What I’m Into – March 2016

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Every March blows through at lightning speed for me–this month roared in as per usual.  It was a bit of a ‘breather’ month, as I just finished a rush of musical theatre performing in February, with March being the start of a break from rehearsals and performances.

We’ve had no winter weather at all this year, and now that its spring–we’ve had billowing gusts of wind that are making it cold.  Texans in general don’t like that sort of thing down here, but being a transplant, I LOVE it.

{Soon enough, it will be summer and Texas will be 1000 degrees every.single.day.  So there’s that.}

But I digress with my weather report.  I am reading good books and working on writing and my YouTube channel in earnest.  We’re taking some really fun trips next month, so I enjoyed being a homebody in March.

{As usual, any pennies earned from the affiliate links below, if used, go towards keeping the lights on here at ye olde blog – thanks!}

Books

What I Read

For the Love: Fighting For Grace In A World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker

This was a fun read, but I must confess I had mixed feelings with this one.

Just enjoying the book as a lighthearted romp of essays {with a few serious, well thought out chapters peppered amongst the humor, no doubt to garner some depth} is probably the best way to read this book.   I laughed out loud like most people would at her ‘Thank You Notes’ essays, which included nuggets like  “Thank you, AutoCorrect, for making me appear simultaneously like an English professor and a perverted gangster.”.  I also applauded her wisdom and well-earned insight on her experience with the Church.

Sometimes though, I have to admit that I felt like I was reading a book of essays by ‘the cool Christian girl’.  I don’t say that lightly or smugly–Jen grew up in my hometown, knows people well that I know and love and no doubt is a hometown girl after my own heart.  Being that there’s way less than six degrees of separation between us, I would love to meet her one day.  But often when I turned these pages, there was an overarching tone in her writing voice that felt like the Christian head cheerleader or the woman at church that EVERYONE fauns over was being way more witty and fun than anyone else in the room.  That isn’t the best way to describe it, but its the closest way I know how.

Jen is fantastic writer, and I had a lovely time reading this book, but I think I honestly preferred her previous bestseller Seven, perhaps because it felt a touch more authentic.  For the Love would be a perfect & delightful summer/beach read if you enjoy Hatmaker’s books.

{Nothing but love to Jen here, I’m just being honest.  I think she would appreciate that.} 

Accidental Saints: Finding God In All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber

I first started reading Nadia’s follow-up to Pastrix {one of my favorite spiritual memoirs} last fall right when it was released.  Pastrix was more of her coming-to-faith memoir story, while this one felt like story vignettes from her current pastoral life–I loved it almost as much as her memoir.

As has been the case with a variety of my reads this year, I put this book down at the end of the 2015–NOT because it wasn’t stellar–but because of the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

I picked Accidental Saints back up this month, and read the end of the book during Holy Week.  Given the state of my spiritual journey these days, it was the PERFECT thing for me to read moving into Easter.   I particularly loved the chapter titled Judas Will Now Take Your Confession, where she considers Judas, his betrayal, and the state of grace around him–it was fascinating and wise and heartbreakingly beautiful.  This book is the exact type of nonfiction spiritual memoir I love–a must read.  {FYI: She doesn’t hold back on colorful language, beware if that’s a problem for you.}

Nadia is speaking at this year’s Festival of Faith and Writing next month, and I CAN’T WAIT to hear her in person!

What I’m Reading

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{Just call me the memoir-reading-queen.}

Evolving In Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans, Brazen by Leanna Tankersley, Roots & Sky by Christie Purifoy, The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, Healing Oils, Healing Hands by Linda Smith, Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey, Still Life by Louise Penny and Coming Clean by Seth Haines.

 

Blogisphere Beauts

When Its Frustration That Gets the Ball Rolling by Anne Bogel

Are you frustrated right now? That’s okay. That’s good, actually. It doesn’t mean you’re a grump or a grouch. It means you have a spark. It’s the beginning of a big idea, the beginning of change.

 

In Praise Of A Holy Imagination by Emily Freeman

We have the power to spin the invisible into something we can see through our choices and our words – it sounds mythical, but really it’s just living.

 

The Robcast interview with Glennon Doyle Melton I listened to this podcast in the car, and I honestly need to listen to it again with a pen and paper, because Glennon was dropping truth bombs in this interview from the get-go!

Favorite Moments

Virtual Voice Lessons

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I’m back in the swing of weekly voice lessons with my vocal coach, Katti.  I never thought I would have such a great experience with working with a vocal coach online, as opposed to in person.  Katti is on the road with her husband, who is a professional sound designer on Broadway musical tours, so she ‘virtually’ connects with all of her students online.

She’s a phenomenal teacher, and a dear soul friend.  Professional, helpful, generous, honest and so helpful–one of my friends who is also her student has aptly dubbed her the Voice Whisperer!  Consider checking out her website if you’re interested in voice lessons–she’s fantastic!

Sunday in the Park

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My sweet husband, pup and I had fun in a local park this month.  We all soaked up the sunshine and our sweet pup Daph enjoyed stalking the squirrels!

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I loved finding this cute spring gnome in my local Target dollar spot–I even found a matching green one a few weeks later–and our flower garden now looks like an Easter dream land!

Easter

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We absolutely adored celebrating Easter this year.  Usually we travel to see my husband’s family, but this year we stayed home where the sunny skies were luminous.  We enjoyed worshipping at our home church, had a non-traditional and delicious sushi lunch, then came home and planted flowers in our garden, which felt like the perfect activity for Resurrection Sunday.

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The greenhouse/nursery near our house was the PERFECT place to visit on Easter Sunday–so many gorgeous flowers were in bloom, I couldn’t stop taking pictures and breathing deep all the floral scents.

 Quintessential Oil Favorites

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Eucalyptus Globulus: This was a new-to-me-freebie oil in March’s Essential Rewards order that I LOVE.  I’m naturally drawn to Young Living’s blend, RC {which stands for Respiratory Care} that has 3 different types of Eucalyptus in it–this one included.  I apply it to my chest and under my nose and diffuse it for respiratory support. I also loved mixing it in the diffuser with Lavender. Divine.

Twelve Oils of Ancient Scripture Kit

I saved up free points for MONTHS to get this pricey kit free from Young Living –it arrived on Holy Week, which was the perfect time to enjoy it.  I filmed an unboxing for my YouTube channel {check it out below}–I’m looking forward to going through each oil in the kit in a video series that’s coming in May!

 

More March Favorites

I absolutely love making Favorites Videos for my YouTube channel – check out my additional favorites in the video below:

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month

Attending the Festival of Faith & Writing in Michigan {who else is going? Give me a shout out in the comments – would love to connect!}, working out and taking tap classes in earnest, hosting my best friend’s baby shower, celebrating my birthday and taking an anniversary trip with my husband to the Grand Canyon!

What were you into this month?

{Leigh’s linkup is a regular monthly favorite.}

What I’m Into – February 2016

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If I thought January was a whirlwind, February quickly became a cyclone!  For me, most of the month was about performing in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie – from weekly rehearsals to the fastest tech week process I’ve EVER experienced, to the wonderful gift of a 3 week show run.  {A rarity at regional theatres in my neck of the woods}.

I also snuck in any available minute to spend time with my hubby.  We enjoyed a visit from my husband’s Mom, I read a few fantastic books and got excited about planning my best friends baby shower and starting to write again.

{As usual, any pennies earned from the affiliate links below, if used, go towards keeping the lights on here at ye olde blog – thanks!}

Books

What I Read

After You by JoJo Moyes

I didn’t know what I was going to think about the sequel to one of my favorite fiction reads of 2015.  I very much appreciated that Moyes took the time to flesh out an interesting sequel story for Lou, the protaganist in Me Before You.

 I would gander a guess that many diehard fans of Moyes’ first book didn’t like this book as much as its predecessor, but I don’t think the intention was for this story to have that same kind of lustre.  I was sucked into the story quicker than I expected, and I felt the resolution was satisfying.   Was it my favorite fiction read ever? Not really, but if you were invested in the characters in Me Before You, I think you’ll enjoy this read.

Four Seasons In Rome: On Twins, Insomnia & the Biggest Funeral In the History of the World by Anthony Doerr 

Oh my word, I absolutely LOVED this book!  Written by the Pulitzer prize winning author of All The Light You Cannot See, this book checked out off many boxes of my favorite reading components–memoir writing about living in Italy {one of my favorite places on Earth} for a year, written in sumptuous prose.

There’s no plot twists, no huge developments–the main events of the book are described in a somewhat clunky subtitle {my ONLY non-rave about the book, and that’s a small point that didn’t matter}.

The simple narrative may have been another reason I loved it – Doerr managed to write about everyday discovery in a new country alongside his wife and their newborn twins with a seamless beauty and a distinct and stunning writing voice.  Its one of the first books I’ve read in a long while, where MULTIPLE passages of prose were underlined JUST because they were written so beautifully.   This is one of my favorite reads of the year and is one of the best travel memoirs I’ve ever read–DON’T MISS IT.

Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving & Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans

This is a case of a book coming back into my hands at the exact moment I needed it.  I first bought and started reading Held’s latest memoir last year right when it was released.  I enjoyed the writing and the story, but found it just wasn’t resonating with me and where I was in my life at that moment.  I put it down to read another time, and it sadly got buried in my ever-growing-to-read-stack.  {What can I say, I’ve got #booknerdproblems.}

I picked this book up this month when I was feeling much of the heaviness that Helds seems to feel about her faith, her ever evolving theology, and her journey with the church.  This is her story, to be clear, but I couldn’t stop underlining, resonating, ‘hmmm-mmmm-ing’ and cheering her on.

As of late I am having a lot of the same feels as she seemed to go through in this book, and having her story through her words felt like having a fellow spiritual traveller/companion with on my own journey.  I think this is some of Rachel’s strongest and most beautiful prose yet–I absolutely LOVED this book.

What I’m Reading

Roots & Sky by Christie Purifoy, Coming Clean by Seth Haines, Out of the House of Bread by Preston Yancey, The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, For The Love by Jen Hatmaker & Curious Faith by Logan Wolfram.

What I’m Watching

Tellyvision: Shondaland fans, rejoice–Thursday night TV came back with a vengeance this month.  I’m watching How To Get Away With Murder & Grey’s Anatomy–I’m in awe that the writers on Greys are still spinning mesmerizing storylines that suck me in.  I’m still watching Scandal, but am really only holding onto that show by a virtual thread–though they’ve got my attention with the upcoming election story angle–here’s hoping it’ll reel me back into the show.

I’m loving and simultaneously dreading the end of Downton Abbey. (GAH, that episode with Edith and Mary!).  Other faves are Top Chef, Younger, and Blackish–I’m pretty sure Ruby is my spirit animal.

Netflix: I’m loving Mozart in the Jungle, and look forward to some down time when I can continue binge watching The West Wing.  And like the rest of my blogisphere compadres, I’M COUNTING DOWN TO THE GILLY {GILMORE} GIRLS RE-BOOT!!

What I’m Listening to

I’ve been constantly adding songs to my 2016 playlist this month from the playlists that are curated by Tsh Oxenreider as part of her Upstream Field Guide e-course.  I think she and I are musical kindred spirits–she most definitely has the spiritual gift of the mixtape.

Through the UFG playlists, I’ve discovered the score to one of my favorite movies, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  I already own the popular soundtrack, but the score by Theodore Shapiro, featuring the vocals of Jose Gonzalez has become another favorite this month.

Blogisphere Beauts

Michelle DeRusha: Why I Wear Lipstick and Shoes When I Write

…Maybe you’re an artist or a small business owner or a writer like me, wrestling with your definition of success.

…If this is the case, here’s my advice for you: do one small thing every day that reminds you that your work — whether it’s mothering, volunteering, entrepreneuring, freelancing, caretaking — is important. Do one small thing every day that reminds you that you are valuable. Do one small thing every day that reminds you that you and your contributions are legitimate and worthwhile, whether you get paid a little or a lot or nothing at all.

Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy: When You’re Living in the Wrong Movie

I said: Maybe you’re in the wrong movie.

He said: I think I am. But what’s the right one?

Believe it or not, this conversation made total sense to us.

Tsh Oxenreider at The Art of Simple: How I Use My Bullet Journal & How to Find Inspiration When You’re Uninspired

I’m unabashedly a writer-downer of things; in fact, the sheer act of writing helps me remember and process.

 

The past few years, I’ve learned that my immediate environment critically affects my mood, from the clutter on my desk to the natural light pouring through my window (or lack thereof), to the walkability of the streets outside my front door. I used to apologize for that, but I don’t now. It’s how I’m made. I’m deeply affected by my surroundings.

Interviews/Podcasts at Offcamera.com: I first discovered these interviews through Leigh Kramer and Anne Bogel’s blog posts.  I’ve specifically loved the episodes with Connie Britton, Matt Damon {see Anne’s post above for more on Damon’s interview} and Olivia Wilde.  I’m looking forward to listening to the interviews with Jon Hamm and Will Ferrell as well.

 Favorite Moments

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I have to say I’m giddy and euphoric whenever my husband surprises me.  Our Valentines day was both celebratory and low key, surprising and perfect-to-me.  {I’m sorry for those readers who hate cheesy Valentines stories, but I waited a long while to find my Valentine, so I choose to celebrate our love as much as I can.}

My sweet husband and I enjoyed a delicious dinner at a new-to-us restaurant {he looked smashingly handsome in his new blazer}, then he surprised me with a date-night-excursion to Painting With A Twist.  {He even brought a bottle of my favorite ‘sweet wine for us to savor as we painted our picture together.}

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Thoroughly Modern Millie & Making New Friends

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One of the things I’ve loved about performing in Millie this month has been getting to know an entirely different community of actors than I’ve known locally in past years. {And yes, that’s really me in the picture above in a full blown black wig.}   Everyone in this cast is funny, compassionate, interesting, and a sheer delight to be around.  They have been light and joy to me, as I’ve struggled lately to find real community in my day to day life.

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The difficult thing about doing regional theatre is the leaving of the show–the short bursts of creativity and excitement, then the letdown of getting back to the daily grind and not seeing people you saw for hours on end every single week.

I hope to have made genuine and true friends through this production.  I’m so grateful to know every person in this cast, and I hope to have imparted to them even half of the joy and energy they have given me.

 This Month’s Quintessential Essential Oils

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DIY Valor Spray: I made myself a bottle of Valor spray this month, and it quickly became my best friend at theatre rehearsals.  Performing a character role in a fast and furious rehearsal process sometimes left me insecure and unsure of myself.  I don’t care how woo-woo it sounds–dousing myself in the delicious musky scents of Valor helped my creative process immensely. It also helped my Valor essential oil bottles go the extra mile.  {Especially now that Valor is out of stock due to seasonal plant harvests–BOO.}

White Angelica and Northern Lights Black Spruce:

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These essential oil beauts were my new-to-me oil purchases this month–they smell  AH-MAZ-ING! I think NL Black Spruce might be one of my favorite tree oil scents {next to Frankincense}, and I loved that my nose picked up the scent of Rose in White Angelica.

For more of my Young Living Favorites, check out this month’s Favorites video on my YouTube channel.

What I’m Looking Forward To In March

Having a short break from the hustle and bustle of a crazy-busy show rehearsal/performance schedule; working on creating lots of content for YouTube and pursuing writing projects; much more time with my hubby and friends and planning my bestie’s baby shower.

What were you into this month?  Let me know in the comments!

{As always, I love linking up with Leigh.}

What I’m Into – January 2016

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If December was a sleepy, happily slow month with holiday savoring and personal reflection, then January hit the ground running like a kid pumped full of sugar, tearing across the playground during recess.

The first week of the month I started rehearsals for an operetta concert, and everything picked up steam from there.  I’m thrilled to be in a busy-for-me season of performing and creativity.

{As per usual, any affiliate links below, if used, help keep the lights on at ye olde-bloggy-blog, at no extra cost to you.  Thank ye kindly!}

Simultaneous Shows

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In January, I rehearsed and performed in a concert performance of the operetta, The New Moon, and began rehearsals for a musical theatre production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. I’ve loved the music of Millie for years, and am so excited to tackle and savor the character role of Mrs. Meers.

All The Books

 

What I Read

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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert:

So, technically, I included this book in my 2015 reads, because I read the bulk of the book last fall and Advent season.  I’m including it here because specifically, I finished the last page on January 4th.  {I’ve become randomly anal about when I finish a book and correctly documenting it.}

The truth of the matter is I loved this book so much, I purposely read it slowly so it would last longer.  I LOVE books on creativity, and besides Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways, this is probably my favorite book on the subject.  Its conversational, with elements of memoir, instruction, advice and maybe a dash of self-help (in the best, un-obnoxious way).   There are a few chapters and concepts that no doubt folks will think are woo-woo, but I still resonated with the entire message.  There are MANY concepts and ideas that Gilbert talked about in these pages that I am ruminating over, and suspect I will be for some time. {Many of them deserve their own blog post, I hope I can follow through and write them!}

If you are a creative, love a creative, or just love Gilbert’s writing, READ.THIS.BOOK.NOW.

 

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Sounds Like Me: My Life (so far) in Song by Sara Bareilles:

I was all set to dislike this book.  Though I love Sara Bareilles’ music, I wondered why she was writing a memoir of her life at such a young age, unless a fat celebrity paycheck or personal vanity was behind it.  {I know, harsh.  Yes, I need to check the judgy-ness at the door.}

I’m glad I stuck this read out, as I was immediately drawn in by her very readable, slightly self depricating and conversational writing style.  She seems quite honest, and I particularly loved the chapters where she writes letters to her younger selves, and speaks about her journey thus far composing and creating the Broadway bound musical version of the movie, Waitress.

This was a light and fluffy read for me, with morsels of wisdom and self reflection to enjoy. I have a new found respect for Bareilles, and am eagarly awaiting her new musical’s debut this year on Broadway!

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Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual {Illustrated edition} by Michael Pollan

This book has been on my unread shelf for way too long, so I decided the beginning of the year was as good a time as any to read this informative and short read.

I think this illustrated edition is a shortened version of Pollan’s original book, and I must say I preferred it.  Divided into 3 sections, Pollan espouses food wisdom that is important, practical and helpful—especially timely to me and my current goals and aspirations to clean eating, diet and exercise.   I highlighted and wrote out passages in my notebooks to keep in mind when shopping for and cooking my daily meals.

This read is also the first on my 2016 Reading Challenge list from Anne Bogel

What I’m Reading Now

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Four Seasons In Rome by Anthony Doerr,  After You by JoJo Moyes,  Out of the House of Bread by Preston Yancey, Coming Clean by Seth Haines The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle, For the Love by Jen Hatmaker and Savor by Shauna Niequist.

 

Link Love

Preston Yancey: Where I’ve Been

Edie Wadsworth: 3 Reasons You Should Still Build A Family Library {in a digital, konmari world}

What I’m Watching

My husband and I LOVED the New Year’s Day Sherlock special!  (I will forever be one of Benedict’s biggest fans–Cumberb*tches unite!).  I loved the time travel angle, and the always-intelligent writing.  I’m just bummed we’ll seemingly have to wait another 25 years for the next one….

Tellyvision:  My Shondaland shows aren’t premiering until February {boo}, so I’ve pretty much stuck to watching shows my husband and I DVR, including Big Bang Theory and  Blackish. {The episode where Ruby starts dating made me ROAR with laughter.  I’m obsessed with the comedy of Jenifer Lewis–I think she might be my spirit animal.}  My husband and I also enjoyed starting to watch the X-Files re-boot.  I missed it the first time around, but my hubs was a big fan.  I personally also can’t miss an episode of Downton Abbey‘s last season, and I’ve started watching this season’s Top Chef.

Netflix: I think I am one of the only people I know who never watched The West Wing.  I started Season 1 this month, and am loving it–all hail the King of cinematic dialogue, Aaron Sorkin.  I’m also obsessed with Alison Janney’s performance–so brilliant.

After watching the Golden Globes, I became intrigued by Mozart In the Jungle.  I’m at the beginning of the 2nd season, and LOVE it! {Though I can’t understand why the leading character–playing a world-class conductor–can’t pretend to be even an adequate conductor, FOR THE LOVE.  Sigh…can you tell I was a music major?}.  Here’s hoping they renew it for a 3rd season.

 

What I’m Listening To

Podcasts

Notable & New to me: What Should I Read Next? by Anne Bogel:

I absolutely LOVE this new podcast! Anne writes one of my favorite blogs, Modern Mrs. Darcy.   Each week Anne interviews her guest of choice and asks them about their book loves and hates, then ‘prescribes’ a few book suggestions–hopefully ones they haven’t heard of or read.  Its also a perfect length between 20 and 30 minutes.

Anne practiced this literary art with a blog series in past years, and she’s good at it–recommending books for every guest they’ve never heard of or considered. The conversation is great, and the book titles are worth checking out.  {Though for the record, I think most of her recommendations are books she’s already discussed on her blog.  Perhaps that will change, as she gets more episodes under her belt.}

I’ve devoured all 4 episodes (they are released every Tuesday, which is awesome!).  My favorite episodes thus far are with author Seth Haines and podcaster Jacey Verdicchio.

I also want to go on record publicly and say, I WANT TO BE AN UPCOMING GUEST!  PLEASE ANNE!  {Shameless and pitiful plea, I know.}

 

Tried & True Favorite Podcast: The Simple Show by Tsh Oxenreider

I’ve started another yearly playlist on my Spotify channel.  I’ve only added a few tracks so far, because I’m mostly listening to the original cast recording of Thoroughly Modern Millie in my car to learn my music for the show performance. I’m still loving Adele’s 25, and Sirius XM Radio’s Broadway & Coffeehouse channels are on constant rotation during my car commutes.

I’m also LOVING playlists by Tsh Oxenreider that are part of her Upstream Field Guide E-Course–I’ll share more about that next month!

Good Times/Favorite Things:

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Dressing Room chats {& wacky selfies} with fellow castmates

 

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My sweet hubs and I ended the month with a lovely date nite out at a new-to-us restaurant, where we discovered delicious Moscow mules made with blueberries.

 

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{YEP, though you may not have seen it, I’m all too aware of the spot of lipstick on my teeth in this photo.  Unfortunately, I’m not well versed in photo shop.  Let’s just focus on the lovely Cloth & Paper box, shall we?}  🙂 

Penspiration Box by Cloth & Paper

The monthly Penspiration Box subscription might just be my new obsession.  

January was my first month to receive a subscription from Cloth and Paper – a fabulous stationary online store of sorts.  The Penspiration box is a monthly package of glorious-pen-goodness: anywhere from 4 to 6 pens and perhaps a stationary surprise or two delivered in a lovely navy box with gold lettering. {I’m a sucker for quality packaging, and Cloth & Paper does NOT disappoint.}  My first box had 6 different pens, and I love writing with every.single.one. of them! {They also included a small post-it-note pad in a beautiful marble design I never even knew I needed.}

I’ve filmed an unboxing for my YouTube Channel that would’ve been live already if I hadn’t destroyed my external hard drive {see sad story below}.  Look for that unboxing in the next few weeks – I’m  hoping to make it a monthly series.

 

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SheLoves Red Couch Book Club:  Our first book this year is a slightly obscure title by my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season.  I was honored to contribute the discussion post.  Join us in the Facebook group to discuss all the things about this book!

 

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I discovered Nekter Fruit & Peanut Butter bowls with hemp granola and fruit this month–they are  SO DELICIOUS! They’re expensive, but with a pea protein add-in, they make a meal, and have become my favorite yummy treat!

Essential Oil Faves {Young Living}

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—>Peace & Calming essential oil blend:  AS ALWAYS.  This is the EO blend I use every single day, whether its in a spray bottle in my purse during the day, or in my diffuser before I go to sleep.    {I’m also loving the combination of diffusing 3-4 drops of Peace & Calming with 1-2 drops of Ravintsara before I go to bed.  Magical…}

—>Deep Relief roll-on blend:  I used this before and after each performance of The New Moon, to ease my neck tension.  This blend is now a permanent fixture in my purse/rehearsal bag.  I love using this as part of my nightime routine–it feels cooling along my neck and shoulders.

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—>Harmony, Highest Potential & Valor essential oil blends:  These were my staple blends to use before rehearsals.  Harmony smells to me like a fresh flower garden, and Valor smells like a light musk and a fresh floral perfume had a baby–scrumptious.

—>Current Home & Car Diffusing Combo: RC/Thieves for healthy respiratory & immune support.  Another favorite diffusing combo discovery this month was Valor II & Frankincense.

If you aren’t already a member of Young Living, I’d love to help you out and get you started!  Click here to order products at wholesale cost, and learn more about my team.

{I also share my monthly Young Living faves in every monthly Favorites video on my YouTube Channel–here’s my Favorites Playlist.}

Youtube

First, the good news!

I shared a few fun videos on my channel this month.  My favorites included:  Essential oils I Use Before An Audition and My 2015 End-of-Year Favorites–check them out below:

And now for Technological Meltdown #2!  (I can still barely talk about the first one…)

{Gah, I’m so OVER having technological meltdowns in working on my video content for YouTube!}

After FINALLY cleaning up the hard drive of my MacBook Pro, and getting an external hard drive to use for work on my YouTube video footage, this morning I dropped said external hard drive on our tile floor, shattering it into 3 pieces, and despite putting it back together, I certifiably killed it. Never mind the fact that I had JUST finished editing 2 videos with its contents.  {Over an hour of footage, and 4 days/HOURS worth of work!)

My husband and I thankfully were able to purchase a better external hard drive on Amazon Prime, so now its back to the editing board and filming room to make MORE videos while I wait for the drive to arrive on my doorstep.  {I’ll be posting my January Favorites video to YouTube as soon as I can!}

What I’m Looking Forward to in February

 

Performing a dream character role {Mrs. Meers} in a musical production of Thoroughly Modern Millie for 3 weeks, celebrating Valentines Day with my hubby, creating new content on YouTube, unboxing my Essential Rewards from Young Living {a regular video series on my YouTube channel}, receiving another Penspiration box in the mail, reading good books, starting to plan my best friend’s baby shower and finding some free time to hang out with friends.

What were YOU into this month? Let me know in the comments!

{as always, Leigh’s linkups are a joy.}

What I’m Into-October 2015 {& The Return of My Blog!}

 

Helloooo????  Is this thing on?!?

A bit of blog dust settling on this virtual site is no longer an appropriate description of what happened.  Total desertion is more like it, and for that, I am truly sorry!

The good news is I’ve not completely neglected my creative process. After months away from writing on the interwebs {with the exception of Red Couch Book Club Goodness over at SheLoves}, I’ve begun to once again write online, in my journal, and for my blog.   I’ve also been experimenting with different outlets of expression on the interwebs–meaning YouTube, and Podcasting prep–which I am excited to start to share more about here in the coming months.}

Added into the ‘blackout on the blog’ mix: preparation for multiple auditions,  a  busy summer of rehearsals culminating in a production of the stage musical  Mary Poppins, sporatic bouts of travel and  some trying times in the world of infertility.

With all of that on my plate, the sad truth is my poor, beautiful blog has been the creative space that suffered.

I don’t know a better way to get things started back in these parts than with one of my favorite linkups. {And apparently, after looking back over the last few published posts much earlier this year,  its one of the few things I’m consistent about sharing on the blog.}

{As per usual–affiliate links, if used, support keeping the lights on here at All Manner of Inspiration at no extra cost to you – thank you kindly!}

All.The.Books.

What I Read

I barely finished reading a single book this month.  I’d like to chalk it up to the fact that I’m reading ALL THE BRILLIANT BOOKS at once.  There are  5-6 books on my nightstand, and one on my Kindle, and all are getting constant rotation in my reading time.  Hence,  I’m about halfway through most of them.  I’m on the last pages of a couple of titles, and the only reason they weren’t finished was because I couldn’t stop underlining, highlighting and meditating on their greatness.

They are ALL worth checking out and reading.

Immediately.

What I’m Reading:

Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, Out of Sorts: Making Peace With An Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey {a MUST-pre-order}, For the Love: Fighting For Grace In A World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker, The Martian by Andy Weir, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love & Life By Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed, Savor by Shauna Niequist,  Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul by Erika Morrison, First Impressions by Charlie Lovett, The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Queued up to read next:

The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon, Healing Oils of the Bible by David Stewart, Unprocessed: My City Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble, Audacious by Beth Moore and A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation, edited by Luci Shaw.

What I’m Watching

Movies: My hubs and I have been quite the movie goers the past few months.  This month, we caught a couple of movies, which were all great.  House of Spies was the flick my hubs was excited to see, and it didn’t disappoint.  My favorite by far was The Martian.

The Martian was not only my favorite movie we saw this month, but possibly one of the best movies–space-themed or otherwise–that I’ve seen in years!  I’m reading and loving the book, and thought the movie would ruin the fact that I haven’t finished the book.  Happily, that was not the case  at all–they were true to the book’s storyline, but crafted elements of story to the screen in a beautiful adaptation that didn’t include every single second of the book–only the important moments.   The movie is also well loved by the NASA community and scientists alike–in part due to the legitimacy of the science in the novel.

I watched a fascinating YouTube clip of actors from The Martian at Mission Control talking to real live astronauts on the space station.  One of the astronauts said he had read the Martian twice, and planned to read it again.   I also watched a lengthy but great YouTube clip of a ComicCon panel, featuring author Andy Weir, NASA scientists, an astronaut and a producer on The Martian.  If you’re a geek at heart, and even if you’re not, and just love a good story–don’t miss this movie.

Tellyvision: I’m still a big fan of Shonda Rhimes Thursdays, specifically Greys Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder.   I also  LURVE the new comedy Blackish.  {My husband and I laugh out loud hysterically at least once a week during this smart comedy.  I’m obsessed with Jenifer Lewis as the matriarch of the family–her comic chops are nothing short of brilliant.}  I’m also watching Oprah’s Belief series–7 days in a row of beautiful documentary-like footage of belief systems around the world.

Super Soul Sunday Interviews have also been a favorite this month–I’ve actually sat and taken notes during DVR’ed episodes, where Oprah has interviewed the likes of Jimmy Carter, Brene Brown {on her new book Rising Strong, can’t wait to read it!}, Malala Yousofazi and Gloria Steinem.

Oh, and then sometimes I lose a few wise brain cells when I watch DVR’ed episodes of Nashville. {And I’m really not big on country music.  But I love the fact that they’ve hired multiple Broadway actors in leading and supporting roles.}

What I’m Listening To

I pre-ordered Sara Groves’ new album, Floodplain, that releases in November, and I think it might be one of my favorite records she’s ever done.  For a short time, I think the pre-order goodies are still available–I got the audio commentary of the album and a few extra tracks {mixed by Don Chaffer from Waterdeep} which I’m enjoying immensely.  There’s also a pre-order pack that comes with a lovely tshirt and art print that looked fantastic.  Sara is one of my favorite musical story and truthtellers–if you like her music, don’t miss this album.

I also added a few songs to an ongong playlist of current songs I’m enjoying/find/found this year on Spotify:

{Follow me on Spotify here..}

 

Link Love

Gather It Up: A Fall Playlist by Blaine Hogan: Blaine Hogan is one of my favorite lesser known creatives on the interwebs.  He creates playlists seasonally, and they are always my favorite.  The playlist is on Spotify, but I think its best to go directly to his website, where he shares the motivation behind the music.  {If you like his taste, I’m pretty sure I’ve shared some of his other seasonal playlists in past posts like these – the search bar on my blog should be able to round them up.}

Why You Should Care About Back To the Future Day by Emily Freeman:  Emily always writes blog posts that make you pause and reflect in the most interesting of ways.  I wrote the sentence below immediately in my journal, and couldn’t get it out of my head {in the best way}:

“What can I do today to practice the future I hope to have? “

~Emily P. Freeman

Good Times/Favorite Things

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My best friend’s birthday was this month, and we celebrated at a new-to-me Tapas restaurant.  I only took one picture of the lovely food, and a quick photo of us, but aren’t the best times when we focus on the food and the company, and forget the photos?  Yes.

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We went to see our friend Shannan dance the lead in a ballet production of Dracula this month.  {It was my husband’s first time at the ballet–I was thrilled he came, and he actually loved it!}  Our wonderful friends Shannan and his wife Christa {also a stunning performer} are professional ballet/classical dancers–so I knew the performance would be great.  That being said,  It was even better than I could have imagined!   {I also loved sitting next to Christa, and getting the play-by-play on each upcoming pas de deux. {That’s ballet-speak for a specific partnered dance, usually between the leading man and woman in the piece.}   It made me extra excited to come back and see them both dance in The Nutcracker this December!

In the matter of fun and trivial things I’ve been loving:  This is my new favorite lipstick.  This one is a close second.  

Podcasts

I am always on the lookout for a good podcast, and I was thrilled when Tsh Oxenreider  rebranded-relaunched her podcast as The Simple Show.  I particularly enjoyed her interviews recently with Emily FreemanMegan Tietz and her first installment of Ask Tsh, On Social Media Noise & Time Suckage.   {Her archives episodes she carried over from her previous podcast included another fave– the podcast with Leigh Kramer on the Enneagram}.

I’ve also been a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic Podcast, which recently concluded its first season with the release of her book with the same title. {Its FANTASTIC–if you’re a creative, go get it now. }  My favorite episode of the lot was her conversation with Brene Brown. 

And now for something New & Different.

 

Confessional Time:  These past few months, I might have:

a)  turned into ‘one of those crazy essential oil ladies’  {No, its not bad like it sounds}  

and

b) ventured into the world of YouTube.

If you’re into this sort of thing, I hope you’ll be as excited as I am.  If you aren’t, and fell inclined to  roll your eyes into the back of your head, and flip to another post, know that while I may share about essential oils  here from time to time, that’s NOT going to become the primary focus of my overall blog. I’m creating a sidebar link to a page where I’ll share most all of my oily thoughts and education–All Manner of Inspired Oils.  Eventually, I’d like this to be its own specific website, but I want to start with a manageable goal.  I can’t wait to share more there with you–essential oils have added so much goodness to my everyday, and I’m enjoying sharing them with my family and friends who are interested.

Which brings me to the other creative outlet I’ve been enjoying this year:

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Big gulp here {I don’t know why this is scary to share, but it just is…}:   I’ve started a YouTube channel, where I focus many of the video topics on essential oils.

My channel started as a place to just share about essential oils, but I’m enjoying it so much, I want it to be both an extension and addition to All Manner of Inspiration.  Truth be told, that’s where most of my creativity and attention has gone to creating online content for the past 6 months.  I’m definitely a newbie, and learning as I go–but its a medium where I find it quicker and sometimes, easier to create content, and I’m even enjoying the editing process.  {Its relaxing to me somehow…I know, WHAAT?}

I hope you’ll check out my channel, and if you are a YouTube sort of watching person, I’d love to hear the types of things you’d like to see/covered on my channel.   {If you don’t enjoy YouTube, I hope you’ll still be up for reading my blog.}

It feels VERY vulnerable to share content on YouTube, though I’m not sure why.  Perhaps that’s why most of my videos are rather light and fluffy, and/or about essential oils.   {I’m formulating a blog post about this}.  As an actor and an extroverted ambivert, the chatting part comes easily to me.  But there’s a reason I’ve always enjoyed theatrical performance, and not film.  Looking at my face on a screen isn’t my favorite thing, and that’s the truth.

But there’s something so enjoyable about connecting with community and other YouTubers through that medium, and its turned into a true joy for me.  I’m surprised at the similarities I’m finding in the semantics of it, though its a visual/video medium.

I also want to start podcasting, and would love to interview other creatives and inspiring folk in the future, so it feels like a natural part of the learning/evolution process that will lead me to that next step.

Either way, writing is a part of who I am, and I want to never stop sharing words on my blog and in the world.  Know that I’ll do my best to share content here that you won’t see on YouTube, and vice versa.

That all being said, I figured you probably need to see one of my videos here to see what you think.  I did a quick ‘tag video’ {I’m already learning the lingo…HA!} this summer, and shared a few random things about myself for my YouTube viewership.  Its fun and frothy and light–an aspect I enjoy on my channel.  {I think the deeper, more weighty words and topics online, for me, will usually land on the blog and in writing mediums.}   Let me know what you think:

I’m also sharing a YouTube version of these posts each month on my channel —My Monthly Favorites.

This month, I’m also starting to share more about my blog on YouTube, so if you’ve joined me from there, know that these What I’m Into posts contain more content I don’t share over there.

Side Note:  {I’m also on Periscope, but haven’t really shared much content in that medium.  I tend to be in the camp that enjoys watching Periscopes more than making them.  If you would like to see something from me there on any particular topic,  I can start sharing more there.   Find my Periscope handle through Twitter.}

If you’re still reading this post, I can’t thank you enough–I know it was quite long-winded!  I truly love sharing these What I’m Into posts over at Leigh’s place–they help me record the beauty of my everyday life.

What were YOU into this month?  Let me know in the comments!

 

What I’m Into – February 2015

whatimintofeb2015I’m glad to be reminded of the shortness of this month, because I blinked, and it was over!  I drove to Kansas to spend a quick few days with my Aunt and friends and enjoyed a delightful afternoon at the best bookstore in the world. {pictured above.}  I experienced my first ‘thunder sleet storm’ {a term that I think can only be fully embraced in Texas} and my husband and I hosted a cooking club night at the end of the month.  And as usual, I also read some wonderful books and found some favorite things.

 {Affiliate links in this post, if used, support this blog.  Thank you kindly!}

Books

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What I Read

On Being A Writer: 12 Simple Habits For A Writing Life That Lasts by Kroeker & Craig

I discovered this book in one of my favorite ways: by meeting the authors first!  I attended a retreat at The Laity Lodge last November, where I had wonderful and profound conversations with both authors of this book, Ann Kroeker & Charity Singleton Craig.  They are amazing women who have carved out their own writing careers, respectively, and   joined forces to write this informative read on the writing process.  I like that the chapters alternate between their voices and stories, and each chapter has fantastic reflection questions for both journaling and discussion.  This is a slim paperback packed with info for everyone from the newbie writer {like me} to the seasoned author – a must read!

Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It by Jennifer Fulwiler

Confessional and story time with this book: I started this book last year when it first came out, and raced through the first 2/3rd of the book.  I loved Fulwiler’s narrative, and was sucked in to her story of converting from atheism to Christianity.

As I was drawing near the end of the book, I suffered what can only be known as my ADD-book syndrome: there were a handful of new releases I’d been looking forward to reading, and I set this book down for some other reads.

Cut to this past month: I found out I had a blood clotting disorder, and was quite nervous about it, as I am experiencing infertility and moving toward going through IVF.  I decided on a whim to pick up this memoir and turned to the chapter where I left off.

I kid you not, the first words of the chapter had Jennifer discussing the exact same blood disorder I had just been diagnosed with, in a story about a high risk pregnancy she went through.  I almost cried at the Godscidence/serendipity.  Hearing her story helped me work through my own experience.  I really felt I was supposed to read those pages at that exact time.

I enjoyed the whole of this book for sure, but was especially grateful for the personal stories Jennifer told – they inspired me and encouraged me more than she could know.

Children of the Day: 1 & 2 Thessalonians by Beth Moore

Beth Moore is, hands down, one of my favorite women’s Bible study teachers.  Since I first did her study Breaking Free, years ago, when my Mother was battling breast cancer, her words have been part of the healing salve on my heart, along with her teaching on various books of the Bible.  Children of the Day is her latest full-length Bible study and was released last year.  I have been steadily working through it since last May.  While it wasn’t one of my absolute favorite studies of hers (those would be Breaking Free, Jesus: My One & Only & James), it is still first rate.  Like her previous study James, she has a section at the back of the study to handwrite the entirety of the two books, which I loved doing.   Her teaching videos are also amazing, and one of the reasons I do her studies–I think you miss a big part of the message without them.  Highly recommended.

Dancing On the Head Of A Pen by Robert Benson

Robert Benson is one of the only authors I can actually remember writing a physical letter to. (Not an email, a real live pen and paper letter.  You know, back in the dark ages before Twitter.)   Benson had made the statement in his book that he would write back someone who wrote him, so I was confident I would receive a response.

Well, you know how the story ends.  I never heard back, and felt sad and jaded.  Perhaps the letter never received his mailbox or his hands, I’ll never know.  Not surprisingly, at the back of Benson’s new book, he makes the same promise–that if you write him, he’ll do his best to write you back.  Mr. Benson, consider this a short attempt at a virtual letter, if you will. {If you actually do read this, Mr. Benson, I would love to write you with actual paper and pen!}

As far as writing books go, I loved this book.  I’m also a big fan of Benson’s personal writing style, whatever he writes.    I like that whether he’s writing about spirituality, personal experience, or writing {as he does here}, he has an easy, conversational style that makes me feel like we’re chatting over coffee, and could be instant colleagues.  One of my favorite parts of the book was him sharing the details of his book writing process, from start to finish.  This is a slim book, and a quick and pleasant read – don’t miss it!

What I’m Reading

Scary Close by Donald Miller, The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner, Many Alarm Clocks by Sy Safransky, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, First Impressions by Charlie Lovett, Footnotes by Tommy Tune and  The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle.

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Lenten studies I’m going through this year:

{Unfortunately, the print versions of both of these studies are sold out.  You can download a pdf copy of the Naptime Diaries ‘Follow’ study here.}

Follow – Naptime Diaries Lent Study 2015

Near The Cross – She Reads Truth Lent Study 2015

{also pictured above is my current favorite translation of Scripture, The Voice BIble.}

 

Blogisphere Beauts

Emily Freeman:  How I Keep Track of What I’m Learning 

Jen Hatmaker: On Becoming A Writer  

Gilmore Girls Greatness!

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Though this is midway down the blog post page, it probably should’ve been first, because if I’m honest, I was obsessed with this show this month!  All I can say is HOW IN THE WORLD did I miss this show the first time around?  Thanks to hearing other friends and bloggers speak of their love of binge-watching the Gilly’s {yep, its my affectionate nickname for people that don’t exist in real life} on Netflix, I started watching the first show on a whim, and couldn’t stop.  Yes, I know its a problem, and no – I’m not dealing with it.

I’m at the end of season 3 right now, and love, love, LOVE the show.  I even  ordered an older/slightly vintage CD compilation of songs used in show, {in the spirit of Lane and her CD-hoarding ways–regular watchers, you know what that reference means!} Our Little Corner of the World: The Music from The Gilmore Girls.   I highly recommend it.

I’m a fan of the witty dialogue, the charming setting that is the fictious town of Stars Hollow, Conneticut, the quirky town characters, and the infamous Friday night dinners at the mansion with Lorelai’s parents, played by the fantastic actors Kelly Bishop and the late Edward Herrman.

I enjoy this show so much, I’m actually writing a post about it.  If you’re a fellow Gilly fan, you won’t want to miss it!

More Happenings & Favorites

 

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My {Current} Favorite Young Living Oil:

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Peace & Calming is my first favorite Young Living Essential oil. Its a delicious-smelling blend of oils – Tangerine, Orange, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli & Blue Tansy.  Everytime I inhale it, I smile and breathe a little bit deeper.

  My favorite uses include wearing it daily as a perfume (definitely cheaper than Dolce & Gabbana!} and diffusing it on my nightstand every night as I go to sleep.

{If you’re interested in ordering Young Living Essential oils, send me an email, or sign up for a starter kit here.}

 

What were you into this month?

{This linkup of Leigh’s is my favorite.  But you probably knew that.}