My Life In Six Songs: A Different Kind of Wellness Challenge

I follow the blog Running On Sober written by blogger and fellow runner, Christy, who bravely shares her journey from alcoholism to sobriety through her posts. Christy describes herself as a recovering alcoholic that is not able to drink in moderation, although she has tried, and had her last alcoholic beverage on May 6, 2011.

Christy is also a music lover. Most of her articles are accompanied by song lyrics or a music soundtrack that she uses to help convey her message.  The name of her blog was inspired by the Jackson Browne song “Running on Empty”.

This week at Running On Sober Christy put out a challenge to her readers that she read about on NPR. The challenge is to tell your life story – chronologically, up to now – in six songs.

What a challenge that is! At first I thought that it would be too hard.  Music has been a part of my life since I was a small child.  There are so many songs.  I didn’t think I could narrow it down to six.


Flickr photo by Cuba Gallery

Music is fundamentally associated with well-being.  We move to it.  It makes us cry or dance. Old songs invoke memories that are so real we feel, for a moment, like we’ve stepped back in time.  We associate songs with places we’ve been and people we’ve met. Music is deeply connected to everything we do. Imagine how different life would be without it.

After I read Christy’s Life In Six Songs, I decided to take a crack at mine.  How this works is you pick six songs that have had the most significance to you and write a brief description of why they are on the soundtrack of your life.

My Life In Six Songs

1.  Rock With You, Michael Jackson – I bought the Off The Wall album and played it so many times it wore thin.  The whole album is good but there is something extra special about the “Rock With You” track.  It has that often-imitated-but-never-duplicated MJ rhythm and quickly became my favorite song on the album. We still dance to it on girl’s night out.

“ . . . when the groove is dead and gone,
you know that love survives,
so we can rock forever.”

2.  Son of A Sailor, Jimmy Buffet – When I met my husband he and his friends were all big Jimmy Buffet fans. When they got together they would play the Son of A Sailor album and sing along.  I didn’t really know much about Jimmy except for his one top 40 hit that I had heard on the radio.  (You know the one.)  But over the years Jimmy Buffet’s music has influenced our lives more than any other. We’ve been to concerts, have every album, and dream of someday meeting Buffet at a local hang out in Key West, FL. I can sit in my backyard in Illinois, put on a Buffet album, and feel like I’m in the tropics without a care in the world.  That feeling is hard to beat.

“Where it all ends, I can’t fathom my friends.
If I knew I just might toss out my anchor . . . “

3.  Pump Up The Jam, Technotronic – I can’t imagine what my life would be like if many years ago I hadn’t asked the Y’s fitness director if I could be trained to teach classes.  In those early days, as I was learning how to be ‘up in front’, the course of my life was forever changed. My life at the Y has given me so much more than being in physically good shape.  My best friends are people that I’ve met through classes and my career has been shaped by my early years as a fitness instructor. “Pump Up The Jam” was the workout song of the decade and was on every workout remix. Today when I hear “Pump Up The Jam” I’m back in that gym.

4.  Spiderwebs, No Doubt – This is a song that marks a time in my life that I wish I could return to. “Spiderwebs” was popular when my daughters were young and following the top 40 radio hits. This was their favorite. It was one of those songs that when you got in the car and turned the radio on it was playing. I remember my middle daughter changed the message on our answering machine to “Sorry I’m not home right now, I’m walking in a spider web. Leave a message and I’ll call you back.” The song was on the Tragic Kingdom album that won a Grammy for Best Rock Album in 1997.

5.  Victory Is Won, Santana – This is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. I put it on the list because it’s my favorite song even though I don’t associate it with a specific person, place or time. My connection to the song is internal. “Victory is Won” is on Shaman which was a follow-up album to the Grammy-winning Supernatural  that gave Santana’s music re-birth and tuned a new generation of listeners into the magic of Carlos’ crying guitar.  It is by far the best track on the album.  The music video below is of Santana playing “Victory Is Won” live. Wow.


6. Trip Around The Sun, Jimmy Buffet and Martina McBride – We call this the Happy Birthday song at our house.  We all love it.  It states so well how insignificant we are to the big round ball that we’re all on so why not hang on and enjoy the ride?

“I’m just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning,
and it’s good to know it’s out of my control.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this living,
is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go.”

“Trip Around The Sun” is on the License To Chill album and is always on the playlist at our house.  It’s a low-key song with a very real message about life,

“. . . .So I’ll make a resolution that I’ll never make another one.
Just enjoy the ride on my trip around the sun.”

What Are The Songs Of Your Life?

I love this challenge and truly encourage you to participate in the six songs exercise.  You will learn so much from it. (You don’t have to write paragraphs about your songs like I did.  A brief sentence or two will do.) Finding the songs that have had the most impact on your life is fun and not nearly as hard as you think.

If you want to be a part of the six songs series over at Christy’s blog, here’s where you can find her: Running on

Good luck and please Share!


  1. Hi Karen,
    Oh my goodness, you had some excellent song choices! I’d forgotten all about MJ, though he is on nearly every one of my running playlists.

    Santana and the Buffet/McBride duo? Chills, goosebumps and gratitude.

    Wonderful to see your take on the project, and so honored to have inspired it. Thank you for your very kind words and for sharing me with your readers.
    ~ Christy

    • Karen Stefaniak says:

      So glad you found that I ‘stole’ the idea from your blog (which I love, by the way) and are okay with it. Yeah. MJ. He’s the best. I’m fascinated with the ‘six songs challenge’ and kudos to you for sharing it with us.