Rainbow Summer Sunset - thanks to wonderful friends for inviting me to their allotment with a view!
A Rainbow of Thanks
Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud - Maya Angelou
I'm dedicating this month's newsletter to giving thanks for the rainbows in the lockdown clouds. Lockdown has involved multiple levels of loss - whether the loss of a loved one, loss of health, freedom, travel, social connection, hugs, work, education, earnings, activities, events. Even though lockdown is easing, there is continued uncertainty and grief. Many of us have had to dig deep to find the rainbows in the clouds, but if I am still here and you are still reading this, then both of us are still living and breathing in this moment and that's one big rainbow to be thankful for. 🌈
Nature's Messenger of Hope My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky: - Wordsworth During a Caterham Choir Zoom, our spirits were lifted by this double rainbow. Throughout history, the rainbow has always been seen as a message of hope. Iris (from Greek eiris -messenger) is the Greek Goddess of rainbows. Daughter of a nymph and a sea god, she travels the world on golden wings at the speed of the wind, watering the clouds with ocean water and carrying the message of the rainbow between heaven and earth. My lockdown walks have been a god(dess)send, bringing the discovery of many magical green spaces and socially distant chats. Huge thanks to all who supported my Walk the Walk Moonwalk Roadtrip and to Stella Plumbridge for co-ordinating our team - I walked 136.44 miles and collected £323 for cancer charities. I did my final walk all pinked up and following requests, my daily blogs are available as a roadtrip e-book 🌈
Thank You for the Music... and the arts Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty what would life be? Without a song or a dance what are we? Singing together in online choirs, even in a very strange way, has been a lifeline for many of us, helping us stay connected and keep the flame of song burning. We've all learned new skills including how to look cool/ pull silly faces/ take a nap on Zoom. Creative projects have brought enormous solace, growth and fulfilment during this time. The arts can bring imaginative innovation and entertain, uplift and soothe aching hearts during a crisis. It it has taken a huge amount of lobbying from campaigns such as Public Campaign for the Arts to raise government funds and we must continue to raise our voices and bang our drums in appreciation and support of the arts. 🌈
Celebrating Pride & Remembering Ray The beauty of standing up for your rights is others see you standing and stand up as well."— Cassandra Duffy During June, rainbows beamed across our virtual world in celebration of Pride. Gilbert Baker pioneered the use of the rainbow flag for the LGBTQ movement in 1978 and it has since become a global symbol of inclusion for many taking a beautiful technicolour stand at Pride marches. During lockdown, LGBTQ+ activist Ray Harvey-Amer passed over the rainbow. A gentle, dedicated, flamboyant, big hearted revolutionary, Ray marched on the first Pride and having served as a nurse in the Royal Navy from 1957, was instrumental in bringing about recognition for members of the LGBT community who served in WWI & II. A memorial fund has been set to raise funds tor Rainbows Across Borders Choir, which he founded to support LGBT Asylum seekers through the ordeal of applying for asylum in the UK. His extraordinary legacy lives on in the rainbow marches of today and tomorrow 🌈
Thankyou NHS & for your donations To make a rainbow you must have rain Must have sunshine, joy and pain Lots of hues and different shades And poof! Like magic, a rainbow's made - Dolly Parton
The rainbow arch has become a symbol of gratitude to the NHS who celebrated their 72nd Birthday with a virtual choir version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I received a lovely thank you card from St George's Hospital Charity for the donations collected via my Honesty Box for the Big People Sunday Sing sessions and other generous singing friends. So far together we've raised over £300 and counting..! 🌈
Daring to dream over the rainbow of a post-lockdown world Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true Gratitude heightens my awareness of what I hold dear. Many of us have experienced significant shifts in our priorities in this time of personal and collective reflection. Two huge examples of the transformation catalysed during this crisis include: The ongoing Black Lives Matter protests are the largest civil rights movement in history, which have spanned all 50 US States and 18 countries, calling on our global community to address systemic racism at all levels of society. Lockdown has brought about a revolution in home working, dramatically reducing transport pollution and increasing quality of life. 74% of hospital doctors and 88% of GPs are in favour of continuing remote appointments, which the Royal College of Medicine predict will continue to form 50% of consultations. A Bright Horizons study of 1500 parents found that only 1:8 want to return to pre-lockdown work and 50% will request flexible working.
We can all, I believe, help create the world of our dreams by asking 🌈 1. What have been our rainbows in the lockdown clouds? 🌈 2. What changes do we want to see in a post lockdown world? 🌈 3. What actions can we take to make these dreams reality?
I'm hopeful there will be some form of return to socially distant singing in the not too distant future.
In the meantime online sessions continue and I'm delighted to be offering two special Summer Schools in Music Theory and Vocal Health & Anatomy - more info below.
Thank you so much for staying tuned during these difficult times. Be well, be safe, breathe deep, sing loudly Lots of love, virtual hugs and good singing vibes
I hope you are keeping safe and well in these intense times - sending oodles of good vibes and singing solidarity from London lockdown.
Thank you so much for being part of my creative community. As I'm reflecting on how best I can serve at this time, I'd just like to warmly invite you to take part in my Love Your Voice Survey as I'd really appreciate your feedback - please click here.
Thank you so much for sharing your time, energy and beautiful voice with me and the world.
Raising Our Voices Against Racism My heart is aching because of the horror we have witnessed in the US and the ongoing horror that is institutionalised racism. A spark of hope is also kindled in my heart by seeing many people around the world from all backgrounds are coming together to raise their voices against racism and affirm that #BlackLivesMatter. I add my voice in solidarity with the global protests at the horrific murder of George Floyd by white policemen and the subsequent treatment of protestors. #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd. I add my voice to call for an end to brutal, institutionalised racism towards the black community worldwide. I add my voice to call for an enquiry into the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities In my Crystal Palace community, I have been proud and honoured to take a peaceful, safe, socially distant stand against racism together with a supportive, relaxed police presence. I know that protesting on the street is only one form of contribution and I honour the many ways we can raise our voices for a better world.
Broken Angels - this song came to me on a walk amongst broken angels in local cemeteries. I've always loved broken sculptures, because they embody the wisdom many sages and artists have reminded us of - it's through our brokenness the love gets through. We are kinder when we remember that everyone is trying to navigate their own brokenness. For we break through when we reach each other across the brokenness - when police and protesters embrace, when loved ones virtually hug on zoom. We can hold each other in our broken angel arms through these heart breaking times.
Be well, be safe, breathe deep, sing loudly Lots of love, virtual hugs and good singing vibes
Beaming Out Love in Fragile Times Beaming out a huge amount of virtual hugs and good singing vibes to you all - hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well. Thank you for staying tuned, whether on email, social media or Zoom - I really appreciate it. We are singing each other through this, one day at a time. Here's some thoughts on how honouring our fragility makes us stronger and helps us stay tuned to what really matters.
Honouring Our Fragility Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong - Julia Cameron This statement by Julia Cameron hit me between the eyes when I first read it many moons ago in The Artists Way. It reveals this incredible paradox, that rather than armouring, denying, resisting, masking or muscling up to our vulnerability, we actually grow stronger when we honour it. When I am willing to face my vulnerabilities, I am more able to connect with inner and outer sources of strength and support - when I acknowledge that I don't understand something, I become more open to learning; when I am willing to discuss issues, challenges and problems, I become more available to finding solutions. Honouring our vulnerability does not mean getting lost in navel gazing - it can actually propel us into active service and empathic connection with others. Acknowledging our shared fragility at this time inspires us to be more caring towards each other - to appreciate and thank our frontline workers and to find new ways of connecting from a distance.
Honouring the Unknown I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat - unknown One of the hardest thing for our minds to cope with is the unknown. In the face of it our minds start inventing and speculating - as we seen in the cacophony of Corona Theories- conspiracy theories, medical and alternative health advice, fake and real news, new age portals, stats, graphs, pass on this virtual hug or die chain mails etc. This is completely understandable, and as it will take time for solutions to emerge, we also need to find ways to allow ourselves to be with the unknown. It can be deeply relieving for our mental health to let go of all the mind babble and just honestly say I don't know, I am taking one day at a time. All the great artists and mystics have taught us that the unknown is the space of creativity, that we find freedom through mystery, in the spaces beyond dogma, analysis, theory and conditioned beliefs. The spark of inspiration is kindled in the space of unknowing, and there is no knowing what will catch light - whether you are cooking dinner, writing a poem, putting a video out on social media, asking someone on a zoom date, it is always a grand experiment with unknown results. The risk and reward of this adventure is that we learn and grow, becoming bigger, wider, deeper, stronger, bolder, through each encounter with the unknown.
Honouring Death There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval - George Santayana Death is the final great unknown, yet it is certain that we will face it - not just our own death, but in many endings, losses and bereavements throughout life. As anyone who has tended a garden knows, nature continually moves through cycles of life, death and rebirth and even the most cursory glance at history demonstrates that human civilisations also rise, fall and renew. Yet western capitalist media makes death taboo and peddles innumerable anti-aging products in an attempt to sell the illusion of eternal youth. This vain denial of death leaves us unprepared - apparently 54% of people in the UK have not made a will. Given that we pack an emergency bag ready before the birth of child, it is strange that so many people do not have their bags are packed ready for their final voyage. Grief is exacerbated when there are regrets, conflicts, unfinished business and things left unsaid, so it is more caring, both to ourselves and those we leave behind, to make our final wishes clear. As this crisis heightens our awareness of mortality, Death Cafes are seeing a huge surge in people needing to talk about death, part of a healthy movement towards being more honest and open about this natural part of existence. It need not be gloomy - I have had very funny, tender conversations with my family about what to do should CV take me off the planet. We can also learn from cultures and spiritual traditions where cultivating an active awareness of death enables us to live more fully in the present moment. Remembering we only have a limited time on earth can inspire us to value our time and those we love, make amends, get our affairs in order and create a loving legacy for those who come after us.
Honouring the Precious Present Helps Build a Better Future 'We've had 5 weeks of not one single use coffee cup going out into Aoterea, that's around 2,800,000 - in NZ alone. What do we want to do now? Do we want to come out differently? Or do we return to using 80,000 bits of avoidable waste every day?' Honouring our fragility enables us to get clearer about what really matters. As societies, we are being forced to reflect, to take a collective pause on how we want to live - both now and in the future. As we realise that decreased pollution and consumption helps planet and people breathe more freely, countries emerging from lockdown are implementing economic and environmental reforms such as increasing cycle lanes and pedestrianised areas. Honouring the precious fragility of life enables us to make the radical changes necessary to preserve life for today and for future generations. As we take one fragile day at a time, we become stronger, resilient, more able to support one another, more available to the preciousness of each moment. We can surrender to being captivated by a flower, a scent, a loved one's smile. Our moments become enriched with the gifts of presence.
Wishing you and yours many beautiful, precious moments of joy, love, creativity and connection in these fragile times.
Be well, be safe, breathe deep, sing loudly - huge amounts of love and good singing vibes.
Fragile Something for a rainy day... 'on and on the rain will say, how fragile we are,' - Sting - dedicated to the fragility in all of us and those facing this crisis where there is no clean water, where there is war, poverty, violence, displacement and homelessness. We grow stronger, clearer, kinder & more in tune with what really matters when we honour the fragile preciousness of life 💦💧
Holding Hope Hope you are safe and well this virtual Easter/ Passover/ Bank Holiday I just wanted to beam out lots of love and say a
HUGE THANKYOU to everyone who has come to sing online and sent donations, messages, jokes, flowers, fruit or stopped for a socially distant chat. My heart goes out to all frontline workers, those who are unwell, those grieving loved ones and those facing this crisis in poverty, war, violence and displacement. I hold hope that in the quiet time we are seeding potential for a huge hug fest and explosion of creativity that could help make our world a more loving, sustainable, fair, caring, beautiful place to be.
How, Where and Why to keep singing during lockdown. Here's some resources to help us keep singing our way through this storm. For the HOW AND WHERE, please check this page on my website and here's the WHY... much of which applies to other forms of creativity.
Staying Connected We may be physically distant but we can stay connected in many virtual ways or via post and telephone. Singing online does have very real limitations - due to delays we can't all hear and sing together. However we can still see and sing along with each other from the safety of our homes - we can wave, whoop, cheer, laugh and make silly sounds together. We can keep growing the supportive ecosystems of our choirs and social groups in new and unusual ways - my choirs have been having online parties and talent shows!
Boosting Wellbeing We are facing a respiratory virus and many of us our now moving around less due to lockdown. So as a gentle form of cardio- vascular exercise which deepens our breath cycle, having a good sing - whether in the shower or with online choir, can really support our wellbeing. A great stress buster, it helps us to blow off steam and express our feelings in a safe, creative way. I've been starting my online sessions with a really good stretch and ending with optional dancing to help keep us all moving.
Being Creative in the Now I used to say to myself, although you're in restricted and limiting circumstances and you've no idea whether you're going to be out tomorrow, whether you're going to be out in 5 years, whether you're going to die in this place, remember one thing, this is your life now, not tomorrow, not yesterday, now. And in this moment, don't be defeated.. I thought those years in captivity were totally wasted. At the time. But looking back, they weren't. Because I was forced there to use my imagination.. I wrote my first book in my head Terry Waite former hostage. Many new forms of creativity are springing up in these times, as we adapt to our new virtual world. We are having to dream up new ways to celebrate birthdays, mark social occasions, educate our children, stay active etc. Singing takes us into the realms of imagination, intuition and dreams - enabling us to refresh tired and worried minds and access sources of rejuvenation and inspiration. Just like other forms of creativity - reading a book, watching a movie - it takes us into creative present moment awareness, giving us fresh perspectives on our lives.
Play! Play, fun, laughter are all great antidotes to stress and anxiety, releasing happy hormones into our systems. We've been enjoying laughing and being silly at online choir sessions which is such good therapy. For a big boost for your joy vitamins, check out my friend Joe Hoare's online Laughter Yoga sessions.
Holding Hope Sure as the wind is blowing and sure as the rain Sure as the sun does shine, we will raise our song again - Libana Singing ultimately keeps our spirits up and helps us remain hopeful amidst lockdown, to affirm that this too shall pass, that we will again hug and sing together and that we will emerge having grown, changed and created new ways of living that will enrich our world.
Wishing you and yours nourishing, playful, restful, creative times during lockdown
Be well, be safe, breathe deep, sing loudly - huge amounts of love and good singing vibes.
#LoveWall by JGoldcrown, Cafe Gratitude, Los Angeles
in Challenging Times
Hope you are safe and well, sending you HUGE VIRTUAL HUGS!!! and so much singing love as we face this global crisis together.
Boosting our creativity during this time of retreat can help build our collective immunity, spreading love and strength. Many of us have been touched and uplifted by seeing videos of our Italian friends singing on their balconies. It affirms the creative power of our hearts and voices to rise to meet challenges, like flowers springing up amidst concrete. Courage comes from the French word for heart Couer and I truly believe we can take heart and find courageous, creative ways through thus storm.
Since all my choirs closed, I have been asking how I can serve at this time and will be sharing online singing, writing and videos to help keep our spirits up. This blog is intended to be a practical resource kit for Courageous Creativity 5 Ways to Manage Fear Wisely 5 Remedies for Wellbeing 5 Ways to Courageous Creativity
5 WAYS TO MANAGE FEAR WISELY I learned that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. - Nelson Mandela
It is absolutely natural and understandable to feel afraid in these uncertain times. Fear is survival response which arises whenever we face a real or perceived threat. We currently face a very real threat to our collective wellbeing which is generating a huge amount of collective fear. What counts is what we do with our fear and how we manage it, so it becomes a useful force rather than a mad debilitating toilet roll buying panic.
1. BREATHE DEEP Breathing deeply resets and calms our nervous system, supports healthy lung function and enables us to face challenges with clarity. Belly Breath - place your hand on your belly and take long soft breaths, feeling the rise and fall of your hand. See how much you can deepen the motion without forcing. Other helpful breathing exercises: 6 Count Breath (breathe in for 6, hold in for 6, breathe out for 6, hold out for 6) Alternate Nostril Breathing, Pursed Lip Breathing and Lions Breath
2. TAKE ACTION Some of our fears are calls to action and need to be attended to. We are being called right now to protect each other by staying home, social distancing and careful hygiene. Do not ignore the message, your fear is real and taking constructive action will relieve it and help keep everyone safe.
3. MOVE Fear is a visceral experience with physiological symptoms - our hearts beat fast and stomachs churn. Physical activity helps discharge and channel it constructively, so get moving with some cooking, cleaning, DIY, a walk, workout, online yoga class (check out Yoga with Adriene) or a wild sing and dance - here's my Dance Like Noone's Watching playlist
4. TAME THE MONKEY MIND There are so many helpful tools to calm an anxious mind including Positive self talk - speak or sing a helpful phrase/ affirmation/ mantra Hypnosis - check out Marisa Peer Meditation - Deepak & Oprah’s Meditation Experience CBT online courses are available via IAPT Gratitude Lists - helps us focus on the good stuff Mind and other Mental Health Charities Less scrolling, more creating - limit your intake of news and social media
5. STAY CONNECTED Remember you are not alone in this - we are all in this together. This crisis is making us all aware of how much we love and value each other and miss our hugs. Social Distancing is making us find creative new ways to share resources and stay in touch. Amidst the chaos and pain, there is a catalytic potential for transformative change of our social structures and lifestyles for more care, peace, love, unity and sustainability.
5 REMEDIES FOR WELLBEING Courage is more exhilarating than fear, and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down. - Eleanor Roosevelt
These remedies can support respiratory health and boost immune response 1. TURMERIC - add to warm water with your choice of lemon juice/ coconut oil/ honey and for the brave hearted cayenne pepper 2. GARLIC IS YOUR FRIEND - finely chop a clove, add to a small amount of water and swig it down like a shot- no smell! Other immune boosters include ginger, vitamin C & D and eating / juicing lots of fresh fruit and veg. 3. STEAM - head under a towel over a bowel of boiling water. 4. SLEEP - use the quiet time to rest and rejuvenate 5. LAUGH - a good belly laugh promotes deep breathing & boosts joy vitamins - so top up on jokes and comedy eg Stay At Home Comedy Festival This was sent to me by a member of my Welcome Choir!
5 PROMPTS FOR COURAGEOUS CREATIVITY Creativity is contagious. Pass it on - Einstein
1. FILL THE CREATIVE CUP We can use this time at home to connect with creative sources of inspiration, learning and self-development though virtual tours, online concerts, books, courses and podcasts. Chatter Pack has a fun list of suggestions, #64MillionArtists are running a 2 Week Create to Connect programme and The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is the absolute classic creative support manual.
2. FIND ONLINE SOLUTIONS Those of us facing daunting restrictions on our work lives are now asking how can we serve and contribute when we are no longer able to hold meetings, events, conferences and groups. There is however so much we can do online: we can learn from leading online entrepreneurs such as Leonie Dawson,Marie Forleo, use online platforms including Zoom, Kajabi and Udemy for courses and meetings, write and publish e-books via Kindle, sell creative products via Etsy, CD Baby or Bandcamp, get hired via Fiverr and set up Facebook/ WhatsApp support groups.
3. NEW CREATIVE OFFERINGS now is the time to be making books, music, artwork, blogs, vlogs, articles, Facebook lives, podcasts, e-courses to help bring beauty, inspiration, insight and growth to the world.
4. CLEAN HOUSE Spring clean and sell stuff on e-bay or clear up outstanding admin, accounting or unresolved issues. Organising for Creatives by Sheila Chandra is a great resource to get your creative house in order.
5. SING! Flexing your vocal muscles and swelling your lungs with song will support your inner and outer resiliency. Choirs are no longer able to meet and sing in person but there are many wonderful online initiatives springing - see below for a list. My choirs have been having fun testing out online sessions and I will be running some workshops for big and little people - more info below.
SHARE THE LOVE This is an unprecedented time of challenge, but we can help each other by sharing the love. Let’s dream up new ways we can live and work together and alchemise this crisis with courageous creativity.
Take care, be well, be safe, breathe deep, sing loudly - huge amounts of love and good singing vibes.
Choirs During Corona All choirs will no longer be meeting in person until it is safe to do so. Members of Welcome Choir, Caterham Community Choir, Lung Songs, Heart Song and ManSong are experimenting with singing online. Online Singing Sessions for Big & Little People Little - Weds 11-11.30am Big - Sundays 2-3pm please click here for a fun invitation