Category Archives: ADVICE

For the tax preparation procrastinator

FREE TAX USA EBATESThose lucky ducks who receive fatty refunds filed as soon as you got your W2.  Those of us who have to pay up come tax time aren’t in any rush.  Well, there’s no more time for dicking around.  Tomorrow is the day.  Avoid Turbo Tax.  Some states aren’t accepting the e-filings from Turbo Tax due to wide-scale fraud perpetrated using the software to file fake returns.  I asked an accountant friend which program he used, and he recommended freetaxusa.com.  It works just like Turbotax – by prompting you with a series of inquires and totaling your refund or payment as you go, but it costs much less and is a easier to use.  Currently through Ebates, you can get 25% cash back on your freetaxusa.com purchase as well as a 10% off coupon to apply to the state filing charge of $12.95.  With applicable discounts, you can get your taxes done quickly and efficiently for about $10.  And if you are wondering if it is just too hard, I have employee wages, independent contractor income requiring a schedule C, investment earnings and losses, and a number of business write offs.  Even with all those complicating factors, I was still able to complete the assignment in less than 2 hours.  It’s not too late procrastinators.FREETAXUSA

In-Flaws

BURRUSS TUCKER DRAMAI’m not going to pretend there aren’t things I don’t miss about my ex.  I wouldn’t have been with him for close to a decade if he didn’t have some redeeming qualities.  Since we’ve split, we rarely talk.  His hateful parents were a major reason we broke up.  They aren’t very nice.  They don’t seem to like anyone.  They participate in long estrangements from family for flimsy reasons.  They grumble.  They complain.  Too cowardly to say it to your face, they would rather just passive aggressively back-bite.  I did not want to form a family amidst the discord.  And the thought of dealing with them over a lifetime felt like an emotional prison sentence destined to indefinitely ruin every holiday and cause innumerable conflicts.  My ex’s sister and husband just had a baby, and the parents came out to visit from another state.  After years of ill-feelings, not even a brand new little sweet baby could serve to keep the peace.  The parents departed early leaving behind a dirty diaper full of fermenting bad feelings.IN LAW DRAMAIn the wake of their departure, I got the inevitable text from the son-in-law with concerns he didn’t know how much longer he could take it.  The hateful parents are causing a major strain on the marriage even from hundreds of miles away.  I can’t help but feel like I dodged a bullet getting out when I did.  Even though my ex has a number of wonderful qualities, his inability to appropriately deal with his unreasonable parents spelled disaster for the future of our union.  If you don’t like your partner’s family, don’t get married because it can only really play out two ways.  Either 1) suck it up and forever deal with people who despise you; or 2) set boundaries limiting your contact with the mean ones which in turn distances your partner from his family thereby breeding resentment in your relationship.  See why this will never work?  Don’t even bother.MONSTER IN LAW

Can You Afford It?

SUZE ORMAN DENIALDo you ever watch Suze Orman?  She includes a segment at the end of her show where she “denies” or “approves” purchases based on an unknown algorithm.  I’ve been thinking on whether it’s ethical for me to encourage someone to spend on a trip that he arguably can’t afford.  Yes, he could throw the trip on credit cards, but I don’t want a few days on white sandy beaches to turn into years of indebtedness.  Conversely, life is short.  And if you’ve ever seen a retiree try negotiate the steps of Prague Castle, you know you don’t want to save your most adventurous traveling for your financially solvent, but psychically feeble golden years.  I know some of my more affluent girlfriends might opt to pay a larger share of the bill just to keep everybody happy, but something about that doesn’t sit quite right.  That sort of imbalance breeds resentment over time.RESENTMENTAt a minimum, before splurging, you gotta have a year of living expenses saved up, a maxed IRA contribution, no credit card debt, and the money for the splurge saved up separately.  Without those basics in order, approval for the purchase must be DENIED.  But then again, who am I to tell someone else how to spend his money?  If I limit my social invitations only to folks that fit into that aforementioned category of preparedness, I would be engaging in most activities alone.  It’s your money and ultimately you must decide how to negotiate the tightrope walk between adventure and safety net. TIGHTROPE

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

ESSENTIALISMI’m reading a really fantastic book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of LessGreg McKeown has shifted my perspective and put a name to a philosophy I’ve dabbled with for years.  I was dithering over a few issues, and I’ve already used the standards and methods offered in Essentialism to make key decisions.  Much messiness results from quick yeses and slow nos.  The philosophy of Essentialism has me taught to celebrate and embrace “No,” and the book provides plenty of logical and well-backed explanations for why your life improves when you have the courage to eliminate the people-pleasing bullshit.  As I’ve started applying the principles consistently, I’ve found liberation and a drastic reduction in stress.  As your time frees up, this book recommends you sleep more to further enhance productivity.  In sum, this bestseller is full of advice you actually want to follow.CLEAR NO

On apologizing when you aren’t sorry

RETROGRADEThose of you who read your horoscopes this month know Mercury just went out of retrograde yesterday.  Well, before that pesky planet could come correct, I stepped in it with a number of important authority figures in my life.  Ugh.  CARRIE STEPPED IN ITWhile in hindsight, I could have handled the situations with more grace, there is kernel of righteousness to my actions in both scenarios.  Since my actions are guided by the best intentions, I find it most difficult to choke out an apology just because the end result wasn’t ideal.  FORCED APOLOGYEven though I’ve designed my life to involve the least amount of shit eating possible, sometimes, we all have to eat it to smooth things over when the power dynamic is unequal.  EAT YO PIETake responsibility for your short-coming in the situation.  In one of the aforementioned instances, someone took offense to my directness, so I asked forgiveness for my “impertinent tone.”  I won’t apologize for the content of the sentiment because it was right on.  The dickhead interrupted my class talking loudly with a total lack of courtesy, mindfulness, and respect.  I turned to him and said, “Can this wait?  It’s really distracting.”  He didn’t like me calling him out on his bad behavior in front of the class.  Now because his ego is wounded over his rudeness, I have to apologize because he didn’t like the sound of the honest truth?  I’m happy to take responsibility for my delivery, but I won’t take on the responsibility for his bad behavior.  APOLOGIZING EGOWithout excusing or abdicating your part in the conflict, narrowly tailor your apology to include only the conduct for which you are truly sorry.  There’s no need to give away all your power especially when the other party shares in a good portion of the blame.  That said, if you really blew it, own your fuck-up completely.  There’s nothing grosser than a weasel trying to wriggle out of responsibility.WEASEL

Monday Morning Management Meeting: Missing Link

LINKEDIN DALIEnough with the fucking LinkedIn.  I must get a dozen LinkedIn invitations a month.  I barely know most of the people who send them, and we have no professional affiliation.  Even if we did, I wouldn’t respond to their invitations anyway.  First of all, LinkedIn was hacked, doesn’t anyone remember that?  Secondly, LinkedIn continues to get sued for a number of shady tactics and privacy violations, including for (allegedly) sending out emails to users contacts without permission and allowing paid subscribers to search for references of other members without consent.  The site imports contacts and sends those annoying “connect on LinkedIn” emails to everyone you ever knew, including your exes.  You know how many LinkedIn invitations I’ve gotten from long lost exes?  Does he really want to reconnect or did LinkedIn just hijack his contacts?  See why this site is rife with conflict?  I won’t participate.  Let me ask all you LinkedIn enthusiasts: has it done shit for your career?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Instead of thinning out your impact with such an impersonal approach, apply focused energy to building relationships with a few key people who can really help get you where you want to go. LINKEDIN SUPPORT GROUP

No Complaining Weekend Challenge

NEVER COMPLAIN NEVER EXPLAINThis weekend, challenge yourself to stop complaining.  From Friday to Sunday, every time you start to bitch – stop.  Substitute a positive statement or say nothing.  For some of us, it’s going to be a really quiet weekend. STOP WHINING

 

give it a year

WORKING GIRLProfessionally, the last five years have been difficult for many folks, myself included.  My undergraduate degree in philosophy prepared me to think deep thoughts while working retail, so I went the great fallback route and got a law degree to make my mom happy.  I litigated asses for a few years, hated it, and got swept up in the mass layoffs of 2009.  Shortly thereafter, my mom got terminally ill and I concentrated on seeing her through her last days in dignity.  Facing the brevity of life, I couldn’t go back to my soul-suck of career as a paper-pushing attorney.

So a little over a year ago against everyone’s expectations, I chose to pursue what is essentially a mythical career: a full-time yoga teacher.  I know you are rolling your eyes.  Everyone is a yoga instructor.  I get it.  Judge away.  You think I don’t get my share of jaw drops when I tell people I’m a licensed attorney teaching yoga full time?  Girl, please.  I’m not going to bore you with my credentials because I have nothing to prove, but let’s just say I have quite a bit more training than some eight week program at a local studio.  This decision was not made on a whim, I’ve been practicing and teaching for several years.YOGINI

I bargained with myself that I would give it a year; work hard, take every opportunity to teach, and ride out the financial valleys and peaks of this unpredictable career.  Not everyday was a success story.  I taught long stretches without a day off, on holidays, and subbed constantly.  Soon my income began to reflect my commitment level.  I’m doing exactly what I want to do and I couldn’t be happier.  I was a good attorney, but I’m an exceptional teacher.  I only feel comfortable saying that because I’ve worked hard to make it true (to the tune of 576+classes last year).BIKRAM CHILE

It isn’t too late to do what you want.  Yeah, it may require sacrifice, compromise, and strategic planning.  It will require you to bravely defy expectations, embrace humility, and realign priorities.  When you do get your ass on the golden path towards your soul’s rightful journey, your fate will rise up to meet you as the wind presses you towards your destiny.  Why spend your life slugging through the muddy path of resistance?  NEVERENDING STORYGive it at least a year.  Give it everything you’ve got.  Even if you fail miserably, at least you’ll avoid the tragic regret of abandoned dreams.  The more likely outcome is that you’ll succeed and never look back.FOLLOW YOUR HEART

 

throw the baby shower out with the bath water

KOURTNEY KARDASHIAN BABY SHOWERJust got back from a baby shower.  Said my Hellos.  I stayed 30 minutes because there was nothing for me at this party.  First, it was one of those invite the whole family type showers and I don’t have a kid or husband to reluctantly drag.  The mutual co-worker who was supposed to attend with me cancelled (ugh, 4th time in a row this bitch has bailed on concrete plans).  I showed up with my thick stack of Dr. Suess books elegantly wrapped.  I dropped the present off at the designated table occupied by several medium-sized gift bags.   I greeted the mom-to-be who was dressed in a tight, fuchsia, cotton, ruched tube dress.  She looked like a raspberry.  I told her as much, which in hindsight she may not have appreciated, but I love raspberries so I didn’t intend the comment pejoratively.  Dad-to-be and I chatted for awhile, but I noticed the side-eye of the older ladies when our conversation extended beyond 5 minutes of appropriate small talk.  Who is that predatory single woman circling the dad-in-waiting?  Please.  There are no secret yearnings.  Excuse the blatant bitchery, but if I wanted him I could have him a year ago when we first met and he was drooling all over himself.HOLLY MADISON BABY SHOWER

After I was done talking to the two guests of honor, I wandered around a little bit and introduced myself to a few other folks standing solo.  Nobody seemed very interested in small talk, and it’s not my strength anyway.  When in doubt, hit the buffet, right?  Well you already know that I refer to buffets at barffets and am never in the mood for a group feeding.  This spread was particularly bleak.  Two circular trays of Subway-style sandwiches of dubious origin and questionable content.  The fold-out tables lacked proper placards describing the menu.  Just down from the sandwich wheels where huge bowls of standard potato chips.  Why do people do this?  Put out enough potato chips to feed and army just to watch them soften into stale after the first hour.  Plate of pickles, ok, I get the nod to pregnancy cravings.   A couple of large bowls of mystery potato-salad glop remained untouched.  The beverage options included electric yellow “lemonade” and something that looked like soda.  Not a cupcake in sight.  Killing time with mindless eating would not be an option at this shindig.BABY BUMCAKES

The one activity provided for the children was butcher paper on the tables and crayons.  I made a doodle.  I met a couple kids.  I drank some neon lemonade.  Then I split.  There was nothing left for me.KROY KIM

To that end, if you want people to stay at your baby shower for more than the obligatory 30 minutes, consider the following:

1) With regard to length. 2 hours maximum.  This one was scheduled for a tedious 3.  I like the idea of a short and sweet 90 minutes.

2) Delicious food.  Lots of options.  Baked goods.  Simple non-dressed salads.  Fruit. Cheese. Crudites. Readily available sweets. Warm offerings.  Coffee. Tea. Iced Tea. Water.  I personally prefer an elegant seated brunch.JESSICA SIMPSON

3) Make introductions.  Reign in loners.  Ensure everyone feels included.WIZ AND AMBER

4) Create intimate seating arrangements to encourage eating, drinking, and conversation.EVEYLN LOZADA

5) Designate a separate (but within eyeshot/earshot of helicopter parents) fun space for the kids.MINNIE DRIVER

6) It’s fine if you aren’t into “baby games,” but do provide some sort of entertainment or fun.  Music. Dancing. Karaoke. Ice your own cupcake.  Whatever.  These activities start conversations and save people from dreaded awkward mingling.MINDY WEISS

7) Attentive hosting takes work, the preggo shouldn’t be hosting her own baby shower, but these two did it as a couple.  Designate a host devoted to socially lubricating the shower.  Mothers and mothers-in-law love this job.KRIS AND KOURTNEY KARDASHIAN