Being a music lover (actually, what’s a word stronger than lover?), I have many anthems, each one necessary for a specific situation requiring a specific mood or action.

The other night, my therapist handed me a book about assertiveness. I started skimming through it the very next day, and soon after that, I started applying some of the advice I’d been reading. Fortunately, I must have done it right (if there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to be assertive, and I guess there could be), because I saw a major payoff at work when I craftfully asserted myself about one aspect of my workload that was stressing me out, bigtime.

With that victory still fresh in my mind, on this morning’s commute into the office, my iPod shuffled to a song that I discovered during the formative years of my adolescence in the 90s: “Double Dare Ya” by Bikini Kill.

I don’t have the space, time, or energy to veer into a tangent on why the 80s/90s Riot Grrrl movement was so important to women like me, who were growing up and figuring out life back then. I’m sure there is plenty already written–and it’s got to be better writing than I could ever provide here during my 5-minute writing break–so if you’re curious, maybe start with something simple, like the Wikipedia entry for Riot Grrrl.

“Double Dare Ya” is a song that you have to scream-sing. It’s not good, so if you listen to it, don’t come back here and yell at me or discredit my taste in music (which I promise is pretty awesome). It isn’t good, but it is inspiring and powerful and volatile and emotional (which makes it GOOD), and it sparked so many women to achieve what they didn’t feel they could because they were being held back, whether by themselves or others. It is an anthem of female empowerment, and it has helped me trudge through many days when my self-confidence was at its lowest–it was my anthem for those days.

Today, I’m carrying the song’s message with me. Today I’m writing. I’m putting myself out there, even though I want to shut myself out of the world and hide lately. Today I feel strong. I’m proud of who I am. (And, I admit, I just deleted the word mostly from the end of that sentence, but see? Progress.)

For those who are into words like I am, I present to you the (seriously crude but powerful and inspiring) lyrics to “Double Dare Ya” by Bikini Kill and urge you to watch the video as you read, because you have to hear Kathleen Hanna scream-sing in order to feel the intended impact. Consider it your (feminist) history lesson for the day.

If you have an anthem (or several), I’d love to know what it is! Please share in the comments!

 

We’re Bikini Kill and we want revolution
Girl-style now!!!

Hey girlfriend
I got a proposition goes something like this:
Dare ya to do what you want
Dare ya to be who you will
Dare ya to cry right outloud
“You get so emotional baby”

Double dare ya, double dare ya, double dare ya
Girl-fuckin-friend yeah
Double dare ya
Double dare ya
Double dare ya
Girl

Don’t you talk out of line
Don’t go speaking out of your turn
Gotta listen to what the Man says
Time to make his stomach burn
Burn, burn, burn, burn

Double dare ya, double dare ya, double dare ya
Girl-fuckin-friend yeah
Double dare ya, double dare ya, double dare ya
Girl

You’re a big girl now
You’ve got no reason not to fight
You’ve got to know what they are
‘fore you can stand up for your rights
Rights, rights?
You DO have rights!

Double dare ya, double dare ya
Double triple-fuckin-dare ya girlfriend
Double dare ya, double dare ya, double dare ya
Girl

I’m a huge nerd about music. It’s one of the things in this world that make me happiest. And my current obsession is The 1975–specifically, Matt Healy, singer of The 1975. He’s so dreamy… Swoon…

The-1975-matt-healy

But he doesn’t seem to understand depression. On Twitter on World Mental Health Day, he said this (from his personal account):

//it’s mental health day. be careful using words like depression. if you were depressed you wouldn’t be on tumblr// http://bit.ly/1e5FnZn

I bristled when I read his tweet. Depression doesn’t fit into an if-this-then-that statement.

If you were depressed, you would cry all day long? Nope, maybe not. If you were depressed, you would want to kill yourself? Nope, I didn’t. And a bunch of other assumptions that aren’t true for some people.

When I am depressed, Matt’s right, I am not usually online. I fly under the radar. I shut down and physically distance myself from things like Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. Y’know, kind of like the author of Hyperbole and a Half actually did for a while.

Head? Meet wall.

Sorry, Matt. I do still love you.

But then you said this in an interview for the Urban Outfitters blog:

I love religion, especially from an atheist perspective, and society and science and politics, but I’m a fucking pop star. It’s not my position to inform people of those kinds of things. The only thing I do know is – well, like, it was mental health day the other day, so I just put a tweet up that said, “Be careful about using words like depression.” It’s that kind of thing. I get scared to tweet sometimes because I don’t want people to like… [Trails off]

What, write a blog post calling you out on something you tweeted? ;)

I’m hoping all you meant by “be careful about using words like depression” is that the word is used too lightly sometimes: “I’m so depressed. Wawa didn’t have any chocolate peanut butter ice cream left.”

Because I agree on that point. Just like I dislike the word “gay” being tossed about in this way: “That’s so gay.”

I know you didn’t mean that depression is talked about too much. I’m sure you know how stigmatized it still is. How people who are depressed tend to not talk about their experience. Right?

And another thing! I disagree that it isn’t your position as a pop star to inform the public about important issues, like mental health awareness. I think it’s all of our position as HUMAN to spread awareness about anything that will make us collectively better. Knowledge is never a bad thing.

I hope you do talk about depression more, Matt Healy. You can check out my blog roll for some great resources, some of which are written or curated by people who have been depressed.

 

Jesse Rutherford

Jesse Rutherford, from The Neighbourhood (my view from the balcony)

Last Tuesday night reminded me of two things: First, I have forgotten how much I enjoy seeing bands live. Second, age is just a number, and I’m not as old as I think I am, having been so caught up in my number (which is 35).

I’ll never forget being mistaken, at age 19, for my best friend’s neighbor, Lori, while I was in line at a CVS. The next time I saw Lori, I told her about it, and she had the brilliant idea that I could have her driver’s license so that I could get into shows that were for attendees 21 & over. In other words, I could use her legit NJ license to enter bars where all my favorite bands often played. Because I had a musician boyfriend at the time, as well as lots of friends who were 21, I can’t accurately describe to you how brilliant I thought this plan was. I accepted her offer with tremendous excitement and had some amazing concert experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had. Like drinking a beer with Elliott Smith or hugging Mary Timony from Helium.

I’m showing my age now, aren’t I?

Anyway, after my musician boyfriend and I broke up, the number of shows I attended decreased dramatically, though I still went to plenty during my college and even post-college years. But then motherhood happened, and I was lucky if I made it to even one show a year.

Jax is about to turn 4 now and I’m entering a new phase (for me)—a more independent one. I’m finally beginning to recall who I used to be before I was fortunate enough to become a mother. I was a girl who loved seeing bands live. And last Tuesday night I got to see my current favorite band, The Neighbourhood. Opening up for them at a beautiful venue in Philadelphia called the Union Transfer was The 1975, whose music I didn’t love, but who put on such a great show that I’ve been listening to them nonstop ever since. The singer, with his UK accent, was scrumptious, even with his 90s hair. And he looked up to the balcony where I was standing and he said “Hello there” directly to me.  ;)

So yeah, now I’m crushing on a lead singer just like I were 19 again.

Because I anticipated being out way past my usual 9:00 bedtime (and I obviously think I’m an old lady), I scheduled a half vacation day for the day after the show and planned to go into the office around lunchtime so I could spend my morning napping once Jax went to daycare. But I managed to get 6 hours of good sleep under my belt the night before, so I didn’t neep to nap the next day. I spent the morning doing what I felt like doing, and it was bliss.

The lesson I learned last week is that self-care can come even in the form of seeing a concert and staying up late. In fact, maybe it’s a fantastic form of self-care for someone who has occasionally felt over the past 4 years that she lost her identity a little bit. Music is soothing. I just hadn’t realized the connection between seeing a band live and how good I would feel afterward.

You create a community with music, not just at concerts but by talking about it with your friends.”

~ David Byrne

 

Call it post-vacation blues, the higher latitude & lack of sunshine, being back to reality, having way too much on my mind…. Call it whatever. But it doesn’t feel good. I’ve spent most of this week sad, depressed, anxious, PMS-y, and basically every other negative emotion you can think of. And even though I have tons of skills under my belt to help me handle this rough patch, nothing has really helped except distraction (for example, having a friend over for dinner, reading a book, or going for a long drive).

Until this morning, when I rediscovered, or actually kind of remembered, how much of an influence music has always had on my moods. When I’m feeling down, my gut and my head want sad songs. I want to cry along with the music because in some ways this is cathartic. Sometimes, usually when the mood first hits, I don’t want to push it away immediately; I want to feel it. But after a few days of feeling it deeply, I’m ready for something new, and I’m sure my friends and family are, too! Ha! So anyway, last night I made myself yet another mix CD for the car, consisting of songs that make me want to move my body and/or sing along loudly. Songs that don’t remind me of anyone or anything that could possibly bring me down.

I listened to the CD this morning on my commute, and I sang loudly and I dance-drove for 4 or 5 songs. And man, it was just enough. It felt great. It was bliss. I nearly drove right on by my workplace.

When I woke up this morning, I stayed in bed a while, obsessing on the things in my brain that were making me sad or anxious. I looked at the time repeatedly, wondering how late I would be for work because I couldn’t bring myself to leave my bed and start my day. It’s a few hours later now, and I’m feeling the opposite of that. Optimistic, even (maybe), about what might happen today–not that there is anything special planned, it’s just that you never know what the day will bring.

So here’s a playlist of a few of the songs I put on my mix CD–the handful of songs that changed my mood today.





This is a page from my “positivity notebook” (for lack of a more creative, less hokey name).

I’ve been paying attention to:

What Jax eats. Fiercely. I’m trying to find food he will actually enjoy, not just tolerate, besides chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. At least I buy the healthy versions of these things (although he prefers processed nuggets shaped like dinosaurs or cars over the ones I like to buy). But this constant attention to what he’s eating–or, more realistically, what he isn’t eating–is getting to me.

TEDx talks. Today, I’m listening to this one as I enter author corrections at work: Shannon Paige – Mindfulness and Healing Try the exercise around the 12:30 mark and the 7-day challenge around 15:50.

Elephant Journal, which my friend Jen introduced me to today. In particular, I’m scouring the articles in the Wellness tab.

Marc & Angel Hack Life. Always a favorite site of mine for reminding me what’s important in life.

Hype Machine blogs on Spotify. I love them! Here’s one I’ve subscribed to. This is sometimes how I discover new bands! I can’t get enough of Spotify when I’m at work. Here’s my Starred songs, if you’re on Spotify and want to check out what I love.

My Google Reader. I can’t bear to let my unread posts get past 100. I feel like I’ve been a bad blog reader lately, and my Google Reader typically reflects this. So I’ve been trying to do better, reading a few posts each day instead of waiting until there are 300+ unread posts in there, which I skim and then feel bad about marking as read.

Twitter lists. When you follow over a thousand people, creating lists is necessary. That way, I can be sure to not miss tweets by my besties (who are on one list). I even created a list called “Feel good,” where I’ve lumped together all the accounts I follow that are positive & uplifting.

I’ve been ignoring (or trying to ignore):

Facebook. Too many graphic images in my news feed lately. Too much negativity. Too much passive aggression. It’s just all too much sometimes and I need to take a break from it. Except from my groups. I love the groups to which I belong, so my Facebook activity, for now, is limited to checking posts within those groups and updating my blog’s page.

Candy & coffee. But I need to try harder! I’ve always had really great willpower–until lately. As for the constant need to pick at the candy leftover from Halloween, I suspect it’s simply stress eating, although I’ve never been a stress eater before. I think tonight I will dump what remains of the candy. Nobody needs all that sugar! It isn’t even tasty. I’d much rather have a second helping of dinner than a candy bar! (But hopefully I forego that, too.)

My positivity notebook. Not by choice, but because I haven’t had time for it. And I’ve noticed a negative effect on my moods as a result. So I need to do better at making the time to doodle in it and jot down uplifting lyrics, quotes, and messages to myself using all my pretty pens. Writing things down, even other people’s words, always makes me feel better.

Television. I just don’t really care about it at all right now. I’ve been playing with Jax & reading more to fill the (very minimal) time I used to watch tv.

Well, this concludes this totally random post I banged out in about 5 minutes while on a work break. I’d love to hear what you’re currently into or not into! Leave a comment & share!