Getting through January with my acquaintance Brenda.

Remember summer?

When everything was in bloom and pretty?

These were all shots of my garden!!! SOOOO sunny and warm and there were flowers!!! and sunshine!

 

I think my whole house suffers from SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder) we’re all mad and cranky and no one is happy until the end of march!

Anyway, my garden looks like this now:

We’re putting in gravel on the seating area to level it out! so that’s a work in progress! (also I’m using a plastic container as a green house to see how well that works!)

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There’s still lots of colour, lots of things happening! there’s still loads of rocket growing that’s pretty tasty!

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The willow is budding up and it’s so fluffy and cute! I have to really resist stroking them and picking them off! I may have done that to one already…

A few small things are in flower, and brenda is having a blast exploring!

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She moves too much to get a nice picture of her playing outside!

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August Wildflower garden

 

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January Garden

In the wildflower garden it’s just wallflowers I threw into the bed in mid-september and they really stuck! so definitely a good move!

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August
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January

It’s a work in progress, I think the issue with a small new garden is that you don’t get a lot of height immediately and you sort of have to wait for it to grow and I think I’m still in the stages of planning and moving stuff around and trying to work out what I want there.

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Upcoming projects:

 

  • After cleaning out next door’s overgrown Buddleja forest and we’re planting a wildflower meadow, it’s easy to maintain, you only need to mow it once a year and it’ll be great for wildlife!
  • My community garden down the end of the street got £75 in funding so we’re planting roses and more plants and getting the local primary school involved in planting it up! which is pretty awesome!
  • I’m starting a local Parks groups to tidy up my neighbourhood green spaces! which is pretty awesome!
  • I’m planning on growing more veg as I’m terrible at it, I’m far more of an ornamental gardener and I don’t really have a great track record… but I’m going to try more!
  • I’m growing more from seed this year, and trying to get more of a cottage garden look in my little city garden, might start a spin off blog about that…

The end.

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It’s 2018. Oh God, when does it end? When can I win?!?!

Despite this incredibly depressing title I’m actually in a very good place right now. Just thought I’d clear that up before anyone gets worried.

It is the nature of the beast, and last year’s New Year’s post was ‘Blurgh, Eye Roll, It just keeps going’ 

Today I thought I would look back on the past year, answer some questions that I previously had and update you on my ‘most comfortable life’. (The secret is cruise control, it was cruise control the whole time).

So, 2017 has been a lot ‘busier’ than 2016 by a factor of 100. I had more work, more weddings, more adventures and far more failures than anyone anticipated! The thing about having a growing business is that it grows, that’s it’s whole point. You build on it, year on year. And that’s what I’d like to stress to all the young musicians out there is that sure, you’re first year might be a bleak one but next year is gunna be better and the year after even better than that!

So, Part 1:

Being Less complacent and ungrateful.

I am content… or at least far more content that I used to be. I started going to a 7am yoga class in April and damn it if that hasn’t changed EVERYTHING! I am now fitter and far happier than I was before.

Similarly, over the summer there was a busker in my favourite pitch. ALL SUMMER! he would get there at 8am and would never finish… and he finally packed up his bags and went home in September, and I honestly have never been happier and more grateful to be able to walk into town and find my favourite pitch is completely empty. It’s such a nice feeling.

I think these two factors have played a huge part in my 2017 development.

Part 2:

Where I try to Structure my work week

The 7am yoga classes 4 days a week have REALLY helped this, if you have something to get you out of bed, let you leave the house and make sure you remember to shower every week then you basically have a built in schedule.

I have found this really lovely. Similarly, having my regular teaching slot on monday and teaching my community choir on Friday have added to this.

But most importantly the amount of gigs I’ve had this year is a lot more than before and that requires a lot of organisation, which has really helped me feel structured in my days.

It’s been really nice. I kind of feel like if this continues I can use it as an excuse to hire an unpaid intern and have them answer all my emails.

The House is fine, mine and Sarah’s friendship didn’t end and it’s all going fine…

Part 3:

Where I tried to improve myself in the past year.

Honestly, I feel like I nailed this one! 2017 has been a year of me just killing it! except financially, the first quarter was a MESS! I may as well have been in a coma or taken a 3 month sabbatical with how little money I actually made that quarter.

So, I didn’t have a formal resolution, but I did achieve a lot of the generic things people aim for. I did lose a bit of weight, which is nice but honestly not that important. I made actual friends! Which honestly, please take a moment out of reading this to let that sink in. I, an adult woman, made new adult friends in 2017, by talking to strangers and now they are my friends! I made a ton of friends from my yoga classes, from which I got a planter at the end of my street, joined up with the gardening community in my neighbourhood and helped my neighbour clear out their garden. I also joined a brass band briefly because of yoga and I also got out the house more. My back doesn’t hurt that much anymore, which is really refreshing for a harpist to say!

Anyway, was I more ‘authentic’ in my being? sure, why not? Did I wear flats to every party? No, because I was never invited to any parties. Did I eat better… well I ate a box of chocolate biscuits for lunch… sooo… I guess not. I mean no one’s perfect!

So, as far as ‘tangible goals’ cross-referencing with last year’s expectations for the year, here is a brief update.

  1. I did get better wine, but I think that was just through luck and a lot of guess work. Honestly, it’s impossible to tell, they should just start keeping wine in Bins and let people ‘lucky dip’ out bottles because honestly, who can tell from the label?!?!
  2. I did put on a concert series, ‘Mid Week Music’ and it failed spectacularly! Did I learn anything from it? Nope. Not really. Would I try it again? Probably not, it’s kinda the worst thing in the world putting on concerts. I like it when I can just turn up and do a concert and it doesn’t matter what happens because I get paid either way!
  3. I did record another album! It’s called ‘Gutsy’ and I did it alone in my office, next year I’ll do something better with friends I guess… who knows…
  4. New harp? CHECK! God, I love having a pedal harp… it’s so good! My korrigan now lives with my student, my bardic is now used for teaching and busking and honestly, I think it’s a perfect mix of big and small.

Part 4:

Where I accept myself for my flaws and failures and try to move on and live the best and happiest life I can.

If you aren’t reading along with last year’s post then this probably hasn’t made a whole lot of sense. However, if you were smart and now have them side-by-side here is a quick, lightening round section corresponding to last year’s section of the same name.

  1. phew! It’s nice to know I won’t be the one to blame for that.
  2. didn’t happen, but I did change cars to get my new giant harp about.
  3. Didn’t happen, but could always happen this year!
  4. Honestly, who knows…
  5. See above.

Section 2

  1. Yep! I did! I went through and expensed only my strings the first time round… that was so stupid…
  2. Yeah… maybe this year! Who knows! might try and get some arts council funding!
  3. No one did, and guess what. I survived!
  4. Some weeks you go under, some weeks you go over, that’s life!
  5. It’s ok, but a little rocky at times. It’s part of being a grownup.

Part 5:

Goodbye and Goodluck!

Well… I hope you enjoyed this re-cap of 2017, I didn’t really specify what I wanted to do in 2018.. I guess I could only sum it up as ‘More of the same’. It’s going pretty well and I’m pretty happy with my career and how it’s all working out. If I could change one thing I think I would just like someone to answer all my emails, who also moves all my instruments for me and has a sweet house I get to hang out in, maybe with an indoor pool! that’d be cool.

Anyway, Happy 2018! I hope you all find your pool-having interns too!

I’ve lost my voice and I’m not worried.

help help… I’m sick… I said to my housemate on Saturday. Well… I didn’t so much ‘say’ it, as I whispered it in my horse empty tone.

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This week I got tonsillitis, I even had to go to my GP, and here are my thoughts.

Firstly, I thought it would pass, as it usually does. I had a bad flu/tonsillitis thing at New Years for those of you following along on all the other social medias! and that passed in three days of hardcore drug taking and having to do two gigs and try not to die. (the drugs were lemsip max cold & flu, but I like to pretend I’m cool when I’m sick).

So, I got this on Monday, and I assumed I’d be fine. I went to work twice, I took some painkillers and I just waited for it to be over. However, by Thursday it had infact gotten worse… to the point where my mother, who had come to visit to change cars so that I now have a car I can fit my harp in, said ‘You need to see a doctor’. ‘What?! noooo. I’ll be fine! It’ll pass’ I said, like the naive lunatic you’ve all come to know and love me as.

It did not. Obviously, I mean, you read the title, you know how ‘getting sick’ works! So I woke up on Friday and I could not speak… not because of an issue with my voice, but because my tonsils had decided to become to size and shape of my wind pipe, and over the back of my throat with a thick coat of phlegm for good measure. (N.B. this will probably be the grosses post I’ve ever written… but it’s my blog and also I’m very brave!)

So, I phoned up my local clinic, which by the way, how is that the best way of doing things in 2017!? If you have trouble speaking you’ve got to call someone to see a doctor about it? Geez! It took 3 minutes of me panic speaking to this receptionist and coughing up phlegm into my sink to good an appointment. Please tell me why a digital booking system would be more difficult… well for old people but fine!

Anyway, The GP’s office took less than an hour. a great thing about this country is our NHS. I saw my GP in 20 minutes, I explained what was wrong because I had looked up all the symptoms and issues on the NHS website and she gave me a prescription. Which I then went across the street to the pharmacy and had filled for free, because living is Wales is wonderful! (there’s no downside! we get less rain in Cardiff than London, and our air is clean!)

Anyway, so over the weekend it went from back to worse, as it is known to do. there was 4am bile vomiting, there was a period of three days where I couldn’t eat solids. However, I did get to watch the whole of Netflix, so I guess that was a good thing!

sleeping was a mess, you try sleeping with your mouth open and then it’s all dry and scratchy and painful. you try sleeping with your mouth closed and your body’s like ‘hey you want some phlegm to swallow? you like swallowing don’t ya? here ya go!’. And you’re lying there having to decide whether letting yourself drool all over your pillow is a better plan than having to suffer another swallow.

Anyway, so Saturday rolled around and what was a groggled bear noise became a hushed whimper.  I physically could not make noises. This continued through to Sunday where the pain lessened and the tonsils went down, but I still sounded like a husk blowing down a dirt path when I tried to communicate. A similar thing on monday, however I was well enough to get out my harp and have a play, and showing definite signs of improvement.

Which brings us to today. Today is the ‘Ssssh’ day, or the ‘Safty day’. As a singer you always want to make sure you’re doing your very best to aid recovery after vocal issues, this usually means, where other people would start talking and working again, you take that extra time to firm everything back up. I can talk without pain, but I am not going to today. Tomorrow I’m going back to some very VERY light singing to see how everything is but nothing more, looking to start singing back at work by next Monday.

This is not the first time I’ve lost my voice. in the two cases before this it was because of over use, or over use during an illness. I usually can happily sing through most illness without any pain or discomfort or damage. As long as I’m hydrated and not on any medication or painkillers, singing through a cold or a cough, is usually fine for me. This was not like that. had sung briefly for my parents on Thursday and sung on Tuesday and Wednesday busking. Which were not stressful or over worked days. The loss of voice came from the tonsillitis itself, which is a common symptom of tonsillitis (just fyi). So I’m being very gentle and careful and slow in getting back to working with the voice to ensure no prolonged damage occurs.

I’m not worried.

People get sick. And, big surprise, singers are people! (I know! what a wild, far out concept!). I lost my voice because I got sick, and then I was quiet for a week and it should return in full working order if I don’t push it or over stretch it and allow it to health.

I am trained and I have worked with my instrument for long enough to know that this is what it needs.

If I was a huge X factor star, I wouldn’t know this. I would take a bunch of painkillers so I could go on stage and perform because my PA decided that this was the best course of action, then I would probably have to drink some alcohol and then sleep in a hotel somewhere because that’s what I imagine their lives are like.

The issue with stars like Adele and Sam Smith’s vocal damage is that their schedules don’t work around their instruments. They don’t let them travel and rest and rest and travel, it’s a quick tour so you don’t have to pay people too much and the singer gets worn out and then they get nodes and then they have surgery!?! Which is real vocal damage!

At the beginning of the month I was so worried that I had no gigs lined up this month, but in this case that worked out for my favour! as a self-employed musician, you usually can’t afford to get sick! You don’t get sick pay, or days off. You have to work on days people tell you to. It’s a lot like an office job but your boss changes constantly and you have no workers benefits… But I’m sure if you read this blog you’ll know every.damn.week I talk about how hard my job is… blah blah blagh.

Anyway, my voice will recover and I have enough time for that to happen without unconvincing anyone. So, for that, and only that reason, I’m glad I’m not a super famous singer like Adele but with a harp… because who’d want that life…? honestly…? having to hold all those Grammies? yuck! too heavy, no thank you!

see ya next month!