Wee Important Message

Hello everyone

My re-vamped website is now up and running here:

http://poetryandpandemonium.com/

This means that all the BlueBeretMum posts have moved too and I would love to see you there too.

Could you take two seconds and quickly subscribe again on the new website if you would like to find out what happened next?  Virtual bubbly is on me.

Thank you and see you all on the other side.

Love

Poetry & Pandemonium

BlueBeretMum is No More…

Sometime last week was my first bloggoversary.  Yay!

It all started with this post and…

in the last 12 months I  joined a book club, wrote my first book review here and, most importantly, I gradually slipped back into creative writing and writing poetry.  I also started drawing cartoons, just for fun, and published a book with motherhood inspired haikus.

And not to forget, I gained great readers and met some fantastic writers and poets – that would not have happened without my wee blog but…

BlueberetMum was initially meant to be a parenting blog, full of cute pictures and stories about raising Peanut.  It turns out it is not me and although I occasionally write about parenting, I have realised it is time to re-brand.   Having looked through my posts from the last few months I split them into two categories:

  • Poetry – no explanation needed
  • Pandemonium – everything else, mainly parenting cartoons and book reviews and whatever takes my fancy

So wave bye bye to BlueBeretMum and say hello to Poetry & Pandemonium.  I will be working on more updates in the next few weeks so watch this space.

And I hope you stay! Poetry and Cartoon Service resumes next week.

Happy Friday everyone!

x

Please Be Quiet

One of my absolute pet hates is small talk.  I will be honest with you – I completely and utterly suck at it and I used to spend hours planning what I was going to talk to my hairdresser about.  I was also probably the only person on this planet who found the perspective of having to go and have their hair cut equal to being given a life sentence for a crime they hadn’t committed.  That was until I found a hairdresser who despises small talk as much as I do and we either talk about ‘interesting stuff’ or I withdraw quietly into my headspace and she cuts my hair. Perfect.

It turns out that there is a reason why I loathe small talk, spent most of my childhood preferring to sit quietly and daydream instead of playing with lots of noisy and annoying kids and consider an evening with a book ‘socialising’.  I may be farther along the introvert spectrum than I thought, as Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain enlightens me.

After having filled in her Are you an introvert? checklist I find out that I am 60% introvert and about 40% extrovert (I answered a few questions with ‘it depends’ instead of a straight yes or no).  Almost an ambivert and to quote the writer: “yes, there really is such a word.”  This is why even though I like my quiet time and occasionally disappear into my ‘restorative niche’ I also occasionally crave the company of my fellow humans and enjoy presenting in front of groups of people  – I am more or less in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum.

A few aspects of the book are interesting and the author presents the data in a (mostly) very accessible and anecdotal style, like when she attends a variety of workshops and conferences that promise to turn their participants into amazing salesmen/talkers etc. as being an extrovert equals success, charisma and confidence.  And as it turns out in a lot of cases, the promise of a miraculous transformation comes with a hefty price tag.

In America, extroverted parents have been known to send their introverted children to psychiatrists and have them put on medication to have their introversion ‘treated’.  If socialising is an extreme sport at the Harvard Business School I would never even come close to an Olympic medal.

In fact, it is both fascinating and scary to realise how modern society has moved from the ‘Cult of Character’ to the ‘Cult of Personality’ and is structured around cultivating the characteristics associated with extroverts and their inconsequential small talk.  Most shockingly, we design school classrooms and workplaces to primarily conform to the extrovert ideal: open plan offices, brainstorming sessions, promoting Group-think and not much else.  I must say I liked Susan Cain’s suggestion to create offices that have open-plan bits for the extroverts and nooks and crannies where the quiet people can have their quiet time.

If Peanut has inherited the ‘introvert gene’ and tells me one day that he would rather read a book or draw or daydream instead of going to another birthday party (‘parents’ small talk hell’) then fine by me.  However, I also would like for him to try things out and take occasional risks (OK, then we may go to every second birthday party, I can cope with that and there is always the option of hiding with a book in the toilet)

In many ways Quiet is an important book.  It is timely, engaging and tells its readers (who I assume would be predominantly introverts) what empathic, modest and great thinkers they are; instead of nerdy, quirky, odd and shy losers.

However, it loses its appeal at times, especially during the chapters where she cites endless fMRI studies.  And it is a shame that ambiverts, or almost-ambiverts do not get much mention or in fact any at all.  There is a lot of talk of how introverts adapted to the extroverted world, but what about those of us who are in the middle (almost) of the spectrum?

Susan Cain here is an idea for a sequel.

Whether you are an introvert, extrovert or have the best of both worlds, you will most likely find this book interesting.

For now, I am off to start a quiet revolution.  Psst…

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Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of  Quiet and I received no other payment to write this review.  I really enjoyed this book and all opinions are my own.  I would not have it any other way.  You can find Quiet in your local bookshops and libraries. 

Creative Problem Solving – Part 4

And lastly, make an action plan, break it down into manageable chunks on your to-do list and go to your nearest corner shop to buy a scratch card (just in case you win and do not have to bother with real life and boring to-do lists anymore).  Bye for now – I am off to buy a scratch card…or 101.

ps4

Love is in the Air …

How the story ends…

A Busker’s Love Song

I

Pink-glazed clouds hoist frayed sails

over pilgrims, tourists, ghosts; they flock

around a busker as he folds his wings, frail

golden sheen and half the feathers lost

like his ragged repute.  Some idle thoughts

burst into mind and soul as he admires how

a lonesome painter’s brush slipped across

indigo canvass of the unsuspecting sky.

II

Half-torn  hat in his hand declares

whether to cry or commend this day.

White Lady struts through town and a fan

of yellowed papers saves the busker’s face.

A pirouette later she sweeps his dreams,

his breath, a kiss into drifts. His faith

in providence gives him daily strength

when his heart lies in the gutter.

III

He whistles when stifling day of May

and a bitter song cling by his side;

he follows starry signs and secretly prays

for the Underdog pub to show him the way

to ease this pain.  Behind a wall of noise

five jesters take shots of his rusty stubble.

A trumpet’s cry tears the air above all those

who gather around legend turned to rubble.

IV

A pack of jolly gods cheer as White Lady turns

towards our hero; her dress, his leg, her feet

his chest explodes with thousand fireworks

as his and hers, his and hers lips meet.

Ladies and gentlemen look at them how

they sing of pinkish clouds and the lush

lapis lazulis of the unsuspecting sky

coloured by a painter’s shaky brush.

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Prose for Thought

Creative Problem Solving Part 3

Come up with a bad metaphor for your problem – like this wall.  Then imagine banging your head against it until your imaginary bruise is the size of a watermelon.  This will distract you from having to think about the issue and you may even forget about it completely as a result of your self-inflicted imaginary amnesia. Next!

ps3

No Good News January

So here is my writing update for the last couple of weeks – linking with Stephanie and her Writing Warriors updates here.

  • my ego suffered terribly after a few rejections of my poems last month – I know … I know – this is the way life goes but it made me question my writing skills/talent..or face lack thereof. Anyway, I am back, writing and poeting and I am determined to learn from my rejections. Lesson number one – do not send out your work too soon. Hold off if you can and review, review, get a second opinion, forget about the poem for a few weeks and then cut, cut, cut and review again!
  • I have drafted another poem as a result of my writing prompts- this time a Culinary Poem – this is how it starts:

Lament Home, London 2010

For the mothers left behind with their backs curved,

new moons of boiled potatoes upturned.

For the empty plates, laid out in the usual place.

(it is still work in progress so I am not disclosing more ;-)

So dear readers, off to scribble some more verse and see you soon!

And the moral from this story is – yes, you will not always hear that you are the next Sylvia Plath/Ted Hughes but pick yourself up, write a poem about it (I did … it contains a lot of swearing – Sweary Poetry Therapy is very effective!) and move on.

For the love of poetry, keep writing!

Home is Where Hive is

5.45am
The day starts as usual, the alarm goes off too late, the Twins decide to eat cornflakes only if soaked in orange juice and Annie desperately tries to find one piece of clothing that does not have a banana smeared on it. The house feels freezing, the temperatures must have dropped overnight and Annie turns up the heating before she has to rescue Twin A from the recycling box.
6.45am
Twin A is trapped strapped in the car seat, Twin B is chasing the cat. The cat jumps up onto the roof of the car, Twin B throws himself on the ground and Annie swiftly shoves him into the car. Now that both twins are wailing and the cat has walked away, tail up high, with smug expression on its face, Annie wishes for a moment she could swap lives with the family feline and she starts the engine. ‘Mummy, I hate you.’
9.01am
With the Twins delivered to nursery, banana wiped off her skirt and the traffic moving an inch per hour, Annie turns down the heating in the car and slaps her forehead. Not again! She forgot to switch the heating off at home. Again! Now the cat will enjoy a day in the tropics. Annie imagines a polar bear pointing at a crumbling iceberg and growling to its cubs, ‘It’s all her fault.’, then she thinks about her energy bills for the last quarter and starts wailing herself.
9.33am
Red in the face and only slightly out of breath Annie settles behind her desk. The to-do-list for today is 10 miles long and she still feels bad about forgetting the heating. The homeless polar bears. And not brushing the Twins’ teeth. Nor her own for that matter.
10am
Eureka! Annie checks her phone and remembers that yesterday a friendly engineer installed the Hive. It took about an hour to set everything up and now she can control her heating and hot water from her phone. It still takes some getting used to and remembering so she quickly adjusts the temperature on the phone and starts ticking off her tasks for the day.
9pm
With the Twins in bed and the other half ordering pizzas, Annie relaxes in a bubble bath. It feels amazing to come to a cosy home and have the hot water ready for the Twins’ daily soak. No more stomping around the arctic rooms and waiting forever for the rooms to warm up. No more rocketing bills. All thanks to Hive.
The End
P.S. Now she only needs an efficient control system for her memory… but that is a completely different story.

The useful stuff:

  • total cost of Hive Active Heating™ is £199
  • you get a state of the art wireless thermostat, receiver and hub
  • you can enjoy a free app and online dashboard to remotely control your heating and hot water via phone, tablet and laptop
  • all installed by a British Gas engineer (installation is worth £80)
  • no need to switch the energy supplier as it works work with your existing heating system = no hassle
  • no more heating an empty house could save you up to £150 a year on energy bills
  • it comes with a nifty Frost Protection feature that automatically activates when the temperature dips below 5°C so it helps protect your pipes from freezing
  • it is good for the environment, polar bears,  your energy bills and bees
    bee

A wee note… I received payment for writing about Hive, however, I think that it is a great invention.