Weeks 44 and 45: On Songs and Stories

A tale of a woman finding her songs again...

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Life is one big story and stories envelope my life: the stories we recount about our youth, our family, our influences. I have always read. An only child living in a new town with a large library meant afternoons walking into the town centre, collecting an armful of books and retreating to my bedroom to read. I lost myself in the stories of others and recognised my story in many of the plots and characters. It amazes me that, in the ‘real’ world, we can never know our whole story or the whole story of others and I suppose books give us a wholeness of sorts that is unattainable elsewhere.

The stories we tell ourselves and tell others are only a version which changes over time. At times, I find certain stories can dominate my life: my duties, my strength, my apparently boundless energy. But they can mask other stories that exist that I often hide and need to acknowledge: the need for fun, the vulnerability, the tiredness, the desire to let someone else take responsibility for a while. But perhaps looking at our full story can be overwhelming, so we can only focus on key elements at any one time and so journaling or blogging can help us make sense of it, create some order and breathing space.

I am at a stage where the story is being tweaked. I am no longer defined as a mother – my children are more independent and my social time doesn’t have to always factor them in. I am accepting that my mother needs me more and instead of fighting a niggling resentment about this I am starting to move with this – accepting help from a befriending service, applying for attendance allowance, admitting that seeing someone age can be difficult. And I don’t want to be defined by my career. I teach a subject I love, I am surrounded by energetic, vibrant people of all ages. I love it but I am more than it – if my story centred on this in the main my stress levels would be through the roof!

So my story is being rewritten each day with the basic building blocks of the plot in place: it has a setting, a cast of key characters with new characters being welcomed more readily. The main character is still finding herself but it is an exciting process. Does she have any untold stories to tell? The main one is the one you are reading – that she is in a process of redefining her story and accepting that that story has many parts. It is a story of a woman who is starting to trust more and let down her guard: a woman who is much more accepting of herself.

Where do songs come into this? They are stories told in a multi-sensory way. So many songs have influenced me. My favourite album of all time is World Party ‘Goodbye Jumbo’ because it got me through a time when I wasn’t sure where my story would go, how safe it would be and whether it would have a happy ending. Other songs remind me of laughter – SL2 ‘On a Ragga Tip’ at the Crazy House in Liverpool, or my husband - Teenage Fanclub, or sadness at losing a friend – David Gray. The list goes on. In a Nick Hornby manner, they provide a soundtrack to our lives. In the next chapter of my story I would like to reclaim the songs again and explore some new ones.

So I have no song of my own to give you, but leave you with these words from World Party in a call to see the world as the amazing place it can be;

And if you listen now
You might hear
A new sound coming in
As an old one disappears
See the world in just one grain of sand
You better take a closer look
Don't let it slip right through your hand


Mother, wife, daughter, teacher...

Firmly stuck in the 'sandwich generation' category, I am 46 years old and looking to shake things up a bit! I am a teacher, which I love - but it takes over your life! A mother of three - two daughters, 16 and 15, a son aged 11. Wife to Simon for 19 years. Carer for rather eccentric mum, aged 89.


Go to the profile of Mark Cuddy
about 5 years ago
Very moving, very deep - loved it!
Go to the profile of Vanessa
about 5 years ago
Beautiful post, Jacqui! I know just what you mean about the soundtrack of life, and have been interested in how it has changed along with me. I remain in awe of your ability to flow with grace through a life busier than I can imagine, even if I'm not seeing all of the story. It's been inspiring to share your stories for a while.
Go to the profile of Fiona Dolben
about 5 years ago
this is beautifully thought out and written this is by far my favourite post of yours, x
Go to the profile of Chris Baréz-Brown
about 5 years ago
Super insightful Jacqui - the fact that our full story can be overwhelming so focusing on small steps is key. Acceptance is a wonderful thing. Big loving, Chris Xx
Go to the profile of Sarah-Kate Goodwin
about 5 years ago
What a beautiful post! I would love to hear a back to back soundtrack of your life Jacqui. I was really inspired by how you are just letting yourself flow with all the chapters of your life instead of resisting any. The key to a happy life I'm sure.