What I’m Into – January 2016


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


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


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.



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!


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


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


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:


Dressing Room chats {& wacky selfies} with fellow castmates



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.



{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.



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!



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}


—>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.


—>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.}


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!}


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.


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


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.


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.  


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}  


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:


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!}



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.


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!


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







My {Current} Favorite Young Living Oil:


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.}

What I Was Into – January 2015 & *What I’ve Learned – February 2015


HEADS UP FRIENDS: This is an overdue post, and its pretty long!  However, its chalk full of fun and interesting links and info – enjoy!


January 1st has become one of my favorite days of the year.  I love a clean slate, a blank page, a spanse of time in front of me with no mistakes and unlimited possibility.  By association, the month of January looks white and pristinely pretty in my mind.  Its a month I revel in: its not usually insanely hot like many of the months in Texas;  my husband is usually home from work on New Year’s Day, and it just feels…good to have a fresh start.

January was no exception to that thought process for me.  It flew by in a flash, with a delightful 3 week contract job of a most lovely musical in concert at a local theatre (Annie Get Your Gun), wonderful books to read, movie dates with my man, and general everyday life wonderfulness.

THERE WAS ALSO STING!... {Insert giddy school girl laugh here.  See more later in this post.}

**{Because I also lurve Emily Freeman’s What I’ve Learned linkups, I’m sharing a tidbit I learned in every section of this post, and joining her linkup here.}**

**Any affiliate links in this post, if used, support this blog – thanks!** 

Blogisphere Beauts

**WIL {What I Learned}What can I say, I’m a creator of habit when it comes to my favorite posts and podcasts.  I’m learning that if Tsh posts a podcast, I’m gonna barrel through the whole thing, regardless of the subject.  The particular one down below is with one of my favorite writers on the internet. {And NOT because this post is a part of her linkup!}   I’m also apparently suckered in with a witty or funny blog post title.

The Art of Simple Podcast: Coffee In My Soul {with Emily Freeman}

The Art of Simple podcast is my favorite.  Bar none.  I’m working on putting together my own podcast, and I will unashamedly say here that this particular podcast is one of the biggest inspirations for my own.  In this episode, Tsh is talking to one of my favorite bloggers and writers.  Their conversations always feel like kindred spirit ones.


Tsh Oxenreider: The State of the Blog Address 2015 

 If my gut reaction is right, I see a trend with the blogsophere moving back to the good old days. I’m hearing it everywhere, how bloggers miss the simplicity of pure blogging from the 2000s…

As for me, I’m all over old-fashioned blogging.


Shauna Niequist: Stocking the Pond

I’m talking about taking responsibility for stocking the pond of your own mind and heart, so that when it’s time to tell a story, it’s rich with details and life and texture, and so that when you’re staring at a blank page, sure that you have nothing to say, all you have to do is walk out to the pond you’ve been stocking every day: fish upon fish upon fish.

The first step in writing happens way before the typing: it’s the stocking of the pond. Take notes on your phone, snap pictures, scribble on the back of receipts–notice everything. The first part of writing is noticing.


Playbill:   Super Bowl Prep!  Football Terms Explained For Theatre People The Expert Guide to Vocal Health: Broadway Professionals Share Their Secrets   

Oh.my.Gersh.  Playbill’s Super Bowl post was one of the BEST ever – fusing Broadway (yay!) and sports (ehh) together was perfection.  {Sidenote: I knew my husband was really in love with me when I asked him what a ‘down’ was, and he answered back lovingly without batting an eye.}

If you’re like me and just CANT understand the football hullabaloo, this article that defines various football terms is your answer.

Super Bowl XLIX is right around the corner, and you’ve been invited to a party, but you’re facing a dilemma: You’re only educated in theatre! In our below list, Playbill.com explains football terms for theatre people.

The New England Patriots: The Patriots make their eighth appearance at the Super Bowl (tying for the most Super Bowl visits of any team in the NFL) and have won three titles. They’re essentially the Audra McDonald of the Super Bowl.

Punt: In football, a punt is when a player is kicking the ball to the other team — it’s a switchover. In theatre, it’s like when we’re at a put-in. The stage manager is kickin’ it to us, and we’re just trying to catch up with the rest of the gang because… “OMG. I HAVE A SHOW TONIGHT!”

Melanie Dale: Oils Can Save Us From the Zombie Apocalypse     

I clicked on this post merely because of its title.  Melanie’s witty and funny, and even though I too have jumped on the oil bandwagon {see the end of this post}, I loved that she can make fun of the current craze, while still enjoying the benefits of a practice that’s been around thousands of years longer than the homeschooling soccer Moms who sing its praises.

Remember the internet before people discovered essential oils?  Me neither.  I like to pretend that I’m immune to all these excited friends talking about how oils cured their abscessed bellybutton warts – with pictures – but I can only take so much before my natural cynicism crumbles for the promise of a flu-less existence.  Oils can save us from paper cuts, bad trips to the hair stylist, excessive armpit hair, and the entire spectrum of herpes.  Sign me up…

One thing I’ve realized with my foray into this oily world is that oils are for grownups, and we don’t have any of those around here.  We cannot be cool about these little elixirs…


*WIL: At the start of a New Year, I almost am paralyzed by what to read first.  I start by reading a HUGE pile of books, and the one that immediately grabs my attention with its writing style is the one I don’t put down or abandon  wins.My first read this year was fantastic, and unlike any other memoir I’ve read before.

What I Read


My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

This book takes us back to New York City in the 1990’s, when Rakoff was a new college graduate in the big city, and working for a large literary agency still stuck in its fancy-schmancy bookish past.  She comes to realize her boss is none other than J.D. Salinger’s agent.

Sometimes I was annoyed by her stand-by-her-man ways with her less than loving boyfriend, but then I thought back to all of the time I spent in bad relationships long ago.  I quickly changed my tune to  nothing but appreciation for her honest writing.  This book sucked me in immediately, and I couldn’t put it down.  If you’re a writer, love a good memoir or just want to revisit NYC in the 90’s, this read’s for you.

Kiss the Wave: A Memoir On the Attributes of God by Tara Leigh Cobble

I’ve read every one of indie musician Tara Leigh’s memoirs.  I was a Kickstarter donor for her latest book, and though it was a tad disappointing that her book was delivered over a year after the promised date, I once again remembered I’ve yet to write a book of my own, and checked my judgment at the door.

I don’t quite agree with every conclusion Tara comes to in her own spiritual life, but I really respect her transparency and honesty.  Each chapter “extols the aspect of God’s character that was revealed” to her through specific circumstances.   I read this one quickly, and gained wisdom from her story–a lovely read.

The Accident by Chris Pavone

I learned of this book from Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy, and was intrigued by the premise.  A mysterious and anonymous manuscript ends up in the hands of an agent with a past, and that’s about all I want to give away.  I liked how each chapter was usually narrated by a different character that was somehow interlinked into the story.  The end got a bit lengthy for me, with a rather abrupt ending, but I still thought it was a great read!

What I’m Reading

Dancing On the Head of A Pen: The Practice of A Writing Life by Robert Benson,  The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner, Scary Close by Donald Miller,  and Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler.

 Annie Get Your Gun in concert


*WIL:  There are musical projects that try and test you, and musical projects that are just 3 weeks of plum fun!  Being a part of Annie Get Your Gun in concert was most certainly the latter!  I loved being a part of an ensemble, and took more pleasure in a tiny character role comprised of 3 lines than I have with some larger roles.  Everytime I work at Lyric Stage, I am honored,  overjoyed, learn more about my performing craft and enjoy the company of wonderful people.  For a musical theatre creative, it  just doesn’t get better than that!


Inspired Snippets On My Blog

*WIL: I’m unfortunately still a no-good-verrrrry-slow blogger these days, but hey, I’m working on it.  One of the ways I’m doing so is taking an online writing course designed to help hone your distinct writing voice.  One of my first assignments was to write a poem, which terrified me.  I learned this month that sometimes poetry writing can flow easily and be extremely therapeutic.  Posting it on my blog was a vulnerable step for me: find that post here.

I also shared a couple of booklist posts: What I Read in 2014 & The 2015 Releases I Can’t Wait To Read.

Movie & Telly Watching

*WIL: Confessional moment: I didn’t really learn this at this particular moment, but I’ve been reminded of a sad and dismal fact: I might be addicted to my DVR.  That is all. 

Many of my favorite T.V. shows came back this month: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder, for starters.  My hubby and I also love to watch The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family & Blackish.  My Sunday evenings are now happily filled with dinner and Downton Abbey – and I’ve even got my hubby watching this season!   I’m also watching Top Chef and (I can’t believe I’m admitting this on the internet) The Millionaire Matchmaker. And let’s not even go into the binge-watching I’ll be experiencing in February on Netflix.

Yes, I know I have a problem. {All hail the DVR.}

Things I Loved

Sting! Sting! Sting in Concert!


The photo collage above is only a smattering of the photos I took with my husband’s phone of Sting and the concert we went to in January.  I thought it was an early Valentine’s present, but my darling man wouldn’t hear of it, and said if we couldn’t get to NYC to see Sting in his Broadway musical, it was the next best thing.

His show, The Last Ship received good reviews, but had dwindling ticket sales, and even though profits surged when he stepped into the show himself, it wasn’t enough for the show to stay open long term.  It closed the weekend I performed in Annie Get Your Gun, so I had to settle for the happy thought that Sting and I were treading the boards (ok, he was on Broadway, I was not) at the same time.

For one Sunday night in January, they closed the show of The Last Ship so Sting could come give a concert sponsored by AT&T as part of the college football playoffs here in Texas.    We had fantastic seats for less than $30.  I thought perhaps he would be exhausted from doing an eight show week on Broadway, but I was blown away by how fantastic he sounded! My crazed fandom aside, from a vocal standpoint, I’ve never heard him sound better!

I sang along with every lyric, danced in the aisles and wore a slap happy grin like a school girl.  My husband enjoyed it too and said he loved how goofily happy I was for those two hours.

Sting inspires me to be a better artist every time I listen to his music or see him sing live.  A January highlight for sure.


Stationary Products Galore {otherwise known as the Target Dollar Spot}


*WIL: If any cute stationary product is priced at $1, I’m gonna get it.

Ok, so my Whitney English Day Designer shown above is slightly  way more than one dollar, and one of my favorite pens, the stainless steel fine point Sharpie is under $5, the cute pen pouch and the stickers were both found at the Target Dollar Spot–no doubt when I was stopping in for a quick grocery run.  I know I sound like a ridiculous suburbanite voicing my love for the DollarSpot, but I think you could also trace it back to my love of stationary products I first had as a child.

Getting on the Young Living Bandwagon


*WIL: Yes, despite my love for snarky blog posts about the {current} essential oil craze, I have been doing my own research and trying out essential oils for myself.  Using a handful of oils in December and early January helped me decide to take the plunge, and order a starter kit from Young Living.

One of the actresses I worked with in  Annie Get Your Gun uses Young Living oils, and gave me a lot of helping information on using them.  I love diffusing Lavendar, Lemon & Peppermint when my allergies are bothering me.  I’ve also been using oils in various headache and muscle rubs for years, so this feels like a natural progression.  I’m working on filming some YouTube videos about my YL journey – I’ll share the links to those when I post them soon!

What were YOU into & what did you learn this month? 

Linking with Leigh this month, as per usual.

Soul Keeping – Words & Music For Soul Care



Given the fact that my favorite genre of book is the spiritual memoir, I can safely say that I am no stranger to reading books about the soul.  I still remember picking up books like Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul when I was barely old enough to understand its depths.

While I’ve read books that focus on aspects of soul care, until I read this book I don’t think I’ve ever read words that so accurately and simply define what a soul is in ways I can understand and actually comprehend.  The soul is such an intangible part of us, and yet it is everything.  Its breath and life, and the part of ourselves that will endure when our bodies are long gone.


John Ortberg’s latest book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You is a book to move through slowly, lest you miss all the wisdom packed in its pages.  This is a book best served with a side of contemplation–one that requires swigging and sloshing around its wise passages like fine wine.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is the glimpses Ortberg gives us into his lifelong friendship with Dallas Willard.  The book is dedicated to Willard, with various quotes, stories and interactions with him on every aspect of the soul.   One of my favorite quotes from Willard imparts profound truth:

 “The most important thing in your life,” Dallas said, “is not what you do; it’s who you become.  That’s what you will take into eternity.  You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.”

The book is broken down into three sections: what the soul is, what the soul needs, and the soul restored.  At times he does get a tiny bit long winded, but usually brings the reader’s attention back with a story or quote from Willard.   One of my favorite things about Ortberg’s writing is his ability to converse about complicated topics, while always remaining conversational and relatable.   Ortberg takes his deft hand and breaks down heady thoughts; distilling the information into easy to understand morsels.  This was one of my favorites:

 The will is a form of energy.  You can drive and stretch and push the will.  The mind has an endless ability to think and feel.  You can direct your attention.  You can focus and study.  The body is your little power pack.  You can place demands on your body.  You can exercise it, strengthen it, hone it, and force it to run for miles.

But it is the nature of the soul to need.

Ortberg speaks my artistic language when he reminds us of an important fact about the soul.  “We can’t seem to talk about beauty or art without talking about the soul–particularly music.”   I was inspired by this book to create a Soulkeeping Playlist. {To listen, click on the Spotify link below.}

If you’re looking for a book to speak beyond the surface of life, and enrich your soul and spirit, look no further than Soul Keeping.  Open its pages, grab a cup of coffee or hot tea, {and perhaps take a listen to my SoulKeeping playlist while you read?} and get ready for the nurturing of your mind, spirit and soul.

Ortberg reminds us that “the best place to start doing life with God is in the small moments.” Any time spent in these pages will be well worth it to your own spirit and soul.

{I received a copy of this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.}