Manic Monday

Dear readers, it is indeed a manic Monday, so today we will give you a simple tip for powering through a hectic day with style and grace:

Do

Dress for success, because it will boost your confidence.

Eat healthy and drink lots of water throughout the day, to keep energy up and your brain “on.”

Let your co-workers know that you are trying to focus and give them instructions on how you’d like to be approached if at all.

Don’t

Skip meals or eat too much junk, risking crankiness and headaches.

Spread your stress all over the over the office by complaining — or worse — going all screecher monkey on everyone.

Snakes on a plane

With fed-up flight attendant Steven Slater making headlines for what some view as the greatest job exit in recent history, we thought it was high time to discuss a few airline travel do’s and don’ts (for the record, we think there was probably a more, shall we say refined, way for Mr. Slater to quit his job, but that’s fodder for another day).

We hope that these simple tips will prevent future in-flight meltdowns from the many men and women who keep us hydrated, answer our questions, calm our fears of flying and deal every day with what must certainly be some of the worst behavior on the ground or in the not-so-friendly skies.

 Do

1. Dress for the occasion: There was a time when travelers were expected to show up donning snappy suits and well-coordinated dresses. Like so:   

Courtesy of the Culinary Arts Museum

It was all so very civilized. And get a load of all of that food! No peanuts for Mr. and Mrs. Pennebacker, that’s for sure.

While it’s doubtful that the airline passengers of today (and the flight attendants for that matter, because to be honest we aren’t too fond of the Applebee’s employee, khaki-pants-and golf-shirt look for our in-flight professionals) will go back to the days of suiting up, we encourage those traveling both for business and pleasure to put a little effort into your attire. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so, but when we dress with class, we are treated with class. And who knows, you may even get a free upgrade to first class for looking so snazzy!

2. Read the carry-on rules for your carrier. Yes, it’s sometimes like reading a legal document, but when you play by the rules, the process goes much smoother and faster for everyone. If you know your bag is too big for the overhead bin, just check it.

3. Learn and observe the etiquette and , ahem, hygiene conventions for the city, state or country in which you are traveling.

4. Be kind. We’re all in this thing together, so let’s play nice with our fellow passengers and our flight attendants.

 Don’t

 1. Be demanding.

 2. Be loud.

 3. Drink too much, because even though those bottles are tiny and cute, they pack a punch!

 4. Bother the person seated next to you if he or she is reading, wearing headphones or working on a laptop. These are time-honored, universal signs for “I’d like to be left alone, thank you.”

Now, fasten your seatbelts, enjoy the flight and give your flight attendant a break by behaving like a civilized, adult human being and not like a hyena.   

 Cheers!

M

Links we love

We’ve been meaning for some time now to tell you about a few of our favorite online haunts. So, when a friend recently asked for a list, we thought we might use the opportunity to multi-task a bit. That said, we’ve had linkage posted at the bottom right of the blog since its inception, so for those of you who have already seen it, please accept our apologies.

This list includes blogs, websites and print publications from the areas of style, travel, design, etiquette and all around lifestyle-type of content.  It is in no particular order, so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings:

A Life Obscura: A fun and informative blog about travel, life, experiences, people and things written by a dear friend.

All Things Austin Design: This is the design blog of a former colleague and fellow writer in Austin. She knows her stuff and keeps it fresh, funny and fairly local. The design scene in Austin is hoppin’ so if you like design, check it out.  

Daddy Likey: A hilarious fashion blog. You will likey.

Garden & Gun (Think of it as the”Vanity Fair of the South”): You can thank me later.

Ivy Style: Intelligent, informative and lots of good eye candy.

Mad Men Unbuttoned: Because one night a week isn’t enough Draper or Holloway (Harris) for any of us.

Melanie Spencer Words and Pictures: In case you want to look at my fabulous photography.

Muffy Martini: Because we like martinis.

Preppy Princess: We’ve been reading Preppy Princess for years. She keeps us informed about all things pink and green (especially as it relates to Lilly Pulitzer) and all things preppy and for that, we love her (and her little dog, Silly Tilly too!). The Princess also has an online boutique at www.preppyprincess.com.

Social Primer: Manners, Conversation, Style and Handling Your Liquor — what’s not to like? All from the male perspective. This is also a good place to find a few select stationery (swoon) items and things with monograms (be still our hearts).  

Social Q’s (New York Times): This is another long-time favorite, written with style, wit and taste by Philip Galanes.

Town & Country: An absolute must in everyone’s periodicals library. Unfortunately, the website leaves a lot to be desired, but we are purists and prefer print, so no harm, no foul.

Thanks to all of the above for entertaining and educating us. Please check the links list often, because we update and add to it whenever we discover something fun and fabulous. Also, send us your fave links. We love to share!

Cheers!

M

Hail to the Chief

President Barack Obama visited Austin, Texas on Monday (click here to read the Austin American-Statesman story). Whether you are a Republican, Libertarian, Democrat, Tea Party member Independent or otherwise, a presidential visit is a big deal. 

Many friends and acquaintances of Re-find covered or were otherwise present for a variety of reasons during the President’s arrival at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the speech at the University of Texas and other stops on the trail.

Official White House photo of speech at UT by Pete Souza

(Click here to see more photos and get some behind the scenes scoop of the President’s visit by our former colleague and award-winning photographer Jay Janner)

One friend mentioned that the arrival was very well-organized and that even the protesters were well-behaved — until the President whisked past the masses in his motorcade. The friend reports that obscene gestures were made at the President.

It hurts to type those words.

We honestly never thought we’d have to do the following, but as it seems people are raised by wolves, we’ve compiled a list of presidential Do’s and Don’ts. This time, the Don’ts come first:

Don’t

Flip off the President. Ever. Even if you don’t like his or her party, policies, personality or person. For the love of God, just don’t do it.

Yell obscenities at the President. Even if you are protesting his or her party, policies, personality or person. You’ll likely get more attention for your cause if you are courteous, thoughtful, accurate and well-informed.

Do

Respect the office and maybe even the person. It is the understatement of all understatements to say that being President of the United States of American is not an easy job.

To quote Sigmund Freud, “Civilized society is perpetually menaced with disintegration through this primary hostility of men towards one another.”

To make progress in our society, further the causes we hold dear and create real, lasting and meaningful change, we must learn to speak calmly, learn to listen, refrain from name-calling, treat one another with respect — especially when we disagree — and, most importantly, overcome any and all urges to flip the President the bird.

Cheers!

M

Napkin 101

Normally, we try to avoid manual labor on Sunday, but yesterday we were overcome with the urge to iron the linen napkins and tea towels. Perhaps because they had just been laundered and were looking pitifully wrinkled in a pile on the dining room table, begging to be starched and pressed. We obliged and are feeling quite pleased with ourselves.

Voila!

Freshly starched and pressed linen napkins and tea towels

Much better. Now we can rest easy. What do napkins have to do with etiquette? Well, there are a few rules of thumb regarding napkins that we thought we’d review.

Do

Fold your napkin and half with the fold toward you on your lap upon sitting down to a meal.

Leave it on your chair (not on the table or on your plate) if you have to excuse yourself from the table, then place it back in your lap upon your return.

Place it unfolded, but not wadded up next to your plate or in front of you on the table when you are finished dining.

Place it unfolded on your lap during afternoon tea, during a shower or another type of gathering with heavy hors d’oeuvres served buffet style or where you’ll be seated in a living room or away from a dining table.

Don’t

Put it on the table until you are finished with your meal.

Throw it on your plate.

Wad it up.

Tuck it into your shirt.

There you have it, Napkin 101. Bon apetit!

Cheers!

M

Oops, we did it again

As you know, we at Re-find could do without oversharing. We first posted the below entry on May 6, 2010 and have vowed to continue periodically posting it until people get the message. So, in case you haven’t heard …

There is a disease spreading across America. It’s a silent killer of friendships and co-worker relationships. It strikes when you least expect it: at the grocery store, in the office, on Twitter. This preventable disease is commonly known as: too much information.

If we at Re-find could be known for only one good deed, we’d pick curing TMI. A lot of people like to blame the spread of TMI on the Internet and sites such as the above mentioned Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, but we all know that oversharing has been around for a very long time.

Unfortunately, we’ve all been within earshot of some stranger’s loud cell phone call, in which, for example, he or she is describing in detail the lancing of a boil. Similarly, we’ve been approached by a colleague who insists upon informing us of the argument he had with his wife or partner the night before or worse, about the makeup relations they had after the fight.

There are two ways to begin the process of eradicating TMI:

1) Lead by example — There is something to be said for mystery. By keeping some areas of our lives (the bathroom, the doctor’s office, the bathroom) to ourselves, not only do we allow ourselves to move through life with a bit more dignity, but we allow people to get to know us over time. Friendship is a process and if we divulge too much too soon, our relationships don’t develop organically. Also, especially in the workplace, we need to maintain a certain degree of professional distance, so that our co-workers can continue to respect us and our work and are not distracted by our latest crisis or unpleasant outpatient medical procedure.

2) Removal — When someone is oversharing  with you, there is no reason you can’t politely remove yourself from the offending conversation. Just say, “Would you please excuse me for a moment,” and go to the powder room or tend to a task. Also, you can change the subject. If that doesn’t work, shoot me an e-mail and we’ll come up with a solution specific to your problem.

Let’s do our part to cure TMI.

Cheers!

M

Speak up about speakerphones

Yesterday a reader posted the following on the Re-find Facebook page:

“Please post some proper speakerphone etiquette. I would always like to be asked for my permission before someone (who obviously cannot give me their full attention) puts me on speaker.”

The quick response we gave is that one should always let the other party know when they are on speakerphone, especially if others are in the room.

To expand on that a bit, if you are in the middle of another task, rather than put the other party on speakerphone, ask if you can call them back when you are able to give them your full attention. This will make them feel more appreciated during the later conversation and will allow you to focus on the task at hand. Just don’t forget to call back.

In our experience, most people don’t like to be on speakerphone at all, so avoid it when possible, unless you are including someone else in the room on the call — with the knowledge and permission of the person on the other end of the line, as mentioned.

Another occasion that gets the Re-find speakerphone hall pass is if you or the other party uses hearing aids, because the hearing device can produce feedback when it’s against a phone. This one is close to our hearts, because the speakerphone option has allowed us to have much better — and quieter — conversations with dear old Dad.

Finally, if you need to go hands-free in order to perform a task that must be completed during the phone conversation, you may ask, “Is it OK if I put you on speakerphone for a minute, so you can walk me through the process of defusing the bomb?”

So, to recap, 99 percent of the time, it’s better to forgo the awkward speakerphone business and just tell your friend, parent, the guy from Verizon offering you an upgraded plan, child, neighbor or whomever, that you will call them back in a minute, after you’ve finished changing that diaper; strength training; tweeting; watering the plants at the office; driving; or whatever it is that you do instead of listening intently to the person on the other end of the iPhone. 

When you are done with your chores, pour yourself a lovely glass of wine or coffee, sit down in a comfortable chair and return the call — no speaker phone required. Doesn’t that sound a lot more pleasant?

Cheers!

M

Why is etiquette important?

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today we ask (as you can see in the title of this post), why is etiquette important? A reader who agreed with yesterday’s post about saying please and thank you (to which we say thank you for reading, commenting and agreeing!) shared a link to his blog Middle Man. In it he writes:

“Manners, good and bad. Etiquette. Class. They have been much in the news recently. I am not entirely sure why this is newsworthy when there is a war on in Iraq and Afghanistan and a maniac gunman is massacring students in American universities. But, newsworthy it seems to be.”

To which I rambled on and on and on replied:  

… I’m convinced that if we keep spreading kindness, it’ll eventually catch on. Pollyanna-ish? Maybe, but I’m OK with being called that name — I’ve been called worse! As for the seemingly sudden interest in etiquette and manners, especially when there are so many more important things going on in the world, maybe because hate, war and all around sadness dominate the headlines, we are searching for goodness in ourselves and others. Also, as our respective countries become further  entwined via the global economy and our various ethnicities, cultures and religions clash and meld, we are compelled — or should be — to search for ways to get along socially and in business.

As Emily Post, the grande dame of etiquette said, “Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honor.” I couldn’t agree more.

Dear readers, if you know me at all, you know that this I believe (where’s Ira Glass?) with all of my pollyanna-ish heart. Please be kind  — maybe even learn to use the right fork, but that isn’t as important — and maybe, just maybe we can all just get along. Come on friends, help me spread good manners! I promise, it won’t hurt and, it might even help.

In unrelated business, happy Shark Week!

From the Preppy Princess

The Preppy Princess (master of fun photo finding) shared this on her Facebook page and we couldn’t resist reposting. We wish someone would do this to our office building. Sigh.

Cheers!

 M

Please and thank you

“Whether one believes in a religion or not and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion. “ Dalai Lama

When you ask for something say “please.” If you get it or if someone does something nice for you, say “thank you.”

It really is that simple.

Cheers!

M

Listen up

The Mister and I agree on a lot of things, especially that it is neither charming nor kind to talk over someone when they are trying to speak. Essentially, that means you aren’t listening to the other person, which makes them feel unimportant.

Listening is a skill, perhaps even an art form. So like many things, it takes practice, practice and more practice. The beauty of perfecting the art of listening, is that you get to have scores of fun, exciting, meaningful conversations with acquaintances, friends and loved ones.

The next time you are on the phone or face-to-face with someone, just listen. If your mind wanders to what you might want to say next, stop yourself and redirect your attention to the words coming out of the other person’s mouth. Focus — we know you can do it. When your companion finishes speaking, pause, then respond. Rinse and repeat.

Imagine what it feels like to have someone hang on your every word. Wouldn’t it make you feel good? Wouldn’t you feel as if what you were saying mattered to the person to whom you were speaking? Wouldn’t you feel as if you mattered to that person? That would be a nice feeling.

Re-find your inner listener. We know he or she is in there, you just have to hush. Shhhh.

Cheers!

M