Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Five Favorite Albums of 2013

As the year comes to an end, I always love reflecting on all my favorite things:) Here are my five favorite albums of 2013! What are yours?!

1) Native - One Republic

Monday, October 21, 2013

Five Must Read Short Stories By Aimee Bender!

I recently discovered the beauty and magic of Aimee Bender's short stories. In my opinion, she is a very talented writer, and I would definitely recommend reading some of her work if you haven't already. Once I pick up one of her books, I find it really hard to set down! She wrote a bestselling novel called The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which I enjoyed, but I think I like her short story collections even better! In no particular order, I've listed my five personal favorite stories here at least from one ones I've read so far. If you've ever read her work, I'm curious as to what your favorites are too, so please feel free to add your comments below!

1) Death Watch (Willful Creatures)

"Ten men go to ten doctors. All the doctors tell all the men that they only have two weeks to live. Five men cry. Three men rage. One man smiles. The last man is silent, meditative. Okay, he says. He has no reaction..." This is how the story begins and ultimately the rest of the story expands on the basic idea that people can have very different reactions to the idea of their own death. Within a mere five or six pages, this story is filled with ironic and humorous twists as well as a few brilliant observations on the deeper meaning that often lies behind the simplest of our actions.

2) Tiger Mending (The Color Master)

This is a story about a girl who travels with her sister deep into Malaysia, after her sister was hired for a special job of mending injured tigers. The need to find out what it is exactly, that causes the tigers to need mending, leads to an unsettling discovery. There are some great sad-but-sorta-true quotes in the story including my two personal favorites:

"During the descent, she gave the doily to the man across the aisle, worried about his ailing son, and the needlework was so elegant it made him feel better just to hold it. That's the thing with handmade items. They still have the person's mark on them, and when you hold them, you feel less alone. That's why everyone who eats a Whopper leaves a little more depressed than they were when they came in."

"It is so often surprising, who rescues you at your lowest moment..."

3) The Meeting (Willful Creatures)

This is a story about meeting someone that is not the type of person you were looking for, yet still being irresistibly attracted to them for a reason that you cannot comprehend. "It is these empty spaces you have to watch out for," the story says, "as they flood up with feeling before you even realize what's happened; before you find yourself, at the base of her spine, different."

4) Fruit and Words (Willful Creatures)

This is a story about relationship troubles that lead a women to a magical discovery that seems wonderful at first but turns out to be horrible. I can't say for sure what Bender intended the story to mean, but to me, it's a great allegory for a rebound relationship. We often trade the dullness or troubles of one world, for a new discovery or person that first seems more amazing, magical, and liberating than anything we had hoped for, only to find out that what lies beneath the surface isn't quite as sweet.

5) The Case of the Salt and Pepper Shakers (Willful Creatures)

This is a story about a man that attempts to explain a murder mystery by considering the meaning behind a couple's collection of salt and pepper shakers. It's extremely clever!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Follow My Blog On Bloglovin!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Bloglovin lets you keep all your favorite blogs in one place. Add the blogs you want to follow and you'll get all of their new posts in a feed on Bloglovin! And yes, you can add any blog.

Monday, May 13, 2013

5 Of The Best Commencement Speeches of All Time

You don't have to be a recent graduate to be inspired by the best of the best commencement speeches. Here are five that are definitely worth listening to if you haven't already!

1. Neil Gaiman at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2012


2. Steve Jobs at Stanford in 2005


3. David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College in 2005


4. Mark Lewis at University of Texas Austin in 2000

5. JK Rowling at Harvard University in 2008


Monday, March 18, 2013

The True/False Quirkology Quiz That May Surprise You!

I recently finished reading the book Quirkology: How We Discover The Big Truth In Small Things by psychologist Richard Wiseman.

This book discusses numerous studies about often peculiar human behavior and certainly provides a lot of food for thought. I created a true/false quiz to share five points of the book that I found to be the most intriguing. How many can you get right? I hope you enjoy learning about these fascinating facts as much as I did!

The Questions!

1. True or False? Many seemingly supernatural or ghostly experiences are actually a result of low frequency sound waves.

2. True or False? Woman van drivers are less likely than others to take more than 10 items through the supermarket express lane.

3. True or False? People born in warmer months may be luckier than those born in the colder months.

4. True or False? The best way to detect a lie is to look rather than listen.

5. True or False? People would rather wear a shirt that has been dropped in dog feces and not washed than one that once belonged to a mass murderer.

The Answers!

1.  True or False? Many seemingly supernatural or ghostly experiences are actually a result of low frequency sound waves. True! Although these sound waves, referred to as "infrasound", cannot be heard by the human ear, they carry energy which may be capable or producing strange effects. Certain frequencies may cause distortion of vision, move objects, or cause weird flickering of a candle flame, all things that one might blame on a place being "haunted." Wiseman tested this theory by doing a study in which two concerts were performed in an auditorium that were identical except for the timing of infrasound waves, and then seeing how this effected how the audience felt about the music. As expected, the audience reported significantly more unusual experiences during the parts that incorporated the infrasound waves.

2.  True or False? Woman van drivers are less likely than others to take more than 10 items through the supermarket express lane. False! Women van drivers are not only the most likely to break the express lane rules, studies also suggest that they are more likely to speed, ignore stop signs, and park in prohibited areas.

3.  True or False? People born in warmer months may be luckier than those born in the colder months. True! Studies show the time of year that you are born may matter when it comes to luck. Also, in general, those with summer births appear to be bigger risk takers. The are various possibilities suggested for an effect most related to how the cold temperatures effect babies or the birth mothers. Although it's certainly fascinating how the temperature around the time of birth may effect one's future personality, the difference between the average luck and risk adversity of summer and winter babies is not extremely significantly and of course there are lots of exceptions. I, myself, was a November baby and I consider myself both lucky and an above average risk taker!

4.  True or False? The best way to detect a lie is to look rather than listen. False! What liars say can actually be more helpful when trying to determine if they are telling the truth. When lying, people tend to say less, give fewer details, and use personal adjectives such as "I" less than people that are telling the truth.

5.  True or False? People would rather wear a shirt that has been dropped in dog feces and not washed than one that once belonged to a mass murderer. True! The idea of wearing something that had once belonged
 to someone who personified evil appears to be more disturbing to most people, than the disgust and potential health concerns of wearing something that has touched dog feces.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I just had to share this beautiful passage from Rainer Maria Rilke's book, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Bridge. It almost made me cry.

"Ah! but verses amount to so little when one writes them young. One ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness a whole life long, and a long life if possible, and then, quite at the end, one might perhaps be able to write ten lines that were good. For verses are not, as people imagine, simply feelings (those one has early enough), —they are experiences. For the sake of a single verse, one must see many cities, men and things, one must know the animals, one must feel how the bids fly and know the gestures with which the little flowers open in the morning. One must be able to think back to roads in unknown regions, to unexpected meetings and partings one had long seen coming; to days of childhood that are still unexplained, to parents whom one had to hurt when they brought one some joy and one did not grasp it (it was a joy for someone else); to childhood illnesses that so strangely begin with such a number of profound and grave transformations, to days in rooms withdrawn and quiet and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along on high and flew with all the stars—and it is not yet enough if one may think of all of this. One must have memories of many nights of love, none of which was like the others, of the screams of women in labor, and of light, white, sleeping women in childbed, closing again. But one must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the window open and the fitful noises. And still it is not yet enough to have memories. One must be able to forget them when they are many and one must have the great patience to wait until they come again. For it is not yet the memories themselves. Not till they have turned to blood within us, to glance and gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves—not till then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them."


My Favorite Quotations From "Letters to a Young Poet"


“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”

"How can we forget that old myth, which is to be found at the beginning of all peoples-the myth of the dragon, which at the last moment changes into a princess? Perhaps all the dragons of your life are princesses, who are only waiting for us to show a little beauty and courage. Perhaps at the bottom of every horror is something helpless, that wants help from us."

"If it were possible for us to see a little further than our knowledge can reach, to see out a little farther over the outworks of our surmising, we should perhaps bear our griefs with greater confidence than our joys. For they are the moment when something new, something unknown enters into us."

"I believe that nearly all our griefs are moments of suspense, which we experience as paralysis, because we can no longer hear our estranged feeling living. Because we are alone with that foreign thing, which has entered into us; because everything in which we have confidence and to which we are accustomed is for a moment taken away from us; because we are in the midst of a state of transition, in which we cannot remain. The grief, too, passes.

"So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.”

"Rejoice in your growth, into which you can take no one with you, and be good to those who remain behind. Be assured and peaceful in their presence, do not torture them with your doubts and do not frighten them with your confidence or your joy, which they could not comprehend."

“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don't know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”

"And if we speak once more of loneliness, it becomes even clearer that that is not a thing which one can choose or reject. We are lonely. One can deceive oneself over and over and behave as if it were not so. That is all. But how much better it is to realize that we are lonely and candidly to make that realization our starting point."

"Avoid adding new material to that strained dram which-is ever played between parents and children. It uses up much of the children's strength and consumes the love of the parents, which is always active and warm, even if it does not understand."

"Men have already had to change their conceptions of many processes, and they will gradually come to realize that what we call fate comes out of human beings themselves and does not come upon them from without."

Friday, February 1, 2013

'Food For Thought' Friday! Joseph Campell On The Purpose Of Life

Today's food for thought is an excerpt from "Joseph Campbell - The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers" I love reading Joseph Campbell's work, and although I don't entirely agree with all of his viewpoints, it always gives me something to think about. This excerpt is from a PBS series (see following link below for more details) that featured a series of conversations between Campbell and journalist Bill Moyers. I hope you find it interesting!


MOYERS: So the experience of God is beyond description, but we feel compelled to try to describe it?

CAMPBELL: That’s right. Schopenhauer, in his splendid essay called "On an Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual," points out that when you reach an advanced age and look back over your lifetime, it can seem to have had a consistent order and plan, as though composed by some novelist. Events that when they occurred had seemed accidental and of little moment turn out to have been indispensable factors in the composition of a consistent plot. So who composed that plot? Schopenhauer suggests that just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself of which your consciousness is unaware, so, too, your whole life is composed by the will within you. And just as people whom you will have met apparently by mere chance became leading agents in the structuring of your life, so, too, will you have served unknowingly as an agent, giving meaning to the lives of others, The whole thing gears together like one big symphony, with everything unconsciously structuring everything else. And Schopenhauer concludes that it is as though our lives were the features of the one great dream of a single dreamer in which all the dream characters dream, too; so that everything links to everything else, moved by the one will to life which is the universal will in nature.

It’s a magnificent idea – an idea that appears in India in the mythic image of the Net of Indra, which is a net of gems, where at every crossing of one thread over another there is a gem reflecting all the other reflective gems. Everything arises in mutual relation to everything else, so you can’t blame anybody for anything. It is even as though there were a single intention behind it all, which always makes some kind of sense, though none of us knows what the sense might be, or has lived the life that he quite intended.

MOYERS: And yet we all have lived a life that had a purpose. Do you believe that?

CAMPBELL: Wait a minute. Just sheer life cannot be said to have a purpose, because look at all the different purposes it has all over the place. But each incarnation, you might say, has a potentiality, and the mission of life is to live that potentiality. How do you do it,’ My answer is, "Follow your bliss." There’s something inside you that knows when you’re in the center, that knows when you’re on the beam or off the beam, And if you get off the beam to earn money, you’ve lost your life. And if you stay in the center and don’t get any money, you still have your bliss.

MOYERS: I like the idea that it is not the destination that counts, it’s the journey.

CAMPBELL: Yes. As Karlfried Graf Durckheim says, "When you’re on a journey, and the end keeps getting further and further away, then you realize that the real end is the journey."

The Navaho have that wonderful image of what they call the pollen path. Pollen is the life source, The pollen path is the path to the center. The Navaho say, "Oh, beauty before me, beauty behind me, beauty to the right of me, beauty to the left of me, beauty above me, beauty below me, I’m on the pollen path,"

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Brilliant Speech By Marc. S. Lewis On What It Means To Be Successful

I recently stumbled upon a commencement speech by Marc S. Lewis given in 2000. I found it to be very inspiring and thought provoking and would encourage you to read the entire speech which can be found here: Below are three excerpts from the speech that I especially loved.

"There are times when you are going to do well, and times when you're going to fail. But neither the doing well, nor the failure is the measure of success. The measure of success is what you think about what you've done. Let me put that another way: The way to be happy is to like yourself and the way to like yourself is to do only things that make you proud."

"The way to be happy is to like yourself. That’s the real reason not to lie or cheat or turn away in fear. There’s that old joke, not very funny, that goes "no matter where you go, there you are." That’s true. The person who you’re with most in life is yourself and if you don’t like yourself you’re always with somebody you don’t like."

"...whatever strong belief you now hold about what it means to be successful, I hope you will stay open to the possibility that you’ve got it all wrong and graciously accept your new awareness when it comes, with gratitude and humility."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My 10 Favorite Martin Luther King Jr. Quotations

1. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

2. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

3. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

4. “Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase.”

5. “I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

6. “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

7. “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

8. “Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

9. “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

10. “As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation -- either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thought Of You

I already shared this short animated film by Ryan Woodward on my short films blog (Must See Shorts) but I wanted to share it here as well. It's just so beautiful, and mesmerizing, and I've always loved the song! The meaning is vague which I think just makes it more interesting. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

As One's Perspective Grows Do Things Mean Less?

I recently picked up a book by Karl Ove Knausgaard called "My Struggle." I started reading it, although once it started boring me I stopped, so unfortunately, I cannot recommend it, although some readers will undoubtedly find it to be magnificent. However, there were a couple lines in the beginning that really made me think.

Knausgaard says, "As your perspective of the world increases not only is the pain it inflicts on you less but also its meaning. Understanding the world requires you to take a certain distance from it."

Is this true? Can meaning and understanding be enemies of each other? Is this why sometimes it takes years after a relationship ends before you can really understand why everything happened the way it did? Is this why sometimes you don't realize how much you loved and depended on someone or something until after it is gone? Is this why the things we cherish the most are so often confusing and mysterious?

I don't know.

What do you think?


Friday, January 4, 2013

Inspirational "Make Good Art" Speech Turned Into Book

The "Make Good Art" commencement speech given by Neil Gaiman in 2012 has been made into a book! Find it on Amazon here. I think that is very cool! I absolutely loved the speech the first time I watched it online and will occasionally watch parts of it again for inspiration. If you haven't seen the speech, here's the video from youtube. I'd say it's a must watch video for aspiring artists!