Advocating for autism

As a proud autistic adult I have written 2 new books and these are about how to deal with the traumatic and emotional events that life throws at us like dealing with grief, social occasions, adolescence etc

Imagina and A Life of Ice and Fire.

This is in addition to Autistic Communication and Autistic Education.

My other books are on How to learn the Greek language, Greek life, More Greek, How to learn languages and finally A Life of Halcyon Days which is a romantic chick lit book set in Greece.

Best wishes

Angela

Women of the war of independence

The Greek reporter (English language newspaper in Greece), are doing a series of articles on the notable people during the Greek War of Independence at the moment. Today’s was on heroines. The first in the list is Bouboulina on which I’m sure the main woman in Zorba the Greek is based on.https://greekreporter.com/2021/03/16/heroines-greek-war-independence-greece/

It’s too difficult for me to research anymore into Greek history without being there so that’s why I have been resorting to occasional newspaper articles. I don’t expect this situation to change anytime soon since it has persisted for most of the past year due to COVID.

If you want to personally research the women of the Greek independence war use this link to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Women_in_the_Greek_War_of_Independence

Sweat the small stuff

I have a friend who likes to write articles contrary to popular opinion and sayings to get you to analyse what is really behind those words and thoughts. Quite often what applies to the majority or what worked in the past no longer applies especially under our current circumstances.

These common phrases often irritate me because while they may apply in some sense to my life they frequently do not. I am not like other people. I am a woman, therefore a human but since I don’t drive, work or have kids that’s where I am vastly different. I have not had the same experiences so I lack that common base.

I am just as intelligent maybe more so in some areas but not in others. It is my differences that seem to cause problems as I am not business minded where as there they would be an asset. I have social skills now although I no longer have any chance to practice them living under my 3rd lockdown. It is tough living with the same people since practically March last year when the first lockdown began.

Banana bread

I now bake bread/cake weekly to keep myself occupied. I didn’t bake in the first lockdown or watch Great British Bake-off but now I have. My bread recipe book and breadmaker are very useful in helping me achieve my edible, creative pursuits.

Pepper and onion bread
Coconut wax dyed and scented candles

I also make candles as gifts. These are comforting hobbies just like encaustic art is. This is an art form that was first made in 6th Century Greece by monks with beeswax and mastic gum from Chios. It is quite tricky to get hold off and to get right so I tried experimenting with lots of different types of paint and wax first because it’s not generally something you have lying around. It’s very tempting but also expensive to order the world off Amazon right now. Jasper Johns also managed to make artworks in this format in 20th century America. Thankyou once again internet, Google and Wikipedia.

Coconut wax dyed, scented and decorated candles

I found that my acrylic effect (sand, silver, gold, white, crystal) paint from Lidl in combination with my dyed coconut wax worked really well. I used some drip paint too (from the Range) for the colouring of my flower meadow. It was quite relaxing to just drip the candle wax where ever but you do have to be careful as it is hot and some candles burn quite furiously if tipped upside down. Don’t do this is you have young kids at home.

Candle wax and acrylic paint on oil paint

In addition to my canvases I have started linocutting also not a child friendly activity. Landscape artist of the year on Sky is responsible for me getting a sudden interest in this and the continuing lockdown that has no end in sight despite progress on the vaccine front.

Linocut test prints

As a result Linocutting is quite calming carving out your pieces ready for printing. The rollering of the ink is surprisingly tricky to get right to produce a good print but I think that is half the fun of it. Enjoying the magic of a process that is both simplistic and random because it is quite the art to getting the ink to stick where it is supposed to and not anywhere else.

Another linocut, the same image but expanded
Trying colours on the linocut

Soon I am going to start indulging in my inner Warhol with screen printing to get better at the ink part of linocutting. That is after all where you make your image come alive. I feel I owe it after visiting the Warhol museum last February. That seems almost a lifetime away now with all that has happened since.

Sweat the small stuff

I have a friend who likes to write articles contrary to popular opinion and sayings to get you to analyse what is really behind those words and thoughts. Quite often what applies to the majority or what worked in the past no longer applies especially under our current circumstances.

These common phrases often irritate me because while they may apply in some sense to my life they frequently do not. I am not like other people. I am a woman, therefore a human but since I don’t drive, work or have kids that’s where I am vastly different. I have not had the same experiences so I lack that common base.

I am just as intelligent maybe more so in some areas but not in others. It is my differences that seem to cause problems as I am not business minded where as there they would be an asset. I have social skills now although I no longer have any chance to practice them living under my 3rd lockdown. It is tough living with the same people since practically March last year when the first lockdown began.

Banana bread

I now bake bread/cake weekly to keep myself occupied. I didn’t bake in the first lockdown or watch Great British Bake-off but now I have. My bread recipe book and breadmaker are very useful in helping me achieve my edible, creative pursuits.

Pepper and onion bread
Coconut wax dyed and scented candles

I also make candles as gifts. These are comforting hobbies just like encaustic art is. This is an art form that was first made in 6th Century Greece by monks with beeswax and mastic gum from Chios. It is quite tricky to get hold off and to get right so I tried experimenting with lots of different types of paint and wax first because it’s not generally something you have lying around. It’s very tempting but also expensive to order the world off Amazon right now. Jasper Johns also managed to make artworks in this format in 20th century America. Thankyou once again internet, Google and Wikipedia.

Coconut wax dyed, scented and decorated candles

I found that my acrylic effect (sand, silver, gold, white, crystal) paint from Lidl in combination with my dyed coconut wax worked really well. I used some drip paint too (from the Range) for the colouring of my flower meadow. It was quite relaxing to just drip the candle wax where ever but you do have to be careful as it is hot and some candles burn quite furiously if tipped upside down. Don’t do this is you have young kids at home.

Candle wax and acrylic paint on oil paint

In addition to my canvases I have started linocutting also not a child friendly activity. Landscape artist of the year on Sky is responsible for me getting a sudden interest in this and the continuing lockdown that has no end in sight despite progress on the vaccine front.

Linocut test prints

As a result Linocutting is quite calming carving out your pieces ready for printing. The rollering of the ink is surprisingly tricky to get right to produce a good print but I think that is half the fun of it. Enjoying the magic of a process that is both simplistic and random because it is quite the art to getting the ink to stick where it is supposed to and not anywhere else.

Another linocut, the same image but expanded
Trying colours on the linocut

Soon I am going to start indulging in my inner Warhol with screen printing to get better at the ink part of linocutting. That is after all where you make your image come alive. I feel I owe it after visiting the Warhol museum last February. That seems almost a lifetime away now with all that has happened since.

Absolute vs Relative Truth

Children and autistics are fans of absolute truth whereas adults are fans of Relative truth. The former often view the latter as dishonest and the reverse is a viewing them as naive. As an example when you are a child you don’t have any restrictions on what you say so you will famously say that Grandma looks fat or ugly in that outfit and hurt her feelings. This is your first foray into if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I know the Greeks are fabulous when it comes to restraint as I’ve said many a comment in the past that could cause a stir which has been ignored mainly because they feign misunderstanding a lot.

Politicians have advanced knowledge of relative truth as they have learnt that facts can all have a spin put on them to look a certain way. We all know they are famous for their U-turns on policy on a regular basis. Plausible deniability is another phrase that’s been invented to showcase that that people deliberately keep themselves ignorant of proceedings so that they can’t be called into an investigation of illiegal behaviour because they have no prior knowledge of the events currently taking places.

Business leaders are also very good at the do as I say not as I do phrase that we are often told by parents when we point out that previous teachings are being counteracted by their current behaviour. It’s good for establishing hierarchy but often it causes rebellion from children/autistics as they do see why they need to obey others. They believe in a fair, egalitarian society rather than the one that actually exists.

As we get older we all learn to present stories from certain angles in order to get what we want. We show certain sides to our personalities in order to gain employment, become attractive to potential suitors or to teach our children a lesson. This presents a huge problem to your fellow autistic like myself who believes in absolute truth all of the time. I’m gradually coming around to the fact that there are actually benefits to including certain aspects in stories and leaving others out.

As I currently present a childish, 1 dimensional front to the world I am an extremely boring friend and conversationalist. The fact I have seen more of the world than the average person is irrelevant because I never get to the establishing friendships with others stage. The fact that I’m not interested in for example the Only Way is Essex, Coronation Street or Love Island means the connections are never formed.

I’m gaining a more nuanced view of the world and understanding the granualations that are present in everyday life. The constant state of lockdowns in the UK this year has been extremely beneficial for me to understand a lot of things about myself and the others that previously just didn’t occur to me. I’m also learning about parenting techniques reflecting on the experiences I have had interacting with the children belonging to close friends. I have never spent so much time talking on the phone or on video calls as I have done this year.

I’m very thankful for the fact that meditation repaired my relationship with my mother and I now call her most days for although what she may tell me is for the most part incredibly dull; it’s not like I have anything more interesting to tell her either. Connections are very important especially this year.

A year in review

2020 has been a roller-coaster year. We have had the first lockdown in the spring which was unprecedented at the time and I coped with it by doing art and photography. I also went from some walks. Our student rentals suffered as everyone went home but we just stopped the services and applied for refunds. Some of which we got quicker than others. As you may know I spent my time painting, taking photographs, writing and spending a lot of time watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. I couldn’t stomach my usual programming choice of WestWorld. Meditation was reforming me just as much as the enforced isolation was.

I was also in the process of moving house having acquired a new property last October. It needed a lot of work doing to it and we had ripped out fireplaces, tidied the garden etc already. We were waiting on the council to approve our extension plans before we could put in a new kitchen as the existing space was far too small. The house had been built in the depression era and had been occupied by a spinster for most of her life. As such she hadn’t changed the layout of the house only adding a stairmaster which had been present for the last 25 years.

That meant that our house needed to be emptied of its goods but we still needed to keep enough items there in case we went back there. We didn’t know how long the lockdown was going to last but we were staying at the in-laws temporarily as we had just got back from a holiday to India with them. It was strange living in that bubble not knowing how long we would be there and when we could leave and re-enter the world. The weather was amazing for the time of year so that kept our spirits up as well as Amazon. Being able to see another person even if it was for 2 minutes while they delivered something was a lifeline.

Then the quarantine finally eased up. So we had friends round for socially distanced BBQs. These were bizarre affairs as everything was separate so its like we were in rival gangs living in the same neighbourhood sharing a communal piece of ground. We were so grateful to have company though as our conversations were becoming rather stale. Nobody had been out in months except to the supermarket and there wasn’t anything to report from those trips. The drive to a fast food outlet was heaven.

It was very odd when we finally went back to our own home town after months spent holed up with my in-laws. The pubs were radically altered with their queues and separation measures. The convival atmosphere of the pub had disappeared. Only outdoor pubs could open. Luckily we would continually be blessed with good weather. This was highly unusual to have such a long run of good weather. That certainly helped with people’s moods. It was good for business too.

Afterwards, while the eat out to help out scheme was running to try to persuade people back into restaurants mingling with others; we went to Greece to try to salvage something of the year. It was bakingly hot but so quiet so the tourist industry still suffered. This was a bit of a problem in terms of income but we were glad as there was a lot less work to do. The ambience wasn’t there again but if your worried about your income it isn’t going to be.

My birthday came around and in the relative ease that we were enjoying I had my parents round who I hadn’t seen all year and we went to Ramsgate. We also had a very enjoyable day at a local zoo checking out the improvements that had made since I last visited several years ago. It was also a birthday trip then I believe if I recall correctly.

After that there was a new student year to prepare for but we were granted some more luck here as the students sign up in December/January so its very difficult for them to renege on their contracts. There is always a couple that decide uni isn’t for them or go elsewhere but were used to those teething problems. Unis were operating in a different way to before but the social isolation that preceded it meant that there reopening was necessary to try to get to some form of normality again. With the introduction of the tier system the media started to propagate the idea that universities were fertile Covid breeding grounds. This was again not true as although students thought they were immune and being a bit careless; It was more that drinking makes you forget about the new restrictions so you hug, kiss and visit many people. Mental health is a very important factor to the new generations so they know that self care is crucial to their well being. This includes the sensation of touch which can’t be replicated by Zoom or phone calls no matter how many you have or how often.

However, with a second lockdown that created some more problems or reignited old ones. Some students returned to their country of origin scared by the fear mongering that the media creates. There was also the inevitable backlash of students paying thousands for online lessons but again this is another media story blown all out of proportion. Students have generally being coping pretty well if the stories of my husband’s cousins are to act for all students in Corona virus hotspots.

November was a big month for me as I took to baking and pickling everything in sight for people’s Christmas presents. I refused to buy the same generic presents that I always did. The shops were not selling anything new and there had been no craft fairs to buy handmade gifts or something out of the ordinary. Most of the shops were closed again so it was handy that I had already bought my husbands presents in October when I had chance to browse. I couldn’t get anything spectacular but then we hadn’t been anywhere new after March to be able to pick up good gifts.

On a personal note I finally moved house after buying the next one what was now a year ago. My husband bought it while I was on a hen do so I had no choice in the matter. I’m not into the property game having moved house many times in my childhood. The whole renovation game is not my deal. I’m no good at any of those tasks having tried my hand at them all many times previously. The council had finally granted permission for us to start the extension and renovation works after applying a year ago so that meant back to the in-laws. I had a week’s notice to pack up our house and decide what was going to the new house as we wouldn’t need it for about 3 months and what was going to the in-laws. Their house was still accommodating the majority of our items from earlier on in the year but now they got everything that was left in our house. Its a good thing they have a big house.

It took me weeks to find homes for all the items. I spent a lot of time checking dates and quality of items as we didn’t have time to be choosy when we moved. We once again borrowed our mates cars and vans to move house as hubby refuses to get removal vans when those same mates own curtain sided lorries for their family business. Furniture is difficult to move and we didn’t have time to sell items off like last time we moved. There was also no time for charity to collect items either. It took us a day to clean and shift with several trips.

As the 2nd lockdown ended we had the tightening of restrictions with the upping of the tiers that the majority of people were in. This included myself as were now in tier 3 so lockdown in all but name. We had been in tier 1 beforehand which gave us relative freedom but now that had been removed. We had been imprisoned in our homes once again. Its a good thing I’m such a hermit crab. I went back to my usual organisation of cupboards, fridges and even the freezer this time. I realised this is the most stereotypical autistic thing I do as nobody else gets such joy from a well stocked, labelled and organised larder.

There was a lot of prep work for Christmas this year despite the fact that it was destined not to be well attended. We might not even have a party. I had to keep the house clean though as well as ourselves. Having quickly got zoom fatigue and found out I’m completely useless at music quizzes I took to calling people on the phone and WhatsApp video calls. In the first lockdown I found out that people are easily freaked out if you call them using Facebook messenger regardless of whether its video or audio. Especially if you don’t usually call them. I learnt to only contact the close friends as that makes the conversation run smoother even though nobody is actually doing anything. The transition to the new tier 4 which is a regional lockdown made doubly sure of that.

Life has a funny habit of creeping up on you when your not watching it as people still got new cars, had car accidents, elderly relatives died and major operations occurred. As for me the major event was finding out that my father had stage 4 terminal cancer yet I couldn’t go and see him because of the regulations forbidding travel. There were always in a different tier to us. There was also the fact that he had to have a covid test before each appointment and self isolate to protect himself. He had many scans and xrays of various parts as it was a proper detective story locating it and finding the original source. He had been fine as far as I was aware for my birthday but in actuality it had been picked up on a scan 6 months previously however due to the onset of Covid it had been missed and allowed to progress until he no strength at all. He was rushed to hospital barely able to breath but after a night inside he was dispatched. The saga continues still to this day as he is being treated by 3 different hospitals and the consultants can’t agree on the best course of action. He had a hip operation but is at home and my mother is struggling to cope. Its not what you expect to be dealing with in your golden years. The neighbours she would have previously relied upon have either died, moved away to stay with younger relatives due to ill health or simply moved because there are too many bad memories from other close friends dying.

Knight fight

This is a series of historically themed fighting shows on US TV featuring 6 men fighting in armour with weapons as if they were part of a jousting contest but without the horses. It’s like an historic UFC fight as there are a couple of rules. You can’t hit the groin, feet or back of the knee, not hitting a man when he is down, no stabbing motions.

Each episode starts with the 6 guys going head to head against each other to see who wins the Grand Melee after 3 rounds of 90 seconds. It’s hard work and 2 contestants are eliminated by the 3 judges who score them on aggression, technique, takedowns and injuries. Octagon control is not a factor here even though it’s a dodecahedron.

In the second bout the remaining combatants are paired up to take on the role of a famous battle for 3 rounds of 90 seconds. I watched Saxons vs Romans and Vikings vs Byzantines. I had no idea that the Vikings had gone as far as India!

After the historically themed second stage is over the winners face each other one on one in a final 2 round 90 second battle to decide who wins the $10k episode prize and then goes through to the grand final to battle all of the other episode champions.

I didn’t know such a sport or society existed in America for them to make a reality show out of it for the History channel.

Inktober 52 by Jake Parker

Of course when you have a good thing going you don’t want it to stop or be confined to a small period in the year. So Jake Parker has come up with a way to extend this to the rest of the year. No wonder some people get irritated that he is trying to make money off this by trademarking what essentially started off as a few drawing contest.

Those who participated in this year’s inktober will see that 40-44 are from this year’s prompt list. There is also crossover with Drawlloween and other lists since they are just starting points.
Satellite day 45 prompt for inktober 52 in tinted charcoal
Day 1 inktober 52 prompt of Flight in ink
Day 2 prompt shadow in fineliner
Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton from True Blood for the Drawlloween day 6 prompt of vampire and the inktober52 week/day 7 prompt of dinner in fineliner.
Week/Day 4 inktober 52 snake. Nagini from Harry Potter fineliner.

Drawlloween and other drawing prompts

Using sharpie markers and fine liners on day 1 of Drawlloween
OC stands for original characters
Using charcoal for all the other day 1 prompts I found like inkt-tober, creamtober, witchtober, goretober, monstober, OCtober, orctober, drawtober, darktober, plastober, spooktober, flufftober, and catober. As you can tell my obessional autistic nature has reared its head as there is only so much cooking, cleaning, tidying, washing, shopping, walking and organising one can do in a day.
The day 3 Drawlloween prompt was clown which worked much better than the day 29 inktober prompt of shoes.
I was very naughty here as the day 26 prompt was spider but it just so happened to be the day 31 of inktober too – crawl
Day 6 Vampire but also inktober 52 week/day 7 dinner fineliner for Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton from True Blood

Inktober 2020

Week 1

My first inktober drawings using a fine liner
Week 2 but in graphite still following the monochrome rule
Week 3 using high colour ink washes, white permanent marker and some primal prompts totally disobeying the monochrome rule
I coloured in my week 1 drawings so they look more alive now.
Week 4 using fine liners and ink as I’m not really a pen and ink kind of person
Day 27 music using fine liner and calligraphy ink as this is the closest I get to monochrome really
Week 4 I can’t draw freehand but I can copy quite well. I also have a problem with hands.
I thought clown shoes would give me ample practice but there so simple cartoon ones.
I did 2 as I first did this in charcoal and then ink but all you can see is ink
This is the second one I just did in charcoal
Here I did various comic book/popular culture spiders as I had some new fineliners and ink I wanted to try out.

I have enjoyed doing this and I have also started on doing other drawing prompts like Drawlloween etc. There are so many that this post would become overloaded with pictures if I posted them all here. So I made another post to do just that!

Greece and India

When I was writing many articles about the history of Lefkás last year someone commented about the fact they thought there was some link between the two. At the time I couldn’t find anything on the web about this so I couldn’t help them. It is only through listening to the excellent Eva Palmer Sikelianos- Her life in ruins by Artemis Leontis that I have been able to find out any information about this. Even Google comes up blank!

Now in order to fill in a lot of gaps of generally unreported or unknown history I’m going to have to give out a couple of history recaps and this will make this article long and quite possibly unwieldy. Bear with me while I set the scene.

When I was in India just before Covid caused the world to shutdown I went to the Gandhi memorial gardens. It’s a peaceful paradise in the middle of a busy, hot, dirty city. It’s quite simple but it’s effective just like Gandhi would have wanted it to be. It is however part of the tourist trail which is not what he would have wanted but you don’t have control after you die. As we were on quite a whistle stop tour we just passed by it since you can see everything from your window and Covid was starting to bite. It might have been nice to go around the place but instead I have a postcard memory. By that I mean the memory of an image rather than the actual place.

As India is so big it’s good to have a plan in place so that you make the most of your time there. Checking out Gandhi’s history only became part of the schedule as we had time to spare. It would take a whole other holiday to properly research this.

As I’m clearly digressing from the point I’m wanting to make I will try to get there promptly. The reason I mention Gandhi is because he was a major influence in the revolution in India against British colonial rule and included in that was wearing Parisian fashion. These were often made using Indian cotton and cloth. This was to become known as the khadi or homespun cloth movement. He wished women to go back to the loom and weave their own clothes similar to Eva Palmer Sikelianos.

Eva had also met the first Indian Nobel literature prize winner poet and polymath Rabindranath Tagore; along with the granddaughter of Dadabhai Naoroji who was known as the Grand Old Man of India. Now Khorshed Naoroji is a person who has completely disappeared into history apart from her time spent with Eva, Gandhi and the knighted Tagore.

Khorshed possibly had a brief intense relationship with Eva where she was converted into wearing traditional Indian saris instead of the more fashionable Parisian styles she was more accustomed to wearing. She was trying to develop a Byzantine style school to teach those in India about Greek music, dance, language and culture and would have succeeded but Eva choose to help her husband with the development of the Delphic festivals. It was this that led to Eva’s life in ruins as well as her study of archeology 😉

Rabindranath Tagore’s novel Choker Bali is available on Netflix to watch if you want to find out more about his work for yourself. I found it a very enjoyable watch. It’s subtitled as far as I recall.

The Grand Old Man of India, Dadabhai Naoroji, was the first British Indian MP who is commentated in many street names in India but also in Finsbury Park London. If I had continued to read the William Dalrymple book that was in a hotel in India I would know more as would you all.

Clothing as a social and economic battleground

Many different people have used clothes over the years to showcase their point in a way that there words and action have not quite been able to capture people’s attention.

Catharine the Great had done so to emphaise both her feminity but also that she was empress of Russia. With that she was leader of the armed forces so was entiled to have military elements added to her dresses to show solidarity but ultimately that she was in charge.

Eva Palmer Sikelianos rallied against the influence that the Parisian fashion houses had on the bourgeois in the 20th century. She was so committed to presenting herself as an original that she wove all her own clothes from her adulthood onwards. She also influenced many of her Indian compatriots including Khorsed Naoroji and Gandhi to adopt their nationalist dress.

Freddie Mercury or Farrokh Bulsara who was of Parsi Indian origin, wore outrageous clothing on stage to make the point that you can be an outsider in terms of culture, religion, language and sexuality but if you have an undeniable talent and showmanship the people will flock to you. You can change the world bringing light, awareness and recognition to sensitive issues like AIDS.

In the case of Elton John ie Reginald Kenneth Dwight, he showed that while flamboyant costumes make a good character, so does a more subtle look as it doesn’t change your innate talent. In addition he decided to fight back against the drug and alcohol abuse that is so prevalent in the music business by going sober many years ago and still be hugely successful.

Lady Gaga Or Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is known for her stage outfits being on a par with Elton John with how otherworldly they can be. Her meat dress springs to mind as a protest against treating gay people as pieces of meat. They have rights too.

Grayson Perry is an artist/potter who famously went to collect his award for services to art from the queen wearing a dress and in her Claire persona. It was interesting to see that during lockdown within his own house he was wearing normal clothes for a man. He even joked that since it went on for so long the first time he almost shouldn’t be allowed to do it again or anymore.

Drag and it’s older theatrical cousin pantomime is the ultimate in self expression and non conformity as it is men dressed as women. This is lowering your place in the social hierarchies and they are poking fun as what society says you must do in order to be classified as a man or a woman. This disobedience allows others to bring attitudes, beliefs and desires to light that outside of a comical show would be too heavy to digest otherwise.

“Woke” society is identifying with this recategorization as is the LGBT+ movement. A lot of millennials and Gen Z kids don’t conform to gender stereotypes. They see themselves as gender neutral, non binary or gender fluid. This allows them to combine elements of both traditional female and male clothing to create there own styles. Fashion is about breaking the rules and they are certainly doing so.

Covid ink drawings and paintings

I have been doing some oil paintings recently along with some ink drawings and Covid has infiltrated my brain.

I didn’t realize there was a prompt list for Inktober so I drew this instead.
It was very difficult to paint this artwork but it’s proved popular with viewers so far.
This was my first Covid inspired artwork
This is the second but you would have to be a Pokemon fan to realise that.

Photography and oil painting update

I have been practicing with my new camera that I got for my birthday and sampling a new way of painting after watching Bob Ross. He was on during lockdown and since I think we’re soon to be locked down again I thought I better get cracking.

The Lefkás pictures are not mine by the way. (Also, I’m still reading the feminist books as I took a break for my birthday to visit friends and have my parents visit me.)

Autism origins?

I was thinking recently that the reasons autism has so many different facets that can be studied is that it needs to be triggered in the brain by an external force. There are lots of people who seem autistic but are not diagnosed. We all have different neurology but only some get problems during there lifetime. I think a certain type of brain is more prone to autism but without the environmental factors present it doesn’t develop into that.

I think childhood isolation in terms of living in remote communities or having a very insular family helps autism to develop sooner. Low emotional intelligence in your immediate environment means less social skills, less communication skills and therefore your forced to develop your intelligence in order to have something to do. This develops the ego and the arrogance that comes with a pure focus on your own development. The older you get, the less flexible you become and your habits become more and more ingrained until that is all you are, a series of fixed routines.

Autism can’t be detected at birth but as soon as there personality starts to develop and they can communicate it can be tested for. A lot of children are found in early childhood but those that have more subtle forms like myself take longer to be discovered. This constant seeking a solution to why your child is different creates problems in the child as they don’t think there is anything is wrong with them until they have internalised your issues. Then you have a much bigger problem on your hands as they believe what you are constantly telling them.

I was also thinking that when your parent(s) has a problem that becomes part of who you are without you realising that. That is not you and your personality but because you were exposed to it so much as a child you absorbed it unconsciously. This is even worse when it’s an undiagnosed condition as you can’t even start to undo it without some serious introversion. When you do this anyway, you start overthinking as you have entered a Labyrinth that is very tricky to get out. Perseus needed a ball of string to defeat the Minotaur and in Inception it was the silver spinning top.

Also, I was thinking that can be possible for many different diseases that people pick up along the way. They have the genes that cause complications like my husband having leukaemia but without the event that caused that defect to turn on it was just there.

As you can tell I had a lot of ideas swirling around my brain today that have only just coalesced into shape. It’s so hot right now that I can’t think during the day. It’s good for being at peace with yourself but not so good as issues can’t be addressed they just get submerged until it’s cooler then they re-emerge.

Language problem solved

I finally figured out why I can’t speak – preciseness of language. I had this drummed into me as a kid. I lived on a farm as a child so had very little contact with people. When for the first couple of years all you speak to are your parents, occasional fishermen, perhaps the vet and your grandparents if they come to visit then of course you can’t speak properly. You don’t have enough practice with forming your words as you don’t even have a sibling to practice with as your the eldest. This is why you try to compensate when your brother turns up and has the same problem. You have already been through the same problem and your trying to rectifying it but your making him codependent on you as he isn’t old enough to talk yet and you are.

In order to speak correctly you need to be able to make mistakes. As a child you need to learn all the different sounds of your language in order to know which are the correct ones. If your not allowed this trial and error process then you stop speaking. Your linguistic and therefore social development is hampered by your parents whose own issues are preventing you from being all that you can be. They are creating major problems for you and themselves by expecting you to be a fully formed adult in terms of communication before that is possible.

I figured this out finally at dinner last night as I was trying to order a lamb chop but the Greek words are no longer on the menu to refresh my memory. I thought it was arnaki as it sounds like little lamb to me based on the words for little and lamb. It’s similar but it’s actually paidaikia. This is one of those many words that are confusing because if you get the stress wrong you order little children paidi akia instead of lamb chops pai diakia. I was also contemplating the fact that his children might be coming to visit us soon so I can’t get away with speaking English as there too young to know any at 6 and 3 I think but I’m not sure as I haven’t meant them yet.

These mini crisis are important as they show up the problems that were created in your childhood that you are no longer aware of as it was so long ago. I was first alerted to this when my husband’s best friend changed partners and started bringing round their children. I had previously avoided all children like the plague because they made me uncomfortable. They reminded me of my own inability to have them. They also represented change which I can’t handle unless I’m in a relaxed, open frame of mind.

Know thyself

For a person that has spent so much time time studying everything about Greece I didn’t until very recently know myself!

I had very carefully lost and hidden little parts of my soul all over the place very much like Voldemort did with his horcruxes. I had to turn detective to track down what these items were and were they were located to track them down. Just like In Harry Potter this involves the loss of life but this was in fact the one that I had created for myself and I needed to shed.

I have just started reading Codependent no more as I had identified myself as possibly suffering from this during Lockdown. The book took forever to turn up as I had accidentally ordered it from a thrift shop in the us on amazon so it needed to clear customs etc. This is an amazing book as I got stuck right in reading it. It’s life changing just like when you read the Power of Now or Metahuman/The Healing Self.

However the book I have decided to give up on after about 6 weeks is The Artists Way. This is a 12 week program so it’s very slow going but I don’t identify with it very strongly. It only vaguely speaks to me. Going on Artists dates is practically impossible if you start during Lockdown but I will say that the morning pages have been amazing for me. I write diary articles in addition to this and I have found that I have been dormant at my in laws house for too long. I’m triggered too much there as I’m bored. I get no social interaction as I’m in the countryside isolated from everyone. This is not healthy for me. I need input from people to be able to grow but this stopped as soon as I graduated from uni.

It’s no good for me to spend 3 months at a time living with my in-laws. The winters are bad enough with the weather that I don’t need to be adding social problems and drunkenness to cope with this. Christmas ok that’s food, drinks, parties. We’re stopping that now though as there getting to the stage where we need to be doing this. I have thought for a couple years now we need to have a smaller gathering to make it manageable.I liked it to begin with as we never celebrated in my family but now it’s over the top. My brain decides to hibernate when I stay there as do I as a result. My weight always increases too which isn’t good as I don’t want to be losing my figure which I am right now.

I don’t know what I’m going to do about the future as I need to start living in my own home but I don’t have a life in either the uk or Greece due to my lack of working creditionals or children. All this moving about isn’t good for giving me a settled life either. Lockdown was good as nobody could do anything about it but now we need to be moving forward. I think this is maybe why the child hasn’t turned up because I stopped progressing in life.

The struggles that women face when trying to become self employed

I have found that doing your side hussle as a way to keep yourself occupied because your unable to get a job means that your side hussle will fail. I have tried and tried and tried some more. I have worked to the point of burnout with no success.

If you are a self employed woman like myself you don’t have the pre existing business connections, the capital (money) or the resources to make it a commercial success. You also have our paternalistic society against you. In order to make it in a man’s world you have to deny your femininity. This means no relationships or children which is such an inhumane and demoralising way to live. Most women can only persist with this for so long. Eventually, their hormones get the better of them. By this I mean they might have a breakdown because there life just isn’t fulfilling anymore. They come to the conclusion that there is more to life then work and money.

If you do manage to have a child which I haven’t you will most likely find that you are not able and do not want to devote yourself to your job like you did before. Your priorities have changed but the working world hasn’t. Covid may have granted us a lifeline here with working from home but you have other new issues here. You now have more time and energy since you are no longer commuting but you still have the childcare problem in addition to your housework plus there is now no separation between work and home life. One intrudes on the other and everyone knows that bringing your work home is a bad idea. Trying to be a super mom is a disaster waiting to happen.

Most women that I’ve seen start new careers on maternity leave to earn extra money find that it is not sufficient which is why most mum-entrepreneurs as they have been called stop within the year. They don’t have the support that is required to really make there businesses a success. There is not generally anything wrong with them but the financial situation is usually what sways them.

I have come across a lot of women who have tried to start their own business. They have not lasted. The home beauty business model is flawed. Avon ladies are not particularly successful neither are the Virgin cosmetics girls or the ones selling Ann Summers products. Pick any company that relies on women to host parties and/or sell to their girlfriends and within a year they will quit. They don’t get the benefits associated with their old jobs like the socialisation that comes with after work drinks.

If you are always a stay at home mother then you start to yearn for a life outside the home like you did before otherwise you come to resent your new life which is no good for the child’s development. You miss adult company and conversations so much you wonder why you even thought having a child was a smart idea. Talking becomes very difficult as all young mums know since your life now consists of in the Night Time Garden and Peppa Pig.

I have seen that in Lefkáda that female business ventures tend to work out better as they have big extended families to help out with all of the different tasks of daily life. They also have a much bigger support network so socialisation isn’t so much of a problem. However, even over there the ones that are apart from their family groups haven’t managed to make such a success of things.

Life is all about balance and if your supports are not present then your life is going to be uneven. You can look at raising a child as the cherry on top of a multi-tiered cake. If the layers below are not stable then the top will add too much pressure resulting in the collapse of all that is underneath it. We need to help each other out so that all women live the lives they deserve and if they desire children they can have them in an environment that is conducive to a healthy childhood. It prevents a lot of later issues that may not be able to be fixed in the future.

Autism and its problems

I just thought I would explain in these sections some of the comorbidities(conditions that exist alongside) Autism.

Autism creates the need to collect everything. This explains the popularity of Pokemon but also it’s a safety mechanism. We are scared and frightened of the outside world so we collect objects that are comforting to us. They reassure us much like when small children need a stuffed toy to be happy or a blanket to keep themselves warm.

Autism creates hyperlexia (always reading everything in sight, everywhere you go) as we get embarrassed about asking questions that we think we should already know the answer to and suffer in silence as a result. This most recently happened to me at a birthday party when they were talking about drugs but using a new code word that I had not heard.

Autism creates disassociation in order to deal with a world that doesn’t give you enough processing time to be able to communicate your needs. This is why autistics seem to live in their own world instead of the world inhabited by everyone else. It’s also why autistics talk in the third person like everything is happening to someone else.

Autism creates selective mutism as you have a lot of shyness and insecurities when in unfamiliar situations and with new people. Change is not good for an autistic person and this unsettling feeling prevents them from talking. They lurk in the background.

Autism creates alexirhthymia which causes panic(attacks) and anxiety in social situations because you suddenly become overwhelmed by emotions but you don’t know what they are so they unsettle you. You always need to explore every new environment looking for exits and toilets in case you need to make a quick escape.

Autism creates tics, stims (self regulating, calming, repeating movements and schedules) as well as blurts (random phrases characteristic of Tourette’s syndrome).

Autism creates an insular, introverted self in order to deal with all of the unhealed trauma in your life. As processing takes so long you need to isolate yourself from the world for increasing periods of time. You become like an outdated computer operating system as the lag time between actions increases and you need to shutdown more often. Unfortunately your memory or processor speed cannot be upgraded.

Autism creates an awesome long term memory for facts and figures because they are a lot easier to deal with than emotions and events. People are dynamic and spontaneous therefore any event involving them is subject to lots of change. This cannot be dealt with if you have lots of unaddressed issues lurking in your head.

Autism creates eating issues like anorexia and bulemia because you want some control over the world and the only way you can seem to do that is by controlling your own body by eating, drinking and exercising.

Since autism runs in families it creates attachment issues because their insecurities are grafted onto you like a new root stock is often attached to a plant to make it more fruitful or colourful and you take these new shoots in as part of your personality. Since autistic people are like sponges they mimic what they see around them so if there is a lack of love they will develop a lot of unhealthy coping strategies to deal with the world.

We’re highly perceptive, emotional, empathetic, caring people but our talents are hidden by all of this absorbed grief which blocks our ability to connect with others. This is why we cannot hug or kiss like everyone else. It’s also why we can’t do small talk. We say we don’t care when we in fact care about everything and everyone. We don’t know how to set boundaries yet or say no so there is no free energy left in us for us no matter how healthy we eat, how much exercise we partake in or sleep we get. We grow chronologically but mentally our minds are stuck in the past often on an event that happened so long ago we can’t even remember the details just the pain that it caused and is still present affecting us every single minute of our lives.

An autistic child suffers and cannot connect through having a unique brain but is also hindered by being highly aware of all that is wrong in the world and wanting to fix it. You only need to look at Greta Thunberg to see evidence of this in action. Being highly empathetic with low social, verbally communicative and emotional skills means you cannot communicate your hearts desire. This means that you have to act out your intentions since you are controlled by your emotions. As these just turn up you become very unstable. This makes you unpleasant to be around. It also leads to others patronising you and treating you as an insolent, resistant child that can be prone to violence or self harming as a way of exerting some control over situations you find yourself involved in. It may also lead to depression, suicidal ideation and eventually attempted/actual suicide.

Autistic children grow up into autistic adults with these same issues but they no longer get any help from anywhere so these problems fester and grow. As autistic people want to communicate they turn to the universal subject of sex to talk about and engage in it often if possible. This is why they can be part of big families. They love the physical release they get from sex but it’s only temporary like any other drug only this is a natural one which is why we are attracted to it more than anything else. It’s another coping strategy that doesn’t help us really in the end.

We need to tell our stories whether it’s written, painted, filmed, photographed or signed. Communication is what makes us human and if we can’t do that something is wrong in our psyche that will take a lot of coaxing to resolve if that is even possible. However, therapy is not the answer. Real human connection, awareness, appreciation and understanding is.

Autistic Masking, Late Diagnosis, and Dissociation: The Toll It Takes on Autistic Mental Health

The best article I’ve seen about what it feels like to grow up as an undiagnosed autistic woman.

Autistic Science Person

CW: Gaslighting, self-harm, intrusive thoughts

(Long Post, Summary/Conclusion paragraph at the end)

This blog post came about after having a dissociation episode after watching Westworld a few nights ago. This post has helped me realize the reason and cause of my dissociation, likely from being an undiagnosed autistic person for 25 years of my life.

The Undiagnosed Autistic Life

Imagine all your life, you’ve been told that you just seem a “little” off. Just, you know, a little different. When you give your opinions, you’re either ignored, or simply told it’s “not a big deal” when you were not trying to complain, you were trying to collaborate. Whatever you do, whatever you say, is annoying, is rude, is unimportant, is inappropriate. Other people make excuses for you. “Oh you know, that’s just how she is. She’s just a bit different from the rest of us.”

GIF of the mother in Fantastic Mr. Fox talking to her son: "I know what it's like to feel, different." as she is wiggling her hands. GIF of the mother in…

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