Van Dusen Festival of Lights

Firstly I wanted to thank Van Dusen for giving me the chance to bring my entire family! We had a blast.

If you’re in or around Vancouver, BC and you want to do something joyful for the holiday season, look no further than the Festival of Lights! With over one million lights decorating 15 acres, the scenery is sure to dazzle even the smallest of humans! With free rides on the carousel (my niece went on like 8 times!), a dancing light show, photos with Santa, food trucks and much much more – you are guaranteed to have a lot of fun! We did.

Don’t forget to share your images with the hashtag #vandusenFOL – Learn more about the event at: vandusenfestivaloflights.ca 

Update

My speech on September 28th went particularly well and I wanted to share it with all of you:

My kickstarter ended and right now it’s in the stage of collecting payment. Once I get the cards and fulfill the orders, I will be donating some to various animal welfare organizations to help raise money for them. I will also be listing some on etsy as well! I’m so pleased that the kickstarter was such a success.

I didn’t have the opportunity to protest Autism Speaks Canada, but I am hoping I can be there next year. I always talk about how they continue to silence Autistic voices, so it wasn’t a surprise when I went on twitter today to see that I was blocked.

I was talking about the Inclusion Art Show and that’s happening this Thursday. If you’re local to Vancouver, i’d love to see you there.

I have plenty more I want to write about but it’s late (or early?) and I can’t formulate anything else at this time.

Thanks for reading!

It’s a mood, for sure.

Trying to see through the thick cloud of anxiety and depression is no easy task. It’s a huge, huge burden to bare. The flashbacks have become more repetitive, they feel deeper. Each time I fail, I feel those traumatic events seeping back in and filling those gaps where hope once was. It is a situation full of despair.

I’m so lucky to have these cute, silly beings in my life though. They make it all worth it.

I should be happy or at the very least feeling fine. I think part of the disappointment is due to the fact that I really thought the article on The Mighty would perform better. I thought it would drive people to my website and to my shop, but the views and interactions have been fairly dismal.

The hits on my Etsy shop have totally decreased too. I heard there’s something going on with an algorithm to do with the people that don’t have free shipping or don’t offer it on all their listings. It’s making them less visible. I know for me that when i sell original pieces, shipping is included. It’s everything that’s made by a 3rd party that has shipping separately.

I also should be pleased with myself about having my speech coming up later this week and being approved to be a consultant about issues surrounding mental health and Autism–and yes, I am looking forward to creating change, but i’m also the poster child for those issues. So, I guess in a roundabout kind of way, i’m going to really be able to reflect on my experiences and create change. That’s the silver lining.

I wanted to share some images that my customers have shared with me, which is pictures of their purchases from my etsy shop. This helps keep me going, but sales in the last while have been so dismal. I’m also upset because the way advertising works on etsy is that I paid 4.80 American to get one person to click on one item that they didn’t even buy. So frustrating. I’ve heard better things about facebook ads but i’m just not even sure how to go about it. Seems when I talk about business, there’s people that genuinely want to help and then there’s people who poach on my lack of experience and try to manipulate me to pay them. I guess that’s another business strategy–but it’s one that I don’t want anything to do with.

If I can bring joy to others, even though i’m suffering, well.. I think that’s a way to turn something negative in to something positive.

I tried creating a new plaque that says “cats make life purrfect” but the cats I drew look terrible. The two wood signs I was happy about completing, haven’t really seen much traffic either. I thought they’d be a bigger hit.

My holiday cards are also still up for pre-ordering at a reduced rate. Hoping to have my hands on those the 3rd week of October, ready for shipping.

Greta Thunberg, a climate change activist and fellow Autistic has been taking quite a beating online. It really upsets me that people say such horrible things about her. I think politics are a main driving factor for people to be so hateful in this world. I tweeted about the honesty of Autistic people and how we’re fact based and it definitely goes for her too. Actually, this quote of mine says it all:

So many opportunities

You might have found my blog through the amazing article written by Renee over at The Mighty and if not, you can read that here!

I have been creating art for as long as I can remember.

I also had a fasciation with running a business. When I was younger my uncle actually gave me a very memorable birthday present. He gave me some business cards he made for me, file folders, an open/close sign and one of those receipt books with carbon paper.

Fast forward to 2019 and i have been lucky enough to find success through my etsy store. I recently added this design:

This wasn’t my first taste of business, though At around 15 years of age, I was reselling vintage on ebay. This has always been something i’ve been super passionate about.

Since i already struggle socially, I am constantly leanring new ways to cope and interact with people.

I recently got accepted to a local artist collaboration group and I feel so lucky that I can help others, get their help and meet new people. It’s been so perfect for me and I look forward to the next session.

I also will be speaking at Kickstart Disability: Arts & Culture’s 10×5 at the CBC Vancouver on September 28th. I have my speech ready to go and images selected.

The final thing is that I will have 4 pieces displayed at the Inclusion Art Show in Vancouver on October 10th so if you’re local, it’s a chance to own some of my works.

I can’t believe how busy i’ve been and I wanted to thank everyone for continuing to support me.

New Things This Week!

  1. Article Published
  2. New Video

3. Etsy Listing

I was on the radio today!

A dream came true of mine. I was on the radio on my favourite network, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). I met Gloria Macarenko and she was so lovely! I am a HUGE CBC fan and I couldn’t believe I got to go in the part of the building where they broadcast the news, both television and radio.

The radio program was all about a Youth with Autism conference taking place tomorrow and I will be running an Art workshop. This will be the first of it’s kind for me and hopefully not the last.

If you’re interested in hearing me on the radio, the link is here.

If you happen to be outside of Canada, you can always download a free VPN like ProtonVPN and set your location to Canada to be able to listen!

Anxiety, take the wheel.

Do I start this off with a content warning? Candid, mental health & anxiety sweat ahead.

With that out of the way, I want to talk about a few things that i’ve been thinking about lately. You know those perfect photos you see online? It’s all smoke and mirrors. All of it. I’m completely guilty of this. I am really struggling with my mental and physical health. I have been sleeping a lot, crying a lot and just overall not being terribly productive. I am basically a fleshy paperweight.

You see this here? This is what excruciating, emotional pain looks like. This is what a half hour of makeup application and meticulously placing my bobby pins in my hair looks like. I don’t even think I even am able to effectively fake a smile.

I know, i’ve gone around and around and around and posted about stuff like this (mental illness) before, but it’s such a large part of who I am and I wish it wasn’t.

Today tested me. It put everything I have been struggling with in to one hellish mess. Firstly, I had a big emotional meltdown yesterday — that started it all. Crying and saying a lot of things I didn’t mean to someone I care about are actions I severely regret. I have a hard time regulating my emotions. I’m not medicated–and the medication I tried did not work for me. (I had a very dismissive psychiatrist.) Our mental health system is very broken and I am having a hard time accessing suitable assistance.

Back to what happened today: I went to Superstore and tested my blood pressure at the “Wellness station” in the pharmacy. My reading was 149 / 100. Not good. Not good at all.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

We walked around a bunch because my health is not the greatest, so it was an attempt at physical activity. I was on board for this. I got a nice magenta top and then we walked over to H&M and I got a black tank top to wear under. This was an attempt at doing something nice for myself. We continued on and made a few more stops before we went in to Winners, which is owned by TJ Maxx — it’s essentially a Canadian version. I looked at some stuff. I went to go check out the Women’s clearance, and at this time I was feeling really concerned about my blood pressure reading. The thoughts were very persistent and added to the anxiety that is gnawing at my brain and tightening it’s grip on me. That induces sweat–the worst kind of sweat imaginable. I tried wedging my way in to the aisle where the clearance was and there was another customer looking at clothes. I tried to get by her and she kept looking at me. I couldn’t figure out why. Was I being rude? Was I bumping in to her and taking up too much room? What was going on? Well, I learned what it was quickly. Her eyes locked with mine, she gave me the filthiest, most disgusted look I have seen. My heart sank. She persisted to walk by me and wave her hand in the air, fanning it. I realized something: she was disgusted by the way I smelled.

I didn’t even realize it. No matter how much deodorant or anti-perspirant I put on, I still could not cover up my extreme anxiety. I was so embarrassed. Everything I wanted to see in the store, she happened to end up in that department. When I went to check out with the two items I picked up — a rust coloured top and some Schmidt’s Charcoal + Magnesium Deodorant (yes, I picked it up after this happened), GUESS WHO WAS IN FRONT OF ME IN THE LINE? Oh my god. I almost had a panic attack. On the one hand, I already felt like trash but then apparently I smelled like it too? Awful. I couldn’t even look her in the eye. I tried to maintain my distance but lines make it so that there’s a person in front of you and a person behind you. If it wasn’t for the purchases I wanted to make, I would have left right away and went back to being a hermit.

I still feel ashamed and disgusted. I obviously learned a valuable lesson today and I realize that I have to really put more effort in to the way I present myself and carry some kind of spray or something with me, even if i’m irritated by artificial smells, just to maintain some level of decency and consideration for those around me. The last thing I want is to be looked down upon by people I don’t even know because the emotional pain that it brings me just adds to the depressed and anxious feelings I already have.

Oh, and on top of that, I spent nearly 5 hours at the Emergency room in regards to my blood pressure, I had various tests done and will be following up with an outpatient clinic. I want answers or at least medication to help get it more regulated.

I definitely want today to be over.

Acceptance, please?

I’m laying in bed right now, trying to desperately turn off my active mind. It’s nearly impossible to do.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As April 1st comes to a close, i’m already struggling to come to terms with this month and the ignorance i’ve already encountered. Twitter is the place to go when you desire controversy and i’m no stranger to that.

I reside in British Columbia and we are synonymous with the NHL team, The Vancouver Canucks. Many people find them to be a source of pride and optimism, even to go so far as to say they represent Vancouver. I believed that for a long time until I became aware of the Canucks Autism Network.

It’s a great thing to want to support Autistic people but it’s another thing to utilize the puzzle piece and incorporate material sourced from Autism Speaks. They also use strange language like “families with autism” in their marketing materials. I feel like the #1 resource for those who organize these events and create the foundation for these networks and charities should be an Autistic person or even a group of Autistic people. To me, that simply is common sense.

The way these events are structured, there is a strong emphasis on family and children. A lot of the time Autistic adults are left out and not even considered. It’s as if they believe Autistic adults don’t exist. Hello! We’re here. We exist. We have opinions, thoughts, feelings that we would love to share with you. We’re human too!

I also saw that they are working with Microsoft’s Vancouver Office. For a while, I wanted to reach out and collaborate with Microsoft and I couldn’t even find a viable way to contact the right department. I was given a telephone number, I tried to exhaust internal contacts and I couldn’t get to the right person. I wonder if it’s purposely inaccessible? Microsoft has a program to hire Autistic people and yet the company is virtually unreachable.

Between Canucks Autism Network, Autism Support BC and Surf’s Up For Autism, amongst many others, we continue to be coloured blue and puzzled. I feel as though they don’t know the negative connotations or simply don’t care. If you want to help us, ask us. Put it out there on twitter. Have a focus group with Autistic people of different ages. ASK US FIRST. If you’re running a contest with a colouring page for Autism, hire an Autistic artist.

Align Entertainment Presents Annie

(I received complementary tickets in exchange for my review)

Annie has always been one of my favourite musicals. I watched both versions on VHS religiously as a child, had a chance to be in a production in school and saw it at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre many moons ago.

Photo taken by Emily Cooper

This version seemed different to me and I learned that it’s not uncommon for the scripts to change and get rewritten. There were songs I didn’t remember and scenes that seemed off to me. I also didn’t know why they said “always” instead of “only” during Tomorrow. It’s actually because the movie version changed it. Who knew?

Camryn McDonald plays Annie and brings a very unique approach to her performance. She’s incredibly animated, professional and focused, much like all the seasoned professionals around her! I see a bright and successful future for Camryn.

The whole ensemble had great chemistry and I really enjoyed the choreography. A Hard Knock Life was a great display of the talent of the young ladies playing the orphans. It was really mesmerizing and one of my favourite songs.

The sets were beautiful but it was hard for me to not pick out pieces that didn’t fit the depression-era that the musical is set in. I don’t blame them, it’s not easy (or cheap) to completely retrofit the set to be 100% accurate. Same thing can be said for some of the costumes. There’s a scene where President Roosevelt is seated at a table with his staff and two of the ladies look like they came right off the set of Laverne & Shirley, but again, there’s only so much you can do with budget restraints. I also can’t help that I have an innate attention to detail.

Photo taken by Emily Cooper

This is the second Align Entertainment production i’ve seen, the first one being Legally Blonde which I was SO excited to review.

Align has an incredibly dedicated team, committed to providing experiences you and your family will enjoy. It’s so important for the soul to immerse yourself in some arts and culture. Clearly i’m a big proponent of this!

Align Entertainment presents:

Annie: The Musical
Dates: February 1–16, 2019
Preview: February 1, 8pm
Family Matinee: February 2, 2pm
Opening Night: February 2, 8pm

Ticket Prices: Regular: $29–$42

Special Preview Pricing: $20
Thrifty Thursdays: $25
Family Matinee: $15
Address: Michael J. Fox Theatre
7373 Macpherson Ave
Burnaby, BC V5J 2B7

Tickets: http://alignentertainment.ca/tickets or vtixonline.com
Website: alignentertainment.ca

The Hustle, The Grind

My latest piece!

I never created art with the intention of sale. I create art because of the natural process and the welcome distraction it brings. Although, the more interest I get, the more i’ve felt like it would be the perfect opportunity to put some pieces up for purchase. I am a terrible closer. I actually have sold some pieces through instagram, but I am having a difficult time getting any finalized sales through my Etsy store. I will fully admit that pricing my work is a difficult feat. I want it to be accessible for people but I also don’t want to undervalue the work and materials i’ve put in to each and every one. With that being said, i’m completely willing to work with any budget if someone truly desires to acquire some of my art.

I’ve e-mailed different venues and now i’m waiting to hear back. Not only physical venues, but print as well. There’s no “one size fits all resource” that can tell me of places to submit my art or local cafes’ that display it, i’m completely reliant on google at this point and some kind people on reddit who have given me some great suggestions. I’m very thankful.

I want to mention I have seen the call to artists on Opus’ website and Alliance for Arts, but a lot of those are juried shows and/or require a fee and that’s not something that I am financially able to do. I just paid Etsy six dollars and change in fees – with no sale to recoup those funds. (Fingers crossed)

If you have any ideas for me-I would absolutely love to hear them!

I did hear a suggestion to have prints for sale but it’s kind of hard to scan my art. If you see the image in this post, that’s what a 9×12 looks like scanned. You can see all the bumps from the canvas board and it’s not attractive. If I take a physical photo, there’s always lighting problems and issues with the dimensions or taking a perfectly straight photo, where the canvas isn’t warped.

I would love a mentor or an artistic partner but right now I am pretty self-reliant. I wouldn’t even know how to go about that.