Random Recommendations (in no particular order):
The topic this month for YA Outside the Lines is giving advice and/or providing some random recommendations. I have many recommendations, of all varieties, in an array of subject areas. I will list some of my most random ones below. I hope some of you find them helpful.
1. Be kind to yourself. Yes, this sounds pretty obvious. And maybe you did an eyeroll when you read that, but it’s true. Be kind. No matter where you are on your journey, practice compassion for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for not having done “a” or spending too much time on “b” or saying the wrong thing about “c.” Resist the temptation to bully yourself with negative thoughts that, most often, simply aren’t true. And, please stop comparing yourself/your career/your house/your car/your fill-in-the-blank-here with anyone else’s life/career/house/car/fill-in-the-blank. It isn’t healthy and it lacks perspective. Ask yourself: Would I treat someone else the way I’m treating myself? More often than not, you wouldn’t. You’re human and flawed and learning... We are all works in progress.
2. Bananas mashed in a bowl with chunky peanut butter. You’re welcome.
3. If you’re a writer, consider joining a writers’ group. There’s nothing like meeting regularly with a group of fellow writers to find support and get feedback on your work whenever you need it and wherever you are in the process. Sometimes you may need to shop around a bit for the right group, but it’s well worth the effort. And, don’t use this pandemic as an excuse not to meet. Zoom works well enough.
4. Treat yourself at least once a day. This could be five minutes of alone-time in a quiet place (free), a twenty-minute nap (also free), a hike through the woods (free, free, free), a piece of chocolate, a cup of coffee from your favorite shop, a facial, an episode of your favorite TV show, thirty minutes to read or journal during a hectic day… You get the picture. Treat yourself. You deserve it.
5. Some products/random items I swear by… Frownies. They work. I also love my jade face roller, castor oil (for lash health/growth), DIY sugar scrubs, anything by Caudalie, Supergoop (for SPF, also paraben-free, protect the skin!), Instantly Ageless (a temporary but effective eye-bag remover for a 4-5-hour fix), Virtue haircare products (a bit pricey, but worth it in my opinion, especially if you’re hair isn’t naturally thick-bouncy-flowy-shampoo-commercial worthy), Stumptown Coffee (forget the fancy maker; it’s all about the beans), a silk pillowcase, a portable essential oil diffuser, and a list of books to be read.
6. And speaking of books to be read… Read a lot. Yes, I know. If you’re a writer this goes without saying. But it’s true. Active reading – asking yourself what works; what the writer is doing with tense, structure, style, characterization, plot, theme etc., etc., will help make you a better writer and reader.
7. The Minimalist Baker has the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever: https://minimalistbaker.com/classic-vegan-chocolate-chip-cookies-1-bowl/ (P.S. They’re easy to make even for non-bakers like me, plus they’re vegan. Yum.)
8. Some of my favorite shows to watch at the moment (from mindless to suspenseful, plus some very recent discoveries; no judgement, please): The Real Housewives of NY and/or Beverly Hills; Big Little Lies; The Good Place; Dead to Me; The Reckoning; Somebody Feed Phil; Street Food; The Queen’s Gambit; Dirty John (Season 1); Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel; The Millionaire Matchmaker; The Affair; Broadchurch; Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy; Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat; Best Leftovers Ever; and Alone.
9. Make daily and/or weekly lists of things you want to accomplish and cross the items off as you do.
10. Podcasts. I discovered I love podcasts about two years ago. I play them on walks, in the car, while doing chores, etc., etc. I’ve learned so much and gained perspective. Plus, if you’re a writer, you may just be inspired by the storytelling techniques. There are so many podcasts out there to try. Some of my favorites include Becoming Wise, Dare to Lead with Brené Brown, Beautiful Anonymous, Crime Junkie, Full Body Chills, Nice White Parents, Spooked, Serial, and Where Should We Begin.
11. Floss daily.
12. Dry eyes? From all the time you spend Zooming on screens and working on your manuscript…? I’ve found the magical elixir (at least it works for me). Ready for it? Black currant oil capsules.
12. Looking for an agent or editor? Do your homework. Study the agent’s and editor’s lists of authors and titles before sending your work. Would your work be a nice fit? If not, keep looking and researching. Become an expert on who’s who as you search for the perfectly tailored list to send your work.