Category: life advice

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

11 Super Fun Ways To Celebrate Your Birthday

There are so many ways to celebrate your birthday beyond drinks with friends or a sad ice cream cake in the staff room! // yesandyes.orgI have a milestone birthday looming in the not-too-distant future and have been biting my nails over The Best Possible Way to spend one’s birthday.
A big party in Minneapolis surrounded by friends? At the top of the Empire State Building with my favorite New Yorker/college roomie? In Boston, amid the bricks and accents? On a mountain top, all by my lonesome, meditating on the last three decades?

11 fun ways to celebrate your birthday

Borrow a tradition from another culture

Apparently, Norwegian school children pick a friend and dance in front of their classmates and Israeli kids make themselves a crown of feathers. I’m particularly interested in the Russian tradition of a birthday pie with a greeting spelled out in the crust! (I’ll take strawberry rhubarb, please.)

Go to the top of your city’s/state’s/country’s tallest building at sunset

Take pictures in that perfect golden light, blow bubbles from the observation deck, thrust your arms behind you and holler about being the king of the world. Lots of tall buildings have a swanky restaurant or bar at the top so you can double dip here, getting dolled up and grabbing a free birthday drink.

Do something that makes you feel proud

Hike to the top of a mountain. Purge your closet. Forgive your ex. Reach out to that friend you haven’t talked to in ages. Finally schedule that doctor’s appointment. Chop all your hair off. Attempt that recipe you always thought was too hard. Start the next year of your life on the right foot!

Write a letter to yourself in five years

What’s your life like right now? Right this minute? Where will you be in five years time? A ranch house in the ‘burbs? Opening for Feist? Barrel racing?

What do you hope will be different in five years? What do you hope will be the same? Do you have any advice you’d give Future You? What’s one change you could make today that would be helpful to Future You?

Get a ridiculous manicure and pedicure in birthday-worthy colors

Bright pink? With rhinestone? Or maybe gold with LV decals? I am all over this one, y’all.

Eat all your favorite foods

All.of.them. If it’s not financially (or gastronomically) viable to eat out for three meals, head to the grocery store and stock up on all your favorites.

My perfect Birthday Meals would be:
Breakfast: Mixed berry fruit salad // a cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting from Lunds // bacon (I’m usually a vegetarian)
Lunch: The Bun Chay salad with fried tofu at Trieu Chau
Dinner: Ricotta ravioli // super buttery garlic bread // green salad // chocolate molten lava cake

Go to a live show

Even better if it’s a band or performer you know nothing about. Open your city’s free arts & entertainment newspaper and go to the most recommended event that night, sight unseen

Get everything you possibly can for free

Free admission to Disneyland! Free Video Rentals! Free Sephora Gift! Or you could just go out to eat for every meal and see how many times you can get singing waiters.

Plan a long weekend getaway with your closest friends

Wouldn’t it be great to ring in your new year, on the porch of a beach house, drinking champagne with the friends you loved most? Poking around a little tourist town, going out for brunch and buying sea shell earrings? Or paddling around the bay in kayak, getting a bit sunburnt?

Buy a star for yourself

Name it “Birthday Girl”

Make a list of all the awesome things you’ve accomplished in the last year

Too often we get hung up on what we haven’t done, the items that never seem to get crossed off our life to-do lists. Pour yourself something delicious, hunker down somewhere comfortable, and systemically think through the previous year and list every single cool, impressive, challenging thing you’ve done.

(If you need help jogging your memory, look through your Google calendar and your Facebook events!)

Throw yourself an amazing party

Don’t wait for your BFF/partner/family to throw you a shindig. If you plan it, you can choose a theme, the food, the guest list. Only the best for you, bunny.

How do you celebrate your birthday? Any good suggestions for ringing in my 30th?
photo by annie spratt // cc

11 Ways To Make Your Home Feel Happier + More Like You

Want to make your home feel happier? Of course you do? Click through for decor tips and design ideas that will make any space happier, cozier, and more personal
Many years ago, I went through A Very Bad Breakup. When my three-year relationship ended, I moved into an adorable little shoe box of an apartment and decided that this little place was going to be a bastion of joy and silliness and positivity.
Slowly but surely,  I happy-fied my apartment, making it impossible to feel anything other than glee while hanging there.

Here’s how I made my home feel happy + more like me 

1. Put up pictures of you and your friends being hilarious, adorable, amazing

Too often my walls are decorated with Etsy finds or tastefully abstract art. But isn’t it much more fun to cover the fridge and cork board with the photos of you and your friends wearing matching technical gear? Or hiking all over?

2. Make it smell happy

Aromatherapy is for real,guys. There’s a scent-treatment for whatever ails you. Buy an essential oil diffuser and then choose an oil for whatever ails you! Focus better, relax, or energize.  Smell your way better!

3. Paint an accent wall a color you love

Colors make a huge difference in how you feel about a space. When I moved into my apartment, it featured awful flesh-toned satin-finish paint on every blessed wall. No one wants to live inside a skin ball. But! Now it’s white with accent walls in a color best described as mermaid. And I feel so much better.

Choose a color that will help you feel the way you want to feel. Here’s a great article about how the colors of your space affect your moods and which colors are best for which rooms.

4. Stock your fridge and pantry with food you love

Things that are depressing: opening your fridge to discover you have a bag of moldy radishes, one Coors light and a slice of leftover pizza. Grocery shopping is the one avenue where I allow myself to spend indiscriminately and I love stocking my kitchen with food that thrills me: strawberries, wine, baguettes, fake bacon, tiny fingerling bananas. It’s lovely open those doors and feel happy about what you find.

Which (relatively healthy) foods do you love? What slightly-fancy foods do you ‘save’ for special occasions? What if your special occasion was “I nailed that presentation at work!” or “I finally purged my closet!” Celebrating little victories is one of the keys to a happy life.

5. Consider a Non-cheesy Inspirational Poster

Yes, such a thing exists. And no, I’m not talking about those awful black-edged numbers with someone standing on a mountain top. Art.com has some excellent choices that will work with your decor and won’t embarrass you in front of your friends.

6. Add a Bit of Greenery

Plants are our friends. I am absolutely in love with my balcony garden of tiny vegetables and herbs and I hope to increase my herb family to include a Venus fly trap and one of those fantastic tiny pepper plants. Plants seem to make a space feel friendlier, don’t you think? They’ve been shown to decrease stress while increasing productivity!

7. Incorporate Favorite Things into Your Decor

This might not be an issue for non-Virgos, but I get very hung up on the matchy-matchy and Decor with a capitol D. But it’s important that our spaces reflect who we are – not just what was on sale at Ikea. Let’s find a place for our high school dancing trophies and our pound puppies from third grade and that plaque in Swedish from our grandma.

8. Get a pet

Obbbbviously getting a pet is a huge responsibility. Of course you should give it a lot of thought and really, really consider if a pet would be a good fit for your lifestyle.

That being said, few things make you feel better faster than an animal friend. In fact, pet ownership has been shown to reduce stress and depression! If you want to dip your toe into pet ownership, consider fostering first.

9. Stock up on engaging, funny books and movies

If you’re trying to get over a break up/lay off/grad school rejection, put away the Dostoevsky and Dancer in the Dark. I can never get enough of Bill Bryson, David Sedaris or, as of late, anything by L.M. Montgomer. And few things can lift my spirits like Babe, Billy Elliot or American Teen.

10. Paint the inside of your closets or cupboards a crazy color

Such a lovely surprise when you open those doors every morning! How cute is this? I’m pretty sure even your sweaters will be happier, nestled in a place that colorful.

11. Incorporate the whimsical and ridiculous into your space

But I want to hear from you! What do you do to make your living space more happy?

P.S. Did you know I have a (free) private Facebook group dedicated solely to the topics of money and happiness? And the stuff we talk about has helped members change jobs, save thousands of dollars, and fight less with their partners? Join us!

photo by christopher harris // cc

How to Let it Go (yup, just about anything)

Are you trying to let it go? That grudge? That bad breakup? That co-worker who stole your idea? I've struggled with all those things, too. Here's how I got through 'em >> yesandyes.org

A story: When I first got out of college I somehow managed to get a rather impressive job as an event planner. And I was convinced this was my true calling – list and plans and parties, oh my!But there was a catch. Of course there was. My boss gave that Prada-wearing devil a run for her money. She once actually uttered the words “You’re not wearing that, are you?”

I was the personal errand runner, the entertainer of her children and person who removed the bun from her burger when she was on Atkins. All of this in addition to spending my evenings and weekends planning parties for the trophy wives of Minneapolis/St. Paul.And after a year of nigh-on emotional abuse, she laid me off the day after I closed the deal on a $250,000 event.

To say that I was livid would be something of an understatement. I carried a deep and abiding hatred for this woman for the entirety of the summer, nursing it like a hobby, allowing it to ripen and consume a bit more of me every day.

But one beautiful summer day while I sulked, unemployed, in my living room, rehashing all the snarky things my boss had ever said to me, it occurred to be how deeply silly this was. This woman had already tarnished a year of my life. Why was I allowing her to ruin my summer? I wasn’t even on her payroll anymore and she was still controlling me.

Ridiculous. So I started the long and slow process of letting it go.

How to let it go (yes, just about anything)

Do something so fabulous you lose track of the anger. Click To Tweet
* Write a letter. Stuff it in an unmarked envelope and drop into the big blue mailbox on the corner.
* Realize that, cliche as it is, that friend/lover/boss probably didn’t mean to hurt you. Few people act with malicious intent. Many people are selfish or emotionally immature, but very, very few are malicious.
* If someone really was, in fact, malicious towards you, realize that they are probably a rather unhappy person with little in their life that brings them happiness. Happy, healthy, fulfilled people rarely try to ruin others lives, right?
* Remember that you can’t control how other people act, only how you respond to them.
* Create your own voodoo ritual for getting past this. Fill a metal garbage can with your boss’s business cards, those awful emails she sent you and a copy of that book that she threw at your head. Set it all on fire to end this era of your life. Douse the fire with a cup of coffee, because you’ll never be picking up her Skinny Half-Decaf Latte again.
* Scream into your pillow.
* Imagine you are lying in a clear, cool mountain stream. Imagine the water flowing through you and washing away all the frustration and dark, twisted feelings and leaving only calm and clarity.
* Know that, possibly, it really isn’t you. It really is them.
* Write it on a postcard and send it to Post Secret.
* Behold the wisdom of your grandma’s cross stitch throw pillow: “This too shall pass.”
* Hug it out.
* Know that your mom wasn’t lying when she said “holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy dies.”
How do you let things go?
P.S. If you want customized, 1-on-1 help to let go of something that’s bugging you, I do that!
photo by: rosen harmens // cc