Sunday, April 28, 2019

VOICE | 12 of My Favorite Songs in 2019 (So Far)

It would be kind of ridiculous to write about this month's theme (VOICE) without mentioning music. I actually don't talk about music on the blog as much as I'd like to, which is kind of odd considering my blog name. But for those of you who don't know, I am capital-o Obsessed with music and am always looking for new songs, albums and artists to add to my playlist. Here are some of the songs I've loved in 2019. Keep in mind these are songs that weren't necessarily released this year but that I've adored anyway.

Aesthetic: Floating gently to the bottom of the sea as the sun reflects off the water.

Why this song: Ok, so maybe I was initially a little late to the Billie Eilish party, but now that I'm here, WOW, my dudes. I love Billie's full-length LP (honestly all of those songs are the jam), but this one in particular is so hauntingly beautiful. Her voice is so young, pure, and innocent, but coupled with genuine pain and heartfelt lyrics. Love the layered vocals towards the end of the song. So sad and beautiful, I DIG.

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Aesthetic: Parading around your living room in a full black cloak for sheer theatrics; background music for reading Edgar Allan Poe.

Why this song: Why not this song? It's ridiculously short, sweepingly dramatic, beautifully breathtaking and an absolute gem of a track that easily takes the cake as my favorite song by this band. It's Queen, of course (read: maximum drama), but somehow more pleading and soft than anything I've heard from them. I went out and bought the full album on vinyl the other day just so I could listen to this track.

Aesthetic: Foot-stomping your way down a woodland path in the park, as the sun dapples down and your spirit soars at the joys of living (WOW what are my words today).

Why this song: My sister and I saw Hozier in concert this year, and before that night, I hadn't heard this particular track from his new album, but OH MAN. His raw vocals (and stellar background singers) on that killer chorus make this one an instant favorite. Worth a listen, or twelve. DANG IT ANDREW HOZIER-BYRNE. Be right back, just going to be scream-singing this one for the rest of all eternity. 

Aesthetic: You're literally these two from Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, and you're going on adventures, darn it.

Why this song: It's Miike Snow but with a sort of whimsical twist. I love the playful keys and the whistling, and the marching-band style drums give it a youthful feel. It's cute, very summery, and simple enough to sing along to after literally one listen.

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Aesthetic: Breathless declaration of identity while gently swaying from side to side.

Why this song: I usually don't listen to a ton of worship music (which I'd actually like to change), but I heard this song at a Bible study and WOW, the lyrics and powerful vocals just move me. I have sung this song at the top of my lungs more times than I can count, just leaning into the promises of God. Love the live recording because it feels like there's a whole stadium of people singing with me. Also, the song just keeps gives you time to let the lyrics wash over you. 

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Aesthetic: Leaving town with only a suitcase to your name and a long woodland drive ahead of you.

Why this song: I can't even begin to describe how much the Lumineers' music affects me. It's relatively simple and often acoustic, but there's an urgency to it, and the raw vocals from their lead singer are like a wound. He believes every word he sings, you can tell. Those keys towards the end of the song also have my heart. Eagerly awaiting the third record.

What about you?

What are some of your favorite songs this year, my dudes? I look forward to hearing your recommendations! So far 2019 has been a wonderful year for music.

Miss the last VOICE post? Check it out here.
Or click here to read all of the posts in the VOICE series.
Looking forward to announcing a new theme very soon!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

VOICE | It's Not Too Late: Don't Let Perfectionism Stifle Your Words

On Tuesday, I sat down with a woman I'd never met before and listened as she told me stories about places and faces half a world away. I was interviewing her for a podcast series at my job, but we talked about so much more than the questions on my list. In that hour, she taught me about perseverance, how you've got to continue to move forward even when your spirit is crushed, how you must keep on using your VOICE even when it feels like you're shouting into the void.

When I meet people like that, it just lights something up inside of me.

I couldn't help but think of this space, and my own little assortment of words. I thought about all that I want it to be, and how I want it to matter, even if it's not there yet. That's been something that's been stewing on my mind for a while - blogging (or just writing in general) and perfectionism. It's something some of you have shared that you struggle with, too. It's the post I've been trying to write as I sit in coffee shops, but, ironically, it never comes out sounding right.

It's taken some time, but I'm realizing that my fear of not having the perfect words (or the perfect blog) shouldn't be enough to stifle my VOICE.

To you worrying if your novel is good enough, if you should just quit writing, if your blog is pointless, or if your VOICE even matters: It does. You do. Just the other day I was thinking about how intricate the world is, how there are so many of us on Earth, but how each one of us has a personal impact. Only you know the people you know, and only you can reach them. When your best friend calls you crying or your sister has a panic attack, they are not looking for Perfect Words. They just need you, your true and authentic self.

Often I think that the biggest blessing comes when we have doubts,
but we write the thing anyway.

When we share our VOICE in a post or a text. When we write the book even as our hands tremble. When we take a step of faith and believe in ourselves and hit that big orange Publish button. I think often times there is opposition and difficulty in getting that message into the world simply because someone out there needs it. Even if it's you.

So that's what this is.

April, all of it. The VOICE theme. It's refusing to give up even when it feels like I don't have the pretty words or motivation to keep bringing words into this space. It's waking up and writing my novel and having a good laugh at what I wrote even thought it's just me and the word doc. It's forgetting about page views and just pouring out my heart. It's believing that the Lord gave me the love of writing for a reason and that it's never too late to Do the Thing. And it's not too late for you, either.

What about you?

What has been holding you back from sharing your VOICE? What would you write and say and do if you were completely unafraid? Wishing you a wonderful Easter, my dudes.

Miss the last VOICE post? Check it out here.
Or click here to read all of the posts in the VOICE series.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

VOICE | Finding Peace in All the Noise

"Hey, God has you." 

It's the short text sent from an Asheville airport that finds me in an exhale. My father, hundreds of miles away and experiencing anxiety of his own, sends the text anyway.

God has you.

When circumstances change or our emotions run rampant, it can be hard to find peace. When demanding deadlines and confusing questions fill our days, it can be difficult to slow down enough to remember Who is behind it all, weaving beauty into our lives and sprinkling little joys throughout our days. Butterflies and birds soaring and someone sharing cake in the break room. A bouquet of carnations and a Switchfoot song to sing at the top of your lungs.

I went for a walk in the woods this week to get away from the noise.
To be present in nature, even if just for a little while.

This week, the Lord has been whispering to me about peace: "Trust in Me. I've got you." I'm learning that I don't need to know what lies ahead and that when my own anxious thoughts try to solve everything and see the end of my story when I'm still at the start, there is One who speaks to me in a soft VOICE.
He tells me to take it one day at a time.

I want to put this VOICE first. Sometimes it can be hard to hear Him, when I'm so focused on my own thoughts, the blare of social media, the magazines I read, the lyrics I listen to.

I need to carve out more quiet spaces devoid of technology,
media and other people to really hear Him.

I'm not there yet, but I'm on my way. And in case you were wondering, or maybe in the midst of it all you've found you've forgotten: Hey, God has you.

What about you?

What do you do to unplug from the craziness and spend quiet time with God?
Any tips for taking time away from technology (it's such a distraction)!
Hope you all are having a wonderful April.

Miss last week's VOICE post? Check it out here.
Or click here to read all of the posts in the VOICE series.
Talk to you soon!

Monday, April 1, 2019

VOICE | Hello, April: Introducing a New Theme

If March was a month of taking a step back from writing to focus on the ESSENTIALS of life, then I want April to be filled with words.

Words, loads of them, rough draft sentences or polished phrases, I want them all. This month, I don't want to let my focus shift to perfectionism and hold me back from actually Writing the Things. My words may not be perfect every time, or even some of the time, but they're still my words, and I'd rather write them and express them then keep them neatly folded into unread pages and unpublished drafts.

So: I am hitting publish on this post in hopes that declaring April as a writing month will inspire me to follow through and make it work!

The theme for this month is VOICE. With my April posts, I want to celebrate everything expression, whether that takes the form of music or writing or speaking words of encouragement into someone's life. More to come soon, but for now, enjoy your April, hug a friend, and remember to go outside and sit in the sunshine for a bit, because that can do wonders for the soul.

What about you?

What are you looking forward to in April - any special goals? The picture up above was from the Hozier concert, by the way, which was EPIC, my word! P.S. If you have any post ideas you'd like me to write up this month, I'd love to hear them. Until next time, friends!