"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo

Music has shaped my life. It's gotten me through tough times; it's enhanced my happiness in good times. It's provided every one of my emotions with a soundtrack. Without music, I honestly don't know where I'd be.

I was in band from fifth through eleventh grade. I played the saxophone. There were times at band practice or while performing in concerts, that I got chills from the melodies we produced. Making music has always been so therapeutic for me. I also learned to play piano at a fairly young age, and it still relaxes me to sit down and play some of my favorite tunes.

Listening to music has also always gotten me through life. So many songs come to mind when I think back over the years. When I was little playing dress-up, my parents would play records, and I remember twirling in my pretty dress, singing along to songs like "Barbara Ann", by the Beach Boys and "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena", by Jan and Dean. I have fond memories of hearing my dad sing along to all the songs as he fed the fish or took out the garbage. I think music just makes a house happier.

Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, and Madonna soon took over. Oh, and let's not forget the New Kids on the Block (Love you 4-ever, Jordan). My friends and I would dress up, play with my mom's make-up, and talk about boys as we sang along to hits like "Lost in Your Eyes" or "I'll Be Loving You Forever." Good times.

By the time I was old enough to actually date, Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine" became imbedded in my brain as a sort of anthem to leaving my girlhood behind and becoming a young woman. I still think of my first boyfriend when I hear it. It embodies the transition into adulthood and the loss of innocence in a beautiful way.

When it comes to break-ups, I am the queen of the CD break-up mix. I still pop CDs in my car and shake my head at the forlorn tone of so many of my old mix CDs, remembering the sadness and depression I felt at the end of every relationship. Songs like Julie Roberts' "Wake up Older" (which is the best break-up song ever, by the way...country songs are always best for these sort of things) or Usher's "Let it Burn" used to make me so sad and make me want to rekindle whatever relationship had fizzled out at the time. Now they fill me with a sense of strength. At the time I made the CDs I was in a dark place I never thought I'd come out of...now I know I am stronger than I ever knew.

Now that I've made it through every break-up I will ever endure, hopefully, my life is full of a myriad of musical tastes. I still go through bouts of depression, and for me, listening to happy music makes it worse. I need to embrace my depression, to hold it to my body fiercely like a warm blanket.

Jack's Mannequin's "Dark Blue" and P!nk's "Sober" have gotten me through many days...I have learned to handle my bipolar disorder and alcoholism in part because of empathetic music like this. Songs can be like friends to me when I don't have the energy to actually talk to a person. Music helps me tremendously.

Of course, I'm a big fan of upbeat music as well. "This Year's Love" by David Gray is what Andy and I danced to at our wedding. Recently we've sort of adopted "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz as our new song. My dad and I danced to "I Loved Her First" by Heartland at the wedding. It is still our song. My mom says Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl" is my song, so I consider that our song.

There are endless other pieces of music that have helped me, guided me, touched me in some way...I could go on forever. Think about the songs that have helped to shape you throughout your life.

Which songs do you associate with each phase you've gone through? Maybe make a CD of the soundtrack of your life to share with your children or just listen to on your own and think back to all the moments that have molded you into the person you are today.

Tell your story, because we all have a great story...and one that should not remain silent.