Recently, my long-time friend and colleague, Eily Marlow and I developed a day-long workshop called Being Real: Practicing Humility, Courage, and Authenticity in Everyday Life. The stories and the challenges that Eily and I shared as we were preparing for the workshop have stayed with me and continued to evolve over time. So have the lessons and stories of those who participated in the workshop. In this series of blog posts, I am sharing some of those lessons and reflections in the hopes that a wider circle of people will benefit from what we have learned. This is part 4 of 4. Click here for part 1, part 2, or part 3.
Being Real (Part 4):
During certain events or seasons in my life, I often select a “theme song” or develop a playlist as a way of honoring the experience. For example, the guests at our wedding received a cd of songs that were meaningful to Tim and me. I still make “mixed tape” cds for friends as they go through a life transition or head out on a road trip.
Music is also a form of prayer for me. It helps give voice to my experience when I have run out of words. When my mom died, I listened to Wanting Memories by Sweet Honey in the Rock over and over again. After my heart attack, Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees became my theme song for a long stretch. Playing that song helped me face my mortality with a sense of joy and gratitude and spunk. My young children and I often dance around the kitchen to this song. That, too, feels like prayer.
For me, the process of selecting theme songs and compiling playlists spans the emotional spectrum from melancholy, grief, and longing, to joy, whimsy, and even silliness. I need music of all genres as a spiritual lexicon for the full range of my experience. Choosing, listening to and singing these songs inspires me, helps me feel less alone, and gives voice to emotions that I do not have words for.
When Eily and I were planning our Being Real workshop, I chose a theme song for us: You, You, You, by the Okee Dokee Brothers, a favorite band for Eily’s children and mine. When we felt stuck in our planning process or needed a musical pep talk, we played the song for one another or just sang the line, “I love it when you you. . . .”
I put together a Being Real Playlist around the themes that emerged from our workshop: authenticity, courage, and humility. These songs inspire me to share my authentic self with others. I hope you find some meaning in them as well. And perhaps they will inspire you to add a few songs of your own.
Link to the playlist on Spotify here
Sometimes we are not who we want to be or who we thought we were.
- The Pretender by Jackson Brown
- That Wasn’t Me by Brandi Carlile
- She Used to Be Mine by Sara Bareilles
Being Real means accepting and loving yourself
- Born This Way by Lady Gaga
- How Could Anyone by Libby Roderick
- Video by India.Arie
- This is Me by Keala Settle and The Greatest Showman Cast
Being Real Takes Courage
Being and becoming yourself happens in relationship with others.
- Shower the People by James Taylor
- Thin Line by the Indigo Girls
- Wanting Memories by Sweet Honey in the Rock
You don’t always have to take yourself so seriously.
- You, You, You by the Okee Dokee Brothers
- High, Wide, and Handsome by Loudan Wainwright III
- In Spite of Ourselves By John Prine and Iris Dement
Being real means getting in touch with and owning your feelings—even unwanted and complicated ones
Sometimes being real means drawing a line or holding a boundary
Being Real means saying what needs to be said
Being Real means accepting things you can’t change and understanding it might not always be this way
- It Won’t Be Like This for Long by Darius Rucker
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