The Most Calming Album

Music’s effect on the brain

I once asked a friend of mine if she believed that the media you expose yourself to can have a negative effect on you. She said no, and since then her opinion has slightly changed. I still believe your input can definitely affect your output, though.

With that said, knowing my personality, there are certain things I avoid exposing myself to. I don’t watch horror movies, I avoid listening to artists with bad messages (i.e. Marilyn Manson), and I don’t read really dark books (iDrakula wasn’t what I’d classify as “really dark.” It was kind of a spoof).

These are self-imposed restrictions, by the way. When I was teenager, I was really into paranormal fiction, and my mom made no gripes about buying these books. Then one day I woke up, looked at my book shelf, and tore these books apart. Then I recycled the mess of covers and pages, because I care about the environment. (I kept the Twilight Saga, though, because those books are tame and don’t dwell too heavily on mythology).

Aaaanyway, this is supposed to be a music post. I think music really taps into something deep within our hearts/minds/souls. An upbeat pop song can put you in a good mood. Listening to fast music while you’re working out can help you keep pace. Listening to a violin and piano duet can make you cry. Why? What is this mysterious thing about music that makes us react to it so viscerally?

Lanny Donoho touched on this subject in his book God’s Blogs, which I plan on writing about in the near future. So for now, I’m going to tell you which album has had the most soothing effect on me.

Around the time I was diagnosed with panic disorder, worship band Jesus Culture released their album Come Away. A friend of mine recommended that I check it out, so I bought it and listened to it.

It was recorded live, so you hear the crowd between songs. Indeed, the album does have that spontaneous, live quality to it, as if you’re there in person. The songs were so encouraging and calming for me that I started listening to the album on my commute to school, and in my room as I got ready in the morning, and I would even play it looped on my iHome as I slept at night.

It’s not an album for music aficionados, per se. If you’re looking for a more artful and experimental worship album, I’d recommend Gungor’s Ghosts Upon the Earth. Come Away has songs with repetitive lyrics and melodies, and some songs are pretty long–but that’s kind of the point. The album isn’t meant to entertain you–it’s meant to uplift you and bring you into God’s presence. And it succeeds in doing just that.

My favorite songs on the album are “Rooftops,” “My Soul Longs For You,” and “One Thing Remains.” All the musicians and singers in this band are very talented and “tuned” to each other and to the Holy Spirit. Worship music can be done one of two ways. You can have a set list and simply stick to the set list, without leaving any room for spontaneous worship and alternate songs. Or, you can have no set list at all, or just have a basic idea of what songs you want to sing, and then let things go onstage as God leads.

Come Away has been my go-to album when I feel anxious, scared, and overwhelmed. If you fall into any of those categories, I’d recommend this album for you.

~Nikita

What albums do you listen to when you are stressed out? 

Is Facebook a Skill?

keep-calm-i-m-a-pro

I jumped on the LinkedIn bandwagon around 2 years ago, I want to say. I figured it was a professional social network, it was starting to gain momentum, and I’d best partake in this if I wanted to make good connections.

Now that I’ve graduated college, I’ve been taking LinkedIn a lot more seriously. I’ve applied for a few jobs via LinkedIn (they tell you how many others also applied–I’d rather not know!) and I’ve made some good connections. One of the features I like on the site is that people can endorse one another for various skills. I enjoy endorsing people, and some have kindly endorsed me, but I’m a little perturbed by the fact that my most endorsed skill is…

Facebook.

I’m not even sure why I listed it as a skill–it’s kind of like listing Microsoft Word. If you don’t know how to use it, you probably don’t own a computer. I guess with the social media work I’ve done, it was important to utilize Facebook in a professional manner.

But is Facebook really a skill? The people who endorsed me for Facebook are all friends with me on Facebook. Is it a humorous way of saying I spend a little too much time there? (Which I don’t, at least not anymore, except when I’m playing Candy Crush Saga or Pyramid Solitaire Saga….)

I should hope I don’t bear any virtual resemblance to this young lady.

But in all seriousness, what are the merits of Facebook? Anyone can get a profile, anyone can make a page, and anyone can start a group. How is it a skill if virtually anyone can “do” it?

In defense, I can say that I was an admin for House Party’s Facebook page while I was an intern there. I didn’t do as much on the page as my supervisor did, but I did have to occasionally post event photo albums, and there was a process I had to follow to make sure the album was posted at the right time, with carefully chosen and organized photos, and with the correct information and creative captions.

For the past 8 months I’ve been an admin for the Christian Rockers group and the Christian Rockers fan page on Facebook, both founded by my friend Topher, and my experiences in running both have taught me a few things about responsibility, organization, and community management (really!).

At House Party, they use an Excel sheet for organizing the company’s blog schedule. I adapted the format of that spreadsheet for the Christian Rockers’ page “Band of the Week” posts, and Topher and I used this sheet to schedule an entire year’s worth of posts. We watched the insight section of the page to figure out when the best times for posting were (we didn’t always stick to it, but still). We even used the spreadsheet as a calendar to delegate who would post on which days (once I graduated, I started posting less often so I could focus on my job search…and stuff….)

There are 425 members in the Christian Rockers’ Facebook group, but only a core group of about 15 people frequently post and comment. Recently there was a mild political riff over the New York Times, and I deleted someone’s comment because it seem too overcharged and off-target.

I was just happy for Skillet! Making front page of the NYT Arts section is huge, regardless of what you think of the New York Times.
I was just happy for Skillet! Making front page of the NYT Arts section is huge, regardless of what you think of the New York Times.

Then I realized that the previous comments on this post were also slightly off-target and politically charged as well, so I made the decision to delete all the comments on that post. It was only fair. Then I wrote this:

I am a peace-lovin' gal. So I shamed both sides. XD
I am a peace-lovin’ gal.

It was a decision I had to make as an admin. I did not want a fight to start, but I also did not want to single out one person. So, instead, I generalized the issue at hand and put the focus back on the music.

Is all this a niche thing? Yes. However, it does show some level of skill in terms of administration. And this was all Facebook related.

So, if you’re someone who actually does work on Facebook, then yes, Facebook is a skill. 🙂

The downside–nobody really cares (according to this article).

~Nikita

Weigh in: Do you think Facebook is a skill? Also: what are some skills on LinkedIn that you find run-of-the-mill and not worth listing (i.e. Microsoft Word)?