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It’s been a rough couple of days with Little One.  All kinds of reasons, including the snow which we had all eagerly anticipated – yet completely unsettled her.  Snow is a very rare thing in Devon… My rosy image of a family snow-day met with the reality of both of us parents trying to squeeze in working from home while helping Little One understand a totally unpredictable day.  There have been a lot of tantrums.

A moment of joy teaching Eldest to snowboard in the park was cut short by the embarrassment of Little One lying on her back in the snow screaming because it wasn’t her turn.

Tonight I needed to revisit my Sigur Ros Heima DVD.  I needed the bittersweet harmonies and the simple beauty of four musicians totally in step with one another.

Memories flood in when I watch Heima.  Summer 2008 at Greenbelt open-air cinema,  Eldest asleep in a warm bundle of blankets on my knee.  Brandy hot chocolate, and fresh doughnuts as we watched the Icelandic community come together through music.  Feeling overwhelmed with love as I cradled my daughter and rested in my husband’s arms.

Still raw from leaving the church, yet feeling flutters of hope that something like Heima (‘Home’ in English) was what Church could look like outside the walls.  The scene filmed at Gamla Borg  still makes me cry – the simplicity of young and old gathered to share food and be immersed in music.

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An Inclusive Nativity

This is my dream

Angels with Asperger’s flap their hands

The audience hang on the words of stammering staccato narrators

Gabriel’s port-wine stained face is radiant with joy

The troublesome Holy Couple lay their babe tenderly in the straw

And we feel As One.

nativity

I know I’m not going to be alone in the community of special needs parents who feel a little heartbroken during these last weeks of term.  The empty school tray at Christmas Post collection time.  The Christmas cards that perhaps can’t be written independently.

I can’t help but feel that the nativity play could be such an opportunity to model to our children than no-one needs to be marginalised.  After all, isn’t that what the humility of the stable points to?  Kings and shepherds, Gold and sheep.  All are welcome.

I’m writing while it’s still raw.  I left the school hall having watched my last ever nativity play tonight. Only that wasn’t the reason for the tears.

Little One was a sheep, slender bare feet peeping out from her black leggings.  They’d lost her sheep headband that she had made at school.  She hadn’t been able to tell us that we were supposed to make her another one at home.

She is positioned by the door, TA close to hand.  We strain to see her enjoying the songs she’s been singing in random lines over the dinner table or in the car.  Her moment… up onto the stage, we try to catch her eye.  The Year 1 sheep come to the front for a song, but the Year 2 sheep don’t join them.  She sits beautifully, arms crossed, back upright.  Glancing up at the stars above her, awaiting the cue.  She has a chance to ‘baa’, sitting dutifully with her shepherds.  Time for the next number, she leaves the stage.

There are parents of other sheep out there tonight.  Little One wasn’t the only sheep singled out to miss an opportunity to sing or dance on stage.  But in this last year she’s learned so much and is able to be part of a performance, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other children, to remember a few of the words.

It would have been so precious to us if she had been given the chance to “access the curriculum” in this – an area where she has strengths and abilities.  Love of music, intrinsic rhythm and the biggest smile you have ever seen on a sheep.

I’m keeping my dream.

 

 

 

 

 

January sings the blues

This is a song for anyone with a broken heart
This is a song for anyone who can’t get out of bed
Or do anything to be happy
Oh, ’cause blue skies are coming
But I know that it’s hard

Noah and the Whale

Last January I wondered if I would ever feel able to get out of bed and face the real world. This January possibility lies ahead of me.  Blue skies did return.  I have so many ideas and things to enjoy that I can easily fill life until it’s bursting at the seams.  In the stillness I find myself aware though that the time may come again when it feels like I can’t do anything to be happy.

Music and song lyrics often rise up to speak to me about my recovery.  I have this idea for a Spotify playlist that I can create now with a relapse in mind.  Songs about how it’s worth it to hold on, about the tenacity of love, about loss.  Here’s one of my current favourites –

Life can weigh you down like a stone.
It can bend you, break you,
Leave you skin and bones.
It’s a long winding road,
You don’t have to walk it alone.

Baby, hold on to me,
Tighter than your sweetest memory, of you and me.
When you’re looking for an open door,
But it seems so out of reach.
Baby, hold on to me, on to me.

Connie Britton, Nashville Cast

I’d love to hear fellow travellers’ songs for the journey, post them in the comments below and I’ll let you know how my playlist goes.

Turn on, tune in, drop out

Music is becoming an increasingly important part of my gap year preparations.  In the transition from CDs to streaming and Spotify, I’d kind of forgotten how much I enjoy pottering around the house with music on and how relaxing it is to cook or do the packed lunches with some tunes.  I’d also forgotten how much I love to sing.  Last night I took to the mic for the first time in about ten years, and sang some folk songs with Gallant Grandpa at Boston Tea Party’s Play On.  It was great to sing about feisty young women of the 17th century, and I tested out my red lippy again which was fun.  It definitely is like putting on an instant slick of confidence (thank you YSL!)

Going to see live music was a massive part of my teenage years in Leeds, and I had the privilege of seeing both Madonna and U2 outdoors at Roundhay Park.  I now have two live music events to look forward to in the gap year – The Dixie Chicks at the O2 next year and Farmfest in August.  After singing last night, GH and I watched a brilliant BBC documentary about the evolution of music festivals and it really inspired me about the heady mix of hope, politics, fields, music and dancing (Bad Brain means no recreational drugs on my menu!)

For the last few months I’ve been challenging my vocal cords and sight-reading skills in a local jazz choir, Harmoni.  It’s so much fun practising discordant harmonies and lots of “doo-be-doos” as we work through the arrangements together.  I’ll be getting out that red lippy again for our performance at the local community centre in July.  Using the musical side of my brain is so relaxing and such an antidote to busy days of writing as I finish my contract with Action on Postpartum Psychosis.  If music be the food of love, let’s play on.