Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ten steps ahead?

I finally have time to post a blog... a brief post nonetheless. I am sat in my living room having just this minute submitted the Clinical Psychology essay which is due in three days. One down, many more to go... But one down is a better position than where I was at this morning. Well, this morning I woke up sufficiently exhausted after what can only be described as a day of complete madness the day before. I woke with a faint post-wine headache and my best friend urging me to wake up so we could go for coffee before she had to leave York. We did go for a soy cappuccino and macaroons and it was really, really lovely.

In fact not only was yesterday complete madness, I had a tutorial first thing in the morning, then went to Manchester to check in at the agency and go for a casting. I also had a really exciting travel opportunity to Mumbai given to me which I'm currently debating. I knew my 'serious' head would be challenged in the not too distant future. Do I practice what I preach and grab life and all it has to offer me? Open the doors which are practically opened for me? Or do I stick around for something else which might be part of the bigger picture? Key word being 'might'... It's that phrase 'Carpe Diem' - How can we ever really seize the moment and live freely with an open-minded attitude if we're constantly living ten steps ahead of ourselves? Living ten steps ahead is a sure fire way to kill any chance of truly seizing the opportunities that the moment provides. It actually blinds us a little to what might have been because we are so certain that the future is all that matters. The present shapes the future... Therefore, in order to shape the best future for ourselves, surely we must focus on shaping the best life we can for what we have right now. We cannot neglect the present. Surely it's better while I'm still relatively commitment free (other than my house) to do a little travelling again and embrace the aspects of travelling that I know I love. I have spent two summers living away and out of a suitcase... it comes with pros and cons and it's sparked off all sorts of questions in my mind.

Anyway, yesterday - after casting I rushed across town to a job that afternoon and evening. I arrived back home at approximately 11.30pm when Anna and I drank wine until the point where our memories fade into sleep. It was one of those days where I have to step back and have a reality check in order to keep myself in the real world. It's one of those weeks really.. Weeks, months, years.

I have to say, submitting this assignment is simultaneous minor relief but mainly much trepidation because I know there's much more ahead. My perfectionism is striving right now to make it near impossible for me to feel like what I'm doing is even approaching being measurably good enough. But hey, we have to maintain that driving power. It's part of motivation and life, but it's also a little soul destroying. Bitter-sweet balance must be achieved.

Madness illustrated via pictures...

Saturday, 27 April 2013

A red headed series of events


Yesterday was the best birthday my life has given me so far. It was because I hadn't stressed, I hadn't planned a lot, I was not afraid of turning a year older, in fact, I am excited and shall embrace all that being 24 has to offer. And regardless of everything else, I trust in people. I trust in going with things, more so than I have ever known how to do. I haven't ever really known such a concept existed until the past year or so. But I think sometimes, that putting up a fiercely defiant fight uses up more energy than it would if we could just let things be. Last year I didn't tell any one of my friends that it was my birthday approaching and I removed my birthday from Facebook. Truth be told, I don't quite remember what I did, and then I realized that being on the other side of the fence in that situation is not a nice feeling at all. Being a sister or a best friend of a person who doesn't want to celebrate the day they were born...? It's sad to see someone you love unable to reciprocate that love toward themselves. There is an amazing kind of love that we hold for family and friends - the ones we trust, we have a certain kind of immeasurable love for. At least that's how it feels for me anyway. So I decided to go with it this year. I let things be.

So despite being in the midst of what I refer to as this 'third year nightmare', the end is approaching far too soon. Just far too soon, and deadlines and exams are approaching along with 'the end'. Jobs and jobs and jobs, everything associated with leaving student life but reaching that heartbreaking realization which is inevitable for the ending of most good things in life. We didn't even know what we'd immersed ourselves in until the end was in sight, and having the end in sight means that it very almost IS the end. It's that age old concept of not truly appreciating all that something is until you're at the end. The universe shall continue to work in strange and compelling ways to throw more and more things our way which of course, we will fight and resist and never truly embrace until we've fully understood and then it'll be the end. I think these are sometimes some of the hardest lessons to learn. 

Back to my birthday... It was wonderful. I had two (and a half) days to spend with the people who chose to spend it with me. We had lunches, dinners, wine, cocktails, late nights, close friends, all my family, gifts, flowers, cards... I really am ridiculously reflective and grateful tonight.When I feel this way I am always hit with a strong urge to write about how beautiful and good the world is and how I am surrounded by the most incredible people... But I shall refrain from such sentimentally driven writing. There's a time and place! But equally, it is so important that we tell those who matter that they are valued and that they are not taken for granted.

I am so hopeful and have faith that this year shall be a year of goodness...

Monday, 22 April 2013

What a weekend means

'That's what weekends are for'... is the essence of much advice given to me lately on the subject of taking a break from commitments in order to enjoy some downtime over the weekend. People trying to make it 'OK' for me to take time off while I struggle with this concept greatly, because life for me does not stop at the weekend. Life is one continuous flow of events... A week consists of seven days and time does not miraculously stand still just because it's Saturday or Sunday. Each day has as much potential as the next, and we are well within our rights to dictate how our days shall be spent. Sure, I am a great believer and advocate of balance and understanding what we need as an individual. But that's precisely it; we are all individual, so we must allow ourselves a break as and when needed, in whichever form this may take.

It's all relative. It's deemed 'socially acceptable' to leave worries and commitments aside for those two days of the week. I'm acutely aware that this is partly owing to my inability to settle for anything less than my best, but I struggle with a 'wasted day', and I'm sure I am not alone in this. Part of me would love nothing more than the ability to compartmentalize my life but something about the way I work means that this is a near impossible challenge, at least for the present moment. 

To look back and regret not making the most of the time available is perhaps one of the feelings I most fear. I think this is why I strive to fill the days, and life with as much as humanly possible, because time is a paradoxical thing. It seems momentarily to be eternally present, yet it's not; it is irreplaceable and it never, ever stops.

It is Monday now and my day has been spent mentoring at the high school I work at, and pressing on with the dissertation that was semi-neglected over the weekend. However, the weekend, I believe was balanced in a way which made sense for me. As evidenced, I cannot take the entire weekend off, but when opportunity presents itself to take an afternoon in the early summer sunshine (did I perhaps just mention the word 'summer'....?) then it seemed too right not to. We had each others company, the car, the sun was so beautiful, and we wanted nothing more than to escape just for an afternoon. Nothing in this world is perfect, but very few things could prove imperfections to exist. As I said; time is momentarily eternal.

Friday, 19 April 2013

'If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.'

Writing a dissertation is challenging for many reasons. I suspect for many reasons that I don't even realize right now either, but with a month to go until the deadline, it feels rather relevant to take the time to reflect on exactly why the task I'm in the middle of feels so much like 'finding the wood from the trees'. It is easy to become too focused on one aspect that you lose sight of the bigger picture. One must always keep a hold of the whole picture, even if in the background, otherwise the task of making sense of it all is unnecessarily magnified and we lose perspective, among other things.

The predominant feeling is one of self-distrust. Which I guess is one most students feel to some degree when writing an assignment in which their viewpoint is illustrated. How does one trust in their own voice, their own decisions, and their ability to confidently walk down the right path rather than the one that just looks right. How do we trust that a few miles down that path, the path that seemed safe won't just tail off and the streetlights won't fade out leaving us entirely alone and in the dark. A dissertation in it's nature is entirely self-driven. How can one write a grounded and convincing piece when deep down I'm not even sure that I convince myself. I am writing about attachment theory and eating disorders. This is a subject that I know fairly well, but still, I find myself questioning all that I do and write. Are my findings ridiculously and blindingly obvious? Have I pulled out the themes of substance or have I just located the ones I thought were right? There is no room or time for self-distrust when in order to write a piece of substance, I must trust that the issues I discuss are real.

There is a hell of a responsibility that falls hand in hand with research. I am under no illusions that life is not anything more than us taking responsibility for who we are and what we do... But this dissertation is the final hurdle of my degree and I've never written something that has so much attached to it. Perhaps I am currently living in a warped third-year-view-of-life, but I do believe that this piece of work carries weight. I have proposed and planned my research, I have written interviews, sourced participants, been lucky enough to meet some incredible people and hear their views and stories. I have then analysed and pulled out themes which I have to trust myself are real meaningful themes and not just my self-perceived themes of importance. There's the responsibility, and here is where self-trust is required. I think a sense of creativity is needed, in that the mind must allow room for flexibility and discussion and free-flowing ideas. This open-mindedness is as much applied to life as it is to our work. If you begin research with the same thoughts that you end it with, perhaps that's all it was, but I'd be questioning whether there was more. And then if there is more - who's to say it's 'right'? No one but you. There are in fact, no rights or wrongs, but oh, the responsibility.

Loneliness... 'no one but you' - That's not entirely true, I have friends and a great supervisor, and I feel grateful for that support. But it's ultimately down to my own better judgement and my ability to think freely, yet concisely and critically. And ultimately, it is me, myself, and I, sat alone with music and cups of coffee (or wine) and many documents for my many chapters, attempting to find the wood for the trees. But it is my own wood, and my own trees. And therefore, it can be quite a lonely process. For one who enjoys my own company, that's a rather meaningful statement to make! I guess it is what it is, which really is OK. It has to be. It is all what I choose to make it. I am by no means in a lonely place, but this process is lonely.

I suppose it's also about balance, and time, and work-life-priorities. My life is filled with more things that it ever has been, yet in order to work at peak level, we must be rested and refreshed and not entirely consumed. In order to see the wood from the trees, the only way to see the bigger picture is to step back once in a while. How can we see the world if we're sat inside the house in the safety of our bedrooms? We can't... Such a thing is physically impossible. We must do what that insane but pretty courageous Austrian man, Felix Baumgartner did. OK, I wouldn't advocate free-falling at 843.6mph down to earth with nothing more than a parachute between living and dying, but the concept of standing in a removed position with an open mind and taking in the view is perhaps more appropriate and achievable for us mere human beings!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Portraits and parties

Free flowing drinks, wonderful entertainment, good friends, beautiful venue...
Lots of models, model bookers, clients, and creatives celebrated the launch of the agency's new book which features the work of all the Boss creatives. It is a beautiful book filled with some beautiful collaborations. I worked with a really wonderful little team a few months ago for the set of 'Portrait' images that are now in the said 'Book'.

I was actually a little hesitant about going to the party - life has been so hectic lately, but staying true to my personal values and my 'yes man' commitment, I ran straight from dissertation supervision at Uni over to the train station and across to Manchester on the train with Zana. I am so pleased I did. I know my life tends to sometimes unfold miraculously in two (and sometimes more) simultaneous co-existing paths, but I've worked hard at making them fit together and I am pleased they do. I have created my 'balance'. There are so many people from all aspects of my life that I adore... It's good to embrace it all.

To say I feel refreshed today would be perhaps a little over-ambitious. I had a 9am lecture followed by more train journeys and castings after what must have been less than three hours sleep and I-don't-know-how-many glasses of prosecco.
Here are our 'Portrait' shots from the Book, with myself, Graeme Cooper and Rebecca Cawthra.

24 hours

I have been to Manchester and back twice in the space of the last 24 hours... And much has happened in the space and time that filled those 24 hours. It just shows the scale of which time is passing by right now, and how capable I am of filling each hour with nothing more than everything humanly possible.
I think my body may still be currently surviving from prosecco from last night's agency party and the copious amounts of coffee I am consuming at any given opportunity. And the delicious scone I had at Betty's today at lunch time.
So currently I am on a rather busy train coming back from Manchester (again) and trying to plan my evening. Will I begin the discussion section of my dissertation, will I fill in more application forms, including one for my trainee Therapist placement next year, or will I begin writing a different essay? Perhaps I will begin revision...
Realistically thinking, I will get home and not feel like doing a great deal.

But alas, there is no time for that...

Welcome to the world. Here is my current view.

Monday, 15 April 2013

The in-between outdoors

Today has been a day of the outdoors, kind of. That sounds much more idealistic than the actual reality!
I don't have a car (yet...) so I currently rely on the transportation of my trusty feet and Google maps and public transport of various forms. This essentially means that I am lucky; I exercise each day whether I like it or not. I probably have a relatively healthy heart and legs. It also means that I get to see the great outdoors first-hand, not from behind the driving wheel and I avoid the inner city rush hour traffic and the daily commuter traffic. Not to mention the parking tickets and road closures and slow moving vehicles. Although at this point I'd like to acknowledge that I do intend on purchasing a car again in the very near future.

Back to today; I went to the school I mentor at, which meant walking and taking the bus, and then I went to a meeting on the other side of town regarding some potentially exciting new work. I love meeting new people, especially those who inject a little potential and excitement into what others often experience to be a very dull existence. A lot of my in-between time today was spent outdoors, wearing my dress, tights, boots, and a denim jacket. No coat and scarf, no chunky-knit sweater. No layers... it may just be Spring. The sunshine was warm and I genuinely felt the warmth. It does make a difference.

The Universe and I

This weekend my younger brother turned 21 so I ventured to Harrogate for the evening on Friday for his celebrations. It was so nice to spend time with family and to see everyone, particularly my brother so happy. I am sure part of this glazed over happiness was due to somewhat excessive and appropriate birthday alcoholic consumption, but it was, nevertheless, a really nice evening.

I had spent the day at a rather grilling interview and was more than ready to have an evening relaxing with the people who matter sharing wine and happiness. I am spending more time lately with a person who is somehow capable of bringing something really great to my life. I'm unsure there are any words for this really great 'thing' - but he brings something that I miss when he's not there. Perhaps one day I'll discover the word I need, but for now, I am enjoying re-discovering it all. There is a hidden aspect of life that I've been forgetting about for a while; and for me, it's really important that no aspect of life at all is ever forgotten about. It's an integral part of embracing the things we have, and not being afraid of the uncertainties.

The weekend has also seen me finally complete a draft of my literature review and findings for the dissertation, the discovery of some really great coffee in Harrogate, and the satisfaction of my sushi-craving which has been on-going for approximately three weeks. I have also found that it is becoming more and more important to me that I follow the things that feel right and I remain transparent and honest with all I encounter. Whether that's work life, personal life, family or friends, there is nothing to be valued more than integrity and honesty. I cannot continue saying 'yes' to everything, but my instincts are quite good at informing me of what's right or wrong.

I sometimes think that our gut instinct is the universe's way of communicating to us. Someone said to me not so long ago, to trust in myself and the universe shall provide what is needed. I trusted in that, and I was offered a place on both Masters degrees that I had previously been struggling with an internal head vs. heart debate regarding which would be the 'right' one for me. You know that struggle when all you want is for someone to step in as the ultimate life guru and to tell you right from wrong; to keep you on the right path. That awful feeling that your head knows this world best. It knows that harsh realities do exist and it provides the rational 'adult' voice; the voice we try to avoid adhering to at times of spontaneous freedom, but deep down we know it must be listened to and it will keep us safely from trouble. It will protect us. But the heart is always kindest. It knows that the head exists and it takes that into account, but the heart knows your soul. Perhaps your heart IS your soul. It has such immense power; often more power than the head. The heart feels emotion, the head attempts to block them away but they always find a way of escaping sooner or later.

So I trusted in the universe, in my heart or soul or gut instinct - whichever it was, and I made my decision. It was an easy one to make once I allowed myself to trust. Trusting that I don't have to say 'yes' to everything right now seems to be highly important, particularly as I must focus on the things that matter and know that the universe will allow the rest to fall into place. This is my Monday morning reflection - I must focus on some work and go to mentor soon. I wish I could stay home all day to listen to music and write but I shall go and embrace the day I have planned instead. I really hope that some good work is done today... I have a month to complete this dissertation. One month...

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Imperfectly perfect

I am refusing to allow my workload to be the reason I lose my mind. I am not drowning, I am not destroying little pieces of my soul one by one, I am not dropping my juggling balls left right and centre, and I certainly will remain on top of 'things'.

What are these 'things' that I must remain on top of? Yesterday I did a modelling job where I was shooting some sportswear looks in the morning. I was asked to do various things, including skipping with a skipping rope and playing throw and catch with a ball. Not only did this bring back memories of high school and my sheer determination to escape the curse of long legs and being placed in the netball and cross-country running team, but it made me realize how inadequate my fitness levels really are. What was most entertaining about these requests, was not my sense of high school nostalgia, but that I couldn't think of any other job in which I would have such a pleased and large audience, and where the clients would be so ecstatically happy with me playing fake skipping and ball games.

Now, I didn't actually throw or catch the ball... Oh no. I just had the ball thrown at me over and over again and I was required to elegantly jump in a convincing manner towards the direction of this football as it was hurtling at my face while remaining 'beautiful'. I had a wind machine blowing freezing cold and very strong wind at me, and I was told not to move my head too much because I couldn't ruin my hair. I also could only show the front of the garments because they were pinned at my back and I was asked not mask my face with my arms as I reached up to fake catch the flying football. Until such a challenge is presented, one will never know how hard the reality is! Again, beautiful photographs represent many things, but they do not accurately represent the journey and process of getting there.

For me, I will always find this part of my job intriguing, yet the most truly destroying and paradoxical thing. We aim to capture beauty, reality, truthfulness... And sometimes this is done. It's so, so beautiful when it's done. But so often with art, when money is involved, the real essence is forgotten and it becomes something else entirely. This is a job where generally our reputation, our 'money maker', and our strength and capacity to be good at our job are predominantly judged upon our waist and hip measurement, our height, and our 'flawless' complexion, and whether red hair happens to be 'in' this season. Obviously, such 'perfect' ideals are impossible to attain, and even more impossible when perhaps the 'look' of the season is pale and dark haired and 6ft tall, when you happen to be a 5ft 8 redhead. There's only so much power we have over Mother Nature. There comes a point where we must accept, embrace, and appreciate. And perhaps at some point along the line, we forget that somebody out there once thought that what we had was good enough anyway. it was their world, their subjective perceived perfection. Not actual perfection, but imperfectly perfect enough. It just takes one hell of a journey to find that realization

Of course, as I often write about; life and indeed modelling is about far more than appearances. We must never judge a book by it's front cover, so they say. They can be misleading. They don't mean to be, but they want to impress so much that they lose sight of the real substance. However, it seems that when working as part of an industry where the 'image' is the end goal, and this image is the tool for making money, then appearances, in context, hold more weight and are worth much, much more.

Away from work and onto more work; my dissertation. I'm not in denial... I am indeed very much submerged deep in the middle at the moment. I have my data, I've analysed this data, I've attempted to write it up but my supervisor thinks I need to make some changes. Currently these changes seem simple, but in reality I have a rather irrational, yet very persistent fear of messing this whole thing up. You know that old familiar thought: 'Whatever I do, it's never good enough...'. Coming from a background where attaining perfect standards is everything, I need to accept that this is one thing that will never be perfect. Nothing will ever be perfect; the world is not perfect, we are not perfect, perfect does not exist. This may be a bigger learning curve than anticipated. Back to my trusty phrase... 'Trusting in the process'...

Once this blog is posted, I shall return focus to this section and re-construct it, change it, and send it back to be checked. My redheaded/Taurean streak of determination has not been lost just yet. Regardless of whether it's lost or found, I need to locate it and bring it firmly back to my very core for tomorrow. I have an interview which I have to be absolutely present and focused for, and it is my brother's 21st birthday. I get to spend the evening with family and this will require my full presence. It will be wonderful, but I must leave my stress at home.

To living, writing, working, researching, trusting, booking jobs, and stepping up in this world. To channeling my Taurean determination, and to loving all.

Monday, 8 April 2013

21 hours

21 hours - that is how many hours I have spent working on my dissertation in the past two days. I've finally put it aside and decided to focus on my Clinical Psychology assignment for now. I knew third year would require an abundance of hard work and commitment - my friends had all warned me of what was to come, but I approached this year with such focus that I actually almost had myself believing that it wouldn't be so bad. And it's not so bad; it's all relative. I guess I just couldn't prepare myself for the sheer amount of time this requires. Perhaps no matter how much time I dedicate to doing a good enough job, it will never be deemed sufficient enough in my eyes. Damn being a perfectionist with a terribly accomplished self-critical eye. It's not just a dissertation, it's exam revision and other assignments, coupled with a job to keep up, volunteering work to do, and attempts to secure more jobs and placements for next year. It's absolute madness. But I guess it wouldn't be a familiar style of life for me if madness wasn't a key element to living.

21 hours though... 21. That is a lot, even by my standards. I've met my targets and I'm now ready to begin the rest of the week. This week shall be job interviews, more work, actual modelling work, securing my next volunteering/work position, my brother's birthday, and many more surprises this wonderful thing we call life tends to keep throwing my way. As demonstrated, balance seems to find it's way into life without too much of a conscious effort to make it that way. I had a great weekend; a really great weekend, and I've had a wonderful evening tonight with Tasha drinking wine and cocktails after a trip to Betty's for scones and tea. Time is ever of the essence, so I really 'shouldn't' be taking too much leisurely time out. However, in order to be truly efficient with the time I do dedicate to work, I must dedicate time for all aspects of life and appreciate the people who bring me balance and happiness.

11.25pm - time to catch up on emails, plan a mini road trip, and catch some much deserved beauty sleep.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Pinks and reds

This new editorial has now been published so I can now officially share my favourite three shots on this blog. I always believed redheads shouldn't wear pink; perhaps an old message my Mother informed me of as a child. But I suppose this editorial suggests otherwise!
I was lucky to work with a really incredible team on this shoot. It always makes my job a much more gratifying experience when I'm with such great people; beautiful inside and out.
Makeup: Rebecca Frances
Nails: Ami Streets
Hair stylist: Dale Hollinshead
© Garazi Photography 2013

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Simple mornings on a train

Currently heading back to the land of the North and I couldn't not share these photographs. I realise I must look a little crazy to my fellow train passengers - taking photographs and ravenously drinking my cup of tea as if it's my lifeline. As much as early mornings and late nights are far from ideal, I genuinely wouldn't trade them for anything else, not when my eyes are opened to a world that so many don't ever see.
Look at these photographs of the sunrise and tell me England is not beautiful.

Life is never dull

2.25am and in a hotel room in Birmingham with a glass of wine - life is many things, but never dull.
Today I have travelled a lot, from York to Birmingham to Cheltenham back to Birmingham. I've been in the company of some beautiful and wonderful people. Here are my views of life on the road:

Monday, 1 April 2013

Easter train travel

Spring forward

Monday is coming to an end - almost. It's late afternoon and I'm sat at the dining table back in my house in York contemplating life, analysing my dissertation data, and listening to a beautiful combination of James Vincent McMorrow, David Gray, and Newton Faulkner. Honestly, this music is beautiful. My housemate is still away in Turkey so it is absolutely acceptable for me to quite happily sing aloud to no one but myself. Any one of my friends who study with me at University in our little room will know and recognize a playlist created by myself.

I have given myself a deadline for the draft of my dissertation to be completed, and I must write some other essays and begin exam revision. Oh, third year joys. It's OK though. I must keep reminding myself that it WILL most definitely all get done because it has to be.

This weekend has been really family oriented. I have spent a lot of time with my younger sister and she has spent a lot of time making me laugh so much and reminding me what it means to be completely unbounded and to be able to love and laugh at the things we must laugh at. I am also spending time with my Mother's partner's family and learning a little more about them too. It's nice to do this - not living with my family and living ridiculously independently sometimes, it's nice to remind myself that I'm still a part of something even if slightly distant for most of the time.

I run the risk of spending so much of life living in a black and white world, particularly around this time. Imminent and unavoidable change is quite literally just around the corner. I have my sister (as evidenced in these pictures!) to quite wonderfully keep my feet on the ground and my mind out of black and white territory.