Friday, March 24, 2017

The best thing to do with hunger...

Anything can be borne if it can be accepted. The biggest gift of growing older so far has been learning to be kind to all parts of me, not just the shiny bits... developing the confidence to know that I can embrace feelings of fear, pain and confusion/whatever in the knowledge that I am strong enough to feel it all and still belong to myself. This is life. All of it. All of it is miraculous. Even when we are in a state of longing or dissatisfaction, that's because we know all the beauties that are possible for us. .'The best thing to do with hunger, is make it the food/make of it an all-absorbing music...'

Love you,


Friday, May 20, 2016

The Morning Papers - A Series of Pieces About Prince

Trying to describe how it feels to have lost Prince (who is more than a person, but an era/childhood/personal myth) especially under such messed up circumstances, and with all my conspiratorial suspicions aroused, and him dying the way he did, that small miracle man, alone in a lift, with no-one to hold his gaze while he went over, or reassure him, or hold his hand... ay ay ay... I was sad and angry. I was put in mind of the opening passage from 'Sonny's Blues' by James Baldwin:
'I read about it in the paper, in the subway, on my way to work. I read it, and I couldn't believe 
it, and I read it again. Then perhaps I just stared at it, at the newsprint spelling out his name, 
spelling out the story. I stared at it in the swinging lights of the subway car, and in the faces 
and bodies of the people, and in my own face, trapped in the darkness which roared 
It was not to be believed and I kept telling myself that, as I walked from the subway station 
to the high school [...] A great block of ice got settled in my belly and kept melting 
there slowly all day long [...] It was a special kind of ice. It 
kept melting, sending trickles of ice water all up and down my veins, but it never got less. 
Sometimes it hardened and seemed to expand until I felt my guts were going to come 
spilling out or that I was going to choke or scream. This would always be at a moment when I 
was remembering some specific thing [...] once said or done.'
Or in this case, sang.
I didn't really know what to do with the feeling until Sharmila Chauhan reached out and asked me to contribute to a writing series featuring: Rajeev Balasubramanyam, Leone Ross, Nikesh Shukla,Sunil Chauhan, Tanuja Desai Hidier, Salena Godden, Rosamond King and myself entitled 'The Morning Papers' which you can find here: 
New creative pieces in various genres from creative non-fiction and memoir to poetry are being posted every day until Sunday.
Let's pour out some words for him.
Sleep tight, sweet Prince.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Social media envy/panic/HORROR/please stop.

Right, so let's talk about this.*

My name is Gemma Weekes and I am envious of everyone. I mean, on irrational levels. I want everyone to do well, especially my contemporaries, but every account of their career victories makes me examine my own professional trajectory with the kind of sneer fit for a Dickensian villain.

"Ooooh.... do you see that? What have you done lately, Gemma?"
"Was it any good, Gemma?"
"You get celebrity endorsement?"
"You get lotsa money?"
"You get the prestigious this or that?"
"You working fast enough?"
"Shouldn't you be further along by now?"
"Do you see how many likes they have on that post? People care!"
"He/She must be (delete as appropriate) nicer/more genuine/more savvy/smarter/cooler/more authentic/a human being More Loved by God Almighty with more of a right to be here than YOU are"
"And did you see how pretty? You're getting fat and old"
"You're missing your chance. You're past it."
"You're running out of time running out of time running out of time running out of time runningoutoftime RUNNING OUT OF TIME!"

It doesn't matter what I am actually doing at the time, and I am no slouch.

And then if I see a parent posting about the vegan cake they made their kids or how their kids can play Chopin at 2 years old or read at the age of 9 months, I think: "OH MY GOD! I shouldn't be writing, I should spend my time being a better MOTHER!"

And then I read about someone's squat challenge or liquid diet or how they can bend themselves into a pretzel shape and think, OH MY GOD! I need to get in SHAPE!"

And then I see someone's honest posting about how crap things are and I think OH MY GOD, that person is so much more NATURAL and HONEST than I!

The panic. The anxiety. The comparison. The worry. It is the filthy, stinking elephant in the room whenever I do my occasional FB scroll; the zombie parrot perched on my shoulder while I peruse the twitter feed, alternately screaming obscenities in my ear and pecking mighty big-chunks of my self-esteem right out of my skull. We'll pretend for the sake of that metaphor that my skull is, in fact, where my self-esteem is housed (who knows (it's early-ish, forgive)).

This is my confession.

This cruel self-judgement turns every one of my precious, hard-won triumphs to ash in my mouth. It dehumanizes people who, like me, have struggled, sweat and bled to manifest their dreams.
Last night, I went to a little soiree at Birkbeck University where the winner of the inaugural Kit De Wal scholarship was announced. While speaking to the first runner up of the prize (the lovely, talented Charlotte Forfieh (I am also a runner up, but slightly farther out from the glow of victory - congrats Steve Morrison-Burke!)) she asked me how long I've been writing. I replied that I've been writing 'forever' (not claiming to be immortal or anything, you know what I'm saying) and that sometimes people give a s**t, and sometimes they don't.

As I said that, I felt a massive exhale whoosh through me, a hallelujah of relief and simple truth-telling.

It felt real.

It felt as if, by speaking on that reality, I was liberating myself from giving a s**t if people give a s***t, which is long overdue.

I've written and sang and created my way through so many traumas and losses. I have created while grieving; while pregnant and breast-feeding; while depressed, broke, homeless; after break-ups and fights and professional disappointments as well as triumphs; late at night and first thing in the morning; when people have understood it and when they haven't; when there's been applause and when there hasn't been. That's my journey.

I've cried listening to the harsh, critical voice in my head, knowing I deserve better. Self-love should never be an earned thing. I'm on earth. That's good enough. If I can love others, make a contribution to culture and to the raising of global consciousness, make my kid laugh with one of my dodgy accents, or even make a cake that's not 'light as a cannonball' - then, great!

I joked the other day that my son should post his ideas about meditation (he is a very interesting 9 year old dude) and he replied that it wouldn't get any 'likes'. I told him 'who cares', but how can I say that and then live the opposite?

I sometimes despair of younger people coming up in this social media culture powered by an unrelenting hunger for external validation.

But it's occurred to me that perhaps this is an opportunity to seek greater grounding in the self, more than we've ever needed before, moving toward our desires with patience and grace.

Maybe it's an opportunity to pause and address the wounds that lead us to such horrific self-judgement and blocks us from truly loving others.

Maybe it's an invitation to share more of our real stories so we know we're not alone.

(You're not alone. You are beautiful. Your pace is beautiful. Your indecision and procrastination are beautiful. Breathe. You're working things out. Your mistakes are perfect, including your 'bad side' in photos. Just saying.)

Did you like this? Please like/share/tweet. :-D KIDDING!
(but like, please do it)
(but like, really, I'm kidding! lol!)

Love to you and your behind the scenes as well as your showreel. *smile*

Gem xxx

P.S.: I'm gonna leave you with some sage words from Mooji that help put that filthy elephant/zombie parrot in a sleeper hold:

* I almost went on to say: "who else feels like..." which is part of the problem! Maybe no-one else feels like this, and maybe no-one gets what I'm going to write about or will ever read about it. That's ok.

'The Water' rehearsal (7 day soundcloud challenge, day 2)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Is everything changing, or just me? :-)

2016, how you doing?

I feel like you gave 2015 a hug on the way out, didn't you?

Gave her a wink and a grin, said: "Sssshh. I got this."

I think you might be a little bit of a jauntier year than previous.

You ain't got much money so far, but you're still fly.

I have about one quarter of an hour before I need to go pick up the emperor from school, and really, I thought I was gonna scribble something a little more earnest

     cos I'm hungry and I've really not done as much writing today as I thought I would.

But you tickle me.

I opened this box and started to smile. Because 2016 has this pretty twinkle to it.

And even when I'm being a little artistic and blue and sitting around contemplating my mortality and stuff I dig it, that twinkle. Like a diamond in a pile a dirt that might be a shard of glass, but who cares? Whatever it is, it has the sun its eye! Oh yes. 

Exactly like that.

2016... you came around all muscly with love!  Looked around and had these faces all edible with it, had hands all wrapped around my hands. And my heart full.  

2016 you make me wanna cook and clean the house. You make me wanna build things right up past the sky. You came all jingling with opportunity, and excitement, and purpose, and self-understanding, and progress, and acceptance, and a real down-to-the-bone type of even-ness that maybe I've never felt before. Head in iridescent clouds and feet firm in the soil.

2016, I think you came with presents for everybody.

I think you have a plan.  I think you're laughing at the gaps in all of us.

I think you're singing even when we cry. I think, in your shape, I perceive the shape of an architecture beyond the flesh of things, perfect architecture beneath the chaos.

Time flicks its pages faster and faster and here we are.

Is time really real?

Is everything changing, or just me?