, contributing to floral notes like lily and lilac.)

Terpenes are also found throughout the plant world, giving us many of the smells known by our noses. At least 100 terpenes come from the cannabis plant, and there are actually more than 20,000 known terpenes in existence. Originally thought to deter predators, terpenes actually help a plant’s survival and evolution by attracting pollinating insects, which helps spread the species by spreading its pollen. Terpenes can also attract the predators of insect herbivores, who then eat the bugs that would otherwise nosh the plant. Isn’t evolution neat?

Terpene Magic in Cannabis

In the case of cannabis, terpenes like Ocimene are secreted from the same glands that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD. It works with those cannabinoids to create the various effects that cannabis has on humans, both in relation to the therapeutic and psychotropic experience. This teamwork is known as the ‘entourage effect’ and is a great argument for whole plant medicine.

Ocimene produces an energetic effect in cannabis, and is usually found in sativa strains. It shouldn’t be too hard to find strains high in Ocimene if you have access to a good dispensary. Strains that are often high in Ocimene are: White Fire OG, Chocolope, Dutch Treat, Super Lemon Haze, Purple Haze, Arjan’s Haze #3, Amnesia, Strawberry Cough, Golden Goat, Space Queen, or Himalayan Gold.

The Exciting Therapeutic Potentials of Ocimene 

In addition to cannabis, Ocimene is found in mint, parsley, basil, orchids, oregano, mango, mint, lavender, as well as other plants. Not a whole lot of research has been done yet, but it’s already proving to have many therapeutic benefits. It’s been shown to be anti-microbial, fighting off trouble-makers like Candida; a gut flora that’s prone to overgrowth. It’s also got great promise as an anti-viral, helping ward off SARS in this study. Another showed that Ocimene has potential as an anti-inflammatory.

It’s also an anti-congestant, helping the body expel excess mucus and phlegm; making it easier to breathe. While this is medically exciting, it also contributes to more coughing when smoking cannabis strains that are high in ocimene. Something else to note about Ocimene is that is also has a low boiling point, so use a low heat setting when vaping strains high in it to preserve the terpene’s benefits. And, as previously noted, it’s likely to give you energy; great for daytime but not bedtime.

To Sum It Up

Terpenes are a big part of why the plant world smells like it does, and cannabis is full of a variety of these aromatic oils. But they do more than make strains smell awesome, they have effects on both the high and therapeutic effects of the plant. Ocimene is going to make your herb smell sweet yet woodsy, give you an energetic boost with its high, and several therapeutic properties have already been discovered with this terpene. Enjoy!


Our muscles ought to be limber and pliable, but in many people, that’s unfortunately not the case. Muscle spasms and lack of spasticity are a problem for millions of people all over the world, making it painful and difficult to move; sometimes to the point of being completely debilitating. Luckily, we’ve got cannabis for muscle spasms and limited spasticity, with exciting progress on treating this malady.

Cannabis for Muscle Spasms and MS

Spasticity problems can happen for an array of reasons, but perhaps the biggest and most severe cause for muscle spasms and lack of spasticity is a disease called multiple sclerosis (or MS). MS is a progressive disease of the nervous system with no known cure that plagues 2.5 million people. It destroys a protective coating around the brain, brain stem, and spinal cord called the myelin sheath. This results in an array of symptoms, including loss of voluntary muscle control and spasticity.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, spasticity “refers to the stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms that are indicative of the disease.” This is a problem in 9 out of 10 MS patients, sooner or later. Some know it as mild muscle stiffness, but others endure constant ache, cramps, involuntary muscle spasms, or even paralyzation in severe cases. Sleep is hugely affected, which affects other symptoms as well.

MS and Cannabis: The Numbers Are In

In a 2012 study, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found a one-third decrease in spasticity in MS patients that consumed cannabis compared to participants given a placebo. The ability to move more is a huge deal, but it also reduced the patient’s perception of pain by 50% – far more than any other medication. 

Another study showed that 77% of subjects found cannabis helpful in managing symptoms, especially spasticity and pain. As cannabis legalization increases and stigma decreases, many more MS patients have turned to the plant for relief. 76% of respondents in one study said they’d consider using cannabis to manage their MS and 28% already are.

Other Conditions That Cause These Problems

MS is the most well-known of culprits behind spasticity problems, but other conditions can also cause spasticity issues. Some other causes are brain and spinal cord injuries, stroke, meningitis, fibromyalgia, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Other kinds of brain damage can also be the culprit, like diseases in addition to MS that compromise the myelin sheath, such as B12 deficiency and encephalitis.

How Cannabis Helps Muscle Spasticity

The exact reasons that cannabis is helpful in these matters are not known, but it is generally understood that anti-inflammatory properties that are the cause for the success of cannabis for muscle spasms. A study conducted at the University of South Carolina found that the immune system’s inflammatory proteins are deactivated by cannabis. As with many of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, research is just getting rolling; but it sure is off to an exciting start.


We are blessed with a plethora of options when deciding how to consume our beloved herb. Cannabis concentrates are quickly becoming a favorite, especially with seasoned cannabis enthusiasts. Concentrates appear in many forms, but the essential common thread is that they isolate cannabis trichomes — and their powerful cannabinoids, like THC or CBD. 

The Power of Cannabis Concentrates

This isolation means that unnecessary plant material and other impurities are not consumed, which has a few benefits. For one, your pipe or bong will stay clean much longer; and one can only imagine that something similar is happening in the lungs… And, of course, concentrates are going to have a significantly higher percentage of cannabinoids; meaning that you can take much less of it for the same effect. 

But when it comes to psychoactive cannabinoids like THC, this can actually cause trouble. It’s very common for even veteran enthusiasts to get unpleasantly high on their first concentrate experience. Cannabis concentrates typically range between 50-80% THC, with superb products coming in as high as 90%. For comparison, cannabis flower ranges between 10-25% THC. Be very mindful of this while navigating concentrates for the first time. (And ask our budtenders for help!)

Terpenes can be hard to preserve during the extraction process, so the flavor may not be as enjoyable as flower. However, many companies have started adding terpenes in at the end, so that’s an option for a more flavorful concentrate. 

Dabbing has become one of the most popular methods for consuming concentrates, which involves heating a “nail” on a dabbing rig and applying the concentrate to the hot surface. You can also add concentrates to your bowl, joint, or compatible vaporizer.

Types of Concentrates

Hashish: Cannabis concentrates are currently experiencing a surge in innovation and popularity, but hash (the OG concentrate) has been around for centuries. It is formed by taking stalked resin glands from the cannabis plant and rubbing them together to remove the trichomes, as well as other similar methods. The result is a sticky brick or ball. 

Kief: You already know kief, also referred to as dry sift or pollen. It’s the sticky-icky on your fingers after rolling a joint, it’s the crystal-like substance at the bottom of your grinder. Kief is usually sifted to separate the trichomes, and like hashish, it frequently contains plant material.

Shatter: This name, and the ones that follow, describe the consistency of modern cannabis concentrates, which are generally free of all impurities. In this case, we’re talking about a hard glass-like substance that can also resemble pulled taffy.

Budder/Batter: These two are soft in consistency, making them great for spreading onto joints or blunts. Budder has a consistency similar to butter, and batter the consistency of cake batter.

Crumble: Indeed crumbly in texture, this concentrate has a honeycomb consistency.

Sugar/Sauce: A concentrate has a consistency similar to wet, sappy sugar is called “sugar.” Sauce is a thicker version that has a more uniform and prominent crystalline structure.

Distillate/Oil: As you may have guessed, this refers to a liquid, oily, consistency. Oil is what goes into cannabis cartridges and pre-filled pens, and it also can be found in syringes.

It’s an exciting time for cannabis, and the world of concentrates is no exception. Keep your eyes on this ever-changing market for continued evolution of our cannabis options.

In the market for top-shelf cannabis concentrates in Tacoma, Washington? Stop by our popular Tacoma dispensary for help choosing your new favorite products, or check out our online dispensary menu.

Brené Brown’s 6 ‘Empathy Misses’ + Why They’re Important

Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

Ahhh, the empathy miss — that crucial moment when someone’s having a hard time and you really want to say the right thing, but after you speak there’s just a painfully awkward pause…you’ve stepped in it, and made things worse.

Or the reverse, you’re having a hell of a time and express that fact, and someone says something with the best of intentions — but rather than comfort their words leave you feeling invalidated, misunderstood, and worse than before you reached out.

As a society, we really aren’t great at holding emotional space for one another.

Luckily, a sociology researcher and famed storyteller named Brené Brown has been researching topics in this arena for well over a decade.

She’s covered many relevant ideas in this area, but one of the most helpful is probably her list of empathy misses from the book Dare to Lead.

Brené Brown and Empathy

Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

These are common well-intentioned behaviors displayed in emotional times of need that completely miss the mark, leaving the already upset person feeling more so.

While I’ve certainly been on the side of empathy miss, as everyone has, I’ve also dealt with being on the diminished end recurrently since invisible illness and problematic Autism traits have taken over my life.

People genuinely seem to want to say things to make me feel better, but they’ll wind up invalidating my experience or changing the topic altogether; leaving me feeling not only still alone with the issue, but also feeling like I’ve erred by even bringing it up.

And these are mostly kind, truly well-intentioned, people; and this happens to all kinds of Neurodiverse and/or disabled people.

They are trying — we all are trying — but we lack tools. This stuff just wasn’t included in our social conditioning. (And in some cases, there were toxins in its place.)

Brené Brown’s 6 Empathy Misses

Photo by Marc Kleen on Unsplash

The concept of empathy is often described as a quality that people simply possess, or not, but while some folks do seem to have a particular knack for effectively understanding others’ feelings — Brown says empathy is also something we can work to become more effective at.

When dealing with nebulous and subjective issues, it’s often best to look at the failed attempts — or, what not to do. In this spirit, I’d like to present the 6 Empathy Misses identified by this sociologist who’s dedicated her life to helping us live with more heart.

This work branched out from her interest in human shame, with these being common unhelpful reactions after someone’s divulged an err. The list is from Dare to Lead, with explanation text from the book’s study guide, followed by my brief take:

Empathy Miss #1: Sympathy vs. Empathy

The friend who responds with sympathy (“I feel so sorry for you”) rather than empathy (“I get it, I feel with you”)

When faced with an immediate internal reaction of “sucks to be you,” the most caring words are often something like, “That sounds really hard, need to vent?”

Empathy Miss #2: The Gasp and Awe

The friend who hears your story and feels shame on your behalf.

Have you ever confided in someone, sharing a mistake you’re processing — and instead of empathizing, as you might expect a friend to do, they act horrified and judgy?

Yeah, everyone else too. Let’s start trying to remember our own f*ck-ups before condemning those who trust us with their struggles.

Empathy Miss #3: The Mighty Fall

The friend who sees you as perfect. They are so let down by your imperfections and disappointed in you (“I just never expected that from you. I didn’t think you would ever be someone who didn’t do well. What happened?”)

The thing about pedestals is that they’re really easy to fall off of — plus, you know, they’re complete and utter bullshit. No one is perfect. That’s not even a thing. When we expect people to be better than human, we lose our humanity.

Empathy Miss #4The Block and Tackle

The friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability that they criticize you (“What happened?! What were you thinking?”)

Otherwise known as, “How to get people to never trust you again,” this deflective move helps those scared of feels to avoid their own self-reflection — and it’s really freakin’ common. We live in a really judgy society and that kind of persistent energy can lead to folks becoming really defensive, which often turns into lashing out with condemnation.

I’ve (slowly) learned that compassion is the way out of judgment. When I’m hurt and my mind gets hardened over the WTF-ness of someone’s behavior, I do my best to imagine there’s a reason I’m not aware of before doing anything about it. It’s hard, but it’s important to remember that perspective really is everything.

Empathy Miss #5: The Boots and Shovel

The friend who is all about making it better and, out of their own discomfort, refuses to acknowledge that you can actually make terrible choices (“You’re exaggerating. It wasn’t that bad. You rock. You’re perfect. Everyone loves you”). They are trying so hard to make you feel better that they’re unable to connect with your emotions.

This is another popular one. When feeling shame, and wanting to talk about the mistake — something that can lead to not making the err again, as the mind’s verbally articulated why it’s a nope — but someone just won’t believe you, it’s invalidating at best; and, at worse, it enables problematic behaviors.

Empathy Miss #6: If You Think That’s Bad…

The friend who confuses “connection” with the opportunity to one-up you. (“That’s nothing. Listen to what happened to me one time!”)

This one’s another one that often happens with truly good intentions, wanting to help the other person see that things could be worse; but it’s actually invalidating, and leaves the hurting person still alone in the issue they were hoping to talk to someone about.

Empathy Miss #7I Can Fix That!

The friend who immediately jumps to problem-solving rather than just being with you in your experience.

Most of us struggle with this one, especially if friends often come to us for help solving problems. One helpful empathic reply is to acknowledge the feelings and ask, “What does support look like?” This gives the person in struggle the opportunity to say, “Just listening helps” or “Can you help me figure this out?”

I’ve got nothing to add here, such wise words.

And a recap from the Daring Greatly study guide:

  • Be kind.
  • Be curious.
  • You don’t need to fix it or make people feel better. Connecting and listening is powerful.
  • Try to understand how the person is feeling (not how you might feel in the same situation).
  • Help people know that they are not alone in their feelings. Even if you’ve never had that experience, you might know the feeling.
  • Let people know that you are grateful they shared with you.
  • Allowing opportunities for second chances. When we miss the opportunity to show empathy or when we would like the opportunity to do it better, we can say, “I’d like to circle back.” In this context, circling back means practicing empathy by trying again.
Photo by Andrew Thornebrooke on Unsplash

Societal Conditioning is Losing Its Grip, Let’s Help

Advocacy movements are changing harmful norms, but they can’t do it alone.

Still from ‘They Live,’ a 1988 cult-classic, very clever take on societal conditioning, and great follow-up to reading about this topic. (Image via letterboxd)

Social conditioning is a lot like air, we hardly notice it, and yet it affects every aspect of our lives.

It’s defined as ‘the sociological process of training individuals in a society to respond in a manner generally approved by the society in general and peer groups within society,’ and it looks like going to school, interacting with peers (especially “fitting in”), engaging with pop culture, adapting to work environments, etc.

These things shape the way we view the world and interact with others.

And right now, Americans are learning that our “air” has some fiercely toxic issues.

Though there have always been Black advocates speaking up, nearly a decade ago The Black Lives Matter movement finally brought national attention to the fact that we most definitely do not live in a post-racial society (which has been clearly reflected in demographic statistics for decades) — and yet our public schools essentially teach that the ’60s brought equality to our country.

Generations were taught that we’re “a nation that doesn’t see race,” learning that ignoring our racial differences was helpful; and this conditioning has led to continued societal disbelief and inaction in regard to the very real racial disparities in the US. It’s horrifying.

Luckily, the evolution of societal norms is often a direct result of individuals speaking up.

Then the #MeToo movement busted onto the scene in 2017, exposing the harmful misogynistic norms that women have been dealing with in America all along — and making a lot of us pretty furious about all the “sugar + spice” conditioning that basically trained us to put up with harassment and abuse, all in the subconscious pursuit of trying to be the “good girls” society told us to be.

Photo by Edrece Stansberry on Unsplash

And though disability advocacy movements haven’t yet caught the nation’s attention, we’ve been yelling for a very long time.

From extensive issues with accessibility (for wheelchair users and beyond), massively-funded nonprofits that actually work against us (*ahem, Autism Speaks*), to a society rampant with inspiration porn in place of actually informing people about how to work with our different needs; to excessive government focus on “preventable illness” and little-to-none on the myriad of conditions that can’t be, resulting in a blame-the-patient culture that’s really hard to survive —we’ve got a lot to be upset about.

All-in-all, America has a white-supremacist, sexist, ableist (+!) set of social norms; and they need to change, fast.

While developments like oodles of (brilliant) intersectional entertainment, advocacy movements regularly trending on Twitter, and increased diversity in politics are helpful and encouraging; we also need our societal conditioning to change in a structural way, in our government and healthcare systems, schools, workplaces, and how media is sourced and distributed.

Luckily, the evolution of societal norms is often a direct result of individuals speaking up. A paradigm shift is not only possible, it’s already happening.

For example, those same public schools teach young minds that Thanksgiving commemorates a peaceful celebration of unity between settlers and Native Americans when history shows that the opposite was true. And this propaganda is taught by teachers who are overwhelmingly white, with a lived racial experience that 4 in 10 Americans cannot relate to.

Photo by Mwesigwa Joel on Unsplash

We need schools that teach actual, factual, history, and it needs to be taught by teachers who represent the demographics of the students in this country.

Now let’s pick on the media. Television and magazines propagate impossible ideals, corporate support/dependence, and harmful norms that serve to protect the status quo — which isn’t surprising since six white-male-led companies control the vast majority of the media, often resulting in news coverage and bias that benefits those already on top.

The “normal” office space is also rife with room for improvement.

The constraints of “acting professional” usually have more to do with not causing waves than treating colleagues with respect — and this conditioning serves us in the exact same way as the “sugar + spice” bullshite, helping to maintain the toxic status quo through unspoken demands like code-switching.

The effect of our present societal conditioning is that people are expected to “fit in” in order to move up in life, which is functionally racistsexist, and ableist in application — ensuring that the people on top, stay on top.

(And we’ve only talked about 3 offensive istsharming our society! There’s plenty more.)

It might “make waves“… 😮 (‘They Live’ film still provided by Universal Pictures, via Fonts in Use.)

How to Help

Norms are changing on our screens, now it’s time to securely bring inclusive changes into the schools, offices, and community spaces of the United States.

It’s time to check ourselves. And it’s time to speak up against harmful norms.



Luckily, the evolution of societal norms is often a direct result of individuals speaking up. A paradigm shift is not only possible, it’s already happening.

But it needs all of us.

Here are 6 ways we can help detoxify the effects of societal conditioning:

  1. Learn, learn, learn. We need to educate ourselves in areas where we have societally-suggested knowledge gaps (or even misinformation), carefully ensuring that what we’re reading was written by a member of the affected group. This can take some effort, but it’s worth it to ensure that what we’re reading is truly the perspective of the community affected. (There are lots of advocacy personal essays on Medium, so you’re at a great place to start.)
  2. Inspect our language. Our culture is rife with popular terms that are actually offensive to our many vulnerable demographics, and even well-meaning can people offend. (We’re practically trained to, via societal osmosis.) And it’s important to pay attention to aspects that aren’t usually considered; such as more subtle aspects of discrimination (ex. for ableism, hurtful usage of words like ‘crazy’ and ‘stupid’), phrases like “that’s just the system” that subtly stand up for the status quo. And it should go without saying, but this applies to every space — not just those where minority groups are present.
  3. Request change from the leaders of our society, especially politicians and corporations. Be it an email to your local political representatives about the harm of letting misinformation masquerade as news, no longer supporting an offending corporation due to sexist advertising, or calling out a celebrity for the societal ramifications of an ableist action; individual complaints add up and are often (eventually) appeased.
  4. Request change in your environments. Again, individual input matters! When enough of us ask for changes in respect to well, respect, leaders have to respond. And there are now training programs to help educate employees, students, and communities on how to better accommodate one another, so why not encourage one?
  5. Speak up when you’re affected. We need to speak up when we’re hit by the negative outcomes created by societal conditioning, or it will seem like “we’re fine with it.” If a teacher only calls on the white kids, if women in your office are paid less than men, if you’re being treated as if your disabled needs are irrelevant, or anything else of that nature — now’s the time to speak up.
  6. Learn to welcome the different. Even when we try not to let it, subtle-yet-constant conditioning affects how all of us see the world, often creating anxiety around allowing new experiences and people in. But in addition to being the inherently more kind thing to do, diversity has proven benefits; the more perspectives, the more coherent the collective understanding will be.

Inclusivity, attentiveness, and compassion in regards to our differences need to replace the societally-pervasive dinosaur mentality of “that’s just how things are done.”

And it starts with us.

How Breathing + Cold Exposure Can Improve Your Life

The Wim Hof method activates the mighty endocannabinoid system, the body’s wellness regulator.

Meg HartleyNov 10 · 4 min read

Photo via Instagram

This article was orignally published on ILLUMINATION, I very much appreciate claps (you can do 50!) and follows over @ Medium! 

There are lots of bizarre-sounding health fads out there, and many of them aren’t as effective as they are attention-catching, but I can say from personal experience that the Wim Hof Method (WHM) is one that actually works.

It’s just breathing exercises plus cold exposure, but it’s been hailed for improving, or even curing, all kinds of health conditions, as well as improving general health and well-being — and there’s a science to back it up.

Here’s a list of benes: More energy, boost the immune system, anti-inflammatory, better sleep, increase sports performance, workout recovery, autoimmune disease relief, arthritis relief, post-treatment Lyme relief, COPD management, migraine relief, MS management, asthma management, lower blood pressure, improve metabolism, and relief from fibromyalgia symptoms.

I’m in it mostly for that last one: helping ease the hellacious pain that is fibromyalgia.

I can’t report that I’m totally healed, but after 3–4 months of doing their daily breathing + cold shower technique, my pain decreased immensely. I’m unable to do the cold shower portion in the winter due to bone pain, but just the breathing alone still keeps fibro pain below a 3, when it was 8’s and up prior winters. And in the warmer months when I can do the cold shower portion, I don’t even think about fibromyalgia! It’s been a godsend.

Though this exercise is great for anyone with a body, I especially recommend that my fellow fibro-fighters and spoonies of all kinds — including mental health warriors and the neurodiverse — keep reading, even if your condition wasn’t listed this could help.

The breathing exercise also just feels great, delivering pleasant tingling sensations throughout your body; it’s both invigorating and relaxing, plus my back and neck usually pop with ease afterward.

The Science

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

The reason the WHM is so effective is that it activates the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is best known for being the bodily system that works with cannabis, but it’s so much more.

The ECS is in charge of regulating virtually all of the other systems in our body, so it’s big deal, and it’s criminal that doctors don’t study it in school. Science has shown that atypical endocannabinoid levels are associated with many chronic illnesses, several of which are listed above, as well as forms of neurodiversity — like AutismADHDTourette’s, and others.

In 2018 researchers studied the WHM on Wim Hof himself, finding increased activity in the areas of the brain that are “associated with brain mechanisms for the control of sensory pain and is thought to implement this control through the release of opioids and [endo]cannabinoids.”

In other words, the breathing exercises and the cold exposure cause an increase in ECS activity, allowing it to better regulate the body’s functions and get unbalanced aspects in check.

Again from the study, “The practice of the Wim Hof Method may lead to tonic changes in autonomous brain mechanisms, a speculation that has implications for managing medical conditions ranging from diseases of the immune system to more intriguingly psychiatric conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders.”

How to do the Wim Hof Method

Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

Completing the WHM should take 15–20 minutes, all you need is this free video and a functional shower (or another form of cold exposure). The video will guide you through a 3-part breathing exercise, which will be repeated 3 times.

Here’s how it goes:

  • The first element involves circular breathing, which is simply breathing into your belly, letting it extend, then pulling that breath into your chest, then releasing. The video will take you through 30 reps, showing you an orange bubble that inflates and deflates with you to help keep time.
  • In the second bit, Hof will tell you to let all of your breath out and to refrain from breathing in for as long as you can. It’ll give you 60 seconds, then 1:25 as goals — but don’t feel pressured, just fast-forward the video when you need to breathe in, or pause if you can hold out longer.
  • The third portion will have you do the opposite, breathing in as much as you can, then holding the air in for 15 seconds before releasing — if you haven’t felt the great bodily feelings yet, they’ll come for that part.

Then it’s time to hop in a freezing cold shower! It’s hard at first, but they became refreshing for me after a few weeks — you’ll adjust to the cold temperatures too, you really will. (Which expands options for outdoor swimming fun…)

In the meantime, if the cold water is just too cold, try starting it at normal temps and then moving to cold. Start out with whatever your body can handle, and work up to 2–3 minutes.

Happy Hoff’ing!

Here’s What Autism Looks Like

It’s about the inner.

Interest in (and acknowledgment of) the autistic adult community has gone up lately, which is wonderful. People at large are starting to understand that even though we’re different, we still have a lot to contribute; and autistic-led shows like Everything’s Gonna Be Okay are helping people to understand just how wide the spectrum can be.

But there’s still a lot of confusion in the allistic (not autistic) community about what autism “looks like,” usually in reference to how a person appears, but you really can’t tell if someone’s an Autist based on observation.

In addition to the truly infinite variety of ways autism presents, many of us have been taught to mask our traits; so knowing what’s happening inside the person, the reasons behind our behaviors, is essential to recognizing autism in someone.

Being autistic is about having different wiring, literally experiencing the world differently due to neurological differences; resulting in varied sensory perception, ways of relating to the world, and reacting to it differently.

A comic strip by Rebecca Burgess popularized a way to visualize this internal experience that’s been embraced by the autistic community. It explains that most people think that the autism spectrum is a linear thing — a spectrum from “not autistic” to “very autistic” — but it’s actually more like a color wheel of various autistic traits, with Autists affected more and less in different areas (as well as times in our life).

Here’s that one:

Image by Rebecca Burgess


Image by Rebecca Burgess

I later came across another very helpful expression of the concept, created by autism assessor, Matt Lowry, LPP. I particularly like the use of medical terminology and the way it succinctly elaborates on each section:

Image by Matt Lowry, LPP

Lowry’s information describes atypicality in the following areas (some info added for further understanding, but the list isn’t exhaustive):

Interoception: Internal senses (hunger, thirst, going to the bathroom), awareness of emotions, alexithymia.

Proprioception: Sensing body position, dancing, walking on toes, spinning, dyspraxia (clumsiness), motor control.

Exteroception: Sensing the outside world, hypersensitive, hyposensitive.

Stimming: Repetitive movements and sensory seeking for energy regulation.

SpIns: Special Interests, intense research, information hunger, collections.

Executive Functioning: Hyperfocus, demand avoidance, hygiene, autistic inertia (difficulty changing tasks), working memory, verbal problem-solving.

Relationships: Rejection sensitivity, masking, bonding through SpIns, misunderstandings.

Communication: Echolalia (repeating others’ words), palilalia (repeating own words), echopraxia (repeating others’ behavior/movements), scripting, eye contact, infodumps, body language, tangential conversation.

Emotional Intensity: Meltdowns (neurologically different than “tantrums”), shutdowns, situational mutism, hyporeactivity.

Note: These things also add up to big-time fatigue (mental and physical), and often mental health issues, like anxiety, depression, and C-PTSD.

I wanted a version that allowed me to mark my trait measures so I can better communicate my internal experience, so I sketched one out that clearly segments the areas — allowing me (or any autistic person) to mark how much atypicality is presently experienced in each trait segment:

Image by author

I originally made it for use with my therapist, but have also started tracking my trait levels for the purposes of both curiosity and managing problematic aspects. (I just got started, but already find it interesting that engaging in more stimming behavior — energy regulation — seems to be linked with experiencing less emotional intensity, which makes sense.)

For an autistic person to mark atypicality levels, right-click to save so it can be marked in a drawing program, or print it out and grab a marker. Consider the different aspects of each trait section and how atypical experience is at this time, then mark levels appropriately, like so:

Image by author

I also imagine it’ll be useful in other realms of life when needing to explain to others how and why something is causing atypical issues. (If you’d like to have it on an object to help explain differences and accommodation needs, like a work mug, click here.) I hope it’ll help my fellow Autists feel more understood and allistic folks better understand.

(Note: Images and article reviewed and approved by Rebecca Burgess and Matt Lowry.)

12 Tips from a Gorilla, Re: Global Calamity

He’s got some changes in mind.

If you visited a zoo, and a gorilla started talking to you, what do you think they’d say about humanity? Think they’d be cool with the modern state of affairs?

According to Daniel Quinn, author of 1992’s award-winning Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit — the answers are a whole lot, and hell no.

Image for post
Courtesy of Giphy

Ishmael features a man being taught about the world by a gorilla, one who divides humanity into two types: the Leavers and the Takers.

The first philosophy puts humans within the web of nature, working consciously to only take what they need; and the other puts humans as the world’s ruler, free to take whatever we can.

If the events of 2020 have left you questioning the way our society does things, or are interested in living a more conscious life — this should be your next read.

Here are a dozen (very hard-to-narrow-down) quotes from the book:

  1. “The premise of the Taker story is ‘the world belongs to man’. … The premise of the Leaver story is ‘man belongs to the world’.”
  2. “And every time the Takers stamp out a Leaver culture, a wisdom ultimately tested since the birth of mankind disappears from the world beyond recall.”
  3. “I have amazing news for you. Man is not alone on this planet. He is part of a community, upon which he depends absolutely.”
  4. “The obvious can sometimes be illuminating when perceived in an unhabitual way.”
  5. “You’re captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live… I think there are many among you who would be glad to release the world from captivity… This is what prevents them: They’re unable to find the bars of the cage.”
  6. “The world of the Takers is one vast prison, and except for a handful of Leavers scattered across the world, the entire human race is now inside that prison.”
  7. “Donald Trump can do a lot of things I can’t, but he can no more get out of the prison than I can.”
  8. “They put their shoulders to the wheel during the day, stupefy themselves with drugs or television at night, and try not to think too searchingly about the world they’re leaving their children to cope with.”
  9. “Diversity is a survival factor for the community itself. A community of a hundred million species can survive almost anything short of a global catastrophe.”
  10. “We’re not destroying the world because we’re clumsy. We’re destroying the world because we are, in a very literal and deliberate way, at war with it.”
  11. “The mythology of your culture hums in your ears so constantly that no one pays the slightest bit of attention to it.”
  12. “I think what you’re groping for is that people need more than to feel scolded, more than to be made to feel stupid and guilty. They need more than a vision of doom. They need a vision of the world and of themselves that inspires them.”

Can you envision a version of yourself you find inspiring?

What about the world?

Image for post

Autistic People Are Still Being Tortured in This U.S. Facility

Please join the #StopTheShock movement to help end the abuse.

Image by author, right-click to share at will (or make your own).

Since being diagnosed as autistic in 2020, I’ve had to do a lot of confronting my own naivete, which has been a soul-crushing aspect of the experience. Part of my rose-colored glasses being forced off was learning that autistic people are being tortured with shock devices, legally, in the US, where I live.

To be more specific, it’s happening at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts; where most of the students are of racial minorities as well as being from out-of-state, often brought in from New York City.

And when I describe the use of shock devices as torture, I’m not being hyperbolic — in 2013, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture put out a report describing it as such, also explicitly calling on all States to ban this kind of “treatment.”

And yet, the human beings — including children — at Judge Rotenberg still have to wear graduated electronic decelerator (GED) devices that can deliver a painful shock via remote control at any time, devices that the FDA found to be capable of physical and psychological harm, including pain, burns, tissue damage, depression, fear, and aggression.

When even Google Ads is calling you out…

One might assume that such barbaric punishment only happens in extreme cases, but according to Time magazine that’s not the case, additionally, they’re the only ones in the world still doing it:

The facility — the only one in the world still using such tactics — has long been targeted by advocates for the disabled because of its use of electric shocks. The “treatment” is delivered by a device on the skin whenever patients break rules, even for violations as mild as talking or moving restlessly during class.

“Moving restlessly,” refers to stimming, often-involuntary movements and tics (sometimes verbal) that help us autistic people in regulating our energy — our bodies do it to better function, we need it.

And, disturbingly, there are also several other untenable rules. According to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), other reasons for shock include: flapping their hands, standing up without permission, swearing, not taking off coat, involuntary noises or movements made because of disability, and screaming in pain while being shocked. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

Tweet ‘FDA: Stop Autistic Torture, Ban GED Shock Devices #StopTheShock’ w/your thoughts to @FDADeviceInfo and @US_FDA every Tuesday.

Can you imagine knowing that any second a trigger, such as a random sound, could cause your autistic body to automatically react in a way that earns you a painful electric shock, which could be repeated if you dare cry out in distress?

It’s infuriating and heartbreaking that this is still happening.

Despite consistent protest against JRC and their tactics, their involvement with lobbyists enables them to legally continue this torture. This fight has been going on for literal decades, so long story short — the FDA had banned it, but last summer it was overturned by a DC Circuit Court, who refused to reconsider that court ruling in December.

Like the rest of the community, ASAN is outraged and calling on the FDA to “do whatever it takes to reinstate a ban by immediately reintroducing a new rule that would address the court’s concerns while effectively banning these devices.”

What You Can Do

Tweet preview/suggestion via author.

In the coming months, the team at ASAN will be having talks with the FDA that will potentially lead to a grassroots action plan from them; but in the meantime, we can get the word out by sharing #StopTheShock info with our networks, and with some help from Twitter we can put some pressure on the FDA ourselves.

Here’s my suggestion for us to band together and get the FDA’s attention: Tweet “FDA: Stop Autistic Torture, Ban GED Shock Devices #StopTheShock” w/your thoughts to @FDADeviceInfo and @US_FDA every Tuesday, for as long as we need to.

The image above provides an example, please note that Twitter now allows scheduling. To schedule your advocacy Tweets in advance, just click on the calendar at the bottom and pick your desired Tuesday. You can switch up the message with different info on different weeks, or just copy/paste and keep hitting ’em with the same one.

Every day in the supposed “land of the free,” there are autistic humans being harmed by an organization that’s paid government funds to help them — and it has to stop. Please share information about this issue with people who wouldn’t otherwise know about it, and please help put pressure on the FDA to effectively ban the device.

Let’s make 2022 the year this torture finally ends.

Image by author, right-click to share at will (or make your own).

Resilience and Compassion

I love this quote. After going through a difficult time, any semi-reflective person is likely to do some thinking on their weaknesses and faults; because how else does one avoid making the same mistakes?

But it’s easy to overdo ‘er. It’s common to not only own one’s errs, but to define ourselves by them, if only unconsciously. When you decide that you’ll never be good enough, things improving seems impossible. And the mental place of “why bother?” is no breeding ground for resilience.

Compassion for ourselves helps us get to a place of seeing ourselves as stronger and wiser for our mistakes, which makes trying again seem worth the effort and potential risks.

And compassion for others is how we become able to look at the world, and the people in it, as potentially trustworthy. This enables us to put ourselves “out there” again, one of many daunting-but-essential parts of getting to a place of resilience.

Becoming resilient is generally a prize that must be hard won, but the goods are mighty good indeed.

What is Autistic Burnout?


Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

Being autistic is a mixed bag. While I love and am grateful for many of my autistic traits, there are many aspects that are just plain symptoms; like sensory sensitivities, exhaustion, and executive dysfunction that limit my ability to participate in life.

And sometimes those unwanted autistic bits, the symptoms, shoot to completely unworkable levels due to overexertion — this is called autistic burnout.

In 2020, a study supported by the National Institute for Mental Health and conducted by AASPIRE finally provided a formal definition:

Autistic burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic life stress and a mismatch of expectations and abilities without adequate supports. It is characterized by pervasive, long-term (typically 3+ months) exhaustion, loss of function, and reduced tolerance to stimulus.

While the more commonly used meaning of burnout refers to occupational burnout, work-sourced depletion resulting in less ability to do it; autistic burnout is specific to Autists and comes from life demanding more than we can deliver without support (and support can be very hard to come by, especially for autistic adults).

Worse, autistic burnout is highly associated with suicidal ideation and behavior.

From the same study, “[Autistic burnout] is an important issue for the autistic community because it is described as leading to distress; loss of work, school, health, and quality of life; and even suicidal behavior.”

The study also quotes an Autist:

[My situation] became way too much. After I [quit my job], I found it increasingly difficult to speak to people I didn’t know and became very depressed. I was told that this was considered autistic regression by a therapist. I was unable to work for several years after this experience and attempted suicide/spent time in the mental hospital before being able to get my life back in order.

Again from the study, “Informally, autistic adults describe how burnout has cost them jobs, friends, activities, independence, mental and physical health, and pushed them to suicidal behavior.”

I can personally attest to these quotes. It’s like losing the ability to be who you are, it can steal your whole life.

A study published in Sage Journals this year further elaborates:

“Autistic Burnout is a severely debilitating condition with onset preceded by fatigue from camouflaging or masking autistic traits, interpersonal interactions, an overload of cognitive input*, a sensory environment unaccommodating to autistic sensitivities and/or other additional stressors or changes. Onset and episodes of autistic burnout may interact with co-occurring physical and/or mental health conditions.

The following criteria must be met;
1. Significant mental and physical exhaustion
2. Interpersonal withdrawal.

With one or more of the following;
1. Significant reduction in social, occupational, educational, academic, behavioural, or other important areas of functioning.
2. Confusion, difficulties with executive function**, and/or dissociative states.
3. Increased intensity of autistic traits and/or reduced capacity to camouflage/mask e.g. increased sensory sensitivity, repetitive or stimming behaviour, difficulty engaging or communication with others.

The condition is not better explained by a psychiatric illness such as depression, psychosis, personality disorder, trauma- and stressor-related disorders. Extended or chronic episodes of autistic burnout may be preceded by brief or intermittent episodes.

*Cognitive input, refers to thinking and mental processing
**Please note, executive function refers to ‘the mental capacity to focus attention, to process information while completing other tasks, and to plan and remember instructions.’”

So, basically — autistic burnout has the ability to make an already-challenged life completely impossible.


What Can Be Done to Prevent it?

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Preventing autistic burnout in oneself is all about naming your needs and knowing that they are valid.

Being autistic in NT society, we get primed to disregard needs that aren’t typical, but when we ignore them for extended periods, it adds up…and the price is extreme function loss and general hell that is autistic burnout.

For me, just figuring out what my needs are after masking them for so long has been a process; learning to be present with my body, checking in with my nervous system, and watching my mind are helping me to identify when I’m pushing myself too hard, thereby sending myself (further) into burnout.Autistic Burnout from the Inside
It’s more than just “burnout,” it’s neurological

Additionally, masking Autistic traits seems to be the most commonly cited reason to wind up in the seriously debilitated state that is autistic burnout, so it’s important that we aren’t masking too much.

From the first study, “By far the most prominent life stressor was masking, or the need to suppress autistic traits or disability, or pretend to be nonautistic.”

It also quotes a participant:

The metaphor I use is that long-term camouflaging and masking leaves behind a kind of psychic plaque in the mental and emotional arteries. Like the buildup of physical plaque over time can result in heart attack or stroke, the buildup of this psychic plaque over time can result in burnout.

We can’t just pretend to be neurotypical our whole lives, but via formal classes or persistent negative feedback from others, Autists (and neurodiverse people at large) get taught we ought to. Our internal wiring is different, so we’re different, and that needs to be more okay.

If you’ve got an Autist in your home or workplace, please listen to what their needs are, take them seriously, and know that the root of the problem is the most important thing.

Neurological overwhelm is usually the core problem, likely due to an environmental sensory issue; and in many cases, simple adjustments and/or accommodation tools will go a long way in helping the person to do their thing effectively without sending themselves into autistic burnout. Also, if we seem like we’re pushing ourselves too hard, just asking if we need a hand with something can go a long way.

The only way out of burnout is rest, rest, rest, and more REST, likely weeks, months, or even years — so taking breaks, making time to sort out accommodations, etc. is seriously worth it. And if you’re also in burnout, I hope you’re finding the rest you so desperately need; may we both be out of it soon.