Monday, March 2, 2015

True Story: I Live On A Commune

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of Heather and her decision to move to a commune in Costa Rica.

Tell us a bit about yourself! 
Once a country bumpkin, now even more of one? I spent my childhood in a tiny town southern Maine, and generally hopped around the northern realm until I moved to Montana in my mid-20’s. These days I call northwestern Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Peninsula home- in a community called PachaMama

I wear a few different hats in my professional life: here in the commune I do social media and marketing, as well as teach yoga. On my own, I am a life coach and work remotely with people all over the world. And I kind of can’t believe it, but I’m 30. 30!

For those of us who don't know, what exactly is a commune?
This is a tricky one- it can mean so many things, depending on the intention of the people who create the space! In our case, we’re international- though a large number of the residents here are from Israel, so we’re kind of modeled after a kibbutz. There are about 70 residents, individuals as well as families, who choose to live together in a community because we are drawn together by a unifying purpose and intention.

I’ve only been here for a little over a year now, so I can only speak to the current expression of the commune- the path of meditation and silence, inner work, living closely to the spirit of the land, and creating a ‘mystic school’ of sorts. We host retreats, workshops, cleanses, and other transformational events and experiences throughout the season.

Our commune isn’t entirely self-sufficient in the way that many would think- here in the jungle we’re still learning how to use the wisdom of permaculture to grow our own food. It’s tough going with all the creatures and the extremes of the climate! We harvest a lot of the super foods that grow around here naturally and do our best to make as many of our own products as we can, though. And of course- there is a big emphasis on creating as little impact on the earth with our lifestyle as possible.

I'm sure when a lot of people hear 'commune' they imagine polyamory and soy milk. In your experience, what are some of the biggest misconceptions about commune living?
Hah! I think you nailed two of the biggest ones, right there. 

What I actually see most often, to be quite honest, is a total projection of what it must be like to live in a perceived utopia. That everyone always is happy-go-lucky and totally in love with each other. That money grows on trees (yes, we still need money to exist, even in a commune!). That nobody ever gets stressed, or sick, or tired.

In reality, it’s like living in a constant workshop. Every day is an opportunity to look closely at your judgements, your fears, your self-doubts, your communication skills, your personal agenda- because in a small community like this one, it’s in your face, 24/7, being reflected back to you for your care and attention. There’s still heartbreak. There’s still stuff to fix in the house. The kids still throw temper tantrums. We’re regular people living in a magical place, sure- but there’s still Real Life stuff to take care of.

What appealed to you about living in a commune rather than just, say, moving to the country or sharing a house with a few friends? 
It actually just kind of… happened. A calling on the astral. Who knows. I came here a few years back to do a yoga training without any knowledge of the full depth of this place, and completely fell in love. When I left to go back to the US I knew I had to come back for longer to really drop in and meet the essence of the community. I knew there were untouched depths. I wanted to know more and to dive deeper. The energy of an international community really inspired me to expand what I believed to be available to me! I’m fortunate that my work as a coach and yoga teacher allows me to do my work from here.

It’s possible that moving in with a few friends could’ve somewhat scratched the itch, but living in a very dynamic community just feeds a part of me that always craves adventure and challenge. I meet new people constantly as visitors come and go, and I’m constantly learning from everyone’s journeys… it just suits what I need in life. I think a lot of those who live here fall in that category… we’re seekers. Travelers. We’re always looking for opportunities for growth and expansion.

How did you get into the commune? Did you have to 'apply'? Do they have a set number of openings? What are the logistics surrounding membership?
Becoming a part of PachaMama is more based on staying here for a while as a guest, getting to know the community, the energy, the intention of the place, and learning whether it’s a good fit on both sides. One has to be really, really in tune with the intention and energy of living in a commune for it to be a beneficial adventure!

From there, a conversation is had with some of the longtime residents around making the commitment- it’s a much more heart-centered process than logistical. It’s really becoming a part of the family- sure there are practicalities, like weekly meetings for making decisions and keeping everyone plugged in, but it’s just got to feel right.

Tell us about commune's lodging and the day to day! 
This is another common misconception, at least here! Although in the early days of the commune everyone lived in tents, now that’s not the case. I’m blessed to live in a beautiful, simple house- since we are in Costa Rica, most of the houses are some sort of open design, sometimes with one entire side of the house open to the forest. With electricity and internet, yes- though those are sometimes subject to the weather and the stars it seems! 

We do have a commune “restaurant” that serves three meals a day, which is especially important for the times of year where we have a lot of visitors here for workshops and retreats. A few of the residents staff the restaurant and, I must say, make incredible vegetarian, high vibration food! We do also have kitchens in most of the houses, so I usually do breakfast at home.

Most of the residents have some sort of job in the community… whether working in the office, caring for the facilities, tending the gardens, or working in the school. And we have a thriving volunteer program- these travelers bring so much life and new energy and teachings to the community and help keep everything flowing, so this program is really vital.

With 70+ residents, I'm sure conflict is bound to arise. How do you guys work through that? 
We use many of the same techniques we use in our group workshops- sharing circles and processes, offering a safe space for people to air their concerns and grievances. You know, I’ve already learned so much from living with so many non-Americans about communicating clearly and honestly. Other cultures aren’t so afraid to say what they mean, clearly and concisely. It’s been a real deprogramming of my American sensitivity to what we perceive as “harsh” truth!

The ‘leader’ question is always an interesting one. We have a teacher, a spiritual guide, and an inspiration named Tyohar. He was the catalyst for bringing this community together years ago, when the original group of intrepid adventurers pitched the first tents, and he continues to be a guide in this grand social experiment. He’s incredibly committed to the vision of the community, and protective of the meditative space. The “Buddha Field”, he calls it.

He’s also an incredible DJ, wildlife photographer, and rabid football (soccer) fan :)

What personality traits does someone need to 'be good at' commune living?
You can’t take things personally… otherwise it’s easy to get offended daily because you’re with the same little community through thick and thin, and people are bound to be in a bad mood at some point! Flexibility is also key. If you’re attached to planning and predictability, you’re setting yourself up to go crazy.

 Clear and direct communication is a must, so you need to be willing to express what you really think and feel in a given moment. A desire to live in a constant state of problem-solving and growth. There are always challenges to be addressed, and we’ve got to approach it as a unified community! “Status quo” just doesn’t exist in this kind of community.

What has surprised you about this?
I think perhaps what I underestimated the most was just how differently we all approach daily life. I’d met people from a wide number of countries before but never fully understood the depth of those subtle differences! Like I mentioned before, as an American I’m in the minority here, so I’ve really had to learn how to connect and communicate all over again. Pretty much everyone else in the world communicates way more clearly and directly than we do. That was a challenge at first.

How long do you anticipate staying there?
A good friend of mine says the title of my autobiography should be, And Then, We’ll See. I don’t know, to be honest! At the moment I’m super happy living here. And I could imagine myself being here for quite a long time. But I’m also completely open if life guides me on another adventure along the way!

What's one thing you've learned from this that any of us could apply to our daily lives? 
While you’re looking at a group of friends, imagining yourself to be an outsider, they’re looking back at you and wondering, “Why doesn’t she come and say hi?”

Exclusivity is almost always created from within, and projected on others :)

Thanks so much for sharing, Heather! Do you guys have any questions for her?

P.S. True Story: I gave birth at home and True Story: I live with the hill tribes in Thailand

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, friends? I've been ghostwriting a book, dog sitting my guy's weird little goat-dog, and weeping over the apparent demise of my beloved Roomba. So, you know, prettttty eventful round these parts!

Links for you!

A blog I'm really enjoying: Thrift Me Pretty.

In case you wanted to buy me a St. Patrick's day gift, I'd be preeeeetty happy with one of these jellyfish airplants.

Things to eat/bake/cook: rainbow spring rolls, summer squash and zucchini lasagna, warm and comforting acorn squash breakfast porridge.

Also: how to make perfect nachos.

Have you been watching Fresh Off The Boat? It's based on celebrity chef Eddie Huang's memoir and he's not 100% thrilled with it.
"This is a HISTORIC network-television show inspired by your life, and it’s going to get Americans excited about us. It’s never going to be the book; it’s never going to be Baohaus. It’s Panda Express,and you know what? Orange chicken gets America really excited about Chinese people in airports."

The Web Of Good News - what a lovely idea!

A whole blog devoted to tiny houses. Tiny House Swoon, indeed!

Paper incense, you say?

I love this idea! Sara lets people stay in the studio apartment in her building for free - in exchange for some sort of barter or trade. Help out around the house, paint, write, everybody's got a useful skill! If you'd like a little vacation to a tiny village in Yorkshire, get in touch!

A cat + tea cafe! In San Francisco. Obviously.

I love this. All the feelings it is possible to feel, indexed.

The anger specific to reading Joyce Carol Oates’ Twitter feed

Bread and crying

Too high up in a building

Spending too much money online but not returning anything
Isn't this purse gorgeous?

I don't particularly care about washi tape. And yet ....

I can 100% empathize with this. When I first moved back to America I was as "WHY IS BACON $5?!!" The cost of things in the U.S. after living away for 14 years
Brussels sprouts ($10)
“Brussels sprouts!” my friends say when we meet at a Clinton Hill bar, “let’s get Brussels sprouts!” I’m confused: The last time I ate them in America, Brussels sprouts were foul miniature cabbages that my mother served without ceremony or enthusiasm on midweek dinner plates. Truths: roasting does them good, as does good olive oil and sea salt. And yet: every time another small plate of sprouts is set on a table or bar before me, I wonder if there’s a cabal of American farmers and moms behind it.

Tricks to make a tiny living room look awesome!

Can we re-brand our entire state as a 'north' instead of 'midwest'?

Spicy honey? Into it.

Homosexuality is illegal in Papua New Guinea and punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Thankfully, the country's gay and transgender community are finding safety and support in a sleepy, seaside village.

Hope you had a lovely weekend, friends!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

What If you actually enjoyed running? (Is that even possible?)

This post is brought to you by those cute pink sneakers you bought with the best of intentions, the letter U, and Up & Running.

I really, really wish I was the type of person who enjoyed running. 

What if I was one of the people who ran first thing in the morning - watching the sun rise over the city as they logged their daily 5k? What if I wore my running tights to actually run, rather than wearing them to walk to the co-op? What if running was something other than THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE EVER? 

Maybe it's time for me (and you if you'd like to like running) to check out Up & Running. They're an organization that helps women reconnect with their bodies and the great outdoors, through running ecourses that help you train for 5ks, 10ks, and half-marathons. If you're not quite ready to run, they've even got an Up & Moving course for the walkers among us.

How does running make your life awesome? When Up & Running creators Shauna and Julia asked their students, they got answers like this:

“One time a young punk stole my handbag and ran off…. but I could ran faster than him, so I chased him down and got it back!” — Lucia

“When you’re over 50, it feels very, very good to have something even approximating a ‘runner’s ass/arse’.” — Katherine E

"When endorphins are circulating, sex is even better!” — Lucy T

"I have an excuse to leave the house and be all by myself and my thoughts for as long as I want to run.” — Erica A

Awesome, right? If you're ready to actually use those cute pink sneakers, follow along on Twitter or Instagram.

I offer two sponsored posts each month. If you'd like 150-ish words, five images, and five links devoted to your URL, check out my rates and info here or drop me a line at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org and we'll get you started!

Friday, February 27, 2015

What to do when you feel ‘should-y’ about your business

If I'm the only one who's ever felt like they should be doing something different in their business (even though they were pretty sure they'd hate it) .. well, if I'm the only one who's ever felt that way, I just wrote a blog post for myself. 

If you've ever felt that way, my friend Laura cured me of my Shoulds. I'm sharing her wisdom over on my small business blog today

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Do you really, actually hate that thing?

i hate everything

My name is Sarah and I hate salads.

Why would I hate something so innocuous? Why waste time and energy thinking unkind thoughts about a pile of vegetables? 

Let me count the ways, guys.

1. I hate that I have to prepare a salad from scratch every time I want to eat one. Sure, salad, I'd just loooove to spend 10 minutes cutting things into small pieces. That'd be a super fun use of my time.

2. I hate that each forkful of food is an endeavor. I want each bite to include all the bits of the salad (spinach AND tomato AND feta AND carrot. Oh, and that sliver of almond, too.)

3. I hate that all the best bits (the cheese, the nuts) end up in a dressing-covered pile on my plate because I can't seem to make them stick to my fork during the initial stages of salad-eating. 

These Salad Issues mean that I consume my vitamins in the form of microwaved frozen vegetables or bag after bag (after bag) of baby carrots and hummus. I narrow my eyes at those pre-washed bags of spinach and harumph-over $15 salads at fancy lunch places. 

But after years of believing I hate salad, I made this little number.
And reconsidered. 

Because really? It wasn't so much that I hated salads. I hated some aspects of most salads.
I hated making them from scratch each time.
I hated lettuce. I hated scouring my plate looking for a piece of avocado to add to my fork.

But I didn't hate salads. 

Of course, I immediately wanted to apply my salad-based epiphany to everything else in my life that I 'hated.'

And you, I imagine, could too. 

Do you really, actually hate road trips?
Or do you hate the stomachache that comes with gas station food?
Or the motion sickness?
Or having to listen to terrible local radio stations?

Do you really, actually hate organized sports?
Or do you hate the shitty teammate who yells when you miss the ball?
Or the pulled muscles?
Or that you look dumpy in those basketball shorts?

Do you really, actually hate going home for the holidays?
Or do you hate sleeping on that lumpy pull out sofa?
Or your aunt's insistence on asking why you're still single?
Or the totally-not-vegan-friendly meals?

All of those are legitimate reasons to not like something. But my salad-inspired epiphany requires me to point out that you might actually like road trips if you packed luscious picnic lunches that you ate overlooking something gorgeous.

You might really enjoy organized sports if you stretched a bit more and played on a different team.

You might not mind Thanksgiving at Aunt Judy's if you brought your own snacks or a really nice airbed.

Of course, you might also discover that nope, nope you still hate road trips and softball will never, ever be your game.

But in the process you might also hate those things a little less.
And wouldn't that be lovely?

What things have you (erroneously) thought you hated? What changes have you made to 'hated' activities to make them nearly-enjoyable? I'd love to hear your insights!

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

photo by Guyon Morée // cc

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New Thing: Watch 'An American In Paris'

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try; it's part of how I live my life on purpose. Some of these new things are exciting, many are terribly mundane.

My 14-year-old self loooooved musicals. Like, sing-into-my-hairbrush, audition-for-everything loved

RENT? I saw it live.
Gypsy? I can still sing the Caroline The Cow song from memory. 
I had big ol' roles in my high school's productions of The Wizard of Oz and The Secret Garden and recreated that fork-as-a-comb scene from The Little Mermaid, oh, always. 

But as I got older - and a bit more cynical - all that singing and dancing lost a tiny bit of its luster. I was annoyed by songs that didn't seem to fit into the plot and I was fairly sure gang turf wars weren't solved by dance offs. I still loved Pitch Perfect and Empire ... but not quite as much as I would have circa 1997. 

So I wasn't sure what to expect when I checked out An American In Paris from my library. Would I be able to suspend my So Adult disbelief and eye rolls and just enjoy the costumes and dancing and fluttering eyelashes?



An American In Paris centers on Jerry Mulligan, a ex-GI who has stayed in Paris post-war to paint. He and his French friend Henri inadvertently fall for the same perfume store clerk, a shockingly young woman name Lise. Add to this a rich, 'older woman' who wants to 'sponsor' Jerry's work and hijinks, obviously, ensue.

Some commentary, in bullet point form: 

* Gene Kelly dances with such joy I'm convinced he'd be tappity tapping around flower markets with little French children even if he weren't a famous movie star. It was all I could do not to google 'adult tap classes' ten minutes into watching this.

* Gene Kelly was only 5'7"! His 'older woman sponsor' was played by Nina Foch - who was 5'9" ... daring casting for the day, no?

* Women of the 1950s: HOW U GET UR WAIST SO SMALL? Really and truly, how did you do that? I mean, it's unlikely that I'd actually do whatever you did because I like my comfy, stretchy yoga pants, but I'm just saying: I'm impressed.

* Let's take a moment to roll our eyes and make gagging noises that the age difference between the male characters and the female character they're both pursuing is 19 years. Gross, guys.

* The tiny houses we currently love don't have a thing on Jerry's studio apartment. Note to self: sleep on a cot that's on pulleys.

* Henri is supposedly an 'aging cabaret singer' but the actor was actually three years younger than Gene Kelly. Enter: distinguished graying at the temples.

How do I know all this? Because my friends and I googled it between brie and nut pate. Apparently I can't completely lose myself in musicals any more.

How do you feel about musicals? Did you love them - do you still? What are your favorites?

P.S. Other well known movies I watched for the first time: Casablanca (pretty good) and The Godfather (really good!)

photos by fanpop // classic hollywood central // the red list // daley screening 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

4 Ways To Get Around Your Landlord's 'No Nails' Policy

This is guest post come from our DIY/design contributor Thalita of The Learner Observer! Thalita writes about easy, cheap ways we can all make our small, rental spaces even cuter. Follow along with her on Twitter or Instagram!

Do you want to live in a cozy, interesting space that feels like your own? Of course you do!

But it's pretty hard to do that when your landlord won't let you put nails in the wall to hang things. Well, fret no more because I'm sharing the internet's bestest with you today to help you hang artwork without causing any kind of damage to your walls!

Washi Tape

Yes, it's a completely overused and officially, just about everyone is sick of hearing the word "washi", but that doesn't take away its sheer awesomeness. After all, you can use to hang your art and make super cheap frames while you're at it!

hanging art with washi tape

You can mix and match, and if you ever get sick of one of your 'frames,' just peel the tape back and try another!


And if you're thinking "great, but I don't have anything I can tape up to my walls", then worry not. Just go ahead and make your own art out of the tape itself!


If you don't happen to be as artistic as the genius who created these cranes, then how about a full tutorial for you?


Command Strips

Another invention from the renting gods for us. If you've never tried these, they actually work, you guys. For real. You have to use them properly - meaning put the corresponding side on the wall, and when you go to remove, pull on the tab, keeping it as close to the wall as possible. No damage. Perfection! Kind of a great way to hang light artwork, like old maps - all while saving on frames!

Hang maps on the wall

And if you want to use Command hooks, not just the strips, you can hang frames without losing any sleep over the potential havoc being mad eon your walls. There will be no havoc.

Lean It

If none of these options really seem that appealing to you and you're looking for big, huge impact, well then find yourself some big art and just lean it on up - against the walls!

Art on the floor

Large frames are not that hard to come by - have you EVER been to Ikea? So this is a cool and unusual way to showcase your artwork.

art leaning on wall

It doesn't even have to be all that big - just think outside the box and remember that not all of your artwork has to be hanging neatly on the walls!

leaning art on wall

Sticky Tack

Yes, that's the scientific term. Seriously, though, go back to your good ol' dorm days and start making little balls of sticky tack to put on the back of your.... photos! Yes, that's right. JUST like in College! Except... way cooler...

Get really grown up about it and put it above your mantle. I mean, what's more grown up than a big, impressive piece of art above your mantle?

hang photos on the wall

And if that's not impressive enough, make your own wallpaper and scare the bejeezus out of your landlord!

instax wallpaper

And there you have it. Now you have no excuse to have bare walls, and your landlord has no excuse to yell at you! It's a major win-win.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Eerie, Sad Song I'm currently obsessed with + March ad space

The first time I heard this, I immediately stared at my car's clock so when I got home I could look it up on The Current's online playlist.

And those lyrics:

You were born into an ocean; I grew up in a swimming pool
underneath the band-aid colored pain.
I had barely learned to hold you; I had barely spoke your name
when I began to love you without shame

I mean.

If you too love weird, spooky, sad songs maybe we should be friends. And even if you don't, you might want ad space on Yes & Yes.

Who advertises here?  Life coaches. Etsy shops. Indie fashion labels. Travel websites.  Artists.  Designers of all types.  Who reads Yes & Yes?  Smart, funny, awesome women.  Mostly 18-35 English speakers - though there are plenty of teenagers and above-35s who stop by as well.  If you're a Big Deal Brand and you're interested in working together, check out my past partnerships with Blowfish Shoes and Shutterfly among others.

Sidebar ad space is available in one, two and three month packages with pricing discounts at two and three months. All 220 x 100 sponsors will be included in the mid-month sponsor introduction post.


$80 and $200 sponsors also have the option of offering discount codes to Yes and Yes newsletter subscribers (4,300+ people!) at no additional charge.

Some facts about Yes and Yes?
Daily unique visitors: 3,200 - 3,500 a day
Page views: 240,000+ per month
Twitter followers: 7,220+
Facebook fans: 4,670+
Blogspot followers: 3,290+
Google Page Rank: 4
RSS feed subscribers (between Feedburner, Bloglovin', Feedly)12,000+
Newsletter subscribers: 4,300+
Sponsoring Yes and Yes has been one of my most effective ways to advertise my coaching business. Each time I've advertised on Yes and Yes I have seen a spike in traffic and an increase in newsletter subscriptions. I can also attribute at least 4 new clients to my sponsorship of Yes and Yes. If you have a business or blog whose target audience is savvy 20- and 30-somethings then Yes and Yes is the perfect way to advertise to them. - Nailah Blades, Polka Dot Coaching

Advertising on Yes and Yes was such an awesome investment!  As a blogging n00b, it's been great to see several huge spikes in traffic, growth in my readership, and a bunch of new subscribers and Twitter followers.   Not to mention, Sarah is totally rad to work with.  I highly recommend grabbing a spot on her site! - Emily, Awesomania

Interested? I'd love to have you! Drop me a line at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org and we'll get you all set up!

True Story: I'm an Abortion Doula

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of Melissa and her volunteer work as an abortion doula. It is estimated that 1 in 3 American women will have an abortion at some point in her life. 

Tell us a bit about yourself. 
My name is Melissa, and I'm 24 years old. I currently live in Philadelphia, which is where I was born and raised. I graduated from college a few years ago with a BA in Gender Studies and Sociology. In my free time I like to visit flea markets, bake scones, crochet, and cuddle my two adorable cats. 

I think most of us associate doulas with the birth process. What does an abortion doula do?
The job of an abortion doula is to provide physical and emotional support to women terminating their pregnancies. Although doulas are more commonly associated with birth, there is also a need for empathetic supporters during abortion procedures. 

How did you get into this? 
I'd already been volunteering as a patient escort at the same clinic for a few years when I signed up for the abortion doula training class- I'd heard about the program and was interested, but I didn't know if I'd be cut out for that kind of work.

I signed up for the training class knowing that if it wasn't for me, I could just not continue with the program. The main training class is about nine hours and covers everything relevant to abortions including the legislature in our state, the specifics of the procedure, and how to be a compassionate support person.

After we completed the training class (and passed the required background check/child abuse clearance), we were required to shadow another hand holder to get the full experience (it's much different than reading about it or even watching a video). After a few shadowing shifts, when we feel comfortable, we are able to start working alone. 

Can you give us an example of a normal interaction with a patient that you're working with? 
Depending on the day and how many patients the clinic has, I might see each woman for anywhere from a few minutes to upwards of 20 before the doctor actually walks in the room to begin the procedure.

Usually, the doctor's medical assistant will let me know that there's a patient waiting in one of the procedure rooms. I walk in and introduce myself, and let her know that I'll be with her during the procedure if that's something she wants- most patients are open to having a support person (the patient is not allowed to bring their own support person into the procedure room; everyone besides the patient has to sit in the waiting room), but some want to be alone before the procedure.

I generally start by asking if she has any questions about the procedure, how she's feeling, if there's anything I can do to relieve some of her nervousness, and so on. Sometimes the patient is chatty and the conversation just carries on from there; sometimes I have to think of new topics, especially if we're sitting for a long time waiting for the doctor. Small talk can be surprisingly difficult! Pretty much everyone likes to talk about food, since they haven't eaten in a long time (to prep for the procedure) and are hungry.

I'll ask about their jobs, school, holiday or vacation plans, their children if they have any, anything they want to talk about; or, if they want me there but want don't want to talk, that's fine, too. Once the doctor and medical assistant come in the room, the procedure starts pretty much right away and is over in just a few minutes. During that time, I will hold the patient's hand if she's comfortable with that, talk her through the procedure, let her know how much of the procedure is done and how much is left to go, try to make sure that's she's taking slow, deep breaths and doesn't feel lightheaded.

Afterward, the medical assistant and I help the patient get dressed and walk her to the recovery room, where she'll sit for about 15 minutes with a nurse monitoring her, until she is ready to go home. Some patients ask that I find their friend/partner/mom in the waiting room, and I'll try and track down the person to let them know that the procedure went fine, but that's usually the end of my interaction with the patient. 

How have your patients benefited from your work? 
Patients tell me that they're glad that I was there with them during the procedure to support them. So much of the public discussion about abortion leaves out women's experiences- it's validating and comforting to have someone to talk to about your experience that won't judge you for your decisions about your own body. Some women are grateful to just have someone to take their mind off things for a few minutes when they're nervous about the procedure. Any medical procedure can be scary if you have to go through it alone, and just being able to hold someone's hand can really help alleviate some of that anxiety. 

Obviously, abortion can be an extremely emotional experience and I'm sure working in this environment can be very trying for you. How do you take care of yourself?
It can be emotionally difficult to work in this type of environment. Usually, each volunteer only works one shift per month to avoid becoming overwhelmed or burnt out. The importance of self-care was emphasized in our training, and we know that it's okay to take a break after a particularly difficult case.

I like to walk around the city for awhile and spend some time outside after a shift to clear my head. Sometimes it can be helpful to talk to friends or other volunteers about our feelings as long as no identifying information is revealed (patient confidentiality is obviously very important). 

If we know someone who is having an abortion, how can we best help them work through their experience? What are some things we SHOULDN'T say or do? 
I think the most important thing is to not assume how they're feeling about the situation. Abortion is a controversial and emotional issue in our culture and it can be hard to not project our own feelings about it onto others. For some women, it is a sad, emotional experience, but many others only feel relief when it's over. It's best to let the person tell you how she feels. You can be supportive by listening if she wants to talk about it, offering to drive her to her appointment or to sit in the waiting room with her, make her soup afterwards, just keep her company, etc. Ask her what she needs and how you can help if she needs it. 

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Melissa. Do you guys have any questions for her? Note: I realize that abortion is an extremely controversial subject. Polite, articulate disagreement is always allowed, inflammatory comments will be deleted.

photo: simon cocks // cc

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, guys? I somehow managed juuuuust the right balance of work and play (something that very rarely happens). Lots of writing and blogging, mixed with dinner parties, bad movie nights, and brunches. Lovely!

Links for you!

I've got space for two more hookup requests and a few more hookup offers in March's Network of Nice. Send me 100-ish words about your non-Googleable, non-promotional idea at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org.

A book idea I wish I had: Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature's Most Memorable Meals. Like, Heidi's cheesy toast and The Bell Jar's crab meat-stuffed avocados!

Also: grownup Poptarts!

It's so rare that I add a blog to my RSS feed, but I've been loooooving Into-Mind. She recently wrote a great post about how to make learning and personal development a regular part of your life.
Unless you want to become a world famous pianist or compete at the Olympics, you don’t have to achieve mastery to get to a level you can be proud of or to enjoy playing the piano or running or anything else that you want to do. And while true mastery might require a huge time investment, you can get good at most skills pretty quickly. 

It's totally gimmicky and I 100% don't care. I love thisfancy water bottle with its charcoal stick filter.

Have you heard of the GTFO app? It lists all the flights with available seats leaving your city that night - listed from cheapest to most expensive. Wouldn't that be fun for a last minute getaway?

What if you set Charity USA as your homepage? You can benefit leading non-profit organizations by clicking on the free contribution button daily, making a micro-donation, and shopping for gifts, apparel, jewelry, and home décor.

OF COURSE Rifle Paper's redesign of Anne of Green Gables is gorgeous.

Discuss: “Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from
Here’s my life. My husband and I get up each morning at 7 o’clock and he showers while I make coffee. By the time he’s dressed I’m already sitting at my desk writing. He kisses me goodbye then leaves for the job where he makes good money, draws excellent benefits and gets many perks, such as travel, catered lunches and full reimbursement for the gym where I attend yoga midday. His career has allowed me to work only sporadically, as a consultant, in a field I enjoy.

Related: How I (Sarah Von Bargen) make money as a full time blogger

An Airbnb treehouse!

A pretty take on food blogging - watercolor-ed recipes.

Have you heard of Feasted? It's like 'Blue Apron' ... but for families living on a tight food budget. So important and helpful!

As a former linguist I loooove the Twitter feed @darewords - it's a round up of regional American English.
cheechako: a newcomer, tenderfoot. [Chinook Jargon; Alaska, Pacific Northwest]
stomp: a male rustic or someone who dresses like one. [New Mexico]
Hannah Cook: in various phrases signifying insignificance, often of persons, e.g., “He don’t amount to a Hannah Cook.” [chiefly NEng]

An app that silences your phone when it knows you're in a meeting, driving, sleeping? Into it.

A sweet message on a receipt for a pizza.

And a few Yes & Yes posts you might have missed: Settle the eff down (or how to stop psyching yourself out), How to get over a breakup, 11 ways to make your home feel happier and more like you.

Hope you had a great weekend, friends!