Life Lessons, Thanks Leonard

At the start of 2017 I boldly declared I was done with life lessons after being dealt yet another setback.

Five months later I realise I could not have been more wrong. Opportunities for learning are ever-present and we can choose our response – what a luxury!

We either solider on, push through and stay true to tried and tested behaviours and thought patterns.

Or we stop in our tracks, we pause, we reflect, we ponder. And when we do get going again, we do so with new insight and purpose.

The late Leonard Cohen wrote ‘ There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in’

Lately, the ground beneath my feet has been unsteady, yet I remained committed to the familiar routine, not willing to acknowledge its short comings.

And then a moment of clarity – the light flooded in and I saw clearly what I had to do.

The old ways of being loosened its grip, and in its place, the immersion of a women, self-assured : with an over-supply of the tools needed to solve the problem that had been  troubling her all along.

A personal epiphany, one I will not shy away from, rather start the process of integrating  lessons learnt into aspects of my being.

I am thankful for yet another opportunity for personal growth. I am forced to eat humble pie : I was wrong, I am not done with life lessons!!

 

 

 

Ode to Olly Alexander

Well, nothing’s gonna hurt me with my eyes shut

I can see through them
I can see through them
I am drawing pictures I’m evading
I will not use them
I will not use them
Again

 

Vocalist Olly Alexander, of the British electronica trio, Years and Years, has described his song ‘ Eyes Shut’  as “a personal torch song.”

“It came out of a very depressing time. I didn’t intend for it to be on the album, but we started doing it live with just me on the piano and people seem to respond to it.”

I respond to this song. It is musical perfection for me, compliments the life stage I find myself entering.

Over the last 6 months, I have attended events of significance. The passing of time marked by a school reunion, a milestone birthday.

At both events, I found myself in tears. Sobbing on the way home from one celebration, public display of emotions at another.

I was never one to show emotion. I kept so much in for so long. But I welcome this change.

Everything used to hurt as I strained to keep my eyes open, fearful that night terrors would be more painful than  the reality of drawn out days.

It was a Saturday night’s milestone birthday  I ‘ think’ I heard through the laughter, tears and general revelry, the voice of an angel, Olly Alexander.

What I think I heard, lead me to return to the band Years and Years music yesterday at work.

This continued at home, song after song warmed up the winter chills that cloaked Sydney.

‘Cause I wanna be bigger than life
For you
For you

‘Cause I wanna be bigger than life
For you
For you

Yet on Saturday night, as this splendid voice pierced the party atmosphere, my tears flowed.

Upon reflection, familiar faces at school reunions and milestone birthdays  have a tendency to bring the past cascading back. Such events remind me of the heaviness I carried around for decades that consumed my ability to see with clarity the possibilities in front of me.

Nights such as school reunions and milestone birthdays also help to reinforce that whilst confronting the past has and will continue to be painful, I am travelling in a new direction.

The tears will continue to flow – I can’t stop them – and I don’t want too.

But eyes shut, eyes open – I have arrived in the here and now.

Would Justin Timberlake’s Brittany Spears break-up inspired number ‘ Cry me a River’ have been a more appropriate song to pen these self revelations too?

No, Olly Alexander and his Years & Years comrades are just what I needed to delve a little deeper into the never-ending process of self discovery.

Voice of an angel, thank you xxx

32 hour Party People

Having returned home for the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend, over a red wine at Headlands Hotel, Austinmner with the parentals, the subject for another nostalgic post took hold.

The discussion was around music, and my extensive collection of ticket stubs from late 90’s, early 2000’s concerts. I think I made the comment that ‘It wasn’t always fun and games back then’….

It was December 98. Main characters assembled : Kate S, Jess, C- Ron and movie extra Chris Hopkins. We were attending UK electronic music act ‘The Prodigy” at Selina’s, Coogee Bay Hotel. We were overly excited, ill-equipped, naive, from Wollongong.

The gig was EPIC. Like nothing we had ever experienced. The gig was a mosh pit from start to finish and I feared for my life on many occasions. The big beat music exhausted everyone, sweat dripped from the roof, body heat reached fever pitched. It was a life affirming.

The next morning we awoke from our temporary resting place at the YHA Sydney city , and rallied the strength to do it all again. Our next musical adventure was to be Homebake, an all Australian outdoor music concert in Hyde Park.

We were overly excited, ill-equipped, naive, from Wollongong. Having underestimated the energy zapping nature of the gig the night before, we had little in reserves for an all day outdoor festival.

And it rained. Homebake became Mudbake. I recall very little of the festival other than Jess had a plastic water bottle, filled with vodka, that she had offered to C- R0n who was thirsty? He took a large gulp, eyes widening as he did – and not one to waste, the alcohol was swallowed – followed by anger, silent treatment and Jess’s laughter.

We packed it in early – the rain, the mud, our depleted energy levels, the Prodigy drum and bass from the night before outclassing the more conservative Aussie music scene that day.

We boarded a city rail train at Central and accepted our fate – the long train ride South.

Some 20 minutes into the journey, in our carriage full of festival misfits, coming down from chemical highs, the train came to a sudden halt.

Jolted out of my slumber, I recall thinking the train had run over a bike, collided with a metal object on the tracks.

Time passes and we de not move. We look out the window of our carriage to see men in forensic uniforms walking up and down the train tracks.

I am not longer sure who forms part of this movie of memories – Kate S, Jess are surely with me, C- Ron and Chris Hopkins, are they in the other carriage?I remember seeing the men in what appeared to be white space suits thinking – is this really happening, has our train really collided with a human being on Saturday night at Allawah Train station?

It was 1am before us Gong girls and boys get home.

The next morning, or was it a few days later, I read in the paper that our train had indeed hit a person, and that he remained unidentified, the John Doe of Allawah train station.

Fast forward to last night and it is some 19 years after Kate S, Jess, C-Ron and Chris Hopkins had been 32 hour party people. I did on online search to see if the John Doe Allawah case had ever solved.

The search revealed nothing.

Sometime when I think of all the adventures I had in my youth I almost have to pinch myself and ask ‘Did that really happen’?’

When an internet search does not verify my version of the truth I am left wondering….

But I will always have the music….

 

 

 

 

 

Run DMC – It’s Like That

Over conversation in Camperdown Memorial Park with my favourite Brazilian Australian family, I took a trip down memory lane.

My friend was eating a late lunch, fueling himself for an evening concert at the Sydney Opera House, part of Vivid 2017 Musical line up. This friend, possessing a vinyl collection so extensive it suggests he was born in the wrong musical decade, was attending the Avalanches concert. Aussie Hip Hop Royalty – the Australian ‘ Beastie Boys’.

Those who know me know my questionable taste in music, but at the mention of the Avalanches, for a brief millisecond, I was able to draw from my lapsed appreciation of true talent.

‘ Oh, I saw the Avalanches back in 1997, at Woonona Bulli RSL club. They had just released the hit ‘ Since I left you’

‘ Wow!!’ remarks my friend ‘ That would have been the perfect time to see them!!’

I have not checked in with my friend to enquire how the band, some 20 years later, were received by fans old and new. Rather, I have spent time reminiscing about my late teens and early 20’s, when attending music concerts consumed entire pay cheques.

Today I looked over ticket stubs from the late 90’s and early 2000’s – Blur, Portishead, Moby, Faithless, Ben Folds Five, Veruca Salt, Pulp, Alanis ( x 3),Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day to name a few.

And then the questionable – Ricky Martin, Human Nature, Enrique Iglesias.

Oh, and don’t get me started on Australian bands – The Whitlams, Crowded House ( adopted from New Zealand) Powderfinger, Silverchair, Regurgitator…..

But the search was undertaken with a particular ticket stub in mind – Run DMC,  the American Hip Hop group that hailed from Queens, NYC, had played at Waves NightClub Towradgi Beach. I was certain of it – I had been there, but some 19 years after the event – it seems implausible.

Ticket stub found, Run DMC played in Towradgi, greater Wollongong City, June 12th, 1998. I was 19 years old and wearing a woollen jumper and high heals. To say I was ill prepared an understatement. In need of a musical education and about to witness a live concert by the globes most influential hip-hop act. In Wollongong.

Next time I see my Brazilian Australian friend, I want to ask how the Avalanche concert was. I want to chat to him about that night in June, 1997, when I wore a woollen jumper and high heals to the Run DMC concert. I know we can both have a good laugh about that…and then some!!

 

 

 

 

 

Ode to Harry Styles

Those you know me well know my questionable taste in music.

Though I continue to age, the musical soundtrack that serenades me on my way has of late, gotten stuck, fixated on youth, beauty and a strong set of vocal chords ( height and killer check bones having sealed the deal)

And so it is that on high rotation I find myself listening to Mr Harry Styles. Song of choice ‘ Sweet Creature’. Also fond of ‘ Sign of the Times’ , and ‘ Two Ghosts’ and….whatever, you get the picture!

And I had to admit this fixation in public recently. I was at the gym, and my trainer, knowing my preference to work out to music by  artists who passed away in 2016- think George Michael, Prince, Bowie. offered to change the music.

‘ No, please don’t!’I whimpered.

‘ But you have good taste in music’ remarked my trainer

‘ Yes, but I do like Harry’

Then in an attempt to cover up this admission, I started over compensating with endless chatter, disclosing that Mr Styles’ album was to be the soundtrack to a June road trip , when a girlfriend and I would drive from Brisbane to Toowoomba and back again, with only Harry on the airwaves. I disclosed that my girlfriend, a mother to four beautiful children, and I decided that Harry would rock our world for the 4 day road trip, at the completion of which, the album would be gifted to her eldest: Ms Eleven.

And to you dear reader, I admit now that I lied.

I will keep the album , all to my greedy little self.

The grown adult in me needs to be reminded of youthful beauty, height, high cheek bones and a good set of vocal chords. That beautiful ‘ Sweet Creatures’, the Harry Styles of this world, do actually exist.

 

 

 

The Bangles – Everything

Sunday afternoon is perfect for some nostalgic writing.

And music was the trigger that inspired the story that follows.

Home alone on a balmy autumn afternoon, summer having left Sydney 12 days ago, and in her wake a mixture of heavy rain set in. But not this weekend, the sun has soaked Sydney and smiles abound.

To celebrate I placed one of my most treasured albums on – The UK all girl group – The Bangles- Everything.

Released in 1988, when I was just 10 years old, it was if my memory serves me correctly, the 2nd cassette I ever owned – Whitney Houston beating the girl to top honours.

This cassette was EVERYTHING to me , pun intended. I loved EVERYTHING about it – EVERY song – EVERY WORD was learnt off by heart and sung off-key at EVERY opportunity.

The cassette was a gift from a women who was EVERYTHING to me – my Dad’s Mother, my beautiful Nana Boyle. I loved her whole heartedly, still do, and back then loved her more for the fact that at a women in her late 70’s would have brave a record store to get me this gift. Who was Nan served by in the record store? A late 80’s raver coming down from a night out in Kings Cross, a Jimmy Barnes flannelette wearing pub rocker?

Whoever it was, they were super helpful to my Nan, and it was mission accomplished and bridge built across the great musical generational divide.

So I’m sitting here in my lounge room, bopping along to ‘ Glitter Years ‘,  tearing up to the song ‘ Something to Believe In’ and ‘ Make a Play for Her now’, feeling like a love-sick teenager when ‘ In your Room’ and ‘ Waiting for You’ come through the speakers. Yes 29 years may have passed, but these beautifully crafted songs still tug at the heart strings and get the old feet tapping!

I’m instantly transported back to the concerts I gave to my Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Kids in my bedroom, when, without a care in the world, and with no one really watching, I would sing and sing and sing.

And I’m feeling a sense of sadness for all the time that has passed between listening to this music, the people I have loved and lost, my personal journey, the good, bad and EVERYTHING in between.

And whilst I might feel sad, this music also empowers. I think of the super strong woman who gifted me the album and all the memories it now inspires- time spent with loved ones, pets, friends, all with Bangles tunes as the musical backdrop.

It was by chance that I took this trip down musical memory lane today. The Bangles – Everything – turns the big 30 next year. For me the music is timeless and colours my childhood, teenage year , twenties and thirties. It has stood the test of time, an’ Eternal Flame’ in the story of my life.

Baby, Baby, Baby – NO!

It was the phone call you hope never to receive.

That voice down the line, words that are incomprehensible.

A question is going to be asked and your mind races- who, where, when, what, why?

You brace yourself for what is about to come, body tense, belly full of the air.

‘ Do you want to go to the Justin Bieber concert with Mae & I?’

Exhale. Shrieks of laughter & all over body shakes.

‘ Well, do you?’

You come too and your best friend has failed to interpret your snorts of nervous energy & high pitched squealing as a valid response.

‘ No’ I announce down the line ‘ And I think Mae is a bit young at 5 to see Bieber- he is a bit R rated of late’

‘What to you mean?’

My bestie had no idea and I don’t hold it against her. I am silent.

‘So not a good idea?’

‘ No’ I say & for the first time ever I feel I have acted as a fairy godmother should – responsibly!! I have prevented beautiful Mae childhoods from being high-jacked, propelled forward at the speed of light to adulthood.

Take it from me lovely Mae, stay 5 forever!!

Or in the words of our modern day maestro Bieber ‘ Baby, baby, baby, no!’

Aftermath – follow up call to bestie & Ms Mae. I am a kill joy & Mae is sad & disappointed. Bestie had told her daughter ‘ Kate does not want you to go to concert’ – can you imagine!!
Bestie did look up recommended age for said concert – 15 +

Proudest Fairy Godmother moment to date

Thinking Out Loud

 

I have never been a fan of Ed Sheeran – maybe due to jealously. His song writing ability, musical talent and voice appear too perfect.

But today I have fallen head over heals in love with the song ‘Thinking Out Loud’- yes, that hit from 2 years ago, that has been played to death on commercial radio and racked up 1 billion views on youtube.

Prior to today, I loathed this tune!

But my work as a connector of students interns to Sydney businesses, lead to a working relationship with a music therapy organisation called ‘A Sound Life’. I have two young American boys bringing respite to the sick, the aged, the homeless, the addicted through music. It has been a pure joy to be part of their e journey – and it is only week two.

And so their site supervisor sent a video clip my way, of these two dashing young men, singing the infamous Ed Sheeran tune at the Sydney Children’s hospital today.

It made my day, my week, my working year ( well just about)

There is nothing more special that seeing a person engaged and connected with their unique talents & gifts, and for that to then be shared with others. It is inspiring, the joy contagious!

That is what I saw today….and as a result I am now an Ed Sheeran fan – never did I think I would see the day!!

 

Stuff and Nonsense

The Finn Brothers – Neil and Tim

Split Enz, Crowded House

Lyrical Gods, Masterful Musicians

Songs that help one make sense of the world.

Songs that offer wisdom and insight

Songs that encourage laughter, songs that induce tears

Songs that offer hope to the lost, and joy to those in love.

 

I once lived for the future

Everyday was one day closer

Greener on the other side

Yes I believe before I met you

I assumed that your love was brighter than the stars in my eyes

Now I know how and when I know where and why

Stuff and Nonsense – Lyrics by Split Enz

Warning Sign

For me, one of the most attractive qualities in a person is vulnerability.

When they let down their guard, allowing feelings to bubble over – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not a sign of weakness but strength. No longer is a person prepared to mask their sadness, loneliness, confusion – to go it alone in stoic silence.

For many a year, I stood in silence, unable to articulate myself in a world I found overwhelming and confusing. I flinched at the touch of loved ones, and remained tight-lipped even when surrounded by lifelong friends. I was a closed book. I felt misunderstood, and I was for I never revealed anything about my inner world.

In 2005 a colleague sensing my unease asked me point-blank ‘ You have never really shown your vulnerable side to anyone, have you?’ .We were out at Friday night drinks. I did not respond, I just ordered a double gin and gulped it down.

That was 11 years ago, I still recall that confronting question for at the time, it was true.

August 2016, and I am commuting to work in Sydney from the South Coast. On the train journey, I listen to my Mothers iPod to pass the time… And when I feel inspired, I write.

I have reacquainted myself with the band Coldplay, in particular the album ‘ Rush of Blood to the Head’ song eight’ Warning Sign’. I have been listening to this song on high rotation. Lead singer Chris Martin sings from the heart, lays it all bear for the world to know he is missing his lover. It is an achingly beautiful song, sung by a man who is clearly suffering loss and hoping that through song things can be mended.

It struck a chord.

Vulnerability in song form – it is ever so moving, ever so relatable. One connects with the honest tone of voice, the emotional turmoil evident in the lyrics.

It is an enabling song, about connection between people.

And that is what being vulnerable promotes – human connection.

No wonder I was so god damm lonely!! Why oh why Mr Martin did your song fail to break me in two, let the flood gate of tears unfold. How did I miss the bleeding obvious’ Warning Sign’?

Put simply, I  wasn’t ready to acknowledge my own vulnerability and was scared witless by this quality in others.

But now, different story. I have perfected the recipe for human connection – trust, familiarity, love, honesty & a desire to be present.

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