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6 Songs That Helped Me Through Losing My Legs

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In every culture, music has the power to connect people in spite of their differences. Music encourages the spirit, stimulates the imagination and inspires emotions of all sorts. My life has been enriched by music, and I couldn’t imagine living without it. Over the past few months in Cape Town, South Africa, following my amputation, I’ve been accompanied by music through the rain and cold while I make a new life with wheels, instead of legs. These are a few of the songs that gave me strength and joy and motivation.

1. “Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding

This has to be one of the most hope-inspiring songs I’ve ever heard. When the chorus bursts out, like sunshine through the clouds, you really can believe the future is bright with endless possibilities.

Favorite lyrics:

After the war we said we’d fight together
I guess we thought that’s just what humans do
Letting darkness grow
As if we need its palette and we need its color
But now I’ve seen it through
And now I know the truth:
That anything could happen…

2. “Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is) – Pet Shop Boys

This is such a feel-good song — a celebration of life with the sound of a Caribbean carnival.

Favorite lyrics:

Although we see the world through different eyes
We share the same idea of paradise
So don’t search in the stars for signs of love
Look around your life you’ll find enough


3. “Heart and Soul” — Joy Division

On the eve of Joy Division’s first U.S. tour, their singer and lyricist, Ian Curtis, died by suicide. His lyrics are some of the most articulate and poetic expressions of the overwhelming powerlessness, despair and loneliness that comes with depression. You might think it would be depressing to listen to songs like this, but in fact it’s encouraging to hear someone put words to my feelings and to know I’m not alone in these feelings.

Favorite lyrics:

Existence, well what does it matter?
I exist on the best terms I can.
The past is now part of my future,
The present is well out of hand.


4. “Go the Distance” — Roger Bart

No song list would be complete without a number from a musical, and this winter I’ve been drawing inspiration from Disney musicals. One song in particular struck a chord with me: “Go The Distance: from Disney’s “Hercules.” This song beautifully articulates my desire to fit in and find my own sense of purpose.

Favorite lyrics:

I will find my way, I can go the distance
I’ll be there someday – If I can be strong
I know every mile will be worth my while
I would go most anywhere to feel like I belong.

5. “Part Of Me” — Katy Perry

Katy Perry has written so many empowering songs of self-acceptance, but the defiant “Part Of Me” strikes a particular chord with me. Perhaps it’s because with the loss of my legs I felt that not only a physical but also a psychological part of me had been taken away — the part of me that did all those things requiring legs: dancing, exploring, skipping and Pilates. There’s so much of me left over, though, and I’m rediscovering the impulses that motivated all those actions and learning new ways of expressing them.

Favorite lyrics:

Throw your sticks and stones,
Throw your bombs and your blows,
But you’re not gonna break my soul.
This is the part of me
That you’re never gonna ever take away from me.

6. Hero – Mariah Carey

OK, I know this is super corny with an extra side of cheese, but this song helped me achieve one of the most important revelations of my life: Over the past year I’ve realized I need to be my own hero. Friends and family are vital, but if I’m to survive those moments when I have to make a decision or face a challenge alone, I must be able to fight for myself. A similar song is “Proud” by M People, which is a great motto to live by. To me it’s not about being a holier-than-thou do-gooder but about nurturing a sense of self-worth and accountability. You have to live with yourself every day, so are you proud of the person you are?

Favorite lyrics:

When you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

Now it’s your turn.

Which songs have you had on repeat over the past few months? Let me know in the comments.

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Originally published: September 23, 2014
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