Category Archives: Brainpower

How to Put New Language Skills into Practice

I talk about lifelong learning a lot, and that includes learning languages! A second or even third language can open your mind in so many ways, as well as open doors to all kinds of new possibilities. So if you’re learning a language, how do you practice, how do you immerse yourself in that language to keep your skills fresh?

I am so grateful to have kicked off my love of language learning at a super young age. One thing I’ve come to realize over the years, however, is that YOU GOTTA USE IT OR LOSE IT. Cracking open a book will only get you so far! (File the following under: advice I give so that I’ll feel inclined to  practice what I preach, but…)

Here are some ideas to help you get the most out of your language practice.

Practical application

Okay, so if you don’t have anyone to practice your chosen language with, things can get pretty lonely. But if you’re stuck for a language partner there’s no harm having a conversation with yourself once in a while! For instance, turn cooking dinner into a reminder of kitchen and food vocabulary, or practice all you remember about shopping when you’re looking for a new outfit. You might also want to look into apps like Babbel or Duolingo to help you in your solitary language practice.

Literature and media

Now this tip comes from a recent Facebook post shared by Language Trainers. Thinking about starting a new book or  binge-watching a TV show? Why not choose one in the language you are learning! Okay, so a book might be a little daunting the first time you try it, but imagine all the language you might pick up just by reading a single page of a novel? Alternatively, if that is too much, a TV series or film with or without subtitles is an amazing way to practice your language at the same time as doing something fun. Netflix anyone?

[Related: Great YouTube Channel for Practicing Spanish!]

Language exchanges

Okay, so the suggestions so far have been pretty solitary pursuits; what’s the point of learning a language if you have no one to speak it with? Look in your area for language exchanges, or check online if there are groups nearby for language practice. Your local library might be a great place to start; even if they don’t host any events they might know somewhere that does!

Embrace the internet

The world is literally your oyster. You can have a real time conversation with a person on the other side of the planet if you wanted to (time zones and sleep schedules permitting, of course). One thing you could consider is downloading an app like HelloTalk to chat with native speakers from all over the world. In the classroom conversations can feel forced–you’re paired off with a classmate, told to discuss a specific topic, limited by a sheet of vocabulary words. But in our connected world you can seek out folks with similar interests and chat about anything under the sun. Something that will feel a lot more like a growing friendship than a group assignment.

Plan a vacation

The most rewarding way to practice a language you’re learning is to use it in a country where the language is spoken. Organize your next break away somewhere to visit a city you’ve always dreamed of; can you already picture yourself ordering some exquisite dinner looking out over landmarks you’ve only ever seen online? Imagine looking up all the museums, bars, or whatever you want to visit in the language you’re learning, and being able to read their websites with ease? How incredible would that feel? Put your hard work to good use and see this big, beautiful world of ours!

What languages are you learning? I’m a lifelong learner of Spanish and, after quite a long break, I’m dusting off my German skillz. Do you have any tips for making the most of a language practice? Or, better yet, got any Spanish- or German-language tv shows or YouTube channels you think I should check out. I’m all ears below! xoxo

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Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 2

Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our first book club book, shall we? Tom Krattenmaker is a columnist for USA Today and the Director of Communications at Yale Divinity School.

His work primarily explores the discord, problems, and potential that arises from the intersection of religion and culture. Tom considers himself a secular progressive, and Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower stemmed from his idea that crucial moral guidance and insight can be gleaned from the Jesus found on the pages of the New Testament.

Previous books include Onward Christian Athletes (2009), a critique of Christianity in sports, and The Evangelicals You Don’t Know (2013), about the “new evangelicals” in our post-Christian America.

Not only an author and journalist, Krattenmaker is also a speaker — at the American Humanist Association conference on multiple occasions, as well as countless other events and many universities. He’s won awards from organizations like the American Academy of Religion, Religion Newswriters Association, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and the Muslim Educational Trust.

He currently calls New Haven, Connecticut home and you can follow him on Twitter HERE.

“On the mountains I’ve climbed, figuratively speaking, I’ve discovered, and then rediscovered again and again, the anchor that means the most to me, the anchor I find most worthy of my trust. It’s the ethic and the inspiration and, indeed, the way of an ancient figure with whom we are acquainted, but whose relevance to our lives and society might not be so readily apparent, and whose availability to us, if we are secular might come as a complete surprise.”

***

More with Tom Krattenmaker

Posts and articles —

Real men get help when it’s needed–as it so often is Recent blog post
Christmas is a Time to Celebrate Jesus’s Moral Insights USA Today column
White progressives shouldn’t be smug about racism … USA Today column
Don’t Domesticate MLK Commentary in Religion News Service

Interviews —

Can You Be Secular and Still Love Jesus? An interview in Psychology Today
Reading is FUNdamental An interview on The Brain Candy Podcast
Do Religion and Pro Sports Mix? Faith Matters series on NPR

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Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! And if you want exclusive book club content (incl. the full reading list and FREE printables) sent straight to your inbox — SIGN UP HERE. Part 3, coming soon!

Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today marks the launch of my new Finding Delight Book Club. I’ll be reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book — 1) about the book, 2) about the author, 3) extended reading/listening/watching, and 4) final thoughts and reflections. I’m kicking off the club with an exploration of Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus for Those Who Don’t Believe by Tom Krattenmaker.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“It is not my aim to reclaim the Christian religion … Nor is it my objective in this book to join the scholars who pursue the historical Jesus–the historically and journalistically accurate Jesus–as important as that quest might be. I am interested, rather, in what we might describe as “face-value Jesus,” the Jesus who says and does things on the pages of the New Testament. I am not worried for now about the factual accuracy of those accounts or the religious assertions that arise from them. His stories and instruction are valuable and ‘true,’ I contend, whether they are journalistically accurate or not.”

Synopsis

When you think about Jesus, what image comes to you mind? A man with piercing blue eyes and flowy hair last seen on the cover of your old Sunday school workbook? A painful expression from a cross at the front of a dim sanctuary? Or perhaps the name alone invokes feelings about religious doctrine or political stances in direct opposition to your own.

Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today columnist, separates Jesus from our preconceived notions and explains how his teachings are exactly what we need to bring reason and sense to the current state of affairs in America — even a SECULAR America.

Krattenmaker asks–
What gives life meaning?
What does it mean to live a good life?

Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower is Krattenmaker’s answer to these long-pondered queries. Surprisingly, as a self-declared secular and non-believer, he turns to Jesus. Fully. Not just as an instructor or someone to be imitated, but as a personal North Star, as it were, directing and guiding all life’s components and quandaries.

To encourage us to adopt a similar conclusion, the book paints a realistic picture of the status quo while detailing the ways turning to Jesus’s teachings can provide a much-needed salve for so many of America’s woes. And no stone is left unturned — politics, racism, sexual exploitation, mass incarceration. Krattenmaker has studied religion for years and, as a journalist, covers the intersection of religion and public life in America. It is through this lens of religious understanding, that he expresses how nonreligious folk can follow Jesus. He walks readers through key teachings, parables, and sermons and extrapolates meaning and guidance that can be applied to a modern life.

This book helps readers discover, or perhaps rediscover, Jesus. A man who, Krattenmaker believes, can help us lead a good and meaningful life. An inspiring read no matter what you believe.

***

“If Jesus had a “shit list,” you wouldn’t find people on it. You’d find attitudes and actions. Not wrong people but wrong ideas, behaviors, and ways of being in the world. He could see the humanity even in the dreaded tax collectors, who were enforcing the severe policies that kept many of Jesus’s people in poverty. He could see the humanity even in the soldiers who were carrying out his execution.”

Initial Thoughts

Can these two truths coexist within one person?
1. Jesus is the answer.
2. I’m not looking for God.

They seem contradictory, right?

I love that this book shows me, as someone who has walked away from organized religion, the ways in which they are not. Krattenmaker does a wonderful job exploring Jesus’s teachings — explaining metaphors (for those of us apprehensive with *pulls thing out of thin air* miracles) and cultural context. This allows for a more holistic application of bible story to current conundrum. A leap that can be hard to make when the subject and setting of these stories feel so far removed from our own.

Wherever I’ve been on my own faith/spiritual journey, I’ve always conceded that Jesus was and is a pretty important dude. Afterall, he was able to split time in two. No small feat! But despite regular church attendance and religion classes throughout my formative years, I still wouldn’t say I have an intimate knowledge of his teachings.

Curiosity about the historical Jesus had me pick up this book last year. Which I would definitely recommend as a way of placing “the man” in time and space. Curiosity about what he taught, however, has me poring over Confessions of a Secular Jesus.

In recent years, I’ve seen some good done in Christ’s name, but a lot more bad. Maybe you feel the same way? For me, in 2019, this is what is hard to grapple with when approaching a book like this one. I found myself proceeding with caution towards the idea that Jesus can be a moral guide for all folks — whether they worship him or not.

Yet, Krattenmaker’s interpretations of the Jesus philosophy is winning me over. His philosophy…

that love is the way,
that responding to war with peace is a powerful counter-strike,
that finding the humanity in all persons is possible and beautiful,
that forgiveness can be subversive.

Perhaps these are the answers we can find in Jesus if we take the time to look.

Read this if you’re interested in: Philosophy, Self-Improvement, Religion + Politics, Literature

Read this if you loved: A Secular Age by Charles Taylor, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, What’s Beyond Mindfulness by Stephen Fulder, What the Qur’an Meant by Gary Wills

Other books by Tom Krattenmaker: The Evangelicals You Don’t Know and Onward Christian Athletes

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

How I Plan to Put My 2019 Goals into Action

Hello friends! Welcome back to my blog. My name is Beth, if you are new here. I recently shared my 2019 Resolutions and I wanted to expand on this topic in today’s post.

Today I’m going to discuss some specific strategies I’m planning to employ in order to meet my 2019 goals. The new year is such a wonderful time to reflect on the positive changes we’d love to make and the new habits we’d like to adopt. But without a plan for how to stick to these changes, implement new habits, and actually…ya know…FOLLOW THROUGH, we run the risk of setting the same resolutions year after year after year. Know what I mean?

I’m definitely guilty of getting hung up in that little no man’s land between conception and action. I love research and planning and thinking things through. Maybe you’re the same way?

Well then dear friends, let’s do this together! Let’s make a plan and get shit done! Shall we?

Here are some ideas about how to follow through on our 2019 resolutions…

Outline Steps to Success

For each of my resolutions, I’m coming up with a plan of attack that I need to complete in order to succeed.

Integral to this process has been establishing a 2019 GOALS NOTEBOOK. I wrote out each of my resolutions, with blank pages left in between so that I can outline my steps.

It would be really easy to list one of my resolutions as “eat healthier”…and leave it at that. Instead, after my Whole30 reintroduction process, I plan to sit down with my notebook and map out what foods my body best jives with.

For my resolutions about spending more time growing my business and creating materials for this blog, I’m working on defining a schedule and setting due dates.

This gives my brain something concrete to work with so I know what I need to do to reach the end goal.

Schedule for Success

I’ve mentioned before that I really love to approach my day like a puzzle. (It’s why I love planners like this one.) Figuring out how the various pieces fit together to maximize my day and productivity is something I enjoy.

So, with that in mind, I’m not only making it a point to schedule in time for planning out how to achieve my goals…but then using that time to stick those plans into my schedule! Still with me?

For example, today I had a few minutes to devote to my “2019 notebook” and I sketched out a workout plan for February.

THEN…I grabbed my planner and scheduled my workouts for the first week of that month.

I can do the same thing when I make plans for quality time with my husband or writing postcards to friends or deep cleaning once a week.

When I schedule something, I’m making a COMMITMENT. Like, that shit is engraved in my calendar IN PEN (and hell, might even be highlighted!). Commitments are exactly what I need in this, the year of COMMIT!

Connecting with Others

Sharing this process publicly is a nice, healthy dose of accountability! I really, really want to make these things work…because I’m talking about them openly. I definitely think there’s something to be said for our good ol’ internet-age//social media-riddled lives when it comes to this stuff.

However, I also think sharing my goals and the process privately, with trusted loved ones in my life, is also important. This is where I can seek out encouragement (or more realistically…a good kick in the butt when I get lazy) as well as fresh perspectives when and if I get stuck.

Connecting with Self

We’re only about 1/12th of the way through the year. And while I’m still feeling pretty fired up about making the most of 2019, I can’t guarantee I’m going to feel this same way every minute of the next 11 months. So staying inspired is equally important as making and talking about plans.

That’s why my notebook isn’t just for lists and steps and action plans. I also created sections for journaling and mantras and a vision board (!) and quotes.

I want to stay connected to the reasons I set these intentions. These reasons are what gives the process power and purpose.

I hope you found these ideas helpful for planning your own 2019 “follow through.” If you would like some encouragement, motivation, or just want to type your intentions out for someone/anyone to see; LEAVE ME A COMMENT BELOW!

Do you have any specific strategies that have helped you stick to goals? Leave those below, too.

Here’s to achieving our goals in 2019! xoxo

Can Using Crystals Really Boost Your Happiness and Well-being?

*This post may contain affiliate links.

Chances are you’ve spotted a crystal or two when scrolling through Instagram. After all, you can’t shake a stick at a carefully curated coffee table without running into a chunk of rose quartz.

And if you listen to my podcast, than you know how on-board celebrities seem to be for these shiny pieces of decor.

But, and not to get all woo-woo on you guys, I’ve often wondered if there was more than meets the eye when it comes to crystals. So many folks espouse their ability to heal, affect well-being, and even emit a since of inner tranquility. I’ve gotta admit…I’m down for all three of those things. But is this all the placebo effect, a passing fad, WITCHCRAFT? Let’s find out.

Crystals tend to be semi-precious stones with striking colors, patterns, or textures. But even in all their beauty, they are intrinsically natural. As such, many argue they embrace the life-giving elements of the universe and inherently connect us to the Earth we live on. 

Here are 3 applications of crystals I looked into…

Holistic Therapy

The world can work in mysterious and wonderful ways and you don’t always have to have solid evidence in order to benefit from something positive. (As in, “I don’t care how it happened, I’m just glad I feel awesome!”) Holistic therapy broadly, and using healing crystals specifically, is an example of this. 

Here’s an example one crystal believer told me about:
“Crystals can serve as the physical manifestation of your intentions. You hold onto them and use them to “hold” or represent the things you want in the world — like to feel more at peace or find love. Many people will then hold the crystal close to them near their skin, perhaps in crystal necklaces or in a pocket. This helps your intention vibrate in reality.”

The type of stone that you choose depends entirely on what you want to accomplish. Different stones have different properties, but some of the most popular stones include:

  • Clear Quartz – Clears negative energy. 
  • Rose Quartz – Is the “love” stone, a great choice if you’re looking for romance.
  • Tiger Eye – Offers protection and can help to give you confidence and courage.
  • Sunstone – Combats feelings of sadness.

But do they work?
“I think it’s less about any sort of magical powers the crystals may have and more about truly identifying what you want and need. If I’m feeling blue and I carry around a Sunstone in my pocket, throughout my day I’m going to be constantly reminded that happiness is a possibility that exists in my reality–and that’s a powerful thing.”

Meditating With Crystals

Meditating can improve your sense of well-being on it’s own. It encourages you to dedicate a portion of your day to letting go of stress and worries, focusing on your breath, and just BEING.

So, if you find that meditation is benefiting you, can you throw crystals in the mix and achieve a deeper meditative state? One of my favorite yogis and meditation rockstars says, absolutely! Here’s how she does it —
“I gather up stones that represent the properties I want to focus on that day. Then, I lie down on a flat surface and place the chosen stones over my chakras. Once I’ve got everything all set up, I close my eyes and remain as still as possible.” 

Essentially, instead of just focusing on your breathing as you would with any other meditation, you also focus on the properties of each of the stones you are using. Again, as with the example above, you have physical reminders to guide your focus. As someone whose mind wanders a lot in meditation, I can see how physically feeling the weight of a rock on your chest or forehead would gently nudge you back on track.

I definitely wanna give this one a try, but balancing a bunch of stones on my body seems like a lot…
“Totally. Some people prefer to meditate sitting up or just find it easier to focus on one thing at a time. Just hold your chosen crystal in your hands as you meditate in your usual manner.”

Crystals in Writing

If you’re the type of person who likes to put pen to paper when making your plans, another application I learned about was to incorporate these written items into your crystal process. Create your lists, notes, and writing as usual.  But when doing so, write as if these plans are already so. That they’ve already happened. Write that you are doing well, that you do have what you want. Root for this energy and place crystals on top of your finished work.

“Your crystals should work like batteries, charging your positive energy. I believe this method can work for folks who are a bit more analytical…they want to sketch things out for themselves, not just attribute a certain feeling or emotion to a stone. Instead, they can create their end goal and the crystal just gives it a little turbocharge, haha!”

Don’t you just love that imagery! But, I’m wondering…would this also work for say, other types of writing?

“How do you think I got through my MFA?”

Noted.

***

Do you have crystals? Have you ever used them in the ways described above? I’d love to hear! xoxo

Cultivating a Mindset of Success

*This post may contain affiliate links.

The mind is a powerful tool.

Did you know that people who firewalk claim to use the power of thought to control feelings of pain? Indeed, your brain releases dopamine when you’re in a positive mental space, which deals actively with physical pain. Firewalkers also profess the power of meditation to calm down and achieve the ideal state of consciousness. Essentially, firewalking folks embrace the power of the mind over the body.

Of course, there is a catch… firewalking has a lot more to do with what makes a good heat conductor then what makes a good state of consciousness. The mind may not be able to eliminate third degree burns but firewalking is still a great example of what our brains ARE capable of — crowding out fears, bolstering confidence, and GOING FOR IT.

You see, you can never call yourself a firewalker, unless of course… YOU WALK ACROSS THE FIRE!

But leaving the hot coals behind, let’s consider other success stories we’d love to create with the help of our brain. With over 50% of the population feeling dissatisfied in their jobs, perhaps a successful career is high on your list. Let’s chat about it!

Because your mind can drag you down…

When you leave your mind to its own devices, it can become unreliable. You’ve probably noticed how quickly you forget facts and skills you stop using. Your brain is a muscle and lifelong learning is the best way to give it the exercise it needs to stay fit. 

Additionally, your brain is responsible for your mood, releasing endorphin and serotonin – mood-enhancing hormones – as a response to your surroundings. Unfortunately, during the cold season, the short days, freezing temperatures and overall feeling of fatigue can lead to the winter blues. You can find yourself developing a sensation of sadness if you don’t pay attention to the triggers – in winter, it might be the lack of sunlight, but each situation has different triggers. A negative mood can create barriers to success. 

Because there are things you don’t learn at school…

Your mind is filled with the knowledge you’ve gathered over the years. It’s this knowledge you apply every day at work. But there is a big difference between learning factual data and understanding the strategies that lead to success in a given industry. Networking and on-the-job experience are key for unlocking the latter.

[Related: That’s precisely why so many graduates look for positions on platforms like this one –https://gradaustralia.com.au/Graduate-Jobs-in-Western-Australia-WA. They know they need to gain experience to figure out how to best use their knowledge.]

Because success happens when you stop dreaming about it…

Most people believe that success happens to those who deserve it most. In reality, you need to just start doing the damn thing! Put your mind to it and give your dreams your best effort…instead of dreaming about your best effort. Indeed, success is a conscious decision, not an accident.

[Related: https://medium.com/swlh/success-is-a-decision-here-are-5-ways-to-make-it-happen-everyday-daded6bb7814. ]

Training your brain to attract success includes creating a strategy to engage the right opportunities, scheduling your time efficiently, and learning from your mistakes.

I can’t guarantee you won’t, at some point, get burned. But your mind is still a powerful tool for creating success in your career. Use it to:

  • stay motivated,
  • keep negativity at bay,
  • gather experience,
  • make better decisions,
  • and plan your progress!

You got this!

How do you use the power of positive thought in your life? Do you consider a mind over matter approach helpful? How do you cultivate a mindset of success?

P.S. Ready to train your brain for success? Consider A 30 DAY MANTRA CHALLENGE!!!

The 5 Part Money-Hustle

*This post may contain affiliate links.

The hustle. If you aren’t doing it at the minute, then you’re either really comfortable with your finances, or you just haven’t figured out how!

But chances are, you’re open to makin’ a bit more…or at least doin’ more with what you make. So let’s chat…

The Drive

You first need to dig deep, and find the drive to do this. If you don’t have the motivation to make more, you’re never going to do it. So, how do you tap into the motivation when you just don’t feel you have it? What if all you’re managing at the moment is the drive to come home after working as little hours as possible, and settling in with takeaway for the night? Does that not just sound like the easy life? Well, sure. But it certainly isn’t sustainable. So focus on the future life you want for yourself. What do you want your life, and the life of your family, to look like in 6 months? 5 years? 10? 

The Career

We bet that when you think of a job that pays a lot, you’re thinking about a high end job. A business owner perhaps, or a doctor. But there’s no need to box yourself in, newbie hustler. No need at all! Now that your drive is fueled by a vision of your future life, what path will your career need to take to get you there? Talk to your superiors at work about the best ways to get on this upward trajectory. Figure out what it will take and make a plan. Will you need further education? More clients? A stronger networking hustle? 

[Related: Check out Ultimate Medical Academy for a list of online courses that could put you on the right path towards a career in medicine.]

Then, consider ways to grow your side hustle, too. Who says you can’t piece together a career out of multiple parts!

The Savings

You gotta make your money work for you! You might be eating out all of the time rather than doing a weekly shop. You might be a sucker for buying designer clothes, when you already have a wardrobe full of them. Hustling means learning how to manage your money effectively. Make sure that you’re using technology to help you. There are apps out there for planning literally all points of your life, and they’re really good at planning your money, too. If you have a set budget to follow, with automated savings, it makes money managing a breeze!

The Passion

You really do need to love your work, or you’ll never fully enjoy the money you’re hustlin’ so hard to get. Now that you have your budget in order, you have a better idea of how much money you need to realistically bring in to sustain your lifestyle and set aside for the future. This allows you a bit more freedom to follow your passions, to make career decisions on more than where the money is. Remember: You need to make sure you’re actually happy earning the money. Your hustling journey continues, but now it’s about more than money…you don’t get comfortable, you just start hustling for YOURSELF. 

The Daily Grind

Finally, even at the most passion-project of jobs, work is still work. And they call it work for a reason. You’re still going to have to learn to push through the daily grind. 

[Related: Make sure to take meaningful breaks throughout your work day.]

Hone interests outside of work…pursue passions that have nothing to do with a hustle…practice self care. Happy hustlin’!

What does your current hustle look like?

Book Review: The Wine Lover’s Apprentice by Kathleen Bershad

The Wine Lover's Apprentice

As y’all may know, I am a self-professed WINERD. Of course I love drinking the stuff, but learning about wine can be just as pleasurable! Do you agree? When we were living in Miami, I even worked part-time on the occasional evening and weekend at a wine store in our neighborhood. I learned a tremendous amount about wine and the industry, and it was so much fun to interact with people from all sorts of walks of life who were so passionate about the subject.

But of course, any life-long learner will tell you there’s always room for more knowledge! Which is why, when I heard about The Wine Lover’s Apprentice: Words of Wisdom for Would-Be Oenophiles by Kathleen Bershad, I JUMPED at the chance to grab a copy.

This book decodes the world of wine so that when you encounter a wine review or a new bottle, or even a tableside aficionado, you’ll understand…and even feel enough in the know to offer your two cents!

Author Kathleen Bershad is a wonderful guide throughout. And no wonder, with over 15 years of experience in the food and wine biz, she really knows her stuff! She has worked as a food writer and restaurant reviewer and now runs her very own consulting practice – Fine Wine Concierge. She earned her Sommelier Certification from the American Sommelier Association.

The first part of the book delves into everything you need to know to consider yourself a true wine geek. Everything from tasting notes to storing to picking out the perfect bottle at a shop or restaurant.

The rest of the book is reserved for a tour of the world by way of wine regions. Starting with…

Which makes this book a perfect companion if you’re looking to expand your palate. Read up on a region, hit the wine store to stock up, and REPEAT.

What’s so wonderful about wine is that there is always a story behind each bottle. And where the wine comes from is a great starting place for that story! Before you know it, you’ll be busting out wine facts to your dinner guests like it’s nothing!

It’s Bershad’s hope that once you make it through her book, you’ll “become empowered to know what’s in a bottle, be able to make an educated guess about its flavors, and help change the culture to make drinking wine what it should be―relaxing and fun.” And I think she succeeds! Of course, I would add you should definitely make your way through the chapters with a glass of something in hand!

This book is perfect for anyone who loves trying new wines and wants to up their overall knowledge in an effort to become one step closer to a tried and true oenophile!

If that’s not you, perhaps you know someone you would classify as a WINERD. This book would make a wonderful gift! Pair it with a bottle, a beautiful stemware set, or even a lovely bottle stopper. Christmas is right around the corner!

Here’s the link one more time!

Are you a fan of wine? Do you like learning about it or just drinking it? (No judgement! haha)

My Julie/Julia Theory

Have you ever read the book Julie and Julia: My Years of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell? Or seen the movie version starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep?

In it, the eponymous Julie embarks on a daring project. She vows to prepare ALL 524 recipes in Julia Childs’ landmark cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” She then sets up a blog to document her successes and failures along the way that becomes wildly popular as her audience becomes increasingly invested in the project.

It’s a great book (and a great movie!) and ever since reading it years ago…I’ve had this theory. My Julie/Julia Theory, if you will.

I believe EVERYONE has a Julie/Julia project inside of them. Some sort of challenge they could take on and be uniquely suited for. Some journey folks would follow and find fascinating.

What do you think? WHAT WOULD YOURS BE?

Would you snap a pic of every building on the historic register in your town? Knit 100 little projects? Read all the books on the Rory Gilmore reading list?

Kind of a fun thought exercise, huh? The possibilities are endless!

While your Julie/Julia challenge may never happen…figuring out what it would be is a fun way to help identify your passions, blog niche, or a hobby worth investing in. And, if nothing else, is a neat topic of conversation for a Friday afternoon! (Go ahead…go ask your friends/co-workers what they would do!!)

What would your Julie/Julia challenge be? Do you have any fun thought experiments or theories we could explore on this lovely afternoon? Spill the beans below! 

P.S. If you enjoyed this content and would like to support my sweet blog (thank you!)–click HERE.

Great YouTube Channel for Practicing Spanish (lifelong learning FTW!)

You KNOW I’m a huge proponent of lifelong learning. Well, living in Miami these last few years offered an amazing perk in that department. I got to practice Spanish pretty much every day! Now that we’ve moved to Alabama, these daily conversations in my non-native tongue are one of the things I miss most!

While I’d love to explore other options, I know that YouTube is an amazing (and FREE) resource for language learning. I recently stumbled upon the Spanish language channel Superholly (and the accompanying Superholly English).

If you’re interested in working on your Spanish skills, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Holly’s videos.

I especially love this recent video about her upbringing across countries and languages…

(Here it is in English…)

…because my childhood also included learning foreign languages and living in foreign countries. 🙂 And I have my parents to thank for that, too.

I also really enjoyed binge watching this series about Nahuatl…

How do you practice foreign languages as an adult? Do you ever use YouTube for immersion purposes? I’d love to hear!

P.S. YouTube channels for travel inspo and lifelong ballerinas!