Month: May 2014

Your TueDo List: Everybody’s Working For the Weekend

Working for the weekend — sometimes on the weekend — is reality for most of us. It seems like “working” takes up a whole heck of a lot of our time — whether it’s finishing that powerpoint, picking up a shift, or even crafting your next, better gig. The goal is to love what we do, and to love and cherish the time we have off. Let’s start with this weekend, shall we? Here are our picks: Roll   We’ve been singing “We’re gonna make it after all” nonstop around here this week, and no two working women lived for the weekend like Laverne and Shirley. Bowling was their thing, but I like to think they would be all over the 2014 Midwest Brewhaha Roller Derby Tournament, in their hometown of Milwaukee. (I can see the big L on Laverne’s jersey now.) Local rollergirls the Brewcity Bruisers will host 30 other leagues from around the country from Friday through Sunday at the U.S. Cellular Arena downtown. If you’ve never checked out a roller derby bout, it’s …

In the Army, Out with PTSD: One Vet’s Story of Survival

  Jennifer Crane’s resume should truly read, “been to hell and back.” Enlisting in the army at 17, Crane’s first day of basic training happened to be on September 11, 2001. After deployment to Afghanistan — and suffering through a severe period of depression and dehydration — Crane returned to her hometown of Downingtown, PA in 2003 to a life she didn’t recognize. She battled nightmares, confusion and PTSD. Ultimately drugs beckoned and she distanced herself from family, friends, and began living out of her car. Fast forward 11 years, and Jennifer’s life has drastically changed — for the better. She’s a mom to two kids, works as a nurse, spends much of her time helping other veterans, and even met the First Lady just last month. But her journey was a rough one … How did you spend Memorial Day? I spent it with my family at the park. We just enjoyed the sun and good company. I try not to focus too much on the sadness I feel, but instead honor my brothers …

How Working in Fast Food Prepared Me for Life on a Slippery Floor

I have worked as long as I can remember. As a young girl, I used to pull dandelions for my mom at a penny a piece (I only realized as an adult that my parents were paying us to stay out of the house), and I swept the floors and stamped coin envelopes at my family’s magnet factory. It was awesome growing up around all those magnets, but the highlight was the huge piles of flattened packing boxes my brother, sister and I used to climb onto and lounge on. So, maybe we played a little more than we worked. My first real job was in fast food. I worked at Gino’s and for those of you outside the mid-Atlantic region, Gino’s was a regional chain co-owned and named for Gino Marchetti of Baltimore Colts fame. They had the Kentucky Fried Chicken rights around here so (close your eyes and imagine this), KFC and burgers in one place.  I know. Dreamy. At 17 years old, when I retired from my Gino’s career, I had already …

Bored at Work? Adopt a Gig Mentality

Summer vacations were one of the best things about college. They provided me with a precious three-month opportunity to explore the working world without consequence – exactly when my appetite for adventure and real-world experience bumped up against the ugly reality of living wages and educational expenses. After my first year in school, I wangled a stipend to explore my passion for non-profits and the law. I volunteered at a major international non-profit sporting organization that planned, organized, marketed and led a weekend summer camp for the athletes. One day a week, I was a lackey at the county courthouse. In spite of organizational challenges, I was a veritable over-eager sponge. I had a burning desire to move faster, produce more and innovate around systemic efficiencies that were of little interest to my seasoned superiors. The whole time, my bright-eyed enthusiasm never waned. The reason? The start of the school year provided a clean break. These three months were a priceless, experience-building window that allowed me to bypass any regrets, resume concerns or awkward goodbyes. …

My Wide Open Mistakes as a Dude Ranch Cook

Ever heard the Dixie Chicks song “Wide Open Spaces“? It goes like this: “Many precede and many will follow A young girl’s dream no longer hollow It takes the shape of a place out west But what it holds for her, she hasn’t yet guessed” Sounds inspiring, right? I blame that song for one of the bigger flubs in my life. But, hey, at least it’s a good story now. I was 28 and working as the features editor for a small-town, twice-a-week newspaper in Florida. It was a job I truly loved, but I was living below the poverty level. I supplemented my income by working both retail at Casual Corner and as a cocktail waitress for a cheesy, late-night club called Thunderbirds (seriously). Exhausted working from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., I felt stagnant and thought some fresh, mountain air might do me good. In my younger days I did a good deal of horseback riding — and was a budding chef — so when I found a job as a cook on …

Margit’s Note: It’s Just a Job I Do…

We’ve all had weird gigs. Just after college I worked part time at a 19th century natural history museum, preserved as such — the Wagner Free Institute of Science in North Philly — where I did everything from dust off a cabinet filled with arrowheads and tomahawks, to filing William Wagner’s old letters in acid free paper, to drawing butterflies with neighborhood kids who came in after school. Huh. In hindsight, that was actually a pretty awesome job. Sometimes it’s those gigs that have nothing to do with your intended career that were the most fun — or taught you life lessons you’ve carried for decades. Like, to save everything (sorry, hoarders) and that prehistoric bones are very, very fragile. Oops. This week, we’re remembering what made some of the jobs we’ve had curious, fun or just plain bad. We’ve got some pretty intense pieces, some sound job advice, and a few downright hilarious situations, so there’s something here for all types of odd jobs and career paths: Day Job: I Was a Heroin Ethnographer by Judy McGuire …

Why No One Wants to Go to Your Meeting — And How to Make it Better

It’s not uncommon to hear a collective groan from your employees when another meeting alert pops up on their calendars. After 10 years in the professional world at every level from assistant to Vice President, I’ve learned firsthand just how much impact a meeting can make. We hope our team leaves a meeting excited, inspired and ready to work, but I’ve also sat through meetings where an associate actually fell asleep on their laptop. Not good. It can be taxing having to step away from daily tasks, but more importantly, badly run meetings can severely hamper productivity. After years of being over scheduled myself, I’ve learned a few tips to help make meetings and check-ins smarter and productive — not just an hour wasted during the work day. Be Selective One of the biggest pain points of meetings is that there’s simply too many people in them. Invite only the crucial members of each team, the ones who truly need to be there. If a key team member is unable to make the meeting, let …

Your Weekend TueDo List: Global Selfies, Outdoor Flicks, Honor Our Vets

  It’s Memorial Day weekend, so what better place to go than outside? We’ll help you figure out what to do when you get there. Watch Go to an outdoor/rooftop movie: Summer means huge movie releases, but let’s face it: a first run in the theater — plus snacks — can be a costly proposition. Checking out a new or classic film screened on a lawn or rooftop near you is a much more reasonably priced alternative, plus makes a fun community event. Check out outdoor films city-wide in cities like Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles (where I’d totally be going for the 25th anniversary screening of Say Anything this Saturday night downtown), Chicago, Philadelphia, or wherever you happen to be. They’re popping up all over the place. Recognize Rolling Thunder, the 27th run of motorcycles from all over the country to the nation’s capital in recognition of the hopeful return of POWs/MIAs after the Vietnam War is a sight to see — and a lot of sounds to hear, too. The weekend is full …

Announcing a Partnership with GREAT.LY — And Some Pretty Great Stuff

Here at TueNight, in addition to sharing great stories, we also love beautiful STUFF. It must be said. Pocketbooks, posters, bangles, baubles, hey, even a Brontosaurus. With that said, we are thrilled to be a part of a fabulous new online marketplace called GREAT.LY, which brings together makers of unique, handmade stuff and tastemakers who like their stuff. On GREAT.LY, we have our own special online boutique called “We Dig” — which is filled with our hand-picked, favorite Great.ly goods. Other tastemakers include Heather Armstrong of Dooce, Kelly Beall of Design Crush, Holly Becker of Decor8, Cool Mom Picks, Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte and many more. The makers and products are high-quality and affordable — we’ve stocked our boutique with stuff for kids, stuff we want to wear and stuff that’s plain quirky. Like we said, STUFF! And yes, if you buy something that we’ve recommended, we make a little money. Hooray! Capitalism! And, in a way, you’re helping to fund this site by buying something we recommend. So, good on ya. We’ll be looking for …

How a Backyard Obsession Turned Into a Supper Club

Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, I spent most of my time outside: swimming in the pool, eating charred hot dogs and fudgsicles in the grass, swinging from the diseased sycamore tree. It was my (hated) job to mow the lawn, year round. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve cut the grass in 114 degree heat. You will see God in a sweat-and-dehydration-fueled hallucination. You will also smell God in the scent of the freshly cut grass clippings — earthy, vegetal, sweet and lemony. I spent a lot of time twirling around in circles and then falling to the grass to watch the sky spin, and playing dodge ball with the kids down the street. It wasn’t until I moved to New York City that I realized how much life outside mattered to me, and would shape not just my neighborhood and apartment choice, but my entire life and career. It was a bumpy entry into NYC 17 years ago, starting with sublets and ending in a 6th floor walk-up with a talented, though narcissistic, artist …

Second-Time Travel: Al Fresco in Miami

Every year, at the peak of winter, I leave New York to spend a week in Miami. It’s not a vacation; I work virtually, continuing my daily routine as if I was in the office. I just move my office south. It’s one of those few benefits I gained from going to the University of Miami: I can discuss football at great length, I’ve mastered (and since given up) the fine art of tanning, and I have a number of friends who remained in Miami — with guest rooms. I can tell by the way my colleagues air-quote “working” that they assume I’m on South Beach, taking conference calls from the chaise while sipping a mojito. But I’m nowhere near the beach. For me, being in Miami is simply about being outside, where the only layers I need are SPF. And then, I rarely go out during the day. I look forward to the evenings, dining al fresco and enjoying the fact that I’m not trudging through snow. And I have that mojito. Even then, …

Rolling on the (Delaware) River: The Church of Tubing

I’ve spent most of my life along the bank of one river or another, including the San Lorenzo in Santa Cruz and the Tiber in Rome, but the river in which I’ve washed away my most of my sins is the Delaware. I’ve lived in tiny towns on Delaware’s eastern banks and the largest city on its western shore. I’ve seen it from its most picturesque to its filthiest, and have certainly smelled its remarkable spectrum of aromas. From ages 10 through 17, I lived directly on its banks. When my family arrived in the ‘70s, we landed in the village of Titusville — the site of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. Over the centuries, it’s been a town of lumber mills, mule barges and summer homes for the wealthy. At the time we moved, it had evolved into a sleepy working-class hamlet. The main road was paved with gravel and lined with three churches, two bars and a soft-serve ice cream joint. Not much has changed since then except for the gravel — it’s …

Building the Perfect Picnic

Who doesn’t love a picnic? When the weather gets warm and the grass gets green, there’s nothing better than filling a cooler full of food and drink and heading out for an afternoon at the park or the beach. But in order to make it a truly fabulous picnic, you’ll want to make sure you have the following five essentials. 1. The Basket Buccaneer’s Grill and BBQ Set, $160, is the mother of all picnic baskets. It not only chills your sodas and holds your food and supplies — it also turns into a grill! Now that’s hot. If you’re more of “a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou” type, then you’ll love Picnic at Ascot’s Wine Carrier and Purse, $44. Pick a favorite bottle of spirits, tuck a baguette under your arm and let the party begin. The creators claim that this cute tote can also be used as an evening bag, which will come particularly in handy at those pricey bottle service establishments. Cheers. 2. The Blanket This is the …

Walk On By: How I Spend My Summers Sober

Spring and early summer in New York City is one of my favorite times of the year. The sun is shining, it’s warm but not sweltering hot, you can just throw on flip flops and be on your way, and the streets are swarming with (mostly) happy, sunshine worshipers, walking their dogs, laying out in the park and filling outdoor cafes. But this outdoor magic can quickly become a danger for a recovering alcoholic. The people sitting at outdoor cafes, enjoying cool glasses of white wine or early evening martinis — take on a romantic, almost otherworldly glow if I choose to lay my eyes on them for too long. Suddenly what I see is much more than what is really there. I see solace. I see a refuge where all my problems will disappear. I see a place that will be a steadfast and unquestioning companion. Like that woman at that table with her Macbook and a beer. Surely I could do that? Work on my column (let’s pretend it’s not about alcoholism) and enjoy a …

The Wild Outdoors: Two Books Peer Into Nature’s Dark Side

You probably don’t live in a cave, which means you’re aware of the runaway success of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. At age 26, Strayed (a surname she chose to indicate her status) illogically, and with little preparation, chose to hike the 1,100-mile Pacific Coast Trail solo. I say “illogically” because of the dangers and pitfalls inherent in such an undertaking, not that Strayed had no good reason for her quest. She did: She was mourning the loss of her mother, grieving the end of her marriage and psychologically at the end of her tether. All of which is big fodder for big adventure. But what sets Wild apart from other memoirs of self-seeking treks is Strayed’s assured, calm voice — perhaps a clue as to why it took her so long (17 years) to write about the experience. The author knows she survived and also knows she learned a great deal, and she is able to prop up the reader through otherwise terrifying events involving bears, hanging …

Back in The Woods: Finding Magic and Memories

I’ve been a city girl for nearly 30 years. But I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, where the little bit of leafy woods that remained after our homes were built was a source of both solace and mystery. As a child, I sought out the quiet calm of the scrubby forest behind Thomas Jefferson Junior High School. But at the same time, I found the solitariness a bit frightening. Who might I encounter there? Older kids smoked cigarettes and drank warm beer in those woods, and there were ridiculous kid-fueled rumors of deranged child-killers and bobcats. Taking a shortcut through that place to the pizza parlor on Saddle River Road was a brave undertaking for ten-year-old me. Still, nothing could keep me out of the woods for long. That’s still true today. I’m fortunate enough to spend my weekends and summers at an old farmhouse in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. Formed about a half a billion years ago, the Berkshires sit mostly in Massachusetts but also border Vermont, New York and …

Margit’s Note: Good Day Sunshine

We’ve been holed up… It has been a long, hard winter here on this coast of the country, and now we squint into the sunlight, bare our legs and arms, sport shorty shorts before they’re deemed appropriate because we CAN’T WAIT for a life outside. Al fricking fresco. Hand me some mint iced tea or a crisp Vermentino, a good book (thank you Bethanne), and I’ll just prop my bare feet up on this lounge chair here. Ahhh. This all means making yourself more presentable, of course. Manicuring one’s bits a bit more. Socks, I already miss you. Toes, I’m happy to see you. Oh the conundrum. It’s time to face the world, your neighbors, the trees, with that precious mug you’ve been hiding. So this week, we’re coming out… Jody Jones builds up the perfect picnic. Courtney Colwell tells us where to go for our 2nd Time Travel to Miami (hint: not South Beach). Bethanne Patrick gives us two books that head into the wild. Tamara Reynolds extols the values of a great backyard. Susan Linney …

An Insomniac Gets Serious About Her Snooze

A couple of years ago during a routine checkup, I told my internist I’d been having trouble sleeping for quite some time — at least a year. He nodded with a sympathetic smile and said, “Get used to it.” He explained that for many women, the combination of aging and the hormonal shifts that come with menopause is a killer cocktail for getting proper rest. Some women have a hard time falling asleep, others struggle with staying asleep and some lucky ducks, like me, wrestle with both. My doctor prescribed sleep meds and suggested supplements, all of which I’ve dutifully tried. Ambien worked fairly well but made me feel sad the next day. Lunesta made my mouth taste like nickels. Trazodone made my heart race and my head spin. For me, Duane Reade over-the-counter sleep tabs work just as well as the prescription meds, but they result in a pretty dense fog the morning after. And even as the shelf in my medicine cabinet gets more and more crowded with drugs, still I never get …

10 Songs That Will (Happily) Put You to Sleep

I definitely don’t need any help falling asleep these days. Maybe it’s maternal multitasking, maybe it’s the depleting store of hormones, maybe I have adult onset narcolepsy — I never thought to seek a diagnosis. You know who does? My reticent 16-year-old daughter, who comes alive, animated and desirous of conversation just as I am blacking out between my bed sheets. So I’ve put together a 10-song go-to-sleep playlist so potent that even she might nod off at a reasonable hour. I’m hoping it will reset her body clock so she’ll wake up at dawn like I do, ready for that chat (once I’ve had a cup of coffee). 1. Tonight Will Be Fine (Leonard Cohen cover) by Teddy Thompson The title encapsulates the hope we all harbor as we climb into bed: a good night’s sleep uninterrupted by the need to pee, spousal snoring, or sudden leg cramps. Cohen’s unmatched lyrical prowess paired with Thompson’s earnest, pure voice and strumming guitar put you in the right frame of mind for slumber. And if you’re …

The Number One Thing That’s Keeping You Up at Night

Does it surprise you that 64% of people complain of not getting enough sleep? What if we told you that using backlit electronic devices (like your phone or TV) dramatically reduces the quality of sleep you do get, and that 95% of people still use electronics the hour before they go to bed? When long-term sleep deprivation is linked to increases in obesity, diabetes, and a host of other health problems, breaking away from your devices to get more zzzz’s is more important than ever. Read the infographic below to find out why our constant use of electronics is preventing us from getting the high-quality sleep we need, and a few things you can do today to break the habit. This post originally appeared on TheMuse.com.  Infographic courtesy of Big Brand Beds. Photo of girl with phone courtesy of Shutterstock. Check out these other articles from TheMuse.com: Sweeter Dreams: 7 Surprising Tips for Better Sleep The 30-Second Stretch That Resets Your Desk Hunch Where Should You Live for Your Best Life Possible?

Do Sleep Habits Change With Age?

Welcome to of our advice column where we try to answer all of your confounding “What The…?” questions. We’ll be getting advice from experts, but we may not always have the best answer. Feel free to share your own advice in the comments below. [dropcap]Q: [/dropcap] As a 40-something woman, I know I’m turning in earlier and earlier and rising at the crack of dawn more than ever. I’m not necessarily turning into a “morning person,” but I’d definitely say that my sleep has shifted. Is that nature or nurture? Does it matter if you’re a mom or not? And what tips do you have for a more restful sleep? — Person Formerly Known as a Morning Person in Seattle [dropcap]A:[/dropcap] For this one we asked Natalie Dautovich, PhD, a National Sleep Foundation Environmental Scholar : “Some people do experience a ‘phase advance’ with age,” says Dautovich. “Meaning, that they get sleepier earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning. This contrasts with late adolescence when many people show a “phase delay,” not …

Margit’s Note: Hey, You Awake?

I am generally a good sleeper. Meaning, when the conditions are right: bed, sheets, pillow, prone position — I can fall asleep tout de suite. However. Not on a plane. Not on a train. Not with the TV on. Not with an occasionally snoring spouse. Not with people blasting Pitbull outside my window at 3 a.m. (yes, why in fact would you stop the party?). And not when I’m stressed out. But — I have a trick for that last one. I imagine all the worries of the day, those actual events keeping me up, shifting to my left foot (with all apologies to Daniel Day-Lewis). I imagine physically transferring all the little angsty details to my hoof where they will be stored for tomorrow’s dissection and rumination. For some reason, it feels more practical and comforting to not let go of them, but to tuck them away in a place furthest away from my mind. Various shrinks have told me this is a classic relaxation technique and have praised me for my virtual, au …

You Loved Me Even When I Didn’t Love Myself: A Thank You Note to My Mom

Although I’m not a mother myself (however I am a proud new aunt!), I imagine that most moms welcome it when their kids cry on their shoulders, or come to them for some TLC when feeling flu-y, or call them when worried about a new job, or have been beaten by a broken heart. And of course there are the happy occasions, as well — the birthday parties, graduation parties, celebrations of first jobs, and a feeling (I imagine) of absolute pride when watching the now-adult child she raised to be polite, poised, successful and fun. But what I suspect a great many moms may not know about are the moments that seem similar to the ones above, but are a bit….off. A sob-filled phone call that doesn’t make very much sense, and comes from a voice that doesn’t 100% sound like that of your child’s. A plea for a visit to your daughter’s apartment to help her get over a sudden bought of the flu, which seems completely legit at first, but then doesn’t …

It Took Me 49 Years to Truly Understand My Mom

Not so long ago, I passed the age my mother was when she died. This was unsettling on several fronts, the most obvious of which was staring my own mortality more squarely in the face. She was just 49, which, from where I sit on the north side of 50, feels pretty damn young to die. I’ve got decades to keep figuring out life, don’t I? Don’t I? So, thoughts of my impending doom are one effect of reaching my mother’s final age but that’s a big duh. The more interesting facet is the insight I now have into who my mother was at 49 and what she cared about. I was 18 when she died and we were very close, but what did I know then about the ups and downs of a long marriage, or the fortitude it takes to run a happy household and have a job? Or what it’s like to watch your children grow into really interesting people? On any given day, she was probably thinking about what to serve …

Good Mother Going Blind: Author Nicole Kear on Her New Book Now I See You

Nicole Kear was 19 years old when she learned she was slowly going blind. Sitting in a doctor’s office in her native Manhattan, on break after her sophomore year at Yale, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that would wipe out her vision over time. Given just a decade or so of sight left, she decided to carpe diem, while keeping her disease a secret. She tore through boyfriends, traveled the world, signed up for circus school, played bartender, and moved to Los Angeles to become an actress. Meanwhile, the disease quietly took its course, first attacking her night vision, then her peripheral vision, and finally her central vision — clouding it over with cataracts, erasing depth perception and bringing on color blindness. Eventually, she married the love of her life, returned to New York and her close Italian family, settled down in Brooklyn, and started having children. And in her new role as mom she decided  to surrender her secret, ‘fess up to her kids and to herself, and start preparing for …

7 Essential Beauty Tips I Learned From My Mother

My mom is a common-sense kind of woman, someone who doesn’t delight in ceremony and abhors anything fussy. Which is why having a teenaged daughter who was obsessed with makeup and fashion was a bit of a quandary for her. I wanted to look magazine-cover ready at all times. But over the years, I’ve fallen into a a much more mellow beauty routine that’s quite similar to the one my mother has practiced for years. Want to love the skin you’re in and look like you sleep in an oxygen chamber? Heed the following seven simple tips from my beloved mother. 1. “The less you do to your face, the less you’ll have to do to your face.” This is her number one rule; simple, plain and effective. The more you scrub and paint and spackle and pull, the more scrubbing, painting, spackling and pulling you’ll have to do. Less is more, which means the easier you are on your skin, the less irritated it will become. It’s never too late to adopt this concept. …

“You’re Turning Into Your Mother”

We’ve all had those moments — the ones we’d swear we’d never have — where we utter some phrase or make some gesture that we realize is exactly like something our mom would do. Most likely, our first instinct is to freeze in horror. But we are our mothers’ daughters, after all, and as we get older, their affectations usually start to seep into our own personalities, whether consciously or not. And really, is this such a bad thing? We asked our contributors to share their own “Am I Turning Into My Mother?” moments. Feel free to share yours in the comments or on our Facebook page. (Because you know you have one.) Lipcolor Copy “The moment when I picked out the same shade of lipstick that my mother’s been wearing for 30 years.” —Jennifer Ha Clean Genes “The other day, I flew into an organizational frenzy, spring cleaning on a level that most would consider manic. I caught myself saying things like, ‘A place for everything and everything in its place,’ and I realized …

The “Golden Ninja”: My Best Mom Hack Ever

Mom Hacking is a part of everyday life for a parent. Kids expect us to know how to do everything, period. And when we don’t, it can be painfully confusing to them. There was a point after I had my first child when I realized two things:  What I thought I knew about parenting was mostly going to be based on instinct, and through observing other parents. Then I learned the most important lesson of all: kids are the worthiest of adversaries. They’re smart, wily and born with the innate knowledge to outwit, exasperate and frustrate you. Something I didn’t know until I had crafty kids of my own. Babies and toddlers are more of a physical challenge. They seem difficult at first, but in hindsight, are relatively easy to please. You feed them, burp them, bathe them, let them sleep, then repeat all over again. Sleep deprivation is largely conceptual until Baby No. 1 comes along. It’s almost as if nature is toughening you up for what’s to come. The transition to toddlerhood naturally …