“Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words it speaks in emotion” -Keith Richards
Music is pretty amazing the way it affects not only our bodies, encouraging us to wiggle and move even as babies (see adorable video here), but how it affects our brains. There are so many studies on how music affects the brain and can trigger different emotions. Have you ever started getting misty-eyed when you hear a song? It is because the hippocampus in your brain is being activated. When I was first separated, my hippocampus went into overdrive when I heard songs; waterworks galore!
Music is very important to me and I attach moments in my life to songs. After my separation, I couldn’t listen to the radio because every song I heard would make me sad thinking about my ex-husband. Anything from Journey’s “Open Arms” to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and I’d be pulling over to the side of the road to cry. Twenty-three years is a lot of time to listen to music together.
I found myself avoiding music for a long time. I started listening to comedy stations, one of my self-help CD’s or Podcasts while I was in the car. However, as time passed, I really started missing music. I realized that although I might have some triggers with music (the “old” music stirred too many emotions), I could start introducing new music and new artists into my life until I could emotionally handle listening to my old tunes. That was when I first heard the amazing music of Amy Gerhartz and her song “Hold On.” I couldn’t believe the words; everything I had been saying to myself since my divorce was “hold on, don’t give up, one day at a time, good things are gonna come”…it was almost like she wrote her song for me. Of course, she didn’t, but I wanted to know what inspired her to write “my theme song.” I reached out to Amy and she was so gracious to give me an interview and wow, now I want to be her BFF!
Jasmine: Who are your biggest influences, who do you admire most and why?
Amy: My biggest influences musically are bands like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, Beth Hart…. I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock, as well as some powerful female writers/vocalists. As for who I admire most, that would have to be my mother. For a long time, she was a single mom (until she married my step-dad), working in the military full-time and raising two kids. She never used us as an excuse and always encouraged us to chase after our dreams.
Jasmine: What was the Inspiration for “Hold On”?
Amy: “Hold On” really stemmed from me being in a place of needing to give myself my own motivation. I had been touring across country independently for a few years, and at the end of one year I was feeling really tired and burned out. I kept thinking “OK… how much longer do I have? How many more shows can I play? How many more miles can I put on my car?” Then the thought came to me while I was driving, and all I heard was “Hold on, don’t give up, good things are gonna come”. That is basically how the song started. I had some basic structure and melodies, but ended up bringing my friends Meaghan Farrell, Chip Johnson and Kit Karlson in on the song to help me write it/put it all together. I’m very happy with what we collectively came up with!
Jasmine: What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?
Amy: I would study a lot more, and be open to taking advice from other people. We have a tendency to think we can do everything on our own in life, but I don’t think that is the way we are supposed to live. I wouldn’t change my experiences, but I would change the way I approached music and my life. I would ask questions, I would buy books, I would take classes. I wouldn’t waste time trying to figure it out on my own. Especially because guaranteed there is someone else out there that has already figured it out for you!
Jasmine: What does success mean for you?
Amy: Success really means being happy, and helping other people along the way. Money definitely helps make a difference with the type of work you can do, but it isn’t everything. If I never make more money, if I never win any awards, and if the mass public never knows who I am or hears my music, that’s ok. As long as I’m happy doing what I love, I’m good. And honestly, if the content I put out into the universe affects just one person, then I’ve done my job. I’ll take one person telling me their life has been changed by my words, than millions of fans saying my songs are just ok.
Jasmine: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Amy: Ohhhh…I’ve received so much good advice! Currently, one of my favorite lines is “You can’t do what you don’t know,” which I think is brilliant! I definitely have moments where I look back at the past and think I should have done something different or better, but in reality, I didn’t know how to do those things different to begin with! Hindsight will always be 20/20, but I think that phrase takes a lot of pressure off the decisions we make and keeps us from beating ourselves up for things we didn’t know. I think it’s so important to just keep your mind open, keep learning, and do the best you can with what you learn along the way.
Jasmine: How do you keep moving forward each day, even on the bad days?
Amy: Great question! I talk a LOT about self-love and positivity, but even I have days where I’m just not feeling it. What I’ve learned to do in those moments is to have grace with myself. We are only human! So, on the challenging days, this is what I do:
- I acknowledge what I’m feeling. Ignoring your feelings does NOT fix them, so allow yourself a moment to recognize what is happening, and see if you can figure out why you’re feeling off. Was there a trigger? Is it situational? Just one of those days?
- 2) I make sure to be extra kind to myself while I’m working through those feelings. Instead of pushing forward like nothing is happening, I take a breath and try to do something kind for myself: go for a walk, take a yoga class, a calming bath, or honestly even lay on the floor and cry it all out for a minute! You cannot keep those emotions in, and you sure as hell don’t want to dump them on someone else! I’ve also been known to give myself hugs, treat myself to a donut and literally take an entire day off work if I need to, just to decompress. Remember, your mental health is so very important. You must take care of yourself in order to be there for others.
- 3) This is pretty much every day, but I constantly surround myself with positive and motivational affirmations. I place my hand on my heart and read them out loud daily! Our brains are so powerful, and they will believe what we feed them.
Jasmine: Best advice for handling criticism, professionally and personally?
Amy: Criticism really sucks. There is no way around it, and no matter how strong you are as a person, it really hurts to hear. So here is what I do whenever I encounter criticism:
- I try to assess whether the person is trying to be constructive or malicious. This is big, especially in the days of social media where you cannot hear the delivery behind the words. Most people just spit off at the mouth without really thinking about the consequences of what they are saying, and a lot of times whatever they say can easily be misinterpreted.
- In the case of unsolicited criticism, or even criticism from a malicious place, as hard as it is, you really have to let it go! Most people that are mean spirited and negative have something much deeper going on inside of them that usually has nothing to do with you. They, unfortunately, use you as a punching bag or a way to offload their own trash. I always say “their issues are their issues, not mine”, and then I just take a deep breath and let it go! Your life is your life, and it doesn’t have to be affected by the way they feel.
Jasmine: What is still your biggest challenge?
Amy: I think a challenge I still have is asking for help. I’ve been self-employed for so long that I’m just used to doing everything myself. I am working on it though! I’m starting to realize that we are all here to help each other, and there are so many things that I don’t know how to do that others do. I’m practicing reaching out more: asking for help, along with being there to help others in need.
Jasmine: What is next for you?
Amy: ALL. THE. THINGS! My next project is to expand my mission of self-love, equality and positivity outside of just music alone. I would love to have a brand that reaches worldwide: speaking events, books, music, merchandise, schools, etc. I want to make a difference with my words. I want to help anyone out there that needs. it.
Jasmine: Anything else you would like to add:
Amy: Please go follow me on all of the socials and tell your friends about it!! There are a lot of good things coming through the funnel right now, and I can’t wait to share it all with you. Also, keep your head up and keep going. Good things are gonna come!
What an amazing interview with Amy and what powerful words she shares along with some great advice! My favorite: “Success really means being happy, and helping other people along the way”. Thank you, Amy!
Music can certainly be an emotional trigger and I’m not suggesting you no longer listen to your old favorites. However, if they get to be too much and you find yourself crying or upset when those songs play, take a break and explore new music for a while. Listen to Amy’s song “Hold On”, this is now my “go to” song to get me motivated and I listen to it every day! What will be your new “go to” songs that will motivate you to “hold on”?
Let’s all turn up our radios together today…Remember, You Got This!
Listen to Amy and follow her: