I’m writing to you on a beautiful Tennessee Friday evening from my back porch. It’s quiet here – except for the music coming out of Blais’ room. He’s had a hard week and is singing his heart out – belting out some 70s rock. Some kids go for a run to get rid of frustration or sadness – my son sings (and it’s quite enjoyable to listen to him!).
 
On Thursday, I did a FB live Lunch Chat on depression and anxiety. David and I shared our struggles with it and tools that helped us through it. David mentioned how he turned to music when everything else failed (he lost his mom to cancer when he was 17 and immersed himself into playing guitar and singing).
 
Music has always been a lifeline to me, and that’s not an exaggeration. As a child, I found music magical – it could transform my bad moods, my sadness, even my world as I closed my eyes and sang… I wrote some of my best songs during the hardest times of my life.
 
Then today, a kind, older gentlemen called to order some of my music and shared with us how healing and comforting it has been to him as he suffered through some difficult medical issues. He bought CDs and DVDs as gifts to his friends and family who are going through hard times, too.
 
Tonight, David and I are performing a concert themed “Cowboys and Gypsies.” 
 
I wanted to put together a fun show that would feature some great musicianship but also present some great classic songs that express deep emotions we all can relate to.
 
Speaking about musicianship: David is an amazing guitarist and singer; my friend Sasha travels all over the world to play gypsy jazz guitar; we have Doyle Grisham, who’s been playing pedal steel guitar with Jimmy Buffett for more than 25 years; Derek Pell is a fiddle player who toured with Ray Price (he was on the same tour as David)… and I grew up singing all these songs – gypsy and country!
 
At the rehearsal with the band (we rehearsed at the famous S.I.R studios in Nashville), I listened to the beautiful music and thought how peculiar we musicians are… We don’t mind shlepping our instruments and sound gear around, loading it and unloading it from our cars to stages a million times, driving across deserts and over the mountains, just for a chance to share the music and see someone’s face light up when we do. We get addicted to how music makes us feel and how powerfully it comforts us, so we keep going even though we often get tired and discouraged.
 
And then an image of my touring life came to me… an image of buckling up my babies into their car seats, knowing that there was 1,000 miles of road ahead of us… Or getting on the plane to go perform somewhere even though I wanted to stay home…
 
I thought perhaps there is a cowboy and a gypsy in all of us. I took my phone out and posted this on Instagram:
 
And then one day your life takes a turn, and you find yourself looking at the wide open road before you. You feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and the gentle breeze in your hair, and you know you must go. A part of you wants to stay in the comforts of the known, but you step forward anyway. And with each next step, you know you’ve done the right thing… You put the radio on and you let the music take care of the heartache.
 
So, here is to all of you Cowboys and Gypsies out there… we give you our music to put a smile on your face, a tap in your foot and a bit of comfort for your heart.
 
PS Speaking of heartbreak… I had an echocardiogram of my heart this week. (It’s a routine checkup for me that I have to have done every ten years because I had rheumatic fever as a teenager.) I looked at my heart and thought how it appeared small and vulnerable (I remember seeing my late husband’s heart in an ultrasound, and his was definitely a much bigger organ). And I thought how enduring my vulnerable heart was.. how it kept beating faithfully through all of my ‘heartbreaks.’ I asked the technician if she’s seen any broken hearts. She smiled and said: “Yes, but not in a way you are thinking.” I wondered why we say we are ‘heartbroken’ when we feel emotional pain like sadness or grief.
 
Yes, it’s a saying, but if you think about it, we physically feel the intense sadness or grief physically in our chest – we experience muscle tightness, increased heart rate, abnormal stomach activity and shortness of breath. I wanted to find a scientific reason behind it, so I looked it up.
 
What I found on the “Scientific American” website is that there were studies that showed that under emotional stress, a certain brain region activates and “increases an activity of the vagus nerve – the nerve that starts in the brain stem and connects to the neck, chest and abdomen. When the vagus nerve is overstimulated, it can cause pain and nausea.”
So, now you know why we explain certain emotional pain as ‘heartbreak.’ And yes, there is a scientific explanation to how music helps alleviate the heartbreak, but I’ll leave it for next time 🙂
 
For now, put on some music, breathe and let it bring you comfort, joy, hope, or whatever else it is that you need right now!

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