Last week the My Heart Sings Tuesday night women’s circle celebrated its second birthday. Two years of weekly meet-ups to stop, breathe and sing. Two years of meeting passionate, big-hearted and fun women from across London and sharing tea, snacks, stories and giggles.

There’s plenty of big stuff to look back at – how our sound has developed, the events we’ve sung at since that big flashmob at the Royal Festival Hall for International Women’s Day last year, the protests we’ve taken part in and added music to, the time 11 of us got in a minibus and went to Wales for a music festival.

On Tuesday, as we celebrated with cake, I chose to draw attention to some of the details of how this group of women (and children) who were mostly strangers to each other function together as a singing community. While acknowledging that not everything’s always perfect, a list of things I’m grateful for wrote itself as I spoke:

The way that new singers are noticed and made a bee-line for in the tea-break, usually by Karen, Nutan, Lucy or Ama.

The easy banter and kind support from the lovely Levinia and Patrick at reception at our community centre.

The washing up of dozens of tea cups, including those left over by the Over 55’s group who use our room before us.

How the tables, chairs and sofas are moved into a circle and magically slotted back at the end, in the way we know the Over 55’s like it.

The way that Sara has watered the sometimes-flagging array of houseplants in our room every week.

The tea made for each other and the snacks brought to share, ranging from home-made cakes (often still warm, from Ali!) to sliced fruit to a huge freshly baked focaccia on one memorable evening.

The way that the children who come become part of the group, sharing cuddles with, or offered snacks by, their dozens of ‘aunties’. And teaching us to ‘whip, whip/nae nae’ in the tea break.

The hugs offered to those who have had a rubbish day or who are feeling fragile. The candles lit for birthdays.

The songs shared with the group – from countries of birth, childhood or school. Especially the songs Sade writes.

The curious and often generous chats across differences of age, race, country of birth, sexual orientation, profession – which sometimes feel a bit clunky or effortful, but can bring learning for us all.

The way that lifts or accompaniment to the bus stop are offered, especially when dark or cold.

These things may seem small. They are in fact Little-Big things, which matter in a city where the fast pace leaves us feeling constantly anxious about the next thing to do, and where so many feel isolated. We can weave a thread of connection, patch-working together moments of comfort, understanding, laughter and hope.

A Little-Big thank you, to all you amazing women and children – whether you’ve sung with us once or every week, wherever you are now. ‘Little’ because I know you’re just being you and you’d say it’s no big deal. ‘Big’ because you just being you brings light and warmth to the world – and the power of that cannot be understated.

 

Spire made of candles - low view

“Whether we learn how to love ourselves and others will depend on the presence of a loving environment. Self-love cannot flourish in isolation.” – Bell Hooks
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