Tag Archives: coping

Red Cave by Yeasayer

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Yeasayer is not one of the first bands I would pinpoint for recovery. Given their lucid sounds and trippy vibe… Yet while I was listening to them the other day, this song came on. I had simply forgotten about and it wasn’t until this moment that I could truly appreciate what they were saying.
In the song they sing about is about being guided by some higher power who ends up bringing them up when they were going further and further down. They then go one repeating the same versus several times about the love of life and their support. Its kind mantra-like… Just give it a go!

Lyrics:

I went out past the willow and the well
caught my breath upon the hill
at the edge of the domain

and I went down
and further down
and when I got up,
I’m at the red cave

and with that sound
as if I had been put under a spell
she led me to her abode
despite a winter’s day

Mary’s house in the hollow of the
white hazel rapid whirlpool
and the church of hurricane

I’m so blessed to
have spent that time
with my family and the friends
I love with my short life I have met
so many people I deeply care for

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5 Steps to Begin Your Yoga Regime!

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“I have spoken to a lot of people about what keeps them going in their recovery and what keeps them stable (if they struggle with anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar and/or schizophrenia). Many of them mention exercise and yoga but fail to mention any regular practice. Always noting how they may not have time, aren’t flexible enough or just have a hard time getting in that state of mind. But these are just excuses! The fact is that anyone can do yoga and it doesn’t have to even be an hour long practice. We should try our best to take time to zone in on your presence, inside and out. Bringing such awareness is a form of meditation and one of the most popular ways to cope with disease and addiction. However, addict or not, this kind of centering can start a day on the right foot with a positive outlook on life or end the day in bliss and serenity. Take a look at these 5 tips that will get you started with your regular practice. It’s worth a trial run and I think you may be able to see what so many others have discovered about themselves through this method of holistic healing.” -Love and light, Robyn

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1. Remember that there’s no such thing as being “good at yoga.”

Being “good” at yoga postures (asana) is something that doesn’t exist. Remember, yoga is a practice that helps us to deeply explore ourselves while learning to quiet the mind. Allow yourself to grow with your asana, with your practice, and just let go! There’s enough pressure everywhere to be good, to be perfect, to get it right — let yoga bring out the wild reckless abandon of your heart! Close your eyes, and flow.

2. Don’t think; just practice.

This gem, whispered into my ear by Sri Dharma Mittra while I was avoiding crow, has transformed my life. I have found that talking about going to yoga usually keeps me from actually going to yoga. Turn on autopilot, get yourself there, and let the rest come. Showing up is the hardest part!

3. Know that no one is judging you.

If, as you first enter a studio, you feel the vibe doesn’t suit you, kindly and gracefully leave (before class begins). Yoga is energetics, and it’s your right to feel comfortable and welcome in the space you’ve chosen for your practice. You’ll be able to tell as soon as you walk in if it’s the place for you.

If you’ve found the perfect space but still find yourself worrying during down dog that everyone is judging you, remember that others are also practicing and are unable to look at you, let alone judge you. Breathe into the collective consciousness and let your mat to be a personal and private oasis.

4. Be kind to your body and yourself!

Ease in! The way we treat our bodies during yoga is a manifestation of how we feel about ourselves. Don’t be unkind to your hamstring because it’s tighter than you’d like. Instead, grant your muscle compassion and breath, and it will open. There are times I don’t practice for a week, and when I begin again I’m not as strong or flexible. That’s OK! I allow myself to be exactly where I am, and before I know it, my strength and flexibility return. Only the internal dialogue of chastisement can keep you from enhancing your practice — nothing else! Simply start and be kind to yourself.

5. Practice non-judgment, presence and patience.

Choose to go into your practice with an open mind and an open heart. The first class I went to was pure torture and I wanted to leave, but I stayed out of respect for the teacher and other students. I’ll never forget leaving that first practice, thinking, “I’m NEVER coming back.” But then I found myself on the city streets, feeling something vital had taken place and that already I was different. I haven’t looked back since.

Don’t judge the practice, don’t decide it’s not working or that nothing is happening, Welcome yoga in and let the poses take you somewhere magnificent, just as they’ve done for thousands of people for thousands of years. You have every right to a holy yoga practice! You deserve to communicate deeply with your body, to strengthen inside and out, and to change all that does not serve you.

Steps from MindBodyGreen.com

Dreaming by Tennis

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Tennis is an upbeat band composed of synth/piano, guitar, bass, drums and a lovely vocalist. The sound is poppy and the background vocalization really adds something sweet. The artists voice is soft and beautiful, sure to put you into a frilly, happy mood. This particular song I picked today puts me in a peaceful state of mind. I look at her lyrics and relate it to my higher power. Whatever or whoever he/she/it is, I see myself searching and I see my prayers answered all around me. I find light in this serenade when she sings about believing, “I can still believe in you.” I know I gave up hope when I was the lowest in my addiction, but I’ve gained faith and I’ll never give up again so long as I know I am not alone.

Lyrics:

I’ve searched high and low
I’ve looked deep inside
But how can I know

For such a long time
I’ve hoped for a sign
That one day I’d find
We’d been and found
Either inside or out
I have to take time
You’re meaning contained
Your valued displayed
By speaking your name

You revealed yourself in a dream
Then you told me how to believe

Dreaming, I’m dreaming
I can still believe in
I’m dreaming I can still believe in you

I’ve searched high and low
I’ve looked deep inside
But how can I know

It Takes a Village

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“In the beginning, a lot of us thought we could do this alone. But as recovery programs such as AA, NA and CA prove; we just can’t. A great way people jump-start their recovery is through inpatient and outpatient treatments. These facilities (that can be independent or hospital run) are armed with people to help and guide you through a smooth and successful recovery. Offering therapies and skills that will offer you the chance to lead a happier life. I went to rehab at Gateway for a month and followed up with an intensive outpatient program. Now I have graduated that with over 65 days sober and seeing a therapist regularly (and of course finishing the 90 in 90!). It has been a long journey so far, but everyday I am reminded of my strength and perseverance. I will never give up on my sobriety because that means I would be giving up on myself. Something I never want to do again…” -Thank you, Robyn

Ittakesavillage

Types of Recovery Programs

Not all recovery programs involve a inpatient stays. Some programs involve daily attendance and participation in group programs such as Narcotics Anonymous. Some types of treatments that might be available in your area are outlined below.

  • Residential programs involve living in the treatment facility and attending groups, individual counseling and other activities. Long-term or extended programs usually last 90 days, and shorter programs require stays of 28 or 30 days.
  • Outpatient rehab programs offer a number of options, often treating individuals for several hours a day over the course of a few weeks.
  • Group support or therapy sessions can meet daily, weekly or at other intervals. This type of recovery program is offered by accredited facilities, volunteer organizations, churches and community centers.
  • Individual therapy with a Board Certified Substance Abuse Counselor can be the appropriate treatment for some patients and may also be part of an aftercare program following a stay in a residential rehab program.
  • Some addictions may require medical intervention, especially during the early days when physical withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous for the person attempting to become sober.

Who Should Consider a Rehab Program?

No simple formula exists for providers or patients to determine who should attend what type of drug treatment program. Drug addiction is not a simple issue, so you should ask for assistance from experienced medical or behavioral health professionals to design a treatment plan that is right for your situation. Trying drugs just once does not necessarily indicate an addiction. On the other hand, being unable to say no to substances, taking extreme actions to obtain drugs or finding yourself frequently taking drugs may indicate a need for treatment for drug and alcohol recovery.

Important Information for Effective Treatment

Research over the past 40 years has consistently identified some key information that has helped build effective treatment programs. It is important to understand the following drug recovery information.

  • Addiction impacts the function of your brain, which can alter your behavior. Guilt associated with drug-related behavior often keeps people from successful addiction recovery, but you need to be able to separate how you act on drugs from how you want to act.
  • Successful treatment programs provide for all aspects of a person’s life, not just a specific addiction. Learning new skills and sharing emotional troubles may help with recovery.
  • It is essential that you remain in treatment and comply with follow-up care. Drug addiction is a chronic disorder; some doctors have even compared addiction with asthma or hypertension. You would not stop taking your asthma medicine if it was helping to control symptoms.
  • Drug addiction is often closely related to mental illness. A rehab program that can deal with adual diagnosis is essential in these cases.
  • Treatment plans should be reevaluated and altered on an ongoing basis to seek continuous improvement. In most cases, the individual struggling with addiction should have the opportunity to provide some feedback.

When you are looking for a drug recovery treatment center, keep the above information in mind. You may also want to ask for a referral or request information about outpatient and residential rehabilitation programs from a counselor, social worker, doctor or psychiatrist.

Aftercare is Essential for Success

One thing that causes people to fall off the wagon after completing a recovery program is noncompliance with aftercare. Some people believe that drug addiction can be treated similarly to a traumatic injury such as a broken arm. The arm is set and it heals, the cast is removed, physical therapy is scheduled and life eventually returns to normal. In most cases, drug addiction cannot be approached in such a manner. Someone struggling with an addiction can appear to heal, only to relapse months or years later because of the chronic nature of the problem. Because of this, following aftercare recommendations, including involvement in group or individual counseling, is essential.

Compiled by Recovery.org

What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

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Who doesn’t love this song? Its a fabulous song for anyone, in and out of recovery. Just remind yourself of all the beauty in the world by giving this song a listen. Lyrics are on the video, enjoy!

How To Break Any Bad Habit

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“I just read and fell in love with this article from Mind Body Green and had to post it for you all! Enjoy!” -Love, Robyn

Learning to understand the self is a lot like stirring water in a glass. If we don’t stir, sentiments stay at the bottom of the glass and our water stays polluted.

Take a simple goal: Eat better.
For me, eating always starts with a craving. It’s rarely because I’m hungry. Usually I eat out of boredom. Or, on a deeper level, maybe loneliness.
First, the feeling. Then filling that feeling with food.
I imagine what I’m craving. Pizza. I see it. Feel it. I taste the crust and the cheese, and I know exactly where I’d go to get it. I see myself driving there and sitting in the booth eating it. (I am an extremely visual person. In this case, it’s not to my advantage.)
Then I become obsessed with this image. Inner conflict begins. Desire vs discipline, Want vs need. I start to reason with myself.  I work out hard. I deserve this. It’s not a big deal. What’s a slice? I need to get out of the house anyway.
Reasoning turns into deals. Okay, one slice but I’ll get a salad.
It’s on. The fantasy becomes a reality. I’m now actually sitting at the pizza place. And of course, I always break the deal I made with myself. Three slices and no salad. I eat until I’m stuffed. The Addict, The Liar, the Pseudo Self wins again.
On the way home, I feel guilty about myself and the pizza is never as good as I imagined it.
If I take this process and apply it to other areas of my life, is it the same? Dating? Relationships? If so, are the consequences and feelings the same?
Study patterns in your thoughts and behavior around fitness and nutrition. Chances are, they’re the same patterns you apply to other areas of your life. Maybe you maneuver in extremes: Win or lose. If so, do you apply that to work, love, etc.?  Do you use food or exercise to reward and punish yourself? If so, do you use work and relationships to reward or punish yourself?
Filtering your cloudy water means breaking patterns you believe are unhealthy. The more you are able to break unhealthy patterns, the cleaner your water will be.
Now, if you’re able to get stronger at rewiring your thoughts and behavior with food cravings and exercise habits, including all the fears you hit while working out, can you apply those new muscles to breaking patterns in other areas of your life?
I believe you can.
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Here’s how.
1. Know what’s triggering your behavior.
Usually it’s from a feeling.
For me, it was boredom and loneliness.
Pizza was a way of coping or numbing that feeling.
Being aware is the first step.
2. Force yourself to change that behavior.  
There will be an internal fight and it will be difficult. But this is where the road can fork. Give yourself other options. I could go on a walk. See a movie. Write. Any behavior that’s different, even if it’s only slightly more healthy. The goal is just to break it. You may not succeed in the beginning. It takes lots of practice. But eventually, if you keep at it, you’ll get stronger.
Next time I have a feeling that triggers me, I’ll walk around the block and maybe reward myself with fruit, juice, or even a protein bar instead of stuffing my face at a pizza joint.
Now, in relationships, something will trigger the same feeling. You may get into a fight and feel unheard, angry, lonely, etc. Think about your bad habit (your “pizza”) in relationships…  Is it to shut down or explode? Well, you can apply the process above to change that behavior, too .
3. Identify the feeling that triggers your behavior. 
What’s the feeling? Feeling hurt, unheard, lonely?
4. Focus on addressing that feeling. 
 
Maybe you talk to a friend. Go for a walk. Stay and talk it out. Journal. Call your brother. Exercise? Whatever. Just make sure it’s more healthy. Know that you can do this because you did it with the eating and it will work the same.  Remember the results you got from breaking the bad eating behavior and trust that process.
If you’re afraid to do something in the box or at the gym, but you overcome that fear and by doing so, see results, that revelation – that you can overcome a fear and see results can now be applied to confronting your boyfriend, boss, or parents.  You may believe one has nothing to do with the other.  On the surface, true.  But fear is fear.  And no matter what door you go in or how you tackle it, the more you conquer it, the more you will be able to conquer it in other areas of your life.
Once you prove to yourself that you can do something you were afraid of, that PROOF – belief – will spill into other areas of thinking.
Imagine fear as the black and white image in a coloring book. The more you color, the more the fear disappears. It doesn’t matter where you start or how you do it, all that matters is that you keep coloring. And the more you color, the more that page will come to life.
So it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about eating better or facing workouts you never thought you could do. Keep stirring to get that water cloudy so that you can then break patterns – filter that water clean in all areas of your life.

P.T.S.D. And Childhood Trauma Linked to Addiction

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“This is a wonderful article that focus’ on P.T.S.D that can develop from childhood trauma and how it is linked to Addiction. I may not have experienced much trauma due to my up-bringing but I can fully understand the diagnosis of P.T.S.D after I was faced with the traumatic experience of an extreme manic outbreak while I was living abroad in India. Its hard not to think of something so dramatic everyday and live in extreme regret and torture from the memories. I hope your able to find as much appreciation for this problem and its connections to addiction recovery as much as I have.” -Love, Robyn

by Kevin VaLeu

We live in an addictive age. In the last five years of my life I have come across and counseled more people struggling with cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, anorexia, sex, and a whole host of other addictions then I did in the previous five years.

Are people becoming more immoral? Or is there something else causing people to turn to substances and sex. Perhaps these next statistics will shed light into what I believe is the underlying causation of our culture’s craziness.

1) The turn of our century (2000) marked the first time in American history that the majority of our children (over 50%) were raised without both biological mother and father in the same home.

2) Even if both mother and father are in the home it doesn’t mean they are in any better shape if they are being abused or neglected. 61% of all children experience some form of neglect.

3) Greater than 1 out of 3 girls will be sexually molested during their childhood or teenage years.

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What does this mean? We live in a day and age where children are experiencing trauma at unprecedented levels from molestations, abuse, abandonment, neglect, and dysfunctional or fragmented homes. When traumatized children slip under the radar of effective treatment they will find illegitimate, illicit and unhealthy coping mechanisms to medicate the long unforgotten pain.

Link Between Trauma and Addictions

Research shows that 50-60% of women and 20% of men in chemical dependency programs report a history of childhood sexual abuse. When you include people that have experienced P.T.S.D. (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or childhood trauma the number can climb as high as 99% of them having substance abuse problems.

How Trauma Affects the Brain

In order to understand how trauma makes one more susceptible to addictions, we need to understand two types of memories at work in the brain: 1) Explicit Memory–this is a memory that we can deliberately call up or put away at any time. We have a sense of control over it and we know it is just a memory; 2) Implicit Memory–these memories have coded in them not only a picture of a past event but the resulting feelings, sensations, and emotional response that went with it. These memories happen outside our control.

These memories are adaptive or automatic, which means they can “pop up” or shoot into our minds involuntarily upon some stimuli or current event that reminds us of a past trauma (called association). This is why a current event can trigger a flood of negative emotions that are identical to the emotions we felt at the time of the trauma. In fact, this is why people with PTSD are continually being tortured from their memories because when something “triggers” their past they are actually reliving the painful past trauma over again. Its no longer just a memory they recall, its all the emotions, feelings, and sensations engraved upon that memory card they recall and relive in the present.

This is why many Vietnam veterans with PTSD experience such painful flashbacks. They aren’t just remembering the past, they are actually reliving it. The bomb they see coming at them in their memory is a real bomb coming at them right now.

In addition, as we grew up, all of our basic assumptions about people (e.g. can they be trusted), ways of relating, and behaving towards people are formed on these implicit memory cards. This explains why you get tense or tighten up at the bank whenever you run into a particular man that reminds you of your cruel step-father.

In order to successfully treat a person with PTSD they have to be guided to convert their implicit memories into explicit ones.

Trauma is Recorded in the Limbic System which sits on the Vegus Nerve.

An interesting physiological discovery is that our traumatic memories are housed in our limbic system. This might not mean much if it weren’t for that fact our limbic system is on top of our Vegus Nerve. When the vagus nerve is stimulated by pain, fear, other distresses, and at an extreme, fainting may occur since such stimulation of the nerve affects the pace of the heart. Such stimulation also causes nausea and cool, clammy skin.

Its now easy to see how memories not only affect our emotions but also our physical bodies.

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Emotional Disregulation & Tension-Reduction Behaviors (Addiction):

When an implicit memory is jarred the body automatically releases the hormones of cortisol and adrenaline to give it power or enable it to go into the “flight” or “fight” (emergency) mode. However, for a person that has experienced emotional trauma, there response mechanism is a bit different. When a person with PTSD has their “flight” or “fight” system alerted they experience the current stress at a visceral or guttural level (soul depth) and have to shut down the hippocampus. Similar to a computer that is slowed down by too many programs running in the background, the mind shuts down certain parts (in this case the hippocampus) because it is too difficult to run it while in emergency mode. Implicit memories can cause one to live in a constant state of being overwhelmed. Past traumas that induce implicit memories also damage mood regulation. It is easy to see how the extra strain on a brain from trauma would affect our ability to stay an even keel.

When the mind tries to remember what has happened during a traumatic moment a person experiences emotional disregulation. There are three coping strategies a person may employ in dealing with emotional disregulation:

1) Avoidance: A person doesn’t want to talk about the trauma, think about the trauma, or be around anybody or anything that reminds them of the trauma.

2) Dissociate: They disconnect from reality which, without realizing, turns off the integrative links connecting the pre-frontal cortex to the limbic system. This means one disconnects from their experiences, which on the one hand helps them escape from the painful anxiety that would normally come, but on the other hand is detrimental from an emotional stand point. You lose the ability to feel anything through this numbing process; even the ability to empathize for others. This is damaging to the psyche.

3) Tension-Reduction Behaviors (leads to Addictions): When trauma occurs the brain fires up, becomes overactive and makes a person feel they cannot deal with it without the aid of some type of pleasure to “settle things down.” This is the point where a person may turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc. It is here, at this stage of the process, that lends itself toward addictions.

The Missing by Deerhunter

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I absolutely love Deerhunter, they have been my favourite band for years and it wasn’t until I heard this song in recovery that I was able to get a different perspective on it. Lately I’ve really been really having to give up my control over problems to my higher power, letting them go so I can move on with my day in acceptance and serenity. This song reminds me that my higher power has the answers and everything will pass with time. Concerns of my thoughts that race and drag me down on tough days don’t have to rule my life if I don’t let them. I can ask my Higher Power to show me the meaning to the mess of life I have created and show me “the missing.” Check it out!

Lyrics:

Open up my thoughts
tell me if you see
some meaning.
Take me all apart.
So that I can see
the pieces.

And I could walk for miles.
And on every street
is the same scene.
Follow the telephone wires
until i feel this air beneath me.

Oh and if you don’t mind,
would you show to me
the missing?
With my weak eyes
I would only see
the missing.

Open up my thoughts
Tell me if you see some meaning.
Take me all apart,
So that i can see the bleeding.

Oh if you don’t mind,
could you show to me
the missing?
With my weak eyes
I would only see
the missing.
The missing.
The missing.
The missing.
The missing.
The missing.

And I would understand
(I could understand)
if you show to me
the missing.

And I could understand
(I could understand)
if you showed to me
the missing.

And I would understand
(I could understand)
if you show to me
the missing.

Take Four

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Yes. It may be two in the morning and she may be up right now. But she simply can’t sleep. She tried and succeeded for a couple of hours only to arise completely awake. She had taken more melatonin and yawned a couple times, but still no luck. She has tried watching a bit of television, having a snack and painting for a while… Nothing. Her thoughts are racing, her eyes are shifting and she cant stop rocking. What does all this mean? I’ve been taking my meds, eating, working out and sleeping for long hours. I haven’t done anything to promote this, Im done with that childish fantasy of mania as I expressed before. She did have coffee earlier but she couldn’t imagine that the caffeine from then would have lasted this long. That must have been over twelve hours ago. None of this made any sense. She reviewed her day. It was productive. Up until she took her PM meds ,which made her feel groggily and irritated, she had had a very good day. No pressures of her addiction from outside sources, just a light and easy day spent walking around town and lounging in the coffee shop. Nothing to offset any sort of manic state! She took a drag from one of her moms cigarettes. There was nothing to do now but wait for some sort of signal from her brain that told her it was time to sleep.

The time to sleep would never come. Instead she would paint until the sun would shine, then she would step outside and take a brisk walk around her favourite place in her hometown.
There was a park located two blocks from her house where a black paved path directed her to a wooden bridge over a quite creek. She would place herself directly in front the creek as it encircled a lonely island. Today was unlike any other day she had visited this place. Today there were countless geese. Maybe thirty, maybe less, maybe more. It really didn’t matter. She glares up at the sky and sees a blanket of grey clouds floating quickly to reveal a clear blue hue. She smiles. Today is going to be a great day.

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So far it had been a good day. After looking up the closing times to all the local coffee shops she came to the conclusion that she had to settle with Starbucks. Still not having bought anything she sits on the bare side of the room staring at her reflection on the crayon-streaked window. Only this time she doesn’t care how they got there. Instead of the usual dabbling of her mind, she is at ease. She feels drowsy having just taken her medication and slightly restless; wanting-to-roll-around-on-the-floor kind of feeling. Her eye lids dripped down her cheeks trailing the dark circles that had formed. Her eyes were dilated and her head was spinning. She wanted to take a moment to gather her thoughts. All she could think was this is crap. It’s all a load of crap. There’s no reason to be writing now, there is nothing to write about! But of course there is something to write about. But she simply was not excited about anything that happened today, even though quite a lot of exciting things did happen.
Her giddy humour brought her dancing through the Target store with one of her friends from NA. She remembers walking through the toy section and seeing a jesting display of miniature houses– she couldn’t help but touch it. The moment she did, BAM! The entire case lit up in an array of colours from pink to blue. She jumped up and laughed so loud that another man in the aisle couldn’t help but join her. OH MY GOD, it spins! She blurted out as she began to fiddle with the contraption that made each house go around to reveal the masterpiece in all of its angles. Her friend pulled her away, speaking softly to calm down. She breathed deep. The rest of the adventure was spent pointing out different items; unique or not, they all enthused her.
She then spent several hours visiting her dad, putting a smile on her face and admitting to her current state. But I feel fine. But that’s just the problem isn’t it? A normal person wouldn’t feel so fine after no sleep.

Never Give Up by Robin Thicke

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This is a cheerful song, beautifully composed with all kinds of orchestral instruments paired with Robins great voice and inspiring lyrics. Check it out!

Lyrics:

Lost your job,
lost your mind
living on the street
for the second time
all you do is dream
another new tonight
I see blue skies in front of me

(Chorus:)

baby, never give up
don’t stop now,
it’s never too much
never give up
never give up
hold on babe
never give up

lost your heart
lost your will
on your hands and knees
just for a dollar bill
lost your faith
and your confidence
it never seems fair
nothing make sense

(Chorus)

feel like a joke
I feel like a fool
I should have smarten up
I should have stayed in school
what I’m gonna do?
how am I gonna get by?
I ain’t got no whistle
but I can’t stop trying

(Chorus)