One Day at a Time

Grateful Heart

This Wednesday, I don't want to say much really but just offer you this thought. 

We can go through life feeling that we are owed something, but if we wake up each morning just grateful to be alive that's a good start.

If we go into each day believing that life is beautiful ... that's even better. 

As is the fact that this picture features one of my favourite cartoon dogs - Snoopy. from the Peanuts cartoons/ comic strip!  I wrote about this and the creator Charles M. Schulz  in my daily blog back in February. But in my opinion one can never have enough Snoopy!

Have a great day! 

Begin each day


Hope

Today I'm thinking about Hope!

It's something we all need, especially when things aren't going so well for us or when we are lost, or when we are grieving.

As I explained in Sunday's daily blog, this evening in Jersey there will be a service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving to allow us to celebrate the lives of our loved ones who have died. It'll be a moving hour with some reflective and uplifting music, prayers, thoughts, readings and poems.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, many of us may have lost people, loved ones, and we may not have been able to remember them or say 'farewell' in the way we may have wished because of the lockdown restrictions. But this service is also for us to remember anyone who was and is still important to us ...I've been privileged to produce the hour for Funeral Directors Pitcher and Le Quesne, so I've spent many hours looking at different poems and readings to inspire and comfort those who will be with us this evening.

One of the readings to be included in the service at St Thomas' (Roman Catholic) Church in St Helier is this one ... a profound 'thought' from Henri Nouwen, who was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian who has left us a huge legacy of words.

Nouwen was a complex character and this is traced through some of his writings, and much of what he wrote about - faith, loneliness, self-esteem, acceptance and other personal struggles - helps us to identify with his and our humanity. I find his words and writings inspirational!

This is just one of Nouwen's 'thoughts' and if today you're struggling, for whatever reason, I hope this brings you some hope.

If you are sad - I wish you comfort and hope.

If you are grieving - may hope help you to see beyond the pain.

If you feel you are getting nowhere - may hope enable you to see into a future!

And if you're in Jersey and you wish to join us this evening at St Thomas' at 7pm, you'll be very welcome.

 

Hope Henri Nouwen

 

 


You're a Firework!

Before the coronavirus pandemic locked us all down and locked us all in, before the days of constant news about the 'virus' and testing and tracing and sanitising and physical distancing ... I was for more than a year part of a Community Choir here in Jersey. 

We met every two weeks on a Friday just to sing ... mostly inspirational 'pop' songs and music with a bit of a meaning. It was organised by a few of us at our church - The Salvation Army in Jersey - and it was wondeful.

None of us were particularly expert singers or musicians, including the trio (including me) who led the group, but we had real fun. We did 'sing out' at church services including at Christmastime 2019 just before the pandemic hit, but most importantly, and more important than the music, it was a time to grow friendships and sing. 

We know that singing is good for us, it can lift our spirits and help with stress because it can help control out breathing. And that's why the loss of song and music and performance and choirs, and the communities and friendships they create, were so missed during the lockdowns and the pandemic restrictions. Now here in Jersey, along with other parts of the world which are benefitting from the COVID19 vaccines, we are fortunately able to sing again. 

Tomorrow evening I will be at a thanksgiving service and concert here in Jersey which I've helped to produce - I spoke about that yesterday in this blog - and it will be fabulous to welcome 'live' musicians to perform for us! It's a glimpse of how we might be returning to some sort of 'normal', although at the service we will be remembering those who have lost their lives and for whom that 'new normal' will never come.

We haven't started our Community Choir again, but who knows?

However today I want to share with you one of the songs we loved singing. It's a song by the American singer and pop sensation Katy Perry, who's birthday it is today, and it's called 'Firework'.


Katy Perry - FireworkThe words are so inspiring and challenging and for any of us who've often felt 'invisible' or worthless or vulnerable, there's a real message of hope here.

I particularly like the line :

Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road

Sometimes it feels like we're getting nowhere in life, that all the doors are closing on us and we're not getting any of our dreams or even wishes. Nothing seems to work for us, we feel abandoned and without hope.

But remember - you are a firework. I'm a firework and we can shine!

I just need to believe more ... believe in myself more, maybe ... and Ignite the Light inside and let it shine. Breathe in, be courageous, regain my confidence, show the world who I am.

Don't listen to the criticism. Forget the nay-sayers and those who would put us down! We are  worthy, we are valuable,  we are precious!

Let's Fly High!

This song, we discovered when we sang it in our Community Choir, meant different things to different people. It's got the knack of touching hearts.

So .. thank you Katy ... and Happy Birthday!

 
Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind
Wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper-thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under screams but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there's still a chance for you
'Cause there's a spark in you?

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

'Cause, baby, you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colours burst
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe

You don't have to feel like a wasted space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt your heart will glow
And when it's time you'll know

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

'Cause, baby, you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It's always been inside of you, you, you
And now it's time to let it through,  

'Cause, baby, you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colours burst
Make 'em go, "Ah, ah, ah"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

 

 


The Road Home

Next Tuesday - October 26th - at St Thomas' Roman Catholic Church in Jersey there will be a very special event.

It's a Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving, and it's an opportunity for all of us to remember those who have died and who meant something special to us and to celebrate their lives.

The service has been organised by a local Funeral Directors - Pitcher and Le Quesne - who have held similar events before, but of course in the past couple of years that's been impossible because of the COVID19  restrictions.

We know that since the pandemic began, so many of us have been unable to to remember loved ones in the way we may have wanted. Either we've had limited opportunities to say a proper 'farewell' or we've been unable to travel to pay our respects and to grieve with families members and friends. So next Tuesday is an opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for the lives that meant, and still mean, so much to us.

But the service is not just for folk who've lost someone in the pandemic ... it's open to everyone who wants to keep alive the memories of their dear ones, even if they passed away years ago.

PLQ-remembrance-facebook (2)The evening, which starts at 7pm, will be just an hour of poems, readings, prayers, music and ... we hope ... smiles along with the sadness.

Church and faith leaders will play their part, and we'll have the magnificent Malcolm L'Amy on the organ at St Thomas' ... which is in Val Plaisant in St Helier (if you don't know it ... it's the big Catholic Church!) 

But we'll also be joined by some amazing singers. 

Georgi Mottram is a Jersey-born soprano. She's already a Classic Brit Award Nominee who’s debut single shot to No.1 in the iTunes Official Classical Charts in May 2021. Georgi is a very special talent and we're so thrilled she'll be joining us.

The Aureole Choir will also be part of the evening. The choir (founder and director Nicki Kennedy) was set up during the early stages of lockdown in early 2020 to give people who love singing a chance to celebrate their love for music. They initially met online and recorded music to raise money for local charities but now have over 100 members of all ages who meet regularly to sing, have fun and fundraise. They also run weekly ‘sing-alongs’ (with requests) to boost morale among those living alone and in Jersey’s care homes. They're a great bunch of people, so talented and so committed!

Next Tuesday will be an evening, as I said, which will be reflective, but it will also be filled, we trust, with smiles and hope!

During and after the service there will be an opportunity to remember loved ones and leave messages in a ‘memorial garden' at the back of church and those who wish to do so are also invited to give a donation to the Royal British Legion Jersey Poppy Appeal. That appeal actually starts next week!

Now you might be wondering why I know so much about this?

Well, it's because I've been working on this for months with the managing director of Pitcher and Le Quesne, Paul Battrick, and St Thomas' Church ... helping to communicate, finding the artists and speakers, sourcing the poems and prayers etc and getting involved in a little bit of PR as well.

I have to say, it's one of the best 'jobs' I've had for a very long time. It feels like we are doing something which will make a big difference to people and maybe bring help and comfort in their sorrow and grief.  But hopefully it will also just be a general uplifting hour! It's made me really happy to be involved, but also it's given me much time for reflection myself, and moments when I've been moved by words and music and remembered MY loved ones, including my darling Dad, who have 'gone before'.

If you are in Jersey on Tuesday, we would love to see you! If you are not here in the island, please pray for us, that people will come and be blessed. It's a big church and we'd love to see many people... and we hope it will bless us all.

So, on this Sunday, to bring you all into the circle of love we hope will surround us on Tuesday evening, please click on the link below to see/hear a presentation that will be part of the Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving.

It will be the first of two musical offerings from the Aureole Choir  and it's actually one of the first projects they produced when Jersey was in lockdown in Spring 2020. The song and video (which is on YouTube as well as the Aureole Music website) raised money for local charities, and it brought music into our lives at a time when choirs could not meet, we could not sing even in church (and anyway churches were closed)  and we felt so bereft of the joys of music and performance.

Enjoy the beautiful Jersey landscapes and seascapes and images and people, and the even more beautifully talented islanders who joined together for this very special project.

See you on Tuesday! 

 

 


Give Thanks

Spiritual thoughts come from many different directions, and I think this year so far I've turned to a few in this daily blog. 

Today I turn to the wisdom of a man called Tecumseh who lived in the late 18th and early 19th century in what is now 'America'.

He was a chief of the Shawnee tribe and a warrior who resisted the expansion of the United States onto Native American lands. He wanted to draw  the different tribes to his cause so he travelled widely trying to encourage different indigenous peoples to support the resistance to the expansion of the 'incomers' who were determined to take over their lands. This resulted in a Native American confederacy and although his efforts to unite Native Americans ended with his death in the War of 1812, his legacy did not die with him. Tecumseh has become an iconic folk hero in American, Indigenous, and Canadian popular history.

Native Americans were and are a very spiritual people, with a culture, philosophy and spirituality close to the land and nature, animals and the universe, and although Tecumseh and his peoples lived so long ago and in very different times, some of the thoughts that have been handed down through the centuries are profound and are really pertinent to our circumstances today. They go to the heart of what it is to be 'human' and that is so thought-provoking.

So, for this Saturday, here's one of those wise Native American thoughts ... attributed to Tecumseh himself.

Once you've asked yourself these challenging questions ... Have a happy day !

Saturday thanks


Wise Words on a Friday

Rather than me rattling on today, here's a profound thought for a Friday from someone much wiser than me.

The current and 14th Dalai Lama - the title is one that is bestowed by the Tibetan people to the leading spiritual leader of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, which I read is the  the newest and most dominant of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. And he's also one of the wisest people around.

Yes I know this is a bit deep for a Friday but we have the weekend to reflect on it and think about what it means for us.

I've read it quite a few times and every time I do I see something new in the wisdom.

Hope you find it helpful. 

Have a good day everyone!


Dalai Lama quote

 


Six Little Words

If  you had six words to describe what's going on in your life ... what would they be?

'Quite busy, feeling a little overwhelmed' - that applies to me quite often at the moment.

'Always hopeful, or trying to be' - that's something I try to remember when I'm feeling swamped by the trials of life.

Play the game ... it's fun!

It can also be a bit challenging because choosing those words means you really have to dig deep into your emotions and be honest with yourself. Sometimes we just have to take one step at a time, one day at a time, and try not to get buried under the stresses of now and the pressures and prospects of what is to come.

For starters, I think I'm going to reflect on this thought and be reminded that today  ...

Whatever Happens ... I Can Handle It!

Thankful Thursday


Beautiful Wednesday

Midway through a busy week, if we can let's take a moment to just stop and breathe and think.

If you're the praying type, maybe pray as well.

Forget the stress for a moment or two, put aside your 'to do' list and all the challenges you think you are facing.

Let's just close our eyes and forget all the distractions.

Maybe reflect on this thought!

And have a wonderful day!

Beautiful Wednesday


Land of Hope ... and Glory

There are some pieces of music which are iconic, and for me that includes not just rock and pop but also the occasional piece of 'classical' music.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a classical buff ... I don't listen to a lot of what might be described as 'classical'  music, but I do enjoy the occasional iconic tune.

So I was interested when I discovered that On this Day - October 19th - in the year 1901, a piece of music which would become one of the most well-known in Great Britain at least, was performed in public for the first time.

The Pomp & Circumstance March No 1 is perhaps best known because it includes the tune which is the song Land of Hope and Glory. which is especially well known in the UK because it's a highlight of 'The Proms'. otherwise known as the 'BBC Proms' because the series of mostly classical concerts are shared with the world by that broadcaster. The march and the tune is traditionally also an integral part of the Last Night  of the Proms concert.

Edward elgarThis iconic piece of music is the creation of Sir Edward Elgar and many of his works are part of the British and international classical concert repertoire. Apart from the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, another of his best-known orchestral compositions and works is another favourite of mine -  the Enigma Variations - but he's also well known for concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. Elgar also composed choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius, chamber music and songs.

Elgar is often regarded as a typically 'English' composer but the most interesting thing I've learned about him is that his musical influences came not from Britain but from continental Europe. He also felt like an outsider including musically - this was a time when music was dominated pretty much by academics and Elgar was a self-taught composer. Now THAT'S astonishing!

Socially Elgar also felt out of place.  He was a Roman Catholic in a largely Protestant Britain, and as a result some people were suspicious of him. He was from humble origins but lived in a very class conscious society in Victorian and then Edwardian Britain. He apparently was sensitive about his beginnings even after he gained recognition.

And another interesting point about Elgar - his major success didn't come until he was in his 40's ... 

That's encouraging I think ... it's never too late!

Just a note about the Pomp And Circumstance Marches - full title Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches. Although No. 1 In D and March No. 2 premiered today in 1901, actually they are a series of five (or six) marches for orchestra. The first four were published between 1901 and 1907, when Elgar was in his forties, but the fifth was published in 1930, a few years before his death and a sixth march was compiled after his death, from unpublished sketches. This was published in 1956 and in 2005–2006.

But back to Marches No 1 and 2. Both compositions were played two days after the premiere in Liverpool, at a Promenade Concert - a 'Prom'  - in the Queen's Hall in London. It was  conducted by Sir Henry Wood, who is synonymous with the annual promenade concerts. Wood actually conducted The Proms for nearly half a century and introduced  hundreds of new works to British audiences, and after his death in 1944 the concerts were officially renamed in his honour as the "Henry Wood Promenade Concerts".  In 1901 he conducted Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1  second, after March No 2, and Wood later recalled that the audience  "...rose and yelled... the one and only time in the history of the Promenade concerts that an orchestral item was accorded a double encore." (Henry Wood, My Life of Music p. 154)

And a final point before I leave you and you can enjoy this presentation of the iconic piece ...  The piece now known as Land of Hope and Glory in its original form was just a tune.

It was a big hit, including with the new British monarch - King Edward VII - who happened to mention to Elgar that he thought his March No 1 tune would make a great song. So when the composer was asked  to write a work for the King's coronation, he worked the suggestion into his Coronation Ode, with words written  by the poet and essayist A. C. Benson. Unfortunately the coronation was postponed because the king was unwell, so Elgar created a separate song, which was first performed by Madame Clara Butt in June 1902. And part of that original work - the first of the seven stanzas of the Ode's original final section - is now a feature of the Last Night of the Proms, and has become an English sporting anthem and a  general patriotic song.

Final thoughts on all this - apart from the fact that some people are just brilliant Elgar teaches me that sometimes we have to wait for things to happen for us. And sometimes what we create turns into something more wonderful than we might ever have imagined or dreamed.

How wonderful!

 

 


Do Something

At the start of a new week, let's take a moment to think of the days ahead.

We have no idea what will come, or how the days will pan out for us.  

But even if we can't determine what will happen to us, there is one thing we can control ... and that's our own behaviour. 

I love this thought for a Monday ... and I don't know about you, but I think it's a great way to start the week.

Let's not spend our days feeling angry, or bitter, jealous, or sad about things we can't control.  Let's not dwell on the things we don't have or the opportunities that have not come our way.

Instead, let's do things that we're proud of. Let's be kind to each other. Let's reach out a helping hand to another. Let's find the positive in all things, where possible. Let's be grateful for what we have rather than being resentful that we have not been given things that we think are owed us, or that we see others enjoying.

Reaching out to others, being that 'friend' and going out of our way to make a difference in our world - maybe that's what we need to aspire to this week.

A positive mindset won't just help others, it will have an impact on our own wellbeing and that has to be something to be thankful for! 

Have a great week everyone!

 

Monday Future Self