Looking for a sign

Last week I wrote about being at peace with my lyric writing journey. This hasn’t changed, even though I’m prone to sudden mood swings, but apart from my lyric writing I am at a loss when it comes to figuring out what to do with most things in my life.

 
I have told you that, since a couple of months back, I am working two jobs to keep afloat. This new situation has put me in a catch 22 situation, because without keeping both jobs for a very long and foreseeable future, I will sink financially. On the other hand, by keeping the jobs for a very long and foreseeable future I will deny everything inside me that is me, which sooner or later will kill me no matter what my financial status is. To begin with it will kill me on every other level than physically, i.e. it will zap my energy, kill me emotionally, it will numb my mind, my spirit and my soul will starve. When it has gone that far, my divine spark will dim down too. There won’t be much point walking around like the zombie I will be, at that point.

 
Why do I feel my future is looking this dark? Well, after only seven weeks in this new situation, I am forced to leave more and more of my creative work behind, just to have the energy to go to work and do things that need doing at home. Some of you may have noticed that this blog already has started to suffer a bit. Last week I only managed one blog post, because I have been too tired to find any kind of inspiration to write.

 
For most people, two jobs wouldn’t be a problem and for most people continuing with creative things after work wouldn’t be a problem either. Sadly, I’m not most people. I belong to the 20% in the world that lives with the title Highly Sensitive Person HSP https://hsperson.com/ and therefore the situation I’m in is slowly destroying my life.

 
I feel totally cornered and all I can do is look for a sign of some sort to help me out of this predicament. I would never walk out of any of the jobs, because the world doesn’t look kindly upon people quitting jobs needed to keep them paying the bills. In all fairness, I wouldn’t look kindly upon myself if I did. Sadly, there may come a time when the choice isn’t mine anymore if this is how I feel after seven weeks. In what shape will I be in after twelve months? How much of the real me will still be around?

 
A few years ago, I wrote a lyric about how it can hurt when people only see what they want to see when they look at you. Anything inside you that frightens them or is too different from themselves, people tend to ignore. This is fine if we are talking about strangers. Less so if we talk friends or family. At the moment the lyrics also fit in with my biggest wish; that someone out there would recognise my strengths which can be in any of my creative ventures, i.e. graphic designing, baking, writing etc. so that I could be able to make a living from something that vitalises me, instead of what is happening now and is slowly killing me.

 
The lyrics is called “Love the real me”.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

Love the real me!
I’ve been a big disappointment,
in every which way to you.
That is what happens when trying
to change what is red into blue.

You want me to fit your settings;
So what, if I lose my wings?
As long as I live your picture;
Who cares if my soul fails to sing?

Chorus
You say that you know me
but don’t have a clue.
You never took time out
to find what was true.
I’d so much to offer,
but outside your mould.
You saw what you chose to,
and missed all I hold!
Why couldn’t you love the real me?

It would have been good to tell you
of all the dreams that I’ve had.
But somehow, they were to different,
your fear made me mute and so sad.

Chorus
You say that you know me
but don’t have a clue.
You never took time out
to find what was true.
I’d so much to offer,
but outside your mould.
You saw what you chose to,
and missed all I hold!
Why couldn’t you love the real me?
©Åsa Sandberg 2014

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In real life

Since the foundation of this blog is lyric writing in general, and more specifically about my own development as a lyric writer as well as my thoughts around that development, I can’t help feeling that I need to present a new song-lyric for you from my own pen now and again. Deciding it is time to write something in my blog that includes a brand-new song-lyric is scary, because if I don’t succeed in writing a new lyric, I don’t have a blog post. Still, it is a good scary because it forces me to get creative. Mr. Deadline is the best collaborator anyone can have.

 
This feeling of presenting a new song-lyric once again, has been making itself known for a few weeks now. Sadly, with a second job, my life has become a bit busier of late, so the creative flow has had to take a back seat. Writing that last sentence is just as horrible as it feels, but sometimes needs must and right now I am in one of those times.

 
However, two things have prompted the brand-new lyric I’ve actually written today. The first one was my realisation about how tired I’ve become of social media. I wrote about that a few blog posts back. The second one came only a couple of days ago, when I found out that the world was celebrating “The international emoji day” or something like that. I mean; -really!!!

 
However, I should be grateful, because this made me decide what my new lyric would be about. It was to be about two old friends doing something as strange as meeting up in real life, IRL, taking time out from their smart phones and just go for a long walk in the country side laughing and reconnecting, without having to try and make their words fit into a specific amount of characters and not having to rely on smileys to express how they feel. Doesn’t that sound rather wonderful? I think so.

 
The lyric is called “IRL” and somehow, I hope it will prompt some of you reading this to take the step to reconnect for real again with someone important to you that you haven’t seen for a while. Don’t let the fear of “maybe it’s not a good time” stop you. You will know you’ve done the right thing, when you see their happy face, just as I write in my lyric.

 

 

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

 

IRL
Woke up Sunday morning,
thinking of a good, old friend.
Grabbed my phone to text her,
stopped before my thumb hit send.

 

Then I grabbed my car keys,
drove two hours to her place.
Knew I’d done the right thing,
when I saw her happy face.

 

Then I said;
Chorus
Let’s go for a walk! In real life!
Have a proper talk! IRL!
Laugh out loud, just us. In real life!
No emoji-smiles and fuss. IRL!
Just be here and now. In real life!
IRL!

 

Never brought our phones,
just disconnected from it all.
We stayed out for hours,
with no need for social walls.

 

Chorus
Let’s go for a walk! In real life!
Have a proper talk! IRL!
Laugh out loud, just us. In real life!
No emoji-smiles and fuss. IRL!
Just be here and now. In real life!
IRL!

 

Bridge
A friend, a smile.
To live a while.
Connect for real.
Can’t beat that deal!

 

Chorus
Let’s go for a walk! In real life!
Have a proper talk! IRL!
Laugh out loud, just us. In real life!
No emoji-smiles and fuss. IRL!
Just be here and now. In real life!
IRL
©Åsa Sandberg 2018

Self-acceptance

Today I’m doing something I probably will never do again, but I’m doing it because of the realisation that what I’m talking about will most likely make an enormous difference to the way I write song lyrics from now on. So, what is it I’m going to do? Well, I’m going to share a blog post here from a different blog I’m writing, called “Overweight thoughts” to put into my blog about lyric writing.

 
In this blog post called “Mirror, mirror on the wall” I share a very powerful moment and a realisation I had at work yesterday and I’m sharing it with you, here because I know I’m far from the only one struggling with issues like this. I also know that everything in our lives is connected. If I am at peace with myself, I will write better song-lyrics, even if I may choose to write sad lyrics. I’ll let you read the parts of the blog I have cut out as relevant to my song-writing and get back to you at the end.

 

I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t hated mirrors with all of my heart. I have avoided looking into them as much as I’ve been able to, because I have been so appalled with the image facing me. It has made me cringe, look away and feel sick. Facing myself in the mirror or on a photo has actually been the worst thing someone could force me to do.

 
Even those few years in the early 1990’s when I was slimmer than I had ever been, I had the same problems with photos and mirrors, which means that not all of this horror has to do with weight. It’s more to do with not recognising the person in my reflection or in a photo as me. As the person I know I am meant to be both inside and out.

 
In 1990 when I lost weight successfully for the first time, I thought getting rid of excess weight and looking “normal” would solve all my problems and with that done, I would settle into the routines people do in their mid-twenties (or did back then) with steady jobs, a house and sooner or later a family. The horror I felt when I realised that however slim I was, I still was as insecure, I still had the same difficulties “socialising” with small talk, I still hated to go out to night clubs, etc. All these thigs made me a loner. A loner that felt like the piece of a jigsaw that had landed in the wrong box and didn’t belong to the picture. It was this feeling which got me started down a road where most things in my life would become very much worse before they finally became better.

 
I’ve now realised that back in 1990, I didn’t like my mirror image, because I didn’t recognise what was inside my physical frame as the real me. Me; -the person I was meant to be according to my soul, was hidden behind so many insecurities and horrors from my life up to that point that, even if the frame may have been the one I feel most comfortable in, everything else was wrong. I have also realised that every attempt I’ve made since the 90’s to get back to my ideal weight have failed, because inside I wasn’t ready. In my mind I was still judging myself for absolutely every mistake I’ve ever made (and they are many). Sadly, I also have an excellent memory when it comes to remembering my own mistakes, and unfortunately also those of other’s. There was no way I could succeed in losing weight while I kept on punishing myself for everything I’d done wrong and harbouring negative thoughts towards other people in my life that weren’t perfect either.

 
This year has so far been full of miracles on many levels. Last week I told you that I have realised that I am now healed inside. I have suddenly been able to stop blaming myself for everything that goes wrong in this world and I have managed to let go of my self-judgement.

 
Well this morning, while cleaning the floor in the female locker room at the supermarket I now work in, I had the biggest miracle of them all. As always going in I looked down to avoid looking into the full mirror in the room. Then something inside me said; why don’t you take a look. So, I did. A bit hesitant, but I did. Then I got my miracle. I didn’t cringe, I didn’t feel sick and I didn’t look away! Instead I looked at me. And I felt a very deep happiness because I finally recognised myself in the mirror image. Just as I am supposed to be. Granted, I still have a good two stones (15kg) to lose before I am where I want to be with my physical weight, but the person looking back at me was definitely me. Both inside and out; warts and all. I am so happy I was alone in the locker room because this self-acceptance was so powerful that I could not hold back the tears. It’s taken me almost 52 years to get to a point in my life where I can look at myself in a mirror and say; “Hello! Nice to finally meet you! Well done for getting this far. Enjoy the rest of your life!”

 
No one who hasn’t felt that intense disgust when seeing oneself in the mirror, will ever really understand how big this moment was and what it has taken to get to where I am today, being able to write this down for all of you to read. All of you that haven’t had to experience that on your life’s journey, will just have to believe me when I say that it is one of the most extraordinary things that has happened in my life. I suppose it is called self-acceptance.

 

I think that if we don’t feel good enough or feel insecure as people, it is hard to reach our full potential as lyric writers. In my case I know that when I’m writing it has made me avoid some subjects. For instance, sometimes I just haven’t felt secure enough in myself as a person to share my honest emotions through a song lyric, even if I know the lyric would have benefited from my honesty.

 
Let’s hope that my newly found self-acceptance will allow me to write whatever I feel like writing from now on and lets also hope that you out there reading this, feeling the same way I have felt, and will be able to get to your point of self-acceptance very, very soon, because you are worth it!

 

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Fed up of social media

I know my headline may be a strange one for a blog that is supposed to be about song-lyrics, music and writing, but sadly there is no getting away from the effects of social media anywhere today. Whether I want to or not, the constant reminders and fleeting comments about how “you can’t make it without social media today”, strikes a fear in me and I somehow feel I will be left behind even more than I am today if I don’t develop my social media pages, and also increase the number of platforms I’m using.

 
My problem is that I am so bored with and fed up by everything that has to do with social media. I am getting to the end of a social media marketing course that, admittedly, has been fairly interesting, however I have also realised that it is not relevant for me and my situation. It doesn’t matter how many collaborators I could lure to my, at the moment, non-existing website via clever tweets or wonderful Instagram pictures of my cats, dog or the local nature. I really don’t have enough success stories behind me to keep someone interested of my lyric writing, as things are today. Why would I then waste time writing clever tweets or come up with the right hashtags and also the right number of hashtags to my Instagram pictures? I’ve learned through my social media course that 13 hashtags per Instagram picture gives the optimal number of clicks to my picture.

 

Personally, I find it a horrendous waste of time figuring out 13 different hashtags to every picture. Especially since I don’t think 17 semi-final places in UK songwriting contest and one good placement in the SongDoor competition will make that many composers believe in my potential. In my experience most people looking for collaborators are searching for someone that already has had more success than themselves, or is showing more potential.

 
This social media course is also telling me that the worst thing I can do on my FB business page is to sell. Instead I am supposed to build up a relationship with my followers and make them trust me via my organic posts. If I advertise, that has to be done in a clever way too, so that people don’t think that I am advertising. I’m supposed to do it via a “Click to action” advert. “Like this”, Click here”, etc. that then takes the person clicking on my link to my website or wherever I want to take them.

 
Since the FB algorithm recently changed and only 1% of my followers on my business site will actually see my organic posts, it seems like a terrible waste of time to spend energy trying to build up a relationship in that way. My normal FB page looks more and more like a dumping place for all the junk mail that use to come through the letterbox. At least I had the choice to put a notice on my mailbox opting out from receiving junk mail but getting rid of the constant flow of adverts on FB would be a fulltime occupation.
Yesterday evening I watched the programme “Panorama” and an episode called Smartphones: The dark side. All I have sort of known about how we are manipulated to spend more and more time on our phones through the pings when someone is messaging us and the red colour on the number of messages we have, made me feel both stupid and angry. All companies crating various apps and social media platforms have people working for them who are well educated in how to control people’s minds. They know exactly which buttons to press, pardon the pun, to make us spend more and more time on various pages, – all this so that they can show a growth in their quarterly financial report and keep their sponsors happy to invest in them again.

 
One of the app developers even showed that he kept his smartphone in monochrome colours, to prevent some of the addiction the use of our smart phones creates via colours carefully chosen by developers to make our brains behave in a certain way.

 
Mark Zuckerberg, creator and CEO of Facebook, today “owns” two third of the worlds population, because that is now how many of us who have a FB account. These days he also owns Instagram and WhatsApp. He maintains that social media is good for us, because connecting with people is a good thing. Is it only me that feels like no one is connecting with anyone anymore? Not for real. IRL (in real life) has to be added these days, if we say we have been talking to someone, because most people think that “talking” mean chatting or facetime or anything but real life. The space awareness on the streets has become ridiculous. No one looks where they walk anymore, because the street isn’t where people are at, even when walking. They are in what ever world they have chosen on their phones whilst getting from point A to point B. It infuriates me, when I have to shout out “be careful”, watch out” or “excuse me” numerous times when I am walking my dog, because people are about to walk in to me or have stopped in the middle of the street to check out a bit more carefully something on their phone. And these “drones” don’t even say excuse me anymore, because they are so within their own bubble, that it doesn’t even enter their minds that being polite “in real life” still is a good option.

 
From today I will take away FB and Instagram from my phone. I only check them by habit anyway and take part in the conversation less and less. I would cancel my accounts, and it still may come to that, but the fear of getting left behind is sitting there, nagging me. Therefore, I will do the next best thing and only give myself access to these platforms when I’m on my PC.

 
I can’t help but draw parallels between “The Borg” in Star Trek and FB. “We are Borg. We will assimilate you. Resistance is futile.” While I still can, I will refuse to become a drone and a slave to the way FB and other big platforms want me to think. It may be an illusion, but I choose to evoke my right of free choice!

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Sad to waste it!

I saw a concert on TV a few days ago, where the troubled, but very talented Amy Winehouse was performing and, as always, I couldn’t help but think how much she left undone with her early departure from the world. I felt that she had wasted her life by being wasted a majority of the time.

 
The thought of Amy Winehouse’s life stayed with me during that day, but after a while I started to feel guilty for giving myself the right to judge her and say that she wasted her life. She has left so many wonderful songs behind and given so much pleasure to so many people through her music, but even though I can be allowed to feel that her life in part was tragic and that it is sad that it couldn’t have been longer; there is absolutely no way I can say that her life was wasted.

 
Having got that far in my thoughts, I decided to write a new song lyric in honour of all the bright shining stars from the creative world who have left us too soon when we look at their lives from a very human perspective.

 
I’ve called my new lyric “Sad to waste it”. I’ve used the same method again that I showed you last week, where I have written new lyrics to a well-known melody. This time I won’t tell you which song I took my inspiration from, because in fairness it doesn’t matter. The lyrics are totally independent from that song. Having said that; if you think you can figure out which melody my words are built on, feel free to guess. I promise to tell you if you get it right.

 
So, here’s my new lyrics written in honour of all the creative bright shining stars that passed away way too soon, often in sad circumstances, but who’s lives I’ve got no right what so ever to call wasted.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

Sad to waste it

 

I saw a video today,
from a great gig, back in the day.
You seemed so happy, you enjoyed the crowd.
Your youth was vibrant, made you cool and loud.
And your talent was so rare, the world just paused,
stopped to stare.
Wasn’t it sad to waste it?

 

I always wonder what went wrong?
What made you struggle to stay strong?
When did darkness start to hang around?
How did you stumble and fall to the ground?
And when life turned dark, was there
someone you could call?
Before the fall?
cause it was sad to waste it?

 

Is there a deal a soul like yours,
must sign with our Universe?
To shine brightly and touch endless lives.
To have to suffer from a thousand knives.
When you close your door, and spotlights fade away.
Who can say?
But it feels sad to waste it!

 

They found you lifeless in your bed.
You over dosed, or so they said.
You were young, your life had just begun.
Many plans, so many songs unsung.
Was there anything, that someone could have done?
Help you move on.
Stop you becoming wasted?

 

Right now, the world’s a darker place.
Where your light burned, an empty space.
At the same time, you will never die.
Through your songs there won’t be a good-bye.
So, in one way you’ve found the way forward
That we are still looking for, behind each door.
Your life, was short, not wasted.
©Åsa Sandberg 2018

 

 

Kill them with kindness

When I was a child, I was bullied. I remember thinking that when I grew up, this behaviour would stop, because grown up people know better. Hah! How wrong I was. It turns out that bullies never really change, except, maybe to get worse. A trade mark for bullies is that they want what everybody else has, but they are too thick to realise that you have to work for the things you want in life. Therefore, the typical bully, grows more and more bitter and jealous the older they get and the further they are left behind.

Due to various circumstances, I threw away fourteen years of my life and a career that was on the up within the media branch. When I finally came to my senses I was 40 years old, with no chance of picking up where I left off. Getting work on the ground floor was my only option. I spent eight years in one job, where I met a lot of other 40+ people that had been working in the same place since they left school. Some of them saw the job for what it was, a means to an end, and they had plenty going on outside this job, and did not let it wear them down. Then we had this other group. The ones that got more and more bitter for every day they spent in a job that they hated, and they obviously needed someone outside themselves to turn this bitterness against. Their favourite targets were people that hadn’t been working in this place very long and who still dared to dream.

I was one of those who dared to dream, because I believed in my own creativity. Since I love being creative in many different ways, I started to build things with a career in mind. I may have been too old and with too long a gap in my CV, to be able to get back into a well-paid job of my chosen career, but I had all the possibilities in the world to make something of myself as a self employed individual. Thanks to this belief, the soul-destroying job that paid my mortgage never broke me. What it did in the end though, was to make me a target for the bullies. It finally became my turn to get taught “to know my place”.

To begin with it was horrible. The mental bullying was both brutal and childish and sometimes it took all the courage I had to actually go in to work, knowing what was waiting. In the end I knew I needed a strategy of my own, and what I came up with was to kill my antagonists with kindness. So, I started to go into work with a broad smile on my face. I looked everybody in the eye and I always said, “Good morning.” I never let myself get pulled into any kind of gossip. I spoke politely, if spoken to, but if I was ignored I just smiled and continued with my day.

To begin with, nothing seemed to change, but with this change of attitude, I was never scared to go in to work any more. Also, I could leave my work behind when going home, instead of mulling things over in my head and losing any well needed sleep. Then slowly but surely, things started to change and two years after I had put my plan into action, I had succeeded in killing them with kindness. The bullying stopped when they realised they couldn’t break me. Twelve months later when I left the job I had both become, and stayed, “the flavour of the month” for quite some time.

The reason I am telling you this story, is that I have decided to write a song lyric called “Killing them with kindness”, because I feel it could be a good story within that line actually. I was reminded of these years last week when the one, single person with the same trade marks at my present job, was working the same shifts I was. I had to make a swift decision to start with my old method again. So, watch this space. “Killing them with kindness” will soon be done.

While going through the tough times in my old job, I did write a song lyric about bullying called “I pity you”. Fredrik Holm put my words to music. It became our only journey into the outer fringes of the rap-genre. Tine Sylvest helped us by recording the demo for us. Please have a listen if you feel like it. We all know someone like the person described in the lyrics.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

I pity you! 

Too fat or too thin, too quiet or too loud?
It isn’t very easy to fit into a crowd.
There really shouldn’t be a need to act a certain way
but bullies all around us make it hard to feel ok.

Too dim or too scared, too stupid or just mean?
There are as many reasons, as bullies to be seen.
What do you have to gain from making people feel all bad?
You strange and lonely person, forcing others to feel sad!

Chorus
To bully is a good excuse for getting nowhere fast
You’re just too scared of living life to have a real blast!
I pity you!
I pity you!
I pity you!

One day you’ll be sitting by yourself, growing old
Your days will be so empty, your nights will be as cold.
The way you lived your life will make you easy to forget
or maybe be the one we wish we never would have met.

Bridge
Why don’t you change tactics,
make someone your friend.
Turn hate into love
bring bullying to an end.

Chorus
©2013Åsa Sandberg

Change is the only constant

Throughout my writing career I’ve been very careful to confirm something by putting it in writing, if I don’t feel it is the absolute truth. I feel the written word is such a powerful energy that I only want to write what I know to be the truth. Nowadays, when writing lyrics, this has become a truth with some shades of grey, because since I have started to write for other people and follow their visions, my collaborator’s wishes becomes my first priority.

 
The other day, after having written my blog “Focus and Happiness”, one of my early lyrics popped up in my head. The lyric is called “Broken”. It is quite gruesome, even though it lifts to a more positive vibe in the last two verses. At the time when I wrote “Broken” I quite often used my own real experiences in my lyrics. I think there were many reasons for this. One was the fact that I was so used to putting only the truth down on paper, so that came with me into my lyrics. Another reason was the old familiar saying; “write what you know”; especially when starting out. A third reason was that I knew I couldn’t be the only one having lived through what I had, or who was walking around with these kinds of feelings. From all this, I thought that someone out there might feel comforted by hearing another person having had experiences reflecting their own.

 
When thinking of “Broken”, five years after writing the lyrics, I realised I couldn’t write those lyrics today. My life has moved on so much since then and the last thing I feel these days is broken. Becoming aware of this, I also realised my fear of change which had been one of my weaknesses in life, has subsided substantially. What someone scared of change does not realise is that change doesn’t have to be negative. The chance for a positive change is just as plausible since everything around us is neutral until we put our own interpretation onto the situation. I suppose I could go back to those broken feelings that feel so distant now, if someone I collaborate with would need something to paint hopelessness, but I am rather pleased that the music world rarely has the demand for sad thoughts on that level. The only reason I wish they would, is that I am sitting on the lyric “Broken” and, for once, I feel it actually deserves more than being hidden away in my personal dropbox.

 
One of my collaborators, Fredrik Holm, wrote a melody to “Broken”, which gives the song another curios angle. Fredrik’s main instrument is Bassoon, and he had never, ever heard a bassoon in any kind of popular music. He felt he wanted to rectify this in the melody of “Broken”, so he actually included a bassoon solo just before the bridge of the song.

 
This was at a time when we were first starting out writing songs, going with our instinct and feeling rules were there to be broken. A few years down the line we have learned that the right to break rules are earned by those who first learn and become good at following those same rules. If you don’t know the basics in both song writing and lyric writing and build your improvisations and “rule breaking” on those basics, very few people can understand what you are trying to say. The outcome is that the messages are too mixed up for the general public.

 
Fredrik and I made a CD, meant as a demo really, out of a dozen of our early songs. One newspaper critic was very positive and kind. It was one of those rare moments when you notice that someone really took their time to understand what we were trying to say and do. He said that all the twelve songs were like separate mini-musicals telling different life stories.

 
Our song “Broken” definitely has the drama of a musical number in it and yes, it also includes a bassoon solo.

 
If you feel like something different, have a listen. I have to admit I’ve got a soft spot for this one but I’m so grateful it doesn’t paint a correct picture of my life anymore.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

Broken 

I’ve been fighting for survival
for many, many years.
Bullies, drink and violence
have broken all my gears.

Chorus
I’m broken!
Whichever way I turn,
I’m broken
I’m asked for more than I can give.
I’m broken!
No fuel inside to burn,
I’m broken
stop the demands and let me live!
Reversing is no option;
there’s nothing there to see.
But starting on the road ahead
takes more than what’s in me.

Chorus

Bridge
Burnout is the modern way of saying; I am lost.
We’re falling by the side lines because of every must.
The hunt for something better and bigger drives us on.
Each day we join the rat race, but all the joy has gone.
I would like to stop and listen
and smell a fresh cut lawn.
Sit out by the ocean
until the break of dawn.
I know life could be better
if I had time to look,
and find myself somewhere again;
claim back what life once took.

Chorus

©2013 Åsa Sandberg

 

Focus and happiness

Today I’m going to be a little philosophical with a happy under tone. I hope my story can help someone out there. Deep down what I’m writing today, on one level, is all about lyric writing. During 2018 my quality of life has increased with a great number of knots. For a few years I’ve been running around like a headless chicken, trying to find ways to increase my income, but because everything has been forced and not left to develop at its own speed and allowed to flow naturally; the only thing that happened, is that I have become more and more stressed.

 
This year I decided to take a step back and look at my life from a distance. I asked myself, what makes me happy? The first answer was; everything creative. Narrowing it down a bit, writing obviously landed in first place, then came graphic designing and just to throw in a curve ball baking got the bronze medal. (I do run a very small, seasonal home baking business, concentrating on Nordic biscuits and cakes).

 
I then started to figure out what more I can do with my writing outside my song-lyrics, suddenly blogs felt like the obvious choice. I have dabbled in blog writing before, but never with any real focus and determination. I wasn’t even sure whether or not I would be able to give what a blog demands, when starting the two I’m now writing, but something told me it was the right thing to do.

 
Since then I’ve been regularly tapping away on my keyboard and time has absolutely flown by, so it was only the other day, I finally paused and gave myself time to take a look at how my life has changed this year so far. How surprised I was when I saw the answer!

 
My blogs have given me back a desperately needed focus in my life. They have shown me how much I really can squeeze into a day if I work efficiently and work with the things I love and that makes me happy. A part of me is sad that I didn’t realise earlier what a profound part of me writing is, but I assume I wasn’t ready. Writing is my meditation. I go into my centre and write what comes to me. I forget everything around me. The peace I’ve been looking for, for years finally lives inside me. I used to believe only financial freedom could give me that peace and I threw myself into project after project that really wasn’t for me in order to try and gain that freedom. Am I rich now? Yes! Have I fixed my economy? No, not yet. I’m still on a very tight budget. But I’m closer than I’ve ever been. Why? Because I’m doing what I love, and I have found my inner peace.

 
The interesting thing is how many positive things are happening to me, thanks to focusing on doing what I love, and gaining my new found inner peace. The calm inside me has helped me to listen. It has helped me to take in information and support, and it has opened doors I never even knew I wanted to open. I’ve finally listened and therefore got the help I needed to get my lyric writing skills up a level or two. I have taken a diploma in blogging and I’m in the middle of a course in Advanced Social Media Marketing that is going to earn me a QCF level 5 degree here in England, or in the US an Associate’s Degree. The course has four modules and to begin with I had only planned to do the basic level, just to learn more about how to promote my lyric writing through the social media channels. To my utter surprise, I found the subject incredibly interesting, to the point where I am now setting up the social media marketing side for two different companies. Who knew? I also have a diploma in graphic design. Having worked with graphics since the day the possibility was born, I decided it could be a good idea to have it in black and white that I am capable doing so.

 
My days are very full now, but nothing feels like work. Not even my “real” work as a weekend kitchen assistant at a nursing home for people with dementia feels like work, because all the lovely service users make me happy.

 
So, I suppose the summary of what I’ve tried to tell you today, is do what makes you happy. Not many people are able to live on lyric writing alone. I still have a goal to get to a place where I could, but while I am waiting; I have at least changed my life around totally by focusing on things I love doing and doing them to the best of my ability. Through the inner peace this has given me, I am finally starting to reap the rewards. I wish this is, or will be, the reality for all you readers too. And in the very near future.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

Doubts

After a few years of writing it is inevitable that the doubts will creep in. You do your absolute best and you try to get your product noticed in every way you can think of, but nothing pays off. Sometimes it is very hard not to take the rejections personally, because song-lyrics are personal.
Last Christmas, when I got the results from the UK Songwriting Contest, I took it very personally. This time, the wound wasn’t from the rejection of my entries. because no, they weren’t rejected. I had one semi-finalist and the other four just under, but I felt that what I saw as a development in my writing had neither been noticed or appreciated. Instead the results made me feel like I had gone backwards. Not a nice feeling after having really worked hard on my craft. My wounded pride bled so badly that I totally lost faith in my writing skills and stopped appreciating my finished song lyrics stored in various files.
I’m not saying this was all together a bad thing. I admit having been way to possessive about my lyrics but being me, an all or nothing person, I became very close to kicking all my old work into touch and start again or, the other option, quit totally. It was all hanging in the balance for a while.
Looking back at this time with a few months perspective and with the wounds healing, I see it as a good learning curve and something that taught me to take constructive criticism in a way that wasn’t personal. As I showed you last week, I have now even changed one of my lyrics after an evaluation I felt was fair, and I had decided to start to go through all my old lyrics with the intention of making radical changes to most of them.
Then, a couple of days ago, I received a little miracle in the form of an SMS. A person I’ve known for a year now and who’s professional opinion I both respect and trust, wrote to me to tell me to consider carefully the feedback I’m getting from people and make sure I believe in my heart that it is right before starting to make big changes in my lyrics. The SMS also said that my lyrics are impressive and that I have a unique style which is something that is sadly missing in the music industry today.
It is impossible to describe how much that SMS meant as well as the amazing timing of it. It felt like some kind of divine intervention. Yes, I have heard people close to me say similar things before, but even if I obviously respect and trust people very close to me, it is hard to really take in praise from that bunch of people. First of all, they all know me so well that they always know what I mean when writing, because they know my back story. They also have got used to my personal way of expressing myself, so it may sound ok even if it isn’t always grammatically correct. Secondly, they are somehow supposed to think that what I write is good and even if they don’t’ always think that way, they may still say so out of kindness.
To get feedback like I got in that SMS from an unexpected source, with such good timing was amazing. It gave me back my drive and belief in my writing. It made me feel that there actually is room for my kind of writing too, and one day someone is going to want to sing my words, exactly as they are or with a few tweaks.
Talking about my long-suffering friends that never tire of reading my work and always are there for support, I have to say it would be a very lonely journey without their support and feedback. I never take it for granted and I am always grateful that they take time to read my creations.

A very special friend of mine for over thirty years happened to have a big birthday the first year I was writing song-lyrics. I wanted to do something different for that birthday and asked my writing partner at the time, Fredrik Holm, if he would write the music if I wrote some lyrics to my friend for this birthday. Fredrik was happy to do so, and the result became a song called “Safe” (Ulla’s song). It is one of the first lyrics I ever wrote, and I will share it with you today. Tine Sylvest is singing.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Safe (Ulla’s song) (Semi-finalist in UKSC 2015)
I had a violent start
which broke my heart.
It made me scared and shy
and wondering why?
I believed it was me
and wanted to flee.
Kept my dreams deep inside,
and continued to hide.

Chorus
You made me believe it was fine to be me.
I’ve always wondered what it was you could see?
No judgement, just patience, a place I could grow,
rest and recover from life’s every blow.
I was safe!

Bridge
I was hurting and repeated mistakes for years on end
On the surface, my life became so hard to defend.
Many turned their back, gave up and shut their door.
You saw behind the hurt in me and stayed, just like before.
I was safe!

You gave me a voice
and I found a choice.
I’ve left my past behind
clearing my mind.
I have a long way to go
but the strength to say no.
Having you as a friend,
has helped me mend!

Chorus
© 2013 Åsa Sandberg

The core of life

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about looking forward to writing the lyrics to Peace Anthem number three out of three that I have written together with Fredrik Holm. Well, “Free at Last” is now ready, it was a lovely process writing it, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

 
I don’t know how many of you who are that familiar with Paddington Bear in general, and the latest Paddington film in particular, but in that film Mr Brown, the father of the family where Paddington lives, says something like this, “Paddington always looks for the good in people, and in some strange way, he always manages to find it.” Somehow, I must have channelled my inner “Paddington bear” while writing the peace anthem, because there were times when I thought my words were too naïve and too simple. So much so, that at one point I thought about starting again from scratch with a new theme. When trying to do that I got nothing. Not one single new idea or word came to me. The shop of creative ideas and thoughts inside me was totally closed. I believe this is because I KNEW that however naïve and simple my words appeared on paper, they were the right ones.

 
I think simplicity might have been the right way forward for my lyrics to the peace anthem, if I wanted to reach the core of what life should be about. Mankind has become too wrapped up in the “game” of life. How often do we hear that we must learn to “play the game” if we want to get somewhere in life? I don’t know how many layers out from the core of life, or levels up in the game of life, or whatever metaphor you want to use, we as a species have stepped away from this core, but what I do feel is that this “game” has got us so wrapped up in getting to this “somewhere”, that we are dangerously close to totally forgetting what life really should be about. The simple things, the joy, the beauty around us, the kindness, the giving instead of the taking etc. Maybe the best way to get heard over or through the noise of this game is to strip back the layers and use simple words in a more basic way. People have started to think of the word basic as something bad, something without the most recent upgrade and therefore something that isn’t reaching the full potential of what is out there. Out where? Where does it end?

 
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we once more, instead of looking towards what “out there” has to offer, started to look in towards the core? Maybe then, we would remember what life truly is about and see that the core of life has already given us all we need, so no upgrades are needed. Basic covers it all in abundance.

 
I hope you forgive my philosophical journey in today’s blog. Maybe my thoughts are just me trying to defend a lyric where I allowed myself to write with my inner child on the front seat, or maybe I have a point. Who knows?

 
Well, no point delaying the moment anymore. These are the lyrics of peace anthem number three, by Fredrik Holm and myself. “Free at last”. I am also sharing the file with the melody played on piano which I got from Fredrik in order to write the lyrics. Without the melody, the lyrics may seem a bit strange, since there are no rhymes to grab hold of.

 
If anyone is curious about what we are going to do with our Peace Anthems now, when the suite is complete, I can tell you that we are going to make a booklet and offer them to choirs all over the world. In my opinion, there can’t be too many ripples of peace spreading around our world today.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!

Åsa

 

Free at last
Dawn is here.
Darkness’s fading.
It’s a time of
hope and peace.

All is good and
we are free at last.
Earth’s rejoicing,
filled with harmony.

Every living soul,
hands and paws and fish and birds.
Building a home,
fit for us all.

All is good and
we are free at last.
All is good and
we are free at last.

Flowers, trees and grass,
whisper, as they move
in the wind;
thank you, thank you!

Earth’s been hurting.
Mankind closed their hearts,
when greed took over
from the path laid out for us all.

But…
All is good and
we are free at last.
Earth’s rejoicing,
filled with harmony.

Every living soul,
hands and paws and fish and birds.
Building a home,
fit for us all.

We’re free to start again!

©2018 Åsa Sandberg

https://www.dropbox.com/s/zco3ah89nr3rzoe/Peace%20anthem%203.mp3?dl=0