3 Christmas songs that won’t make your ears bleed

Christmas music: you either love it or hate it. If you’re like me, you love Christmas… but there’s just something about the traditional songs that drive you up a wall. This holiday season, I made it my mission to find three songs that may not annoy the hell out of you:

Here Comes Heaven – Elevation Worship

Finally, a Christian Christmas song that captures the holiday’s true message, but doesn’t cause me to immediately change the radio station! Elevation Worship tells tells the story of Jesus without an annoying jingle or a tempo so slow that you fall asleep (sorry Chris Tomlin). If I’m being completely honest, I like this song so much that I listen to in on repeat my entire drive to work today.

Yule Shoot Your Eye Out – Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy is the band that most of us listen to during our angsty middle school or high school years. Perhaps I’m not out of that phase because this may very well be one of the best Christmas songs I’ve listened to. It’s safe to say “Yule Shoot Your Eye Out” isn’t the best song to listen to if you’re trying to celebrate the birth of Christ, but it will give you a good laugh.

Hallelujah – Pentatonix

Okay, you got me. This song is a classic Christmas song, but just hear me out. Or rather, listen to the angelic voices of the five talented individuals in this song. This song is a great compromise if you’re stuck in a car with someone who insists on listening to Christmas music the entire month of December.

Taking Up Arms: The Feminist Movement

Don’t be too skinny, but don’t be fat. Be assertive, but don’t be a bitch. Make sure to dress cute, but make sure you don’t look like a slut. You might make a man want to rape you.

According to Sky News reporter Stephen Dixon, women who wear short skirts when they go out with their friends are responsible for the sexual assault that occurs. Apparently, the woman provoked that man into raping her for wearing an outfit that makes her feel confident in her body.

People like Dixon are the reason why feminism is a necessity in today’s society. Feminism is no longer just a fight for political rights. It’s a fight for females to gain respect from men, women, and the government.

American feminists have been in a constant struggle with the government since they began the women’s suffrage movement in 1848. Women have had to fight for the right to vote, to be accepted in the workplace, paid maternity leave and for equal pay. While progress has been made with the government, women are still not considered equals.

Since 1923, the National Women’s party, a feminist group, has been trying to push the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) through congress. The ERA would guarantee that women and women are paid equally based on qualifications, not gender.

According to Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men on average, despite being the primary source of income in over 40 percent of homes. Women have earned the right to make as much as men. Feminism is the voice that makes that known to society and lawmakers.

While feminist groups attempt to advance legislation through congress, they also do what they can to make sure women are free to be who they want to be. The phrase “like a girl” has had a negative connotation around it for as long as it’s been used. In a study conducted by Always, a feminine product producer, 72 percent of girls feel as if society as limits that hold them back.

Based on these findings, Always launched an advertising campaign aimed at boosting the confidence of women and young girls. The first commercial aired during the Super Bowl in 2014, meaning entire families were exposed to its message. After seeing the influence and success of the “#LikeAGirl” campaign, Always created a sequel to “#LikeAGirl,” called “Unstoppable.” These campaigns reached over 85 million people. The negativity that once surrounded that phrase has since began to disappear.

During the 2016 presidential election, a video leaked of President Donald Trump saying, “Grab ‘em by the pussy.”

This comment about women sparked an uproar from men and women across the globe. At the Women’s March 2017 in Washington, D.C., around half a million people from all over the world to protest Trump’s election. Feminists of all backgrounds stood against the rape culture Trump promoted in the election. At the rally, feminist and Navajo Nellis Kennedy-Howard held a bright pink sign that reads, “1 in 3 Native women are raped.”

“We don’t want to promote rape culture any further than the problem that we already have,” Kennedy-Howard told Huffington Post, “and this president is not doing a very good job of modeling that type of behavior.”

Similar to the gender pay gap, feminists are taking up the fight for paid family leave, including paid maternity and paternity leave. Only 13 percent of employees in the private sector are able to take paid family leave according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A hundred years ago, society believed it was a woman’s job to have children. However, 77 percent of private sector business don’t offer paid maternity leave. But if a woman doesn’t want to have children, society judges that decision.

“The gender revolution has been a one-sided effort. We have not pushed hard enough to put men in traditionally female roles—that is where our priority should lie now,” Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill wrote in a Brookings Institution report.

Feminism is not about just fighting for women’s rights. It’s about equal rights for all, regardless of gender, skin color, sexuality or religion. While the general feminism population fight for shared interests, there’s intersectionality within feminism.

“There are many, many different kinds of intersectional exclusions ― not just black women, but other women of color,” Kimberlé Crenshaw told the Huffington Post. “Not just people of color, but people with disabilities. Immigrants. LGBTQ people. Indigenous people.”

The feminist movement isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Rather than shrinking, the movement continues to gain momentum. Women who wear short skirts are not provoking men to rape them, but comments like the ones made by Trump and Dixon provoke feminists to take up arms.

Twitter makes it easy to spark conversations

“What’s your favorite social media platform for business?”

The answer to this question is rather complicated. One organization may find success with Facebook, while another finds it on Twitter. The audience, message and goals of the organization all play a part in determining the appropriate social platform on which the organization should establish a presence.

Throughout every blog, I’ve remain constant in my values. Despite the growth of digital media, establishing and nourishing relationships is the key to success in business. Twitter is an engagement goldmine. From hashtag to photos and videos, there are so many tools and features businesses can utilize to connect with their clients.

As we all know, in order to engage with someone, the content you produce needs to be relevant to them. Twitter makes it easy to identify the users you should be targeting. Through Twitter Ads, businesses can target specific audiences based on gender, language, personal interests, followers, devices, behavior, keywords and geography.  However, the targeting capability that could be most useful when attempting to spark a conversation is tailored audience targeting. Tailored audience targeting allows businesses to target users who have already expressed interest in their brand or product.

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Not only is Twitter unique in that it allows for easy communication between business and client, it gives businesses creative freedom to establish their tone on social media. Twitter typically has more light-hearted and fun content, rather than the matter-of-fact content found on Facebook.

One of my favorite business accounts on Twitter is Wendy’s. Wendy’s isn’t afraid to make fun of themselves online… or their competition. Wendy’s, as they like to say, “roasts the competition.” By interacting with competitors and critics online, Wendy’s built a social media reputation. Many times these interactions have gone viral.

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What else does Wendy’s do on Twitter? The company interacts with customers, news outlets and other random accounts. Imagine that. A business finding success by igniting conversation. Who would have thought?

Twitter is really unlike any platform. It’s features are built to encourage friendly, or in some cases not-so-friendly, conversation. If the main objective of a business is to build relationships, Twitter might be the platform to build a brand on. Just keep in mind that every business is different. The platform that might be perfect for one business could be a nightmare for another.

A blessing in disguise

Two hundred and five days. That’s how long the IUPUI’s class of 2019 has until graduation. Throughout our school experiences, we’ve all been faced with a multitude of decisions:

Do I want to play sports? Should I take choir, band, orchestra or art? What’s my major going to be? Where will I go to college?

The list could go on and on, but today I want to focus on my decision to attend IUPUI. I’ll come right on out and say it: IUPUI is not where I thought I would end up.

Let’s flashback to three years ago. I was a senior at Southport High School, which is about 10 miles south of IUPUI. Since I had started high school in 2012, I had started at midfield on the varsity soccer team, and I wanted to continue my soccer career in college. Sports have always been an integral part of my life. Basketball, softball, track and soccer all played a part in shaping who I was, and I wasn’t ready to give that up.

Every college I had scouted out and that had scouted me was outside of Indiana. I had no desire to stay in this state after graduation, and frankly, I wasn’t good enough to earn a soccer scholarship at any of the schools in Indy. After about a year of college visits, I had landed on Greenville College, a small Christian school in the middle of nowhere Illinois. The school is small, and there really isn’t very much to do around it. But, I didn’t care. It wasn’t Indiana.

Except, my plans were foiled just a few games into my senior season. In the game against our rival, Perry Meridian, I snapped the tendons and ligaments in my dominant ankle. My season was over and so was my soccer career. Months of pain management, physical therapy and eventually, surgery followed my injury.

As it turns out, the injury was a blessing in disguise. Because of my physical therapy and follow-up appointments, I thought it would be better to stay close to home. I told myself, “IUPUI won’t be terrible for just one year.” But after just a few weeks of classes, I fell in love. I fell in love with the people, the campus and the opportunities I had being so close to downtown.

Looking back now, I wouldn’t have changed anything. IUPUI is where I met my best friend. It’s where my faith in Jesus was challenged and reaffirmed. It’s where I’ve made connections and build relationships with professors, advisors and coworkers who have inspired me to become the best professional I can be.

From the start of my college career, I knew journalism and public relations was the career I wanted to pursue. Little did I know, I would be blessed with professors who established reputations as experts in their field. These professors have supported me and encouraged me in opportunity I’ve dream of of have chosen to pursue. Without them, I wouldn’t be as confident as I prepare to enter the workforce in a mere 205 days. Without their encouragement and support, I probably wouldn’t have landed an internship with Eli Lilly this past summer.

My life isn’t what I thought it would be three years ago, and thank God it isn’t. I ended up right where I was supposed to: Surrounded my people who are invested in my success in a place where I can achieve my dreams.

An open letter to my dogs:

Dear Trooper, Scout, Ace and Echo,

I don’t understand why you constantly pace back and forth or sporadically run through the house knocking down anything in your path. I don’t get why you feel the need to bark at the crack of dawn to get me out of bed. Most of all, I really don’t know why you insist on chewing on anything and everything.

But despite my greatest effort to stay mad at you, I just can’t. You can drive me up the wall, but as soon as I see your tails wag, a wave of happiness washes over me. I love you, all of you. I love your bad habits and your quirks. So, this blog is dedicated to each of you.

Trooper,

Sixteen years. Considering I barely remember the first ten or so years of my life, I can’t recall a day that you haven’t been there. As my first dog, you’re like my first child. You webp-net-resizeimage-2.jpgmay not necessarily like me the most, but I still love you. You’ve seen the best sides of me and the worst. But, through it all, you’ve never left my side.

Trooper, I’d really just like to say thank you. I know I’m not your favorite, but that doesn’t stop you from coming to say hi to me whenever I walk into Dad’s house. It didn’t stop you from coming to sit next to me. Thank you for showing me how special the bond between a girl and her dog can be. I know I probably don’t have much time left with you, so most of all, thank you for being such a good boy for the last 16 years.

 

 

Scout,

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss you. Losing you was the hardest thing I have ever been through. You were unlike any dog I have ever met. There will truly never be another you. You were feisty, and honestly, you could really be a pain in the ass. But, whenever I was upset, you were there to lick my face or to just lay with me until I was okay again.

I miss taking you on random car rides with me. I miss watching your eyes light up every time you ate a cheeseburger from McDonald’s. I miss wrestling with you. Webp.net-resizeimage (1).jpgI miss when 9 p.m. would hit and you’d instinctively know that it was time for you to crawl up into my lap.

I know that Mom, Jordan, Andy and I have welcomed two new dogs into our family since you passed. But, I want you to know, no dog will ever be able to replace you. You’re always going to have such a special place in my heart. I still keep a picture of you in my wallet. It’s the picture you took with Jacob and me before senior prom. That was really our last happy moment together. After that, your tumor became too much for you to handle. It was time for you to go, and as heartbroken as we were, we understood.

I don’t like to think about how bad things were the weeks before you left us. Instead, I like to focus on the happy moments, like that picture we took before prom. Scout, I hope that you’re enjoying as many cheeseburgers as your little heart desires up in Doggy Heaven. I miss you and I love you.

Ace and Echo,

You two drive me to the brink of insanity. It seems like the last couple of weeks, every morning I’ve come downstairs to find that you’ve chewed up something new. Please, I’m begging you, stop. You have like fifty different toys to choose from. Chew on one of those!

Even though you guys have probably taken a couple of years off of my life, you never Webp.net-resizeimage (3).jpgcease to be the highlight of my day. If you could talk, I’d tell you to ask anyone. I talk about you both constantly. Raising you has changed my life. Even on days where I struggle to find the motivation to get out of bed, you help me find the strength to get up. And it’s not just because you’re barking.

Ace, it’s crazy how much of Scout I can see in you. You’re spunky, but so loving. You’re stubborn as hell, but at then end of the day, all you want to do is cuddle. But there are so many things that make you, you. You groan every single time you don’t get what you want. Instead of wagging your tail, you wag your entire body. And as frustrating as it is, I still think it’s kind of cute that you make yourself dead body wait whenever you don’t want to go to bed.

Echo, buddy, where do I even start? You’re my best friend, my partner in crime, and as IWebp.net-resizeimage (5).jpg like to say, the only boy that will ever have my heart. Since the day I first met you, and you rolled into my arms and let me hold you like a baby, we have had an unbreakable bond.You get me like no person or dog every has. I’m your person, and you’re my boy. I know everyone likes to think that you like them more, but we both know they’re just kidding themselves. You don’t like to cuddle with most people, but you love to fall into my arms. You’re scared of almost everything, and I’m the one you run to every single time. But, you do more for me than you realize. You sense when I start to get stressed, and you lay your head on my leg, keeping my anxiety at bay. You would do anything for me, and I would do anything for you.

Guys, I know it’s going to be hard for you when I leave home next year, but I promise that doesn’t change anything. You’re still my babies and I will love you unconditionally, even if I am five hours away.

Article Review: Christianity is about more than just rules.

Picture this: You spend your life living in two separate worlds. In one life, you’re happily married to your partner of 22 years and raising a 12-year-old child. In the other, you provide guidance to kids attending a Catholic high school. But what happens when those two worlds collide?

Ask former Roncalli guidance counselor, Shelly Fitzgerald. The school administration and Archdiocese of Indianapolis gave her a choice: divorce your wife or resign.

I know what you’re probably thinking. That’s crazy, right? Who would agree with that? Personally, I didn’t think anyone would, but then I stumbled across an op-ed on Twitter written by IndyStar’s Gary Varvel.

Varvel openly admits that he believes Roncalli made the right move when they handed the ultimatum to Fitzgerald. I applaud him for saying what he believes, but do I think he’s wrong? Absolutely. I’ll address that in a moment though.

Varvel’s conviction is based around two key elements: the existence of a contract and labeling.  Varvel, who used to teach at a Christian high school, says both he and Fitzgerald signed contracts which bound them to uphold the behaviors and beliefs of the Church. So yeah, I agree she knew the consequences. One point to Varvel. But, his second argument was a stretch. Varvel claims more people aren’t coming out in support of Roncalli because they’re scared of being labeled as bigots.   

Well Gary, I think people aren’t supporting Roncalli for a much larger reason: Forcing Fitzgerald into an impossible decision was not the Christian thing to do.

Varvel argued that the Christian thing to do for the couple was gracefully part ways, citing the creation of the Lutheran church. But Fitzgerald didn’t go silently to prove a point. All denominations of Christianity, whether it’s Catholicism, Lutheran, Baptist, ect., are based on the teachings of Jesus. What church leaders should keep in mind, however, is that being a Christian is about more than rules. It’s about the lessons Jesus taught us while he walked among us: love, mercy, grace and kindness.

Varvel based his argument on a contract, providing readers with verses about settling disputes. I’ve decided to base my argument on what should matter: the actual teachings of Jesus Christ.

This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.” – Zechariah 7:9-10

It’s not my job, your job or anyone else’s job but God’s to give a guilty verdict. God tells us that the true justice is mercy and compassion. Not to force a resignation or divorce.

While it seems like the school administration and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis have lost sight of crucial teachings like the one in Zechariah, students and parents haven’t.

Roncalli Senior Elijah Mahan defended Fitzgerald to IndyStar shortly after the story initially broke.

“It’s a Catholic’s duty to respect, defend and build up one another no matter what their race, sexual orientation or social background is,” Mahan said.

Interesting… What do you think? Does the ultimatum Roncalli gave Fitzgerald sound anything like that?

Earlier this week, Fitzgerald, Mahan and a few other Roncalli students appeared on Ellen to share their stories. It so easy to see that Fitzgerald touch these kids’ hearts. One of them even called the guidance counselor’s office her “safe place” in the school. To show their support for Fitzgerald and the LGBT+ community, the students decided to start a foundation, named Shelly’s Voice. Shelly’s Voice will be focused on cultivating equality in the workplace, so that those in the LGBT+ community, like Shelly and like me, won’t have to huge hide parts of our lives.

In his article, Varvel mentioned he signed a contract when he was employed at a Christian high school which stated he had to exemplify the values written in the Bible. That’s fine. I don’t see anything wrong with that… as long as the contract holds employees accountable to all teachings of the bible, including the compassion, mercy, love… Oh, and divorce.

You could argue, “It wouldn’t be a divorce in the eyes of God because they shouldn’t have been married in the first place.” And I’m going to stop you right there. Same-sex marriage is legal. Churches will perform same-sex marriages. There are same-sex couples all around the world who spend their lives giving just as Christ did. So, let me make this very clear: a homosexual divorce is the same as a heterosexual one.

You know what I find really funny, though? Homosexuality is only mentioned specifically in six or seven of the Bible’s 31,173 verses. Yet, the church has been up in arms about hindering the rights of the LGBT community. You know how many verses there are about divorce? A lot more than six or seven.

So, in the eyes of the Catholic church at least, Fitzgerald was told to pick her sin: divorce or homosexuality.

What happened to the love, kindness, mercy and compassion that the majority of the Bible was devoted to? People like the Roncalli administration, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Varvel, who choose legalism over compassion, are not representing the Christian faith as described in the Bible. But people, like the students at Roncalli who choose to love unconditionally, embody the character and message of Christ.