Mandy Boyle

NEPA-er with Moxie. Writer. Sometimes Actor. Nerdy Girl.

4 Podcasts I’m Listening To Right Now

Podcasting by William Iven

I’ll admit, I’m a little late to the podcast party.

Sure, I’ve listened to them before and on occasion, I’ve followed a show or two. But as I’m working, writing, or getting ready in the morning, I find myself wanting to listen to something other than news. Let’s face it – the news right now is anxiety-inducing enough.

I still read and listen to the news, but now I temper my listening with more music and podcasts. I find it keeps me a bit more balanced and focused. Plus, it gives me ideas.

Lately, I’ve felt a bit “stuck” creatively and I’ve been looking for things to loosen my brain up so that it can think through challenges effectively. So far, it’s working – the gears are – slowly – starting to turn again.

As for what I’m listening to right now, let’s take a peek :)

The Minimalists

I’ve read blog posts from The Minimalists and I admire their message. They’re absolutely right: we need to do more with less and focus our energies on what really serves us (hint: it’s not stuff). Earlier this week, I started listening to The Minimalists podcast after a recommendation from my friend Sam (who has a super cool dinosaur blog of his own).  I like how they keep things light in their discussion of some really big issues. And the Q&A they do is also pretty great. If you’re looking for insightful discussion on minimalism and simplifying your life, this is a great one to tune into.

Adulthood Made Easy

I first found this podcast while scrolling through Spotify of all things. As a Real Simple reader who appreciates their rounded approach to content, I was excited to see that their podcast mirrored that same style.

Dealing with difficult people, relationships, happiness, smarter consumption, learning new things, and practical living tips are just a few of the topics tackled. I loved the soup episode as much as I loved the one about wanderlust.

Suddenly, getting your house in order seems a lot more attainable.

Fresh Air

Public radio is awesome. I don’t care if it makes people think I’m 80 years old, but I freaking love it. I listen to NPR in the car all the time and I love the programming they put together.

One of those items I get to tune in to on my ride home on occasion is Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Her interviews with celebrities, politicians, changemakers, and innovators are always interesting. I’ve laughed, cried, gotten angry – you FEEL when you listen to these interviews.

Now, I don’t have to wait until my commute to tune in – I can catch it on Stitcher.

TecBridge Radio

Disclaimer: I’m an active supporter of TecBridge and a member of their marketing committee. When TecBridge Radio launched its first episode, I knew it was the start of something big. In only a few short weeks, this podcast and radio show has grown into an insightful discussion on matters that concern making our region a better place.

Economic growth, education, business, and entrepreneurship get tackled in a dynamic Q&A session. The big idea? Why not us, why not here, and why not now. Good stuff happens in NEPA <3

What are you listening to right now?

La La Land

Today was a day that felt like a good day for a movie, so I did just that.

I headed to the Cinemark with my leftover raincheck pass in hand for one ticket to the 1:15 p.m. showing of “La La Land”. Having seen the previews and heard how beautiful it was, I imagined that I’d spend the whole time enchanted – just like when I saw “The Artist”.

The line was long for the concessions but I waited anyway. One hot dog with mustard and a kids pack of popcorn, a small drink, and Welch’s fruit snacks. It’s a good value and the perfect amount for me.

Eager to be dazzled by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, I rushed to find a single seat at the back of the auditorium, squeezed between a woman with a persistent throat tickle and a man’s North Face jacket.  Even so, I love going to the movies.

The previews were the mix of sap and action you’d expect, but then, it happened.

La La Land. A seriously gorgeous production where every shot is rich in color and tone. Emma’s eyes glittered. Ryan’s smirk charmed. The tap dancing made me smile. The singing was soft and lovely. The ending made me cry.

It was the stuff of dreams, which is really what the movie is all about. We make promises to ourselves. We hold ourselves to the highest of standards and face summits all the time. Sometimes we make it, sometimes we don’t – but the point is that we tried and that we stayed true to what we really wanted. And those people along the journey? They make it all worthwhile.

Go see La La Land.

A New Year

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It took me a moment this morning to remember it was 2017.

I woke up, tired from the festivities the night before, and looked at the ceiling.

The cat’s paws clicked across the floor.

My husband, in full burrito blanket mode, was still sleeping.

It was quiet.

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A new year is welcomed with noisemakers and spoons banging on pans, but the next day is more peaceful. This morning was that way.

I opened my phone and scrolled through Twitter.  I read resolutions and news articles. Then I switched to Instagram to graze through brunch photos and inspirational quote graphics. It was nice, in a way, to be reminded of the newness of the day. Heck, of the year.

Although you can start something new or make a change at any time, New Years feels good. That sense of possibility.

I thought about the file I have saved on my Google Drive. A list of things I want to accomplish in the next year (among other time frames).

It feels good to have a plan and a sense of direction for the months ahead – even if it’s just a Google doc.

 

 

Taking it Home With You

As an actor, I repeatedly put myself into situations where sometimes I bring work home. And by that, I mean I can get the emotional hangovers of whatever I’m doing and that gets shared with the Mister, the cat, and whoever else may come into my path.

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If you’ve ever done theater that was draining or intense, you may be able to relate. Perhaps you had an emotional connection to the work or to the other actors. Maybe your character shares something profound in your history. That day could have just done a number on your energy. Whatever it is, you came home after rehearsal or a performance and just couldn’t unplug. You might have slipped into a warm bath of numbness or let your stage emotions ripple outward into your life, breaking the fourth wall and wreaking havoc on your homeostasis.

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It’s tough, but it happens to a lot of us. Especially the lot of us who are sensitive to begin with!

I was thinking the other day of what it was like to be in Angels in America. The experience was so, so special to me for many reasons, but the character of Harper Pitt was a beautiful opportunity.

Admittedly, I had days when I came home and just had to cry for Harper. She made me feel powerful and powerless at the same time. She was electric and manic and childish and playful and sad and bitter and so many other things. After playing her, I found myself taking all of that home.

Challenging as it was, I’m hungry for more roles like that one – where I can stretch and push and play. But in the meantime, it has me thinking about how sometimes it can be really easy to bring the baggage you’d rather leave behind into other parts of your life.

As for how I try to keep things separate and unplug, it’s not an exact science. I’m not an expert and am still a huge work in progress. But here are a few things that help me when I’m put into a situation where I’m bringing stuff home (and it’s not just theater stuff – this works for work stuff or other life stuff).

The Commute Talk Down. Commuting time can be stressful, but it can also be one of the kindest moments you have with yourself. I have long and sometimes passionate discussions with myself in the car. I’ve done this ever since I could drive.

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The car is my sounding board, my time to process out loud, my time to get out whatever dregs of crazy I have left in my body before I have to get my shit together. I’ve had fights out loud with imaginary people to get out my anger. Stoplight sniffling. Stream of consciousness while on cruise control. Random bouts of singing intermingled with dissertations on whatever I might be thinking at that moment. It’s nice.

The Self-Care Reminders. I set reminders on my phone and used post-it notes during Angels in America to do little things to take care of myself. Between my bouts of hunching over my Taco Bell like an animal during rehearsal, I pinged myself to stretch, drink water, or to look at a cat pic. I played Solitaire as a way to unplug my brain during breaks.

Mia Page animation cat sleep creature

When I was home, I paid a bit more attention to what I was doing to take care of myself. I watched videos of Fred Astaire dancing and gave my cat extra belly rubs (petting cats lowers your blood pressure, FYI).

The Support Group.  Just open the hell up and communicate with the people around you about how you’re feeling. Do it. Don’t talk yourself out of it. If you’re mad, be mad. If you’re sad, be sad. Let the people who love you take care of you and listen. They want to.

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I’m lucky in that I have such a powerful support group around me. I could openly talk about my feelings and what I was experiencing in a totally open place. I asked for hugs when I needed them.

The Amenities. Like Tom on Parks & Rec, I’m a sucker for amenities. Little indulgences like aromatherapy face spray (came in my POPSUGAR box!), good chocolate, water with mint and lemon and cucumber, a shower beer, or one of those sheet face mask can sometimes cure all that ails you. Or at least can keep you sane for that moment.

Mashable parks and recreation parks and rec aziz ansari camping

Find little ways to reward yourself for making it through or for reminding yourself that you’re an amazing tropical starfish deserving of comfort and happiness.

The Calm App. Also check out Calm.com. I swear by this thing. Guided meditations prove to be super helpful when I can’t sleep or when I feel like my mind won’t quiet. I use them also to center myself when I feel like I can’t get my equilibrium back.

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If you’re not a fan of the app or want to try something else, you’ll also find plenty of guided meditations and visualizations on YouTube. Even just some deep breathing and a little quiet can go a long way.

Anyways, just be good to yourself when you’re working on something that stresses you out or challenges you emotionally. It’s good to stretch those feelings muscles.

Now What?

“What do you think is going to happen?”

I must have heard this 50 or more times since it happened.

After a brutal election cycle, I – like millions of Americans – spent my November 9 feeling overwhelmed by a swirling and full range of emotions. Nothing about this week, and now, is straightforward.

The world we live in is complicated. In spite of what Facebook shows us in our news feeds, there are numerous ways to think and feel about the things that happen in our lives. We don’t always agree with each other. We alternate between decisions made too fast or too slow. We get things right and wrong. History has shown us that. But we also have moments that make us more human to each other, when we can display grace and compassion. Unfortunately, those moments are usually in times of great challenge or tragedy. I wish it were different.

I wish that I didn’t feel the way I did on election night. But I did.

I wish that I would have woken up to the first female President in the history of our country (though imperfect), realizing the dream that so many parents have had for their daughters. That my parents told me about all the time growing up. But I didn’t.

Yesterday morning, I read a piece written in the character of Leslie Knope. Leslie, in many ways, is my spirit animal. She’s a woman who in the face of incompetence and small town small-mindedness, never gives up. She never stops trying. She never stops working for what is right, good, and just. She’s the superhero we need when the world is maddening. Like it is at this very moment.

I read her letter twice. First, silently to myself at my desk at work, as I sat still processing how unpredictable life can be. Her words reassured me. I felt, for just a moment, that I could breathe again.  Later, I read it out loud to my husband (another Parks & Rec fan) as we watched Netflix together, as he was curious to know what she had said on the matter. Her words, read aloud, suddenly meant more. I heard it anew in my own voice and had bright moment of recognition. This is all of us now. We can speak our truths aloud and make something happen with them.

Today, I’m writing this from Marywood University’s campus. I’m here to speak at the Entrepreneurial Institute, put on by the amazing team at TecBridge. I’ll be talking about how to find your battle cry: the unifying big idea that drives action in organizations, tells your customers what to expect, and anchors what you do.

I feel good being here. No, I feel great being here. I’m surrounded by people who have the desire to make change in the world. Who want to do more. Who ache for the opportunity to take risks, fail, and most importantly, succeed. I’m also surrounded by members of the Marywood University community who have always made me feel at home and like I belong.

I’m in an environment where – as our University President said in her opening remarks – dignity, service, and  justice are “big time.”

We should be thinking about our own battle cries for the future. What will we do to take action? How will we move forward? What can we do to preserve and advance the big time ideals of dignity, service, and justice?

I know for me, I’ll continue working on the things I care about most. I’ll teach, perform, serve, strive, and organize. I’ll have meaningful dialogue. I’ll be respectful. I’ll be kind. I’ll take care of my family. I’ll continue to be a proud woman and member of my community. I won’t accept anything less than what I deserve. I’ll keep moving.

I take great comfort in that. Just for today, I have the opportunity to keep moving.

 

 

 

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