Posted in Health, Wellness

Friday Favorite (aka Where I blabber about what I love): Hiking

The weather is hot and dry. The grass is making the girl’s eyes water and her throat itchy. She pulls on her grape bubblegum shorts. Her paper white unicorn shirt with rainbow hearts and cap sleeves doesn’t have dirt on it yet. She looks at the ladybug crawling up a dandelion. “Stephanie! Look alive!” The girl “humphed” in reply. Her coach signaled at her, pointing to the middle of the field. God she hated soccer.

I was not sporty or athletic growing up. I sucked at soccer as a child even though I played for eight years. I think it was a combination of being awkward, clumsy, and not wanting to play. Like Danny Zuko, I am not a team sports person (this also could be said about life in general). I was the cliché student that got picked last for P.E. If there was a game going on and I was walking nearby, there was a 99.99999% chance that a flying ball would hit me in the head. I still duck at sporting events.

Fast forward to my late 20s. I decided to try yoga due to carpel tunnel syndrome in both of my hands. It worked and I found that I loved pushing my body by stretching. Five years after that I started cardio. I don’t love it but it helped me maintain my weight after I had kids. Add running and Pilates as a last ditch effort to stop aging before my 40th birthday and I now have a well rounded regimen of exercising.

All of this has helped me become strong and fit. But I don’t clap my hands in glee when I am about to workout. When my family and I went hiking behind our neighborhood last October, I thought it would be a small workout and I would have to still run and do yoga after wards. But we all found that we really liked it. We all came home filthy and I didn’t care (okay, maybe a little). We have gone to Joshua Tree and Walker Canyon since then and I find myself wanting to vacation at National Parks like Yellowstone and Zion (preferably before the current dumbass administration destroys them).

Joshua Tree 1

I hope you have a go to list of things that make you happy and you get to enjoy them over the weekend. Thanks for reading!

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Posted in Pop Culture, Word Therapy

Woman Crush Wednesday: Elisabeth Moss

Zoey Bartlet. Peggy Olson. Robin. All of these ladies are characters that Elisabeth Moss has brought to life and left an impression on viewers of The West Wing, Mad Men, and Top of the Lake. She has also stood out in films like The One I Love and Queen of Earth. With her new Hulu TV show The Handmaid’s Tale based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel debuting at the end of April, I want you to see why Elisabeth Moss is one of my lady crushes.

I discovered Miss Moss when I watched Aaron Sorkin’s political drama The West Wing. The show chronicled Martin Sheen as President Bartlet and his administration. Elisabeth played his daughter Zoey. Her part was not a large one but every time she was on camera she demanded your attention with her toughness and intelligence. When she began a relationship with one of her dad’s staff members, Charlie Young (Dule Hill), I fell in love with him and rooted for their relationship because of her.

I didn’t watch Mad Men along with the rest of America on AMC when it aired from 2007-2015. I binged it the summer of 2015 and kicked myself for waiting so long. Jon Hamm is the dreamy but kind of an asshole Don Draper, Christina Hendricks is the gorgeous and standoffish Joan Harris, and Elisabeth Moss is our every girl Peggy Olson. We watch Peggy start at the bottom of ad agency Sterling Cooper as Don’s secretary. By the time we say goodbye to her at the end of the show it is the beginning of the 1970s, Peggy is a well respected ad executive and she finally admits to herself that she is in love with Stan (Jay R. Ferguson). Moss made Peggy a woman that we could relate to but also admired. When she stumbled we cringed but understood when she made the wrong choices. When she stood up in a room full of men and made her voice heard, I wanted to pump my fist in the air. When I first tried to watch the show when it aired, I couldn’t get past how Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) talked to Peggy in the first episode. His chauvinism made my skin crawl. I now know that Peggy only put up with that for so long and showed him how fierce she could be.

In Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake, Elisabeth plays Robin. She is a police detective who has come home to take care of her sick mother. The show is set in New Zealand and Moss nails the subtlety of the accent. The story is a dark affair with her getting involved on the case of a missing pregnant teen. Robin’s personal life is crumbling around her so she does what she shouldn’t: She ignores her estranged fiance and falls back into the arms of her ex, Johnno (Thomas M. Wright, unrecognizable from his role on The Bridge), fights with her mom, and takes on the local family of criminals who are connected to the missing girl. Robin’s face disguises everything she is feeling but her eyes can’t hide the pain she is enduring. Top of the Lake is a showcase for the actress and she gifts us with a performance that even outshines fellow cast member Oscar winner Holly Hunter.

Two movies of Elisabeth’s that have flown under the radar are The One I Love and Queen of Earth. The One I Love is about a married couple having problems and getting away to a cabin at the recommendation of their therapist (Ted Danson). Elisabeth plays Sophie and is married to Ethan (Mark Duplass). What happens shortly after they arrive at the cabin would give away the twist so I will just say that the story has stayed with me since I saw it last year. Moss’s Sophie is hurting and reacts by being bitchy and pushing Ethan away. Anybody that has been in a long term relationship can relate to the moments these two endure. Queen of Earth I found on many best of lists and decided to give it a try after seeing that it had a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. When I saw that it had a 1 star rating by a user on Netflix, I realized this wasn’t going to be a fun weekend with best friends kind of movie. And that is an understatement. Elisabeth and Katherine Waterston play Catherine and Virginia. Their friendship is toxic. Their conversations are mostly them hurling insults or calling each other out on bad behavior. Catherine has just lost her father to a car accident and her boyfriend has dumped her. Virginia’s family is never fully explained except that they are not good people. Catherine looks like a doll with a shaggy blonde bob, crystal blue eyes, and a small eagle nose. She is cute and sexy. Virginia is her opposite. She is tall and thin with straight long brown hair. She gives ominous stares that remind you of Samara from The Ring. They are at Virginia’s family’s cabin. The aesthetic has a 70s glow but it is meant to unnerve, not comfort. It is reminiscent of Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock. The film follows Catherine’s breakdown and begs more questions than answers. Moss’s performance is what kept me watching as the film can be tedious and sometimes painful to watch. Nobody is likeable (even co-star Patrick Fugit, who I still adore from Almost Famous). I know all of this isn’t a ringing endorsement for the movie but I can honestly say I experienced it because of  Elisabeth.

Elisabeth Moss has gone from Zoey Bartlet to her new role as Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale over the past 18 years. She can play sexy, smart, bitchy, quiet, etc. All of these women have one characteristic in common: They are all powerful. I can’t wait for April 26th to watch her bring to life the main character from one of my all time favorite books. And I hope this makes you want to check out at least one of her many roles.

*All of these shows and both movies are available on Netflix

Posted in Pop Culture, Word Therapy

March is the New July (Throwback Post)

You guys. I know a lot about movies. So much that I don’t mind be called a movie snob. I have watched enough that if Blockbuster was still around, I would be THAT person approaching customers and telling them what they should be watching. I want everybody I talk to to feel the joy that I experienced watching Sing Street. Or the heartbreak that came with The Dark Knight (my most favorite superhero film). Or the terror I felt when the hubby and I watched Babadook. I like to feel the gambit of emotions when I watch film. It’s an addiction.

Four years ago I decided to write a post about how March is the New July. More and more the month of the beginning of Spring was featuring films that could be blockbusters outside of summer. The Hunger Games debuted in March of 2012, continuing the YA film craze that Twilight started. Other films such as Alice in Wonderland and Watchmen made a lot at the box office, defying predictions.

Movies premiering in March of 2013 showed a lot of promise. Oz the Great and Powerful with James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Michelle Williams showed fantastic visuals, some humor, and a spin on a classic story. Jack the Giant Slayer was directed by Bryan Singer and starred Nicholas Hoult. And last but not least, The Host. The Host was a YA book written by Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame. I had read the book and loved it. I was excited for all three films and predicted they would do great. I should have kept my big mouth shut.

Two of the three films ended with awful reviews. Jack the Giant Slayer currently has a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it Rotten on the Fresh/Rotten Scale. The Host is at 8%. The final summarized review for The Host said it had “moments of intentional hilarity” in it. OUCH. Oz the Great and Powerful fared the best at 59%. Oz was the only one I dared to watch. It was also the only one that did well at the box office. Mila Kunis is a little too over the top, James Franco is just not strong enough to be Oz, and Michelle Williams is at her meekest (but looks gorgeous in the costumes). It was disappointing at best. I tried watching Jack the Giant Slayer on cable and it didn’t hold my attention. And I didn’t even attempt The Host for fear that it would ruin the book for me. Since then I haven’t tried to predict what movies will do well other than the obvious: Marvel, Star Wars, and DC (no matter how awful it is).

When I saw the March line up for this year, I was excited. But I didn’t want to get TOO excited. Logan looked like a completely different type of X-Men movie, but in a good way. Kong: Skull Island showed potential. Beauty and the Beast is directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) and stars Miss Hermione Granger herself, Emma Watson. And at the end of the month is Power Rangers.

I so wanted to do a new post but didn’t want to jinx these movies. Logan got awesome reviews and kicked ass at the box office. This past weekend Kong also made a lot of money. I have no doubt that Beauty and the Beast will do great. But the movie I am excited for the most and also worried for is Power Rangers.

Remember how awful the Power Rangers show was? I do. I never thought in a million years that I would be excited for a movie about them. But then I saw the trailer. It looked fun, the cast are cute and charismatic, and Bill Hader and Bryan Cranston are with the good guys. But the best part? Elizabeth Banks as villainess, Rita Repulsa. She looks campy and scary, Effie Trinket’s evil alien twin sister. The more over the top she is, the better.

So I will be sitting here with my fingers and toes crossed, waiting for that move review embargo to be lifted and hope that Power Rangers gets the love I want it to receive.

Posted in Pop Culture, Word Therapy

Friday Favorite (aka Where I blabber about what I love): Cool and Wow television

Since the beginning of the apocalypse on November 9th, life hasn’t been as fun. Christmas didn’t have its usual joy, every day activities like exercising feel like work, and that bubble is still lingering. One of my favorite things to do, watch television, has lost its appeal. Sitcoms aren’t as funny, I can’t bring myself to care about Rick and the gang anymore, one of my favorites broke my heart (I’m looking at you Jane the Virgin), and even Samantha Bee and her rants don’t leave me feeling energized. But over the past few weeks two shows have caught my attention: Planet Earth II and Legion. And with that my first world problems have gotten a little smaller.

I always want to have a show that my family can watch together. But with school, activities, jobs, and electronics, it is practically impossible to sit down and watch a show (we sit down for dinner at least four nights a week and I take that as a win). So when I sat down to watch the first episode of Planet Earth II and the kiddos joined me, I was ecstatic. The first episode focused on islands and its inhabitants. There were 3 toed sloths and penguins. But the best moment was the three of us watching an iguana trying to escape a gang of snakes. We were all on our feet, squealing and jumping up and down, hoping the reptile doesn’t get caught. Every episode is a new location with animals and insects aplenty. It is the best kind of reality show where I can’t stop saying, “That is so cool!”

Legion is a show for my husband and I. The creator is Noah Hawley, who is also behind the FX show Fargo. It is the story of David Haller (Dan Stevens), a man who thinks he has schizophrenia. He finds out that he actually has super powers and might be the most powerful mutant alive. Jean Smart is his therapist. Aubrey Plaza, Rachel Keller, and Jermaine Clement also make up the cast. I sit and watch but also can’t stop whispering, “Wow!” The show is confusing like Westworld. You don’t know if what you’re watching is David’s reality or his imagination. After a while I stop trying to figure it out and just enjoy the visuals, performances, and the pieces of the puzzle being laid out for us. There is no show to compare it to, which I love. If you are looking for something different and want your mind blown, Legion is the show to watch.

I hope you have a go to list of things that make you happy and you get to enjoy them over the weekend. Thanks for reading!

Posted in Bookworm, Word Therapy

Spoilers: When Your Favorite Character Dies

My daughter is on the last one hundred pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this week. It has been rough. She was able to handle those deaths from the previous installments. She was outraged when she started Deathly Hallows and a beloved pet and teacher were killed. By the next day she was okay. But ever since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, my girl has become obsessed with the Weasley family (who can blame her?). Ginny is Scarlet’s favorite. Ron is the brother she wishes she had (she does she just hasn’t given him a chance yet). But the girl has turned her adoration to twins Fred and George in the past month. And with that I knew the death that would devastate her.

Even though I have read many books since I was a kid, I don’t remember many character deaths that had an impact on me. Maybe there weren’t a lot. Between the Ramona books, Judy Blume, and V.C. Andrews, there were little to no deaths (yes, people died in Flowers in the Attic but that book had so many wrong things going on it was hard to focus on just the deaths). Then I started reading the Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal. Character Regina Morrow was the first book character death that hit hard and has stayed with me 25 years later.

The Sweet Valley High series is the story of twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield who are high schoolers that live in a sunny California town. Elizabeth is the conscientious and sweet girl while Jessica is the fun and gossipy one. They have a large group of friends. In the story On the Edge, one of them is Regina Morrow, a beautiful, wealthy girl. She is kind and close to Elizabeth. She dates Bruce Patman, who is known for being a douche. When Bruce decides to dump Regina to go out with someone else, she takes it hard. She goes to a party where she does cocaine and it leads to her death. Her dying left me numb I was so shocked. I read these books to escape and for enjoyment. I didn’t expect the darkness that came in just a moment. All this time has passed and I still remember that feeling.

Scarlet Harry PotterWhen Scarlet read that Harry Potter death, she came to me the next day with tears in her eyes and told me he had died. I told her how sorry I was and cried with her. After a few minutes I was able to tell her that out of all the deaths in the Harry Potter world, his death was the one J.K. Rowling regrets the most. This made her feel a little better. But I also know his death will stay with her and remind her how much she cared about him and this fictional world.

Posted in Word Therapy

Friday Favorite (aka Where I blabber about what I love): Finding Neverland

Phantom of the Opera was the first professional musical I attended. My considerate high school boyfriend took me to the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles as a surprise. I was a theater nerd. I was in every show at my school. I did small parts (a dancing poppy and cyclone in Wizard of Oz) and big parts (Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins). As a teen who felt so out of place, theater gave me a home. I dressed up for the show. I wore my ankle length, cream, flowered button down dress with white kitten heels, in true 90s fashion. I was amazed and overwhelmed by the production. To this day I still get goosebumps when I hear the cast recording.

Since then I have been lucky enough to see shows like Lion King, Wicked, and Mama Mia! And every time I cry, clap like a seal, and feel a yearning to be a part of the cast. But instead of running out and joining our local theater group, I have introduced my kids to musicals.

It started with Hamilton last January. They took to it quickly and with so much enthusiasm that they know the songs better than I do. And with hopefully a little luck we will be able to see the show when it comes to the Pantages in August.

This past Sunday the family and I went to see Finding Neverland at the Pantages. I knew they would enjoy the show but didn’t expect the joy it would bring me to watch them. As corny as it sounds, the term “heart sings” popped into my head as Scarlet moved forward in her seat to watch, listen, and feel the music. She couldn’t stop looking at me with a big smile, not unlike when we saw Lego Batman. It may have had something to do with the fact that she loved Peter Pan as a toddler. At the end of the show while the crowd was giving the actors a standing ovation, she asked me, “Can we watch that over and over? Please?!” It didn’t matter to her that we were in the last row of the theater (she actually said when we sat down, “Our seats are so good!”). It didn’t matter that we were crammed into our seats like sardines. Or that she had to pee during the second act. It was like taking a child to Disneyland for the first time and all the wide eyed goodness. It was a memory that I will hold onto forever. Now I have to figure out how to get season tickets….

finding-neverland

I hope you have a go to list of things that make you happy and you get to enjoy them over the weekend. Thanks for reading!