Instagram, Family, and Special Interest Paintings

I have been staying up WAY too late these nights. Mostly because of my darling son, but also because of my new social media love- instagram. Oh man, is it addicting! But honestly, one of the biggest things that I am really grateful for when it comes to instagram, has very little to do with pretty pictures. Ok, well actually it has a little something to do with it and I will get back to that.

Mostly, I am grateful that it has allowed me to reconnect with my aunt.

This is my Aunt Mary Anne…

Mary Anne or Mae West?

She did this Mae West Tribute show for a long time, and then did some vintage music shows for assisted living facilities where they would appreciate it the most. Which means that she was caring about these older people before they were in danger. Which to me, shows that she was ahead of an all different curve, you know basic humanity and compassion.

She is my father’s sister and the very same aunt I told you about at the beginning of quarantine when I was worried about who I was gonna lose to this sickness. In that post, I also told you about the grandmother that I did lose, shortly after I wrote that, actually. Which meant that when I saw my aunt posting her work outs on instagram it was like I had to see her. I didn’t want to miss my chance with her, like I did with my grandmother. In fact, there is this strange connection that whenever I see her picture, I think “grandma.” Not because she is old enough to be my grandmother, no. It’s just this impetus. It’s like the word “grandma” has become “don’t wait.” Don’t lose her too.

Now, I am not saying my Aunt is going anywhere. She’s incredibly healthy. She does these stair climbing marathons and is doing a virtual one to raise money for Leukemia, her team is called Stair Down Cancer. (Love a good pun.) I just really don’t want to waste anymore time with her.

And seeing her virtually is good enough during this crisis, like I said, despite being ridiculously healthy, she is older than my father. And my uncle, the writer, has MS, and is a quadriplegic. He also has a great blog about their adventures in a handicap accessible RV from a wheelchair perspective, called Wheelie Out There. I think that pun alone shows you how great he is. (Seriously, love a good pun.) But it also shows you that I want them to be safe in this uncertain time.

Picture courtesy of his blog, Wheelie Out There.

Sidenote- When I first met my Uncle John I believe he had a cane. Then a walker. Then a motorized scooter, and now a wheelchair. The interesting thing about that, is that none of my memories of his mobility aides are bad ones. Sure, I didn’t want that for him. But his presence has never been a sad or tragic one. When it was the walker, I remember him showing me the “grassy knoll” in Dallas as we looked over the fence where a “second shooter” might have been. When it was the motorized scooter, I remember him nearly plowing into a hissing goose outside his apartment, a war whoop of glee on the air. What I am saying is, despite his difficulties, which are enough to destroy most people, he has a tremendous spirit. He also skydives. So there’s that.

We’ve made plans to get together once they swing through my little town. And I’m pretty happy about it. Honestly, I’m just hoping I won’t burst into tears when I see them. Undiagnosed autism and other mental health issues can be so isolating. The best thing about getting diagnosed (and the proper medicine) has honestly been “coming out.” It allows you to get over yourself a bit and go after what matters to you. My family will always matter most to me. So it’s like a starting pistol has gone off, and I want to go see everyone. Too bad it happened during a quarantine. Nonetheless, I’m pretty pumped.

I’m also pumped about an idea my aunt gave me over instagram. I was posting some of my old paintings which included this teacup painting I did for an antique shop.

And she suggested that I create painting of rare teacups for collectors. And while I am not sure that I want to necessarily go the teacup route, because rare teacups are usually quite intricate, and would not really be my.. ahem…cup of tea, per se, I really loved the idea of painting a piece that a person might collect. Because you will often find that autistic people are collectors. This also made me think of the other unique special interests that people on the spectrum have. I think sometime in the future I would like to do a series based on such an idea, highlighting those special interests and elevating them into art.

Do you have a special interest that you would like a painting of?

But maybe, more than that, do you want to see your family more? It’s hard living with mental health issues, like I said before. And hopefully, once all this is done, and it’s safe to be with each other once again, maybe it doesn’t have to be so isolating.

Maybe it’s not too late.


The painting is by Salvador Dali. It’s inspired by Mae West, the real life actress my Aunt has made a career out of impersonating.

I weigh…

As you know, I’ve recently started exploring the wonderful world of Instagram. Yes, I’m in love. Not just with the platform, but with several new faces and hashtags that I am following. #effyourbeautystandards is both delicious and nutritious for my mental health. That’s where I found the downright glorious Tess Holiday. (It’s also where I have had to practice my “no flame wars” rule, because damn, people are mean.)

But it’s also where my love of one Jameela Jamil has been forever cemented in my heart.

I did not find Jameela on Instagram, though. No, I first really heard of her, Jameela Jamil, the person, not just a character on “The Good Place”, because people were being so damn shitty to her. Oh, and that hasn’t stopped by the way, just look at what her boyfriend James Blake had to say recently…

Good man, James. Good man.

No, the first time I heard her name it was because the LGBT+ community was outraged that she had been cast on the HBO ballroom show “Legendary.” For those not in the know, ballroom does not refer to the dancing you are picturing right now. This is not dancing with the stars. It’s referring to the ballroom culture started in the 1980’s (check out the documentary Paris is Burning, then you’ll know.) Now this is not my scene so I am not going to say that she was the right person for the job, that’s not what drew me into this particular media splash.

No I came in, when a lot of people basically decided to “cancel” her as a judge on this show because she is not LGBT+… BUT SHE IS… She’s queer. And after being forced to correct a lot of misplaced anger, she decided to come out as queer, even though she shouldn’t have had to do it at such a time. Did this appease the community? NO, they turned on her more. A large portion of them pointing to the fact that she was dating a man, again erasing bisexuals from the “authentically” LGBT+ community.

As a queer woman, madly in love with her cisgender husband, you can bet that this put Jameela on my radar. I decided then and there that I would go to war for this south asian queer goddess, any day. (That’s how you know I love something, my loyalty is unparalleled.)

So to find her I_weigh movement on Instagram, well, my pledge for war in her honor went from a skirmish to a full-body measure of devotion.

The I_weigh movement is about “body neutrality.” Trying to turn the focus from bodies and looks to interior beauty. I know, I know. She’s not the first to do this. But I think that she might be the first to have the tenacity, and the platform, to really take it somewhere.

She has a new podcast by the same name coming out on April 3rd and you better believe that I will be listening.

Just like Jameela, I had some health problems that made me gain A LOT of weight. (I also fell in love with a man who introduced me to the idea of takeout. So it wasn’t all side effects.) Then like most women I had a tough time with yo-yo dieting. I lost weight when I worked for Jenny Craig but then gained it back when I left to start writing full time. I lost weight when I started protein and LCHF diets, but then gained it back after emotional meltdowns dropped my manic ass right off the wagon. Around the same time I had a baby, and well, hormones + wrong medication + medical emergencies + carbs = big FAT mental breakdown. (You can read more about it in my post about my chronic illnesses.) I’m losing steadily again now that I have finally found the right medication, but it’s a journey for sure.

So in the spirit of I_weigh, I want to share some images of myself that I would normally not want the world to see. These particular images were taken when my body was at it’s most endomorphic, or you know… fat. (I’ve lost some weight but I’m actually not that far off from these pics, either. So these are not “before” pictures.) Like you will see on the I_weigh Instagram page, I’ve superimposed some of my more important attributes.

Well, I’ll let them speak for themselves.

Like I said, they speak for themselves.