I know that sounds strange – who would write a song about Multiple Sclerosis? Well, apparently, me. I didn’t set out to write a song about MS, but, as it turns out, that’s exactly what I did.
Several years before I was diagnosed – back in the good old days of blissful ignorance about a disease that I’ve now come to know so much about, I heard a phrase that resonated with me immediately. I was sitting in a church in Chesapeake, Virginia, enjoying the oratory skills of Pastor Jim Wall. He always made everything sound like it was just for me. Everyone felt that way. It was a bit unnerving – like he had a camera in my living room. Every Sunday he’d hit the nail on the head and send me on my way with a lot to think about and bring into my everyday life. I no longer attend church – that one or any other (that’s a whole different blog post) – but I often think of how moving his weekly “lessons” were.
On this particular Sunday, he used the phrase “get better, not bitter.” It hit me like a bolt of lightening. It was so universally applicable. We all had to make a choice as to how we would allow things, circumstances, life – to affect us. While we might not have control over what happens to us, we can take control of how we react to it. We hold the power to decide whether bad things will make us better, or make us bitter. In my life at that time, my husband’s very time-consuming job was at the forefront of my mind, so that’s what I wrote about. As has often happened, a song sort of “washed over me.” It’s difficult to explain, but I don’t really feel like I have much say in the matter. Poems, lyrics, music – it just comes to me – like a gift – not like a struggle or something that requires my work. I wrote this song quickly and without much effort, built around this phrase “get better, not bitter.”
Fast-forward quite a few years. I’ve been diagnosed with MS, I have an opportunity to record a song and I choose this one, but I want to make it more specific to MS. With no plan on how I would use it, just knowing that I wanted it to somehow benefit the community I seek to serve, I re-wrote the lyrics to speak to my situation and the situation of so many people I’d been talking to – not just with MS, but with any “difficulty.” Talk about universally applicable.
The result is “Wash Your Mouth Out With Hope” and I want you to have it. “My gift is my song and, this one’s for you.” I hope it helps you to hear it as much as it helped me to write it. It should serve to remind us all that beyond the struggle – whatever that struggle may be – there is hope – but our active participation in making a choice is required. We’ve got to “talk the talk before we walk the walk” and we have to “get better, not bitter.”
Here’s a link to that song: Wash Your Mouth Out With Hope. You can download it and listen to it when you need a little pick-me-up or reminder. I hope you’ll share with me your experience with the song and I hope you’ll share the song – with everyone everywhere that it could possibly help.
**I recently attended a special MS fundraising gala in Los Angeles where a postcard with a link to my little song was placed in each of the 1600 “swag bags” given out. What an honor. I got to personally hand Jack and Sharon Osborne, LaToya Jackson and others, a card with the link. Everybody needs a little hope . . .
I’m so glad Kathy has given permission to post this awesome story on MSrelief.com about her MS song, “Wash Your Mouth Out With Hope.”