Thursday, 28 February 2013

Thursday afternoon

It seems the positive vibes from my smiley face orange yesterday worked wonders today. I confirmed my second dissertation participant - this means next week I will be holding two of my very own interviews. I hope I'm up to the task.
The sun was on my side too. I spent most of this afternoon, apart from an hours tutorial, on the top floor of the University library on one of the sofa/table sections. Being the top floor, there are really large windows and I was really comfortable being alone sat in the glorious sunshine as I read books and drank coffee. I haven't spent an entire afternoon doing this since last summer when I spent lots of time alone reading in coffee shops. This is my feeling of being at home.

What does a shoe really mean?

Because I am a model and I work in the fashion industry, much of my social networking site news feeds are regularly updated with news of Fashion Weeks, new campaigns, models,  exciting collaborations, discovering up and coming talents while celebrating and respecting the older and established ones. And many of these updates come from people I class as my friends. I often think back to when I started modelling - oh, how much has changed in these three years. It's be fair to say that my entire life has been altered. But I think that's a good subject for another post entirely.

I began modelling absolutely unaware that I was about to meet some pretty wonderful human beings, and that at some point these incredible souls would stop being 'just another model/ make up artist/photographer/stylist/etc' that I worked with that one time, and they would become someone I adored to spend time with. People I travel and share my life with. This is not to say that there are no absolute egotistical and arrogant beings too - of course there are. People become successful and make more money than they require, they become accustomed to a life of champagne and stars and first class travel and the rest is an alternative world to them. I doubt they realize it - so it's unfair to hold it against them. But for so many reasons, it's sad, that it happens.

I was prompted to write this relatively early post (it's 9.20am) as I scrolled down my Facebook news feed to find an update from one of the above industry professionals. I love a good meaningful and empowering quote or extract of writing as much as the next person. In fact, much of my writing is often influenced by a message or extract from words and stories I've read or seen or come across. I like these said 'quotes' because they connect us with something/someone bigger than ourselves. Words are extremely powerful and if we find words that we connect with, it's important that we keep hold of them. They speak volumes about who we are as people.

However, there seems to be an increasing amount of updates from people often immersed in the fashion lifestyle who share such 'words of wisdom'. I try to understand the influence of these words and the meaning of them but truthfully, sometimes it just reminds me that as much as there are many wonderful things about beauty and fashion - the art, creativity and expression, tentative (and often bold) experiments of new ideas. The eccentricity, and the attempts to convey a rather troubled world in a way that reminds us that beauty is still very much all around us. I like all of those things. However, I wonder what this quote that I just came across actually means... Surely it must mean more than I interpreted:

'The real proof of an elegant woman is what is on her feet.'

Is this really, honestly, the real proof of an elegant woman? Do we really judge a woman by the shoes she wears on her feet? If so, I dread to think of the values and attitudes society projects on us now. We wonder where our impossible, and sometimes entirely irrational expectations come from. A notion that places so much value and judgement on appearances that the essence of who we are can be entirely lost. It is not just a shoe, it's a woman's choice of clothing, her make-up, her hair, her job, car, 'perfect' 2.5 children and handsome husband at home, her body, her weight.. All these factors help contribute to a person's externally perceived appearance and create a 'picture' of how she can be viewed and therefore judged by those she presents herself to. So, it is no longer about a pair of shoes which represent her elegance, but it's about how a person chooses to present herself to the world and how the people in her world respond to this. It's food for thought. I just don't like this idea at all. It seems highly superficial that we should only think of a woman as elegant if she has a beautiful pair of Louboutins on her feet.

It should be pointed out, that to me, elegance is beautiful. And actually, Louboutins are incredibly uncomfortable and my feet are scarred from wearing them on jobs - there's no beauty in that!
Elegance is an exquisite quality that combines polar opposite characteristic qualities and abilities in a beautiful way. It means delicate strength, dignified and humble confidence, and a way of being that is naturally graceful and simple, yet all of this is carried in such an effortless and authentic manner. It is carried always - when that person wears sandals on the beach, ski boots in the snow, slippers indoors, and yes, if and when she wears the new season Jimmy Choo's.

I think that this suggests strength of a person, not strength of the pair shoes they wear on their feet.
So, happy Thursday morning. Although this may seem an odd concept to write about on a Mid-week morning while I drink my coffee, I thought it was an important one to consider, and one that's been running through my mind for a while. This update was posted by the Vogue UK Facebook page, by the way.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A reminder

We were in a dissertation writing workshop this afternoon which concluded along these lines: In order to write a successful dissertation, one must own a diary (or a man-bag) and one must delegate tasks. We were given these little oranges (and some string) for an exercise to demonstrate the importance of concise and focused writing that flows in a logical manner with the argument maintained throughout. Sounds simple, right?
At the end of the workshop I drew a smiley face on my orange as a meaningful and personal reminder to stay positive and to focus on the good. To keep looking ahead. 

When life feels like its speeding ahead at a hundred miles an hour, we either sink or swim. There really is no safe and comfortable in-between. We have to just run with it - jump on a speed boat if we must. We just need to have faith that the boat will be kind to us and slow down as it hits the waves and we will have a life jacket as support just in case we fall off.

It is Wednesday evening already. With the exception of yesterday, when I took time out to see lovely people and enjoy lunch time coffee and evening cherry amaretto cocktails, from which I happily wandered home in a semi-drunk glazed over state. So, with the exception of yesterday, this week is one of very weird dreams, reading about integrative counselling, literature reviewing, participating in dissertation experiments while attempting to seek out participants for my own study - much harder than I anticipated. I've been chasing up references, placements, people, people, people, emails. More emails are going in and out of my mailbox than there ever has been. I finally have my first interview with a participant confirmed for next week. And I cannot shake out of my mind the fact that I have no idea where I am positioned on the 'will I/will I not get a place on the post grad course I so desperately want' debate in my head. And having not had a job in two weeks perhaps, I felt the need to subtly email my booker at the agency to remind her that I am still alive.

Below is a picture of my creation today: the 'happy orange'. Because a gentle reminder of the power of positivity is sometimes what we need :)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sunday morning thought

'Welcome out of the cave my friend.
It's a bit colder out here but the stars are just beautiful.'
- Plato

Bodies and hearts

'Sharing stories and learning about people is the most fascinating and intriguing thing. It always reminds me of humanity and the realness of people. We are not just bodies with beating hearts, we have so much depth'

I hope Sam won't mind me sharing a little extract of our extensive conversation this evening. It is just past midnight and I have a real coffee craving but of course there is no hope of sleeping if I make myself the vanilla soy coffee I'm craving, so instead, I am listening to acoustic Ben Howard and doing a little writing and reading and hoping that at some point in the not too distant future my brain will decide it's far enough in the evening hours to permit sleeping. 

Sam and I have been exchanging messages most of tonight, just talking, and it's nice to have company even though this lovely friend is not actually here. I'm sure if she was, we'd be indulging in cocktails or wine doing what ladies do on a Saturday evening. 

Our conversation has reminded me of the things I value. The ability to share stories and learn about someone, and ourselves, in an open and real way is really what keeps life alive. What are we without our depth? We would be just bodies.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Sunday is my favourite day again

'The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. That's guaranteed. I can't begin to explain that. Or the craziness inside myself and everyone else. But guess what? Sunday is my favourite day again.'
- The Silver Linings Playbook.

Plans for this weekend had been re-scheduled in favour of some 'me-time' and work and reading and research. For catching up on myself and my thoughts and the ever expanding to-do list. However, life is life and life never stops. This morning I received a message from a friend so we went for a drink and to watch a film. This friend, this cup of tea, and this film were what I needed. No significant amount of work has been done, my thoughts have not even been considered, my to-do list is still hiding in my unopened diary, and I miss the man I was meant to spend my weekend with so much.

'The Silver Linings Playbook' is the film we saw and one I highly recommend. It's been out for a while and I'm not sure if it's still showing at most cinemas. We went to the picture house in town and it was perhaps a weekly showing which makes me think it's not showing at bigger cinemas any more. However, it was perfect viewing for a Saturday afternoon. A gentle reminder of the power of a simple positive mental attitude and an easy Saturday afternoon viewing of Bradley Cooper - how can this be anything but wonderful?

Thursday, 21 February 2013

On 'playing the waiting game'

Currently I am re-discovering some good Travis albums. ('Sing' is now 12 years old!?? 12 years old and still a beauty of a track.) I'm contemplating, living, and distracting myself from life playing the 'waiting game' - although admittedly I have to say, nothing about this feels like a 'game'. However, there seems to be nothing 'gamely' about the Hunger Games either but that doesn't stop us referring to such a thing as a game. I am not playing and this is not a game, but I am living it nevertheless.

It is what it is, but there is an awful lot of 'waiting' in combination with a huge sense of urgency this week. Those two words don't seem to join together in harmony; waiting and urgency. I seem to be waiting for participant responses so I can proceed with interviewing dissertation participants. I am waiting for references to be sent back to me for my Masters applications, waiting for potential maybe interviews or rejections, and waiting for replies from emails about potential volunteering or jobs. Waiting for life to move when it is in fact, moving far too rapidly. There is a huge irony in that sentence. There are so many emails in my sent box and not as many as I'd hoped for in my inbox.

My impatience will not get the better of me and worrying about that which I cannot control will not interfere with my focus on doing all I can do for now. However, I think there's an inherent aspect of human nature that gives me a little permission to feel eager yet anxious and want for more of this to feel in control. So, is this merely a game by which I must adhere to the rules of playing, or can I continue living while the moves of the game are simultaneously performed? Time (which is rapidly running out) shall tell...

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Tuesday views

Today's train travel views were on my early afternoon trip back from Harrogate to York.
The sky is blue.
The grass is green.
Oh, simple things. Is this a sign that Spring is coming?

on trusting in the process

All the days and weeks seem to be spinning ever so fast at the moment. Hours and days and weeks all roll into one continuous stream of emails, bookings, dinners, lectures, reading, wine, photoshoots, train journeys, birthdays, dissertation, meetings, tutorials, disrupted sleep, friends in need, me needing friends, snow, rain, sunshine, agents, writing, learning, planning ahead, application forms, worries and anticipation and fear and just life. Life is so filled with such momentous and essential things that I find myself doing/thinking/feeling the most irrational things at times because the 'current being' is not at all being given a glance. There is so much focus on the future and completing to-do lists and responding to emails and requests and bookings that the entire concept of just 'being' does not feel lived out at all. Or perhaps it is. If life really is the way we choose it to be and we really do create our own experience, then perhaps this is 'being' after all.

'Being' is to be surrounded by life and all the things that involves. I always assumed that such a concept requires us to position ourselves somewhere on the circumference of life's great circle because being in the middle of the chaos is too busy and the noise clouds our ability to just peacefully be. I see now that my reality is not a peaceful view from the outside; it is very much madness and a life of so many things to do. So I either drown in the chaos or I approach each day armed with as much determination as humanly possible.

There are always jobs and castings and work that comes up. Admittedly, some months much more than others. Most models know and adapt to a job that's almost like a game of opposite ends - all or nothing. Such an ideal as a 'happy medium' doesn't quite exist. This would be considered a 'perfect world', and as helpfully highlighted last week by my dissertation supervisor at University, although we are quite aware that a 'perfect world' only exists in the imagination of certain idealist types, even if it did really exist, it might not be as appealing as we anticipate it to be. To be an imperfect being in a perfect world.. How would one survive?

I am finding time for those important to me. No matter what, I think that must be maintained. I spent the evening at home last night  and was able to have much needed conversations with my mum before celebrating Moor's birthday over cupcakes, flowers, dinner, and cocktails. Then I had a coffee with Janine this morning, a friend from home who I used to work with before life became this crazy one I seem to have now. I was even able to catch Brys for a short while before taking the train back to York. I now have an hour or so spare before going to visit another friend in Leeds this evening. These things are all so important. It is beyond important to make time for the people who make a difference, because life has a funny and often ironic way of presenting itself - we must 'be' with those that matter for the time that we do have. Who knows how it might change.

A lot of energy over the past while has been spent going over and over in my mind and with a couple of tutors, friends, and my mum my options and applications for my Masters. I have a very powerful head vs heart debate going on and it's both full of so much freedom yet such a desire to do what feels right and safe and sensible all at the same time. I will make all these things exist - my mind will make it so. And I will equally trust in the process of the next few months in the hopes that clarity is found. Positive energy... All the positive energy is required for this next step. My vision of how I'd like next year to look is starting to form into a reality. I'm sitting at my laptop right now and have just had an email from one of my references saying that they have already received their reference request - a sure sign that the university are on the ball with getting the interview process moving. Following some conversations with my tutor and mum that have proved beyond helpful,  I actually feel incredibly well supported in something that could otherwise seem quite lonely. Although this is undoubtedly the first time I've had to make decisions like this, I am going down a route that most definitely seems good for now. Trusting in the process... (and convincing myself that this is enough!)

So, it is a fact: Life has become very very full indeed. Post grad applications are submitted, dissertation mission is underway, placement and work opportunities are always being explored, I am determined to be saving as much money as I can, which means a commitment to working as much as I can, and I cannot find it in myself to sacrifice time spent with the people important to me.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The music of the streets

When in York and browsing the streets of the city centre, no matter what the time of day, time of year, or weather extremes; chances are one of these individuals/bands are filling the streets with their music. I have a few musician friends here and with York being a relatively small city, it wouldn't be a surprise if through the six (or less!) degrees of separation, I am connected to some of these talented people.
This is just one of the things I love about being in York. A common theme of my recent writing is that of travel and not spending lengthy amounts of time at home. This being said, when I am here and in town, unless in an urgent rush I will always stop to listen and watch. Some tracks are originals, some are covers of some of my favourite songs, and they are always played with such authenticity and enthusiasm. This kind of thing is an example of those small, small things that make life richer and more beautiful. I think that a combination of music and words speak very loudly

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A story of work, play, snow and rain

It was the day before yesterday and I was booked on a job that required me to model dressing gowns... yes. Not the most thrilling, but certainly wearing slippers and dressing gowns all day was a novelty, and a gladly welcomed novelty at that. Guy Farrow is an easy photographer to work with, so we had an even more relaxed atmosphere on set with no mad rush to get through as many looks as possible.

I did have a relatively traumatic experience on my way to the studio when my taxi driver finally confessed that he was indeed lost, and he proceeded to blame me for the fact that he was lost. AND then charged me an extortionate taxi fare for his own wrong-doing. But hey - we are all human, and so on. So after a mild break-down in the back of the taxi, I spoke to the agency and the photographer and got in a mini state because I was late and it was all beyond my control...

After this ordeal the day significantly improved. I realize that the days I love my job are the days when the people make it that way. And the days I feel so negatively about it are the days I feel some kind of negative vibes surrounding the people I'm working with. This speaks very loudly about the things I value and find meaning in. People... People, people, people continue to form this world as we know it. We provide layers and structure and meaning to an otherwise very monotonous and relatively insignificant world that would remain a constant stream of constants. We help keep the world connected. We are all small beings. Small, but very important beings who are all part of a much bigger picture than we could ever envision. It's a magical concept.

It had been snowing all afternoon and consequently the city was in chaos. So much so that I decided to get out of the taxi after an hour in stand still traffic on the way back from the studio. It was of course snowy and cold and rather unpleasant but it didn't matter because I was meeting Jamie and we went for dinner with Rosie ('Rosie make up' as Jamie calls this lovely, lovely lady) and Simon (her husband). It was lovely. These are some of the above mentioned people who play a role in painting the bigger picture of the world a more beautiful and detailed one.

Friday, 15 February 2013

A Valentine's post

Valentine's day is typically a day for celebrating happiness and those who bring that happiness into our lives. This year is the first year I have actually embraced such a thing. These are the beautiful flowers given to me.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Bridal work

It's been a while since I posted some work. There was a time when I posted tests and tear sheets very frequently but as time has progressed I've somewhat neglected sharing the final images here. I was browsing the internet and came across these pictures from a bridal job I did a few months ago. They are not your typical bridal pictures; I think that's why I like them. As a model it's not our job to 'like' everything we wear, we just have to wear it, make the client happy, and make it look good. But this wasn't too much of a challenge... These dresses are quite lovely. And we had a super lovely team on the job - always a positive.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Time in York

It seems that lately so much time has been spent away from home. I've barely seen my housemate, I'm in the third week of Uni and only just organizing my files, I don't spend so much time in Uni and I miss my friends there so much that I am praying for time to slow down just a little so I don't have to rush off as soon as class is over. And I am currently attempting to arrange a good time for a simple coffee with my good friends in Harrogate and there really seems to be a struggle to find time. We at least have a birthday celebration next week to enjoy.

So, as I am scarcely spending good time at home these days, I thought I would share a few pictures of the simple sights of York as I passed by town today. I shall not will time to slow down; I really don't think anything I do can control such an elusive and intangible thing as time. But I shall continue trying to adapt and fully make use of the hours we do have. We have no more and no less. Isn't this what we are put on this planet to do?

my sisters and I

In my family, I take on the role as being the eldest of four siblings, but this weekend was dedicated entirely to the three Beetham sisters. Bryony and I went to visit Frankie at University in Durham, and then Brys spent an extra night with me here in York. We did what only sisters do best: Chatted, walked, ate good food, drank wine, and discovered a beautiful little coffee shop which of course pleased me greatly. We explored the castle, town, shops, riverside walks, watched movies, and laughed so much at perhaps the silliest of things but lovely silly things nevertheless.
Bryony is 14 and still in high school. Frankie is in the first year of her law degree. And I am a model and in the final year of my Psychology and Counselling studies degree. We are each building entirely different lives for ourselves but we have the same foundations. I read once that there is always one sister who shines and the other lives in her shadow. Does this really happen in some families? This suggestion couldn't be further from the truth for us; we only need this weekend to prove such a statement to be blindingly wrong.
This post is for my sisters - for being beautiful and truly irreplaceable. x

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Morning thoughts: questions and answers

From London to Manchester to Leeds to Morocco, back to Manchester, to Suffolk and now to Birmingham. Not forgetting university and my work as a mentor of course.

A model friend of mine updated her Facebook status this morning, paraphrasing my exact thought process as I walked to the train station this morning. She wrote that if we collected miles from travelling on trains in a similar way one collects air miles, she would have accumulated a considerably large amount. I echo this sentiment entirely. I am sat on the train with the morning sun almost blinding me at the moment. I've enjoyed a hazelnut coffee and now I have 1.5 hours left of this journey before arriving in Birmingham for today's beauty shoot.

When a model turns up to a job and works with a new make up artist or stylist or member of the creative team, we are usually asked a series of pretty predictable questions; of which we have already answered many times before to various people so we don't think too much, we just answer.
These are questions such as
'How long have you been modelling for?'
'How did you get scouted?'
'Is that your natural hair colour?'
'Whats the best job you've done?'
'Do you model full time?'
'How old are you?'

After these questions are asked and answers are established, I suppose then you're eligible for an opinion to be formed of you based upon your experience and the richness of your life. I don't know whether some just ask these questions because they need to form an opinion so they know what to expect of you on the job, or whether they have genuine interest in you as a human being. I suspect there are people who come from both sides. I like to think that people are interested though. I ask such questions back because you're forming working relationships with such people and I think it's wonderful to know a little more otherwise the day is based upon superficial knowledge and conversation.

I was asked a few days ago how many shoots I've done.. And this was a somewhat difficult one to answer because I genuinely couldn't begin to know or recall everything. It really surprised me. Sometimes I still feel a little asif I'm just 'playing the role' as it were.. Like I'm still learning the ropes. I worry I may not be good enough or I may not meet expectations or I turn up to jobs and clients are disappointed because I'm too short or not the right size or my hair isn't the right colour or the clothes don't fit or I can't give them the right looks. I worry I go through the day not measuring up to their expectations. Perhaps this is irrational, or perhaps this is what most models feel at some point. It might make sense; when being sold as something 'perfect' but perfection really isn't a thing that exists without a lot of post-editing and photoshopping, it's not a great surprise that these worries exist.

You would think that after three years and with me being absolutely unable to recall everything I've done, that this is enough experience to not have these doubts.

I think maybe it's human nature. I have been exposed to some professionals who are at the top of their game. They earn a lot of money and are good at what they do, but with their persona comes a touch of arrogance and not a hint of humility. Their feet are no longer touching the ground any more. I'm sure this is not a quality most people value, but it sure provides a little variation in this world.

This is more than I intended to write on a sunny February morning while on the train. I suppose I have to be productive in these hours!

I took a photo of the skies.. They look so dramatic this morning.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

pebbled beach adventures

Yesterday saw my job take me to the coast of Suffolk to shoot for a beautiful delicate scarf designer's collection. It was cold. In fact, it was beyond cold. We faced all the weather the gods threw at us; wind, snow, rain, even a little sunbeam among the madness. However, we braved the skies and elements as we shot in fields and on the pebbled beaches, setting up base in the most lovely pub just next to the beach. Despite this perhaps being the coldest location shoot I've ever done, and having just returned from Morocco, from the warmth, and then working inside on a studio shoot this week, it was a shock to the system. We wrapped up the final look as the sun was setting and got back into the car. Mark the photographer turned to me and said 'Tan, you look shocked!' and yes! The coldness had shocked me indeed. It was really good to work with Mark again, and catch up on all that seems to happen in the space of about two years since we first had our test shoot together.

The client was so lovely, and regardless of the weather we maintained good spirits! Perhaps this was due to the client buying us coffees and teas for constant energy boosts and breaks. She also treated us to lunch and dinner (The pub served the most delicious food). Particularly enjoyed by the open fire in early evening when we had finished the shoot. We located ourselves in one of the rooms and chatted, looked through our work, and just enjoyed spending time with a really cool bunch of people.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Something beautiful

Some of the most commonly appearing photographs in my iPhone camera photo album are my impromptu moments of capturing the views of the country as seen from inside the train carriage. Since the vast majority of my waking hours are spent travelling I suppose this only seems natural.
This morning at 7am I journeyed from York to Doncaster to Grantham and then to Suffolk. Quite a journey.. But for a very worthwhile day shooting. I am on the train now heading back up north. But unfortunately all I see out of the windows is pure blackness.. It is 11.15pm after all.
Here are some early morning views.