Filed under: autism, disability, Film Reviews, Gardening, NLP, Parenting, success, Travel, Writing | Tags: asperger's, asperger's syndrome, attitude, bowler hat, Brown Derby, confidence, Marianne Williamson, Nelson Mandela, nlp, Philomena, Richard Bandler, Spike, The Butler
I have bought myself a Billycock, a brown Derby. I should have said, “at last” because I have wanted one for a long time. I blame Spike; when I was little there was a cartoon bulldog called Spike who was everything I wasn’t, tough, confident, fearless and he wore a brown Derby. I was small weird and perpetually both scared and confused, somehow the brown Derby became a symbol of what I would have liked to have been, but never expected to be. The brown Derby is a hat with attitude, it suggests a hint of rebellion or, rather, independence. It is not a conformist hat like the black bowler of the banker or army officer, the brown Derby defies convention. This is not a hat for a collar and tie and umbrella, the brown Derby is better suited to a turtle neck sweater and ash stick.
I have too often lived a half life, I’ve been happy to some extent, but my life was plagued with insecurity. I have gone without many things I wanted because I could neither justify the expenditure in terms of my need or my worth. You could say I’ve lived smaller than I might and it’s not an empowering way to live. True, in many ways I have accomplished many of my goals, but they tend to be in hidden things, not to be spoken except quietly, and I have not valued them as I should. My extravagances have been small and unfrightening, like my interaction with the world. Nelson Mandela once quoted Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”
Unlike Mandela the only prison I been living in is the prison of my own mind. This week I have seen the films “Philomena” and “The Butler”, last week Nelson Mandela died, earlier this year we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the March On Washington and I have been thinking about the passage of time. Richard Bandler says that, “The only thing you get from waiting is older!” I am sixty, I am about to be unemployed, I think I’ve waited long enough to live the life I want. Now is my time, I shall write and paint, make my garden beautiful, bring healing, watch my grandchildren grow up, see the sunrise in places whose names I can’t pronounce, listen to a lot more blues, but above all I shall live. I do not know how many days, how many seconds, are left to me, but I shall squeeze each one dry. I shall live, and savour every moment, who am I not to? I could not justify the cost of my brown Derby, I didn’t need a brown Derby, but now, having bought it, I realise I have never needed anything more. This is my Happy Hat!
Filed under: autism, disability, Justice, Parenting, Politics | Tags: abortion, adoption, children, illegitimacy, Magdalene Laundries, Philomena, rape
I once knew a girl who cried herself to sleep every night. As a teenage, unmarried mother, her baby had been taken from her and given up for adoption. The world moved on, but she cried herself to sleep because she never forgot. Her story is not something about which I think often; however today I saw the film “Philomena”, based on Martin Sixsmith’s book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee”. In the film Philomena, played by Judy Dench, wants to know if the child that was taken from her ever thought of her because, “I thought of him everyday”. The film is but one story of the impact the Magdalene Laundries had on unmarried mother’s and their children. Now the sad story of the Magdalenes is well known, but what we often forget is that the laundries were just an extreme manifestation of an attitude prevalent in both Ireland and the United Kingdom well into the Nineteen Sixties. The girl I knew lost her child considerably later than Philomena, in England not Ireland, with a supportive family, but the pain never left her.
Even now illigitimacy carries some stigma, half a century ago it was seen as evil and the girls had little choice but to surrender their children. The girls were deprived of choice as though they were incapable of making their own decisions. Then abortion was not an option, now it is. However there are those who treat those who choose abortion as evil, but if the girls keep their children they are condemned as scroungers manipulating the benefits system. I know girls who have chosen to abort, contrary to popular opinion it was not an easy decision. Personally I believe that we are all responsible for each abortion because we create the societal attitudes that, to some extent, compel the decision. What I know from knowing girls who gave up children and others who aborted, is that these girls are not uncaring or even irresponsible, they are the victim of circumstances and, often an unguarded moment. However there are others who had no choice, the conception arose from unwanted, forced acts by men who are wholly to blame. Rape is not “assault by a friendly weapon” it is a violation of a woman’s identity and the scars last for life. However a girl conceives, the last thing she needs is condemnation, she needs support and understanding. The choices a girl makes faced with an unplanned pregnancy will colour the rest of her life. I say that no girl should have to cry herself to sleep every night, no, not now, no, never again!
Filed under: disability, Gardening, NLP, Politics, Scotland | Tags: Alastair Darling, BBC, garden, independence, MP's pay, no campaign. David Cameron Conservative Party, poverty power companies, SNP, taxes, Trades Unions, Westminster, Yes Scotland
It is the second week of December and winter is truly upon us. Sunrise fails to relieve the all embracing gloom, indeed the sun remains concealed, day after day, behind heavy, grey, weeping clouds. Opening the curtains in the morning succeeds only to allow the external misery to infect the atmosphere within; it is as if the greyness sucks the light and life from the room.
Outside the garden is unwelcoming, the grass too wet to walk on, the patio puddled, the soil alternating between waterlogged and frozen, I am grateful not to be a plant. There is damage to repair after the recent winds, there will be more, and the will is not there. Worse, each repair necessitates some damage if one approaches across the grass. Perhaps it is best to remain in the warmth and hope, however forlornly for the best.
My mood is not improved by the ridiculously early onset of the holiday season with its artificial imposition of bonhomie. The leeches who run our power companies must be rubbing their hands in glee as people futilely endeavor to dispel their misery by but burning electricity in vulgar displays of execrable taste. (My predictive text replaced “taste” with “tat”, perhaps I should have left it!) I suppose the jingling of the tills brings some good cheer, after all we need the extra taxes to pay for the Westminster MPs’ pay rise. Scottish taxes squandered on paying for a government we neither elected nor want; it is small wonder Alastair Darling and the No campaign don’t want us to vote Yes to independence, it would derail their heavy train. My beloved BBC isn’t helping with its slavish adherence to the Conservative Party propaganda line that the independence debate is between the Unionists and the SNP; the majority of we who support a Yes vote do not support the SNP, come independence the future of Scotland will be democratically determined by the people of Scotland. In the meantime while the expenses grubbing, overpaid, incompetent MPs in Westminster greedily look forward to their massive inflation busting pay rises, the poor of Scotland look forward to a Christmas of food parcels, our pensioners will have to visit Oxfam to buy the extra sweater David Cameron says they should wear instead of heading their homes, and our public service workers will work over the festive season struggling to make ends meet on their pay, cut in real terms, by those same MPs whose over indulgence their faces support. If our Trades Union leaders had any steel they would demand pay rises equivalent to the MPs’ and be prepared to bring the country to a halt until they were awarded. As for us, in Scotland, we can cast Westminster and its drain on our resources aside and determine for ourselves what our leaders are worth.
Damn but I feel good after that. It’s funny, try as I might, I seem unable to be depressed. I feel the symptoms start, then some unconscious strategy kicks in and I am lifted up. Perhaps it is the euphoria of our imminent freedom, perhaps it is just me, but once we get past Christmas I am looking forward to the new year. Oh YES!
Filed under: autism, disability, Parenting, success | Tags: cooking, DIY, family, food, grandchildren
Some days I can think of nothing better than being at home. Today I have been at home, a good day, a family day, a happy day.
It was an early start for me. My cold had had me sleep for so much of the previous day that I was awake at four in the morning, and in my bath shortly thereafter. I took some time to decide whether to return to bed or do something useful. In the end I decided to do something useful. My porch is finally clean and, at last, I have replaced the curtain that keeps the winter beyond my front door.
As Neelam was late to bed so, as she was still in bed, I crawled back in, while I waited for the plugs in my drill holes to harden. It was a couple of hours before I woke again, there are few indulgences as satisfying as an afternoon nap.
My afternoon was rounded off nicely when my daughter and her children turned up. There is no greater validation of the value of the licence fee than the joy of watching a four year old interacting with Cbeebies; I can’t think of another channel that so inspires her. I always know when she has been waiting, at our house, for her sister to finish school because the television has been tuned to Cbeebies.
We ran our daughter and grandchildren home and then we cooked dinner together. It is nice to share food, but better still when the sharing starts in the kitchen. It has been a good day, but now I am tired enough to sleep again, but not before I have taken another look at ny new door curtain.
Filed under: autism, disability, NLP, Parenting | Tags: asperger's, Big Bang Theory, modelling, neurolinguistic programming, nlp, Sheldon Cooper
I personally think that having a diagnosis of Asperger’s should enable one to adopt strategies that increase one’s ability to interact with ordinary humans. I find myself at a loss to understand why some Aspies, admittedly mostly self-diagnosed, so determinedly want to model themselves on Doctor Sheldon Cooper in the Big Bang Theory. While I can recognise the appeal of Sheldon Cooper, surely he represents an extreme of the behaviours from which we wish to escape. Some of us at various times have felt rejected by society and in turn have rejected society’s norms, but in practical terms an ability to interact with society is useful, to deliberately model oneself on someone virtually incapable of interaction with normal humans is illogical if not downright perverse.
It occurs to me that there are some people who feel a need to prove they have Asperger’s and so deliberately adopt Aspie traits as if to give themselves an identity. When one has these traits involuntarily they do not possess the same appeal, indeed for many of us life has been a struggle to escape their domination. My wife says that the Big Bang Theory reminds her of home, she doesn’t always mean that in a good way. It is a principle of Neurolinguistic Programming that we should seek flexibility of thought and behaviour and flexibility brings a degree of freedom. I was running my daily washing routine this morning when I realised I picked up my flannels in the wrong hands, rather than swap them over, I deliberately chose to continue. Sheldon Cooper tends to find himself paralysed when his routines are frustrated, why would anyone choose that?
I discovered people’s determination to be like Doctor Cooper from interactions on line, in particular I remember someone admiring Sheldon Cooper’s tee shirt folding gadget. I realised then they were governed by their need for identity, rather than logic, because they had failed to notice that the gadget does not fold equally, it leaves one side longer than the other. It is far better to fold by hand so that the shirt is folded evenly. Having written all that, Doctor Cooper does have admirable qualities, but one can model selectively, as we say in NLP, you don’t have to wear purple to model Milton Ericsson. Richard Bandler emphasises that the difference between NLP and conventional psychology is that psychology focuses on what is wrong NLP, on what is right. I shall not cease to enjoy Sheldon Cooper in the Big Bang Theory, but I won’t model myself on him.
Filed under: autism, disability, Travel | Tags: Her Master's Voice, Ken Campbell, Nina Conti, Vent Haven, ventriloquism, ventriloquists
A few days ago I watched “Her Master’s Voice”, I think it upset me, whatever, I have been processing it for a couple of days. I had to retreat into a dark ro, into silence. I found it tough to process, I had to watch again on BBC IPlayer and I still found it disturbing. I think it challenged me for two reasons, firstly because my association with ordinary human reality is tenuous at the best of times. Secondly, and more importantly, I find emotions difficult to process; emotions expressed by a group of ventriloquist’s puppets threw me into serious overload.
I often say, “It’s okay to listen to the voices in your head, but don’t talk back to them out loud, in public, or they will cancel your vote! ” Nina Conti was talking to the voices, but I found the different personalities of the puppets quite scary and one, Jack, was so nasty to Nina I was upset. I was even more upset when it occurred to me that she was providing Jack with his words and I could not quite work out the division of personalities.
I am not comfortable with emotions and when, in the program, Nina was persuaded by Monkey to stage his death I was upset. When the car drove over Monkey her tears were obviously very real, I was upset. I was angry later when it was revealed that it was Monkey’s understudy who died and not Monkey, I resented being put through that upset.
There was much in the program that made me sad. The point of Nina Conti’s trip to the USA was to leave one of Ken Campbell’s puppets at Vent Haven a museum and home for the puppets of dead ventriloquists. I found the concept of bereaved puppets very difficult to deal with, it is so upsetting to think of those characters suddenly deprived of their voices on the death of their ventriloquators. Silence can be hell when it’s not a choice.
It appears that for some ventriloquists their puppets serve them as my writing serves me, to put my thoughts outside myself where I can see them. I was interested that there were some puppets to whom Nina could not properly give a voice, It is as if the puppets do have personalities of their own and not every ventriloquist can resonate with every puppet. I had thought to erase the iPlayer download after having watched it again, but I realise I still am not complete with it, I still have processing to do. Besides I love Monkey.
Filed under: autism, disability, NLP, Parenting, success | Tags: Art Giser, asperger's, autism, Energetic NLP, healing, sensitivity, The Autism Prophecies, William Stillman
Dear Mr. Stillman,
when we were on holiday my wife bought a copy of “The Autism Prophecies” which I have now begun to read. Today, in my bath, I read chapter two (The Art of Healing) which really resonated with me. I have been performing healings since I was a teenager and even now, despite being a Reiki master, my wife still has to remind me not to use my own energy; unfortunately I frequently cannot help myself as the drain can catch me unawares. I am finding Art Giser’s Energetic NLP techniques helpful at undoing some of the damage. I was interested in your remarks and anecdotes about sensitivity, my wife frequently asks me to scan her and tell her what is wrong. The anecdotes about pregnancy also resonated with me; we were once at a funeral when I said to my wife, “****** is pregnant.” a couple of weeks later it was announced.
I must admit I had never thought of myself as an empath largely because I find it difficult to make sense of emotions. However as my wife remarked, “An empath feels the emotions of others, they don’t necessarily understand them” (or words to that effect). I cannot associate with your narrative “My Gift of Healing” because I cannot logically grasp how anyone can, “feel upset for someone else”; I firmly believe our feelings are our own and, even when we feel what another feels, we do not feel for them, they still feel for themselves.
Like your subjects I do tend to be over sensitive to external stimuli and frequently need to withdraw into silence. I, like you, do on reflection, consider my autism (Asperger’s syndrome) to be a gift. I certainly would not want to be cured of it; yes I would like sometimes to be able to turn down my sensitivity, but on others I would like to connect more with my body; if sometimes I wish I were not as I am, and it does happen, I as soon realise that I actually like me, I find my strange life a source of fascination. I actually consider it grossly insulting that anyone should presume to want to cure autism, it’s a declaration that there’s something wrong with us and who has the right to call us defective? That is the attitude that fuelled the ovens of Hitler’s Concentration Camps. I am enjoying “The Autism Prophecies” because it is so affirmative, not only do we belong in the world, but we are needed, thank you so much.
Filed under: autism, disability, Gardening, NLP, Scotland, Travel | Tags: Britain, Holidays, recovery, tourism, tourist attractions, travel
I awoke this morning in my own bed, at last. I like my bed, I like my own mattress; I do sleep on holiday, but never so comfortably, or deeply, as I do in this bed. I am still sitting in bed being head-butted by the cat, he seems to be happy that I’m home.
I awoke this morning having slept, uninterrupted, for ten hours; it might have been longer, had it not been for the demands of nature. Today I am recovering from my holiday. It seems strange that anyone should need a rest to recover from their holiday, but I think of my holiday as not so much a rest, as a break state. Holidays, I think, do their work by shifting us out of a rut. I think doing the same thing, day in, day out (however much I may prefer it) numbs the brain. Holidays are refreshing because they are controlled difference, and time limited.
One of the things that makes my holidays so enlivening is that they are usually learning experiences. Sometimes I actually do go on courses or, as this time, to a conference, but, for me, travel is learning. I am not one for sitting on beaches, at least not for more than a few minutes, I like to see things. Wherever I go I learn and explore, palaces in India, the fort above Dubrovnik, the Vatican Museum, I love to learn. This holiday I visited the Foundling Museum for the first time, and found it, not only informative, but very moving.
Many of the places I have visited have been abroad, however recently Neelam and I have been taking short breaks within Britain. I think my focus is probably going to be much more on visiting Britain because there is so much to see and so much to do. Almost every part of Britain has something to offer whatever one’s preference, walking, climbing, castles, museums, architecture, gardens, distilleries. There was a time when Britain was in some ways unattractive to tourism, but now, wherever one goes there are good restaurants, there are hotels to suit all budgets and now, largely because of the employment of foreigners with a belief in service, many of those hotels are a pleasure to use.
Today I am recovering from my holiday. I am taking time to rest and start planning for the next one. I suppose l really should get out of bed because, of course, having been on holiday we need to stock up on essentials like milk and bread. It is frosty outside, my bed is warm, fasting looks surprisingly attractive. I should get up, I really should.