Do The Thing

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Some of my favourite quotes come from the former First Lady. In addition to the one above, the other one I often seem to live my life by is “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

This year has been no different.

Earlier in the year I was asked if I would be willing to run a music program one day a week for some of our higher needs senior students. Of course I said yes but not without trepidation. Anyone reading this blog will know (even from the title) that I am in the habit of doing things for which I possess no formal qualifications. Teaching music is no different.

So why me? Because from my first days as a casual relief teacher, I have tried to incorporate music into my lessons. I became rather well known for walking in and out of school with firstly a ukulele, then a small guitar, followed by a small suitcase of other instruments and finally a very large suitcase (big enough to incur regular comments of “Moving out of home, are we?”).

What I lack in a piece of paper, I make up for with love and passion – for special needs education and for enabling these unique students to experience live music.

It used to be that qualifying as a teacher required you to learn some sort of instrument but in these days of the internet, Spotify and YouTube, music in classrooms has become something professionally recorded. Experiencing someone singing and playing live and having the opportunity to make music too is an unusual occurrence for those outside the expensive private school system.

So, once a week, I would take over a therapy room and spend the day singing and making music. Like most things I do, I made it up as a went along, admittedly stressed every week that it wouldn’t be good enough. But when one term turned into two which turned into three when the second term was disrupted by lockdowns, it was clear that my program was working. I wish I could share the joyous photos of my students. It made my day, my week, my year.

Last week I was asked if I would be willing to run my program again next year. Of course, I had to think about it first. For about a nanosecond…

But, dear Eleanor, things didn’t end there. It got a lot scarier.

Through a random conversation with one of the teachers, I found myself writing a graduation song. The thought of performing it at the ceremony was terrifying but I needn’t have worried as surging COVID-19 cases and increased pandemic restrictions meant I wasn’t able to attend after all.

Hahahaha…. No worries….

Instead of performing it live, I was asked if I could record it so it could be used by the speech therapists to create the graduation video that would not only be shown at the ceremony but also shared on the school Facebook page.

Oh sure.

How do I do that, exactly??

Thus I embarked on the “do the thing you think you cannot do” journey of the year, buying a microphone and googling “how do I…?” questions every day.

I did it. I did the thing. It wasn’t perfect but I did it.

You can watch it here: https://fb.watch/a2gyEj9kE2/

(It took about seven takes to get that first shot. Seven times, climbing up the frame with a guitar on my back. We laughed a lot.)

PS I’ve been commissioned to write a song for next year’s graduation class too. I think I’ve started something. Scary things every day.

How about you? When have you done the thing you think you cannot do?

How Eleanor Roosevelt saved me from embarrassment

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote 1

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, when you’ve been posting every couple of days in the first flush of blog-love, a four day delay counts as a while. Sometimes life gets in the way. Real life, that is. As opposed to blog life.

And also this:

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I awoke to a wave of embarrassment washing over me. Actually, it didn’t so much wash over me as dump me. Hard. As anyone who has ever been dumped by an ocean wave knows, it hurts.

Why the embarrassment? This. The blog. I woke up thinking about it and was suddenly overcome by embarrassment. I can’t even tell you why. It was one of those ‘what was I thinking?’ moments that can strike when your confidence defences are down.

I pushed the feeling aside and went back to sleep. But I was bruised and bruises take time to heal. So recent days have held a running commentary in my head:

“Why are you embarrassed?”

“I don’t know. What if I’m making a fool of myself?”

“Does it matter? I mean, really, what impact would it have on your life?”

“But it’s so public. Someone out there could be thinking I’m an idiot.”

“Ha! Like that would be a first!”

“Well, that’s a bit mean.”

“It’s true, though. It’s not like it’s the first time you’ve done something stupid, is it?”

“Say something nice.”

“Get a grip and I might.”

“Sigh. You’re right. I’m being ridiculous.”

“Yes, you are. It’s your blog, do what makes you happy and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.”

“Okay. Yes. You’re absolutely right.”

“Of course I’m right. I’m you.”

And then I discovered Eleanor Roosevelt and her wisdom. (Well, obviously, I’d heard of her, I knew who she was, but I didn’t know much about her.) I haven’t read about her in depth, so I make no judgement on her personal history but from the numerous quotes I’ve found, she was certainly a wise lady.

Someone shared the quote at the beginning of this post just as I was struggling with my self-doubt (I know, I do that a lot) and it helped me push on in my exploration of boundaries unknown. Only through doing what we think we can’t do can there be real growth. It’s worth also noting the following quote from Pablo Picasso: “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

On researching other quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt, I discovered more wise words which I’d also like to share.

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote 2

How apt in light of my early hours tsunami of humiliation.

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote 3

This I fully intend to do. I’ve often described myself as having a short attention span, as I do have a tendency to want to know what comes next and to try new things. I like Eleanor’s reasoning. I intend to live life to the utmost and fill it with new and exciting experiences whenever possible. And not to feel embarrassed about it, because…

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote 4

Thank you, Eleanor Roosevelt.

 

 

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