Playlists and Podcasts

As do most people, I love listening to music.  It has the power to lift my spirits and make me dance.  Certain melodies can instantly take me back to another place and time, and emotional lyrics can remind me of special people who have shared my life. And, of course, I love to crank up the radio and sing along ~~ although, my dear, sweet husband has told me often to ‘never sing in public!’ I wasn’t blessed with a singing voice, but I don’t let that hold me back!

Just like they have wine pairing, I think everyone has their own style of music pairing. For example, classic rock makes my workouts on the elliptical machine so much better, while mellow songs from the 70’s are perfect when driving late at night on those long open roads to Idaho. The activity and time of day most certainly impact my choice of playlists.

With that said, I must admit, I am much more of a talk radio girl! I started listening to KFI-AM640 during the commute to Temecula in my first decade of teaching (1987-97). Bill Handel in the morning, John and Ken on my way home. In the evenings, while Pat was at work, I would also listen to late night psychologists while I putzed around the house doing chores.

Since the advent of podcasts, my love of listening to talk radio has expanded greatly.  I appreciate how convenient it is to listen to such a wide variety of shows and topics. Opening my ears and mind to what others have to say has a way of expanding my world and engages me to think about issues in whole new ways. I love that!

When I bring up podcasts to other people, I have found that about 7 out of 10 people don’t even know about podcasts, and most are free entertainment! So I thought I would share a few of my favorites that you all might want to explore.

My #1 pick is Dr. Laura. Her show is not free, but the fee to access her podcast library is minimal. I found Dr. Laura in the early 90s on KFI and have listened consistently since then. She is definitely a controversial figure on radio, and is not a fit for everyone, but I find her dedication to upholding morals and values so inspiring. I have greatly appreciated the perspectives she has on marriage, friendship, and family, and I can honestly say I am a better woman because of the lessons learned from her show.

Catholic Answers Live is an excellent show, not only for those that share the Catholic faith, but for everyone.  It’s a call-in program that allows listeners to ask leaders of our church (Priests, Catholic authors, etc.) questions about the tenets of the faith, the Mass, Catholic prayers, the history of the Church, and just about anything. Sometimes they have a theme to the show, other times it is just an open forum, and they also have days where only non-Catholics can call in to ask and learn more about the Catholicism. This program has helped me grow in knowledge of my Catholic Christian faith and also has aided me in then being able to more effectively answer questions from my non-Catholic friends about some of our beliefs and practices.

My most recent find and podcast addiction is The Moth.  These podcast episodes are a compilation of true stories, told in front of live audiences around the world.  The storytellers (both experts and amateurs) share short tales from their lives around a center theme, and there is usually some sort of lesson learned or poignant message revealed. Pat and I often listen while on the road, or I’ll listen while quilting at night, and the stories have made me laugh out loud, gasp, and even cry. What I absolutely love about these episodes is that they expose me to people and experiences I would typically never have the opportunity to interact with. I am hooked and highly recommend this one!

Be it music or talk, Pandora or Podcasts….. my phone sure gets a workout and helps keep me entertained!

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Giving Back

Nine months ago today, I walked out of my classroom for the last time! Wow! It really has gone by so darn quickly.

When I quit teaching, I knew I wanted to give myself six months before committing to any new endeavors ~ six months just to breathe. I needed, wanted, craved a window of time to unwind from my career, to focus on my health, to get strong again, to explore new hobbies, to create a new home in Idaho with Pat, to deepen my Catholic faith, and a few other things. Yep… I know I said breathe, and this sounds like a big ‘to do’ list, but these are many of the things that do help me relax and feel grounded. Nothing on this list committed me to anyone else except myself and my husband. My time, our time together, was used for healing, creating, exploring, and enjoying new adventures.

As that time frame stretched out past six months, through the busy holidays, and has rounded the corner into the new year, I am finding myself ready to reach out again. It feels like I have been self-indulgent long enough, and that it is time to start giving back in some way. I expressed this to Pat, and we ended up having this unexpected conversation over several days about what it means to ‘give back.’ He told me he doesn’t understand the concept. The giving he gets, but what or who are we to give back to? For me, ‘giving back’ is a spiritual concept. I want to honor God and show appreciation for the gifts He has given me by sharing with others. With the help of a friend joining in the discussion, it ended up mostly being about semantics. If we use the social term of ‘paying it forward,’ that seems to satisfy both of our notions of the importance of giving to others and sharing our blessings.

So, now what? How will I use my time, treasure, and talent to do some good in this world? Exciting question for me to explore! As I’ve considered several options over the past 4-6 weeks, a few guiding questions have become clear:

1.  Who am I being called to help?
2.  How am I supposed to serve?
3.  What will be flexible enough to fit our lives?
4.  Will it be meaningful enough?

This fourth question is the one that keeps hanging me up. A couple of my ideas would not benefit many people. In reality, perhaps only 2 or 3 a year. So, is that ‘enough?’ This is the concept I have been praying on and trying to wrap my head around. My bold approach to life has always pushed me to do more, be more, etc. Perhaps in this softer new phase of my life, it is time to look at things a little differently.

I spent some time with a close friend last week and shared my thoughts. She has a solid faith and such tremendous insight into life’s big questions. I love her sage advice, and she helped me clarify a few things in my head and heart.

A new endeavor is in my future….