Changing Lives Through Stories and Songs
Originally published as a guest post on The Beat of Life Blog

Have you ever felt your life change? Like really change? A moment or experience that literally changed you?

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(Kurtis John, Ellie, Casey Renee Le’Vasseur)

Stories are an interesting thing. The way they weave their way through us. Our journey in this life is a collection of stories. Those stories make up our existence. They shape us and mold us into the people we are, but they do not have to define us and they do not have to hold us back. We have the power to change our stories.

A couple weeks ago I had the supreme pleasure of participating in a music program designed to serve adults and teens battling depression/suicide and mental illness through an organization called The Beat of Life. The Beat of Life provides programing for different populations of people ranging from soldiers battling PTSD to prisoners to children experiencing bullying. They pair the participants with songwriters and the songwriters then help them tell their stories. I got to be a part of the launch of their “Beautiful Minds” program with serves those impacted by mental illness.

That day a few weeks back was really special for me. It confirmed to me something I’ve been discovering and experiencing in my own life. I have the power to change. To change my story and change my life. And guess what…so do you!

I didn’t know what to expect going into the treatment center. I just knew I would be writing with a young girl in the battle. I too had struggled much in my life in this area and the opportunity I had to work with The Beat of Life that afternoon proved to be transformational. Meeting Ellie was intimidating. Not because of the reasons that might intimidate some people. Not because of the stigma and taboos that so clouds mental health, no, those are thing’s I pray can change. It was intimidating because I saw so much of myself in her.

We talked a great deal, In fact we spent more time talking than we did songwriting. We spoke of rain and journey’s. We talked about judgement and acceptance. about being okay with where we are at and not worrying so much about what everyone else thinks. Ellie told us that day as we sat talking that she felt different. She felt a little less alone, like she was understood.

And feeling understood is a beautiful thing.

I don’t know why Ellie’s road lead her into treatment and why mine lead me to meet her. I don’t know why some people experience more pain and emotional turmoil in their lives than others. Why some end up in treatment and others don’t. But, I do know that for the most part, we have the ability to move our stories forward. We can move beyond our past and our present. As we wrote Ellie’s story with her, I like to believe that’s just what we did. We were shifting her story. Helping to move it forward by giving her a vehicle to process her past pain and present struggles. We did that through songwriting. We sat, we talked, we processed and we wrote.

The Beat of Life’s mission believes in the healing power of music, that music can literally save a life. I see so much truth in that because through music I have been able to heal, relate and grow. I hope that’s what we were able to do for Ellie. I hope we were able to show her through music and words that she has the power to heal and change. And that more than anything she is not alone.

Telling our stories gives us freedom. Freedom to face our lives. Freedom to process, accept and change. Sometimes it just takes sitting down and getting it out. Talking it through and putting it into words, or song to remind us or reveal to us that we can survive this life by moving forward and letting go of the past.

Don’t be afraid of change and never forget that you have the power to change story!