If music be the food of love, play on.

To say that 2017 has been somewhat ‘challenging’ would be a massive understatement. I feel emotionally, mentally, physically (though, that’s mainly down to eating my way through a lot of Nandos across the year apparently – as my tax return likes to point out) DRAINED. ZAPPED. Most definitely ABSOLUTELY like a lot of people – I have very much struggled this year. I have, at times, felt like I’ve been drowning… engulfed by a sea of political shit-storms, financial instability, professional uncertainty, all too fleeting waves of success, overwhelming social scenarios and all round anxiety, at times, that I may potentially be what people like to call ‘a failure’. One minute, I’m riding high. The next, stood in standstill ‘life traffic’. In a deep pit without a rope ladder.

2017 disguised itself as a massive steel-capped boot that walked on over to my already batshit crackers, extreme highs/lows life… and gave me the biggest kick up it’s ass. And boy, did it bloody hurt.

I do, however, want to share my experience with the emotional ibuprofen that I so often bang on about. An antidote.

To say that Music has saved me would sound dramatic to some but it has done just that. Through various jammy ways, working as a muggle for the majority of my year, this year I have witnessed a lot of live music. A lot of fucking GREAT live music, for the mortifyingly bargain price of handing out drinks samples and showing people to their seats.

And on every single occasion that I have been in the crowd, listening intently, I have asked myself:

‘Is there really any pain that cannot be relieved by the power of Music?’

I mean, even Justin Bieber helped me deal with a particularly dodgy life event. And on that note…

Growing up, I have always taken great pride in how diverse my taste in music is. There’s very little that I actively detest when it comes to musical genres. I even enjoy myself a bit of country nowadays, tripping to Nashville being a huge contributor to that. I stood on the Ryman stage where Johnny Cash proposed to June Carter and fell head over heels in love with the sucky, tragic romance of it all.

I’m reminded of memories through music, being the nostalgic tit that I am.

This year I saw Celine Dion in concert. It immediately took me back to winning my Primary School talent show singing My Heart Will Go On and listening to the Let’s Talk About Love cassette with my Papa, in a holiday  apartment in Turkey, way back when.

I saw The Killers and it took me back to Leeds Festival 2008.

I saw Green Day and it took me back to the Music Room in Secondary School, where I’d attempt to play drums to Wake Me Up When September Ends without flaring my nostrils – don’t ask.

I watched Blondie for a second time in my life, Phil Collins, Tom Petty two months before he tragically died, Stevie fucking Nicks, Elbow, Madness, Kings of Leon (who were shite but hey ho – free show)… all in the space of a Summer.

October came along. I turned up to work to find that I was, in fact, working a Morrissey gig. I’m gonna be honest, I say ‘work’. I did very little work that day.

Now I understand Morrissey is a marmite kinda guy. I watched as radio management had kittens whenever he mentioned anything remotely political or unjust, live on air. But you cannot deny that his voice is quite close to literal magic.

Material wise, his new album cannot be put in the same bracket as his classic hits with The Smiths. In fact, I can only really remember possibly one song he sang that day and I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed, upon reflection afterwards, that he didn’t whip out This Charming Man at the very least.

But what I do remember is being truly captivated by the presence of that geezer onstage. I remember hanging on his every word, hanging on every chord… absolutely fascinated by him. Fascinated by how he creates sad, folky tones and then unleashes a jazz-style vibrato to keep you guessing.

I remember taking in the crowd and how united everybody was. United and caught up in the same  moment. Amazed by how a voice like that can transcend the years and appeal to people in both their 50s and their 20s. I’ve never felt a connection like it throughout my years of going to gigs.

I left work that day on the highest of highs, with the realisation of how powerful music can be in bringing people together. I checked my phone and was greeted with the news of the Las Vegas shootings. I then got really fucking angry that the solace of music, for those people caught up in the awful happenings in Vegas, had been abused and tainted. Likewise with the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester and Eagles of Death Metal in Paris.

Because that’s exactly what music is to a lot of people, what it has been to me this year and what it will continue to be for years to come, regardless of the arseholes out there who have tried to stop this from being the case.

Solace.

Sanctuary.

A getaway car.

We celebrate with music. We grieve with music. We fall in love to music. It’s personal. It’s relatable. There is always one song that fits a moment and that is the beauty of it.

In true ABBA style, I’d like to say thank you for the music. I love you.x

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HOW BIEBER GOT IT RIGHT WHEN HE SAID ‘YOU SHOULD GO AND LOVE YOURSELF’ AND THAT TIME I TOOK ADVICE FROM A PACKET OF LOVEHEARTS – a Jessica Daley essay on enduring the so-called ‘Quarterlife Crisis’.

A. I watched Justin Bieber on Sunday night and surprisingly really enjoyed his set. The boy can daaaaaance, even if he does wear shit yellow hoodies.

B. Today I caught myself taking advice from a packet of Love Hearts and had to have a word with myself. The first LoveHeart actually hilariously read ‘Grow Up’.

C. I then found this old essay that I typed up last year, written during a time I was struggling a bit and assumed it was what we nowadays call ‘The Quarterlife Crisis’ (read on for a definition). I thought it’d be funny to share it, as though the Love Hearts weren’t a big enough indication that I’d officially lost my shit. Enjoy my moany, cranky 24 year old self. xo

Well, where do I start on this topic? The Quarterlife Crisis.

A little bit of background info. For the past couple of years, I think since around the time I graduated from drama school and became a fully-fledged adult living in the big bad world, I’ve struggled at times with the whole concept of ‘growing up’. My first year out included enjoying my first West End job, an experience that was all too new to me. I was being paid a proper wage, I was responsible for paying my rent and my bills and for the first time, I was fully in control of my own life. I confess, as a result of being in charge of myself, I spent the majority of my wage on socialising, TOPSHOP and a bloody cracking trip to the U.S. But yes, it was the beginning of my life as an adult, my time to stand on my own two feet and my time to become independent.

Cut to the present moment. I’ve been ‘adulting’ for around two and a half years and I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked for the majority of that time. If I haven’t been acting, I’ve been waitressing or teaching or gigging or working behind the bar in a pub. I’ve even sat in Somerset House; in a full black suit, in painful heat with no air conditioning, guarding paintings. GUARDING BLOODY PAINTINGS. So yes, when it comes to my professional working life, that pretty much sums it up. It’s inconsistent, spontaneous, sporadic/insert all of the similar synonyms here. I’m currently sampling a well known drinks brand at British Summertime Festival, which is one of the greater ‘muggle’ jobs I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in.

But to get back to the point…

My lifestyle has drastically changed since graduating, the above is the obvious example of this. It’s the not so obvious examples that I’ve seemed to have a problem with. I think the easiest way to explain is to just throw down a list, so here we have it:

  • My body has changed. This is my biggest issue, probably like most girls my age. It’s painfully bloody annoying that I can no longer wear the same stuff I wore during my college years because I NOW HAVE BIGGER BOOBS. Not to mention that Topshop never bloody catered for dancer thighs anyway, my thighs are now bigger than they were. All this stuff, by the way, may not be obvious to everybody but it bloody well is to me.
  • Because I’m no longer dancing everyday like I was at college, I find it extremely difficult to keep fit because THE GYM IS SO FRIGGING BORING. I’m sorry to all the gym lovers out there but I just can’t detest it more, I have to force myself to go with the whole ‘if you go do this HIIT session, you can celebrate with food!’ thing. Then a friend of mine recently told me that HIIT doesn’t necessarily work for everybody. So now, I feel like I’ve tried almost everything and nothing seems to work anymore.
  • My metabolism’s crapper now than it was and I LOVE food. Self-explanatory.
  • Hangovers. Don’t get me started on hangovers. The intensity of the hangover now, compared to a hangover at age 21, is unbearable. I consider not drinking anymore every time I’m bedridden, the day after the night before. But, before long, I’m back with an Old Fashioned in hand. I guess it’s one of my favourite ways to socialise, I definitely know I don’t have an addiction as I could go without if needed. But I do enjoy a cheeky cocktail to unwind. I definitely don’t drink alcohol as much as I did three years ago though, so that’s a plus.
  • I’ve started to worry about everything. Anxiety is a word thrown around quite a lot these days (I think that it’s bloody great that people have started to open up and talk about it more so now than ever, if I’m being completely honest), I know, but I get anxious at least once a day about something or other. I worry about not being liked, looking bad, whether I’ll ever work again, people thinking I’m rubbish at my job, pissing people off without knowing I’m doing it, being annoying or letting people down without knowing I’m doing it, being alone for the rest of my life, people not wanting to be my friend, trusting people, not being successful in my career, the fact I seem to have been blessed with a double chin recently, dying unfulfilled, not saving money whilst I’m in work, **MONEY** – that’s a frigging HUGE one at the moment, losing family or friends (even when they’re perfectly healthy), thinking I have my shit together when in fact, I really don’t…. the list goes on and on and on and is pretty damn stupid. I even worry about maybe having early signs of dementia because I’m quite forgetful sometimes… I blame Grey’s Anatomy for that one.

    I also think social media has a massive part to play in all of this. I swear it all stems from the ‘Top 8 Friends’ thing, back in the days of MySpace. That AWFUL feeling of paranoia and worry when you found you’d been demoted to 6th place, from 3rd place, on a dear friend’s Top 8. What did this mean? What have I done? Do they hate me? ARGH ARGH ARGH.

You laugh at how stupid it sounds but you know it’s bloody true.

Nowadays it’s ‘WHY DOESN’T HE LIKE MY FACEBOOK STATUSES ANYMORE?’ or ‘WHY HAVE THEY UNFOLLOWED ME ON TWITTER?’ or ‘SHIT SHIT SHIT, I LIKED ONE OF HIS PHOTOS FROM A YEAR AGO ON INSTAGRAM, HE’LL THINK I’M STALKING HIM’.

I mean, WOE IS ME. How sad am I? Sad and self-involved and just so frustratingly anxious about knowing it too. I can pretty much say that all of the above is 100% to blame when I’m feeling unhappy and I can’t tell you how much it really, really, REALLY pisses me off. It’s like my mind can’t keep up with what my body’s wanting to do and everything is just too overwhelming to deal with sometimes.

Is this what they call the Quarter-life Crisis? For those who are not familiar with this phrase:

quarterlife crisis

/ˈkwɔːtəˌlaɪf/

noun

1.

a crisis that may be experienced in one’s twenties, involving anxiety over the direction and quality of one’s life
– taken from dictionary.com

Abby Wilner, an author, apparently coined the phrase back in 1997, when she moved back home after graduating and couldn’t figure out what to do with her life.

How the hell do I get out of whatever hell hole this? I know I’m not enjoying it one little bit, I’m curious to know how I’ve come to be like this and I’m dying to get out of it, ASAP. It’s like that part at the beginning of the Shrek movie when all of the fairytale characters move into his swamp without asking him and take over, pitching their tents and hopping into his bed. I mean, this is probably the only instance where I’d market myself as Shrek, aside from when I’ve hit a low point with a tub of ice cream and a spoon on my sofa, but that’s exactly how I see it. Thoughts and worries invading my head at all times and I can no longer use the excuse of being ‘young and stupid’ to get away from them.

As a result of this, I’ve taken it upon myself to develop a love for the Self-Help section in Waterstone’s. Though I haven’t quite reached the Bridget Jones level of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, I’ve actually learnt a lot so far from the work of modern authors.

I started this ‘self-analysis’ journey with You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. This was a real game changer for me. I was doing a bit of unhealthy, ‘I have no money but I’m gonna buy things anyway’ shopping and came across this in Urban Outfitters. I’d not exactly been on the look-out for any self-help if I’m honest, I knew I was miserable but didn’t really know how or what I could do to solve it. On first glimpse, the title caught my eye but because I thought it sounded really wanky. After reading the blurb, and the first few pages, however… I was sold. I don’t want to give away the entire book but it focuses a lot on our energy, being present in the moment and self-belief, being happy with your individual self.

More recently, I picked up a copy of The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**k by Sarah Knight at Heathrow airport, before embarking on a thirteen hour flight to Japan. The title got me from the minute I laid eyes on the front cover, as I often care too much about what people think and I’m constantly filled with FOMO – the fear of missing out. The front cover also states what this specific book was designed to do: ‘How to stop spending time you don’t have doing things you don’t want to do with people you don’t like’. There’s a particular page inside that contains a flow chart headed ‘Should I Give A Fuck?’. It’s pretty fricking genius, giving guidance on when to give or not give a fuck, how to not be an arsehole about it and using your ‘Fuck Budget’ wisely. The F word is present in just about every single sentence. I’ve realised that I actually give too much of a fuck about silly things sometimes, as you would probably have got from my list of worries.

Also, and what I feel has been the ultimate life changer for me, I found myself obsessed with The Inner Fix. Written by the dream team known as Addictive Daughter, Persia Lawson and Joanne Rayner, this is a book that taught me that I have to get to the root of my shit in order to fix it. I don’t want to write much more as I’ll spoil it but just know that if you feel that you have shit you need to deal with that you’ve put off for years, this is the book you should be turning to for help.

In the past, I’d have felt ashamed to be sitting here admitting that I’ve turned to the art of ‘self-help’, seeing as though I have never been diagnosed with any serious illness nor do I claim to have any ‘real issues’. My childhood was filled with love and support, my parents encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do and, as I’ve previously written about on my blog, the first time I have endured grief of any kind was earlier this year when I lost my dog. Sure, later on in life, I’ve been faced with endless amounts of rejection via my job, my parents divorce and witnessing friends and family facing battles with addiction and depression but, overall, I’ve been ‘ok’.

Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

It’s only recently that I’ve come to believe that, by maybe looking after myself a bit more, I could be more than just ‘ok’. When I’ve delved a bit deeper into the art of self-care, it turns out I have some serious business to tend to. And you know, at 25 years old, that’s ok. I’m ok with that. These are my first tiny little steps towards sorting my shit out and I’ve found that, over the course of the year, they’ve changed my thought processes a lot. Super exciting.

P.S Waterstone’s, I’ll see you soon for some more stalkage of your Self-Help section. I’m due a visit.

Melbourne // Photo Series

My love for street art knows no bounds and Melbourne was certainly not short of the stuff. Be still, my hipster beating heart. Magical.

The World Loves Pigeon-holes and I Don’t Know Why: I understand this title is weird.

This is the first post that I’m about to ‘free write’, so far in my new blogging expedition. From this point onward, I have no agenda. I have no planned analogy to share, or story to tell about a lesson I have recently learnt. I’m taking a leaf from my own ‘pro-creativity’ book. I’m taking a curious step out of my comfort zone and I’m just going to willingly write and share what comes out, right now, in this moment.

Today, we lost an icon. David Bowie.

icon
ˈʌɪkɒn,-k(ə)n/
a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration
David Bowie was an icon. He was a singer. He was a songwriter. He was a musician. He was a record producer. He was a painter. He was an actor. He was, in the words of British Vogue, ‘unarguably fashion’s king of self-invention’. He was, creatively, pretty much everything. He broke down walls. He took the things that made him stand out for being ‘different’ and, instead of disguising them to fit in with the times, he made them more obvious. He embraced them, he highlighted them and he exaggerated them.
Now I won’t babble on about the legend that is Bowie much longer, but he is a damn fine example of how greatness can be achieved creatively. What does it take to be like that, to be like Bowie? Do many of us have incredible ideas buried deep inside our brains that we personally think are completely stupid, but could actually turn out to be a stroke of genius? How will we ever know if we don’t test the water? Is the key to creative success a combination of an initial idea and… plain old bravery?
On a personal level, I don’t think my ideas are good enough. I compare my ideas to those of others far too often. I am my own worst critic. Majority of the time though, I am my ONLY critic. My opinion is one single opinion. There are many times that I have disagreed and debated over various films, pieces of theatre and books with my peers. So who am I to say that my own idea is bullshit, when somebody else out there could think ‘Now, hang on. I think we’ve got something here’? Somebody else could have a different opinion to my own. Is that so daunting? If so, then why is it so daunting? Creative ideas are only developed and constructed further when they are opened out to a wider audience, when they are put up on their feet, when fresh eyes are unleashed upon them. Why wouldn’t we want to develop our ideas?
I’m currently burying my head in various books, one being Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. A stand out quote, so far:
“Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others. Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way.”
What I take from this is that I need to man the F up, take that idea that I think people will think is stupid and put it out there. Invest my time into it, inject some love into it and feed it. Give it a life outside of my own head.
Another thing. What I feel David Bowie did, over the course of his life, was to not give people an easy job when it came to defining him creatively. One minute he was trying to make it as a popstar, the next he was inventing the incomparable alter-ego Ziggy Stardust and after that, he was busy carving himself a successful film career… just a couple of MANY creative routes he decided to go down. People were all ‘oh David Bowie, he’s a singer. Oh shit, no he’s an actor. Oh shit, no… he’s… what is he?’.
He just existed. He existed and he produced truly original works of art. He, himself, was a work of art. One of a kind.
Today, we are living in a world that likes to label and pigeon hole people. Stereotypes are rife. They are absolutely EVERYWHERE. In the media, in the industries we work in, in the towns we live in.
Creative pigeon-holing is all round, to put it politely… a bit poo. Creative people are usually free spirited, always jumping at opportunities to try absolutely EVERYTHING. So any form of restriction is frustrating, being labelled for being a particular kind of anything can be a tiny annoyance in what is an all-round, fantastic life we may be leading. It may not be even that we want to go down that ‘different from the norm’ route, right here and right now, THIS INSTANT… but it would be just nice to know that the option IS there to have the opportunity to try something new, when we do fancy it.
The truth is… sitting around being bitter and complaining about it will not solve anything. You can post all of the Facebook statuses/tweets in the world about how frustrating it is to be stuck in a pigeon-hole… but that’s not actually making a smart move towards identifying how to, perhaps, solve the problem. So, how do we get around this pigeon-hole bad boy?
We have to get off our asses and create some shit for ourselves.
The one thing people can’t restrict you from doing is creating in your own time. Let’s face it, if you want something badly, you will, more times than enough, do anything to get it.
e.g. I will save up a month’s wages for those Kurt Geiger thigh high boots and I will be living off beans on toast for the foreseeable, as a result.
Beans on toast.
Why should our creative lives be any different? (This is the part where you ignore the beans on toast bit and pretend you never ever read it. ‘Twas only added for dramatic effect. They do look good though.)
Speaking from the area of my chosen career path:
You want to be in a straight play and can’t get seen? Write your own. Or investigate new writers who need people to read through bits and bobs. Experience is everything, if anything!
You want to play a villain when you haven’t a bad bone in your body? Watch all of the Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock, Tarentino you need. Read all of the books. Learn those evil monologues.
Can’t find the particular colour scarf you want? Learn how to knit and knit one yourself.
You want to be in a rock band but you sing like Julie Andrews? Broaden your musical vocabulary. Sing Paramore in the shower. Blast Royal Blood in the car. Listen to the greats, starting with David Bowie.
Be Bowie in a world full of contoured faces and man buns and all that in-season rubbish.
Be one step ahead of the game. Be a creative mastermind and play people at their own game.
Earn the right to be looked at in different light, prove your worth. The key to success is hard work and determination, and all that bollocks.
EDUCATE YOURSELF. PREPARE YOURSELF. SURPRISE YOURSELF. SHOW YOURSELF OFF.
Lord above, I’ve surprised myself. I didn’t know I’d end up here at the end of a free-write…

Bowie: a collection of quotes.

I’m an instant star. Just add water and stir.

I’m always amazed that people take what I say seriously. I don’t even take what I am seriously.

I’m not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I’m living on.

I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, “Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.”

I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.

NEW YORK - 1973: Rock and roll musician David Bowie poses for a portrait dressed as 'Ziggy Stardust' in a hotel room in 1973 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

David Bowie
1947 – 2016

RIP – a true artist.x

Feel shit? Dance it out. v.1

Now, it’s no secret that one of my favourite TV series is Grey’s Anatomy.

For those who are unaware, Grey’s Anatomy is a U.S medical drama that was specifically designed to destroy souls. Ok, that’s not true. It’s incredibly well written by the talented Shonda Rhimes. So well written that you actually believe that the characters are a part of your life; you look for them in bars, you try to call them when you cut your finger open whilst chopping up your sweet potatoes etc etc… You become so connected to these people that, when one of them makes a ‘dramatic exit’ (no spoilers obviously), you go into mourning for a whole week. Full on mourning and I’m not even joking.  Also, you start to believe that you are an actual doctor. I was convinced for some time that I could probably muddle through a pulmonary heart valve replacement. Luckily, nobody’s ever asked me to perform one for them…

But one thing that I have definitely learned, as a result of watching all 12 and a bit series (so far) of Grey’s, is how to dance it out. 

This is one of the many ways I use art to deal with things that life throws at me, as commented on in my recent post Art. Is. Important.

Last year brought me a few rejections and a few tricky situations. These rejections and tricky situations brought me anger, frustration and upset. A lot of the time I was able to deal with situations logically, after thinking about them for a time and making a few wise decisions. At other times, I felt helpless. I had no clear idea of how to solve the issues without still feeling a little bit angry, frustrated or upset.

When the characters in Grey’s Anatomy feel like this, they put their earphones in and dance it out. On one particular day, when I felt completely hopeless, I suddenly had the idea to follow in the footsteps of my best mates from Grey’s. So I put in my earphones, opened up Spotify and I danced. Like, full on throwing myself around the kitchen as Phoebe from Friends probably would, that type of dancing.

And for that time that I was alone, dancing around my kitchen to the sounds of Taylor Swift – 1989 (I am not ashamed), the horrible situation that had been eating me up and shitting on my day ALL DAY LONG seemed to slip my mind for around 25 minutes. It felt, along with absolutely hilarious, absolutely CLASS.

Since that day, I have made it a thing to dance it out whenever I feel remotely shitty about myself. It sounds daft, I know, but I’ve found that it helps me to not take myself too seriously. Dancing it out is probably my way of telling myself to ‘GET OVER YOURSELF’.

Anyhow, the point of this post is to essentially share my favourite ‘throw yourself around the kitchen or a huge clear space’ songs. So here they are. Be warned:

  1. The Jam – A Town Called Malice
  2. T. Rex – I Love to Boogie
  3. Barry Manilow – Copacabana
  4. Taylor Swift – Shake it Off (obv)
  5. Daryl Hall & John Oates – You Make My Dreams
  6. Blondie – Atomic
  7. The Smiths – This Charming Man
  8. House of Pain – Jump Around (that one’s for my mam, she loves that bit in Mrs Doubtfire)
  9. Madness – Baggy Trousers
  10. Arctic Monkeys – I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor

Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it folks.

I obviously hold no responsibility for personal injuries or accidents. Oh and don’t blame me if you lose two months of your life binge watching Grey’s Anatomy, I’ll deny all accusations.