Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best Cover Songs of 2015

Okay, this isn't on my usual roundup of "end of the year" posts, and my music posts tend to be the least popular, but I've seen a couple of other folks do this, and I wanted to chime in. So here are some really great cover songs that were put out this year.

10. Jessie J, Stay With Me (Sam Smith)

I absolutely love Jessie J and I love this song! She rocked this.

9. Michael Castro, Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran)

There were thousands of Ed Sheeran covers floating around the Internet, but Michael's soulful, raw cover really hit me.

8. Lennon and Maisy, Boom Clap (Charli XCX)

These lovely young ladies have more talent than I could ever dream of having.

7.  Sam Smith, Hotline Bling (Drake)

Only Sam Smith could take a Drake song and turn it into...well...this.

6. Ellie Goulding, Take Me To Church (Hozier)

Ellie is one of the most talented ladies in the game right now, and this cover was no different.

5. PostModern Jukebox Feat Haley Reinhart, Creep (Radiohead)

I love everything PMJ does, but this one was especially addicting.

4. I Prevail, Blank Space (Taylor Swift)

I'm not a typical punk music fan, but I can't tell you how many times I rocked out to this cover. It's fantastic.

3. Madison Lawrence, When We Were Young (Adele) 

Honestly I could have put all of Madison's covers on this list. She's mega talented. But since Adele is fresh on everyone's mind, do yourself a favor and listen to her latest cover.

2. Ryan Adams, This Love (Taylor Swift)

Ryan Adams covered Taylor's entire 1989 album. I love each track, but this one is really special.

1. Kelly Clarkson, Better Have My Money (Rihanna)

Kelly is the cover queen. She covers a song every night on her tour. I was slightly addicted to this one, though.

Let me know what you think of these, and if you have any to add to the list!

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 in lists.

It's time for my annual end of the year reflection! 2015 was pretty calm. I sort of just coasted through. I was focused on reaching my weight loss goal, work, family, and friends. For this review I decided to compile a few different lists. Usually I make a separate blog post for each of these, but this year it's an all for one kind of deal.

A few things you will never forget in 2015

  • Hitting the 100 lbs lost milestone
  • Living with Amy (and Ollie)
  • Completing the Fight for Air climb
  • Attending a live taping of American Idol
  • Landing a new position at the American cancer Society
  • Florida trip with the family
  • Becoming Luke's Godmother
  • Sam getting engaged and all the dress shopping and planning that went with it!
  • Traverse City trip with Tom
  • Meeting Kelly Clarkson
  • Girls trip Up North
  • Lynn passing away
  • Reaching my goal weight (total of 135 lbs lost)
  • Jonathon and Sara moving home
  • My trip to Nashville

Favorite Albums of 2015.

10. Twenty One Pilots, BlurryFace
                   Favorite Track: Doubt
9. David Cook, Digital Vein
                  Favorite Tack: I'm Gonna Love You
8. The Weekend, Beauty Behind Madness
                  Favorite Track: Dark Times (Featuring Ed Sheeran)

7. Sara Bareilles, Waitress
                 Favorite Track: You Matter To Me (Featuring Jason Mraz)

6. Drake, If You're Reading This It's Too Late
                 Favorite Track: Energy

5. Pentatonix, Pentatonix
                 Favorite Track: Cracked

4. Ellie Goulding, Delirium
                Favorite Track: Army

3. Ryan Adams, 1989
                 Favorite Track: This Love

2. Adele, 25
               Favorite Track: All I Ask

1. Kelly Clarkson, Piece by Piece
               Favorite Track: Second Wind

Favorite Tweets

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dear Nashville, (A Love Letter)

Dear Nashville;

It has been approximately five years and 8 months since we last spent some time together. I waved to you, briefly, as I drove past last year on my way to and from Florida, but those moments were brief and do not count.

Nashville, ever since we first met in 2007, you've brought out the best in me. I didn't know how great you would be until I experienced you for the first time. I remember my best friend Sam telling me stories of you, and she crowned you here "favorite city". I couldn't imagine what would be so great about a city known for country music. What I discovered is that you are so much more than that.

I can count only a few instances where I felt, in it's total essence, BRAVE. Of those few times, I was in Nashville for most of them. There's something about the crisp of the air, the bright lights, the guitar strums that make me feel invincible. You make me feel hopeful, courageous. You make me feel at home.

It helps, of course, that I've gathered with some of my very best friends in Nashville. I think of you fondly, because I think of them. I think of walking down the streets, getting lost in a packed car, dancing on tables, discovering breathtaking views, skipping through souvenir shops, cheering on my friends as they hit the pavement, hugs in airports, and laughter in hotel rooms. I think of all the friendships we built, the secrets we shared and the way we gently encourage each other to be the best version of ourselves. I think of all of that, and I think of you, with immense glee.

For so long I thought that you and I could be together, forever. I was so comfortable, brave, and determined with you. I wanted to make you my permanent home. But as brave as I was, I was too afraid to make the leap. That might make some people sad...and for a while, I was. I still wonder what life would have been like if I had made my way to you. Maybe someday, I will find out.

But for now, I'm just visiting. I'm packing my bags and in just two days I'm heading to see you again, nearly six years later. I'll be reunited with some of those very special people who I've shared so many wonderful memories with in your city. We will, again, stand together in love, courage, and embrace each other for who we are.

And I, my dear Nashville, promise to take it all in. I will breathe your air, hear your sounds and walk your streets. I will capture it all and hold it close to my heart, where you will always be.

See you soon.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Pictures, Books, and Food.

Editors Note: I'm sort of half following #reverb15. I like the prompts that Sarah  and  Kay have provided so far. Check out their blogs if you want to play along....

Today I am grouping together the last three prompts that have been provided to share with you my favorite photo of 2015, my favorite book that I read, and my favorite meal!

I quickly scrolled through my Facebook photos to find my favorite picture for 2015. I had such a hard time deciding which one to choose! I'm going to cheat and share with you some that were in the running.

Do you see why I had such a hard time? There are some really great moments captured here! But the picture I chose is.

This is a picture of my family during our vacation in Florida. I love that this picture captured our giant smiles. We were all so genuinely happy to be on that trip, together. I have nothing but love for each member of my family, including Dave and Sara. This picture has been my "cover photo" on Facebook ever since this trip because it represents that my family is my number one priority. I love these people!

Moving from pictures and moments to books, I'll next share my favorite book that I read in 2015:

Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

I. LOVE. Mindy. Kaling. I read her first book before I even really knew who she was. I read that first book in one day, and then proceeded to watch the entire first season of The Mindy Project in one weekend. And the rest is history. I love Mindy's honesty, compassion, quirkiness and humor. Her second book, Why Not Me? is a true gem, and I enjoyed it even more than her first. It's equally funny as it is inspiring. Her raw writing makes you want to be her best friend. I highly recommend reading this one!

And now for the last prompt: My favorite meal of 2015. 

I did a brain scan to try and think of all the cool places Tom and I went to eat this year. I thought of the pizza pot pie that we ate in Chicago, but that was in December 2014. But man, that thing deserves some recognition. 

Okay, I've got to give this one to Ronin Sushi in Royal Oak. It was the best sushi I've had to date. I find myself dreaming of that sushi. I know, totally lame, But it's as good as everyone says it is, I promise. 

So there's a quick look into some of my favorite things in 2015. More to come as I continue to follow along with #reverb15 !

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Endurance and Engage.

Encapsulate your 2015 in one word. Why that word?

What would you like your word to be for 2016? Why?

I thought long and hard about this, folks. I had an hour and a half commute to a meeting today, and I spent the entire duration of the drive, there and back, thinking about my 2015 and what word I would use to describe it. 

The word I finally settled on? Endurance.

There's a reason I chose this word over similar words like perseverance or resilience. For most of my life, I absolutely hated running, in any form. I remember having to do the mile run in 7th grade and I was near tears. My good pal at the time told me to pretend like there was a sale at the Gap at the finish line. That didn't work. I was the last student to finish. I remember telling my friend "I just don't have any endurance!". That mindset stuck with me for several years. Not just in regards to running, although I did continue to "fail" at that through my high school sports, but in several aspects of my life. 

2015 was the opposite of that. One definition of endurance is:

the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina:

I relate this definition to my weight loss journey. I started 2015 off on a good note. I was already down about 90 lbs. There was no turning back. But I made damn sure of that. I didn't quit, no matter how frustrated I was with a weight loss plateau. I put one foot in front of the other, and I kept going. 

I also took a new position in 2015. I had so many doubts about even applying for the position. I doubted if I was "good enough" for it. I was terrified of failing. But something kept bringing me back to it. I applied and got the position. I absolutely love what I do, but it is certainly not easy. There are challenges and surprises and changes each day. I have two choices: I could let it overwhelm me, or I could on, and keep going. And that is what I have chosen to do. 

Here are some ways I believe I have embraced "endurance" in 2015:

I practice visualization in nearly everything I do. When I am running I imagine the end of the run, or I recall past accomplishments to help keep me going. When I am boxing I imagine being in a ring. When I am in a meeting I visualize myself speaking up with confidence, which then, in turn, gives me the confidence to speak up. Taking the time to visualize has been incredibly beneficial to my life.

I don't think I would have had the same endurance if I had not planned so accordingly. I plan my meals and my workouts, I plan my meeting schedule and my office time. I even plan my "down time". I realize this may not work for everyone, but for me, in order to feel at peace and accomplished, I need to plan.

Taking Care of Me
Obviously being healthier and more active have helped me to have more energy and tackle life's challenges in a healthier way, but I also take care of myself by sleeping more, taking breaks from working out when my body aches, doing more yoga/stretching, etc. 

Endurance does not come easy, but it is something we can all achieve. It takes focus, hard work, and a little self discovery. If I could go back and talk to the 7th grade version of me who did not believe she had enough endurance, I would tell her she's wrong. She had it, she just didn't know she had it. 

As far as 2016 goes, I've chosen the word ENGAGE. And no, I'm not talking about Tom putting a ring on it. I mean to truly engage in the world around me. I'm certainly not going to lose focus or my drive, but in the midst of putting so much focus on my weight loss, I sort of forgot how to just be present. But it's more than being present and just "being" and appreciating life. It's about engaging, having meaningful experiences and conversations. It's about putting my phone away sometimes and talking to the people in the room. It's about calling up old friends to check in. It's about noticing the beautiful things in life as I run by them. I also tend to focus too much on what's next for me instead of enjoying, and engaging, in the current life. I'm aiming to do that in 2016.