Sometimes I think the answer to every question is this:
How do I get unstuck? Music.
How do I know what I want? Music.
How will I know which way to go? Music.
Why does it matter? Music.
What do I wear? Music.
What’s happening to me? Music.
How can I stay true to who I am in the swirl of life? Music.
Where do I begin? Music.
What’s for dinner? Music.
How will I know what to do? Music.
I’m not saying this to be cheeky or because I’m an auditory person (which I am) who loves music and dancing (true and true).
I’m saying this because music takes you inside your body—often to your spirit and your soul—which is where your truth lives. It knows the answers to your questions.
I’m also saying this from my 18+ years of working with people in transition, support humans navigating from here to there—which often calls for brave, bold, inspired and deeply aligned moves.
Music is one of my favorite tools because it’s a lovely lubricant for change, capable of filling us up with grace as it restores our integrity.
If you want to align your insides with your outsides—your essence with your circumstances—music will show you how.
Your body will speak volumes to you if you listen to music.
Music has this awesome ability to bypass our heads and take us right to our hearts—it says “I got this, brain, you sit this one out.”
Music reminds us of the parts of ourselves we have forgotten and didn’t know we needed—it says, “Remember THIS….? I do…”
Music takes us to what matters most, showing us the path through the shitstorm of noise and distractions—it says, “I know you’re busy, but focus on THIS for a moment…it will help.”
Lemme give you some examples:
- A client of mine recently had a miscarriage. Amidst the noise of people assuring her she’s young, it wasn’t meant to be, she can try again…and swirl of the questions in her mind about working in a toxic environment, feeling out of alignment, seduced away from her truth and power… she stumbled on Bigger Than the Sky, a Taylor Swift song that spoke right to her soul. The lyrics, together with the minor chord music let her feelings—and then her truth—flow. Which inspired her to not only feel, but to heal and then act with integrity.
- Earlier this month my eldest son left home to move out west. It was my birthday—and his birthday—that week. I was constipated with feelings of excitement for his adventure, pride for the human we’ve raised, and deeply sad that he was now 2,000 miles away. As I drove into the grocery store, a man at the edge of the parking lot was playing his heart out, his violin connected to an amp that shared it with us. At his feet was a sign that read: “I have two sons….anything will help..” I burst out in tears and touched my heart in silent thanks as I put money in his violin case—for playing the music that helped me to cry my tears and release my hold on what was no longer.
- A client of mine hired me because she felt squeezed out of her own life—feeding off the leftovers and crumbs created by the demands of her successful work. Everything felt important and she knew her work mattered—and yet, it was coming at the cost of her, which was alarming as there didn’t seem to be an end in site. In our conversations, she found inspiration to make hard decisions by listening more keenly to the song she loved playing for her young girls: Jason Mraz’s Have It All—eventually found the courage to take bold actions that felt “selfish” (code for life-giving) listening to Sara Bareilles sing I Choose You.
- One of my many clients who hired me to leave the corporate world was worried she wouldn’t have the courage to make the break. As a single woman it was all on her—she didn’t have a clear plan and couldn’t she see the path forward (nor did she have a trust fund). All she knew was that it felt like this was a make-or-break moment and her life depended on it. The song Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile was what helped her remember who she was…and she played in on repeat to access the power she needed to set herself free.
I could go on and on with examples—from my own life and hundreds of clients—but you get the point, right? I’m not writing a book today (but I have written two that dive deeper into this topic if you’re interested…).
[Let me just pause here to THANK my gracious clients who responded so quickly to my texts as I wrote this, because for every example I share, I get permission to share it—it’s always met with such generosity, with a client saying, “I hope sharing my story will help someone else…”]
The bottom line is this: Music is a lovely lubricant to ease yourself in transition and show the way forward. Ask any one who has worked with me over the years, and they’ll most likely tell you a story that points to a song that opened the door they ultimately walked through.
In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes this:
“Story greases the hoists and pulleys, it causes adrenaline to surge, shows us the way out, down, or up, and for our troubles, cuts for us fine wide doors in previously blank walls, openings that lead to the dreamland, that leads to love and learning, that lead us back to our own real lives as knowing wildish women.”
I believe the same holds true for music.
After all, Isn’t that what a song is? A story put to music.
And the cool thing is? Music is free, easy, and immediate.
You don’t need to be a musician to appreciate it, and you don’t need to be a dancer to be moved by it. You don’t need to carry a tune, keep a beat or even know what it is or who wrote it. You don’t need to go out to concerts, the symphony or know how to make fancy playlists.
You just need to have a body.
Indeed, all I needed to do in my example above was drive to the grocery story. It was right there.
So if this is so easy and simple for us, why am I sharing this with you now?
Because these are crazy times with scary shit happening at every turn in the road. Our adrenals are shot, our cortisol levels are high, we can’t seem to catch our breath, remember to put pants on, or focus on even the most simple task.
We forget what’s right in front of us. We forget what’s simple. We forget what works.
I’m menopausal now, so I use that as an excuse a lot for forgetting something obvious—much like I did when I was pregnant and put my keys in the freezer…or cheese in the closet. Indeed, I hear a lot of women telling me they feel like they have never-ending PMS these days.
So it’s not just me who walks into a room or goes down in the basement and then says….why am I here? We’re not an existential questions. We genuinely don’t know.
Mid-term elections are still being decided and a major family holiday looms large next week. Schools have had lock downs for active shooters and parents are texting with kids trapped inside rooms, asking if they’re okay. Drug overdoses are on the rise and eating disorders are surfacing. Staffing shortages, union negotiations, and supply chain issues are happening. Massive layoffs are being announced as hiring freezes are put in place. Patience is thin and tempers are high.
People are crying in bathrooms, crying in meetings, crying in their cars. The war, the economy, the very earth we stand on.
If this isn’t you, it’s most likely someone you love.
It’s a lot.
You know all this, I’m sure, because you have a body and you’re feeling it.
I’m not saying music will fix all of this—but it will infuse you with your humanity again. It will allow you to remember who you are and plug you in to what matters most.
It will help you breathe.
It will get you out of your head.
It will help you feel.
It will help you find your words.
It will offer you hope.
It will allow you to move forward more whole—with integrity.
It will also help to inspire and heal others. Yes, I said heal.
I think of story of the Cellist of Sarajevo as told by Susan Cain in her book Bittersweet….How the lead cellist of the Sarajevo opera orchestra returned to the scene of a bombing at a local bakery. Dressed in full formal wear, he played an adagio at the site for twenty-two days—one for each person killed—as the rifles and machine guns continued around him.
“Somehow the bullets never touched him”, she writes.
- So when it all feels too much, and you want to find your way home, pop in your ear buds and put it on shuffle.
- If you’re feeling stuck, make a playlist that reminds you of a time you felt footloose and fancy free.
- If you can’t see where you’re going, listen to music that reminds you where you’ve been—and who you are.
Turn it up and tune it out—to head on in and meet yourself again.
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