In Bulgaria, the idiom “Friendship is friendship, but cheese costs money,” is one I came across and puzzled over for a meaning. From what I have come to understand it means not to take advantage of a friend’s generosity. Even if a person prefers isolation as their natural state of being, the symbiotic nature of the world we live in is inescapable. Although I consider myself giving, helpful and kind (to the best I’m able) it is still in some way awkward to receive compliments, praise, even help.
Keri Bowers is a film director, parent, presenter, advocate, and inspiring artist herself who works along with Debbie Hosseini Muzikar in The Art of Autism. I met her in 2006 when she interviewed me for her film ARTS. I, along with another peer, had dinner with she and her son Taylor in Hartford and I went to see a screening of her docu-film Normal People Scare Me. I admit to becoming overwhelmed at this event and escaping to a storage closet only to discover my peer there (also on the spectrum) who had decided to do the same!
Eventually I became a part of Art of Autism, with my self portrait appearing on the cover of the first Art of Autism book- Shattering Myths.
I have since repainted this image at least four times, it’s become like a trademark or signature painting. I have the newest version up on the Vango site, which will be in an art show at The Good Purpose Gallery in Lee, Massachusetts in February 2017.
I mentioned friendship in the first paragraph here, because my friendship with Keri really isn’t taken for granted. The Art of Autism in particular, is important for reasons I think some people cannot truly grasp.
Because I CANNOT take communication for granted.
Because I’m quiet for prolonged stretches (and that’s okay, and that’s who I am, and that is my most natural state) but it’s when I want to be vocal and can’t that it’s frustrating.
Art helps. I reach a theta wave state when I paint for long stretches. My art used to gather dust in a closet until I realized this is a big part of my voice and sharing it through Art of Autism and other places, means I’m heard, in a way.
2017 is already bringing heartache to me and especially to people I care about. If summer 2016 was my “caterpillar summer” (I watched a huge tobacco moth pupate from worm to wings) then 2017 is about metamorphasizing slowly, like a cicada and trusting the process.
The holidays overwhelm even the folks who are unlike me and neurologically better equipped than me- to enjoy the deadlines, hubbub, changes, social increases, etc. I am no exception.
After leaving my day job recently, I chose to wait in the car and recoup while Al ran into the busy supermarket just before Christmas to buy some last minute foods.
I thought I might turn on Pandora Counting Crows radio on my phone and tune out the world a little when my phone rang. I answered it. After a few minutes of “Can you hear me now?” which was humorous, Keri and I had a talk. Keri is direct in ways I am not:
“You are a bad-ass goddess!”
“I believe in you!”
She means it when she says these things.
She wanted to ask me permission to print out some of my artwork in high quality images and take to Las Vegas to show around to commercial merchandisers. (Along with art she and Debbie are bringing of other peers of mine they selected.)
Because of Keri, one of my paintings is now in the collection of Grammy winner Dave Royer. I don’t know how to feel. Humbled. Proud? Surprised. Pleased. Thankful for opportunities. A friend once told me I possess two qualities that would serve me well and she was right: perseverance, and resilience.
I continue, on a regular basis to receive emails, words of encouragement, and phone calls (normally I am just not a phone person but I make exceptions) from Keri who is a great asset to the art and autism world. I’d be lying if I said I never wished to know and sometimes dream how my life might be different without autism and selective mutism but it is never an excuse to not try. Even though sometimes I feel like I’m walking upstream.
I’ve never been a ‘boxed mix’ person, in fact I continually remake myself from ‘scratch’ all the time. That’s so tiring.
Although strong emotions are hard for me, I feel and feel BIG. I appreciate Keri and my other supports in a way I can sum up like this:
It’s recently been shown that grapes in Italy grow more robust and even sweeter in orchards where music (in the case of the study-classical music) is played 24-7 to the grapes.
They grow bigger and healthier and taste better than the grapes with no music. This may be because they respond to the frequency, and grow toward the vibration. Maybe the music scares bugs and birds. I’m not a scientist that is studying this phenomenon, even though I wish I was, but on many levels I do understand it.
Keri is the music to so many artists’ grapes.
That being said, here is something I’m particpating in, and you may wish to do the same:
From the Art of Autism and in Keri’s words I quote from her FB page:
PEACE/PRAYER FLAGS…The Art of Autism rolls this out this initiative w/ more detail next week.