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.

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.

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.

Lessons learned from Covid 19

Empathy without boundaries leads to self destruction.

So no “helping” or teaching others how to suck eggs. It’s arrogant and egotistical anyway. I’m only doing this as I feel I need to help others to show that I’m useful. This just demonstrates low self worth and self esteem.

I am useful and wanted even if most of the time I feel like a dependent teenager.

I don’t need to shop or drink to meet people. It doesn’t work anyway. Best to save the pounds and the calories for a better life. Exercise is good for the mind and the body.

The end of the world has happened so I no longer need to prepare for it. Anxiety and stress are why I did this initially and it’s good to know that I can overcome these behaviours now I have identified them.

I need to feel a connection with people but desperation is no reason to accept everyone into your life. They will come but it’s excruciating waiting for them.

Boundaries are necessary for safety and mental health. It’s not wrong to distance yourself from people. It’s healthy to say no to things you don’t want to do.

Therapy in the form of conversation is necessary on a regular basis to stop insanity from happening.