The healing powers of music

Sometime around 4 years old, I had one of those portable record players that looked like a small suitcase when you closed it up. I had a shoebox full of 45’s, these small records that usually carried only one hit song on it. I had others that would read me stories while I turned the pages of a book that went along with it, reminding me with a “chime” when to turn the page.

I loved that thing. I would spend hours in my room choosing my next record to determine my mood or help me to express what was already moving through me.

Before age 5 when my brother was born, I was an only child and  the main focus of my parents’ attention. I had dress up clothes, tons of stuffed toys and a big mirror to see myself in from head to toe. I would dress up, dance and sing and watch myself in the mirror in all of my playful glory. I became my own best friend.

As I grew I continued to lean into music. My dad would play Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, The Bee Gees, Carol King, The Steve Miller Band and Cat Stevens. It became the backdrop for travels around town and hanging out at family gatherings. When I would go to my grandparents’ I took my boombox with me and played my tapes over and over. One Christmas I received a walkman and took to headphones to create my magical realm all to myself while the world went on around me.

My aunts loved to sing. The piano would play, and I’d join in with memorized songs from classic musicals like Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music. My youngest aunt would take me driving around with her on various occasions and she would crank up the music, singing, using the steering wheel as a drum, the roof as her cymbal and the gear shift as her guitar strings, plucking away when the solo riff came along. 

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Music meant joy, but it also meant sorrow. In my teen years, there were songs that captured my feelings of heartbreak and longing for love, falling in love and acting out in crazy ways because of love. It named my rebellion against adults and the masses. Parties and high school dances resounded with songs that captured the times. The eloquence of music marked my growth and the passage of time in a way that went beyond words.

In my adult years I used music to calm my children. Lullabies and Raffi added playful lyrics to keep the energy lighthearted, and sleepy music to ease us into their bedtime routines. As they grew into young people, we would argue over music preferences and who would get to choose the genre for our outings. As I submitted to their preferences to keep them satisfied as we ran errands, eventually their music became mine. It became a way to bond with my kids, singing out loud together with the windows rolled down and the self consciousness with peers left back at school. 

Now that my kids have grown and I’m settling into homemaking in partnership with a wonderful man I plan to marry this summer, our music choices revolve around dinnertime. Setting the mood with jazz or Bossa Nova with candles lit and wine open on the table allows us to let go of the day’s activities and settle into ambiance to encourage connection and relaxation.

We’ve been homeschooling his 10 year old twins throughout the pandemic, doing yoga in the morning with meditative music then moving onto their schoolwork with Baroque to stimulate their minds and help them maintain focus.

I’m preparing the playlist for our wedding and I can’t help but feel like I’m storytelling. Weaving the feelings, emotions, experiences and expressions of our coming together to share with our friends and family.

It all sounds cliche at times and… I believe when we take stock of our own storyline we can embrace the essence of a lifetime of music, so to speak. Intentional or by surprise, our lives have made us who we are today, a combination of surrender and decision making. A unique beautiful masterpiece to call our own.

What song will you play next?

How will you continue to allow your journey to heal and nurture you? To accompany you as you meander and dip? To rise and fall gently through the expectations and disappointments? Through the celebrations and sorrows? 

What type of music will ease you into the Vision you hold for yourself? Can you find a song that mirrors your deepest values and truths to expand that vibration so it becomes stronger and even more sustained as you go out in the world to share it and shout it from the mountaintops?

I wish you grace, joy and success as you gain newfound clarity over and over again. As you pick yourself up and dust yourself off, may you remember your resolve and claim it over and over again. And may you dance and sing to your favorite music all along the way…

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