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The Art of Disruption by Magid Magid

The Art of Disruption; a manifesto for real change is a book by Sheffield legend Magid Magid. “A Somali born, working class black muslim immigrant” who became the youngest ever Lord Mayor of Sheffield. A man who banned Donald Trump from the city and famously called him a wasteman… This book shares his commandments for living the best life and making the change in society you want to see.

The Art of Disruption book Magid Magid

Meeting Magid

When I first heard about Magid, I couldn’t help but smile. Seeing him as the Lord Mayor of Sheffield felt like a real change and an amazing representation of Sheffield, the city of Sanctuary.

I met Magid a few times, mainly through Tramlines, the festival that my husband was director for. The cover of his book was a huge billboard that was displayed in the festival site. It was such a clear and brilliant message that was so far away from the usual work of past Lord Mayors and I watched hundreds, if not thousands of festival goers get their selfie with the poster and heard so many stories of personal connections to Magid. That he had attended their events, met him in the street, that people had been inspired by him and the difference he had made to their lives, and I knew this was someone special.

Sam Timm Cleasby Magid Magid Tramlines

I bought the book as soon as I saw it was on pre-order (this isn’t a sponsored post, I bought the book and wasn’t asked to review it) and devoured it in a couple of days. Each of Magid’s commandments starts a chapter in the book where he goes into an explanation of his thoughts along with anecdotes of his life. From stories of hanging out on buses with elderly ladies in Doc Martin boots, to battles with council members, Magid shares intimate details of his life and how Sheffield has shaped him as a man.

Magid’s commandments

His commandments are;

  • Be kind
  • Don’t be a prick
  • Do epic shit
  • See the good
  • Don’t lose hope
  • Do it differently
  • Always buy your round
  • Don’t kiss a tory
  • Tell your ma you love her
  • You’ve got this!

It is a book filled with positivity, heart and a desire to change things for the good. I cried by page 20, felt sheer anger at the racism and hate filled messages that he received during his term as Lord Mayor and laughed till my belly hurt at some hilarious commentary (“People accuse me of tearing up tradition, but what is tradition, apart from peer pressure from dead people?”

But mainly, I finished the book feeling hope.

2020 is a year like no other, it is easy to feel that everything has gone to shit and that we are doomed. Between the news and social media, we are bombarded by negativity, fear and division. Yet Magid’s book brought out a hopeful and brighter side of me, it made me remember that there is so much good out there and the good need to work together for change through kindness.

He shares this quote.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King

Kindness

And in reading about the discrimination and outright racism he has faced and the way he dealt with this was a moment that made me sit back and take a moment. It is easy to react to bad situations with an equal force of anger or hurt, but Magid’s words of hope reminded me of the importance of compassion. Of how a positive reaction to the bad can change not only other people’s mindsets but changes how we unpack and deal with that difficult time.

He says

Kindness is bold, brave and politically radical; in both small gestures and wider structural policies, it has the power to change someone’s life – and to change the world.

Magid Magid

I have a couple of sayings here on my blog, I say ‘be kind, yo’ and sign off with the phrase ‘peace and love’. I truly believe that kindness will be the thing that changes the world. And it has been a journey to get here and a journey I still travel. I grew up believing you had to be the toughest, you had to show your worth through shouting the loudest and winning the argument. My go to state is often anger and the desire to show I am not weak. But I have learnt through my life that this isn’t the person I want to be. I don’t want to be the toughest or the alpha, I want to be the kindest, I want to be the person who others know is loyal and caring, I want to be someone who helps others, who makes a difference, who is open and warm and loving. This book reminded me that being the best isn’t about being the toughest, it is about being the kindest.

Sam Cleasby Timm Cleasby Magid Magid Glastonbury

Seeing the good

It is fair to say that I loved this book. This is a book that is about community, change and making a difference, no matter how small. It isn’t too wordy or pretentious, it is written in a gentle, first person voice of a man who has done some extraordinary things yet feels like he could be your best mate. The Art of Disruption is inspiring and exciting and makes you want to be a better person.

He says

Seeing the good encourages others to do the same – optimism is contagious, after all. You may even start a chain reaction of positivity and kindness, and who knows how far this will go or which mind you might spark.

Magid Magid

‘The Art of Disruption, A manifesto for real change’ is widely available now. If you can, have a search of your local, independent book stores. If you are in Sheffield, I recommend La Biblioteka. Or you can buy it from Hive here. Hive supports independent book stores and is a British tax paying company. If you would like to find out more about Magid Magid, you can follow him on facebook, twitter and find his website here.

Magid Magid is in conversation with Sile Sibanda for Off the Shelf festival in Sheffield on 24 October at 7.30pm where he “presents a guide to hope, doing better, and being courageous, and shows how it’s possible to think differently about power and life.”

Peace and love

Sam xx

A Light to Guide

I have worked with arts collective Responsible Fishing UK for the past eight years or so. It is made up of myself, my husband photographer Timm Cleasby, and our best friends; artist James Brunt and Graphic Designer Caroline Hayes. We have done work all over the UK and one of the projects I played a bigger part in was A Light To Guide, a story told through light tubes hung in a forest for Coastival in Scarborough.

I wrote the story of Johan, a little spider who goes on a journey through his home town of Scarborough and then the words were carved into cardboard tubes and lit from inside. We hung them in the woods so the story could be read as you walked through. You can watch the video here.

I have always loved creating art, whether that is through writing, textiles, ceramics, painting or any of the amazing projects I have been involved in with RF. Over the past year, this creativity has been a life saver. It has been my therapy, my escape and my joy. I have loved making more and more art projects but I have always felt a little shy in sharing them.

I want to change that. I want to recognise myself and know that it is OK to feel pride in the things I create. And so I thought I would start with the beautiful Light to Guide that I am so proud of. Hopefully, this will encourage me to share more.

Peace and love

Sam xx

Reading Meet my Crohns and Colitis Cats

This year charity Crohns and Colitis UK released a children’s book called Meet our Crohns and Colitis Cats. The story and illustrations are by Thomas Wolfe. It is a lovely story that helps to explain what Crohns and Colitis are like.

They say:

“Our new story Meet our Crohn’s and Colitis cats is for children affected by Crohn’s or Colitis, whether they have the condition themselves or know someone who does.

Riley and Owen live with Crohn’s and Colitis. They like to think of their Crohn’s and Colitis as cats that they have to take care of – sometimes the cats are big and bother them, sometimes the cats are small and leave them alone. They find that while it takes guts to live with a Crohn’s or Colitis cat, they can still achieve their dreams.”

Meet our Crohn’s and Colitis cats was created together with people affected by Crohn’s or Colitis – including children, their families and the healthcare professionals treating them. The illustrations and story concepts come from the amazing mind of Thomas Wolfe an illustrator, author and father living with Crohn’s Disease.”

I loved the book and so in these lockdown times, I decided to read the story for anyone who would like to hear a northern poo lady reading them a bedtime story about cats! Enjoy!

You can download a copy of Meet our Crohns and Colitis cats here. They’ve also created some colouring pages of our Crohn’s and Colitis cats, which you can download and print here.

You can also watch the Crohns and Colitis UK videos here.

In these tough times, it is really hard for charities and so if you can spare anything to donate to Crohns and Colitis UK to allow them to continue their work or if you’d like to make a donation for your copy of the download book, you can do so here.

This isn’t a sponsored post or supported by Crohns and Colitis UK, I wasn’t asked to read this book, I am just a mum in lockdown passing the time! I loved the book and wanted to share as I am a huge fan of Crohns and Colitis UK.

Peace and love

Sam xx

Henderson’s Relish – Strong and Northern

Henderson’s Relish is a Sheffield staple. It is a vinegary relish that goes on pretty much any foodstuff and beloved to the Steel City. They have just released their second cookbook – Strong and Northern and they asked lots of people who love Sheffield to be a part of it by sharing a little anecdote about Hendo’s. And I was proper chuffed that they asked me!

strong and northern cookbook Hendersons relish

The launch was last night and it was great to meet some of the Sheffield heroes in the book and hear speeches by Steve Edwards and Joe Scarborough.

Hendersons relish strong and northern cookbook

Sheffield is my birthplace and home and I am immensely proud of my city. To be a part of this book with so many amazing people is truly brilliant and I feel really honoured.

You can buy the Strong and Northern cookbook here from the Henderson’s Relish website.

Peace, love and Hendo’s

Sam xx

Books from Santa

I am an avid reader, I have always had a massive love for reading from a very early age and will read pretty much anything.  I love modern fiction, horror, comedy, biographies, non fiction… I am not bookist!

And so I thought I would do a post about some books I am hoping Santa will bring me this year.  Let me know your thoughts and also any books you have on your ‘to read’ list.

 

Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly

This looks AMAZING, she is an inspirational and outstanding woman and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.  She has led such an interesting life and this is the first time she has written a personal memoir.  A living legend, I think this book will become a must have in the lives of British women.

vivienne westwood book

 

 

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

I don’t have Sky TV and so missed the whole ‘Girls’ phenomenon, but Lena Dunham has been on my ‘bad ass woman’ radar for a while and so I am looking forward to reading her book on how to be an awesome modern woman.  The book hit the headlines recently after she was accused of abusing her sister as she describes a memory of seeing her sibling’s vagina, I was impressed with how she dealt with the (ridiculous) criticism.

“I am not a sexpert, a psychologist, or a dietician. I am not a mother of three or the owner of a successful hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle.”

lena dunham not that kind of girl

 

 

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

“Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before.” 

And with that sentence, I am hooked! The book was promoted by both the Richard and Judy book club and Radio 2 and it just sounds like the sort of great contemporary fiction that I like.

harry august claire north books i want for christmas

 

 

Ayoade on Ayoade by Richard Ayoade

Richard Ayoade is possibly one of the coolest men in the world.  I just read that back to check if I was exaggerating and I stand by it… A conversation with himself this book looks fantastic.  Worth a buy just based on this AMAZING interview with Krishnan Guru Murthy.

richard ayoade book christmas gift for readers

Revolution by Russell Brand

I am not a massive Russell Brand fan, I liked his comedy a few years ago but his political shouting over the past year has at times seemed ill thought and attention seeking.

But obviously that has worked because despite my feelings I am still intrigued enough that I would like to have a read of his latest book!

“Russell Brand wants you to join the revolution… This book makes revolution not only possible, but inevitable and fun.”

russell brand book

The Art of Asking: How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

“Imagine standing on a box in the middle of a busy city, dressed as a white-faced bride, and silently using your eyes to ask people for money. Or touring Europe in a punk cabaret band, and finding a place to sleep each night by reaching out to strangers on Twitter. For Amanda Palmer, actions like these have gone beyond satisfying her basic needs for food and shelter – they’ve taught her how to turn strangers into friends, build communities, and discover her own giving impulses. And because she had learned how to ask, she was able to go to the world to ask for the money to make a new album and tour with it, and to raise over a million dollars in a month. In The Art of Asking, Palmer expands upon her popular TED talk to reveal how ordinary people, those of us without thousands of Twitter followers and adoring fans, can use these same principles in our own lives.”

This just sounds awesome…

amanda palmer book

There we go folks, if anyone fancies buying me one or two (hint hint Timm… Or Santa), or just a big, fat Waterstones voucher,  they would be gratefully received!

So what books are you hoping to find in your stocking on christmas morning?

Love Sam x

Patience and Recovery

Its been 17 days since my surgery and Im healing well. My wound is closed and I have no pain in it, the scar is about 6 inches long and as it was stapled together I have the line and dots of a staple scar. A friend told me that after she had surgery, her doctor told her to use any sort of natural
oil, grape seed, olive etc – that you didn’t need posh bio oils or other ‘scar healing’ lotions or potions, and to massage her scar for 10 minutes a day. The motion of massage encourages healing in the scar, it improves blood circulation and increases the collagen. She showed me her scars and they were thin white lines, barely visible. So I have taken this advice and I hope it will help mine too.

20130920-145854.jpg

My stoma nurse visited today, she is fantastic and answered a few questions I had. I have some soreness to my skin where the ileostomy bag sticks to my skin right at the bottom, she advised that I am carefully peeling off the top of the bag when I remove it, and then pulling it off quickly at the bottom. And yep! She was totally right, that’s what i have been doing! The enemy of anyone with a stoma is sore skin. Sore skin can become open wounds very quickly, open wounds are wet and you cannot stick a bag onto wet skin. So good skin care is vital.

Im less weepy than yesterday, I think part of my problem is that I am still tapering off the steroids and they are notorious for affecting moods and emotions. Today feels more positive but I am struggling with one thing. Patience.

Im not the most patient of people at the best of times. I can’t leave christmas presents under the tree without a good squeeze. If I hear that someone is planning something as a surprise Ill pick at them trying to get clues!

Physically I am healing well. I am still taking painkillers regularly but everything is going to plan. Im well on the road to recovery. Im doing slightly more each day, this week I had the trip shopping and last night we went out to dinner for my son’s birthday. But I feel it when I do more, I tire very quickly and feel the pain more. When I lay down at night, I ache. Im walking well now and working on my posture as I have been stooped for weeks in protection of my stomach.

But now I can do more, it is very difficult to have patience with my body. I know I have to take it really slowly, that doing too much will hinder my overall recovery and could cause problems but Im struggling!! Timm won’t let me lift a finger, he’s still doing all the cooking, cleaning, school runs plus running our business so I feel bad in not being able to help him. He tells me off and just wants me to have the proper rest and recovery. Its nice to be looked after but quite difficult to accept. Im so used to doing everything for myself so it takes a big shift in mindset to look after myself first and allow others to help.

So I try to be patient. I know I need to put trust in my body and give it time to heal and get used to the huge changes that have been made to it. Im grateful and happy that it is doing this so well! I have had no complications and everything is healing well. My stoma is functioning really well and the pain is lessening. I find that the time between painkillers is lengthening slightly. Im not watching the clock to see when I can have more which is an improvement! The body is a bloody clever thing and mine is doing a great job.

I want to get back to work as soon as I can. I run our family photography business with Timm (go check us out – The Picture Foundry) and also work with arts group Responsible Fishing and we have really exciting projects coming up, so Im looking forward to getting back in the saddle. Weirdly, I also want to do some house work – I can’t even believe Im saying that!!! Timm is doing a great job, but you know what its like, no one can do things just as you do (nor do I expect them to!!)

I really want to walk our dog Lola. I want to do some gardening. I want to sand down the piano and paint it. I want to go to the pub with friends. I want to sort out my whole wardrobe. And make all the craft projects I ever put on pinterest. I want to go pick all the apples on the trees in the garden. I want to go on a bike ride. I want to be well enough to be at my friend Corinnes birth. I really want that. I want to drive. I want to visit friends.

Patience. It’s a virtue right?

 

patience

 

I will be patient. I have to be because I need to allow myself to heal and not do anything that could set me back.

So Im doing nice things whilst I recover. I watch a lot of films on netflix, Im watching a lot of TED talks (TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design) I watch a lot of documentaries. I thought if Im sat in front of the box I can at least be learning new stuff!!

I am knitting. Im a crap knitter, I can knit squares. So Im knitting a LOT of squares that will eventually be sewn together to make a blanket.

Im reading. Im a big reader anyway but my concentration levels have been really low for a while, its nice now to be able to read more than one sentence (over and over again!) I was bought a book called The House of Leaves over ten years ago and got a third of the way through it before giving up. Its a very difficult read requiring you to flip back and forward and read things out of sync. My good friend James has just started it and has inspired me to try again with it… If you fancy reading it you can get it on Amazon.

Im blogging. Obviously as you are reading. It feels good to blog, its very cathartic for me and I can’t believe how many people are reading! Since I started in July Ive had over 10,000 views of this site – bloody hell chaps!!! Thank you!! From the bottom of my heart thank you for reading and commenting. Thank you.

Im planning our trip to Australia!!! This is a fab one. We are going to Australia via Vietnam to visit my sister, brother in law and niece in December this year, its the most exciting thing!! I was so worried about the trip before my surgery, nervous that I would have a flare up and ruin the trip, that we wouldn’t be able to do the things we wanted to do as I would be ill and need to be close to a loo. So now I have the bag, its exciting!!! There is no reason I can’t do anything everyone else can do. The only thing I need to think about it making sure I take enough bags and products that I need.

I meditate. Now don’t laugh!!! Im not ommmmming away in a corner, but I am spending ten minutes to sit and close my eyes, relax and partake in a bit of mindfulness. Its ten minutes of quiet. Ten minutes of feeling myself grounded, concentrating on my breathing and clearing my mind of everything. It makes me feel centred and calm. So don’t mock – try it… You might like it.

And I try to be patient.

Love Sam xx

The origin of faeces

Thank you to the lovely Jen of Spacedog fame for giving me the heads up on this article.  Taken from the book ‘The Origin of Faeces What Excrement tells us about evolution, ecology and a sustainable society’ by David Waltner-Toews, this picture and article is both funny and interesting!

poo and religion

 

When I began writing The Origin of Feces, after a quarter century of teaching and research on the epidemiology of zoonoses (diseases that can travel from animals to humans) and foodborne and waterborne diseases, I knew a great deal about the environmental and public health problems associated with excrement. The solutions to these problems seemed straightforward and technical. What struck me as I was doing research for the book was the profound way in which excrement is embedded in ecological (and, by extension, cultural) relationships. Here are five things I learned, which you should know, about poo.

1. No shit, no life

Before life, there was no excrement. The second that membranes enclosed biochemical reactions – that is, as soon as life was born – materials passed selectively into and out of those cells. What passed out was “waste”. Yet in that waste, nutrients and energy were recycled, and webs of life were made possible. Without faeces (in its broadest sense) life (and humanity) would not be possible.

2. Poop has a purpose

Multi-cellular animals are faced with complex issues related to their need to defecate and their own ability to reproduce. Some deer may eat the dung of their young, birds carry faecal sacs of their young from the nest and drop them into streams, and caterpillars shoot their frass far away from themselves. Still other animals, such as bushbuck and genets, use dung middens as places for inter-sexual communication. Predators often mark territory with faeces. Other species have taken advantage of some of these behaviours. Sloths create dung middens that serve to redirect predators away from their homes in the trees, and also to indicate mating sites not just for themselves; these dung piles also provide means for the moths that live in their coats to reproduce. When the sloth descends to defecate, moths living (and feeding on debris) in their coats oviposit in the dung. The larvae hatch, pupate and feed in and on the excrement. Several weeks later, moths emerge, looking for another sloth to call home.

3. Dung is delicious

Within a multi-species landscape, human and other animal behaviours that have evolved to optimise reproductive success also serve to disperse seeds and replenish landscapes. Dung beetles, for instance, which live on every continent except Antarctica, use faeces as a source of nourishment for their young; at the same time, by burying faeces in the ground, they are integrating nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements into the soils which support the plant species that feed the animals that provide food for the dung beetles. Taking an ecological view, the dung beetle is not just an organism. It is also a bundle of nutrients, information and energy: each organism, through its eating of the excrement, is an embodiment of excrement. We are, all of us, what we eat. Parasite cycles give us a rich picture of how the nutrient essence of excrement, if not its form, can move through the ecosystem from intestines of birds and mammals to the soil, to plants and insects, and back again to mammals. The parasites and their hosts and predators are, in fact, the re-embodiment of the deconstructed excrement and the life cycles of parasites of concern to public health are life cycles of excrement. The global distribution of faecal-related bacteria and parasites in food, water and wildlife (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella spp, Giardia spp, Toxoplasma spp) tells us not just about the ubiquity of hazards, but also about the webs and pathways through which the nutrients and energy in excrement are distributed globally. One implication of this is that killing off any species, however small or obnoxious, closes off certain pathways of nutrient recycling and hence will affect all of us sooner or later.

4. We are caca-conflicted

Conflicted human attitudes toward faeces have deep biological roots and reflect relationships to excrement seen throughout the animal kingdom. In evolutionary terms, positive associations with the scent of excrement may be rooted in biological urges to define territory and communicate with others, as well as the observation that food plants grow better in areas that had been manured. When human populations were mostly nomadic and when settlements were small and sparse, the positive associations with excrement outweighed whatever risks were perceived. This positive view of manure, historically reflected in a thriving commercial trade in excrement, has persisted when connections between city and countryside have been explicit and open, and in rural agricultural areas today. As we have increased our understanding of transmission of killer diseases such as cholera and childhood diarrhoea in the last few centuries, however, and as the beneficial association of flush toilets and clean bathrooms with survival has become clear, city dwellers have learned to take an unambiguously negative attitude towards shit. The shift from a positive view to a negative view is thus rooted in shifts from people living in the country to people living in cities, to a loss of connection between food producers and consumers, and to our increased scientific understanding of causes of disease.

5. Crap relationships matter

Excrement is part of what has been referred to as a “wicked” problem. The “problem” of faeces is deeply embedded in a restructured global (eco) system of livestock-rearing and trade, as well as water-based disposal systems (flush toilets and sewage treatment plants); these were developed to improve food supplies, promote health and stimulate economic prosperity. Nevertheless, the solutions to problems, while effective if viewed narrowly, also result in a depletion of potable water, and a major redistribution of water and nutrients from some ecosystems, which are thus impoverished (e.g. soy beans in Brazil), through animal and human faeces into other ecosystems, which are thus over-fertilised (particularly those where industrialised animal rearing has been selected as the solution to the “food problem”). Solutions to excrement-related public health and environmental problems call for a new understanding of the science of relationships among things (as differentiated from a science of things-in-themselves), and will only be sustainable if they account, simultaneously, for the manifold ecological and cultural webs in which they are embedded.