Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January Playlist

It's time for another playlist of the month! January here in Portland has been an interesting mix of dreary, dreamy and downright terrifying between the many snowstorms and temperatures lingering dangerously around freezing point. Last week we got 10" inches of snow, which at first was very exciting and idyllic, until it all got trod on enough in below-32-degree weather that it turned into inches of ice covering all of the roads and sidewalks. It's all fun and games until you can't walk to the grocery store without slipping on a patch of ice and falling on your ass. But with my many (too many) days off, I've taken the opportunity to walk to nearby coffee shops, hunkering down with lattes, a good book, my journal, and--of course--a good playlist to keep myself sane in the midst of my cabin fever.

I've definitely been favoring some moody songs lately to accompany the moody weather. Again, this playlist features a strange variety of songs, but I spent some time carefully arranging them in an order that flows nicely. For this reason, I recommend avoiding the shuffle button unless you want some serious genre whiplash.

Hope the weather wherever you are is treating you well and that you're enjoying the first month of this new year!

Happy listening!


Friday, January 6, 2017

My Love Story with Slow Living

Happy New Year, all! 

I wanted to set the tone for 2017 by talking about something that's had a hugely positive impact on my life lately, and that is the concept of slow living. And when I say slow living, I mean this: remaining an active participant in your life. For me, that's meant slowing down some of the things that I used to rush through on a day to day basis: making coffee, preparing and eating food, doing yoga, taking off my makeup and washing my face at the end of the day, etc. I've noticed that, as I take a moment to really engage in what I'm doing rather than rushing through the routine with a "get 'er done" kind of attitude, I no longer see these activities as chores but rather as opportunities to experience joy and express gratitude for each and every small moment in my day.

I listened to a TED Radio Hour podcast today titled, "Simply Happy." In it, researcher Matt Killingsworth discussed his findings on what exactly makes us happy or unhappy, and what we can do to increase our happiness. The data from Matt's happiness research led to one really fascinating conclusion: people are substantially less happy when their minds are wandering than when they're not, regardless of if their minds are wandering to happier or unhappier subjects. In other words, happiness is (at the very least) strongly correlated with how present you are in whatever you are doing at that moment.

I think the moral of story here is clear: you can become a happier person simply by committing to what you are doing and remaining present in that moment. This scientific data only supports what many of us who practice yoga or meditation have heard many times before--that being mindful and active in our lives will bring us a depth of happiness that cannot be achieved through any sort of external means. I, personally, have found this to be absolutely true. The best part is this: it's so easy to implement in your daily life. The changes I've witnessed in my own happiness as a result of these small changes has been so unbelievably significant, that I knew I had to at least try to share it with others. It's one of those low risk/high reward kind of situations that seems like such a no-brainer, I feel I have no choice but to be an obnoxiously enthusiastic advocate for it.

I do, however, think it's important to mention that this is not a one-and-done sort of thing; I have to work really hard to keep this mindset on a daily basis, because it is so painfully easy to get drawn back into old habits. But I have come to see it as yet another tool on my belt that I know I can return to at any time.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday season and are experiencing a great start to 2017. Lately I've been feeling such a surge of excitement for what's to come this year as well as a stirring of creative energy that's trying to fight its way out of my brain and into a more open space; as always, I hope that I will be utilizing this space to do that! This year I'm also attempting to jump on the bullet journal bandwagon, as a way of keeping the contents of my chaotic monkey mind a bit more organized. I'll let y'all know how that goes.....

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