A career twist, like a plot twist, sends a life in a new direction. I once promised myself I’d  grasp opportunities as they presented. That was forty years ago. You’d think I’d have changed. But apparently not.

Career twist with SOS Choir
Career twist with Spirit of the Streets Choir

My life was coasting along pleasantly, as the lives of older people often do. Not much disturbed my equilibrium or caused me to think in new patterns. I talked about my new novel, but was not fully engaged. I facilitated a few writing groups. And I wrote my blog.

Career twist from nowhere

Several weeks ago, an opportunity presented itself out of left field.

I said, ‘Yes’, as you do. And now I have an exciting new project. This career twist builds on what I’ve  done in a lifetime of career changes and experiences. There are also challenges that I have not previously encountered.

Spirit of the Streets Choir has invited me on the next stage of an ambitious narrative research project. At the end of six months, we will produce a book and a DVD of the stories of the members of the choir.

Bernard Carney
Bernard Carney at a rehearsal of the SOS Choir

Singer, songwriter, guitarist and entertainer, Bernard Carney and vendors of The Big Issue Magazine started the choir in 2007. Bernard has led it ever since.

The choir welcomes anyone who wants to sing. It rehearses at St Alban’s Hall, Beaufort Street Highgate from 1.30 to 3.30 pm. each Tuesday, and performs regularly

In May this year, I wrote about the Sing for Health Concert. Eight choirs, including the Spirits of the Streets Choir participated. You can read the post here. I also ‘liked’ the Facebook Page of the choir. I’d commented once or twice. That engagement led to the career twist of my life. I’ve gone from all but fully ‘retired’ (whatever that means) to well and truly occupied. I feel very blessed.

Not cut out for a choir

My work includes attending choir rehearsals every week. John comes too. A major challenge is that we attempt to sing. Having been told in primary school that my voice was like an old crow’s, I’m a reluctant singer. But I love singing and the choir is a joy. John sings much better than I.

Singing is not a talent I have required in my life. I have decided to sing as well as I can. Imagine this scenario. John and I, sitting up in bed with our morning coffee, singing along to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.  You can listen to Leonard Cohen on Youtube here. We do not sound like Leonard Cohen.

So here I am, full of enthusiasm for my unexpected career twist, looking forward to being part of the choir and a fascinating project.


I’d love to read your comments.

20 replies on “Career twist at eighty explained”

  1. Look forward to working with you, Maureen, on this exciting Spirit of the Streets Choir project.
    Christine Choo

    1. And I with you, Christine. I’ve known about your wonderful work as an historian for many years, and never thought I’d be involved in a project with you as a member of a team managing a project I worked on. I look forward to our association and the deepening of our friendship.

      1. So looking forward to the outcome of your writing Maureen. Having been part of the choir, I too came about my involvement in a career twist. The choir is so inspirational and rewarding on so many levels and I know you will create something fantastic working with Christine and the choir. Miss my Tuesday afternoon singing – although I too do not sound like Leonard Cohen. Good luck with your project – I can’t wait to see the outcome.

        1. Thanks, Karen. Sad your career has led you away from the SOS Choir, but I’m sure you will continue to support the choir. I hope the project lives up to your expectations. Working with Robert, Irene and Christine will be enjoyable. Christine is an inspiration and very supportive.

  2. Maureen, how exciting! A wonderful twist of destiny indeed. You are a born story teller, and I’m sure you’ll do this spirited choir justice. As for singing, it is very good for the soul. And after all, even Leonard doesn’t sing so well any more, but is still a riveting performer. And Hallelujah (sung by him) is one song I want at my wake.

    1. Oh, Christina. I hope everyone knows that you want Leonard’s Halleluja sung at your wake. May that be a very long time off! Yes, it is wonderful twist to have a new writing-related project. What fun and how lucky am I?

    1. Thanks, Melinda. I’m very excited about the project, too. I hope to hear you and Rosemary talking about the collection of the stories in your books. The difference is that most of these stories will be written by participants in the choir. I’m facilitating some writing groups over the next few months.

      1. Wow! Would love to be a fly on the wall in one of those workshops. I would love to something similar with people who have sought asylum in Australia. I’m currently writing the story of one man, but would love to facilitate more to write their own.

        1. I’m looking forward to the workshops, Melinda. But slightly apprehensive because there is no real indication yet about how many will participate. A good challenge. And I do feel blessed to be involved. Writing on’s own story or part of it is empowering and healing.

  3. Maureen, what a serendipitous plot ‘twist’ to your life and I’m sure you’ll more than do it justice! I can’t wait to read the stories that come from it. xx

    1. I hope I’m up to the new challenge, Louise. The stories will be amazing. I can’t believe that one can be invited to be part of such a project by liking a Facebook page! Must do more of that.

    1. Thanks, Rae. Yes, I’ve seen some pretty interesting programs, and written about a couple of them on blogs. My appointment as project manager of the writing of the stories still amazes me. It brings together so many of my interests.

  4. This morning four old men are meeting in Lesmurdie. One of us is 84, the other turned 80 two days ago and the other two have just begun our 80th year. We’re starting an Octopus Club…..The two-day old octopus is writing the story of his life—especially for his grandkids. We tell stories all the time—never boring ones. We love listening to each other’s stories plus the stories we tell each other about people we know and love. As genuine octopi–we want stories not sermons; we want to keep learning the lessons of life from stories. If only Ms P.Hanson sat down and listened to others’ stories she would —or at least might–become a good,active and energetic and wise P.M. Two of us octopi are in SOS Choir. Maureeen Helen, you’re doing a wonderful thing !!

    1. Hello, Harry. Thank you for commenting on my post. We met at the choir on Tuesday. I love stories and helping others to write theirs. I’m looking forward to being part of the Spirit of the Streets Choir and hearing and writing stories. Sharing stories makes us truly human. Congratulations on the new Octopus Club, and on your memoir writing ventures. I’m looking forward to reading yours. See you on Tuesday.

  5. Hey, I’m Amelia’s Best friend Chiko, and this blog is amazing!!!! Amelia showed it to me!!

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