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  • Writer's pictureJulie Slim

Courage from the need to share

So many thoughts and feelings are whirling in my head since the tidal wave of this virus has crashed on the whole world, changing the way we live, die, and relate to one another. It has highlighted our vulnerabilities, revealed our strengths, stoked our creativity and united the world quickly and devastatingly in our struggle to tame this destructive wave.

I have been social distancing with my family since March 12. In my case, my isolation is not alone but with my family, which consists of my husband, Sani, my daughter, Victoria, Sani's mom, Cosette (affectionately known as Taita - grandma in Arabic), our cat Frankie, and Sani's brother, who lives nearby alone, and shares some meals with us occasionally. I have found myself spending more alone time than I normally do, glued to the computer reading or listening to the news on line, checking social media, an endless hole of clicks and going on long walks or bike rides. Once in a while, I emerge from my room to eat, cook, clean, and check in with everyone. I have spent a lot of time connecting or reconnecting with friends and family through phone calls, texting, whatsApp and Facebook, and I touch base with my sisters in New Jersey and my mother in New York on a daily basis, sometimes several times during the day.

Before this pandemic, I had longed for time to write more songs, expand my music theory knowledge and put it to practice, memorize the lyrics of all the songs I perform, organize my computer, closets and bookshelves, learn new instruments that had been gathering dust waiting for me to play them, like the ngoni that my friend Milton made me, or the ukulele that Sani got me for my birthday, or the compact keyboard and pad controller that my daughter, Kamal, gifted me for my birthday. Anyway, the list goes on and on. What is your wish list of things you had before corona? Have you started crossing off items on it since you've been homebound?

It is now March 28, and yesterday, for the first time, I spent an hour with my ngoni, a big chunk of it on retuning it, and I did actually learn an African song on it thanks to YouTube. What would we do without YouTube these days? I recorded it, and I plan to expand on it. That felt good. The one consistent activity that has crossed over in this time is singing. I still sing on a daily basis, and I have been recording some a cappella songs in three-part harmony, songs that I normally sing with the Threshold Choir, a volunteer organization that provides songs for comfort for people in life transitions. Appropriate, no? It's my way of keeping connected with my singing sisters of the Austin Chapter as well as giving back by sharing these songs with friends and family that might be comforted by my recordings.

You may be asking yourself at this point where does the courage in the title come from? In reality, this is very difficult for me, putting my raw thoughts out there for you to read and judge. That's where the courage comes in. I admire many of my friends who have been sharing themselves openly and vulnerably on social media, and so this blog for me is about making my fear of rejection a companion and going forward together honestly connecting and sharing. I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Today's inspirations: jazz/blues singer/songwriter Alberta Hunter. Check her out!

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