Helping You Help Yourself #50

feature image via shutterstock

Look at this cute mini-scrapbook out of a paper bag at Rookie. If you’re coming to A-Camp, this would be a perfect project to record memories of it! Just saying!

In the last installment of this column we talked about wrist exercises (which I’ve been doing maybe 70% as often as I had wanted to, and are helping a lot!) and this is a full yoga/exercise routine for people who sit at desks and work at computers aimed at addressing some of the chronic issues and pains that can bring with it. I feel like if I did this whole routine, which comes out to about an hour long, two or three times a week I would be able to see through time and walk on water. I came across it through this article on working from home as a researcher with a chronic illness; you might like to read it also!

I have to say, Lifehacker has really been killing it with adjusting their servicey content to our dark times. Here’s some hypothetical, thought-experiment exploration of having a medical abortion at home with mail-order pills.

A guide to how to say no to things! It’s written for a business context, so some things are really only applicable to that (“set up an autoresponder”) and some aren’t necessarily super feasible in any context (“get a personal assistant”), but a lot of it is useful suggestions about setting boundaries in any situation.

A guide for how to tell how old your home appliances are, and when they need to be replaced. For renters, pair with this Q&A on getting your landlord to replace or reimburse broken appliances.

A post on keeping energy up in stressful times! A-Camp is in like two weeks!

I’ve always wanted to have a full hands-on tutorial in my apartment from a professional cleaner, because I am haunted by the idea that I am just traipsing through adulthood without knowing how to clean things properly. This isn’t quite that thing, but here is a list of 5 cleaning products that pros swear by.

I think I’m okay at cleaning up broken glass, but I’m still glad I read this guide on it from The Kitchn because I didn’t know about the potato/bread thing.

The ways to store plastic grocery bags are all so easy I feel a little silly sharing them and yet, all of mine are definitely just in a weird gross pile in the corner, so maybe you needed this as much as I did.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1141 articles for us.


  1. “I’ve always wanted to have a full hands-on tutorial in my apartment from a professional cleaner”

    OMG I now know what I want for my 30th birthday *heart eyes emoji*

    Also thank you, this and the “saying no” article are super useful.

  2. personal update: not 30 minutes after posting this article including the cleaning up broken glass link, i broke some glass! ~ know thyself ~

  3. I wish I had the will power/discipline to do one hour of yoga every day

    • I really like the Yoga with Adriene channel on YouTube – she has playlists of videos that are under 10 mins, 10-15 mins, 20-25 mins etc. so you can fit in a yoga quickie on days when you’re too busy/tired/unmotivated to do any more than that. And she’s quirky and cute and makes dirty jokes. What more can you ask for in a yoga instructor?

  4. Don’t take this the wrong way, it’s not directed at you personally, Rachel–

    I’m reading autostraddle for a while now. You have a lot of articles about politics and “self help in dark times” – But what I actually see is either about house keeping, health, or fashion. Or you report about dance partys in front of the white house and book clubs to read Handmaid’s Tale.

    It’s like reading one of those women’s magazines at the supermarket counter.

    What has become of lesbians/bi women I wonder. In my times, lesbians/bi women were doing self defence classes and studying partisan methods. They were getting into tech jobs, learning how to hack. They were involved in actual politics etc.

    I doubt that “feminine virtues” will do the trick when you face an enemy like the new US administration.
    (I’m not from the US, but it’s pretty similar where I live, only not as bad yet).

    So what I’m trying to say is- why do you never report about said topics like self-defence, hacking, serious activism, etc? I’d really like to hear about that too.

    • Well this doesn’t sound accurate to me. There have been a lot of articles on Autostraddle recently about community organizing; Kaelyn has a whole series dedicated to it. There’s also a lot of reporting on hate crimes which keeps us informed and appropriately outraged. Harmful bills are flagged and wherever appropriate, political engagement suggested and outlined. You can check out the tags News + Politics, Politics + Activism and The Resistance to filter these out, if you’d like.

      I also feel that reading a book like The Handmaid’s tale is an act of resistance. Reading in general – including the stuff posted online/here – serves to fortify, encourage, warn and embolden us. When I read articles like the one Rachel posted about saying No, I’m addressing decades of subtle, sometimes imperceptible conditioning – and that makes me stronger, more resistant to bullshit and more likely to act in my own best interest.

      Sure, there’s reporting about dance parties in front of the White House, but there were also photo essays from the Women’s March and Science March. When you say you’d like to hear about that too, it actually sounds like those are the only topics that interest you – which is fine. But some of us need some levity in our days, some humor and comfort and fun. I can’t think about politics all day, every day; it wears me down and makes me pessimistic, and I can’t think of a worse recipe for survival.

    • do you even read this site, mm? adding to lists already mentioned are the geek your tech articles about how to seriously protect your data from hacking (since you brought that up). Also did you not even see the first article listed, about DIY abortions since apparently having a uterus is considered a pre-existing condition for these fools running this shitshow?

  5. I’m really lucky as my mums prepared to act as my pa in exchange for me acting as her proofreader. She’s dyslexic, I have social anxiety and the workload matches out. So the pa option might be available through friends/family even if you can’t afford to pay, if you offer something similar in return.
    Obviously this only really applies to people who aren’t super busy/surrounded by super busy ppl.

  6. Plastic bag organization is a Special Interest of mine. I inspect plastic bags for holes or tears and if I find either the bag goes to a thin film recycling bin. If the bag is completely intact, I fold it like a triangle:
    Then the traingle-folded bags fit neatly in my A-Camp tote that hangs from a Command hook on the back of a kitchen cabinet door.

  7. Rachel, in all quotable seriousness, I would give you (and any other straddlers interested) a hands-on tutorial in good housekeeping–purely out of my gratitude for all the good work you all are doing here. And I am a professional. CV upon request.

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