from the blog

How A Movie Helped Me Keep Going

My son wants me to teach him how to play the piano, and this has given me some anxiety.  I grew up playing the piano and really loved it.  But my skills have lapsed, and I never imagined teaching anyone.  But I taught him the song “Heart and Soul”, and he picked it right up.  We play it as a duet, which is a thrill.  When he remembered the whole song perfectly after being away from the piano for six weeks this summer, I thought, “okay, maybe I really should try to do this.”

I’ve been trying to sit down and play again so that I can shake the rust off before trying to teach him.  Toward that end, I sat down at the piano more seriously for the first time in months this week.  I went back through the songs I’ve been working on in the past few years (with large gaps in between).  A few of them were from the La La Land Soundtrack.  After slowly eeking out the songs on the piano, I turned the soundtrack to the movie on.  

Immediately I felt rushed back in time.  To just after the 2016 election when the world seemed completely confusing to me.  I saw the movie three times in the theater during that time, and it became a life raft for me.  I’d sit in the theater and cry.  Especially during the scene where Emma Stone’s character auditions in a dark room for an acting part singing a song called “Here’s to the Fools Who Dream.”  

The song is about following one’s dreams and about the power of art.  It mirrors Emma’s character’s own struggle, as she has wanted to act, but her efforts have gotten no traction.  It talks about the character’s aunt who moved to Paris and would recount her tales of living an eccentric, artistic life.  

A bit of madness is key

To give us new colors to see

Who knows where it will lead us?

And that’s why they need us.

So bring on the rebels

The ripples from pebbles

The painters, and poets, and plays.

And here’s to the fools who dream

Crazy as they may seem

Here’s to the hearts that break 

Here’s to the mess we make.  

Those words spoke to me in that dark theater, with what felt like a broken heart and a huge country-wide mess around me.  They told me to keep going.  They told me to reach further toward my own art.  

At the time, I had been a fashion blogger for five years.  I enjoyed it— fashion has brought me joy and been a passion of mine for a long time.  But I’d wanted to write more, and the audience of the fashion blog didn’t seem to love it when I wrote longer (non-fashion-related) pieces.  I had struggled for some time trying to figure out how to do both and was starting to realize that I couldn’t really.  I had to pick one and really put everything I had into it.

That was how this blog was born.  How I began writing my book, Beacon and Joy, which I am now two hundred pages into.  And how I kept going during a time that felt dark and confusing to me.

I love how hearing the music from La La Land can bring me back to that place.  It reminds me of the power of art.  The power of music and of following one’s dreams.  

I am grateful that that movie came out when it did.  I am grateful that its messages spoke so powerfully to me and sent me down a new path.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  But I’d also love to know— what keeps you going during hard times?  What has inspired you when you needed it?

Showing 5 comments
  • Linda Goldfarb
    Reply

    Ali,
    What a wonderful post. I loved LaLa Land and of course have the soundtrack which I listen to often. I have to say that what has gotten me through difficult times, one of the most difficult when my then husband (father of my 4 year old son at the time) announced, without warning, that he was leaving us. Friends. Friends got me through this time period. Daily calls, notes, letters. Even my boss at the time wrote me a note I have kept to this day. I don’t know what I would do without my circle of friends – and I’m very proud you are one of them.
    xo Linda

  • alexsinger16
    Reply

    Thank you so much for your comment, Linda. It is amazing how friends can help keep us going. I love that even your boss wrote you a note that you still have! I am so grateful for your friendship. I, too, can’t imagine my life without friends. Thank you for being one of them.

    xx,
    Ali

  • Pamela
    Reply

    Loved this post Ali! I agree La La Land was so dreamy and inspiring. I happen to turn to the Harry Potter Series. It’s my safe place.
    Please don’t stop playing. I can only imagine the joy it brings to G!

    • alexsinger16
      Reply

      Thank you, Pam! I still need to get into Harry Potter. How does it make you feel?

      I hope to keep my momentum with the piano. It feels good to be back at it. I forgot how soothing it is to my nerves (and my kids’).

      xx,
      Ali

  • Kirsten
    Reply

    Hi Ali,

    I loved reading this post. I also love the La La Land soundtrack, especially the very first song. It feels encouraging and hopeful. The slower, instrumental songs have a sadness about some of them but I find them soothing. Music is so wonderfully powerful!

    I’ll echo Pamela’s post, above. I’ve reread the Harry Potter series several times and always find the stories and characters familiar and comforting, even though there are some very dark and serious topics at play. All summer I’ve been listening to a podcast called Binge Mode that summarizes the HP books and blocked and delves deep into the characters and the meaning behind the stories. I have been loving it.

    Above all, J.K. Rowling is a writing goddess in my humble opinion. I think you would LOVE her writing and I bet G&G would so enjoy listening to these books read aloud to them. They started coming out when I was older than both of them and I counted the days until the next one was released. I often wondered what it would have been like to read them first as a younger kiddo.

    We recently started putting our baby’s room together which has been so fun! It’s a small space but we have room for a tiny bookshelf. The first thing I added to it was all seven of my hardcover HP books. Of course I don’t plan to read them to my infant but as much as I’ll enjoy his/her baby and childhood, I literally cannot wait to share these stories with him/her together with Chris (who has seen the movies but never the books!) once the right time comes. Thinking about it makes me so happy!

    In any event, if you do decide to start reading them to your kids, I’d love to hear what you think. Love to all of you, as always!

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