Thursday, 30 April 2015

Mandinka. . .

This blog post is a song request from +Rochelle Savage 

The thing I love most about Sinead O'Connor is her unique vocal style.  Her album The Lion and the Cobra released in 1987 included this track Mandinka.  I was still in elementary/primary school at the time and wasn't too familiar with this song - apart from Nothin' compares 2 u which was written for her by Prince (formerly known as The Artist formerly known as Prince - but he's back to being Prince again).  Her unique way of singing is best illustrated in how she can transition between the higher register of her voice with the softer lower range.  It's an ability that few singers can accomplish well but something that they all strive to be able to do (technically, but most good singers will tell you, they just sing because they love to sing).

I'm dancing the seven veils
Want you to pick up my scarf
See how the black moon fades
Soon I can give you my heart

I don't know no shame
I feel no pain
I can't see the flame
But I do know Mandinka
I do know Man-din-ka
I do know Man-din-ka. . . 

I love songs that are open to interpretation.  They mean different things to different people.  It can go beyond the words but also encompass meaning to do with how the music articulates those lyrics.  I think I posted something in a previous blog post about how Seal talks about his refusal to include lyrics in his album releases because he believes it's up to the listeners to interpret for themselves what he sings about, rather than striving for the accuracy of the lyrics (unless of course you're starring in your lip sync video clip and you need the most accurate lyrics for authenticity!).

They're throwing it all this way
Dragging it back to the start
And they say ' See how the glass is raised?'
I have refused to take part
I told them 'drink something new'
Please let me pull something through. . . 

It has been famously said that when Sinead O'Connor released this album , that she didn't kowtow to record executives about what they wanted her to do, how they wanted her to be perceived by her potential audience.  In our everyday lives - are we as brave?  Do we ind ourselves wanting to constantly conform to everything that the rest of society does because we need to be seen as 'normal' as opposed to just being who we are?  Since when has 'not being yourself' not been enough?  It is essentially the case when you stand out from the crowd. the classic 'tall poppy syndrome' where you stick out like a sore thumb exuding that air of confidence that you're not allowed to possess because you're too ahead of your time or apparently smarter than everybody else in the room. . .

Soon I can give you my heart
Soon I can give you my heart 
Soon I can give you my heart. . . 

I hope that when you share your heart, give it to people who appreciate and understand the 'realness' that is you, to introduce the essence of your heart to like-minds to show you can share your big heart with people who can see what it contains, who can recognise and respect the power of its healing and know that when it can be broken and shatter into a thousand pieces - that they would gladly pick it up, help you put your heart back together and leave you alone when you need to heal.  I do. . . . 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Go your own way. . .

I've got about 48 drafts of songs sitting in a folder, all in various stages of readiness.  It pretty much sums up parts of my life at the moment, in particular my interactions with people and the various stages of development with my relationships with them and how things are progressing.  Today's song is Go your own way by Fleetwood Mac, a band that I listened to on various easy listening and soft rock music stations growing up.  Their music is everywhere - in shopping malls, in restaurants, in reunion tours and greatest hits compilation CDs.  Like ABBA with relationship roller coasters that permeated the band, I don't think they would've produced some of their best music without the ups and downs that relationships in a band wouldn't have done.

Loving you
Isn't the right thing to do
How can I 
Ever change things that I feel

If I could

Maybe I could give you my world
How can I 
When you won't take it from me

It's hard to love someone for a variety of reasons.
The main one that stands out is probably one where they have betrayed you and it has changed your feelings towards them.  You might have tried to help them sort things in their own life and are now hell-bent on destroying yours.  Even if you do offer up your world to them, would it be enough?  They might not want to take it from you because they want more than your world, they want your life and everything associated with it (not quite Single White Female but not quite to the extreme of Tootsie either).

All you need to understand is that people will do crazy things because they will feel trapped, pressured or backed into a corner, so 9 times out of 10 they are reacting to the situation and their inability to properly communicate what the heck it is that is going on in their minds, which you can't read (unless it makes sense or you're a mindreader).

You can go your own way
Go your own way
You can call it
Another lonely day
You can go your own way
Go your own way

If I could

Baby I'd give you my world
Open up
Everything's waiting for you. . .

My favourite part of the song is the epic guitar solo before the final chorus.
Personally I think instrumental solos are the best way to allow time for preceding lyrics to sit within us and digest.  It's always what I think about when I listen to lyrics in songs and let them do their magic around me.  I hope that whenever we choose to go our own way, especially if if it goes against the direction in which the crowd is going, that you're happy.  Sometimes happiness is situated in loneliness.  I know I've been there for a while now and it's a pretty good place to be in.  That stupid position that people hold where if you were once married before. that you need to be with someone - hmmm..... no.

I hope that if someone comes along and tries to open up their world to me, that they will at least consider if I want to be a part of that world or not.  I think I just need people to understand that I have my own world to consider and flesh out, map out, live out and that of course, if people just happen to come along and try to offer you a whole new world, another world that isn't part of the plan, yes you will consider it, but I wouldn't jump ship cos I've got things to do, other people who rely on me in their worlds and I would just keep on, keeping on in the conviction that my gut will tell me when it's right to do. . . anything.  I can go my own way, I can call it . . .  so go your own way, you can call it. . . 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Break the shell. . .

I met a prophet dark as the night
She could see into my soul
Said she'd been watching and had some advice
She said shadows make you whole
A life without pain is a wolf in sheep's clothes
Because if you listen to the lessons that it holds
You'll find the gold

You will come across people in your life who are able to read you like a book and you would've only just met them.  I'm in Hamilton at the moment preparing some work for tomorrow's meeting with a principal and some of her staff members.  I got into a taxi at the airport and started chatting with the driver.  The topic of conversation took its usual scenic tour of the weather, where I'm from, what am I doing here, do I have children.  That's always a tough question to answer. Those of us without children don't know what life is like with them, but we make great aunts.  Instead I shifted the attention to no, but I'm a widow.

Child it's time to break the shell
Life's gonna hurt but it's meant to be felt
You cannot touch the sky from inside yourself
You cannot fly until you break the shell

Her whole demeanour changed and then the conversation much like the turns in the road ahead, morphed into probably one of the best conversations I've had with a taxi driver (my Dad used to be one, he doesn't count, besides that would be biased).  The small talk questions took on a life of its own and she started sharing about her own tragic experiences with death.  She even started talking about God, but went on to say that well, it didn't matter if God existed or not, if there is a god or not, but that there is definitely something higher, a supreme being that we have that watches over us.

I think what amazed me was the fact that I didn't know this lady, apart from glancing at her photo ID that was prominently displayed above the meter.  Her photo smiled back at me and it seemed to match the musical sound of her voice as she was obviously warming to the topic, despite the tragic nature of the conversation.

Courage is not about being hard
It's time to peel back all of the layers
You put between who You're meant to be 
And who You are
And go be who You are

I wondered to myself, why is she sharing so much of herself with me?  She was a stranger to me, yet she seemed to open herself to me more than some of my own family members or people I had known for a long period of time.  She got so comfortable with me that she would turn in her seat from time to time to look at me while we chatted.  I didn't think that was such a good idea, to turn around I mean, and talk to me while she was supposed to keep her eyes on the road.  I didn't say anything, just nodded and smiled back at her.  She talked about her son who committed suicide six years ago. Her son in law was tragically killed in a helicopter accident fifteen years earlier. My heartstrings pulled.  I couldn't understand how to process such a thing - losing a son in law who left behind her daughter and young children, as well as her son who she suspected suffered from depression, but was undiagnosed.

So much disappointment to finally understand
That there is no such thing as perfect
We're all simply doing the best that we can
And we have a choice to live or truly be alive

She talked in the last five minutes of our journey about the need to make the most of our time, because we didn't know how much longer we would have in this earth.  I was touched by her willingness to share the imperfections of life that had hit her, the kind of life that had been washed in tragedy and melancholy.  She talked about her younger sister who would make trite comments about people needing to move on and get on with life.  I told her, wow, she doesn't understand what you're going through.  She said. exactly quite emphatically and nodded at me in the rear view mirror.

I could feel the waves of disappointment wash over me too then, much like I know she would've felt from people around her who would've instead of offering support and comfort ,would've said some really dumb things (although well-intentioned, would've just sounded stupid to our ears).

It can be painful at times to be treated with kid gloves, yet you respect the delicate approach that people take to try and handle you respectfully.  When our journey ended, she handed me my bag and smiled at me. She wished me all the best for the meeting and said it was lovely talking to me.

I hope that parts of my shell are already broken.  Certain people get to see the real me and it's been a long process, because for the most part I've felt like a performing parrot or monkey doing other people's bidding.  So enough of being a shell of my former self, I guess that taxi ride was a welcome distraction from the problems that life can throw your way, but I'm kind of glad that the taxi driver served to remind me that it's ok for me to be real now and again.  I don't have to hide behind the shell, especially when it's time to dust myself off, pick myself up off the ground and break the shell. . .

Do with these words what you will
It's time for us to be real
You'll be stuck on the ground until
You finally break the shell. . .

Monday, 20 April 2015

Wake up everybody . . .

This blog post is dedicated to all the teachers, doctors and builders in my life. . . 

It is very easy to be distracted from our divine purpose, our mission in life, call it whatever makes your feel comfortable.  We can lose ourselves in idle gossip, waste precious minutes doing other things that take us away from being present where we need to pay attention.  We can also make excuses for ourselves when we get pushed beyond our comfort zone and blame others for inadequacies.  I have been thinking a lot over the past few years about refining the parts of me that threaten to consume me or discolour maybe even taint with the wrong paint, the wrong hue, what I don't want to show of myself.  People have judged and criticised and I've listened really long and hard about what it is they are trying to say (or not say with the silence).  It's been very valuable learning that I wouldn't change for anything in the world.  It's what I'm meant to be doing - absorbing, sifting, looking for nuggets and holding it up to the light to marvel at what it means to me.

Wake up everybody no more sleepin' in the bed
No more backward thinkin' time for thinkin' ahead
The world has changed so much from what it used to be
There's so much hatred war and poverty

There is nothing more frustrating than being subjected to backward thinkin' time.  This type of thinkin' is guaranteed to switch me off immediately.  I don't apologise for automatically falling into sleep or standby mode.  If I can be bothered, I'll automatically restart and try to listen with a little bit more patience and tolerance, even when what I hear sometimes is uninformed and devoid of any real attempt to understand either where I'm coming from or where the minority discourse can often be undermined and belittled.  But only if I let it of course. . . 

Wake up all teachers time to teach a new way

Maybe then they'll listen to whatcha have to say
'Cause they're the ones who's coming up and the world is in their hands
When you teach the children teach 'em the best way that you can

As a teacher I focused a lot on learning new teaching techniques, new teaching strategies that I thought would inform my classroom teaching, improve my engagement with the students and in turn bring out their best achievement results.  I quickly learned that the students needed to have all of the power in the class.  I needed to be able to craft really good questions to help unlock their power and their potential.  Even with the most troublesome students in the class, I needed to tweak my 'glasses', especially when it came to how I saw them.  I couldn't afford to focus on their negative behaviour - I mean for goodness sake, they're kids (my late husband often reminded me when I would regale the war stories of each day's events).  I learned to appreciate how each student had their own unique story and that as a teacher, it was my job to ensure that they would be able to tell their story over time without having to feel like their story wasn't important - heck, it was even more important than mine and far more interesting (even though they would never find that out until they left school themselves).

Wake up all the doctors make the old people well
They're the ones who suffer and who catch all the hell
But they don't have so very long before their judgement day
Why don't you make them happy before they pass away

I am in the position of looking after my parents while I pursue a career and an education that has always been a dream chased not only to edify myself as my late Classical Studies and Latin language teacher taught me, but also to bring honour to my parents; the sole reason why they migrated to this country.  At times when I forget this sole reason because I am easily distracted by my own selfish desires and moments of childish resentment, I remind myself why I was born.  Not many people know that my mother fasted and prayed for me.  I literally owe my life to her.  She prayed to God for a girl because my father only had sons before I was born, including one final son after I was born too, like some emphatic full stop as if to say, well, that's the end of that.  This means that in cultural terms, I have much responsibility - to make my parents happy and to serve them faithfully as a dutiful daughter does - to gain favour with them as I am a gift from God.  I am the answer to my mother's prayer for a daughter, and with this in mind, this sense of purpose and mission is not lost on me.  My mother - the strongest woman I know, yet one of the most exasperating women I have ever had the pleasure to know - she is like no other woman I have met.  My parents are two of the most dearest old people in my life.  They're not the oldest people I know, but they are the first people I got to know in the world - my parents.  My duty is also to make them happy before they pass away.  It can be challenging, but like I say to myself in grateful whispered tones in reflective moments - my parents are a blessing, not a burden.  If they're happy - I'm happy.  

Wake up all the builders to build a new land
I know we could do it if we all lend a hand
The only thing we have to do is put it in our minds
Surely things will work out they do it every time

There are some obstacles to overcome but I am confident that I have learned so many things in my own version of a 'slumdog millionaire' existence, not as traumatic but just as colourful - with all of the growing and life experiences that have made me appreciate this world.  

I hope that my fellow builders (you know who you are) will build a new land with me.
Just remember that no matter how painful, no matter how heart-wrenching, no matter how dark things seem to be and there is no end in sight - keep our eyes on the prize and know that we can minimise the pain and mistrust as quickly as the blink of an eye.  So wake up everybody. . . 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

You can get it if you really want. . .

This blog post is dedicated to my fellow postgrads in the battle to gain their 
PhDs, Masters and honours degrees at the Faculty of Education, 
University of Auckland, Aotearoa

You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
But you must try, try and try, try and try
You'll succeed at last

Those of us (comrades in arms it feels!) who pursue higher tertiary education do so for different reasons.  The thing that unites us all is the struggle, as we all know the struggle is real.  I think what being on this journey has shown me is that I have a voice, a unique Pacific Island perspective that needs to surface.  The irony is not lost on me that I've chosen to profile the voices of Pacific Island students in secondary schools, so my voice is actually their voice.  

Persecution you must fear
Win or lose you got to get your share
You've got your mind set on a dream
You can get it though hard it may seem now. . . 

We must be prepared to be persecuted for our ideas.  For some people. that's their job.  They will be placed in our lives to critique our work and rip us to shreds.  For other people, they will make it their job but not really provide any constructive criticism.  To those people. you can choose to ignore their ill-informed critique or store it in the "deal with it later" or "recycle" box - sift through the baseless negativity and come out with something new to take on board.  There will be little room for doubt in the business we are in - no time for being a halfass (people who have seen my ass pyramid will know what I'm talking about - hmmm.... maybe that's a future blog post in the making....).  I want to share with my fellow students that we need to rely on each other to get through, but more than just get through - to run with each others, cheering each other along, ripping our own work to shreds then building it back up again - why?  Because that's what critical friends and true academics do.  

Rome was not built on a day
Opposition will come your way
But the hotter the battle you see
It's the sweeter the victory now

Whatever opposition comes - I'll be prepared.  I'll also help my friends too - I mean if we all swore on  the Hippocratic oath or at least made up our own version of it?  Like the Hippocratic oath it would need to be steeped in deference to Greek mythology because the ancient knowledge from which our learning is derived is from there, even though we are using it to provide a voice for our own peoples (I wonder what the ancient Greeks would've thought of that?  Heathens becoming educated ha!).

You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want. . . 

I understand that the journey to this point has been long and arduous.  I have learned from an early age that anything worth having in life was never easy to gain.  People in my life (including some members of my family) do not hold the same value that I place on higher education - this attitude is because they have their own values and priorities that are different to mine.  To that end - I accept their decisions, just as I hope they accept mine.  I guess the only differences will be that I'm hoping that what I've tasked myself with doing is going to revolutionise how they look at education for their own children and grandchildren (not that they know it yet).

I hope you all aim for the end.  But we need to remember that the end of our academic degrees, especially those of us on the PhD journey - this is only the beginning of our academic careers.  
But you must try, try and try, try and try
You'll succeed at last . . . 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Soulbird rise. . .

I'm doing so much in this world without you.  Sometimes I get really busy doing what I'm doing that I don't stop to let my feet touch the ground.  There have been former students who have kept in touch and shared their stories with me, whether it is just an image on Facebook that reminds them of me and how I taught them that is funny, or they feel encouraged by the messages that I share in status updates.

I believe in open doors
I've taken off the screen
I'm ready to let the world come inside
And touch my life
I will no longer be defined
But someone else believes that I am
Now that I have dropped the weight
I am light as a feather
It's time to elevate

As an educator, the most you can ever hope for is that the students that sit in front of you will be happy and ready to learn from me as well as being ready to teach me.  I've lost count of the many times the things that students have done or said that have touched me and made me pause and reflect on how I can engage them in a lesson.

Soulbird rise
Lift your eyes
Spread your wring
Prepare to fly
This is the money of your life
Go ahead and fly

I'm scared sometimes when the full realisation hits that I have a huge responsibility to not only do well for my people, because to serve a divine purpose or a calling that is bigger than myself is crazy to try to fathom.  My heart cries for you.  It's hard listening to the silence where I expect to hear your talk to me.  I always relied on your honest feedback and critique of anything I did because you understood that to be at my best, that you had to rip everything I did to shred.  Now I know you've sent some good friends to be around me to continue this journey with me.  As much as I'm encouraged by this and trying not to miss you too much, I am thankful that you always find your way to me when I need you the most.

I believe in open doors
From outside of the box
What did not demolish me simply polished me
Now the clearer I can see
I know where I want to go
I am living in the flow
And now that I have dropped the weight
I am light as a feather
It's time to elevate

I hope to still feel you around me when I need you the most.  It can be hard to stay focused and be patient.  Thanks for loving me when I didn't deserve it.  I know that I am where I want to be and where I want to go because you loved me.  I offer you the best of me because you expect nothing less.  In the continuum of my 'slumdog millionaire' path to self-discovery, I am grateful that I know you guide me to every closed door where you stand beside me.
I believe in open doors. . . 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

I can see clearly now. . .

I can see clearly now by Johnny Nash has been covered by many artists, but my favourite is by Jimmy Cliff.  The first time I heard this song was on the radio as a child.  It's one of those infectious songs that keeps you moving.  I think it has something to do with the steady, regular, walking pace of the tempo, so that if you were dancing, all you want to do is shuffle.  Later in high school it would be one of the songs that we would be tested on in a classroom assessment in our first year :-)

I can see clearly now the rain has gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day
It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

The thing about rain is that eventually it stops.
Having that fat heavy rain block your eyesight, that Forrest Gump talks about while on his tour of duty in Vietnam, saturating your clothes to your skin, making it so heavy for you to keep trekking your way through those obstacles; would you have the stamina to keep going?

I think I can make it now the pain has gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is that rainbow I've been praying for
It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

What bad feelings normally surface for you?  Are they bad feelings that people try to put on you?  Do they originate from some deep seated set of beliefs that you are trying to avoid dealing with?  I can imagine the look on your face though, that overwhelming sense of relief when the rainbow appears, notedly when you experience a breakthrough after an event that threatened to break you - this tells how tenuous and delicate the balance can be tipped in favour of a position - what determines this shift in the balance?  Is it out of your control every time you are immersed in a tricky situation like this?

Look around, there's nothing but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothing but blue skies. . .

This bridge section is probably one my favourite parts in a song.  When I was a child, I would remember pretending that I was an aeroplane outside in the back yard with my arms outstretched squinting up into the sunlight while I glided around the freshly cut grass making aeroplane noises.

Oh it's gonna be a bright, sunshiny day
It's gonna be so bright, oh yeah
Oh what bright, bright, sunshiny day
Oh yeah. . yeah. . .

With no obstacles in the way of what you're doing, there would be nothing ahead but blue skies.    
What lies ahead for you? Obstacles can be people, processes or situations that threaten to block you from achieving your goals.  I would try to envision that even though these obstacles exist - that they have an expiry date, that you have the power to dispel them and have them removed from your life.  
I hope that you always keep that glorious image of blue skies ahead of you to drive you, keep you focused on a clear pathway ahead without obstacles.  Never give up hope that things will go your way.  Your bright, sunshiny day will come. . .

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

I am light. . .

This blog post is dedicated to you - the one with the light inside.
I hope your light answers mine :-)

If you are going to read this blog post, can I recommend that you read it when you have time to fully listen to the accompanying YouTube clip in a quiet space while you read.

I listen to this song when I need to meditate and clear my mind from the unnecessary stresses, troubles and worries that can leave the debris of the day - blocking my light.


I am light, I am light (x4)

I am not the things my family did

I am not the voices in my head
I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside
I am light

Losing sight of who you are, who you truly are - far from the perceptions of others, the incessant commentary, the busy-ness that people create about you, making you their topic of business in conversations - can reveal the dimness or extinguishing of your light, of you - the light.

There will be times when you need to recognise when you are starting to lose energy, starting to stop being the you that you want to be, that you know that you need to be, that you are not any of the negative things or aspects that threaten to dim or extinguish you - the light.

I am light, I am light (x4)

I'm not the mistakes that I have made or any things that have caused me pain

I am not the pieces of a dream I left behind

I am light, I am light (x4)

When I feel low, when I feel my energy running low and I need to reignite the light within me that threatens to be consumed by the darkness from outside me, I listen to this song.  The simplicity of the guitar playing in the beginning of the song, allows the vocals to shine through the melody.  It reminds me of candlelight flickering in a darkened room.

I am not the color of my eyes
I am not the skin on the outside
I am not my age, I am not my race, my soul inside is all light

All light, all light (x2)

I am light, I am light (x2)

Tell everyone what you are not.
Shout it from the rooftops, the mountain tops, even the cliff tops (maybe not muffin tops).
It's important to tell people what you are not.
It's a very liberating experience to be able to have ownership of you, to know yourself in a full and complete way that you choose to reveal to whoever you want to see, if you choose them to see.

I am divinity defined
I am the God on the inside
I am a star, I am a piece of it all
I am light

Give yourself permission to create the life that you want.  This is what I interpret from what India suggests with reference to being the God on the inside.  This speaks volumes to me about you being the creator of your life - to live the best life that you want by making yourself shine, making your light shine.  How do you choose to share your light?  Are you the type of light that inspires an answering light in others - does your light call to other potential lights in others to ignite?

Can you imagine how great it must look from those rooftops, those mountain tops, even those cliff tops to see everyone - as a combined grid of light.
I am a star, I am a piece of it all. . . 

A growing time. . .

Do you have time to reflect on plans that you make?  Sometimes we forget to take a step back and take a look at what we're doing, reflecting on the process of things that we're doing, whether it's the life we're living, the direction we're heading, who we're on this life journey with and whether we are growing along the way.  This blog post focuses on Dan Fogelberg's 'A growing time'.

It's a growing time
Springtime of the year
It's a growing time
The sun is moving near
It is yours and mine
The days are ours to share
Within our peaceful garden
And this growing time so far

I think it's important to grow, but I don't think that you can grow effectively unless you have at least some sort of plan in place, especially when you are selecting what it is that you want to grow - either within yourself, with others.  Do you want to share this growth?  Is it a growth mindset that you are trying to cultivate?  Are the conditions right for you to grow?  What if we're forced to grow when we're not ready?  How do we cope with that?

Caring quietly 
For the garden in our care
It's a joy to see
True love's blossoms growing there
When you walk with me
A single shadow's thrown
Across our peaceful garden
And this growing time we've known

I guess if you're going to grow something, it might be useful to share the responsibility of growing with someone else.  It could be someone that you want to share the growth journey with, someone who can assist and support where needed.  I wonder what the single shadow is that is thrown?  Will the shadow cast any future doubts that may threaten to hamper the growth of the garden?  The garden could be people that you are responsible for: your family, the team that you work in, your local community, your people that rely on you to ensure that the growth continues in a seamless way.

Now the sheep are in the meadow
And the cows are in the corn
And if wishes were like horses we would ride
Like the light unto the shadow
And the blossom to the thorn
We've come to learn we flourish side by side
Side by side. . .

I hope that you get to experience the full bloom of your growth cycle (and I say cycle because no doubt you will have the opportunity to grow new things, including yourself with each springtime).  You will know in the fullness of time when the harvest will be ready and appreciate what you have grown.  Like the biblical parables tell us about gardens that do not grow (or Mary being quite contrary if you're a fan of nursery rhymes) but we must always remember to stop and smell the roses sometimes. . .

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Woo hoo. . .

This blog post is dedicated to everyone who achieves their goals, no matter how small. . . 

I first came across this song while watching Kill Bill Vol. 1.  The song Woo hoo will most likely be the best karaoke song you could ever sing.  It's super easy to remember the words, so there will be no embarrassing moments trying to remember the lyrics.  I think the thing I like best about this type of song is that it belongs to the category of song with nonsensical lyrics (feel free to tweet @ManuMuso to let me know what your favourite ones are!).

Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo

I love the scene in the movie when the song is used as a backdrop to the impending destruction that is set to come from the hands of The Bride played by Uma Thurman.  The scene opens with the focus on the Japanese all-girl rock-abilly band. the 5,6,7,8's but as soon as the Black Mamba enters the scene the focus shifts to her.  I like the way that Quentin Tarantino uses music to tell the story - he constantly profiles music by putting it in the foreground of a scene, then moving it into the background.  It is this masterful weaving in and out of the narrative that makes him one of my favourite directors.

Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo
Woo hoo woo hoo hoo

I submitted the second round of my ethics application today for my PhD studies.  I did a pilot study last year to get some themes to help inform this next stage of my research, so today's blog post is a bit of a celebration in terms of reaching that milestone.  I immediately thought of this song as a great dance track, those "let it loose" around the lounge ones and blast this on full volume.

I hope that you always remember to celebrate all the achievements in your life, no matter how small.  They may seem insignificant to other people but they're a huge deal for you - and your opinion is the only one that matters.  Particularly when there has been nobody to really support you on the realisation of those goals, you tend to plod along on your own and just get on with it.  It's a nice quiet unassuming way of working but hey if it works for you - why mess with it right?

Woo hoo woo hoo hoo yeah!

The Scientist. . .

This blog post is a song request from +Rochelle Savage 

This blog post features The Scientist by Coldplay.  Thanks Rochelle for requesting this song.  It's been milling around in the recesses of my mind for some time.  I was waiting for the right time to release it, so to speak.  When you write, there is kind of like a flow of emotion that emanates from you, whether you continue on that emotional wave, whatever seems to be overwhelming you at the time and sometimes you just run with it, sometimes you switch it up and change gear.  I think people go through melancholic phases sometimes.  It's not a depressing thing to do, it's something that for me personally that I recognise in beautiful artwork that have tragic stories that the artists chooses to depict pain in their own lives and you can marvel at it their skill in a painting, a sculpture, a photography, even a performance art piece or installation.  

Come up to meet you
Tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are
I had to find you
Tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets
And ask me your questions
Oh let's go back to the start
Running in circles, coming up tails
Heads on a science apart

The 8 bar piano introduction leads in the male vocal with his yearning plea of an apology.  Is it as simple as that?  Would you be easily swayed, quick to forgive for any relationship breakdowns.  Wiping the slate clean may seem to be the only logical thing to do when things get to an impasse.  There's only so much malleability you are willing to exercise, particularly when you're unsure whether the relationship is worth saving.  Was it ever worth starting in the first place?  Is it even worth asking questions.  The very questions that are on the tips of our tongues, we always seem to know the answers to - so why bother asking them?  He's probably practised his poker face in the mirror enough times, practising holding his facial muscles just so, in a perfect pose with poise to ensure that you can't really see his truth.  He seems to think that it's easy to rewind time - but you have the luxury of waiting to make the right decision for a change - for you.

I was just guessing at numbers and figures 
Pulling your puzzles apart
Questions of science, science and progress
Could not speak as loud as my heart

Tell me you love me
Come back and haunt me
Oh and I rush to the start
Running in circles, chasing our tails
Coming back as we are. . .

I don't know about you but one of the most irritating things that someone can do is make assumptions about you by trying to guess what you're like, what makes you tick and how do they do this by the way?  Deliberately pressing all of the wrong buttons like some crazed awkward teenager who struggles to master the controls of that 90's StreetFighter arcade game in the mall while you scramble around in the panic room you call a heart shutting down all of the ventricles that lead to your innermost chambers.  So logic and science, maybe even common sense, do not speak as loud as his heart.  Well, if you're not in that way inclined, if you're not prepared to get your heart broken (again) then you don't need to let him anywhere near your heart again.  I mean seriously, how irresponsible would you be?  A sucker for punishment?  He can chase his own tail if he think you're going to return to that first square of that hopscotch, throwing caution (or a pebble) to the wind and balancing precariously on one leg, hopping gingerly from square to square in the expected sequence that love expects you to play.  Good luck trying to keep your puzzles together. . .

Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh take me back to the start

I hope that you think about (or feel) what matters to you.  Too often we let the science of our minds override the art of our hearts.  There is no wrong answer by the way.  I guess it boils down to whether if you give yourself half a chance, whether you are willing to admit that your heart speaks as loud as his. . . 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Life I know. . .

I've written about India Arie in a previous blog post (see Just do you).  The first sound that you hear on the track is the rhythmic heart beat, which is symbolic for me as it makes me think about how despite all of the turmoil and spirals that life puts you through, you know that you are still alive.  You know you're alive because you can still hear your heart beating, even when things seem too heavy to bear.  The style of playing in the guitar, the rhythmic plucking also makes me think about how your heart strings can be plucked from time to time when you face important emotional events, maybe even suffering emotional trauma that although you try to avoid it, you need to go through and survive as part of your emotional growth.

I have kept a secret from myself for far too long
The truth is I'm confused about where I belong
I'm not a mother or a wife and I'm living such a complicated life
And this is the life I know

My life is full in some of the most important ways

But empty in the core at the end of everyday
I lock the door, turn out the lights, and I climb into bed
And it's alright and this is the life I know

Do you keep secrets from yourself?  You're thinking - how can you keep a secret from yourself?  I guess you could call it denial, where you can't admit something to yourself out loud because if you do, then you know it's real and the weight of its living and breathing reality conflicts with how you choose to live your life - or it conflicts with the life that you want to live but are not currently living.

The important question that this song raises for me - should I settle for the life I know?

I cut the grass, take out the trash and fill the gas
In this house I'm the Mum and the Dad
What tomorrow brings I do not know
Yes I know it's unconventional
But it's the life I know

We all have a secret pain

We all have a tender place
We are born to want more
And no I'm not meant to live alone
But this is the life I know
Yes this is the life I know

You go about your normal everyday business (what you consider normal as part of your daily routine, weekly routine, the things that you have to do but can't control, the things you don't mind doing because there's nobody else to do it or the things you know you were born to do), but you've accepted the life that you know.  What's your secret pain?  Can it be healed?  Are you struggling to find your purpose in this world?  You don't know how you can connect with yourself in relation to others, having those meaningful relationships to create your own family?

All my friends are having families of their own
I'm still waiting for the perfect one to come
Almost four decades in
If I'm blessed then I've got  five more to go
And this is the life I know

Even if your friends are all moving through life's journey of settling down, having children of their own, it doesn't make you any less of a woman.  If you are happy with the life you know, then that's all that matters.  I can tell you that for myself, I never expected to be married.  I didn't grow up like most little girls dreaming of the perfect white wedding, keeping a scrapbook of what it would look like or played with dolls pretending to play "Mummies and Daddies".  I was never meant to get married as my parents never expected me to have a relationship.  The irony of an arranged marriage - the anti-thesis of an arranged marriage - the arranged unmarriage. So I got married.  5 short years and then I became a widow.  I never saw that coming.  I only knew I would be a widow 2 days before it happened.   

Sometimes it hurts like hell
But I walk away with a song and a story to tell
And this is the life I know
Yes this is the life I know
And this is the life I know. . .

As long as I have a song and a story to tell, I'll always be grateful for the life I know. . . 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Don't let me be misunderstood. . .

This blog post is dedicated to the most confused person I know right now. . . 

Santa Esmeralda's 1977 remake of Nina Simone's Don't let me be misunderstood is the track for today.  This song has been featured on the Kill Bill soundtrack.  Various other artists have covered this song, including The Animals, Cyndi Lauper, Joe Cocker and John Legend.  The juxtaposition of the nature of the lyrics with the upbeat disco music is jarring.  But it suits the purpose of what I'm writing about today. . .

Baby, do you understand me now?
Sometimes I feel a little mad
But, don't you know that no one alive can always be an angel
When things go wrong I seem to be bad

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

I'm trying really hard to understand what you think you're doing,  Your mood swings have been equally hard to handle and I'm struggling to be supportive and come to terms with how you want to live your life and what you think you understand about yourself.  I've given you space to understand yourself, I know what it's like to feel confused about what your purpose is in life, and who to surround yourself with because I've been there myself.  The only difference is that I haven't taken people down with me in a blaze of glory like you have.

If I seem edgy
I want you to know
That I never meant to take it out on you
Life has its problems
And I got my share
And that's one thing I never meant to do
'Cause I love you

Nobody likes to be a punching bag.  There comes a point where your threshold for pain and this much disrespect is enough.  You don't feel any remorse anyway so how are you able to see the damage you have caused?  It is hard to believe you anymore.  I don't think I want to.  I don't trust you.  If at any point you do come back and try to tell me that you love me, it's going to be hard for me to believe you again.  You've become one of life's problems that I don't want to solve anymore.  It isn't my job.

Baby, don't you know I'm just human
And I've got thoughts like any other man
And sometimes I find myself, oh Lord, regretting
Some foolish thing, some foolish thing I've done

I think you're human,  I'm human.  But now you're trying to tell me that you're above the law, above everything that we hold dear, and all for what?  I don't know if you will ever know what foolish things you have done.  The only thing I worry about is that you won't know what foolish things you have done until it's too late.  I can't tell you any different.  It's like I have to let you go and experience what it is you think you need to do, because nobody can show you otherwise.

Baby, sometimes I'm so carefree
With a joy that's hard to hide
And sometimes it seems that, all I have to do is worry. . . 

I hope that you are happy with your choices.  I can't control what it is that you want to do.  I never wanted to control anything that you do.  I had been tasked with helping you, to support you in what you wanted to do, to grow your potential.  I don't want to worry about you either. So I won't.

I wish you all the best with your life journey. I pray that you find what you are looking for in this world.  That's all I will accept.  I don't want to misunderstand you.  But I think you've misunderstood me. . .

Superheroes. . .

The Script are a band from Ireland. Growing up I had Irish bands like U2 and The Corrs blasting on the stereo, but also during the boyband era, it ushered in other Irish groups like Boyzone and Westlife.  Today's featured track is Superheroes.  

I've been surrounded by friends, colleagues and family members who are going through some difficult times in their lives and I don't know if it's because life just seems to be getting harder as each new day comes or we are starting to lose faith in how we can get through each new day.

Every day every hour turn that pain into power. . . 

All her life she has seen

The meaner side of me
They took away the prophet's dream for a profit on the street

Now she's stronger than you know

A heart of steel starts to grow

I truly believe that we need to adopt growth mindsets to deal with the challenges that come our way.  It is very easy to get sucked into the vortex of despair and take people with you, like you subconsciously go around opening these 'pity portals', dragging people through that point of no return because you need to stay in that other world until you've figured out what you need to learn there because you return to your reality (you know, in the world of parallel universes and realities that you try to escape to, thinking it will erase your problems, but really you're just facing the same issues but in another context, go figure!).

All his life he's been told
He'll be nothing when he's old
All the kicks and all the blows
He won't ever let it show

'Cause he's stronger than you know

A heart of steel starts to grow

When I was teaching in high school, I was in the business of 'building' students' self-esteem.
At teachers' training college - they don't prepare you well for this.  I had the fortune (or misfortune, depends on how you look at it) of teaching an entire year in a school, before completing my teacher training.  I quickly discovered that some of the things we were being taught, were actually irrelevant in the real world of a classroom.  This realisation irritated the heck out of my lecturers when they would make blanket statements in front of my peers who had no classroom experience and I would contradict those statements.

I'm glad I stuck to my guns and earnestly shared with each lecture room (that allowed me the space to contribute to class discussions) that students were fragile individuals and that as teachers - we may be the only positive adult they might have in their lives.  It dawned on me that teachers had a huge responsibility to be the moral compass for students who lacked direction and guidance to know the differences between right and wrong, as well as promoting empathy, so that students would know how to treat other people the way they too wanted to be treated.

All the hurt, all the lies
All the tears that they cry
When the moment is just right
You see fire in their eyes. . . 

She's got lions in her heart
A fire in her soul
He's got a beast in his belly
That's so hard to control
'Cause they've take too much hits
Taking blow by blow
Now light a match, stand back, and watch them explode, explode, explode, explode. . . 

There will come a turning point in your life where you will find that strength that only you can exercise to make the positive changes that you desire.  When you have been beaten enough times, you know when it is time to stand up for yourself and acknowledge that you deserve better - whether it is in relationships at home, at work, in other contexts that you are expected to contribute in, just being able to stand up for yourself, to have a voice and speak up - you deserve to be treated with respect.

There is nothing more satisfying than being able to prove people wrong.
People who expected you to fail, who had the lowest of the lowest expectations of you that you weren't even on their radar, you weren't even on the playing field, you weren't even 'alive' for them enough to be noticed.

When you've been fighting for it all your life
You've been struggling to make things right
That's how a superhero learns to fly
(Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power)

It's important that we know how to fight for what is important in our lives.
We fight to uphold the values and beliefs that we practise within our homes, within our cultural contexts, in our countries, in this world.

As important as it is to always feel success and know all the goodness, there must also be that balance of knowing failure and the evil that exists, because without the awareness of the negativity, we wouldn't appreciate and honour what faith and hope we have in ourselves.

I hope that every day every hour you turn that pain into power. . . 
I don't see the word 'empower'.  I think the letters are mixed up.
You're a superhero - and if you took a long look at yourself in the mirror, you would see 'me-power'. . . 

Friday, 10 April 2015

It keeps you runnin'. . .

I have written a previous blog post about The Doobie Brothers (see What a fool believes).  This blog post focuses on the track It keeps you runnin'.  It represents a story to me about a guy who seems to be trying to reason with a girl, trying to entice her to push aside her indecision to be involved with him, because of issues that she has with her past (or with herself) as she can't seem to stay in the same spot to confront her feelings (if any) for him.

There are a couple of lines in the song that would irk me if I was the woman in this situation.
There is a difference between being alone and being lonely.  He is implying that hiding my heart is not the best way forward to proceed in a relationship.  So what if I'm running away from a relationship?  What business is it of his?

Say, where you wanna go
Girl, where you gonna hide
You go on leavin' out your heart
And all it's sayin' deep inside

From here I can feel your heartbeat
Oh, you got me all wrong
You ain't got no worry
You just been lonely too long

There's nothing more of a turnoff than a pushy guy who thinks he knows you, who thinks he can read you like a book and can unravel the mysteries of why you won't open up to him.
All of sudden things are your fault that you are having misgivings about starting a new relationship or taking things to another level, because you're not actually reading him correctly.  You're the one with the problem, you've been lonely too long, that's why.  So trust him completely because you've judged his character all wrong.  And besides, if he can feel your heartbeat, I hope he's speaking figuratively here; every woman knows that inviting physical contact just unlocks unnecessary trouble.

I know what it means to hide your heart
From a long time ago
Oh, darlin'

It keeps you runnin', yeah, it keeps you runnin'
It keeps you runnin', yeah, it keeps you runnin'
It keeps you runnin', yeah, it keeps you runnin'
It keeps you runnin', yeah, it keeps you runnin'

What makes him think that he knows you from a long time ago?  Was he there?  If the guy that all of a sudden is starting to take interest in you is some ex-boyfriend who's wanting to try his luck again, then he should stay there - in that long time ago with all of those memories.  I don't understand how ex-boyfriends can think that they can resurface and try to reconnect with you.  There's a reason why they are in the past, and that they knew the 'old' you.  That person doesn't exist anymore.

So I guess if you're runnin' from an ex-boyfriend who thinks that he has an opportunity now to stake a claim on you because he thinks there's an opportunity - kindly show him the door and make him see that there was no advertised position and that he needn't have presumed that he would've been the best candidate for a regraded position with no actual vacancy. . .

Oh I know how you feel
Hey, you know I been there
But what you're keepin' to yourself
Oh, you know it just ain't fair

Are you gonna worry
For the rest of your life
Why you in such a hurry
To be lonely one more night

Of course he's going to say that it isn't fair that you're keepin' your feelings to yourself.
Be cool, be collected, be careful.
The last thing you want is to have your heart spilled out to him on a silver platter so that he can pick it up, fling it around the room, make farting noises with it and smash it into little pieces when you're not home.  I wouldn't worry for the rest of your life - just live it.  And it's ok to be lonely one more night - you're actually spending some quality "alone" time with yourself.  You don't need a significant other to make you feel less lonely.  I would be in a hurry to live my life - not let some obsessive guy try to paint ridiculous pictures of being together, when I hadn't factored him being in the composition of the artwork that is - your life.

I know what it means to hide your heart
From a long time ago
Oh, darlin'

It keeps you runnin', yeah, it keeps you runnin'
It keeps you runnin', yeah, it keeps you runnin'
It keeps you runnin', yeah, it keeps you runnin'
It keeps you runnin', yeah, it keeps you runnin'

I know I sound super cynical.  I admit, it sounds quite 'negative Nancy.'
But all I'm saying is that I hope that if you're going to run - that you keep runnin' for the right reasons.  You're runnin' because you're runnin' towards some goals in your life - not towards the arms of some man that you think you need to be a complete woman.  Because every strong woman knows - she was strong before her man came along, and she will continue to be strong when her man is gone.

How do I know this?
It has happened to me.
So if I feel like I need to keep runnin' until some man makes me stop and look at him - he better be worth the distraction. . . it keeps you runnin', yeah, it keeps you runnin'. . . 

Everybody's talkin'. . .

This blog post is a song request from +TeMihinga Komene

The next couple of blog posts will feature songs from the Forrest Gump soundtrack.  The movie was released in my senior year of high school and I remember playing the Alan Silvestri feather theme on the piano for school assemblies.  I learned to play it by ear before I saw the music notation and the theme bookends the movie quite nicely.

This blog post features Everybody's talkin' originally written by Fred Neill in 1966, but it really took off when Harry Nilsson released it in 1969.  Before it was featured on the Forrest Gump soundtrack, it was the main theme for Midnight Cowboy starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.

Everybody's talking at me
I don't hear a word they're sayin'
Only the echoes of my mind

People stopping staring
I can't see their faces
Only the shadows of their eyes

Has this happened to you?  You could be in the middle of a crowded room at a social event and people are engrossed in conversation, trying to engage you in some pointless anecdote but you're completely somewhere else.  You could be in a meeting with everyone sitting around you, watching you expectantly, waiting for you to contribute some pearls of wisdom, some deep and meaningful insight that could potentially solve the world's problems in one fell swoop, but you're completely somewhere else.

I've seen that happen to other people in a room.  I've sometimes been that person that people have stopped talking and starting staring at, to try and gauge your reaction.  I guess it depends on whether you don't mind being the subject of idle gossip or how well people start communicating with you to ensure that they have your best interests at heart.  How deep are those shadows in those eyes that stop and stare at you?  Can you see right through them?

I'm going where the sun keeps shining
Through the pouring rain
Going where the weather suits my clothes

Banking off of the North east winds
Sailing on a summer breeze
And skipping over the ocean like a stone

Where does the weather suit my clothes?
The song conjures up images of sailing in some hot and balmy location - someplace tropical.
If I really wanted to go somewhere where the weather suited my clothes, it would be somewhere cold, somewhere that would suit my comfortable jeans, hooded jerseys and beanies.  It's not that I would want to be somewhere cold that matches my icy interior, far from it.  I just can't stand the heat sometimes.  I've always had the mentality that it's easier to get warm, rather than cool down.  The irony of being a Pacific Islander, born in a foreign country she now calls home, but can't stand the heat of her ancestral origins.  Don't get me wrong, I can acclimatise quite quickly if the need necessitates, I would just prefer not to indulge in it.

I won't let you leave my love behind
No I won't let you leave
I won't let you leave my love behind
I won't let you leave. . . 

I hope that even though you will escape to a place that suits your clothes, you will probably find it hard to wear your love in that new place you're travelling in.  Wearing your heart on a sleeve seems cliche and it is, but I think that the beauty of leaving love behind is that you can choose to do so.  There is nothing that can stop you from experiencing love somewhere else, with somebody else, in some other place where nobody will know you and where you long to explore.

Even if it does mean that everybody's talkin'. . . 

Games people play. . .

This blog post is a song recommendation by +Anaru White

Na na na Na na na Na na x2
Talkin' bout you and me yeah
And the games people play

My friend Anaru suggested that today's track Games people play by Inner Circle would be a great song for a blog post - he didn't specifically request the song, he just recommended that I might want to consider blogging it and. . . here we are :-)

I have been watching with interest (is it the change of season?) the increasing move towards the powers-that-be messing with the "people".  It used to be quite low-Key before (excuse the pun) but it's much more overt now and the conspiracy theories but can't help but be in great abundance.  

Oh the games people play now
Ev'ry night and ev'ry day now
Never meaning what they say, yeah
Never saying what they mean

First you whine away your hours
In your concrete towers
Soon you'll be covered up in flowers
In the back of a black limousine

John Campbell and his brilliant show Campbell Live has recently come under scrutiny as possible being replaced by a daily soap opera (really Mediaworks - you're going to try and rival Shortland Street - New Zealand's answer to Coronation Street by producing a series that probably won't last as long as Jackson's Wharf?).  

Is it fair for a man who just only celebrated the 10 year anniversary of his show being on air, to then be faced with the cruel juxtaposition of losing his show?  It will be interesting to see in the weekend papers of our illustrious national paper (I use the word illustrious quite loosely here) what the ratings were tonight as a result of the social media backlash when the terrible news broke.

It's times like these that you are in need of a Russell Brand breakdown of the situation in a forthcoming episode of his beloved Trews. . . 

And they teach you how to meditate
Read your horoscope and change your faith
And furthermore to hell with hate
Come on and give me some more, more, more

First you're giving up your sanity
Turn your back on humanity, yeah
And you don't give a damn, a damn, a damn

Would you turn your back on humanity?  What price would you pay to be on top?  Is this what our lives have become?  We stop caring about what's important, the things that are important that promote humanity within us.  When will we stop playing games and start being real?  What do we have to gain by playing these games?  When we play games there are always winners and losers - does it always have to be that way?  We can't play games to have fun right, because these types of games that we're talking about are designed to see the survival of the fittest; these games are actually playing with people's lives, people's livelihoods and sense of self-respect and integrity.

Na na na Na na na Na na x2
Talkin' bout you and me yeah
And the games people play

I hope you don't stop giving a damn.
Let's continue this conversation.
If it's games you want to play, you need to know, don't cry if you lose.
I've lost enough games to know how to be a winner. . .