Things That Are Just Not Okay

Valentine's Day HeartIt’s only March, and already some of the optimism I felt heading into the New Year has dissipated.

Why? Because rather than focusing on all the good things in my life -- my job, my family, my friends, the nice weather in northern California this winter -- I find myself irritated by some of things I’m seeing each day and reading about in the news.  

So I’ve decided to spend a few minutes and rant about “Things That Are Not Good.” Yes, these can be easily dismissed as First World complaints. And I certainly know they pale in comparison to the problems faced by those coping with hunger, poverty, homelessness, joblessness, underemployment, health issues, crazy terrorists who have no regard for human life and crazy politicians bent on world domination, among many other horrible things.

But what can I say. I live in the First World, and this stuff is driving me crazy. And we’re only 65 days into 2015!!!! I can’t even imagine how long the list is going to be by June.

Let me also just point out that I am not the only one: There is a hashtag, #thingsarenotgood, and it is neither new nor initiated by me. It can be pretty funny, though.

So here are the things that I’ve just found truly annoying so far this year, listed in no particular order.

• Rude drivers who think they own the road, as demonstrated by their inability to send a simple wave your way after you let them cut ahead of you in a long line of traffic that causes you to miss the light -- again. Yes, I’m talking to you, Tesla Model S driver. 

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New Year, New Ideas

Happy New Year! We hope you had a fun and relaxing break with family and friends.
As always, the holidays flew by, and we’re already into the first weeks of 2015 wondering where the time has gone. Which is why, when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, we knew we had to keep it simple. Here’s what we’ve got:  

Cut back on sugar

Everyone has a bête noire in their diet, and mine is sugar. In the warmer months, it's easy to reach for yogurt with fresh fruit when I get the munchies. In the winter, I'm way too likely grab cookies or pumpkin bread or hot chocolate. So I'm going back to a rule that's worked for me better than any sort of official diet: No more than 25 grams of added sugar a day. That basically means that I don't drink sweetened beverages and that if I want a dessert, I choose carefully and have only a small serving, or better, make it myself and use less sugar than the recipe calls for. Totally doable.  -- KW

I will not be rushed

The last three months of 2014 were ridiculously busy for me. In that time, I realized that most of the stress in my life comes from people who are trying to make me do things faster. At work, that's unreasonable deadlines. At home, it's toddlers who are so eager for me to get out of the shower that they ram the bathroom door with their riding toys.
Let me explain something. I am not a procrastinator. I am a parent who works full-time. The only way I can get everything done is to do it. The kitchen elves, the housekeeping elves, the editing elves -- they all live in someone else's house. If I am not working full-tilt, not totally focused on the task at hand, it is because my mind desperately needs a rest before it can become functional again. Telling me to hurry up is a complete and utter waste of time. All it does is irritate me. So I am not going to let people do it. I am going to tell them to take a number and get in line. They can fold my laundry while they wait. -- KW

I have tried running. I have tried the gym. I do not like it. What I like is to walk, for hours on end.
Unfortunately, it’s increasingly rare that I get the chance to walk. Before I had kids, a day spent hiking was not unusual. Now it's a once-a-year treat -- maybe. But I've got to clear my head somehow. So every day that I work from home, I am going to find a full hour to walk outside during daylight hours (the 9:30 pm walk, after the kids are asleep, is just not as good).

As of January 16, I have blown this resolution repeatedly. I am undeterred. -- KW

My friend filmmaker Tiffany Shlain and her family have “Technology Shabbats,” turning off their devices and unplugging from Friday evening through Saturday night. “Unplugging for a day makes time slow down and makes me feel more present with my family,” Shlain says, in a short film she put together about the idea. This is something I can get behind. After averaging 10 hours a day on my computer last year, with time in between spent checking my smartphone, the idea of a tech-free day at least once a week has a lot of appeal. Goodness knows I’ve earned the right to unplug. -- CG

Get some fresh air

I’m amazed at how often I spent the entire day inside last year, with the only time spent outside either walking into the office in the morning or heading home at night. No more. I am now making an effort to be outside for least 10 minutes of every workday, even if it’s just standing in the courtyard in front of my office building. I know that 10 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough time to listen to Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major and Bohemian Rhapsody, or Danzón No. 2, as conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Good enough. -- CG

Don't stop me now
I have adopted a theme song for 2015. It’s Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” I’m using it is a reminder that every day can be an adventure, filled with opportunities to have fun and try new things.  I don’t know if every day will turn out that way, but I’m trying to be optimistic here, and if a 3.5 minute song can help me through even a third of the days ahead this year, how bad can that be? -- CG

January 16, 2015
Missed our last issue? Here you go:
Ditching the Holiday Stress

If you liked this story, you might also like:
Resolved: 2014 Will be Awesome 
New Year's Resolutions That Might Actually Work
You'll Never Regret...

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Photo courtesy of flickr user Moyan Brenn  

Owning Your Happy Ending

It’s all about perspective.

That's what I’m telling myself, as I’m jammed into the middle seat on a four-hour flight. I'm trying to remember that really, this is a lot easier than being up with a colicky baby for four hours. And that business trips, actually, are a weird sort of luxury. Generally, I’ll sleep through the night, and if I pack enough granola bars and apples, get to eat when I’m hungry.

If you’re with an infant 24-7, my guess is that sounds pretty relaxing.

I’ll remind myself again in a few hours, when I’ll be in what is probably a very nice hotel room. I will tell myself to enjoy it, rather than wondering what the heck I’m doing here by myself, without my husband.

Yes, it's a truism: While I can’t control my surroundings, I can control my response to them. I can be thankful or I can be snotty. It’s my choice. I've been told this a hundred times, and it's still hard to fully accept. It sounds easy, but it’s really hard.

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12 Comebacks for Dealing With Rude People

What do you say to someone who asks you a rude or inappropriate question or says something offensive?

That was what several friends asked after I shared my advice on Getting Unstuck from Sticky Situations. What do you say, they wondered, to questions like, “Have you lost weight?” “How much money do you make?” “Is that your real nose?” “When are you going to have children?” and “Did you mean to wear that today?”

Finding the right comeback can be a tricky thing. Assuming you’re unable to ignore the person or just walk away, how you handle inappropriate remarks says as much about your own character as the person ticking you off. And the comeback choices are limited if the insulting person is your boss -- assuming you want  to keep your job.

So let’s say you don’t want to handle rudeness with rudeness. For me, that means passing on the two-word expletive that's top of mind when I’m confronted with the rude and offensive. It also means refraining from tossing out overtly snarky lines, such as, “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” or, “I'll try being nicer if you'll try being more intelligent,” or, “I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce,” or “I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public,” or  “I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.”

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How to Explain Bitcoin to Your Dad

Does the headline “How to Explain Bitcoin to Your Dad,” seem ridiculous to you? I hope so, because the headline “How to Explain Bitcoin to Your Mom,” somehow passed muster with the New York Times recently.

If that’s not crazy enough, the explaining to Mom was done via cartoon panels, rather than a traditional story. Obviously, there are lots of graphic novelists doing sophisticated work. But it’s hard not to see the message, in this case, as, “We have to make Bitcoin super-simple – like a cartoon! -- to make it accessible to our most unsophisticated readers. Like, you know, moms.”

Granted, Bitcoin, an electronic proto-currency, can take some explaining. But the supposition that those who haven’t had children are automatically more qualified to pontificate upon it than those who have is ageist to the core. Youth trumps a lot of things, but when you’re trying to explain a somewhat complicated technical matter, youth is of no import whatsoever. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there, a generation younger than I, who can explain Bitcoin perfectly well, to their parents or to anyone else. But their age has nothing to do with it.

Read more: How to Explain Bitcoin to Your Dad

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