Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A tip for remembering names

It's happened to us all at some point: You run into someone who's ecstatic see you. They instantly recognize you and begin talking a mile a minute about that one time when that one thing happened. And all the while, you can't think of their name, let alone that great thing that apparently happened. Their name...








It can be frustrating, I know. On more than one occasion, I've been out and about shopping and someone will come up to me and say, "Oh, hi, Melissa! It's so good to see you! I was the nurse in the hospital when you were born."

I won't pretend that my face didn't turn a shade of red brighter than my wheelchair in these instances. Eventually, I have to awkwardly ask for their name. I can't help but feel a bit defeated and a bit embarrassed at my lapse in memory. I can remember what I did May 1997, but names? They sometimes elude me for some inexplicable reason.

But! As it turns out, there are helpful name-remembering tricks out there. Malia Wollan wrote a short piece for last weekend's New York Times magazine. She interviewed Indira Pun, who has worked as chief concierge at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong for the last 11 years.
"Your brain needs to be like a camera," Pun says. "Take a picture in your mind of a unique thing about that person and register that uniqueness with their name. Use the name two or three times during the first interaction."
How cool is that? Such a handy trick, and I'll definitely be trying it out the next time I want to remember someone's name and avoid that red-faced embarrassment. What about you, friends? How do you remember people's names? Any helpful tips or tricks that have worked in the past? Do share! xoxo

[Photos via We Heart It]

Must-see: Cinderella movie

I'm such a sucker for Disney movies -- remember when I almost cried during UP? Combine that with a fairytale, and, well, I'm practically in love.

The new take on Cinderella looks beautiful. Everything from the scenery down to the costumes looks exquisite, doesn't it?
The movie opens in theaters on March 13th. Are you excited? xoxo

P.S. Recognize Cinderella? It's Lily James, who plays Cousin Rose on Downton Abbey!

P.P.S. What's your favorite fairytale? And, fairytale posters... :)

[Photos by Jonathan Olley]

How I Feel (In 5 Photos) Wednesday.

"I really really really really really really like you...And I want you, do you want me, do you want me too?" --Carly Rae Jepsen

[Photos via My Summer Twist]

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

How much time do you spend on your phone?

Just a few short years ago, phones had a very specific and distinct role in our lives. You picked up the phone to call someone -- maybe you were calling in sick to work or calling your wise mother for some sage advice -- or, you picked up the phone to answer it.

That was basically all you could do, thanks to Alexander Graham Bell's good old invention. BBB But now, you can practically live your entire life on your phone. You can order groceries, set up appointments, keep up-to-date on social media, binge-watch your favorite TV show and surf the Web to your heart's content -- or rather, until your battery runs out.

Sometimes, I can't help but think the term "smartphone" is a misnomer. Walk down the street and chances are, you'll see most people walking with their heads down, eyes glued to those little screens. Remember when I talked about my smartphone addiction a couple years ago? Well, something tells me there's one person who might need to read that post again: My mother. She got an iPhone a few years ago (I'm still a loyal Android lover...), and since then, she become worse than her 7th grade students. She's on that phone...all...the...time.

A typical conversation in our house, albeit, a mostly one-sided one...
"Are you listening?" I'll ask her, my frustration level building by the second. "I'm going to throw that thing out the window...!!!!"
I fully confess that I've also become one of those people, though rest assured that I don't go on my phone while I'm driving my wheelchair. But I do find it hard to resist the allure of my phone, especially when it glows all shiny and bright to tell me I've got email or a new text waiting for me. Ever since I became a full-fledged, smartphone-carrying person of the future, I've been astonished at just how quickly those "little moments" can add up to huge time sucks. Five minutes checking celebrity news while waiting in line at Target. Twenty minutes scrolling through Facebook and Instagram while lying in bed on a Saturday morning. Ten minutes answering emails -- OK, sometimes while I'm simultaneously brushing my teeth. But in my defense, the email was really, really important... ;)

Thankfully, though, two apps have come to the rescue (Are you reading this, Mom...?). Moments tracks the number of minutes you've been on your phone, while Checky shows you how many times per day you've checked your phone.
So, does this mean that there's hope after all, friends? I'd like to think so! Have you ever used these apps? Have they worked? Got any other tips for kicking your smartphone addiction? And, be honest much time do YOU spend on your phone? xoxo

[I Forgot My Phone video via NPR, illustration by Anna Sudit]

Etsy Love: Hanging wall vases

How perfect would these hanging wall vases be for the first days of spring? Such a fresh -- and fun! -- way to brighten up your house. Each vase is hand-blown and can be hung from the wall, ceiling or even a tree outside. See, now this is the kind of thing that just might turn my pale thumb a nice shade of green! xoxo

Monday, March 02, 2015

My disability Q&A: On the day-to-day work of a blogger

Note: This is the final installment of My Disability Q&A. You can read parts one, two and three for more fun times and inside scoop. No, really, there is lots of inside scoop to be, well...scoop?... xoxo

Do you think your exceptionality has impacted the success of your career in either a negative or a positive way?
I hope that my disability has positively impacted my life and my career. I had my moments where it felt like it negatively affected me -- especially when I was younger and having all my surgeries -- but now that everything has seemed to settled down, I'm finally starting to feel like a normal thirtysomething. I don't feel so out of place among my peers anymore, and that is a great feeling!

How do you self-motivate yourself when you work for yourself?
Trust me, it takes A LOT of practice! When I was working as a newspaper adviser, it was pretty easy because I was actually going somewhere every day. I had clearly defined "work hours" so things went smoothly. But since I started working from home full-time, I've had to work to create a schedule and stick to it. I'm a big fan of to-do lists, and thankfully, blogging is pretty rhythmic. There are certain things I do every single day, like finish blog posts, comment on blogs, work on ad stuff, answer emails, create editorial calendars, etc. There's always something to do, so there's never a dull day! A lot of time, I find myself wishing there were more hours in the day!

How do you self-evaluate your progress on your blog?
That can be a trap sometimes because it's so easy to start comparing yourself to other bloggers. What are they doing? How popular are they? Do they have a big social media following? But, it is important to regularly reflect on your own progress and a big thing for me is making sure I'm moving in the direction I want to go in -- writing the sorts of posts I want to write and making sure I'm enjoying it. The day I cease to enjoy blogging will be the day I know I'm in trouble.

Do you self advocate for yourself? If so in what ways?
Of yes! That's always been number one on my list of priorities. My parents were my biggest advocates growing up, and they taught me to speak up for myself -- in a respectful way, of course, but with firm confidence. Whether it's speaking up to doctors about what I need to standing up to those mean Internet commenters, I've developed a pretty thick skin over the years!
As future educators, thinking back, do you have any advice for us that you wish your teachers had said or done to give you that boost of confidence in following your dreams?
It may sound weird, but sometimes saying something is worse than not saying anything. Just give me as much reassurance as you would any other student because that will show me that I really am just like everyone else. In this case, not singling me out would be a good thing!

[Photos via We Heart It]

My Dream For 2015: Elle from ElleSees

Hey you! That’s how I greet all of my friends, and I’m hoping you’ll be a new one! I’m Elle from ElleSees, a beauty blog based in Atlanta. I love to chat about all things beauty: tips, tricks, tutorials, reviews -- even beauty DIYs are thrown in. There’s truly something for everyone. But today I’m not talking about beauty. I’m talking about My Dream For 2015.

Yesterday, I received horrible news: my Dad had been diagnosed with cancer. I took a deep breath and absorbed the news. This was something I wasn't expecting to hear at all -- parents are supposed to pass away when they’re old. He’s only 59.

I’m the oldest of my Dad’s kids and have forever held the role of being the strong one. The calm one. Okay, okay, I thought to myself, we can get through this. I was forming a plan in my mind for the questions I wanted to ask his doctor, plans to discuss treatment options and more as my sister kept talking.

But there was more bad news to come. It was followed by THE most horrible words: he has six months to live. Six. Months. There will be no treatment. No. Treatment. I kept hearing these words echo in my mind over and over. These words had overtaken the place of my hopeful plans and had developed a near-deafening buzz. These. Words.

The daze I was in after hanging up the phone disappeared when I was suddenly snapped into focus by the door banging and my dog, Charlie Brown, barking. I had friends coming into town to celebrate their birthdays at that moment and celebrating was the last thing I wanted to do.

Because my friends are amazing, they were willing to cancel everything to stay in and comfort me. But I insisted that we go out and celebrate, that maybe it would help a little. During the course of the evening, I raised my glass to give a toast and the words “celebrate life” stumbled out of my mouth. It was an epiphany. Celebrate. Life.

These words have now taken over the horrible ones and are now my dream. These words!
And so when I sat down to finish my original draft of this post, I erased it all to share this story because "celebrate life" is now my dream. I will celebrate life with the time I have left with my father. Every single moment. I will celebrate his life when he is gone. I will celebrate life with my loved ones -- every single moment. I will no longer take life for granted. Instead, I will celebrate. I hope you do, too. This is my Dream for 2015.

--By Elle from ElleSees

[Photos via We Heart It]

Man Candy Monday.

Good Monday morning, friends! Can you believe it's March already? I don't know about you, but I've been counting down the days until spring since New Year's -- we've only got 18 days to go now! And speaking of good things, a few of you have requested today's guy, and who am I to deny such an awesome choice? In fact, I couldn't agree more! His sense of determination over the years is nothing short of inspiring. He doesn't care what people think. And he's quite possibly the smartest mind of our generation...


"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious."

Friday, February 27, 2015

Have a fun weekend

Happy Friday, friends! Got any fun plans this weekend? I'm dying to catch the finale of How To Get Away With Murder, which is just waiting for me on the DVR. Also, thanks for all your kind words on my Disability Q&A posts. You can read parts one, two and three, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. I hope you all have a great weekend, and here are my favorite finds from the wonderful Web...

Wise words on the future.

"How I kept a 373-day productivity streak unbroken."

These winter layering essentials will come in handy.

Weird writer habits, ranked.

Do you include your blog on your resume?

How American sign language speakers sign Internet and pop culture slang.

So, about that dress...

Would you ever eat glow-in-the-dark ice cream?

Speaking of New York Fashion Week, actress Jamie Brewer is the first model with Down syndrome to walk the runway!

How to deal with being overwhelmed.

Casual and classic is ALWAYS a fashion do!

Yummy: Five great food blogs.

Taylor Swift gives the best breakup advice, of course!

Haven't we all been in this love situation.

Would you take a one-way trip to Mars.

Powerful stories from people who attempted suicide.

20 fun facts about Back To The Future, one of my all-time favorite movies!

Live long and prosper, Leonard Nimoy!

Fab finds under $40 -- what's not to love?

Oh, Ed Sheeran...

And as always, feel free to connect with me on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and now YouTube! See you there, friends! xoxo

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Graze Snacks Giveaway!

Confession: I'm a snacker. A pretty big one, actually. Granola bars. Chocolate. Those tiny packs of peanuts you used to get on the airplane. I've always enjoyed a good "mini meal," as I like to call it.

Enter: Graze, the amazing snack subscription service that offers all sorts of yummy treats, including nuts, seeds, juicy dried fruits, tasty crackers, dips and dippers and natural treats. The company was founded by seven friends who were tired of boring snacks like chips and candy. They wanted to reinvent snacking, and that's exactly what they did -- even down to the handy algorithm they designed that allows you to customize your boxes.

What makes Graze so awesome is that it's such an easy process: Simply sign up, choose the types of snacks you like and a hand-picked box will be sent right to your doorstep! Each box costs $6.99 and includes four snacks. Once you sign up, you'll receive a box every week or two, depending on your location.

The variety of treats (90 to choose from!) is pretty incredible -- everything from caramel apple dippers to summer berry flapjack to fruit blends to mint chocolate chip gelato and the ultimate cheese mix.

Seeing as how there's nothing I love more than trying a new snack, you can imagine my excitement when Graze sent me two boxes of sample treats to try. My boxes included fruity mango chutney, apple and cinnamon flapjacks, Garden of England fruit mix and booster seeds, just to name a few. My favorite? The flapjack, of course -- the perfect combination of soft granola and sweet fruit.

Graze is giving three (3) boxes to one lucky reader! For your chance to win, simply visit Graze, and leave a comment below, telling us your favorite snacks! For additional entries, you can (please leave a separate comment for each entry)...

*Fan Graze on Facebook
*Follow Graze on Twitter
*Follow Graze on Instagram
*Fan So About What I Said on Facebook
*Follow So About What I Said on Twitter
*Follow So About What I Said on Pinterest
*Follow So About What I Said on Instagram
*Follow So About What I Said via GFC (see right-hand sidebar...)

You can also Tweet about the giveaway -- just make sure to mention @melissablake and @grazeusa in your Tweet!

A winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, March 12th, so you've got two weeks to enter. Happy snacking, friends! xoxo

(This post is sponsored by Graze, though all opinions expressed are my own. Thanks so much for continuing to support So About What I Said's wonderful sponsors!)

**Please note that Graze is not suitable for people with allergies, as our snacks may contain traces of gluten, wheat, eggs, nuts, peanuts, soy and milk.
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