Be the Light in Someone’s Dark

In the words of a wise, old man:

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This is one of my favourite movie quotes because it is something I’ve always believed in. In a world full of questionable decisions made by even more questionable leaders, we need to do what good we can whenever we are able to – how else can we keep faith in humanity?

Last Friday’s staff meeting was a special one for me because it focussed on just this. A rather inspiring chap called Matt Callanan came in for a chat. My description of what he is about would not do his work as much justice as is deserved, so here is a little screen shot from his organisation’s website, www.wemakegoodhappen.com

 

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Inspired by his story and all the good Matt and his team have done so far, we split into groups and roamed the streets of Cardiff, each group equipped with a £10 note from Management. This idea came from Matt’s #tenner4good initiative which saw him hiding £10 notes round Cardiff in the hope of inspiring those who found one to spend it on someone in need.

My colleagues and I decided to take ourselves out of our comfort zones and take a carol-singing approach, right outside the Apple store in the busy St. David’s Two Shopping Centre, Cardiff – an idea which horrified the three of us but when challenged to think of others, it’s surprising how quickly inhibitions get lost. My colleague’s father is a Director of a charity in Pontypridd that is struggling with funding, which will have a massive affect on its service users. Viva! began in the early nineties, providing leisure and training opportunities to children and young people between the ages of 11-30 with and without a disability. Working for a youth charity myself, hearing my colleagues story about what could happen if it all stopped really affected me, so we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to raise some awareness of such a great charity and the need for more funding.

With our £10, we bought some pens and paper for posters to display what we were doing. We also bought lots of Christmas chocolates to give out to the public while singing along to any Christmas Carol karaoke videos we could find on YouTube. It was a massive gamble for us because although the footfall in the shopping centre was huge, you could see that with only ten days until Christmas, shoppers probably wouldn’t want to know.

 

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After an hour of spreading festive cheer and talking to strangers about our concerns for Viva!, my faith in humanity was strengthened. Busy shoppers took the time to stop, listen and give to the cause. From the happy-go-lucky businessman who gave £5, to the Cancer Charity elderly driver who gave £3 and to the gorgeous little girl in the penguin Christmas jumper who gave 13p, we thank you all. Our #tenner4good had quickly turned  from £10.00 into £56.45. Of course this isn’t enough money to save a charity, but it sure is a start. I returned home that night with an enormous sense of wellbeing – my team and I had done a good deed with a single tenner.

I’m writing this blog, not for praise for what was achieved, but to plant the seed in your mind that you too can really help someone – and you don’t even have to be rich to do it! We Make Good Happen is aiming to collectively achieve 1 million good deeds – why not be a part of it?

With 2018 looming, and a brand new year just around the corner, I, Stacey Louise Harris am going to make a conscious effort to do more good deeds for others. There are so many benefits to this attitude I implore you to try the same. ‘Good deeds’ or ‘acts of kindness’ can improve confidence, control, optimism and overall happiness. You never know, they can even encourage others to repeat the kindness that’s been bestowed upon them.

 

The World Mental Health Foundation says, “When you help others, it promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness.” it also says, “Helping others in need, especially those who are less fortunate than yourself, can provide a real sense of perspective and make you realise how lucky you are, enabling you to stop focusing on what you feel you are missing – helping you to achieve a more positive outlook on the things that may be causing you stress.” Working for a youth charity and helping youngsters overcome barriers every day, I can already promise you that this completely true – you really are reminded how truly blessed you are.

So whether it’s short-term like paying for the shopping of the person in front of you or giving up a seat for an elderly lady on a bus, or long-term like volunteering for a charity or mentoring a person in need, give it a shot and be the light in someone’s dark.

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!

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.

Top 10 Worst Song Lyrics

I love a good top 10 list – I do them often with my friends. I’m probably the female-equivalent of John Cusack in High Fidelity. I recall a three-hour trip to London with my friend Jade and the entire 180 minutes was spent making top 10 lists. Top 10 people I’d like to be at my ‘end of the world’ dinner party… Top 10 people I’d like to reverse over in my car. you know, the usual!

This list however, did not come to me like the others.

As you know from reading my blog, I love singing with my guitar. I also did a Welsh and Music degree 12 years ago. Combine these two facts together and you’d think I’d like writing my own songs to sing. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I can come up with funky little hooks and melodies all day long but asking me to write song lyrics is like asking J.K. Rowling to write a rap song. It’s not where our powers lie – I’m all about the long game. Over the years I’ve loved writing stories and novels but my poetry skills are somewhat lacking. Don’t get me wrong, I can rhyme with the best of them but great song lyrics aren’t about rhyme as you know. They’re about meaning, sound, flow and how they fit in with the melody. Easy-listening for the ear and all that jazz…

Lately however, I’ve started to re-evaluate my lyric-writing. Mainly due to the fact that I’ve heard so many songs where it sounds like the writers have just typed phrases onto their iPhones and autocorrect has had a field day! This then got me thinking, what are the “Top 10 Worst Song Lyrics in the World?” It’s a question I’ve tackled in this blog. Let me know if you agree/disagree or have some new ones to add. It’s worth noting too that this ‘Top 10 Worst Song Lyrics’ is not original in the slightest – there are thousands of blogs about this subject on the net, but the list of songs is very definitely my own. I’ve tried not too be too obvious and have avoided the easily-targeted ‘gimmicky songs’ (think ‘I’ve got a Brand New Combine Harvester) – these aren’t included in my list for reasons of fairness. FYI Katy Perry, you should be grateful you’re not in this list!

 

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Image courtesy of http://www.moviepilot.com

 

10. “Human” – The Killers – These guys start the countdown at ten. They’re a great band with some fantastic lyrics and annoyingly awesome songs but I have to say, I despise this song as much as I despise spiders. Brandon Flowers is on his knees trying to find out if we are human (which we are) or ‘dancer.’ That’s all I’m saying about this as I’m getting riled up just typing about it!

“Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?”

9. “Happy” – Pharrell Williams – OK, I LOVE this song so I feel slightly guilty about including it in my list but the first line of the chorus just cannot be forgiven. Sorry Pharrell!

“Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.”

8. “A Neverending Dream” – Cascada – Yes, Cascada is a bit of Europoppy fun and yes, they’re a band that we all loved to dance to about ten years ago but any song that overuses the words YouToo and Do for the sake of rhyme deserves to be struck off the ‘acceptable cheesy pop list!’ I have never wanted to evacuate the dance floor faster. Exhibit A:

“A neverending dream a dream of you, I believe I received a sign of you,tonight I want to hide my feelings too, as you do and I want to be with you.”

 

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Image courtesy of http://www.metrolyrics.com

 

7.  “Buck Rogers” – Feeder – I loved this song growing up. I remember giving it a lot of air time on my school radio station (back in my DJ-ing days – bet you never knew I did that!) and everybody loved it. Back then at age 17, I never thought about the words and what they meant, I just loved screaming it out in the DJ booth in the School Technology block. Years  later though I can’t help looking back and wondering if Devonians actually drink cider from lemons…

“We’ll start over again, grow ourselves new skin, get a house in Devon, drink cider from a lemon (lemon, lemon, lemon…)”

6. “Town Called Ugley” – Ward Thomas – This is a song I’m loathed to put in as it’s actually ridiculously catchy and hilarious to sing in the car whilst pretending you’re driving through a little town in America with your best girl-mate, Thelma. That and the fact I actually like Ward Thomas. That being said, there are are a couple of lines in this song that are just unforgivable and shoots it straight in at number six on my list.

Swerved more than a couple times for a black alpaca, delayed in every kind of way so time was a factor, only made worse by a broken down tractor…”

5. “Whenever, Wherever”/“SheWolf”– Shakira – I’ve loved singing along and dancing to the lovely Shakira since her intriguing voice and weird ‘bendiness’ burst onto the scene in 2001, but whether it’s bad translation or what, some lyrics one just can’t forgive. I’ve cheekily slotted in two separate Shakira songs here (think of it as 5a and 5b if you will).

“Lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don’t confuse them with mountains.” – Whenever, Wherever

“Starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office.” – SheWolf

 

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Image courtesy of http://www.vevo.com

 

4. “MacArthur Park – Donna Summer – Singing about a cake left out in the rain? I once left a tube of half-eaten Pringles in my car boot for two years. Not really inclined to write a song about it though!

“MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!”

3. “Annie I’m Not Your daddy – Kid Creole and the Coconuts – I love the start of this song because it mentions my favourite place in the world, St. Tropez. However the song quickly goes downhill – talk about harsh!

“Oh Annie, I’m not your daddy
Mama’s baby’s, papa’s baby
See if I was in your blood
Then you wouldn’t be so ugly.”

2. “Every Picture Tells a Story” – Rod Stewart – This song came out 12 years before I was born and the seventies wasn’t really famous for being politically correct, however that’s no excuse for these lyrics. Epic fail Rod, epic fail.

“On the Peking ferry I was feeling merry
sailing on my way back here
I fell in love with a slit eyed lady
by the light of an eastern moon
Shangai Lil never used the pill
She claimed that it just ain’t natural
She took me up on deck and bit my neck
Oh people I was glad I found her
Oh yeah I was glad I found her”

  1. “Life” – Des’ree – Surely you guessed this song would feature in this list? This song sparked a 20-minute rant from my friend Layla and I. There are possibly too many lyrics in this song which annoy me for me to list here so perhaps I’ll stick to the first two verses and the chorus.

“I’m afraid of the dark
Especially when I’m in a park
And there’s no one else around
Ooh, I get the shivers

I don’t want to see a ghost
It’s a sight that I fear most
I’d rather have a piece of toast
And watch the evening news

Life, oh life, oh life, oh life
Doo, doo doo doo
Life, oh life, oh life, oh life
Doo, doo doo doo”

 

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Image courtesy of http://www.youtube.com

 

After thinking long and hard about this list, It’s made me realise that I shouldn’t be so nervous about writing lyrics and being judged by others. Surely there is NO WAY on this Earth I can outdo these ten beauts?

Right, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

 

 

Zombies Stop Play Pt 8

Friday, 13th June 2014


19:30, Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

“Mate, what the hell is that?!” Asked Sammy, looking rather unnerved.

“I’m really am sorry mate, you’re gonna turn. You’re gonna become… one of them!” Answered Jackson, already filled with regret from what he was doing. Beads of sweat started to pour down Sammy’s head as he faced the person that was ready to end his life with a flick of a finger.

“I don’t understand, how can you even know that? I feel fine!”

“He was in the toilet when you told everyone about the blue-eye rule, Jackson. He doesn’t know. Maybe you were wrong?” Suggested Mossy, putting his hand on the gun barrel and attempting to lower it. Jackson was too strong for Mossy, and the gun didn’t budge. It was still aimed directly between the Aussie’s bright blue eyes. The rest of the team didn’t quite know what to say or what to do. They trusted Jackson, with their lives, and weren’t about to argue with him over something he seemed to know more about than they did.

“Sammy, close your eyes.” Said Jackson quietly. Sammy quickly reached for his bat and picked it up. He looked ready to attack Jackson.

“I’m not gonna let you do this!” Shouted Mossy next to him. “If he turns, then fine, paint the walls with his baggy green brains but until then, I can’t let you pull that trigger!”

“Don’t you see?” Shouted Jackson back at his best friend, turning his head to look at him. “I’m doing this for us. If he turns, he’ll kill us. I shoot him now and we have a chance!” In that moment, Sammy swung his bat hard at the gun. The shock made Jackson pull the trigger, and the bullet flew straight through Mossy’s shoulder. Jackson dropped the gun as Mossy fell to the floor, pushing down on the wound tightly with his hand.

“Shit Moss I’m so sorry!” Jackson pulled his T-shirt off and wrapped it round the wound, tying it hard to control the bleeding. The wound was deep but thankfully not fatal. Bridgey picked up the gun in anger.

“From now on, I’m the only one who uses this gun!” Jackson felt awful. Considering the current, apparent apocalypse and the fact that his best friend had just shot him in his batting shoulder, Mossy was in reasonably good spirits.

“I guess I really am like Inspector Riggs in Lethal Weapon now, eh Jacks?” Jackson smiled. Before he could respond however, Sammy’s ‘change’ had already begun. He doubled over in searing pain with one hand holding him up and the other hand tightly gripping his hair.

“Jacks, I think we’ve got a problem, boi!” Shouted Obvious-Lee, pointing at Sammy who was now kneeling silently, staring at the floor.

“Has he changed?” Asked Milo. Picking up a cricket ball from the bench behind him. Sammy slowly lifted his head, with glowing red eyes staring straight at Jackson.

“Nevermind!” Screamed Milo, launching the ball at Sammy’s head. Unfortunately, the ball flew straight past him into the wall behind.

“You never could hit the stumps!” Shouted an injured Mossy from the floor. Sammy leapt up from the floor, and pounced at Jackson. Jackson gripped his neck as tightly as he could so he wouldn’t be able to bite. Sammy was strong however, in his new, undead form and his head got closer and closer to Jackson’s neck. Milo realised that he now needed to step up for his brother. He picked up his bat and took the biggest swing at Sammy’s shoulders, sending him flying out of Jackson’s grip and into the changing room door.

“Shoot hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim!” Yelled Jackson, backing away on all fours.” In that moment, Bridgey lifted his gun and shot a bullet straight between Sammy’s eyes, killing whatever he had become.

The group sat silently, staring at their former team mate. The scene flashing through their minds as if they were watching a replay. Jackson decided that the silence needed to be broken.

“That’s it, I’m getting out of here!”

Zombies Stop Play Pt 7

Friday, 13th June 2014

19:00, Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

“Who the hell is that?” Asked Milo?
“I think it’s the coach!” Answered Westie. “He left to do a quick interview and never came back.” The boys looked at each other, unsure about what to do. Coach Hagman had coached Essex for 7 years and was popular with his team. “We can’t leave him out there. O’Toole, let him in!”

Jackson snatched the gun from Bridgey’s hand and fired a shot through the wall next to the door just as O’Toole was about to open it, stopping him in his tracks. Westie grabbed the gun off Jackson and threw it to the floor in anger.

“What the hell are you doing?!!” Yelled Westie. Jackson pushed Westie against the wall.
“I’m saving our lives!”
“That’s our Coach out there!” Replied Westie, pushing Jackson back whilst trying not to fall off his crutches. Mossy and Milo quickly intervened and pulled the boys apart. Even in what looked like to be the onset of the end of the world, the rivals were still fighting.

“Quick! Open the bloody door!” Coach Hagman’s deep, loud Northern English voice was so loud it filled the changing room. O’Toole ignored the fighting and opened the door. Coach Hagman slipped through, slamming and locking it behind him. Before he could say anything, loud groans and angry cries followed by bangs on the door echoed around the room. Jackson ran over to the Coach, pinning him against the wall.

“What are you doing, lad?!” Coach Hagman tried to brush Jackson’s hands off but he was too strong. There was a reason this guy has a T20 strike rate of 240.00. Jackson looked into the Coach’s deep brown, saucer-like eyes.

“I’m checking to see if you’re gonna turn. Red eyes mean you’re one of them and blue eyes mean that you’ve gonna become one.” Jackson took his hands off the coach and walked back towards the balcony. “We need to all go back into our changing room and lock the balcony doors. Those guys outside know we’re in here but I’m pretty sure they think the home changing rooms are empty.”

“You want us all to barricade ourselves in?” Asked Westie.
“No, just some of us.” The boys looked nervously at each other.
“What do you mean, Jackson?” Asked Milo, putting his hand on his brother’s shoulder.
“There are people out there.” Said Jackson quietly. “People who need our help. They’ve come here for an evening with family and friends to support us. I can’t stand by while they get eaten by those things. We have weapons here – a shotgun, loads of bats… it’s time to do what’s right. But first, we reconvene next door.”

The boys followed Jackson to the home changing room and were greeted by a nervous Obvious-Lee.
“So what’s the story boys? We got company or wha?”
Jackson spent the next 20 minutes updating his team mates on what had happened on the balcony and in the Essex changing room. He then asked or volunteers to go with him to save who they could, but they were not as forthcoming as he thought they’d be.

“I like, literally can’t believe what you’re asking Jacks!” Shouted Lee, who hadn’t put his bat down for 3 hours. “While you were next door with Ant and Dec by ‘ere, we were watching people’s ‘eads getting ripped of their shoulders mun! Essex boys running round the crease like they were making a bloody Thriller video! We do NOT wanna go out there!” The boys, including the remaining three from the Essex camp all agreed with Lee. All except Mossy.

“I actually can’t believe you guys. You want to just hide up here until it all goes away?” Asked Mossy, striding round the room. “Haven’t you seen Zombie movies? We don’t win. Humans never win. We’re not going to get rescued if we stay here. If we’re lucky they’ll destroy the place, taking us with it. Don’t you at least want to try while we’ve still got a chance?”

Sam Kingston, Glamorgan’s oversees Australian quick strolled out of the toilet during Mossy’s speech. Jackson stared him down, realising he was the only one left in the room who’s eyes he hadn’t checked. As he sat down on the bench, his team mates caught sight of his face and slowly moved further down the benches.

“What have I missed?” Asked Sammy innocently. Jackson, this time slowly and politely, took Bridgey’s shotgun out of his hands and aimed it at his bowler who look confused and terrified down the barrel of the gun.

“I’m sorry Sammy, I’m so sorry…”