"If there's music inside of you, you've got to let it out." (From my song, Music Inside of Me)

Hi! I'm Trudy Rushin, and this is my blog, created in June 2009. I am a singer-songwriter-composer who plays guitar. Born and bred in Cape Town, South Africa, I blog about whatever captures my imagination or moves me. Sometimes I even come up with what I like to call 'the Rushin Solution'. Enjoy my random rantings. Comment, if you like,
or find me on Facebook: Trudy Rushin, Singer-Songwriter.

I also do gigs - solo, duo or trio - so if you're looking for vocal-guitar jazz music to add a sprinkle of magic to your event, send me an e-mail to guitartrudy@gmail.com.

To listen to me singing one or two of my original songs, type my name on www.soundcloud.com or www.youtube.com


















Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Goodbye to a matriarch


Three days ago, the oldest member of my extended family passed away. My mother’s eldest sister, Aunty Helen, passed on to the next realm on 9 June, at the age of 90. Three weeks earlier, we’d all got together to celebrate her milestone birthday. My aunt leaves behind four children, four grandchildren, and two greatgrandchildren. No matter how old you are when you lose a parent, and no matter the parent’s age, it’s a devastation like no other. I feel so sad for my cousins, Jenny, Pam, Pat and Andy Wrankmore.

In recent years, Aunty Helen’s health deteriorated, and she became like a different person. Unlike the chatterbox I’d known her to be throughout my life, she became very quiet. You could see she loved being around the family, but her days of actively participating were over, as she silently watched and listened to everything around her. 

In the 1970s, my aunt played a big role in our lives, when she gave us accommodation, in the garage of their Bo Kaap home, for almost four of my high school years. We had electricity, but no running water, so we shared their bathroom. My mom used wardrobes to divide the space into a bedroom and a kitchen, and we used a plastic basin for washing up. And that’s where we stayed, until my mom could afford to rent a place somewhere else. I remember how excited my sister and I were to have a bedroom! That was in Std 9. We moved twice that year, because the first landlord was a con artist: we stayed in his place, in Wetton, without electricity and water for three months, before my mom accepted that he’d had no intention of honouring his word! People can be really despicable!

I didn’t realise it at the time, but my aunt and her family helped us through one of the toughest times our family had experienced.  The interesting thing was, because my mom was such a nothing’s-gonna-get-me-down kind of person, it always felt like an adventure to me, at best, but at other times, just normal.

While we lived there, the cousins who were still in the family home became like siblings to us, and up to today, that’s a bond that can’t be broken. My cousin Andy will always feel like a brother to me; we’re the same age, and he always made me laugh with his slapstick sense of humour.  My cousin Pat, was like another big sister. Even though she’s just five years my senior, I remember hanging around her, watching her get ready to go out, putting on make-up and getting all dressed up. She was a primary school teacher, and she often brought marking home. She had cool friends who were all young teachers, and I remember wanting to be just like them. 

Three weeks ago, when we all gathered to celebrate Aunty Helen’s life, two of her daughters made speeches, sharing the complex emotions they felt whenever they visited their mom at the nursing home. My cousin Pam said, “’The most important thing is, even though Mom doesn’t know who we are, we know who she is.”

As my own mom, aged 88, loses her bearings in the blur of Alzheimer’s, those are words of wisdom on which I should anchor myself.     

    Standing, L-R: Wendy (my sis), me and Aunty Helen. Seated is my mom. Christmas Day 2010.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Reflecting, on sick leave (flu)

Last week, my throat started feeling scratchy, and I worried about my singing engagement on Wednesday night.  I’d been practising my songs without amplification for about a week, but on the day of the event, I had a run-through with the P.A. system at home. I knew that, with a good sound system, I could pull off my 20-minute solo set. Without one, I wasn’t sure if I’d be audible. 


Despite a power failure at the venue earlier in the evening (construction workers had severed a cable), the electricity was restored in time, and all went well. Except that it was a smoking venue – something one rarely finds in Cape Town, these days. Or rather, something I don’t often encounter, because I’m not a night-spot person. I suspect that those venues where people do smoke, are actually breaking the law. But, whatever.

For me, personally, it had a disastrous impact. I got to the venue just before 7pm and left after 11pm, so for about 4 hours I was inhaling second-hand smoke. A recipe for disaster, even had I not had a sore throat.  The last time this happened was about two years ago, and I was so badly affected, I ended up at a specialist to have my vocal cords examined. Fortunately, the sound man knew his stuff, the audience was receptive, and everyone's performance went well.

                     With Gail Van Breda and Blaq Pearl, who performed their poetry on 23 May.

On Friday I was coughing and had a huge headache, on Saturday I felt worse and drove to the pharmacy to buy meds, hoping that self-medicating would solve the problem. It’s hard to tell when something’s a mild, passing infection that you can clear up on your own (and not have to miss work!) or if it’s more serious. Working in a huge, open-plan office, I pick up the mild, passing types of infections regularly, and self-medicate my way through them. I also eat healthily and have a daily vitamin regimen, which definitely help.

Yesterday morning, I woke up with no voice - always a scary experience for me. I kept taking the meds, and by late morning I had a kind of creepy voice. I was feeling sore all over, I had a weird cough that caused my throat and chest to burn, and all I wanted was to get back into bed.

But life doesn’t always give one those breaks - especially as a single parent. Sundays are the days I do my laundry, and we normally do some grocery shopping as well. It was ‘’Pay Day weekend”, so we needed to do a fairly big shop. I did my laundry, we did the shopping, I cooked food, made soup, etc. and all the time I felt terrible. What’s worse is, with the drought we’re experiencing, you can’t just switch on your washing machine and let it go through all three cycles – you have to stop it after the wash, collect the water, spin; stop it after the rinse, collect the water, spin. Only then can you take the washing out to hang it up.  

My energy was low and I felt like keeling over, so I selected clothes for just two loads, and did those. Another thing we do, a la the drought, is refill the toilet cistern with used water. So every time you flush the loo, you have to physically lift a bucket of water and pour it into the cistern. It’s exhausting, and even worse when you’re feeling sick.

By last night, I knew I had the flu and that I needed to see a doctor. As soon as I woke up today, I went online and made an appointment with my GP.  Later this morning, I’m off to the appointment. And then it’s into bed for most of the day. The crap thing is, this evening I have to get out of bed, and drive 22km to fetch my daughter at college. I’ll wrap up warmly, like I did this morning.  

On the bright side, yesterday was my fortnightly Weigh Day (end of week 20), and I’d lost another 0,4kg, bringing my total weight loss to 11,9kg. I have another 3,8kg to go, to reach my goal weight of 69kg. By that time, I will have to buy myself a new wardrobe. How exciting?! I currently have three pairs of pants that fit me, and I wear them all the time. Yes, I could wear my big pants with belts, but I’d look like Whoozy. Besides, I hate that feeling of my pants walking next to me!  

Feeling really bogged down by how expensive life is. I keep saying, even if your salary stays the same for a few years, you’re effectively earning less, because life just gets more and more expensive: electricity, water, groceries, petrol….. Oy!!!  I budget carefully every month, because I am the sole provider for my daughter and myself, but it freaks me out how everyday eventualities impact on one’s already-strained resources. Even being sick can be very expensive! My Saturday trip to the pharmacy cost me money I had not budgeted for, and driving my daughter to and from college, when I don't go to work, doubles the number of trips to town. These things all cost money and place further stress on one. 

In a month that I don’t have my regular weekly gig (restaurant closes for Ramadaan), I really feel the impact. Even though music is my passion, it’s also my source of additional income. I pray to get well soon, and to score a couple of paid gigs in June.  

And with that, it’s started raining. Welcome rain in our drought-stricken province. Thank you!!!



Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Moving at work


I started my current job in March 2016, and for one and a half years, was based in town. Things changed, and I was moved to our office in Claremont, which was half of the distance to town, resulting in a huge saving on fuel.

 When I returned to work after the December break, I was informed that I was heading back to town. and on 16 January this year, I went back to working at the original office. I loved it, I liked the spot I was given, I revelled in the natural light, the space around me, and the spectacular views from our 10th floor open plan office. I realised when I got back there, just how distracted I’d been in the previous office, with everyone sitting relatively close. No privacy whatsoever. Everyone heard everyone’s phone calls. It takes some getting used to.

But, with the only constant in life being change, tomorrow I move again – this time, it’s the same floor, in the same building, just on the other side.  

Now, for some people, a move is no big deal, but for sensitive people, everything affects one – particularly the number and proximity of people in a shared space.  Hectic! What can I do? In our country, with such high unemployment stats, I’m lucky to be employed, and I’m even luckier that it’s in a good company, in the one area of the corporate world where I don’t feel like a misfit – philanthropy. 

So I’ll have to get used to being surrounded by many more people, in a much tighter space, with limited natural light and a view of a wall and other desks, as opposed to the harbour. 

I’ve found that the way I handle change has a lot to do with how involved I was in the decision-making process. Changes that I have to make that are decided for me are much harder to adapt to than changes I decide on for/by myself.  

Whichever way you look at it, every day brings a new set of possibilities.    

                         This is the view I say goodbye to, tomorrow. Isn't it spectacular?!

Monday, 14 May 2018

Dry eyes


Another limited-time blog post, with the timer set for 30 minutes, but this time I have something to get off my chest.

DON’T READ THIS IF YOU THINK THAT PEOPLE WHO RECOUNT PAST HURT ARE WALLOWING IN IT! (I’M SERIOUS.)

A few years ago, I was taking minutes in a staff meeting. We were a team of seven, including the manager, and I can’t remember the specifics, but there was a lot of tension in the room that day. That was not unusual. Before I knew it, one person had raised her voice at one of the others, and he'd responded by shouting back at her. They kept on shouting, each one trying to be louder than the other, and it was terrible to be in the presence of such destructive energy! 

I kept my eyes on the page in front of me, not wanting to look up at anyone, because that would’ve made it more real. I noticed there were drops of water falling onto the page, and it was only then that I realised I was crying. 

I had two main streams of thought at the time: one was wondering how they could ever hope to regain a normal relationship afterwards, and the other was a lot of memories flying around erratically, of times in my life when I’d been shouted at, how horrible it had been, and how I’d had to either shout back or shrink back.  

What happened today was not as bad. Or was it? There were no tears, but we all know that emotional pain often stares at the world through dry eyes.

So what I’d like to do now, as part of how I choose to deal with this, is write a list of 20 things that make me happy:
1.       Having space and time to myself
2.       Hanging out with my special people
3.       Singing and playing my guitar
4.       Writing
5.       Coming up with new ideas & excitedly implementing them
6.       Listening to good, live music
7.       Enjoying a delicious, healthy meal
8.       Reading a book that inspires me
9.       Spending time with my inspiring friends
10.   Watching a good movie
11.   Waking up without an alarm
12.   Fresh bedding
13.   Enjoying a good laugh with others
14.   Walking in nature
15.   Playing my original songs to a listening audience
16.   Making music with people who ‘get’ me
17.   Homemade peanut butter-and-banana smoothie
18.   Teaching someone to play the guitar
19.   Reconnecting with a good friend after a long time & feeling that same good energy as       before
20.   Travelling to other countries

 Ok, I had to snooze the alarm twice, but at least I’m getting to fit some writing into my busy, demanding days.

I thought of something, recently: I’m always referring to what life demands of me, but what exactly do I demand of life?  





Sunday, 13 May 2018

20-Minute Dash


I’ve set the timer for 20 minutes, and that’s all I’m going to do – 20 minutes of random writing.
Today was a very productive day. I told myself I’d be up before 8am, and I was. I told myself I’d be in bed by 10:30pm, and I was. Between those hours I was hellishly busy, but now I’m winding down, by writing in bed.

It’s funny, this urge to write. Sometimes, there’s a particular thing I want to write about, but tonight’s not one of those – I just feel like ending my day, rounding off my weekend, by writing.

Today I made my first pot of soup for this winter, and I haven’t even had a bowl yet. I also made dahl curry, which I definitely ate. I also made time to cook something for tomorrow’s lunch, for my daughter and me. Now that we don’t eat bread, I generally take some kind of protein and a salad, some fresh fruit, and some nuts and seeds. Everything’s ready for me to just pack into my lunch bag tomorrow morning.

Today marked the end of Week 18 of healthy eating, so it was also ‘’Weigh Day’’. Although my weight loss is slowing down, I’m still losing, so my focus and discipline are paying off. I managed to lose half a kilo in the last fortnight, and I’m more motivated than ever. I started out at 84,7kg (8 January) and I’m down to 73,2kg, having lost a total of 11,5kg. I am 4,2kg from my goal. 

I have also started re-reading The Artist’s Way (by Julia Cameron). I’m feeling so good about having changed my eating habits, that I’m ready for my next big challenge.

Hmmmm….. I wonder what it will be?

In closing, I want to say that I have a few friends whom I don’t see often, but when we do connect, they tell me they read my blog. Sometimes I even get asked why I take so long between blog posts, and told that it’s time for the next one! Haha! 

I’m happy that people read my blog. Sometimes I actually have something to write about. 😊

The interesting thing is, I started this blog in 2009, and I have only 16 followers. 😊 Fortunately, I’m able to check the stats, and am satisfied that many more than 16 people read my posts.

Ok, so that’s it. Nothing major, but I did say it would be just a random 20-minute post.

Can you guess what that next challenge will be that I’ll tackle while  going through my second journey through The Artist’s Way? 😉

           Today was Day 196 of writing Daily Pages, a habit that gives me great balance & focus.  

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Dancing & Statistics


Dancing

I’ve just finished a 50-minute dance session. This is about 5 – 10 minutes longer than usual, but I was having such fun, I couldn’t stop.

I recently told someone that I danced, and she asked if I did spiritual dancing. (This is how people perceive me?!) I wanted to get all word-nerdy and philosophical, and say that the dancing I did was indeed deeply spiritual, but I knew what she meant, so I behaved myself and answered appropriately, like a good girl. 😊 

So what kind of dancing do I do, and why dance at all? Basically, I have a playlist of old-school songs that make you want to move your body, and I do whatever comes to mind, for anything from 30 – 45 minutes. I put on my exercise clothes, let my earphones connect my phone to my ears,  put the phone into a moonbag around my waist, dim the lights in my bedroom, and off I go. I try for every second day, but life has a way of knocking the routine out of me, and sometimes I have to skip more than one day. So now the goal is three times a week. I’ve always loved dancing - I love the absolute abandonment of moving my body to music, and it serves the purpose of keeping me in regular exercise at a time of my life that I don’t have either the time or the money to go to gym. Besides all of that, I spend most of my life craving two things – music, and solitude – and dancing at home feeds my soul with both. With the music right inside my ears, I hear every drumbeat, every instrument, every pause, every nuance and every breath of the vocalist, and I allow all of that to pulsate through my body and transport me into a world I wish I could inhabit every second of my life. The fact that I’m getting fitter by doing this is a beautiful bonus. I like the fact that I’m not competing with anybody and that I don’t have to be instructed by anyone, nor do I have to get done quickly because someone else needs the space. No – it’s a blissful, controlled environment, and it’s my escape.  I love it.

The truth is, I dance to release energy. I had a really crap day today, and the residue threatened to stay with me throughout the night and wake up with me tomorrow. I really didn’t want that. I’d skipped last night, and I really needed to dance tonight. One of the most beautiful things about dancing (I know I’ve written about this before) is that it makes me smile.  It makes me so happy, I burst into smiles and can’t stop. I think if you have that kind of experience on a regular basis, a smile is never far from your face. I know - I’m such a nerd.   

I’ve also danced when I’ve been deliriously happy, as well as abysmally sad. I’ve found my peace in dancing on many occasions when people have hurt or deceived me. My two favourite ways of processing my emotions are writing and dancing. On days like today, when I allow myself the time to do both, no matter what else has happened, I know I’m looking after myself properly.

Statistics

One of the things I’ve struggled with throughout my life, has been acknowledging my strengths and successes, and I know I’m part of a string of generations of people trapped this way. In fact, I’d got into the habit of saying self-deprecating things that simply reinforced my belief that, that while I was good at starting things, I wasn’t very good at seeing them through. However, as I exposed myself to different ways of thinking, I learnt to allow my journalling habit to show me what I had in fact achieved. I also learnt that sharing your successes can spur someone else into action, and have a positive impact on that person’s life. I am deeply inspired by different people in my life, and I hope to be an inspiration to others, as well.

So, here are some statistics I’m proud of:
1.       Today is Day 101 of healthy eating. (And I’ve lost 11,1kg so far, simply through making better choices.)
2.       Today is Day 1085 of my dancing journey. While I haven’t danced every day, and have had some long gaps, I’ve never given up.  Dancing is part of me now.
3.       Today is Day 171 of writing Daily Pages (learnt from the book, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron)
4.       Music stats:
-          Started playing guitar 40 yrs ago (1978)
-          First big public performance of my originals, 20 yrs ago (1998 – one set at the V&A Jazzathon)
-          Formed duo with Keith Tabisher 15 years ago (2003)
-          Formed duo with Wayne Bosch 9 years ago (2009)
-          First studio recording of originals, 21 years ago (1997, The London Connection)
-          First original song on internet, 7 years ago (2011, I’m So Happy Today - soundcloud)
-          First original video on internet, 3 years ago (2015, In the Shade of Table Mountain - youtube)
-          Number of original concerts so far (since 2005): 15
-          Duration of current solo restaurant gig: 3 years and 3 months

The point is, we sometimes think we’re not good at sticking with things, but when we actually take the time to reflect and write things down, we might be surprised at what we’ve actually stuck with, and - more importantly - what it reveals about why we’re prepared to give each new day the benefit of the doubt.  

                              Breathtaking sunset view from the office, one day this month. 

Friday, 6 April 2018

Sekunjalo Delft Big Band - A personal reflection


Just over two years ago, I left a permanent lecturing post, to take up my new position as Project Coordinator of The Delft Big Band. My role also included working on other projects supported by Survé Philanthropies, like World’s Children’s Prize and Sekunjalo Edujazz.

It took me a while to get to know all the band members’ names, let alone what instrument each one played. Now, not only can I rattle off each one’s name and surname, but I also know the difference between an alto and a tenor saxophone! Yay! 😊 When I started this job, I didn’t even know that, in a big band chart, each voice (1st alto sax, 2nd alto sax, etc.) played a different part – that’s how ignorant I was about big band matters! 

In the latter half of 2016, the band went through a difficult time, as simmering conflict had come to the fore. The board hired a conflict resolution facilitator, but the process did not yield the healing that was envisaged, as the founder (and most of the board) resigned. An awful period followed, with a strong possibility of the project folding.  The single factor that kept it alive was a decision by the band members to remain in the project, and to continue playing music together. One member had resigned during the conflict, and there were a few gaps, as the band had never had a full, permanent line-up. Sekunjalo, which had supported the band from its early years, became the primary funder, and the band was renamed the Sekunjalo Delft Big Band. Today, they can proudly take to the stage as a full, 18-piece band of permanent members. 

                     
                             Sekunjalo Delft Big Band at Jazz on the Lawn, 21/03/18

Many changes have occurred, since the band’s new era began, all in line with the developmental goals of the project. Most of the band members teach at the project’s music academy (held on Saturday mornings, in Delft), and there are more leadership positions, where band members can grow and learn. In general, the project has become a lot more beneficiary-focussed, there is much better communication all-round, and the band members have experienced a shift in the ethos of the NPC. Regular meetings and workshops are held, and decisions are made in consultation with the band members. The split of gig fees is transparent, and the gig earning structure completely flattened – everyone is a star, so you all earn the same fee. If we hire a professional, to stand in as a dep, he/she earns what the members earn. As I said, the ethos has shifted.

If I start talking about the band, I can’t stop, so I’ll be very honest – it is impossible for me to be aloof about the band members. I am getting to know them better, as time goes by, and they’re getting to know me. I know how bad they feel when gigs are scarce and I’ve seen them shine like diamonds when their gig schedule is busy. Like two weeks ago, when they had three big gigs in one week, including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

               The band at the 2018 Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Behind the scenes we were sorting out their new suits, so that they could step onstage at an international jazz festival, looking and feeling cool! I watched them fit their jackets, tease each other, complain about sleeve lengths and waist sizes, argue about what size fitted whom best, until they were eventually all sorted, and we left the factory smiling. I watched them with pride, that day, as an unforeseen thing had cropped up, and they’d quickly huddled, conferred, and presented me with a solution. I tried hard not to beam too much.

On Tuesday (two days ago), I left work, went to buy things for the academy, and drove to Delft to drop them at a band member’s house. On the way home, I stopped somewhere else, on another band errand. It was getting late, I was tired and hungry, so I headed home for a restful evening.

Just before 7:30pm, I got a call from a shocked and angry band manager, telling me they’d just entered the band room and discovered that the place had been broken into, and all the equipment stolen! My heart broke into a million pieces. I had to force myself not to say, “’I’m on my way.” I was exhausted, and I needed to rest. I ended up spending most of the evening on the phone with different band members, getting updates and offering advice. They had to abandon band practice - the sound equipment had been stolen, as had the keyboard, two amplifiers, a mic & mic stand, the music stands, half the drum kit and drum hardware of a few kits. The upright piano had been vandalised, the fridge had been damaged, and the place was in disarray. The robbers had got in by breaking through the brick wall at a spot that was not visible by the security cameras.

I called the chairperson of the board, then let the rest of the board know. The chair and I agreed the media should be alerted. I sent an email late that night, and the next day, a journalist called me. Her article appeared in the Cape Argus this morning, and arising from it, we managed to have three radio interviews so far, with another one happening tomorrow morning. Five minutes after one of the interviews, a member of the public called me to donate an amplifier. I fetched it tonight.


Yesterday, while I was at the band room with the band manager and one of the academy coordinators, we talked about the things we urgently needed to resolve, and one of them was securing a rehearsal space with sound equipment. I contacted Camillo Lombard (jazz maestro and Principal of Cape Music Institute), who immediately offered rehearsal space at his school. We felt a lot better after Camillo’s warm response.  It was a real glimmer of hope.

I observed the two band members closely, and felt so sad for them! I remembered that they hadn’t seen the jazz festival footage yet, so I took out my laptop, and we watched a bit of it. Immediately, they brightened up, as they watched with delight. One of them said, “’Now I understand why you said we must all watch it together!”’ And that’s what we plan to do, as soon as possible. We need to get together, laugh together, and heal together. The material things can be sorted out, in time, but the feeling of being violated, when we’re not exactly rolling in money, and when things were just starting to feel great, needs to be assuaged.

                                  A light moment before the soundcheck at the jazz festival 

I have had a tension headache since Tuesday night. It’s right down my back, in fact. I’ve been forgetting things, and been easily distracted. I’ve had that feeling of having a big cry inside that wants to come out. There’s been a lot to deal with, and all I want to do is make it right, make the pain go away – for the band. As much as I believe it will all eventually be fine, I am impatient for it to happen. I’m angry as hell that this has happened to what I affectionately call “’my favourite band”.

On the 23rd of March, as the band played their last note at the jazz festival, one of our board members exclaimed, “This band is ready to fly!” I want them to fly. They are more than ready. They stuck it out when things were rough, they gave the new board a chance, and they weathered 2017, which we called our Year of Transition. At the beginning of 2018, I noticed a new energy in the band, an excitement about being a full band, about playing together, and about the possibilities that lay ahead. The year started with some nice gigs, morale was high - and then this!

Today, in preparation for a radio interview, I asked some of the band members to send me voice messages of how they were feeling. What struck me was how philosophical they all were, expressing the view that, no matter what had happened, everything would be okay and that great things lay ahead.

I am extremely lucky to be working with such fine young people. I want the best for them, because they deserve the best. I believe that this event is an unexpected turning point in the band’s life, and that nothing will be the same after this. This band is indeed ready to fly!    

             My favourite band (plus a techie) - but where's Nash?! (Must've taken the pic.) 
               Jazz on the Lawn, 21/03/18, at St Joseph's Marist College, in Rondebosch