“Say­ing yes to chal­lenges has changed my life”

Diva (UK) - - | Welcome | Contents - @heatherpeace

I’ve had busy weeks. But this one just past has to be the most bril­liantly bonkers- busy week yet.

It all started with a nice, gen­tle re­hearsal week with my gui­tarist Michael, in prepa­ra­tion for four dates I had booked in when I was newly preg­nant. I knew I’d be tak­ing some time out after the birth of the twins and so I wanted to put on a few shows be­fore. But you see, no- one re­ally tells you what it’s like be­ing preg­nant. I think there’s a con­spir­acy to play it down, oth­er­wise NO ONE WOULD DO IT.

Some women are nat­u­rals. “I loved be­ing preg­nant.” “It was the best time of my life.” “I felt like Earth mother.” Re­ally? I just feel mas­sive. And un­able to breathe. I ache from the neck down. I al­most fall over when I get out of bed in the morn­ing, ei­ther from not hav­ing grasped the change in my cen­tre of grav­ity or from the in­tense numb­ness in the soles of my feet.

Bloom­ing? I’ve had a rash on my face, I’ve got an­kles like bal­loons and bags un­der my eyes the size of the ones you use at Ikea. I in­vol­un­tar­ily fall asleep ev­ery­where. Ex­cept at night, in bed. That’s when the twins go into party mode. In my tummy. After 11pm. Lov­ing life.

Once re­hearsals were fin­ished and I’d man­aged to find some­thing to wear for the gigs that didn’t make me look like a bar­rel, I spent the week­end with my wife El­lie and daugh­ter An­nie in quite a re­laxed man­ner. Come the Mon­day though, be­fore head­ing into Lon­don to pre­re­cord Ra­dio DIVA, I no­ticed that the aching around my ribs that I’d been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing over the week­end was ob­vi­ously from a speeded- up stretch­ing of my whole ab­domen.

In re­hearsals I’d been con­cerned at not be­ing able to touch my toes for the first time in my life. Now, two days later, look­ing down, I could no longer see my toes. Get­ting off the train at Lon­don Bridge, I wasn’t the first at the doors. I wob­bled along be­hind the other pas­sen­gers, just ahead of the guy with a bro­ken leg on crutches. I stood still on the es­ca­la­tors rather than speed­ing up on the left- hand side. I felt bom­barded by the com­muters walk­ing to­wards me at speed on the street. The heavy breath­ing that comes with the slight­est move­ment is also dis­con­cert­ing, as is the sud­den and des­per­ate need to pee. This isn’t for me. I am not a nat­u­ral preg­nant woman. This is a means to an end. And that’s ok. I just wish I’d met some­one who had told me all this so I didn’t feel like such a whin­ing weak­ling.

Maybe the women who love be­ing preg­nant en­joy the fact they have to slow down. Maybe they love hav­ing their bags lifted off the

train for them or the of­fer of a seat. Good­ness knows, all th­ese things are needed and I grate­fully ac­cept but it makes me feel quite help­less.

The ra­dio show passed with­out a hitch. On to Tues­day, when my first gig that week was in Liver­pool at the world- fa­mous Cav­ern Club. At the mo­ment, as much as I can hardly breathe at times, for some rea­son when I walk on stage I can sing just the same as al­ways. Adren­a­line maybe? Prob­a­bly, be­cause after the gig I was ex­hausted. It wasn’t un­til I got back to an empty ho­tel room some time after 11pm that I re­alised that the beer or wine I nor­mally drink after a gig helps me wind down from the high of be­ing on stage. Cut to me, still wide awake at 3am, after the twins had fin­ished their party.

Wed­nes­day meant a long but happy drive home with Michael, singing 80s clas­sics to pass the time and ar­riv­ing for soundcheck at the Ko­me­dia in Brighton, bang on time as El­lie and An­nie turned up to watch. It was the first time An­nie had seen me at a venue. As the mu­sic blared she picked up a tam­bourine and joined me on the stage danc­ing around in her lit­tle la­dy­bird ear de­fend­ers. It was pure magic.

I had a fan­tas­tic gig in Brighton but another in­ter­rupted night’s sleep, un­able to re­lax after the event and feel­ing the ex­pan­sion once more of my al­ready- huge belly.

Thurs­day, I was tired. I had that funny un­der- the- skin sore­ness in my face that meant I hadn’t slept enough. To­day was DIVA magazine’s 250th Is­sue Awards bash. I was both up for an award and due to per­form. It was only a 15- minute per­for­mance so I knew I could do it. There was just the small mat­ter of get­ting my pi­ano across Lon­don’s Vic­to­ria sta­tion con­course.

I’d done it plenty of times be­fore but it’s in­cred­i­ble how hav­ing no stom­ach mus­cles any­more means I am now a com­plete weak­ling. I must have stopped 10 times be­fore an ab­so­lute gent in­sisted he dragged the bloom­ing thing to the taxi rank for me. I grate­fully ac­cepted but se­cretly couldn’t wait till the day I could be self- suf­fi­cient once more.

The DIVA 250 Awards party was awe­some. The glam­orous Cafe de Paris was packed and buzzing. Cham­pagne flowed. I sipped my fizzy wa­ter. The cat­e­gory I was nom­i­nated for came up: In­spi­ra­tional Role Model of the Year 2017. My name was an­nounced and I nearly choked on my wa­ter. Pop hero­ine Ali­son Moyet gave me my award and I was ab­so­lutely stoked.

Be­fore I left the stage, I checked with Ali­son that she was still up for com­ing to my house the fol­low­ing morn­ing for an in­ter­view over cof­fee that I was record­ing for the fol­low­ing week’s ra­dio show. She was. After my per­for­mance, the won­der­ful peeps at DIVA in­sisted on putting me in a car home, hav­ing not re­alised the size of the pi­ano I had dragged all the way to Cafe de Paris. They gen­tly ticked me off for not hav­ing said some­thing be­fore. Sweet.

The next day, Fri­day, there was Ali­son. In her beanie hat, on my doorstep, ready for a chat. We did the in­ter­view which was just a joy, she left and I sat down, ex­hausted but reel­ing from an ex­cit­ing week. And here I am now, writ­ing this. I’ve got two gigs to go, to­mor­row and Wed­nes­day and then I stop.

I know most will think I’ve done too much for a preg­nant per­son this last week but I know I took it a lot slower than I would usu­ally. Your body won’t al­low you to go above the speed it’s able to. And my body knows it’s nearly time to stop.

I guess I’m writ­ing this be­cause this week was a real in­sight into what it is to say “yes” to op­por­tu­ni­ties that come your way, how­ever scary they may seem. Of not block­ing things be­cause they seem a bit out of your com­fort zone.

Once upon a time, I was ner­vous about tak­ing a job that meant I would have to be very vis­i­bly out and proud. But I said yes. Even though I asked her first, I was ner­vous when El­lie first asked me to go to din­ner. I said yes. I was ter­ri­fied when she talked about kids. Once I re­alised I could do it, I said yes. I said yes to tak­ing a risk with my mu­sic and throw­ing ev­ery­thing I had at it. I said yes when pub­lisher Linda Ri­ley ap­proached me and asked me to write for this magazine. I said yes to host­ing the ra­dio show that went with it. The ra­dio show that means I get to in­ter­view the likes of Ali­son Moyet.

This week has been in­cred­i­ble to look back on be­cause it was a small win­dow into ev­ery­thing pos­i­tive that’s hap­pened in my life be­cause I took a risk and said “yes”.

I was stoked when pop hero­ine Ali­son Moyet gave me my DIVA Award for Role Model of the Year

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