I’m excited to share my next “What I’m Into” monthly installment in time for 4th of July shenanigans. I had a lot of fun writing my first one last month, and it made me very aware of how many intriguing things I bump into on the everyday that never make it to social media. I have this new and unexpected appreciation for very ordinary things, and I keep thinking Oh, I can write about that TOO! But one thing at a time… These are the things that I couldn’t even wait until July to tell you about!
Summer is here, which means everyone is outside and periodically staring at their wrists or other trackers. It’s great seeing people exercise, but I’m always so curious about those Fitbits. Well, good ol’ humor essayist, David Sedaris, happened to write a droll piece on his experience owning his first Fitbit. I had the supreme privilege of hearing him read this piece aloud prior to publication, but I think the words alone still hold their own. Check out Stepping Out available at The New Yorker online.
There are books you read for entertainment, there are books you regret, books you abandon, and books that change you. The last book that changed me was Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Building on her previous works about her research on vulnerability and shame, she talks about what it means to live a wholehearted, shame resilient, “in the arena” kind of life. It made me feel okay with imperfection and has become my north star for courageous acts. The first 39 pages are available on the “Look Inside” section of the books Amazon listing. If you’re a commitment-phobe or low on time, check out her TEDTalk “The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown” (20:50) or her animated video “Brené Brown on Empathy” (2:53). I’m a slow reader with little time, so I need convincing to read whole works; both of these videos got me hooked and I am so grateful.
Binge Watching (Netflix and Hulu)
Obviously, I’ll be spending my July mostly just vibrating and squirming until the next Game of Thrones episode releases. Until then, I’ve found some screen fixes to share with you.
- The Stanford Prison Experiment – The actual Stanford Prison Experiment took place in 1971 (and thus a bit before my time), so I knew very little about it going into this movie. After watching this movie, I immediately wanted to plunge down an internet rabbit hole to learn everything I can about the experiment’s documentation. This film would not have been what it is without this epic cast. Some notables for me were Nelsan Ellis (aka Lafayette of TrueBlood), Ezra Miller (aka Patrick of Perks of Being a Wallflower), and Billy Crudup (who was eerily like Hugh Jackman in The Prestige. It was interesting from a researcher’s perspective and also made you reflect on the fine line between good and evil, authority figure and victim. Check it out if you enjoy a good drama!
- Orange is the New Black (Season 5) – I can’t say enough about this show that has an enormous female cast of fully developed, multi-dimensional characters. Between OINTB and SNL, I have no shortage of hilarious women on my screen. This show is one that I was reluctant to start because I always get nervous when things are mainstreamed and overly popular, but it earned its keep for me. After last season’s infamous death, I didn’t know what I was going to do missing that character. Season 5 proved worth its wait by offering a unique plot line that only covers a few days of action (kudos on that filming and acting!), ups the stakes for many of the characters, and has some important reflection points on pride and group dynamics (and maybe a hysterical striptease too). If you’re tired of your “Movies With a Strong Female Lead” category *barf*, flip over to this show that never disappoints and grows with its characters.
- Me Before You – So what would happen if Sam Claflin (aka Finnick Odair from Catching Fire and Emilia Clarke (aka GoT’s Daenerys Targaryn) starred in a romantic drama that rivals The Notebook and P.S. I Love You? Ugly crying is what happens. I enjoy very few romances, and this one makes the list. Here’s the thing though: The film broaches end of life topics. Specifically, euthanasia. This has resulted in some backlash from the disabled community if you check out the online rhetoric, and understandably so if you feel that this film impacts the way people perceive that community. If that makes you uncomfortable, then pass on this one because it will upset you. However, if you can realign yourself to focus on the characters’ connection and specifically the wonky protagonist’s personal growth as she fumbles through the end of her coming of age, you will find some gems indeed. I laughed a lot. These two have genuine chemistry onscreen, which makes it that much more heartbreaking when the happy ending doesn’t come. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it though. Schedule your date night now!
Currently watching The Good Wife (Season 3 of 7)
- Hanabi (Card Game) – I don’t have a competitive bone in my body, so I’m especially fond of cooperative games. Hanabi was a fun card game I saved from the clearance section of Target. You and your fellow players work together to build a set of fireworks for the big show in time without blowing a fuse first, BUT you can’t look at your own cards. The game relies on a solid memory (and funny table talk when people forget) and communication strategy as you help others understand their hand. That said, its play time is about 25 minutes, so it’s not too much of a commitment for a say, a 4th of July barbecue or get together.
- Canva Learn – Last month I wrote about my all-time favorite design hacks for…well, everything. I am even more impressed because recently I discovered that they’ve added an education element to it! Wha????? #interrobang Canva Learn offers 30 tutorials that teach you how to use their platform, but more importantly great design basics including layouts, fonts, color, and it looks like more are to come. These learning modules are learn by doing, which is a great way to retain the knowledge for future use. As you complete each task or “lesson”, you are utilizing a template actually in the platform and if you get stuck THEN you can watch a video. This is not always how these kinds of lessons are distributed, so I’m really excited about this. I’m hoping there is something fun at the end if you finish the lessons, but if not, I may just use Canva to create my own certificate! Ha!
- White Noise – There is some research that suggests that white noise boosts your creativity and productivity when working. Of course, many of use also love the hum of a fan or tapping of rain to help us sleep as well. Lately, white noise has been the only way I can get myself to think. You know that feeling you have when you haven’t maybe read a traditional book in a long time and your eyes start jumping around the page the way they would on screen? Or you know when it’s the middle of the night and you start making lists and sublists in your mind of the things to remember for tomorrow? Well, white noise stops all of that for me in a way that a familiar tune cannot. There are all sorts of apps available for your phone with a quick search. My husband enjoys Meditation Music, which has a wide variety of sound combinations, and I have White Noise Generator by Relaxio on my phone, which I find more visually appealing in terms of usage. Noisli is the site I typically use at my desktop, and I am overjoyed to learn that they recently released a Chrome extension for it, which means it’s even easier to use! I despise technology that gets in the way. If you’ve never tried white noise. please do. For me, it is one step closer to sanity.