The Super Bowl is NOT a Holiday

Oh but it is…in a grocery store. I can’t believe I haven’t blogged since November! To be fair, I did send out a few newsletters. (If you want to get my cat pictures and oversharing, sign up HERE.)

In my day job, I live from holiday to holiday. There are a few quiet days in January, but then it goes Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day…and on and on. Lately, I’ve realized that I’ve allowed my day job to completely take over my life. I’m an overachiever. I pour myself into EVERY project like it’s my only project. Bakery is a beast. We never get enough done. The work is overwhelming. The expectations are endless. And I don’t know how to quit.

One of my daily goals for last month was “leave on time.” During January, the slowest month of the grocery store year, I left on time SIX TIMES. I can do better than that. I must do better than that. Because I want to have energy for other things that matter. And when I work twelve-hour days, I don’t. It’s as simple as that.

Do you have a goal for February? What is it? How are you going to crush it?

Is Your Heart on the Back Burner?

No, I’m not talking about grieving or counseling. What is blowing my mind this morning is how easy it is for me to put my writing, which is really freaking important to me and the project of my heart, on the back burner.

I got home from Cincinnati on Tuesday, spent Wednesday picking up the threads of family and financial life, went back to work on Thursday…and BOOM. I worked overtime every day and completely (well, almost) lost of all the creative inspiration that welled up during my two-week “break.”

The books I want to write really aren’t going to write themselves.

A Monday suggestion for anyone out there who puts something they love last on their to-do list: Do it first. Do it now. Don’t do it as a reward for getting all the have-tos done. Do it because it gives the mundane stuff more meaning. You WILL get all of your have-tos done…because you HAVE TO. But you won’t get your want-tos done unless you prioritize them.

Do you put your passion project last on your list? Why?

And if you don’t, do you have any suggestions for how those of us who do can stop? Me, I’m going to go back to writing FIRST thing in the morning. I’M DOING IT.

What’s your goal for this fine Monday?

My latest LOVE! (Planners, Personalities, and BIG ideas)

Hi there!

When I think about writing a new blog, there’s always this little person in the back of my mind (It’s not just a voice. It’s a whole person, rolling her eyes.) telling me no one cares about that topic. So I go on with my life without writing the blog because my life is crazy busy and super interesting (even if only to me). Of course, there’s another person (This one has her hands on her hips and is sighing and shaking her head SO SADLY.) who thinks I should blog at LEAST twice a week to build my author brand so I don’t disappear while I’m writing this monster of a book that eats my heart every day. So I go on with my life without writing the blog because that person is nuts and there are too many good books to read to spend that much time writing.

But I like to SHARE, so when I have something I think you guys might love, I blog.

So…one great thing that has made my life love-lier IS:

My Me & My Big Ideas planner. No. Really.

I’m not a planner. I’m not. (I wasn’t.) I’m not crafty. At. All. And I couldn’t understand why all my author friends were talking about stickers and posting pictures of their planners. It seemed so silly. My author friends are smart. And have super busy lives, and…stickers? Whaaaaaaat?

But then (in January) I somehow came across a Me & My Big Ideas Planner on the internet, and people, they have videos of each planner, so you can look through them and see all the inspiring quotes. Inspiring quotes are something I can really get behind. Because WORDS! My particular favorite in this planner is “No grit. No pearl.” But I also like the one about balance. Of course.

I really want to finish this book.

So I got to thinking, “What if I got a cool planner and put all the stuff I usually write on post-it notes each DAY, and kept track of my life in ONE place? And then what if I figured out a reasonable way to really focus and prioritize and delight in my writing projects with the whole YEAR in sight and not just one DAY scribbled on a post-it that ends up mashed and lost in a pocket somewhere? What if? What if I were somehow ACCOUNTABLE?”

The eye-roller told me I’ve bought planners before and I will waste money AND fail.

HOWEVER, I’m bigger than the eye-roller, and I’ve learned a little something about my personality type, thanks to that little trip to Palm Springs with my high school BFF last year. (Thanks, Erin!) I’m an obliger. Which means I find it easy to keep promises to others…but not to myself. (Find YOUR personality type here! There’s an article and a video with links to Gretchen Rubin’s site where you can take a quiz. See if it helps you reach your GOALS. It’s given me a lot to think about this year.)

So I found a way to make this planner thing work for my obliging self…by dragging my friend Jessica Topper into it. She’s not a planner, either, and frankly, she’s a little stuck on her book, like me. She said no, because non-planner people are resistant. But I was enthusiastic, and eventually she was as seduced and intoxicated by the idea of making things happen as I was. Plus, I made it an early birthday present, so she had nothing to lose. LOL. (See, there’s persuasion and then there’s bullying. I’m an Aries. It’s a fine line. But so is she, so it’s all good. I got her the same one I got myself because you should give other people things you want for yourself, right?) We decided to meet on convenient Sundays and plan/dream/brainstorm and keep our big ideas present in our lives instead of hidden on post-it notes jammed in forgotten pockets.

And I think it’s working! I have a long running list of things I check off or transfer from week to week. I write down the appointments and work things that usually hover in the back of my mind making me uncomfortable and I get them done. On the creative side, I can’t avoid the fact that I want to get the book done because there are all these cute little stickers cheering me on. It’s so easy for me to prioritize the work and family goals and ignore my creative goals (because they’re only important to me). Planning is helping me do ALL the things, and meeting my creative goals is DELIGHTING me, and talking to Jess makes the things HAPPEN. Don’t tell anyone, (especially the eye-roller) but I’ve planned to finish the monster book THIS MONTH.)

It’s Jess’s birthday today and mine on Saturday, so we are celebrating, planning, writing, having lunch, and going to yoga. Banner day! So happy birthday to us and to all the other April babies out there! Do you use a planner? Does it make you HAPPY? Which one?

Dirty Girl Mud Run a.k.a. Get Strong Or Eat Mud!

Triumphant Dirty Girls!

At 8:45 am in the driving rain, Jessica Topper and I, along with about 75 other Dirty Girls in our wave, began jogging up a ski hill at Kissing Bridge. Why? I don’t know why Jess was doing it, but I was braving rain, mud and unknown obstacles because I had decided it’s never too late to get strong. I admit it – having kids did a number on me, and it has taken me YEARS to get my mojo back. Postpartum hemorrhage, nursing, sleep deprivation, working nights to avoid paying day care, picking up part-time jobs when the economy crashed and deciding to become a writer and seek publication made me tired. Really freaking tired. And weak. And every time I tried to get back in shape something hurt – or broke – and I got even more discouraged.

Then I discovered yoga. I also remembered something I knew ten years ago and had forgotten – the only thing that is going to get my ass into the gym is a deadline. For me, that means if it’s not an exercise class, forget about it. However, yoga on Monday at 9? I’m there. Zumba on Wednesday at 10? You bet! Dirty Girl Mud Run in September? Sure! It’s good to have a goal, right? Get strong or eat mud. Yes, deadlines are very motivating. Plus, at least 2.5% of the registration fees for the Dirty Girl go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I love helping to fight breast cancer!

I didn’t do nearly enough training over the summer, but on the day of the Dirty Girl, Jess and I were standing at the starting line, ready to tackle whatever the course might bring. Icy rain. Mud. Hills. Walls. Cargo nets. And you know what we talked about as we ran? YOGA! Yup. Jess loves yoga, too, and it figures heavily into the plot of her new book. We brainstormed in the rain storm, taking time out to climb over or slog through whatever happened to be in front of us. And I felt strong.

As I lay on the floor during savasana at yoga yesterday morning, I pondered how getting stronger is a lot like writing a book (or reaching other intimidating goals). It happens in small bits, over a period of time. I’ve been doing yoga for a year. A YEAR. Sometimes once a week. Sometimes twice. Sometimes not at all when the kids are home during the summer. But I can now do poses that would have sent me into a week-long cramp last year. The writing journey has taken more than a year (more like 9) but I can now write a first draft in a month, and it doesn’t suck nearly as much as my first draft of Scrumptious. Small muscles develop over time. Start with the core. Start small. Get stronger. Keep showing up. And if you are like me, give yourself a goal or a deadline!

New Deadline.

My new deadline is the Tough Mudder next July. I watched my husband complete the course last April and it was one of the most inspiring things I have ever witnessed. The Tough Mudder course is reputed to be the toughest obstacle course on the planet. Am I tough enough? Probably not…but it’s a hell of a motivator! And I do love a deadline.

What about you? What gets you there? Where do you find motivation to tackle things that make you want to hide under the covers?