My Hunt For A Great Work Bag

In college, I ditched backpacks in favor of tote bags. Backpacks made me feel like I was still a kid, but my first tote gave me the grown-up feel and appearance I was looking for. Over the years I've amassed quite a collection of tote bags, varying in size, material and price point. I've also spent the last few years carrying my laptop back and forth to work in a tote instead of laptop bag, cause face it, 99% of laptop bags are ugly and/or aren't functional enough for me. 

As a single lady, I carried two bags to work - my purse and my tote. My tote was the catch-all for all my extra stuff, like my laptop, notebook, lunch (if I managed to pack it), etc. This system wasn't the best, but it worked and it didn't feel the need to upgrade my work bag. I also wasn't the type to bring my laptop home each evening, unless I planned to work from home the next day or over the weekend. 

All of that changed when I returned to work after my maternity leave. After the first couple of weeks, I knew that I needed a new system. My laptop now comes home with me each evening, plus I need to transport my pumping supplies and/or lunch. Some days I ended up with 3 bags and it felt like I was a Bag Lady, so I set out to find a new bag. 

I wanted something cute and functional, and there are a lot of new options out there. A few women suggested I check out Dagne Dover, and I also checked out Lo & Sons based on a Twitter recommendation. I loved the bags but I was afraid to pull the trigger on a $100+ work bag that might not fit my needs. I love a nice bag, but what's the point if it doesn't help me downsize?

After several hours and Google searches, I decided to order the CommuteHer bag from Betabrand. I really liked how functional this bag was, with a variety of pockets and ability to store lots of items. The CommuteHer bag can hold all my gear: a water bottle, umbrella, keys, headphones, work bag, wallet, makeup kit, sunglasses, laptop, pumping supplies, and lunch! The bag is nylon which I'm not a huge fan of, but it doesn't absorb water when it rains, which is a plus. And best of all, I'm down to ONE BAG, yay! 

I've been carrying the CommuteHer bag for about six weeks now, and it's made my commute so much easier. The only drawback is that I need to switch some items to a purse when I go out in the evening or on weekends, but I'm able to transfer my wallet, makeup kit and keys pretty easily. Overall I'm super happy with this purchase...though I do have my eye on other bags, but I'll stick with this one for now. 

Progress On My Stuff To Do In 2017 List

I wrote this list back in February I think? It's July so that's a good time to check in on the progress I've made against this list, right?

This is version 2 but expect to see numerous updates of this list throughout 2017...and if you don't see updates you have my permission to ask me why the fuck I haven't updated my list. Accountability and whatnot...

  1. Finish Phi's baby blanket (this is kinda cheating cause it's like 90% done but I'mma put it on the list anyway) - DONE! AND SHE LOVES IT! 
  2. Post on BGU at least once a week - I'm trying 
  3. Find freelance writing opportunities - DID IT! 
  4. Pitch freelance writing opportunities - DID THIS TOO!
  5. Try knitting socks using the two circular knitting needles method - STILL SCARED
  6. Go see my family so they can meet Phi - DID IT AND THEY LOVE HER TO PIECES
  7. Finally try knitting a hat on double point needles - BOUT TO DO IT
  8. Get pretty and take photos of already knitted items 
  9. List already knitted items on Etsy
  10. Update my LinkedIn page with my APW internship. - DID IT!
  11. Apply for opportunities in Atlanta - STILL DOING IT, NO LUCK YET 
  12. Search for homes for sale in Atlanta - HAD TO STOP CAUSE I FOUND TOO MANY I LIKED
  13. Convince Meg that I should be Chief Data Officer for APW - I'll start off as "Data Guru" tho...ok maybe not "guru" cause all the startups use that term and it's corny...but basically I wanna be the queen of all things data & sales & marketing for APW, I just need a better title than "queen of all things data & sales & marketing". - TRUST ME, I'M TRYING
  14. Take a girl's trip - no baby, no husband.
  15. Help my cousin soror plan her wedding
  16. Get ordained to do weddings in Georgia
  17. Convince someone to let me officiate their wedding in Georgia
  18. Go to Elise's yoga class twice a week - STILL TRYING
  19. Take the baby to Bring Your Own Baby yoga class at Blooma - WASN'T REALLY INTO IT
  20. Pay off my last credit card that carries a balance (I'm actually really proud that I'm down to 1 credit card that's carrying a balance, trust me this is an accomplishment) - MAKING PROGRESS!
  21. Find a reliable babysitter so I can go out with my husband to stuff - THE HOMIES HAVE FILLED IN HERE & WE'RE GRATEFUL
  22. Book a cheap flight deal so we can take a trip as a family, preferably an international trip so Phi can get a passport stamp. - STILL LOOKING!
  23. Go back to the Primal lifestyle, at least 80% (I'll be shooting for 100% but I know that's unrealistic for me) - I'M LIKE 50% SO FAR.

Facebook Mama Groups Vex My Soul...But I Keep Reading Them Anyway

I've had Facebook since the early days - 2004 to be precise - but for years I spent most of my time on Twitter. That all changed when I got pregnant, as I started to join FB groups for pregnancy, breastfeeding and motherhood. After I had #BabyPi, and I spent hours nursing my little human, I started spending a lot of time on FB, reading and posting in mommy groups. Sometimes I was looking for answers, like why my baby hadn't pooped in 5 days (seriously, the stuff you worry about as a new mama is insane, but that's a post for a different day). Most of the time though, I'm just reading and scrolling, posting when the mood strikes me. 

I have this love-hate relationship with most of the groups I've joined. I initially joined to gain information, and I find them to be valuable resources of information. But they also drive me nuts with a level of insanity I've never seen before. Why do these groups drive me crazy? 

THE SAME QUESTIONS ARE REPEATED OVER AND OVER - This is by far the biggest pet peeve I have with FB mommy groups. It's like these women have never heard of a search function! In my breastfeeding group, everyday there's a new post asking if you can drink alcohol or coffee, or how to boost supply, or how to fix a latch. I get it - mamas need help. I was the same way when Phi first came home. But I (wisely) searched the group before I asked questions, because I was pretty sure my question had already been asked and answered. Why other moms I don't do this, I will never understand, but I wish they would start. 

THEY GET AN ATTITUDE WHEN THEY DON'T LIKE THE ANSWERS THEY RECEIVE - ever dealt with a kid who asked for something, and then pouted when the answer was "no"? I see that behavior from grown ass women every single day. I don't understand the logic behind asking for advice, and then getting mad when you don't like the advice you receive, but whatevs. If you have all the answers, why are you asking a group of strangers?

THEY LOVE TO TRY TO ONE-UP EACH OTHER - I absolutely detest the posts that are solely to brag on their baby. Listen, I think my kid is a genius, and she probably is given that I'm a chemist/former rocket scientist & her dad is a mathematician. However I do not post daily about how my kid was rolling over at 6 weeks old or walking to school by herself at nine months. The other day a mom made a post about how her 3 month old is sitting up unassisted and all I could do was roll my eyes. Great for you lady, but 1-I don't believe you and 2-who cares? 

VACCINE DISCUSSIONS ARE ALWAYS A HOT MESS - nothing gets me riled up like the topic of vaccines. They ALWAYS dissolve into an argument between sane people who believe in vaccines and the nutjobs who still believe in fake science. As a scientist, I feel strongly that vaccine save lives. My kid is getting her vaccines on schedule. We plan to keep her away from kids who are intentionally not vaccinated. We live in an area that's being dealing with a measles outbreak for months and it drives me nuts that children are suffering from measles for no good reason. To me, not vaccinating is child abuse and I have little tolerance for it. I recognize that not every child can be vaccinated but I have no patience or sympathy for people who intentionally do not vaccinate their kid because they believe in junk science. Also, I'm really tired of people trying to justify their anti-vaccine stance by posting links to random websites - THAT'S NOT RESEARCH! 

ALL THE ARGUMENTS AND JUDGMENTAL COMMENTS - No matter how innocuous the topic, there's the potential that it will dissolve into an argument, complete with name-calling and judgments of parenting skill. Some particularly bad threads end with mamas leaving the group - always after making a post stating that the group is full of drama so they're leaving - and/or deleting their posts. I have snarky thoughts about posts I see about 8000 times a day, but I keep them to myself or share them with Twitter, cause that's just polite (ha!).

Despite the downsides to Facebook mama groups, I still find them valuable - I've learned a lot and I try to pass on the knowledge and experiences that I've had. Above all else, they are extremely entertaining and always guaranteed to give me a good laugh when I need it. And when I've needed support or a question answered, I've found mama groups to be helpful in that regard. Now if we only we could get these broads to start using the search feature....

 

 

Taking My Talents (And Blog) To A New Home

Yes I know, it's been a long time since I've written for myself. I've had lots of thoughts, and a few Twitter rants, but each time I sat down to write on my blog, something felt...off. It didn't feel right. I lost motivation to write even though I needed to. I did write for a few freelance gigs (yay!) but writing for myself just wasn't something I was interested in doing...at least not on the old blog. 

I finally figured out why I had such an aversion to blogging - my site didn't feel like it fit anymore. Both technically and thematically. I'm not a girl anymore, and I'm definitely not lost (or unlost). I've figured a lot of things out between when I started that blog and now, and I needed my site to reflect that. I also grew really tired of dealing with self-hosted Wordpress, and I wanted a new solution. 

You know how you hear about something for awhile but it takes a bit to finally try it out? That was me and Squarespace. I heard their ads every week on my favorite podcasts, but I didn't think I had a need for their services. I started casually thinking about trying them out once I began to secure freelance writing gigs - I knew I needed to set up a personal portfolio site and I didn't want the hassle of Wordpress or self-hosting once again. By sheer coincidence, my friends at A Practical Wedding reached out and asked if I was interested in doing a piece for their series with Squarespace, about setting up a portfolio website. Talk about serendipity! That was finally my kick in the pants to test out Squarespace and see if setting up a website was truly as easy as they claim. 

Turns out, it was easier than I expected. I spent weeks building my Wordpress blog, but setting up my Squarespace site took only a couple of hours. My biggest delay was convincing my husband to take a few photos of me for my new website. The clean templates are totally my style, and they provide a ton of tools to help you. In one day, I had a brand new site complete with domain registration - score!

After the ease to put together my personal site, I was ready to move my blog over as well. Originally I planned to transfer my domain as well, but when I really thought about it, I knew that I needed to start fresh, with a new name and branding. Black Girl Unlost chronicled some important years in my life, but I've moved on from that place. I stopped blogging semi-anonymously, and I no longer fear writing under my name. I don't want to be niche blog as I plan to continue to write about whatever strikes my fancy. After spending a new hours thinking of a name, I settled on JTM Writes - simple, right?

So welcome to this new place! My goal is to write on a regular schedule, about a variety of subjects. There will be some personal stuff, but also my thoughts on a variety of subjects, from pop culture to intersectional feminism. 

Welcome to JTM Writes - thanks for reading!

I'm Ready To Start Freelancing, But I'm Afraid To Pitch!

I feel like I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again: I fell into writing by accident. This blogging this started on a lark, as a way to vent about the stress of my PhD program. I didn't expect to do it long-term, and I didn't expect anyone to read it. But people did read it, and they kept encouraging me to write. And then I fell into my internship with A Practical Wedding. Over the course of my year-long internship, I learned so much about writing for the web, and got plenty of practice writing different types of pieces - essay, sponsored, roundup, etc. When I started my internship, my goal was to develop my writing skills so that I could start pitching as a freelancer. I know I gained the skills, but I didn't gain the confidence! I feel so intimidated by freelancers who have training (like degrees in English) and have published pieces for respected outlets. Beyond my APW community, I don't have connections to editors. All I've got is a list of outlets that I'd love to pitch to and publish in, and a growing list of piece ideas that I'm a bit nervous about.

I think I'm suffering from imposter syndrome. I'm worried that my attempts to pitch will be seen as amateurish. I'm worried that my ideas will be rejected. My fear of rejection is paralyzing me. I haven't even pitched anything to APW, and I have a blanket invitation! My brain is struggling a bit - I don't wanna blame it on the baby...but it's the baby. Maybe when I go back to work, my brain power will come back too? But beyond that, I'm trying to work on getting past my fear and just jumping into freelancing. I know that "no" is the worst thing that can happen, and yet I'm still nervous and afraid to truly put myself out there.

Any tips on how to get over my fear and just do it?