Surprise Yourself

I can't recall ever being more ready to leave a year behind than I am right now. I am nearly vibrating with the excitement of staring 2017 and embracing the fresh-start symbolism that a new calendar provides. This year was stressful, disheartening, frustrating, and full of grief. I am a different person today than I was on the first day of 2016, and at my age, I didn't anticipate such change.

Today, I have a fractured faith. I have new perspectives. I have a worry for the future. I have witnessed unimaginable loss.

But I'm going to use all of my energy and focus to make a fresh start. To be authentic. To be adventurous. To be present in each moment. To be the best me. Not just for myself, but for my family, and for my world. This world needs so much love. So much.

Today's Anthem, the final one of 2016, is offered in hopes of creating a better world together, in celebration of the symbol of a new start, and in recognition of the positivity we can share with each other.

Speak and open up your mind
It's something you should do all the time
Keep exploring, seek and find
You know you might surprise yourself
Talk without a taint or hold
The doubts that should embrace your heart
The calm and chaos of your soul
You know you might surprise yourself

Take a pen and write this down
Draw something that can't be found
And learn to walk again somehow
You know you might surprise yourself

Fountain of Youth

Here's an anthem to get you through the rest of this exhausting and unfathomably infuriating election cycle. 

Echo Lake

"There's two ways to Echo Lake..."

With All Hallow's Eve just around the corner, I leave you with this fantastic song that has subtly eerie lyrics. If taken literally, it's the perfect soundtrack for hopping into the car with someone who may be taking you somewhere against your will.

Don't do that, by the way.

Wish I Knew You

I've been digging a more "throwback" sound lately, and The Revivalists are a great way to get that fill. I love this catchy track that I've been hearing on one of my Sirius radio presets. 

[Adult language warning]

Life Itself

I've tried. I promise I've done everything I can. I've listened to Glass Animals over, and over, and over again... but as much as I've tried, I can't get enough.

Gone / New Bohemia / Under the Sun

The poor little naked trees are beginning to show small pops of colorful buds. The flattened, crunchy grass is slowly filling with breaths of green life. The chill of the wind is gradually surrendering to the warmth of the sun. Jackets are optional. It's time to drive with the windows down and the volume up!

Scare Away the Dark

I've had a really wild year spiritually. I started 2015 with so much apprehension and so many unanswered questions, that I was completely ready to give up on any sort of religious pursuits. The realization that church doesn't fit me, and doesn't feed me, was a tough conclusion to deal with. But once I openly acknowledged it, I was introduced to some incredible spiritual philosophies that actually speak truth to me. A passion was reignited. Or, to be more realistic, ignited for the very first time.

I've come to realize that most spiritual things aren't nearly as complicated as so many people allow them to be. And most social things are far more complicated than we're willing to understand. Somehow the way we approach those things have been flipped and turned around so that we simplify the complex and distort the simple things. If we're able to change how we see, we will easily change how we act. And change how we love. And love for real. And it will create true and lasting change in a world that very desperately needs it.

I can't sum up what I've felt and learned this year in a few paragraphs. I have a hard time trying to assign words to even the smallest aspects of it. But it's a good thing. And I want it to grow and expand. I want to fight for change, even when it feels like anything I can do alone is too small to help. I know that even little steps toward progress are steps that absolutely must be taken. So I'm going to fight against the things that we've been taught. We've been taught to accept and ignore injustice. We've been taught to fear each other. We've been taught a lot of lies. But I am ready to fight them. And to remind you and everyone I know that we are the only ones who can choose either to perpetuate or to change what our children are taught. What an incredible power we hold in our hands!

 

Well, sing, sing at the top of your voice,
Love without fear in your heart
Feel, feel like you still have a choice
If we all light up we can scare away the dark

We wish our weekdays away
Spend our weekends in bed
Drink ourselves stupid
And work ourselves dead
And all just because that's what mom and dad said we should do

We should run through the forest
We should swim in the streams
We should laugh, we should cry,
We should love, we should dream
We should stare at the stars and not just the screens
You should hear what I'm saying and know what it means

To sing, sing at the top of your voice,
Love without fear in your heart
Feel, feel like you still have a choice
If we all light up we can scare away the dark

Well, we wish we were happier, thinner and fitter,
We wish we weren't losers and liars and quitters
We want something more not just nasty and bitter
We want something real not just hashtags and Twitter

It's the meaning of life and it's streamed live on YouTube
But I bet Gangnam Style will still get more views
We're scared of drowning, flying and shooters
But we're all slowly dying in front of computers

So sing, sing at the top of your voice,
Oh, love without fear in your heart
Can you feel, feel like you still have a choice
If we all light up we can scare away the dark

King and Cross

I am a lover of the English language. And I'd probably love other languages if I was multilingual. But since I am not, I love the English language. I love that we humans have the ability to express ideas to one another with words. The complexity of it all is beautiful. 

I understand that so much can be lost when words are translated from another language, but... wow. It's certainly not the case with Ásgeir's album "In the Silence" which I just discovered tonight. Translated from Icelandic to English, it is stunning and imaginative and perfectly poetic. A lovely thing to accompany this first day of autumn.

I may have actually discovered this song over the incredible weekend I just spent in Portland, OR with a wonderful and beloved friend of mine. Enjoying a beer at our last stop of the weekend, I could hear a song with a great bass line and Bon Iver-esque vocals coming through the speakers. I was tempted to interrupt the conversation and Shazam the song, but good conversations with great friends can't be halted for something which is by comparison so trivial. I came back home and opted for a google search of "Bon Iver with beats" to see if anyone had written such reviews for anyone lately. Lucky me. I found Ásgeir amid the search results. I'll never know for sure if this was the song I heard, but if it's not, I'll take it as a worthy consolation.

Do yourself a favor, friend: hop on over to iTunes and buy "In the Silence."

Heat

Sometimes it's the smallest details of a song that really pull me in. HOMESHAKE's track "Heat" captured me with the synthesizer loop. It reminded me of the cassette tape soundtracks that accompanied educational slideshows back in elementary school. Although I'm certain this technology was pretty hip at least a decade before I was born, I'm fortunate enough to have started my educational career a year or two before such media was tossed into the dumpster to be replaced by VHS tapes. And laser discs.

Jackpot

One source I love for hearing new music is satellite radio. When I first subscribed to XM in college, I fell in love with the Canadian independent music station The Verge. Somewhere along the lines, it changed to Iceberg and became a little less enjoyable. But The Verge is back! Still playing a lot of the same artists, but I've heard a few new ones this week that I love.

The best of what I've heard so far is this great Lorde-esque track from Jocelyn Alice. Sometimes you just need a nice, catchy pop tune. This one doesn't disappoint! Give it a listen if you want to try to prove me wrong.

A Silent Tribute...

I learned yesterday that The Weakerthans, an incredible band I've loved for nearly 15 years, has called it quits. This post is a tribute to them, to the thousands of sing-a-longs I've enjoyed from their creations, and to the moments in my life for which they have been the soundtrack.

The first song that grabbed me was "Pamphleteer." It was my freshman year of college at the University of Missouri. It wasn't my favorite season of life, to say the least. It was a hard transition for me. I felt alone. I felt invisible. And I heard this song that described my exact feelings with such a perfect metaphor:

I'm standing on this corner.
Can't get their attention.
Facing rush hour faces turned around.
I clutch my stack of paper, press one to a chest,
then watch it swoop and stutter to the ground.
I'm weary with right-angles, abbreviated daylight,
and waiting for a winter to be done.
Why do I still see you in every mirrored window,
in all that I could never overcome?
How I don't know what I should do with my hands when I talk to you.
How you don't know where you should look, so you look at my hands.
How movements rise and then dissolve, melted by our shallow breath.
How causes dance away from me.
I am your pamphleteer.
I walk this room in time to the beat of the Gestetner,
contemplate my next communique.
The rhetoric and treason of saying that I'll miss you.
Of saying "Hey, well maybe you should stay."
Sing "Oh what force on earth could be weaker than the feeble strength of one
like me remembering the way it could have been."
Help me with this barricade.
No surrender. No defeat.
A spectre's haunting Albert Street.
I am your pamphleteer.

Listening to this song still takes me back to the cold mornings walking from my dorm, across a campus full of life and movement, to classrooms full of people I wanted to know... people I wanted to connect with... people who didn't seem to see me at all. 

But, thankfully, it was only a season. I moved beyond the struggle. I found myself. I found love. I started building a life. 

A little over a year after I married my wonderful husband, Kyle, he received a phone call from his dad in the middle of the night. It was confusing. It was serious. His mom had suffered a heart attack and was in ICU on a ventilator. We drove several hours with his brother and sister-in-law to be at the hospital. To pray, to hope, to wait as the outcomes would be revealed. She was gone.

I remember driving the four of us home as The Weakerthans' "Night Windows" was played on my favorite satellite radio station:

In the stick-count for the song of knowing you're gone
Glancing up at where you lived when you lived here,
I see you suddenly alive and nearly smiling.
Stop and hold my breath and watch the way you used to be.

The full moon makes our faces shine like over-ironed polyester,
Then disappears behind the clouds
And leaves me under empty rows of night windows.

We could walk to where these streets get pulled together.
Blinking, lined with gravel, shoulders squared towards an end.
Where the radio resounds from doppling traffic.
Where the power lines steal s's from the hourly news.

De-pluralize our casualties, drown the Generals out in static.
We'd turn and watch our city sprawl and send us signals in the glow
Of night windows

But you're not coming home again, and I won't ever get to say,
"Remember how... I'm sorry that... I miss the way... Could we..."
"Remember how... I'm sorry that... I miss the way... Could we..."

These songs, like so many others that we all can use to point to unique visions and feelings, are forever embedded as soundtracks to moments and seasons. It's the beauty and magic of music. It's a time machine. And in that way, it's permanent. Even if the band is no more.

Many sincere thanks to The Weakerthans for all of their incredible sounds and thoughtful lyrics that will always be a part of me.
 

Hazey / Pools / Gooey

I'm getting pretty tired of liking every single Glass Animals song I hear. Ok, so I'm not actually tired of it. I'm pretty impressed with them. And they're coming to KC in a couple of months. I'll be crossing my fingers to get my hands on a photo pass for that show.

Enjoy a few of the awesome songs they have on Soundcloud (and fair warning... "Hazey" includes a word you may not want blasting through your speakers at work or in front of your children):

First

I dare you to listen to this song and NOT have it stuck in your head for the next couple of days. It's so catchy!

Shut In

I am in my thirties now. It's so weird. I keep discovering that this age reveals newness reminiscent of teenage transformations. Like opening something within yourself that you didn't know existed, and maybe never wanted. New pains, new ideas, new longing, new questions. A new and undefined sense of loss. It's a strange time. I'm trying to fight the strangeness with a new mission to continually seek adventure. To let the petty things go. To focus. 

This incredible song expresses some of these sentiments beautifully. It's one of many phenomenal songs on Strand of Oaks' album HEAL. If you don't own it, I highly recommend purchasing it. It's so wonderful. So very, very wonderful.

Passing Ships

Oh, beautiful music - such incredible soul-lifting notes alongside simple, yet powerful words - you get me every time. You unfold and expand through my veins and my bones with a simultaneously calming and energizing tone that is somehow more than sounds - like an invitation to feel. Maybe something in me, maybe something in the composer or performer. Maybe something shared among us. Whatever may be held in this mystery that is the power of music, it's songs like Waterstrider's "Passing Ships" that pull me in and don't let go.

www.waterstridermusic.com
waterstrider.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/waterstridermusic

10 Tracks I Need to Share Now!

I could list a lot of excuses regarding my lack of updates this past month, but I won't. Instead, I'll just pour out a ton of (OK, not a ton... ten) tracks that I'm loving right now. They range from easy listening, acoustic stuff to dance-inducing poppy goodness. There's even a killer cover in there for good measure. Listen to one of them. Listen to all of them.

Mother & Father

Last week, we threw a surprise 25th anniversary party for my awesome parents. It's hard for me to believe that two and a half decades have flown by so quickly. I remember standing in the living room of our home, surrounded by grandparents, aunts, and uncles as they exchanged rings and vows. That was the day our family became whole. I was five years old. Now I have a five-year-old of my own. It's so strange to stop and realize how quickly life moves. How years and decades can slip by virtually undetected. Life moves at a speed we never ask it to. Make it a priority to live - really live - each day.

And as you're out there living each day, enjoy this great song from BROODS. This song, to me, is about home. About time. About living.

The Business of Emotion

If you're in need of a catchy song that will stick itself in your brain and play itself on repeat, well... here you go!