Lessons in love from Adele

When I read about Adele ‘quitting music for love’ I felt an array of mixed emotions.  A part of me admired her putting her personal life first and at the very height of her career when she is clearly the darling of the moment worldwide.  However, another slightly louder part of me was screaming ‘what the hell are you doing girl??  For a man?? Giving up your dream??? Are you mad?  I did calm down and on reflection came to a more balanced but equally divided point of view and I had to explore my initial violent gut reaction:  There are the obvious reasons, I’m more than unlucky in love and clearly not designed for relationships with the opposite sex in most capacities.  Furthermore, I’ve always been fiercely independent and refused to give up my entire life just because I happen to be in a relationship.  It used to really concern me – ok totally freak me out – when I would see girls drop their girlfriends, personal pursuits and individual interests as soon as they found a man. This is destructive on so many levels:  Not only do you lose your identity not to mention your friends, but this relentless pouring into said man usually scares them off and in my experience guys actually like girlfriends to have their own separate interests at times for the purposes of space and toning down the intensity levels.  By nature I think women go in for things with both feet at full force with unswerving commitment but, relationships don’t have to be all consuming.  I’m not sure anything that is all consuming of our energy, time, emotions and self is healthy be it a relationship, a career or a hobby.  There is room in our lives for more than one ‘important’ thing and the variety can often not only add spice to the other but also, compliment and strengthen it.  For example, I love being a mum but by making time for other things rather than immersing myself only in my parent role I believe I do better in my role as a mother.

I guess with regards to Adele, if her dream is the man, then she is merely pursuing her true dream of love rather than abandoning the other dream of her singing career.  However, I can’t help but feel there is room for both.  I genuinely admire her sacrifice and commitment for her partner as she admits ‘When I’m constantly working, my relationships fail’.  It’s a clear and true statement and she is showing a certain level of maturity in learning from past experience.  However, she talks about marriage and children and then coming back to music and I can’t help but think that will be the stage when the commitment and prioritizing of family will be even more important.  There is of course the very real option that, with her level of talent, she’ll be able to make a career from studio albums and not have to tour at all!  I guess what bothered me underneath my reaction was the possible example being set to women that once again we should give up everything good going for us and make huge personal sacrifices in order to keep a man.

Going back to the girls I described before, when their relationships broke down with the idolised man they found they had no friends and even worse no identity!  I just think until you’re sure they’re ‘the one’ (whatever that means and that’s a whole other blog post!) and will show they same sacrificial love and commitment to you then keep your sense of self ladies and keep those dreams alive – it makes you a whole lot more attractive in the process!

When worlds collide

So it was going to happen at some point – last night my two worlds (or maybe I should say two of my worlds) collided in public view!

I’m a singer as well as a mum and we had a gig at the ‘Real Food Harvest Festival’ outside the South Bank Centre.  The Bear-cub is usually in bed when I have a gig and mostly I arrive late for sound check having done make-up in the car on the way, squeezed in some ridiculously high-heels, and hope that none of the audience would guess less than an hour before I was singing ‘Wheels-on-the-bus’ and bargaining with my two-year old to get out of the bath!  However, on this occasion the gig was in the late afternoon and on the beautiful South Bank which I love both vibe and view.  So with toddler in tow I thought it would be nice for him to see mummy sing.  We’d been at a wedding the day before and he’d danced the night away in his kilt (a whole other blog!) so I’d assumed/hoped he’d do the same while we performed.  But, I should have remembered the rule – if you plan your day and especially for your little one to do something in particular they will of course sense it and do the complete opposite. What’s it called again? Ah, yes: Sod’s Law!!!!!

It had already been a crazy journey on the over-ground train to Waterloo with said toddler landing his plane on various strangers heads while mummy attempted to apply make up in order to make illusion/transformation from mum to professional singer! I’d already forgotten my Mac and Clinique make-up and all I could find was ‘Hello Kitty’ make-up – yes really – Hello Kitty make-up at a professional gig!  We arrived early and Bear-cub consumed an entire posh cup cake, ice cream and falafel in 15 minutes flat and all seemed to be going to plan.  Then it was our turn to perform and I placed Bear-cub with a friend and went to the stage informing friend casually over my shoulder, as I quickened my step, ‘He’ll be fine, he’ll start dancing once the music starts’. But no, how silly of me to think the juggling balls could stay in the air and impress/convince the general public that I was the ultimate literal all-singing-all-dancing-modern-mum!  Bear-cub instantly decided to have a meltdown screaming ‘I want to sing on stage with you mummy!’ and I knew it was one of those that could not be bargained away – besides I’d used up all my trump cards with cupcake and ice-cream all ready administered!

So the only option was to relent to bear-cub’s request and I performed a 40-minute set with my band holding my 2-year old’s hand on stage throughout!!!  To say I was slightly distracted during the show would be an understatement and at points I wondered if I was even singing in tune let alone singing the right words.  Bear-cub however, was in his element twisting and gyrating like a mini Justin (Timberlake, not Bieber or Fletcher) and we just about pulled it off.  There were of course a few a hairy moments when Bear-cub started holding his willy and I was expecting a puddle to appear on the stage at any moment.  But, no such disaster happened – I think he may have just been doing a Michael Jackson impression!  Another moment was when Bear-Cub decided to break-dance during the last track and attempt some kind of head-spin (no word of a lie) but I managed to grab the microphone stand, keep it from falling and keep smiling as if it was so sweet and planned and not stressful in the slightest.

What was interesting was seeing people’s reactions when they gathered round the stage to listen to us and spotted a pint-sized member of the group.  Some would laugh and point, some would push their kids to the front for a dance and some would frown.  My friend in the audience afterwards told me how she overheard one mum tut and comment to her husband how awful it was that I was ‘making’ my child stand on stage with me during a gig!! This mummy was either jealous, has a child who willingly complies to her every wish or simply has no sympathy for single parents who are still trying to live their dreams and still be a great mum – oh well! I still managed to get Bear-Cub home and in bed for 8pm, collapse on the sofa and celebrate with a rum and a coke.   The collision of two worlds, rather than being a disaster of global proportions, was merely unexpected fireworks that made some beautiful colours in my view – at least that’s what I’m telling myself!

Upstaged by a 2-year old!

Woman-to-Mum-to-Woman

When I was pregnant and read a million books on childbirth and such (and found out all the gross stuff that no one tells you) I remember reading a quote that said something like, ‘Two people are born during childbirth; a baby and a mother’.  That quote has stayed with me as it’s very true in many respects; you are a woman and then you become a mother which seems like something entirely different.  However, I actually feel we then need help to make the bigger transisiton back into a woman again at some point.  We will always be mothers once we have had children, even when they grow and leave us, but I think we have to make a special effort to be re-born again into a woman at some stage.  This is in order for us to have healthy and fulfilling relationships, careers, goals and many other areas of our lives.

Now, I know it is certainly not a cop out or an easy option to be a mum but it is sometimes something we can hide behind in order to not get round to doing things we know we should do, or deserve to do or even want to do because we’re too afraid to see if the new ‘mum’ self can still go there.  This is one of the reasons why I set up the ‘More than a woman/More than a mum’ Facebook group.  We are fully mums and fully women but we are also more than both.

On Tuesday 30th August my band, Sugarfoot, is launching our brand new e.p – ‘Taste‘.  I am so excited and so proud on so many levels.  This e.p has been a long labour of love for us.  It was started before my son was born (at least the writing of the songs was) and we have recorded over the last year through one of the toughest times in my life.  Before I became a mother I had a fear that when I did I would have to say goodbye to some of my dreams.  I like to do everything I do to my best ability and I just couldn’t see how I’d be able to do both.  To a large extent I was right – it’s bloody hard at times!  However, here we are about to launch our new e.p and it sounds great. Amazing in fact! It feels like a huge achievement.

On the night of the launch I know I will be feeling like ‘Tonight Matthew, I’m going to step back into my old life’ and I’ll be nervous wondering if I still ‘have it’ and probably feel like a bit of a fraud as well as wondering if there is any of my son’s dinner on my outfit! But, at least I will be there, trying to live the dream.  Ok, so life is not as glam as it used to be but with support from our friends and family, some self-belief and simply not settling for second best we can all realise we’re more than a mum and more than a woman!

If you want to help me celebrate this achievement and fancy seeing me strut my stuff and shake my thang, feel free to come to the gig on Tues 30th Aug 2011 at The Bedford, 77 Bedford Hill, Balham, London from 8pm.  Free entry and we’ll be selling the e.p for £5.

Is it worth it?

So I’m writing this while I’m still frustrated, slightly resentful, grumpy and definitely tired – after all I said I’d be totally honest on this journey!

Had my first gig in a while with our band, Sugarfoot, last night.  It was strange, uncomfortable and exhilarating stepping back into my ‘old’ life and attempting to make it real to my ‘current’ situation.  Lovely friends came out to support and boogie the night away and we played with some awesome musicians.  It was amusing to look out at myself strutting away like a diva knowing less than an hour before I was tucking my two year old in bed and singing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’.  All in all it was a successful gig and lots of fun but I couldn’t help mentally calculating how much sleep I might get as I drove home.  I crawled into bed around 1am and just as I was about to drop off to sleep about 15 minutes later I heard my son wake up.  He then proceeded to scream and ask me to ‘pat’ him to sleep (a bad habit I have the nursery to thank for) until 3.30am.

As I sat patting in the dark remembering how after previous gigs I’d still be dancng the night away I couldn’t help but ask myself ‘Is it worth it?’  So I’d had a good night possibly kidding myself I still ‘had it’ – my musical career had never really taken off as I’d hoped and dreamed – and now I was looking at less than 4 hours sleep and a demanding little boy the next morning!!! Was it worth it??  Three and a half hours later I heard a little voice calling for me and that was my night’s sleep over (anyone who knows me well knows the seriousness of less than 8 hours sleep for Loretta Fenton).  Was it worth it?

As I try to type this now as a therapeutic downloading and cooling off about the whole thing, my son is having a meltdown next to me because he wants to wtch planes on my lap top and wants me to stop working – Is it worth it?

I think so.

Probably.

I want it to be.

So, yes!

Who am I?

It’s funny how we change how we introduce ourselves depending on the audience.  For example, at home I’m a mum.  At work, a radio producer and presenter.  Often at weekends, a singer! sounds exciting doesn’t it?  Well actually it’s pretty exhausting and I often feel I’m not doing any of these things to my best ability.  In fact I can sometimes feel a bit of a fraud in each of the roles.

Singing was my ‘old’ life (the fact that I refer to it as my ‘old’ life says a lot!).  My son has just turned 2 and now when I gig I’m calculating how much sleep I’ll get by time I’m home before he wakes up – sometimes at 5.30am!  It can feel like I’m ‘playing’ at my old life. “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be a singer!” And my confidence has taken a huge hit in this area as a result.

At work I squeeze a week’s work into 3 days in the office and 1 day from home (with a toddler pestering me to look at planes on YouTube on my laptop and begging me to play cars).  On tired days all acting skills are summoned into play when live on air to deliver the cheery, carefree duty of a presenter.

At home, I’m just ‘mummy’.  ‘Just’ of course, does the role a disservice as this newest occupation has become my most life-transforming, mind-altering and important one I have ever encountered.  It dominates, or at least permeates, everything else I do or think. Yet, I still fear sometimes that it also suffers in my desire to retain a sense of self somehow.  However, there is no kidding myself (as I did during pregnancy) that this is undoubtedly the job I want to make the most success of.

The underlying failure of all this is that my son’s father and I split up when he was barely a year old and the bitter battle to extract oneself, move on and co-parent (ha!) ensues.

I’m starting this blog because I’m going to start taking back control of my life.  sorting myself out, recovering from life’s blows and get some healing along the way.  I want to feel worthy again.  To rediscover lost talents.  To believe they even exist.  To be a successful, inspiration to my son – not a battered, under-confident victim to circumstances.

I’ve dreamed of starting my own business for a long time and I’m going to turn this into a reality.

I am passionate about seeing people believe, and therefore achieve, their dreams.  everyone who knew me at healthier times knows this as I was always banging on about it.  I get such a thrill seeing others dare to delve into their secret dreams, the ones they long-buried in childhood, and then begin first to think it, then write it down, then speak it out loud, then believe it and finally live it!

But how can I do this for others if I don’t first do it for myself?  I believe every now and then you have to do something that scares you to remind yourself you’re alive and basically to give yourself a good kick up the bum!  So I’ve decided to report on my process and progress.  publically, online, warts and all!  The failures along with the successes, the embarrassments along with the triumphs.  I’m hoping I can encourage others along the way (especially mum’s who I have a particular heart for now) and anyone who wants to dare to dream.  I also hope to gain some valuable research along the way to aid my business ideas.

So if you’re in – interested in learning from my mistakes, watching me fall flat on my face or to gain a little inspiration – why not jump on for the ride and sign up to follow my progress.

Loretta

(A mum.  A woman.  A dreamer.)

xxx

The Mission

Hello!

First and foremost I am a woman and a mum. However, I am also a dreamer. A dreamer of big dreams. I’m passionate about inspiring people, women in particular (and especially mums) to achieve their dreams. And I want to turn my dreams into reality and help others to do the same in the process.

Currently I work as a radio producer and presenter. I am also a writer and a singer. Sounds glamourous and exciting doesn’t it? but, actually it’s all quite tiring. SO, my plan is to take control of my life and turn it into the life I want, the life I dream of and to be a good role model for my son. Once I get there, and along the way even, I aim to inspire and encourage other mumpreneurs to achieve their dreams!

If you’d like to join me on this journey, help me with some research and get some free advice along the way (as well as learn from my mistakes) then please do sign up to follow my progress.

Loretta x