"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, 3 October 2017

Change

How many times throughout my life have I heard - or said - "The only constant in life is change''? I'm once again faced with this reality. It seems the universe tunes into my  restlessness, and says, "So! You're restless AGAIN?! Well, here's something that will pull you right out of your comfort zone!"


What I keep forgetting is that I promised myself, sometime ago, that, whenever I was faced with change, I would give myself three months to adapt. And what usually happens is I actually do - and most times, I end up loving what freaked me out in the beginning. The pattern is always the same - I doubt myself, and I worry that I'll let people down, that I'll let my children down, and that I'll let myself down. I encounter initial obstacles, and interpret them as a sign that I should extricate myself. Regardless of the specifics, I find myself waking up every day having decided the opposite of the day before's decision. And days go by. And weeks go by. Then, slowly something shifts  - someone says something that makes me realise it's not that scary, and that I should just give it a chance. And then it's three months, and I exhale - it's really not that scary; and if I fail, I can learn from my mistakes, and try again. 


As I look this next change squarely in the face, I owe it to myself to remember all the other big changes I've made throughout my adult life, and how petrified I was when I anticipated their outcomes; the truth is, nothing ever reached the worst-case scenarios I'd feared, and everything was just fine. 
I left an 8-year-long emotionally abusive relationship at age 30. At age 35, I left my first job after 14 years, not knowing what I was going to do next, but 100% sure that it was time to leave. At age 39, I left my marriage, deciding to walk the path of a single parent, despite all the difficulties that accompanied that decision. The main thing was, my spirit was free, and I could be the person I was, without having to justify every thought, word and deed, as though I was on trial. And then at age 50, I left another long-term relationship, when I finally remembered who I was, and chose to honour that person.


One and a half years ago, at age 54, I left the security of a permanent lecturing post at a government college, and accepted a job in the private sector. I experienced all kinds of stress and apprehension, as I went through my usual yoyo  emotions of feeling I could nail the new job, then feeling I had made a huge mistake.  Nineteen months later, I'm still in the job, I don't feel like the new kid on the block anymore, I work with cool people who do interesting things, and I learn something almost every day. It's a stimulating, multi-disciplinary environment, and I interact with people of all ages, from different backgrounds, who do very different jobs to me, all for the same company.


And now my role is evolving, which is both scary and exciting. In a government job, nothing evolves. Nothing! If you want a change in your role, you have to wait until the new role is advertised, then you have to apply for it, fill in copious paperwork, hope to be shortlisted, then go for inane interviews with people who've known you for ages, but who ask you questions like they've just met you.


Today, after much vacillating, I made a decision and I made a sincere commitment to myself (for both myself and my family). I can only continue to learn and grow.

Surely that's what makes life interesting? 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

An evening set aside for writing

It’s amazing to me how difficult it is to just zone out and focus on myself, do something that makes me happy. Like right now, I have a rare evening to myself, I didn’t bring home any work, and I’d set aside precious, precious time to blog, but ……... someone is talking to me on the phone.

In order to write, I need to be alone. I am. I need silence. I don’t have it, despite all my carefully laid plans. And I need to be in a certain headspace. I was, but now I’m not. Like I’ve said so often, I think about writing every day, but because it’s hard to achieve my ideal writing conditions, I end up writing a complete post far less often than I’d like to.

 Ok……. more than half an hour later…..and now my spirit is so disturbed, I can’t write.

But I’ll post the blog. Because that was what I wanted to achieve tonight. FFS!




So if you've ever wondered why I post so infrequently, now you know. This is also part of my life. It can get really frustrating to crave time out to do something you love and to have it taken away from you, over and over again, because other people's needs always come before your own.  

Only I can change this. I need to brush up on how I articulate my boundaries. 

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Red flags that signal you are in an emotionally abusive relationship

Sunday morning, the only morning I can wake up naturally, without an alarm - something I look forward to all week.

This morning, while eating my breakfast, I flicked through the tv channels, looking for something to watch. I found a programme called “Mzansi Insider”, on SABC 1, where a woman was being interviewed about her journey as a survivor of an abusive marriage. A woman with a powerful story to tell, Lulu King spoke about the red flags along the way that she had missed. Many things she said triggered so many painful memories for me, that I decided I would carry her message forward, to possibly help other women who are experiencing these things and not realising they are signs of emotional abuse.



1  Grooming phase – showering you with compliments and gifts
She said she now knew that the abuse had started with a long grooming phase, with the man showering her with compliments and gifts. This is how this type of man wins your trust, and how he builds up your belief that he is on your side, he’ll look after you, you can depend on him and turn to him for anything - just look at all the wonderful things he gives you. Depending on your own relationship with material things, including your family circumstances when you were growing up, this phase can be extremely seductive, and make you overlook many things that that little voice inside of you warns you are not right. Men who groom women in this way are skilled at the art of what we are socialised to think of as romance. You don’t stand a chance, if you’re naïve (and they know exactly how to pick their women). You many even heed the warning voice, and try to extricate yourself from being the one being fixated on, but it sparks an argument.  You may even break up, knowing on some level that this is not right for you. He’ll play the victim, be extremely hurt, give you a few days to feel terrible about having hurt him, and then you’ll get the next bunch of flowers, item of jewelry, or a special item that he knows you’ve been wanting for a long time.

In my 20’s, I was in a long-term relationship with someone 15 years my senior. In hindsight, that was already a red flag – I didn’t see it, although I’m sure many others did.  That size of age-gap is a red flag when the younger person has not had much relationship experience. I can guarantee you that, at the very least, there’ll be a power imbalance, which lays the foundation for all kinds of exploitation. The special item he bought for me was a solid-body Yamaha acoustic-electric guitar that I had ordered, planning to buy it with my annual bonus. He insisted on buying it for me, and encouraged me to use the money for something else I needed. And when we broke up, guess what he demanded back? I am acutely aware that the independence I prize so highly today is not just because I’ve always been independent – it’s because of these instances when people that I let into my heart abused my love and trust. Like so many women, I unfortunately walked this path more than once.

It took me years to tell the salesperson that I’d only had the guitar for a short time, before it was taken from me. At that point, I learnt how obnoxious and offensive he had been, refusing to pay the price negotiated by me. He had basically bullied her into charging him less, leaving humiliation and resentment in his wake. I am so thankful that I eventually found the courage to walk away permanently. That was at age 30.


2. Excessive attention and monopolising of your time
The next red flag she mentioned was the man making excessive demands on your time, often starting with him phoning you throughout the day. In the beginning it’s flattering, you feel special, but this attention often turns into unhealthy forms, like wanting to know where you are all the time, who you’re with, and making a big fuss about the time you spend with anyone other than him, including your family and your girlfriends. These days, your social media behaviour can be a huge area of conflict. Everything you do that does not satisfy his idea of how you should behave, ends up in an argument. The arguing becomes a part of the relationship, and it can wear you down, to the point where you comply with whatever the demands are, just to avoid yet another round of shouting and being accused of being deceitful.  

In Lulu's case, she was told how to dress, was not allowed to wear make-up, and not allowed to see her friends. The latter is so common, that people start to feel this is normal when you’re in a relationship. When you break the cycle of abuse, and you eventually free yourself, one of the steps towards getting yourself back is rekindling your friendships that you sacrificed along the way. This is also why so many abusive relationships last for so long – because the woman is not in contact with her usual support structure, who could give her a different perspective and help her leave. 

Lulu was eventually locked up in her home, while her husband went out and partied. When she had a baby, she was not allowed to buy a pram, because he wanted to know where she was planning to go with the pram.

In my most recent long-term relationship, my uncommitted partner stayed in my life for years, until I made a conscious decision to honour myself more than I was honouring him, both for myself and for my children, who were witness to my doormat behaviour. Fiercely independent, yet wanting to be around me whenever I was in the public eye, his favourite line was not “When are you free so that we can spend time together?” Instead, it was a dismissive, disrespectful “I’ll see you when I see you.”  I grow sad at the thought that, for eight and a half precious years of my life, I believed that was all I deserved. As Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, do better.” 


 3.    You are expected to sacrifice activities and interests that make you happy
Writing about this is painful, not only because it scratches open old wounds, but because this is still happening, all over the world, to millions of women. Girls are raised to love and nurture. Before we know it, we have learnt to put our needs last, while we take care of everyone around us. For many women, this narrative is so strong, that it influences everything we do, including the types of jobs we choose. We become good at making others look good, good at equipping others to move forward towards success, and good at serving and enabling. This has disastrous effects when you’re in an abusive relationship, because you’re convinced that whatever is going wrong must be your fault, and you try, in every possible way, to adapt your behaviour (and views on things), with the sole aim of avoiding the next argument, which, as a harmony-loving nurturer, you find soul-destroying. 

In my 30’s, I was in yet another emotionally abusive relationship, married to someone much older, and again I didn’t see the red flags. My friends would invite us over for a braai and remind me to bring my guitar, because that was part of how we hung out – we’d braai and  sing together around the camp fire. Between the day of the invitation and the actual braai, I’d be subjected to a relentless onslaught as to why I shouldn’t take the guitar. I was accused of wanting to be the centre of attraction, and of being a conversation stopper. The Trudy I am today would not stand for that kind of bullying, but the Trudy I was then didn’t know it was emotional abuse. In the beginning, I’d stand up for myself, but it would always end in an argument, followed by days of him ignoring me. That’s a terrible way to live in one’s own home. In the end, to avoid the inevitable confrontation around having to explain why I wanted to take the guitar, and that I wasn’t an attention-seeking conversation stopper, I would end up not taking the guitar. When we got to the friend’s house, I’d have to lie about why I hadn’t brought it. I don’t think anyone believed me when I said, “I didn’t feel like playing.’’

After my divorce, a friend who liked partying a lot and couldn’t understand why I would want to leave at a certain time to go home and play my guitar, accused me of using my guitar as a crutch. If she only knew the role guitars had played in my life - as a tool to subjugate me, as a weapon I had thrown at an insanely jealous partner, but simultaneously as a constant symbol of beauty, healing and peace. If she only knew. That is why I am so strongly connected to the peaceful souls I’ve met along my guitar journey – they understand.


4. Why you should shout Fire! and not Help!
Lulu's interview ended on a very sobering note. She had been chased through the streets by her knife-wielding husband, but no-one had stopped to help. She had gone to the police station after being severely beaten up, but had not been taken seriously. She reached a point where she believed that she was all alone, and that people did not really care.
Her parting advice was: If you’re being beaten, don’t shout, “Help!”. Instead, shout, “Fire”, because people will only help if they feel they might be affected.

5.  My advice to women who suspect they are in emotionally abusive relationships
If you have friends who make you happy, who make your soul sing, and with whom you share a wonderful history, and your new partner expects you to give them up in order to be with him – that’s a red flag. 

If you have a hobby or interest that feeds your soul, and satisfies you in a way that gives meaning to your life and makes you like who you are, and your new partner wants you to give that up – that’s a red flag.

If your taste in music, clothes, food, leisure activities, movies, books, or whatever, is criticised and belittled, to the extent that you start giving them up - that’s a red flag. You have a right to like whatever you like and be with someone who likes different things. 



And finally, understand that extricating yourself from such a relationship or marriage can be painful, goes through many phases, and you will need a lot of love and support from your people, whoever they may be. The essential truth you must hold on to is: One day, all of this will be part of my past. I will be the me I like to be again, and I will thrive outside of this current situation. It’s a journey I am taking, one step at a time. Every morning when you wake up, commit to finding your happiness again. And believe it will come. 

Another thing I would add is – give yourself enough time to be single before entering your next relationship, because the healing process takes a while, and your judgement might not be as sound you think it is, within the first year (or even longer) of leaving one abusive relationship. 

An excellent book I would recommend, which helped me understand so many things , especially about why we find ourselves in successive emotionally abusive relationships is “Women Who Love Too Much”, by Robin Norwood. 


Peace,
Trudy   



Sunday, 25 June 2017

Straddling

I've just watched the 7-minute animated film, called "Alike", which is captioned, "How Society Kills Our Creativity".

Of course I would watch something like that, because it's something I feel very strongly about. The interesting thing is that I didn't watch it immediately - I shared it on my Facebook wall, and watched it only today, two days later. Because I was too busy. With whatever.

But let me go back a few sentences - this is not something I just "feel very strongly about", it is something I live every day. My entire being screams out to be immersed in my art form - music: creating it, performing it, growing in unimaginable ways through it, allowing it to light me up and organically take me beyond where I ever thought I'd go, and, through living that way, inspiring others to be immersed in their art. But how I actually spend my daylight hours is in an office environment, typing on a laptop, trying to get through an ever-growing To Do list, with limited decision-making powers, and a brain that borders on shutting down every single day, because it's so understimulated, and constantly trying to convince myself that, because my office job is related to my art form, it's the same as doing my art every day for hours and hours. But, let's face it - it's not.

I don't even know where the path split, and where I chose the one I'm currently walking. I know a few things, though, and the truth is that it's not easy living your truth 100% as an artist. Choosing to be a full-time artist is not easy. You generally have to forego a set monthly income, and you are constantly trying to generate work for yourself, the supply of which hinges on factors ranging from how small the local pond is, to global recessions. If you are responsible for only yourself, that's already hard; as a single mother who opted not to get financial assistance from her ex-husband, my choices were a lot harder.

In a world where everyone's fighting to be the best, the most, the highest, etc, the idea of artists collaborating, to help each other achieve artistic goals, is almost unheard of. As long as we buy into the lie that there's just one pie, with a limited number of slices, we will continue to believe that by collaborating we are somehow working ourselves out of possible success, and we will not find artists collaborating for mutual benefit. It's a winner-takes-all, scarcity mindset that's encouraged in our education system, as well as our economic system. Popular  get-famous-overnight competitions, keeping millions glued to their tv screens, serve merely to feed that beast.

But you know what? I never gave up. I don't believe in giving up. In fact - think about what it is that you're passionate about, and you'll know exactly what I mean: giving up is not even an option. Your passion is who you are. Without it, you simply don't exist.

So I do what I do, and I straddle the  two worlds, constantly trying to create a balance that I can comfortably live with. I try not to go for too many days without playing my guitar. For ten months of the year, I have a weekly restaurant gig, which at least keeps me in touch with myself as a musician. I do occasional corporate and private functions, some on an annual basis. I've also been producing concerts of my original work, since 2009. This year, my next concert comes just seven months after the last one, and I feel like this could be the year I start doubling the frequency of my concerts. Not easy, because I self-fund the events and manage everything, which is stressful.

Sometimes, just when I think I can no longer convince my fingers to hold onto the lifeboat, someone offers me an opportunity to be involved in something, in my capacity as a musician, and I'm saved from slipping into the abyss.  

I've learnt how to live in such a way  that I always have something to look forward to, and this is a way of living I'd encourage everyone to adopt. This is how I buoy myself forward. The truth is, I'm easily bored, especially by repetitive tasks that require very little thinking, and especially when I'm just following orders, and not generating or creating, myself. Multiple Yawn Syndrome.

What am I looking forward to, right now?
1. Thursday, 29 June, at 4pm, I'm doing a Master Class at Cornerstone Institute's Winter School for Creatives. My self-chosen topic? Music As Part of a Value System.

2. Friday, 30 June, at 12 noon: I'm doing a one-hour lunchtime concert at Cornerstone Institute.

3. Saturday, 15 July, 7:30pm, at Nassua Hall: Trudy Rushin & Friends in Concert. This time, I'm doing the main set with KEITH TABISHER (guitar), DYLAN TABISHER (bass guitar) & ABUBAKAR PETERSEN (tenor sax). The opening set will feature talented young artists, including CLAYTON SEAS, on guitar.

A woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do.

One of my mottos is: If I'm going to be alive, I might as well be very alive.

               A selfie taken in Sept 2016, at Sabria's Restaurant, in Wynberg, Cape Town.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child

This is a post I started typing in April, days before I went to Sweden. I'll post another one sometime about my trip.

Started in 2000, by Magnus Bergmar, from Sweden, the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCP) is the world’s largest children’s rights organisation. The focus is on children under the age of 18. Central to the programme is a magazine called The Globe, which is published annually, and is available in a few languages. It is distributed to countries around the world, where appointed people make sure school children get access to it. Teachers are trained how to use the magazine in their classrooms, and this is how the WCP message of children’s rights is spread to all corners of the earth.

On 20 November 1989, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These rights are set out in The Globe, in child-friendly language.

This is an extract from the Globe:

Basic principles of the Convention:
• All children are equal and have the same rights.
• Every child has the right to have his or her basic needs fulfilled.
• Every child has the right to protection from abuse and exploitation.
• Every child has the right to express his or her opinion and to be respected.

What else is in the magazine? The current book includes the following, i.a.:
-          What is the World’s Children’s Prize?
-          Meet the Child Jury
-          How are the world’s children?
-          The road to democracy
-          Global vote around the world
-          This year’s Child Rights Heroes  

The annual programme includes the magazine being published, children around the world learning about their rights, how to vote, and who the year’s three Child Rights Heroes are. A Child Jury, consisting of children from different countries, each of whom represents children who have suffered some form of rights violation, plays a leadership role in the programme. There is a preparation period, including training young people to become child ambassadors and to become voting officers, followed by a day on which children all around the world vote, by secret ballot, for one of the three activists. There are currently 115 participating countries.  

The Child Rights Hero with the most votes is announced at a special Award Ceremony in Sweden. All three activists are honoured for their work, and receive financial assistance for their projects. 
Part of the ceremony includes groups of children, from different countries (including South Africa), performing national songs and dances. There is a week-long programme, which includes lots of rehearsals for the awards ceremony, but also the cultural exchange that is afforded by the children hanging out together. The children get to spend time together, and also to visit local schools and interact with the local children.

This is, of course, an international foundation dealing with serious issues affecting children.  As much as we’d like to wish these realities away, there are children, throughout the world, who are suffering all kinds of violations. These include being forced to leave school and do exhausting manual labour in sweatshops, young girls being forced to marry adult men, girls being sold into prostitution by exploitative adults, children surviving by eating from rubbish dumps, and school girls being forced to have sex with male teachers, in order to pass their grades.  

When children grow up in these circumstances, there is often no-one they can turn to for help. There are thousands of people, all over the world, who did not know that they had a right to speak out, and that, as children, they need not have suffered the way they did. What the WCP foundation does, with The Globe magazine as its primary means of reaching children far and wide, is to teach children that they have rights, and to encourage the children of the world to speak out. Every child, including those living in the most remote villages, far from city lights and modern amenities, far from the internet with all that it can teach, needs to get the message that is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

At the 2015 ceremony, the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, was named one of the Honorary Adult Friends and Patrons of the WCP. In his acceptance speech, he said: “The World’s Children’s Prize program is built on the Swedish traditions of equality for all, the rights of the child, democracy and peace building, values so much needed in the world today.”

To quote from the current Globe magazine:
“The WCP patrons include five Nobel Prize Laureates, and three global legends: Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi (from Burma), and Xanana Gusmão (from East Timor). H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden was the first patron. The patrons also include members of global leadership group The Elders - Graça Machel and Desmond Tutu.”

The World’s Children’s Prize year of activity ends with the annual awards ceremony, an event led by the Child Jury, at Gripsholm Castle, in Mariefred, Sweden. All three Child Rights Heroes are honoured for the work they do. Her Majesty, Queen Silvia of Sweden, assists with presenting the prizes. Participating countries are encouraged to hold their own closing ceremony, where they show the film of the WCP ceremony and celebrate the rights of the child.

In 2016, it was reported that more than 38 million children, in 113 countries, had participated in the WCP programme since 2000.  South Africa is the country with the biggest number of participating children, as the WCP programme forms part of the Grade 9 Life Orientation syllabus.


   I took this pic of Gripsholm Castle, in Sweden, where the annual WCP Award Ceremony is held. 


Friday, 14 April 2017

Six more sleeps

22nd of Feb, a day on which I had two back-to-back meetings, an offer was extended to me which changed my idea of what 2017 was going to be like for me. You know how it is when you feel ready for some kind of freshness, a change from your everyday routine (or lack thereof!), and something new finds you? That.

That day, I rushed from one meeting with two interesting and empowered women, to another meeting, also with two interesting and empowered women. This one involved a project I had recently become part of - the World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child.  

I arrived late (always rushin') and envisaged myself creeping into the room, apologising for my lateness, and quietly getting a sense of what had been discussed so far. Instead, before I could even settle down, I was asked, “Would you like to go to Sweden?” I felt like I do when I walk past those people in the supermarkets with trays of my favourite Lindt chocolate, the ones wrapped in red paper, and they ask me, “Would you like a chocolate?” I basically want to relieve them of the tray, but politely take one, smile, and say, “Thank you.”


Well, that was seven weeks ago. Today is exactly one week till I board a plane and fly to Sweden, via Dubai. Reading that sentence, I feel like it couldn’t possibly be about me, and yet it is. If I told you I’ve been too busy to feel excited, you’d think I was being fake-cool, but that’s actually the truth. How I squeezed all the arrangements for going abroad into my crazily busy schedule, I can’t tell you. Thanks to the cool people involved, and others in the company who regularly process paperwork for staff travelling abroad, I managed to do what needed to be done.  

But there’s another side to this, and it’s about my personality – I tend to worry a lot. (That is such an understatement, that my family and friends reading this are probably laughing.) So, instead of easing my way through the next couple of days, I'm feeling the pressure of all the things I haven’t done yet and how few days I have in which to achieve everything.  Going to a country that far north, with a climate so different to ours, has all kinds of implications for what to pack. The truth is, I have to buy some important items, to cope with the temperatures there. I will be in a town called Mariefred (close to Stockholm), from the 22nd to the 29th of April, so I basically need appropriate clothing for a week. Okay, I already feel better. It’s only one week, Trudy!

Two other areas have been causing me to worry, and they are my children/young adults (we’ve sorted that out now) and the technology side of things. Part of my role in Sweden entails taking pictures and videos, and writing reports of the proceedings. I wasn’t worried about the writing part, but I needed to upgrade my phone, which I finally achieved yesterday. 

Ok, so what’s left to worry about?

I suppose I’ve sort of put my anxiety into perspective while writing this blog post. And you know what? I should know by now how the story goes: I worry, worry, worry, I write list after list, I tick off the items on the lists, I try to think of every little detail I may have overlooked, and I obsess like a person who’s never done anything requiring attention to detail before, and, in the end, it all works out just fine! In fact, it usually works out more than just fine!

So, having said all of that, I now need to tell you about the project that is the reason for my going to Sweden: the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child. Because this post has been so personal, I’ll talk exclusively about the WCP in a separate post, later today.


Watch this space!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Alone again – unnaturally

Written 13 March 2017

I used to live alone. Feels like a lifetime ago. I was in my 20s. I was teaching full-time and studying part-time, and I still had time to be involved in regular exercise. Besides that, I was also gigging.  Most of the time, I had a boyfriend. I have no idea how I managed to find time for everything. I do know that quite a few boyfriends became ex-boyfriends because of my need for space. Somehow, the type of partners I had weren’t able to see it as anything other than highly irregular and suspicious. As patient as I am with most things, I hate having to explain repeatedly that I mean what I say and that there is no hidden agenda. It was only after I’d been exposed to many more people, and encountered duplicity in various forms, that I understood their suspiciousness.

I’m alone this evening - rare, these days.  Twelve hours after leaving for work, I arrived home, exhausted. I imagined I’d do most of my favourite hobbies – write, dance, play my guitar, read – but right now, at 9pm, I can hardly keep my eyes open. It looks like I’ll actually achieve that elusive goal of getting to bed by 10. A miracle.


I always smile when people talk about their relaxing weekends. Relaxing weekend. What’s that?