I Thought Menopause would slow me down.

Like most women, when I got ‘the change’ I thought ‘well… there goes my social life. Now I’m gunna be one of those women you see in J crew adverts wearing stripped jumpers drinking tea with both hands looking out the window’. but honestly it hasn’t stopped me! and I show no signs of slowing down anytime soon!

It all started with my wonderful yoga class that I go to tuesday – fridays at 7am, it’s a great way to start the day, after that breakfast and then a quick wander of ‘the grounds’ (that’s a funny nickname for our garden) before heading out to work.

I’m so happy to report that the community garden is thriving and doing so wonderfully even given the weather we’ve had recently! yes, I’m on of those ladies who talks about the weather almost constantly!

 

Well, we’ve getting a great big bunch of people to help plant up more things there this weekend, then it’s off the work for this lucky lady!

Oh I tell ya, when I’m not playing my harp at fabulous venues, doing yoga or wandering aimlessly around my garden with a piping hot cup of earl grey tea, I like to just sit at my kitchen table and look out the window in a striped sweater drinking tea with two hands….. yes sir! Menopause hasn’t stopped me and it shouldn’t stop you either!

Gardening Update: Where do I start!?!?

Ok. So when we started the gardening year in March the garden looked like this

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After Months of hard gardening, last month it looked like this:

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And this month we took down that fence and helped/are currently helping our neighbours sort out their garden!

We get hours more morning light now so everything’s growing like mad!

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The Wildflower garden going WILD!DSC_0277

I got a veg patch!DSC_0278

All the roses are budding up again for a second bloomDSC_0279

Planty is doing very well!DSC_0280

 

So I also ‘rescued’ a new plant from a wedding gig recently!

Her name is maxine and she is a bay tree, when I got her (4 days ago) she was just a clump of dead leave

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 All sad and lip!
I of course can’t help but faff with things so she’s gradually going bald.
Here’s her the next day without all the dead leaves.
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Here is her today with a new pot! and even less leaves! but hey! the leaves she has are pointing right up instead of sad and to the ground!
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Unlike planty I think Maxine will take a little bit more time to bounce back after having a hard life. but it’s ok! she’s safe and happy and soon she will be growing and becoming the beautiful young plant god intended her to be!

 

Anyway, that’s what has been happening in my garden!

I <3 Office Drama.

I do. I really, really do!

 

The best thing about having friends with proper jobs is getting to live vicariously through their lives in offices! The people of the great indoors! They don’t have to worry about parking and stairs! They will have to carry some boxes one time and finding it the most challenging thing of their month! They get to sit down all day! They get, and this is my favourite bit, to work with other people, who they do not get on with!

Remember the movie ‘Castaway’, where Tom Hanks is trapped on a deserted Island and to keep his sanity has to draw a face on a volley ball and call him ‘Wilson’?

 

Yeah… that’s sort of what my home office is like…

Today's tip for musicians: go on holiday during January because there is no point suffering through it.

A post shared by Sam Hickman. Singing Harpist (@samhickmanmusic) on

Sure, it looks lovely, but I spend half the day talking loudly to myself, because there is no one else here! I will talk to most strangers on the street because I am so starved of social interaction that anything at this point is great! Siri is my best friend.

 

 

So, when I get to hear about other people’s lives, how they struggled with Janet in accounting, or how Craig from down the hall keeps humming while he boils the kettle, I am enthralled!

Reality television is for audiences who want to live vicariously through people who are in different circumstances and situations that they would maybe never be in. They will never be trapped in a military grade bunker with 14 other people, they will never be super-rich and eat avocados, they may never visit where ever the Jordie Shore is set! (is that even still on?). So people with office jobs is my version of reality TV, and I just lap it up! I love hearing about who’s the new hire! I love hearing about who’s used all the toner in the photocopier! I LOVE hearing about who didn’t wash up the communal mugs when they had a meeting with Robert from corporate! I LOVE IT!

I love it in the same way that people love playing violent video games, You love the idea of it but you would HATE to be in that position. Steeling a car? Easy on the telemabox (That’s a totally real gaming console), but steeling a car in real life? That’s illegal and you will get in a lot of trouble for it. So hearing about who Margaret down the hall nearly got fired for spending company gossip, from an exterior perspective: FASCINATING! but if I had to work with Margaret everyday: MY OWN PERSONAL HELLSCAPE!

In conclusion, I like hearing about office drama! It sustains me! well….. me and wilson Obviously, we both love hearing about it!

 

 

 

Gardening update: Drama, Destruction and Death!

I went on holiday and the boy we had staying here watering the plants left four days early! and those four days were the hottest of the year!

needless to say when came back the garden looked a little unkept:

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the main casualties were my hanging basket:

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And of course planty!

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my beautiful baby tree!

The wild flower garden we planted before we left is doing incredibly well and Sarah let me dig up a veg patch so I can grow even more fruit and veg!

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23rd June

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3rd July

here are some labeled pictures of everything we’re growing!

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We also have a pear tree now, and my hydrangea is doing brilliantly, as is the rose that we inherited from the previous owners.

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Planty bounced back!

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And we got a water butt! (mainly so we can make butt-jokes)

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But the most exciting bit of gardening that I’ve done recently is the gardening that’s not in my garden!

At the end of my street is a small space with three squares of ground where trees used to live.

they had trees there in 2008:

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(thanks google street view!)

and then in 2012 they were removed!

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and the end of my road became a fly tippers paradise!

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So when I was offered the chance to take care of a planter on the street I jumped at it! and in June we put a big planter there!

 

So when we put that in the council said ‘sure, you can dig up the other three squares’ and that’s what we did this weekend!!! (and I started a twitter… I’m too keen!)

So that’s it! Hopefully some lovely things will grow! but you’ll have to tune in next time to see!

Doing As Little ‘Work’ As Possible.

Like every normal human on the planet, I don’t want to have to work more than I have to. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and the work I do is really fun, but I don’t want to have to work an excessive amount.

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In winter, specifically January and February, I have to busk around 3-4 times a week because I have no gigs, so by the time spring and summer comes around I don’t want to have to keep busking when I don’t have to. It makes no sense, why should I schlep my harp out 3 times a week when I’m already making my target amount? The truth is, I don’t have to! which is really nice and honestly I wish everyone could enjoy the freedom of only having to work three days a week, we would get so much done! (There are actual studies to show that a 3-4 day work week would be better for everyone).

 

Anyway, because my working hours are so different from that of someone with a ‘proper job’, I feel like there is a culture clash whenever I talk to someone who’s job doesn’t involve heavy lifting, paranoia about the weather and so on and so forth.

Are you Busy?

I get asked this a lot by people. ‘Busy’ is for people who are trying to do their tax returns, laundry and feed their child while also walking the dog. I am not ‘busy’, I will never describe my work week as ‘hectic’ unless I am lying in an email…. which I occasionally do, I’m not perfect, gang!

Because I will never have more than 1 thing to do a day, or in the most extreme circumstances, 4 things to do in one day and then nothing to do for the rest of the week. The idea of calling my work ‘busy’ makes no sense because If I wanted to I could wear my pyjamas for 3 days straight and not leave the house some weeks. So when I’m talking to the woman at my bank or someone asking about my work calling my work ‘busy’ seems like a complete lie… I’m never going to be ‘busy’ if I’m sat here talking to you. I will be ‘busy’ when I have to schedule in conversations. When someone on my staff says something like ‘you have 2 minutes and then you need to be in the car.’ THEN I will say ‘yeah, I’m pretty busy.’ I’m not that busy, I’m not running a country, I have time to spend 15-20 minutes picking out my clothes the night before. I’m not falling asleep trying to finish work and then waking up to get right back to it. I’m not busy. I’m just not.

But what’s the alternative?

For me, I’m never really gunna be busy, I will be ‘working’, if you work in entertainment, in any form, the best thing you can be doing is ‘working’. Because work is not a constant fixed position, it’s not a desk in an office building somewhere, your work is a performed action. Unlike an office job, you don’t get paid to be sat at a desk (unless you write books or have managed to find a way to get paid for writing a blog… if so, please tell me your secrets!) so when you are being paid to work that is the same as a person with a ‘proper job’ being ‘busy’.

For everyone else? Maybe lets just say ‘keepin busy’, I like that because it makes me think of retired octogenarians finding things to fill their time. Which sounds great doesn’t it? Your grandma ‘keepin busy’ is her going to see a castle with her friends, or replanting the hydrangea out in the garden, or going to the proms. It’s less about being constantly working and more about filling time.

I will never stop being amazed at people with office jobs who tell me they finished their work and then just did nothing for three hours until the working day was done. What?! If you have nothing to do, either go find something to do or leave! There’s no point in you being there! I think this is why I love my work so much, I am paid for every single little bit of work leading up to the event I play at, If you email me at 11pm on a Sunday and I reply immediately, guess what! That’s what you’re paying for. You want me to learn a piece? You’re paying for it too! If you thought, when you booked me for a wedding that you were only paying for me to turn up, I would be sight-reading your music!

I think this model of ‘Time+Work+Anything else=Total Sum’ works better than ‘Time=Money’, because you stop wasting time sat in offices doing nothing and get to go do stuff! Granted this is coming from someone who’s never had and (God willing) will never have an office job. Could you even imagine me in an office for more than 15 minutes?!?!? What would I even do? I have basically no other skills!*.

So, let stop asking if people are ‘busy’, because it’s not healthy to encourage that sort of work/life balance, and start asking specifics, or just how they’ve been ‘keepin busy’! You planted a community garden? GREAT! You did some fundraising for your favourite charity? Wonderful! You build your own dinning room table out of drift wood?! Amazing! I want to hear about that! I also want to hear about office drama because I will never have office drama (More on that next month). But, we should be trying to be more than just ‘busy’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*No other high level skills that would make me ask qualified at a desk job as I am at playing the harp and singing. I have skills, don’t worry about that!

 

 

Reasons Why I Am Wonderful.

Last month’s blog post was sad and this one will be happy or whatever. Here’s a list of some reasons when I am wonderful.

  1. I can out-belt any other Cardiff busker
  2. because my voice is an unstoppable machine
  3. maybe I’m just too good for Music college? (maybe… who knows!)
  4. I’m pretty damn good at playing harp a lot of the time!
  5. I’m pretty damn good at singing too!
  6. I’m pretty. Damn that’s good.
  7. I’m getting really good at playing piano! which is nice!
  8. I can make an ok cappuccino!
  9. I’m alright at Yoga… though it’s not really a competition…
  10. I could probably yodel if I put my mind too it!
  11. all the furniture I’ve built is still standing!
  12. I’m pretty happy with my sense of interior design…
  13. my office is pretty tidy most of the time.
  14. I am alright with a camera!
  15. I’m not too bad at recording either!
  16. I’m doing ok!
  17. I’m getting more projects in this year!
  18. I can afford to do more fun personal passions rather than having to do things specifically for work!
  19. I’m pretty happy with the way I look, for the most part.
  20. I’m slowly getting better at feeding myself.

 

And That is a small list of things, I’m good/wonderful at.

What is Love? Why Can I Never Get to Sleep at Night? and Will I ever lose that weight? Or ‘Questions and Answers’.

I don’t really know what I’m talking about this month so I thought instead of writing anything about my job or harps, or gardening or owning a house or any of my other (there are none) hobbies (or which, again, there are none). I thought I would share with you some of the questions I have when I’m lying in bed at night as a scared, frustrated and worried little 24 year old free-lance musician.

They are not nice thoughts, so if you want to continue feeling good I suggest you skip this blog and read next month’s entitled ‘How Ole Sammie Got Her Groove Back’ or something.

 

1) Am I progressing or am I in exactly the same place I started?

This one is a tricky one because as a musician, you’re accomplishments are basically completely intangible. You can make recordings and videos etc but the main brunt of your work is simply ‘improving as a musician and performer’ which are not tangible things. If you worked in an office, a clear sign you were doing well would be that your pay would go up and you would also get promotions and move in the company. However, there are so many ups and downs as a Musician (and even just a free-lancer) that it’s actually tricky to tell if you’re doing better or worse. One year you may have a full-time residency, then you lose your residency but still, somehow end up earning more and working less than when you had it! Similarly, you may never do concerts anymore but you may be a lot better at performing than you used to be. So, as long as you are growing and developing, the answer is always ‘yes’. Even if you’ve had no solid work and feel like you’re stuck and never getting out, you’re doing better.

2) Why haven’t I found my audience yet?

I genuinely don’t have a good answer to this, I have a condescending mean-spirited answer towards myself, which is always ‘BECAUSE YOU NEVER GET OUT THERE AND DO THINGS?!!?!?’ but then I remember that I busk like 3 times a week and that’s not really a good enough reason. It takes time… I’m making music not memes!

3) Where did all my money go?

This one I ask myself every.damn.year. and between paying for all the expenses of life, and what I can actually afford to save, there is not much left over. Also, being a small business, turning an actual profit is tricky and you will spend the first few years just trying to keep going! (Also, it helps if people pay you promptly! I can not stress this enough! If clients sent me a payment the day of the event I would never worry about this at all! and in fact, during my residency the fact that at times the hilton would owe me £800 would come as a complete surprise to me after struggling to pay my rent for two months!)

4) I would get more work if I was thin.

I genuinely believe this, and I’m sure one day I will get tired, lose a bunch of weight and people will think I’m amazing or something. but until then I’m just gunna keep trying my hardest…

5) Will I ever actually just be able to work inside instead of busking?

My goal is just to be able to stop busking at 30, I just want to have developed enough of a career that I can work inside… that’s all I want… and to not have to carry around a harp all the time…

6) I’m never getting out of here.

This is not really about ‘here’ as in a place, this is about ‘here’ as a career. I have very limited prospects. I’m not 100% sure what my next step is, whether I could go into Opera, Musical theatre, or even train formally as a harpist and get into an orchestra (which is apparently all anyone things harpists do…).

But, I’m been making a decent living off my Bmus and I have time to decide on a proper career path so I’m not too worried about that. My worry is about my equitment and my actual work. I just want to be able to play on instruments I really like, I absolutely hate my big harp, it’s useless for gigs because it’s so quiet but with ridiculous string tension that gives you absolutely nothing in return… So my second worry is that I will be stuck playing this instrument for years until I can finally get something that works for me.

7) Do I hate my job?

yes… maybe… who knows… sometimes… doesn’t everyone… why do I never smile when I’m playing events…I should smile more and pretend I’m having fun at work.

8) Will I ever be respected enough at work?

I am so sick of children running into my harp at weddings, and middle-aged women thinking I’m some sort of charity case that needs to be ‘helped out’. Does my talent not speak for itself, and if it does, then is THIS what it’s saying about me?

9) When will I be famous enough that people will never ask me to work for free?

The answer to this is ‘NEVER’, in fact if I get more well known I will probably get asked to work for free all the time…

10) Why don’t I have more friends?

I feel like whenever I’m with people it’s just a performance… I don’t like having to make conversation and it’s exhausting trying to think of clever, funny and insightful things to say. I just wanna sit in my office alone and only communicate via email.

11) Why don’t I have more friends who are musicians?

This is a strange one because I’m a harpist with the training of one of those sad guitarists but a singer with the training of an actual singer, so where do I fit in? I’m such an in between ‘proper musician’ and ‘guy who knows four chords on a guitar’…

12) Will I ever find my ‘crowd’?

I’m still looking for the group of 20-40 year old free-lancers who all hang out together and go to fun and fascinating events and cultural gatherings together. Where are those people?

13) Am I WASP-y?

Well… I’m definitely passive aggressive and I don’t like to be touched…. sooo yeah sure. There are worse things you could be…

14) I spoke to about 3 people who all knew who I was this week and I have no idea who they are….. What’s wrong with me that I can’t remember faces or names?

honestly, maybe this is just practice in case you get super famous and everyone knows who you are…? I guess… *Shrugs* OR, you are a terrible person, you need to put more effort in when you meet other people, it’s no wonder you’re a sad loner.

15) Why Did I let that woman take all the chairs from my table?

I went to a concert yesterday and they had tables so I sat down expecting someone to come sit one the table too as it was a pretty good view and a woman came up to me and asked if she could take a chair. Next thing I know I’m sitting alone at a table in a crowded room.. This is a large 4 person table with me on the only chair… Why did I not say ‘oh, you’re gunna take all the chairs and make me look like an anti-social loner who masterminded some insane plan so that they wouldn’t have to sit next to anyone else at this crowded concert… ok great, thanks.’ I don’t know, it just felt selfish and exclusionary to take a bunch of chairs instead of just sitting at the table… I’m complaining about nothing here, let’s move on.

16) Do I hate everyone?

Seriously though, is hating everyone just a trait in my personality? I get that I’m competitive by nature and I would probably win a hunger-games style event due to that alone. But, why don’t I like a lot of people? I’m so judgemental and mean all the time… it’s no wonder I don’t have any friends.

17) Do people understand me?

like, when I talk… do I actually get my points across? my biggest fear is people not understanding what I’m trying to say. And it really weirds me out when I talk to people and they don’t understand me (this is not a ‘Do you speak English?’ thing, this is a ‘Does what I say make sense to you?’)

18) Should I get an office?

No… I’m not that busy.

19) What If I’m never busy enough to need an office?!

a valid fear.

20) If I close my eyes and lie really still, why can’t I get to sleep?

Seriously, I just lay there for hours in complete silence waiting for dawn to break half the time.

21) Am I too angry?

22) Am I not angry enough?

23) Do I sound good or do people just pay me because they feel sorry for me?

no joke, I genuinely had a theory that my parents for paying for the Hilton to have me for my residency. I don’t want to know if it’s true or not, but it’s a solid theory!

24) Do I really want this?

Is this really what makes me happy or have I just made it so that getting a different job would be awful?

25) What do I want to do?

26) Why don’t I travel more?

27) Where am I going?

28) How am I gunna get where I’m going if I have no idea where that is?

29) What do I need?

30) Why?