LilMissAshes Encore Une Fois

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

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

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

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

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

A LilMissAshes Musical Venture: StatusTwo

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Check out our website for more details!

 

2016 – The Highlights Pt 1: The Apprentice

2015 was an eventful year for me for many reasons, not all of them bad, but not all of them good. Needless to say, various events lead to some pretty big decisions this year. After 33 years and in the space of 365 days, I finally realised the significance of the phrase ‘Live for Today.’

When people have said this phrase to me in the past, I would be quick to counteract it with an argument as to why we shouldn’t, but that’s only because I didn’t truly understand its meaning. People weren’t telling me to enjoy myself and not think about the consequences of tomorrow like I thought. They weren’t telling me not to save money or not to plan ahead and they certainly weren’t telling me to be careless. I’m here to tell you that ‘Today’ is not ‘one’ day. It’s a space in time where you can accomplish something great, and the final days of 2015 taught me just that.

2016 therefore, was going to be my year of new challenges. 2016 was MY TODAY, and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I went after what I truly wanted. I went after dreams I’ve had for years and years and the result has been one of the best years of my life.

An example being, The Apprentice. Every year I would watch the series on BBC1 and every year I’d be judging and complaining how I would do each task better – an opinion, I’m sure, that is shared by the majority of people reading this blog. This being said, I decided to stop talking the talk  and start walking the walk (awful phrase used to often on The Apprentice)! I’d never done a business plan before and I’ve never needed to learn, until now. I spent countless hours researching business plans, talking to professionals (you know who you are Lee Morgan!), reading book after book on how to compose one and ended up with a 43-page wonder for a Lifestyle Management Company. I was ever so proud, and it even made sense! Honestly, my five-year turnover was a seven-figure sum and I was convinced I was on to a winner.

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A glimpse of my business plan

Then came the online application, which truth be told, was pretty simple by most standards. The difficulty however was to follow, in the gruelling series of interviews in London. Sitting in a crowded room full of applicants, kitted out in their best business wear with their briefcases and iPhone 100s, I could easily have lost my nerve. I was surrounded by far more experience, far more business acumen and far more attitude than I had but in a situation like that, you HAVE to stop thinking about how everyone else might be better than you and start thinking about what makes you better than them. It truly is the best way to believe in your own ability and get rid of the nerves from those unhelpful comparisons.

Thankfully, potential candidate after potential candidate fell at the early interview stages that I was getting through rather happily. I couldn’t help looking around at the dwindling crowd of applicants and questioning, is this actually happening? My final interview stage which I can proudly say was very late on in the whole application process, was absolutely terrifying. Try sitting in front of two, angry-looking, hotshot, ball-busting female producers who would do everything in their power to make you not only question the turnover figures in your business plan but actual life choices and purpose on this Earth, all whilst eyeing you up and down at the end of a very large table in a room with glass walls so everyone outside the room can see you sweat. Honestly, no job interview I could ever have in future could EVER be this horrific! Sadly, this was where I failed and my Apprentice journey came to an end.

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Photo Courtesy of The Guardian

However, fail I did NOT. A week after returning home to Swansea, I had the email that my chances of getting onto the show had ended. I would be going no further in the process.

An ‘Emotional Intelligence’ lecture I once had, taught me that EVENT + RESPONSE = OUTCOME.  The event being my rejection and the response being how I would react. I quickly decided that although I didn’t get onto The Apprentice, in the space of two-months, I learnt how to write a business plan, the ingredients one needs when running a successful company, what an Executive Summary was and most importantly that I, Stacey Louise Harris, can bust balls with the best of them.

Song Lyrics SO WEIRD they Deserve a Blog of their OWN

I haven’t included the following song in my Top 10 Worst Song Lyrics List as these lyrics really do deserve recognition in their own separate blog. They win the award for ‘Weirdest Song Lyrics of All-Time.’ Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you, “Judy in Disguise” – John Fred and his Playboy Band.

 

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

 

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!

 

 

When Does a Loss Feel Like a Win?

I think today might be that day. I’ve just got home from netball where The Milkshakers lost 20 points to 18 against Sospan.

Sure, having two spectacular wins in Division 3 felt great but then as I mentioned in my previous blog, we were promoted to Division 2 – quite scary territory for a new team just starting out together. Last Sunday, we were down to just four of our original players and had to borrow a few. Our first experience of Division 2 was a 33-11 loss. As someone who, and please feel free to ask my friends to qualify this, is a notoriously bad loser, it was a hard pill to swallow. I tend to get pretty riled up when things don’t go my way and then frustrated thoughts creep into my head, distracting me from the game I should be concentrating on 100%. To say I was annoyed at myself following that game would be an understatement. But hay, at least I’m self-aware, right?

This week, we were down to five originals and had to borrow two new ladies to fill in for us in positions they were not used to. Sospan have a reputation for being an excellent team so you can imagine the nervousness working its way through our girls before the starting whistle. They’re also a Llanelli team and me being a Swansea girl through and through, I really wanted the win. But something strange happened…

For the first three quarters of the match, we were always three points behind them. Playing catch up for so long in any sport can make you feel even more of an underdog than you felt at the start. But strangely enough, we found ourselves ahead going into the fourth quarter – a familiar feeling from our Division 3 days. Naturally, you start to believe you can win. You tell yourselves and each other to play your hearts out and go for the win. Unfortunately, that’s usually the point where the other team says the same thing and fair play to Sospan, they didn’t like the lead being taken away from them and swiftly snatched it back from our ‘underdoggy’ paws.

The final whistle blew and we found ourselves losing our second game in a row in Division 2, 20-18. I could feel the competitive streak inside me chomping at my confidence, making me question whether I gave enough to my team – the usual feeling after any team loss. However, that feeling didn’t follow me off court. It was quickly dispelled by the truth of the matter, which was that we came close to beating a fantastic team with a strong reputation. I looked around at my girls and could see they felt the same way. For some reason, we lost the game, but we also won. As a team we showed strength and character to hang in there and even very nearly clinch the victory. Wanting to save our reputation after such a beating last week, coupled with wanting to make our absent team mates proud, we walked away with our heads held high. We had a new knowledge, that when we had our entire team back together, we could cause some serious damage in this division, and there is no better feeling.

Good team work has never been a strong point of mine. I’m getting better at is as I get older as I’m able to see the benefits more (an ability I lacked in my twenties!). I’ve learned that putting your own personal gains aside and playing for the people around you, can make you play even better because you want it more.

After the game, I sent the girls this meme I found on the net:

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Courtesy of http://www.quickmeme.com

 

In conclusion, I guess what I’m trying to say is to take positives from everything you do in life. You’re not going to win or be the best EVERY time, and that’s OK.

Next week The Milkshakers will be competing in the Christmas Mixed Tournament so two hours of crazy netball awaits. The great news is we should have all our players back, including some lads who I doubt know a lot about what they’re letting themselves in for! So wish us luck and think of us Sunday, 6th December 4pm – 6pm. The new Stacey will be saying ‘just have fun and do your best’ and the other Stacey, who let’s face it, will always be there under the surface will be saying:

“Come on Milkshakers, let’s go for the win bois bach!”

 

The Birth of The Milkshakers

This season, I have been mostly playing netball.

I absolutely LOVE this sport and thankfully have recently had the opportunity to start a Sunday League team with a few friends. As this blog title implies, we are The Milkshakers. We consist of a good mix of ex-League winners, ex-University team, ex-County and ex-Wales players so we mean business.

Our Wing Defence Sas Richards (left) and a very smiley me! (right)
Our Wing Defence Sas Richards (left) and a very smiley me! (right)

We played our first game on 1st November 2015 and won an impressive 28-9. The second game was played today and we won with an even more destructive 39-5! We’ve since been told that we are being promoted to Swansea Sunday League Division 2 so here’s hoping we can perform just as well against some more intense teams. My positive thinking coupled with my ego tells me we’ll do just fine!

The reason why I’m sharing this with you is not just to gain fans and support from afar, although we really want that! We are also a team in need of sponsorship. We’ve made a great start to a sponsorship quest with Dean Thomas’ Delivery Business but we still need more. Each week, we as players pay to play but are competing against teams who are all kitted and logo’d up thanks to their sponsors and netball uniform can be expensive. We want our look to be as professional as our score line, and we want to do our sponsors proud!

For any businesses out there who are looking to give a little something back to the community and may also be looking for a bit of advertising along way, please do get in touch so we can discuss how best you can support us. Depending on donation amount, we are happy to wear logos on our kit. I will also be happy advertising your businesses on this blog page and on my social media account.

So wish us luck next week. Think of us at 12.15pm next Sunday 22nd November. Hopefully I will have more good news to share! Plus, team pictures to come!

I leave you with our team song! Ciao for now lovers!