Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Raising Up the Dead

Rarely have I felt so strongly about any musical album to dedicate a blog entry to it (in fact, perhaps not since Derek Webb's Mockingbird), but the time has come my friends.

Caedmon's Call. So many evangelicals have run across them at some point in their Christian musical career. They've seen highs and lows in mainstream popularity, and honestly, the newest album, Raising Up the Dead, probably won't do much for them within CCM circles. But boy has it blown my socks off.

Not only is it musically enchanting with a hybrid of folksy tunes and a slight techno edge (a la Derek Webb's latest work), but the lyrics have more depth and poignancy than ever- and this coming from a group that was far deeper than the average Christian band to begin with. As someone who has listened to a lot of Caedmon's Call, I think they're finally using Danielle Young's voice in the style and genre it is suited to.

There are 2 songs on this album that struck me to my core in such a way that I could have sworn they were written by someone who has known my innermost thoughts over the past year. I'll leave you to wonder which 2. :)

I'm sure people will allege that this is a movement away from Christian music and into secular music, but that is a very surface level perspective. I'd say that these songs deal with the deepest issues of faith and the spirit in an incredibly subtle yet touching way.

I'm grateful for this album and it has come at a time when I most need it, so I thought you guys might benefit too. Below you can download 2 songs for FREE. But then you should go ahead and get the whole album. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When the summer's gone

Well folks, today is the last day of summer. I have done 3119 push-ups since beginning this journey. I did week 6 day 3 last night (for the second time) and today my neck and shoulders were dying. Knotted up, pinching, yucky. Not the good kind of sore.

Here I am at a cross-roads. I'm trying to decide if I want to continue on. I need to do another exhaustion test, and if I can't do at least 60 there is a good chance I'm going to throw in the towel. No, I haven't done 100 push ups yet, but I've done 3000+! And since beginning I've also started working out 5 times a week.

So... I haven't decided for sure yet, but forgive me if you think I'm a quitter. I just prefer full use of my upper extremities rather than hitting an arbitrary goal. :)

And thus the summer ends. It was a good one. I had a lot of good times and feel like I grew a lot as a person. I hope you can all say the same.

The last sunset of the summer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Don't get SAD

Ever since living in Japan, when in winter-time the sun set at about 4:30pm, I have noticed that I am very sensitive to the days lengthening and shortening. Like many people, my mood plummets in fall and perks back up again in spring. This is generally known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

Two years ago when I was running (pre-back injury) and exercising like a fiend, it wasn't as bad as usual, but last year about mid-September I started noticing in my anxiety and sadness dramatically increasing in September, right when fall was setting in. So this year I'm hoping to be proactive by testing many homeopathic methods.

First of all I started exercising- mostly running in the mornings (for the light)- again at the beginning of August. I've also been adding fruits and vegetables to my diet and almost eliminating cokes. And I went down to half-caf coffee and have been drinking considerably less of it.

Then last week I finally got the light therapy box pictured below. I've heard of tons of people who swear by them, so I decided to give it a shot as well. I just have to sit in front of it for half an hour each morning. It also has a negative ion machine thing that is also supposed to help.

We'll see how that goes. Today was my first day and I felt really good all day, but there could be a lot of reasons for that I guess.

So all that to say that if you notice yourself getting winter blues, maybe it's time to do something about it rather than just suffering through it. And remember, the days will start getting longer again on December 21. :)

If you have any remedies or tips please feel free to share! I'm open to suggestions!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Get that dirt off your shoulders

If you know me well, you probably know that I really love listening to hip-hop. If you know me really really well, you might have heard me say that I think Jay-Z is one of the great motivational speakers in the world.

A common theme in hip-hop is about dealing with haters- people who try to get you down. Which makes sense, because most of the artists grew up in schools or families or neighborhoods were little was expected of them.

Jay-Z sings a song where the chorus repeats "You've got to get that dirt off your shoulders." I like to be informed, so I googled what that meant to make sure I knew.

From the rap dictionary, here is a definition and brilliant parable.

To step up. The origin of this term comes from a story in which a donkey falls into a well and cannot get out. The farmer tries to get the donkey out by rope, unsuccessful in his attempt. He decides, instead, to just give up and bury the donkey in the well. As the farmer begins filling the hole with dirt, the donkey becomes depressed, realizing that all of the dirt on his shoulders and back were going to eventually bury him. He then thought of an idea: I can just shake it off and step up. Therefore, he could just die by doing nothing and getting buried, or shake the dirt off his shoulders and step up to the occasion. So when you have a problem, will you shake it off and step up or be buried?

So let that be your lesson for the day kids. Step up and shake it off. Don't be buried.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Still pushing up

I can't believe I'm still doing push ups. My initial goal was to finish the challenge by the end of summer, which is two short weeks away, my friends. Unless I start snorting spinach like Popeye with similar results, this ain't happening in two weeks.

A few days ago I did an exhaustion test and did 55 push ups. Which is great, I'm not going to knock it. I've improved from 24 in the beginning. But good grief, some days- like today- I feel like this is never going to happen. I am still wondering if women were meant to do push ups, feminism be darned.

But alas, I shall persevere!

In better news, 2 of my friends also doing the push up challenge finished! Congrats MM and BB!

And for the record, I did bail on the sit ups. I started running at the beginning of August, and the sit ups and running were aggravating each other, so I went with the cardio.

Feel free to leave encouragement. If you can't find me some day, I'm probably collapsed on my yoga mat from death by push up.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Maslow's hierarchy upended

I am mesmerized with this photograph.

The caption says "An interior view of the library at Holland House in Kensington, London, after it was extensively damaged by a Molotov ‘Breadbasket’ fire bomb."

I've been trying to put words to why I am intrigued and keep going back to it.

The closest I can come is saying that it defies logic. More specifically, it defies Maslow's hierarchy of needs. How the sky can literally fall in on you and still have your mind set on things beyond the current reality.

But that's how we move on, right? By transcending the noise and focusing on what matters. Whatever sustains us on a deeper level. It's mature and it's wise. It's important.