Truth is…

This week has been so exceptionally draining. Some days it seemed my efforts to persist and persevere barely surpassed the minimum. I inched my way from one to-do to the next on “E,” knowing full well a fill-up was overdue, and fought the pressure that urged, “You have no time to stop!”

I’ve known depletion. I’ve tried to ignore weakness. There were seasons where  I’d pass station after station, opportunity after opportunity to refuel, and just pray I wouldn’t totally break down before I reached my next destination.

Those experiences familiarized me with what happens when your mind, body and soul finally demand all the accumulated mini recoveries you’ve refused them along the way. So, this week, I took some moments to selah.

I set aside at least a few minutes each day for a reflective pitstop. I conversed with my Source and let Him challenge my thinking. I asked, “Why am I still here? Why me? Why am I doing this? What am I working toward?” I engaged my Creator, contemplating my purpose and begging for inspiration, and He gave me some answers. Here is some of the sustenance He bestowed:

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2.

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3.

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4. I summed up the above and other verses in this personal charge:Image-1-2.jpg

When I comment on how I rely on “truths” to refresh my soul, sustain my mind, and inspire my writing (in fact, I began writing a new song earlier this week), these are the types of reflections I’m talking about. The above reminders shifted my perspective to keep me going. It may have been just #barely, but I made it. As a reward, I enjoyed this gourmet, all natural #ChuaoChocolatier “Spicy Maya” dark chocolate bar (thanks, Mom♥). It was the perfect “veg” treat to celebrate the end of a long, rainy, demanding week. I’m weary, but, nevertheless, I’m victorious!

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Define LyricSoul (leer-rick-sole)

Slide1I thought you all might be interested to know what exactly inspired my blog title. In my mind, I’m assuming the basic meaning is pretty obvious… I’m blogging mostly about the relationship between lyrics and the soul. How do I define that relationship? I’ll explain.

For one, my lyrics reflect my soul–my core being, my experiences, my life. I’m communicating my story. With each song, I’m summing up a thought process to connect with an audience that identifies with the situations I highlight.

And, going further, we could say my lyrics feed the soul. Not only do I aim to tell a relatable story, I also offer a therapeutic release, and a resolution. My songs deal predominantly with internal conflicts that I’m learning to first acknowledge then overcome by rehearsing the truth, as you may recall. I’m learning to adopt positive responses to the struggles I face. This process aids personal growth. Also, in sharing my lyrics/songs, I’m inviting others to engage in a similar soul-mending process. At least, that is my hope and my goal.

After all, its influential nature is what drives my love for music and my desire to make it. In its essence, music possesses the power to evoke thoughts and actions, promote ideas, create a mood. While the sound aspect is absolutely key, I’m biased and slightly more partial to what an artist communicates verbally in a song. I think words–especially in strategic or crafty orderings and groupings–demand our attention, require conscious interpretation, and elicit a response. As a songwriter, and being aware of this power, I accept a responsibility to choose lyrics carefully so I relay messages that promote positives like healing, truth, and love. “LyricSoul” is just an expression that embodies the purpose behind my passion.

“My Sound?”

I almost get flustered, sometimes, when people ask me any version of the question beginning with “what kind of music…?” I usually just tell people that India.Arie is one of my greatest inspirations (as I noted in my last post). But I also have to shoutout some other favorites and/or influences. These include Mali Music (definitely a super favorite), Lisa McClendon, Corinne Bailey Rae, Esperanza Spalding, Anthony Evans and more recently Lianne La Havas, Adele, Jazmine Sullivan, and Travis Greene. That’s an array that excludes so many more. And while I don’t channel all of them all of the time, that should give you an understanding of my general taste in music.

As a marketer, I know the importance of establishing and sticking to your brand in order to build a strong relationship with your target audience. I think the same concept generally goes for a musician, who must know and be able to communicate his or her sound. It’s been difficult for me, though, to describe my sound with one, encapsulating word when I’m speaking with people who aren’t familiar with my taste/the aforementioned artists. So, you get to witness this brainstorming session… Here is a list of words that come to mind when I contemplate words that describe my kind of music:

  1. Soul
  2. Soulful
  3. Rich
  4. Smooth
  5. Unique
  6. Deep
  7. Peaceful
  8. Authentic
  9. Acoustic
  10. Contemporary
  11. Music
  12. Captivating
  13. Enthralling
  14. Calming
  15. Soothing
  16. Kind
  17. Soft
  18. Buttery
  19. Pure
  20. Therapeutic
  21. True
  22. Mine ♥

How about this…here’s a snippet of me covering Ghost by Lianne La Havas accompanied by my favorite guitarist and bother, Jeremy. Quick plug…He’s playing on a guitar he built himself.

(Video Credit: Shoutout to my bestie on the camera, Amira Maxwell. Check out her incredible travel blog, “Wherever She Goes.”)

Feel free to help me out with more adjectives you feel describe my sound. I’ll consider them as I continue brainstorming. Or, suggest more artists you think I’d enjoy. I love expanding my playlists.

 

5 Reasons iWrite

These are in no particular order…

  1. Therapy: Singing and writing help me to process life. In fact, I’d estimate 90-95% of my best work comes after I’ve been crying or feeling low about something. The more something bothers me, the more I focus my attention on it. Writing songs often helps me think more in depth about the situations I’m facing and how I feel about them. It’s a way for me to contemplate my response or my afterthoughts. It’s a way for me to clarify my perspective on a lot of issues. Writing and reflecting give me the pause I need to connect with my Source and uncover freeing truths.
  2. India.Arie: She’s one of my biggest inspirations, musically. I am my own self, and my art is original, so I’m not trying to be her, but I admire and honor this queen for her talent, her individuality, her authenticity, her pure love of music, her sound and her ability to converse through song–from what I’ve observed as a fan. Even though we haven’t interacted in person yet, I feel she has been an example from afar. ♥
  3. Pleasure: Plain and simple…Creating is fun! We all need a little creative release to balance out life’s never-ending demands.
  4. Burden: I feel naturally burdened to make music and write lyrics that reflect my experiences. I strongly believe everyone on the face of planet Earth possesses some skill or gift (artistic or not) intrinsically linked to their purpose. In addition, we all have a responsibility to serve and impact the rest of the world with those talents. I’m not saying we all have to be internationally renowned superstars in our respective industries, but we can’t keep our unique attributes completely to ourselves and live completely fulfilled, abundant lives. So, as long as breath inflates and re-inflates my lungs, I will pursue my passion for writing and sharing my music with whomever needs to hear it. When my time comes to transition into eternity, I want my Creator to be pleased with how I’ve used whatever time He gives me, and the tools He’s presented me to make the most of it.
  5. Growth: I challenge myself when I wrestle with the dissonance between my natural, negative tendencies and what I should be reflecting in my thoughts, speech and actions. For example, I know bitterness and an unforgiving heart will only weigh me down, but my first impulse is to maintain grudges and vengeful thoughts. I know I have absolutely no reason to be anxious about my present or my future–what it looks like, whom it may or may not involve, where I’ll be, what resources I’ll have at my disposal. I know that, instead, I should fix my attention on thanking God for continually over satisfying all of my needs. I know I shouldn’t entertain harsh lies about my capabilities, my worth, and my physical appearance.  Rather, I should meditate on the truth that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, designed for a specific purpose, and already victorious. These are the mind battles writing songs allows me to confront. I’ve always learned better when I put key concepts in the form of a song. It may seem obvious, but repeating lyrics with a catchy tune makes it easier for me to place information in my longterm memory. In the same way, rehearsing positive thoughts through song makes the truth more and more familiar, and favorable responses more habitual. As time goes on, and as I face similarly rooted struggles, I have my songs to help remind me of how to not just cope, but move forward. The lyrics feed my soul so I can grow.

 

What I’m Thinking This Valentine’s Day

Being introverted has its perks. But I’d argue it also has plenty of pitfalls…like the pessimism that comes from spending too much time with my own thoughts. Maybe I’m alone, but I suspect my personality makes me, in many ways, detrimentally analytical. While it’s wise and healthy to be protective of myself and my heart, I fear I may miss out on some key growth opportunities if I spend too much time overthinking my way out of taking positive risks.

That’s what inspired this song, “I Think” (you’ll hear just a snippet). I began writing it when I was 11, to process all of the feelings I wouldn’t always bring myself to express otherwise. I’ve been adding to the original version since then, but I’m not quite sure it’s finished–perhaps because I’m still overthinking it (and most everything in my life).

Evidently, this song and it’s writer are both works in progress. My transformation can only come through a renewed way of thinking; an enlightened perspective for a fuller, more productive journey (Romans 12:2). Accordingly, the more recent lyrics in this song portray a key shift in my perspective, but these are my initial, more natural thoughts:

Haven’t you noticed

the way that I smile at you

Haven’t you noticed

the way that I’m shy with you

I don’t know if you’ve noticed

the way that I act around you

Well, I was blinded

but I’ve been unblinded to

The way that I think about you

Yes, there’s more to what you think I think about you…

I thought it was obvious

the way that I’d laugh at you

I thought it was obvious

the way that I’d single you out

or joke around

It was obvious…the way I felt a little nervous

but excited at the same time

Now I’m admitting to

the way that I think about you

But only to myself

’cause even at my loneliest I’d rather not get hurt by someone else

so I think away my feelings, hoping that you’ll catch them as they float away…

Yes, there’s more to what you think I think about you…

Now…here’s the shift (and one of my favorite parts):

I’m learning. I’m striving to be cautious, but not anxious. I’m trying to be positive and think about only true and lovely things.

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Finally, and speaking of lovely things, I suppose (given the occasion) I’ll dedicate this snippet to all of the guys that never knew I’d had a crush on them. Here’s to you most likely not even knowing who you are (LOL). Happy Valentine’s Day!

© Maya E. Hairston, 2016

Learning to Love Myself

Confession…though I make remarkably frequent use of it, I don’t always like what I see in my mirror. However, I’m learning to live by this principle: rehearse to reverse. To avoid being harsh and extremely critical of myself, I reflect on what my Creator says about me–I am enough. I am capable. I am here for a specific purpose. I am loved. I am beautiful. I have to rehearse the truth to combat or reverse the lies that discourage me from living a productive and abundant life. Indeed, some of the attributes I consider my greatest flaws my Creator designed to be my greatest assets.

These are the lyrics to my original song, “You Say I’m Beautiful.” I sing it when I’ve been suffering from an unhealthy self-perception…

When you look down and see me standing there

Oh, you smile down on my curly hair

And when I cry about my body

You say, “Child, look up. I made you for me!”

And you love me

You love me

Unconditionally

Take me in your arms and say you’ll never let me go

And even when I don’t see it

You say I’m beautiful

‘Cause you formed me

You made me

And you call me your baby

Took me from the dust so your image I would show

And even when I don’t feel like it

You say I’m beautiful

I don’t know what I do

That you would want me close to you

But still you love me anyway

So I give you praise

But when I don’t

When I criticize

Your creation through my human eyes

You’re faithful to reveal the truth

I’m your child so I look like you…

Teach me to see the way you see

To believe that you created me how I should be

A reflection of your grace and all your love for me

I’m a product of your handiwork, your masterpiece.

 

Also… Here’s a few seconds of the acoustic version (just the chorus):

 

© Maya E. Hairston, 2016

The First Song(s) I Ever Wrote…

My mom used to make photo albums of us when we were younger. In one of the albums, she crafted a page that described me and everything my life consisted of at age 4. Next to one of the pictures she wrote that my favorite song was, “Bubbly Sound,” a song I’d made up and used to sing around the house. I vaguely recall that detail of my very young, very imaginative existence. I have no idea if the song even had a consistent tune (I don’t remember it at all), and I’m pretty sure the only lyrics were “bubbly” and “sound…”

But, what I would acknowledge as the first song I ever wrote—one with an actual melody, verses and a chorus—is the one I wrote when I was six. I had a little journal that I’d written the lyrics in, and I kept humming and singing the tune to myself before I shared it with my older sister and then my parents and the rest of my family.

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My older sister and I

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can say definitively what inspired my 6-year-old self to write that song. I’ve always been creative. I’m left-handed, which many suggest has some correlation. I’ve always loved music and singing, and, from my conception, have probably never gone a day without engaging in some type of musical expression or activity. All I know is that it came so naturally and easily that I didn’t realize back then that I’ve been entrusted with an incredible gift—a gift I have struggled to realize defines my purpose.

My songs, in many ways, document my story. At times I reminisce and analyze old lyrics to compare/contrast where I was emotionally, spiritually, and mentally to my current situation. My first song, “Thank You, Lord,” was one of gratitude for life, family, and provisions. The chorus literally said,

 

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“Thank you, Lord, for everything you’ve given me. Thank you, Lord, for everything you’ve done. Thank you, Lord, for my home and my family. Thank you, Lord, for everything.” 

It reflects the innocence and faith that marked my childhood. I seem to have been much more easily pleased and full of joy–bubbly, you might say. All I needed was everything I already had. Like this song’s melody, lyrics, and title, my life was simple—super simple, and simply beautiful. Now I regret that I often neglect to reflect on the simple truths. Oh, to be a child again!

© Maya E. Hairston, 2016