Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Nihao, Zàijiàn and Xièxiè China!

Nihao, Zàijiàn and Xièxiè China!  / Hello, Goodbye and thank you China!

It was a pretty crazy 3 days. I will admit to swearing many times as I muddled my way around Beijing and my journey to the Great Wall of China in the stinking heat on the local buses and trains using terrible Chinese and lots of pointing. I will also admit to freaking out when I realized
your government blocks facebook, google, gmail and whatsapp which is basically all the means of communication I have to the outside world except my 15 year old phone which for some reason stopped sending sms once we left Russia. It wasn't always easy but I am glad I got to spend a little time having my stereotypes challenged, meeting many kind Chinese people and learning some Chinese which apparently I was told wasn't too bad!

HIGHLIGHTS

The gentle elderly people in Beijing who would smile and say hello back when I greeted them in Chinese in the Hutong alley ways where I was staying

People playing ping pong every day near the hostel

Eating vegan Chinese food!

Sitting and listening to a man and woman playing the Chinese violin and singing Chinese opera under the bridge

Feeling safe in Beijing as so many guards everywhere but also a little strange

The kind transport guide at the station who gave me 2 yuan as a gift on the last day when I ran out of Chinese money and couldn't find a currency exhange near by

Vegan food on China Southern Airlines. Best ever with real vegetables and braised tofu.

The Great Wall of China

Meeting nice Chinese people on the buses and planes

LOWLIGHTS

The constant car horns and trying to get across the road without getting run over by a motorbike, car or bicycle

Getting lost a million times and thinking, oh wait it's near that temple and realizing there is a damn temple on nearly every corner

The Chinese government blocking facebook and gmail :)

Having to bring your own toilet paper in the toilets where you have to squat over a hole. I guess I missed that memo!

Not having enough time to go into the countryside to explore.

Thanks to everyone who supported my indiegogo campaign which has enabled me to go on this trip back to Australia to do a solo tour with a visit to China on the way. The campaign is still open for the duration of my trip until mid October and includes lots of treats in return for your support including exclusive acoustic CD's, poetry postcards, house concerts and more. You can find out more here: https://igg.me/at/songsfromtheroad 













Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer Foraging For Mulberries in Berlin


Summer in Berlin is a wonderful time to go foraging so today I headed out to the Wilds of Wedding with another forager to pick mulberries in several colours which I grew up with in Australia and haven't seen since my youth. Mulberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C and Iron as well as loads of other beneficial vitamins such as Vitamin K1 and Vitamin E. We went foraging primarily for the berries but also picked up some young dandelion leaves, lambs quarters and mustard greens which I will cook tonight with garlic as a side for dinner.

With the mulberries I made some mulberry syrup for pancakes next week, popped a handful in the dehydrator to sprinkle over cereal and with the rest I just made a delicious vegan milk shake with banana, raw homemade cashew milk (so creamy!), freshly ground/cut cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla bean. Yum! People often ask me how I manage to survive being vegan and what I can eat? It's so easy and has definitely opened me up to trying new foods and tastes as well as expanded my interest in foraging. Have you foraged anything in your area lately?


#foraging #mulberries #wildweeds #edibleweeds #berlin #vegan #foodforfree #DIY #raw

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

April England Spring Tour

During April Lukas and I went over to England to do a little Spring tour from South to North and we were very lucky with the weather as it was hot most of the time so we got to spend a lot of time outdoors between concerts. Here is a little run down of the tour. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to our shows and to the hosts for having us in their cafes, restaurants, theatres, yoga rooms and homes. It was a pleasure and we hope to see you again in the future.

Thrive Cafe, Winchester

Our first show was really wonderful. A beautiful space to perform in, delicious food and wonderful people. This was the cafes first event as it has only been open for 3 months and it was a smash hit. The vegan lavender latte was divine!

House Concert, Birmingham

Technically my first house concert as part of an already running house concert series in the UK and it was really fun. We shared the night with Dutch singer songwriter Gitta de Ridder and Marcus took really good care of us making a delicious (but hot for me) curry. * Not to self, do not eat curry before performing. I was a bit afraid that people were falling asleep during the show but turns out they were just intensely listening and afterwards we all had a good chat. Took some of that curry home and on the 3rd try I was able to master it. :)

Eden Cafe, Witney

Sweet little cafe not far from Oxford.
Met some really nice people here and hopefully there will be a house concert organized by someone who attended in the future so that was a nice connection to make.

Twisted Ale Barrel, Coventry

Lovely hosts and amazing brewery with all sorts of vegan beers.
This show was on easter sunday with lots of rain so we didn't have a huge turn out but the people who came were very nice. There was one odd part though: the woman throwing up into a bucket during the show who for some reason didn't get up and leave with her friends during our two sets. Lucky she was pointing the right way and didn't share that with the audience members. I just remember thinking, we're definitely not in Germany now, no offence England. :)

Thyme to Eat, Chesterfield

We had a fun time here. I got to sing and play piano for the first time on live radio before the show on the local radio too. Haven't heard it yet. Hope it was ok! At Thyme to Eat we played to some very nice people. I liked the restaurant as it's lovely and big and really enjoyed the curry afterwards. Shame about the loudmouthed woman who seemed to make it competition to be the loudest person in the room without any disregard to the other people who had paid to see a concert and eat a meal. Ironically I heard her mention how some people can be such twats and simply do not know it…I was so tempted let me tell you but I held my tongue. Oh and the crooked tower. Loved it. Made me think of Harry Potter.

Zen Lounge, Bury

Very friendly audience and played a living room type show in a small but very sweet space. Sadly we didn't get to see much of the town as spent 2 hours battling with traffic and closures to get back home. Maybe next time, as it would be nice to visit again.

Florence Arts Centre, Egremont

Always a pleasure to visit this quirky and special venue and it's people. Sadly we had some goblins screwing up the technical stuff and the sound was very difficult during the concert but we made it through and met some very nice people afterwards. I'd love to see more of the Lake District, it's such a beautiful place. Thanks to the Arts Centre who put us up in a lovely house for the evening and we awoke to sun streaming through the room. Finished our visit with a little walk on the beach and a leisurely drive and lunch on the way home.

HIGHLIGHTS

Vegan lavender latte in Winchester
Marcus's curry & picking wild garlic on way to gig
Wild ponies and horses in the New Forest
Sharing Birmingham concert with Gitta De Ridder
Driving in the countryside
Sunny weather most of the time
Lovely audiences and hosts
Radio performance in Chesterfield
Delicious food at all the gigs
Sunset walks in the New Forest

LOWLIGHTS

Never enough time to spend time in places or with new friends
Woman talking rudely through concert in Chesterfield
Traffic problems between Bury/Manchester and Leeds at midnight
Exhaustion the next dayLeaving the New Forest (always makes me terribly sad)




Thursday, February 16, 2017

Depression vs Emaline - round three


In 2008 I was diagnosed with Bipolar II and was given several types of medication. It was explained to me that I could never lead a normal life and that I must avoid stressful situations at all costs. I was also told that sadly the reason I never reached my full potential was likely because of my bouts of depression but that I had done extremely well considering that there is Bipolar and Schizophrenia on both sides of my family as well as the fact that I had suffered from quite severe mental and physical abuse in my childhood which has definitely shaped the way I see the world and how I behave. I've had two breakdowns in my life, both triggered by being in abusive relationships though luckily for me, only mentally abusive. As I say this it sounds strange to say luckily...but it could have been worse. A year after being put on medication I decided to go off the meds because I had put on a lot of weight and found myself living in a fog of exhaustion, sleeping around 15 hours per day and losing my creativity, the only thing I felt I had at the time and could count on. The last straw came when so intoxicated by the medication I fell down the stairs and that was my wake up call. It was then I decided (along with the feeling of not being there and even having suicidal tendencies in response to these meds) that I would take myself off the medication and learn as much as I could about how the brain works and replace the meds with vitamins, healthy food, better living and learning how to be mindful and manage my anxiety through dabbling in buddhist teachings/podcasts and yoga. That and trying not to allow negative, damaging people into my life. (That took a few tries :P)
It's been an uphill battle but somehow I have managed to get myself through a couple of mentally abusive relationships without having a breakdown and finding the self esteem to eventually walk away as well as the difficult path of deciding to become a musician in 2010 and pursuing that path full time ever since. Last year I had a really difficult year. I didn't know how I would make it through but I am so lucky to have found an amazing person who has been there for me no matter what. I feel like in my life I never had that before so it's been sort of strange and at times I wondered what was in it for him and questioned if he had an ulterior motive. But it seems no, he doesn't. Not all people are damaged and in turn damage you. That was a revelation for me to learn. Seems like such a simple notion now and to him I am so grateful.
So I have made it this far but over the last 6 months as 2017 turned into a repeat of 2016 with money problems, car problems, housing problems and more I have been finding I am coping less and the strategies I had for making it through don't seem to be working anymore. It's become a lot harder to make a living from music because of a lot of changes in the industry (people not willing to pay for live music / venues not willing to pay / GEMA / styles / other factors) and I'm only just starting to get my head around that and working on ways to adapt so I can continue doing this thing that has saved me so many times I have lost count.
But I am struggling with life. Lately my depression feels like it's surrounding me and my anger and anxiety have become daily features of my personality which is something that makes me so sad to see after all the work I have done on myself. I've not given up, I just feel I need to express myself. It's easy to wonder what's wrong with you when on social media you constantly see posts from people who seem to be living the most wonderful lives full of happiness, success and fulfillment. It's easy to wonder, am I the only one who feels either nothing or a mild dread most mornings when I wake up? What is wrong with me? Why can't I be normal and happy and just get on with things like everyone else? That's a question I've been asking myself for most of my adult life but it stopped for a few years when I was more on top of things. Now the darn question has returned. I don't know what I am trying to achieve with this post. I just want to get it out. I also know logically I can't be the only one who feels like this or who has to live with this kind of illness that can't be cured. They told me I had bipolar. I still don't really agree because my symptoms were also partly due to being in that abusive relationship but I do know that I have some kind of mental illness, a deep well of depression that I could fall into at any moment if I am not careful. So I will keep on fighting, keep on struggling, trying to find new ways to mend myself so I can get back up again and enjoy life. I really want to enjoy life. I am different than I was in 2010. I understand that my brain doesn't always work properly and I am aware of this. I am trying as hard as I can to remember that when I start to feel the darkness climbing under my skin. I am grateful that I even have this awareness. Again it could always be worse. I am trying to focus on the positive things. There are a lot of positive things, if I could only see them sometimes…GRRR :)
If you feel the same, I hope this post brings you some comfort and maybe we can share tips and tricks. If you don't understand what it's like to live with depression then I hope my words can give you some insight as to what your friends or family may be going through and maybe you can be an anchor for them when they need some stability and someone to keep them safe until they get through the storm. Hugs to anyone who needs one. x
Oh and I should also thank my cat. Over these past 8 years he has kept me going. The touch of his paw on my skin or his little head against mine when things were really bad has given me great comfort.