Web Time Wasters

How was your week, friends? I was on Twin Cities Live talking about what to do with your tax refund – if you were lucky enough to get one! I promise my suggestions aren’t as dry and joy-less as you’d think! We hosted Passover this year and were excited to serve the meal on Kenny’s great-grandmother’s fine china; I love traditions like that.

Links for you!

This week I learned that worldwide, the equivalent of almost 27,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day in the form of toilet paper. We decided to switch to Bim Bam Boo which is made from bamboo – which grows much faster than trees, making it much more environmentally-friendly. Now, you’re not going to confuse it with your tripled quilted Downy or anything but it’s fine! You can order it online but it’s a Minneapolis company, so if you live in MSP like me, you can probably find it in your local grocery store!

I went to grad school in Wellington, New Zealand – an amazing city that doesn’t get enough love online. This apartment tour of a Wellington apartment is great; I know exactly where they are based on the view from their windows!

I’m sloooowly starting the process of building a Yes & Yes podcast and the Messyfm Instagram account is full of SO many good tips!

Also: If you’re an author, I highly recommend watching Laura Jane William’s Instagram Stories. They’re always great, but right now she’s promoting her new novel and she’s doing it in such a lovely, interesting, educational, non-pushy way. Let’s all learn from her!

A great Mothers’ Day or graduation present

And this is a good gift for anyone in your life who cares about racial justice

This would happen to me.

A gorgeous essay: Notre Dame will rebuild. I will too.
Notre Dame was on fire, and I desperately want to talk to Jamie about it. Instead, I’m reminded once more that we can’t control things — no matter how hard we try or how much we believe. We can and should plan for the best, but we can never fully protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our loved places from the worst. At some point, we have to let go.

Jamie’s death gave me plenty of reasons not to revisit Paris. But I did anyway. Our promise to return continued on — albeit in a very different way than we hoped — and served to remind me how resilient I am. And just like they have many times before, Parisians will once again prove their resilience in the weeks and months of rebuilding to come.

One of my favorite foods when I lived in Taiwan was dan bing. It is SO GOOD and I have no idea why it hasn’t reached cream cheese wanton status here in the U.S. Here’s how to make your own if you’re curious!

Fun fact about me: I love bats. If you’re skeptical, look at this Flying Fox. She looks just like our rat terrier/chihuahua!

I don’t drink much – only if I’m on vacation, I’m celebrating something big, or we’re at a supper club and I’d be remiss if I didn’t sample their Old Fashioned. What are your thoughts on the rise of elective sobriety?
 “I used to think I lost my social anxiety after I had the first drink,” says Joy Manning, one of the party’s co-hosts. “Now I realize, the first 15 minutes of anything is just awkward. Once I adjust to the environment and start chatting with someone, I relax. And it’s amazing to see that happen across a whole room of people who aren’t drinking. We’ve been giving alcohol a power it doesn’t really have.”

Hope you had a lovely weekend!

Why You Need A Smile File + How To Make One

Looking for cheer up ideas? Want to make a smile file but you're not sure where to start? Click through for inspiration ideas and ways to cheer yourself up!

Picture this: you’re grumpy AF. You overslept, you spilled coffee on your shirt, and because she wants to cheer a friend up, your co-worker is trying to tell you about something called a ‘smile file.’

Do you
a) roll your eyes so far back in your head you get a migraine
b) tell her she’s never allowed to speak in your presence again
c) pretend that you’re listening while quietly plotting her death

If this cheer up idea makes you want to punch someone, hear me out!

Really, a ‘smile file’ is just a personal collection of things that cures a bad mood – your bad mood. If the things that cheer you up are interviews with Nick Cave, hair metal music videos, and gifs of people falling on ice, that’s what you should put in your smile file.

Just as importantly, you are not required to call it a ‘smile file.’ If you think rhyming is dorky, you can call it something else! Or you don’t have to call it anything!

All I’m saying is: We all have bad days. Our bad days will be shorter + less awful if we take some time to create our own personal antidotes when we're NOT in the midst of one. Click To Tweet

Why do you need a smile file at all?

None of us are required to be happy at all times. In fact, that’s impossible!

I think it’s worth noting, however, that bad days and bad moods usually trigger our less-awesome behaviors and choices. Think about the last time you did something you regret – an expensive impulse purchase you can’t afford, snipping at your partner, mindlessly eating yourself into a cookie dough coma, stalking your ex all over Instagram and accidentally liking one of their photos from 2015.

There’s a pretty good chance that these things started with a bad mood. And if you could short circuit that less-than-awesome behavior simply by revisiting some self-esteem-boosting emails or watching a few funny animal videos, isn’t it worth a try?

How to make a smile file

Create an email folder that’s filled with only sweet things

Every time a client, co-worker, or vendor sends you a thank-you note, put it in your Smile File. Praise for a job well done, an amazing testimonial about how your ebook changed someone’s life, a thoughtful response to your newsletter, put it in your Smile File. Funny email from your kid’s teacher or your dog walker – you guessed it! – put it in your Smile File.

In short: any email that makes you smile and will likely improve your day on a second reading, put it in a specific email folder that you can easily reference.

Save all your favorite Instagram images to a ‘smile file’ folder

Did you know you can save all the  insightful captions, funny photos, and inspirational quotes you like on Instagram? It’s true.

Next time you see something you like on Instagram, just click the little pennant icon under the image and you’ll save it to your Instagram account. You can organize your saved images into folders like ‘funny animals,’ ‘memes about the 90s,’ and ‘inspirational quotes’ – or whatever would cheer you up!

Create a day-improving Youtube playlist

A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to upbeat music could improve their moods and boost their happiness in just two weeks. But we didn’t need a study to espouse the healing powers of sing-shrieking along to ‘The Dog Days Are Over” while flouncing dramatically around the living room, right?

No joke, I have a 33-song Youtube playlist entitled ‘happy dancing’ and it improves my mood faster than an episode of Brooklyn 99 and a bag of pizza rolls WHICH IS SAYS SOMETHING.

If you use Spotify or Itunes, you could also compile playlists there!

Make a physical ‘smile file’ – like a real, actual paper folder in a filing cabinet

There’s something to be said for holding mood-improving things in your hands, rather than just clicking through emails and online photos.

If you have tangible evidence of the things that make you happy – handwritten cards, photos, ticket stubs and receipts from memorable outings, the application paper work for the big project – put it all in an actual paper folder and put it at the front of your filing cabinet so it’s easy to find and access.

It’s seems like a little thing, right? How could an email folder, a playlist, or some saved Instagram photos cheer you up?

How could something so small (and free!) be the difference between a good day and a bad one? Why not try. Worst case scenario – you have another email folder. Best case scenario – you’ve got a stockpile of things that make you happy and remind you of how awesome you are.

P.S. How to restart a bad day + 101 ways you cheer yourself up

photo by Laura Olsen // cc

Web Time Wasters

This trailer made me so uncomfortable I couldn’t watch all of it – which means I need to watch the movie.

How was your week, friends? Minnesota was buried in a blizzard, as I’m sure you heard. I had coffee dates with friends, painted the bathroom, and shoveled SO MUCH SNOW.

Links for you!

A very intriguing pasta recipe!

Less than thrilled about how the president has treated Ilham Omar? Here’s a script for calling your reps and telling them that.

I was on the Creatively Human podcast talking about why I do online business the “wrong” way and habits that leads to happiness. Click here to listen!

Related: I’m in the beginning stages of creating a Yes & Yes podcast and I am forever lol-ing at Creative Commons music. Did you know there’s an entire album called ‘Corporate and Motivational Music‘ with track titles like ‘Driven To Success’? It’s true.

Body positivity applies to men, too. I appreciate the type of bodies this brand is using.

I wish my 2002 self had read these thoughts about ethical traveling, poverty, and photography.

If you fantasize about buying an abandoned mansion and returning it to its former glory, this six-bedroom, three-bathroom historical home is $185,000 in St. Paul. I would watch a reality tv show about who ever buys this house!

Related: I’m reading this book and this book as we start to consider house-hunting.

If you watch my Instagram Stories, you saw me share the tale of my averted financial-assholery (trying to get everything for free and not supporting people or businesses who benefit me on a regular basis when I can absolutely afford t0). Related: 15 ways to support artists for free!

Our collective cool aunt Anne Lammot is getting married!

Wowsers is this house gorgeous.

I loved Amy’s budget-friendly advice on starting an online business.  I ran a profitable business for YEARS with a $300 netbook, a Paypal account, and a yahoo email account. It’s not nearly as complicated as we make it!

Gorgeous photos from … SNL?

I have SO MANY FEELINGS about money, consumption, competition, the way we talk about + think about all of the above. I loved what Paul wrote about keeping up with the Insta-Joneses.

The act of trying to keep up is an inaccurate comparison though and debt doesn’t photograph well.

We’re comparing the things others want us to see, with our own reality. Because flaws and overdue credit card bills, problems and the sometimes-mundane of day-to-day existence doesn’t photograph that well. We get to choose what we share (and what we don’t), and in this never-ending game of one-ups-person-ship, we act as if we’ve got things together at all times, for the sake of our own social status. Picturesque vacations (we can’t afford), private jets (rented on the runway), and on-trend clothes (we can’t wear twice on camera).

This comparison trap with the Insta-Joneses isn’t just a thief of joy. It’s a thief of our pay cheques as well. The lie this “keeping up” tells us is that everyone else is living well except for us. Everyone else has the nice things they deserve except for us. Everyone else is more interesting, more picturesque, more socially accepted than us. And we end up feeling bad because shouldn’t we have nice things too? Don’t we deserve to be happy enough to conspicuously consume as well?

Hope you had a lovely week!

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, friends? On Monday, I taught high schoolers about how to use Instagram to find internships, brand partnerships, and collaborators (if you’d like me to teach something similar at your company, organization, or school email me at sarah@yesandyes.org). The rest of the week was devoted to lunch and coffee dates and last night was a friend’s yearly lip sync party. Fun!

Links for you

Related to teaching those teenagers on Monday: a Twitter thread from a teacher who incorporates phones into lessons, rather than confiscating them.

Such a cute way to start the day!

I’m definitely trying a few of these nine things to refresh for spring.

A book I am extremely enjoying!

I’ve written several ebooks: The No Grocery Challenge Guidebook + Cookbook, How To Get What You Want, the ebook version of Bank Boost … and I wish I would have read this super helpful post about how to market ebooks! I just, uh, wrote them and mentioned them a few times!

Related: 7 Honest Ways To Spring Clean Your Mind + Life

I was on the Own It All podcast talking about how use your time wisely + productively. Listen here!

P.S. If you have a podcast, I’d love to be on it! Drop me a line at sarah@yesandyes.org and we’ll get something sorted!

A very good post about making responsible choices + how it’s hard to be perfect:
In the face of it, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed or cynical. I don’t think we need to throw up our hands and declare the whole project useless, but I do think it’s helpful to know that in seeking sustainability, we’re not always going to get it right. It’s wise to acknowledge that the least detrimental form of consumption is to abstain from consuming altogether, but that abstinence isn’t always possible (and not always pleasurable). I guess most of all, I’m hoping to remember that ultimately we’re in it together. 

A recipe I’ll be trying for my next No Grocery Challenge: Easy Dukkah

True story: when Kenny and I got married, I tried to convince him that he, his dog, and his two sons should join me in my 850 square-foot apartment. He could not be convinced. This family of four makes living in a 750 square-foot apartment look great!

Totally co-signed on these eight things to do for yourself before you leave for a trip.

Funny!

An excellent Twitter thread about being okay with people disliking you and releasing the desire to control everything.

I hope you had a lovely week!

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, friends? I lead a workshop for high schoolers about safe/cheap international travel – so fun! I wish someone had talked to me about this stuff when I was 17. (P.S. If you’d like me to lead a workshop for your company, school, group – drop me a line at sarah@yesandyes.org. I’d love to chat!)

Then Kenny, Loretta, and I had a nice weekend away in Crosby at this super cute, dog-friendly Airbnb. Highly recommended! (If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking.) Also, if you find yourself in Crosby be sure to eat at Iron Range Eatery. Truly one of the best meals I’ve had all year! Yes, in a town of 2,300.

And a reminder: the live version of Make It Stick Habit School starts tomorrow! Nora McInerny says:

“I loved Habit School. 1, because it helped me realize why all my other good habits have slid right off me. And 2, because it actually. Made. Good. Habits. STICK! I’m not kidding you. It just worked, and it made me feel amazing. I’ve been able to replicate that same success over and over, with little habits that I was so discouraged about not being able to accomplish before. It is a whole new way of looking at how you behave, and it has really and truly helped me make steps towards being the Nora I want to be.”

Links for you!

An incredibly stylish woman we’d all like to have as a BFF.

Twin Cities friends! Have you heard of Fix It Clinics? They’re free clinics that you can bring your small appliances that need repairs. You’ll be paired with an expert who will show you how to fix your item. Again – it’s free! It’ll save you money and keep things out of the landfill!

Related: are you recycling correctly? I thought I was an A+ recycler, but I was more like a B!

Two recipes I’m bookmarking for future No Grocery Challenges: roasted vegetable winter crumble + super green spaghetti.

Have you ever heard of ‘rose reflexing‘? Apparently it’s *the* trick to making supermarket roses look really lush.

A lovely Instagram account

Controversial opinion: I’m never going to Tulum again. Who Killed Tulum?
But seaweed was only one of Tulum’s problems, and before the dark wave distracted him, Barbachano had been detailing a list of other plagues: failing infrastructure, overzealous developers, drugs, too many DJs. In a white linen shirt, a Panama hat, and rose-tinted sunglasses, Barbachano looked the part of the fashionable type who had made Tulum one of the world’s hottest destinations. He gawked at a brunette walking by in a red bikini. “Look at this woman! I mean, I’m gay, but she looks like Kate Middleton,” Barbachano said. “You want that, with the beautiful ocean behind, chill music that’s not fucking pounding in your head. But not everybody gets it. They have a few million dollars and say, ‘We’re gonna buy a place in Tulum, get 16 speakers, put a DJ on, and fck this all up.’ ”

You’ve already seen this and been charmed, correct?

A lovely photo essay of people who have been working the same job for 50+ years.

This is a note-to-self and a note to everyone who sends IG DMs.

I am EXTREMELY co-signed on this: Why You Shouldn’t Start A Business

It absolutely does not matter what type of business you start. In fact you should not start an actual business at all—nonprofit or otherwise. Here’s what you should do instead.

Just start doing the thing that you want the business to do.

Go out into the world, test and validate the ideas you have before ever creating a logo, opening a bank account, registering an LLC, or anything else.

Sure, there will likely be some amount of financial investment to bring something big together—but not on any of the above.

Also co-signed.

What do breakfast + beauty routines look like in Mexico?

Hope you had a lovely week – and I hope to see you inside Make It Stick Habit School tomorrow!

Can you put a price tag on a habit?


Seven years ago, I found a cockroach floating in my coffee cup.

At the time, I was working as an ESL teacher in a crumbling building in a not-particularly-great neighborhood.

Our receptionist’s computer was stolen off her desk in the middle of a work day. Once, our grammar lesson was interrupted by a man urinating against the glass door of our street-level classroom.

I earned $34,000 a year at that job. With a master’s degree and all the debt that goes with it.

It seems strange to credit the creation of one daily habit with getting out of that job, but it’s the truth.

My daily writing habit got me out of that (Fulfilling but exhausting! Extremely underpaid! Sort of dangerous!) job.

And if I look at how much I earned as an ESL teacher and how much I earn now, over the course of seven years …

My daily writing habit is worth $280,000. At least.

That doesn’t include the value I place on the freedom and flexibility that comes with working for myself. That doesn’t include the friendships I’ve made, the trips I’ve taken, the opportunities I’ve had.

That’s just a cold, hard, math-based fact about how much more money I’ve earned because I developed a daily writing habit.

And I bet you have your own version of this.

How much money would you save if you finally kicked your mindless online shopping habits? If you stopped smoking? If you stopped going out for cocktails four nights a week with the coworkers you don’t really like?

How much more money would you bring in if you developed a daily habit of emailing a professional peer? Or spent an hour every morning working on your book proposal?

I realize it’s a little unusual to attach a price tag to a habit, but I’ve found it to be a really effective way to sort of shock me (and maybe you?) into making change.

We all know we should drink more water, take our vitamins, network, charge our phones outside of our bedrooms, but it’s easy to put off change for “some other time” or to underestimate how these good habits could change our lives.

But attaching a monetary value to a habit can shock us into taking action.

Eating more fruits and vegetables could save me thousands of dollars in medication because I’m predisposed to Type 2 diabetes.

Charging my phone outside my bedroom means I’ll sleep better. Sleeping better means I’ll get sick less (and work more + earn more). I’ll snap at my friends, stepsons, and husband less (and spend less on therapy and apology gifts).

You’re smart. You get it!

If my cold, hard numbers have convinced you, I want you to know that the live version of my course Make It Stick Habit School is open for enrollment right now and class starts on March 25th!

What you’ll gain from Make It Stick Habit School LIVE

  • A specific-to-you plan for changing your habits
  • An understanding of why your attempts at habit change have failed in the past
  • Science-backed strategies for avoiding temptation and reinforcing good habits
  • Methods you can apply over and over again, to any habit you want to make or break

You can start to break bad habits+ build good ones today for $97!

After you sign up, you’ll immediately have access to

  • 8 video modules + 17-page workbook
  • audio versions of those lessons so you can listen to them at the gym or in the car
  • Our private Facebook group
  • 4 live q & a sessions
  • Weekly emails + accountability challenges

Truly, these methods helped me develop the daily writing habit that lead to my career, break the procrastination habit so I could get my M.A. while working two jobs, and end my impulse spending habit so I could pay off $50k in school debt.

But don’t take my word for it!

This is the magic formula. I’ve been trying to build a regular fitness habit for a decade, but I wasn’t allowing myself room for any deviation whatsoever. Now I have a whole collection of mini ‘bookmark’ activities that I love to do, so that when I can’t get in a ‘real’ workout, I’m still moving my body every day and maintaining my habit. – Erin G.

I loved Habit School! 1. Because it helped me realize why all my other good habits have slid right off me. And 2. because it actually. Made. Good. Habits. STICK! I’m not kidding you. It just worked, and it made me feel amazing. I’ve been able to replicate that same success over and over, with little habits that I was so discouraged about not being able to accomplish before. It is a whole new way of looking at how you behave, and it has really and truly helped me make steps towards being the Nora I want to be. – Nora M.

This ish works! Class starts March 25th and I’d love to see you there!

P.S. If you want to know more before you commit to the course, join me tomorrow over lunch and ask me all your questions about habits or watch my free, 30-minute video workshop 4 Sneaky Ways To Break That Bad Habit This Year.

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash