Alternate Indoor Activities – Drawing

20160703_170857Something I admit to having done fairly rarely recently but admit there are a lot of benefits to. Drawing is an artistic hobby that is fairly popular with many lovers of arts and craft related hobbies. There are many reasons why people like to draw and many positives to drawing also.

To communicate with the outside world in an art form Lot of people use drawings and paintings to communicate their thoughts and abstract ideas through these art forms.

To express your feelings and let them out We all experience a lot of feelings from euphoria to depression and many varying emotions in between. Many choose to draw to express both feelings of happiness and feelings of sadness as a way of bringing those events to life. With feelings of sadness this can bring about a release of these feelings.

Meditation and searching for peace and serenity for many drawing is a way of connecting with an inner sense of peace “after a long days work and tending to the kids”. It’s a way of entering a relaxed state where many or all life worries are put on hold for a short period while drawing.

A means to have fun while being practical If your like me and you only watch television in the winter or bad weather days you’ll still want to have things to replace it with. Drawing is another means to enjoy yourself while getting those practical juices flowing. You might even be able to draw with the TV or Radio on in the background if that helps you reach that place of relaxation ready to get into the mood to draw. This is a hobby that can be enjoyed by both children and adults alike and is one of the few avenues where an adult can tap into their sense of imagination!

Improved self-esteem From the most advanced works to the most basic works, there is a self-esteem element involved in the drawing hobby. A child will naturally feel better about themselves having created a drawing of a flower and a greater sense of self esteem can be gained no matter the skill level or theme of drawing. Colouring books exist and are excellent for those with no desire to start from scratch or have motor function problems. These books have multiple pictures to colour and many include the ability to remove the completed picture from the book for display around the house.

Greater clarity of mind As well as relaxing the mind it can be a good way to think of ways to resolve issues in life should this be what you wish to use it for. Drawing will often de-stress you allowing for the ability to think clearly about a life problem. Drawing may help some people feel as though they are getting their issues out of thier head and into the world (via the paper) and this can be a release of the stronger emotions allowing for greater scope of how to deal with the issues one might be facing.

Well its time to get out the drawing books

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

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Maximise your enjoyment of Art

20160703_160349I absolutely can’t get enough of art. It’s a real cultural gem that is capable of expanding your cultural horizons.

There are a number of ways you can aim to enhance your enjoyment of Art whether you’re a self-confessed Art lover or someone who is doing their first museum or art festival visit.

Read the guide or listen to the audio guide if possible. Most well established museums and galleries have these and they can be worth it to help you understand the context and background story to a piece. If you don’t fancy paying the extra then there are usually explanations that go with many of the major works and sets of works.

Listen to the human guides from time to time These bring a differing perspective as they often include their perspectives about the pieces and this can expand the overall perspectives surrounding the works. If you don’t have the desire to stick with the guide guy/gal then be sure to keep an eye on where they are so you know when they get to the work you have a burning desire to know more about.

Form your own sense of what a piece means to you While the perspective of a human guide might help to open your horizons a key facet to enjoying art is to “connect with it” on your own terms. Simply put this means to try to forget about other things and just “be with the piece” mentally and see “how you personally relate to it” and what it “conjures up for you”.

Exploration of abstract art may be beneficial to some. While these works have been heavily criticised by some they could serve as a way of practising “just being” with the art and getting a feeling for what this piece means and represents to you.

Find a style that resonates with you Once you have seen a fair few museums, galleries and fairs there will no doubt be areas of the art world you truly love and those you don’t. There are many artist’s, styles, techniques, periods, regions and some will truly be your thing while others won’t pique your interest in the slightest. I for example have little interest for art depicting war as I’m anti-war for example but am besotted with paintings and depictions of mediterranean european architecture.

Find art in everyday life Sure, Organised art galleries and festivals are great but don’t limit yourself to these or you’ll be missing out! There is art to be found in  vintage motorcycles to multicolored cars parked in equally unusual places. There is even art form to be found in such things as adult colouring books. The possibilities are endless with a bit of imagination and the right eye.

Do some research beforehand, if possible. I’m sure many see this as boring and I can understand why, However it helps if you know what’s there so you have a basic idea of what you are likely to see. I believe this could make your experience more enjoyable than turning up knowing nothing and hoping to figure it all out on the day. Having a small amount of knowledge pre visit will help with knowing which special or once off exhibits are in the gallery.

If doing an all day visit stop for coffee and a bite to eat Most of the bigger and established galleries have cafeterias where you can stop for a croissant and a coffee. This will help you not only slow down but also stop and talk about the pieces you liked and related to if with a companion. Art is something to be enjoyed and not rushed.

Gain an appreciation for techniques used in production Many art forms from Pabeo to Murano Glass have varying methods used to produce that type of art form. Some galleries have videos and boards detailing the production methods and even the smaller ones may have someone familiar with the production techniques that you can speak to in person. I was lucky to once find the artist who created a piece I was fond of and she told me about the techniques for that work and pieces like it. Background information like that is nice to know.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

How the American Dream is detremental to the West

The American Dream is the idea that if you work hard enough you can attain almost anything you like career wise and have a high salary with all the trappings of success (usually openly visible). This may have been attainable back in the past with relative east in comparison to today but I would suggest it’s harder for most people to attain in the modern-day and individual people and society at times can lose out because of the effects of the “American Dream”. I believe this can affect most Western countries and not only the U.S.A

Higher education costs To achieve anything close to the “American Dream” one needs education. However this isn’t cheap and costs are rising. Many are still paying off student debts 10-20 years after their adult education is finished and for some even more. What’s even more troubling is that the jobs market  isn’t what it used to be in many western nations and graduates are finding themselves in entry-level positions that don’t pay near enough to pay off student debts while paying living expenses.

Increased working hours and a host of other struggles relating to working included increased stress and over competitiveness that can be seen as un-natural to some. The “ideal” of the “American Dream” only serves to increase these issues.

Debt and living beyond ones means is becoming increasingly commonplace. A high amount of American households have considerable consumer debt according to surveys.

Social position plays a role in who gets what opportunities. While the idea of a meritocracy is great in theory some people have a higher social standpoint and have “more doors opened” for them to progress. A very basic example would be someone with a lot of social savvy would be “noticed by the working world” far quicker then someone with aspbergers.

Productivity Culture is destroying other forms of culture by making things about productivity and not the ability to “take time” to enjoy things as they are to be properly enjoyed. The productivity culture is slipping into the fabric of our non work lives and some may be losing the ability to just enjoy things without rushing or endlessly worrying about how efficient something was done.

Promotion of materialism has some detriment to society as the main function of the “American Dream” is to have ones wealth and success on show by the multiple items people buy in order to show the world they have made it, or pretend they have made it if this in’t true. The saying “fake it till you make it” is true here. This creates a space issue in many households and some of the stuff bought doesn’t see usage (or much of it).

Growth is expanding and sometimes at record pace. Due to both materialism and productivity culture growth is happening at an alarming rate. This is problematic in an environmental sense as some natural land has to be given up to build all the extra shops and services to accommodate the needs and desires of more people and greater needs and desires. This growth may have some part to play in Gentrification

To conclude I’m not completely against productivity, success and materialism but think that they will not be able to carry on in an extreme form for much longer. I think the “American Dream” or what could be called consumerist dream is on its last legs if not already dead.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

Alternative indoor activities – Dancing

If you prefer the active life and like to be “actively doing” even when you are intending to have lots of fun then Dancing and Dance routines coud be something to consider if too much television is not your gig.

Discover new music Well since you know Single Ladies by Beyonce off by heart then why not see what else is out there. Theres bound to be a whole ton of stuff just asking to be discovered and now you’ve got an excuse to see what’s out there.

Have a way of embracing international music If you are a language learner or someone who is keeping their linguistic skills up to date then its a no fuss way of embracing music from other shores and keeping up to date with “what’s just hit the Argentine chart at number 1”.

Depending on your preference this can be coupled with singing.

Doesn’t require other people for you to enjoy it Sure it’s often nice to share your activities with others but this is one of those activities that can be enjoyed solo if you are rained out and truly can’t get to your mates house at all. It can also be enjoyed in the company of others for example Zumba etc.

Zumba Is usually a group activity where a mild exercise/dance routine is shared among the participants while some high tempo music is being played in the background. It’s popular among many age groups and provides relatively easily accessible means of sharing both exercise and dance in the company of others.

Exercise routines Some are looking for a more full on exercise regimen, usually with the aid of an experienced physical trainer. These regimens can and usually are enjoyed in the presence of music to get and keep the participants in the mood.

Cultured Music and Dances Love Salsa, Flamenco and other cultured dancing styles that are a hit in the ballroom? Many clubs and classes that teach these styles are out there and they can be a great way to meet new people and “feel” another culture by practising it.

Help with sense of self Even if done in your own privacy dancing can be a nice carefree way to embrace yourself and feel at one with yourself.  It’s a way of expressing yourself in a westernised culture that appears to care only about productivity. The ability to do something for the sheer fact it helps you to feel whole and enlivened. We can show our spirit and our heart through dance. This can build confidence in other areas.

Release of good vibes If you do any form of dancing for even half an hour the chemicals it will release into your bloodstream will help to raise your mood and spirits and can also wake you up if you are feeling a little tired to a more enlivened state.

Keep Dancing!

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

Understanding Aspbergers syndrome

As someone with the condition I thought I’d use my website as a platform to not only raise awareness of the condition but also aid those who seek to know more about it. As people with Aspbergers are not a monolith there will be some things that wont be applicable to your best friend, partner or even yourself! I’ll speak about how I relate to the ones applicable to me where possible.

The condition is best understood as a social disability although it can have some other potential symptoms that are unrelated to socializing. As part of the Autistic spectrum it’s seen as a condition in the Autistic Spectrum family and has been also called High Functioning Autism.

Need for Structure and Routine I can relate to those that need a structure to their day. It’s our way of knowing where we are at.

Differing manner of speech Some of us are known to over think and therefore not say an awful lot. This causes us issues from the perspective that some people see these sufferers as quiet when they perhaps are thinking of the best way to say something.

Most of us can have professor like vocabularies and this is usually true when speaking about our “areas of deep interest” or anything closely related.

Many of us speak in a manner that’s borderline formal although this can and does change in the right company.

May struggle to read facial expression or body language Because our brain chemistry is wired differently we can have trouble reading body language or misread it.

Perfection Many of us are either perfectionists or semi perfectionists. While this can be a great skill and aptitude to have it can mean we can be harsh on ourselves.

Stimming This is rarely heard of outside of the Aspie/Autistic sphere. Put simply stimming is our way of calming ourselves and neutralising any negative feelings that we may have. There are a wide range of stims that people use to self sooth when the need arises.

Phone Phobia I was pleased to read I wasn’t and am not the only one with this. This is in effect a mild apprehension of calling someone you are not yet acquainted with.

Have difficulty with falseness in general In most cases we have tremendous difficulty in pretending something is anything other than the way it is. I always struggle with the question How are you?, Because there’s a social norm to say good, thanks even if that’s not entirely true at the time. I understand the concept of “fake it till you make it” but have always been beyond hopeless at pulling it off in practice. I and many other aspies are transparent in our intent.

Sensory difficulties Some of us have sensory difficulties regarding bright lights, lots of noise, loud noise or even a combination. I’ve luckily only struggled with loud noise but others have sensory issues including more than one.

Intense interests We often have interests that are not the regular interests (although we can and do have those as well) ranging from Train Spotting to Banknote Collecting and many others. We usually have very deep knowledge bases on these “specialist” interests of ours.

Can be self-absorbed Without meaning to be we can be or come across as “self-absorbed”. We can over talk about ourselves without meaning to or even being “self conscious” that this is in fact what we are doing. It’s also possible that we may fail to take pleasure in other people happiness at times although this is not intended.

May have motor skill delays One of the key non socially related ones I grew up with was a delay in motor dexterity. It certainly took me a little longer to be able to play tennis and ride a bike then my peer group at the time.

May have noticeable difficulties in the dating arena Coupled with difficulty in accurately reading facial and bodily expressions many of us have underdeveloped flirting skills and skills surrounding dating as a concept. As a lesbian I’ve always been relieved when I’ve been hit on by girls rather than having to navigate how to do that sort of thing myself.

Struggle to keep eye contact I’ve heard of this complaint quite a lot from other aspies and can relate to it myself with ease. There is a social norm among society at large that eye contact is essential when talking to someone. I find this hard to do and it can put me off what I was actually trying to say. There are techniques out there that give the illusion of looking someone in the eye while not actually doing so which fulfils this expectation fairly well.

Most of us like people In most cases we do want to connect with others. The ability to “play it cool” is often an ability lost on us. Some of us can get lonely because of this and some seek people similar to us that “get” our way of seeing things.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

Sentence Sharing method in language exchanges

As an introvert and someone with aspbergers that’s also a language learner I have the greatest level of appreciation for those who share the struggle of interpersonal communication with others for the purpose of learning (or augmenting) their linguistic ability. I recently came across this method I am choosing to dub “sentence sharing” and I on the whole rather like it.

The methodology is to find someone who is keen of learning (augmenting) their skills in a language you speak fluently/native level and for you to desire the same.

As the title goes you are literally sharing sentences you know to be correct with a translation into the other language, bonus points for sharing voice recordings to aid in pronunciation skills. All you need is a good resource book and a bit of desire to find out some phrases you’d likely use and your good to go.

As with all methodologies there will likely be pros and cons but I think the pros will outweigh the cons for most introverted types.

Pros

Varied usage of the languages Any sentence you have proficiency in both languages in can be used. This is going to give you a greater outlook then only knowing sentences like “what do you do for a living” and “what’s your favourite colour?

No requirement for real-time interaction or even a conversation. Depending on which method you use you can leave each other voice clips (in both languages) for the other person to practise when they next catch a free minute. It leaves you feeling like you don’t have to stress out over international time zones and can pick up on exchanging with a methodology that’s just a bit more relaxed.

Small talk is unlikely to be found and even if it is found its mostly going to be found in the context of “how to say it” rather than “lets discuss me and you” or the dreaded “tell me about yourself”.

Both languages get equal space If it’s done as its intended to be carried out then both your intended language and theirs get equal screen time and air time (assuming you are voice recording). Many of us have experienced those times where one language dominates the conversation using other methods and even if this swings in your favour it’s not entirely equal.

Cons

This will not be for everyone Some people are inherently social and will be looking for a more social means of conducting person to person language exchanges. This might in some ways lower the numbers of people you will be able to do this with. I’d suggest looking for people who are not overly concerned with being social or those who might be seeking higher level proficiency in your language.

Not everything will be useful to you and other bits won’t be useful straight away. I have given and received some sentences that might turn out to be useful one day but not now. However that’s not a problem as even if you only remember a few words you will be one step closer to understanding the syntax of the sentence. Any level of exposure to a language, particularly when you are practising (with the aid of a native) is a step in the right direction.

I quite like this method and think its a breath of fresh air in comparison to the mainstream way of language exchanging. I love the way you will encounter a greater vocabulary with this method and it even has a non real-time element involved as well which can be very beneficial to many.

If truth be told I didn’t find it, It found me but I’m glad it did.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

Why I’m still on the fence about Gentrification

20150711_152014Gentrification is the term for when typically wealthier people arrive in a neighbourhood and as a result the area changes for what many perceive as better. As a result the feel of the area can change. While change is to be expected as nothing in life remains static not all change is equally as desired. Now I’m 27 and have gained some degree of life experience I have experienced some degree of both sides of the argument for and against gentrification.

Pros

Your hometown will be freshened up and the number of derelict buildings of buildings in a neglected state will start to diminish.

Less undesirable behavior takes place in your town No one enjoys to hear that people are being abused in the street by a group of youths. Rubbish dumped in the street most days a week does not serve to encourage others (including visitors) to treat your town much better. Polite society typically doesn’t tolerate undesirable behavior for long.

More ability to take pride in your town I’ve heard of people who were never particularly proud of the towns they lived in, that’s until gentrification came to town. Now that the local councils are taking rubbish collecting and social problems seriously the town is visibly improving and people who would have never thought of visiting are probably thinking of passing by.

Restoration of older buildings Many towns and cities have buildings that are worse for wear. Gentrification can and usually does restore these to a respectable standard and the locals can be proud that their building is now in a presentable state.

Cons

Loss of culture or character of the town A lot of towns that have been gentrified have had their own subculture or feel to them. Nowadays while these towns look nice they often possess no sense of soul.

Community spirit While its fantastic to see some of the towns past problems disappear this can be at a tradeoff of community spirit. As nice as a new supermarket is, very little sense of community spirit will be found there.

Specific communities can lose their community I have experienced this twice in the city  of London first hand. There’s a Latin/Southern American community in North London I know of fairly well. This community has had to fight more than once to keep it. I also know of a lesbian bar I used to frequent that now is no more. There is only one left in the entire city. If you rely on specific communities like this at all then this is an obvious downside to gentrification.

Increasing rents Even if the cultural aspect manages to remain (or to some degree) many can be forced out due to rising rents and prices of goods and services. Not everyone is a high flyer in the career sense and that’s OK. Some of us a happy being working class and have no true interest or desire for the boardroom or anything remotely similar. However these people can be priced out of their own neighborhood fairly quickly.

The area loses out forever I know that the Latin/Southern American communities building was going to be bulldozed at one time. This was with the intention of building handful of designer shops and an appartement block. A lot of the areas character and charm will be lost and there would be little reason for people to want to visit that area over any other that already has designer shops. No amount of money, no matter how well-intentioned can buy community spirit or cultural identity.

Ultimately I think it can work well at times but only if the local culture and community is preserved (including any specialist or international communities). I am not so keen if there is no effort taken to retain the culture of an area.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable