Fly like an eagle

Ever wonder what it would be like to see the eagle's point of view? What it would be like to soar on wings like eagles?

Well, wonder no more. This might just be the most awesome thing I've seen in all week.



This is a Japanese Maple tree from Portland's Japanese Garden in Washington Park.

Photo credit: Scott McCracken
Source: Twisted Sifter


Three things I want from my kids

I want them to trust me.
I want them to respect me.
I want them to enjoy me.


Eye of the Beholder

This is my wish for my kids. For them to be in a perpetual state of learning and discovery. To be able to see all things as if those things were new. To be lost in wonderment. To view the world like this.

ps. I recommend watching this video in full screen with the lights out.


Selah Sabbath Sabbatical

At a family conference that I attended early this year, one of the speakers emphasized the importance of rest. He divided the art of resting into three different "S" words.

1. Selah - When you read through the book of Psalms, the word selah is used 71 times. The exact meaning of the word is difficult to translate but most Hebrew scholars recognize it as a break in music. Much like we use rests in musical notation, Selah was a way for the authors of Psalms to tell the readers to stop and listen - to take a break. To employ Selah in the modern life is to take a break from whatever occupies your time. A five minute day dream. A smoke break at work. A time out. A brief moment to catch your breath.

2. Sabbath - This is the day of rest. It is Jewish law, a part of the ten commandments: to honor the sabbath and keep it holy. It was a tradition adopted by the early Christian church. The author of the book of Hebrews reminds readers that there is a Sabbath-rest for the people of God. The concept of a full day of rest has fallen out of favor in modern times as the American workaholic ideals has infected the church. Yet, a day to do nothing is essential - even for those that don't believe in God. Tireless work without a day off is bad for your health. However, for me, it is in the spirit of Hebrews chapter 4 that I am making every effort to enter that rest.

3. Sabbatical - Opposed to a single day of rest, sabbaticals are a prolonged rest. Employers refer to it with varied vocabulary. Vacation. Personal leave of absence. Paid time off. It is a ceasing of all labor. For a few days. A week. A month. A year. In Jewish tradition, people would work a seven year cycle in their fields. They would sow and reap their crops for six years then in the sevenht year - sheviit - they would let their land grow without any agricultural effort. Any fruits that grew naturally during sheviit where available to be picked by anyone. It was a year for the lands to rest as well as a year for the farmers to rest.

Since that conference, those three words have been camping out in my psyche. Selah, Sabbath, Sabbatical. The importance of rest has weighed heavy on my heart. I've mentioned before how I'm taking steps to make Sundays my do-nothing day, my day of rest. My emotional health needs it. Going forward, you may see posts here to honor Selah, a moment to stop and rest. Sabbatical... well, that might be harder to accomplish.

But let me encourage you to rest. Whether you're taking a brief mental vacation to go to your happy place, or embarking on an actual vacation to the Bahamas, rest. Stop and breathe.


for the love of a cold shower

Yes, you heard that correctly. Cold shower. I take cold showers. Before you think I'm insane (and that is a distinct possibility), please understand there are reasons. Consider the following.

1. Increased production of cortisone.

The first that I heard of possible health benefits from bathing in cold water was about 12 years ago. There was a human interest story on some news program that interviewed the five oldest people on earth and asked them what they believed was the secret to their longevity. One of the subjects was a woman that lived in Russia's northern Ural Mountains. She smoked, drank vodka, and ate red meat. However, her little home was next to the Usa River near the river's source. She claimed to bathe in that river every morning. Researchers on the show theorized that the regular immersion in icy temperatures of the river stimulated the production of cortisone for this little old Russian woman.

Cortisone is a hormone released as a response to stress - and the sudden subjection to frigid waters can be stressful. The hormone typically prepares our body for either fight or flight, however it also provides short term pain relief and can be used to ease joint inflammation.

2. Helps overcome fear.

Serious about this one. Last fall I began reading through some of the writings of Joel Runyon and his Impossible Blog. He's a big advocate of Cold Shower Therapy. Yes, therapy. He proposed the concept that fear holds us back from getting started with big projects like opening a new business or losing some weight (a concept that has been seconded by Jon Acuff in his book Start). Joel's solution to conquering that fear is to start with cold showers because the thought of a cold shower could be scary, but once you start doing it you realize that it's OK. In his words, "You might yell out a few Tarzan type screams, but once you decide to do it, you lean into it and you’re not afraid of it anymore."

The act of taking scary cold showers changes the way you think because when you face something else that frightens you, you recognize that feeling because it's the same sensation. You experienced before taking cold showers. And if you conquered the fear once, you can do it again. Joel wrote a fantastic piece about cold shower therapy - you should read it, especially if your fear is holding you back from doing something you've always wanted to do.

3. It's better than coffee.

I know many people who cannot wake up in the morning without the assistance of coffee. I happen to be related to a few of those people. Please don't misunderstand me, coffee is good. I'm not trying to say you need to give up drinking coffee - I still drink it myself.

But, do you know what's cheaper than a daily Starbucks habit? Cold showers. You know what is more effective than any caffeinated beverage? Cold showers. Nothing wakes you up quicker in the morning than standing under a falling stream of water that feels like it has been teleported from deepest and darkest recesses of space (or as Joel Runyon phrased it "we-just-piped-this-water-in-from -Antarctica-because-the-penguins-won’t-swim-in-it-cold"). As a side benefit, it also encourages shorter showers and less less water waste.

4. Burn more calories while showering.

A few years ago, some researchers wrote and published an article through PLOS titled Human Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial Uncoupling Is Associated with Cold Induced Adaptive Thermogenesis. It's an fascinating read (if scholarly scientific studies are your thing) that points out a few interesting ideas.

The article focuses on the role that brown adipose tissue (AKA, brown fat) plays in the human body. Some of it has tangible research. Some of it is theoretical. But the short explanation of the data shows that exposure to cold stimulates brown fat and increases energy use. In other words - it buns more calories. This suggests that cold therapies could be used as a weight loss strategy. Exposing yourself to colder temperatures increases the amount of calories being burned; it accelerates your metabolism.

Part of the reasoning behind the changes to metabolism is due to the difference between your body temperature and the water's temperature. According to the laws of thermodynamics, everything seeks equilibrium. In order to counteract the effect the cold shower has on your internal temperature, your body reacts by increasing heat. That thermogenic process means your body is working harder, improving your ability to burn fat.

5. No more after-shower shock.

Do you know what was my least favorite part of taking hot showers? That moment when I opened the shower curtain to the cold bathroom air. It doesn't matter if the bathroom is heated, the air outside the shower is always colder than the steam and water inside the shower.

But with cold showers, I'm all ready cold when I step out. There is no difference between the frigid water and the chilly air. No bracing shock as you step out of the shower. I'm all ready acclimated to the icy feeling during the shower so I can just step out, towel off, and carry on. Plus, the bathroom mirror isn't steamed over.

There you have it. Cold showers are a good thing. Facing fear and losing weight. I've lost 16 pounds over the past couple of months. Granted, cold shower therapy is not my only weight loss strategy. I'm eating healthier and exercising more. But I believe that my weight loss journey is more successful because I decided to turn the dial down from Mordor to Hoth.


Summer Soundtrack

The kids are all back in school. While summer might technically be in effect, as far as I'm concerned, it ended when the school bells started ringing.

Last year, about this time, I posted the soundtrack to my summer. I'm doing the same thing again. While last year's mix had a predominantly indie rock/Americana feel to it, this year's selection is far more influenced by electronic music. Agree or disagree, but these are the songs I had pumping through my speakers and headphones all summer long.

1. Timeflies - I Choose You - Synth heavy with a little bit of vocal manipulation. Heard this for the first time while driving back from Spokane after a late dinner with friends. With the beat and that "Everybody needs somebody to love" hook, this was an instant cranked up with the windows down song for me.

2. OneRepublic - Counting Stars - OneRepublic is one of those bands that seems to be genetically engineered for radio airplay. Honestly, I don't care. I love this band and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Ryan Tedder is easily one of the most talented songwriters in pop music and if they keep churning out songs like this, I'll remain a fan.

3. Family Force 5 - Chainsaw - If OneRepulic is the band I'm not ashamed to admit I love, FF5 is more of the guilty pleasure. Their music is unquestionably cheesy and ridiculously fun. Their videos are over the top and they're a blast to see live. I can't wait for the next time I can catch one of their shows just so I can see them do this song.

4. Avicii - Wake Me Up - "I can't tell where the journey will end, But I know where to start" This song is easily the anthem for all of my #StartExp peeps. "All this time I was finding myself, And I didn't know I was lost"

5. Capital Cities - Safe and Sound - This song just makes me happy. And that guy's beard? It's fabulous.

6. Citizens - Made Alive - When I look at Christian subculture, I'm encouraged that some of the most creative musice is being written and recorded by worship leaders. Like this one. Funky bass lines and drum rythms. Melodies that are uncommon among Sunday morning services. And again with a fantastic beard that could make all hipsters jealous.

7. We As Human - We Fall Apart - So there once was this little band from Sandpoint Idaho that got themselves a record deal, moved to Nashville, and started releasing some beautiful tunes. I find myself singing along with this every time it's on the radio.

8. Robert DeLong - Happy - Another track that makes me feel exactly the title of this song. It also makes me happy to see music like this coming out of the Seattle area. With artists like this, I long to be home again.

9. John Fogerty - Mystic Highway - Fogerty is a rock legend. His newest album (Wrote A Song For Everyone) pairs him up with musicians from both rock and country to reinvent a few Creedence classics and breathe life into some new songs. The album is one of my favorite albums of the year and this track makes me think of summertime road trips, sunsets, beaches, and campfires.

10. Fellowship Creative - Future Back - Music like this defines what I think summertime music should be. Upbeat. Hopeful. Sing-a-long hooks. Catchy melodies. This. So much this.

11. Fall Out Boy - My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up) - Fall Out Boy is a ridiculous band. And the video for this song is truly bizarre. That being said, this is what I've been listening to while exercizing this summer.

12. Daft Punk - Get Lucky - I'm pretty sure most people were playing this song all summer. Inescapable. I'm a big fan of Daft Punk and this song was not a disappointment. Now I just wish every radio station on planet earth would stop playing it so that the entirety of popular culture doesn't grow sick of it.

The next few songs are honorable mentions as they were released in 2012. But I've listened to them more these past few months than I did when they first came out.

13. Youngblood Hawke - We Come Running - I've been playing this song for much the same reason as Future Back: upbeat, hopeful, and insanely catchy.

14. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with Ray Dalton - Can't Hold Us - I once joked about wanting to slow my car down when I see someone running along the road just to drive behind them with this song volume up at full blast and my windows down. Give them some motivation music. I'll never do it, but it is another song that I've been listening to while working out.

15. Zedd and Foxes - Clarity - Not only one of the songs I listened to the most this summer, Clarity is also one of the most recent additions to the soundtrack of my life. The chorus is also one of the most poignant lyrics in modern EDM. "If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy? If our love's insanity, why are you my clarity?"

ps: I'm waiting for one of those A+B DJs to mash up Clarity and My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark. Those two songs sound like they were meant to blend together.


I never wanted to be famous

There was a phase where I had stars in my eyes. But it was just a phase. At that age when most kids had big plans to get rich or make a name for themselves, I was studying architecture. Learning about building codes and blueprints eclipsed the desire for a spotlight. So, that title might be a bit of a misnomer. I never really wanted to be famous.

As my dreams became more realistic and mildly tangible, I've held on to some wildly absurd aspirations.

I never wanted to be a rock star.
But I always wanted to have friends who were.
I never wanted to be a filmmaker.
But I always wanted to have friends who made movies.
I never wanted to be an accomplished author.
But I always wanted to have friends who wrote books.
I never wanted to have my artwork in a gallery.
But I've always wanted to see art from my friends displayed.
I never wanted to be President.
But I've always wanted to be friends with one.
I never wanted to be instantly recognizable anywhere in the world.
But I've always wanted to be stopped by strangers because they recognize my friend.

As I've grown older and truly discovered who I am, I've come to recognize that I find more personal satisfaction in helping others be successful than I do in my own personal successes.

And maybe that's just how I measure my success. By helping others take that next step, by helping them reach their goals.

I want to be that guy that reads through the liner notes of a new album or the acknowledgments of a book and find my name among the list of people thanked.

I want to be that guy that helps a struggling bar band find a bigger audience.
I want to be that guy who helps an indie director debut their first film at a festival.
I want to be that guy encouraging a talented storyteller to put their words onto paper so that it may someday be read by millions.
I want to be that guy that finds new venues for the starving artist to showcase their work.
I want to be that guy that helps the amateur turn pro.

And that might make me weird.

A couple of weeks ago, I started watching Long Way Round. At the very beginning of the first episode, Ewan McGregor said "I wasn't driven toward being famous."

Yes! I'm not alone.

McGregor's full monologue: "I like being successful because that's a mark of my work. But I wasn't driven toward being famous. I'm glad that's the case because you can be satisfied with success but I don't think you'll ever be satisfied with fame because you'll never be famous enough."

That makes sense to me. I'm willing to let my involvement in the successes of others be the mark of my work. I'm at that point in my life where that is enough for me, and I can be satisfied with that.


a gentle reminder

I will praise you, Lord,
because you rescued me.
You did not let my enemies laugh at me.
Lord, my God, I prayed to you,
and you healed me.
You lifted me out of the grave;
you spared me from going down to the place of the dead.

Sing praises to the Lord, you who belong to him;
praise his holy name.
His anger lasts only a moment,
but his kindness lasts for a lifetime.
Crying may last for a night,
but joy comes in the morning.
When I felt safe, I said,
“I will never fear.”
Lord, in your kindness you made my mountain safe.
But when you turned away, I was frightened.

I called to you, Lord,
and asked you to have mercy on me.
I said, “What good will it do if I die
or if I go down to the grave?
Dust cannot praise you;
it cannot speak about your truth.
Lord, hear me and have mercy on me.
Lord, help me.”
You changed my sorrow into dancing.
You took away my clothes of sadness,
and clothed me in happiness.
I will sing to you and not be silent.
Lord, my God, I will praise you forever.

Psalm 30 - New Century Version (emphasis added by me)



This is what I pictured in my mind when I first heard the lead single to Daft Punk's newest album. I'm glad someone had the intuition to put this video together for me.