RT @ConanOBrien: Just saw “Storage Wars,” where people bid on items in storage containers. Mankind is two months away from being completely out of ideas.

Saw this tonight and just had to post. Awesomeness.

Frustrating, to Say the Least

Why are we so apt to sue for every little thing these days? I heard about the class action lawsuit against AT&T for their iPhone exclusivity contract. What??? That deal was made years ago. And they had every right to make it. Why are they just now complaining about it? And now there’s a potential class action lawsuit against Apple because Consumer Reports decided to announce that the iPhone is not fit to buy. Nevermind that most, if not all, cell phones lose signal strength when you cover them up with your hand. Nevermind that it’s only a handful of people who have actually experienced these problems. Nevermind that if you put a cover on it, the problem goes away. No, let’s sue. Let’s make a quick buck off of the evil big corporations who don’t deserve all the money they make anyway.

And now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that most of the lawsuits against Toyota are based on false pretenses, as most of the drivers had their foot on the gas pedal when they claimed “uncontrollable acceleration.” Sounds like a conspiracy if ever there was one.

I’m sick of this “I deserve something for nothing” attitude in America these days. It reeks of Socialism. And I for one won’t stand for it.

Foot-In-Mouth Syndrome and Its Various Consequences

Anyone who knows me personally knows I’m not very good at hiding what I really think. If I’m elated about something, I won’t hide it from anyone, even if I try. If I’m disappointed in you, I won’t be able to pretend otherwise and I’ll wear that disappointment on my shirt sleeve like a badge of courage. In my short tenure in the corporate world, it has become evident to me the need to be able to “play the game:” to learn how to shut your mouth when necessary, put on your game face, grin and bear it.

Sufficient to say, I am a categorical failure at this necessity. In fact, I might very well be the poster child for foot-in-mouth syndrome. And as I sit here typing this blog on my handy little iPhone, I find myself facing the very dilemma I’ve yet to overcome. And I ask myself if it’s a betrayal of integrity to pretend like I am okay with the injustices I see around me. I know, for the sake of perpetuity, I ought to learn this trait and learn it fast. But inevitably, every time I’ve faced this challenge, I’ve resorted to the notion of staying true to myself and speaking out for what I know is right. The situation I face today is different. I’ve spoken. It hasn’t been heard. So now I’m faced with a choice: shut my mouth or continue to speak to the brick wall.

And I write all this to ask, what would you do?

Do they like having you around?

Do you know what the number one criticism of Jesus was? Jesus was criticized for being a friend of sinners. Sinners loved being around Jesus. Do unbelievers today love to be around believers? Or do they feel like we think we’re better than they are? – Robert Morris

A friend of mine posted this quote on fb today. I really like it and it got me thinking… I think we can even take this one step further. You see, Jesus didn’t just befriend sinners and make them come to him for friendship. He didn’t throw parties and send out an evite for the “Sinners Mixer at my Pad.” He went to them. He hung out with them on their turf. He was cool enough that he could be the stinkin’ Son of GOD and hang out at a dude’s house who has a bunch of prostitutes and drunks around – and none of them were uncomfortable. In fact, they liked having him around.

What does that say about believers today? I grew up in the church so I think it’s safe to say that I have an “insider’s” perspective. I’ve seen firsthand how believers get in a safe little box of preconceived notions and refuse to see outside of it. And I got a double-whammy because I also grew up in a private Christian school. I remember being taught not to socialize with sinners – that they were a bad influence. I was told that I needed to witness to them so they could see the err of their ways. But I was never told where. For the longest time I just assumed I would witness at church. You know, the sinner-haven.

Don’t get me wrong – I know the church has more people who need to be witnessed to than not, but my point is that if that’s the only place I’m going to reach out to people who need Jesus, I’m pretty narrow-minded and self-centered.

This paradox reached its pinnacle when I was twenty-two and I boastfully pointed out to a friend of mine that I had never been drunk. He asked if I had ever had a drink before and I said no. He pointed out that he was much more influenced by someone who can drink and control themselves than by someone who claims they have amazing self-control because they’ve never gotten drunk even though they’ve never had a drink.

This hit me like a ton of bricks.

I realized I was claiming I had accomplished something that I had never even been challenged by. It would be like saying that I had never broken my neck from bungee jumping when I had never bungee jumped in the first place. Stupid.

I know some of you are reading this saying, “Well, it’s better to protect your purity than to put it to the test just to say you can control yourself.” And you would be right – to a point. But if you’re using what you have or haven’t done as a badge of honor, you’ve missed the point of what being an influence is all about. And if you’re expecting the world to come to you and marvel at your brilliance just because you claim to have hope from your faith, you’re only going to be disappointed. I honestly believe the best influence we can have is when we get out there and hang out with real people in real places and real situations. Nothing forced or contrived. No pretenses. No, “Please meet me at Starbucks today. I need to talk to you about your lack of faith” meetings. Just real, honest relationships with real people talking about real things.

Which brings me to my point. Why were Matthew and his prostitute friends cool around Jesus? Why did they invite him to their parties and talk to him about their lives so openly and comfortably? Shouldn’t they have been nervous and embarrassed around him? He was perfect. They may not have known that at the time, but they knew there was something different about him. But they still hung out. Why? After all these years of being around the Christian culture and watching them get it wrong, I’m convinced it’s because Jesus was just a real guy. No pretenses. No expectations. No facades. He was who he was and he made no bones about it. And he found a way to challenge everyone he was around to be a better person without judging them for it.

What a guy. What an influence. I think about it all the time as I interact with the world – at a show, with my family, with friends, with casual acquaintances. I find myself asking if what I’m doing is making them run away from the faith in me or towards it. Because I’m not here to make anyone do anything. I’m just hoping that my actions might influence someone along the way to investigate why I have the hope I have. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll find they can have it too. That’s all…

Overcoming the Obstacle of Self

I made up a word the other day. I call it “de-nichefy.” Classy, I know. What it means is to stop over-categorizing something down to a tiny description that limits the possibilities of said “thing.” In other words, stop limiting. As an entrepreneur and a creative type all rolled into one confused package, I often find myself facing the challenges of owning a business with thoughts like, “I’m not made like that;” or “I’m not good at doing things like that.” By saying these things, I’m categorizing myself down to a tiny niche that limits me from possibilities I could otherwise achieve if I would just apply myself.

I’m a firm believer in the capitalistic ideal that anyone can do anything they set their mind to. We are limitless human beings – that’s how God made us. The only thing that stops us is ourselves. And often it comes in the form of not believing in what we are capable of – nichefying ourselves.

So my encouraging word for the day is to de-nichefy yourself. Believe that you can do anything you set your mind to. You may not like it. You may not be prone to achieve it perfectly the first time. Who cares? Try it anyway. When you fail, try it again in a new way. If you want something, why let perceived inability stop you? I don’t believe in inability. I only believe in “in-application.” You only fail at things you refuse to try.

Go. Be free. De-nichefy and see what happens. Overcome the obstacle of self…

The Artist and the Suit

So I was reading an article on Yahoo! today about the punk movement and how it has become so corporatized that it’s no longer punk. It’s quite true and I’ve been saying that for a long time now. But it’s kind of the same thing with rock music, country music, Gospel music, and on and on. Really pop is the only one staying true to its roots: make music to make money… PS: you can read the article here.

I think about this a lot. Whenever something underground gains any momentum, someone in a suit sees it as an opportunity to capitalize. Take vampires for example. There was a time when the vampire craze was limited to a selective pool of undergrounders (I just made up a word) who dedicated their souls to Anne Rice and attended vampire parties in the basements of L.A. Now, thanks to the sissy vampires of Stephenie Meyer and the wonder of capitalism, you can’t shake a stick without hitting some sort of vampire paraphernalia: a TV show, a movie, a t-shirt, a lunch box…
Having worked in the corporate world, I know a thing or two about how these people think. It’s called the bottom line. And as long as the pockets of the big wigs are lined, they don’t care what they’re pushing next. The art of the original concept disappears, replaced with generic, run-of-the-mill cut-outs. To quote Christian Bale in Little Women: “Mediocre copies of another man’s genius.”
And it begs a question. Where does this leave us, the artists, who just want to get our art out to the world? Where do we strike the happy medium? It’s the age old battle between the “man” and the rest of us. As an independent artist, I find myself in a conundrum of being both the punk and the suit. The artist and the man. The dollars and the sense. It’s a fine line to walk… If I do what my husband always tells me and “stick it to the man,” I’ll be sticking it to myself…
But personally, I enjoy the challenge. I like having to figure out how to maneuver both sides of the battle. And I like the idea of paving a path that’s rarely been walked, for the very reason that it’s both difficult and at times, a conflict of interests.
Thus is the challenge of living in America, land of the free and home of the capitalist. And seeing as how I am a full believer in capitalism, I suppose my greatest challenge and my greatest achievement will be to reconcile the capitalism I love with the artist I will always be…