This is very exciting for me to submit my first blog post as the new Executive Director of the Colorado Mental Wellness Network. I know firsthand how the Network can transform lives. My life was forever changed after I went through our very first Peer Specialist training. Learning how to reframe my lived experience from a space filled with stigma and shame into a place filled with strength and hope is something I am eternally grateful for.
Live music has been with me since childhood
Since I was a kid, my parents blessed me with many opportunities to see live music. My first concert was Neil Diamond when I was only 5 years old. I got to see Michael Jackson’s Bad tour AND Thriller tour. I saw MC Hammer, Pearl Jam, U2, Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic. Two Lollapalooza’s (Red Hot Chili Peppers. I even met Eddie Vedder at Fiddlers Green!). I could go on and on. When my parents were exposing me to live music at a young age, neither one of us could know that this would ultimately turn out to be a wellness tool I would use one day to keep me well. I have been fueled, refreshed, rejuvenated and saved by live music my whole life.
How live music became a wellness tool
It wasn’t until I took the WRAP training through CMWN that I truly understood that live music was my biggest wellness tool. It was just something I loved that I have done my whole life, it felt just like second nature to me. Live music brings me the most joy, fills me with hope. It is my release, and there is a sense of calm rejuvenation that occurs for me unlike anything else I have found. I know that sounds like an oxymoron that a live music show could bring me calm rejuvenation but what transpires for me in my mind, body and spirit is exactly that. I don’t know how else to share what happens for me during and after a show. I am able to release, dance like nobody’s watching, be at peace with myself, my friends and love the moment deeply.
The connection to mindfulness
As I continue on my path of recovery and wellness, I make live music a priority as I know how effective it is for me. This summer I had a revelation. Even when we have a wellness tool we use often and is so important to us, I wanted to dig deeper into why it works so well. What about it helps me? During a show at Red Rocks, I realized I actually practice mindfulness perfectly. I am able to be completely present while I am dancing and getting showered with music. I am not thinking about anything else but reveling in the present moment. I don’t have to try to be present, to quiet the chatter in my mind, like I usually do. It happens so naturally and effortlessly. I love right now is the only thought that came through my mind. I have to give credit to my precious friend Andrea Schwartz for creating and trademarking that statement, “I love right now.”
I would encourage you to not challenge your favorite wellness tool but to dig deeper into what about it makes you feel alive, hopeful and rejuvenated? I never realized that while I am practicing my favorite wellness tool I am also practicing mindfulness! What insight to help fuel my desire to continue to do what I love and practice self care! It goes deeper than I had previously realized.
Getting into live music
I know that live music is not the most accessible wellness tool. I am so very grateful to live in a city that is constantly overflowing with shows to see. Fortunately, there are opportunities to see free and discounted music throughout the city. Check out all the free summer concerts they did in 2017!
City Park Jazz has music in the park on Sundays in the summer, and Swallow Hill has discounted shows and wonderful workshops to learn to play music too. Additionally, the new Levitt Pavilion that opened last summer offers free tickets.
Growing up seeing shows at Red Rocks is such a blessing I do not take for granted. For those seeking information on upcoming concerts, I use the Westword.
Making live music accessible is a personal goal
A dream of mine is to find a way to make live music more accessible for anyone who wants to utilize it as their wellness tool too. I am still brainstorming how to make this happen. Hopefully I can incorporate this in some way in my future vision of the Network.
I am honored to have this opportunity to be the new Executive Director of the Colorado Mental Wellness Network. I will continue to utilize live music as my favorite wellness tool. I plan to delve deeper into other wellness tools I use to learn how else they provide self care and self realization. What have you learned about yourself through your wellness tools?