A Thought For A Grey Winter’s Day

It’s easy to cut people from one’s life using the popular excuse that they are ‘toxic’. And, there should be no doubt that place should never be given to manipulative, gaslighting, narcissistic persons. However…

I see too much of ‘difficult’ individuals getting discarded by people using the toxic excuse, when these individuals aren’t toxic at all; they are simply different. They may be wounded. They may deal with life and its frustrations and disappointments in a way that you disagree with. They may feel about matters very differently than you do. But, different isn’t toxic. And, giving up on someone and their friendship means you miss out on seeing things from another perspective than your own.

I guess many people are afraid of looking – really looking – at things from a different perspective than their own. And, I see friendships lost because of this stubbornness. 

A recent situation between two friends of mine has brought my song ‘Incomprehensible‘ to mind:

‘We’re at an impasse, no bridge exists between our worlds. And neither one can fathom the view from the other’s eyes.’

Yet, there should be some fathoming going on! 

Alas, I fear that both of my friends are unwilling to see things from the other side. One feels they have the moral high ground and doesn’t seem to want to give an inch. The other isn’t in a place where they can make allowances for such an ideological view of things. Impasse. Sad. 

Friendship is precious. Life and loss is painful. Compassion remains the key and can act as interpreter. But, now I’m just getting lofty and preachy and sounding ideological myself, and I’m not an idealist; I’m a realist.

I guess I’m just frustrated at my own inability to get these two to mend up their friendship, as well as being annoyed with the general way of things.

There’s no way to end this post except with a deep, heavy sigh…oh, and a link to that song.

https://autumndawnleader.bandcamp.com/track/incomprehensible

Life, Death & Coffee 

​Some people require a visual. Some are more auditory. Others still prefer the written word. This vlog/blog post has it all.

I actually have a friend who prefers my vlog posts, where I TALK, more than she does listening to what I – and many others feel – is the considerably better use of my voice. 

Personally, despite having a good vocabulary, I find it difficult to verbalise my thoughts and feelings. I am unable to put these things into SPEECH. So, I put them in songs (one uses a different part of the brain when one sings than when one talks… this is the reason why some people who have suffered severe strokes, rendered speechless, can sing just fine…it is also why a stutterer can sing perfectly and clearly) or in visual art which illustrates how I’m feeling.

I find talking overrated. When I’m forced to speak, I do so…but, it’s rarely willingly. And, inevitably, I never end up saying what I really want and need to get across. It’s very frustrating. I don’t stutter badly, but I have elements of the problem. Speech is just hard work.

Of course, the problem with art, in any form, is that once it’s ‘out there’ it’s open to all sorts of interpretation. You see, hear, read and feel it through YOUR filter.

Sigh. It is the human condition. 

But, I continue to try to communicate, for what it’s worth.

 Life is hard. One could say, life is hard as speaking, and life with ANY chronic illness is a prison. Here’s an animation illustrating the daily struggles and dreams thereof:

This next video is a music video… I’m not explaining it. Just watch and listen. 


And, ending on a fun note. One of my grandfather’s favourite jokes was about a guy who needed to pass his school exams, but he was woefully stupid. His teacher, trying to be kind to him, decided to help him out by marking him a passing grade if he could spell just one word correctly. The teacher thought about it and realised that the student was too dumb to even get one word right, so decided to let him pass if he could just get ONE LETTER of one word right. The teacher thought that, surely, even this idiot could at least get one letter in a word correct. So, the teacher said to his student, ‘Spell the word coffee.’ The student replied, ‘K.A.U.P.H.Y.

And, thus, I give you this:


May your coffee be good and may you always be heard.

Life As I Know It | an animation

This goes out to the precious extraordinary carers of those of us with bpd.  What makes these people so unique (and rare) is their ability to accept us as we are (when that is so hard to do) and not do the typical abandonment of us when we are difficult. This love and support makes all the difference to a sufferer. Specifically and personally, this is dedicated to my carer and husband, Jamie, with my unspeakable thanks.

Of Kings and Royal Moments

I need to take more time to post the positives when they happen. I get so worn down – am so worn down – by the negatives and the depression and other chronic illness that it can totally obscure those small – but beautiful – moments that happen. Pardon me, while I relate this story.

I still remember the first fan letter I ever wrote to a celebrity crush when I was a little girl.  It was Ricky Schroder of Silver Spoons (oh, gah, am I ever dating myself now). I was properly obsessed. I think I was hoping for a marriage proposal to come from my letter. I’m sure I would’ve been thrilled with just a response from his management team and a signed picture or something.  I received nothing.

I was disappointed, of course. I continued to crush on other celebs from time to time, but real all out fangirling was something I kept to myself and, as much as was in my control, avoid. Years and years later, and I eventually began to feel that maybe fangirling was a symptom of bpd and my obsessions were not something to encourage. However, sometimes one can’t help themselves.

Then came the emergence of Twitter. And, regular people were actually conversing with actors and artists of all media. I, of course, took my little stabs at being noticed, tweeted at, etc. It was Ricky Schroder all over again.

Now, the thing is, even with only my extremely limited success (read failure) at the music business, I realise that being in the public eye and desirable can be full of pressure. And, there’s the politics of it. You can’t be seen to be favouring one over the other when you’re trying to keep all your fans happy. Sometimes it’s easier just to ignore everyone who messages, mentions, tags, etc. you, rather than taking the chance of offending some by missing them out. And, I’m certain for many celebs who have millions of fans, there simply isn’t the time. One must work and sleep, after all…or the rest of us would have nothing over which to fangirl/boy over. And, believe it or not, they do deserve lives of their own.

There is a point to all this. Please, stay with me.

When the BBC first aired The Musketeers, I was enchanted. Here was swashbuckling adventure and beautiful (and talented) actors and actresses to gaze upon. ‘All for one and one for all’ come alive on the screen. Loyalty and love and gunpowder…and…

The best King Louis has EVER been portrayed, played by the exceptionally talented and simply gorgeous actor Ryan Gage.I tried my damndest to keep Mr Gage and his smile out of my heart and only on my screen. Have I mentioned, I’m good at failure.

But, look how strong I was. I managed to get to the third and final (sigh) season before looking to see if Ryan Gage was on Twitter. I managed to nearly make it to the middle of this last series before tweeting ‘@RyanGage is the best King Louis ever’. I didn’t expect anything at all…I just couldn’t contain my enthusiasm anymore. 

But. I did get a response. One of the writers of the show liked my tweet. Really, just that made my night. It was nice to have the comment noticed and appreciated. Especially by someone who worked so hard to bring us this quality entertainment.

But then, there was the next day. I posted something else Ryan and Louis related…and…  Holy French curly wigs, Batman! … I got a notification on my phone that the man himself had liked it!

I posted a few more things. He liked them, too!

Shit. I mean, it was awesome and it made me smiley. Very smiley. Elated. Ricky Schroder, Neil Gaiman, the entire cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer WHO?! But, it also threw me immediately into full-on fangirl mode.

‘Oh, Autumn, you’re too old for this. You’ll get annoying. You always do. Stop it. For goodness sake, you’re flirting. Surely he gets tired of all this. You’re going to make a nuisance of yourself. He has better people than you to pay any attention to.’ And, then, the running negative track in my mind turned even darker and more tormenting. 

Now we come to the specific moment this post is about. Yesterday, feeling particularly rough with the depression I suffer, my 9 year old daughter, who has a talent for drawing, drew me this picture to try to cheer me up. 

Last night, I posted it on Instagram and tagged Ryan Gage in it. Not only did he like it, but he posted it, too! Now, my little girl suffers from low self esteem a lot of the time. She loves to draw and has an eye for art, but all too often she feels bad about herself and thinks she isn’t good at anything. I got to see the joy in her face when I showed her that Ryan himself had liked and reposted her drawing; I got to see her light up at the comments others made about how good her work was. 

So, while I can’t promise that I won’t get annoying – I hope I don’t; but, I know how I am – what I’ve found is that this gifted actor is as sweet to his fans as he is beautiful to look upon. The time he takes to look at fans’ posts and acknowledge them makes him very rare and special…and even more worth fangirling over. 

So, thank you, Ryan Gage, for being you. And…if I get annoying…just go all Louis on me and have me beheaded…kiss me first, though.

The One Thing

The one thing that I like about myself, the one and only thing I am good at, is the one thing I can’t get people to take notice of.

The discouragement is immense.

And, it makes a person question themselves. Terribly.

Yesterday, my youngest daughter (who also suffers from BPD and struggles with controlling her emotions and knowing her worth) came home from school in floods of tears. She was sobbing uncontrollably because she hadn’t received an award for anything when every one else in her group of best friends had received recognition for something. Many of the things the others had got an award for were things I have been told by her teachers are things in which she, herself, highly excels. She came out of the school yard, wailing, ‘I’m rubbish. There’s nothing I’m good at doing.’

I know it isn’t true. But, when everyone else in your circle has been publicly  recognised and you haven’t, one begins to doubt themselves, no matter how many times one has been told how great they are at something.

I took her home and showed her BBC Introducing, where I have submitted many of my best tracks. All of which they have refused to play, while other musicians with equal – or even less – talent get featured by them. I asked my daughter if she thought I was rubbish at singing and writing songs. She responded, ‘No! Of course not, Mummy.’ I pointed out that, by her logic, I must be rubbish. I hadn’t been played on the radio while these others had.

I made my point which ended up with her saying, ‘BBC Introducing is stupid!’

Just because others get the recognition you don’t doesn’t mean you’re not just as deserving, and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t just as good as the others (or, better). Life – and school and bloody BBC fucking Introducing – just isn’t fair. And, it sucks. But it doesn’t mean we’re rubbish.

But, it’s one thing to preach this to someone else and quite another to believe it yourself.

I’m struggling. So, thank you, Life, for once again being a bastard. Thank you, school, for overlooking my daughter’s achievements. Thank you, BBC Introducing, for not actually championing talented and unique independent musicians like you say you do. Thank you, all, for making people feel worse about themselves. You’re doing a great job!

Strings In My Mind

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The guitar was an instrument I was never going to play. But, that being said, at one time I never intended on playing any instrument other than my voice. I was a vocalist. I would sing and others would play. Then, I turned 16 (many years ago) and things for me changed. Suddenly, I wanted to write. I went to the piano because it’s what was there. There was a piano available and I could play it well enough – just about – to use it as a songwriting tool.
 
I’m not sure when it all changed for me – where I got tired of looking for others to accompany me – where I wanted to be free to perform utterly solo – but the change happened. And, from somewhere inside, I heard the piano call to me. I sat down. And. I. Played.
 
I would laugh when people would call me a pianist and when they would speak glowingly of my playing. I’m a vocalist, I would say. I heard the piano giggle, too. We had our secrets. But, I finally realised I wasn’t just a vocalist anymore: I was a proper musician – I’d just taken the long way ’round.
 
What other instruments could I play? I began to pick the odd one up… can I make this sing?
 
The djembe.
The Native American flutes.
The lyre.
 
And, we sang while the old guitar (that belonged to my husband but he didn’t play either) gathered dust and I avoided frets like I avoid making a phone call.
 
Oh, every once in a great while I’d pick it up and ‘try’. But, I wanted it to be easy, of course.  And, I didn’t want it to be painful. The guitar is neither easy nor painless.  My nails would have to go, too.  Fuck this.
But, I’d write guitar songs.  I’d write them on the piano and then have a guitarist friend play them.
Then. Earlier this year, a chance invitation from someone had me inexplicably attending a ‘build your own ukulele workshop’.  And, in an afternoon, I was playing the ukulele as if I had done all my life.
I thought, ‘Hmmm… I can manage these frets…’ I looked over at the dust covered six stringed beast, just sitting there taunting me.
Understand this, musical instruments have souls. They have personalities. It’s why I name all my instruments.  And, I may be crazy, but I’m not off my meds and I’m NOT delusional…  musicians know this: instruments have a way of communicating with you. The guitar was smug.  It was taunting me.
‘I’m out of your reach, old woman.  Can’t teach you a new trick.’
Long story much greatly shortened, we grappled with each other but eventually reached an understanding; a truce was called.  He let me in.  I discovered he needed a bit of help in order to help me play him. So, I had his action lowered and we set off teaching an old girl new tricks after all.
This is the result.
I’m proud of this; I’m excited to share it.  And, I’m grateful.  Grateful for this musical journey which has done so much more than add versatility to my performance as a musician; it’s gone deep, affecting the very fabric of my being. I’m selling this short EP of acoustic guitar and rich vocal songs for just £2, but to me it’s worth so much more…this experience has been priceless. May you enjoy the fruits of my labour – and my precious friendship – with the guitar.
Lesson: sometimes, some things are worth the pain.