"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


















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 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

Monday, 26 March 2018

My Journey Back to Trudy - Day 77: Interim weight goal achieved

I'd like to say just a few things, before I hit the sack - it's sooooo late, but this is the first time I've had a chance to write!

Today was Day 77 = the end of 11 weeks of eating healthily. My interim  weight goal was to have lost 10kg by this weekend (Cape Town International Jazz Festival). I weighed myself this morning, and to my utter surprise and delight, I had lost a total of 10,2kg. I am now 5,5kg from my goal weight, which I want to have reached by 30 June this year. 

Just a few thoughts:
1. I thought about why I'd chosen an event's date as my interim goal date, and I must admit it was initially about my visibility on the night, and the ego-driven side of me anticipating people's responses to my weight loss. However, as the weeks passed, and the full impact of what I was doing (radically altering one aspect of my life, in order to radically alter my approach to everything else in my life) dawned on me, I became a lot less invested in what people said, and a lot more interested in the journey itself, and how it was changing me - especially psychologically. 

By the day that I went to the festival (23 March), I was in a completely different head space to when I'd started (8 January), and I was actually not wanting to hear people's opinions of my physical changes. To my relief, only one friend I hadn't seen for a while commented.

And another thing about pinning a goal to an event date - it's actually something I've done before, with other goals. 

2. I've been thinking about what it is that's made me remain constant, with my revised lifestyle, and I've figured out what it is: eating healthily is not something I do - it's who I am, now. When I started this journey, as I've said before, I was completely ready; it was like something had switched on inside of me, and there was no off switch. I've recently been to an event where there was a buffet spread. Unlike before, when I would've over-eaten, in my attempt to try as many tastes as possible, this time I sought out the protein and veg options that I wanted, and ate as though I was eating at home. My relationship with food has changed significantly. 

3. Exercise development: I started planking, a few days ago. Yes! Strengthening my core. It's another aspect of the journey. I'm still dancing, and still loving it. 

4. A change I've noticed is that I enjoy almost everything about my life. The things that don't change their status as ''not enjoyable'' are the things I'll eliminate from my life when the time's right. This is a process of shedding unwanted baggage, to prepare for a lighter existence. 

                   Before my gig on Sat 24 March 2018. Day 76 of eating healthily. 10,2kg down.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Inappropriate

Here I go again - this time giving myself 25 minutes to type, edit & post.

I've encountered something strange, in certain people, and I've realised that all I want to do, when confronted with this phenomenon, is get as far away from them as possible. And stay away! The thing I'm talking about is when you have something in your life that you have CHOSEN, and that makes you HAPPY, that brings NO HARM, carries NO DANGER to you or anyone else, you are quietly going about doing your thing, and it enhances your feeling of  "all's well with my world", and these people have to tell you why you're either wrong to be doing it, why you should be doing it differently, or how they would do it if they were you. As the teenagers say, "Did-ask!" 

If I wanted someone to constantly tell me their version of how I should be myself, I would've stayed married!

I am 56 years old. I have experienced a lot, and I've learnt a lot. I do not engage in self-destructive pursuits, and am in fact a really harmonious, peace-loving individual. And that's the key word: INDIVIDUAL. If something in my life does not match up with your expectations of who and what I should be, and you're not playing an official role as an assessor, mentor or manager/employer - do me a favour, please: keep it to yourself!

I have friends who smoke, and it tears me apart that they're consciously taking one suicidal puff at a time, inviting all kinds of avoidable diseases into their lives - but that's their choice. If I don't want to be around cigarette smoke, I remove myself from the company where people are smoking. No matter how I want to cry out that a friend of mine died from emphysema a few months ago, directly as a result of excessive smoking (which he told me, himself), I don't. Even the cigarette packets have warnings on them. That's your choice. It doesn't have to make sense to me! It's your life. 

I have had to face the fact that some of my friends don't like my original music, and never come to my shows. I have even had to face that fact about close family members, but it's all part of life. Live and let live. I'm fortunate that life has sent me a warm and supportive artistic family, people I've met over the years who get me and my music. They know how to deliver their feedback without making me feel like crawling into a dark cave and never coming out again. They operate from a point of respect.   

So here's what I'd like to say, especially to those people who keep telling me their version of what's ok and not ok for me: I do not meddle in your life - I understand and respect that, as a mature adult,  you have a right to live your life any way you choose. It has nothing to do with me. Show me that same respect.   

The truth is, I owe you nothing - particularly not my attention, when you're being so inappropriate. 


Tuesday, 6 March 2018

My Journey Back To Trudy - Day 58

I'm going to try to type, edit and upload a whole blog post in 20 minutes! Haha! Wish me luck!

I want to write a quick update on my Journey Back To Trudy, which I began on 8 Jan 2018. On Sunday 4 March, I got onto the scale for my fortnightly weigh-in, and found that I had lost another 1,2kg, bringing my total weight loss thus far to 8,3kg. I have quite a bit to go before reaching my goal, but I've happily reached the point where the no. of kilos I've lost exceeds the no. I've yet to lose. And that's really cool! I am so chuffed!

So the journey continues. I feel like all the weight I gained in the last 24 years is symbolic of the clutter and chaos I took on in my adult life, both of which serve no purpose in my life; in fact, I have no interest in taking them along on the rest of my life's journey! I'm fascinated by how decisively changing one area of one's life brings about significant shifts in other  areas. I will expand when I find the time and courage to. The most important thing is, they're all good. Life feels good, and it's because I've taken back control and no longer feel at the mercy of things, including my appetite.

The tools I've chosen, for this Journey Back To Trudy, are:
1. Eating a healthy, low-carb and no-sugar diet
2. Drinking lots of water
3. Exercising regularly (dancing)
4. Doing the mental and spiritual work necessary to support my focussed, purpose-driven lifestyle
5. Writing about my journey - both in my personal journal and on my blog (I think Facebook has heard enough of me and this topic for a while. :-) )
6. Enjoying the journey itself - each and every day of my life.

The past eight weeks have been both liberating end empowering. And you know what's the best part? You start to see a lot more possibilities in life than you did before. You think: If I could achieve this very difficult thing that I'd struggled with for so many years, what else could I be changing in my life?

Twenty minutes! Yaaaas!!!


             Not a very clear pic, but here I am, on Sat 3 March 2018. Day 55 of healthy eating.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

A weak week


This past week was a tough one for me. On Monday, I wrote out my To-Do list at work, and it filled 7 sides of an A4 book. The thing with a To-Do list is that it doesn’t stop new things, all of which are urgent, from cropping up!  I have a simple philosophy – I’ll start, I’ll do what I realistically can, and then I’ll come back tomorrow, and do whatever I realistically can, etc. etc. There’s no other way.

However, on Monday afternoon I started feeling strange, and by the evening, I was really ill. On Tuesday I stayed out of work and went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with gastroenteritis, which my doctor said had reached epidemic proportions in Cape Town. This seems to be linked to our water shortage - a scenario we’d feared would happen, but had hoped we could somehow avoid. At least I was able to get medical attention and general advice on the do’s and don’ts. Many others aren’t that lucky.

In this state of feeling sick, and armed with my meds, I returned to work on the Wednesday, and tried my best to stay focussed and productive. In fact, I was so aware of how missing one day impacted on my workload, that I worked right through, without taking a break. (Why do we do these things?!)  Somehow I made it through the week, as well as the Saturday morning part of my job – at Sekunjalo Delft Music Academy – and even managed to do my gig on Saturday night. Thank heavens it was just two sets, and not three, because I struggled to keep my energy up. Having said as much, I actually enjoyed the gig. It’s a no-pressure kind of thing for me, and I love being able to perform in public.     

During the week, while driving somewhere on my own, I was listening to a piece by brilliant guitarist, Jonathan Butler, on a compilation CD I have of South African musicians. I turned the volume up, and allowed the sound to envelope me. And then, seemingly out of the blue, I was overcome with sadness. Before I knew it, I was crying. I thought about the great guitarists I’ve worked with, most notably Keith Tabisher, Wayne Bosch and the late Errol Dyers, I thought about how happy I am when I’m making music, and how fulfilled and transported I feel when I’m singing my own compositions with an accomplished guitarist who ‘gets’ me, and respects my work. I thought about the many songs I’ve written, the stories my songs tell, and how important it is to me to tell them. It struck me that I basically do very little with my compositions. I put on one original concert a year, and even then, I feature younger artists in the first half. The last time I did a full concert of my original work was in 2011, at the Nassau Hall. That’s SEVEN years ago!

I felt that awful feeling of life passing me by, while my songs gathered dust. I felt like I was mourning a music career I wish I’d had. I felt a sense of wanting to stop everything else, and just make music! Why does that sound both extremely appealing and unlikely? As soon as the wonder and magic of the thought start to fill my being, that other “be realistic’’ side rears its head. I can’t deny that this is a huge sadness in my life.  And maybe when I’m sick, and not feeling on top of things, my physical vulnerability opens the door to these other feelings of what else is missing from my life.  
But, imagine how much worse it would have been had I not had my weekly restaurant gig and the other once-off gigs I get, like weddings and other events. Even though I was feeling under the weather on Saturday night, I actually enjoyed my gig at Sabria’s Restaurant. I did not sing any of my originals, but stuck to the crowd-pleasers. Despite that, I enjoyed singing and playing, and I felt blessed to be able to do this very special and magical thing, at this stage of my life.

Maybe I’m luckier than I realise.

                         Pic taken by my daughter, after my Sabria's gig on Sat 3 March 2018. 

Thursday, 15 February 2018

It's Not Music

I'm woken by the alarm, and I snooze once, twice, then disconnect. Make a mental note to change the irritating alarm tone. It's time to get up and face the day. I know what makes my heart sing - making music. Playing my guitar and singing. But not now. Now it's time for that drowsy morning routine. It's not music. 

I somehow get everything done and leave the house, optimistic that the day will hold something bright and magical for me. I drive to my place of work, in the bustling CBD, 21km from home. Depending on the time I leave, the trip takes anything from 30 to 90 minutes. Yes. It's what it is. And it's not music.

I enter a multi-storey building, drive up a curly road, and park my car in the same bay most days. Shake out my curls and wrap a scarf around my head, like a wannabe-turban. It gives me a sense of being different, earthy, and connected to scarf-wearing women all over the world. It's both eclectic and esoteric. But it's not music.

I get through my day, working mostly at a laptop, trying to make a contribution to the part of the world in which I live, and most of the time I feel I'm making a difference. I have a lifetime of experience and I take whatever I do seriously. But it's not music. 

It's time to go home, and I get back into my car and drive the 21km home, this time taking well over an hour and doing hiccup driving, mostly in first gear. I marvel at everything around me - Table Mountain in all its splendour, no matter what the weather or my mood, the difference between how men and women drivers change lanes, and of course the minibus taxi drivers, who flout all road rules, seemingly without the sense of accountability of the rest of us. I can get through this. But it's not music.    

Get home. Open windows, air the house, make supper, eat supper, wash up, prep lunch for the next day, do odd chores around the house, then do more office work. It's not music, but the possibility of making music is closer. I decide what to wear the next day, get through as much of my Trudy List as possible, rush rush rush, because if I have even 15 minutes, I can play guitar.  

On a good night, I write my Daily Pages (The Artist's Way) and do a dance workout, before my shower. It's not music, but now's my chance. 

I sit on my bed, smelling of vanilla and feeling a wonderful sense of peace and anticipation. I pick up my guitar, tune it, and strum ....softly.......the house is quiet.....it's sleeping time......don't make a noise, now.....strum very, very softly ..... and don't sing...... it's quiet time, now. 

Oh, damn!

Even the music is not music.