Monday, 15 January 2018

This is me. . .

For we are glorious. . . 

I'm not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
'Cause we don't want your broken parts
I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one will love you as you are 

If you have not seen The Greatest Showman yet, please go and see it. If only for this song alone.
What scars do you have that you wear?  Have you been trying to make them fade away?  You might be looking in the mirror often, wishing them away, watching those scars with everyone saying things about you, or imagining that they are.  Why should we believe people when they say we have broken parts?  There is nothing broken that we cannot put together, put back together ourselves.  But we must be prepared to recognise what we see of ourselves in the mirror and make some positive decisions to move forward.  Who will you run to?  Is it true that people won't love you as you are?

But I won't let them break me down to dust
I know that there's a place for us
For we are glorious

There will always be people that will try to break you down to dust.
There will most likely not be any plausible or acceptable explanations for why they will do this, other than the fact that - you exist.  Your very life, your very presence, irks the hell out of them.  You are a reminder that they cannot be who you are.  So they will spend as much as time possible trying to tell you that you are not much to look at, that you will not amount to anything, that you are not worth anybody's time of day.  It is the basis of every fairytale that you can remember from childhood, every children's book that talks about the underdog, the little guy, even the little engine that could.  There is a place for you in this world.  Do you know how glorious you actually are?

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down

I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come 
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

If you can recognise your battle weary skin for what it is - bruised and battered yes, but you must never back down from the challenges that lie ahead.  People will already have written you off and think you will never achieve your goals, dreams and aspirations.  It just depends on how you choose to respond to all of that.  You don't need to believe their negativity.  Can you imagine the looks on their faces when you actually achieve all you have set out to do?  I would rather you focus on the looks on the faces of those people who have supported you since day one.  Those people are the ones you should always keep on the radar.  You must be able to train your ears to keep hearing the drum that you continue to beat on.  There will be times when that drumbeat will seem faint, and that you lack the strength to beat on that drum, but don't you dare put those sticks down.  You have much to march towards.  You must be seen,  you must be heard, you must be the one to show others where to go, you must be the one to lead, even when you do not want to.

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away 'cause today, I won't let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades 
And reach above the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that's what we'll become 

You should no longer be ashamed for the goals that you want to achieve.
Just because nobody has done what you have done, it doesn't mean that you should pursue it.
There are enough scared people in the world who will never realise their potential or live their destiny.  You don't need to join them.  Instead, burst through those barricades - if they happen to be people or objects that stand in your way.  If you have to talk to some people and tell them which way is up - then do it.  There is always more above the sun, you just need to be willing to get burned now and again.  You will heal over time, you just need to persist and realise that it doesn't how many bullets hit your skin, it won't be enough to pierce what's within.

Won't let them break down to dust 
I know that there's a place for us
For we are glorious

What place would you like to be in?
Where would you like to go?  Why should you doubt where you belong?
I'm a huge fan of recognising your abilities, capabilities, your inabilities - because when you learn to see what you can't do, you can, with the power of your mind and persistence, convert those inabilities into abilities and capabilities.  You just need to create the capacity to do so.  I would like to think that I have a place where I am surrounded by people who I love, admire and respect that are doing their absolute best in whatever field that they've chosen to excel in - and that we all get together from time to time and learn how to encourage each other and celebrate each other's successes simultaneously #squadgoals.

And I know that I deserve your love
There's nothing I'm not worthy of
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is proof
This is who I'm meant to be, this is me

I hope that wherever you are in your life, that you know that you are important.
It is absolutely critical that you believe in yourself. If you know you lack the self confidence to stay motivated in this space, find people who will be your cheerleaders until you can learn to do this for yourself.  There is such a thing has healthy confidence in yourself.  You can celebrate your strengths and be positive about what you know you can do well, what you bring to the table has value.  If you are surrounded by people who don't know your true worth - let them know.  The time for being quiet and expecting others to say nice things about you - sometimes you are with people who don't know how to encourage, who don't know how to blow other people's trumpets because they're busy blowing their own.  Send your floods to drown out those people who not only hurt you with their jealousy, but their words about others like you too.  There is nothing stronger than a community that knows how to look out for each other and not hurt others in the process.  This to me is proof of being brave.  I won't apologise for having awesome people in my life, or being awesome for others - for we are glorious. . . 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

And You Don't Stop. . .

Lord, You do it for me . . . 

Ever, ever since I can remember
You've always been right there for me
And no matter what I was doing
You let me see, how life should be
'Cause You make it better by covering me
And You don't stop

You might go about your daily tasks without really focusing on what you're doing.  You get caught up in all of the things that people think you should find important, when in actual fact, you should be wondering about what lies beyond all of that.  Enjoy what life has to offer - in all of its richness and its scarcity.  When things don't go the way that you want, when things are beyond your control, you start to wonder whether any of it is worth anything at all.  People will tell you things you don't want to hear, because they think that foregone conclusions are the best thing that you need to hear.  So here's the thing - will you let what other people say dictate what your life should be?  I'm pretty sure that there are better things to come when you start to believe in yourself.  How do I know?  I've had lots of instances where when I've put faith in myself, it's because I've put faith in He who has made me.

When my way gets a little cloudy 
And my nights, get a little rough and lonely
No matter what's going on
You give me peace, You comfort me
You make it better, Your love never leaves
And it don't stop

Have you learned to discern the noise from the music?
When you get distracted from your purpose and start to pursue other things that bring you no joy, other things that bring you no purpose, other people who in the end do not want you to succeed; you start to see things unravel before your eyes.  We take for granted what we think will always be.  We forget that sometimes what we see in this life, decays and falls away, before we realise.  We need to remember that we cannot rely only on ourselves in achieving all of the great things that we need to do.  How are you engaging in the right support network to keep you on track? 

And You never change
And You stay the same
Lord, You do it for me
And Your love (Your love)
Your love (Your love)
Is on repeat

The same comfort that comes from the Lord never ceases to amaze me.
Just when I think that everything is fine and everything is absolutely perfect, challenges and obstacles turn up to test me. Not only to test my faith in myself, but also whether I understand that whatever actions or words that I do and say, are not for my benefit.  Learning to treasure the mission that we have been tasked with delivering, tasked with completing, can only be done with recognition of the higher power that watches over us all.  You may be reading this and thinking, well, I don't believe in a higher power.  Whoever you subscribe to as your faith point, that's totally up to you.  I think that sometimes I forget who I serve because I am too busy serving the interests of man. 

Every day every day with You Lord
It gets sweeter sweeter than the day before
And no matter how I might be feeling 
I look to You, can't count on myself
You are that very present help
And it don't stop

What sweeter days are you hoping for?
There is nothing sweeter than walking on the path that allows sweeter days to rise and set.
I have been listening to this song on repeat for the past few days.  I had only heard of The Walls Group like literally two days ago and I couldn't help but cry throughout the entire song.  I think about all of the difficult times I have had through my life - and I see the different scenes flash through my mind like a movie montage with this song playing in the background.  All of our best laid plans can crumble quicker than we have been building them.  So think very carefully about what you are doing when you count on yourself all the time.  If you're not careful, you will be left on your own without the necessary support network to get you through. 

And You never change 
And You stay the same
You do it for me
And Your love (Your love)
And love (Your love)
Is on, on repeat
You keep on (loving me) (and you don't stop)
You keep on proving
And I just love what You're doing (and You don't stop)
You do it over and over again
(And You Don't Stop)

I hope that whatever difficulties you are going through at the moment, that you know where to go.
Bask in the love of He who loves you the most, the best and the longest.
We rely on ourselves, our egos to get us through our most difficult times.  But we actually need to process what we are going through so that we can see beyond to the horizon, to see where our true pathways lie.  If people think you cannot achieve your dreams, prove them wrong . Rely on those people who can support you and want to see you at your best.  Stay away from people who are wolves in sheep's clothing.  You should be able to see the gleam of their canine teeth in the sunlight if you are fully conscious and take notice of others around you.  Sometimes smiles aren't necessarily genuine.  You have to catch the smile that's mirrored in their eyes too.  If that warmth is missing, then you know only coldness lives there.  My lesson is to know that when people around me aren't the right people to be around, all I need to do is close my eyes and be grateful in the knowledge that Lord, You do it for me. . . 

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

I say so. . .

There's one thing I know for sure. . . 

I woke up this morning with some things laid on my heart
Couldn't go another minute being in the dark
Will there ever be tomorrow? We will never know
But we're in this world together
And together we should grow, row, row
Oh woah oh, oh woah, oh woah

I had secretly suspected that when I returned to play for my church choir that I would be met with opposition.  If not overt opposition, then there would at least be some raised eyebrows or questions about why I was returning to play.  I hadn't planned on returning this year, not until well after my thesis had been completed and submitted.  But sometimes there are things that are beyond my control, because in actual fact, I was called to return.

There were many signs along the way that I chose to ignore.  It wasn't because I doubted these signs either as I've learned how to read and interpret signs long before I could speak.  I just didn't want to acknowledge them before I had finished what I had thought was my only mission in the last few years.  The 'tomorrow' that I am planning isn't just for or even about me.  It's for everyone who has yet to be born, and I know that sounds strange, but I know it to be true, because I am living the destiny that was foretold before I was even an apple in my father's eye.  This is why I couldn't go another minute being in the dark.  I have to get this story out while I can.  Not just this blogpost.  But my life's work in the learning that I have endured.

There's no need to worry 'cause we're gonna be just fine
Grab my hand and join me, darling, let's forget the time
'Cause I see the children laughing even though their days are gray
All of us dreamers and we have something to say, yeah, yeah
Hey yeah, hey, hey, hey, hey, yeah hey hey hey

I have always been a dreamer.  I have learned to be a realist but that was something I have learned over time because I had to conform to what was happening all around me, rather than acknowledging what was inside me.  In the face of despair, discouragement and disapproval, I have learned to smile, grin and bear it.  It hasn't been an easy process but they have been lessons along the way that I have relished learning because they have been necessary.  When my friend told me about people's snide comments and even when I insisted on knowing the names of these people, my friend would not reveal who these people were.  It confirmed my suspicion that they were people that my friend was close to as well, so it didn't really matter, other than, shouldn't I know who the people who are make complaints about me?  Or make judgements, criticisms and comments if they feel that I have treated them unfairly?  The more we talked about what had been heard, I quickly deduced that it wasn't anything obvious that I had to offend or hurt these people - I was just born this way.  Organised, a hard worker, willing to do my best so that everyone can contribute.  But my friend said that maybe these people who said these things didn't really know me.  Isn't that classic though right?  Talk about me behind my back but to my face - too scared to say a damn thing.

We are the children of the world 
We are the lovers of the earth
And that's why every little thing, every little thing gonna be alright
We are the children of the world
We are the lovers of the earth
That's why every little thing, every little thing gonna be alright

If you are a person who knows their destiny, there is nothing that you wouldn't do - the daily grind, the constant drive to do what needs to be done.  You're the get there early, last to leave type of person.  You're the one that reads all of the reports to know what is actually happening and you try to do your own work as quickly as possible so you can help others who might need support.  I laugh at how people would rather gossip, than ask you questions about your modus operandi, ask questions about why you do what you do and how you go about being successful in your life.  I get asked by those who really want the best for themselves and as my close friends will attest to - I share my knowledge freely and willingly if it means it helps them achieve their very best life.  What I am not a fan of, is when people try to undermine the good that you do, and make up lies or stories about what you're not actually doing.  I have always been fascinated by gullible people who would rather believe stories than the actual proof of the work that I have done.  That says a lot about the limitations of their cognitive capabilities (just a euphemistic way of saying they're stupid, and anyone who knows me well, knows I cannot stand stupidity).

Every little thing gon' be alright
Every little thing gon' be alright
'Cause I say so
Every little thing gon' be alright
Every little thing gon' be alright
'Cause I say so

I thought of a bible verse that another friend shared with me a few weeks ago and it sprang to mind when I had this conversation today.  The reading is Colossians 3:23-24 and it reads like this:
23) Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, 24) knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. Great words to live by, to meditate on and think about as I head into choir rehearsal tonight.  Do what I do enthusiastically and to serve Christ.  What other answer could eclipse that?  I don't even need to say it - just show them.  One of the things Loma used to always say - don't tell me, show me :-)

What did I learn about the conversation?  That it doesn't matter what people say behind my back, because they lack the courage to say it to my face haha.  But seriously, I will address it head on where it needs to be addressed and let people know in no uncertain terms that I don't do what I do to control people, but I do it because I have gifts and talents that I would like to share with people that need it the most - whether they recognise that or not.  I just need to remember that I never feel more at home as when I'm involved in making music that serves a higher purpose, greater than me, and I don't need to justify every single thing.  Because there's one thing that I know for sure. . . every little thing gon' be alright, 'cause I say so. . . 

Thursday, 4 January 2018

We got it. . .

Put your faith in me. . . 

Take a walk with me to where we started
Where we sang off key to the sounds of life
We were young and naive but we made a promise
Always be there for each other when it's time to fight

I've been reconnecting and staying connected with my girlfriends from my school days.
I went to an all girls high school and contrary to what you might think, some of my happiest memories were deeply rooted in the sisterhood of that place.  It was a great feeling too, because I didn't have any actual sisters of my own (only sisters in law) so it was good to bond with girls who were experiencing the same things that I was, holding it down and learning together.  I can't remember exactly if I've blogged about this before in previous blogposts, but the life lessons I learned at high school have stayed with me.  It wasn't just what was explicitly taught there, but just the things that I observed and absorbed over time that lingered with me, even when I became a high school teacher myself.  Some of the key friends I made during this time, I am still quite close with today.

Just a pocket dream and broke apartment
Rap and Lauryn Hill and my mama's comb
Even though we're far from where we started
When the music plays we're right at home

Music played a huge role in my high school life.  There was a musical group rehearsing every day in the music department and I was in all the major school groups.  When I discovered my passion for music, it was at an early age.  I think I was humming and singing before I could speak actual words.  It has always been second nature to sing something or make up words to songs, and then making up my own music followed soon thereafter.  There is something innate about the power of music - it can be as private or public as you want and it's true what they say, that music is a universal language.  Although lately I have found too that sharing music with various people has brought renewed joy and happiness in how much I love music and its healing properties - to remind me of memories in bygone days, specific moments and conversations that never ever be erased.  No matter where I am in the world, I will always feel at home as long as I hear music.  It is probably this notion that lead me to pursue Ethnomusicology once I reached university - I naturally gravitated towards understanding people and their cultures through their heritage music.

And maybe sometimes we're still out of place
Lost in the space of our minds
But still the record plays 
And we'll find a way
Back to the one thing we know
'Cause if we don't

I love how music can instantly transport you to different places and spaces in your mind without having to leave the room.  I love talking about music with friends who understand how much I love and appreciate music, it's symbolism, energy and spirit that is imbued in its very essence.  When you hear music where does it take you?  Does it change your mood?  Does it transport you to a different place that you need to visit as timeout from the reality of your life?  I hope you do that from time to time.  We often saturate ourselves too much in actual noise, and don't spend enough of our valuable time steeping ourselves in real music.  The kind of music that you might be afraid to admit out loud that you listen to but you really love.  The kind of music that you don't share with others because they never really care about what actual genres you listen to and you have to hide it because you're trying to be cool all the time.  Music appreciation for me has never been about conforming, but rather forming our own standpoints and perspectives to hear the beauty of its unique sounds.

We got love (we got it, we got it, we got it)
We got love (we got it, we got it, we got it)
We got love (we got it, we got it, we got it)
We got love

There are some sections of the song that are reminiscent of the verses of Beyonce's "Love on top", particularly in the chorus of this track.  I am also reminded of the melodic stylings of Liana's "Fruitcake" single from her EP.  The opening drum beat could easily have lead into the opening of Groove Theory's "Tell Me".  The chorus features again after the bridge and this is where Mikala shows her vocal ability and range. Up until this point she gives a relaxed and laidback vocal performance that fits the nostalgic vibe of the track.  I like the use of children's voices in the background vocal echoes in the chorus.  It helps emit a neighbourhood vibe where you can see this song being featured in any movie with a montage of a community coming together to work on something for the greater good.

Down the street on my bike I used to not care
With some ripped up jeans and my braided hair
Drinking spirits, smoking in the basement
With our hands out waving in the air

There is a street sensibility that is conjured up with these statements and you think about the tales of a misspent youth, regaling stories and recounting memories of what you thought was cool back then with your friends.  The bonds of friendship were forged in being there for each other, hearing out each other's dreams and stories.  You knew things about each other's families and you were fiercely loyal and protective.  I guess it's those lessons that you carried with you, when you had the code of honour for want of a better comparison.  It was a mentality that we carried on once we reached adulthood.  If we all went out together, we made sure we all got home together too.  Nobody was left behind.

Alright, listen
When it's hard to be who you're supposed to be
In society (we got it)
When it's hard to walk and you need to talk
And you're feeling lost (we got it)
When it's hard to breathe and you're feeling weak
Put your faith in me (we got it)
'Cause the only thing I know that's for sure is

I hope that you surround yourself with people who will always have your back.
It is important to cultivate those bonds of friendship that pushed you through all of your hardships.
I guess it made sense that we would live our grammar school motto to its fullest - per angusta ad augusta - through trials to triumphs.  Our brother school translated the same motto as - through hardships to glory.  Society will always try and label you things that you know in your heart, that you are not.  You could say that it's a futile attempt to try and tell them different but it isn't.  The more times that you can stand up for yourself and tell people exactly who you are and what you stand for - eventually they will get the idea.  We must never forget that we must be persistent, determined and persevere through it all.  It is far too easy to give and quite frankly, this is what people expect us to do.  So my friends, don't give them the satisfaction.  You know yourself better than anybody.  If you need some reminding about what that is, stay in touch with those who do.  After all is said and done, they will help to remind you, we got it. . . 

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Loved by you. . .

Cause I've heard that heaven ain't easy to get to. . . 

Bless my soul
I've been alone too long
Somebody without someone
Is no one at all

Have you known true loneliness? How long have you been alone?
There are different states of being alone - you have to decide whether it's been self imposed or it's a consequence of actions that you've taken that have lead you there, or you accidentally find yourself because everyone has just well, left.  That last one is just a kind of reluctant loneliness that you couldn't foresee coming.  If you choose loneliness, you probably only chose to be alone, because you needed some peace and quiet from the drama of the noise that you've been trying to avoid.  You can be somebody without someone, it just depends on how comfortable you are with that.  I mean take me for example, I was married.  But now I'm not. The change was taken out of my hands when my husband died.  I think since his death I am becoming myself again, without him.  It's not the easiest thing in the world, but it's borne out of necessity because you have to keep living.  It's what we do.

Baby all these nights
I've struggled and fought my pride
Scared that someone your type
Couldn't see past my flaws

Ah, the type.
Do you have a specific type that you are susceptible to?  People like to say that they don't have a type, but it's easy enough to see what type of women or men they are attracted to if you sit down and have a conversation with them long enough.  The sickness that sits in your belly when you doubt yourself and your feelings where someone is concerned, is all part of the game, part of the chase.  You don't really know what's going on and you start to question whether you are seeing things or not.  So you have to employ the aid of loyal friends, to check if they are seeing what you're seeing and feeling, because there's nothing worse than barking up the wrong tree and misconstruing what is actually happening.  This is where pride kicks in right?  If you're not careful with how to pick yourself up after your pride has taken a knock, how will you know what love is when it comes knocking again?

Cause I've heard that heaven ain't easy to get to
Closest I'll get might be right next to you

What's in heaven when you get there?
Nobody knows really, because nobody has returned to really tell us about the experience.  Except maybe Jesus.  He's different though.  He's got like an all access pass that we have to earn if we want to even get a glimpse of those pearly gates.  At this point in the song, the melody becomes more adventurous and helps us to think about the singer explores her range in expressing the sentiment of the song.  I think the bridge is the place that shows us her vocal ability.  The melody in the verses remind me rhythmically of the opening bars of I have nothing by Whitney Houston before the end of the verses lean into the bridge and take a different turn sonically.  We need to be careful when we start comparing people to being the closest thing to heaven.  We don't know what kind of bliss we might experience in heaven that is so far removed from an earthly experience of love.  I'm just saying.

So I gotta know, I gotta feel
How it feels to be loved by you
I've gotta touch something real
Can I feel and be loved by you

When you yearn for love, you have to be prepared to feel it once it comes.
What if what you were wishing for came true?  Would you be able to deal with it all?
Sometimes what you dream of doesn't translate quite as well into reality.
Sometimes your reality doesn't match up to what you dreamed in your head.
Whatever the case may be, it's important to remember that before we can feel loved by someone else, that we can love who we are first.  If we don't know how to love what we've got, how can someone else possible love us?  It sounds pretty straight forward, but it's hard to put into practice.  I've seen too many people make the same mistakes - trying to change themselves to be more attractive or appealing to someone else, when all they really needed to be is who they were all along.

Jealousy is getting the best of me
Thinking about you asleep with me in tow
And I have no peace, til you gave me clarity
Yeah I need to hear and see if I matter at all

Jealousy is always a difficult beast to tame.  The green eyed monster is never really game enough to admit to itself what it is, but when it does, it makes excuses for being that way, rather than trying to keep it contained. We can usually be privy to bouts of jealousy when other people make us that way.  Well hang on, part of that isn't entirely the other person's fault.  But from what I've seen, if you're silly enough to expose this flaw in your arsenal, then they have all they need to practically dismantle the good sense that you used to have.  I say used to - because once jealousy turns up, it's like a drunk uncle at a party that doesn't want to leave. You just have to ride it out and make the best of the situation until something gives - either your jealousy disappears, you get over it, or something more drastic happens to bring things to a head.  Whatever the case may be, just be prepared to find your own strategies for peace and clarity - because until people are willing to stop playing games not just with you - but themselves - then you won't know for certain if you are being heard or if you matter.

I gotta feel it (how it feels to be loved)
Gotta feel it (how it feels to be loved)
I might not get another chance
Might slip outta my hands
How does it feel to be loved by you

I hope that whatever compels you to act in the way you do, leads you to where you want to be.
When people are desperate to be loved, you can never be sure about where things will end up, because you let your guard down, you're not as sharp or aware as you should be and you throw all caution to the wind.  We all need to crash and burn sometimes to learn how to be in the world.  Granted you'd be your own bloody fool (a phrase my mother likes to use) if you continue making the same mistakes and never learn what you need to in order to receive the solace and love that you've been craving.  There are different types of love too remember.  Just when you think that you're all keen as beans for a romantic love to enter stage left, what you should be starting with is just learning to talk to people and learn to understand the differences between someone caring about you and someone actually being in love with you.  If you're a bit out of the loop or you've guarded your heart for a while because it's been bruised too badly in the past - then just rest, cause I heard that heaven ain't easy to get to. . . 

Monday, 1 January 2018

Masterpiece. . . .

Every part of me is beautiful. . . .
Happy New Year, Happy new me. . . 

My eyes ain't used to these rays
I'm feeling exposed, but I hide no more
I can't hide
As the sun shines on all my glory 
My flaws don't look so bad at all
What was I so afraid of?

My friend Mana brought my attention to this song.  She kept talking about this acoustic version and once she showed me the YouTube clip, I instantly fell in love with it.  She said it reminded her of me.  This track has been on constant repeat.  The musical perfection that is Jazmine Sullivan's voice is of course unparalleled. I love the message of this song.  It talks about how we shouldn't be afraid to see who we truly are. That how we see ourselves, flaw and all, aren't all as bad as we think. Have you been exposed in the past year? There are so many things that we try to hide about ourselves. But I'm not saying that we should expose ourselves so freely if we don't want to either. I just think we shouldn't be afraid to express ourselves, even if it's meant with criticism or judgement.  It just means people don't know where we're coming from and we might need to explain ourselves to be clear.

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait
Of Mona, Mona Lisa
Every part of me is beautiful
And I finally see I'm a work of art
A masterpiece

You might not think that you are a vision or a portrait.  But we know that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. If someone tells you that you are a vision or a portrait, you can either accept the compliment easily or question why they think you're beautiful. You might have been told that there are so many things about you physically that you need to change in order to be seen as being more beautiful.  The fastest way for you to recognise your own beauty is just to do things for yourself that make you feel good, feel beautiful - and you'll just be beautiful.  There are so many people I know that don't think that they are beautiful on the outside, but it is their own low self perceptions that stop them from seeing the beauty that I see in them.

Who is this I've tried so long to find?
Filling my head with lies that I'm not good enough
Then I heard something in my ear
Tell I'm perfect, now that I know the truth
Time to show and prove 

It might take us a few trips around the block before we recognise our own beauty.
We might try to conform to society's ideas of beauty and forget about the things that have always made us feel beautiful. When someone tells you that you're not good enough, it is mostly because they need to make you feel inferior in order for them to have power over you. If you are in a relationship or in some kind of friendship with someone like this - it's a new year, and it's time to cut such people from your life.  I have systematically done that over the years, weeding family and friends from my garden who didn't nurture me or give me any fruit or flowers that I could appreciate and enjoy.  It might take you a while to figure out how to go about weeding your garden, but once you do, you will not have any tolerance for such people in all other areas of your life - work, social gatherings, things and spaces that matter to society and how you can contribute to it.

And now I see the pretty colours on my canvas 
I'm a work of art, a Mona Lisa
I'll share my pictures with the world
I'm not afraid to let it go anymore

What are the pretty colours on your canvas?  What do you paint with that makes you look even more beautiful? Life is too short to try and figure out where to go from here and where to display your work of art.  Sometimes though, we need to be adventurous.  We need to go and show ourselves in spaces where we might be the only one of our kind in that space.  Just because we don't recognise others that look like us in those new and strange places, it doesn't mean that we don't belong there.  You should know by now, that your work of art belongs anywhere that you want to belong.  You can forge your own path and not necessarily have to conform with what everybody else is doing.  You can go against the grain and smooth your own ridges to a pathway that people will soon see, has been made more beautiful because you've created it.

I can fight the light (shine so bright)

Let my colours paint the sky
There is beauty in my eyes
And I can see it now, I believe it now, I feel it now
I can light the night, shine so bright
Want the world to see, I'm a work of art, I'm a masterpiece
I am beautiful

What kind of life do you want to paint for yourself?
I think I'm always trying to see the beauty that I see within myself and try to project this out into the world. There will be people in the world who are resistant to such a practice, but we must bear the patience to teach them about this. We should be living our lives in ways that mean we no longer need to hide what colours come from within us.  If you can teach your eyes to see beauty in the world, you can continue to create beauty and collaborate with others to create beauty in the wider world.  Even if people don't want to recognise how much of a masterpiece you are, that's their own inability to see your greatness. These types of people are scared of your beauty, and how much of a masterpiece you are.  They try to equate your beauty with monetary value, but all artistically minded people know, masterpieces are priceless.

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait
Of Mona, of Mona Lisa
Every part of me is beautiful
And I finally see I'm a work of art
A masterpiece. . . 

I hope you see how much of a vision you, how much of a portrait of Mona Lisa you are.
We should learn to recognise and appreciate our inner beauty, because the world can be cruel sometimes, and try to tell us the exact opposite.  We should not let ourselves be judged by those who seek to dim our light, steal our joy or sabotage our inner peace.  Stay away from these types of people or if you can't, learn how to develop strategies that allow you to protect these at all costs.  I know that life will continue to throw me challenges and obstacles, but I welcome them and embrace it all head on.  I don't need to be scared of afraid of what is to come, because my past has taught me just how strong I really am.  All I need to keep in mind is that every part of me is beautiful, and I finally see I'm a work of art, a masterpiece. . . 

Thursday, 28 December 2017

One sweet day. . .

Sorry I never told you, all I wanted to say. . . 
This blogpost is a tribute to Va'aelua Taloolevavau Malo Va'aelua

Sorry I never told you
All that I wanted to say
Now it's too late to hold you
'Cause you've flown away
So far away

My earliest memory of you was when we went on a trip to Samoa with the youth group in 1984.
We stopped off at my father's village and I remember we took so many photos.  There was a big welcome from the village and I remember my older cousins who lived in the village pestering me to ask my father for money during the festivities.  I remember you in those photos, because I would often look through our family photo albums and you featured quite prominently in them.  The most striking feature about you in a photo is your sheer size.  Clearly the tallest person in the photo, your stature could not be surpassed by anyone else, not even by your younger brothers

Never had I imagined
Living without your smile
Feeling and knowing you're near me
It keeps me alive

I think the older you got, your smile became more apparent and easy to share.
I understood what your sons and daughter said about you in your eulogies.
Your insistence and high expectations that everyone did what they were good at, to the best of their ability is something that I was raised to believe in too.  You didn't give your smile freely.  I used to laugh when I would say hello to you (internally of course!), as I did with all the church fathers, and you would greet me without a smile.  That was just your way.  Praise never escaped your lips easily; it had to be earned.  I would learn this as I got older when I started playing piano for church.  After playing the closing song for the service I would come out the side door and you would walk towards the minister's house lead by your wife and a family member as you struggled to walk.  I would greet you and ask if you were well.  You would answer, "Malo Manu, manaia pese".  That was just your way.  Praise never escaped your lips easily; it had to be earned.

And I know you're shining down on me from heaven
Like so many friends we've lost along the way
And I know eventually we'll be together
One sweet day

There are so many stories that my father had to share about you at the family service, but he could only touch on the highlights.  We talked about what he was going to say about you.  I had never seen my father prepare for a eulogy as much as he did for yours.  He also had to do the prayer for the service and he worked on his sentiments for that as well.  I think it was a testament for the respect he held for you.  One story that he didn't mention but that I also thought was a funny one, was that sometimes during some church services when a minister would announce a hymn and rather than have accompaniment for it, he would expect someone to sing it a cappella from the congregation.  You knew that you didn't have the best voice in the world, but you had no qualms about starting a song and singing with gusto. 

Darling I never showed you
Assumed you'd always be there
I, I took your presence for granted
But I always cared
And I miss the love we shared

This week has been full of preparations to farewell you. 
To do my part the best I knew how would mean playing for your final church services. 
As long as I can remember being at church, you have been a constant figure.
Your children have grown up alongside my brothers, and each of us has someone in the same age group that parallels with yours.  I was probably more aware of you in my high school years in church meetings and church events that we held.  You were a commanding presence and anytime you spoke the room would always fall silent.  With your physical presence gone, the room will just be silent and empty without you in it.

Although the sun will never shine the same
I'll always look to a brighter day
Lord I know when I lay me down to sleep
You will always listen as I pray

Your children expressed their stories about you in their own way.
It was humbling to see how much each had their own relationship with you. 
I remember attending at least three of their weddings - Faamanuia, Solofa and Fouai. 
I remember Fouai's reception quite vividly.  It was the hall and I was in the Sunday School rooms hanging out with the other kids during the speeches.  I remember playing for Solofa's wedding.  It was at church and only a small gathering was invited.  I brought my friend Mana to sing with me. I was still in the youth group at the time.  I also played for Faamanuia's wedding, and I remember the service was at a church in Ponsonby.  Lapi Mariner sang and we only rehearsed during the wedding rehearsal before the actual wedding day.  You shone like the sun on those days.  In times of celebration, that was when I saw you at your happiest.  You loved to celebrate your children.
When I started teaching Sunday School, Fouai and I taught in the same class.  Soon enough your grandchildren would start making their way through my class.  It was good to see them grown up and speak about how much you loved them - more than their parents it seemed.  But that's what grandparents do right? 

And I know you're shining down on me from heaven
Like so many friends we've lost along the way
And I know eventually we'll be together
One sweet day

As your family and friends prepare to say goodbye to you today, I just wanted to say thank you.
We have lost a lot of church friends along the way and more recently in quick succession.
I know you will be happy to be reunited with the ones who have gone before you, while those you leave behind will constantly ache for the absence you have created.
I am sure that everyone who has been touched by your acts of generosity, staunch stance on doing what's right and what's best at all times (high expectations) will treasure those memories with you.

Rest in peace Va'aelua.  You will be missed.
I will pray for your loved ones and those you loved the most.
Grief is a personal journey and there is no easy way to get over a significant loss.
As much as they have each other and the support of their nearest and dearest, they will never forget you, and may also be thinking Sorry I never told you, All I wanted to say. . . 

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

All in love is fair. . .

I had to go away. . . 

All is fair in love
Love's a crazy game
Two people vow to stay
In love as one they say

I've written a lot of songs over the years. Some people have heard some of them, others I haven't really let people listen to because they are like private windows that show situations and scenes that don't need an audience.  I guess it's easy to write love songs because everyone has their own experiences of love (or lack of it).  I have had lots of friends go through some traumatic experiences when it comes to love and these have served as inspiration for the songs I have written (so no, I'm not a Taylor Swift by a longshot!).  What fascinates me about love is how when it is shared between two people, there are the promises made that pass each other's lips.  You make these promises with no view of anything else around you, because when you're in love, all you see is the person right in front of you - nothing else seems to be present, all else just fades into the background, and soft music plays that makes everything seem to slow down.  That and you think that their voice is like music to your ears. Lots of people treat love as a crazy game.  They hurt each other and they do things to continually try to test people and their professed love.  What makes you vow to stay in love as one?

But all is changed in time
The future no one can see
The road you leave behind
Ahead lies mystery

It stands to reason that time does change everything.
The less time or the longer it takes you to do things is totally up to you.  I think we fret so much about the future that we forget that if we pay attention to the now, and deal with that first, then the future will be protected, or at least in some way, can take care of itself.  Nobody is meant to see the future I guess. We can dream about it and start to make plans about what we would like to be able to do.  We can see the potential in people and in pathways that you can choose to take.  Have you thought a lot about the roads you have left behind?  I sometimes think about and even reminisce about the roads I have left behind.  I wonder about if I had stayed on those roads, where I would have ended up right now.  I don't think about those roads with regret.  I know that the choices I made on those roads were the best decisions that were either made for me, or made by me.  You can always think, what if I had made a different decision?  Well, you didn't.  You didn't have the strength or the courage to make the decision that would've altered the very reality you're living.  You didn't think about giving yourself that present - how to prepare for the mystery ahead.  Just enjoy what you have and who you have.

But all is fair in love
I had to go away
A writer takes his pen
To write the words again
That all in love is fair

What is fair in love?
Is it when things just can no longer be, that you just need to accept things for what they are and just learn how to grow through it and push past it?  How does one make something fair in love?  What is fairness these days?  Doing what's best for someone else in the long run and not compromising their life, or ruining theirs - does this come at the expense of your own?  It's a question of who being fair isn't it?  There is a certain amount of compromise or some concession at least that people need to be willing to accommodate in order for equity in love to exist.  But is that what you want in love?  Is that what's fair?  Where did you have to go? When we have to go away, we might be running away from or running towards something or someone.  That's another thing to decide for yourself as well.  You might be running away from problems that you can't see a resolution in sight, so you need to disappear a bit (or at least disappear from the situation a bit) in order to gain some clarity.  When we are running towards a goal that will, we hope, give us some peace of mind - then make plans to do so, as much as possible.

All of fate's a chance
It's either good or bad
I tossed my coin to say
In love with me you'd stay

We cannot decide whether someone stays in love with us or not.
We think we are invincible when things first start out.  They display some sort of obsession or possession (you can't really tell sometimes the difference between the two) so you go with that.  You go with that feeling that what you are being subjected to is completely natural, it's what everyone else goes through when they are in love.  You start to make excuses or justifications for why you are being mistreated or abused (from low level "is-this-a-thing" to full blown "it's-time-to-call-the-cops").  You ask your friends to check for comparison what you're experiencing because you think that sharing the situation, if they have already gone through what you're going through, you can get some answers at least.  But it's the darnedest thing in the world when feelings change.  Yes. Feelings.  These things change all the time, like how you change underwear when you start to feel all types of funk.  Some people like the funk more than others and won't wash for days (but I digress, that's a whole other blog post).  The choices we make, combined with the chances that present themselves (if we take them) take us to places that involve coin tosses or coin losses.  Up to you how you play with those coins.  
But all in war is so cold
You either win or lose
When all is put away
The losing side I'll play

What happens when love turns to war?
This is when you start to see feeling change.  The rose coloured glasses have come off.  The gloves do too.  You start arguing about things that you used to laugh about and recognise as quirky loveable things about the other person.  Now you're all up in the realness of not really liking who you've chosen to love and you question what you ever really saw in them in the first place.  This is when you start to realise that you've made this huge level of commitment to someone who isn't really committed to you.  When did you get here?  Why didn't you see the signs along the way? Do you normally win or lose?  You start thinking about the fact that things have been changing steadily over time, for a while now, but you were distracted by other things that you thought were pressing, that took your attention away from the priorities that you needed to focus on.  It's ok to play on the losing side I guess.  But if you're in the habit of playing on the losing side, this probably means that you enjoy losing yourself in this dimension.  You don't know any other way to be when you're in love.

But all is fair in love
I should have never left your side
A writer takes his pen
To write the words again
That all in love is fair
A writer takes his pen 
To write the words again
That all in love is fair

I hope that when you take your pen, you think about what the story is that you want to write.
Too often we either second guess ourselves or make rash decisions that can set us on a course not only for self destruction, but no closer to what we thought we had set out to gain - love.
What stories have you written so far with your pen?  Have they been stories of heartache, or lost loves?  Have they been forbidden stories that nobody is allowed to read but you continue to write?  Sometimes you might be told those stories, or you create them yourself, starring in your own salacious episodes that nobody pictured or even dreamed you were capable of acting in.  I guess once we're all done with deciding what is fair in love, then we might be able to engage in it more meaningfully and without any reservations about ourselves.  What is stopping us from being where we want to be?  What pressures do we face that prevent us from loving how we want with who we want?  I don't know the answers to these question for you, the reader.  I don't know your stories.  I can only answers those questions for myself and what works for me.  One thing I do know for sure, though - as a writer I will take my pen and write more words again.  As often as I need to.  Because after all that I've been through, I know that even though love isn't the easiest thing to understand, I know that in order to understand it in its fullest extent, I must be willing to acknowledge that all in love is fair. . .   

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Angel. . .

May you find some comfort here. . . 

Spend all your time waiting for that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
There's always some reason to feel not good enough
And it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction, oh beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
Let me be empty and weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

How long have you been waiting for your second chance?
It might have been something or someone that you've been waiting for.  There might have been signs along the way that presented, that made you think that you the chance was coming.  Did you believe it would be as easy as all that?  We beat ourselves up thinking that we're not worthy to receive love, not worthy to live as we want and so we put ourselves last, put the things and people away, push them away because we think we don't deserve any of that.  What distractions have you been filling your days with lately?  Distractions can be helpful or they can hinder you.  Sometimes when we focus too much on something, it detracts from us being able to relax and let things take their natural course.  What memories are you bleeding out from your veins?  Are they memories that you are trying to forget?  We should acknowledge the things and people that bring us pain and decide what we are going to do about it.  There's no point in making any decisions that will not bring you peace tonight.  What does Christmas symbolise?  The bringing of peace and goodwill to all men. 

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
Far from this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

Where would you fly to?
How many dark cold hotel rooms have you found yourself lying in?
People may not be aware of the darkness that you have lived through.  You might be thinking that you will never show that side of yourself because it's your own private space that doesn't require an audience.  When we get stuck in those places, we should only be in them as long as we need to recognise that it's time to escape.  People have different ideas about what hotel rooms can offer.  Depending on what activities you are invited into or find yourself in, you can't really know how you are going to react to what you find.  What is the endlessness that you find in those dark cold hotel rooms?  Where will the arms of the angel come to offer you some relief and comfort from the drama or situations that plague you?  Do we know enough angels that we can call on to help us when we need it most?  Where would you fly if you had the chance to fly?  The endless moments that you would rather end - totally depends on how strong you become to end them yourself.         

So tired of the straight line and everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back
And the storm keeps on twisting 
You keep on building the lies
That you make up for all that you lack
It don't make a difference
Escaping one last time
It's easier to believe in this sweet madness oh
This glorious sadness that brings me to my knees

Life isn't mean to be lived in a straight line. 
We have so many plans as teenagers, that careful stage of dream time when we think that there's so many opportunities out there and start to learn how to push our own boundaries, to push the boundaries of others.  I naively thought that my live was going to be lived in a straight line, but it didn't turn out that way.  Now I think, I don't think I would have enjoyed the life I lead if it had been all straight.  There have been many other lines that came from nowhere and that I followed, some eagerly, others somewhat reluctantly, but they all lead me to one place.  The best of me.  Despite whatever challenges and obstacles I faced, I have learned to value all of the experiences I have had.  They are the lines that have lead me to the straight line that I thought connected me directly to my destiny.  We soon discover that no matter how many times we escape, we can never run away from who is staring back at us in the mirror.

In the arms of the angel 

Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

I hope that you continue to have silent reveries.
The deliberate contrast of the wreckage and our silent reverie makes us think about perception.
Does what we see and what others see about the same situation the same?  I wonder when I will feel the arms of the angel.  I think if you can believe what those arms will feel like and the kind of comfort that you would receive, it helps you figure out what kind of life you should be leading, how hard you are prepared to live life.  I often wonder if that wreckage I've been pulled from in slow motion will come to a head (literally) and I will be able to see it before it hits - that moment of impact where the silence is deafening and everything slows right down until all you can do is feel the damage that is caused.  I guess then, and only then would quiet relief from an angel would suffice.  Only then would we be able to end the endlessness that we continue to manifest and create with our anxiety and worry.  I am thankful that I will be in the arms of the angel when I need them the most.  I hope that you find the same.  May you find some comfort here. . . 

Friday, 22 December 2017

Satellite call. . .

This is so you'll know the sound. . . 

This one's for the lonely child
Broken hearted
Running wild
This was written for the one to blame
For the one who believes they are the cause of chaos in everything

Who do you blame for how things are going in your life?
For all of the negative things that you think you had no choice in participating in or helping to shape?
There are a lot of lonely people out there and it becomes more prevalent when big holidays emerge.  But I've spoken before about the fact that you can be alone in the midst of a crowd.  You might not know how to handle the mental and spiritual distance that everyone is at, even though you're in close physical proximity.  Why does this happen?  Are there things that we are meant to figure out?  It might take us a little time to discern what we think from what actually is.  People may not want the help that you've been accustomed to giving.  Skepticism is natural and not  something that you can disprove unless people are willing to see what you see.  Maybe you are to blame for all the chaos in your life? Is that something that you've considered?  It's always easy to blame others; to look outward instead of within.

You may find yourself in the dead of night
Lost somewhere out there in the great big beautiful sky
We're all just perfect little satellites
Spinning round and round this broken earthly life

Have you ever been out somewhere and then only noticed your surroundings quite keenly?
You look up into the sky and then wonder if someone else somewhere halfway around the world is looking up at the same sky and wondering where they fit in with that sky?  Having a sense of belonging is important and it's something that we are taught from an early age to value or aspire to acquire if we haven't been lucky to be born with access to a caring group of people who love you and raise you.  Where to get lost?  There are so many places around the world that you could willingly get lost in.  There are might be some places close to you where you can get lost somewhere too.  I guess it comes down to how open you are to seeing things in different ways, to know what it means to transport your mind to other places that you wouldn't normally go, so that you can begin to learn about how to understand your own consciousness.

This is so you know the sound
Of someone who loves you from the ground
Tonight you're not alone at all
This is me sending out my satellite call

The vocalisations that Sara Bareilles makes in this song, seem to mimic what satellite calls might sound like, when satellites communicate with each, transmitting information and data that is invisible to the naked eye.  Who are you sending your messages out to?  Hopefully people who will appreciate that even though you cannot be together, that they are never far from your thoughts, that if things had gone differently, who knows where they would be right now.  When you feel alone, and it may be often, think about the times when you were weren't.  That method is always guaranteed to make you depressingly sad or inspire you to reminisce through all of the different memories that constitute the need to still reconnect.  Do  you think people know what the sounds of your satellite call sound like?  What if they forget what they sound like?  How are you supposed to communicate then?   

This is so you'll know the sound
Of someone who loves you
From the ground
Tonight you're not alone at all
This is me sending out my satellite call

I hope that you listen to your own satellite call.
Listen carefully to your own sounds that you are emitting and the message that you want to send out.
Sometimes we unknowingly send out signals when they might not be the right things to do.  We must constantly check for weather conditions, for whether other satellites are attuned to what we are saying, and if they aren't - then that's ok.  We need to be more discerning about what is ok for ourselves and what is ok for others.  When you don't want to be blamed for not being there for someone, I guess it's ok to be guilty for being over protective or trying to be helpful!  I guess we do things like that just so we keep our contacts and connections informed.  This is so you'll know the sound. . .