My favourite music, tv, and podcasts of 2020

Saying “what a strange year” is both such an understatement and so obvious that I’m sure it doesn’t need to be said, but I can’t help but say it anyway. What a strange, strange year. Mostly I turned to books to get me through it, but there were also plenty of standouts in other mediums that offered entertainment and escapism through the weirdness of 2020. Here are a few of my favourites from the year in music, tv, film*, and podcasts.

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Comfort food, in media form

The last few weeks have been hard. I mean, obviously the last seven months have been hard, but the last few weeks have hit another downswing.

Cases here in Ireland are going exponentially back up, the government has thus far decided another full lockdown isn’t necessary despite the strong recommendations of the Emergency Health committee (citing mental health and unemployment as a reason despite having spent the last decade being criticised for underfunding mental health services, and the last few months claiming that unemployment support payments are too high), and with the weather changing to autumn (which in Ireland is aka winter lite aka endless rain), it’s hard to find things to get excited about after work when I know it’s going to be shit weather and I won’t even be able to go out for a walk and some fresh air.

When I start feeling like this, it’s nice to have some cosy, happy things to turn to. The media equivalent of comfort food, these are the things that have been making me feel good when everything else feels bad.

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Soundtrack for a Strong Start

New year, new me, same old podcast addiction. The medium is producing stronger work than ever, with countless topics, and I love them all. I have at least 60 podcasts on my subscription list—although, in fairness, they don’t all run continuously and I don’t listen to every episode of every show. Anyway, I’ve given plenty of recommendations for podcasts in the past, but the start of the new year seems like the perfect time for a few more. Here are some great listens full of learning and growth to spark your curiosity and inspire your fresh starts.

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Creatives for Creatives: my favourite podcasts about the art & business of creative work

I’ve written before about how much I love listening to podcasts during pretty much every waking moment. Walking to work? Podcasts. Freelancing? Podcasts. Out for a run? Podcasts. On a long drive? Yep, podcasts. Most of the time I listen to podcasts for entertainment, whether they’re fiction or true crime or, my favourite genre, folklore and paranormal. However, there are also plenty of great podcasts out there that can educate, inform, and best of all, help you with your creative work.

Obviously, podcasting is a creative medium in itself, but it’s also increasingly becoming a way for creative business owners to share their secrets, talk to other creatives, and discuss the process of creative work. Whether you’re a blogger, a wedding photographer, an artist, or just keen on learning about how you can enhance your creative process or maybe even turn it into a side-gig or a career, here are some of my favourite listens for getting the creative juices flowing.

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Ten Minutes of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a lifelong practice, and for most of us, it requires conscious effort. We wake up in the mornings bleary-eyed and in need of caffeine rather than serene and at peace with ourselves and the world. It’s easy for us to go about our days telling ourselves that we don’t have time to meditate or do yoga, no spare minutes to practice gratitude in between commuting and working and hitting the gym and cooking dinner and taking care of kids and doing homework and buying groceries and doing every other one of those essential things that seem to eat up every moment of the day.

The truth is, we do have time, and we choose to fill that time with reading and Netflix and sports and bar-hopping and every other one of those non-essential things, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This isn’t a “social media is the devil” post, because that subject is beyond played out and anyway that’s not how I feel (perhaps a topic for another post). What this is, is proof that even with the few spare moments you have in your life, you can practice mindfulness. Even if you only have 10 minutes, here are 10 ways to bring more awareness into your everyday.

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Saturn returns & cyclical changes in life

I have friends who eagerly check their horoscopes each and every week, consulting the pages of Cosmopolitan or clicking into Refinery29 to see what the stars have in store for them. I don’t dis-believe in astrology, but I don’t believe in it in that way.

To me, it makes perfect sense that the universe has an influence on us; look at the way the moon influences the tide or the sun influences the temperature, how could it not affect humans the way it affects the world? And it makes sense that the influence can be emotional as well as physical; anyone who experiences SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or simply gets gloomy on a rainy day or excited about a warm summer afternoon understands. And there’s no denying that things like the full moon and the infamous Mercury in retrograde have a huge impact on many of us. But I don’t personally believe that the location of Mars on a certain date lets you know that you should buy a lottery ticket or whatever; I think celestial influence is much broader and less personalised.

It’s also not something I tend to seek out too much information about, so occasionally I discover something new to me that relates to my interpretation of astrology’s impact, and that happened for me last week when I learned about Saturn returns.

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