Thursday, 8 February 2018

How sweet it is (to be loved by you). . .

I just want to stop and thank you baby. . . 

I don't know about you but sometimes you can have some pretty terrible times in your life and other times, you have the most amazing days that you never see coming.  This week is one of those weeks.  When I've needed reassurance about what my purpose in life has been, it has definitely been proven to me this week. It all began with last Saturday.  Last week I had a terrible week, there was tragedy that loomed large and it cast a shadow over everything I did.  It wasn't because I let it per se, but because it made me aware of my own mortality.  It made me aware of the loss I was experiencing by losing people that I would never have the pleasure of speaking to again in their human form.  It made me think about the priorities that I have in my life and what my is meant to be doing for others, how I am supposed to serve those around me who need me the most, who need me to be the catalyst to help them become their best selves.  I have learned to do this without coming at my own expense, but to let go of those individuals in my mind who persist in coming back to help them be what they can't be without me.

I needed the shelter of someone's arms and there you were
I needed someone to understand my ups and downs and there you were
With sweet love and devotion, deeply touching my emotion
I want to stop and thank you baby, I want to stop and thank you baby, yes I do
How sweet it is to be loved by you, it feels so fine, how sweet it is to be loved by you

I write this blog post with a deeper clarity and understanding of myself than I have a week ago.
It's funny what you learn about yourself and what you allow others to teach about yourself when you become committed to the cause, when you become an expert in the guru of you.  When you allow yourself to know what it means to be loved by those that you don't want or need love from, but because they recognise something in you that they either crave or just can't help themselves but be attracted to (and I' don't mean in a romantic sense either, that just makes it messy when it doesn't need to be).  I'm just talking about the type of love that this song is talking about - when you love someone who doesn't deserve your love because they take you for granted and always think that you will be there for them at their beck and call.  Have the sense to know when your integrity is being compromised, because a love this needs to come armed and equipped with respect, mutual respect that allows space for personal growth and personal success.  How sweet is being loved by them, really?

I close my eyes at night wondering where I would be without you in my life
Everything I did was just a bore, everywhere I went it seems I'd been there before
But you brighten up for me all of my days with a love so sweet in so many ways
I want to stop and thank you baby, I just want to stop, thank you baby, oh yes
How sweet it is to be loved by you, it's just like sugar sometimes, how sweet it is to be loved by you

There will come some times in your life when you will forge the most unlikeliest of friendships or connections. I have learned never to question these anymore.  I think people forget to be genuinely interested in others around them.  We have conversations with people because we want our egos to tell them all about ourselves, but we forget to listen and pay attention to what we can learn from them too.  Why do we do this?  When are we ever going to learn to just stop and thank someone and let them know how much they mean to us?  Why do keep avoiding being honest about what really matters in our lives, pushing people and things aside who are exactly what we need, even when we think we don't need them?  I love the simplicity and ease with which this song can stay on repeat for me.  I think the lyrics resonate strongly with me because I have experienced this situation - being both on the receiving end and also being the giver.  We must never forget to show gratitude for the people who love us through our pain, who love us through the dark when we think we will never the see the light.  We must never forget those people who will forsake all else in order to show how much they really care.

You were better for me than I was to myself
For me there's you and there ain't nobody else
I want to stop and thank you baby, I just want to stop, thank you baby
How sweet it is to be loved by you, how sweet it is to be loved by you
Woah now, feels so fine, how sweet it is to be loved by you, it's just like jelly baby, 
how sweet it is to be loved by you, it's just like honey to the bees baby

I hope that you learn to recognise the sweetness of love.
I'm talking here about the love for someone who needs to know that your love and care is unconditional.  There might be people around you who need real attention because they actually don't have anyone else in their life who will be concerned about what is happening in their lives - even when we might initially think they are just first world problems.  We need to start scratching deeper beneath the surface and learn to be more empathetic.  The greatest challenge will be to love people who never reciprocate in the way that they should - when you have gone out of your way to help them, and they just abuse your trust and faith in them.  You will have to come to a decision soon - whether you need to cut ties with them completely or just bid them farewell with love that they don't truly value, but you know is worth more than they could ever want to buy.  At least you will have a memory of knowing that once upon a time, you can be honest and tell them in one final sentence of a goodbye, I just want to stop and thank you baby. . . 

Monday, 5 February 2018

Down. . .

Then you leave me all alone. . . 

I just don't understand
This here love is compromised
Where does that leave us, when I look in - your
Eyes you seem to care
Then you lead me to another place
It isn't fair, all these rules you make

What compromises do you have to make?
Relationships are pretty hard to try and figure out.  That's always the danger in letting yourself get into one.  You head in there thinking you know yourself really well, you know what you want to be able to put into it, together with your expectations and hopefully co-construct with theirs.  I've been reading a bit about (not about relationships) but about deficit thinking and one thing struck me about this notion of positioning.  The are two types of positioning - interactive positioning that happens - when you make decisions or have ideas about someone else based on interactions, and then there's reflexive positioning - when you think about yourself in how you perceive yourself (Davies & Harre, 1997).

I just can't stay around
With all your foolish games
It's like a miracle
I made it this far, and you say you won't keep fighting
But I know you will
It's like a cycle and still. . . 
You keep pulling me

When you go to play a game, like a board game for example, there are rules that you need to read and understand.  Everyone needs to read the rules of engagement so that everyone knows how to play.  Knowing of course how they play is a different story, as people might try to manipulate those rules and cheat as much as possible in order to win. 

There are aims that people plan to achieve in the course of the game.  Whether you decide when you play this board game, you figure out whether you're playing to have fun, playing to win, or possibly both.  The same premise exists for if you want to play in online games and you're part of some gaming community that regularly meet in order to challenge each other. 

What do you do if you want to stop playing the game?  Will you allow yourself to keep playing until the other person is done, so you just put aside what you want in order to assuage their desire to continue playing?  We might stop fighting the urge to play and just continue playing because it's easier to do so.  But that isn't what you want to do.  You want to break the cycle and go and do other things in your life that take precedence and take priority.

Down down down down down
Lower than I've ever known 
Oh you tease me with a smile
Then you leave me all alone

How much further down do you have to go?
These things come in waves you know, so you just need to learn how to ride it.
I have tried to finish this blog post so many times but have been distracted by other priorities that I needed to complete and chip away at while the deadlines loomed.  I think when someone brings you down, they might not even be aware that they're doing it good.  It literally sucks that when they seem to be getting on their feet and starting to see how life can be for them, when they're making moves to realising their destiny, that they didn't realise how much they took from you in order to achieve it.  Maybe they do realise how much they took, but in the long run it doesn't really matter for them as long as you were able to give so freely of yourself in order to make it happen. It's time to reassess your life and your commitment to yourself if that guy keeps coming back into your life for all he can eat.  You're no cheap buffet woman.  You're an exclusive invitation only banquet.  Remember that.

I still wish things were good 
Just like they used to be
Two friends who fell in love
Trapped in the mystery, we had so much in common
(And we) laughed at everything
That was long ago
Ooh you went and changed

This doesn't happen often and when it does, it has the potential to ruin your entire life.
When you have these episodes, you will need to build a support network around you who will know exactly what to say in order to bring you out of your reverie.  However you can only rely on this support network insofar as how much they are willing to listen to you.  And you know what, who could blame them.  When you keep presenting the same problems to people, it's one of either two things: 1) You can't control the cards you've been dealt and you just have to play the hand you've been given in the best way you know how or 2) You keep persisting in playing a game that you will never win, but you're a sucker for punishment and you stay there all the same.  Why. do. you. do. that.  Nobody needs to actually answer that.  Just ask yourself that.

Before we lost control, before we started to fight
Before you raised your voice
Before I left that night
And now I'm left here crying
Head up, to the sky
Trying to get back to the point when we were right
You keep pulling me

When you fight with someone you care deeply about, you put yourself all in.
The frustration that arises from not being able to truly express how you feel, how they make you feel less than you want to be, is always going to be cause for argument.  When they are not able to see how much pain they can put you through, it cane be because they are in denial about any problems that may arise.  They may not want to take responsibility or have any accountability for the things they've done and what they've said that has contribution to the current situation.  There might be other times when there is no fighting at all.  Instead there is empty silence that soon starts to hang heavy between you. When you add all of those heavy silences together, it just ends up being one huge mass of nothing, a vacuum that sucks out anything good that you thought you once had.
Like a drop of rain

Falling through a passing wind
You keep pulling me
Down down down down down
Till we get back up again

When you fall through that passing wind, will you remain intact or just be swept across that space and land on some other inanimate object?  The craziest thing is when you can see things unfold right before your eyes and you have no power to make it stop.  So you wait patiently for people to just realise what their actions are and hope that they can see for themselves what's going on, and can make it stop.  You even start to second guess whether your own actions has contributed to the situation but quickly learn that you were never really part of the equation in the first place.  It seemed as if, but it wasn't quite.  When you are in a relationship or some kind of close connection with someone, you would hope to think, or would like to think, that what you see is what you get.  But sometimes it's not that simple. Sometimes we never get to see any of that seemingly straight forward, how it is realness that you think you're giving the world.  Instead you're just going down.

Just one, glimpse of happiness 
And I won't have to guess if love has won
You keep pulling me down 

After all is said and done, I hope that you start to see what kind of relationships and close connections that you want for yourself.  We can all too easily get dragged into the same patterns of behaviour, we can make the same mistakes when we think we have clearly learned, but actually haven't.  It can only take one slip, one memory to trigger that spiral of chaos again.  But the funny thing is, nobody externally can see or feel that internal chaos the way that you do.  Nobody else seems to know that your own blood is racing through your system or your heartbeat has jumped from your chest and into your ears every time you feel yourself reaching to that familiar place.  So either wise up or close the door to those who consistently knock on it, wanting parts of you that you are trying to hold sacred for yourself, if not for someone else who deserves it more.  The sad thing might often be, they won't necessarily know the door is closed until they start knocking and you never open it. You've moved house.  So who knows when love has won?  The only thing you will know for sure is that once again, if you're stupid enough to let it happen, again, you're going down. . .

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Evergreen. . .

Oh I can't see the forest for the trees. . . 
A blogpost tribute to Deborah Faaiuaso

I kissed my penny and threw it in
I prayed I'd keep my soul
Went down to the river where the water bends
The only place I know 

It can be very easy to lose your soul and try not to let others damage it in any way - intentionally or unintentionally.  What do you want to let go of and throw into the river?  It's been a difficult week this past week, with the news of your death.  Everyone retreated I think to the memory banks of their minds to search for memories of you and the last conversation that they had with you.  These might be the only places that they know to find you, to reach back and relive those moments again with you.  Everyone will have their own places to search for you.  Whether they are through photos, videos or conversations that they remember vividly with you.  These are things that people will keep tucked away in their soul until they see yours again.   

Oh I can't see
The forest
For the trees

People always say, live every day like it is your last, because you never know when that will be.
We can see people who do live that way, and we can probably spend a bit of time being envious for their zest for life and trying everything once.  You were like that.  That gung ho attitude of yours would be an asset to how you lived your life, and encouraged others to do the same.  I think it would be so easy to see you amongst the forest though, a tree like you would stand out no matter where you stood and grew.  You being planted in the way you were, all you could do was teach others to grow just as strong, even when they were unwilling to.

So will you wait for me?
Will you wait for me?
Will you wait for me?
My evergreen

A question I'm sure that your friends and family will ask of you.
I am sure that everyone has their memories of you, their most recent of you.
I remember you most in your early days of high school when you had just started and I was finishing school.  There was a spark to you that was even hard to extinguish then.  You would be the youngest taupou to perform every I believe in the AGGS history of the competitive Samoan group at ASB Polyfest.  Catherine Pereira, Faatoe Fitiao, MaryAnne Winterstein and I had no issues with your selection in this role, even though you were so young.  It was a testament to your commitment to the leadership role and how you carried yourself as a young Samoan woman.  

Standing at the water's edge
The Mississippi's overflowing
Hold your current in my hands
You bring the meaning to my moments

It was obvious to see how much you meant to those who attended your funeral services.
They were there to mourn your passing but more importantly to share memories of your wonderful life, that you lived so fully.  The family moments that were shared will probably be the hardest for those you loved the most, the daily tasks and conversations that you had with each of your siblings in particular was the funniest to hear.  I have thought about those moments too.  What you shared with whoever crossed your path.  You had a good memory, a skill that came in handy as the organiser of the family and friends who knew you best.  I liked in particular the times when we would cross paths and you would remember what we had talked about on the previous occasion.  It showed how much you cared about people and genuinely listened to their stories, how they were going in their own lives.

Oh I can't see
The forest
For the trees
Oh I feel so 
Hopeless against the stream

I know that when all of the families and friends who have travelled far and wide to farewell you have gone, it will only be your immediate family and closest friends who will feel your absence the most keenly.  Their grief will only be tempered by the knowledge that you are now in your Father's house getting acquainted with your new surroundings and everyone else you missed yourself who passed on before.  I know that in your own way you will be with your nearest and dearest when they need you the most.  It is the strongest comfort that I have felt for myself when I miss Loma the most.  I am secure in the knowledge that he would always want me to stay strong and live the hell out of this life before I see his face again in heaven.  I am sure that your loved ones will know that your heart would not want them to feel hopeless against the stream. . . 

So will you wait for me?
My evergreen
I know it's just as hard in Heaven
So will you wait for me?
My evergreen
I know it's just as hard 
My evergreen
My evergreen

News of losing you last week impacted me in a way that I didn't expect.
Work and study were just swamped of memories of you and how much I thought you could have achieved as your days have been cut short.  But upon reflection, I see that it is not within our human comprehension to understand why you had to leave this earthly realm, but only to understand that those of us you have left behind must take on board your legacy and do what we can with the time we have.  Thank you for sharing your life with us.  It was great to see and meet everyone who came to celebrate your life.  We hope that we will see you again.  We will all miss your smile and your laughter and mocking skills.  While we wait for the day to see you again, we just need to know, so will you wait for me?

RIP Deborah.
Per Angusta Ad Augusta xxx

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Places we won't walk. . .

We will smile to end each day. . . 

A recent news story that made national headlines here in Aotearoa New Zealand focused on the aged elderly population here.  I'm not sure if it's because the media cycle focuses on the holiday season to release such news stories, but the topic of loneliness was raised. Are we raising generations of children that once they grow up, to forget about their parents and grandparents?  The survey concluded that Pacific Island people were the least loneliest group of people.  It made me think that maybe the major ethnic group were the most loneliest should probably get to know more Pacific families or be friends with them at least.  A culture that values its elders and commits themselves to drawing on their cultural knowledge and experience; surely that's worth learning about and treasuring?

Sunlight dances off the leaves
Birds of red color the trees
Flowers filled with buzzin' bees
In places we won't walk

I love gentle songs such as this one.
The almost tranquil melancholic simplicity of the song appeals to my sense of aesthetics in music.  There are many occasions for different types of emotions to be conveyed and there are so many genres of music that you can explore to fit whatever situation that you find yourself in. I guess this is why older people wake up early to make the most of their day. They try to cram so much in, as well as stick to their usual routines.  When they have reached a state of loneliness when they have either been empty nested or they just don't have people around, it is a wonder that they reach out for any source of human comfort. 

Neon lights shine bold and bright
Buildings grow to daily heights
People come alive at night
In places we won't walk

Do you notice things more in your life?  Do you take the time to be more mindful and present?
We can get distracted by others and their problems, or we can avoid our own and consume theirs. 
What makes you feel the most alive?  It's hard to know what you really want to do with your life if you are constantly worrying about having nobody to share it with.  You never really notice that until it has been taken away - whether they they choose to disconnect from you or they have been taken permanently - through no choice of yours or theirs.  I guess these are the places we won't walk.

Children cry and laugh and play
Slowly hair will turn to gray
We will smile to end each day
In places we won't walk

Children are fascinating to watch.  I guess this is why I have been drawn to the education profession.
I have always been surrounded by children in some capacity or another.  I noted one other news story that put together elderly people in a rest home with young toddlers in a daycare centre.  The hope was that the attitudes and overall health of the elderly would improve with the presence and interaction with children.  I guess this is why grandparents and grandchildren have that special bond. Parents are tasked with disciplining their children while grandparents are tasked with indulging their grandchildren and introducing them to stories and cool things that they won't get in trouble for. 

Family look on in awe 
Battles decorate the floor
Waves gently stroke the shore
In places we won't walk

Do you connect much with your own family?
I know of family members who choose to distance themselves from being close to any of their family because having them around doesn't agree with their lifestyle.  I find this extremely sad.  Granted not everybody gets along or necessarily likes each other - even family - but I think there is something special about the bloodlines that bind people to each other.  When we choose to shun or turn away from our family, we choose a life without being able to share our joys and pains with the people who would be the most obvious choice for support - unless of course they are the cause of the pains that you have in your life.  You have to take stock of the battles that you choose to engage in and what wars are worth that long campaign.  I don't know about you - but I've given up fighting for things to be in control, but rather, fighting for things and people that are worth keeping.

Children cry and laugh and play
Slowly hair will turn to gray
We will smile to end each day
In places we won't walk

I hope that wherever you are in your life, whatever stage you think you are at - even if you are absolutely clueless and you are starting to worry about where you think you should be - just don't compare yourself to other people.  Take a deep breath and have a careful think about what you would like to be able to achieve - first for yourself.  If what you want to achieve for yourself has significant positive impact on others - that's even better.  I think we should no longer worry about how other people perceive us as long as we stay true to who we are in the way that we speak, think, feel and proclaim ourselves to be.  It's up to people to take it or leave it.  You just carry on doing what you do, that represents who you are.  You will find yourself in places and spaces that will be uncomfortable.  You will find that these places, spaces and even the faces that stare back at you - won't know what to do for you.  That doesn't matter.  As long as you know deep in your heart, what you bring to the world, that's all that matters to me.  Be you.  Even if we go about our day not knowing what it brings or whether things will work out, I'm pretty confident that we should be grateful for what we have, what we have lost, to know what we have to gain - that's how we will smile to end each day . . . 

Monday, 15 January 2018

This is me. . .

For we are glorious. . . 

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

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

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

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

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 13 January 2018

And You Don't Stop. . .

Lord, You do it for me . . . 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

I say so. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 4 January 2018

We got it. . .

Put your faith in me. . . 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Loved by you. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 1 January 2018

Masterpiece. . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can fight the light (shine so bright)

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

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

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

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