The Gift of Connection… Comes in Handy
In 2012 I was invited to speak at a TEDx conference in Groningen. The talk was entitled ‘The Gift of Connection… Comes in Handy‘ and I played at the end of the talk.
Eight years ago I lost my hand in a car accident. Up until then, for many many years, I’d been playing the guitar.
Music had always been a vital force in my life. I’d played countless live performances with other musicians and often on my own. I had two albums out in the UK. But, to be quite honest, I forgot what I enjoyed about it. I felt that I was on a treadmill, trying to keep up with the music scene.
And I felt pretty dull and lifeless. So for pretty much a year, I put music aside. And I was in New Zealand and I had developed other skills, other sources of income.
Then one morning, getting a lift to work, the car that I was in hit black ice, skidded, hit a tree. My collar bone and my ribs were broken… And my hand was so damaged that it had to be amputated.
A phone call from a policeman, the next day in hospital, told me I was lucky it wasn’t my head and that the passenger side of the roof had pretty much caved in.
I was lucky to be alive.
However, I suddenly felt this huge grief for my lost hand. I felt shame. I wanted to hide. I felt like a freak. I felt deformed.
I wondered if I was to blame. You know that school of thought that says we create our own reality… It made me wonder what I could have done differently.
However, some part of me knew that it wasn’t what happened to me – but how I dealt with it now that would make the difference.
So lying there in hospital I knew that if I was to get through this, through the phantom pains and the grief, that first of all I had to let the grief out, without resistance. I had to do the housework on those emotions.
So I asked them to bring my hand to me, which they did, in a very nice little box – and I touched it. I said goodbye. And I sent it off with a white rose. And then the grief really came and this howl, this very deep primal sound, this howl came out of my body and I shook. It was amazing. Very powerful.
Well, over time, these waves of grief and the phantom pains I experienced diminished. I had homeopathy for two weeks which supported that whole process. And five weeks from when the accident happened, the phantom pains and the grief diminished and went for good. And that was that.
Some time later, I went and visited the tree that we’d hit. And I noticed that it too had lost a limb. Well it was Winter and I felt that I was going through my Winter. I felt like I’d been pruned.
However, I remember looking at this tree and seeing that it was still alive and it was carrying on with life. And it was so beautiful and I knew that, for this tree, after winter lay the hope of Spring and it made me wonder what my Spring could possibly look like.
I wanted to feel joy again
I knew I had a choice: either to focus on what would bring me joy, what would bring me new life, or on what would keep me down. Well, I wanted to feel joy again. I wanted to feel that ‘yes’ to life. And I found that the more I listened inside to what that joy could be like, the more I wanted to immerse myself in music once again.
So eventually my spring day did come. I was out walking and I started humming a melody. I started playing with some words. And I heard for the first time how possibly the guitar could be played.
So I got home, I retuned my guitar and one hour later I’d written my first song on the guitar since the accident 18 months before. It was great. I was back to playing music.
During that time also a friend asked me to show her some chords and rhythms on the guitar and a lady asked me to give her a voice lesson. Well, I’d never taught before and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. And I didn’t realise how much more I had to give musically, until I was asked to share it.
I started teaching more people. And the more that I did, the more energised and alive I felt and the more joyful things I wanted to do. By honouring my own connection that led me to help others through music and in turn gave me so much back. That was such a true gift in my life.
I’ve now taught in schools. I’ve run voice workshops. I teach one on one. I teach one to many. I’ve been teaching recently a young girl with just three fingers on each hand, which is a total joy and a privilege. And I’ve since got another three albums out in the UK.
Music has opened my life
Music has opened up my life in a way that I could never have imagined. I wouldn’t say that I’m glad that this happened. But had it not, I would not have rediscovered that connection with myself, with my essential nature, and therefore the other gifts that I had to share and didn’t realise. And therefore I wouldn’t turn the clock back for anything.
So what helped?
A proper grieving process certainly. A bit of homeopathy. And most definitely the love and the support and the connection I had through my friends and my family network. I couldn’t have done it without them.
So I believe we all have a story – and that’s my story.
Love song to Life
My very first song I wrote on the guitar after 18 months was called ‘In the Company of You‘. It’s basically my love song to life, for life itself. For really the blessing that being alive really is – because it can really change very quickly.
People have asked me many times how can you play the guitar. And I reply ‘with love’. All you need is love.
I’ve been asked many times why didn’t I give up. And it’s not the case that I didn’t give up; it’s more a case that music didn’t give up on me.
I understand now how music is my connection with myself. And therefore my world. It’s my essential nature. It’s who I am.
It’s my vitality. It’s my joy. It’s my inspiration. It’s the life that breathes through me. And in that sense, it’s my innate gift to share.
Why should a change in physicality prevent our expression, which i believe is our essential nature, our birthright?
I believe to honour, recognise and express what we hold inside of us. It’s a very creative and very vital life-affirming energy.
Watch the video of my talk at TEDx – here