the magic strings of frankie presto book

17 Things that Inspired Me This Year (List-cember #5)

No matter the year, no matter the season, there are always going to be things that inspire us. Things that make us want and dream or fight and persevere, things that make us laugh or dance or cheer or all of the above. My personal favorite are the things that spark your interest, perhaps in a way you don’t quite understand yet, and then simmer in your mind until their full understanding comes to light. This year, there were many things that inspired me, both as a writer, a woman, a daughter, a sister, a dreamer and just as a human.

Here are some of those things:

1) These podcast episodes

I listened to a lot of great podcasts this year (many of which I listed on my rec roundup) but there were a couple episodes that particularly stood out and had me feeling all the feels.

  • Rachel Hollis Podcast, Episode #151: Reclaim Your Magic w/ Elizabeth Gilbert (which inspired this blog)
  • Heavyweight, Episode #32: Vivian
  • Straight Up with Trent Shelton, Episode #46: Three Things You Need to Disarm to Bring Your Greatness to the World

2) This quote from Untamed

“Being fully human is not about feeling happy, it’s about feeling everything.” – Glennon Doyle

3) I Left the House Today by Cassandra Calin

I saw this book at Target and more or less impulse bought it because I liked the title and the first few comics I saw inside. Once I brought it home, I then proceeded to read the entire book in one sitting. It is relatable, honest, heartfelt, clever and so funny. Highly recommend!

4) @carrychalk on Instagram

5) Yoga with Adriene

Yoga was an absolute lifesaver for me this year. It gave me a sense of calm when the entire world was in chaos, and it helped me find a routine when I didn’t have motivation to do much of anything. Yoga with Adriene in particular was such a blessing as she became not only a teacher, but a friend during such a lonely time. I would recommend her to anyone and everyone, no matter your yoga level or experience. She is wonderful!

6) This song by Riley Clemmons

7) Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw

“In entertaining failure, you will embrace it.”

“You have a purpose in this life. God has you here for a reason. You may not know it, but He does. Your job is to find it. No one else can. You need to understand that your purpose may be great in the eyes of the world, or it may be commonplace and seemingly small.”

“The pursuit is the purpose.”

Also check out this blog post inspired by a story in the book.

8) @drawings_for_my_grandchildren on Instagram

This account is run by a husband and wife who are using social media to leave behind stories and lessons for their grandchildren. Often there are drawings that go along with stories and they are so sweet and creative and emotional. I am always excited to see a new post from them.

9) Gerald Stratford

This is truly the most delightful, wholesome Twitter account that exists. Gerald doesn’t want to talk politics, he doesn’t want to yell and scream, he just wants to show you the vegetables he is growing and I am HERE FOR IT GERALD.

10) Little Women

I saw this movie in theaters early this year, and even though most days from March to now are a blur, I can still vividly remember sitting beside my best friend in the movie theater, our cheeks wet from crying, unable to move even as the lights came on and people started to leave. I love this movie and often watch it whenever I’m looking for a spark of inspiration—or a good cry.

11) Kobe

Growing up in Los Angeles, Kobe always had a special place in my heart, but it was truly remarkable to see the impact he had on so many lives, worldwide. In the weeks and months that followed his tragic passing, I marveled at the widespread unity that came with the grief. I read and watched so many stories, including this one, which I can still barely watch without crying, but I have loved to see the term #girldad come to life in its wake.

12) The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

“What you’re thinking about can be what you become.”

“But even beginnings have beginnings.”

“As life goes on, you will join other bands, some through friendship, some through romance, some through neighborhoods, school, an army. Maybe you will all dress the same, or laugh at your own private vocabulary. Maybe you will flop on couches backstage, or share a boardroom table, or crowd around a galley inside a ship. But in each band you join, you will play a distinct part, and it will affect you as much as you affect it.”

13) folklore & evermore by Taylor Swift

I mean, how dare she? But also, thank goodness.

My favorites on folklore are peace, my tears ricochet & invisible string.

My (early) favorites on evermore are ivy, marjorie & gold rush.

14) This story

Please take the time to read the whole thing. It will make your day, I promise.

15) Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen

“When we listen to lies about our worth, we naturally back away from others. In many cases, our distancing behavior succeeds in pushing people away, reinforcing our fear of rejection. This is a classic mind trap, a self-fulfilling thought pattern in which our insecurity feeds our isolation, which in turn feeds the lie that we are worthless and nobody really gets us or cares to. We feel unseen and unloved, and to protect ourselves from further rejection, we won’t let anyone close enough to change our perception.”

16) Some Good News on Youtube

I LOVED this series started by John Krasinski on Youtube and often ugly cried throughout. This episode was particularly amazing because, well, HAMILTON.

17) The Monday Club

I’ve been subscribed to this weekly newsletter by Hannah Brencher for a while now and it is the perfect way to start my week. She never fails to speak to my heart and inspire me, and I have many an email from her saved and starred in my inbox.


Check out more List-cember posts here.

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.