You may wonder why my blog title is ‘AWEgust′. The reason for this is that I’m undertaking a challenge to raise money to train more mentors for the I CAN Network. I will be writing a blog post every day between now and the 31 August. So far some good people have donated $18.50 and I’ve had a promise of $93, which is good but I am hoping the raise a little more than that. Here is the link for donations if you feel the need:
One very important thing is that my mum is lovely. She is a fellow member of the Aspie club which does mean she is usually completely honest. She also generally has only one explanation for things. For example if you ave nightmares, the only reason thais would happen, as far as my mum is concerned, is that you must have been hot in bed. I told my mum today that my mental health was improving, She suggested her usual answer (hormones, apparently). A little exasperated I said ‘don’t you think if it was one thing I’d fix it?’ My lovely mum responded with ‘You would. And then you would tell everyone else how they could fix it too. You’re good like that.’ That’s probably one of the nicest compliments I have ever received, especially given that my parents both value social justice and community activities very highly so giving other people advice on how they can improve their lot rates very highly int heir minds. Very happy daughter here.
I had a big day today. I got up at 6 am as I usually do and got ready for work. I then worked for seven hours, went to the bank and gave them my coins ($60 – yay!), picked up my weekly medication and went home. Then I did one of the coolest things I have ever done. I interviewed someone for whom I am just a little bit (actually quite a big bit) of a fan – Professor Tony Attwood. We had a great conversation and Tony made me feel like a colleague. I guess I am a colleague. I will air the show in a couple of weeks but it was quite a wonderful thing. If you don’t know Tony, have a look at his work. He has some very popular books on Autism and Asperger’s including ‘The Complete Guide to Asperger Syndrome’ and a collaboration with Craig Evans and Anita Lesko and a bunch of mentors (including me), ‘Been there, done that, try this!’ It really was a career highlight. I then has some dinner and interviewed another person -Autism activist Emma Dalmayne . Emma was also amazing and I really enjoyed interviewing her. I am now going to catch up on Facebook, wash the dishes and go to bed….ready for another busy day tomorrow.
I awoke to find out I have been accepted to be published – following a small amendment to my story – on a rather significant website which I won’t name here because I’d rather wait until my piece is actually on there. It was a real surprise. I actually only submitted it to challenge myself to write to their specifications. Apparently my story was inspiring and moving, which is funny because I thought I was just writing down some events. I’m like that with my writing and art. I imbue it with unintended meaning. I was the same when I played the piano. I used to get high distinctions in my piano exams and win eisteddfods without having any idea how I made such poignant, beautiful sounds. People think I have a gift for art and writing and maybe I do but it’s actually just a way of communicating ideas and feelings I can consciously access. I imagine a lot of Autistic writers and artists are like that.
Movie night tonight. I love movie night. It is basically a bunch of my friends from my women’s group getting together at Whimsy Manor and watching films and chatting about our lives. And pizza. There is pizza. I love that I can host such a thing. I mean, Whimsy manor is quite small so we are all squished up but no-one seems to mind. It is easily the highlight of my week. Mr Kitty loves it too. It is so nice to have good friends who want to come and spend time with me and with each other. It is a space to talk about everything – to have a whinge about someone who is driving you crazy, to share good news and aspirations, to share tips for navigating the world, to draw pictures and watch films. And if you are me, it is a space to read people your poems or stories. I love it.
Today was a busy Saturday. I practiced a bunch of talks and went grocery shopping, did the washing and had my radio show. The radio show was very interesting this week. I interviewed a woman in the UK called Emma Dalmayne who is a writer, a mum of kids on the spectrum and an activist trying to protect Autistic kids from brutal ‘treatments’ such as chelation and bleach enemas. Despite begin illegal, some of these practices are still happening. It does make me wonder. I mean if neurotypical kids were being forcibly given bleach enemas one thinks it might be met with outrage by, well everyone but many people do not even know that these things are happening to Autistic kids. We are all precious and just because someone doesn’t speak or communicates differently does not make them less of a human being. I really hope that Emma and her activist colleagues manage to put a stop to this abuse. I am interviewing one of her colleagues, Fiona O’Leary, later in the year too so keep an eye (or an ear) out for that one. To borrow a slogan (and I hope the slogan’s authors don’t think I’m being disrespectful to their cause because I certainly don’t intend to be) ‘Autistic lives matter.’
One big beautiful sunny Sunday. A sleepy cat in front of the heater, a book on the chair, lunch with church friends and many presentations to practice. A day I realised that there are people who value and respect me in the Autism and mental health communities. My life is complete and amazing but also confusing and strange. As an Autie woman who spent my youth trying to be accepted by any group which would have me, being the ultimate social chameleon, I have a good dollop of identity confusion. I wonder who this Jeanette that people see is as I think they see someone who isn’t who I think I am. I like the recognition but I feel it might not be directed at who I think I am. So I worry about all of this for an hour or two, have a glass of wine and cuddle Mr Kitty. ‘Life’s too short to worry about this stuff’ I say then listen to my prerecorded interview with Professor Tony Attwood which I’m broadcasting on my radio show next week. Mr Kitty asks for dinner and falls asleep afterwards, snoring gently. He’s the best of good things. He couldn’t care if I wrote a bestseller or if I was unemployed. I am his mum and that is all he cares about.
What Jeanette looks like 1/2 an hour before giving a TEDx talk…. Not sure why or if this pic is relevant but I like it. It makes me look innocent I think