This crazy thing called life…

Wow, the last week has been way more crazy than I could have imagined and I can’t remember the last time I felt so stressed! I’m not one for complaining and don’t want this post to just be a moaning 23 year old but I have to be realistic!

Since losing my dog, I’ve been focusing hard on keeping busy, positive things such as my little sisters newly decorated bedroom and stepdads huge birthday cake have come from this. Whilst I have also become a god mother to two beautiful little boys, Alex and Harry. Yep, two of my friends had babies this week! I have also attended a conference about artist resideny programmes and civil engagement. So I can’t complain about that, there have been some positives. 

Meanwhile in the land of crazy, which I am now sure I belong to…. Things have been kind of awful! 

To start the week, one of my closest friends was rushed back to hospital less than 48 hours after delivering her baby boy. It turns out that she has a serious infection from her c-section birth which has left her apart from her newborn, her other two children and her hugs nab and even worse, left her fighting for her life. As you can imagine I’ve spent a lot of time in hospital visiting and am very hopeful that she is recovering and will soon be fully fit and well again. I can’t imagine how difficult it has all been for her or her husband but I have tried my best to be there as much as possible. It has really got me thinking about the fragilness of life.

As the week went on I was getting less and less sleep… 3-4 hours a night and not wanting to eat, stress and I don’t get along. 

Further problems have arisen through my twin sister as her current care staff are currently removing her human rights and in effect neglecting and abusing her… She lives five hours away so my family and I have spent the last 48 hours searching, speaking advice, contacting managers and even ended up calling the police. Hopefully this problem will soon be resolved but in the meantime the worry doesn’t fade from my mind. But I’m keeping it together because we’re going through this as family and we all need to keep each other strong. 

Ok, venting over! I will keep you all up to date with both above worries and really apologise for my lack in posts recently… My laptop is also being repaired my blog access is limited!

To end on a positive note as I hate to end things really sadly… I have spent the evening honoured to watch the very first showing of Signs of Silence by RM Moses, a short film I had the pleasure of working on… The official premiere is on the 13th October in London and I cannot wait!

-L

In memory of a bumble bee/Shih-Tzu…

Well so far this week has been tough! On Tuesday at four pm we had to have one of our dogs put to sleep. Man it sucks. We had three… Two Shih-Tzus and a Jack Russel cross, we now have one Shih-Tzu and a Jack Russel cross.

Named after the Ewoks in Star Wars (An uncanny resemblance!) Logray came into our home and became part of our family over twelve years ago alongside his brother, Wicket (Also and Ewok). I remember well the day they arrived, Wicket excitedly ran around playing with my little sister and Logray took a brief look around before settling on my lap… A habit he perfected over the years. For the past month or so he’s been gradually getting sicker, baffling the vets and us! Last week he had a day of tests and the result wasn’t good. “Cancer” “Aggressive” “Progressed” “No cure”. Not words we wanted to hear. No wonder he’d very suddenly gotten so sick. He had medication to stop him throwing up, but he still wasn’t himself… Laying in bed all day, not wanting walkies, not wanting food, barely going to the toilet and being very selective with his cuddles. We had to make a decision, watch him get worse, watch him in pain but have him with us for longer or have him put to sleep. As a family this was difficult but we knew what the right thing for him was. So Monday evening we took him out, with his brother and our other dog Henry. We drove in our campervan to a reservoir where as children we used to run around like wild animals with our dogs. We gave Logray extra cuddles, he just about managed the walk, then on Tuesday evening my mum and I went with him to the vets.

I have to say our vet is amazing, he was kind, calm and made sure we were ok. He took our boy off to inset a cannula, brought him back to us where he lay his head in my hands (as he always did) and cuddled up to my mum, then the vet inserted the medicine to let him sleep. It was quick and peaceful. 

We have lost pets before. Firstly in the family home we have (now) two dogs and two turtles. Earlier this year our cat of sixteen years passed away, prior to that we had a Bull Mastif, a rabbit, three Guinea Pigs, three hamsters… So yeah we’ve had to deal with the loss of a pet previously. This time however for me anyway it’s different.

Ok, fair enough thus dog was like my baby, he liked to be carried, fussed, cuddled and talked to, plus I kind of spoiled him because he was just so cute! When ever I’ve been away and come back (whether it’s been a matter of hours or months) he would run up to me, super excited like he wanted to know everything. I talked to him about everything, haha he probably knew more about me than my mum did! So it’s hard. I’m struggling to be around our other dogs without welling up and I can’t even be in the same room as the dog bed! I’ve busied myself with a new project (despite the million I have going on as it is!) so hopefully in time I’ll be happier thinking of his memory, not just devastated. 

My little sister can’t remember a time before we had our Shih-Tzus, she was only a toddler when they joined the family, she’s being so brave, I’m so proud because I know like the rest of us she misses him terribly. My parents are doing really well too, also busying themselves- I wonder where I get that habit?! 

No, before you judge me, I am not a crazy animal person, don’t get me wrong I love my pets, but I’m not your typical animal obsessed girl. I guess, dogs are almost like therapy, I can’t even remember the amount of stuff Logray knew about me… Although I’m sure he didn’t understand any of it, his sympathy was great haha! So I guess today’s blog post is my way of getting my feelings down and out, my own little bit of self therapy. But yeah, I miss my bumble bee boy! 

On a much much much much happier note, yesterday was my brothers 30th birthday and also the day my godson was born! Welcome to the world beautiful baby (Yet to be named!). I also have another friend who is due to have her son any day! The circle of life is a strange thing, Meanwhile this week I’m working on my teenage sisters new bedroom… I really do love being an artist!! I can’t wait to reveal it soon!

(I’ll add a photo to this post as soon as I am on my laptop… Apparently the updated iPad app doesn’t like loading photos? Any tips let me know please!)

-L
  

I’m back…

I have been away from my blog for a bit too long! I apologise to my followers and anyone who’s had a peak at this site in the last month for not being around! The thing is, I’ve been super busy… Travelling around Japan with my lovely twinny, finally catching up with my brother, holidaying in Devon with family and travelling around the country visiting friends. You can imagine my limited internet access and limited blogging time! But I’m back now and I have to say I’ve missed blogging!
This summer has been amazing, incredible, memorable, heartbreaking, frustrating and just beautiful all at the same time. Now I am back, heading full speed ahead back into reality.
Tonight’s post however isn’t about my travels, although I will share those memories soon. Tonight’s post is about the current crisis, refugees. #welcomerefugees is a campaign that is taking over social media, a way of us of us individuals to express our concern, respect and warmth to the refugees who have been fleeing Syria and other areas of the world, in a desperate plight for help, for food, security, clothing and roof over their heads. I simply see it as believing in humanity. We are all the same.
This hashtag has been storming the internet along with several government petitions (here in the UK) in the hopes that our prime minister will take action. Several days ago the photo of a three year old Syrian refugee’s body- that had washed ashore in Turkey, took over the news. This little boy could have been saved, but he is not the only person recently found in the same way. Please tell me how anyone can stand by and do nothing? Do so little?
Of course the starts of the problems are deep rooted, from civil war, drought and religious conflict non of these problems can be fixed over night, but over night we could save thousands of people. I am sure that I am not the only one who feels uncomfortable watching the news, dead bodies, people living in squalor in France, people walking miles, people drowning at sea, people being smuggled… The list goes on. How is the our response to do nothing, or so little? We all need to speak out, we all need to support humanity, support these people who desperately need our help. My fellow artist friend and her daughter appeared on the ITV news a few nights ago, our photos for #refugeeswelcome had been scouted. We know it’s not a huge way to change anything, but we care and we will raise awareness. 
Our government is scared we will spark more violence, more war, we’ve been made aware by the media that the Islamic State now occupies parts of Syria, I can see why we are being careful, but seriously, people are dying! People that we could easily save. People who one day not so long ago were just like you and I. So I say welcome them, we should have open arms. These people are not illegal immigrants, they are refugees, seeking safety, we have an obligation as human kind to help. So many people are talking about, colour, religion, race, country… When did we forget that we are all the same, living on the same planet… Or looking at our existence history, did we ever realise it? What we need now is both short and long term solutions for these people.
I’m sure this is an issue close to many people, sharing the same or contradictory opinions. All I ask tonight is that we believe in humanity. 
Humanity:

 1. Human beings collectively 

 2. The quality of being humane;benevolence 
Benevolence: the quality of being well meaning; kindness

-L

Independence… 

Independence is an incredible thing. I have been lucky enough to seen the last few days with my twinny in her home environment. She lives in supported accommodation with two other amazing deaf-blind people. 

At first she was worried about me coming to stay, worried that if she admitted that she’d missed me or was happy to see me, maybe I’d turn around and take her home with me, take her away from her new independent life. Of course I’d love to spend every second of every day with her, but this is her world now and after fighting all our lives for her independence there is absolutely no way I would ever dream of taking it away from her… And if any one did, well they’d have me to answer to! 

I’ve watched her working with a variety of different people in the support team she has here, every one of them unique. Watching Caroline interact with them, cook food with them, make coffee and tea and just live her life is lovely to watch. All be it slightly heart wrenching seeing someone else do the things my mum and I used to do for her, but great seeing her embrace her freedom and independence. 

We stayed up last night gossiping in bed and did the same tonight. Perfection. This morning we started our day with breakfast and facetiming our little friend and my goddaughter who is three years old today. Then we got ready and facetimed our mum and little sister. Next we went out for coffee and cake with her housemates, then we went to her physio appointment and then came home for lunch. We spent the afternoon packing for our adventure, making sure we have everything ready- we need to pick up a few bits tomorrow but apart from that we are ready to go! As the day progressed the excitement was catching! 

Our evening was spent chatting with housemates, Caroline had her nails painted whilst I gossiped with everyone. We then facetimed a very good friend and her little boy. All in all a pretty fun day! We ended the night with a hot chocolate and a good chat in bed! Twinny is now snoring away while I write this! 

Two more sleeps and we will be heading for the airport! 
-L

Script translator…

I spent my evening yesterday back in London working… I’ve recently been working on an independent film with an awesome guy called R.M. Moses, he writes, produces and directs and his work is amazing. If you get chance to check his stuff out do it! http://blametheconsumer.com/.

An old friend from high school introduced us a few months ago as he was looking for a British sign language translator for one of his new films ‘Signs of Silence’ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4507366/. I went and met with him in East London and was given the script, my job was to translate the spoken parts into sign language for his actors who are hearing. A pretty cool opportunity for me and a very decor spect to be part of.

A few weeks later I met with him again and two of the actors including the main character. This was my opportunity to teach them a bit of sign language. Also on this day I was filmed signing all the spoken parts- which would later be sent on to each actor in order for them to learn their parts efficiently before we began filming.

Unfortunately the following week I had to leave my home in London and return to Staffordshire, causing a bit of chaos in the process! For the filming of course this posed a problem, stay in London for the week (but without any money) or travel down to London for the main shoot- focusing on the signing parts whilst on the other shoot days the sign language was minimal so I could just about get away with not being there. I discussed this with R.M. Moses and we chose the latter.

Yesterday was the first day of filming and I was able to be there. Such an incredibly humbling experience to meet the rest of the team and be part of something this great. I will even be making a small cameo appearance in the film! We met the team at the shooting venue and the actors had a run through to perfect their signs, after that it was all go!

Once they’d captured the main signing scenes I had to dash off to catch my train back. I have to say I’m gutted that I can’t be there for the rest of the shoots, but I will there via Skype and on-call if I’m needed. I am very grateful to everyone involved for the opportunity and super happy to be a part of it. This film along with two others by R.M. Moses will premier in London this October.

I will endeavour to keep you all up to date with this amazing project in the near future! But for right now, I have packing to do!

-L

The best part…

In six days time I’ll be on a flight with my twinny and this time next week We’ll be in Japan. Unbelievable. I’m still in shock from the day we decided to go and really don’t know how I’ll react on flight day!

Today I’m back in London working on the film I’m part of… I’ll reveal the details soon don’t worry! I travel back to Staffordshire soon (sat in Euston station at the moment!). Tomorrow I’ll start to pack and make sure I’m not missing anything, tomorrow night I’ll be spending the evening hopefully sat around a fire with some good friends then Wednesday I’ll be finishing my packing and enjoying some family time. Thursday I’ll be travelling down to my twinny in Exeter to spend a few days preparing for our long journey and brilliant adventures. So you could say I have a busy week ahead!

It’s a strange feeling, and will be a great challenge for me and Caroline. For the first four days of our adventure we will be in Tokyo staying at what looks like an incredibly beautiful 5 star hotel (something neither of us have done before). We’ll be exploring the city, visiting museums, parks and shops. Taking boat trips and enjoying spas. All of these things will of course have to be very sensory and interactive… Why? Because my twinny is deaf-blind.

On the fourth day we will be travelling to Mt Fuji on the way to our brother who lives in Nagoya. However… Twinny doesn’t yet know I have a surprise for her, our brother will be meeting us at Shin-Fuji station! So with the beautiful backdrop of the volcano and Japanese summer countryside we get our brother back. It’s been almost four years since we last saw him and that was only for a couple of days. This time we get ten days with him!

He has lived in Japan for almost six years now, he started off travelling, began teaching English in the countryside and ended up living in Osaka, he then moved to Nagoya with his beautiful Japanese girlfriend, where they both now reside and he works at a university. We will get to spend time catching up and experiencing his new life. We can’t wait.

We booked our flights over two months ago now and the time has flown by. I have had a lot of personal battles recently so this trip has come round at a perfect time, at a stage in my life where I am thinking about my future and making those sorts of decisions. But more than that, me and my twinny get to spend some quality time together and do something we never deemed possible: travel to the other side of the world together and explore.

4Growing up I battled with my sisters disabilities; I battled with my own thoughts and feelings relating to them also. Dreamed of the day we could go away together, the firsts, the missing ‘normality’ well honestly, now at 23 years old I love the craziness of our lives, I love the differences in people and I love the challenges we face together with my twinny. Now we get to celebrate everything we’ve gone through, remember the bad times, celebrate the good and continue enjoying our lives together.

We don’t know what the future has in store for either of us or where we may end up so for right now the chance to go away together is incredible and a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us although hopefully the start of many more. The best part? We get to be with our brother again. Bring it on!

-L

People say the stupidest things…

This past week I was able to spend some time with a group of parents (Including my mum) who have a child or children with varying disabilities from ASD to Cerebral Palsy. They were rehearsing for a play that they will put on professionals working in the disability fields, later this year. I was honored to be asked to join them.

So I spent a while watching their production take shape, enjoying the shared stories and mutual respect and understanding that filled the room. Some of the mum’s had very big personalities and others sat quietly taking it all in. I was asked to fill-in for someone who had been unable to attend. This was pretty funny!

As we turned the script to the next part of the production a shiver of anger ran through me, the next section was all about the stupid things people say when they see you have a disabled child- or in my case disabled sibling. Of course on a daily basis we don’t tend to use the word ‘disabled’ because Caroline is just my sister, there’s nothing unusual or different about her from my point of view, she is who she is. But when faced with the public, or family members who just don’t get it, it can be a very frustrating and often upsetting experience that over time we learn to block out, but those words still hurt.

I’ll be honest,  lot of what was said is scarily ‘normal’ to me, bare in mind I was bullied at High School due to my sisters disabilities. People on the street say things, shopping with my sister is hilarious when people ask if she’s my mum!! A lot of frequently heard phrases among st the group were:

  • Are you sure they’re twins?
  • Isn’t it a shame?
  • God-bless their poor soul.
  • I don’t know how you cope!
  • He/she doesn’t look as I’d expect.

However some of the more hurtful things said were:

  • Why do we all have ‘normal’ children and you get… ?
  • Is it something you did? (During pregnancy)
  • Wouldn’t it have been better if they’d died/never been born?

Now, tell me in our society how are ANY of the above sayings appropriate? I won’t go into details of the people who gave those quotes, but I will say that several were mothers of twins, one had lost their child recently and another has ASD herself. Knowing these people, their families and their stories, everyone was moved and everyone could relate to what had been said. No-one should have to endure these horrific things said to them on the street by strangers let alone by family members… who can actually be the worst culprits! If you don’t know what to say when you meet us, then keep your mouth zipped, we don’t need your insults. Think before you speak, if you think you’re being nice- re-think!

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It was always been acceptable to call people derogatory words describing disabilities, and it’s disgusting. Maybe when you say it’s a shame or ask us how we cope we’ve actually been having a pretty crappy day already?! Thanks for making us feel worse. Or if we’re having a good day, thanks for shooting us down.

To anyone reading this who has experienced any stupid phrases- you are not alone. To anyone who has said a stupid phrase… think. In this society we do not need hatred, discrimination or idiocy.

Thanks to my little sister for my wristband!

-L

Always choose happiness…

I’ve been out of London for several days now and the ‘holiday’ feeling has just about gone! It’s strange, everything is so quiet here, the street is silent by 11pm and the shops all close so early!

I guess it’s a funny feeling, the reality that I’m now back and sleeping in my childhood bed after living away from the family home for so long. But it’s nice in it’s own way. It’s brilliant spending time with my family and watching my little sister grow up! Last night I attended a ceremony at my old high school where my little sister is about to go into Year 10 and was receiving and award for her brilliant Drama skills- the strangest part was when my old drama teacher mentioned me as she called my sister to the stage, remembering the first time my sister was in her Drama Club (a club I attended when I was in high school and used to take my sister with me- when she was only about four years old) wow, yep that really hit home how fast time is passing by. I’m glad I got to share that moment with my sister. Watching her grow and her personality develop is so special. I’m starting to see similarities in her with myself and my other siblings- it’s an amazing feeling. I guess any big brother/sister will know what I mean.

This morning my mum and I were on a mission! A shopping mission- something neither of us do very often! I needed to get the final bits together for Japan, including the comfiest shoes I’ve ever worn… Nike Free Flyknit… yep we both had a pair!

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Tonight I rode a bike for the first time in many years- my knee is healing well enough for me to do short rides which is great and seems to do a good job of physio!

This evening as I finally found myself unpacking my belongings whilst thinking about the past and planning the future. I must say it was almost a melancholy feeling, a little bit surreal and in that thought my little sister came in and cuddled up in my bed telling me about her day and asking what one piece of advice I’d give her as she grows up, of course I had two pieces of advice. The first ‘Dream big’ and the second ‘Always choose happiness and passion’- because no matter what you end up doing if it makes you happy, and you’re passionate about it then you can never fail. My little sister is an incredibly kind person and very intelligent, I’m pretty sure she’ll outdo all of her siblings as she gets older- but whatever she does as long as she is happy I will continue to be as proud of her as I am today, have been every day in her fourteen years and every day of her life that is yet to come.

I don’t know where I’ll be packing to go to next, but I know that in a few months I’ll be off on my next work adventure wherever that is, my life has become a packing/unpacking frantic crossroads so for now I’m going to carry on enjoying family time, preparing for my Japan adventure and plotting what next, I’m going to ride this crazy roller-coaster!

-L

The end of an era…

This morning I said goodbye to my brilliant housemates here in London. Tonight I will be returning to Staffordshire to my family to start the process of my next adventure.

I have spent the last few days saying ‘See you soon’ to some amazing friends and packing up my belongings- darn being an artist means I have so much stuff! Last night my housemates and I enjoyed a few drinks in the sunshine and a fire as the day faded into night. I can’t express how lucky I am to have met such lovely people on my stay here in London and it sucks that that was the last time in a while we’ll sit in our garden, laugh and put the world to rights. But I’m moving on to a new life.

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In two weeks time my twinny and I are embarking on an incredible once-in-a-life-time trip to Japan and after that I have to decide if I want to stay in the UK for a while or go to China or back to Japan to work.

At first the news of having to leave London was upsetting, but now it’s a golden opportunity for me to make something more of myself, to push myself, to learn more and to enjoy life even more. It’s been seven months of incredible highs and devastating lows but it’s a pretty good chapter in my life so far.

I will spend the next few weeks enjoying time with family and friends who I haven’t seen in a while, planning my next move and embracing my future.

Leaving London tonight will be a mix of emotions, but I have to back here for a few days in a weeks time to do some filming work. I have a busy time of incredible experiences ahead and I’m very grateful to the family and friends who have made the last seven months possible and of those who continue to support me.

Guys, thank you for everything, I will miss you!

-L

What do I want to do?

Art. Art is my first love and the one thing that I know will never let me down, because it is everywhere.

But apart from art I have other loves. Adventures, travel, communication and enabling people. I love watching people achieve their dreams or do something that they personally deemed impossible. Oh and I love the sea.

I find myself at a turning point in my life. I’m 23 and for some reason society seems to think that I should have it all figured out… but I don’t. I’ve been living in London for the last seven months and I now have to leave this place behind in order to move forward.

I finished my BA Hons degree in illustration back in 2013 and headed straight out to NYC to do work experience for a huge global marketing company. The moment my plane landed I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Whilst there the environment, the job, the opportunities available and the people I met secured this feeling for me. Once my time there was up I returned to the UK and to my family in order to take the next relevant career steps.

I decided to put in an application for a US working visa and move to London to pursue art whilst I waited. For any of you who are aware of the US visa process, it’s hard and it takes 6-12 months for an answer- there are no guarantees. I planned to stay in London, save some money and wait.

But we all know that plans rarely work out! I plan everything and overthink everything, so I shouldn’t be surprised when things don’t work out but I always am!

The art industry in London is extremely hard to break into, but I have been lucky that through contacts I am now registered as a freelance illustrator for one of the UK’s biggest marketing agencies. That doesn’t make finding work any easier- this agency has thousands of creatives registered  , so we all have a long wait for projects. My art work is also unique, I create pieces that blind and sighted people can enjoy together. This meant that I needed to work other jobs to make an income and afford to live here.

Anyone who knows London will know that living here is hard, it’s expensive and for what we pay for a tiny room in an run down area is the same that we would spend on a nice apartment elsewhere in the country. So I worked on my art at every opportunity- got it featured in several magazines, worked on a film and continued to seek inspiration everywhere, with the support of my family and friends. I took on jobs as a fundraiser and a taxi booking clerk. Then moved into my own place and began to save some money. A month later I partially tore my ACL ligament and ended up with nerve damage to my left leg. This left me out of work when my contract was unfairly terminated. If you’re not rich in London, London will break your heart.

Of course being in London, immobile and our of work is a problem and now my relationship with this place has to end. But I’m not as sad as you might expect, because I now have the rest of the world to explore.

I will be returning to my parents for a while to figure out my next steps. Then I’ll be heading to Japan with my twinny for two weeks of making memories. I’m not seeing this next change as a failure or as giving up. I’m seeing it as my chance to be great.

People are constantly asking me ‘What do you want to do next?’ My immediate reply is to shout as loud as I can ‘I don’t know!’ Such a dramatic lifestyle change is scary, initially it feels extremely limiting, but it’s actually the complete opposite- it’s freedom.

I decided that if I get a US visa I’ll be moving exactly a year from now with money saved up. So what next? I’m toying with somewhere coastal in the UK, possibly Devon/Cornwall, possibly Japan closer to my brother and possibly China for a completely new challenge. If I don’t get a visa- well I have many more years of art and travel ahead!

What do I see in the next 12 months? Art, adventure and incredible people. Where? I’m not sure right now, so I guess that means everywhere. I want to continue to push boundaries, push myself, learn about the world and learn about myself. I want to make people happy, to make my family and friends proud. I want to prove to myself that I can and will be great. I see new work ahead, a change of scenery and possibly a book in the pipe-line. Let’s do this world, here I come.

-L