All posts by benschoeller

Friends of the Chicago River

You know that really big river that flows through Chicago? Yup, that one, the Chicago River. Well, “Friends of the Chicago River” is the only organization solely dedicated to the Chicago River. Since 1979, this organization has been working hard to improve and maintain the health of the river system for the benefit of people, plants and animals. The Chicago River is a total of 156 miles long. Friends’ work spans the entire thing from focusing on a greener habitat to making sure the water is clean and usable for everyone to enjoy.

There are many volunteer opportunities available. Friends is always welcoming those interested in participating to make the river a cleaner place for everyone. Whether you’re looking to get your hands dirty or help work on special events there’s something for everyone. For those looking to get involved, you can sign up at chicagoriver.org.

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Saturday, May 12th is Chicago River Day! This is an annual event where people can collectively make long term improvements to the Chicago River. Anyone and everyone of all ages is welcome! There are 60 locations spanning the Chicago River to choose from.

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Each year, Friends of the Chicago River chooses a spirit animal to help spread awareness about the health of the river and how it affects many living creatures. This year’s spirit animal is the Monarch Butterfly, known to make very large two way migrations from Canada to Mexico, nearly 3,000 miles. Many butterflies follow the Mississippi River along with the Chicago Rivers important extension of the fly.

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“Pray For Me” – Kendrick Lamar & The Weeknd

The song “Pray For Me” from the Black Panther soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd really has you thinking about the lyrics. It’s one of those songs that makes you look at the bigger picture and feel a deeper feeling then you were expecting. The Weekend and Kendrick Lamar’s collaboration for this song is fantastic. It really couldn’t be any more perfect. Once you listen to the whole song through it makes you think, wow, I need to hear that again.

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The Weeknd

The song begins with The Weeknd straight up sharing some true feelings. He starts off, “I’m always ready for a war again. Go down that road again. It’s all the same. I’m always ready to take a life again. You know I’ll ride again. It’s all the same.” Then he gets real and starts sharing some true feelings, “Who gon’ pray for me? Take my pain for me? Save my soul for me?” After these few versus it starts to make the listener think, feel and connect to the song on a different level.

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Kendrick Lamar

It gets even better when Kendrick Lamar pipes in. He goes, “I fight the world, I fight you, I fight myself. I fight God, just tell me how many burdens left. I fight pain and hurricanes, today I wept. I’m tryna fight back tears, flood on my doorsteps. Life a livin’ hell, puddles of blood in the streets.” He doesn’t go full blast here but you can feel the sharp anger in his lyrics. I find that to be pretty powerful!

“Pray For Me” is pretty intense and continues to escalate as the song goes on. It’s powerful words and deeper meaning bring out the best in the lyrics and really make you think. After I heard it for the first time I just sat there and thought about it for a minute. I kept listening to it and would pull out different emotions each time. Such a good song! If you haven’t heard it yet definitely check it out. Get ready to feel some feels!

Turn That Frown Upside Down – Music And Our Mind “Feel Good Music”

Music will always have a lasting effect on our brains, whether we realize it or not. How is that so you may ask? As human beings we have anywhere from 50 to 70 thousand thoughts a day. Now, to me, that sounds a tad bit overwhelming. The fact that my brain is working that hard is crazy to me. By the time I realize it I’m usually overwhelmed. I’m the type of person that analyzes and overthinks everything. Sometimes I think my daily thoughts are doubled because by the time the end of the day comes I feel like my head is about to pop. Overthinking things isn’t always a bad thing. It just means you’re aware of your surroundings. Being able to control those thoughts is the important part.

Now where does music come into play? Well, when I’m stressed or in a bad mood music is my go to. I’ll play an upbeat song that I really like or that’s trending now and it will completely turn my mood around. When I’m running late and driving in the car I’ll play fast and intense music that will get me in a positive and fast thinking state of mind. It helps me get through those green lights faster and be more aware of the traffic around me, helping me figure out the fastest route to my destination. This tactic usually gets me to where I need to go faster and on time because my brain is focussed on my destination and getting there and not on how late I could potentially be.

Music is also so tightly fastened to our memory. Do you ever play a song and instantly think of someone or something from your past? Maybe like an event or awesome party you went to. Sometimes you don’t even realize it until weeks later when a song is playing and you get real connected to it and don’t even know why. Then you realize where it came from. When I was a kid my parents would take me to Disney World all the time. One of my favorite shows in Disney was called “Food Rocks.” It was an animatronic band of singing and instrument playing foods talking about eating healthy. (Sounds super cheesy but I actually loved it….no pun intended.) They played classic hits from the 60’s 70’s and 80’s such as Queen, Beach Boys, The Police, Cher and Aretha Franklin. But since the show was about food they’d twist the songs a little. Queen became “The U-tensils” and the Beach Boys became the “Peach Boys” and The Police became “Refrigerator Police.” Every time I heard those songs (from the show) on the radio I’d tell my parents “It’s that song from ‘Food Rock!’” My parents would laugh and tell me they were real songs and were just featured in the show. Even to this day when I hear those songs by those artists I think of the show “Food Rocks.” The last time I saw that show was 16 years ago right before it closed.

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“Food Rocks” EPCOT, Walt Disney World, Orlando FL

It’s actually incredible the power music has over our minds. It can be used as a therapy to completely change our state of mind. Music triggers memory and all kinds of emotions. The next time you’re in a funk or up in your feelings play some music relating to those emotions or how you want to change those emotions and just watch how your attitude will change.

Here’s a playlist I put together of some “Feel Good Music.” It’s a mix of high energy, upbeat music that will help get your day going. Check it out!!

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