“Falcon hood?!” “Raid on entebbe?!”

My ‘common knowledge’ isn’t the same as yours.

Meg Hartley via my newsletter, Halcyon Tidings

* See end for source of subject/title quote! 🎬🍿 * 

Hey there, 

This week I turned in an article that references something called the ‘double empathy problem’, a concept that details how breakdowns in mutual understanding happen between people with very different experiences and perspectives—the autistic autism researcher Damian Milton coined it in reference to allistic (not-autistic) and autistic communication, but he also describes it generally as something that can “occur when people of very differing dispositions attempt to interact.” 

Who and how we are affects the way we see things, it shapes our perception. The way a situation is viewed by someone can completely depend on where they’re coming from…and this isn’t always easy to remember.

So much of life is subjective, it’s based on one’s feelings and life experience, my ‘common knowledge’ isn’t the same as yours. The subject quote of this fortnite’s newsletter, “‘Falcon hood?!’ ‘Raid on Entebbe?!,’” is from a scene in an HBO show where two friends get in a shouting match over whose conversation reference is least relatable. (Entebbe, if you ask me.) What we know about the world has only been informed by the bits of it we’ve learned about and/or experienced; yet so often we expect to immediately understand and be understood, which can be frustrating. 

Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes isn’t possible without questions, without working to understand where the other person is coming from. We can never know what’s missing from our awareness, we are blind to the things we don’t know we don’t know (something I *try* to remind myself of when feeling exasperated af by others’ actions that I just don’t understand). 

So, may we all find the strength and wisdom to acknowledge when we might be making presumptions about a situation or person(s), as well as the curiosity, articulation, and compassion it takes to succeed in mutual understanding.

See ya (-ish) in a couple weeks,

More Words:
Tiny Buddha 8 Ways You Can Help Fight the Loneliness Epidemic
The Bookbaby – Underneath It All: Peeling Back Societal Bullsh*t to Reveal a More Whole You

* SUBJECT/TITLE QUOTE: “Falcon hood?!” and “Raid on Entebbe?!” are shouted between Zach Galifianakis and Jason Schwartzman in the dazedly clever show Bored to Death (2009)—hope you had a happy April 20th! 💚 *

How an Emotional Support Dog Helps This AuDHD’r

My support pup saved me from an isolated-vacuum of a lifestyle, could one help you too?

Originally posted on Artfully Autistic Feb 25

Her pic on the shelter website, and our first day — so grateful we rescued each other!

I’ve wanted a dog of my own for decades, but after years and years of isolation due to chronic illnesses and autistic burnout I started to feel like I needed one. I needed to not cry alone, a cheerful influence, a persistent reminder of life’s little joys.

My therapist agreed it’d be helpful, but I didn’t get the official paperwork done as my landlord didn’t mind my pup-having-aspiration — if I wanted to move somewhere that didn’t allow dogs or needed a travel exception I’d need the paperwork to formally make her an Emotional Support Animal, but for now, my needs are met without it. (Therapy and Service Animals additionally require special training but have more accompaniment privileges.)

It wasn’t easy to find my darling doggo: I needed an adult dog under 10 pounds, who’s healthy, fully potty trained, and rarely barks, as well as being cheery and snuggly. It took over a month of autistically hyper-focusing on communicating with 30+ shelters about dogs that might make the cut (and filling out SO MANY mind-draining applications), but, eventually, I found my sweet lil’ pound pup, Foxy Queen. We met on December 12th, 2020, she’d lost a leg while homeless and had also just gotten spayed, so was half-bald with far too many stitches — but she was still a wiggly ball of joy from the moment I saw her. The shelter volunteer passed her into my arms, she immediately stuck her little nose into my elbow, I melted, then the volunteer said, “We seem to have a match.”

There was a physical adjustment period as far as walking her every day (#spoonie), the financial increase hasn’t been a non-issue, and on bad days I do struggle to care for us both — it’s not a decision to make lightly — but, for me, having an emotional support dog is absolutely worth it.

Here are 10 ways my Foxy supports me:

  1. Gets Me Outside Daily: The lights, sounds, and unexpected nature of leaving the house can make it feel like my brain is in a freakin’ trash compactor, but problematic genetic mutations make it so I can’t get vitamin D from supplements, I’ve gotta get it from the actual sun. And, in addition to vit D deficiency causing depression, not leaving a studio apartment for days at a time it’s depressing in and of itself, which is how I was living before my Foxy. Our daily walks have enabled me to appreciate the annual changes in the nature of the neighborhood, establish positive (but comfortably-distant) relations with neighbors, and helped me to feel more connected to my surroundings at large.
  2. Contribution and Meaning: Being able to contribute so little (compared to what I was doing before becoming homebound) is very painful to me, I find meaning in being part of something, in working towards something, in helping and taking care — so it’s depressing to spend the vast majority of my time just trying to take care of me, getting my basic don’t-get-worse exercises and routines done, dealing with social services issues, doctors and prescriptions, etc. It can make me feel like my life is pointless, like I’m pointless. Writing definitely helps, but I can’t do it very often (#autisticburnout), so taking care of my lil’ tripawd angel girl gives me desperately-needed relief in that department.
  3. Less Lonely: In addition to autistic burnout I’m dealing with fibromyalgia, both of which limit my mobility and ability to be outside my home, so I’ve had to be in brain-necessary isolation the vast majority of the time since October of 2015. It’s necessary, but also gets seriously difficult to be so alone, especially while in pain and dealing with insanely frustrating brain functionality issues. It’s still hard, and of course I still get lonely sometimes, but my sweet and hilarious little cuddlebug helps keep me feeling grounded and connected.
  4. More Aware: When you’re just alone with yourself for years on end, it can be easy to lose sight of abrasive behaviors that might’ve accumulated whilst unchecked. My Foxy’s reactions helped me to see that I’d redirected many healthy but “weird” stims (hand-shaking/flapping, rocking, etc.) into unhelpful ones — like yelling in frustration at uncooperative inanimate objects — which actually work up my nervous system instead of calming it, while also causing a needless ruckus for anyone who could hear me. Now I’m no longer in a seeming-vacuum of aloneness and a little “wtf?” head tilt or startled jump reminds me there’s better ways to regulate.
  5. Meltdown Warning: My gal’s not trained to sense upset emotions, but many animals just get this kinda stuff. She often tells me I’m heading towards a meltdown before I even realize I’m getting dysregulated. I’ll be troopin’ along, thinking I’m frustrated butwhateveritsfineicandoit — then I get interrupted with a little paw on my knee and a sweet face looking at me like, “Chill your roll, or it’ll roll you,” and her reminder (usually) sucks me into the moment, causing awareness of my nervous system, so I may do whatever I need to do so my brain doesn’t blow.
  6. Cry Comfort: Sometimes what’s needed is a good cry, other times I cry not due to neural dysregulation, but because it’s really fucking hard to support yourself while disabled, and it can all just be too much. And when I cry, my baby lifts her tiny paw to my heart and licks my tears. It’s the sweetest thing I’ve known since being comforted by my mother.
  7. Routine Help: I’m AuDHD, so I very much need routine but also struggle to maintain one due to issues like distraction, time blindness, and need for novelty. But dogs need, need, routine or you’ve got potty problems on your hands, (errr, in your carpet). And she’s so good at keeping track of time. She reminds me when it’s time to go out, time to eat(s), time to turn off TV, move to the bed, etc. — I don’t always listen to her about-me reminders, sometimes I just need that one more show or whatever, but her keeping me aware in the first place is extremely helpful. Bye-bye endless time vacuum!
  8. She’s Stimmy: Sensory stimulation, stimming, is a way for autistic people to regulate our unique nervous systems — and my baby helps me in a few ways there. Firstly, her fur’s bonkers soft, so snuggles are oh-so soothing. Her weight on my body is also stimmily-soothing, helping me to stay calm while I get things done at my computer or cozying up on top of my belly when I lie down. She’s also just so cute! Watching her be her adorable hilarious self is a visual stim all on its own.
  9. Dopamine Booster: ADHD is essentially a dopamine deficiency, so it’s awesome that my pup helps there. In addition to the already-mentioned sunlight and added exercise of her walk, which boost dopamine, it’s also naturally increased via snuggles. Additionally, while novelty can bring challenges to my autistic-self, it also activates the dopamine system, and she’s just the right amount of unpredictable. Plus she’s funny, and laughing is a booster as well.
  10. She just freakin’ makes me smile.

Did I miss anything? If you have an emotional support pet, how does it help you?

My soothing lil’ Foxy Queen 🙏💖

Cannabis Church Founder Runs for Indiana Governor

By Meg Hartley
Published on September 4, 2019· Last updated July 28, 2020

Bill Levin is what some might call a character. Instead of the customary “Hello?”⁠ when answering the phone, Levin exclaims, “Hi, I love you, Bill Levin here!”

During a phone interview with Leafly, he expanded on his unique greeting: The first time, they seem to think they’ve encountered a lunatic; the second time, they warm up, at least giving a normal greeting in return; it’s a little warmer by the third; and by the fourth time, almost everyone says it back.

Saying “I love you” has the power to connect people in a world that so badly needs it. This love-driven view of change is what motivated him to start Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis, where he is the self-titled “Grand Poobah.”

The church has 50K followers on Facebook, including 1,000+ folks who attend Wednesday services both in-person and worldwide via streaming. These “Cannaterians” operate under a set of rules titled “The Deity Dozen.”

Among other things, the list decrees that Cannaterians use cannabis as a means to heal and develop community, to help others come to their defense, and to quietly contemplate life. It’s pretty darn hard to argue with.

From Grand Poobah to Governor Candidate

Levin is currently running for governor of Indiana. His values carry over to his political ambitions, which started long before his current campaign. His first political run was as a Indianan teen—an acquaintance running for Campus Council President was violating the first of four words of the Deity Dozen: “Don’t be an asshole.” So Levin ran against him.

His campaign was a smash success, though he may have had a little help from mind-altering substances. Not long before the election, he put LSD in a coffee pot at a school event, leading many students to ditch in favor of tripping balls at a movie theater, watching the 1971 hit Omega Man. Though he got away with these hijinks, his early political career was cut short when he got his girlfriend pregnant and they were kicked out of school.

After several decades of managing punk bands and being a small business owner, his political ambitions returned in 2011. He ran for City Council, reporting that he earned about 11% of the vote, which is considerably better than how other Libertarians usually fare (less than 1%).

He gave politics another shot with a run for Indiana State Representative in 2014, earning 10.8% of votes. Now, he’s going big, aiming to take down the incumbent Governor, Eric Holcomb, who was Lieutenant Governor under Mike Pence, the current Vice President.

A Race Likely to Be Canna-Centric

Indiana is a completely cannabis-illegal state. But an October 2018 telephone poll of 604 randomly selected Indiana adults found that 39% favor allowing cannabis to be used for any purpose, and 42% prefer just medical use⁠, totalling a whopping 81% of Hoosiers for legalization in some capacity.

Since Levin is running as a Libertarian, he’ll primarily be competing for votes with whomever the Democratic candidate will be. The favorite to win is Woody Meyers, a former Indiana health commissioner and millionaire venture capitalist who is for decriminalization and medical use but not recreational use.

Levin’s other two opponents are also pro-cannabis: Karlee Macer for medical use, and Eddie Melton for full legalization.

This race looks like it’s going to be featuring cannabis.

Other Indiana officials are also in line with cannabis. Republican House Representative Jim Lucas said that during a trip to Colorado, he tried as much cannabis as he could to see if it was dangerous, coming to the mighty conclusion: “It was the best night of sleep I’ve ever had.”

Eric Holcomb, the incumbent, is less excited and quoted as saying, “I’ve asked the federal government to enforce the law as it is, and I’ve let them know that we’re a law-and-order state.”

High Ambitions

Bill Levin, of course, plans to legalize cannabis. He’s been watching the states around him—Illinois and Michigan are newly recreational, and Ohio is newly medical—noting the ways he’d approach legalization differently, like keeping prices reasonable and ensuring that organized crime is kept out. And he emphasizes it’s crucial residents are legally able to grow their own bud.

Levin is also passionate about caring for homeless residents and intends to use the Governor’s Mansion for a homeless resource center and shelter. He also plans to focus on education needs, with an emphasis on teaching practical modern skills like how to make digital apps.

He also wants to focus on using physical expression, like yoga, instead of practices like study hall and detention, which only waste time and increase frustration. Some schools are already successfully using mindful approaches instead of detention. He’s planning to meet with a large group of teachers next month, for consultation and brainstorming.

These ambitions might sound like pie in the sky, but they’re actually pretty grounded. If politicians truly care about expanding the middle class⁠—the one thing most of them claim to agree on⁠—their lifestyles ought to reflect that, at least to some extent. One man living in 10,500 square feet of house is the polar opposite, isn’t it?

Plus, times are also changing: 10 years ago, legalizing cannabis felt like a fantasy, but now it’s considered to be just a matter of when. And only five years ago, no one thought a democratic socialist could be taken seriously, but now ol’ Bernie’s got a real shot at the presidential nomination. Third-party runners like Bill Levin, game-changers like Bernie Sanders, and oddball visionaries like Marianne Williamson represent schools of thought in need of representation.

Levin’s First Church of Cannabis was the unintended consequence of the 2015 Indiana religious freedom law, which was created after a bakery refused to serve a gay couple. In this same vein, politicians like Bill Levin, and the changes they bring with them, are the result of ideological opposition, which has gotten mighty loud.

With the mind-opening effects of cannabis, hopefully its legalization will bring some less conventional, but more functional, approaches to our politics.

And one last thing, before you go: I love you.

How am I not myself?


When I first encountered the phrase “be yourself” I remember wondering, “What does that even mean? Isn’t that my only option, who else would I be?” The movie i heart huckabees illustrates the quandary via Jude Law losing all of the things he defines himself by: his job, his home, his relationship. He’s left pondering, “How am I not myself?”

In a time where authenticity is a buzzword, do we even know what we mean?

It seems to me that we are the most “ourselves” when we honor our honest desires and needs by expressing and acting to satisfy them. But what are your honest desires and needs? Sometimes it’s not as easy as it sounds to pin down.

A list might pop into your mind like, I want a book deal, I need to get some sun, I want that hot guy, etc. It’s what’s behind them that holds the keys: why do you want what you want?

Do I want a book deal to appease someone else, or do I genuinely feel that I have a message that can help? Do I really want that hot guy or do I want to be seen with him? Do I want to get some sun for my health or to look tan for someone else?

Examine your motivations (without judgement!) and you might get some clarifying surprises. It often turns out that all too much time spent without regard to what you actually want and need. It’s normal in our society to fill one’s time with obligations, letting them replace our passions under the guise of adulting. Be yourself by getting clear what you truly want and why. Make a list.

A great way to not be yourself is to let your reactions rule you. How do you behave when you’re scared or anxious about something? Are you dick-ish without apology or explanation? That’s hiding, you know. So not you. (As is not trying so you can’t fail.)

In high school I had specific music for when friends were in the car, lots of top-of-charts songs I didn’t want to anyone to know annoyed me deeply. That wasn’t great self-ing. It’s pretty common to censor oneself like this, attempting to hide or delete the parts we feel might be rejected. It’s not great you-ing though, and isn’t it exhausting? Try dropping it.

“But then I’ll be rejected,” you might say. Yeah, that’s possible. But if you crack that nerdy joke or share that personal revelation – you might be rewarded with connection and empathy. Also known as “being truly understood.” And that’s the good shit.



What I Learned in Prison.

Meg Hartley for Elephant Journal
January 17, 2015

I readjusted in the metal bunk, smashing my funny bone on a locker in the process.

I tried not to cry out, and looked to my pillow for solace, then remembered its extremely used condition. I flopped my head on the cot and remembered the day’s events.

I had spent seven excruciating hours alone in a room with a toilet and a camera, discovering my body’s reaction to prison was not only to develop a fever, but to overcome the hormones of Depo, delivering my first period in years. Eventually a guard came and got me.

He escorted me to a room where my outfit changed from orange to blue, but not without enduring the most demeaning ten minutes of my life. They discovered no drugs in my bumhole and no used sports bra big enough for these ta-tas.

Freshly suited up, they walked me past two port-a-potties to a tent-like structure. I walked in to a few women watching TV. One snarled, “there’s no f*cking room.” An older lady, who happened to be an ex-advertising client, waved the woman off and walked me to my bunk, even showing me how to tie the sheet.

As soon as she went back to her spot in front of the TV I felt the conversation move towards me, but without including me. Do you know that feeling? Suddenly everyone in the tent seemed to be ignoring me, yet talking directly to me.

They talked about the other girls dorm and how mean they were to new inmates, telling awful stories. I was pretending not to listen when a woman yelled directly at me, “Who cares how new people are treated? I hope your four days are f*cking hell, white bitch!”

I told myself to just be cool.

I took my nose out of the book I was pretending to read and said, “I’m sorry, were you f*cking with me and I wasn’t paying attention?”

She let out a little snort, and said, “she’s cool.” Success!!  I turned my attention downward—somehow I had managed to not pee myself. Double success! The conversations went back to normal volume and gratefully had nothing to do with me.

In any group of people there is usually at least one person born feeling like “the leader of the pack.” This tent definitely had one—she was the one who had nearly made me whiz my unflattering pants. When she spoke, which she did, incessantly and abrasively, the majority of the other girls turned and listened as if these words could change their entire life’s trajectory.

When a girl spoke, she’d look back to the leader for approval.

I continued to listen. These ladies were much, much, rougher than me. They yelled and talked about “beating ass”, while punching random things for emphasis.

I like yoga, inspirational anything, and get really upset when I encounter even fictional violence. I felt very out of place and didn’t want to belong, but also wanted to be present in the experience.

You know? If we’re going to be somewhere—be there.

I adjusted in my bunk again, trying to look involved.

After the conversation moved onto Oxy, specifically the intricacies and impossibilities of smoking it from a toaster, I realized I really didn’t have anything to contribute.

I put my face to my elbow and tried to meditate.

A quiet, centered peace was not in the cards for me that evening.

I kept panicking about prison scenes in movies, worries about what everyone in my small hometown was thinking of me being there and serious concern about where that gross pillow had been.

Eventually I dozed off, then awoke to a light on my face.

Seconds later a prison guard was being referred to as “little princess” and his flashlight had gone from counting gals in bunks to the spastic motions of a boy happy to have the girls notice him.

I wondered what this guy’s life was like outside of the prison, since he seemed to really enjoy this obviously degrading attention. “You know you love me” cooed the leader as the guard suddenly remembered what he was doing,”eight, nine, ten.”

I awoke again with the sense that people were talking about me—to me? To me.

It was time for breakfast. It’s mandatory to eat, they let me know. I slipped on my prison-given socks, put my feet into the Ked’s-looking appointed shoes and tied my dirty hair into a knot. We moved out of the tent into slightly fresher air, tinged with the port-a-potty scent.

We were corralled into the next barricaded area where I saw a girl I knew from school.

Still the prettiest. Still the meanest. Owning it. She even still had a gaggle of minions following her around, just like in middle school. I thought about the personalities that thrive behind bars and wondered what other bullies I went to school with were up to.

We got back to the tent after a meal I can’t even describe (“meat” surprise?) that left me both hungry and bloated.

I tried to dive into the novel I was very lucky to get my little hands on, eventually learning to focus on the story amongst the jarring conversation and constant RealTV violence.

I got swept up, it was sweet and sad and I had to fight to keep tears from running down my face. The theme song to a physics-based sitcom I love distracted me with great timing and no one was at the television. I got a lovely-banket-cozied twenty minutes before someone abruptly changed the station in my face to see if a cage fight was on.

I crawled back into my bunk and continued to observe the relationships going on with these women and the outside. There was a lot of crying, and yelling. One woman who spoke of violence even more than the others was on the phone with her girlfriend much of the time. The inmate’s girlfriend had cheated on her and with a man. She screamed about “dirty d*ck” while visibly crying but not audibly.

A woman in her mid-twenties spoke to her boyfriend with tears streaming down her face, holding the phone with a tight desperation. I later found out that she was a heroin addict throughout her teenage years, but had cleaned up several years ago. She recently had an awful miscarriage and failed to report the non-narcotic medication to her parole officer. For that she got seven months in prison.

They talked to each other. About the fights they’ve been in. The drug busts. How they miss drugs. What they’ve done to get drugs. Who they’ve harmed or stolen from. The children they couldn’t care for. The abuse they’d inflicted and endured.

I wondered what could happen if someone were to convince them that they can have a better life. That they deserve better. That being angry at the world only makes it feel like the world is angry at you.

I was also afraid of drawing attention to myself and actually getting my ass kicked or my glasses broken. So, I behaved as a polite peanut gallery—sometimes adding to whatnot and laughing when appropriate, but mainly just pretending to sleep or attempting to meditate.

Three days went by like this, attempting to hide in plain sight.

But it by bit, I got to know the women. By the last night I had let my walls down, as had even the fiercest of the felons. I slowly let my unguarded personality out and the behavior was reciprocated. As we communicated without fear of our differences we bonded over the experience that we were sharing.

Let me tell you, being incarcerated is one hell of an experience to share. Lots of facets in that one.

Angry yelling turned into straight up giggling. About jail, about life, about it all. Giggling with women whom I had deemed terrifying on first impression. That last night I finally felt comfortable enough to tell some random story involving a golf cart, ’shrooms and Vegas.

The especially violent woman turned to me after and said, “Seriously? You’re f*ckin’ funny? You’ve been f*ckin’ funny this whole time and weren’t f*ckin’ talking? Daaaaaamn, dude, not cool!”

I laughed and wondered what the experience would have held had I been truly unafraid the whole time. When my time was up I said, “I’ll miss you guys, surprisingly,” I nearly reached out for hugs—seriously.

As I walked out of the prison I felt incredibly alive, grateful and educated on many levels.

I learned that when I behave with candor it encourages others to do the same, making it a whole lot easier to see each other clearly. I am strong enough to handle pretty dubious situations with relative ease. Releasing judgement of a moment and allowing it to just be can make even a hard time’s passage graceful.

No matter where I am, I have the ability to maintain presence.

To get a top sheet to stay still on a bunk mat—tie the ends.

And, of course, after enjoying hoppy brewed goodness—always call a cab. I stepped into that moment’s particular cab and “It’s All Right Now” played loud on the radio. I sighed to myself and thought, “yes, yes it is.”