Saturday, 28 May 2011

On up the mountain (with Jakob Dylan)

Listening to this track tonight. Love the line; 'you'll get tired and you'll get weak but you won't abandon your masterpiece'.

I'm doing a lot of work on this at the moment; trying to figure out what the masterpiece is or rather what MY masterpiece is. What has it been so far? If I'm creating something amazing when exactly does it start taking shape? Masterpieces are not easy things to create (just ask Michelangelo) so I'm not sure why I'm perplexed when things are tough, painful or just plain bloody irritating (yes, indeedy and I don't just mean the bloody squirrel that keeps digging in my pot plants dagnammit)

What happens if in order to create my masterpiece there has to be a divorce, a nephew who got heartbreakingly sick for a while, a final decision to really move on, a mish mash of self help books, a varied group of friends, an irritating brother, a crazy early rising greedy labrador and a whole load of other stuff that gets randomly added and removed as the days pass by? What if I need this stuff because it's all part of the landscape, the structure, the journey?

What if I dont need it and it's only holding me back, keeping me stuck, giving me excuses. Ooh you gotta love a really great excuse. That's a whole other post though.

I reckon amazing artistic beings only keep the parts that really help to make the creation work, they let go of the other stuff no matter how attached to it they have become. Because the sum of parts has to be able to come together to create something beautiful (even if only in the eyes of the beholder). It must mean letting go of what doesnt work even if it's loved or was once longed for. If it cannot enhance the masterpiece then surely it cannot have a place less it detracts or distracts from what is being created. Who knows if Van Gogh decided that the cerise tulip in the middle of the sunflowers was never going to work and had to go (good call Vincent).

I'm coming around to thinking that in order for me create my masterpiece I need to lighten my load. I need to gather the bits that enhance me, empower me, make me kinder, stronger and wiser. Keep the people I love and release the ones I don't. Get light. Laugh. Pray. Walk uphill knowing I'm getting there, knowing it's ok. Knowing I will get tired and I will get weak but I won't surrender the masterpiece...(thanks for the lyrics Mr D Jnr).

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Low Fat Inspiration...

I'm spending a lot of time in Pinterest at the moment. It is a great way to sate my compulsion to collect pretty, sparkly and beautiful things all in the one place. It is also quick and easy. Something I need at the moment as I don't seem to have much time for much else these days.

I've realised that it is difficult to find space in my head, never mind my life, to sit and think in peace. There always seems to be someone who needs something. Jnr Jnr is quite clingy at the moment. At almost 2 he is a truly delightful child. However, he doesn't tend to play by himself like Jnr Snr used to at the same age. This means, when I'm around, its all 'Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!. 

Needless to say, it is utterly exhausting.

So when I do have some time to myself I wander around Pinterest and look at people's photos and allow myself to be...



encouraged and


Or let the beauty of the spaces and places transport me to a place of quite serenity. If just for a moment...

Please Note: I would ordinarily post photos on Birds however as I can not trace back the owner of the images on Pinterest I felt it wrong to do so and link back instead.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Rinse and Repeat

The scene of the crime...
I was washing my hair last week with a new shampoo and, as usual, I read the instructions. Now, you’d imagine that by my age I’d know how to shampoo my hair however, as with most things, I like knowing. So I read the label and it directed me to wet my hair, apply shampoo and rub into my hair and scalp. So far, so good. It then directed that I rinse and repeat.

Now, I do not know about you but I really do not have much time to be ‘rinsing and repeating’. In fact, I can not remember the last time I washed my hair twice under the same shower. Who does? Yet directions are directions and once again I felt compelled to do as I am told.

You see, I read labels obsessively. I can’t walk past a bottle that has fresh, shine or ageless written on a gloriously packaged jar or bottle. It is a compulsion. I compulsively pick up products in chemists, department stores and supermarkets and read the labels. Why? Because I am one of those women who believes everything she reads. Not everything in a literal sense, only descriptions on bottles, jars and packages of lotions and potions. For I am an advertiser’s dream.

I think it is because I want these products to deliver on their promise to make my skin glow, my hair shine and my eyes bright. I need them to do exactly what they say on the package because I just do not have the time to do everything I need to do to get the results I want to see in the mirror every day.

I do not drink 8 glasses of water a day, I do not get 8 or more hours or sleep a day and I am definitely not a “5-a-day” girl. I do not have time to exfoliate twice a week nor do I have time to apply that lovely, rich hair mask that has sat in the back of the draw since I don’t know when.

Therefore, I feel doomed in my quest for beauty. Doomed of course, until I pick up that jar that promises me radiant skin or that tube that assures me that a few dabs under each eye will wipe away 10 years if applied in a circular motion using the enclosed, special applicator stick.

I know I am not alone in my penchant for lotions and potions. I have many girlfriends who reach for this season’s ‘must-have’ beauty items# without a backward glance. In fact, my friend Anita and I spent so much time browsing in Boots we unnerved the sales assistants to the point they hovered around assuming, I’m sure we were planning to shoplift. At one point, we considered printing up business cards to hand them that read “Not shoplifting sister, just browsing – so back the hell off!” We never did, much to my disappointment.

I remember reading in a magazine once that the must-have lipstick of the moment was a matte red number from Chanel that, at the time, would have set me back around a stupid amount of money. I got as far as the beauty section of the House of Fraser in Manchester before I realised the madness I was caught up in and headed for the jewellery* section instead.

My husband despairs of the countless hair products that hang about our en-suite vanity unit and beyond. I can not take out my hair dryer without 3 or 4 bottles toppling out onto the floor yet, I can not bring myself to throw any of them away.

I almost did on Tuesday. For reasons that are as yet still unknown to me I raided our walk-in robe and proceeded to brutally purge the contents. I tidied, discarded, folded and packed. It was such a great feeling after not really being able to do anything of the sort since well before Jnr Jnr was born. The en-suite is only 2 steps from the scene of my purging yet I could not bring myself to do the same in there.

I will one day. Probably not before I’ve purchased many more hair products that pledge shiny, shimmery tresses in my quest for the ultimate head of hair.

Honestly, some days I too despair.

And I still want that lipstick.

#According to Marie Claire [March 2011] the ‘trend’ this season is ‘bold lips’. My favourite shade is the M.A.C. Cremesheen Lipstick in Hang-Up $35. In case you were interested.

* Another mania of mine I will speak of another time.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

I Heart Billy Bragg

I added a couple of Billy Bragg’s songs to my ‘Happy Tunes’ playlist on my iPod. I only really use the iPod in the kitchen as it is attached to a rather beefy set of speakers – it helps with our morning ‘Kitchen Disco’ which occurs after breakfast most mornings.

I love Billy Bragg. I have from the moment my brother and I ever so carefully lowered the needled onto Track 1, Side 1 of ‘Talking to the Taxman about Poetry’ in nineteeneightysomething. Hearing his guitar and his rough, Cockney vocals as he belted out ‘Shirley!’ was like stepping out of our suburban house right into a pub in north east London. We were in socialist heaven.

My love for Billy has endured the years. I have even met him. Twice. The first time as in a record shop called Polar Bear in Manchester. He was signing copies of ‘English, Half English’ at the time and I all but gushed. Actually, I think I did gush. I told him he, more than anyone or anything else had influenced my brother and my politics back in the 80s. He seemed he was visibly moved. He replied that it was one of the best things anyone could have said to him.
The next time we met was at Greenbelt in 2005 and I was so gobsmacked I could not actually speak. Most embarrassing.
As Billy earnestly sang ‘I’m celebrating my love for you with a pint of beer and a new tattoo’ I said to Joe that he would have to love Billy Bragg when he got older.  I am shameless in my efforts to programme my children’s musical taste. Much to my husband’s horror who will often throw something of quality as an attempt to counteract the doof doof doof [his words] I play relentlessly.
As I looked over at the boys who were at the table eating lunch, I found myself falling forward 20 years. I imagined Ian taking Joe and Arlo to the pub for an afternoon for some ‘bloke’ time. They will be strapping lads, no one can doubt that looking at them today. I see the three of them in the theatre of my mind; tall, all tousled hair and blue-eyed. Breathtaking beautiful and all mine.
Ian will have, no doubt, by the time the boys are in the late teens, broadened their musical education to include much of the music of his youth. I’m just there for the disco / dance / chilled modules of the curriculum.
In that moment, as I envisioned my beautiful boys and their father hanging out together, having a pint and enjoying each other’s company I was again excited about my future. A future that includes by beautiful men and all they will be in the years to come.
I could not help but feel elated and elevated out of the grind of trying to get the boys to eat their lunch and make myself the breakfast I had not actually managed to have by midday. And to ingest the coffee I so desperately needed.

My life may be a series of chores some times. Simply responding to the demands of my young children. There are however, wonderful moments of unadulterated joy. When I am reminded of what I have in my hands right now. And to make the most of it…