Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Successful Failure (or How To Be An Oxymoron)

So April begins.  I think a fair indication of how tumultuously busy recent times have been here is the fact that my partner-in-crime and I have only this weekend been able to take our tiny Valentine’s Day break,…and so I am going to continue my challenge into April.  The Easter holiday will give me a head start – or at least allow me to catch up with myself.

March has been an interesting month though, as well as a busy one.  I didn’t get the job I went for, I was just having a quick power-nap between work and folk clubbing (I’ll get on to that) when they called me – a rude awakening indeed.  However, bizarrely enough, although I was obviously disappointed that my overall genius didn’t make up for the experience I lacked, I found the whole interview process to be a positive one.  At no point did I think I can’t do this because I have B.A.D and being rejected had nothing to do with my having B.A.D.  It’s been the-thing-holding-me-back for so long that it was sort of refreshing to be held back by a different thing, and to be able to look at that particular thing and know that doing x + y would be a solution.

But on reflection I don’t think I want to do x or y.  Not right now.  I am, as they say, considering my options…

Anyway, in spite of March being far less artsy and creative than I’d hoped, I did manage to go retro (or even vintage *gulp*) for a folksy night out in celebration of my grandad’s 80th birthday – I sang and played the guitar badly at least once…in fact it ended up being a funny little family ensemble with my dad playing the guitar and my daughter singing too.  The old crooner himself also got a song in.  Before you start thinking we’re some kind of weird intergenerational version of The Corrs, this is not a thing we ever do as a family.  Never.  So it was new.  We might even do it again.  Once I’ve learned to play F.  Man I hate F.

So stay with me, I haven’t put my guitar away yet.  Nor my crayons.  In fact I’m covering an Art class on Wednesday.  Crumbs.

Welcome to April.

Peace x

“I Aten’t Dead” – Granny Weatherwax (legendary creation of the legendary Terry Pratchett)

i aten't dead

So…I haven’t disappeared, it’s just that this challenge has taken some interesting turns.  I haven’t morphed into Picasso or Banksy, nor have I stormed into the download charts with another reworking of Hallelujah.  More’s the pity.  However, all the thinking about creativity brought me to a few conclusions about where I am at (deep philosophical times, man) and where I am heading (even deeper philosophical times) and so I applied for a new job which was scary, and went for a new-job interview which was scarier.  And I survived.  That’s all I know about the outcome, the whole thing’s a blur and I couldn’t tell you whether or not I might get a job offer…but whatever happens I am a tiny bit proud of myself for not bottling out.

What’s also been pretty wonderful is how helpful and supportive people have been- the people that know me know that I haven’t been at my most confident and sparkly recently and have encouraged my efforts to get my mojo back in all sorts of ways. The resident yoof even brought me coffee this morning – this is one of my favourite ways of being encouraged and supported.

Anyway none of this strictly covers my artsy plans for this month so I am making up for lost time by heading to a folk club tomorrow night for a bit of a sing-around and come  Friday I might even have some time to make progress at the drawing board.  One step at a time though eh.

Peace x

Has anyone seen my mojo? *mopes*

It's brilliant! Isn't it? Hmm.  No, it's terrible.  Or is it?

It’s brilliant! Isn’t it? Hmm. No, it’s terrible. Or is it?

I’ve been holding off writing anything for a few days.  Life got in the way of art last week so I’ve nothing to offer…yet.    To be honest I’m not at my best, not depressed as such, just a bit downhearted and sort-of- twitchy n’ anxious.  Yes, pity me.

On a positive note, the fact that I haven’t been able to spend any time doing some of the good stuff has given me the final nudge I need to make some changes, or at least begin the process of making some changes.

Being creative isn’t just about ‘creating’ – there’s a contradiction, but stay with me – it’s to do with how we think, how we see and approach things.  I used to put an awful lot of creative thought into my job, it’s the thing I loved best about it; finding new ways to do things, to make a-not-so-exciting thing interesting or fun… I felt that being able to do that maybe went some way to making up for the things I’m not so good at.   Like doing exactly as I’m told all the time.  *hangs head in shame*

It’s not that I don’t still put creative effort in to what I do, it’s more that the value of creativity  has diminished and it makes me feel, well, sad.  Trying to adapt has left me in a bit of a no-man’s land and I have all but lost my mojo.  Whatever a mojo is.

This is not necessarily news to me, I’ve just been hand-wringing about what to do for the best.

What- to- do- for- the- best is likely to be a thing involving a bit of courage.  Erk.   Having spent a good deal of my life tidying up the mess of impulse-driven choices, I don’t always trust my own judgement.  I have trouble with big decisions (and little ones…Carrot cake or chocolate cake?  Coffee or tea? Argh!  I don’t know! Why is the universe  making me decide such a thing – what if I choose wrong?!).  Now is probably the time to stop procrastinating.  *Wibble*  Perhaps I shall express my  anxieties about the whole thing through the medium of interpretive dance as my creative effort this week.

Just kidding.

Peace x

Week one’s efforts: Nobody said it would be pretty.

What is with the hideous freeze-frame?  *shudder*

IMAG0449

Well, I’ve had to do a number of things I wouldn’t ever have dreamed of doing just to upload this little clip-let.  These things include: playing a rather beautiful guitar which doesn’t belong to me but to an actual guitarist (who is probably weeping right now at the crimes against strings I have committed on it) allowing my daughter to record me doing the above and then uploading the evidence to youtube just so I could leave it here.  Oh and creating a youtube channel for that purpose.  Pfft. Never say I don’t make the effort.

Anyway, I’ll be drawing something this week, I think that would be better for everyone.

In terms of being life-enhancing as an activity though, I’d say the whole song-writer-y thing’s done me some good.  It’s been tricksy attempting to write to a deadline, which accounts for the shortness/lateness of this little piece, but it’s been a long time since I wrote lyrics and it’s been nice to go all retro (if not vintage – gulp) and pick it up again.

Plus the Rock of Ages thing has its’ origins in the fact that it’s the hymn my grandfather, Frank, used to sing to me (an odd choice for a non-religious chap, and not a particularly peaceful lullaby…perhaps he just liked the tune).  Anyway, that little part of this lyric emerged from that family gem a long while ago, but it came back to me after my grandfather died last year.  Now he’d probably wince at the terrible things happening with the strings, but I’m sure he’d like a little bit of song dedicated to him.  And I think he’d approve of all the tiny acts of bravery that accompanied its’ appearance here.  Although I think jumping out of a plane might have impressed him more.  *Hey, it’s on my list.

To conclude.  Art is good for the soul so far, but before I attempt any further musical shares I’ll learn 1) how to record sound properly 2) how to strum a guitar and make the right chord shapes 3) how to use youtube properly and 4) how to get a decent angle on the camera to best convey my natural beauty and radiance. But first sleep.

Here’s to Frank x

*It’s not.

Why I have been swearing at my hand (and my TV) this week.

No idea where this week went.  I’m still working on a song, don’t fret (hah) I’ve progressed from lyric writing to finally getting my guitar out.  The moment I sat down with it I remembered how very dreadful I am at making guitar sounds. Or, if you look at it another way, how amazing I am at making dreadful guitar sounds.  Either way I’m not being faux-modest here, I’ve got horribly bendy fingers so struggle to hold down the strings properly, then, when I sort that out by swearing at my hand a lot, my left arm starts to seize up.  Oh and I can only play one rhythm.

I swear this is the hardest challenge so far.

Anyway, if I can keep the song short I might just get through all the chords & lyrics in one go before my fingers begin to face backwards and my elbow snaps.  I will be recording  a snippet as proof of my labours and to provide you with some delightful entertainment (and by the way it’s not meant to be funny.  If you laugh a fairy will die. Of death.)

It’s fair to say that at this juncture I’m not certain that this challenge is proving to be good for my mental health.  On the other hand it kept me occupied enough to stop me ranting over  Channel 4 documentary ‘Being Bipolar’ for too long on Wednesday night.  I started to review it here, but never made it past a draft because in the midst of letting off steam I had an idea for a rhyme.  Fickle eh. Luckily for you I’m not going to revive that nearly-post now because I’ve got chords to practice, instead I shall point you in the direction of The Huffington Post’s Shadi-Sade Sarreshtehdarzadeh  and blogger Tom Copping who have both written detailed reviews nailing a lot of the things I didn’t like about the programme.  Phew.  Glad it wasn’t just me.

Happy Friday x

Challenge 3: Start Small *sigh*

Instead of showing you drafts and describing in detail what I have done, I will save about 5000 words and just sum up the general song-writing process so far…  Take a piece of paper (this is old-school stuff) write about four words, cross them out, write them again and cross them out again.   Breathe.  Hum a bit of the melody.  Frown. Turn over the page and write the words in a different order.  Frown.  Tap your pen on the paper a few times.  Shake your head and screw up your piece of paper before carefully throwing it on the floor.  Repeat the above until you’re essentially living in a recycling skip – if anyone drops a cigarette in my room it’s going to get very warm here very fast.

So this is how I have begun my March = Arts thing. I’m beginning to think I should have started off with a colouring book instead.  The Huffington Post ran an article last year about colouring-in-for-stress-relief, wish I’d read it before I embarked on this challenge.

Anyway, I’ve finished my homework and now I’m off to have another go at putting some words together.   If I present you with a sketch at the end of the week you’ll know this particular endeavour didn’t go well.

The trouble with rhyme and…sorry, what was I saying?

I’ve already been losing all reason trying to work a little lyrical riff I’ve had in my mind for ages into a whole actual song.  It was quite a relief to get involved in some work to distract myself 🙂  And then I was distracted from my distraction by an advert for a programme on Channel 4 on Wednesday called Being Bipolar…will it be any good?  I’ll have to watch it and see.

And now back to work.  Or whatever it was I was doing.

Best and Worst: February Challenge (and getting a march on March with the arts)

Art for art's sake

Art for art’s sake

I’m not really at my best today,  tiredness makes my brain wobbly and my inner miserablist more outer –  I can’t vouch therefore for the quality of this post 🙂  but I can assure you that it will contain information appropriate to the heading…

The Best of Feb

1) Yoga is good.  The have-you-tried-yoga people were completely right.  I’d like  to do a class regularly.

2) The more I have done the more I’ve wanted to do – when stuff like work hasn’t interfered with my grand plans.  Tsk.  Being motivated to exercise has led to my being more motivated in general.

3) Following on from the above, I’ve found that the more I do the more I can do.  And that applies not just to exercise.  Over the last few weeks I have been much more prepared to push myself a bit.  Which is probably a natural coming-out-of-a-depression progression, but the exercise thing has probably sped up the process.

4) I’ve felt a sense of achievement when I’ve thrown myself about a bit.  That can’t hurt.  Although stomach crunches do; this is a universal truth.  It’s made me a bit more chipper thanks to all those whizzy brain chemicals too – well it has when lack of sleep hasn’t turned me into a jelly.

5) Sorting out when to squeeze in a gym visit has made me think ahead more and possibly be a bit more organised.  Possibly. A bit.

And the worst…

1) Ok, this isn’t strictly a worst-about-exercise but more about me; I could have tried a bit harder and I’ve planned to do a few things that I haven’t quite managed.  Hopefully I’ll get around to those when I feel a bit more lively.

2) Squats hurt.  My thigh muscles went on strike in disgust.

3)  When a physio has told you not to lift weights above your head and you do it anyway there will be pain and you will feel stupid.

4) See 2.

5) In spite of upping my exercise levels by, ooh, 100% I am not yet all buff and beautiful.  It is possible that I will have to tackle my sweet tooth for aesthetic   purposes. Damn.

Overall this challenge has done me good and I’ve enjoyed it – even when it’s felt like a bit of a slog.  It’s not February’s fault that I’m experiencing a sleep glitch. Anyway I’m going to try for two decent sessions of exercise a week for the forseeable and maybe sign up for a (really tiny) charity run of some kind over the summer to help keep me on track.

As for March…well, a few things have inspired my next challenge…

The programme I listened to about The Dragon Cafe reminded me that art therapy is considered to be beneficial for those of us with mental health issues, although there’s not a lot of official research into effects and outcomes.  There are a few perspectives on it here and here and here.

So I’m going to give some artsy stuff a go, although I’m probably not going to see an actual therapist I reckon getting all creative on my own is close enough for now. Since I started this blog I’ve begun doodling a bit as you may have noticed, but it’s been a while since I really sat down to draw. I’m going to go old-school and get my pens and pencils out (and even my guitar) and try to create something new each week.  I know some amazing artists and musicians so this is quite daunting.  Which is a good reason to do it.  It’s got to be about having a go at things just because I enjoy doing them.  Hopefully I’ll learn some new stuff too.

I must say in advance though that this might be hard on the eyes and ears (singing is good for the soul… but sometimes that only applies to soul of the singer) so remember it’s art for art’s sake…*winces* and I’ll try not to share anything too tragic.

Peace x