In defense of the radio.

In defense of the radio

“Does anyone even listen to the radio anymore?” asked my literature professor abruptly mid-lecture. This came right after a lengthy lecture about how historically technological advances in media helped to shape the type of content we create. Yes, I have a class almost entirely devoted to gramophone and typewriter analysis. Oh, college.

“No, I don’t mean listening to Spotify on your phone or whatever,” he said. “I mean the actual radio.”

My hand tentatively rose, followed by a couple of other kids’. Thankfully, I’m not the only one evidently still living in the 20th century.

Radios are actually pretty great.  While driving, I enjoy the mindlessness of listening to a pop station on the radio during their hour of non-stop music.  No needing to decide which song, no needing to choose a Pandora station, no needing to mess with an aux cord.

I also really like how listening to alternative stations allows you to discover new music likes and dislikes. Plus listening to the alt rock on a massive ancient boombox in your room makes you feel cool, even if you have no idea who the artists are or what that little compartment with all the buttons is on the front.  Kidding, I know what a cassette player is.  No iPhone speaker can compare to a boombox from the 1990s.

It’s not only about the music though. My favorite memories of junior year were when my dad would drive my sister and I to class early Monday mornings.  Traffic inched along, and we’d always listen to a sports talk radio program that discussed the Falcons game from the day before.  My sister and I were bleary-eyed and dreading class and hoping Dad wouldn’t ask us about boys for the millionth time on commercial break, but listening to that one caller rant about one ref call or another was such an oddly satisfying morning ritual.  680 The Fan was *our* program.

None of these random little slices of happiness would have been possible without broadcast radio.

I’m beginning to think the point of this post isn’t so much in defense of the radio, but in defense of your lit class.  The pretentious, heady, lit class class that assigns 60+ pages of readings a day on topics that you will use approximately zero times in your future career.

I maybe just wasted seven or eight hours this week studying for the class and then sitting in lecture, and now another couple hours on this post. But is time spent appreciating something in your life that you never thought to appreciate before actually “wasting” it?

To all my friends out there who are also in their first months of classes –

Hang in there.

Listening to the radio or something is a great stress-reliever, I’ve heard.


Opening image source: Eric Nopanen on Unsplash

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When you don’t feel good enough…

B(M)I Week

Why am I tagging all my posts this week “B(M)I Week,” you might ask.  It’s because after sharing all about what I eat, what I read, dieting in general, and how I view myself, I’ve come to some conclusions.

There are hundreds of conflicting voices both inside your head and out in the world, trying to tell you ultimately what is healthy.  Personally, I’m convinced that how you view yourself mentally is far more important than focusing on the numbers on the scale.  Body Image (B.I.) trumps body mass index (BMI). Get it? I don’t know, I thought it was cool. (;

This will be the last post on this topic, but I wanted to leave you with some practical advice on how to deal with those unavoidable voices.

I’m no expert, so I reached out to some of the coolest girls on the internet and asked, what is your top piece of advice to girls who are bombarded by negativity in the media, girls who feel like they need to be skinny/in shape/xyz in order to be good enough? 

Daniell

1. Focus on the intention behind behaviors

I originally found Daniell through this pinterest quote which really resonated with me for some reason.  Since stumbling upon the quote, I’ve discovered her blog called the Internal Acceptance Movement.  She’s such a powerful writer and graciously shared tons of practical advice, ranging from realizing that happiness isn’t tied to body size (hello celebrities) to talking back to negative thoughts.

“My best advice would be to focus on the intention behind behaviors. For example, there’s a difference between exercising to feel good and just move your body or have fun, versus exercising to lose weight/ become smaller/ fit into a certain size or dress. I would say that the former is healthy and rooted in self-acceptance, while the latter is more disordered and rooted in feelings of inadequacy,” said Daniell.

Another of her ideas is to think of something you would say to a discouraged friend struggling with their body image.  Then, turn around and apply those words to yourself. “If you would extend that kindness to a friend and someone you love, you deserve it too,” she said.

Emilee

2. You don’t need to look a certain way to have worth

This wise piece of advice is from Emilee, editor of Anointed magazine, and personal friend.  It’s one of those things that’s easy to say but hard to fully accept since it’s rather counter-cultural. “Society tells us that being a certain dress size and a certain number on a scale will make us feel better about our self-worth,” said Emilee.

“Your worth is not determined by your weight. My doctor was actually the person who told me that when I was upset because I wasn’t losing weight. She told me that my weight is not a measure of my worth. Your value isn’t measured by a number on a scale.”

I was encouraged to hear the same message coming from a doctor, someone whose job it is to make sure you are physically healthy when it comes to weight.  Physical and mental health are definitely intertwined.

Alexa

3. Consciously seek out good

Alexa works for Brighten, an app that allows friends to send each other anonymous compliments.  Media is a big part of the push to look/act/be a certain way, but Brighten is a pretty genius social outlet that does the opposite – it allows people to compliment each other for who they are. Totally not sponsored; I’m just a bit in love with the idea.

“If we live our lives accepting the media we consume as fact, we have no choice but to assume that the world is bad. But it’s not,” said Alexa. “There’s two sides to every coin. There’s a silver lining in every situation. When the media shows you the bad, it’s up to you to seek out the good. It’s always there, sometimes you just have to search a little harder to find it.”

Grace

4. Your worth is not measured in what the scale says

Grace writes a blog as a part of the Enough Movement. As Christians especially, we have something to fall back on when we aren’t feeling like we are good enough. “The beautiful thing about God is your worth is not measured in what the scale says or what guys think of your body,” Grace said.

“God could care less if you have abs, and does not care if your boobs are a DD. God gave us hands, feet, and a body to worship Him. Our bodies are not meant to be idols, and worshiped by ourselves and guys. To the girl who thinks her worth is measured in her body–there is good news for you, it is not. Your worth comes from the Lord the one who says ‘come as you are’.”

I’m so thankful to Grace and everyone else who shared their motivation for knowing they can be enough.

 


In the end, there’s a balance being the healthiest you can be while still accepting yourself for who you are.  It’s a daily struggle for me, but it probably is for everyone else as well. My hope is that some of these ideas encouraged you.  

As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments! I so enjoy hearing what you have to say. 

Stay lovely,

Lane

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6 Healthy Snacks to Try

So if you’ve been reading along with the B(M)I week posts, you’ll remember that a few months ago I tried to start eating a bit healthier.  You can read more about the week-long series and what inspired me to start eating healthy here (not a super good reason, but hey! I like carrots and salad and black coffee now!).

Annnnyway, I don’t consider myself an expert on healthy eating by any means, but it’s been fun getting creative and trying out some different snacks and lunches. Here are some favorites!

Sweet Potato

1. Sweet potatoes

You can slice and bake them for sweet potato fries, stir fry them and eat it with an egg (I promise it actually tastes amazing – if you want to get fancy, try this recipe), or just bake them and eat with cinnamon.

2. Smoothies or cold oatmeal

There are so many recipes that basically combine yogurt and fruit and granola and chia seeds in magical ways.  I like this recipe...scroll down for carrot cake flavored overnight oats. A chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie is also super easy and yummy and not at all healthy seeming. Heh.  Or a mango smoothie?!

Wrap

3. Hummus

My favorite way to eat this is either with carrots as a dip, or on a wrap (tortilla, hummus, veggies, and dried cranberries).

4. Nuts or Chickpeas

Gotta get in the protein somehow. I like toasting walnuts with a chili pepper and sugar blend. Sometimes I also make a scaled-down trail mix by just buying a container of mixed nuts and adding raisins to it.

5. Fruit!

Banana and peanut butter. Apples and peanut butter. Or apples and string cheese. Or just a plain orange. Many options!

Salad

6. Salad

Maybe a bit odd to eat as a snack, but still super yummy.  You can add things like edamame for protein, halved grapes or strawberries for a fruit, and feta or cilantro to mix things up. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll use balsamic vinegar and olive oil in lieu of dressing.

 


On Sunday I’ll have one more post to wrap this series up. But in the meantime, I hope you found some new ideas. What snacks do you enjoy?

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Book Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

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If we’re honest, media is a big part of how we view ourselves.  Maybe that’s why I like reading so much. For me at least, reading is a lot less influencing when it comes to appearance compared to something like scrolling Instagram.  I like that. I can always get on social media to check up on what people are wearing or doing, but books allow me to get inside characters’ heads. Only Ever Yours mixed things up though – a YA dystopian novel that takes place in a very appearance-focused Barbie world. Based on the synopsis, I was intrigued.

A lot has changed in the years between modern day and the society of Only Ever Yours.  For starters, girls aren’t even born any more.  They’re genetically manufactured to be gorgeous, perfect, and all almost identical.  The girls, called “eves”, spend their childhood getting ranked by their looks, isolated from the outside world in “School.” This is the life of Frieda and her friends, and this will be their entire lives until they turn seventeen and are assigned one of three jobs in the outside world. They could become teachers to younger eves, concubines, or wives (also known as “companions”) of wealthy men in the society. In order to achieve the sought-after position of companion, the man has to choose the eve at graduation.

Pros: The futuristic setting was eerily well-portrayed. Details like social media, nutrition info, and even the way names are capitalized both mirror and mock current society.

Cons: This was a hard book to read. It wasn’t necessarily boring, but every part of me was mad at what was going on. The book deals with things like eating disorders, sex slavery, and general cattiness. That was rough, but I expected it to some degree based on the synopsis. I kept reading because it seemed that it will build to some sort of satisfying resolution. Maybe the society would crumble, and appearance wouldn’t be all that mattered after all.

!!!Spoiler alert!!!

That doesn’t end up happening.

In the end the guy chooses the cute girl. Oh, and then the intelligent, not-chosen girls kill themselves. Lovely.  What kind of message is the novel trying to send? That sex appeal is all that matters and rejection is grounds for suicide? For a book that claims to be girl-empowering, it seemed depressing, and for me personally, almost sickening.

Sorry Louise O’Neill, but I don’t believe in portraying a dark world just for the sake of being thought-provoking.  In order to be enjoyable, a novel has to have some hint of hope. Since reading Only Ever Yours, I’ve been thinking hard about books that explore grittier subject matters like body image and eating disorders but include redemption.

Here are two I recommend: Popular: A Memoir by Maya Van Wagenen and How It Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes.  Both explore those topics with grace and humor, and I thoroughly enjoyed them…maybe I should just stop ranting and review those instead. (:

Best of luck on your health journey, whether that’s with food, body image, or a stack of books!

 


This is the second post in a week-long series on food, diet, body image, all that good stuff.  You can check out the first post here, and I hope you’ll join the conversation. Do you know any good books or articles to recommend?

Stay lovely,

Lane

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I Didn’t Do Whole30.

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Eat less sugar. Carbs are evil. But eat whole grains! Eat veggies! Eat less. Eat more. Fats can be healthy, bring on the guac. Avoid fat at all costs. Please only eat organic coconut oil and flax seed.  Life is short though, and ice cream makes you happy.  Love your body. But you need a flat stomach. Above all, don’t stress about dieting…you are what you eat as the old saying goes!

Ahhhhhh.

Diet is a scary word.

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All last summer I worked as an outdoor overnight camp counselor. I probably burned a ton of calories, but was constantly starving at the end of every day. And then I proceeded to take a two week trip-of-a-lifetime to Italy where I consumed pasta and pizza and gelato and bread every single night.  I’m not fat. I’m fairly tall, and growing up I got all the “you’re so skinny” “you’re all legs” comments.  After the summer though, I just wanted to lose five pounds.  Coming off of the Italian carb frenzy, I figured changing my food habits was probably the way to do it.

I get where the hate for the word diet comes from. Even just typing it makes me feel all squirmy and guilty and vaguely mom-ish. The trend these days is more towards “choices” and “lifestyle” food changes, which is where Whole30 comes in.

If you aren’t familiar, Whole30 is a program where you follow strict guidelines on eating only super nutritious food for 30 days, absolutely no cheating or you have to start over. No sugar/honey/syrup/stevia, dairy, tree nuts, grains or rice or wheat. Basically just tons of fruit, veggies, and meat. The program claims to reset your nutrition, and people rave about how you fill up so fast and stop craving dessert and carbs all the time (was this for real?!).

The problem is, I’m a teenager. I’m lucky enough to be a part of a family where we eat together almost every night, and my mom does most of the cooking. I couldn’t alter the entire family’s way of doing meals. Plus, having to be so high-maintenance when going to a friend’s house, eating out, or babysitting wasn’t worth it. And health food is expensive!  So last September I attempted to modify the plan and did my own pseudo-Whole30 less intense diet thing.

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The plan.

Basically I made up a several rules for myself in an attempt to eat healthier. I’m not going to list them all because

a) I am not a nutritionist

b) Dieting is very subjective as you already know from reading the first paragraph of this blog post slash novel

and c) Spoiler alert, I don’t recommend what I did.

But just think of a list of foods you’d consider unhealthy, and I didn’t allow myself to eat any of them no exceptions, and you get the idea. My birthday was in a little over 3 weeks, and I knew I’d want to eat cake and ice cream then, so I decided to keep it until my birthday dinner and then see how it went. 25 days couldn’t be that difficult, right?

Enacting it.

The results really were a mixed bag.  The diet forced me to get creative and try a lot more healthy foods, especially to snack on. Eating healthier, even with little changes, takes time. The ten minutes it takes to make a smoothie or cut up a sweet potato add up. The extra steps became worth it though, because within a few weeks I was sort of craving the healthier food.  I’m not sure why, but anything to make salads and carrots with hummus appealing, right? And I learned to drink black coffee, which has always been a goal of mine!

Passing up certain foods was difficult, especially at social gatherings.  I survived by finding alternatives I enjoyed, like watermelon or a mug of tea. That makes me sound really lame. I guess I was lame for eating a ton of watermelon at that one party, but it was my prerogative and 25 days isn’t forever.

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Takeaways.

From a purely food-focused standpoint, I’d consider my foray into the dieting world a positive experience. I did eat healthier for those 25 days and during the months since.

So why am I not 100% on board?

The food plan reinforced the pattern of constantly thinking about nutrition facts and weight.  While trying out a Whole30ish diet, I was consistently thinking about what I was eating or what I would be eating. Mentally, it was not a healthy experience.

My birthday apple crisp and vanilla ice cream shouldn’t be thought of as “400ish extra calories and a lot of sugar”. It should be remembered as the dessert that my mom baked for me and I enjoyed with my friends on my birthday.  I should be appreciating lunch at a friends house rather than fixating on the grams of fat I’m eating in the pizza they’re serving. While awareness is a good thing, a fixation on numbers can’t be healthy.

As in everything, eating healthy is a tricky a balance. I’m still searching for the happy medium, but in the meantime I’m going to try to enjoy my strawberry salad as much as possible…and maybe a doughnut every now and again too.


I’m not even pretending to have all this figured out.  Dieting and fitness and body image are all rather awkward and controversial topics , but I’d like to open the conversation up for the week.

I have a few more posts in this vein for this series, and then I’m planning on going back to normal, sporadic creative lifestyle posts. So if this isn’t your thing, I get it.  

That being said, if you’re still reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts on any and all of it. How do you balance “healthy” – nutritionally but also mentally/body image-wise? 

Stay lovely,

Lane

B(M)I Week

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Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Image result for mr penumbra's 24 hour bookstore

“Why does the typical adventuring group consist of a wizard, a warrior, and a rogue, anyway? It should really be a wizard, a warrior, and a rich guy. Otherwise who’s going to pay for all the swords and spells and hotel rooms?”


 

Clay Jannon would do anything to get a job in modern-day San Francisco – anything including working the night shift at a dusty bookstore that’s open 24/7. His background is in web design, but at least he read one fantasy series when he was younger, so maybe he’s qualified? The towering shelves of the store are filled with incomprehensible books, the customers are eccentric, and the epic adventure the bookstore introduces is, well, just plain strange.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is one of the most weirdly well-crafted novels I’ve read in a while.  I hesitated at first since I’m not really into fantasy, and the synopsis seemed a bit too magic-y for me. I’ll take the high drama of everyday life over epic dramas of crusaders in far off lands any day, thank you. I don’t know why. However, this book pleasantly surprised me.

The novel sort of reminds you of Harry Potter in how it’s a hodgepodge of the realistic with the fantastic. Technological computer savvy “magic” is mixed up with old…enchanted?…paper books.  If that sounds confusing, don’t worry. The character who narrates the story, Clay, is not entirely sure of what’s going on either. Beyond the brilliant plot line, Robin Sloan’s humorous writing style makes the book stand out. The characters would be off solving this complex mystery about a historical book club that revolves around a certain font, and then boom. The author throws in something like a side character who built his career on simulated boobs. Immature? Maybe. But admittedly still funny.

On top of the quirkiness, the novel communicates an interesting message as readers follow the characters on their journey.  As we see, the modern-day era gives access to so many different tools to solve problems. Technology, internet servers, books new and old, your friend network, etc.  That doesn’t mean that one method should be championed above the other though. Probably the answer to the problem to be solved isn’t even of eternal significance anyways.  These ideas are pretty counter-cultural in an era with so many voices saying things like “the internet is ruining culture” or “books are becoming obsolete.”

Even if you aren’t a nerd like me and don’t even care about subliminal themes, you should still read it. At the least, it’s entertaining.

Recommended to: students, adults, anyone looking for a smart but fun read.

Happy reading. (:

 

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How I Edit My Photos (without photoshop)

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Between the blog pictures, pictures from my trip to Europe, and random iPhone Instagram pics, I have a lot of photographs.  I tend to think of blogging as writing, but honestly the visual side of creating a website is much more time consuming. I wish there was an Instagram filter method of editing all my photos in a snap, or that I had the time/money to invest in some Photoshop and lightroom skills.  Since that isn’t happening, I use the default program is already installed on my laptop, Windows Photo Gallery.  Here’s how I edit my photos to give them a bit more of that wow factor.

austria-original

Here’s a picture I took on my iPhone this past summer.  First, I upload it, or if I’m feeling lazy, I’ll just email it to myself and download it on my computer that way.  Then I go into file explorer and hit “open in photo gallery”, then “edit, organize, and share”. This will be different depending on what computer you have, but mine is an HP laptop that uses windows.

austria-1

There you go. Open up the picture you want, and go ahead and hit “fine tune” in the upper middle toolbar.  You’ll have the option to adjust exposure, color, straighten photo, and adjust detail.

The next steps will really be up to your taste. I’m sure I’m making the photographers reading this cringe, because I have absolutely no idea what all of these buttons mean technically. I just like the look they create, so I guess it works for me!

The first thing I do usually is increase the brightness and contrast to make photos pop. Brightness is probably the single most difference maker in photos.

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You can also fiddle with the shadows and highlights dial to create different types of depths in your photos. See the differences in whether the town (shadowed) or sky (highlighted) stand out?  You can also adjust the histogram if you want an even more dramatic depth difference.  Different photos will do well with different amounts, but my preference is low shadow, high highlight for greater contrast.

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The last step I do is to adjust the color.  Color temperature tells whether you want more of a warm or cool tone to your picture.  Most often I adjust it to the right to make it warmer, but lately I’ve been favoring the cool tones as well. Maybe it’s a winter thing?  You can also up the saturation if you want a vivid, colorful photo. I usually ignore tint unless I really need to adjust the colors, simply because only a little adjustment of the tint and your photo can end up looking super green or pink.austria-4

Here’s how the photo progressed as I fine-tuned. Of course the version you like best is subjective. But now you know how to make it look how you want, and with practice it gets faster!

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This only takes a minute or two, and I really love seeing the difference.  Who needs photoshop when you can cheat? (: Hope this helps someone out!

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