#BookishThoughts: Stop Missing Your Life by Cory Muscara helps you learn what it means to be truly present in a distracting world

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Released at the end of 2019, I was eager to walk into 2020 more present than I had in previous years.

I got the book in January from the publisher and thought it would be a quick and easy read.

After all, it was a book walking me through how to be deeply present.

Now, five months later (I finished the book in May 2020), I’ve finished the book and see how very un-present not to mention irresponsible I’ve been.

In itself, reading a book is an act of being present. Present and actively engaged with the materials covered (if non-fiction) or in the story itself (with fiction, poetry, and memoir).

What does it mean to be deeply present?

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And it was during those five months from when I began reading this book to now, that I sought justice for evil. I had witnessed and experienced, sought healing and wholeness after heartbreak, betrayal, and utter rejection, and I began to speak from a place of true honesty and authenticity which I’ve never truly had in the twenty-seven years of my life prior.

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Muscara’s book takes the reader through personal anecdotes and mindfulness practices down a journey of true presence and intimacy with ourselves, and relates that back to the intimacy and connection we have with others.

Now, at 28, I feel more self-aware, authentic, and unapologetic about who I am than I ever have, and I will never allow myself to suppress the ‘shadow parts’ that need loving, too.

Once I sat down to being more present, and committed to finishing this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and believe anyone could benefit from reading it.

As far as my own journey into being present, I will start by being more adamant and dedicated toward being present while reading books I review, and music albums as well.

Overall, I want this to be me telling the world, I promise to stop not showing up for myself and all the Smart Cookie Philes is to people everywhere.

Meaning whether with my clients or books or music I promise to review, I will aim to get it done or offer a “thanks but no thanks.”

It’s this small but simple thing I believe will make the most difference.

#PoeticMuses: Evergreen by Kirsten Robinson

I was asked to read this book in exchange for an honest review but it took me a year to open it and let it’s honesty, authenticity, and perception wash over me.

It was a beautiful compilation of finding purpose in pain, understanding when none was shown to you, hearing someone out when they tuned out your truth.

And finding peace even if the person you loved didn’t chose you.

Her words truly do help you heal, feel, and grow into more of who you were made to be, not expected to be or told to be, which leaves any reader feeling truly free.

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You can connect with Kirsten via Instagram and even find a link to purchase her poetry book there.

Some of her favorites are below.

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We learned in science class that pressure makes diamonds out of coal there is so much pressure to be perfect I don't want to be a flawless fashion cut bought from a velvet case where I was kept on display

We learned in science class that pressure makes diamonds out of coal there is so much pressure to be perfect I don't want to be a flawless fashion cut bought from a velvet case where I was kept on display (1)

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I never told you but I like you best when no one is looking that is when you finally look like yourself. -Evergreen by Kirsten Robinson

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You looked at me with the sun in your eyes and it felt like coming home

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Just because it went bad doesn't mean it was never good Just because it turned out wrong doesn't mean it was never right. I need to give you credit for the ways you enriched my life for the ways you helped me growYou can never tie a string to someone's heart to keep them from walking away; you can only love them in their freedom and hope that they choose to stay, hope that they love you back freely in the same way.

When you are thinking of someone and wondering if they are thinking of you_ the answer is yes and no the truth is you will never know if they don't tell you they'll never know if you don't tell them so speak

#PoeticMuses: Beyond Worthy by Jacqueline Whitney

Coming out of the other side of trauma is the part people notice. They didn’t notice you within the trauma feeling stuck, losing the fuel to your fire, losing the best parts of you to appease those people who were absolutely blind to your worth.

They didn’t notice when you were broken and reaching out to everyone and everything to help you understand the pain that had doubled you over. That made you think that this was it. The story was over, and no one checked in or showed up for you like you did for them, you turned to a higher power and internal healing, and to be free of the pain you had to let go of what or who was holding you back.

Then, dead on arrival, the truth, the clarity washes over you and you come out strong. Like a phoenix you rise and begin to fly.

And when you rise, you help others like you heal.

For me, that is the poetry of Jacqueline Whitney. It is written from a place of severe trauma, from a place where people say something is wrong with you because you are depressed  and only see darkness, and from a place where light washes over you in streams and waves until the darkness flees from you, and the place you are stuck in, becomes the place where you danced right out of the flames.

It was everything I didn’t know I needed post-trauma. And I thank her for putting her words, her heart, her story out into the world because they helped me heal even more.

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You can connect with Jacqueline via Instagram and even find a link to purchase her very vital book of poetry.

Below are some of my favorites of hers.

The more we try to make sense of the memories or the current moment that doesn't make sense, the more we lose ourselves and our healing. There are some experiences that just aren't ever going to make sense, and ma

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You only live once.

You were created for nothing mediocre. You are meant to tear down walls with your heart, push through oceans with your voice, and love all souls with all of your soul. You were made to love. You were made to stand

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There is absolutely nothing wrong with you

Progress can be measured in breaths. You are still breathing, therefore, you are making progress. -Beyond Worthy by Jacqueline Whitney

Being you is enough. You don't have to explain yourself to anyone. You don't have to defend where you are. You are where you are, and that is where you need to be right now. -Beyond Worthy by Jacqueline Whitney

 

#BookReview: Living Lightly is a timely read in a heavy world

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?”

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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:

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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

Jennifer Ervig’s When My Mind Winds Up Will Help You Conquer Your Anxiety #EndTheStigma #BookReview

FB_IMG_1575832681128.jpgAs someone who has battled anxiety and depression knowingly since the age of twelve, and who also tried to commit suicide at that age, I can tell you that this book was like a cold blast of a Bahamian breeze, an utter rest for my soul. When My Mind Winds Up is written in short devotional style so it is an easy and quick read and a great companion to your daily bible reading/study.

I liked the quoteable wisdom I found throughout especially when she quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, who happens to be my go-to guy to quote in times of crisis or distress, but overall, Ervig offers real-time solutions and walking each sufferer through their thoughts and helping them process, heal, and evolve.

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#MusicMuses: Pop Music Mix January 2020

I think pop music is a fascinating genre because unlike all the other genres of music it is a mix of them plus constantly evolving. It’s always got a catchy beat, lyrics that grip, and a message based on current issues of the time.

For me, pop music has reminded of certain times with certain people. Or the decade of my birth because 90s pop was pretty dang fun.

Pop music has progressively gotten a lot darker and more deeper, in a genuine reflection of our society and world as a whole.

Yet, it is filled with so many songs that carry you through when nothing else seems to.

Here is a playlist for anyone looking to add something fresh and inviting.

Haunted House:Voice manipulation and Christina’s big band musicality create this dark jazz track about how one’s heart is haunted with past lovers, broken pieces, and twisted walk ways.

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Nice To Meet Ya:  Uptempo pop track with vintage vibes about seeing someone at a club or bar, and feeling a connection but not getting their name.

Adore You:  3rd single from Styles’ Fine Line, features Harry speaking about his love and passion for a significant other, and the extent to which he would do things.

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I’m Fakin’:  An electropop track about two people who have very large energies and disagree often. It’s only an act. The track features a clock ticking in the background on the breakdown.

You Can’t Stop The Girl: A female empowerment track that is from Disney’s second Maleficient movie.

Up All Night:  An uptempo pop track about troubling thoughts that keep you up all night, struggling with anxiety.

Lost My Mind:   The windchimes in the musicality are a perfect touch to a track about feeling winded because someone took your breath away, they left you, and you can’t get them off your mind.  It is a deep exploration of the human heart, and even after you leave someone’s presence they stay with you and you feel like you’ve lost your mind in loving them.

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Keep On: A soft song that shares an encouraging  message for anyone who suffers with any and all symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses.

Fall On Me: A cover of Andrea Bocelli’s 2018 song of the same name. The “Say Something” duo is back to create a multilayered piece of music about falling in love or falling on anyone when you can’t carry your burdens alone.

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Fired Up by Grace Carter: A fun pop track about being in love and it fuels your overall passion for life.

This Is On You:  An almight emo girl bop about not feeling responsible for someone else’s happiness.

Poser:  A song about struggling in self-worth and trying not to mess up what you share with someone

Anyone: An emotionally charged piano ballad about needing help as she wants someone to be there through the tough times with her. It was written and recorded four days before her near-fatal overdose in July 2018.

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Underdog: An Uptempo R&B song about people working for a better life, co-written with Ed Sheeran.

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Don’t miss my Billie Eillish giveaway!

 

 

 

 

 

#MusicNotes: Growing Up is Hard to Do (Alessia Cara Album Review)

Alessia Cara jumped into the world’s playlist with a song about feeling out of place at a party. With her second album, Cara comes across as more mature in her songwriting and sound. It was inspired by her brother talking to her about being a teenager and he used the phrase “Growing Pains.” Cara used that to fuel the cohesiveness of this body of work.

Although the album didn’t make the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 200, many critics felt that Cara made this album sound like “big sister pop”, and praised her songwriting.

I personally think this album is another great work from the artist, and once again, relate to her vulnerability and authenticity in her songwriting. She sings what we are all thinking and has the audacity to be brave enough to sing it out loud.

Notable Tracks

[reviewer’s note: views my own; click the title of each track in the review to be re-routed to the audio or music video of each track]

Growing Pains: A song about that moment when you realize how painful it is to be an adult and how you are all alone. It talks about loss of innocence and how frightening it is to take on adult responsibilities.

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I Don’t Want To: My favorite song on this album because it’s so simplistic in it’s musicality and acoustic vocalization.  In the song Alessia talks about someone she broke up with, she talks about how she still wants to be with them and how she doesn’t want to let go of them. She also mentions how she wants to get rid of everything her previous significant other left in her room, or the things that reminder her of them, but she doesn’t want to let go of those memories

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7 Days: The coolest thing to happen to pop music is that more and more secular artists are acknowledging God in pop music. It’s a song asking God whether he cares about what is going on lately because everything in the US popular culture seems depressing, hopeless, and negative. Alessia said about this song:

I wrote this song during a time which I feel like is still going on when you could not turn on social media or the news without seeing something frustrating. I was raised in a Catholic household and I wanted to have a conversion with whoever is up there… like, ‘Are you mad at us? What is the purpose? We need some help’… [I took] that concept that God created the earth in seven days and I wanted to ask God if we we’re worth those seven days… so this is for anyone out there that has any questions because I certainly do.

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Comfortable:  A song about learning all you can about someone you are in a relationship and you’ve reached this slightly stagnant stage of being comfortable with one another. In this song she sings about her doubts and how that stage in a relationship can’t be dodged and how she accepts that she is in the comfortable stage with her lover and she realizes it’s not as bad as she thought it was going to be.

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Out of Love: This song was inspired by a friend’s breakup and talks about processing how someone falls out of love with someone. It’s a question we as humans perplex as we grow which is why it is so vital to the cohesiveness of this album.

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Girl Next Door: A simple song showcasing how Cara grows in fame and success, she will always stay the simple girl she was before. She will wear what she wants and do what she wants, not following trends or the pressures of Hollywood.

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Overall,  Cara grew in her songwriting and maturity as an artist, and this album is all but painful to listen to, over and over.

 
Happy New Year from SHEIN!

#BookReview: Light On Glass by @MKeenerWrites

I know this going to sound pretentious and a bit ungrateful but the last book I read that had me absolutely enthralled was Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren. I read that at the end of August. As you can see, it’s been a while since a book transported me fully into the story.

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As I was reading the first chapter, Light On Glass immediately had me hooked.

“the first chapter has left me breathless. Keener chiseled a cave from stone with her words and whoever this Lucia character is I must know her story.”

Overall, it has two main characters the author Sarah who is struggling with writing her book after publishing a first novel that turned her into a has-been writer who suffered a few very poignant critiques when the novel was reviewed.

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As a former teenage author myself, I instantly related to that.

Right now, I am struggling writing the first draft of a new WIP because of a comment my dad made and kept harping at me with when I wrote the first scene and shared it with him even in its premature state.

I will do as Sarah does and forget the critics, head to a library, and just tell the story.

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The second character is within Sarah’s novel Lucia. She is standing on cliffs overlooking the rough seas below. She is likable, romantic, and fights for her chance at true love no matter what people say or think of her, and that to me takes guts.

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Overall, Light On Glass is enthralling, enchanting, and even educational as you learn some fun beekeeping facts throughout. Once you read it, your heart may never recover but you will be forever changed, in the best possible way.

#MusicMonday: TSwift gets all sentimental with new album ‘Lover’

If you’ve followed TSwift as long as I have (I mean the first time I heard her music I myspace messaged her. She didn’t reply, fyi), you know that Taylor has quite the reputation musically. She uses her personal experiences and many failed relationships to write songs from the heart and that is why her music still resonates despite her transition to pop from country in 2013.

Back with her seventh studio album, Taylor bring us lover released Friday August 23, 2019. Unlike the dark aggressive themes and musicality of her previous work ReputationLover is a love letter to love in all its maddening, passionate, exciting, enchanting, horrific, tragic, wonderful glory.

It has sounds of pop rock, synth pop, and electopop.

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Song by Song Review

I Forgot That You ExistedA cheery farewell to the events that inspired Reputation set to a minimalist piano arrangement and finger snaps. Instantly catchy tune. Definitely made me want to hear the rest of the album.

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CRUEL SUMMER: A synth pop song co-written with St. Vincent about a summer romance where there is some element of desperation and pain.

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Lover: All instruments used in the making of this track were made before 1970 which helps give this track it’s timeless feel. A country style waltz track meets a romantic but haunting song about being in love with love.

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The Man: An up-tempo synth pop anthem about the double standard women face about their actions and their words. I have never related more to a song in my life by Taylor Swift or anyone. It’s my favorite song on this album hands down.

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The Archer: A dream pop mid-tempo song that focuses on Swift’s flaws and insecurities within a relationship.

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I Think He Knows: The up-tempo funk-inspired love song about all the things you admire about a potential love. The song even contains a reference to Nashville’s music row.

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Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince: With an anti-“You Belong With Me” feel and theme compared to works Bruce Springsteen and Lana Del Rey about disillusionment of US Politics. Swift has recently come out politically as a proud Democrat and a silent supporter of Hilary Clinton.

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Paper Rings:  Bubbly pop punk track about committing to a relationship, forgo any formalities and marry him with homemade paper rings.

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Cornelia Street: A piano-backed ballad about a relationship  that may not survive, named after “Cornelia Street” a street in Greenwich Village where Swift used to rent an apartment.

 

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Death by A Thousand Cuts: A break up song inspired by the Netflix movie Someone Great, which was inspired by Swift’s album 1989. 

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London Boy: An up close and personal look at Swift’s  three year relationship with Joe Alewyn.pablo (88).png

Soon You’ll Get Better (ft. The Dixie Chicks):  A heavy banjo country ballad where Swift discusses her mother’s battle with cancer. It shows how there are real problems and there is everything else, and cancer is a real problem.

False God:  Using heavy religious imagery, it discusses the force between two people in a relationship as all-powerful and greater than themselves.

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You Need To Calm Down: A track with an electropop musicality about how social media gives us too much courage to bully and attack others.

Swift wrote this celebrating the LGBTQ+ community but slightly slanders Christians in the undertones.

Afterglow: A dream pop song about self-sabotaging a relationship, overreacting about a misunderstanding.

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Me!: A catchy pop track and the lead single off this album about self-love and confidence featuring frontman of Panic! at the Disco, Brendon Urie.

 

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It’s Nice To Have a Friend: A dreamy ballad infused with steel drums about two friends who meet in school and eventually end up married.

Daylight: A song reminiscing the pain and struggle of past relationships making you doubt your ability to find true love until she meets someone  who brightens her life in a new way.

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Lover by Taylor Swift will leave nothing unsaid and will read like all the great romances have since the beginning of time: void of time and space love is the greatest mystery and necessity vital to all of us as human beings.

 

 

#MusicMonday: The world is caught in the Mania of a musical masterpiece with FOB’s seventh studio album

Debuting as an alternative rock/pop punk group, Fall Out Boy has always been progressive and experimental with their sound yet they have never disappointed with their music.

Debuting at #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart, Mania is Fall Out Boy’s seventh studio album and was released on January 19, 2018. It shows continuous progression as musicians and artists by changing things up from pop punk and alternative rock sound to an experimental rock and electro-pop feel.

Song by Song Review

Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea:  An opening track with strong “punk rock” musicality with themes of celebrity culture and the madness that spawns from the culture.

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The Last of The Real Ones:  My instant favorite off this album for it’s piano ballad meets rock song musicality and celestial themed love song showcasing the narrator’s devotion.

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Hold Me Tight or Don’t:  This track shares that “pinch me I’m dreaming” feeling to the beginning of love until the person with these feelings realizes they played up the memory in their head and the other person doesn’t have the same feelings.

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Wilson (Expensive Mistakes):  A reference to Tom Hanks character in Cast Away. It lyrical explores the curse of fame, how everybody loves you but yourself and the person fame makes you, or even the person you want to love you.

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Church:  A song utilizing organ instrumentals and hymn like musicality to create a love song comparing the person they love to a holy relic or sacred space.

Heaven’s Gate:  A 50’s crooner style musicality paints this love song that compares the person they are pining for as too good to be true using angelic imagery and statements of devotion.

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Champion:  My favorite single off the album because of it’s fighter musicality and lyrical depiction of what it means to be a champion.

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Sunshine Riptide (ft. Burna Boy):  The gentle pull of a tide that rolls over and over again and by sheer nature of its essence it becomes an indestructible will.  An overdose of dopamine – we are living inside of MANIA right now. The never sleeping, never blinking – caught forever in the sunshine riptide. The musicality contains powerful vocals, a tropical island dancehall feel and a smooth rap verse by Nigerian born artist Burna Boy.

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Young and Menace:  “The weirdest song the band has ever made”-according to members of Fall Out Boy. It is a lyrical depiction of feeling like an outsider within your community having a love for punk rock.

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Bishop’s Knife Trick:  A reference to the movie Aliens and a paraphrase of a Bible used in a real life couple’s vows. Wentz asked their permission to use a piece of their vows in this song.

Mania will have you hypnotized and in a punk rock trance for Fall Out Boy’s constant growth as artists as well as people, and for this album to stay on repeat. If you ask me, whether you or I are the last of the real ones or champions, I’m okay staying stuck inside the sunshine riptide of this entire album.