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My Music is My Therapy.

Music has always been my greatest form of therapy. And It's cheaper than counseling. I've never needed alcohol. I've never needed drugs. Maybe an occasional bag of chocolate, but other than that- I just needed a good song. Reaching into my heart and tugging on it when it was most needed. But through the years, I realized that I needed to create music for myself. To help me find my way through situations I was having a hard time dealing with. I wanted to find a way to breathe more deeply and find a greater way to relax. I wanted to express what I felt; the pain and the joy.

So I learned the piano. I was 27 when I finally started taking lessons. I don't believe age should limit us on what we learn. Just when. Would I have been better if I had learned as a child? Probably. But I didn't. I needed it when I was in my twenties. I was going back to school full time, and raising young children, and trying to learn to balance life. Which I am still trying to learn to do. But that was the right time for me. I had already been singing most of my life. And it was very much a part of me. But it wasn't the same. I needed to create something that came from somewhere deep within me. I needed the piano.

Sometimes I would sit and play and there were no words to describe what I was feeling. Only the music. And other times, I felt the words coming and couldn't write them down fast enough.

I found myself sitting at my piano, with my eyes closed, playing and feeling what I was feeling. I was becoming aware of what I was feeling. And I was able to express it through song.

On the hard days, when I felt so heavy and stressed, I could sit and play and feel like part of the burden was being lifted from me. On good days, I felt I could sit and play and grow through my happiness. It got to a point that I couldn't walk by the piano without wanting to sit and play. It was giving me strength and healing my soul.

Long before I ever learned to express myself through music, I had come to realize the powerful impact that music could have on others. I recognized the difference in the way I felt when I would listen to different songs and different styles of music, and I realized how it could make a difference in what my mood was. It could uplift me, or it could make me cry. It could comfort a broken heart, or make me feel at peace. It could help us heal.

When I first got out of high school, I spent one year going to community college. I decided that I wanted to major in Psychology and Minor in Music. I wanted to help others heal through music. But after my first psychology class, I realized it wasn't the right time. I got married that following summer and life set a completely new course for me. When I was 27, I went back to school. This time, I decided to major in Music. More specifically, as a "Vocal Performance" major. Which to me meant standing on a stage, leaning on a grand piano, singing sultry jazz with a combo of amazing jazz musicians behind me. That was my idea of vocal performance. However, that was not what it meant to the music department at UCM.

A vocal performance major meant Opera. Classical music. Singing without a microphone, with more vibrato than I like to sing with, singing in a foreign language that I have a hard time expressing. Don't get me wrong. I love Opera. I just don't love singing it. Never before have I felt more humbled, and more nervous, than when I had to get on stage in front of the other "Vocal Performance" majors and sing. I felt so far out of my comfort zone. This feeling was completely new to me. And I didn't like it.

That wasn't therapeutic. That was torture.

But I am glad I had that experience. Because it became more clear to me. I needed to express myself through music. Just not in the form of Opera.

So I began singing songs of the 1940s at Retirement communities. And I fell in love with the audiences. They knew the music and I loved their style. Period. Their vintage everything. The sound, the lyrics, the bands, the image, the clothing, the jewelry. Yes, I found myself in a very happy place when I would sing for the residents of retirement communities. I realized once again, as I performed the older music to the older residents, what an important part music plays in peoples lives. It was incredible. There were patients who had no memory of their past, their names, their children....yet they could remember the words to the songs I would sing. Older residents would get up and dance and then tell me stories of when they would go out dancing to the big bands when they were younger. It created this meaning and bond for me to hear their stories.

The music became mine, even though it was theirs. We were sharing something in common that was so beautiful and yet we were decades apart in age. Music is an amazing universal language of the heart. And it has the ablity to touch the lives of everyone, in some form or another.

I wanted to make music like that. Music that would touch people's hearts. But when I first started writing music, I wrote songs that I thought I should write, but I wasn't always able to feel what I was trying to convey. It wasn't until I started digging deeper inside of my heart, and my past, that I began to free myself from the chains that had been placed on me. I was able to let go of so much of the pain I held on to. I was able to say things that I didn't have the courage to say to another's face. I was able to write words that I wanted to tell myself - That I was amazing. I was able to be the person I wanted to be. Through my songs. And the more I wrote, the more I continued to become that person that I longed to be. Better. Stronger. Wiser. More compassionate. More understanding.

I was able to heal. I was able to look into my heart and see what was broken and try to figure out how to fix it. Or to ask myself WHY I was feeling the way I was. The music gave me strength to move on. And it still does. I still work on it. I still sit at my piano and play, and sing, and write words from my heart. Even if no one else will ever hear what I am playing, I play it for myself. And it still continues to help me grow.

It has been a journey. And I am so grateful for it. And for what it has meant to me in my life. My hope, is to share my music with those who also need it. Not everyone will need it. Not everyone will like it. I know that. And its ok. I just hope that those who do need it, will find it. And those who do love it, will share it. And that we can continue to help one another up through our lives and find things that bring us together. Like music.

Life is not always easy. And sometimes, we need others to help lift us when we fall. My hope is that my music will help lift those who need help standing. To know that they are not alone.

To feel understood. Music has the ability to do that.

That is healing.

And that is my kind of therapy.

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