A thing I read

what great inconvenience

Are you willing to embrace that truly slight inconvenience — and maybe pay a few dollars more — so that a person’s job is significantly less shitty? Think about in practice: are you willing to wait five more minutes for an Uber so that, when you get in, you know that your drive has health insurance and is making a living wage? Are you willing to pay $4 more for your yoga class (YOUR YOGA CLASS!) so that your teacher, who you likely venerate, can have some semblance of the stability/peace you yourself are attempting to find BY GOING TO YOGA??? Are you willing to have slightly less so that others can have significantly more? Or, as I like to think about it, do you actually care about other people?

Lately, lots of us are thinking and talking about burnout. How our work and daily routines are making us tired and sucking the joy out of our lives. We’re starting to think about what actions we can take to alleviate the feeling of burnout in our own lives. But this article asks us to think about how our actions can create burnout in other people

In a small sense, that means respecting the boundaries of our colleagues, friends and family in a golden rule type fashion (do unto others…etc). But in a larger sense, that means buying into systems that respect those boundaries and allow us feel like real humans instead of meaningless cogs in the capitalist machine. And maybe MAYBE making a small, slightly uncomfortable impact on our own lives in an effort to make a much larger, game-changing impact on someone else’s life.

I think this idea is so important and one we don’t often think about. Don’t we all just want everything cheaper, faster, bigger? If it comes at the expense of another person’s wellbeing and financial stability, personally I’d rather have it a little more expensive, slower and smaller.

I found this article courtesy of Jocelyn K. Glei‘s newsletter which always has really great links about work, creativity, and making your life more enjoyable.

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This fall

I intend to be the kind of person who does what she says she’ll do. It mostly doesn’t work out that way, but the intention is there. I make to-do lists so at the very least there’s evidence that I’m alive and trying. Here’s what I’m trying at this fall:

  • Obligatory: go apple & pumpkin picking / carve said pumpkins / visit the cider mill
  • Continue spending time outside as much as possible before it gets frigid
  • Take a trip up north to see the trees change colors and get some quiet time away from home
  • Bake a pie
  • Host a spooky movie night
  • Purge the house of unwanted things so I’m not surrounded by ugly junk while I’m stuck inside all winter
  • Cook a big ass meal for my friends

What are you trying at this season?

September things

Hey, here’s what I got up to in September:

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I attended DIY Fair and bought some killer candles. Every year my neighborhood hosts a weekend-long event where local artists and crafters set up shop under big white tents that take over two entire parking lots plus main street. I go just about every year and struggle not to spend an entire month’s income on art, candles, jewelry, and food. This year, I maintained my self control and only purchased a giant roasted veggie sandwich covered in hash browns and three candles from this shop I love called Pagan Potions. I bought the Unfuck Yourself candle from them last year and loved it, so I got another one this year plus Money Money Money and Manifestation Muthafucka. They’re all so beautiful and smell amazing. I’ve been burning the Unfuck Yourself one every day the past couple weeks, and I’ve felt so much more motivated and at peace than usual.

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I cozied up at home and watched a whole bunch of tv. I started and finished the last season of Jessica Jones which I loved. I’m really bummed the series is over. I’m not generally that into super hero stuff, but the characters and story lines in Jessica Jones made it a great show that would’ve held up without any of the super stuff. My boyfriend and I started and finished the first season of Altered Carbon which was decent. The story was interesting, but it was a little hard to follow at some points. I wasn’t super invested in any of the characters, but the world building was pretty cool. My favorite thing I watched was definitely The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance. I started off by re-watching the original Dark Crystal movie, which was a huge staple in my childhood, before racing through the new show in the course of one weekend. I was a little nervous about how it would maintain continuity with the original movie, but I was pleasantly surprised that they treated the original with respect and brought in some interesting new pieces that actually fit well with the existing narrative.

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I cooked so many stir fries with the spicy sriracha peanut sauce from this list. I’m obsessed with this sauce—it’s mega easy to make, I always keep the ingredients stocked in my pantry, and it’s so good I honestly lick the spoon to get every last drop. I like to pair this sauce with brown rice or buckwheat noodles (these are my go-to) + whatever veggies I have on hand + tempeh or whatever Quorn fake meat product I currently have in my freezer. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, this would be it.

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I had my regularly scheduled cleaning at the dentist. Keeping up with doctor appointments is a super important part of self care! I don’t particularly like the dentist, but it does feel really good to check it off my list and come home knowing that my mouth is healthy. It keeps those anxious what-if-I-have-a-million-cavities-and-need-ten-root-canals thoughts at bay. At every visit I schedule my next one for six months out since that makes it a WHOLE lot more likely that I’ll remember to go. My dentist even sends me text reminders a few days before my appointment which is super helpful. Consider this your call to GET YOU A DENTIST YOU ACTUALLY LIKE and MAKE THAT APPOINTMENT today.

What did you get up to in September? 

Summer>fall mental health check in

I don’t know about you, but when the seasons change, my anxiety always goes into overdrive. I live in Michigan, where the weather fluctuates like crazy on a good day, so the season changes can be a real (not fun) roller coaster.

I really started getting in tune with how much the weather affects my mental health when I started using a mood tracking app called Daylio. Every day I track how my mood was on a scale from awful to rad, along with activities I did that day and other emotions I felt: relaxed, motivated, weird, etc.

It’s been really informative to see the patterns that show up in my weekly / monthly / yearly mood cycles. I’ve been using it since early 2017, so I have some pretty solid data to work with now, and the app organizes my stats into handy little charts, making it easy to see that my mood takes a clear dip around April and then again in September/October.

This year, my mood has been a little more even each month, without really severe highs and lows, which is great progress! I still feel that extra prickle anxiety this time of year, but I’ve been able to bounce back a little quicker since I’ve learned to prepare for it.

Here’s what I’m doing to keep from getting knocked down by my mood during this season change:

  • Keep spending time outside and soaking up all the sun I can, even though the weather is getting colder
  • Make plans with friends to do fun things and get out of the house so I don’t get stuck in a couch vortex of sadness
  • Maintain my exercise and healthy eating routine because endorphins are magic!
  • Lean into the season change and stop expecting the weather to behave. Surprise 90 degree day in the middle of a chilly week? Put those shorts back on and lay out in the sun while you still can! A sudden cold and rainy day after a week of sunshine? Light those pumpkin spice candles and get cozy with a book inside!

Any one else struggle with season changes? I’d love to hear what you’re doing to cope/thrive in these challenging times.

How to get things done

I did a lot yesterday to prepare myself for today. I kept the house clean and made lists. I did laundry and gave my skin a face mask. I went to bed at a reasonable time and set an alarm to wake up similarly.

The lists are the most important and enjoyable preparation I do. In a yellow, college ruled spiral notebook, something leftover from when I had classes to take notes in, I wrote down every goal or to-do thing that has been living in my mental space. Everything that snagged at my anxiety as I looked around my house and my mental landscape.

I came up with 32 things. And then I organized them by category—life, work, health, learning. And then I organized them by time and energy they’d take. And then I organized them by deadline. I picked a chunk of 12 of those things that felt important and realistic to do this month, with a mixture from each category and level of time commitment, and I split them evenly and organized them neatly into three boxes—one for each week left this month. I took the tasks from the first box and split those tasks evenly across each day this week, placing them carefully on days when I could foresee my future self actually, probably, hopefully wanting to do them.

Now is the hard part. I need to follow those instructions. This is where I always fail. I think of other ways to spend my time, things that don’t check any boxes or move me forward or bring me any actual joy. I need to be more robotic and go through the list step by step. I don’t need to get distracted by the weather or my feelings or a miscellaneous thought.

It’s too early to claim any real victories, but I’ve already checked two things—the easy morning time things that I can do before I’ve brushed my teeth and had my second cup of coffee—off my first list: 1) worked on knitting a scarf that has been sitting incomplete around my house for the past three years and 2) wrote something (this).

A thing I read

Here’s a thing I read recently that I think is true:

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable

“We’ve created this idea that the meaning of life should be found in work,” says Oren Cass, the author of the book The Once and Future Worker. “We tell young people that their work should be their passion. ‘Don’t give up until you find a job that you love!’ we say. ‘You should be changing the world!’ we tell them. That is the message in commencement addresses, in pop culture, and frankly, in media, including The Atlantic.”

But our desks were never meant to be our altars. The modern labor force evolved to serve the needs of consumers and capitalists, not to satisfy tens of millions of people seeking transcendence at the office. It’s hard to self-actualize on the job if you’re a cashier—one of the most common occupations in the U.S.—and even the best white-collar roles have long periods of stasis, boredom, or busywork. This mismatch between expectations and reality is a recipe for severe disappointment, if not outright misery, and it might explain why rates of depression and anxiety in the U.S. are “substantially higher” than they were in the 1980s, according to a 2014 study.

I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately. It seems right to want to love your work and find intense meaning in it. Most of us spend the majority of our waking life at work. To do something you don’t care about for 40 hours a week seems crazy and self-defeating.

But for most of us, work isn’t fun. We might enjoy it sometimes, but even us freelancers have to go through the daily slog of email and invoicing and often mundane projects that don’t even attempt to light up our creative brains but do pay the bills.

The article sees the solution to our happiness as working less. Once our culture shifts enough to allows for fewer work hours, we’ll be able to spend more time on our friends, family, and hobbies. That seems a pretty long way off for many of us who have piles of debt and insane rent prices to contend with and a government run by conservatives who are the worst at worshiping Work. Are we doomed to be unhappy until the economy catches up with our humanity?

That’s bleak. I’m still going to try and love my work in the meantime, because even if I’m only doing my job 15 hours a week, that’s still a pretty hefty chunk of my life. I’d like to enjoy that time if I can.

Hi Hello

Here are a few things you might want to know about me:

  1. I live in Michigan and have all 31 years of my life, but I’m planning a move to California this year.
  2. Related: I like to spend a lot of time doing outside things but I hate the winter.
  3. I have anxiety and depression and am constantly trying to figure out a better way to function.
  4. The last band I saw live was Cherry Glazerr and they were great. The next band I’ll probably see is Delicate Steve. I’ve seen him before and he is also great.
  5. I have a lot of opinions which is probably why I’m here writing a blog about things.
  6. Related: I think capitalism is a waste of everyone’s time. Ditto the current president of the USA.
  7. I’m currently reading Swamplandia! by Karen Russell and it’s making me pretty uncomfortable.
  8. In my day job I do freelance graphic design for social justice focused nonprofits, but I’m getting a little itchy to try something else.
  9. I think Adventure Time is the best show to ever grace television.
  10. Here’s what I’m listening to right now: