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monthly roundup no. 7: march 2018

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It’s the end of March which means spring is officially here. That means it will finally get warm… right? RIGHT?! This long-lasting chill is making me crazy. Going through my Pocket this month shows me that I’ve been really career-minded lately, and this link round-up post is pretty indicative of that. Read on for some great resources to check out to build your employability and get organized (and also get clean teeth with really cute toothbrushes)!

Signature is one of my new favorite blogs, and their Memoir Writing Guide is awesome. I don’t have any grand plans to publish my own memoir, but past therapists have given me exercises to write about traumas and tough memories – this guide helped give me some more prompts on how to get started on this, and I love writing exercises.

I’m not a hypochondriac (said every hypochondriac ever,) but my family history of cancer has given me some pretty severe anxiety. Any weird ache or pain or ailment or symptom and I’m convinced that I’m the next in line for chemo. This post from WBUR on onco-anxiety – this specific fear I have is actually so common that it has a name – helps me realize that it’s a pretty valid fear for many.

Marisa Mohi is a Twitter friend-of-a-friend with a fantastic blog and super cute Etsy shop. I’ve been gearing up to clean and reorganize my office for literal months – this post with ideas on desk organization for creatives is what has finally gotten me off my butt to get moving.

Marlow is a new business and employment blog, but they already have promise. This article on expanding your network was really helpful – I’m very guilty of being a bit narrow-sighted in thinking that since I’m so happy in my current job that I don’t need to put effort into my career or brand (not to mention I get pretty nervous and awkward at networking events.)

Google’s Digital Garage is a really great free educational resource to work on your employment skills. I’ve been doing some of the digital marketing activities here, and they’re super useful! If you’re looking to career shift or even just build on your current job skills, it’s a really nice resource.

I’ve been a very long-time fan and reader of The Billfold, and current editor Nicole Dieker launched a podcast last fall called Writing & Money. I’ve ramped up my freelance pitching game lately, and this podcast has really helped me feel confident in pitches and stories! < If you have a LinkedIn profile and use any kind of software in your job, you could earn Starbucks or Amazon gift cards for adding reviews to G2 Crowd. They do apparently have a limit so even if you use a seemingly endless amount of programs, they’ll eventually put a cap on your rewards, but I used my Amazon gift cards from them (in conjunction with the ones I’m still loading up on from Swagbucks) to score some sweet new workout wear and running shoes. 

The Student Loan Refinancing Blueprint: I’ve been thinking for awhile about refinancing my student loans. This post from Comet broke down a lot of the remaining questions I had and helped guide me through which of my loans (if any) would be good candidates for refinancing. I also found this student loan spreadsheet from Student Debt Warriors which made me confront all my outstanding debt and really break it all down – something I’ve pushed off and ignored for years.

And now for something completely different, BF subscribed us to Quip a few months ago. I’ve never had an electric toothbrush before, so it’s a whole new world for me, but I really love the toothbrush and the toothpaste is super good. The brush has a built-in timer with notifications every 30 seconds so you know when to switch sections of your mouth, and my teeth are the cleanest they’ve ever been.

Do you read a lot of business or employment articles? Share your faves with me – I love to read career-related posts!

March 30, 2018
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tidying tech: digital spring cleaning

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Spring is here, finally. In addition to cleaning the house, purging the closet, and other seasonal cleaning, it’s also a good time to do a cleanout of your digital life. It’s easy to let things pile up in your email, on your phone, or in your download folder, which slows down devices and can even affect things like data safety and security. This type of tidying is probably my least favorite thing because I’m notoriously awful at emptying my inbox. While taking breaks from the physical aspects of spring cleaning the apartment, here’s a list of spring cleaning tasks for your digital life as well!

  • Clear tabs in your browser: That’s a live look at what my browsers look like at any given moment, and to be honest, this is a look even after I’d closed out of many. If you’re a culprit of this too, take a second to close anything you opened to read later – I like to use Pocket to save those links – and close out anything past or completed. Take a minute to go through your browser extensions as well. If there are any you aren’t using actively, removing them can speed up your browser and even protect your data (unsupported extensions can be hacked. Keep your information safe by revoking access to unsecured apps.)
  • Clear your saved bookmarks: I can’t be the only person who has managed to import decades worth of bookmarks from computer to computer. Most of the things in my bookmark menu are not only not anything I need to use anymore, but they probably aren’t even live websites anymore. Time to clear it out and make things I actually use regularly more accessible.
  • Hit Inbox Zero: For years, inbox zero has been my white whale. I aspire to it, and I can never quite get there. I use Unroll.me, but even my daily Rollup is a mess (not to mention the thousand or so mailing lists I haven’t rolled up yet.) Merlin Mann first popularized the Inbox Zero practice, and his way of thinking about inbox and email is helping me archive and clear out the junk.

While you’re spring cleaning, think about doing a quarterly review as well!

  • Delete old files from the cloud: Google Drive, Dropbox, pCloud, and other cloud services are great for backing up files, but harder to keep organized. In looking for a copy of my resume to update the other day (holla promotion, not-so-holla hunting down a current resume) I was faced with some that are over ten years old. Time to clean out all the old versions, past cover letters, and archive the college assignments you don’t need anymore.
  • Update your resume and portfolio: After locating your most current resume, take a look at it to make sure your duties are accurate for your current job and make any changes to your portfolio. You never know when you’ll need to brush it off, and there’s nothing worse than needing a presentable resume and having to rush around to update it.
  • Empty your downloads folder and recycle bin: In my job, members often attach files that I have to download for review – and I never remember to clear the folder on my computer. Check through your downloads, properly save and archive those you want to keep, then recycle the rest. Like the recycling bin in your house, clear that out as well.

What steps do you take to clean your home or digital life? Is spring cleaning something you look forward to, or do you dread it every year?

March 21, 2018
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winter favorites 2018

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If you’re a regular reader here, you know that I’ve been reading a whole lot lately. The best book I’ve read so far is Julie Buntin’s Marlena, and it’s hard to imagine anything that will top it. Set in mid-90’s Michigan, it’s the story of a girl who tries to figure out what really happened to her friend. A bit of a trope lately, but the story really stuck with me, and Buntin’s writing is incredible.

Another book discovery, the Libby app is my new favorite thing. Similar to Scribd and Hoopla, Libby is affiliated with libraries, and I find it easier to navigate than Overdrive. You can check out audiobooks or eBooks, and send books to your Kindle or read them in the app (so even if you don’t own an eReader, you can still check out eBooks from the library.) Another way to save tons of money while shoveling through the never-ending TBR list!

This is definitely a different… subject than I typically share here, but I try to be pretty sex-positive, and over the holidays I discovered Unbound. They’re a sex toy eCommerce site that’s super tech- and femme-focused, and they have a quarterly box subscription. In addition to sexual health and wellness products and toys, they also have really fun feminist t-shirts, tote bags, and more.

DESSA’S NEW RECORD IS OUT!! Writer, rapper, and general badass, Chime is my album of the year and my favorite of hers to date. It explores feminism and gender, and even her experience in neuroscience experiments in trying to force herself out of love. (That part is worth exploring on its own.)

I’m a little bit late to podcasts, honestly. I liked My Favorite Murder for awhile, I like And That’s Why We Drink a lot, but I never got around to listening to My Brother, My Brother and Me until boyfriend showed me the TV show. The McElroy brothers are super funny, and two of them host my new favorite YouTube discovery, Monster Factory.

What are you into this chilly winter?

March 6, 2018
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monthly roundup no. 6: february 2018

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Here we are in February and what will hopefully be the last month of winter. I’m ready to sit outside, cooking in the 80 degree Chicago humidity next to Lake Michigan – I’m fully over these sub-zero temperatures and back-and-forth snow and ice. One good thing about the weather is that I’ve been cooped inside reading more than ever – as likely evidenced by the increased book club posts every month – but I’m still keeping up with some of the news on the world wide web. Here are some things that caught my eye in Feburary!

Here’s What It’s Like At The Headquarters Of The Teens Working To Stop Mass Shootings: These kids are absolutely incredible. No secret that I hate guns and am pretty passionate and loud about that fact, but these students are really creating change.

We need new ways of treating depression: I’m a person who will always be on an SSRI and have been in therapy off and on (therapy is cool and everyone should do it!!) But I’m also whiny about my meds and bad at remembering to take them. I often think about external causes of depression – this article explores the “grief exception” specifically. I’m an introvert at heart and wouldn’t really like being told that being more social would “fix” my depression, but it is interesting to think about.

Hunger Continues After the Fall: Danielle Lazarin’s short story collection came out in February and while I wait for it to come available in the library. Electric Literature featured Appetite, a selection from the book. My newest favorite author, Julie Buntin, recommends this story and writes an intro to set the scene.

Dessa’s Brain: My favorite rapper and author is back at it again with a new record this month. Her alma mater did this excellent in-depth piece on her which explores the contrast in her personality, how she went from being a philosophy major to a rapper, and her rallying call to other asthmatics in the audience. It also talks a bit about her experience with neurofeedback and how that impacted writing the new record.To celebrate the new record, she also did a livestream that I highly recommend if you’re at all interested in music production at Dessa: The Making of Chime.

ZBody Fitness: A co-worker friend introduced me to Zoe’s programs a year or so ago, and I’ve enjoyed watching her YouTube series. They’re great videos to pop on when you’re on the treadmill and the elliptical, and I recently got her Build a Better Booty at Home guide – this at-home workout is no joke!!

A Style Guide for Writing About the Rich: Satire, I suppose, but barely. This infuriated me on first read because it really made me wonder why things like what Elon Musk eats for breakfast becomes so much more newsworthy than a normal person.

Foolproof ways to stay calm while watching the Olympics: A little something to tuck away and review every two years. Like a normal person, I live for the Olympics… but more than once I’ve found myself jumping up and down on the couch shouting hockey advice, or swaying along with the curling stone.

February 23, 2018
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winter favorites 2017

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winter 2017 favorites

Winter is categorically the worst, but as always, there are some good things to find in it. Here are a few things I’ve been enjoying the last few weeks!

I’ve wanted to take a development class for awhile, so I recently signed up for Skillcrush’s Front End Dev blueprint. Class hasn’t started yet, but I’ve poked around a little bit to check out what the dashboard and interface are like, and I really like how it seems to be structured and laid out.

It’s no secret at all that I love The Hold Steady – if you don’t know that, you’re probably new here. Last month they put out their first new tracks since 2014, and I was so happy hearing them that I cried in my car so hard that my eyes were all puffy and ugly when I walked into my grandparent’s house. When my mom asked me what was wrong, all I said was “new Hold Steady,” and she understood. “Entitlement Crew” is particularly great, and the album artwork is really fun.

Last year I got very into spoken word poetry, particularly Button Poetry videos. During a binge, Olivia Gatwood’s “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” came on, and I fell so in love with it and her that I ordered her book New American Best Friend right away. It includes some poems you can find easily online, but some new ones as well, and they’re all gems.

happy endings

I missed out on Happy Endings in its first run, but The Mindy Project made me an Adam Pally stan, so boyfriend popped this show on one night. It’s hilarious, and it takes place in Chicago – another big bonus. If you need something to fill the Mindy Project or Parks and Rec-sized hole in your heart, give this a try. 

My now-boyfriend told me about Sleep With Me a little over a year ago, pre-dating status, and I’ve tried it off and on since then. If you ever struggle with falling asleep, or have racing thoughts before bed, pop on one of these episodes and let Scooter soothe you to sleep.

Amazon’s new Amazon Prime Samples program is super cool. For $2-$4, you can order smaller quantities of things you’ve wanted to try – mostly food and beauty products. Then that money is applied to a future purchase in the same category – it’s a little like a buy one get one free deal, and I’ve totally stocked my protein cabinet from them!

 

2048

Yes, I 100% took a screenshot for proof.

Another discovery that I’m late on: 2048. Have you guys played this?! I missed out on it when it was first super popular a few years ago, but now I’m super obsessed. I’ve beaten the classic game once, and on my iPhone, I constantly have a round of City 2048 going.

I’ll finish out with a blog. A friend of a Twitter friend, Tina, runs a book blog called TBR Etc. that I’ve been super into. I’ve picked up some great recommendations from her already, and I look forward to finding even more. If you’re a book nerd, check her out for some serious book goalspiration!

What are you loving this chilly winter?

December 14, 2017
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