Cheryl Beer

Cheryl Beer
Award Winning Creative Director making social change through the mediums of sound, story & mantra

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 ...  

Thursday, 22 March 2018

A Lifetime of Nursing

I had a lovely email today from Kathy, a retired nurse who attended one of my Parc Howard Museum Creative Writing Workshops at the weekend. 

She sent me a poem that she had written some time back, whilst she was still nursing. I have made it into a Poetry Poster for her and asked her if I could share it with you.

In her email she talks in a very moving way about the last rites that she performed for people and how she felt so privileged in being able to do this for them. It really moved me. She spent her whole life nursing others as they became old and now she is an older person herself.

I have said that I think she should write a book of all her stories.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Storytelling in the Woods

If you want to feel your heart beat, your soul sigh, your mind let go and your body sing, go to the woods in Spring. We're so lucky here because there is a woods literally across the road from our cottage. Woods are lovely places, aren't they? Not scary like a dense forest might be. 

Our woods is bathed in light and the constant flow of the stream is the perfect backdrop for storytelling, so today, as the sun popped her head around the corner, I started filming one of my new stories.

Before leaving the woods, I sang a chant to her trees, thanking her & them for such a wonderful afternoon. 

Jay Ambe Jagadambe 
Mata Bhaavani Jay Ambe

The English translation of the Sanskrit is ...
All love and honour to you
Creative Power of the World
Mother of the World
One who gives all things existence
She who gives birth

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Nurturing the Soul : A Gentle Guide

Tonight, I made a little Vlog about my very exciting new Collection of Holistic & Creative Resources, designed to nurture the soul, particularly if you have been facing adversity. 

The Collection is based on my own healing practice from the last two years since becoming deaf and living with tinnitus and hyperacusis. 

On this final stretch, before launching later this year, I will be making little vlogs to keep you up to date with progress.

Alway love, dear ones.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Soul Blogger: My first Vlog

Having had over 126,000 visitors now to my written blog, I thought it might be a good idea to start making Soul Vlogs as a personal way of connecting with you all ... 

... and this first one is a THANKYOU to the overwhelming support that I have received from you for my '40 Years of Songwriting Celebrations'. It has been so healing to look back over so many of my life stories and adventures.

Off course, I am still filled with lyric and melody and as God is my witness, if it takes me until the end of my days, I will find a new way to express my song. 

The Letter : A Mother's Loving Suicide Note

Today's Song Share is called 'The Letter' inspired by the sad Letter written many years ago, by a friend of a friend. 

It is essentially a loving suicide note left by a mother to her daughters. On recognising that her cancer has returned, but this time is terminal, she is left feeling that she can not carry on. 

On one level, I hear her and understand how difficult a choice that must have been for her. On learning of her sad story, I laid awake at night thinking of how isolated and desperate she must have felt. It is almost unthinkable that her girls woke up to find her; heartbreaking. Is there even such a thing as a 'loving' suicide note, when leaving loved ones behind to such trauma? On the other hand, I think of all the love pouring into her words as she asks them to feel her on the beach and with the sea. Perhaps she thinks she is saving them from her pain.

I was so moved by her story that I could not put it out of my mind, so eventually, I wrote a song entitled 'The Letter' which features on my Little Fish Album. 

Just an aside to say that if you ever feel like leaving this world, remember that there are helplines you can contact. Today, things are very different. You do not need to feel alone like she did. There is a greater understanding and empathy. This link below is to This Morning's Suicide Prevention Helpline page with contact numbers of people that will listen and offer help if you can find the courage to reach out.

'Little Fish: Bare Bone Songs' was an HMV Album of the Month which is mind blowing really considering me and my partner, Jeff Beer, recorded it in our home studio under a wigwam of quilts, to blank out the sound of the traffic going past the house we lived in at the time. 

I am on vocals and guitar and my dear friend Jeff Rees is beautifully playing violin. On cello is Hugh McDowell. I met Hugh at one of Jeff & Kate Rees' infamous soirees, when we were both performing in the lounge of their home, a  renovated old school. I was so blown away by the resonance of the cello that I invited Hugh to come with Jeff to feature on the album. It was after he agreed that I found out he was in fact, the first cellist with The Electric Light Orchestra in 1972.

Neither Jeff nor Hugh rehearsed. It is a live take in the moment, captured by Jeff Beer who engineered for us. How privileged I am to have such gifted friends.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Red, red rose for Mothering Sunday

Today's Song Share is called Red, red rose and seems a fitting song for Mothering Sunday. 

During songwriting workshops for the Festival of Four, Valley Girl Theatre Project, I ran workshops with over 800 people, including two lads, Ryan & Craig in Trevethin, who sat with me outside the Community Centre and I helped them to write this song about their Mum's.

Very sadly, Ryan had cancer and passed away. I send so much love out into the Universe for Donna, his Mother  and all Mother's who feel a sense of loss today. I feel your pain.

Mother's day can be a very difficult time for some people. I was not lucky enough to be blessed with children. Instead, I made a decision to become a Universal Mother, working with children all over the world through the joy of song and music.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

100 Notes for Dylan

Today's share is a podcast that I made for Welsh Poet & Broadcaster, Mab Jones, when I was the Resident Poet at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse for the Dylan Thomas Centenary Celebrations DT100. 

What a great honour to be invited to celebrate Dylan's work in this way. It is a residency that will stay with me forever. I met folk from all over the world who came as pilgrims to 'be' in Dylan's creative space.

For a whole month, I worked with visitors to the Boathouse to create a very long piece, where every line is from a different visitor.

We made all the lines into poetry bunting which we hung on the entrance steps as folk came in, using stamps and string from the years that Dylan and his family lived in Laugharne.

If you would like to hear other tracks from my 40 year career, they are available on Bandcamp ... 

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Gayatri Mantra

The Gayatri Mantra is one of the most sacred, ancient Sanskrit mantra chanted in temples all over the world. This track is my version from Lower Normandy France, where I stayed as a Sound Therapist at an Orchard retreat.

Om Bhur bhuvah svah
tat savirur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo ya nah prachodayat

The eternal, earth, air, heaven
That glory, that resplendence of the sun
May we contemplate the brilliance of that light
May the Sun inspire our minds
Translation by Douglas Brooks

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

8 Little Letters I.L.O.V.E.Y.O.U.

Continuing with my Celebration of 40 years as a songwriter, today's sharing is called '8 Little Letters' and is taken  from my Forty Winks Album recorded with Dylan Fowler over in Abergavenny at his beautiful studio. I am on rhythm guitar and vocals, Dylan is on Lead, then we have the O'Conner Brothers on Double bass and drums ... lovely 6 minute, live take. 

I never ended up releasing this album, in hindsight, I think it was more of a therapy, but there are some cracking songs on it with some fine musicians joining me. And Jeff Beer did the lovely artwork for me.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Fanny's ill-gotten gains

Today's sharing is a musical poem that I wrote in honour of Fanny Imlay, the elder step sister of Mary Shelley.  Love forlorn Fanny committed suicide in Swansea's  Salubrious Corner, taking a room in a downbeat Inn.

The story is that she was having an affair with Percy when he was also giving the glad eye to Mary. He was married at the time. She ran to Swansea and sent him and her father a letter saying that she would kill herself if he did not come. Well, he did come, but a day late and to protect her name, hid the suicide note and covered it all up. In Swansea at the time, suicide was frowned upon greatly and often those who had taken their lives, would have their heads spiked and tarred for the seagulls, so perhaps it was genuine concern, but no doubt he was mentioned in that letter, so I have a suspicion it wasn't just her name he was protecting.

Fanny's is such a sad story and one so often overlooked. When I found out about it, it tainted my view of Shelley and listening back to the track, I can hear that in my delivery. Not long after, his wife also committed suicide, leaving him free to be with Mary. There is no story more astonishing than real life.

The artwork for the EP Easy Street was painted on a wall in Cardiff and photographed by my dear friend and exceptional artist, Lloyd Roberts.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Piggy Bag

I blame Miss Luck. 'Who is Miss Luck?' I hear you ask. Miss Luck was the Deputy Head of the Lower School at the Girls School where I spent 5 years of my life. She was our music teacher and had a bag with a pig on it. She called it her Piggy Bag. Or maybe that's what we called, can't quite remember, anyways ...  

The Piggy Bag was filled with a wondrous collection of percussion instruments from all over the world, with the kind of sounds that made a young gal like me, sit up straighter than straight.

I LOVED that Piggy bag. Trouble was, only the 'good' or the 'best' girls got to play the instruments in it and sadly, I was seldom the best at anything except maybe trying (I can hear my Nan telling me, 'That's ok, because God loves a trier').

So, when I got older, I couldn't resist buying any quirky percussion instrument that I set my eyes on and pretty soon, my whole home became my Piggy Bag.

Heavens only knows what Miss Luck would make of my new handpan! Here's a little video clip of us getting to know each other. It is such a connection to my heart. 

When I became deaf, I didn't ever think I could feel this connected to sound again ... please excuse the bad recording, squeaky floorboards and remember I am just beginning to learn handpan ... that said, it truthfully is just the most wonderful feeling to play it ... 

Still in the shape of your hands

Today's Song share is 'Brown Leather Glove' from my Album 'Just Another Judas' which was a album of the month in 1998. Oh my days, that's 20 years ago!

Brown Leather Glove was written on the day I found a pair of my Grandad's gloves after he had passed away and they were still in the shape of his hands. I buried my face in them and let the grief flow through me. He is holding me, still.

My rock, Jeff Beer, is playing lead guitar, I am on main guitar and vocals ... and a musician friend called Steve Karavasili is playing piano,  I haven't seen him for absolutely years. I wonder how he is doing.

We recorded it in our home studio when we were living in Bridgend. This album took me all over the country pretty much playing 300 gigs a year. It was the only way to get your music heard back in those days ... 

Friday, 2 March 2018

The Sacred Promise

18 months ago, I made a sacred promise to the Universe. If she would help me to heal, I would share what I had learnt with others. 

I went to the woods opposite my cottage and held a ceremony of red roses for the Earth, then taking the roses to a nearby temple.

The Universe listened.

Today, it is all starting to feel very real. I have sent the book cover designs to the printer, so as to experiment with different textured papers. The way the hand-book feels is very important to me.

I am 3/4 of the way through writing, filming and recording a Gentle Healing Guide based on how I have rebuilt my life in a loving and nurturing way. It is the most considered and authentic piece of work that I have ever produced and I plan to release it later this year. 

Vandalised Child

Today's Track is from my Snow Tracks Album which was Welsh Icons Editor's Choice Album of the Year. 

Vandalised Child was written much earlier than this album but I re-recorded it with Jeff in our home studio. I am on vocals, rhythm guitar and percussion, Jeff is playing bass and lead guitar ... and you can just about make out our dog Maisy, at one point wagging her tail against the floor.

We launched the album at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in the Great Glasshouse before setting off on a surprise  European  Ukulele Tour of 6 countries that came about from a couple of youtube clips that I shared ... Maybe I'll put something ukulele based on here tomorrow.

The album photo is of my dear friend Fiona and Patrick Winter ... not sure who took the shot, as they watched the sun set on the Winter Solstice.

You can find my favourite albums on my bandcamp page. here's a link ...