Music of My Heart: Pt. 2

Another day, another influential album.¬† ūüôā

Second on the list is…

breakaway

Album:  Breakaway
Artist:  Kelly Clarkson
Released:  2004

Anybody else reallyyyyyyyy into American Idol back in the day?¬† I know I was a huge fan of the ORIGINAL series (I’ve got opinions on the recent revival of the show–that’s for another post) that brought us the legend known as Kelly Clarkson.

I must admit, I wasn’t even rooting for Kelly to win the inaugural season of AI.¬† I was a teenage girl back then, which meant I was squarely on #TeamJustinGuarini.¬† (What can I say?¬† He was cute, and I had raging teen girl hormones controlling my thoughts.)¬† But Kelly definitely deserved to win.¬† Homegurl can SANG.¬† I enjoyed her debut album (Thankful) that came out as a result of her winning the show.

But her sophomore album¬†Breakaway…that album was special.¬† It was the soundtrack for my high school years, even though it didn’t come out until I was a senior.

For a long time, I didn’t know that the feelings of desolation I had were actually signs of depression.¬†¬†Breakaway¬†helped me get through the pain I experienced (especially breaking up with my first boyfriend).¬† One song in particular called “Hear Me” was my heartsong.¬† I felt like I was in a crowd, screaming for help, and no one noticed.

Hear me
I’m cryin’ out
I’m ready now
Turn my world upside down
Find me
I’m lost inside the crowd
It’s getting loud
I need you to see
I’m screaming for you to please
Hear me

(If you haven’t checked our Part 1 of this series, please do!)

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Music of My Heart: Pt. 1

Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories.

And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it. 

-Stevie Wonder

Mr. Stevie had it right, y’all.¬† So much music colors my life.¬† A song comes on and within the first few notes, I’m transported.¬† Memories, bright and sharply focused, take me back in time.¬† Depending on the song, I could laugh out loud or burst into tears.¬† I welcome all the memories–happy and sad–that the music brings to me.

Starting today, I’ll post the artwork for an album.¬† Some are old; others are more recent.¬† Some brought me joy; others got me through the toughest times in my life.¬† All make up the soundtrack of my life, the music of my heart.

First up…

lemonade.jpg

Album:  Lemonade
Artist:  Beyoncé
Released:  2016

 

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard¬†Lemonade.¬† After a cruise celebrating my mother’s birthday I sat in the Detroit Metro airport, waiting for the flight to take me home.¬† I’d heard the buzz about the album–the controversy over “Formation” at the Super Bowl halftime show, the shock that she made a whole entire¬†film¬†to go with it (#whodoesthat #yourfavecouldnever #shesthegreatest)–so I had to hear what the Queen was talkin’ ’bout. I purchased the album on iTunes and listened to it over…

…and over…

…and over.

At some points, I openly wept.¬† In the terminal, on the plane–I couldn’t hold back the tears.¬† You see, I had a tough time recovering from abuse from my ex-fiance.¬† I felt betrayed.¬† I felt angry.¬† I felt afraid.¬† I was just coming to the realization that, even though I felt powerless, I was the one who controlled my life.¬† Lemonade¬†spoke to all that betrayal, anger, and fear.¬† It let me know I would make it through and be a stronger woman in the end.

In “Sandcastles”, Beyonc√© sings:

Dishes smashed on my counter

From our last encounter

Pictures snatched out the frame

Bitch I scratched out your name

And your face

What is it about you

That I can’t erase

When every promise don’t work out that way

Her voice breaks at, “What is it about you that I can’t erase?” and it was like she read my heart and turned my deepest feelings into song.¬† I wanted to forget my ex so bad–because he hurt me¬†so bad–but he still haunted me.

Lemonade was my strength.  Even today, every time a song from the album comes on, I stop and listen.

 

(Special thanks to Eli W. for inspiring this series!)

What if…

Trying to stay unfrozen has been a feat until this week.¬† Seriously, it literally snowed 3-4″ last week!¬† #notcool But now spring has finally come to Wisconsin…and I’ve finally come back to blogging!

Not gonna lie to y’all–my life is pretty boring so I feel like I don’t have anything to post about regularly lol.¬† Like, do people really care that I started buying groceries at the local Aldi?¬† Are folks really trying to read about the new bike I bought?¬† Answer:¬† probably not (at least that’s what I assume).¬† So my posts have been infrequent.

Butttttt I’d like to change that!¬† Maybe y’all aren’t interested in what I’m doing (which is honestly not a lot) but what I’m thinking (which is all sorts of things).¬† Honestly, y’all might not be interested in what I’m doing OR thinking lol.¬† But today I’m gonna share a bit of what’s been going on in my brain.

Lately, I’ve been playing this mental game called “What if…”¬† Basically, I’ve been thinking about all the ways my life could have gone wrong.¬† Not in a morbid, “woe is me” sort of way, but just considering all the events and circumstances (great and small) that led me to this awesome life I have today.

My mom is the most wonderful person on the planet.¬† If she hadn’t raised me, I’m almost certain my life would have gone poorly.¬† Like, I hope I’d be a good contributing member of society if I didn’t have her as a mom, buttttttt I’m skeptical.¬† That lady raised me RIGHT.¬† She taught me to be caring and diligent and showed me how to work hard even when it feels like everything and everyone is against you.¬† She encouraged me and motivated me and, most importantly, disciplined me when I needed it and called me on my bullshit.¬† Without her, who knows who I would be?

My daddy died when I was only 13.¬† His death could have been a trigger for my life to take a bad direction.¬† In ways, it did create issues–I didn’t have a role model for how a man should treat me and ended up in some terrible relationships as a result–but it could have been much worse.¬† On occasion I’ll watch the show¬†Intervention¬†and the stories that touch my heart the most are of women who lost their fathers or whose fathers were emotionally distant.¬† Women who, quite possibly, could have been me.

On the flip side, what if he hadn’t passed?¬† Would he have gotten better, fought his addiction, and been the father I needed?¬† Or would he have continued to drink?¬† Would I have ended up estranged from him?¬† Would I have drunk right along with him (alcoholism does run in families, after all)?¬† There’s no way to know.¬† And honestly, this version of the “What if…” game hurts the most.

My best friend in the world moved to our town when we were in the fourth grade.¬† She was a bookish Black girl just like me, and I needed her at nine years old in a predominately white school in a predominately white (and very southern) town.¬†¬†If she hadn’t come, I don’t know who I would have relied on to support me when my daddy died.¬† I don’t know who I would have called when my ex-fiance was abusing me.¬† Who knows what friends I would have made and what paths they would have taken me down?¬† (One of my childhood friends ended up with a drug problem.¬† I could have been right there with her.)

Even outside of the key players in my life, all the small events and decisions and interactions in my life add up too.¬† I dated someone in college who I though was going to marry me, but ended up breaking my heart instead.¬† If we had married, I wouldn’t have met the man I truly love and who lets me be myself.¬†¬†After college, I applied for a job at the Social Security Administration and was¬†devastated when they didn’t hire me.¬† But if I had taken that job, I might never have gotten the opportunity to do something I truly love.

Just to be clear, I don’t play “What if…” to throw myself a pity party.¬† Playing this game makes me sad sometimes, but ultimately I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.¬† I’ve been through stuff that could have broken me, but I survived.¬† I’ve learned to appreciate the things and people who make my life special.

I urge you to consider the circumstances of your life and how you are a stronger person because of (or in spite of) them.¬† If you’ve got a story of triumph you’d like to share, leave it in the comments!

What_if_I_ask_for_help

Image courtesy of Maryeoriginals

 

Dog-sitting, Taking Classes, and Wrapping Up #100HappyDays

Day 96: Dog-sitting¬†makes me happy. My boyfriend planned an out of town trip, so he asked me to watch his dog while he was away. Luckily his dog and I have lots in common (specifically, a love of snacks and napping). I don’t think I’m ready for a dog of my own yet, but being a temporary dog mom has been fun. Check out a few photos of some of our adventures!

Enjoying a long walk!

Watching a rabbit. See it? (Look in the upper right corner of the picture!)

 

Day 97: Company picnics make me happy. My company goes all out when it comes to our annual picnic. Earlier this week I volunteered to help with pre-picnic stuff (more on that here) and the end result was spectacular! Here are some pics of (just one side!) of our celebration:

Fun activities for the kiddos! (Adult activities were on the other side of the building.)

Food tents!

Day 98: Catching up with friends makes me happy. My friend Judith was in town this weekend, so we met up for brunch at one of my favorite restaurants. We met through a work opportunity and became fast friends! Even though she no longer lives in Madison, we make a point to keep in touch. It was awesome catching up with her in person!

Day 99: ¬†Free lunch makes me happy. ¬†Today was staff meeting day and the wrap (sweet chili tofu) was so good! ¬†It tasted even better because it was free. ¬†ūüôā

Day 100:  Taking classes makes me happy.  This week, I get to take a class instead of teach a class!  I absolutely love learning and am thrilled to be the one being taught this time around.

Also…today is my last entry for #100HappyDays. ¬†This was a fantastic exercise in gratitude! ¬†Taking a step back and finding something to celebrate in every day–no matter how small–helped me to put my life in perspective and realize I’ve been blessed with an amazing life. ¬†Honestly, some days it was hard for me to come up with something more than “Waking up this morning makes me happy.” ¬†Not every day will be filled with joy–that much is certain. ¬†But I found that the happy moments outweigh the unhappy ones overall, and that’s pretty good to me.

Life and Blackness #100HappyDays

Day 24: Being alive makes me happy.

Yesterday was a tough day for me. ¬†I was feeling very overwhelmed by some legal issues I’m going through with my ex-fiance. ¬†But even with all the stress and struggle, I was happy to have woken up and drawn breath. ¬†As the great philosopher Pitbull once surmised, “Every day above ground is a great¬†day.

Day 25:  Black medical professionals make me happy.  

This week is the second week of my company’s customer conference, and I’ve been helping out by participating in a simulation lab. ¬†Last week I was a “radio show host”, and this week I am a “sick patient” and medical professionals come in and conduct an “office visit” with me (so we can analyze how people use our software). ¬†Today, I had a Black nurse practitioner participate and I was so happy to see her! ¬†She was so kind and really worked to take care of me and make me feel better, even though it was just a simulation. ¬†I have never in my entire life had a Black doctor–much less a Black woman doctor. ¬†I would love to receive care from a medical professional who understands¬†my unique issues as a Black woman. ¬†We need more Black medical professionals!

#100HappyDays

Hello again, friends!

Lately, I’ve been struggling with appreciation. ¬†There are a lot of stressful things going on in my life right now (personal, professional, even legal) that can make seeing the beautiful things in life very hard to do. ¬†Therefore, for the next 100 days, I will post something that makes me happy and tag it with #100HappyDays to make myself reflect on the positive aspects of my life. ¬†These posts will include people, places, things, whatever–anything that makes me happy is eligible for the 100HappyDays hashtag. ¬†ūüôā

Day 1: ¬†This blog makes me happy! ¬†Even though I don’t update every day (or even every month) I enjoy having this space to voice my opinions. ¬†There are some things I want to share with the entire world; this blog gives me the opportunity to get those thoughts and ideas out to a wide audience. ¬†There are some times when I’m sad, lonely, scared, angry, or just need to vent–this blog is the safe space I need to get those feelings out.

(PS:  I got this idea from my friend/coworker Nicole.  Check out her awesome blog here!)