A life of reckless generosity & love.

She captioned this one “Photobomber!” because of Weeden’s creative gesturing in the back (2014)

A year ago today, I got a text at 7:45 AM telling me one of my closest friends was gone. It was a rite of passage: the first death of someone I loved.

I didn’t tell very many people. Each time I went to tell someone, it felt like I was cheapening the news, & I didn’t like that. I didn’t want to use Jacque as bait for heart emojis, I’m-so-sorries, or let-me-know-if-you-need-anythings. But now that some time has passed, I’d like to tell you what my friend meant to me.

Jacque Girard had a challenging past. That was mostly…

My annual collection of miscellaneous favorites.

Me, I’m all about staying power. So it warms my heart to look back on my last couple year-end roundups & see that not only do I still stand by the practices/products I shared, but I continue to actively rep them: I’m still wearing scrunchies, still using HabitBull & neck massagers, still writing in my notebooks from front to back & back to front.

The same will probably go for my 2019 faves as well. They’re just that good. But don’t take my word for it! ❤

1. Overleaf typesetting software (link)

It was the summer of 2017 when I first laid eyes on Overleaf…

Little things that made my life better this year.

1. Time-restricted feeding (aka intermittent fasting)

Inspired by the research of Dr. Satchin Panda, I set the goal at the beginning of 2018 to practice time-restricted feeding (TRF) at least 5 days a week. I aimed to consume all food/drink within an 8- or 10-hour window each day, fasting from everything except water for the remaining hours. The effect on my sleep (yes, sleep — weird, right?) was incredible, & I experienced improvements in overall energy & mental clarity as well. TRF hasn’t been extensively studied yet, but these are common experiences for those who practice it.

Try it yourself & help further Dr. Panda’s research…

Diary of a stubborn singer-songwriter

“For those of you just joining us, my name is Alma,” I rattled off into the mic. “If you like what you’re hearing, I’ve got some CDs over there”—I gestured to an imaginary merch table at my left—“and some business cards if you’re looking to connect. Just a warning, I’m a little bit—”

I paused.

“I’m a little hard to find on the internet. If you want to pull me up on Spotify, you have to type in—”

Hold on. Wasn’t there an episode of Scandal about this? Yeah, I think so. In my mind’s eye, Olivia Pope was chewing…

No clickbait here, just a few discoveries that made my life better.

1. Your muscles hate you for all that computer & phone use, so get an electric neck massager.

Along with daily neck stretches & torso stretches, my massager has worked wonders on my comfort & sleep. I used to only sleep through the night about once every two years; now I sleep through the night once a week, & the nights in between aren’t as bad either.

This one on Amazon was pretty cost-effective ($60), the one drawback being that it’s not cordless. My roommate has this one, though, which is cordless & a little higher-quality. Either way, for the price of one or two massages, you get to ease the tension whenever you want.

2. Hack your notebooks by using them both front-to-back & back-to-front.

I don’t journal…

Photo by Jessica Mardi

In the era of Be Yourself, I get frustrated reading quotes about authenticity because they promote a doctrine of stasis: “You’re perfect, don’t ever change.”

That’s horrible advice. Do change. Do grow. Face your faults, get better. A person can be perfectly authentic, but maybe they’re authentically immature, authentically arrogant, authentically self-destructive, or authentically afraid. Authenticity alone isn’t going to pull us up to a better place — it’s the authentic, unconditional love of God that challenges us & gives us grace to walk in new life.

Be yourself—but a dynamic, ever-growing version of yourself.

The story behind the first song on The Travel Size EP& why it’s still a little uncomfortable for me to listen to

Photo by Jessica Havens

I knew The Travel Size EP would be different. Not in a redefining, new-year-new-me kind of way, but I knew it would take me on a short vacation from the human nature themes that had come to be my artistic trademark.

That’s partly because, if we’re being real, the songs from Travel Size were grouped together mostly because they wouldn’t have fit anywhere else. They all loosely conform to the travel theme—each having been written in/about a different U.S. city—but unlike the songs from Tactics, these new tracks are basically just…for fun.

I’d never done just-for-fun music before. It was…

Is there a real moral difference between me saying “it hurts when you hit me” and a scientist saying “water freezes when it gets below 32°F”?

Several weeks ago, I sent an email to neuroscientist/author Sam Harris via his website’s contact form. To no one’s surprise, he didn’t respond; between publishing a new book on religious tolerance, fending off hoards of critics, and being an overall boss at conversation-starting, I’m sure he has his hands full.

But I would very much like him to get around to my question — so instead of submitting this email into his contact form on a daily basis, I decided to tweet him this link until I get through. …

In what other line of work is the employee valued over the customer or the host valued over the guest?

In spring 2010, a music lover at the annual Coachella arts festival posted a twenty-four second video on YouTube. The clip opens with an attractive couple strolling through the crowd, drinks in hand, taking in the music and atmosphere. Ten seconds go by before things get weird. But when they do, it’s a rapid spiral: heads turn, camera phones are fished out of pockets and the two quickly find themselves surrounded by onlookers, some attempting to chat with them and others venturing only to take pictures from a distance.

The video, starring Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Beyoncé Knowles…

A new spoken word piece about sex is bound to get me in trouble — but “Hypocrite” is more about walking the walk than about being abstinent.

Originally published at hearalma.com on April 21, 2015.

A new spoken word piece about sex is bound to get me into trouble — but ‘Hypocrite’ is more about walking the walk than it is about being sexually abstinent.

People have a lot to say about sex. Who’s having it, who’s not having it, who’s having it with guys, who’s having it with girls, who’s having too much, who’s not having enough. The people in this discussion are beautifully diverse, spanning all ages, genders, sexualities, races & faiths, & the opinions are as diverse as the people voicing them.

In a…

Alma Cook

Madison-born, Chicago-educated, LA-living. Pop/soul songwriter & lover of knowledge.

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