An Upbeat Playlist for Stressful Times

We entered singing. My sister and I had ascended the stairs into the “great room” of Belmont Village to visit our grandmother, and the joint was jumping. Residents had gathered to hear the musical stylings of a guest singer. It was impossible to refrain, so why try? We opened our voices and danced over to her. (It is easy to spot her, the redhead, from behind, or really from any direction.)

When she saw us, she bestowed her perennial gift, a contagious, nearly-crying smile that says better than words can, “I’m so happy to see you.”

I needed that. Then the singer said, “Remember, music is the best medicine.” I needed that, too. This past Sunday, at dance class, the music, the dancing, the singing along. I need it. You know you need it, too. These are trying times. Play your music loud and often.

Without further ado, a (starter) playlist for stressful times. Play loud.  Play often. Dance. Sing. Repeat.

  1. Michael Jackson (just about anything, but let’s go with Wanna Be Starting Something
  2. And another Michael Jackson, Black or White
  3. American Authors, Best Day of My Life
  4. Marvin Gaye, How sweet it is (to be loved by you)
  5. Stevie Wonder, Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
  6. Kinky Boots, Raise You Up

(And, for a change, try a nice quiet 10-12 minutes with the Calm App gratitude meditation. Be grateful for your lungs, and legs, and all the other parts needed for dancing your stress away.)




The Sound of Inspiration, and Light for a Dark World

I’m trying something new — music in the background while I write, a soundtrack to inspire. So I pick Simon & Garfunkel.

“They’ve all gone to look for America…”

And I instantly discover the problem with this sytem: I stop and sing.

“I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome I took some comfort there.”

I mean, can you blame me? Here is their genius: they make me feel what they feel, with intensity. I mean, I promise I have never “taken comfort from the whores on 7th avenue” — my comfort vice is ice cream — yet when they do declare, I do declare along with them.

How do they DO that? How do they get me in that moment with them when I have nothing in common with that experience?

It’s not that the details don’t matter. They matter a lot. They paint the picture. What doesn’t matter is if I have or haven’t experienced those details myself. What I’m sharing with them is not the experience of say, taking a bus across America, but the universal feeling of wishing and yearning. That’s what I sing along with. That’s what I need to write like.

I hum their tune and some Boxer part of me wants to break out of my mold, wants to write and punch my way to glory. Another line plays and I think, aha, I can relate to that one. “All my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity…like emptiness in harmony…” Those clever devils even got a good line out of writer’s block.

I wonder who inspired their artistry? Maybe the sound of silence? (Groan. Sorry.)

Next to me is today’s newspaper, with stories that crush the heart. Earthquake in Taiwan. Libya is the new Syria. Syria is still Syria. It’s easy to ask, what kind of a world do we live in? And this morning I’m happy to be reminded that we live in a world of beauty, too. Enjoy.