Fostering Gratitude at Thanksgiving and Year-Round

Black and white painting of dishes and fruit on a table

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Its historical origins aside, for me, it’s a day spent with family, some of whom I don’t see as often as I’d like.  When I was a kid, the hosting duties rotated among my mom and her four siblings, and a crowd of 20-30 of my aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered together for a delicious potluck-style meal, followed by hours of card games, laughter, and enjoying each others’ company.  The gatherings have become smaller over the years and the format has changed a bit, but I still look forward to this holiday more than any other.

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Spending Money to Save Time: On Outsourcing Chores

Still life painting of candles, soap dispenser, bowls

A few months ago, I read about a study indicating that people are happier when they spend money to buy themselves free time (by outsourcing chores) than when they spend the same amount of money on material goods.  (The study was widely covered; you can read more about it here, here, and here.)  The authors reported that the reduction in time-stress resulting from paying others to perform daily tasks and routine chores led to greater life satisfaction across a wide range of income levels.  In other words, even people who are not wealthy benefit emotionally from spending their discretionary money on services rather than goods.  Given this information, why am I, like so many people, still cleaning my own house and weeding my own flower beds?

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The Power of Poetry

Four poetry books stacked on a counter

While searching for Monday’s Quote of the Week, I found myself traveling down a rabbit hole of poetry about autumn.  I don’t often take the time to read and contemplate poems at length, but when I do, I’m rarely disappointed.  There’s something about a poem that can communicate a feeling so profoundly.  Free from prose’s need to explain everything in complete sentences, poetry can make its point through images and metaphors, playing with rhythm and structure in ways that make the reader appreciate language like never before.  A great poem has the power to make me feel connected to its author through universal human experience, conveyed with just the right words.

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My Parents’ Parenting

Line drawing of a mother embracing her young daughter

A friend who has two young children asked me to write about some positive things my parents did when I was a child that have shaped who I am today.  So many things contribute to why we are the way we are, from genetics to early friendships to traumatic experiences in our youth, but there’s no denying that our parents’ choices, behaviors, and attitudes have a significant impact on the people we become.  Reflecting on our childhoods is valuable for all of us, and it holds particular value for me at this moment, as I prepare to become a parent. Read more

Making Apologies

Pencil sketch of two people standing a few feet apart

The Grammar Girl podcast did a great show this week on how to write an apology.  For a while now, I’ve been meaning to write a post about making tough apologies, so I thought I’d piggyback on Grammar Girl’s discussion.  The show advised listeners to avoid four kinds of non-apologies (the “if” apology, the passive voice apology, the reverse apology, and the florid fauxpology) and to follow a formula for apologizing effectively:

  • Acknowledge the offense clearly
  • Explain it effectively
  • Restore the offended parties’ dignity
  • Assure them they’re safe from a repeat offense
  • Express shame and humility
  • Make appropriate reparation

(Credit to Dr. Aaron Lazare and his book On Apology.)

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Advice for Newly Minted Lawyers

*Updated to add some great advice posted by readers on social media – see below. 

Photo of a shelf of law books
As we enter October, some states have already released the results of the July bar exam, and other states will post their results soon.  I thought this would be a good time offer some advice to this year’s class of new lawyers as they embark on their careers.  I spent my first two years after law school working at a fairly large law firm, and the following tips might be less applicable to those working in other settings (i.e., in-house legal departments, government agencies, etc.), but I think most of these points apply across the board.  Lawyers, please add your own advice in the comments below.  

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Feeding Ourselves: Thoughts on Cooking and Convenience

Drawing of a bowl a fruit and a pear and orange on a table

I came across this article yesterday that reported the findings of a study showing that “[o]nly 10% of consumers now love to cook, while 45% hate it and 45% are lukewarm about it.”  The 10% number surprised me, as many people in my social circle cook most of their meals and seem to enjoy making their own food.  I’ll admit that I tend to fall into the lukewarm category, though it’s more accurate to say that my desire to cook ebbs and flows.

I know that cooking my own meals is generally healthier and more cost-effective than eating at restaurants.  Cooking can be a lot more satisfying, too.  I don’t live in a big city with an endless number of restaurants, and sometimes I’m just not that excited about my options for eating out.  On occasions when I want a specific dish, my chances of satisfying the craving are sometimes better if I make the dish myself rather than trying to find the precise offering at a local restaurant.  I also imagine that for families with kids and hectic schedules, eating at home is probably easier than going to a restaurant.

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Rethinking Regret

Black and white profile photo of the author sitting on a porch in Kauai
Photo by Emilios

This week, Hidden Brain, one of my favorite podcasts-slash-public-radio-programs, explored the topic of regret with a researcher and head of an academic “regret lab.”  The program discussed the various positive and negative consequences of regret.

I think I’ve reached a point in my life when I’m able to put most of my regrets to rest.  Yes, there are opportunities I missed, chances I wish I’d taken, different paths I could have chosen, and times I acted selfishly or treated others poorly.  The last category is, of course, the hardest to get over, because it’s regret combined with guilt.  But we can’t undo what we’ve done in the past, and at some point we have to forgive ourselves and commit to behaving better in the future, now that we know better.

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Guest Post: My Journey Towards Minimalism

Today’s post was written by Courtney Miller. Courtney is a Financial Analyst from South Central Pennsylvania. In her free time, she is the Vice President of Internal Affairs for a local nonprofit, Animal Advocates of South Central PA. She also likes to travel and eat too much food. Thanks for sharing your story and tips with us, Courtney!

Decluttering, KonMari Method, tiny homes, capsule wardrobes… These terms have been trending lately, and with good reason. Actually, many good reasons. How often have you misplaced something and spent more time searching for it than you’d like to admit? Maybe you’ve looked “everywhere” and couldn’t find it. It got lost somewhere among your stuff. How much time have you spent organizing, dusting, and cleaning your stuff? Or bought something and had to “make room” for it?

How much stuff in our lives is necessary? How much of it do we actually use? Do you ever ask yourself, “Why do I even have this thing?” You’re not alone.

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Ask Alexis: Cruelty Free Personal Care and Cosmetics

Various cosmetic products arranged on a countertop

Reader L sent this question:

You wrote a while ago about switching to cosmetics that aren’t tested on animals. I’d like to make that switch, but I’m not sure where to start. It seems overwhelming to research all the beauty products on the market. What products do you use?

In case you missed it, I believe L is referring to this post.  I’m a little hesitant to post a full list of the products I use for fear of seeming high-maintenance (don’t judge!), but I did do a good bit of research on this topic, and I’m happy to share that research if it will help you make the switch to cruelty free products.  European readers don’t need to worry about this, as animal testing for cosmetic purposes is banned in the European Union.

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