Tuesday, 17 April 2018

New Film Collaboration

I am always excited about my work but tomorrow I will be especially excited because Film Maker Bill Taylor-Beales is coming over to see me so that we can have a chat about collaborating in making some videos for my new Creative & Mindful Business Venture. I have been working tirelessly on the project for over a year, devising an inspirational online resource to help others and am so close to being ready to open the doors.

Bill & I have already made one very exciting piece for my website, held under wraps until the launch later this year. We have been working remotely by telephone and email which has motivated us to meet up tomorrow and talk possibilities.

Meanwhile ... why not pop over to my Bandcamp and check out my back catalogue Celebrating 40 years as a songwriter.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Inspirational Women Over Fifty: Avril Yospa

Continuing on the theme of building a platform from which to celebrate the creativity of women over fifty & thus making visible the inspirational work that we quietly chip away doing while no-one in the media is noticing, tonight's blog is about another of my amazing friends, Avril, who has just got back from performing for two months in India.

Avril Yospa is retired from a 15 year career as a midwife, which let's face it, is pretty amazing in itself ...  but having stopped birthing babies, at the age of 67, she is now focused fully on birthing songs as a musician, songwriter and performer, just like as she did in the 70's with the band Prana who played Glastonbury 6 years on the trot, touring the US and parts of Europe, In fact, Avril is known locally as 'Avril the Song' and many of her chants can be heard upon the lips of those at Marches or sat around camp fires. Her chant 'Mother Earthship' has been recorded in many different languages all over the world on youtube and soundcloud and is used for one of the dances of Universal Peace.

I first met Avril when I was the Director of Celtic Womenfest for the National Botanic Garden of Wales in partnership with Community Music Wales. I held a series of very special improvisation workshops at my place for Women in Tune, giving accomplished women musicians the opportunity to come together and perform in a woman only recording set up. The sessions were a great success and went onto be played at the Festival itself in the Great Glasshouse, used as dance music for the Contemporary dancers with Artscare Gofal Celf. You can hear one of the 15 minute tracks as background music in this rehearsal video.

When Avril came to these sessions, I had never met her before. She seemed quiet and reserved, but when we all started to play, that's when she really came into her own. So experimental and brave. I remember, she had amongst her treasures, a set of glockenspiel blocks and laid them on different surfaces to get different sounds ... I was blown away.

Photo of Avril with her Grandaughters ... 

Since, then, Avril has come to my Ukulele and Songwriting Courses at the National Botanic Garden of Wales  and then when I was Poet in residence at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse, I invited her as a guest to play with me one afternoon.

She is almost always out performing and when she is not out performing, she is at home playing with family (who seem to be following in her footsteps) and/or friends.


I make a point of looking out for whatever adventures she is going to get up to next and then I saw on her facebook page that she was away to Agonda, India with her guitar and her friend, fellow musician, Garima Ulrich.

I loved watching her posts telling us about her wonderful performances, how they secured their own floor spots and built up a local following.

How often do we read about women of our age packing up their sarong and their guitars to fly off to India for two months to play their music? Never! And what's more, they have bookings to go back and do it all again next year.

So that's why I am writing about it here. Let's inspire each other to be free, to follow our hearts, to open our creative souls and learn to listen to our most sacred calling. Just because we hardly ever read about the inspiring lives of women over 50, doesn't mean it isn't happening ... 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Movement + Music = Magic in Hong Kong

WOW, thanks everyone for the tremendous feedback to the call I made in my last blog post, supporting inspirational, creative women over fifty who are non-existent if we believe the media, and yet in reality, are changing the world.

I said (and you agreed in your droves) that we should cheer each other on and in following this theme, I simply must tell you about my friend Fiona, who never ceases to blow my socks off with her inspiring work. That's her in the picture above, wearing bright green with some of her students in Hong Kong.

Fiona Winter is the Director of her own company called Energy Moves based here in Wales. You've probably guessed that Fiona has dedicated her life to helping literally 1000's of people to connect with the magic of movement.

Her current DVD 'GRACE' is literally touring the world as it not only helps the likes of us to connect with movement, but there is also an instructors/teachers version. It is an 'elegantly crafted piece of movement medicine, designed to take you into a state of uplifting, joyous movement.' 


So, you can imagine my joy in following Fiona's journey, as she is currently sharing GRACE in HONG KONG! Yes, Hong Kong. To think we have a Welsh Woman Creative in her fifties sharing her own Movement & Music routine on the other side of the world and no-one even knows about it! So, I'm setting that straight, here.

So far, Fiona has shared 3 classes and been part of a Ceroc Evening, focusing on connection, connecting to each other, to teachers, to the rest of the world, to the joy of movement.

Here's a little video showing us where one of her classes was held!

The thing is, if we don't hear about each others stories, triumphs, adventures, then we won't know they are happening. We are history in the making and yet still, we are virtually invisible. I can name you straight off, a long list of creative women who are not on the tip of anyone's tongue and yet are doing the most extraordinary things. And this gives me faith, hope, inspiration and drive to step into my own power.

So, well done Fiona,! I celebrate you, I am creatng a platform here to cheer you on, as my creative kindred, as an inspirational woman over 50 ...  and most of all, as my dear friend.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Gallery Gadabout

Maven & Hare, LLandysul. Photo by Ed Sherlock

It can be difficult, finding somewhere to go out when you have hearing disabilities, especially with hyperacusis because everywhere seems too noisy. 

So, I was very pleased that the Universe sorted out this dilemma and sent three wonderful, relatively quiet invites into my lap for this week. I invited my dear friend, Suzanne, to join me and we had a week of Launch Surfing.

The first was to Maven & Hare in LLandysul, which strictly speaking, is a shop rather than a gallery, but for sure, going there is a quirky & creative experience. The second was the Exhibition 'this is a moment i can't say' by Patricia McParlin at King Street Gallery and the third to the re-launch of Dorothy Morris' Greenspace Gallery in Carmarthen.

We had such a lovely time, that I thought I'd tell you all about it.

In the picture above, on the far right, is Mandy & in the middle, Bronia who have combined their special kind of magic to open a shop in Llandysul called Maven & Hare. You might recognise it. It is the same shop where I did the pop  up Quiet Space Studio in Llandysul last year. 

I like to think that perhaps my energy infused the space with a love that attracted these wonderful creatives to invest in Llandysul and join the band of wayward women that make it such a special place to live. Maven & Hare are selling the weird and wonderful from bling taxidermy to re-vamped vintage furniture and have exciting ideas for the future. The Launch kicked off with caviar and sparkling wine, a twin gramophone DJ and live models in the window display, with hand made felt animal masks made by Mandy. The village turned out to welcome Mandy & Bronia, our newcomers, into the fold.

My friend Trish is a Fine Artist, or as I like to say, a mighty fine artist, so I was delighted when she invited me to the launch of her new Show at King Street Gallery, Exhibting for 3 weeks. I was really taken by her collection, especially the interplay between the narrative of her paintings and her poetry. 

It was very powerful to read her poems whilst looking into her paintings. Somehow it took me beneth the layers of paint.

I had a good look around King Street gallery, which is just exquisite. The people on the desk (who I think are fellow artist volunteers) were very kind and it was just magical to be in the space.

Patricia has also published an accompanying poetry booklet to go with her paintings. As a fellow writer, I know how much work this will have taken. 

My third trip out was to the launch of Dorothy Morris Greenspace Gallery, and again I felt really emotional about the dedication and level of commitment to the Arts my friends have, in making  their vision a reality ... it is truly inspirational how Dorothy has transformed the old framers in Carmarthen into a trail of arts treasure ... room after room filled with outstanding work, including her own as an award winning artist.

And I am left thinking this ... so often in our society we face stereotypes regarding women of a certain age. I know that as a woman of 52, I am treated very differently to even 5 years ago. We hear every day, of the exciting things that young artists are doing, how they are changing the world, up and coming. But hey, what about us? How often do we hear about women in their 50's plus? Where are our achievements in the local press or the radio? And yet here, we have the most inspirational examples of middle life women, giving absolutely everything they have to their craft, passionately creating something breath taking and a making difference - without funding I hasten to add - just because they live and breathe creativity and that, quite frankly, not only inspires me but makes me quite emotional.

Let's get behind each other, celebrate each other, attend each others' events, cheer each other on because, after all, we are absolutely blooming marvellous!

Friday, 30 March 2018

Womanhood, Breast Feeding & Loving Cyber Circles

I am quite taken aback this evening by just how wonderful we women are. 

I've heard many tell stories of how villagers in days gone by, would rally around and help out new mums or if someone in the street was in hospital, they'd help look after the children but we think of this close knit woman circle as a thing of the past. It is not.

Tonight, a young woman inboxed me on facebook. She had just come out of hospital having undergone life saving surgery but now she was home, she was too exhausted to breast feed her baby. She asked me if I knew anyone that might be able to help with breast milk or with helping out around the house until she felt a bit better.

I left a call out message on my facebook wall. 

Literally within seconds, women started to respond with offers of breast milk that they had frozen, offers to help out around the house, offers of information, support, a listening ear.

Women from all over West and South West Wales, even South Wales, all sharing the post to friends that they knew who lived near the woman. 

Within half an hour, we had created a nest, a loving cyber circle. And to my mind, that is a very beautiful thing indeed. She now has help and knows that we care.

People criticise facebook, but my feeling is this, like with anything, it is how you use it that makes the difference between it being a beautiful way of loving each other, or something entirely different.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Discourse as a Powerful Healer

The discourse of health is such a powerfully healing tool. The words we use to describe ourselves, tell our cells a story. Realising this, was a turning point for me. I began to unpick the ways in which I described my health. Just by changing the sentence, 'I am unwell' to 'I am healing' felt like such a shift in energy, almost stepping into the light.

And now, that I truly am healing, I have stepped into another shift in language.

'I can't work doing what I do anymore' has been changed to 'I will find a way to apply all my creativity & skills to design a new exciting, innovative & inspiring business that is loving to my new hearing disabilities.'

To that end, behind the scenes I am busy building a new business, tailored exactly around my needs

This has given me confidence to try new ways of recording my songs. I didn't think I would ever be back in the studio, but we're just doing an hour at a time at the moment. This is our 5th night and it seems to be going quite well ... ebb and flow. There were a lot of tears the first night and not so many last night ... so that's a good sign.

I have decided to do with my songs exactly as I have done with my poems and stories. I am letting them flow. No rules, no structure, just as I would sing them to heal myself, so I am singing them for the recording. It's causing a few technical problems (won't bore you with them) but none that can't be overcome with some new kit. 

So, between building a new website, finishing 2 new books, planning the video shoots and recording the CD, I have a real sense of drive and vision which feels great, is part of who I am and has given me the opportunity to really step into being the compassionate creative that I am.

Meanwhile, I will leave with a track from my back catalogue called Heaven Scent ... recorded as a fund raiser for a Breast Cancer Awareness. It features Heather Jones on Angel backing vocals, Kate Strudwick on flute, Linda Simmonds on Drum and mandolin, Ruth Exell on Harp and me on guitar, vocals & backing vocals, with the lovely Jeff Beer engineering ...

Friday, 23 March 2018

the humble offering

As the first week of my writer's lock in comes to a close, I am so much closer to finishing my humble offering. I can honestly say that it has been a roller coaster. 

I have been working on 'my new book' ever since I woke up deaf 18 months ago. At first, it was written as part of my own healing practice but a series of epiphanies have led me to understand that in sharing my story, I can help others.

To that end, 'my book' has grown into two books, a CD and a Video Course, all now drafted or half written. So, I made a commitment and set an intention to 'finishing' and have locked myself up for two weeks to focus fully on writing, filming and recording.

This week I have finished the draft of the new website, and finished both books, all the graphic design, the covers, everything. 

Tomorrow, I begin rehearsing for the CD. I have been experimenting with instruments that are friendly towards my hearing conditions in keys that I can tolerate and I will trust that the rest will follow. I am recording all the songs and mantra that have flowed through me during my healing practice, so that others might heal with them too.

It sounds like a lot of work, and truly , it is, but it is my calling from my soul to craft this humble offering ...

Meanwhile, I will leave you with a track from my 'apples in the rain' CD ...