Cassie Delaney listens for a living. Here she shares the lessons from the secrets she has absorbed.
Prior to our current state of lockdown, I spent every working day and a lot of Saturdays in my studio in town recording and editing podcasts.
It’s a funny job. It’s not particularly manual. It’s not particularly difficult. For the majority of the time I am producing I am silent. I set up the conversation, get the water, light a candle, press record and fall into a stillness. My goal is to become invisible.[restrict]
After the conversation finishes, I emerge again and when the host and interviewee leave, I sculpt the discussion into the thing everyone else hears. The thing with music and levelled sound and links and the please-rate-review-and-subscribe ending.
The thing that the world hears is the polished version of what I hear. The polished version sometimes has less pauses, less mistakes. Sometimes it’s cut to fit a certain time frame and sometimes making it sound really nice means losing voice cracks and stutters and sighs. Sometimes the polished version is removing the moments when people felt vulnerable and aren’t quite ready to share those with the world.
My job is to take the conversation and present the best version to the world – the version which the host and guest feel happy with, the version that reflects what they want to be reflected. There are many hours of recordings that don’t make it to the wider world. Those moments exist only to the people that are in the room to experience them; the host, the guest and me; the professional wallflower. These are moments of true tenderness, tears that guests don’t want shared, sentiments hosts share in minutes of frustration, gossip giddy people exchange excitedly.
For almost two years I have watched and listened to people laugh, cry and reflect on the best and worst moments of their lives. I’m not here to share the secrets I have curated, but I will talk about the things I have learned by listening to people who have experienced far worse things than I have, and far scarier periods than this one currently.
Yoga is really good.
In moments of stress and high anxiety yoga has been the consistent cure for many people. I have lost count of the number of guests who have shared that their return to serenity has been through yoga.
Normal will never be normal again.
Crisis changes people. Loss, tragedy and illness changes people. When guests talk about life before and after these moments they always remark that there is no return to normal but rather a new normal forms. It is sometimes a wiser normal. It is always a more empathetic one.
Eating well makes you feel well.
It’s obvious but fruit and vegetables and good food is good for the body and great for the mind.
Get in the sea.
The Irish sea has magical healing qualities. Get cold, drink tea after.
Grief is personal.
Grief is a complicated beast and everyone experiences it differently. Each experience is valid. Grief lasts a long time.
Good friends beget good friends.
The key to having good friends is to be a good friend. Good friends are hard to find and you should go to all their stupid parties.
Tell your family you love them.
Your family may be a bunch of weirdos thrown together. You may not be related. Whoever you consider your family to be, tell them you love them often and always.
Tell your friends you love them too.
It’s not weird.
This last point is a hard one surmise in a snappy sentence but the essence is this; the desire to protect is enormous. The thing that makes guests cry most frequently and most considerably is the sadness of the pain felt by others. It’s the heartbreak of seeing a loved one sick, of seeing a parent heartbroken, of watching a friend struggle.
We’re living in sad times and I’m not here to patronise and foretell of a time when we will all prosper again. I too am scared. My lovely studio is on lock-down, my business stalled and my livelihood uncertain. But I am trying yoga, I am baking, I am talking to friends, I am trying to minimise the damage that will be caused to others. I am enjoying the time at home with my partner and our dog and our cat. I am finding comfort in the sense of community.
I am anticipating a new normal. A few months down the line when we can return to the studio and our shared office and I can be in the place that I have come to love with friends I love.
Sarah Griffin wrote about our shared office recently, particularly about the home it has become for the fruits of her floristry course. We hung a wreath she made. It was a beautiful leafy wreath of fresh pink roses and other flowers I don’t know the name of. In an alternative universe we’re all still in the office admiring the wreath, but in this one I am embroidering a surrogate.
It may not be fresh, it may not smell as good, but when we foray into the new normal it too will hang beside the window bathed in sunlight.
Embroidery is a fantastic beginner craft because it’s intuitive. Once you establish your design, it’s simply filling in spaces with thread.
As a child, you probably cross-stitched or embroidered with Aida (the grid-like material) but for embroidery, any close-woven fabric like linen will do. Old pillowcases are perfect too.
I started by drawing a rough wreath, outlining it in black and then tracing it on to my fabric. I’ve made my template available here to download.
Pull the material taught over an embroidery hoop and centre the image. It can always be readjusted once the piece is complete so the most important thing here is securing a light tension.
Now simply complete the picture by filling in the large spaces with a variety of stitches. This video has excellent flower tutorials.
Full Disclosure: I am still working on mine, slowly over this isolation period. Follow me on Instagram @CassieLorraine for the final piece.