Do Something

Unable to protest and want to know how you can help Black Lives Matter make a difference this time? Check their website first. Right now they’d like you to sign their Defund the Police petition.

Then write to or call your local officials and ask them whether they support these steps toward reducing police violence:

If they don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s a good time to educate. If they tell you they don’t support these commonsense measures, tell them you’ll find a candidate who does come voting day.

And speaking of voting day. When the protests end, it’s important to keep the momentum going. It’s an election year and the GOP has been systematically disenfranchising black voters for years. Learn how you can help make sure every black vote is counted.

Silence is violence, they say, and they’re right. And no matter your particular limitations, there’s always something you can do. What matters most is that you do something. (Learn more about allyship here.)

Coronavirus in the Woods

Pandemics are scary for everyone. The idea that just conversing with someone over the avocados in the grocery store could lead to your death is a literal nightmare. It’s like M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening,” but with less Mark Wahlberg. 

But the truth is, I’m having an easier time coping with the stress of self-isolation than most—with the exception of a few actual shut-ins and hermits, I was better prepared than most. I’m not talking about being “prepared” in the “Doomsday Prepper” sense of the word. I didn’t have a bunker filled with beans and rice—though since I live with a vegetarian we do have our own little stockpile of those goods at all times—or an elaborate bug-out plan. In fact, my preparedness was more of an accident. 

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Is Self-Employment the Key to Worklife Balance?

I’ve been working on a book–and blog–that explores work-life balance, and how we can all build happier and healthier lives. This post seemed relevant to all you writers out there!

Lean Back

The other day I received a press release from Elaine Biech, the author of The New Business of Consulting: The Basics and Beyond, about worklife balance for consultants. “On one hand, you get to do the work you love while enjoying perks like setting your own schedule and traveling to exciting cities. But on the other hand, you must endure the punishing realities of your job: 4:00 a.m. flights, hours upon hours of work, poorly prepared restaurant food, and getting home at midnight after a long week.”

It got me thinking! So often we associate overwork culture with companies that demand we work longer hours and answer emails in the middle of the night. But that’s not always the case. Being self-employed brings a whole new level of stress to the table.

It’s not just consultants that run themselves ragged despite having more control over their schedules than most…

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Career vs. Lifestyle

I started a new site to collect my thoughts about work-life balance and changing the way we think about success. Here is one of the first posts from “Lean Back.” If you like it, please visit and subscribe!

Lean Back

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” We ask kids that all the time. When they get older and start thinking about college, we tweak the question a little, but we keep asking it. We rarely ever ask anyone, “What kind of life do you want when you grow up?”

Frankly, it’s a better question.

When I was in elementary school, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d tell you I wanted to be a veterinarian/gymnast. (Who would take care of my patients while I was competing at the Olympics?) But then I quit gymnastics when I was in the fourth grade, and I realized I’d spend a good portion of my life sobbing if I was a vet. (Seriously, veterinarians have a hard job and it shows in their mental health.)

I wish someone had asked me…

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May’s Heavenly Day

Only a very good doggo could inspire such a beautiful song.

The first time I laid eyes on Maybelle she was behind bars, in a kennel between the two dogs I’d come to see at the Humane Society. They were big German Shepherd-mixes. One was mostly black and impressive, and the other was about as striking a dog as I’ve ever seen — yellow like a lab, but with the profile of a Shepherd. And between them was a little 45-pound cattle dog mix with oversized ears that stuck out at a strange angle from her head. While the other dogs jumped and barked, she leaned up against the bars of her kennel and waited for someone to give her a scratch.

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Big Little Podcast

Anyone who knows me, knows that my most frequently uttered phrase is, “There’s this podcast…” Well, now I’m officially part of the podcast revolution. I’m so happy to introduce a fun big, little project I worked on with a couple of friends.

Take a stroll down Monterey’s Memory Lane. Relive Season 1 of Big Little Lies with us.

In one 7 hour long marathon recording session, we drank some boxed wine and dished about Monterey’s favorite murderers. (Bonus points if you can pinpoint the episode where we actually start to get drunk.) If you loved Big Little Lies and wished you had someone to talk to about it, this is the podcast for you!

We explore all the important questions.

Is Madelyn a nightmare? Is Ed a creep? Are all the men creeps? Which of the husbands would you marry/f*ck/kill? Is Otter Bay’s first grade taeacher the worst teacher alive? Which kid is the creepiest? (It’s always Amabella.)

You can binge all of Season 1 today in anticipation of Season 2 — iTunes, Stitcher, or our website.

And I want to know if you’re a Madelyn, Celeste, Jane, Bonnie, or Renata?

Finding the Right Freelance Content Writer

I am amazed by the sheer number of services devoted to helping you find the right freelancer. The only thing more surprising is that there are enough freelancers to support all these platforms. I suppose this was inevitable in the age of #sidehustle. But as someone who works with freelancers every day, I can tell you that they are not all created equal.

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An Ode to Monty Don

I’ve got Spring Fever, and I blame Monty Don, otherwise known as Britain’s Favorite Gardener. After discovering a season of Big Dreams, Small Spaces on Netflix that I hadn’t already seen, I spent a couple of weekend mornings watching intently as people across England transform their backyards with the help of Monty. When I came to the end of the unwatched season I wasn’t satisfied. I started watching Monty Don’s French Gardens, and Monty Don’s Italian Gardens. All of this is on Netflix, ready to be binged. And while you might be saying, “I don’t care about gardening, that show isn’t for me,” I’m going to make a case for why you should all be watching Monty Don.

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Why Every Writer Needs an Editor

An acquaintance of mine, after finding out what I do for a living, asked me if I considered myself a writer. She’s an English professor, who has devoted her life to studying writers. So when I said, “I love writing, but I think I lean more toward being an editor,” she seemed surprised. When you’re a kid, you never say, “When I grow up, I want to be an editor!”

Everyone wants to be a writer--but every writer needs a good editor. 

When I tell people I’m an editor, they don’t really know what it means. If they have some idea about the profession, it’s that we spend our time looking for misplaced commas and typos. Of course, we do a bit of that, but in reality, that’s what copy editors and proofreaders are for. My time is spent assigning articles, and then making sure that the writers have hit the mark. I’m usually editing articles about business and technology, which means there are a few things I’m looking for.

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Happy Sunday: Just Fine

Brandi Carlile wowed people on The Grammy’s. Unfortunately, I missed that performance–at least the live broadcast–but her newest album has been in heavy rotation at my house for months. Then, recently, I saw that this song made President Obama’s playlist last year. I thought that was a good reason to share.

A Writing Shed of One’s Own

I am smitten with Britain’s favorite gardener, Monty Don. A couple of years ago, I had no idea who he was, but then Netflix started airing Big Dreams, Small Spaces and I was hooked. But I’m not here to talk to you about Monty Don’s gardening prowess, his suspenders, or his loping walk. I’m here to discuss his writing garden–a lovely little woodland with a shed at the back where Monty types out his books.

Monty Don in his writing shed.
Monty Don is his writing shed.

The first time I ever thought, “Gee, I sure would like a writing shed” was when I read John Irving’s Last Night at Twisted River. The main character talks about the little shack he writes in on a remote island. Then, several years later, Pinterest and tiny houses became a part of my life. Before I knew it, I was very seriously coveting a writing shed of my own.

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Lean Out and Get a Life

I am a working woman in my 30s who has never read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. I’m a rare bird, but now that you’ve spotted me, you can check me off your list.

Like a lot of women, I had a very basic, visceral reaction to Lean In that made me an instant skeptic. For me, though, the problem was less about the privileged position Sandberg was writing from at the time, and more about the fact that she was using her prominent position to tell us all to work harder–as if Americans weren’t already working themselves to death.

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On Becoming a Plant Lady

The title of this post is misleading. I’ve always been a plant lady–but focused mostly on the outdoor variety. Back in 2011, I bought a house. The yard was a bit of a wasteland, but I kind of liked that, because it meant I could make it my own. I begged, borrowed, and stole plants from just about everyone I knew. Roses and lilacs from my grandmother. Black-eyed Susans from my aunt. Peonies from my other grandmother. Irises from a family friend. Another family friend helped me procure wood for the raised beds for my vegetable garden. By the time I sold the house in 2017, the once barren yard was filled to near overflowing (though my mom did dig up some of Nana’s old roses and take them to her house before I put it on the market).

But since I sold the house and have been moving around, I’ve had to embrace houseplants. I had a few easy to care for plants at my old place–a spider plant given to me as a housewarming gift, a few cacti also given as gifts through the years. But I’ve never been much of a houseplant person. My cats were generally the enemy of any plants I brought inside. They either ate it or knocked it over. And frankly, I didn’t really know what to do with the plants, anyway. What does “bright indirect light” mean, anyway?

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