Blessed Through Music


I woke up on Saturday and realized I hadn't taken any time off in 12 days. And because I work from home, I am always connected.

I was reminded of priorities and self-care this past week (and as I crawl toward the inevitable date of the anniversary of Mami's passing this weekend). I need to do more of it. Like I did this weekend.

And that's not just physical. It's mental and emotional. My dad is back and the toxicity of his hurt, grief and inability to express it appears to be slowly permeating through my peace. Which means that I need to clear my space and create what I need for myself and the frog princess.  As I walk towards my word of the year, transcending will mean that I must leave things behind. And people.

But there are constants. This past week I was driving and thinking about Mami and wishing she was here and thinking about how she would respond to this thing or that. Suddenly, I Can Only Imagine was playing on the radio. The song played as they carried her out of the church that last time. It now plays with perfect timing as it did that week after she passed (though it had been months since I heard it on the radio, I got a chance to listen to it every day that week).

There are days that I wake up with a song in my heart. At first I didn't think anything of it. Figured it was my brain remembering the last song it heard (ala It's a Small World). But then I realized it was more of a private message put there by God himself. A smile. A hug.

On Sunday, the song was We Lift Our Hands. Have you ever heard the song? You can't not be in a praising mood after you hear it. So my heart woke up dancing. I rushed to church, dropped the frog princess off in her classroom and off I went.

I found my seat then I heard that they had taken a vote on what songs were going to play this week via social media (where was I?). I knew in my heart what would happen next. We Lift Our Hands started playing and the energy in that sanctuary went through the roof. I had tears in my eyes. Because, like the song playing on the radio, I was reminded that God was near. That He is walking with me through this journey. That He is keeping His promises when no one else seems to be. And for me, that is more than enough.

Are you ever blessed through music?


Teacher Tuesday: Schooling with Stilettos

Now, I'm sure you're thinking about a fabulous little story of someone in stilettos motivating me. Well, that's only partly true.

Today's teacher was Ms. Dollz. She was a sassy Cuban blonde and was my music teacher throughout elementary school. Ms. Dollz was in charge of putting on the shows, the musicals, the pizzaz. To say that she had attitude was an understatement. To think that she did not command respect was a mistake.

You see, Ms. Dollz was old school. She believed in discipline. She believed that when she was speaking, kids should be quiet. And when that didn't happen, well, you got the heel. No, literally! While rehearsing shows she was notorious for flinging her shoe to get your attention! I remember my poor brother got the shoe once and he was shocked by it. But, he never tried to cut the fool with her again.

While the stiletto was definitely her signature move, it was obvious that she loved children and loved instilling her love of music and performance in all of us.  I adored her because she was fun and to me, funny.

Ms. Dollz reminded us all that teachers deserved (and in her case, demanded) respect. We all had fun in her class, I can assure you. We learned about music in different cultures, about dance and about the power of laughter.

Did you have a teacher that seemed stern but that you learned something from?

Do You Have a Theme Song?

My girlfriend Wendy posted an awesome FB status today "I wish I had a theme song that played whenever I did something awesome." I've often wondered about this. What song would I play on an old school boombox after some crazy stuff goes down and I look totally awesome (like, when I walk someone through how to do something on Windows, successfully help a mami birth a child - this hasn't happened yet but, I know it's a matter of time - or find the dog's piss in the house)?

Truth is, I am not sure.  When Wendy asked this question I immediately posted a YouTube link of Tina Turner's Simply The Best because that song rocks!  Would it be Tina?  Simply Red? U2? Aaliyah? MJ? Truth is, I think we all have theme songS. Plural.  They rotate based on our situation and current disposition.

This evening, I'm sitting here after a long day with little sleep but lots of giggles and I'm grateful.  This train of thought led me back to Holding Back the Years by Simply Red and I am transported to a different time and place. Like link you grab on to and pull only find it's connected to an infinite number of links to create a chain, the songs come: The End of the Innocence, The Heart of the Matter, Sometimes Love Ain't Enough (I quoted from this song today!),  Hotel California (I always liked this song but I didn't fall in love with it until I heard Marc Anthony do it live!), Somewhere Over the Rainbow (I want this played at my funeral so maybe this is the ultimate theme song), Alone (yeah, I kinda like Heart).  I can go on and on and on.  Prince, Michael Jackson, Janet, Madonna, Cindy Lauper, Zane, Groove Theory.

The songs don't necessarily have to relate to one another.  But your life crosses multiple music roads (at least mine does).  Theme song for my life? I need to think about it.  I'm in a Biggie, Faith Evans, Mary J. Blige, Mary Mary kind of vibe at the moment.  This trip down memory lane could go on for hours. But it is meant to ask this one question: at this time and in this place, what would your theme song be?

Music Tuesday: The iPod Playlist 80's & 90's

I think I secretly want to be a DJ!  I love music though half the time I have no clue who sings what.  Every once in a while, I like to flood my friends' newsfeed with YouTube links to songs I'm listening to.

I started doing that tonight and then thought: am I the only one who feels some kind of way about these song? Do they invoke a strong reminder of a different time (I'm not going to say happier, just different)? Does it remind you of certain people, places or things?  What music from the past brings out the swagger in you?  Share! ;-)

This song made me feel like I could be a lip-synching model!

These words still ring true all these years later.

I love this woman's voice and this song is just in your face good!

It's the Goo Goo Dolls, what else can I say?

If you got the "single" then you know that the remix of this song was the bomb-digitty!



Music Makes the Mami Go 'Round

Tons of work on my plate tonight. I wanted to relax a little so I started playing some videos on YouTube.  One video led to another and suddenly, I felt like a DJ and simply had to post the links to my FB page! Music has always had this ability to open up my heart, relax me and remind me of a time matter how stressed I get, I can always play a few jams and get a smile on my face.

Whether it's Maxwell, Robin Thicke, Melissa Etheridge, The Goo Goo Dolls, Paul Abdul, Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, or Carlos Vives.  It doesn't matter because each rhythm has a special chord that reaches deep down in your soul.  That's the beauty of music, isn't it? That it can touch you somewhere in the muddy waters of your soul and pull out a fresh cup of water, clear as air. I mean, I don't care what kind of day you are having, if you hear Prince's P**** Control or Sexy MF, how does it make you feel?

Well, maybe it's just me but songs can make me feel like I got all of my mami swagger back.  They can remind me of a certain outfit I wore long ago, or a group of friends that I used to hang out with.  Music can transcend time and space along with emotion.

What song brings you to a happy place?  What song do you like to listen to when you're feeling down? Now if you'll excuse me, Robin Thicke is calling my name with one of his songs.  I'll let you guess which one...