Category Archives: Music

Dear Evan Hansen: Top-Rated Musical Depicts Teen Loneliness in a New Light

Dear Evan Hansen:

Today is going to be a good day…

Dear Evan Hansen shirt

Um, no. I’m afraid it wasn’t a good day for Evan.

Have you seen this musical that won 6 Tony Awards and myriad other honours? We recently had friends in from out of town so my partner, newly teen daughter and I saw it in Toronto with our adult friend and her ‘tween daughter.

The play depicts a lonely teenage outcast named Evan who is trying desperately to overcome obstacles in his life, make friends, get through high school and bond with his working single mother. One innocent misunderstanding turns into a labyrinth of lies and deceits.  

While the performance received a standing ovation and our friends (and seemingly the rest of the 1,200 person audience) seemed to love the play, I had mixed feelings.

The Good:

  • The set is amazing. The use of long transparent screens to highlight social media feeds and videos shown throughout the play is very clever. It’s a striking and fresh production.
  • The performers themselves are engaging. We saw the “alternate” Evan but he seemed perfect for the role. It’s a small cast and most of the actors were excellent and had beautiful voices. I was fond of some of them more than others but overall very professional.
  • The topic is timely. Dear Evan Hansen depicts themes of loneliness, heartbreak, family break-up, bullying, suicide, relationships, and social media madness in a clear, non-cliche manner. I wish my older teen had seen it with us but he was out of town.
  • It was cool seeing the show band in the background and their musicality is stellar.

 

Dear Evan Hansen set

The opening set of Dear Evan Hansen

The Not-So-Good:

  • I didn’t love the actual songs. Usually when I see a musical we’re humming the songs on the way home, dying to buy (or download) the soundtrack. Certain songs are indeed thought-provoking and unique but only one or two really stuck with us. Alternatively, I saw A Star is Born a few months ago and still sing many of those songs in my head and purchased the official soundtrack which is excellent.
  • The performance itself is very long. The Royal Alexandra is a gorgeous theatre in downtown Toronto built in 1907 but the seats are quite close to one another and I started to get antsy towards the end of the first act.

Overall, I am always happy to see live theatre or concerts and am almost never disappointed to have the opportunity – even if it’s not 100% fantastic. If you are interested in seeing modern life from a lonely teen’s perspective, definitely give Dear Evan Hansen a go.

Have you seen the play? Did it resonate with you or your children/teens? What did you think of the content? Feel free to comment below.

Note: This post contains an affiliate link which means I may receive a small commission should you click on the link and purchase the product.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Om

Managing the Storm

Managing the Storm

She sat dead centre in the storm.

Make it all right she said.

I already did. You’re here now.

The calm was like nothing she’d felt before.

It sat in her heart.

Her soul was full. Calmness.  A new sensation.

Angels drew closer.

She could hear their hearts beating.

Sweet for Sia

Photo captured from Sia Official Fan Bridge web site

Photo captured from Sia Official Fan Bridge web site

I’m a huge music fan. In fact I just don’t understand when people (very few I  will admit), tell me: “I don’t really like music”.

To me, music is the key to happiness, productivity and inspiration.

Studies show that music can:

  • uplift mood
  • inspire creativity
  • cause relaxation, and
  • lower stress levels

These days, my favourite is  Australian singer/songwriter Sia. Modern, creative, artsy, animal-loving Sia doesn’t show her face on camera or while singing live but has climbed the charts as one of today’s most popular artists.

Her latest single is Elastic Heart. Although I had heard the song on the radio, it was my son who alerted me to the insanely watchable and incredibly weird music video. If you love eccentricity, wild innovation and catchy lyrics, I encourage you to check it out.

You’re Getting Sleepy

sunsetThis post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase any of the items listed, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.

Earlier today, I posted a status update on Facebook about feeling like “a zombie in the sunshine” after experiencing a terrible night’s sleep. (Full disclosure: I was sleeping with my daughter who was tossing and turning though really I’m not a great sleeper at the best of times.)

As we all know, sleep can be a challenge for adults and children alike. According to the Better Sleep Council, toddlers, children and teens need a minimum of 10 hours of sleep to stay healthy, babies need 16 and adults require 8. Lack of sleep can cause disturbances in mood, behaviour, learning ability, friendships, processing, relationships and work.

My status update received about a dozen replies and lots of advice. Suggestions included everything from taking magnesium (which I do) to using essential oils (wild orange on the big toes – who knew?!) to listening to relaxing, sleep-inducing music.

I’m a big fan of essential oils. We’ve used them in the diffuser; mixed with coconut oil for stomach aches, headaches and cramps; and I even ingested a tiny dollop of oregano oil when I had a cold. (It worked but it was one of the worst tastes I’ve ever experienced.)

For years, I (and sometimes my children) have used a white noise machine to block out extraneous noises and mimic sounds from the womb. It works like a charm, especially for those who are light sleepers.

Still, no matter what tips and tricks make for decent slumber, I’d love to have consistently good restful sleep. It makes life so much easier.

What’s your experience with sleep? Are you and your kids naturally good sleepers? If not, what’s your best tip? Please share. I’d be ever so grateful.

Maybe It’s the Music

Take the edge off with some tunes.

Take the edge off with some tunes.

Mornings can be rough in our home. Nine times out of ten someone’s had a crappy sleep or is having a grouchy morning. If we get out to school/work on time, it’s a very good day.

My personal issue is that no matter how many times I tell myself, “Be patient” (through closed eyes and clenched teeth), I often end up yelling, cajoling, or making threats — No video games after school! No dessert after dinner! — in order to get the crew moving. That’s not fun for any of us.

However, the other day, I put a few videos on YouTube while the kids were doing last minute school prep. Before everyone got too stressed out, the mood lightened as we listed to Trouble by Taylor Swift and Dynamite by Taio Cruz. Heads bobbed, lyrics were sung… it was a very relaxing and fun way to head out the door.

Anything I can do to avoid the crazy half-dressed-where-are-my-socks-I-can’t-open-the-toothpaste-cap type of morning is absolutely worth it. And, if music is added to the mix? Even better.

Who Are You? Creativity Springs from Despair

Rock Star Status. Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This past weekend I watched a fascinating interview with The Who’s Pete Townshend on the CBS television show Sunday Morning.

Much of it focused on Townshend’s love/hate relationship with his “rock star” status but a chunk of the interview was dedicated to his rocky childhood.

At the age of 6, Townshend’s parents sent him to live with his grandmother who was mentally ill.

The boy suffered tremendously; here’s an excerpt from the interview:

“That probably more than anything, probably far more than whether or not my grandmother tried to drown me or made my life miserable or denied me sleep or food or whatever it was that she did, whether or not any of her weird boyfriends abused me in the middle of the night, that stuff I think I could understand,” Townshend said. “What I can’t understand is why that feeling of being abandoned is so huge and so difficult to get past.”

Townshend believes that much of his intensely creative musical compositions stem from that dark period of life. The synergy between melancholy and creativity is nothing new; I’ve also blogged about this connection. It’s an arena I find deeply intriguing.

I wonder: Do all great artists/writers/singers/actors/composers come from a place of pain and despair or can you live a life of happiness and peace and still be a creative genius?

Novel Idea: How Books Spur Imagination

Got books?

This post doesn’t have a lot to do with kids or mental health except that I’m thrilled to be sharing my love of books, writing and reading with my children. I hope that they grow to cherish books and magazines and the art of the written word as much as I do.

So much can be gained from reading and thinking about books. Bored? Read the latest best seller or a long lost classic. Lonely? Off to the book store to fondle the gorgeous paper backs, hard covers and glossy magazines. Feeling blue? Write a short story about it.

I’m in two book clubs. Both of the clubs tend to focus on literary fiction. Today I participated in one book club’s meeting. The novel of choice was Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant. I didn’t have an opportunity to finish the book but I can say it defies quirkiness and creativity. If you like word play and, um, tortoises, give it a read.

It’s my turn to chose the next selection for book club # 2. I’ve chosen The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Originally, I thought the book version stemmed from a long-standing blog but, I don’t see anything confirming this idea on Rubin’s web site. If you go to Rubin’s site, check out the Foreign Cover Gallery under About the Book – very cool.  I can’t wait to get my hands on The Happiness Project and, ideally, get happier as a result. Bring it.

Baby You’re A Firework: Creativity and Mental Illness

Oooohhhh!

I was trying to think of a way to mesh a blog post about fireworks together with the topic of famous people living with mental illness. You see,  it’s Victoria Day here in Canada and many people celebrate by setting off fireworks during the long weekend.

So, how’s this for a connection? Apparently Russell Brand lives with bipolar disorder (formally called manic depression). Brand is married to Katy Perry who sings the extremely catchy tune, “Firework.”  A creative segue is now made.

Apparently, Robert Munsch (author), Linda Hamilton (actress) and Edvard Munch (painter) also have/had bipolar disorder or depression.There’s also a huge number of well-known people who are said to be affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, too. Here’s a short list: Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Bill Cosby, Avril Lavigne, Magic Johnson, and Paris Hilton.

It makes sense of course: There’s a long standing connection between mental illness, intelligence and creativity.  Some say that one must suffer for one’s art.

What do you think? Do you think that all brilliant artists “suffer” from some form of mental illness? Do you feel that passion is born from pain?

Everybody Hurts: Music and Mental Health

It’s getting more challenging to post every day as part of the WordCount 2011 Blogathon (where we must blog every day in May) but I’m still committed to doing it even if it means including short posts every few days.

Today features one of those short posts…

One of millions

There are substantial references to mental health issues (depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, bullying, etc.) within popular music. A facet of this may be the connection between creativity + emotional highs and lows.

“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. is told from the point of view of someone comforting a friend who is suicidal. Here are the lyrics:

(Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe)

When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone,
When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life, well hang on
Don’t let yourself go, ’cause everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes

Sometimes everything is wrong. Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone, (hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go, (hold on)
When you think you’ve had too much of this life, well hang on

‘Cause everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts. Don’t throw your hand. Oh, no. Don’t throw your hand
If you feel like you’re alone, no, no, no, you are not alone

If you’re on your own in this life, the days and nights are long,
When you think you’ve had too much of this life to hang on

Well, everybody hurts sometimes,
Everybody cries. And everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes. So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on
Everybody hurts. You are not alone.

This is one of my favourite songs; R.E.M is able to capture all that is mystical and soulful. What do these lyrics mean to you? What songs can you think of that touch on aspects of mental health?

I’m Coming Home… Welcome

No, this isn’t a blog about that fabulous song by Diddy though I do love  the tune. However, it is a “coming home” of sorts. The focus of this blog is – yup, you got it – children and mental health. Mental health is a subject that’s intrigued me for so long and, with the onset of blogging, I’m provided the opportunity to explore the subject in more detail and share ideas.

So, welcome one and all. Grab a coffee and pull up a chair. There’s more about me and my professional writing background on the About page. But, what will this blog focus on specifically? The plan is to home in on a wide range of mental health issues pertinent to professionals, children and families, including:

  • depression
  • ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • autism
  • anxiety
  • self-esteem
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder

Beyond common mental health issues and what’s new in this field, I plan address subjects in an off-beat way; perhaps look at the connections between mental health and music or children and poetry and philosophy. -So, it’s not just the science behind the diagnosis but exploring the many facets that make up who we are and why we are the way we are.

Once again, welcome. I hope the coffee was tasty and the text satisfying.What are your thoughts and ideas on the subject of kids and mental health? I’ve got reams of ideas but am open to hearing about yours, too.

All's fair in love and sand