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Music & My Soul

broadway showsI’ve been thinking a lot about music recently and how it has completely shaped who I am as a person. I can’t remember when, but I was roughly nine years old when I saw my first Broadway musical. It changed my entire life. It was as if from that very moment I understood joy – which up until that point I had so little of. It was the purest form of joy I had ever experienced. I always thought some day my creative expression would come a live on one of The Great White Way. There is still that glimmer of hope, a glowing ember. It literally ignites and explodes inside me whenever I see a live performance.

Over the years I have seen and performed in too many shows to count.  Of course none of my performances have been professional, but they have all been incredibly rewarding, uplifting, enlightening and full of learning and growth.

Music in general has become such an integral part of who I am. I have a scary uncanny ability to remember lyrics to almost any song I have heard more than once. The words just stick. More than enjoying listening to music, I love to sing. I was a vocal major at the High School of Music and the Performing Arts in Manhattan before Marc Gafni’s abuse temporarily destroyed my life.

I sing all the time because it brings me that same pure joy from childhood. I sing in the shower, in the car, on my walks, around the house… It brings me comfort which is good for the soul.

20160227_075224Yesterday morning on my walk I was listening to a play list of love songs. I was singing along (as I usually do) to each when it hit me. Ninety percent of what is being said in these lyrics one could apply to the universe and our relationship with it.  I have a weird eclectic taste in music, but here are some examples with snippets from parts of each song:

  • All Of Me (John Legend)

Cause all of me – Loves all of you – Love your curves and all your edges – All your perfect imperfections – Give your all to me – I’ll give my all to you – You’re my end and my beginning – Even when I lose I’m winning – ‘Cause I give you all of me – And you give me all of you

  • Can You Feel The Love Tonight (Phil Collins)

Can you feel the love tonight – The peace the evening brings -The world for once in perfect harmony – With all its living things – There’s a time for everyone if they only learn – That the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn – There’s a rhyme and reason to the wild outdoors -When the heart of this star-crossed voyager beats in time with yours

  • For Good (From the Broadway Show Wicked)

I’m limited. Just look at me. I’m limited. And just look at you. You can do all I couldn’t do. Glinda… So now it’s up to you, For both of us. Now it’s up to you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit – As it passes a sun, Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood. Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better – But because I knew you. I have been changed for good.

  • Heaven Is A Place On Earth (Belinda Carlisle)

When I feel alone, I reach for you – And you bring me home – When I’m lost at sea I hear your voice – And it carries me

In this world we’re just beginning -To understand the miracle of living – Baby, I was afraid before – But I’m not afraid anymore

Ooh, baby, do you know what that’s worth? Ooh, heaven is a place on earth. They say in heaven love comes first – We’ll make heaven a place on earth

  • Smile (Uncle Kracker)

You’re better than the best – I’m lucky just to linger in your light -Cooler than the flip-side of my pillow (that’s right) – Completely unaware -Nothing can compare to where you send me – It lets me know that it’s okay (yeah, it’s okay) – And the moments when my good times start to fade – You make me smile…

Once again it brought on this overwhelming sense of gratitude. You can love so much – the universe and its supreme power, your partner in life, your parents, your children, your friends, what you do with your time, and most importantly yourself, and what you give back to that which you love.musicNone of these songs are spiritual to say the least, but segments of their lyrics can apply to your relationship with the universe and it’s view of you; to you relationship with other human beings and even that with yourself. Be grateful for all these relationships.  I think we must be grateful for the gift of music, it certainly can help us stay motivated to keep moving, and it can bring us closer to all that we hold dear, lyrics or not.

Where Have You Been? And Where Are You Going?

I spent quite a few years of my life in an emotionally abusive relationship, and I let it happen. I was weak, needy, and had so little self-esteem and self-worth that I let the relationship consume, define and ultimately destroy me. Ending a relationship comes with learning, growth and pain. Something inside me snapped, and brought me to a point where I finally realized it was time to take “me” back.  I took a good hard look at who I had become and I hated myself. Hate is a strong word, and no one should reach the point where they simply hate everything about who they are, but that is where I had found myself. It is one thing to learn to love yourself, but erasing self-hatred is much much harder.

This relationship, like all relationships had its ups and downs. One thing is certain though, the ups were short-lived and the downs kept increasing in number, duration and intensity. This is when I began to put on all the weight.  I gained roughly 110+ pounds over the course of four years.  Protection I suppose from the pain, and from the hideous individual I believed I was. Being told I was a horrible parent, a whore, lazy, a terrible employee and on and on.  Being bipolar, I spiraled out of control through severe episodes of depression and mania that paralyzed and hospitalized me.

Two hundred eighty-six, the number that for whatever inconceivable reason, changed my life. I don’t know why that number did it, but it did. The 28 part of the number 286 has had a very lengthy history for me and may be that is why the 280’s were my wake-up call. I do not know.  But it certainly was my turning point.  It was at that moment on the scale with that number glaring at me that I vowed to lose the weight, get in shape and be healthy, physically and emotionally. First for me, and then hopefully in an attempt to mend or end the relationship. At this point in time I did not know one way or another if it was worth saving.

So while I embarked on my journey I was told that I was doing so for selfish reasons, not for our relationship, but because I liked the compliments. Still living in self-hate and doubt, I kept asking myself “Am I being selfish?” I was so deep into the belittlement I had no idea my ego was so shot it couldn’t even recognize the stupidity of this.  Somehow I plugged on every day. Somewhere deep inside that 286 pound body I knew being healthy physically, mentally and emotionally was the right answer, selfish or not.

I needed someone to push me out the door on the mornings I did not want to go to the gym, or get up and exercise. But I didn’t have that particular kind of support. I was occasionally given compliments on how well I was doing but I had to rely on myself to get er’ done.  This was one of the best gifts I received from this relationship – self-reliance and perseverance.  I highly recommend it.

One day I was at the gym on an elliptical machine and staring at me, (as it had been for months now) was there branding. It was right there on the wall in front of me for months, and I had barely noticed it. The word PERSEVERE.  It was another ah-ha moment. I had to persevere, there was no choice – hence my most recent tattoo. new tatooI took pictures of the scale as I dropped the weight as motivation.  Unfortunately, I was too humiliated to take one the day I saw 286.  But I certainly have photos to prove where I started.

After I dropped below the 200 mark I decided to throw myself a party – no one else was going to do it.  Friends and family came to help me celebrate. I had both healthy and non-healthy food choices out for my guests, and we sang karaoke and everyone had a blast.  I was going to have another one when I reached my goal weight. I thought maybe when I reached that goal one might get thrown for me instead of by me, but when I reached my goal that party never happened.

At the gym there was a coach who helped me learn the proper machines to use and the proper form to get the most out of my resistance training. I set a goal weight of 145.  She told me that it was probably unrealistic because I was not only losing weight but gaining muscle so I should look at 150-155 as my target.  I was fine with that.  After nine months I had gone from a 3X down to a size 6 and lost 140 pounds.  I looked good and I felt good.  I was eating healthy, adopted a gluten free lifestyle after hearing that doing so could eliminate IBS (this worked wonders for me).

I have managed to keep all the weight off, for almost a year now and know in my heart I will never go back there again.

After both trying to rebuild the very broken relationship I realized I was doing us both a disservice by remaining in it.  Some people have babies thinking that will “fix” the problems in their relationship.  After all our years together I thought “getting engaged” would be our “fix”.  Once it happened I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.  There was still too much broken, too much I was afraid would never mend or heal, and boy was I right. The interpersonal relationship is over, and so is my piss poor relationship with myself.  Slowly I am building my self-esteem, taking back my life, bettering my relationships with my children, and growing stronger and healthier each day.

This has been one of the most difficult journeys I have ever embarked on, but the growth alone has been it worth it. “Learning to love yourself – is the greatest love of all.”  Thank you Whitney.

On Being Happy

The more interactions you have with other human beings the more you learn how important it is to surround yourself with individuals who bring you joy, lift you up, support your dreams and see you for who you really are. Most people learn this the hard way. Never feel guilty about removing the toxic people from your life. These toxic people not only make your life unbearable, but they will sabotage any effort you make towards being happy and improving yourself. By ridding your life of toxic relationships you are protecting your spirit. Once you have found who you really are, are comfortable in your own skin, can nurture your dreams and the dreams of those you love, protect that at all costs. Ferociously guard it. Coming to this place spiritually, intellectually and emotionally can take years of self-reflection. Don’t waste your efforts on toxic people – life is too short.

toxic people

Your past is just that, the past. And although there may have been many painful experiences in your life, it is those experiences that have led you to where you are today, and have helped you grow as a person. You have learned from both the negative and the positive. Use what you have learned and try not to repeat prior mistakes. This is not an easy task. We tend to gravitate towards the same type of people again and again in order to resolve something possibly entirely subconscious. These relationships can be wonderful, or they can be toxic. They can bring about enlightenment, or continued suffering. They can appear as relationships with friends, family, significant others, co-workers, employers…anywhere. Assess your relationships carefully. Are they toxic or are they a positive influence in your journey? Do not waste your energy giving your best self to those who do not give their best selves in return. Your spirit cannot afford to maintain toxic relationships if it is going to grow, flourish, and be a positive energy in the world.

Surround yourself with support and love – learn to both give and receive support and love. Help others, and be a light in all the relationships you have chosen to cultivate. All these things can help you achieve whatever goals you may set for yourself – weight loss, a career change, realizing a dream, raising a family, exploring your spirituality…happyholidays

As I will be busy with a variety of holiday and wedding preparations, I may not post till after the weekend. For everyone who celebrates Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful holiday surrounded by positive people who bring you joy.


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