My high school was an hour and a half away from my home. As a weekly boarder my mother would drive me to school on a Monday morning, I have clear memories of singing word for word the songs I liked on the radio. For some reason I could hear a song once or twice and remember the words super easily.
My mother would often say to me, “I wish you knew your school work like you know these songs”.
School was all about sports for me, the academic side was simply something I had to get through but to this day I can remember words of songs after listening to a song once or twice.
Music and more often the lyrics have been one of the most moving and healing tools in my life.
So when I hear a song that speaks to my insides and I relate to the words I have to share.
For some time now I’ve subscribed to a blog called A learning a day and learning, I have.
Each year I choose a song and a word that I use to help me stay focused and remember why I am doing what I am doing. 2016’s song is Rachel Platten’s “The fight song”.
Today’s discovery on A learning a day was a group called The Piano Guy’s. I absolutely love the sound of the piano and this version of the Fight song holds almost as much power for me as the one with lyrics.
My work with family sexual abuse is slow and often gruelling. It’s where the pain lies for me and it’s also a conscious choice I make each day to move towards my fear or my pain and as I do I realise it’s not nearly as powerful as I think it is when I am only thinking.
For me one of the most powerful tools to help me connect to this power and to my why is music.
Music gets me back in my body, it helps me feel when my most comfortable place is living in my head.
Recently, I was told, by someone I care deeply about, that my speaking out about my own abuse and the work I do with others to help break the silence is “my taking revenge”.
But, just like this song, it’s actually where my power is, where our power is. And the sooner we can start to say those things that we did not say the sooner we will release those internal wrecking balls and let go of the power they have over us.
For those like me that love lyrics here they are below:
Fight Song by Rachel Platten
Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion
And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me
Losing friends and I’m chasing sleep
Everybody’s worried about me
In too deep
Say I’m in too deep (in too deep)
And it’s been two years I miss my home
But there’s a fire burning in my bones
Yeah, I still believe
For most of my life in the finance world I did not feel qualified to be there. I would work harder than most people to try to understand phrases like credit default swaps and other financial terminology. Very often I would have snide remarks made to me by engineers, in their minds I did not have a physics degree or a phd, basically I was not qualified enough to be selling trading and risk management software to our clients who were Investment Banks and Hedge Funds.
Fast forward a few years and I look back with 20/20 vision and realise that what got me through was my abundance of GRIT.
Defined via google grit is “courage and resolve; strength of character” – so when I came across Angela Duckworth and saw her 6 min TED I finally found words to describe how I got through and get through things in life.
Angela left a demanding job as a management consultant in her late twenties to teach math to seventh graders in the New York City public schools. Several years in the classroom taught her that effort was tremendously important to success.
To begin to solve the mystery of why some people work so much harder and longer than others, Angela entered the PhD program in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, (no, the irony is not lost on me) where she is now a professor.
What we need to succeed in our lives is Grit defined in Angela’s words as passion, perseverance and stamina. Sticking to our goals and living life like it’s a marathon not a sprint.
Social Intelligence, Good Looks, Good Health and high IQ’s contribute, to be sure, but they are all useless if we do not have GRIT.
What Angela also discovered is that building GRIT in kids is about teaching them to have a growth mindset
They need to understand that the ability to learn is not fixed it can grow with effort and it can keep growing. They also need to learn that it’s ok to fail, to be willing to be wrong.
It’s been awhile since I posted. We moved home and between the move and work I’ve failed on my week day blogging commitmentment. But, today I came across something so sharable I had to sit down and make the time!
Like many of us I’m affected by the racist violence, the unnecessary gun deaths, the political leaders who seem so interested in their own ‘winning’ they have forgotten why they are leading in the first place. The general segregation. I’m very motivated to keep remembering that we are inherently all mixed up, our DNA is never pure, there is simply no such thing!
The travel company ‘Momondo’ teamed up with a company called ‘AncestryDNA’ and 67 very patriotic people to test their strong theories on countries and culture. It’s a 5 min video that is worth every second.
The results are moving and like one of the participants says I think this test should be compulsory. Living 16 years away from my “home” was the best education I ever could have received. The biggest lesson by far is that people are the same in each place that I lived. The same groups exist, classes, needs, desires and choices. Granted it’s easier to make these choices in some places but we humans, we are so alike it’s probably what is so scary for many to accept.
If we dare to question who we really are, to look at ourselves and our lives, our cultures, our families more deeply we will understand that we are all connected.
Let’s Open Our World is an invitation to travel across boundaries, embrace our differences and open our world.
Momondo believes that everybody should be able to travel the world, to meet other people, and experience other cultures and religions. Travel opens our minds: when we experience something different, we begin to see things differently. (this is possibly the most useful marketing tool I’ve ever seen, well done Momondo!)
My office in NYC had an incredible view of the Statue of Liberty and it’s surroundings. I would often catch myself staring out of the window dreaming. But these years were also some of my loneliest. To help me help myself I ordered flowers to be delivered to my office every Monday morning. It was usually a small bowl that could fit on my desk and they always make me happy!
I became friendly with the owner of City Blossoms a women that worked harder than most I know and still, to this day, through some very tough times, has grown City Blossoms into a Thriving business across the city.
Yesterday a friend popped in from NYC, he’s working with flowers and I immediately thought of connecting him to this amazing women. This is what Inna’s last post was on facebook. It made to stop and take a breath.
These past few weeks have been full on, almost NYC speed. I’m so grateful to technology, to old friends, to deep connections and to moments when I am reminded of what counts and I remember to pay attention.
Discovering Criminal Minds the series was a big deal in my life. It’s a show that, although violent at times, has me hooked. Crimes I can’t believe people even think of let alone act out, but the best part of criminal minds for me is how often they articulate my feelings in such a way that I find myself standing in front of the TV with my phone recording a phrase like the one I am sharing today. It is so spot on that is I have to write it down. Somehow writing it down makes me feel stronger.
“The vast majority of sexual abuse victims don’t grow up to be offenders. I know this because…..and let me be direct. I was also one of XYZ’s victims. It can cause allot of isolation – there can be anger and rage – it can cause pain and suffering – but you can get through it. It can make you stronger – it does not have to destroy your life. It can make you fight back AND it can make you want spend the rest of your life protecting others.”
All this is being said while his perpetrator is watching him on TV saying, “Hell I don’t know what he’s saying, I loved that kid.”
I believe every word in that quote. Everything we experience can make us stronger or weaker, ultimately we decide. What helps me and maybe others is knowing that we are not alone.
And that bit about sexual abuse victims growing up to be offenders, that’s really an old wives tale, just like stranger danger!
A Misfit is a person who missed fitting in. They also generally fit in badly or adapt poorly to new situations. I’ve often felt like a misfit!
Lidia Yuknavitch presentes this inspiring TED all about the idea of being a misfit.
Lidia wrote a book about her life as a competitive swimmer, a little about her crappy home life and how grief and loss can make you insane. She won a prize for this writing which was a trip to NYC and the opportunity to choose and meet three of her favorite authors.
It’s a common dream and I think most of us think that winning it would be easy but Lidia brought along her past on this trip to NYC. The abusive household in which she grew up, 2 failed marriages, a college drop out (twice), rehab for drug use and jail time (twice). Lidia also lost a daughter on the day she was born. She became homeless and it became clear that she missed fitting into any category out there.
On this trip to NYC, meeting editors and authors she had long admired, Lidia found herself speechless and full of shame. Shame for wanting something good, for deserving something good. Feeling like a total misfit.
But, after many people telling her not to listen to anyone who wants you to shut up or change your story, she finally started to believe it herself.
Sometimes the only way through is by telling our stories, by reinventing ourselves, even through the ruins of our bad choices.
Giving voice to her story and watching this made me reflect on my own experiences of silence.
It’s been almost 2 years since I checked out and retreated into my shell. Watching a person like Lidia helps me to continue to find the courage to share my story regardless of how much I am told to forget it or change it. I think we all know deep within us if our stories are suffocating us or not.
May this give you the courage to keep following your misfit qualities.
For all the years I lived in London I never had a TV and I never missed it. However, since moving in with William, and much to the demise of my reading skills, I’ve discovered a newfound love of series.
My latest discovery is Togetherness. Sadly, as I did my research for this post I discovered that they will not continue past Season two. Both seasons are out now and although I have not started watching season two yet I highly recommend this funny and very real show.
Togetherness explores marriage and friendship through the lives of a couple and two singles living on the fringes of Los Angeles. It is so real and true to life in parts that I’ve found myself laughing till I cry.
They cover aspects of married life and coupledom (is there such a word?) that even I, who is relatively new to being in a couple can relate.
The show is a reminder that getting older and having kids doesn’t necessarily spare one from angst, emptiness and confusion over the question posed in the old song, “Is that all there is?”
It zeroes in on today’s yuppie problems, folks thinking they are the first ever to experience any of these emotions. Like having their marriage tested through nagging unhappiness and infidelity.
It also touches on the aspect of searching, which seems to be a human trait regardless of our current circumstances.
As winter finally starts to arrive here in Durban I’m looking forward to watching Season two.
If you have any shows you loved and would like to share please let me know in the comments below. (Thank you Susie for your inspiration today)
11 000 volts went through BJ Miller’s body after he and some friends decided to have some fun on the top of a train.
His talk focuses on death and dying and how we can actually choose how we live because if it.
How we all need a reason to wake up and without question we will all be faced with moments where we can choose to turn anguish into a flower or let that anguish paralyze us.
The word Patient means one who suffers. We are all patients at some stage in our lives and BJ’s idea is that we begin at the end. Since dying is a necessary part of living he is asking for us to make space for aging because how we die is something we can effect.