Hiatus Report

Sometimes in life we get ridiculously buried in work and stressed out over changes that are happening to us or around us. I am in one of these states at the moment. Needless to say I have a lot of priorities, which include but are not limited to: training for a 5k race, working a full-time job and writing this blog. However, it is time for a restructure of this blog, to keep it running and not into the ground.

So I’m taking a week or two, perhaps up to a month but certainly no longer than that, to get my life sorted out, my time managed and my blog restructured. When I return it will be with a bang, I promise you that! I will miss you, Audience, but I will see you again.

A Guide to Living with Your Parents

Okay, so my last how to that had to do with parents (and moving back home) was more on the humorous take. While this may have bits and pieces that you find humorous, it’s intended to be a more serious piece. I’m writing this one mostly because my older sister is about to embark on a journey that involves living with parents in the house, so I thought I’d make a sort of guide on how to cover your bases. Here we go: how to live with your parents.

1. Make sure you each have “get away space”. Whether this means that you retreat to a bedroom, outside, or just a space where you don’t see, hear, smell or even have objects that are one another’s (this could mean going shopping), you have got to have this. Personal space is a biggie, especially when everyone is in the same house and stressers are involved.

2. Evaluate your income. If all adults in the house are contributing income that’s fine. If the child is living with the parent and there is no rent negotiated, offer to pay some. What my parents did when I was living with them was a percentage of whatever I was making. This way I could save for things I needed to save for (a new car; moving out) and still had some spending money as well.

3. Contributing to the household. Not just monetarily, but with cleaning and upkeep. If you’re uncertain how to contribute, then ask. If you need something done for you, ask. Communication is key. Make sure that everything is covered and everyone has some chores (even including kids on this is a great idea!).

4. Interact in positive manners. Family game night? Watching a movie together? Do it! These are great positive interactions, so even if you’re on rocky ground normally, this can help. Granted, if you’re argumentative then a game or movie isn’t going to stop you from picking a fight, but generally this gives you enough time to chat amiably and relax in one another’s presence.

5. More communication. This has to do with where people are and when. Find a way to communicate, think about how the other person will feel if they wake up and expect you to be there, but aren’t. Different ways to communicate: handwritten notes, emails, texts, magnetic word poems. Phone calls are great during the daytime, but if it’s the middle of the night, don’t call unless it’s urgent.

6. Pay attention to one another. Don’t shut each other out, do ask about each other’s day. Ask questions, be sincere about your interactions. Don’t take the person for granted. Know if they are stressed and how to make it better. Know their favourite colors, foods. Ask them what they would like for dinner or breakfast or lunch. Surprise them with take out, flowers, something they’ve been wanting for a while now.

7. Make sure everyone in the house is okay with any changes you want to make or are forced to make. Sometimes it’s picking up groceries on a different day. Sometimes it’s a change in job. No matter what the change is, it’s important that everyone is both notified and gets to have input.

8. Always tell each other what you appreciate. If someone else has done something for you or for the household and you appreciate it: tell them. They deserve to know that what they just did or did a week ago is something you don’t take for granted and you noticed that they did it particularly well or when you were too busy to have done it easily yourself.

9. Never forget to tell them that you love them. Especially before someone leaves the house. Even if you’re pissed at them for something said or done (or not done). In fact, if you’re angry with them, it’s even better to say it. I don’t care if you slip them a note, paper airplane it to them, leave a sticky note on their steering wheel or shout it at them. Tell them.

10. Hug it out. When you’ve made up, when someone’s going out, when they’ve done something outstanding or just because. Hug them. It’s important to have eight positive physical touches during your day. Make sure the other people in your house receive those.

How To Leave Your Parents With Your Pets

Jokingly my Mum told me to write this, and since I seem to be a master at this topic I figured I would appease her and go ahead and write this. So here we go, this is a how to on moving back into your parents’ house, and then moving back out and leaving your various things and animals behind.

 

Materials

  • Stuff and/or animals to leave behind.
  • Parents/Guardians.
  • Being the youngest helps.
  • A charmingly manipulative nature.

 

Put It All Together

First, get yourself into a situation that is not ideal and your parents and/or guardians will be sympathetic toward. Something not of your own doing is best. Even if it is of your own doing, indirect is best, but even in worst case scenarios, they might love you just enough to take you and put you and your stuff back in the same room you slept it when you were younger. In my case, this was my significant other’s college being done and money running out after bad planning. This works well.

Next, move your stuff and/or pets into your old room. This may take some Tetris skills. It may also have you doing a great deal of lifting, carrying and hearing your parents give you shit for it. They don’t mean it, not really. They still love you and don’t actually mind you moving back in. Now that you’re convinced of this, you just need to convince the rest of the world.

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Living with your parents can be difficult, wonderful and almost luxurious sometimes. This is not a part I will go into too deeply, but the gist of it is to survive. It’s much like a game of Pandemic or Risk. Maybe more like Diplomacy, actually, but the point remains: survive!

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Now that you’ve been living with your parents for a while, it’s time to find a different living situation. This could come in many different forms: roommates, living on your own, winning the lottery and buying yourself a house… Okay, so that last isn’t the most likely, but it could happen! With a new living situation you might find that not all of your accumulations of things can fit, or maybe the place allows cats, but that dog that you adore isn’t allowed in case it poops on something (and your cat won’t?). It can be tough, weeding out what you want to take with you to start anew. Or who you want to bring with you. In this stage it’s more like the five stages of grief than starting a new, bright future. It sucks when you have to make sacrifices: no matter how big or small.

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You’ve decided on what and who you are taking, it’s time to announce your decision to the remaining members of the family. Your parents will most likely not be thrilled (especially if you’re leaving them with said adored puppy). However, they will begrudgingly care for the dog even better than you could have, and love it as if it was an extension of you (it is), in your stead. This may be for the better. All you have to do is convince yourself of that.

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And then you move out. You may cry, if you feel it will help, or hide the fact that you’re bawling by pretending to have an epic coughing fit that leaves you in tears. Either way, dignity is not with you. You have still moved back in with your parents and then emerged with less than you began with. It’s terrible, horrible and a no-good feeling, but perhaps your adored puppy will be quite happy there and she will fill a void that your vacancy left with your parents.

How To… Find Your Motivation

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It’s really hard to find the motivation to do anything: whether that’s work or play. It’s always easier to be lazy, and procrastination is better, right? Because that means you have more time to yourself and then you’re also better under pressure, right? Not necessarily. So how do you break this cycle and be self-motivating so you might be able to get more projects done? Here’s how you do it…

First: control your environment. Free yourself from distractions and get your goal in sight. If you can keep focused, you’ll be surprised how much you can get done in a small amount of time. So put on those noise canceling headphones, play some soothing (or epic!) tunes—like these—and get down to business.

Second: structure your time. If you have a deadline, this is made easier. You can say “the whole project is due by then, so how can I break this down into increments in order to get this finished in time”. If you don’t have a deadline and you have a project, set yourself a deadline. Don’t bend over backward and kill yourself to reach it, but keep it as a firmly designated date and/or time to get the project completed.

Third: depending upon the project, one might choose a certain type of music. Pandora is good, 8tracks can be fun too! If you’re writing an epic scene for your next novel, there are soundtracks out there to help you! Try this one or this one.

Four: change your location/your computer wallpaper. Sometimes a minor change (when you’re faced with a desktop computer, like mine, that you aren’t able to lug around to coffee shops or parks) like changing your wallpaper can help to motivate you. What would be motivational? Some people find their favourite celebrities telling them to work or write to be motivation enough. Others need a serene background, while others would rather feel badass for completing something and seeing their wallpaper again. Mostly, it’s whatever makes you happy. Sometimes location can be changed though—just make sure you aren’t too distracted by it!

Five: goals and rewards. Once you’ve met a certain goal (getting a thousand words done, writing an article, cleaning a room, etc.), make sure you reward yourself. It doesn’t matter whether that’s some time with other people; getting a healthy, sweet snack; or just doing something else of your choosing for a little while, you should always be able to take a break and relax. This will actually keep you more focused and let you get more stuff done.

These five tips don’t necessarily cover all your bases, but they certainly get you started. Mostly it has to do with your inner thoughts—those need to be positive and relaxed. Once you have a goal and are working toward it, you can take a few breathers and know that you are both on schedule and motivated to keep doing what you can to complete the project. Motivation is tricky and it’s hard to keep it up non-stop. It’s okay to let it lapse a bit here and there, but don’t let this lack of motivation take over your life.

How To… Start Cooking!

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Cooking can be a passion for some people—and for some a nightmare of burns and cuts and ruining food. So if you’re a part of the latter, but know you must become a part of the former, how do you go about it? Here’s some tips toward becoming a competent cook.

1. Don’t be afraid to try things. Sure, don’t immediately go for fillet mignon or some other high falutin recipes that are difficult to get just right, but do try to make things that look interesting or out of the norm.

2. If you don’t know it, look it up! There are cooking videos on Youtube that can help you distinguish what it is you need and how to use it. If you have no idea how to sharpen a knife, for example, it’s best you follow some instructions before running off and trying to figure it out. You don’t want to damage the blade on your expensive new professional knife set—so my best advice is to use keywords and look it up. Obviously in the case of knife sharpening, a video would be preferable.

3. If you mess up, it’s ok. Sure, some food might have been wasted, but everyone messes up. You know how much my Mum cooks from scratch? All the time. You know what she’s done? Completely charred some ribs that she left on the stovetop because she forgot about them. She also ran a cake baking business and a couple of times she had cakes fall apart for one reason or another (she made a cow-shaped cake where the head was too heavy and it fell off). So what did she do? She problem solved. In the case of the ribs I believe that we went out to eat. In the case of the cow shaped cake she had to re-make it. This included putting straws in the neck of the cow to strengthen it and keep it from falling over. The lesson to learn here? Everyone messes up. It happens. It’s ok. Don’t panic. Just clean it up, dust off your hands and say you’ll learn to do it better next time.

4. If you don’t like it—change it! That’s been a rule in the kitchen since I was young. Always try a recipe out the first time by following it to a T. Then, if it didn’t turn out the way you would have liked, feel free to change portions of it. I know my favourite thing is to adapt normal recipes to gluten-free ones. It’s mostly out of necessity, but it’s also interesting to figure out how to adapt the recipe to other variables. Of course, if you aren’t comfortable with change, try baby steps. Try making a different flavor first before going for making a normal recipe to gluten-free, for example.

5. If you need help, ask someone. Chances are your parents or aunts and uncles or your grandma know something about it. Don’t be afraid to ask and get useful tips handed down through family or friends. Especially if it’s something silly—ask them and then laugh about it later.

6. If you want to take cooking classes, take them. There are plenty available all over the world, usually quite a few around the cities, so turn up and learn a few things. Maybe you’ll learn a new recipe, maybe a new technique. No matter what, though, I guarantee you’ll have fun and be able to take something away from it (as long as you’ve gone in with an open mind, that is)!

7. Cook with friends. Whether they’re there to watch you make a fool of yourself in the kitchen or actually being helpful, it makes everything more fun and a lot less stressful.

8. Drink a little. Don’t get too drunk, but if you’re of age to—I recommend it. It helps everything to be a little loosened up when you cook. If you don’t trust me, youtube search for drunk cooking. You’ll be convinced after that.

9. Make something you like. If you don’t like it, you probably won’t try it. Therefore, you have to rely on others to tell you if what you made was alright or not.

Hopefully these tips point you in the right direction to become an awesome cook. Because really, anyone can do it and once you can cook you’ll have all manner of people asking you to make them something. So good luck on your cooking endeavors, Audience!

Deadlines are the Devil

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Deadlines are either a wonderful goals to meet or looming executioners. Either way, you need to know how to get to them in one piece, preferably with completed work in tow. So how do you do that without losing your sanity? What if you’ve already procrastinated? Many people will tell you many different ways, each might work for you. This is how I do it: how I tackle the monster.

First I figure out how much work I have to do. For me, this usually boils down to word count. For others it might be research and then word count. It really depends upon what sort of work you’re doing. Either way, you figure out about how much time it will take you, over all, to complete your work. Then you take into account the deadline. This will make the density of your work day known. For some people it could be a couple of hours each day. For some people it’s more like a full-time job.

Now that you know the density of your work day(s), keep in mind that breaks are a necessity. If you have a lighter work day, try to do your work in increments of 20-10’s. This means you work for twenty minutes without stopping and then you get a ten minute break to do whatever needs doing. In this style you could even switch out what work you’re doing, if you’re in a more densely packed work time: twenty minutes spent researching, ten minutes spent writing. You might find that this sort of “interruption” is actually a great way to keep focused during those twenty minutes. This style has been adopted, in particular, by “Unfuck Your Habitat” which is a motivational blog dedicated to cleaning around the home. As far as what types of breaks you might need to take: food breaks, staying comfortable is good, so I recommend eating as normal and perhaps keeping some yummy, healthy snacks next to you while you work; water breaks, which if you keep a bottle of water next to you while you work, you might not need so much; potty breaks, don’t disrupt the natural course of your body just to get some work done; exercise/stretching breaks, if taking a jog or a walk sounds like a stress-relief, do it, or if a good stretching session is necessary I recommend looking up some lazy yoga moves to help you out; animal-petting breaks, these are crucial and should never be skipped over if one can help it.

As far as getting rid of distractions goes, I’ve mastered the art. Get some good old noise-canceling headphones, some music and don’t let yourself get distracted by Tumblr, Youtube, or Facebook. I know you want to, but focus. Especially if you give yourself a goal—this is where the twenty minute increments are helpful—then you will find that you can make it to the end of that goal before you need to take that break and start that tv show you’ve been looking forward to. If other people are prone to interrupting and it isn’t urgent, try something like a “do not disturb” sign, or just let them know before you enter the zone that you have a cone of silence around you. Some people have gone so far as to tape signs to themselves or the backs of their chairs with a guide as to what an acceptable interruption is. If that’s your style, go for it!

So now you’ve got the time management side of things down, so you’ll be able to get some work done. If you’re running behind schedule, talk to the person you’re giving your work to. Let them know what has slowed you down and that you have a plan of attack, but it still will be a little overdue. Deadlines can be stressful, looming and scary things. Just keep in mind that they can also be your friend, so you might give yourself a set schedule and seem that much more put together when you hand over your work a day early. Good luck, Audience!