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May/June Favorites

Hello friends! We are back with another addition of favorites, and we’ve got some good stuff!

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Podcasts

It has been a dark time without sports, and I have particularly missed baseball, but Off Air with Joe & Orel has helped fill the void. If you are a Dodger fan who has both missed the boys in blue and is excited they are finally coming back this week, this is the podcast for you!

Also, a big goal of mine for this year has been to get to know myself and find a better foundation in my values, beliefs, opinions, etc. To do that, I have made an effort to better educate myself on the different stories, perspectives and opinions of others. Over the last couple months, there has been a surge of resources, both in the news, on social media, and among friends and family and 1619 was definitely a standout. It is a well made, very thought provoking podcast that follows the start of slavery after the first ship carrying African slaves landed in Virginia in the year 1619.

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Books

While I don’t always have the patience for suspenseful books (because I just want to know what happens NOW) The Woman in the Window was worth the read and especially worth the wait. It follows Anna, a psychologist who is currently unemployed and living alone due to a mysterious onset of agoraphobia. I listened to the audiobook  and I definitely had a few moments where I stopped dead in my tracks and gasped out loud.

Speaking of reasons to gasp, I am now listening to a book about dead bodies. Stiff is a book I started a while back and LOVED but never got the chance to finish. It is a very scientific read, but also finds a way to be quite funny as you learn about the lives (?) and history of cadavers, as well as the decomposition process as a whole. I will admit, it is not a book for everyone, but I think it’s absolutely fascinating.

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TV Shows

Depending on what you’re in the mood for, I’d first and foremost recommend Dark, which is a sci-fi show on Netflix that I’d love to explain and summarize for you but it is one of those shows that you just have to watch to understand. I was hooked after one episode and was constantly sending my brother (who recommended it to me) texts loaded with caps lock and explanation points as I watched the story unfold. Note: it is in German, but you can choose to watch it with subtitles or dubbed in English. Personally, I preferred the subtitles because I liked being able to hear the actors’ real voices. (You can find it on Netflix.)

Next, Normal People. Based on the book by Sally Rooney, this show follows the story of Connell and Marianne, who fall in love in high school, but have a lot of growing up to do  before they can find truly find their way to each other. It is beautiful and sad and a little frustrating at times, but so so good. Plus, I love any show that takes me to Ireland. (You can find it on Hulu.)

On the lighthearted, funny, and undeniably witty side: Never Have I Ever. I was pretty much sold on this show the minute I saw Mindy Kaling’s name on it, and it did not disappoint. The episodes are short and charming and often made me laugh out loud, I look forward to (and hope for!) another season. (You can find it on Netflix.)

And finally, my biggest commitment of the last couple months: The Last Kingdom. This was another recommendation by my brother, who has slowly become my Netflix guru. I was unsure at first if I could get into a show about Vikings in the middle ages, but by season three I was calling my brother, complaining that one of the characters didn’t even get to “die a warrior’s death.” So. It’s safe to say, I got into it. (You can find it on Netflix.)

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Music

I have mostly been in the mood for some slow, calming music these last couple months, but I have also had bursts of wanting to dance around to some fun, summery goodness. That being said, these are some albums that have given me both.

Lady Like by Ingrid Andress

Go Somewhere by John Splithoff

Patrick Droney by Patrick Droney

Golden Hour by Kygo

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Aveda Shampoo

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I have long been at war with my hair and I had reached a point where I thought it was as good/clean/healthy/etc. as it was going to get, but this shampoo from Aveda has changed the game for me! It popped up as a recommendation for me after looking for shampoos that can help with the ever fun combination of a dry scalp and oily roots and it has truly made all the difference! Pro tip: wash your hair twice.  (You can find it here.)

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The Daily Page Planner

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If you are someone who 1) loves being organized and 2) often has trouble staying organized, this planner is for you. It was recommended to me by someone I follow on Instagram and it is truly a treat. It helps you track your goals for the day, your water intake, your meal planning, and pretty much anything else you just want to write down and get out of your head. I like to sit down each morning and do it as I eat my breakfast, and even if I don’t get to check every box throughout the day, it is a great resource to better organize the jumbled mess that is my mind. (You can find it here.)

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Tangle Newsletter

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This is perhaps one of my favorites of my favorites because it is something that I have been looking for for a very long time. I have subscribed and then unsubscribed to a number of e-newsletters, constantly discouraged by the one sided nature of the content or overwhelmed by my lack of understanding of the content. While I want to stay informed and aware of where I stand on important issues, I find it hard to form a valid opinion when someone is essentially telling me that if I don’t agree with every aspect of their opinion I am a terrible person. Thus, I bring you Tangle, a bipartisan newsletter that gives a good roundup of important facts and figures, and then focuses in on one important issue each day and breaks down the opposing arguments.  I am currently subscribed to the free newsletter, which sends you an email every Monday-Thursday, but there is more content available with a paid subscription.  (You can find it here.)

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Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know!

See my previous favorites post here.

Getting Over the Big Bump

Up until I was nine years old, my family lived in a blue house, in a neighborhood close to our church. My dad had bought the house with a few of his friends before he met my mom, and so by the time they got married and I came along, we were very much part of the neighborhood. Our next door neighbor, Frank, always had the best Halloween candy set aside for my siblings and I, and our neighbors down the street would smile and wave when they saw us heading out on an afternoon walk—my sister and I on our bikes, and my mom walking (and eventually pushing a stroller with our brother) close behind us.

Fun fact about me: I am not a strong bike rider.

The day I learned to ride a bike (without training wheels) is a notorious one in my family, as it involved hours of me trying and failing to balance on two wheels in the cul de sac in front of my aunt’s house. There were tears, scraped knees, explosive frustration and unwavering determination. Eventually I got there, but I have never considered myself a “confident” bicyclist, even to this day.

Nonetheless, I loved riding my bike on our afternoon walks. I liked pretending I was on a safari and that I could spot wild animals running beside me. Sometimes I liked to pretend that I was being chased or that I was in the last seconds of a race I needed to win. But then, once we took a left turn onto the louder, busier street, I would see it.

Always big, though, once I got my training wheels off, it appeared nearly mountainous, there was bump in the road, mostly likely caused by an earthquake, where two chunks of sidewalk collided and raised. We called it “the big bump.”

Pre cul de sac stick-to-itiveness, I would go over this bump with my training wheels without hesitation or fear, but once I began riding on two wheels, it became an ongoing obstacle. I was suddenly very aware of how it changed the balance of my bike and could ultimately cause me to fall and get hurt. And even though we would do that walk often and I longed to approach the big bump without worry, when we made that turn and I saw it come into focus, my hands would grip tighter on the handles and my visions of being on a safari or in the middle of a race would vanish.

To my credit, I always went over the bump. And to my knowledge, I never fell. There were times when I severely slowed my pace, and there were times when I completely stopped and walked my bike over it, but I always went over it.

These days I rarely ride bikes, and when I do I rarely seek out “big bumps,” but I still find similar obstacles in my day-to-day life. Some I expect, dread even, and some come out of nowhere, but they both give me that same sense of fear I felt as a kid. And while sometimes I can connect to that girl who spent hours trying and failing and willing herself to succeed, other times I find myself looking out at that (now figurative) “big bump” and turning myself around.

I’m still scared. Scared to get hurt, scared to be thrown off balance and lose control. Scared to get stuck, scared to hold people back, and scared to get left behind. I’m scared of the consequences of going over the “big bumps,” which are no longer just scraped knees or a broken bone. Plus, what might look like a big bump to me, might not look so daunting to others and sometimes it’s hard to reconcile that what’s holding you back gave your peers no grief at all. But as scary as the big bumps seem, and no matter how often I might find them in my path, I owe it to myself to keep going over them.

When I was little, each time I made it over the big bump, I felt a swell of pride, and a small burst of confidence that next time I might go over it a little bit easier. And even though I might not be that seven-year-old girl anymore, I still have her grit, I still have her determination, and I still have people behind me willing to help me over whatever bump may enter my path.

So I’m going to keep moving, keep riding, keep walking, keeping making my way over those big bumps, because I know there are good things waiting for me on the other side.

Two Things Yoga Has Taught Me This Year

A couple months ago I mentioned that I’d gotten into a yoga series called Home on the YouTube channel Yoga with Adrienne. Since then I’ve made it into a habit to do yoga almost every day and it has done wonders for me.

As of right now, with some restrictions still in place, I am still doing yoga at home. And while I look forward to being able to get back to in-person yoga classes, with all of the resources available online, I’m not really in any hurry. Plus, taking yoga classes at home—especially on YouTube—has been far easier to work into my everyday schedule. It doesn’t matter if I get off work a little late, or if I don’t have time in the morning, the classes are available at any time, and the only way to miss them is to…not do them. That being said however, it has helped me greatly to work them into a routine, and so every day, right around the 5 o’clock hour, I roll out my yoga mat and open my computer.

When I was doing Yoga with Adrienne’s Home series, I would always head straight to whichever numbered session was next, but right now I’m working through her June calendar, which is a 30 day series that pairs together her past videos around a common theme of courage. The classes in this series range from about 15 minutes to a full hour (the longer sessions usually falling on the weekends) and they have been a little more challenging. I am glad that I started with Home, as it is a very calming, introductory series, and it focuses a lot on finding peace, de-stressing, and breathing—which is exactly what I was looking for amongst, you know, the pandemic and all. But the courage series is much more about finding strength and challenging yourself.

Now, I know that people can be on the fence about yoga, that some people don’t think it’s a good workout, some people find it boring, and others think it’s too hard, or too intimidating. I also know that in the community of people who do yoga, there a wide variety of reasons why people like it. And while I could probably research and organize and present you with all the reasons why you should give it a shot, I’m just going to tell you the two main things that working through these two yoga series have helped me with:

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1) Breathing

I am telling you, breathing is underrated. Yes, we do it all the time without even thinking about it, but when you actually take the time to take deep breaths, it does wonders. I have felt less stressed, less anxious, and overall more peaceful, not only in my mind but in my body, my eating habits, and my day to day choices. There is a specific move that I learned in one of the Home sessions that has been my go to whenever I’m feeling stressed, angry, overwhelmed, or even just hunched over my computer too much, and in case you’re interested, it is as follows:

  • Sit up straight
  • Inhale and lift your shoulders up high towards your ears
  • Push your shoulders back as if you’re trying to make your shoulders blades touch
  • Then exhale your shoulders down.

I’d say on average, I do this about five times a day.

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2) Feeling in control

Exercise as a whole has always been appealing to me because it makes me feel strong. I have gone through good and bad phases with exercising solely to try and attain a certain body shape, but I have seen a marked difference in my mindset when I do yoga. These past few months, as I’ve taken class after class, I’ve started to notice how much more in tune I am with my body, from my skin to my muscles to my joints to my bones. In practicing each day, I have realized that when an instructor says to shift my hip back or to straighten through the crown of my head so my spine can be in a straight line, I can consciously make that small adjustment, and I can feel the difference when I do. That alone makes me feel powerful. It makes me feel like I am the one in control of my body, which I don’t know if I’ve ever felt before.

I think I always believed that once I liked the way my body looked, or once I could do hundreds of sit-ups or pull ups or whichever physical feat was on my mind at the time, then I would finally feel like I was in control. But I’ve found that in slowly gaining an understanding of the body and all the intricacies that make it move, I have also found a sense of control. On top of that, in focusing on the way all the parts of my body work together, I have found myself less focused on specific areas that I don’t like or want to change. I have found an appreciation for what my body can do and what it can learn, and I believe this will help me going forward in any kind of exercise I might do.

So, if you are on the fence about yoga, I’d say give it a go. It can be a workout, a relaxation technique, or just an excuse to make you breathe—sometimes it can be all three at once. Don’t demand too much of yourself, don’t worry about your starting point, and don’t be afraid to be still. In the same vein, don’t be afraid to push yourself, to fall or to step out of your comfort zone (I’m looking at you, “lion’s breath” and “happy baby” pose).

If you want to check out the Home series, you can find it here.

And if you want to check out the June “Courage” calendar, you can find it here. (The video for each day of the series is linked in the calendar.)

Some Haikus Written By All the Plants I’ve Killed

I have a terrible track record when it comes to plants—especially house plants.

I don’t know if it is where I put them (probably not), the hot environment I live in (eh), how I water them (maybe), or if it’s just me (definitely), but I just kill them left and right. Even the “low maintenance”, “hearty”, “unkillable” plants. Once I get my hands on them, they die. It might not be immediate, but it also isn’t a long, drawn out process. I will consistently have a strong first week—or longer—in which I have time to get cocky and brag about my incredible plant child and how I am keeping it alive with my bare hands (and water), and then everything goes downhill very fast.

Eventually I’m knee deep in Google articles all telling me the yellowing of my leaves is caused by something different, and then I start putting my plant in different corners of the room, watering it more, watering it less, whispering sweet nothings to it, apologizing to it, giving up on it, finding a second wind and dedicating my entire life to it, deciding I need to approach it from different angles, occasionally lifting it up so the pot it’s in can “stretch its legs”, panicking as all the leaves start to wither, smothering it with even more water, sunlight and attention until ultimately, it meets the fate of all of its brothers and sisters that came before.

So, to remember and honor those that have been murdered by me fallen, I decided to give them a voice. To allow them to express themselves and their woes about having me as a plant mom. I am also hoping this might impress my current houseplant (who I’ve named Esther) and encourage her to stay alive.

Please, E, I’m trying my best.

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I am new, alive

Ready to grow, blossom, bloom

Wow, you killed me quick

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I need more sunlight

My leaves, my soil, they are parched

Scorched, drowned, I am dead

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Your words, they are kind

Your efforts, they are noble

But you suck at this

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Some have thumbs dipped green

Some have hands purposed for soil

You have neither, dear

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I have slipped your mind

Unwatered for days and days

I die, you TikTok

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Water, a life force

Water, a true source of hope

Waterboarded: me

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Maybe leave me be

Give me time and space to grow

Helicopter mom

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Fate has many paths

With you, it seems mine is set

Do plants go to heaven?

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Leaves, water, pots, dirt

Sunlight, temperature, food

What? I am a plant.

Why Finding Your Own Voice Can Help Everyone

Not too long ago, I did a thorough cleaning of my house in which I gave away things I didn’t use, threw away things that were broken, and, more than anything, found things I forgot I had. One such thing was a book called “Music Listography,” which I’m pretty sure I impulse bought from Target, and seeing as its copyright is from 2009, it’s safe to say I bought it a while ago.

The point of the book is to flip through the pages and fill in the music related prompts with lists of songs, bands, concerts, albums, etc, until you have a kind of music autobiography (or listography) of your life. It’s a cool idea, and the creator, Lisa Nola, has a whole series of “listography” books to help you create a simplified, listified story of your life.

Looking at it now, I have no doubt why I bought. And to be honest, there is a part of me tempted to add the rest of the series to my Amazon cart as I write this. For as a writer, it is not only important, but vital to me to constantly get to know myself—what I like, what I dislike, what I’m working towards, and what I believe in—because it helps me continue to write, which in turn helps me understand myself, the world around me, and where I fit in it.

Perhaps one of the most important things we can do with our lives is understand it. Not understand the who’s and how’s of everything and everyone around us, but the what’s and why’s of our own personalities, beliefs, behaviors, and dreams. It is important to know where we stand, and to discern and feel confident about our opinions, from music to politics to religion, and everywhere in between.

We are all born into different families and different circumstances, in different environments with different obstacles. That gives us each a unique perspective. We all have our own reasons to believe in what we believe in, and different motivations to fight for what we fight for. So it is crucial to get to know ourselves and accept ourselves, so that we may be better equipped to know and accept others. In knowing where we stand and what we believe, we are given the opportunity to talk to other people from a place of confidence and grace, rather than fear and defensiveness. It also gives us the opportunity to see a new side of things, to explore a new avenue of thinking, and perhaps even change our mind.

So as our world continues to demand change, I have made it a mission of mine to learn all that I can about the world I live in, about all the sides of it that I know and all the sides I don’t. I’m looking at different perspectives, listening to different stories, and hearing different voices. In doing so, I am getting a better idea of who I am, what I believe and how my unique voice can help advocate for this much needed change.

The day I bought that “Music Listography” book I know it was from a place of longing. I wanted to fill the book out, but I wanted to do it in a way that would be impressive to others. While I was curious about “who I was” I was more concerned with whether that person was cool. Today, as I flip through the pages, I have a much clearer idea of how I would actually fill them out, and I might even go through and cross out the answers that were so clearly reaching. For now I know the music that moves me, and I know the reasons why. And though a small part of me will always want to be “cool” I don’t want it at the expense of being honest—not just in the context of this book but in every aspect of my life.

I truly want to know and be known, so I will keep learning, keep growing, and keep listening. I will keep asking questions, not only to get an answer, but to hear the many answers until I find one that aligns with who I am and what I believe in. I will share the things that give me comfort in the hopes it can comfort others, and I will share the things that make me uncomfortable to find out why, and to see if I can help change them.

I also think it’s important to note that we all fight on different stages and at different volumes. So as we work to figure out who we are and where we stand, let us also discover how we were made to stand. It might not be in the same place, in the same spotlight, or in the same style as those we know—even those we share beliefs with. And that is okay. We all have a unique voice and a unique way to share it, and so long as we keep working to find that voice, find the honesty in it, the fight behind it, and how we can best use it, we will find our way to not only stand, but create lasting change.

An Ode to Tuna Noodles

Dear Tuna Noodles,

Thank you, for being you. Thank you for your egg noodles. Thank you for your tuna. Thank you for your cream of mushroom soup. But most of all, thank you for your 100% not organic or diet friendly or doctor recommended Velveeta cheese.

Thank you for all of the evenings that you cooked in the oven at my grandparents’ house, in my childhood homes, and in friends’ kitchens. Thank you for your heaping portions on the plastic plates that my cousins and I decorated and my grandparents kept on a shelf just for us; and for those on the spring pallet glass plates that my parents still have in their cupboard to this day; and even for those in deep set bowls that somehow still managed to encourage a second and third helping.

Thank you for being easy to make, for giving me something I could cook with my grandma and my mom, and by myself when I studied abroad and wanted a taste of home. Thank you for the memories you unlock with every bite—be it a weeknight conversation at my grandparent’s long, padded dinner table, a lazy Friday night sat on my parents’ kitchen stool with the broken leg, or a living room crowded with family, pets, and TV trays set up in front of a Dodger game.

Thank you for teaching me what comfort food is, and for giving me a recipe to share at every bridal shower I will ever attend. Thank you for giving me something to fall back on and to build up from. I’ve come a long way in my cooking, and I can only hope I have a long way to go, but you will always be my first love. So thank you for all the love. And again, for the Velveeta.

It’s Not “My Year” but it’s Something

Over the weekend I saw this post on social media and it was very encouraging to me. It talked about how so many of us spent our last few moments of 2019 praying, hoping, wishing, demanding that 2020 was going to be “our year.” It was supposed to be a year of opportunity and success. A year that would inspire us to take risks and step out of our comfort zones.

Being the start of a new decade, for many of us it also looked like a fresh start—when the tides would finally turn and bring about positive changes in our lives. I know I was among this crowd. And I know I am among so many who now feel let down. Who wish this year would just be over, or to have never happened. To be back in the naïve hope of last December, or to be crossing our fingers in the final moments of this coming December, hoping—assuming­­­—it can only get better from here.

For most of all of us, 2020 has not been “our year.” Or at least, as Alexis describes it in her post, the year we thought it would be. But that doesn’t mean it is not impactful, important, or worth seeing through.

This year has been full of challenges, restrictions, struggle, panic, fear, and heartbreak, and we have all experienced them to an extent, but those experiences are all different. We are all seeing this year with different perspectives and working through it with different strategies. In 20 years from now, we will all have different stories, different moments that stood out to us, different obstacles we had to overcome and different triumphs we made a long the way. This year will be infamous for how it affected the masses, but unique in how it affected individuals. My year is and will be different than yours, and even my mom’s, dad’s, brother’s or sister’s.

I will remember how I felt, what I was afraid of, confused by, in doubt of, or hopeful for, more than anyone around me. And I will remember my behavior, my reactions, my stresses, worries and personal discoveries more than anything I might hear from a friend or read on the news.

Whether it’s what I imagined or not, I am in “my year”—the year I anticipated all those days and hours before the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2020. And while it might not be my year to accomplish certain things or meet certain people or travel certain places, it could still be my year to learn important lessons or heal long-standing wounds. To forgive, to discover, to reprioritize, to create, to accept, to do all the things I might have continued to put off if this were just another year.

So while this year is hard—for some impossibly so—and it’s definitely not what we all hoped for, it is not over, and it still means something.

Let’s find out what that something is.

A Little Prayer for You (And Me)

Praying has never been my strong suit.

Ever since I was little I have been taught the value, importance, and power in praying, but I have never been a “good” (eloquent, confident, etc.) prayer, especially out loud or in front of other people.

But lately I have been feeling like I want to pray, for those who have faith, for those who don’t, for those who have a different faith or any degree of spirituality, anyone and everyone who might be reading this, or even those who aren’t.

Ironically, after starting this post about a week ago and then getting too nervous to post it, the pastor of my church gave a sermon all about praying. I was caught off guard listening to him, noting how some points he made seemed to directly address the fears I was having, but I was also encouraged to take a step out of my comfort zone, which brings me here today. So, if you, or anyone you know might need prayer, this is for you, and for me, and for all of us trying to find our way through this trying time.

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Dear God,

I know these last few months have been difficult for most of us, some of us more than others. And I know that I am among so many when I say that I am not just scared of what is happening now, but what could happen, tomorrow or the next day or the next—all the days ahead of us that seem so scary and unknown. There is still so much we have to learn, so far we have to go until we can regain a sense of normalcy, and the imposed limitations have begun to feel suffocating. And so, I pray that we can find a sense of peace. A calmness that doesn’t blind us or numb us to the challenges ahead, but keeps us encouraged to work through them and help one another along the way.

I pray for a peace that abides on the frontlines, bringing confidence and endurance to our nurses, doctors, and frontline workers, helping them find strength and encouragement in their work.

I pray for a peace that reaches those struggling with anxiety, depression, addiction, or any number of mental health struggles that may be exacerbated by this pandemic and its side effects.

I pray for a peace that can overshadow the panic and fears associated with losing a job or being unable to do one’s job efficiently, and can provide courage to those who need to ask for help.

I pray for a peace that can heal the hearts of those who have lost a loved one or who don’t get to see their loved ones for fear of putting them at risk.

I pray for a peace that can keep us united, even as we step further into the unknown. And I pray that we can find compassion and strength alongside each other rather than at odds with one another.

I pray for a peace that can illuminate good moments of mundane days. Whether it be a phone call, a successful pastry bake in the kitchen, a sunset, a smile, or a cool breeze.

I pray for a peace that can give us each a long, deep breath, and encourage us to keep going, along with a confidence that there is not only goodness to be found up ahead, but even right here, where we are.

Amen.

March/April Favorites

Hello there! We are back with another edition of favorites.

I’ll warn you ahead of time, we are ALL OVER the map this month, but I feel like that makes sense.

I’ve been in the mood for a little bit of everything (read: ANYTHING) and so I’ve found a little bit of everything.

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Podcasts

Just like last episode, I’m kicking us off with a dark one. The Dating Game Killer is the true story of serial killer Rodney Alcala, who is currently on death row, and actually made an appearance on the The Dating Game in the 70’s. It is a wild ride.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum: Everyday Decisions with Jo Firestone. I mentioned a specific episode of this podcast in this post, but I would highly recommend this podcast as a whole. In each episode, comedian Jo Firestone talks to one of her friends, asking them to recount what they did the previous day, from the moment they woke up to the moment they went to sleep. Not only is it fun to hear how people spend their days—because hello, I am nosy—but I also just love the simplistic conversation starter that can ultimately tell you a lot about the person you’re talking to.

And finally, in a spectrum all its own: Dolly Parton’s America. My sister is a big Dolly Parton fan, so when I found this one I was primarily excited to show it to her. But after listening to the first episode, I was hooked. It is such a fun listen that gives you a good look into an icon—highly recommend!

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Books

When looking for a new book, sometimes I’ll know exactly what I’m looking for and other times I don’t have a clue. On one of the latter days, I came across Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic by Michael McCreary, which was the “recommendation of the month” by the library and I’m so glad it was! This book is so funny, and full of great information, making it a great resource for both atypical and neurotypical people.

Next, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. I have long been on the hunt for a “favorite author” and this book by Mitch Albom pretty much sealed the deal for me. Not only is it an amazing, rich, beautifully written novel typical of Albom (see The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Tuesdays with Morrie, etc.), it is honestly one of the best books I have ever read. It follows the life of Francisco “Frankie” Presto, a prestigious musician whose life—chaotic and difficult as it was—was also full of goodness, wonder, and most of all, purpose.

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TV Shows

I was very very late to the party in watching Schitt’s Creek, but I’m just glad I’m finally here. The show follows The Roses, an extremely wealthy family who, after losing almost everything, move to a small town called “Schitt’s Creek”, which John Rose, the father of the family, had previously purchased as a joke.  This show is so funny and such a highlight to my day whenever I turn it on. (Find it on Netflix.)

Next up, Hunters! This one is definitely heavy, as it is set in the 70’s, 30 years after the Holocaust, and follows a group of Nazi hunters seeking justice for those lost. It is SO. GOOD. Very dark, at times very gory, but very good. The moment I finished season one (which, OH MY GOSH) I immediately started my impatient wait for season two.  (Find it on Amazon Prime)

Did someone say, John Krasinski? Hopefully, because that man is crushing this quarantine thing. But in other awesome things he is a part of: Jack Ryan. This is another show I was behind on, but I quickly caught up. (Find it on Amazon Prime)

And finally, Outer Banks. It is rare that you find that a show that you cannot stop watching and actively look forward to finishing your trivial responsibilities (like work, showering, etc.) so you can watch it again, but this was one of those shows for me. I just had to know what was going to happen. And while it’s hard to describe without giving anything away, one of the best descriptions I’ve heard is that it is what you would get if The OC and The Goonies had a baby. So, if that love child catches your attention, I’d give it a go. (Find it on Netflix.)

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Movies

I saw Emma in theaters (bless) with my best friend, on a Friday night at the beginning of March, which honestly seems like A LIFETIME ago. Nonetheless, I loved this movie and was delighted to learn that the book it is based on was also the inspiration for the 1995 classic Clueless.

A few weeks ago, my family sat down together for a movie night and watched last year’s Academy Award nominated Knives Out. It is the ultimate whodunnit movie that is smart, fun, and honestly kept me guessing the whole way through. It’s one of those that will be especially fun to watch a second time through to see where they dropped all the hints.

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Music

In the music world, I have been shuffling through all kinds of playlists and albums, but these are a few that I keep going back to:

The Dream by Hailey Whitters

kelsea by Kelsea Ballerini

Heartbreak Weather by Niall Horan

We Were Thunder by Lilla Vargen

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Thin Fitbit Wristband

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At the beginning of this month, my Fitbit band got a rip in it, sending me on a frantic search for a new one so I could continue to track my lack of steps. I found these on Amazon, and really like the way they look and feel. Not only are they great quality, but I personally feel like they are a better fit for my wrist than the traditional thick band.  Plus, these come in a four pack, so you have have backups and/or options if you like to change up your look. (find them here)

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This Arm Workout

For the most part, my quarantine exercise routine has consisted of yoga, Dance Church and neighborhood walks, which it has been great, but I have also been on the lookout for something new. Enter this arm workout. It may be short, it may involve no equipment, but man does it BURN.

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Sweet Tea & Bourbon

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I made it a goal of mine a year ago to try every drink on this list of “Most Iconic Drinks in Every State”, and since we’ve had a little extra time, my sister and I have been working our way through it one by one. Among those we’ve tried so far, the Sweet Tea & Bourbon from South Carolina is definitely our favorite. It is made with one-part bourbon, four parts sweet tea, and then (if you are interested) mint and lemon for garnish. It is so delicious and refreshing, perfect for these hot days. (photo credit: Sugar & Charm, check out this post of theirs that also gives you a recipe for homemade sweet tea!)

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Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know!

See my previous favorites post here.

My Quest to Find a Morning Routine (Part 2)

Just about two months ago I posted a blog explaining my want/need for a better morning routine, namely on weekdays. I have long been a chronic snooze pusher, and am often completing my morning responsibilities at somewhat of a jogging pace, and so I thought it was about time to do something about it.

To prepare, I did some research and found a handful of recommendations I could try and add to my routine in order to make it more productive, more efficient, and perhaps even *gasp* more enjoyable?

The suggestions were as follows:

1) Stop pressing snooze/try using “SmartWake” on Fitbit

2) Dream Journal

3) Stretch

4) Review your schedule/to-do list for the day

5) Do a crossword puzzle

So, let’s see how we’re doing.

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1) Stop pressing snooze/try using “SmartWake”

I won’t waste any time in telling you that I have absolutely not stopped pressing snooze. Which is a grim opener, I realize. I did turn on the SmartWake feature on my Fitbit, which is supposed to track your heart rate and use it to wake you up between sleep cycles by vibrating on your wrist. This is a very strange sensation, and it constantly confuses me. And while it was supposed to act as a bridge to no longer pressing snooze, it has instead become a bit of a crutch, in that if my alarm goes off before my SmartWake, I decide I can probably go back to sleep.

It should be noted however, that in the last week or so I changed my alarm tone from the obnoxious pre-loaded selection that came on my phone, to a song I actually like called “Tilted” by Christine & the Queens.  It has a slow, breezy start, and it wakes me up gradually rather than shockingly, and since I changed it I have not only pressed snooze less, but I find that I wake up feeling far less attacked, and thus, slightly more ready to start my day. So that’s something.

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2) Dream Journal

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a pen, let alone a journal in the opening minutes of my morning. In fact, if someone arrived at the side of my bed and demanded I write down what I dreamt about or face the pain of death, I’m honestly not sure if my morning motor skills would provide me the ability to stay alive.

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3) Stretch

I have been trying to do one big stretch as a way not only to start my morning, but tell myself that we are getting up now. I will admit though, this demand from myself usually makes me annoyed at myself.

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4) Review your schedule/to-do list for the day

I still like this idea, and I have been doing it as a part of my morning, but not necessarily the first part, and that’s okay with me. I am someone who will continue to remember things I want/need to do as I move around—it’s what makes me such a tornado when I clean. So I like getting to my to-do list after I’ve been up and moving for a while. Oftentimes once I get to work I will pull out my notebook and jot down some ideas for things I want to get done once I am off, and that has been working for me.

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5) Do a crossword puzzle

This one is just a no. I love crossword puzzles and I love the fantasy that I could sit up, stretch, let out a yawn and then crank out the LA Times daily crossword before I get ready, but that’s just never going to happen. I can add this one to my afternoon to-do list, and see if maybe I can get it done before/while I cook dinner, but it’s just not going to happen in the morning.

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So all in all, while I can’t say I have a solid morning routine, I have definitely taken some strides—my favorite being the alarm tone change. My brother is the one who suggested the change, explaining that his friend makes it a point to set his alarm to a song he likes because “it’s like your theme song and it’s what starts every new episode”—which slightly blew my mind and ultimately made me change it immediately.