Thursday, 12 September 2013

My Musical Inspiration: Lights

I apologise in advance, as I try to keep this blog as positive as possible, but when Helene said she was hosting a link-up on a song that made you think about a time in your life, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. The problem is, it's not exactly goofy and upbeat. Bare with me.

Now, I try not to talk about this here, because it's embarrassing (and it's annoying to hear people complain, so I try not to), but the truth is I'm extremely emotional. To my credit, I've gotten a lot better at dealing with my emotions over the past decade. But, I still cry every time I see Mufasa die in the Lion King and I bawl my eyes out every time Holly reads a letter from Gerry in P.S. I Love you.

In 2010, I cried about things more serious than sappy movies. Back then, things were rough for me.

I was juggling full-time courses, along with full-time work hours, and a number of other things.

Then, thanks to Google, and a phone call with a family member that I didn't speak to very often, I discovered that my grandparents (from my mom's side) had passed away. Years earlier. No one had even bothered to tell me. The last real bloodline connection that I had to my mother was gone.

Something else I've never gone into detail about here either is that, when I was 14, my mom passed away.

After my mom passed, my grandmother (my mother's mom) kept my mom's ashes. I kept saying I was going to get them from her one day. Andrew was even willing to drive me to her place, to not only get the ashes, but to see my grandmother.

My grandmother was from Lithuania though and, although she lived in Canada, she didn't speak much English. I worried about a communication barrier and I also worried that she wouldn't know who I was; the last time I saw her, I was a child, so I made excuses not to go.

When I was notified of my grandmother's passing, I was finally able to collect my mom's ashes. The problem was that I had no idea what to do with them and receiving them opened up new wounds that I thought had healed.

I became frustrated with school, work and with Andrew. I had no idea how to confront these emotions and he had no way of understanding what I was feeling.

Years earlier, I had discovered the artist Lights (her February Air, Old Navy video, to be exact. You can watch that here). The moment I discovered her, she immediately became my favourite artist. Not only was she from my city, but she was real. She wasn't a sell-out artist and was extremely loyal to her fans. Her music spoke to me. Her music got me through those difficult times.

In 2009, she released the album The Listening, and at a surprise birthday party that Andrew set up for me, my dear friend Mike gave me the album as a gift. I loved the album, as a whole, but I clung to two songs: The Listening and Saviour.

With The Listening, I felt like I could have written the lyrics myself:
Please excuse me, I'm not thinking clear
It must just be stress
But I likely shouldn't be here, I'm such a mess

I never really ever know what to say
When all of my emotions get in the way
I'm just trying to get us on the same page (Wish I could explain)

I always get it better right afterward
When all the wrong impressions are said and heard
How come I can never get the right words, I need to convey
Wish I could explain The things that I have to work out
Saviour, I think, was meant to be taken on a religious/spiritual level, but I didn't see it as that. I once again felt like I had written the lyrics myself:
The night is deafening
when the silence is listening
and I'm down on my knees
and I know that something is missing
because the back of my mind is holding things I'm relying in
but I choose to ignore it because I'm always denying them
I was desperately trying find answers with what I had lost. To me, "down on my knees" meant I was surrendering. I was giving up. I was looking for something and I couldn't find it. 

I remember sitting in the library on campus, trying to write an essay, but instead, I'd write these lyrics out, over and over again.

While writing the lyrics, I felt relief. I don't know what Lights personal reference to her songs is, but for me, they brought peace. They made me feel like I wasn't alone. They gave me permission to have emotions, but on a personal and individual level. I could express my emotions alone without feeling alone.

Music has always had this kind of impact on me, but Lights really helped me get to where I needed to be.

In case you're wondering, I still have my mom's ashes. I realised that I wasn't ready to let them go and there's nothing wrong with that. When I'm ready to, I will.

I also no longer feel the need to write lyrics out, and, the emotions I felt then, I'm at peace with. I can conquer each day, without a doubt. As long as I have music by my side, there's nothing I can't get through.

Helene in Between


  1. So many feels! I'm always amazed at how some strangers words can be exactly what you need to hear sometimes.

  2. i've never heard that song, but i love the lyrics. i love when i can relate to a song, even if what i'm interpreting isn't anywhere near what they meant. great post!

  3. Speaking of emotions, you just tugged at my heart strings!! I can't believe your family didn't notify you about your grandparents. I have tears over here. So glad you have no found comfort and also found a way to deal with your emotions. Such a relief I'm sure. xoxo

  4. I love your honesty here! Wow. It is so so crazy how something like music that was written by a different person experiencing something different can relate to you so much!

  5. All up in my emotions from this. So sad and heart breaking. But beautiful too. I love the lyrics of the first song. Beautiful girl, just beautiful.

  6. Wow, so sorry to hear about your mom and grandparents. That is awful no one notified you earlier. It really is amazing what music can do for you, how it connects and brings clarity to whatever you might be going through. Thanks for sharing this story Alex :)

  7. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom and grandparents. I'm so glad that this song was able to help you get through this difficult time- I am sure your mom and grandparents are looking down on you and smiling :)


  8. I loved reading this post. Some of these things you've mentioned via email but I love how beautiful and eloquently you've opened up in this post. I'm so glad that the lyrics sound bring you some sparkle of peace. xxx

  9. You are so brave to write about everything here Alex, thank you for sharing it with everyone. That is so great that you had a song to get you through the rough times. I agree with the girl above me, your mom and grandparents are definitely looking down and smiling on you!! xoxo

  10. beautiful post, i completely agree. Music really does help you sort through it all. thank you for sharing this.

  11. I'm honestly struggling to find the words I want to say right now. This was a beautifully written, incredibly open and vulnerable post. Thank you for sharing, Alex. I've honestly never felt a true connection with an artist/song/album but I can totally see how it can help people, and for that I am so thankful for music.

  12. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this and for sharing with the world a side of you that we don't see very often. I so much appreciate how upbeat and bubbly your blog usually is, but I am so thankful that you are so vulnerable in this post. Your situation isn't one that I can relate with, but I deeply sympathize with you. Beautifully, beautifully written. Such a sad situation, but I can feel your strength through your writing. You are such a wonderful woman, you truly are incredible.

  13. I think you can be whatever you would like to be on here, because it's your blog. If you feel like being sappy- do it! If you feel like being upbeat- Hey! No problem.. still your blog! Don't feel bad for sharing your feelings.. I connect best with people that are open on their blogs.. I always share my feelings on my blog because I'm better at writing how I feel.. rather than acting how I feel.. Plus, usually people I haven't met before- read my stuff and somehow that makes it much easier for me to bare it all.
    Ashes. I have some of my dad's and some of my step dad's ashes on my book shelf, (Separate, of course..) and I have spread some of my step dad's ashes on a camping trip with my husband and it was really special. I am not ready to give them all up.. and I'm not sure if I ever will either. It's always up to you and how you feel about it. I will admit that spreading some of them felt really freeing!
    Good on you for sharing:)
    (I did the link up and also wrote about my people.. and that felt good too!)

  14. this was a beautiful post, alex. i can relate to a lot of your words (the lyrics the the songs are so real and them). you can always write whatever your heart is feeling...that's the beauty of it being your blog. i know some people don't like to read the emotional, but it's real. you will be in in my thoughts and i'll be sending positive vibes your way. you are a strong woman. <3<3<3


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