Me and My Music

This week I begin work on a new project with a local community centre (The Belvidere Centre, Wirral) called “Me and My Music.” It will be an exploration of our relationships with music and the young people will choose songs that are special to them, we will listen, play, talk and work through what music means to us. I’m so excited about it as I just know the power music has.

I thought I’d use this space to explore my own relationship with music, how it has helped me and explain a bit more about why I’m so passionate about the use of music and sound in helping others.

This will be very honest and is a look back on some darker times in my life so please only read if you feel it will help you or someone you know, I don’t want to make anyone feel worse by sharing my own challenging experiences.

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Breathing is so simple but we make it so difficult for ourselves!

As is the case for most of us, music has been a constant, consistent companion through my whole life.

I’ve always loved music but one of the first times I turned to it for therapeutic reasons was in Secondary School. During the first four years, I was teased a lot for the way I looked. Not hurt physically, but very much so verbally with what felt like intense hatred. This affected me more than I realised and I would shut myself away with headphones and books to escape. I actually listened to a lot of intense rap music as I related to the hatred and anger in the lyrics. It matched my frequency at the time, now though if I listen to the same tracks, I can appreciate the beats and rhythms but can’t relate to the tone, which tells me I’ve let go of that anger.

During this same time, I was also singing in school choirs and other little groups. Joining in music groups gave me a connection with others who were also feeling isolated but loved music. I’m really grateful to my parents and teachers at the time who encouraged my music and singing and gave me a lifeline during a difficult time. I struggled to express what I was feeling through talking, but singing always felt right. This is one of the reasons I love using music as an opening way of connecting with others, it forms a common ground that we can use as a gateway for a deeper bond.

I truly have forgiven everyone in my past who may have been cruel to me. We have no idea what happens in people’s lives. At school we think we know our classmates but we only see them for a few hours a day and don’t really know what they have to deal with at home. So I only wish good things for them and am always saddened when I see people post things like “The bullies at school are all wash-outs now and I’m doing this incredible thing blah blah blah”. Life isn’t about your position on an imaginary scale made up to boost your own ego. Have compassion and love for them instead of misusing the term”Karma”, which does not mean what you think it does.

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Our group for “Me and My Music”

I thought I was ok after school but when I moved away to Uni, I became very depressed. I absolutely loathed myself to the point I would not leave my room for days. I either ate junk food or didn’t eat at all in order to punish myself for that. Singing was one of the only constants in this as I could play music in my room and my voice sounded the same no matter how I felt I looked. Luckily, throughout all the abuse I put my body through, my voice did not suffer or give up on me.

Every time I sang or played piano, I felt better. I didn’t know why at the time but now I can see all the ways it helps. Singing helped calm my breathing. It made me more mindful of the present as it’s hard to worry about future possibilities or cringe about the past when you’re in the middle of a song. Piano practice gave me something to focus on to, to build up on and learn, thus giving me reasons to get up and out of bed.

A related practice of breathing work was also so helpful in reducing my panic attacks. One time, I was hospitalised with a suspected pulmonary embolism. Thankfully, it was not this serious, it was intense panic attacks causing shortness of breath and dizzyness. I remember at the time though wishing I had a physical illness as that seemed so much easier to deal with than a mental one. Now though, I can look back with gratitude that despite all I put my body through I remained relatively healthy and did not have any illness other than what I was experiencing mentally. Learning how to breathe properly and fully, changed my health a lot. Less colds, a clearer head and a feeling of more time developed after a few sessions. This is why I always begin our sessions with breathing work as not everyone is starting from the same inner tempo.

I did feel better but never truly ok so later in my mid-twenties, I asked to be prescribed anti-depressants. I was also self-medicating with other things and so again, pushing my body to its limits. Medication did help level out my moods but also meant I couldn’t feel extreme happiness. During this time, I cut a lot of people off and let down those who had been so supportive and I’m very sorry for this. I can’t explain it other than I just wanted to hide from the world and so I did! At the time though I was just grateful not to be feeling so low any longer so I kept on with the tablets for a time, even though I knew they were not helping me progress.

Then, everything changed and again, I have music to thank, as well as supportive people around me. I was encouraged to take up singing again and to build it up to something more than blasting out songs in my room. I was so lucky to have my wonderful partner Tim and several friends and family who supported me in this and when I got my first gig, I knew that I had to take care of myself. I needed to be physically healthy now to do well. This was the end of punishing myself, self-medicating and damaging my mind and body and I’m so thankful to music and the people around me for that. If I’m honest, I do still have days where I get down but these are more so when I feel overwhelmed by outside events in the world, rather than through introspection.

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My first proper gig!

More recently, I discovered sound healing. A beautiful, ancient practice that uses tonal frequencies to resonate with us in order to create balance, which is needed for optimum health. This practice has enhanced my breathing and meditation work so much and it does feel transformative in that I always feel so lifted after a session and for days afterwards feel better and more energised yet relaxed at the same time.

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Beautiful sound therapy!

So this is my journey with mental health and music. I can see how much it has helped me in different ways. This is why I want to use music and sound to help others and share my own experience in order to connect more truthfully and I really hope I can!

Do get in touch if you’d like to share your own experience with me, or see how I can help, always happy to listen!

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

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Ageing Shamelessly!

As you know, I work a lot with our elders and so of course I listen to them and what they have to say. I have met thousands of elders now through my projects and all of them have been inspirational in their own way.  Much of what they tell me is positive and a lot of people have great attitudes, even if they are facing huge challenges to them such as mobility issues or even dementia.

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Wonderful Betty, 96 and makes a croissant for breakfast every morning- she is still a true french lady!

I also meet a lot of people who are not so positive. This piece is not to tell those who are feeling low that they must change and “cheer up”, far from it. What I’m trying to explore is how potentially our attitudes towards ageing are contributing to the negative experiences of many of our older society.

“I hate old age”

“Pain? It’s just ageing isn’t it”

“Don’t get old”

“I’m too old for that now”

“I’m too old to try”

These are just a handful of comments I’ve had from some really lovely older people who aren’t wholly negative about their lives but it’s clear they hold an entire belief system around their age that is telling them what they can and can’t be.

And I’m certain this didn’t suddenly enter their minds when they turned 65. It’s drummed into us so early. Our whole society is set up to value youth above all and discount the wisdom of our elders.

We are shown representations of elders in television and film that make fun of old age. They use lazy writing tropes such as deafness or memory loss and so these become a template for what we think we will encounter.

We treat older people as though they are stupid. We speak louder and more slowly to them whether or not they have hearing problems. We laugh behind their backs, roll eyes, give knowing glances and generally dismiss their presence.

So is it any wonder that people become ill and depressed as they reach their older years?

Surely it makes sense that if we expect to have illness and reduced mobility as we get older, then this will come to pass? Just as if we tell ourselves we are less attractive as we age, then it will be so as we’ll see ourselves as such and then project that to the world.

If we expect people to not want to listen to us, we will stop speaking. Stop going out because we are not wanted anyway, which in turn leads younger people to believe that older people become dull and lifeless. And so you can see how the attitudes are self perpetuating.

I think this will be individual to each person as to how much they hold these views and how it impacts on their health but I would love us to change our views surrounding old age and death also.

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Beautiful Elsie, who had such a smile despite challenges

I’d like to add that I do not hold these views at all. I can see how they manifest and also some of the reasons why, but I always challenge them, in the kindest ways I can, when I come across them being held. I offer suggestions, try and spark as much joy as I can with music and make sure I see smiles and hear laughter as much as I can.

A change needs to happen though if we are to tackle these issues.

I would like to call for a shift in how we view old age. I am only in my thirties so I cannot be a true ambassador for that (yet) by showing through how I live but I intend to be as I grow older. And I implore you to do the same, to defy the conventions set for us.

Do not “grow old gracefully” because that is synonymous with accepting all of the nonsensical narratives we hold about age- that you must retire even if it’s from what you love, that you need to slow down (I aim to live beautifully slowly anyway) that we have less of a voice, that old age brings suffering and pain.

This is NOT how it needs to be. I’m not saying a long life will not bring challenges. Of course it will, but we can decide how we face them and how we tell our stories.

Grow old shamelessly! Carry on doing what you love, know it’s ok to make changes, don’t accept ill health as being part of old age, we can still stay well and healthy and live a life of joy right up until our time here is at an end.

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Wonderful Beatrice, 100 years on this Earth and still dancing!

Change starts within ourselves but as we’re working on that, let’s change our communities too. Place value on conversations with our elders. Don’t see popping into an isolated older neighbour’s house as a charitable act but as a gift for you both in what you may learn from each other. Make elders feel included and loved, so that when your time to become their age arrives you will find yourself in a beautiful, loving community also.

I know that I’m going to work very hard on changing my own beliefs surrounding age right now so I’m as happy and healthy as I can be for the rest of my life and I wish for you all the same!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

 

 

Finding True Creativity

We’re a funny society aren’t we. The way we box people up, some are this way, others are like this. Some are creative, others aren’t. When the truth is we are all made up of so many different things but what unites us is that we are all supremely creative!

Of course, this may show itself in very different ways. We traditionally see creative people as the artists, musicians, poets of our world. Yes, this is beautifully creative. What we don’t see is all the other ways people are being creative every single day. Teachers creating new ways to pass information, parents creating new ways of reaching their children. Everything we do in life is creative from the obvious- making a meal- to the abstract- constructing a sentence to speak with one another. If we viewed ourselves differently we could open the flow to even more creativity. Who knows what we could access in our minds if we all saw ourselves as having the ability to make what we want out of the materials we have at hand whether that be words, wood or even our thoughts. It’s all the same when we reduce it down- it’s all a bare form that we can build with and transform into something else. True alchemy.

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Music is only one way, not the way of expressing creativity

If you say to yourself you’re not creative then that is a definite way to block any motivation you may have. Trust in your ability to make things happen.

Deep down we know we have this in us. Our language reflects it. It’s why we speak of “building relationships”, “making a home” or “forging a path in life”, all are ways to describe forms of invention. Think about it. What is creativity other than bringing something into being that was not there before. So if we think traditionally, this would mean to us a new song or a new artwork. How is a nurtured relationship any less than a song. It is also a new thing on this Earth that didn’t exist. It too takes work to bring it to life. It also needs work to thrive.

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Creating can be whatever that means to us

Begin your year with a new way of thinking. You ARE creative. You CAN make the life you want. We are all the architects of our time here. We are all the alchemists, transforming what we find into works of art. We are all the creators of our lives.

Just because you do not fit into categories we have so far reserved for creativity does not mean you are any less creative than the poets, artists and musicians. We all create every day and if we do so with love then we will add as much beauty to the world as every single song or painting in existence. I would also add that if you do follow a traditional path then that’s perfect too. I express my own creativity in many “accepted” ways as well as in many abstract forms too. I see them all as equally valid.

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Here I am bring creative…

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…Here I also am being creative, just in a different way!

That will be our contribution so let’s make it a beautiful one.

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

Winter Well-being!

Winter can be a challenging time to keep our well-being up and our health balanced, here are the best ways I find to stay healthy and happy during the darker months of the year! 

  1. Stay hydrated. Even though it’s not as warm as Summer, we still need to keep our water levels up. I aim for 2-3 litres a day, but mainly drink this in herbal teas which have the added benefit of keeping you cosy too. You can find water in lots of great foods too, so plenty of soups and warming gravy dishes are great if you’re struggling to drink as much as you need.
  2. Get outside! Obviously we have less sunshine hours and overall daylight in winter so it’s even more important to make time to spend time outdoors to top up our vitamin D levels and boost our happiness. Make it a double well-being boost by taking a walk in the woods or on the beach- any time immersed in nature will make you feel better. 
  3. Following on from that, a walk is good exercise too and it’s vital to keep up exercising in Winter too. It’s definitely more difficult as we often want to stay wrapped up indoors rather than heading to a gym class or a run in the rain, but if we want to stay fit all year round we should aim for at least 30 minutes a day!  
  4. Keeping in touch with people. It’s easy in Winter to fall into a cycle of staying in and not seeing anyone. Darker evenings make us feel it’s later than it is and the cold can discourage us from venturing out. Turn your mind against this thought pattern though and aim to stay connected with others and to keep attending any events, groups, meet ups that you would in summer.
  5. Saying that though, any extra time spent indoors is a great opportunity for re-organising your living space. Having a good clear out will translate to a good shake up mentally as when our surroundings become cluttered this can be a reflection of mind clutter. So getting rid of what we no longer need can be so helpful for our mental health. It seems like a chore at first but once you get going it feels great and you can donate lots of things to charity shops too!

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Hope these tips help keep you feeling good over the winter months! Come back soon for updates on my Mind on Music Travels!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

Mind on Music Travel Challenge!

Sorry for my quietness this month so far! The reason is I’ve been squirrelling away at home, planning some very exciting things for the charity I recently set up- Mind on Music!

Mind on Music aims to promote health and well-being through the use of music and sound. We work with people who have a range of dis-eases such as chronic pain, mental health issues, dementia and POCD, in order to help them discover ways they may be able to cope with their challenges and even overcome them.

From August this year, I’ve decided to take this work around the WHOLE UK for ONE FULL YEAR! I’ll be spending each month for the next year travelling around a different area of the UK, visiting hospitals, community centres, schools, projects, anywhere the charity can help. I’ll perform for those who just want to be cheered up, I’ll run workshops for those who’d like to get involved and create and I’ll speak for those who wish to listen and learn about how music and sound can benefit them.

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With lovely Elsie, smiles like her’s are why I do this!!

I need to learn a lot more too so I’ll be taking lots of training sessions along the way as I still have so much to discover about the power of music and sound and other therapies and I’m so excited about this.

It’s going to be a huge challenge both professionally and personally but I know that I’m ready for it and that this is what I need to be doing right now to help others and connect with as many people as I can.

I know some of you feel as though the world is becoming more hateful and whether this is the truth or whether it’s fear inducing media, it doesn’t change the fact that we need love and hope more than ever. If I can give this is in any small way to people along this journey then that will make it worthwhile and it’s the underlying reason for undertaking such a task.

I’ll be documenting it all on here, my facebook, insta and twitter in videos, blogs and pics so you can all come on this journey with me! Well you’ll feel like you are the amount I like to post haha!! I’ll still have lots of other posts though too, all the usual health, travel, spiritual, life posts so don’t worry (Oh you weren’t?! 😉 )

Thanks for all your support so far, I’m so thrilled to be sharing this next step with you all!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

 

How To Be The Most Energetic You Can Be!

A few people have asked me where I get so much energy from to be travelling, singing, speaking at events so much and all with no coffee haha! So I thought I’d share the ways I gather my energy so it might help you. We are all different but by sharing our practices, we can take what we find helpful and leave the rest, so please have a read and let me know if you have any ways you increase your energy!

I understand for those with chronic illness, it’s not as simple as some of the below tips sound, but they’re still worth a go because even if you think they won’t work, you’ve made a positive step towards loving and caring for yourself!

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  • Food! If you’re on my Instagram, then you’ll know I follow a vegan diet. The reason I started was for ethical reasons concerning animals and environment, but the health benefits have been incredible! My skin cleared up, my head feels lighter too and I no longer need coffee to keep me going throughout the day. I eat a lot of fruit and veg and I love smoothies. Find me on instagram to see some of my food postings. I’m not here to judge, I was twenty years old before I went vegetarian and then another several years before veganism so only speak from my experience that switching to a plant based diet has worked wonders for my energy and health. It’s really important to ensure with any way you eat that your nutrient levels are all in tune with your own body. Tiredness can be caused by deficiencies in B12, calcium, Vit D and magnesium amongst other things so it’s a good idea to get these in order if you’re feeling low on energy.
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Smoothies replaced my super strong coffee and I love them!!

  • Nurture yourself with Nature. Being in nature, for me, is one of my top energisers. A walk in the forest or on the beach can pick me up when I’m needing a boost and whatever energy I spend whilst walking is returned with more to spare.  It’s proven that the ions produced by water having a restorative effect on our health so anywhere near flowing water such as waterfalls or the beach is great to be, but of course anywhere outside and in a natural setting is going to do you good! Sunshine will boost your Vit D levels too which can help with tiredness, but of course wear sun protection where appropriate especially if you’re like me- a super pale red-head who needs factor 50!!
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Beautiful beach times from a recent trip to Ibiza.

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Swimming in the sea feels so natural and always boosts my energy!

  • Sort your sleep! We all know sleep is important for our bodies to restore and for our minds to wander into our dreamlands, but so many of us worry about it to the point that this worry stops us sleeping! For a time, I was waking about 4am every night, full of energy and excited for the day ahead. I would struggle to return to sleep and work my self up when I couldn’t. I decided to change my sleep pattern to stop myself worrying. I now sleep 5-7 hours during the night and have an extended nap in the afternoon. I later found this is called Bi-phasic sleep, and has been found to be a very healthful way to split our sleeping times as our 9-5 society way of living is not entirely natural to our bodies and minds. It is a challenge to achieve sometimes if I have to do a lot of daytime activities but it has improved my energy and sleeping as I no longer worry about being tired because I know I have a second sleep to follow!

 

  • Resting. This is different to sleep. People think they only need to rest when they are in bed but this isn’t so. Being still and quiet is vital to our health and to keep us connected with our body so we are aware of everything that’s going on and know to make adjustments if necessary. Paradoxically, you can rest whilst being active. For me, Yoga is a very restoring practise and even though I work hard and the postures are often physically demanding, I find it a very restful, peaceful thing to do too.

 

  • Avoid energy drainers! These come in a variety of forms, from too much time on the internet, to being around people who are always negative. Comparing yourself to others on social media is one of the biggest wastes of energy there is. It leaves you feeling lethargic and low. Limit your internet use to basic email checking for a while and see how you feel. When I do this my head is less foggy, my spirit brighter and I feel so much happier. Don’t worry about what others are doing. They are on their path and you are following yours.

 

  • Be creative. Singing, writing, getting my ideas out, all feed my soul and so increase my energy levels.  Using our natural talents (and we all have different innate ones) makes us feel purposeful and happy which feeds our spirit to increase our energy. I adore singing so much that I often turn up to a gig feeling tired and leave with an enormous buzz and feeling elated! Even singing on my own at home can do this, so try whatever creative pursuit you want to do and see if it does the same for you. Being creative with your environment can help too. Colours can energise or drain you, so my living areas are all bright, beautiful tangerines and decorated with all sorts of my favourite shades!
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Singing always gives me more energy!

 

  • Self healing. As well as creating more energy within ourselves, I fully believe we have the power to heal ourselves too and prevent our health from going too far down. This creates good health and so in turn more energy. Explore the alternative side to healing that medicine doesn’t offer… gentle therapies that can help if you open up to them. Music and Sound therapies, Acupuncture, Meditation- explore and find what you enjoy the most and go with it. Even if you find they don’t work for you, they are relaxing and enjoyable at the very least. Stress is a big energy drainer and the cause for so many health problems but it is something we have control over. Slowing breathing rate is the first step to overcoming it, breathing in for 5, pausing then out for 5 and repeat until you feel calmer.

 

I hope these little tips that I use have been helpful and healthful for you! Let me know how you get on, with a message or a comment, wishing you lots of energy!

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

 

How to Keep Smiling!

With everything we’re surrounded with in our modern world, it can be a challenge sometimes to keep smiling through it all. I love to laugh and smile (often to people’s annoyance but who cares!) and this leads people to assume I never get sad or I’ve never had anything bad happen in my life or seen anything bad.

Of course this isn’t true, just like for most of us! On my travels and in daily life I’ve seen animal abuse, been treated horribly by a few people with closed hearts, had loved ones die, family dramas and had years of past personal depression- things a lot of us go through- but I always see that the good always outweighs the bad. And that’s what I really do believe- that the goodness here is always stronger than any badness.

 

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Singing always makes me smile!

Here are a few ways I keep smiling…

 

  1. Avoid the News. This isn’t saying be ignorant to current events, just choose how much you are surrounded with images of death and hopelessness which is the mood those who script the News programmes and publish papers seek to create. Avoiding biased, fear-based programming is the first step to clearing your head of the fog that keeps us from being happy.
  2. Nature! It’ll be a running joke soon that I suggest nature as the answer to most challenges, but it is true that immersing yourself in a natural setting gives a perspective that is hard to find otherwise. Using the calm of nature to still your own anxieties and running commentary really helps if you find it difficult to switch off at home. With practice, you’ll be able to bring this peace with you anywhere. Take deep breaths and focus on the birdsong, letting your own thoughts drift away as you listen to the music of nature.
  3. Connect with others. My recent blog post on this shows ways to become involved in your community to help others which in turn will help yourself. Volunteer, see family, support local shows and music and art scenes and a beautiful community spirit will grow, one you’ll be very much a part of.
  4. Travel. See the truth in the world before believing everything the media tells us. Meet people from different cultures and decide for yourself where you think people’s hearts lie and who they truly are. This again will connect you to the truth in the world, that we are not so different from each other at our core.
  5.  Create! Feeling you’re making a contribution to the world will increase feelings of happiness. This is closely related to the connecting with others idea, that by creating something others find useful or beautiful, you’ll be helping to make the world better and. Music, crafts, art, poetry- anything that you feel drawn to. It’s probably something you enjoyed doing as a child and once you pick it back up, it’ll be like you never stopped and you were meant to do it! This is how music was to me after a long break which left me very down, but once I came back to it I realised how much I love using music to make others (and myself!) happy.
  6. Get off the Internet!! I do realise the irony of saying this whilst writing a blog, that I’d like people to read- on the internet. Too much though is soul destructive as it drags us down into a world of frantic notifications and comparisons to people we barely know or people we think we know but don’t really because everything is edited beyond any meaningful reality! So spending time away, doing the above can be so beneficial. A lot of us use social media for work now so I know it’s not always easy to cut ties completely but limiting use is a great start!

 

There’s a reason smiling is also called “beaming” and that’s because it’s like a ray of sunshine beaming across all those who encounter it! Smiling really is infectious and if you share your smile with others, it’ll spread across all those you connect with and beyond so share your beautiful smile today!

Best Wishes,

Bexi