Ju recently left her profession as a social worker and university teacher having taken time out to care for her mum, She is an established singer/songwriter, published poet and painter whose past experiences range from winning The James Herbert Special Illustrators Award (culminating in a group exhibition in Londons' Covent Garden opened by Sir David Attenborough) to a Princes Trust exhibition for HRH Prince of Wales.
Ju has now returned to her first love of writing and performance. In 2016 she was a finalist of the national Open Mic competition, performing to key industry representatives and playing twice at Birminghams National Exhibition Centre.
Ju draws inspiration from daily life and describes herself as a woman simply looking for the bridge that will enable an inclusive and respectful acceptance of each other.
Photography by kind permission of Planet Ruth,Beth McAuley and Jayne Williams.
Posted on 03/02/2018 01:21PM | 0 Comment(s)
Don’t judge my story by the chapter you walked in on.
It’s coming up to Mothers Day and to the anniversary of my own Mums passing. With hand on heart I can say that I would walk those nine years of caring with her again in a heartbeat but equally I am thankful that the cruelty and distress in relation to dementia is no longer her nightmare. Life has certainly taken some twists and turns over recent years but I shall always covet the precious and unique years spent with just Mum and I, rolling along together after my lovely Dad died nearly thirty years ago. The laughter is a wonderful memory, the adventures a cherished gift.
I never dreamt that I should marry at 52 and that my beautiful wife and best friend would walk beside us in those last months, carrying us both, we are strong and defiant in the face of adversity. I have learned so much about life and value and worth and personal narrative and I look forward in the future to sharing some of those aspects through my music, songwriting, painting and story telling.
Experiencing mental health crisis has been a humbling and levelling journey and one I am grateful to have walked through and survived well in, not least because before my own crisis I was a professional practitioner in the field of adult vulnerability.I am mindful of those who are still living that truth today, we are all at different stages of the journey. It sometimes appears easy for others who don’t know you to make a judgement based on those words, “mental ill health”….as people we can kid ourselves that we are indestructible, that it will never happen to us, but depression does not discriminate, we all walk the fine line wether aware of it or not. Perhaps we can dare to believe that the stigma has gone but the reality, although often covered with a veneer of concern, is still occasionally borne out of snap judgement or reactive fear rather than personal engagement and dialogue. It may be trendy to talk about mental health but the realities of reengaging after mental ill health is a bigger wall to scale with dubious graffiti that offers just enough to warrant a twitter endorsement but not sufficient to wear the colours as a true advocate.
It is worth remembering that we are all fragile at times, fragility isn’t failure it’s human and inevitable. It takes just as much energy to reach out a hand as it does to pull your hand away but the outcome is far more humane and kind and endorsing, it’s what we exist for.
Not all that long ago I was standing in a lecture theatre on a daily basis (after 20 years of being a practitioner )teaching students at all levels from undergrad to post qualifying on theories of discrimination and disability and the applied law that was relevant to practice with people who were experiencing mental ill health. My own life was spent juggling caring, supporting students, safeguarding vulnerable people, writing, studying, thriving. It was a rich life, a life that I valued and a life that I gave my best to. I lived comfortably in a country cottage with roses round the door and rescued animals all around, the idyll. Then I moved back to my childhood home to care for my mum and ten years later I found myself with an empty tank on the streets of London.
Those lovely people who were there in the wings to support my recovery spoke of it then as emotional exhaustion, burn out. When we need to be, we are strong and resilient and fierce advocates for those we love and as a carer for nine years that was 24 hours a day, fighting bureaucracy, taking steps to address injustices, winning battles , slowly watching my beautiful mum ebb away, crying for me in the night, crying for me in the day, needing help with all things we take for granted that keep our dignity and our wellbeing intact, feeding, clothing, moving, lifting, holding, reassuring, protecting, keeping promises. When my nine year shift was over, after a year of being entirely focussed upon those needs, the air that I breathed ran out and my world crumbled in trying to make that adjustment, my Mum had gone, my job had ended and I was unable to even tie my own shoe laces.
As someone who is now well and self aware and resilient and thankful, I look forward in the coming months to elaborating on that journey, the journey that so many of us take and yet so few of us truly own. We are survivors, we deserve to be kind to ourselves.
We have learned what is valuable and what is dispensable, during a recent trip to London we had to borrow money for a new jacket and the garage that had our broken down vehicle in it let us have it back before paying, that isn’t a self piteous statement because we have so very much more than many, it is merely a recognition that times change, we adapt, we move forward, we come through, we survive.
For a tiny fraction of my life last year I was a missing person, but you cannot be a missing person unless somebody misses you. Going missing does not define you, it is a moment in time. I now know that I disappeared inside my mind far sooner than when I took that final step to leave. Leaving was the culmination of lostness, the symbolic act that finally made sense, the only thing that made sense, it was beyond a crisis, the chaos had been and reeked havoc and left the after shock, it was in the aftershock that a strange sense of calm ensued, after months of inertia, a moment of clarity, the missing moment when the subconscious met the conscious mind and acted upon it, when the fight met the flight and the wings spread, when the edge was as clear as day and the precipice was the void of not knowing, not caring, not being anymore. I left with the clothes on my back and a few photos of my parents and wife.
It’s ten months since I returned home and only one month after returning I walked back to London from our home, 183 miles, for Missing People charity. It was a personal pilgrimage a time to find my voice again and a new beginning, acknowledging that others are still missing and thanking those who had helped me to return. I look forward in the future to sharing more, to singing more and to writing more, hold on, we’re in this together, with love, Ju x
Posted on 03/04/2017 08:00AM | 0 Comment(s)
What an absolute gift to play this beautiful Steinway Grand Piano at Stafford's Gatehouse Theatre on Wednesday and Thursday evening. The children taking part sang their hearts out and it moved me to tears to be honest.Stephen Glover the organiser of Schools Gotta Sing produces such a lovely concert, a real community event. Thank you for letting me be a tiny part of it and sending love to everyone who took part x
Posted on 12/17/2016 08:31AM | 0 Comment(s)
Well, it's been a while, I took precious time out to care for my dear mum who sadly died in March, she would be thrilled to know that I am now playing and writing again and thank you so much to the 32,000 plus people who have taken the time to check out this website and to encourage me in the creative process. I have taken time out from my profession of social work and am looking forward to writing the new acoustic album and to getting out and sharing that too! Working as a casual technician at the local theatre is a lovely way of keeping in touch with performance and live shows and nice to be on the other side of the curtain too.
Had a lovely gig last night at the local Springslade Lodge and again tonight. A warm, welcoming group of people, a pleasure to be there and if you are reading this, thank you!
Wishing you all a peaceful and restful Christmas time and I look forward to meeting up with you in 2017
Posted on 01/21/2016 02:45PM | 0 Comment(s)
So lovely to have been invited as a guest singer at Celebration of Music event Stafford Gatehouse 29th Feb, 2nd, 3rd, 4th March where school choirs shall be performing to anticipated full houses. A theatre filled with singing children and the opportunity to perform with a grand piano, how special is that? I shall be singing 'Kindness of Strangers' the song written for mum and a line in the song goes; "listen, put your ears to the ground and listen you can hear the sound of a thousand children singing in the street"...indeed xxx
Posted on 01/17/2016 11:54AM | 0 Comment(s)
Hi, I wonder if I could ask a favour of my Facebook friends please? Some of you may know that I have been fortunate to make the Open Mic UK Final at the NEC next Saturday. The national text voting has gone live today. If you enjoy my music could I ask you to text OPEN67 to the number 84222 and to share with your friends and family to do the same? It's been a really good experience for me doing this, boosting confidence and getting me writing again, playing to such a big audience has been lovely, would love to do more of it and your vote is much appreciated. Thanks so much, Ju xxxx
Posted on 11/17/2015 10:42PM | 0 Comment(s)
Thrilled to have made it through to the Open Mic UK National Final, it has been a really good, encourageing experience and I have met some lovely people. After years of playing against a backdrop of raffle prizes and rugby club balls (don't get me wrong, it's all got it's value) but to play to a listening audience has been such a gift with the opportunity to hone my craft of songwriting and performing having written two songs especially for the competition. There is so much to learn about and amidst it all I know one thing for certain, the only time I feel whole and complete is on that stage and my hope now is that it can continue. It's a serious job to be entrusted with an audience who take the time to listen and with alot of hard work and the guidance of people who know their profession, I want to get better.
Posted on 01/01/2015 06:07PM | 0 Comment(s)
Wishing you all a Happy New Year and thanking everyone for your support with the music, all twenty three thousand of you!! Watch this space for new acoustic album in 2015. Stay safe, Ju x
Posted on 12/16/2013 06:45PM | 0 Comment(s)
Hi, today we are celebrating over sixteen thousand hits on the website. Thank you to those who have supported me this year, I look forward to sharing some new songs with you in 2014. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing this festive season, go well and take care of each other, Ju xx
Posted on 05/29/2013 01:27AM | 0 Comment(s)
Lovely to hear that the album has been played during show interval at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre :)
Posted on 04/12/2013 12:32PM | 0 Comment(s)
Can't quite believe that there have been over 12,000 hits on the website, thanks so much for showing such an interest in the music, hoping to begin work on acoustic album soon and to get out and play some tunes. Saw the amazing Feast of Fiddles at Lichfield Cathedral last night and the ever lovely Tom Leary who worked his magic on The Hill. Heard the most beautiful song not yet recorded by Peter knight, "from a lullaby kiss"………beautiful! Sometimes you can feel as if you belong to a big folk family,not on the parameter fence but included and valued, Feast of Fiddles have that gift of inclusivity despite their collective and individual expertise and profile. Keep on keeping on and I'll catch you soon, Ju x