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Hacks: Eleven suggestions for a better, possibly easier life

December 25, 2019
Elisabeth Sherwin -- ensherwin@gmail dot com
Columnist

It took me a while to figure out what exactly ďhacksĒ were supposed to be. Ways to gain access to secret accounts? Ways to open firmly closed jars or boxes? Mistakes you make cutting hair? Or shortcuts to a better life? Turns, out itís number four.

The term did stem originally from elements of computer hacking but itís a good thing, not a sneaky or illegal maneuver. Back in the day, I think we used to call them ďtips.Ē

But as the kids say: Whatever.

I have come up with my own list of hacks to make your life if not better or easier at least a little less guilt-ridden.

  1. Use a shoe-horn. I was late coming to this heel-saving technique. I would jam my finger in the base of my shoe and lose skin as I tried to squeeze my foot into the tight space. And, in the process, I would ruin the heel of my shoe. Shoe-horns are magic. Just line it up straight and your foot will slide right in.

  2. Send out cards by snail mail. Remember that everyone in your life is just there temporarily. You donít have to be compulsive about this and you donít need to spend a lot of money. I buy beautiful cards at thrift shops and keep a supply of stamps at home and everyone once is a while I send a friend or a relative a card just to let that person know I am thinking of him or her.

  3. Send Thanksgiving cards. If you get stressed at the thought of sending out Christmas cards, you can relieve much of that anxiety by getting an early start and sending Thanksgiving cards. Turkey Day is patriotic because it is uniquely American (although I think Canada copied us) yet not religious. Gratitude is a wonderful feeling to have and to share.

  4. Use coupons or gift cards right away. You may feel like saving them for a special occasion but I warn you. The cards will expire, you will not be able to find them when you want them, or the store or restaurant will go out of business. Ask me how I know. Carpe diem.

  5. Use the new toothbrushes you get from the dentist. Thatís why he gives them to you Ė to replace your old ones. I know someone who ended up with about a dozen brand-new unopened toothbrushes stuck in a bathroom drawer. He finally gave them away as stocking-stuffers. It would have been better for his teeth if he had used them as he received them, right?

  6. Stop collecting all the little shampoo and lotion bottles you get at hotels and motels. Yes, they are free. But what a terrible burden on the environment. More plastic waste upon plastic waste.

  7. If you donít already do this, jot down the names of your friendsí children in your address book by your friendís name. Letís face it, we are at the age when itís very difficult to remember all those people but if we should remember and ask after them, our friends will be very pleased indeed.

  8. I am not very creative but not long ago I bought a glue gun, watched a few videos on line, happened upon a stash of felt squares, and began making felt flower pins. I handed out a bunch to my friends, but soon saturated the market. Now when I make a bunch I give them to the girls who work in the veterinarianís office, the nurses in the clinic and the bank clerks. When we went to France, I handed them out to the hotel maids and gave one to the bus driver who took us to Monetís garden.

  9. Youíve heard this one before: Go through your old photos and to the best of your ability try to date them. But then go through them again and mail special ones to someone in the photo that you havenít seen for a while. They will be delighted, guaranteed. For instance, I found a photo of a former roommate embracing her dog. The dog is long dead, the roommate married and moved away, but I knew she would love the photo. I mailed it to her and I was right, she loved it.

  10. Small flashlights are coming down in price to about $1 each. My partner thinks this is a very important hack. He would like to see all of us buy 10 flashlights and then put them on our key chains, in our cars, on the bedside table and on the key rack. Personally, I am not convinced. Perhaps we could talk about this. I canít remember ever using a tiny flashlight (when the power goes out I grab a big flashlight) and nine times out of 10 when I need a flashlight, no matter what the size, the battery is dead.

  11. Finally, a Christmas present hack. Warning: this will only work if you are living with or close to someone whose tastes you know well. I recommend getting a new book from the library, wrapping it up, and presenting it to him or her on the big day. This will work well if you know, for instance, that your partner is just waiting for the new Jack Reacher novel, will read it quickly, and will return it to the library before it is overdue. Think of the money youíve saved!
So, those are my 11 hacks for better living. Perhaps this list will make you think of your own tips or suggestions. If so, please, share them with me. I know I canít get out of life alive, but Iím all in favor of anything I can do to make it easier. Peace and happy holidays.

-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at ensherwin@gmail.com

For More Information, Visit These Links:

  • 100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier
  • 49 Life Hacks Youíll Wish You Knew Sooner

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