A year of challenges: January Edition

Happy New Year! The list of things I want to improve, do more or less of, or change for 2016 has been growing more and more unwieldy in my mind, so I’ve been thinking of ways to tackle these items over the course of the year in a way that won’t be impossible.  Instead of writing down a list that will be intimidating, I’ve decided to approach the mountain by introducing new routines month by month. 

There are three things I am going to define today that I really want to do over the next 365 days. 

  1. Read one biography or autobiography per month
  2. Define monthly challenges, and write about them – the good, the bad and the ugly. Include a challenge each month that is scary or uncomfortable for me.
  3. Write every day. Not necessarily on my blog, but in some form that isn’t either a Facebook update, Tweet or business email. This could include journaling, Storycube exercises, short stories, or any other act of writing. Every. Single. Day.

So, here it is! During the month of January, I am going to: 

  1. Read Flappers. It looks amazing. I mean, really – who doesn’t love a good story about daring, trailblazing, scandalous women?   
  2. Shoot to do the 7 Minute Workout Challenge five times per week. Bonus abs for me if I do it more! (There’s the highly uncomfortable one! I am an expert in talking myself out of this kind of thing.)
  3. Write daily. 

I’m anxious to see how sticking to these new regimens will introduce new thoughts, ideas and experiences into my life. And I will be honest about my progress. 🙂

What fun new challenges are you planning for 2016? 

For the woman who aspires to look like a hornet

If you watch later-night television, you’re used to seeing infomercials. I frequently shout at the t.v. while they’re on, but you’re about to hear about a product that’s brought about a new category for this blog: Do people really buy that?

The majority of infomercials, I’d say, are quick-fix ways to improve your looks.  Whether your goal is to get healthier, look younger, appear thinner or more beautiful, behold! There are infinite products that promise fast results for your problems.

Additionally, even if you feel damn good about yourself, if you wake up at the wrong stage of R.E.M. to the smiling face of Cindy Crawford or commanding ways of Jillian Michaels, you may even find yourself doubting self confidence you thought you had when you fell asleep a few hours ago. Worst case, you may wake up with a hefty charge on your credit card and a nearly-impossible-to-cancel subscription to snake oil.

Last night, as I cleaned up from dinner, a commercial for a waist trainer that will magically transform you into an “hourglass” came on.  I heard my thirteen-year-old gasp as she looked up from her homework.

On the screen, a woman beamed as she cinched a powerful elastic band around her midsection.

“That’s just wrong,” she shouted.

Interested, I asked her why it is wrong.

“First of all, that looks painful,” she yelled. “And second of all—that’s… It’s just not YOU.”

Pleased with her command of adult female anatomy and what bodies truly do look like, I agreed with her.  Her wound-up yelling resulted in her curious 11-year-old brother running into the kitchen to see what this was all about.  Per his request, we rewound the commercial.

“EW,” he screamed.  “That HAS to be squishing her organs! And she looks freaky!  She doesn’t look real.”

As the commercial played out, I started to think about how regulated drug commercials are.  Those ads are forced to list off every potentially nasty side-effect, down to the very furthest edge case.  How is it that commercials like this are not required to do the same?  As a public service, I’ve crafted a potential list of physical risks or side effects to binding your midsection in such a manner:

  • Bugged-out eyes
  • bloated and purple face
  • shelf-like bosom
  • audible sound of the air being squeezed involuntarily out of your lungs (and other places)
  • thighs become knees
  • knees become calves
  • cankles
  • not having any fun at all in that dress you bought this to look good in
  • may result in injury or at least great surprise while disrobing in the presence of another
  • some sort of discharge (it does roll downhill!)
  • being mistaken for a large hornet, and swatted by a giant Orkin man
    Photo credit: William Warby
    Photo credit: William Warby

    Suddenly, that $20 price tag seems a bit steep, don’t you think?

Remember—if it seems like it is too good to be true, it is probably too good to be true.

 

 

 

The Power of the Network

I love to write.

As a student, I hated taking multiple choice tests, but thrived on essay evaluations. If I didn’t know the answer, I could at least get personal satisfaction from crafting an answer that was as entertaining as possible for my evaluator. This technique often included a silent prayer that I’d get points for creativity, along with the hope that a colorful (yet even possibly wrong) response would at least offer brief respite from a sea of over-rehearsed and dry responses from my classmates.

Guess what? It often worked.

I’ve let my writing go over the past five years for a multitude of reasons, and I miss it. Generally, my excuses are classic:

  • I have writer’s block
  • I need to reign in my focus
  • I don’t have time
  • I forgot my password
  • I unceremoniously let my domain expire, due to all of the above

Luckily, I have made some really amazing friends along the way.  I met Kathy Korman Frey in 2010, when my friend Cindi and I attended her Hot Mommas Project’s “SisU” at George Washington University.  It was awesome.  An auditorium full of women, talking about everything from mentorship and entrepreneurship to corporate life and family.

A few weeks ago, on Twitter, Kathy posed a very public question to Cindi, myself and another one of her friends:

Screenshot 2015-08-01 18.52.49

I replied:

Screenshot 2015-08-01 18.57.27

And then, it got real.  Not only did she ask how my crew could support me, but she also proposed a deadline.

That gesture prompted me to start this new blog, but more importantly got me thinking about my biggest takeaway from #SisU: The power of the network.

Whatever your focus, (and gender aside) you’ll simply be much more likely to succeed in your career and life in general if you lock in a committed network.

Healthy networks consist of people who are willing to share, debate, learn and listen.  All four attributes are required.  Regardless of age and/or experience, the most rewarding connections are always willing to share, debate, learn and listen.

I’m a bit late on the deadline, but, hey! I blogged!  I’m excited to be back in the game. Thanks for reading, and thanks for being my #Accountabilibuddy, Kathy!  The fact that you care enough about your people to push us means a great deal.

So, how does one go about building a quality network?  How do you identify people who are willing to share, debate, learn and listen? Please share your thoughts in the comments below! 

I’ll explore that in an upcoming post.