Skip to Content

A clean-the-inbox Q&A

My inbox is a bona fide disaster right now.

envelope in mailbox.

My email inbox does not look like this

In the best of times, when my schedule is fairly free, I often get behind on emails.

And right now, it’s way, way worse!

So, I’m gonna write this post while popping back and forth into my inbox to see what I’ve missed and need to respond to.

I know that you have written on several occasions about what cell phone service you use but I have searched and searched and cannot find any of your posts about it.
My son & I currently share a plan and I know that there has to be a comparable plan that would be less expensive than AT&T.  Could you please tell me again what company you use.
Sure! We use Mint Mobile; I pay $15/month for talk, text, and data. Talk and text are unlimited, and I also have unlimited data, except it slows down after 5 GB. But that’s usually a perfect amount for me.
A pink iphone with a happy camper sticker on the back.
There are other options, too, though, if you want truly unlimited high speed…that’s still only $30/month, which is super reasonable.
Switching to Mint was very easy, the service has been good, and the price is pretty much unbeatable. 10/10 from me!
Also, right now they are offering three months free when you buy a three month plan, so it’s a pretty sweet time to switch.
Have you read and would recommend any books similar to Unorthodox or Educated? I saw on your blog you enjoyed both of them, and I love memoirs about survival and tenacious, creative people.
Ooh, this is a good question! I found both of these memoirs super fascinating, and I would love to read more in this genre.
The cover of Unorthodox, by Deborah Feldman.
Maybe other readers can help us out. I’d say the theme of these books is something like…women breaking free from oppressive, fundamentalist religious sects, where they could not be properly educated or have freedom and agency.
Leave your recommendations in the comments for Andrea and me!
I saw that you don’t exchange Christmas gifts with nieces and nephews on your side. Do you also not exchange birthday gifts with them? What did Christmas and birthday gifts for nieces and nephews look like when they were young? Did you give gifts to them when they were little and then stop at a certain point? Or did you not give gifts from the beginning?

I also saw a post on Christmas traditions you do. Does this look different now that your kids are older? Do you put up a lot of decor besides a tree? Do you bake for a lot of people?

I’ve gotten to the point that I really dread Christmas. This mainly comes from ridiculous expectations that I feel like I need to meet because of the way my mom did Christmas. I’ve really worked to overcome those expectations and make Christmas the way I and my family want it to be, but I still have lingering dread when I think of Christmas. 🙁


My side of the family became so densely populated with children in a short period, it became rather obvious to everyone involved that gift-giving was going to become an unreasonable burden.

In families with just a few cousins/grandchildren, I can see it working out, but not with 17 cousins/grandchildren. I know that’s not super helpful advice because in my case, everyone was agreeable!

four stockings hanging on a mantel.

I do think that it is ok to kindly state your boundaries, and then after that, it’s up to you to manage your anxieties about people’s disapproval of your choices. And I offer a lot of empathy here because this is an enormous struggle for me (not regarding gift giving, but just in general!)

Something that might help: When you think, “Oh no! This person thinks we should all exchange gifts and they don’t approve of my choice!” is to realize that…you also disagree with how the other person is handling it, and they’re not caving to you.

As a people-pleaser, I know it’s a default to think that you are the one who is always wrong and you are the one who always needs to change, but there is some freedom in realizing that it’s a two-way street. You are not obligated to always be the one to cave to other people’s expectations of you.

candle carousel.

As far as Christmas stuff I do now…well, last Christmas and this Christmas, I’m in single mom and full-time college student mode. And since the semester ends around the 15th of December, it’s hard to do much Christmas stuff before then.

In short, I definitely have less time to do Christmas activities as compared to years ago.

Last year, I did decorate and we did get a tree and I did a little bit of baking. And of course, I bought presents!

LIving room built in shelves with candles.

This year, life is even more nuts for me, so I am giving myself a whole lotta grace about Christmas. Whatever I can manage, I will manage.

Life ebbs and flows at various stages, and the stage I’m in right now is unusually busy and hard. It would not be kind for me to expect the same stuff out of myself that I’ve always done.

Even as soon as next year, things will be different; I will still be in school, of course, but some of my other problems will be resolved. There will be time in the future to do more Christmas stuff if I so desire.

I don’t know if that’s very helpful, but there you go!

Readers, how would you answer these questions?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Friday 8th of December 2023

I thought I'd add a book recommendation for your other letter-writer: Geena Davis's memoir, Dying of Politeness, is a great read of a creative strong woman. She's not escaping her upbringing, except maybe metaphorically. I also enjoyed Molly Shannon's memoir as well, but it's just more entertaining than a triumph of life.


Tuesday 5th of December 2023

Christmas gifts: We used to send “Savings bonds” to nephews.But every year we mailed them and had to wonder if they acknowledgement!!! We did not get thank yous.I did not especially need a thank you but I DID need to know they arrived, since they had monetary value and could be lost in the mail,etc.. so, after having to call,with embarassment, every year for a few in a row and ask if the bonds arrived (why was I embarassed???) Anyhoo— ..whole thing felt bad so we just quit sending gifts no explanation.That was years ago and eveyone still loves us, lol.

No more kids here but we still enjoy Christmas and i always do the treet an dmantle decorations. We have a small gathering on Christmas eve and I make posole and cornbread and snacky things from Trader Joe.

We DON’T do house lights anymore:too much work!!


Tuesday 5th of December 2023

Leaving the Witness by Amber Scorah is her amazing story of leaving Jehovah's Witnesses. She lived as a secret missionary in China for many years. As a warning, her life after leaving includes a terrible tragedy and it's really hard to read about it, but this book is just wonderful in so many ways.


Tuesday 5th of December 2023

For a book recommendation, I highly recommend “The Sound of Gravel” by Ruth Wariner, a memoir about growing up in a polygamist community. It was sad but riveting and hopeful.


Monday 4th of December 2023

Three books about women coping with societal pressures that left an impression on me are:

The Outlander by Gil Adamson The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence Elle by Douglas Glover (note that this book is R-rated in places)


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.