music

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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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.

Fascinated by the Famous: A Thank You

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Dearly Famous,

“We are gathered here today…” (no I’m kidding) – the following soulful masterpiece of my blogtopia is dedicated to you. The above entitled truly is a thank you – it is not sarcasm.  I am not giving you a criticism. I am truly showing you gratitude.

This entry is written to you straight from the heart of a middle class southern nerd – I have been bullied, cried many hours, over anything from my goofy hair, to my braces, to acne …. Many days I sat scared and hopeless – approaching the mirror with a procrastinating trot, a fearful glance, “do I still look the same?”.

My entire life I’ve been plagued by this inner monster that has held me back. I confess I have an impediment of my personal strength and wish to no longer remain silent: I have never felt pretty on the outside – and I have somewhat yet not always felt beautiful on the inside but was never really talented or creative enough to get people to understand that (or at least, I never gave myself credit for it – enter in my favorite word in the dictionary besides hope and faith: esteem).

The worst of this haunting is not only is it that I suffer with now even at the age of 34 – it is that I know I am not alone.

So why, in professing this dreary ghost to you, am I thanking you – the famous?

Because I’ll bet, that each and every one of you, at one point in your lifetime – if not even now – suffer with these same inner demons. Maybe it’s when you were young, or went through a life changing event, maybe it’s when you made your first movie, your first song, your first public speech.

I am grateful for you. You in your entirety despite personal flaws that weigh a person down (your energy level is low, you feel like crying, you would really just rather be alone) – you go into the spotlight. You face the press. Your entire life drama, if any, suddenly becomes the center of speculation for millions of people who are watching – waiting for you to make a mistake.

I have always wished that the public would keep their noses out of your business. I had wished they were more thankful for the movies you make, the shows you act in, the songs you write – or whatever you practice that makes you famous.

Aren’t we living in a social media world where we can watch anything and everything online? Where we can finally send fan mail but in a speed of seconds – over Twitter. We sit in silence behind our computer or television screens (at least us Twitter users do) and wait and see: will I get a retweet? Will I get a reply? Can I just get a “favorite”?

Because we love what you do – we would not have entertainment, leadership, or anything of that matter to associate ourselves with if people did not embrace whatever talents they have: and become famous.

(If you are reading this at the movie theatre – do not roll your eyes – you would not be there enjoying yourself and a little day out and a bucket of overpriced popcorn without the actors and directors who made that movie you’re watching, so settle down)

I wish I did not feel so immature in doing this – but yes, I do write fan mail still sometimes (albeit 140 characters or less) to those that really inspire me to make a difference – and to those, with their persistent dedication to their own success and beings, impact my life in telling me to take it a step further: NEVER BE AFRAID.

I wonder how many of you have ever been afraid of something – after all, you are human (right? I have only met two of you REALLY famous people in my lifetime – each of you seemed human to me with your common courtesy to shake my hand, smile, and give me an autograph)…

Once again, I express my deepest of appreciation that you continue to serve your fans, the general public, whatever we shall name those that are not, by definition, famous, – you continue to work even when you are at your worst, when you honestly are having the worst day and you want everyone to go away (and for all sake of decency – to stop putting a camera in your face at Starbucks).

I’m guilty. I admit it. I’m guilty of people watching on the street to see if I can get a glimpse of one of you – I tweet you on a regular basis (only my favorites of course, it is fun, as an adult, to have this outlet that reminds you in a way of hand writing a letter and waiting weeks upon weeks – running to the mailbox wondering if I got an autograph or a response)…

Why the fascination?

I am fascinated by your fervor to withstand negativity, to compound it, and to make your mark on the world through even the toughest hardships. Granted, I speak myself like you are perfect – or as if you are in a higher class than myself or any other person – none of you are. I apologize if this sounds a bit harsh but who is? Not everybody who fits the bill of famous is a  person that is famous for a positive reason  (oops, a criticism, so I lied at the beginning of this post, but at least I’m admitting it, no?) – but I see you and learn from how you deal personally with so many different aspects of life at one time.

Yes, I know some of you get paid millions – it’s your job, yay for recognition and cash, right?

I see this differently. I see a person who could very well have walked in my nerdy, bullied shoes and has come out with a fan base of millions. I, from the depths of my heart, do not ever think I could deal with that kind of attention. My followers and friends would be surprised, after all I’ve revealed recently, how private of a person I really am.

No really – stop laughing – I am. I rarely allow visitors into my home. I stay in my pajamas most of the time. The peril of going out to the grocery store and spending any energy I have that I wish I could spend on cleaning up toys or changing diapers, that in itself should show you: I am very protective of my abode – it’s hard making a public appearance for this very non-famous woman. My blog is not  created for the sake of famous attention – it’s created with the hopes it will touch people’s hearts – if even just one. I aim for inspiring – and any new follower, while it makes me happy, the gain is in the aspect of prayer that my faith will touch that person’s faith.

So thank you, famous people, to all whom have inspired me to try harder – to each of you that has put on a brave face during the most devastating of outcomes and have still come forth to make a difference in other lives while others watch.

Now don’t go all snark on me now – I realize that most of the most influential people in my life – are actually not technically famous people. They are family. They are friends. They have been there since the beginning – I won’t have to wait for a tweet or a reply: I can simply call or text and boom: contact made. Success.

So what makes a person famous? Should I have defined this in the beginning of the post (sleep deprivation talking – my apologies to those who made it this far)…

For certain I meant actors (my favorite is Matt Damon, brilliance, my friends, BRILLIANCE), singers (Adam Lambert is my favorite, SUPERBNESS, my loves, SUPERBNESS) … (Ever watched my favorite show Ghost Adventures? Zak Bagans is honestly so intelligent and talented – REALNESS) anyone you see in front of you that works their behinds off doing what they love – and giving us something to hold onto (for all purposes, this includes writers, speakers, blah blah … I need not go on)….

But this is not all I meant.

To all famous people – I do thank you – I am so gracious to bear witness to your undying love of your profession and how you continue to bring that talent into my world …

For all of those who have ever felt even an ounce of what I have – feeling ugly, horrid, indifferent to the world, hopeless, worthless, uncreative, not talented (so sorry for everyone that had to hear me sing Ol’ Susanna at the 4th grade talent show) … but you have decided to step forward in your life, admit, learn, and inspire: guess what, you have become famous.

To yourself.

And THAT is most important.

So thank you all – because each and every one of you is different and diverse, many different pathways met, gone, and crossed, and each of you has a quality I admire, respect, and desire: and that is how I have become famous to my heart  is by inviting such intriguing views, needs, and thoughts from so many different people – into my world – and by making the most of those ghastly emotions, that one single pimple on the edge of my nose, that moment when I just break down and cry: I just don’t let it stop me anymore.

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Never forget that.

Yours truly, and living famously,

Jenn (pictured below for everyone to see who is writing this – in case you haven’t clicked the About page) 🙂

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Edited to include a shout out to the Daily Prompt for Jaunuary 13, 2014. The Golden Globes were last night and I could have totally used this as my current event – but I had writers block and went elsewhere with the idea. I wish I had written this today not yesterday – but that’s the way writing is – or maybe I’m psychic. Who knows. If I could have applied any current event it would have been the Golden Globes because that’s what it’s full of – by definition – famous people (and Matt Damon was there!)

Memory that Moves Me: Co-Writing a Song

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Once I helped write a song.

I had suggested the idea to one of my most amazing favorites in the world of rock and roll, Ariel Aparicio.

This man has inspired me in many ways since I first came across his music in 2009.

Now thinking about this current path I’m on – I wondered so many times about the things I am inspired by – that empower me – and then I said to myself “don’t you remember that song you once helped write? You know the one by your favorite artist? How many people get to do THAT?!”

Granted – I wrote the lyrics. He wrote the music and did the vocals.

When I first heard the song played back (on my birthday back in 2010) – I remembered how happy it made me, how I felt so liberated by the words, and how it applies today to the one hero in my life that continues to make every single day worth living  – my husband.

In those deep moments, that sometimes swell when things are not great, when my energy is low, when I wish I could simply hide – I think of things I’ve done – accomplishments – and remember to continue to strive towards my goals, and to become a hero to others, if even if my most difficult of moments, I simply feel like waddling off into the corner of oblivion and never being noticed.

The song is called “I Need You”.

Take a listen to this goal I once accomplished – and continues to remind me today – ANYTHING is possible.

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.

Inspirations

I’ve been asked recently about my inspirations. I’ve had many present ideas – and I’ve had my own.

How did I get through the darkest of hours? What were things I turned to?

Allow me to elaborate.

First and foremost – I began to work my brain in creative ways. This uses the other side of your brain – opposite of opiate receptors.

I started playing Scrabble. Word games – mind benders that tested my ability in intelligence. I found it helped lower my anxieties – things I wouldn’t normally do. I enjoy television – but often find it keeps me in my state of “lack of motivation”. Brain games tend to heighten the mind’s ability to find energy on another level. I love Crossword Puzzles. These fit into this creative category. I, of course, turned to blogging.

Music. Oh how I love music. I have several inspirational songs that have helped me so much in those deathly moments that feel so far away from passing – like grasping at the smallest of straws and you just cannot get it to stay in your hands – so close, so far.

Here are a few that I kept listening to on repeat. I highly suggest these – not just for lyrical content, but for the calming nature of the voices that accompany them. These are several of my favorite artists.

Aftermath (Adam Lambert) <– genius in himself, song is brilliant.

I am Beautiful (Candice Glover) <– my favorite American Idol winner – hands down. And this song explains itself as to how it is so meaningful.

Wild Horses (the Susan Boyle version) <– her voice is stunning – and the way she sings this song, and the lyrics ring so true. I just adore her – and I have repeated this so many times.

Susan Boyle’s Audition (we already know how I feel about this – she faced the adversity of the stage and she impressed, and she beat – she shocked the audience and the judges. I faced my own stage – and I watch this almost daily) – and I love the song she sang.

Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley) <– no explanation needed. It’s emotional – but it brings the ability to meditate, listen, and be soothed.

Hero (Mariah Carey) <– there’s a hero inside of you. I know this.

HOBBIES HOBBIES HOBBIES!

I forced myself to get out of bed again and start doing things that I hadn’t been doing in quite some time – stuck in bed, sick, wondering if I had failed myself, if I ever had a chance at normal life again. One of the biggest things I did was start my research in paranormal investigation again (this is just my example – everyone has their own) – and I started reading books again. My very favorite is that from Zak Bagans, entitled Dark World.

Buy it Here

I also love books that inspire – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is another idea.

Read examples of other people that have overcome trials and tribulations. This can include anything – it does not necessarily have to be what you are going through – I love the book by Damien Echols (one of the West Memphis Three, wrongly accused of murder, spent 18 years on death row, and released in August of 2011), that he wrote entitled Life After Death – these are my ideas, my inspirations.

There are so many things you can do – so much support you can garner from others – research, understand your situation, acknowledge it – and inspire yourself. I found in beginning this blog, continuing it, and reaching out to others (it looks like I’m so self indulgent constantly reposting my own articles – but I want them to spread) – dig deep. Your motivation is there – and working your brain helps work out the kinks of resetting – it is difficult, and it is a very drawn out process – but it works.

Inspiration truly works.

You know where to find it – believe.