Category: good ideas

2015 Jean Louise “Scout” Finch

Jean Louise was one of those women who was so smart she was good at just about everything, which mostly meant she’d never fully commit to being good at any one thing.
She’d gone to Duke on a full scholarship – based mostly on amazing test scores. She’d never really developed a taste for high school and continued to be annoyed with the entire institution with the exception of field hockey and A.P. English. Once she got to college she changed majors four times (Cultural Anthropology > Earth and Ocean Sciences > Global Health > Philosophy) before settling on the pre-law track.
This quietly pleased Atticus, but he staunchly refused to admit it. Whenever Scout returned home for the holidays he’d complain loudly about his cases and make sure she knew ‘what she was getting herself into.’  Every time she insisted she knew what she was doing, he’d have to take a long swig of sweet tea to hide his grin.
Ultimately, Scout never went to law school. She took a year off after undergrad to ‘find herself,’ leading Outward Bound courses and dating lots of cute people with dreadlocks. She hiked the Appalachian trail and visited Jem in India where he was working with Doctors Without Borders. She hitchhiked across the Sedona but never, ever told her family because she knew they would patently disapprove.
Age 30 found Scout doing deeply unglamorous, deeply important social work in the south. She found housing for people who needed it, connected families to resources, drove her clients to job interviews. Of course, there were trying, challenging days, clients who’d skip appointments or fall off the wagon – again. But every single day Jean Louise Finch did her very best to understand life from other people’s points of view, to climb inside of their skin and walk around in it.
photo found on pinterest – let me know if you’re the original source!

Good Idea: Baby Shower ‘Thank-You’ Text Messages

This is an occasional post series I’m trying out! Short and sweet, sharing clever ideas I’ve picked up from my ridiculously smart and well-mannered friends.

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When you enter your thirties, everyone you’ve ever met will begin to have babies. You will become well-versed in Facebook pregnancy reveals (my favorite was a runner friend who changed her profile photo to include a tiny pair of running shoes next to hers!) and you’ll spend every Saturday afternoon at baby showers.

Common etiquette tells us that when we give someone a significant gift – especially a baby or wedding gift – we can/should expect a thank-you note. But when someone is preparing their life for a loud, sleep-depriving new human? Those thank-you notes are probably low on their priority list.

And then they might feel guilty. And you might feel annoyed.

So let’s all steal my friend Laura’s idea: instead of that new mom spending her limited free time handwriting thank-you notes that you’ll immediately recycle, how about she texts you a photo of her baby using the gift you gave her? 

It’s way easier and lots more fun. Just have someone take notes on who gave her what and their phone number so she can photograph and text at her leisure!

If you’ve got any tips for making baby or bridal showers easier or more fun, I’d love to hear them!

photo by Vanessa Kay // cc

Good Idea: Fancy Breakfast Foods As Hostess Gift

This is an occasional post series I’m trying out! Short and sweet, just sharing clever ideas I’ve picked up from my ridiculously smart and well-mannered friends.

hostess gift ideas
My friend Kate is one of those humans who’s so put together and on top of it you’d resent her if she wasn’t so awesome. Like, why do you have the answer to almost every question, Kate?! And why is your hair always so shiny? And how did you find the world’s most perfect winter coat while the rest of us are toddling around in sleeping bags with arms?!
Annnnnyway, Kate recently introduced me to The Sweetest Hostess Gift Idea and I’m passing it along to you guys so we can all ‘win’ at dinner party guest-ing.
Next time you attend a Friday or Saturday night dinner party, instead of more wine or flowers, bring your hosts fancy breakfast treats! They’ll think fondly of you the next morning when they’re nibbling on your treats among the dirty dishes and empty wine bottles that mark any successful dinner party.
If you’re a DIY-er you could make some Oatmeal Cookie Granola or a Spicy Zucchini Frittata. If you’re more of a pick-something-up-at-the-store type, you could gift them some amazing donuts, mimosa-makings, a loaf of artisan bread and some ripe avocados, or just some berries and nice Greek yogurt!What’s your go-to hostess gift? I like to give these as house warming presents!
photo by jules // cc

2015 Lizzy Bennet

Last month, I imagined Anne Shirley in 2015, this month we’re talking about everyone’s literary BFF, Pride and Prejudice‘s Elizabeth Bennet.
Lizzy never expected to find herself 25 and living with her parents.
She certainly didn’t expect that she’d be 25 and living with her parents, her sister Jane, and that insufferable, selfie-obsessed Lydia. Of course, it wasn’t surprising that Mary was still at home (she was working on her dissertation about water metaphors in classic Russian literature) and Kitty was still in high school …. but Lizzy never thought she’d be sleeping in a twin bed across the room from Jane, post-college.
Lizzy had moved home to help her parents run their rental cottages in Dartmouth. The whole cottage thing was a late mid-life crisis on her dad’s part and though she loved him dearly, Lizzy thought the whole thing was ridiculous. Why sell the farm and the big house to invest in a bunch of tumble down shacks by the sea? Mother couldn’t be counted on to talk any sense into him – she just nattered on about how now they’d be around wealthy weekender types and how those Kardashians really knew how to live life.
Lizzy didn’t listen. She was too busy writing copy for the company website, updating their Twitter account, and attempting to be civil to customers to care much about keeping up with Kim. Jane wasn’t much help – as gorgeous as she was, she’d inadvertently become a muse for a local Instagram celebrity so she was always off, posing for photos on beaches and cliffs with her hair swirling artfully around her pretty features.
Kitty spent all her time snap chatting, Lydia was trying (and failing, thankfully) to become a camgirl, and Mary spent most of her time picking fights with everyone about water metaphors/Russia/sexism in academia. Mother was always pestering Lizzy about trying online dating. Lizzy had given it a try but deleted Tinder after Mother had wrestled her phone away and right swiped 15 questionable men.
All this meant Lizzy needed some time out of the house and away from the family.
Which is how she ended up at a house party at the big place down the road, thrown by some out-of-towners named Bingley and Darcy.

“Darcy?” she thought. “What kind of last name is that? Sounds preeeeetty hoity toity, ifidosaysomyself. He’s probably all handsome and rich and full of himself. Ah well, if nothing else, it’ll be fun to meet the neighbors. That’s the whole point of living here, right? To make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them?”….

Can you spot the direct quote from the book?!

P.S. If our favorite Disney princesses lived in the modern day. Jasmine obviously has a BA in Public Policy with a minor in music.

photo found on tumblr – please let me know if this is yours so I can correctly credit you!

2015 Anne Shirley

This is a new post series idea I’m trying out – imagining our favorite female literary characters navigating life in 2015.

Anne obviously got into the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence on the first try, her collection of poems about birch trees moved the admissions team to tears.

Of course, it was hard to leave Diana on Prince Edward Island, but they kept in touch with emoji-filled texts and frequent Skype dates. Anne was always trying to include her little rescue dog in the calls and Diana spent 40% of every call lamenting her weight. Anne always responded with “Well, you know I think your curves are delightful,” and then she’d send her a link to that Meghan Trainor song.

Anne still got in trouble for talking constantly. Though her ‘Rate My Professor‘ reviews were generally positive, there were still plenty of comments like “couldn’t get a word in edgewise when I went in for office hours” and “seems obsessed with water metaphors and speaks in an overly poetic manner about normal shit. Just give me the assignment, you know?”

Anne wasn’t sure what life held for her after graduate school. She loved the life that she’d built for herself in New York – the sweet little pots of herbs on her fire escape, chats over tea with her Gender Studies PhD roommate, afternoons spent picking through piles of sweaters in the neighborhood thrift stores.

Maybe she’d move to Japan and teach there for a few years. Maybe she’d tag along with Gilbert on a Doctors Without Borders Trip. Maybe she and Diana would start a Youtube channel, reciting pop lyrics in a dramatic fashion.

Whatever happened, she knew she was up to the challenge. Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it.

P.S. 2015 Scout Finch and 2015 Lizzy Bennet

photo of model luca hollestelle

Give Self-Deprecation A Break Today. Add Your Honest, Unvarnished Proud Moments Here.

Are you guys familiar with the art of the humble brag?

Our good friends at Urban Dictionary define it at “Subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor or “woe is me” gloss.”

If we’re friends on Twitter or Instagram I’m sorry to say you’ve probably seen me do it, oh, all the time.

Tweet:
Oh, you know. Just busy inventing knee injuries so all the cool old ladies in water aerobics class will accept me as one of their own.
What I really wanted you know:
I went to a water aerobics class! It was really fun! I’m pretty proud of myself for trying something new!

Tweet:Oh god. Listening to lite jazz and making roasted cauliflower with nutritional yeast. I’m a caricature of myself.
What I really wanted you know:
I’m healthy! Also: I’m really into nutritional yeast right now.

Instagram:

What I really wanted you know:
I’m vaguely active! I used to live in New Zealand!

Instagram:

What I really wanted you know:
I am outdoorsy! My friends are interesting and awesome!

Exhausting, right? Why do we do this? Why the never-ending battle between loving our lives and undercutting ourselves and our accomplishments? Why are we (re: I) constantly toeing the line between self-deprecation and pride?

Pride is a tricky, sticky thing. I’ve pulled out a tiny soapbox and crowed about why you should stop pretending that your perfect life came easily. I’ve posted photos of good moments in my life and staunchly refused to temper them with self-deprecating humor.

Annnnnd then I got totally annoyed when my friend called herself funny and charming.

I’m not necessarily advocating for a world or internet filled with people pounding their chests and greeting each other with recitations of their accomplishments. And it’s important to know your audience. Maybe we shouldn’t celebrate our promotion with our friend who’s been unemployed for six months and perhaps the wedding reception details don’t need to be rolled out in front of our friend who just filed for divorce.

But I think we can all acknowledge it’s a little heartbreaking to internally labor over conversations or social media updates in our heads – thinking about how we can possibly frame our good news in a way that doesn’t annoy or threaten people.

So today, dear reader, let’s give that self-deprecation a break. Let’s just go ahead and be happy and unflinchingly proud.

I know being thumbs-in-your-suspenders proud can be hard. Despite the blog post you’ve just read, you might not be ready to tell Facebook that you love your job, you know look amazing in this cardigan, and yes, you’re aware that your new curling wand is doing wonders for your mane.

So let’s make this a safe place. In the comments, I’d love it if you told us a few things your proud of, no footnotes or asterisks allowed. You can even do it anonymously if you’re more comfortable with that!

I’ll start:

I’m proud of the home that I’ve made out of my little apartment. I’ve put a pretty ridiculous amount of work into it (like, custom-made wooden blinds levels of work) and it’s finally a cozy home that reflects who I am and where I’ve been.

I’m proud of my ability to (politely, diplomatically) complain to airlines/mechanics/building managers and make myself heard.

I’m proud of my ability to juggle five on-retainer clients, two blogs, a busy social life, and one very lovely partner.

Do you struggle to be openly proud of yourself? Do you find yourself tempering your excitement or good news so you won’t run people the wrong way?

In the comments below, tell us what you’re proud of!