Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Authentic Self Portraits

Currently, I am working on creating a gentle guide to healing based on authentic Life Story and Creativity. 

I have been thinking about photographs for my new website, who should take them, how they should be and when I awoke this morning, I had this idea that I should take the shots and that due to the nature of the content of the guide, that they should be taken right there and then, in the bare naked truth of the morning. So, I fumbled for my phone and started taking shots.

 I'm not sure if I will use them for the website or the Healing Guide but certainly, I think they are far more interesting than staged shots in a studio ... food for thought.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

How the chakra can help deaf singers to pitch

I am sharing this today as it may help other singers who, like me, find that they are now deaf in their upper vocal range.

For me, having lost the ability to pitch in the upper range is exacerbated by my tinnitus and hyperacusis. Because of these conditions associated with my hearing loss, I can not hear my own voice in my head and find myself unable to locate specific notes and so, after a career that started when I was 5 years old, I felt forced to stop singing professionally. 

It was once I had stopped singing that I realised that my voice was so much more than an instrument for work. It is part of me, it is in my every fibre, an expression of self. My voice singing has been my friend in times of grief and my companion in times of joy. Frankly, without it, I have felt bereft. 

Once I had been issued with two hearing aids by the NHS in December 2017, I felt brave enough to start playing the guitar and writing songs again. 

One morning during practice, I decided to give my upper ranges a blast, even though I couldn't pitch there properly. To my surprise, I found that when I went to the note I was looking for, I could feel my voice vibrating at the sides of my nose and through the sinuses, just below my eyes. The sinuses are small air filled cavities behind the cheekbones and forehead (see diagram above).  

With this new information, I began experimenting and deliberately noticing where my body held tension and release for certain notes and tones.

So far, I have found that I can pitch by recognising these vibrations in my face and head. This has led me to start experimenting with other parts of my body with equally surprising results.

By releasing my stomach and relaxing the muscles of the solar plexus and sacral areas, this helps me levitate my voice upwards into my head cavity, where I can then use the vibrations in the sinuses to find pitch. 

In short, whilst singing, I am releasing the sacral and solar plexsis chakra,  and then using awareness of the third eye and crown chakra to maximise vibrational awareness of my voice in the cranial area, thus enabling me to find and hold the pitch that I can no longer judge just by using my ears.

It feels important to share my findings with you. It is early days but I am stepping into a vocal practice to explore and expand my research. I'll keep you posted with results. For now, I am joyous to be able to 'hear' my voice again.

Friday, 26 January 2018

How to teach an old dog, new tricks

It's been a tricky week here. Poor little Maisy has hurt her leg and the vet had to do X-rays. We're to keep her completely still for 2 weeks. Have you tried to keep a King Charles Spaniel still?

So, I have to stay with her, which is actually very lovely, but I wondered what could I do with my time whilst I am at home with her? 

I decided to write a long list of all the things I wished I could in terms of graphic design. I already make websites and am using these skills to reinvent and re-brand my new and exciting creative venture. However, there are things I wished I could do that I thought were beyond me BUT I was wrong!

Having a long list and time on my hands, I went on youtube and found all the best tutorials for the things I yearned to learn. 

I pieced together a 2 day course for myself. As you can guess, one of the things I wanted to learn was how to make inkblot pictures like the one I have designed at the top of this blog ... oh I am feeling really rather chuffed with myself. Off course, now I need to learn how to make transparent backgrounds so that I have the option of the image without the background. 

So, I am compiling a new list for next week, because now that I have enabled myself to be my own teacher, I reckon I can fly beyond skies the limit ...

What would you like to teach yourself?

Reinvention: Stepping into the Sunlight

For the last 14 months, I have been coming to terms with hearing loss, tinnitus and hyperacusis.

My intention for 2018, to open up my heart in deep gratitude & acceptance, includes the acknowledgement that my relationship to live music and performance, which has been my lifelong passion and career, has to now change.  I believed that this meant that I would exclude performance from my life but now, I realise that if I am open to finding a new way, then that is precisely what will present itself. 

In many ways, it is a wonderful opportunity to completely reinvent, rebirth and make a new. How utterly exciting. I might be deaf, but I hear the call of my soul now more clearly than ever before in my entire life.

I am finding myself in the gloriously seductive, creatively obsessed and precisely focused state of creating a distilled and pure pathway, leading directly to the next phase of my life. 

Focusing my soul-fired desires into creating a strong, yet flexible  framework that enables me to continue to heal myself through my passions, whilst helping those that are reaching out from the dark place that I was in, so that we can step together into the sunlight ... 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Button Up Your Memories: Dementia Friendly Books

For Christmas, I had 4 commissions for my Heartfelt Books , 2 of which touched me deeply, and have informed a new way of working. 

One client commissioned a Heartfelt book for the funeral of her niece. I found this very touching. I asked her questions and sent the poem back and for with her, until she was happy, using materials in her niece's favourite colours ... and then I was contacted by a young woman who asked if I could make a little book for her Grandmother, to help her with her memory, as her dementia meant that she was starting to become confused.

It just so happens that at the time, I was in R&D, creating a poetry book about the buttons in my late Mother in law's old tin and how each button had belonged to a different member of her family. I showed the book to the client and she asked me to make one for her. 

Only this time, I used buttons from her Grandma's tin and the poem story inside was about her family.

I am now working on a Collection of Heartfelt books to trial with the listeners and peer volunteer storytellers at Sound Memories Dementia Friendly Radio.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The gentle nuances of empathy

This week, I have been on a training course as a Creative Practitioner with the Arts Council of Wales. It was the first training course that I have been on since becoming deaf and living with 2 hearing aids, so I was a bit nervous about it. I needn't have been, it was a tremendous experience. The tutors were marvellous, the content was brilliant and the delivery was spot on. And now today, I find that I am reflecting and taking time to holistically process the experience.

It has made me realise that this new disability has given me a gift, the ability to very quickly sense the empathy levels of other human beings. As if I have been tuned into the nature of quintessence.

Quint Essentia is a latin word meaning 'fifth element' and according to Plato, the fifth element is related to health, to knowledge, the heavens, the essence of living things, that travels in great circles to create the cycles of life.

For sure, my 6th sense is awakened in terms of sensing the whole of a person in an instance, sensitive to their kindness, reassurance, understanding, acutely aware of when they are being accommodating or showing concern, their patience, tolerance of difference, the whole myriad of qualities that are the building blocks for empathy.

I found a depth of these qualities in people's auto- reactive body language, in the shine of their eyes, in their facial expression, even in a glance, a slight nod, tones of voice, speed of speech, physical positioning,  the sense of a human knowing.

And  by the same token, I found I was able to instantly to pick up when people were uncomfortable about my hearing loss, when they needed support in opening up to the qualities of empathy, that to my mind, make us beautiful human beings. 

And it has set me wondering, how do we impart the nature of empathy to those that do not express it? The most obvious answer  is that we teach empathy by embodying it, by being it. I am reflecting upon it most deeply because it is a great learning. Not only understanding the gentle nuances of empathy but how we pass these on.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Heartfelt Human Rights

The Declaration: 1948

Having started making a Collection of my Heartfelt Books to Celebrate 100 years of Votes for Women, I decided to experiment with the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Could I fit the entire Declaration into a tiny book?

The picture shown was my first sketch, if you like and I am very pleased to say that this morning, I managed to fold the smallest, longest concertina book I have ever made. I can't wait to show you it. If I get time tomorrow, I'll take a few shots. I have handwritten it and yes, I did manage to get the entire 30 sections into its little pages.

        Monica Ross: acts of memory at Platforma Festival
I have long admired the work of the late Monica Ross and her 'acts of memory' live performance art, whereby she learnt the entire Human Rights Act and performed it. It became an interactive piece with people learning and joining her in what cascaded into a mighty tour of 60 global dates. On the last night of the tour, Monica died of cancer.

Here is a link to the 'acts of memory' website where you can find advice as to how you might hold your own acts of memory event. I held an acts of memory session on International Women's Day at the University in Lampeter 2 years ago. It was very moving experience.

I love that my heartfelt books, though tiny, are able to convey such deeply important messages.

Special Thanks: to a friend who would prefer to remain anonymous. She wondered if I would be able to fit the Act into a tiny book and this led to me making a Heartfelt Book for Human Rights. And thanks to Márta Minier at The Atrium, Cardiff, who introduced me to the work of Monica Ross in one of her inspirational lessons when I was a student on the MA Drama.