new apartment, new dog, new chapter.

I went a little radio silent last week.

I had a few blog posts planned, but I had a sneaking suspicion the whole time that they might never actually get written or posted. As I’ve been teasing to for weeks, my husband and I moved to a new apartment last Monday, and since we were on a tight timeline to get everything set and organized (more on why in a second!), there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room for me to write. Add in a nasty sinus sickness and a buttload of unexpected work, and you’ve got a blog slacker on your hands.

ANYWAY, putting last week’s chaos behind me, here’s a recap of the three major milestones that went down since I last visited this special little space…

1. NEW APARTMENT. That’s right, people. It finally happened. We’re out of our old place! Honestly, saying goodbye to that little apartment proved way more emotional than I expected (part of the reason why I didn’t post last week was because I was planning to recap some of my favorite memories from that home, and I just didn’t feel ready to do it). As exciting as new chapters are, I think it’s OK to feel sad about the closing of old chapters. Our last place was meaningful for me in so many ways. It was the starting point for Matt and my life together, yes, but it was also where I really found myself professionally and personally. I spent so many hours in that apartment alone, figuring out how to move forward as a freelancer and working away at new ideas and projects. When I walked around its empty rooms last week, I couldn’t help but be a little defensive at the thought of new people moving in on what had felt for so long like my personal clubhouse.

The new apartment is, however, great. It took a lot of work for us to get everything set up — why does moving always have to be such a pain? — but now that it is, it finally feels like home. Matt started his mandatory two-week leave from work (this is something he needs to do annually) on the day we moved, so he was a picture-hanging machine in those first few days! I’m planning to do a full post about the new apartment in the next few weeks, so be on the lookout for that!

2. NEW DOG. Yes! In perhaps even more exciting news (if you’re a dog lover like me, at least!), Matt and I picked up our golden retriever puppy on Saturday, just five days after we moved into the new apartment. His name is Irving — mostly we call him Irv — and he is exactly everything I ever hoped for in a dog!

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Having a puppy is a lot of work, but he’s picking up on a lot of things very quickly and he’s almost suspiciously comfortable in the city. On Saturday morning, we were pulling him out of a literal barn stall, and by Saturday night, he was happily peeing on grates and waddling in and out of the elevator of our building like he was born to it!

I’ve been feeling all kinds of anxiety about whether or not I’m doing everything “right” as a dog owner. So many people have opinions, and it’s easy to feel like you’re messing things up. But, Irv is a crazy happy pup (his tail barely ever stops wagging) and we left the vet this morning with an almost perfect bill of health (he has a tiny baby ear infection, probably leftover from before we picked him up!), so I’m trying to just trust my instincts and do what seems best. To all the mamas of human babies out there, I feel like I’m getting a taste of the mom shaming I’ve heard so much about!

(And, yes, Irv’s impending arrival was the reason that we had to hustle so hard to get everything in the apartment finished within a few days. We didn’t want things sitting around in boxes with a new puppy around! At the time, it felt like we were being a little crazy about the whole thing, but in hindsight, it was totally the right call.)

3. NEW CHAPTER. We picked Irv up on September 15, and I was so busy planning for that that I almost forgot that it also marked two years since my last day at my corporate job. The one-year anniversary felt like such a huge milestone, and as excited as I was to bring our puppy home, I was kind of kicking myself for allowing the date to pass me by this year. It’s hard to believe that I’m now onto year three of this whole freelance life, but I’m excited to continue to evolve and change as a writer and a person.

I’m sure I’ll have lots more to say about all of these changes when I do a bit more reflecting later this week for my birthday (!!!) — but in the meantime, I just had to share all the news!

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monthly goals recap -> august + september.

At the top of each monthly tending list in my PowerSheets, I’m prompted to fill a blank space with some encouraging or motivating words for the month. Typically, I spend an almost embarrassing amount of time after I put together my goals scouring the Internet for a quote or song lyric that captures everything I’m trying to accomplish for that month, then use that to fill the space. This month, it looks a little different. For September, my encouraging words are…

Chill out and enjoy.

When I started thinking about what September’s words of motivation should be, these were the first ones that came to mind. For a few minutes, I considered looking for something a little deeper, a little more creative or intellectual. But I decided to go with my gut. One of my general hopes for the month ahead is that I can destress in certain areas of my life, and taking away the unnecessary expectations I had on myself about coming up with the perfect quote to write in my planner seemed like a good place to start.

I think that sets the stage for this goals recap pretty well, no?

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I can’t wait to talk more about all the chilling out and enjoying that I hope to do in the weeks ahead, but in the meantime, let me share a little more about how things panned out in August.

  • Finish two chapters of book. I finished about a chapter and a half. It’s not quite as much quantity-wise as I would have hoped, but I feel really good about the quality of the work, so I’m not going to stress about it too much.
  • Land one new outlet. YES! I actually landed two new outlets. I picked up an assignment for a new print outlet (more to come on that in a few months!), as well as more copywriting and blogging work for another small business.
  • Maintain SSR workflow. YES! I have a really good system down after two full months with the podcast.
  • Submit four (great) pitches to target outlets. I submitted three — not four — big pitches.
  • Investigate podcast ad networks and growth opportunities. YES! After researching some options in August, I haven’t actually taken action on anything yet, but it feels good to have started the process. There are other ideas that I’ve been brainstorming over the last few days that I’m even more excited about, and I can’t wait to explore those further in September.
  • Network for podcast guests and pitch SSR for publicity every week. YES! 
  • Treadmill three times per week. In the final week of the month, I only ran twice. Between move prep and an insane workload, I was just finding rest and other kinds of exercise better for my stress levels! As much as I love to push myself at the gym five to six days a week, I’m trying to get better at listening to my body. I did, however, stick to my treadmill goal three weeks out of the month.
  • Stick to weekly SSR social media calendar. YES! I’m having so much fun with all of the SSR social media. It’s been a really great creative outlet! My personal social media feeds have definitely suffered as a result of all the time I’ve spent coming up with fun ideas for SSR, but I’m hoping to figure out a better balance moving forward.
  • Prioritize a date night every week. With the move on the horizon, Matt and I have been finding date nights more important than ever these days. We missed one week of date night, but with all of the craziness in our lives lately, I still feel pretty good about how much we’ve been able to prioritize each other.
  • Read target outlets more regularly. I’m still struggling to find time for this, but I think being aware of that has been a good first step.
  • Practice focus. YES! As you might remember if you read my last goals recap, I had a lot of trouble with time management in July after I made some big changes to my schedule and workload. I found myself getting even more overwhelmed with projects than was necessary because I couldn’t focus on any one thing for a long period of time. That got a lot better in August, and it allowed me to be really productive and creative.
  • Prepare well for our move! YES! We’re just a few days away from moving into our new apartment, and given all the time we’ve spent traveling over the last few weeks, I think we’ve done about as much as we can to be proactive about the process. The real test will come in September, when we actually have to do the move and transition into our new space and routine!

August was a really great month for me both professionally and personally, and it feels good to have that momentum coming into a new season. (And a new year… September is my birthday month!) Still, setting goals for next month was tricky. I wrote about this quite a bit in my last post about change, but there are so many transitions ahead for us in September — new apartment! new puppy! — that I’m not quite sure what my time’s going to look like or what kind of bandwidth I’m going to be working with. As of now, my plan is to do lots of good work with my current clients and projects (and the podcast, of course), but to lower the pressure I put on myself to constantly be in hustle mode with developing new business. It’s been a crazy summer for me with work, and even if we weren’t going to need a few days to settle into our new apartment or if I didn’t have a new furry, un-trained friend coming to live with me five days later, it would probably be time for me to cut myself some slack.

Anyway, I have no idea how September is really going to shake out. And I’m trying not to have as many expectations of myself. 

Here is my list of goals for the month, which you’ll definitely notice is much shorter than usual.

  • Successfully transition into our new apartment. Moves are always stressful! We’ve front-loaded a lot of the hard work necessary for ours, and now that the actual move date is in sight, I’m ready to channel all of that work into the actual experience of settling into our new space!
  • Finish two or three chapters of my book. As always, keep on truckin’.
  • Continue to research growth opportunities for the podcast. Yes, I love doing the podcast as a passion project, but I am starting to think about ways to make it bigger and maybe even to monetize it. As I mentioned above, I came up with some really fun ideas over the last few days, and I’m going to spend some time in September trying to figure out what’s actually going to be doable and most true to my mission with the show.
  • Secure one new outlet or project. I know I said I was going to pull back on the hustle, but I’d like to lock down onnnnne new opportunity in the next few weeks.
  • Read seven books. I have a lot of podcast recordings on the books in the months ahead, which means I have lots of YA and middle grade books to read! Since we’ll be spending a lot of time at the apartment with the puppy, I think this will also be a good time to knock some other “grown-up” books off my TBR list.
  • Focus on hospitality and celebrations! One of the things I’m most looking forward to with our new apartment is that its larger size will make it a lot easier for us to welcome people into our home. I’ve always loved hosting people, and with so much to celebrate in September, I can’t wait to really embrace that hospitality.
  • Establish good puppy habits! I’m under no delusions that getting a 10-week-old puppy is going to be easy. The first few weeks will be key to ensuring that we can get him trained and keep him feeling safe and happy. That’s a huge priority for me!
  • Read target outlets. There’s still a lot of room for me to establish consistency with this in my daily routine. I’m hoping that pulling back on some of my hustle mentality will give me the headspace I need to make this happen.

Oh – and chill out and enjoy. Because, duh.

Given all of the big changes coming up over here, I think next month’s goals recap is going to be quite interesting… and I’m excited to keep you all in the loop about each milestone in the meantime!

What are you hoping to accomplish in September? Tell me more in the comments below! 

 

 

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august giveaway winner announced!

I hope everyone’s gearing up for a fun holiday weekend! Tomorrow afternoon, I’m getting on a plane to Arizona to celebrate one of my bestie’s bachelorette parties. I’ve never been to AZ, and while I’m definitely bracing myself for the heat, I’m super excited to get out of the city for a few days and to spend QT with some of my favorite people. Plus… no humidity, right? That will be a welcome change from New York!

I take the red eye back on Sunday night so that Matt and I can buckle down with packing for the last part of the long weekend. We’re almost in the home stretch of this move, people!

As usual, though, I’m getting ahead of myself. There are more urgent matters to get to, like announcing the August giveaway winner!

Based on a random drawing, the winner of this month’s giveaway prize — a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble — is…

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Congratulations! I’ll reach out today to make arrangements to send you your prize!

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As always, thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway this month : )

I’ll see you all early next week to chat August and September goals! Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend! 

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a season of change.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a complicated relationship with change.

The prevailing philosophy about change, I think, is that it’s tough to deal with. “I’m bad with change.” You hear that a lot. I, for one, am guilty of using it to explain away my not-so-great behavior during periods of transition.

There are people who love change. They thrive on the opportunity to start fresh over and over again, to reinvent who they are based on unusual circumstances that force them out of their comfort zone. Life seems like it would be easier for people who can embrace change this way. I do think, though, that things get tricky for this group when a change proves disappointing, or when one change doesn’t follow another quickly enough. If you thrive on new situations, the more predictable flow of day-to-day life isn’t going to consistently make you happy… and that’s where the relationship with change gets complicated.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. If you’ve been following the blog for any period of time, you already know how much I dig a good routine. I’ve already copped to defaulting to that “I’m bad with change” excuse. And all that’s true. Still, I’m pretty adaptable. I learned as a kid to adjust to new scenarios, so I’m confident in my ability to do that. Change is hard for me to process upfront — but my routines! and my schedule! and my usual routes! — but once I’ve worked through that, I don’t usually find myself getting too sentimental about actually executing the transitions ahead of me. More recently, I’ve even found myself craving change after long periods of predictability! A few years ago, I don’t think I would have guessed that would ever be the case. Let’s all treat ourselves to ice cream sundaes for personal growth, okay?

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Matt and I are currently smack in the middle of a season of massive transition, and it’s putting all of my complicated feelings about change to the test. I’ve been talking about this for a few weeks (because it’s very exciting!), but we’re moving to a new apartment in Brooklyn in a few weeks and (this just in!) we are officially getting a puppy just five days after that. We put a deposit on our pup last week and I. am. so. excited. I’ve been debating whether or not to share a photo of him in advance, but as hard as it is, I think I’m going to keep him to myself for now! Trust me when I say that he’s really cute and that I’ll be positively overloading you with pics in a few weeks. Anticipating all of these changes, I’ve been working 12- and 13-hour days recently. I know that having a puppy is going to require me to make some adjustments to my own routine so that he can be well-loved and well-trained in those early weeks. And since I only took one full day off this whole summer (for our Mexico trip!), I’m also just feeling really ready to give myself a little time and space in September. At this point, I’m not sure which or how many days I’ll be taking “off.” I just know that your girl’s going to have to cut herself some slack.

Really, what I’m trying to say is that I’m gearing up for two big changes — the move and the pup — in September, while also trying to mentally prepare myself for a longer period of the unknown. In the meantime, half of our apartment is packed into boxes that are slowly beginning to take over our already small space, and we’re traveling every weekend for weddings and other exciting events. That girl that used to say she was “bad at change” would not have thrived very well in this moment.

I don’t have anything especially profound to say about all of this, or any advice that I think will be particularly helpful to you if you’re in a similar season of change. Mostly, I’ve been surprising myself with how calm I’ve been through all of this… except for those Sunday nights when we’ve arrived home from a weekend of travel and I’ve realized just how much needs to get done between now and our move and how little time we have to accomplish it. And those moments when I realize how weird it’s going to be to live anywhere other than the little home where we got engaged, where I became a writer, where we really started our lives. Oh, and maybe those moments when I’ve been so burned out from those 12-hour days that I’m not as nice as I maybe should be to my husband. Sorry, Matt.

I guess I’m really grateful that I’m at this point in my life where I get to tackle these transitions. There are days when I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t other grown-ups that are bound to step in and deal with some of this stuff for me, but when I get past that, it’s exciting to realize how many decisions are now within my control and how many possibilities there really are. When we finally find our way out of this weird holding pattern we’ve been living in for the last few weeks — in 12 days, but who’s counting? — I just know that it’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to share that with you when it happens, but in the meantime… here I am. Excited and so, so ready to get all these changes going.

How do you feel about change? Tell me more in the comments below!

And…

Don’t forget to enter the August giveaway! This month, I’m giving a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble to one lucky winner. All you have to do to enter is comment on this post. I’ll be drawing the winner and announcing the results tomorrow, Thursday 8/30. Good luck!

 

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august giveaway.

It’s kind of hard for me to believe this, but it was exactly two years ago that I got myself a WordPress account, paid for the Finding Plan A domain name, and started drafting blog posts.

I’d given notice at my corporate job a few days earlier, and while I wasn’t quite sure what it would look like for me to become a professional writer, I knew that creating a small space for my informal writing on the Internet would probably be a good first step. If nothing else, I figured that my friends and family would be interested in reading more about how I was navigating the transition from 8-to-5 girl to freelancer. I spent my nights after work learning as much as I could about how to use WordPress effectively and reading articles on random lifestyle sites, imagining a day when I would be able to find my own writing there. I was trying to seem confident, but two years later, I can admit that I was grasping at straws, doing everything I could to prepare to enter the unknown so that the whole thing would feel a little less scary.

Ultimately, this space did serve as the gateway for so many other things, and while I don’t generally define myself as a Blogger (capital B) or think about the blog as a big chunk of my Business (another capital B), I am so grateful for all of the opportunities it has offered me to share my experiences and to connect with so many amazing people! The journey that I’ve been on as a freelancer really did start right here, and it’s hard for me to believe that it’s now been more than two years since I came up with the idea for it and started putting it into motion.

There’s going to be a lot more sentimental stuff like this here as we approach the two-year anniversary of me actually leaving my job in mid-September (huh???), but as I prepared to share the August giveaway with you, I couldn’t help but reflect on this quiet little milestone. I may have launched Finding Plan A on Sept. 23, but it was in the works for weeks before that, and that period of development and planning is worth celebrating, too!

Without further ado, though, I’m also happy to celebrate another GIVEAWAY DAY! 

This month, I’ll be giving away a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

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know you have plenty of books you want to pick up! I love summer reading, but there’s something equally special about knowing that fall is upon us, and that it will soon be time to curl up with a good read under a big pile of blankets. I hate to see summer go, but that visual definitely helps me cope.

All you have to do to enter is comment on this post! Share the love by sending the link to book-loving friends and loved ones, or by posting it to social media.

I’ll (randomly) draw and announce the winner one week from today, Thursday 8/30. Good luck!

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in honor of wedding season, some marriage lessons.

Matt and I were the first of our friends to get married.

Prior to our wedding in June of 2016, we’d celebrated one or two other marriages, but for most of our friends — and definitely for our friend groups as a whole — we were entering unchartered territory. I was 25 and Matt was 26, and while that’s definitely on the younger side, we had already been together for seven years by the time we said “I do.” It felt like it had been a long time coming! We threw a great party and felt so much love, and because I didn’t have other weddings to compare ours to throughout the planning process, I basically just did exactly what I wanted to do. This freedom to plan the wedding that Matt and I wanted (because I generally had no idea what I was doing) was the cherry on top of an already special time for us.

Two years later, it feels like we are finally smack in the middle of the ongoing wedding season that I’ve heard so much about from others. So many of our closest friends have celebrated engagements over the last year or two, and now we get to dance at their weddings! It’s a crazy time, but a fun and emotional one, too. This past weekend, we traveled to Chicago to kick-off the festivities! Both the bride and groom went to college with Matt, and since Matt and I were together throughout that time, these two are very close to my heart. We’ve already made so many memories with them, and I know there are so many more to come. After a few years of being the only married people in any friend group, Matt and I love welcoming other pals into the club!

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With all of these weddings coming up, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve learned about marriage so far. We celebrated our second wedding anniversary in June, and I know I still have so. much. to figure out. Still, I like to think there’s value in every small step. I’ll probably have wildly different wisdom to share about marriage five years, ten years, twenty years — even just one year! — from now, but in the meantime, it’s fun to capture what I’m realizing along the way.

Don’t try to have big conversations (AKA attempt to resolve an argument) in bed. I am entirely guilty of this. Matt’s much more likely to agree to set a problem aside even if we haven’t discussed it from every possible angle. Me? Not so much. I like to squeeze all of my apologies in and attempt every potential analysis of the issue, even if we’ve technically called a truce… and sometimes that lasts until the final minutes before bedtime. A few months ago, Matt and I agreed to stop having these kinds of conversations in bed. If either of us feels unsatisfied with a discussion after we’re under the covers, we ask the other to get up and get back into it somewhere else in the apartment. Especially given my sleep issues, we need to keep our bedroom as calm and relaxed as possible — and we don’t need to create space for conflict late at night.

The way you communicate with your partner changes over time. Just when Matt and I think that we have each other totally figured out, one or both of us realizes that we can do even better in the way we interact with each other. We’ve learned to be really open with each other about our relationship, and we work together to strategize our marriage the way either one of us would strategize individually about our work. If it feels like one or both of us needs to adjust our approach to each other or to the relationship, we talk it out!

Collective goals can be a moving target. Six months ago, if you’d asked me where I thought I would be at the end of August, I would tell you that Matt and I may have made a bigger move to a different city by now. I would tell you that a move like this would have taken some pressure off of both of us with our work, totally changing up that oh-so-hard-to-perfect balance between career and life. Earlier this year, that was our plan, and Matt and I are both so stubborn that we each mentally dug into it. Instead of having really honest conversations about what actually made the most sense for us, we each gritted our teeth and powered forward. Today, we couldn’t be happier about our collective decision to stay in New York and start kind of fresh with a new apartment. In order to get there, we both had to let go of the expectation that we see a somewhat arbitrary plan through to the end and to stop worrying about what other people might think about that decision.

Laughter can get you through almost anything. Cracking each other up has always been a major piece of Matt and my relationship, but I’ve learned recently just how important that humor is. We had a lot to figure out this year — see my last point! — and if I’m being totally honest, there were moments when things weren’t totally comfortable between us. No matter what, though, we found ways to make each other laugh, which helped us move forward on the days when we both felt frustrated.

Marriage makes everything feel more intense. The highs are higher, the lows are lower, and everything in between is a lot more fun than it was before.

What relationship advice do you have to share? 

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things i’m working on.

You know I love to celebrate a victory here on the blog. My most recent goals recap was — admittedly — chock full of humble brags… and I’m OK with that! I think we should all feel empowered to share our successes with each other, as long as we’re creating space for others to do the same. Basically, you can (and should) humble brag whenever you feel is appropriate, just as long as you’re prepared to throw a little humble brag party and invite all of your friends.

If I’m going to be open about my successes, though, I also think it’s important to be open about the things that I could be doing better. And with life being so crazy right now — in all the best ways, with weddings and exciting work opportunities and our big apartment move around the corner — there are definitely places where I feel like I’ve been coming up short recently. We can’t do it all, right?

With that in mind, here are a few things that I’m currently working on.

I’m working on getting back to a healthy, positive, consistent place with blogging and my personal social media. I feel like the blog has really suffered since I launched the podcast, and since I’m now managing multiple social media channels for SSR, I’ve also stopped posting to my personal Instagram… which I typically love doing! I need to figure out how to balance my passion projects with my day job, and I need to work on finding a healthier relationship with social media, more generally. I’m a firm believer that Instagram can be a positive place that’s not about obligation or posting a certain number of times per week. It’s hard to live that, though, when so much of your work overlaps with social media. I think I can get back there eventually. Maybe I just needed to step back for a bit.

I’m working on finding peace with a little bit of uncertainty. Our move is now a little less than four weeks away (which, if you can believe it, is actually a really long lead time here in New York City!), and since we’re traveling every weekend between now and then, I’m having a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the fact that this transition is actually going to happen and picturing what it’s going to look like when it does. I think I need to just get comfortable with that reality for now and enjoy all the exciting celebrations we have in the meantime.

I’m working on eating cleaner. I let myself get into some not-so-great snacking habits earlier in the summer, and I’m finally coming out of it now and feeling better.

I’m working on not stressing about how “well” the podcast is doing. Fun fact: it’s really hard to find metrics about your podcast, and since I’m a bit of a control freak, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t really hard for me not to have a better handle on how the show is actually growing. But I’m working on it!

I’m working on packing and organizing small nooks of our apartment as we go. Under-the-bathroom-sink cabinet, why must you be so daunting?

I’m working on screen time. Aren’t we all always working on screen time? Matt and I have both been working a lot after-hours recently, so it feels like it’s easier to always have our computers and phones in front of us. I need to get back in touch with that part of myself that shuts down work at a certain time, no matter how easy it is to try to squeeze in one. more. thing in front of the TV at night. When we move into our new place, I think we can really try to redraw the boundaries… and when we get our puppy, we’re going to have to change things up : )

I’m working on my hair. (See — it’s not all super serious!) With all the humidity and rain we’ve had here recently, it’s been in a messy bun 99 percent of the time these past few weeks. Eventually, I’m going to have to do something about that.

I’m working on finding more time to enjoy random articles and essays online. I talked about this in my most recent goals post, but I want to do a better job of consistently reading work from the outlets I want to write for. It’s important field research!

I’m working on not staring obsessively at the giant pile of half-packed boxes sitting in my office at the moment. (That’s not going very well.)

I’m working on staying further ahead of my reading schedule for SSR so I’m not cramming reading sessions — and then research sessions, which take longer than you might think! — the night before a recording. Last-minute is so not my style.

I’m working on stretching more consistently, since I’ve been running again.

I’m working on getting less freaked out about my inbox. HELP.

What are you working on? Tell me more in the comments below and we can keep each other accountable! 

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why i love bad tv.

I’ve never been especially shy about my obsession with what most people would probably categorize as “bad” TV.

I give a shoutout to embarrassing television in the vast majority of my professional bios (including the one on this very blog). I’ve been known to sit through an entire Emmy Awards ceremony having never actually watched any of the nominated shows because they’re too, well, good. When my friends start talking excitedly about the groundbreaking, deeply complicated scripted shows that they’ve been getting into recently, I generally just fiddle with my phone because I have nothing to contribute. I used to get flustered in moments like that, especially when people would politely ask me (in the way of a normal conversationalist) if I’d been watching, too. I also used to feel awkward any time someone asked me about my favorite TV show. Shouldn’t I have something more impressive to say than “any city of the Real Housewives is just fine, thank you!”?

In the last year or so, though, I’ve really leaned in to my thing for bad TV. I no longer see any reason to spend valuable brainpower trying to come up with the name of a highly-touted drama when asked about my media consumption, nor do I have any patience for people who judge me when I can’t do this successfully. After all, I’m a well-read, well-educated, hard-workin’ lady. Why shouldn’t I take pride in watching (and then re-watching on Hulu) every single episode of the Housewives?

season 14 abc GIF by The Bachelorette

If, like me, you’re a fan of reality TV, you already know that this was a big week for the genre, with the finale of The Bachelorette airing on Monday night. I’m not ready to talk about the results yet, because it makes me too sad to think about Blake and his broken heart, but I did think it was the perfect time to share more thoughts about why I’m now totally owning my bad TV fandom. Plus, it’s Friday… so why not?

  • Humans are fascinating in their natural(-ish) state. I’ve always loved people watching. Airports, malls, basically anywhere in New York City — you name it, and it’s an incredible place to observe people just living their lives. I’m convinced that my fascination with people watching contributed to my love of writing! Reality TV taps into this fascination, and while some of these shows are more heavily produced than others, if you allow yourself to buy into the illusion, it’s an amazing window into human behavior.
  • Real life is serious enough. I read the news. I’m (largely) educated on all of the truly important things that are happening in our world these days. And since I do stay informed, I feel like it’s almost necessary for me to maintain a little mental balance by indulging in some pop culture that’s purely entertaining.
  • It helps put my own drama in perspective. Trust me… I’m not interested in any of the craziness that happens on these shows happening in my own life, and I’m under no illusion that average people actually experiences these things IRL. That being said, it can be refreshing to realize — after a particularly vicious screaming match on the Housewives, for example — that I really have my you-know-what together a lot more than I give myself credit for.
  • There’s such amazing conversation to be had around it. I’ve been loyally watching reality TV since the first time my mom turned on The Bachelor when I was in middle school, but the whole category has only gotten better since social media hit the scene. Add in the bevy of think pieces you can find all over the Internet after pretty much any episode of any show and the recap podcasts, and you’ve got yourself a fascinating subculture.
  • It’s a social experience! If there’s Thai food and wine and my close girl friends, I’m there.

Do you love bad TV… or love to hate it? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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monthly goals recap -> july + august.

Happy Friday!

Today is my last day at the Jersey shore with my family, and I am feeling sufficiently sunburned and caught up on reading. It’s always a bummer to leave a vacation, but it’s been a great trip, and I’m so grateful to have the chance to return to this meaningful place every summer.

I have some work to do before I can head down to the beach to enjoy a final few hours, so let’s jump right into the July and August goals recap, shall we? (Check out last month’s recap here for a refresher.) This past month was a good one!

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You may not know my whole system, but trust me when I tell you that all of those check marks and filled in bars are a really good thing!

As I fully eased into my streamlined and reprioritized schedule in July, I was really able to focus on the things that mattered most and to make a lot of progress on my goals. Here’s a recap:

  • Pitch to two target outlets. √ YES! I was pitching a lot at the beginning of the month and opened up some great conversations with editors about potential assignments that I’m hoping come to fruition in the next few weeks. After so many months of having limited time to pitch and develop new business opportunities, it felt good to get back in the game.
  • Figure out weekly workflow for podcast production. √ YES! The biggest challenge with podcasting is that having a show of your own requires you to constantly be working on two levels — promoting existing episodes and producing future episodes… and if you really want to be successful, you can’t afford to be inconsistent with either! Establishing a social media calendar at the beginning of every week has been helpful (more on that later), and I’ve also found a good rhythm of editing episodes for the following week on Mondays and Tuesdays, recording their intros on Wednesdays, finalizing the audio file on Thursdays, and doing a final listen and working on the show notes on Fridays.
  • Read five six books.√ YES! Outside of the reading I did for SSR this month, I read An American Marriage (totally appreciated its impact, but still wasn’t crazy about it), Girl, Wash Your Face (a really fun memoir with strains of self-help that I tore through in a single day), The Kiss Quotient (the steamiest book I’ve ever read, but generally didn’t meet the hype for me), and 90s Bitch (some of the most fascinating, compelling non-fiction I’ve read).
  • Network for podcast guests and pitch SSR for publicity on a weekly basis.√ YES! Actively making a point to do both of these things every week has been really helpful. Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming to think about the long game for the podcast — especially on top of all of my other work — but chipping away at growing it little by little makes it more manageable.
  • Start book outlining process.√ YES! AND I’VE STARTED WRITING AGAIN!
  • Treadmill three times per week.√ YES! Making a goal of this has given me a new structure to my workouts, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Going to the gym is such a, well, routine part of my routine, that I can easily get kind of lazy with what I actually do when I get there. Challenging myself to get back into running shape has been good for me.
  • Develop and stick to SSR social media calendar every week.√ YES! I mentioned this briefly above, and if you follow SSR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you know that I’ve definitely been doing it : )
  • Read target outlets more regularly.√ YES! I could definitely do a better job with this, but I did make more of a habit of it in July.

I wrote about this a little more in last week’s post about streamlining, but my hope moving into August is that I’ll learn to make even better use of some of the time and mental bandwidth that’s opened up since I made the very tough call to transition out of regular work for one of my clients. Now that I’m getting more comfortable with all of the work that goes into producing and promoting the podcast, some of that margin actually exists — yay! — and I’m trying to figure out where I want to focus so I can use it accordingly.

Here’s how some of those August goals break down:

  • Finish two chapters of book. Now that I have an outline — and a few pages — in place, I want to keep building on that momentum!
  • Land one new outlet. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that this used to be on my list of goals for every month. I’m bringing it back for August! As I work on revisiting my priorities, I think this is a really great marker for progress. And good news! I already have some prospects lining up.
  • Maintain SSR workflow. That podcast production schedule I described up top? Gotta keep it going!
  • Submit four (great) pitches to target outlets. You know the drill.
  • Investigate podcast ad networks and growth opportunities. Don’t get me wrong — the podcast is great as a passion project, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in finding ways to monetize it down the road. I know it’s still early, but I want to start learning more about advertising opportunities and the like now so that I can figure out the best way to take advantage of them when the time is right.
  • Network for podcast guests and pitch SSR for publicity every week. That goal was so helpful in July that I’m keeping it around for August!
  • Treadmill three times per week. Same as above.
  • Stick to weekly SSR social media calendar. Anddddddd same as above.
  • Prioritize a date night every week. Matt and I both have a lot going on right now — both individually and as a couple — and I think it’s more important than ever that we make a point to set aside one night each week to spend time together.
  • Read target outlets more regularly. I tried to make this a more regular priority last month, but I need to do better. In order to help me be more consistent, I may start building in a time buffer every morning during which I can focus on doing nothing but reading stories from the websites and magazines that I’d like to contribute to! After all, things are much more likely to get accomplished when they happen before I even look at my inbox.
  • Practice focusI found myself getting more distracted than usual at the end of July, and I want to reel that in ASAP.

There’s been another major development in our personal life over here, which brings me to one more (extremely important) goal for the coming weeks…

  • Prepare well for our move! It’s official — Matt and I are officially staying in New York for at least another year. We signed a lease on a great new apartment last week and are moving in early September. August is a crazy month for us (we have two weddings and then one weekend where Matt is away for a bachelor party and I’m away for a bachelorette party!), so we have limited time to get everything organized. Natural planner that I am, I’m already making lists and calls, trying to do as much as I can now so the final weeks feel a little less crazy. Still, moving out of our tiny apartment is going to be tricky, since there aren’t a lot of places to actually put stuff once it’s been packed. Yikes!

How is your August looking? What are you hoping to accomplish? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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july giveaway winner announced!

Hello, hello! I am currently in one of my very happiest places — Ocean City, NJ — kicking off a week with family! As you might remember if you’ve been following the blog for a while, we’ve been coming to the shore here every year since I was born, so it’s always a very special part of the summer. I’ll be logging work hours early in the morning (at my favorite coffee shop, hopefully!) and late at night so I can enjoy as much time on the beach as possible. There are books to be read! Naps to be taken! Backlogged podcast episodes to be listened to! It’s just so much to try to accomplish…

Beach or no beach, though, it’s time to announce the winner of the July giveaway! This lucky person will be the recipient of a $25 gift card to BaubleBar. There are so many fun accessories for sale on the site right now!

Based on a random drawing, congratulations to…

Lindsey Sanders

I’ll reach out shortly so we can make sure your prize gets to you ASAP!

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Thanks so much to those who entered this month. Remember — you’ll have another chance in August!

I hope you have a happy Monday, friends! I’ll be back later this week to share a recap of my July and August goals : ) 

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