Feline Focus

Feline Focus
My latest puma, July 2016


Beloved companion to Sarah, Nov 2015

Window To The Soul

Window To The Soul
Watercolour Horse, June 2015

Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping Beauties
Watercolour Lionesses, Nov 2012


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

Groucho Marx

Snow Stalker

Snow Stalker
Another snow leopard - my latest watercolour offering - July 2013

28 April 2017

A Pile Of Pooh!

The REAL Pooh!

Okay, I have to do this: it just cannot be borne any longer. *clasps hand to heart, and sighs deeply*

There is something I’ve been needing to get off my chest for a while now (and I don’t mean my bra.  It’s a saying we have here in England - not sure if it’s used in the rest of the UK because I don’t live there.  But it’s rather apt, given that your heart is situated in the chest area.  But I digress).  I know it’s not earth-shatteringly important in the scheme of things, but to me it is a major bugbear (bear - Pooh bear - ha ha ha *rolls eyes at own wit*), and the time has come to put people right.

Winnie the Pooh was written by AA Milne, who was English.  He wrote two books of stories about those characters, which were published in 1926 and 1928.  That’s all.  TWO BOOKS SPECIFICALLY ABOUT POOH.  He died in 1956.  

Since then, the character of Pooh has been appropriated by Disney, and therein lies the problem.  More books have been written about the Pooh characters, and people quote from them, and attribute said quotes to the REAL Pooh, and AA Milne.  Except that they have nothing to do with the real Pooh at all.  

They are the Disneyfied, homogenised (and I have to say it, so please don’t be offended because I know it’s not all of you), Americanised versions - which means they now churn out sentimental stories about Pooh and friends that are saccharine-sweet, sugar-coated, sappy clap-trap, full of dumbed-down ‘life lessons’, and rousing motivational speeches about how “you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  Yuck!!!  Makes me want to tear my hair out, and vomit.

(As a side note, I just checked on Google the date of AA Milne’s death, and the first two of three Pooh quotes listed were Disney ones, the first being the awful one that I’ve just quoted above!  AAAAAaaaaaahhhhh!!!! *runs screaming around the room in circles, like a demented duck*)

STOP IT!!!  Just STOP IT, would you?!  If you’re going to quote AA Milne, and Pooh, at least make sure you’re bloody well quoting the REAL thing, and not the bloody fake shite that Disney churns out.  These characters are not sweet, or cute, and one-dimensional - they are nuanced, and have depth.  The humour is subtle - it’s dry, ironic, sardonic, laconic, droll, deadpan, sarcastic, wry, and even (God forbid!) anarchic.  The man was English, for God’s sake: his humour is quintessentially English (or British).  And here’s the proof:

“Owl,” said Rabbit shortly, “you and I have brains.  The others have fluff.  If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it.”
“Yes,” said Owl.  “I was.”
“Read that.”
Owl took Christopher Robin’s notice from Rabbit and looked at it nervously.  He could spell his own name WOL, and he could spell Tuesday so that you knew it wasn’t Wednesday, and he could read quite comfortably when you weren’t looking over his shoulder and saying “Well?” all the time, and he could…
“Well?” said Rabbit.
“Yes,” said Owl, looking Wise and Thoughtful.  “I see what you mean.  Undoubtedly.”
“Exactly,” said Owl.  “Precisely.”  And he added, after a little thought, “If you had not come to me, I should have come to you.”
“Why?” asked Rabbit.
“For that very reason,” said Owl, hoping that something helpful would happen soon.
“Yesterday morning,” said Rabbit solemnly, “I went to see Christopher Robin.  He was out.  Pinned on his door was a notice!”
“The same notice?”
“A different one.  But the meaning was the same.  It’s very odd.”
“Amazing,” said Owl, looking at the notice again, and getting, just for a moment, a curious sort of feeling that something had happened to Christopher Robin’s back.  “What did you do?”
“The best thing,” said Owl wisely.
“Well?” said Rabbit again, as Owl knew he was going to.
“Exactly,” said Owl.
For a little while he couldn’t think of anything more; and then, all of a sudden, he had an idea.
“Tell me, Rabbit,” he said, “the exact words of the first notice.  This is very important.  Everything depends on this.  The exact words of the first notice.”
“It was just the same as that one really.”
Owl looked at him, and wondered whether to push him off the tree; but, feeling that he could always do it afterwards, he tried once more to find out what they were talking about.

I rest my case.  And here endeth the rant.  ‘Normal’ programming will now be resumed.

26 April 2017



An explosion of rabbits!

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room.  “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.  “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Love this book.  It’s only forty-four pages long, but the message is beautiful, and I always cry when I read about the little rabbit becoming fully real at the end.

And, hopefully, without getting tangled up in abstract language and waffle about feelings (which I have, but have a hard time identifying or expressing “appropriately”), and being emotionally available, and authentic (come again?), here’s what being real means to me, as an autistic.

Stop denying my autism (and adhd) in an attempt to fit into the neurotypical world, which is presented as the primary blueprint for how to live a happy and successful life. 

In practical terms, this means not searching for answers on the internet, or in books and other literature written by non-autistics, for how to manage my life as an autistic. This encompasses everything, from sites dedicated to autism (telling me what’s wrong with me, how to deal with it, and manage my life as an autistic more effectively), to all those non-autistically-related sites that want to tell me how to do everything more effectively and productively, from writing and art, to how to organise everything in my life, from my shelves to my time.  

Simple but not easy, given that I have an in-built, arbitrary drive to copy; a rigid viewpoint about there being a right and wrong answer; and a fear of making mistakes.  Hence constantly checking to see whether I’m doing things right, or whether anyone else has a better answer that I just haven’t thought of because of my limited imagination.  Plus, I just seem to have a peculiar obsession with all things neurotypical, even when I don’t agree with anything they say!

Of course, this is not very useful in helping me to become more consciously aware of, and comfortable with, who I am, if I’m trying to look at myself through the eyes of someone who has no comprehension or experience of what it’s like to be autistic.

Ultimately, though, I think the message of this book is that becoming real is a gradual process which happens over time.  So, even though I do still get lost at times comparing myself to non-autistics, and temporarily forget myself (but who has someone to remind me of the truth of who I am), I have turned into a real person - one who, right now, happens to be really obsessed with the internet! 

04 April 2017

Blunting The Edge

My Lady Wren

Hi.  It’s been a little while since I’ve been able to sit and focus on something longer than a Literary Inspiration post (hence three in a row!).  Not that I’ve lacked ideas - just the ability to develop them beyond the initial draft.  Ironically, it wasn’t even as if I could claim that it was the internet that was distracting me, because it wasn’t.  

I’ve just had two weeks free from my compulsive internet trawling, using it only for essentials, like Sype.  But then I seem to remember the same thing occurring the last time I stayed abstinent - I gradually felt better, my brain calmed down, my mind got clearer, and my attention and focus improved, but I got very little or no writing done.  I did, however, do other things.

And it’s been the same this time.  I have actually managed to paint a picture (the first since July last year).  Whilst that in itself was great, the best thing about it was the fact that I enjoyed it, and there wasn’t the same amount of angst which usually accompanies it.

Whilst I have struggled to write any posts, I actually managed to write a bit of fiction, which I have done in the past, but have struggled with since.

And then there’s the fact that I have rediscovered the joy in my yoga practice, rather than it just being a necessity to my well-being, which is how I regard it (my alternative version to medication to help manage my anxiety and adhd, because I cannot take drugs due to being an alcoholic/addict).  Being obsessed with the computer means that my interest in everything else falls by the wayside - which includes my beloved yoga.

So, two weeks of freedom.  Again.  Two weeks appears to be my sticking point, at the moment.  It’s the longest I’m able to manage before I drift back to the internet.  I used to have the same thing occur when I was trying to become abstinent from overeating, which I used to find frustrating and disheartening.  

But I didn’t give up, and I got beyond that point when I was ready (which is usually not when you think you are), so I know that it’s just a part of the process, and not to listen to the Voice of Doom that tells me I’ll never be able to get completely free of this compulsion; or that I should accept it as part of the erratic nature of my adhd, and give up trying to manage it.  Accept that I need something to take the edge off of my anxiety, adhd, and all the other stuff about being me that makes everything I feel so acute, and that this is the lesser of the evils I have used (alcohol, medication, food, television). 

Except that it only works to take the edge of whilst I’m on there.  And then I’m left not only with the compulsion to keep going back, but also an increase in the symptoms that I was seeking to relieve.  My anxiety ramps up, I become more agitated, my focus and attention is shot to bits, and my brain feels like it’s melting.  Plus, I forget who I am, because I’m absorbing other peoples’ opinions again.

And here’s the other thing: I actually do have practical ways of taking the edge off, but without the negative consequences - with faith in a higher power, prayer/meditation, yoga, the change in my diet, and the barest bones of a daily routine to keep things ticking over and manageable - but no plans!!  They’re not instant, and they don’t render me unconscious (ie functioning, but not quite all here - like the walking dead, rather than someone in a coma), but they work to bring everything down to a manageable level.  

So, what happened to bring that ‘golden period’ to an end (other than me forgetting, yet again, the inevitable consequences of me web-trawling?)  Because there’s always a reason, as I learnt with alcohol, food, and any other addictive/compulsive behaviour - it doesn’t just happen that I find myself back trawling the internet, or with a drink in my hand, or bingeing on food. There’s a build-up which, if it isn’t being dealt with, turns into a mental and emotional tsunami.  

It may be the quietest tsunami you ever saw, because I am so poor at self-awareness, and so slow to process what’s happening to me, that it mostly doesn’t look like anything is wrong at all; but you’ll know it by the end result - me seeking ‘comfort’ and distraction on the internet from the feelings of restlessness, which I don’t recognise as being related to what’s happening in my life.  

Of course, this ‘comfort’ is only temporary, and not very comforting at all, given some of the stuff I sometimes inadvertently come across whilst trawling, and all that happens is that my life then becomes chaotic (more so than the manageable chaos which seems to be an intrinsic part of who I am - a trait which I have yet to accept as a fact, whilst I still strive to be Mrs Meticulously Tidy and Organised).

Here, then, are the events.

In November last year, I had to fill in an assessment form for the new disability benefit which is replacing the old one.  The DWP scares me to death, and I’m hopeless at filling in forms.

In January my friend Dee (who lives in Scotland, and I haven’t seen in person for about two years) visited on two separate occasions (staying overnight each time).  The second visit was in order to accompany me to the medical assessment I’d been called to attend for the new disability benefit.

Leaving aside the assessment, you’d assume that her visit would be a nice thing - and it is.  Except that I’m autistic - EXTREMELY autistic, and I don’t deal well with being around people, even in my own home, even when they are my closest friends.  It’s not relaxing, for either of us, as I have no idea how to behave, and I end up hovering around her.

As to the medical assessment, I haven’t had to go to one of these for quite a few years.  This ramped up my anxiety about the possibility of them taking away that money.

In February they informed me that, not only had I been awarded the new benefit, but that it had been increased substantially.  Yet again, you’d think this would be welcome: and it is.  But that doesn’t change the fact that, whether it’s good or bad news, I’m still clueless as to how to deal with it. 

Also as a consequence of both Dee’s visit and the assessment, she told me that I’m a lot further along on the autism spectrum than we thought - closer to the Temple Grandin autistic end, rather than the Asperger’s.  Whilst I know that I am extremely affected, it still comes as a bit of an unwelcome surprise to be told just how much so. 

Around the same time, I extended my circle of contacts from one (my friend Dee), to two.  And then, in the last week, I added another.  This is a big deal for me.  

I have been perfectly content to only engage with one person for a long time now (in this regard, I am classically autistic, preferring my own company to that of other people because of the stress engaging with them induces.  Plus, too many people offering too many differing viewpoints and opinions confuses me).  

But, as she said, she is coming up to her seventieth birthday this year, and, assuming she dies before me (jolly, I know!), I have no-one else with whom to share, or for support.  And whilst I may prefer my own company, and to have as few people in my life as possible, I do actually enjoy my limited interactions with her; and even I know that I need to have some people with whom to converse at a deeper level than simply to exchange polite greetings, the way I do with neighbours. 

It is also my fiftieth birthday coming up which, whilst I’m not consciously aware of it causing me any conflict (mostly because I just ignore it, the way I do every birthday - it’s just a number to me), no doubt there’s something going on.  

For one thing, I have found myself thinking more frequently about how I’ve got less time to do stuff, and how I wish I’d got my act together a lot sooner (particularly with regard to writing and art, but also with accepting and managing my autism/adhd).  I also sometimes find myself envying those who’ve been diagnosed earlier, which is not helpful, ‘cos it just leads to me feeling regret about my life. 

And then, in the last few days, I found out that one of my Aunts has died.  She is the last of my dad’s six brothers and sisters, and she was the oldest.  It wasn’t a shock (she was into her eighties), but, due to the distant and confusing nature of our relationship (of my relationship with the whole of my family), I have no idea how I feel, or what to do.

This culminated in me having the ridiculous idea (given that I cannot paint to order) that, rather than buy a card, I would like to paint one to send to her family (these are people I haven’t seen, or spoken to, for over twenty years).  And so I came on here to look for photos of appropriate flowers.  And got overwhelmed. And then got distracted.  And got lost for three days.  And now here I am, trying to drag myself back out of it.  Well it inspired me to write, anyway, which is the ultimate irony.

So there you have it - the anatomy of an autistic meltdown.

I hope that the only things melting in your life are food-related.


Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
An experiment in watercolour and gouache

Quotes Quota

"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.

"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."

From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Copied from photograph of the same name by Roberto Dutesco

Quotes Quota

"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama

"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."

Malcolm X

On The Prowl

On The Prowl
Watercolour tiger

Quotes Quota

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step."

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

C S Lewis