Sad Samba Goodbyes.


So this post is a week early, but I wanted to write it now, as next week I’ll be drowning in boxes, and hopefully at this time, I will be out and about singing rather than at home after a failed attempt at a night out… >.>

Usually I post photos I’m behind the camera on on here, but this time I’ve posted one that has me on it.  It was taken September 2012, at the ten mile point of the Great North Run, and is a pretty good reflection of some of the DrumDin motley crew.  Hope Nic doesn’t mind me stealing it!!!

I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of guys to begin my new hobby with, and sharing my Wednesday nights with them since August of last year has been nothing short of a privilege and a joy.

I began the search for a new hobby a couple of years ago – from wanting to get out and meet people rather than boredom, although that played a part too – and it took a very long time for me to find something that really sparked any interest, let alone desire to make the effort to get out of my somewhat dark and twisty place and go and actually talk to people and try and be social. Samba is something I’ve had an awareness of for a while now – as one of my good friends back home has played in Sheffield Samba Band for many years, but it was never something that interested me; until this summer.

One of my best friends and his children were coming up to visit for a week, as has happened a couple of times, but this time it was the summer holidays, and I also had the time off to be able to spend most of that with them, so was looking for different things that we could all do together, and just so happened to spy that a Samba Workshop was happening the day after they arrived, no less than a quarter of a mile away from my flat, in the Amphitheatre in South Shields. Ran the idea past my friend, who thought it was a good one, and we decided not to tell the sproglings just in case it was rained off , and instead surprise them.

That afternoon was so much fun. The guys running the workshop had made it accessible to everyone there, so the sproglings loved it; there were shakers around that toddlers could use and not feel left out, and for the adults there were more complex things to try hands at. So I decided there and then on the basis of that to go and have a look for something, as I hadn’t had that much fun doing a group activity in a very long time. So a hunt around on the internet later, and I’d narrowed it down to three outfits, sent emails to two, which were never replied to and one to DrumDin, who said they would be happy for me to come along.

So I decided to go, and the next Wednesday, it was absolutely throwing it down, with flash flooding and storms and all sorts going on, but I went and turned up at the venue we were using at the time, looking like a drowned rat, and was promptly thrown in at the deep end, and loved every minute of it!!

We may not play strictly Samba songs – we have at least one drum and bass song in there, as well as an arrangement of Missy Elliott’s ‘Bad Man’ (current new thing) but I’m more than happy with that!

I play the mid surdo (which conveniently sits between the high and low surdos!) which is the second lowest drum we have in terms of pitch, and have learned so much even in just a few months. Not just in terms of parts, and songs,understanding how things fit together better and I can honestly say that Samba has become an integral part of my week. If it’s been a bad week, then I’ll look forwards to ‘drum therapy’ – when I know I can go and take my stress out in a creative way, and do something fun at the same time, and if it’s been a good week, I can go celebrate it too. But also there’s this group of people I see every week, and look forwards to going and spending time talking, laughing, creating, getting things wrong, and having fun with who I am going to miss so, so much. And that in turn has helped my confidence to grow, and enabled me, along with a bit of help from some other awesome people to get out of the dark twisty place. I am already looking forwards to finding opportunities to go up there and go to practice and gigs where possible.

So, I want to say a big thank you to all the guys at DrumDin, for adopting me into the fold and for giving me some awesome times. I promise you I’ll be back when I can for stuff! Special thanks go to Nik, who runs the group though, not only for the time and effort he puts into the group and arranging creating the songs, but also for his teaching – never genuinely patronising, plenty of humour, and when there’s laughter over messing it up, you know you’re being laughed with, and not at.

So I’ll leave you with only a couple of things – firstly, go try it out – and if not Samba, try SOMETHING – you won’t regret it, and go have a look at the websites I’m about to list. And you know, if anyone is feeling especially generous then feel free to buy me a drum!! 😉 – the webpage for DrumDin – my Samba family. -SPARK – some of my very talented friends play in here – you might have seen their pictures in the papers of NYE activity round the world… ? – Nik, our MD’s own site.


Change is possible….?

When I lived in Sheffield, I always used to laugh as I went through the car park under Roxy (or Ro y depending which side you looked at it… ) [now the 02 academy] as all of the machines you got your ticket from used to display proudly in capital letters that CHANGE IS POSSIBLE, and every so often you’d find one that instead told you that CHANGE IS NOT POSSIBLE, but that was very rare.

Sometimes I wonder if change, real change, is actually possible.  There are all these arguments of nature vs nurture, and things like that, and surely who you are, and your core beliefs and behaviours come from both of those things? You have your core nature – which are the things you come into this world with, and those things are shaped by your environment and those around you – some things are encouraged, others discouraged. But I don’t think you ever lose the potential for those things. And as an extension of that, I believe that everyone has the POTENTIAL to be able to change a lot of things. Maybe not everything, but a lot. Which then changes the question to HOW as opposed to IF.

You get these cliched phrases that fall into common usage: “You can take the girl outta the country, but you’ll never get the country out of the girl…”.  “not an arrogant bone in their body” But how true *are* they?

In the last four and a half years, a lot of people tell me that I have changed. They can’t pinpoint exactly, how, and I don’t *feel* any different, but the last few months, especially I have begun to notice some things that are different without any conscious effort for them to be so…. so maybe they are right. But maybe I’ve just adapted to the situation I’ve been in, as well. The real test comes now, when I go back to my ‘home’ environment. It’s not exactly control conditions, but it’s enough to be able to evaluate this as a concept.

I guess as well that we *need* to believe that real change is possible, otherwise we have nothing to strive for – whether that’s acceptance, or a better job, or the ability to be humble, or making friends. Without that belief, then the world is not a great place to be.

I want to be able to say that I have been able to change. That I’m not the shy, marmite, severely lacking in confidence, doormat of a person I was, amongst other things….and I think to some extent I can say that.

Changing those things, takes real effort. I’m not sure how many of them are ingrained due being in my nature, and what are nurtured qualities, but I have to believe that it is possible to change. The question then becomes how…. those are answers I don’t have yet. But I know that you can’t do it by yourself, if only because you need an objective viewpoint from time to time. Seeing yourself through someone else’s HONEST eyes can be quite a good evaluation tool.  Somewhere I have a list of the things I’d like to change, and some I have more clue about how to go about it than others, but if I don’t try then it will be just as those rare parking meters telling me that change is not possible. But just like those meters, it’s important to remember just how many told you that CHANGE IS POSSIBLE compared with not.

New Years – a reflection.

New Years Day – a time when most people set their resolutions for the year, and, more often than not, work really hard to achieve them and give up within three weeks of the start.

Not so for me.  I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, per se. Those I do make are never in January, and are always usually around the time of my birthday instead. However, this year, I’ve got a list of things I want to have achieved by the end of the year, so figured that today would be as good a day as any other to sort the list out.

New Years is always quite an introspective time for me anyway. I don’t do so well with Christmas generally, for several reasons, and New Years is usually the marker for the end of those two weeks. One reason being the lack of sunlight. I do tend to feel worse when I don’t get outdoors as much, and deep winter usually means I go out before light, and don’t leave work til it’s dark again. Another being that Christmas generally holds a fair few bad memories, which I try and avoid and ignore by just not thinking about it much, and not being very sociable. It’s no big secret that Christmas was always a time I generally spent on my own with good reason! Every few years, I try and break that, and be sociable, only to find that it doesn’t work.

So I usually end up spending that time thinking about the year gone, what went well, what didn’t and whether I made the best out of the situations I faced (invariably the answer is a mixed bag of yes and no) what I’ve learned and what I aim to change for the future.

2012 was indeed a mixed bag. Started the year off in hospital for 2 weeks on morphine for severe pain which they failed to identify any cause of, leading to 5 months off work, me being quite depressed at times and wondering what the hell was going on. However I came through that, and went back to work in May, aided by a LOT of pain medication, which over the next five months, I weaned myself off. Still have bad days, but I’m no longer pumped full of opiates, which is definitely a good thing!

Being off for so long meant I had a lot of time to think about a lot of things though, and was able to start questioning things, and looking to what I planned to do, and change my perspective on some things too.

I took up hobbies I’d previously let fall by the wayside – photography being one of them, which led to some interesting projects being undertaken. I also started back a little more seriously on the music side of things, and tried drawn art again.

Balanced with the not so good, was some awesome stuff too. I lost a couple of people along the way – which hurt more than I care to let on, but I also gained some awesome new friends, had closure on a couple of situations, and opened my eyes to the possibility of stuff by choosing to just go with things and take more of a chance.

This led to an awesome holiday in Septembertime. Plans were loosely made, and then changed, and didn’t work out as they had been changed to, and IT DIDN’T MATTER. We went to Whitby, got lost on the roads around York and didn’t get there til dark, and it didn’t matter. Illness struck, and we accommodated, improvised, and ended up having an awesome walk along the coastline, went to the cave bar, found some amazing rock formations and talked.

Somewhere in the second half of the year as well, I appear to have changed my attitude to myself. I’m pretty sure in part this is down to the fact I changed the people I surrounded myself with, but it’s something that’s been a long time coming, and thanks to prods in the right direction, I’m going into the new year with a new job, moving back to Sheffield, almost fully divorced, and able to close that chapter of my life, and for the first time in a very long time feeling excited about what life may bring.

So, 2013. What do I want to have done and when by?

January – Move house. This one is a no brainer for deadlines. Handed my notice in at work, and have until the end of the month to finish the move. It’s going to be busy as all heck, and any help offered will be accepted with no arguments (yep… unlike me, I know.)

– Roleplay – I decided in December to take a break from all games, and this is still in effect, with the exception of some one on one Cthulhu, which I’m hoping can begin in January if this fits with the GM’s plans too.

February – New Job begins. The start of three months of training. February will also be about finding a routine again. Not overloading myself, but not sitting back either.

March     – Get back to counselling.  Part of the decision to move, and not immediately find somewhere on my own was so that I would be able to afford to go back to counselling. Something else that came up in the latter part of last year was just how much I still seem to be ruled by things that have happened, and whilst I’ve come a long way, I still have some way to go.

April        – come up with ways to get extra money to pay off my debts. Simple enough there

May          – if not already, start looking at houses/flats. Training for the job will also be over now, so I’d be able to take a week off to move/decorate, and will hopefully have money saved to furnish/buy what’s needed.

I’m not looking much further than that at the moment, because setting a rigid timetable defeats the point.

However, I would also like to achieve the following this year – at least £1000 in savings, go visit my friends both in UK and abroad. Not waste any more time. I’ve wasted too much time in the past. Now is the time to live. And this is the year it begins, and I believe in it.