Blog Posts by Sarah McColl, Shine staff

  • Low-risk ways to get a better job without jumping ship

    With the job market the downer it is, there's a certain amount of pressure to stay in your current position even if you're not happy. But rather than fuming in your cubicle about your dissatisfaction, there are ways to empower yourself without sending out your resume. Here's how to put out your feelers, amp up your skills, and meet the right people so when the time comes to move on, you're more than ready.

    The most low-risk way to think about your next career step is something you can even do at your desk: make a list. What is it about your job that you like? What aspects give you a sense of accomplishment? Which leave you feeling depleted? Are the hours great but the work soulless? Do you feel like you're helping people but the pay barely covers your expenses? Like your co-workers but find you have to work individually more than you'd like? Get specific about where there's room for improvement, so that when you see the qualities you're looking for in the next position

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  • Real-life makeover thought experiment: Money versus time

    The thing that continues to really thrill and baffle me as we all figure out how to live a meaningful life is this: the way we feel about our lives is hugely affected by how we think about our lives. Meaning, you can make big, sweeping Real-Life Makeover changes not by dropping everything for a trip around the world, but by making different decisions and shifting your perspective on things a little (or even a lot).

    So I was reading this article the other day that got me excited, one of those, "Think about this," articles that gets your motor running, kind of like Choose Your Own Adventure for grown-ups, only the adventure is your whole life. And since you guys loved thinking about your passions, I thought you'd love it as much as I did. Here's the deal:

    Today you will receive two phone calls. The first is from some distant relative you've never heard of who lets you know that a $20 million inheritance is coming your way. But the money comes with a slight hitch: you have to use $10

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  • 7 ways to stop being a "perfect" mom and start being a real, true-to-you great one

    Feeling like you have to be perfect--at everything from parenting to Excel spreadsheets--isn't an idea you somehow brought on yourself. Psychologist Ann L. Dunnewold, author of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box, points out that the notion of striving is firmly entrenched in the American soil. "We live in a culture firmly-rooted in the idea of improvement. We want each generation to progress, and we feel it is our job as parents to provide a better life for our children." And because we also tend to view things in all-or-nothing terms "we think perfection is required to achieve that success." How can we cut ourselves some slack in the parenting department? Some experts weigh in.

    Some of us spend time obsessing about details that don't matter to anyone else. Zen Buddhist priest Karen Maezen Miller, author of Momma Zen and Hand Wash Cold, suggests letting go of the idea that you have to be all things to all people. "Ask members of your

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  • 25 of the very best things money can't buy

    We've been talking a lot these days about the expense of the back to school season, which can give your wallet a hit even if you are buying super cute things. The list of school mandated supplies, as well as new socks and underwear for growing bodies can have you thinking that even public school is mighty spendy. These are the times when it's more important than ever to be grateful for the things that don't cost a cent. It's far too easy to get caught up in the flurry of we need this! we want that!, but when you look around at the stuff money can't buy, you realize you've got the important stuff covered.

    1. That look your dog gives you. You know those sad, loving eyes? Heart-melting, right?

    2. Kindness. Random acts make the world go 'round. Offering your seat to someone, holding the door, smiling--these are the things that separate us from the animals. And perhaps best of all, it feels as good to give as it does to get.

    3. A library card. Hardbacks break the bank, and you're always

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  • Sweet, preppy back-to-school classics for your kids (that might inspire your own fall wardrobe)

    There is some kind Pavlovian reaction in us: heading back-to-school means plaid. And saddle shoes. And maybe a headband (that's plaid, natch). All of the items worn together might turn your daughter into an extra from a John Hughes movie, but just a few add the right touch of timeless goody two-shoes. And the '80s prep look is so utterly au courant, you might find yourself seeking out oxfords and pleated skirts in your own size.

    More from Real-Life Makeover>>

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  • 10 simple, practically instant energy boosters

    The alarm clock Monday morning is nobody's friend. That early morning blare is our final farewell to the more relaxed tempo of the weekend. But there are simple ways we can put a little spring in our step even on the days we feel dog-tired.

    Dehydration causes fatigue, so stay hydrated to stay bright-eyed. Caffeine can jump start your motor, but you don't want to over do it. Energy drinks and coffee can give you a temporary energy boost by firing up your fight-or-flight hormones, but when they wear off, you crash. Start your day with a glass of water, enjoy your daily cup of coffee, and then switch back to water.


    If caffeine jump starts your motor, protein keeps things on an even keel by keeping your blood sugar levels consistent. Try some of these super fast protein-packed breakfasts.

    Citrus smells can perk you up, so drop slices of grapefruit, orange, or lemon in your water (bonus: you feel like you're at a super posh spa.) Suds

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  • How do you keep your life organized?

    Last week I spent thirty minutes tackling a task that has been disrupting my daily sense of equilibrium for approximately three years: I organized the cords underneath my desk. And this morning, before blindly setting out in thirteen different directions, I sat down and organized my to do list for the day in my calendar. It took about two minutes. But both tasks gave me a real sense of direction and calm. Those modem and printer cords are not the boss of me! I am baking cookies this afternoon! I am in control of my life!

    When summer's in its wind-down and September looms on the horizon, many of us turn our attention from the beach and the barbecue inside. And we're not just looking inside our homes, we're scrutinizing our lives. What's working? What isn't? What do we want to do differently? Fall feels like a fresh beginning without the holiday season hangover of New Year's Day. And while summer is a season of free-wheeling outdoor fun, fall tends to makes us more reflective and

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  • Make over your body image from the inside out

    In the "no, duh," study of the week, research has found that cosmetic surgery is no help for those with body dysmorphic disorder. And while BDD isn't your run-of-the-mill poor body image (it's a psychological disorder in which the affected person focuses so excessively on a real or perceived defect in their appearance that it causes them major distress--they might even be convinced they have a deformity), most of us know that the way we feel about our physical form is dictated largely by our brains, not our bodies. Anyone who has reached a weight-loss goal and still felt unsatisfied knows that. Losing weight can improve our quality of lives--we feel healthier, more vital, have more energy--but it doesn't fix us. An improved body image starts from the inside out. Here's how to get started on a positive body image breakthrough:

    What does thin mean to you?
    Sometimes we use "thinness" and diets as a metaphor for what we really want in life. We think, "When I lose weight, I'll finally be

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  • Learn something new every day (even if you're not going back to school)

    More so even than New Year's Eve, for many of us back to school signals a fresh start. And even when you're not the one loading up a backpack and riding your bike through fallen leaves, there is still that desire to start anew. With its uncracked books, shiny new shoes, and a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils, it's a season filled with possibility. But just because you're not filing into a classroom doesn't mean you can't seize the energy of the season for yourself. And the bonus of a lifetime of learning as an adult? No homework.

    Didn't get into Yale? Me neither. But anyone can listen to podcasts from the hallowed halls of learning, on everything from philosophy to literary theory. And it's not just Yale, of course. On iTunes U, you can explore a whole host of college offerings. Professors share the syllabus so you can read along, or you can just listen and be glad you don't have to trudge through an essay on hermeneutics.

    Have you

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  • Start living your life with passion (and stop doing the things that drain you)

    Not the bodice-ripping kind of passion (though, hey, if that's what your life needs, that's what it needs). Today we're talking about the kind of passion that makes you feel alive, and like your life has purpose. It's the sensation that comes when you feel like you're caught up in the current of life: You're energized and happy. You feel like all synapses are firing. What are you most passionate about? And how can you make room in your life for more of that feeling? We've got a few ideas, so read on.

    The three passion point questions

    Grab your journal, boot up your blog, or chime in in the comments to answer these questions.

    1. What are you deeply passionate about? e.g., What makes you lose all sense of time? What are you drawn to again and again? What do you think about when you're lost in thought?
    2. What comes to you naturally? So many of us take for granted our own talents because they come easily. We don't think a skill is worth its salt unless it's something we have to
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