Image

New Year: New Beat

For many Americans, the theme of the New Year is about personal development and self-care. Writers at Vitagene blog report that most American resolutions center around physical health, self-care, and finance. Whether you are meal prepping, jamming out during a ride-share, pumping iron, or getting rest and relaxation at home, this playlist will help set the right mood. Here is a compilation of songs to motivate you to be healthy, happy, and in harmony. 

Mindful Melodies

Practice mindfulness by listening to songs that inspire you to be true to yourself, believe in yourself, and be the best you can be.

Gym Grooves 

Sometimes, we just need an extra boost of energy to kick-start a great workout. Check out these tunes that get you in the groove.

Money, Money, Money, Money

As the great American R&B group, the O’jays say, “Some people got to have it, yeah, some people really need it,” but singer Jessie J argues, “It’s not about the money, money, money. We don’t need your money, money, money. We just wanna make the world dance. Forget about the price tag.” Whatever your relationship to money, enjoy the benefits it provides and give what you can to those in need. Dance, sing, and get that cha-ching, cha-ching!

Rhyme, Rhythm, Rest, and Relaxation 

Rest, rumba, read, and refresh with a few rhythmic selections. Jam to these tunes to kick off the year with sweet serendipity.

There is too much music out there to list all of my funky favorites. Browse the recommended songs and albums on your favorite music streaming service to find other tracks that suit your style. The new year can inspire you to set goals and improve your life. Use music to stay encouraged, energized, and eager to be the best version of yourself. Capture nostalgia by adding some of your favorite oldies to the playlist and sprinkle in current hits to keep things fresh. Support the motto “New Year, new me,” with a new year and a new beat.

Written by Ashley

Image Credit

 

Image

Chasing the Wind: A Book Review

When I was younger, I constantly searched for books that would suit my fancy. While sauntering through the library, a book would grab my attention. I would run my fingers across the title and flip through the soft, thick pages. Instantly, my passion for reading was ignited. Today, not much has changed. I still seek to read interesting books that contain romance, sadness, joy, and a strong message. What is one of my favorite books? Well, thank you for asking. The autobiography entitled Chasing the Wind by William Boyd Chisum is one of my favorites because it includes each of these elements in a way that grabs and retains readers’ interest. Fun fact: this was the first book that ever made me cry like a baby. Was it from happiness or sadness? I will let you decide.

At the beginning, Chisum discusses the elements surrounding his birth. While his mother struggled during delivery, the doctors made an error that would affect Chisum’s life forever: they transfused the wrong blood into his body. Because of this negligence, Chisum faced a future filled entirely of painful surgeries, or at least that is what people told him. In a time of desperation, his parents placed him in the Scottish Rite where he received excellent care and made many memories. Although it was an extraordinary place, he simply wanted to be home with his family leading a normal childhood. In the midst of infection and excruciating pain, he found a new passion in life: music. When he could not grasp or understand everything going on in his life, he grabbed a guitar and sang for the staff and residents. As a young boy, he experienced horrific things that no person should ever experience during his or her lifetime. Through it all, he persevered.

As he got older, he continued to pursue his passion for music. In fact, he toured the country and sang with Diamond Rio. Even with his music playing on various stations, he knew he was missing something, but he could not figure out what it was. Eventually, he met a beautiful red-headed woman with a passion for the music industry. While he was interviewing at a radio station in New Mexico, he became smitten, which introduces the love aspect that every great book needs. The two started dating and eventually married in a small ceremony with close family and friends. During this time, he also found a passion for Christ and a new meaning for life.

While their love continued to grow, they desired to start a family of their own. After five years of continual praying, the doctors told them the best news they could receive: she was pregnant! Nine short months later, she went through a strenuous labor. After many scares during the delivery, she gave birth to a large, but adorable, baby boy, who would be the apple of both their eyes for the rest of their lives. Despite more health issues, Chisum realized that God was calling him to become a PA for an Orthopedic Surgeon. After years of dutiful work in this intensely difficult field, he had to undergo another surgery. He pushed through the pain and continued to pursue Christ and His calling for Him, by touring the country with a Christian band to spread a tale of perseverance, bravery, love, and passion. Although retired, he still proclaims the faithfulness of God and shares his testimony with all. Where does this end? I will let you read the rest of the book to discover the answer.

Throughout the book, Chisum allows the reader to get to know him through the words he uses. He tackles hard subjects with a twinge of humor to make sure readers are paying attention. Best of all, he incorporates Scriptures and the Gospel into every aspect of his work. In each of his hardships, he persevered. When everyone expressed their doubts about him, he pushed past them. He is a survivor, and it is not of his own accord. It was, and still is, Christ working through him. If you are looking for an inspiring book to read, then I will always recommend investing your time and money reading this autobiography. I can guarantee you that it is 100% worth it.

Written by Trisha

Image Credit

 

How to Survive College According to Hamilton

Fans of the musical Hamilton will assure anyone that the lessons one can glean from the show are infinite in number. There is a reason people are obsessed with a hip-hop musical about the first U.S. Treasury Secretary; it resonates with the average American. With its themes of perseverance, writing, and self-discovery, Hamilton is also incredibly relatable for students struggling to survive (and thrive) in the college season of life. Here are a few wisdom-filled lines from the musical that may help new college students—Hamilton fans or not—stay alive and get the job done.

You really do write like you’re running out of time. –Eliza Hamilton in “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”

College is full of writing assignments. It doesn’t seem to matter how well you avoid procrastination; you will always end up writing at least one essay like a total madman at an unnatural hour of the morning at some point in your career. If you’re aware that such an experience is coming (usually near the close of a semester) you can be ready with multiple shots of espresso the day after.

Take a break! –Angelica Schuyler and Eliza Hamilton in “Take a Break”

You must take breaks. Sometimes this means a Sunday afternoon binge watching The Office, and sometimes it just means a power nap between classes. Whenever and however you squeeze breaks into your schedule does not matter. What matters is that you do not turn into Alexander Hamilton, who wrote 51 (loooong) essays in under 7 months but neglected his family relationships and friendships in the process.

Remember from here on in, history has its eyes on you – George Washington in “History has its Eyes on You”

Alexander Hamilton wouldn’t have been much older than me and you when this scene took place. True, few college students will lead revolutionary troops into battle, but it’s critical to realize that in many ways history does have its eyes on you. Universities are platforms for cultural innovation: politics, technology, music, language, and social norms. People are watching what you do. Let that inspire you to greatness, not scare you into mediocrity.

For once in your life take a stand with pride. –Alexander Hamilton to Aaron Burr in “Non-stop”

Even if you were the kid in high school who was shy about your hobbies and talents for fear of rejection and judgment, it’s okay; nobody on campus knows that. College is a fresh canvas waiting for your honest, artistic touch. Whoever you want to be, whatever you want to believe in, do it. In “Non-Stop,” the thing Burr is afraid to proudly endorse is the United States Constitution, and we all know how well that turned out. College is the place to grow into a better version of who you already are; don’t let fear dictate your life.

Look at where you are, look at where you started. –Eliza Hamilton in “That Would Be Enough”

Despite Hamilton’s public confidence, Eliza knows firsthand her husband’s insecurities about his past, and she consistently has to remind Alexander that he truly has accomplished much. You, too, will face this sort of doubt. One bad grade, one hurtful comment from a professor, or one internship rejection letter can taint an entire semester, if you allow it to. When you hit a low patch, find an Eliza in your life, someone who can remind you of how far you’ve come since high school graduation and highlight your vast potential.

Do not throw away your shot. –Alexander Hamilton in “Stay Alive”

Arguably, this is the main theme of Hamilton, and this line could have been picked from any number of songs. What is great about this particular usage of the line is that after preaching this sermon to himself, Hamilton encourages his friend John Laurens not to waste his own opportunity to impact the world. While you’re in college, reach for your dreams. Try something new. Take every opportunity to become a better person. And while you’re at it, encourage your roommates, classmates, and friends to do the same thing!

Pick up a pen, start writing! –President Washington in “One Last Time”

“Pick up your device, start typing” would be a fair modern equivalent of this line. In the song, President Washington is trying to orate his farewell address to Hamilton who, instead of taking notes from his Commander in Chief, is arguing about why Washington should not step down from office. This is not how you want your college experience to be. In no other stage of life will you encounter such a treasure trove of intellectual wealth; do not throw away your shot to partake of the wisdom. Take notes everywhere, not just in class. Go to free conferences and seminars held on-campus, grab lunch with a professor or advisor, and when you learn something moving or useful, pick up a pen (or your iPhone) and save it for later.

Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room? Soon that attitude may be your doom! –Aaron Burr in “Non-Stop”

My friend, you have much to learn about life, about education, and about yourself. Start college with a learner’s attitude, and you will graduate into the real world with a learner’s posture that will take you more places than you could ever imagine. Be confident in your abilities, but don’t assume that any amount of skill or knowledge that you have is enough. Stay hungry for wisdom and be humble in all that you do.

The fact that you’re alive is a miracle. Just stay alive, that would be enough. –Eliza Hamilton in “Non-Stop”

Tell yourself this during finals week. Plaster it on your Pinterest inspired bulletin board. Get a sharpie, and write it on your favorite mug. Sticky Note it to your bathroom mirror. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself that if you survived this long, you can survive to the end.

Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who, who is this kid, what’s he gonna do? –John Laurens, Marquis Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan in “Aaron Burr, Sir”

People are going to ask you this, just with a lot less pizazz than the Hamilton cast. The first few weeks of school are especially full of questions, club and social invitations, and a whole lot of names you may or may not remember. Soak it all in, but make sure you filter it out. Hamilton came to America with a huge list of potential friends, careers, and legacies. He couldn’t say yes to everything or become everyone, and the same is true for you. Know who you want to become, but also be sure of who you already are.

And then you’ll blow us all away! –Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton in “Dear Theodosia”

College can be one of life’s trickiest phases, but it’s one of life’s greatest (and briefest) stages as well. Enjoy the next few years for all that they are worth. Whatever choices you make, make them with excellence and you really will blow us all away.

Written by Savanna

Image credit

Silly Love Songs

“Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. And what’s wrong with that? I’d like to know” (McCartney, verse 1). Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. It represents something beautiful: love. Love seems difficult to define and to obtain. Sometimes it acts like an emotion, while other times it’s a choice or even a fated destiny. Love can even take different forms linguistically, being defined as either a verb or a noun. Personally, I think that love can have different meanings to different people at different times. In fact, one of the attributes of love I am fondest of is this sort of graceful, catch-all nature it seems to have.

Valentine’s Day has come to be known especially for its representation of romantic love. I’ve always thought that a romantic kind of love was magical. Once upon a time, I was a little girl swooning over Disney princesses as they danced with their princes. Now, I’m an adult with a heart that bursts with excitement as I watch the people around me fall in love, get married, have children, and grow in love day by day. I definitely want to get married someday. I think of marriage as a friendship you’ll never lose and a chosen partnership for life. You choose a person and that person chooses you. Comedian Ray Romano described his own marriage this way: “You wake up—she’s there. You come back from work—she’s there. You fall asleep—she’s there. You eat dinner—she’s there. You know? I mean, I know that sounds like a bad thing. But it’s not” (Raymond, episode 9).

real-heart-hands

Love can also take a much simpler form than a lifelong partnership with a husband or wife. Love can be found in a single act taken by one person on behalf of another. For an example, the week or so surrounding finals last semester was a rough time for me. During my Sunday morning church service that week, I was all but exhausted mentally and physically. An older married couple who are members of my church came to see me after the service to tell me that I’d been on their minds lately and ask if there was any way they could pray with me. Their coming to me and asking to pray communicated so much love to me in that moment; it was exactly what I needed, and it reminded me of God’s everlasting love for me.

Sometimes love is in the thought that one person expends for another. It really can be the thought that counts when it comes to love. In recent years, my siblings and I have begun exchanging little Christmas gifts. It’s my idea because I like buying ridiculous things for my brother and sister. My sister outdid me last year, though, when it came to thoughtfulness. She told me a week before Christmas that she’d picked out my gift and that it was not what I’d asked for. Naturally, I was worried and even a little annoyed. After all, my sister likes to think things through her own convoluted mental processes. She has even told me on several occasions that she cannot predict what I’ll say, do, or want in any given circumstance. On Christmas Day, she presented me with a radio adaptor that would let me play music from my phone through my car’s radio. She remembered that I didn’t have an auxiliary plug in my car and that my grandmother had gotten a Wow Hits 2007 CD stuck in the player years before she gave it to me. She took the time to think about what I really wanted and gave me a stellar gift I still use to this day. When I opened it and realized what she’d done, I felt remembered, considered, and loved.

Love is multi-faceted, easily felt, and always better in excess than in lack. Valentine’s Day gives me an extra reason to celebrate the love of all the wonderful people around me. Love, in all its forms and with all its facets, is a trait to be cherished. It is more than silly love songs; it is the very core of Jesus Himself.

Written by Becca

McCartney, Paul. “Silly Love Songs.” Wings at the Speed of Sound, Capitol, 1976. “The Lone Barone.”

Everybody Loves Raymond, created by Philip Rosenthal, performance by Ray Romano, season 3, episode 9, 1998.

Image credits: Header image, Heart-shaped Hands

Music to My Ears

Music and writing are nearly synonymous to me. When I am writing just about anything, be it for school or for fun, there is usually music flooding through my headphones or the speaker on my phone. It doesn’t particularly matter what kind of music it is; it can be my favorite rock group or an instrumental piece of video game music (yes, I am a nerd), but the right music sometimes helps me set the mood for a scene or find more creative ways to phrase something.

When a person writes a song, he or she is stringing abstract sounds together into something coherent and meaningful; when a person writes a story or paper, he or she is doing the exact same thing. In this sense, technically, anyone can write either a poem or a ballad.

However, it is only when the heart and soul get involved that something truly magical takes place. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what changes, but what would ordinarily exist without purpose suddenly becomes full of life. This is something that both English and music professionals can testify to. Musicians regularly spend months recording, planning, and tweaking their songs before releasing an album, and authors of novels might spend months, perhaps years, on a rough draft alone. Their creative work quickly consumes their lives, and a part of their being can be said to permeate the finished product.

Most people, teenagers and adults alike, know what it’s like to become immersed in a song or to sing the lyrics at the top of their lungs in the car or shower. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could experience such passion in our own writing, even if it’s just for a class paper? After all, if we are trying to accomplish the same goal as a musician, shouldn’t we feel the same way they do? And shouldn’t we see a notable, positive change in our writing?

Yes! Heart and soul are essential to a good paper. Professors notice when you care, and, knowing that, you may find yourself hating a blank word document a little bit less.

How can you add some personality to your paper? The best thing you can do is write about the things you love. If you’ve followed the Dallas Cowboys since you were small, but you try to write about the Philadelphia Eagles, whatever distaste you harbor for the Eagles will most likely evidence itself, especially if your professor was born and raised in Pennsylvania. The same is true for any topic you choose; if you love your subject, your writing experience will improve.

Now, I’m not saying you should write about something completely unrelated to the general subject matter just because you love it; your religion professor, for example, likely has no interest in reading a paper about the Dallas Cowboys. However, the ability to take a professor’s prompt and stretch it to its furthest boundaries shows your ability to think critically and, therefore, helps increase the credibility of your words.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, for a paper you love will almost certainly be music to your professor’s ears.

Written by Catherine