Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Reconnect. . .

I've written about Maisey Rika before in a previous blog post (see "Tangaroa Whakamautai").
This single was released as part of her EP in March 2009.  Since that time, Maisey has enjoyed success both in Aotearoa and abroad with her unique blend of te reo Māori (the indigenous language of Aotearoa), haunting melodies and primarily acoustic instrumentation with the occasional strings and rhythmic accompaniment.

A whakatauki is a Māori proverbial expression that is used to depict meaning with layers of significance.  A mihi is the traditional Māori way of introducing yourself when addressing a group of people.

The whakatauki I use in my mihi is e koekoe te tui, e ketekete te kākā, e kūkū te kererū - the tui chatters, the parrot gabbles and the wood pigeon coos. 
Because my name is Manu, which translates as 'bird' in both Māori and Samoan, I thought it would be apt to select a whakatauki that reflected my connection (or reconnection, if we stay in the same vein as today's song suggests) between my name and the different types of birds in the whakatauki.

I always explain that in my line of work that I need to chatter like a tui - I must be knowledgable and know what I'm talking about because that's what I've been relied upon to provide (advice and guidance).  Sometimes I might need to gabble like a parrot - my sense of humour and way of connecting with people to create a distraction or diversion - but mostly to make people feel comfortable is another facet to my bird personality.  Finally cooing like a wood pigeon means that sometimes I might be called upon to be the peacemaker or the bridge builder to ensure that conflicts can be resolved and worked through, if not prevented from developing in the first place.

Do you hear the tui call, the huia in the trees
A conscious thing I do, sweet sound you may never seize,
Do ya feel my body burn whenever you are near
A thing I do, a fool for you will I ever learn?

You paid me a visit and it seemed like you wanted to reconnect.
You didn't know what to call or label what we have, so I've chosen not to call it or label it anything.
Maybe it's something that's innately within us that calls us to each other then because you can't seem to stay away and I still seem to be drawn to you.

I hear voices it's summer calling
No more lone, no more lone, no more loneliness
Tis the season to be jolly
But it's not working, it's not working, it's not working out

It doesn't work because it's not meant to be worked out I guess.
It doesn't work because I can't be jolly - even for the season.

We seem to reconnect over the summer, it's when we met of course so it's no surprise that you keep reappearing during these warmer months of the year in Aotearoa.
I sometimes get confused - if it's summer calling, or if it's actually you.
The sweet sound gets sweeter each time I hear it - and it's harder to differentiate between you and summer now.

Change is inevitable, things don't last forever
things don't last forever, things don't last forever
Change is inevitable, things don't last forever
things don't last forever, things don't last forever
Do ya hear me now. . . 

It's been ten years and still we reconnect.
Even though change is inevitable and things don't last forever, there are still remnants of what was.
There are still traces of what was deep set, deeply entrenched and heavy in my heart, hands and mind.
I hope that we continue to reconnect.  Even though it doesn't last forever, it's sufficient enough for when I need you most of all.  You always seem to know just when to resurface when I am at my end.
Now I know. . . you always hear me. . .

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

If. . .

This blog post is a song request from +Shannon Vulu 

I have fond memories of playing If by Bread.
It was the first song I performed publicly on the piano at a wedding in my hometown at another church.  I remember purchasing the sheet music for the song at the music store that I still purchase sheet music from as an adult.  I also remember trying out the song at the music store on one of the upright pianos.  I loved the music arrangement in the sheet music and thus began my love for performing wedding music.  It ended up being the wedding waltz for the newlywed couple.

If a picture paints a thousand words
Then why can't I paint you
The words will never show the you I've come to know
If a face can launch a thousand ships
Then where am I to go?
There's noone home but you
You're all that's left me too
And when my love for life is running dry
You come and pour yourself on me

There's something beautiful and poignant about love songs that not only speak about the love for others, but describes how love makes you feel.  When someone can encourage you and empower you to love life because they pour so much love onto you, has almost become the best forms of healing for myself.  When I least expect it, but I suspect when I need it the most - love has poured itself on me through the many people that I have had the privilege of knowing in this lifetime.  

It can also be extremely challenging to hear from people how great you and how wonderful the world is with you in it.  It can be difficult to hear because it's not because you don't believe what you hear, but you almost doubt yourself that you mean that much to someone else.  You're probably unaware about how much you have done for others indirectly because they haven't had the chance to say so.  I hope you rectify this in the new year to come and willingly and openly share with others how they make you feel and how they make such a difference to your life.

If a man can be in two places at one time 
I'd be with you
Tomorrow and today, beside you all the way
If the world should stop revolving spinning slowly down to die
I'd spend the end with you
And when the world was through
Then one by one the stars would all go out
Then you and I would simply fly away. . . 

There will be many people in your life that wish they could spend more time with you, would rather be with you than who they're with now - they're possibly trapped by obligation, circumstances beyond their control - or they've chosen pathways that they now regret or they've never met anybody like you before and now can't resist keeping away from you.  

For whatever reason - tread carefully.

The thing about "if" is that it is a delicate world of possibilities that isn't stable or safe.
I hope that I have learned enough lessons in my life to know when to leave well enough alone.
I think I've done a pretty good job so far doing so and have made decisions that have been the right ones to make for everyone mostly - least of all myself.  Even when I'm tempted to fly away with you.

I continue to hope - for you and me. . . 

Love of a woman. . .

This blog post is an irie song dedication for +Moana Timoko 

Horace Andy sings about The love of a woman in this song.  Reflecting on the year that was, it has been another year without the cherished love, particularly the intimacy that I miss - and possibly others that I know too, who though they may not be in a similar situation to me, but are in relationships that are not as strong as they want them to be.

I've been enjoying feeling 'the love' this year though in various forms.  It is difficult to be open again to the possibility of love.  I admire how it makes me feel, I mean, anyone who is in love will attest to how much happier they are in life and that even the minor things that would normally get them all riled up, seem trivial and insignificant.

The love of a woman is all I can take
The love of a woman is all I can give
That is all
That is all I can do

The heart of a woman is all I can steal
I did it two times already yeah
Now I'm gonna do it once again
'Cause I'm a man, yes I'm a man
And not a boy

I reflect on the many loves that have been taken, how much love I have given.
It always amazes me that even when love turns sour or it morphs into something that you didn't anticipate, that there is still much to learn from it.  I think the greatest lessons that I have to learn in my lifetime will be to learn from what love has done, what it hasn't, how I show it, how I don't show it, how others show me, how others don't show me, whether it is planned or unplanned, whether it takes me by surprise, whether it seduces me or tries to wear me down - you can't deny that love is, what it is.  There will be many boys who will try to prove to you that they are no longer boys, but that they are in fact men who are now capable of giving you the love that you deserve.  I guess we need to be more discerning about whether or not we choose to accept this transformation right ladies? Or my male friends who also play on my team :-)

Girl..... yeah girl......
Hmmm... la la la la.....

The heart of a woman is all I can steal 
I did it two times already yeah
Now I'm gonna do it once again
'Cause I'm a man, yes I'm a man
And not a boy

I'm a man, yes I'm a man
And not a boy. . . 

Reacquainting yourself with previous loves can be challenging, but it also serves to remind you what kind of love you were experiencing with them at that time.  Snapshot love, I call it.  It's an old photo that you take out and look at from time to time and remember the glory days.  Of course, once that previous love irritates you again, the reasons for the relationship ending start to resurface and you put the old photo away or you throw it out.

In any case, I hope that you get your heart stolen many times over.
I've let it get stolen a few times in my lifetime and I plan on keeping myself open to the possibilities of love because I love the way love makes me feel.  Heck, it doesn't mean that I plan on getting married tomorrow, it just means that I will take each day as it comes, especially as we are fast approaching the first new day of the new year.

I hope that the men who have recently left behind their boyhood - show your ladies (or men, if you play on my team too) how much more manly you really are.

Happy New Year everyone.
Keep sharing the love in 2015.

You get what you give. . .

The New Radicals released You get what you give in 1998.  I've heard it used many times on television commercials.  I think it's a great song for me to end the year with here in Aotearoa.  It's been a tremendous year, particularly in the second half of the year with so many family events and the expectations and obligations that accompany such family events.

It has often felt like there has been little opportunity to have some downtime or some 'alone time' this year so that will definitely need to be rectified in the New Year.  I am finding enjoyment in my own company, reacquainting myself with my own thought processes, testing my own limits and making decisions about myself to be the best person I can be for the world.

Wake up kids, we've got the dreamer's disease

At age 14 we got you down on your knees
So polite you're still busy saying please

I think that I have matured somewhat in the last few years (not talking about age here, but more about my outlook on life).  I'm learning to be less judgemental of others (we all know that's hard sometimes, because we do not like to admit when we're wrong, even when we blatantly are).  I've learned to admit and confess to mistakes, my weaknesses, mostly to myself if not to others.  Too often it can be easy to spot flaw in others, and I have been surrounded by a lovely bunch of people who are unafraid to tell me some home truths when I need them the most.

I still have the dreamer's disease - but like any disease, I have a course of treatment that I've developed and I'm self-administering the doses with a little bit of reality as well.  I'm probably going to be busy saying a little less 'please' next year as I come into my own, particularly when I should not have to apologise for speaking my mind and fighting to do what's right.

If you feel your dream is dying
Hold tight
You've got the music in you
Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
The world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
Can't forget you only get what you give

My reason to live is to spread love and be a useful person to others - rendering a life of service.
I have a lot of music in me that I've kept buried for some time, that was just recently unleashed in Samoa, so it's also going to take a bit of getting used to the idea of releasing that music to the world.  The music in me can literally mean my music, but also the essence of who I really am as a person and what I can do.

I hope you won't let your dream die - whatever it is.
I've been surrounded by musicians in the last few weeks - even yesterday, speaking to a couple of musicians whose opinions I highly value when it comes to music and the type of music that I make.
There are some serious decisions to be made ahead and it's an exciting time, yet scary.
But I wouldn't have it any other way.

I hope that you get the best that life has to offer.
But I guess you must be prepared to give as much as you want to get.
I hope that the blog posts I've shared with you this year have helped you or entertained you in some way.  Then at least, I'll know that I have fulfilled one of my many reasons to live - to give to you.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Wonder Woman. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Sieni Voorwinden

Wonder Woman is the Amazon warrior-princess that all little girls wanted to be in the 80s.  The original super heroine who hailed from royalty - with her long flowing raven mane, bright blue eyes, athletic build and quick thinking, Princess Diana of Themyscira was truly a wonder.

As an impressionable young child, I would be taken away on Wonder Woman's adventures as she fought for justice and to right the wrongs brought against the victims she saved in each episode.

All the world is waiting for you
and the power your possess
in your satin tights
fighting for your rights
and the old red white and blue 

I've just returned from spending Christmas with family in Samoa and to some extent it felt like I was a bit of a Wonder Woman taking on extra duties and responsibilities that I hadn't anticipated taking on board (let's be real - I was trying to escape that in Aotearoa lol).  Granted it's been a while since I looked smoking hot in satin tights (the privacy in one's home is always the safest venue for such an outing ha!) but fighting for people's rights (including my own) has always been something that I have been passionate about upholding.

Now the world is ready for you
and the wonders you can do
Make a hawk a dove
stop a war with love
make a liar tell the truth

I know quite a lot of wonder women in my life.
I've grown up with them, I work with some of them, I am close friends with some of them and there are even some other wonder women I have yet had the pleasure to meet.  I guess that's an exciting prospect for a wonder woman - to meet other women like herself, to offer that collegial support, I mean let's face it - it's the sisterhood that we have to value and seek with other like-minded women.

All our hopes are pinned upon you
and the magic that you can do
stop a bullet cold
make the axis fold
change their minds and change the world

My time away from the land of my birth and spending it in the land of my forefathers has made me appreciate where I am descended from, why I am the person that I am today, why I fight for the injustices that are faced by indigenous peoples and diaspora societies wherever they may be - because it makes up the essence of who I am, it's the foundation of how I choose to lead my life.

I hope that my fellow wonder women continue to be just that - wonder women.
I hope that you continue to fulfil your purpose of who you are and what you do.
Change minds and change the world sisters xx

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

How do you want to be remembered. . .

Today's blog post is a song request from +Shannon Vulu 

How do you want to be remembered
As a sinner or a saint, as a hero or a villain?
Think about the steps you take
How do you want to be remembered
When they're standing at your grave
On your tombstone, what is written?
Think about the steps you take

As the year draws to a close, it is quite natural for us to start to reflect on the year that was.
There have been a lot of fallen comrades this year - I've acknowledged their passing in previous blog posts - Tagaloa Peter Su'a (Lullabye), Melaine Sagala-Timoteo (She's got a way) and Matamea (A place in the sun).  Writing about their lives and how they have impacted on me has been a comfort.  Celebrating one's life when they have departed this world is the best way to cope with grief.  Part of how I choose to celebrate is to write about them in this blog.  It's one of the many reasons why I chose to write this blog - as not only a way to share my thoughts and feelings with the world, but to also honour Loma's last wish for me - which was to 'be happy'.  I find great joy in writing blog posts and sharing these thoughts with everyone.  

I couldn't find a decent live performance of How do you want to be remembered by Magic, so enjoy the sound quality in the video below:

All my life I've been searching for the answers
How did I lose so much of the things that really matter?
Is there no paradise, cause I feel no joy or laughter
Seems everything I touch only turns into disaster
So I ask myself. . . 

How do you want to be remembered
When your children come to aid
And they need some inspiration
Think about the steps you take

The song emphasises the idea of legacy and how the steps we take leads us to how we are perceived by those we leave behind.  At the best of times (or at the worse, depends really how you view it) I can have a very morbid demeanour.  I think alot about death.  I think alot about what might happen when I leave this world.  The practice run I've had is analysing what happens when I lose other people close to me.  I think alot about how the world feels without them in it.  

Will you be an inspiration or an example of frustration? I already know that people who don't like me or love me will be happy when I am gone, because I will probably no longer pose a threat to their lives (I have a sneaking suspicion who those people are but it's kind of awkward to ask directly for confirmation ha!).  These people make life interesting and most likely, interacting with them could very well determine whether you end up in heaven, hell or limbo or some other astral plane that nobody knows about yet. 

Do I reach for love only when she says she's leaving?
Do I pray above only when I feel I'm needing?
See I can't sleep at night, when sheep turn into demons
There's no alibi when the jury knows your secret 
So I ask myself. . .  

Cause on the day that you face judgement
You better have your story straight
Were you a good friend and a husband
To the wife that gives you love love love 
You love, love, love oh. . . 

I hope that you love the people that you're with.
Even the ones that you could quite happily strangle and distance yourself (yes I'm talking about the crazy people that make up your family.  How do I know?  I come from a loooooong line of crazy - but like I said before - it definitely makes my life interesting!).

I hope that you think about the legacy that you will leave behind.
I think the most overwhelming lessons I've learned about legacy building is that in order to have people sustain your vision of prosperity, happiness and transformation - that you take the steps to get there.  Do good.  For yourself, for others.  Even those that try to ruin you.  Smile and help those poor buggers anyway.  It's hard to do - but soooo rewarding in terms of the growth that you experience.  

I'm spending Christmas in Samoa this year and I don't anticipate being online during the time that I'm there.  So I will wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and hope you enjoy your family and friends till you burst with happiness.  I know I will.  This is how I want to be remembered. . . 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Slow. . .

I've only just been introduced to Rumer quite recently. Today's blog post focuses on Slow.  Her vocal tone is reminiscent of Karen Carpenter.  It is so hard to find distinctive voices that speak to your soul.  Most record executives and record producers will argue that they will spend most of their days listening for the next big sound.  Rumer has been around since 2011 and has enjoyed critical acclaim with her music and she has performed and worked with music legends such as Elton John and Burt Bacharach. 

You make me want to sing about love
Everytime I raise my head
You make me want to tell the whole world
What I've found is good

It's what love makes you do right?  You get lost in it quite easily.  You let it consume you if you're not too careful.  There is a quite confidence that befalls someone when they know that they are in love, if that love is reciprocated I mean, if it's imaginary - who cares either way right? love just is....

Then they say
Slow this right down
Don't burn it out
Don't let it show
Oh but my heart is racing
To hold your gaze and
let it go

The very clever tempo change to slow down the chorus. making it more distinctive that the verse is a great compositional technique.  It also signals the shift in how to manage these wayward feelings of love that can threaten to push one over the edge, become all-consuming and rule your head.
Being able to savour how your love develops with someone is a super conscious and careful way to go about it.  Are we going slow because there is a fear that it might not work out?  That the flames of love might extinguish itself too quickly and snuff itself out while we're not looking?

My love, my love, my love
killin' time is easy when you're here
From dreams I've seen you before
You're so familiar
And everywhere I go
Hear me calling for my love

One of my favourite ways to love, just the simple act of spending time together, enjoying each other's company, being physically close.  Love can also make you feel like you've known this love your whole life and maybe if you have, which is why they feel so familiar to you.  What were you in a past life? How did you get here?  Have your dreams become reality?  Do you often go around your day calling for your love in your heart of hearts and hope that they hear you?  Maybe they can hear you calling when nobody else can.  There is some comfort I think in knowing that your forever love hears you call for them and knows to answer your call.

Cause if it's you
I will disarm you
And if it's you
Do you know how to calm me down
Oh let me sleep in my arms
Then I won't hear them singing

Finding solace in the arms of one you love will most likely enable you to get the best night's sleep you've ever had.  Who are these other people that are singing to you?  Will you be able to disarm each other in time, to recognise that you are now finally together where time and space does not exist in order to hear each other's heart song ringing pure and clear - far removed from the other singing that you hear that may be detracting from your music making.

You make me want to sing about love
Even though you don't wanna know
You make me want to tell the whole world
But I know
You don't like it
You don't like it
You don't like it

I hope that one day you will like taking things slow.
I hope that one day you will like being in love and embrace what it means to share it with someone.
Even though you don't want to know, I hope that one day you will come to know. . . it will just be slow. . .

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The wonder of you. . .

This blog post is a song request from +Daphne Papuni 

This is the second blog post I've written about the legendary King of Rock 'n' Roll (see "In the ghetto" in a previous blog post).   My memories of The wonder of you stems from hearing different kapa haka groups perform their own special renditions of it as part of their performance brackets for national competitions here in Aotearoa.  I also associated this song with my dear friend +Christina Muaiava and her wonderful family as she wrote an arrangement of this song in Samoa and they sing it for Seventh Day Adventist services that focus on family.  

When noone else can understand me 
When everything I do is wrong
You give me hope and consolation
You give me strength to carry on

Is there someone in your life that does this for you?  Maybe you're that someone for someone else?  It can be disconcerting to try and make plans, test ideas and be yourself when things might not go your way. It is very easy to feel useless or disillusioned.  It is easy to feel like the whole world is against you and just when you think you're making progress, you slide backwards again.

And you're always there to lend a hand
In everything I do
That's the wonder
The wonder of you

Grab hold of that someone who knows when to be around you, knows when to be there for you only when you need them to be.  Think back in your life when you've come across some times when you've had that someone come in and save you at the eleventh hour, when it all seems that all hope is lost and your world has ended.

And when you smile the world is brighter
You touch my hand and I'm a king
Your kiss to me is worth a fortune
Your love for me is everything 

There's nothing quite like not just lending a hand but lending both hands - but don't stop there - lend your time, energy and support to heal people.  To some level I think our purpose as humans is to connect with others and heal the broken pieces of ourselves.  There's something fundamental about human touch - a kiss, a hug, physical intimacy.  The cynics in us would say there's no such thing as a kiss being worth a fortune, that love surpasses all.  Maybe you just haven't had the love of a lifetime to know how that feels.

I'll guess I'll never know the reason why
You love me like you do
That's the wonder
The wonder of you

I hope that if you feel like you don't deserve your partner - stop feeling that way.  Who needs to know why people love us the way they do? That they love us as intently as they do that we can't begin to fathom the depths or the reasons why.  I just hope that you get to experience the wonder of someone like that in your lifetime.  If you already have that someone - I know your world is made brighter by their smile.  I hope you can see the wonder that I see in you . . . 

La'u Samoa e matalasi. . .

This blog post is a song request from +Anthony Faitaua 

I have also had requests from +Sonya Van Schaijik and +Tahu Paki to write a blog post in gagana Samoa (Samoan language) - so to satisfy the request, I started the Gagana Samoa page on this blog.  Be sure to check it out.  From time to time I will write in Samoan, because it is the language of my ancestors; it is what defines the essence of who I am. I learned how to read and write it in Aoga Aso Sa - my church Sunday School.

Today's song is a Five Stars classic that has had so many cover versions of it done over the years by Pacific groups such as Jamoa Jam, including covers by solo artists Swiss and Sara Jane Auva'a extending even to choral arrangements of this piece (I've done one myself..... just need to find where I've put the notation....).

La'u Samoa e matalasi    
Ua siosiomia e le sami   
Atu mauga lanu lau 'ava 
Feoa'i fiafia ona tagata 

It is quite timely that I do a song about Samoa today as I am preparing to return to my ancestral home for Christmas this year.  I was only there a few months ago for my sister in law's funeral.  I just missed my brother's wedding yesterday.  Obligations and duties keep me tied to Aotearoa until I fly out next week.  This verse speaks about Samoa's beauty, how she is surrounded by the ocean, is peppered with rising mountains and her people roam happily within her.  

La'u Samoa la'u Samoa ea  
Le Atua e lou fa'avae e moni lea  
Le Ao o lou Malo tali'ilagi 
Samoa ea i Malo aufa'atasi 

The first time I came across this song was learning it as part of the ma'ulu'ulu (action song) for our ASB Polyfest Samoan group performance bracket in 1991 (many moons ago, I know).  The good thing about using such songs with its rich and dense language is the ability to understand what the words mean by attaching actions to depict their meaning.  A vivid memory about performing this song was the all female harmonies that I heard ringing in the air, the layered formation of the dancers - there were four rows and I remember kneeling on my feet in the second row.

Tu lata oe ile Ekuata 
E mafanafana foi le vevela 
So'o se mea aua te popole 
E mamulu mai ile faamolemole 

This verse speaks about Samoa being close to the Equator and the warmth of the heat.  It also speaks about the way of life; there is nothing to worry about as you can always get by asking someone for help.  The song structure follows the typical verse-chorus structure that is indicative of pop songs.  The style of guitar playing is embedded in the 'igi' style or guitar picking of either melodic motifs or countermelodies while the melody is being sung by the vocals.

Malietoa ua Malotau 
O nai upu fa'alaei'au 
Sema ane sota taeao 
Samoa lo ta va'a ia sao 

It is the hope of this final verse in the song that Samoa has a future that is bright and sees her sailing in her canoe through safe passage.  I hope that when you visit your ancestral homeland that you find some strength in her roots, in her earth and in the people that will be there to greet you when you return. . . 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Let your love flow. . .

This blog post is a song request from +Te Mihinga Komene 

There's a reason for the sunshine skies
There's a reason why I'm feeling so high
Must be the season when that love light shines all around us

So let that feeling grab you deep inside
And send you reeling where your love can't hide
And then go stealing through the night with your moonlit lover. . . 

The lyrics of Let your love flow by The Bellamy Brothers make me smile because they speak to me about how love makes you feel, how love is manifested in the way it makes you feel, what you see and how it seems to be embedded in everything around you.  I absolutely believe that to be true.  There is love everywhere.  It's just up to us to let that love flow from ourselves and connect with everything and everyone so that love can continue to grow.

There's a reason for the warm sweet nights
And there's a reason for the candle lights
Must be the season when those love lights shine all around us

So let that wonder take you into space

And lay you under its loving embrace
Just feel the thunder as it warms your face you can't hold back

The explosive nature of love comes from your contact and interaction with someone else.  I think other people become attracted very easily and very quickly to you when they see those love lights shining around you. It can be communicated to us as compliments that might not sit right, but you need to use your discernment I guess to know what is genuine and what seems to have some kind of agenda.

I think the song focuses on the wonderful aspects of love, the goodness of it, the euphoric feelings that make the world that much of a better place to live in, to love in.  When opportunities present themselves, take them, particularly in matters of the heart.  I think our hearts are the most resilient muscle in our bodies.  No matter how many times someone steals it, we give it away, it gets broken or stomped on - it heals every time.  I relish the pain that love brings as much as the joy - because you can't have one without the other.

Just let your love flow like a mountain stream
And let your love grow with the smallest of dreams 
And let your love show and you'll know what I mean it's the season

Let your love fly like a bird on a wing
And let your love bind you to all living things
And let your love shine and you'll know what I mean that's the reason

The beauty of love is often associated with images of nature, because we associate love, true love, with purity and all things natural - it's the most basic, fundamental part of what makes us human.  We can talk about love, but showing love I think is far greater.

This Christmas season I have been focusing on giving.  I'm not really one to buy Christmas presents.  As a child and young adult I was the fervent Christmas card writer, always keen to send Christmas cards to friends the way that people give and receive Valetine's Day cards.  I think I need to return to that again - as it was the most simple and thoughtful way to show people that I cared.  The time that it takes to write words of love (much like me writing my blog posts now that I come to think about) are a way for me to share my love with whoever is reading my words.

I hope that you not only let your love flow, I hope that you let it burst forth from you, that you let your flow soar higher than you've ever let it go, because it will come back to you - more fulfilling than ever before.  There is much to gain from giving.  But you don't just give to get back.  You give love because it's the right thing to do.  So let your love flow.  I'm hoping that you feel my love flow to you. . .

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Fix you. . .

When I taught music in high school, Coldplay featured quite prominently in student choice for solo performances.  I'm not sure if it was because the students felt connected with the way lead singer Chris Martin would sit playing a keyboard on his own.  Fix you is a great track to teach students about the staggered entries of instruments.

When you try your best but you don't succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you just can't sleep
Stuck in reverse. . . 

It can very easy to slip into this.  I get that all the time.  There can sometimes be hollow victories or pieces of the puzzle that don't quite fit.  Remember as a child putting together jigsaw puzzles and you would swear that you had the right piece in place in the puzzle, so you'd try to force it to fit inside the puzzle frame.  But all you needed to do was turn the piece round and round, feel the edges a little more and get a better sense of how it felt in your hand, connecting the shape of it with the empty spaces on the puzzle.  This is sometimes how I feel when I get those pieces together.  It takes a lot longer to process (but hey, you get faster over time with more practice).  The brain seems like it doesn't want to rest, it's over stimulated and too aware of what's going on in the world.

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, and it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

The introduction of the organ's upper register mirrors the higher melody notes.
It's that breaking point that the lyrics speak about with tears streaming down your face that is also mirrored in the almost breaking of the Martin's vocal.  That vulnerability in the voice is haunting because I feel like the song lyrics can make you weep as you would sing it.  There's something magical about the way emotions can be evoked in a song, particularly when despite the vagueness of the lyrics, the listener can automatically picture moments in their own lives that mirror that pain, that deep-seated agony that one must be forced to experience in order to feel peace.

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Piano and vocal harmony is added.  It almost feels like the lyrics of the chorus offers some respite and refuge from the storm.  The lights and ignition brings to mind the human need for warmth, for illumination (not illuminati) to strengthen us and be the light in our own worlds.  We can fall into that trap of trying to fix others and never focus on our own dreams.  Do you have trouble looking for the lights to guide your home?  How long have you waited for the lights to turn on at home so you could go back there?  Is there somebody waiting there to fix you?

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

The rhythm guitar enters in this verse giving some momentum to the song while the organ continues to play minims in the background.  The instrumental interlude that follows is the result of the building frenzy, the release imminent, but only after the thrashing that needs to be promulgated as a rite of passage.  When you have finished fixing other people's lives, not because you want to, but because it has become your lot in life - there will come a time when you will be able to focus on yourself.  There's a reason why you are the one that people always go to for help.

Have you ever asked yourself - are you the fixer or the fixed?

I hope that after you have finished raging through your personal storm in response to being a fixer for such a long time, that your services will no longer be required. I hope that you will empower others to be able to fix themselves.  A smart lecturer of mine once told me, "Strive to be the solution, not the problem."  If I am the answer - if you are the answer - why do we have so many problems?

Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes. .  .

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The littlest hobo. . .

Today's blog post reminds me of my own connection with dogs.  I had a puppy and a dog growing up as a kid.  We had a dog named Flash and a puppy named Sheba.  I can't remember what became of Flash, but we called him that because he was super fast.  Maybe he ran away, because he was gone in a flash.  When he was gone, we never spoke about him again.  Sheba though, she was a feisty little puppy who would guard our house, barking at strangers and jumping on us all the time.  She reminded me of Scrappy Doo.  Sheba was eventually taken from us one night.  Somebody stole her and we never saw her again.  The dogs were loyal, fun to be around and always eager to spend time with us as kids.

Terry Bush sings Maybe tomorrow the theme song to The Littlest Hobo.  
This TV show taught me about compassion, helping others and putting yourself in danger while helping others.  The show focused on a little dog who travelled from town to town, like a canine Mary Poppins or Nanny McPhee, a less aggressive Incredible Hulk helping people in need, while in search of a sense of home.  The start of the show, played by London relied on the kindness of strangers as reward for his good deeds.

There's a voice that keeps on calling me
Down the road, that's where I'll always be
Every stop I make, I make a new friend
Can't stay for long, just turn around and I'm gone again

As an adult I reflect on how wonderful it would be to be this carefree, travelling wherever you pleased, meeting new people, doing what needs to get done and then moving on again.  When I think about the line of work I'm in - the above sentence aptly describes how I've been working in schools and communities over the past few years - visiting schools and working alongside senior management and teachers to support their work with Pasifika students.  The idea of being down the road, being close at hand when help is needed is a reassuring thing in our day and age.  With the onset of technology - we can be a few keystrokes away, much closer and much more instant that the physical distance of being down the road.

Down this road that never seems to end
Where new adventure lies just around the bend
So if you want to join me for a while
Just grab your hat, we'll travel light, that's hobo style

Travelling light is the best way to travel,  Leaving all of your earthly possessions behind you and moving around places with more flexibility and ease.  There's something exciting about new adventures, embracing the unknown and trusting in yourself that you will know how to deal with whatever challenge or obstacle comes your way - as long as you enjoy your journey, become prepared for it (without being overly-prepared, sometimes that takes the fun out of the journey).

There's a world that's waiting to unfold
A brand new tale no-one has ever told
We've journeyed so far so you know it won't be long
We're almost there, and we've paid a fare with a hobo song

I hope that you create some new tales in your life that will be worth sharing with your grandchildren.
I don't have any grandchildren, I don't have any children either.  But something that Toni Morrison talked about in an Oprah book club about being around children resonated with me - that your face lights up when they enter a room.  It could be your own children or someone else's children - kids in general with their youth, playfulness and general cuteness can have that effect on people.

I hope that you then continue to have some new tales in your life that bring you the same joy that seeing children enter a room would give you, or the same joy that seeing your significant other or a very dear friend has when you lay eyes on them as they enter the room.

I hope that if you are too afraid to start living, too afraid to create some new tales, just keep moving.
You'll soon find out where you belong when you get there.

Maybe tomorrow, I'll want to settle down
Until tomorrow, I'll just keep moving on. . . 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Mr. Blue Sky. . .

I love this song because it blends Classical music, pop and rock all into one magnificent bowl of goodness.  The Electric Light Orchestra released this single as part of the Out of the blue album in 1977.  The tuning of the radio dial signals the beginning of the song. The rhythm is infectious, painting a picture of someone walking down the street.  Musically, it reminds me of the TV theme song to Go Girls called Piece of my heart by the Electric Confectionaires.

Sun is shinin' in the sky
There ain't a cloud in the sky
It's stopped rainin'
Everybody's in a play
And don't you know
It's a beautiful new day

I think sometimes we need to train our minds to be happy.
We can often wait for something or someone to flip our happy switches on - but I think if you can dig deep into the archives of your mind, you can find some memories that spontaneously resurface that smile and laughter that you have kept hidden away.  I see the sky as a reflection of how I feel sometimes.  When I look up, if it's blue - it reminds of many times in my life when I've seen other blue skies that I've shared with other people who have been with me in happy events.  There's something particularly special about looking up and seeing how the blue sky can frame your world. like the icing on the cake or a roof to your house that you see events unfolding in.

Runnin' down the avenue (pant, pant, pant)
See how the sun shines brightly
In the city on the streets
Where once was pity
Mr. Blue Sky is living here today

The orchestral arrangement in this song definitely puts a smile on my face.  As a music teacher, it is definitely a fun way of introducing students to the instruments of the orchestra, learning to listen out for specific groupings within the orchestra.  The choral sections in this piece are particularly engaging as well, and a great way of teaching students about compositional devices - particularly with the descending sequences that you hear in the female voices in conjunction with the interplay between the male voices.  I think the awesome range of registers are explored to great effect - particularly in the chorus - my favourite part of the song  *like for soooooo long*.

Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long where did we go wrong. . .

We need to remember that there will be times when blue skies will not surface.
The trick will be how to cope when there doesn't seem to be any blue skies in sight.

Mr. Blue you did it right 
But soon comes Mr. Night
Creepin' over, now his hand is on your shoulder
Never mind, I'll remember you this way. . . 

I hope that you relish the blue skies above your head wherever you are in the world.
It almost feels like you need to prepare yourself for the times when Mr. Night turns up and changes the sky.  We need to know how to cope when we are waiting for our blue skies, enjoy our blue skies once they appear and most of all, never forget to look up from time to time - otherwise we might live our whole lives without seeing any blue skies - and having the beautiful opportunities to enjoy them.

Hey you with the pretty face
Welcome to the human race
A celebration Mr. Blue Sky's
Up there waitin' and today
Is the day we've waited for . . . 

Enjoy your blue sky today :-)

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Beauty and the Beast. . .

Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton starred in Beauty and the Beast a TV show that ran from1987-1990.  As a young girl I could get lost in this TV series, can't really remember who I watched it with (being the only girl in the family you would be prone to watching romantic drama series on your own when you could get the chance).  The escapism that TV provides is still something strong that continues in today's day and age - but of course it's much more extreme with more skin being revealed, it's much more raunchier and nobody apologises for it as standards seem to be much more relaxed as the people responsible for producing what we watch continue to push the envelope on what will be acceptable.  The biggest change for me in this respect has definitely been evident in music videos - where it focused on dancing and the artistry of performers whereas now - I can't even. .  . but back to Vincent and Catherine . . .

This is where the wealthy and the powerful rule
It is her world, a world apart from mine
Her name. . .  is Catherine
From the moment I saw her she captured my heart
With her beauty, her warmth and her courage
I knew then as I know now
She would change my life forever. . . 

I often wonder if people feel this way.  You often hear about this 'love at first sight' that people talk about or experience.  They always talk about how it's the personality of a person or an inner beauty that shines through, but everybody knows that first impressions do count and it is this that captures the heart first, or at least connects with your own heart strings and pulls you closer to the object of your affection or admiration for closer inspection.

There are times where this can become awkward when that object of your affection or admiration belongs to somebody else, or does not reciprocate your thoughts nor wants to entertain them.  In the case where even though the object of your affection or admiration does belong to someone else, he/she might entertain the thought of belonging to you - in the confines of your situation or context.  This of course presents a different set of complications (the labelling in itself is questionable enough) but the idea that you would then create a place - irrespective of time or space - that you belong together in - like a bubble if you will.  Just need to make sure that the bubble doesn't pop. . .

He comes from a secret place, far below the city streets
Hiding his face from strangers, Safe from hate and harm
He brought me there to save my life
And now wherever I go he is with me in spirit
For we have a bond stronger than friendship or love
And although we cannot be together
We will never ever be apart. . . 

I have met several people who have saved my life.
More often than not, these people know who they are.
Those that don't know this (but may be slightly suspicious that they are) don't know how to broach the subject without sounding conceited - so that's a funny conversation that I will look forward to having - should they ever raise the issue.  So what am I trying to say here?  Read between the lines ha!

I definitely have bonds with people that is stronger than friendship or love - purely for the reasons that we can't be together because we are not meant to be together.  It is hard to articulate that we will never be apart, because those words have not been uttered and quite frankly I think it is unsafe to do so.  There is safety in not saying words sometimes, heck, I don't even know if what I'm saying right now is safe, but there you have it.

I hope that you have your romantic fairytale.  That you have your Beauty and the Beast scenario.  Whether having fleeting moments like that in secret places is sufficient enough for your needs, by all means carry on.  But if you want to 'rock the boat' and take things to another level - that's a completely different kettle of fish (gees excuse the ocean references, just realised!).

So to all of you that can (or if you are unwilling to admit) be as romantic as me, I hope that although we cannot be together, we will never ever be apart. . .

Friday, 5 December 2014

Everybody loves you now. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Te Mihinga Komene +Wawaro te-whaiti and +Shannon Vulu 

I've been thinking a lot lately about what we need to do when we do self-reflection.
I can't help but wonder sometimes about the intricacies of human interaction, particularly when high expectations are placed on you to deliver something (or yourself if you're not too careful, mind that silver platter) and the consequences of meeting those expectations, exceeding those expectations, but you end up being disregarded, disassociated, ignored and even slightly disturbed, because you had unwittingly disturbed someone's comfort levels.

Baby all the lights are turned on you
Now you're in the center of the stage
Ev'rything revolves on what you do
Ah, you are in your prime
You've come of age
And you can always have your way somehow
Cause ev'rybody loves you now

When you start to establish a reputation as someone who is heavily relied upon because you're a "fixer", someone who is extremely flexible (in mind and body ha!) because you're the water in every situation - fluid, quick, soothing, able to make things more malleable - it can be a draining exercise.  When I think about my life and how often I can get tired of responsibilities, of those high expectations, I must remember to be grateful.  I may try to dissuade people from making me the centre of attention, but I can't deny what I am, what I do and how others need me - to be who am I am and to do what I do.  It's a way of life, it's my destiny, it's my service to others and even when you sacrifice your time and energy to complete someone - because they want me to fix their broken vessels, I need to ensure that I remain intact for myself.

You can walk away from your mistakes
You can turn your back on what you do
Just a little smile is all it takes 
And you can have your cake and eat it too
Loneliness will get to you somehow
But ev'rybody loves you now

My nephew lost his mother a few months to cancer.  He recently turned 21 years old and he looks to me as a mother figure in his life.  It has been a difficult transition to go from being a widow to what seems like a solo mother with a young adult as a dependent, but the whole process has taught me more about myself in the past few months than any academic qualification has ever done for me.
I'm learning to value and prize my resilience.  I realise that I can have my cake it too.  And if I feel like it, I might want to have some cupcakes or some macarons instead of cake - smaller, easier to consume and much more interesting to eat. . .

All the people want to know your name
Soon there will be lines outside your door
Feelings do not matter in your game
'Cause nothing's gonna touch you anymore
So your life is only living somehow
And ev'rybody loves you now

My friends are all experiencing different situations in their journeys in life and it's been fantastic to see and hear what choices they are making, how they are choosing to live and who they are choosing to spend their time with.  It might cheesy to you, especially if you're a cynic, but I really enjoy getting a sense for how people tick, how people see themselves, but mostly how people feel, because as much as people try to hide that feelings don't matter in their game - they know full well that it does.  They just don't want to be vulnerable and get hurt easily.  Sometimes there's not enough band aids or healing ointment to make things better as fast as people want them to be.

Close your eyes when you don't want to see
And stay at home when you don't want to go
Only speak to those who will agree
Yeah, and close your mind when you don't want to know
You have lost your innocence somehow 
But ev'rybody loves you now

I hope that you work on not avoiding difficult conversations and only want to be around people that agree with you all the time.  It actually helps to connect quite strongly with someone who disagrees with you - especially if they have appointed themselves as this figure in your life.  I have found that when you come across somebody who has volunteered to be "your person" in this sense, that you can start to have some growth that can be transferred into other areas of your life.  But then again, it could be another secret underlying affirmation from "your person" that ev'rybody loves you now. . . 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

She's got a way. . .

This blog post is dedicated to Melaine Sagala-Timoteo

She's got a way about her
I don't know what it is
But I know that I can't live without her
She's got a way of pleasin'
I don't know what it is 
But there doesn't have to be a reason anyway

I only just heard the news that you passed away suddenly yesterday.  I'm still in shock.
We studied at university together, knew each other from afar, but didn't realise that not only getting our own education, but providing education for others would turn out to be our common link.

She's got a smile that heals me
I don't know why it is
But I have to laugh when she reveals me
She's got a way of talkin'
I don't know why it is
But it lifts me up when we are walkin' anywhere

The last time we spoke was at the PPTA Pasifika Fono in July where I delivered a keynote.
We had a really good chat about life, education and dreams for Pasifika learners in Aotearoa.
You wanted to know how I was doing since Loma died.  You talked about how happy you were that I was strong and doing what I do best.  In the same breath you teased me about being 'too soft' and not being critical of the education department.  You could always make me laugh.  You knew full well that I couldn't comment on anything to do with the government of the day because being an agent for the state can often conflict with being an agent of change.

Later on in the course of the conference, there was an opportunity for you to address ministry officials directly.  You didn't pull any punches.  One of the things that I admired greatly about you - you didn't mince words.  You told it like it was.  You never said anything in a malicious way, but you could hold your own when it came to mocking.

She's got a way of showin'
How I make her feel 
And I find the strength to keep on goin'
She's got a light around her
And ev'rywhere she goes
A million dreams of love surround her ev'rywhere

When it came to Polyfest, particularly at the Samoan Stage, you were the face of Avondale College.
I remember vividly seeing you in battle mode with your Samoan group, extremely professional.  The high expectations you had for your students and zero tolerance for nothing less than perfection when it came to performance standards, was something that transpired from your incredible work ethic.

I know that your students - past and present - will be absolutely devastated that you have left this earth.  You inspired your students to be the best that they could be, to never make excuses for failure but to get right back up and push on.  In conversations with kids from my church who had the privilege to be taught by you - when I told them that I knew you they would say, "Aw she's a mean teacher Manu, but she's awesome. She's tough - but it's because we need it.  She believes in us, when not many teachers care at all."

It breaks my heart to know that you have gone, but hopefully your students will never forget not only the content of your classroom teaching, but the way that you made them feel.

She comes to me when I'm feelin' down
Inspires me without a sound
And she touches me and I get turned around

You won an award from Avondale College.  I can't remember exactly what it was called, but it recognised your exceptional contribution to teaching excellence within the school and part of the award was the opportunity to travel. You went to Europe and saw the places and people that you had studied in high school.  Something that I hope I will be able to do sometime in the future.

Thank you for being a model example of the kind of teacher every student needs.  I pray that your family and friends, particularly your husband Lavi (only just married in September), will find peace and comfort knowing that you are with your Maker.  I wanted to include this video of you talking about teachers needing to have strong connections with their students.  I am confident that what you discuss in this clip will benefit so many teachers of our Pasifika learners.

Strong student connections

Manuia lou malaga Laine.
Ou te talitonu ua maua sou nofoaga ile lagi ma lou Alii.
Give Loma a big hug for me :-)
Love you sis xx