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I really had to think long and hard about songs I would consider to be favorites. Especially since my favorite songs change with my life seasons. There have been many favorites through the years, but narrowing it down to three was difficult. With that in mind, I have three current favorites that really speak to me, motivate me and transport me to a particular time and place.

Three years ago I took up running. I had developed a playlist of music to help me through my workout. In the beginning I ran in intervals, a combination of walking and running. Since I was still building my endurance for distance running, I needed music to motivate me to push through those intervals. I chose an inspiration Gospel song, I’m Runnin’ by Mary Mary. I still see myself nearing the end of those 3 mile runs wanting to quit because I was so fatigued. Fortunately, I had timed my playlist to have that song kick in right before my last big push. I set my eyes on the finish line (home) and ran – hard. Sweat running down my face and neck, the wind colliding with my face. I felt like a champion. My timing was so keen that right when the song ended, I was home. that was three years ago.

Now, one running injury and one shoulder surgery later, I don’t run as vigorously as I did then. My pace is much slower. I can still run a minimum of three uninterrupted miles, but my playlist changed. I adapted it to fit my new style of running. I added another inspirational Gospel song to my playlist – My Redeemer Lives.

Leave it to Face Book to introduce this song into my life. A friend of mine posted a video of a man competing in a triathlon with his disabled sonMy Redeemer Lives was the music set to the video clip. My Husband snickered when he entered our room to find me standing over our bed, holding my mouth, watching my phone, with a very wet face. My speech was slurred as I tried to explain why I was crying. I was so moved by this father and son’s determination, I immediately downloaded the song and added it to my playlist. To date, this is the final song before my cool down whenever I run. This is the song that motivates me to face difficult challenges. It reminds me that I’m the only excuse standing in my way of achieving my goals.

Finally, the last song has stood the test of time – Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson. I loved this song from the time it was first released. I was in the sixth grade. I remember performing this song in a sixth grade class program. There was no significant happening in my life at that time for this song to have stood out over the years. It was merely “my jam” for a while. It wasn’t until about six years ago, while working a job in a small town, that Man in the Mirror became my mantra. I had experienced a severe case of culture shock, working in a small town that was not entirely accepting of someone like me. After an awful first year of proving myself worthy I had naturally built up a defensive wall, and rightfully so. Almost everything I had said or did was misinterpreted or misconstrued simply because so many of the people around me were unwilling to accept my cultural differences. I had become completely withdrawn, which was completely against my nature. I didn’t recognize myself anymore.

After a ton of prayer and venting to family and friends, I began to analyze my situation and myself from the outside-in and decided I needed to take a different approach. But what? How? One day after getting dressed and driving to work, I pulled into a parking space, stared at the building, picked up my cell phone, and called in sick. I just couldn’t stomach that place a day longer. It was dreadful. I restarted my car to drive back home. On the way home Man in the Mirror came on the radio. Thinking this would be a great pick-me-up, I cranked it up (but not too loud in that town) and let the song carry me the rest of the way home. By the time I had reached my driveway (I didn’t live far from work back then) something magical happened. I ran inside, dug through my old CDs and found it, Man in the Mirror. In that brief drive home I decided to reflect on myself. I needed to change (some things) about me. I realized I was guilty of some of the very same things I was accusing many of these small town inhabitants of. Just as they were unwilling to accept my differences, I realized I wasn’t as willing to accept theirs either. It was time to bring down my wall.

From that day forth, I listened to Man in the Mirror on my way to work every day. And every day, my heart softened. Eventually, my wall did come down and I learned a different way of self-expression that would only be “misinterpreted” by those choosing not to accept me out of ignorance. There were only a few, and fortunately many of those weren’t colleagues but clients.

The rest of the time spent there was much better. Man in the Mirror helped me see that although we are not always wrong in a situation, there are some things about ourselves that can stand to be improved. We just have to take a look at ourselves in order to make a difference. So, after a little self-reflection, I was able to “make that change”. As a result, I gained new, life-long friends, and a new me that wasn’t necessarily all that bad. Change is difficult, at times very scary, but is necessary for growth, development, and sometimes healing.

While I have a diversified collection of music, these are the songs that come to mind as favorites in my life.

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