Michelle Woo
Senior platform editor at Forge @Medium. Previously: Lifehacker, Reddit, Village Voice Media
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Photo: Emily Deltetto/EyeEm/Getty Images

Sometime in the fall, when the weather here in Southern California dips below 71 degrees, it makes its first appearance. I strut around the house wearing it as my husband groans. “Oh no, it’s the muumuu,” he says.

Oh yes, the muumuu. This is the name we’ve given my fleece zip-up robe that drapes down to my ankles and has a collar, a garment typically worn by women who are 90. I bought it at T.J. Maxx several years ago when I was eight months pregnant and boycotting pants. It’s hideous, I’ll admit. But it’s soft and warm and it calls to me whenever I want to be cozy. …


Illustration of masked figures in a crowd.
Illustration of masked figures in a crowd.
Image: Ada daSilva/Getty Images

Whenever my instinct is to assume the worst—say, a driver cuts me off on the road or a friend takes three days to respond to my text even though I know she’s read my hilarious meme—it helps me to ask myself: What if the person is trying their best? When I believe they are, I stay out of judgment and my mind stops making up unhelpful stories that likely aren’t true.

But on Human Parts, Jane Park offers a question that goes a step further. …


Resources

Sometimes hearing your writing out loud is better than reading it

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Photo by CoinView App on Unsplash

As writers, we’re taught the importance of reading our work aloud before hitting publish. We need to hear our words to make sure they sound conversational, have the right cadence, and will invite people in.

But I always wished I could hear my writing read by someone other than myself. Once my work is in the near-publishing stage, I think I’m just too close to it, and so it’s hard for me to distinguish between what I’m hearing in my ear and in my head. For a while, I would read my writing in a voice different than my own — usually, I’d pretend I was a British newscaster reporting the news. This actually helped a lot, but when I did this, I worked from home alone. …


Young Black woman looking at her reflection in the mirror.
Young Black woman looking at her reflection in the mirror.
Photo: Yadira G. Morel/Getty Images

Self-talk was once seen as something reserved for motivational gurus—perhaps you remember the SNL character Stuart Smalley staring into a mirror and proclaiming: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” But more people are learning that there are practical, measurable benefits to adopting a positive inner narrative. On Medium, Alan Trapulionis lays out the latest research on self-talk—and it’s enlightening.

Psychologists have only seriously begun analyzing self-talk in the last couple of decades, and here’s what we know:

1) Positive self-talk improves performance in most sports.

2) Questions like “Will I do this?” produce better results than statements like “I will do this.” …


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Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

This past weekend, in the afterglow of watching the woman who will be the first Black, first Asian American, and first female vice president take the stage in Wilmington, Delaware, I binged the excellent podcast Kamala: Next in Line, hosted by Joy Reid. It chronicles Kamala Harris’s life, from her childhood in California to the moment President-elect Joe Biden picked her to be his running mate. It makes clear that Harris is a fighter.

The person I keep thinking about, though, is Harris’s late mother, Shyamala Gopalan. On the campaign trail, Harris spoke about her often—how she moved from India to the United States at 19. How she was only five feet tall, but if met her “you would have thought she was 10 feet tall.” …


A quote from the 2012 Washington Post story “Alex Trebek: Master of the trivial still has plenty of questions,” on accepting that we’ll never truly figure it all out. The trivia master and host of Jeopardy! died on Sunday at 80 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.


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Credit: Maskot/Getty Images

Something tells me we’re all a little distracted right now. (I don’t know how I know this, y’all—I think I just have extraordinary intuition.) You probably aren’t getting much done, aside from refreshing the news and Googling “Wait, what’s the point of the electoral college again?” Here’s the only productivity advice I can offer you at this moment: Try doing the simplest, most boring tasks on your list.

For instance, while I cannot write War and Peace right now, I can update my budget report and clear the 112 files on my desktop. Getting these mundane things done keeps me semi-occupied and I know that Future Me will appreciate it. See what you can do: color-code your calendar, fill out your expenses, or tackle those emails that require just a one-line response. …


Black woman talking to her team over a video call.
Black woman talking to her team over a video call.
Photo: Alistair Berg/Getty

This is going to be a week. Here’s your reminder to have a post-election coping plan, a personal itinerary to help you get through the chaos. Mine will include driveway debriefings with neighbors, Christmas music (yes, it’s time), and a good, strategic cry, no matter the outcome.

If you’re part of a company, it’s not only important to focus on self-care, but also team-care. …


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Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images

Michael Thompson shares a way to stop yourself from getting wrapped in the frustrations of the moment and immediately feel more present. Ask yourself: What if this is the last time?

He means the last time doing whatever it is you’re doing: texting your partner to tell them they forgot to buy more paper towels, encountering your overly chatty doorman, standing in line and waiting to vote. Acting as if it’s your final opportunity to do such things, Thompson explains, can help you change your approach entirely and zone in on what matters.

When I became a mother, I started doing this naturally. It was partly a coping mechanism, I think. If my toddler refused to get into her pajamas yet again, to stop myself from resorting to my closet to rage-eat Oreos, I’d pause and think, “What if this is the last bedtime?” (Parenthood makes your brain work in slightly morbid ways—you get used to it.) Following this line of thinking would soften me. I’d look at my kid, maybe lie down with her and sing with her and think about how lucky I am—and then make her put on her damn PJs. …

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