Music and the Soul

Music has always been a balm to my soul. I have used songs to help propel myself into the deepest pockets of despair and to pull myself, filthy and struggling back to earth. I have felt myself soar to heights of ecstasy that I have never felt from anything else, not even sex. Music can literally change my mood, my thoughts and my actions. In some ways, I think that music has a control over my emotions that I cannot control as well as I would like. As you read this, your eyebrows might be slowly rising at my strong language, but I cannot stress how much music affects me- for good or bad, music will affect me in some way emotionally. I have never found a piece of music that doesn't move me in some direction.

The history of how music began is far from certain or documented. The only part of music history that seems clear is that every group of people (including the most isolated people/tribes who have lived on this earth) have had forms of music so music is a fundamental and important part of our human experience. Many scientists believe that music may date back even early than the human diaspora (when human beings began to move from Africa around the world) which was 50,000 years ago.

Music will also vary based on culture, society, instruments, emotions, attitudes, and even the period when the music was created. Thinking of this idea reminds me of working in the ambulance garage where my boss would only play 'oldies' music. I thought is was OK and would sing along but it wasn't my preferred listening. I was an alternative/ 80's junkie along with some heavy metal. And my spare time was filled with musicals and a music game I would play with my friends (all speech had to be sung and you got extra points if you were able to use a direct quote out of a song to get your point across; you lost points if you talked). The music that was my favorite and was the 'new music' is now old – and I am only 35! And much of classical music is considered positively ancient! :)

So the idea that music affects me in such a powerful way I see as a blessing in most instances. I receive answered to prayers and questions of faith through music. I have felt anger and despair through music and used lyrics and song to channel and try to 'funnel' off painful emotions so that they no longer hurt me as deeply. I have felt a joy so strong that I have cried silently while laughing as I have listened and I have felt a stronger peace than I have ever known in silence. What a blessing music is not only to me, but to human beings as thinking, breathing, loving, human beings!

Think back at how music in its many forms has changed since you were a child... If you were Mormon, you can now get hymns set to rock music- a pretty unthinkable thing just twenty years ago. The internet allows us to get music from all over the world and from all genres. We have more choice in what we listen to than human beings have ever had IMO. What is music to you? What does music do for you?


2010 Poetry Corner # 5 - "My Husband..."







….... :)






Collecting, Hoarding, and Anxiety

It's funny what can be collected in a lifetime. I am only 36 years old with one child, yet I feel my overabundance keenly. America is awash in storage sheds and storage companies. It is considered one of the best investments that you can make currently – the stock market may rise and dip, but storage trends have stayed even to upward climbing as time goes on. People may be spending less... but they are storing more. A study released in 2005 indicated that 1 in 11 US households rent a storage unit – this is up 50% from the previous study. I couldn't help but ask myself what people were storing that was so important and so valuable that it was worth storing? (especially since a high number of shed renters own a house) Of course, the irony that I have a huge storage unit that is full and very disorganized wasn't lost on me. And I found many excuses for MY stuff that I found acceptable that I realized I would find pathetic indeed if they were given to me by someone else. Some of the excuses were:

1. I might need it again in the future and then I might have to buy it – so I am paying over fifty dollars a month to store things worth much less so that I do not have to buy them again???? That seemed silly when I thought about it, especially if you consider the fact that some of the things I hadn't used in years and my life was not wanting for it.

2. It 'might have' sentimental value so I should save it – I am not talking about scrapbooks here; I am talking about a cat photo of a cat you do not know, but it makes you laugh and since it makes you laugh.... you keep it. You of course find it tacky and know that your husband will never want you to hang it... but it makes you laugh... so you keep it.

3. But it might be valuable and so keeping it as an investment is a good idea – well, I guess some things are possible... but are you going to make any money if you spend money every month for years to store it?

So this last few weeks, I grew serious about dealing with my 'clutter'. I went to my storage shed determined to keep nothing unless it qualified for three categories. The first category was that it didn't belong to me and as my husband's belongings, I shouldn't unilaterally throw it away (no matter how useless I suspected it would be.) The second was if it was my son's belongings... and then I needed to ask myself if the belongings were useful, age appropriate or older, and something that he would really use or want later. The last reason was I could only keep something if it was truly sentimental and not something that I 'liked' but didn't need. So I got to work and after several trips to my house, the free room, and the dump... I am done!

It amazed me how much stuff I needed to get rid off. It also amazed me how anxiety producing the whole experience was for me. It was really hard to give away things that were not really useful, but were 'mine'. So as I really struggled with this (and have for years), I found the only way to actually do it right was to have an 'outside' anxiety pressure me harder so that I couldn't feel the anxiety of giving away my things. Frankly, that's pretty crazy! So I have taken a little time to try and think over that particular issue. Why did I feel so uncomfortable giving away things? Things that do not matter. Things that are not even very valuable or needful for almost anyone on the planet. Why was that soooo hard?

It turns out that the less money you have, the harder it is to give away things- even broken, useless things. That isn't the only answer. Apparently, many people feel uncomfortable if they do not have lots of things. Even things that are not valuable play into their self esteem and good thoughts about themselves and how they are doing. So people buy things to make themselves feel better, as a substitute for companionship, as a compulsion because of a mental disorder such as bipolar disorder, or just because it feels 'good' to be surrounded by things. So, I probably felt some anxiety because I do have difficulty in affording things, I 'feel the need' to feel better and spending money helps with that, and it makes me feel useful and successful.

That is a little sad. Here I am, a beautiful daughter of God, with a wonderful husband, an amazing child, almost a new house.... blessings every where I look, but I am unable to fully appreciate them because I have so much anxiety about unimportant things. I have faith, a powerful testimony, and anxiety so crippling I am unsure how to utilize them. So... I have mastered the first step of realizing that there is a problem. Now I need to deal with it. That doesn't sound very fun.


2010 Poetry Corner #4 - "Confusion Unfurled"

Here I am

lying in bed with my son
dog at my feet
cat near my head
eyes closed

…. to my stomach growl
…. to my heart break
…. to the still small voice of comfort
…. to the sound of my tears
…. for the inspiration I seek

I am confused
I need peace

May peace come on light feet to my soul


History of a Song: March - "I Need Thee Every Hour"

The lyrics/song “I Need Thee Every Hour” was written in 1872 by Annie Hawks and Robert Lowry. Ms. Annie Sherwood Hawks was born in New York in May 1835 and was residing in Bennington, Vermont at her death on January 8, 1918. She was a prolific writer and began writing verse at the age of fourteen. She wrote dozens of articles for magazines and newspapers and wrote almost 400 hymns during her lifetime. Ms. Hanks began writing religious verse at the request of her Baptist pastor Robert Lowry who would then put the verse to music. This song was by far her most famous hymn.

When she was asked about how her inspiration for the hymn, she wrote:

“One day as a young wife and mo­ther of 37 years of age, I was bu­sy with my reg­u­lar house­hold tasks. Sud­den­ly, I be­came so filled with the sense of near­ness to the Mast­er that, won­der­ing how one could live with­out Him, ei­ther in joy or pain, these words, “I Need Thee Ev­e­ry Hour,” were ush­ered in­to my mind, the thought at once tak­ing full pos­sess­ion of me. Seating myself by the open window in the balmy air of the bright June day, I caught up my pencil and the words were soon committed to paper."

This hymn has been sung and performed by thousands including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Jars of Clay, Don Moen, and the Debra Fotheringham band. Over the last two weeks, I have prayed and sung this hymn almost constantly, attempting to hold back my shock and grief from a recent family problem. This hymn has helped sustain me when I have felt alone and ready to just fall over and cry until I disappear from the tears and pain. It has truly been a gift and a miracle in my life this month.

What does this hymn mean to you? Do you like it? And if you have had need of it, how have you used it to sustain you?