This is the greatest. And it's going to become my Monday morning pick me up. (Seriously, I might start posting this EVERY Monday.)
So let's go give Monday all we've got!
This is the greatest. And it's going to become my Monday morning pick me up. (Seriously, I might start posting this EVERY Monday.)
So let's go give Monday all we've got!
And to help us all get through Monday, a giveaway! I'm excited to partner up with these ladies! You'll love them too!
This raffle would not have been possible without these darling ladies and also, of course, you know, our friend–Kate Spade.
It's been awhile since I've done a Monday Motivation and no promises that I'll keep it up, but yesterday it hit me just how much of a beast this week would be. It's shaping up to be a really great week, but a beast all the same.
So this motivation is as much for you as for me. Who I'm kidding, this is really to help me jump start this week and convince myself that I can do everything that needs to be done.
To start, this lovely image is brought to you by Kelli and Ashley. You can find more of their collaborations over here.
The last few months have been building blocks for some things that are coming together now. And when I feel incredibly overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated by slow progress, I remind myself that all of these things are steps toward something much, much bigger.
I may sound all zen about it now as I'm sipping my morning coffee and watching Grover scope out everything happening outside our front door, but I guarantee that it's harder than it seems to keep steady and calm on the inside, at my core. That's usually where my deepest fears and quiet doubt like to hang out and sometimes creep into my way of thinking until I get back to quashing them again.
So here's what's on deck this week:
+ Writing probably at least two stories a day at work. I like being productive and having my byline in the paper daily, but that pace is difficult to maintain. But when I'm in that spot when stories just keep flowing, I run with it. It balances out the slow days.
+ Meeting tonight to finalize details for The Wall That Heals, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial coming to town this week. I used to work for the organization that runs TWTH so local veterans asked me for advice. I've also got to write about it for the paper. It's really a special thing, but from the inside of it all, it's incredibly time consuming.
+ Whipping up fundraising and marketing kits for the rink, plus a new website. I'm telling myself that the front end work will pay huge dividends both in requiring less of my time later and hopefully great returns for the rink.
+ Rink board meeting Wednesday. I really work best with a deadline, so there's that.
+ One of my best D.C. friends is coming to visit. I AM SO EXCITED. And yes, I just used all caps. I'm thinking about taking her to the fair/rodeo if everything times out.
+ To prepare for the visit, we've got a ton of cleaning and organizing to do. Plus, moving chickens in the backyard and other various tasks that never end around this place. And possibly having to pick up the Sunday shift while other reporters are on vacation.
+ Helping a blogger friend with a new website and social media plan. I'm really excited about it, just not sure how much I'll accomplish on that front this week.
Pretty much, every day for the next week is booked solid. Here's to hoping I keep up with bringing lunch to work, working out and maintaining some semblance of healthy living despite the fact that Erika and I will probably overdose on wine and queso. Old habits die hard with old friends.
A tall order for this week, but lucky for me, most of it HAS to get done, meaning I will somehow find it in myself to GET IT DONE. Likely with multiple cups of coffee per day.
Who's with me on conquering this week and doing big things? How do you break down big projects, busy weeks into manageable tasks so that you stand a better chance of doing it all?
Earlier this summer, I was feeling out of shape, out of sorts and not happy with myself.
I'm sure girls the world over have bouts with insecurity and self doubt. Usually, I don't let it get to me, but every now and then, it creeps in and gets under my skin.
This last time, I was feeling it while I was home on vacation.
While I was home, I ran with my parents and walked a lot. While I was home, I also recommitted to things I'd been better about before. Running, exercising more, less soda, less fast food and all around less junk.
After a quick bout with a cold or something when I got home, I got back on track. Running some mornings, Insanity workouts other mornings. They don't call it Insanity for nothing, I hate it, but it works when I don't have time to drive out to the trail, run and drive home. The downside of country living.
Some other things I got serious about were less eating out and more brining lunch to work.
Things I worry about lately are my health and our finances. Basically, if it costs more than $5, I am now a royal pain about spending money.
Buying a house has made me into a penny pincher of epic proportions. Why did I not have this trait for the last 30 years?!
Before, I was grabbing gas station snacks or quick lunches out most days. Partly because I fell into the busy trap, partly out of laziness and lack of planning. That was costing me anywhere from $3-$10 per day during the work week.
Now, I'm spending a few extra bucks at the grocery store each week and bringing a lunch I'll actually eat.
It usually consists of sliced turkey, from the actual deli, not a package. A half pound is usually $3 or $4 and lasts most of the week, unless M takes lunch too.
I've also been easing myself back into yogurt. The kind I like now is 50 cents a container and I usually only buy 3 or 4 per week knowing I won't eat it every day. It's a consistency thing.
I'm a huge fan of string cheese, which is weird, because I'm really not that into cheese. M says to avoid cheese altogether and save those calories and fat for elsewhere in my diet, but I like the low fat calcium boost. The kind I buy is about $3 and has 10 or 15 sticks of string cheese.
Usually I toss a banana or peach or whatever fruit I'm into that week into my lunch, for just a few bucks a week.
And because I'm into carbs, I usually stash a baggie of pretzels in there too. They're good for snacking throughout the work day and they'll keep if I don't get to them one day.
I've also significantly cut back on my soda intake. Before I'd grab a 20 ounce bottle in the afternoon because I was tired, or busy, or stressed. Really, I don't think it was helping me any.
Because I'm still a cherry coke addict, I take one 12 ounce can with me per day and have that for lunch or an afternoon treat. Sometimes I splurge and have two, or if I'm really desperate for caffeine I break down and grab a bottle, but I've stayed strong on this the last few weeks.
We've been making a lot more iced tea around the house and I turn to that more than the soda these days. My water intake is also increasing, in part because the smoky skies thanks to the major wildfires in surrounding state and Canada seem to be making me constantly thirsty.
All of these things are now conspiring to help me spend less and eat better. I'm now spending probably less than I'd spend on a day's lunch out to cover homemade lunches for the week. We've kept lunches out together to once a week or less and dinners too and it really feels like so much of a treat now to go out than it did before.
This week I got busy at work and fell off my normal workout schedule, but I kept up with lunches and water intake.
Even still, I noticed the last few days that I felt more awake, more productive, focused and energetic. Plus, I feel all responsible and grownup with the money we're saving by eating better.
This all makes me very, very exciting for skating season to start again. Last season was my first back in figure skates in years and I didn't feel all that confident in my own skin or that strong. Now, I'm wanting to get back out there and go for it. I'm sure a few hard falls will knock that right out of me, but I'm feeling a lot less fragile than I did last season. Maybe it's all the hard labor in the back yard. I kid. Sort of. Not really.
Slowly but surely, I'm getting back to my old ways of running regularly. I was never an athletic all-star by any means, but honestly, I always took a great deal of pride in being able to complete multiple half marathons without being a super skinny, speedy, athletic rockstar. I did it in spite of drinking too much wine and eating too much pizza and popcorn.
The closet purge is also helping the mental aspect of all this in that I'm weeding out the things that don't fit now so that every morning I can put on a great outfit and feel great. If I'm going to crank out 40 minutes of Insanity (which is a form of torture) or somehow pull out 3 miles in about 30 minutes, I deserve to feel good about that all day in my comfortable, feel good-look good clothes.
I may never get back to my all time adult skinniest of a size 6, but I can surely get back to a place where I feel fully comfortable in my own skin. Where I feel healthy and strong. And I feel like i've finally hit that sweet spot where I'm finding the balance that's right for me. Enough exercise to drop a few pounds and keep at a healthy spot, but not so much that I can't sleep in when I'm plain exhausted or just don't wanna.
I once gave up soda for Lent and between that and tennis training, I lost 10 pounds in a few months. I bet if I gave up wine and kept running, I'd drop 20, but let's not get carried away here.
So, this might have been a little long winded, but I'm feeling pretty solid on this whole pulling it together thing. Seriously, I've been dancing in the shower and throughout the house while getting ready for work each morning and rocking out in the car on my way home each night. I even covered a city commission meeting this week, so it's pretty huge to be in this good of a mood all week.
I should also credit Alicia for some inspiration on this front. She's got all kind of wise words on healthy living and loving yourself. You really need to check her out. No really, do it.
How do you balance a healthy lifestyle and doing what you want? What are your vices?
Last night, I couldn't sleep. I had so many ideas bouncing around in my head that I could not fall asleep. Ideas, good, not sleeping, less good.
Then this morning, I saw this quote posted by Soulseeds Coach.
I probably should have pulled myself out of bed and written down all of my ideas instead of chastising myself for not sleeping.
This week I've heard a lot of talking about ideas and seeing no action. Then I heard the mother of all annoyances, "Well, I don't have an idea, but this is a problem."
It's one thing to vent to your inner circle about something, but it's another thing entirely to come to the people in a position to make change and complain without offering a single suggestion.
Lately, I'm bubbling over with ideas.
A friend and rink pal almost looked scared last night and said, "You have a lot of ideas." He's not especially chatty, I honestly think I terrify him some days, but I think it was a compliment.
Now it's up to me to make them into reality.
I won't lie, I'm often overwhelmed by my ideas and the work they entail. I can't possibly do it all, try as I might.
But if I'm being completely honest, when the ideas are flowing, I feel like I'm the most engaged, the most useful. I feel incredibly alive.
When the ideas are flowing, it takes some discipline to prioritize, organize and follow through. Some ideas will fall by the wayside, or on a lower rung. And that's okay. The very act of doing makes all that idea brewing matter. I don't know if I'd feel so alive about my ideas if they never amounted to anything beyond that.
But I believe it is a duty almost to use those ideas, coupled with whatever skills we may have, to make life better. For ourselves, for those around us, for those we haven't met yet, for those we may never meet.
I know I'll say many, many times that I'm overwhelmed and exhausted, but in my heart of hearts, I just can't let the ideas go untried.
Do ideas make you come alive? How do you turn them into action?
And here's a few links that have gone unshared in recent weeks but are still kicking around in my browser tabs.
Pretty much stop doing all 12 things on this list.
Schedule your days like the great creatives.
Let Twitter lists work for you.
And you have one more day to enter a fun giveaway with some great blogging ladies , and me!, over at Oak and Oats. Hop to it!
The last few weeks, and last few days especially, have involved a lot of time in my skates and on the ice.
It's been great for loosening up on the ice, attempting more and more things I haven't done in years and rebuilding my confidence and balance on ice. My toes on the other hand, are less appreciative.
Community Day at the rink was Sunday and while I would have loved a better turnout, the idea came to life. Lessons were learned, we made the news and expanded our reach. People who had never heard of the rink came through our doors and people who were afraid to skate gave it a try. By the time it was over, I'd been in my skates for eight hours straight and was completely and utterly exhausted in every possible way.
To me, the day was a success and a great springboard for all kinds of new partnerships and events for next season.
The spring ice show is this weekend and I'll miss it since I'll be shuffling in Chicago with Alicia and Eileen, but we've had a jam packed practice schedule. The kids are excited and my group has been getting creative with ideas for their routine and working hard and I really love that about them.
So my feet may be cursing me and my muscles sore, but it's great to watch something come to life. There's still more to do, but happy with the forward progress.
A few takeaways from the last few weeks.
+ Have an idea? Go for it. Chances are, few things will stand in your way once you decide to follow it through.
+ Show up. I've long believed that the world is run by those who show up. Be one of those people. Plus, when you show that you're dedicated and reliable and back your words with action, people are more likely to support your idea, project, event, etc.
+ Have a passion? Fuel it. And use it for good. I may not be able to throw triple jumps on the ice, but I can certainly use all of my skills and love of skating to make something wonderful for more than just myself.
+ Don't give up. Community Day wasn't as epic as I'd originally hoped, but I knew that following through on the first event would be exactly what I needed to make it into an epic future program. If I had given up because certain people couldn't come or certain aspects weren't perfect, then I'd have even less chance of making it successful later.
+ People are watching, make sure they're seeing your best self. These events put me, and the rink, in touch with lots of new people. It may be their first time ever hearing about the rink. It doesn't matter how stressed, or how busy or how much chaos is happening, there's only one shot at making a first impression. Make it a good one.
What do you do when you feel like giving up on a project? Where do you find the determination to power through?
This one's for the ladies.
Today is International Women's Day and while I wouldn't call myself a feminist, I can certainly appreciate a day that focuses on celebrating women.
But, much like my thoughts on Valentines Day, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, a day is not enough.
I hadn't planned to write this post, but when I walked into work yesterday, I was asked to speak to a class next week on women in leadership.
That got me thinking about my career, leadership experiences and whether I have faced any obstacles simply by virtue of being a woman.
I was raised to work hard, dream big, play fair, speak the truth, all while being kind. Can't say I'm always successful at all of those, but I didn't grow up thinking I was somehow at a disadvantage because I was a girl. Yet another reason I'm so grateful to my parents.
Being smart was cool in our house. I regularly hosted ballet performances or theatrical events that I cooked up in our backyard, and charged a quarter for entry. My mom was usually mortified that I was charging the neighbors to watch me direct my sisters and the neighborhood kids in a rendition of Disney songs, but the neighbors humored me.
My idols were prima ballerinas, Olympic figure skaters, lawyers, realtors, badass journalists, astronauts and my teachers.
Smart, daring, ambitious women were cool and I wanted to be like them.
I'm so glad to see that those kind of women are still rising above the noise of reality television, celebrity gossip and all around nonsense that seems to have crowded out common sense.
As women, we're sometimes our own worst enemy and drown in comparisons. The Lean In movement says women can have it all if they want it, and while I agree, I'd rather raise my chickens and be a solid journalist in a small town where I can see the impact I can have, while also getting involved in the community.
So carry on with all the things that make you awesome. In small towns, on farms, in big cities. Working from home, or in a corporate office. Crafting or designing storm water systems. Keep rocking it out in your corner of the world and then consider taking your awesome on the road. Some of the wisest words I've ever read have come from bloggers I've come to call friends. You all continue to motivate and inspire me.
But don't take my word for it, wise words from wise ladies.
Ladies, today is your day and I just wanted to say that you are smart, talented, insightful, compassionate, creative, nurturing, strong, enduring, capable and all around awesome. For that, I say thank you.
There are plenty of moments that lead you to think about how your life has changed.
But few cause the sudden Oh.My.Goodness. moment quite like cleaning out a crate full of baby chickens.
Scooping the shredded paper by hand, there was a moment when it hit me that this is a far cry from the life I left in D.C. just 15 months ago. A life I thought I wanted.
There was a brief time as a kid growing up in Texas that I thought I wanted to grow up, marry a cowboy and live on a ranch.
After that 7-year-old fantasy fizzled out, I never gave much thought to the rural life again.
At least not until college.
I found myself reading an article in The Economist during my senior year that included the fact that 10 of the 20 poorest counties in the U.S. were in Montana. For some reason, that said to me that Montana would be full of journalistic opportunity and minimal competition for those reporting jobs.
I applied and was offered an interview at a paper in a small town where the top story was Bear Chases Man Up Tree. I also called the paper near the military base just to say, Can I meet you and maybe one day you'll hire me? (Fun fact, that's the same paper where I work now.)
But then things happened and I took a job in Alabama, where I didn't know a soul.
That's where I got into running and military reporting and the Southern lifestyle and where I met M.
Those years were full of learning and growing. And I got there because I let go of the life I'd planned.
M and I went our separate ways for a time and I headed back to Virginia, where I didn't have a job when I decided to make the move. Somehow we found our way back to each other and here I am, gardening on acres and raising chickens in Montana.
As a kid, I wanted to be a prima ballerina. Then a lawyer. Then a marine biologist. President for a hot second, then a teacher. It was eighth grade when I fell in love with journalism. In high school, I had a list of internships and jobs I wanted to go for. They included the Washington Post and New York Times, as well as possibly doing public relations for the Philadelphia Flyers or the New York Rangers.
Clearly things have changed, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Honestly, I think the life I imagine and plan changes so often that I've stopped planning the big picture. Instead, I pick out the things I want to accomplish and think about the kind of person I want to be and life sort of fills in around that.
All of that had me thinking of how to find the life waiting for you.
Figure out what you're passionate about. Follow those things. I got lucky and figured out my love for journalism by the time I was in high school and focused most of my energies on that. Along the way, I found lots of other things, but at my core, I've always loved bringing people together and creating positive things. That passion has inspired much of my work and built my network of friends.
Trust your gut. There have been plenty of scary life changes for me when I could have chickened out, but I've conditioned myself to trust that gut feeling of Go For It and also conditioned myself to follow through.
When opportunity knocks, answer the door. In trusting your gut, you'll be able to sort through all of the opportunities to come your way and focus on the ones that are right for you, but when that moment comes, seize it.
Look back and smile about the good times, but keep moving forward. There's any number of shoulda, coulda, wouldas and moments we might have done a little differently if given a do-over, but that's all past now. Learn from it, accept it, trust that it got you where you're going.
Bears are something to fear, packing a U-Haul and giving it a go, isn't. The unknown puts me on edge sometimes, but all that mental conditioning for trusting my gut and knowing things will work out helps me march forward boldly.
Action is often the cure for overwhelm and feeling paralyzed by how big your goals are. Want to accomplish something great? Start now. Baby steps will get you everywhere.
1. Feeling my motivation and super productive mode kicking in.
2. Finally deciding on and ordering a necklace from Dogeared Jewelry. And getting a $180 coat for $30.
3. Still loving my haircut a week later. And how much quicker morning routines are after you chop six inches or so.
4. Interviewing a general who said "thank you for being accurate and fair."
5. Dreaming big on my rink event, asking the radio station to get involved. They said yes.
What would be included in your five things? How do you get to the life meant for you?
February is halfway gone and I'm still not caught up on everything from January. Clearly, I'm no expert on being superwoman and doing all.the.things. Without fail, as I catch up and get things done, I discover at least 10 more things I want to see, do, read, think, go.
A few weeks ago, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and exhausted. The lovely Alicia was in a similar spot and had some wise words for banishing overwhelm. Erika is one smart cookie and suggested thinking smaller to make big changes.
As the new year was approaching, I was excited for all the big things we had planned. Then January happened and everything was a struggle. For the last few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about how to get a handle on everything and beat this ridiculous feeling that I'm adrift with no anchor or real direction.
What I've come up with is what I call The Truths I Know in Theory but Still Struggle to Execute.
+ Find Your Passions. There are loads of things that I have at least some interest in. My challenge is to focus the majority of my energies on the things I care most about. Take some time too think about the things you're most passionate about and direct as much time and energy accordingly.
+ Prioritize. There will always be infinite demands on your time and it's up to you to make the most of that time. A friend once said to me, when I was feeling overwhelmed, "Is it a today problem?" When I said no, she said, "Then it's a tomorrow problem. Handle the today problems first." I have used that system ever since to limit worrying about the things that don't really need to be done right away.
+ Say No. I have a habit of always saying "Sure, I can help with that." When in reality, I don't have time. I'm slowly getting better at knowing when I am maxed out or when I have some time to pick up other quick, small tasks. I'm also getting more selective about social activities. Sometimes sleep, errands, house projects or just quiet time at home are more important being the social butterfly all the time. The key is to not let little tasks, or things you don't really want to do, crowd out your passions.
+ Quiet Time. The mind needs quiet time to settle and actually think. Life is busy and frantic and overloaded with technology. Make time to sit quietly, go for a walk/run, road trip or write in your favorite spot.
+ Break Things Down. Along with prioritizing, break big projects into smaller tasks. I like to make list upon list of projects that have titles like "start nonprofit" or "chicken plans" or "garden" and then list out the smaller details that go into that big project. It helps accomplish the necessary tasks without the overwhelm of the big end goal.
+ Organize. Straighten your desk, streamline the to-do list Post-It notes, enter contact info into your contacts and toss the random scraps of paper all over your desk and file away what you don't need now. Clear the clutter. Sometimes I go on cleaning streaks when I feel like I'm drowning in to-dos just because an uncluttered space helps unclutter my mind.
+ Take Action. Now that you've got your passions, your priorities, your breakdown list and your clean and organized desk, get to conquering those mountains and big dreams. You've got the plan, go make it all happen!
I also have my happy place. Something on my desk that makes me smile. A photo, a book, a note, a stuffed animal, some token from a friend. But usually, it's this photo snapped by littlest sister one Christmas.
Because with a face like that to come home to, you can't help but be happy, here's Five Things I love about the last week.
1. Rink Event. The board approved my idea and I am now an unstoppable force of making it happen. So much to do, so little time, but it's going to be amazing.
2. Stopped at the library and already finished Dan Brown's latest, Inferno. Had to get it in large print and the huge type may have given me headaches, but feels good to breeze through a book, especially one I'd been wanting to read.
3. Got out for a run. Finally. The winter weather let up long enough to crank out three miles and my iPod was charged and ready to go this time.
4. Sit spins. A few months ago, they were impossible for me to do. Now, a ton of squats later, plus ice time and sheer force of will, they're coming back, with less chance of face planting than the camel spin.
5. Good news. After a hard January, it's soul-lifting to have so much good news coming. There's a baby on the way and an engagement in the family (not me, everyone calm down). So much is going right, it feels like the tide is changing and I'll take it.
How do you handle the overwhelm and move the mountains you want to move? What are you happy about from the last week?
There are things I'm not good at doing. Like drawing and math. And I absolutely cannot whistle.
But honestly, those aren't things I'm interested in doing so it works out.
For the things I do want, I sometimes struggle with a self imposed notion of "can't."
Once that notion is my head, it's hard to shake. Enter what I call my sheer force of will or mind over matter mode. My mom could tell you that there are plenty of things I have pulled off simply because I decided to.
During morning ice last week, I managed to clear my mind of can't.
For a few weeks, I kept chickening out of my favorite jump and feeling this wildly intense and somewhat irrational fear of the jump. I'd done it plenty of times and I know I can do it, but all of a sudden, fear was winning out agin. I've also wiped out plenty of times. Enough to know it hurts, but probably won't kill me.
The trick is to say to yourself "I am going to do this" instead of "don't fall." All your mind hears is "fall" and just about every time, you'll fall or botch the landing or not jump at all.
Jumping around on ice isn't the day to day challenge for everyone, but the takeaway is the same. The self satisfaction of landing the jump was huge, but the bigger satisfaction came from taking back control of my thoughts.
Some of that comes from pushing your body just a little bit harder and feeling pretty proud of what your little legs can do on ice. It's a similar feeling that comes after running a half marathon, or a race longer than three miles. But in skating, I don't have to run so far, for so long.
And the trick works for other challenges too. A difficult work project, tackling a massive to-do list, driving on icy/snow roads in -20 temps.
Of course there are times that safety is a real factor and I don't recommend clearing your mind of can't when it's truly reckless and dangerous. For example, "I can't pet a bear." No. You really can't. Or at least shouldn't.
Since it's somehow already Monday again, here's the latest edition of Five Things.
1. Finally got my Great Falls library card. Kind of stoked about it.
2. Scheduled chicken pick-up. Having a hard and fast deadline always helps me get things done and I'm excited to have the fluffy chicks around the homestead.
3. Emailing the reporter who took over your old job and her responding to say she knows exactly you who are because you have such a great reputation around town, still, four years after you left the state. That's an incredibly good feeling.
4. A general came to town who was at the base where I was said reporter. He was there six or seven years ago and wasn't a general then, but he remembered me. Kind of cool.
5. Pitching the rink event idea to people outside skating circles and they get excited about it and volunteer to help. More to do this week, but I'm feeling good about it!
What are you excited about this week? Are there any situations where you can clear your mind of can't?
Here's to a new week, a new month and getting up early.
I'm starting the week off with a dose of wisdom that Kate shared from Inspired by Charm.
I'll admit to hitting the snooze button this morning, but still managing to toss off the covers and tackling Monday.
There are certainly times when I enjoy sitting and thinking about all my dreams, but going after them always feels so much more satisfying.
But before jumping headfirst into February and a new week, a quick look at Five Things.
1. Garden planning...check. We've got a planting calendar, spreadsheet of seed + planting information and we're on it. I'll be putting a few herbs in small indoor pots tonight too.
2. Catching up, if only barely, on blogging, skating projects, SPJ work. Never underestimate the value of small, but consistent progress.
3. Hanging up a giant pile of clothes and cleaning up the bedroom.
4. A relaxing, quiet weekend at home with M. We skipped Super Bowl parties and other outings in favor of us time. It also involved watching Pacific Rim and me shouting "What?! It has wings? It can fly? It's a bat? Oh, that's just rude!" and M saying "You sound like a little kid."
5. Finishing an issue of Afar just in time for the next one to arrive and reading an entire issue of Time. Now to dive into a new book.
I'm Jenn, a globe-trotting, East Coast girl making a home in Montana. Read more here.