The winners were all announced LIVE but if you missed it here is a replay that you can watch as often as you need a positive and uplifting message.
I also forgot to mention this but you can connect with Oscar
Poetry has always struck a chord with me. I was a poet before I became a novelist but it is rare among all of today’s modern poets that poetry strikes both a chord and a nerve.
Yet, Mike Mac’s poetry did just that like a strum of guitar chords among a thumping bass, it reads like a musical accompaniment any person may need to dance in the key of life.
I was asked to read this book for an honest review and am glad I took the leap and the chance to do so.
His topics range from love and relationships to powerful poetic statements.
Some of my favorites are below.
Purchase this and Mike Mac’s other poetry collection here
Authors Dale Curd and Kimberly Alexander authors of Living Lightly were nice enough to take some time out to virtually answer these interview questions so grab a cup of espresso and enjoy!
The Smart Cookie: Hello to both of you and thank you for sharing such a lovely book with the world. How do you define living lightly?
Dale C &Kimberly A:
The title is, in and of itself, a bit of a paradox. The more I look for light, the more I must work with everything that is in the way of that, being revealed. The more I let go, the more tightly I cling to what remains, it’s importance is revealed to me. The beautiful cover design is an indicator of what Living Lightly feels like, on the inside. Our outer landscape is as individual of an experience as each reader. We encourage readers to take in a ‘simple, not easy’ philosophy to cultivating the relationship with your self and with life. Living Lightly is who we are when we are at our simplest, most content relationship with ourselves.
Our move from the city to a historic farm is a dream come true for us both. Before we met we were both looking to move into nature. While farm life isn’t everyone’s dream come true, we highly recommend the pursuit of a bucket-list dream! It is absolutely magical to be in the flow of making a dream come true, no matter how long it takes; the synchronicity, the learning, the people, all make a process we would describe as living lightly. Being on a farm, living in a rural community, and in nature, offers a slowing down that makes it easier to see my behaviours, patterns and habits. It has been quite a revelation, and much of it we share in the book! I start to notice how I am with people, I hear the voice in my head more loudly, I become aware of my breathing. Living in rhythm with nature; sleeping when it’s dark, slowing down in winter, being higher energy in the longer light of summer. Life and death are regular experiences with farm animals, and this is strengthening our capacity to love and blurring the lines of life and death. So there are opportunities for connection every day for all of us, and living on the farm makes it easier I think to grasp them.
Well, we tried writing a timeless Christmas song but that is a lot harder than it seems.
We both were introduced to therapy as clients first, experiencing the life-saving benefits firsthand. It is heartbreaking to witness another’s pain, yet that sacred space between client and therapist is one of the most beautiful, intimate experiences we can have. Hearing a client speak their truth for the first time or reach a new awareness, is incredibly humbling. Our spirit can crumble limiting beliefs, old pain and blocks and it can happen in an instant, never to be unseen again. We write often about the value of listening and witnessing in our book, and our work is dedicated to a vision that one day we will hold this intimate, healing space for each other in daily living.
The Smart Cookie: Listening and witnessing pain and trauma first hand does create a very clear intimate space. This global health crisis is effecting everyone worldwide, and creating a sense of isolation that we have not seen in such a very obvious way. What is your advice to the people of the world dealing with the COV-19 crisis?
Dale C & Kimberly A:
We would not prescribe nor advise, rather we encourage people as we do in Living Lightly; to pursue our own truths and to be kind and empathetic towards others. History and this current situation show us that the basic elements of human connection are what have us come through our greatest challenges. Kindness and caring, empathy and resilience are innate and it is only our ego that betrays us in our true time of need. If we focus on what makes us human and humane exclusively, as if it is all we have, we will be rewarded by a rich and meaningful experience of ourself and of life, beyond our imagination.
For more information on Zaiden, visit Zaidenmusic.com
Don’t miss next week’s reading because we are giving away a $25 Amazon Gift card and a signed copy of Albert The Albatross.
Tune in next week to The Smart Cookie Philes Instagram page at 3 p.m. est. for a live reading of Oscar Redden’s beautifully illustrated poetic wisdom. Make sure to follow so you don’t miss it!
Enter the giveaway here and winner will announced during the LIVE!
I never wanted to become a fan of 5SOS. I just wanted them to be another One Direction like group that would be popular and then gradually fade away but after they made their American debut, I decided to check them out, and I have yet to stop listening to them. What’s crazy is that they were the same age as the members of One Direction when they became a band and started writing music but unlike One Direction, they had a cohesive awareness of what they wanted to become as artists, even so much as continuing to grow with each album they put out. That’s such a rare quality nowadays even among artists that are popular. They don’t have a sound that is signature to them. Sure, the songs they put out are good and top the charts but 5SOS has such a unique sound as musicians and the lyrics they write are so depth defying that I find it hard to ignore them as a true lover of music.
Calm (stylised as C A L M, an acronym of the first letters of the band members’ names, Calum, Ashton, Luke and Michael)is the fourth studio album by Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer, released on 27 March 2020. Due to a shipping error, around 10,000 copies of the album were released early in the US, subsequently allowing the album to chart a week before it was due.
Prior to the album’s release, the band released a four-track “Relaxation” remix collection via the meditation app, Calm. The collection features each bandmember reimagining a different track off the album in collaboration with producer Matt Pauling: guitarist Michael Clifford on “Easier”, bassist Calum Hood on “Old Me”, drummer Ashton Irwin on “Red Desert”, and guitarist and vocalist Luke Hemmings on “Best Years”.
The band were inspired by a lot of industrial music whilst working on the album, which helped them achieve a “rhythm side” on the songs, and in turn lends to the melodic writing and the melodic process. Drummer Ashton Irwin explained: “As far as sonic inspirations go, we always try to incorporate some of what everyone is actually listening to so it’s a more genuine and influenced record that we can speak on.” The album contains a “lighter” sound in comparison to the band’s previous work. Rhythm guitarist Luke Hemmings said he felt like the last album was “pretty heavy and dark […] Whereas this one has that side of it with the lighter side of life and moving forward rather than being stuck in one place”. The band’s bassist Calum Hood said most of the credit is owed to vocalist Luke Hemmings, whose lyrics, Hood said, “tell the tale of a man who has matured over the years and who has really honed in on his craft”. Hood, however, noted: “I think everyone had something to say with this album, in terms of their coming of age – in really reflecting on the people who we were and how things shaped us, and who we want to become in the future.” He futher described the album as “pretty chaotic at times”.
The album due to it’s early release charted at #62 in the Billboard Hot 200 in it’s first week.
Red Desert: A SONG WITH BIG ROCK GROUP HARMONIES FEATURING VOCALS FROM ALL FOUR MEMBERS, IT IS SET IN THE RED DESERT WHICH IS IN AUSTRALIA. DISCUSSES SOMEONE WHO’S LOVE DIVES DEEP AND HEALS YOUR BLUES.
No Shame: WRITTEN IN ONE TAKE TOGETHER AS A BAND. THIS SONG DISCUSSES BEING A PUBLIC FIGURE OR A MODERN DAY PERSON WITH MOST OF LIFE’S HAPPENINGS SHARED ONLINE, AND HAVING NO SHAME ABOUT BEING COUPLED UP WITH SOMEONE.
OLD ME: PREVIOUSLY REVIEWED IN MY MARCH MUSIC PLAYLIST BUT ONE OF MY FAVORITES OFF THE ALBUM.
That song, lyrically, it’s about owning mistakes and moving forward with your life and understanding that you’re not the person that you were when you were younger, but also you have to do these things and make mistakes to move forward and grow as a person.
CO-WRITTEN WITH RYAN TEDDER, IT’S A DEBATE ABOUT STAYING WITHIN A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP
The song has a hard rock feel, but with a relatively sparse arrangement. 5 Seconds of Summer told Rolling Stone it came about because there has been “a growing attention to industrial rhythm within the band.” They said that the track is “derivative of the driving drum groove” that’s heard on Nine Inch Nail’s track “Closer.” The band added that they were also inspired by dark, synth-heavy groups such as Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears.
TEETH: PREVIOUSLY REVIEWED ON A PLAYLIST POST
I love that song. It has that driving kick and that bass; we tried to make a song without having a snare. It has a few in it, but it’s mainly kick and it’s my breath doing all of the other beats. Tom Morello plays the guitar solo at the end. He’s almost imitating a snare with his guitar.
WILDFLOWER: This is the lighter side of the album. It’s a step forward for us in that it’s not so dark—we can do this big stadium vocal but also have it be a big, positive, euphoric anthem and not be lame.
BEST YEARS: A BEAUTIFUL LOVE NOTE WRITTEN PRIMARILY BY HEMMINGS FOR A PAST LOVER, IT WAS CO-WRITTEN WITH RYAN TEDDER AND FEATURES THE EDGE FROM U2 PLAYING GUITAR ON THE BRIDGE.
NOT IN THE SAME WAY: WRITTEN IN 30 MINUTES, It’s a chaotic love story of the early days in a relationship and trying to figure out your counterpart. THE MUSICALITY HAS AN ELECTRONIC UP AND DOWN SOUND LIKE THE BUILD UP AND THE BLOW UP THEN THE SILENCE IMITATING THE CHAOS OF THE LYRICAL CONTENT.
LOVER OF MINE: Opening with soft yet very prominent piano chords, the listener is pulled right in. This song is about the maturity of the protagonist and realising the past mistakes they have made with their lover. MUSICALLY, IT’S GOT A JEFF BUCKLY VIBE. THE SOFT GUITAR CHORDS ARE SO NICELY DONE THROUGHOUT THE TRACK.
THIN WHITE LIES: USING MUSICALITY THAT MIMICS THE CURE, IT’S AN HONEST SONG ABOUT SELF-REFLECTION AND BECOMING A STRANGER TO YOURSELF.
Lonely Heart: The song’s really beautiful. I like the dancing metaphor in some of the verses. It kind of sounds like Depeche Mode in the chorus, which I like. It’s all pretty New Wave. IT’S GOT A HAUNTING SOUND WITH THE MUSICALITY.
HIGH: THE FIRST SONG WRITTEN FOR THE ALBUM BUT PLANNED AS THE CLOSER, WITH BEATLES-ESQUE MUSICALITY COMES THIS FINAL TRACK ABOUT HOPING A PAST OR EX LOVER THINKS OF YOU HIGHLY.
Overall, 5SOS never disappoint me as a fan of music, as a fan of them as a band, and as a human being. Their music, no matter what it discusses, gives me an overall zen feeling, and instantly makes me calm. This album, ironically, is no exception.
Life is far from easy. Most of the time in life, we come to hurdles along our path that teach us something about ourselves or a higher truth about life. What exactly does it mean to “live lightly?”
When I was asked to read Living Lightly for an honest review, I was transitioning from a heavy period of my life: yet another hurdle I could either get stuck behind out of fear, shame, and regret or one I could let open my eyes to a truth regarding learning to love myself and part of that process involved coming to the realization that in the process of letting what happened in the past go, I must forgive myself.
The first day I sat down to read Living Lightly I read the entry for that date and it was surprisingly exactly what I needed to read regarding my situation:
Living Lightly is the perfect read for five to ten minutes a day. Each entry contains an anecdote with a reflective or emotive question or a poem.
If you’ve been down, torn up, heavy-laden, Living Lightly will provide an escape and a bigger picture truth to remind us that life isn’t meant to be carried, like baggage on our shoulders but meant to be enjoyed and even more so, meant to be lived fully and completely.
Coming soon: An interview with the authors Dale Curd and Kimberly Alexander
Pop songs in March saw an uplifting change of pace. They feature subjects such as self-love, drowning in love with someone recklessly, and gender equality, and 2 new songs from my faves Hot Chelle Rae.
Does your music library need some fresh blooms? Check out these amazing tracks in pop music:
Music Mix Playlist
Kings and Queens: Ava Max popped on the scene with Sweet but Psycho an EDM track that launched her onto the Billboard Hot 100. Now she’s back with a female empowerment track with the same signature EDM musicality and fire-breathing lyrics.
Feel Me by Selena Gomez: A bonus track for her newest album Rare, it’s a dancy and hypnotic track about a lover you never forget.
I Love Me by Demi Lovato: Following her first single Anyone since her near-fatal overdose, Lovato is back with an empowering self-love ballad with a fun and lighthearted musicality that begs the question:
I wonder when I love me is enough.
Where Am I At? by MAX: A Piano Ballad by the hitmaking soulful voice behind that song you kept hearing on the radio “Lights Down Low.”
Unlike the love in that track, this one is about the loss of a love that causes you to feel like a piece or part of you died.
Wave by Meghan Trainor: The first single off her recent album Treat Myself about a lover who isn’t entirely available but you want anyway, and allow yourself to swept up by the undercurrent of falling in love.
Drown by Martin Garrix: A dance pop track with a similar theme to the previous track about wanting someone so much you would drown in your love for them.
Afterlife by Hailee Steinfield: A song Steinfield wrote for the Apple TV show Dickinson to which she said:
There’s a line in the song that says, “Immortality is bliss,” and it reminded me a lot of Emily Dickinson’s poems. She lived during a time where women were forbidden from voicing their opinions, so the majority of her work wasn’t published until after she died. The inability to express herself fully in life, but to be so revered beyond her death—her writing continues to be remembered and relevant to this day, making her immortal.
It’s a breathy and dark song about someone’s love keeping your spirit alive even in moments when you don’t feel alive.
Love Me Anyway by P!nk and Chris Stapleton: A duet between the pop powerhouse singer and country singer Chris Stapleton that turns over the thought of unconditional love.
Old Me by 5SOS : Just another banger by this punk meets pop rock band from Australia about realizing that after all the mistakes you made and things you’ve been through, shoutout to the old you because that person taught you a lot. It is the fourth single off their album (out this Friday March 27) CALM.
Stay by Hot Chelle Rae: The third single off the forthcoming Tangerine EP about the loneliness and needed someone to fill the void you feel. It’s got an EDM pop musicality while lead singer Follese’s vocals emote every ounce of how much he needs to not be alone.
Don’t Call Me Angel by Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, and Lana Del Ray: A female empowerment song written for the 2019 Charlie Angel’s remake soundtrack about not needing a man to get by or to fight their battles. Discusses the oversexualization of women based on their body and not in what they have accomplished, the thoughts or brainpower they bring to the table.
Tomorrow Me by Hot Chelle Rae: OMG, sorry not sorry that I love this band so much.
Straight after the COV-19 outbreak and pandemic, and deep into the beginning of our science fiction level quarentine in real life, it’s a great track to be released about going all in and letting the mistakes and the problems of the night and all the “sins and debauchery” be something that this person can handle after the hangover subsides the following day. The minor piano chords in the musicality hint at the subtle regret of the speaker’s lack of remorse in the moment. I haven’t stopped listening since it came out last Friday. It’s just that good, and will also be featured on the forthcoming Tangerine EP.
It’s a party anthem and a “I Like It Like That” for 2020.
The Other Side by Justin Timberlake and SZA: A jazz musicality colors this track about getting to the other side of what is holding you back. The feel good positive pop track is featured on the soundtrack of the new Trolls World Tour movie.
Didn’t I by OneRepublic: This next single off of OneRepublic’s fifth album Human features a piano based melody in contrast to earlier singles Rescue Me (dance based) and Wanted (string influenced). It also runs longer, at almost four minutes. Its theme centers around a lost relationship, asking “tell me why good things have to die?”
It is my favorite song out right now and I can’t stop listening to it.
My favorite line:
The Smart Cookie Philes needs you!
Send me an email below or at email@example.com and I will review your book for FREE during the month of April and also offer FREE social media promotion!
Happy National Poetry Month to any and all poets!