Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Where's my Igloo Gone?



For the last 7 weeks, I have been visiting Ysgol C'aer Felin with the Young Promoters Project funded by Night Out, the Arts Council of Wales. It has been an amazing journey. The children have learnt to become promoters organising the whole event. We have visited  backstage at Y Ffwrnes Theatre and had a marvellous tour, we have filmed a promotion video, learnt about advertising and marketing. It is magical to watch the children grow in confidence, speaking on the telephone writing letters, preparing speeches.


The children even made the cakes for the tuck shop this evening to raise funds so that can all go to the theatre together to see the welsh language panto. 


The children even made a lovely big pot of cawl for the team and the theatre company who came to put on the show Where's my Igloo Gone with The Bone Ensemble.




It was so wonderful to see the community out in full force, excited about theatre. WE SOLD OUT! Unheard of in our little village. Councillors, School Governors, local police, parents, siblings, friends and off course the children.

Well Done Everyone, I'm so proud of you. Thank you Mrs Davies, Head Teacher and Miss Tanner the class teacher for all your hard work and to all the staff for helping.




Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Featured Storyteller Anne Lister at Quiet Space Studio



It gives me great pleasure to welcome my dear friend Anne Lister, as Resident Storyteller at Quiet Space Studio for the coming month.  Anne and I have worked together as storytellers and songwriters many times over the years. We met during a Digital Storytelling Training Week but I was aware of her extensive back catalogue of songs and stories before this. Anne is an interesting combination of the consummate performer and yet indepth academic/ In this video she tells us of her fascinating journey through he current PhD and her forthcoming album/tour.





Monday, 20 November 2017

Set to Light the Night Sky



My ears may be deaf
But my heart hears you
Loud & Clear

Living with the onset of sudden deafness has enabled me to see a whole different side to humanity. Some people are so utterly kind, which touches my heart, and yet others make all sorts of negative assumptions about my abilities. It feels almost as if they believe that everything I ever did before my deafness, counts for nothing. 

Well, I have to say, that this has made me very determined to get my house in order and brush off my Superwoman cape. Quite frankly, how very dare they! 

It's funny how sometimes the most desperate of situations reignites a dwindled flame. I might have been lost in the dark but right now, I am very much a brightly burning candle set to light the night sky.




Sunday, 19 November 2017

Facebook Sabbatical

      

I LOVE my facebook family but I found that I was spending more and more time on facebook. Having the app on my phone, meant that I was looking at it almost constantly on and off throughout the day, evening and even at night! 

I am absolutely determined to complete my new collection of stories & poems because I know in my heart that it is what I am meant to be doing. But I am so easily distracted,  browsing through my feed to see what my chums are up to.

So, I made a decision to step away from Facebook for a short sabbatical. I don't know how long for, just until it feels right to go back. So far, it's been a whole 24 hours! I have removed the facebook app from my phone and truthfully, I can not believe how much I have gotten done.  I will pop into fb once in a while to pick up & respond to inbox messages and I will leave my blogposts every week, but if folk want to get in touch there's always email: cherylbeermusic@gmail.com

It feels like the right time to step back and reflect on what happens next in my life. When I first experienced hearing loss, I didn't ever think I would be where I am now. I am healing ... and now it is time to work out what this means. 

Having a break from Facebook will also give me more time to Blog, so you can keep up to date with what comes next ... 


Thursday, 16 November 2017

The accepting kindness of children

Musician in Residence at Zhodina Orphanage Foto by Val Cousins

It is so wonderful to be working with children again. After 30 years of facilitating music and story workshops, I had to hang up my fairy wings in March, due to hearing loss, tinnitus and hyperacusis. 

The Tethered Fairy ring

I honestly didn't think I would ever be able to return.


Tramore Street Festival, Ireland

It literally broke my heart. Inspiring the children via The Arts has been at the core of my lifetime career. Music, Story, Song, Poetry all being the magic that brought joy but all too noisy for my hyperacusis.


Children's Storytelling Trail, NBGW

Having a hearing aid has made all the difference and I am having a 2nd on in a week's time, too! The sound levels outside of me, are now increased to normal, which means the tinnitus in my head is less noticeable, so the dissonance from the hyperacusis is reduced radically when I wear my hearing aid.

Suffice to say, that I am now back in school, learning new ways to engage with the children.

The Art Hand, Bunmahon, Ireland

I have also learnt sign language which has really helped , and I have shifted my body language ...


Llanelli Library

... but the thing that has helped me most of all, is the incredible kindness and consideration of the children . Like this morning, my hearing aid fell out whilst in front of the class. I was mortified. Firstly I felt myself blush. I think I was embarrassed. I quickly picked it up and fumbled trying to put it back in. I couldn't get it to work and then suddenly it came back on. 

              'Euston, we back online,' I joked.

The point is, everything was fine. So, the next time it happens I won't blush and I won't fumble. I will just calmly put it back in. The children were so lovely about it. They sat quietly waiting for me to put it back in, with warm 'don't worry' smiles on their little faces. They are accepting of difference in such a way that it is moving and slowly, I can feel my confidence returning. Yes, I am deaf but I am not less than I was. Just different ... 



Saturday, 11 November 2017

Balancing Compassion




Compassion is the core of humanity. For me, it is one of the most beautiful aspects of being human. To be compassionate is to be loving, kind and giving.

When I experienced sudden hearing loss, I became distinctly aware of how I had neglected to be compassionate to self. But how can I be compassionate to self when I am so busy being compassionate to others?

I learnt how from a friend who has lived with hearing impairment her entire life. I watched how she managed her time and was in awe of her wisdom, the ways she was able manage her energy levels in a self compassionate way. She was still loving, kind and giving to others but was equally as good at being compassionate to herself. She always looked beautiful, took great care of herself, invested in different therapies and activities. Her diary was filled with things that fed  her soul and enabled her to support others at the same time.

But I never seem to have time to do the very thing that I long to do, which is to spend time with my stories and poems. So, last week, I decided to draw a diagram & see how I have been spending my creative time. (See above)

To my disappointment, the purple and smallest segment was the amount of time I have been spending on my own writing.

The green section is how much time I have been spending on paid contracts, facilitating others to be writers.

The large blue section is how much time I have been spending helping others through my community projects

And then lastly the red section, is how much time I have spent on healing and therapeutic arts to distract from my tinnitus and hyperacusis  ... mostly in the evenings.

Now that I had mapped out my creative time, I was able to see that the majority of my time is taken up helping others. Now this is fine except it is currently taking me away from my own writing.

And then I had an epiphany! What if my writing and the telling of my stories were the thing that helped people! YES! My stories are all written during my healing pathway, perhaps by sharing them I might inspire others. By doing the thing I love the most, I can be compassionate to others AND to myself, all at the same time.


So, I am swapping the purple and the blue segments of my life. This will be quite an easy shift because the biggest change can be made at Quiet Space Studio, which I set up to enable me to work on my stories and poems but that has inadvertently, become a drop in for people. I will still do drop in and make appointments to see people but not all week. Just at designated times.

We are the keepers of our own schedule but it is so easy to fall into the same dance. It's almost as if certain ways of being have made permanent grooves. But being aware of them is a good way to being able to change them.

The second major change is that I have stopped randomly trying all sorts of crafts in the evening to distract my tinnitus and started making books within which to put my stories and poems. This feels so exciting. 

Now the blue and the red represent how much time I am focused on my own work ... I've only been trying it for 3 days but it seems to have made such a big difference to how I feel. 

Sometimes we can make tiny shifts and yet massive change.







Friday, 10 November 2017

Learning to Heal through Creativity: NEW VLOG





Since opening Quiet Space Studio 5 months ago, I have found myself making little videos on my phone and then sharing them on facebook. I've had an overwhelming response to them, so I have decided to share them more widely with a VLOG page on my website. If you click the picture above it will take you straight to it. Hope you enjoy them.

When I have time I will upload them to Youtube but for now sharing them on facebook and my website, as well as with you, seems enough. 

They are personal glimpses into my healing pathway since the advent of my hearing loss, tinnitus & hyperacusis. I am hoping they may inspire you to explore your creative self in the development of your own healing practice.






Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Inside the Mind of the Creative Thinker


A friend came to visit me at my Quiet Space Studio this week and she asked me, 

          'So, ... where do all these ideas of yours come from ... how come you do all these creative things?'

I struggled to answer her because I am just being me. I don't try to do creative things, they simply come. After she had gone, I reflected upon her question. 


I realised that I have completely taken my creativity for granted. I chuckle at myself sometimes that I get up to all manner of quirky lovlieness, and what's more, I rather enjoy chuckling at myself in this way, like I'm doing something a tad naughty by being creative.


I am wondering if it is because I went to quite a strict all girls school, where something as trivial as wearing the wrong colour socks had me in the Head Teacher's Corridor. 

Funny thing was, the Head and I became quite good friends and not just because I spent so much time being sent to her. The more she scolded me for being a bit different, the more it made me chuckle and so the more different I would be, which wasn't that hard in such a staid environment. 

I remember she wrote on my report once, 'If Cheryl put all her boundless energy into her work, she would be a genius,' and so when I left school, that's exactly what I did ... not become a genius but put all my energy into my work ... and beautiful things have happened ever since, so in a way, she gave me good advice. 

I can still see her now, shaking her head at me and yet smiling in her eyes ... 'What have you been up to now?' And I would climb onto the chair in front of her big desk and start telling her the story. She would try not to laugh and the more she tried not to laugh, well, I just couldn't help myself.

I didn't tell anyone, because it would have ruined my street cred, but she lived near me and we used to walk to school together in the Winter when the roads were bad. 'With an imagination like that you could get in all sorts of trouble.' she would say. 'Or change the world.' I would reply.



Essentially, I suppose I am a Creative Thinker. That is, Creative thinkers instinctively think creatively, we live creatively, it's our life force.  I am a creative being. To ask me how I have all these ideas,  is like wondering how come a bird has so many feathers? or how can a fish can swim for so long? 

However, I am also a strategic thinker. I haven't always been. I was taught it by an exceptional Community Education Manager many years ago who helped me see beyond the limits of my own walls.

Creativity is not something I do, it is at the core of who I am. I do not see problems, I see creative solutions. 

Yes, granted, the solutions are usually quirky and outside the box but I don't try for them to be, they just are. I have won many awards for them as they are apparently also well planned and innovative and what's more, they are changing the world or at least making it a better place for those involved.


My friend's question has made me overview my practice & process of working.

Having reflected, I can see 4 categories emerging. 

My Work 
My Therapy
Work for Others
Supporting Others' Work

It has been very useful to review in this way as it has made me realise that I am not spending enough time on my own work ... What I mean by this is, my own creative projects as a writer, storyteller, poet, songwriter, artist. I expect there are many creatives that can identify with this.

Looking at the 4 categories has shown me that I spend 50% of my time helping others and only 25% of time on my own work, and though I love to help others, it is time to shift this balance and offer myself the same compassion and support. I recognise that helping others at the cost of my own work, is a dance I have easily fallen into throughout my life. I enjoy it.

Next blog I will talk about how, just by realising this, I have been able to make tiny shifts but great change, whilst maintaining the levels of compassion that are important to me.








Saturday, 4 November 2017

Celebrating Amy Wadge



I don't tend to do naming. I have worked in the Arts, the Music Scene and in Theatre my entire life and supported many people to get started. I love to do this. I don't need to tell everyone about it, it's just something I do.

Though there have been 1000's that I have supported over my 30 year career, I really want to celebrate the success of one person in particular because it is so utterly inspirational and has literally gone, stars the limit!

When I was in my early thirties, I decided to organise an Event called Women's Voices because it was very difficult back then to get gigs if you wrote your own stuff and were acoustic. 



I trawled the pubs and clubs and they wanted covers and an electric band, art centres wanted named acts. When I did manage to get gigs, I was heckled or barely heard over the ring of the till. So I set up Women's Voices at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff, to give a platform for women at different stages of their careers, to experiment in a nurturing environment.

Many of the women who took part, have gone onto have wonderful careers in the arts, music, bbc, novelists ... 

I am not saying that Women's Voices was responsible for this, but for sure, I created a nurturing platform for women to try out things they couldn't do elsewhere.


I contacted the local Welsh College of Music and Drama and spoke to the Dean, asking if there were any students that would like to join us. He told me about a singer/songwriter who had been in bands but that was writing some amazing songs in her own right as a solo artist. I said okey dokes, let's meet her and give her a spot.

She was a little thing, with a big mop of curly hair and a wide open smile. Sat in the chair, her guitar was almost bigger than she was. I believe it was her first gig performing her own material. Or at least one of the first, but you wouldn't have known. 



20 years later, I invited her back as our headline act at Celtic Womenfest. I was now Creative Director and Founder of a Women's Music Festival at The National Botanic Garden of Wales and she had been collaborating with a young lad called Ed Sheeran. He had just released an EP called 'Songs I wrote with Amy'.


For 2 years Amy came and took part in my Celtic Womenfest. The second year her and Ed were preparing to release a song they had written after a night out called Thinking Out Loud. Amy told us that it wasn't even originally going to be on the album, but Ed loved it and had managed to convince the record label to change the CD press and add it. I bet they are glad they listened to his instinct.



Watching Amy on facebook this last few weeks, flying off to Nashville where she is now recording her own album, gives me so much joy in my heart. Her story is evidence that the dream can happen. She has worked so hard and dedicated her entire career to her craft. She has 2 beautiful daughters and a lovely husband and juggles motherhood with a new life literally jet setting around the world.

You can read about Amy on her own website HERE

When we help each other, when we hold space for each other, when we genuinely celebrate each others successes, we are being the best part of humanity. Well done Amy. I am so proud of you. You have restored my faith in the Music Industry. Your journey shows us all that nice people, good people, great artists, dedicated artists, those who live and breathe their gift, are recognised. It is not just a big machine ... there is a heart in the music industry.






Thursday, 2 November 2017

I am a Butterfly





I am a butterfly

Butterflies dance 
from flower to flower
Each stem seems 
the most beautiful

But hang on ...

This flower over here 
is just as lovely
As the last

And in-between flowers 
Oh look, the view is magnificent

I can fly up
Or down
Sideways, around
I can even stay still
If I will it

Blend in
Stand out
Silently slip
Into your arena
Turn heads but
Never stay too long

I am a butterfly
Transition is 
My middle name

I may need to take stock
To catch my breath
Break free
From cobwebs

But once my spirit
Lifts me
I will fly again
For flying
Is who I am.





Sound Memories Dementia Friendly Radio



As Sound Memories Dementia Friendly Radio moves to Quiet Space Studio with me this week, there are some exciting things in the pipeline. 

Since March, I have only been well enough to keep the radio station ticking over but now that my mojo is tip toeing her way back (since my hearing aids) then it feels right to step back into the arena.

I have a number of projects that I have pitched for so watch this space and pray. I've got no core funding for this project and depend totally on contracts and good will, mostly mine! But it feels like such important work. 

I particularly want to develop the Environmental Soundscapes which we call Story Sound Maps but are actually Ethnographic Sound Maps as they are tailored to meet the sound backdrop of those living with dementia in our area, and the digital stories are then shared on the radio station for our 500 plus listeners to enjoy. Here's an example from a local farm of 2 very pregnant sows the day before the piglets arrived.


We also want to develop our inter-generational conversations through working in education following the success of our Voices of the Valleys Project earlier this year where I trained children from 7 schools, in the collation of oral histories and making of digital stories with the older community in Rhondda Cynon Taff. Here's an example ... 


           

I will leave you with this thought: Sound is the last memory to leave us. It is an old friend reminding us of who we are.




Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Crystal Mapping: Special Offer



I'm so excited to be training as a Crystal Therapist. I have my new training manual and all my crystals are charged up ready for my first residential next month. To celebrate the launch of this journey I have put together a very Special Offer.

30 Crystals that serve as a map to well being for your mind, body, heart, spirit & soul.

All my crystals were chosen with the guidance of my dear friend and Qualified Crystal Therapist Debbie Lawrence.



I have charged them all with the sound vibration of the gong and cleansed them with the loving light of reiki.




Each set of 30 crystals comes with a Crystal Map telling you which crystal is which and what ancient healing powers are attributed to that crystal. That's why I have individually wrapped them with the corresponding number.



The Special Offer price for a limited period is £25.00 plus postage. I know! Absolute bargain but it's not about money. I want you to be feel the excitement and benefit of owning such a uniquely beautiful set. When I am with my Crystal Map it fills me with joy so I just know it will you, too.

If you'd like one, get in touch HERE.