I discovered Ingrid Michaelson’s new song through a website called Upworthy. It is a homage to Robert Palmer’s ‘Simply Irresistible’ and a totally different spin on masculinity and femininity. I love this video and I adore the very catchy song. Humorous and playful – it’s worth a look. Certainly if you fancy smiling today!
Having only properly discovered Spotify recently (yes, I’m so far behind for a thirty one year old) and after finding some essential tracks for each mood, I have come up with a few playlists that I wanted to share with you guys. Music has always been a fundamental key to my survival especially during the abuse. It has been the one consistency through the trauma, the one thing I have always relied on to raise me out of the lowest feelings. It can heal you. Lyrics that have been penned from the darkest of souls who seem to understand your pain for that sad moment, lyrics that capture love and heartbreak and the rare times of happiness. Music has saved me in many ways. The nights where he screamed obscenities at me behind my locked bedroom door as I lay in bed with my headphones over my ears and the gentle sounds of the radio played through my stereo and rocked me to sleep.
I love putting playlists together.
I totally listen to certain songs at certain times and it all depends on my mood.
Here are my favourite ten songs from my Feel Good playlist.
My, does this song change my mood. I cannot feel unhappy after hearing this. Cheesy? Maybe. Classic? Probably. Feel good? Yes, definitely. The tune and melody instantly captures me and Michael McDonald’s voice is crazy. How a man can reach those notes is beyond me. Love it.
This not his biggest song. I do love Tears in Heaven but the heartbreaking story behind it crushes me. It does not belong in this playlist. Change the World is gentle and easy yet has that American, acoustic guitar I like. It’s simplicity. I like the lyrics too.
Blur or Oasis? There was never any contest for me. I was Blur all the way and in 1999 they released ‘Tender’ which has firmly become one of my favourite Blur songs. It may not seem “Feel Good” but with the help of The London Community Gospel Choir, the song is transformed from softly haunting to melodic genius. It is uplifting as well as calming. It brings back great memories too and who can argue the lyrics, “Come on, come on, come on, get through it. Come on, come on, come on, love’s the greatest thing that we have”. Beautiful.
This is an acoustic version of the original which is actually more of a dance genre. I like both versions but I picked this one to share as it features the model Cara Delevingne on vocals. She is one my style icons so it made sense to use her version here. Will Heard is on lead vocals and his raspy tone is addictive to listen to. Not only is it feel good but mesmerising. I am in love with his hazy voice and have spent time listening to it on repeat.
Could not care less what anybody thinks of this! Not only is their music video for “Pray” cheesy and cringe-worthy as hell even I, their loyal supporter cannot control my laughter. No matter what, I adore this. It is wrong and so right at the same time!
Bruno Mars can be a little hit and miss for me but he got it so right with “Treasure”. It is: turn it up, hit the dance floor, create a very “un-cool” routine to kind of song. Doesn’t matter. It makes me feel good.
Luther Vandross was such an inspiring man, a great loss to the music industry. There was no question he would be in my top ten. I love ‘Stop to Love’, so catchy.
Great British songstress who only really had this as her biggest hit. Shame we never saw much more. Nevertheless, ‘American Boy’ is so feel good. Back when Kanye was less bizarre and more about the music. This tune makes me want to dance on a beach somewhere.
Oh god, I am not showing my music taste in a very good way! Well I never pretended to be “cool”. I love eighties music as much as I adore eighties films. This is a quintessential eighties anthem and has to be on this list. You are made of stone if this music video doesn’t make you smile.
Not only ‘Feel Good’ but this Aerosmith song goes on my list of favourite songs of all time. I adore the video and loved Alicia Silverstone when I was younger (I am the generation of ‘Clueless’). I love the sense of freedom in it even though it’s essentially a love song. I longed to be a rebel like the girls in the video. I also wanted the trust and love that the two friends had. I have never found that. The song was released when I was twelve but I saw the video for the first time a few years later at fifteen. It was a bewildering time in my own life and the element of escaping that Aerosmith shot in their music video appealed to me very much.
After last week, I decided to do some investigating of my own to find any natural remedies to aid my Asthma. I already know about the benefits of fresh lemon juice and its links to Asthma. I often drink lemon and ginger tea when unwell and have recently been having fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water if any wheezing begins. It is not a cure by all means but it certainly helps. Other remedies include a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue to be gently sniffed or drinking a strong black coffee (apparently it helps to open the airways).
I wanted to search for some breathing techniques too. For too long have I solely relied on my inhalers to relieve my Asthma symptoms. However, for my own resilience, I feel it is essential that I develop some more natural strategies to soothe and appease the pain.
A colleague of mine suggested Yoga. She is not the first person to mention it. My friend Katrina is constantly telling me to give it a go. She too suffers from Asthma and her regular love and practise of Yoga has practically sent it packing. I am not adverse to it, I just can’t seem to find enough willpower (or forced interest) in going to a Yoga class. It doesn’t seem “me”. Yes, health comes first before embarrassment but I doubt I’d feel very comfortable. I do not enjoy exercising around other people; an unfortunate side of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I decided to take a look on YouTube and eventually fell onto a clip to do with the art of “Pranayama” breathing. A Sanskrit word meaning “extension of breath”. Studies have shown it can be a great way to relieve asthmatic symptoms and reduce stress. I have only practised two forms of Pranayama – Shitali otherwise known as ‘Cooling breath’ where the breathing is done through the mouth with the tongue extended and Bhramari – Also known as ‘Bee Breath’ – where you make a humming sound while breathing. Both are equally effective. I tend to do the exercises at home before sleep and first thing in the morning (granted I have time before work!). I hope that over the following few weeks I can endeavour to attempt the other Pranayama exercises and hope that they also provide the same comfort as the others.
During my time at Drama School, we spent a lot of time before our dance and voice classes warming up. Much of this focussed on the way we breathed. We explored several techniques, drawing inspiration from Pilates, the Alexander Technique and general vocal warm ups. One exercise that I remembered was a technique that involved a partner. As you inhaled, you were to imagine your diaphragm and ribs expanding. You are to focus on only this part of your body moving. You must try to control your chest and prevent it from rising. If it does, you are not doing the exercise correctly. As you inhale, your partner needs to put their hands onto your sides, holding your ribcage. As they feel you breathe in, they must push against your ribs. You need to try to push against their resistance. At first it will be tough. Your ribs may not be used to moving like this but over time, you will start to see them expand more easily. As you exhale, your partner’s hands will maintain the pressure whilst continuing to support your ribs.
Try it. It might work for you. If anything, it’s a good exercise for your waist too!
Other tips include:
- Counting and breathing – counting is a tried and tested way of calming people down in moments of anger – especially children. It works for a reason. It keeps you focussed on your breathing and distracts you from the feeling of panic or stress.
- Keeping your head slightly tilted forward- it is tempting, in discomfort, to want to lean back or tip your head backwards. If you do this, you restrict your airways and the flow of oxygen to your lungs decreases. The same applies for the recovery position. You must tilt the head down to prevent choking on the patient’s tongue or vomit.
- Relaxing – close your eyes, put on some peaceful music.
- Buteyko Method (Nasal breathing) – making a conscious effort to breath solely from your nose is proven to be a better way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Breathing nasally will filter the air more efficiently through your sinuses unlike breathing through your mouth. It also helps to humidify the air that you inhale.
- Good posture – keeping upright and not slouching are simple solutions. A good way of spotting an Asthma attack is if the sufferer is leaning forward. This is a natural reaction to the chest closing up and can bring some relief but keeping the chest area open will aid the patient more. Get someone to rub your back gently if needed.
- Steam – one of my favourite remedies as it involves a hot bath. You don’t even have to get in it. If you feel tight chested, run a hot bath, shut the door and sit down in the bathroom. Lean against a wall so that you do not slouch. Take deep breaths in. You could count to keep a slow pace and inhale the rising steam. I assure you that this is an incredibly soothing remedy.
- Keeping a control of your emotions- this can be a tough one and slightly ambiguous. This doesn’t mean become a wall of stone, just be aware of how you may be feeling. Extreme stress and upset can fuel Asthma attacks so I am going to state the obvious now – sorry – but do not PANIC! It will only make it worse. Anger won’t help either. Even side-splitting laughter can trigger an Asthma attack. I cannot be tickled as I end up wheezing like crazy. It is strangely difficult to explain that to people.
I hope these tips are useful to any fellow Asthma sufferers out there.
Keep well and look after yourselves.
*Asthma UK – The United Kingdom’s leading Asthma Charity. Image from Google.
Whether you are a survivor or a sufferer, it does not matter. Equally you have been though the mill and equally you deserve to see some light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Yesterday I blogged a list of what you may often hear from your abuser. Well today let’s be more hopeful and write a list of what we should stand up and say. Many of us will never be heard. Many of us still have to find the courage to even say it out loud. It is a start. We need to acknowledge that it was never “our fault”.
- I believe in me
- I am worth something
- My future is important
- Do not overstep my boundaries
- I do not deserve this
- I am allowed to be selfish
- He/She does not have control over my life
- I cannot be restrained by fear
- There are reasons to live
- One day I will be truly happy
- I am allowed to feel anger
- Life will be good
- One day I will get that power back
- I have rights
- What he/she is doing is wrong
- I value my life
- It is the past now
- If I need to call the police – I should
- I feel sorry for him/her
- I am free
- Inspire yourself
- Be the bigger person
- I can walk away
- It is not my fault
- I will not argue with you
- I am human
- You have no claim over me
- I will save myself
- Only I know me
- It is not your life
- Saying what I feel is a God given right
- I have nothing to say to you
- I do not expect nor want anything from you
- I am strong
- I have a voice
- I am not afraid of you
- I make my own choices
- You have no more control
- I am capable of love
- I deserve love
- I do not “owe” you anything
- We are over
- My dreams and ambitions are of worth
- I am a good person
- You did not succeed
- I am not broken
- There are many paths ahead of me
- I am supported
- You lost
Again. There are thousands more.
As Emeli Sande puts it:
You’ve got the words to change a nation but you’re biting your tongue
You’ve spent a lifetime stuck in silence afraid you’ll say something wrong
If no one ever hears it, how we gonna learn your song?
So come on come on, come on come on.
I wanna sing
I wanna shout
I wanna scream till the words dry out
So put it in all of the papers I’m not ashamed
They can read all about it, read all about it.
Train tracks ran behind my father’s house, often a tube train would stop and linger by our back garden. This is the view from the back of my old house. It looks onto nothing. Only an endless train line. There was never an escape. Certainly not from the back of the house. I often contemplating running into my neighbour’s garden as he chased me down the stairs. I imagined myself climbing over the rickety fence and trespassing for those few seconds before reaching freedom. He probably would have caught me anyway. He would have followed me down the street. I had run before. In the dark, late at night. He came after me in the car. He always tracked me down. I was too frightened to fight further. I never got very far. He would coax me into his car with a sorry voice only to condemn me as soon as I had sat down.
The garden was not a sanctuary for me. Instead a place where I went to breathe. I felt so trapped with him. I always needed air. After our heated arguments, it seemed like the best place to go. He rarely followed me out. He worried that a neighbour might appear and see him for his true nature. However, he often lingered at the back door muttering obscenities at me. A tube slowly came to a halt one day as I paced across the grass after one of our heated arguments. My father had lost it. He was waving and shouting and gritting his teeth at me from the safety of the kitchen door. He was ordering me to come back inside. I wasn’t about to. That would not be safe for me. I would be walking into his trap. I knew that I needed to get to my bedroom somehow; I felt safe there. Eventually, he would give up and I could escape but until then the garden was the wisest place to be.
As the train waited for a signal to change, I caught the eye of a few passengers. It would have been clear to them that we were fighting. They were so close to us. A woman seemed to move seats to get a closer look. I was surprised that this was gaining so much interest, that my hell had turned into a drama for these passengers to study and watch with anticipation. Another man turned to his friend and pointed directly at me. I stared at them as tears poured from my eyes. Could they see my tears? What were they thinking? I did not want to feel violated any longer.
I circled round, ready to make my move but found my abuser blocking my way, standing firmly in my path. I went to walk past him but he would not budge. He stared at me. He stared at me with so much hate. He told me I was not welcome inside. That I “needed to calm down” and that he would be shutting the door. I answered back. At twenty four I felt I had the right to do so. Of course, he felt differently and as the train pulled away, my father launched into another verbal attack.
In his tirade, he moved just slightly away from the back door. I saw my chance and sprinted to my bedroom.
“BABITAGO!!!” he yelled from below.
I could hear the clamour of his heavy footsteps and the doors being flung against the wall as he ran after me. I made it, with time to spare. The door was locked and the bed was pushed against it. He banged his hands upon my door making it vibrate on impact. I, like a little child, pulled the covers so far over me as I lay in my bed. I took out my headphones and turned on my music to drown out the insults he began firing at me from outside. His voice could still be heard as the music played but I just focussed on what I was listening to and slowly felt myself relax.
He was not going to break me.
I had to be strong.
I am absolutely knackered!
At school on Tuesdays, I run dance club. I cannot say I’m a classically trained dancer (I don’t think a few jazz lessons for two years qualifies me for this!) but I love to dance. I’m probably not the coolest girl on the block but the kids seems to disagree. My love of fashions probably aids this opinion.
Dancing is not just a form of exercise or expression, it’s bloody fun! I happen to think my choice of song this time adds to this (see the link below). It’s pretty amusing watching and teaching kids who were born between 2003 and 2006 dance moves from the 1990s! Retro or what?
I have to admit, if I feel like crap or even had a bad day at work, dance club makes it better.
I can’t say my first time was the most memorable, how many of us can? It wasn’t in a perfect relationship, or any relationship for that matter and it wasn’t with a total stranger I’d picked from a bar either. It was just the right time for me and at nineteen years of age I thought it was about time too.
I had nothing to compare it too and it certainly did not give me a taste for more as it was over a year that I contemplated doing it again. I definitely fell into situations that could have led to sex but I never followed through. I was confident yet massively insecure doubting how sexual I was or how appealing I came across. I received plenty of attention in my early twenties but put it down to my attractive set of friends. I never thought I may have been drawing that attention all by myself.
I knew nothing of men.
The only male figure I had around me was my father and that man could’ve put me off for life. I doubted men and was certain they’d betray me. I convinced myself I could never be loved. My father helped fuel those feelings with his constant criticisms and accusations against me. I felt disgusting most of the time. However, eventually, I pushed those deep rooted feelings to one side. I wanted to be loved and found physically attractive. I needed something positive from a man so I went looking for it.
In my early twenties a new found sexiness and courage developed in me. My love of fashion enabled me to flaunt myself and create a new seductive identity. It wasn’t me but it was better than the miserable identity my father had labelled me with. I revelled in it and enjoyed the copious amounts of attention I was now receiving from the opposite sex. My friends admired my confidence and ability to talk to anyone. It was just nice to be free, even if it was only for a few hours.
Soon, I became “addicted”. My lifestyle changed and I was out all the time. I was never a big drinker but my love of music and dancing drew me into the club scene. I was young and wanted a social life. My father didn’t care at first if I was out all hours but eventually it became another thing he wanted to control.
Clubs revealed a specific kind of guy. Ones that were out for one thing. Initially, I fell into this trap and believed their lines and flirtation. I thought I was giving as good as I was getting and still keeping boundaries. But I had never been exposed to the concept of boundaries so my lines were completely blurred. A few one night stands followed suit and many nights were spent anxiously waiting for the call that never came. I foolishly made these mistake several times, thinking each man would be different from the last.
But of course, I was wrong.
In my mid-twenties and in need of a long lasting relationship, I tried out on-line dating. I have to admit, I met some right bastards on that. Yet once again, I believed their lies as they romanced me into bed. Some I dated for a couple of months, others a few weeks and all the time they had the control. I see it now. I allowed it to happen, it was easier that way, it was all I was used to; a man controlling me.
Sex became an escape, a way to be free, to hide from the abuse and feel loved. It was a chance to feel released and become someone else.
Even if it was only for that one night.
Part 3 to follow.
I know this song is about heartbreak but the lyrics are so resonant to me and my situation that I feel the meaning crosses over.
My father tarnished everything I believed to be good.
Love being the most obvious.
And I can’t do this by my myself,
all of these problems, they’re all in your head
and I can’t be somebody else,
you took something perfect and painted it Red.
Why did he have to change from the loving father he once was?