This was a month of good changes. It’s taken years, but I’m learning to believe in how well God loves me and how widely He opens the world to me, and it’s changing how I make choices and how I carry myself. I’m very grateful for my life and the good things He’s placed in it; I’m praying for the wisdom to steward well.
Here are a few things that walked with me into the new.
- “Everywhere All At Once” by Post Animal. Their first full-length album came out last month and the instrumental intro is the stuff of dreams.
- “River” by Leon Bridges. Gently powerful, led by an incredible voice.
- “New Light” by John Mayer. He did that. At first you cheerfully groove along to it, and suddenly he comes in with the guitar and your jaw drops. Or maybe that’s just me? Either way, thanks for the first tunes of the summer, John.
- Cimorelli’s mashup of “No Scrubs” “Nice for What” and “Friends.” They killed this, especially in the second half. But I’ve come to expect it from these six gifted sisters.
- “Guillotine” by Jon Bellion. Infectious and so well done. “The secrets you tell me, I’ll take to my grave. There’s bones in my closet, but you hang stuff anyway…”
- Phil Collins’ “Face Value” album. My car plays cassettes, so I get to belt along to some of my favorite classics on my commute. I play Phil way too much; the song I currently belt the most passionately is “You Know What I Mean.”
- “Video Sunshine” by Knox Hamilton. I’m so happy to be getting new music from these guys! This is a dancey yet relaxed summertime jam.
- Pretty much everything by Joseph Tilley; I love his vibe and his youthful voice. Lately his song “Feelings” has been on repeat.
If you want all of this music in a playlist, I already made one! It’s on Spotify and on YouTube; scroll to the bottom for the newest additions.
- The Fugitive. A engaging action movie with a well-paced, well-told story and great performances by Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones.
- Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” music video. So much to unpack; every element means something. Brilliant.
- The movie-length pilot episode of Father Dowling Mysteries. Cheesy yet engrossing.
- This video from Emily Wilson about standing up for yourself and sharing your honest thoughts as a woman. So important to keep this truth close.
- Continued watching Chuck (currently on season four) and Designated Survivor.
- The Amazing Spider-Man #1 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley, Cliff Rathburn, and Laura Martin. Free Comic Book Day was this month and my mom found the Spider-Man comic they were giving away while I was at work. Comic books are short, especially when they’re still coming out, but I have a lot of fun reading them, especially Spider-Man.
- Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Such a helpful book with a lot of solid insight. I read it over a couple of months so I had time to let the principles take shape and to practice them. I did think a couple of times that it speaks a lot about how important it is to have boundaries and the effects of them in our lives, yet lacks a bit of instruction on how to actually go about creating them. Maybe it’s a very situational thing, though, so it would be hard to sum up? Regardless, I gained a lot of insight and assurance from reading it. [I would like to note: in some instances scripture is used a bit out of context, which bothered me.]
- The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. A collection of short, sometimes lovely, sometimes crazy fairy tales I slowly made my way through.
If you want bookish updates and full reviews from me, I’m on Goodreads.
What has been feeding you lately?
This month was a whirlwind. I feel like it just began, yet a lot has happened. I’m thankful that Jesus has been with me for every bit of it, keeping me close to Him and assuring me I’m doing just fine. I honestly didn’t consume a lot of varied art/media this month, maybe because I already felt like things were all over the place, but what I did consume? Pretty solid.
- “Never Enough” from The Greatest Showman. The hands-down best song from the film; emotionally stirring, with absolutely stunning vocals. It’s my current piano practice piece so I hear it all the time, and I’m obsessed still.
- “Stop It (Stripped)” by Sleeping Lion. Somber, yet passionate, too. I think it’s so lovely.
- “I Don’t Want U Back” by BØRNS. What a jam. It makes me dance and also feel kind of empowered about moving on from things that don’t serve me anymore.
- “Love You Like That” by Dagny. Infectious sound and sweet lyrics.
- “Open Arms” by PRETTYMUCH. So much talent! And the song takes such unexpected turns musically and it works so well. I’ve been listening to a lot of their work lately. “Healthy” is an absolute jam, too.
If you want all of this music in one place, I have a playlist! It’s on both Spotify and YouTube; just scroll to the bottom for the newest additions.
- Avengers: Infinity War. It is so, so good. I expected to like it, but I did not expect it to be this high quality. I saw it twice opening weekend, which might have been too much too soon because it made me pretty emotional, but wow it’s good. The various characters in various settings could have felt choppy and all over the place, but it’s so well-written that it’s beautifully cohesive, clearly telling one big story. And we all know I love Tom Holland, but truly: if I had never heard of him or seen him in anything before, I would be an instant fan after his performance in this movie. He absolutely nailed it. Not to discredit anyone else, because I can’t really think of an actor that phoned it in; everyone shined. And Thanos is an incredibly layered villain, it’s wild to witness. I’m rambling now, please just go see it.
- “The Cast of Black Panther Plays Would You Rather.” I want to be friends with everyone in this, please. “W’Kabi has a blanket…”
- Jenna Fischer talking about the space we take up. Love this advice; it’s not just for artists, I think it’s for anyone who feels like they have to be small.
- Honestly, so many interviews with the Infinity War cast. An embarrassing amount. It’s how I’ve been coping. I made a playlist of some of the ones I enjoyed if you want to cope with me.
- The Sound of Music. Because sometimes I listen to the soundtrack when I clean and I wanted to see the lovely visuals, too. Let’s go visit Austria someday, please.
- This video about getting triggered and how to manage it. So simple, so gentle, so comforting. “If you have strong feelings, it could mean you’re a compassionate person, rather than someone whose wound hasn’t healed… Go in the direction of comfort.” I needed this.
- Captain America: The First Avenger. I hadn’t seen it in a while and wanted a refresher. Update: it’s still great.
- Continued watching Chuck (currently on season three, with mixed feelings), Spring Baking Championship, and Designated Survivor.
- The Forgotten Way Meditations by Ted Dekker. I was afraid to read this at first because I was emerging from a season that had been really difficult, in part due to a book that had influenced my thinking and personal theology in negative, destructive ways. But when I reached a point where I felt safe and firmly planted enough to read a bit of non-fiction again, I was very grateful for what I found in this book. It’s split into three parts, and the first two parts are remarkably gospel-centered and share things in a way that is unique and clicks. I will admit, the third part did not have those same qualities to me and brought me back to a bit of a cautious place. But it is definitely still a worthwhile read.
I am reading a couple more books right now, but I haven’t finished them yet. If you want to keep up with my progress and read full reviews when they exist, I’m on Goodreads.
What fed you this month?
It’s been a month of unexpected and hard things, but also of growth through those things. I’m finally learning God redeems every hard thing and uses it for a good purpose, but that He also doesn’t give the hard things to me; He gives good, undisguised gifts and He loves me well. He’s my rock. I’m so grateful to Him. In this hard month, one way He loved me was through music and art. Here are a few of those vessels.
- The Rodgers and Hammerstein Songbook. My friend Karli gave this album to me a few years ago, and lately it has been my go-to housecleaning soundtrack. Some of my consistent favorites from it have been “The Surrey With The Fringe on Top” and “Younger Than Springtime” (William Tabbert’s voice… swoon). [I dislike both Oklahoma! and South Pacific but it doesn’t ruin the songs for me.]
- Kirsten Collins and Box of Beats’ cover of “Supernova.” Their vocals are insane. I actually like the original song by Ansel Elgort, it’s such a jam, but it does have a little profanity so I usually opt for this solid cover.
- Vance Joy’s “Nation of Two” album. He’s a wonderful songwriter who brings a gentle, authentic air to everything he makes, and his new album is a delight. My favorites from it are “Saturday Sun” “Take Your Time” and “I’m With You.”
- “June” by Briston Maroney. “Ain’t it funny how I wanted this all my life? Ain’t it funny how I got it here and it don’t seem right?” That line hit me deep. And the song is so interesting and unexpected instrumentally, too.
- “gone.” by Day Bit. Something fun yet emotional to put on repeat and somehow feel motivated by.
- NÄM’s “Umlaut” ep. I heard one song from it and was wowed by how it encompassed my musical taste from at least three different stages of my life; it was simply too special and made me look up the rest of their catalogue. This whole ep is absolutely lovely, mixing modern electronic sounds with homey singer-songwriter vibes.
- “Favorite Mistake” by Regal. Nostalgic in an edgy way, if that makes sense? Like it reminds me of what I listened to in the early 2000s also lets me feel some 2018 angst?
- “Please Don’t Leave Me Like This” by Edward & Jane. Feels warm and haunting at the same time. The title alone made me want to like the song, and I wasn’t disappointed.
- “High Altitude” by Davis John Patton. So lovely and gentle. “Just keep your eyes locked ahead; I know the fear you feel. Every time you look down, know I’ve fallen farther than we could…”
- Walk Off The Earth’s cover of “Hey Ya!” This song is already a jam and makes me dance every time, but these guys brought their own fun to it– along with killer vocals– and I’m into it. I’ve been listening to it every day. For sure check out the video, too!
- “Part of It” by Relient K. Oldie but goodie. “It’s not the end of the world, just you and me.”
- “I Think I See You Now” by Tina Boonstra. Calming and beautiful.
- “Creatures” by Glass House Point. Such good vibes; cozy yet energizing.
- “Better With You” by Jesse McCartney. Yes, that Jesse McCartney! His new song is so sweet.
If you want all of this music in a playlist, I’ve made it! It’s on Spotify and YouTube. I use it all year, so scroll to the bottom for the newest additions.
- Chris Evans’ Advice for People with Anxiety and Depression. I’ve adopted “shh” over the past few months, and it truly is weirdly profound. It quiets the brain noise, and allows me to hear Jesus whispering, “Peace, be still.”
- Way too many videos about polishing a resumé. This one was the most practical and helpful for me so I’m sharing in case you’re in the same stress-boat. We’ve got this!
- The Intern. Such an adorable film! Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway are wonderfully matched co-stars telling a delightful story. The characters face some hardships, but the tone manages to stay lighthearted and uplifting. By the way, can De Niro’s character be my adoptive grandpa? Because I love him to bits.
- Thor: Ragnarok. Because it came out on dvd this month and it still makes me scream with how funny and good it is.
- Chuck. My mom and I needed a new series to watch, and this one is fun, goofy, and heartfelt, with a bit of spy action for good measure. It also reminds me why I had that big crush on Zachary Levi in college. We’re on season two right now. [My only complaint is that the women in the show exist almost exclusively for the eyes of men; Sarah and Ellie are the two that have more substance.]
- Spring Baking Championship. Because I’m a nerd and I can watch the baking and decorating process for hours.
- The new Infinity War trailer. Giggles and tears simultaneously. I’m so ready to see this film next month!
- Matthew Hussey’s advice videos. He’s a life coach who focuses on helping women navigate dating, and while a lot of his materials have cheesy/click-bait titles that don’t reflect the scope of the content, he really does have a lot of practical wisdom to share. He’s direct and tells the hard truth sometimes, yet it’s still somehow encouraging and leaves me feeling empowered to make good choices. Some videos I’ve gleaned from include this one on over-investing, this one on seeking closure, this one on pacing, this one on being ghosted, and this one on getting over a breakup. [Don’t worry, by the way, I’m doing well!]
- Black Panther. Fantastic cast, relevant and tactfully approached themes, and one of the better Marvel movie villains.
- Continued watching The Good Doctor, Designated Survivor, and Worst Cooks in America.
- “For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned.” by Farhad Manjoo for The New York Times. An interesting look at how the culture of online news can cultivate anxiety and a sense of false insight in us. I think there’s pros as well as cons, but it’s important to understand the cons and make choices with them in consideration.
- “When Your Soul Has a Bad Idea” by Emily P. Freeman. Such an important and valuable insight. “The answer to dealing with the shocking thoughts that come into my mind isn’t to try to stop having bad thoughts. The answer for me is to refuse to be shocked in the first place and instead, be loved. Be small. Belong to Christ.”
I’m still reading those five books I said I was reading last month and I’ve honestly made no progress in any of them; I simply haven’t been in a place where I want to put extra thoughts into my mind. If you want to keep up with my reading progress when I eventually start making some again, I’m on Goodreads.
What fed you this month?
Normally, I count down to the end of winter because nothing seems to happen during it. But this month was full of events and experiences, both externally and internally. I’m learning a lot and taking steps forward that I’ve been afraid to take; it’s scary, yes, but it’s honestly beyond time I braved a greater extent of life. Here’s some of the art and media I’ve been taking with me.
- “Clear Picture” by Montell Fish ft. CASS. I love when a song is a jam and full of uplifting truth at the same time. These two artists are some of my favorites in the indie Christian music scene right now, so I was excited to see they’d collaborated.
- “Counting Sheep” by Shakey Graves. Happy to be hearing new things from him! This song is dreamy yet gritty and I love that he’s mastered that marriage.
- “So Good to Me” by Cory Asbury. Something helpful and encouraging for me to play on repeat as I learn more about God’s goodness.
- Johnny Cash’s version of “You Are My Sunshine.” For the cheesiest reasons. Although most of it is definitely a sad song, the guitar and the calm air are lovely.
- “Good Now” and “I Forgot You” by Phangs. His new ep “Happy Season” came out this month and these two songs are my favorites from it (though the whole album’s concept is such a sweet one). Both are so lyrically on point for me; the first is wonderfully happy, the second wildly empowering in the most emotional way. And he injects such a good vibe into it all.
- “Dance Forever” by Allstar Weekend. A no-shame high school jam I rediscover every once in a while.
- The Hunts’ “Darlin’ Oh Darlin'” album. Tears came to my eyes after the first few notes, and I danced and smiled before I even knew what was happening. Listening to this album is like taking a retreat to the mountains and being filled with the assurance that everything will be okay. I am awed by it. I tried but I genuinely couldn’t pick favorites from it.
- “Ralphie” by Post Animal. They announced a new album and tour for this year, and this single that came out with the announcement is a fun hint of what’s to come. We can always count on them to take us back to the 1970s. Not that I was there to begin with but still.
- “Butterflies” by Kacey Musgraves. Such a joyful and heartfelt song about unexpected love.
- “Slide” by Chris Howland ft. Joey Jewish. Another lyrically solid jam.
- “Kings and Queens” by Mat Kearney. This is his latest release from his upcoming album and I’m a bit obsessed with it at the moment; I got to see him play it in concert this month and he was wonderful. He’s still on tour (with Andrew Belle, whom I also love and was able to chat with!) if you want to check out if he’s coming to your city!
- Cimorelli’s cover of “Now or Never.” Palpably passionate and makes me want to scream along.
If you want all of this music in one place, I have a playlist! It’s on Spotify and YouTube; I use it for the whole year, so scroll to the bottom to find the newest additions.
- Worst Cooks in America. Ridiculous and probably over 80% staged but I crack up every week.
- The Mentalist. We finished the final season this month, and I already miss spending my weekday evenings with the characters! I have to admit, the mid-season bombshell that was dropped in season six wasn’t what I expected and felt like a bit of a let down for a while, but I grew to accept it and see it was somewhat realistic, as even Jane had been surprised. And I love where the series went from there and getting to fall for some wonderful new characters. I’m glad I spent the time I did in this series.
- Bullet journaling videos. If you’ve been keeping up with me the past few months, you’ll know that I love peeking into others’ journals and seeing their creative ways of formatting and decorating everything. This month I enjoyed Kristan Makl’s 2017 flip-through and Sarah Swan’s video on how she collages her spreads (I am obsessed with her style), among others.
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Inspiring, but not in a superficial way. I hear people talk about it like it’s a movie that says, “Go travel the world!” But I see it as a movie that encourages us to be who we are and do what we long to do despite the setbacks we face. Walter is a wildly relatable, tangible character and it’s special to see him learn that lesson.
- Zozaleenie. I’ve only opted to get notifications from two of my YouTube subscriptions ever; Zoe is one of them. I cannot get enough of her content. She’s hilarious and so creatively artistic and I don’t know how she balances those things so well in her projects but I am into it.
- Kids Baking Championship. I literally refer to it as “my kids.” Like, “Ooh, my kids are on tonight!” Maybe I have a problem? But they’re all so sweet and talented, and even though it’s a competition they’re always encouraging each other in their projects. We need to get on this level, adult world!
I’m reading five books right now but I haven’t completed any of them yet because I’m trying to take care of my brain and be gentle with myself. In the meantime, I’m on Goodreads if you’d like to keep up with what I’m reading (and see my full reviews once they exist).
What fed you this month?
The first month of this year was already better than pretty much any month of last year, so that’s a big thumbs up from me. I’ve really been focusing on what I tell myself and what thoughts I let live in my head; thoughts are physical things in our brains that we either plant, water, or remove, and they affect how we live and how we interact with the world around us. As a result of learning that, my media intake has become a bit more sparse as I’ve been growing a bit more picky about it. These were some things that made the cut.
- Post Animal. I know I mentioned them last month, but I’ve still been listening to all their work pretty consistently. If a modern take on psychedelic 1970s rock sounds like your thing, you’ll love them. Some of my favorites include “Goggles” “Eel” “When I Get Home” and “You Were Not There.”
- John Mayer’s “The Search for Everything” album. I’ve loved it since it came out last year, but this month it was something I listened to as a long lullaby as I went to bed. The ones special to me lately are “Emoji of A Wave” “Theme from ‘The Search for Everything'” (I’m a sucker for a good instrumental interlude) and “Changing.”
- “I Want U” by Joseph Tilley. Happy, fun, young vibes I can’t get enough of. I also like his song “Mad,” too, for similar reasons.
- “Morning” “Scream So Loud” and “I Won’t Lie to You” by Francis and The Lights. They’re all about two minutes long (like most of the album) and for some reason that’s just magical. I love his sound and his simple but punchy lyricism. It makes me want to make more music myself.
- “Jack and Jill, Pt.2” by The Gray Havens. So joyous and uplifting to me.
- Joey Stamper’s medley of “Perfect” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” I just need him to cover every song in existence, please, because he makes even the best songs better. His voice and his arrangements are simply incredible. And I love how seamless the medley is, down to the lyrics. Yes, yes, yes to every bit of this.
- “Call It Home” by Jillian Edwards. Calm and sweeping and lovely.
- Pretty much anything by Shakey Graves, but his iconic Audiotree session might be my favorite (though there’s an unsavory word in one song, if that bothers you). Every performance of his is a different take on his songs, so he just never gets old and his whole-heartedness continually shines. By the way, he just announced that he’s releasing a new album for the first time in four years!
If you want all of this music in a playlist, I already made it! It’s on Spotify and YouTube.
- Esmee Heebing’s 2017 bullet journal flip-through. I love seeing inside other people’s journals and getting inspiration for my own. Her style is so lovely and fun.
- You’ve Got Mail. The Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan rom-com we deserved.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’m not a hardcore Star Wars person so I don’t have a strong opinion about it in that sense, but I liked it! It was a really enjoyable movie experience and I thought it had a lot to offer.
- Beat Bobby Flay. Am I saying it’s great? Not really. But did I watch it for hours and die laughing as we made absurd jokes about it? Oh, yes.
- The Greatest Showman. The soundtrack is so so good and the visuals are colorful and gorgeous. The plot is pretty basic, but it’s still entertaining and definitely worth seeing. Hugh Jackman can adopt me.
- The Spider-Man: Homecoming panel at ACE Comic Con with Tom Holland, Laura Harrier, and Jacob Batalon. I’ve missed getting new interviews with them! Watching this felt like a reunion with my friends.
- The Office. A season and a half in one afternoon. So bad but so good.
- Continued watching The Good Doctor and The Mentalist regularly.
- The Nutcracker Mice by Kristin Kladstrup. A cute concept and story. I wasn’t incredibly engaged, but I think it was just due to the fact that it’s meant for younger readers (ages 7-10, which I didn’t notice was clearly stated on the back, oops). This would be a fun book to read as a family.
- The 21 Day Brain Detox program by Dr. Caroline Leaf. There was a toxic, painful thought that had been lingering in me for far too long. I wanted it out, but I just felt too haunted by it and tied to it. This program my grandma and aunt recommended and sent to me was such a helpful, eye-opening process to go through. I don’t feel haunted anymore, and that honestly is something I didn’t think I’d ever be able to say. I am so grateful to be transformed by His mercy and the renewing of my mind.
I’m on Goodreads if you want full reviews and bookish updates from me.
What has been feeding you lately?
This tweet pretty much sums it up:
What a wild year. I’m walking into 2018 hopeful about seeing the redemption and rest that will come from all that happened in 2017. That being said, this year also held a lot of good and brought many joys. I’ve been sharing some of the art and media that pointed me to that good every month, and I hope these posts have been bringing some good into your life, too. Here’s the last one of the year.
- My Christmas playlist. Like, almost exclusively. I don’t want to encourage you to listen to Christmas music outside the proper season, but you could save the playlist for next year, right? It’s on YouTube and Spotify. You do you. I trust you…
- “WAYD” by Rusty Clanton. There’s something so sweet and nostalgic yet mature in it. I had it on repeat all day the first time I heard it.
- “Windows Down” by Big Time Rush. Because my brother posted a photo of them as a joke but it reminded me they had some jams.
- Post Animal. I’m obsessed with their 70s-inspired psychedelic rock vibe, how they take something classic yet make it uniquely their own. I’ve been listening to their entire catalogue over and over.
- “Talk:Listen” by Zealyn. So beautiful and moody. I had a sudden burst of memory from a few years ago when she was on American Idol, so I decided to see what she was up to and was so pleased to find such lovely things.
If you want all this music (aside from the Christmas stuff) in one place, I have a playlist! I’ve been compiling it all year with my monthly favorites, and I love how it’s turned out. You can find it on both YouTube and Spotify.
- Actors on Actors interviews from Variety. I love getting to eavesdrop on such unique and intelligent conversations. Recent favorites include Jeff Bridges and Matthew McConaughey, Gal Gadot and Kumail Nanjiani, Millie Bobby Brown and Evan Rachel Wood, and Hugh Jackman and Willem Dafoe; they all have great connections and obvious reverence for one another, and it’s just so nice to see, even if some of the topics go over my non-industry head.
- The Little Princess. Shirley Temple is eternally lovely and this classic, wonderful story still shines.
- Stowaway. Another Shirley Temple film I watched while visiting my grandma.
- Many, many Hallmark Christmas movies. I don’t even care that the plot is always the same, I can appreciate movies that do not at all remind me of real life and let me escape into a cheesy love story for a little while.
- My favorite Christmas movies. Jingle All The Way makes up half of my daily vocabulary, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town is just so cozy for me, and Eloise at Christmastime is one of my favorite Christmas love stories.
- Joe Keery interviews. I just love him; I feel like we’d be good friends. Favorites include this one in which he and Gaten Matarazzo give advice to strangers, this one in which he just has an interesting conversation (I haven’t watched Stranger Things because I’m a baby but he makes things fun regardless), this one in which he makes a talk show appearance and shares some funny stories, and this one in which he plays Dungeons and Dragons between questions.
- Good Mythical Morning with Jack Black as a guest. They played a game I need to figure out how to play with my friends, and they also remixed Christmas songs. But I’m pretty sure these three guys together would be absolutely hilarious doing anything.
- Castle in The Sky. I saw the first little bit of this movie when I was in grade school, but I didn’t get to finish it. My mom knew I’d always wondered how it ended so she found it for me for Christmas! We watched it together along with my brother and enjoyed the fun, interesting, fantasy-laced story.
- Thor: Ragnarok. Such a blast to watch! I love Marvel movies period, but it’s nice to see one not take itself too seriously and still be engaging and cool.
- I continued watching The Good Doctor, Designated Survivor (both currently on winter breaks), and The Mentalist (I’m on season six and it’s gotten real).
- Messenger by Lois Lowry. Not my favorite installment of The Giver series; it was just a bit messy and didn’t explain things well enough for me. However–
- Son, also by Lois Lowry, was so good. Claire is a loveable, strong character in every circumstance she winds up in and I was always rooting for her. It was interesting to see familiar territory through her unique perspective, as well as explore some new things. Not only did the book give explanations and closure I needed from the series, it was also just a good story.
I’m on Goodreads if you want to see full reviews from me and keep up with my reading progress.
What fed you this month? This year?
What. A. Month. What a year, actually. I’ve spent a lot of it in accidental isolation, so this next month (and the upcoming year) for me are going to be about ending that. Part of the isolation has meant the companionship of art and media to help me feel somewhat connected and awake. But I’m learning that having a plethora of information and ideas around me all the time isn’t always a good thing, so I’ve been reducing my intake a bit. Here are some of the things that felt worthwhile.
- “To Have You Around” by Zach Winters. Almost like a daydream. I’ve been singing it under my breath a lot.
- “Better Than I Used to Be” by Mat Kearney ft. AFSHeeN. Mat has been one of my favorite artists for a long time, and he is still consistently good. His new single is a fun pop anthem with his own unique flair. I’m hoping to see him on his upcoming tour next year!
- Jon McLaughlin’s “Promising Promises” album. A classic for me. I forget how absolutely in love I am with it; it makes me physically smile and tear up. So, so good. He’s just a master at what he does. My favorite songs from it might be “Promising Promises” “You Never Know” and “If Only I.” But seriously, listen to them all, please. I’ve been listening to so much of his music lately. He just released a Christmas ep, by the way, and it’s wonderful!
- “Show Me (Like It’s My Birthday)” by Christian Collins. If you’ve been keeping up with me for a while, you know how much I adore Chris. He’s recently resolved to put out more of his music, and not only am I proud of him, but I’m also pretty happy to hear new things from him. This is a jam.
- “Easy Love” and “Paris in The Rain” by Lauv. I love his fresh sound and his youthful yet knowing voice. You can tell he puts a lot of thought into every element of his music; both of these songs are fun to listen to, but they go deeper, too. “Easy Love” in particular has made me think a lot, about the tendency we have to sell ourselves short and deny ourselves good things because they seem too easy to be real.
- Kevin “K.O.” Olusola’s cover of “Sign of The Times.” One of the best uses of a loop pedal I’ve witnessed; gorgeous and a jam at the same time. Plus, his voice is killer and he’s simply talented in general.
- Jillian Edwards’ “Daydream” album. She’s a songwriting inspiration to me. Nearly everything she creates is like a warm and comforting lullaby, but with more complexity and finesse. Her voice just feels so kind. Some of my favorites from this album include “Apologies” and “Daydream.”
- I just pulled my Christmas playlist out of storage! I try to update it on both YouTube and Spotify throughout December.
If you want all of this music (minus the Christmas stuff) in one place, I have a playlist for that, too! It’s on YouTube and on Spotify; scroll to the bottom for the newest additions.
- Interstellar. I went into it thinking it was just another drama set in space, but I was so wrong. This film is incredible. The actors are top notch, the twists are unexpected and emotion-stirring, and it’s such an original, interesting story. I loved it.
- La La Land. It’s just so lovely, and easy to nestle into on a melancholy day.
- “Breaking Thor with Chris Hemsworth” on The Tonight Show. Stupid but made me laugh when I needed to laugh.
- Rhett and Link’s “Cockroach Cuddling Challenge.” I cried laughing.
- The Snow Queen, a Russian animated film from 1957. I happened upon it somehow, and it is just gorgeous. I can’t get over the backgrounds and the all the details in the artwork; the character design of the Snow Queen especially is beautiful and intimidating. It’s a magical escape to take with a unique story for an hour. There’s a 1995 English re-release in which the voice actress does an incredible job bringing the Snow Queen such power and grandeur, but the original is also available with English subtitles and I much prefer its soundtrack (and the dialogue isn’t as cheesy).
- Benny and Joon. Unexpectedly adorable. The characters are fun and interesting and I rooted for them. Its portrayal of mental illness isn’t groundbreaking, but it also isn’t romanticized or too exaggerated. [Disclaimer for those of you like me who’d want to know ahead of time: there’s one scene where you know things are getting a little spicy, but you don’t witness it happen.]
- The Giver. I wanted to see the film version after reading the book (and after becoming a fan of Brenton Thwaites). I’d heard mostly disappointed reviews, but I personally really enjoyed it. The changes they made didn’t change the core of the story. I teared up during the montages of memories, reminded that living with both joy and pain is far better than living with neither. And, of course, I thought Brenton was a wonderful Jonas.
- Arrival. I feel like I need to watch it a second time to better grasp it, but at the same time I love that my first reaction when the credits began rolling was to put my hands to my temples and repeatedly whisper, “What…” The twist was so unexpected. I love when sci-fi stories are eerie and use fantastical elements elegantly, instead of just screeching, “LOOK! ALIENS!” I loved these aliens! Because they were mysterious characters lurking in shadow, but they truly were characters and contributed so much. And Amy Adams did a stellar job in her role and for sure deserved an Oscar nomination for it.
- The first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War. Tears of joy came to my eyes. I am so, so excited about this film. We’ve been enjoying movies in this universe for ten years now, and to see it culminate in something like this is mind-blowing and just makes me feel so profoundly happy.
- Continuing to watch The Mentalist (on season five right now), The Good Doctor (it’s beginning to capture my heart), and Designated Survivor (mixed feelings but overall I’m enjoying it).
- The Giver by Lois Lowry. I was drawn to it because of the super interesting premise, and while it wasn’t fast-paced like I expected, I still enjoyed it and its cozy yet apprehensive tone; I like it more and more the longer I linger on it. Making seemingly common discoveries along with Jonas brought a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation.
- Gathering Blue, also by Lois Lowry. I love the way Lowry writes unspoken questions into her stories. While this book doesn’t have direct connection to its companion The Giver (that I know of so far, at least; I’ve just started the third book), there’s still the presence of a society that is accepted by those living in it but is also unsettling and highly controlled. The questions a story of societies like this bring up are huge and important. Yet I also like that Lowry doesn’t necessarily provide answers in her stories. Instead, she provides moments of waking up to the presence of the questions, and optimism for the future. And she uses loveable, humble characters to be the vessels of that optimism as we follow them in their journeys of waking up and becoming determined to make things better.
- “Secrets of The Marvel Universe” with Vanity Fair. I’m just such a fan of Marvel and the films they’ve been putting out the past ten years (as you well know by now), so getting to hear from the people behind it and see the new photoshoot was fun and interesting.
- I’m on Goodreads if you want to see full book reviews from me and follow along as I read.
What fed you this month?