The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

The Photo Shoot

Well this was a very, very exciting day for me. A photo shoot. Imagine me, me, having a photo shoot?! I had been trying on my outfits for weeks at home. Of course the additional weight gained over lockdown and holidays meant that a lot of clothes were tight and some were just too tight to wear. I had also spent months sourcing the jewellery I wanted. That Turquoise look, you know, it’s very ‘in’ in country music. I found some in very unlikely shops, thankfully, as the majority of what I wanted was only on sale in America and the cost of shipping was sometimes three times the amount of the item I wanted to buy. Thank you to Esty, Next and Amazon.

It was a dry day which was great as it had been raining most of the week before. We headed off to country park and we started the photo shoot. It was such fun once I got into it all. The photographer, Sean from Essay Photography https://essayphotography.co.uk/ was so good as putting me at ease and talking me through the various shots and directed me as to what to do, where to look etc. I had five outfits and had to run back to my car which was parked in the lane, to quickly get changed and update the jewellery I was wearing for the next batch of photos to be taken.

Once we had finished in the country park we headed into Digbeth in Birmingham to Norton’s Irish Bar. What a fabulous venue. I can’t believe I haven’t been there on a night out!!! The staff were amazing, so accommodating and eager to help with the photo shoot. Again, very exciting for me and at least this time I had the ladies bathroom to change my clothes in.

Standing and sitting up on the stage was amazing, I’ve not been up on a stage before. It filled me with such excitement and nerves. Once again, Sean was great at directing me and we have some absolutely fabulous shots from within Norton’s.

By the end of the day I felt like a real singer songwriter, almost like it’s not a dream anymore, I’m really making this happen and the right people are crossing my path to help me along in my dreams. We liked it so much at Norton’s we are going back there at the start of next month to film the video. There’ll be no talking to me I’ll be that hyper after filming a video.

Norton’s Bar https://nortons.bar/ If you are in Birmingham, drop in for a Guinness or a Jameson’s.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

The Makeover.

As you may be aware, I’m not a great woman for wearing make up. Never without my lippy but I rarely bother with anything else, I’ve always kind of gone for the more natural look. With the vitiligo increasing on my face and the video/photo shoot coming up I decided to try out some looks.

A long time friend of mine had trained as a make up artist and I love to follow her posts on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mann_jag/ Jag predominately does the make up for Asian wedding parties and she is a super hair stylist also. The universe working it’s magic, the day before I contact her to ask about a make up trial, Jag messages me about meeting up for a coffee and a chat. So we combined both. Jag was also eager to try out some western make up looks so that she can branch out into that market. We had a fabulous few hours together, we talked and talked, we tried out looks and she made my hair and face look amazing.

As you can see, Jag did a spectacular job. The make up wasn’t heavy, it felt light to wear and wow, look at how she brought out the blue in my eyes!! Jag was a fabulous teacher too. She explained to me how to put on various make up’s, the tips of the right products, where you don’t need to spend lots of money on applicators and how to get the right angles for photographs. It was such a lovely morning together and all day when I passed a mirror, I didn’t recognise myself.

I also bought some new make-up from Sculpted by Amiee https://sculptedbyaimee.co.uk/ and I’m now a firm lover of her products. Jag was impressed too. I bought the all in one beauty base moisturiser and primer with built in SPF and it’s just amazing. So light when applied and I wear it alone or with a touch of blusher. The blusher I purchased is the Peach Blush Pop from the Cream Luxe collection. Again, easy to apply, gives a pop of gentle colour and a little goes a long way. For the lips I bought the HydraLip in Peach and it’s a beautiful, soft balm which moisturises the lips. Once again I have followed the Sculpted by Aimee account on Instagram for a long time and I really wanted to try her mascara so I added my name to the waiting list. I wasn’t disappointed when I received one. Amazing product. Again, very light, gives the lashes the look of being full and strong, no clumps in sight.

Love Hearts too…

With the vitiligo increasing especially on my face, I have extremely white skin, as in snow white where the melanin has disappeared and then a tanned area where I have been in the sun. The make up I have chosen doesn’t totally cover up the vitiligo and that’s my choice. I wanted a light, subtle make up to give me a little additional confidence because sometimes people do take a second glance when they see the extreme white patches on my face. That’s fine. It is what it is. I enjoy wearing this make up, it’s light, easy to apply and remove and it gives me the look I wanted.

For information on Vitiligo visit the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitiligo/

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Morning Posts.

If you follow me on Instagram (and if you aren’t, why aren’t you?) you will know that most mornings I post a good morning story just to say hello to the day and to anyone who sees the story. I think it’s just lovely to say good morning to people and smile and most of the time it cheers the other person up, gives them a lift and for all we know, we might be the only person that has spoken to them that day. Now of course unless I do a video or post a photo of me smiling, you can’t see the smile but I hope that my morning snapshot of the view outside my door gives someone a different viewpoint or that the music I choose with the post gives them happy vibes.

Just recently we have had the most beautiful, hot and I mean hot, weather in the UK and my good morning photo’s have looked much better than the usual grey, possibly raining, or just very cold snaps I usually get to take. I have loved them so much I decided to share them on my blog for all to see.

I’m not a careful photographer, I point the phone and click and the two with the early morning sunshine I absolutely love. Those were taken at himself’s place when I’ve been over helping him care for his Mom. You can see from two of the photo’s that the grass has just become dry dust with the lack of rain. These true blue skies remind me of holidays either at home as a child with my cousins where we would lie on the ground, gazing up at the sky waiting for a cloud to pass or holidays abroad where the blue skies appear to be just endless.

Working in the sunshine.

I feel like I’m just chatting on now for no apparent reason, I’m just feeling so happy and at peace with life at the moment and it’s been a long time coming. The Summer sunshine, the music on the radio, the sound of the aircraft in the sky and sitting outside in my garden typing is just making me so happy.

There’s a country song which contains the lyrics ‘I’m a little drunk on you and high on summertime’. I think that today I’m a little drunk on life and high on summertime.

With love and sparkles xxx

Travel Sparkles ✨

Ibiza Sunset

Finally, after a three year wait we had our holiday to the beautiful White Isle that is Ibiza. I love this island so much. Actually it’s ten years since I was first in Ibiza with himself so really I’ve waited ten years to get back there with him. It’s such a pretty island and apart from the party central areas where the younger people go to dance and enjoy being young and free, the island is fairly quiet. Beautiful resorts and inland villages, a laid back vibe and bathed in the gorgeous Mediterranean sunshine. I am a Spain freak since I first visited Menorca with my Mom back in the 1980’s. I just love Spain.

One thing I have always wanted to see is the sunset in Ibiza. When we were there in 2012 we booked to go on the sunset trip but unfortunately the weather out at sea on that particular day was not good and the trip was cancelled. I visited again in 2014 with my friend and once again the sunset trip was booked. This time we actually got out on the trip but just before the sunset, the clouds appeared as did the thunder and lightening. It was amazing to watch from our vantage point out at sea but no sunset.

So, this year whilst we were there we decided to try again. The day of the trip was glorious, blue sky, not a cloud in sight but I wasn’t going to get too excited after what had happened in 2014. The bus picked us up and we travelled over to San Antonio bay. It was still a beautiful evening. We got on the boat, sipped sangria and the boat set sail. A warm sea breeze and we even had dolphins swimming next to the boat, the chill out music played and it was still a beautiful evening. The time of the sunset approached and the weather was in my favour. I seen my awesome Ibiza sunset and it was something to withhold. My photographs do not do this gorgeous sight justice.

I found this experience to be very emotional and spiritual. I could feel tears in my eyes as I watched the beauty of this event. The sunset was toasted with Cava and we sailed back to the harbour. I felt so grateful, blessed and happy that I finally got to witness this event. Of course, now I want to go again but there are other places to explore and other sunsets to see before I head back to my beautiful White Isle. Bucket list item ticked ✔

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

How does your garden grow?

With our wonderful British weather, the weeds have enjoyed many growth spurts. It sometimes seems that as you pull one up another appears in it’s place. I do find pulling weeds immensely satisfying and adds to the healing therapy I have discovered in gardening. Your mind wanders free and yet is still on the task in hand. You can see the fruits of your labour, in some cases, almost immediately which is very satisfying. I find that when I have cut the lawn and done the edging or weeded an area visible from the window, I keep looking out at my handiwork, priding myself on a job well done. I sometimes need a soak in the bath to ease the tired out muscles but so worth it.

Some of my parents plants have come into their own again this year. I’ve been looking after these plants for the past two years and some plants I put in myself have blossomed this year which made me so happy. Half the time I wonder if I have planted something upside down so for it to actually grow through the soil and then bloom is quite the achievement for me.

As you can see I even managed a small potato harvest. I have planted some more for the September harvest and I’m planning to sow some spinach and maybe try some beetroot. My Uncle has given me two varieties of green bean plants which are coming along nicely so fingers crossed. Himself prepared the potatoes following a Canarian Potato recipe as we had the various Canarian sauces from a previous trip to Lanzarote. Although I say it myself, those potatoes tasted fabulous.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Caffeine and Confidence

I do love my cup of coffee in the mornings, in fact I have two cups in the morning. Not huge cups of coffee and not strong coffee but I do love my caffeine fix. If you follow me on social media you probably know that I absolutely adore a skinny cappuccino and that’s a real treat to have one of those.

Confidence, well, that’s something I’m not so good at having on a daily basis. Some days I get up and I feel like I can take on the world and other days I wonder what on earth am I doing following a dream. Shouldn’t I just stop messing about and get a ‘proper’ job? The inner dialogue is incredible at times. Isn’t it amazing how we can talk ourselves in and out of doing things? Things become harder than we thought they would be so we say ‘oh well, this is too much work and for what, I’ll probably fail’ but what if we succeed and we have given up with the finishing line in the distance but just out of sight?

I have waivered over the past few months with the music career. I found researching the music licensing quite difficult. There was so much to read, so many takes on what should or shouldn’t be done. Thankfully I had decided to join the Musicians Union https://musiciansunion.org.uk/ some months ago and it was one of the best things I have done so far in my musical journey. The information is clear and precise and there is a lot of helpful information. I have also availed of some of their free webinars which have been invaluable to me as someone who has never been in the music industry before. I discovered which organisations I needed to join and why. I decided that rather than trying to do a little bit of everything at the same time, I should tackle one task at a time, in order. I was getting overwhelmed with everything, losing focus and getting downright confused. Taking things a step at a time worked for me.

I joined PPL https://www.ppluk.com/ which is the UK music licensing organisation and started to make my way through the membership process. The website is easy to navigate and again, lots of useful information. It is free to join (which is a bonus) and I know a lot of people would just tick ‘I agree’ to the various agreements you need to complete and sign but I have to read each one, every single term and condition and if I didn’t understand one I would research it. In my head I kept saying that with 130,000 members everything must be sound, I still had to check. Must be down to my prior roles in international law firms and my accountancy training. I just had to check. However, this became a long drawn out process for me. So much to read and research. Then when it came to completing the forms it was decision time. Did I want UK and Ireland or Worldwide? If I wanted to include Europe, France have a different music licensing system and I needed to select which one I wanted to collect royalties on my behalf. More research. I got that far and left the process for a while…

When I returned, my membership process had now split into three parts; performer, audio and video. More terms and conditions. At one stage I thought I had made a total balls up of the process and rang the membership enquires line. The lady I spoke to was fabulous. Very helpful, very friendly and she was interested in my story. I continued with the process, submitted everything and 24 hours later I received the emails to confirm that I was now a full member and licensed to play my music and videos containing my music. Oh my goodness, the excitement is unreal. It was so worth digging down into the research and learning about what I was doing. I also received my ISRC tag which is the unique identifier for each of my songs so that PPL can collect any royalites due on my behalf. And this is where I return to confidence. All through this process, which took me quite a while on and off, I wondered what I was doing and why was I doing it. When the memberships came through it gave me a huge confidence boost. I was a step closer to getting my music out there, to launching myself as a musician, a singer, a songwriter, on the world. It gave me the boost to start believing in myself more.

The next step is uploading my music to PPL and also choosing a music aggregation company in order to make my music available for purchase and streaming on the various music platforms. I had a look yesterday at ‘uploading your repertoire’. Let’s get the coffee on and I’ll come back to that!

Never underestimate the power of caffeine and confidence.

With love and sparkles xxx

Travel Sparkles ✨

Boomers

I recently stepped back in time to the 1940’s and 1950’s when I met a friend for lunch. We visited a beautiful tea room in the centre of Lichfield City in Staffordshire, UK. The downstairs is dedicated to the 1940’s and is decorated from that era with so much memorabilia you couldn’t possibly view it all in one visit. There’s even a very small, working, black and white television from back in the day.

Walk upstairs and you are transported to the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. Once again there is so much memorabilia I’ll definitely have to return for a second trip. A jukebox, free to use, containing some popular songs from the 50’s and 60’s. I was in my element playing Connie Francis, Del Shannon and Elvis amongst others. There were original newspapers, copies of Woman magazine, toys, games, records and I swear my Mom had some of those very brightly coloured glass fish (see picture below) adorning the living room when I was a child. There was an old fashioned, retro telephone on the bar and believe it or not, I have one of those at home that belonged to Mom and Dad in the 1970’s and it still works.

It was a wonderful experience being in this restaurant/tea room. There is just so much to discover. The food is also very, very good. A varied menu, from traditional old English fare of Rabbit Pie or Pheasant Stew and also Cod Fish Finger sandwiches. Delectable cakes and pastries and of course pots of tea. All the food is home cooked on the premises using fresh, locally produced produce. There is an extremely friendly welcome from the staff who make time for a chat when time allows. I’m so looking forward to another trip to Boomers. I can do more exploring of the memorabilia, enjoy delicious food and play that jukebox.

https://www.boomerslichfield.co.uk/

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

A Workout Gig

After just over two years I recently attended my first music gig since the start of the pandemic. I admit I was concerned about being in a sold out venue with at least 2,500 other music lovers singing and dancing. After what we have been through and how we so quickly got used to not mixing with others, touching others and dancing with strangers, what used to be the norm had become something of pure fear. I did wear my mask into the venue and soon realised that I was very much in the minority and once the show started, I didn’t see anyone with masks apart from a few staff.

The auditorium was large and airy, I had forgotten quite how large it was in the theatre. Once we had taken our seats the excitement was building and you could feel it amongst the audience. The most words I heard spoken all night was ‘I’ve not been out for two years’, we were all feeling the same sheer delight at being out at a Nathan Carter concert once more.

In the spotlight.

Claudia Buckley was the support act and this girl has come on in leaps and bounds since I last seen her in January 2020. Claudia has the most beautiful voice and a wonderful personality, she is well able to engage with the audience and sings a fabulous mixture of Irish country songs alongside old style country songs with a mixture of the newer country songs. Claudia had the audience well warmed up and happy awaiting the main event.

All the sparkles!

Next up was Nathan Carter and wow, was he on form and the band also. You could see how much they were enjoying being back on stage singing, playing their music and interacting with the audience. It was amazing to be there, to experience the sheer joy in the theatre from everyone. The staff that they were back at work, the band that they were out playing their music again, the audience singing and dancing and smiling and even the security, who try as they might could not keep people in their seats, from early on we were up dancing. It felt like freedom.

Talking about dancing, I have no idea what kind of jumping around I was doing but my Fitbit was convinced of the following…

It was a fantastic night, I think I was on a high for days afterwards. I did manage to get a few quick videos of the evening. Rather than be behind my phone taking photos and videos I decided to just embrace the whole show as it unfolded. Just like we used to. From what I could see around me, people tended to stay within the groups that they had attended the concert with. In the past we would have all joined hands and sang and danced but we were careful. I had antigen tests everyday for the next week and they were all negative. Bring on the next gig!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-4a2trg4SU

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/RzSAyod67S4

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Everything Changed

This made so much sense to me.

I seen this quote recently and it spoke volumes to me. Everything in my life changed, absolutely everything and yet here I am feeling more me than I ever did before. How does that even make any kind of sense? Yet it makes perfect sense. I’m still the woman I was before and yet I have emerged into a new me. I’m still emerging into a new me. I know we change as we grow, as we experience life, as life happens to us. Perhaps our values and our truth do not change, the core that is us as a person, that may bend and shape as we live through experiences and learn life lessons. But there is something about this emergence which has a feeling of this is the me I was always meant to be. That in turn makes me wonder if this new me was always hidden within, never daring to come out and in latter years when I was in my caring role, there was no time or space to come out.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

I have a sense of freedom, a real sense of freedom that I’ve not experienced before. Sometimes this sense of freedom is scary; that protective wall of having someone to ask about decisions you are making, someone to check that you are not totally off the wall in your thinking or in what you are about to do. My parents were fabulous soundboards. Even if I still went off and did what I was going to do, it was very useful to bounce my ideas off them first and I would take their responses on board before I made the final decision. When I was making my decision about giving up work to care for them, I had a meeting with their Doctor and told him what I was thinking of doing and why. I’ll always remember him saying that he could see both Mom and Dad within me. Dad in weighing things up, deliberating and making decisions and Mom as this amazing, wild, spirited woman. I think that is the most wonderful thing anyone has ever said to me and I love that I have their traits. Without me knowing or realising, they instilled strength and independence into me and that undoubtedly has helped me through the past couple of years.

I do of course have himself to bounce my ideas off and he is very like Dad in his thinking. He is a very logical and analytical thinker where as I go with the inner voice and ‘it just is’ so as you can imagine we have some amusing conversations when I’m discussing plans with him. However, he will point things out to me that I may not have thought of and he would never try to prevent me carrying out what I want to do, he just wants to be sure I have thought it through. He can see the pre-carer me coming through and also this new free spirited, I want to try loads of things me that is emerging.

Stay Wild Moonchild.

From school days there were always people saying I shouldn’t be singing and dancing around the place, I was too bubbly, I was wild, I wasn’t ladylike and I suppose the more you hear this the more you believe it. The negative words which affected my confidence for most of my life. Until you realise the issue isn’t with you, it’s with them. There’s a huge sense of freedom in this realisation and I have seen many a quote state that someone’s opinion of you has nothing to do with you but all to do with them. Sometimes I regret not having this new found confidence years ago but then again, perhaps now is my time to shine. Stay wild moonchild.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Confidence

Photo taken 21 2 21

Last year I really pushed the comfort zone and did three Facebook live performances, two for thirty minutes and the final one for an hour. I was nervous, scared, excited, thrilled and I thoroughly enjoyed each one. I had between twenty and thirty people watching the lives and afterwards the saved videos had hundreds of views and such wonderful, encouraging comments. During the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 I regularly did a ‘Happy Monday’ chat on Instagram. I didn’t chat about anything in particular. A little like my blog, I would just chat away about whatever came to mind. Again, I would receive numerous messages telling me how I brightened up a day, or I made someone laugh or just that they enjoyed the chat as if I was just chatting away to them. All good, I was delighted and then it all stopped and I have no idea why. Was it because life started to open up again and there was less time spent at home? Why did I no longer have five minutes to chat, ten minutes to record myself singing a song and post it online? Or did I just stop believing in my ability to do these things?

Note to self.

I admit that the weight I gained over the last six months of last year did not help me with getting out there singing. I’m not a super confident person but I can blag it and appear confident and then I get into my stride and I’m ok. However I appear to have lost the ability to even blag it. As you may have read from previous posts I have taken my diet and fitness in hand and I’m getting there. I have so many plans in my head for the things I want to do yet I always find an excuse not to do them. My hair isn’t done or I’m not wearing make up so I won’t sing into the phone. That didn’t stop me in 2020, I just did it. I have my self penned songs recorded and I have chosen one to release as a single. I want to get some professional photos done for the single artwork and just to put out there to promote my music. I have researched photographers, video makers, music aggregators and music licencing and yet I have done nothing about these things. I’m wondering what I am afraid of? I know this isn’t any easy profession and I know I have to work hard and I’m not afraid of that. I love singing and from the feedback I get, people love me to sing. I can visualise myself up there, on a stage singing my heart out and being so happy doing it, yet I’m scared to actually do it. Is it a case that I am more comfortable with the dream than actually making it happen? The thought of actually taking the steps to make this dream come true fills me with delight, excitement and sheer sparkle and yet that little voice of fear saying ‘what makes you think people want to see/hear/listen to you’ is getting more attention in my brain than the positive thoughts.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I really do want to sing it out with my whole heart and soul, I want my moment in the spotlight, I want to see and hear people singing and dancing along with me. I want to share my music, I want to give people happiness, a giggle and to make them feel good. So, I suppose I really do need to get out of my own way and make things happen. Ok world, get ready, I’m coming…

With love and sparkles xxx