Tag Archives: music

songs-that-calm-my-soulIt’s been a while since I really blogged. Honestly, I’m still in shock about the election, and the government that’s being built. I’m afraid for people I love. I’m frustrated and confused by others. To cope, I’ve been listening to a lot of calm music. A lot of it isn’t happy music, but it has a soothing quality to it that forces my heartbeat to slow down. Here’s a sampling, for anyone interested:

Eponine – Penny and Sparrow
Low, How A Rose E’er Blooming – Penny and Sparrow
New Ceremony (Acoustic Version) – Dry the River
Husk – Dry the River
When It’s Cold I’d Like To Die – Moby
Comes and Goes (In Waves) – Greg Laswell
Closer – Johnnyswim
Stars – Jay Nash
Light – Jon Bryant
You Speak – Audrey Assad
How To Breathe – Matthew Mayfield
Sarah’s Prayer – Eden’s Bridge
Pull The Stars Down – Lucie Silvas



stress thoughts, folk music, and sweat

Screenshot 2016-08-19 at 3.39.14 PM

I’ve been getting a lot of stress thoughts at night. These are the unpredictable, persistent thoughts that pepper my brain when I can’t fall asleep quickly enough, which is every night. Yoshi is coming home soon, so that’s been preoccupying me. I’ll start thinking things like, “What if he hates it here and the neighbors complain?” and then, “What if he dies? What if he gets so excited that he has a heart attack?” Then I’ll worry about Baxter, and go lie in his room so I can hear him rustling around, which proves he’s alive. My pills have been acting up and being weird, so if I don’t take the last one with enough food, it makes me sick. That’s a new development, and it’s not fun. They just can’t cooperate, can they?

Penny & Sparrow is my favorite band right now. Chris thinks they’re too “chill,” and that they make him want to fall asleep. He says that like it’s a bad thing. My music tastes have changed so much. I tried listening to Skillet recently, one of my favorites from high school, and I was not impressed. Too loud. I’m old.

It’s been in the 90’s weather-wise. I don’t I’ve ever sweat so much in my life. When I work out, I point the fan directly at myself, and it makes a big difference. Otherwise, I think I would literally die. It would not be safe.

I wish I could work on my novel more. I have a notebook where I scribble a few lines or pages as often as I can, and I need to type that up. One of my characters changed a lot from my first draft. She went from being really sweet and sensitive to kind of a tough cookie. It was not at all on purpose. I guess that’s just what she’s meant to be.


Songs For Sad People

To me, music is the antidepressant I know best, and one that is devoid of side effects. While necessary for many, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors frighten me because some artists and authors say they stunt their ability to create. As a writer, that’s unsettling, having my voice muffled or extinguished.

I know I may well have to use them at some point. I may need to find some stability from the ups and downs that characterize my depression, instead of white-knuckling as I have. But for now, I find, tiny instances of relief can be found in the furthest reaches of depression, small reminders that life is worth it.

Sometimes you just have to find the strength to push play.

Full article: http://www.laweekly.com/music/the-music-that-has-helped-me-battle-depression-5014322

I love how this writer described her relationship with music. Music has always been a huge part of my life, from when I first began listening to music on my own, late at night, discovering the rock music of the 1980’s on my Walkman to now, when I create playlists based on specific characters I’m writing about. My main playlist is just called “Writing,” even though I don’t listen to music when I’m actually writing. It’s the music that inspires my writing, and it brings me calm. Kristian Libman listed a few of the albums, bands, and songs that have helped her depression, so I will do the same here.

  • Blue October – I’ve written about them before, and their impact is still true. Lead singer Justin has been through hell and back, and listening through the band’s albums is like hearing his life story.
  • Audrey Assad – One of the few Christian artists I consistently listen to. Her songs are like hymns in their lyrical sophistication, but so intimate and personal at the same time. Every song is a prayer.
  • Ingrid Michaelson – there’s something about the simple strength of her voice that calms me.

Additional artists:

  • Joy Williams
  • Jetta
  • Brandi Carlile
  • Jason Isbell
  • Bee Bakare
  • Greg Laswell
  • Matthew Mayfield

It’s Taken 7 Years To Enjoy Playing Guitar

I don’t really remember why I wanted to learn guitar. I had played piano for a while after my parents told me I could pick any instrument after I learned how to read music, and I originally wanted to play the flute. Piano went on for several years, and I hated practicing, even though I wasn’t horrible. I never picked up the flute, and eventually wanted to learn guitar. I think it was because guitar is the “cool” instrument, it’s what you play when you’re in a rock band, and I always harbored dreams of being a rock star. I got my first acoustic guitar at Guitar Center as part of a “kit,” and took lessons at a music store in a room that was probably about 2 x 5 feet, generously. If my guitar teacher had been left-handed, it would have never worked.

Practicing guitar really stressed me out. I had performance anxiety, so even when I had spent hours practicing, I got super nervous when I had to play for anyone, even just my teacher, and messed up. I eventually got an electric guitar because it was easier on my fingers, and it made more sense since my guitar teacher was mostly teaching rock music. His name was Randy and he had long red hair in a ponytail, and always wore a black T-shirt. We were both really quiet, so it was awkward. We didn’t really say hello or goodbye, we just sort of nodded at each other. Eventually, I switched teachers because someone I knew at school had just started learning, and really liked her teacher. I had become more interested in classical guitar music at this point, so my parents helped me get a very expensive classical guitar that was on sale. I still had an electric guitar, which I played for the school worship band.

I learned how to read music for guitar really well with my second teacher, because just about all classical music is in that form. Rock music is all chords, and scales, if you’re good and want to do solos. I was still really frustrated though, like all the time. I was never happy with my progress, and I hated the thought of having to do recitals, so I didn’t. I knew a lot of people from school who played guitar, and they were all way better than me, and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Was it genetics? Good luck? It certainly couldn’t be practice, because I practiced a lot.

When my second guitar teacher stopped teaching and moved to Duluth to get married, I didn’t bother finding another teacher. I sold my electric guitar and stowed my classical away in its case. It wasn’t worth it.

Recently, I’ve started playing more seriously again. I started hearing songs and thinking, “I could play that.” Ingrid Michaelson is my favorite right now, because she uses basic chords, but the vocal melodies over them are all unique. I can see where my lessons paid off in that my fingers still remember chords and I can still read basic sheet music. My sense of timing has also improved, which is weird, because I haven’t been doing anything to keep that up, and I was always really bad at it.

I think not feeling stressed about it makes a world of difference. I don’t have anything to prove. I’m not searching for a shared identity with other guitarists who don’t see me as a musician because I don’t want to make it my career. There’s no pressure to have mastered a certain page in a week, or an upcoming performance where strangers judge me. In the past, I considered selling my last guitar. I’m so glad I didn’t. What used to be a source of stress and anxiety has become a stress-reliever.

Mix Tape

One of the daily prompts on WordPress recently was to create a “mix tape” that represents me. Even with a list I developed, it still seems pretty impossible to really get my essence, since I have so much music that holds a significant place in my soul. Of course, everyone says that, so I’ll just leave it at that and move right along.

“So I Thought” – Flyleaf

This song was really important to me for a long time following my first relationship’s breakup. The lyrics, “A year goes by, and I can’t talk about it,” really struck home, since after a year, the wounds were still very frustratingly fresh. Even now, the line, “And I’m praying that we will see/Something there in between/Then and there that exceeds all we can dream/So we can talk about it,” feels relevant, since I did all of my processing/healing without the ex-boyfriend being involved at all. The final chorus, “And all these twisted thoughts I see/Jesus there, in between,” always brings me to my knees.

“When I Fall In Love” – Celine Dion and Clive Griffin

This is the cheesiest song that I love. It’s also the first song I gave to Chris. I love its optimism but also quiet hesitancy.

“You Belong Here” – Anberlin

The power of this song is in its simplicity. “You belong here/You were meant to be with me.” Most of my life, I’ve struggled with feeling like I belong anywhere. I would sing this song to myself at night, imagining all my loved ones, Chris, God, singing it back to me.

“The Worry List” – Blue October

Justin’s voice…it is my heartache’s voice. “I might have been gone, but I never walked out.” Take me off your worry list. It’s about picking myself up over and over again. Trying to ignore other people’s concern, and just being tired of people worrying. I’m fine, really, I’m fine.

“18th Floor Balcony” – Blue October

This was our first dance song at our wedding. It makes me feel such peace.

“Little Hell” – City & Colour

My little hell is my depression. This song perfectly expresses my fears: “What if everything’s just the way it will be/Could it be that I am meant to cause you all this grief?” and “There’s a degree of difficulty in dealing with me.”

“Wrapped in Your Arms” – Fireflight

I believe surrender is the hardest and most crucial part of being a follower of Jesus. Whenever I go through a period of struggle, I always end up in the same place but with deeper understanding.

Is this the whole picture
Or is it just the start?
Is this the way you love me?
You’re capturing my heart
I used to try and walk alone
But I’ve begun to grow
And when you tell me just to rest
I’m finally letting go
I let go

Screen shot 2013-10-03 at 1.08.48 PM

“The Simpsons” is probably the best cartoon to ever be produced so any news is cool news. Apparently, the writers are working on a storyline where an Emmy-winning character is going to die.


Screen shot 2013-10-03 at 1.09.31 PM

Here are some goofy-looking sea creatures. That’s about it.


Screen shot 2013-10-03 at 1.10.06 PM

This company makes purses and bags that look 2D. It’s pretty wild.


Screen shot 2013-10-03 at 1.10.42 PM

This is a weird list, because I really don’t agree with some of the artists the author calls “terrible.” I mean, “The Eagles?”  COME ON.


Take A Look At My Itunes: Blue October

ImageI honestly can say no band has affected me like Blue October has. Justin Furstenfeld has suffered from pretty severe bipolar for most of his life and his ability to translate that into lyrics is jaw-dropping. His voice is like sandpaper, wearing down on my heart callouses and leaving me feeling stunned and vulnerable. I have never gotten sick of a single song in seven albums. 

The new album is more optimistic, but never becomes sappy. When someone like Justin sings about finding happiness, you can tell its real. “Sway” came at the perfect time.


Lyrical Highlights:

(Not Broken Anymore)

I’ve seen the empty deep
I’ve damned up the water flow
You’re the touchstone my complete
You’re the ship that kept me afloat

Can you tell me that you’re real
So I can really know
That everything I feel I can finally show
Standing next to me oh the person I can be
Is finally here and he won’t back down at all

But I can’t stop thinking
how you just keep making
sense of all that was broken before

And I won’t keep faking
Cause I’m done with taking
Cause with you I’m not broken anymore


Take A Look At My Itunes: KT Tunstall

ImageI’ve been into KT Tunstall ever since I heard her first album on a seventeen-hour flight to Italy nearly ten years ago. I have all her albums: the effervescent Eye To The Telescope, the flashy Drastic Fantastic, the quirky Tiger Suit, and now the swaying Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon. Her voice is at its bluesy best. She’s a contralto (low and flexible range) and she has this heart-melting break when she reaches for higher notes…so good.

I like owning an artist’s whole catalog if financially possible, especially if I’ve been listening to them for a while. Hearing old songs brings back a lot of memories. “Silent Sea” makes me think of quiet nights just lying sleepless, letting KT calm me down from panic attacks that came like clockwork, “I Don’t Want You Now” is me angrily singing in the car about an emotionally distant boyfriend, “Lost” is a question about where my life is supposed to go.

If I choose to go with the way I’m feelin’, doesn’t really mean that’s the way it is.

Brilliant lyrics, surprisingly singable melodies, Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon. Check it out.


Lyrical Highlights:

(Invisible Empire)

I wear a rusting crown
I know this dynasty is falling
The crowd shouts for another round
To see the ruin, the spectacular, diamonds baby
Icebergs, the minarets and the marketplaces
The signal fires of my invisible empire

(Old Man Song)

Oh come alive inside this light
Your journey on is my delight
I sense a feeling so strange as I’m watching you change
From a man into a portal knight