Welcoming Peace This Autumn 

Welcoming Peace
This Autumn





Dear Friend

Welcoming Change
The young become the old
and mysteries do unfold
for that's the way of time
no one, and nothing goes unchanged 

- Everything Must Change - Bernard Igner

There is the inkling of Autumn emerging in the air here in London, the feeling of the wheel of the year about to turn.  Opening the door to change enables us to flow freely and I've been loving listening to Gill Manly's stunning version ofEverything Must Change to help me roll with the changes.

Welcoming Our Voice
It only takes one voice at the right pitch to start an avalanche - Dianna Hardy
Our voice is an immensely powerful instrument which, when used with awareness, can change our world.  Welcoming our voice enables us to speak, present, sing and communicate with confidence, joy and vibrancy.  We can also then empower, inspire and encourage others around us to find their voice - competition transforms to celebration when we remember that everyone's voice is more unique than their finger print!  I'm looking forward to an exciting new term of choirs as I know that through the process of singing together we are all liberated in very unique ways.

Welcoming the Harmony of Difference
There’s something that’s quite other about singing the harmonies that’s more unifying than singing in unison – P. Peace Makers Choir 
One of the things I love about choirs is how, through the harmonising of unique voices, we create something bigger than all of us.  Around the world this September, people will be raising their voices for #WorldPeaceDay - and we'll be celebrating locally with a Peace Parade at Crystal Palace Food Market.
I'm also thrilled to be taking part in Croydon Composers again this year- a project which brings composers across varied cultural and genres to create new music together.  It's thrilling to see what happens when musical worlds collide and I can't wait to see what comes out of the musical pot this year.

Welcoming Our Treasures
As dyed in blood, the streaming vines appear,
While long and low the wind about them grieves;
The heart of Autumn must have broken here,
And poured its treasure out upon the leaves.
 - Woodbines in October - Charlotte Fisk Bates
 It takes just one falling leaf, a smudge of red, to light up a dull grey pavement.  Deep within us is a part of us that longs to pour out our treasure - our unspoken words, unwritten books or unsung songs - to share who we really are with the world.  It can feel so huge and overwhelming, like an unscalable mountain - yet every book is written a word at a time. I loved thisblog on marginal gains by James Clear which reminds us that just a 1% improvement can start a whole chain of positive change in our lives. As the seasons change, we can align to our True North with daily actions which share and grow the real treasures of love, joy, peace and fulfilment in life.

Wishing you the a warm, glowing, peaceful September


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Reflections on the Meaning of Life @42 

Reflections on the
Meaning of Life @42





Dear Friend

Making Life Meaningful
The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe to it.
Being alive is the meaning - Joseph Campbell

Having now reached the meaningful age of 42, with gratitude for still being alive, here are some reflections on the meaning of life. 

Meaningful Creativity
The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose is to give it away - Picasso 
Know Thyself - the great inscription at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi - commands us to discover our deepest selves - which includes our unique calling or gift in life.   Humans are of course meaning-making machines - adept at adding layers and layers of theory, analysis and mad thinking to complicate life.  So to know oneself may require excavation of layers of conditioning to liberate our true selves.  The dig is worth it - for at the heart of every person is a treasure trove of creativity that can be channelled into infinitely diverse works, projects, relationships, artistry and the pure joy of simply being alive. 

Meaningful Service
If you contribute to other people's happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life - Dalai Lama
To give away our gift in live enables us to contribute to the lives of others - to share our artistry, love, compassion, empathy, creativity and happiness-bestowing qualities generously with others.  In doing so we find that happiness shared is happiness magnified and multiplied exponentially. 

Meaningful Harmony

Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations. - Monty Python, The Meaning of Life
The big search for meaningful living is shared by everyone.   When we remember this, it is easy to respect that there are as many paths to meaning as there are people.  With this understanding, we can then create connections across perceived boundaries of creed and culture and extend warmth and compassion for every person engaged in the journey of life.  

Letting It All Go 
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.  There is another theory mentioned, which states that this has already happened
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

It's possible that if we did actually know the exact meaning of life was we might a) give up looking, searching and creating it, b) explode because it's too huge to fathom, c) find that what is known rapidly transforms into another layer of unknowingness.
As all the great mystics and artists have ever taught us - the great mystery of life cannot be named, cannot be conceptualised - so the attempt to find it is absurd.  A glimpse can sometimes just be shared in the peak moments of life, when we find ourselves vibrantly alive in the joy of our truth, connecting with others to create a better world or indeed sharing laughter at the madly beautiful meaningful meaningless of it all... ;) 


Wishing you a Meaningfully Meaningless August

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Just July 

Just July

Restoring Equilibrium, Peace & Wellbeing



Dear << Test First Name >>

Just July
True peace is not merely the absence of tension it is the presence of justice - Martin Luther King
Directing Festival of Peace Croydon has made me acutely aware of the relationship between peace and justice.  As Martin Luther King and so many others have taught us - to have a peaceful society we must seek justice and do what we can to support the creation of an inclusive, kind world for all.

Interdependent Inclusion
Justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other.
 That my liberty depends on you being free, too.  - President Obama

Simple daily acts of inclusion quickly restore a joyful sense of community - whether it's taking a moment to smile and chat to the person serving us on our daily shop or offering our seat to a person in need of it on the train.
On a larger scale, we can use whatever platforms or influence we have - whether that's via our work, friendship circles, networks or social media - to help include and give a voice to those who are routinely excluded.   It was very important to me that our programme at Festival of Peace Croydon included art work by young refugees and artists with learning disabilities and profiled the work of BAME artists.   If we have privilege, we must make every attempt to share and include others - by doing so we are enriched by the sharing of diverse experiences and perspectives on life - our circles widen, as do our hearts.

Love is Blind
Love is blindness
I don't want to see
Won't you wrap the night
Around me?
Oh my love
Blindness
- U2 Love is Blindness

Taken from one of my favourites songs as a teen, these lyrics convey the longing for intense absorption in love.  During intensely amazing moments in life, we often close our eyes so we can really feel the love.  
On a more universal level, to find a deeper level of love, inclusion and connection with our fellow human beings we must practice blinding ourselves to the identity politics which constantly forge divisions between us.  My friends of colour tell me they prefer the new passport checks by machines because it results in less prejudice towards them from staff.  To really see, as Lady Justice knows, we have to blindfold our conditioned responses and learn to look more deeply. 

Sharing Our Wealth
A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity
- Ralph Nader

Our human society across the world is build on centuries of systematic social injustice, hierarchy and inequality.  We live in a world where 8.6% of the global population own 85.6% of the global wealth.   It would only take a small redistribution of the worlds resources - less than 1% of the wealth of the world's richest countries and just a fraction of the military budget of the US or the UK - to end world poverty. 
A huge amount of social charity is needed to counterbalance the poverty, crime, displacement, illness and deprivation that results from the unequal sharing of global resources.  Here in the UK, it's more and more commonplace to read stories of people campaigning and crowdfunding to save their vital community services.  Everyday heroism is increasingly required to make sure that vulnerable members of society are treated with the care which follows when we acknowledge our shared humanity.

Restoring the Balance
When strangers start acting like neighbours... communities are reinvigorated - Ralph Nader
We may live within systems in which the scales are still unbalanced, but we can start the change by sharing the wealth of our hearts, our talents, our voices, our kindness, our listening, our passions, our friendship, our courage.  It's within our grasp and at the end of our fingertips to reach out and form the connections which build resilience and wellbeing.  We can tip the scales towards justice, towards love, towards a more peaceful harmonious world.

Wishing you a Just July

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Joining Together This June 


Joining Together This June

As Festival Season takes sway, it's time to join forces, heart and voices together in song!



Artwork: Curtis Jere - Flock of Doves 1969

Dear 
Friend

Joining Together in Song This June

Coming together is a beginning;
keeping together is progress;
working together is success.
- Henry Ford
 


 THANK YOU for Staying Together
- if you are receiving this it's because you were able to navigate the crazy madness of GDPR and opted-in to stay in touch
- thanks so much for staying tuned.

Togetherness is Wellness

When "I" is replaced with "we" even illness becomes wellness - Malcolm X

The huge explosion in Festivals and events such as The Big Lunch and Jo Cox's memorial initiative The Great Get Together  testifies to a need for healthy togetherness in society.   Research by The Campaign for Loneliness demonstrates that getting our social vitamins has more impact on our wellbeing that smoking or drinking.
Getting Together in healthy ways is good for us.





Loving Shared Weirdness

We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness
- and call it love—true love.
- Robert Fulgham, True Love

Mutually satisfying weirdness is not restricted to romantic partnerships.  There is a huge growth of awareness that shared, satisfying arts activities can help alleviate mental distress - because creativity gives us a safe vessel for the expression and sharing of our own unique weirdness.  We can have a whale of a time splashing red paint around on a canvas in a supportive art class - or belting our our favourite songs in a choir - all in the warm witness of good company.  It's such a relieving, joyful experience to discover shared connection through creative expression.
The word Weird comes from wyrd  meaning 'to be able to control destiny/fate' so it's actually a hugely empowering act to embrace the calling of our own unique pathway through life.
And who knows where that might lead - as Hunter S Thompson said
"Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why."


Joined Up Thinking
Art, freedom and creativity will change the world quicker than Politics
- Victor Pinchuk

During the Festival of Peace this June we will be celebrating the peaceful musical legacy of Bob Marley - a man whose music has become the anthem for revolutionary movements worldwide and who united warring leaders in Jamaica in a handshake at a 1978 concert.  When we think and act creatively, we inevitably are drawn into wider connection and collaboration with others.  We think out of the box and can enjoy getting out of our boxes in wonderfully, weird ways which can make a liberating contribution to those around us and our world.





Inviting You to Join the Anthem For Peace

These Banners, 'Cut From the Same Cloth' by Katrin Albrecht, made from combined flags, are the first artwork to go up at St John the Evangelist, Upper Norwood as part of an exhibition with Celebrate Life working with Amazing People of the World, RefugeeYouth for theFestival of Peace Croydon

The centrepiece of the Festival is the
London Mozart Player's Anthem for Peace
- which we warmly invite you to come and sing, dance and play
with us during the Festival week.
Do also enjoy and explore the full programme of
vibrant arts events from 16th-23rd June.
http://festivalofpeacecroydon.org/


Wishing you a Joyful June of Joined Up Togetheness

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May There Be Peace This Magical May 

May There Be Peace This Magical May

Join the Singing Magic and Help Create More Peace in the World.



Dear 
<>
Happy May Day!! 

The Magical Month of May
Magic and May spring from the same wordy roots meaning 'to have power' - the name of today's May Day Queen means 'she who is great.'
So this May, here's some reflections on how the great magic of singing
can help us make more peace in the world.

How Singing Helps Us Makes Peace

1. Bringing Magic to Mental Mayhem
As singing requires us to focus on the movement of rhythm, melodies and lyrics, our mind is liberated from unhelpful thoughts, creating space for magic. 
We may begin with worrying thoughts 'HOW am I going to do this?' but the invitation of singing is simply to DO it - to jump in and have a go.  In doing so we become absorbed and relieved of mental pressure by the currents of music washing through us.  As our breathing deepens, our toes tap and our voices rise, we feel the great magic of life buzzing in our cells and it feels great!

2. Making Great Connections
As we become more peaceful internally, we have space to perceive those around us in a more peaceful way - to register smiling faces, shining eyes and tender feelings around us.  As we all take the risk of expressing ourselves together, we gain appreciation and respect for everyone's unique contribution.   Through the creative power of making gobsmackingly beautiful harmonies, we become beautified, harmonised and humanised. 

3.  Peaceful Singing Magic Ripples Across The World
Singing goes viral everyday - it moves, shakes, shimmies and invites us to play and bring more magic into our lives.  When we allow ourselves this joyful experience, we liberate ourselves from stress and tension.
 Just one peaceful, uplifted person can move mountains.
The sense of support, connection and wellbeing we gain from singing together can be contagious.  We can become clear, confident communicators of good vibes in the world.

Inviting You to Join the Anthem For Peace
This June I am directing Croydon's first Festival of Peace.
The centrepiece of the Festival is the London Mozart Player's Anthem for Peace - which we warmly invite you to come and sing, dance and play with us during the Festival week.
There is a full programme of vibrant arts events from 16th-23rd June.
Do come and help us create magic!
http://festivalofpeacecroydon.org/


Wishing you a Magical May

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Precious Life 

One More Life 
- A response to Knife Crime
Click here to listen

Precious Life

This a capella song One More Life is a response to Knife Crime in London. 
I found myself asking how can we help young people value and cherish the preciousness of their lives - to channel their passions into creating lives they love and becoming the leaders of the future.

Throw-Away Lives
I find myself witnessing a global de-valuing of life and humanity
- a void which produces destruction of ourselves and our environment.  Numbed to our true preciousness, we fill our planet full of plastic,
our heads full of nonsense, and our bodies full of toxins.
In the City, it's so easy to run around like a headless chicken,
seduced into throwing away precious moments in hypnotic illusions
- worries, stresses, media frenzy - on and on it goes.
Just this morning I found myself picking up a bag full of litter in a park I love,
saddened by the lack of value those that left it felt for their surroundings. 

Precious Spring Rising
Yet as the faces of the precious spring flowers break through the earth,
it only takes a moment to breathe in their perfume,
to savour their colours and reconnect to the essential quick of life. 
It takes just a little bit of exercise and good nutrition for bodies to feel vibrant.
It takes just one hour of singing for people to feel uplifted and connected. 
It takes just one touch of a lonely hand for someone to feel cared for.



Restoring Preciousness
As all the wise folks have reminded us throughout time,
change is an inside job
- if we learn to value ourselves,
we can contribute more value to the lives of others.
So I endeavour to take moments of refuge
- to remember to breathe deep and get still, listen, reflect and
make space for the creative spark of inspiration
alive and kicking in every cell.
It's right here in our bones and in our feet - the ancient and the new
all singing within us with the wisdom of the ageless -
the incredible symphony of life wanting to be heard
and for us to sing our song within it.
When we listen and tune into the song of life,
every moment becomes precious
every face we pass in the street
every flower in the garden
every step of our feet
every breath
of our
Precious
Life




Wishing you a Life-Loving April

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They Paved the Way - Women Making Herstory 

They Paved The Way - Katie Rose
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They Paved the Way

A Triibute to Women Making Herstory
This is my song and blog for this year's #InternationalWomen'sDay2018 - a tribute to some of the many female activists and suffragists around the world. 

1. Honouring Women in the fullest spectrum of gender rainbows

Honouring that 'women' includes those who identify with being assigned female at birth (cis),  those who have transitioned (transexuals) and those exploring the full spectrum of expression beyond binary ideas of gender- such as Kate Bornsteinwho having transitioned from male to female sees herself as neither, and describes gender 'as a conscious practice, and a playful journey.'   


2.  Honouring Women in the fullest spectrum of global experience

– Rebecca Lolosoli, Founder of Umoji a women-only village in Kenya
In 1990, Rebecca Lolosoli spoke out against the rape of what is estimated to have been 1400 women in the 1980s & 90s by British soldiers.  She was beaten by local men and received no support from her husband.  She left her village and formed theUmojii village with 15 rape survivors, which now houses 50 women and 200 children seeking refuge from FGM, child marriage, rape and domestic violence.  In the Samburu culture, a woman is seen as property - circumcised child brides are bought by polygamous older men who often desert or infect them with HIV and STDs.  In Umoji, the women manage their own land and earn their own money through work such as beading, which has outraged local men.  Their rape cases are finally being investigated legally.

I honour the experience of these and many other women facing injustice, degradation and violence across the world.   As a white western woman, I am acutely aware that the Western version of 'Herstory' is often whitewashed.   I celebrate the centenary of SOME white, propertied women in the UK getting the vote this year.  It only happened for black American women in the 1960s and women in Saudi Arabia in 2015 and in too many places is yet to happen. 

3. Honouring the fullest possibilities and power of women


Women can face and overcome incredible obstacles - such as Serena Williams who faced a barrage of  sexist, racist commentary and threats during the course of her extraordinary tennis career.  She has however always responded with grace, professionalism and tenacity, determining her own destiny and becoming the winner of the most combined (39) Grand Slam titles.

This month in some of my choirs we will be singing Polly Bolton's song To Grace the Earth, a tribute to environmental and women's rights activist Wangari Maathai who knew that every tree she planted was an act of change.  On many occasions she was arrested and injured for doing so.  The Green Belt movement she founded in 1977 has since planted 51 million trees and she was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.  She knew that power lies in 'the little things citizens do. That's what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.’
 

4. Honouring Women with Acts of Solidarity 

What can I do? - It's easy to feel powerless in the face of enormous issues facing women around the world. But following the example of these women, I can take small daily actions - such as sharing their story with you - to demonstrate my solidarity or Umoji - Unity - with them.
Everyday there are daily actions I can take
I can donate to Plan International who campaign for an end to child marriage and promote education for all girls and The Circle, Annie Lennox's Charity supporting women and girls facing inequality.
I can attend #IWD2018 events to share solidarity with women in my city - including Gill Manly's IWD tea party on 10th March at the Oval Tavern which will include a collection of sanitary products for local campaigners against Period Poverty We-Stap.
I can write share the stories of inspirational women such as Mayor of Croydon, Toni Letts who survived domestic violence and went on to lead an amazing career.
I can sing songs.



Your Turn - Have Your Say!

What are your acts of solidarity this International Women's Day?
How will you help pave the way for a brighter future for women and girls everywhere? 

What we do today can make it a better world for people of all genders.  For when women grow, the whole world grows.
Share it, tweet it, tell it! 


April Call-Out for Your Questions/ Ideas 
Do you have a question or topic you'd like me to write about for April?  
It can be as playful or as profound as you wish... drop me a line atinfo@therosewindow.org

Wishing you a wonderful March

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Photo: conducting 7 local choirs at the rehearsal for our wonderful concert to raise awareness of the Compassionate Neighbours Programme

I Believe I Can Fly 

I Believe I Can Fly

What I learned from paragliding and a flying start to 2018!
In January, I set off for a weeks R&R, little knowing that a big dream would come true - here's what I learned from jumping off a big volcano in Tenerife....!

1. This Planet is Amazingly Beautiful
Vitality and beauty are gifts of nature, for those who live according to its laws
- Leonardo da Vinci

I hope the video above allows you to enjoy the amazing beauty I witnessed (with thanks to Enminube Paragliding Team for photos and Gregor for his filming.)   I felt so alive and connected to the air, the trees, the mountains and the power of life humming through this incredible Planet.  I hope in future humans can treat all life with more respect and preserve a legacy of beauty.

2.  Courage is Cumulative
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. - Eleanor Roosevelt
As the Enminube Paragliding Team van wound its way up hairpin bends to the top of Mt Teide, the third tallest volcano in the world, I found myself thinking - 'If I managed to lead 500 people singing at Sing for Water, I can do this.'  The deep breathing exercises which are part of every warm up we do at choir also came in very handy! :)  Every time we take even the tiniest step out of our comfort zone, we grow our ability to act on the callings of our hearts, no matter how scary it feels.  We can build on each experience to reach new heights we never thought possible.

3. Space liberates clear decision making
Decision is power - Anthony Robbins
Just like any other human being on the planet I can dither, deliberate, procrastinate and delay major decisions in my life.  In the fresh sea air of Tenerife, away from the daily grist of London and to-do lists,  I was able to make a very clear, confident decision that I would paraglide and follow through on it. When we give ourselves space to breathe - by going to the gym, meditating, being in nature etc - we are then able to reflect and clearly direct our course in life.

4.  Gently held, dreams come true in their own time

“Life is all about timing... the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable become available, the unattainable... attainable. Have the patience, wait it out It's all about timing.” - Stacy Charter
I have always wanted to fly - it's just been there, like a little seed within me that every so often gets activated by watching birds, hot air balloons or hang gliders.  To suddenly have it burst into flower amongst the poinsettias of Tenerife was a wonderful surprise and a reminder to trust that all things come along in their own good time and as the runes say 'what's yours will not pass you by.'

5. Human Connectivity builds Resilience
“Connection is why we're here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives." - Brene Brown 
Experienced in flying people through their fears, the Enimube Facebook Pageis full of exhilarated, glowing testimonies to the unique connection they build with those who paraglide with them.  We were transformed from a group of strangers from four different countries into a team for an afternoon.  Gregor, who kindly allowed me to use his head camera footage in the video, said that the experience of flying was even better when shared.   The same bonding process happens in shared creative activities such as singing, where we can be real, take risks and grow together.
I'm currently working towards a Community Choir Concert with St Christopher's Hospice Compassionate Neighbours programme which is building a network of volunteers to reduce social isolation by visiting those experiencing chronic, long term and terminal illness.  I've also been very honoured to be included in discussions about Social Prescribing initiatives aiming to build hubs of creative and wellbeing activities.  We all have our personal volcanoes to face - but when we are connected to others, research shows that we live longer, happier lives and face our challenges with increased resilience.
When we connect, we fly.

Wishing you safe and happy flights of creative connection this February

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Happy Singing New Year! - 7 Ways to Free the Creative Voice! 



Happy Singing New Year!

With thanks for sharing your voice, gifts and energy in the world,
here's a few thoughts on bringing on the creative times in 2018! 


7 Steps to Free The Creative Voice in 2018


Find the courage to explore the unknown.  Not take what other artists have done before and be satisfied with copying them. Finding your voice to develop your own personal sound is of the utmost importance.
- Herbie Hancock


1. Give Yourself Time
- time to play, create, daydream, sing, write, doodle, noodle, express yourself - schedule and screen it off in your diary.

2. Find a Creative Corner 
- place/s were you can make space for inspiration and create in peace.

3. Listen
- to your dreams, passions, heartfelt longings, hunches and creative callings
 - do not dismiss them.

4. Manage the Monkey Mind
- it will come up with excuses, judgements, inhibitions, reasons, taunts, lamentations and gnashing of teeth to distract you. 
Find your own way to crack the monkey nut - for me, doing something physical - dancing, walking, cleaning, gardening - is a great monkey tamer.

5. Buddy Up
Join forces with supportive mentors, coaches, courses, groups and friends 
who will encourage, support, champion and keep you accountable.

6. Protect your creative energy and discern wisely where to direct it. 
Take an energy inventory - where and to whom is most of your energy going?
Where would you like it to go and flow in 2018?

7. Let Go
Surrender to the process.  
Creativity is not linear - it moves in mysterious ways. 
Be ready to take leaps of faith - tangents, 'mistakes' and bends in the road can often reveal new possibilities. 
 Use your heart as your sat nav and enjoy the ride!

Ready to flex your creative voice?
Come along to a choir or book a 121 session - more info below
Or please contact me for a free 20 min phone/skype consultation

Wishing you a happy, creative, expressive start to 2018