She is a woman.
Kicked out of Heaven
She is a writer
Tried for treason, facing life in prison
She is an exile
Defined as other
She is Autistic
Pushing herself to be normal
Only to become invisible
Meltem Arikan is a Turkish/Welsh author and playwright. She has written 12 books and five theatre plays. Her articles have been published on various websites in different countries.
In 2011, She wrote a play called Mi Minor, and in 2013, Because of the Gezi protest, her theatre play became the target of a hate campaign, and she had to leave Turkey. She is exiled to Wales.
In Wales, she wrote two theatre plays. “Enough is Enough” and Y Brain/Kargalar tour around Wales.
After she was diagnosed with Autism at age 52, her life has been completely transformed. She became a Mindfulness and Art Counsellor, Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist and Groove dance facilitator. Her passion is helping autistic people or their family members.
Arikan’s original project was to have a different guest walk and create art with them every week. They did embroidery, wooden dolls, and a wish tree, and each wrote a notebook. Sadly, she could do that only in the first two months because of COVID-19.
She had four female guests in the first two months. They cooked together, did art together, and watched the fire together. Pen Y Garreg became home for Meltem and her guests.
After Covid’s first lockdown, she returned to Elan Valley in November, but this time, she stayed in a Longhouse. It was a totally different experience for her. She doesn’t have a car, so staying in the Long House allows her to discover by walking all the other parts of Elan Valley. She didn’t have guests to stay with her, so she was alone primarily because of the second Covid lockdown.
It was precious for her. She visited every dam and walked all around the Elan. Sometimes, she walked for six hours; sometimes, she only walked for half an hour. But every day she walked, it didn’t matter whether it was snowing, raining or storming. It was a perfect experience for her to understand nature’s language, loneliness, herself, others and the wheel of life. These walks inspired her writing and painting and discovering more about the human psyche and nature.
She always wanted to paint and draw, but she never had a chance to do that. Elan Valley gave her this opportunity. She experience drew, painted and tried different art styles. It was a wonderful experience for her. CARAD used her embroidery for their exhibition, which she and her guests did together while staying in Pen Y Garreg.
Elan Valley Creative Wales Fellowship was a turning point in her life. During this time, she did 22 Courses to understand herself better and discover how nature and art can heal people and how she could use this to help others. These courses enlightened her about psychology, human being and ideas about her future. She felt ready to accept a similar challenge, whereby she could utilise her skills and passion for the greater good, and I moved to Builth Wells. Because of COVID, she could not share her experience with local people during her fellowship period, but after she moved to Builth Wells, she has been a volunteer for CREDU and continues to do so. She wrote a book about carers with CREDU.
She and CREDU did a project called Hidden Voice with autistic people.
She wrote in one of her blogs about what Elan Valley means:
“For me, Elan Valley is not a valley, not a reservoir, not even a historical landscape.
She is a dreamland with a medicine woman’s soul when I walk on her bones.
Her body and soul caresses, cares for, and comforts me.
She is good for my welfare, and I’m grateful for her compassion.
She draws me in, and I also want to share this feeling and experience with others.
But part of me shouts, no, she doesn’t need too many people, cruel people who won’t take care of her.
I needn’t worry; she is in a special place with special guardians whose whole purpose is to look after her. I relax again.
Each time I walk her varied contours, she tells me a different story, sometimes about my fears, love, healing and others about simply letting go.
She teaches me to slow down, be aware, smell, hear and let my senses come alive.
Being in her embrace, I have learned I need very little and the essential things I already have. She teaches me understanding and not condemnation; she allows me to connect with myself. With this learning, I’m healing and becoming more creative.
I feel so strongly that I want to live around here and share her love and wisdom with others.”
This experience changed her life as if she had died and was reincarnated again. Ultimately, she understands that her true nature is not to be some ideal she must live up to. She learned it’s about finding her true nature and speaking and acting from it. Whatever her quality is, that’s her wealth and her beauty. That’s what other people respond to… She is not perfect, but She is real.