Song Review

On Pause

On Pause

I constantly feel like I’m on pause.  My life plans, my goals, my dreams, and even my privacy and space is always sacrificed for someone or something else. The sad part, I’m the one in control. I’m the one that keeps giving up my time, my space, my heart, my dreams and my goals – for others.

How do I fight for me? How do I take back my life? How do I protect it from being hijacked again?

Who is in control of my pause button?

Until tomorrow,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: Blog Post, Destiny, Dream, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, Flash Fiction, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, music, Philosophy, poem, Poetry, Quotes, relationship, Relationships, respect, Song Review, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Stars

Counting Stars

By One Republic

I’ll get into the lyrics of this song in a minute.  I haven’t heard it in a couple years, but listening to it on my way home from work today brought me right back to a place in time when I was fighting for my life.  I can almost remember the very moment this song came alive to me.  I had heard it several times on the radio, and while I thought it had a catchy tune, it didn’t really mean anything. Yet, one afternoon I found myself sitting by the lake at my apartment on Alvin Street, watching the sun glisten on the water’s surface, ducks flying overhead, a cool breeze in the air, when a soft thought popped into my mind, whispering to me that nobody cared, that all the sacrifices I’d made in my life were for nothing, that all the love I gave was never returned, that I didn’t matter.  I’d just been invited to be part of an anthology with some of the writers I admired, had no one with which to celebrate my achievement. I thought I could easily slip into that cold, frigid lake and no one would even notice this selfish, rebellious, unlovable woman was gone.  I felt the pressure and judgment of the world on my shoulders.  All the voices of the people who told me I was making a mistake by getting a divorce, that I was disobeying and disappointing my god, that I was being rebellious and selfish because I wanted to be in love, that what I wanted was stupid, a fairy tale. I had the world.  I had a good career. I had a good marriage. I had a good family. I had a good inheritance. I had a good reputation. I had a picture-picture resume life.  My writing career was taking off, and I was beloved and respected by my community; a pillar they called me, a monument of strength of character.  I had everything a good Christian woman desired in her life. Someone told me once that I was selfish for not being content with the life I had, that my desire to want more, was an insult to the god I claimed I loved.  How could God love me for being so selfish? To want more was to distrust God.

I didn’t want riches. I didn’t want fame. I had opportunity to have both and walked away. I just wanted to be loved, to be wanted, to be desired… to be heard, to matter, to make a difference in this cold world, for humanity to love each other, not hate each other proving who was right. I wanted fathers not to hurt their little girls, and mothers not to be ashamed and hide behind pills, and brothers that didn’t steal and lie to each other, or sisters who supported each other and not be in competition, and kids who didn’t take the strength of their parents as a sign of not caring, and parents who remembered their kids were not their property but individual human beings with their own thoughts, ideas, plans and dreams. I felt at odds with the universe.

I closed my eyes, felt the warm sun on my face, slipped my feet out of my shoes and edged by toes toward the cold water of the lake’s edge when this song suddenly came on my iPod and filled my ears, and the tears spilled down my face.  This was a song from me, to me, in that moment.  My inner-self called out to my spiritual-self, and the words never meant something more beautiful than what they did that cold, cold autumn afternoon.


Lately I been, I been losing sleep

Dreaming about the things that we could be

But baby I been, I been prayin’ hard

Said no more counting dollars

We’ll be counting stars

Yeah, we’ll be counting stars


Counting stars… wow! One of my favorite quotes in the world, something that gave me strength through the years was from A Knights Tale when a declaration was made to change a person’s stars, to change the destiny the world had given them, to be more than what society deemed as acceptable. Before that movie even came out, my best friend in the world – who became the love of my life, made a promise that we would rise above our stations in life and change our stars.   I fought my whole life to be more than what I was born into, more than what society dictated, and I worked hard my whole life to rise above my beginning, my inheritance, and my lot in life.  No one was going to tell me my limits.  I pushed them, and I soared well above them. When my drug-dealing father was arrested, I was deemed a miscreant, told by a bigshot D.A. at the age of sixteen I was going to grow up and be nothing more than one of my father’s whore drug runners, a high-school dropout, and in prison before twenty.   I changed my stars and proved them wrong, living a clean life, a vanilla life free of drugs, gangs, cartels, and miscreants.   When I lost a college scholarship because I became a teen mother, and chose to keep and raise my baby, I changed my stars by paying my own way through college, and working three jobs at the same time supporting myself. When the love of my life died in combat and left me alone in this world, I still remember the promises we made to change our stars. I never forgot. I will never forget.  I’m not counting one star… I’m counting on changing many, many, many, many, many more stars. I have, and I will change even more. I’m still counting them, baby.


I see this life

Like a swinging vine

Swing my heart across the line

In my faces flashing signs

Seek it out and ye shall find


Life isn’t about what comes at you or is presented to you.  You have to chase it down.  You have to go after what you want. You have to take a chance.  Yes, you can fall. Hell, you will probably fall a lot more than you’ll ever fly. Yes, you can grab hold of a weak vine and it causes you to crash to the ground, but that doesn’t mean you stop swinging.  It means you get back up and grab the next one and see where it takes you.


The old, but I’m not that old

Young, but I’m not that bold

And I don’t think the world is sold

I’m just doing what we’re told


Excuses.  The world if full of them, but we have to be willing to argue back with it, set our own limits, tell ourselves what we are going to do and how we’re going to do it.  We can’t be afraid.  We can’t think inside the box.  Don’t allow ourselves to be put in a box… too old, too young, too weak, too strong, too fat, too skinny, too uneducated, too educated, too smart, too dumb, too experienced, too inexperienced.  Tell the world to go fuck itself, and stop doing what it tells you.


I, feel something so right

Doing the wrong thing

I, feel something so wrong

But doing the right thing

I could lie, could lie, could lie

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive


You can’t change or count your stars if you’re too busy living under everyone else’s judgements, ideas, and limits.  You determine what’s right and what’s wrong for YOU and tell everyone else to go fuck themselves.  Am I disappointing my god?  That’s between me and my god and nobody else’s business.  Live your own dream.  Find someone that supports that dream, and made damned sure that if you’re supporting someone else’s dream, that it’s their dream and not yours for them. You’ve got no right to dream for someone else.


I feel the love

And I feel it burn

Down this river every turn

Hope is a four letter word

Make that money

Watch it burn


Looking for the world’s definition of love or success, it’ll never work, it’ll never satisfy, and it’ll always burn.  It’s fire, it’s poison, it’s shallow, and it stings.  Too many people fall in love with the idea, the dream, the image of what they believe is love, instead of falling in love with the real person right in front of them. When they get disappointment because the person doesn’t live up to the perfect image that was created in their minds, they blame the person instead of themselves for building impossible standards anyone could ever hope to reach. It’s not fair.  We have to come to a maturity in our lives so that when we look at someone we are not naïve to their flaws, but embrace them, and love them just as they are in spite of them, not only loving the truth of who they are, but for the potential of who they’re capable of being because they too hold the power to change their own stars. The first step to changing stars is seeing the truth, exactly as it is in all its ugliness. But when we can’t even see the truth of the stars in front of us, how can we expect to change anything?  We change nothing and then we live our lives chasing THINGS… things that will burn or turn to rust, things we cannot control, cannot contain, things that slip right through our fingers and burn in front of us. We exchange our stars for temporary things, for temporary love, for temporary people… ideals instead of reality, fantasies instead of truths, we lose out on real love for infatuation and lust.


I could lie, could lie, could lie

Everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly

Take that money and watch it burn

Sink in the river the lessons I learned

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

Songwriters: RYAN TEDDER

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC


Can’t you feel it?  This song reminded me of the promise I made as a hopeful fourteen-year old girl, sitting with her back against her locker next to this dorky, long-legged awkward boy named James, dreaming with our young, naïve hearts of how we were going to change our stars. I felt that promise that day by the cold lake through this song, and it stirred something deep within me, and it’s stirring something else within me today.  I heard that familiar whisper during my flu delirium, reminding me that my love hasn’t found me, that though I’m loved, I’m never chosen, I’m never fought for, and that if I want anything in this world I’m going to have to fight for it on my own or provide it for myself. I understand now, I need a star counter, because I’m a star counter.  I could never be content with someone that can’t even recognize their own stars, much less who isn’t constantly counting new ones.  I won’t ever be silent. I won’t ever be content. I am bigger than this life, much more than the boxes offer.  I am at odds with the universe, because I too am expanding, seeking, and counting stars… and it’s time I got back to it.

I too am a star.  My own sun, shining brightly, soaring in this universe, But I’m not one to be caught so easily. If you can’t even see me, the real me, then maybe I’m just a little too bright or a little too hot for you, or you just don’t belong in my universe.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Dream, Dreams, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Muses, music, Musing, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, respect, Review, song, Song Review, Spiritual, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

If I Had a Heart

If I Had a Heart

This post is inspired by the theme song by Fever Ray from Vikings.


This will never end ‘Cause I want more More, give me more, give me more

This will never end ‘Cause I want more More, give me more, give me more

If I had a heart I could love you If I had a voice I would sing After the night when I wake up I’ll see what tomorrow brings

If I had a voice I would sing

Dangling feet from window frame Will I ever, ever reach the floor? More, give me more, give me more

Crushed and filled with all I found underneath and inside Just to come around More, give me more, give me more

If I had a voice I would sing


The first time I heard this theme song it was the powerful music that touched me.  That constant and tribal thump of the bass line pulled at my deepest soul string, and my heart beat changed to keep in time with it.  It pulled me down into the depths of my own soul and stirred everything inside it… all the hope, all the love, all the pain, and all the despair.  All of it mixed together, swirling, swirling, swirling, deeper and deeper… ‘more, give me more, give me more. Dangling feet from window frame, will I ever, ever reach the floor?’

That’s what my heart longs for… more.  But more of what?  At first I thought it was love.  Just like the song says, “If I had a heart I could love you.” It doesn’t say ‘would’, meaning having a choice… but ‘could’ as if incapable or unable. Love seems to be the most elusive thing for me to receive, yet what I tend to give more and more and more. I find it ironic.  When I first heard the scriptures that whatsoever a man sows, that also he would reap, I began to sow the things into my life, my world, and into others those things I wanted most for myself.  When I need encouragement, I give it to someone else. When I am hungry, I feed someone else.  When I am in need, I go out of my way to help someone else.  When I am lonely, I will provide company to someone else.  When I’m afraid, I will encourage someone else.  When I’m lost, I will lead someone else to somewhere I know.  But love… I give love to those who’ve hurt me, who’ve hate me, and who’ve reject me.  When I see a heart that has been broken and crushed, as mine has been so many times, I pour what love I have within me into them as much as I can.  For I am filled with love… love for myself, love for a broken and wounded world, because I am broken and wounded.

For the longest time when I found myself in need, I would go without.  When I was lonely, my tears stained my pillow that no one ever saw, and hid my pain behind a smile.  When I was afraid, I’d wrap my arms around myself.  When I was lost, I wandered alone.  There’s two sides to that scripture… sowing and reaping.  I learned to sow, lived a life of sowing and giving and pouring into others, denying myself and carrying my cross, yet I had not learned how to reap, how to open myself to receive, let someone else sow into me, because I only knew how to be broken and crushed.

Our lives are filled with many dark nights, many storms, many battles, and many moments of pain, but joy comes with the morning. Let us see what tomorrow brings.  Be content, but never be satisfied.  Always strive for more, more and more.  Because this is life.  Living is surviving, rising, falling, and overcoming.  If I had a voice I could sing.  If you have ears to hear, then listen.  Hear what calls from the deep.  Forget the noise of the world above and allow yourself to fall into the depths and listen.

“This will never end, ‘cause I want more. More, give me more, give me more.”

Categories: Blog Post, Dreams, Faith, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Life, love, music, Musings, Philosophy, Quotes, Relationships, song, Song Review, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mansion – NF (feat. Fleurie)


Mansion by NF

Someone very dear to me (thank you Jonathan Smith) sent me this song a couple weeks ago, and it’s not one that was easy for me to listen, more than that… it’s hard to hear. The first line caught my attention and then slammed me right into the middle of my own room in my own mansion.  I’ve actually tried NOT to listen to it.  It touches something inside me that I don’t like to give a moment, a second, or even part of a second.  However, there’s another effect this song is having on me too.  It’s sort of a release.  There’s still an anger, a hurt, a part of me that’s still deep inside fighting Fear and still scribbling on my blank walls.  It’s banging to be heard, to be felt, to be acknowledged because it really effects every part of me; every broken part of me. Dealing with this kind of pain isn’t something healed in a single ‘moment’ and then all’s good.  No, this is a life long journey.

“Insidious is blind inception
What’s reality with all these questions?
Feels like I missed my alarm and slept in (slept in)
Broken legs but I chase perfection
These walls are my blank expression
My mind is a home I’m trapped in
And it’s lonely inside this mansion”

Wow.  I could just play that intro over and over and over and over, and find I’ve only just begun.  And the following words NF releases throughout this song is like he pulled them right out of my own basement, right out of the darkest part of my soul, the part that still bleeds. Let me be clear, I’m not coming from a place of anger, but a place of pain. Not as a victim, but as a survivor.  It’s not about blame, it’s about healing.

“Yo my mind is a house with walls covered in lyrics
They’re all over the place, there’s songs in the mirrors
Written all over the floors, all over the chairs
And you get the uncut version of life when I go downstairs
That’s where I write when I’m in a bad place and need to release
And let out the version of NF you don’t want to see
I put holes in the walls with both of my fists ’til they bleed
You might get a glimpse of how I cope with all this anger in me”

I’m a wordsmith, but I can’t even begin to express the imagery that clicked with this first verse. It’s like NF just kicked open a locked door, white light spilling into a dark room, exposing a small, broken little girl huddled into a dark corner, scribbling more dark lines on a dark room already covered floor to ceiling with words… words of pain, words of hope, words of fear, words of love, words scribbled over and over and over.

Physically abused, now that’s the room that I don’t want to be in
That picture ain’t blurry at all, I just don’t want to see it
And these walls ain’t blank, I just think I don’t want to see ’em
But why not? I’m in here, so I might as well read ’em
I gotta thank you for this anger that I carry around
Wish I could take a match and burn this whole room to the ground
Matter of fact I think Ima burn this room right now
So now this memory for some reason just won’t come down”

Shit!  I thought burning the house down would stop the nightmares, but it didn’t.  Flames might have burned a physical building and given me a peace when I smell the scent of burning wood, but it didn’t clear the room in my mind. I don’t despise this room.  It is a place where my gift flows, where my pain goes, and where my soul grows.  This song says so much, I don’t need to say more myself.

Yo my mind is a house with walls covered in pain
See my problem is I don’t fix things
I just try to repaint, cover em up, like it never happen
Say I wish I could change. Are you confused?
Come upstairs and I’ll show you what I mean
This room’s full of regrets, just keeps getting fuller it seems
The moment I walk in to it is the same moment that I wanna leave
I get sick to my stomach every time I look at these things
But it’s hard to look past when this is the room where I sleep”

“But I should just stop now, we ain’t got enough room in this song
And I regret the fact that I struggled trying to find who I am
And I lie to myself and say I do the best that I can
Shrug it off like it ain’t nothing like it’s out of my hands
Then get ticked off whenever I see it affecting my plans
And I regret watching these trust issues eat me alive
And at the rate I’m going they’ll probably still be there when I die
Congratulations, you’ll always have a room in my mind
The question is, will I ever clean the walls off in time?”

“So this part of my house, no one’s been in it for years
I built the safe room and I don’t let no one in there
‘Cause if I do, there’s a chance
That they might disappear and not come back
And I admit I am emotionally scared to let anyone inside
So I just leave my doors locked
You might get other doors to open up but this doors not
‘Cause I don’t want you to have the opportunity to hurt me
And I’ll be the only person that I can blame when you desert me
I’m barricaded inside
So stop watching
I’m not coming to the door
So stop knocking, stop knocking
I’m trapped here
God keep saying I’m not locked in
I chose this
I am lost in my own conscience
I know that shutting the wall down ain’t solving the problem
But I didn’t build this house because I thought it would solve ´em
I built it because I thought that it would be safer in there
But it’s not, I’m not the only thing that’s living in here
Fear came to my house years ago I let ’em in
Maybe that’s the problem
‘Cause I’ve been dealing with this ever since
I thought that he would leave, but it’s obvious he never did
He must have picked the room and got comfortable and settled in
Now I’m in the position it’s either sit here and let him win
Or put him back outside where he came from, but I never can
‘Cause in order to do that I’d have to open the doors
Is that me or the fear talking?
I don’t know anymore”

I’m here and I’m still writing, but Fear doesn’t keep me trapped inside anymore. He still haunts me, still taunts me, still exposes my own scribbled lines, and he’s still slamming doors, but he doesn’t control me anymore.  I’m no longer afraid to read my own lines. I can read my walls, see the pictures I don’t like to see, because there’s a bright light within me that illuminates them all. I can run my fingers over them, for all these lines have made me who I am.  What I see now is a beam of refracted light, filled with all the colors of my imagination, shining over those thick black lines. Making them come alive, making them sing a new verse. I no longer huddle in a corner, but I dance all around like a beautiful ballerina, ‘cause my legs ain’t broke anymore.

“Insidious is blind inception
What’s reality with all these questions?
Feels like I missed my alarm and slept in (slept in)
Broken legs but I chase perfection
These walls are my blank expression
My mind is a home I’m *not* trapped in
And it’s *no longer* lonely inside this mansion”

I thank NF for writing this song, for being brave enough to allow us a small glimpse inside his mansion, his mind, his heart.  I’m sure this song will always have a special room inside my mind. I thank Jon for introducing me to this song and I hope he finds his own courage to face his own room. I hope we all do.

Till next time,

~Angel of Light

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Complicated frustrations, family, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Life, love, music, Musings, Philosophy, Quotes, Relationships, song, Song Review, Spiritual, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jameson – Zella Day


*Words in italics – Song lyrics to Jameson  – by Zella Day **Go out and buy this song!!!

This song really breaks my heart.  According to an interview with Zella Day in LA Times, she states, “I’ve never really written a song like that. It’s about falling for an alcoholic. It has this hopelessness, but at the same time there’s this light at the end of the tunnel, so there’s this sort of weird war. It’s kind of like love, but being in love with something you can’t have because something [else] already has it.”

For me, this song is about loving someone you can’t have, someone that’s gone or with someone else, and the war inside is one of bargaining and pleading to let go, but being unable.  It’s all five stages of grief.

I remember the stage of negotiation, begging God to change a difficult situation, and being completely helpless to change anything.  The only choice left was to face the pain, acceptance, but it was the kind of pain that couldn’t be faced at once.  I remember when my fiancé was deployed to Somalia.  He’d been deployed a few times before, but all those other times he wasn’t mine.  This time, he was my hero, my love, and he took my heart with them.  Many nights trying to get through to the day, I’d stare into the stars.  I’d bargain with God to bring my soldier home. I remember saying the words aloud, “The world doesn’t need him like I do, please just bring him back to me.”

Words are meant to be taught.

My hero didn’t come home.  My bargaining didn’t stop with his death.  The only thing that changed were my prayers.  “Please God, you don’t need him like I do, send him back to me.”  When that didn’t work, I told myself every day I was okay, but I wasn’t.  I hid inside middle class morality and wore my mask of obedient compliance and contentment,  yet inside cried and battled a pain that wouldn’t go away.

Love’s not meant to be lost.

You said that if I’m happy you’re cured,

But I’m not.

I thought I’d never feel fire again.  I had loved others, but my soul hadn’t danced in more than twenty years, not until I met a particular soldier.  By all common sense and practicality he wasn’t what I thought I wanted or needed in my life.  I tried to run, to hide, to not love him, but my heart betrayed me.  I tried so hard to be indifferent,  to build my walls, to pretend I didn’t care.  I knew the moment I met him he’d break my heart. I was scared more than I’d ever been. I don’t know if it was because I pushed him away, or he just never felt the same fire, we got stuck and ended up in the friend zone.

I know you have a delicate fate,

You’re a quiet man, but in the worst way,

I’m not a follower and I won’t follow you down

 He went on to love another.  I stopped breathing the day I found out he got married. I felt my heart stop. Then the bargaining and war between my heart and head enraged as I became the other woman.

Oh, Jameson, you’ve had your fun, stop holding him I want to be the one.

I promise you, I’ll treat him right, don’t want to fight. You don’t need him like I do.

It was supposed to be a zone of safety, getting to enjoy all the good of him, but safe from me getting my heart broke. Instead, I grew to love him even more, to love his mind, his heart, his courage, his sense of humor, all of his stupid little philosophies.  I tried to find that fire in another set of eyes, another pair of hands, another heart – but it was him I was looking for in every smiling face staring back at me.  He was my last thought before I closed my eyes and the first when I woke, and often the star of my dreams.  So many nights I fell asleep on a damp pillow and stumbled through the day hiding wet eyes behind a smile and a pair of glasses.

I waited in the street outside, sat in my car till my tears dried.

I’m justifying people with pain, tonight.

It’s so easy to say ‘just turn it off’, but I’m finding that’s impossible.  The right thing would be to move one, to forget the past, to open my heart to someone new.   That’s what my head says all the time.  My heart …well, my heart is an idiot. The world has their judgments, and has found me guilty.  Many would say I deserve the pain I feel because I dared to love another woman’s man. I loved him first.  I’m my greatest accuser; my harshest judge, but I have no shame for loving him.

I watched your fingers point at the blame, it’s the darkest of gray when you explain.

I’m not a follower, I won’t follow you down.

I have no right to be angry – not at her, not at him , not even at myself.  She’s just a woman who fell in love with a man.  She’s no different than me, except he loved her back and chose her.  While my heart wants what it wants, I have to learn to survive, I have to learn to heal. I have to learn to breathe again.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression… acceptance.

Oh, Jameson, you’ve had your fun, stop holding him I want to be the one.

I promise you, I’ll treat him right, don’t want to fight. You don’t need him like I do.

I have no choice.  I have to move on.  I have to breathe.  How does one exist without their heart? One day at a time.  I’ve since had many opportunities to give my heart away. I’ve had proposals and offers for rational, practical relationships – but I won’t settle for anything less than the hottest of fires.

I know I’ll be okay.  Don’t tell me where or which way you go.

Find someone else to take my place.  You want me, but treat me like you don’t.

Oh, Jameson, go have your fun, keep holding him if he’s really the one.  Just promise me you’ll treat him right, don’t want to fight, and need him like I did.

My hope is to love again, and that it not take 20 years for my heart to heal. I deserve someone who will love me, completely, as I love them.  The man who finally gets my heart is going to be a very lucky man, because I already know that I’ll love him with such deep devotion … something beyond my comprehension… something more than words can contain.  How do I know?  I know… because I’ve already done it twice.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: Musing, Song Review, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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