Life Sparkles

Monday, here we go…

And it’s Monday again, how fast do the weeks roll by? I cannot believe we are saying hello to December later this week and it seems unbelievable that Christmas songs are on the radio and the Christmas films are on TV already. Time goes by so fast. When we are younger it seems to take an age to grow up, to be an adult, to do things we see our elders doing. Yet when we get to adulthood we start to understand that as nice as it is to do what we want to, being an adult isn’t that easy and along with the happy times we also encounter some very hard and sad times.

It’s a wake up call when someone we love passes away and it brings home to us our own precious life and how fragile it actually it. It really is a case of being grateful for each day we are given, living life to the best of our ability, being positive, sharing our sparkle with others and absolutely loving Monday.

Good Intentions.

Monday’s are like mini New Year’s, it’s a fresh start to the week, it’s best foot forward time to work on our dreams, hopes, goals and passions. Monday truly sparkles, without having Monday we can’t work our way around to that feel good Friday. Have the most amazing day and a wonderful week.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle.

Pairc Festival

Way back in August, the late bank holiday weekend, I attended the very first Pairc Festival in Birmingham. Our Birmingham Irish Centre moved from the city centre to South Birmingham just before the pandemic started. The Digbeth area of Birmingham, historically the Irish area of the city, is being hugely redeveloped. It’s like a maze trying to get around that area at the moment with all the building and road works, you really feel like you are going around the block numerous times to reach your destination.

People were not happy at the move. The city centre is easily accessible for people who live around the city and the suburbs and for people coming from other parts of the country to events. However, the new club has a huge open sports ground and park area and this is where this first ever Birmingham Pairc Festival was held over the August bank holiday weekend. I bought tickets for Sunday, the closing day, because one of my favourite Irish music stars was performing, Nathan Carter. Thankfully the weather held and even in the evening it was a warm, late Summer evening. The atmosphere was incredible all around the festival area. There were families, couples, singletons and groups of friends rambling around visiting the various stalls and attractions. There were picnic’s taking place, dancing, singing, music, food and of course drink but not all alcoholic. It looked like every county in Ireland was represented with the people attending the festival. I could see T-shirts and flags from all over Ireland and it was just such a wonderful atmosphere. Inclusive, happy, positive and friendly vibes were the order of the day.

Prosecco and Chips, we are such classy girls! The ice cream was eaten at 11.30 pm after a night of singing and dancing because we just wanted to and isn’t that what life is all about?

One of the main acts was Finbar Furey, an absolute legend in Irish folk music. He gave a beautiful rendition of ‘Sweet Sixteen’ which was a favourite song of my parents and the tears fell, silently, but they fell. I wasn’t alone and found myself holding hands with strangers who were also moved to tears by the music and song.

As you can see from the photo above, there was a fantastic crowd in place for Nathan Carter’s show stopping closure to the festival. The whole area was alive with happiness, music and song. It was truly a special event and I am so glad that I attended. My friend and I had the most wonderful day catching up with each other, listening to and dancing to local bands and big name bands, talking to strangers, dancing like no-one was watching (because they weren’t) and we are already looking forward to the acts being released for next year and planning another day of Irishness.

I didn’t take many photo’s or any video footage. I decided to leave my phone in my pocket and just be in the moment, all day and all evening long. It was freedom!

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles

Monday – I love you.

Yes, I love Monday’s. It hasn’t always been the case of course. I have worked in some jobs where I hated Monday and having to go into work. That Sunday night feeling of dread every week rolled round as regular as clockwork. We get onto the treadmill of work, jobs, offices, the commute which is wonderful if you enjoy your job and just awful if you hate your job.

I also had jobs where I loved going into work and Monday wasn’t an issue at all. Poor old Monday gets a raw deal. We hear all the time ‘oh no, it’s Monday again’, ‘Monday and I have to go to work’ ‘Monday is the pits’. We should turn these things around to ‘Yes, it’s Monday’, ‘Monday and I get to go to work’ ‘ Monday is a fabulous start to a new working week’. Turning them around makes such a difference to how we perceive Monday.

When I was studying for my BSc Hons in Health and Social care with the Open University https://www.open.ac.uk/ I completed a certificate in mental health studies as part of the overall degree. For a number of years I was the administrator of a Facebook page ‘Footsteps to Mental Health’. The page was very much centred on the benefits of walking, nature and getting outdoors, on our mental health. On Monday’s I posted a positive Monday quote and this was always the most popular post of the week. It gave people a lift, they felt energised, they looked forward to the day and the week ahead. Sometimes it inspired them to make positive changes in their lives. Small steps towards the life they really wanted. Making the changes, grabbing the opportunities, doing one small thing to enhance their day. I love inspirational quotes. Some inspire me, some get me thinking and some actually get me up and moving to do things towards the life that I want. If you can make today better, you can make tomorrow better and so it continues. Small things can make a huge difference. Get out for a walk, don’t scroll for hours on social media when you first get up, don’t sit down in one place all day. You are responsible for you. If you want to make a change to your life, it starts with you.

Every week I post a positive quote on Monday, about Monday, for Monday on Instagram and I tell everyone that I love Monday. This has totally changed my approach to the start of the week. I’m excited for Monday, I’m inspired to start the new week and I love to see and respond to the comments I receive about Monday. Monday is a fabulous day.

So perhaps positive Monday may just become a thing on my blog too.

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

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

Life Sparkles

Still Running…

Truth.

Well, five weeks in and I’m still motivated and in the mindset to get fitter, eat healthier and tone up. I’m impressed with myself, I wasn’t sure when I started this journey that I wouldn’t have slipped up by now. But I’m still going strong. That Summer trip to Ibiza is still the carrot dangling in front of me and wanting to fit back into my Summer clothes, back into my jeans and also get some confidence back to push myself out of the comfort zone I have settled back into and get myself out there singing. 2022 is the year of making it happen, that’s what I said at the start of the year and I’m still aiming to do this.

My energy has increased so much already it’s untrue. I alternate my workouts from a walk around the block, Couch 25K (C25K) and if the weather is really bad outside, I do a home workout with Lucy Wyndham Read https://www.youtube.com/user/LWRFitnessChannel/featured Sometimes it is a real chore to push myself outside, especially in this very cold wintery weather but I always feel so much better once I return home. I have also kept to my dry February, no Prosecco and strangely I haven’t missed my Friday night tipple at all.

Wednesday afternoon has become batch cooking afternoon whilst I listen to podcasts. It has taken some weeks but I have really got into this routine of cooking from scratch using fresh vegetables, herbs and spices. I don’t really make a plan of what I’m going to cook, I just go with whatever I have in and as I love pasta, I usually make some kind of pasta bake. A recipe I found on Instagram and has become a weekly staple for me is for banana, oat and peanut butter bakes. I find with these that I can have one with a cuppa mid afternoon and I’m not looking for snacks and treats to fill me up.

Banana, Oats and Peanut Butter Bakes.

Very easy to make; 3 bananas mashed up, add 40g of peanut butter and mix well, then add 100g of porridge oats and again mix well. Place in a baking tin and bake for 30 minutes on Gas mark 4, Electric 180 c. I find cutting into squares when just out of the oven is easiest. Leave to cool and then place in an airtight container. They stay fresh for about four days. I have adapted the recipe a little over the weeks, I have added cinnamon and also some chocolate sprinkles to the top. Himself doesn’t like them as they aren’t sweet enough but for a semi healthy bite they serve their purpose.

Post Run Selfie

As I write this post, I’m midway through week four of C25K and at times puffing my way around. When there is a lot of traffic or people around I just remind myself of the quote about lapping everyone on the couch or I visualise myself running on the promenade by the ocean in the warm sunshine. That gives me a real boost to keep going. I have my daily cappuccino and have managed to stay away from chocolate, cakes and biscuits. The season of Lent starts this week on March 2nd and I would have given those particular items up anyway so I’ll just continue without them for now. It would be totally unrealistic for me to say that I will never eat cake or chocolate again, of course I will, I love chocolate. And as for never drinking Prosecco again? Never going to happen! For now my focus is on getting fitter and healthier, powering my body to do what I want to do.

Good Health Mantra

I feel this health and fitness boost is another part of me emerging from loss, emerging into the new me and embracing that I need to have a certain level of fitness to carry out and enjoy the career in music that I have chosen to follow. I’m also mindful that I am getting older and that we don’t know how long we have here on earth. I want to do what I can to keep myself healthy, fit and able to live life to the fullest for as long as I can. Starting new careers, new fitness regimes and discovering who you are isn’t just for younger people, it’s for all people and it’s never too late to start. If I can do it then so can you. I truly believe if you really want to do something, you’ll do it. Just start, baby steps if you want to, that first step is sometimes the hardest but so worth it. Don’t give up.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles

Perfect Time To Be Happy

At last, with vaccinations, restrictions being lifted at various times and a new normal way of life happening it has been just lovely to get out and about a little more. I have to admit that I personally think I was very lucky in the lockdown period. Caring for my parents meant that I was more or less in a lockdown situation for four years. I had just started to venture out and about again when the real lockdown arrived. I was more or less used to not going anywhere socially or even shopping although as usual the minute you are told you can’t do something, you want to do it even more.

Anyway, back to this year and things getting a little easier and days that the sun has shone so brightly and it has felt warm outside. I had a lovely afternoon catching up with my cousins in their garden and it felt like a holiday. So good to see them in person rather than on video calls. Yes, there was Prosecco.

There were a couple of birthday’s amongst the neighbours so I set to baking some cakes. My Mom and my Sister were fantastic cake bakers and I was always just awful. The sponge never rose for me, more like a biscuit base than Victoria Sponge. However in the last couple of years my cake baking has improved. I like to think Mom passed it to me. One of these days I’ll have to bake one of these for himself so that I can have the odd slice. Not even I could finish a whole cake!!

Between the global pandemic, losing my parents and helping himself to care for his Mom who has Vascular Dementia I have realised that what my Dad used to say to me on a regular basis is so true. Life is for living, don’t take life too seriously and the time to be happy is now. I am at peace with my choices, I am free and I have been told that I make people happy with my music, my posts and my random Instagram chats. This makes me happy. I know we all have duties, obligations and worries but we also have life and we owe it to ourselves to be happy and make someone else happy if we can.

Be Happy.

Do something everyday that makes you happy. Now is the perfect time to be happy.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles

Autumn falls away to Winter

I was out walking again. I was south of the city, close to where I was born and brought up. It still feels like home in the south although I have lived north of the city for a very long time.

Autumn was just ending and Winter was taking hold. It was a very chilly and beautiful afternoon and it felt so good to be wrapped up and in the fresh air. The colours around me were stunning so of course, out came the phone and I took a few pictures.

Love the Sun through the trees.
Autumn leaves 🍁
Stunning Autumnal colours.
Late afternoon in the burbs.
Winter approaches.

I’m sure onlookers think I’m crazy looking up to the sky with the phone in the air. Perhaps they think I’m taking a selfie! I just cannot resist these kind of scenes.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles · The Music Sparkle.

Back to the music and other happenings.

I wasn’t at all sure about the return to the music just yet. I wanted to and I didn’t want to, if that makes any kind of sense.  Was my heart truly in it?  Would it feel the same? I’m glad I gave it a chance.  The singing released a lot of built up stress, pressure. It just came out as I sang.  I was careful what I sang though, it’ll be a while before I can sing certain songs.  It did me good to sing.

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I wasn’t as rusty as I thought I would be upon my return to the guitar lessons. This was a different release to the singing.  My mind had to concentrate so much on what I was doing I relaxed for forty-five minutes and gave my attention to guitar chords.  I’ve made a list of the songs I was getting good at plus the ones I wasn’t very good at, at all.  This is my list of songs to practice until perfect with a view to an acoustic recording session and hang on, dare I even think this…gigging.  I just need to find some time to practice!

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One from last Summer, it feels so good to be able to play a song on the guitar.

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The list!!!

It was Mom’s birthday recently.  I think she knew it was a special day and she did enjoy opening lots of beautiful cards.  She received some absolutely gorgeous flowers. We made it through another first without Dad although I have the feeling he was most definitely here.

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Himself has got into the habit of cooking something for me.  He knows that if he goes to the trouble of cooking something I will eat it. I’m very lucky in how he looks after me when he can get over here and that he is a good cook.

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Quorn Pasta Bake and it was delicious.

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Himself.

I started to do a bit of cooking myself too, for Mom.  I was very pleased with myself that I made her a quite acceptable leek and potato soup, go me! I’m going to try her with smoothies next.

 

A little gardening project for myself for the Spring and Summer, you see I am endeavouring to keep myself busy and do some things for me whilst the carers are here to help me with Mom.

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As we have had some fairly nice weather I have started to go for a walk around the block when the carers first arrive as Mom is usually still asleep so I can get about an hour to do something for me.  Usually it is taken up with administration but it does feel good to get out in the fresh air.

 

Spring blossoms out far too early yet still so beautiful.

And finally for this particular blog post, mixed emotions and note to self.

 

Pictures are my own and these last two quotes are via Pinterest.

With love and sparkles xx

Life Sparkles

Has it been that long?

Well yes it appears it has been a month since I managed to get to my blog.  Mid September already, the long hot beautiful Summer is already becoming a memory as we drift into the cooler days and shorter evenings of Autumn.

It has been busy, as usual.  Caring really is a full time, 24/7, no days off, no night off, profession so I take my breaks when I can.  As you know the past five months Dad has experienced illness after illness after illness.  It has been so tough on him, on Mom and on me.  Dad has gone from being able to do quite a few things for himself and his chosen jobs around the house to not being able to do very much at all, so it has fallen to me.

We’ve had a great run again of getting to bed at night, 42 nights in a row broken only the other night when Mom decided to stay up.  So we start counting again.  42 nights is amazing, it has been years and years since we have had any good run of getting to bed and we’ve had two good runs so far this year.  I’m aware that Sundown season is approaching but fingers crossed.

Over the past two weeks Dad has slowly, and I mean slowly, started to show signs of improvement.  He has managed to eat small amounts regularly which in turn has assisted with keeping that dreadful gunk he was coughing up all night and day, at bay. He still has the cough and the gunk but it is vastly reduced.  He is managing to get some sleep at night, another benefit.  He is feeling a bit better in himself, he is chatting more, watching the news again and has even reached for his diary and prayer books.  These are all good signs of Dad feeling a little better in himself.

Mom bless her has been so supportive of him, caring for him, advising him and trying to help him in her own way.  Sometimes she has been very frightened when the cough and gunk has been in full flow.  Somehow we have managed to come through the past five months.  I thank God every night for giving us another blessed day together as a family.

In the meantime, I have lots to share on the music front, some of which you may have seen on my social media which I have stepped up a gear.  I will update the music blog as soon as I can.  I have been reading your blogs as they come through on my email, when you are up at night and you need to stay awake they make excellent reading and I love them, they make me feel connected, thank you.

A few photo’s from the past month or so, with love and sparkles xxx

A random lunch with one of my friends and yes I had that dessert again but we did share.  Love my cup of coffee in the mornings.

Delighted that my Shamrock has started to grow again after the heavy snow and frost had killed it off earlier this year.  My little tubs and baskets didn’t do too badly either this Summer.

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And Snapchap still makes me giggle and does away with the wrinkles…Go Snapchat!!!