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Introducing my spiritual masters.

Broadway playwright and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Broadway playwright and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

A few months ago, I was listening to the “Happier” podcast hosted by Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. In each episode, they offer a tip you can try at home that might make your daily life a little happier.

In one episode, their tip was to “Imitate a spiritual master”, basically someone you can look to for guidance, or perhaps someone that can inspire you when you need a little push. I’d never really though about having a spiritual leader, but Elizabeth said hers was Barbra Walters.

Uh, yes! I’d always thought it would have to be someone like Ghandi or the Dalai Lama (both would be fantastic spiritual leaders).

Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about who my spiritual masters are, especially in these times – I have a feeling I’m going to be looking to them a lot. So, I made a list:

Lin-Manuel Miranda

“Hamilton” creator and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda was the FIRST person I put on my list of spiritual masters. Frankly, he’s so freakin’ awesome, I think I could have a list of JUST him.

Yesterday, the Oscar nominations were announced, and Miranda is nominated for Best Original Song. Not only is it just another thing that makes him cooler, but it puts him closer to something only few can dream of: an EGOT – a rare title one gets after winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Damn.

As mentioned in a New York Times article, “Mr. Miranda has two Grammys, one for the cast recording to his 2008 Broadway musical “In the Heights” and another for his smash hit “Hamilton.” He has personally won three Tony awards (and his musicals have collected many more). He won an Emmy for his work on the music and lyrics at the 2013 Tony award show.”

So why is Miranda one of my spiritual masters? Aside from being a wildly talented writer and performer that I can look up to, what I look up to most about him is his attitude. He’s willing to speak openly about his political views, but remain positive on a daily basis.

Seriously, when you’re in need of guidance, just go to his Twitter feed @Lin_Manuel and get a dose of sunshine.

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Issa Rae

I first heard of Ms. Issa Rae on the HBO series “Insecure”, which premiered in the fall of last year. I pretty much loved the pilot episode and couldn’t get enough of it after that. Little did I know that Issa was more than just an actress on the show.

After graduating from Stanford and attending the New York Film Academy, Issa had started to build her reputation as a screenwriter and a video producer. She created a series on YouTube, “Awkward Black Girl”, that has more than 200,000 subscribers.

The fantastic and gorgeous, Issa Rae.

The fantastic and gorgeous, Issa Rae.

She later turned her web series into a book (which I am currently on a waiting list for at the library), and it quickly became a New York Times bestseller. And then HBO came a-knockin’ and she actually was given a budget to turn her YouTube series into a hit on network television.

She da-bomb! Yeah, I just said that. She’s beautiful, hilarious, and sharp as hell – I cannot help but look up to this woman.

“It’s a bit cliche, but you can’t go wrong by writing what you know. Even if you’re a horrible writer, your own knowledge and experience is unrivaled. Nobody knows what you know like you know what you know. The way you see things is pretty unique.” – Issa Rae

Trevor Noah

I know I can’t be the only one that’s basically looking to comedian and host of “The Daily Show”, Trevor Noah to guide us through the next four years. I’ve limited my new coverage to 10 minutes of “TODAY” each morning, and then leave it up to Trevor to pick up the pieces each night before bed.

Born in South Africa, Noah comes from a very interesting background which he talks about in his book, “Born a Crime“, and serves as a lense for his unique sense of humor.

One of my biggest concerns in the coming years is how the press is going to handle it all (aside from that whole nuclear thing). We need journalists who are going to be blunt, and check the President on everything. And Noah just so happens to do it with a laugh.

“We get angry about the small things sometimes, I feel, so that we feel like we’re doing something, so that we don’t have to tackle the big things. And it’s fine; let people do that. But I’m not gonna now change because of that. You know? Like, the worst thing that happens to me is you don’t like me. And then what?” -Trevor Noah

Anna Kendrick

I didn’t really get the craze surrounding Anna Kendrick until I read her memoir, “Scrappy Little Nobody” last week… and I loved it. Of course, she was awesome in”Pitch Perfect”, but I had no clue she’s been working her little butt off since she was 12!

The lovely Anna Kendrick.

The lovely Anna Kendrick.

Not only does she have drive, but she’s hilarious, humble, and has a “take it or leave it” attitude when it comes to men and dating, which is just the kind of advice I need from a spiritual master.

“Maybe I am stepping up in the world. Pretty soon I’m going to be 30 and making dope carrot soup and will have my sh-t together.” – Anna Kendrick

JohnJay Van Es

I can’t have a list of spiritual masters without including JohnJay Van Es, co-host of the best radio show ever, “JohnJay and Rich”.

While I know cohosts of the show, Rich and Kyle, would get a big kick out of my trusting of JohnJay with my spiritual guidance, but I’ll explain. I started listening to the show years ago, during a time when my job was pretty rough.

JohnJay Van Es.

JohnJay Van Es.

I found daily solace in listening to their jokes, phone pranks, and the simple chatter of small problems. Little did I know, I was about to lose my job, and when I did, I kept listening to the show. It was sometimes the only thing I looked forward to each day.

Years later, I am still listening every day, and I love laughing along with JohnJay as he tells the stories from his insane life. He’s also the creator of a kindness movement, LoveUp, which promotes random acts of kindness of all sizes, each and every day. It’s changed how I look at the world, and I can’t thank him enough.

There you have it! I’d love to know who your spiritual masters are these days – who knows, maybe I’ll add them to my list!

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Podcasts I’ve been listening to.

Time to put in the headphones.

Time to put in the headphones.

I’ll be honest with you, I thought the podcast was dead. Remember when they first came out? If not, it was 2004, and McDonald’s (yummm) was the first to utter the word via print publication (The Guardian newspaper). Podcasts debuted in conjunction with iPods, because people were using their iPods to listen to and create podcasts. According to iTunes, there are more than 250,000 unique podcasts with more than 8 million episodes (just in the iTunes store).

Over the years, I’ve heard about people listening to this podcast or that one, but I never understood when people had time to listen to these podcasts? In their car? I have XM, so that’s not happening.

But, now that I work in an open office environment, I get it. There is absolutely no way I can concentrate with all of the chaos that happens in my office. There’s meetings, phone conferences, and that noise I’ve grown to hate: the click-clacking of a keyboard. Not a laptop keyboard; you know the ones with the tall, fat keys? I. Hate. That. Noise. Especially when the space bar is slammed down. Errgghhhhh.

So, headphones it is. At first, I listened to the same exact podcast for 8 hours a day. But that quickly got old, so I ventured out to find suitable listening content. And here is what I found:

jjrThe Johnjay and Rich Show – This “podcast” is the exact same content from the Johnjay and Rich radio show, but all of the music and commercials are cut out so you just get the “straight poop” as the guys say. If you haven’t listened to them yet, you need to get on it, TODAY.

Every day they have at least one phone call bust of some sort, whether it be dating-related, calling out a coworker, or this week, they’re starting their “Spring Break Busts”. You also get the quick scoop on celebrity gossip from host #3, Kyle, and a slew of other random bits, including but not limited to “I knew it was over when…” (the moment you knew a relationship was over), “First World Problems”, and “Things I’ll never do again after this weekend…”.

The Jillian Michaels’ Show – I really never understood the craze around Jillian Michaels when she was a trainer on “The Biggest Loser”, as I never watched the show. But, somehow I recently became addicted to her show on E!, “Just Jillian” and she’s blunt and bitchy (much like my kitty Blanche) and I completely love it. So, I looked into her podcast after seeing her record an episode on the TV show.

The podcast is about half fitness and dieting, half other stuff, such as resolving life’s issues, bullying in schools, relationship problems, and politics. It’s casual, and usually pretty funny.

What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel

podcast-banner-1440-HiResI’ll be honest, I’m not 100% sure who Anne Bogel is. I came across this podcast after I’d listened to all of the Johnjay and Rich archives, as well as The Jillian Michaels’ archives. I was in desperate need for something new to listen to, and this one was listed in the “Top Charts” of iTunes for podcasts.

I pretty much instantly fell in love with this podcast. Each episode features one guest, who tells Anne about three of their favorite books (and why), along with one book they hate, and why. They also discuss if there’s anything they want to “change in their reading life”. Based off all of this information, Anne gives them three title recommendations for what they should read next – it’s a great way to get book ideas!

CRS-8886_ModernLoveButtonThe New York Times: Modern Love – Produced by WBUR, the Modern Love podcast is based off the very popular (and uh-mazing) weekly column in The New York Times, managed by Daniel Jones, who also co-hosts this podcast. If I had to pick one dream, one SINGLE dream to come true, it would be to have a column published as the Modern Love column. Seriously. Dream.

Anyway, the podcast features a celebrity reading one of the columns, and then they talk to the person that wrote the column, and get the backstory, and/or catch up on things that have happened since the column was published. It’s a mellow, and very interesting podcast.

Manrepeller: Oh Boy – Manrepeller has remained one of my favorite blogs for the last five years or so; and I was excited when she, Leandra Medine, the founder of Manrepeller, announced they were going to start hosting podcasts.

The host, Jay, sits down with fairly well-known celebs and entrepreneurs, and his interviews are usually interesting as hell, since they are casual and nothing is off the table. Past guests of Oh Boy include Amy Odell, Stacy London, Whitney Cummings, and Alexa Chung, among many others.

Manrepeller: Monocycle – From the same, fabulous blog, Leandra Medine brings us Monocycle, which is just her, and it’s typically about 10-20 minutes long. That’s it. It really is just Leandra and she’s musing about something on her mind, and I’m not sure why, but I absolutely love it. Possibly because she thinks about things that don’t often cross my mind, and she has a nice voice.

Got podcasts you love to listen to? I’d love to get more ideas – after all, I’ve got 8 hours a day to kill in terms of listening, so bring it on!

Pic of the Week.

I'm old school with the radio.

I’m old school with the radio.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a new morning radio show had taken over one of the stations I listened to (104.1 New Orleans). The show was a syndicate, Johnjay and Rich.

It’s two guys and a girl, and the show revolves around calling people, although each day, it’s a different bit.

  • Monday: Machaca — This is any reason to call someone that doesn’t fall under the categories of the other days. In the past, they’ve called someone pretending to need a job reference to see what the person would say.
  • Tuesday: Second Date Update — Someone calls in, they’ve had a great first date, and can’t figure out why there’s no second date, so Johnjay and Rich call and get the scoop.
  • Wednesday: Humpday Dumpday — Someone gets dumped, and doesn’t know why, so Johnjay and Rich call and find out the real reason for the dumping (are you catching a trend?).
  • Thursday: War of the Roses — This is their signature show. Someone calls in, suspects their partner is cheating on them, so Johnjay and Rich call, disguised as a flower shop saying “Congrats, you just won a dozen free roses, who should we deliver them to?” And they either get a bust, or the person delivers them to the original caller.
  • Friday: Fiance Friday — Very similar to War of the Roses, only they call saying “You won a free couples massage” and obviously, it’s an engaged couple involved.

I really love the Machaca, because it’s always something different, and the theme song gets stuck in my head. But my all-time favorite show is Second Date Update, I think probably because that’s where I’m at in my dating life right now… just going on a lot of first dates (not saying that’s a bad thing).

But really, all of the shows are enjoyable, and often shocking. Sometimes I wonder if the calls are staged, but I kind of feel the same way about that as I do about all the reality television I watch: as long as it’s entertaining, I don’t care how “real” it is.

The point of this is all to say, that these past few weeks, this show is what’s been getting me to work on time! As sad as that sounds, the shows usually start about 20 minutes before I need to be at the office — just enough time for me to get there. It makes for a pleasant drive to work, and I can get a good laugh in before my work day begins.

Once I get into work, I listen to the rest of the show using my “I Heart Radio” app. And no, I wasn’t paid to say any of this, but if someone from the Johnjay and Rich Show ever reads this, I would DIE to be a guest.

Find out if a station near you plays the show, and/or check out their podcast, or listen live on their website!