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Monday, 30 March 2020

It's all blinking cancelled.




The lead up.  Before.

Well, everything is cancelled.  My house and garden has become my world, and all plans for life and work outside my garden gate, deleted.  It is the same for all of us, we have all been put under a polite but firm house arrest for the foreseeable future and our calendars wiped clean.  Stay there! Says not only our government, but the whole world.  Stay there, and save lives.  Possibly even your own. 

At the beginning, there was the fuss and excitement of hunkering down and barricading ourselves in.  I will only talk about my own hunkering, because I have not seen anyone else's.  Before the iron fist of Covid 19 Pandemic Containment quite rightly crashed onto the tables of our lives (oh yes), I had been ill and self isolating with suspected symptoms of the virus.  Seven days ran into fourteen because my son is staying here, and I thought that may be the end of my sanity.  Fourteen days locked in my home with my son, pull the other one!  Can't go near anyone, anyone at all.  To begin with, I felt so poorly that it was no matter if I isolated or not, and staying in bed away from all pressures from the world - as I knew it then - was such a relief.  On about day five I thought, I could get used to this, I am feeling so rotten.  But day six saw me feeling better and having a small insight into what isolation meant.  No, I couldn't see my little grandchildren.  I couldn't pop out to see friends.  Actually, I couldn't go to the shop and, more, I couldn't even take the parcel from the post man.  By day seven, I knew I had another seven days to go, and I began to  resent it.  How simple it all seems now, how naive! 

Frolicking on the Downs
Oh how I frolicked on the South Downs once I was out of quarantine.  Then suddenly, everyone was painted in woad, shaking their spears at each other and ram raiding Sainsbury's.  We had been told that we were probably going into lockdown, and it sounded bad.  People climbed over the bodies of unsuccessful shoppers, snatching the last tray of pizzas from their dying hands, in order to fill their cars, vans and lorries with things that would see them through the Apocalypse which, if the government was right, was going to start about now.   All life was threatened, the very air tainted, each person an enemy and so, the things that were to get us through this new end of the world, if we had been lucky enough to prevent anyone else getting anything so that we could carry off eighty times more than we needed, were mainly loo roll, beer, pasta, rice, oats, eggs, frozen foods, tea and biscuits.  

At this point I was still frolicking on the Downs.  I missed it all, only realising I could have very restricted suppers when I did go into a supermarket, and then all supermarkets, to try and buy something for my household to eat.  They were all stripped bare.

Not how supermarkets actually are.  
No matter.  Leaving aside the anger and madness that grip people when they are truly frightened, we all survived here, and any of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook stories, knows that nobody lost even an ounce of weight, no one starved, and the worst that happened for me was that I did not get any chocolate one afternoon when I really needed some.  There was food already in my house, and I have a delivery of fruit and vegetables every week.  As the news of the social isolating, the social distancing, was updated, I could not quite grasp how I would be affected - and for how long.  In these early days ( all of a week and a half ago)  all my exhibition plans, my Macmillan sponsored hike, my clients, all my stuff  felt suddenly unsafe.  How could they all be cancelled?  And yet, they all were.  One by one, everything that I do and have planned to do, was stopped, cancelled, postponed and removed.  Within a week, my whole year had been dissolved.  No work, no physical contacts, no big opening for the Addicts And Those Who Love Them exhibition.  No One Woman Show in Southampton.  No A Graceful Death exhibition for the Dead Good Day festival.  No supporting my clients. No tea with friends, no picking up my fat little baby grandchildren and kissing their fluffy heads.  No training for a sponsored twenty six mile hike for Macmillan.  No hike.  I have been made redundant, put out to pasture, told to stop, go indoors, and stay there till further notice. Blimey.

When the lock down came, there were six people living in my home.  It meant that we were eased into the feelings of isolation more gradually.  Eileen had to be repatriated from Ghana with only twenty four hours notice, leaving everything there, and so she came to here for a week of isolation before returning to London.  She works for the government, and so has to be in London where she is now, until she goes back to Africa.  My son Costya was here briefly too, and has gone back to his place in London and so my home is down to four.  Me, Dimitri, and my lodgers in the Annex, Mark and Kate.  It is this set up now that will continue until further notice.  


And now - During

I define myself by what I do with and for people.  I am always talking about it.  I find ways to connect with the people who come my way, and I like to feel connected, I like to have a narrative so that I know who I am.  Painting and writing are solitary but beautifully balanced by seeing my clients, going to meetings, seeing friends and kissing the grand babies.  Chatting with my daughter over tea, being able to go anywhere I wanted with not a thought about it.  

My exhibition has been postponed, and the wind taken out of my sails.  I don't feel like painting any more.  I don't feel like achieving.   I was going to perform a one woman show in Southampton and show the A Graceful Death exhibition, at the Dead Good Festival run by my friends Deb and Chris.  Can't do that now, can't even see Deb and Chris on their fancy boat.  My client went into hospital and I couldn't help.  My father is lying in his bed in his nursing home, and I cannot go there to see him.  What must he think, in his sleepy, lovely old Alzheimer mind?  Where are we all?  

This is not a competition.  We all feel this way.  We are only at the beginning and we must find
Dims soon
resources to get through.  I am finding the reality of this lock down hard to comprehend and even that, the fact that I do not understand all the implications in one go, even that is not normal for me, and makes me feel I am not in control.  And I am not in control, not really, of this bigger picture.  Everything that has given me purpose is now removed.  All the things that I can say I do, and that I am, have evaporated.  Small things that are fairly insignificant, take on more meaning.  I will not get my hair cut.  My son won't get his hair cut.  Oh no!  We will look like cave people!  Unless I cut our hair and that could be worse.  And, I am sixty this year.  That birthday will drift by in the Summer, and I will dance here alone with Dims, who won't want to do that at all,
Me soon
and life will drift on.  Of course we may have less lock down then, but that disturbs this sad lonely narrative.  There feels nothing to work for, right now.  I am very weary, and some of that is still recovery from the virus, some of it is the getting used to no pressure, and some of it is the growing acceptance that there is no longer a need for me to rush about, no one to see, no plans to make, no idea of the future and no point in even thinking about it.  I am not ill, not depressed, not defeated, just slowly adjusting to a new way of living, and finding it hard, sad and exhausting to let all my plans and hopes for this year go - which was to have been brilliant, by the way.  Just saying.  


But - some insights -

I am still here.  That is a good start.  And I did get some chocolate.
  1. I have time.  I have time!  I do not have to be in a hurry, and it does not matter.  If I am not in a hurry, I do not die, and nothing collapses into a heap.  Once I let go of the feeling that all my time is accountable, I can enjoy sitting and watching the birds.  I can enjoy saying to myself, do I really need to wash the lemon tree today?  If I don't do it today, can I do it another day? And if I don't do it, does it matter? This is an experience of time that I have forgotten about.  I am becoming less willing to make my time into work.  I am enjoying sitting in the garden in the morning and feeling the cold air on my face while I have my tea. 
  2. My clients, my friends and all the people who were to see the exhibitions, do not need me.  Oh no!  But they do not need me.  They are all managing fine without me, and I am realising that though I understand that I am not indispensable, a teeny part of me hoped that perhaps I am.  Just a bit.  It would make me feel so good.  However, not being indispensable means I am freer than I thought, and if everyone is fine without me, I have less responsibility, less to think about and more time.
  3. There is something deeper in all of this.  I am not in control.  I could never have seen this coming.  Everything is changed and my certainties gone.  I do not know where this is going, or how it will end.  I may die.  I may not.  But I have had to relinquish everything, and come back to myself, with whom I will be spending a lot of time.  If I do not have the comfort of taking my identity from what I do, who I say I am, how I project myself, then who am I?  What or who is left?  And yet I am still here, not hungry, not forgotten, still able to write and paint should I want to, still a grandmother, still healthy and still comfortable.  None of my friends have used the lock down to tell me they never liked me anyway.  With this free time, this looking beyond the identity the outside world gives me, this feeling vulnerable and free floating, without the proof that I am, perhaps, an artist only because I put on an exhibition and everyone agrees that I am, perhaps there is a space for something a little more profound.  There is time not to think, but to feel, to respond to small things - plants growing, the sun through the window, the comfort of a chair with a cushion that had become so familiar it was invisible - there is time to be thankful.  Perhaps it is fine that we do not understand what is happening, that we are not in control, that we feel we have lost so much.  Perhaps, that is just the way things are right now, and if we can't do anything about it, if we have done all we can and cannot do any more, perhaps it is time to let go, focus on the right now, and ask ourselves what lovely thing can we do for ourselves in the next five minutes, and just do that.  
  4. Reading and YouTube this is a quick one.  I seem to have forgotten how to read.  I watch YouTube instead.  I am trying to sit down and focus on a book.  It feels like a waste of time - what does that say about my concept of time? I could spend more time than is possible watching FBI Files on YouTube and think nothing of it.  Time to get a grip.
Sometimes, once or twice, I have had the stirrings of a feeling that I do not know if I am allowed in this pandemic and lock down.  It is joy, and if I let it stay, it makes me smile and feel love.  In the beginning, I thought I should not have it.  But quickly, I thought, joy had never hurt anyone.  Joy is a gift and comes like light, when we need it. Of course it must stay.  Joy is a gift of the spirit and is quite simple.  Not having joy is bleak, and that does no good to anyone.  I hope you find yours and you welcome it too, though it may be only fleeting. Even fleeting is good. 

**************************************************

Once I was very, very upset, and walked into a chapel somewhere in the countryside.  I stood by the altar rail, crying, when I felt a hand on my arm.  A very old man was standing next to me, watching me with gentle eyes.  "You know," he said, "all things are taken care of." He gave me a small booklet and walked away.  The booklet was Thirteen Visionary Poems. Here is one of the poems. He was an angel.

Breathe the air of silence,
fill my lungs with quiet,
open up to the pain:
the ache and soreness
of silence

In such quiet, 
the spirit speaks:
my heart is quiet, 
the clutter of constant distraction
is gone.

Sitting in silence,
there is no escape:
I sit before
I know not what,
and wonder. 






Monday, 16 March 2020

Advised, kicking and screaming, to stay at home and self isolate for a week.


Bognor High Street
I have been advised to stay at home and self isolate. 

The Realisation

WTF was my first reaction.  It felt like a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  I was not actually dying so it felt drastic.  I was however, feeling quite poorly and part of me thought Oh good, I can go to bed and that will be very nice.  It had taken a few days to decide to ask for advice, because I had not got the symptoms that I thought I should have.  These are -

  • A fever
  • A cough
  • Difficulty breathing. 

I had the following

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue

And so, I thought, nothing to do with me, mate.  Feeling ill in the past had never been a reason to stop doing anything.  There was always so much to do, and I could find pockets of time to rest.  I was hardly ever actually ill, just a bit unwell from time to time.   And as ever, I had a busy week ahead so crack on, I thought, crack on.

I have a client who is medically vulnerable.  This morning, Monday, I was to take this dear client to hospital for major surgery and to provide support and kindness.  I am very fond of this person and felt I was the only one who could provide this service, and yet, and yet, this person is frightened of the Corona virus and knows they are likely to die from it.  They have only one functioning lung, amongst other things.  

It isn't all about me after all
If I turn up early on Monday morning full of good intent, and pass on something that could be fatal as part of the package, how does that work?  In fact, not just this Corona virus but any virus will harm my client.  But as there is so much official information out there, and as this is a new evolving virus, there is no excuse for winging it and hoping it will all go away.  If I am infected, I hold a great deal of responsibility for other people.  It was because of this that I began to research more possible symptoms of the virus.  My symptoms now included a tight chest, a slight dry cough and aches and pains in my limbs. Here is what I read from the World Health Organisation website -

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.


I read on the NHS website that if we suspect the virus, we must stay at home for seven days and self isolate. (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/)  Calling 111 is only if we are struggling, and 999 if we are really struggling.  I also read that most of  us,  80% of us, will recover without treatment and one in six will need real hospital help.  Many of us will not even know we have it.  And I read that non pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) applies to the treatment of Corona virus.  

The Dilemma of the individual

It boils down to this.  
  • I feel fine.  I have always carried on regardless, I am not ill enough to stop
  • Self isolation is inconvenient.  It is really going to mess up my week.
  • Who will believe me if I stay at home for a week?  Everyone will think I am a hypochondriac.
  • How real is this? Am I imagining it?
  • This virus will not harm me, I am healthy
  • My neighbour is elderly and it will harm her
  • My client is vulnerable and already frightened about surviving this virus.  It will harm them. 
  • I cannot tell who is vulnerable or not in the streets of Bognor.  If I am carrying the Corona virus, I cannot tell who will be in danger.  I cannot take the risk.
So it is not about me at all.  

It is not about my inconvenience, nor my health, nor my reputation suffering by cancelling things and not about me looking like a moaning minnie. 

It took me a few days to begin to cancel my plans for the next week.  I could not let go of how much was at stake for me, if I cancelled my Loss Conversations, my meetings and most of all, taking my client to hospital as I had promised. Much of the problem was embarrassment at looking like I was pretending to be ill.  I don't look ill, I was out and about a few days before my announcement, I could still walk then and no one could say that goodness, Antonia really needs to go and lie down and let go of that saintly suffering.  No one could go home and say, Antonia is hanging on by a thread, she needs a week of isolation.  

And so, after looking at the official websites and advice, and after speaking to medical friends and family, I made the announcement that I was self isolating, that I thought I had the Corona virus and that sorry, all next week is cancelled.  Phoning and messaging people I had been in contact with was not pleasant, but had to be done.  I had even hugged someone the day before my announcement, which in hindsight was a very silly thing to do.  We have been asked not to.  Am I above the official advice?  No.  I was not taking it seriously.  Now I needed to call this person and tell her.  The fact that most of us will get through this virus is not the point here, the real point is that I was not acting responsibly for the whole community.  She was really nice about it, though understandably worried. 

And now -

I am thinking about all that has happened.  I have had many messages asking if I had had a test, how did I know it was the virus, and what are the symptoms.  The underlying theme seems to be, what shall we do if we get it, and how will we know?  
Get a grip and self isolate.

The bigger picture seems to be one of fear of apocalypse.  The lack of control we have over this threat has made us take it very personally indeed and watch each other for signs that the other is being wilfully dangerous.  It has made many of us sink into tribal lizard brain survival mode where we see to our own needs over the bodies of everyone else.  You know what I mean.  It has made some of us suspicious and frightened, resentful and self righteous.  Some see conspiracy theories and make a point of ignoring all the advice and guidelines.  Some see everyone else as a potential threat and are angry and aggressive.  Most though, take the Corona virus seriously and follow official advice, but many are unsure of the details of it.  

Here is what I am thinking now as I sit in a blanket at home in isolation, on the laptop.  I do not feel well, but I do not feel my end is nigh. 

The virus needs to be taken seriously.  Take it seriously.  But do not panic.  The facts are that most of us will get through this with very little consequence.  We may feel ill, we may not. Some do not have any symptoms,  some just carry it.  People like me, who have not been tested, and who show all the relevant symptoms, will just have a bit of something or other and get over it.  And while we are not self isolating, we will continue to wash our hands and remember to sneeze in our elbows. 

The difficult bit is the isolation.  I am not used to sitting at home and giving in to an illness that does not incapacitate me.  I can easily get out there and go shopping, have a meeting, be a part of the community.  But this virus is different.  It is not about me, it is about all those people who cannot fight it like most of us can.  I am not isolated for my own good, but for the good of my client, who was taken to hospital by my colleague and friend.  Not me.  And for the benefit of my elderly neighbours, and for all the other people who have to care for others and cannot take time off like I can.  My isolation gives me time to think, to rest, to ponder and to answer questions about what is happening to me in this global pandemic. 

There are millions of me, sitting at home not too well and self isolating.  Millions of me will recover and life will continue.  There are some, not me, possibly not you, who will suffer badly from pneumonia and breathing problems.  The hospitals are preparing as best they can for that.  Some of us will die from this, like my client who will likely die if they get it.  Like my father, who will die if he gets it.  Like my other clients who are in lock down for their lives. 

Finally 

Here is what I did -  
  1. Eventually I paid attention to my symptoms.
  2. I weighed up what I wanted with what would be good for my clients.
  3. I read and researched the official websites and the links they provided.  My symptoms were likely to be Corona, and I was not nearly unwell enough to call 111 or 999.  
  4. I followed the NHS question and answer links and was told to self isolate.  I spoke to family and friends who are medics.  Their advice was always the same.  Get a grip and self isolate. 
  5. After feeling very put upon and extremely annoyed, I understood the bigger picture and realised that it was not about me at all
  6. I self isolated, cancelled everything, arranged for my clients to have other people to help.
  7. Now I feel poorly, virtuous and a bit silly.
  8. But my eyes are opened to how much responsibility we have for each other.  Just by self isolating, I am doing something for my local and global community.  
When I come out of this, I hope I am immune (I don't know yet).  Then I can get back out there, not spreading, not ill, full of the joys of Spring. Then I will be useful for the people who have to be careful, and I can go where other angels fear to tread.  (Sort of.)

 
Not how it actually is. 

Monday, 2 March 2020

Addiction isn't a fucking disease, it's an illness. (Ian.)

Ian - from the Addicts And Those Who Love Them exhibition
Ian

Ian told me this, when I was asking what words to use on his portrait for the Addicts And Those Who Love Them exhibition.  He should know.  He was drinking and taking anything by the age of fifteen.  He said, I did my geographicals then.  He left Scotland to escape the madness but was sent back as fifteen was too young.  He waited until he was sixteen, and then left Scotland again.  He called it his geographicals; he did not settle anywhere, and went from place to place.  I packed all my troubles with me in my suitcase, he said, and took them everywhere I went.  Borstal couldn't hold him, no one could touch him, and for a while, boxing helped with his anger.  Nothing worked, no examples while growing up, and no connections with anyone.

Now, over thirty years later Ian mentors other drinkers and users who want to stay sober and clean, from his peer led relapse prevention CIC called Arun Exact, in Littlehampton.  He gives back day after day after day.  He has a degree, and has come out of the addictions he lived with for those thirty years.  Learning to give is the most important part of recovery, said Ian.  There are three stages -
  1. Victim - blaming the past, blaming others 
  2. Survival - in the lifeboat.  Looking to see who is in the other lifeboats 
  3. Warrior - I got back, I got out, how to help others, and look at who is in your survival boat with you.  
My story

I am not addicted to substances, to alcohol, to anything.  There is a reason for this exhibition that I am creating.  It is all in the title, Addicts And Those Who Love Them.  The idea is that behind most addicts is at least one person who is traumatised by loving them. My son has suffered addictions and over the years we have reached such depths of despair and darkness that I do not know how we survived.  And then we have overcome so much, and been in places of relative peace and hope, with gratitude and connection.  We go up and down, up and down, up and down following the path between these two extremes, sometimes thinking that this is it, we are safe.  Other times I feel foolish for believing that this thing can ever be overcome. I think, I should know better, after every high there is a low, and nothing is permanent.  I cannot be complacent.

But what of the addict?  I have seen the smallest, tiniest bit of addiction and I have seen how mad it all is.  What of these addicts, these awful people that steal, lie, cheat and sell their souls and yours for a hit?  These dirty, violent, dis-inhibited, leeches on our society? We need protection from them, we need them taken away, we need them to understand how disgraceful and anti social they are, and most of all, we are not going to help them because it is all their own fault.  

I followed my son as he staggered in the streets between hits.  I saw how people looked at him, and how they avoided him.  I watched him try to get help from doctors and clinics and chemists, from hospitals and from other addicts and I saw how just the sight of him made people shut down, make excuses, send him away and tell him that unless he behaved they would not deal with him.  They tried to make deals with him - if you are free of your substance, we will make you an appointment.  They tried to punish him - if you don't make your appointment, we will keep your medication from you.  I understand how addicts must look to them, the people who are not addicted, but I began to question whether the absurd protocols followed by those around addiction had been created by people who had no idea of and no interest in how it actually felt.  It did not matter if it worked or not, they just wanted the addicts to go away. They did not give a damn. 

following my son on the streets from the
Addicts And Those Who Love Them exhibition

 I watched, helpless, observing, because I did not know what to do or what were the rules.  It felt as if all of it was wrong. The addicts, the people who were there to help them, the rules, the expectations, the madness and the horrible pain of addiction itself.  The thing is, I knew this person who was demanding help, medication, attention.  I knew who this person was, and I had held him as a baby, looked after him as a little boy, and had even named him.  This was not a stranger, some addict that needed a lesson in what was acceptable behaviour, and what was not.  I knew this was not the way to treat him, that they were all missing the point, that he was out of control and normal interactions could not, would not work.  He was chemically dependant, and that was that.  It angered me to see the disgust on the faces of those around my son when he was at his worst though I understood why.  They did not see a person, he was not worth any respect and was someone to avoid.  I understood that, I saw how he appeared to them but I also knew that he was suffering, and suffering so badly that he would do anything to stop it.  How could anyone know how much he was suffering?  It was that appalling, brain curdling, soul destroying mind body spirit agony of needing a fix of the thing that was killing him and in that state, you cannot reason with him, give him choices, options, appointments, you cannot punish him. You have to understand that this is way beyond our control.  We can walk away in disgust, but the struggle to stay alive with an addiction, is worse than anything we can know.

In the painting Mother, the Mother says of her son "He's handsome, funny, clever, a bit off."  Later,
Mother from the Addicts And Those Who Love Them exhibition
she says, "I wish it would be over.  It's torture for everyone.  Best to say goodbye for ever." That is born of  real despair.  Another mother said of her son that she needed to save him, to follow him everywhere, he was helpless and vulnerable.  He had been addicted for years and it had taken a catastrophic toll on him.  He was in prison again and she was a wreck, nothing could touch her panic and fear for him - and nothing she did or said made any difference to him or anyone else over all the years of his drug use.  She will die along with him, one day, of a broken mind, body and soul and he will die of the same, with added drugs.  This happens.  We who love addicts can lose our minds if we are not careful.

What is to be done

I do not know.  

I am creating this exhibition to express something of this difficulty.  I am painting portraits of both addicts and those who love addicts and writing something of their situation onto the paintings.  Each is painted as a divine being, with a halo, or angel wings, or light around them.  I am looking for the holy in each of them.  I am conflicted, I love an addict, and I cannot cope with him either.  I long for healing, recovery but I am irrelevant in my addict's life.  Of course I am.  We are all irrelevant in an addict's life, that is the way it is.  But this exhibition is about not giving up, about asking us to look, and asking us to see beyond the madness. 

Our political and societal lack of will to deal with addiction will not make it go away.  People do recover.  But people do not recover too, they die and die badly.  Many addicts have mental health issues and self medicate.  How is this to be dealt with?  I do not know.  But it will not go away just because we are disgusted by them.  

Help is out there.  For those with money, there is expensive private rehab.  The road to recovery is long and hard with many relapses and false starts.  Only those with plenty of money can afford to keep going back into private rehab which can be around £20,000 for a single three month programme. There are charities and organisations that help. Alcoholics Anonymous with the twelve step programme is the best known.  Created in the late 1930s to help with alcohol dependency, it works with all types of addiction.  The first of the twelve steps tells us that we are powerless over our addictions and over our addicts.  Those involved with addicts worry that they have caused this addiction somehow, and to hear that they are powerless over it, is a relief.  We did not cause the addiction, but if we are not careful we become stuck in a toxic, abusive co dependent relationship - an excessive emotional, physical and psychological reliance on a dysfunctional relationship.  But we are also encouraged to detach with love, which is the opposite to co dependency.  We stop entering into the crazy with our addict. To detach with love is to remember that we are not the addiction, we are not responsible, we do not have to collude with the addict and we can still love.  

Finally 

This is what I do now.  If I am asked in the street for money, I give it.  I do not care what it is used for, I have seen how bad not taking a drink or a drug is when withdrawing.  Keeping someone alive for just a bit longer is OK by me, even if it is the pattern of many years.  There is always hope.  And if there is no hope, then whatever happens to me, will not be as bad as that person's life right now.  So I give.

I ask the person's name and look at them.  No one looked at my son, so I look at everyone who asks for money.  On a London underground train, a dishevelled and dirty young man got on, and as they do when the train started, announced to the carriage that he needed money for a hostel.  He was young, his filthy long hair was blond, and he was shaking.  I called him over and asked his name.  Steven, he said.  I gave him money, and blessed him, and he left.  He did not need a hostel, he needed drugs.  Steven was the first person I gave money to in this way, and it did not matter whether he saw me with his sad crazy eyes or not, it did not matter if he noticed the blessing or not, it did not matter if he was grateful or not, it mattered that someone saw him, and treated him as a person.  It is because of Steven that I always respond to requests for money.  Steven could have been my son in those bad days when people looked the other way. 

Addicts and Those Who Love Them

Lou - from the Addicts And Those Who Love Them exhibition
The exhibition opens in Brighton on Saturday 2 May at the Macmillan Horizon Centre in Brighton as part of the Brighton Fringe. Open from 11 am to 4pm.  

It is showing on the Sunday 3 May and the following weekend Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 May, 11am to 4pm.  Entrance free. You are all most welcome.

The work will continue and I will show with new paintings and words as much as I can over the year.  This is ongoing. 

In order to produce this exhibition, I am asking for donations.  All my work is free, and I do not charge for any part of the exhibition.  Please consider helping with the costs, every bit helps.  Donate as much as you can, every fiver, every donation, goes towards making this exhibition, creating the work, meeting and working with addicts and those who love them.  Many thanks indeed, I am grateful.  Please go to my Go Fund Me page here -
https://www.gofundme.com/f/addicts-and-those-who-love-them



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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

We for whom the sofa is our spiritual home.

The sofa.

Very spiritual.
My spiritual home is on the sofa.  My heart and soul thrive here, and what is more, I have two, a pink one, and a red one.  On a bad day I hear their siren call as I go about my business.  Come to me, they say, come to me and sit down and I will make it all go away. Bring tea, bring peanut butter, and I will look after you, bring it all to me and forget about the outside world.  You belong here where time stands still and YouTube never runs out of your favourite police documentaries - come and lie down with us.  On good days they say Nope, off you go, get your stuff done and come and see us later.  Bye.

There had been a time when I needed to lie on my sofas with peanut butter and let time go, when recovering from great loss in 2017, but by 2019 I had actually become the sofa.  Now, in 2020, my relationship with the sofa was co dependent, and we were no longer very good for each other.  It was, it is, a place of great spiritual comfort and wisdom, but it had become all give and no take.  It gave and I took.

Last week, from my red sofa, I saw an advert for a Mighty Hike for Macmillan.  I do stuff for Macmillan, I thought, popping another pick and mix into my mouth, let's have a look.

The Mighty Hike, it said, is a sponsored twenty six mile marathon hike across the South Downs in June.  I love the South Downs, I thought. The photos looked so much fun that I found myself following the links and before I knew it, I had signed up. Thank you, said the computer, here is your training plan and a link to Just Giving.  See you at the starting point.

I was going to have to start training. 

The Training.

South Downs. Wondering if I should continue.
I love Macmillan.  I am a volunteer buddy, and I go into peoples homes and support them emotionally when they are struggling with their cancer journey.  It was going to be a good thing to get off the sofa and into some trainers, and a very good thing to do it for Macmillan.  But I have not moved for years.  I have watched my friend Gill with envy, Gill likes to go outside whenever she can and walk.  She walks everywhere, she is fit and healthy and a very good role model but I have refused to walk with her up till now because I could not see why anyone would choose to do that when they could sit down.  My co dependent sofa and me again. 

Following my training plan, I did some teeny walks along the seafront.  I went out during one of the recent storms and thought that it constituted cross training because I was walking, pushing against the wind, and struggling over the shingle from the beach.  Brilliant, I thought.  Soon, I decided to drive to the South Downs and do my first proper long rugged walk.  With my walking trainers on, I wrapped myself in waterproofs and began the walk.

No one was on the Downs because it was so wet.  The big storm last week had flooded the meadows and the tracks, and created mud that was not only deep, it was slippery, cold and everywhere.  Oh, I walked into that mud because there was no other way forward and because I did not understand mud.  I tried to find tufts of grass to help me through, but the mud soon devoured those too.  Finally, I slipped off the last tussock and fell into the mud.  It is good I have fallen into this mud, I thought as I lay there sinking slowly, as there was a flooded lake of water either side and I could have fallen into that. I got up, somehow, hands deep in the mud up to the elbow, and made my way to a rough chalk track leading upwards to some woods in the distance.  It is good no one is watching, I thought.  I felt a little like the person who goes up the Cairngorms in plimsolls when snow is forecast, just to have a look at the pretty weather.
French Lieutenant's Woman

Once out of the mud, on the chalk track leading upwards, facing into the rain and wind, I understood that I could not get wetter, nor more muddy, and it was time to enjoy myself. 

Well, I did enjoy myself in many ways.  I was beyond caring what I looked like, I was alone in the elements on the South Downs, I was free to be any character in any film I chose and no one would judge me, and after a while I was soaked and warm, not soaked and cold as I had been while lying in the mud.  Seasoned walkers, if they could have seen me, would have been amused, but I did not care because I had spirit and I was cross training again, in a way. 

 I passed some woods, sighing and creaking in the wind, and came to a main road and leaning on the gate separating the walk from the busy road, I felt extremely proud of myself.  I had walked about two and a half miles.  Watching the cars speeding by, I briefly fantasised about calling a taxi, and sighing, turned to walk the two and a half miles back. 

Two and a half miles back, downhill.

Back to the sofa.

On returning to my car, I removed my skirt, took off my waterproofs, hat, scarf, gloves and shoes and drove home in my tights and jumper.  It felt like a badge of honour to drive home in my underwear.
Flesh wound.

My sofas welcomed me home with open arms.  You done good! They said, and for the first time in ages, I felt good about being there with my tea and peanut butter and YouTube binge.  It's OK!  They said, You deserve it.

Having a goal like this, a physical goal of walking twenty six miles in June, has given me reason to get up and move.  It is easy to sit on the sofa with a plan for the day, and simply get lost in the inertia so that I become a blob.  That is when the co dependent relationship with my dear innocent sofas becomes a burden.  I simply have no interest in breaking the pattern, and no reason to do it - Gill can walk all she likes but I am on my sofa goddammit. I can walk to the studio, I can walk to the kitchen, but anything more is an affront.  And the thing is, I do not really like it when I am a blob.  Not really.  But I get stuck in a mindset that says that there is no point in changing anything, and anyway, it is cold and wet outside. 

But now!  Thanks to Macmillan and the Mighty Hike, I am an athlete!  I can wade through shingle, mud and wind, I can do four miles in a gale in a skirt, and I am inspired.  Is it just that now I have a goal and something to achieve?  Is it that I needed something or someone else to give me a shove off the sofa?  Possibly, but it does not matter.  I am training to walk this marathon, I am relieved that I have a reason to do something a bit challenging so that I can come back to my dear sofas, my spiritual home, and sink into their now healthy embrace while I not only watch You Tube, but I write blogs.  I write newsletters.  I email interesting people with gusto because I just went for a walk and I rock. Dammit, I rock.  (And I am creating the Addicts And Those Who Love Them exhibition.  More on that next blog in two weeks time).

Epilogue

There is a sacred space in every home.  A place that holds the spiritual keys to our peace, our welfare and our souls.  Many do not know there is this place, they have either yet to create it, or they do not know that they can. You can!  Go, do it now! A small altar, a thinking corner, a reading space, it is your safe space and it is entirely yours.  If someone else claims it, fight them off.  Or go and find a better space and make sure everyone knows it is yours; do not share unless you really want to, or have to, and if you really have to share, make sure there is always a teeny secret bit that is totally yours.

When my sofas are my spiritual home and I am benefiting from them, all is well.  I have perspective.  When I become lazy, I do not benefit much, and it all becomes a bit heavy.  I turn into a blob and then I am sorry for myself.

But I am not sorry for myself today!  There is a bit of wind and rain outside, it is time to go outside. My sofas are as inspired as I am.  Off you go! They say, and when you come back, have double peanut butter, and tell us all about it.

******************

I am walking this Mighty Hike in memory of my first Buddy, Margaret.  She was a wonderful teacher, we became firm friends despite a thirty five year age gap, and I stayed with Margaret until she died.  She would approve of this walk, and would say in her Yorkshire accent, "Don't Fuss."

Would you like to sponsor me for this walk?  All sponsorship goes direct to Macmillan Cancer Charity, I don't see a penny of it but I DO get an enormous rush of saintly well being.  Follow the link here - 

Still spiritual.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/antonia-rolls?fbclid=IwAR1F6QBzYe3uSbDMZd_Kd4O3NSVtUwsPZ8XOuy4XpqortnS7aO7jlVcEzXk&utm_campaign=pfp-share&utm_conten


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Tuesday, 4 February 2020

I am going grey, goddammit, not into a nursing home



Such a youthful brown haired person. 
Part One

For years I pretended that my hair was dark brown.  How well you are looking, people would say to me, and how young.  Oh, I would say, surely not!  And inside I would feel smug.

This delighted me for a long time, and every six weeks I made appointments at the hairdressers to keep up the show.  Not a single grey hair, and a very clever mingling of high lights into the brown as I got older so that the original dark brown did not clash with my skin as I gently aged.  It did not occur to me that I could have grey hair, or white hair, and there was a wonderful disconnect between my age and hair colour, and that of my friends who were as old as me and their naturally grey and white hair.  That was them, and this was me.

Can I be like you, Miriam? x
There was a great deal invested in keeping my image going as an energetic, creative and youthful fifty eight year old.  When someone showed surprised that I dyed my hair, on the one hand I was surprised that they were surprised - they must surely realise that someone my age couldn't have no grey hairs at all, and on the other hand it affirmed my decision to be brown haired and full of youthful bloom.  I did not exactly articulate it like that, part of the deal was that I did not think too deeply about what I was doing, and it did not matter really, in the great scheme of things.  But I would not have liked the idea of keeping a youthful bloom, because that would have conflicted with me being happy with ageing, and not into the "being young and beautiful" thing.  After all, I do not wear make up at all (except for lipstick.  And later, eyebrow pencil when Eileen pointed out that my eyebrows had disappeared.)  So actually, already, I wasn't really the spring chicken I liked to think I was.

Then I turned fifty nine and I visited my friend Deb on her houseboat.  Deb greeted me in the hot August sunshine from the deck of her boat, happy and brown, with a head of glorious naturally sun bleached white hair.  I am older than Deb.  She looked utterly fabulous.  Damn, I thought, it is time.  I want to take off my brown hat and put on a white one.

And Deb didn't look old!  She just looked like Deb.  I was actually jealous.

Part Two

I began to look at my friends who had unashamedly grey and white hair.  I had not really noticed before, but each of them looked lovely and their hair colour was nothing to do with it.  These ladies, I thought, had it sussed all along.  They did not look young, but they did not look old either.  They looked like themselves, and I began to tot up the amount of money I would save by not going to have my hair wrapped in foils and thick brown gunk for a whole afternoon every six weeks.  Millions of pounds, I thought.  Millions.

(A small word here about my excellent hairdressers over the years.  They do a wonderful job, they have made me very happy and I salute their hairdressing skills.  They only did what I asked, and did it brilliantly.)

I am going grey!  I told my friendly psychic hairdresser, Craig.  I am going grey I told all my friends, and then, I waited.  I stared hard at the mirror, trying to imagine what I would look like as an old lady.

Back, mother. 
A long, slow five months later, there is only about two inches of white around my face and two inches of grey on the rest of my head.  The rest is still a jolly all-over brown.  If I put my fringe back, I am a different person.  Then, I am white haired.  If I take the hair clips out, remove the headband, I am brown again.  The grey growing out at my roots does not show too much, it is only the white hair around my forehead and temples that is so different. When  Psychic Craig finally cuts off the last of the brown, I will have to think about what look to go for now.  This is taking a huge amount of time, and I simply have to wait and let my hair grow out at its own pace which feels like an eighth of an inch every six years.

The problem is, when I pull back my fringe, I look like my mother.

This leads onto part three.


Part Three.

Don't make me into my mother.
I know.  You can hardly see it. 
And this is a very nice photo, you
can't see the lipstick on my teeth or
the nail varnish on my tights.

The psychological journey while growing out dyed hair and embracing the white and grey has been a surprise.  Nothing changes, I tell myself but actually, much does change.  In surrendering to my natural hair colour at the age of fifty nine I am bound to be confronted with my own ageing.  With this has come a re-evaluation of who I am.  There is a real sadness about parting with how I have looked for so many years, and letting go of the youthful bloom that a head of carefully maintained brown hair has given me.  In keeping the dye going, I was stalling the moment when I would have to recognise that I am older now. Waiting for the rest of my hair to grow out, I feel stuck between two identities.  I can still keep my brown hair near my face and look as I always have looked, until the wind blows it just a little bit and then the white come out.  Then I wonder if I look like someone who is trying to hide her real hair colour and not able to afford to cover it up.  Or the sort of person who smudges her lipstick onto her teeth and doesn't care and goes out with holes in her tights with bits of nail polish to stop the laddering.

Mum.
I am transitioning into a new version of myself.  When I look in the mirror with my hair taken back and all the white hair showing around my forehead and temples, with no lipstick or eyebrow pencil, I see my mother looking back at me.  Begone Mother! I say.  I want to be me! But there is a long slow re emerging of me, and I have no idea of what that will be.  And actually, my mother was a very chic, well dressed and beautiful old lady who had white wavy hair that looked like a Mr Whippy ice cream. She was known for it.
Grace Jones as me.

I will be sixty in August.  By then this slightly depressing growing out of my brown hair to my new white and grey hair will be done.  I am not my mother, but I do still look like her.  I do not have to buy navy jumpers and matching navy slacks with sensible shoes, I can continue to shop in Oxfam and go for the 1970 geography teacher look that I like so much.  I can continue to wear sparkly Indian type skirts and look like a gypsy.  Or can I? I have no idea of how I will actually look, so it is all a bit uncertain. I will just have to get through this and have fun at the other end.  I may choose to look like Grace Jones.
Part Four

I will go back to see Deb in August in the hot sun, on her boat, and let it all hang out.  I am sixty in August, and even if I go looking like Miriam Margolyes it won't matter.  Goddammit, I am going grey, not into a nursing home.  Move over mother, there's a revolution brewing.



The revolution.  Me, Mum and all my friends. 


Every two weeks my newsletter comes out, full of information about all the work -  painting, writing, support work and exhibitions - that I am doing.  It is informative and amusing, like me, and I would love for you to join us.  To subscribe, please go to 

https://mailchi.mp/antoniarolls.co.uk/signup-for-news-of-events-and-sessionsantonia.rolls1@btinternet.com .  

Many thanks, it will be great to connect with you. 

Monday, 20 January 2020

A Big Fat Daddy.

Me. 

I am busy again, it is wonderful.  All that blether about taking a Sabbatical and working out what I want to do, about focus and keeping myself from going into overdrive has been joyfully thrown out of the window at the first opportunity, and the window firmly closed behind it.  It is fine, I say, I am back in the driving seat, and all is well. 

Bring it on, I say, I can handle all this, I am the Daddy, I can do it.

I am really busy, it is true.  I am a little watchful too, because this enthusiasm for projects has been hard to handle before, in the end.  What seems to happen is that I do too much, can't cope and my head explodes.  Then I announce that I am becoming a recluse and I will never work again.  After a while, with good sleep and nice healthy meals, I am inspired by someone, something, and off we go again.  It looks like I work too much, or not at all.  This is not sustainable, so bear with me, I am going to unpick this in front of your very eyes.

  • What do you think you want?  To plod away at stuff, getting it all done, with timetables, order and proper mealtimes.  Each project has a little folder, a file, a chart and some coloured pins to track progress.  Each project has a name and all the information needed is updated daily in triplicate and I keep to the allotted hours per project per day so I always know where I am.  Everything runs like clockwork, and when I get a surprise phone call, or something isn't working to plan, I am so calm and ordered, refusing to flap or panic, that I bring order back into what could have been an unwelcome disruption to the routine.  I am, after all, the Daddy.  
  • What do you think you have?  A blunderbuss approach where everything is massively exciting and all my notes are on bits of paper, in my head or teeny notes on my phone.  Where I make plans to spend a day in the studio but have to do the dishwasher first, then check my Instagram, then do a bit of emergency gardening.  I have said yes to many different things
    Me.
    because I read something about them recently in a book and now I think I am an expert.  Each project seems like a great idea, and very do-able until I see that I have said yes to 5498503 of them.  Now there isn't much time and I rush about making a start on all of them, blame the people who asked me for asking me, and then eventually my head explodes.  I am joining an enclosed order of silent nuns I say, and for a while, I mean it.  Everyone else just laughs.  
  • Is any of the above really accurate?  No.
Let us now turn to what is actually true.  I have agreed to many projects, and I know I have tendencies to exaggerate.  So, if I am not a plodder or a blunderbuss, let us see what I actually am.
  • What, actually, are you?  I am a well meaning artist.  The sabbatical was very helpful and enlightening, so now I am also enlightened.  It was a time of rest and thought, much lying on the sofa, eating peanut butter and thinking great thoughts, so I am now fat.  I am older and wiser at the start of the new decade, which makes me sensible.  I have very good health thanks to my grandfather who, along with his eight siblings, all lived until they were between ninety three and one hundred and four years old, so that makes me invincible.  Being invincible means I can safely do what I like which could make me incautious, but it doesn't.  I am sensible, so that is a relief.  Finally, I have been doing my kind of work for twenty years, so I am both experienced and accomplished.  
  • Wonderful.  List all the things you are then - An artist, enlightened, fat, sensible, invincible, experienced and accomplished. 
  • What, actually, are you up to?  I am working on the following
  1. The exhibition called Addicts And Those Who Love Them opening in May in Brighton
  2. Finishing my book As Mother Lay Dying 
  3. Taking Grief Cafes at our local Womens' Centre
  4. Taking Loss Conversations at the local Job Centre (pending)
  5. Supporting three clients with cancer for Macmillan
  6. Taking the A Graceful Death exhibition to the Dead Good Day Festival
  7. Performing a one woman show, the Soul Midwife Sofa, at the Dead Good Day Festival
  8. Taking a workshop with a lovely palliative care nurse friend called How To Sit With The Dying
  9. Finishing a double portrait 
  • Anything else? Yes! Of course! A re branding of all my stuff, a new website, joining Patreon and world domination.
  • So, are you working too much, or not at all? Here is the thing - I used to be like that.  I am not like that now.  The most important work is the Addicts exhibition, and that is taking up much of my time with a deadline of the 2 May so there is no messing about there.  I have also, being both sensible and accomplished, decided to simply do the best I can.  Very zen. The book is ongoing.  The Loss Conversations are to be confirmed and will be every second week.  The Grief Cafe is once a month.  My Macmillan clients are every week, and this week I am taking one of my clients, aged eighty four, to London for a day out.  We are taking the train up, riding the double decker buses and ending up at the National Gallery.  It will be like the Famous Five reduced to Two, and very elderly.  The A Graceful Death exhibition has been going for over ten years now, so setting it up is easier than it used to be.  The workshop on sitting with the dying is fun, and I have done plenty before, the double portrait is just a matter of application and concentration but the one woman show, well - that is going to need a bit of preparation.  That does make me nervous.  But not so that I become mad.  I am invincible, sensible, fat and accomplished.  I know I will sort it all out.
Conclusion.

It seems the sabbatical and the new decade have enabled me to be artistic, enlightened, fat, sensible, invincible, experienced and accomplished.  That is awfully helpful if it is my destiny to take on a thousand things at once, if I am doomed by my own personality and character not to be a one-thing-at-a-time kind of person.  So the conclusion is, that yes, I do tend to work too much then not at all - but now that I am so wise and fat and accomplished, I can see problems coming from far away in the distance, galloping along the horizon, and I can take evasive action.  I do not have to wait until my head explodes to rest, I do not have wait until a convent of silent nuns is the only way to stop.  So it does seem that I am still the Daddy.  It does seem that I am still in the driving seat, and I am a new and improved enlightened, fat, sensible, invincible, experienced and accomplished Daddy to be reckoned with. 

Oh bring it on, Sisters.  I'm on my way!

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Do what you can, not what you can't



Quick! Run!
Have you ever made a decision to do something amazing for yourself - a plan, a dream, a project, a thought - only to be overwhelmed with the enormity of what is ahead?  Like a rabbit dazzled in the headlights, you become paralysed with fear, and scuttle off to safety somewhere.  Phew, you say, not doing that again.

Doing what you can't 

It's not for me.

As the theoretical rabbit, you have run from the headlights to a place of safety.  This is possibly your go-to comfort space where nothing can get you, and you can breathe easily again.  Whatever this space is, let's not judge it, let's just say that it is there.  My safe space is always about comfort; sitting on the sofa with blankets, cushions and a pot of tea.  From there, I feel relief and protection, and I can pass the time telling myself I will do whatever I ran away from later.  But from my comfort place, I do not want the later to come, I am not sure if I am good enough/wise enough/strong enough. It is easier to stay here, in my place of comfort.

It's not for me, I may say, and you in your circumstance, may say the same.  It is not for us. Whatever this thing was that seemed so exciting when we thought of it, and so terrifying when we glimpsed the work ahead, whatever it was, we cannot possibly do it now.


I'm not one of them.

They are the people who succeed at things.  Separate from us, they have a secret thing that makes them do what they say they are going to do.  They are lucky, they are unafraid, they have networks and support systems, and they are really annoying.

This amazing thing we thought we would do, is for these other people.  We aren't like that, we don't have their drive, determination, talent, and in our lowest moments, we think they probably all have personality disorders anyway.

From our place of safety, this seems to be a sad truth, that we have to be another type of person in order to do our thing.  We aren't one of them, so it is best to not even start.  This is where I could have more cake and look things up on YouTube.

They'll laugh at me.

How very dare you have ideas
Yes, well, the They has expanded to include everyone in the whole world.  We envisage putting ourselves out there and instead of feeling the buzz of excitement for our new project, or idea, or
thought, we see everyone looking at us and smirking.  We hear them say, oh dear, how awkward.

We have visions of standing up before a group of people and not being able to say anything sensible about our ideas or projects, and everyone giving a slow hand clap.  They all go off for tea and fall about laughing.

How dare you have these ideas, they chuckle, how very dare you.

I'll be so embarrassed.

Now that in our imaginations, we have separated ourselves from people who do the things that we want to do, have caused the whole world great amusement when talking about our dreams, we cringe with embarrassment at the thought of all this humiliation.

I will be so embarrassed, we say to ourselves, if I put myself out there.  In this frame of mind, even a little email to someone about this project we thought so amazing, seems impossibly cringe-worthy.  Whatever way we gather our thoughts about it, we end up embarrassing even ourselves.  Oh no, we say to ourselves, it is definitely not for me.

And we are back to square one.

Do what you can, not what you can't. 

This is very simple and very freeing.  You cannot do what you cannot do, but you can do what you can do.  The problem with having dreams, projects, plans, is that we may only focus on what we can't do, because for some reason we need to beat ourselves up.  If I make a plan to write a book, and my imagination shows me scene after scene of what I think is the correct path to take, and all of it frightens the life out of me, then I am concentrating on what I can't do.  These things that I think I ought and should do, make me realise I am useless, because I simply cannot cope with them.  It reinforces the idea that I am no good and that it is, once again, not for me.  I could, though, just start by doing what I can do, and put some words down on either the laptop or on paper.  It is very simple.

Doing what you can.

It is for me.

It IS  for you!
Ask yourself, why would it not be for you?  Glimpsing the work ahead can be alarming but, the work ahead has not happened yet.  You have no real idea of how things will go, you can only imagine - and if you imagine frightening stuff, then you are capable of imagining not-frightening stuff.

This is your journey, your thing, your idea, it comes from you.  How it unfolds is partly in your own hands, and partly not.  But to start with, it is all up to you.  Even if you sit on your sofa with a pillow on your head, it is still possible to make a start.  The secret to everything is state of mind.  Allow yourself to notice how negative you may be, and stop it.  Change your mind.

  1. Write it all down.  But be polite to yourself, you do not want to work from notes and thoughts that tell you off.  If I wrote notes to myself about creating some new artwork, and I was very negative, it may read  - Creating an exhibition.  Why can't I do it? No nice paints, wish I had some money.  Get money.  How?  Can't do it, no time.  Rent rooms in the house out?  Can't.  Hate people. It would be easier to work from if it read - Creating an exhibition. How can I do it?  Make time to raise money for paints.  Ideas to raise money - rent some rooms out? Other ideas?    
  2. Daydream.  This is a lovely way to experience possibilities without having too many boundaries.  This is an exercise for enjoying things that could go very well, and there are no limits.  I recently imagined that I had lovely white wavy hair and I looked just like Audrey Hepburn.  It doesn't matter that I don't have white hair or look remotely like Audrey Hepburn, it was just a lovely daydream.
  3. Think about what you can do, not what you can't.  Write it down and remember to be nice about yourself.
You are one of them.

They, those people, are one of you.  You have imbued them with super powers because they seem to be doing the things you want to do.  But they still have to find the courage to do what they do, and they may well struggle, they may have to dig deep.  But they are not going to tell you that, and they are human too. 
  1. Don't worry about who you think these people are.  Work out who YOU are.  It all comes from you, and you need to focus on yourself.  They haven't got any super powers.  Like you they are good at some things and not at others.  But they are giving it a go and in time, you may choose to do that too.
  2. Networks and support systems.  Yes, there are networking groups and business support groups, but if that is too much to think of right now, family and friends are a great support system too.  Even if you only have one of each.  If you are very shy, online friends are a great network and support system.  You may be surprised at what you already have around you.  
  3. You are who you choose to be. Focus on who you are, not who you are not. Write it all down remembering to be polite about yourself.  Allow yourself to be nice on paper, allow yourself to have good points. That is you, too.
They will listen to what you say.

How brave it is to stand up and tell people your plans and hopes.  In our imaginations before we have even begun our project, we see ourselves not being taken seriously.  We fear ridicule and because we have made the people who seem to make a go of things, separate from us, we have created a most unreal and damaging scenario. 

What if your ideas are good, and you like them, and people listen?  
  1. Practice.  All those people who are doing what you want to do had to start at the beginning, everyone had to speak for the first time.  Talking about your projects does get easier with practice. 
  2. Tell people who can respect your message.  If the people you choose to talk to listen well, they may offer good feedback and advice.  Don't talk about your things to people who will make you feel bad.  Good criticism makes you feel inspired, bad criticism makes you feel crushed.
  3. Anyone who laughs at you is rude.  Select your listeners carefully, and if anyone is rude to you, try not to take it personally, keep your power, and go and talk to someone who supports you.  
Be brave.

Just finished the trifle
If all those people are not different to you, and if they may well listen to you, and if your own plans and dreams excite you, be brave.

Finish that trifle, and get off the sofa and write it all down.

Then tell someone who likes you and will listen, about your plans, projects, dreams and ideas.

Have courage and dare to be a weeny bit special.

My mother always advised us to focus on what we could do, not on what we couldn't do.  She also advised us to be

 Bloody, Bold and Resolute.

And these are your orders.

Mum.  Bloody, bold and resolute. 



Once every two weeks, I write a newsletter of all the things I am painting, doing and writing.  Would you would like to subscribe? You will read of projects such as the new exhibition on addiction, and the upcoming Patreon page.  And at any time you can unsubscribe, and I will never know it was you who left.  
Email me at antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com with your name and email address to receive it.  You will love it. New one out this Wednesday 8 January.