Sylvan Points at Stuff: Favorite YouTube Channels

Been a while since I pointed at anything, so let’s have some videos!  

I am a woman of odd enthusiasms, as are, I imagine, many of my readers.  Looking at the channels I subscribe to on YouTube or the Instagrams I follow would be pretty instructive to those trying to figure me out – just, um, don’t read too much into my Tumblr, I’m really not *that* into gay porn.

I think the entire internet just gave me this face:

While Instagram for me is mostly pretty things and food, however, I actually use my YouTube for some practical purposes, including getting the hell to sleep.  I follow a number of meditation music channels and ASMR-related channels to help my anxiety and help me sleep, so they make up a significant chunk of what you’d see on my feed.  I also have several art-related folk I follow, particularly devoted to art journaling and the like, and remarkably few planner-related bloggers, although I used to follow a bunch. A lot of planner-related channels pay way more attention to things like dieting than I really want to hear about, not to mention some of the ones I used to really enjoy have stopped updating (the eternal YouTube struggle).

Here then are some of my favorite YouTube channels, in no particular order.  I’m not listing some of the more obvious ones, like Maru – I wanted to point out YouTubers you might not have heard of.

ASMR Rooms

This channel is brilliant – the creator has built a variety of “rooms” that are basically soundscapes, combining nature sounds, ambient sounds, occasionally voices, and the background noise of a particular location.  In this example she’s captured the Ravenclaw Common Room at Hogwarts, but she’s done rooms from Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Hobbit, and others.  They’re all incredibly soothing and evocative.

Peaceful Cuisine

Another ASMR-ish sort of channel, this one combines lovely cooking noises with vegan recipes.  There are usually two versions of each recipe, one with music and one just with the cooking sounds so you can listen as you watch.  I’ve always found cooking sounds – like dicing, pouring, and stirring – really soothing, and the videos are beautifully shot.  The creator is Japanese and occasionally appears on camera but the emphasis is always on the food and the process of prep and cooking.

YellowBrick Cinema – Relaxing Music

A prolific channel for meditation and relaxation music.  They post at least once a day.  Some of their posts are classical music, some acoustic, some ambient, and they range from 15 minutes to 6 hours in length.  There are also videos meant to help soothe babies to sleep, and music for reiki and healing practices.

Vicky Papaioannou

Vicky is one of my favorite art/craft YouTubers, partly because of her wonderful Greek accent, partly because I enjoy the bright exuberance of her style, and partly because her cat Ginger makes periodic appearances walking around on her work table.  I’m not into making handmade cards, but I enjoy watching her try new techniques and show off new supplies, and her art journals are a totally different style from what I originally found online.  It’s obvious how much she loves doing what she does.  

Yoga With Adriene

Adriene is from right here in ATX, which was my impetus for clicking on her “beginners’ yoga” video when I was tooling around YouTube looking for videos to start playing with.  I loved her almost immediately – her teaching style is a good combination of woo-woo and pragmatic, asking students to meet themselves where they are and “find what feels good.”

She’s definitely not a plus-sized yogini, and there are a couple of weight loss videos on her channel, but she typically doesn’t bring up that sort of thing unless that’s the subject of the video.  Since that’s not what I’m there for, I just steer clear of those and stick with what inspires me.  She has videos that focus on all sorts of needs, from yoga for your back and shoulders, to yoga for swimmers or cyclists, yoga for migraines, anger management, yoga for those in wheelchairs, you name it.  There are also meditations and some videos that focus on getting deeper into a particular pose.

I also love her dog Benji.  You know you’re watching an Austin yoga video when the teacher’s dog is in it.

Molly Roberts: HerSpeak

A relative newcomer to my lineup, I happened across Molly when looking for meditations, and I don’t know if it’s her voice, her enthusiasm, or just her flat out adorableness, but I was hooked.  I’m planning to go back to the beginning of her channel and watch anything that sounds appealing.

Molly’s a Pagan YouTuber, and does videos on magick, ritual, and some of my favorite subjects:  BoS/Grimoirekeeping and altar building.  To be perfectly honest it had never occurred to me to look for BoS tours and altar show-and-tell the way I’ve watched planner-walkthrough videos, and how could I have been so blind?!?  Those were always some of my favorite aspects of the Craft, and if I had a remotely video-friendly bone in my body I’d do a walkthrough of my old, hand-drawn BoS just to show how much work and love went into it way back when.

Anyway, thanks to Molly I have a whole new YouTube rabbit hole to fall down, and I’m looking forward to it.  But in the meantime I just love listening to her talk (her voice is an ASMR trigger at times, which only makes it that much more awesome) and love her ideas.  Not to mention she combines magick with something else I love hearing about:  Bullet Journaling.

Incidentally, do you have any mystical or spiritual YouTubers you love?  Pretty much any tradition, as long as it’s non-conservative.  I’m a soul-slut, as you know.  What I’d really love to see are more Pagan planners, bullet journalers, or BoS-keepers.  Recommend away in comments, on Facebook, or Twitter.  

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Sylvan Points at Stuff: Shaking My (Glittery) Fist at Fate

I know these days it seems extra trivial to care about little happy things…but right now for a lot of people (myself included) little happy things are the only things preventing meltdown. The world has become pretty awful pretty quickly (okay, let’s be precise: the awfulness that minorities and the marginalized already knew was there now has license to show itself and has thrown a mirror up at the collective batshit insane nastiness of large swaths of our country, and even without petrifying fear of the future that realization is a hell of a thing) and by damn if a bottle of pretty nail polish helps me smile enough to keep showing up and not bury my head in the sand, it’s a worthy enterprise.  

I am desperately trying to balance knowing what’s going on – not allowing it to be acceptable – and staying at least marginally sane, which was already a loaded proposition for me.  Part of me wants so badly to shut down social media and stop reading Tweets, but I refuse to allow myself that privilege.  There are people being hurt and a lot more who will be, and even if I can’t fix it, I won’t turn a blind eye.  (You hear that, you tangerine dickbag?  I will not go back to sleep.)

That said…even social justice warriors need their pleasures.  These for example:

1. Zoya “Olivera” nail polish

At the risk of sounding like someone who’s into fashion and such, Zoya is one of my go-to brands. They sell vegan nail polish (and also lipstick, which is fairly new) in about a zillion colors.  This winter they debuted a shade so gorgeous I nearly sprained my finger clicking “buy.”

It’s called Olivera, and they describe it as “a spellbinding color-flip metallic with an indigo base and a green and purple shift“  Basically that means it looks dark, dark blue in some lights, peacock green in others, gold-flecked and a little purple in others.  Zoya’s dark polishes are nearly single-coat, they’re so smooth and rich.  I’m also very fond of their polish remover, which has lots of conditioners and such in it and comes in a neat bottle.

2. Califia Farms Caramel Pecan coffee creamer

Califia Farms is one of the best brands of nondairy milk to debut in recent years – as if their cool-ass bottles weren’t enough, their products are top notch.  I’ve had a devil of a time finding a coffee creamer that I really loved, and this one’s amazing

Califia’s cold brew iced coffee is also a thing of beauty – their mocha, which is blended with their amazing almond milk, just needs a bit of vanilla syrup to sweeten it up and bam! Instant deliciousness without having to wait overnight and strain and strain and strain to make my own cold brew.  I’ve heard their holiday nogs are great too, but I haven’t tried them yet.

3. Funko Pops

Yep, I gave in.  I’d been puzzling over these weird little toys for months trying to figure out the appeal, and then I started seeing them for characters I loved…and I was doomed.  I’m trying to stick only to the few that represent my true favorites, but I suspect soon my desk at work will amass a small, giant-headed army.  Right now I only have three:

That’s Dorothy Zbornak, Patty Tolan from Ghostbusters, and Dr. Stephen Strange, hanging out on my printer. 

I’ve even got a separate Amazon wish list just of Funko Pops.  Doomed, I tell you. Doomed.

4. Mad Lib Theater – Jimmy Fallon and Benedict Cumberbatch

I posted this one on Facebook right after it aired, but I think it deserves another showing – I still cannot watch this without laughing my ass off, especially the parts where they both break “character” and barely get the lines out. 

There’s just something so fantastic about seeing actors lose their shit in the middle of a scene.  Those were always my favorite moments on shows like The Colbert Report – this one in particular gets me every time:

5. Supergirl’s Coming-Out Plotline

(SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY)  When I first started watching Supergirl last year, at my roommate’s behest, I thought it was cute but pretty cheesy.  Melissa Benoist’s portrayal of Kara won me over, as did – miracle of miracles – Calista Flockhart’s performance as her mentor/antagonist Cat Grant.  Sure, it had plenty of goopy saccharine plot points (they beat the bad guys with the power of hope? Seriously?), but the upbeat tone and its refusal to become another dark and dreary DC show like Arrow (don’t get me wrong, I love Arrow too, but all the superhero shows seem to use the same dull color palette and the same brooding antihero emotional palette as well) somehow made it even more appealing to my little Scorpio heart.  Go figure.

This season with its move to the CW, the show has been damn near brilliant in a lot of ways, and one of the best is the storyline in which Kara’s adoptive sister realizes she’s gay and slowly accepts it about herself – and her loved ones do the same.  Alex’s confusion and her slowly growing pride, and her family’s support, are perfectly in keeping with the hopeful world Supergirl shows us in which our better selves can, and will, prevail.

That kind of positive visibility is so important, and there’s no better illustration than this story from Twitter about a woman working at a comics shop and a young LGBT woman who, thanks to Alex’s storyline, was able to find a measure of acceptance for herself.  I’m so glad that Chyler Leigh, who plays Alex, heard about the story too.  I’d post the whole thing here but it’s pretty long, so go have a read on my Tumblr – I hope it makes you feel the kind of hope I did.

That’s all for now – you might have noticed this wasn’t a Planner Friday post, but that’s because I didn’t do a damn thing to my planner this week.  I just wasn’t feeling it, and by the time I realized looking at those empty pages made me sad, it was so late in the week I decided screw it, I’ll just make next week awesome.  Stay tuned.

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Sylvan Points at Stuff: Meditation Tools for the Addled and Dorky

Oddly enough, lately I’ve been doing a lot of meditating.  For most of my life I’ve tried to do it almost out of a sense of duty – as a “spiritual” person I was obligated, right?  Well, as you can guess, that went over like a turd soufflé with my psyche, who is essentially a cosmic six-year-old:  if you tell her she has to do something, she’ll stomp her foot and give you the finger.

Still, the more the world seems to be skipping merrily to hell, the more necessary I find it to seek some sort of inner equanimity or peace, so I keep trying.

Then about a month ago I found this book:

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Meditation for the Love of It by Sally Kempton.  This book offers a different way of looking at meditation:  rather than spiritual drudgery, it’s an exciting and fun way to delve into both your own awareness and through that into the Universe itself.  A quote:

In the end it is the direct, naked encounter with our own awareness that shifts our understanding of who we are, and gives us the power to stand firmly in the center of our being. No one else can do this for us. Only meditation unlocks those doors.

Kempton writes from a Tantric tradition (though her ideas and exercises are useful for most any tradition), meaning there’s no “eliminating” thoughts or trying to transcend reality, at least not with the goal of eradicating the Self – she wants to befriend and enjoy the Self, while understanding its limits, and treats thoughts as mere energy that can be transformed or used instead of pushed away. Her tone is knowledgable but enthusiastic – and it’s contagious.  I found myself wanting to put the book down and try out her exercises, and amazingly, every one I tried yielded results at one level or another.  It’s a long book, but worth every minute.

Meanwhile…

I rediscovered a fantastic tool I had forgotten about:  MyNoise.net.  MyNoise is a sound generating website, but it’s so much more than just rain and random flutes.  It offers nature sounds, meditation sounds, voices, industrial background noise, you name it – including the usual white noise generators.  You can customize nearly every sound by moving sliders, so if you’re listening to a forest generator and want more birds, you can hear more birds.

You can also calibrate the site to your own hearing range, which according to users is amazing for tinnitus and other hearing issues, and there are brainwave-type sounds like isochronic tones that are apparently good for migraines and other issues.

You can animate the sounds so that they constantly shift, making them more realistic and immersive.  And you can stack generators on top of each other, so if you want the sound of chanting monks along with the sound of an airplane cabin and a cat purring, bam! you’ve got it.  There are even RPG sound generators you can play in the background of your games.

I seriously love this site.  The “Healing Water” soundscape has helped me sleep better, and the “Sleeping Dragon” is fantastic for meditation.  The site owner tells stories of when and where the sounds were recorded, how they were created, and what they can be used for, and each one has several precalibrated variations to play with.  I’ve never seen a sound-generating site with so many options.  You can create a meditative garden with birds and wind chimes and a pond full of frogs – or you can create the Starship Enterprise and practice Kolinahr, whatever gets you there.

And it’s free!  If you donate a few dollars you unlock the really complicated generators, but 90% of the site is totally free.  I kicked in a bit just as a thank-you for all the work that went into the site.

My favorite generators include:

Healing Water
Sleeping Dragon
Rain on a Tent
Tibetan Spirit
ASMR Whisper
Fish Tank
African Trance (basically build your own drum circle)
Fairy Pond (so many frogs!)

Even if all you need is some background noise to help you concentrate, do yourself a favor and check out MyNoise.net.  It also has a free iOS app.

(I was not paid to say any of this, I just love it that much.)

 

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Sylvan Points at Stuff, First of May Edition

Here are some things the internet gave me!

Did I mention I have a food blog now?  I do.

I’m (very very slowly) working on a cookbook project, so it’ll be the repository for essays, recipes, and whatever else food-related I feel like writing about.

Ever wonder what the Imperial March sounds like played on a sitar?  Sure you have.

28 Parts of Depression that Often Get Missed

Space Jam.

This had me giggling for days:

Two Medieval Monks Invent Bestiaries.

“It is incredibly worrying when the bedbird tucks you in.”
Meanwhile, lookit my adorable new shirt, BB-Atsume:

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That’s not me wearing it, that’s just some dude.  I have much bigger boobs. Via Redbubble.

Your Silence is Deafening: An Open Letter to the Target Boycotters.  This entire made-up bullshit issue infuriates me.  (Not the issue of transphobia – that one’s obviously not made up. I’m talking about this bullshit ‘WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?’ people are spouting when there is NO EVIDENCE trans people ever do more than go in the bathroom to FUCKING PEE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.)  In fact it makes me so goddamn mad I can’t write about it, but this letter does a pretty good job saying what I’d like to say.

I think after that I need an adorable, hopeful puppy.  Let’s have an adorable, hopeful puppy.

There, that’s better.

And just to be sure a better mood is achieved, let’s go wash a sloth.  Wednesday is bath day!

This week is the 20th anniversary of The Craft.  No, seriously, 20 years.  Feel old yet?  That’s the year I graduated high school.  Here’s the review I wrote waaaaaaay back in 2010.

I have, at long last, found the dairy-free ice cream of my dreams, and no, it’s not the new Ben & Jerry’s almond-milk flavors (turns out I just don’t like almond milk as a base for frozen treats):  So Delicious’ Cashew Milk flavors.  OH MY GOD THE SNICKERDOODLE.  YOU MUST HAVE IT.   I want to try them allllllll.  So far I’ve got containers of the Chocolate Cookies n’Cream and the Vanilla, but I’m hoping to find the Cappuccino at the Big Freaking Whole Foods.

Fond of Instagram and cosplay?  You must check out @queenofluna – she does absolutely gorgeous and amazing work with makeup and hijab.  Her painting skills are a thing of wonder.

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Sylvan Points at Stuff, 3/7/16

There are certain things that can cheer me up, if only for a moment, no matter how crappy I feel. Here’s one of them.

It’s also the reason frequent-calling bill collectors have contact entries on my phone, under the names Suq Madiq, Lika Madiq, Munchma Quchi – at the moment the student loan people show up as Chokon Madiq.

Seriously, Colbert breaking character is a peak experience for me.

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This, meanwhile, is the MOST RIDICULOUS song in the history of the universe, and the first time I heard the title I thought “Aw hell no,” but next thing I knew I was singing it in the car and bouncing around like a crazy person.  Not exactly what I’d call meaningful music, but you just try not getting it stuck in your head.  Also I had to appreciate the body diversity in the video – some lovely plus sized girls and dudes with tummies chowing down on that giant cake.

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One more video:  proof that you don’t need to shell out megabucks to have a cool personal planner.  You can personalize even the cheapy $2 kind from the dollar bin with a few bits of paper.  (And even if you don’t, a $2 planner you use every day beats the hell out of a $50 Erin Condren you used for one week then stuck in a drawer because it was just too much.)

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NEKO ATSUME BUTTER COOKIES!

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A very, very important article I saw on a friend’s timeline yesterday:  Cry of the Millennial Witch.  Reading this article, I felt myself exhale for the first time in days.  I’ve got some bloggery cooking in my head on the subject – stay tuned.

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20 Diverse, Body-Positive Books for Kids That You Definitely Need in Your Home by the Militant Baker.

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What You’re REALLY Seeing When You See “Succees” by Sarah von Bargen …wait, there’s really such a thing as a “launch coach?”

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Better After is always an entertaining DIY makeover blog – check out Three Ways to Repurpose Any Dresser, which might sound boring to those of a different nerd-genre, but the writing is fun as hell.  Plus I love seeing how people take sad, busted old furniture and turn it into the Most Majestically Made-Over.

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I don’t love Oprah.  I admire her.  But a millionaire telling me we’re “going on this weight loss journey together” kind of makes me want to burn a few calories punching her in the face, and I don’t like being that person, so I change the channel on her infuriating ads.  Being thin is not my life’s journey.  I don’t know what it is, but if I get to the end of my life and am still fat, it won’t have been a waste – and it won’t for Oprah either.  Here’s a thoughtful – and kind – take on the ad campaign, and why it taught the author the opposite of what Oprah seems to believe (Inside all of us is the thin woman we’re meant to be!  Um…no, Oprah, inside me are internal organs, hopes and dreams, and a limited amount of space for bullshit.)  A quote:

My epiphany was this: Oprah is one of the most accomplished, admired, able people in the world. She has an Oscar to keep all her Emmy Awards company. She creates magic for other people and herself on the regular. So if Oprah can’t do permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be done. Oprah is also crazy rich. If Oprah can’t buy permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be bought. And that sucks.

But it is also incredibly freeing if you, like me, have thought about your weight so many times throughout every day of your life that it becomes as maddening and distracting as if you’d stowed a beating telltale heart beneath your floorboards.

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Amazing.  A soup kitchen tricked out as a restaurant – treating the homeless like human beings, and a chance for people who want to work in the culinary industry but face obstacles to traditional training.

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And lastly, a delightful Tumblr post on the history of fandom, dating all the way back to Alexander the Great.

Happy week everyone!

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