I belong to a local singing group. We meet for 8 weeks every school term and there are four of those. We meet from 7.30 until 8.45pm on a Tuesday night. The only requirement for joining this group is that you like to sing. No auditions, no ability to read music, just a desire to sing with others. So for a nominal fee, around $6 per session I get to sing a range of music with a great group of people, led by a talented and funny guy.
The age range in the group is from 12 to possibly 80 years of age. Our musical leader has the group divided into those who like to sing high, or low and then the rest of us are middles. Keep it simple and it works brilliantly. He adds in “keep it friendly” and every session we have a couple of short breaks from singing to say hello and catch up with the people sitting near by.
Twice each term we sing while enjoying supper together. We also get to sing out in public. The group sings once at year at the Wellington Railway Station for the evening commuters. This term we are scheduled to sing at the Wellington Airport for those flying at dinner time. Other singing get-togethers in various locations and for various reasons are also arranged.
Do we sound good? Yes, a lot of the time. Do we make mistakes? Yes, especially when a song is new but also when we have practiced and practiced. Do we laugh a lot? Oh yes!!!
Most people in the group would say that singing each week is the highlight of their working week. For 75 minutes on a Tuesday night all the stresses, troubles and cares in our lives evaporate and we leave feeling relaxed and much better prepared to face the world.
There was only one piece of snail mail today that looked interesting. I opened the letter to find it was from a women’s clothing store telling me I needed to prepare for the cooler days ahead by buying clothes from their stores. And, just by the way, I was only $350 away from my first reward of $25 off my next purchase after that spending spree…..there were of course more terms and conditions that applied to that reward as well. They hoped they would see me soon. I laughed out loud.
I also laughed out loud while I was brushing my teeth today. I noticed that on the back of the packet of “lady” razors the manufacturers told me in 15 different languages that the razors were suitable for women with sensitive skin. Each translation of the words “sensitive skin” was prefaced with a one or two letter code for the language used. Working out each code was like a quick quiz while I brushed my teeth. Good fun!
I sat next to an 86 year old woman at our local genealogy group last night and learnt that she had emigrated from the UK in 1949 as a young woman in her twenties. She had travelled light thinking she would only stay two years and return to her homeland. Instead she married, had a family and settled here. She has only managed two trips back to the UK since 1949.
With utter delight she showed me two photos that she had just received via the internet of her as a baby with her parents and sisters and another of her extended family. She explained that she had not thought to bring any photos with her when she left the UK and after her Mum died, her Dad burnt most of the photos and papers because he did not want other people digging through their private matters. She had long given up hope of ever having any photos of those earlier times.
A small subscription to a genealogical website resulted in a connection being made from UK to New Zealand from a distantly related family. My new friend proudly stood before our group and told of her wonderful “find” . She glowed with happiness.
The community I live in has a large number of interconnected walkways. Many of these take the walker well away from busy roads which is a bonus.
One of my favourite sections of walkway tracks along the base of a hill. There is a small stream that runs alongside the path and the hill and the hill is wooded with regenerating native bush and introduced plants and trees.
One the other side of the path is a school playground and then the backyards and gardens of people’s houses. A walk along this path offers me such a variety of interesting sights and experiences. I can enjoy the sounds and activities of the children at school if they are out of the classroom. I can listen to the sounds of the stream and the various calls and songs of the diversity of bird life, both native and introduced.
I can also enjoy the changes in plants, flowers and trees in the gardens.
I often chose to return home up a steep zigzag path that climbs the hill. Over the spring and summer I was delighted to see several native pigeons or Kereru. These are newer visitors (or hopefully residents) to this area. Tuis, Fantails and Grey Warblers are often to be heard amidst the sounds of sparrows, blackbirds and thrushes.
At the moment the hill is dotted with splashes of intense autumn colour as the leaves on the flowering cherry trees turn and drop. The native bush is lush and green and very damp smelling as nature produces humus from the falling leaves and twigs.
I can feel a long way from the busyness of life and its stresses and strains as I walk this route. I return home with my senses revitalised and my energy boosted.
Since I became a grandmother recently I have been thinking a lot about why all members of the baby’s extended family have spent a lot of time gazing at old and new photos.
The new photos are of the baby and we all admire him and comment on how much he has grown and changed already. We also search for physical similarities, such as “does he have his mother’s eyes?”, “does he have my nose?”, “will he be tall like his maternal grandfather?”
The old photos are of adults in his life. His father, aunty and uncle, his grandparents and great grandparents. We seem to need to connect with all of these people when they were babies or young children but for reasons not readily explained.
To be healthy human beings we need someone to hold our story for us as we grow up. It is essential to us developing a sense of belonging. At first it is to the immediate family, to the history of the family and over time to the cultural group and the community. All this helps to provide us with a sense of security and an increased ability to face the world and its challenges.
And there has been plenty of story telling as well as photo gazing.
So maybe we have all been adjusting to a shift in the history of our extended family with the arrival of this wee chap and to our new roles in the family. Maybe we have been stopped by his arrival and need to contemplate our time as babies that we can only grasp from photos. I don’t know.
I also wonder how it would be if we had no photos to refer to.
I came across a quote recently from Joel Osteen. He said ” If someone else has something and you don’t, you don’t need it. Instead of looking at others to see what you don’t have, look into yourself and see what you do have.”
Another blogger http://mariankerr.co.nz/blog.html has recently posted on the same topic, encouraging us to go on the journey of self discovery and to stand strong with who we are. Knowing who we are from the inside out can make a big difference to how we navigate life.
As we fully accept ourselves it becomes much easier to accept others. That has to be a bonus