With over 50 song recommendations shared by you through social media, I had a lot of listening to do. I was introduced to some great new bands and awesome jams. Like the rest of you, I was happy to see 2020 come to a close. Even if 2021 isn’t starting out too differently, it’s nice to at least dance to something new in your pj’s.
With so many suggestions across music styles and genres, it’s always hard to choose. Not every song can make the list. But here are the 2020 playlists to send y’all out in style.
Phenomenal Woman Mix
- Always Alright ~ Alabama Shakes
2. Higher ~ Bishop Briggs
3. Kids Gloves ~ Serena Ryder
4. Every Heartbeat ~ Grace Potter
5. Pastime ~ Samantha Crain
6. Love Me Wild ~ Hannah Blaylock
7. Family Tree ~ Caylee Hammack
8. No Roots ~ Alice Merton
9. A Beautiful Noise ~ Alicia Keys & Brandi Carlile
10. Ride Out in the Country ~ Yola
11. Underdog ~ Alicia Keys
12. Remind Me ~ Emily King
13. Please Mr Jailer ~ Nancy and Beth
14. So Far Away ~ Mary Lambert
15. The Let Go ~ Elle King
16. You are Unstoppable ~ Conchita Wurst
17. Young and In Love ~ Ingrid Michaelson
18. Invisible ~ Zara Larsson
- If the World was Ending ~ JP Saxe & Julia Michaels
2. Slow Dance ~ John Legend
3. Every Now and Then ~ Noisettes
4. Home Again ~ Michael Kiwanuka
5. Too Young to Burn ~ Sonny and the Sunsets
6. Can’t Hold Me ~ Emily King
7. May I Have this Dance? ~ Francis and the Lights
8. Fly Before You Fall ~ Cynthia Erivo
9. It’ll All Work Out ~ Phoebe Bridgers
10. Send the Sun ~ Nikki Lane
11. Texas Rose ~ Ray Remington
12. The Age of Worry ~ Madison Cunningham
13. Skin ~ Rag’n’Bone Man
14. Starry Starry Night ~ Lianne La Havas
15. Where Rainbows Never Die ~ The SteelDrivers
16. Colors ~ Black Pumas
17. Bridges ~ JOHNNYSWIM
There you have it. The mixes that made me feel better about my space in the world. I hope they bring some light to you as well.
And as a thank you, the two lucky winners their own copies of the mixes are Ruth Hage and Jessica Lea! Congratulations, ladies, and thank you for sharing your suggestions with me. Dance on!
It’s that time again.
Despite everything going on in the world, some things remain. The annual blog share of song suggestions for an old school mixtape gift is one of them.
Since 2004 I’ve made my mom and sister two mixtapes for Christmas, a Phenomenal Woman Mix featuring all female artists (power ballads and dance worthy, feel good tunes) and a Cafe Mix featuring easy listening jams.
For years I’ve asked for your help. Your song suggestions help me find the most diverse mix of artists and songs, as well as some truly awesome music videos, albums, and songs to play on repeat.
Why might this be the most fun year to collab on a mixtape? I don’t about y’all, but music has been one of the biggest mood lifters for me during this pandemic. Life is stressful. Why not dance some of it out, after all no one is watching if you’re really isolating. *thumbs up*
So I hope you’ll comment below and share with me your favorite song suggestions. Who are the artists you’ve discovered this year? What songs are you playing on repeat right now? What’s your fave song ever? The tune that no matter where you are when you hear it, you have to dance?
Tell me your suggestions for the 2020 Phenomenal Women and Cafe Mixes. As a bonus, I’ll draw TWO LUCKY WINNERS from everyone who comments who will win a copy of the mix cd’s for themselves. Winners and playlists announced in January.
To get started, here are a few songs that made the 2019 lists.
Phenomenal Woman Mix
Call on Me ~ Starley
Stay High ~ Brittany Howard
The Storm ~ ZZ Ward
Came Here for Love ~ Sigala & Ella Eyre
My Own Fault ~ Manny Walters
The Weary Kind ~ Ryan Bingham
Lost in the Light ~ Bahamas
Your Somebody Else ~ Flora Cash
Thank you for your suggestions. Thank you for your good energy. Thank you for dancing along with me and helping spread a little joy, which coincidentally, is my mama’s name. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
With 75 song suggestions from y’all, plus the rabbit holes I fell into while checking out new and old artists – so many rabbit holes – I present to you the 2019 Mix Tapes’ songs and artists that made the final cut.
I have a lot of fun checking out all the artists you recommend and I wouldn’t have the diversity of artists and styles without your help. So first and foremost, THANK YOU for creating this project with me.
Here are the 2019 playlists:
Phenomenal Woman Mix
- Home ~ Ella Eyre
- Call on Me ~ Starley
- Oh Heart ~ Tank and the Bangas
- You Have Been Loved ~ Sia
- Forever Young ~ Audra Mae and the Forest Rangers
- Helpless ~ The Regrettes
- Dream of You ~ Camila Cabello
- When I Wasn’t Watching ~ Mandy Moore
- Marry Me ~ Mahalia
- Stay High ~ Brittany Howard
- That Would Be Enough ~ Alicia Keyes
- Sorry ~ Mali-Koa
- The Storm ~ ZZ Ward
- American Pie ~ Shea Diamond
- Evergreen ~ Yebba
- To Rise You Gotta Fall ~ Nicki Bluhm
- Crowded Table ~ The Highwomen
- Came Here for Love ~ Sigala and Ella Eyre
- Cold War ~ Kiah Victoria
- Amen ~ Andra Day
- Shine Your Weary Light ~ Cris Jacobs
- Somewhere in My Heart ~ Aztec Camera
- My Own Fault ~ Manny Walters
- Another Story ~ The Head and the Heart
- The Weary Kind ~ Ryan Bingham
- Goodbye ~ The Sweeplings
- Clay Pigeons ~ Blaze Foley
- If I Go, I’m Goin ~ Gregory Alan Isakov
- Lost in the Light ~ Bahamas
- Waiting Here ~ Jake Isaac
- The Whole of the Moon ~ The Waterboys
- In a River ~ Rostam
- Bag of Bones ~ ZZ Ward
- All on My Mind ~ Anderson East
- I Am Easy to Find ~ The National
- You’re Somebody Else ~ Flora Cash
- Lisbon Love ~ Cameron Douglas
- The Tale of You and Me ~ Wild Child
Congrats to pals Darla, Mark, Eric, Tara, Peyton, August, Andy, Jessica, and Maggie who all had songs or artists selected for the final lists! And everyone who shared a suggestion gets a chance to win the playlists – TWO lucky winners selected!
*drum roll please*
This year’s winners are Lisa David Olson and Tara Eilers! Thank you for your song suggestions! May these new tunes continue to help you JAM ON!
It’s November, and around here that means…
It’s time to make the annual mixtapes! Since 2004, I’ve compiled two mixtapes as presents for my mum and sis. More like mix cd’s rather, which yes – I know are also becoming obsolete – but that doesn’t make the actual songlisting any less fun.
This is where you come in.
I need YOUR HELP collecting awesome songs that fit the theme for the mixtapes.
The FIRST is a Phenomenal Woman Mix – all female artists, songs you can dance to, but some ballads are great too.
The SECOND is a Cafe Mix – any artist, more mellow vibes, songs you can play while relaxing at home.
Why should you help?
Why not?! Music is the ultimate mood lifter and who couldn’t use a boost of finding new tunes to jam to and new artists to fall in love with. Go down the same rabbit holes as me sifting through song suggestions in the comments. Watch YouTube videos until you forget how to blink. Play the same song over and over until your significant other knocks on the bathroom door and asks “What, exactly, are you doing in there?”
BONUS: TWO lucky commenters will receive copies of the cds after the playlist is compiled! Free music for you! Woohoo!
So, share your song suggestions in the comments below. I can’t wait to listen. I always find new favorites and couldn’t make these awesome compilations without you. I’ll share the final picks and announce the winners in January.
Here’s some ideas from last year to get you started:
Phenomenal Woman Mix
Fallingwater ~ Maggie Rogers
Great One ~ Jessie Reyez
Shadow on the Wall ~ Ruby Amanfu
Yours ~ Ella Henderson
Two Blue Eyes ~ Tall Heights
Famous ~ Serena Ryder
Slow Burn ~ Kacey Musgraves
Beyond ~ Leon Bridges
What are your recommendations? I’m all ears!
Also, any suggestions on what platform to adapt
these mixes to once cds do go out?
Thanks, friends! Happy listening! Rock on!
A new year brings with it new playlists! With over 70 recommendations from you all, these are some of my favorite mix tape songs yet!
While not every song shared can make it onto the mix lists, I enjoyed checking out all the artists and songs you suggested, and I downloaded many to my own library for further listening.
Here are the songs that made it on the 2018 Phenomenal Woman and Cafe Mixes!
Phenomenal Woman Mix
1. Falling Water ~ Maggie Rogers
2. Pegasi ~ Jesca Hoop
3. Good Thing Gone ~ Elle King
4. Shine On ~ May Erlewine
5. Hearts Beat Loud ~ Keegan DeWitt & Kiersey Clemons
6. Only Love Can Hurt Like This ~ Paloma Faith
7. Don’t Wait ~ Maipei
8. Great One ~ Jessie Reyez
9. Light On ~ Maggie Rogers
10. Dream ~ Bishop Briggs
11. Armor ~ Sara Bareilles
12. Always Remember Us This Way ~ Lady Gaga
13. She’s Got You ~ Rhiannon Giddens
14. Best Years of My Life ~ Pistol Annies
15. Space Cowboy ~ Kasey Musgraves
16. Boy Band Hero ~ Emily Kinney
17. Shadow on the Wall ~ Ruby Amanfu
18. Something American ~ Jade Bird
19. Yours ~ Ella Henderson
20. Velodrome ~ Dessa
1. Fine ~ Noah Kahan
2. Blue Ridge Mountains ~ Larkin Poe
3. Two Blue Eyes ~ Tall Heights
4. Famous ~ Serena Ryder
5. Heart of Somebody ~ Caroline Spence
6. Kings & Queens ~ Mat Kearney
7. Slow Burn ~ Kasey Musgraves
8. Us ~ James Bay
9. Hurt Somebody ~ Noah Kahan & Julia Michaels
10. Roll the Bones ~ Shakey Graves
11. Say Love ~ James TW
12. Beyond ~ Leon Bridges
13. If I Say ~ Mumford & Sons
14. Leave a Light On ~ Humbird
15. Telluride ~ The Lone Bellow
16. Stranger ~ Sawyer Fredericks
17. The Gold ~ Manchester Orchestra
18. Everytime I Hear That Song ~ Brandi Carlile
19. Unraveling ~ Frances Cone
20. Your Water ~ Parker Millsap & Sarah Jarosz
Now, without further ado, the winners of the mix tapes themselves, and with great gratitude for their suggestions as I used some from each of them, the 2018 mix tape collections go to Darla from She’s a Maineiac and Mark from Swinged Cat!
Until next time, keep dancing, friends!
And feel free to share more of your favorite songs below
as the search for this year’s fave tunes begins NOW!
It is time. You and I are going to make a mixtape.
Ok, technically a mix cd, but still, a mixtape.
Yes, even though hardly anyone has a device that will play cds nowadays. (It’s for my mother, she has at least two players that I know of.)
Since 2004 I started making my mom and sister mix cds for Christmas. It’s tradition now. And I rely on YOUR HELP to find new and exciting music to showcase for them.
It’s simple, just tell me what songs or artists you love listening to.
I make two cds: a phenomenal woman mix (highlighting all female artists) and a cafe mix (featuring songs you can chill out and cozy up to while sipping your morning coffee).
Two lucky participants will get copies of the mix cds as a thank you for sharing your song suggestions!
To get started, here are some highlights from the 2017 mixes.
Phenomenal Woman Mix
That’s Alright With Me ~ Andreya Triana
Higher ~ The Naked and Famous
Want You Back ~ HAIM
Deeper ~ Ella Eyre
The Old Churchyard ~ Offa Rex
Let It All Go ~ Birdy and Rhodes
I Followed Fires ~ Matthew and the Atlas
Without You ~ Oh Wonder
What’s on your playlist? Share in the comments!
Two random winners selected in the new year!
I’m a sucker for self help books. I admit it. Mostly because I don’t think anyone can read just one and magically fix their life. I think personal growth is something we work on our whole lives, and reading books with new ideas, processes, or tools are helpful reminders to focus our time and energy where we most want to.
So if you’re a self help junkie like myself, or you know someone who is, here are the latest ones I’ve read and recommend.
Self Help Books Worth Buzzing About
Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day
By Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
I checked this book out from the library and admittedly did not pick it up until it was almost due, and there were holds on it, so I couldn’t renew it. The irony of the fact I had to speed read a book about making time is not lost on me.
Still, this book was a great read with easily digestible sections intermixed with drawings and chart examples. The authors come from technology backgrounds at Google and YouTube. While they both enjoy and appreciate technology, they recognized that it was stealing much of their time away from family and other life goals. They offered practical ways to cut back on screen time and refocus your energy.
What I learned: By implementing some of their tactics, I reduced my mindless scrolling on my phone and how I use my social media by 40%. As someone who earned her nickname of “Wi-fi” from her spouse, I know my husband was impressed with this change.
Recommended for: people looking to reduce or better manage screen time in their lives, tech gurus, business minds
The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness
By Paula Poundstone
More of an experimental memoir than a self help book, Poundstone’s book chronicles her attempts at getting fit, organized, and learning new skills. Bonus selling point: while listening to the audiobook in the breakroom, one of our library volunteers listened in while washing some toys and both of us were laughing out loud.
Candid about her moderate celebrity status, Poundstone shares real troubles and issues that are identifiable to many. Her self deprecating humor is laugh out loud at moments, and poignant at others.
What I learned: Have a sense of humor about self help. Poundstone takes both martial arts and dance classes and sees strengths and weaknesses in her abilities with both, but that doesn’t prevent her from finding happiness in the trying.
Recommended for: humor fans, humor writers, parents, anyone looking for some motivation and courage to try new experiences/skills
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
By Charles Duhigg
This book was one of my favorite reads of the year, and I probably annoyed a lot of people talking about it. Ha!
With examples covering everything from employee culture to drastic lifestyle changes, tragic accidents to court cases, Duhigg explains how habits play a key role in our lives. The book doesn’t view habits as good or bad, but they can certainly play to our successes or vices. And when you understand how habits work, you have more awareness of how to change them.
What I learned: Many of the examples shared were jaw dropping upon breakdown, especially how habits play a role in our marketing culture. Being aware of that, I felt I had more mindfulness around spending habits and company culture. I also understood what elements I needed to play if I wanted to change habits, and I reduced my fast food intake and diet using them.
Recommended for: goal setters, knowledge seekers, marketers, business minds, managers, those in customer service, teachers, coaches, mentors
An older read, but still very relevant. Tracy’s book emphasizes starting your day with the tasks that are the largest or most productive, the “frogs”. Many of us fall into productivity traps like checking emails, and we don’t get around to the larger projects we need to address in a timely fashion. Tackling the most crucial to do’s first ensure increased productivity and fulfillment.
What I learned: Eat That Frog is a short read and includes enough tips and tricks to help you re-channel your focus to make it worthwhile. While the tips didn’t seem new or unexpected, I found it to be a good reminder for anyone with procrastination problems, like myself.
Recommended for: procrastinators, office workers, writers, business minds, anyone interested in productivity boosters
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
By Eckhart Tolle
If you’ve wondered what “living in the now” means, this book explains that. Broken into definitions, explanations, examples, and questions and answers, Tolle illustrates the power of the mind to live in the present. He discusses aspects of ego, listening, subconscious, and more.
What I learned: I’ll be honest, I struggled with this read. There were parts that made me think and I did some journaling around this topic. However, this book is not for everyone, and I admittedly wandered while listening because some of the ideas are very intellectual and I am not well practiced in “the now.” But don’t let me stop you, give it a try.
Recommended for: spiritual seekers, meditation lovers, those with an interest in self awareness
With chapters broken up by the lies Hollis told herself, she goes on to portray how she challenged her own negative thinking and moved past it. Women will find Hollis’ book very identifiable as we all battle “trying to have it all.”
Hollis keeps it real, though. She does not pretend to have all the answers or have everything figured out. She advocates for therapy, faith, and family/friend support that keep her on the right track, and admits she’s still working on things. Written like a great coffee chat with your girlfriend, Hollis is honest, open, and at times very funny.
What I learned: We all spend more time in our own heads than in anyone else’s, so why not make that a pleasant place to be and stop beating yourself up. Get help where you need it, and take control back to follow your dreams.
Recommended for: entrepreneurs, parents, couples, self help book junkies, lifestyle readers, feminists
Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life
By Gary John Bishop
Here’s the self help book for people who think they don’t like self help books. With no nonsense callouts, and a dash of humor too, Bishop provides the steps you need to take to, well, unfuck yourself.
Bishop points out the realistic fact that we’re all going to die someday, and you don’t want to get there and discover you have regrets about things you had the power to change. Offering tips to help you through the mental homework, this book asks you to consider both what you’re willing and what you’re unwilling (which can be just as important) to do.
What I learned: This book focuses on the stories we tell ourselves, so part of Bishop’s plan is for us to understand where our own stories come from. By knowing why we think the way do, we can prepare for the struggles that we’ll face in trying to change it, making that change more lasting.
Recommend for: anyone, but especially those facing transitions in their lives
Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment
By August McLaughlin
Combining personal tribulations with a wealth of science to back it up, McLaughlin has created a guide for every woman. Finally, a no shame space for discussing sexual health that advocates whatever path works for you.
From the basic to the advanced, this book is written as if you’re talking with your girlfriends, but full of medically accurate information and body positive / sex positive language.
What I learned: Many women are raised to feel shame about their bodies and their sexuality. McLaughlin’s book is a welcome and much needed addition to the bookshelf. And as a former reproductive health advocate, I wish I’d had this book to refer to students and share with the women I encountered in classes.
Recommended for: all persons who identify as female, people with questions about their sexuality, fans of body positivity/sex positivity, feminists, those who work in healthcare/teach sex ed
Own Your Glow is a beautiful combination of storytelling, self help guidance, journal prompts, and practices. Song lists and inspiring quotes are also sprinkled in.
Whether it’s overcoming hardships, dealing with change, or finding the courage to pursue your dreams, Thomas writes to the reader as if she’s a personal coach and mentor for each.
What I learned: I loved Thomas’ journal prompts to ponder the lessons more fully. The book is full of self love and self care practices. It is a total confidence boosting read.
Recommended for: women in need of a pep talk, journal writers, mothers, entrepreneurs
Those are the self help books I’ve read so far this year.
What titles are on your must read list?
Ok, y’all know I love me a good writers conference. After I left a career in corporate sales to be a writer, I made attending writers conferences part of my ongoing education goal. I’ve attended at least one a year since 2012.
Well, this year something magical happened. I GOT INTO THE ERMA BOMBECK WRITERS WORKSHOP!
ERMA BOMBECK, FOLKS! ONE OF THE FOREMOTHERS OF FUNNY!
The Erma conference happens every two years, and the last two times I tried to get in, it sold out. No joke, this conference sells out faster every year, like in four hours or less.
So this year, I marked my calendar, I had my morning off, I was holding my credit card in hand with my laptop and my phone ready to GO!
And then, I flew to Dayton, Ohio and proudly wore my newbie sticker that said “Erma Virgin”. Yes, that is what they gave us. Be still my humor-loving, former Catholic heart.
I’ve been to some stellar conferences and always left inspired, but there was energy like you can’t imagine at this conference. (In fact, the organizers said this was the highest rated conference to date!) I got my schedule, planned out where I was going to go, and then immediately threw that out the window, tried something new, made great friends, and gave it all my best!
ERMAgawd, here’s why you should go!
Taking risks leads to opportunities and learning lessons.
You all know I like to say yes to new experiences, but being the newbie here, I was admittedly nervous.
A fair amount of the workshop focused on stand up comedy with the hilarious Wendy Liebman. Wendy’s been a stand up comedian for over 30 years. She’s performed on Carson, Letterman, Leno, Fallon, Kimmel, and been a finalist on America’s Got Talent.
It seemed like everyone was talking about the stand up classes. Everyone I met was trying stand up or working on their bits. But I had no intention of going. I’m not a stand up, so that’s not for me.
You guys all know I went, right? LOL
I had planned what workshops I was going to attend the night before they started, and that was the last time I looked at that list. If the stand up classes were getting all the buzz, then I decided to go and see what I could learn from them. After all, I like working in different formats because it teaches you new things about your writing.
After the first class listening to people tell jokes, my gears just started rolling and I spent that night coming up with some material. So the next day, I got up with a bunch of other brave, risk-taking people and did a minute of stand up. And I got laughs! Good ones! That is a very good feeling. One that I’m interested and willing to try again! All because of a risk.
A risk, and the ever delightful and supportive Wendy Liebman, who just happened to be on the same flight to Chicago as me, and who gave me wonderful feedback and encouragement while sitting at our departure gate despite the fact that it wasn’t even 6am yet. Bless you, you’re so kind and charming, and I’m eternally grateful.
Find the Funny
The other classes I attended were about finding the funny, whether it’s using it to add heart or get through hard times. Or even just on Twitter.
One of my favorite workshops was with Lauretta Hannon, author of The Cracker Queen. She had a lot of great tips on being comfortable with writing your story, even the dark parts, while being ok with yourself in the process. I can’t wait to read her book after she shared some examples of how to use humor to write about the tough stuff, and also where to let the dark moments speak for themselves, because we know not everything we go through will be funny.
Both Lauretta and T. Faye Griffin, another presenter, reiterated that making people laugh is a gift. Some of the best writers out there have the ability to make you feel something or learn something, but do so through humor, and that is a very special skill.
It’s kind of mesmerizing to me how many different ways there are to be funny. You can do stand up, you can tell a story, you can caption a photo, you can come up with a punchy headline, you can tweet just to name a few. If there was one takeaway from this conference, it is that “funny” is all around us, and we have the skill to shape it.
I’m so grateful for this opportunity. The crowd at Erma is one of the most supportive I’ve ever seen, which is appreciated because I took one other risk while I was at the conference and signed up for Pitchapalooza, “the American Idol of books”.
In a room of roughly 100 people, I put my name in a hat that probably had at least 60 of those people’s names in it. Only 12 were chosen and I was one of them. I got to pitch my book for one minute to a panel of judges and get feedback on my pitch.
I swear I thought the audience would hear my heart beating through the microphone, but I had practiced my pitch beforehand and gave it my all. I didn’t win the contest. (Way to go, Liz Dubelman, who did win! She was the first person to say hi to me at the conference, so I have a soft spot for her as a human being. Thanks!) I got really positive feedback and simple tweaks to improve my pitch, and was even complimented on my performance! And that’s a win in my book!
So there you have it, taking risks and finding the funny is what Erma is all about. I’m so glad I could attend and so grateful to the conference organizers, presenters, the keynotes (btw, I hope I wasn’t the only one who noticed all the female keynotes got standing ovations), and my fellow attendees. I’m still riding the highs and energized by all of you!
What are you currently learning about your writing right now?
What’s inspiring you?