And a girl ought to celebrate what passes by…

Since coming back from Zanzibar I have been feeling, on the most part, so much better. I sank into a quite deep depressive episode since Dad’s death, Christmas and returning to work in January. So much so that when I looked over the planning for the last half term, although I vaguely remember teaching what was written in those sheets, I don’t fully remember reading them.

It’s so easy to fall into a cycle of getting up, going to work, going home, eating, watching a bit of TV and heading to bed again ready to do it all over again the next day. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last few months. I’ve been living in this amazing place and I’ve been neglecting to take it in. I’ve been teaching some lovely small humans who will, for better or worse, remember me for years to come. And I’m afraid that perhaps I’ve not been doing a very good job for them, but I am now determined to do better for them. My flatmate has moved out to a village near Mwanza, so now, for the first time in my adult life I will be living on my own – although not fully as I always leave my door open and anyone can wander up if they wish – and so this is a time when I could possibly slide back down again and become a total hermit.

There have been a few things that have begun to help me pull myself out of this slump. One was finding the blogs from my myspace and seeing how excited I was to be starting my masters. That was halted because I didn’t get the job I wanted and I’ve been holding onto that disappointment for far too long now, it’s almost been 7 years. It’s time to let it go.

One of my friends sent me some music files – Rehearsal Recordings from Into the Woods. (Thanks Tim!) It’s a musical I love and I’ve brought the DVD over here with me. My A level music performance was nearly all Sondheim and I sang ‘On the Steps of the Palace’ for a school show. It’s one of my favourites and so cleverly written and I almost know it inside out. I even used a line from it as a title for one of these posts when Dad got ill.

The rehearsal recordings are very different to the songs that eventually became the show. You can hear the development in the lyrics and the stories intertwining. Sondheim is a genius, but even a genius must create, evaluate and evolve. Some of those songs would have been accepted and used by a lesser composer and perhaps been part of an alright musical, but that’s not enough. It has to be right. It has to be revised.

I have to be revised, in many ways. Damage has been done by many people over the years, that’s part of growing up and part of life. But… there’s not just harm that has been done. I have a lovely family and seeing how they have all pulled together in the past months has been quite inspiring. I have some wonderful friends that have been so supportive and would like me to come back, even if I can’t just yet. I’m going to try to be more positive as much as I can.

I’ve been looking at courses, a new Masters course. It will be expensive but I’m going to inherit some money eventually and I think some of that can go towards further education. I love learning things and when my mind is active and being stretched, even if it makes me dog tired. So I need to keep stretching myself. I’ve started listening again to the In Our Time podcasts. Most of the older episodes I listened to during my PGCE, on the bus, on the way to university. It was a little oasis of calm and knowledge on a noisy bus and I would listen whilst completing the Metro Sudoku puzzles. If I did well I could complete all three on that bus journey. Forty minutes of people talking about a subject that they were knowledgeable and passionate about, that I knew very little of. It woke up my brain and got me going for the day ahead.

I’ve neglected my brain and it’s something that my parents tried to cultivate. I had books, clubs, museum visits and I loved them. (The parents and the visits.) I liked learning and felt that I it was something I should be good at, because I was, but I didn’t want to work too hard at, because I didn’t have to. So if there was something I wasn’t going to get at least 90% at then I gave up. I stopped myself. I held myself back. I self sabotaged.

I don’t know why I did that, and why I still do. Perhaps it’s the children in my class laughing if I got something wrong because it was a strange occurrence (I’m aware I’m stating to sound like a smart arsed git, but I was once quite clever. Not so sure now though.) Perhaps it’s bringing a test home with 95% and Dad asking what happened to the other 5%? He wasn’t being mean, he was joking and I know he was proud of what I did; he just wasn’t always very good at showing it. Perhaps that’s because he wasn’t shown that by his own father.

Careful the things you say, children will listen. He’s smart that Sondheim.

So I’m taking a more positive approach.  I’m going to do things that I enjoy more and that will have a positive effect on the children I teach. They are currently very excited by something as simple as receiving their first letters from children in Northumberland. I used to be excited by getting letters (actually I still am, but it takes so long to get here almost every day is a disappointment checking the post). So I’m going to take a moment to see what’s around me.  And I began this today.

Things I noticed today after leaving work:

  • A small, but very definite, dust and leaf tornado by the side of the road.
  • Six butterflies fluttering past me, one as large as my hand.
  • The sun on my face as the dust slid between my toes in my sandals.
  • A small boy sat on his mother’s knee saying ‘Good afternoon’ as I walked by.
  • A cooling breeze flowing between my front windows and my veranda.

Things I am going to investigate further for my future:

  • How to become a foster parent.
  • MA courses at university within the areas of Ethnomusicology, World Music, Education and Psychology in Music Education.
  • Getting a band together when I move back to England.
  • How to be content with myself…

“What can you lose? Only the blues. Why keep concealing everything you’re feeling , say it to her, what can you lose?” Sondheim again.

So a girl ought to celebrate what passes by…

How do you say to your child in the night?

Nothing’s all black, but then nothing’s all white

How do you say it will all be all right.

When you know that it might not be true?

What do you do?

Careful the things you say

Children will listen.

Careful the things you do

Children will see and learn.

Children may not obey, but children will listen.

Children will look to you for which way to turn

To learn what to be.

Careful before you say “Listen to me”.

Children will listen.

Careful the wish you make

Wishes are children.

Careful the path they take

Wishes come true, not free.

Careful the spell you cast

Not just on children.

Sometimes a spell may last

Past what you can see

And turn against you.

Careful the tale you tell

That is the spell.

Children will listen.

How do you say to a child who’s in flight

“Don’t slip away and I won’t hold so tight”?

What can you say that no matter how slight

Won’t be misunderstood?

What do you leave to your child when you’re dead?

Only whatever you put in its head.

Things that your mother and father had said

Which were left to them too.

Careful the things you say

Children will listen.

Careful you do them too

Children will see

And learn.

Guide them, but step away

Children will glisten.

Tamper with what is true

And children will turn

If just to be free.

Careful before you say

“Listen to me”

Children will listen.

Children will listen.

Children will listen.

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One thought on “And a girl ought to celebrate what passes by…

  1. You are good at learning, and very intelligent. You deserve all good things…Happy International Womens day and keep on keeping on…ps your writing is great to read…you should write a novel! I sound like a spammer…:)

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