JOCK TAMSON’S BAIRNS

This studying lark, I have to say, I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve always been a proud bookworm, finding more pleasure from words than daytime television.  However, in moving from fiction to academia, I anticipated the change in reading style would be a challenge.  

I’m used to researching and preparing for talks, workshops and most recently mistress of ceremony duties, but I appreciate the approach to creativity and sciences have polarities I am only beginning to appreciate.  However, it is one I have enjoyed and my mind, keen to sponge up new knowledge, has teased me to explore other books on psychology beyond the Open University texts. 

So, sitting last weekend at Kirkcaldy Galleries, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.  Surrounded by textbooks as I grappled with the study of Authoritarian Personality, finding I was able to engage with the research and link modern day events to give it context.  If I have learned anything about psychology it is that this science raises more questions than it does answers.

Then, out of my word stupor, I heard a faint voice say, “excuse me?”  Turning, I saw a woman looking at me nervously before she said;

“Your tag is hanging out of the back of your jumper.”

Pulling the tag off my newly purchased jumper, I burst out laughing.  As the woman backed away, clearly relieved with my reaction and wandered off with the words. 

“Your jumper is lovely by the way.”

Giggling, I looked down at my textbooks sprawled out over the table, half illuminated by the sun through the slats of the long wooden blinds and I came up with one theory I did not anticipate. 

You’re never as clever as you think you are and every day is a school day. 

As my darling Dad often says; “we’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns,” and never has there been a truer word been said.  Psychology student, keen learner.  Daft as a brush.  However, I still think it is a funny story, so perhaps there is hope for me yet. 

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; enjoy your learning, have fun along the way and remove the tags.  You don’t need them anymore. 

THE DOMINO EFFECT

I played dominos once.

The game brings back a very special memory of my Granddad Andy being in the hospital after a fall.  It was dark, murky night in the midst of winter as I parked my car in the moonlight and went up in the lift leaving my stomach on ground floor as we ascended from the bowel of the building.  Entering the ward, I turned the corner and saw him sitting straight up in his bed, quietly looking out of the window as visitors began to mull around him.  The quiet man amongst the noise.  Our quiet man. 

He gave me the biggest smile as I sat down and asked me about my day, it was always about us and never about him.  Looking around me I saw the domino’s sitting and suggested a game remembering this was the pastime of choice at Dunniker Golf Club on a Friday night with his cronies.

Andy Young smiled at me and reached for the dominos.

My Granddad being the gentleman that he was let me win the first game then obviously deciding I had my chance…annihilated me in the next FIVE. 

I laughed and so did he as he would search the dominos, his soft blue eyes crinkling at the corners as he carefully choose one before placing it down with an impish but kind smile on his face. 

That’s how I remember him – a man of dignity, grace and kindness.  A few months later, he went to sleep and never woke up.  But I always remember that night and wonder about the timing.  The one night that week he didn’t have any other visitors, the dominos sitting on the hospital bedside table and the memory created years ago that I still smile at today.

And I was so lucky, so very, very lucky to know him and share his life with him. 

Looking back, I understand it’s all about the domino effect.  Every choice you make has a consequence, every opportunity yields the next and everyone you meet leads to another  and it is only in retrospect that you understand the reason and the rhyme of it all.  Cards dealt at the time dictated by fate. 

So, if I could leave with you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; watch the dominos fall and see what fate has in store for you, you might be surprised by the delights that come your way. 

EBB AND FLOW

I’m drawn to the water. 

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a water baby but put me beside a lake, a loch or even a puddle.  I’m happy.

My favourite spot de jour is Kirkcaldy beach heralding back memories of my childhood with my Gran.  Who would take my brother, cousins and myself for long walks along Seafield on a Saturday afternoon where we would all run along the beach, avoiding jelly fish and rocks as we scarpered in the sun and in the shadows of the Seafield Tower.

Recently, I sat on the step leading to the beach taking advantage of the almost Scottish sun, eating a concealed lunch from the seagulls and watching the high tide ten feet from me tease snapshots of the toffee coloured sand beneath and the almost white polished shells hidden within.

As I watched the tide, it became almost hypnotic.  Some waves lapped into the steps gently, teasing and encouraging the water within to merge, join and form into a pattern working together.  Other waves were violent, reacting and arguing until it reluctantly accepted the interloper’s presence. 

Watching almost in a daydream it occurred to me this scene of nature echoes life’s changes.

Some changes are gentle encouraging you to move slightly to the left instead of right manoeuvring you a hair’s breadth distance away onto a new road and a new direction.  Others are violent, burning down the foundations of a shaky tower, plunging you into the shock of freezing cold water and demanding your strength as you adjust. 

Both experiences are valuable and always the foam of the water lulls, the tides of old and new merge and you rise to the top of the water, breathing in cold crisp air to see the sun and the horizon above as you tread easily on the tide. 

It’s all about the ebb and flow. 

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish I would like it to be this; embrace the waves and the experiences, just like nature, they are a blessing and will take you exactly where you are meant to be.

MUSIC

I love music.

To the point where, I can’t go a day without it.  There is nothing more satisfying than flipping on some tunes and putting in my earplugs.  In my humble opinion, as with all creative outlets, music is an experience and it is the emotions building within an opening line, a chorus and a soft, slow finish that quantify the experience of the listener. 

I’ve always been a rock chick, born when I was 13 years old, sitting in a friend’s house and listening to the opening beats of ‘Lay your hands on me’ from Bon’s Jovi’s New Jersey album – on vinyl.   I love music that grabs you by the throat and demands you listen to it, through all the rough edges, the hard-bitten words and to the heartbeat behind the soul of the song. 

These artists, in no particular order, have followed this path. 

Oasis

It was my Dad and brother that got me into Oasis.  So, when it comes to the 90s band war between the aforementioned and Blur.  Oasis won for me.

Noel still writes crackers and Liam, as ever, continues to be a loveable brat.

For me, their song ‘Stop crying your heart out’ is a perfect symmetry of Noel’s song writing and Liam’s soulful over pronunciation of every lyric.  

Pure fricking magic.

Calvin Harris 

What can I say?  A fellow Scot done very, very good. I love the zaniness, the pulses, the guest artists and his clever talent of immersing the combination together. 

His recent number one, ‘Feels’, ticks all the boxes, however, it’s ‘Feels so close’ that makes me lose my it on the dance floor.  Every single time.  Pure dead brilliant.

Bear McGreary

I caught the soundtrack to Outlander two years before watching the actual series.  What a mighty soundtrack with a spellbinding twist of magic and storytelling woven between Scottish pipes and Gaelic linguistics. 

‘The Veil of Time’ is a composition of majesty and theatrics, encouraging you to search the Scottish Highlands for a standing stone offering a passport back to the 17th century.

Alanis Morrisette

Ah, Jagged Little Pill. What an album.

These songs symbolised my 20s, along with a memory of being on a silly o’clock morning bus to Edinburgh listening to this album and being told an older man, three rows back, that my music was too loud.  How on earth can you listen to music quietly?

Gut wrenching lyrics and a powerful voice filled with teenage angst.  Twenty years later – seriously – her song ‘Thank You’ is a retrospection on gratitude has come to mean so much.

“The moment I let go of it was the moment I got what I could handle,

The moment I jumped off of it was the moment I touched down.”

Now, that’s poetry. 

Eddie Vedder/Pearl Jam

I re-discovered Pearl Jam in the last year, having been briefly acquainted in the 90s with ‘Alive’.  However, it was a movie that brought them back. 

‘Into The Wild’ directed by Sean Penn is the story of inspiring but ultimately tragic adventure of Chris McCandless.  Vedder produced an epic soundtrack which captured the innocence of this free spirited soul who travelled America before reaching Alaska.

The song ‘Hard Sun’ is beautiful, capturing the hopeful spirit of a new adventure. 

Pearl Jam have a quality back catalogue with ‘Just Breathe’ and ‘I am Mine’ amongst my favourites. 

Jay-Z

He may have 99 problems, but what can I say? Jay-Z is just cool.

Any man who grows up in the projects, busts his ass to work in the rap scene and then becomes a mogul with his own record label is one to be admired. 

His collaboration ‘Otis’ with Kanye West is one of my favourites.  

“I guess I got my swagger back. Truth.”

Hans Zimmer

The double combination of a movie and a soundtrack by Zimmer is a treat to behold. However, for me, it is his partnership with director Christopher Nolan in The Dark Knight and Interstellar amongst others that spawns a masterpiece. 

For me the piece de resistance has to be ‘Time’ from Inception.  A masterclass in simplicity and elegance.

Foo Fighters

I had to mention the Foos.

I have a special love for this band with a combination of ear busting drums and carefully concealed pointed lyrics.  It is this relationship with a healthy dose of self deprecating humour that makes me go and see them every time they tour. 

I could mention ten songs that are contenders for favourites.  So instead, I’ll share the tribute by the Rocking 1000 who congregated in the middle of Italy on a sunny day to sing “Learn to fly’ to their favourite band.

I dare you not to listen and not sing along.

Ray BLK

I caught this new artist listening to radio recently.

The first unsigned artist to win the BBC’s Wall of Sound earlier this year, Ray BLK is a fresh new voice who began releasing music while studying at university.

I love her song ‘Doing Me’.  Luckily, she has garnered the support of Radio 1 and also appeared at Glastonbury.  I’m hoping she gets signed up a label who shares her with the world and allows her to express her authenticity.  

Most definitely one to watch.

In the meantime, I’m away to listen to some more music. 

VIENNA

I got lost in Vienna.

Okay, I know this is hardly a great surprise to anyone who knows me.  I regularly find myself off the beaten track, however, I hoped this would be confined to my domestic adventures in the UK. 

It started with missing the tour bus,  I waited patiently outside the Sigmund Freud Museum, a short walk away from my hotel peering up and down the beautiful buildings for a big yellow bus that never arrived.  Already a day in Vienna, I decided I knew exactly what I was doing and swaggered confidently towards the nearest tram stop and boarded one going which looked like it was going in the direction of the city centre.  However, as the streets grew quieter and less tourist like I realised I was heading out of Vienna.  Jumping off the tram, I boarded a bus and was given a timetable by lovely bus driver who directed me towards the underground.

Underground, yes, six lines, what could possibly go wrong.  Hearing my Dad’s voice saying; “you’ve got a Scots tongue in yer heed.” I asked for help, speaking to three people, the last an elderly lady who charmingly commented her glasses were too small for my timetable.  I jumped on a underground train to Karlskirche.  Quickly realised I had got it wrong again, reverted back to the previous station before finally finding the U4 to the city centre with the help of another lady, adorned by a chic hat, who stated regally, “Dear, we wait for the driver to pull the train along towards us before we board it.”

Two hours later, I finally reached the splendour of the Vienna Opera House, laughing at myself and appreciating how lovely and helpful Austrian people are. 

The next day I decided to stick with what I knew best. Heading towards the city centre, I followed Google maps until I reached the Austrian Library because if there is anywhere in Vienna I had to visit, it was there.  Navigating the Museum Quarter and being stunned by the architecture at the corner of each building, I finally found the library and wandered into the silent, hallowed walls, filled with marble, books and majesty. It was so quiet.  It was so beautiful.

Leaving the building, I found myself facing St Stephens Cathedral with The Hofberg Palace to my left and the Museum of Natural History on my right.  

I had found Vienna.

Sitting down, I took it all in.  The sun beating down over the Museum Quarter, the coolness in the shade and the absolute beauty around me and I remembered the day before I had turned 40. 

And in that moment, in that second, I knew I had everything I ever needed.

I went to Vienna as a dare to myself.  A challenge of travelling abroad, on my own, to see how I would fare.  I did good and in fact these three days in this beautiful, magical country where the most cathartic and liberating I have ever experienced. 

So, sometimes you get lost and find yourself in the most unexpected ways and you return and ask yourself the best question.

Where to next?

PASSION

My head has been spinning lately.

As an Author and Freelance Writer, ideas pop into my head constantly, like bubbles forming within frothy, scented bath water.  However, just like scented lavender bubbles they burst just as quickly.  I’ve had these bursts of creativity before and I am grateful for it, however, the decision of what to focus on first can cause conflict. 

Then the thinking moves to questions.  Endless, endless questions.  What should I focus on first?  Should I start this first and then go back to that.  Should I take a break and come back.  No way, I can’t stop writing.  Okay, let’s do some more thinking.

It’s exhausting and it gets you absolutely nowhere.  All you do it take another ride on the same merry go round where the horses don’t move, you’re trapped and not moving forward.  Then I realised I just had to stop.  I had to literally stop thinking and start listening to my heart as I asked myself an important question.

What do you love?  What idea burns a passion in your soul and dances around in your imagination?  What makes you scramble for a pen and paper as you write down a new idea.

It’s the story.  For me, it’s always the story. 

While logic has its place, sometimes, it needs to be parked at the door.  It is only when you listen to your creativity that magic happens.  Quelling your logic isn’t easy.  As it leaves, it will fight to stay, sending you every fear and doubt you have ever felt.  However, the more it fights, the more its grasp lessens and you move towards creativity and you shut the door on fear and doubt.  Then the road ahead becomes clear and all you are left with is the idea you love, letting you jump off the merry go round of procrastination as you join the crowds in the circus around you. 

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; follow your passion and move forward with whatever makes your heart sing.  I have. 

SONDER

I went for a walk a couple of days ago. 

It wasn’t planned but the most interesting adventures never are.  Leaving the library after a writing session, I walked out into a sunny, glorious day got into the car and drove to a local park. 

It’s not a park I visit regularly, but remembering the wooden statues, one in particular named “the old man of the wood” I vaguely planned to pay him homage on my tour in the sun.

Arriving just after lunchtime on impulse I bought some chips to enjoy and wandered aimlessly towards the Rose Garden.  Looking up to the top of the wooden frame  adorned with a string of roses, I spotted a lone seagull watching me.  

It looked forlorn, displaying the kind of expression akin to not being feed for months on end and to cheer it up I decided to throw it a chip.  It instantly moved towards it and gobbled it down.

Then I heard a flutter of wings and found myself surrounded by a flock of seagulls. 

Now, they’e pretty big birds and given my nervous childhood experience with my Gran’s budgie, Charlie, I should really have known better. 

Deciding to quietly back away, I headed towards the pond, followed by the flock, swooping down around my head. 

Berating myself, my mind filled with vague memories of watching Tippi Hedren hiding in a telephone box away from ‘The Birds’ and the seagulls from ‘Finding Nemo’ who declared everything as theirs. 

Nearing the closest bin, I dumped the chips, leaving the seagulls to swoop after them, gather round, celebrate a campaign well fought and a feast well deserved. 

Watching them in fascination, I laughed at myself as I appreciated creativity in action.  To me, the seagull had a character and without thinking I gave him a backstory.  I can’t help it.  It is who I am.

We are all extras in everyone’s story and we all have our own.  Even a seagull and their friends and in exchange for their sharing that afternoon I will use this little snapshot in a park to add to my current story in progress.  I am sure they will happily take the chips as payment. 

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like to be this; be open to new experiences, people and animals.  You never know what story they may tell you. 

GUT INSTINCT

I always follow my gut instinct.

Recently, I wrote of facing your fears; knowing what you want, pursuing it, acknowledging the fear and doubt, releasing it and speaking your truth.

This week, I would like to explore gut instinct.  Medical philosophy suggests it is the second brain of our gastrointestinal systems and although I appreciate the biological school of thought.  For me, I do not know so much what it is, as to how it makes me feel.

When I’m comfortable, I feel relaxed and engaged.  Words spill as I contribute enthusiastically to those around me.  However, flip the coin and there is the twisting of the stomach when I feel uncomfortable and unsettled as I swiftly seek out the nearest exit.

At the same time, the logic of my brain, always quite happy to contribute, interrupts and tries to make sense of it all.  But remember, logic is influenced.  What we think and ultimately feel is encouraged by external factors; childhood, environment, peers and the media as we are advised and encouraged into a way of thinking.  None of this, I hasten to add, is wrong.  However, this internal discussion between the head and the heart can lead to a lot of confusion, at least for me. 

Then ask yourself a question; how many times did you looked back in retrospect and thought to yourself.

I knew.  I knew and I didn’t listen.

It’s the hairs on the back of your neck rising in icy coldness.  Your gut instinct is your soul’s barometer.  If your stomach is whirling and your heart is fluttering, your body is going into self-preservation mode it is asking you to listen and take care of yourself.

Logical thinking will always have a place, as does strategy and methodology.   But for me, as a creative, who lives her life in a celebration of emotion, I like to get out of my head and follow my heart, trusting my gut instinct to keep me on the right track.

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; any answer you seek is already inside you.  Stop for a moment, listen and trust what your body is trying to tell you. I have.

FACE YOUR FEARS

Last year, I wanted to run away.

I’m not saying this for effect. I really wanted to do it.  I dreamt of selling up, packing a bag, getting on a plane and driving across Route 66 in an vintage open top sports car leaving my troubles and my hair flowing behind me. Except, escape wasn’t easy. Everything I did only served to entangle me further with my circumstances and the more I struggled the tighter the bonds became.

During this time, I met a friend in Edinburgh and over coffee and a leisurely brunch I confessed my fantasy of living the life of a free-spirited gypsy.  My good friend looked at me kindly and said “sometimes, we want to run away when we should stay and face our fears.”

These words said with love and concern for my wellbeing struck me deeply and spurned me the next day to do what I had been avoiding.  In hindsight, I can now say with absolute certainty that without this timely advice I would not have been able to return home.  

Another friend recently said to me “there is nothing to fear, but fear itself.”  This quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt is as true today as when first uttered the words in 1932.

Ask yourself, what is fear?

Fear is only negative energy. It does not embody a person, an action or a circumstance.  It is your emotional fight or flight.  Just as you physically push out a hand to prevent a fall, your emotions create a barrier to keep the fear at bay.  This numbs it but prevents you from living life fully and passionately.

Remember, fear is a trickster. 

Lisa Young

Remember, fear is a trickster.  It’s only purpose is to offer distortion and doubt.  So instead of learning from the experience, you evoke a barrier, ensuring a pause as the circumstances configure and return to ensure you learn what was meant the first time around.

When you face your fears, you reclaim your power as you speak your truth.  Life’s most challenging situations offer unexpected gifts. It is these cathartic moments that shed the fears binding you and reveal your authentic self.  

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; face your fears, take action and reclaim your power and show yourself to the world.

You will never regret it.

MANIFEST

“What do you want?  What do you really, really want?”

Okay, I’m quoting some lyrics from the Spice Girls.  However, the question remains.  

What do you really, really want?

Recently, I found myself faced with a choice.  I could ruminate or I could ask myself this very important question and focus on bringing what I wanted into my life.  I choose the latter. 

So, in time old Lisa fashion, I started with a to do list.  Listing all I wanted to achieve in a morning, in a day and in a week and I decided determinedly to focus on what I wanted without interruption.  Ignoring and discarding any negativity that entered my mind.  I worked, I concentrated and applied action where it was needed.  I’m not talking about ‘pie in the sky’ notions.  I am talking about commodities I needed in order to survive.

What happened next both bewilders and makes me look back with an incredulous wonder.

Everything and I mean everything I wanted came to me through people, events and circumstances.  General notions and conversations I had weeks and months before manifested when I needed them most.  People came forward bearing gifts of kindness as a thank you for a small act I had done months before and gradually a new pathway once frozen in the darkness emerged illuminated then flooded by the sunlight.

And what, by rights, should have been one of the worst weeks of my life turned out to be the  very best.  

I knew wishing and dreaming of change would not manifest it.  It is essential you follow your dreams with action and as I concentrated on the little list, I made every day, inspiration came and I knew exactly what to do.  I knew who to contact, where to be and the work I needed to do.

This week not only changed my circumstances, it also changed me.  I spoke my truth in a way I have never done before.  I rebuilt my self-worth and confidence and this gave way to happiness and contentment, bringing with it an unprecedented burst in creativity that has been cathartic and life changing.  

Now, looking back, I can tell you, every single second of this experience was worthwhile.  I am now where I am meant to be.

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like to be this; manifest your dreams and don’t forget to answer question..

What do you really, really want?