Blogging, Lists, PSAs

Staying Power: 6 Tactics for (Y)Our Advocacy Long Game

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Photos: “Wall of Love” by Westfield, NJ residents. Photos taken by me in Feb 2018. 

Like many of you, I’ve been struggling lately with how best to contribute in the march for equality. I thought about skipping this week’s blog post altogether. After all, how could I, a privileged white woman with a blog about her chipmunk fascination, possibly add value?

If I shared good news, I risked gaslighting the very real struggles and heartbreaking treatment of people of color. If I continued to avoid the topic, I seemed tone deaf, or worse, unaffected.

And then it hit me.

My place has never been on the soapbox, but rather by your side, offering encouragement and support. To each of you who has participated in peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations, thoughtfully shared fact-based posts and articles, and stood in solidarity against systemic racism: thank you.

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Turning this ship around, however, will require incredible, consistent, compassionate resolve.

In my years of human rights, environmental protection, and animal rights advocating, bearing witness to unspeakable suffering as I earned my Humane Education Masters degree, I learned a number of strategies that have given me staying power. Perhaps some of them may serve you as you help light the path to peace.

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Disclaimer: I can only write from a place of white privilege, with the sincerest hope of helping readers in a similarly privileged position. Together, if we can avoid burn out-inspired apathy, we can continue to stand up for love, equality, and chipmunks justice.

1. Advocacy starts at home.

There are emotional stages as you process the kind of horrific information that leads to activism. You may want to yell, fight, and/or tell everyone what you’ve just seen or heard. Remember that being a good advocate means being good to the people within your direct sphere of influence. They didn’t ask for, and likely won’t benefit from, lectures or condemnations. When you feel frustrated by “unwoke” friends or family members, remember that they might just be the perfect practice. First and foremost, model the compassion and change you want to see right where you are. At home.

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2. Consider reframing: what are you fighting against standing for?

Have you ever heard the story about Mother Teresa being asked to march against war? “No,” she allegedly said, “But I WILL march FOR peace.” (Even if the quote isn’t hers [though a number of online sources seem legitimate], my point still stands.) Sometimes this simple reframing can reinvigorate your passion. By moving away from words like “fight” and “battle,” I believe we can achieve the same end (and have a lot more staying power while doing so): peace and equality.

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3. Take a break when you need to.

While this can certainly be considered a privileged tactic, please don’t let anyone, most especially that nagging little voice in your head, tell you that you’re “failing” if you decide to take a break from active campaigning, the news, and social media. If you consider yourself a remotely sensitive person (and I’m willing to bet you do or you wouldn’t be reading this), you WILL NOT survive the long game if you don’t give yourself some time-outs. After all, even while you’re sitting down, you still stand for justice, right? (Sorry. So corny. The chipmunks made me say it.)

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4. Find your happy place.

Related to #3, develop your own personalized self-care strategy. Maybe it’s watching stand-up, funny cat videos, a hike, a bath, or a phone call with a friend. Advocacy burn-out is very real, and the world needs you at your best. Your joyful, laughing, hopeful best.

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5. Choose your words (and shares) wisely.

When you’re fired up, it’s tempting to share, share, share and comment, comment, comment. Sadly, this kind of activism often gets lost in the sauce. Your audience is far more likely to pay attention if you have a proven reputation of speaking and sharing thoughtfully and deliberately. And please, please, pretty please investigate your sources before passing ANYTHING along. (You should have seen me Googling that Mother Teresa quote…)

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6. Choose your company even more wisely.

One of THE MOST effective things you can do for your advocacy staying game is to surround yourself with positive, like-minded activists. The kind of crew whose energy invigorates and inspires you to be and do your best. Not sure if that’s the situation you’re in? Listen to your gut. When you picture a particular person or group, do you feel a tight, heavy feeling? Or a bubbly, effervescent one? …I think you know what to do.

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Whether this is your first or fiftieth time here, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It means more to me than you’ll ever know. Now get on out there and BE THE CHANGE.

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Blogging, Lists

LISTEN UP! (Audio) Books for Summer Reading Season

Psst, before we dive in, I just have to let you know how excited I am about my new course with Plant-Based with Robin!

HELP Dinners A Disaster Website Purchase Icon_FINAL_CORRECTED
Let us help. We love you.

Now, where were we?

Ah, yes, books.

Last week, I mentioned how I’d once given up my favorite pastime, reading. By the time I was about 15, I thought I was only allowed to read “smart” books. You know, the books on the 100 Titles to Read Before You Croak list.

Baby-Sitters Club books
Hang on. Are these not on the list?

And just like that, reading went from an exciting adventure to an excruciating chore.

While I’ve since liberated myself from the notion that I had to read anything on any list, I now experience a sort of late onset ADHD whenever I sit down with a book – no matter how fun and indulgent the title. (Weird, huh? I mean, it’s not like anything going on in the world would make someone feel anxious to the point of being unable to focus, right? ha ha…)

scott 12 pack
How many do I have left?! HOW. MANY?!?!

Thankfully, with the advent of library apps like Hoopla and Libby (in which all you need is a valid library ID card to access thousands of free, virtual “borrows”), I’m now able to burn through dozens of audiobooks while I run marathons. I simply download the audiobook on my phone, then set it to airplane mode while I run to ensure I don’t drain the battery or my data plan. When I’m done, I delete it, freeing back up the space on my phone. Boom! (The only downside is that every ten seconds you’ll be forced to debate whether or not it’s worth stopping your running watch and covering your phone in sweat and trail dust to jot down the author’s truth bombs.)

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A little bit of foreshadowing here…

I’ve read listened to so many books over the past couple of years this way that, as we head into summer reading season, I thought it was high time I gathered my own list of Books to Read Before You Croak!

Side note: If your library offers a choice in apps, I find Hoopla far superior in both selection and number of borrows permitted per month, though the interface is less sleek than Libby.

Let’s do this.

Go Jules Go Title Graphic LISTEN UP Audio Books for Summer Reading Season_3JUN2020

Disclaimer: The below recommendations contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small commission if you purchase any of the titles, but the recommendations are 100% my own and unsponsored.

To give this some structure, I’m organizing my list in the order in which I enjoyed these books (purposely leaving off the titles that, ah, didn’t speak to me…well, I mean, they spoke to me because they were audiobooks, but, OH MY GOD THIS IS ALREADY MY LONGEST POST OF ALL TIME AND I NEED TO MOVE ON):

2018-2019 Honorable Mentions

Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon by Dr. Joe Dispenza

Right up front, let’s get one thing straight: I’m into the woo-woo. All the woo-woo. And it took 36 years for me to admit that – even to myself. Now, as a gift to disillusioned, 15-year-old Jules, I let myself read alllll of the books that fascinate and delight me, even if others might call them foolish. And it has transformed my life. Becoming Supernatural is right at the top of the list in busting open conventional beliefs about who we are and why we’re here. If you think you can handle it.

Secret Lives of Introverts

The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World by Jenn Granneman

If you’re an introvert, or love an introvert, drop everything and read this. End of story. …Or is it just the beginning?

Emergence: Seven Steps for Radical Life Change by Derek Rydall

Based only on hearing that this was written by a former actor turned guru, you’d probably sooner eat wood screws than read this. But wait! I still think of this book regularly. The way Rydall describes human life compared to an acorn becoming an oak is… well, you’ll just have to “hear” for yourself.

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The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Narrated by the very likable author, Rubin’s year-long exploration of what happiness really is -and the daily, tangible ways you can experience it- is funny, moving, and interesting.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Oh, boy, did I ever think this former bestseller would be a clunker. (And sorry, Mr. Chapman, if your love language is also verbal affirmation. I, in fact, think this book is fabulous.) I stand corrected! I felt like Oprah based on the number of “ah hah!” moments this book led to.

Jan 2020

Sorry I'm Late Jessica Pan

Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes by Jessica Pan

I’ve already written about how much I f@&$# love this woman and this book, so I’ll keep this short. This book is for everyone – introverted or not. Laugh out loud funny, relatable, and endlessly engaging.

Feb 2020

The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever by Jamie Wright

Similar to Pan’s memoir, this recounting by Jamie Wright gives you a no holds barred peek into her world – as the very worst missionary. Wright never shies away from telling the truth about what’s really behind some of the so-called “work” done in the Lord’s name, and she does it with the kind of acerbic self-awareness that makes a humor writer like me swoon.

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

A cute fiction book about a woman who takes no small delight in her class mom role – emailing parents with often wildly inappropriate comments and suggestions – leading to, as you might imagine, some pretty amusing hi-jinx. This is what I’d call a “classic summer read.”

Furiously Happy Jenny Lawson book cover

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

Fellow Blogging sensation Jenny Lawson details her struggles with mental health in a way that makes you laugh and cry – in all the best ways.

The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks

Written by Stanford psychologist Gay Hendricks, this book exposes the many ways in which we put a “ceiling” on our own possibilities – including how happy we’re allowed to be. Even if you’re thinking you’ve heard all of this before, I promise you’ll gain some surprising new insights into why you STILL HAVEN’T FINISHED THAT G.D. NOVEL ALREADY.

Happy Trail: A Trapped Together Forced Proximity Romance by Daisy Prescott

Um… so… if you geek out on through-hiking, lumberjack chic, and lots of wood, go for it. Exactly the kind of romance novel you’d expect from the cover art.

Happy Trail Daisy Prescott book cover

March 2020

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

The way the authors weave research and personal stories through this book is masterful. If you’re a teacher looking to blow your students’ minds, an office worker hoping to transform your organization, or anyone trying to create more meaningful moments with loved ones, I’m confident you’ll walk away moved and empowered by this book.

Normal Sucks Jonathan Mooney book cover

Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines by Jonathan Mooney

OH GOD THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD. In this part memoir, part historical exploration, Mooney (a now-father raised by anything but normal parents) delves into the origins of normalcy in a way that absolutely blew my mind. While the tone is conversational, the content is rich with fascinating data. If you’ve ever felt misunderstood or ‘less than,’ this book will be your new favorite.

April 2020

96 Miles by J.L. Esplin

This is a young adult fiction title recommended to readers who liked Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Um, helloooo, only my second favorite kid’s book of all-time! (Bested only by Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.) It was gripping. I cannot believe it’s meant for 8 to 12-year-olds. It also includes some fantastic education around Type I diabetes if, as a parent or educator, that might come in handy.

Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance by Christopher McDougall

If you loved McDougall’s smash hit Born to Run, or anything by Bill Bryson, you’ll definitely dig this one. A true life historical recount told like an action-packed blockbuster, this book explores the ancient art of human badassery – though I can’t say I agree with all of the dietary recommendations near the end. (Here’s a much happier way to eat .)

When Breath Becomes Air Paul Kalanithi book cover

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Whew. Grab the Kleenex before diving into this memoir by the late neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi, who passed away from lung cancer at age 37. He left us not only this beautiful book, but his shining yet realistic example of selflessness. (All the more moving thanks to the absolutely poetic closing chapter by his wife.)

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron

Whether or not you’ve ever heard of the enneagram model, this book is a fantastic read. Exploring the history and details of the nine personality types described by the enneagram, you’ll laugh (and groan) as you gain insight into what makes you, and others, tick.

May 2020

Year of Yes Shonda Rhimes
Photo credit

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

I don’t know how I made it until May 2020 without erecting a shrine to Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and more. This woman OWNS primetime drama and is a beacon of hope for any female writer or introvert with a dream.

Kind is the New Classy: The Power of Living Graciously by Candace Cameron Bure

I know! DJ Tanner writes books (yes, plural)! I didn’t realize this until my friend, Sandy, mentioned it on her blog. Entering in with rock bottom expectations, I was pleasantly surprised. Cameron Bure’s got something. And no one can deny this woman’s work ethic. A little memoir, a little self-help, and a whole lotta Jesus… I’d read more.

The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff

If, like me, you’ve ever described yourself as a “sponge person,” absorbing all of the energy and emotions of the people around you, you’ll adore this book. It’s woo-woo all right, and it explains EVERYTHING.

Girl Stop Apologizing Rachel Hollis book cover

Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

I was late to the Rachel Hollis game, and apparently this is like her 47th book. Sort of a shrill Tony Robbins, admittedly, there’s no denying that Hollis MAKES SHIT HAPPEN. My inner project manager geeked out on this brutally honest, practical how-to, and I definitely recommend it if you identify as a woman stuck between dreaming and action.

June 2020

Reflections on the Artists Way Julia Cameron cover

Reflections on the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Like many with a creative dream, I’ve been a HUGE fan of The Artist’s Way‘s 12-week program since I was a teenager. In this three-part audio series, Cameron addresses an audience, answers questions, and then faces a one-on-one interview – all in under two hours. I was delighted to find that I still have so much to learn from this prolific, spiritual powerhouse.

NEXT UP: The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner

Having just written about anger’s place in our lives, I’m really excited to dig into this. Stay tuned.

Happy reading!

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What are you reading lately?

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humor, Just For Fun, Lists

Do You Have the Right Quarantine Skills?

Go Jules Go Do You Have the Right Quarantine Skills Title Graphic 13MAY2020

Recently, my friend Dakota asked, “If you could acquire any two skills during quarantine, what would they be?”

Apparently, running three marathons in nine days didn’t count.

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It’s okay, Dakota Rainbow Cloudjumper. Uncle Jesse and I forgive you. (In all seriousness, Dakota and his wife, Chelsea, are two of my biggest cheerleaders and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.)

Based on Dakota’s prompt, I wrote a blog post within minutes. Before I could hit ‘Publish,’ SOMETHING MAGICAL HAPPENED.

A deep-seated wish come true.

A phoenix rising from the ashes!

A…much better version of the post I’d already drafted…what the f#%@?!

After 3+ years of waiting and peer pressuring hoping, my bloggy BFF, sparring partner, and doppleganger, The Byronic Man, HAD A NEW POST.

This is the part where I could have put up photos of B-Man in drag, but I’m a good friend.

And it looked like not much had changed: HE WAS STILL INSIDE MY HEAD. So, I’ll let him cover the quarantine goals category, and I’ll gladly move on, my party hat slap bracelet firmly in place. (Although it’s worth noting that I already had the rest of this post written as part of my original draft, including the retro B-Man shout-out.)

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When bloggy BFFs collide. After a run. In the rain. …Whose idea was this anyway?

Acquiring new skills seems kinda hard, anyway. Besides, if these are end times (and who says they aren’t?), what are the most marketable skills we already possess? How can we prove to our quarantine comrades that they shouldn’t eat us first? I’ll take a crack at it, and then I want to hear from you!

Go Jules Go’s Quarantine Survival Skills

I…

1. …give fantastic compliments. Did you know you’re the only person I write this blog for?

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And would I ever lie to you?

2. …can make anything out of raw cashews.

3. …can sew. …Assuming you only need cute Christmas ornaments.

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They’re vegan.

4. …have long arms = strong selfie game.

Babs Jules NYC May 2019
YOU CAN’T EVEN TELL I’M THE ONE TAKING THIS.

5. …will carry 15 extra pounds up a mountain if it means we get to have potato quesadillas in the morning.

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FACT.

6. …know how to say 1,000+ words in French. None of them go together, but never mind that.

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Pain! Chouette! Chapeau! …See?

7. …write excellent thank you notes. This can only help our diplomacy efforts with neighboring communities.

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It’s the thought (and not the penmanship) that counts, right?

8. …know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. Wait, we’re talking about fitted sheets, right?

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It was a whole thing. What? You weren’t here in 2012?

9. …understand the ancient art of numerology. Sort of. I’m pretty sure we can stop worrying about 666.

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Toldja.

10. …am a follower. Even though my head was clearly made for a crown, I’m most comfortable standing in someone else’s shadow and won’t upset the group dynamics.

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We are all in this together.

11. …don’t really understand the ancient art of numerology and think that ending on #11 means we won’t die. (My superstitions could save us all.)

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Then again, maybe don’t rely on me for survival.

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So, what are your top quarantine/end of days skillz?

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humor, Lists, Project Management

What I Wish I’d Known BEFORE My Month-Long Road Trip

I shift in my seat, lifting a hand to massage the knots in my neck. I glance at my notepad.

148 miles on this highway. Great. At least it’s not snowing. 

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Ha. Just kidding. Happy spring.

It’s been almost three weeks since I packed my car, left New Jersey, and headed north. Resigning from corporate America in March, I had had a one track mind:

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ALL THE TRAVEL!!!!!

It sounds like a dream come true, right? Freedom, adventure, new friends… What could go wrong?

Go Jules Go Title Graphic What I wish Id Known Before My Month Long Road Trip_24APR2019

Unlimited Cell Service? Psssshhh.

After discovering that the middle of Maine was a dead zone (at least for me), I took to hand writing my directions before entering unknown territory. Luckily, the impressively eclectic radio stations provided the perfect soundtrack for my 90s-style, Google maps-less travel. (Rant for another day: Why does New York City radio have the most monochromatic music on the face of the planet?)

directions to Canada
148 miles doesn’t look so bad when you’re singing Beastie Boys at the top of your lungs.

“Fully Equipped Kitchen” Means Very Different Things to Different People

If you’re planning to do any cooking on the road, and assuming your lodging (mostly AirBnbs, in my case) will come equipped with certain basics as described — think again. Here are some common items missing in one or all of my AirBnb kitchens: Ice cube trays, wine opener, strainer (colander), dishwasher soap/cleaner, pot large enough for boiling pasta, curtains (ahem), and spatula.

Curtain-less window
Thankfully, this looks right in through to the bathroom. On a busy highway.

Sitting All Day is Exhausting

Even with my lead foot, I couldn’t turn the drive from Nova Scotia to mid-coast Maine into anything less than a 10-hour trek. After 5-6 hours, everything starts to hurt, and even cycling in frigid, rainy headwind starts to sound appealing.

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On second thought…

You’re Going to Spend More Money Than You Think You Are

As a [former] project manager, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t fully acknowledge the ‘over deadline, over budget’ mantra that accompanies so many projects – including road trip ones. Besides ALL THE GASOLINE, unplanned expenditures are bound to crop up almost daily. Like, oh, I don’t know, duty charges on your case of wine, forgetting your dog’s kibble and discovering he’ll accept no substitutions apart from homemade people food, and ice cube trays/spatulas/THINGS ANY NORMAL KITCHEN SHOULD HAVE.

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%*&*@. He’s never eating kibble again.

But lest you think road travel is all a pile of tears…

Most People Are Mostly Nice. Really Nice.

By far the best part of traveling alone is forcing yourself to rely on the kindness of others. Rarely did I find anyone who wasn’t more than willing to offer the insider scoop, their washer/dryer, or just a general helping hand. I’m headed back to New Jersey with friendships and experiences I never would have had were I to stay inside my comfort zone.

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Comfort zone? What comfort zone?

And isn’t that the whole point?

Next time, though? I’m bringing my $%&*@! colander.

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Have you ever road tripped? Was it what you expected?

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Blogging, Lists, Project Management, Veganiness

What it Really Looked Like to “Follow My Heart”

Go Jules Go Title Graphic What It Really Looked Like to Follow My Heart_13MAR2019

One of my favorite sayings goes, “The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get.”

I’ve thought of it often as I embark on a totally new, risky, amazing phase of my life: quitting my stable, full-time job, selling all of my stuff, and hitting the road to pursue creative passion projects.

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Yay! 13 subscribers! Good thing I quit my job for this!

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve had a friend or two suggest that the opportunities I’ve gotten were available to me only because of my age, location or looks. While I undoubtedly experience white privilege and humbly acknowledge my staggering good looks fortune in being born to a nice, middle class family in New Jersey, I’m always saddened when people see it this way.

Following my heart has taken everything I have, and even some things I don’t have – yet. Getting to the pot of gold at the end of the dream rainbow is sweaty, scary and sometimes bittersweet business. So scary, in fact, that the only way to calm my [project manager] nerves is to discuss it in –oh my god I’m so excited– graphical format.

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Getting a divorce.

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Going to therapy. For two and a half years.

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Going back to (and finishing) grad school.

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Getting dumped. …Twice.

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Experiencing an earth-shaking epiphany and changing my entire lifestyle [to veganism].

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A lot of sweating. So much sweating. Too much, really.

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Setting boundaries and having difficult conversations with people I love.

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Asking for help (accountability partners).

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Letting go of friendships that emptied my tank so I could cultivate ones that make my spirit soar.

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Exploring all things woo-woo without caring what others thought.

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Telling someone how I really felt about them. …And having them not return the feeling.

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Believing I was worthy, and already had, all of the joy and love I’d always wanted.

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Quitting my stable, cushy job to pursue creative passions.

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Moving to a 350 square foot apartment.

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Leaving said apartment and getting rid of [nearly] all my possessions.

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Slashing my spending by 80%.

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Consistently saying yes to things that made me want to hide in a corner – like meeting new people.

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Stopping to question Every. Single. Negative thought and asking, “Is this true or is this a story?”

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Letting go of the belief that anyone else’s opinion of me has anything to do with me.

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As you can see, NONE of these things was easy, or pleasant, or preceded by 100% assuredness. There will never be a “right” time to do something that scares you. But the universe doesn’t care how old or young you are, how over or under qualified. When it sees someone taking risks to follow their heart’s calling, it will take note, and oftentimes instantaneously, step in and give you whatever you need – even when you’re not sure what that is.

So, whaddya say? Are you ready to do what it takes in order to achieve your dreams, even if that includes the “impossible”? Your heart is a badass and (s)he just might require that of you.

(Pssst…you know I can’t resist linking to my latest video!)

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What has following your heart looked like for you? (…Does anyone want to hide under this blanket with me? I brought Wheat Thins and Chao cheese.)

~*~*~*~*~*~

Just For Fun, Lists

When You Expect the Unexpected…

when you expect

The tail end of 2018 saw a slew of surprises, leading me to believe that 2019 is bound to bring in more of The Unexpected. AND I EXPECT IT TO BE AWESOME.

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That’s one way of saying I’ve recently begun experimenting with [Bic pens and] tattoo designs.
To celebrate this, I thought it would be fun to relive December’s unexpected events and my surprising takeaway from each:

Surprise #1

I got my friend Janeen a “1-hour medicine healing ceremony” session for her birthday because she’s even kookier than I am. On a lovely Saturday in mid-December, we headed into New York City to get our crystal-woo-woo on. The shop was located on the 5th floor of a building in Greenwich Village.

We spent the first five minutes ringing the bell and asking the construction workers next door how to get in. Eventually, they pointed to a creepy stairwell and we ascended 8,000 flights to our destination.

Once inside a small, fragrant room, an attractive woman began ‘reading the collective energy’ of the 12 ladies forming a circle around her. (“Ma’am, I think you’re picking up ‘sweat’ and ‘confusion.'”) We then laid down on heated mats, nestled under blankets, while she chanted and waved incense, carefully stepping between our legs. Just as I was starting to relax, eyes closed and breathing deeply, she whacked my chest with a large, dried palm leaf.

Surprise Takeaway: Never assume you understand the definition of the word “healing.”

Surprise #2

The following weekend, my sister drove me over to Babs’ (mom’s), anticipating our “surprise early Christmas present” from Babs.

“What do you think it’ll be?” my sister asked.

“It’s either strippers or a vegan cooking class,” I replied. “Not that I’ve given this any thought. And you know what I just realized yesterday?” I paused before blurting, “Mom and Pop didn’t really do anything to celebrate me just getting the Masters. I feel like a jerk saying this, but I would have thought they’d want to go out to dinner or something...”

My sister and I were still talking about this as I opened my parents’ front door.

“SURPRISE!!!!!!!!”

I was suddenly surrounded by friends and family, champagne, and gobs of gifts.

Surprise Takeway: You are always loved so much more than you think you are.

Surprise #3

I wasn’t going to blog about this since the idea is to stay anonymous, but this was so much fun that I feel like I have to tell you to try it, too (especially if you can rope in some kiddos)…

To round out the end of 2018, I actually won money from one of the scratch-offs that my family loves to give each Christmas. Chyeahhh!

I took my big, fat $50 winnings, got a bunch of $5 bills, and then my nephew and I wrote encouraging note cards and left each $5 bill and a card all around town for people to find [in Ziploc bags lest Mother Nature not cooperate].

We’re definitely going to make it a new tradition. Here’s one of my 15-year-old nephew’s cards – can you see why I couldn’t keep this to myself?!

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I know. He needs his own blog ASAP.

Surprise Takeway: It’s really, really fun to give away money, even when you’re worried about never having enough of it.

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humor, Lists, Project Management

Well THAT Didn’t Go According to Plan

I’ve been a project manager for over a decade. That suggests a few things.

  1. I’m organized.
  2. I make sh&t happen.
  3. I REALLY like lists.

Phrases like Type A, OCD, and Post-It Hoarder might even be crossing your mind.

Jules-organized-fridge
Huh. I don’t see it.

Well. Okay. Fine. I like when things go according to plan. At the very least, I like HAVING a plan. Some sort of scaffolding upon which to begin arranging my masterpieces.

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Do you think this just happens?

I also really, really hate messing up or not meeting my goals.

nailed-it-mason-jar-candles-blog
I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.

I’m learning to take a step back, harness my Zen, be the river flowing around the rocks, yadda yadda…

Jules-meditating-Zac-Efron-spirit-guide
Picturing Zac Efron shirtless helps.

…And if any detours from my plans are funny, I’ve gotten REALLY good at embracing them.

Jules-losing-it-FB-post-inside-out-pants
Thanks, blogging.

Here are a few recent favorite fails “detours.”

Well that didn't go according to plan

The Mannequin Did It! (1 of 3)

On Monday, my manager, Karla, and I enjoyed lunch during one of our biweekly check-ins. After covering business, we dug into fun stories from our personal lives. We laughed, I finished my tray of warm, delicious bhindi masala, and left her office with, as usual, a skip in my step. Life is grand!

When I returned to her office later that afternoon, I noticed something strange on her desk.

“Did I do that?” I asked, horrified, picturing my steaming, fragrant lunch resting on the gleaming, elegant wood in that exact same spot just hours earlier.

Jules-ruins-desk

Karla burst out laughing. “I wasn’t going to say anything…”

I immediately started Googling replacement desks.

desk-saran-wrap
That should do it.

Now That’s What I Call Commitment (2 of 3)

health-in-motion-scary-sign

Okay. I can’t take credit for this, but I just love it.

This is a sign around the corner from my house. You know when it looked fantastic? Halloween.

Do you know when I took this picture? Yesterday.

tide-stick
Maybe this will help?

At least they’re ready for 2019. This project manager approves.

I Just Wanted an Excuse to Post this Picture (3 of 3)

Did you know I went to Dubai in 2016? …That’s okay. Most people missed it. Even people in Dubai. A fairly last-minute meeting brought my boss and I there for a whirlwind 36-hour trip.

Jules-Dubai-burj khalifa_Oct2016

A fellow project manager was our tour guide and he crammed in lots of exciting stops for us. My boss was especially tickled when he took us to a restaurant called The Meat House.

Jules-pout

At one point, he brought us to The Dubai Mall and led us towards a little kiosk. Before we knew what was happening, people were handing us shiny things, saying, “Put this on. Now hold this.”

My boss and I glanced at each other warily, but it was too late. There was no getting out of this.

IMG_1858
You haven’t lived until you unexpectedly play dress-up with your boss.

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Anything you’re apologizing to your coworkers for?

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humor, Just For Fun, Lists

A Mannequin? I Manne-CAN’T Believe This…

I’ve had strange weeks before. This past week, though. Well. This past week has been fun.

A MANNEQUIN_ I Manne-CAN'T believe it! (1)

“Aca-‘scuse Me?” (Exhibit 1 of 3)

A few weeks ago, Babs (mom) sent me a text.

“I have two tickets to an acapella Christmas show at at NJPAC on Dec 1 @ 8pm. Any chance you’d go?”

Longtime readers know “anything”+ “acapella” elicits the following response from me:

GoJulesGo gets ready for BlogHer'12

Based on all of the times Babs and I had been to college acapella performances, I figured an NJPAC-worthy show would be Glee meets Pitch Perfect. I hoped they’d cover Mariah Carey, maybe a little Jackson 5, and my all-time favorite, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

“This is going to be so fun!” we squealed over Sangria on Saturday night, the show now only an hour away. As the clock neared 8pm, we scooted past two blue-haired ladies, took our seats and opened the program.

img_20181203_102534956

“You said you’ve heard them before?” I whispered to Babs.

“I think so,” she replied. “On the radio.”

I looked at the song list and back at Babs, eyes as wide as Christmas saucers.

img_20181201_195919413
This doesn’t look like Mariah Carey…

Suddenly, the lights dimmed, a hush fell over the crowd, and twelve men in full-on penguin suits (not the fun kind) solemnly formed a semi-circle, singing at an octave they probably could have heard in whatever country the decidedly-NOT-Mariah-Carey song originated.

Tears of laughter streamed down my face and my shoulders shook as I tried not to make a sound.

“I’M SO SORRY,” Babs whispered, and I snorted audibly.

Trapped in our aisle until intermission, we counted down the somber, unrecognizable songs one by one, each featuring a soloist who, while talented, sang higher than seemed safe.

Manne-CANT post 2

As soon as the last la Navidad was warbled, we ran out of there faster than my mascara. Did I mention Stephen Colbert was interviewing Meryl Streep on the stage next door?

“Shut Your Neck, I Mean, Face Right Now” (Exhibit 2 of 3)

This next story really needs no introduction. Here’s the message I received from my manager last Friday:

Karla-squirrel-tattoo

“I Manne-CAN’T Believe It” (Exhibit 3 of 3)

Last Wednesday morning, I stepped into the elevator at work and secretly played my favorite “I Wonder What Floor S/He’s Getting Off On” game. As usual, I correctly predicted another “8th floor.” (When the purse matches the shoes, or the dress socks are festively patterned, it’s definitely an 8th floor.)

This time, though, when the elevator doors opened, I spotted something…unusual. A woman, sitting in a chair near the coffee machine, frozen in place. Her hair had a strange, dull luster and she stared blankly into the distance.

Is that a…is she a…?

Manne-CANT post 3
I’ve chosen to protect her identity. Given the length of her skirt, I think you can understand why.

Yes. It was a mannequin. (Excuse me, “pulse-challenged,” as we’ve been coached to say by our Diversity & Inclusion team.) Enjoying Starbucks and playing Candy Crush like any normal employee at 8am on a Wednesday. She and I proceeded to have a lengthy conversation about “the 7th floors,” and when I returned to my own floor, I asked everyone I could find:

“Did you know the robots have already taken over?”

“I think it’s a decoy,” Karla replied, scratching her new neck tattoo. “Like the fake dog cut-outs they put in fields to keep geese away. They want to stop us from going to the 8th floor and stealing the good coffee.”

That’s a solid theory, Karla. But if I need to start updating my resume, you’ll let me know, right? …Right?

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It’s because Mercury’s in retrograde, isn’t it?

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Food, Lists, Veganiness

Save Money and More: My Top 5 Vegan Food Hacks

Everywhere I turn, I hear people say, “How can I be more like Go Jules Go? What’s up with this vegan thing? What do you eat? Do you save money?”

I’ve only been vegan for two years, but I’ve been a foodie for 35 and counting, which means you can be dang sure I’ve found a way to eat fabulous fare even after parting ways with my old standbys, cheese and bacon.

Whether you’re interested in improving your health, spending less money, or putting your dollars towards preserving the planet and protecting animals, just a few vegan food choices here and there can truly rock (y)our world (and your wallet).

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

Go Jules Go’s Top 5 Money-Saving Vegan Food Hacks

1. Frozen potato and onion pierogies

pierogies

Poppy’s brand pierogies are currently EIGHTY CENTS a package at my local New Jersey ShopRite. Caramelize an onion, maybe toss in some bell pepper or spinach, and put your carb-o-phobia on hold while you enjoy this filling meal for two. (I dip mine in ketchup…shhh.)

2. MUNG BEANS (yes, they demand all caps)

mung-beans

I buy these little green gems in bulk from Whole Foods and, when combined with onion, garlic, ginger and coconut milk, you have yourself a fine ass curry. They taste like a delicious split pea-bean hybrid, and they’re a nice change of pace from your standard lentils and legumes. (In fact, Just brand is coming out with a vegan scrambled egg liquid made out of mung beans!)

3. Peanut (satay) sauce 

peanut-sauce-bowl-2

Need I say more?  Use some of that leftover fresh garlic and ginger from your mung bean curry, and – bam! Put over pasta, stir fry, rice/grain bowls, even raw cabbage/veggies for a salad… you can’t go wrong. You can prepare ahead of time if you’re entertaining (it’s a major crowd-pleaser) and it even freezes pretty well. My go-to recipe is a lot like this, with some lime juice and cilantro thrown in.

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When it comes to peanut sauce, the sky’s the limit! (With Sriracha hearts because I’m a show-off.)

4. Banana ice cream

banana-ice-cream
What? You think it looks like… YOU’RE SO IMMATURE.

Do you like watching freezer-burned bananas turn into creamy dog doo deliciousness? This “recipe” is that magical! Peel a couple of ripe bananas, cut them into chunks, and pop them in the freezer for a few hours. (I don’t recommend leaving them in there for more than 24 hours.) Then, put them in a food processor and let it go. Wait at least a minute or two, and you’ll have yourself some silky smooth banana fro-yo. You can add chocolate chips, peanut butter, cocoa, strawberries, your lost dreams of ever working on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, whatever. It’s miraculous! (AND cheap. AND healthy. You’re welcome.)

5. V-Dog kibble

Uncle-jesse-v-dog

Hear me out. After gobs of research and learning that vets prescribe plant-based kibble to dogs with skin conditions, I switched my 8-year-old pooch, Uncle Jesse, to V-Dog. (Whereupon he immediately rejected the old stuff.) That was over a year ago and he’s crushing it, with a flawless bill of health from his normal vet. While this decision wasn’t financially driven, it turns out V-Dog costs about half of what I was spending on high-end animal-based kibble. (It smells so decent I might actually try it. If I do I promise to blog about it.)

vegan-Uncle-jesse

And because I love you – a bonus hack!

6. InstaPot Hummus

InstaPot
KNEEL BEFORE ME AND BEHOLD MY AWESOME POWER TO ROAST, RICE COOK, STEAM, PRESSURE COOK, STERILIZE, SEAR, SAUTEE, AND SLOW COOK!

If you’re one of the proud new owners of an InstaPot, the countertop multi-cooker on crack and Amazon’s #1 Christmas gift for “The Person You Care About But Also Resent Because They’re Implicitly Forcing You to Feed Into the Consumerist Machine to Prove Your Affection,” this recipe is for you! My manager who totally reads this blog and did I mention she is the cat’s meow? sent me this amazing InstaPot hummus recipe using dried chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans). The trick is using the warm, cooked beans and cooking liquid to whip ’em into a pillowy bean dream after they’re done in the iPot (I’m trademarking that). Grab a bag of dried chickpeas for about $1.00 and don’t do what I did yesterday, which is cave to convenience.

hummus-rip-off
Guess how much. No, no. Just guess. FOUR DOLLARS. FOUR. DOLLARS!!

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Have you tried (or would you try) any of these? Have any other plant-based hacks?

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Blogging, Lists, Uncle Jesse

Dogs Are Better Than Babies. So Trade Yours, Don.

Today things get ugly. As ugly as your babies. I kid, I kid.

Grab your boxing gloves, Chipmunks, because Don, of don of all trades, and I are going head-to-head over:

Dogs vs. Babies

Dogs-vs-Babies-Don-Jules

We each get up to ten points to make our case. Don may be a father, lawyer and cop, but totally lets me boss him around little does this man-of-allegedly-every-occupation know, I have experience in blog debates. Many moons ago, Third Husband proposed we discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of Glee, and I think we can all agree that after taking a slushie to the face, I emerged the clear victor.

Sweet, sweet, cherry-flavored victory.
Sweet, sweet, cherry-flavored victory.

I’m a little scared to read Don’s opposing argument, though. Not because I’m worried about valid points, god no, but because he’s a shamelessly verbose, terrible person with zero filter; there’s no telling where he’ll take this. He’s already cursed and posted fake sonogram pictures on my Facebook wall, sending both my mother and mother-in-law into a frenzy:

Don's caption? "Awesome...SOOOOOO excited for you guys!!"
Don’s caption? “Awesome…SOOOOOO excited for you guys!!”

So, Don. As much as I like to play dirty, get your mind out of the gutter and grab the leash (that one’s just killing you, isn’t it?). By the time you’re through reading this, you’ll be ready to trade your ten thousand sticky offspring for a downy-soft ‘doodle.

Why Dogs Doodles Are Better Than Babies

1. They sleep a lot.

Like, a lot a lot. Soooo much.
Like, a lot a lot. Soooo much.

2. They’re not smart enough for college (can you spell S-A-V-I-N-G-S?).

Dogs-vs-Babies-Uncle-Jesse-scholar

3. They don’t bug you when you’re hungover sick.

I'll be here. If you need me. Remote's by your pillow.
I’ll be here. If you need me. Remote’s by your pillow.

4. They understand Full House quotes at 10 weeks old.

5. You get to pick the cartoons / car music.

None of this creepy sh*t.
None of this creepy sh*t.

6. No back talk.

Though they may judge you with their incredibly soulful eyes.
Just incredibly telling soulful gazes.

7. Chick / Hunk magnet.

We are a HUGE hit with the neighborhood AARF AARP, crowd.
HUGE hit with the neighborhood AARF, I mean, AARP crowd.

8. As long as you feed them regularly, they don’t judge your alcohol dependency.

Okay maybe a little.
I think he’s just hungry.

9. You get to pick their halloween costumes. Indefinitely.

Hakuna matata, dog owners. DYFS is just for humans.
Hakuna matata, dog owners. DYFS is just for humans.

10. You don’t have to deal with other dogs’ parents if you don’t want to.

Although everyone knows 'dog people' are a superior breed.
Although everyone knows ‘dog people’ are a superior breed.

Note how I kept this nice and short, for your reading pleasure. Because I care about you, and respect your time, Debate Decision-makers. Unlike some people.

I look forward to hearing how right I am. (In case you missed it, here’s the link to Don’s inferior opposing argument.)

Did I miss any reasons why dogs are better than rug rats?

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