Home Organization Tips

I got this article from the realtor.com email newsletter.  It’s full of handy tips for getting and staying organized. 

Another organization rule I’ve always lived by: the Ohio method.  Only Handle It Once


Get Running Now

I found this amazing article on running for weight loss–must read!



My Graduation Day


One might think that a Master’s graduation would be the best day of someone’s life (unless they’re married or have a baby or something like that).  It’s certainly the loftiest accomplishment of mine thus far, especially from such a fine Ivy League institution in the Greatest City in the World (yes, I’m talking about Columbia University).  And the day truly was magical.  Not only did I wake up on time, get ready without a hitch, and have a stress-free commute, but the actual university commencement was incredible.  I sat by friends and we cheered and screamed and stood on chairs.  The School of Social Work even gave us those inflatable noise makers that you bang together, just so we could be as loud as possible.  The speakers were actually motivating and cracked plenty of jokes (you know how some of those speeches can drag).  Pictures were taken by overjoyed families, and you could just feel the positive energy in the air.  It was truly the stuff that dreams are made of.

The School of Social Work ceremony would have been pretty great too.  I was excited to get called up to receive my diploma, and it was at the famous Beacon Theater.  It would have been great, except 2 days prior I started having stomach pains.  On the first day, I felt bloated, dizzy, and miserable so I took some gas medicine and laid around all day feeling crappy.  By day 2, I was determined not to be ill, so I forced myself to get moving and run some errands and whatnot; I wasn’t great, but OK.  Day 3, Graduation Day, I guess I was too pumped to feel pain in the morning, but by the time the CUSSW ceremony rolled around I was tired, my feet were throbbing in my adorable shoes (worth it), I was getting a migrane for no reason, and my stomach was doing summersaults.  Of couse I was seated next to someone I don’t know, so for her sake I tried hard not to complain about feeling like absolute shit (but some complaints snuck out from time to time).  I shifted uncomfortably in my seat throughout the whole ceremony, finding no relief and praying for it to be over.  When it was my turn to get my diploma, I plastered on the biggest smile I could muster and glided across that beautiful stage.  My family and friends cheered when my name was called, and I think my pictures came out beautifully.  I made it.  When that was over, I waded through the mob of smiling families and grads, holding back the urge to shout “let me through or I’m going to throw up on you!”  The room wouldn’t stop spinning.

When I finally found mom, dad, and grandma outside, they excitedly recapped our plans to go back to campus to take photos, and asked where I wanted to go for dinner.  I couldn’t even think about food and told them I needed to sit down; in fact, the aroma of the spicy cart food that a nearby woman was eating nearly made me vomit.  Dad ran into a nearby bodega to get me water and crackers.  Rosemary crackers.  I usually like rosemary, but the herby-ness of them did not sit well with me at the moment.  We decided to go home and we’d have dinner after I rested a while.  But going home wasn’t that simple; it was now 5:10pm on 75th street in Manhattan.  By the way, I get very motion sick.  But I was in no shape to drive, so I laid down in the back of my moms car.

We made it all the way to the West Side Highway before I puked into the bag from the crackers.  It was violent and painful.  I think some even came out of my nose.  Mom kept very few napkins in her car.  Then, the only thing that could have made that worse, did happen–we hit a bump and I spilled the bag of bile… onto my graduation gown.  Fighting the urge to cry, I sat as close to the door as possible through the whole rest of the rush-hour drive home, trying to keep the pool of vomit away from the rest of my stuff.

After the eternity it took to get to my apartment, my mother tucked me into bed like a child and cleaned her back seat while grandma scrubbed down my regalia.  I didn’t want them to leave because I felt so awful, but I was sleeping by 6:30pm.  I didn’t wake up until 8am the next day.  I’d like to take this opportunity to curse whomever gave me a stomach virus for the most exciting day of my entire life.  This is a prime example of one of those things you could laugh about in the future, but at the time it was beyond awful.

And still, I endured it all; I graduated.  I am a Master!

Ways to Make Extra Cash


Now that school is winding down and I’m about to have an expensive Master’s degree with no job in sight, I decided to be proactive instead of worrying myself to death.  After scouring the internet, I found some extra ways to make money.  I can’t say they’re all appealing, but if your situation is desperate enough, give ’em a shot.

Here are some of the top *realistic* (for most people) ideas I found:

  1. Dog walking/pet sitting
  2. Babysitting
  3. House cleaning or handiwork
  4. Participating in medical/research studies (I already do at Rutgers)
  5. Donating body parts (blood plasma, eggs or sperm, hair, etc.)
  6. Selling my stuff–(get ready for a garage sale guys!  …or eBay, Craigslist, Poshmark, etc.)
  7. Freelance work (oh, wait, my skill set doesn’t really work like that)
  8. Work special events (sounds interesting: read what they said here)
  9. Renting out a room (I already do that, too)
  10. Blog or make websites (sooo… where’s my money from this?)

Some things I found were pretty shocking and some made me laugh.  One of the pages I found was Xfinity Finance, which had a 24-item list, some were ridiculous, while others are worth considering.  DailyFinance.com says “Go Scavenging: 100,000 homeless can’t be wrong!”  Ha!  That’s terrible, but I don’t know if it’s worse than them suggesting you “Head to a Casino” for extra cash.  Money.HowStuffWorks.com had some oddly-career-specific suggestions, like Teleradiology or teaching a college class–really?  Let me just start that tomorrow for some extra pocket cash.  Several sources also suggesting wrapping your car with ads–do people really want to do something like that?

This search has been both intriguing and depressing, but I think I’ll get back to sending out résumés now.

Photo credit: http://coloradopeakpolitics.com/2013/08/02/follow-the-money-initiative-22-funders-in-the-spotlight/money-ii/

Great Resources for Quitting Smoking

Happy 2014 everyone!  Like so many of us, I have some pretty cliché New Years Resolutions this year–but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to make them happen.  At the top of my list (and most other people’s) is quitting smoking.


One thing I’ve found comforting and helpful during this process is that I’ve quit before.  There’s some very high average of times that it takes a person to quit for good because many people don’t stay quit after the first try.  A little over a year ago I quit cold turkey and stayed quit for 9 months–I know that I have my own dumb reasons (*cough*excuses) for starting up again, but the first time was so much scarier because everyone always talks about how hard it is to quit; that terrified me.  This time, I’m armed with the knowledge that I’ll have a few days of mild to moderate discomfort and then be back on my merry way.  It’s not actually that bad.  And I’m not some casual or light smoker saying this, I smoked for 11 years, some times up to 2 packs/day.  So if I can do it, so can you (or your mom or boyfriend or cousin, or whomever you’re supporting in this–anyone can do it!)

Other helpful tidbits:

  • Clean your house, car, etc. Get the lighters and ashtrays and smell out of there so you don’t think about it (as much)
  • Avoid people, places, and things that trigger you, or make you want to smoke the most.  Don’t go to the bar the first week or 2 of quitting (if that’s a major issue, maybe cigarettes aren’t your only addiction, seek help), don’t hang around your smoker friends for a little while (just stay home and read or get something accomplished), do things that you couldn’t smoke while doing anyway (like going to a movie theater)
  • Exercise will make you not want to smoke and you’ll feel even better about yourself
  • Food is a tricky reward for some people (like me); not only will I want to eat everything all the time, but then I’ll feel guilty and sad about gaining weight and slacking on my overall goal of getting healthy, and plus I’ll be so full that I’ll want to smoke more after ’cause I’m stuffed.  Food might work as a reward for you if you can keep it in moderation, but if not just stick to chewing gum or pen caps or straws.
  • Vacation – the first time I quit, I was on a trip to my aunt’s house where my boyfriend and I were the only smokers.  It seemed wrong to intrude on her nice, healthy lifestyle with our routine smoke breaks, and she lived in such a lovely area it even felt wrong to throw our butts out.  Not only did we not fit in there, but it was easier to stop while being out of our daily grind.  The triggers and cues weren’t there, so it wasn’t that bad.  Obviously not everyone can get away for a few days, or find an affordable place to stay that’s so lovely and peaceful that smoking feels wrong, but if you can it works.
  • Water … just drink it, a lot of it
  • It gets easier and easier with time!

It’s been 4 days for me now, and I can’t say it’s easy, but I’ve had some help.  Supportive friends and family members can go a long way.  Additionally, I’ve searched the web looking for help.  Here are some great resources I’ve found online in my battle with cigarettes:

“Quit Smoking” Timeline — Maybe you’ve seen this or something like it in a different form, but I find it fascinating.  It’s a timeline of the health improvements that occur when you quit smoking.

Become An Ex — I really liked this website; it’s all about planning to quit and what to expect.  It also helps you target a quit date, identify triggers, and other great tools.  Well done.

SmokeFreeTXT — this text messaging service from smokefree.gov (which is also helpful) was a pretty interesting idea to me, so I signed up.  They check in about how I’m doing and text me various times throughout the day with little inspirational messages, such as “Think about what you are gainign and why you want to leave cigarettes behind.  Stay focued – it will get easier.”  It might not be helpful to everyone, but I really like their little messages.  They send out a few throughout the day randomly (not annoyingly) and it makes me feel a little comforted.

I hope this was in someway helpful to your struggle with quitting smoking.  It’s a difficult time but it’s well worth the payout.  If you have any tips or resources, or a success story, feel free to share them below!

photo credit: http://www.quittingsmokingabc.com/about/

This Year I’m Thankful for Technology and Honesty


Today is recycle day in my town and as I was going to my car to go to school I threw something in the bin at the curb.  I was just in time because the recycle truck came before I even turned on my ignition.  So once in my car, I checked my purse (as I always do because I usually forget something) and my phone wasn’t there.  I went back into my house, but the phone was nowhere to be found.  I looked in my car again, it wasn’t under my seat or anywhere.  Since it was on vibrate, I went on Find My iPhone to make the phone play a sound so I could find it.  Playing the sound in my house and car, still no iPhone.  Then, when I refreshed the Find My iPhone page, the phone moved!  Then it did again!  Baffled, I had thought it was definitely in my pocket when I left, and then I remembered the recycle guy picking something up–it clicked.  I tracked the recycle truck on my laptop, followed it several blocks, and parked my car blocking the truck’s path.  The 3rd worker I asked had it, and I was so happy I hugged the guy.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I am, so I have to thank Apple for their technology that allowed me to hunt down a garbage truck. Technology certainly is amazing and enables all sorts of things that people may have never dreamed of (including saving me $300 or more for buying a new phone right before the holidays) and the world is an incredible place because of it.  

But more importantly I have to thank the recycling man–he could have easily said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about lady, sorry” and made off with a new phone or sold it for a few hundred bucks.  He didn’t though, he gave it back to me.  He was honest.  I don’t and will never know what his life is like, if he’s a “good person” or not, but his small act of returning the phone radically impacted the course of my day (and probably the course of some people’s Christmas presents).  I know it’s just a stupid phone and we depend on them way too much, but I would have gotten a new one today, I don’t know many people who’d go without one.  Most of us don’t stop to think of the impacts of our actions on others, but not getting my phone back would have had a pretty big butterfly effect in my life.  With all the greed, negativity, and hatred in the world, it’s comforting to know that people are still kind.  I am thankful for that.

Strengths Quiz

I recently started reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor and I came across a section where he talks about “signature strengths” — or things that you’re uniquely good at.  There was a link in the book to http://www.viame.org/ where you can take a free quiz to find out your own strengths.  You do have to sign up and create a user name, and you will be asked if you want to pay for an upgraded service, but there is a completely free version and it me took about 10 min. in all. I think it’s fun to take these kinds of things and learn about myself.

Here were my results:

Character Strength # 1: Love

You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.

Character Strength # 2: Curiosity

You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Character Strength # 3: Love of learning

You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Character Strength # 4: Hope

You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.

Character Strength # 5: Kindness

You are kind and generous to others, and you are never too busy to do a favor. You enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if you do not know them well.

Character Strength #6: Judgment

Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

Character Strength #7: Perspective

Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.

Character Strength #8: Gratitude

You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.

Character Strength #9: Honesty

You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a “real” person.

Character Strength #10: Perseverance

You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you “get it out the door” in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.

Character Strength #11: Social intelligence

You are aware of the motives and feelings of other people. You know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and you know what to do to put others at ease.

Character Strength #12: Zest

Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.

Character Strength #13: Creativity

Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

Character Strength #14: Fairness

Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.

Character Strength #15: Forgiveness

You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.

Character Strength #16: Spirituality

You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.

Character Strength #17: Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence

You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

Character Strength #18: Teamwork

You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.

Character Strength #19: Humor

You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.

Character Strength #20: Leadership

You excel at the tasks of leadership: encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included. You do a good job organizing activities and seeing that they happen.

Character Strength #21: Prudence

You are a careful person, and your choices are consistently prudent ones. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.

Character Strength #22: Self-Regulation

You self-consciously regulate what you feel and what you do. You are a disciplined person. You are in control of your appetites and your emotions, not vice versa.

Character Strength #23: Bravery

You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.

Character Strength #24: Humility

You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You do not regard yourself as special, and others recognize and value your modesty.