My year in pictures. And what a year it has been.
I have gone from being a terrified wreck in fear for my health and very existence to a grateful and (mostly) peaceful being who has taken control of my health, faced the fear of death and have become healthy and well adjusted with new friends and activities.
I also started doing art again, have had it shown in several online Zoom events as well as participated in various virtual forums including the annual Milestones Autism Conference (Ohio) which was the most well executed conference I have ever attended – thank you Milestones – I wouldn’t have been able to attend if it weren’t for Zoom. My art was shown there and I got a free pass to attend the rest of the event which I did all day for two days. Nowhere near as exhausting as the in person version but tiring nevertheless. I was pleasantly fatigued as opposed to frazzled and burnt out. One of the topics was on how the lockdown was actually a positive thing for her. It was for me as well.
At Spectrum Theatre Ensemble (Rhode Island) I was a guest on a panel discussing autism and spirituality, one of my favorite topics.
A short video of my old artwork was shown in another autism venue this one for Marin County Board of Education an organization I was on a regular panel some years ago.
Here is what I wrote for Art of Autism nearly a year ago:
“…And for those of you who have become addicted to Zoom – be careful – it has never been a very secure platform and there are better alternatives. Do some research and protect yourself. As a record number of people logon there Downdetector.com is a great site to check if other services are down, not just Zoom) and scams. Google Zoombombing if you haven’t already and be safe…”
I was wrong. I rejected the Zoom forum because I was afraid to try something new but fortunately my friend Anlor finally badgered me into attending her Zoom meditation group, Autsit, for those with ASD and their allies.
Autsit was for a time my only Zoom activity but I branched out and set up a virtual schedule, filling my days with various meetings, mostly related to my spiritual practice. This kept my mind off obsessive health rumination and also allowed me to make new acquaintances, some of which are local and I will be finally meeting soon for a Fourth of July barbecue!
I began studying Ayurveda and took control of my health ending a decades long dependence on heavy prescription drugs by replacing them with essential oils, herbs and diet. I exercise as well but in a totally different way than I did before – now it is more gentle and less forced. I did gain some weight but it is good weight and toned. I am very healthy now and my doctor calls it “amazing” and is very pleased – I have a good doctor; he doesn’t push the pharmaceuticals.
All this change came about as a direct result of spiritual practice – once again – especially my decision to face and overcome my fear of death. I even influenced a new friend who did the same process I recommended and is now herself free from that fear. Plus I made a new friend! She lives far from me and we may never meet but that doesn’t matter to me. We talk on the phone and attend Zoom groups together and that is enough for me. I don’t like in person anyway.
Zoom has allowed me to be more social than I have EVER been and I find myself enjoying the contact I make there. It works because I am able to control how much I leave the camera on which enables me to stim and not sit still as needed. I no longer have such a packed schedule because I have been able to include some non virtual activities such as creating non – digital art!
This I was unable to do before because I didn’t have art supplies but another new friend I met at Autsit, G, gifted me with some supplies and I finally sat myself down and got started.
I was afraid I had lost my skill but that turns out to be an erroneous assumption.
The friend who got me the supplies had sent a picture of a little bird. That bird was my first sketch in a very long time.
Then I sketched a boxer for G who said his beloved childhood dog was part boxer.
Lest he feel lonely I then invited Pug
Then more birds joined the menagerie.
Finally, along came Baby Big Kitty, too young to be dangerous.
I’ve also gone out a few times and here is the buck I spotted on one of these field trips:
Finally, here is an excerpt from an email from some folks I also have never met but apparently influenced:
“…My manager has shared your articles with me, and I just want to express to you, that you are an amazing woman!
I wanted to share, that you have moved me in a tremendous way and motivated me to push myself harder in my personal goals!
I would love to read and learn more about you!
Thank you!!! Know you are making a difference in someone’s life! I have shared you article with my colleagues and they are all wowed!
Again thank you for sharing your story…”
Comments like this are what keep me creating knowing someone somewhere is appreciating it.
I am Christian Espicha, an adult woman with autism. Though diagnosed with autism as a young child, I didn’t receive appropriate services until recently when I became a client at Autistry Studios in San Rafael, CA. The reason I didn’t receive services is partly because I possess a genius IQ. At age 45, I was the oldest member to graduate from the Humboldt County Structure Firefighting Academy. I completed EMT training and worked as a firefighter/EMT in Trinity County, California. I performed with my fellow firefighters montain resues and recoveries, assisted the Forest Service with fires in the Trinity National Forest and assisted with water rescues/recoveries on the Trinity River. I’m also a writer and an artist. See my website at www.autistryandme.wordpress.com my art and writing can be seen on Krishnachameleon. Follow me on Twitter @KrishtianDamian