Monthly Archives

December 2017

6 Mantras to Live By in 2018

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new year mantras 2018

 

If you’re anything like anyone, right about now you’re working on a list of New Year’s Resolutions that likely has a number of repeats from years prior. Still haven’t stood up to your boss? Gained weight instead of lost it? Have yet to write that book you’ve been talking about since you were eleven *coughBELLEcough*? More than likely you start the year with great intentions, but fizzle out by March. That’s what happens. A year is a long time and a lot happens during all those moon cycles.

Maybe the problem isn’t you and your level of discipline; maybe the problem is with resolutions. 

What is a resolution?

A quick search in a separate tab lists the definitions of resolution as “a firm decision to do or not do something” and “the action of solving a problem”. This suggests that there is something wrong with us and our lives and therefore we must fix it.

Personally, here at TwoFeelsWrite, we had a bit of an issue with the ever so popular NYR to lose weight. Yes, yes, some people really do need to lose weight and some want to and that’s their life and their decision and you go Glenn Cocoa! But focusing too much on losing weight can lead to investing on a really expensive treadmill (a.k.a. coat hanger), or spending too much on a gym membership that you probably used in January, but now it’s June and you still haven’t cancelled the automatic withdrawal. One of the biggest issues with wanting to lose weight is that it can lead to dangerous fad diets or have too much focus on a number.

Resolutions are often firm and narrow, with clear success and failure. It’s hard to stick to something like that for twelve months when you obviously haven’t been working on it in the past (hence why it’s on your resolution list!). Maybe it’s time to try something else.

What is a mantra?

One more definition search: a mantra is “a statement or slogan repeated frequently” and/or “a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation”. But what does it really mean?

To us, it means a new focus, putting the emphasis on growth rather than problem. A mantra is something positive that you aim to incorporate in your daily life as a reminder towards success and happiness. There is success and there is failure, but maybe not as severely as with resolutions.

Take a look at the six mantras we’re going to be living in 2018.

1. Be Healthier

Bet ya saw that one coming a mile away. Nevertheless, it deserves to be here.

Belle: A big thing for me is my mental health, which has taken a beating in the last two years. I want to go to the gym and do yoga so that I’m physically healthy and stronger (and to look good naked, because #real), but also so that I have more energy and focus. I’m working on transitioning from coffee to tea so that I can cut out sugary creamers from my diet and keep my anxiety under control. There’s also drinking more water, not eating as much sugar, and overall healthy habits that I want to incorporate as best I can.

Elena: When I start something, I’m not always driven to finish it. The problem with being healthy is that it is never ending. My “cheat days” become my daily routine and healthy meals become less frequent. I want to work on balance, eating things that make me feel good more often: less junk food, no fast food, no soda, less alcohol and smaller portions. With the help of Pinterest, there are thousands of yummy recipes that are healthier. I received a yoga kit as a corporate gift from my company, so I have everything I could need. I just need the drive and be able to stick with it and make it a routine to be comfortable in my skin again and feel good.

2. Complain Less

In this day of climate change, political and economic disaster, and countless articles on how Millennials are killing this and another five killed in a terrorist attack, it’s hard to stay positive. But it’s important to keep some optimism and happiness in our lives.

No complaints

Belle: I was really inspired by a kid’s speech at a high school speech and debate tournament where he had this great “give yourself a hand” spiel. More or less it went something like this: “for every negative thing you focus on, point on five positives. Give naysayers and doubts the middle finger. Make a commitment to growth and a pinky promise to always keep trying. And every day give yourself a thumbs up because you did it.” That’s the sort of cheesy stuff I want to do this year. Focus on my successes more than my short comings, celebrate the little things, redirect conversations away from Negative Nancy and towards Polly Positive, and take control to change the things I complain about the most.

Elena: It’s so easy to find things to complain about on the daily: my back aches, there goes another $200 on medical bills, another misfortune to the car I’m stuck in a lease with for the next two years… I noticed when I wasn’t living in America and I was in school (not working) I was so much happier. But, I was also racking up a lot of debt. So to even the playing field, I need to find fun things to do in moderation so that I can still pay my bills, but also have a fun day out. Not just that, I find comfort in reading, writing and going to church or volunteering. When I think about people less fortunate than me, it’s easier to stop complaining.

3. Establish Sustainable Balance

This might be the biggest thing we (this time meaning our generation at large) struggle with the most. In college, there was the classic triangle of “grades, sleep, and social life: pick two”, and we’re shocked and terrified that, instead of going away, it’s grown into the hectic heptagon of “work, health, house, hobbies, sleep, social life, self care: pick two”. A lot of things fall by the wayside, and we’re still figuring out how to do it all.

Belle: I’m maybe sorta kinda cheating with this. I found that the biggest obstacle was working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour commute each way. So I got rid of it. Now I’m reorganizing my schedule around my needs and when things work best for me. For example, I can focus and get a lot of work done in the middle of the night and overall do better when I wake up later. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m setting little goals and schedules for every day so that the big tasks become little chunks and I’m more likely to have the time, energy, and discipline to do it all.

Elena: Trying to balance out my life is about as hard as trying to win $1,000 on a lottery ticket from the grocery store. I’m really terrible with following through with things: I still have a coffee table I need to stain, I have three crafts in a pile on my bedroom floor, I still need to get sandbags for my car this winter. I’m finding that when I take a moment and write things out, it’s really not that overwhelming, it’s very doable. What I need is more organization (the bullet journal is my savior), less T.V., more time reading or with people and to watch my spending.

Related Reading: 5 Ways To Stay Focused 

4. Work On Yourself, For Yourself

This is the age of empowerment and self realization. Don’t admire people that improve themselves: be that person!

Photo by Uroš Jovičić on Unsplash

Belle: I’m working on a lot of projects this upcoming year because they’re things that I either really enjoy and need to have more of in my life, or because it could be the thing that let’s me do the things I really enjoy. I’m doing away with traditional definitions of success and what’s expected of me in order to do what I believe to be is best for me. No more worrying about what looks good on a resume or what’s going to be put in the family Christmas card: I know me and I’m going to do what’s best for me so that I can be my best for others.

Elena: Sometimes when I’m at work, I look up prices for working visas to different countries or different jobs in the area to get away. Then I come to my senses and make a list of pros and cons of my decisions. I find that the more goals I have set, even if it’s finishing a project by the end of the week, I feel so much better. For this upcoming year, I want to do things for myself; take a vacation with my godmother, go to Canada (because why the hell not, eh?), get rid of the things I don’t need, make a financial plan and stick to it, calculate my BMI to keep track of how my body changes. I want to be a better person, do things for others, work hard and have fun!

Related Reading: 3 Reasons to Love Being Single

5. Build On Successes

This is where the mantra mentality can really take hold. Every day can be another mile stone, can be the “I did five pushups instead of four” and “I only hit snooze twice this morning” and “I made a new network connection today”.

Belle: I’ve been using this philosophy a lot with my gym routine as of late: “it wasn’t my best workout, but I went. I was at the gym, and I tried. I’m still developing the habit.” I’m at the point where it’s turning into a bit of a cop out, but it’s still good to view things positively so that I’m more inclined to do it again. Now I have to learn how to recognize successes and how to turn failures into successes within new business ventures and long-term goals. I can’t afford to let something work once and then not figure out how to make it happen again.

Elena: Successes are all mental, but they come from the people around you the most. My sister lost weight, she looks great and I told her so! My boss thanks me at the end of everyday, even if I feel like I did nothing that day, she always makes me feel appreciated. It’s great to have reassurance on accomplishments, but to feel successful, I need to really invest myself and my time. If I do that, I will feel successful when I leave the gym and my my abs are in pain when I laugh, when I have everything checked off my “to-do” list, or when I have an extra $50 in my savings. Little by little things will grow and change and make me feel more successful.

Related Reading: The Two Step: A Bilateral Move

6. Take Risks

We do not endorse covering yourself in bacon fat and jumping into a pool full of piranhas as positive risky behavior in 2018. But you won’t grow if you stay in your comfort zone, so eventually you have to cross your imaginary line and try something new. Maybe that means making the first move towards the cute guy at the bar or speaking up in work meetings. Maybe it means wearing bright red lipstick or going bungee jumping. That’s for you to decide.

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Belle: Oh boy howdy. 2018 is going to be the year where everything changes for me, but it has yet to be determined if it will be for the worse or for the better. I’m starting the year off by quitting my 9-5 and trying the freelance/independent contractor/aspiring student lifestyle. And I know the risks won’t stop there. But I’m excited and I’m determined to make it work.

Elena: This is what I’m looking forward to most! I went crazy when I was abroad in college and it was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m finding that I haven’t met many new people because I haven’t been going out or staying in hostels. I’m always with people I know, so we usually keep to ourselves. But the more people I meet, the more possibilities there are! I’m testing out the Inner Circle (which costs $5/week, but if you create a profile, then try to delete it, they offer you a free trial ;)). Not only is the Inner Circle meant for dating, but also just meeting people in your area. Moral of this mantra: be like Yes Man with no hesitation.

 

What are your 2018 goals and mantras? What steps will you be taking to achieve them? Let us know in the comments, as well as how we might be able to help!

December 26, 2017
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Adams Mystery Playhouse: Holidays R Murder

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mystery play

My dad gave me a task a few weeks ago: find something for our whole family to do around Christmas. In the midst of my searching for “fun things to do in Denver” on Google, I stumbled across the Adam’s Mystery Playhouse. I clicked on some links, and read about this place. It’s an interactive, dinner/lunch show where the audience solves the mystery that takes place. They feed you, perform, include you AND there was a bar. It’s December already, every big thing that could be fun will not have enough room for eight people. BUT, they will have room for three…I texted Belle and Mitch and bought 3 tickets for us to go to one of the only available dates left on a Sunday afternoon.

The Playhouse

I had never head of this place until this moment, and I told Belle and Mitch that, just in case it was a waste of $48. It turned out to be one of the best investments we’ve made! Show time was at 2:00, so we showed up about thirty minutes early for cocktails. The playhouse is literally in an old house in Denver. There are two large dining rooms (one upstairs, one in the basement) where the plays are performed. There were two shows going on that day: “Holidays R Murder” and “A Dickens of a Murder”. We weren’t allowed into the playrooms until closer to the starting time. While we waiting, we grabbed a drink (spiked eggnog for the win!), did a scavenger hunt, and noticed people in costumes among the guests. The actors were already into character, speaking to the guests about the other characters and what they had been up to lately. Shortly after our interactions, we were ushered downstairs to take our seats.

The Play

Since we were the first three down there, we made sure to choose the seats facing the small stage at the front for the best view. It was all decorated for Christmas, with red lights over head and big presents hung up by the stage. We were ushered by table to grab our lunch. Since ours was the last to fill up, we were last. However, that meant having time for one of the cast members to ask if “one of us lovely ladies would mind volunteering to be a character”. Which of course, turned out to be me, at Belle’s generous insistence.

So I became Billy Joe, twin sister to Bobby Joe and one part of the fantastic singing group The Silver Bells. Fortunately I didn’t have to sing. But more about my role later.

The story was that we were at the Cringle Cookie Factory Christmas Party, where one of the main party guests, George Bailey, was murdered. We had the chance to get up and look at clues on each of the tables, like a life insurance policy and some saucy emails. An inspector arrived and led the audience through those and some new clues, usually asking for an audience member to read a clue aloud. And if someone read it wrong, a joke was usually made at that person’s expense (but all in good fun!). There was also a Christmas congo line, a rendition of “Santa Baby”, and a little dance show from Tinsel and Balls featuring one actor and two audience members.

My little role as Billy Joe was as a love interest of George Bailey. Except he was two-timing me with my very own sister, Bobby Joe! I messed up my line a little bit because I was so in character (cue merciless joke from the cast), but it was fun to be a part of the show. Belle and Mitch also stood up to read some clues in their “best dramatics”.

Mitch and Elena attentively watch the Holidays R Murder at the Adam's Mystery Playhouse

Related Reading: A Night At the Theater: Macbeth

Go go go!

If you’re ever in Denver, go to the Adam’s Mystery Playhouse! We had so much fun and have already agreed to go to every show they do next year (not kidding). Not only is it great to support the small arts and actors, but being a part of the show makes everything better. Not to mention, every show is different than the last because the jokes and the lines are adapted to each individual audience.

Seriously, check it out.

And if you’re not in Denver, you should seek out the small theaters around you and see what shows they have!

December 21, 2017
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The Two Step: A Bilateral Move

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two step

How to Move Forward When Taking a Step to the Side

It started about 60 years ago in Denver: a complete stop of automobile traffic in all directions to allow pedestrians unobstructed movement in all directions. The joke became that, amongst the crowds and unpredictable paths, some people had to dance their way across the intersection. While utilized in several cities around the world, many in its origin city call it the “Denver Two-Step”. Simultaneously moving forward while moving sideways.

It’s a typically well understood and universal notion that a loss is expected when jumping from one ladder to the next, from one place to another. You have to relearn the ropes, establish a new ground floor, prove your capabilities in a new environment. Just like how you can’t expect a new romantic relationship to have as many memories and inside jokes as your last one, you can’t expect a complete career shift to get you ahead.

Right?

Maybe.

Defining Forward Movement

So often we label success by two factors: money and title. Financial status and social status. We criticize the woman who leaves her comfortable office job at an elite firm to open a sandwich shop. We laugh at the washed up celebrities working behind the bar counter. And yet we applaud the man who works sixty hours a week for an extra $300 a month and missed his daughter’s soccer game because of a recent promotion on the fast track to partner.

Forward movement means the fixing of a problem. It’s something tangible, something you can see, point to and say “that’s forward.” It’s a higher salary. It’s moving from a cubicle to a corner office. It’s having less people to report to while becoming the person more people answer to.

But that’s changing.

Related Reading: A Millennial Job Interview

A woman stands on the end of a pier by a lake in the woods.

Redefining Success

We’ve all heard various renditions of “pursue happiness” and “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. But there’s no money in art history, and selling knitted hats on Etsy won’t put food on the table. So we keep slugging on in the factory, in the ditch, behind the desk, in the job that doesn’t make us happy but pays the bill.

But things are changing. And we can change with it.

Slowly but surely, businesses are catching on to the new surge of Millennials fighting for their values of culture, social responsibility, and a work-life balance. The corner offices are disappearing. Success is being redefined.

I’ve already changed my career path since graduating college. Once a teacher, now a receptionist. And there’s another move looming in my future. In one position I had some (debatable) status, not a lot of money, and even less time. In the other I had very little to no status, almost decent money, and a moderate amount of time but terrible hours. I don’t consider either to be a success. Within the first few months at both positions, I became stressed, unmotivated, and threatened with dangerous coping methods.

So let’s call that move a draw. A purely sideways move: less status for more money, but overall no increase in satisfaction.

Because that’s what it’s about: satisfaction. Not complacency, not acceptance, not even happiness. Satisfaction.

It’s a balance. Work will always be work, no matter how much you love it. But you have to be satisfied with the balance between effort and payout, between how much time you spend at the office versus at home, between your personal wants and needs and those of the company. Some people might be willing to work long, grueling hours because the pay is good. Others may be more inclined to take a pay cut because it gives them more free time to pursue their hobbies or spend  time with friends and family. One person may crave the structure of a 9-5 job with a dress code and a boss, while another finds joy in working sporadic hours from home in their pajamas.

It’s all in the eye of the beholder, dependent on personal values. So there’s one more thing that success is: fluid.

A change in careers can be a step forward if that’s the direction you want to take it in. You might lose money, lose sleep, lose status, but you might gain happiness, autonomy, a better work community. Jumping from one ladder to another doesn’t have to lose you any ground when you define the ground worth standing on.

 

The title "Moving Up and Over: Redefining Success" if overlaid against a pair of black converse shoes on green grass.
December 21, 2017
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Dear Bellena: Help With the Holidays

bellena holidays

 

Belle and Elena are best friends (you already know this) and yet are vastly different (maybe you didn’t know that). Belle is all about “do no harm but take no shit”, save yourself first, and no third chances. Elena sees the best in people, loves everyone, and manages to stay in contact with almost everyone she’s ever met from everywhere. Belle makes decisions with her brain, Elena with her heart.

They compliment each other and keep each other in check. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have to battle it out when their opinions differ.

It also means they’re great for giving advice, because you can get two sides! Or, in the rare event that the two agree entirely on a plan of action, it’s likely because it’s the best. So send in your “Dear Bellena” letters and get personal advice from the lovely ladies!

Related Reading: 16 Personality Types

Disclaimer: Belle and Elena are not trained phycologists or should be considered professionals in regards to life-changing decisions. They are simply two women who want to help and offer their unsolicited advice. 

Help With the Holidays

Dear Bellena,

Christmas and the holidays has always been rough with my family, but I feel like this year is especially hard. My sister and I have never been close, but in recent years the space between us has grown, not shrunk. She dropped out of college, moved in with our parents, works part time at the mall, drinks and smokes, and constantly complains about things being hard for her. I work hard to support myself and be grateful for what I have.

This holiday season, I’m finding myself thinking about how good kids receive toys and bad kids are supposed to receive coal. I’m fed up with my sister and her bad behavior, but I don’t want to start a feud at Christmas by not getting her a gift, or by getting her a noticeable small and petty one. How can I make this holiday a good one for everyone, including myself?

Sincerely,

Fed Up Sis

 

Belle

Dear Fed Up Sis,

Sister relationships and family relationships are rough. Whoever came up with the idea that family means unconditional love was full of bull, but that idea can’t just be done away with without some consequences.

As someone who could have been a much better older sister than she was, I’m working hard to mend the relationship I have with my sister. It’s hard and awkward and, unfortunately, requires work from both ends. The two biggest things I want to share with you are: one, be the bigger person, and, two, communicate.

Before Christmas (not just the day before), pull your sis aside and talk to her about how you’re feeling. Awkward, I know. But do it. And don’t get angry! Try try try to phrase it as “this is what I see and this is why it upsets me” instead of “you’re a mess and I’m annoyed, so fix it”. There might be more going on that you’re not aware of. Then, on Christmas, give her as thoughtful as a gift as you can.

Playing the retribution game just sends the two of you into a spiral of hurt feelings and finger pointing. As much as you want to give her a crummy gift to match her crummy attitude, being the bigger person and giving her love will do more good in the long run. And I mean the long run, because it might take a year or two for her to catch on and return the favor. But from someone who is seeing it pay out and is much happier of her relationship with her sister today than four years ago, it’s really worth it.

Elena

Fed Up Sis,

Having three older sisters myself, I find this easier to relate to. I can also relate to the part with you living on your own and feeling successful without your family seeming to notice. As frustrating as these circumstances with your sister may be, you are still family, and family is there for the ups and downs. If I were in your shoes, I would still get my sister a moderately thoughtful gift. Just because you think she may not get one for you, doesn’t mean that you should do the same.

There are so many things you could give her that wouldn’t seem cheap, but useful. If she’s having issues with drugs and alcohol, try getting her something that she can do without those substances: a journal, a book, a yoga mat, an adult coloring book. All these things are ways to occupy the brain without the aid of drugs, which could help her out in that instance, and in turn, change her attitude.

If you’re heading home for the holidays, consider things that could be fun for your entire family to enjoy together. This may even require you to think back on traditions you had as a kid and build from there. Even watching a Christmas movie together or baking cookies could be a good way to build your relationship back with your sister.

To avoid a feud, still get your sister something, however little it may be, even if it’s a coal ornament for the tree (this will really depend on your sister’s sense of humor….). I fear that if you get her nothing, you’ll be regretting it more than bitter about the few dollars you’ll lose for actually getting something.

 

 

Best of luck,

Belle and Elena

December 18, 2017
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5 DIY Christmas Gifts for the Office

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DIY Christmas

 

If you’re anything like me, you need a lot of gifts for various people with little money. I like to spend a decent amount on friends and family, so my colleagues get something a little smaller; more affordable. For this, I’ll need something relatively the same and a lot of it. For gifts like these, I look to Pinterest. Here are just a few of the DIY crafts I’ve used that are cheap, easy to make and gender neutral!

 

Mason Jars

Mason jars will always win people over because of their popularity and many uses. A couple of years ago, I found a pack of 4 with handles at Ross for about a dollar a piece! I filled the bottom with Hershey kisses and placed cotton balls on top, and dusted the top with sparkles. Then I placed a tea candle on top and tied different colored ribbon around the tops and wrote names on small tags. This way, people could have a sweetie and also reuse the jar afterward!

 

Soap

Because who doesn’t like soap? Especially at this time of the year when there are so many holiday scents! I saw a tag on a holiday scent of soap saying “Just ‘soap’in’ you have a Merry Christmas”,  and “We wash you a Merry Christmas“, which was clever. You can also pair it with a bag of goodies to eat or a bar of soap.

 

 

 

Plates or Mugs

If you go to the dollar store, you can stock up on white plates or mugs. If you do this, you can write a personal message in sharpie and stick it in the oven at 150 degrees for 30 minutes to make it permanent! Then you can fill the plate with baked goods or makings for hot chocolate.

 

Goody Jar

This can also be made with a Mason jar, however you can use any jar. Fill the clear jar with M&M’s, Skittles or Reese’s Pieces and label the jar “Chill Pills” with instructions on how/when to take a pill. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, glue three black buttons vertically on one side of the jar. Tie a red ribbon around the rim and fill the jar with white chocolate covered pretzels for a snowman jar!

 

Hot Chocolate Ornament

This year for my office, I bought candy canes, hot chocolate mix, mini marshmallows and clear ornaments. I poured the bag of mix into the ornament first, then added the marshmallows before putting on the top. I slid the candy cane through the loop at the top and then wrote my coworkers name on the ornament. This is easier said then done: I spilled hot cocoa mix all over my sister’s coffee table and dropped so many marshmallows on the floor, I was pushing the dog away with one foot and the cat with the other. This took me longer than expected and mine definitely don’t look this pretty, but hey, I tried.

 

There are so many ideas on Pinterest, I would highly recommend looking up ideas there if you’re in need of an abundance of gifts this holiday season! Just give yourself plenty of time, you will make mistakes and it WILL NOT look like the picture on the post. That’s okay, as long as you try and get the general idea, your coworkers or friends will be appreciative!

 

 

December 13, 2017
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A Millennial Job Interview

 millennial

A Millennial Job Interview

Recently, I noticed this video from Vimeo going around Facebook. One of my friends who is probably around the age of my parents posted it.

I was intrigued, so I watched.

 

 

Our Reaction

Do you feel entitled to get a job right out of college (if you went)? Are you on your phone during an interview? Do you have common knowledge of Microsoft Office? I feel as though the reason why older generations think this way is because we are starting to demand more change in the professional world. I can’t tell you how many times a week someone in my office asks me how to do something on their computer or phone, whether it’s backing up a device, creating a PowerPoint, creating a signature on email, digitally signing paperwork, or converting attachments. These are all things I know how to do proficiently because we learned it in school or we taught ourselves because everyone else was doing it.

I realize this video is supposed to be making a point, but it’s too exaggerated. It makes me wonder if this is really how other people look at Millennials. I know there’s a lot of slander about Millennials feeling “entitled” to things like a career, working 9-5, getting promotions etc. In all honestly, I don’t believe that to be true. The main reason why I wanted a career was because that’s what everyone said I could get if I went to college. They said my chances were higher in getting a good, stable job if I graduated with a four-year degree. So that’s what I did, and I started at the bottom. Which was okay, because I needed to gain experience. But I had a job and I was grateful.

I honestly don’t want to know if this is even a close representation of what Millennials are perceived as. It’s not like we go into an interview thinking we are high and mighty and already have the job. I approach an interviewer with respect, knowing that they are a veteran in this professional setting and I’m not. They know more than me with the business, but I may know more than them about various aspects, like technology. But not like the technology in this video. Yes, I do know about social media, but I am experienced in Microsoft Office, Google Drive, Apple products. Those are all things that will be taking over each industry at some point. We should be seeing each other with respect,  knowing that if we combine our knowledge, that is what will make us succeed.

So please raise your hand if you or someone you know would do any of the things the girl did in the video, in or out of an interview. My hand is down. So far down I’ve slid out of my chair and onto the floor to make it very clear that none of this happens in real life.

Related Reading:

7 Ways Millennials are Changing 

11 Tips for Managing Millennials 

Share your thoughts

I’d like to know your thoughts on this video.

Please share in the comments below.

 

December 8, 2017
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5 Phone Apps Everyone Should Have

Posted in Lifestyle by
A woman holds her smart phone. The title "5 Phone Apps Everyone Should Have" is overlaid.

phone apps

Your phone screen is likely filled with messenger apps, social media apps, gaming, banking apps, and so on. But do you have these five essential apps on your phone? I know I do!

1. The GIF Keyboard

You’ve got your messenger and your other messenger, but do you have anything to make those messenger conversations any fun?

Belle and Elena have a conversation using just GIFs.

Other than my actual texting app, the most used app on my phone is the GIF keyboard by Tenor (Apple, Android). Entire conversations can be had with little clips of favorite shows, movies, interviews, and on. More elaborate and accurate than emojis, I can’t go a day without using it.

Be warned: while it can be hilarious and entertaining, it can also be used as a great source of annoyance. Let the spamming commence.

In a group message spammed with GIFs, a member complains about having to skip past all the spam messages to the last message that was sent.

2. A News App

It’s important to stay in the know, and not just on who recently updated their relationship status on Facebook. Especially in this day and age. Spend the $2.99 a month or whatever small amount it is to subscribe to a newspaper or other journalist source.

 

The one on my phone is TheSkimm. I’ll admit that I’m a combination of busy and just too lazy to read the news for longer than five minutes, so I instantly fell in love with the concept of all the headlines and updates in a quick-read version. If I want more info than they provide, I can look it up. If I don’t, I can continue on with my day. Either way, I at least know more than I used to. Gone are the days of people saying “Did you hear about that earthquake in Mexico?” and me saying “What!? No!”. Now, my response is: “Yes, and as of this morning the report was that ten people have died.” Bam, knowledge.

A screenshot of theSkimm app, showing a portion of an article wherein information from both the supporting position and critical position are presented.

Not only is it quick and to the point, it’s also got enough sass and sparkle to make it interesting. I never miss the chance to read it on my morning bus ride into work. Check it out.

3. Duolingo

Learn a language for free!? Whaaaa? Seriously, this app is fantastic. Are you going to become so fluent that you could become a professional translator? Probs not. Will you be able to hold a more-than-basic conversation in that language? Probs yes.

Duolingo can teach you Spanish, German, French, Chinese, Danish, Russian, and more. It even has courses in Esperanto, Hebrew, Irish, Welsh, and Swahili. Practice as little or as much as you like. You can even sync up with your friends and family to keep you motivated.

A screenshot of the TwoFeelsWrite Learn German Duolingo club. The joining code is AMW6MT

I especially love the format. I’ve previously tried Rosetta Stone and was constantly frustrated by not being able to find literal or exact translations. The technique works for some, but it made me want to quit, and therefore not absorb anything. Duolingo has cartoon graphics, matching, audio, speaking, and translating exercises to give you a variety of learning techniques. My favorite part, however, is being able to click on the words if I need to see a definition. That way I’m not guessing over which of the two words means “bike” and which means “red”.

4. A Book App

Please, please, have a book app on your phone. Reading is good for you! And you never know when you’re going to be stuck somewhere and in need of entertainment.

I’m able to dramatically increase my number of books read each month by listening to audio books while brushing my teeth, commuting to work, cooking dinner, or even while at the gym. There are paid services like Audible and Scribd that let you download audiobooks every month to you library. Those, plus apps like Google Books and Kindle can get you ebooks as well. Short on cash? Check with your local library! More than likely, they have an app (Overdrive or Axis 360 are common) where you can check out ebooks and audiobooks for free. Make it work, people.

A screenshot of a grouping of iPhone apps. In the "Learn Folder", the apps Duolingo, Scribd, theSkimm, and Axis360 are pinned.

 

Related Reading: What Should I Read Next?

5. Waze

I really like this map app because it updates in real time. Traffic jam on the interstate? Waze will find you another route. A car is stopped on the side of the road up ahead? It’ll alert you. There’s a cop hiding behind the sign around the corner? It’ll give you the heads up.

A screenshot of Waze. A map of Denver has alert tags about the location of favorite shops, police, and construction.

Drivers and passengers using the app can upload notifications about construction, traffic, and hazards. Other drivers and passengers can then confirm that such a condition exists, or let the app know that, nope, the traffic has cleared out, carry on. Just be careful to not become less aware of your driving and the road just to update someone about the pothole you only just narrowly missed.

 

 

What apps do you recommend?

December 5, 2017
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We Started A Book Club!

Posted in Books, Lifestyle by

book club

 

Being English majors, we were used to having a hefty reading list throughout the semester. Not just reading, but discussing important concepts in a book and talking about it with others.  Now, as graduated adults working full time, we’ve found it hard to continue reading for pleasure. We decided that one way we could stay on track with reading would to have something to motivate us. We figured the best way to go about this would be to create a book club.

Getting Started

In order to create a successful book club, we had to gather enough people. It’s hard enough in our day to day lives to meet up with others, so we did what any other millennial would do: set up an online group through social media. This way people could stay up to date on what we were reading, when we would discuss throughout the month and the poll for the following month’s book choice. Belle set up a Facebook page and we each set to inviting people we thought would want to be involved. Our page is open as well, so if you’re interested please join us!

How it Works

Life is busy, so only do one book a month. One person a month creates a poll of three options, and then the book with the most votes wins (duh)! Midway through the month, we have an online forum to discuss the first half of the book. Anyone can post questions about anything, and everyone can answer in any way.

At the end of the month, it’s fun to go out and mix things up. We picked a coffee spot somewhere in the middle of the majority of our members and talked about the book over coffee. And our lives. And tattoos. And the cute guy in the corner. It’s hard to stay focused some times.

We just started month two, but so far we’re in love with our book club. It’s small and we hope to help it grow, but it’s been amazing to have something to read and discuss again. Even if you’re not an English major like us, or even a book fanatic, we’d still encourage you to be a part of a book club! It’s a great way to stay in touch with people, meet new people, and try new things.

December 5, 2017
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Thanksgiving in Seattle

Posted in Lifestyle, Travel by

thanksgiving

Since I was a kid, my family and I would always spend one holiday in Seattle out of the year. This year, we went for Thanksgiving, which I was ecstatic about! A lot of my family and some of my friends live in Seattle, so I was making plans all week! I’ve been back for a day and already I need another vacation just to catch up on all the sleep I’ve lost! I’ll do my best to not make this a long post, while fitting everything I did while away into it!

 

Housesitting

The first few days in Seattle I spent in Greenlake with my sister. She was watching her friend’s two cats while she was on vacation for the weekend. Greenlake is just north of the greater Seattle area, in a wealthier neighborhood. Her friend’s apartment was quaint with windows cornering her living room. It was rainy the  entire time, but at least there was plenty of natural light making it’s way in.

Seattle vacation

I was exhausted that first night since I had been up and traveling since 5 a.m. So Amelia and I decided to go down to PCC Community Markets for dinner ingredients and wine. PCC is a local grocery that sells local and organic foods in the Seattle area, getting the majority of its food from the Puget Sound region. So even though the food was a little pricey, it supported local communities and was overall better quality food (in my opinion). We spent about $43 each for salmon, potatoes, asparagus, avocado, red onion, spices and three bottles of wine.

Needless to say, we had a great Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa dinner while we watched Bad Moms and made our way through all three bottles of wine… I’ll spare you the details on what happened after those three bottles and the next morning.

 

Thanksgiving

After the weekend, I spent the next few days catching up with relatives, attending lunches and dinners. We hadthanksgiving food thanksgiving photo booth propsThanksgiving dinner at my grandparents house where my immediate family and I were staying. My extended family was coming in from across the state and we had to plan a meal and seating for all 20 of us. My aunt brought photo booth props for us to play around with while we waiting for dinner. So we went around with our drinks and posed for the camera when the mobile photo booth came around.

People brought their own drinks and side dishes and my grandma set to work on the rest! We enjoyed a (massive) Turkey, stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, salad, cranberry sauce and any other classics you can think of. My aunt made three pies for dessert; pumpkin, pumpkin chocolate, and chocolate pecan, which I somehow managed to eat after a full meal (thank god for leggings).

By 8:00 p.m. the house was quiet and cleaned and my parents, grandparents, sisters and I sat on the couch in silence with full bellies and hangovers setting in. Needless to say, the holiday had been a great success.

 

 

Downtown Seattle

Seattle birthday party art marble 21My birthday was the 29th of November and my cousin’s birthday is November 9th. Since I was out visiting, we decided to go out one night in South Lake Union which is just north of the greater Seattle area. Amelia booked us a hotel room so we could get into some serious shenanigans without worrying about a sober drive back. We broke out the tequila and mix when we got up to the room and spent a couple of hours just talking and catching up.

Once we realized the time and how hungry we were, we set off to a bar called Art Marble 21. There was a large dining area with a bar and on the other side there was a game area. They had free-play games like air hockey, darts, shuffle board, ping pong, and pool. We ordered a huge plate of nachos with pork, tacos, chips and salsa and a round of tequila sunrises. We didn’t go crazy but the night was a lot of fun regardless!

Apple Cup

My dad went to U-Dub, and as a result he is a huge fan of the Washington Huskies. He had tickets to the Apple Cup, which is the rivalry game between the University of Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars. We left early to do some tailgating with my dad’s friends from college and then met up with my uncle by the front gate of the Huskies’ Stadium to make our way to our seats together.

Husky Stadium University of Washington

It was a huge advantage for the Huskies to host this game, because they were already so used to the rain and it was raining. A lot. The people below us who weren’t covered by the stadium were drenched before the second quarter even started! It wasn’t a very close game (the Cougars didn’t score until the second half) and it rained the entire time, but it was still a good game!

 

Conclusion

I packed a lot into one week in Seattle, and I didn’t even include my trips to Kirkland, Munroe, and Renton! If you’ve never been to Seattle, I would highly recommend going. There is so much to do there, although it does rain a bit… Look into it, especially in the summertime. I will make more future posts about my adventures to Seattle in the future!

December 1, 2017
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