Hi, I'm Karen but I'm better known around the web as Sassymonkey. Most days you can find me on Twitter and at BlogHer.com where I am a Community Moderator. Find out more.

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Friday Links July 18

July has felt... hard. It's been full of deep thoughts, hard questions, and scary things. These things come in cycles. I know this. I've been feeling quiet and contemplative. I've been disconnecting a bit more, both in good ways and in bad. Some of these links will make you think. Some will make you dream. Hopefully none of them will make you want to disconnect. 

Friday Links July 18 - Sassymonkey.ca




Friday Links July 4

I am so happy it's Friday. Wait, it is Friday right? Canada Day fell on a Tuesday and I took it off and I've been confused as heck about what day it is all week. Tuesdays off work are really confusing. 

Friday Links: July 4

  • Working out isn't enough: Advice for Desk Workers I've been trying to take short breaks to walk around more often but it's surprisingly difficult. Granted I've also been exceptionally lazy this week about exercising (well, minus that 5k on Canada Day) because I've been all the tired. 
  • What to bring to a Vacation Rental Kitchen  I've been very tempted to bring a chef's knife but I'm always worried about forgetting it. Plus it's vacation. We make do with what's provided. Because we drive, we do totally bring a box filled with things like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pasta, rice, our favourite spices/spice blends, etc. We have a stockpile of these things. It doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money buying small sizes when we get to our location. Last year we also brought homemade pancake mix and granola. Oh! I should make granola this weekend. 
  • How to Make 10% Better Decisions I think I like this. I think I like this a lot. I think many of us tend to think we have to make big changes and we need to do them NOW. But small change is good. Small incremental changes can have big results. What if instead of focusing on how I don't eat enough servings of fruit every day, I focus for having a piece with breakfast? That's 10% better than I've been doing. That do to list that never gets finished? What if I focus on just getting one more item crossed off? 10% improvement is much, much better than not doing anything at all becasue it seems like too much or too hard. 
  • Stop Explaining, Justifying -- Live Free Own your priorities. Not apologizing doesn't mean you are being an ass about things. (Well, unless you are. But I bet you are not.) Be you. Set your priorities. Own them. No apologies. 
  • Why Working Harder Doesn't Always Work We need downtime. We need to recharge. Ever notice that when you really need a break and you push through to finish that item on your to do list, it takes you twice as long than if you had taken the break and then finished the task? 
  • Trust Your Training Yes. Just yes. 
  • What Keeps You Up At Night?  Do you have "bedtime procrastination"? Sometimes I do but I really love sleep. And my bed. And my pillow. Though we don't have a set time we like to go to bed. Maybe we should? 
  • 20 Things I've Learned About Being a Grown Up Maturity is measured by how well you handle all the shit life has to throw at you. *nods*



Where Was I 10 Years Ago? At the Beginning of the Next

Where Was I 10 Years Ago? At the Beginning of the Next

When I pulled out my summer clothes a few weeks ago, I found myself lingering over a black and white striped halter dress. I realized it was ten years old. I had splurged on it and worn it for my 25th birthday, which was by far one of my least awesome birthdays but at least I had an awesome dress. I can still wear that dress, and do, but it's interesting to me how far that dress has travelled with me and how I both am and am not the same person who wore it a decade ago.

Ten years ago I was kind of lost. I was living in Montreal and struggling financially. I was lucky to have a job and it was a decent first "real" job. It paid about as much as you would expect a first job to pay, which is to say not enough to make student loan payments, pay rent, and eat. But they liked me and liked my work. They weren't the most ideal employers. It was a small company and they had a habit of forgetting we needed to be paid every two weeks (yes! every two weeks! always!) because they were not paid every two weeks. We went through cycles where we were insanely busy and worked long, long hours. It was good and not good, as many jobs are, but there wasn't much a future in what I was doing. If I was lucky, I could ride it out for two or three more years at the most, but that didn't seem like a very good option.

It wasn't just the job that was making me feel unsettled. I was increasingly feeling like I didn't have much of future where I was. Full stop. I didn't have many job prospects. I was friendly with my coworkers but they weren't really people I would hang around with often outside of work. Many of my friends had left the city when they finished university. My boyfriend and I and recently split. I had a nice roommate (a rarity!) but she was still a student and I was not. I didn't want to live a student lifestyle anymore. I felt stuck. Stagnant.

The money stress was piling up on me. I was attempting to make payments on four different student loans, all of which I was thankful for but it was frustrating and emotionally draining to negotiate payments and payment relief programs with four different entities. I really needed to make more money. Not a lot but enough to pay for the loans and rent and food.

I was quietly starting to explore options. In the fall of 2004 I took a couple of evening classes. I started my first blog. When the time for voluntary layoffs came around at my job, early in 2005, I informed them I wanted one. I used that course, my zomg all the overtime hours bonus, and moved myself to a new city and a new career. I thought. I worked. I made a new beginning.

Ten years ago I was at the beginning of the next. The next what? The next everything. The next city. The next job. The next life. The next.


Friday Links, June 20

I wasn't really slacking. I've just been BUSY. I swear. I've been running and writing (though obviously not here) and hatching crazy schemes. 



The People Who Live Inside My Computer Are Real

"Social media is for narcissists."

I've lost count of how many times it's been said to me. It's a popular refrain among people who don't use or understand social media. It's been said by people I don't know. It's been said to me by family, as they sat at my table, eating the food social media helps provide.

I bristle.

They don't understand.

They don't understand social media saves me every single day. They don't understand it's not about the platforms. It's not about Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. It's about the people -- my people.

I've pretty much always been the person who doesn't quite fit. I've never really marched to the same rhythm. I'm a square peg in a land of round holes. But I found my people on the internet.

Take these two:

The People Who Live Inside My Computer Are Real | Sassymonkey.ca

Tarrant and Denise at BlogHer Food '14 

I have rarely gone more than a couple of days without talking to either Denise or Tarrant since... 1999? 2000? The only time I've gone for more than week without talking to them is when I've been on internetless vacations. I met them for the first time "in real life" in 2003. I've stayed at their house. They've rescued me (and Lee) from having to sleep on the floor at a gate in O'Hare. I've watched their children grow. I watched them become grandmothers. They've seen me grow and change. I amuse them and sometimes exasperate them. They know my strengths and weakness and know when I need to be told to get the hell over myself. They are real.

And this one:

The People Who Live Inside My Computer Are Real | Sassymonkey.ca

Jenna and Me, the first time I visited her house for her birthday

Jenna commented on my very first BlogHer.com post but we wouldn't really connect and become true friends for another four years. The first time we met in person was in Denise and Tarrant's hotel room at BlogHer '10 and something just clicked. (I'm sure the fact I was wearing a green dress at the time helped mark me as a kindred spirit -- she does love her green.) We instant message. We text. We reach out when we're having a hard time to say, "Hey. I'm struggling. I need you to remind me to take care of me." When life gets complicated we drink gin. We brought our husbands to BlogHer '11, each hoping they'd hit it off while each of them said, "Pfft! I'm good. I don't need a new friend." Then they met and their bromance was born. (It's pretty awesome.) We visit. We send their kids presents. She is real. They are real.

And her:

The People Who Live Inside My Computer Are Real | Sassymonkey.ca

Me and Cat - I knew her before she had purple hair.

Cat was the first person I knew who had a blog but we didn't meet online. We met when we both worked at the McGill Bookstore. I was a student and she started as a full time employee a couple of months later. We really became friends after a few of us discovered when her birthday was and surprised her with a cake and balloons. I've visited her in the hospital and was in her wedding. But then I moved away. Had it not been for social media it may have been the end of our friendship. I'm a horrible pen pal. Social media lets me see how her day-to-day is going when we don't have time to text or instant message or email. We schedule visits via instant message. We make plans. We share photos. We make glitter dinosaur armies. Social media doesn't just help makes friends, it helps keep them. She is real.

These are the people I interact with daily. There are others, of course, but these are the people who let me be me. They accept I'm a square peg and don't try to squeeze me into round holes. They don't try to make me fit because I'm perfectly fine the way I am.

Social media is a lot of things. Maybe to people who don't understand it -- who don't want to understand it -- it does look like narcissism to think anyone cares what we put out in the vast internet. And that's okay. They don't have to understand it or do it. But don't tell me social media is nothing. Don't tell me the people who live inside my computer and phone aren't real. They know me. They accept me. They love me just as I am. And that's so very real.