Friday, September 19, 2014

Today Was A Great Day...

Maybe not in the way you might think. Nothing special happened today. I didn't win a prize or celebrate some milestone. What made today so great was being able to appreciate all the little things. Sometimes it seems that we're so concerned with getting more or achieving that next level of success that we don't stop and notice what we have right now. I know that this concept is nothing new; there's plenty of famous quotes or works of literature that discuss this very notion, but we somehow still forget all of that.

Occasionally I forget how much love and beauty I'm surrounded by in my life. I forget that not everyone is blessed to live by a body of water that shimmers in the sun and constantly varies between numerous shades of blue. I forget that not everyone can go for a walk in the middle of the day under the warmth of the sun, while enjoying the light breeze blowing off the water. I forget that being able to buy coffee and sitting in a bookstore to read for a few hours is a luxury. But today I remembered, and I was able to appreciate how special these gifts are.

When I got home this afternoon the first thing that I wanted to do was go downstairs and play the new vinyl records I purchased over the weekend. So I started up the turntable, put my BBC Recording of The Black Keys on and cranked up the sound. Since we no longer have a working TV in my parent's basement and I didn't just feel like sitting around, I decided to pick up a neglected cue and play a game of pool against myself. I haven't played pool for a few years now and it was pretty obvious by the craptastic shots I was taking. It took me, what seemed to be, 20 shots (I lost count) just to sink one ball, but it didn't matter. After a while I switched out The Black Keys for one of my parent's Tina Turner records and started a full on dance party by myself. As I was jumping around and using the cue as my own personal rock star microphone I realized how little some things have changed in my life. I will never stop singing into the end of the cue or shaking my what my mamma gave me when the time is right. Some things you do when you're younger you wouldn't dream of doing today and other things will always stay with you.

Right in the middle of my Turner impersonation I spun around to find my brother standing by the table and laughing at me. Really nothing changes and you better bet I didn't skip a beat. That's when he grabbed his cue and so began the next couple hours of family fun. My dad joined us for a few rounds of Cut Throat after getting home from work, and my mom made a late entrance for her typical role as game observer. It's been harder the last few years to find time to spend together and it was nice being able to laugh and joke with the people I love. We will always be able to bond over pool.

So today was a great day. The same kind of day as many other days, but with a totally different perspective. And sometimes, perspective makes all the difference.

What is your idea of a great day? What kind of things did you do with your family growing up that you can still bond over today?


Monday, September 8, 2014

Music I've Been Loving Lately

Hey Guys,
It's been all summer and I don't think I've done one music update since my Spring Playlist. Three months is a long time to cover when trying to condense my ever-changing musical taste, but I'll give it a try. A lot of the new music I discovered or chose to listen to this summer was from movie soundtracks. A great movie soundtrack might be one of my favorite things in the entire world; it's like an instant playlist, blending new with old and bringing artists that you might never discover elsewhere to the forefront of your mind.

1. Head.Cars.Bending by The 1975 
As far as I remember the first time I heard of The 1975 was from missglamorazzi in some Youtube video of her's a while back. Then my friend sent me some early videos of their's when the EP was just coming out and I fell in love with the songs Sex and Chocolate. A while later when they're full CD was released, I bought a few songs here and there, going through phases and slowly adding to the collection. Saturday night I finally broke down and bought the whole Deluxe Edition; and I have no idea why I waited this long. I think sometimes bands are like a good meal, you don't want to jam everything in your mouth at once but chew each bite slowly giving yourself time to enjoy every piece of food.

2. At Your Door by Nathaniel Walcott, Mike Mogis & Big Harp (Stuck In Love Soundtrack)
Stuck In Love is amazing and the soundtrack just added to my big, giant love for the movie. Immediately after watching the film for the first time, I rushed to my computer to check out the album. Basically every song on the soundtrack is good.

3. In Remission by The Menzingers
"If everyone needs a crutch, I need a wheelchair..." Oh Menzingers how I love you so.

4. Hero by Family of the Year (Thanks for Sharing Soundtrack)
Another movie that encompassed everything I love. Not only was it a great story, but I adore every single actor/actress in it, and the soundtrack kicked serious ass.

5. Afterlife by Ingrid Michaelson
Lights Out is definitely one of my favorite albums of this year. Ingrid is awesome and I didn't stop listening to this entire album on repeat for about a week. Like all great albums, there's a perfect balance between catchy pop songs and slow emotional melodies. Go check it out.

6. I Want What You Have by Willamette Stone (If I Stay Soundtrack)
I finally got around to reading If I Stay last week and loved how strong of a role music played in the story. Mia, her parents, Teddy, and Adam's lives all revolve around creating and appreciating music (something I can definitely relate to). I figured most of the music on the soundtrack I'd already own, but I was still excited to hear the songs from Adam's band. I know it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea (it did take me a bit to decide whether I actually liked it or not), but I think they nailed down what I had expected from a popular high school band that's still developing their sound. The film also has a great cover of The Smashing Pumpkin's song Today.

7. Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85: 1. Adagio - Moderato by Jacqueline du Pré, London Symphony Orchestra & Sir John Barbirolli
Since The Brothers Karamazov takes more focus than usual to read, I've had to be more selective with the type of music I listen to while reading. Anything with lyrics distracts me too much from the words at hand, and I catch myself zoning into the music more so than the book. After reading If I Stay I felt inspired to listen to more cello music and this famous Elgar concerto performed by Jacqueline du Pré was a great place to start.

8. Afire Love by Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran is another artist that can do no wrong in my book. Pretty much everything he's released, I've felt a connection to. He's such a talented musician.

9. The Last Thing On My Mind by Stark Sands ft. Punch Brothers (Inside Llewyn Davis Soundtrack)
It wasn't really a surprise to me that I loved this film or it's soundtrack. A good folk song always gets me. I watched the film back around Oscar times, but wasn't able to get my hands on this album until last month.

10. Two Fingers by Jake Bugg
I first discovered Jake Bugg when his song Simple As This was on The Fault In Our Stars Soundtrack. That song quickly became one of my new favorites and I knew I had to get my hands on more of his music. Bugg has a unique voice that really sets his music apart from other songs of his kind. Bugg released a few albums now and they're all gold nuggets.

What's your favorite music from this summer? What songs have you been loving lately?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Interesting Documentary: Tiny

Last night I finally watched the documentary Tiny: A Story About Living Small on Netflix. The film follows Christopher Smith (and his girlfriend Merete Mueller) as he builds his own tiny house with no building experience, a tight budget, and a short amount of time. Most of the tiny houses featured in the film were under 200 square feet and as a result of building code restrictions, were built on trailer beds.

I hadn't heard of the tiny house movement before watching the film and I thought it was interesting to hear all of the different reasonings behind living small. Some people just wanted to minimize their lifestyle, others set out to save money, some (like Christopher) wanted a way to live off the land with less impact on their natural surroundings. The tiny house movement seems like a great way to promote sustainability and help change the value we place on space.

Smith and others in the tiny house movement were inspired by Henry David Thoreau and the ideas he writes about in Walden. After reading the book earlier this year, I also felt inspired to lead a more purposeful life. Even though I struggle with the concept on a daily basis, I'm trying to be a more conscious consumer. Right now it's all about the little changes you can make.

I love the idea of building your own house, no matter what size, and having the ability to say "hey, I made that." Watching Smith build his tiny house with little experience showed that anyone with enough passion and hard work could create their own home. It's like creating a large work of art with a very deliberate purpose. Making something useful out of recycled and mostly natural resources is an ultimate goal of mine. Having a space that reflects me and accomplishing that with my own hands, would really help solidify the feeling of home.

I absolutely love the use of metal siding on this design from Tumbleweed.

Living small would have it's challenges. Some of the people interviewed for the film lived in tiny houses as a couple, which seems like the worst idea ever to me. But living in a tiny house would also have some major advantages as a single, twenty something. I don't think I could live in a tiny house for the rest of my life, but it's still be awesome to try for a while. Even if you don't find the idea of living in a tiny house appealing, I do think it's important to try and live smaller lives. The film really focuses on changing the way people judge other's by what, or how much, they own. 

I want to live a deliberate life, and maybe that doesn't mean "going off the grid" and living in a tiny house in the woods, but finding purpose in the space I occupy. It means consciously deciding to have a smaller impact on this earth and a larger impact on the people around me.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer 2014 TV Show Lineup

I may be employed this summer, but I still have plenty of time to watch TV shows. Last summer I wrote a blog post about the shows I was watching, so I thought I'd update you on this season's lineup. Don't worry, despite the seemingly long list this year, I have been enjoying the sun and the warm weather while it lasts. I wouldn't waste all my time inside when we only get a few nice months out of the year (speaking of which, I really need to move).

- Supernatural: I started watching Supernatural last fall (I believe?) and finally made it through season 8 this past month. Unlike other series that I've flown through within a month (or a week), Supernatural didn't move as quickly for me. The show lulled in a few places and forced me to take a break in order to build up my desire to keep watching. Also the series is currently 9 seasons long and that's a lot of TV time. I did enjoy season 8 and hope the momentum has continued to pick up again. There were a lot of teary eyed moments during season 8, but there's also little phrases or moments that really made me laugh.

This moment for instance, when Crowley was calling Dean and his contact was 666. I doubt it was supposed to be as funny as I found it, but good god I laughed.

Unfortunately season 9 isn't up on Netflix yet, but I'm hoping they add it before season 10 starts so I can actually watch new episodes with everyone else.

- Greek: I watched the first couple seasons of Greek back when they originally aired, but I don't think I saw much of seasons 3 or 4. Casey and Cappie were (kinda still are) one of my favorite TV couples. They had their problems, and it definitely took them a while to get back to each other, but they were the type of TV couple you rooted for.

I also really loved how Casey and Rusty's relationship evolved over the years. As well as Rusty's relationship with both Dale and Cappie. Plus I appreciated the show's focus on strong female characters. Re-watching the show has been a fun trip back to the more recent past. Back before my own college experience. I'm watching the show from a different perspective as before, and it's definitely made me see certain situations in the series differently. I have about 3 episodes left in the last season and it's kind of nice not being able to remember exactly how things end.

Currently On TV:
- Chasing Life: This show is the reason I started re-watching Greek, since it reminded me how much I liked Scott Michael Foster (who by the way is looking mighty fine with the shorter hair cut). When I first started seeing previews for Chasing Life on ABC Family, I didn't think it would be my type of show. Only after my friend started telling me how much she liked it did I give the show a chance, and I'm so glad I did. Chasing Life is about the life of April Carver and the changes she must face after being diagnosed with cancer. I don't know what it is about the show, but I immediately felt connected to the story and had an interest in the character's lives. From my perspective the show seems to put a realistic spin on April's story (to an extent of course), but I'd be curious to know how other's actually going through similar situations feel about the show's portrayal of cancer.

- Young and Hungry: Another pleasant surprise from ABC Family. This might not be an Emmy winner but it's certainly funny. If you're looking for a lighthearted show that's short and sweet, I'd definitely recommend checking out Young and Hungry. The show is about Gabi, a struggling 20 something who snags a job as a personal chef for Josh, a successful and young technology entrepreneur.

I always appreciate some good Hannibal Lecter humor. 

- Brew Dogs: I may have watched more Esquire Network this summer than any other TV channel. What can I say, I love me some alcohol related television. Craft beer is something I find particularly interesting and I could spend hours listening to Martin Dickie and James Watt talk. What could be better than two funny Scottish guys brewing beer and being ridiculous?

They're not bad to look at either. Now I just want them to come to Traverse City and brew a beer with one of the local breweries.

- Best Bars in America: Also on the Esquire Network, Best Bars in America follows two comedians, Jay Larson and Sean Patton, as they visit some of David Wondrich's picks for best bars in the country. Not only has this show made me contemplate planning all future travels around these bars, but have greatly increased the number of different cocktails I need to try.

- American Ninja Warrior: Last, but certainly not least, I've been obsessed with this competition this summer. I've caught episodes here and there in previous seasons, but I've never gotten into the show like I have this year. I especially love watching the kick ass and inspiring women that have conquered the courses better than some of the guys. Girl power! The other reason I love watching ANW is because it fuels my desire to live a healthier life. I usually end up doing some sort of mini workout while watching the show, whether that's practicing yoga flows, performing some body weight exercises, or just taking the time to stretch. I'd love to start doing some sort of ANW inspired workout since it always looks so challenging and fun! Guess I need to do my research and see if there's any gyms in Traverse City that offer classes like that.

What have you been watching this summer?


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Communication Struggles

On occasion (or every single day) my life seems like a constant struggle to communicate properly with the outside world. It's pretty embarrassing and can create some super awkward moments. I thought I'd share this video from danisnotonfire because it made me laugh and sums up a few of my problems for you.

Not only do I have hearing problems, I also have the occasion speech difficulties. Now I'd say I've made improvements over the years to the way I speak and my ability to enunciate, but I still suffer from those moments where my brain to mouth wiring goes faulty. Sometimes I mumble, start talking way too fast, or get completely tongue tied. I'm constantly having to repeat myself when people ask for my name too. I can't tell if it's just my name or the way I'm saying it but I swear every time I say "Sarah" to a barista they say "Tara? Kara? Farrah?" Nope, no, none of the above. 

Of course I'm also the person who has to ask "what?" 5 times before finally figuring out what exactly the person across from me is saying. There's nothing like realizing that your hearing sucks worse than the lady trying to ask you a question, who happens to be 40 years older than you. Or more embarrassing than her telling you that she's giving you her "old lady" title for the day.

Welcome to my life of shame and humiliation. No wonder I have no friends.

Can anyone else relate?


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Missing Friends

Growing up is strange and in the midst of constant life changes, the friends we have don't always stay the same either. Despite being aware of these facts, the knowledge of them doesn't make it any easier to accept. I don't know what it is lately, but I've really been missing my friends. I'm sure I'm not alone in this feeling and that plenty of people know what I'm talking about. It's kind of like my last post, just another part of life every twenty-something goes through at one point or another. Everyone tells you these things, but you really can't prepare for any post-college woes (that makes it sound so dramatic) until you're already experiencing them.

At this point, my close friends are all experiencing life in different parts of the country. They're scattered through the states and I couldn't be more proud to see them following their dreams. My girlfriends who know my deepest secrets, share my strongest bonds, and who I could always depend on for a good time are no longer close enough for last minute coffee runs or midday adventures. Now that I've been back in Traverse City for a while, I'm starting to realize just how lonely I've become here. Every person needs to have friends in their area they can hang with on an off day or call up for a quick drink. I'd love to have a friend to go to yoga class with me or someone to ride my bike with who isn't my dad. No offense to my family, because I love them and I'm every so grateful that they include me in their plans, but sometimes I feel like the last minute pity invite. My brother and his friends are always going off doing fun stuff together and it makes me miss having friends like that. I feel so pathetic when one of his friends asks me if I'm going to some event around town and I have to say no because I never have anyone to go with.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure this post has included enough self pity for one day. If you're still reading though, do you have any advice on making new friends in a town you grew up in? I'm sure it's not all that different than making friends in a new town, but I'd still love to hear from you guys. Or if you have ever felt the same way, let me know.