Do YOU Want to be Heard?

This is a shout out to anyone who fancies “borrowing my website” for one of their own blogs. I love to chat and talk about my own opinions as you all know, but I’m also a really good listener and love to give other’s a chance at the limelight.

If you have a topic you want to write about, an interesting opinion you’d like to share, a review, an idea, a short story, in fact anything at all, please send it to me. I’ll keep the submissions and publish sporadically, listing who wrote it, for all to know. Feel free to send any pictures too to go with it.

I love writing and have done all my life, ever since I was a little girl and my parents bought me my big, bright orange sentence constructor (see my little doodle below!)

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So if you love writing and fancy your voice being heard, please, please send me a submission. You might want to use it as a platform to show others your written skills for job/interview/college purposes. Perhaps you are thinking of starting your own blog in future and would like to test the water first to see how your work is received. Maybe Facebook doesn’t reach enough people for your liking and 280 characters just isn’t enough on Twitter.

Either way, give it a go. Write something, send it in, see it online and capitalise on my sharing mood while it lasts!

In Defence of the Snowflake

When I’m having a ‘tough day,’ or a ‘mental week’ and express a negative opinion on what’s happening to me, on occasion I hear something along the lines of “Man up!” or “It was ten times harder in my day!” Basically, opinionated statements thrown in my face by people older than me to make me feel that I have no right to feel the way I do. This is something that I’m sure ALL of the people reading this blog have heard before. Thankfully, I don’t really get offended by these statements as these people don’t KNOW me or really anything about what I’m going through – they just want to make the moment about them for a few minutes. Whatevs Trevs, crack on!

The reason I bring this up today though is following a conversation I was having with a friend last week. Albeit for different organisations, in our job roles we both have the privilege of working with and coaching what some people like to call ‘Millennials.’

Millennial (noun) – a person born in the 1980s or 1990s, especially in the U.S; a member of Generation Y (Definition courtesy of www.dictionary.com)

I myself am a Millennial but I am not of the age group of the type of Millennial I’m going to talk about in this article. I am referring to the group that have become more commonly known as “Generation Snowflake.” This is the term given to young adults of the 2010s who ‘apparently’ have very little resilience when it comes to tackling problems and working hard. They are also accused of often taking offence when receiving feedback, whether in work or by the older generation. These supposed Snowflakes are considered too emotionally vulnerable for the ‘real world’ and deemed incapable of coping with views which rival their own.

The term Generation Snowflake was once considered slang, however in 2016 it was observed as one of Collins Dictionary’s words of the year. The Financial Times also recognised it exactly the same way.

An article in The Independent back in September this year brought to light a controversial view on Snowflakes by sharing the views of Connecticut Businessman, Kyle Reyes, who has devised a “Snowflake Test” in his company’s interview process, asking curveball questions such as when applicants last cried and why.

What winds me up however is the fact that there is a vicious label such as this for this generation of young people. I have worked for a youth charity for the last six years and before that as an Adviser to 18-24 year-olds. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I’ve met and got to know thousands upon thousands of this generation. I have watched some overcome barriers that I was lucky enough not to have in front of me growing up.

I have seen someone balance work experience in the hope of employment all whilst being a carer for two family members.

I have seen someone experience loss of parents at a young age and still turn up to an employment programme with a smile on their face and ready to help customers.

I have seen someone constantly rejected by employers for the way they looked, work insanely hard on a training course and then gain full-time, permanent employment.

I have seen someone supporting a work colleague through bereavement whilst suffering their own personal battles to financially support their child.

I have seen someone rejected by their family because of sexual preference turn up to a training course to better themselves every day as if nothing was wrong.

I have seen someone work hard in their GCSE exams the same week they spent every night in a theatre performing in a show and perfecting their work-life balance.

I have seen someone try their hardest to learn a new job whilst slowly losing their sight.

I have seen hundreds battling depression, anxiety and personal demons in the hope of improving their lives whether that be getting a job, going back to education or just leaving the house every day and meeting new people.

I am inspired every day of my life by someone new from this so-called Generation Snowflake. Can the small-minded people who label them this really hand on heart say that they were never emotionally affected by their environment whilst growing up? I really doubt it. Just because their issues might not necessarily be like yours now, trying to financially recover from a messy divorce or struggling to pay the University fees for your 18-year-old son, doesn’t mean they are not as emotionally devastating.

Finally, to draw attention to the statement of how Snowflakes are unable to deal with views which rival their own or how they talk about their feelings too much. I can answer this with just two words: Social Media. These days we have a wide range of platforms on which we can express our opinions. These opinions differentiate us as a race from more basic life forms and through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram etc, we can share them with the world and whoever else wants to listen. If you don’t want to hear what this generation have to say, then Unfollow them. Unsubscribe to them. Unfriend them. Log out of the Matrix, whatever you need to do to avoid these views which irk you so much. Just don’t for one second believe that you wouldn’t have been as opinionated so freely if social media was available to you when you were young.

If we must insist on using this term, then why not recognise that maybe we all as race come under this umbrella. We are all unique with different issues, feelings, opinions, values and emotional pain thresholds, regardless of our age.

So stop labelling them, cut them some slack and consider that we might all be Snowflakes.

Don’t Villainize the Good Guys

Let me set the scene. Today, my other half and I were happily walking round Trostre retail park in Llanelli, singing along in harmony to any Christmas music we could hear being played (apart from that annoying Christmas Wrapping song by The Waitresses, which seemed to follow us round from shop to shop)  – a standard Saturday afternoon for us. As a side note, I really wish shops in retail parks would talk to each other and devise a plan where they all play the same Christmas song at the same time so you don’t end up hearing your most hated song in Outfit, Next, River Island and Debenhams!

Walking past our favourite coffee shop, we overheard a father tell his little boy to behave otherwise the security guard who was walking behind them would ‘take him to jail.’ I mean, WHAT?! To make matters worse, the security guard overheard this silly threat and echoed the father’s statement! There is SO much wrong with this on SO many levels, it actually makes my blood boil just writing about it! The little boy looked about six years old – the exact age they say children are in a time of important social advances that establish their sense of identity. The bottom line? Six year olds are impressionable, so be careful what you are teaching them. In this case it was a father villainizing a person of authority to control his son’s bad behaviour.

I ask you this, what if that child was to lose sight of his father amongst the shopping frenzy and end up on his own, completely lost? I’d like to think he would have the sense to approach a security guard who could then get on the radio and organise reuniting him with his father, but I doubt this would happen. Why would he seek help from a man who would ‘punish him’ for behaving badly, getting lost and potentially ‘send him to jail with all the naughty people?’

policemanv2This is not the child’s fault, this is the parent’s. Do you want your child to approach the right people in a time of crisis? It’s the same with Police Officers. Too often have I overheard parents in the streets threatening their children with the Police Officer that just happens to be in sight. Children should be looking to them as good people who can help you if you need it – in simple terms, as the good guy, maybe even a hero. This mindset is hard to achieve however when they have the parent in their ear using them as a stick to beat them with.

Today’s incident was extra shocking however because the security guard laughed and agreed with the father. He villainized himself. I really hope that by some miracle he reads this blog, thinks about how that little meeting today has negatively influenced that poor little boy’s mind and thinks twice about what to say next time.

I am not a parent yet, nor do I claim to know everything about what parents should and shouldn’t teach their children, but surely this is something most can agree with? Let’s get things right first time and avoid the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that poor teachers will have to try and do in school to combat the negative attitudes towards these authority figures!

Parents, I implore you, DO NOT villainise the good guys!

Getting Ready to Rock the Jukebox!

In February 2016, I joined New Directions – a local theatrical society full of talented and welcoming people – and resumed my musical theatre life that I had only briefly flirted with back in my school days. Now, a year after playing Sherrie in Rock of Ages, I’m on my third show with them and loving every moment, not to mention the fact I’ve gained so much confidence in the process. That’s what you get though when you find ‘your people.’

Like most, I was quite different as a teenager. I would cry at any negative comment towards me and I’d be too shy to sing louder than to the front row. What if they think I’m terrible? – I’d ask myself every time I had to perform. It took getting into my 30s and many years of teaching and presenting to realise SO WHATI’d always be well prepared, I’d be practised and know my subject. SO WHAT if people disagreed? I felt good, and that’s how I feel now. I’m no Samantha Barks, I’m no Sierra Boggess, but I AM Stacey Harris and I will always bring my best self.

I’ve never told them, and probably never would to their faces (not out of pride but more not to embarrass them) but I should really thank my buddies in my company. Whether it’s helping me learn song lyrics I’m struggling to grasp, going over complex dance moves with me over and over, talking me out of my own head when I’m struggling with a solo or even just complimenting me on one of my belting high notes, they are there for me.

September 2017 saw us perform an Autumn revue show called Comedy, Disaster and Happily Ever After. I sang Your Daddy’s Son from the musical, Ragtime and faced my biggest acting challenge yet having to sing to a grave.

 

 

I also got to have my ‘Vengeful Jailbird’ moment singing and dancing the Cell Block Tango from Chicago – something to tick off my performance bucket list! I think the biggest highlight for me during the show was getting to duet with my other half, singing Suddenly Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors. I remember my old school performing that musical and I so wanted to be in it. I couldn’t compete with the stars there so contributed by quietly playing my flute in the band instead. I had watched the film over and over again, and not just because of my love for Rick Moranis in the 90s. The harmonies, the storyline, the characters, the everything… It all captured me, and to be given that moment nearly 20 years later – it’s a moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life. ❤️ Starring in that musical one day is certainly another on my performance bucket list!

 

 

Not sure how it’s gone so quickly, but a week tonight, our Winter revue show, Rock the Jukebox opens at Stiwdio Stepni in Llanelli for three nights and I cannot wait. The last two and a half months have been spent listening to Queen and Abba songs over and over, understanding how to twist and jive, learning to love disco (famously my least favourite music genre!) and living the dream performing Lady Marmalade as Christina Aguilera. There are so many great moments in this upcoming show and some fantastic solos from my ever so talented company.

 

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If anyone is interested in coming along to support us, you can get tickets for £10 from the website but hurry, they’re selling out fast! You can also follow us on Twitter @NewDirectionsTS  for updates.

All the Leaves are Brown…

I will be using this blog to share and talk about my favourite YouTube videos but before I do that, I thought I’d give my own YouTube channel some promotion. None of my homemade videos are my favourite on YouTube (well, apart from my Sierra Alpha Reunion Concert one but that’s by the by), however I am most proud of my California Dreaming’ Flute Solo video.

My other half and I perform this song as StatusTwo but before I managed to learn the solo, I searched everywhere for a good, simple video which showed me how to play it. Do you think I could find one? Hence me producing this little gem for anyone who wanted to learn the solo by ear.

So here it is, California Dreamin’ LilMissAshes style!

LilMissAshes Encore Une Fois

So here I am, once again, back blogging after nearly a year off. It wasn’t through lack of ideas or even nothing evoking my interest, far from it in fact – I just really wasn’t sure of which direction to go. Previously named ‘Point to Fine Leg’ following the title of my 2011 cricket eBook, this blog started it’s life aimed at women who might just want to get into cricket.

I am here to inform you all that this is my primary goal NO MORE. When I wrote my eBook, I aimed to MAKE CHANGE, and indeed some change was made. I was hearing of more and more women going to cricket grounds and enjoying the sport that I spent so long trying to polish for those with little or no interest. I participated in commentary for local cricket matches on BBC Wales and BBC London, I was interviewed on the BBC World Service, I engaged in many a radio debate, met so many powerful, talented and inspirational people and even got to ride in an Aston Martin along the way. The MacBook I am blogging on right now even gets kept in an official Sky Sports laptop case… it’s who you know! **wink wink**

One of my favourite outcomes of my efforts is a message I received from a supporter of my cause, who took the time to tell me about what happened when he recommended my eBook to a friend of his. After reading my book, she took up cricket herself and started following Nottinghamshire, watching both home and away matches. She then met someone at the cricket and is now currently in Australia with him for The Ashes series. Oh, and they’re engaged. Could I have asked for anything more? Even if no other person read my book, this influence is enough for me and I can sit back happily thinking,  Yes Stacey, you made change.

So where do I go from here? Well mine is a mind where a thousand thoughts a day do cross. Simply put, as the title of my new blog suggests, I plan on taking you on a journey through the clouds of my own imagination. I’m not famous enough for an autobiography, not posh enough for memoirs, but I can be immortalised on the internet in my blog. I don’t expect you to enjoy every post, I just hope you can relate to at least one.

Oh, and FYI, that’s me in the photo (circa 1985) probably lost in thought, much like right now.

A LilMissAshes Musical Venture: StatusTwo

With cricket and sport playing a massive part in my life over the past ten years, 2016 was an epic year of MUSIC for me. It began with a decision of mine to audition for a local Musical Theatre company, subsequently securing a lead role and starring in New Direction’s Theatrical Society’s ‘Rock of Ages’ in Y Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli in September 2016.

 

Having not performed in musical theatre since my teenage years, it was a massive step for me but nothing was going to stop me. Sometimes you just have to stop saying “I’ve always wanted to…” and start saying “I’m going to…”

 

 

Gaining more confidence, learning more about my own resilience and strength of character and most of all, meeting new friends was a massive part of why this journey was so special. I certainly recommend it to anyone who’s ever wondered what it would be like to be on stage.

 

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Something else that came out of my Musical Theatre journey, and he’ll probably be devastated that he did not get a blog of his own dedicated to him, was meeting my boyfriend Andrew. Andrew, the most talented musician I know with the most devastatingly spectacular piano skills, (yes I’m biased but ask anyone who’s met him!) was the Musical Director for the show and last year I had the privilege of getting to know him, and well, the rest is history.

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This led on to Andrew and I starting our band, StatusTwo.

 

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“An eclectic yet unique Welsh vocal and piano duo serving you up ambitious and complex covers and mash-ups, elegantly garnished with hypnotising style, uplifting harmonies and piano that seeps into your soul!”

Performances in the latter half of 2016 include local television appearances, radio shows, private parties, music festivals and providing entertainment during the Cardiff Half Marathon. Our repertoire includes music for all ages across genres such as pop, jazz, rock, easy-listening, musical theatre and covering artists including Queen, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Bruno Mars and Adele amongst many more.

Imagine doing a hobby with your best friend and soulmate? Seriously, this is what life is like right now, and I LOVE IT!

 

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Thought I’d take this opportunity to give us some publicity. Our performance diary is gradually filling up with festivals, cafe/bar performances and weddings but we welcome a lot more so please feel free to listen to our most recent recording, “Make You Feel My Love” by clicking on https://soundcloud.com/status-two-952030585 and send any enquiries to statustwomusic@gmail.com.

Check out our website for more details!