As a teenager, my toolbox of comforting tricks grew to include music. My whole world changed in the mid-80s, when I got a Walkman for Christmas and my first music tapes: Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna.

My life had changed dramatically when both my parents remarried, and I became the big sister to three half-sisters. My two half-sisters from my mother’s marriage are ten and eleven years younger than me and, due to my stepfather’s Italian heritage, have significantly darker features and are shorter than I am. As a result, people regularly assumed I was their Swedish or German nanny. My half-sister from my father’s third marriage is fifteen years younger and looks just like me. People often mistook me for her mother.

I adore my half-sisters and am happier not being an only child, but due to my significantly different age and appearance, and my favored siblings I often felt a bit like Cinderella (minus the talking animals and Prince Charming). As stepparents go, mine weren’t too bad, certainly not within legendary evil stepparent range, but still I learned to keep my place and hide amongst the shadows. I was an outsider, virtually invisible and learned to fend for myself.

When the intense emotions of being a neglected stepchild and a hormonal teenager began to overwhelm me, I found solace in music. I developed my first celebrity crush on the lead singer of Duran Duran, Simon le Bon (even his name is sexy). When I was filled with teenage angst, I listened to Depeche Mode and The Cure. If I wanted my apathetic father to notice me, I blared the Beastie Boys. When I was so angry at my callous stepfather, I wanted to scream, I found comfort in the soothing voice and words of Cat Stevens.

I found a surrogate family within the Santa Fe children’s choir and its director Mrs. Niedorf, who was like a bonus grandmother. We used to perform throughout Santa Fe during the holidays and the mix of traditional music, farolito lights and warm apple cider and biscochitos was magical. If I wasn’t singing in choir, I was singing in the car, in the shower and in my bedroom into a hairbrush microphone.

Even now, when my kids bicker non-stop, driving me to the brink of sanity, I strap them into their car seats, drive around aimlessly through the countryside and sing at the top of my lungs along with Adele.

Music has a powerful ability to pull on my emotions, whether sad, sentimental or joyous. Just about any song by Emmylou Harris makes me remember family road trips through Texas and The Beatles bring back memories of family singalongs. Neil Young makes me think of my father and happy summers in Crested Butte, CO. I smile every time I hear “Cherry Oh Baby,” by UB40, since I used to insert my middle school crush’s name Cary in place of the “cherry.” Listening to Dave Matthews, Cake and Big Head Todd and the Monsters brings me back to my college days at CU-Boulder. I simply cannot listen to Ozomatli (or anything with a Latin beat) without dancing! My current favorite is Ray LaMontagne, his soulful music together with a hot lavender infused epsom salt bath, has the power to lesson my troubles and calm my nerves. Just listen to “Trouble” or “Let it be Me” and you’ll know what I mean…

Link: Most Uplifting Songs According to Science:—according-to-science/