Are Your Problems Caused By Being Tired and Sleep Deprived?

For the past few months, I’ve been getting glorious sleep. Like, incredible, way more than just adequate sleep. I’ve been getting indulgent, 9-13 hour a night sleep. I’ve been prioritizing sleep heavily. More than socializing and partying and exercising and work.  And it’s been amazing.

With over 8.5 hours of sleep a night, my mind is clearer, my thoughts flow easier, I remember people’s names, facts stick with me, and I have much more positive energy and a way calmer outlook. Sleeping more is like eating 5 pounds of broccoli and exercising for 3 hours and working for 4 extra hours and going to a spa and getting a massage and a facial and a PhD all rolled up in one. Well, maybe not the PhD part exactly. But close.

I never realized that I needed more than nine hours of sleep before, because most people never get that, and it’s not known as ‘normal.’ And most of my life I’m pretty sure I’ve been walking around in a sleep deprived haze. Everything can seem a little harder to process when you’re sleep deprived- my feelings always felt a bit ‘gray.’ My thoughts always felt a bit duller when lacking sleep, and it was much harder hard to remember things or be infused with any kind of positive energy when running on less than eight sleep-filled hours.

My friend and fellow thirty-something coworker, Natasha, who I wrote all about in Playing Dress Up In Your Thirties, is one of my sleep inspirations. She sometimes races back to our hotel after work in order to get to sleep even faster- she claims she needs ‘instant sleep’ in order to get her necessary ten plus hours of sleep in before the next early workday and has no shame about grabbing the hours she needs. It’s pretty amazing to watch someone brag about making sure they get lots of sleep as opposed to bragging about being soooo busy all the time. It’s extremely refreshing to see someone prioritize such an important but seldom-respected part of a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve been getting a lot less sleep in the past few days because of my crazy work schedule in an exciting new city (St Louis), where I’ve really enjoyed spending every waking moment (pun intended) exploring. I haven’t been able to always race back to my hotel and get my much-needed sleep. And I can feel an extreme difference in my thought patterns. It’s been worth it to explore the city, but it’s still not a great feeling.

I intend to prioritize sleep once again, and stop staying up so late. Starting now. And soon I will get back to my amazing nine to thirteen hours in bed. Goodnight!

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Missing Out by Not Having a Wedding

The other night I watched the first episode of the Netflix documentary series, Chelsea Does. It’s a non-fiction show by comedian Chelsea Handler where she explores one topic in-depth each episode, including topics like racism, silicon valley and marriage.

The first episode is about marriage. Chelsea says she’s never been one to fantasize about weddings. And quite frankly, neither have I.  The idea of walking down the aisle and being the center of attention sounds very unappealing to me.

But you know what does sound appealing? The celebration of friendship that weddings offer. Think about it – your closest pals give speeches, they throw you a bridesmaid party, and they write sweet, sentimental things about you in scrapbooks. Also, sometimes your bachelorette or bridal shower is the one time in your life that all of your female friends will be together. How awesome is that? It’s pretty amazing. I love going to bridal events and meeting all of the other friends my friends have from different periods of their lives.

So when I think about not yet being married or having a wedding, I think about missing out on those friend bonding experiences.

Maybe there should be an alternate event for those non-married folks? Like a mandatory all-close-friend birthday getaway?

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Should I Play the Lottery In My Thirties?

Last week the Powerball jackpot was 1.5 billion dollars. A bunch of my friends bought tickets and a few of them even won…four whole dollars.

When one of my friends first told me he went and bought a bunch of tickets, I’ll be honest, I was little upset with the idea. He asked me if I was going to buy any myself, and I replied with a haughty, ‘no, I think I’m going to invest my money and save it, thank you very much.’

I kinda felt amazingly proud of myself- the lottery (and gambling in general) are things that I can easily control my response to and I value that about myself. I have insane self-control when it comes to spending money on things that I consider wasteful. I don’t know if I’ve ever purchased a lottery ticket- maybe I bought some for an ex many years ago.

However, something about my own response bugged me- was it really so bad to buy lotto tickets? That same week, I received an email newsletter from a writer I love, Ramit Sethi. He was talking about how silly it is to discourage people from buying lotto tickets, because, in a way, you’re discouraging them from dreaming. Ironically, he was actually writing in response to bloggers who scoffed at people who bought lotto tickets. He said:

Their articles [finance bloggers] reflect a total lack of understanding about WHY people buy lottery tickets. Hint: People who buy lottery tickets don’t really expect to win. People know the odds are astronomically, cosmically against them. So why would they do it?

The answer: They’re buying permission to dream about winning it.

If you think about it, $2 for a dream is well worth it. If you live a life where you’re counting pennies, isn’t it worth paying $2 for the dream of becoming fabulously wealthy — even if just for an hour? Hell, if you live a humdrum life of $60,000/year with 2% annual raises and one 2-day vacation a year, you can see why people would crave an escape.

By the way, there are a LOT of other ways we pay for an escape: Movies, fancy clothes, and so many more things. Isn’t it funny how lottery tickets cost less, but incur more wrath from judgmental people? It’s fun. It makes you feel good, and that’s a great reason to spend $2. OF COURSE lottery tickets are mathematically stupid. So is going to a bar to meet someone…but we do it anyway.

I never really thought about lotto tickets that way, but they’re a tiny price to pay to dream about something way bigger and more exciting in your life. Sure, we can all visualize and meditate and dream for free, but any tool that helps you feel happier and more passionate about life, is harmless, and only costs a couple of dollars, is absolutely, totally worth it. Use the tools that you discover- little indulgences here and there can help you feel better and dream exponentially bigger. Make the ‘silly’ choice sometimes.

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The Pressure of Being An Unmarried Woman in Your 30s

While the number of single people in the United States is increasing (it’s now 50.2% of Americans…wowza!), the stigma attached to being a single woman in her 30s has not lessened. This is according a study that was done at the University of Missouri in 2009.

Here’s one of the study’s authors explaining how the pressure feels for women:

“We found that never-married women’s social environments are characterized by pressure to conform to the conventional life pathway. This pressure was manifested in women feeling highly visible and invisible. Heightened visibility came from feelings of exposure and invisibility came from assumptions made by others.”

-Larry Ganong, co-chair of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

Apparently, unmarried women feel the pressure most acutely between the ages of 25 and 35. As an unmarried 33 year old woman, I can definitely relate. Nothing shocking in that study. But for me, the pressure is less about conforming to a conventional way of life, and more about these silent judgmental feelings I think that other, married or older, people are thinking about me – the big WHY of me not being married yet. WHY haven’t I been “found” yet? It’s like the first round of a football draft – and having this feeling of not being a first round pick.

It takes a lot of self-work to get over those feelings, especially if you are someone who consciously wants to find a life partner and get married.

Another interesting tidbit from the study is that after age 35, the pressure dies down a bit. I guess that’s when the hub-bub of engagements, weddings and  first babies dies down, and the collective societal pressure relaxes a bit.

If the trend of ‘singledom’ in American continues to increase, do you think the stigma will lessen? Or is the stigma biologically and evolutionarily ingrained in us so that we can continue desiring a mate and ultimately, children?

 

Online Dating In Your Thirties

Online dating in your thirties is awesome. It’s also terrifying. I know some people who hate online dating and others who swear by it. I’ve gone to weddings of friends who met their significant others online, and have also listened to multiple friends tell me that they’d never go on an online date again.

If you’re single in your thirties and have never given it a go, I urge you to try. Obviously, stay safe and meet in public places and all that good stuff- but otherwise, be open to new experiences. If you want to be single for awhile, that’s awesome and perfectly okay, but if you’re trying to meet someone and don’t want to do online dating because it seems scary or ‘not genuine,’ I think you’re potentially missing out. I know that some of you may swear that you only want to meet your special someone IRL (In Real Life), but I feel like online dating only increases the number of people you end up meeting, and helps you connect with people who you might have had a hard time finding otherwise.

You’re busy and have a lot of things going on in your life and career- it’s hard to meet people, especially in big cities where everyone’s busy and rushing around. You probably don’t want to limit yourself to guys/ladies you meet at bars, or solely date your coworkers. Sure I know a few couples who’ve met in one of those ways, but I believe that dating is actually kind of a numbers game, and online dating exponentially increases the number of people you can meet. And meeting new people can be fun in its own right– even if you don’t find your soulmate right away.

So without further ado, here are some free online dating sites and apps to try:

OkCupidokcupid.com

OkCupid is probably one of the most tried and true free dating apps out there. It’s been around for a long time- it launched in 2004- so it has a lot of users, which is good. It’s both a website and an app, so this is a good one if you don’t want to be online dating on your smartphone only. OkCupid is one of the most writing intensive of the online dating sites- it requires you to fill out a bunch of question and answer statements (what they call ‘essays’, but they’re not essays). It’s a great app for sheer breadth of people you can meet, and, if you’re a stickler for grammar, it really showcases whether someone is a good writer or not.

Tinder gotinder.com

Tinder is a swiping app only, and is not a website. You swipe people either left or right depending if you like them or not- so Tinder is the opposite of OkCupid, in that it’s not writing based- solely looks based. Tinder is known more as a hookup site, but isn’t limited to that…so it can be a bit on the hazy side in terms of what people want from being on the app. The swipes on this app are unlimited, so it’s known to become an addictive habit. Most people who hate online dating are Tinder users, so I don’t recommend it for beginners to the online dating world. I’m also not a big fan of Tinder anyway, because of their semi-icky nature and ageist policies.

Hingehinge.co

Most people don’t know Hinge, but it’s slowly becoming an online dating fan favorite. It works by connecting you to friends of friends on Facebook, so it’s kind of like being introduced to your friends’ friends’ friends without the trouble of an introduction.  You don’t have to do much to set it up, because, as it works through Facebook, it’s able to pull a lot of your data from your FB profile- so you don’t have to upload any new photos or write that much at all. The Hinge profile is a profile you can create in minutes. Also, although Hinge, like Tinder, is also swiping app, it limits your swipes to only a couple of people a day, so you can put down your phone, stop the madness, and have a life outside of the app. Hinge is a great app for online dating beginners since it’s easy and user-friendly, especially if you have a good amount of Facebook friends (the more FB friends you have, the more recommendation possibilities for the app).

Bumble– bumble.com

Bumble is a swiping app, like Tinder and Hinge. However, there are a few major differences. One– it isn’t known to be a hookup only app the way Tinder is. Two– It doesn’t go through Facebook. Three (and most importantly)– It only allows women to message first. That’s the Bumble catch. So if you “match” with someone (you both swipe right= “yes”to liking each other), then only the woman can say the first hello. If she doesn’t, the match disappears within 24 hours and you’ll never speak again (on the app at least). Make of Bumble what you will, but I think it’s a neat and different little marketing concept. Bumble also has unlimited swiping- a la Tinder- so it can be addicting. And Bumble was actually started by Whitney Wolfe, one of the cofounders of Tinder. And Jane actually wrote about Bumble here before.

So go enjoy! Don’t be ashamed to be single in your thirties! You may never get to have this amazing time again, and some of your married friends may even be quite a good bit jealous of you. So go date, online date, and live it up!

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Can You Make New ‘Besties’ in Your 30s?

Have you made a “bestie” in your 30s? Not a friend you already knew who you grew closer to, but someone completely new – someone you met in your 30s. I think it’s challenging, because you don’t have the built-in network of people your age because you’re not in social settings like school or after-school programs. And the workplace is a mix of people of varying ages and also, they have varying levels of desire to socialize outside of work. If people have families, most of the time they’re going to want to get out of work as soon as possible.

For me, I’ve been lucky because I’ve been pursuing film in graduate school and so, I’ve been around some people my age. But – not many! The majority of my classmates are in their 20s, and I feel a definite difference between us. But that could be my own bias.

I’ve also worked in jobs (including at a film school), where there were people with similar interests and passions, and so that naturally lent itself to friendships.

Can the depth of new friendship be the same, despite the fact that you haven’t known each other as vulnerable teenagers or college students? I answer that question with an emphatic yes! Especially if you’re single, because when you’re single, you generally have more time and radiate more of an openness to talk and connect. You can be looking for a more “serious” friendship if you’re not in a relationship. I realize that sounds a little funny, and so to clarify, what I mean is that if two people are single, they can devote more time to a new friendship – kind of like you did in your school days.

The same way you can find your soulmate at 45, you can meet a new best friend at any stage in your life, and have the same depth of connection. For instance, this summer I took a job at an arts summer camp, and while it began as a one-day temp job, it ended up getting extended to about seven weeks. And during the time, I made some amazing friends, and I am pretty confident I’ll be friends with them for a long time. We met over a short duration, but there was a deep understanding between us that we recognized immediately. I also happened to be in vulnerable stage when I met them and was going through some personal transitions, but wow – when I met them, I knew – I would be friends with them. I felt safe immediately and like I could be myself. More so than I had during my entire two years at graduate school. So, you just never know where and how you’ll meet your next ‘friend soul mate.’ In the same way we romanticize how we might meet our romance loves, I like to think about the magic of meeting a new friend who you just know will be a lifer.

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How Do You Deduct Tips You Pay In Cash While Traveling (To the Bellboy, Cab Driver, Housekeeping, etc) on your Taxes?

I’m currently working in Detroit and just was thinking about when I’d have some time to change a twenty for a bunch of ones when a friend of mine posted on Facebook asking about how, for her taxes, she can deduct cash tips she paid out while traveling.

I realized that I didn’t exactly know the answer to this except that my usual way of deducting the tips I pay out to people in cash is mild guesswork. I know that when I travel for work I almost always tip housekeeping about $2-$3 a day. I rarely use a bellboy to bring my suitcases anywhere, but maybe would use one approximately 4 times a year in order to help me carry something or other up, and tip $2-$3 each time. I’d tip a shuttle driver about $3 about 8 or 9 times a year. Etc, etc.

Make sure you deduct your cash tips to hotel or transportation staff anytime you travel for work. The tips are actual valid deductions. If you’re self-employed, these are no-brainer bona fide travel expenses. But even if you’re not self-employed, if you end up traveling for work, the tips you pay in cash while traveling can absolutely be deducted if you’re itemizing deductions.

The deduction would be under ‘business travel expenses’ and the way you would note them in your records would be to write the tip amount on some form of receipt related to the trip in question. So, for example, if you tipped housekeeping and the bellman during a business trip to Detroit, you would get the hotel receipt (even if it was $0.00 because your company paid for the hotel) and write the cash amount paid on the sheet of paper. Then you would keep that for your records.

This may seem like nickel and dimeing, but these deductions are valid and can really add up, so you might as well take them if you travel a lot for work and are itemizing your expenses.

In our thirties, we should try our darndest to get better at doing our taxes the best we can, so we can keep the most money. We might as well- why lose the money you’ve worked so hard to earn?

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View from my hotel in Detroit. I’m here for 16 days, and a lot of tipping happens in all that time.

 

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