10 (More) Things That Make My Life (a lil) Better
Nothing on this list is sponsored so you know my recommendations are 100% genuine.
I got so much positive feedback earlier this year on my 10 Things that Make My Life (a lil) Better list, I decided to revive the concept for some year-end fun. As always, nothing on this list is sponsored so you know my recommendations are 100% genuine.
Thanks so much to everyone who filled out the newsletter survey! Wet got a TON of responses, which is meaningful to me because it shows how much you all care about The Double Shift. I’ll be mulling your feedback into the new year. The winner of our $50 gift certificate to bookshop.org is Kristine Kay Dennis!
If you appreciate this newsletter and want to support this work, become a member of The Double Shift. You get members-only threads, an audio newsletter and virtual and IRL hangouts. It starts at $7/mo.
KimKim – For our 10th wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided to go on our first trip without all three kids together for 5 days in Iceland. It was truly glorious. Given the epic logistics of leaving three small kids at home for nearly a week, I’m glad I outsourced the travel planning to KimKim, an online travel agency that bills themselves as “personalized trips for independent travelers.” They worked with our time constraints and budget, booked all the hotels and different expeditions, gave us google map driving instructions for getting around, and everything went ridiculously smoothly. I would have spent hours I didn’t have scrolling through endless Trip Advisor reviews and probably would have gotten a trip only half as good. I’m DEFINITELY using them for future international/multi-stop travel. There’s no upfront fee to use it, and they add about 3% to the total cost of the trip when you book.
Volunteering– I decided I wanted some relationship-based volunteering in my life, something more tangible than “making culture change” that I do in my work. So I signed up to be a “BridgeBuilder” with Refugee Community Partnership. I meet weekly with an Afghani family, we have a lot of dinners together and I support them with things like making DMV appointments and navigating the school system, which are shockingly difficult things to do when you don’t speak English or Spanish. I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know their six kids, and making time for this has enriched my life and sense of community.
Descript– I am old enough to remember when all interviews had to be transcribed by a human being, and I marvel at the amazing technology that makes creating this newsletter and the audio newsletter SO simple. If you need transcribing, recording, and audio tools, I can’t recommend this platform enough.
Buy Nothing Facebook Group – We all know that Facebook groups that can turn into name calling cesspools, so I particularly love my local Bull City Shares, that is an ask/giveaway group that has a generous spirit where you aren’t allowed to sell anything. There’s plenty of mutual aid going on there, and it’s an efficient way to re-home stuff I no longer need that might benefit someone else.
Childcare at the gym – Make weekends great again! I feel like I mention how much I love my local JCC every other newsletter, and I PARTICULARLY love their hour and a half of free daily childcare. It is the perfect way to break up loooong weekends with toddlers, who love going to play with the choo-choos while I hit the treadmill.
My Virtual Assistant – Throughout my career I’ve had interns and research assistants help me with some tasks, but never until this year have I had a professional assistant whose job it is to keep shit organized and get things done, like loading the written and audio newsletter, following up on invoices, making PowerPoints, updating my website etc etc. Life changing. My VA works for me about five hours a week but it feels like it takes 15+ hours of work + mental load off my plate. I 💖U Haley. I found Haley through a friend, but some companies that find and vet VAs are Allobee, Belay, or check out VA matchmaker, Melissa Smith.
The book that calms my toddlers down – I have twin toddlers, and one or both of them is melting down about 84% percent of the time. Miles has REALLY taken to this book “You Have Feelings All the Time” as his go-to request when he needs to calm himself down. He calls it “The Happy Book.” I am happy because reading it to him makes him stop screaming.
The All-Family Business Meeting – In my last edition, I listed that my husband and I have a weekly business meeting to go over logistics, plans, and finances and it's crucial to keeping our family running. We recently added a second family biz meeting WITH our 7 year-old, where we can discuss things that are or aren’t working, discuss changing rules, and propose new ideas. We end each meeting with “funny stories.” It has helped him have a sense of agency in how the family works and it’s helped deflect his tendency towards constant litigation. “Let’s discuss it at the business meeting” is my new constant refrain.
Mixtiles – I FINALLY got around to getting a bunch of our family photos by the amazing Katrina Williams printed for display in our house. I ordered like 20 Mixtiles all in the same black frame when they were having a sale and they look so good, every time I see this gallery wall walking up our stairs it truly brings me joy.
An actually great thrift store – One of the perks of leaving New York City is that I now have regular access to delightful, reasonably priced thrift stores. My favorite is Pennies for Change, which supports domestic violence survivors and has TRULY awesome finds. I’ve purchased about eight sweaters from them that bring me regular compliments, a Kate Spade backpack, a fancy black dress, and two dress shirts. If I ever need a good shopping dopamine boost, $10 and a trip to Pennies gives me just that.
For this week’s member thread, I want to know: what’s one book, podcast, TV show or movie you consumed this year that you recommend? I shared my list a few weeks ago, so now I look forward to reading your suggestions. As always, membership starts at $7/mo and you get other great perks like audio newsletters.
Holiday Hangout: Solidarity + Survival + Celebration Reminder
Tuesday December 13th at 2pm EST
For our December members-only hangout, let’s let loose with other Double Shifters in a casual year-end zoom. This will be a “potluck” of sharing some of our favorite holiday traditions, discussing survival strategies, and building solidarity over end-of-year mental overload. The holidays can be a tough time for many people, so if that's you, you are warmly welcome, too. And if you need permission to NOT stay up ti 2am individually wrap 60 homemade gingerbread cookies, you’ll be coming to the right place. Members will get a reminder email and a google calendar invite.
Want in on the fun? Become a member. It starts at $7/mo. You get an audio version of this newsletter, too.