Ktown Choir an open Letter to my Mom

Mom, I joined the choir.

You know that all the years I was in school and beyond I was in the choir. I really love to sing. I remember singing along to the radio as early as 3 or 4. And of course I was dancing too. I just couldn’t help myself. Really, I am not kidding.

I began singing in church and doing solos when I was really young, now I think about it. I was probably seven or eight when I sang “Away in a Manger” my first solo at church.

Joining the choir here in Ktown was initially an attempt to improve my Serbian. But, I found I am just filled with joy that I can sing again. The people are so helpful, and I am thrilled to meet new people. The whole choir thing has made me feel so much more normal. I do fear my stupidity with the Serbian language will get old and they will soon tire of helping me. Crossing my fingers I am not overly needy.

Here in Serbia, often I feel like only half of me. Slowly, all of me is beginning to show up.

Nerves strike me often, and I make stupid mistakes while I am singing. I think I will feel at home soon. I practice at home with you tube videos when possible. Some of the songs move so fast that it is a bit of a challenge to read the text in Cyrillic and sing along. All this, while reading the music. But it is good for me. It stretches my brain.

Below is one of my favorite songs in Cyrillic… Just so you can see what I am working with. Here is the photo credit: http://vaspitaci.blogspot.com/2014/01/blog-post_8605.html

 

When I first walked into the choir room, they were already singing a song. I must tell you, I was stunned, it was in English. Immediately, I was a bit bummed! I came to the class for Serbian!! But it was only the first page and then it was onto Latin.  🙂   Soon enough we were off to a another song and it was in Serbian.

I am really enjoying the singing as well as learning traditional songs that speak to the soul with their beauty and culture. I can’t help but smile when I hear the music for the first time. It is just gorgeous! Again, I feel like a tourist in an exotic land with so much beauty, and I get to take part in the action!! Freaking cool!!

Me with mascara running! Photo credit: http://bajo-el-mar.tumblr.com/post/17137369879/about-to-spam-you-all-big-time-with-dogs-available

Foreigner Follie Choir edition….I am pretty sure last week, I went to class with mascara all over my eye. The Munchkin (who is almost three now, is obsessed with snow and the idea of snow ball fights!) had thrown some snow at me when we were walking home from helping out at an English class. I though nothing of it and dropped her . Then, I went to choir. No one said anything. So maybe I am wrong…? But when I got home after choir practice and looked in the mirror, I looked like I had a black eye. LOL Munchkin- 1 Mom- 0

Learning songs it is a challenge. I still don’t know what the words mean. That makes memorization a bit more challenging! But I do love a challenge!

I am a little fearful I won’t be good enough. That my mistakes will be too much. Our choir is very good and the director is amazing! I was a bit shocked as this is a small town. But, I hope they keep me. Even if I am not good enough to sing in the upcoming events that would be ok.  This choir is feeding my soul. I really love it.

We are learning old Serbian classics, and they are really really beautiful. Just like the people.  Serbian people are just amazing. Check out the link below to hear one of these great classics. Hymna Sveti Sava

I love you Mom, miss you lots. XOXO

Ted Talks Tuesday. For Women and a Better World

One of the purposes of my life is to encourage and empower women. I am finding Ted Talks particular helpful for me, and maybe you will too.

I was incredibly moved by this  Talk by Manal al-Sharif. She is the women who filmed herself driving in Saudi Arabia. She has a lot of great quotes.
The points that most struck me are these.

A country is not free unless the women are free. 

This is so true, and like in her example, it is not just about law it is about cultural traditions and beliefs. Often I feel like I live in a Muslim country. And, in fact, Serbia was ruled by Muslims Turks for 400 years. The hangover of that occupation and oppression has left a serious mark. I feel it daily. Women must be very strong here. They must speak up for themselves and know their worth. Sadly, many do not and it continuing the oppression of women.

It is not only about the system, it is about the women. 

There is a quote I have seen here and there, “What you allow will continue”. It is not only about the people who appear to be in control. It is about everyone. If you put up with bullying and believe what is said, you allow yourself to be made less. It is your fault for not standing up for yourself, and it is a VERY bad example for your children and the rest of society. Everyone benefits from a strong smart society of Men And Women.

You get stronger only if you stick up for yourself and others. Being quiet and keeping the peace not only harms you but also the entire society. If you don’t put forth effort for change, nothing will happen.

Her last statement is the key to it all. “Who do you think is more difficult to face, governments or oppressive societies?”

It is obviously the societies, There are always norms or beliefs held to be true that if you do not heed them there are cultural sanctions. I feel like I fight them daily here, but I am different because this is not my natural society. That gives me freedoms others do not have. It also gives me a different view of what is right or proper. Fighting cultural norms are not so hard for me as for women here.

There are some freedoms in being a foreigner, but there are also some larger constraints. If and when I speak out about things that are wrong in my new society, it may be seen as a mean or unfair critique of that society. But if I don’t speak up, I won’t know if it is or not. I also won’t know if what I say may help empower or enlighten others to things that may not be seen as clearly as me. There is a better than average chance I will speak up if I can speak in English. I am not terribly afraid to rock boats. I like the way they rock most of the time. 🙂

In my humble opinion, I think that women need to question the limitations put on them. Look at norms with logic. Think, really think about the things you feel are stopping you. It may just be yourself or an idea in the society and nothing more. Take the initiative for change. Trust me, I know that I am no one of great importance. I am just a women who wants a better life for herself, her family and her friends, and for the rest of Serbia. The little steps we take can turn out to be big ones. You just never know.

If you think this applies only to women in eastern countries you are far from the truth. There are so many things that need to change all over the world. Please apply these ideas to your own life for a bit of change for the good. 🙂

It took 100 women of their society to  make a change in Saudi Arabia. Only 100! imagine what just a few can do in yours.

Please watch this Ted Talk. You may just find it inspiring too!

Please share your thoughts, questions, or any comments you have. Dialogue is enlightening.  🙂