In the spirit of frugality & frivolity, I implore you to save your mason jars! You know…the ones pasta & apple sauce come in (Bertolli has the best ones). You can use them for all your normal storage needs–I use mine to take my favorite smoothies to work & to store dry goods in the kitchen. But if you want to get a little more inspired, check out all these adorable mason jar projects:
Make a cupcake in a jar, according to Kelly.
Kara Pasley teaches fearless would-be electricians how to make a mason jar chandelier (for easier mason-jar lighting projects, scroll down)
Deer in a Bottle rounded up some favorite mason jar drinks:
Life Rearranged makes rainbow cakes in mason jars.
Tip Junkie shows you how to make a wall-hanging mason jar garden. This would be fantastic for flowers & kitchen herbs.
Anaboo’s house has a tutorial for these glorious vintage lanterns:
If you have an office gig, whether it’s the number-crunching-hour-billing type or the reinvent & save the world type, and whether you have a corner office or a cramped cubicle, you deserve comfortable working conditions. Hey, you’re there a minimum of eight hours a day, so why not make yourself as happy, healthy & comfortable as possible there.
1) Use an ergonomic chair.
A bad chair can ruin your day, not to mention your back, so an ergonomic chair is a great investment. There are plenty of slick execu-chairs on the market, but if you want to improve your posture and get a six-pack, consider a stability ball or a stability ball chair. The one above is fantastic (my work buddy has one) and it’s from Gaiam.
2) Adjust for the weather.
If you’re in a place with long, dark winters, this means a Light Therapy Pad to ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder. Elsewhere, get a fan if it’s hot & a space heater if it’s cold . The small investment in climate control can make a huge difference in keeping you happy at work.
3) Add music
There are some people that just can’t concentrate with music I’m not one of them. Listening to my ipod, FM radio, or Pandora brightens up my day and boosts my inspiration.
4) Add some inspiration
Display something huge & inspirational: a piece of artwork, a photo of friends and family, anything that will anchor you and remind you of why you work so hard. Even if you’re just punching the time clock saving money for a round the world trip, post something that reminds you where you’re going. When you’re parked in the same (now ergonomic) chair for 160+ hours a month, it’s easy to lose sight of exactly why you are there. Don’t let that happen (The poster is by mae chevrette.)
5) Bring in something living.
Best case scenario is a BYOP (bring your own pet) workplace. If you have a well-behaved pet, perhaps you can lobby for this perk. Your puppy’s adorableness will improve your work satisfaction, reduce stress, and improve your productivity. If you can’t bring your dog to work, a cool plant can also have a similar mood-boosting effect. (You can get the one pictured above at this sweet Etsy shop)
6) Stay Hydrated!
Dehydration leads to headaches, crankiness, drops in productivity and general nastiness. Luckily, it’s very easy to avoid. Stop buying plastic bottles & bring in filtered water from home. If there’s no place to re-fill, bring two or three bottles from home or ask the office to start a water-cooler pool. (This water bottle is engravable).
7) Add some aromatherapy.
I love a gorgeous scented candle. But for those of us that work in places with fire codes, reed diffusers are a great option. Weather & building permitting, there’s no aromatherapy like opening the windows after a rainstorm or during the fall (that wintry smell in the air) or spring (flowers!)
8) Bring in a fresh fruit bowl
On Monday morning bring in a bounty of fresh fruits & veggies. Display those lovely goodies (seasonal fruits & lemons & limes for your water) that don’t need to be refrigerated on your desk. Grab fruit instead of heading for the vending machines whenever you want a workday snack.
9) Stash some serious indulgences.
Hide a bottle of champagne or some dark, dark chocolate, in your bottom drawer, for emergencies only. Under lock & key, if possible.
The idea is to make your workspace so inviting that you are just tickled & delighted to be there every day. You probably spend more time in your office than you do at home, so put up your artwork, put down a cozy rug, bring a meditation cushion & score fresh flowers every week. Whatever it takes. However impermanent the situation might be. Make yourself feel happy & at home there.
Thomas Carlye once said “Every man is my superior in that I may learn from him.” Many spiritual traditions teach that all lives have equal value, or that all are children of God, or have a divine spark or divine self within. I think we all buy into that at some level. Why, then, don’t we act like it?
I’ve been frustrated lately by seeing this in myself and others around me. We never exchange more than pleasantries with our bosses. We treat children like they’re either a nuisance or an accessory and not much else, and assume old people are irrelevant and senile, tourists are clueless, and teenagers are self-important airheads. We treat terminally ill people like they’re made of glass.
If you’re an introvert, it’s especially easy to stay in a little bubble, assuming that others don’t want to hear from you or you don’t have anything to say that would interest them. But all we accomplish by staying in little bubbles is to make our lives smaller, to learn less and to offer less of our awesome to the world.
In December, I’m challenging myself to have a meaningful conversation with someone I normally wouldn’t have a meaningful conversation with, without awkwardness, stereotypes, or judgment. My only objective will be to learn something.
Interested in joining the December Conversation Challenge? Have a real conversation with someone new; could be:
- A very old person
- A very young person
- Someone much senior to you or someone you admire, such as a boss or a celebrity.
- A person marginalized or judged by society–a homeless person, a person convicted of a crime, or a person affected by addiction.
- A person whose choices or values you disagree with or are uncomfortable with.
- A person you don’t like
- A random stranger on the bus
- A neighbor you’ve exchanged nothing more than pleasantries with for years.
- A terminally ill person
- A person you’ve judged (as closed-minded, stupid, an ass) recently.
- A person from a different country or culture.
Write about your conversation challenge experiment by December 302h & email me your story or link to your blog story at ladypantsdance (at) gmail (dot) com.
Ask and you shall receive. Uncontrovertibly true, but also hard. Why? Because as children, we’re taught that asking is wrong. Don’t be greedy. Be self-sufficient. Good girls don’t want things. Real men don’t need help. Don’t inconvenience people. We don’t take charity in this family. It’s a dog-eat-dog world. You don’t want to owe anyone anything. If you ask for things, people to think you’re weak or needy. Did you grow up with any of these beliefs? (I did.) Do you still believe these things? (I do, sometimes.)
The first problem with these beliefs is that they keep you from asking for what you want and need. That’s bad because if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
The second problem with these beliefs is that when you believe that you are unworthy or wrong or out of line in asking for something, you tend to make a sorry, ineffective mess of that request. You grovel, apologize, avoid eye contact, or don’t ask for things directly.
The root of all beliefs about asking is the fear that we’re asking for something that we don’t deserve, or that we shouldn’t have. I’m not going to tell you you deserve everything in the world because nobody does. We don’t want to go around asking old ladies to give up their subway seat for you, or asking your parents to bail you out of gambling debt for the fifth time this month. But these are not the kinds of requests we’re talking about. It’s everything else; a raise, a date, a small kindness, a military discount, an interview. If you can look someone in the eye and ask for what you need with kindness, compassion, and honestly, and without apologizing, then you don’t need to worry that your request is out of line, or wrong, or an abuse of trust or relationship. All you have to worry about is mustering up the courage to ask, and asking well.
When you ask well—honestly, directly, kindly–two things will happen. First, you’ll start trusting yourself when it comes to asking for things. You’ll trust that those things you can ask for well are totally yours to ask for. Second, people are a lot more likely to grant a direct, kind, unapologetic request than a babbling, rambling, sorry one. A win on both fronts!
This week, practice asking. Practice asking well. Ask the thrift store clerk for a discount because a button’s missing. Ask someone you admire to mentor you. Ask your spouse to make dinner tonight. Ask your friends to donate for an upcoming charity race. The first step is to practice having the courage to ask. The second step is to practice asking well:
- Look the person in the eye.
- Ask kindly
- Ask simply and directly. Do not make the person read between the lines or guess what you mean.
- Do not apologize.
- Do not give the person an out (e.g., I totally understand if you say no, but….)
- Do not give excuses, stories, or white lies to elicit sympathy. Trust me, this doesn’t work in your favor.
WRONG: (fidgeting and avoiding eye contact) Sir, excuse me, I’m sorry, I was thinking, maybe, if possible, I could, please, next week, take a personal day , because (white lie) I have doctor’s appointments and to see my 90-year old grandma, but if you can’t I totally understand, its ok.
RIGHT: (Eye contact). I would like to take a vacation day on Wednesday, please.
WRONG: I come home from a long day’s work and you’re sitting there picking your toes and reading a magazine and expect me to serve you dinner on a silver platter. You haven’t made dinner in three days. What the hell is wrong with you, you lazy turd?
RIGHT: I would like you to cook dinner tonight, please.
Go forth and ask! And then share what you asked for & how it went….
Simple & Delicious. Let’s break it down:
- 1/4 cup-Regular olive oil (don’t use the expensive EVOO–regular olive oil works well)
- 1/2 cup Coarse Sea Salt
- 3-4 drops of your favorite essential or fragrance oil. I use Kuumba Made fragrance essence in Lily of the Valley.
- A small bowl, jar, or tupperware container.
- Keeps in the refrigerator for about a week–cover well or it will absorb all the lovely refrigerator smells-true story.
- Makes your bathtub slippery (it has oil in it, duh). Please clean your bathtub after use to avoid injuries and/or lawsuits.