Friday, October 21, 2011


I'm sitting here, and it's Friday at 2:30, and by now I usually have my weekly blog post written and sometimes even posted, but for some reason I just haven't come up with a noteworthy idea or topic this week.

This week, however, I feel like maybe instead of delving into something philosophical or psychological or motivational or inspirational, I am just going to tell you a bit about what has made me happy over the past couple days.

  • Watching Boardwalk Empire with Joel. He got really into this show about a month ago, and was halfway through the first season when he finally thought that there actually was a possibility that I might like the show. I started watching, and I loved it, and he caught me up on what I missed, and it truly is an interesting show (of course it is; Martin Scorsese is one of the show's executive producers). Somehow, though, whenever Steve Buscemi's character walks into a room and opens his mouth, I can't help but think about the homeless guy he plays in Mr. Deeds who loves pizza with Oreo cookies and gummy worms on it. I am still trying to work on getting past that.
  • Watching Emmett constantly grow. Last night, I went to a Norwex party at my aunt's house with Emmett, and he kept walking up to my cousin's daughters (he really liked them), putting his head down shyly and awkwardly looping his arms around, and I wondered at how someone so young (he's a year and a half) seems to inherently know when to be bashful and how to show it. Sometimes I wonder how much he learns from observing others and how much he just does instinctively (yes, that ongoing nature/nurture questions is a doozy).
  • Cleaning my house (finally) today. All week I had either no time or no motivation to clean my house, and I guess I was in a kind of disconnected "I-don't-care" mood, so I just cast resentful glares at the dust collecting on my fridge and water spots spreading across my bathroom counter and the dog hair on the floor, and then pretended they didn't exist. I don't know if it was the Norwex party (even though I don't have any Norwex stuff yet), or if I just started to get in a cleaning mood today, or if it's because my sister and brother are coming over tonight, but I went off on a cleaning rampage today--you know, not the typical, standard weekly cleaning, but the super-charged, intensive cleaning. My house is now making me feel happy. There are few things I love more than existing in a clean and tidy house. It is a thing of beauty.
  • Chatting with friends and family. You know you have amazing friends and family when your friends start to feel like family and your family starts to feel like friends. When does that happen? How does that happen? It takes some extremely wonderful people and considerable quality time to build such strong and rewarding relationships; that is what makes them so amazing. When I feel tired or a little melancholy, nothing cheers me up and makes me feel really happy than a great conversation with someone--particularly a friend or family member.
  • Eating. I'm not kidding when I say that for the past week or two, I have been having food dreams every single night. I'm always eating or making food or watching someone else make food or talking about food. I love to even just think about food. After weeks and weeks of hating the sight of food and dreading opening the fridge, I am finally relishing the thought of eating. I'm glad that when I feel this way, my family can benefit because I start to put more thought into what we eat, and so I've been making some really delicious meals now. (But what am I going to make tonight???)
  • The anticipation of Christmas. I love Christmas. Now that the weather is getting colder, I'm starting to sense those little Christmasy, wintery nuances here and there that make me feel at home: the smell of the furnace coming on, the feeling of wearing a thick sweater, breaking out the boots, burning fall- and winter-scented candles, making applesauce (I often do just because it makes my kitchen smell so good), baking (or eating what other people have baked for me) and waking up very warm but for my nose, which is usually cold. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Never Knew That!

As my adult years continue, I am continually amazed at how many things I keep learning.

In one respect, "the more you know, the more you realize you don't know" becomes more and more true and relevant. You learn as you live. You grow as you experience. Giant values and concepts become more understandable. I write about those kinds of things a lot.

Today, however, I'm thinking more about little things like useless facts, the pronunciation or definition of certain words, and the reason why something is the way it is.

Every couple of weeks or so, I find myself exclaiming, "I never knew that!" Every couple of weeks or so, I learn something that I never knew.

For example, less than ten years ago, I found out that Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh is actually male. For my whole life, I had thought Rabbit was a girl. He was always cooking and cleaning, and he kind of had a high-ish voice. Then one day I saw a picture of Rabbit wearing a bow tie, and my whole world came undone. I couldn't believe that for over 20 years, I was wrong about Rabbit's gender. Life-altering? Well, not really, but this realization was still pretty shocking to me.

Here's another example: I've always been a reader: if you've been reading my blog, you can probably tell. Just look at my Books, Books, Books post. Anyway, there are many words that you read in books that you may never hear anyone say, or at least, never pay attention to anyone saying it, or even, always think that everyone else was wrong pronouncing it differently. Consequently, I have thought that many words were pronounced a certain way, when it was me that actually turned out to be wrong. I had always thought that "basil" had a short "a," that "cantaloupe" was pronounced "cantaloop" (I still say it that way because it's more fun, and I also partially have my mother to blame for this one), and that "barrage" was pronounced "bear-idj." Then one day, the adult "bookworm" says a word completely wrong and becomes the laughingstock of the group (that's OK; I'm over it).

I started learning to drive when I was 16, but a few months ago when I went for an oil change, one of the guys asked me to pop the hood and I had to really think about it and look around before I could find the latch! How could I not automatically know that? I sure felt like a doofus, but seriously, I don't remember popping my hood before, or maybe I've only done it once and didn't remember where it was. This situation seems impossible, but guess what? It apparently is possible to have been driving for almost 15 years and still be uncertain about how to pop the hood of your car.

Isn't it amazing that we can go through so many years of our lives without knowing certain little things? Isn't it ironic that we can spend 4+ years of our lives completing post-secondary education and still somehow never hear anyone say the word "lapel" during that time (thus assuming the "a" is long)? Isn't it incredible that we know why deciduous trees' leaves change colour and then fall off every autumn, but we may not know if ornamental pepper plants' peppers are edible? We can write essays on the objectification of women in today's magazines, or we may write policies and procedures for the companies we work for, but maybe we can't quite remember for certain, now that we think of it, how exactly frogs fertilize the female's eggs and how long before they become full-grown frogs. I can bake some pretty amazing oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and make a mean chili, but I sometimes still have to think about and perhaps even look it up to know for sure which nuts or fruits or vegetables or legumes grow from vines, little plants, shrubs or trees.

Not only am I constantly discovering little facts all the time but also there are things I still don't know or haven't experienced. I have only seen a small part of one of the Star Wars movies. I have never seen The Godfather. I have ridden a camel, but never a horse. I've never been to Florida. You might be thinking incredulously, "Seriously? You've NEVER seen Star Wars?"

Maybe all the things I never knew until recently, or still have never experienced, are things you feel like you've always known, or have done a million times (like gone to Florida every year during March break). Or, maybe there are things you've never known that are "old news" to me. Maybe "useless facts" are actually "useless" to you, so you don't really care to know why the wind allows you to see the bottoms of trees' leaves just before it rains.

Why is that?

I always assumed that in our learning lives, we start with certain basics and move on to more complex other words, certain information and facts are like prerequisites to other information and facts. Like if you've been driving for 15 years, you know how to pop the hood of your car. Or if you've had a childhood, you've probably been to Florida. Or if you're alive, you've seen Star Wars. Apparently, that assumption is incorrect.

Do our experiences and personalities and passions lead us to certain information, and perhaps shy us away from knowing other things?

Or is some of what we know, or don't know, completely random? How much of what we know do we unintentionally stumble upon? How much of what we don't know is just based on the type of family we were born into?

How big a role does inquisitiveness play? Do those with the most questions learn the most, or do people who don't really question things still learn just as much, just indirectly?

I am really inquisitive, but there are still so many facts that I don't know, and am looking forward to finding out! I love the fact that no matter how much I know, there are still so many little bits of information and facts that I have yet to discover! Learning, to me, never gets old.

So, thank goodness for Google. And the Discovery channel. What did people do without these wonderful information outlets years ago???

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thankful for "The Whole Love" of Music

Over the past few years, I have developed quite the affinity and respect for Wilco. Jeff Tweedy and the rest of Wilco together create extremely interesting, varied, sometimes energetic, sometimes just plain emotional music that sometimes carries on for a long time (they have some tracks in excess of ten minutes)—different than anything else I’ve ever heard before. Some of Wilco’s songs are perfect for fuelling the energy of a party (“Heavy Metal Drummer,” “I Might”), and others are the kind you need to listen to by yourself in your car, so the lyrics can be tucked around you and all of the interesting sounds can serenade you alone (“Country Disappeared,” “Ashes of American Flags”).

Emmett in his Wilco concert merch from Joel: "Wilco Loves Your Baby"

Wilco just released their new album called The Whole Love on September 27. I love it. I was thoroughly impressed and have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the album. I thought that I would write a post about Wilco and their new album this week.

I started with going to their website, and the first thing my eyes locked on was a large link that read, “Please Read Henry’s Story.” I thought, How nice; probably a story about some fan. I complied to the site’s request and read Henry’s story.

Well, Henry’s story ended up being an emotional one about a boy named Henry. He was a musician at heart, inherently, from birth, and he also happened to love Wilco.

He died when he was 18. His mother wrote this beautiful story about him, and her story ended with a very moving description of the way that Wilco and The Whole Love impacted her, in light of Henry and his way-too-soon death.

Having read that story, I have decided to turn down another side trail (which leads to a huge general expanse of meaning instead of something smaller and specific), instead of just reviewing Wilco’s new album. Yes, it’s awesome. Yes, you should listen to it. Yes, you should listen to all of Wilco’s albums because they are all awesome.

There’s more. Down the side trail I’ve decided to take, I see the bigger picture. I see how many of us, in many different ways, respond to music that our fellow human brothers and sisters have created—it impacts us.

We were created to react to music, to feel rejuvenated by music and to be inspired by music.
I have always known that people connect with some music, but perhaps not others, and that’s maybe because of the way we were wired “musically.” In some way or another, we were created to connect with music. 

What Henry’s story reminded me of is that music also brings us together (just like Henry and his mother connected with each other in a certain way through Wilco’s music). Music creates community. Music can facilitate connections between people that would have never existed without it. Lyrics can “hit home” and make the listener feel like he or she is not alone but instead connected with others who feel the same way.

Because of Henry’s story and its connection with music, many people have connected with Henry’s mother. Many people have been inspired by the story; in fact, Wilco also has a link on their site to donate to Henry’s fund, a non-profit organization that provides help for youth age 12-20 who have drug addictions.

The impact of music doesn't stop there. Not only are we wired to connect with certain music, and consequentially, with other people through that music, music lives on past those connections to play a significant role in perpetuating itself:

Music facilitates a passionate cycle of creativity.

Songs impact and inspire souls to create something—like more music—that impacts other souls into reacting another way, and the cycle continues. Songs can dig down to your guts, strum your heart strings, make your head tingle and your eyes water and your soul feel more alive than it has in many months, or perhaps many years. Emotions and inspiration and passion can be transformed into music. Music breeds feeling. Feeling grows into love. Love keeps us alive.

Wilco in particular is doing exceptionally well in connecting stories, experiences and people by creating music and lyrics that envelop the soul, excite the mind and inspire others to action.

This Thanksgiving, I’m very thankful for music – I’m thankful that God added music into the mix when He created us and this world.