Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Memorial Cycle: Say it in Sand: Waterford, Ireland




I am so humbled to share with you this beautiful memorial by Sean Corcoran of The Art Hand, who has used my handpan improvisation as the background music for this Campaign to Prevent Suicide. We have had two young men in our family who have committed suicide, so this is a cause very close to our heart. I am posting here a statement from Sean & Mags, to explain the campaign and how you can get involved ... 



Statement from Sean Corcoran

I’m so very proud of Mags O’Riordan for her determination to help others despite the tragedies in her life. Her mother Breda and herself showed great courage in facing up to so many mixed emotions while creating this sand art memorial to Donal and Nen. I’m sure that dealing with the consequences of suicide is never easy. Losing a partner, a brother, a son, a friend, leaves a vacuum that must be very difficult to fill with so many unanswered questions tangled into the anguish and grief.

Mags is the founder of the Donal O Connor Memorial Cycle, now in its 7th year. Joe Lonergan and I were approached by Natalie Garland Cooke to come up with a concept for the launch of this years event. All kinds of ideas went through my head including celebrations of hope and unity through a group sand art event. The more I thought about it though I felt it was more appropriate to allow Mags a more intimate opportunity to express her own tribute. Since she has dedicated so much of her life to helping others I felt it was the least she deserved.

I have facilitated many memorials down through the years, from small private gatherings to larger public events and collaborative artworks. The process of sand art is very therapeutic and participants often feel a real inner peace and a connection to the surroundings. The temporary nature of what is made has its own poignancy. Whatever emotions surface during the process can be dealt with in an uncluttered way. There’s the chance to wipe the slate clean as the tide washes it all away in an uplifting way.

I’m so happy that Mags and her mother were able to confront their own feelings on the day but yet they were also able to celebrate Donal and Nen’s lives in a calm and fun way. I’d like to wish Mags and the crew all the best with the cycle on September 9th and congratulate them sincerely for making such a real difference in so many peoples lives. The memorial cycle page is HERE.

Thanks to Darryl and Lauren who helped out on the day. Thanks to Donal O’Flynn for his assistance on the campaign and thanks to Cheryl Beer for the soundtrack on the video.

  To follow is a statement released by Mags O'Riordan

Suicide steals peace. It takes your peace of mind leaving you filled with relentless questions and an overwhelming burden of guilt. That's why I was very surprised to feel a real sense of calm and peace today working on my sand art tribute to my boys. Thanks to the generosity of Sean and Joe of the Art Hand I had the privilege of creating a tribute in sand to Donal and Nen to launch the 7th Donal O Connor Memorial Cycle which takes place on Sunday 9th Sept on Waterford Greenway.

My little brother Nen should be 40 today, instead he's forever 32 so it was really special to create this piece with my mam. We spent a relaxing and fun day together in great company remembering the boys and gaining new skills - it was poignant and light hearted in equal measure. The day started with a trudge down a boreen to the beautiful and secluded Bridies Beach which is reached by a small climb down stones and rocks- the laughs started there! Sean and Joe sat us down and explained how the sand art is mapped out- their scale is based on paces and their instruments are sticks and rakes - it's quite incredible to watch them work.

We were joined by Darryl, who founded Waterford Marine Search & Rescue, and his lovely girlfriend Lauren for the raking of the art. The work is more physical than you might expect, I have guns of steel after it, but it's also incredibly peaceful, all you can hear is the sea and the lapping of the waves. I felt like I was in a dream, my mind stopped whirring and I was just watching the words take shape - it was a unique experience. When the work was over I went for a paddle in the sea and let the waves come in over my feet, it felt like a release. Like letting go. Sean encouraged me to write a few words in the sand so I started writing things as they came into my head, before I knew it there were tears coming down my face and I just started writing the things I wanted to lose - pain, worry, guilt - and the things I wanted to keep - friends, family, love - I don't know how much I wrote but the waves just kept coming and washing them all away.

When we finished I went up to the Greenway with mam to watch the tide wash away our creation. It was carthartic. I felt like I had the weight on my shoulders washed away. This process has shown me how the tide will always turn, no matter what's happening no matter how good or bad, it'll change, the tide will turn. There is great power in nature, there's such a sense of peace to be had from taking a walk beside the tide and just writing words and watching them wash away. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Joe and Sean for sharing this gift with me. I would urge everyone to go do the same - it's incredibly uplifting. So why not go to your local beach and say it in sand? You'll be delighted you did.


Wherever you are & however you feel today, know that I am sending you loving light to wrap around your heart. All love, dear ones, Cheryl.


Sunday, 26 August 2018

WOMBSONG: The Embodiment of Self as Nature Intended


                                         Sound Icon, Bottom Right Corner of Video.

I am so excited to share with you my new video: a creative collaboration between myself and Embodiment Coach, Esther Arends from the Netherlands.



Esther Arends. Photo by Larry Lindahl

For those of you who regularly read my blog, you will know that I have been rebuilding my life since becoming suddenly deaf nearly 2 years ago, with tinnitus & hyperacusis. At first, I thought I would never be a musician again. This saddened me because I have composed music and written songs for my entire life. Slowly but surely, I have reconnected to ways in which I can still sing and play instruments.

My relationship with guitar started in a classroom hut, planted amongst the Wheatfields of our primary school in the 1970's, where a hippy inspired Mr Green took us down 'Streets of London' with his humming & strumming. I went home and persuaded my Mum that I needed a guitar and she saved up the child benefit allowance to scrape together enough money to get one for me. It never left my side. I have toured the world with subsequent guitars, performing in stadiums through to orphanages, wild adventures to acts of loving kindness.

Cheryl & her Guitar: Touring India

But complications with my hearing loss have made playing guitar nigh on impossible. When I change chords, the sound of the strings on the frets is so painful, that it becomes torture.

I missed my guitar and she missed me. She stopped smiling and so did I, until one day, I wondered how it would be, to find just one chord that did not trigger my sound distortion and play it gently, without changing chords at all. I sat for hours feeling the vibration of the guitar body against mine, a familiar friend back in my arms, and then it happened; out popped a melody and with it the words 'I can hear Mother Earth calling, I can hear my womb calling ... ' 

Reunited with my Strings

I ran upstairs to my studio and asked Jeff, my partner and sound engineer for 30 years, to turn on the microphone. It hadn't been used in such a long time. I knew I could only manage one live take, so however it came out, would be exactly how it was. 

Afterwards, I listened back to my one chord and humble vocal. I could hear in my heart, the beat of a drum, but I couldn't play to record it, as my  drum was too loud for my tinnitus and hyperacusis. I put a blanket over my drum skin and played with a muffled beater ... to be honest, I recorded it more with luck than judgment. Then I decided to record a second voice, this time using a voice I have 'found' in the facial cavaties ... it's very strange when I sing in this place because I can only really hear it through my hearing aids, which makes it feel somehow disconnected from me ... and so I visualise this voice travelling down through me, until it buries itself and me into the earth.

Musically, WOMBSONG is far from perfect, but there was something so honest about doing everything in one take, accepting that whatever came, simply is and being grateful for that. The feeling of being enough, however small or imperfect.

I finished the recording session and kept the song to one side. Slowly but surely, it has become part of a collection of humble offerings that I am recording when they sing out to me from my inner self.


And then, this week, I connected with my facebook friend, Esther Arends, an Embodiment Coach from the Netherlands. She had shared on her wall, a beautiful little film that she had made on her iphone. I immediately fell in love with the organic nature of her capture; randomly, her filming preserved a moment of simply being, embodying the dance as if it were as natural as a blade of grass or a clover leaf. 



As I watched Esther's film in silence, inside I could hear my WOMBSONG. I played the 2 together ... it was so gentle, so magical that it made me weep, not with sadness but with the beauty of humanity; humans being themselves, without pretence. Esther's dance and my song had come from the same place.

So, I wrote to her and told her my story, asking her if we might collaborate. She listened to my little song alongside her film and felt the same way as I had. I was delighted. Esther sent me the film and I have edited us together, as one, so that you can watch it with us.

WOMBSONG as a collaboration, is the embodiment of humans just as nature intended. Random, free and beautiful. Thank you Esther, for your beautiful light. I'm so pleased to be here on Earth at the same time as you.




Monday, 20 August 2018

10,000 Steps: The Wailing Old Mermaid



Those of you that read last night's post will be as excited as I am, to know that Sean not only loved the improvised piece we recorded for him, he edited his film footage to make a special film of it! I can't quite believe it.

... And here it is folks! My piece of improvised handpan and the voice of the wailing old mermaid, named 10,000 steps, after the Sand Art piece by my dear friend and artist collaborator, Sean Corcoran, when he was a resident Sand Artist at Spittal Festival last week. 

Sean lives on the Copper Coast in Ireland. You can see all his work at The Art Hand where he lives and works with his beautiful Artist wife, Miranda Cocoran and their two lovely children.


Sunday, 19 August 2018

10,000 steps back to self



Today, my dear friend Sean Corcoran, posted a beautiful film about his work as a Sand Artist at Spittal Festival. He mentioned, should he put music with it (which I'm not sure he should because his voice is melody enough) but I offered to improvise some handpan for him and record it in our old studio tonight. I'm not sure why I offered, perhaps it was the first of many steps back to self on this healing path.


Truth is, it's a little dusty in our studio since I became deaf. But I figured, if I watched the film and played what I felt, we could record it. Jeff, my long suffering partner of 30 years, kindly offered to sound engineer, which these days means, be my ears.

Well, we've mixed the piece and already pinged it over to Sean. I'm not sure if he'll use it, it came out a bit trippy, especially because I could sense the wail of an aging mermaid, sat watching the 10,000 steps that Sean talks of in his piece and I think she was me, calling me back home ... so I put the vocals onto the track. I've said to Sean to edit it how he sees fit. Whatever happens, what a joy to make music again, to collaborate with such a fine artist and to feel myself tentatively climb back into the saddle.

Off course, it's not the first time Sean and I have worked together in this way ... here's a piece we did a few years back ... 





A Guided Meditation for Light & Love : A Rescue Remedy




Today, I shared my first Guided Meditation on facebook live. I embrace Guided Meditation within my daily life to manage tinnitus and hyperacusis, finding that by accessing a loving and light filled place, deep within, I can dip in and out of this place to heal my spirit, even when I am not in meditation. 

I decided to share this loving rescue remedy with others through facebook live and had such a lovely response, that I thought I would also share it here, with you. I really enjoy writing Guided Mediation. For instance, my little book 'The Truth is in There' is based on a meditation to nurture the inner child.



All love to you, dear ones ... 



Monday, 13 August 2018

Sunflowers, Poetry & Humming Bees



One of my favourite things in the whole wide world, is responding to nature through poetry & pictures, especially using the immediacy of my phone camera & voice recorder to capture the moment. There is something almost magical about letting the soul speak with nature. It is so healing.

In this blog, you'll find 2 digital poems from our trip to Rhossili at The Gower. The first is a spoken word poem inspired by the heart filled sunflowers, dancing gently in the breeze.

Sit Back
by Cheryl Beer

   

The enchanting sunflower fields at Rhossili, are part of the breath taking and beautiful Gower, lovingly cared for by the National Trust.


This 2nd poem is inspired by the myriad of beautiful bees who dance and hum between the sunflowers, dizzy on pollen.

Shall be
by Cheryl Beer



Could anything be more healing than the rugged landscape, the sea, the sunflowers, the sun, bumble bees in good spirits and pockets filled with poems?

Maybe ... 




Even when my mouth is silent: A loving tribute amongst musicians





I am beside myself with loving excitement. Pedro Kaldini of the Pembrokeshire based band SENDELICA has just contacted me to let me know that they have released an AMAZING tribute to my life long career in music (sadly thwarted by my hearing loss, tinnitus and hyperacusis). 

It seems I have become an honorary member of the Sendelica family archive and oh, how my heart is moved by this astonishing piece. I mean, I would absolutely love it even if it wasn't me on it! 

And what's more, the 15 minute re-mix of a jam session I did with them is ...and I can barely breathe typing this, on PINK, YES PINK, VINYL




What a kind, loving, beautiful and ever lasting gesture of  love and respect; a respect that musicians hold for each other in their hearts. Boys, you are stars in my cosmos, my brothers.


Sunday, 12 August 2018

COMPASSIONATE INCLUSION for disabled people


Those of you with tinnitus and hyperacusis will totally understand when I say that it is almost impossible for us to go for dinner these days because of sound levels in restaurants. The music is turned up loud, so people talk louder to hear each other ... my central nervous system stands on edge like finger nails down glass.

When my partner or I ask for the music to be turned down, we have been greeted with very negative responses. It's such a small thing that could be done to be hearing disability inclusive, but it is usually responded to, under duress.

Then Jeff and I had this idea that maybe, if we went for dinner on a week night, at a quiet time,  we could have a DATE NIGHT. It was the first time in 2 years that we had been out for dinner.

We started going regularly to The Porth Hotel in Llandysul because they were so lovely. They kindly turn the music either down or completely off while we are there. This is inclusive practice.

This weekend, it was Jeff's Birthday and he decided he would like to go for Sunday Dinner  but we both knew it would be too noisy for me. So, I rang the Porth Hotel and explained.

Do you know what they did, they set up a lovely table for us in a quiet part of the hotel. How kind. It meant that Jeff and I could come out for a lovely Sunday Dinner for his Birthday.

It really made me think about inclusion. Restaurants and shops have their signs up saying they are disability friendly but do they really care about us? It doesn't feel like it. They are just ticking a box. What The Porth Hotel did for us was compassionate.

So, I got to thinking about the notion of 'Compassionate Inclusion'. Wouldn't it be amazing to collate stories about service where businesses show compassionate inclusion, enabling a person with a disability to experience a full life. To celebrate these businesses so that others wanted to follow suit.

There could be a Compassionate Inclusion Award or Certificate that we give where it is deserved. I wonder who I should write to about it Any ideas?



You can get see  the PORTH HOTEL HERE.


Parlour Press: The Collaborative Publisher at Carmarthen Book Fayre

    Councillor Kevin Madge/Vice Chair of Carmarthen County Council & Mrs Catrin Madge 

This weekend, I took my independent publishing press to Carmarthen Book Fayre. It was a fantastic experience. I met lots of people and it was a great opportunity to talk indepth about Parlour Press & my new SOUL INK collection. 

As a writer, I have developed an Award Winning Collaborative Publishing Press from the parlour of my little stone cottage in West Wales. By fostering partnership working, I visit and work with people of all ages and abilities, to help them 'write themselves well' through creative writing and publishing. 


I founded Parlour Press 17 years ago and since then, have published 52 books, written in collaboration with individuals, groups and communities, including Care Homes, Secure Units, Children in Care, Young Mums Projects, Young people who Self Harm, patients during renal dialysis, those living with dementia ...

Let me explain what I mean by 'Collaborative Publishing' and how my model of working makes positive social change for those individuals taking part and for the wider community. 

In this blog, I will speak to you about 'Postcards from Louie' and how, as a body of work, it has impacted my newest collection, SOUL INK, both of which were with me at Carmarthen Book Fayre.


I met Louise Davies in a Dementia Friendly Care Home in Llanelli when she was 92. I had been invited by Artscare Gofal Celf to run storytelling workshops for people with dementia and as we were finishing, Louise, or Louie as her friends call her, turned around in her wheel chair and asked me to 'Save her story'. 

The funding for my work had run out, but I felt it was a great privilege to work with someone in this way, to help them to remember themselves, so I agreed to carry on as a volunteer. 


The family agreed for me to submit the work for my Masters Degree in Drama, where I specialised in Applied Arts at the Atrium in Cardiff, part of the University of South Wales. I was absolutely thrilled to be awarded an Outstanding Contribution Award to Drama by the University. It was the first time that someone in this department had been given the award.

Postcards from Louie took on a life of its own. I organised an Exhibition at Greenspace Gallery in Carmarthen, performing the folk rhymes to a packed audience, including Louie's family who travelled to come and celebrate her life together. 

We organised a children's trail of Louie's memories, which led to work in Carmarthen schools and regular visits to the care home from the local children, with tea parties and sing- a- longs.



Postcards from Louie Talking Book became part of the National Talking Book Service and a welsh language version was created for the People's Collection Wales.

I was then invited to join the research team at the Wales School of Social Care & Research at Swansea University, to be part of the  'A Better Life' team, funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 

This enabled me to work with a number of other older people attending dementia care facilities, supporting them to create their own resources, such as 'The Memoirs of Strang the Strong' which became an anti-bullying book in primary education and 'Singing with Betty and Friends', which became a resource for table top dementia choirs.


For this body of work I was absolutely astounded to be awarded the GOLD Wales National Care Award in 2015.

At Parlour Press, my work is grounded in applied writing and publishing, it is an innovative approach that creates a supportive environment for an individual, group or community , so that they are empowered to 'write themselves well' by  accessing the story of self, and in so doing, inspire others to write themselves well, too.

Let's have a look at the key strands running through my work ...

EMPOWERMENT: By collaborating with a writer and publisher (ME), Louie was enabled to create her own memory resource rather than have me do something for or to her. She is the voice of her own narrative and empowered through this. 

ENABLE: By publishing Louie's memory resources, the books and CD's became  resources for other older people, enabling older people to help each other and be heard in a meaningful and valued way. Part of feeling better is in the giving, as well as the receiving of support.

CONTINUITY OF SELF
Louie was able to retain and connect to a sense of self, to celebrate her identity and in so doing, continue to contribute to society in the ways that she always had before having dementia. Her family were also able to celebrate what she could still remember and be a part of collating that journey.

DECONSTRUCTING STEREOTYPES
As a collaborative writer and publisher, I am enabling people with chronic illness, disability and disadvantage the platform to make social change, deconstructing negative stereotypes through positive action and making visible the person behind the label as an equal stakeholder in devising resources.

SOCIAL HISTORY
My work enables us to capture and preserve a social history that is alove and vibrant, able to heal us rather than stay on a shelf or otherwise, be lost, so that we can build a living picture of our national and  richly human, cultural heritage.

POLITICS OF CARE
Louie's story opened up possibilities for her to contribute to national research, findings of which have changed policy with regard to social care for older people across the country. 

Even though I have done all this work, it was not until I awoke one morning 2 years ago with hearing loss, that I truly understood how creative writing adn publishing can not just enable us to write ourselves well, but it can actually save you. For sure, it saved me.



SOUL INK
My new collection of books is my own story, using the same model that I had developed with so many others, finding ways to write myself well and sharing those with others, so that they might be inspired to do the same.

When I first became deaf 2 years ago, I did not remember my own story. That sounds strange doesn't it, but I was so consumed by loss, that I forgot that I had spent 17 years honing a way of empowering other people to write themselves well. 

Once I remembered my sense of self identity by intensively working from the place of my own story, I realised that everything I needed to heal, was within me. From this seed, a beautiful pathway unfolded. 





A year ago, when my hearing disabilities held me almost a prisoner in my own home, it would not have even been possible to think that I would be at Carmarthen Book Fair talking to Councillor Kevin Madge, Vice Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council and his partner, about my collaborative model of working at Parlour Press. I am proof of the Parlour Press pudding, that I have spent all these years perfecting. 

My next adventure is organising Parlour Press, Llandysul Book Fair at The Porth Hotel 29th September where you can come and meet the lovely authors and poets of West Wales, whilst overlooking the beautiful Teifi River ... 













Carmarthen Book Fair: FACEBOOK LIVE

Hello Friends,

I had such a great time at Carmarthen Book Fair yesterday, organised by the lovely Sarada Thompson, that  I thought I would share with you here, the FACEBOOK LIVE posts that I made during the day. Interviews with authors, the organiser and a glimpse at all the loveliness ... 

    


Lazarus Carpenter





Saturday, 4 August 2018

Shopping for Haiku



Yesterday, I took
Haiku to the shops in town
Lots of people came

What a fab idea
Shopping Centre Managers
Erect Gazebo




Now to find artists
Ask a local charity
Arts Care Gofal Celf



They telephone me
'Can you do Origami
And Haiku Workshop?'


'Yes, I'd love to. Where?'
'Down in the Shoppping Centre'
'The Shopping Centre?'

'Yes, is that OK?'
'Off course, I'd love to, thank you.
How many people?'

'Not sure, say 50'
'Oh, Righty ho, busy then.
Best get more paper'




Haiku day arrives
Extra paper just incase
You never can tell

One hundred people!!!
Queuing to take part in my
Japanese haven





Who would have thought it
Children desperate to write
A haiku poem

Even though it is
The school summer holidays
'Look at my poem'




And this genius
Idea is from Merlin's walk?
A Shopping Centre?

How good to know that
Even the private sector
See value in Art

Inspirational
Ways of attracting footfall
Pretty impressive

www.merlinswalk.com

I was so utterly taken aback by the response to my Drop in, particularly the children's enthusiasm for Haiku and how the parents took to helping them, that I am now writing a little e-book to help parents who would like to write this traditional form of Japanese poetry with their children at home. To find out more, click the links below.






It would be so lovely if you decided to LIKE my Cheryl Beer Writer page on facebook. That's where I share daily insights & exciting previews of my work as a writer. Here's a link ...




Wednesday, 1 August 2018

My first time: FB LIVE



Tonight, was my first ever FACEBOOK LIVE. It's part of my new plan to build a platform from which to share my work as a poet, writer and songstress. Having hyperacusis means that performance is pretty much out of the question, at least for now, until I can devise new ways of making it so. 

To be honest, if I look back over the last year, who would have thought that I could have come this far in terms of carving a whole new life around my hearing needs, so ...  'Never say never' (as my Nan would say)

Here's the first facebook live, this one was on my new SOUL INK writer's page and to be honest, not many people jumped in ... 




Feeling more confident with the technology (in that I actually worked out how to turn it on!) I then I went over to my main facebook page and did a second LIVE SOUL INK recording. 

Here it is (below) ... as you can see, many more people responded because my main page comes up in their feed, whereas my new Writer's Page is a Business Page, so it doesn't seem to. It's all a learning process ... which is fabulous.




I got quite emotional at times because friends that I have not seen for ages, were responding live, and in real time, it felt very magical indeed. Like a proper connection.

So, despite feeling sick with nerves before doing it, I am so pleased to have begun this facebook LIVE journey. That I can speak to you from the bed where I wrote my book 'SOUL INK for the Morning' and do readings personally for you, in a real time response, is beyond words really, it's an emotion I haven't felt for a very long time, if ever.

And when something feels this right, well, you just have to keep going with it.





                                     



SOUL INK READINGS AT MY FACEBOOK LIVE: The quest for creative, disability friendly platforms


The quest for disability friendly platforms continues and I am finding it quite exciting. My hyperacusis means that being in large crowded theatres and venues has become untenable, mostly because theatres sadly do not have the equipment I need to able to access performance. So, unperturbed, I am currently exploring ways that I can work from the quiet of home and yet still creatively connect with people who might be interested in my work.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, I have spent some time re-vamping my youtube and now today, I am going to try and get to grips with FACEBOOK LIVE!! I am a tad nervous but in a good way.

The first thing I have done is opened a Cheryl Beer SOUL INK page dedicated just to my writing. This is an enormous step for me. Deep down, I have this feeling that my little humble offerings are not really going to be of any worth, so I tend to push them to one side and make myself too busy, by helping everyone else. But then this week, I went for an Angel Card Reading with the lovely Mandy Hawkins and what came up was that I need to 'turn up the volume and allow myself to shine'. Well, I started crying when she said it. The very thought of focusing on my own work quite frankly, makes me almost giddy. But, I'm not one to argue with angels and whether you believe in angel card readings or not, Mandy's loving encouragement and ability to switch on my sparkle, was really beautiful.

Anyway, I digress, so, I opened the writers page and over 200 people joined within 24 hours ... which was just MIND BLOWING and gave me affirmation that I am walking the right pathway.

So, tonight at 6.30pm I am going to see if I can get facebook live to work. I have no idea what I'm doing but I am guessing we can all learn together.

The idea is that I will be able to give interactive readings from my new SOUL INK book, sharing with folks that leave messages in my feed whilst filming. What a lovely way to connect with folk.

If you'd like SOUL INK reading, just pop on over and LIKE MY PAGE.


If you're intrigued and would like to find out more about me, why not click the link and pop to my website ... 


                                                                     
Published by Parlour Press