DPChallenge

Listen Up: A Song I Wrote (and I’m PROUD!)

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Back in January – I wrote a post entitled “Memory That Moves Me: Co-Writing a Song.”

It just so happens that today’s prompt is asking me – have I ever written music or been part of a band?

I should mention, and sometimes I laugh about it, I was once the bane of my choir teacher’s experience. She knew I couldn’t sing – heck I knew I couldn’t sing. I would often lipsynch during performances – every once in a while a note would come out of my mouth and you would hear somebody in the alto section yell “SOMEONE IS SINGING SOPRANO!!”.

Yep. That was me. The tone deaf one who simply wanted to find her way somehow into the music world – but I could not sing. I could play the piano. I was also a poet – but a singing voice?

Uh, no. If I showed up at an American Idol audition – I would likely shatter a window or Ryan Seacrest’s make up.

Music does not fit me well. This is where having a dream – and believing in it – is powerful and important.

My favorite artist is a rock star out of Brooklyn, Ariel Aparicio. I learned about his music on Twitter – and I was hooked from the beginning.

We developed a friendship via Twitter and e-mail and I found myself helping him promote his music by showing up at his performances or by working on his website and promotion materials. One day I got the guts to ask – would you perhaps entertain a dream of mine – writing a song together? Color me excited when he immediately said yes.

I wrote the lyrics. He wrote the music. He presented me with the recording for my birthday back in 2010. I will never forget the moment I heard it. For today’s prompt I share with you the only involvement I’ve ever had with a band or with writing music. The song is entitled “I Need You” – and the brilliance behind it still brings tears to my eyes to this day.

I took that wish my heart held true for so many years – and found a way to make it happen. With the wonderful, generous personality of the oh so talented Ariel, and the poetic side of me – we came up with this wonderful rendition of what I will forever call “my song” – because I helped write it.

Introducing the dream I never gave up on – “I Need You.”

I Need You (Lyrics by Jennifer Stephens, Music and Vocals by Ariel Aparicio)

This lonely heart, it cried alone.

These tears, they dried – dried to stone.

This bed it, it felt no soul – of my – my very own.

 So lonely. It tore my life apart.

 

In truth I never knew

My life and then came you.

These scars are fading.

These scars are fading.

 

My scars are fading.

 I need you.

 

I spent so many days waiting

For a hand to take my soul sayin’

You’re not alone in your corners prayin’

I will take your – your pain away

 

In truth I never knew

About peace and then came you.

These scars are fading.

These scars are fading.

 

My scars are fading.

 I need you.

 

Lesson learned by knowing you

The way your words they teach me truth

I can’t go on, I can’t be new

These lessons learned by knowing you

 You only can mend my broken heart

 

In truth I never knew

About peace and then came you.

 These scars are fading.

My scars are fading.

 

In truth I never knew

My life and then came you

 These scars are fading

These scars are fading

My scars are fading….

 

I need you.

I need you.

I need you.

I need you.

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Somebody Saved Me Today: But Who?

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I was driving innocently today. I had just dropped off my two oldest children in Stafford, VA to go back with their father. I was in my Prius compact car, enjoying the winter wind through my window, while listening to Zak Bagans’ song “In My Dungeon”…

Sidebar (see brilliance below):

I noticed out of the corner of my right eye – an 18 wheeler on the exit ramp coming onto Interstate 95 South.

Have you ever been to Virginia? On Interstate 95? Wacko drivers. Avoid it. 

Still enthralled in listening to my favorite song of my very brilliant idol I noticed something was off.

This 18 wheeler had nothing on the back of his bed. His bed was high. He was coming off of the exit ramp at a good 50 MPH. I was in the middle lane. It struck me then like something out of an 80’s sitcom when the answer to the question just suddenly appears within such a short time span. He was not stopping.

This truck continued to swerve and he was coming into my lane.

“He doesn’t see me. Oh my God. He doesn’t see me.”

Prius owners unite: we understand we blow the concept of the “blind spot”.

I was clutching the wheel in a panic. There was nowhere to go.

But wait. There was.

Before I could blink and say “I love cats” – I was underneath the bed of his truck. My compact Prius wedged between his bed and tires.

I began to beep. Scream.

What good will this do me NOW?

Ever seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?

It can really happen. My life began to flash before my eyes. I could see my children’s faces, hear their laughs. I saw bright lights around. I could hear my husband’s voice “You’re my everything”…

Oh my God. I’m dying.

This was it. I was about to see the pearly gates of Heaven – witness the miracles that so exist from those who speak of near death experiences. For us Ghost Adventures fans, I was about to become one. This was my day. February 17, 2014. Age 34. She loved coffee, scary movies, her husband, her children, football, beer and nachos. I could see my obituary.

I had one out. While saying a Hail Mary – praying like I had always been taught in my Catholic church that I hadn’t visited in years after many thoughts of wondering about my faith – I was praying like I never had before.

Dear God: please, I am going to swerve to the third lane, I cannot see out my side view mirror. Please, don’t let there be a car. Help me.  I cannot leave my babies. I cannot leave my husband, my family, my kitty cat Macy. Please.

I gave myself an ultimatum. I kept my hands gripped to the wheel and I swerved.

Today my friends, I witnessed a miracle.

As it turns out an angel in a gold Honda Civic had stopped traffic in the third lane. He had seen my plight. He had stopped them 1/4 of a mile back to allow me time to swerve back in the lane without hitting anybody. My car went off the road – and then something took control of my hands. Instead of hitting the guard rail – I went back onto the road, and stayed in the third lane. I did not overcorrect. I did not hit anybody. My car had not a scratch.

Neither did I.

It’s like an umpire yelling when a man on 3rd steals home base:

YOU’RE SAFE!

I immediately began to sob. Still shaking I called my husband to hear his voice. I called my mother to hear hers.

Now home and on my couch with a cold beer I wonder:

What was it that saved me today?

Somebody knew it was not my time – and they made sure of it.

Could it have been my love of the song I was listening to keeping me calm?

Could it have been the thought of my husband, children, and family?

Could it have been that amazing, thoughtful gold Honda Civic?

Or was it something deeper?

I should have died today. I saw the lights, I heard the sounds, there was really no way to avoid it.

Yet I did.

A guardian angel, perhaps. A keeper of my soul.

Regardless, I’m home. I’m home where I’m obviously meant to be now.

To February 17, 2014: today was not my time. Someday it will be – but it was not today.

To the driver of the Mack Truck: learn to pay attention. You could have killed this mother of 3. And knowing me, and my love of the paranormal and Ghost Adventures, I would have haunted the living crap out of you.

Life is good.

My Heart Unlocked: The Key

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Love can teach you many lessons.

I have suffered with anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues for many years. These issues date back to around spring of 1998. I have been through several major relationships – one of which ended in a broken marriage. Following divorce depression can become especially overwhelming. I had already been suffering for a year and a half prior to our separation due to postpartum depression stemming from the birth of my daughter in May 2009. The darkness I exuded brought so much despair that eventually – my ex husband decided to leave.

My life seemed to begin over again. Here I was living alone with racing thoughts and questions: how did this fail? I wondered had I ever really been in love – why had this gone so awry  … it was at that point that I said to myself, and believed, true love really did not exist.

In April 2012, on a chance encounter, I met my now husband, Joe. My heart was dead bolted. Locked. My soul was marked with a “No Trespassing” sign. I was still struggling with my esteem. I felt rotten, ugly, like I had completely been doomed to never feel the essence of true love. I was faced with a man that I instantly recognized had the type of strength I had always dreamed of. Here before me stood a Veteran, divorced himself, who had also survived cancer and had three children himself. His intelligence immediately sparked my interest. I consider myself a very smart and talented lady in a lot of respects – but his intelligence was not condescending. I was used to the type of man who would patronize me by making me feel as if my quotient of wisdom was stupidity, not knowledge.

Joe and I talked for hours each day. This man understood and got to the bottom of the deepest pits of my inner demons so quickly. I believe it was his kindness, his warm smile, his gentle voice that spoke to me with such caring generosity – that truly unlocked my ability to open up so immediately. It came out of nowhere. All of this time I had wondered if there was a man who was patient, kind, forgiving, understanding, hopeful, and loving – that would actually believe in me despite my emotional baggage.

Joe has never once left my side since. He has seen me through some of the most difficult times. We have braved my depression, anxiety, addiction, and health issues TOGETHER. He has taught me the meaning of true love. The value of his confidence in me goes hand in hand with his undying affection for each and every part of me. He never questions me. Every day I wake up and I’m told I’m beautiful. Little notes written on the steam of the mirror after I take a shower – “I love you, baby.” These are things I have never experienced before. In looking back on the past I realize that I never once failed anybody or anything when it came to love – I just had not yet found what it was truly supposed to be.

In my Prince Charming I have learned how to open my heart again. The key was in someone’s ability to grasp onto my inner imperfections and show me the light in each flaw – and that knowing that despite any days where I may cry for no reason, be moody, yell obscenities, need time alone – he still guides me and holds my hand through each moment. The key was finding somebody strong enough to not let go when the darkest hours present themselves in such perilous light – and instead, that someone would hold me through it and turn that into time together that just makes us both stronger.

He is my best friend. He is closest to me. He knows me better in 2 years than anyone has ever known me in all 34 years alive. He has brought me into that place of happiness and peace – he has taught me that the emotional catalyst to renewing my faith was simply in believing in myself – and to to trust someone else to do the same. I love him more than I could ever imagine loving another human soul – and in this lesson, I have become whole again. After being torn to pieces – his hands, his face, his smile, his heart, his hope, his soul, his genuine belief in my genuine self – has put me back together with a soulful thread and that missing needle in the haystack:

Undying, true, selfless, faithful:  love.

It does exist. We are proof.

 

Stop that Wrecking Train

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It takes a lot to bring me out of my hole of sickness. When get sick – I get sick BAD. It’s been one year since I had my last case of any sort of flu or cold (I was pregnant with pneumonia – fun). January 2014 is no different. I am still on the mend and actually at the height of it – I’m feeling terrible. I’m on a lot of medication for the strep throat and for the ears to get them to drain. I am very tired.

Yet still, I felt compelled to come and write my thoughts with regards to an incident two days ago that touched me a little bit too close.

At the beginning of my blog I wrote an open letter to the Famous.

If you have yet to read this lovely masterpiece of my mind’s rantings – it embraces that famous people make mistakes and that I often thank them for what they do and being in the spotlight. Without a person who has overcome difficulties and pursued their dreams – we would not have our much loved entertainers, leaders, writers…. the list goes on. I mentioned in the article that I understood not all famous people were famous for a positive reason … thus the purpose of me coming out of my sick hiding hole to write today.

Dear Justin Bieber:

Here I see a 19 year kid. You are just that – a kid. You may consider yourself an invincible teenager because you are in the limelight. I know you have a plethora of money that goes as far as the ends of the earth. You can buy yourself whatever you want and prance around with your head in the clouds: nothing can stop you. Justin – something CAN stop you. Your money and fame cannot save you from hurting yourself or others by being swallowed by actions of stupidity. I know you will not read this. Odds are this will become lost in a host of tweets and fan mail that you will overlook all the same. I just have a few thoughts for you – wishes perhaps.

You have 7 years until you are 26. Today’s prompt is about the number 26. I want to see you live until the age of 26. You have such a bright future. You are a talented guy – your music often echoes in my head when I’m playing with my own children. My daughter, in her 4 year old high pitched off key yet cute voice, sings “baby … baby … baby …oh” – and it makes me smile. Yet, in this pattern of deadly activity you are showing – I cannot allow my children to idolize, or even listen to, a voice that perpetuates stupidity.

I myself fell into a pattern of addiction and acknowledged what I was going through. I sought the help of family and professionals to guide me through. The first step for you is not to be taking pictures of yourself and posting to Instagram that you are “The King” like Michael Jackson. It is not to tell your fans on Twitter that you appreciate their support and to never change for anybody. You need to let your fans, and the world, know you are learning a lesson. You must let everyone know you understand the fault of your actions and recent patterns and that you are seeking guidance to correct these inner notions that lead you to such abusive tendencies. Your music touches the lives of younger folks – those who claim you have “saved” them. These young minds embed the way you reflect yourself on society into their own brains – has it ever occurred to you that they are watching and learning from the impressions you make each day?

I am a mother, Justin. I am a wife and a friend. I am a daughter. I could never have gotten my pathway to freedom without reaching out to others and admitting I was going down the wrong road. I could not fulfill those roles knowing I was in too deep with the decisions I had made. Please, for everyone, set an example. Become a leader and a voice for those afraid to speak up that they may be falling into the same problems you are clearly showing you have. Your recent dealings that are spotlighted in the headlines show a person lost in the spotlight of famous freedom – unable to see the negative consequences of their actions. It is not too late, Justin. Do not let others who are in the same position, yet not famous, believe those types of actions are okay.

I can see you at 26 – happy. I can see you meeting your fans after a show and speaking with them about how far you’ve come – and signing their CD’s for the new songs you’ve just released that have given them more hope than they had before. Please step up to the plate. You can do this. You can grow and extend from these recent turbulent days. Instead of acting like you cannot fall into the trap of car accidents, overdoses, and addiction – remind the world and your fans that you are a regular human being too. The world is watching you – as a mother, I am watching you. I am praying you will find your own pathway to freedom out of the spotlight and you will seek the assistance of others that can help you through what appears to me as a difficult time for you.

You can reflect to the world that your career and copious amounts of cash make you happy and you are not the troubled young man I see. But I doubt this is true. I see a tortured soul who is afraid to speak up for fear others will lose respect – or stop buying your music. You are more likely to gain respect by being a voice. You will stop making music eventually if these patterns continue. You will be lost forever with the other souls in the arms of the angels that never sought help. In the face of the eyes of the world you could lose your battle that could have been won – and those who have always followed you and considered you their “savior” – will only find devastation and questions that could never be answered because you could not simply grow up and show yourself as an actual human.

Everybody makes mistakes. No one is immune from the consequences.

I’m praying for you, Justin.

I Remember You (On being 16)

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I remember that bright sunny day. November 17, 1995. I woke up to the sound of my blaring alarm – time for school

It was different, however, as that day –  I turned 16.

After getting some balloons from friends at school – eating a great slice of greasy pizza for lunch in the lunchroom surrounded by my normal group of lovelies that helped me celebrate in between Algebra and Keyboarding – I made my way home. I was 16. It kept resounding in my head. I had been waiting. I remembered watching the Olympics when I was 12 and thinking “next time I watch this, I’ll be 16”. I felt on top of the world – older. I felt the gateway to adulthood closer than ever and I smiled the entire day. This in itself was quite unusual – I hardly ever smiled then.

I usually was scared to go to school. I would wake up at 4 AM to get myself to look “decent or pretty” by slapping on the foundation and my badly placed clumpy mascara. I was afraid to face the bullies – whom never decided to accidentally catch the flu or puke during 2nd period so I could have a day of peace. They were always there.

It was a happy day. I remember it clearly. A friend of mine drove me up to my mother’s office where I finally made a dream come true that I had been waiting for – I grabbed the keys to her car. I drove the car home. I drove it around the block. I rolled down the window and blasted obscene rap songs (I’m sorry if you’re reading this, mom, yes I was cursing behind the wheel of the minivan – and proudly).

Today I am 34. It amazes me how clearly the memories resound from younger times. I look back now on this – and to be honest, when I was younger, I wanted so bad to grow up – to be on my own, to forget the bullies and the bad hair and to gain responsibility. Moving to college and getting job seemed so great at that point in time.

I wish now, after many years of problems with depression, anxiety, body image, after 2 college degrees,  a divorce, 3 children, and many medical bills from recent illnesses – that I had enjoyed that time a bit more. I do remember you. I speak there to my 16 year old self. I remember you – that scared little girl wanting so bad to be a woman so the world would simply go away and I could make my way into my own place without worrying about the judgements of others. I used to smack myself in the face repeatedly over acne – thinking it would go away if I just closed my eyes for ten seconds. I would open them – disappointed.

Now an adult, I wish I could go back and tell myself what was coming. I wish I had taken my mindset that day and instilled it into every single day of my life. I  learn new lessons everyday. When I was 16 I had body image issues but I did not have the panic disorder and the depression. I had not yet overcome an addiction nor did I think I would ever fall into that trap.

I wish I could go back to that day, turning 16, and tell myself – “girl, you think you’re strong now? Wait until you see the strength you have later…”

I built up personal strength over the years – it did not just happen in seconds, or in a day. This is years of therapy and support from others that I’ve been able to fight these battles and come out winning. I have come so far. I have been through so many things in the 18 years that have passed.

Sidebar: Those born on my 16th birthday are now adults. 

I always tell myself daily that I take the biggest of imperfections and turn them into empowering lessons in human spirit. I even did it back then – when I was at the youngest of minds, when I had yet to discover what the world had in store for me. The paths I have walked down through adulthood have presented me with elements that, at the age of 16, I could never have dreamed of braving.

I will never forget that happy day. It was sweet. I didn’t have a party, or have a huge grand entrance and a car waiting for me outside of the red carpet. I smiled. I enjoyed it. I ate cake and a few slices of pizza and soggy french fries. It was one of the most awesome days of my life – and it’s hard for me to dig deep and find any at all that were truly as great as that.

And as I sit here and write this I realize I have the power inside of me to take my bravery and courage and instill it in each of my daily activities – to make these days just as great as they were then.

Things change. People change. Life changes.

But I still remember you – because you are still me. Your soul has never once left you, it has only grown.

And for my 35th birthday and every birthday on – I’ll look back as I blow out the candles, shove cake into the faces of my 3 babies and watch them laugh, and perhaps go grab a massage or a good steak dinner – and know that with the same hope and faith I had then that kept me going – I clearly still have it now. I have even more than I give myself credit for or care to notice in immense moments of depression when I cry…and…cry…and cry…

I can never forget that I am a hopeful and faithful person. I always remember you – you have always been me despite age in numbers. 

Don’t ever give up.