Friday five

August 18, 2017

ONE || Rainbow 

Who knew Kesha could actually sing?! Not only do her vocals truly shine sans her typical auto-tune garbage, but she wrote every. single. song. on her latest album. To me, some of Kesha’s songs have a very ’70s vibe, but there are a couple of country twang moments.

If you know anything about the past few years Kesha has had, then you’ll know this album is a major middle finger to her ex-manager, Dr. Luke. For FIVE YEARS, she has been locked in legal battles, which she ultimately lost.

Suffice it to say, this whole album is her rallying cry, but before you go cranking Kesha’s new album in your car, you should know half of the songs have the “explicit” warning, which is mainly due to a plethora of expletives (I mean, it’s right up my alley, but I have not the gift of children).

TWO || Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Brian’s always looking for a game I might like to play, so here we are.

This game depicts a main character with psychosis, so it instructs you to play with headphones. This way you (the player) are submerged into her psychosis with her. Whispers go through your audio, which distract and help you during the game.

I really like it because it includes Norse mythology and history; I also don’t like it because I’m honestly not good at video games.

THREE || The Reward

This is a little video short; it’s anime-esque, and there’s no dialogue. If you’re interested and have five minutes to spare, give it a watch. Following two polar-opposite guys on a quest for treasure, adventures and turmoil ensue.

It’s oddly touching.

FOUR || Save the Children

Save the Children is a charitable organization that has become near and dear to Brian and me. We found out about them accidentally at our local farmers’ market last year, and we’ve been donating ever since. They aim to provide resources–everything from healthcare, education, disaster relief, and protection–to children worldwide, including the United States. 2016 has been a great year for Save the Children, and the organization (with help from donations and volunteers) was able to reach more than 157 million children, including more than 56 million children directly.

I love their mission and what they stand for:

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.

FIVE || Peru Itineraries

Brian and I have been discussing a vacation (for lack of a better word) to Peru next year. We want to hike the Inca Trail, which will require a lot of training and preparation both physically and mentally: a trip to Machu Picchu requires planning and lots of research (tickets have to be bought in advance because only a limited number of tourists are allowed in each day, we’ll need shots, altitude sickness medicine, hiking gear, we’ll have to find a travel company, weigh the pros/cons of hiring a porter, etc). So when I found these ten itineraries, I was stoked.

They offer different trip lengths, types of travel, and ideas for things to do and see beyond Machu Picchu. Basically, it’s Type-A travel and right up my alley.

I’m not totally invested in hiking the trail the whole way, but I like keeping my options open, and these ideas help me prepare for what to expect with any route we decide to go.

Either way, I plan on making best friends with this llama.

An old wives “tail”

August 15, 2017

Parables, allegories, fables, whatever their name, they run the spectrum from entertaining lessons to cautionary tales.

Proverbs, like this upcoming story of a stray dog, are meant to philosophically enlighten us to the error of our ways before it’s too late to change them.

An old dog that had been badly abused was near starvation.

One day, the dog found a bone, carried it to a safe spot, and started gnawing away. The dog was so hungry that it chewed on the bone for a long time and got every last bit of nourishment that it could.

After some time, a kind old man noticed the dog and its pathetic scrap and began quietly setting food out for it, but the poor hound was so attached to its bone that it refused to let go of it and soon starved to death.

I identify so much with the stray dog that it frightens me.

With a tendency to nurse wounds and grudges, I recount every wrong ever done to me. I have recognized in myself a tendency to become so attached to longing and disappointment that I don’t recognize and appreciate the good things in my life.

Unless I want to end up like that poor proverbial pooch, it’s time I learned to let go of negative feelings from the past and allow myself to feel content (dare I say, happy?) in the present.

Friday five

August 11, 2017

ONE || The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

This novel was written by one of my faves, Elizabeth Kostova. I fell in love with her first novel The Historian and have been waiting patiently for a new book from her—at this point, she’s written and published three.

I wanted a book that felt like Fall. That’s what The Historian was for me last year: the perfect book to bring in cooler temperatures, Halloween, and cozy socks. So when I saw that Mrs. Kostova had published a new book—titled The Shadow Land of all perfect things—I knew I would be walking by butt to Barnes and Noble to buy it.

It wasn’t as amazing as The Historian, but it was still well-written. Though long-winded and a little too fantastical, even for a book about a woman who mistakenly takes home a family’s urn full of human ashes, The Shadow Land broached a topic I knew next to nothing about: Bulgaria. Now, all I can think about is going to Bulgaria.

If you haven’t read any of her books, then skip The Shadow Land, and read The Historian.

TWO || Beating 50 Percent  | Blog

Beating 50 Percent is Jeremy and Audrey Roloff’s marriage blog; it is meant to help us couples, “give more effort, and more energy to our spouse. Let’s Beat 50 Percent.” The Roloffs are famous for some reason or another (a reality show, I think?), but they’re a young couple. I don’t know exactly why they’re qualified to be giving marriage advice, but that is where we are–generally, as a society.

I find this blog informative, cute, and maybe a little bit naive but all-around a nice resource.

I will be the first to admit (probably with a very quick second from Brian) that I am a flawed wife, and blogs like these are a helpful tool to manage the uncertain terrain that is marriage. It’s not just for married people, though, and can be relevant even for those who are in long-term committed relationships, engaged couples, or anyone interested in being a better partner in general.

THREE || Queso Dip at Chipotle

They brought queso to Chipotle. FINALLY. I actually don’t know if it’s available at every location just yet, but it’s here in CA.

In the southeast, our Mexican restaurants (there’s no Chipotle in MS) serve white queso dip, and everyone loves it. Out in Cali, though, there’s nothing really similar to it. That’s why we freaked when Chipotle added queso to their menu; however, it’s not great.

The texture is a little gritty, presumably because they only use real, natural ingredients blah blah, and the flavor is lacking, in that there isn’t much flavor at all.

But we’ll take what we can get.

FOUR || Game of Jones

You read that right. I said, Game. of. J-O-N-E-S.

Leslie Jones–super funny lady and 1/4 of the Ghostbusters remake–LOVES Game of Thrones, and she hilariously live tweets every episode. Seth Meyers, a fellow GoT fan and late night host, decided to do a recurring segment where he and Leslie watch each new episode this season together. It’s called: Game of Jones (because Leslie Jones).

She’s so into it, and her commentary is hi-larious. She says what we’re all thinking but funnier (and probably louder). During their viewing of the fourth episode, she gets a surprise visitor.

FIVE || Pixel Eyewear

We are all constantly staring at screens. From cell phones and computers all day at work to television and iPads at night (plus more computer and/or cell phones). Thus, our precious eyeballs are straining against the digital screen and the dreaded blue light.

So what?

Blue light also known as high-energy visible blue light (HEV) has high frequency and short wavelengths similar to UV light. Prolong exposures to artificial blue light has shown to damage the retina, the part of the eye that keeps objects in focus. Because your eyes are working extra hard to cope with the blue light, you begin to experience eye strain. Over sustained periods, the exposure can contribute to long-term vision issues such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Not to mention:

Exposure to artificial blue light causes eye fatigue, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches – symptoms of digital eye strain also known as Computer Vision Syndrome. Beyond damaging the eyes, exposure to blue light at night disrupts the circadian rhythm that regulates the release of melatonin, preventing us from falling asleep and degrading sleep quality.

These lenses protect your eyes by filtering out the blue light. They’re good for anyone to wear who stares at screens all day. Think of them as your safety goggles, except they’re cute and come in a variety of sizes and colors of frames.

It’s not all peachy keen, however. For my fellow prescription glasses-wearers, these babies are not prescriptive and cannot be worn as a means to correct your vision. If you wear contacts most of the time, like me, that’s not a problem, really, but if you wear glasses already, then it is. But fear not. Pixel isn’t the only option (and they are working toward offering prescriptive lenses, as well); LensCrafters has their Blue IQ lenses, or you can download an app (like F.lux) that filters the blue light out of your devices for your safe viewing. That option is great for personal devices but might not help if you work around more than just YOUR personal screen (i.e. a room full of computers, television screens, etc).

The writing on the wall

August 9, 2017

I don’t have a typical 8-5 job.

Currently, I do freelance writing for a couple of local magazines, and I have a part-time gig writing website content for a local tutoring company. In an attempt to be more hirable in the future, I’m doing an online code course, and I continue to pursue writing for my blog, compiling information for an eBook, and practicing my calligraphy.

My brain was swirling, though.

With all of my deadlines and simultaneous, ongoing projects, I was overwhelmed. Even as a lover of to-do lists and schedules, I still couldn’t escape the feeling that I was lacking organization, that I’d be more successful if I could just see it all clearly.

I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I went full tactile, 100% analog.

Currently taped to our dining room wall are three long sheets of paper (that I got from Staples for a calligraphy project) labeled with their individual categorical heading: Writing, Coding, Calligraphy.

Each has a list of what I’m doing, planning to get done, and working on planning on doing.

Though I have lots of things going on and am juggling several projects, I felt better being able to see it. I told Brian, “This is what the inside of my brain looks like.” He stared at the papers on the wall, then at me, and with a stare full of empathy said, “Yikes.”

I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be stressed because I don’t face the pressures and stressors of a normal job, but I have responsibilities and people counting on me all the same. Being able to show myself that I actually do have a reason to feel overwhelmed—despite my lack of having a traditional job—made me feel empowered and understood.

For you, it might not take going full Beautiful Mind and literally writing on the wall like it did for me, but even figuratively, seeing the writing on the wall can help if you need to reevaluate what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, or how you’re doing it. A little reevaluation and a different perspective might bring some much needed clarity.

People suck (but so do I)

August 7, 2017

July was a busy month, and I found myself on the road for the majority of it. As we all can probably agree, humanity is at its worst on the road, in traffic. Unfortunately, Brian and I found ourselves in the midst of a couple of, shall I say, less than convivial situations.

In San Francisco, we were driving to our hotel and were waiting to go through a green light. Focusing too much on getting to turn than on the light changing, we had to abruptly stop at the red light. Our car was taking up a good portion of the crosswalk when we stopped, but it was simply a miscalculation, not something done nefariously to ruin the pedestrians’ day. However, one older lady was so irate that we were obstructing the walkway that she hit our car with her hand. Granted, that’s some dumb ass shit for her to do, and at first, I was more disgusted that she touched our dusty, cobweb covered car; however, my emotions quickly transitioned from surprise, disgust, embarrassment and finally, into anger. I simply could not believe she was so mad she hit our car so hard with her hands that my SUV shook.

What a ridiculous reaction, and I mean from both the old lady and myself. Because I had to fight the increasingly overwhelming urge to roll my window down and scream, “What the [colorful expletives] is your [more colorful expletives] problem, you [expletive]?!”

Then, on a different trip, on our way home from LA, we were driving in the commuter lane. Brian crossed a double yellow line, but we needed to get over quickly, and a commuter lane is double yellows all the way. After Brian changed lanes, a man on a motorcycle pulls up to Brian’s window, straddles the traffic lines, and proceeds to yell at Brian. We both thought the motorcyclist was trying to tell us something was wrong with our car, but no, this man only wanted to yell at my husband for crossing the double yellow lines. Before he speeds off, he called Brian a [colorful expletive].

Brian’s only offense being that he crossed double yellows, we were stunned. Yes, a mistake was made, but Brian hadn’t almost crushed the motorcyclist or caused any traffic collisions or endangered any one in any way, yet this man felt angry enough that he put his life in danger to yell, cuss, and demean a stranger.

Again, I felt rage boiling inside of my heart. I don’t know why people go to such lengths to be nasty. A comedian said once, “Some people suck.” And that’s become our family mantra whenever things like this—or even mundane inconsiderate, rude events—happen.

I read this Pema Chodron quote, though, and I think it applies:

Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.

The problem is not the not-so-nice, terrible people, but my not-so-nice, terrible reactions. Even though, my reactions and emotions are internal and never acted on, they’re poisonous all the same. Choosing to let things go is wise and shows extreme self-control. I’m certainly not that wise or in charge of my emotions yet, but I’m working on it like a [colorful expletive].