Life in 6 Songs: Vol. 17 (Hippie and Mary)

In six songs, tell us about your life. 

By now most of you know the drill, but if you are a new visitor, welcome! We challenged our guests to tell us their life stories: “The project is simple, though maybe not easy: Tell us a story–your story–in six songs. And then for fun, wrap up your life in a bonus seventh song.” The series runs every Monday through September. We are currently booked to capacity–thank you!–but before the series wraps-up, we will plan a special event where everyone will be welcome to join in. Until then feel free to check out our past volumes and enjoy this week’s stories.

Our special guests this week are:

Karen (aka Hippie) from Hippie Cahier and Mary from A Wilderness of Words. You know how some writers inspire you with the way they use words to bend and paint and create an entirely new and sparkly universe? How they make you want to be a better writer or artist? How you just feel kinda lucky to have crossed paths with them because they’re just that awesome? Well that’s how Karen and Mary make me feel. Not only can these ladies write, but I’m utterly convinced they have music in their blood. Obviously, I’m a big Karen and Mary fan. I know you will be too, so if you’re not following them, stop what you’re doing and go follow them right now. But come back! It’s easy to get lost in Karen’s Hyperbole and in Mary’s Wilderness of Words

Enjoy this week’s “Life in 6 Songs” everyone!

Peace. Love. Music. via

Peace. Love. Music.


Karen (from Hippie Cahier)

Like anyone who is likely to be reading this, there is too much music in my head, in my heart, in my soul, and in my various collections for this to be a simple exercise. What follows is not a list of my favorite songs or my favorite artists or my favorite genres. It’s the result of a lot of thinking, hunting, gathering, and the culling of pages and pages of handwritten thoughts to arrive at a set that describes a little of the story of my life so far.

With the exception of the first song, I tried to find official videos or at least a video of a performer and not a personal video created by a fan. That eliminated many songs by artists who don’t have much of an official YouTube presence, such as Patty Griffin, Antje Duvekot, The Subdudes, and NRBQ.

I also avoided reading other participants’ lists because when I started to look at them, I saw songs that I’d been considering. Although sometimes that was disappointing, I’m happy to know we are musical kindred spirits. Any duplication you see here of someone else’s choices is either coincidental or I decided it was significant enough to me to keep it anyway.

I’m looking forward to going back to see where my choices coincide with others’.

This was such an enjoyable project. Thank you for including me!

And now, take six:

Song #1 (and tell us why briefly):

Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies (1969)

I was in first grade when this song came out. After-school television was a big thing for my generation. We came home to snacks and, beginning in 1971, on our local UHF channel a man named Captain Chesapeake and his sea monster Mondy hosted cartoons like Speed Racer and re-runs of shows like The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island.

I chose this video of a song from a 1968 cartoon called The Archie Show, which someone put together with images of Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island. I have always been more Mary Ann than Ginger.

Song #2:

Steal My Sunshine” by Len (1999)

Technically, this song came out long after my adolescence. I didn’t even know about it until a few years ago. It’s just silly and fun, as adolescence should be, but it’s also true on a metaphorical level, especially when an energy vampire is bringing me down.

I have always loved the beach and as a teenager I dreamed of living on the beach. As a young adult I lived a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. For four fabulous years, I wore a bikini almost every day.

Two things I would change about this video: I’d include the line from the radio version where someone shouts out, “KAREN, I LOVE YOU!” and I’d get rid of that Yankees cap.

If you’re a Yankees fan, bygones. If you’re not a Yankees fan, well then, you catch my drift.

Song #3:

Coming Around Again/Itsy Bitsy Spider” Carly Simon (1989)

Chronologically re-syncing with my life, this performance was recorded at one of my favorite places (Martha’s Vineyard) at one of my favorite times of my life. I’ve worn a variety of personal and professional hats, but the thing I am most proud of is being a mom. Whenever I hear this, I remember my little ones with diapers full of sand from Uncle Seth’s pond or Lambert’s Cove Beach. Yes, I smiled wistfully as I typed that.

I’m still holding out hope that it will someday be revealed that Carly Simon is my mother or my much older sister. It would explain a lot.

Song #4:

Compass Point” by Lowen and Navarro (c. 1993)

Then a lot of stuff happened, some of it magic, some of it tragic. Even if it were worth telling, it’s been a long life so there’s lots to tell. Don’t nobody got time for that.

Look for more in the upcoming unauthorized autobiography, Hippie Cahier: The Missing Years. Be sure to check the foreword, wherein I apologize to John Prine for removing “Quit Hollerin’ At Me” from my six songs list. There was this whole thing about life as an INFJ, and I wasn’t sure that was interesting to a broad population.

Looking back I realize how different my life is than what I thought it would be, which is something most of us experience. It’s still true that “the road is never-ending (and) my compass point is bending.” That’s what makes the ride worthwhile.

Song #5:

Fighter” by Christina Aguilera (2002)

This song is a perennial in my workout playlist, usually at about the spot where push-ups come into my routine. It’s a productive reminder to be grateful for hard lessons learned and a means of channeling negative emotions into a feeling of power. I am grateful to a number of people whose behavior had a negative impact on my life, because they are now responsible for my upper body strength.

Song #6:

Best Day of My Life” by American Authors (2013)

Life has been just as good to me and just as hard for me as it has been for anyone else. The best I can do in the hard times is to keep believing that each day has the potential to be a great one, or at least better than the day before. And in the good times, I am happy to celebrate each day as the best day of my life. I think this is a good one for the (almost) finale.

Bonus Song #7 (If you could wrap up your life story in ONE SONG, or if you have a personal theme song, or even a song you want played at your funeral, what would that song be and why?):

Closer to Fine” by Indigo Girls (1989)

I have consistently maintained that I am consistently inconsistent and that I’m not even close to having answers for myself, let alone anyone else. I might also have chosen James Taylor’s “Secret Of Life” for a bonus song, because I think there’s a similar message.

In the end, I flipped a coin and the Indigo Girls won.

Karen’s playlist:

* Karen blogs at Hippie Cahier. She is from The United States.


Mary (from A Wilderness of Words)

Song #1: 

“The Swimming Song” by Loudon Wainwright (Vetiver version)  

I grew up always close to water.  When we lived in Wanakena, there was a river below the hill with a kid-friendly beach and a dock with a diving board.  When we moved to Star Lake, the lake was the epicenter of our universe.  My father taught us how to swim.  Knowing how to swim was important to him, and my siblings and I (seven of us, total) took his lessons to heart.  We swam like fish through those summer months; we almost grew fins and a tail.  The first time I heard this song, I saw the sun on the lake and felt the water slapping against my skin again.

Bonus:  The video with this version is positively gleeful to watch.  It makes me want to try my hand at longboarding.

Song #2:

Lippy Kids” by Elbow

My teen years were angsty.  I was an outlier (though I didn’t know the word, then), without a connection to place, constantly feeling like I wasn’t a part of the world I found myself living in.  I hated the smallness of the school, the town, and the people.  There was no poetry or color.  I wanted large.  I wanted more.  I was probably surly a lot.  This song makes me smile in recognition.  Looking back, I wasn’t the only one hanging out on Greco’s porch with no place to go, smoking cigarettes and cursing.

Song #3:

Mad World” by Tears for Fears (Gary Jules version)

I got the hell out of Dodge (read: Star Lake, NY) as soon as I graduated from high school.  I tried out a few places over the next few years – predominantly Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (too hot, too many retirees), and Boulder, Colorado (great place, made a few good friends, but ultimately it was too dry, too snowy, too far from water).  I was still trying to figure out who I wanted to be.  People were strange.  I was strange.  And, then, here came Tears for Fears with an anthem for exactly how I felt.  Bless their hearts.

Song #4:

Open Arms” by Elbow

In spite of trying to put distance between myself and the place I came from, there were times when my heart felt frayed, and I needed the people who knew me, if not best, at least the longest.  I have always had a complicated relationship with my parents and my siblings.  For all our differences and our grievances, my family is where I turned when I felt lost.  This song (yes, I know I have included two Elbow songs – I really like them) sums up for me why that it is.

Song #5:

This Must Be the Place” by Talking Heads (Sean Hayes version)

I have always loved summer best.  For a long time I measured my life by summers.  It was summer when I drove from Colorado back to Dodge to attend my brother’s wedding.  The evening before the wedding, I met my brother’s best man, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.  Three years later, on another summer day, we were married beneath the apple trees in a friend’s back yard.  A job brought us to Rhode Island, but I knew that the place I needed to be was with the man.  I wasn’t wrong.

Song #6:

Lullaby” by Dixie Chicks

A true thing about me:  I have one child.  A boy I have been in love with for all of time and then some.  He is the icing on the cake of my life.  He is my best job ever.  I could go on ad nauseam, but I’ll let the Dixie Chicks tell you how I feel.  They have a sweet tune and better words.

Bonus song #7:

Counting Stars” by One Republic

This is where I’ve got to.  Mostly happy, most of the time.  Persistently doing my own thing, even when it’s not the right thing or might even be the wrong thing.  It seems to be working so far.  Time will tell.

Mary’s Playlist

* Mary blogs at A Wilderness of Words. She currently lives in Rhode Island, USA.


Thanks again for being our guests, Karen and Mary!

Burning Bridges and Smashing Pumpkins (Braveheart Chronicles Vol. 4)

We spend the bulk of our lives gathering, accumulating, acquiring … things, memories, emotions. Just stuff really. There’s no bravery in hoarding though, in holding on. We hold on because we’re scared to let go.

Bravery is all in the letting go.

~~Christy; excerpt from For my 40th birthday, I’m gonna let it go….


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I don’t have a large circle of friends, but it’s tight and knotted together with intuitive deliberation. There is a loving balance of kindness and respect between my husband, children, best friend and a few other close peeps. We don’t tiptoe, hide or fake it with each other. If one poops in the other’s nest…we hear about it, we apologize and move on.


My nature is to see the best in everyone–it’s a gift I’m grateful for and practice daily. Even then, I’m sensible enough to recognize a toxic person when he or she starts to spray fragrant poison my direction. Debbie-downers, negative people and tall tree sap-suckers have been systematically (but lovingly) weeded out of my life. Long story short, 95% of my relationships have been and are healthy.

It’s that other 5% that has me rocked and on a bridge burning mission.

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Do you know an individual who has a death-grip on your heart? Squeezing out and slurping up your last bit of oxygen-rich blood. Someone who takes up space in your brain and yet makes very little room for you in theirs.

Someone who is an ever-present virus. Presenting as a low-grade fever for months until a full-blown illness attacks and leaves you hugging the porcelain.

Ugh. I do. In fact, I have two of them.

If your situation is similar to mine, these relationships often start under the guise of friendship–small talk, banter and common ground. You form a connection and the bond is built before it’s too late to tie a tourniquet around the fatal hemorrhage and stop the subsequent bleed-out.

For me, I could see warning signs: co-dependency, marital problems, poor self-esteem and pent-up anger. Gentle conversations that started out happy often ended with mean-spirited words about others and even worse ones about self. With each of these friends, I experienced emotions and situations not present in my own life or part of anything I’d ever known.

Empathy lured me in and I became enthralled by poetic unfamiliarity and a desire to help. Ironically, they both came into my life about the same time and each continue to claim squatter’s rights in my brain.


It’s not their lifestyles or circumstances that make them toxic–I’m very open-minded and slow to judge anyone at the short end of the stick. The problem has been in how they deal with these issues and treat me in response. One of these friends has such rotten self-esteem that the only way for her to feel better is to make me feel worse. The other has been deployed, kicked out of his home when he returned and thrown into jail. He has undiagnosed PTSD and as a result, is emotionally abusive to children and spouse. Each of these friends are lost, broken souls and my heart aches and longs to be “the one” who can save them.

Where’s my cape?

I’ve been running around for years thinking it was my job to reassure and make them feel better about themselves. I launched a crusade to encourage and remind them that they were/are still a good mom/dad, wife/husband/friend despite life’s cruel card deck. I know now, in the guise of being a good friend, I was actually setting the stage for an enabling, life-sucking, co-dependent relationship.

The funny thing is, we each recognized the signs of the unhealthy despair between us. In each instance, I implemented “no contact” rules and took much-needed breaks when their lives took a toll on mine. I’d find ways to put them out of my mind, keep busy and stick to the promise…until my phone beeped with a text message or phone call.

“I’m having a really bad day. Can you talk?”

Those talks made them feel better, more valuable and loved. I’d leave feeling drained, worried and used. Again.


This situation reminds me of a pumpkin that used to grow in the middle of my pink petunia bed. One day, out of the blue, this vine popped up, its roots burrowed and life started to flourish.

My first thought was to yank it out and throw it in the compost. But it looked so healthy. Green leaves, yellows blossoms and aggressive roots–how could I throw it away?

So, I nurtured it. The leaves were expansive and thriving. Every time I watered and weeded the bed, I tended to the pumpkin, too.  Soon, it became a monster. It choked out the petunias, pilfered the fertilizer and robbed time that should have been spent in other parts of the garden.

Every morning, against my better judgment, I watered it again, fed the soil and protected it from bugs. I even put up a trellis so that I could wall off, isolate and separate the invasion from the more healthy parts of my life garden.

It thrived while everything around it grew ill and listless.


Here’s where the bravery comes in. Those two people need to go and grow elsewhere. They don’t belong in my life and their presence/absence is wrecking me on the insides. They haven’t made room for me and I’m done making room for them.

That said, I’m terrified to toss the struck match and burn the pretty bridge. You’d think it’d be easy to turn my back, but it’s not. What if one of them needs me?

What if I need one of them?

When you’re in relationships like these, it’s easy to focus on happy memories, good feelings and better times. For me, time heals wounds and I forget even faster than I forgive.

I can’t keep answering when she calls. I can no longer feel bad about myself for her lack of good choices and the fact that she can’t love her kids or husband until she learns to love herself.

I can’t continue to respond to his text messages. Those where he asks for advice, seeks reassurance and wonders what to do or where to go when an argument erupts in their fragile home.

If I don’t walk away now, I’m going to start to believe horrible things about myself. Things I never believed until I played a part in building the vine-infested, strangled-out weedy bridge of toxic filth.

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Here’s the promise to myself. The one that I’ll carry out as soon as the “publish” button is hit. The box is open, match extracted and flint is poised to strike.

I’ll say prayers for my old friend and her family. I’ll send peaceful, happy vibes to him and his children. I wish loving kindness for them and hope that they can piece together the broken parts with understanding and support in their own homes. But I won’t answer calls, texts or e-mails when they decide that they need a Michelle feel-good fix.

And so, I’m off to burn my pretty poetic bridge and smash the pumpkin. Those friends will have to cross and climb over somebody else.


Audience participation time: Have you had a relationship that you just couldn’t shake? If so, how did you do it? What was the final breaking point that made you walk away? What made it so difficult….or so easy?

And finally, in my favorite RoS fashion–a playlist to share!

#1 To pump me up
#2 A message to someone who will never read this
#3 Saying goodbye once and for all

A HUGE thank you to Christy for giving me this platform to share, helping me pick the last song…and lending a box of matches when I needed them the most. xo


Life In Six Songs: Vol. 16 (Goldfish and Rara)

In six songs, tell us about your life. 

By now most of you know the drill, but if you are a new visitor, welcome! We challenged our guests to tell us their life stories: “The project is simple, though maybe not easy: Tell us a story–your story–in six songs. And then for fun, wrap up your life in a bonus seventh song.” The series runs every Monday through September. We are currently booked to capacity–thank you!–but before the series wraps-up, we will plan a special event where everyone will be welcome to join in. Until then feel free to check out our past volumes and enjoy this week’s stories.

Our special guests this week are:

Goldfish from Fish of Gold and Rara Queen (Rarasaur) from Rarasaurboth whom I’ve had the pleasure of reading for almost as long as I’ve been WordPressing. I’m so happy to have Goldfish and Rara here today! Please be sure to leave them some love in the comments, and stop by their blogs to say hello.

Enjoy this week’s “Life in 6 Songs” everyone!


Goldfish (from Fish of Gold)

Song #1 (and tell us why briefly):

Barracuda” by Heart

I was seven when I first heard this song. Some rather terrible things happened when I was seven years old involving child sexual abuse. “Barracuda” was one of the pedophile’s favorite songs. I couldn’t listen to this song for most of my life because it was a huge trigger. I’ve since reclaimed it because, dammit, it is a badass song and the monsters can’t keep anything from me anymore. At least the sick sadistic bastard had good taste in music.

Song #2:

Anarchy In The UK” by the Sex Pistols

I first heard the Sex Pistol’s album Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols when I was fourteen or fifteen years old. Along with several other seminal punk albums, it pretty much changed everything about me forever. It was the first time I ever heard naughty swear words, and words like anarchy and abortion in music. On discovering punk, I went from a shy girl afraid of my own shadow to a punk peacock who didn’t give a hang what anyone thought. It was totally liberating. I had a huge crush on Sid Vicious. I still wear a padlocked chain around my neck Sid-style, although now, it’s sterling silver. Sadly, my taste in men hasn’t really improved since then.

Song #3:

Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun” by The Beastie Boys

When I was eighteen, instead of trotting off to college like a good little girl, I moved to inner city Detroit. I became addicted to crack cocaine, which quickly turned me into a prostitute, because strangely, having a hardcore drug addiction seriously cuts down on job opportunities. This lifestyle eventually left me homeless in the middle of a Michigan winter. Good times were not had by all. In fact, I did actually end up looking down the barrel of a gun. However, Paul’s Boutique is still one of my favorite Beastie Boys albums. Unlike a lot of the albums on this list, it doesn’t automatically take me back to that time when I hear it, probably because I never really stopped listening to it.

Song #4:

Walking In The Great Shining Path of Monster Trucks” by Clutch

Once I recovered from being a homeless prostitute drug addict, in my early twenties I landed in an abusive relationship with a sociopath. He nearly killed me, literally and metaphorically. The good times just kept rollin’. I discovered Clutch with their first album, Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes And Undeniable Truths, and I’ve loved them ever since. This band and I grew up together, not literally, mind you, but in a way, we did. We matured together and they don’t sound much now like they did then. The sociopath hated Clutch. I got tickets to go see them at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit. We made it all the way to the show before the sociopath made me scalp the tickets so we could do something he wanted to do instead. He pocketed the money. Ever since I rid myself of the sociopath, I go see Clutch every chance I get. They’re still together and making music so I’ve seen them more than any other band. Every time I go to a Clutch show it’s a big eff you to the sociopath. Eff you, sociopath. “I got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle”

Song #5:

Do Or Die” by the Dropkick Murphy’s

Most of my of my friends believed the sociopath’s story over mine, so I ran away and spent a few years in Boston. The Dropkick Murphys will always be a Boston band to me. Well, they’ll always be a Boston band to everyone, because that’s what they are. What I mean is that whenever I hear them, I think of Boston. No matter how old I get or where in the world I end up living, The Dropkicks will always be Boston. I spent three shows backstage with them for their yearly St. Patrick’s Day shows a few years ago. They’re the nicest guys. Cheers, fellas.

Song #6:

King Of The Road” by Fu Manchu

The final stop on our musical journey is Los Angeles, where I currently live. Much like the Dropkicks are inherently Boston, the mighty Fu Manchu are the quintessential southern California band. They just sound like Los Angeles to me, if that makes any sense. It probably doesn’t, but much like the Beach Boys decades before, The Fu is the ocean, the culture and the sound all rolled into one. These guys will always be Los Angeles to me no matter where I live. This song is made for driving down Pacific Coast Highway with your windows down, preferably in a classic muscle car, which I actually did when I still had my 1970 Buick Skylark GS.

Bonus Song #7 (If you could wrap up your life story in ONE SONG, or if you have a personal theme song, or even a song you want played at your funeral, what would that song be and why?):

Non, je ne regrette rien” by Edith Piaf

This song is a call to arms for anyone who’s been dealt a rough hand in life. Edith’s past was about as checkered as my own, and we survived. In English, some of the lyrics are:

No, I regret nothing. Not the good things that have been done to me nor the bad things, to me these are the same. It’s paid for, removed, forgotten. I don’t care about the past. With my memories, I lit the fire. Swept away for always, I start again from zero.

Goldfish’s playlist:

* Goldfish blogs at Fish of Gold. She is from Los Angeles, California.


Rara (from Rarasaur)

Song #1: 

Days Like These” by The Cat Empire

I had a pretty great childhood.  There was a lot of laughter, smiles, and grand adventures. There was head-bobbin’, grin-makin’, food-fryin’, and other bouncy times.  It was busy, and fast-paced.  If there were lyrics to my childhood, I can almost guarantee that no one besides me could make them out.

And dirty hands–
I like them see,
They make the music that we play
Sound, oh so sweet,
And my mother always made me eat broccoli
And now look at me
I’m as strong as can be!
So put some spice in my sauce
Honey in my tea
An ace up my sleeve
And a slinky plan b
And most importantly
My mad family.

Song #2:

Love You Madly” by Cake

For a while, I was obsessed with love. Finding it, keeping it, taking it to the next level– and discovering the very height of it.  Love of people.  Love of art.  Love of things.  Love of madness.

I don’t want to think about it
I don’t want to talk about it
When I kiss your lips
I want to sink down to the bottom
Of the sea.
I want to love you madly.

Song #3:

Video” by India Arie

The funny thing is, when I was obsessed with learning everything I could about love, I found a nice little groove where I really learned to love myself.  It was a happy accident.

I’m not the average girl from your video
And I ain’t built like a supermodel
But I learned to love myself unconditionally,
Because I am a queen.

Song #4:

Sleep is the Enemy” by Danko Jones

And then I just got really distracted, and really distanced from the things I knew to be true.  I started working all the time.  Life became equal parts noisy, fast, and busy.  I probably slept, but I’m pretty sure when I was sleeping, I was dreaming of stuff I had to do.

I’m ready
when I wake up.
I’ll take on everything.
I’m made of gasoline.
Relax is not a word I understand
it makes no sense to me.
Sleep is the enemy
Sleep is the enemy
I’m ready.

Song #5:

Dickhead” by Kate Nash

Then, I went through something awful and, for a long time, I would have put a myriad of other soundtracks to this period of my life.  There were long, sad ballads that represented my emotional spectrum.  There were ambushed, heavy metal songs that showcased my feelings of being under attack.  There were choppy waltzes.

But now, in hindsight, I see it all for what it really was: The actions of one man who I couldn’t possibly pretend to understand.

I wish that you were more intelligent
So you could see
that what you are doing is so shitty
to me.
Why are you being a dickhead for?
You’re just fucking up situations.

Song #6:

Mouthwash” by Kate Nash

Things are good.  Maybe I don’t believe in the possibility of a bubble lasting forever, or glitter falling from rainclouds anymore — but I’m still happy.  My sound has changed a bit… that sound of all the bad things that happened is still with me.  But, I still throw pennies in wishing wells.  I’m still me.

I still hope everything’s gonna be alright.

And, this, is my mind
And although you try to infringe
You cannot confine.
And I’m singing “oh oh” on a Friday night
And I hope everything’s gonna be alright.

Bonus song #7:

Don’t Carry It All” by The Decemberists

This song is why we love, and why we do everything we do with love — because it links us all together, and we share and bear each other’s burdens.

So raise a glass to turnings of the season
And watch it as it arcs towards the sun
And you must bear your neighbor’s burden within reason
And your labors will be borne when all is done.

Rara’s Playlist: 

* Rara blogs at RarasaurShe is from Orange County, California

Editor note: As some of you know, Rara will unfortunately be unable to personally respond to any comments on today’s post. We were lucky enough to receive her submitted answers before she was incarcerated. To learn more about her personal story you can go here or to find out how you can help or pay it forward, visit RawrLove. Rara’s husband and friends, including today’s first guest, Goldfish, will be happy to pass along your thoughts or to answer any questions you have. ~C.K.


Thanks again for being our guests, Goldfish and Rara Queen!

Life in 6 Songs: Vol. 15 (Victoria and Ned)

In six songs, tell us about your life. 

By now most of you know the drill, but if you are a new visitor, welcome! We challenged our guests to tell us their life stories: “The project is simple, though maybe not easy: Tell us a story–your story–in six songs. And then for fun, wrap up your life in a bonus seventh song.” The series runs every Monday through September. We are currently booked to capacity–thank you!–but before the series wraps-up, we will plan a special event where everyone will be welcome to join in. Until then feel free to check out our past volumes and enjoy this week’s stories.

Our special guests this week are:

Victoria from Victoria N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ and Ned from Ned’s Blog: Humor at the Speed of Life. I met these two on the same day and happen to think they’re both pretty awesome. Victoria is honest and inclusive while Ned provides much-needed rolling-on-the-floor humor. I’m so happy to have Victoria and Ned here today! Please be sure to leave them some love in the comments, and stop by their blogs to say hello.

Enjoy this week’s “Life in 6 Songs” everyone!

Music by Balakov via DeviantArt, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Music by Balakov via DeviantArt, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0


Victoria (from N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ )

Song #1 (and tell us why briefly):

Afterglow” by Genesis

I was a deep thinker as a child — trying to get to know myself while discerning what adult voices to listen to and which ones to block out. Who was I? The person I thought I was or the person others thought I was? As cliché as it may seem, I grew up in an environment and culture where children were seen but rarely heard; where politeness trumped authenticity. And in this child’s mind, I thought “how do I remain true to myself, forge realness, and embrace my voice while also fitting in with social norms and expectations?” More often than not I allowed the voices of others to tell me who I was and who I should become. I had a serious identity crisis. I was frustrated and disappointed for letting ‘me’ down. “Afterglow” represents a realization of feeling lost inside myself, and yearning for self-actualization at a tender, young age.

Song #2:

Hot Fun in the Summer Time” by Sly and the Family Stone

Summers at my Nana’s were always a blast. My cousin Randy and I were best buds and we spent most of our days on the shoreline where the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay merged. We swam and crabbed off the piers, and anticipated Red Tides that ensured crab runs. Algae blooms caused thousands of oxygen deprived crabs to swim to the water’s surface. During those runs it wasn’t uncommon for the two of us to fill four, five, even six bushels of craps in a two to three-hour time span. Our catch always put a smile on my Nana’s face. She made the best crab cakes, bar none. Around dusk we’d often play hide-and-seek and caught fireflies in mason jars, using them as homemade flashlights when we camped out in the back yard. Behind my Nana’s property we frolicked in open fields and explored lush woodlands where wild peacocks roamed. This song reminds me of those bare-footed, carefree days of my youth.

Song #3:

The Great Gig in the Sky” by Pink Floyd

After school I moved to Washington, DC to work for the government. A little over a year later I met my husband who worked for the same branch of government, the FBI. Both of us were clerks and his goal was to become an agent. We were introduced at a Bureau party and it was love at first sight for both of us. We resonated like a frequency following response. Seven months later we got married. Seven years later I was widowed with an eleven day old baby girl. Greg committed suicide. He suffered from a seizure disorder and other complications due to a traumatic brain injury he had sustained in a car/train accident. While my family was there for me in ways that made me incredibly grateful to have them in my life, it was difficult to openly grieve in front of them. It made them uncomfortable to see me in despair; understandably so. I internalized my grief for their sake. There are no actual words in the English language to describe such anguish, confusion and aloneness. But one song captured the emotions.

Song #4:

Good Morning, Kaia” by BT

My daughter saved my life.  Had she not come into the world when she did, I believe I may have lost the will to live.  Her light was a beacon of hope.  She kept my thoughts occupied — my hands busy.  Kristin needed me and I needed her.  I often stood at her crib and watch her sleep.  I was awed.  With exception to the first six weeks after she was born, rarely did she wake up crying in the middle of the night; neither did she try to wake me up in the morning.  I’d lie in bed listening to her play with her Fisher Price activity center that was attached to her crib.  It was as if she intuitively knew I needed rest.  I am moved with emotion when I remember the special moments we shared, and this song captures some of those bonding moments along with my sentiments. Minute marker 4:20 ALWAYS gives me goose bumps. How did I get so lucky to have the privilege of parenting such a beautiful, compassionate, and mindful human being?   <3

Song #5:

Sailing” by Christopher Cross

When Kristin was around 5 months old, I moved to the Gulf Coast to be close to my family. I love being around water. It’s like healing salve to my soul. The two of us spent a lot of time on the powder white beaches. Sometimes we built sand sculptures or lounged around bon fires at dusk — watching the shrimp boats go out for their nightly catch, and sailboats coming back to harbor. I love sailing. When the wind is right I can sail away, find tranquility, and the joy of innocence once again. Just a dream and the wind to carry me and soon I find I’m free to just be.

Song #6:

Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap

For a few months in the 90’s, I took antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, but my body and mind didn’t take well to the meds so I discontinued taking them. I researched alternatives ways to promote well-being, abate depression and prevent the release of toxic stress hormones. While the meds may have failed me, music never has. I select tunes with specific beats per minute that raise my brain waves. Neurological studies show that people who experience depression and anxiety tend to have low brain wave activity. So if I’m feeling blue I’ll listen to music between 120 to 150 bpm. Sometimes up to 200 bpm, but I found that the 120 to 150 (12 to 15 Hz) range leaves me feeling more energized, focused and I sleep better. Listening to music with positive lyrics is beneficial, and when the tune has personal meaning, that’s an added bonus. :)

Bonus Song #7 (If you could wrap up your life story in ONE SONG, or if you have a personal theme song, or even a song you want played at your funeral, what would that song be and why?):

Always Tomorrow” by Gloria Estefan

The storms I’ve endured have been many, both figuratively and literally. But surviving them has given me an inner strength I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Like a weathered palm tree, my tap-root runs deep. I am infinitely better than before, definitely stronger and dare I say, wiser. I’m no longer afraid when I see threatening storm clouds loom on the horizon. When the feeder bands come ashore, I’m prepared to bend in the gales. I embrace the fact that the only one sure thing is change, and no matter the damage that may ensue in the wake of these storms, there’s always tomorrow to start over again.

Victoria’s playlist:

* Victoria blogs at N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ . She lives in the USA.


Ned (from Ned’s Blog; Humor at the Speed of Life)

Song #1: 

It’s too Late” by Carole King

I realize on the surface “It’s Too Late” appears to set things off on a sad note, but as a kid it had a big impact on me. My Mom was always listening to Carole — the Tapestry album in particular — along with Jim Croce, Donovan, Bill Withers and the like. But for some reason, the heaviness of this song really resonated with me even though, as a six- or seven-year-old, I LITERALLY thought something had died inside of her. When my Mom finally explained what the song meant, it opened my eyes to how our perception of things is really linked to our own reality and understanding. Don’t get me started on how wrong I was about “Mello Yellow…”

Song #2:

Theme to Star Wars” by John Williams

I hesitated to include this next bit of music because it may seem cliché’, but if I’m being honest with myself, the “Star Wars” theme best represents an experience that impacted my life from age 10 to my early 20s. I think we can all remember where we were the first time we saw Star Wars. OK, fine — in a theater. Dumb example. But the image of that giant Star Destroyer sweeping the screen forever, combined with the lush soundtrack, introduced me to a whole new kind of storytelling that was not only larger than life but as infinite as space itself. It sparked my pursuit of storytelling in ways I hadn’t considered before, including making Super-8 movies, creating music, storyboards, etc. All of these factored into: 1) what I’m sure my parents feared would be a 30-year-old living in the basement with an inflatable girlfriend, and 2) skills and techniques I still use as a writer today…

Song #3:

He Didn’t Have to Be” by Brad Paisley

I’ve always been a fan of country music, which is something I credit to my step dad — an Oklahoman who came into my life in my late teens and taught me everything I know about integrity, the value of hard work and what it means to be a father. Because I skipped college and went right to work, I always felt I had something to prove because of my lack of “higher education.” I was driven as a young man to create opportunities for myself and, through that determination, worked my way up from pantry cook to regional chef in five years. At the same time, my life became a blur and I eventually found myself on the verge of sacrificing being the father I needed to be for my career. Once again, I looked to the example of my father and made the changes necessary to pursue the things that really mattered. This song has always held a special place in my heart, and came out at a time I needed it most…

Song #4:

Use Me Up” by Bill Withers

An unhappy 15-year marriage produced three really great things: my two children and a divorce — which I was made aware of on my 40th birthday when I was presented with the papers and single fatherhood. Though admittedly devastated at the time, I eventually came to recognize it for the gift it was. I hadn’t realize how much of myself I had given up along the way in order to keep the peace for our children. After dusting myself off and taking a good look in the mirror, this song came to mind from the distant past..

Song #5:

At Last” by Etta James

At the end of a long deadline day here at Siuslaw News in 2006, I was inexplicably inspired to step/stumble back into dating by joining Little did I know that, a day earlier, an especially beautiful Spanish woman living within an hour’s drive had signed up as well. Like me, she was recently divorced after a long, miserable marriage and a single parent with two children. What started with a “wink” eventually led to many phone calls and our first date. I had always believed in the kind of love that is predetermined; the kind that exists deep within the hearts of two people who are meant to be together; the kind that is so strong that their hearts recognize each other before sight or touch. The night we met was like that. Time stood still and the world was just distant echos around us. In that moment, we both knew we had finally arrived at the place we had been searching for. That first kiss was the best kiss of my life — except for every once since.

“At Last” became our mantra, and the song remains the title of our “love soundtrack…”

Song #6:


The last eight years have been the best of my life. The reasons are simple: My wife and family. I am inspired every day by them; and I find constant joy beginning and ending each day next to my wife. And a bed-hogging dog. My WIFE is the reason I wake happy and inspired (our dog is the reason I wake up with one foot in my arm pit.) Her laughter and humor has inspired my writing in ways I never expected, and her love is the foundation of my achievements and discoveries, large and small. This includes my long-overdue appreciation for AC/DC, which I listen to every morning when I write.

And it all started when I heard this song…

Bonus song #7:

Poems, Prayers and Promises” by John Denver

This was the first song my father taught me to play on the guitar. I played it to bring me comfort my first night on my own 1,500 miles from home; I’ve played it at family weddings and reunions; I’ve played it in good times and bad. It has always meant a lot to me because of its connection to my parents and its message about what I feel are three of life’s most important facets: inspiration, faith and integrity. Without question, I’d want this played at my funeral.

And probably even on the way home today…

Ned’s Playlist: 

* Ned blogs at Ned’s Blog; Humor at the Speed of Life. He is from the Central Oregon Coast.


Thanks again for being our guests, Victoria and Ned!

Life in 6 Songs: Vol. 14 (Debbie and Sandra)

In six songs, tell us about your life. 

By now most of you know the drill, but if you are a new visitor, welcome! We challenged our guests to tell us their life stories: “The project is simple, though maybe not easy: Tell us a story–your story–in six songs. And then for fun, wrap up your life in a bonus seventh song.” The series runs every Monday through September. We are currently booked to capacity–thank you!–but before the series wraps-up, we will plan a special event where everyone will be welcome to join in. Until then feel free to check out our past volumes and enjoy this week’s stories.

Our special guests this week are:

Debbie from More Than Sweet Potatoes and Sandra from Square One Notes. I think you’re going to really enjoy their songs and stories! Please be sure to leave them some love in the comments, and stop by their blogs to say hello.

Enjoy this week’s “Life in 6 Songs” everyone!

Pull up a seat, we've got some great songs queued up on the jukebox!  image via wikicommons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Pull up a seat, we’ve got some great songs cued up on the jukebox!
image via wikicommons (CC BY-SA 3.0)


Debbie (from More Than Sweet Potatoes)

Song #1 (and tell us why briefly):

Can’t We Try” by Dan Hill and Vonda Shepard

My best friend in the whole world is my sister – who is 12 years older than me.  This song reminds me of my childhood spending time with her, going to the mall with her, getting ready for dates with her and crying every time she left the house.  There’s a VHS recording somewhere of the two of us singing this song (most likely with the record spinning in the background) into my PlaySkool microphone stand with stars and lights.  That memory perfectly articulates our relationship from my birth to this day – we’re huge nerds who love each other too much to be concerned about what we’re doing together; as long as we’re together.

Song #2:

Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner Overdrive

One time, while on a trip somewhere, my parents saw people playing the “boomba.”  My mom – being the musical person she is (which is something she graciously passed on to me genetically) – fell in love with the rhythm and groove of it and looked everywhere to buy one; she soon found they are hard to find and very expensive.  My dad, who has an insatiable need to help others, fix things and build build build, made her a boomba.  The only song I’ve ever heard her play is “Taking Care of Business.”  And TC some B she does. This song reminds me of the relationship my parents have and the future I want for myself.  A future where my crazy and impulsive wants and needs are seen as a challenge and a project rather than crazy or impulsive.  Ugh, my parents are grossly adorable.

Song #3:

You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” by Jim Croce

Aside from the aforementioned sibling as best friend, I had a neighbor, Allie, who also has been among the best friends list since I was 6.  Allie and I were inseparable.  I have a thousand memories of things we did between the ages of 6 and now that include but are not limited to making games out of the tar lines in the street and re-mixing juvenile songs to be “grammatically correct.”  There are also a number of times I remember she and I being in the car with her dad playing a game he called “Dead or Canadian” and listening to Jim Croce.  I know we listened to other things, but this song always puts me back in that car at 8 years old.

Song #4:

I’ll Stand By You” by The Pretenders

This song screams high school to me, and not just because it was beautifully sung with soul and purpose by Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) on Glee.  This song was horrifically chosen as our prom song my senior year – which to me is akin to choosing “Wonderful Tonight” as your wedding song.  If that reference eludes you (the reader,) Google the story behind it. Additionally, at least one high school friend put that song on a mix “tape” (they were CDs) for me at or after graduation.  I can’t hear that song without thinking about my blue chiffon prom dress, my high school days, and the friends who have ALWAYS stood by me.

Song #5:

Everybody Got Their Something” – Nikka Costa

The first time I heard this song was in the car with Cassie either my sophomore or junior year of college.  At first it was just a song to bop my head along to – it’s utterly impossible to sit still with this song on.  Try it.  The thing about this song is that the more I listened to it, the more it became clear to me that it was the perfect collegiate anthem.  You were never girly in high school but want to join a sorority?  Do you, girl.  You were always a party animal but now you want to make the Dean’s List?  Do you, girl!  You want to be in band and not get made fun of or be called a “band geek?” DO YOU, GIRL!  College was that wonderful part of my life where I could outwardly be everything I thought I wanted to be.  Even if I was wrong.

“Sometimes the only thing you got
Is what makes you feel like
You’re something else altogether
You have everything don’t need
Another reason to be something”

Song #6:

Highway to Hell” – AC/DC

After college, when I finally turned 21, I was like a bat out of hell.  I was the girl who had a spreadsheet of which bars had specials for each day of the week.  I wasted money and time and brain cells drinking and partying left and right.  It could have turned into a very slippery slope to a bad place, but somehow maintained the fun lightheartedness of being young and stupid.  I also had a “regular” karaoke schedule.  While it’s not the first, last or only song I’ve ever sang karaoke, it is the first one I did on a stage at a packed bar (in Nashville), the first song I sang with a live-band, and the first song that I’ve sang as a duet though it is not a duet at all.  To this day I cannot hear “Highway to Hell” without wanting to sing it karaoke (alone or as a duet) and thinking about my early to mid twenties.

Bonus Song #7 (If you could wrap up your life story in ONE SONG, or if you have a personal theme song, or even a song you want played at your funeral, what would that song be and why?):

I can’t wrap my life up in one song because there isn’t any one song with that many facets.  Except maybe “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” by Billy Joel or “Crazy On You” by Heart.  There are, however, a list of songs that make it impossible for me to be unhappy; they are my “power songs.”  No matter what is happening in my world, regardless of whether my emotional gas ball of feelings is about to explode or not, indiscriminate of outside factors like weather or work, these three songs will make it all better.

7-1) “September” by Earth Wind and Fire

7-2) “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall and Oates

7-3) “D.A.N.C.E.” by Justice featuring MSTRKRFT

And if that doesn’t confuse your musical taste buds, I don’t know what will.

I cheated a bit with this one, didn’t I? (RoS note: Technically…yes. But since one could argue that we ourselves cheated when we added a 7th song allowance, I guess we’ll let it slide this time. Oh, who am I kidding. It’s because your song 7-3 had a monkey in it, and everyone knows I can’t say no to monkeys. -christy)

Debbie’s playlist:

* Debbie blogs at More Than Sweet Potatoes. She lives in South Florida by way of the suburbs of Chicago.


Sandra (from Square One Notes)

Song #1: 

Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones

My birth was not part of my mom’s initial plan so this is more of a song from her point of view.

Song #2:

Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles

My parents grew up working in the fields of California. This song makes me think of my mom and all the stories she shared with me about the various crops she harvested from a very young age.

Song #3:

I’m 18” by Alice Cooper

I grew up in a tiny farming community that is more Middle-America than what most people imagine when they think of California. I couldn’t wait to turn 18 and move away from home. The one out-of-state school I applied to accepted me, and at 18 I moved away to an unfamiliar place where I didn’t know a soul. This song sums up this time in my life better than I can.

Song #4:

Doesn’t Remind Me” by Audioslave

I grew impatient waiting for happily-ever-after to show up and I confused fun with irresponsibility. Party, party, party, because around this time I quickly learned that life is painful and who the hell wants to deal with that?

I like gypsy moths and radio talk cause it doesn’t remind me of anything.

I can totally identify with the sentiment of desperately wanting to get out of your own head. Doing something totally random because it will not conjure any painful memories.

Song #5:

If Not For You” by George Harrison

Then love walked in like a superhero. I knew my husband was the man for me early in our courtship and he remains my very best friend.

If not for you
the winter would hold no spring
couldn’t hear a robin sing
I just wouldn’t have a clue, if not for you.

Song #6:

Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison

Then my daughter came along and I discovered the hat I’m most proud to wear, “mama.”

She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey
She’s an angel of the first degree
She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee.

Bonus song #7:

Square One” by Tom Petty

It took a world of trouble, took a world of tears, took a long time to get back here.

My bonus song is my virtual avatar, my internet address: For me, this WordPress site is like a childhood do-over where I get to play with colors, mix music, and share pictures and stories. It’s been a safe harbor to wait out stormy weather and sort through some baggage among like-minded kindreds walking similar paths. My affection for this community keeps me coming back and I appreciate all the virtual handshakes and hugs, reminders that a life of writing does not have to be a solitary endeavor.

Thank you for letting me share part of my story with you through these songs.

Sandra’s Playlist

* Sandra blogs at Square One Notes. She is from Sacramento, California.

PS: Sandra recently shared this 1960′s photo of her mother-in-law and her MIL’s brother, asking readers for help explaining it. Any thoughts? I thought it felt like a mix of “Fight the Power” and “Whip It” by Devo. Help Sandra solve the mystery! 

What's the frequency, Kenneth?  Image via Sandra at SquareNotes

What’s the frequency, Kenneth?
Image via Sandra at SquareOneNotes


Thanks again for being our guests, Debbie and Sandra!