Category: life advice

How To Do Things By Yourself (And Actually Enjoy Them!)

Do you like to do things by yourself? Or you WISH you liked to be alone? Stop waiting to find someone to do things with and starting doing stuff on your own! Here's how:

Sometimes, I’m a bit of a Quirky Alone

Even though I have piles of awesome friends and a rather packed social calendar, I love puttering around the house, pawing through racks at the thrift store and poking around tiny towns all by my lonesome.

I’ve traveled through 36 countries, often by myself, and given the choice between a mediocre party filled with bad conversationalists or a comfy bed + a good book + a nice hunk of cheese, I will joyfully choose the latter.

Despite my partial Quirky Alone status, there are still things I don’t like doing sans friend.  Going to shows.  Or bars.  Or eating in fancy, couple-y restaurants.  But I’m slowly getting over it! Why? Because doing stuff by yourself is totally effing awesome.

You don’t need to worry about anyone’s time frame/budget/relationship status other than your own.  No waiting for your friend while she flirts with that douche!  No feeling rushed because your buddy didn’t find any clothes she liked!  No feeling guilty for splurging on the truffle risotto in front of your unemployed friend!  It’s all you, all the time.

Want to do things by yourself?  Here are a few tricks I use when I’m feeling a bit unsure.

1. Realize that nobody’s looking at you and nobody cares that you’re alone

I think most of our ‘alone’ related hang-ups are that we’ll look like a loser eating/dancing/movie or show-going alone.  And the thing is?  Nobody cares.  Nobody’s looking at you.  And if they are looking at you and noticing the fact that you’re alone – there’s a 99% chance it’s someone who’s about to come over and flirt with you.

2. If you really hate it, you can always leave

If you’re (very nervously) headed to a party or show on your own, remember that you can always leave if you hate it.  Whenever I force myself to attend an event, I give myself a time minimum.  “I have to stay at this networking event for at least an hour! And then I can go home and watch the new episode of Parks and Rec.”

3. Allow yourself one ‘alone-vice’

If you really want to try that new restaurant but it’s out of your friends’ price range or you’re determined to see Ireland and nobody will go with you, it’s okay to have an ‘alone-vice.’  An ‘alone-vice’ is something that you do when you’re in public alone and feeling a little bit weird or awkward.

Of course, you can play games on your phone, but you can also write in a journal, read, take photos, or sketch if you’re particularly arty.  It gives you something to do if you don’t want to make small talk with strangers and you’re sick of staring into the middle distance while you wait for the server.

Do you do things by yourself?  If you feel self-conscious about it, how do you get over that?

P.S. Safety tips for solo travel!

photos by Tonglé Dakum and Brooke Cagle // cc

6 Ways To Beat The Blues

How do you beat the blues? How do you cheer yourself up? Click through for 6 solid ideas that will get you out of any bad mood!
We all get the blues sometimes, right? Not real, actual Depression but we feel mope-y. Ill at ease. Listless and bored and without direction. How do we beat the blues? I favor a strong cup of coffee and a shower. Vanessa has even better advice than that for us!
Lately I’ve felt glum and frustrated. It’s as though the daily grind is wearing down my resolve and leaving me exhausted. Janis Joplin called this feeling the “Kozmic Blues.” We’re all touched by the blues every now and then, but there are lots of ways to break out of this slump.

6 ways to beat the blues

Lower your expectations

Many of us focus deeply on what we feel we ‘should’ be doing. We expect that our days should be filled with productive tasks. We believe that we should be perpetually gorgeous, with perfect relationships and successful careers. In reality though, it’s incredibly difficult to accomplish all these things at once.

You’re going to have evenings when you opt for take away and telly over a healthy meal and work. And that’s O.K. Lower your expectations to a more realistic level, and feel the tension shift.

Change the way you talk to yourself

It’s hard to feel good about yourself when your inner voice is talking trash. Carefully consider the way you speak to yourself. Pepper your self-talk with words of encouragement. Speak to yourself the way you’d talk to your closest friend. Click To Tweet

Make a ta-da list

A major symptom of the blues is feeling overwhelmed by a never- ending to-do list. When you always have a list of tasks you’re yet to accomplish, it can seem like you’re not getting anywhere. I combat this by making a ta-da list: a list of what you’ve accomplished that day. This will illustrate how much progress you’re actually making.

Disregard other people’s expectations

Often, focusing on what people expect of us can generate anxiety. We can begin to feel crushed under the weight of expectation. It’s important to disentangle yourself from these pressures. In your life, the only person you have to answer to is you.

So, next time you feel caught up in what another person thinks of you, ask yourself how you feel about the situation. Always remember that in your life, your needs are paramount, and you are the person who best knows how to meet those needs.

Treat yourself

When we have so many responsibilities, it can begin to feel like we’re losing touch with ourselves. Make the time each day to do something especially for you. It could be wearing a piece of jewelry that makes you feel incredible or taking a wonderful book to read during your lunch hour. Whatever it is, carve out a bit of time each day to do something that makes you feel like ‘you’.

Related: 23 ways to treat yourself without buying or eating anything

Be patient

The best things in life take time to develop. When you’re feeling down though, you might just wish these things would hurry up and get here already! Be patient, and remind yourself that things that happen over time tend to last longer than instantaneous changes. Reassure yourself that each day brings you closer to that coveted dream.

But I want to hear from you! How do you deal with temporary bad moods? 

P.S. 101 ways to cheer yourself up!

photo by Bagus Ghufron // cc

How To Pare Down Your Closet Without Losing Your Mind

Want to pare down your closet but not sure where to start? Are you painfully aware that you don't wear 70% of what you own?  Click through for one stylist's tips for decluttering your closet!
Want to pare down your closet but not sure where to start? Are you painfully aware that you don’t wear 70% of what you own? You are not alone, my friend! Thankfully, Sally McGraw is here to help us clear out our closets

Even if you love to purge your closet, chances are – you also hate it.

Clothing is imbued with emotion, steeped in memory, and parting with it can be downright painful. As rewarding as it feels to jettison long-languishing items, it can be stressful to part with pants that will never fit again, gifts from long-lost loves, expensive duds you never wore.

I’m not gonna tell you to invite your girlfriends over, open a bottle of wine, and make a party of it. You certainly can, but for many women, closet purges are extremely personal and most effective when undertaken alone.

Regardless of whether you tackle the task on your own or with help, promise me you’ll make time for it. Real time. Do not purge your closet in between other tasks over the course of a month. Set aside a full weekend day, hire a sitter, banish everyone. It sounds like overkill, but you will not regret carving out the space and time for this task. Promise.

How To Pare Down Your Closet Without Losing Your Mind

Start with your neglected, underutilized, languishing items

Try them on. Yes, all of them. Including shoes and accessories. Yes, I know it’s going to take ages. Remember, you’ve got all day. Try them on in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror.

If an item never fit in the first place, donate it

You should begin dressing for your Today Body as soon as possible. Clothing that never worked with your figure damages your body image. Donate it to a worthy cause.

If an item shames you for your body shape or shopping habits, sell it

If an item has negative associations, recouping your losses can soften the parting blow. Consign, sell on eBay, or find some other way to make a few of your bucks back.

If an item’s value is emotional, store it or document it

You can keep the shredded jeans from your carefree days in high school, but you don’t need to store them in your active closet. If you can’t bear to part with them, find an obliging corner of your basement. If you don’t have much storage space, photograph or journal about the item before you send it along to a new home.

If it is damaged, repair it 

Some items are neglected because they’re broken. Replace buttons, have shoes resoled, take ill-fitting items to the tailor.

If you love it but don’t know how to wear it, display it prominently

Many items remain neglected simply because they’re hidden from view. Move challenging items to the front of the closet so you can see them.

Don’t feel obliged to jettison everything that is currently too big or small for you

Bodies fluctuate. Many women’s bodies fluctuate on a monthly basis and having some size options on hand can be incredibly helpful.

But consider these two important things before deciding to hang onto any article of clothing that doesn’t fit your Today Body:

Are you being honest?

It makes sense to hang on to jeans a size or two away from your current size in case of weight changes. But beyond that may be pushing reason. While you may return to a previous size someday, remember that you can replace virtually all clothing. You should donate items that are far smaller or larger than you are now. Letting them go can help you accept your body and move toward loving it.

Are you hurt by their presence?

Memories of other body shapes and sizes can be painful for a multitude of reasons. Any items of clothing that prompt feelings of disappointment, shame, or self-loathing don’t belong in your closet, or in your house. Find them new homes for those pieces and focus on the clothing that inspires, beautifies, and energizes you.

Now that you’ve sussed out your least-worn items, let’s move on to your most-worn pieces. Try them on. Yes, all of them. Now ask yourself:

What is their relationship to your current style?

Some frequently worn items may fit into your current style but feel stale or tired. Consider jettisoning those or placing them into storage until you’ve made more decisions about where your style is headed. Keep anything that feels classic or quintessentially “you.”

Do they make you look good and feel good?

Ideal garments will work with your body. That means they’ll highlight your favorite attributes without causing you acute discomfort. Items that feel great but look awful should be reserved for sick days. Items that look great but feel awful should be ejected from your closet.

Some garments will fall more on the “look good” or “feel good” side of the fence, of course, and that’s fine. But always consider your compromises. Carefully.

If they’re keepers, do they need repair or replacement?

Wardrobe staples are among the items most likely to show wear and tear. How are yours holding up? If they are items that you know will endure beyond any style revisions, make sure they’re in good shape.

That probably took a while. If you were as thorough as you should’ve been, you’ve just tried on and evaluated everything in your closet. If you’re on the brink of exhaustion, call it a day. If you’ve got any energy left, take a moment to evaluate your closet itself, including organization and storage.
Your wardrobe should be clean and organized. No piles on the floor, no wads in the corner. Do what you can to keep everything tidy, as it will keep your clothes in wearable shape for longer.
Make sure your clothing, shoes, and accessories are visible and safely stored. Again, you won’t wear what you can’t see. Do your best to create a wardrobe space with few hidden corners.
Eyeball your available storage for future purchases. You will, eventually, go shopping. Do you have room for any new items? If not, can you reconfigure your current storage?
Now feel free to collapse into an exhausted heap. You’ve earned it.
Do you actively purge your closet or wardrobe? Any tips to share?
P.S. 9 ways to avoid buyer’s remorse so you don’t have to do another closet purge in a year!
Photo by Alexandru Acea on Unsplash

How To Fight Fair With Anyone

Want to fight fair? With anyone - co-worker, roommate, romantic partner? Click through for 11 tips! //

Whether you’re living with friends, strangers or your (usually) sweet and good-tempered lover, disagreements are part of life. Most of us hate confrontation, but it’s pretty unavoidable – much like taxes, reality tv, and your cousin’s boring wedding.

Here are 11 tips that will help you fight fair


You’re Smart. So What?

more important than intelligence
This guest post comes to us from Michelle!  She helps creatives move from innovation and ideas into action and implementation. She lives in sunny Austin, TX, loves funky glasses, and writes about taking your business and life to new heights at Bombchelle.

By most peoples’ definition, “intelligence” has a very narrow meaning. I am intelligent in several ways, some of which are “typical” intelligences (very fast reader, good memory) and some of which are not (good at arts and crafts).

However, my parents drilled it into my when I was a child that there were so many more important things than being intelligent, and that being intelligent does not make me better than anyone else. At the time, I just found the repetition annoying. And then, I simply didn’t think about it for several years.

Since becoming an adult, though, I’ve come to be intensely thankful for being taught this at a very young age. I’ve come across a few people who clearly think that their intelligence is their single defining attribute, and treat anyone they perceive as less intelligent with condescension and a hint of contempt. Aside from being really obnoxious, it’s effing sad.

I feel like saying to them:

Do you really think that being intelligent is more important than being a good person? Click To Tweet


Do you really think that being intelligent means anything if you do everything by the book?


There’s nothing else you love about yourself more than your intelligence? Your smile, your laugh, your ability to give a great compliment, or to look on the bright side of things, or your dogged perseverance? Because I see so many more important things to you than intelligence.

What’s more is that these people go by the standard definition of intelligence – that it’s something inborn, you have a certain amount at birth, and that that amount is set for the rest of your life. It never gets any higher or lower. So they’re so proud of something that they had absolutely no control over (as far as they’re concerned). To paraphrase Anya, “That doesn’t make you better. It makes you luckier.”

Redefining Intelligence

What is being smart, anyways? Most people today will say, oh, that’s having a high IQ. Newsflash: having a high IQ means you’re good at taking an IQ test. Does it have any meaning outside of that? Even this says “While they do not lend themselves perfectly to some views of intelligence, they have historically been fairly good predictors of school achievement (expected “ability”).”

So…what about being good at school? That mostly measures your ability (and patience, oh gods, the patience required) for memorizing information by rote and then repeating it exactly the way the teacher instructs you to. Not to mention, most schools today focus on math and science, leaving other subjects by the wayside.

What if you suck at math, but you can paint like Picasso? Chances are, you won’t be considered intelligent. Even within math and science, there’s different ways to fail. I hate chemistry with a fiery passion, but love biology. I’m fabulous at geometry (visual-spatial thinker here), but not so hot at advanced algebra.

What counts and what doesn’t? All the rules are arbitrary when it comes to intelligence. I would argue that “intelligence” should be redefined as “curiosity and the will to learn”. Your curiosity and will to learn will get you much farther than any inborn trait. And these traits can be fostered and grown throughout your life. (For more interesting reading/listening on the subject, check out this TED talk and the theory of multiple intelligences.)

5 Qualities That Are More Important Than Intelligence

1. Creativity

Creativity, as an attribute, suffers from some of the same ideas that intelligence does. Creativity is not something that some of us are born with, and some of us aren’t. It’s the ability to have original ideas that have value, and it’s something everyone is born with. (If you don’t want to or can’t watch the video, the pertinent information is that a vital part of creativity is divergent thinking. Sir Robinson mentions a study in which 1,500 kindergarten age children were given a test for divergent thinking, and 98% of them scored at a genius level for divergent thinking.)

2. Gumption

Defined as 1. “initiative, resourcefulness” and 2. “courage, spunk”.

3. Kindness


4. Compassion

I would hope for obvious reasons. The world would be a better place if we were all kinder and more compassionate. Can the same thing be said for intelligence?

5. Adaptability

Being a genius by mainstream standards won’t get you anywhere if you can’t adapt to new situations, environments, and people, and adjust your responses accordingly.I don’t care how smart you are. It doesn’t interest me. I want to know why you do what you do, I want to know what makes you happy, I want to know what your goals and ambitions and hopes and dreams are, and how you plan to get there.

Are you ‘by the book’ smart? And/or intelligent in other ways? Do you think there are qualities that are more important than intelligence?

photo credits: eli samuelu // jazmin quaynor // cc

Let’s Stop Pretending It’s Always Easy

Downplaying the effort we put into reaching our accomplishments serves no one. It creates unrealistic expectations AND you deserve praise for all your hard work! >>

 Pop quiz, friends. Have you ever been guilty of any of the following?

a) hurriedly cleaning your house before friends pop round and when they compliment your spotless space you get all “Oh this mess? No!”

b) perfecting the art of ‘I’m-not-wearing-makeup’ makeup. And then wearing it to the gym.

c) attempting to win every potluck you attend by bringing an overly-involved and impressive dessert. And then acting like it’s something you just threw together with the ingredients in your fridge.

d) removing carbs, cheese, and joy from your diet so you can look amazing in your swimsuit. And then when someone says you look great, you wax modest.

Sound familiar? No? Just me. Awkward.

I spent the better part of my twenties (and maybe the first year of my thirties) engaging in competition level Effort And Accomplishment Downplay.

All those countries I visited? Oh, it’s no big deal, you just book a ticket and go. That MA? I didn’t write a thesis, it’s just an MA through coursework. These jeans that still fit? I just got lucky and inherited a fast metabolism.

Downplaying the effort that goes into our accomplishments serves absolutely no one. Click To Tweet


If somebody wants to follow in your footsteps, you’ve just completely misrepresented the amount of work that goes into what you’ve done.

You’re (inadvertently!) creating totally unrealistic standards for others.

Most awesome things aren’t particularly easy. If you tell me that training for a marathon was “no bigs” for you and it’s been crazy hard for me? Well, now I have a complex.

You deserve credit for all the hard work you’ve done.

When you tell a friend that it’s not a big deal that you just got into your first choice grad school, you’re removing her opportunity to praise you and make the fuss that you deserve.

Now, I’m not suggesting that every time someone compliments you, you announce “Ohmygod, you won’t believe how much work went into this winged eyeliner!” But next time someone notices the beautifully decorated room/six pack abs/impressive resume that you’ve slaved over – why not say “Thanks so much! I’ve worked really hard on it.”

Are you ever guilty of downplaying your accomplishments?  What do you say when people compliment you?

P.S. 21 things you don’t have to do

photo by charlie harutaka // cc