Relentlessly Positive David Bowie

Bowie

Relentlessly Positive David Bowie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve never been cool.

OK, there might have been a point around 1996 when I was a bit of a Britpop Princess with a hairdo modelled on Justine Frischmann from Elastica and a habit of dropping things like, “I saw Oasis when they were still playing sports halls” into conversation, but a couple of years later I was back to being uncool again and that’s where I’ve stayed ever since.

What’s all this got to do with David Bowie? Well, I was at a tribute to the man himself last weekend (that’s them, above). The band were really good and I had to smile because Moley said casually to the bloke standing next to us (who was more middle aged than us and kept nodding off) “I saw the real thing three times“…

Whatever you think of Bowie, you can’t deny the fact that he epitomised cool. And you know why? Because he decided he wanted to. When he decided he wanted to reinvent himself, he didn’t care what anyone else did, and when the rest of the world was getting the platforms and flares on and stomping to glam rock, he’d already got bored and moved on, killed off his alter ego Ziggy Stardust and started another one.

Bowie was cool because he was fantastically talented, because he tapped into whatever was going on musically, put his spin on it and moved on before everyone got bored with it.

 

 

So, what’s this got to do with being positive?

Fake it til you make it

It’s all about attitude and I’ve been reading a lot about ‘fake it till you make it’ lately. It’s no secret that I don’t always feel confident. It’s hard to project an aura of inner confidence if you’re chubby and let’s face it, fat girls are not supposed to be cool unless they are supremely talented. I can throw a few words together and I wrote a book once but that’s as far as it goes. But what about positivity and faking it till you make it?

I could invent my own alter ego to hide behind, and write blogs, books and all sorts under a pseudonym? Or maybe the concept of being confident, cool or just OK in your own skin is something that you just get when you stop trying to be what other people want you to be?

I have a dream that one day I’ll design a range of amazing plus size clothes. I have so many ideas. I love the idea of being a bit of a rock chick/indie girl, designing clothes for women who actually LOVE fashion and don’t want to just buy whatever is left at the end of the rack in Next in a size 20. The thought of it gets me so excited – except I can’t sew and I don’t know how to make patterns. And I haven’t done any fashion drawing for years.I’ve always been obsessed with fashion and I sometimes wonder if I’ve just made it impossible for myself to really get into it by getting bigger? Because I don’t know if I have the confidence to stand out in a crowd and wear things that other people don’t understand?

Maybe one day I’ll invoke my inner Bowie and design my very own uber-cool alter ego who wears whatever she wants and doesn’t give a stuff. Until then, there’s always Fashion.

 

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Russell Brand

…He’s my thing to be happy about today.

I used to think he was a bit of an arse, but today I’ve been listening to him verbally flattening Jeremy Paxman, who set out to make him sound like an eejit.

He’s a very intelligent man who knows how to use the word ‘Lachrymose’ and that makes me smile.

He also has mad hair and is very funny. Did you see the video of him turning a couple of American TV presenters into simpering idiots when they got him on to talk about his latest tour?

It’s not just the way he ties people in knots verbally that I admire. With everything he’s been though, the drugs, the drink, the Daily Mail hate-fest, the embarrassing phone calls with Jonathon Ross, the failed celebrity marriage, he still believes that we can change the world for the better.

I’ll even forgive him that daft week-long wedding with Katy Perry if he carries on impressing me. Got to love a clever man, haven’t you?

What are you afraid of?

May-Cause-Miracles1OK, so here goes.

I found myself in Waterstones again today, with my nose in book after book in the self help, mind body and spirit sections. What does that tell me? Probably that I’m not entirely in love with my life right now and that I’m still under the impression that all I need to do is read the right book and I’ll have it all sorted.

So I happened upon ‘May Cause Miracles’ by Gabrielle Bernstein and I made a deal with myself. “If I treat myself to this book, I’ll make a real effort to do all the things it says I should do. Even if every bone in my body is coming up with excuses not to.” Like it does. Every time.

I bought the book. I sat with a coffee in Caffe Nero and I read the first chapter. “Witness Your Fear” Eek! I don’t know if I want to! I reckon Gabrielle knows what she’s talking about – she’s been a binge eater and a drug addict and she now has a charmed life which she attributed to the techniques she learned with the help of, “A Course in Miracles” and some hard work. Needless to say, given that it only cost me about £2, I also downloaded that 365 day to-do list. It’s all very spiritual apparently but it’s been name checked by Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer so I think I’ll be in good company!

So as from Monday, I’ll be working through the book, day by day, and using changes in my thinking and actions to kick myself up the backside, nicely of course.

I’m also making a deal with myself to document the journey here. So – are you coming along for the ride? I really hope so!

The first chapter really hit me where I know I need to do some work. What am I afraid of? Me!

When I started to think about blogging my progress, the #1 fear that came up was that I was scared of letting people know who I really am! I have a blog called Relentlessly Positive but I’ve just had a truly shitty week and it’s knocked me for six. I didn’t feel positive. I also have a blog called Gorgeously Full Fat where I talk the talk about being plus size. But I don’t want to be the size I am. Honestly – I don’t want to be skinny either. Just a bit less fat. There, I said it.

So I feel like a fraud and I don’t like to be TOO honest about myself in case I lose followers, lose respect, or even worse, lose the desire to BE relentlessly positive or body-positive. I’m always a little scared of giving in to who I really am. Like a lot of people I have a mask, and I wear it a LOT. When I was single I used it to tell myself and the world I was sassy and single…but inside I was lonely and sad some of the time. I pretend I’m on top of things so that people don’t realise I’m having problems coping. I pretend I’m fine when I’m not. Why do I do it? I don’t know, but all these fears seem to lead back to one thing…I’m scared of people seeing my vulnerability. I feel like I have to do things myself, get myself out of any pickles I’ve got myself into, sort my own crap out.

On the plus side, I do love to think positive, I believe we attract and make our own luck a lot of the time and that misery really does breed company. I don’t want to be negative. It annoys the crap out of me. but I’m human, and when shit happens, I react to it in a less than serene way. I cry, I beat myself up, I over eat. That’s me!

Monday’s mission is going to be identifying other things that scare me. What am I actually afraid of, and what’s getting in the way of me being and doing all the lovely things I want?

Want to join in?

Read an interview with Gabrielle Bernstein here… May Cause Miracles

Sophie Garner

Sophie Garner – Genes

Sophie Garner

If you admire passionate but down-to-earth musical artistry, Sophie Garner’s got a few things to sing to you. Sophie, originally from Suffolk but now living in London, is a singer with an absolute passion and dedication to her art. When illness and surgery threatened to get in the way of her musical ambitions, she fought her way through and then set up her very own organisation and support network for singers who have undergone vocal surgery.

Her eagerly anticipated album, Genes, reflects a lifetime of blood, sweat, tears and inspiration and Sophie can’t wait to unveil it on record and on stage. “I’m a live performer,” she says, delighted that the chance to share her new songs has arrived. “I like it up close.”

I spoke to the lovely Sophie about the album, which is due to be released on 27th February, VoxOp and exciting future plans…

The inspiration for the album sounds incredibly diverse and very personal – can you tell us a bit more about what influences you musically as well as lyrically?

“My musical tastes are very eclectic.

“Everything I have ever listened to has influenced this album on a conscious and subconscious level. I was a punk in my teens and didn’t follow what my school friends were listening to at all. While everyone was into Duran Duran I was listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees and Jethro Tull!

“My album is as diverse as my musical tastes. Each song has it’s own identity and sound but the album as a collection works really well together. As this is my solo album my own life experiences are clearly played out in the songs I have written. I have deliberately avoided writing purely about love and relationships as often these can be really done to death, although clearly my songs contain such references.”

You must have been scared when you started to have vocal problems – do you think this affected the tone of the album at all?

“My vocal problems didn’t affect the tone of the album. What it did do though is create a really stressful environment in the recording studio where we were practically living for a year. I can recall a very difficult day when I just couldn’t get the right vocal down on one of my songs ‘When the mourning comes’ due to my vocal problems and I was getting more and more stressed.

“I ended up asking my producer and my partner/ co-writer to both go for a walk for an hour and leave the record button on and let me do it on my own. I turned out all the lights and just sang over and over again until I felt focused. I ended getting the best vocal for the track this way.”

How did VoxOp come about? Can you tell us a bit more about the group and how it can help?

“VoxOp was a result of going through the experience of a vocal operation in April 2010. Ask any singer what their worst nightmare would be and they will tell you having a vocal operation is top of the list. It was a terrifying time both emotionally and financially. My partner Paul and I nearly lost everything because we had invested our life savings in recording the album. VoxOp is the UK’s first and only singer support group for pre and post op singers and it’s a free service. We run meetings every month in London.”  www.voxop.co.uk

I love the fact that the first song you sang live after the op was ‘Rehab’ – how do you think your positive attitude has helped you get through the difficult times?

“After my vocal op I had a very strict vocal regime to adhere to. I found this actually made me quite positive about the future. Because it was baby steps I wasn’t dismayed by the slow progress. My vocal teacher was incredibly supportive at this time even waiving his fee on occasions because he knew how difficult it was for me financially.

“What I did find shocking was the total lack of support in aftercare for singers who have undergone surgical intervention. Setting up VoxOp helped me to focus on creating something really positive out of a negative experience.”

How did it feel to be the first person to play the O2 Arena?

“It was an incredible experience. I was supporting The Sugababes and McFly at the time. The plastic was still on some of the seats it was that new! My agent said to me ‘You do realise you are the first artist to perform on the main stage don’t you?’ Apparently I beat Bon Jovi and the official opening by a week!  It was a great feeling and one of the best live sounds I have ever had.”

Can you tell us a bit more about your other project, Sophie Garner Design ? Where can we find out more?

“I can remember watching TV on a wet Sunday afternoon when I was about 10. I saw a film featuring the 1940’s star Carmen Miranda. She appeared singing in all her bright coloured jewellery. That was it, I was hooked. A few years later, I began to wear 1940’s and 50’s vintage clothing, this continued up until around 6 years ago. As a result I have accumulated a great collection of fabulous original clothes and jewellery.

“I decided earlier this year to start making my own jewellery for wearing on stage and after getting many comments from friends and total strangers about my designs I decided to start my own business creating deco inspired modern perspex jewellery. I have also created a unique collection called Dazzling Dorris especially for Drag Queens who struggle to find bracelets to fit their wrists. I’ve already had four boutique shops asking to stock my pieces!

Find out more about Sophie at: http://www.sophiegarner.com/

 

 

Interview with the lovely Keris Stainton for Inspired Magazine

Inspired Essex Magazine

We love a bit of teen fiction at Inspired (guess who read all the Twilight books when she was 37?) and one of the rising stars of the genre is the wonderful Keris Stainton. We caught up with Keris as she prepared for the launch of her latest boo on June 7.

Keris spends almost all of her time tweeting, snacking, and drinking tea, but every now and then she knuckles down and writes a book for young adults. Della Says: OMG! and Jessie Hearts NYC are out now with Emma Hearts LA coming 7 June.

1. Keris, what was it that attracted you to writing young adult fiction?

“I had an idea, completely out of the blue, about a teenager. I loved writing that book so much that I’ve never really looked back.”

2. What books or authors inspired you when you were growing up?

“I loved Enid…

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Calm of Zero

“Liam Gallagher is lovely…”

…So says Sonya Aurora Madan, one half of song writing duo Calm of Zero, and former singer and lyricist of Echobelly.

Calm of Zero

Calm of Zero

It has to be said that when the opportunity to interview the lovely Sonya, who with her former Echobelly band mate Glenn Johansson has released two gorgeous Calm of Zero mini albums, I jumped at the chance. It’s not often you get the chance to chat to one of your heroines!

The most obvious question, after my gushing introduction that may or may not have involved the words “I was a big fan back in the day” was to ask Sonya what she, and the members of Echobelly, had been up to in the years since Britpop died.

“People have been coming and going from the band ever since the last Echobelly album, which was ‘Gravity Pulls.’ People were leaving to get married, have babies and come back again, but eventually we ended up back at the two original members, Glenn and myself. We’ve carried on making music all this time but we got together as Calm of Zero and released the acoustic sessions – one last year and one this year. We’ve done it on a bit of a lo-fi basis, although we’d love to get a full band together, but we just couldn’t stop writing so we needed to do something!”

The new material, which you can listen to at http://soundcloud.com/cozsessions1 and http://soundcloud.com/cozsessions2 is lovely, with what I picked out as folky and even a bit of a country influence, enhanced with Sonya’s distinctive voice.

The song writing routine is very regimented in Calm of Zero,  “Glenn writes the music and I write the lyrics.”

“No crossover at all?” I asked.

“No, none.”

If the last Echobelly track you heard was from the 1995 album ‘On’ then the voice might be the only thing that links Calm of Zero to their Britpop incarnation. Sonya, on the other hand, doesn’t think that the music’s changed that much.

“There’s always been an element of exploration to our music,” she stressed, and if you’ve heard the Echobelly back catalogue you’ll be able to see that there were a lot of unusual and experimental tracks on our B-sides and giveaways.”

I asked her about her favourite tracks from the Acoustic Sessions. “Still Running, the last one, is my favourite, I think,” she answered, then added, “But I like them all, really!”

Live dates?

There aren’t any immediate plans for live dates, although there has been the occasional gig every now and again “When we feel like it’s worth doing.” Because the band and its members aren’t shackled by a record company telling them what to do, they’ve been able to take things at their own pace, writing at their own leisure and doing their own thing. “There’s no point doing live dates unless people know about you, and at the moment we’re just trying to promote the acoustic sessions…maybe in the future.”

I asked Sonya what she thought of music at the moment, and if there were any particular bands she was a fan of.

“I listen to all sorts, really, but I’m not that excited about most of what’s going on at the moment.  I’ve just started getting into Led Zeppelin – I’d never even listened to them before, and now I’m like, they’re pretty good, aren’t they? I’ve started to appreciate their musicianship, their musical craftsmanship. It’s fun, getting into music I’m not used to.

“I’ve noticed that there’s a sort of underground, opposing movement going on, music is developing a bit of a folksy element.  I’m even listening to early folk music myself. I’m going back to my old influences, listening to music from the past and discovering things I’ve never really looked at before.” Sonya paused for a moment and then added, diplomatically, “But there’s room for everything, isn’t there?

Outspoken

Going back to the Echobelly years, Sonya had a reputation for being outspoken and opinionated, along with a few of my other heroines from the day. I asked her whether time had mellowed her.

“I was never that outspoken, really. If you look at the interviews from the nineties, we were all encouraged to be opinionated. We were quite often given a list of ten or so questions, the most pertinent replies and the replies most likely to get an extreme response were printed in the magazines and highlighted in bold or as headlines.

“The media loved to caricature people, and it was quite fun acting up and playing up to their expectations. For example, Liam Gallagher is lovely. He’s sensitive and kind, but that’s not something you’d expect to hear!  He was always portrayed as the bad boy, and he played up to it, but the person I knew when we toured with Oasis was nothing like his media image.”

The years have certainly been kind to Sonya, she barely looks older than she did when she was posing for the music press in the mid-nineties . I had to ask her what her secret was.

Glenn and Sonya“I don’t think I’ve ever really looked my age, but thank you!” She laughed. “It’s funny because I don’t really think about being older now. I don’t feel it. I suppose when you’re 18, you don’t think that you’ll get to 40 and you won’t feel 40. But when you do get older, it’s actually true. I really don’t feel my age. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had children yet?”

At this point, Sonya Madan, one of my biggest girl-crushes from the 1990s, and I get into a discussion about babies. Whether having kids makes you feel older or younger, whether I have any myself, and swapping notes about friends who now have teenagers and are getting back into feeling young again because they are keeping up with their teenage kids.

“The thing is, there are no rules any more. Even in the last couple of generations it’s changed so much and you don’t have to do what’s expected of you at a certain age. I think it’s great!”

I’m not sure how we got onto the subject, but I have to say I totally agree.

 

Why I love Leonie!

Leonie capeIt’s fair to say that 2012 has, for me anyway, been the year of Leonie.

Leonie Dawson, to be precise.

She’s an Australian super-human powerhouse of creative energy who embraces her woo-woo with pride, creates awesome workbooks and e-books that she shares with a tribe of ‘Goddesses’ and blogs about how freaking wonderful the world is.

I’m part of the Goddess Circle and I’m going to be working through the two 2013 Create Your Incredible Year workbooks to give me the creative boost that I need to get writer-girl Sarah out of her comfort zone and into a fabulous, successful business in 2013.

Reading Leonie’s blog posts always puts a smile on my face. I dare you to read the Goddess Guidebook blog and not grin from ear to ear. If you’re not utterly convinced that you need this woman in your life already, do what I did and read the blogs, download the freebies (the Biz and Blog Workbook is full of ideas for you if you want to build a business doing something they love, but don’t have pots of cash to spend on technology – or can’t give up the day job).

Then, come over to the Goddess Circle and get involved! One of my New Years Goals is to get more involved – there are Circles where you can talk about just about anything from getting creative to setting up your dream business, just offloading, sharing ideas, supporting other women and even joining the Kiva loans group.

Even if you just sneak a peek every now and again, she’s one of my hot tips for 2013.