When was the last time you did something that mattered to you?

I mean really mattered.

It could be something incredibly simple or something that matters enough to shake your core.  For me, I realized today, I’m lacking in the core-shaking department.

I drove to Sioux City for work today.  It was a gorgeous day for a three-hour drive west in my uber-posh Detroit dream-machine rental.  I had the windows cracked and some Portugal. The Man. on the radio.  I was about an hour outside of Sioux City when I started to smell the smell.  Now, anyone that’s spent any time in Iowa knows what I’m talking about.  (They say in Iowa corn is king but let me tell you that meat has an equal share of the kingdom.)  It was the sickening sweet meat smell from the processing plants that are situated across the state.  In fact, sometimes when the wind is right I can smell it outside my apartment floating over from the east side.  After rolling up my windows, I thought about what might happen at those places.  It disgusts me to consider it.  Yet I’ll go into a restaurant and order a burger that probably started its voyage to my plate the very same way.

Like most of the personal revelations that make their way to this blog, it translates to my life as a whole.  I can’t remember the last time I stood up for something that mattered to me.  I can’t remember the last time I put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.  You all know the kind of woman I want to be, so when did I stop chasing those dreams?  A younger Ryan was a vegetarian in personal protest to animal treatment—and I stayed that way for five years (I wasn’t PETA-level crazy, guys).  It became part of who I was.  Eventually (probably for reasons of convenience and lack of proper protein) I went back to eating meat and tried not to think too much about where it came from.

My parents (all three of them) always taught me that I could do whatever I wanted.  They gave me love no matter what I decided to do.  They were on my side when I did well in school, when I was too lazy to care in college, when I was unemployed, when I moved to Cincinnati to go to school cause it seemed like a good idea and every subsequent endeavor whether it be success or failure.  They never made me feel like there was something I couldn’t do.  As a consequence, I think it’s taught me to love everything.  I don’t have just one dream, I have many, many dreams.  I think it’s left me in a constant neutral state as an adult.  Instead of mastering just one thing and pursuing just that thing with my whole heart, I pursue many things with 1/4 of my heart.

I know too much about the things that do matter to me to ever feign ignorance.  I know too much about food and I have very strong feelings about it, I know too much about exercise and the human body and eating right but I still offer myself the best of excuses as to why it’s okay not to live it out, I know too much about living whole-heartedly and being vulnerable yet I still choose to hold myself back; I struggle with the just do.  I read a blog post recently by someone I really admire.  She said “how you do anything is how you do everything.”  I have been kicking that around and turning it over since reading that, trying to find how that fits and resonates in my life.  And it does.  I always thought my life was waiting to happen.  That things would really get going for me when I found my purpose.  And as all of you good people may already know, I learned that my life is happening now.  So if I follow the “how you do anything is how you do anything” principle, how I procrastinate about the minutiae of life is how I treat my life as a whole; how I treat most days is (in reality) how I treat all the days.  I want that thought to light the motivation fire that I’ve spent so much time lamenting the loss of.

So that takes me back to where I started… when was the last time you did something that really mattered to you?  Is that something you think about when making decisions—is this something that matters to me?  I know that for me, I’m going to have to keep that top of mind and chase those things.  It doesn’t come as naturally to me as it might to you but it’s a noble pursuit to chase it.


stuff I love: music edition

I can’t even believe that for as much as I love music, I have yet to do a music-related blog entry.  I finally feel like I have some decent music taste so why not share it with you all?  (That was a little backhanded compliment to me, from me—did you see what I did there…)

I am drawn to music that I wouldn’t be able to make myself.  Granted, I can’t make music at all but I’m really drawn to the nuances in songs that take it from being only okay to being something truly magical.  Spotify is pretty much the best invention ever (I say that a lot, I think).  It completely changed the way I listen to music.  I used to have to rely on friends and the old standby, NPR, to find good new music.  While NPR is still trusty, Spotify recommends obscure bands that I may not have found on my own (and when I say “on my own” what I really mean is Under the Radar Magazine).  If you don’t have Spotify, I highly recommend you get it.  I happily pay for my subscription every month so I can listen to it outside wi-fi (like at work).  The picks below are just some of the songs/bands that would show up on my top plays because they’re on constantly.


From the top:

Haerts – Their song “Wings” has pretty much been on repeat since I found it.  It’s produced by St. Lucia (whom I love) and there’s the perfect mix of 80’s pop and synthy-electronic.  I don’t normally get into girl singers (cause I hold them to a higher standard when it comes to music – their voices all sound the same to me) but this girl is a mixture of The Bangles and Gwen Stefani.  I am really into it and I can’t wait till they release an EP or a full-length album because I want more!

Bronze Radio Return – Up, On & Over.  Amaze.  I can listen to this entire album which is a rarity for me.  They have a great mixture of twang, tambourine and banjo without being country.  It’s easily my go-to when I’m at work and I want something fun.

Pacific Air – I don’t remember how I found them.  I decided to give a listen recently and have been playing it often since.  I think it was the song Sunshine that converted me.  They’re kind of My Morning Jacket meets Temper Trap.


The National – Obvi this had to be on here.  I started playing High Violet two years too late, so to say I eagerly anticipated this album would be an understatement.  Trouble Will Find me is the perfect follow up to an album I enjoyed so well.  I can’t stop listening to Humiliation and I Should Live in Salt (and Demons).  I think if I ever met Matt Berninger, I’d ask him what the heck he’s singing about.  I never have any idea.  For example, I recently read that Humiliation is about drones ruining a dinner party — I would have never guessed that.  Whether I know what he’s singing about or not, I love the melancholy sound and Matt Berninger’s baritone; it compliments the music, which itself is unfussy and stands on its own beautifully.


Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams.  This is another indie-country album that I can listen to from beginning to end.  There are a few surprises (the percussion is a really nice touch) and it just makes this album solid.

Fitz & the Tantrums – Okay, okay—I know all the cool kids have been listening to Fitz forevs but I’m just now getting on that train.  It’s a super fun summer album.  The Walker is heavy on repeat around here.  In the car with the windows down, in the apt while I’m cleaning; it’s catchy and gets stuck in my head.  Listen to it.

The Neighbourhood – Album: I Love You. Thank you NPR for this one!  Sweater Weather was the first song I heard and it’s probably number two in my Spotify top plays (after Wings, of course).  This album is hard to describe.  It doesn’t sound like anything I’ve listened to in a while cause it’s kind of hip-hop meets indie pop.  It’s produced really well and I was really surprised to like this album as much as I do.  Try it out so you can say you got in on the ground floor.

Jeff Buckley – Oldie but always good.  Grace is an album I can revisit time and time again—and I have recently.  Lover, You Should Have Come Over may be one of the best songs written (I know saying that is a tall order).  He just sings it with such conviction (as he does most of the songs on the album), raw passion and honesty.  Jeff Buckley was a huge talent and it’s easy to hear why.