Hope Chest #HAWMC Day 8

Day Eight’s Prompt: Things Remembered: What is an item you have kept with you that reminds you of an important time in your life? Whether it was a good day, a stressful time, or a happy moment… why does this item remind you of that period of your life?

I think that most of us tend to keep things from special occasions and certain items from our childhood or even over our entire life, so that in the future we can look back at those things and have all of the positive memories and feelings attached to those items, come flooding back to the front of our consciousness. It’s fun to look down memory lane; to reminisce about the past. Of course, it doesn’t take having the actual item in your hand to relive a memory, sometimes all it takes is a smell, a sound, or even a song and you can be right back in that moment.


I have several storage containers of things that I have saved from childhood until now. Besides special childhood toys, everything I have saved is from a time when I was actually living, not just existing.

I have filled my mother’s old hope chest with things that really should be thrown away, but they remind me of a time when I was at my happiest; a time before I had any specialists or diagnoses. I have trophies and jerseys from basketball and softball, jazz shoes, artwork and pottery that I made, a shoebox full of ticket stubs and playbills from every show that I have seen on Broadway. I have boxes of notes that me and my friends wrote to one another through middle and high school. That is probably the silliest thing that I have saved. Ages 11-16 were the best years of my life. Those notes represent a time when I had friends, or at least people who felt like friends. We enjoyed the same things and had the same values. I felt secure and had trust in the concept of friendship. I had not yet become jaded and skeptical of the sincerity of my friendships, or whether real friendships can actually exist. I also have boxes of the items given to me by each “boyfriend” that I had from middle school and high school. Again, silly to save, but I haven’t had a boyfriend since I got sick. So it is hard to let go of a time when I had romantic companionship. Although those relationships were immature in nature, I doubt I will ever get anywhere close to experiencing real adult companionship, so it is hard to let go of the experiences I did have, despite their legitimacy. I could go on and on about everything that I have saved from childhood through 16, because that was when I was just a normal kid. I have saved things since then, but not much; just items from big occasions in other people’s lives. 


If I had to pick one thing that I’ve kept that really means the most to me, and represents a time in my life when I was truly happy and felt completely fulfilled, it would be everything that I have saved related to “ENERGY.” {Unfortuately I cannot get to my personal Energy memorabilia and pictures, due to where they are located in storage. So, hopefully the pictures from the early days will suffice.} Energy was a performance troupe formed in central Pennsylvania for kids between the ages of 6 and 16. Everyone who auditioned was accepted, despite their talent or disability. I joined the group in its second year, I was 9. There were about 60 of us that year. By the time I was 12 there were over 160 of us. Eventually, a winter performance troupe was also started, “Youth Song.” I was a part of that too. Once the group became so large and we were consistently booked for performances, we were practicing 2-4 times a week and then doing performances on top of that; we were together all the time. You would think that we would have grown tired of each other after spending so many hours together each week, but even after the rehearsals and the performances were over, we still chose to be together.


Energy was the best part of my childhood. Looking back, the singing, dancing and performing was just an extra bonus, when I think about what Energy really gave me. Yes, I learned how to sing, dance, act, and harmonize, but what I really got was a family; and a huge family at that. When you are born to parents who are already in the middle stage of their life, a lot of your family is already gone. I had friends at school, church, and in the neighborhood that I lived in, but nothing like the friendships that I had made with the kids in Energy. I was exposed to people from different cultures and to people with disabilities, which now that I am looking back, I didn’t understand how brave and strong those kids were. They were warriors! Energy was a place where everyone was accepted, where everyone got a chance to shine. It was a place of positivity, encouragement, and love. We were a close-knit family of great friends. 


My father kept a tight leash on me, due to losing two of his children. The first year that Energy began, the director asked my father if I could participate, and he said no. I am so grateful that she asked him again the next year, because I just can’t imagine what my childhood would have been like without it. The director just happened to be a woman who did attend the same church that we did. She is an amazing woman. Anyone, who has met her, has been blessed to have had her in their life. She made a huge impact on me. I loved her so much. She was probably the first person who had ever encouraged me to feel confident about my singing voice, but more than that, she just embodied so much love. I truly believe she loved all of us equally, but she made you feel like you were her favorite. I believe that my belief in love, acceptance, and tolerance for all human beings was taught to me by her example. She greatly impacted my life in a positive way. She was more than a leader of a performance troupe; she was the conscience and the mother of the group.


I had some great performance experiences with Energy, that most people will never get the chance to experience. The group sang at the Philadelphia Phillies home games, at the Harrisburg Senator’s games, at the forum in Harrisburg, Founder’s Hall in Hershey, in Hershey Park, and at a pre-season Philadelphia Eagles game, just to name a few.


I have every shirt from every one of the seven years I was in Energy. I have all of my sheet music from over the years and all of the cassette tapes that we used to practice our music when we were at home. I have programs, videos, and pictures that capture all of the wonderful experiences that I had with those amazing people throughout my time in the group.


The one regret I have when it comes to Energy is that I lost contact with people who I really truly loved. It’s natural to lose contact with people over the years, especially when you are from different areas or are different in age. Of course we have fb to keep us updated on what’s going on in everyone’s lives, but it’s not the same as having the friendships. But what I do know is this, if I were to contact any one of those people, who left this very special impact on my heart, they would be there for me. These are relationships that despite the distance between us or the amount of time that has passed, the bond we share will never change.


At the time, Energy was a place for me to sing, perform and socialize. I realize now, that it also did a lot to shape the core of who I am. I do not know anybody who was in this group that doesn’t feel blessed to have been a part of it.

Music is a bridge, connecting everyone. Music is the ideal medium for crossing barriers, and uniting diverse people. Music knows no boundaries. More than any other form of communication, music is able to transcend differences between people. Music has the power to change us physically, directly affecting the emotions and the chemical balance of the body. Music inspires us and takes us to other places. Music can lift our spirits and increase our creativity. Music can heal people.

Lastly, I just wanted to mention, that I do not keep things that remind me of negative or stressful times or experiences in my life. I do not have to, because they are always at the forefront of my mind, and if I am ever able to get passed them, I do not need a physical reminder of what I have overcome. I have the scars on my body to remind me of what I have gone through. Those alone are enough!

Where words fail, music speaks.


4 thoughts on “Hope Chest #HAWMC Day 8

  1. I haven’t thought about energy for a long time! It’s awesome that you have those pictures! Even more awesome that you carry all those great memories. I didn’t particulate nearly as long as you, but I look back on that time as a great experience too.

    Liked by 1 person

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