Monthly Archives: June 2015

Calming The Troubled Waters Of My Mind

Sometimes you need to find an activity that calms your mind, gives you that break from reality and allows you a few precious moments to re-group your thoughts.

What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. For some people it may be going for a ten mile run. For others it may be a long walk in the countryside. Some people prefer to seek out an alternative therapy treatment. You get the picture, right?

Personally, I use a few different things to calm the waters in my mind. Usually a walk with my iPod, preferably along a beach, does the trick. If I’m planning complete and utter relaxation and require to re-charge my inner soul then my solution is a Reiki treatment.

Sometimes though you need to be more spontaneous and the relaxation source has to be close at hand.

Yesterday morning, my mind was buzzing when I awoke at the crack of dawn. (Sleep has been a luxury that’s been denied for the past few nights thanks to a sickly Big Green Gummi Bear. It’s been like sleeping alongside Darth Vader in his death throes! Sorry, honey)

Anyway, long before seven o’clock I gave up even trying to get any sleep. Apart from the snoring and groaning that was going on to my left, my brain had gone into overdrive. The “To Do” list for the day was spiralling round-

  • Laundry
  • Ironing
  • Housework
  • Set up the Facebook fan page that I co-admin for the day
  • Photos to downloaded from my camera
  • Photos to be edited and published
  • Blog to be written
  • Promotion of Stronger Within aka Book Baby
  • Typing up of Book Baby 2
  • Writing of Book Baby 3
  • Continue Photoshop tutorials
  • Track down the Rival Sons set from Glastonbury on TV/pc or in fact anywhere!!! (found part of it on Periscope)

By eight o’clock, the photos had been dealt with (and turned out not too bad even if I do say so myself) and the fan page had been half done.

The “thoughts” over load continued while I was in the shower as I mentally tried to squeeze it all into the rest of the day and still have time to cook meals etc.

“STOP!” screamed my inner conscience. “Time out, girl!”

For once, I listened to myself.

So what was the relaxation fix of choice to clear and calm my frazzled state of mind?

I spent a very calming hour on my own, in the warmth of the conservatory, colouring in. I re-connected with my inner child. Art Therapy, if you want to be grown up about.

Nothing complex. Just a quiet simple period of time alone, focussing on one simple task.

It was bliss!

By the end of the hour, I felt calm and relaxed once more.

The “To Do” list had been shortened into something achievable. And, despite the lousy weather outside, the day was looking brighter.

Oh and I had three brightly coloured butterflies on the page in front of me!

Happy days!

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Dream Come True! …….it’s real!

On Thursday 11th June a parcel arrived for me. (Huge thanks to my neighbour across the street for taking it in for me).

Instantly I knew what it was.

Secreted in cardboard packaging, I was holding something I’d only ever dreamed of holding in my hands.

Trembling, I carried it into the kitchen and sat it on the table, not trusting myself to look at it never mind open it!

Once I’d turned on the over for dinner and put away my bits and pieces of shopping, I carried my package upstairs to the bedroom and laid it down gently in the middle of the bed.

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I stood staring at it, still not believing that it was real.

I changed out of my work clothes then sat on the bed beside it, running my hand over the cardboard. Yes, I even took its photograph.

This was a never to be repeated moment in my life.

My heart was pounding. My hands were shaking. My throat felt dry.

Slowly I tore off the strip across the back of the package and caught my first glimpse of the contents.

A lump now filled my throat and unshed tears were stinging at my eyes.

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It was really real now.

Lovingly I slid the contents out of the cardboard sleeve.

I was holding it in my hands!

A huge smile of pride spread across my face as I tenderly caressed it.

What was I holding in my shaking hands?

The first ever paperback proof copy of my Book Baby – Stronger Within.

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Since its release on Kindle, there have been many emotional Book Baby moments that I’ll treasure forever- seeing it on sale on Amazon’s website for the first time; selling my first copy in the UK; selling my first copy in the USA and in other countries around the world; reading the first  5* reviews. It’s been an emotional creative roller coaster over the last few weeks.

Nothing however prepared me for the overwhelming emotion of actually holding it in my arms as a real “live” Book Baby!

The last piece of the dream was becoming a reality.

Book Baby sure has come a long way from the four tattered handwritten A4 notebooks that it began life as.

I know I’m biased but it’s beautiful. (Thank you so much to my Photoshop fairy godmother)

So after eleven days, has the feeling worn off?

No!

I’ve painstakingly re-read it from cover to cover, taking extra care not to break its spine, slotting in post-its at pages where the layout requires to be tweaked. I corrected one glaring spelling error. I corrected one “writing” error (I got left and right muddled up). I made one minor tweak to the wording of one section following a reviewer’s criticism of my non-USA language.

Even when it was brimming with post its, it still looked amazing to me.

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Corrections made, I submitted a second draft and ordered another proof copy.

I arrived home this evening expecting it to be waiting for me. No sign of it. A wave of disappointment washed over me. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

However as I sat on my front doorstep in the early evening sun, my neighbour handed me a cardboard package. (Huge thanks to next door!)

My heart began to pound and a smile began to grow.

I carried it indoors and laid it on the kitchen table then returned to the doorstep to finish off this post.

I guess I’d better go and open my parcel!

***The paperback edition of Stronger Within is available on Amazon now. ***

Blue Jeans and White T-shirt….there’s a song in there!

It had been six weeks and two days since my last fix. A long six weeks!

Last Tuesday night I boarded the 5:25 train to Glasgow, praying that Boy Child and his friend would catch the train a few stations further up the track. They did! Whew!

We were heading for Glasgow’s art deco O2 Academy to see The Gaslight Anthem in concert.

The boys hadn’t eaten so when we pulled into Glasgow they went off in their separate directions in search of food with strict instructions to meet back under the clock in the station. Boy Child arrived back first with his Burger King bag. No sign of his friend.

Great! We weren’t even out of the station and I’d lost one of them! Teenagers are worse than small children at times.

“Has anyone seen a lost teenager in blue jeans and white t-shirt?”

Boy Child’s phone rattled. The missing wean was in McDonalds more than a block away! I’ve yet to figure out why he went there instead of Burger King but at least he hadn’t reappeared with a loaf of bread.

It is worth pointing out that this “wean” is apparently highly intelligent…..hmmm….

We found him a few minutes later and I watched as he practically juggled his drink and burger box, refusing all offers of assistance, as he attempted to eat his dinner.

I had a sneaky suspicion that his white t-shirt wasn’t going to stay white for long

By some miracle he managed to consume his meal without wearing any of it. Moral victory!

The walk down to the O2 Academy was  quite pleasant. The weather was warm and sunny making a welcome change from the last time’s pouring rain and howling wind.

Once inside the venue, after a trip to the merch stall, the boys abandoned me, heading off to find their spot centre front. Boy Child was hoping for some moshing; the other wean looked slightly less convinced. I took up position two rows off the barrier over to the left of the room. Looking round at the fans who were rapidly filling the venue, they didn’t look like a moshing crowd.

First band on stage were The Scandals from New Jersey. They played a solid fifty minute set and did their job perfectly. Despite sounding at times like a Gaslight Anthem tribute act, they won the crowd over and had them suitably wound into a frenzy for the headliners. Job done!

The Gaslight Anthem didn’t blast onto the stage as I’d expected. They started off very quietly with Have Mercy then blasted into Handwritten, one of my favourites.

Front man, Brian Fallon, explained a few songs in that there would be no encore, they would rather just play straight through and not waste time going off to come back on again. He then went on to say that they based the set around fan requests and songs they felt like playing. Sounds fair enough.

What a set it was! A full two hours and some 28 songs long!!

It didn’t escape my attention that as the evening wore on the crowd in the centre were beginning to mosh. Boy Child would be happy.

By the time The Gaslight Anthem reached the back end of their set, they were playing their harder, faster numbers and the mosh pit was rapidly spreading across the width of the room.

“Mummy Mode” was engaged as I tried to spot Boy Child in the mayhem. Occasional glimpses of him kept me calm enough to return my attention to the stage. A couple of songs before the end, a rather dishevelled older man appeared through the crowd to stand beside me. I’m guessing but he looked to be in his late 50’s/early 60’s and looked as though he had been dragged through a hedge backwards. I suspect he may have “enjoyed” his first and last mosh pit experience. Poor guy!

The Gaslight Anthem ended their epic set with four of their finest numbers (and were joined by the front man from The Scandals for one). Their set ended with The 59 Sound, American Slang, The Backseat and We’re Getting A Divorce, You Keep The Diner.

With minimal fuss they left the stage. Boy Child and the wean appeared out of the crowd. They looked intact then I spotted blood on Boy Child’s face. Nose bleed! He’d tripped and smacked his nose off his friend’s shoulder.

A small spray of blood was splattered across his friend’s white t-shirt.

I knew a white t-shirt to a gig was a bad idea!

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The Last School Trip – Prom Night

Humour me, please, for a few moments. I’m about to engage proud mother mode aka embarrassing mum mode if you are the target child.

Last week marked a landmark event in the life of Boy Child as he signed the leaver’s form for high school. Thirteen years of school done and dusted in the blink of an eye.

His final year culminated in the final school trip – the school prom.

Trust me, it’s not just the girls who put thought into what they’ll wear to prom.

Much to my surprise Boy Child didn’t take much persuading to hire a kilt for the occasion. So a couple of weeks ago we headed off to the hire shop. Let’s just say he needs to grow into his body and is still a gangly teenager who is all arms and legs. With the measurements taken and amid much slagging off and giggling form me, he chose his outfit.

On Wednesday after work I ran into the shop to collect said outfit (and pay for its hire). As I lugged it back to the car I was quickly reminded of just how heavy a kilt is!

After dinner Boy Child was advised to try the ensemble on to ensure it all fitted. Twenty minutes later he stomped back into the kitchen half-dressed muttering and pleading for assistance Seventeen years old and over six feet tall and still needed his mummy’s help – cue more giggling and teasing from me. Confession – we did resort to You Tube for a reminder on how to tie Ghillie brogues correctly!

So Friday, Prom Night, dawned wet and windy. So much for sunny June weather! However someone was keeping an eye over those youngsters as the skies cleared and the sun was shining by the time we were all due to assemble at the school for the pre-prom reception. Pity the wind didn’t die down!

In true organised McCallum fashion we arrived separately. Boy Child had finished work early to go home and fight his way into his kilt while I had agreed to meet him at the school.

As I drove up the driveway towards the school and saw the crowd of young adults in all their finery surrounded by their proud parents, it hit me.

I was there to see my baby boy off on his final school trip!

I’ll not lie – there was a lump in my throat.

It took me a few minutes to find him in the crowd but when I saw him in all his kilted finery my heart swelled with pride. My baby boy has grown into a fine looking young man.

Cue photo shoot!

Suffice to say it was chaos as everyone was trying to get photos with their friends and family and not photo bomb each other’s shots.

I was happy enough with the end result. Got photos of Boy Child with his friends including my two “Facebook Sons” and “Bread Boy” (see a previous blog post for that story)

Where did the little boys that we watched head into primary one go? It seems like only yesterday….

They’ve all grown into handsome young men.

The girls looked stunning in a rainbow of beautiful ball gowns. Long gone were the little girls who used to play with dolls and skipping ropes!

After a blessedly brief speech from the head teacher, it was time for the senior pupils to leave the school for one last class trip.

As they all trooped off towards the waiting coaches I watch Boy Child walk off with his friends without a backwards glance.

Time for me to go.

By all accounts and judging by the flood of photos on Facebook they had a fabulous night.

I was relieved to hear the front door open then the key being turned in the lock in the small hours of Saturday morning. Boy Child was home safely. Now I could disengage “anxious mummy” mode and get some sleep. After all, he still is and probably always will be my baby boy.

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To Ink Or Not To Ink……

A very personal choice indeed!

My social media newsfeeds have been filled today with commentary and photos of a certain rock star’s new tattoo. Lots of folk loving it; lots of folk more critical.

The fresh ink in question is without doubt a bold statement – and it must’ve hurt like hell!

Love it or loathe it – it was their personal choice. It’s their body!

The word tattoo came into common usage in the late 18th Century thanks to Capt James Cook’s adventures in the southern hemisphere and originates from the Polynesian word “tatau” meaning “correct, workman like”. Apt for this particular rock star who is one of the hardest working perfectionists around.

There is little doubt that there is a current trend for tattoos. According to a newspaper survey at least 20% of Britain’s adults have now been inked at least once.

Personally speaking I am ink-free but that does not mean that I don’t approve of tattoos. In fact there are many that I admire, including the rock star’s latest addition.

It’s entirely my choice not to get one at this point in time. Just as it is anyone’s choice to get one. Neither is right or wrong. It’s what’s right for the individual at the time.

People get tattoos for a variety of reasons, not just to paint pretty pictures on their skin. It’s not uncommon for people suffering from medical conditions such as diabetes to have a medical alert tattoo. Or, sadly, for an Alzheimer’s sufferer to have their own name tattooed somewhere visible. I’ve heard of one retired healthcare worker having a large broken heart tattooed on their chest with DNR inked below it.

Like most of us, I have friends and family with various and numerous tattoos. Regardless of size, colour, quality or content each of these means something very personal to them as individuals. So who are we to criticise their choices?

I guess what ultimately stops me from getting one is the fact that it is so permanent (that and the fact the Big Green Gummi Bear would be filing for divorce before the ink was dry!). Just because I love the design today, does that mean I will still love it in five, ten, fifteen years’ time? Maybe. Maybe not. A risk I’m not prepared to take.

Yes, you can get them removed via laser but that’s not without it’s own agony and scarring. Not for me. I’m a coward when it comes to pain!

I’ve often admired henna tattoos that have been offered on summer holidays as a temporary addition but “bloused out” getting that done after reading about people suffering an allergic reaction to the henna dye mix and ending up with serious burns. No thanks.

Perhaps I should take a leaf out of Girl Child’s book and use a biro pen. Many times she has arrived home with various beautifully drawn designs on her hands and arms, plus notes of her homework when she’s forgotten her homework diary!

If there was a fool proof way to have a temporary tattoo applied that was guaranteed to fade away completely in say three to six months then I could be tempted without a whole lot of persuasion ( And I’m not meaning the temporary transfers that you apply with a damp cloth that wear off the first time you shower)

And what would I choose to have added on a temporary basis? If I was getting it done right now, a small blue butterfly and a certain small Celtic dragon that’s very special to me.

Never say never.

Whether you love or loathe that certain rock star’s new additions, I personally hope he loves them. My guess is that he does but that he too thought long and hard before allowing the artist’s ink anywhere near his skin.

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 credit to the owners of all images used