Character Soundtracks

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Me listening to one of my character soundtracks

Music moves me. I’ve always imagined my life as having a soundtrack playing in the background. Seriously. I’m sure it’s just a result of my being an 80’s mixtape kid combined with my former career in music store management. Whatever it is, it’s still hanging on even though record stores and the 80’s are long gone.

When I’m working on a novel, I have a habit of creating a soundtrack for my characters. When I am writing that character, I listen to her music to get into her head. It really helps. Plus it’s fun to figure out exactly what kind of music my character would listen to. I’ve found some very interesting songs researching my books.

As an audiophile it just makes sense to me that my character would be defined by her music choices. And for me it’s the lyrics. The type of music is not as important as the sentiment. On any given playlist you could find Johnny Cash alongside My Chemical Romance. It just depends on the character and the character’s mood.

It’s hard to write a novel and not write parts of yourself into it. So my characters will always reference music and use it as a way to process parts of their lives, give voice to their emotions. It’s very natural for me.

If you’d like to hear one of my character soundtracks and you happen to be on Spotify (which I highly recommend) here’s a link to a playlist I created for a character in one of my books. I won’t give you a character analysis, but you might just get a peek into another world if you listen to Anna’s music.

 

 

Just Keep Moving

*This post is honest. It is painful to write, but I feel that it needs to be said for those who can’t say it.

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Jake on a very bad day

My son bears the weight of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) daily, but this post is not for him. This post is for the parents and loved ones who must learn how to live with OCD as well. I do not wish to take away from the burden he carries; believe me, I have seen him crippled by this intrusive, invisible bully and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

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Half a day’s worth of gloves

But I am here to acknowledge the others who are involved in this journey alongside them. I am here to remind you that we, too, face a bully. However, our bully is easily recognizable every time we pass a mirror.

How often have you retreated behind the safety of a closed, locked door and screamed into a pillow? How many times have you been blinded by the hot tears of frustration as you drive anywhere just to get away? And how familiar is the feeling of guilt that gnaws at you for all the times that you lost it, yelling at your son out of anger? The emotional turmoil is unrelenting.

I have slammed doors and punched pillows.

I have felt so much pent up rage that I’ve resorted to hitting my thighs with fists clenched so tightly that my nails have drawn blood, just so the bruises on my legs hurt more than the ache in my heart.

I have escaped the tension with a few too many glasses of wine. And then slept through my sadness.

I have sat outside my son’s door listening to the quiet of him sleeping, pretending that he’s just like everyone else. Enjoying the silence maybe a bit too much.

 I have driven to an abandoned lot, turned the music up as loud as I can and screamed until my throat was raw and I was out of breath.

And each time I’ve berated myself with ugly, angry words.

The same kind of sharp words I have heard my son use on himself on his worst days as he curls up in his chair, the chair that is off limits to the rest of the family because we aren’t clean enough, and cries until he has nothing but shadows left inside him.

The same words I save for the days when I hate myself most. You are worthless. You are a burden. You can’t even help him. Loser. I can’t do this anymore.

 There are times that I think if only I had done this instead of that. Said these words instead of those. Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad for him. Maybe he would be better. Maybe I’ve made it worse.

I make myself physically ill worrying over the things that I think I did wrong. But the truth is that on any given day, I’m doing the best I can. My best may not be perfect, but I. Am. Trying.

There is a song in the Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George that really resonated with me one day when I was out trying to walk off the voices in my head that were telling me how wrong I was.

Stop worrying where you’re going – Move on.

If you can know where you’re going, you’ve gone.

Just keep on moving.

 I chose and my world was shaken- So what?

The choice may have been mistaken,

The choosing was not.

You have to move on.

 As parents and caregivers of kids with special needs, it’s easy for us to forget that the best thing we can do is to keep moving.

Some days we will move backwards, tripping over yesterday’s mistakes. Other days we will move forward full of a hope we can barely see. But the only thing that matters is that we are moving. We may not know where we are going, or how we are going to get there, but we will get there.

Yes, we are exhausted. We are overwhelmed. We are heartbroken. We are afraid. We are angry.

But we are here. We are here and we are moving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only Flying

Lately there have been several posts on suicide awareness. I found this post from last March and felt it appropriate to reshare.

Previously Posted on March 26, 2016

You know how you hear a song and it’s just the right song for that moment? The lyrics speak to you on a soul level as if the singer is in your head and giving life to your deepest thoughts. That happened to me today.

I’m a huge fan of Spotify and their weekly Discovery playlist. I was having a bad day and decided that I needed some new music, so I decided to listen to Spotify’s suggestions while I was driving. The first song to play was “that” song. I nearly pulled over to the side of the road just so I could let the lyrics wash over me completely. Instead, I grabbed the pen I keep handy and scribbled the name of the song and artist so I could explore them later. So far today I have listened to the song at least 20 times. Each time I get lost in the experience.

How is it that a song can reach a part of you that nothing, and no one  else can?  It’s the perfect healer – music and words. I have relied on songs to save me for much of my life. On any given day a song will rescue me from despair, or give wings to my joy. I feel weightless when the right song comes along. I close my eyes and fly, each note lifting me higher and higher to a place that is beyond whatever emotion I’m feeling. The song somehow takes me further into the feeling. And for that I am forever grateful. Music has always saved me.

Ever since I can remember I’ve chosen the music I listen to as a soundtrack to my life. Maybe we all do that subconsciously, but I do it very deliberately. Always have. I find a connection in the perfect pairing of words and music that transcends the limits of my own mind. I soar.

I’m not a religious person, although I was raised and schooled in Catholicism. I am, however, very spiritual and have very strong beliefs that are, no doubt, influenced by my upbringing in the church. In my opinion, religion is manmade and spirituality is innate. But that’s not to say that I do not have a connection with the tenets I was raised to believe. I’ve just chosen a different, less regimented, path – a path that is not tied to any one particular religion, or belief system.

That said, the song that touched me so deeply today happened on the day known as Good Friday. The song is “Flight” by Lifehouse, a band that is often considered a Christian band. For me, today, the words hit home in a very spiritual way.

I’ve been struggling with severe bouts of depression lately. On any given day I am nearly crippled by the waves of sadness that wash over me.

I’ve been under water/this storm has been raging/These nights are not sleeping/My dreams are now strangers to me/And I need you now/There’s too many miles on my bones/I can’t carry the weight of the world/No, not on my own.

So when I heard these words, and connected the dots, I felt like it meant something. Something big. And it does.

No matter if you’re religious, spiritual, or other this song is one you should hear. In this world today, we all have so much weight to carry, so much baggage. It’s a good reminder that, whatever your belief system, you don’t have to shoulder the burden alone. It’s too much. Reach out to the Universe, to God, to someone or something. Just don’t be alone.

Find your place to be. No more falling. No more fear. No more hurt.

Only flying.