Monthly Archives:February 2017

On Failing – February Goals

25 Feb 17
Anne Russell
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This post is about my goals that I made at the beginning of the year. If you want to see my list of goals, you can find it here.

Reading challenge:

This month, I read the first three books in the series Finishing School, by Gail Carriger. I listened to all three of them on Audible. I would recommend the first book in the series, Etiquette and Espionage. For the next two books, I recommend using your own discretion, as they contain some inappropriate content.

In January, I finished reading the book Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. I was hesitant to add it to my list because I started it in December, but I decided to keep it. It was an amazing book, which I highly recommend. I’m putting it in the “wartime book” category.

I just started the book Captive in Iran, by Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh. So far, it’s been an interesting read. This is going to my book written by someone I’ve never visited.

Writing Challenge:

I missed this one several times this month, but I became more consistent after I set a daily alarm for 7:30pm. Aside from just recording my thoughts, I can also give myself links to things that I found helpful, or might want to share later.

Anne’s Earworms:

I wrote a couple list Earworms, such as my favorite love songs, or my favorite Anthem Lights songs. I’ve enjoyed the variety that the lists allow, so I want to try a few more in March.

The only problem that I’m having is learning new music. Because I’m in the middle of a busy school semester, it’s hard for me to find new songs, since I don’t have tons of time.

Bible Challenge:

I’ve been mostly keeping up with my Bible goal. I want to get better at meditating on the chapters that I read. This would help me apply them better, and not just read them and forget them.


Since I read three fiction books in a row, I’m ready to move to a different genre for a while. I decided to start reading the book Living Forward, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. I’m a Michael Hyatt fan, so I’m excited about starting it.

On Failing:

In Michael Hyatt’s podcast episode, “The Top Ten Mistakes Derailing Your Goals,” he talks about his goal to get his book Living Forward on the New York Times best seller list by a certain date. He didn’t achieve his goal by that day, but he did get his book on the Wall Street Journal best seller list. He didn’t make his goal by the time he wanted, but he made huge progress promoting his book by having a specific goal. I want to have this attitude about all of my goals. Even though I have messed up twice with my Bible goal, and several times with my writing goal, I want to have an attitude that is happy about my progress.

My Favorite Breakup Songs – Anne’s Earworms Episode 8

22 Feb 17
Anne Russell
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Last week, I wrote about my favorite love songs. The perfect follow up, of course, is breakup songs. Here are some of my favorites.

Fast Car, by Tracy Chapman.

Tracy Chapman’s voice is ridiculously cool. The lyrics of this song tell a good story, and I love listening to it.

Shadow, by Sam Tsui

One of my friends sent me this song last year, and we ended up using it in a mashup for our band. I love the metaphor.

How am I Supposed to Live Without You, by Christian Cuevas

This version of the song is from The Voice. Christian’s voice has so much passion in it, it makes me want to cry every time I hear this song.


Without You, by Ali Caldwell

This is another great cover from The Voice. Ali Caldwell’s voice is stunning.

Should’ve Been Us, by Caleb + Kelsey

This song was originally performed by Tori Kelly, but I listen to a duet version by Caleb + Kelsey (Caleb is one of the members of Anthem Lights).

Dangerously, by Charlie Puth

I like this song because the piano sounds amazing.


What are your favorite breakup songs? I’d love to hear about them in the comments sections.


Bonus Song: Here’s my favorite cover of “Fast Car.” I found this last week, and it is amazing.

Getting Up Earlier

18 Feb 17
Anne Russell

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Last month I started trying to get up consistently at 6:45. For most people, this isn’t super early, but since I usually get up around 8, it was a jump for me. It was hard, but I’m glad that I’m getting better at it. Here are some of my reasons that I like getting up earlier:


  • It’s generally quiet for the first few minutes. I can get a shower and have my Bible time without being distracted.
  • I can get some of my goals done early. Instead of rushing to read through the Bible before I run to go do other things, I have time to sit and meditate on the Scripture I’m reading, and pray through it, without feeling like I’m ignoring other work that needs to be done.
  • I get to see my siblings after I’ve had a few minutes to wake up. The first 10-15 minutes after I wake up, I’m very sluggish. So, if Becca walks in and starts talking to me, normally grunt in reply or ignore her. When I’ve had a few minutes to wake up, I can greet her cheerfully more easily.
  • I get to see the beautiful scenery. I wrote about this on my second day of getting up at 6:45. I forgot it until I was looking through my journal today. Tomorrow, I think I’ll stop to enjoy the scenery a little more.


Since there are a lot of good reasons to get up a little earlier, here are three ways I help myself do it better:


  1. I get ready the night before. My mom taught me this when I was younger, and Michael Hyatt recommends it. If I plan ahead, I don’t have to make tons of decisions while I’m waking up, so I’m not as tempted to go back to bed. Also, if I go to bed earlier, I can wake up more easily.
  2. I get moving immediately. I usually get a shower, and then immediately go downstairs and do my Bible reading. Usually if I sit around, I want to go back to sleep.
  3. I pray for help getting up. I tend to be very lazy in this area, and prayer has helped me more diligent about getting up.


What are some of your favorite tips for getting up earlier, and having more energy in the morning?




My Favorite Love Songs – Anne’s Earworms Episode 7

15 Feb 17
Anne Russell
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Since yesterday was Valentine’s Day (I like to call it Platonic Relationship Day), I thought it would be fitting to talk about some amazing love songs:

Everything Has Changed, by Taylor Swift

This is beautiful duet, and I like listening to it. I especially love the harmony.

Let’s Stay Together, by the Annie Moses Band

This song was originally performed by Al Green, but I mostly listen to the Annie Moses band version. I love this song because it talks about a lasting love, rather than a temporary emotional high. It promotes commitment even through hard times.


Love Story, by Taylor Swift

I listened to Love Story even before I started listening to music on my own. I like this song because in the end, the main characters find a way to work through their struggles, instead of run away from them.

I Courted a Sailor, by Kate Rusby

My voice teacher introduced me to Kate Rusby, and I’m quickly becoming addicted to her way of making simple songs excellent and interesting. This song is fascinating, and it has a happy ending.

Our Love is Here to Stay, by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

I’ve talked about Ella and Louis in a different Earworm, so I’ll just say that I love romance that lasts for longer than a few days, or months, or years. It’s easy to get caught up in emotion of “falling in love” with someone else, but without commitment, relationships crumble. I love songs that accent long-term relationships, rather passionate feelings that will eventually fade.

 What are your favorite love songs, and why? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!

Things I Want to Try

11 Feb 17
Anne Russell
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Sometimes I get stuck in a mentality that says “I never do anything new, and I never will.” This mentality tends to start a couple weeks into the semester, after the excitement of new classes wears off. But I want to stay excited about life. Aside from all of the amazing new things I’m trying at school (like songwriting), I have lots of things that I want to do someday. So, I made a list:


  1. A half-marathon.
  2. A daily blog challenge.
  3. Acting.
  4. Gardening.
  5. Art (Confession, this one was a summer project that I failed, so I’m insecure about it).
  6. Running a sound board.
  7. Taking my own pictures for my blog (after I started this post, I actually took all of the pictures for a post that I wrote! Maybe this is a first step to awesome pictures!).
  8. A silent retreat.
  9. A new musical instrument.
  10. Recording my own music.
  11. An a capella group.
  12. A solo road trip (someday when I start driving myself places).
  13. Flying a plane.
  14. A trip to Europe.
  15. Making skit videos.
  16. Joining a writer’s group.
  17. Making Lasagna (Yes, I’m allergic to tomatoes and I don’t even like lasagna, but I can’t stop imagining how cool it would be to make lasagna).


Hopefully there will be lots of edits to this post, saying that I’ve done some of the things on the list.

My Top Six Anthem Lights Songs – Anne’s Earworms Episode 6

08 Feb 17
Anne Russell
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I started listening to the group Anthem Lights a few years ago, and they quickly became one of my favorite bands. I didn’t want to write about just one album, so I decided to pick my favorite songs that they’ve covered. So here are my top six Anthem Lights songs:

6. Pompeii

Their version of Pompeii has an amazing blend of a full harmony sound and a big band sound.

5. Best of 2014 Mashup

I love this mashup because they take diverse songs and use them to tell a story. Also, they make the songs clean, which is nice because I avoid listening to trashy music.

4. Fix You

I love this song because the orchestra sounds amazing. I like to listen to it when I’m sad or lonely.

 3. Drops of Jupiter

I love to jam to this song. It’s upbeat, and their harmony in the final chorus is phenomenal.

2. Good, Good Father

Good, Good Father is  another song where their harmony makes the song. It makes the song full and textured.

1. Taylor Swift Mashup

This song was my first Anthem Lights songs, and one of the first mashups I’d heard. This was a transforming moment for me. Since I heard this song, I started listening to other mashups, and writing some of my own. This is still one of my favorite mashups of all time.


If you’re interested in listening to Anthem Lights on Amazon, click here.

A Gratitude List

04 Feb 17
Anne Russell
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A couple of weeks ago, I read an article by Michael Hyatt, talking about the importance of gratitude. He challenged his readers to make a list of twenty things that they were thankful for. I was convicted that I’m often not thankful enough, so I made a gratitude list:

  1. Food to eat, and the ability to choose what I eat.
  2. Tea.
  3. My parents.
  4. Access to the Bible.
  5. Audiobooks.
  6. Forgiveness.
  7. Braces.
  8. Playing music.
  9. Paper books.
  10. My siblings.
  11. Amazing weather.
  12. The smell of good food cooking.
  13. College classes.
  14. Shoes.
  15. Clean water.
  16. Playing in orchestra.
  17. Walks in the rain.
  18. Blogging.
  19. Going to church.
  20. Brownie-in-a-Mug.


There’s my gratitude list. What are you thankful for right now?

Encore by Barbra Streisand- Anne’s Earworms Episode 5

01 Feb 17
Anne Russell
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Encore: Movie Actors Sing Broadway is one of the first albums that I counted down the days until it was released. I’ve been a Barbra Streisand fan since I saw Hello, Dolly! a few years ago. When I saw that she was still producing music (at age 74), I was ecstatic. I talked about the album to every friend I had. I talked about the songs that they released before the album. I talked about the videos in which they talked about the songs.

The biggest appeal of Barbra’s music is her voice. Even though she’s been singing for years (She started recording music at age 13), her voice is stunning. She sounds consistent from the bottom of her range to the top of it, instead of being throaty and breathy depending on how high she’s singing. Encore is an album of duets and one trio.

My favorite song from this album is “Loving You,” a duet with Patrick Wilson. Patrick is a former broadway singer, so he also has a soaring, classical voice. Their voices blend beautifully, and the song soars.

Another great song is “At the Ballet.” This is the trio from the album, with Daisy Ridley and Anne Hathaway. This was the first song I heard from the album, and it hooked me for the rest of the album. I loved Anne Hathaway’s singing in Les Misérables, and I was excited to learn about Daisy Ridley. The song tells several exciting stories, and the harmony is amazing.


The only song I wouldn’t recommend from the album is The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened to Me, because of some foul language.

Encore was a huge inspiration for me as I started singing more, and it’s one of my favorite albums.


If you’re interested in hearing Encore on Amazon, click here.