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Saturday, December 10, 2011

!!!!!!!* GOAL *!!!!!!!

 Quick Peek: Scroll to the very bottom of this post to see the side by side Before and After.

Frame Size: Though, I'm 5' 8 1/2", I am a "small framed" person, as determined by the following chart, and many others like it. My personal "elbow width," as used here, is 1 3/4", or less than an average woman of 4'10".
  I'd always heard the phrase, "Big boned," applied to me and others like me who were overweight most of their lives. To find out I was not "big boned" was enlightening. The optimal weight for someone who is 5' 8 1/2", is a wide range falling between 123 1/2 lbs. and 166.8. lbs Being on the smaller side, I originally aimed at 135 lbs, but found that I was more comfortable between 145 and 149 lbs.
   Each person is different in build and how they emotionally feel about being a certain weight. I was ok with what some would say was overweight at 149, but this is me, and I have to live in this body. I like being soft, and I don't mind some bulges. This is just my emotional feeling about me.

Coping With Other's Opinions:

   Believe it or not, I even had some people say I was too skinny at that stage (beautiful bulges and all), and I had some try to push food on me even though I was well within normal range, and so very much healthier. I had to stop talking to them about my weight loss, because the guilt trips I was getting were so discouraging, and made me ashamed of my progress. Everyone it seems has had an opinion that they were all too willing to share with me about what I should weigh. I finally decided my opinion mattered.  I had to get these people out of my daily diet. I don't know about other countries, but here in the United States, "Normal" wieghts are 20-40 over weight. Many are on various medications to control not only weight, but various illnesses caused by it, and many of those are on low fat diets, and starving themselves.
  Facing fears of weight loss:
     New Angles: I thought I was beautiful at 253 lbs., and sometimes I miss the weight. (I know that sounds strange, but it's true.) It has been hard for me to lose the pretty round face I use to have that I thought made me look more like my mother who is beautiful. Now, when I see the angles in my face, I see my father. I had a hard time looking at me during that adjustment. I'd always thought he was ugly, so seeing him plainly in me meant I had to get a better attitude about him and me. Well, my grandfather, his father, just loved a movie star who was very angular. This is weird, but I kept a photo of her on my computer to go look at whenever I felt bad about my new thin face. It was Raquel Welch! If he thought she was beautiful, and I did to, then I must have some beauty in me.Further, my granddaughter is thin, beautiful and she looks like me. It was hardly honest for me to think these ladies were beautiful while putting myself down. Once I saw the dishonesty in  my opinion of myself, I had to let it go.
    Attention from the Opposite Sex:  It's been frightening at times when I get more male attention than I'm used to. I realize now that alot of the weight gain was to protect me from having to deal with that. Again, I had a reality check. It has NEVER mattered what weight I was. Someone was ALWAYS attracted. Honesty came in the acceptance that I cannot control that, that I'm safe, and other people's issues need not show up in extra pounds by the dozens on me.
    Old Fears:  Early in life I got sick with strep, and couldn't eat for two weeks. I was ten years old. Another time, I was so poor, that I ate a meager bowl of 1/3 cup soup a day to make it last a month. Along the way of my weight loss journey, I had to face those personal fears. I had to learn to trust that I didn't "need" this extra weight in case something happened where I might starve. I had to stop keeping this fear weight to protect me, and begin to trust.
   Honesty About My Weight, Health and Self Esteem: The only point is what you weigh should be healthy and feel good to you. For me, because of my small frame to weigh 155 lbs. is uncomfortable. The fat gathers on me under my ribs, and causes difficulty in breathing. I am an "apple" shape, which means I do not gain in my legs and hips, but around my torso where organs are smashed by extra weight. Size and shape do not matter to me. Comfort and health does.
   Here is a common weight calculator that will provide such a range, like many others. If you find that you are "large framed," you'd probably feel better being closer to the higher amount.
   Here are some photos of me at my heaviest: 253+ lbs

Early, 2001 :Me at 253 lbs. and a size 24 jeans.
I felt beautiful at this size. I loved my round face, but I was in a lot of physical  pain. I had very high blood pressure,  borderline diabetes and bad cholesterol counts. I was on medication for blood pressure, and my physician warned I was only points away from having to have medications for diabetes and cholesterol.

2002: Another photo at 253 or above. I'd stopped weighing myself, and could no longer fit in any size jeans I could find.  Off and on  low fat diets, and kept gaining weight, often  starving to try to lose, then shaking, weak and giving up. I had horrible indigestion to the point that only a few bites of food was causing bloating and horrible burning in my throat. I had problems with evacuation that felt like a partial blockage. My ankles were always swollen and the skin on my ankles would get so tight that I was in pain. Sitting or standing more than 20 minutes would bring swelling that made my ankles the size of my calves. Makeup is plastered on here to cover a very bad case of acne brought on by a wheat allergy I didn't even know I had. Shortly after this, I started the Atkin's Diet.
Within weeks, I lost the indigestion. The blood sugar spikes went away, the swelling was gone, and I began having energy for the first time in years.
It took a total of 2 years, and by 2004, I hit my goal, and had lost 108 lbs.

145 lbs.  This photo is in  4/2008. There are not a lot of thin photos of me during this time. I was still having trouble with accepting my new body and facing those old fears, and I was very horribly camera shy. 
 I maintained this weight with a few pound fluctuation from 2004-2010. I was healthier in every way, but there was one thing that didn't get better. The problems with evacuation didn't leave. A few Doc's brushed it off. By 2009, the pain began, and finally in January 2010. I was diagnosed with anal squamous cell carcinoma. I read heavily, and found that quick carbohydrates are needed for the growth of cancer. Stunned, I thought of the years I'd gone without sugar, wheat, rice, corn..all of those high carbs that are quickly metabolized. The Doc was amazed at how slowly this medium growing cancer had grown. Beyond a doubt this diet saved my life. It did not metastasize, it grew slowly. I had surgery and I'm ok now. I tell this to point out that a ball of bad habits that started rolling before I stopped eating things that were bad for me, didn't just stop, because I quit. Other illnesses may linger for others too. Not unlike having an old bad tooth pulled, I'm grateful the cancer is out of me, and I feel whole again. I was unable to eat much for months, and one month before surgery, I had to eat so very little.  Low Carb taught me that protein packs the most nutrition,. It is the body's building blocks. Fat is needed for the brain to work, so I ate what little I could in proteins and fats. Four days days before surgery, eating was no longer possible. I did lose more weight than I wanted,  but it was maybe 20 lbs, and nothing like would have happened had I tried to survive on cereal.
 I did get scared though, and post surgery, I set about to gain my weight back. I knew how. Count more carbs than needed to maintain, and slowly regain just as I'd lost, but I panicked, and reintroduced high carbs and sugars. In four months, I gained not just that 20 I'd lost ,but 40 more pounds. I also lost the first tooth since I started the diet. Sugar does bad things to me! Also the acne, feelings of weakness, lethargy, mental fogginess,  indigestion, swelling of extremities, and all that gross sick feeling returned in full regalia
. Enough!

185 lbs: 11/24/2010
The Photo that made me get back on my
diet. I'd gained 40 lbs!  I gain weight in my belly and chest. My legs are thin here, and they were small before I lost a single pound. (Some complained that I didn't need to lose weight, because of my smaller legs, but I could not breathe!) I began again, fears faced, stronger, and out of love for myself and others, desire to be here for my children and grandchildren for a very long time, and frankly the desire to keep my teeth!

Fear of cameras or not, I had to become accountable, and my major sources of support being online can only see me by photos. I take at least one a week now, and post them regularly. I had to let go of having to *LIKE* them. Who cares? I just post them anyway,  to stay accountable. My life is more important than my ego that says all too often, "Not good enough!" Ego lies! Sometimes (brace yourself, and to my shock) I actually do LIKE them now. I didn't see THAT coming. What a surprise! I also report my weight and inches lost to at least one other person if not by online posts. Yes, it's for me, but it's also to give hope to others. 

175 lbs
170 lbs
You know that phrase usuallly said in anger?
"No Woman Is Built Like A Barbie!"
Well, I have nothing to say about that. Fortunately, I do have a photo. (See above) No photoshopping, no surgeries, and yes I am sucking in my gut. The point is we have to accept our own bodies. We're all built differently. I was descriminated for being overweight, thin and everything in between. I'm the one, however who has to live in this body, and that nullifies anyone else's opinion of it. Being fat never meant I was lazy, infact I worked very hard often starving to try to control it, and kept gaining back then. Being thin never meant I was starving, infact I eat more now than I did at 253 lbs. Having a large build does not mean you're not a sexy, beautiful and sensitive woman. Having a small build does not mean a person is a weak pushover. Being tall doesn't mean I can or should try to lift monstrously heavey objects. Being short doesn't mean helplessness. Finally, because it's what irks me personally, being large busted does not mean nymphomaniac, that a person is dumb, fat or in any way interested in you, whoever you are. Neither does being small busted mean frigidity or less than in any way whatsoever.
If we women don't stop  comparing ourselves to others, and start seeing the beauty in ourselves as we are in this moment, we are not going to think or feel we are beautiful even if we do lose the weight, get that tatoo, dye the hair or whatever we're thinking of doing to alter our outsides. Forget other's opinions (Including mine). Work on the inside, and the outside changes. 
165 lbs

10/28/2011: Me at 159 lbs:
 I am obviously not skinny. Check my belly. I am wearing a CHILD's size  6x. Seriously concerned about over weight children. I remember my children wearing a 6x, and there is no way they were half the size I am in this photo. The numbers have stayed the same on clothing, yet the clothes have gotten bigger.
Marylin Monroe's Measurements as told in above link: 37-23-36
Barbie's Measurements as told in above link: 39-18-33
My Measurements: 40-34.5-39
(I figure since I once resembled an adorable to me, Cabbage Patch Doll, why not play Barbie Doll? The point being, no matter what size a person is, they are beautiful. No, we're not dolls, but I'm in no position to be cutting Barbie down any more than I was to cut down Teddy Bears or Cabbage Patch Kids. End Rant.

 Photo by Tod Fent

148 lbs!
For me, goal is anywhere between 135 and 149, so I'm great!
Following are more photos taken by Tod Fent of me at Goal.

Simply Me 1

Having Fun!

Salute to Barbie 1

Salute to Barbie 2

Nods to Nigella (because she bugs a friend, but I think she's gorgeous. hehe)

Who needs Kathleen Turner? hehe (Love her!)

Simply Me 2

...and finally with much, much gratitude....

Before and After
I am healthy again!
Update!!! 7/4/12: Join me for weightloss tips on youtube!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Indulgences or Necessities? Coconut Oil?

This is strange, but why not?
The past few years I've really been into redoubling my efforts on self care. Any step in the direction of better health is a good to me. I was one to want perfection in everything I did overnight, but there were some problems with that. For me, it wasn't that I couldn't achieve perfection. My problem was that I had such an ego, that truly believed I knew what perfection was.
  Dropping that idea, was one of the first steps in better overall health. For me, doing the next good thing for myself and others, learning the next way to be gentle and putting that single idea into practice has helped me. I'm never sure what's good for anyone else. My only advice would be that if it's loving to you, chances are it's going to be loving to those around you. Taking care of myself makes me more able to be there for others. My main goals in life are to be a good Mom, a good friend, and if self  loving acts get me there, it's ok to let go of the idea that it's a selfish in a bad way. Indeed, I've come to believe responsibility begins with caring for the self as does love.
  I've not always felt love for myself, but it wasn't necessary to feel it. I've heard Love is about action, so I could begin with small actions, getting enough sleep, eating well, challenging myself to learn and do new things, and being gentle on myself with my progress. Being honest with myself never saying I didn't do well enough, or I wasn't smart enough or strong, rather that I tried, and I'll do better tomorrow.
  Love encourages. It turns out, when I act on love the feeling comes.
  Newest on my list of self care, has been hair care. Seriously. Follow me back to a time when I'd yank at my hair, burn it with blow dryers and curling iron, and you may see a lack of love. This is my body, in my care, not in my violence. Daily, ways that I've treated myself less than loving are revealed to me. I've done a good job at changing my diet, and getting better physical health, I rely on meditation, I make sure my day includes humor and I look for beauty in the world. I'm gentle with others, yet I'm hurting my hair? Well, there's always room for progress.
   About a week ago, I started doing something terribly decadent. I began daily hair oiling. Now the old part of me that still whispers, "You have more important things to do!" is still there, but I find nothing more important than love. (I do argue with myself. hehe) The genter I am with me, the gentler I am with others. To be kind to one and not the other is to me, two faced and very dishonest. So, in this next effort to balance my life, I'm putting oil on my head! giggles! I've made a few videos. I'm just learning this, so patience is appreciated. I wanted to title this, "OIL! Here I am petting myself!" haha! Yes, doing things that are good for ourselves is not always familiar territory. It feels wierd, selfish, and terribly decadent. It also takes a lot of bravery. Again, though if I don't, the price is high. I may not notice my suffering, but it trickles into the lives of everyone I know. I owe to others I love to be good to me.
  So it seems I'm learning about coconut oil. Isn't life strange? I wonder what I'll learn next. It's kind of exciting. Here are a few videos I've done containing what I've learned so far along with some results. This may be obvious to many of you, but the uses of this oil are new to me, and it's fun learning new things.

Light Oiling for Daily Use:

Heavy Oiling: Please enjoy the sexy Do Rag and Towel scenes! (Having a great laugh! Laughing is such a healing exercise! Enjoy!)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Low Carb Crackling Cornbread? and Ham (or Bacon) and Beans?!

A Gift for my fellow low carbers;
   Upfront, I am not much of a cook, but I know simple foods that are nutritious and taste good. I miss high carb, Southern cooking, and when I came across a simple flax bread recipe, I got inspired. I'm four pounds from goal today, but I've made my first cooking video. I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Atkins,'s Low Carb Forum, Kent Altina who makes inspiring videos on Atkins friendly recipes, and so many others who've been so encouraging. Nothing I could offer is going to be enough to repay the debt I owe for a new life and finally being healthy. Still, this is my gift back to them, and to the many others who are on the journey to better health. If I can do this, anyone can.
   Here's my video with a few, hopefully humorous mistakes. Recipes are written below.

Cracklin' Mock Corn Bread?!:
 Ofcourse in low carb recipies, corn meal and flour aren't wise choices as they are very high in carbs. This recipe is built upon one I saw online from Kent Altina. Seen here.  
 I'll be using the same ingredients with a few variations. Here we go!
1 oz. Pork Cracklings
1 1/2 Tablespoon of water
 In a small bowl, Break up cracklings into small pieces, add water and toss. Leave sit for 5 minutes to soften
In a separate flat bottomed cereal sized bowl, combine the following ingredients:
1 Tablespoon melted butter
2 Tablespoons ground Flax seed. (Golden will look more corn bread-like, but I usually use brown as it's less expensive)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Almond Meal (I added the almond meal only because I want the familiar grit of cornbread.)
   Add crackling and water mix to the second bowl, and mix all ingredients with a fork. Microwave on High for 2 minutes. It's done then, but I like to do more.
  I remove my loaf from the bowl, and turn it upside down. I put this in my toaster oven, and toast to crisp the bottom side. After, I only top with butter, however if a person wanted, they could sprinkle the loaf with 1/2 packet of whatever sweetener they like. Southern cornbread is usually sweet, and a person could go in the tradition of Johnny Cakes. They'd use Sorgum Molasses or Maple Syrup on top. Ofcourse, we need to avoid sugars, so one could drizzle with just a teaspoon of Sugar Free Maple Syrup.
  In this case, I like to take a separate small container and put a teaspoon or two of butter in it and melt it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. I add an equal amount of Sugar Free Maple Syrup, and drizzle this over my dish.
  Your loaf can be cut in half or quarters for two Thick, hearty servings. Total carbs: 1.35, 1 serving 0.675 carbs which I'd round out to 0.68 net carbs
  Warning, for those who've not had cornbread in a very long time, this is exceptionally good. Please do not make six loaves of this and eat it in a day. Not only will you consume an uncomfortable amount of fiber from the flax, when eating even low carb dishes in mass, we can go over our carb limits easily.

 Ham (or bacon) and Beans:
   3-4 oz. pre cooked, chopped ham (make sure there is no sugar added) or 4 slices of (no sugar added) bacon cooked and chopped (reserve fat and cool to room temp)
  (Optional at  0.25 carbs per 1/4 tsp) 1/4 tsp. of ham or chicken flavored bullion (You may want to use 1/8 tsp, as this was salty though not too salty for me)
  1/2 cup Eden black soy beans (Do not use regular black beans.) Keep the liquid. 8 carbs and 7 of them are fiber, so this is 1 net carb (I like to fork smash roughly 2 Tablespoons of my beans to make the sauce thicker, and leave the rest whole.) Do add roughly 1/3 of the juice from your can of beans
  Black Pepper to taste.
   Stir first three ingredients together ingredients together, and microwave for 4 minutes on high. Add pepper if you like. Done.
  Optional additions (be sure to add the carbs) are Salsa or chopped Green Onion

    1/2 cup canned or frozen or fresh Collard Greens, Spinache or whatever you like. (If using fresh, rinse thoroughly and start with 2 cups of them. They will cook down measurably. Measure 1/2 cup for a serving after. For ease, I like canned collards) 1/2 cup cooked collards have 2 carbs and 1 fiber for a total of 1 net carb.
    1-2 Tablespoon of reserved bacon fat
    Salt and pepper to taste
     Either add greens to skillet with cooled bacon fat, cook and stir until hot. (If using fresh, set on medium to low heat, cover and wait about 7-8 minutes. They will cook in their own steam and the fat. ) Cook to your desired tenderness.

Total net carbs for the whole meal: 2. 68 which I'd round up to
  2.7 net carbs
 Remember to add 1 carb for every packet of artificial sweetener, should you choose to use it. A bit of White Vinegar (Avoid Balsamic or Cider Vinegar, as these contain sugar/carbs), salsa or chopped green onion can be added. Just be sure to add the carbs from these.
    This is a very filling comfort meal. One won't be hungry for a long time after this. Ofcourse, the Ham and Beans, and Greens can be doubled for two and the Crackling "cornbread" is already two servings. I hope you all enjoy, and stay true to you. You can do this!
  Oh, and it's no extra carbs to go ahead and crumble your Crackling Mock Cornbread into your beans. Enjoy!
tina jones
p.s. I've already begun work on my blog for when I reach goal. I even got the perfect red dress! Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ongoing Understanding of Neurotypicals: A Cure

I'd like to know what causes Neurtypicalism.
    I don't want to cure all of it, just the parts that make them uncomfortable. You know, like competiveness to the point of self injury like in football, wearing high heels or incurring debt just to fit in, or the following of groups they don't agree with just to be part of a social group, thus being untrue to themselves causing ulcers and any number of neurosis. Then there's the talking when one has nothing to say that sometimes causes them distress in having to chit chat. This can put off dinner to appease neighbors in order to keep neighborhood peace with people they may not even like when family they love is waiting, thus causing hungry people if not disgruntled families.
     If we could cure the need to fit in, then it ought to follow, they'd have less trouble with others who were different. Neurotypicals who'd sing in the shower, get giddy and jump about like cheerleaders by sheer natural joy, would have less problem with hand flappers like me who are doing the same thing, if quieter.
    No, it's probably better to look to myself for the problem. I have a problem with acceptance, perhaps. I need to just accept them like they are, even if they don't make sense, even if their joys and sadness are expressed differently, comfort when I can, encourage when I can, and realize that everyone has their own ways, even neurotypicals. I also realize this won't be heard as the love it's intended in, because not all are capabable of stepping into another's frame of mind. Love them anyway.
    As far as what causes Neurotypicalism, as far as I can see, it must be fear of rejection. What we autistics can do to help is embrace them, and accept them exactly as they are. Some day, they may be able to do the same. Some already have. There is hope.
tina jones

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Do Unto Others, Karma, What Comes around..." Children and Discipline

     I don't have a problem with the idea of Corporal Punishment. In fact, I LIKE it..... as long as it's administered only to adults who hit children. Before anyone gets adamant about their right to discipline their children through inflicting pain to the body, remember it was not too long ago here in the United States that it was common "love" for women to be "disciplined" in this way. Here's a common advertisement from the 1950's, before women's rights took hold.
     Ridiculous to most of us now, yet this is exactly how I grew up. I had to be in charge of all household duties from the age of nine, and if dinner or breakfast wasn't perfect, it got thrown at me, and I was beaten. This was  "Normal" for the subculture of a home I lived in, and not too far divorced from the times. So you don't hit your kids "that" hard. How hard would you like to be hit if it were called for? Can you hear this? The question was not, "Would you like to be hit?" or "Would you prefer not to be hit?" It's, "How hard?" Does this sound ridiculous or even humorous? Let's keep going.
     Most of us have heard of the concept of "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." Most of us would agree with it, I think.
     Most of us adults would probably agree that if someone was upset with us, we'd have the right not to be hit in any way, further that if anyone even tried there should be laws in place to protect us, and maybe even get the aggressor off the streets where they couldn't do that again.
     We don't always extend these ideas to children. I'm shocked at the number of people who proudly talk of hitting kids, spanking, slapping or whatever you want to call it. It is a different area of the body, so maybe if we were out in public and someone was upset with you, it would be ok if they hit you, as long as it was "out of love" and on the right part of your body.
     Let me understand if I can. It's ok if the person is smaller, weaker and of a certain age to spank/hit/slap (on the right body part/s) if you don't like what they are doing and if it's "out of love," right? And only if it's a child, or maybe it's still women or perhaps people of a different color?
    I can't seem to think that way. What I can do is think ahead.
   Most people don't think ahead, rather they go retro with spanking with statements like, "My mom/dad tore my backside up, and I turned out just fine!" (They are entitled to that opinion, ofcourse. I'm sure by how they talk, it was a lovely experience. I just can't seem to identify.) They use their past experience as a way to justify hitting/spanking/slapping (the right body part, ofcourse) children today. I can understand using one's experience.
   I can see the logic, somewhat, but what if we apply, "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you?" That's right. Let's go *future* with this! Whatever you do to your kid today, expect them to do to you eventually. You may have a point. I'm getting on your side. This may work. I'm willing to have an open mind. Let's look at it.
  You're presently bigger and stronger, and if you don't like what children do, you *discipline* them with some form of a hit on a specific body part/s. It has an effect of changing behaviors sometimes and hey, It didn't mess you up as a kid, right? It's your responsibility to teach your kids, and that's what you're doing...More power to you!
    You are teaching them exactly how to treat you.
     Let's go far into the future. It's been a good life. You're old, not as strong as you used to be. You may even be weak and you may have shrunk some. You did a good job. You're kids are now big and strong.
     Now about spanking.
      What's going to happen when you grown child doesn't like what you do?
      Appaulling? Yes. Criminal? Yes. Heartless? Yes. (Unless they do it "out of love?" After all, you did it to them, "and they turned out just fine.") Besides, there is a big difference between a child and an elderly person. One is smaller and weaker, and ....wait. Nevermind.
       Maybe it's not all that bad.  I do try to see both sides of every situation. You'd never really want to hurt a kid. You're not that kind of person, afterall.  Maybe you're not five times bigger and stronger than your child. Maybe you're just twice as big and twice as strong. In that case, when you're say 94, we'd only appoint someone two times your size and strength to have a go at your backside...."because they love you."
      "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you."
        Have a good laugh if you will, and enjoy your Karma. We always get back what we give.
        There's good news though. If you want patience, understanding and compassion when you're old and small, you have the opportunity to start stocking that account now. Give patience, understanding, and compassion the next time your kid messes up, and you'll teach them to give you the same. If your kids are grown, it's still not too late. Begin now showing them understanding, compassion and acceptance, and this will return to you.
   So the next time you hear someone say, "It didn't hurt me," ask yourself, "WILL it hurt me?"...and if you can, remember the disciplines of positive reinforcement, the times someone liked what you did and said so, remember the smiles, and a pat on the back that just maybe, had something to do with the good person you are today.
To my children: I'll let you go daily, and wait open arms for your return. I'll celebrate every achievement of yours, and I'll remind you that I'm proud of you if you feel you fail. I'll smile at the sticky hands, hair spray and grass stains, or play pat-a-cake with you for as long as you want. I'll listen to your stories, without judgement, and encourage your dreams, because one day I'll be small again, and you'll treat me as I've treated you, with love that doesn't hit people.
  Again, many defend their right to hit children (again, spank, slap, backhand, switch, etc.), and many still defend their right to hit women and people of other colors. As for today, neither I nor my children or grandchildren are property. No one is being hit, and to the dismay of avid hitters, no one has been imprisoned for lack of beatings. (Again, your word for hitting of choice may replace "beating," "hitting" etc.)
Below is a link to the "Children's Bill of Rights."
   How do you want to teach them to treat you when you are old?
tina jones

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Video: Autism and Me: There is Hope

 This is a video of me talking about some of my experiences with Autsim and Aspergers. It is just over 15 minutes in length.

My Personal Experience with Autism. I need to thank my son's father and step mother for the immense love and care they show both of my children, for giving my children a home when I could not, my daughter for seeing her brother as her brother, and my son for his strength, humor, love and unending patience with the rest of us. His first "word" was not "water" despite my efforts. It was a whole phrase, "Hot coffee," exactly what I said to him each time he reached for my cup. hehe. 
   There were scarey moments. There were sad ones. There were exhausted ones, and I would not have missed it for the world! I would have missed love. Neither my son, nor I are "cured." We have simply grown. I made lots of mistakes, and I grew. There is room for more growth for both of us, and there is much beauty to our lives! We received real assistance from Easter Seals, Social Services and the Department of Mental Health. All worked to get him into preschool early, provide respit care, and family teaching. I cannot give these organizations enough credit for making a tangible difference in all of our lives. I know many want to help, and don't know where to begin. Easter Seals accepts donations. Local to you small organizations like churches, YMCA's, arts organizations, Scouts and schools may benefit from your talents. As always all people can use more love, and ways to be useful. Consider hiring autistic people where possible. Look for and accentuate the abilities in all people with disabilities.
My Blog:
Many other videos may be found at my youtube channel. A few others are about Autism. Most are about Art, and some are for pure fun.

tina jones

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Healing From Divorce

  A few weeks ago, I had the strangest experience. I suppose it's a marker for growth in many ways. A site I visit suggests friends, and an ex-family member showed up, I'm sure unaware to her. She looked beautiful and pleasant memories of her went through my mind. I was pleased. Her photos also contained some of my ex-husband. I discovered then that he had remarried....a year and nine months ago.
   Here is the strange part. I didn't see my exhusband. I saw someone I used to call, "friend." He looked content, and the lady with him glowed of happiness too. I found myself smiling at his happiness, and I said a prayer to wish them well. Now, here's the really strange part: I meant it.
   One knows these things will  happen, but it isn't possible to predict reactions. Somehow, it was good for me. I felt weights fall off of me. I never had to, but the notion that I had to keep thinking of him to somehow be there to take care of him fell off of me like so many scales. I believed all along that the Universe would look after him, but seeing this lady, made me trust it more. I'm glad she's there. I know he'd have been ok anyway, but I feel more at peace.
    Now, lest this sound too wierd, I've never been one to be able to muster jealousy. I never wanted to waste my time or the other person's. If they could be happier elsewhere, then I probably would too. Such is the case, infact. The relief is in while he never was *my* problem, my worry or mine to care for, I somehow let that notion go only seeing a few photos. Small miracle, to me.
   Ofcourse, I didn't friend the ex-family member. Best to walk in peace, no strings.
   It's been a journey this healing from divorce. It's been near three years now. I painted during the last months of the marriage of my own internal censorship falling away. I'd blamed him, but it was mine.

"Emancipation of Corpus Stradivarius"
Oil on Canvas

   Directly following the separation, I painted headlong into the feelings. Embracing them helped me walk through them.

 " Disconnected"
Oil on Canvas

    It seemed fitting to close this chapter with another painting, so I took to my solace of canvas, and found freedom there. What came was more than the butterfly with delicate wings of those three years ago. The heart that bled was left behind. I felt myself opening, unafraid. I showed it to a friend, and interestingly to me, they thought the wings looked more like those of a locust. Fitting, I thought, how they come every seven years, appear to die off, and reemerge stronger and more whole. I don't know what's ahead. For now I'm letting the sun warm my wings, and forgive a little self admiration, but I've grown, and I think they are glorious.

  "The Unfurling"
Acrylic on Canvas

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Prayer of the Surrendered

This day, may I leave drive and determination fondly to the puberty where I practiced it. May I leave the self will and self propulsion of leaps of faith, and never forget what it was to surrender, deserving only the best, as all do, may I retain my taste for free falls of faith. "Anything" and "Thankyou" are my prayers. What a ride....when I'm not running the show. May I let go of making "it" happen, and live fully, passionately in the discovery of innocense.
tina jones

Oil On Canvas

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

72 Questions I've Been Asked (Humor and Other)

I'm amazed by the questions I get asked.
Some interesting inquiries and comments have come up privately, and sometimes they come up publicly. Often these come up in everyday talk of art, so they may be useful to others.
   Some are about Art. Some are about Autism/Aspergers, and some are about at the end of my limits!  It seems more time conserving to write the answers here, rather than answer individually.

Quickly, this should cover most of them:
  1.   How big are they? Think of your mother, your aunt and your grandmother, put them all together along with any vision you may have, subtract the b.s., and you'll be there.
  2.   How long are your legs? They keep my butt from dragging the ground.
  3.   You have no ass! You have no hobbies, obviously. Look up any picture of "The Three Graces," and get over it.
  4.     How do you grow your fingernails? I don't gnaw them off. I also eat a good amount of protein, and can't stand snags. Those are filed as soon as possible. They don't get a chance to catch on anything and break. I'm sure genetics are involved as well.
  5.    How do you get away with charging $900. for an oil portrait? When you charge $100, people tell you what to paint. When you charge $900, they're just glad you're painting. I average about 3 commissoins a year for several years now.
  6.    Why aren't you married? I tried three times. It's not one of my talents.
  7.    Where were you educated/who taught you to paint?  I have no formal education, and I didn't take lay classes. I have a neurological disorder (Asperger's Syndrome) that cripples me when around many people, and it also sets me in the 98th percentile intellectually when it comes to memorizational skills. (Yes it was tested.) I was born memorizing faces. Practice for decades followed by reading some books rather than chewing the backs off of them, led me to understanding and learning things like how to mix mediums. I was not born knowing what turpentine was. I also asked a lot of questions of other artists. Some of them will even tell you the truth.
  8.    How do you memorize faces when people with Autism have face blindness/forget faces? Many times I know a face, but have no idea who they are. I forget people, but I rarely forget a wrinkle, a freckle or the hair growth pattern of their eyebrows. Names, unfortunately don't stick.
  9.    Why don't you know about html, nuclear physics, and why can't you memorize the phone book like Rain Man? I have no interest in phone books. I don't like to talk on the phone, and I've no interest in being anyone's side show act. Physics of any kind, however does interest me, though I know little about it.
  10.   What kind of shampoo do you use? I switch between different kinds and brands, but I do have a liking for green bottles. No idea why... I don't shampoo more than once every few days unless I've done sweaty work, and I don't use a lot of gooey products in my hair.
  11.    Do you work out? Do I look like someone who likes to sweat?!
  12.   I still don't get it? How in the world is someone born knowing how to draw or paint?! Think of it this way. Let's say you were born somehow knowing on some level about your sexuality. Small examples appeared as soon as you were able to express and demonstrate liking for certain toys or people. Later, you instinctively knew  you were supposed to do something with this inborn ability. Eventually, you figured it out, and with dedicated practice even at times obsession, you got good at it. Now, the rest of the world had to go to college for six years to figure out what goes where and why or to even begin to play with toys and like minded people, but you just had it in you from birth. By golly, You're a natural! That is how I know how to paint.
  13.   Sexuality? You're a sex maniac like all artists! Ok let me try again. Let's say your grandmother was born with a flair for food flavors. She didn't know the names, but she knew what tastes went well together. Through passion and desire, she tried an idea or two, and at the age of five made one hell of a good cake. It looked like a miracle to everyone around. Dedicated, even obsesively at times, she practiced and became an excellent cook. Now, I was not born knowing any of this. I only ate one flavor at a time. I can, however follow your grandmother's recipe and make a pretty good cake. She was born with it, I had to learn it. She knows cooking like I know painting.
  14.    Do you think measles vaccines cause Autism? I don't know. I never had them. Scarey, huh? grins I had both Rubella and Rubiola in the first three weeks of my life, before the vaccines were scheduled, so there was no need for them. Can they cause Autism? I don't know. Did they cause mine? Obviously not.
  15.    Why don't you know everything about painting if you were born with it? I've not needed or been exposed to everything. I'm only 46, and I'm still learning. When I need something, I learn it, just like you do. I just learn better on my own than from books or others. It's neurological.
  16.     If you're so smart, then why can't you fix my car? I don't know anything about cars.
  17.    What were your favorite subjects in high school: Math of any kind and Science. Both break down the small parts of things, and are tidy precise works. I like that, and the same applies to my way of doing art.
  18.     Why don't you eat sugar and grains? When I did, I got horrendously fat. When I quit, my appetite went down, and I lost the extra pounds.
  19.    But the FDA Food Pyramid says.....: They also approve drugs that get class action law suits for dammages roughly three years after each drug is approved. My body says, "Don't eat it."
  20.    What the hell is that hum in your voice?: It's stim. Many people with Autism have them. That hum is a vocal stim.  I also flick my fingers against the palm of my hand, hand flap if very excited, rock to and fro, and have a go at tongue chewing when it hits me. Try it. It may calm you down too.
  21.     Did you ever try to stop stimming? Yes, I was punished for it as a child. For example, I used to thump my head on the floor gently and rhymically to calm myself. I was told by the person who "helped" me with that, "I just took the back of your head and slammed your face into the floor like a basket ball." They are quite proud of their achievement, and laugh about it. I don't find it funny, I find it abusive. As a teen and young adult, I tried to hide the stims and tone them down, but I was never totally successful. Aging, life experience and resetting my priorities, helped me let go of what other's thought, relax and just be myself. If stimming bothers them, they have a problem, and I can't help them with that. It works better to be true to myself.
  22.     Can you cook? Only if I'm hungry, and even then it's not pretty.
  23.    Are all artist really sex fiends? You do paint naked people.: No, but many non artists have a very rich fantasy life that extends beyond the bounds of logic. It is exceeding difficult to do anything else while painting, let alone consider having sex. Paint is a lot of hard work, inborn or not. It takes focus, and at the very least the other person would be cheated of my attention. I'm not someone who can read a book during sex either, by the way. I tend to get involved. Also, reading takes a lot of focus. I'm very slow at it.
  24.    But you look at a naked person for hours and don't get turned on? I know your musculature and your bones. I also know the inner workings of your kidneys. That doesn't turn me on either.  What I'm basically looking at is your particular dispersion of fat. That will determine how light plays differently on you than the next nude.
  25.    I can't draw/paint, because I wasn't born with talent like you: More than anything, I was born with desire. If you have that, anything is possible. I also practice a lot. If you do that, you'll get better. Further, I've seen many from simple Bob Ross type painting through portraiture without them knowing how I "learned" it. Talent or in my case a neurological bend doesn't mean anything without hard work.
  26.    But I'll never paint like you! No, and I'll never paint like you. The world needs all of us, and all of our art. Don't short change it, by not doing your very important part. And don't shortchange me. I may learn something from you.
  27.    Would you marry me? :Would you like to be slapped? What have I done to you?
  28.     Do you ever donate paintings? Yes, I do two charity works a year, but that is my limit, and I'm backed up until next year. I choose who I do them for based on how helpful I think they'll be.
  29.     So you're a self taught artist: No, again. It's built in. Are you a self taught breather? You knew it, not intellectually, but instinctually. Later, you may have learned controlled breathing exercises, later I learned how to mix mediums, colors and what not.
  30.     Will you meet me at..? Not a chance in hell or earth.
  31.     Why don't you charge for telling people how to paint? I wasn't charged for it. I'm sure given time, you could do it on your own, and I get joy from helping and seeing others get it. You don't need me to learn, I'm just here to remind you of that. The online stuff is free. What I have charged for is when people want to meet me to paint. The lessons are free, me being around people costs.
  32.   You can paint anything! No. I have trouble with multi-layered flowers. It's more an annoyance than a disability, especially if the flowers are pink. The color irritates me.
  33.    Are you into bondage? If you cannot sit still and pose while I paint you without the use of ropes, then I simply will not paint you.
  34.    Why aren't you in all of the competitions?: How does competition add to my desire to help others learn how to paint? I get as much joy if not more from seeing them succeed. Competing against them is counterproductive to my desire. I'd rather challenge myself, my last painting, than worry about outdoing someone else. I find it a waste of time. That said, I do enter one competition a year just to see if I can outdo myself. So far, they've not let me in, so no one is in any danger. grins.
  35.   Why won't you meet me? It's not personal. I just don't like you.
  36.  But I don't have any money to paint: Use food coloring or coffee, and a shoe string on a piece of news paper. Show me your results, and together, we'll make it better.
  37.    How did you learn to paint skin?: That one was harder. I had the misfortune of having bruises regularly as a child, and I had access to some old makeup. The 70's had a lot of different colors. I used them on my own skin to try to cover marks. I found that yellow for instance will cover a purple bruise, green eye shadow would tone down a red mark, etc. I got pretty good at it. The same works on a canvas. If the subject is too yellow, add purple, too red, add green, etc.
  38.   Oh sorry: Stuff happens. I learned, moving on.
  39.    Aren't you angry about this? I was for years, but anger is exhausting. They did the best they could. It was a crappy job. To remain angry is to remain enslaved. I'm free, safe, I've let go, I wish them well, I can't help them, and I'm content. Blame is a useless endeavor, and a good way to keep from being responsible for one's own choices. I'm a big girl now. I choose happiness.
  40.    I think you're a Light Seeker, Angel, an Indigo Child,  my Soul Mate! Sucking up about meeting is not going to make it happen. I think you're nuts, and suggest getting help, but not from me.
  41.    But don't you want recognition?! For what?
  42.     For teaching people how to paint? I haven't taught them anything. I show some techniques. The rest is up to them. I just remind them that they can do it. They always could. Something about life makes people forget, I think.
  43.    Fine! If you're an artist who's not a sex maniac, then how many people have you slept with?! Fewer than I've had sex with.
  44.    So I've read people like you have no empathy, are you mean? No, infact I feel so deeply that it incapacitates me at times. Other times, the way I feel empathy and act on it, is very useful. Picture a fight between two very rough boys. One is getting hurt bad. Normal empathy is displayed in a group watching. Some empathize with the winner, yelling to cheer him on, and others empathize with eachother at the horror by holding onto eachother in fear and perhaps crying. I do not have these kinds of empathy. What I feel is for the person being hurt. I do not join the crowd. My empathetic action is to run straight in and stop the fight. This makes me the odd one out to the group, therefore they do not see my empathy, but it is of little matter, if I stopped the harm.
  45.   So, do you think normal people are stupid by the way they empathize? No, I think different ways of feeling and reaction are useful in different situations. I wouldn't be of much use at a group comiserating over the loss of a hair product, and that need in society is met by those who can empathize with it. I just put my hair in a bun, but many are debilitated by what others think. They need the empathy of those who can relate better than I. People like this are much better at creating bonds than I am, and it's an inherent to them matter of survival, so I'm not trivializing by mentioning hair products. It's just an example I've seen.
  46.    Don't you care what others think about you? Ofcourse I do, but not much. I care more what I think.
  47.    Why aren't you medicated for your symptoms of Autism like anxiety? Along with Autism, I am also a recovering alcoholic/drug addict. Medications act in a way that is unpredictable in all of these. Basically, if the insert says, "Rare side effects" you might as well put my name beside them. In some of us, they do more harm than good. In others, they are life savers.
  48.    Why won't you come enter our show? If I did that, I fear, and have been even warned, press might be involved, and I do not want to choke anyone on camera! I do not like crowds or spotlights. Best to let paintings enjoy lights. I do not find myself nearly as fascinating as your paintings. Further, I am not a press opportunity. I am a person.
  49.    Do you paint naked? Do you do your dishes naked? Wait, I don't want to know. Pigments in paint that are toxic like Cadmiums, Titanium and Cobalts among others can be absorbed through the skin. It's wise to cover oneself. Further, don't eat while painting.
  50.   Why do you do glazing? Your paint is not thick enough! Thick paint was invented by the Impressionists. I'm not that impressed with it. Oh it's fine and even beautiful, but it doesn't offer the glow of glazing that I want. It's just a personal preferrence.
  51.    What kind of music do you listen to when painting? I often paint in silence, but I do love Andrea Bocelli, and if I'm painting for sheer silliness, I'll listen to Pop music.
  52.    Why the loose black and white paintings when I've seen your realistic oil portraits? When I had cancer, I was very limited to how much time I could sit up. Setting up with two colors, a medium and a canvas was quicker than the range of oils I needed, and Acrylics meant I could get a lot done in the short time I had. I set a goal of fifty, aware that I might not live that long. I've surpassed the goal by several. I've lost count. Now, they are just fun for me.
  53.    So...the cancer. Are you ok now? Yes, thankyou. I'm cancer free.
  54.    Can you still have children? I'm a grandmother! Back off junior!
  55.     How do you make time for painting? How do you make time for hugging, dancing, yard work, cooking. My time is spent on what I love, just like yours is. 
  56.   Will you paint my deceased Grandmother? No. I no longer paint dead people. It's hard to get them to pose (humor). Seriously, I found that the emotional reactions of those I painted for were too overwhelming for me.
  57.    Do you paint from photos? Yes. I take as many as 20 photos, and choose what ones work best. Something will show in one that does not in another. I also often do sketching from life along with the photos. Photography can be blurred, enhanced or otherwise enough off that I need life to see what I'm doing. The photos are there for reference, not for copying.
  58.    Do you ever use a projector? I have, but it's been years. Personally, I love sketching. It's my first love, and I enjoy practicing it. Not everyone does. I don't see a thing wrong with projectors, grids or what have you. They can certainly expediate the process, but why get something over with that you enjoy? Also, there will come a time in each painting where initial lines are lost, and an artist's ability to draw will save that painting. So, no matter the initial method, I do encourage continued drawing practice.
  59.   Are you rich? No, coupon cutting is an art form, and thrift shops love me.
  60.    How do you dress as an artist? I just cover it up.
  61.    Why are you playing with that wad of clay? It's called a "kneaded eraser." It can be formed to erase either broadly or precisely. It feels good to play with. Get your own!
  62.   Do you stand or sit painting? It depends on how high the work is, and if I can reach it. Also, for me, standing aides in looser work, while sitting gets me more precision, and is easier on my back.
  63.   Who is your favorite artist? It changes daily. Any beginner that I see trying stands out as magnificent to me.
  64.   Why do you paint people? I've not found anything more beautiful or fascinating by spirit or visage.
  65.    Can you paint in black and white, color, in oils, acrylics, water color, guache, egg tempera, spit and dirt, lasagne, etc.? If it makes a mark, yes I can paint with it. (so can you)
  66.     Where do you get your patience for painting? Again, it's built in, like many people's love for chocolate. Do you need patience to eat a candy bar? Same thing. You're hardwired to love what you love. So am I.
  67.    How long does it take you to finish a painting? Until I'm done. Glazing in oils, anywhere from a few weeks to about 6 weeks. Looser acrylics, a day or two. The rest are somewhere in between.
  68.    If not marriage, are you interested in being a concubine? I'm perfectly capable of painting anyone with horns and a tail, naming it, "!#*##(#*$##!" and displaying it publicly.
  69.    Where do you get your strength to paint? I meditate.
  70.     How do you meditate? I paint.
  71.     Can I paint you naked? I have no idea. Let me see your portfolio.
  72.     Will you let me paint you naked? No.

tina jones

Thursday, October 6, 2011

R.I.P to Mr. Steve Jobs

 ‎"Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." Steve Jobs
 I'm baffled and quieted why some of us survive cancer, while others go. Laid in our laps, the survivors is to me the duty to enjoy life. Worry is no longer an option, nor resentment. Such privilege is best relegated to those who've not walked with death. Responsibilities like doing exactly what is meaningful to the individual, be it painting, playing, enjoying, lifting the spirits of another are no longer negotiable. Seriousness has, at last been abandoned for the duty of ingenuity, fear abandoned for the responsibility of unbridled joy, and insecurity abandoned for freedom to live in full expression of Life. It is short, our time, and at end, may I say, "I have lived fully, felt every emotion, helped where I could, played in example, and loved life with relentless, voracious passion!"

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Early today, I drove on a highway that was being repaired. Though both lanes were freshly asphalted, one of the two lanes going in my direction was blocked off by orange cones. Resisting the obvious temptation to treat this as an opportunity to practice well fantasized obstacle course training, I decided to watch and drive carefully.
 Traffic was, of necessity, slower, and I took in a bit of scenery. I'm told I see more detail than others, and I don't know if that's true, but a certain statement of the obvious variety bothered me. It was a roadside sign that read, "There are no side lines."
  I had to read it three times to make sure that's what it said. I'd have thought a person could tell by looking at the freshly laid asphalt that there were no sidelines. No, apparently there are people who don't notice that, so they need a sign that says so.
   I don't realize how fortunate I am sometimes. I can just look for sidelines, willy-nilly, and upon not seeing any, deduce that in all likelihood, none are there. Imagine those who can't, and what stress they must have been subject to, before that sign was put in place.
   I feel so selfish now, never having considered that others wouldn't know there weren't side lines unless it was written in words. They say I see in pictures. That must explain my super ability to notice the presence or lack of side lines. It would also explain why the words threw me off. It's my understanding others think in words. They might not have a mental image of "side lines" floating around in their heads to even know they should be on the road. I'm so glad that sign was there. They might have driven up the hill into the woods or something equally embarassing.
   Not me. When I don't see a side line, I know I don't see one. I watch for gravel or grass or whatever coasts the asphalt. Maybe they need to put that on the sign! What if there are people who don't know that in the absence of side lines they need to be watching for an edge of weeds, grass, sand, etc.? What if this is some kind of discrimination against them? This is wrong, I tell you! Damn wrong! These people need their signs!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why I think Jesus had Asperger's (Humor)

As a child, he was brighter than most adults, went to a church once and taught them. (patient with others and no sense of any age/authority connection)

He was smart enough to know it takes water in order to make wine. (precocious)

He did things like treading water, just to mess with people. (Fantastically obtuse sense of humor)

He left a regular job to spend his life walking around. (didn't fit within social norms/expectations)

Went to church again to whip a few people who weren't behaving by the rules. (Loved rules/No sense of Social Hierarchies)

He made up his own rules sometimes. ( black and white thinking)

He suffered bullies in life, yet didn't let anyone bully others. (times of immense selflessness)

He was very choosy about close friendships, and those he let hang out with him were some of the coolest weird people around. (Just flat out interesting with an interest in very interesting people)

 He took time to decompress alone, for some of us it's a few hours or a few days. He took 40 days. (committed to what was good for him)

  He spent his vacation, not at Disney or some other loud place with a bunch of people, but in the dessert. He didn't even go to Vegas. (got his strength and  renewal from time alone)

  He brilliantly boiled down several rules to no brainers, like love people and love God. Ok so it wasn't Einstein, but credit where credit is due. ( smart kid)

   He kept talking about the same stuff his whole life. (preservation)

His special interest was bringing dead people back to life. (We've all got our quirks.)

  He wore comfort clothing, and wasn't into pretense. (sensitive to textures, maybe?)

  He didn't particularly care what other people thought. (obsessed with his own interests to the exclusion of other things)

  He was not a crowd follower. (Individuality, lack of herd mentality)

When some lady even touched the hem of his garment, by golly, he knew it. (tactile sensitivity)

He believed we were all equal. (No sense of social hierarchy)

   Many of these could be applied to Budda, Lao Tsu, Mohammad, Moses, Mother Theresa, Ghandi, and some of our current spiritual gurus, like Niel Donald Walsche, Dr. Wayne Dyer or Deepok Chopra, our poets and often to our grandmothers, grandfathers and our children...every now and then even us.
   Many people work a lifetime toward equality, and many struggle a lifetime to embrace that we are all One.
    Some day, I hope all will see themselves in the eyes of others, that no one is below or above anyone. That some were born with simple ideas like unity of all, and some were born with greatness, and that it is the everyday person among us who, in their actions of love and tolerance, is creating a better world in everything they do.

tina jones

Friday, September 16, 2011

Unfolding Plans vs. Preparation

Here is an example of what happens when I don't thorougly plan a painting ahead of time.
     I loved the duo toned shadow under my own legs in a photo, and wanted to paint it. I wanted the legs to be substantial. I wondered what background might add to this and thought of a colloseum, you know something of visual weight.

I was bothered by the empty space on the lower left, and started wondering what, besides square pavers might fit into a square. I asked several people and got great input even though they weren't told what the squares were for. hehe.! I had to try the sink idea!

It was ok, I guess, but it put me in mind of bathing. I showed them the painting, and asked what they thought, and someone asked me it if went with my, "Theme."
"Theme." I quoted, "That would be a good thing to have!" I had no idea where I was going. I just wanted a painting of the shadow of the legs. I covered the sink and stared hoping something would mentally appear in that space. 

Someone suggested a water drain. I thought it appropriate. Surely this would be a good thing to have among pavers.....but it didn't work in my painting...

Sighs....I was "Back to Square One.".....
no..I covered this as well.

"Rats!" I thought. "I wish I'd had a theme to begin with!"......
There was my answer.

"Colluseum Rat"
Acrylic on Canvas

I figure, if I know where I'm going, enjoy the journey, but if I don't know where I'm going, enjoy the journey. hehe

tina jones

Monday, September 12, 2011

Longing and Satisfaction

   I sit at this canvas for most the hours of my life, and I miss little of the world outside. Occasionally, I break to visit a store or check a mailing. News is everywhere, and to these eyes nothing much has changed, save that I'm more peaceful with it all. Living and seeing as I have, so many things work out, not much bothers me. It's been many years since I've seen any problem that I couldn't reference an old experience to. Even then, if what worked out before did, then so would this.
  There's something about these brushes, or the act of moving paint. Without words, there are answers in the mere act of taking this action, or any. Someone once told me, "Those canvases can't love you!" in anger. Neither could they, it turns out, but being loved has never been a goal I found worth seeking. It works better to simply love. That I can do often with a brush, but in many other ways as well. My life is full of love.
  I am content with each moment with the gift of yearning for the next. I've heard it called, "Divine Dissatisfaction," that state of gratitude where I know I can be more, so I love. I paint. I strive without struggle to the next level of contentment.
tina jones
"In Blue"
Oil on Canvas

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Artists on the Autism Spectrum: Improving Gallery Accessibility

   I was very impressed recently when my state of Kentucky published an article for improving the accessibility to galleries for people with disabilities. Autistic viewers were mentioned, and I welled up with pride at living in a state that shows active awareness for it's people!
   I had to write to tell them, and I asked if they had ideas for people on the Autism Spectrum who were Artists themselves, as well as offering to collaborate on some ideas I had. They said "The Arts council would love to have your insights."
  I took ideas I had and went to the people who know best. I went to other artists with Autism, and asked what problems they'd encountered, and what ideas they had that might help. I also went to my daughter who came up with some great insights, as well as numerous people who are not Autistic, yet have some of the same issues with sensory problems. I was amazed at how willing people were to help each other!
  To begin, the two main inhibitors to artists with Autism are Sensory Issues and difficulty in socializing. Galleries need to entertain patrons, and it's beneficial to them that artists and patrons socialize. Galleries are a business, and socializing means sales. As Temple Grandin has indicated, we on the Spectrum are not good at "selling ourselves." We must sell our work, our talents, expertise and our portfolios. This is the problem I hope to build a bridge of understanding over, and hopefully help to facilitate compromise that will be beneficial to artists on the Autism Spectrum, Patrons of the arts, and Galleries.
 Following are two lists. One is ideas that galleries might be able to do to improve accessibility, facilitate interaction between artists with Autism/Asperger's and Patrons. The second is some things artist's with Autism may be able to do themselves to make the experience simpler and more enjoyable, beneficial. These are only ideas. What works for one may need adjusting for another, but it's a place to begin.

 To Galleries:
     Sensory Issues: Things like a lot of noise can be enough to cause a person with Autism to lose their ability to communicate, and communication means sales. It can cause us to have to leave to regain our composure. What happens with me, personally is that when music is loud, I cannot focus on what you or Patrons are saying. I physically feel the loudness, and it's overwhelming. At the very least, I'd have to walk out. I might be shaken to tears. Those who are more sensitive than I could run, cover their ears, and scream. We are more sensitive to sound than the average person. For comparison, it might be like you standing by a 6ft speaker at a rock concert while trying to have a gentle conversation. It's not possible.
    1-Consider asking the artist what music they might prefer (I realize this is there for the Patrons, so giving the artist some choice in input might help. I, for instance, would be much more comfortable with a soft string quartet or a gentle classical CD than a rock band or country music band.)

    2- Consider having no music

       Social Issues: Most often, it's been suggested that I mingle and talk to Patrons. This is exceedingly difficult for me and impossible for some others. I and others have trouble conversing, knowing when to speak or where we belong. We can get lost if we don't know exactly what to do. Some things you might do to make this easier:

  1- A designated place for the artist with Autism. (We can leave this, but have it to return to.)Think in terms of a book signing. I need to know where I'm supposed to be/ have a place to belong. If a table and chair were set up, where others could approach me one at a time, I'd be much more comfortable and have an easier time talking to Patrons. I'd suggest this be set at the furthest possible distance from the loudest area if there is music as possible.

  2-  Consider using our written materials to aid in communication. The artist may only be able to make "appearances." If the gathering is 2 hours long, some of us may only be able to be there for 10 minutes, leave then return for 10 more. We may be able to provide you with written information about our work. Consider that a worker might field some questions for us. We may also have an assistant with us that can help with this. (see 3)

  3- We may be unable to speak. Some of us cannot at all, others like me can go mute during very stressful situations. Consider that we may have to bring a person to speak on our behalf, or at least aid us in conversation with Patrons.

  4- Short speeches or our writing read by another: Where mingling isn't possible for some of us, some may be able to do a short monologue about our work. We may even be able to answer a few questions from the crowd. While we can be as nervous as anyone in a *speech* situation, it is far easier than mingling. (The Lexington Art League at the Loudon House has an "Gallery Talk" once a month that would be a great model for this. There, the artist talks to a group of artists. This could be used for the artist to also talk to a group of Patrons at the beginning of a show, or at some point during. A quiet area would need be extablished for this.)

  5- We could benefit greatly from a private "cool down" area, as mentioned in the article (link above)that inspired me. If given this, we could take a break, relax and come back fresh to interact.

  6- Online communication: You may work with artist who simply cannot be present for shows. Often, non verbal artists can type and communicate beautifully in online "chat" situations. Consider that one or even a few computers might be set up at a show, so that Patrons could interact with the artist. (Patrons love an eccentric artist, and a good story to tell of the artwork they purchased and how they got to know the artist! They'll eat it up!)

   7-Video and photos might be provided by the artist where possible. If the situation is such that the artist is verbal, but cannot attend a public show, consider that the artist might make a short video discussing their work and provide it to you. It might be shown to patrons as part of the display.

  To my fellow Artists with Autism Spectrum Disorder:
   As you've read above, I've only covered a few things. Other sensory problems like various smells from perfumes, foods that may be served, people that may bump into us, talk too loud...all of these things are causes for potential melt-downs or shutdowns. Here are some of the ideas I've gathered from my experience and from others on what we can do to make the experience more pleasant. (Those who may be going to assist the artist, can help be sure these or some of these are available.)

   Sensory Issues:
1- Eat about an hour before the show. Nervousness can do terrible things to our stomachs, and many of us have food allergies. Best to leave the snack table to the Patrons.

2-Bring or get water. A dry mouth is not good for talking. Bring lip moisturizer as well. Anxiety can rob the mouth of much needed moisture.

3- Keep a comfort object with you. Mine is a kneaded eraser that I can roll and squeeze. Anything that gives you comfort and a sense of familiarity will do. (I never worry about what others think. They expect artists to be a little "eccentric" anyway, and I can even have some fun with it. The point is to take care of me first, then I can be there for them.)

4- Never wear new clothes, rather wear what is clean, and comfortable to you. Look nice, but don't over do with things that are going to cause discomfort. Itching, tugging at uncomfortable fabric or wrestling new shoes is going to make it all more stressful. Be true to you, and don't try to look or act whatever you may think "normal" is. Just wear what you like, and feel good in.

5- Consider long sleeves or a jacket/sweater that you can remove if need be. Like many I have touch sensory issues. NT's love to touch my arm when talking. Long sleeves help buffer this, so I don't feel imposed on or invaded suddenly. I'd also suggest a pair of light gloves if hand shaking is a problem. Remember, you can opt not to shake hands too. Have something in your hands like a bottle of water in one hand and painting in the other, and no one is going to try to shake your hand.

6- Lights: Gallery lights are often low key, and fortunately aimed at paintings rather than us. Still, if they are an issue of pain or discomfort, consider wearing light sunglasses. It's a small buffer, but it often helps me in stores.

7- If you're someone who wears hats, these may help buffer some of the noise and sensations around you to help you focus on the patrons.

 8- Be realistic about how much time you can tolerate being around people. Never say to yourself, "Well I know I can do ten minutes, but I'm sure I can push it to twenty or an hour." Do your ten, take a break and do ten more. If this is repeated, you may be able to stay much longer than you think. If you are only able to do a few minutes, then you have succeeded. If all you can do is send the work, you have succeeded. Be realistic about the expectations you put on yourself, and do not push. Consider what you'd ask an Autistic friend to try, and only go that far. Be as good to you as you naturally are to others.

   Social Issues/Communication:

  1- Have someone who knows you and your work go with you. This person can help with questions, give out information, and help you in a panic situation.

  2- Go to the gallery before the show, even days before. Note where exits are, and where you might go to get away from the crowd for a time if need be. Spot the restrooms and the water. Ask questions. Consider going to a show at this gallery before your show. See how things go, watch and listen to what the artist says and does. See if you might implement some of these ideas.

 3- Make a list of all of your works, and write a little bit about each one, size, price, what medium you used. Write a short paragraph, even two or three sentences about each work. These might be posted beside the work. Also, when a Patron asks you about that work, you can speak a little, then hand them a copy of this note just for them to keep and hold. This can make the experience personal to them. (and they like that) Have business cards: Simply having your contact information written down to hand your Patron can help.

 4- Write or get help writing a paragraph or two, but keep it to a page, about your art. If there is a theme in your show, write it down, and make sure the gallery has a copy of it well before the show. It will help them in promotions. I'll include a list of questions commonly asked of me by Patrons, and my own answers. This may help you form a *script* of what to say in these often awkward situations.

5- Consider an Artistic Autistic duo. Think of times when you had someone to look after. I've felt more confident in those times, so having shows with an other person with Autism my be highly beneficial. Consider group shows as well.

6- It's easier to cheer on another artist. Many of us feel very uncomfortable chatting up our own work (it feels fake, and the work should stand for itself, right?), but we can be champion's for one another, often speaking with much more ease.

7- Consider making attainable goals for communication. If you are verbal, a goal might be to say, "Hi." to three people. You can say, 'Hi" to more, but make a goal plan. This way, we know what to do from the time we walk in the door. ie. I belong at this table. I can go anywhere, but that's my anchor/safe spot, I need to say, "Hi" to three people. These will be small goals for others, but they can be big for us.

8- Establish a panic signal for the person you have assisting you. It can be a simple word or a tug on your own ear. Anything that you and they establish means, "Get me out of here!" or "I need help." Make sure both of you understand this. This person may need to play "linebacker" to get you through the crowd and out to a place to decompress.

9- keep a note pad with you to write down any ideas you may have for a better experience at the next show, questions that you got asked that weren't on your list, etc.

10- Provide the gallery some photos. Photos are hard. Consider taking a few yourself, and providing those to the gallery for their promotions. If the concept of even taking a photo yourself is too much, say so. If you are unable to attend a show and can speak, consider making a short video of yourself talking about your work. Offer this to the gallery to show Patrons.

11- Eye Contact: It's up to you, but Patrons do like it in small bits, no staring. Here is what I do. Eye contact has always been extremely hard for me, but I can use what I have. I'm an artist! I mentally *paint* people while they talk to me. I look at their eyes, then their forehead, their hair, then their chin, nose, back to the eyes. It's my nature to focus if anything on their mouths to try to lip read what doesn't get through to my ears, but I try to move all over the face. I think in terms of colors I might use, or shadows and light. People are really quite beautiful, and I find they warm up to the attention. If they catch me, I simply tell them the truth. "I think the light on your hair is beautiful." or "I was noticing how the shadow lies against your jaw." or simply, "I was mentally painting you." They can be very flattered by this. Be ready to hand them a business card. I've gotten several commissions by accident this way.

12- Listen: The world is full of people who have never had anyone truly listen. Patrons will often ask you a question, get an answer, then they want to talk a while. This is great news for someone like me who can go mute! I can give them a listening ear. No pressure on me to talk, and I can learn things like what kind of art appeals, what about my work touched them, and what I may need to do more of next time. You can even ask them questions:  "What kind of art do you usually like?" "Have you ever tried drawing/painting?" Patrons often want a personal connection with us, and nothing makes this easier than simply listening. If there is a break in their words, nod, say, "oh," "wow," "that's interesting," etc.

      I offer a heartfelt , Thank you to my daughter, Eve Kotter who helps me keep things simple, and to the wonderful people at "Artists and Autism" They put a lot into helping me gather ideas to help us All. Their Facebook page is here. They are of immense support to many artists of all ages on the Autism Spectrum,

Lastly, here is a list of common questions I'm asked. You may want to keep them, and write your own answers down for when Patrons ask.

1-How long have you been painting? Many of us, have always. You can state your age if you like. It will be true, but they'll think it's humor, and a smile from them is good business. You can also say how long you've been painting/drawing/sculpting, etc. in this particular way. If you started a year ago, say so. They'll be impressed.)

2-What medium do you use? Oil, Acrylic, Watercolor, Ink, Clay, Fabric, etc,,
Are you self taught or did you take lessons? (It may be for some of us that it's built in.  We just do this, no lessons, no self taught, but "self taught" is clear and understandable to others.)

3-What inspires/influences you? (mom, dad, Picasso, nature, etc?)

4-What are you trying to say/communicate with this work?( Tough one for me. I'm usually communicating some technique, but some may want to communicate a feeling, a stance on an issue, love, etc.)

5-Is there a book or site on art that you'd recommend? Any that you like will do. If there are none, ask what they like.

6-Do you paint ____(fill in the blank), Many may be interested in your style of painting say, Landscapes, but would like a painting of their dog by you. Be realistic about your abilities, and be prepared to hand them a business card.

7-What would you charge for_____? Answer: "I have my price list here." Hand them a price list or a business card where they can find a price list. You might also direct them to the Gallerist who can assist with this, or the person who is assisting you.

  Remember, listening is key. If they ask about you painting their dog, then ask about their dog. I've heard many wonderful stories this way, and it's a chance to enjoy their company. Lastly, take breaks from the crowd before you think you need them. Schedule them if it helps. If you plan 10 minutes in the crowd and ten out, then stick to it. Again, don't push yourself. This is work, but it doesn't have to be mountain climbing. Be gentle with you, and that will transmit to your Patrons.
  Feel free to add to this list in the comments. You know best what works for you.
Best wishes and happy exhibits to All,

tina jones.