"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


















Saturday, 17 August 2019

What playing the guitar and singing my originals mean to me

                     
I’ve just had a look at a video I posted on Fb this week – taken by a colleague, at a recent women’s gathering at work. In it, I’m singing my song, Women on the Move, accompanying myself on guitar. It’s a simple song, written on a well-known chord sequence called a 12-bar blues. It’s repetitive and it’s got a cool beat. It’s my song and it makes me happy. It has a message that goes way beyond the obvious. It has meaning to the women listening to it, it has political meaning, but it has a much bigger meaning in my life.

I started playing the guitar in 1978, and within a year had started composing songs.  Over the years, I learnt more from people I met and took lessons with different guitar teachers. Even before I’d started playing, I loved the guitar. I found myself particularly attracted to the warm sound of a classical guitar, which became my instrument of choice.

What I found happening in my romantic relationships was very strange, though, and it was only as I matured on my journey as a woman and started understanding more about men in a patriarchal context that a lot of what had happened acquired a context that did not conclude that I’d been at fault. That’s extremely liberating, and we should make young people aware of these things from an early age, teaching them to love themselves and the difference between healthy and unhealthy interpersonal communication, especially within intimate relationships.

So what happened in my relationships, related to the guitar and the patriarchy? Well, in my longer relationships, most of the men who were attracted to me found the guitar-playing Trudy fascinating. I suspect it was even part of the attraction. But what then happened was really bizarre, because they started resenting that part of my life and all kinds of toxicity emerged. Some of the men desperately wanted to learn to play the guitar, and more than one of them even said outright, “So that I can play better than you.” Right!

But some of the most toxic stuff around my music emerged in my marriage – ironically, to a musician. Here are some of the things I had to deal with:
-          I got asked to sing at a political event shortly after a previous performance. He asked if it was because Tina Schouw (a Cape Town musician who often sang at anti-apartheid events) wasn’t available. Now, while that may well have been true, it wasn’t a nice thing for him to say.
-          He also said that, by asking me, the organisers were really scraping the bottom of the barrel.
-          When friends invited us to a braai and made a point of asking me to bring my guitar, he’d complain for days on end, accusing me of being a conversation stopper and of always wanting to be the centre of attraction. Because the arguing really distressed me and I’d started believing his version of how horrible I was, I’d end up leaving the guitar at home.
-          When my first studio recording was played on radio (by Eric Alan!!), we were tuned in and I was jumping up and down with excitement. I wanted to say, “I did it! I did it!” But he’d also been in the band and I knew he’d feel left out, so I said, “WE did it! We did it!” He stood there, with his arms folded across his chest, a scowl on his face and said, “Don’t think you’ve arrived.”
-          In 1998, we went to California, to visit my brother-in-law. I’d done my first studio demo of some of my original sings in Nov 1997 and took about 20 cassettes (yes!) with me, as gifts and in case I had a chance to drop one off at a record label. We stopped at the robots right next to Capitol Records and I said, I’m going to take one of my cassettes upstairs. He looked at me with disdain and said something like this: “This is not Cape Town, where everyone knows you. This is a whole different world, where very talented people drop off their demos here every day and a lot are turned away.“’ I felt deflated, felt I’d been too full of myself, lost my courage and stayed in the car.
-          I think the worst thing he said was that I should never ever consider singing my originals in public, because they were too personal.

I left my marriage in Nov 2000, after almost 7 years. The first time I did a half-hour set of my originals in an intimate public setting was in 2004, at off Moroka, a restaurant in Adderley Street. Chantel Erfort had been organising regular poetry evenings and invited me to be their featured poet – with a difference.

I taught Chantel when she was in Sub A, impacting on her life the way a Sub A teacher does. I don’t think she realises how she impacted on mine, with that invitation. A whole new world opened up for me. I realised that my songs were going to bring healing to a lot more people than just me. Yes, my songs are personal, but that night, women came up to me and said, “You’ve sung my life story.”  “’I could never write like you, but I’m glad you write, because you say what people like me are feeling.” And so on.      
       
 All of this - and all the other things that men said and did around my guitar playing and my songs -  is the background to who I am today: I LOVE playing my guitar. I LOVE singing. I LOVE sharing my originals with a listening audience.

I love the freedom I have in my life, where I don’t have to deal with a man’s fragile ego and his bitterness about his own lack of courage or talent or whatever else it is he sees in me that he’s afraid to access in his own life. I am attracted to people who are prepared to make themselves vulnerable, who write, who share, who open themselves to others with what is inside of them. I love poets, I love writers, I love singer-songwriters and instrumentalists who play original music, and all other artists who bare their souls and live their lives with authenticity, wide open to whatever happens next.

Here is one of my compositions.

“When I sing my song”

I shared with you my latest song
I closed my eyes – inside I felt so sure
Words flowed from my heart, flowed through my veins
Flowed to my mouth – so strong and pure
You looked at me disapprovingly
Your lack of comprehension
Like a solid door
Slamming in my face
You can’t stop the flow
You will never know
You never did.

When I sing my song
I’m not asking for permission, I’m not looking for applause
When I sing my song
I follow my rules, not yours
I’m swimming in the deepest sea, waves of such intensity
Pounding on my body, pounding on my skin
When I sing.

When I sing my song
I’m not waiting for your ok – I know when I’m right or wrong
When I sing my song
What started as a spark ignites into a flame so strong
A fire burns inside of me
Don’t put it out, just let it be
Warming me, from the inside out
When I sing
When I sing
When I sing
My song”’



Sunday, 2 June 2019

Is alles oraait byrrie hys?


‘’Is alles oraait byrrie hys?’’ is a South African colloquial expression that translates as: “Is everything alright at home?” The reason it’s funny lies in its typical application. For example, if a politician says something strange/ridiculous on Twitter, this phrase might be used as a caption to a photo of the person or a screenshot of the tweet. The suggestion is, of course, that the person is unhappy at home, so is taking out his/her frustrations elsewhere.

But the reason it’s on my mind, this morning, is that I woke up thinking about how the cost of living had skyrocketed, in South Africa, and how increasingly difficult it was to make ends meet. I’ve long accepted that there are very few unique human experiences, and that if one family is going through something, there are probably many others going through the same thing. This is why I believe in sitting down with like-minded people and sharing our stories. In those gatherings, we inevitably find that others have had similar experiences, we feel less ‘’different’’ and start to understand that, if we’ve had similar life experiences, there’s the potential for solutions and healing to be arrived at collectively, which will impact on more people than had we tried to sort things out by ourselves. I strongly believe that the mere act of listening to each other’s story is an important part of the healing process. 

One of the things on my mind, this morning, was how much we share on social media (I’m a Facebook person), yet, at the same time, how much we don’t share. In conversation, recently, someone used the term “Facebook persona’’, and it got me thinking about the difference between who we appear to be, based on our Facebook posts, and who we really are.  Most of us are a lot braver, and possibly funnier, on Fb than in real life. It’s an excellent forum for introverts who have very deep thoughts but seldom share them, to get those thoughts out there. In fact, it’s an excellent forum for introverts, period. Extroverts are out there, living their lives, making new memories, and occasionally dipping into Fb to post fabulous pics and write four words describing their weeks spent climbing some exotic mountain.

But back to what I really want to write about. For most South Africans, alles issie orrait byrrie hyssie. (Everything’s not alright at home.) And the reason is that the cost of living has zoomed past the annual salary increases, extending the hardships of everyday life to a far greater percentage of the population than ever before. I don’t have stats for what I’m saying – this is just my feeling about what’s happening in our country, right now, based on the increase in certain types of conversations around me.

The people worst hit are the unemployed. I can’t even imagine what they go through, what they have to do in order to feed their families, make sure their kids don’t go to bed hungry, pay school fees, and so on. I have no doubt that the petty crime figures are linked to people needing to survive. I’ve heard that the items most stolen by shoplifters are bread and disposable nappies. Nobody should have to be driven to that extreme.

And then we have people who do so-called unskilled work, who earn very little. Whenever I’m in a supermarket, I observe the way different people shop. The more affluent shop with ease, even with leisure – they are loyal to certain brands, they browse, they buy a whole range of things the ordinary person might find extravagant, and they generally don’t check prices. I’m in the category where my brand loyalty is nowhere to be seen, when there’s a sale – my love for a certain brand of chickpeas comes a distinct second to my love for stretching the pennies. They all taste more or less the same, right? 😊

But my heart goes out to people who look poor and clearly have very little to spend, so they’re generally not pushing trolleys, but are putting a few of the most basic items into their baskets, to tide them over to the next time they have to do the same trip, for those same items – bread, eggs, toilet paper, etc. When I see old people shopping, especially on their own, my heart breaks.  

I have what is regarded as a good job, and I earn just a bit more than I was earning in my last teaching post. The reality is that prices of things we consume all the time – petrol, electricity, water, groceries – keep going up, but our salaries essentially stay the same. So, even if you are not an extravagant person, you wear the same clothes year in and year out, things that break in your house have to stay broken, and you’re constantly finding ways to save money, you can still find yourself struggling, because the things that are causing the whole nation hardship are out of our immediate control.

People say, ''Use your vote to make a difference.'' I don’t know, hey. In 1994, we voted the liberation party into power, to make a difference to the lives of the poorest of the poor, but did they? Or did they merely enrich a handful of comrades and do some window dressing, while the majority of shack dwellers, many of whom get raped on the way to the communal toilets, stayed in shacks, stayed unemployed, stayed poor, with very little hope of getting out and very little faith in the ruling party?

My reality – and I imagine it is so for many other people - is that I cannot survive on just my salary. As a sole breadwinner, a single mother without support, I have to take on part-time jobs, to survive. I’ve had one for four years (a weekly restaurant gig) and at the beginning of this year I realised I needed to make more changes, in order to survive the increased cost of living. I decided to stop having my hair dyed (you’d be surprised how expensive that can be) and to go back to teaching guitar lessons.


The former was a simple decision, but the latter was a journey with a couple of unforeseen variables. I had to learn that I’d have to keep tweaking the model until I found the right formula. It’s the fifth month, and I’m still tweaking. My carefully-calculated plan did not work. But it’s an area of my life I am strongly drawn to, and I’m going to get it right - not only is it a potential source of much-needed income, but it’s something that brings me immense joy. I’d hate to have to take on part-time jobs that did not bring me joy. Life is hard enough, and that just sounds too sad.

So what was my actual point? Behind every “’Lol”, smiley face and heart on Fb, are people struggling with day-to-day survival, and most of us are not talking about those things on social media. Some of us have found ourselves dealing with mental or physical illness, as a result of the struggle to survive. For most of us, our anger and frustration come out in how we react to other things that trigger us. 

But what we’re not saying is that we’re not ok. As a South African nation, we’re not ok.  

Is alles oraait byrrie hys?        

Thursday, 7 March 2019

The Land of No Smiles

People say I'm always smiling.

In 2012, when I was dealing with being unemployed (after being retrenched in 2010, and struggling to find the kind of job I wanted -viz. in philanthropy, and not a govt teaching post), I wrote a song called The Land of No Smiles. I realised that, no matter what I was going through (my mom was diagnosed with Amnestic Syndrome, that year), I'd always be smiling, when around people. Many of them had no idea of the challenges I was dealing with; being unemployed petrified me, because my ex-husband was always looking for an excuse to declare me an unfit mother. 

But there was one thing that kept me anchored, no matter what was happening in my life, and that was playing my guitar. I'm not a great guitarist - I could probably play to save my life (depending on the standards of my captors!) - but playing my guitar and writing songs are my sanity bringers. So I wrote a song called The Land of No Smiles. For many reasons, this is the song that comes to mind today.

THE LAND OF NO SMILES - TRUDY RUSHIN, 2012

You might be surprised
To know how very low my spirit goes
Living in The Land of No Smiles
Pick up my guitar
Feel the magic draw me in
And place me on a cloud
Floating in The Land of No Smiles
Sometimes it's a major key that wraps its arms around me
Chords I've known for years and years
And quite a few that are brand new
But it's a minor key
Usually it's a minor key
I feel so diminished, wish someone would augment me
You might be surprised 

You might be surprised
Sometimes there's no ground beneath my feet
Living in The Land of No Smiles
You might be surprised
I have to remind my heart to beat
Living in The Land of No Smiles
But I've found a way to make it all go away
Play guitar till my arms get sore
And then I play a little more
But I am so suspended
I'm tired of being suspended
Don't wanna be sharp or flat
I just wanna be natural
You might be surprised
You might be surprised
You might be surprised
You might be surprised

I hope to record this song, one day, with a really cool band  - people who know my heart and feel my spirit.

People say I'm always smiling.

                                                               Feb 2019 (cropped)

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Checking in on 24/02/19 (& more on The Daily Music Show)


Who am I?
Trudy Rushin

Where am I?
Sitting at my kitchen table, my favourite writing spot, in a house I’ve lived in for 22 years, in the southern suburbs of Cape Town.

How am I?
Tired, but happy. And, most importantly, at peace. At peace with how much better I’ve become at discerning when to say YES and NO. I’m at peace with the fact that life can get busy, but that we always have a choice as to what we take on, as well as how we go about honouring all our commitments. I’m also at peace with the reality that, even within the beautiful things we say YES to, there can still be new – and sometimes painful - lessons, but that all of those just equip us better for the next set of life’s YES/NO questions.  
   
I love the feeling of learning, growing and making better decisions. I love having broken out of martyr mode, and taking better care of myself, through making healthier decisions.

I think that, when it finally hit me that this was MY life, and that I owed it to myself and my loved ones to create the most favourable conditions in which to live and thrive – en route to the end of life, which is death -  things became a lot clearer to me about MY role in what I’d been putting up with for so long. How liberating! It’s not just changing gears - it’s getting out of your vehicle with its 1300 engine, and getting into a huge, powerful 2litre 4X4, that can tackle absolutely any terrain! 😊 It’s getting out of the leaking rubber dinghy and boarding a cruise liner. 

Why am I?
It’s interesting how this answer changes, as I tune into different energies in my life at the time of writing.

Right now, my awareness of myself as an artist, a musician, is what fuels and buoys me,  filling me with ideas, dreams and plans, some of which I’d literally been too afraid to have before.

I’m fascinated at how life works, as you get older. For example, I’ve decided not to dye my hair anymore, but to let my natural hair grow out. This means I will be getting steadily greyer. My decision was based on two main things – one functional, and one spiritual: 1) I needed to trim my budget, for bigger-picture reasons, and 2) I was finally ready, as a woman, to take that step.

My strongest awareness of myself, right now, is of my artist self: I am a musician. I am a singer-songwriter. I have a body of compositions of viable, stand-alone songs. My songs tell the story of how I’ve walked my journey, what’s captured my attention and what’s affected me profoundly, very much like a photographer or artist’s work does. My songs expose the jigsaw puzzle of my life, without pretending there are no pieces missing.

The Daily Music Show
Earlier this month, I was invited by Joey Fourie (music lover and social entrepreneur), to perform for 8 consecutive evenings at his new venue in Cape Town, called The Daily Music Show. Its primary aim is to provide a public platform for local culture – music, poetry, art and cuisine, for now - largely with tourists in mind, but most definitely for locals to enjoy what our city has to offer, as well. For many reasons, Cape Town is still a very divided city, and we still tend to live in bubbles, moving within very limited spaces, pretty much along the lines set out by the apartheid government. Having this kind of initiative right in the centre of the CBD of the Mother City, where very few previously-disadvantaged people live, is perfect, because it brings us right back to the heart of the Mother. To come together as people with more in  common than we realise.

Joey’s brief to me was to sing original music, not as a soloist, but in ensemble format. I loved it, because it opened opportunities for me to not only collaborate with different people, but to have my songs pulled in interesting directions, through the interpretations of the musicians who’d be accompanying me. In other words, it was a growth opportunity.  

I ended up working with two different ensembles, essentially built around the guitarists I’d chosen, both of whom I’d worked with before (in one case, extensively) and who knew my heart.

On Thurs. 14 and Sat. 16 Feb, I performed with Rudy Burns (guitar), Errol Davids (saxophone) and Bernie Lawrence (bass guitar and percussion). Many of the people who heard this band said it was the perfect band for me. I thoroughly enjoyed rehearsing and performing with them and would love to work with them again. We just clicked. I think the saxophone sound works perfectly with my songs; it’s a sound I find pleasant and exciting, warm and beautiful. 

I wasn’t able to accept the Sunday night, because of a prior family commitment, so I was supposed to have performed with the other band on 5 nights. Due to very small audiences, two of the nights were cancelled, so we worked together on only 3 nights: Fri. 15, Wed. 20 and Thurs. 21 Feb. The line-up was Keith Tabisher (guitarist I’ve been working in duo format for 16 years), Alistair Andrews (bass guitar) and Randall Cyster (drums). Needless to say, this was a very different sound, and I was completely out of my comfort zone. Some of the time, I really struggled. My songs have lyrics, which need to be heard, and the accompaniment should never frustrate that process.  By the last night, we’d started settling our sound and I couldn’t help but wonder what we’d have sounded like, had we played for the full five nights.  

                     On our last night at The Daily Music Show, Thurs 21/02/19
L-R: Khadija Heeger (poet), Joey Fourie (host), Keith Tabisher (guitarist), Kenny Alexander (artist in residence), Alistair Andrews (bassist), Trudy Rushin (singer-songwriter-guitarist) Roché Kester (poet) and Randall Cyster (drummer)// Photo: ChellaOhtoowaan

Behind the scenes, I’d had to book annual leave to get out of work earlier every day. Fortunately, we have showers at work, so I could take all my things along, shower at a certain time, and make my way to the venue. In case you don’t know, I’m Virgo: there’s no way I could go to a gig without showering, washing my hair, and putting on clean clothes. For me, it’s all part of the ritual of preparing to perform. Tick! (Mental checklist)

There were so many lessons learnt, so many bridges built and one drawbridge lifted, never to be let down again. And that’s life.   

So, why am I? I’m a musician, and that is the path I want to pursue with all my heart. It’s tough doing the day job and music thing at the same time. Tough, but not impossible. You just need to sort out your priorities, and be very organised. 

And let’s not forget this scary but exciting truth: the only constant in life is change.  






Sunday, 17 February 2019

The Daily Music Show - Reflecting after Gig No. 3

This started out as a Facebook post, but I realised I had a lot to say, so I switched over to my blog.
Last night was my third consecutive night of singing at this interesting and increasingly-fascinating venue. You may be surprised to know that I have never done a run like this before, going to a venue night after night and singing - especially not my originals, which are usually wrapped in tissue paper and taken out for special occasions, like my annual concert with Wayne Bosch, or the odd event where originals are celebrated, such as house concerts or poetry events.
As I've returned to the space day after day, it's begun to seep into my consciousness, even my identity, as have the people there, each adding his/her special ingredient to what ends up being a fragrant and delicious pot of home-made Kaapse bredie. :-)
I've sung there for the past three nights, and each night has been distinctly different from the other. Onstage, I've worked with two bands, so the feeling of making music, of singing my originals, has been different. The instruments have been different, as have the people playing them. Add to that the audience composition, which changes every night, and you have the most interesting shift of dynamics. As a result, the energy and the kaleidoscope of emotions while I'm singing my songs, baring my soul, have been very different on each night.
Everything to an artist is energy. Your emotions threaten to override everything, but you learn to keep them in check, and carry on, regardless of the whirlpool inside.
On the first night, I forgot to take photos, but on the second night, I made sure we posed and captured the event for posterity. Last night, my third night there, a professional photographer (Jeffrey Abrahams) was there, snapping away, and we ended up having really good photos of last night's performance, as well as of the band posing together at the end of the gig. It was the last night in this run that I would be working with that band: Rudy Burns (guitar), Bernie Lawrence (bass guitar) and Errol Davids (sax). I loved working with them, and felt quite sad having to say goodbye. But it's up to us to create more opportunities to work together, right? These are memories to document and cherish. Thank you so much, Jeffrey! You are a true artist!
L-R: Bernie, Rudy, me and Errol (16/02/19 - Pic by Jeffrey Abrahams)
What's also interesting is seeing other people's photos and videos, after the event. The age of technology we live in fascinates me. Thanks to everyone for sharing their videos and pics on Facebook. The impact is greater than you may think.
I have four more nights (Mon 18 - Thurs 21) at this very special spot in our Mother City, and I plan to enjoy every one of them. I look forward to singing with Keith Tabisher (guitar), who's been my music partner for 16 years, as well as with Alistair Andrews (bass guitar) - he was my first guitar teacher at Jazz Workshop, many moons ago - and Randall Cyster (drums), with whom I sang decades ago. A very different sound and energy to the other band I worked with, but that's part of the exciting buzz of this place - The Daily Music Show.
I can't end this post without acknowledging Joey Fourie, who designed the concept and is finally seeing his dream come alive. Joey is the host of The Daily Music Show, and his whacky, think-out-of-the-box energy is a huge part of the vibe of this place. He's not afraid to try something different, shake things up, add a new element, even at short notice. If you can appreciate the possibilities that open up with that approach, you will love The Daily Music Show. Joey is a true entrepreneur, he loves Cape Town and all it has to offer, he's currently putting in the effort while the concept is going through its crawling stages, and he's got the tenacity and the endurance to see it through to its inevitable success. Joey deserves our support. He's breathing new life into the CBD, with this venture, and doing what we've been saying this city needs, in the humblest of ways. Yet, this is a concept that is destined for huge success.
L-R: Craig Berry, Joey, me, Kenny Alexander (resident artist), Keith and Alistair. (15/02/19)
I believe, with all my heart, that one day, in the not-too-distant future, tourists from all over the world will not want to leave Cape Town without having experienced The Daily Music Show.



Monday, 11 February 2019

No more pedestals

Over the years, I have been disappointed by people - acquaintances, colleagues, friends, lovers and even family members. I've finally figured out what I need to do differently, and it's just another aspect of self-preservation. 

I have a  tendency to put people on pedestals - I see only their good points, their strengths, their achievements, how nice they seem, how funny they are, and many other characteristics that I admire. Even when people caution me against individuals they've had bad experiences with, I go ahead and do my own thing - occasionally with disastrous effects.  

But the older I get, the more I realise ...well....just how ordinary most people are, and that the pedestals I've been putting them on are undeserved. But it's not their fault - I'm the one who put them there. 

So, after the umpteenth disappointment by someone I'd looked up to and respected, I've decided that I'm not putting people on pedestals anymore. I will regard everyone I meet as ordinary and capable of disappointing me, and I'll take it from there.

Another thing I'm really tired of is the celebrity culture we have, here in Cape Town (and I suppose all over the world). In Afrikaans, the word "verskrik" best describes that kind of hero-worship. I'm often shocked to see how people who should know better,  fall into that trap. So if you're an honest, decent person, who operates in a principled way, you're reliable, a person of your word and  consistently respectful towards others, that can actually count for very little, in certain circles; but if you're well-known, well, THEN you're worth something. What is it about celebrity-verskrik people, anyway? Aspiring to celebrity status themselves and believing that they might achieve it by association? Hilarious. And sad.  

So back to the pedestal matter - there are local celebrities I also put on pedestals, until they showed me how little regard they had for others, how bigoted and self-aggrandising  they were, and how all you're good for is to give them access to your networks (which you've spent decades building).   

So fuck all of that! I haven't aspired to toeing the mainstream line for many years, and I don't intend to do so now. 

So - no more putting of people on pedestals. 

The people of substance in my life, whom I deeply admire and for whom I'd go out of my way, are so comfortable with who they are, so busy doing what they're passionate about and pursuing their goals, living their truths,  exploring deeper issues, trying to make the world a better place, that they don't constantly seek external approval or validation. 

Or pedestals.  

                    I find solace in nature. Sunset in Camps Bay - Fri 8 Feb 2019.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

New Moon in Aquarius

Two days ago, we had the New Moon in Aquarius. I can't tell you what it means, other than that the best time to start a new project is between New Moon and Full Moon.

Once again, I've set my alarm, with the aim of finishing this post in thirty minutes. Let's see. I struggle with brevity.

I'm fascinated by the energy of 2019, so far. At the beginning of 2018, I embarked on a healthier-lifestyle journey, starting with changing my eating habits and trying to exercise (dance) more often. In the process, I lost 12,9kg, regained some of it, and ended the year with a net loss of 10kg. No matter how hard I am on myself about the weight I regained, it doesn't change the fact that I now eat differently, I shop differently, and I have a different awareness about the link between what I eat and how I feel - 'bad' carbs make me depressed, unmotivated and sluggish, whereas foods like protein, fruit and veg lift my energy, make me feel happier and more positive about everything. I've learnt to enjoy salad with at least two of my meals every day, and to avoid junk food. I've also learnt that those very people who make fun of you for making healthier choices are sometimes the ones who, once they've seen the positive result in you, go on to emulate you.

Bottom line, though - I do what makes me happy, I ignore the teasing and cynicism, and I live my truth. 

But the 2019 energy is even more exciting - I feel fearless, ready and not prepared to make excuses anymore. I love it! It affects every area of my life, and I'm learning to discern very quickly which factors cause blockages that prevent me from forging ahead. Identifying them is one step, and then doing something about it is another.

Last year, the book that influenced me a lot (am reading it for the third time now) was The Artist's Way (Julia Cameron) and this year it's The Secret (Rhonda Byrne). I listen to the audio book (online) and I'm allowing it to soak in, marinate and flavour my life. Some of the lessons I've taken to heart are:
1. The most important part of the Law of Attraction is the last 6 letters of ''attraction'': ACTION.
One of the contributors says: ''Act in spite of fear. Act in spite of doubt. Act in spite of worry.'' (Man, did I need those words!!!)
2. Trust what you're attracted to.
3. Reject rejection.

There are many more, but I'm serious about this being a 30-minute blog post.

So here I am, feeling ready. Here I am, feeling fearless. Here I am, tired of making excuses that even I don't buy anymore. And here I am - finally at that point where living my truth has become so much more tangible. And natural and inevitable.

On Sat 2 Feb, I started teaching a beginner guitar class for women. I have six women in this class, and there's been interest from a few others, which might mean I'll start a second class in a month or two's time. I fully believe that, if I were to advertise more widely, I could get a lot more interest. All I know is - I LOVE teaching people to play the guitar, I LOVE making a difference in women's lives, and I LOVE having this new energy to finally add more music to my life.

(You hear that Universe? MORE MUSIC!..... Thank you!)

My new energy sees me tackling old neglected things at home and in no time at all, sorting them out. WHO IS THIS WOMAN? AND WHERE'S SHE BEEN ALL MY LIFE?

What's brought it on? I don't know. Maybe it's a maturity thing. Maybe it's an age thing. Maybe external factors have also nudged me to this point.

Whatever it is, I have no doubt that everything I'll be doing in 2019 is leading to something spectacular in 2020. I suppose you could call it my 2020 vision. (eye roll)

32 minutes!! :-)