Singing With My Family by Kira Kenley

31 Kira Kenley shares her creative dilemmas and decisions every Friday. You can read her earlier posts here

 Go Creative! in Portugal

A family member is dead and we will send him off in typical Irish style. There will be a wake. I must travel to Portugal, which is the place this branch of my family calls home.


Just before I leave for the airport, there is a phone call, would I please sing at the funeral. It would be my great honour. I say this immediately, without needing additional thought or consideration. A hymn is suggested which I do not know but I download it and begin learning it on the plane as I make my way to Faro where my cousin will meet me and drive me to his sister and her late husband’s home.


I sing the song all through the 2 ½ hour flight hoping my voice is lost under the sound of the engine but judging by how the couple beside me glance over every now and then, I surmise that they hear me. Perhaps, they might think I am a nun or a nervous flyer. The thought makes me smile.


Once I get to the villa, I think I’ve learned the song but when I am called upon to sing it, I can’t remember a single word. So I make a suggestion, it is a hymn I have loved all my life and one I know inside out. My cousin Claire, who understandably looks as sad and diminished as I have ever seen her look, loves the song. I will sing this at, her husband, Ray’s funeral.


The day of the funeral arrives following an emotional 24 hours which had seen me reunited with many family members I haven’t seen in years and also brought ‘Ray’ home for his last night under the same roof as his beloved wife. Well his physical body anyway. His spirit will, I have no doubt, remain in the same place it had mostly dwelled while he was alive, as close to his Claire as possible.


We go to the church and the service begins. It is beautiful and I am moved by every measured and meaningful moment. Then comes my time to sing just before the service ends. I make my way to the altar and I am so nervous. My heart is jumping out of my chest as I begin to think about what is occurring. I am singing for the first time in front of many of my family members and there is a feeling of needing to prove myself. My feet go cold and my palms begin to sweat. But then I remember…


I have nothing to prove to anyone, the idea itself is a nonsense and born out of ego. The only thing I have to do is what I love to do, sing. I am singing to celebrate a life and I as I stand beside the coffin adorned by the Arsenal flag and a beautiful picture of the man that has been and impacted all of our lives, I feel this great honour.


The voice comes and with it the realization that I am not singing “for” my family but “with” them, with all the people in the church. I sing and they meet me in that place from where all songs come. We move as one body and we let our collective grief move with the music. The words ‘Be Not Afraid’ spoken to every one of us from somewhere that knows. Somewhere that understands death fully and will guide us all through it when our time comes.


My song comes to an end and I look at my broken cousin and in that moment she looks a little less broken and I see something in her eyes that tells me she will be okay. She will get over this awful loss. We will all get over this loss because that is what we do. That is the human spirit. We love and we lose and although it is excruciatingly painful, eventually we go on to love again.


We leave the church and head to the Irish wake, which will be a huge party. We are celebrating a life and this we do. There is drink and there is laughter, as stories are swapped much to the astonishment of the Portuguese, who have a different way of mourning their loved ones. But today although we are in Portugal, we are behaving like the Irish.


And then just before we all finish up and go home, there is a sing – song and once again I sing with my family. We sing together and as we sing the family bond is forged, the one which seems to remain no matter how much time and distance is put in its way.


Tomorrow, we will leave and head away in different directions, back to our own lives but somehow we will all have a little of the other inside of us and we will carry the memory of this wonderful celebration.


It is the stuff that will get us through and keep us alive and connected no matter what. It feels a lot like love and I am reminded of Rumi’s words:


“Love is the whole thing.

We are only pieces.”

The day after the funeral, as I sit on the plane making its way back to London, I feel closer than ever to the pieces of my family. It warms my aching heart.



The History of Meditation: Part 1 by Orna Ross

 Photo on 2013-09-04 at 21.13

Mediation is a very ancient practice. We have written evidence dating back to the Rig Veda, the oldest Indian texts, composed ten centuries before Christ but the shaman tradition, witches, witch doctors and artists who could access superhuman powers through ecstatic, trancelike states, dates back to the stone age and possibly further back into the reaches of pre-history.

Continue Reading →

Start Your Go Creative! Week. Exercise 12: Old Age

Why not make this week a creative one and try our task?

Meeting Old Age

IMG_0297Society has a lot of rules around “old age” and what it means. The term “old age pensioner” brings to mind a whole multitude of images around what it means to be old in this world. Continue Reading →

Carnival, A Reason To Celebrate Life by Kira Kenley

31 Kira Kenley shares her creative dilemmas and decisions every Friday. You can read her earlier posts here


On The Road With My Pan Sister Jaki

Carnival is just about upon us and I prepare with Miguel for what will be a busy but fun weekend. There is much work to do to get the show on the road and in addition there are social events to attend. This carnival is as much about socializing as music making. I am getting closer to the West Indies tradition and falling deeper in love with this colourful culture.

Continue Reading →

Oprah Winfrey (Media Mogul): Why I Meditate

Oprah Winfrey (b: 1954) is an award-winning American media mogul, philanthropist and TV presenter who has entertained, enlightened and uplifted millions of viewers and readers for more than two decades.



For me, meditation reorders the natural flow of life. Everybody has a flow or stream of consciousness that allows all things to move without resistance. Decisions come easily, things fall into place, and there’s no conflict. You’re vibing with life ’cause you’re in the flow.

Hopefully, we’ve all had glimpses of that way of being. How do you hold on to it? Practice consciously making space for the FLOW to show itself. Meditation is a way to get you there.

My first attempts years ago were start-and-stop, and I kept thinking, “I must be doing this wrong, ’cause my thoughts are speeding up rather than slowing down.” “Let’s meditate” felt like an invitation for my mind to go whirly-dirly. The chatter and thoughts were incessant; the more I tried to concentrate on a mantra or my breath, the louder and crazier the thoughts. Like CRAY-CRAY crazy (flying elephants and birds with toes, to name a few).

That happened every time for about the first week. When I stopped fighting the thoughts — let them be, come and go, didn’t resist, and didn’t TRY to do anything or have any expectation — it gradually got easier.

I’ve since learned that the more stressed we are, the more forceful the chatter. It’s like energy being released through the noise of your mind. Stay with it. With practice, like developing a muscle, your ability to BE STILL and BE ONE with the STILLNESS will come.

I’m telling you, you have to be willing to do this for yourself. Otherwise you can’t say, ‘Oh, I just wanted to,’—a woman did this to me once. I recommended meditation and she said, ‘Oh, I did that. I went in the closet. I spent 20 minutes in there. Nothing happened.’

I believe in meditating in the tub with some very nice bath products. Origins Ginger Bath is one I use a lot. However, you can do it however you want to do it. You can do it however you choose to do it. You can sit in the chair, you can sit on the floor, you can sit in the window, you can sit in the tub. I give myself at least ten minutes every day in some form of meditation. I happen to like the tub.

My life is better when I get still regularly. Call it meditation or call it quiet time — doesn’t matter. The benefits are the same. If you stay with the practice, it’s like developing spiritual muscle. I promise you will become less stressed, more focused.

So, just start there, wherever you are, and you will be surprised by the discipline that comes from doing it on a regular basis, how your life begins to unfold for you differently. I call it “centering up for myself.”

Start Your Go Creative! Week. Exercise 11: Carnival

Why not make this week a creative one and try our task?


Start Your Go Creative! Week

This weekend means Carnival if you are anywhere near Notting Hill, in London.

To give everyone a chance to get into a carnival humour the usual Monday post is being posted a few days earlier…

Continue Reading →

Just The Two Of Us by Kira Kenley

30 Kira Kenley shares her creative dilemmas and decisions every Friday. You can read her earlier posts here

Just The Two Of Us

Funds are low low low in the Kira Kenley bank. This is the least money I have had since I was a student and I am scared. Truly scared.

Continue Reading →

Inspiration Meditation: Presence, Practice and Process by Orna Ross

Inspiration Meditation 3 p'sMeditation As Practice

 Making meditation a practice means doing whatever you need to do to inhabit this free, open and unconditioned experience — your creative consciousness.

That may – for most of us does – mean a cross-legged session on a cushion once or twice a day but the act of sitting, and the ritual deployed there, is just a container: the discipline within which the freedom can flourish, the action that shows our everyday, thinking mind that we’re serious about letting it go for a while.

Continue Reading →

Start Your Go Creative! Week. Exercise 10: Soul Food

Why not make this week a creative one and try our task?

Soul Food

Go Creative! Food

 Food glorious food!

The food we eat, and how and where we eat it is such a big part of the society in which we live.

Restaurants line our streets and when at home there are thousands of books written offering a multitude of recipes to bring our own cooked “meals” to life.

Continue Reading →