Tag Archives: music

A Sing-Along for This Season

Marking the seasons with music.
Reclaiming myself through music

In late July, I announced my newly renamed page, “Reclaiming Mary”, was coming soon. Like a shot, I set off to work on redesigning and redefining my page. With my daughter by my side, we discussed issues like readability, content, and site design. She wrote posts and created backup files of all my old “Transitioning Mom” posts. I ordered new business cards and created order out of chaos in my filing cabinets and my newly repurposed schoolroom. Busy work kept me busy and kept from the most important task: WRITING.

Fueled with excuses like, “I’m not done redesigning the blog” and  “I should take care of that hangnail, right now!” I absolved myself of writing. Time, when spent delaying duty, is not my friend. Enthusiasm morphs into fear when the voices of self-doubt and perfectionism (my ever faithful demons) begin to sing their familiar songs, “Oh, that page looks bad. Really bad.” “Who will want to read this?” “Do you even know what you are doing?”

Far too easily, I stepped away from the keyboard and allowed other tasks to steal my neatly carved out writing time.

Late last week, as I walked around the yard and mulled over what I needed to do to the page to make it “perfect”, I heard a (reasonable) little voice inside my head say, “There is rarely a perfect time to get married, have a baby, or go on the adventure trip of a lifetime, but the world keeps spinning and few regret the leap.” I realized then I needed to jump in the pool again.

Thankfully, before any voice of procrastination derailed  my internal pep-talk, the fabulous Ruth, of Cranium Crunches, suggested a “Sing Along” post to our blogging FB group. The directions were simple: post 4 or 5 songs (with lyrics because sing-alongs are great exercises for the brain) that reflect my life as it is, right now. Music, I believe, weaves moments of our lives together, creating a fabric of memories captured in song. More often than not, a song flashes me back to college when my best friend and I sang about “the boys of summer”, or suddenly “sitting on the dock of the bay” with my husband years ago, or dancing once again at the farmer’s market with my little “brown-eyed girl”. Music provides the song track to our mental scrapbooks, becoming another character in our life’s play. This particular prompt has challenged me to be in the moment–this moment– and capture where and who I am today, in this season of life. In music and in life, this is a good season and this prompt, I decided, created the ideal foundation for me to introduce Reclaiming Mary.

Won’t you sing along with me?

DAY 1 by Matthew West

Last December, I was in a bad car accident. Though I had no broken bones and only a few bruises, my primary injury was significant. The impact caused my airbags to deploy with a force that simultaneously saved me from further injury and gave me my 4th concussion in a decade’s time. At the hospital, I secretly reasoned with myself that I had recovered “just fine” previously, and the ER doc released me after the tests showed no bleeding in the brain and I could answer the date and name the current president (or something like that. Honestly, I don’t remember.) It took a few days before the full effects of my brain injury started to manifest. Thankfully, Ruth, who has made brain health her life’s mission after suffering her own traumatic brain injury (TBI), got online with me and started coaching me in my recovery. Little did I know things would and did get tougher before they started to get better. “Reclaiming Mary” has taken on both literal and figurative meanings as my TBI has changed my life in many ways. However, unlike my memory and sometimes my speech,  Matthew West makes my vision for this day and every day forward abundantly clear.

Landslide by Stevie Nicks

Last spring, when I graduated my second born from high school, the homeschooling job I began 18 years ago came to an end. With my older daughter back in Missouri for her senior year in college and my younger daughter blissfully happy at our local community college, their daily need for mama has waned. However, this is still a season of transition for all of us. I’m still mom, shipper of care packages, receiver of late night texts, and last minute editor of papers. And, while I am in the process of reclaiming me, this song is still one of my favorite anthems about motherhood and life’s seasons, as I wrote about here.

I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz

Including our time before marriage, my husband and I are fast approaching 3 decades together. (Yes, we started dating when I was 5.) Before children, it was easier to keep our eyes focused on each other and tend our relationship, always making time to share and listen to each other as well as carve out time for a weekend get-away, keeping the spice fresh.  Even when the children were small, we kept “us” a priority, knowing the dangers children and their uncanny ability to suck the life out of marriage can bring. As our children got older, evenings and weekends were filled with extra-curricular activities, homework, and home maintenance projects in addition to our many other “must do’s.” Like so many, our marriage has gone through more ebbs and flows while raising a family than the great Mississippi River. And, like that great river, we are still here, now flowing into new territory. Marriage in mid-life and with adult children is a new adventure with a familiar friend. With newly found time to share and listen and even enjoy a weekend get-away and more, this is our season of rediscovering and reclaiming each other.

Burning Gold by Christina Perri

The subtitle of “Reclaiming Mary” is “The Adventures of a Midlife Renewal.” I am jumping into this season with abandon. I am embracing work projects and reconnecting with friends and discovering new adventures and creative outlets. I scour my Groupon emails, Pinterest, and Meet-up groups for new things to try and am forcing myself outside my comfort zone. Though I am perhaps busier than I have been in years, I feel so very alive as I reclaim my time as mine and reconnect with old dreams while embracing new ones. These winds are most certainly carrying change.

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head – BJ Thomas

This was my very favorite song when I was little. Every time it came on, I turned up the volume on my small round yellow transistor radio until the speaker crackled. I didn’t care. I knew the song by heart and always sang along. In many ways, this song brings full-circle meaning to “Reclaiming Mary.”  In reclaiming myself, I am revisiting who I was, rediscovering forgotten interests and beliefs and, though I have changed in some areas, one thing has remained constant; I am an eternal optimist.

So, there is the music of my life. The songs that have been woven into the fabric of my memories, marking this season as the season I began Reclaiming Mary.

What are the songs that are marking this season in your life today?

Unwritten

Staring at the blank page before me...
Staring at the blank page before me…

Do you know the feeling when a song you’ve sung along with forever suddenly becomes your new anthem, inspiring and igniting a flame inside? I do, and I have. Often. For as long as I can remember, music has been my favorite “tool” to sift through my emotions, in good times and bad.

Kenny Loggins, “This Is It” was my go-to song during the rough patches in high school as well as my celebratory, and uncertain, senior year. On occasion, Kenny and I still spend time together.

Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” soothed me through more than one angst (read: anger) filled break up in my youth, as did Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” (Thank you, Gloria, for putting to tune the break-up mantra of women everywhere.)

Post college and early in my career, it was U2. Bono, with his beautiful tenor voice, found a place in my heart that made it OK not to have found what I was looking for…not that I even knew what that was in my early 20’s, or late 20’s for that matter. Heck, I’m still figuring it out, which is likely why “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, “Streets Have No Name”, and “Running To Stand Still” continue to top my playlist.

For several years, when disease spread through my body and led me in and out of operating rooms, I regularly blared one of two songs as I drove to doctors’ offices: Carrie Underwood’s, “Jesus Take The Wheel” or Christina Aguilera’s, “Fighter.” Both songs reminded me I was (and am) stronger than the sum of my parts.

Woven through my life during the last 3+ decades is, of course, “Landslide” by Stevie Nicks. I first heard it on a record player, my brother’s. Then, a cassette played on my boombox, followed by my Sony Walkman as I ran, my mp3 player and most often now, my phone.  Its meaning changes with the stages of my life, as I wrote about when I cursed Budweiser last year.

Over the years, I can’t say I’ve proactively sought out these tunes, the songs that have become bookmarks in my life, but they’ve found me. Always, just when I needed them.

The other day, on the drive home, it happened again. I heard the introductory notes and knew the song in an instant. I turned up the radio. Alone, I sat at the long red light and began to sing along, as I’ve done many times before. But, something was different this time. As the sun gently made its decent behind the Rocky Mountains, the lyrics rose up and washed over me. I stopped singing and focused on the lyrics, not just the words, but their message. Unexpectedly, I heard new meaning in the familiar melody and felt fresh inspiration for this season of my life. The setting sun, the blank page, the words on my lips; it all came together in that moment to place a frame around this transition. I cranked the volume, rolled down the windows, and sang until my lungs might burst. (Sorry, fellow drivers.) In that moment, I embraced the blank page before me and to living with arms wide open; I am the author of my story and no one else can write it.

Sitting there, Natasha Beningfield sang– no spoke– to me, to my heart, and to the blank page before me. My next chapter is still unwritten. Wonderfully unwritten. But, I am picking up my pen to speak the words in my heart because I am not afraid. (OK, maybe just a little, but I’ll turn up the music a little louder.)

Are there any songs you turn to during times of change? Please share below, because I love discovering new music!

(Updated 11/4: So, what should appear in my inbox just two days after I wrote this post, but this writing challenge by The Daily Post at WordPress.com: “Weekly Writing Challenge: Moved by Music.”  For once in my life, I was a day (really, two) early rather than a day late!)