Tag Archives: mental health

Songs to Ease Your Mind

With the way of the world currently it feels important to state this message very clearly: Protect Trans Kids.
Art by: Tray Taylor
IG:: @allusiontoreality

There never seems to be enough time. 

I think that is something we have all felt before or something that we constantly feel. All in all, it may be easy to agree that even in a world where we were given “more time” at home …it still never feels like enough. 

In a year (more like well over a year) of added stress due to a global pandemic and a metaphorical world on fire around us… we should all just keep acting accordingly…right? 

No, no absolutely not. 

We all need space and time to breathe….AND be forgiving to ourselves & the people around us. 

I’ve tried to set a routine for myself a countless amount of times during this past year. Nothing has truly stuck. A few things I always find myself falling back on for centering though are meditation (shout out to the app Insight) and music. 

Here’s a list of songs to soothe your soul & mind: 

Time in a Bottle – Jim Croce

Have I mentioned how much I adore Jim Croce? I’m pretty sure I have, but I can’t gush about this man enough. His music is my favorite to listen to on vinyl. This song particularly gets me lost in his voice…wait wait, who am I kidding? Almost every song he sings I get lost in that gorgeously comforting soft as silk voice of his. In fact when I was trying to think of songs that made me feel calm or centered, I found myself humming this song instantly. Oh the magical power of a Jim Croce song…

Still Sound (instrumental) – Toro y Moi

Full disclosure, my introduction to Toro y Moi was the instrumental album. Which I quickly realized was actually just a re-release of the original lyrical album that was dropped a decade ago entitled The Difference. I stumbled upon Toro y Moi when I was looking for music that was going to soothe the anxiety I was feeling and somehow in my rabbit hole for searching for that perfect album….The Difference instrumental version was what I found. I fully intend to go back and listen to the lyrical version of the album, I just wanted the experience of listening to the instrumental first. For me, I was instantly blown away and of course Toro y Moi has been around for awhile – so I am a bit behind the times. If you are a fan and haven’t listened to the instrumental version of the album, I highly recommend checking it out in its entirety. This was a favorite, but it was pretty hard to pick just one track. 

You Were Meant for Me – Jewel

I once worked with a guy that loved Jewel…other fun facts about him: he also loved dinosaurs and had a vintage motorcycle. Part of me never really understood his deep appreciation for her music, but I think how much he would talk about it randomly every day made me understand the beauty in her songs a bit more. That friend of mine recently passed away a year or so back and I hadn’t spoken to him since we had worked together. Jewel’s songs have a calming spirit to them, but they not have an added meaning for me. In the chaos of life, when a Jewel song comes on – I get to think of my friend and I think that is part of the many facets of beauty that music holds. 

Simple as This – Jake Bugg 

I forget how much I love this song, until I rediscover it buried in one of my many playlists I have created. This is a song that is simply (no jokes intended there) joyful. Part of it is the sound of it makes it seem as if it is from the 60s or 70s when it actually was released in 2012. A real comforting tune for an old soul like myself. 

Place to Be – Nick Drake

Nick Drake for me has a voice that defies odds …because it is seemingly raspy yet soft all at the same time….which is truthfully an exquisite combination. Anyway, Nick is another artist I often find myself reverting back to when I just need to get work done or to calm my spirit. Place to Be is a favorite of mine because it is a song I can put on and get lost within without even realizing until the song has ended. I say all of that, because that is exactly what just happened when I had it playing.

California – Joni Mitchell

Something about this song that no matter the weather outside or the mood I am in – I am instantly elevated for three minutes and fifty seconds. Joni has a way of transporting the listener to a dream-like-state with this song. There is a powerful pull within the lyrics of the song and Joni’s captivating voice that can make a person believe there is sun on the horizon and everything will be okay in the end. Sure a cynic would say that it is just a song about California, but I’ve never been a fan of cynicism. 

Maybe these songs pulled you in and excited you enough to add them to a playlist. Maybe they encouraged you to revisit music that grounds you and makes you feel centered. 

In a world full of chaos, I wish you all to find whatever outlet will bring you comfort.

Sunshine? I Don’t Know Her

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I think I ignore the fact that SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a thing because I deal with depression year around. So, when the sun comes out I experience this extra burst of energy and renewed sense of self – without acknowledging it’s probably because spring is right around the corner. Also I have a love/hate affection for winter, so I don’t like to believe the season brings me as deep down into hibernation as it actually does – I can’t be alone in that, right?

Enough about the sadness of the seasons…

I’ve gone from binge watching every true crime, thriller, and mystery show I could find to watching every mystery dubbed in english on Netflix (I know, I know, I am the worst…but my brain won’t let me concentrate on captions for more than 15 minutes…even though yes I still have the captions on at all times…)

My creativity has been at a stand-still and it has been a mood killer for me personally. Writing makes me feel at home – particularly when I feel a connection with the words I am writing. So, I’ve been trying to find ways to pull that out of me. I went in a deep dive of trying to find music over the past week and the few songs I discovered I’ve had on repeat lately. 

Music that can center and ground me I find to be powerfully beautiful. 

Here are a few of the songs I’ve had on repeat over the past week: 

1. Silk Jam – Louis Futon

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this song, but I am glad that I did. If I had to assign a sunny day a theme song it would be Silk Jam. There’s something about a song from a genre that I don’t normally listen to that makes it THAT much better when it wins me over. That’s this song for me.

2.Borderline – Tame Impala

Tame Impala was introduced to me awhile ago, but I hadn’t listened to any of their stuff in a long time. If you’re a fan of Broken Bells or Yeasayer – this will be music for you. This song is catchy, upbeat, and has a way of magically uplifting my mood. Music can either be a distraction for me, or help me focus – this song has me awkwardly bopping my head while getting the writing I’ve been procrastinating accomplished.

3.Butterfly – UMI 

This is what I declare as a sad bop – the kind of music I am not usually into. A song that’s slow, smooth, and also has a groove that makes it a bop. But like. How beautiful is this song? Every time I listen to Butterfly by UMI it calms my soul.

4.On a Wave – Zilo (explicit)

Play this track….go ahead….press play ….were you instantly transported inside a car, with the windows rolled down, on a warm sunny day with no worries? I imagine in my own mind that this is where this song transports me. The days when I used to have a car – before I moved to the city and would drive around aimlessly listening to music on full blast. Anyway – this song will lift your spirits, trust me.

5.Mine – Alex Isley, Jack Dine 

Another sad bop that I highly recommend – her voice is elegant and entrancing. Even if you don’t appreciate the genre, you have to appreciate how absolutely beautiful her voice is. There’s a delicate calming sense to this song, that helps me find my center.

6. I Hear The Day Has Come – Matt Maltese

I recently started watching the Netflix series Elite (yes that is one of the shows that was dubbed in english that I mentioned at the top). What does the show Elite have to do with this song? Well..I kept hearing it over and over throughout the episodes – finally by the season finale I needed to know what the song was. It had won me over after hearing it repeatedly. Times like these I am grateful for Google and the ability to discover a song just by knowing a piece of the lyric. I think his voice reminds me of a Nick Drake song – maybe I am way off base… it just pulls me in and feels as though his voice is singing a very sad poem, and yet, at the same time there’s bits of hope.

7.Green Eyes – Arlo Parks

Someone posted a Tik Tok on Instagram of a person recommending artists that people should be listening to – Arlo Park was highly recommended by this user. I’m the kind of person that will give any song or artist a listen – because there’s a chance I could fall in love with the music…or there’s a chance I’ll never listen to it again. Collapsed in Sunbeams is Arlo Park’s latest album and WOW …like WOW – the entire album is a true work of art. If you need music to relax to, get work done to, create art to – go put on Collapsed in Sunbeams.

8.Hex – Ark Patrol

This was another accidental discovery out of my usual music library and it’s been a nice ear candy break from all of the slow jams I’ve had on repeat. I had a couple of hours to paint over the weekend and this song came on it felt like it unlocked a piece of my creative mind that has been stunted lately. What gets me about the song is the rhythm and how it fills my body with anticipation for days filled with sunshine that are just on the horizon.

These songs have allowed me to fully connect with myself – when more often than not I have been feeling disconnected. I think since we’re coming to almost a year into when lockdown began I am feeling the feelings of disconnection intensely

I long for the days that the future will bring, but in forcing myself to be in the present – I am seeking the kind of music that has the power these tracks had on me. 

Only art can save us from madness.

Time to Reset

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I’ve taken a clear pause on posting any writings. My creativity came to a screeching halt over the past few weeks, hard. 

For some days I was in a dark place, and I am grateful for those around me that helped to pull me out. I haven’t been in a space like that in a few years – which to me, was a wake up call. 

I’m planning on being intentional this week and in the coming weeks in setting my journey for the future – what are YOU doing intentionally for yourself?

We’ve also had a bit of a reset in the United States recently, gratefully. Although the hard truth is the majority of white people still voted for a man that stands for hate in all forms. Which means, I and other white people, still have a lot to do in terms of listening, and taking action. 

My partner and I had this song on repeat yesterday (I’m So Excited by The Pointer Sisters) – it brought us joy, and I hope it brings you joy as well.

Turn Up The Volume

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I tried my best to keep to writing two to three times a week, but life has a funny way of ruining that routine. My goal is to continue on with posting as many times as originally planned, and not allow certain things to get in the way of what makes me happy. Which is writing.

The way things have been going recently, I thought it was best to share another music post. Lately, music and true crime podcasts have been my short head-phone getaway from reality.

So, here a few songs I’d like to share with ya’ll

1. I Remember Her – Ingrid Michaelson

The first time I listened to this song was after my Mom-Mom passed in 2016. She was my rock. I drove down from Philly to visit her and slept overnight in the hospital two nights in a row because I didn’t want her to be alone. When times are tough, I long to be able to give her a call. Since I can’t, I turn to music that reminds me of her to give me a sense of comfort. Songs that comfort us, and remind us of loved ones that are no longer here are so important.

2. Cruel to be Kind – Letters to Cleo

Oh my love for 10 Things I Hate About You – I love the movie and I love the soundtrack. Whenever I hear this song I find it nearly impossible to be in a bad mood. The lines from this movie are timeless. Tell me, can you ever just be…whelmed?

3. Turn Your Lights Down Low – Ms. Lauryn Hill feat. Bob Marley

This song is exquisite AND beautiful. Their two voices balance each other so well even if it is digitally done. If this song was a scene in nature it would be a field of colorful wild flowers set against a vibrant lilac tangerine sky. I needed to listen to this song a few times on repeat to mellow myself out over the past month.

4. Glenn Miller Medley – Judy Garland and Martha Raye

Most people don’t know, but I am a huge Glenn Miller fan. I also have a bit of a soft spot for the classic Gay Icon, Judy Garland. Combining the two just brings me flutters of Gay bliss. If you didn’t know this song existed, and you’re a fan of either – I highly recommend it.

5. Sunshine – Johnathan Edwards

The first time I heard this song I was living in Philly and it was right after I pulled myself out of deep dark rock bottom. I would listen to it frequently just to pep myself up and remind myself there is a bright future ahead. If this doesn’t do that for you, did this remind you of a song that does? Go seek that song out and listen – now.

6. My Chemical Romance

Full disclosure, I thought I was too cool to listen to or like My Chemical Romance when they first came out (I know, lame). However, fun fact – my Dad was and still is a huge MCR fan. It is because of him that I know their albums from start to finish after the many times of riding around with him and their music would be ALWAYS be on in his car. For some reason, I have been playing their songs on full volume lately and it has been centering me more than anything else has been able to. The truth is, I’m not okay (pun may or may not be intended).

7. Effect and Cause – The White Stripes

I hated the White Stripes until a college boyfriend (yes, this was before I came out…. and just a note that relationship taught me a lot about myself. He is a great guy and I will forever be grateful for the bond we did have.) broke down for me the raw talent of both Jack and Meg. I will say it took weeks of convincing though. This is the one song that still sticks with me because of the line, “you can’t take the effect and make it the cause, I didn’t rob a bank because you made up the law.”

8. Got ‘Til It’s Gone – Janet Jackson (Q-Tip, Joni Mitchell)

When I saw Janet perform this (honestly her whole set was flawless) in Vegas over a year ago, my mind was blown. She is a performer in all sense of the word. This song is a true bop and what we all need now is a good song to bop to.

9. It’s a Beautiful Life – Ace of Base

Back in my younger days, like three years old, “I Saw the Sign” was my absolute favorite song. There is video footage to prove this, somewhere. For me now, I love listening to Ace of Base for nostalgia sake but this song I am sharing particular because it takes me back to a time of innocence and bliss.

10. It’s Not Right But It’s Okay – Whitney Houston remix

Oh Philly Gayborhood days, how I miss you so much. I miss my chosen family there, I miss the environment, I miss all the gays roaming the streets, and I just miss the feeling of blindly belonging to a community. This song represents so many good memories, with some pretty spectacular folks that I miss dearly. So, yep, my next question is…. what song reminds you of great friends and times that you still cherish the memories of?

Please share your stories in the comments, I would love to hear what songs/memories may have popped up in your head after reading this post.

Is This Thing On?

“You Matter, I Promise”
By Tray Taylor
IG @allusiontoreality

This past month has been excruciatingly hard for a number of reasons. I’ve been getting by this year at a “meh” pace – but these past few weeks I have felt on the edge of crumbling.

And today, well, I almost felt as if I was drowning.

Side note: I’ve struggled with depression the majority of my life and as the years go on anxiety is finding its way into my life too. Not to mention the herniated discs/on-going back issues I’ve had since 23 (when I said I was an old soul, I wasn’t expecting my body to follow suit).

Anyway – it has been a bumpy journey and it has felt like the cycle just won’t stop. And I know I am not alone in any of this, which is why I felt compelled to write this post.

This afternoon I reached a breaking point and I knew I needed to do something.

So, I went outside to clear my head and get some fresh air. For a brief moment I stood beneath my favorite tree just across the street from my apartment that turns beaming bright orange this time of year.

My moment of re-centering

I have felt defeated, voiceless, uncertain, and heavy lately- but in that moment I felt at peace.

After that brief moment of joy – I continued on my walk, turned my headphones up, went back to overthinking just about everything, and strolled to the store to pick up some wine.

So, I lend this moment to you. To everyone who has felt a bit scattered, alone, or just not themselves lately.

Allow yourself a moment to feel and re-center. Whatever that may look like.

(And I’d like to share with ya’ll the song that always seems to soothe my soul in moments such as these … *Joni Mitchell – River*)