Thursday, 31 January 2013

A return to reality

Back to reality..

It seems at York we have a longer Christmas 'holiday' than perhaps the 'norm'. It is the last day of January and I only just had my very first lecture back of the year today. It's odd.. It doesn't feel like the usual 'back to school' sentiment. The last deadlines are only in the very very distant past and this semester is the final one of my degree. It's a new feeling and I am acutely aware that time passes by quicker than ever before. I remember on New Years Eve as Mark and I stood at the Minster watching the clock count down to midnight and I turned to Mark to say 'Look at the clock... Look at how fast time is moving'. And it does, sometimes as we simply stand by and watch. It is moving right now; seconds and minutes and hours that we will never have again.

Perhaps when we were younger, time is just another 'thing'.. dinner time, home time, bed time, and so on.. Just a list of times that provide our young lives with rules and routines and nothing more than simply a waking or sleeping hour. In fact, most children seem to wish time away as they forever count down to birthdays or Christmas or school holidays, or 3.30pm when the school bell rings and they go home. However, I think something shifts as we develop an awareness that time is a precious, precious gift. Suddenly we are chasing after time, running late, struggling to make deadlines, cannot seem to get enough sleep, wishing for just that five more minutes extra in a warm bed in the mornings.. Once more, the paradoxical nature of the irony: Of only appreciating the value of something when our minds are no longer unsuspecting and carefree enough to live under the illusion that we will remain that way forever.

So, here I am; Final semester, final year, final final final. How that word is so conclusive. But, life is of course what we choose it to be. And I have chosen for the next four months to be full of life, magnificent things, and lovely people. There is a dissertation to write, exams to take, assignments to write, lectures to attend, shoots to do, new people to meet, old friends to love, new relationships to learn about, places to visit, passports to be used, birthdays to celebrate, much of life to experience.. the list continues forever and a day.

A return to reality is an unfamiliar concept in itself. More irony.. Surely 'back to reality' implies back to a place of familiarity. Yes, to an extent. This is a familiar life, but it is certainly a life of constant change whereby in the space of one week I will be in Morocco, I will be eating lunch with friends, watching films with a wonderful man, attending university, modelling in studios and on cold English beaches, travelling across the country, writing personal statements, and planning the events of the future. I have grown to like this though.. As ever, a life of change is a sure way to keep the feet on the ground, the mind open, and to stop one from ever falling too deep.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Models in Marrakech

The ginger hair is now a little more ginger, a few more freckles have come out, my suitcase is still unpacked, I am probably a good couple of kg's heavier, but my heart is truly happy. We hit Marrakech, Morocco for a long weekend for a job with L'oreal. The job required us to have our hair coloured, do one show, and about a 15 minute rehearsal the night we arrived. The remaining time we were able to enjoy the sun, the hotel, the sights of Marrakech, food wine and cocktails, and each other's company. 

This is by far one of the best trips I've ever been on for a job. The other models are amazing girls. So often people perceive models to be from a different planet almost; a distant intangible world. It certainly feels we can be looked upon that way at times. We're not; we eat and drink and laugh and cry, we get tired, we feel insecure in a bikini after eating lunch, and we worry we may not ever measure up. But we also appreciate the good. These girls were amazing to spend time with.. We experienced the Souk together, purchased Moroccan slippers, and were briefly immersed in a slice of Moroccan market culture. The madness of an alternate parallel world in beautiful North Africa.. Monkeys, snake charmers, goats, camels, donkeys, sights that England can never provide. Market sellers and children probably as young as four or five willing to sell anything and everything for any kind of currency you may be carrying. Dressed up monkeys trained and tied up in chains. Donkeys and buggys as a means of transport, shepherds herding their sheep in the sunsets. The sunsets! The colours and warmth and the fact that you can watch the sun setting and never tire of how beautiful it looks.

Not to mention the partys and dinners and drinking the hairdressers of our profession seem to live for. These people party like no other. And with an entire L'oreal team, you can only imagine how this was!

Next job - back to reality for a shoot in Manchester today!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

To create beautiful things with beautiful people

This weekend I spent a day out in the snow filming a short fashion film and shooting some Polaroids along the way. We had been planning this for a while so it was amazing to finally get outside.. Even better because the scenery was so magical with the freshly falling snow.
I'll always say that one of the very best things about my job is being able to spend time with such wonderful people. This day was no exception.. I'm sure Rosie our lovely make up artist won't mind me sharing her tweet from the day.. She sums it up perfectly.
'The best thing about this job is when you create beautiful things with your friends'

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Happy birthday Anna

On the off-chance my Facebook and Twitter feed wasn't fully aware; it was Anna's 22nd birthday this weekend and she came up to visit me here in York. It was possibly the most wonderful few days we've ever spent together. We are both in a much more positive place than we have been previously, which therefore meant we could thoroughly enjoy all we had planned. As evidenced in our pictures, these birthday treats included wine, cocktails, pottery, walks in the snow by the river, sushi, the beautiful Lara, and of course, plenty of coffee, tea, and sweet macaroons.
Anna, this one is for you. For being the true essence and spirit of what friendship is about. x

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Tell me, how do you rate the morning sun?

Another post of frosty photographs. As I woke up this morning feeling considerably more human, I saw that it was minus 7 degrees outside so naturally decided to take a morning walk. It's revived me for my final afternoon ahead of essay writing.
The morning sun across the river couldn't be left uncaptured.

a spectacular snowfall

Before I conclude for the evening and rest my head to sleep, I wanted to share these pictures I took yesterday. Evidently, it has been snowing. And if, unlike the vast majority of the Twitter and Facebook population, you actually find some beauty in the snow; then you are not alone. OK, I'm not the biggest fan of cold feet and delayed public transport and chaotic roads, but if we actually pay attention to how the scenery is transformed with one simple change.. It's pretty spectacular. This will resonate on different levels and meanings for different people, but our view of our surroundings is changed even for just one day whether we like it or not. So why not just embrace it? I had to drop off and collect a few things at Uni, so of course I took some obligatory pictures en route. These pictures remind me of the many things I love about coming home. 'Home' is a place that has a sense of belonging; that is inviting and welcoming, even if no one is there but you. This is home. Arguably one 'home' of many, but nevertheless; it's home.

I have been simultaneously battling sickness and an essay today, attempting to academically discuss Gestalt theoretical concepts while writing about man's innate search for goodness and balance and the influences of Zen and Buddhism. My head is far too full of too many words that I doubt will ever make it into this essay. So for now, here are pictures to remind us of the simple and the beautiful.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Winter travelling

madness, beauty, and the unexpected surprises

Before even more days happen and there is even more to write about, I decided a small update detailing a few days in the life of a red headed Northern girl such as myself was due. After the shoot on Friday I spent a couple of hours when I got home working on some Uni assignments, finally submitting the last of my Psychology of Creativity papers (thank goodness!). The weekend was committed to doing some more Uni work, celebrating my sister's 19th birthday, giving gifts, enjoying the company of family and friends, and watching the much eagerly awaited film of Les Miserables. By the way, this was a beautifully portrayed story which requires a separate post for its review (very shortly!).

I then went back to London for a hair job, survived (and embraced) the snow and returned sporting the mane of a lion on my head. Well, not quite a lion, but after having the talented stylist Leah Walton work her magic on my ginger hair, I'd brushed it all out and it was rather Afro-esque. On reflection, perhaps this is why the two Asian girls in my carriage on the return journey didn't stop staring at me, even when I tried to play them at their own game and stare them out; they were like a child who hasn't yet developed their theory of mind. I stared back but they still did not break eye contact. Needless to say, I subtly moved myself and my belongings to the next carriage to enjoy my tea and tofu and avocado sushi in peace.

So, it seems I have well and truly hit the ground running back to the life of madness and beauty and the unexpected surprises. I have almost certainly been confirmed for a job in Marrakesh next week after Anna's birthday celebrations, both of which are certainly sustaining my essaying motivation. A positive mindset does indeed produce positive things. I must bear this in mind as I begin  my MA applications. I have begun this process, and while retrieving my A Level and GCSE certificates from home, it not only allowed a certain nostalgia to settle, but it once more dawned on me the realization that the life we have really is the life you create. There is a quote I think of often, that reminds us to build our life as beautiful as we want it to be. These are quite simple but profound words to live by. If we don't like something, change it.. If we need something, ask for it. If we appreciate something, say it. And if we are curious.. then ask.

So my MA applications are underway, my final assignment for January of which I am half way to completing is due on Friday. And yesterday I was granted ethical approval for my dissertation while receiving a fairly solid First for my research proposal. Never before have I had such an emotional response to a single grade, (while on the train may I add..) but I suppose with the dissertation being somewhat significant, I just felt blown away knowing that not only had I planned a dissertation that is do-able and meaningful, but it's verified and approved of as a pretty damn good plan by the head of the module. If ever I needed to achieve my full potential, it is now. Let these positive vibes continue..

I must share one more thought before I conclude and disappear for the evening to listen to James Vincent McMorrow and write this final essay, possibly accompanied with a glass of disaronno or two. I updated a status last week with words I think are always important to remember. They don't require any action or regret, the reminder just helps us be.

Remembering people who impacted your life is a mutual thing: They don't forget you either.

So often we invite people into our lives unintentionally, (or intentionally) and they end up impacting our life in such a way that it is difficult to imagine it any other way. Maybe it's not realized at the time.. Maybe it's not realized until five years later, or perhaps for some instances it takes a lifetime to truly see the impact others have had upon ourselves. But on a smaller scale, someone said this to me a year or so ago and it really struck a chord. It seems it still hits home now. On one level it surprises me, but on the other hand, if one person stays in your memory so truthfully, why would you not remain in theirs? Just a thought.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

the fashion world is as odd as any

This week has been one of those weeks where it reaches Friday and you find yourself thinking 'it's Friday already??' And yes, it was Friday yesterday. It was my first shoot of 2013 - at Haydock Park Racecourse for a 'races' themed editorial. It was me and another model, Kaitlin and we were both very FREEZING models. Usually I can take the coldness. I took it yesterday too, but it knocked me for six. I was asleep by 10.30pm and slept for about 12 hours.. Anyone who thinks being a model is all glamour, please do try standing outside in a tiny dress trying to look beautiful and elegant in weather that is misty and cold enough to see your own breath each time you breathe out with a team with you who are all wrapped up in their warm winter layers. This is an example of how the fashion world is as odd as any.. Nothing makes sense yet we try our hardest to make ourselves belong; it's mid-winter and we shoot spring/summer. It'll get to summer and we'll be shooting winter woolies and ski-wear. It is indeed a mixed up world we live in.
It was a good shoot to start the year of work with, and was wonderful to meet Matt Stansfield the photographer. As always, one of the best things about my job is working with new creatives and meeting new people all the time. It keeps life from being dull.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

the light at the end of the tunnel

Even the most spirited and joyful people suffer the lows. I think it comes with the metaphorical contract we sign when we agree to live this thing we call 'life'. We cannot hide from that fact, nor can we turn a blind eye to others or ourselves when we feel them. I am writing this in light of my observations.. It is OK to be positive. In fact, it is more than OK; it's bloody wonderful. What a gift it is to feel joy and share it. But I highly doubt that it's really real if we don't feel what it's like to be on the other side. It seems to be such a skilfully balanced life we must lead.
I decided to walk a different route to a meeting this afternoon, which led me down a small street with a house on it named 'The Doll's House' (very real people living inside!). Anyway, I could barely look up to see where I was walking because the sun was almost blinding my view. This was the sun.. And this, is the strength of the light at the end of the tunnel.

a single view

This afternoon when I arrived back home I took our Christmas tree down and packed it away in its box ready for where ever I may be living next year. I removed the Christmas cards from my bedroom wall and decided that the appropriate time had come to finally say farewell to the holiday season. Reality has undoubtedly found me once more. However, reality has found me not with a loud crash and bang; more a kind and gentle nudge as I slowly work my way through my January assignments and I start booking some shoots for this month.
Below is my picture of the day: The views of a train traveller. Do we ever tire of the same view? I don't think I will.. A single view is never exactly the same. And even if it were, what we see is often a reflection of our own thoughts and feelings. our view is largely a perceived personal interpretation rather than a definitive view of the universal truth.
There is a quality I like about the authenticity, the  loneliness, and the misty skies of this photograph.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

the motto of 2013

This evening one of my very best friends, Victoria Moor (Moor to you and I) and myself had a wonderful evening in at my house. We were not able to spend New Years together, so we decided to recreate our very own New Years celebration a week later, because why not? We incorporated moments of peace and zen while burning my ever so beautiful incense sticks I received as part of a gift from the wonderful Irish soul Aisling. We enjoyed tea, disaronno, (on my part..) Betty's chocolate treats, and sushi. Oh, and of course the writing of our 2013 resolutions-aka-motto for the year. We chatted about many many things.. Many, many things. An actress and a model together for the evening shall have some rather unconventional but thrilling life discussions.

See below my 2013 plans and a few pictures..

2. Focus on the positives: the rest will follow
3. Start my Masters
4. Continue writing
5. A smile a day...
6. Remember the value in always expressing appreciation
7. Save money!
8. Keep my creativity
9. Continue blogging
10. Make good use of my passport
11. Discover my party piece!

Monday, 7 January 2013

a new week

As I was reading the pages of Tim Walker's 'Pictures' book last night, I came across this page that was too good just to keep to myself.
'Stop worrying'
What a wonderful message to start a Monday morning with... Let us each calm the worries that fill our mind each day. It is a far greater concept to live life with curiosity and freedom than to live each day in fear of what the next may bring.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

An exquisite philosophy of living

'Using your heart as a guide to what you find beautiful is the best way.'
- Tim Walker, Story Teller, 2012. 

Much of this evening I have been writing and researching for my research project on Tim Walker that I am currently working on. It is about half way there now, and I admit, I am quite enjoying learning more about this man. He has some powerfully insightful thoughts about the way he views the world and how he reacts to what he sees in order for it to make sense and feel beautiful for him. After all, how can we feel at home in a place that we don't entirely understand?

I wanted to share the above words because they really resonate with much of my own current thought processes and most definitely summarize today. I am in my final year of University, about to embark on the final modules in fact. And that, in itself is quite possibly the most real it has ever felt. Endings are not a concept I think of fondly, but this must change because the more of life we live, the more endings we must embrace and it will do no good to go about life constantly dreading the goodbyes and forgetting to live in the process. This ending in May not only signifies the end of a degree and saying goodbye to a place and people I have grown close to, but it actually means the ending of a degree of security... I will no longer have the financial safety of a student loan to cover the rent of my house and my tuition fees. I will be a year older, there will be higher expectations of me, I am faced with the internal battle of whether the sacrifice of moving back home will be for the greater good in order to save money, or whether continuing living as I do now is best in order to protect my own sanity. And in addition to this, I will (hopefully) be beginning my Masters course. I have to feel capable of this.. I have to know that each area of my life that I've spent my lifetime so far nurturing and developing is not going to fall to pieces at the first sign of change. I have to feel safe in my knowledge that I am capable and in following what feels right; what I value the most, that somehow things will be OK.

I am the only one responsible for making it OK, and it is becoming strikingly clear to me, that the only way to  find your way is by trusting and keeping the things that matter held firmly in your life. I spoke to my mother last night over the phone, and I remember this phrase that I said and it's been in my mind all day: 'How have I created this life for myself.. Is this really my life?' I said this almost in disbelief, from a very positive and affirming mindset. Because I seem to have combined all the things I value and never thought could work together, but they do. I suppose the fear is that when I graduate and I lose a little financial security, that I will no longer have the freedom and flexible lifestyle needed to maintain the modelling career I have, or that my voluntary work will have to be sacrificed, or I will be unable to pursue my writing aspirations, that I will just be in over my head. I had been convinced that your life path is one solid path only, but I am learning that it's not. We have to combine the things that make us whole otherwise it's not really life at all.

Perhaps I am merely writing this to ease my mind and somehow convince myself of those words we are often told: Trust in the process. Follow what we find beautiful: the exquisite philosophy this post is named after. If we do that, there can only be more beauty to be discovered.

Friday, 4 January 2013

the 'jar of appreciation'

This is my new project: my 'jar of appreciation'.
It is a similar concept to that of a piggy bank/money saving jar, but rather than saving my spare cash, (which I probably should be doing too..) I will be  compiling a collection of small notes detailing the daily things we see that often go unnoticed, or if they are noticed, the moment passes faster than we even have time to give much thought to our appreciation. I will document the the encounters I have with those closest to me and strangers alike.. The random acts of kindness, the things that bring joy and make me smile, the relationships I value, and the moments I may one day forget.
One personal aim this year is to always express my gratitude. I will not only express it, but I will remember it. Who knows, this may one day be part of something much bigger.