Photograph by Eric Nopanen
How did it go?
In case you missed it, last week we went back to basics with our coloring challenge.
Did you find a spare moment to treat yourself to a little creative therapy? Remember, take as little or as much time as you have/need. There are no set “rules”. The only “rule”? Take some time this week, a little or a lot, to stoke the creative flame.
What did I do?
I colored with my son! I didn’t have a lot of time this week, as we went out of town to visit family, and I’m busy helping coordinate VBS with my church. But it felt great to use the little bit of time I took to care for myself creatively.
I used craft paper and Little Monster’s baby crayons cause that’s what I had. The music I chose was the Dixie Chicks’ first album Wide Open Spaces cause it’s the best sing along album EVER. Here’s what me and Monster came up with in the 3/4 of the album we made it through:
Last week, we went back to a time when coloring and creativity was considered your “job”.
When you’re a kid, it’s your job to be creative, because creativity helps you learn.
But isn’t it still our job to be creative?
Creativity makes the world go round. Creativity is what is responsible not just for the art and culture that make life beautiful, but for inventions that make our lives easier, scientific discoveries that save lives, and figuring out how to make dinner out of a pantry of scraps.
We know the value of creativity, but still, so many of us fail to cultivate it. Somehow, our grown-up practical brains tend to take over and remind us of the to-do list we should be tackling instead of sitting down with our watercolors or guitar.
We need to shut down that side of our brain for a while.
That’s why we’re going to indulge in something that has the power to turn off our worries and transport us elsewhere: music.
Music is magical:
It is a current flowing through all of us, a language going deeper than our verbal language, that anyone can understand. Music holds healing properties: it has been shown to boost immunity, reduce blood pressure, and alter your brain waves to trigger a physical and emotional response.
Is it any wonder I say it is magical?
It is also intensely personal. The reason you love your favorite song is in some ways as veiled to you as why you fell in love with your spouse. It’s not something that can be explained with a pros and cons list. You love it because you just do.
That’s why we’re going to take a little trip through your musical memories today. We’re going to remind you of your musical biography and the place certain songs hold in your life.
We’re going to remind you of the power of music, and why it-and creativity in general-deserve a place in your life.
Because your favorite song isn’t just your favorite song: it’s the song you turned up to drown out your broken heart. It’s what you put on so you have the energy to feed your family when you’re grey with sickness and all you want to do is crawl into bed. It’s the soundtrack to an evening spent with the one you love.
Music isn’t just an accompaniment to life. In some ways, it powers our lives.
Photograph by Umberto Cofini
A note before we begin: An option for you as we continue with this summer’s ABC’s.
My intention for these ABC’s is for you to open a tiny window in your very full life to enjoy some creativity and some inspiration. My goal is to feed you. I don’t in any way want this to feel just like one more “thing” you have to do. I don’t want this to be a burden or a task.
So, if incorporating journaling into your ABC journey is going to make doing the challenges feel like work, please don’t do it. Have fun with the challenges and get back to life. However, if you are prone to sometimes-overwhelming-amounts-of-introspection like I am, it can be nice to journal and collect your thoughts.
So, if you choose, go ahead and get yourself a notebook designated for this purpose. I’m going to include some optional journaling questions at the end of every challenge so you can track your journey.
Ok, ready gang?
Grab your journal -or a scrap of paper if you’re not into the journaling thing-and jot a few things down for me.
I want you to write down answers to these questions:
- A favorite song from when you were a child. Just name the first song that pops into your head that made an impact on you under the age of 10. I, for example, remember obsessively singing the Beatles’ Help! with my sister and cousin on a paddleboat in the middle of a lake, getting fried to a crisp.
- A favorite song as a teenager. Music is especially important to an adolescent because you’re working hard to define who you are. Name a song-any song- that held importance to you during this time.
- A favorite song in your 20’s. What was your soundtrack as you were first making your way in the world? For some, this may be as late chronologically as they get, so we’re going to focus on experiences for the next few songs…
- A song you turned to in a time of trouble. Music can make you feel someone out there understands what you are going through.
- A song that always makes you feel amazing. What music do you turn to when you need to turn a day around- or set the mood for a party??
Oh, I could go on and on! It’s so fun to think of music’s place in your life. However, because the A in ABC stands for Achievable, and we have more to do, we’re going to stop there!
Next, we get to listen to our music!
Gather all your songs together. Thankfully, in this age of internet, this is easy to do if you don’t own all your favorite songs. If you don’t feel like downloading them, you can pull almost any song up on YouTube. However you choose to do it, make a playlist so you can listen to these songs all in one fell swoop.
Your job now is easy.
Most songs are between 3-5 minutes long. You have 5 songs here. That means you get 15-25 minutes to do nothing but just let this musical biography wash over you. Just sit and listen. That’s your job.
Now, you can stop here, having just enjoyed this little break of music therapy. That’s cool, you intentionally brought a little art into your life and that is a step in the right direction!
However, if you choose to do a little reflecting today, grab your notebook (or make room in your noggin as you go about your day) and think through these questions:
- When was the last time you sat down to just listen to music? How did it feel?
- Were you affected emotionally by the music? What lyrics or musical moments really stood out to you?
- Why are these songs important to you? What did they mean to you then? What do they mean to you now?
- What memories were evoked as you made your way through the playlist?
- Looking back on those memories, how would that memory have been different if that song hadn’t been there?