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Opportunities and Possibilities

A gaming friend of mine messaged me yesterday evening for a catch up. He'd recently moved house and also tried coke for the first time. I was a little concerned, as I've known a few people get hooked on that stuff. Turns out his housemate does coke. I told him to be careful, as I saw the language he was using when describing it all, and he seemed quite rather excited by it all. He asked if I'd ever tried it - which I have not. Around the time of experimenting with different substances, I had access to MDMA which was a similar price, but lasted a lot longer than cocaine, and so I never really understood the point in trying coke. I think I also recommended caution because I know my friend's personality is similar to other people who got hooked on coke. Whilst the topic initially made me feel uneasy, I reminded myself that people are free to do as they please. Of course you care for friends, and want them to be safe and well - but we all have our own path and choices to make.

I also told my friend about Meg and it was lovely to hear his reaction. He said that he was really happy for me, and hearing about it made him smile. It was also nice to have a friend reach out to message me, as 90% of the time I'm messaging friends and waiting for them to reply. So to have an out of the blue message is quite a rarity, and it made me happy. I decided on an early night not long after we'd finished talking, as I was exhausted.

Woke up just after 5 this morning from a text message from Test & Trace. Upon checking the URL and number - I realised it was a scam text. Thankfully I'd checked before I had gone any further with it. I Google searched the link they'd sent, rather than opening it in my browser, and I also checked the phone number it was from. Besides, I feel fine - no symptoms etc. So whilst initially I felt a little unnerved, I was quickly able to ground myself in reality.

My gut did think this was all a little odd. It's not like I'm around many people - and whilst I wouldn't want to put my folks at risk, what with their age, and my dad's health - I had a feeling something was a little off with this text message.

I had about 2 hours left on my phone before the alarm went off. So I think I'm running on about 6 hours sleep. I felt fine when I woke up, but about an hour later and I'm yawning a lot. A nap might be in order for later in the day. Past few weeks I've been drinking less coffee and smoking less weed - which is all a step in the right direction. Meg smokes a lot less than I do, and that is acting as impetus for me to reduce my own consumption further.

Having quit weed 3 times for a total of over 4 years - I knew there were times when it was taking more than it provided. Of course, at best it provides a momentary distraction. A calm, and a time of enjoyment and deeper introspection and thought. But too much and you start to feel hazy, wavy and like you're living in a fog. But I needn't focus on the why/how - I maintain the goal to smoke weed even less. With that intention, the reality will play out in my favour. Might seem a bit vague or mystical to consider that to be a solution - but a belief will affect your reality.

My usage with weed has never been outrageous, even during times of peak usage. At most I smoked an ounce a month. Now I smoke an ounce in 6 months. Personally, I'd like to reduce that further and go back to when I made an ounce last a year. Mind you, that was also when I was in the midst of alcohol abuse, and I think the Mon-Fri I didn't smoke I was pretty much drinking like a fish. Still - I'm just glad I've grown to respect and understand weed a lot more, and seeing Meg's approach has served as a reminder to me, to keep things in check, and remember that weed has it's place - but it shouldn't ever be allowed to become a dominant fixture in day-to-day life.

Guy messaged me around 5am saying it was the perfect time for a bike ride. He's sent me a few messages like this, especially as I told him I prefer cooler temperatures when cycling. I think he'll be cycling himself in the near future, although I'm not sure how regularly that'll be in all honesty. His foot continues to give him jip now and then, since the surgery was carried out. But on the whole, from what I've seen - he's able to walk for longer.

I spoke with him yesterday and said I'd visit today, and then give him a lift back to Haddenham as he's meeting his ex and their daughter around 5pm. Probably go to his for about 15:30 or so and spend an hour catching up. I've found recently that a shorter visit works better for me. That's not to say we don't hang out for longer now and then, but of late - I've just found a shorter duration avoids any overwhelm for me. There's been a pattern of physical symptoms and mental fatigue when visiting his - so i'm just listening to my gut. With the aforementioned plan around weed - I am going to roll one and smoke it bit by bit. With these smell proof tubes/holders that I have, it's fine to spark up, have a couple of tokes and then enjoy some later in the day. This used to be my method when I was able to smoke indoors. Oh van life - another way it appeals is being able to have a space where I can smoke without worrying unnecessarily.

After I got up this morning I began tidying my room. With the recent arrival of mounting boards, mounting bags and some bulk buy frames arriving soon - I need to be sensible and careful with utilising the space that I have. I sorted out the recycling and cut up and flat packed boxes. I was careful to put it all in the recycling bin quietly, as the bin was emptied yesterday, and it was around 6am when I was doing this. Sometimes you put things into an empty bin and it makes a racket. Not what my neighbour needs, especially as their bedroom is quite close to where I was.

Need to get some new condoms. Bulk bought a pack of 50 off Amazon and it was some brand I'd never heard of before. I don't think I've developed a latex allergy, but there's something in them which causes minor irritation for a few days. Makes the skin a little red in places and quite itchy. Then it clears up of it's own accord. Thankfully I bought the condoms months before meeting Meg, as if this had been happening after we'd been having sex, then I'd probably be arranging a visit to the sexual health clinic, just to be safe. Mind you, with health anxiety - I've always been prudent in checking that area, and my body in general for any possible issues. I know in my gut that all is well.

In reality, I bought the condoms for personal use as it were (fancy masturbation), and within the 2nd day of using them I realised it was causing irritation. Problem is, when you bulk buy something, you don't want to discard them. So I left them alone for weeks, and then tried again. Sure enough - it happened again. Call me persistent but it happened a 3rd time before I decided to stop using them entirely. Fast forward a few months and me and Meg have sex, and again - I use the condoms.

So, I'll get some Durex one's again - as I've used them for 18 years without an issue. I guess that just goes to prove that bargains aren't always a sensible choice. Especially when it's something that comes into contact with a highly sensitive area. Still, so long as I don't give into the itching and wash several times a day - it clears up swiftly. I might go with Durex latex free condoms next - mind you, that choice is based on a fear that maybe this is a latex allergy. Perhaps it is? Either way, I've navigated the whole thing well. My approach was calm and sensible, and I quickly saw the pattern and culprit behind it.

Probably TMI on that front, but this is my blog, and it's concerning events in my life - so I figured why not include it. Now I just need to work out where or who I can donate these 30 or so condoms to. A Google search wasn't that helpful, and I'm not too sure of friends I know who might want them - feels a little odd to ponder who might want or need them, but I will keep pondering. I don't want to throw them away, as I know they'd be useful to someone, but perhaps anywhere official might refuse as they might consider donations a risk.

When I woke up today I knew that there'll be lots of framing to be done. A busy day ahead by all accounts. Get Jared's pieces framed and set aside. Finish up framing items listed on the website, so that any sales can be sent quickly and without hassle. Without online ads, traffic to the website is virtually non-existant. But ads are expensive and short lived. So the next approach is getting leaflets made up and delivering door to door. I want to see how that effects traffic - and getting a big batch of leaflets printed would be a similar price to an online ad campaign. As I can monitor site traffic on my website, I'll be interested to see which is more effective. Especially as I'll be selective on where these leaflets get delivered.

Asides from framing and leaflets, the printer needs setting up. I bulk bought the frames and mounting card to enable me to start printing off and framing my photographs and get them listed on my website as well. I continue to ponder suitable storage solutions. Ideally some sort of shelving like you find in a warehouse would be ideal for keeping frames and materials organised and categorised. But I'm not sure that'd be possible at my parents. So I'll have to work out a convenient way to maximise on space and storage.

Finally, there's the task of redesigning my business cards. Whilst I got a batch of my first one's printed - it was all rather rushed. I selected a couple of photos and impulse bought a few hundred cards. In hindsight, I should've taken longer to consider what would've worked best. In truth, there's a lot of websites out there which allow you to design your own business cards. I know that I want "Art by Ed Foulds" written in graffiti style. I'd done a preliminary sketch, and now that I've received my chisel tip pens, I want to rework and finalise this part of the design. I think it's bold enough to make up one side of the business card. On the reverse I considered having information about my fire staffing as well, but I'm not sure if these should be kept separate or not. There's nothing preventing me from consolidating it into one card - as art and staffing are 2 important things in my life.

I think breakfast is calling. Then get the paper for my parents, and settle into some framing. Especially now that my tidying up has cleared space on my sitting table, so I can get to work with framing. It's also been a while since I've drawn, as the focus with my art recently was getting my website and Saatchi Art site listings up. Again, I know online has it's place - but it also needs a considerable amount of investment, and that's not something I can keep throwing money at, especially as I've done so in the past - spending upwards of £1000 and I've seen no website sales. Of course I know internet businesses can and do thrive, but I also understand the importance of people talking to me, and getting to know me before a sale is made. The impersonal nature of a website, regardless of how it's setup and customised, feels like quite a hurdle for me when it comes to getting regular sales. Networking and meeting more people will help drive website traffic. Business cards with the URL - and what a URL it is. The fact that .art is a domain left me overwhelmed with happiness when I first saw it.

I have more ideas and ways in which I think I can increase website traffic, and start getting more regular sales. It's still early days yet. Approaching the 2 month mark and in that time I've made £600 from my art. All things considered, that to me feels like a strong positive. Of course I worry about money. I do it a lot, but I keep trying to rationalise things. Worrying and fretting doesn't do anyone any good. I know that stock and material investment would be a necessity, and spending money before getting regular income does unnerve me. Yet I have to take a step back when worries are getting the better of me. Can't give into defeatism or the inner critic.

My gut continues to believe the end goal - that I will make a life from my art, and a good living. You have to be tenacious. Can't give up, or give into the negative internal chatter.

I think perhaps pondering before the day has truly begun might have added to this initial sense of unease. Once I've got some more bits done, I will probably feel a little less dishevelled. I'm also reminded of what Meg said - in that periods of strong emotions are draining. Whilst I woke up a couple of times whilst sleeping, I do feel very tired this morning.

Righto, time for coffee, shop run, breakfast, and then get Jared's framing done. After that - get more empty frames done, and then see what tickles my fancy next. Once I get on a roll, I can hammer out a hell of a lot in a short space of time. Of course, hyperfocus and working fast and hard can lead to a slump. Consistently working at a manageable pace is something that has never really occurred for me. I tend to have peaks and troughs which can be rather extreme at times.

Once the business cards are done, I will be doing my drawing a few times a week whilst out and about. Make a packed lunch, cycle somewhere, draw where there is good foot traffic. Network, and connect with people. Plus, I have my card reader now, and it's tiny and convenient. So that'll be something I also bring with me, to see if I can get some ad lib sales when I meet new people etc. Failing that, they'll have my business card and details - which will mean more website traffic or FB art page followers.

The principle around all this is quite simple - I need as many people as possible to see my artwork. How I go about that is up to me, and whilst website ads did help grow the amount of followers on my FB art paghe - it didn't lead to sales. Whereas having all my sales occur during face to face conversations seems to clearly indicate to me that this is where my efforts and energies must be focused. Sure, socialising can be draining and my social battery can deplete rapidly at times - but I've been told many a time that I have a charm and charisma. So why not nurture that, and see how it can translate into new opportunities, sales and possibilities.

Outside of the art focus and meeting Guy later - I want to read some more of my books, along with continuing to keep my diet cleaner, and eating less of the unhealthy snacks that I tend to binge on through laziness and the fact the tastes and flavours are so overwhelmingly intense. Ahh that dopamine response - naughty but nice.

Meg will be off fishing with her dad today, or possibly tomorrow. It sounds like it'll be relaxing. Mind you, being near bodies of water really does help me recharge, and the amount of times we've spent parked up surrounded by meadows, trees and wilderness has really had a positive impact on how I've been feeling. Before we met I tried to go out into nature at least once a day, on a walk, staffing or bike ride. However, spending a lot more time outside has noticebly improved how I feel.

I'm going to focus less on computer stuff today once I get started on the framing etc. Much more practical for me to switch the PC off and just have my MP3 player connected to my speaker. Otherwise things become very stop/start when the PC is on and creating distractions.

I remind myself that I only need focus on the goal - and the rest will fall into place as and when it needs to. Putting out into the universe my goal, belief and dream to become a successful artist. This gut belief is real, irregardless of how the inner critic sometimes tries to talk me down from getting to where I want to be. I've got this - it's in the bag. When Jared agreed to buying 3 prints, I'd mentioned how I'd wanted to make a living as an artist for so long. He said something that brought me back to reality - he told me I already am making a success as an artist, as I'd just made a £200 sale then and there. It was nice to hear that, and it did provide a moment of mindfulness, to take a step back from the internal narrative and realise that he was right - I am making a success of this.

Right, time for coffee. Please and thank you.

Ed

EDIT - Got tidying done, recycled boxes to free up bedroom space. Unpacked the printer and I'm just about to move a bedside table next to my computer so the printer has a new home. Contacted 2 local galleries to see if they'd be interested in exhibiting my work. Thinking of popping down the village gallery with my portfolio, as I understand they have new owners, and it'd be nice to see if they have any upcoming exhibitions, or even if they'd like to just have my stuff up for sale in their shop. Just framing the prints for Jared now. But I had to continue tidying before I could complete the framing as I need floor space. So it's been a bit of a jumble in terms of getting things done, but it's all moving towards my goals for the day - so it doesn't really matter what order it gets done.

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