To Serve

Jan 19:  Well, I guess it’s a little easier to stick with your packed lunch on a day you have a meeting straight through lunch.  I declined the catered food option and didn’t look back or dwell on it.  If you’ve read all my blog entries this month and have thought ‘wow, she has a lot of meetings through lunch and receives a lot of free food at work’, you would be correct.

*organic chocolate protein shake

*organic strawberry greek yogurt

*shredded chicken + pico de gallo + low fat sour cream.  Low fat sour cream purchased at a grocery store is gross.  Just gross.  I mean, I keep eating it, but yuck.

*afternoon snack that escapes me.  I believe I had a quest bar.

*whole wheat pasta + shredded chicken + marinara

I also forget what I did for a workout today because I waited too long to type this entry.

Jan 20:  I packed my lunch in my new containers that are oh-so-cool, but was asked to lunch by a work friend and took that option instead, bumping my lunch meal to my dinner meal.  It all worked out.

*organic chocolate protein shake

*mixed berry applesauce cup

*(The Elevator Restaurant) – chicken and rice soup + hummus + vegetables + I might have had like 3 pieces of the multigrain bread that comes out before.  I just can’t even help myself with that.  I love it.  I want to eat more of it right now as I type this.  I normally wouldn’t get soup too, but I was starving and it was cold and I wanted that soup asap.

soup

hummus

*organic fig and date greek yogurt (gross. fig and date….sick)

*organic oat and raisin bar (kid sized)

*spinach feta turkey burger + broccoli + whole wheat pasta + marinara

Here’s a pic of the meals I prepared.  Dinner today was the top one.

meals

I lifted legs and did the stairmaster for 15 minutes

Jan 21:  Thursday food goes….

*organic oat and raisin bar (kid size)

*mixed berry applesauce cup

*(work cafeteria) – turkey burger on wheat bun.  I had lunch plans that were rescheduled so I had to hit the cafeteria and fortunately they have a turkey burger option.  Though I may have text a few friends with something to the nature of “I just about paid my entire Christmas money for some fried chicken and macaroni and cheese they’re serving in the cafeteria today.”

I did bad about recording the rest of my food in MyFitnessPal app so the rest escapes me.  Sorry.  It was healthy, I promise.

I knew my work schedule was packed and I had to run errands after work, so I did a 10 minute ab video + 5 minute yoga video in the morning.  It was all I could give today in the workout world.

Jan 22:  Chris told me I look skinnier today.  Yes!

*organic oat and raisin bar (kid size)

I missed my mid-morning snack due to an impromptu meeting

*spinach feta turkey burger + broccoli + brown rice

*organic strawberry greek yogurt

*ancient oat granola-type of cereal + almond milk (I just can’t even with a real dinner on Fridays if I’m not going out to eat)

I did a 30 minute Jillian Michaels ab videos while in pajamas by 7pm too.  I lead a crazy life.

Jan 23:  Unfortunately, Chris’ great aunt passed away last week so we were headed back to Dayton to celebrate her life at her funeral service.  Rather than document my food choices today, because none of that really matters on days like this, I’ll just leave you with this…

After the viewing and funeral service at the cemetery, there was a lunch back at the church.  I’ve always heard of people gathering after a funeral for food and fellowship, and have even participated in a lunch after a funeral in Kentucky after an extended family member passed away (I was probably 12 or 13 years old?).  I didn’t think much about it at that time other than I wondered how the close family felt about having to host so many people during a hard time.  But the lunch today was held at the church and while I did share conversation with Chris’ great aunt on Thanksgiving for about an hour about her life stories and adventures, I can’t say we were very close just based on location (she lived in Pennsylvania) and the number of times we had ever seen each other during the time Chris and I have been married.  But, when we walked in the church, it smelled so good.  In a comforting good smelling sort of way.  In a comforting home cooking sort of way.  When we turned the corner there was a whole buffet set up.  There was food, desserts, coffee, etc and people from the church cleaning up, moving chairs where needed, etc.  I just kept thinking ‘where did this food come from?  who made this?  this is the first time I feel like I’m being served by others through food.‘  I told Chris, that while we’ve all certainly been served food….through dinners out and food-related activities you pay for, I was pretty overwhelmed that people we didn’t even know had prepared all this food for us.  I realize that those individuals cooking likely did know members of the family and they were all obviously members of the church, but as someone who is married into the family and didn’t have the opportunity to have a real close relationship with the person who passed away, I know I felt very thankful for those who were servants and could only imagine how the rest of the family felt.  The pastor told everyone they could stay as long as they wanted.  It opened my eyes to being a servant in a different kind of way.  A testimony to the type of servant Chris’ great aunt was during her life too.  The food on the plate didn’t matter, the heart of those who were serving us did.

On another yet similar note, the pastor shared a phrase that Chris’ great aunt, Virginia Ann, used to say before she passed which was “never love something that can’t love you back.”  I wrote that down in my 5 year journal.  Be it a love for unhealthy foods, a love of material items, etc…I thought that was worth sharing.

I could make this post a lot longer.  I have a lot of thoughts to share here.

Jan 24:  I decided to only weigh myself on Jan 1 and then again the last week of the month to give you an update on my progress  (as if you’re all waiting with bated breath).  I couldn’t wait any longer and decided to pull the trigger today.

Wait for it…..

Wait for it….

Jan 1 = 150.5lbs

Jan 24 = 144.5lbs

<<fist bump>>

I was pleased!  I’ve lost 6lbs and my overall goal is to lose 15 by my birthday (March 25…as if you didn’t have it already marked on your calendars).

Today, food went down like…

*organic apple sauce cup on my way out the door to Whole Foods

*(Whole Foods) green goddess smoothie

*organic fruit strip thing that’s like a fruit roll-up

*(Northstar) – granola + ricotta pancake.  Now, I’ve been avoiding the pancake all month.  But, I was getting cocky about my progress knowing I was down 6lbs, plus my breakfast hadn’t been anything substantial really more than green juice and those 2 small snacks.  The pancake made me so happy I literally smiled when they set it in front of me.  It was worth it.

pancake

*trail mix (full disclosure, it has little pieces of chocolate in it)

I’m typing this before dinner, so TBD on my last meal of the day.

I did yoga today too.

How to Balance It All

“Work life balance” wasn’t a phrase I was familiar with before moving to Columbus and working at my current company.  I was intrigued when I was hired because it sounded like my new company was “good about that” and it seemed like I would be able to not only work at a great place, but leave at the same time every day (even granted flex hours which was going to allow me to choose my start and end time), get a workout in, and go home (which was an apartment at the time) to my fiance who would turn husband in 30 days, and we could eat dinner together and plan to buy a house.  I was craving the routine and wanted to use my spare time for last minute wedding planning, house hunting, and figuring out how to get around on 270.

A little over 7 years later, “work life balance” means something totally different to me.  Or how about we say “balance.”  I am going to share my theory on “how to balance it all” based on information I’ve heard through speakers, friends, blogs, books, random passerbys, therapists, coworkers, etc.  I feel like this topic is relevant because 1.  Who isn’t trying to balance it all but feeling like they’re drowning?  2.  I’ve spent a lot of time researching the topic and feel it my duty to pass on the good word.  3.  People who follow my blog often ask me how I “balance it all.”  4.  My monthly goal of eating healthy is reminding me of the principles I preach to people who ask me to mentor them at work, so here goes….

In my life, there are 5 major areas that are important to me:

1.  My faith

2.  My health

3.  My relationships (husband, parents, friends)

4.  My job

5.  Other interests, hobbies, travel, adventures, fake businesses that I’ll never start, shopping, watching motivational speakers, etc.

We all have a list.  What I would love to tell you is, that list is the order of their importance and the order of how I spread my time and attention…but it’s not.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s the aspirational version of my order of importance, but I when I dissect my day, I think it’s fair to say the majority of my time and energy are often allocated to item #4 and then the rest fall where they may.

What I have learned is (and have heard many ‘a Christian speakers give the same sentiment) is that we should look at our lives in a season.  It’s sometimes easier to swallow.  (I’ll be un-apologetically using several examples from my life to help illustrate the point).  For example, when I was moving to Columbus and getting what was once my “new job,” I was in a season of getting married, house hunting, merging bank accounts with Chris, selling my old house, and figuring out what living together really looked like.  In that season, I needed a job that I could leave at the same time everyday and then go tend to that to do list.  I got that job.  I tended to those things.  A new season came.

There was a season of going to grad school where I needed my life set up in a way where I didn’t overcommit to weekend plans.  There was a season of life where I was doing figure competitions and I needed to carve out time for workouts twice a day and cooking a ridiculous amount of food for the week.  There was a season or two where I was applying for promotions at work and I needed more than 40 hours in the office to cover those duties.  There have been seasons where my family has needed me in one way or another and I’ve needed to be able to drive to Dayton on the fly.  There have been seasons where we needed a vacation so bad that I needed (“need” is a loose term) to spend a ridiculous amount of time researching hotels.

Some seasons are harder than others.  Some seasons last longer than others.  But in no season can everything on my list be #1.  This does not mean everything else on the list gets a half-ass or 50% effort.  I can be in a season of focusing on my health and still do a kick-ass job at work, but I know that the above-and-beyond-logging-in-at-night piece may have to take a back seat for a quick second while I cook a healthy dinner.  I can apply for a new position at work and give that my 100%, but that doesn’t mean I ignore Chris or my friends and family and only focus on work.  I may not be able to text them all day everyday, but I find creative ways in the moments I do have to show them what they mean to me.

My biggest piece of advice when it comes to looking at your life in seasons is, you have to communicate to the people closest to you about what season you’re in!  I see this go south ALL THE TIME!  I watch friends, family members, coworkers, and strangers who decide to pursue a “season calling” – and let’s say it comes in the form of a new hobby.  They go all in.  They tell no one.  They just show up doing the new thing they do or wearing the new thing they’re into or going to conferences related to whatever they’re digging at that time.  It leaves their support system going “why the hell did so-and-so buy a Harley and now he’s saying he’s going to drive it across the country?” or “So-and-so has been working so much, it’s like we don’t even exist, she never returns my calls” or “So-and-so is so obsessed with so-and-so and never even hangs out with me anymore.”  They’re clueless….because you never told them….and now you want them to cheer you on and adapt?!

If you don’t tell your spouse, friends, and maybe the couple people you sit next to at work that you’re in a season of <insert season of your life> they are going to have no idea and will in turn become a barrier instead of a supporter.  You will not only have this new season to deal with, but now you have to go around defending it to people and backing up and starting from the beginning.  I’m not suggesting you tell everyone all the gory details of your life or random things that pique your interest – but when a big season is coming, you’re welcome to steal a line or two from my book….

“Hey <insert your BFF’s name> I just got a promotion and I’m so excited, but I’m going to end up doing my old job and new job for the next 90 days or so until they find a replacement.  So if you don’t hear from me, hang tight and know I’m thinking about you.  Let’s get something on the calendar a few months out because I’ll be dying to catch up with you and it’ll give me something to look forward to” <insert super supportive friends and family who will give you space.  And you’ll have fun plans to look forward to>

“Hey <insert your spouse’s name> I am on this huge project at work and it’s killing me.  Be patient with me this week and I promise to emerge as myself again by the weekend.”  <insert understanding spouse who may do a chore or two of yours now>

“I know this sounds really crazy, but I’m thinking about taking <insert random hobby or class you’ve always wanted to do>.  You can make fun of me if you want, I’m cool with that, but I’m just checking it out for fun and you’re welcome to join me” <insert you being able to take a joke when people tease you/freedom to not have to hide your interests>

“Hey <insert coworkers names> so-and-so in my family has been in and out of the hospital and that’s just where my head is at.  I’ll know more next week, but I just wanted you to know in case I’m a little off.  I can’t talk about it right now without being upset but I wanted you to know.” <insert coworkers who cover things for you without you having to ask>

“Hey <insert everyone who invites you to lunch> I’m on this crazy diet again.  So if you see me decline lunch plans, it’s only because I’m tryin’ to get fit and all that fun stuff.  Pencil me in for a pizza in 12 weeks!” <insert the hope of a pizza while you’re on a diet>

By sharing, you’re allowing your scale to tip more towards the season you’re in and less towards the other priorities in your life that have to take a back seat for a moment.

It doesn’t work perfect every time and these quotes may be oversimplifying the season you’re in, but I can tell you that you’ll get a lot of people backing you and rising up to support you when you’re straight up about the season you’re in.  You don’t have to set up special super creepy long drawn out conversation types of meetings to share this info.  You don’t even have to share your feelings about it.  Just give a 1-2 sentence heads up to the people around you about where your head is at and you’ll save yourself some grief on the back end.

This leads me to my final thoughts on how to “balance it all” even though I hope I’ve shown you that “balancing” doesn’t mean all of the priorities in your life get 100% at all times.  When you approach a season, or you find yourself smack dab in the middle of one and don’t know how you got there….set an end date for that season (and most importantly, communicate that to the people you’re sharing with per my recommendation above).  Some seasons are easier for this than others – so I’m going to give you my best suggestions…

If you’re in a season by choice (i.e. hobby, a class, house shopping, money saving, etc) then you can set an end goal.  “I want to be done with my Masters degree by X date.”  “I want to find a house to buy by spring.”  “I want to save X amount of dollars by X date.”  Share the date with people.  Put a countdown app on your phone.  Set up a celebration (I don’t always mean party, this could be a half day and pajamas and TV time).

If you’re in a season that you’ve landed in and wish you could be out of, set a check-in date.  Set a date that you’ll check-in with yourself and your sanity.  You may not be able to exit that season, but you may be able to say “if I’m still working 60 hours a week by March 30th then I will pursue getting another job.”  “If this person still needs my assistance by April, then I will hire someone to help me take care of them.”  “If my business doesn’t turn a profit by June, then I will seek advice from a consultant.”  It’s a sanity check that allows an undesirable or tough season to not become your entire life.  It allows you time to live in the season, but time to check-in on your mental health and make decisions on the next step.

With all that said, “balance” to me means that there are seasons where work requires 50+ hours a week.  I can tell my husband, my parents, and my friends that I’ll be heads down at work and they give me space, they pray for me, and they are waiting on the other side when I turn in assignments, finish a project, or get a new position.  It means that when I need to spend time pursuing a dream of mine, like writing a book, I can position myself and my team at work to get work done within a fair amount of hours per week so I can free up my personal time to focus on the book.  It means that when I need to focus on my health by eating better and working out more, I can adjust the other things in my top #5 to allow me to do this.  It means I can tip my scale towards what needs it and I can do this through planning and communicating with the people around me.

So I’ll leave you with this…

*Make your list of your top 5 priorities in life

*Know that only 1 can get your 100% and the others can be 80%

*Tell people what is your #1 right now/what season you’re in

*Set an end date or sanity check (and communicate that to people)

*Rotate the top 5 list as needed

Focusing on eating better has reminded me of this dance we do that we call “balance” and I felt all of these thoughts stirring inside me that had to get out.

As for my week of food choices, I continue the regularly scheduled program below.

Jan 8:  Like….if you can stick to a diet on a Friday, you’re basically in the top 5% of people in life, ever.  I had a belated holiday lunch on the calendar today with some work peeps, so my choices played out like…

*Organic blueberries

*Organic oatmeal chocolate chip square

*(Cooper’s Hawk) – Parmesan crusted chicken (was reminded when it arrived how there’s healthier chicken dishes out there) + potatoes (they turned out to be mashed potatoes but a small portion) + garlic green beans + the best coffee ever.  I text my friend, Katie, after the lunch and she reminded me that it’s just 1 meal.  It’s not spiraling into all kinds of bad choices.  I took her advice.  I moved on.  I actually forgot until re-reading this blog I even ate it.  Sidenote:  must go to Cooper’s Hawk more often.

*Protein shake – In the Magic Bullet I put organic chocolate protein powder + ice + 1 scoop organic crunchy peanut butter + cashew milk.  It’s okay.  People brag about how good their protein shakes taste.  None of them taste good, it’s just all about how much “proteiny” taste you’re willing to stomach.

*Organic fruit bar

*Spinach feta turkey burger + asparagus salad

I lifted and did cardio too.

Jan 9:  My day off working out, which means I really need to stay the course on the diet.  This was made easier when I woke up to the kitchen smelling like a restaurant.  Chris made me breakfast!  By the evening, I was mass texting and posting on my private Facebook page with my friends about how I really wanted to cheat on my diet but wasn’t going to.  But I really wanted to.  But I didn’t.  But I wanted to.

*egg sandwich (Ezekiel english muffin + eggs) + organic turkey bacon

*(Whole Foods) – “green goddess” smoothie.  This is where things became difficult.  This was technically lunch time and it wasn’t enough, so I found myself starving later in the day and way under my total calories that I should’ve been at….so I kept snacking!

*Organic oatmeal chocolate chip square

*Organic white cheddar popcorn (I bought the bag last week, I’m shocked I didn’t open it earlier)

*Spinach feta turkey burger with guacamole on top + asparagus salad

*Bowl of some sort of Granola Ancient Grains cereal with cashew milk.

*Ritz crackers

Jan 10:  Sunday.  The day I created a new yoga/formal/cardio outfit all in one.  I was headed to an hour of yoga, a friend’s graduation ceremony, and then to the gym for cardio.  I managed to pull off one look for all of this.

*organic banana

*(Northstar) – granola + mint iced coffee.  I’m aware of the high number of calories in this dish, thank you MyFitnessPal for ruining that for me, but I don’t care.  It’s “healthy” and it’s my weekly tradition and I love it.  So it stays on the menu.

*Chocolate chip Cliff Bar

*Organic chocolate protein shake

*Spinach feta turkey burger + a handful of organic white cheddar popcorn (popcorn isn’t on a fitness competitors diet….but I’m making my own rules here)

I’m doing the diet and the workouts….I’m feeling good.  I’ve sworn the scale off until the end of the month to avoid getting derailed if the numbers aren’t what I am dreaming of.

Jan 11:  Work is full of back to back meetings but is actually serving as a good distraction these days.  I hop meeting to meeting and only have time to eat what I’ve packed and am so distracted with current assignments that I don’t dwell on the sad little lump of lean meat that I call my lunch.

*I think I had an organic chocolate protein shake, or an organic oatmeal chocolate chip square.  Whatever it was, I was apparently too busy to track it in MyFitnessPal app.

*organic banana

*spinach feta turkey burger + quinoa black bean salad

*blackberries + blueberries + greek yogurt

*handful of organic white cheddar popcorn (during that pre-dinner starving mode) + egg sandwich (Ezekiel english muffin + 2 eggs + shredded cheese)

*Ritz crackers

I lifted legs and did some cardio to the tunes of Missy Elliott.

Jan 12:  You couldn’t pay me money to cheat on my diet.  I’m too far in.

*half of an organic chocolate chip oatmeal square (it was 4:45am and I was headed to spinning, I was eating out of necessity, not because I was hungry)

*organic chocolate protein shake

*organic banana

*spinach feta turkey burger + quinoa black bean salad.  The microwave line was really long in the cafeteria and I had a meeting at noon….so….I ate it cold.  Yup.  <drops mic>

*organic strawberry greek yogurt

*organic chocolate protein shake

*egg sandwich (Ezekiel english muffin, 2 eggs, a little bit of shredded cheese)

 

 

 

Screw Authority and Pass the Bread

Jan 5:  The second day back at work and 5 days into this goal.  The unofficial time frame when most people quit.  Here’s what yours truly gobbled up today…

*oats

*ground turkey + whole wheat pasta + organic marina (left overs from yesterday) + salad with italian dressing.  I packed the first items and snagged the salad from the catered lunch we had during a meeting at work.

*organic banana

*organic fruit bar

*organic orange

*ezekial english muffin with organic crunchy peanut butter

*organic chocolate protein shake

90 minutes of zumba thrown in there just to remind me how 90 minutes of zumba kills my knees.  Thank you college cheerleading days.

I got caught at work late tonight doing a last minute request.  I became very aware on my drive home what my triggers are for bad food and skipped workouts.  I found myself wanting a big bowl of pasta and to just go home and put on sweats.  I stayed the course of the plan, but now I know the 4-6pm time frame is critical for me on my evening decisions.  Whatever happens at work from 4-5pm has typically determined the fate of my pants size (leads to my theory that as your income increases, so does your pants size).

We know research and official studies tell us that people with unhealthy food behaviors (everything from anorexia, bulimia, etc) don’t have an issue with food per se, we hear they are typically making unhealthy choices (undereating or overeating) based on a problem centered around control.  Don’t quote me on all of this because I’m no expert here, but that is information we know if we research eating disorders.  When I ask myself why I can’t stick to a clean diet sometimes or what makes me want to overeat, I think I have figured it out….

<Pauses to ask self how long I can make this blog because there’s a lot of potential words here>

The short version is…it’s control.  Not control in the sense that my life is out of control and making food choices is my one source of control, but control in the sense that I am a people pleaser and take direction a lot with little to no push-back (unless it’s really warranted).  I do what I’m told.  I follow the rules.  I’m the peacemaker.  And then, when I have my own personal time, I can be found saying phrases like “I just want to eat whatever I want” or “I can have anything I want, where should I go.”  I may not say that outloud, but that’s the inner narrative.  It’s like, I have to do what other people say most of the day…..most of us do….that’s how we have jobs and make money and keep ourselves from getting fired….but my version of “doing whatever I want” or “calling my own shots” or “rebelling” (in the saddest description of a “rebel” ever since I’m such a rule follower) is going and getting a pizza or eating a whole bread basket before a big pasta meal, or getting the dessert and refusing to split it with anyone (see also:  only child syndrome, hatred of splitting meals).  I guess diving into a big dish of “whatever I want” and eating “wherever I want” is my metaphorical middle finger to rules and the world.

Jan 6:  Woke up later than I wanted to (didn’t take long for that to settle in this year) and didn’t have a lunch packed because I originally had lunch plans for work that were rescheduled.  Food was happenin’ like….

*organic chocolate protein shake on the way into work

*early lunch that I bought in our cafeteria – salad with chicken with lite ranch dressing + cottage cheese

*organic granola bar

*organic banana

*fruit bar

*(Whole Foods) green smoothie from their juice bar (pear, cucumber, pineapple, kale, spinach, and parsley)

*Egg sandwich (Ezekiel english muffin with 2 eggs on it and a little shredded cheese)

Today was my rest day from working out, but I still did 10 burpees and 50 sit ups in my pajamas just for good measure.  I feel like I haven’t lost a pound but I’m not dwelling on it.  I cooked turkey burgers tonight for my lunch and dinner tomorrow…I’m definitely in it to win it right now.

Jan 7:  I’m a week in, guess I’m really doing this thing.  I’ve had to do a lot of self-motivation, self-talk, and a few outloud prayers in my car to keep me on track.  I had an all day meeting today which not only included catered lunch, but catered breakfast too.  Here’s how I handled the day…

*oats (I knew I better eat before the meeting or I’d cave in the face of free breakfast sandwiches and potatoes)

*fruit bar

*spinach feta turkey burger + quinoa black bean salad (I packed both of those) + salad from panera (that was catered).  When I opened the salad box, a chocolate chip cookie was staring me in the face.  I wanted it so bad.  So bad.  I’m still thinking about it as I type this.  I stood up and took the cookie back over to the table so I wasn’t tempted.  I pulled the salad out and found a baguette.  I ate the baguette.  I told myself I’d do extra cardio tonight.  I don’t even know why I ate it.

*organic blackberries

*organic greek yogurt + honey

*organic chocolate protein shake

*1/2 spinach feta turkey burger + egg sandwich (Ezekial english muffin with 2 eggs and a little shredded cheese)

I lifted (back), ran a mile, walked 10 minutes, and did 17 minutes on the elliptical.  Hopefully that at least worked off the baguette.

Tomorrow, I face the weekend…..

 

Am I Skinny Yet?

My goal for January is to eat like a fitness competitor.  Now, I’ve competed before, so this technically isn’t going to look like a get-on-stage diet for those former or current competitors who may be reviewing my menus, but for the sake of a 1 sentence goal that motivates me and makes me feel cool, this is a month of “eating like a fitness competitor”….

Jan 1:  I am 150.5lbs.  The most I’ve ever weighed.  Not the sentence I wanted to start 2016 with but I’m reluctantly posting it in the spirit of “share my life on a blog and hope it inspires someone in the world.”  2015 was an exciting year and to say I accomplished a lot would be an understatement, but to say I accomplished a lot and leave out the part where a lot of those times I was sitting in front of a computer for 12+ hours (possibly consuming more than my fair share of little treasures in the shape of carbohydrates) would be a lie.

I don’t know if I want to dive into all the feelings (yeah, I don’t) about how that number, 150.5, is making me feel or you guys may email me phone numbers for therapists or never read my blog again.  Honestly, I don’t care about the number at all, I just feel really out of shape compared to what I know I can do and what makes me happy.  I’m aware that weight is a goal weight for most and I do not share it to give you the idea that I think it’s a weight that is too heavy.  I share it as a former gymnast, former college cheerleader, former figure competitor, and wife of a bodybuilder.  I share it as someone whose facing the reality that I’m not in the shape I want to be in and it hits really hard sometimes.  I share it because I can achieve all the goals under the sun, but unless I feel healthy and physically my best, there’s a tiny black cloud that looms over moments of my day.  Be it 200lbs, 150lbs, 110lbs….we all have our point that once we’ve surpassed it, we just carry a little grudge around on our shoulder and cry when it’s time to squeeze into dress pants in the morning.

So let’s skip the “you’re in great shape compared to most” or “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you look great” or the “look at everything else you’ve done, you can’t do it all” nonsense and get this goal rollin’…..

I’ll share what I’m eating everyday, not to brag or show you that I’m nailing it, but to show you that I’m doing this thing kicking and screaming and daydreaming of donuts….but I will do it (and you can too!)

Today’s “feast” included…

*Oats + 2 eggs + coffee w/ milk

*Banana + trail mix

*Hard boiled egg whites + a few scoops of random “healthy” looking items on the Whole Foods Salad bar

*Ground chicken tacos (organic ground chicken, organic taco seasoning, organic blue taco shells, shredded cheese, organic salsa)

*5 ritz crackers with organic crunchy peanut butter on them

*Finished off a little grape juice I had left at home somewhere in there today too

There was some weight lifting and cardio thrown in there too.

Jan 2:  Am I skinny yet?

I hit the gym for about 15 minutes on the elliptical (running short on time or would’ve done more) and then headed to yoga with some friends which was held at a brewery, followed by brunch.  Here’s what went down the hatch today…

*Oats

*Organic granola bar

*(Zauber Brewing Company) – egg tacos (corn tortillas, vegetables, egg, jalapeno slaw that made my mouth feel on fire) + potato cake + iced coffee

*Organic peppermint tea

*Ground chicken taco (left over from yesterday but only did 1 shell)

*1 chocolate milk juice box (because I am obviously a six year old and still drink tiny juice boxes when they sell them by the singles)

*1 organic fruit bar (it’s just smashed up fruit made into a bar, like a glorified yet less exciting version of a fruit roll-up because there’s literally no other ingredients added)

*7 or so ritz crackers because I ate dinner too early

Jan 3:  After only 2 days my “food baby” has actually gone down a little and I felt pretty good when I woke up.  I’m reminded how it only takes me a couple days before I feel better and lose the general bloated feeling.

Food choices unfolded as such….

*Oats

*(Northstar Café) Granola + iced mint coffee (I pouted to myself a little because I wanted to order a single pancake to go with it or one of their praline scones that were staring at me while I waited in line, but I didn’t want to have to post that I ate one so I passed on them)

*Hot coffee

*Organic chocolate protein shake

*Ground chicken taco (same taco left overs as mentioned before)

*1 organic fruit bar

*1 scoop of organic peanut butter that I licked straight off the spoon

There was some yoga in there too

Jan 4:  First day back at work.  With cooler in tote, my meals were as follows…

*oats + 1 scoop of organic chocolate protein powder.  It was as bad as it sounds.

*organic blackberries

*Ground chicken taco (the last of the taco left overs thank goodness) – no shell today

*organic orange

*organic peanut butter on ezekial bread english muffin

*Ground turkey with whole wheat noodles and organic marinara + organic green drink which was kale, apple, and lemon

There was some lifting (legs) and stairmaster action in there today.

I hate packing my lunch.  It’s no fun and I have to use a community microwave.

 

2016 Goals (and our 2015 recap video)

We officially have a year of Gals with Goals under our belt! 12 months done, lots of blog posts and feelings shared, and a lot of crazy adventures in the books (recap video below).  As if that wasn’t enough, we’ve decided to give this thing one more year <crowd roars>.

Here’s what will have my time and attention in 2016…

January – Eat like a fitness competitor

February – Take boxing classes

March – Prepare for a fitness photo shoot

April – Do 1 thing a day I’ve been procrastinating

May – Revisit my book publishing goal (and get that thing in print this year!)

June – Try a new volunteer opportunity

July – Take an improv class

August – Paint and decorate our spare bedroom

September – Angela’s pick (like last year, we dedicated 1 month to a goal that the other person selects for us)

October – Read stories in the Bible/work my way through a structured Bible study

November – Launch a personal website

December – Celebrate 2 years of Gals with Goals complete!*

*We reserve the right to hold December for silly celebratory-type of goals that include cookies, presents, selfies, and nothing that requires any real talent or challenge based on lessons learned in December 2015 and the fact that we will have each completed 23 goals by then.

For a recap of 2015 (and to hear our actual voices vs. reading our writing), check out our video mere days before it becomes a viral YouTube sensation and we are too busy responding to fan mail to record such things next year.

10 Things I’ve Learned from Trying to Speak at the Moth (and a sappy note to our loyal readers)

Angela and I decided to pick goals for each other in the month of December.  She challenged me to speak at The Moth, which are events where people stand up and tell a story in front of a live audience….right up my alley!  I have yet to hit the Moth stage, but will continue this goal into 2016 and will hopefully have the opportunity to gab on the Moth stage soon.  Here are 10 things I’ve learned this month in the process…

Good Friends Know You Better Than Yourself – When we originally decided to pick goals for each other, I think we were both a little nervous on what the other person would come up with.  I kept trying to think of something in my world that Angela should try and I figured she’d have me playing an instrument by Christmas since she’s a musician.  BUT, she picked a goal that she knew I would love.  She picked a goal that aligned to what I have always dreamed of doing.  If nothing else, I’ve learned that Angela is one of my best friends and knows me and my goals in this life very well!

I Love Stories – They don’t call me “babbling Brooke” for nothing!  I’ve always been a talker, and I’ve even removed the “ums” and “uhs” and participated in humorous speech contests (I have a trophy to prove it) and had my 5 minutes of glory on the Tedx Columbus stage, but as I researched the Moth I realized how much I really do love telling and hearing stories of people’s lives.

It’s the Small Stuff – I listened to a lot of Moth talks this month and I realized that it’s the things that seem like small moments in people’s lives that are the most interesting.  Sure, there’s always a story or two that seems crazy and make your jaw drop, but the stories that were small moments where people learned big lessons became my favorite.  I have found myself listening with that same ear in my everyday interactions since realizing this.

There’s a Dance Between Half-Ass and Not Waiting for Perfect – Most goals this year I came out of them saying how life will never bring perfect timing for anything and sometimes you just have to take a leap when things are 90% done or 85% comfortable-enough.  But, now this month, I felt like I could’ve hopped in my car and driven to a Moth event but it only would’ve been a half-ass story to tell.  Angela reminded me this month about the value of sometimes waiting to deliver something you’re proud of vs. half ass something for the sake of saying you did it.

December is For Gaining Weight and Nothing Productive – Goals in December.  Yeah.  No.

Find Out What it Takes and Do a Little Everyday – Not a new lesson, but one of the most important ones.  If you can do something small everyday for a big goal, you are moving forward.  It takes 5 minutes to watch a YouTube video, 2 minutes to look at a company or event’s website, or 3 seconds to google any question under the sun to find a 3 sentence summary to tell you what you need to know.  I had no clue what the Moth really was before this month, and now I can give you their 2016 schedule, topics, entry guidelines, and a recap of some of the recent story slam winners.  On that similar tangent – I’ve always found it interesting when people say they want something – house, car, experience, trip, etc – but they have no clue how much it costs or what it takes to get there.  You may not have the money now to buy the Mercedes you want or to fly to Paris, but nothing is stopping you from doing all the research you can now so you’re prepared when you do get the money, or the time, or an extra week of vacation, etc.  It makes you feel like you’re moving forward and it makes things feel more attainable.  If you just float around never knowing what it really takes to get those things, you’ll literally never get those things.

Good Storytellers Can Talk about Anything – I realized when I was listening to Moth talks that if someone is a good storyteller, it really doesn’t matter what they are talking about (well, that’s a little bit of an overstatement, but in general).  Some of my favorite talks were actually some of the weirdest or least interesting topics.  I have always been convinced that in life, people will buy-in to whatever you’re doing, selling, saying, etc. if you present yourself well and with confidence and I found it interesting to watch that play out when I watched people tell a story.

Go Underground – So the Moth is pretty popular.  It has a large following, it’s a podcast, there’s story slams, there’s larger events, etc, but for the most part the average person doesn’t really know what it is.  I am just thankful Angela introduced me to it.  With as many videos and speakers I’ve listened to over the years, I didn’t even know it existed.  This is just a reminder to me that if you share your interests and hobbies and dreams, life will hand you the right people who will point you in the right direction.  If I would’ve hid my passion for speaking, the Moth and I would’ve never crossed paths.  This just makes me think of how many other “underground” things are going on that I need to learn about!

Forgive Yourself – I didn’t hit the Moth stage this month.  If you read my recent post you saw my mention of weather and holidays and some other mumbo jumbo about not planning well for the couple events that were coming up that I could’ve traveled to.  After 12 months of blogging about goals, including the times that have been a struggle, it’s still an ego blow when you don’t deliver.  You have to learn to forgive yourself and surround yourself with people who will help you do that.  My husband and Angela and other friends quickly rescue me from myself when life and Christmas and windy weather get in the way.

Set Big Goals and Join Us – This is my last blog post in 2015.  This year has changed my life.  I’m fighting tears as I type this.  If you have been reading my stories, celebrating my adventures, encouraging me during my failures, investing energy alongside of me and the crazy stunts I’ve gotten myself into, or if you’ve sent me private messages, texts, and emails about this blog….THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  We set out to inspire others and pray we have done that by sharing our personal stories.  We committed to putting ourselves out there not to boast about our accomplishments, but to show you that you can do anything in the world that you want to do.  As for us, Angela and I, we are not done yet…we will be continuing this project for one more year, concluding in December 2016 with hopefully the biggest celebration two gals can have!  Our biggest hope for 2016 is that you not only follow our adventures, but that you would create your own.  My wish for you, dear loyal readers, friends, frenemies, and followers, is that you set the biggest freaking goals you can dream of and chip away at them a little at a time EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Go for the gusto.  Write the book.  Record the song.  Take the lesson.  Face your fears.  Volunteer your time.  Find what pulls on your heart and run towards it.  Lose weight.  Connect with people.  Be okay with feeling stupid.  Ask questions.  Share your story.  Your community of connections will grow larger than you ever thought, dreams will turn into reality, and you’ll likely have a steady stream of mascara running down your face as you cry from happiness on your December 31st blog post.

I freaking did it.

 

The Moth that Never Took Flight

Dec 19:  The best way to figure out what a “typical” moth talk sounds or looks like is to watch them on YouTube, more specifically, the story slam talks since that’s what I’m planning to do on Dec 29.  I watched a story slam an Indian woman gave about a time she had to do a self portrait in elementary school and her white friends colored themselves peach, so she did too.  Her teacher told her that wasn’t her color and made her color it in brown.  I’m realizing everyday stories are exactly what draw people in (no pun intended), but sometimes we’re all trying to find the biggest most dramatic things that ever happened when we try to speak or write.  I’m now rethinking what everyday stories I have that may be intriguing.

Dec 20:  I watched a story slam by Arianna Huffington (editor-in-chief of the Huffington post).  I was drifting between thinking about how I’ve been wanting to get published on the Huffington Post blog and listening to the story she was telling about passing out from exhaustion.  Long story short, she’s an advocate for rest now, even installing nap stations at the Huffington post.

Dec 21:  I watched a story slam by a teacher who talks about feeling ugly and traveling somewhere that will make her feel beautiful.  She falls for a dreamy French (or Italian?) man when she’s overseas and in the end he tells her it’s too bad she’s not prettier.  There was a plastic surgery appointment that I don’t think she followed through on once she received pictures of herself on the trip and found one where she thought she looked beautiful doing what she does best, which is teaching art to students.  She was funny.  I liked her.  I wanted to keep listening to what she had to say.  YouTube started recommending other Moth talks of hers (because YouTube is a real person and has been my BFF this year) and it appeared she had won or progressed through the Moth ranks at a number of venues.  This Moth goal feels right up my alley and I’m silently thanking Angela for introducing me to this Moth world.

Dec 22:  Apparently I have a gender bias on watching Moth talks because I find myself only clicking on the female speakers, specifically those under 7 minutes.  My attention span has shortened as the year has gone on, I guess.  I woke up thinking my talk should probably have a funny slant because most of the videos I’ve watched that had “story slam winner” in the title were humorous.  I watched a talk today by a lady who talked about her first few days in college.  She couldn’t pick a major, she went to a party, got in a car with some guys to get high, they took her to the woods, they had rifles, they all ended up dancing around a bonfire, she made it out alive, she failed a writing test the next day, she had to take a class where she had to write personal essays because of the failed test, this led to her finding her major.  I’m finding most talks start with “I was 17….”  “It was August 2010….”  “So here I was in college…”  The talks aren’t as polished as TED talks which require several coaching sessions and prep.  Moth talks feel more like open mic nights for stand up comedy.  A little more raw and in smaller venues.  The people say “um” a lot and when the stories are really good I find myself not caring.  I mean, essentially, they are an open mic.  You go, you put your name in, you hope you get picked, you speak, you hope you win.  I imagine myself touring the U.S. doing Moth talks at back alley bars and being okay with wearing flannel shirts and ripped jeans on stage.

Dec 23:  I’m starting to doubt that I can pull off this Moth thing within the month and I am hating myself for using the holidays as an excuse.  I’ve done 11 other goals this year with little to no excuses, and now it’s December, 23rd, and I have nothing to show for it.  I tell myself I’ll regroup after Christmas.

Dec 24:  Our wifi went out.  Goals – possibly life itself – cannot continue until it is back up.

Dec 25:  Christmas #1 and #2.  See also:  overeating #1 and #2.  Also reference:  white carb binge.

Dec 26:  Christmas #3.  See also:  Peanut butter caramel whip cream dessert / weight gain. 

Dec 27:  Christmas #4.  After several trips to and from Dayton over the last couple days, and spending what felt like an eternity in the car on rainy drives, Chris and I both realized that we probably wouldn’t be doing a roadtrip on Tuesday for the Moth story slam in either Chicago or Louisville as originally planned.  And by planned I mean I didn’t really know how far they were, I couldn’t remember the venues, and I never even booked hotels.  I was doing a little negative self talk because I knew Chris would actually go if I wanted to even though he was sick of the car too, but I failed to plan and had a stomach ache from the food at Christmas 1, 2, and 3.

Dec 28:  I woke up feeling like a failure on this goal.  The news says flights in several locations are delayed or cancelled due to weather, and I can hear the wind whistling as I type this and want to cry at the thought of getting in the car again and driving somewhere after making the drives to and from Dayton for the holidays.  I accept the fact that I’m not doing a story slam tomorrow and wallow in it for awhile.  I text Chris and he encourages me by saying opting out of the travel is a good idea and that some goals just take longer than 30 days.  I text Angela and she gives similar sentiments.  I tell them both I’ll find a story slam to do in the first couple months of 2016 because now I’m more motivated than ever to actually do it, now that binge eating and four Christmases are behind us.  I’ve wanted to be a speaker forever, and now I have a goal around it, and what am I doing?!  I run through my mental Rolodex of Brene Brown talks and console myself with words like “vulnerability” and “you should only care about the opinions of people who are in the arena with you” and blurbs about learning lessons even in failures.  I have 3 more days to make something of this….

Goal Overflow

Ah!  Goal overflow from November due to wrapping up my partial manuscript submission to send to Penguin Random House on top of a lot of to do’s for work, so I have been a total failure in the December goal department of trying to speak at The Moth.  I’m not being hard on myself given that I did manage to get my half written book out the door, but, I will only be sharing a line (or two) (or three) a day on the last 2 weeks worth of life…..

Dec 6 – Dec 11:  I don’t even remember this week.  A lot of changes for work that are coming in 2016 were announced.  I did a lot of avoidance on writing or editing my book, and never even thought about The Moth other than ‘dang it, I’m supposed to be doing something to get me closer to speaking at The Moth.’  I fell asleep every night at 8:30pm on the couch.  I ate horrible.  I didn’t work out one time.

Dec 12:  9 hours of editing my book.  Headache.  Exhaustion.  Wondering if I can get this wrapped up by my self-imposed deadline of December 15.

Dec 13: 6 hours of editing my book and 2 hours of debating what chapters to “finish off” or just “let go” for the submission.  An hour of doubting all of it and an hour and a half of overconfidence.

Dec 14:  2 hours of editing and an hour of re-researching manuscript formats.  Learned about the “page break” button in Word and reflected on my wasted years hitting “delete” and “enter” on any work I’ve done with a title page.

Dec 15:  I FREAKING DID IT!  I sent 7 essays + an intro (out of 15 essays + intro I have planned to call my book “complete”) to the editor at Penguin Random House!

Dec 16:  I was buried in a work assignment and didn’t leave the office until 7pm.  I refreshed my email 200 times to see if there was an “I received your manuscript and loved it and you’re awesome and let’s publish it right away” email.  No response yet.

Dec 17:  I felt guilty for ignoring my real December goal and read a Wall Street Journal article about The Moth.  It was started in 1997.  There’s something called “the Moth Ball” that sounds like it should be a part of my life going forward.  I’m getting re-excited about this goal.

Dec 18:  I realize that I love storytelling and should no longer classify all my stories as humorous or serious because it’s always a mix, whether verbal or written.  I gave a homeless lady an old purse of mine on my lunch break today.  It was filled with new underwear, socks, and hygiene products.  She told me she just got kicked out of the woods she was living in.  We shook hands, swapped names, and she started crying when I walked away.  I cried shortly after as I stared at my privilege in this life that came in the form of a $20 organic lunch in that moment.  Maybe this should be my Moth story?

What is The Moth?

For 11 months, Angela and I have been doing 1 goal per month that we’ve chosen ourselves.  We decided at the beginning of the year we would mix it up in December and decide each others goals this month.  So, she has challenged me to speak at The Moth and I have challenged her to do a recording – seeing as how she’s a professional musician and all.

The last month of 2015, here we go…

Dec 1:  What is the Moth?!  Similar to Ted Talks (at least from my preliminary research), it’s people sharing stories on a stage in front of a live audience.  The only thing I know of the Moth are the few talks I listened to via Podcast after Angela was raving about them (this was a few months back).  She told me about a talk where a Mormon girl shared how Mormons stereotypically say “no” to a lot of things and she wanted to dispel that myth, so she spent one night saying yes to everything.  She unexpectedly ended up on a cruise ship that night and the story just kept unfolding.  I ended up listening to a couple other talks after that – one from a guy who was a pick-pocketer (which I kept thinking about when I was in NYC last month) and one was Molly Ringwald talking about her daughter (all I remember was her daughter’s name was Matilda and she was kind of bullying other kids, or something).  So, I guess I’m competing with the Molly Ringwalds of the world for center stage?

Before I share what I am learning and planning, I do have to give a shout out to Angela because she picked the perfect goal for me.  She knows I talk a lot and she knows being a speaker is a dream of mine.  Good pick, Angela!

I started with going to the Moth website to see when the heck the events are and how I was going to get myself on the stage.  Here’s what I know on day 1:

*There’s large events where I believe speakers are selected based on an audio submission they do online.  They seem to be held at large venues and you have to buy tickets to get in.  The site gives an “upload your stuff here, and we’ll contact you if we’re interested” type of blurb on the bottom.

*Somehow talks are put on Podcasts, not sure where those are taken from…actual stage events or just dedicated Podcast recordings?  (There is an actual podcast for The Moth).  I think they come from live events because I could hear people in the audience on Molly Ringwald’s talk awhile back I thought.

*There are other ways to speak at the Moth outside of just the large events – they have what they call Story Slams.  They are held all over the U.S.  You just show up, sign up, and they draw 10 names the day of the event and if you’re one of the lucky ones whose name is drawn, you get 5 minutes to tell your story.  It appears to work like a contest, there’s judges, and there’s a theme for the night that the talks must relate to on some level.

*There are Grand Slams which I assume means it’s the next phase if you win a Story Slam?

Dec 2:  I decided I would submit an audio recording to see if I could get into the big Moth events, but TBD on the topic and/or when and how I will do the recording this month.

I researched the Story Slams a little more since that seemed like a feasible way to get on a stage within the designated month for this goal, and if my July jackpot win in Vegas were any indication of my luck….I mean….I have to be one of the 10 people’s names who get pulled from the hat, right?  (Insert me just wanting to tell you I won a humorous speech contest through Toastmasters a couple years ago.  I have a trophy and everything).  There are Story Slams happening all over in December, many of them throughout the week, none of them in Ohio.  I found 2 happening on December 29th (a day I’m off work!), one is in Chicago (decent driving distance and/or a quick flight) and one in Louisville (definite driving distance, and possibly close enough to sneak in a visit to my great grandparents).

I sent a calendar invite to Chris that says “Roadtrip – The Moth (Chicago or Lousiville)” for December 29.  He didn’t ask any questions and accepted the invite – which makes me love him even more.

Dec 3:  Where else to research than YouTube, really?  I watched a few Story Slams to get a sense of how they compare to Ted Talks.  Some lost my attention in the first minute, but I managed to get through one where a guy who wasn’t Jewish but liked dating Jewish women went on a Jewish dating website (describing himself as “Jew-ish”….clever, huh?).  The lady he met had a huge butt which he referenced several times in the talk, she ended up being married, turns out she wasn’t Jewish either.  His talk was hilarious.  Hopefully he won.  Hopefully he will never read my horrid description of his talk.

Dec 4:  I started brainstorming what I could speak about for December 29th.  It looks like each Story Slam has a theme and it’s not uncommon for many locations to have the same theme.  For example, happening last week and next week, there are several locations whose themes are “Paybacks” or “Excuses.”  It looks like the theme for the 29th for Chicago and Louisville (and several other locations) is “Joy.”  The website says….

“JOY: Prepare a five-minute story about an experience that brought you utter delight, or a time you were able to provide it for somebody else. Long dark roads to happy revelations and new hobbies that help keep a smile on your face.” (http://themoth.org/)

Suddenly I can’t think of anything joyful.

Do I talk about hitting a jackpot?  That brought some joy.  Do I talk about writing handwritten letters even though I’m so over telling that story because I wrote a chapter about it in my book?  Do I talk about this blog?  Is this bringing others joy?  Do I talk about my mother-in-law or my mom’s bestie whose names are Joy?

I wanted to talk about Gals With Goals in general when Angela said this was my goal.  Mmm….how to center it around joy?  It has brought me a ton of joy that would take me way longer than 5 minutes to describe.  I can edit.  I guess that’s my topic.

Dec 5:  We had a Christmas party at our house with coworkers and friends.  40 people in our house.  With shoes on.  The only thing I did for my goal was talk to Angela for a couple minutes about what I typed above (minus the Jewish big butt talk story).

 

10 Things I’ve Learned from Writing a Book

One of my biggest goals in life….writing a book!  I have spent the second half of this year writing a book, researching how to publish it, and then spent this month pitching it to editors in New York City.  Here is what I have learned from this adventure.  I hope it helps if writing a book is a dream of yours too.

Just Freaking Start the Damn Thing – JUST. START. NOW!  Write.  Stare at a blank Word doc until you go cross-eyed and then type some words.  You have to type even if all the words suck.  It will suck at first for sure.  You may never even use those words.  You just have to start.  You cannot wait one more day.  You cannot waste any more time researching applications to write it in or what computer or device would be the best to write it on or the font style or the font size you should use or if you should do single space or double space.  JUST FREAKING START! (I’ll save you some time – use Word, type it on the device you use the most, 12 point Times New Roman is what an editor wants, double space and indent your paragraphs.  You’re welcome.)

Go to New York – Fly to New York and go to the New York Writers Workshop (they have one for Fiction and one for Non-Fiction).  You will never be ready but you will learn so much valuable information.  You will be scared and nervous and it will be expensive, but do it.  There’s a huge difference between sitting alone at home or your favorite coffee shop and writing words or being in a room full of authors who are sharing their ideas and giving you the push you need to write with a little more edge.

YouTube is Free Learning – I have watched countless hours worth of agent and editor panels on YouTube.  Whether you’re looking to publish a book or you have another dream you’re chasing, stop watching reality TV or scanning Facebook and replace that time with watching videos on YouTube that apply to what you’re going after.  This is where I learned the difference between traditional publishing, self-publishing, the role of an agent, the role of an editor, publications to submit essays to, etc.  Literally, any question I had about writing a book….down to how to format a manuscript….were all answered by watching YouTube videos.

Dream Big…and then Go Bigger – I honestly had pretty much settled for the fact that I’d probably end up self publishing any book I wrote.  That still may happen.  But, by continuing to go outside of my comfort zone this month, I have an editor at one of the largest publishing houses who has requested my work.  Just go big.  Don’t sell yourself short before you even try.  Whatever you’re dreaming of, just take it one step further.  You’ll impress yourself!  And if it doesn’t work out….it makes for great stories!

The Time Will Pass Anyway – I read a quote earlier in the month that says “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it.  The Time Will Pass Anyway.”  It’s true.  A  year will go by, and then another year, and then another year.  A goal like writing a book can take SO long to accomplish between writing, pitching, editing, etc, BUT the time will pass anyway.  You might as well start chipping away at your big goals one day at a time so that someday you’ll look up and you will have achieved what you set out to do.  I have wanted to throw the towel in so many times on this simply because it takes what feels like a lifetime.  But what else am I doing?  Who cares if it takes forever.  Who cares if 3 more birthdays go by before I’m holding my published book in my hand.  At least I’m doing it.

Writing is Personal – In my day job, if I get feedback on something, it’s really just a matter of changing a chart, graph, powerpoint slide, email communication, etc.  I don’t really take any of that too personal because it’s just business and you do what ya gotta do.  But writing….oh boy.  See, I sit down at my computer and type all my secrets and feelings and jokes and thoughts, and then you, you sit down and judge it.  Ugh.  I’m still working on the part where people give you feedback other than “This is great! You’re the best writer in the whole wide world!”  That’s my heart on that paper, people!

Free Spirit Meets Schedule – So you can be the creative-type, creating new things (books, artwork, music, etc) whenever inspiration strikes you, or you can be the scheduled business person, following deadlines and checklists and completing everything by the end of the day.  If you’re writing a book, leave a lot of disconnected time for the wave of inspiration, but if you don’t surrender and put some sort of schedule or general plan in place…..that book may never see the light of day.

You Call the Shots (kinda*) – The most freeing thing about writing is, you call the shots.  You start with a blank page, you come up with the stories, and you share whatever words you want to use to communicate that story.  You can do whatever you want.  You’re the boss.  What you say goes.  *Unless you publish through a large publishing house in which case I think they have a little bit of say too.

Writing a Book is a Piece of Art – I’ve always loved words….talking and writing.  But I always approached writing with a semi-academic mindset.  I may not use perfect punctuation or grammar when I blog, but in general, I at least capitalize the first letter of every sentence and try not to end any sentences with the word “for” or “at.”  About a month into writing my book, I watched a YouTube video where someone referred to published books as a piece of art.  I’ve never really looked at it like that but it made me so much more excited at the thought of it all.  I could approach writing with a more creative mindset and less in a “I have to type 10,000 words” mindset.  I started day dreaming about book covers and fonts and witty comments I’d include in my acknowledgements section.  Admittedly, I’ve never been a huge reader in the past, but let’s just say I have a whole new outlook on a book these days.  I’m starting to notice things about books I’ve never noticed before.  They really are like little pieces of art.

Look Up – If you’ve moved past “just freaking start the damn thing” mode and you’re into heads down writing mode….take a minute to look up.  It feels like a manuscript is never really done.  There’s always edits to be made.  All the chapters start to get old because you’ve lived them, written them, edited them, and stared at them for months….possibly years.  It’s so easy to just stir around in it.  Sometimes you just have to look up and give yourself some credit for all the work you’ve done.

I did it!

Since this was such a big goal and it’s still in progress, here’s the gory details of what will happen next:

What’s next for my book? 

I am currently editing the 13-ish stories I have written (shooting for around 20, I think, the number changes daily).  On December 15, I will be sending all of the stories I have done (I don’t have to have all 20 done) and edited (I am self-editing and have talked my bestie into editing them too) to the editor at Penguin Random House who requested a copy of my work.  She will either want to publish it, not want to publish it, or it will go into a black hole and I’ll never hear back (which I have hopes of the last one not happening because the editor seemed too cool to not respond to emails).  It could take weeks or months to hear back on the verdict.

What will I do while I wait to hear back?

Bite my nails and eat too many carbs.  After December 15, I will be doing 2 things:  1.  Trying to find an agent.  I will need one even if the editor referenced above wants to publish my book because they would negotiate the deal for me.  They will also pitch my work to other editors while we wait to hear back from Penguin Random House in case others have an interest.  2.  I will be continuing to write more stories to get the book officially done on my end.

When will I post about writing a book again?

When I get an agent, when I hear back from the editor, or when I complete the book!  I will be sharing those updates on Facebook and Instagram when they happen (well, I’m positive if/when any of those things happen I’ll probably just dedicate a full blog post to the event, of course), but until then, I’ll be pushing pause on blogging about my book writing experiences even though it will still be consuming a lot of me, and I will continue blogging about my goal of the month.  Spoiler alert:  Angela and I have decided to continue Gals With Goals for 1 more year (::cheers::), so it’s highly likely one of my goals for the beginning part of 2016 will be focused on getting an agent or something of the like.