Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: random

Making my bed and other advice I do follow

Last month I wrote a post about all the advice I don’t follow. It’s not that it’s necessarily bad advice; it’s just not for me. Which is fine. Everyone is different and I think it’s important to listen to different perspectives and take from them what you need. But I figured it was a good counterbalance to that post to discuss the advice or suggestions that I do follow.

A qualifier: I don’t follow all of these to the T. I screw up, make changes, and sometimes flat out ignore them. But overall, this are a few tips and tricks I’ve accumulated along the way to make improvements:

  1. No social media notifications on my phone. None. Not at all. Not email, IG, Pinterest. I don’t even have Twitter or FB on my phone (although I do have groups and messenger, mostly for communication with the child’s gym. These people hate email). I did, at one point, have notifications for all the apps turned on but it stole so much of my time and sanity that I got rid of it all. It has made a huge difference in my presence with people and eliminates distraction. One exception: MLB score updates on all Mets and Orioles games. 
  2. Prioritizing my time. I’m a huge advocate for the way Laura Vanderkam discusses time and time management and using her system has, well, I don’t want to say revolutionized because that’s too dramatic but drastically changed how I use my time. Basically, instead of trying to do everything, I’ve whittled down my core competencies and what’s essential and important to me and fit my time around achieving the goals within those. I might be mixing up messages from two of her books but whatever. It works for me. 
  3. Meal planning. I don’t meal prep. I discussed that last time. I do, however, meal plan. I’m not a good enough cook to look at a whole bunch of random ingredients and mix it all up into something palatable nor do I have a good enough memory to remember recipes or what I need to buy at a store (or have on hand). Meal planning makes me pay attention to what I’m buying (saving money FTW) and it also assures that I know what I’m cooking and how to do it properly. It also answers the question “what’s for dinner?” I hate that question. 
  4. Sleep routine. Confession: my sleeping habits are shit. I have a terrible time falling asleep, staying asleep, and all that jazz. It’s even worse when my anxiety hackles are up. I had tried everything but what’s really helped is having a routine. And not having electronics in the bedroom. True story: we don’t have a TV in our bedroom and I won’t even read an eBook before bed, no matter how good it is. The combination of those has led to me being able to sleep decently 4-5 nights per week which is a HUGE improvement. 
  5. Making my bed. I forgot where I saw this originally but it basically said that making your bed sets up the rest of your day. It helps you feel organized and put together and some other helpful shit like that. And you know what? It’s true! There’s something about making your bed that separates night from day and says “let’s get today going”. It also makes my room look neater (and, considering my husband is a class A slob, any little bit helps) and keeps the dogs off the sheets. Everyone wins!

So there you go. Some of the advice I DO follow. 

How about you guys? What are some tips or tricks you’ve learned along the way that have made a difference in your life? Which ones do you recommend I try? 

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My introvert activism

With 45’s presidency in full effect, we’ve reached a level of activism in this country (and around the world) that I’ve never seen in my almost 40 years. If you’re like me, you want to get involved any and every way you can except there’s one problem. You are a raging, textbook introvert. Crowds intimidate you. Confrontation, particularly on Facebook, is difficult. Calling people on the phone is nerve-wracking and while good for an introvert in theory, is almost as difficult as confrontation. 

Basically, if you’re an introvert with a people aversion (like me), typical activism is not your cup of tea. But, fortunately, there are still things you can do to support your cause or #resist. I’ve talked a little bit about this before but here’s what else I’ve been doing:

  1. Voting with my money. I don’t have a ton of disposable income right now (thanks, Disney World. #cheermomproblems) but I do set aside some to contribute where I can like the ACLU or Planned Parenthood. I also frequent stores, businesses, and other places that align with my beliefs and don’t support hatred and discrimination. 
  2. Social media. While I don’t engage in discussions on FB, I will share posts on Twitter or support other activists on their social media platforms. For instance, a friend of mine is a concert producer (like big time. Runs the shows from behind the scenes) and she frequently uses the hashtag #damselinsuccess on IG. There’s also an IG account where they share what they’re working on and highlight other women (similar to Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls). Following them, commenting, letting them know I support what they’re doing is sometimes the encouragement activists need to keep going. 
  3. Wear my label. I know this is mental health thing but it works here, too. Steph is really good at showing her feminist wear, and sharing others who make various products, so you can check out her site for ideas. But a simple, easy way to let people know where you stand is by wearing it. On your shirt, on your wrist, on your car. It’s subtle, maybe it’s passive aggressive, but that’s just fine by me. 
  4. Write letters. Or postcards. Calling is not my scene. I’ve never been a big phone person. I’m great face-to-face or in writing but the phone makes me weird and nervous. So you can imagine how hard it is for me to pick up the phone and call my representatives’ offices. EVEN THOUGH I know their job is listen to me, write it down, and move on, and they’re not judging me (seriously. My husband worked for Senator Carper and it was literally his job to answer the phone, write down constituent complains, pass them along, and then stop caring about it), it’s still difficult. So letters it is. 
  5. Buy or make things. I’m not crafty at all but if I was, I’d be making signs for my friends who do attend protests or making jewelry to sell or whatever other creative, artsy thing I could do. I could write a book like my friend Sheila and her friends did (and all the proceeds from the book go to Planned Parenthood) but let’s be honest, I’d write it and then not promote it. So instead, I’ll buy the things and share the things made by people braver and craftier than I. 

I’m sure as time goes on, I’ll find other ways to make my voice heard but for now, this will have to do. 

Other introverts, tell me what you’ve been doing? Anything working really well for you or anything working not at all?

 

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Smash the patriarchy. Stop the bullshit.

Before we get started, I just want to say that I had intended to start this post with some sort of definition of “smash the patriarchy” that was better than what I could come up with. So I Googled it. Pro tip: Don’t do that. It will send you into a rage you didn’t think possible because some of the definitions and opinions floating around are exactly why this phrase needs to exist. 

Okay. Confession time. I’ve never really considered myself a feminist. I mean, I didn’t NOT consider myself one but I never put myself in the same category as the women out there campaigning and championing women’s rights. I mostly kept my thoughts and feelings to myself, even though I’m a raging liberal with a need to see justice and fairness and equality. I didn’t find it necessary to speak up or out or engage with people who are so blind as to see why equality and diversity are essential or have overt misogynistic or homophobic or racist tendencies (mostly because I hate confrontation but also because sometimes it’s easier to smile, nod, and walk away than engage. You know who you can have a conversation with and with whom you cannot).

But now I’m raising a daughter in the Trump era and my God, I just cannot keep my mouth shut anymore. 

Because I refuse to have her believe she can’t do anything she wants or be anything she wants or look anyway she wants simply because someone else told her it’s not ladylike or, the even more demeaning, “girls don’t do that”. Oh, really? Says who? I certainly didn’t tell her that. So who the fuck are you to say it? (And what the fuck is “ladylike” anyway? It’s a bullshit term that needs to go.)

Because I refuse to have believe her body doesn’t belong to her. And it’s bullshit that this country is passing laws that takes her autonomy away. 

Because I refuse to have her believe she has to be ashamed of who she loves, whomever that may be in the future. And it’s bullshit that gay marriage is still up for debate. Or that it’s even called gay marriage. Why can’t it just be marriage?

Because I refuse to to have her believe that she can’t change the world if she wants to. And it’s bullshit that people are still threatened by powerful women. Aren’t there countries in the word LED by women? (And hey there, RBG and Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama. I see you. My daughter sees you. And we thank you.)

Because I refuse to have her believe that our laws are purposefully designed against her and she has to fight for equality. And it’s bullshit that women still don’t receive the same pay and are told things like take off your engagement ring before a job interview (it’s true. I don’t even want to link to it because it’s so damn offensive on every level possible, including his response to criticism). WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? 

Because I refuse to have her believe she doesn’t have choices. And it’s bullshit to think she’ll be scrutinized regardless of what she chooses. Women, this one’s on us, too. The mommy wars and mommy shaming and sanctimommies and career moms vs. SAHM and moms vs. non-moms needs to fucking stop. PRONTO. We need to support each other and stand up for one another. You don’t have to agree with someone’s choice, and it might not be what you would do for yourself, but you do have to respect it. All of these problems will persist like herpes if we can’t get it together and unite. 

I know that the ideals in this country run deep. It’s how things have operated for…well, basically forever. But we’ve changed our minds before. Women can vote now. There’s term limits on the presidency. Hell, prohibition existed and then a few years later, it didn’t. Because people realize that once worked no longer does. Or that some laws are just fucking stupid.

That’s where we stand now. 

What used to work in this country doesn’t work anymore. 

Now is the time to redefine old fashioned ideas, ideals, and vocabulary. 

Now is the time we smash the patriarchy.

Now is the time we stop the bullshit.

Smashing the patriarchy isn’t about violence or hating men. It’s about eliminating the double standards and nonsense laws and absurd standards placed on women (and minorities and any other disenfranchised groups). It’s about making the elite, white men given the enormous responsibility of creating our laws understand that different means just that. DIFFERENT.

It doesn’t mean bad or threatening or scary.

And different deserves respect, rights, and protection, too.

 

My Christmas not to-do list

December is a weird, expensive month for my family. Between Christmas and Hanukkah and the child’s birthday, all of our money goes away. We manage it the best we can but still. See you in January, cash, along with my sanity, organization, and clean(ish) house. 

That said, we do have some holiday traditions that, thankfully, are free or mostly free. Driving around to look at lights, decorating gingerbread houses (from a kit, usually purchased a Michael’s with a coupon. Please do not think I’m ambitious enough to make that shit from scratch), and watching The Muppets Christmas Carol. In fact, here’s our full list. It’s pretty much remained the same in the two years since I wrote it. 

But since I like balance, let’s talk about all the thing I do not do at Christmastime. 

not-to-do

  • Employ The Elf on the Shelf. First of all, it’s fucking creepy. Second of all, I’m way too lazy to remember to move the thing. Third, why am I going to make messes and projects that I’m going to have to clean up? 
  • Drink from Starbucks red cups. I hate Starbucks coffee. It’s disgusting. I’m not a fan of their hot chocolate either. And why am I going to pay $9 for a cup of hot tea simply because it’s in a red cup? Or spend 48 minutes in line waiting to spend $9 on tea in a red cup? I’m not. So I drink my candy cane tea from my Muppets mug instead and I don’t even have to leave my house. See also: eggnog. Why does it exist?
  • Send holiday cards. This is one of those “one day I’ll do it” things and finally I realized that no fucking way is it ever going to happen because I’m too forgetful and I lose addresses and like with the creeper Elf, lazy. I’m sorry, friends. I love you but no cards from me. 
  • Watch Love Actually. Confession: I’ve never seen it. I’m not really sure I care to. Don’t even know where to find it if I did want to watch it. See also: all the other Hallmark/Lifetime type Christmas movies. 
  • Wear holiday manicures. The closest I’ll come is some sparkly red nail polish I have. But snowmen or Santa hats or whatever the hell else ambitious people get painted on their nails? No and no.
  • Listen to Christmas music. This where it gets tricky. While I LOATHE most Christmas music, some of the nontraditional songs are pretty fun. My husband, however, enjoys all the songs so we compromise. I made a playlist mixed with both types and we listen to it on only two days: gingerbread house day and Christmas day. 
  • Attend an ugly sweater party. This implies that I’m going to attend a party and I’m 100% confident that is not going to happen. 
  • Have a cookie baking day. I make 3 ingredient microwave fudge and one type of cookie. It takes 20 minutes. That’s all I’m willing to spend. Besides, I work from home and I shouldn’t be left alone with peanut butter fudge and the husband works with 5 other people and last year, all the stuff I sent to his work got thrown away so fuck them. 
  • Encourage my child to wake up at 5AM to open presents. Mama needs her sleep. Don’t mess with that. 

I’m sure there more things that I don’t do and I’m sure I’ll think of it later. That’s pretty much the story of this time of year. 

How about you guys? Is there anything you don’t or won’t do around the holidays?

 

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The importance of being honest

If you’ve spent any time around these parts, you know that one trait I cannot stand is lying. I have a zero tolerance policy for it. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you’ve done something, admit it. I might be angry at the action or lack of but I’ll be even angrier if you lie to me about it. I find lying to be one of the most contemptible, reprehensible behaviors and, if you lie to me, we’re essentially done. I already have major trust issues; I don’t need them confirmed with lies (in fact, being lied to is precisely WHY I have trust issues but that’s another topic).

But I get that sometimes a lie might be necessary or not entirely mean spirited. For instance, your weight on your driver’s license (why is this even still a thing?). Telling a 6 year old that Santa is real. Or pretending you’re going to a nice dinner when it’s really a surprise party. Shit like that. I can let those types of lies pass. 

However, there’s a whole list of lies I cannot. Here’s a sample:

  • Seeing someone with food in their teeth and say no if they ask. Especially if that person is me. If I ask and I do, let me know. I don’t want to walk around like that. See also: tags sticking out of clothes, toilet paper on shoe
  • Breaking or losing something I’ve lent you and then pretending like nothing happened. Just tell me. I won’t be mad. I promise. 
  • If you’re angry with me. I cannot stand passive aggressive behavior and if I’ve done something to upset or anger you, please tell me so we can work it out. We’re adults. 
  • Telling me I look good in an outfit if I, in fact, do not. Trust when I say you can’t be harsher on me then I am on myself. 
  • Continuing to work or maintain a relationship with me when you no longer want to but instead of saying something, you just disappear or forget to get back to me or something else shady. Just own up to your feelings. I can take it. Ghosting is the ultimate insult. 
  • Making promises you don’t keep. 
  • Pretending to be something or someone you’re not. 

Even more than the things you should always be honest with me about is one key thing you need to be honest with yourself about. And that thing is being honest about what you want from, well, life in general. What are your goals? What do you see your life looking like 5, 10, 20 years from now? What’s important to you? You have to admit those things, sans fear of judgement, because it’s your life. You need to do you. And you can’t fret about upsetting or displeasing someone else, even if that person is a parent or spouse. You need to prioritize your happiness and enjoyment. 

If you’re worried it’s too late, it’s not. You can always, ALWAYS start over. 

I know because I’m right there with you.

I recently found a picture of 24 year old me. She was so full of everything–confidence and hope and promise and believed in herself and her goals. Then I look at a picture of 39 year old me and holy shit, have I let younger me down. I have not fulfilled any of the promises I made her. 

I am a liar.

I hate that about me.

I will tell you, it makes me insanely uncomfortable to admit certain things to myself (never mind out loud). It’s that whole “deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties” part of myself that I’m scared of. I’m scared to stop lying and start owning what I know is my truth. But I know that the only way anything will change is if I do that. 

Being honest is fucking scary, y’all. 

But if we’re not honest, then we’re liars. 

And liars are assholes. 

Let’s not be assholes. 

 

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