Category: life advice

3 Tips To Help You Focus (That Don’t Involve Coffee)

My days are frequently an exercise in wandering-mind-management.
“I should really be working on that new fashion ebook but I can’t forget to write a birthday card for my aunt. And oh! I need to print/sign/scan that NDA! But there are dirty dishes in the sink. AND OH WAIT I OBVIOUSLY NEED TO RESEARCH FLIGHTS TO NEW ZEALAND RIGHT NOW.”
There are plenty of ways that I manage this foolishness. I swear by lists and goals and Google Nanny and the Pomodoro method. But those tricks just force me to do fewer ridiculous things. They don’t actually help me focus on doing awesome things. And since I’m trying to limit my coffee consumption to, um, a non-insane amount, I’ve been trying other things to help me focus.

Here are three tips that really help me focus

Focus Tip #1: Take a 30-second cold shower

Wait. What? I can hear you scrolling past this and mumbling right now. But hear me out! When you’ve spent the last hour and a half falling down an internet hole, refreshing your RSS feed every two minutes, you need something that’s a shock to the system and a reset button of sorts. Of course, this is about a million times more doable if you, like me, work from home, but I so, so highly encourage it.
Strip down, jump in, turn around in that freezing water while you grit your teeth and question why you followed this advice. Then get out, feel a million times more awake and focused (and then feel bad that you doubted me.)

Focus Tip #2: Legs-up-the-wall yoga pose

So easy, so helpful. Scoot your butt as close to the wall as you comfortably can and set the timer on your phone (choose a sweet, non-confrontational alarm sound) and calm your mind. You (probably) won’t fall asleep, but your mind will stop racing, your legs, feet, knees, and back will feel a million times better, and you’ll finished feeling refreshed and focused.
Note: this is significantly less calming if you have a needy cat who insists on begging for pets and eating your hair when you lie down. 

Focus Tip #3: Take a dance break

Yes, really. Who cares if you’re not a good dancer? You’re just dancing some of that antsy energy out of your system and doing something other than sitting in front of a computer. Just choose 1-2 of your favorite, can’t-sit-still songs and twerk around your apartment (or, um, in your office with the door closed) for five minutes. I’m currently dance breaking to thisand this.
If all else fails? Walk to the coffee shop and buy an overpriced ice latte and flirt with the barista.

How do you stay focused? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. How to restart a bad day

photo credit: annie spratt // cc

7 Cool Magazines We Should All Be Reading

Looking for some cool magazine recommendations? Something other than Real Simple and Oprah magazine? Click through for 7 magazine recs you've never considered!
One of my absolute favorite pastimes is hanging out with my mom, on a deck overlooking the lake where I grew up, drinking terrible made-from-powder instant ice tea, reading magazines.

Clearly, I’m a woman of extreeeeeemely expensive tastes.

While I lovelovelove reading blogs it’s so lovely to pull something glossy and gorgeous out of your mailbox and flip through it on the sofa or in the park.  I love dog earring pages and ripping things out for future use and bulletin board-pinning.

Also?  A yearly magazine subscription frequently costs less than $20.  That’s the same price as an entree and a drink and those won’t bring you joy once a month for a year!

In addition to all the obvious magazines (O, Real Simple, etc) here are a few of the magazines that I love.

7 cool magazines we should all be reading

Remember Sassy magazine?  The best magazine that’s ever happened?  That’s what Frankie is like. The current issue includes an interview with funny writer and feminist icon Caitlin Moran, a recipe for mulled wine, a little look at how to raise chicken in the city, a quick trip to Seoul and a refugee’s tale that includes pirates?
Oh, and an in-depth look at the history of big hair, a load of snuggly new winter fashion, and a hard-hitting report on the life of a crazy cat lady. What? Yes. The subscription is expensive but totally, totally worth it. It’s also stocked at select retailers.

Lucky Peach

What’s the deal with Lucky Peach?  It bills itself as “a quarterly journal of food and writing. Each issue focuses on a single theme, and explores that theme through essays, art, photography, and recipes.”
Fancy, interesting, important people contribute to it – Rick Bayless talks about the ins and outs of street food, Anthony Bourdain talks about the movie Deliverance, and Jason Polan visits the most beautiful Taco Bell in the world.  Into it.

Mental Floss

I think that smart is sexy, so I obviously think that Mental_Floss is the sexiest magazine out there. Here’s what they say about themselves:

“Mental_Floss is an intelligent read, but not too intelligent. We’re the sort of intelligent that you hang out with for a while, enjoy our company, laugh a little, smile a lot and then we part ways. Great times.

And you only realize how much you learned from us after a little while.Like a couple days later when you’re impressing your friends with all these intriguing facts and things you picked up from us, and they ask you how you know so much, and you think back on that great afternoon you spent with us and you smile. And then you lie and say you read a lot.”

The Intelligent Optimist

Isn’t that an amazing name for a magazine? They focus on “people, passion and possibilities changing our world for the better. We celebrate people making a positive difference in their communities, their countries, their businesses.

Our philosophy is to embrace the passion behind new ideas that inspire innovative solutions to some of our greatest challenges. The Intelligent Optimist explores the possibilities generated by fresh perspectives on everything from technology to health and the human spirit. We present intelligent optimism as a path to happier, healthier lives in a better world.” Lovely, right?

National Geographic Traveler

Honestly, when I ‘read’ National Geographic I’m usually just looking at the pictures and wishing I was there. This magazine covers travel gear, unknown destinations, cool personal essays, and heaps of helpful travel tips.  Annnnnnd the awesome photos that make you wish you were there.

Garden & Gun

Isn’t this name hilarious? When my BFF and I were in Nashville last month we discovered this little gem and picked it up, thinking it was a joke.  It’s not.  It’s gorgeous and interesting. I

t’s bursting with South-specific recipes (a sweet tea granita or local cheeses), interview with Southern musicians, artists, and writers, tours of breathtaking historical homes, and tips for travel destination in the South.  I’m a third-generation Minnesotan and even I’m into it!

Cat Fancy 

JUST KIDDING!  (or am I?)

Do you subscribe to magazines?  Which ones do you love?

P.S. Why you should read, watch, and listen outside of your comfort zone

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

You’re Probably Not The Exception To The Rule (And That’s Totally Okay)

It seems depressing, but I swear this is actually a great mindset to reduce anxiety and stop overthinking. If something usually happens or someone usually treats people a certain way ... well, that will probably happen with you, too. What a relief! You can turn off your brain and stop be stressed about it!

When I first graduated from college, I interviewed at a Terribly Fancy, Incredibly Impressive Company for an internship position. I’d been warned by no less than three people that the person I’d be interning for was Devil-Wears-Prada awful.

During our interview, she questioned my time spent teaching English in Brazil, saying

“Why would you want to go somewhere so poor and dirty?”

She rolled her eyes at least three times.

She scolded her receptionist for bringing her a Diet Pepsi instead of a Diet Coke.

And when she offered me the internship, I joyfully accepted it.

Why? Because I was convinced that unlike everyone else who worked with her, I’d be the exception to the rule.

I’d be so insanely competent there would be no cause for eye-rolling.

I’d be so immeasurably talented she wouldn’t ask me to fetch her sodas.

I’d be so cool and calm and professional she’d instinctively sense my boundaries and treat me with respect.

Spoiler alert! None of this happened. On my first day she said “Are you trying to not answer the phone?”

On several occasions, I worked 30+ hours. Like, straight. Like, through the night.

She would frequently get so angry she’d refuse to look at me or talk to me and my instructions would have to be passed on through a third party.

Eventually – after months of Sunday night anxiety stomach aches – I left said job.

And because I am was a somewhat naive individual, I spent several more years believing that I would be an exception to pretty much every rule that’s ever existed.

Be ye not so stupid as me.

I’m probably not the exception to the rule. Neither are you & that's totally okay. Click To Tweet

This discovery is both depressing and totally freeing.

It allows you to relax, turn off that annoying part of your brain devoted to over-analyzing, and probably enjoy your life a lot more.

If that friend is usually on time to pick people up from the airport, they’ll probably be waiting for you at the gate.

If your boss generally rewards creative ideas and competence, there’s a good chance you’ll get that bonus.

If your co-worker pulls their weight most of the time, you might actually enjoy that group project.

If your date speaks highly of his mom, he’s probably a passably decent human being.

If your buddy owes money to a bunch of people, he’s probably not going to pay you back. Even if you’ve known him since third grade.

If that cutie cheated on their other partners, they’ll probably cheat on you, too. No matter how loving and supportive and sexy you are.

If your building manager never fixes anything on time for anybody else, they might just ignore your request about the leaking window.

Of course, there are ways to make it slightly more likely that you’re the one shining anomaly. (Be extra kind to your building manager all year round! Make your buddy sign a loan agreement! Probably just don’t date cheaters!)

But you know what’s way easier than that? Making peace with the law of averages and making your choices accordingly.

When have you been the exception to the rule? When have you disappointingly NOT been the exception?

P.S. My problems aren’t your responsibility (and, ahem, probably vice versa)

photo by stefan stafancik // cc

How To Deal When People Disappoint You

What do you do when people disappoint you? How do you cope with disappointment? You don't have to hate them, you can just change your own expectations and behavior! Click through to find out how >>
How do you deal when people disappoint you?

When I was little, I remember thinking that “disappointing people” is something you outgrow. I’d only ever heard someone say “I’m disappointed in you” in childhood punishments. I thoughtBring a grownup is going to be so easy! Nobody’s in charge of you, you get to do what you want all the time and the only people you have to worry about are your friends! And they’re awesome!”

But here’s the thing:

There are plenty of things to worry about in Grownupland (obviously) and one of those are the relationships you have. Relationships of any sort are tricky. Professional relationships, romantic relationships, friendships – they can all be tough.

And eventually, you’re probably bound to meet a few bad apples. Colleagues won’t finish their part of a project. Friends will share that thing you swore them to secrecy on. Romantic interests might cheat or share those saucy photos or say mean things about you after you break up with them.

How do you deal when someone disappoints you or generally acts like a Grade-A Jerk?

When someone has behaved in an eye-rolling or tear-inducing way I say to myself:

'You've shown me who you are. I will adjust my expectations + behavior accordingly.' Click To Tweet

(my internal monologue is much more calm and articulate than my external dialogues.)

What does this mean?

If you cheat on your girlfriend I don’t hate you, but I’m not going to date you.

If you’re consistently late and unreliable I don’t hate you, but I’m not going to refer my clients to you.

If you’re negative and emotionally volatile I don’t hate you, but I’m not going to call you for emotional support.

If you’re unstable when you drink I don’t hate you, but I’m not going to be around you when there’s alcohol involved.

We’re all flawed human beings. I gossip too much. I can be judgmental. I will totally use your shampoo and conditioner when I stay at your house. And we’d all be friendless if we reserved the slots in our social calendar for perfect people.

When someone behaves poorly, you don’t need to hate them with a fiery passion for the rest of your life. You also don’t have to pretend it never happened.

You can protect yourself.

You can opt out of those aspects of that person that are crazy-making.

You get to choose the people you surround yourself with and how you interact with them.

It’s totally, 100% up to you.

How do you deal when someone disappoints you – repeatedly?

P.S. If you need 1-on-1 support or help dealing with disappointing humans, I do that!

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Here’s That Permission You Were Looking For

We’re all clever, self-actualized adults here, right?

Or, perhaps more accurately, we’re all fairly intelligent people who are trying to be ever-so-slightly better than we were yesterday, right?
Even if that self-improvement is limited to eating breakfast BEFORE we check email?

I thought so.

And even though we’re all pretty smart, it’s always good to be reminded of certain things.
By, like, people who aren’t our moms or bosses.

It always feels good to receive permission to do the things we know we should/could be doing.

With that in mind, I’m officially giving myself (and you) permission to:

* throw out that shampoo that makes your hair weird, the jeans that don’t fit, the classic book you’re never going to read

* break up with the lovely, kind, wonderful not-quite-right-for-you person

* go to the party and just drink Diet Coke

* really go for it at work, even if it makes your colleagues roll their eyes and call you a “try hard”

* make your new romantic interest work for it

* make things uncomfortable when someone calls something or someone “retarded” or “gay”

* not fund every single Kickstarter campaign your friends put together

* donate or re-gift that body lotion/candle/decorative tray.  Like, immediately.

* not watch Game of Thrones.  Or have a Twitter account.  Or read Harry Potter.

* quit the job or drop out of the program that’s eating you alive

There.  You’ve got it.  Permission from the internet to go for it.

What are you waiting for permission on? 

photo by martinak15 cc

25 Memory-Making Things To Do This Summer

Looking for things to do this summer? Look no further! Take a peek through this list of summer tips and tricks and you're sure to have a fun, memory-filled summer! >>

There are only 90 official days to summer.  Let’s do fun, amazing, thrilling things, shall we?  Instead of sitting in the air conditioning watching Saved By The Bell reruns. NOT THAT I’VE EVER DONE THAT.

25 things to do this summer

1. Swim in a lake (they’re so much more summer-y than pools)

2. Float down a river

3. Go to the races (shopping cart! turtlewiener dog!)

4.  Make popsicles

6. Grill fruit

7. Go commando under that maxi skirt

8. Learn the summer constellations

9. Go to a drive-in movie (I love to do this!)

10. Take an underwater camera to the beach and go crazy

12. Re-read your favorite teen books (I love this series!)

13. Get awesome new sunglasses

14. Volunteer (with kids! or animals!  or art!)

15. Have a brunch picnic by the water – here are some great recipes!

17. Make that awesome salt spray for your hair so you can have sexy beach waves

18. Watch movies in the park (or your own backyard)

19. Wash your car the old fashioned way – like with a sponge and a bucket.  In your driveway.  With some Aerosmith playing on the tape deck.

20. Go to the farmers’ market with $20 in cash and buy things you’ve never eaten before

21. Watch movies from your childhood in the basement (I loved this one!)

22.  Re-fashion those old concert t-shirts

24. Watch a meteor shower

25. Get some awesome temporary tattoos – they make cute, grown-up-y ones now!

Whew!  See?  So much to do!  What are some of the fun things you’re going to do this summer?

photo credit: alex jones // cc