Send us your thoughts! May's focus is grandmothers, mothers and daughters and we're asking: What have you learned from another generation of women? Tell us about it. Send a paragraph or two to email@example.com Deadline: April 10, 2013
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Each month we ask our readers to respond to a question. For April, 2013, we asked: What is the theme song of your life and why?
"Respect" There have been many songs that have come and gone as I have led the Roxxy Hall Band, but one song that has always been on our playlist is Aretha Franklin singing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." It's hard to believe that women still make 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. If a woman is doing the same job as a man, she needs to be shown respect and receive the same pay.
The Violence Against Women Act was finally passed, but women's rights are still up for debate in Congress and in society. "...All we're askin' is for a little respect..." and we still have a ways to go. With love and respect,
Roxxy Hall, New Brighton
"Let It Be" This song by the Beatles would be my theme song.
It's a great motto and one I try and live by as much as possible!
Dawn Huberty, Maplewood, Minn.
"This Door Swings Both Ways" My theme song would be an almost unheard-of song from the 1960s by Herman's Hermits. From the title you would not grasp the meaning, but listen to the ending verse: "Make the most of living if you're not prepared to die."
I believe I have made the "most of living." I have had lovers, married, became a widow, had a long full-time employment record, gone back to college, married again, raised two sets of "bonus" children, made great friends in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, overcame colon cancer, traveled, re-established my religious beliefs and stepped out of my comfort zone and tried new things.
Of course, along the way I have made mistakes and done things that are unforgiveable, but such are life's choices. And I will continue to "make the most of living" as I stretch my capacity to learn and grow, try new things and meet new people. Thanks, Herman!
Nancy Grimes Johnson, New Richmond, Wis.
"Ramblin' (Wo)Man" My theme song is "Ramblin' (Wo)Man," Cat Power's cover of the Hank Williams song "Ramblin' Man."
When I first heard "Ramblin' Man," the Hank Williams version, I immediately connected with the sentiment of being carefree and unashamed of it. I am inspired by following what comes naturally, not being inhibited by others' views of your lifestyle and feeling no compulsion to settle down at any age.
More recently, when Cat Power released her cover of this song, I fell in love with the female voice to the same lyrics. This soft, sultry, feminine version resonates strongly with me, and I feel that she is singing "my" song.
Katy Runyan, Minneapolis
"Free to Be ... You and Me" I was born around the time "Free to Be" by the New Seekers came out; April 7 marks my 40th birthday. As I reflect, everything I've ever done, believed and hoped for is summed up in this song: Free to BE!! I am women's empowerment, I am pro-human, I am pro-earth, I am pro-PEACE. I salute everything in you in me.
Anika Robbins, Minneapolis
As Time Goes By" Thank you for asking; it's nice to consider the big thought. I live each moment:
I am on my third career and I am 71. Dance turned to events/PR to author-three books in the past year.
Moments pile up. Know each is different, a product of the past and present.
And I didn't know it by the second, just followed the lightning, loved the jolt of inspiration.
Beth Obermeyer, Minneapolis
"This Woman's Work" I would have to say "This Woman's Work" by Kate Bush is my theme song. It is a solemn song that builds momentum and strength. I would say that my life has done that. It has been eventful and enlightening, and as I have moved those mountains, it continues to savor and keep getting better with more challenge. While the complacence and beauty of having my children is the greatest of my efforts, I have found greatness and beauty in my strength, character, intelligence and drive. These assets I share in human connection, to give what I possess to others. It is empowering and steadfast just like Kate Bush's song, which attests to the power and strength that a woman possesses.
Tiffini Flynn Forslund, Minneapolis
"I Love Myself, Accept Myself" In my mother's three-year death process from ALS, my marriage died. My husband told me I was fat and had bad breath. He had no interest in making love. He put down my work as a storyteller, first because "it would never make any money," and later because it was "too crazy." He walked out of the house if I expressed feelings of anger or sadness. My self-esteem shrunk to the size of a small pinecone.
What saved me was a song sung to the tune of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." It began with "I Like Myself," which wasn't strong enough soul medicine since I did NOT like the victim I was becoming.
So I changed the word "like" to "love":
I love myself, accept myself
With all my foibles, faults, and fears,
There's no one else like me.
I know my happiness depends
On what's inside of me.
It can't be purchased at a bank,
Nor at a pharmacy.
That's the song I sing
Let the world hear me say,
I love myself, accept myself
This very day.
I taught that song to many children in school assemblies and artist residencies. It helped me become the hero in my own life story. It was love medicine with no bad side effects: lifting my attitude from "poor me" to heroine, rejecting materialism and drugs, embracing my inner spirit, producing endorphins.
My mother died at home, drowning in the fluid of her own lungs. Before she passed, I found out that my husband had been having an affair for two years with a woman 13 years younger who worked at the same corporation. After counseling, I divorced him-and kept the song.
Carol McCormick, Plymouth
"Both Sides Now" This song was written in 1967 by Joni Mitchell, but it was Judy Collins who first brought it to the public's enjoyment. What Mitchell has done is create a counterpoint design in every verse. The positive lines are followed by negative ones. I am smitten with the beginning lines:
Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I looked at clouds that way.
She is an artist who sees what is beautiful, and I look and find the same, in my daily life. The next part of the verse, however, begins with, "But now they only block the sun ..." It is a temptation to see the clouds as a detriment, and I have gone in that direction, probably too often.
Each time I have sung this song, I have thought about the ups and downs in life and its cycles. Now in my seventh decade of life, I have lived many adventures, and in each one I have learned new and scary things. I have soared and I have fallen.
In Mitchell's song, she sings of the predictable steps in life's journey and the positive and negative possibilities. "Both Sides Now" expresses a colorful and authentic view of life.
I have traveled on both sides, some leading down a dark alley and others bringing me back to a complete enjoyment of the beauty of life.
Today, as I sit here writing, I am also looking out at my students who are writing about their theme songs. They are typing away, while listening to their song. They look serious. They are 14- and 15-year-old girls who love music, but they have never looked at it this way before. They can examine their musical choices and write about a song which "sings out" to them. They have briefly looked at life from both sides, yet they quickly chose their theme song.
Rita Speltz, Minneapolis
Editor's Note: Speltz is a teacher at Convent of the Visitation High School.
"You're Beautiful" A theme song of my life would be this song written by James Blunt with Sacha Skarbek and Amanda Ghost. Even though this song is about a man who had fallen in love with a girl who is now with another man, my interpretation is the bumpy path of life. The words "My life is brilliant" are saying to me: Your life is brilliant even though everything doesn't come easily. You have to look past the bad and focus on the good.
In the line: "I saw an angel of that I'm sure," I believe it's saying that people will always be there for you-maybe a human being or possibly even an angel. Even though mistakes are made, you are still beautiful. Someone will still appreciate you. The line: "And I don't know what to do, 'cause I'll never be with you," expresses that along the road you will be confused; everything in life doesn't come easily. "But it's time to face the truth, I will never be with you"-this line expresses to me that you will have struggles in your life, you just have to face the truth.
Everyone has to walk the bumpy path of life, mostly because "it's just life."
Caoimhe Woodburn, St. Paul
Editor's Note: Woodburn is a student at Convent of the Visitation High School
"What a Wonderful World" This song, as sung by Louis Armstrong, is the theme song of my life. It talks about the good things in life, and the things that one should dwell on.
Bright blessed days, dark sacred nights
and I think to myself what a wonderful world.
The colors of a rainbow so pretty in the sky
are also on the faces of people going by
These two parts of the song especially speak to me.
Recently, my sister was diagnosed with a cancerous mole. This song encouraged me to not focus on the mole, the cancer, the fight or the scar, but on the healing, the love and the relief. I knew, because of this song, that I could not focus on the bad, but the good, which is how I got through the fright and helped my sister all along the way.
My mother has a hard time with many things, yet is thankful for the blessings that she is given and prays thanksgiving prayers. She does not dwell on the bad, but on the good. She is my role model. This song speaks to her, too, because of the upbeat music, jazzy background, beautiful lyrics.
To live on this earth, we need happiness, and this song tells where we can find it-in the little things, because this world is really a wonderful world.
Tess Ryan, Eden Prairie
Editor's Note: Ryan is a student at Convent of the Visitation High School.