Weekend Reads #103

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At my old job, I worked for nine years in the same department. I worked my way up to a point where I had a staff of individuals I trained to be able to do whatever I delegated to them.  We trusted one another, we knew our jobs, we cared about our performance and our clients, we were nimble and creative and TBH, we kicked ass.  I could practically do my job with my eyes closed, I loved my team, I had a pretty office with a wall of windows, I made good money, I had an awesome boss.  And then I was offered my dream job at the company.  It wasn't more money, it would be more hours and I'd lose the pretty office and switch to a combo of telecommuting and a brown cubicle in an office with a longer commute.  I took it because I knew it was time to pivot.  Time to learn something new, have things be hard, give myself challenges, and achieve them.  And damn that job was hard.  It pushed me outside my comfort zone, I made mistakes, I had failures.  If I didn't have this blog, a more personal challenge in my life, I would still be at that job finding ways to improve, to push myself, to again kick some ass.  I like challenges.  They may give me migraines and shower cry sessions and cause me to whine to my husband, my friends, and my mom but I know they make me a better and stronger and smarter person.

This is my 15th year blogging and I love this job.  I love blogging so much, I left that challenging position at a company I had been at for a decade to focus on it. It has never been a job I could do with my eyes closed, it is constantly changing and constantly challenging.  And the past few weeks have been more challenging than when I was on pregnancy bedrest, on disability for a shattered radius on my dominant arm, during the recession, or even during that year of my incredibly hard job at the same time that my blog was really kicking into high gear with traffic and visibility.  Our world is changing daily, I dread looking at Twitter each morning to see what new things transpired.  And our lives will never return to normal.  If the world is constantly shifting, so must a job that has me interact and engage with the world. 

When the term influencer arrived on the scene, I at first hated it.  An influencer would shill anything, they were just a spokesmodel on Instagram, a product pusher.  They delegitimize my job as a blogger, a writer, a person who wrote for and engaged with an audience.  But over the years, I embraced the term influencer as I was writing advice and hoping people would find it helpful.  I was hoping I'd influence them to buy quality not quantity, influence them to try something new like tucking in their top or wearing a different pant silhouette.  I wanted to influence people to have fun with fashion, to not take it so seriously, to find their personal style without breaking the bank. And the past few weeks I am constantly pivoting with the world, hoping I can influence people to also pivot, to see fashion and shopping and life in general in a different yet still positive light.  Like that job that caused me migraines and shower cry sessions, blogging during a pandemic has been intense and hard, though for very different reasons.  But like that job, I'm up for the challenge and I am learning more about myself as I learn new ways to navigate this new normal.

How to Help

The past several weeks I have shared national organizations that need monetary donations to support those around the globe affected by COVID-19.  But as this pandemic continues, I think many of us are worrying about those right in our communities.  How is your elderly neighbor?  How about the person down the street who recently had surgery, how are they getting groceries?  What about the families who can't afford to buy groceries?  Enter mutual aid groups. Mutual aid groups offer the ability for communities to connect, both virtually and in person, in order to support one another and share resources in this time of crisis.  They have existed prior to COVID-19 but are more valuable than ever since we are all required to shelter in place.  While many communities have NextDoor, listservs, and Facebook groups to connect, mutual aid groups take it a step further to connect those who have specific capabilities to those who require such capabilities.

  • Idealist is a New York-based nonprofit that connects people and organizations to help all lead free and dignified lives.  They have helped hundreds of thousands find jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities.  They have a list of mutual aid groups around the globe.  Use the filter tool on the left to find the mutual aid group in your community where you can offer services or request help.
  • Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is a grassroots disaster relief network based on the principles of solidarity, mutual aid, and autonomous direct action. It is a decentralized national network made up of eco-activists, social justice activists, global justice activists, permaculturalists, community organizers, and others who are actively organizing around supporting disaster survivors in a spirit of mutual aid and solidarity.  My community has created a mutual aid directory through this network; to learn more and set up a directory for your community follow this link.

If you know of any other organizations that are creating mutual aid groups or similar community support groups, do share them in the comments. You don't need to spend money to help others right now; from mowing a neighbor's lawn to just calling them on the phone to have person to person interaction, picking up groceries while you're already out or helping someone less tech-savvy figure out how to use their new webcam for Zoom sessions, these small actions can make a huge impact on your neighbors. As always, if you have ideas on how we can help all of us get through this together, please share them in the comments.

Weekend Reads

Brightest Young Things interviewed me and my family as well as other families around the country to see how we are faring during the pandemic. (BYT) 

As you read this, J. Crew may be filing for bankruptcy. (CNBC)

Speaking of J. Crew, I started thinking about my summer wardrobe and how I always buy cheap sundresses that leave me dissatisfied.  I decided this year to embrace the smaller closet, the items worn more often, only adding what I think is truly worthy.  So instead of six polyester or clingy jersey dresses, I bought this one from J. Crew.  I'll let you know when it arrives if I love it as much as I think I will. 

An analysis of famous people's bookshelves from their videos during the pandemic. (New York Times) 

How the pandemic will change retail forever. (The Atlantic)

Another piece about the future of retail amidst COVID, focusing on our shopping habits. (Vogue UK)

Back in February, I bought the largest size of Tree Napper from Bearaby.  This is an organic weighted blanket, but it's knit, not solid, making it not as hot while still giving the comforting weight while I sleep.  I find the largest size perfect for one person, it goes from my feet to just over my shoulders. I love it with just a sheet when it's warm, a light quilt over it when it's chilly.  The blanket has been sold out for weeks but is back in stock! Bearaby just came out with their Cotton Napper, which is the same concept but even cooler for the summer. I think these blankets are also fantastic for couch lounging, and look really cool too (see mine in this blog post and this Instagram post). 

Four chefs share their secrets for upgrading instant ramen. (Washingtonian)

Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb shared 19 bloggers over the age of 40 who have modeled for brands and yous truly was included! (Not Dressed as Lamb)

Looking for yeast or flour?  We made an order with Bakers Authority this week and they had both in stock.  Granted, we now have enough yeast for years… figure we'll gift some to neighbors who are also out! 

I remember when I heard of bareMinerals. I was sitting on my couch in my apartment, still covered in cardboard and sweat from an exhausting day, pants and bra removed, drinking wine straight from the bottle. I turned on the TV and slipped past QVC and saw Leslie Blodgett and these before and afters of women who had splotchy sullen skin like mine be transformed with the buffing of powders.  I immediately ordered some Mineral Veil and the powder in Light/Medium and used bareMinerals off and on for the years since.  Needless to say, I enjoyed this interview with Leslie Blodgett and to find out what she is up to now. (The Cut)


Many of you recommended I watch Atypical, a series on Netflix about a family who has a son on the autism spectrum.  To all of you who recommended it, thank you.  I don't really binge watch TV, but last Saturday I just didn't have the mind to read, so I started the show.  And now I am on episode… I think 8 or 9 of the second season!  It's really good.  The show is TV14, there is discussion about sex so if you are wondering if it's a good show to watch with your older kids, I recommend checking out the review on Common Sense Media

Okay folks who watch God Friended Me, wanna talk about that really random series finale? I know the show was canceled in March and they had to whip together the finale during the pandemic, using a lot of previous footage with editing, voiceovers, and such to patch it together.  I have to give them credit for putting together something that cohesive with such circumstances, but it still was lacking and the ending was really like… huh? Karl and I were left scratching our heads, I'd love to read your thoughts! 

I know I keep recommending Songland on NBC, but I just enjoy it so much.  When watching the most recent episode with H.E.R. I realized why I like it: I am a creative and I get energy from collaborations with other creatives.  Talks over coffee, working together on projects, sitting around a table with sketch pads, it fuels me like jam sessions for musicians and on shows like Project Runway and Making the Cut when it's a good pairing for a group challenge. And that is what Songland is, a bunch of really talented passionate people who vibe off collaborating with one another and helping those interested in breaking into the field.  Anyway, back to the episode with H.E.R.  It was a fun one, and as a fan of H.E.R. I knew the song that won would be the winner, it sounded so her (har har) even before the magic was made in the studio to perfect it.  So today's video is the song that H.E.R. chose to record from the talented songwriters who auditioned.  “Wrong Places” is a beautiful song, and I love it all stripped down in this stripped-down video.

For Your Entertainment

When looking for a video for this week, I found so many sad songs.  And I expect it, we are going through a devastating time that is crushing many.  Music is a form of art, a form of expression, and many of these songs are so beautiful and tell such a heartbreaking story of the times we're in.  But Weekend Reads is hopefully a positive happy distraction for you.  And just as I was thinking this, who popped up on YouTube for me but Dolly Parton.  How did I miss this video which came out two weeks ago?  Her glorious voice, the skillful banjo and fiddle, badass lyrics, her amazing getups, and this 1980's inspired green screen work is just what my heart needed and I hope it lifts you as well!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Great read, as per usual!

    There is a certain irony about Vogue being outdated/irrelevant that tickles me. I bought a recent UK copy purely to read the article with Jodie Comer (as she is brilliant). The whole magazine seemed off- like when the optometrist puts your current glasses back on after finding the better prescription: it’s not wrong and it does a job, but it’s not great.

    1. Such a great analogy! I stopped buying Vogue back when they wrote a flattering piece about the first lady of Syria but each time I read it on vacation or at the salon I feel the same.

  2. I’m so glad you are watching & enjoying Atypical! It would be so nice if the next season would be released soon, but I’m really not sure how or if Covid-19 affected their filming.

    God Friended Me: hmmm. It made me so sad to find out it was cancelled. My family always watches together and would have loved for it to continue. Watching a hopeful show has been needed these past few years (& still is, in my opinion). It was nice of the writers & producers to give us closure; I feel like they did the best they could under pandemic circumstances. After reading a few articles about the show, it’s seems that if there were a Season 3, we would have seen Miles looking for the “she” mentioned on the mountaintop, Ali’s going to seminary, Raj & his ex getting back together, as well as Miles & Cara. Instead, everything got rushed in those final minutes. I read that the scene of Miles on the mountain was actually filmed during the first season because the producers had that storyline planned from the beginning but then decided to save it for later.

    And I wanted to mention another TV show: Parks & Rec. So good! We didn’t watch it back when it was on NBC & instead watched last year on Netflix. We only finished it this past summer. The reunion this past Thursday night was a true delight! If you were a fan & haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend. And they’ve raised over 3 million dollars for Feed America!

  3. About this moment in time and the quarantine and pandemic; it helps me tremendously to remember:
    this too shall pass …

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