Tag Archives: Life

What? You want it harder…!?

OK, first things first. I think some apologies are in order. It’s been a teeny bit of time since I last posted…alright, alright. It was April. But much has happened since then. Well, actually, literally nothing has happened since then. Thanks to my current toe-to-toe with evil Count Fatigue, I’ve been mostly sleeping. Or sitting. Or sleeping some more. And whilst I’m sure some of you would find my warbling on about having less energy than a Duracell bunny fitted with non-branded eco batteries powered by rainbows and yeti dandruff highly entertaining (you weird lot!), I’ve been too flippin’ knackered. Even writing that little lot has me reaching for the Lucozade Sport! So April and May slipped by without a new “something”. Aww :(. But there was no need to be concerned, silly reader :). It’s me, remember? OCD, forward planning; it’s kinda my thing, yeah? So you must have known I’d have some of my “somethings” already booked in, sofa-dwelling mollusc status or not? No? Oh, silly reader indeed! Well I had got my June thing already booked in, months ago. One that I’ve been looking forward to since I first decided to do the “somethings”.  And one, as it would turn out, was pretty ideally timed, given my under-the-weather-ness.

March was the last time I dipped my toe into a “something”, nerding it out (and breaking my brain!) with some creative JavaScripting. You remember that, right? It was hard! So my grey matter needed some rest. Some time to recuperate. And having been poorly over the past few weeks, so did the rest of me. Admittedly, all this sitting about and sleeping probably sounds like more than enough rest, but being ill is kind of annoying! I wanna do what I wanna do, thanks very much body, so snap out of it already! It’s getting old pretty quick. And whilst I’m often to be found moaning about having to go running or how hard yoga was last night, six weeks on the sofa-sidelines has made me a tad grumpy. Ok, very grumpy. Add that to the frustration of actually being ill, and there you have it; one stressed out Cups :(. I’m being told to rest, to take it easy. But all this resting is doing my head in! And the vicious cycle continues… Sigh. I needed to look after myself, sure. But I needed to eliminate the stress. I needed to relax. And as luck (and a bit of my awesome forward planning) would have it, I was just about to be very relaxed indeed…

One familiar train ride, followed by a magical mystery tour round the back streets of the Ton (with the friendliest bus driver ever!), and the wheeziest of walks up a piddling incline of a hill – seriously fitness levels, where have you gone?! – and I’d arrived, first naturally, for a day of learning, laughing, laying down and lubricating. Yup, get excited people. I was about to learn the art of… body massage!

I have been ridiculously excited about this since I booked it up a few months back. I’ve wanted to take a course for years. And I love a good massage (who doesn’t, right?! ). Weirdly though, I’ve only ever had a professional one once. I’m not sure why that is exactly. I don’t have an issue with strangers touching me without so much as a how do you do. You know, in a massagey way (honestly, minds in the gutter much!). Which was lucky, given that the next 6 hours was gonna revolve around several strangers touching me, with oils and everything. It was gonna be an interesting day :).

The course, an Introduction to Body Massage, run by Brighton based College of Classical Massage, and taught on the day by the excellent Mike, was brilliant! The set up for the day is great. Once you have partnered up, you are taught the techniques for three types of massage during the course of the day – back, face and feet – which you do directly onto your partner (you know, the person you just met about 30 minutes ago, who’s probably already forgotten your name, and who’s naked skin you’re manipulating with grapeseed oil), following the visual and verbal instructions being given by the teacher. After a few minutes, any awkwardness is gone as you concentrate on the movements and the pressure, and your lucky partner enjoys their massage! And after you’re done learning the technique, you switch places and get an awesome massage yourself! WIN!

My classroom for the day…
“Now, get your clothes off and let me prod at you”.

Nine other excited, and slightly nervous looking people, arrived – my massage buddies for the day –  ready to get on tables, get naked and get rubbed up (hopefully not the wrong way) by people they’d barely spent 30 minutes with. Now there’s an ice-breaker for you! “Hi, I’m Paula”. “Hi, I’m Davina” “Now, get your clothes off so I can start poking at you”. It all could have been very awkward, but our teacher Mike has done this before, with countless groups of strangers, and he’s definitely mastered the technique of putting people at ease quickly :). Attending on my own, I was a little anxious about how the partnering up would work. Would they be assigned, like a lab partner in a science lesson? Would the cool kids in the class get to pick who they wanted, leaving the scrawniest, palest kid (that’d be me then) to be the boobie prize? Nah. Half the class were people on their own, and I was lucky. I got chatting to super cool Davina over tea and biscuits, discussing the possibilities of massage and hypnotherapy as a combined force – Me: “Imagine if you did them together. I’d massage them into a coma, nick their wallet, and then plant a trigger word into them, making them drop to their knees and bark like a dog every time they heard the word ‘kumquat’. It’d be hilarious!'”. Davina: “Yeah, I’m pretty sure you’d be struck off for that… and remind me never to come to you for a massage!” –  and after that, she still wanted to team up with me (glutton for punishment much) for lesson one – the back massage.

Davina took to the table, putting her back in my exceedingly cold (sorry!) hands and off we went. Me, watching Mike’s instruction and attempting to recreate them without cracking bones or putting muscles into spasm, and Davina, drifting off into a relaxed stupor, with only my descriptions of my ridiculous Tai-Chi looking dance moves to get the right angle and movement for the various strokes and my hair-dresser toned inquiries of “is the pressure ok for you?” harshing her massage buzz. After 35 minutes, my first massage was complete. And, how was it? Well, as the ‘Practioner’ I really enjoyed it, and thought it had gone well. No bruises, no death screams. But what about my guinea pig? Had she survived intact, still able to move her spine and supporting limbs? Why, yes she had! And apparently, it was really rather good :). I took the fact that she felt a little woozy upon sitting up as a good thing; that what I’d done had been so relaxing as to have knocked her equilibrium out of kilter for a couple of minutes (and not that I had accidentally given her the sleeper hold whilst massaging her neck…). So now it was my turn for the table. Off with some clothes, on with some towels and relaxation in 3, 2, 1… GO! And. It. Was. Awesome! I was so relaxed at one point I think I was drooling. Yup, there’s a lovely mental picture for you right there! Having just practised the same techniques that were now being carried out on me, it was cool to feel the difference between how it felt doing them on someone to how it felt having them done on you. The actual sensation didn’t always match what I had thought they would feel like when I was doing them, which I found really interesting. Regardless, it all still felt pretty awesome :). After lunch, we swapped partners for the the remaining lessons – face and feet – and more awesomeness was had by all. I managed to send my face partner to sleep with my silky massage skills, and successfully got through an amazing foot massage without kicking my partner in the face once (I have extremely ticklish feet you see). 6 hours of excellent teaching, great people, lots of laughing, new skills bagged up and ready to use, AND three massages! Now that’s what I call a good day :).

I am, however, now anticipating suddenly become very popular with my friends and family. Out of nowhere it’ll become apparent that they haven’t seen me in ages, and that they desperately need to ‘pop round’ or ‘catch up’.  Yeah, yeah. I’m on to your shenanigans you lot. You wanna see me? Fine. It’s been such a long time, hasn’t it? Sure. Ohhhh, and you’ve been a little bit stressed lately have you? You’ve got quite a lot of tension in your shoulders you say? Would I mind, just for 30 minutes or so…? Oh no. I wouldn’t mind. I wouldn’t mind a bit. Come straight over. Just leave your wallet on the side. Oh, and afterwards, can you go to the supermarket for me? I need ‘kumquats’… 😉

Hide the tools

Out again? On a school night? Tsk-tsk. This is getting to be a bit of a habit isn’t it. But what a fun one! Was stretching my muscles again, but this time my body got a respite as it was my creative sinews that were getting the workout. Let’s face, it was long overdue. And boy did I feel the burn…

So last nights activity of choice was…? Jewellery making at a local jewellery school, using a super awesome material called Metal Clay! It starts off as regular looking clay, but after a few simple steps (and a bit of heat) it turns into copper or silver right in front of your eyes! It’s magic! I intended to take some pics of the process, but got so caught up in what I was doing, I totally forgot to! Rookie error :(.

I went to the class well prepared – c’mon, you can’t be surprised about this by now – as the course details had explained we’d be making stuff to “our own design”. I took that to mean that I needed to have my design worked out beforehand. Turn’s out that’s not what was meant. So a week’s worth of head scratching and pencil sucking wasted then. Oh well :). My page of creations did lead the teacher to (wrongly) assume I had my own kiln though, which I found hilarious! Me?! With a kiln?! Oh man, that would be some kind of disaster!

I joined five others on the night, all equally excited about the treasure trove of shiny wonderments adorning the walls and shelves of our classroom. Our jewellery guru Julie was a brilliant teacher, enthusiastic and passionate, which always makes for a great course. She did have to calm us down once or twice when we were getting a little too excited. And when I say ‘us’ I of course mean ‘me’. Oops! After the introductions, and the ‘science bit’, we were all itching to get our hands on our clay. I’d upgraded from the standard Copper Metal Clay to the even shinier Precious Metal Clay, so that the piece I designed would be in hallmark quality silver. It wasn’t much more expensive to do this, and I’m glad I did. I prefer silver jewellery, the process is quicker (silver doesn’t take as long to fire as copper does) and I wanted to take my piece home with me that night. None of this waiting around malarkey for me thanks. I’d paid, I’d made, I was taking it :).

Talking done, it was time to get making! We chose our design plates – one for the front and the back – and our shape cutters, and then dived into our clay (not literally of course). Most of the class chose to use the same shape cutter. Not me though. I’m an individual. I refused to pander to the establishment’s idea of the norm. Up the rebels! That and my design didn’t really work with their silly shape :). So, clay out, tools at the ready and into the creating we went, with gusto! Prepping and rolling first, then onto pressing our design plates into the clay and cutting it to shape. Then a little down time as our pieces were sent to a food dehydrator to dry (we filled this time talking about cake; wonder who brought that subject up…?). Once dried, it was time to sand down the edges and hand drill a hole ready for the chain/hook stage later. And yes, they let me loose with a hand drill – the fools! It’s ok, no injuries were sustained, and all fingers are still in tact :). Now it was firing time! Into the kiln our masterpieces went and, 10 minutes later, out popped the PMC ones, ready for refining. When fired, silver clay turns white, and you’re meant to brush off all the white residue to reveal the super shiny silver below. But I really liked the white finish, so I decided to leave it as it was, just buffing the raised parts of my design with a copper brush and burnisher, to reveal a hint of the sparkle beneath. And here it is, my first entirely handmade piece:

I’m so pleased with how it turned out :D. It’s hard to believe that only a few hours before it had just been a boring squidgy bit of clay. Now look at it; all shiny and gorgeous. And I made it myself! How cool is that?! Julie had warned us at the start of the class that working with Metal Clay can be totally addictive, and I have to say, I completely agree! I’ve already picked her brains about how I can make my hand-drawn designs a reality, and warned her that my stupid face may well be popping up in some more of her classes soon. She looked quite relaxed about that, but did say she might hide some of the more “advanced” tools away, just in case I got a little too carried away. Me? Carried away? Now that doesn’t sound like me at all… :).