Welcome!

Hello, I’m Jen Farrant, I’m a Creative Freelancer – read more about my work here. 

My blog is my space to experiment with thoughts, ideas, photos and poems. They tend to fall into broad categories of

Creativity
Disability
Music
Poetry
Research & writing
Strategic & creative thinking. 

If one of those interests you then go straight there, otherwise feel free to scroll through everything.

Join : Twitter : Newsletter : Flickr : Instagram : Pinterest
Email : 
Jen AT Jenfarrant DOT com
Read : my  CV

If you are a freelancer or are thinking of becoming one, get my freelancer's guide. It is full of things to think about, how to run your business, looking after yourself and the tools I use. Like my blog it is straight talking! More info

You can also sign up to my Newsletter

Perfecting your art…or tweet?

I have the immense privilege this week of working with Royal Acdemy of Music students on a project which is making conducting accessible to people with disabilities with James Rose.

Part of my role is updating social media in real time, across James’ accounts on Twitter, instagram and Facebook.

I asked the musicians during a break if they could retweet, like etc. our posts, as well as writing their own posts using the hashtag #jroseconducts.

To my amazement, these millennials don’t use social media. One said she used Facebook to stay in touch with her family and one said she had a Twitter account and never used it.

It struck me that these students spent a lot of time rehearsing – we are together for four hours each day and this project is on top of their normal workloads. Everywhere you go in the Academy there are people practicing, going over the same phrase time and time again, even when I left at 9pm there was still music resounding throughout the building.

Maybe all that time that they could spend on social media they spend perfecting their art instead.

Alexandra Franzen (a favourite business writer) makes her thoughts about social media quite clear here and here and says at the end of her life:

I will calculate all of the minutes that I spent coming up with thousands upon thousands of tweets — thinking about those tweets, typing those tweets, editing those tweets, publishing those tweets, tracking to see who “liked” and “re-tweeted” my tweets, and then re-sharing my witticisms on various other platforms — and I would probably come to the grim conclusion that it was somewhere in the realm of 1.8 million minutes spent on Twitter, alone.

I go through phases of getting highly involved with social media, around the April Love 2016 project for example, and I am currently enjoying Instagram and the various photography and poetry communities I am finding on there.

Howver, I really notice on Sundays how much more relaxed I am and I think a big part of this is I don’t use social media or the internet on a Sunday. I may expand this to Saturdays too.

On the other hand, it seems like if you want to make it these days social media is the only way to do it.

Most of my favourite authors aren’t really on social media -Neil Gaiman is a notable example, but he uses it as and when he wants to.

I guess, as with everything, the middle path is the way ahead. I can use Instagram and not get obsessed with it, in fact, after this project I might well take all social media off phone again.

What about you? What is your relationship with social media?

If you are a freelancer or are thinking of becoming one, get my freelancer's guide. It is full of things to think about, how to run your business, looking after yourself and the tools I use. Like my blog it is straight talking! More info

You can also sign up to my Newsletter

April Reads and Reviews

April Reads and Reviews

This is a selection of my best reads for this month. It was an excellent month of reading, and I will be reading more of the books by these same authors as they were all very strong, enjoyable and some of them quite a challenging read.

The Maytrees, Annie Dilliard.

IMG_4569

I’ve run across Dillard’s name or books referenced in a lot of my reading of late, so I got this from the library. It is not a book to be read in bite sized chunks, it needs substation portions of time to get to grips with its style. There isn’t any dialogue, which I actually quite like and the use of language can be quite dense at times, but this makes it a beautiful read. As does the subject matter, of love, life and death, which is quite a lot to take on in a slim novel. I will look out more of her books and probably revisit this one as I think it will greatly benefit from a second reading.

 

 

IMG_3748Oliver Sacks. On the move.

 

This book was on BrainPickings 2015 top reading list and I can see why. And oh dear – just like a lot of the books I have read of late it has spawned a vast number of entries in my ’to be read’ list. I loved reading about this man’s life and found his cross of science, care of patience and outright recklessness of his youth to be an engaging and enjoyable read. It made me long for my motorbike again, which is never a particularly good thing.

 

 

Version 2The Graveyard book. Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is possibly my favourite living author, in fact I have his picture and a quote above my laptop, and he narrates this audiobook. He is an extremely good narrator and speaker, as well as writer. This book is actually a children’s book, but don’t let that put you off. This book is based on Bod, a boy who grows up in a graveyard. Yes, a somewhat unusual topic, but done so brilliantly with Gaiman’s usual style of fantasy that in his hands doesn’t seem fantastic, but totally plausible. It is my dream to be able to write like Gaiman…

 

I really enjoyed this book – I listened to it as an audiobook. Since I’ve become gluten and dairy free, I have become so much more aware of the sensitivities of my body, changing my diet has meant a big reduction in pain and fatigue – a huge reduction in fact. This book makes it really apparent how under researched the gut really is and how much it can affect our lives.
Essentially we really should listen to our ‘gut feelings’ as it is beginning to look like we essentially have a second brain in our stomach. Not literally, but the gut can have that much influence over our lives.
I have made a few changes as a direct result of this book – plastic chopping board for meat, clean tea towels and dishcloths every day etc. I have always been scrupulous about washing my hand after handling raw meat and eggs, but it is always good to get a reminder.
I loved the authors light-hearted way of talking about this serious topic and it managed to balance hard-core science facts while remaining accessible and interesting. I wish there were more such books about other topics on the body.

 

How to paint a dead man. Sarah Hall.

I actually chose this off the library shelves, which is unusual for me, I normal get books on recommendations, but I was drawn by the title. This was nonlinear and following the lives of several people at once. I loved the different styles of writing for each of the different characters, with different narrative techniques and language. Another book which was devoured very quickly.

IMG_3618

Wildflower. Drew Barrymore.

This book was so much fun and light-hearted. Drew writes in a way that makes you feel like she is with you telling you the stories of her life. There is no sense of pomposity or negativity at all. There are lots of ‘so’, ‘really’ and multiple !!!! and ???? throughout, giving it a really enjoyable air!

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3554

Rumi, Lion of the heart. Translated by Coleman Barks.

I’ve seen snippets of Rumi’s poetry across the internet, normally superimposed on a pretty scene, but I hadn’t actually read any of his poems. This little edition is a beautiful collection and I savoured it over a couple of weeks (unusual for me). However, the layout was atrocious, but the commentary is excellent and the translation seems to be a good one (as far as I can tell, not actually being able to speak Persian).

 

 

 

IMG_3621Angela Carter, The bloody chamber

I have read a lot of Angela Carter, but surprisingly not this version. As usual it is fantastic, dark and twisted. Right up my street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Version 2The Lie Tree. Francis Hardinge

Winner of the Costa book award in 2015, this was a fantastic YA read, with a strong female lead, who wants to be a natural scientist in an [alternative] Victorian England. It focuses on evolution, especially linked to religion and the threat it poses to established doctrine. The story is fast paced and deeply enjoyable and I really didn’t foresee how the book would end.

All of the links today are affiliate links

If you are a freelancer or are thinking of becoming one, get my freelancer's guide. It is full of things to think about, how to run your business, looking after yourself and the tools I use. Like my blog it is straight talking! More info

You can also sign up to my Newsletter

Being outdoors

Getting outdoors!Being outdoors is vital to me, I genuinely think I wouldn’t be as well as I would if I didn’t get outdoors. It’s kept me moving and walking on a daily basis, even when I am struggling with my health. I may have to use a wheelchair in town and on hard surfaces, but outdoors, on soft ground I can walk fairly well. And that is oh, so important to me.

Being outdoors heals me, feeds me and allows my brain time to decompress, compost and develop new creative ideas.

Get outdoors

Looking for the small, beautiful things each and every day makes me happy and gives me vast amounts of joy. Searching for the small things means I am rooted in the here and now, rather than letting my mind run away all the things I MUST do, or how my life SHOULD be happening.

The outdoors is such a blessing for us all, I love it.

 

 

This blog post is an entry for the ‘take me outdoors with the #cscollective’ competition for @canopyandstars

If you are a freelancer or are thinking of becoming one, get my freelancer's guide. It is full of things to think about, how to run your business, looking after yourself and the tools I use. Like my blog it is straight talking! More info

You can also sign up to my Newsletter

#AprilLove 2016 Dear change

The only thing that doesn’t

The only thing that doesn’t change
is that there is always change.
But that’s a good thingWithout change life is
stagnant,dying, dead.
Change is fresh energy

Flowing through life
demanding growth.
Change is fresh
Growth and
Goodness.

This is part of the April Love project
If you are a freelancer or are thinking of becoming one, get my freelancer's guide. It is full of things to think about, how to run your business, looking after yourself and the tools I use. Like my blog it is straight talking! More info

You can also sign up to my Newsletter

Making conducting accessible to all…

 

CDW-ProjectLogo

I’m really proud and excited to be involved as the project evaluator for the James Rose conducting development week at the Royal Academy of Music.

This project is focusing on ways of making conducting accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability or disability.

As you know, I suffer from an often invisible disability which does impact on my playing, so I am delighted to be involved in this project.

I will be in a room for five days next week working with James, the Head of Conducting from Royal Academy of Music and four musicians each day. From a very personal level I am excited as to how this will improve my own practice!

James’ outcome for this project will be focusing on:

·      Detailed collaborative analysis of relationship between players ‘reading’ intentions & movements

·      Developing gestures & approaches for conducting

·      To share learning with a wider audience

·      Documenting rehearsal process

·      Network as a ‘recognised fellow musician’

·      Scope out potential future activities

·      Promote diversity & inclusion

·      Number of participants involved

I will be responsible for tracking each of these objectives and measuring them. Obviously this isn’t a straight forward tick box assessment, there has been a lot of time creatively thinking up ways to measure this and I will be live tweeting for James next week and I will be covering this on my Instagram too.

If you would like to observe the rehearsal week, or the final performance you are more than welcome to, please email me on jen AT jenfarrant DOT com and I will arrange this.

You can read James’ blog about this project on Disability Arts Online. 

 

 

If you are a freelancer or are thinking of becoming one, get my freelancer's guide. It is full of things to think about, how to run your business, looking after yourself and the tools I use. Like my blog it is straight talking! More info

You can also sign up to my Newsletter

#aprillove2016 Dear reflection

0001-223001967

There’s a ghost there
A shadow of her former self
Grey of face and of hair
The reflection has faded over time.

substance…substance-less…smoke.

Less true, less real,
The grey transmuting to a level
Of transparency.
Solidity fading to a distinct lack of
Realness, personhood or being.

substance…substance-less…smoke.

Not just a lessening of vitality,
A lack of vibrancy, but robbed of
The innate strength of self
The soul fading, slipping away,
Leaving a ghostly husk,
a insubstational reflection
of who she once was

substance…substance-less…smoke.

 

This is part of the April Love project

If you are a freelancer or are thinking of becoming one, get my freelancer's guide. It is full of things to think about, how to run your business, looking after yourself and the tools I use. Like my blog it is straight talking! More info

You can also sign up to my Newsletter

#aprillove2016 Dear Kindness

Dear Kindness

 

Like a soft silk scarf
Flowing through the world
until it catches
on a thistle, splinter, jagged edge.

Threads are pulled, marring
the gentle weave, leaving
an indelible mark, a rough spot
staining the smooth.

Easing the splinters,
softening jagged edges, flattening the weave
and picking out the burrs, kindness flows,
leaving the soul to flourish and finding its way.

Perhaps it’s the most important
thing in the world, kindness, gently spoken
or thought, easing the world’s
hardness, sharpness and pain.

This is part of the April Love Letters project.

If you are a freelancer or are thinking of becoming one, get my freelancer's guide. It is full of things to think about, how to run your business, looking after yourself and the tools I use. Like my blog it is straight talking! More info

You can also sign up to my Newsletter

#AprilLove2016 Dear legs

Dear legs.

It’s not so long ago that we were literally running around the place, doing adventure races through London, horse jump courses at night and the Olympic mountain bike course. You were so strong and bringing me huge amounts of adrenaline through racing, running half marathons, training for a full marathon and doing triathlons too.

Copy of Dear Legs, you have taught me so much- patience, kindness and focusing on the tiny thing s in the day

Then things started to go so wrong, but I kept going. You started to fail until one scary day you refused to work at all. I literally could not take another step. Someone had to go and find me a wheelchair to get me back to the office.

I had taken you for granted for so long, abused and pushed you and you weren’t taking it any longer. This caused a serious identity crisis….not least because along with you failing all of my energy seemed to have disappeared and I was in constant, unrelenting pain across my whole body.

It took a huge amount of swallowing my pride and fighting to get a decent wheelchair, and then fighting even harder to get rehab.

I remember going to a park and taking forever to stagger, with two crutches to the first bench. And then resting for half an hour and doing it all again. Over time building up to making it a quarter of the way to the next bench and turning around again. Over the course of six months going from bench to bench around the whole park. And then the day when I could skip a bench and keep going onto the next one.

You have taught me infinite patience and kindness to myself. There was no space for that in my old life where we were literally running around all over the place. This has been a hard lesson, but one that was desperately needed.

Now, after over a year of steady, patient, continuous rehab, physio, yoga, swimming and gentle walking I can rely on you again for the most part.

I am able to venue out into the woods, and I take so much pleasure from this. I search for the tiny things, the minuscule changes from one day to the next as the seasons change.

And of course, this is the secret to a good life. Paying attention to the tiniest of things, actively searching for things to take delight and joy from. The light in the day.

We have to focus on this present moment.

It is so difficult to stay present, there are so many calls on our time, but we must stay here. We might not be able to see it tomorrow, we might not be able to venture here again.

Legs, I have worked so hard to get you to the point where I can trust you where you won’t just give way or refuse to work and leave me stranded.

Yes, I’m still kind to you and use a wheelchair if I am going to be out at an event all day long, or if I am heading to a museum or gallery. You really do not like standing still at all, buckling and complaining. You don’t cope at all well with hard, unforgiving surfaces, or having to be on the move all day long. But I know this and can work with it.

The most important thing is heading out to nature together, with Buster, looking for the small things to take pleasure in.

So, legs, thank you for the lessons you have taught me, they have been painful to learn. But let’s face it, I probably wasn’t going to learn any other way.

Love Jen

This is part of the April Love Letters project.

If you are a freelancer or are thinking of becoming one, get my freelancer's guide. It is full of things to think about, how to run your business, looking after yourself and the tools I use. Like my blog it is straight talking! More info

You can also sign up to my Newsletter

#AprilLove2016 Dear Shadows

#AprilLove2016KnowingTheLight.com-3

Too many shadows crowding
Out my life – remnants of
Past mistakes, poor choices.
Shadows casting misery over
My life for too long.

Stepped into the light, a
Strong bright light, burning
Away all the darkness
Leaving me cleansed and healed.
Fleeing from shadows no more.

This is part of the April Love Letters project.

If you are a freelancer or are thinking of becoming one, get my freelancer's guide. It is full of things to think about, how to run your business, looking after yourself and the tools I use. Like my blog it is straight talking! More info

You can also sign up to my Newsletter