We are in our second and final week of the blog’s series on what we should be listening to. If you missed last week’s post, just scroll down to read a little about what podcasts you should subscribe and tune in to. This week, we are TALKING ABOUT MUSIC! I’m so excited for this particular topic because music has been such a central and uniting theme in my life. I studied voice in college and spend my weekdays teaching a love and understanding of music to young kids. As I’ve grown up, my taste in music has grown with me, but I will always have a special spot in my heart for old favorites. For me, there is nothing like music to take me back to the exact time, place, and feeling I was experiencing when I loved that album or a certain artist. In this post we are taking the grand tour of my musical loves. I’ve broken my all time favorite songs, albums, and artists into my top five favorite genres to listen to. We’ll be covering country/bluegrass, folk, Christian worship, pop, and soundtrack/instrumental. Obviously I did go to music school so I have a heart for choral, Broadway, and classical as well, but in the interests of not making this post a novel, I’m sticking to just these five (more general) genres. At the end of each section below you will find a link to a Spotify playlist I’ve created around each of these genres. Click over and enjoy! You might just find your new favorite.
1. Country & Bluegrass
When I was in high school, country was basically my whole musical world. Tattoos on This Town was our senior song and I have no shame about that. Luke Bryan’s song, I Don’t Want this Night to End was, and remains to this day, my FAVORITE song. Bluegrass and I go back even longer. When we summered at our family beach house, my Dad played guitar while the entire family sang Down to the River and I’ll Fly Away. There is something about country and bluegrass that sound exactly like home.
Top Three: Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, and Punch Brothers
When I got to college I encountered folk music for the first time and am of course now, completely in love. Folk is a pretty sweeping genre and that is represented by the artists in the playlist. Folk can sound techo or almost like bluegrass but across the board you can hear the artistry and the ownership in this genre.
Top Three: JohnnySwim, Civil Wars, and Josh Krajcik
3. Christian Worship
Like all Baptists raised in the early 00’s, I have had my heavy BarlowGirl, Skillet, Casting Crowns, etc. phase. Then, like any kid, I went through a looooong phase when I thought I was too cool for Christian music. This last year has been a slow reversal of my strongly held prejudice against Christian music. I started to believe it was all overly simplistic musically and slightly cheesy in message, but these bands and artists have changed my mind. The key is to listen to the good stuff. I would like to think this playlist is full of a good handful of the very best.
Top Three: BETHEL, Citizens and Saints, and Kristene Dimarco
This playlist is called Kitchen Dancing because that’s when it’s going to get played. I love pop music when my hands are busy cleaning or driving or sorting or when I feel like dancing. Pop for me varies pretty significantly. You’re going to see T-swift and Post Malone and everyone in between. But when I’m really looking for quick or new pop music, I tune in to the radio just as often or hit the Spotify radio version of an artist or song that fits my mood.
Top Three: Paramore, Chance the Rapper, and Ruth B.
I can remember leaning against the windows listening to melodramatic soundtracks as teenager and I think that was the moment I started using instrumental music to help me think and to relax. The sounds on this playlist are perfect for background music during homework, journaling, or chatting with a friend over coffee. I probably have streamed through these songs more than almost any others in my life.
Top Three: Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, Outlander soundtrack, and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe soundtrack
I’m also including three other playlists that I listen to constantly because they are gold:
In keeping with our theme of series here on the blog, we are kicking off a two part series today on what to listen to. With a huge hunger for lifelong learning and music degree, I like to have something playing through my earbuds as often as possible. In last month’s series we discussed my current audiobook favorites and this week we are chatting about podcasts. Podcasts are probably my biggest obsession/discovery from 2017 and today I’m giving you all my favorites. If you have a favorite that I didn’t mention, be sure to comment and let us all know about it!
1. The Popcast (and the Bible Binge)
Ok, ok, this podcast is getting a rare second feature because people, it’s my favorite. This comedy/pop culture podcast is a DELIGHT. Hosted by Knox and Jamie, I literally laugh out loud and their hilariously accurate observations. Their brand new podcast, the Bible Binge, is just exactly what the world needed to process our bible stories. Also, sign up for the newsletter, it's a joy.
2. The Lazy Genius Podcast
Kendra is teaching us all how to be balanced grown women over here on the Lazy Genius Podcast. Her motto is, “genius about the things that matter, lazy about the things that don’t.” And if that isn’t wisdom for our generation, I don’t know what is. I literally just spend a half hour listening to her talk me through making soup on the fly and I was captivated. It’s everything you ever wanted to really understand, properly explained.
3. Fun Therapy
Whew, ok, so proceed with caution on this one. I mean, you will be changed, I promise, but you will also likely sob. I lost my mind listening to our friend Annie Downs (see below) talk about the reality of being single when you want to be married, and though I don’t relate whatsoever, I had myself a nice long cry on the way to work as I listened to her tell her raw and real story. Mike Foster hosts and if you’re like me, you’ll walk away from every episode having been counseled by association. So good.
4. That Sounds Fun
I’ve said it before and I will say it again and again, Annie is MY GIRL. I love this woman and her precious heart. Listening to her talk about God resonates with me on a soul level so I eat up all her podcast episodes. I’m linking you up to one of my favorites, where you can find Annie interviewing John Mark Comer, another of the world’s coolest people.
5. The Music Room
Such a shameless but completely valid plug for my co-teacher and dear friend Aileen Miracle’s podcast all about elementary music education. The material she covers is the stuff of my daily life and I might (just maybe) be making a guest appearance on the podcast shortly.
6. Super Soul Conversations
Well Oprah won my heart at the Grammy’s and I have loved her every moment since. When I heard that she was putting out a podcast with some of the world’s most influential people about the content and care of the soul. I mean, obviously this is one of my new favorite things. My favorite episode is with Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling about their new movie A Wrinkle in Time.
Next week’s post is going to be all about music. I like a little of everything and feel a lot of diehard love for my favorites so I can’t wait to introduce you. See you next week!
We are wrapping up our three week reading series this week and I’m excited to talk about three of the questions I get the most often: “how do you find time to read, how do you decide what to read, and where do you find your books?” In the beginning of 2017 I set a goal to try and read thirty books. Like anything else, I approached this new idea by diving into some research. I ended up finding the resources that led to me reading eighty books this year while working as an elementary teacher and a full-time grad student. Let me tell you all about them.
1. How do you find time to read?
Like anything else, you have to decide what matters to you. If reading does not matter to you, no guilt. Don’t ever do things because you feel like you have to, but prioritize hard things because you know they make you feel alive and they feed your soul. Reading, and by extension learning new things, makes me feel most like myself, so I knew I would make finding the time to read a priority. The first step is to claim back your minutes. If you have ten minutes waiting in the grocery store line, whip out your kindle app on your cell phone and read a few pages of your book instead of catching up on your instastories. The next step is to name your time. I named my workout time as my reading time, so while I’m running or on the elliptical or cycling or whatever, I’m also reading. Since I know I’ll be working out thirty minutes a day, I also know that I’ll get in thirty minutes of reading a day. The last step is to only read what you want to read. It will take you all year to get through a book if you hate it. But if you can’t put it down, you might fly through a book in a day or too. That leads us to how we can find books that we absolutely cannot put down.
How do you decide what to read?
I get my book recommendations from about three places. I’ve settled on these three places because I trust their tastes to match mine. I love to read literary or historical fiction, really great and accessible non-fiction, and mostly new releases. These three sources recommend mostly that kind of material with the occasional random choice that will challenge me. Most of my reading from this year came from either Anne Bogel, of the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and What Should I Read Next Podcast, Annie B. Jones (@anniebjones05) of The Bookshelf Bookstore, and The Book of the Month Club. I listen to Anne’s podcast religiously, never miss one of Annie’s instastories, and have a subscription to BOTM that brings me some of my best reading.
It takes a little time to find to find the voices that speak best to your tastes, but having smart and dedicated people do the recommending work for you helps make sure you spend your reading time on only the best books.
3. Where do you find your books?
So if I were to buy all eighty of the books I read this year, Ben would not be happen about my Amazon spending. Instead, I’ve found creative ways to get my hands on books for free. First of all, I am very well acquainted with the Columbus Public Library system. I have an educator card, which allows me to check out an absolute ton of books and gives me a free book if I were to lose one. Columbus Metropolitan Libraries very recently got rid of late fees so it takes away the stress of trying to keep track of multiple due dates. I use the Overdrive app, again through my local library, to rent ebooks and audiobooks for free, and the Kindle Lenders Library to get a free book through my Prime account every month. It takes a minute to get adjusted to the multiple systems, but using all your resources allows you to read whatever you love and read it for free.
I hope you have loved this series as much as I have! It has been so fun to talk about books and reading and I’m in the brainstorming process now for another three part series over the month of March. Feel free to reach out if there is anything you want to learn about!
2017 was the year of reading for me. I learned so much from the diverse material that I took in during this year, and along the way I fell in some big time love with a few new authors. Some authors produce one big book and the rest are nothing to write home about. But these four are the real deal. I read through their nearly entire catalog this year and soaked up every minute. If you are looking to deep dive into some good work, this would be a great place to start.
1. Shauna Niequist
I love this woman. I’ve never met her, but I love her. I kind feel like we have the same soul brand. I love the way she adores words, the way she processes the world, and the way her reflections on it connect so deeply with me. I read Bread and Wine after it was recommended to me about a thousand times and it is now a solid member of my top five books of all time. The way she connects the tangible, like food and music and literature, to the intangible, like faith and hope and perseverance gets me every time. So now I’m officially hooked. I flew through Present Over Perfect, a book about rest that feels like a word just for me and I’m working my way through Savor, her 365 devotional this year. I’ve linked her website and podcast below and I can’t wait for you to get started.
2. L.M. Montgomery
I first read the Anne of Green Gables series when my family went on our one month marathon trip out west when I was about 14. I remember sitting on the side of a swimming pool in Pheonix, dipping my toes in the water and reading long paragraphs from the books aloud to myself because I just thought the words were so lovely. This year I read Blue Castle, one of Montgomery's few books for adults, and it that proves she has sticking power outside of the Anne series. I’m also linking you up to the miniseries on Netflix that came out this year about the first book in the Anne series, Anne of Green Gables. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I would LOVE to hear your thoughts.
3. Brene Brown
If you are in my daily life, you have definitely been on the receiving end of my retelling of some bit of wisdom from her books. Her research has changed my life and that is not an exaggeration in the slightest. I’ve flown through her books this year learning about trust, vulnerability, belonging, shame, and so much more. I still have Gifts of Imperfection left to read and I am holding on to it because I can’t bear to have it all over. I think her brand new book, Braving the Wilderness (mentioned last week), is a great place to start.
4. Louise Penny
Penny’s mysteries came into my life during this past year and I’ve blazed through five already. I described her first mystery as having an incredible sense of place and characters that you can’t help but love and relate with. The mysteries are consistently well conceived but it's the details, the descriptions of a meal or the subtleties of a discussion that get me. The best thing about this series is that the books are set at different seasons or holidays in a year, so you can pace your reading to match the setting. I’m a sucker for that sort of thing for sure. Also, I can promise you that nothing will make you want to visit Canada faster.
I know that reading these the work of these wonderful women will enrich your life, and I can't wait to hear what you think. In the meantime, feel free to leave your recommendations below. See you next week for part three!
Welcome! I'm a brand new wife, second year music teacher, Jesus follower, and am chronically curious about just about everything. Join me as I kick off this adult life.
"I am the Vine, you are the Branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."