Imagine using the universal language of music to support mental health and wellness among young individuals. That's exactly what I do as a youth empowerment through songwriting coach.
I'm a huge believer in the power of music and songwriting to help young people, in particular, use the safety blanket of music and creativity to
sit in, identify, and understand their overwhelming thoughts and feelings
find the right verbiage to express themselves fully, honestly and authentically
cognitively rewrite the narrative of their life trajectory, given how our thoughts dictate our actions, habits and therefore our destinies
stand in their power, as they communicate those same thoughts, feelings, ideas, and understandings
and even re-write the algorithms of social media utilizing their creative output - but that's a subject for another blog.
Today, I want to share the story behind one of my songs, "All This Love," and discuss three important life lessons that have shaped my journey. But first: here's a quick recap in case you haven't yet heard the song.
Life Lesson #1: Look beyond the lens
When I moved to the States back in 2015 [from New Zealand], I instantly found myself feeling as if I had landed in some weird anthropological experiment... the differences in how the States [compared to Aotearoa] treated issues of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and even what kinds of music people listened to... was fascinating.
It wasn't long after I moved to the Nation's Capital, however, when someone told me that if I wanted to date here, I should stick to people from my own ethnic background... which, to be clear, is an almost impossibility, as I am not only Kiwi and Fijian, but also Iranian, Norwegian and American... which sparked an important realization: given how many conversations and connections I've been blessed to have since moving here: I am very aware that we have far more in common with one another than what necessarily meets the eye. Age, color, religion, sexuality, political affiliation, gender identity, and ethnicity should never overshadow our shared humanity.
Which is one of the reasons why writing All this Love was so important for me.
It's time we break free from the habit of getting stuck in the details, and start seeing the bigger picture. Let's challenge the lens through which we view others and embrace the beauty of our shared experiences, beliefs, and things that connect us, rather than tear us apart.
Life Lesson #2: Love is love - it starts with ME
I've always been taught that love is the most powerful force in the world. Whether you listen to folk like Marianne Williamson ["Love is the essential existential fact. It is our ultimate reality, and our purpose on Earth"], Wayne Dyer ["Whatever the question, love is the answer"], and Robert Morley ["To fall in love with yourself first is the secret to happiness"]: everything in life begins with self-love.
Now, it's important to note: there is a huge difference between self love or self care compared with selfishness. Oprah Winfrey once famously said, "It's important to be full of yourself.
"Your real work," Oprah details, "is to figure out where your power base is. And to work on the alignment of your personality -- your gifts that you have to give -- with the real reason why you're here. That's the number one thing you have to do, is to work on yourself...and to fill yourself up, and keep your cup full. Keep yourself full.""
Again: this doesn't mean arrogance or selfishness; rather, it means being so filled with self-compassion and self-care that our love overflows to others. Every day, we must show up for ourselves and ensure we are nurturing our own well-being. By doing so, we cultivate a positive impact on the world around us, sharing healthy and genuine love with those we encounter.
This is why, in my latest single "All this Love", I state that "All this love is a testament to my health". How I show up for myself everyday is an indication of how I'm going to show up for others.
Life Lesson #3: There's strength in adversity
Adversity is an inevitable part of life. It's easy to dwell on the "why me's" and succumb to the woes of the world. However, true strength emerges from navigating through challenging times.
In reading "The Alchemist" a few years ago, I realized that my superpowers are deeply rooted in my ability to love, show compassion, and empathize with others. But this realization wouldn't have reached its full potential without the adversities I've faced.
Experiencing brain surgery = absolute compassion and empathy for those who also struggle with brain trauma, disability, and learning difficulties.
Growing up as a multi-cultural human = absolute compassion and empathy for those that also struggle with the way they're treated as a result of their skin color.
Losing people to alcohol, drugs, and suicide = absolute love toward those who haven't yet developed their own self belief, or love for themselves.
Sexual abuse and assault = absolute compassion and empathy for other survivors.
Moving halfway across the world = compassion for myself, as I navigate how to take control of my own life, and [hopefully] use my own experiences as a way to inspire others to recognize their own power to take control of their own lives too.
I soon learned music was a powerful tool for me to simplify the overwhelm, understand, process and ultimately overcome these struggles by focusing on the valuable life lessons that these adversities were able to teach me as a result.
Of course, I'm sure that you, too, have encountered hardships. But it's not about the challenges themselves, but how we choose to respond to them. For me, songwriting started as a hobby, but soon became a powerful outlet to channel my experiences into creative expression, resulting in songs like "All This Love."
Of course, All This Love is just one example of an original song that I've written and released that embraces some key life lessons I've learned over my lifetime thus far. Some other musical creations you may be interested in hearing from me include:
Dig Deep [feat. The Capitol Groove Collective] - dig deep harnessed some of the understandings and lessons that 2020 brought with it - especially around the murder of George Floyd.
SOLD [Take a Shot] - my own attempt at a hip hop song reminding myself that I'm a powerful force to be reckoned with, reminding listeners that I'm deserving of respect and honor.
Be Brave- embracing the sentiment that even the strongest sometimes fall - and it's okay. Life isn't about having 100% perfect days, but about being brave in the face of the difficulties.
Miss Me with That- emphasizing that when people take issue or offense because of how you present yourself, or what you've been through... that's a them issue, and very rarely about you.
Together We Rise- honoring the power of community, and recognizing that we really are the result of our five closest friends. Choose those friends wisely, ensuring they bring you up, as opposed to down.
There are multiple songwriters, artists, musicians that also use music to channel valuable and important life lessons through their music.
Keala Settle's self affirming song: This is Me
Frank Sinatra's mantra song: My Way
Pink's "F***in Perfect"
Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and "You Are Not Alone"
Alanis Morrissette's "You Learn"
Savage Garden's "Affirmation"
"I Love Me" by Demi Lovato
"This Depression" from Bruce Springsteen
"Flowers" by Miley Cyrus
John Mayer's "No Such Thing"
"You're Gonna Love Yourself in the Morning" from Dolly Parton
"Love Myself" from Andy Grammer
Lizzo's "Good as Hell"
"Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey
Jessie J's "Who U Are"
... and so many more. The list goes on.
The thing that holds each of these songs together, however, is not only about how they discuss the importance of loving oneself, and transmuting their pain into power, but: when you, as a listener, hear each song: you, too, are reminded that you're able to take on the world, overcome and persevere.
But imagine how much more powerful that lesson would be - or could be - if you were the writer of the songs you're listening to.
That's why I do the work I do with the young people that I work with.
In the journey of youth empowerment through songwriting, I've come to embrace these life lessons with unwavering passion. Looking beyond the surface, prioritizing self-love, and finding strength in adversity have transformed my approach to music and life as a whole.
But it's not just for young people.
I encourage you to reflect on these lessons as well, and consider how they can positively impact your own journey. Let's empower one another, inspire change through our unique experiences, and continue using music as a catalyst for mental health and wellness.
And if you'd like to learn more about what that might look like, how it works, or you'd like some coaching about how to turn your struggles into song, click here to hop on a free discovery call with me.
Together, we can create a world where every individual thrives, supported by the power of music and the resilience of the human spirit.
I look forward to speaking with you soon.
~ Emma G