Finding The Magic

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“Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.”~ Nora Roberts

How do you see the world?

Do your eyes simply see what’s there or can you see beyond it?

I see beyond what’s there, I always have.

What is magic?

To some people magic is merely the art of illusion.

It’s Dynamo walking on water outside the Houses of Parliament or David Blaine whacking somebody’s mobile phone into a bottle of beer. These magicians conjure up the impossible with the art of deception.

To others, magic is Harry Potter whipping out his ward to fend off the Dementors but the real magic is in J K Rowling’s writing which comes from her extraordinary imagination.

There is another kind of magic which it’s all around us if only we take the time to look.  It’s is the magic that makes you happy even when you’re doing the most mundane of tasks, like cleaning the loo.

For those who are still with me (the others having long since hit the X button thinking ‘Off you go, Nutjob’) allow me to explain…

The magic that I’m talking about is a feeling.

All you have to do to feel the magic is open your mind to the possibility of it.

It’s about taking the mundane and giving it some sparkle and who doesn’t like a bit of sparkle?

Household Tasks

Washing the dishes is a mundane task. It’s a job that OH hates so much that he actually bought a dishwasher so he wouldn’t have to, the lazy git!

I do use it to do the heavily soiled stuff but most days I fill the washing up bowl with bubbles and add a few drops of essential oil. I use grapefruit because it’s uplifting. A few sniffs and my mood lifts and I lose myself in the suds. It puts me in an almost meditative state and what was once a boring job has become a pleasurable experience.

Meditation isn’t all about sitting cross-legged and omming, y’know. 😉

The trick is to be in the present. I try not to think about anything except what I am doing. Though my mind naturally wants to wander ( I have major mind traffic) I consciously drag it back the now. When I’m done faffing, I leave the water in the bowl to allow the essential oils to keep doing their stuff.

Similarly I clean the bathroom with a few drops of oil. I use lemon myrtle spray around the toilet (and up the walls) as the males of the house seemingly have out of control hose-pipes for penises and are prone to missing the entire toilet! Inhaling man wee makes me feel grumpy (not to mention, squiffy) but after a few squirts of my myrtle, it’s like they’ve never been in.

OK, maybe loo cleaning is stretching the concept of magic a bit but it is definitely an improvement, no?

Books

I read books that inspire me and if the cover is aesthetically pleasing, then all the better! All part of being a visual person..

I like books that have me thinking long after I’ve turned the last page. I imagine how the characters look and for that reason I tend not to watch the films because they so often disappoint me. The Harry Potter books are an exception as the films actually do justice to J K Rowling’s excellent writing.

I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book. ~ J K Rowling

Music

I listen to music that speaks to my soul, whether it’s rock, pop or classical. I allow my imagination to run riot with music where there are no lyrics to influence my mind. As far back as I can remember this has been the case.. as a little girl I used to listen to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and images would flow uninterpreted into my mind, I could lose myself for hours this way..

Music is the strongest form of magic. ~ Marylin Manson

Mr Manson, you may scare small kids with your face but you are absolutely right!

Film and TV

I have a mild form of synaesthesia and this would explain why I am unable to watch horror. All violence affects me but I can’t cope with watching horror films. If I see an upsetting image, it affects me for weeks or months after and I never forget it. For this reason I stay away from the news as much as possible. Similarly, I am just as deeply affected by good news and feel good films and TV.

I like to watch films that remind me of how fortunate I am to be alive and which inspire me to be a better person.

One of my all time favourites is Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life  because it reminds me that as insignificant as we think we are, our lives have purpose. It’s a timeless classic that leaves it’s mark on each generation.

Each man’s life touches so many other lives, and when he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he? ~ Clarence, the angel in It’s A Wonderful Life

See The Magic

We come into the world with our magic buttons switched on. We find joy in the simplest of things and everything is new and magical but somewhere along the way we lose it. We allow other people’s world views to influence our own, even if it’s not what we truly believe. We allow stress to take over and before we know it we are weighed down with worry and the magic is long forgotten.

I’m not saying that we should all abandon our common sense and call ourselves Moonbeam (although if calling yourself Moonbeam floats your boat, then you should go ahead and call yourself Moonbeam and bugger what people think) it’s just that a little sprinkling of magic makes life more bearable.

In it’s simplest terms, it’s about finding meaning to life.

Some people believe life has no meaning and if that’s you – fair enough – but there is just too much going on for me to ever agree with it.

For me, it’s about seeing and feeling beyond what can be physically seen and felt.

Sound wanky?

Maybe but it works for me.

That magic button? It’s still there. You just need to turn it back on.

To remind yourself of how it’s done – watch your children because they see the magic that is all around them.

Children see magic because they look for it. ~ Christopher Moore

Image Credit OUCHCharley Via Creative Commons

A Bit Of Everything

 

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Chasing Sleep

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I’ve haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in three years.

The primary reason for my sleep disturbance/insomnia is actually the menopause or the ‘this effing menopause’ as I affectionately refer to it now. Before this I had no problem getting my eight hours in. I had my fair share of racy dreams (mostly about certain members of Duran Duran) but then my hormones decided to revolt and nowadays I’m lucky if I can get two hours in between hormone induced panic attacks and when I do dream I’m usually naked on a public toilet or being chased by tidal waves.

There are many reasons why people struggle to get a good nights sleep.

Daytime Habits

Loafing in front of the TV all day watching Jeremy Kyle and doing sod all in the way of exercise.

Watching TV, playing video games or social networking in bed.

Guzzling down copious amounts of coffee (or gin) – key word is STIMULANT.

Working nights or shifts

Having a bedroom that’s not conducive to a good night’s sleep, as in, total shit-hole with crap curtains and last months undies decomposing in the corner. So grand a scale of shit-hole is your boudoir that the rats evict themselves!

Psychological Problems

Stress is a major reason for insomnia and there are many reasons why people get stressed.

Health Problems

Asthma, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, cancer, and chronic pain. Common medications such as antidepressants, cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine, diuretics, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, and high blood pressure medications can also interfere with your sleep. I’ll include menopause here because, although it isn’t an technically an illness, it does create a whole heap of shitty symptoms and insomnia is one of them.

So what can we do?

The Effect of Music on Sleep

A survey of 6,000 British adults by Travelodge showed that 20 per cent like to listen to classical music before bedtime with the most popular sleep-inducing composers being Beethoven, Mozart and Bach. The study also revealed that 85 per cent of Brits listen to music to help them get to sleep with 13 per cent reporting that they have sweet dreams if they fall asleep when music is on. I’m presuming they don’t mean Slipknot?

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Sweet dreams are made of this?

The hotel chain put together a Top Ten ‘Kip Chart’ from the findings. Mozart came in at number seven, making him the top sleep-inducing composer. Coldplay smashed it at number one making them the band most likely to send you to sleep. Not entirely sure that’s an accolade they ever hoped for but there yer go.

I’ve known about the calming effect that classical music has on babies since I had my little man and Classic FM has been lulling him off for the last six years. It also helps me to nod off, mostly. However, staying in the land of nod is generally my problem and that’s down to dips in my blood sugar levels causing adrenaline surges which trigger panic attacks. Listening to classical music helps calm me down during an attack, especially the choral stuff. Maybe I was a nun in a past life?

Last week BBC Radio Three looked into the effect that music has on the subconscious via the Why Music weekend with the centerpiece being an all night performance by composer Max Richter. In the longest single continuous piece of music ever broadcast live by the BBC (eight hours to be exact) King of Kip, Max, was joined by soprano Grace Davidson, five string players and an audience (complete with beds) who were encouraged to experience the music through the state of sleep. The piece is called, er, Sleep.

I also feel that there is an intuitive connection between sleeping and music beyond this – and this connection is summed up by the tradition of the lullaby, which seems to be a universal in human culture ~ Max Richter

Having nodded off fairly quickly that night, I woke up at 12.08am having an encounter of the panic kind so I went downstairs armed with my pillows and radio. Having apologised to the lurcher for waking her up (costing me a Bonio) I curled up on the sofa. Having remembered about the BBC programme, I listened to that in the hope that it would distract me from the familiar yet unpleasant sensations that come with a panic attack. The music was almost ethereal in parts especially when the soprano was giving it some and it evoked something within me which made me cry but in a good way. Most importantly I found myself calming down quite quickly. Nice one, Max!

I’ve since downloaded a condensed hour version of Sleep and can honestly say the combination of making sure that I had a small snack (some rancid organic sugar free peanut butter on toast) before bed to help with the blood sugar levels and listening to the music helped me sleep all night.

YES FOLKS, I GOT A FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP IN! WHOOP WHOOP!

I had another one of my naked on the toilet dreams but to be fair I did need a wee. Not sure why I was naked though?

So, after trial and error, here are my kip tips..

  • Make your bedroom a haven of tranquility. ( or just have OH’s skiddy pants sent off to the local incinerator and hoover up)
  • Have a light snack before bed. Note – a kebab isn’t a light snack.
  • If your OH snores – sod them right off into the shed.
  • No caffeine after six or at all.
  • Ease up on the gin or abstain altogether. Alcohol sends you to sleep alright but you’ll be up at 2am with a mouth drier than a popcorn fart.
  • Leave the electronics downstairs (except a radio)
  • Use that radio to listen to classical music (or Coldplay)

Night Bless and don’t let the sandman throw sand in your eyes!

Image Credit Eirik Newth via Creative Commons
Slipknot Image – Bill – via Creative Commons

mumturnedmom

Spin The Black Circle

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The soundtrack to my childhood is on vinyl – somewhere.

A few years ago, having been seduced by the digital form of the CD, I decided to flog almost every record that I owned in a car boot sale – fifty pence for an album or a pound for a double. A moment of insanity that would come to haunt me.

You see, I’ve grown up with music. Dad was a ‘Hi-Fi buff’ who spent hours sat in front of his mammoth speakers in search of the ultimate ‘stereo experience’ which I found hilarious because he was deaf in one ear. Music was his passion and one of the last records he listened to was my Queen album – one of a few which I kept back from the blasted car boot sale.

The album contained The Show Must Go On. Written primarily by Brian May it’s a song about Freddie’s determination to carry on performing despite the fact that he was dying.

Inside my heart is breaking
My make-up may be flaking
But my smile still stays on

Apt lyrics for my Dad – a man who knew he was losing his battle with cancer.

My love of music starts way back in the decade of grim decor and fashion aka the 70’s. In 1978 I got my first record player along with the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever – a film that I wasn’t old enough to see. It would be a few more years before I got to see JT in his undies!

In 1979 I bought I Don’t Like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats with my pocket money and had no idea that the song was about a 16 year old girl who went on a shooting spree because she didn’t like Mondays!

Equipment itself has come a long way. Edison’s phonograph kicked it all off and has evolved into the tiniest of devices not much bigger than a stamp. (iPod). I wonder what Smack my Bitch Up would sound like on a phonograph? Edison would spin in his grave faster than Pete Burns… right round baby!

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One of Judge Jules’ early gigs ha ha – not really. Don’t sue me.

Photo Credit

Music is much more than an art form. It connects people, or it used to.

Records were vitally important to the development of music and of all music cultures. With that being pushed by the wayside, I can’t see an iPod uniting us. In fact it separates us, the streets are full of people bumping into lamp posts, listening to their own little universe, and there’s no sharing in that. ~ John Lydon

It wasn’t always this way..

Music played a big part in boosting morale during world war two. It captured the spirit of a nation that refused to be broken by Hitler. Hearing Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade evokes feelings of nostalgia and gratitude. Nostalgia because despite the hardship of the war, my parents had fond memories of that time and gratitude because I owe my life to those who died for our freedom.

My taste is eclectic which means there is a genre to suit my every mood and there are a lot of em. Rock gets my heart pumping whereas classical relaxes me. I love Punk with it’s angst and nihilistic attitude that reflected a time of teenage rebellion with the Sex Pistols summing up the attitude of a generation with “No future”. Listening to the likes of the Sex Pistols and The Clash was part of my own teenage rebellion. The day I skimmed Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols across the kitchen worktop was a memorable one to say the least. Ma miss-lit her fag in shock at the word ‘bollocks‘.

“I’ll give you bollocks, Madam!” My Mum circa 1984

Despite embracing the digital form, I’ve felt disenchanted with music for a while. Then one day I had an epiphany when I realised that what music was missing was soul. And I don’t mean the genre.

CD’s are almost clinical. They have a ‘clean’ sound and while that may suit the techno sound, I think it robs other genres of it’s soul. I also missed the tactile experience of placing a record on the deck and trying to keep a steady hand (a difficult task when pissed) as I placed the needle on the record waiting for the inevitable crackle and hiss. But that’s just me. Music and sound is subjective. Millions of people have never looked back and think of vinyl only in a historical or value sense. As technology surges forward, I find myself hankering for a time of simplicity.

I deeply regret flogging my collection but am in the process of creating another one and it’s not lost on me that I’m often paying double or treble what I paid for them originally. Lesson learned. No more boot sales. Unless it’s to buy. 😉

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Music evokes powerful emotions and listening to Ella Fitzgerald transports me to days of childhood watching Ma doing her thing in the kitchen and Frank Sinatra instantly makes me think of Dad crooning along to That’s Life, Jack Daniels in one hand, Marlboro in the other. Despite the secondary smoke inhalation, those were happy times with memories that have become so important to me now that they are both gone. Music takes me to a happy place and back to a time when life was simple and happiness was a book or a new record. Simple pleasures…

Mum and Dad may be gone but they live on in the music. A record is made of up of grooves and within those grooves are memories and a memory is something that can’t be taken from you.

End Note :

Dear Boys, please don’t flog my records in a car boot sale after I’ve gone.

I will haunt you.

Love, Mum.

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The song is ended but the melody lingers on.

mumturnedmom

C30, C60, C90, Go!

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Technology has come a long way since I was a child in the 70’s.

Today there are numerous devices to capture our special moments but in ‘mar daaay’ it was basically a camera, a Polaroid Instant camera (dodgy, Father…VERY dodgy!) and cassette tapes.

Cassettes were great because I could bung my favourite songs on a few tapes and sit up the garden – portable tape player turned up to the max thus inciting the wrath of the neighbours – and Ma!

Ma removed my batteries on many an occasion.

She confiscated the player a few times as well.

My family made tapes for one another as another way of keeping in touch. Ma gave me a load of these old tapes when Dad died …some memories were simply too painful for her.

It’s been almost 18 years since I listened to them.

But they’ve re-surfaced including a few that I didn’t get around to playing… such as this one.

 

Merry Xmas from Granma and Grandad

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Seeing Nan’s handwriting on the tape was enough to start me blubbing.

I started with the B side because it was addressed to me and my brother. ( Nan spelt his name wrong)

I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I rammed the cassette into the player – sat down in my easy chair and braced myself.

Silence.

Five minutes later – still silence.

I fast forwarded a bit – still nothing.

Basically the entire side had nothing on it!

I turned over..

Deck The Halls boomed out from the speakers but it was playing at 45rpm instead of 33rpm. (Google it, kids)

The next few songs were the same. I’m guessing it was Jim Reeves Christmas Hits but it sounded more like Pinky and Perky.

Nan must have realised her gaff and changed the speed mid-song.

Unfortunately the next record she put on was a single but she still had the record player set to 33rpm.

Again, she must have sussed it because it suddenly changed speed half way through.

By this point I was laughing so hard a bit of wee came out…

My pelvic floor couldn’t cope.

Oh my God, Nan!!

Not only that but she’d totally ignored the pause button because I could hear the change of the records and on one occasion, the needle slipped off. Perhaps Grandad ( who was a bit shaky) was in charge of putting the needle on the record?

Nan was a technophobe but I’m hazarding a guess she’d also been at the brandy.

But my laughter faded away as I heard the familiar sound of her voice.

It was a surreal moment.

I closed my eyes and she could have been in the room with me..

“Bye bye, cheerio for now – God Bless.” she said.

I could visualise her tiny frame, silky soft skin and salt and peppery hairdo – styled like the Queen’s.

She was well posh, my nan.

Then she said “See you all on Wednesday” and Grandad (deaf aid a-whistling) piped up “God willing!!”

She started to say something about making a cup of tea but the tape ran out mid sentence.

Before I played the tape – I knew I was going to cry but I had no idea it would mostly be with laughter.

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Nan & Grandad

The Sing-a-Long

On this tape – one side was labelled Sing-a-Long and I’d heard it before so I played the other side first.

There was no writing on this side so I just shoved it in the player (jammed it twice) and curled back up on my chair.

Imagine my surprise when The Stripper started to play!

Yes, THE STRIPPER!!

As in STRIPTEASE music!!!

I squirmed about uneasily for a few minutes waiting for it to finish but then it started again!

In fact…the ENTIRE side was full of it!!!!

I was like…WTF????

Suddenly the Polaroid camera made a LOT of sense.

God only knows what Ma was doing for that 30 minutes. The mind boggles.

It’s still boggling…

I dread to think what my parents were up to while I was slumbering away dreaming of sheep. And stuff.

I’m going to need lots of therapy – my childhood is ruined.

I downed a pint to ease the trauma and played the other side.

Basically it’s half an hour of me (aged about 8) Dad and Ma singing along to Max Bygraves. Why this is on the same tape as striptease music – I’ll never know.

Dad could croon with the best of em and he’d always sing when he’d had a few.

He was a happy drinker. The more he drank – the happier he got and he sang like Frank Sinatra. Only Dad’s eyes were brown.

Hearing my young self made me smile and cringe simultaneously.

I had a really annoying habit of saying “OH YEAH” or “Olé” at the end of each song. *cringe* *cringe*

Ma’s singing would intermittently break off and she could be heard rollocking someone in the background – most likely one of my bruv’s.

The last voice on the tape is my dad’s.

“Sock it to em baby!” he says Elvis stylee and then he laughs.

In this day and age it’s so easy to capture these moments – all it takes is a mobile phone.

Little did I know in 1978 what this recording would mean to me 36 years later when both of them are gone.

Gone but never forgotten and a part of them lives on within the spools of an old C60 cassette tape.

“The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with — nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life.”~ Love is a Mix Tape – Rob Sheffield.

 Unravelled Cassette Image -Andrew Malone