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January 4, 2017

Find out What Makes Your Heart Sing.

As we age, we complicate everything.

We second guess. Our inner voice gets loud (and sometimes mean). We trust our intuition less, and we forget what the song of our heart sounds like. We lose our childlike ability to say yes to moving, or to making new friends without overthinking it.

Getting bogged down in the details and our perceived realities becomes the order of the day.

Four months ago I was stuck.

I had just turned 30, work was stressful, money was stressful, I was lonelier than I was prepared to admit. I was displeased with not having been able to measure up to where society wanted me to be. Where I wanted me to be.

I recognized this feeling like a familiar, but unwelcome house guest. I had been here three years ago, too.

I knew I had to do something. Shake myself loose of the feeling of unworthiness. Give my existence some pep in its step.

Here’s the one question that gave me just the pull I needed (but never expected):

I asked myself: “What’s something you’d love to be doing that isn’t currently present in your life?”

My mind’s eye gazed backward.

I see a little girl at the front of the stage singing her first solo in the best/worst 80s floral dress you could imagine. I can still remember the warmth in my music teacher’s eyes as I stood at the mic. I loved her so much that I didn’t even care that they called me the teacher’s pet. That day, I was shaking from the inside out—so much so that I thought I might vibrate myself right off the stage.

When my heart pulled at the thought of this memory, I knew I had to listen. I had a distinct sense that this desire to follow it may have had an expiration date. My heart had a certain cadence when it spoke and when I brushed it away, my desire wilted under the weight of the more responsible choice.

Singing. It had to be music. I had to be around others who felt this too. Plugged in.

It was as if the little girl in the floral dress had walked right back out to centre stage. Immediately, I googled “Halifax choirs” and there they were: (the incredibly aptly named) “You Gotta Sing Chorus.”

I showed up alone to my first practice. I later identified the feeling in my stomach as the same one that threatened to send me flying off the stage as a child. The one I had first interpreted as fear, that transformed into sheer joy.

The bonds and connections I’ve discovered through this circle of song have been life-altering. I look forward to Tuesday nights for the camaraderie, the safety, and (oddly) the smell of new song sheets.

There’s an electricity in this space for me that I don’t find anywhere else.

There’s something almost magical about breathing together. About many pieces weaving together to create something beautiful. Four sections in harmony, layering and building, united in joy and togetherness.

“I need warm friends. Connection. Community…Sanctuary: a place to go when it gets cold.” ~ Laurence Cole

These words come from one of my favourite songs our choir has ever sung. It remains a high on my list not just because it is a joyful earworm, but because it speaks to something we all desire.

Connection, community. Something that resonates through all our levels, and leaves us feeling better than we began.

I revel in the sense of awe that washes over me when I consider the ways in which we’re all connected. I imagine that each person has their own “life loom” on which they are creating their tapestry. It comforts me to know that we connect the way we’re supposed to. That our strings intertwine exactly the way that life, God, or the universe, intended.

In life, as in art, many lines cross, knot, and parallel. In these workings we can see undeniable moments of “meant to be,” and sometimes, we get a chance to see it happening before us.

When my heart whispered “yes,” I felt a pull. Something magnetic, calling me to a home I’d not yet known. In this way, my heart knew before I did. 

When we feel these pulls of our heart, we should listen.

Sometimes it makes perfect sense, and other times it comes completely out of left field. In my experience, most of the time it falls somewhere in between.

That’s the sweet spot.

Community choir, and understanding my intuition, have allowed me to feel more whole. More connected. Choir is an undeniable force for good, not only in my world, but the world around us.

Music has healed me, strengthened me, and changed me for the better.

Going back to our joy is one of the most beneficial things we can do when we’re feeling stuck. I did, and I’m grateful for it—at least every Wednesday.

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Author: Jen Schwartz

Image: Author’s Own

Editors: Travis May

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Jen Schwartz

Jen Schwartz is a joy seeker/sharer living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Made mostly of heart, she is a believer in the power of gratitude and lover of the (extra)ordinary. Jen is in training to be a community choir/song leader and is particularly passionate about people, connection, words, and song—and how those things can change the world when combined.  A former staff member at Elephant Journal, you’ll often find Jen correcting grammar in things publicly displayed, thanking the sun for shining, or pointing out lyric references in everyday conversation. Connect with Jen on Facebook or her website.