This post has been a long, long time in coming.  Get ready for an overload of my current favorite things!!  Inspired by several other similar posts I’ve seen out there, I combined my own twist on those posts together with an idea I’d had for a long time (which I still might do sometime) to put together my top five must-read/sees for y’all.  But I always have trouble deciding, so these are the favorites that I am enjoying right now.  Some of them are also all-time favorites. 😜

Five random current favorite things:

Anklets.  My sisters got me into this one.  I always thought they were cute, but I didn’t think I’d remember to put them on in the morning (#storyofmylife with all jewelry…hence why I hardly ever wear earrings anymore).  So far, though, my score’s pretty good. 😉

My iPhone Seppi.  I never thought I would “defect” to the other side…and at the same time, I’ve been secretly eying/drooling/jealous of Apple products for a long, long time.  Even when I openly admitted it, I didn’t think it was possible that I could actually have one.  I did decide that if I ever got an iPhone though, I would name him Seppi (short for Giuseppi)…that’s how crazy I am about names.  Thanks to my mom and dad and some phone plan upgrade gymnastics, I have one in my hand right now!  And it’s mine.  And he’s awesome!!

Headphones with an in-line mic.  I’ve never experienced one of these before last week.  I always thought they looked so cool and trendy, not to mention handy, and as soon as I realized my iPhone had come with one, I tried it right away.  I was shocked that the shape of the earpiece fit my ear perfectly (most don’t) and the base was awesome.  I spent that day feeling very cool-kid and Millennial. 😜

Pretzels + chocolate.  Who doesn’t love this combo??  But lately, I’ve been ob.s.e.s.s.e.d. with it!!

SUNNY SUMMER WEATHER!!!  Sorry for the all-caps.  It’s just I’m so excited.  The sun and warmth is something I look forward to all year. 😎

Podcasts:

Mind Body Musings with Maddy Moon
Maddy is awesome.  I love her perspective on body image and freedom from your own mind.  Her experience as an ex-fitness model is eye-opening and inspiring, and now when I see a picture of a model and start to go into body shaming mode about myself, I automatically think of Maddy’s story and I wonder how sad that poor girl truly must be and how small her life must feel.  Maddy’s voice of truth has (and continues to!) many times saved me from falling back into patterns of dangerous thinking and the destructive pit of obsessive exercise, restrictive eating and hating my body.  She is one in a million, and I’m so glad she is out there to keep reminding me of what is truly important.

Good Life Project* with Jonathan Fields
Like I even need to say anything about Mr. Fields. 😜  Even though I was hesitant to listen to his show at first because of his origin in the business/entrepreneur world, this is a wonderful podcast.  I listen to almost every one, even if it doesn’t sound particularly interesting, because I’m basically guaranteed to get something out of it.  I love the vision of the podcast and the final question is always one of my favorite parts of the show.  Not to mention Mr. Fields is probably one of the best interviewers I’ve heard (and he has such a calming voice too).  Random fact: Mr. Fields would definitely make the list of people I wish I could meet in real life, though if I did, I’d probably freak-out and just stand there grinning like a fool. 😆

Finding Our Hunger* with Kaila Prins
I find Kaila’s podcast beyond valuable!  It was from Kaila that I learned and continue to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of the diet industry, the tricks of marketing (especially coming from someone who works in marketing herself!) and the reasons and ways that the culture is trying to influence our minds with their message.  While I am totally behind female empowerment and woman (and men!) finding their true self-worth and realizing that they are good enough as they are, I am not a feminist and so do not agree with that perspective.  Notwithstanding, Kaila is never pushy about it and there is so much rich, beneficial and sometimes shocking truth in this podcast.  Kaila is so real and engaging, and I really feel like she’s a friend who really cares about each and every one of her listeners and how they are doing along their journey. [edit: since I wrote this, Kaila has been releasing several surrounding the topic of sexuality, which I don’t listen to.]

The Wellness Wonderland Radio* with Katie Dalebout
Okay, so I’m sure y’all are tired of all the body image shows I listen to, but I said this would be mainly current favorites and this is what I have been going through recently (not to mention something I am very passionate about!), so please bear with me for just one more.  I love this podcast, and I knew right away it would make the favorites list.  I listen to almost every episode (I have skipped a few though, due to the subject matter) and Katie is such a fun and lovely host, I really do feel like I know her.  She interviews some of my favorite guests, along with many with whom I wasn’t familiar, with a different take and a personal touch.  And of course, since we both have an affinity for the emotional/feeling side of life, I love that she often brings that perspective to the party too!  While Katie does come from a history of an eating disorder and is very much into the body image part of the puzzle, she incorporates broader topics on her show, though with an emphasis on living with purpose, gratefulness and acceptance, both of others and yourself.   Plus, she has the most amazing quick-fire questions EVER!  They are so my style and I’m always answering them in my head according to what I’m feeling like that day.

Personality Hacker* with Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge
When I first started this post, I’d only listened to a few episodes of this podcast, but included it in my favorites anyway; in my own words, I originally said that even though “this [post] is going to be current favorites [and] not necessary rock-solid recommendations…I’ve definitely been enjoying this one.”  Umm, yeah!  My views have changed a teensy bit since then, plus by now I’ve caught up on their archive of 120+ regular episodes, though I’ve skipped quite a few. 😉  I have become officially ob-sessed.  If you’ve been around me for a decent (non-emotionally-fraught 😐) period of time in the last year or two, you probably know that I’ve become increasingly interested obsessed with personalities and the Myers-Briggs types specifically.  Like, seriously…like probably at least 75% of my thoughts/conversation in day-to-day life can somehow be traced back to personality.  I’ve delved deep in observing, pondering and comparing people, trying to develop theories and postulate on the reasons behind why different people act differently.  In listening to this podcast with trained, experienced professionals, it made me feel smart to find out that many of the theories I formed on my own were correct, while learning that some of the ways I was thinking about personality (and Myers-Briggs specifically) were flawed and shallow.  I have a high respect for Joel and Antonia and their work, and am hoping to take their Profiler Training course this December!

 *Podcasts marked with a star have a range of rare to occasional to some language.  Please proceed with discretion as fits your views on what you consciously choose to allow into your mind.  (With Mind Body Musings, if the guest does use some language that cannot be edited out, Maddy will let you know that in the intro.)

Books:

Non-fiction:

What Every Body Says by Joe Naverro
Granted, I actually haven’t read this yet.  Is that even legal??  But the thing is, when Mom loves a book she’s reading, she will read a bit to herself which she finds fascinating or funny and then she’ll read that bit aloud to us.  Sometimes she’ll just summarize a principle or story as she thinks of it throughout the day.  If it’s a particularly good book, we’ll experience the book vicariously through her.  Plus, right after Mom read it, Luke read it, and he did the same thing, so we know even more about it!  Now, due to this book, body language and the messages we subconsciously broadcast with our expressions and posture has become a hot topic in our house.  I am anxious to get to read it!

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
Honestly, Daring Greatly is really just a placeholder in my favorites for “anything by Brené Brown”, but Daring Greatly is the only one I’ve currently read.  There are so many books on my list of books I want to read…Rising Strong, her latest book, is going to take priority here pretty soon, probably in the form of audiobook, as I can read a lot more books if I can listen while I work.  Anyway, Daring Greatly (or any of Brené Brown’s work!) is literally life-changing.  You know how we throw around that term to exaggerate to make a point about how much we love something or how important we think it is (I do this all the time)?  Well, when I say that Brené Brown’s work is life-changing, it truly is.  It (hopefully) will change the way you see yourself, your thoughts and reactions, and how we see each other.  It’s one of those books that I really think every human being on this planet should read, one of those books you wish you had hundreds of copies to give away for free.  Because, after the Bible, I think this book affected my life more than any other book out there. [edit: after I wrote this, I read Rising Strong and oh. my. goodness.!!  Everything I said about Daring Greatly could be said of Rising Strong as well!!  I would highly, highly recommend reading them both (Daring Greatly first though)!!]

Fiction:

The 100 Cupboards series by N. D. Wilson
Oh, The 100 Cupboards series!  (This is kind of a sneaky one, because I snuck in 3 for the price of 1 when it comes to listing my current favorites.)  This series is one of my all-time favorites, ranking up there with The Chronicles of Narnia ( which will forever have one of those special places in my heart).  Which just makes me laugh to think about, because this was the series I almost didn’t finish.  I almost got hung up over Dandelion Fire, the second book in the series, because I was confused and couldn’t make sense of anything and I felt lost and it didn’t seem to be getting any clearer.  Part of this is because of the type of person I am, and because of this, I have learned that there are sometimes, when I don’t understand something that’s going on, it’s not necessarily important that I try to hold on to it and make that puzzle piece fit in anywhere and everywhere.  Nowadays, I try to let go of the things I don’t understand and be carried on by the natural flow of the story.  A good author will explain it so you understand at least enough.  Much to my (and my sibling’s!) relief, I did stick through Dandelion Fire, mainly because, seeing as there wasn’t anything wrong with it, I committed to finishing at least book 2 and seeing if it made any more sense.  It did (though I will say every time you reread it, you understand more and more).  And boy, was I hooked.  You know those books that are like comfort food in book-form?  The ones that always make you feel better, bring you back to who you really are and give you that childlike feeling of being safe and comfortable and cared for?  I have only a few books in that category, but N. D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboards series are some of them.  (And N. D. Wilson is also one of only three authors I can think of right now where I would pre-order a book of his before it came out and without having already read it.)

P.S.  Fun fact about N. D. Wilson:  Mom found his book via the library, but upon further research, we found that he is the son of a relatively well-known pastor who has written several books and was the founder of a college where a friend from our old church attended.  She had been very vocal about the college, so we already knew we didn’t agree with many of the guiding principles of the college, but it turned out that none of these ideas seemed to have crept into the books at all.  Oh, and also, N. D. Wilson lives in the town where my brother attended school at the University of Idaho. 😉

Rite of Brotherhood by Cherith Baldry
Just ask anyone in my family and they will tell you how much I love this book!!  I talk about it all. the. time.  The other books in the series I like less (though most of them are still good), but Rite of Brotherhood, I can so relate to pretty much everything that goes through the main character’s head heart that of course it is one of my favoritest of favorites.  Disclaimer: I am well aware that the main character is supposed to be a guy, but since he is written by a woman, and a certain type of woman at that, he is nothing like any guy I’ve ever met or heard of.  He’s basically a girl. Especially as it’s written in first-person, it would be extremely difficult to make him accurate.  I usually end up suspending all knowledge of him as a guy, and basically view his behavior through the lens of what I would do in his shoes.  And since I’m a girl, it all works out. 😜

Heidi by Johanna Spyri
This book has been one of my favorites time out of mind, and I really think it’s getting to be about time that I relistened to it.  I love the classic story and the idyllic setting.  I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the reasons I developed a love for goat cheese is from this book, lol!  It sometimes almost makes me want to visit the Alps or appreciate the environment Heidi loved as much as she does in the book.  I’m pretty sure this book will always remain one of those classic favorites of mine.

Movies:

Big Hero 6
A new-ish favorite.  I love this movie and currently would say that it probably will end up being an all-time favorite, but I can’t exactly say that for sure until after it’s been a few years.  But I could watch this movie multiple times in a row and it would take me awhile before I got sick of it. 😜  While this isn’t a universal rule, I personally think that some of the best movies make you both laugh and cry, and continue to do so for multiple watchings (even if you are an adult and losing your cry-ability).
Spoiler alert warning (skip to next movie to avoid spoilers):  For you people who don’t like sad movies, there is a sad part, though the whole movie isn’t sad.
Favorite scene: This is too hard.  If I had to pick one…it would be either the scene when Baymax first talks about Hiro’s grief (😢) or when Baymax and Hiro are trying to solve how to get out of the portal at the end (😭)…or the one of Baymax showing Hiro the videos of Tadashi…or the drunk Baymax scene (😂)…oh, c’mon, don’t make me pick!!
Favorite quote:  Probably “Hiro, if I could have any super power, it would be to reach through this screen and give you a big hug.” or “Ba-la-la-la!” (every scene, it’s either hysterical or laden with meaning)

Meet the Robinsons
From the first time I watched this movie, I was like, “This is going to be one of my favorites!!”  Ironic because when it first came out, I got the impression that it was a dumb, lame movie and we didn’t watch it for years.
Spoiler alert warning (skip to next movie to avoid spoilers): It has all my favorite things: well-done time travel, unexpected family connections, discovering a sense of love and belonging, owning and totally rocking your individual and collective weirdness, and the importance of strong family ties.
Favorite scene: Lewis saying goodbye to Will
Favorite quote: This is probably a tie between 3: “I never thought my dad would be my best friend.”, “I love checklists!” or “You messed with the wrong family!”

The Emperor’s New Groove
Shout-out and mea culpa to my brother and sister-in-law, Ben and Lynn, who have been trying to tell us for years that we’d like this movie.  We finally watched it and it is h.i.l.a.r.i.o.u.s.  See above what I said about Big Hero 6 and how I could watch it multiple times without getting tired of it.  Totally my kind of movie when I’m in the mood for laughs!
Spoiler alert warning (skip to next movie to avoid spoilers):  I. am. Kronk.  ‘Nuff said.  (See the “Characters most like me” section for more details.)  Except hopefully, I’d have enough sense not to take up with the villian.
Favorite scene: Yzma and Kronk having Emperor Kuzko over for dinner…I crack up into uncontrollable laughter every time!! 😂  Closely followed by any scene with the on-the-shoulder demon and angel.
Favorite quote: “Riiigghhhtt…” +a bajillion in second place

Frozen
I know, greatest joke in all history, right??  First time I watched this, I had a violent reaction to it.  And even afterwards, after I’d had more time to think it over (which is really best in order for me to solidify what I truly think…usually best after a few re-watchings) my opinion was still quite cool.  And now it’s one of my favorites??  Life is full of surprises, isn’t it?  There are so many things I love about this movie, and while there are still some themes I don’t especially care for, they aren’t the point of the movie and besides, basically any movie you watch is going to have themes you don’t care for.
Spoiler alert warning (umm, is there anyone who hasn’t watched Frozen??  Well, if you are one of those people, skip to next movie to avoid spoilers):
Favorite scene: Almost certainly the Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” scene.  Due to the circumstances surrounding the first time I saw Frozen, I sobbed like a baby through this scene the first time.  Most of the time, it still makes me cry.
Favorite quote: A toughy, but I’ll go with “Some people are worth melting for,” or “We can face this thing together…”

Winnie-the-Pooh (2011)
What’s not to love about Pooh?  Especially when you’re mind-twins with Winnie the Pooh.  Basically anything that comes out of Pooh’s mouth could have come out of mine.  Pooh’s devotion and selfless loyalty to his friends speaks straight to my heart.
Spoiler alert warning (skip to next section to avoid spoilers):
Favorite scene: Probably the scene at Owl’s house when Winnie the Pooh taking Christopher Robin’s note for Owl to read 😂 (Sidenote: I’m a stickler for all the old Pooh movie voices, but man, Craig Ferguson takes Owl to the next level…he’s perfect!)
Favorite quote: Possibly my oft-quoted “Eeyore, ever have one of those days when you just can’t win?” though I can’t really decide.

Favorite current music (the first two win my IMO best music video…very, very different styles, but I could watch them over and over and see something I missed, and I think both are so clever in vastly different ways):

Honey, I’m Good by Andy Grammer.  I love the idea of this song and the tune is so catchy.  Plus, there is just so much I like about Andy Grammer (more on that later…)! 😉  It’s such a sweet song, and would be a ton of fun to flash mob sing somewhere.  Note: FYI, there is a few instances of mild language.

Up and Up by Coldplay.  Thanks to my wonderful cousins for introducing this song, + the a.m.a.z.i.n.g. music video to me!!  (Actually, thanks goes to them as well for exposing me to Coldplay in the first place!)  This song is again catchy, but in a different way, and quite beautiful.  I don’t know what it is, but it’s also moving in its own way, and partly because I have it so associated with my special time in Vancouver, I often feel that warm ache in my heart as I listen and want to cry.  It’s just awesome.  I highly recommend listening to it.

The Frigate That Flies from Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy (<-yeah, I have watched a Tinkerbell movie).  This song makes me so happy.  It never fails to put me in dance par-tay mode!!  It’s hilarious as well. 😜

The Great Divide by the McClain Sisters.  This one warms my heart.  It makes me think of me and my sisters, of my mom and her sister, and it’s just the perfect sister song.  Contrary to what I adamantly told my sisters when I first heard it, I totally would sing this with my sisters.  (I at first was saying that, if we ever sang something together, it should be an Andrews Sisters song…I was partial to one weighty with memories from my childhood,  Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, though I would have also attempted Chattanooga Choo-Choo…yeah, you can kind of see why my sister(s) balked. 😜)

Brand New by Ben Rector.  There aren’t enough words to say how much I love these two Ben Rector songs.  This is my ode to all you my family; this is how I feel whenever I am with you guys. 💕

Live Like The World Is Going To End by Ben Rector.  I think I can accurately say that this song is (at least currently) my motto of life.  Though I don’t think that’ll be changing anytime soon.  I just hadn’t found a song that put it into words.  It’s even weirder that in the song, he’s driving the people he loves down to California.  My favorite line is, “I’d call everyone I loved, say what I was scared to say till then…” <- see above…my motto of life. 😄

Bonus!  A classic…
Viva la Vida
by Coldplay.  Ever since my first intro to Coldplay via this song, it’s stayed on my current favorite playlists.  It brings back all the dance parties I ever had with cousin’s daughter, all the special moments where we listened to this together for comfort…#allthefeelings.

Stay tuned for part 2!  This post was originally so epically long, I had to divide it!

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