Thursday, June 18, 2015

Big Girls Don't Cry: How to Comfort a Crying Friend

"Tomorrow, my friend won't cry."

I'm for living in the moment as much as possible, and I've found that one way to do that is to imagine a future time when your problems don't exist. It's not a goal. It's not pretend. It's acceptance: This thing that sucks right now, it's okay. It's just for now.

Tomorrow Makes It Better Art Print
Art Prints curated from Society6
One way I've applied this philosophy is in working with toddlers. There's a trick that helps when they're being naughty where you say, "That's okay. When you're 4 you won't color on the walls anymore." Often, the child's desire to be 4 is enough to get them to stop coloring on the walls.

blowing in the wind Art PrintI immediately thought of that when I cried on the phone to Katie yesterday and she said, "That's okay. It's okay to be scared today. Tomorrow, you'll wake up and you'll feel totally refreshed." I had gotten calls from three separate student loan lenders in a row, and by the third call, I threw up my hands and huffed at them to just email me. (It’s very awkward to attempt politeness while huffing, btw.)

I stayed at a high anxiety level all day. I got stuck in Studio City because every time I tried to drive, I'd start crying again. But I had Katie's promise in my head, "Tomorrow's a new day."

I felt great when I woke up this morning, and I attribute it largely to the power of suggestion.

How to Do It Wrong:

  1. Apply an unrealistic or shaming timeline for the scope of the problem.

For Toddler: "Big girls pee in the potty. I guess you're still a baby." It’s essentially the same thing as my earlier example, but the language of it is more like, “You should be better RIGHT NOW, you loser.”

For Friend: “Don’t worry, your crippling depression will be all gone in the morning.”

  1. Throw cliches at them without addressing the problem.

Calls that it was time to pay back student loans upset me enough to make me cry partly because I had a horrible college experience. Other friends I talked to jumped right to the “Let it go. It’s part of who you are” sayings, and it just made me hate myself. Katie was like, “Yeah, that’s gonna suck to have that reminder every month, but it’s not forever.” Then she gave me advice about loan consolidation. THEN she said the bit about “Tomorrow’s a new day,” when I was ready to hear it.

I don’t cry often. I definitely don’t cry to friends often. But I’m glad I did, because I do feel better. I intend to pay it forward. Much sooner than I'll pay off my student loans.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

To-Do List Friends: A Best Friend Typology

"Tomorrow, I'm going to appreciate my To-Do List Friends, and find more of 'em."

Psycho Beach Party DVD cover featuring Lauren Ambrose, Charles Busch, Thomas Gibson, Nicolas Brendon, Amy Adams
Berdine would be a good To-Do List Friend, but
I'm not sure Florence could reciprocate.
Amazon Link.
I miss having friends to hang out in sweatpants and watch campy movies with. I miss that every Saturday, when Skype-watching Game of Thrones with my brothers doesn't cut it. (That's when you queue to the the same timestamp and count down to push play.) Game of Thrones isn't nearly campy enough, for one thing. I want Psycho Beach Party or Cheerleader Massacre campy!

But lately, as I become more ambitious with my personal and career goals, I find myself missing something else: The To-Do List Friend. The kind who doubles as sweatpants friend, so you know you can trust them to see your dirty laundry. I've had a few.

How I know someone's a To-Do List Friend:
  • I would invite them on a trip to Home Depot.
  • I would help them move, paint a room, or Spring Clean.
  • We would make plans to check things off my to-do list and then do theirs the next day.
  • They would make chores feel like just hanging out.
This must be why people get married. There's always someone around to watch movies with or help you get stuff done. Well, I'm not really "there." I don't know about all that. All I know is, when I try to do everything alone, it goes much slower.

I also know it's possible to rely on others too much. I've learned a lot about independence by moving 1,000 miles away. I'm getting better at spreading out all the little tasks so the task list doesn't get so long. And that's part of maturing, too.

But the list is always there, and humans are social creatures. I have my meetup groups, my grandparents, and a few friends I'm growing closer to all the time--I'm not alone here. I just have to keep building those relationships, being open to new experiences, and giving with my whole heart. 

Sometimes lists are fun!

This post reminds me of the time Kat told me she hit it off with someone at work. I threw my arms up and said, "You made a friend!" And she threw her arms up and said, "I made a work friend!" I thought it was funny that she specified "work" friend. I guess shouting "I made a friend!" in public could make a person seem a bit...overeager.

I don't care. It's hard to make friends as an adult. Maybe we should shout more.

Buddy the Elf image source:

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Under Sink Shelves: No More Heave and Slam

"Tomorrow, I'm going to organize the cabinet under my bathroom sink."

Under the bathroom sink organization
I wish I took a Before picture so you could see how much better this is.

One of the tasks on my Spring Cleaning May to-do list was to organize my bathroom. My aunt had given me a big bag of shampoos, lotions, and pads from when she decluttered her own bathroom. I shoved it under my sink and forgot about it. So that took up a quarter of the space, and the rest of the mess was those boxes, all separated from their lids and stacked halfway inside each other.

I started my organization project by removing everything.

Then I assembled the Made Smart Under Sink Shelf (affiliate link). The parts include: four metal rods, two plastic stands, eight plastic screw caps to secure the rods to the stands, and ten plastic shelves. I like that it expands to fit the length of cabinet, I can adjust the shelf height, and the individual shelves slide to make room for the plumbing. Some Amazon reviews said it was flimsy, but it's sturdy enough for my purposes.

The only downside I see is that it's plastic, which, unless we're talking Kevlar bulletproof vests, isn't my favorite material, but I knew that when I bought it. It was toward the low-end of the price range for this type of product at $28.07. So that works for me and my budget.

Once that was set up I put stuff back. Here's how I categorized the boxes:

1. Vintage hair curlers from my great-grandma
2. Bath Stuff
3. Feminine Hygiene Products
4. Mani/Pedi Supplies
5. Travel Toiletries and Cases

Maybe for the next Spring Cleaning I'll get rid of half that stuff and have more room to stock up on tissues, tampons, and TP. And then for whatever I keep, I can get some vintage tins. I love those things.

You'll notice I also have a Command hook (affiliate link) on the inside of the cabinet door for my curling iron. I had one on the other door for my hair dryer, but it fell down after a couple months. Command hooks don't seem to like textured surfaces. I'll probably put it back up for another couple months though. It is a handy spot for the hair dryer, and I can't install anything permanent because I'm a renter.

Overall, I'm happy with the new shelves. My toiletries are much more accessible now.

I am an Amazon affiliate – that means when you use the links in my post I get a commission on all referred sales. That said, I promise to link to products and promotions I believe in.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dinner Party Guests: A Brand-Finding Exercise

"Tomorrow, I'm going to figure out who I would invite to a dinner party, and which aspects of that party define my personal brand."
Apparently it's an outdoor dinner party that includes a discussion on worthiness, playing with action figures, a concert, and trip to New York.

My goal this month is to complete 30 branding, marketing, or web design projects. It could have been too abstract of a goal, but I already have a list of 17 branding exercises from the Braid Creative e-book, Being Boss podcast, and, which all have Kathleen Shannon in common, so thank you for being so awesome, Kathleen Shannon!

These are my notes from Kathleen's explanation of the exercise in the Being Boss episode on branding: 

What aspects of your guest's personalities attract people?
What aspects of your guest's personalities seal the deal? 

Example: Brené Brown (who was going to be on my list anyway, so that works out!)
Inspire + Attract           ---          Reassure + Deliver
Authenticity                                  Methodology
Humor                                           Research
Performance                                 Organization

Chart of Sarah's Dinner Party 

This exercise reminds me of that saying, "You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with." Except, of course, in this case you're the sum of five people you admire. 

After I put my name in the 'sum' box, I felt a twinge of anxiety. Am I really asserting that I'm all these things? People are gonna think I'm full of myself. Here's the thing: I'll never present all these qualities all the time. That would make me perfect. But this is what I value, what I believe makes a "good" person, and what I do my best to put out in the world. 

My next exercise: The 'Love it or Hate it' List. Stay Tuned!

I, (Sarah), am a Braid affiliate – that means when you use the links in my post I get a commission on all referred sales. That said, I fully believe in The Braid Method as I hope is obvious in this post.

Braid Creative ECourse
Braid Creative eCourse

Image Sources
Brené Brown:
Regina Spektor:© Mark Humphrey/AP/Press Association Images
Dana Scully:
Tim Gunn: © Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
Lauren Faust:
Dinner Party:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Bath of Ice Water: Committing to My Dream Day

"Tomorrow, I'm going to use my Dream Day as a schedule template."

At this month's Live Your Legend Local (LYLL) meeting, I brought up the concept of the Dream Day. I'd heard about how your Dream Day is part of your personal brand on the Being Boss podcast.* The exercise is to describe what your ideal day looks like, from the time you wake up to the time you wrap your wings around you as you hang upside down from a cave overhead. Or put your head on a pillow...however you sleep. 

I found it surprisingly difficult to answer:

What would my Dream Day look like?

So I rephrased the question:

What daily habits would help me accomplish my long-term goals?
What daily habits would help keep me healthy and active?
What daily habits would bring the most meaning and art to my life?

I made a calendar called 'Dream Day' to help me visualize it. 

Dream Day Schedule, Google Calendar
(WIP. Definitely need a better word than "Grooming.")
Dream Day Schedule, Google Calendar

My daily life now looks nothing like my Dream Day. It looks more like this:

Exaggerated Actual Day, Google Calendar

How to Make the Dream Day Real

Jim's Idea: Jim, another LYLL participant, likened a major change like this to taking a bath in ice water. If you just stick your toe in, the chill might shoot you back and you'll never come near the stuff again. Better to commit to all of it. It's frikkin cold at first, but then you're in and it actually starts to feel warm.

Lorraine's Idea: The marathon method. Commit to one small change until you've mastered it. Repeat. She got into a solid routine for herself this way.

Before I could pick a method, I had to address a very important point everyone in the group touched on:

There's nothing wrong with my habits now.

I've never maintained a schedule like my Dream Day calendar's. However, I have met all the goals I've set for myself lately. So it looks like having a strict schedule is not essential to my success. I do the best I can with the resources available to me at any moment, so I can't assume MORE and BETTER will suddenly appear because an alarm clock goes off.

It's likely that the Dream Day, at least in schedule format, is an over-correction, forcing someone else's definition of 'a day well spent' onto myself.

But here's what I want:
1. To get sick less frequently
2. To have more energy
3. To produce more creative content
4. To find my tribe and build community

Based on what I know about metabolism science and the immune system, (which is admittedly minimal), 1. and 2. will improve with regulated sleep and eating, so:

I just gotta try it.

I'm gonna commit fully to the routine, like submerging in an ice bath, but get there by moving my schedule up one hour a day. The point is to have more energy so it doesn't make sense to wake up 4 hours earlier all of a sudden.

I'll also allow for a lot of self-forgiveness if the transition is bumpy.

*The Being Boss Podcast hosts literally only mentioned Dream Day + Branding and I ran with it. I'm not sure how they definite it or approach the topic with their clients. Maybe I'll message them to find out.