Music and Joy

To me, these two words have become almost interchangeable when it’s about music that sparks joy in me. Literally, since I remember myself I could be in a good mood for at least a day when one of my favorite singers produced a new album.

I was born an a family of two musicians and was taught to love this joyous experience every time when I hear a good bass guitar improvisation or someone sing in this naturally flavorful authentic tuneful manner coming from the heart and soul of the singer. My parents and my elder sister would always point these moments to each other and taught me feel so grateful for the existence of this amazing thing – music.

Sometimes, when I feel sad or overwhelmed with something, music becomes my healer. At those moments when I feel weak, I just need to listen to Diane Shuur or Etta James and sing along to feel better about myself. Yes. I feel so much better after singing and sometimes even crying at the same time. I do it when nobody sees me.

I used to study vocal back in Russia and my teacher Galina Filatova would listen to a song I chose for my performance and even though, sometimes, she wouldn’t understand the lyrics, she would still try to make me match emotions of the singer and talk to me on a very emotional level about my personal life, use my demolished hopes or fantastic experiences in order for me to make her cry by singing as emotionally as I could. We had two posters on the wall at the singing room, – two posters of famous black musicians and she made me imagine that they were alive and talk to them pronouncing the lyrics of my song before I start singing. I remember it felt pretty real.

Even though I understand that my life is wonderful and there are so many things to thank God for… but sometimes, when there’s an obstacle on my family’s way, I become very sad. Especially if I can’t fix a problem myself at that moment. This morning I woke up sad. I needed joy and it wouldn’t come. So I decided to sing. I sang until I couldn’t control my voice anymore, until I couldn’t see the lyrics of the songs I chose through my tears. And you know what? I felt enlivened. Music brings this feeling in me – the feeling of being alive. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for me to love New York, – the heart of jazz music.

Some Etta James for you. And some Ukrainian heart-singer also. EnJoy.

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Self-Appreciation, Self-Love and the keys to it.

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Despite all the information on self-love that we have access to nowadays, every person has to find their own key to unlock this door to the self appreciating power. Therefore it is hard to generalize the ways to this important discovery. Sometimes, we get caught up in our own patterns of self-hatered and do not even notice how deep down the hole we are until someone subtly points it out to us, subtly because from my own observation, when we are fought against or blamed for something, we tend to perceive things in a wrong way, and again, not pay attention to the true meaning of the received message. So I hope I am subtle enough! Ha!:)

So today I would like to encourage you to find little ways to enjoy yourself. And this is a SECOND of the JOYS I’m pointing out to you. I will try to give you “molds” of my little “keys” and maybe then you can adjust it to your own shape and form.

I stumble on my path to unconditional self-love myself. But here is how I get up and continue going forward. I am not a professional you totally need to listen to, but I am a practitioner who has different experiences and wants to share them with others.

I’m not asking you to love yourself fully right now. I mean, if your can, you’re very lucky, and that probably means that you or/and your parents most definitely worked hard on your perceptions of yourself and your life and now, as a result, you are fully satisfied with your reality and your present self no matter how you look like, how much money you make or, for example, if you have friends or romantic relationship at the moment. This kind of self love is truly remarkable! Then, maybe you do not need my advice and I am sincerely happy for you! But we are all different and sometimes it seems that there is no happy place for us in our own hearts and surprisingly it occurs that all we need is just a little push forward. I hope to give you one and inspire you today by telling you what I do to uplift myself and love myself one step at a time.

So the FIRST STEP is drinking a glass of WATER in the morning. Yes this simple!

While you are drinking it think about love and you are literally nourishing your body and enlivening it by every gulp. After you finished your cup, close your eyes and feel the little movements of the water going through your body. Imagine that you just had a glass of love because it is true! It was an act of self-love! Open your eyes! Feeling better? Good job!

The SECOND STEP is going OUTSIDE for a moment or a little walk, or just simply looking out the window. Sounds silly at first right? Haha!:) But it’s actually not.

Try looking and perceiving whatever you see in a positive way. If you see a pile of snow and think “Blah… cold again…” – it is not going to make you feel better. Instead you can substitute this thought in a surprisingly natural way and think about a good side of it. For example “How magical it is that this snow is falling from the sky.. from so far away from me! I can actually touch it, it’s almost like if I could touch the clouds!” I mean.. why not? That is how you will learn little ways to see beauty in something that you haven’t found attractive before, including… yourself! So, redirect your gaze from the window or come back inside and look in the mirror. Smile at yourself. And do the same thing as you did outside: look at yourself from a different perspective. If you do not like your nose, try to look at it as a person who really likes this type of nose. WHY NOT? See? You already love your nose. At least you’re smiling!:)

Next, THIRD STEP is cleaning your SPACE.

There is a wonderful Japanese writer named Marie Kondo. In her book “Spark Joy” she talks about removing all items that do not spark joy in you from your space. I didn’t read the book, so I am not the one to recommend it, but I watched multiple videos about her and her ways of tidying living space and was amazed how simple her technics of tidying were. So if you are curious, just search her name on YouTube and get inspired.

Why do I point it out to you when we are talking about Self-Love? Again, very simple, because when you love someone or something, you want the best for them! You do want yourself to live in a clean room that you can enjoy being in right? It is that not complicated: EnJOY!

The most important, though difficult at first but yet eventually joyous FOURTH STEP is EATING HEALTHY.

This is a crucial step that I am going to talk about in my next post. I think pretty much every language has a saying “You are what you eat” because it is the truth that we sometimes ignore. For some people this saying became a cliche that they don’t perceive seriously. They hear it here and there and it sounds empty or, quiet the opposite, – too humiliating to them until it changes their bodies and/or self-perseptions and then, depending on what negative change unhealthy nutrition brought into their lives, they either finally listen and change their lifestyle or as the worst case scenario, do not have time for that.:( Changing the lifestyle doesn’t mean forgetting about tasty hamburgers or sweet delicious pastries, it means taking your time to look into the ingredients and find better options for yourself. And this is again an act of Self-love. I will expand more on this topic in my next post, I promise!

So, I invite you to enjoy yourself starting today. Even if you were reading it while chewing on a McDonald’s sandwich, you still can start now by confidently eating your last bite, not blaming yourself for that. Instead of blaming, Love YOURSELF! Show yourself love by committing acts of your authentic self-love, caring for your body and mind.

P.S. This post wasn’t proofread by my husband. So you can read it and see how Russian I actually am. 🙂