Tag Archives: music

To Write Love on Her Arms

When I came back to work after Christmas and New Year’s in early January, I had a stack of holiday cards waiting for me from vendors and PR agencies. Each one tried to put their own creative spin on an annual tradition, thereby winning my favor and, ultimately, business from my company. I smirked slightly to myself, thinking that there was no way any clever gimmick was going to succeed. After all, they were missing the heart and soul of what a holiday card should be: love, goodwill, relationship.

But to my surprise, one vendor did manage to infuse a little bit of the true holiday spirit in their season’s greetings. They gave me a $15 gift card to donate to a charity of my choice. (Yes, I know charitable donations can be just as much a marketing ploy as anything else, but I’ll admit that they work on me.)

I eagerly browsed the website listing thousands of charities, excited to find one I hadn’t donated to in a while (if ever). My eyes flitted across the name of an organization I hadn’t thought much about since college: To Write Love on Her Arms.

This organization, which is focused on raising awareness and finding solutions for depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide, had been somewhat trendy to support when I was in school. I remember lots of the artsy students, and many of my fellow English majors, sporting shirts with the logo. Because the name spoke to me – to write love on her arms – I asked them what the organization stood for. Most of them couldn’t articulate it very well; they just said something about how some group of people (in some versions of the story, it was a band; sometimes it was specifically Switchfoot) took care of a girl right before she entered a formal rehab facility and how this group now goes around talking about it.

As someone who wore the badge “Critical Thinker” very seriously at the time, I had to find out if this was just some feel-good fad or if it was real. Either I didn’t have ears to hear or the organization’s website also struggled to articulate its purpose, but I remember sadly admitting to myself that these well-intentioned people were fooling themselves. Yes, I “saw through” them as I saw through so many things. From my perspective, they had helped one girl and were now designing T-shirts and getting alternative bands to endorse them and, oh yeah, they had a few resources to help depressed people get in touch with a qualified therapist.

Image from http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/to-write-love-on-her-arms/images/17797997/title/3-photo
Image from FanPop.com

Little did I understand the power of story, of art, of music. Little did I understand what an organization built on those things could become. An organization built on story is like a holiday card sent out of undemanding, unselfish love: They both have meaning and spirit behind the actions.

While browsing that charity website this month, the name To Write Love on Her Arms spoke to me again. And once again, I pulled up their website. Only this time, I saw how that fledgling nonprofit with only a story had started programs of all kinds to reach people in the deepest pain. Each program and initiative was imbued with the spirit of that story, a truth deeper than any statistical report about suicide rates among teens. I saw how story and art and music could “bedew, embalme, and overrunne” the hearts of those who desperately need hope.

And I re-read the original story that started it all. You can read it too.

The woman who inspired the founding of this organization, a woman considered too high risk for some treatment centers, was asked what she would say if her story had an audience. She responded:

“Tell them to look up. Tell them to remember the stars. The stars are always there but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope.”

Thank God her story does have an audience. Thank God for cynicism transformed into hope. And thank God for all stories and works of art and songs that help us to remember the stars.

Featured image from Angelnel.deviantart.com.

Straight No Chaser – 12 Days of Christmas

Every year on Christmas Eve, my extended family sings the 12 Days of Christmas. Each person sings one of the days, and every year we ask things like, “Wait…is it ten lords a-leaping or eleven lords a-leaping?” As a group, we’re generally tone deaf and sometimes miss our cues, but we have fun. And even though every year we say we hope we don’t have to sing this yet again, that pretending is just as much a part of the tradition as the song itself.

Though a few iPhone videos of our family’s rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas have been taken in recent years, I decided instead to share this hilarious and amazing version by Straight No Chaser. If you haven’t heard it yet, or even if you have, you simply must listen. It will make your night.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Lady Gaga – Instrumental Playlist

I just wrote a blog post about why I write. Here’s a little sidenote on how I write.

I like to write to instrumental music because I find other people’s words to be distracting. Sometimes something classical hits the spot; Shostakovich’s Symphony 5 is one of my favorites. But this week, I’ve been writing (at work and these blog posts) to instrumental Lady Gaga. And it’s been awesome — lots of energy!

Goo Goo Dolls – Bulletproofangel

Have you ever had a moment when you really needed something, and you weren’t sure what it was, but then a song gave exactly that “something” to you? That’s what this song did for me this weekend. I can’t explain it, and I don’t want to. That’s the magic of music.

She hears a secret choir
That sings for me and you.
You know I don’t believe her
But I say I hear them too.

Switchfoot – Faust, Midas, and Myself

“You could have your pick of pretty things
You could have it all, everything at once”

I woke up from my dream as a golden man…
And I began to scream, “I don’t think this is me
Is this just a dream or really happening?”

I wanted to wake up again without a touch of gold

What direction? What direction?
Life begins at the intersection

I woke up as before, but the gold was gone…
What was once routine was now the perfect joy