Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Get out of bed. . . stop wasting time. . .

If you're looking for the best song to get you out of bed, or snap out of the funk or plateau that you find yourself in - you can't get past Aaradhna's Wake Up.  The opening introduction reminds me of the beginning of Toploader's rendition of Dancing in the moonlight.

It's Autumn (Fall) in Aotearoa.  It's the surefire way to know that Daylight Savings has ended, as the day gets darker faster.  I like to think that this song will be useful in getting you out of bed in the coming months!  This song has been sitting in my drafts folder and I thought it was the perfect song to write about while waiting for my dear friend Kerry to turn up at my house - we're heading off soon to catch up and have breakfast (and she's late hehe).

Wake up, get up, get up
Get out of bed, stop wasting time!
Wake up, get up, get up!
Get out of bed, stop wasting time!

The snappy chorus serves more than just as a reminder about physically waking up, but more as a reminder to wake up to yourself really!  All of those goals, aspirations and dreams that you had, but nothing has come to fruition.

When you find yourself in a rut, get knocked back enough times to think that you're better off giving up, then crank up this song.  The first verse reminds me of my early college days when you think you're living this party rock lifestyle (or at least think you are!) and you're lost in the oblivion of making memories that you think will be useful to share with the grandkids someday, tales that will make them think that you lead a life of experience (but really it was just empty pizza boxes on the floor, empty liquor bottles from the night before).

I guess I'm thinking about some people that have been your cheerleaders on the sideline, who have wished you well and tried to support you on your efforts and you may have lost the confidence along the way, or procrastinated yourself into a corner.  You might have been hearing these lyrics from the song being thrown at you (more often than not):

I've been trying to get to you
I've been trying to get through to you
Tell me if you hear me
Tell me if you're listening. . .

You want to be able to avoid letting yourself down, not achieving what you set out to achieve in your life, because sadly you were your own worst enemy, the self-saboteur who ruined your own chances of success because you apportioned blame to others, you were in denial and didn't accept responsibility for your own actions and therefore disappointment hit.

Disappointed cos you said that change was gonna

So WAKE UP people and don't disappoint yourself.
Stop wasting time and OWN TIME because you made constructive, productive use of it.
Working longer hours may be less efficient and less effective use of time (I'm a time-pressure person, I'm sure I should've been a journalist or columnist in a former life haha) so enjoy your day and make the best use of it :-)

This woman's work . . .

Mother's Day approaches and I think about how important a mother is in one's life.
But as we all know - before mothers are made, they are women, who have grown from little girls.

All over social media we are bombarded with the feel-good poems, quotes and images about strong women who "hold it down", the single mothers, the widows, mothers who struggle but maintain, retain, sustain their integrity in the face of adversity, against all odds.  These sentiments are reflected in the lines below, that are repeated throughout the song like a mantra:

I know you have a little life left in you yet
I know you have a lot of strength yet
I know you have a little life left in you yet
I know you have a lot of strength yet

This woman's work is a beautiful song on so many levels.
Depending on which version you prefer, I take from each version - different meanings and interpretations of Kate Bush and Maxwell.

In the original version by Kate Bush, when I hear this song, I think about how she interprets what the husband must feel in his despair, while waiting to hear news of his wife in hospital.  The piano accompaniment complements her vocal timbre.  The verses speak about the hopes, you can hear the anxiety, the panicked thoughts that show a man in turmoil, the mixture of emotions ranging from clutching to moments of hope together with desire for release and peace of mind.

When I hear Maxwell sing his rendition, I am captivated first by the harp strings followed by the melismatic singing showcasing his vocal range.  In this version, I think about the song being sung in the first person as you gain an insight into his own thoughts, as the mantra I referred to in the beginning, seems to be directed at himself, as he struggles to carry on living during his drowning sequences.  The different octaves that he uses is especially noticeable as it seems to symbolise his huMANity as he realises:

I should be crying but I just can't let it go
I should be hoping but I can't stop thinking and thinking and thinking

I can't help but feel a heavy sense of loss, and that if you experience loss, you must be able to embrace that pain, because it is the only way to push through it and continue living - even when you think life may not be the same, may be empty without those in it - because now your life seems less brighter without those loved ones in it.

Of all the things we should've said that we never said
All the things we should've done that we never did
All the things that you wanted from me
All the things that you needed from me
All the things I should've given but I didn't

Regrets are not easy to live with.  So I choose not to live with any - because life is too short.
Instead of these negative sentiments above, acknowledge that you are only human if you find yourself caught in these traps or pitfalls - but the trick is not to wallow in them too long.
Rather than focus on the things we never did, should've given - but didn't - instead - be happy thinking about the things you did say, did do and did give.  Nobody can take those moments away from you.

If this woman's work is to give you that reassurance today - then my work is done :-)

Monday, 28 April 2014

I learned the truth "At Seventeen" . . .

I've written before about Janis Ian with her first single (see Society's Child in a previous post).
She received some flack for being so bold, releasing such a song that challenged society's attitudes to interracial relationships in the 60s.  Another one of her songs that I have felt has had some resonance with me, is her comeback hit of 1975, for which she won Best Female Pop Vocal at the 1976 Grammy Awards.

The live performance of this song at the 1976 Grammy Awards shows a brilliant lead guitar solo while Ian provides the rhythmic guitar accompaniment.  Musically, At Seventeen has that wonderful Spanish-Latin feel about it, giving a deceptively soothing laidback feel that doesn't align with the lyrics that bemoan the almost bitter reality faced by a seventeen year old, or from the bitter memories of a woman who recalls the harsh realities of being a seventeen year old and the truths that shaped the current situation of their life.  There are moments of whimsical fantasy, seeing how life favoured those more beautiful, the perception that their life is easier because of their physical beauty and that it opens up a privileged life of leisure for the lucky few (including marriage and early retirement).

A brown eyed girl in hand me downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said: "Pity please the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve"

Depending on how you view this, I wonder about who is being served here?  Are we talking about the ugly duckling who serves and gets what they deserve? Which from the tone of the song, doesn't sound like much.  But I think about the flip side as well, those who are all about self-service/serve themselves and that by doing so, only get what they deserve too i.e. only out for number one....

It was long ago and far away
the world was younger than today
when dreams were all they gave for free
to ugly duckling girls like me...

Thankfully I had a great time at high school.  Music was my saving grace.  I was involved in everything musical that was available - singing, playing instruments, performing.  I remember going to school just to be granted the privilege to perform and showcase our musical skills, my friends and I. Some of our famous audience members included Dame Cath Tizard and Prince Charles at Government House.  

At seventeen, I was at my first year of college/university, studying for a Bachelor of Music degree.
Dreams were definitely for free - but I didn't even consider being an ugly duckling.
Having remembered the fairy tale as a child, I was always happy in the knowledge that the ugly duckling would be transformed into a beautiful swan.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

I've got a right to be wrong . . .

In the past week we had the pleasure of having Joss Stone and India Arie tour our Aotearoa shores.
Joss Stone started her music career at the tender age of 16 and her smash hit Right to be wrong is one of my favourite songs.  Her soulful voice reminds me of the tenderness found in another legend: Janis Joplin.

I love this song because it speaks about your personal growth, challenging you to consider that even though you have made mistakes in your life, you have the power to grow and learn, to move on in your life and enjoy being taken to new places that you possibly would never have dreamed of going (or allowed yourself permission to go).

I've got a right to be wrong
My mistakes will make me strong
I'm stepping out into the great unknown
I'm feeling wings though I've never flown

Musically the song changes during this next section of the song:
You're entitled to your opinion
But it's really my decision
I can't turn back I'm on a mission
If you care, don't you dare blur my vision
Let me be all that I can be
Don't smother me with negativity
Whatever's out there waiting for me
I'm going to face it willingly

For some of us, the very people who may be holding us back from living our true destinies - may be those who are nearest and dearest to us - if you care, don't you dare blur my vision.  This may be especially true when you are embarking on a journey that few people have ventured on, and just because nobody has made the journey before you, does it make it wrong?  I've got got a right to be wrong signifies to me that if someone stands in your way and stops you from doing what you want to pursue for yourself, you have that right to be wrong - even if it doesn't pan out - at least you've made a go of it.

I've got a right to be wrong
I've been held down too long
I've got to break free
So I can finally breathe

Gotta sing my own song
I might be singing out of key
But it sure feels good to me
I've got a right to be wrong
So just leave me alone

So don't be the vision blurrer, the smotherer with the  negativity or the person who holds people down.
Everyone has a right to be wrong.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Society's Child. . .

I've said in previous posts how much I really admire and respect singer/songwriters.
I stumbled across another artist who fits in this category just this week - yet she's been around since she burst onto the scene in 1965 with this blockbuster hit.  I'm surprised I haven't come across her work before as I taught a young girl in the late 90s how to sing at a contemporary music studio - but she was obsessed with music of the 60s.  Janis Ian's contemporaries included such folk singers and female artists as Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins, the latter who she pipped at the post at the 1976 Grammy Awards winning Best Pop Female Vocal.

I love the way Ian weaves the story of the mother's treatment of the boyfriend when he comes to call at her house,

But honey he's not our kind

how teachers and members of the student body pass judgement,

Why don't you stick to your own kind

The emphasis on the black boyfriend not being not our kind, so you should stick to your own kind highlights for me the irony that the emphasis is on the word "kind" in reference to race, rather than words or acts of kindness.  The phrase stick to your own kind also reminds me of Anita's line to Maria in West Side Story when she finds out of her love for Tony.

Society's Child is a blockbuster for so many reasons, a song that speaks about the climate of society's attitudes towards interracial relationships in a time of great unrest in America.  Ian makes this possible by sharing the different perspectives, yet they converge as a collective voice in the chorus - which musically is steeped in an almost dream-like state,

I can't see you anymore baby
I can't see you anymore

The girl in the song has aspirations to bring about social change in the attitudes towards her and her boyfriend, but knows that the world is not quite ready:

One of these days I'm gonna stop listening
Gonna raise my head up high

To me, these words seem to be the only solution to the problem of society (at the time) not being able to accept the interracial relationship between a white girl and a black boy.  I think about - has society's attitudes changed much at all?  Have we moved on completely from these attitudes since the 60s?

Baby I'm only society's child
When we're older things may change
But for now this is the way, they must remain

"I'm only society's child" makes me think about being a "product" of society, being taught to think and feel by confirming to what society wants me to think and feel, especially if I want to be accepted and be able to blend in with everyone else (can different races blend in well with each other in ways that we aspire them to without discrimination?).

One of these days I'm gonna raise up my glistening wings and fly
But that day will have to wait for a while. . .

Thursday, 24 April 2014

If you're lost and you look. . . you will find me. . .

The tendency may be to think about the obvious romantic overtones that are normally associated with this song. Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time is considered pop and new wave, a genre made famous by the constant marketing afforded by MTV and the post-punk era. Out of all of her songs, of course Girls just wanna have fun is a great party song that has also had some great remixes and covers of it - for me, it doesn't get past the heart-rending emotion of Time After Time.

In recent weeks I've been trying to catch up with friends who I haven't seen in a while, some in years. It made me think about the friends that you have in your life.  There will be some friends that you won't necessarily need to see for a long time. I like to cheesily (yes that's a neologism, what of it?) refer to them as my "forever friends" (if only because of the obvious alliteration as a memory device) or my "perennial pals" (you see where I'm going here).

The drum beats out of time

Friends are interesting people, because dependent on how well they know you (because you've shared enough intimate information about yourself, or stupidly did so in a drunken stupor on a night that was rather boring so you had to resort to playing silly games to entertain yourselves - sorry I'm not speaking from experience here - I'm usually the sardonic observer sitting quietly in the corner watching the evening unravel and nobody notices I'm there unless there's a guitar in my hand or we're playing singing games - then it's no holds barred with the competitive streak there!).

Then you say go slow
I fall behind
The second hand unwinds

But that aside - sometimes we can get our "timing" wrong in a friendship.
You know what I'm talking about.
When you learn that harsh lesson when you might need to move on from a friend or group of friends, because they may not be the right mix of people for you, because they can hold you back from your dreams, or could be those quiet sardonic people in the corner secretly laughing at you - not me - I'm just saying, for example.  But you've given up so much of yourself and invested so much "time" in a friendship that did you more harm than good, was more unhealthy than healthy, made you feel worse about yourself than proud.

Or it could be the reverse.
When a friend that you hold dear, may choose to move on to the wrong mix of people who don't have his/her best interests at heart, but you can't say anything, because he/she is so adamant that they are making the right decisions for what suits him/her now - and won't hear you out.  What do you do then?

If you fall, I will catch you, I will be waiting
Time after time

Be a good friend - even when you're not considered a best friend.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

There must be more than this provincial life . . .

My all-time favourite Disney movie is "Beauty and the Beast".  Every kid's dream is to visit Disneyland (and I had that chance in 1987 but it rained so it was multiple rides on the It's a Small World attraction and watching Michael Jackson's 3D movie Captain Eo in the theatre rather than riding around on the famous Cups and Saucers, the ride I really wanted to go on since being enthralled by The Wonderful World of Disney movies that featured every Sunday evening in New Zealand).

When you start to realise that your day seems like Groundhog Day - not the actual day that's celebrated in Pennsylvania, but the one where every day seems the same as always and nothing really changes - what do you do?  What do you when you're fed up with your current state of affairs and hunger, or at least wish for something different to happen in your life?  Unless you make some moves or small goals to change your current situation, then you're just stuck in the clouds living day in and out in the same day (or life).

Then there's the other side of the coin where you might have a Gaston lurking in the shadows who has deluded plans in his head about you (consult don't insult).  Then you become a pawn in their little game, or a victim to their insane need to have the "best" in their life and it happens to be you. Thankfully Belle has the sense to outwit and outsmart this buffoon before finding adventure, love and happiness with her unlikely hero, the Beast.

The idea that someone can change or restore themselves (the Beast) or someone could gain the type of freedom that they crave and celebrate who they truly are (Belle) in the midst of realising true love is definitely magical (or something else if you're a cynic).

The end of the song in the field behind Belle's house reminds me of one of my other favourite films where Fraulein Maria sings about hills being alive with the sound of music. . .

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere
I want it more than I can tell
And for once it might be grand
To have someone understand
I want so much more than they've got planned. . .

Moral of the story: take chances, be a risk-taker and enjoy life,  It's too short living the same thing day in and day out, especially if doing that, doesn't make you happy :-)  If you are not living the life you want, you might be living the life you need.  If you're not living the life you need, you might be living the life you want (but you're in denial).

This post is dedicated to +Natalie Faitala who told me one day, sometimes students can push you to your limits and make you think about a career change. . . if not in front of a classroom, then in front of policy makers who can influence how Pasifika students can learn and achieve in classrooms :-)

You're a shining star, no matter who you are . . .

I often wondered why I was fascinated with the song Fantasy by Earth, Wind and Fire.
I discovered it was a single from their eight studio album released around the time I was born.
(Now everything made sense!).  But I'm not talking about Fantasy in this post.

The legends of funk and disco (depends on which side of the fence you sit on really) showcase the prolific talent in their band.  The guitar work in the beginning of the song, then the bass before the signature horn section hits is classic Earth, Wind and Fire.

Shining Star focuses on you wishing upon a star, being a star, something perennial that stands the test of time because stars will always appear in the night sky. Stars produce dreams, or can at least live the dreams, make the dreams a reality.  Wishing on dreams alone may lead to those dreams staying just that - dreams without goals in place to make them reality.

When you wish upon a star
Dreams can take you very far, yeah
When you wish upon a dream
Life aint always what it seems, oh yeah

And once you achieve those dreams - it's time to create new ones that you can achieve.

If you ever needed a mantra to echo around your head while you're contemplating what you need to do, how to motivate yourself or erase any of that niggling self-doubt that always seems to surface when you are about to enact a decision that you have struggled or agonised over (for what seems like hours, yet has only been a matter of minutes) I like to remember the lines of the chorus:

You're a shining star, no matter who you are
Shining bright to see, what you can truly be

The biggest thing about self-belief is that only YOU can activate it.
When you're ready to be the best of who you are and not worry about how others will view you or feel self-conscious about really "going for it" means that you feel comfortable enough in your own skin to own yourself.  Own you or get owned - solid.

There have been some remakes or sampling of this track in different songs, but the treatment of the samples don't particularly interest me.  I guess I love hearing a live band perform in full melodic themes as opposed to hearing the snippets that sampling does (the bad hatchet job!).        

Shining star so bright to see
What your life can truly be

Friday, 18 April 2014

This brings tears to my eyes . . . my sacrifice. . .

There's something poignant about a lone electric guitar when it starts a song.
You can hear the subtle slides up and down the fretboard, the gentle picking of the melody, how the guitarist lets certain notes hang in the air like it's trying to suspend time.  But then everything comes to life when the full band kicks in with the distortion in the rhythm guitar, the pumping bass line and the driving rhythm of the drums with its fills - the syncopated accents on the snare, the well-timed crashes and the constant heart beating of the ride.

Hello my friend we meet again
It's been a while, where should we begin
Feels like forever
Within my heart are memories
Of perfect love that you gave to me
Oh I remember

I think about him and Him.
When I feel that I've lost my way, when I'm knee-deep in situations, on my knees in despair, head filled to the brim almost about to explode, or head swimming, almost drowning with the burden of everything all at once - but then I think about my sacrifice - which is no greater, actually less worthy than someone else who died for me - yet He felt like I was, worthy that is.
And when he comes to mind, I know he would want me to be happy and know that his memory will live in my surname and I will tell the world who he is by sharing who He is to me. At least through my deeds and actions towards others.  Helping others who mistreat you is such a huge sacrifice - because even when you die, they will never appreciate what you did for them until it's too late.

We've seen our share of ups and downs
Oh how quickly life can turn around
In an instant
It feels so good to reunite
Within yourself and within your mind
Let's find peace there

This verse speaks to me about the fact that, whatever is going on in your world, all around you, the greatest gift you can give to yourself is inner peace - cultivate it, grow it, hold onto it, don't let others try to rob you of it (especially to make themselves feel better, and most importantly if they are busy judging you, instead of really listening to you and what you're about), I'm talking about that happy place in your mind where you go to feel good within yourself and within your mind - because if you're smart - nobody can touch that or take that from you - unless you let them.

I just want to say hello again
I just want to say hello again

When you are with me, 
I'm careless, I believe
Above all the others, we'll fly
This brings tears to my eyes
My sacrifice

I take comfort in knowing that he is always with me, in the music that I hear everyday.  Everytime I saw him, he was always showing me new songs that he had heard and thought was really good, and then would start showing off about other harmonies that he could sing, that weren't found in the song!
His laughter still rings in my ears, his smiling face fills my heart.
When I was with him, I was careless - I didn't have a care in the world, because we were in our own world - without other people, other pressures, we had dreams and aspirations, ideas, thoughts and perspectives - we harmonised in spite of the disharmony, despite the cacophony.
And who better to remind me how far we will fly but Him.

Thank you for Your sacrifice.  It is Your life that we celebrate, You gave Your life so we could live.
This brings tears to my eyes
My sacrifice . . . is time

I will fill the time, until I can say hello again to you.

In remembrance of loved ones who are not with us this Easter xxx

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

So I'll ride like the wind . . . ride like the wind

Christopher Cross released an album in 1979 which had a couple of hits that I can't go past when I reminisce about the 80s.  I love him for so many reasons but my top three are: 1) his voice is distinctive - I hear it and I can tell it's him (it's every music producer's dream to find distinctive voices), 2) his songs make me happy and make me dance around in my room - or at least make me lip sync to them in the privacy of my room and 3) I can listen to it on repeat or swipe my iPad to the left and play it repeatedly.  The song Ride like the wind has backing vocals by Michael McDonald - another AMAZING 80s singer that I looove (future posts about this guy fo' sho').

I really like this song because as a songwriter I think about how elements of music are used to put a song together.  The song opens with a wind effect and piano providing a melody with the drums driving the rhythm before the synthesiser rises from underneath to play the syncopated chordal echo.
The string accompaniment gives it some extra oomph in the texture department, especially with the sweeping glissandos that add to that wind effect.  The synthesiser picks up on some drone-like notes in the verses which are copied by the string accompaniment.  The layering of the texture doesn't stop either, especially when the horns join in (I'm quite partial to the trumpet, having played it in high school.  Oh hey, I'll tell you a quick story - one time someone was talking about me to a friend, and they said that I like to blow my own trumpet and she didn't know how to respond to that. I told her she should've said - well Manu does like blowing her own trumpet - that's one of the instruments she knows how to play LOL - and back to the blog post..)

Ride like the wind has vocal ad libs that let you sing along because for some songs, it's all about the groove rather than the lyrics and being in the moment of the melody.  As it is a song on the cusp of the 80s (released in 1979) it has a cool signature lead guitar solo and it almost seems like the guitarist is trying to make his fingers ride like the wind on his fretboard.

Lived nine lives
Gunned down ten

The tenacity it takes to stick to your guns and scraping by in situations by the skin of your teeth, all of that living by the seat of your pants, it makes for an interesting life.

It is the night
My body's weak
I'm on the run
No time to sleep
I've got to ride
Ride like the wind
To be free again

The lyrics of the song speak to me about having the stamina, the desire to hold fast to your goals so that you achieve your dream.  Even though physically you may be drained, fatigued, fed up, about to give up - but sometimes you need to hang in there to meet those goals, because only you can do what you need to do - to achieve that dream.  I mean gee, we've heard it all before often enough - good things are never easy to come by, it takes hard work and determination to achieve something worth having.  Everyone has their own border of Mexico that they need to get to.  To me Mexico represents the freedom that Cross is talking about.  Whatever makes you happy or gives you the freedom or the peace that this world can't give you and only you can achieve - for yourself - ride like the wind . . . ride like the wind.   

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Let it go. . .

I spent tonight with an old college friend and her family.  Her two daughters are huge fans of the recent Disney smash movie Frozen.  One of her daughters asked if I could play the song Let It Go.
There was a piano in the room and happy to oblige, I sat down at the piano.  With my work as of late, I had been spending much more time on black and white computer keys rather than the ones that in the past had brought me much joy and peace as a music teacher.

I had seen the movie but hadn't really listened to the lyrics in any great detail or thought about the music.  I did know that Let It Go had won an Oscar for Best Original Song.  The oldest daughter, Miss Six, volunteered to play the song on YouTube so I could play the song by ear.  I had a great time listening to the song and playing through the distinct chord progressions that made up three musical sections - the verse, the chorus and the bridge.

It's time to see what I can do
Time to test the limits and break through 

Testing the limits is important because it presents opportunities for you to extend yourself, to test who you are, whether it's your resolve or becoming the person you were meant to be.  I'm not a huge fan of testing limits for the sake of testing limits, for me there is a purpose for why you test, and what you discover when you test those limits, where you take it from there and how will it improve who you are - Self-edification 101.

The song has all of the ingredients of a power ballad, a haunting melancholic introduction mirrored by the words that speak of Queen Elsa's isolation. the epic chorus with the realisation that she has accepted who she is and a bridge that emphatically leads her to embrace who she is, despite what other people think.

I'm never going back
The past is in the past

Letting go of fears and being strong enough to stand tall and to use what you have is important.
Never be afraid to let go or show vulnerability, be yourself, hang loose!
Elsa talks about not returning to Arendelle because it is easier for her not to hurt anybody if she is alone and able to be free.  There's nothing worse than running away from a problem, because when you eventually need to return, the problem is still there. You may decide that there may be some places in your past that you too may not revisit.  There will be times when you will feel isolated or alone, but I guess it how you spend that time alone will either make or break you.  How you make peace with that determines how you ultimately carry on with the rest of your life. Whether people like you or not - what they see is what they get.

Let the storm rage on. . .
The cold never bothered me anymore

Thursday, 10 April 2014

If you hold on for one more day... if you hold on ...

1990 marked my first year at high school and the release of Wilson Phillip's self-titled album.
The hit song Hold On earned the trio grammy noms.  This was not surprising as they are the offspring of famous musicians from The Beach Boys and The Mamas and The Papas.  (You know, the theory that offspring of famous musicians should do well in the music business and there are some cases where that isn't true, but hey that's not the subject of this blog post, and it would be mean to talk about that).

Don't you think it's worth your time
To change your mind?

In light of recent events in the past few weeks, this song has reminded me of what is important.
I had a bit of a meltdown (yes, even strong people have their weak moments).  And as cheesy as this song may seem now (but thanks to Bridesmaids it has enjoyed a resurgence of the group's popularity), it is definitely one of the great anthems that heralded the dawn of the 90s woman: tenacious, independent, determined, headstrong and resilient.

Noone can change your life except for you
Don't ever let anyone step all over you

This may be difficult in today's corporate world where hierarchy and seniority rules and systems, processes, structures and paradigms are heavily, your work laboriously scrutinised by the powers that be, even if sometimes people aren't even fully aware of what it is you actually do.

Someday somebody's gonna make you turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby, are you gonna let them hold you down and make you cry? 

I hear these lines and to be honest it makes me angry.  Well, maybe more indignant more than angry I guess.  And this song probably rings truer for me now as an adult than as a 13 year old.
You live, you learn, you become a life-long learner.  Of course if someone was physically trying to hold me down and make me cry, they better watch it.  Some girls tried that in my final year of high school next to the swimming pool and I quickly turned into the Incredible Hulk.  Never poke the bear when the bear doesn't need to be poked... But of course we know that metaphorically, sometimes what people will say to you, whether intentionally or unintentionally will hurt you, disarm you, disable you or silence you.  It's how we learn to respond, to rise above words that people who may not have had the literary ability or capacity to have mastered (i.e. it's not their fault, words fail them, and then indeed fail to convey their thoughts), it just means that conversation and patient dialogue is critical.

I just need to tap into that 90s woman again - be tenacious, independent, determined, headstrong and resilient.

Don't you know, things can change, things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day. . . if you hold on. . . 

Friday, 4 April 2014

What a wonderful world. . .

I'm at my local mall today.  It's a great place to do some "people watching".
People are fascinating to watch.  The best place to observe is in the food court because everyone is too busy looking at their food and enjoying what they're eating to notice you watching them.  Families are everywhere as it's a Saturday in New Zealand and I imagine this is one of the few times that working Mums and Dads will have an opportunity to spend time as a family.  School children are here today. I've spotted several groups of boys or girls wandering around, checking out the movie session times or just being kids checking out the latest fads in the stores.

This song is best known for the Louis Armstrong rendition.
Many other cover versions exist - Eva Cassidy performed it just before she passed away, Guy Sebastian performed it for World Idol in 2003 (funky rendition and the instrumental backing reminds me of the music in Janet Jackson's Runaway), a Shadow Puppet interpretation of the song, and probably the most recognisable is Israel Kamakiwo'ole and his ukulele mix of Somewhere over the rainbow and What a wonderful world - featured on many movie soundtracks over the years.

My most recent posts have been about what has frustrated me about people or I guess their reaction to transformations in my life thus far. I think as long as you are being true to yourself, that's the main thing.  To some level, everyone wants to be respected, if not liked.  For me that happens when there is mutual respect.  Every time I hear this song, it restores my faith in people, even those who don't particularly like me (haha).  The lyrics describe the beauty of the environment that make up the wonderful world.  The lines that resonate particularly with me and the reason why I love the song are:

I hear babies grow, I watch them grow
You know they're gonna learn
A whole lot more than you'll ever know

I watched many young children today with their parents and grandparents and I wondered about the endless possibilities and opportunities that lie before them.  I thought about how much their parents and grandparents will enjoy watching them grow.  It brings me comfort to know that there will be a whole lot more that this generation will know, than I will ever know.  And I truly hope that educators everywhere will continue to do their part to make that a reality - if not in our own lifetime - but that will be the hopes, dreams and legacy that we will leave behind - our seeds of knowledge brought to fruition by the seeds that we watched grow.

Brand New Me . . .

Oh it took a long while to get here
It took a brave brave girl to try
I've taken one too many excuses, one too many lies
Don't be surprised, oh see you look surprised 

Anyone who knows me, or who has had the chance to get to know me in the past year would know that it hasn't been an easy year.  It's still not quite a year, but it's almost a year.  It has taken a while for me to get here and I would never have dreamed that I would be here... right now... in this place.
Sometimes I don't know where I am exactly.  Physically, of course you know where you are.  You see the faces of people you work with, face-to-face or online.  You see people you live with and enjoy watching their expressions change on a daily basis.  You notice things more.  You pay attention more.  You might even try to create more memories so that you can emblazon them in your heart and mind, burn them into your memory to avoid the sepia tinted photographs that fill your ancient leather bound albums that you know you don't look at anymore, but are loathe to throw away.

If you were worth the while
You'd be happy to see me smile
I'm not expecting sorry
I'm busy finding myself
I got this
I found me, I found me, yeah

The thing I love best about Alicia Keys is the way that she sings a song.  You can hear every nuance of aching and that pain in her voice.  It drips from her in those softer moments and then gushes forward in her more gut wrenching power notes.  The oscillating piano figure in the opening introduction reminds me that we fluctuate between our feelings, that dichotomy of good feelings and bad feelings.  I have been lost a little since last May, but I have found myself.  But some people have tried to dictate how I should feel, or questioned if I do feel.  In my lighter moods, I am amused.  In my darker moods, I am bemused.

I don't need your opinion
I'm not waiting for your ok
I'll never be perfect, but at least I'll now be brave
Now my heart is open, I can finally breathe

If you are going through some transformation in your life, don't be afraid to change.
New can be scary.  Think of your first day at a new school.  Trying to make new friends.
Meeting new people at a new job.  Sometimes not all things brand new can feel good.
But I'm starting to smile a lot more these days.  Even when I think that I don't deserve to smile because it seems the light has gone out of it too soon.  But I have memories and they are fond ones.
Never forget that - hold tight to that.

Soon I will commemorate a year without a life who gave me a "brand new me".

To my critics:
Don't be mad, it's just a brand new kind of me
That ain't bad, I found a brand new kind of free
Don't be mad, it's a brand new time for me

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Let's do some living after we die. . .

I've become increasingly conscious of time as of late.
Time running out, time passing by, waiting for the right time, and arriving on time.
The only saving grace or a secret release from time would be the simple pleasures that you allow yourself to enjoy, to keep you sane and to also keep you happy.  If happy was a continuum, I often wonder if it would be bi-polar - teetering on the extremes from time to time, it balances delicately, precariously, while we all hold our breath.

Listening to old songs appeals to the old soul in me from time to time. (Aha!  Did you see what I did there?).  Wild Horses written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard, recorded by The Rolling Stones from their 1971 album, but re-released in the mid 90s, absolutely does this for me.  There have been many cover versions of this classic.  I am particularly fond of the Alicia Keys and Adam Levine  version.  Wild Horses reminds me of Loma. I like to think that he is happy where he is, that if he could have stayed a little while longer, he would have stayed.  That even wild horses couldn't drag him away.

I know I've dreamed you a sin and a lie
I've got my freedom but I don't have much time
But faith has been broken, tears must be cried
Let's do some living, after love dies

It has been a challenge to maintain strength.  There will be good days and bad days.
You will be more resilient on some occasions more than others.
Some days you will burst into tears because a memory was triggered and sudden realisation hits.

I often think about that Latin adage Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  Who will guard the guards?
I think about my old Latin teacher, Mrs. Barlow talking about political corruption and the connection between this phrase and Juvenal or Plato.  I take it to mean - who will inspire the inspirers?

Wild horses couldn't drag me away
Wild wild horses we'll ride them someday

Prayer for the dying. . .

I'm a huge Seal fan from way back.

It was 1994 and my last year of high school.  I discovered Seal on the shelf of the Sounz Music Store in Downtown Auckland.  I knew him in his Crazy days with his dreadlocks.  But this new look Seal caught my eye when I spied a cassingle (yes a cassingle, otherwise known as a cassette single) on the shelf.  The cassingle was Prayer for the Dying.  There was a CD player mounted on one of the posts nearby and I asked the shop assistant if I could have the album so I could listen it.  Most of my school holidays were spent in town, making a beeline for the music store, anxious to listen to the latest music.  I had a particular hankering to listen to singer/songwriters.  I knew Seal wrote his own music, because the CD notes told me that he did.

I thought Prayer for the Dying was a bit morbid on the first listen.  But the chorus, harmonically seemed to elevate your spirit, even though death happens and is an inherent part of every day life.  I hit repeat quite a few times on the CD player.  The more times I listened, it was then that I  noticed that the verses were the morbid part.

Heaven's waiting
It's time to move on

I liked first impressions when listening to new music, because it's usually that first feeling that you have when listening to music that you will associate that song with.  Of course when you learn more about a song, every time you listen to that song again, you hear more and more different things that you missed the first time.  It's much like when you watch a movie over and over - there are certain things that you missed, things that you suddenly notice.

I'm crossing that bridge with lessons I've learned
I'm playing with fire and not getting burned
I may not know what you're going through
But time is the space between me and you
There is a light through that window
Hold on say yes, while people say no
Cos life carries on. . . it goes on

The chorus seemed to be another voice or at least a progression of where you can position yourself, when death happens to you, around you and how you must carry on, because life carries on.

This post is dedicated to +Phoebe Davis.  We're part of a club that we never asked to join.