Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Christian Playlist

Since I wrote about bad messages in music, I wanted to post about some positive messages in music as well! I’ve been listening to Christian music for years, even when I wasn’t involved in anything God related, just because I found it to be happy and uplifting. Now it is what I listen to most of the time because I try to avoid the bad messages in other forms of popular music.

When I was young I used to think ewwwww, Christian music! And it conjured up images of people crying at concerts and things like that, which I found ridiculous but I now get it completely. I’ve cried at some of these songs myself because they are so moving, or they speak to me at just the right moment when I need it. They encourage positive values, loving yourself, loving others, being caring, helpful, generous. Loving God, respecting him, worshiping. Some of it is slow and some of it is music that makes you get up and dance! Whenever I listen to this music it truly does cheer me up. I can’t tell you how many times I was having a terrible day or experience and I turned on the Christian station and heard just the right thing at the right time to lift me up and help me keep going.

So here in my current playlist I’ve been playing quite a bit! Go listen to them now!

*Ready or Not by Britt Nicole

I'm not ever selling out
A love out loud is what it's all about
Giving everything to see the lost get found
Yeah, it's going down

You, you, you want me to take my light, light
Fit it in your box, right?
I want you to look me in the eye

Ready or not
Here, here, here, here I come
I'm about to show you where the light comes from

*Write Your Story by Francesca Battistelli

They say
You can give the blind their sight
And You can bring the dead to life
You can be the hope my soul's been seekin'

I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I do, that You can make me new, oh

I'm an empty page
I'm an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won't You write Your story on my heart

*Speak Life by TobyMac

Though it's crazy, amazing
We can turn a heart with the words we say
Mountains crumble with every syllable
Hope can live or die

So speak Life, speak Life
To the deadest darkest night
Speak life, speak Life
When the sun won't shine and you don't know why
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope
You speak love, you speak...
You speak Life, You speak Life

*Your Love by Brandon Heath

*Shine Your Way by Owl City

*Starry Night by Chris August

*Architecture by Jonathan Thulin

*More of You by Colton Dixon

*Ready, Set, Go by Royal Tailor

*Jesus in Disguise by Brandon Heath

*Born Again by Newsboys

*You Invite Me In by Meredith Andrews (first Christian song that ever stuck in my heart years ago!)

*Drifting by Plumb

*What I’ve Overcome by Fireflight

*Walk on the Water by Britt Nicole

Awesome, uplifting songs that really understand our physical human needs and spiritual needs as well. Hope that you enjoy them like I do.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sexual messages in new country music

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for awhile but like everything, it takes time and I get so busy with all my other responsibilities! However having been listening to radio today with my son, I’m compelled to write. It always strikes me about the messages in music today. I really wish there would be a return to good old-fashioned values, but it seems to be constantly going in the opposite direction.

I used to love modern country music and listened to it a lot when I was younger. In a world of pop and rap where the messages were not that great country was pretty wholesome (when I was growing up anyway). It talked about real life things and was relatable. The messages in country music today though – wow. I’m not sure when it hit me, probably a few weeks ago. I don’t listen to much pop or country anymore because I find modern Christian music has much more uplifting messages and they really are “feel good” songs. So when I want to listen to music that is generally where I turn, but that is for another post J

Back to the country – here is what I see. There is a complete glorification of both drunkenness and promiscuity. One day there was a slew of songs in a row by male artists, and I kid you not, EVERY SINGLE ONE had references to sex and most were about sex with strangers or random people. I was really appalled when I actually stopped to listen to the lyrics, because most of the time, even when we are singing along, we don’t necessarily notice the message! When you strip away the music and look at the message it really is shocking in comparison to what it used to be. Today again I turned on the radio and it was glaringly obvious. Funny how once you notice something, you see it everywhere.

I wanted to excerpt a bunch of these songs as a comment because I think they really speak for themselves. This is the “young country” and really reflects the attitudes of this current generation. It’s hard to say whether these artists really believe what they are singing or if they are just pandering to the audiences who want this kind of material. In any case, it has really turned me away from country music and it’s sad. As a woman, I really can’t condone songs that glorify using women for sex. Even sadder is that women today are buying into the message and many times are complying with these ideas and attitudes because they believe that is what sexy means, that is what being a woman means – to be “hot” and have men falling over themselves to want to tear your clothes off and ravage you. It’s such a terrible message.

Without further ado…the excerpts (pretty much what I heard straight in a row today).

That’s My Kind of Night by Luke Bryan

You got that sun tan skirt and boots
Waiting on you to look my way and scoot
Your little hot self over here
Girl hand me another beer, yeah!

All them other boys wanna wind you up and take you downtown
But you look like the kind that likes to take it way out
Out where the corn rows grow, row, row my boat
Floatin’ down the Flint River, catch us up a little catfish dinner
Gonna sound like a winner, when I lay you down and love you right
Yeah, that’s my kind of night!

Might sit down on my diamond plate tailgate
Put in my country ride hip-hop mixtape
Little Conway, a little T-Pain, might just make it rain

You can hang your t-shirt on a limb
Hit that bank and we can ease on in
Soak us up a little moonlight
You know I know what you like, yeah!

Sweet Little Somethin by Jason Aldean (interestingly, he is now divorced for cheating on his wife)

I need a sweet little somethin' like you girl
Standing there red hot, got that little tank top
Looking like you must be straight out of the country
Honey what I wouldn't do for a sweet little something like you
I see you dancing over there with your girlfriends
Got to find showing off that sun tan
You keep smiling, might smile to me
Like you read my mind

Burnin’ It Down by Jason Aldean

You slip your finger through the tear in my t-shirt
You stirrin' up dirty in the back of my mind
You keep on flirtin' cause you know that it's workin'
You stuck in my head girl writing the lines
Couldn't sing this song without you if I tried
Let's light it up like it's our last night

We're just hanging around
Burnin' it down
Sippin' on some cold Jack Daniel's
Jammin' to some old Alabama with you, baby
Laying right here naked in my bed
I'm just doing my thing
You love it when I sing
Say it makes you feel like an angel
We about to get a little tangled up right about now
So girl let's keep burnin' it down

Keep Them Kisses Coming by Craig Campbell

You got your hair down
You got that look in your eye
That says come here and get me boy
Lay me down and love me just right, yeah
Ain’t goin no where
I got a bottle of wine
I got nothin’ but time on my hands
And I’m gonna be your man tonight, ah yes I am

I can’t imagine doin’ nothin but what I’m doin
Just layin’ round tangled up with you
We got our buzz on sippin’ on a little something
I need your lovin’
Just keep them kisses comin’

It’s been a long week
I’ve been missin’ me some you
All I wanna do is get your lips on mine
Girl if you only knew

Yeah by Joe Nichols

It was just another night in the hayfield
'Til she climbed down off of them four wheels,
Yeah, yeah

Soon as that sundress hit the headlights
Every tailgate way out there was like yeah, yeah

She started walking over to me
Like she already knew me
Sat down right beside me
And asked if I was here alone

And I said
Yeah, yeah
Like I was nodding right along to a song on the radio
Yeah, yeah
Girl, how could I say no?
Whatever you're drinking, that's what I'm drinking
Girl, you're calling the shots tonight
Whatever you're thinking, that's what I'm thinking
Tell me what you got in mind

So I can say yeah, yeah
Payback by Rascal Flatts

Front of the line, straight past the bouncer
Lookin' so fine that the band announced ya
Gotcha tight jeans on and your hair done right
All your girlfriends say we throwin' down tonight
Let me guess, somebody done you wrong
And you're lookin' for a way to get your feel good on
Get some pictures on the Instagram and show him what he's missin'
Straight no chaser, girl on a mission

Mmm, baby I could be your payback
Hey, gonna help you get your sway back
Take ya to the dance floor, I'ma lean ya way back
Yeah, I'ma lean ya way back

Hope You Get Lonely Tonight by Cole Swindell

I could go for a tipsy tailgate kiss,
baby taste the moonshinin' off of your lips,
I want to see that want ya smile,
still got me hooked been hooked for awhile.
If you got a bottle you ain't opened yet,
and an empty spot beside ya in ya bed,
if you got some room for a little regret,
let me know girl I've already left

If you're feelin' what I'm feelin' let's mix it up,
you got my number baby hit me up,
if you need a little late night pick me up,
I hope you get lonely tonight,
we ain't gotta make up just kiss me,
we could straight up blame it on the whiskey,
you ain't gotta wake up and miss me, no,
I hope you get lonely tonight

That’s Where It’s At by Dustin Lynch

It ain't in a high rise looking for a good time shutting down the city lights
It ain't in the water floating like a bobber soaking up that hot sunshine
As good as it gets, no that ain't where it is

It's at 2 a.m. when she's reachin' over
Faded t-shirt hanging off her shoulder
Dressed up, her hair down, in a ball cap
Yep yep, as long as I get that
Sweet little something late night kiss
On a plane or a train or way back in the sticks
I swear, if she's there, that's where
Yep yep, that's where it's at

Small Town Throwdown by Brantley Gilbert

It's a small town throwdown
It's time to tallboy up, let them tailgates down
And man, it's on tonight, ridin' 'til the morning light
Crank that country up loud, it's a small town throwdown

Oh, we 'bout to throwdown, son

Now we got a field full of daisy dukes
Round here we know how to grow 'em
Rockin' little body and long tan legs
Sure ain't scared to show 'em, no

Show a little somethin', girl


Somethin’ Bad by Miranda Lambert

Bout to tear it up down in New Orleans
Just like a real-life Thelma & Louise
If the cops catch up, they’re gonna call it Kidnapping
Got a real good feelin’ something bad about to happen

Stand on the bar, stomp your feet, start clapping
Got a real good feeling something bad about to happen
Drinks keep coming, throw my head back laughing
Wake up in the morning’ don’t know what happened
Whoa… Something bad

Day Drinkin’ by Little Big Town

Blame it on the work day
Blame it on the heatwave
Blame it on the tick-tock moving too slow
Blame it on any old thing you want to
Ready get set, baby here we go

Don't want to wait 'til the sun's sinking
We could be feeling alright
I know you know what I'm thinking
Why don't we do a little day drinking
Day drinking, day drinking
Why don't we do a little day drinking

So there you go…that is mainly just top 20 current songs in country right now…I think the message is pretty overwhelming. Drinking, random sexual encounters, brawls…that is the new “ideal” to today’s youth. Makes me even more mindful of my own children and giving them the right direction, and even as adults, keeping ourselves away from toxic moral messages.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Garage Sale Tales

So without getting into any long back story, if you followed my blog you know last year my husband and I separated. Now, we are attempting to work things out and a lot has changed. We have plans to move next summer. We have wanted to move for years and are finally starting the process and pulling the pin. It's exciting, but we have a lot to do before then, not least of which is saving money and selling our home. We are trying to sock away as much money as possible and it is going well so far since beginning on this plan about a month ago. My husband sold his vehicle, and some of his large items from when he was living alone. I started lowering any possible bills I could and paying down debts. Now our next big goal is getting rid of random “stuff” so we can sell our home. We decided to have a garage sale. I was in a major time crunch and had a week to prepare.

I’ve never had a garage sale before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I have been to a few, but not many. Not to mention, holding a sale is different from shopping at one! I of course wanted to be successful and to make money while getting rid of as much stuff as possible since most won’t be moving with me.

Well the whole thing was definitely an experience. With my husband not around to help most of the week, I had to drag stuff from our crawlspace alone and there was A LOT. My back was killing me for days!!! Nothing had been sorted and of course I had to price it all. Every day when my son was napping and at night when kids were in bed all I did was garage sale stuff. I was so burned out by the time Friday came! I learned a lesson not to wait til the last minute to do all that at once. I tend to underestimate the amount of time it takes to do stuff. Yikes.

So my husband helped make tables and get the big stuff out. I was so afraid my sale would flop and I would have killed myself for nothing. I didn’t want to price too high but also not too low. I was completely stressing! Not to mention sorting through stuff I got all sentimental and that was hard on its own. One night I just about had a breakdown! I realized, it’s ok to save some things, and also that not everything was going to sell anyway. So I held back the things that really had sentimental value to me (but not much monetary value) and put the rest out.

I’m not good counting cash and was paranoid about mishandling the money when people paid. In fact at first I told my husband he would be running the sale since I did most of the work all week!!! Didn’t work out that way though :P I wasn’t sure how much money I even needed to start with or how much change to have. It was a lot to figure out. I had to advertise and wanted as many people to come as possible. Being later in the year and chilly weather I didn’t know if people would even want to be out and about. However when I went to post my ads, I saw a whole bunch of other people doing garage sales the same days and so I figured, that was a good sign.

In the end, how did it go? It was a smashing success!!! I made even more money than I intended. We were shooting for $500 and I made $730. Yeah!!! Money to put away for our move!!!

So here are the things I learned when throwing my first garage sale…

1)     PLAN WAAAAAY IN ADVANCE!!! Do not wait until the week before. Start months before gathering items, sorting and storing them. This will save time and body aches in the end when you go to price your items. I had so many piles going when I was sorting (stuff to sell, stuff to donate, stuff that was trash, etc.) it became really confusing and my house looked like a tornado hit it for the whole week (still does because I just started cleaning up!)

2)     BE PREPARED COMPLETELY THE NIGHT BEFORE. My husband had done garage sales with his parents and had said “People will slowly trickle in, we can finish up the last stuff in the morning.” WRONG!!! There were people practically knocking down my door at 9 AM when we opened, which left us rushing around like chickens with our heads cut off for an hour or more.

3)     HAVE SOMEONE TO HELP YOU. We intended on one of us working the sale while the other watched kids, and taking turns. NOPE. Didn’t work out that way most of the time! I figured there would be people coming and going but not crowded or very busy. There were a few times there were probably 10 people walking around my garage at once! And inevitably, the people who were buying bags and bags worth of stuff tended to somehow all show up at the same time. It was definitely more than 1 person could handle alone and often we both wound up out there working together.

4)     ADVERTISE. I knew this was important. I advertised on Craigslist and several other places locally, as well as numerous signs around our neighborhood directing people to our sale. In my ads, I made it seem as inviting as possible, and offered homemade cookies for free to patrons (which I did bake!) I listed several of the things I had for sale and posted a couple general pictures so people could see it was well stocked and organized to entice them to come check it out.

5)     PRICE STUFF WELL. I didn’t want to deal with a bunch of change and so I only had a few things priced at 50 cents and nothing at 25 cents. I figured if it was only selling for 25 cents I would just donate it and save myself the trouble. So most of my stuff was $1 or higher, I tended to price items at $1, $2, $3, $5, $10, $20 etc. Pricing everything at 25 cents will surely sell it but you won’t make much. Then again pricing stuff at almost new prices won’t sell it either. Do a little research and find out what some stuff is worth and price it at 1/3 to 1/4 of the new cost (unless it is something you KNOW will sell in your area for higher. For example I sold 2 new ATV helmets for half the new price, and a couple other new items for half the retail price.)

6)     MANY PEOPLE WILL HAGGLE. I didn’t really intend on that since my prices were all clearly marked. Some people simply paid but about half of them haggled. I generally gave them a good deal and marked the items down a bit just because I wanted them gone. However there was one thing that really noticed that struck me. It seemed that the people who haggled the most were those who you could tell had the most money (e.g. pull up in expensive cars, looking at high ticket items). Generally the people who had less money haggled less, which is the opposite of what I expected. My only explanation for this is that people with less income are at garage sales to get things they need and know they are getting a good deal on those items. People with money show up because they want to get new or expensive stuff for $1. 

7)     YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT PEOPLE WILL BUY. I had a feeling that people would buy all kinds of stuff, because I ama thrift store shopper and have seen some strange things people buy. So I put all kinds of stuff out there, both quality and “junk”. One person’s junk is another’s treasure. You never know what purpose someone needs something for. We put out some old stained rugs for $2, because I figured someone may need them for a garage or shop or something. Sure enough someone bought one. I put out half burned candles and makeup and nail polish, a somewhat chewed dog bone, stained snow pants, stuffed animals, old ceiling fans we had removed from our house and replaced. All sold! Then some of the stuff I was SURE people would want (a full dish set, nice, new clothing, linens, random collectibles) barely sold or not at all. Point is, set it out because you never know what someone may want or need.

8)     BE FRIENDLY BUT NOT TOO FRIENDLY. It’s awkward as heck to walk around some stranger’s garage without them even saying hi. I greeted people as they came in but then left them to browse until they had questions or if they just wanted to talk. I think the people who wish to talk to you will make it known, but no one likes people being pushy. Also, don’t just sit at a table and stare down customers (especially if there is only 1 person walking around). It is uncomfortable for everyone. I tried to busy myself with something while people were shopping so they didn’t feel the pressure of my stare on them!

9)     SECOND DAYS ARE NOT NEARLY AS PROFITABLE. Our Saturday sale was crazy busy, almost no one left without buying and we made $570 that day alone. Then Sunday was very slow and half the people left without buying despite the fact that items were half off. We still made another $150 but it wasn’t really worth it at the end of the day to have sat there to sell a few things for peanuts. When we calculated a couple hour period where only 2 people came and one lady bought $1 pair of shoes and that is all, we laughed. As Napoleon Dynamite says “That’s like a dollar an hour!”

Now, I know everyone wants a deal (I love getting good deals!) and overall I had a fun time and good experience (although very exhausting!) Here are the things I found fun and then the things I found slightly irritating at my garage sale.

The fun stuff: Hearing people’s stories, seeing people get happy when they found something they really liked or needed, someone showing gratitude (one lady told me I made delicious cookies, and that was really nice. Out of about 50 cookies I made that disappeared she was the only one to comment to me, so that made me feel good.) Another lady bought bags full of baby items for an upcoming adoption. She was so excited and talking about the baby and it made me happy to hear her excitement and see how glad she was to find all the stuff she needed at our sale. In the end I also had a huge box of free blankets she took with her and I was glad to give her some things free for being so cheerful and nice.

Now, the crappy stuff: When people scoffed at certain prices (one of my first customers balked loudly at my price on board games while buying 2 pairs of $1 pajamas, then about an hour later, a couple people came in and bought some of the games…go figure), when people were completely ungrateful or even rude after bargaining with us (one guy picked out $120 worth of high ticket items which were half off, so $60. He then informed me he only had $37. After my husband and I exchanged glances we decided to give the items to him for his $37 and be good Samaritans about it, thinking he’d be excited. He didn’t seem at all happy as he carted away some of his essentially free high priced items and sort of acted like he was entitled to them all. It was extremely off putting and offensive to us. So the lesson – don’t act like a jerk when someone gives you a good deal. Oh, and don’t pick out really expensive stuff when you have no money to pay for it!) Oh, I also didn't like when people acted as if we owed them something (one lady haggled on everything from 50 cent items to $40 items. She bought them all but afterward, she told my husband, “you can take those out to my car.” WOW, no asking, no please, just “bring them to me.” Manners, anyone? And perhaps the worst (this happened to my husband, thankfully) I had some books on various mental health issues in a box with other books. Apparently a women looked at a book entitled "Surviving Schizophrenia" and turned to my husband and said "So, who here has schizophrenia????" Woah!!! What on earth did she expect for an answer??? "Oh, me! What do you want to know about it?" I have to really question the common sense (or lack of) that some people possess!!!

So now it is done and I am a bit richer. I am patting myself on the back for all my hard work that paid off!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Caffeine, anxiety and our mental state

So I would say it is pretty much common knowledge that caffeine isn’t the best thing for us, especially in large doses. I was never a huge consumer of caffeine when I was younger, I would drink soda here and there and coffee and tea occasionally. In the last few years I got to where I would drink a cup of coffee a day as a “treat” full of sugary creamer (ok, yeah, I have a major sweet tooth.)

But when I had my son a year and a half ago, I started drinking mass quantities of coffee every day because I HAD to just to be able to stay awake. I’d go on about 4 hours of broken sleep a night dealing with a new infant, and having to take care of my him, plus my two other kids. It was killer. I needed that “pick me up” just to be able to get through the day and not fall asleep half way through. I would regularly drink 4-5 cups of coffee a DAY. It didn’t really seem to have too many adverse effects at the time, perhaps because I became so acclimated to it that it didn’t hit me anymore and I didn’t notice. Granted I was stressed constantly so maybe I attributed all that to the new baby. I’m sure the coffee made my sleep patterns worse, in retrospect.

Now, I have a better sleep schedule and get more sleep every night (although sometimes still broken since my son sleeps in my bed.) I stopped drinking so much coffee, but find that I still enjoy my morning cup of coffee (flavor wise anyway). However my body is saying NO. I now realize that any time I drink coffee it has a terrible effect on my nervous system. My anxiety level begins to rise as my heart rate gets rapid and I start to feel jittery, my stomach starts clenching up and my nervousness increases. It’s been bad enough that I have had to, a few times, take some Ativan to counteract the physiological effect on my body and get my heart rate to slow and the jitters to stop. That was the case this morning, which is why this is on the top of my brain at the moment.

So, it brings me almost full circle to talk about our moods, and caffeine’s effects on our mental state. Here I am, trying to relax, with my nice warm coffee in the morning and it is doing the absolute opposite to me – getting my body so riled up that it cannot calm itself. YIKES. A crappy, crappy feeling.

There are so many things that we do to ourselves (whether it is physical, such as drinking caffeine, smoking, doing drugs, eating unhealthy food loaded with sugar and chemicals). We don’t even think most of the time about the effect it has on both our body and our mind. Deep down we may KNOW “Caffeine causes anxiety” or “Sugar in large amounts makes me gain weight” or “Too much salt depletes water stores.” Yet we keep on drinking our coffee, eating our candy bars and chips and cookies. A lot of times it is because they are easy, and sadly, cheaper than “real food” like fruit and vegetables.

So one of my goals is to start doing more research into the nutrition element and how it affects our mental health. There is not nearly enough pertinence given to it, and my last counselor mentioned this. She was quite knowledgeable about nutrition (she said that she had ADD and has to manage her food to help manage her mental state.) She noted that it is important for everyone, especially those with a mental condition to monitor what goes into our bodies. I never really gave much credence to that before. I figured “If I’m not overweight, I’m fine.” We don’t stop to think about how intricate the human body is and how delicately it is maintained.

I remember taking an in-depth anatomy and physiology class years back and learning just how involved all these molecular processes are. It’s absolutely amazing how all these things function together. For example, the brain’s primary nutrient is glucose. Without enough glucose, it cannot work to its full capacity and can indeed die. A lot of the glucose we get comes from our food supplies (in various forms). So, if we have a bad diet, let’s say our brain gets too much glucose or not enough. Do you think that will have an effect on how our brain works? Surely. But people don’t think about these things. Today, so much emphasis in the mental health field is placed on medication and managing these things with medication. I’m going to assert that other things are just as important, perhaps even MORE important than medication. But, that is a post for another time J

Just throwing some info out there for you all, to watch how much caffeine you drink, and also to watch the processed food you put into your body. It affects you whether you recognize it or not.