I am reading Jodi Picoult's latest book, Sing Me Home. The main character talks about how one of her questions for potential boyfriends was for them to make up a musical mix tape that would describe them. This got me thinking . . . what mix tape (or ipod play list) would sum up who I am in ten songs. . . .
Number One - - and a testament to the person who shaped me more than any other -- is Joan Baez's "Honest Lullaby". Yes, I had a mother who sang to me an Honest Lullaby. From as far back as I can remember she did not try to explain away or sugar coat the less than perfect things that happened in my life. She did, however, encourage me to find the diamond in the pile of dirt. One of the life lessons she taught me is that NO experience is a bad experience, as long as you have learned something from it. I hope I am able to pass that legacy on to my child. . .
And if you should ever wonder
How the years and you'll survive
Honey, you've got a mother who sings to you
Dances on the strings for you
Opens her heart and brings to you
An honest lullaby
Number Two is Jewel's "Life Uncommon". This song speaks to my deep belief and feeling that our world will not be saved by violence and hate but only by love and kindness. This is the song I listen to when I am feeling broken by the World.
And lend your voices only to sounds of freedom
No longer lend your strength to that
which you wish to be free from
Fill you lives with love and bravery
And we shall lead a life uncommon
Number Three is "The Long Way Around" by the Dixie Chicks. Yes, my friends from High School really did marry their high school sweethearts and move into same zip codes (okay, same Postal Codes -- I am Canadian) where their parents live. But I took the long way . . . I recently found that as much as I may have wanted to excise my roots from my life, those people who 'knew me when' and I share a common history that makes ALL of us better, kinder people.
No I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow
It's been two long years now
Since the top of the world came crashing down
And I'm getting' it back on the road now
Well, I fought with a stranger and I met myself
I opened my mouth and I heard myself
It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself
Guess I could have made it easier on myself
Number Four is "Cool" by Gwen Stefani. This song is captures how, after 3 years and a lot of healing, I feel about my ex-husband and the 'space' I am in regarding our relationship. Although I, myself, have not found a new partner, his choice is a woman I genuinely like, respect and consider a friend and, yes, we are all 'cool'. Believe me no one is more surprised than I at the level of forgiveness and peace that I have reached after what was a painful loss. Guess between therapy and prayer, I found a way.
And I'll be happy for you
If you can be happy for me
Circles and triangles, and now we're hangin' out with your new girlfriend
So far from where we've been
I know we're cool
Number Five is Chinese Cafe by Joni Mitchell. What can I say, I kind of grew up on Joni, being the youngest sister in a pretty 'hippy' family. Joni's songs -- Chelsea Morning, The Circle Game, Big Yellow Taxi, Both Sides Now -- were the soundtrack of my childhood and teenage years, following my sisters around trying to keep up or figure them out (never did figure them out, but that's okay, I LOVE THEM ALL anyway). Now, as I am in what has been called 'midlife', Chinese Cafe paints the picture of my friendships and where we are collectively and individually. As I watch my friends become grandparents and realize that it is not necessarily a bad thing to become our parents.
This girl of my childhood games
With kids nearly grown and gone
Grown so fast
Like the turn of a page
We look like our mothers did now
When we were those kids' age
Song number six would be Great Big Sea's "Here and Now". It is a song about living our lives in the present. I wasted too many years speculating about a future that changed in an instant and beating myself up over a past that I cannot change. So, this is the anthem for my life in the NOW. Sometimes we all need to be reminded that the only time that we can impact is this moment. The thing about Great Big Sea music is no matter how bad I am feeling when I put it on, I am HAPPY by the end of the second or third song.
The hardest part of life
Is to live while you're alive my friend
So sing an unwritten song
Or repent for the deeds you left undone
This is Here
This is Now
It's the moment that we live for
And we just can't live without
Number Seven. No list of songs to describe me would be complete without something from P!nk. I think she is truly the 'voice' of her generation . . . The Pumpkin and I traveled to Seattle (Washington) to see her in concert and it was one of the most energizing experiences of my life. Three years ago, the song would have been "So What" (it was my unofficial anthem to get my through my divorce). But her newest song, F&ckin Perfect speaks to me on many levels. It is the song I wish I'd heard when I was an awkward 15 year old who believed she could not do anything right. It is the song I silently sing to my own 13 year old praying she knows she is PERFECT just being who she is called to be. It is the song I want ALL 13 year olds to know is the truth . . . be yourself and don't be afraid to find out who that is. Follow your inner voice and you'll be fine.
Made a wrong turn, once or twice.
Dug my way out, blood and fire.
Bad decisions, that's alright.
Welcome to my silly life.
Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood.
Miss 'No way, it's all good', it didn't slow me down.
Mistaken, always second guessing, underestimated.
Look i'm still around
Such a tired game
I've done all I can think of
Chased down all my demons
Seen you do the same
Number Eight is Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac sung by Stevie Nicks in that ethereal voice that is both rough and haunting. When I was in my early 20s I changed my given names. I was the last of six children and the 'well' of names had sort of dried up by the time I came along. As I result I was named after my father's commanding officer (yes, a woman) and my aunt's dog. Not terribly special. Once I had established I wanted to be writer, I knew I needed a more literary name. So, with an affidavit and a couple of government forms, I changed my given name to a long version of my birth name and my middle name to Rhiannon.
She is like a cat in the dark
and then she is the darkness
she rules her life like a fine skylark
and when the sky is starless
All your life you've never seen
woman taken by the wind
Number Ten. "You Learn" by Alanis Morrisette. When I was pregnant with my daughter I overdosed on two particular albums, both by Canadian women. One of them was Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrisette. The other one. . . well, let's just say I recovered from my infatuation with it shortly after the pregnancy hormones stopped flowing. I am approaching the half century mark in my life and I remember hearing Gloria Steimen comment that women 'become themselves' at 50. To get to that place . . . the place knowing without a doubt who I am I have learned a lot of lessons. Most of the important ones were not fun or enjoyable during life's tutorials -- pain is a necessary teacher for the big lessons of life, especially if we are not paying attention the first or second time the lesson is presented.
"You live you learn
You love you learn
You cry you learn
You lose you learn
You bleed you learn
You scream you learn"
10 Linkin Park's "What I've Done" For a very long time after the end of my marriage, and the end of my first career, I was into self-flagellation. The level of regret and guilt rivaled that of my dearest Catholic and Jewish friends. [A discussion among girlfriends once came to the conclusion that while Jewish Mothers may have invented guilt trips, Catholic Mothers perfected them and set up the travel agency that books them.] Now, I was raised by a mother whose standard refrain was the guilt is a wasted emotion. It is passive and akin to stewing in one's own juices or spinning tires on an icy street -- a lot of energy is exerted by nothing comes of it. Slowly I let go of the guilt and found my way to forgiveness. I practiced by forgiving others - - people who had contributed to the debacle that had become my life. The last (and hardest) act of forgiveness was to forgive myself. I am still working on it, but I am happy to say that the periods of self-recrimination are much fewer and farther between. I no longer need a steamer trunk for my guilt trips. . . a light backpack is sufficient.
So let mercy come
And wash away
What I’ve done
I'll face myself
To cross out what i’ve become
And let go of what i’ve done
Put to rest
What you thought of me
While I clean this slate
With the hands of uncertainty
"For what I’ve done
I start again
And whatever pain may come
Today this ends
I’m forgiving what I’ve done!!!"
So. . . .what would be on YOUR life's playlist....