Monday, 4 March 2013

We Made It

Once upon a time there was a girl named Kyla.

She lived an ordinary life with good friends and a happy – if occasionally slightly unusual – family. She went to University and met a boy; she studied Psychology and Deaf Studies and dreamt of becoming a teacher.

But life rarely works out according to plan.

While at University Kyla’s stepdad Dave died unexpectedly after a short, but brutal, illness. It was a huge shock and life-changing moment even if she wasn’t fully aware of it at the time. Her hard-working step-dad had been a huge part of forming Kyla’s character - always working to instil motivation and a considerable work ethic.  His sudden death at an age when he should have been starting to think about reaping the reward of his life spent working made Kyla re-think many aspects of her own future.

Determined to grab life by the balls Kyla graduated with a 2:1 degree only a year after the death of Dave. She spent a little time exploring New Zealand with money inherited from her beloved Grandma then returned, expecting her degree, intern work experience and voluntary work to ensure her a good job.

But the country Kyla returned to was changed. High levels of redundancies, increased cost of living and lack of entry level opportunities meant that Britain was not a good place to be a graduate. Time and time again Kyla was rejected for jobs due to a lack of experience that the public sector was in no hurry to provide. She was also ditched by the boyfriend and was sad for a while.... until she realised she could still be awesome without him. Eventually Kyla managed to find a job she loved working with children that she adored and she was happy.

However, this country appears determined to ensure that those who are highly qualified shy away from childcare. The pay for support staff in schools is horrendous and if you are newly graduated and dreaming of the day you can afford to live somewhere other than your old bedroom it’s nigh on impossible to live on. Kyla started to look for other work and courses but found nothing she could afford to do. She started to feel despondent and to give up on ever achieving anything in life. The sense that there had to be something more to life than this – something that had been developing ever since the death of Dave – became an uncontrollable itch.

That was when Kyla’s life was hit by an explosion of colour. A man, different to any other man she’d ever known, swept into her life like a whirlwind.

This man was like nothing she’d ever experienced. He sent her flowers before their second date and turned up at her house with boxes of cookies, picnic hampers, profiteroles, wine and steak. He serenaded her with guitar and double bass (a particular weakness...). If she cried he wiped away her tears with a handkerchief and she found it the single most endearing moment of her life.

Mr P changed her life with the ferocity like a hurricane and – for once – she found herself giving in. From being cautious, reticent and quietly alarmed, gradually Kyla found herself falling deeper and deeper in love with this crazy, sweet tornado of a man. When he proposed just outside the castle in Disneyland, Paris on their first anniversary it felt like perfection, their wedding exactly one year later was the frosting on the delicious cupcake.

Life wasn’t all plain sailing though. The itch to do something – anything – had intensified in Kyla. Although she adored her job working with special needs children she had become disillusioned with the lack of influence she held in her position and longed to do more.

That’s when Mr P first convinced her to give being a musician a go. She was wary but – not seeing any other options available – she agreed.

Her first show was the single most terrifying thing she had ever done. The weeks preceding it were filled with panic attacks, crises of confidence and constant tears. Somehow she survived the baptism of fire and threw herself into more no matter how scared she felt.

Unfortunately, in this business, there is no probation and sometimes those who are experienced forget what it took to get that way.  Kyla found it hard to deal with the constant rejections, the negative comments and the occasional outright hostility that working in the entertainment industry brings and her confidence took a nose dive.

Those who have followed this blog regularly knows what happened next.

Kyla accepted a job on a new show, worked incredibly hard and built her confidence to a stage where she finally felt OK in herself again. She quit her day job and got ready to throw herself into touring.

Then the inevitable happened... over a voicemail.

Broke, beaten down and rootless, Kyla didn’t know what to do.

But this time she wasn’t beaten. She knew that no matter how bad she felt in this moment she was going to get through.

That was when Kyla first picked up her red lipstick. She thought through everything she’d suffered over the past few years, she thought how much she’d love to crawl under a duvet.

Then she opened her lipstick and put it on.

Since that moment – almost 4 months ago Kyla has made it her mission to throw herself at life, whether life liked it or not.

She started endlessly promoting herself and Mr P as a musical duo, determined that no matter what they could always rely on each other. Their relationship grew and developed to a stage where they knew they could take on anything. They worked hard together touring the country, spending hours cooped up in an old Ford Transit travelling from gig to gig. There was frustration, exhaustion and endless doubt but they carried on working every single day, often performing for nothing in order to hone their act.

Kyla started writing, trying to post a blog as often as she could. She grew to know people in the vintage community and revelled in this new world. She tried Burlesque classes and presented a radio show. She was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis – a condition that causes great pain and makes her extremely tired and coped with it the way she copes with everything. She put on her lipstick.

Finally Kyla had learnt that fear is nothing.

Everyone in life has bad moments, some are worse than others. Some people suffer greatly, others are lucky. The only thing you can control in this life is how you react to misfortune.

And the only thing standing in your way is you.

Just over a week ago, at 7am one cold grey morning. Kyla and Mr P found themselves driving down to Brighton. They were more nervous than they had been in a long long time. After an endless journey they found themselves in a tiny cramped studio, singing to two complete strangers at close quarters. After just 40 minutes it was all over and they travelled home hardly daring to hope.

Sometimes life is cruel, it gives you more than you think you can possibly handle. But it’s always for a reason, and you will always be led to exactly where you need to be.

For Kyla and Mr P that place is Madeira. Working as fully fledged musicians within an amazing hotel. The place they will be flying to in only three weeks.

Life has come very far for that scared little girl trembling on stage. Now she is ready, they are ready.

And they will take on life together.

For my explosion of colour. You make everything. I love you.

Mrs P

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