In February 2007, I made my first edition of the Love Mix. I put it together as a gift to female friends of mine who didn’t have boyfriends or husbands or any one to give them chocolates and flowers. I thought that by giving a CD full of songs about love, they’d dance around and feel the magic and power of curated love songs picked just for them. It was a fun project and now, seven Valentine’s Day later, I’m still making them.
The difference between the first year and this year is that the emotion behind them is not just to make these friends (now I send it to a few men as well as women) feel better, it tells the story of love. In most cases it tells the story of my love in my life. There have been years where the mixes are full on poppy and full of light and then there are years where the mixes aren’t. I try to incorporate “world music” as well as American music in every mix, and of course there is always the possibility of more somber indie music over rap and hip hop, but every once in a while a hip hop song makes its way onto the mix. In other words, every mix is crafted with care and with what I hope is a fluidity that shows how fluid and full of care love is and should be.
This year, I mixed the mix while freezing my buns off in Echizen, Japan. As I shared with my friends via email today (I shared the mix as a Spotify Playlist rather than in CD form for the first time), one of the first songs that pieced together the mix was Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough.” I’ll never forget my nightly 10 minute walk from the cafe near the center of Echizen village up the small hill to the house I was staying at, but I’ll never forget the night that song came on and I just started balling my eyes out as I connected on such a deep level to the words. That night, began the process of selecting the 20 songs that make up the hour long annual mix of love.
This year’s mix is personal. Extremely personal. It combines emotions I’ve experienced over the past six months: loss, hurt, fragility, strength, love, desire, passion, jealousy, doubt, confusion, forgiveness, persistence, craziness, stupidity, understanding, fear, and courage. Even more importantly, it shares faith. In my last posts, I talked about signs and that element during my trip to Japan. One of the greatest lessons of those signs was faith; the ability to believe no matter what. I’ve always believed in the Universe, coincidence, the power of energy, fate, and even the magic of the “Gods”, but it wasn’t until Japan that I began to understand that they were with me every step of the way, even when I felt the most lost.
The first version of this mix was in fact somber. It included songs like Sinead oConnor’s version of “Nothing Compares to You” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Adia”, but then something switched. It may have been that I only have 80 minutes on a disc, but I started hearing other songs like Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” and I remembered how in those cold nights, I too had a turning point. I went from feeling like things were never going to change, that I was going to be stuck feeling that miserable and lost, to understanding that the powers that be, the Universe, and the spirits known as my dad and grandmother were urging me to think differently, to believe in them and that things do and will turn around.
I’ve said before that I don’t expect people to believe my experience. I do believe that people need to have their own experience to understand such a spiritual enlightenment, even though it is trendy to read and believe experiences like this. I mean, honestly, how many times did people tell me before I left, “Oh, you’re off to have your own “Eat, Pray, Love” journey. Part of me was bothered by this because Ms. Gilbert’s experience was much different than my experience, even if we both learned to believe in the end.
With that belief, I put together a mix that ranges in all emotions, but in the end asks to have faith. Not necessarily a religious faith, but a faith in yourself, in the power of love, and in the power of other people, no matter what happens. A tall order, yes, but one that can be done.
I share all of this because I’ve read a few articles today about taking back Valentine’s Day and turning it into Generosity Day, or as Anne Lamott put it, “Occupy Valentine’s Day” and I agree, even though I’m in the industry that wants you to share love and spread love and spend money via cards, chocolates, and other notions of ridiculous. As I told one friend today, I’d like to believe that seven years ago when I started making these mixes, I started the movement for Generosity Day, or “Occupy Valentine’s Day” when I was making mixes to share with single females so they knew that no matter what, they were loved and thought about and remembered on what could be, and I’m sure is, for many a day of despair and loneliness.
With that said, if you’re interested in hearing the 2013 Love Mix and wanting to be part of it, you can hear it on Spotify. If you have any thoughts, or songs that I should consider for the future, please share them in the comments. I’m always looking for a good love tune! More importantly though, if you do give a listen, I hope you feel inspired by love, regardless of the emotions. Love is fabulous and freeing and amazing. I hope you also feel the love I’m sharing through the openness of this experience. I don’t want your thoughts on my issues, I just want you to feel whatever you feel and maybe be inspired.
Oh, and before I forget, let me share the quote that gives the feel the this year’s Mix, it’s a favorite of mine from Paulo Coelho’s book, “The Alchemist”:
“If what one finds is made of pure matter,
it will never spoil.
And one can always come back.
If what you had found was only a moment of light,
like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing
on your return.”
Happy Valentine’s Day Eve!