How To Get What You Deserve

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on May 28, 2008
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trish ryan book.

I had been reading Trish’s Dishes — Trish Ryan’s blog — for a few months before her memoir, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, came out. When I was picked at random to receive an advance publicity copy, I was thrilled. After all, Trish’s blog is always entertaining, and her protracted quest for a spiritual home reminded me of my own.

When I sat down with her book, though, I was still wary. My own spiritual journey had led me away from my Roman Catholic upbringing, while Trish’s had led her to salvation through Jesus. I was blown away by her memoir, however, and ended up immediately ordering two more copies to use as mom’s-day gifts for my mom and mom-in-law.

I’ll be posting an interview with Trish at a later date. For now, though, I wanted to mention one of the lessons Trish learns as she delves into Christianity…something she mentioned — and which resonated with me — at her NYC reading last week.

In speaking of the message God had for her when He first appeared in her life, Trish mentioned the lesson of not throwing pearls before swine. In short: Realize your worth, and for the love of god, act accordingly.

For Trish, this meant not giving every good-for-nothing who crossed her path a chance at mucking up her life. But the “pearls before swine” lesson can be applied to just about any aspect of life. I’ve found several areas in my own life where it took me perhaps a bit longer than it should have to learn this lesson:

Love: Trish found herself caught in an abusive marriage, which she eventually escaped from by going into hiding. I myself once allowed myself to become embroiled in such a relationship, one that was emotionally, verbally, and sexually abusive. Dealing with the aftermath of this relationship only made me stronger, but I can’t help being angry at myself for not knowing better than to let something like this happen to me. In short, if someone is not treating you the way you deserve to be treated (lovingly and fabulously), then this is not the person for you. You cannot save a person. You cannot change a person. Being in such a relationship taught me to raise my standards, considering things such as education, thoughtfulness, bad recreational habits, and more when looking for that deal-breaker.

Career: Many people look at their jobs merely as a way to pay the bills. I look to my career for something more: a means of creative and professional fulfillment, and sometimes even fun, not to mention a huge part of my self-identity. When my job was making me miserable, I owed it to myself to take the risks necessary to find career fulfillment elsewhere. Now, I struggle with actually putting a price on what my time and talents are worth. I’m still in my first year of full-time freelancing, and am just now finding out that I’ve been screwing myself over when setting my rates. It’s tough to ask for more money when you’re on a larger staff. In some ways, it’s even tougher to ask for more money when you’re your own boss. It shows a certain level of belief in yourself to ask for what you deserve.

Health: Many people lament their lack of time for things such as working out or cooking. I’m guilty of the same thing. When it comes down to it, though, it’s necessary to make yourself the higher priority. Things such as home-cooked meals and regular workout sessions need to be scheduled into your life, in much the same way you schedule in business meetings and happy hours and choir rehearsals. Such reprioritizing will only benefit you and your health in the long run. At the moment, I have dedicated myself to attending weekly hoop classes, but once a week is not enough. I also find myself living off of ramen and Pizza Hut, which is admittedly horrifying. Don’t follow my lead, for the love of god. Put your physical and mental health above all else. You deserve it.


How to Find More Time, Part Two — Priorities

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on December 28, 2007
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I have read in many a magazine and self-help book the powers of saying “no.” It’s something I have a problem with. Perhaps that’s how I ended up singing at five masses over the Christmas break, while also hosting my family and in-laws for Christmas dinner & dessert at my one-bedroom condo. Perhaps that’s also how I let my priorities slip, and took an extended vacation from this blog, which is still lacking in any sort of regular editorial calendar.

Bad me.

So it’s a good thing that the second part of this series on how to find more time, based upon Laura Stack’s Find More Time, is about Priorities. (Geez louise, that post about Plans was, like, eons ago. I’m awful at Priorities.)

  • Remember those who are most important to you. When I was first dating my future husband, I was unemployed but keeping myself busy, as per usual. I was handing out iced latte samples at Dunkin’ Donuts (humiliating); writing nightlife reviews for Shecky’s; and interning at the Feminist Press. When life became especially hectic, I told darling Michael that we could only hang out if we were being productive together.

And so, we would go to Barnes & Noble together and sit at a table with our laptops as I wrote nightlife reviews and he wrote music reviews.

That was ridiculous.

Remember to make time for those you love, even if it means you need to schedule a weekly date night with your man, or a monthly Family Fun evening with the fam. Create your own traditions, especially around the holidays, that allow you to spend quality time with loved ones, and create fabulous memories that will last a lifetime (I’m sorry if that sounded too after-school-special).

  • Volunteer. It makes you feel good. It makes the person you’re helping feel good. It spreads good karma. I used to be a volunteering fool growing up, lending my time to my church CCD program, Safety Town, the library, the Juniorettes, etc. Most recently, I tried iMentor, which is an easier to commitment to make when you’re short on time yet still want to make a difference in someone’s life. Sites like VolunteerMatch can help you find the volunteer opportunity that’s perfect for you. If you’re strapped for time, there are even projects you can work on from home, at your computer! Check it. And remember (the most important thing ever). You can always change your mind. If you don’t want to be there, it will wear on you. And it will also show to others. No one’s holding a gun to your head. Pick something you enjoy, and that doesn’t necessarily add additional stress to your life. What are some of the awesome organizations you’ve spent time with?
  • Cut out the time-wasters. For me, it’s Minesweeper, StumbleUpon, G-Chat, e-mail, and reality television. And food. I am a weak woman. But knowing is half the battle. Place restrictions on yourself. You’ll find you get a helluva lot more done. Plus, you won’t feel all groggy from staring at a screen for hours.
  • Be healthy. Be sure to be active. No one said you have to suffer through 45 minutes on a treadmill. Pick something you enjoy, like cardio shimmy or hula hooping or callanetics, and make it a priority, rather than an afterthought. If you schedule it in, just as you would schedule in a meeting or a get-together, it might actually happen. Also remember to keep up with those pesky appointments with your dentist, your shrink, your gynecologist, your allergist, etc. And don’t do gross things like smoke or subsist on Red Bull. And get enough sleep. And do as I say, not as I do.
  • Expand your mind. Whether through reading, public seminars, continuing education, etc., it is healthy to keep challenging both your mind and your body. Plus, it’s a great way to meet nifty new people who share your interests!

Okay guys. I’ll see you next when we discuss Personality.

Friday and The Infinite Wisdom of Others

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on November 24, 2007
Tags: , , , , ,

friday wisdom.
Some people have been saying that this whole Internet thing is the wave of the future, so it occurred to me that I could turn to the world of web publishing for advice every once in awhile. And so I bring you … Friday and The Infinite Wisdom of Others.

This week:

Gretchen over at The Happiness Project posted on the three types of fun: challenging, accommodating, and relaxing. For example, those three hours I spent watching re-runs of Project Runway the other night could be considered relaxing fun, as I didn’t really have to exert myself in any way, except when I ran out of root beer and had to get my butt off the couch and go get myself a refill. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to attempt some more challenging. Like maybe I should get my tush in gear and learn how to sew so I can put together this year’s costume for Santacon. Gretchen also gives some tips on getting up the energy for that challenging fun-stuff.

The hilarious Lucy Lastic over at recently posted on taking on too much…and then accidentally letting things fall by the wayside when the latest obsession comes along. As I told Lucy, I tend to have this problem a lot. I fixate on newly acquired interests, to the detriment of all other things. Which is why I have a belly dancing skirt stuffed into my pajama drawer, a basket of yarn and fabric under the end table in my living room, and the bookshelf contents of a sexual deviant (don’t ask). Lucy also gives some tips on how to overcome such single-minded obsessions, thank god. Check it out.

I stumbled upon this post using StumbleUpon. The posting frequency of the site overall seems sporadic, but I was interested to see that Ralph’s insights on how to start a meaningful conversation dovetailed with my own previous thoughts on the intersections between journalism and communication.

And finally, if you’re feeling a bit forsaken because I’ve taken a break from the printed page, not martha just started spreading the word about a special sale at Chronicle Books. I know. I can’t stay away either.