Todd Boss

If you’ve never seen animated poetry, I am delighted to be the first to introduce you. There is something so perfectly gelled in the combination of short film and poetry; I’ve never seen one that I don’t like. But I have a particular fondness for the poems of Todd Boss, and so here is one of his lovely pieces put into pictures by Emma Burghardt and lulled to music by Debra Barsha.

Also, you should check out Motion Poems, because they are responsible for a great deal of this artwork. That organization connects film makers with poets and adds a little magic.

Secret Garden

I hate to admit this, but when choosing artwork to post on this page I often run through potential objections that could be made to a certain piece. I worry that people will find the artwork uninspiring, confusing, too literal or too abstract, and I can make myself crazy that way. There are many reasons I can think of that someone might not fully appreciate this gorgeous song by Secret Garden, but I can’t help myself. I’ve listened to it a lot of times now (mostly in an unsuccessful search for a youtube version without a nature montage), and every time it has the same effect on me. It feels like entering cathedral, like watching world class ballet, like meditating, like being prayed for. If you’re very offended by religious themes, you might want to skip this one, but if you’re even a little open to it, please give it a try. It really is lovely.

If you love this music like I do, you might want to click here and peruse some of their albums.

Ray LaMontagne

So this is two super sentimental posts in a row. I promise I’ll come up with something gritty or angsty next week. Probably. For right now, you must listen to this gorgeous song by Ray LaMontagne. It is the kind of song that makes me want sketch out a gentle romantic story, write a long lovely poem, or kiss a certain someone.

You will find this and other beautiful songs on the album God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise. Which you should buy just because that is an freakin’ awesome title for an album. But also because the music is fantastic. I’ve liked this song since I first heard it on Cities 97, but I really fell in love with it when they were playing the whole album on the patio of Chateau St. Croix while that certain someone and I were there drinking wine to celebrate our 8th anniversary.

Turning it Over

I’m all on top of the new year goals/hopes thing that I do usually sometime in early February. The idea is not exactly to set goals that I can meet on my own steam, it’s more to express hopes that I can do something about, but need a little involvement from above to fully complete. I like to look at last year’s goals/hopes first, to see how they held up.

Take a sabbath every week.
I’ve been more or less successful at this. With the baby, my sabbath looks like about 90 minutes at a diner eating pancakes every Saturday. The weeks I missed going to pancakes were weeks we had company or Ben couldn’t watch the baby. Because of how much company we had this year, I’m now working on going out to pancakes (by myself) even if we do have people over.

Have a date night every week.
This one didn’t go as well. We did go on many dates, and probably a lot more than a typical couple with a new baby, but we’ll try to do better next year.

Exercise at least three times a week.
Nailed it. I went through Power 90 after my surgery, did about a month of P90X, and now I workout five or six days a week at the YWCA (which is awesome).

Write 500 new words five days a week.
I’ve averaged 565 words every weekday since March 21st, which is when I started writing again after the baby was born.

Sell 10,000 books.
Not even close. Sad, sad day. So far, none of my ideas to sell books have sold very many books, but luckily, I’m not out of ideas just yet. Onward ho.

So, kinda mixed results last year, but I’m still pretty proud of myself considering I was dealing a new baby and a small case of cancer. We’ll call it a win. Here’s what I’d like to try next year.

Finish the book I’m working on. I have a workable draft, and if I make good on Pearl’s naps, I think it might be doable.

Be able to play “Boston” by Augustana on the piano. Right now I’m working hard to pick out “twinkle twinkle,” so this is a big goal. But I have an awesome keyboard to practice on, and an even awesomer mother-in-law who I think might help me out.

Finish the YWCA indoor triathlon. For this I must learn how to swim a lap with some kind of efficiency or at least an itty bit of dignity. I don’t think my dog-paddle laps are going to cut it.

I will also be declining to weigh myself at all this year outside of the doctor’s office. Since it’s hard for me not to care about how much I weigh, I can help myself care less by not knowing how much I weigh. I want to stay in tune with my body and judge my health and fitness by how my body feels.

Sell some freakin’ books.

Spend as much time as I can with the most beautiful little girl in the world, who just happens to be my daughter. See the picture below for undeniable proof.

Pearl the Minnesotan Princess
Pearl the Minnesotan Princess

Sabbaths, date nights, and daily exercise are still a thing, they are just incorporated enough into my regular life that I don’t feel like they need a resolution of their own.

A Hollow Space

In May of this year I had surgery on my throat. Just a pesky case of thyroid cancer. I was not informed that this surgery would steal my voice away, but I was barely able to speak for two or three months. Thankfully, my speaking voice has returned and I’ve even done a couple of spoken word performances post-surgery.

My singing voice, on the other hand, is still AWOL. I can kind of muddle through a tune, but there are hiccups and cracks and sudden descents into notes I had no designs on. There’s not a lot of control involved in my singing, and after two or three songs I get the very strange sensation that my vocal chords are tired. I still sing almost every day, when I play my guitar and worship God while my baby scoots around the living room floor. Despite the rasping unpredictability of my voice, I still find that I feel the presence of God while I play and sing. It reminds me of the first few times I plucked out a tune on the guitar. I only knew four chords, and my abilities extended far enough to do one strum for each chord change, after a few seconds of meticulous finger-placement. I found that God was willing to show up to that stuttery song too. He really doesn’t seem very particular, at least when I’m alone (or only in the presence of un-critical infants).

There is a kind of freedom in knowing that my singing voice sucks. I spend no time wondering if my voice is any good, because I know for sure that it isn’t. So I can just sing, and I can just worship, and I don’t worry about it. I think of my voice singing this song as a kind of placeholder for music; it creates a hollow space that other people can fill with their voices, that the guitar can fill with its chords, that God can fill with his love.