Beauty Revisited

Jonathan and CharlotteThree years ago, back in 2009, I wrote a blog post called Beauty, when Susan Boyle wowed the world with her singing on Britain’s Got Talent.

Her performance gave the world not only her glorious voice but also a sobering lesson about prejudice and about the folly of judging people by their outward appearance.

We might have hoped the judges and the BGT audience had learned that lesson and would never make such snap judgements again.

But did that happen?


They’ve done it all over again in March this year.

They showed the same shallow prejudice immediately young 17-year-old Jonathan Antoine and 16-year-old Charlotte Jaconelli walked onto the stage.

Watch the video below to see what a huge mistake they made.

These two young people, their soaring voices –  and their friendship – are indeed beautiful.

It may just bring a tear to your eye as it did to mine. :)


Merry Christmas!

Christmas Cat and DogIt’s hard to believe another year is almost over!

And what a year it’s been –   full of the usual ups and downs of this amazing journey we call life.

A Merry Christmas to you,  and may 2011 be a year of health, happiness and peace for all.

Here is a cute video from YouTube to wish you all the joy and fun of this festive season.


I Don’t Know

I’ve been listening to a lovely song by Lisa Hannigan, called I Don’t Know.

I’m  inspired to reflect yet again on the importance of connecting with other people and listening to their stories.

When I meet you, I don’t know anything about you.

I don’t know what your special gifts are; I don’t know what challenges you most. I don’t know what you like or what you don’t like to do.

I don’t know what joys and pains have carved out your being. And I don’t know what makes your spirit soar.

I don’t know until I listen to your story. Until I bring open ears and an open heart to time spent with you. I don’t know until I ask. And, as Alan Alda once said:

The difference between listening and pretending to listen, I discovered, is enormous. … Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you. When I’m willing to let them change me, something happens between us that’s more interesting than a pair of duelling monologues.

Here’s Lisa Hannigan singing I Don’t Know:

I also love the way that Lisa, as she sings, cuts paper to make a beautiful world out of the blank room in which she begins.

For me it was a reminder that listening to your story also helps me build my own world – because listening to your story helps me re-story my own.


How Many Times

Through the work Chris and I do, we have the privilege of hearing the stories of people from all kinds of places, spaces and backgrounds.

So often I am humbled by their wisdom, resilience, humour and strength – often under circumstances that could leave them bitter, bowed or defeated. And I feel honoured they have felt able to open their hearts and share their stories with us.

It’s a reminder in this busy, media-saturated world of ours that the most powerful stories are not necessarily those of the rich and famous.

How often do we give our time, our spirits and our hearts to listen – really listen – to the stories of others? Ordinary people, with extraordinary stories.

Here is a song from one of my favourite Aussie singer-songwriters, Judy Small, which asks much the same question.


How many times do they tell their tales to strangers,

Who turn away in silence and pretend they didn’t hear.

How many times do we throw away such chances,

Never knowing what we might have learned with open ears.

(From How Many Times, by Judy Small)


Music and Memories

Music & MemoriesThis morning I heard the snatch of an old 70s song on the radio, and I was 18 again, in my first year at University – exploring new horizons, making new friends and mourning the loss of an early love.

Music holds a sure magic. It transports us through time, connects us with other people, helps to heal wounds, makes us laugh, makes us cry and feeds the soul. And there are some tunes that, when we hear them, take us back to a certain time or place with crystal-clear vividness.

My own earliest memories include my mother’s voice singing old English ballads to send me to sleep. Songs such as Oh, No John, No John, No John, No, Cockles and Mussels, and The North Wind Doth Blow.

My father was a trad jazz fan, and played the piano. Never professionally, but with a passionate love of music that stayed with him throughout his life. So my other early lullabies were tunes like Tiger Rag, St James’ Infirmary Blues and many more. And the first song I remember learning to sing as a small child was Ragtime Cowboy Joe!

[And what a delightfully quirky collection of videos I found on the web, when searching for links to all those songs. :-) ]

Indeed, music was so much a part of my dad’s life that even the stories he told of the six years he spent in the British Navy in WWII were often centred around the times he got to play the piano.

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