Category: life advice

How To Become A Morning Person (Or At Least Fake It)

Is it possible to become a morning person? Can you create a morning routine you actually enjoy? You can! Click through for 5 tips to use today.

Would you hate me if I told you that I’m one of those awful morning people?

Most days I pop out of bed completely awake, all full of intention and purpose and eye boogers. I’ll be the one chattering glibly in your ear while you try not to punch me in the throat.

But of course, I wasn’t always this way. I spent most of my childhood waiting till the last possible moment to leave my bed and most of college growling at people who dared talk to me before 10 am. The nerve!

Now, I’m not sure that a dyed-in-the-wool night owl will ever be able to cross over completely to the land of Brightandearly, but there are a few things that can help you ease into your day with as few curse words as possible.

5 ways to become a morning person

Sleep Well

Blowing your mind, aren’t I? But mornings are obviously less painful if you can wake up feeling rested. You probably know all the tricks already, but they bear repeating. Go to bed and wake up at the same time. Sleep in a dark, slightly cool room. Don’t do exercise, watch exciting TV, or read exciting books right before bed.

Make sure you’re getting enough aerobic exercise. Don’t drink caffeine after 4 pm. Sleep in something comfy. Have the right pillows and mattress. If you’re looking for something to help you sleep, try some Chamomile tea or a bit of lavender aromatherapy.

Get the right alarm

Of course, you’re going to be an unpleasant breakfast partner if you wake up to a shrieking alarm clock! Why not try dawn simulator (I swear by mine). You could try setting your phone to wake you with something lovely and sparkling? I like Chicago by Sufjan Stevens, but you could use chirping birds, Feist or robot noises if that’s your thing.

You can get alarm clocks that vibrate you awake and even one that you turn off by shooting it with a retro video game gun! Or you can just leave you bedroom door open and awaken to your cat licking your face.

Make your morning as relaxed as possible

You’re bound to hate mornings if you’re only allowing yourself 15 minutes to shower, get dressed and eat breakfast. This might seem counter intuitive, but I actually enjoy mornings more when I get up earlier and give myself plenty of time to read blogs, eating a nice breakfast and try on seven different scarves.

I try to save a variety of little treats for myself in the morning – really nice Greek yogurt, swanky good-smelling Aveda hair products, a really good cup of peppermint tea. They all make the morning a bit nicer!

If you can’t manage to wake up any earlier, channel your second-grade self and pack your lunch, shower and choose your outfit the night before. You’ll save yourself a) time b) a headache.

Engage in some non-threatening physical activity

I’m not going to recommend that you work out first thing in the morning. I mean, it is a really good idea, but I wouldn’t do it so why encourage you to do so?

However, I do love a good three-minute stretch, a few rounds of the sun salutation or even just rocking out to my favorite song. I can very highly recommend The Knux or Wild Beasts for the latter! If there’s any way that you can walk or bike to work, it is not an exaggeration that it will change your life. It’s so lovely to see the sunrise against the skyscrapers and arrive at work all pink-cheeked and awake.

When in doubt, add caffeine

Really, a cup of coffee or strong tea can make all the difference, right? Of course, developing a 9-cup caffeine addiction isn’t particularly advisable but a single cup in the morning never hurt anybody.

Of course, you can also get an energy boost from a bit of deep breathing, a hand full of peanuts, drinking a big glass of cold water or singing a few bars of your favorite song.

Are you a morning person convert? If you’ve got some good tips, share them in the comments!

P.S. Becoming a morning person is just developing a series of habits – this will help!

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez and Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Should I pursue my dreams or a steady paycheck?

Do you feel like you have to choose between pursuing your dreams and a steady paycheck! If that's you, click through for some goal-setting, dream-chasing tips and advice!Sometime opportunities present themselves that put a big monkey wrench in the works! You decide to pursue one dream but then “adult” life comes calling—which is the right path to choose? One reader asked me this question:

Dear Sarah Von,
I recently made the decision to leave my current employment. The original decision was to leave in late October, do some traveling and go back to school in the winter. But before making the decision to go back to school, I applied for public servant positions which pay 10K more than I currently make and would allow me to have a stable income to start my “adult life.”
Now after three months they are calling me to do interviews! I am completely conflicted and have no idea what I should do – pursue the high paying career or go back to being a student and work in something that I adore?
Oh, giiiiirl! That’s a tough one – and I think I might just shock you with my incredibly pragmatic answer to this million-dollar question about pursuing dreams or money.

Should I pursue my dreams or a steady paycheck?

Here's the thing about dreams: they usually need funding. Click To Tweet Traveling the world, going to school, starting a business, buying a house, dressing your dog in exclusively brand name gear – all of these wonderful things require dropping some change.

How you choose to earn that money is up to you. I have a friend that house sits and tutors (in addition to her full time job) to finance her summer mountaineering expeditions. I know people who have taken jobs because of the tuition waivers that come with working at a university. And don’t we all know an artist/writer/actor who’s waiting tables on the side?

I would never, ever advocate pushing your dreams aside in favor of an unappealing, soul-crushing ‘stable grown-up career’ just to make a few bucks. But who’s saying you have to commit to this job for the rest of your life? Or even for more than a year?

Related: How to get a job housesitting

Why not take the job for a year, keep living with the ‘rents and sack that big, grown-up salary away for future dream-funding? You’ll be able to travel for longer, fund your education or save it for a down payment on house later in your life. I’m not sure what you’re planning on studying in school, but perhaps it’s not the most money-making of majors?

If you’re not going to be pulling in six figures in your future job as a social worker/teacher/nurse, you could use the money that you make at this public servant position to put down on a house/car/set of braces, as you might not have heaps of disposable income once you start working your dream job.

I think the trick here is not to get sucked into this job, if you do, in fact, take it. Remember that you took this job to finance other things and as a means to an end, not to start climbing up the ladder of public servantry.

Many of us have experienced the phenomena that is the expandable budget – no matter how much money we make, we somehow seem to save the same amount. $2,000 a month and you save $400. $4,000 a month and somehow you’re still only saving $400. What?!

So look at the way you spend your money now (which I imagine is a significantly smaller paycheck) and continue to spend like you’re earning that amount, even when you move up into the next tax bracket.

Post pictures around your room of that places that you’ll travel with this money, read books about your chosen career, smugly check your bank account balance and think about how many classes/flights/Indian saris that money will buy you.

If you’re concerned that you won’t be strong enough to walk away from the money and the stability that this job offers once your one-year anniversary comes round, there are steps you can take.

Don’t get drawn into drama at work and keep up with friends that remind you of the greater goal you’re working towards. Really, this all adds up to just a bit of delayed gratification. But aren’t most good things worth waiting for?

What advice would you guys give our would-be traveler and student?

P.S. If you’re trying to figure out the balance between money and happiness, this will help.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Be The One

Be The One

You know that slightly annoying email forward about Anybody, Somebody, Everybody and Nobody? The one you’re aways getting from that well-meaning second cousin? The one about how any of us can take action, can do the tiny things that everyone puts off and avoids because we think someone else will take care of it – but no one ever does?

But let’s do it. Let’s be the one.

the one who
puts the big bill in the busker’s hat
calls the police on the neighbor who’s always yelling and slapping his wife
cleans out the disgusting microwave in the break room
tells the 10-year-old girl that she’s amazing
points out that ‘gay’ and ‘retarded’ are not synonyms for ‘stupid’
starts a compost bin out back for the whole apartment building
plans the surprise birthday party
thanks the teacher/nurse/policeman for a job well done
leaves the extra-big tip for the harried student waitress
keeps in touch with grandmaWhat are the things that you’ve been avoiding – thinking somebody else will do them?


Photo by DAPSCR // cc

15 Interesting Things To Do This Autumn

Looking for things to do this Autumn? Look no further! This fun list of fall activities will fill up your calendar with tons of great ideas!  #fallfun #autumnactivities #fallbucketlist
Yes, yes, tis the season to drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte and talk about how it’s officially Sweater Weather. Let’s use this season as an excuse to try new things and have tiny adventures!

1. Relive your school days with a community ed class or by signing up for one of an online class.
Food photography! Knitting! Screenwriting!

2. Make piles of leaves
Jump in them. Hide in them and then jump out when people walk by.

3. Add layers to your favorite summer outfits before packing them away
You can do so much with leggings, scarves, camisoles, blazers! Here’s a whole Pinterest board devoted to transitioning your outfits!

4. Thrift and felt an old wool sweater
Make it into a hat! mittens! arm warmers!

5. Write a letter to a teacher who changed your life
And then actually mail it. I’ve done this several times and it’s ALWAYS lovely.

6. Cook with seasonal produce
Maybe some sweet potato soup? Or apple butter? Or squash risotto?

7. Revamp your office space
Maybe an inspiration board? Some cool posters? How about these cute paper clips? Or this cute stapler?

8. Go apple picking
Yes,  it’s cliche BUT IT IS ALSO AWESOME. Or pumpkin picking. Or help a CSA with its seasonal clean up.

9. Go on a hay ride
Roll around in the hay, get straw in your hair, kiss your person and make inappropriate jokes about ‘taking a roll in the hay’

10. Send a box of leaves to someone who lives down south – or in another hemisphere
I remember nearly weeping with happiness when I got to smell autumn leaves while living in Taiwan.

11. Volunteer with school kids
Or better yet, become a big sister/big brother.

12. Consider an alternative to pumpkin carving
Painting? Or etching? Or making them look like they’re puking on your steps?

13. Tuck pretty leaves between the pages of your favorite books
to be found in depths of dreary March when you would give anything for 50-degree weather

14. Engage in a mini-redecoration of your living room
Maybe a nice textured throw for snuggling, some velvety pillows, switch out a few of your framed prints for something moodier and a bit darker.

15. Prepare your pet’s Halloween costume
No, really. Do it. Rasputin has a much-beloved (by me) bee costume that he can usually be cajoled into!

What fun things are you up to this fall? What are your favorite September/October activities?

P.S. How to Hygge (or 29 ways to actually enjoy winter)

photo by Autumn Mott // cc

I’d Like More Adventure Please!


I’ve had a lovely September – making risotto, attending end-of-the-season barbeques, hiking and canoodling with the FOaF. It’s been fantastic! However, adventurous? No. There has been no sandboarding, no pack mules, no 17 hour bus rides.And I can feel myself getting itchy feet – not just for travel, but for adventure itself. I’m committed to staying in Minnesota for at least a year, to save up for another World Ticket and kind of reboot my travel settings, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a bit of adventure in my life!In my mind, a proper adventure requires one (or more) of the following things:
1) a sense of The Unknown
2) a liiiitttle bit of danger

3) a bit of discomfort (either physical or psychological will do)That sounds rather ominous doesn’t it? But a proper adventure fills you with that feeling of “Holy Shit!” and “Whooo-hooo!” and “I can’t wait to tell everybody about this!” Some of the ways I’m going to adventure-up this season?

Forget the map and get a bit lost
I once had an excellent weekend in New Zealand, turning right until we got to the coast. We camped out on a cliff overlooking the ocean, befriended the local fisherman and spent the day throwing smooth white stones into the water.

Take a bus adventure

Try a new ethnic restaurant and let your friend order for you
Just hope they are sensitive to your feelings about Norri. And eggs. And wilted greens.

Take a Travelocity last minute trip
I’d like to do one of these with my girlfriends this winter, when everything’s awful and snow covered. A round trip flight plus hotel in Atlanta for $250? Yes please!

Jump off the high dive

Sled/ski/tube/roll down a big hill

But learn from me and make sure your car keys are not in the pocket of your loose-fitting jeans when you do this.Dye a strip of your hair a ridiculous color

Go on a ride that scares the sweet-bejesus out of you
I guess I might have a date with Camp Snoopy.

Visit a cultural festival that you know nothing about
No, Oktoberfest doesn’t count! How about Diwali or Dia de los Muertos or Santa Lucia Day?

Stop by your local Scientology branch
Only recommended in pairs and with your sense of humor firmly in tact.

Go to a place (relatively) near you that is significantly different
Think about the culture, the income bracket, the language. It can be a fancy-schmancy suburb, the inner city, the next state over, Las Vegas, Quebec, a hippie commune!

Try a new type of transportation
scooter, horse-drawn carriage, bicycle-built-for-two, convertible.

What do you do when you’re feeling the need for a bit of adventure?

A Reminder

a reminder you

I know you know this. But. 

It’s good to remember that you (and I!) are capable of innumerable amazing things.

We can:

Someone's going to do amazing things. It may as well be you. Click To Tweet