Challenge One – Return to Scrapbooking

I was once an avid scrapbooker. I took photos purely for scrapbooking purposes. I spent vast amounts of time and money on paper and glue and ribbon. A couple of house moves left me without a permanent crafting space – my desk was always covered with hairdryers, make up, clothes etc. I just moved house again and once more I have a dedicated crafting space. And fortuitously this weekend one of my scrapbook heroes is having an online weekend of scrapping loveliness.  So here I am. Ready to join in with Shimelle and her army of scrapbook fans. First up – monochrome – not just black and white but scrapping with one colour. So predictably I picked green. A colour I love more than any other. And it has a very special meaning to me. Here’s my first layout for over a year.

My first layout - monochrome colour.
My first layout – monochrome colour.

Know your audience

Day Four is about understanding your audience and writing a post specifically aimed at your target audience. Well first off, I never actually thought about having an “audience”. I write and ramble away here and I’m sure a couple of my friends look in from time to time but generally the stats would suggest I’m not exactly going to fill Wembley stadium with my followers.

So to have to write something that is deliberately designed to engage with this until now imaginary audience is a little daunting.

Who do I want my words to be read by? I guess if you look at the blog overall I talk about music and photography a great deal. They are the two overriding passions in my life and I’m nearly always engaged in one or both of those things. Unless I’m in work and even then I get to work with other people’s photos so it’s still there!

So I guess a pre-requisite for being a member of my audience is you must love music and photography.

Also this audience thing isn’t a one way street – show me your photographs for me to fall in love with and need to know how/why/where. If you’re in a band send me a song to sing along to and if you live in Liverpool and you’re a musician ask me to come and take your photograph at a gig. In return I will share my photographs with you, I will sing along to your songs and tell my friends how wonderful you are. That’s how the audience thing works here! Two way street.

So now we’re getting a little bit closer to understanding who you, my audience, are.

I’m obviously also a writer. I’ve always been a writer but sometimes it was just in my head, that book I was always going to write stayed firmly in my head for many years. This time last year it emerged into a 26,000 word draft as part of NaNoWriMo but has subsequently retreated and just teases me from time to time with a fleeting idea. It is something I am desperate to finish so I can get someone to read it and tell me either it’s a pile of tosh or it’s going to make the bestsellers list with a little work.

So maybe my audience is also that – part frustrated writer. Struggling to make their voice heard, struggling to find the discipline. Give me a little digital High Five if you’re struggling too. Hopefully you understand and are nodding along as you’re reading this paragraph. And I appreciate the irony that while I’m taking the time to write about not being able to write my novel, I could be writing my novel.

I consider myself to be a generally creative person – sewing, crochet, scrapbooking, writing, photography. Creativity comes in many forms and is something I’m so grateful I have the freedom, time and money to explore. Sure I’d like more time and money to be creative, who wouldn’t? But I’m also blessed above all to have the freedom – my life is not a constant struggle for food, shelter, warmth or any of the other things that stifle creativity. So in my little way sharing the fruits of this freedom is my way of saying thank you to the universe for putting me in the position to be able to.

Time to share a little bit of myself with you by pointing you in the direction of my Pinterest page.

I’m not prolific here – I forget about Pinterest on a regular basis then someone shares one of my pins and I go back and play with it for a while. So feel free to share and give me a virtual dig in the ribs to add some new content. I think my boards are pretty much a reflection of everything I’ve been talking about here. Oh and this counts as a new piece of content for my blog as I’ve never shared Pinterest here before.

Instagram is another of those sharing experience type apps I forget to use. It’s invariably coffee or food so if you’re not into either of those I’d give my Instagram account a miss! If you love your coffee come and follow me and we can share coffee moments.

So I think that’s it – I think I’ve worked out who you are, dear reader. You’re creative, you love music and photography and you want to share those blessings with the world. Hey, you’re just like me so we’re going to get along just fine.

Tags and Blogs

Just catching up on some of the things I’ve been doing this week following along with Blogging101. So we had to add new tags to our Reader and follow some new blogs.  So here’s what I added:

  • Bruce Springsteen – I’m a newcomer very late in life to the wonder of this man’s music. I am currently, under the tutelage of a very good friend and long time Springsteen admirer, working my way through the back catalogue. I’m starting with the acoustic stuff as that fits in with my general taste in music – Devils and Dust is a revelation. It’s truly sublime and I urge you to try it out if you’re not already acquainted with The Boss.
  • Crochet – I struggle with my love of crochet – I find it equally frustrating and satisfying depending on how well a project is going.
  • Liverpool. My home town. Where I live. This tag however seems to lean very heavily towards non English blogs about my football team. Not what I was looking for so I may have to refine this tag.
  • Photography. This tag will be a slippery slope into many, many hours looking at other people’s photos.
  • Running. I have a love hate relationship with running. When I’m doing it I love it – I love the sense of freedom, of control over my body. When I’m lying in bed at 5:30am contemplating going to the gym I hate it. Maybe this tag will help me reduce the hate.

So these are the new tags I’m going to be keeping an eye on and I think they sum up my life pretty well right now.

So on to the new blogs I’m following.

  1. Edge of Humanity – I love this already – photo journalism at its best I think. Feels like I’m going to spend a lot of time here.
  2. Nerdy Book Club – Haven’t really visited this site yet but I know I’m going to love it. I’m a nerd. I’m writing a book. I read books. What’s not to love.
  3. Wandering Cows – I was attracted to this site because of the most recent post. Another Place is one of my favourite places. I worked on the local newspaper (before it closed) for this area and one of my great pleasures was curating the Flickr group which was always full of images from Crosby Beach.
  4. Speaking as a child of the nineties – this is a blog by a fellow Blogging101 member and I liked the layout and the writing style – I hope this is the start of a beautiful reader/blogger relationship!
  5. Digiphile – in a former life I was a web designer/editor and I’m currently a proof reader/content editor (this isn’t my job title but Community Content Curator tells you nothing about what I do!) so I like to keep up with what’s happening in the digital world.

Taglines and Titles

Today’s task was to create a tagline for my blog but I already have one – Messing About With WordPress. I don’t really want to change it because it sums up what I use my blog for. I never really set out to do anything other than learn how to use WordPress but somewhere along the way I stopped playing with WordPress on a regular basis.

Originally I thought about being a self employed web designer. I worked for one of the big four banks in the UK in IT and when i was made redundant that’s what I planned to do so I thought being a whizz with WordPress would be a help. I spent a few months trying to get some customers, failed, panicked and took a full time job.

I dabbled in WordPress on and off, the odd post, some photos but then a few days ago I decided to take a Blogging course so I’m back – Messing About With WordPress.

Who I am and why I’m here

My name is Lis and I live here in Liverpool in the North West of England. Apologies to anyone who’s been here before for this post but I’ve started a blogging course and the task for Day One (today) is to introduce myself and say why I’m taking the course.

Clearly I have a problem writing with any regularity both here and in my endeavour to finish the first draft of my first novel so that’s essentially why I’m here. To develop a daily habit of writing, even if it’s only a short post every day. I need to get back into that habit.

I managed it this time last year and wrote around 25,000 words in November as part of NaNoWriMo but sadly have only written about 2,000 more words in the first draft since then. NaNoWriMo likes you to start with a new draft each November so I’m not participating this year as I really want to finish what I already started (it’s a fantasy YA novel – so far!).

I also love writing but very often just write for the sake of it and then delete it. I plan to delete as little as possible from my scribblings in the next month – again apologies in advance for the nonsense that may emerge – but that’s half the fun, isn’t it.

So welcome to Anfield Girl – please have a look around the rest of the site (lots of links to my other passion – my photography) and drop me a line if you want to say hi!

Seven Words

Blog prompt from https://dailypost.wordpress.com:

October 28 – Khalil Gibran once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?

This is an interesting question. Seven words to convey everything I ever need to, to someone who also only has seven words.

  • Love
  • Passion
  • Creativity
  • Music
  • Family
  • Generosity
  • Spirit

These words are words I would like to live my life by. I very often fail but they are at the core of my personality, my moral compass and they are the most important things I would want someone to understand about me if I had limited communication opportunities with them. They are also the things that I strive to find in other people – the things I want to know about another person.

These are my seven words. What are yours?

Well done me!

I’ve been here before. 9 weeks of constantly battling with myself both physically and mentally to finish this thing called Couch25K. Last time I did it at the end of six months of constant dieting and denying myself anything even vaguely pleasurable. I weighed 9 stone 6. Looking back I breezed through it, though it didn’t feel like it at the time. I must have done, I weighed nothing and I was living on lettuce leaves and cous cous. I thought I was happy then, the running was an extension of the food denial. I also did it because someone told me I’d never stick with it, that I didn’t have the will power to do it. That’s like a red rag to a bull for me and sheer bloody mindedness pushed me through a lot of those runs and the dieting in 2011.

I ran a charity 5k to celebrate, ran a couple of times on holiday then stopped. Nothing would have tempted me back out after I’d proved I had the will power. Fast forward 3 years. 2 months ago when I started running again I weighed 13 stone 6. That’s a hell of a difference. My knees and back were under a lot of pressure this time.

Mentally I beat myself up for the first 10 minutes of every session whether I was running or walking. Luckily that bloody mindedness is still there but this time I was using it in a positive way – I will finish this run because I owe it to myself to get fitter, to lose weight, to be able to run for 30 minutes. I’m not an old woman and I’m not an invalid – 30 minutes running is a perfectly normal, acceptable amount of exercise for me to be able to do.

I do have chronic asthma – I need an inhaler every day, if I didn’t take it in about a week and a half I would be in bed and unable to get down the stairs. But it’s not a debilitating condition when it’s managed properly and the running is just making me stronger. That first week I thought my lungs would explode in the first 5 minutes. I have to run for nearly 30 minutes to feel like that now. I’ll never be off my medication but I might be able to reduce it.

Running this time is for me. I’m not doing it to prove to someone I have what it takes. I’m doing it because it makes me happy – it gives me an amazing buzz.  I’m also doing it because my health long-term demands it. I have not altered my diet one iota in the last 2 months and I stood on the scales this morning and saw the screen flash 12 stone 9 at me. That’s 11 lbs lost just from exercising 3 times a week. Imagine if I hadn’t drunk all that wine and eaten all that bread 😉 But you know, I might just start having one less glass of wine, and not having sandwiches for lunch because if I can continue to run and lose weight who knows what cutting out the bad stuff will do!

The other reason I know I’m going to stick at it this time is that I really love running. I don’t know why I allowed myself to stop running in 2011. I had a lot of personal stuff going on that year, it was a turning point in my life but I let go of one of the things that got me through a lot of that stuff and that is my only regret – all the hours of running pleasure I missed out on in my hiatus.

I am going to do the obligatory charity fun run this weekend. For Asthma UK – it’s an amazing organisation and the least I can do is rattle a virtual tin for them to pay back all the help and support they’ve given me over the years. They sent me a lovely purple t-shirt to run in too! So here’s the link if you want to sponsor me – https://www.justgiving.com/Lis-Garrett/

So what’s next.  Well running 5K in 30 minutes is my next immediate goal. I think that will take a few months.  That’s enough to be going on with for now, but who knows where I’ll be in a year’s time.

Laura said: “You are now a runner”……

I’ve been waiting for this day for 6 weeks. Ever since I started doing the Couch to 5K training programme. I’d been having a couple of bad weeks dieting – well pretending to diet and not really actually doing anything about it that lasted more than 24 hours. Then one day I arrived home from work determined to use the exercise bike… but my husband had arrived home 5 minutes earlier and beaten me to it.  In a fit of childish pique I thought “Sod you, ruining my plans, I’m going to go out and run.” So I downloaded the C25K app, put my trainers on and went out.

You might think this was a bit of an extreme reaction, but I had successfully completed the programme back in 2011 so I knew a lot about it and with my phone all ready to go I felt like I could do this without too much research.

Now I should tell you that back in 2011 I had just finished 6 months of WeightWatchers and I had lost over 3 stone so I was considerably lighter and fitter than I am right now. I also cycled regularly and walked quite a bit. I did my first (and as it turned out only) 5k race about a week after I finished the programme and I ran it in an amazing (still think the timing clocks were wrong) 32 ish minutes.

Then life and dark winter nights got in the way. I moved house and got myself all loved up and married.  Running was the last thing on my mind. Fast forward to 2014.  I’m still loved up and married, but after 6 short weeks running is ALWAYS on my mind.  It’s an addiction – a very weird, pain inducing, breath sapping, muscle aching addiction. And I had forgotten how quickly it takes hold. I am always thinking about running, reading about it, writing forum posts about it. Not quite dreaming about it but it’s only a matter of time.

Even as I’m struggling to drag my very slow feet around I’m thinking about my next run – what intervals will I be doing, will it be harder than what I’m doing now, will the work I’m doing now make the next run easier… on and on and on. There is no doubt that it’s harder this time round and maybe that’s why the joy at the end of each run, each little tick on my progress chart, each new route mapped on mapmyrun.com is sweeter.

I ran for 25 minutes today non stop. At the end of it the nice lady that has been my virtual coach for the last 6 weeks, Laura, told me I’m finally a runner. A friend of mine commented this morning that I was always a runner and I think she’s right. Once you’ve done more than just run for a bus that seed is planted in your brain and it doesn’t go away – the mental strength that you get from running just 1 more minute than you did last time, or 200 metres further than you did last time is immense. It stays with you all day, through your rest day and on to your next running day, when you layer up a little more strength.

This is obviously a physical challenge, 6 weeks ago I could NOT have run for 25 minutes. So I am getting fitter and stronger, by following the programme as it guides me to a point where I can run for 30 minutes non-stop. But there is a huge, huge mental challenge to this – the runner inside my head is constantly having to tell the non-running part of my brain to shut up – to remember how good it feels when the coach tells you only 60 seconds to go. My internal runner is also running behind me reminding me that even though I have pins and needles in my feet I am enjoying being out in the fresh air, that even though I’m out of breath I love seeing the trees and grass in the park as I run past.

I’m winning this mental challenge now. I have a 5K Big Fun Run booked for August 16.  That’s 4 days after I finish this programme.  And I am probably going to be a lot slower than lots of other people.  But I’ll be faster than all the people still sitting on their couches and that’s good enough for me.

Thanks Laura – I am a runner.

shameless plug

Shameless plug for my sponsorship page. I’m running in support of Asthma UK – as an adult diagnosed very late in life I’m indebted to them for the support and information they’ve given me since my diagnosis so this is my way of giving a little back. https://www.justgiving.com/Lis-Garrett/

And here’s a link to the Couch To 5 K programme.

Blogging Prompts

So I decided to do a quick search for a prompt to kick-start my brain this hot, sunny June evening and I found this:

Share 5 Fictional Friends you’d want in real life. (Movie/Book/TV etc.)

I’m going to start with just one…. I need more time to think about the others…

So because the word Friends is right in there and I tend to watch about six episodes a week anyway, that’s where my brain went first. Monica.  I would love to be Monica’s friend.  Not just because she’s a great cook, though it’s undoubtedly a big factor.  Remember when you started watching Friends and you talked (to your own friends) about who you wanted to be, or who you thought you were like?  Well of course everyone wants to be Rachel.  She’s beautiful, sexy, a little bit self involved but all in all she’s a good person.  She has a generous heart and is fiercely loyal.  They sound like great character traits.

But I always identified more with Monica, with her overwhelming nurturing OCD riddled love for everyone – that’s who I wanted to be and definitely a person I could be friends with.  I have my own little weird OCD tendencies, sadly not so much in the house cleaning arena, but I totally identify with the crazy, mind-blowing annoyance of finding something in your home just slightly out-of-place, and the desperate need to just sidle up to it and restore it to its rightful place.

I love her self belief surrounding her place at the centre of the group – that she is the one that feeds and nurtures everyone, the one that everyone comes to when they need advice or help or pie. I love her practicality, always ready with a solution or a plan. I admire her need to play fair and within a set of boundaries. But most of all I love her capacity to love her friends, even when they are driving her mad and pushing all her buttons. I think Monica and I would be really good friends.

Other people I’m thinking about including in my list: Bella from Twilight (if only to slap her and stop her being so whiny), Juliet from Nashville, one of Trudi Canavan’s heroines, Artemis Fowl, Percy Jackson, going back a bit further in time – Odysseus or Achilles. How about you?

 

 

 

 

Sound City, Liverpool 2014 – Saturday Review

Quick run through of the bands we saw on Saturday. We didn’t see the Tenements as a Bluesy type girl vocalist went on in their place while we were there but it was all running late so we didn’t stay.

We then went to the Bluecoat Chambers garden, where we had a really nice lunch, and a bottle of wine. All very civilised. Got a great table right at the front with a good view.

Dominic Dunn was amazing as always – this was the first time we’d seen him with his band – absolutely superb, three amazing backing singers that really enhances his sound.

Gentlemen Rogues up next and there was just one member of an Austin punk/rock band, they didn’t know it was supposed to be an acoustic set so they just let the singer perform. He was great but clearly didn’t realise that the Bluecoat Chambers gardens is a bit more refined than other venues and his language was a bit colourful for 3 o’clock in the afternoon, when there were old ladies and kids there.. but he was good fun (and a bit drunk). And he gave us codes to download his music and a badge!!! I’ve been listening to it all week and I love it!! I hope they come back the UK soon!

We took a brief trip away from Bluecoat to go to the Cavern to see City Walls – local 4 piece – standard rock stuff – good sound.

Back to Bluecoat for the Hummingbirds who packed the place out as they always do. They were all kinds of superb – but I’m biased, I love them to pieces. I could watch them all day!

We then got a full Silent Sleep set. Great band – really love their stuff – nice and melodic, and a bit chilled out.

After them came the highlight of the afternoon as it turned out – The Splintered Ukes. A ukele band who do cover versions!! They had the crowd up and dancing almost straight away and were brilliant. We had some Van Morrison (Brown Eyed Girl), Jessie J (Price tag), Kings of Leon (The Bucket), Radiohead (Creep), The Hummingbirds (Back in Liverpool – which we were hearing for the second time that day!!), The Coral (Dreaming of You), Mumford & Sons (Little Lion Man), The Smiths (This Charming Man)… and a bunch of other stuff too! They finished with Come On Eileen and had the whole crowd on its feet!

From here we went to the Duke Street Garage to see Embers. They were brilliant – really loud and raucous, and great guitar playing going on. They did about half an hour, then threw their guitars down and left. Loved the attitude of the whole set – pretty much “listen, don’t listen, we don’t care”…. only spoilt a little bit by the singer sneaking back on to pick up his guitar and check it was ok as we were all leaving, 

We then went up to Studio 2 and unfortunately caught the end of a god awful heavy metal band. Then Famy came on. Wish they hadn’t – they were dreadful, self-indulgent art school nonsense that wasn’t even in tune most of the time.

The evening was saved by our second time seeing Dominic Dunn. Full band again, with drums this time. He did 3 or 4 songs different from the afternoon set, and they sounded even better inside. This young man is destined for greatness.

We headed back down to Duke Street but couldn’t get in to see the Kooks – the security guards were stopping people getting down into the area so that was about 4 venues we couldn’t access. Not sure if they were being over vigilant but I have read reports elsewhere that it was indeed very busy inside the cordon, so will have to give them the benefit of the doubt!