Muse luring and raw word counts: Why I refuse to meditate

Guestpost by Lydia Bengtson on Jul 23rd

NOPE NOPE NOPE (Photo by: Nickolai KashirinCC BY 2.0)

I am thoughtful, open-minded person who believes in the values of calm and stillness, who understands the neuroscientific studies on the way meditation massages our grey-matter, and who really wanted to be a Jedi when I grew up.

And I refuse to meditate.

The core of most meditation, part of its intrinsic value, is to calm the mind down and then step outside your emotions by fixating on your sensations. The quiet mind is free to simply experience existence without the running commentary of consciousness. (The "dish of mold" as described in I ♥ Huckabees.) There's easily dozens — if not hundreds — of techniques for reaching this state, all of which ask for patience as the practitioner learns how to operate their brain in a new way.

Much of meditation asks the practitioners to bear witness to their emotions as feelings manifest through their bodies. By understanding what anger, fear, sorrow, and joy feel like, and knowing where their edges are, the practitioner can gain a new level of emotional control. It's a way of training the self to understand that a fleeting state of grief is finite and will move on, that the hot pulse of anger is that pressure in your jaw — right there, no, up a little bit and back, there — but it's not the world-blurring threat it seems to be. These lessons are valuable and in some cases, life-altering.

All of meditation seeks to wipe out those chaotic little thoughts: I need to start a meal plan for next week. Maybe hummus. Oh wait, the kiddo won't eat that yet. When did I start eating hummus? Man, that kid in third grade was so weird. Did he always have ringworm? I think he did…

Meditation, like many things that resonate so beautifully with virtues Obi-Wan or Yoda would extol, can be a powerful tool. And it's a tool that does not belong in my hands.

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Italian chicken slow cooker tastiness in under fifteen minutes

Guestpost by Laura on Jul 23rd

Italian chicken in the  slow cooker ingredients-2

I happened to check the time before I started making this Italian chicken slow cooker recipe and — starting with a clean kitchen all the way through putting the cutting board into the dishwasher and the slow cooker into the fridge for the night — it took me thirteen minutes to make this. If I skipped the onion chopping and rosemary I could probably get it under ten. Then just a few minutes the next day for the rolls and we had a delicious dinner.

Perfect for those days when you have too many things to do and not enough time — or for when you don't have time to waste in the kitchen because you need to catch up on Game of Thrones.

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How I learned to care less about my family and more about myself

Guestpost by Amy Stewart on Jul 22nd

Sometimes caring about yourself means taking time for banana smoothies. (Photo is not the author. By: essieCC BY 2.0)

My morning routine is very much the same every morning, which becomes aggravating at times because I'm the only person awake to do it. I'm typically up at 5 AM, when I proceed to feed all of the animals, take the dogs out for a walk, shower, pack my daughter's lunch, wake her up, make her breakfast, and maybe finish a couple of smaller tasks that didn't get completed the night before, like putting away folded laundry or cleaning the smelly litter boxes. I do this every morning, weekends included.

If you noticed, nothing in that routine was about me with the exception of un-stinking myself — but that's really for the pleasure of other people, as I consider showers to be a real waste of time on most days. My morning routine revolves entirely around my family. Most days I don't bother eating breakfast, or making lunch for myself to take to work, because I am too focused on taking care of everyone else.

While putting everyone before me can be considered a commendable trait, there is a part of me that realizes that there is a real issue with never allowing myself the opportunity to be important.

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Get messy and other advice when first learning about make-up

By on Jul 21st
Get messy and other advice when first learning about make-up

Caroline's make-up can be described as "variations on the colours purple and black"

I am a near-25-year-old that never used make-up routinely. I am starting to get curious about it at a late point, and am inspired when I see others wearing make-up to enhance their look.

The problem is, I don't know where to even start looking at brands or what goes well with various skin types and such. I don't even really know the difference between foundation and concealer. I've used eyeshadow, mascara, and lipgloss but that is really limited to stuff my mom gave me back when I was in junior high and high school! I have no idea how to buy and look for make-up for myself as an adult!

Does anybody have a good cosmetic guide or beginners advice? -Sara

I didn't start wearing make-up seriously/frequently until a couple years ago, so I feel you. Like any other hobby, it can seem daunting to get into. Things clicked with me when I looked at make-up like art: it takes practice, the right tools and materials, and an understanding of the medium.

Here's my advice…

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Should I just shut up and let him pay?

Guestpost by March Adams on Jul 18th

Recently I started seeing a guy that I had merely been sleeping with in a friends-with-benefits kind of way. The situation worked delightfully well for about half a year, but then we decided to take it a step further and start dating.

Now, maybe it's because, save for a handful of first and second dates, I've been single for five years and used to making my own way. Maybe it's because I'm inching towards my mid-thirties and my perspective has changed. Maybe it's because he and I work in the same field and, therefore, the same income bracket and I have a rough idea of how much he makes. Or maybe it's just my strong sense of independence and feminist ideals.

Whatever it is, I suddenly find myself in a position where after half a decade of buying my own dinners and buying my own drinks, I have a man buying them for me. And having a man buying them for me feels, well, odd.

Not just odd but a little bit uncomfortable as well if I'm being completely honest.

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Keep yourself from going stir-crazy when you work from home

Guestpost by Lindsey Heimbach on Jul 17th

Working from home is practically the new American dream. Everyone I know wants to do it, and everyone I know says they envy my ability to set my own hours, pick my own clients, and work in my pajamas (or naked!) any time I feel like it.

What's less obvious is that working from home can be a huge stressor sometimes. You know how bored you get when you haven't left the house in a few days? Imagine not really having to leave the house for work, ever. The only time you leave is when you have a grocery trip or a laundromat run.

Pretty soon you start sleeping late every day, and then you're working through the afternoon and into the night. Once your work is done, there's no reason to leave the house because your friends are sleeping and the laundromat is closed.

Still sounds like the American dream?

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself from losing your mind as a stir-crazy freelancer. Here's just a few of the ways I keep myself sane on a daily basis…

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