Monday, July 4, 2011

Music as a Motivator: America/The Homeland

Happy July 4th! I wanted to give you an Independence Day gift: my yearly "AMERICA" playlist.

I have always been moved by music. Throughout my life, I have connected music to what was going on for me at the time. Music has often been a driving force in my exercise. It always motivates me because it gives expression to my emotions, and connects me with the collective. 

Music is the universal language of emotion. When I look around and see an entire class filled with people who are literally moved by a song, I realize we are drawn together by common emotions and rhythms. When I returned from New York, post witnessing 9-11, all I could play was U2 and Peter Gabriel. When I was grieving my father’s death, the song “Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own” by Bono helped me to understand that I wasn’t the only one reckoning with the loss of a complicated paternal relationship. I remember the first time I made out with somebody, Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain” was playing in the background. 
This America playlist gets me really inspired, because it allows me to comment and inject my opinions about our homeland, plus it connects me with the energy that is sitting within my DNA. Literally living in my bones, is the tenacity, bravery and struggle that it took my relatives to get to America.

America - by Neil Diamond
American Woman - by Lenny Kravitz
American Baby - by Dave Matthews Band
American Girl - by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Young Americans - by David Bowie
White America - by Eminem
America - by Simon & Garfunkel
America, Fuck Yeah - by Team America
American Pie - by Don McLean
American Idiot - by Green Day

America, Fuck Yeah (reprise)

This playlist is one I have used for a 45-minute high-intensity spin, but can be used for any workout. I usually hit my breaking point at song number 7, the amazingly emotional and subtle "America", by Simon and Garfunkle. It is at this moment, when I find myself in a difficult posture, or at the end of a 3-song climb, and am feeling so weak, or in a moment that feels like I may not be able to breakthrough during a high-intensity workout, that I try to remember my grandfather and his America story. His very blood is running through my veins, and I think about what it took for him to get me here. 

Sasha Lipszyc grew up in Poland. At age 17 he escaped death during World War II where his mother , four brothers and sister were killed. The story is that after standing in a line he dove into a potato field and crawled to a narrow escape. He and his half-brother went on the run to Russia, where he worked on a rescue team in the mines, and there he met my grandmother (who was also working in the mines. She claims that he literally rode up on a white horse. A blonde, blue eyed Jew on a white horse....). My uncle was born in a cabin in Siberia that my grandfather built himself, and after World War II, they landed in a displaced person's camp in Germany, where my mother was born. Our relatives in America called for my grandparents, uncle, mother and great grandmother, who ended up in Los Angeles via Chicago where my mother taught her own parents to speak english. As my grandfather made a life for his family by building parts for airplanes and rocket ships, he opened up opportunities for his children who respectively ended up at Harvard and UCLA. All of this so that I could have problems like gaining five pounds, or not being invited to a party...

Each of us has a history and a way that we landed in America. The effort it took to get to exactly where I am today, so that I could flourish and have opportunities like I do is amazing. That effort, energy and drive is 100% in my DNA. And in yours too. It is in your bones, and when you feel like you cannot go on, all you have to do is tap into that resource which is your birthright. The body is an archive, not only of every experience that you have ever had, but it also carries patterning from generations past, and the blood of the ancients. You have much more energy available to you than just yours. You can truly draw unlimited energy from the Universe. And it begins with this remembering.

When I was a little girl, my grandfather and I would take walks around the neighborhood. He would point out the birds on the telephone wire, and the magic of a maple tree. His favorite thing to do would be to go to Venice beach, Muscle beach, as he would call it. We would pack up our bathing suits, beach towels and little else, traveling West to visit the ocean and hit the bodybuilding gym. My grandfather was always a big fan of exercise, and he, along with my dad were major influences in my desire to work out! Exercise has a built-in obstacle. All athletes have that moment, a turning point when you make that choice to breakthrough or breakdown. Sometimes, all you need to do is get inspired by what is already built in. The desire to push through.

Music is this universal binder, and a language that can jog our memories and tap into our bloodline, returning us to our very source, deep within. These stories that live in us need not hold us prisoner but, when channeled, are here to source and use to our benefit.

Moving through obstacles and difficulties is the single most powerful way to gain strength and self-confidence, but we need help remembering our special power! I would love to hear your inspiring America stories. How did you get here? What was the journey that your ancestors took?
Please enjoy some of my motivational playlists that I have created, which have bonded my students to one another. Think about songs that you associate with certain emotions and share your story with us on here.

Happy Interdependence Day. 

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