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culture

Do You Know Who You’re Voting For?

By | culture, Faith, politics | 6 Comments

I’ve spent alot of time in my car this month. Alot of time thinking, listening to the radio, and worrying about the future of the country. 14 days and 40 hours of driving in any normal circumstance usually brings clarity on life- personal problems, conversations gone wrong, or awkward moments that didn’t make sense at the time but now make total sense in hindsight…you get the point.

But I have no answers for you right now. No true clarity. Just opinions and thoughtful concerns that hopefully you’ll consider as we move towards November 8th.

Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.

These very words have defined my year. Not just because I finished and released a song about it that took 4 years to write, not just because of the cool media coverage that came from the NPR Tiny Desk contest feature (if you wanna watch the original song and submission, you can check it out here). But more than anything I’ve found myself hanging my head lower and lower with each news report of a Philando Castile, a Flint, Michigan, or a Wells Fargo incident. Nothing surprises me anymore. If anything I’ve traded my surprise in for sadness (i hate to admit).

I remember sitting in a lecture at the Summit for Change in D.C. this past June listening to Bryan Stevenson break down the inequities of the criminal justice system. A rigged system with a disproportionate number of minorities involuntarily feeding a corrupt, money-making prison industry. I remember his words clearly:

We have a system of justice in this country that treats
you much better if you’re rich and guilty,
than if your’e poor and innocent.

It’s true.
Which brings us to November 8th. And for me, it all comes down to Bryan Stevenson’s words; because how we filter those words through our worldview determines exactly how we filter this ultimate truth of how we are to live:

Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly.

I’m not naive. I know most of the people reading this aren’t Christians and probably don’t recognize those words as Biblical text or an ultimate truth. I also realize there are alot of people who don’t hold justice, mercy, or humility as top priority…and I’m not faulting anyone for this. Some people are seriously just trying to pay their rent, put food on the table, raise kids who aren’t drug addicts, and keep their families together. Some people seriously aren’t thinking about saving the world or being Mother Teresa. And y’know I think that’s most of us  on most days – myself included.

But here’s the real problem.

The problem with America isn’t that we lack bankers who are competent with money, or people who know how to install lead-free pipes, or cops who can police fairly. It isn’t that our judicial systems are understaffed or filled with judges and lawyers who don’t know the law or how to use it properly. We don’t have a problem with under-educated college graduates who don’t know how to use their knowledge (at least I hope we don’t if we’re dropping 20k a year on tuition). No, the real problem with America is us. It’s our hearts. Corrupt hearts, love of money, love of self, pride, self preservation, turning a blind eye to injustice, living and maintaining our perfect little bubbles of normalcy and homogeny. Safe little bubbles where everyone looks like me, talks like me, and thinks like me. Give a sh–  only when I’m getting paid to, go to church so I can say I’m a good person, put in my time at work and get paid for doing the maximum when I only did the minimum, give to charity so I can feel better about myself, the list goes on and on.

If you want to know the measure of a man (man used in general terms here) don’t look at where he spends his money but how he spends his time. Who is he in public and, more importantly, in private. If you want to know the integrity of a man, listen to what others say about him. His reputation will precede him. Do you find trash or treasurer? If you want to know the character of a man, spend time on his history. Find out where he’s been, what he’s done, what he cares about and who he associates with.  If you want to know the heart of a man, listen to him talk. When he speaks does he encourage others, embody hope, admit fault, or tear down those around him and criticize others’ mistakes while diminishing his own?

By now (if you’re even still reading) I’m sure it’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Donald Trump.
As someone who often finds myself in the in-between about nearly everything, I’ve looked at this from every angle. I should also add that I do not consider myself a political person and literally left the room every time my sister would turn the news on for the first 8 months of this year. But eventually I gave in. And after giving in, and doing some listening, watching, and evaluating, I settled on something I’ve known for years:

Leadership has very little to do with competence and everything to do with character.

While knowledge is important, it only requires a very small sacrifice of absorbing information and regurgitating it when necessary. Good character, however, cannot be manufactured overnight. It is a life-long pursuit that demands  Wisdom (experiential knowledge), Honesty (not to be confused with blunt cynicism), Respect (not just for those in the same tax bracket), and Inspiration – because the people you are appointed to serve and the people who work under you want to believe in you and to be proud of you. They actually want to see your face on TV and not loath you or have a visceral reaction every time you open your mouth. Believe it or not, your people actually want to like you.

So let me break it down.

Nobody likes Donald Trump. Nobody as in 95% of the population (don’t quote me on this. Just a random guess).  Alot of people, especially those voting for him would never admit that he might be sexist, racist, xenophobic, and a narcissist (which, believe it or not, is the hardest one for me to deal with).  The truth is though, most of the people voting for Donald Trump, are not actually voting for Donald Trump the man. They are voting for Donald Trump the place-holder for the Republican Party. Which means they’re voting for the platform, not the person. As someone who comes from a very conservative background, knows a lot of conservatives, and still holds many conservative opinions, I get it. You want a party that shares and enforces many of the convictions you hold. As someone who is unapologetically pro-life, I get it. I really do.

But here’s what I don’t get.

I don’t get the insults, the degradation, the humiliation, the hatred, the sheer disregard and lack of respect for others, the proud, unabashed responses to accusations of wrong-doing. I don’t understand a heart that refuses to show respect for those he vows to serve, or empathy (key word) for those he vows to advocate for.  Most of all, my heart breaks for a Church that wholeheartedly stands by in support. My heart breaks for a Church that has now embraced a double-standard in our country – quick to call out sin but just as quick to ignore it in the case of Donald Trump. Were he running as a Democrat, this would be a completely different story.

I also find it hilarious, but again not surprising, that a culture that so readily objectifies women through its mass media is so quick to point a finger at Donald Trump because it’s convenient. Let’s not forget the billion dollar industry of pornography that quietly runs through the veins of our country. And nobody’s talking about it. Nobody! A lot of double standards here. This is one big game of convenience and everyone is losing.

Back to the Church.

Forgiveness. As Christians it’s what we do (or try to do), but as believers the very call on our lives is to be Christ-like. What does that mean? It means you’re washing everyone’s crusty feet even though you’re the most important person in the room. It means you stop to feed 5000 people when they should be cooking you dinner. It means you might actually be God’s gift to mankind but still you sacrifice yourself b/c you’d rather be slaughtered than see your own people suffer. That’s leadership. 

If we are not a people who can be brought down to our knees in humility, who can be shaken by injustice and compelled to address it, who can extend a hand of grace and mercy to those in need, we are not truly the Church nor should we support those who opportunistically embrace conservative political views for the sake of winning a race.  Because that’s what going on here. Tell the truth ya’ll! 

Of course, Donald Trump does not represent all or most Christians. And neither do the major Christian media outlets. Also realize that those voting for Donald Trump aren’t ‘bad’ people or bad Christians and the ones voting for Hilary Clinton aren’t the ‘good’ Christians.

Hillary Clinton?

Again, I’m not naive. I know this woman has as many battle scars and badges of honor as she does bad moves, bad decisions, and bad judgement. She’s been in the game a long time and knows how to keep a poker face. There is alot of stuff in Hilary Clinton’s history that I don’t like. Maybe in another post and another time I will talk about Margaret Sanger, eugenics, compulsory sterilization in ethnic communities through the mid 80s, and the history behind what we now know as the pro-choice movement…because history is everything and there are alot of things we aren’t talking about. And maybe just maybe, even if you don’t agree with me, you’ll see where I’m coming from. If you want a head start, you can read one of Sanger’s speeches.

Like I said, until September, I managed to stay apathetic about election season. But when I did begin to pay attention I noticed two very different dialogues within each camp. One offered ambitions for racial justice, gun violence prevention, and tuition-free college, while the other camp repeatedly used its stage-time (and social media presence) to encourage violence, belittle women, condemn the competition, and literally offer no game plan.

The decision seems pretty clear, right? Yet even now and over the past two weeks, the words of 19th century theologian Charles Spurgeon have been ringing constantly in my ear:

Of two evils, chose neither.

So let’s talk about what’s reaaaally going on here.

I believe writer Isaac Sharp described it best while writing in the voice of a C.S. Lewis character, Screwtape:

For those inclined toward great political concern, your task is slightly more nuanced. You must push them toward two important conclusions. You must first convince them that their preferred candidate is THE ONLY OPTION for true Christians, and that voting for any other candidate is not only wrong but also evil. They will see this binary model on display from the candidates themselves. The tendency away from moderation coupled with the seductive pull of extremism will prove too much for many Christian voters, and they will divide into opposing parties most naturally. Division is inherent in the system, and getting them to the furthest edges will be all too easy… And once they realize that voting is only one small and relatively minor way of bringing about their desired change we, my nephew, are more or less doomed. (The Screwtape Letters)

I am a firm believer that we live in two realities – what we see (with our eyes), and what we sense happening in the bigger picture. Macro level. The aeriel view. The Spiritual realm. You know what I mean – like that funky feeling you get when someone walks in a room and the whole atmosphere changes. That kind of stuff. 

You guys, this election has nothing to do with Hillary or Donald, Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, Black or White. This election has everything to do with chaos and confusion. The enemy, let’s call him Screwtape, is fostering an atmosphere of hatred discord, and distraction. The devil is in the details ya’ll, and he’s doing a really good job with them right now.

BUT, and I’ll speak directly to the Church, WAKE UP!!!  Vote for whoever you want…even if it’s no one (no seriously, you should go vote though). But wake up! We’ve lived in a nation where the Church has become a country club, existing for its members but largely irrelevant to those outside its 4 walls. And as the Church has sought to become more like the world with flashy stage lights, hipster-looking bearded preachers with lots of hair gel, saavy video-productions, digestible 75-minute services and its own Christian version of literally eeeeverything (especially music), it has lost its relevance. We can’t expect to stay at a comfortable distance, create our own subculture of music, books, and entertainment, and still aim to regulate the way others live through a political party.  I’m all for a more sacred lifestyle. I think we’ve lost something very special by removing prayer from schools and making Sundays yet another business day *lifts hands in guilt*. But our country is really changing, and while I’m not blaming the Church for its ‘demise’, I am saddened because the Church kind of forfeited its spot.

The days of complacency are so over.  I don’t want to be a good Christian. I want to be a Spirit-filled one! I want to walk in the truth and power of Jesus Christ. Take him everywhere I go. Live him out. Be the Gospel to those around me. Offer hope and healing, whether it be with my words or in my music. I don’t want to be a place-holder, warming the pew on Sunday morning, do my time and be on my way. I don’t want to go to the homeless shelter down the street, slap a serving of cream-of-corn on some old dude’s styrofoam plate and act like I did something for him.

If God is real. If Jesus is real, if I believe it, if I live it, then i take it out into the world every day and give Him to someone else. If I remember that my vote, while important, does not let me off the hook as an active world-changer, hope-bringer, ambassador for Christ, then I don’t ultimately place my hope in ‘my candidate’Instead I wake up in the morning and decide not to be apathetic or judgemental, or condemning. Instead I wake up ready to serve others. Instead I wake up and stop being so comfortable in my perfect little bubble.

This year has been craaazy, ya’ll! And we’re all tired. Tired of black men and cops dying, tired of hustling to find work, tired of ridiculous nightclub shootings, tired of uncertainty. Vote your convictions. Vote for good leadership. Dare I suggest that neither candidate has stellar character and maybe one of them just hides it better. I dunno. But one of them is going to be the President whether we like it or not. Oh yea…there’s that 3rd guy too.

At the end of the day, if we don’t realize we have sin in our own hearts and that we condemn others while begging for mercy in our own lives, how could we possible expect our leadership to be any different?

Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.

p.s. i really wanted to use this photo up top b/c it looks like they’re singing a duet, but i was afraid you wouldn’t take this post seriously :)


Here are some lyrics from a Sara Groves song (Second Guess Girl) that helped me process
alot of these thoughts while driving in my car for countless hours thinking about all of the above…
 
Is it time for a speech or for silence
Are you calling for peace or defiance
Is this darkening counsel or wisdom
Are we all perpetrators or victims?

Is this childlike simple rote history
Is it complex deciphering mystery
Is this blessing or ill gotten wealth
Am I speaking for God or myself?

Is this confidence born of a calling
Is this ego and pride before falling
Are we standing to fight for what’s right
Are we angry and hopelessly blind?

Are we companions of Job or prophets of God
Are we not of this world or just painfully odd
Is it time for free grace or tough love
Or a little of all the above?

Sooner or later we’ll know more about it
Sooner or later we’ll understand why
We’ll understand why

It’s a hard world for a second guess girl
With one hand and another
I try to take it in and it leaves me spinning
Trying to love my sister and brother
It’s a hard hard world for a second guess girl
Trying to love my sister, love my brother

listen to audio

#365 Days of Eeeeeverything

By | art, beauty, culture, Faith | 2 Comments

Everything Matters

When i set out to write 1 post every day for 365 Days, I wasn’t sure why. Honestly, no one was holding a gun to my head, and it’s not like I was bored. I was already very sleep deprived and had plenty of other things on my plate. But I knew I wanted to talk about things that I never get a chance to talk about in 4-minute songs, 1-hour concerts, or 140-character tweets. And when All or Nothing (the album) came out last year, I kept getting this nagging feeling to share the themes of the album by telling the stories of other people living out those themes. I also wanted to talk about the intersections of faith, art, and culture within that context. 

For the first month, I was pretty consistent. 1 post every day meant staying up a bit later (i think clearer at night) or cutting out other activities to get the post up by 2am-ish so people would see it first thing in the morning. And within the first week I noticed that writing about “All or Nothing” (or AoN as I like to call it) made me see it everywhere I went. Sorta like how you start to see Honda Civics everywhere when you’re shopping for a Honda Civic. I started noticing things about how people work: like the difference between someone who cares about their job vs. someone who doesn’t. I wrote posts like #4 – about people in my life who were stepping out on a limb and becoming Entrepreneurs. I wrote posts like #47  –and #327 about absolutely terrible days on the road when i just wanted to quit. And I posted song lyrics like #287 – by artists whose music has profoundly shaped my life and young music career. I even talked about my favorite food chain (Chipotle) in #116 and why their business model has made them as successful as they are.

Over the course of the year I came to wholeheartedly appreciate and write posts about small business owners whose venues I was playing in (#326), and everyday people who never get recognized for the wonderful things they’re doing in their neighborhood (#334). And then of course there were posts about those people who cared a little too much…to a fault (#26). Prepare yourself  :) I wrote a Eulogy for my Honda CR-V (#114) – the one I killed due to overuse and bad maintenance. And then I wrote a much more serious Eulogy for my late older brother on what would have been his 35th birthday  (#200).  I learned and shared how to love (#342) and also talked about challenging art (#126), challenging movies (#318), and the challenge of making meaningful music (#297).

Was it worth it? Yes! I mean on one hand, I was getting much much less sleep (still bitter about that) and I spent hundreds of hours maintaining this blog. As in hundreds! I was committing to 7 posts every week, not to mention the 2 posts I was writing each week for my marketing blog, Grassrootsy. I was, staring at my computer screen even more than I’d already been, and I often felt completely depleted of energy and creativity by the end of the day. I suffered most in my songwriting. I only wrote 1 song last year. Yes…1 song! And I stopped journaling for myself. I also began to get confused between what was worth writing about and what would be a waste of breath. Ultimately I started to skip days and post less frequently. This blog could actually be called “415 days of All or Nothing”.

Regardless of all that, YES it was worth it! This last year of writing has been one of the most rewarding and worthwhile endeavors I’ve ever burdened myself with. For one thing, it brought tons of traffic and new fans to my website! hehe :)  But more importantly it has made me see people and art in a whole new way. It has made me a better writer, and, based on emails and comments, it has hopefully touched the lives of its readers. As I kiss this 365-day blog goodbye, there is one thing I am absolutely sure of: What we do matters. How we care for others, how we spend our time, how we choose to use the talents God has given us…it all matters.

The Glory of God is Man fully Alive.

 

THANK YOU ALL FOR READING!
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#351 A few things I’ve learned about the Midwest

By | culture, people, touring, travel, Uncategorized | No Comments

2 weeks, 4 states, 11 cities, and 3000+ miles later, I am back home in Pittsburgh with many wonderful memories. I thought I’d write a post about my experience in the Midwest and some things that are unique to the region.

1. people are much nicer

You’re not imagining it! People are actually nicer…waaay nicer over here! At first you will think it’s kind of weird and then you will get used to it. And then you won’t be able to live without it! All those smiles! I spent about half of my Midwest tour in Minnesota and learned the expression “Minnesota Nice”. That’s what they call it. The kind heartedness of everyone on my trip is what made the terrible shows ok and the good shows great!

hosts + new friends! Jon+Kristen Olson

2. people take care of you

Like really take care of you! This kind of goes along with the above point. I stayed in the homes of “friends of friends” on this particular trip. People who didn’t even know me went out of their way to make sure that i felt at home. Don’t get me wrong: Im always staying in people’s homes and they’re always nice. But there’s a difference between being nice and going “above and beyond”. And it seems like hospitality in the Midwest is truly a perfected art.

 

3. skinny jeans don’t exist

nicest goodwill i’ve ever been to in my life!

You can tell alot about people based on what they wear. While in the region I visited a few thrift stores to see what unique things I could find. I learned alot about how Midwesterners dress – after all thrift store clothes trickle down from department stores.  So lemme just tell you: I could not find even 1 pair of skinny jeans anywhere! Ok, that’s a  little bit of an exaggeration, especially because i bought the 1 pair i did find (hehe). But Midwesterners do not wear skinny jeans. They like their boot-cut bottoms and a pair of rugged boots to match. It didnt take long to make sense of it, really. I mean after all, hip-hugging, thigh-sucking stretchy material doesn’t exactly pair up too well with the resilient, farming culture of the Midwest. The funny thing is, I didn’t notice this on people until i went thrifting. Then i opened my eyes and noticed the people around me. They were all wearing their wool sweaters, heavy scarves, and heavy duty pants.

3. cold is not actually cold…its just “cool”

During my first week in Minnesota, it was cold. Like icy cold! Like -18 degrees cold. I was so confused about this because it was incredibly sunny. How could there be an extra layer of road (in the form of ice) while the sun was so bright and warm. I’ll never understand it. But I noticed that people in the Midwest have a very different definition of cold. And when it hits 30 degrees it’s practically spring *sarcasm* and you can find many of them loitering around without coats. One of my friends made a joke about this guy in his neighborhood who wears out shorts as soon as it hits 40 degrees.  And to that I say… WHAT!

 

Anyhow, now that this trip is said and done, I am so eager to return to the Midwest. It was such an excellent 2 weeks and I almost wish it could have been longer.

#345 Throw It All Up!

By | culture, people | No Comments

One of my favorite things about touring is sitting in my car and listening to NPR. Really…its probably in my top 5 favorite things and it distracts me from the miles.  Well today I heard an intriguing interview with Julia Angwin, author of the new book, Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, & Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance. It’s a MUST listen!

In the interview and book, Anqwin, who is an investigative reporter talks about her attempts to get “off the grid”, to live an untraceable life where her whereabouts, her online searches, and her information weren’t being collected. I was amazed by how much work it took for her to be untraceable – downloading specific encryption software, creating secret identities, using disposable phones, and more. Angwin isn’t a convict. She’s not on the run and she’s not “hiding” from anyone but she does want to live a life where the government and google aren’t keeping track of everything she does all the time.

Lately I’ve been creeped out by how how Google knows what advertisements I want to see when I open my laptop to search for things and this interview really gave me pause. And not only are search engines collecting data, but our phones are too. Our apps are collecting data and its all being stored!

And then i thought about a song I wrote some 5-6 years ago – Eat it All Up. I wrote it when Facebook really exploded.  Everyone and their mothers were getting onto Facebook and it was beginning to rule our lives. The song is about information consumption and its implications. And at that time I started to thinking about the fact that we were digging ourselves into a hole and no one would realize it until we were trapped. And really…honestly I think things are about to explode. We’ve become so addicted to technology and information and now its going to blow up in our faces. Here are a few lines in the song:

Eat, eat it all up 
Then we go back for more, Even though we are stuffed 
Pretend, pretend we don’t know what we’re doing
And we don’t call it foolish. And we don’t call it sin.

And i think we’re about to see the sh-t hit the fan. It’s like we never think about the repercussions of what we do. We just think about the immediate satisfaction. All we’ve cared about is “developing” and “advancing” and immediate satisfaction and now we’re seeing the consequences of it – like personal data in the hands of the goverment (think Edward Snowden). But worst of all we’re seeing a generation of teenagers who don’t know how to have interpersonal interactions anymore. Teenagers glued to their screens don’t know how to process emotion, be real with each other, be real in the real, live, tangible world. What an injustice.  And it’s all about to blow up in our faces.

Here’s the NPR Interview and the song:


lyrics

 

 

#297 Seriously though…what is art?

By | art, culture | 2 Comments

Imagine my lack of surprise today when I came across an article about “DJ” Steve Aoki breaking the news to his fans that he is not actually a DJ. To be honest, I have no idea who Steve Aoki is…even after reading the article. I only clicked on it b/c there was a photo of him with Kanye West…and on occasion I like to read articles about Kanye West b/c I find that I still somehow manage to be surprised when I hear about the things he says and does. That’s besides the point.

Anyhow, today Steve Aoki told his fans that he is not actually a DJ – that he has spent the last 15 years of his life (his whole adult life, mind you) pretending to be a DJ because he wanted to mock the music industry by confronting it with its absurdity.  The article, though said to be completely satirical, is intriguing. Aoki says, “I wanted to explore the fickle nature of popular music fads by devising a public and onstage persona that could push the bounds of ridiculous behaviour to an extreme and still manage to get away with it.”  Mission accomplished.

Aoki stated that as the years went by his onstage persona became even more and more ridiculous to the point where he loathed waking up in the morning only to face this version of himself that was not actually himself. “That’s always been the toughest part, seeing myself become this clown and never being able to say ‘Hey guys, it’s not real’.”

For me, this begs a very serious question: what is art? What counts as real? And are we being faked out every single day? This is something I think about alot. 

In 2011 I attended an arts conference in NYC hosted by International Arts Movement (IAM). It was the first time I had ever heard the term “generative” used in the context of art-making. The conference’s focus revolved around what it would look like to live in a world where art is truly original to the point of producing healthy offspring  (art begets art). We were challenged to ask questions like, “Is my art a clone? Does what I create bring life or death? Is what I have original?” We talked about music,  furniture, visual art, Ikea,  Walmart, and so much more. I didn’t know it at the time, but this conference significantly shaped my view of what I currently do (or believe I’m doing) as a singer/songwriter/performer.

I often ask myself whether many performers out there think they’re actually artists (I ask myself this too). Are they willing pawns or naive and unknowingly playing a game they never knew they signed on for. I know enough about the music industry to know that most of it is math.

x: make the song sound a certain way
y: find someone with sex appeal
z: spend $$$ on marketing. lots of $$$

Eventually you will have a hit single, top the charts, and you can have as many wrecking balls as you want (if you know the right people, of course). And in Aoki’s case, you’ll be able to to get away with absolutely anything!   “I kept adding more and more unnecessary vulgarity to the show, bright flashing lights, topless performances, silly hair, Indian headdresses, trampolines. I kept thinking that at any moment people would realise that this was no longer dance music but that it was an absurdist pantomine and the game would be up. But no-one has ever even suspected.”

“Even when I started throwing cake into the audience, which I intended as a not-so-subtle reference to the circus that my show had become, the audience just lapped it up. No-one thought to themselves ‘Oh look, he’s started throwing cakes into people’s faces like a f-ing clown, surely this can’t be legitimate dance music?’.”

I guess I’ve got alot of question here.  Did Aoki become a victim of his own creation? You’d have to think that after 15 years of living a lie a person eventually becomes that lie. I’m sure he asked himself the same question. But my ultimate question here is: How did we get to the point where its ok to have cake thrown in our faces? When do we wake up and realize that we are being duped?

This video should bring the point home. (Portlandia is stupid, though).

And if you need some edifying food for thought, here is Makoto Fujimura’s keynote speech from IAM’s 2011 Conference. This will be a breath of fresh air.

#282 Give Thanks

By | culture | 2 Comments

I really tried not to write this post. But here it is.
Thanksgiving is the only major holiday in the United States that is not commercialized. The only one. I have always loved this holiday because no matter what, it always seemed safe – safe from commercialization and safe from changed meanings – from the cultures need to make everything meaningless by stripping it of all religious and spiritual significance. People left Thanksgiving alone. It was pure. And to me it is holy. And I love Thanksgiving more than any other holiday because it requires pause. It requires me to stop and think of all the things and people who make life worth living. It causes me to remember that God has given me so much, because in order to give Thanks, you must be giving it to someone. And in order to say “Thank You”, you must be saying it to someone. So Thanksgiving is more than just another day off.

But I must say, and I will keep it very very short, that I am completely pissed off by how much America loves its money…and by the lack of respect America has for anything sacred. Maybe you don’t feel the same way I do about Thanksgiving. No biggie. But let’s at least try to agree that Corporate America only cares about finding ways to monetize well…everything! And if they can’t figure out how to monetize it, they pretend it doesn’t exist and then move on to the next thing. This is essentially why Black Friday is becoming Thanksgiving day. Trust me, by next year they’ll have come up with a clever name for it.

And let’s take it a step further by blaming ourselves. If no one indulges these stores , if no one shows up to feed the monster, the monster will die of starvation. It’s as simple as that. I’m going to urge you to NOT visit any department stores on Thanksgiving day. Surely it can wait just one more day.

Please just take a pause. Take some time to remember that people are more important than things. Take time to remember that Everything You Have will fall apart…eventually. Hopefully our relationships and love for people over things, our sense of gratitude, and moral integrity don’t end up in that category.

 

#270 Our Open Road

By | culture, travel, world | No Comments

Today on Facebook I asked if anyone knew how i could travel the world for free. I mentioned that it would be my goal for 2014. It was in part a joke of a status, but it is also a very real desire. I want to travel and experience the world – not as a tourist, but as a student – experiencing different cultures, meeting people, and being stretched out of my comfort zone.  Lo and behold someone sent me to to Our Open Road – a blog created by Adam and Emily Harteau and their cutie pie baby girl.

These guys are my heroes! I’ve spent alot of time on their site tonight reading about their adventures and living vicariously through them :)  They are doing what I would love to do with my life someday with a family. They’ve also got the coolest car on the face of the earth! Visit their website and/or read the NY Times story on them. The pictures are breathtaking.

Anyhow I thought I’d share a little piece of their story on my blog because they really give meaning to the phrase “all or nothing”. They are doin’ it!

made me think of Verse 3 in this song:

 

#269 Who Cleans Up Your Mess

By | culture, work | No Comments

On my drive home from Chicago last night, I listened to a handful of TEDtalks and was impacted by this speech by Robin Nagle. I highly suggest watching or listening to this brief talk about garbage men, the significance of sanitation work to society, and the importance of saying thank you. It’s pretty great!

 

#268 Downton Abbey

By | culture, Uncategorized | No Comments

So I’ve just finished Season 2 of Downton Abbey! I should say that I’m not really big on television or TV. I haven’t had TV in years and don’t really care too much for it. But every once in a while I find a series that I fall in love with and for me that is currently Downton Abbey. I’d heard so much about this for years, but I only recently got into it.

If you’ve only heard of the show but dont know much about it, it is an account of 20th Century England through the eyes of the Crawleys – a very well-off, upper class family. They are a very likeable group of people, but their lifestyle and way of thinking are in stark contrast to that of their maids, cooks, and lower-class staff that live downstairs.  The series does a really great job portraying the difference in social class between both worlds; and it does an excellent job referencing historically significant moments and working them into the storyline (i.e. WW1, the creation of electricity, introduction of new inventions, and more) over of the course of the early 20th century. It’s soooooo good!

So in today’s post I’m giving a shoutout to all the people (probably hundreds) of writers, directors, producers, stage hands, costume designers, and makeup artists that make this program possible. It is executed with excellence and every time I watch it I can’t help but appreciate the behind-the-scenes people more than the actors.  It’s just so well done! I highly recommend it for any history buff, hopeless romantic, or anyone who likes good drama :)