Modesty and Joy

Simple Joy

 

It was the practical low heeled brown boots

that first caught my eye

my glance cast sideways so not to embarrass

the subject of my attention.

Secretly I studied her slender legs

leading up to the hem of a brown floral dress

and the crocheted cuffs of a sensible beige cardigan.

The modesty of attire surprised me.

Authors on their book launch night

are lavish and elegant

coiffured, polished and primed

but not so this lady.

I liked the understated look,

the quiet confidence of a writer

who had no need of a façade.

Her body of writing shining on its own merit

with no false vanity.

I adored this lady before she spoke a word

Davidson, Rowland, b.1942; Lady Reading a Book by Lamplight

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Lyrical beauty, decomposing poets and butterflies

The New Mills Poetry Trail Open Mic Event – The Butterfly House at The Torrs, New Mills, by Nicola Hulme

As the setting sun filled the evening sky with a spectacular orange glow, I drove through the Derbyshire lanes to a small town nestled against the dramatic backdrop of the Peak District. I was on my way to celebrate the New Mills Poetry Trail with an evening of open mic poetry.

The residents of New Mills extended a warm welcome to the “outsiders” from Stockport’s Write Out Loud group; they even extended their arms to a poet from who hailed from the far reaches of Glossop, such a friendly bunch.

book butterfly

Held in the beautifully ornate Butterfly House at the Torrs Hotel, poets spilled out into neighbouring rooms such was the amazing turn out. It was heart-warming to see so many people of varying ages and backgrounds coming together to share in their passion, to hear and be heard. Remarkably, for such a large gathering, the atmosphere still remained intimate, reminiscent of stories told around the fireplace.
Published poets, new poets, experienced performers and those, like I, who still shake inwardly when approaching the mic, came together in a shared appreciation of the spoken word. Topics conveyed ranged from the pastoral pleasures of a slow canal walk, the heartaches of unrequited love, through to the surprise of eight family members surviving their first holiday together without anyone’s demise! For our delight we were told how Wordsworth’s decomposing body made fine fertiliser for the daffodils and allotment gardeners cried out for insect genocide, namely the extinction of the Cabbage White. The strength of Manchester was praised in a salute to the bees and conversations overheard at Costa were mulled over between drinks.

It was interesting to observe how we write as introverts, cocooned individually honing our craft, yet, on nights such as these, when we share our lines a new beauty emerges. Like a butterfly spreading its wings for the first time verbalising our humanity, vulnerabilities, passions and fears we create something new and more captivating together. We create a place of trust, empathy and support where smiles, nods and applause say “Yes, we understand, we have experienced the same and can relate to you.”

Quill-pen-parchment-and-ink-bottle1

IPhones, technology and social media may play a huge part in our daily life but it’s reassuring to know the poetry scene is very much alive and well, uniting communities. On this night the people of New Mills and the surrounding areas turned their backs on box set binging and X-Factor warbling, preferring to spend time with friends in a lyrical wonderland.

I’d like to say thank you to Randy Horton and his team of volunteers for organising the Poetry Trail and the open mic evening. Thanks also to the shopkeepers who supported the event by allowing poems to be displayed in their windows and of course to the people of New Mills for coming together and making it a night to remember. I hope we can do it all again next year.

Review is about New Mills Festival Poetry Trail Round Robin on 26 Sep 2018 (event)

Visit @writeoutloud for details of your local poetry groups.

I feel immortal

Yes, I feel immortal… this morning I opened Twitter and there staring back at me was a quotation from an interview I gave a year ago, and underneath was my name Nicola Hulme…  I had to read it twice to make sure it was really me..it also carried the hashtag #wednedsaywisdom

I ask for no more, I am immortal, I have a quote as had Ghandi, Martin Luther King,  Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Gilbert, Oprah Winfrey, CS Lewis, Terry Pratchett…

I feel complete. My job here is done.

How bizarre!

OK so I’m not a superhero, but it just shows that wonderful things do happen and can happen for everyone. It’s something I believe in very strongly.

PS. I my job as writer will never be done, I have opened the gateway, I have let in the light, I will write until I have no more words. It isn’t a job, it’s a passion, perhaps an addiction.

blog 21

The Rump

fatback

I can cope with my belly

wobbling like jelly.

I can cope with

my thunderous thighs.

You see I’ve had both

much longer than most

actually… for most of my life.

 

But something that’s new

and just will not do

is a rump

that’s appeared behind.

Just above my rear

a mound has appeared

and this

I most definitely mind.

 

My shape has expanded

with no effort demanded,

unnoticed by my drowsy eyes.

But….one fateful morn

in the cold light of dawn

I saw a rump

that could feed a small tribe.

 

My back once was a line

punctuated by my

bottom at the bottom

of my spine.

But now it stops short

at the rump

I now port;

a short line

of mine

is NOT fine.

 

Yet here’s my conundrum

for the heap over my bum

I’ve never ever met

Will Power.

A diet of shakes

or small salad days

never lasts for more

than an hour.

 

So I guess I’ll resign

to this new shape of mine

buy elasticated waists

and stretch pants.

Take up a bit more seat

whilst I continue to eat

in between meals and

open mic rants.

How do I love you …

As you leave my side after 17 years of working together, I dedicate this blog to you, Phil Tongue of PZ Cussons, and here is why;

How do I love Phil let me count the ways… I could talk about his unending generosity and the work he does for charities, I could talk about his dedication, how he describes himself as a stick of Blackpool rock – cut Phil in half and you’ll see PZ Cussons written through and through, I could talk of his kindness to every living person and creature, of how in helping 2 American ladies over the Giant’s Causeway, he hospitalised himself. I could talk about his love for Northern Soul, his master bakery in the kitchen or the endless cruises around the world … but I’m going to talk more specifically, more personally;

We met in 2001 when I needed help settling into my desk. Phil’s was the friendly face, at once courteous and polite – incredibly helpful and friendly.

Through the years he was my go to IT person, I always knew I’d be met by a smile and instant response, he made my IT issues go away…. Something that would continue for another 17 years.

The Manufacturing Standards Department had their ups and downs, people joining, people leaving, managers coming, managers going. One Friday I heard that a new person would be joining and told that I would be very happy about it. I was intrigued – who would I find sat next to me on Monday?

I was greeted by a smiling face, Phil was beaming back at me … and so it continued for 11 years.

The ups and downs of the department now actually transformed into physical ups and downs… I had just lost 2 and a half stones on Slimmers World, and joined a gym…  Phil arrived and soon lost 7 stones on SW and when we moved over to new offices at Aviator Way he asked me to show him the equipment in the gym…

Shortly after, I fell pregnant and my weight soared – Phil continued to work out and shrink.

When I returned from Mat leave Phil asked me to help him set up Uncle Phil’s bakery…. My weight soared… Phil continued to work out and shrink.

Our little team absorbed every challenge that PZC threw at it – the keepers of data integrity, we created all NPD SKUs, absorbed new brands, created new 3rd Parties, spread our networking wider globally each year. Throughout it all Phil and I formed a dynamic little team – the word “agile” doesn’t even begin to do justice for how we’ve ridden the waves over the years.

I would figure out ways of working, Phil would provide the systems support to back up every move, suggestion and recommendation. If I needed data – Phil knew how to extract it and manipulate it with hocus pocus and black magic.

We were Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, usually just figuring out “what the hell was going on“,  and at times I think we can admit to being the hecklers Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show – you have to be as old as us to understand that, so apologies to the Millennials

At times pressure would build and we had our strains – that beautiful smile and accommodating service that I loved from Phil’s IT days – I now wanted to drag out of him so he would stop saying “yes” to everyone, … I even created a new ID badge that said “Spartacus” to remind him now and again to “just say no”…his agreeable nature was increasing our workload and making me fray at the edges..but then..when I did start to come undone… Phil would be there to say the code word… if I was in a discussion that perhaps was becoming a little heated… Phil would walk over touch my arm and say “ Is it time for a cup of tea?” and I knew immediately I’d become too loud and bolshy and needed to reign it in. And that illustrates our relationship; we’ve grown so close over the years, we can read each other like books.

Speaking of books, when I decided to start writing, Phil was my number one supporter, when I began poetry and had to overcome nerves for an open mic session, he was there saying “knock ‘em dead” .. so it was an absolute pleasure when Phil asked me to help him write his own poetry.  We took on the Napowrimo challenge last year, writing a poem a day for the whole of April… Phil joined in and when I stopped, he continued. He has published a poem a day ever since – without fail, so the odes he emailed out on Mondays to support his baking aren’t the only form of poetry he writes, he has his own blog and Twitter Page– oh yes, us oldies can keep up with you Millennials on some levels.

It’s a huge wrench to say goodbye on a business level to my sidekick and partner. Phil’s taught me that friendship isn’t the big things it’s a million little things and I’d like to thank Phil for every one of them.

Phil is..

The pen to my paper

The key to my board

The sugar to my spice

The butter to my toast

The Yin to my Yang

The Northern of my Soul

The Wallace to My Gromit

The rock to my roll

The guns to my roses

The ink in my tattoo

The Wingardium to my Leviosa

The rhythm to my blues

The peach to my pear

My umbrella on a rainy day

The music to my ears

The smile on my face….

 

For all of which, Phil, I’d like to thank you.

You can find out more about Uncle Phil and read his poetry, on his own blog page here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, thank-you

It looks like I am such a fibber

or a “half a job,”

someone who can’t keep commitments,

perhaps someone without stamina..

I am of course referring to my promise to publish terrible poetry every day for the month of April, to complete the Napowrimo challenge.

I didn’t fib. Initially, I wanted to take on the challenge, so at the time of publishing that goal, it was true.

It’s also true that I did not do “half a job” but actually did less. I only published two poems. I didn’t keep the commitment, but this doesn’t represent my stamina or character. After consideration, I changed my mind and made a new decision; a new commitment; one that superseded my first intention.

I decided to take April off.

I decided to politely turn down requests for appearances at events, for contributions to written collections, for attendance at groups, meetings, gatherings etc.

I honoured any promises I had previously made for example running the Stockport Writers Session and attending Write Out Loud Poetry night, but I didn’t agree to take on anything new.

I also stopped booking or actively seeking workshops. I gave myself permission to stop, for a whole month.

I actually picked up a book to read for pleasure, not to study technique or research writing styles, but to read for the pure joy in reading.

I feel balanced again. I feel better. I feel my equilibrium has benefitted. I feel my priorities are restored.

I recommend it.  Take May off! Give yourself the gift of saying “no, thank-you” for 31 days and see how healing it is.

I may publish dodgy poetry in future, but for now, and the remaining 6 days of April I won’t.

NoThankYou_575

 

Move on #Napowrimo #2

Move On

Life is too short and so

to save time,

to be efficient,

einstein

 

I wear an Einstein wardrobe;

white blouse,

black jeans,

boots,

yet

 

flamboyant colour

when a kaleidoscope of colour

flounces before me, I envy

the flamboyance,

briefly.

I indulge in the dream of being

free to reside in sparkling rainbows

simply dancing, with no destination

kicking away scrumpled up “to-do” lists

tossed aside with abandon.

 

einsteins wardrobe.jpg

 

The moment passes.

I console myself;

a books beauty is held on the inside.

I move on.

 

 

This poem was strangely influenced by  an article by Julie Marie Wade, Wednesday, March 18, 2015:  article

“Put a Dog in There: Poetry and the Power of Concrete Nouns”

used as a Napowrimo craft resource. In her essay she discusses the power of including nouns.

 

Why do I believe in Vision Boards?

First let me explain what a vision board is and does;

A vision board is one of the most simple but effective tools to use to help focus on your goals. It can also be used in conjunction with the Law of Attraction which attracts those things that you love into your life.

vision board blog

In practical terms it couldn’t be easier, you gather images, photographs, prints or pictures from magazines which make you smile and make you feel happy. You add them to a noticeboard, creating a collage of happiness. It’s completely unique to you and reflects what brings you joy.

Display your board in a place that you can look at daily, ideally morning and night, and you have an instant mood lifter to start your day and a prompt to be grateful for what makes you happy at the end of the day.

If you add images that reflect or represent your goals, it serves as a daily reminder of what you intend to achieve. The visual format has a high impact and keeps the image at the front of your mind so when opportunities arise; you are already in the right state of mind to take advantage of them.

I started my own vision board about 8 years ago, when I read the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne.  The book introduced me to The Law of Attraction and how thoughts attract things into your life. The theory is that your thoughts are sent out on a frequency that attracts similar things into your life. You act like a magnet. What you focus on most appears in your life. Your thoughts become things.

The beauty of a vision board is you don’t have to believe in the Law of Attraction, you can use your board in a practical sense to keep your goals fresh in your mind. To organise your thoughts and be clear on what you want in your life. However, if you choose to practice the techniques of the Law of Attraction, you can optimise your board by attracting things into your life a lot quicker, achieve your goals quicker and spot opportunities and be ready to exploit them.

So why do I believe so fervently? 8 years ago I was in a marriage which had long since ran its course.  I felt I was drifting aimlessly through life and even when I achieved goals at work or lost weight and bought the latest fashions, I wasn’t excited about it as I should be. I’d lost my spark, my joy.

After starting my board I began to remember what made me happy. When I saw an image of something I used to love I’d put it on the board. Over time I had a full board of things that made me smile. A board with a few aims, like read more, get into the fresh air more, join a yoga class etc. The more I represented the life I wanted, the more it contrasted with my actual life.  The contrasts became very strong and obvious. I had to make a change.

joy

 

The board reminded me of my authentic self. It wasn’t long after that I left my marriage. Happily I can look back and say it was the right decision and what followed next was more than I had dreamed of. I moved house, began a new relationship, had my second child and started a brand new life. My new partner was supportive of my dreams and encouraged me to go after them. I started writing, sent off a manuscript to a publisher and am now the author of a Children’s Picture Book. I visit schools and hold assemblies, I’m invited to National Trust Park events, I’ve even taken part in open mic poetry sessions and led workshops on spell making for Harry Potter days. In the process I’ve met some wonderful people and made some amazing friends. I don’t feel carried along by the tide, my confidence has soared and I take full accountability of everything I do, the good choices and the not so good.

I have no doubt at all that the vision board played a huge role in my transformation. I started with small goals, like a picture of a yoga class, children smiling, holiday pictures. I had images on there saying “I’m a writer” “I am officially published” “meet the author” and I’ve met many over the last year. I put images on there of sunny days on the beach, and walks in the countryside, friends laughing, each time they happen. Is it just that I choose to go out and find them, probably, but I don’t sit in my couch waiting as the world passes by. It works, it works for me. When you know something like that, you just can’t keep it to yourself. I want to shout it from the rooftops, I want to give pins and blu tack to everyone and say stick pictures on a board – only they think I’m a crazy lady when I do, so instead, I run workshops to spread the word. If you live in Cheshire and can make it, come along and find out for yourself. Otherwise Google, research, read The Secret, find a workshop in your town. This is an opportunity right now for you… what are you going to do about it?

My next workshop is at The Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery Saturday 24th March 2-4pm Tickets available through the following Eventbrite link

Workshop booking

or message me via my Facebook Page Nicola Hulme Author

Happy visioning!

 

 

How Portia The Pear Found Her Publisher

A friend I met at a writing workshop, asked me recently, how I became published after writing my book. This is a question I’m asked frequently and if this interests you, put the kettle on, get comfortable and I’ll tell you the story of… Portia The Pear. I have to tell you the whole story, because there is an element of luck, fate, or maybe serendipity to this, or perhaps I was ready and willing when the opportunity arose? I’ll let you decide.

I had rediscovered my passion for writing, and fell in love with the craft all over again. I’d also discovered a new level of proactivity, which I’ll discuss in a future blog. With this new energy, I sought out and found a local writing group, Stockport Writers who meet at The Hatworks once a month. I also joined a local poetry group, Write Out Loud, who meet at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery once a month. With the support and encouragement I found discussing writing with like-minded people, my confidence grew and so did my level of passion for the subject.

With this confidence, and heightened awareness of all things literary, I spotted a postcard on a noticeboard at Bredbury Library. It advertised a writing group which met in Marple, every Thursday night called The Storytellers Place. I went along. I was cramming in as much writing, reading and group work as I could, enjoying every minute.

As any woman knows, you share everything with your hairdresser; it’s the law. At each appointment I was babbling on about the writing groups and how fascinating it was and how I wanted to write bedtime stories for children. It was at this point where the magic started to manifest. At one of my appointments my hairdresser gave me a leaflet from Tatton Park advertising their 100 years celebration of the work of Roald Dahl, saying “I saw this and thought of you”. As part of the events taking place, there was a creative writing workshop to be held, called “How To Write Like Roald Dahl”, run by a lady called Joy Winkler. It went on to describe how Joy was Cheshire’s Poet Laureate in 2015. A poet discussing children’s books, it sounded perfect for my master plan of writing a bedtime story. When I looked into the event in more detail I found it was affordable but would mean I needed to book a day’s holiday from work. Up until this time I had always booked days to be off with my children, covering school holidays. However, I was so intrigued, I book the day off and booked myself onto the course whilst feeling like a naughty school girl playing truant!

Roald_Dahls_Matilda

On the day, I drove over to Tatton Park in glorious sunshine, arriving for a 10.30 am start. I then spent the morning with the inspirational Joy Winkler as she taught the techniques for writing for children and exploring how Dahl created his fabulous characters. At lunch time we were sent into the kitchen gardens with the instruction of spending two hours developing characters and writing a story that unfolds in the gardens themselves.

 

The first sight to greet me, as I walked outside was a beautiful row of pear trees trained into perfect lines with the most sumptuous fruit hanging neatly from the branches. I had a closer look and saw each tree had a different “name” and most names were female. A very knobbly pear then caught my eye. It was all scrunched up and had dark freckly skin unlike the rest of the fruit. The shape and twists made it look like a sad face, and I knew immediately that this was my character. I sat quietly and wrote and two hours later read out my story to the group. It was well received and Joy suggested I submit it to a publisher because it had a strong voice. I hope you are paying attention because this is the part that truly is magic.

The very next day, an email popped up telling me that a Children’s Publisher was coming to The Storytellers Place to talk about Independent Book Publishing in the following week. I quickly “Googled” the publisher and found their submission guidelines. I checked that my story was in the format they wanted, a word document. I checked and re-checked it for spelling mistakes and grammar, then drafted a cover email, attached Portia and pressed send. All I had in mind at that point was to ask for some feedback and pointers on what could be improved.

Two gentlemen from Tiny Tree Children’s Book Publishers delivered a presentation to my writing group and nervously I hung behind to speak to them after everyone had left. I then told them I had cheekily submitted my book and asked if they could tell me what they thought. The reply was that they hadn’t read it yet, they had been very busy. “That’s a ‘no’ then” I thought. I went home dejectedly and had a sulky early night.

The very next day, an email popped up this time from the publishers, telling me they loved the book and asking if I could call to the office to discuss it with them. After bouncing around my office like Tigger, I replied and agreed to the meeting.

For what happened next you can read my blog “Feedback and re-writes” dated March 6th 2017 followed by “Validation and Illustration” dated March 13th 2017.

blog6

 

So what do you think? My hairdresser told me of a writing workshop, where I wrote a story and was encouraged to submit it. A writers group introduced me to a publisher, who said “yes”. Was it luck, serendipity or fate? Or was it the amount of work learning the techniques in the months before, that meant I was ready with an almost finished piece of writing when an opportunity arose? I am unsure. I worked hard and put in long hours, but surely the email arriving the day after writing my story announcing a publisher was coming to me, suggests more powerful forces were in play, doesn’t it?

Fate or luck, one thing is certain, to be published you must have first written. As Joy Winkler emphasises “you must sit and write” and who knows where it will lead you, if you do? A great quote from Stephen King sums this up “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

If anyone has any questions on creative writing, the process of being published or simply what to expect at writing groups, please ask. This is my passion and if I can help in anyway, I’d be glad to do so.

Good luck and happy writing.

magic quote

 

 

Portia The Pear – the book launch.

 

book launch signing

Portia The Pear, my first Children’s Picture Book, was launched in September this year and is now on sale in bookshops, on Amazon and even in the gift shops at Tatton Park in Cheshire.

 

The launch party was an amazing event with more people attending than I ever imagined. Book sales were crazily high, I couldn’t move from the signing table. Children were busy sticking, painting, and creating at the craft tables. Those with more energy bounced on the bouncy castle and chased balloons. There was even a music maestro playing acoustic guitar in a quieter area for those who preferred to stay out of the mele.

book launch peopl

I can’t thank enough, the team of people who helped me to organise and manage the event. I had volunteers in the kitchen, help setting up the buffet, friends supervising the crafting and one dear friend even took charge of meeting and greeting. What a bunch of superstars. The day’s success was all down to their fantastic spirit of “all hands on deck” – angels every one!

book launch craft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here is a link to find my book, which makes a superb Christmas present for little ones. Book reviews can be found on Amazon, to see what people think so far.

amazon

To any budding authors out there, be ready to take part in marketing events organised by your publisher. My feet haven’t touched the ground since launch day. I’ve been as far south as Foyles in Chelmsford and I’m on my way north to Barrow-in-Furness next, with Apple Day Festivals in between and pit stops at libraries it takes a lot of energy to support your book, so be prepared!

book reading

I leave you with a link to the book and the publisher for more information …… did I say Portia makes a great stocking filler????

https://matthewjamespublishing.com/product/portia-pear-nicola-hulme/

christmas portia