Tag Archive | life

Self Confessed Cynic

I’ve just proven to myself today – in my personal life, I am definitely one of the world’s biggest cynics. How does that happen? How does one start off in life believing in people and their stories, to getting to the point where you start to question everything and everyone?

IMG_0904When you’ve been let down by someone once, you move on and consider that as a one off; when that one off becomes just about every relationship you’ve ever had in one way or another, you start to think that is just the way it is. Conversely, you question yourself and wonder if it’s all about you.

Questioning if it’s just you then makes you wonder if you’re expecting too much or if you’re just too damn fussy. What I’d like to know is, what is too much to expect? Is it too much to want someone to accept you as you are, believe in you despite your foibles? Is it too much to demand respect, honesty and trust? I certainly hope not. It’s always other people who get it right and I really don’t know what the secret is.

The trouble with being this way is that you go into every situation, every conversation and every potential relationship with low expectations. I guess that might not be a bad thing in some ways, you can only go up from a basement start. However, it’s a really hard thing to battle within your own head; that feeling that it won’t be any good and it’ll only lead to hurt, can hold you back.

The toughest thing is breaking the circuit. Cynicism is only bred out of experience and you can’t delete experiences – they happened, simple as that. It’s not as easy as hitting the backspace button and wiping experiences from you memory. You can choose not to let them cloud your decisions by trying to be positive about every new encounter, but lurking in the background is that element of doubt that rears it’s head and starts ringing alarm bells whenever something seems too good to be true.

No idea what the answer is, or whether there is one. If I find one I’ll let you know, but as with most things, there’s never really a definitive solution to anything. But maybe I think that because I’m one of the world’s biggest cynics!

Seize the Moment!

Photo by Tom Fenner at the BBC

AN ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS EXPERIENCE.

As one gets older, you start to recognise that experiences can only happen if you decide to seize the moment and go for it. I don’t mean ridiculous, dangerous things, like jumping out of an aeroplane (that’s my idea of hell, but I’m sure it’s someone’s idea of exhilaration and excitement), I’m talking about seeing an opportunity and acting on it, right there and then. If you’ve got your ‘business’ head on at the time, you may even consider the moment to be one that could propel you into another realm of business success. If the possibility of that is in your head, then why can’t it become a reality. You’ll never know unless you try.

People who know me, know that I am quite outspoken at times, but I’m also not one to need that ‘centre of attention’ feeling. However, sometimes without thinking too much about it, I find myself not only centre of attention, but on national television. Yep, it’s that moment of madness/excitement/opportunity (insert your own word here if you like), that can be the one to open up an experience that you’d never normally dream of considering.

Back in June 2016, I was slobbing on my sofa one Monday night with my daughter, watching the lovely Alex and Matt on The One Show. Towards the end of the show they were talking about a silly game that they were going to play with one lucky viewer the following night, with none other than the Absolutely Fabulous (clue there), Jennifer Saunders and Julia Sawalha. It was obviously all about the release of the new Ab Fab Movie and as a die hard fan from years gone by (back in the early 90’s), I felt well equipped to go for it! All the ‘viewer’ had to do was email in and say they’d like to play the game and confirm that they were free for the following two nights. I wrote a quick email, hit send and thought nothing more of it.

Hi Alex & Matt, Definitely a fan of AbFab & can definitely be in London Tues & Wed! Would love to play your AbFab game. Cheers, Cathie

theoneshow-preshow-1To cut a long story short, The One Show rang me the following morning to see if I’d like to be on the show. It wasn’t a long moment between the question and a very excited reply of YES! Various emails followed about where to be and when, what to wear and what to expect when I get there. Before I knew it I was on my way to London to be a guest on The One Show. How excited was I? Ridiculously!

I arrived early at BBC Broadcasting House in the heart of London’s West End and hung round in the local coffee shop, people watching and collecting butterflies in my stomach before heading to the studio. The next couple of hours were spent in the holding room (only celebs get to go into the Green Room) with other normal guests, discussing our purpose for being there. In comparison, my reason wasn’t quite so high brow, but a hell of a lot more fun.

The time finally came to be escorted to the studio, I was introduced to Alex and Matt (as lovely as they appear on the telly) and waited until my moment in front of the camera. My piece was to be the last 5 minutes so the wait was a killer – the butterflies had turned up there fluttering by now – industrial strength wings in action. I stood there watching Matt and Alex interview their guests, and the obvious stars of the show, Jennifer and Julia, waxing lyrical about their new movie, old episodes of Ab Fab and life in general.

My moment finally arrived. I was introduced as ‘Super Fan Cathie’ (hilarious) and was lead over to the sofa to sit myself next to Matt. Being introduced to Jennifer and Julia felt so surreal – the whole moment felt surreal. What to come was even more so. I was given an eye mask and Jennifer had to describe members of the cast of the new film and I had to guess who they were. I did myself proud, guessing most of them. But that wasn’t the shining moment. Next thing I know, Jennifer Saunders is personally inviting me to the World (yes whole wide world) Premiere of Ab Fab the Movie the following night at the Odeon in Leicester Square. Gobsmacked, speechless and ever so slightly wanting to scream with excitement, I expressed my sincere gratitude and the show was over. Credits started to roll, a little chat with my new friends (not really friends but for that moment it was nice to think so) and I asked for a few photos, which they kindly agreed to and well, that was it. It was all over. My 5 minutes of fame, my 5 minutes of excitement and a lifetime of memories and opportunities.

Needless to say, the next night at the Premiere with my good friend Jan (who had booked tickets for us to see the film at the Aylesbury Odeon on the night it was released on the following Friday), was a night to remember. In simple terms – glamour, glitter, celebrities in abundance, gorgeous ladies, equally delightful men, half the transvestite population of London who were simply fabulous and two birds from Hertfordshire.

Thanks to The One Show, I’ve got a story to dine out on for many years to come. Boring my friends with the details over and over again – not being able to get my head around it actually happening.

If I’d not bothered writing that email, it would never have happened. If you see an opportunity and think, I’ll leave it, not worth the effort, it’ll never happen to me, think again – there’s as much chance of it happening to you as it did for me. And you simply don’t know where any opportunity might lead you. The thing is, 6 months ago I was on the telly, people stopped me in Boots in my home town the next day to say, “Did I see you on the telly last night”, my kids friend’s parents saw me, blah blah blah. That was one moment, no one apart from me (and my long suffering friends) even remember that item on The One Show that night, but what it did was open up doors for me (hence this blog piece). I’ll always remember it and I’ll never regret sending that email.

An over used phrase maybe, but ‘Seize the Moment’ is definitely something I’ve done many times in my life and quite honestly, there’s always been more good than bad come out of it. Be your own marketing guru and be brave. Go on, give it a try! You may just enjoy it.

Acosta and French – not on the same night!

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the chance to attend two amazing events. Two equally talented individuals, who have been honing their craft for many years, sharing with the audience very special, personal moments.

On Friday 7th October I managed to get tickets for my daughter and I to attend Carlos Acosta’s final classical performance – The Classical Farewell at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London. To say that this was a treat is an understatement – we felt so privileged to be a part of the audience that night. We enjoyed some of the finest classical performances from our favourite ballets, performed by the cream of the Royal Ballet‘s crop of amazing artists, alongside Carlos; the dancer of my daughter’s generation who will inspire her, as my idol Mikael Baryshnikov inspired me in my youth. It was purely magical.

Carlos is a true athlete, a dedicated and disciplined dancer and although I’ll never know him personally, seems to be genuinely good man. He has a passion for dance that is expressed so thoroughly in every performance and the fact that his classical career has now come to an end is truly sad, but equally exciting knowing he is moving onto more contemporary work. After many magical classical pieces including Kenneth MacMillan’s Winter Dreams, Mayerling and Requiem, George Balanchine’s Apollo, Marius Petipa’s Don Quixote  he concluded with Memoria by Rambert’s Miguel Altunaga. It was pure, ridiculously perfect and so exciting – a taste of things to come.

When the final piece,  Memoria (a contemporary piece choreographed especially for Carlos), was complete, the audience was only too aware that we had just been witness to the last classical performance by the finest male ballet dancer of his generation. It was beautiful and sad. He moved from his final position to a single chair set off centre of the stage, sat down, removed his ballet shoes and placed them in his bag, replacing them with normal, everyday training shoes. A poignant, special, moving moment –  I can only imagine what must have been going through this great man’s mind. I sobbed with sadness that his classical career was over, but the sheer excitement of what is to come is something we cannot wait for.


My second event was last night (20th Oct) at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand in London’s West End – Dawn FrenchThirty Million Minutes. I bought tickets for myself and my friend who had helped me out with a tricky time recently. We were excited about seeing Dawn on stage in this one woman show, but nothing could have prepared us for the story we were to hear .

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She started at the very beginning, her life with her family: meeting the Queen Mother, dreams of becoming a ballerina and a pop star, BOYS, stories of angelic and naughty grannies and the day to day life of a family travelling to wherever her father’s position in the armed forces placed them. A family unit that was so strong, yet not without its sadness.

The years as an adult – marriages, children, health and all things about being a ‘grown-up’ – were dealt with a beautifully considered respect, not only for herself but for her nearest and dearest. Her personal life remails personal, but we have an insight into what makes Dawn who she is – the person we see and love on our TV screens.

There was laughter and tears in equal measure, however the tears of laughter outweighed those of sadness. Optimism and positivity in abundance.

Dawn’s ‘performance’ felt so personal, to the point where you basically forgot you were watching an actress/comedienne – it was not acting, it was story-telling of the highest degree. Entertaining, moving, funny and a damn good story – a true story and one that she didn’t have to share with us, but chose to. That’s what people who love life and are happy in their own skin do.

What else can I really say about this remarkable woman, that won’t sound contrived and patronising? We were so touched by her candid, honest accounts of the many stages of her life to date; her self-deprecating humour and ability to openly convey how she’s dealt with the trials that life throws at us. It was a sheer pleasure and again, a privilege to be a member of the audience. Congratulations Dawn, you are truly inspiring.

(And thanks for liking my Tweet!)

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Game changer

When you find your life has all of a sudden taken an unexpected turn, it’s a bit tricky to be rational about choices and decisions. The first step to getting over this is to acknowledge when the irrational is merely a consequence of one’s situation and at that point, you need to grab it by the horns and battle the anxiety & angst head on.

One thing that I’ve learnt about myself over the last 20 years (from dealing with marriage, children, divorce, re-educating, new career, relationships, friendships…) is that you can never plan things, not really. Yes you can feel smug that you’ve got your diary filled with wonderful social events, meetings, work commitments and the odd holiday or weekend away; but when it comes to it, none of these are certain. Keeping an open mind about things not going quite to plan is a healthy way of dealing with life in general. If we’re too caught up with sticking to those diary entries, it becomes a relentless personal challenge to attempt perfection.

What’s so wrong about trying to get things right? Nothing, but sometimes it’s the getting things wrong that leads us to making better choices in the future. If we can come to terms with the mistakes that we make then we can learn from them and improve on the decision making process when faced with new challenges.

I love my work, but it’s not always as creative as I would like it to be. Recently I’ve realised that some of the work that I’ve been doing isn’t really challenging me in the way that allows me to grow my skills as a designer. It’s all about finding the balance and sometimes you have to say ‘no more’ and make that decision to change things. I did just that. I finished a job that was leading nowhere. When you look around, after three years, to find evidence of all your hard work and really can’t find it, you have to question whether your hard work is really what that business wants, despite what they  might need. Sometimes you have to deal with attitudes that are not prepared to accept that the world is changing, that they need to embrace those changes, enjoy them and reap the benefits. The penny finally dropped, I was wasting my time and energy, and my creativity was being stifled.

Time to exit. Time to move on. Time to think rationally and time to turn my life back around to a place that makes me happy and makes my kids happy. Looking after number one maybe a selfish thing to admit to, but it is necessary. My game changer moment has been a tough one, but certainly not something that I regret.

Being able to smile and laugh at life is sometimes a challenge, but one that should have a firm appointment in all our busy diaries. Have a damn good day!


 


 

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