things i’m working on.

Matt and I are home from Chicago after a weekend of friends and cold temperatures! If it wasn’t so far away from family and so chilly for so much of the year, I think we would seriously consider making that our next move. Having spent a very formative summer at Northwestern University between my junior and senior years of high school, I have a lot of really significant memories of Chicago, and as an adult, I see even more how much the city has to offer. It’s a little (maybe a lot) more low key than New York, but has a similar diversity of neighborhoods, plus so many things to do and see. We’re heading back there for a wedding in August and I’m excited to have a chance to explore even more when the weather is warmer. I’ve heard that summer in Chicago is the very best! I already have a list of things I want to check out on our next trip : )

As fun as the trip was, it was also the kick-off to a hectic few months of travel and events for us, and as my plane started to land at Laguardia, I couldn’t help but find myself starting to stress over the state of the calendar from now until May. Most of what we have coming up is good, but chaos is chaos, and for me, it’s important to spend some time really getting my head right before starting an especially busy time. With that in mind, there are a few things I’m working on that I think will help me keep my cool as we enter the craziness of spring (if only we could get some spring weather, too!)…

I’m working on having a better attitude about social media. I’ve been so focused recently on setting boundaries with my phone that I’ve gotten away from the fun parts of Instagram, which is a platform that I genuinely enjoy. I want to put less pressure on myself and strike a better balance.

I’m working (as always) on improving my pitching skills! I need to get back in a better routine of reading more content from different outlets so that I can come to my editors with fresh and creative ideas.

I’m working on giving myself more time to unwind in bed with a good book at night.

I’m working on being a clearer communicator with pretty much everyone in my life. I need to do a better job of telling people what I need.

I’m working on reintegrating workouts outside of my half marathon training into my routine. Running is going great so far this year, but I’d like to find time to work in some lower-impact activities, too.

I’m working on getting back into Pinterest! I fully revamped my profile and would love for you to give me a follow here.

I’m working on comparing myself less to other writers. Social media does not help with the whole comparison game.

I’m working (with Matt) on getting date nights back on the calendar, especially as we head into this season of craziness!

I’m working on learning to see some things in my work as experiments. They don’t always need to be perfect, as long as they help me learn how to do better next time.

I’m working on overbooking myself a little less during the week : )

I’m working on saying “I’m proud of you” less, because I read somewhere that — even though it’s a nice thing to hear! — it also kind of makes someone else’s accomplishments about you, and I just thought that was sort of interesting. I want to find other, better ways to communicate the same feeling.

I’m working on worrying less about the specifics of the future and instead having faith in the bigger picture of what’s to come.

Did you miss last week’s announcement about the March giveaway? 

There’s still time to enter… and you should, because Hannah Howard‘s Feast is better and better with every. single. page.

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I want you all to have a chance to win a copy of your very own! The details about the the book (which happens to be Hannah’s debut) are available here, and all you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner this coming Friday 3/30, so don’t miss your chance to enter ASAP!

And finally…

Some of you tuned in last week for Brittney and my free webinar. It was so great to have you! We had about 50 people register and Brittney and I loved the opportunity to share the basics of storytelling as it relates to PR and getting media mentions for small businesses and side hustles. GREAT NEWS! We have another free webinar planned for TOMORROW, Wednesday 3/28 at 8 p.m. EST. Part two of the series is called Partnering for Press: Why You Need to Cultivate Authentic Relationships with Journalists + How to Get Started and you can register (for free!) right here for more helpful PR tips and for a peek behind the freelancer/entrepreneur curtain. Can’t wait to see you there!

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march giveaway.

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m lucky enough to be coming to you from Chicago this morning. I flew out of snowy New York City late yesterday afternoon  and am so excited to spend the next few days hanging out with two of my very best friends. The three of us live in different cities — New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. — and we’ve tried to make a better effort over the last few months to get together for these girls’ weekends on a regular basis. It’s a great excuse to get away for a weekend, too, and I secretly love the way it feels to do a little solo plane travel. Matt’s actually coming to Chicago later tonight because we have another set of friends celebrating their upcoming wedding here tomorrow. He’ll be able to snag some QT with one of his best college pals while I’m with the girls, and we’ll meet up for the couples’ shower. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly!

In the meantime, though, it’s GIVEAWAY DAY… and I couldn’t be more excited to share this month’s prize with you. 

For the first time ever, I’ve teamed up with  an author for the March giveaway. How cool is that? Meet Hannah Howard.

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Hannah and I met at the very beginning of my freelance journey when we both took a Freelance Bootcamp class at the Brooklyn Brainery. At that point, Hannah had recently sold her debut book to a publisher, and although I was having some serious writer FOMO at that point (guilty!), I was so intrigued by the premise of her memoir that I got over it pretty quickly. I was so excited when Hannah reached out a few weeks ago with the opportunity to work together to share Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen with my blog community. Thank you so much, Hannah!

Many of you already know that a healthy relationship with food hasn’t always come easily to me personally, and since Feast (just out this month!) shares the story of Hannah’s own journey to find self-acceptance in spite of her disordered eating — all while exploring the unique and colorful food scene of New York City — I knew even before cracking the cover that it would be right up my alley. I started reading the book on the flight yesterday, and before I knew it, I was 100 pages in. Hannah’s writing is absolutely stunning. I love the way she describes food and the city that I love, and her reflections on how we feel about ourselves as we grow up (just wait until you read about middle school!) are wildly relatable.

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Even if your relationship with food has never crossed the threshold to disordered, you surely have had other moments of self-doubt, and Hannah’s narrative will really resonate with you at that level. Plus, her writing is beautiful and offers a fascinating peek into the NYC food scene.

Here’s a quick summary:

Hannah Howard is a Columbia University freshman when she lands a hostess job at Picholine, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Manhattan. Eighteen years old and eager to learn, she’s invigorated by the manic energy and knife-sharp focus of the crew. By day Hannah explores the Columbia arts scene, struggling to find her place. By night she’s intoxicated by boxes of heady truffles and intrigued by the food industry’s insiders. She’s hungry for knowledge, success, and love, but she’s also ravenous because she hasn’t eaten more than yogurt and coffee in days.

Hannah is hiding an eating disorder. The excruciatingly late nights, demanding chefs, bad boyfriends, and destructive obsessions have left a void inside her that she can’t fill. To reconcile her relationships with the food she worships and a body she struggles to accept, Hannah’s going to have to learn to nourish her soul.

The winner of this month’s giveaway will receive their very own copy of Feast! So cool, right?

All you have to do to enter to win this giveaway is COMMENT on this post! I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Friday 3/30. The winner will be announced right here on the blog.

(Unfortunately, you’re not eligible to win this contest if you live outside of North America, due to shipping concerns. I’m sorry about that!)

… and if, as you’re typing in your own comment, you feel so inspired, I’d love for you to pass the giveaway along to a food- or book-loving friend who might also be interested in entering. Grab that URL at the top of your screen and text it to a loved one or share it on social media. It means so much to me to able to share Finding Plan A with more and more people — and I would be all the more excited to have more eyes on this post in particular, since it will allow us to help Hannah get the word out about Feast!

Happy commenting! And happy weekending! 

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real talk #4.

Hi friends! Welcome to Tuesday! I, for one, am feeling like a million bucks after finally getting a solid night of sleep post-three straight days of pretty frustrating insomnia. It’s amazing what a little rest can do for your spirit!

We spent the weekend celebrating Matt’s return from London, which mostly involved drinking mimosas and ensuring that he beat jet lag (AKA me waking him up every time he fell asleep at a weird time on the couch). I also spent Sunday afternoon with some friends at The Wing — my new favorite place — working on some fun projects and catching up on life.

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My only complaint about the weekend? This weather! What is going on? Today is supposed to be the first day of spring, and the end of winter couldn’t seem farther away at the moment.

It’s been a while since I checked in with some Real Talk, and the last one was pretty intense, so I thought I’d go ahead and get real with a few embarrassing and hopelessly honest confessions from the last few weeks…

  • For the first time in my work-from-home life to date, I snuck a few spoonfuls of ice cream in the middle of the day. It was cookie dough and it was Friday. Beyond that, I have no explanation.
  • Sometimes, I fantasize about a genie showing up in my office and offering to grant me a single wish, because I’d quite simply ask him (or her!) to help me figure out how to better manage my emails. I know, I know — it’s the lamest wish ever, but I kind of dream about it, especially in that last flood of messages that seems to come through near the end of every afternoon.
  • We’ve been stocking Reese’s chocolate peanut butter Easter eggs in the freezer since the day after Valentine’s Day.
  • Sometimes, I doodle in my notebooks when I’m on a phone interview. I’m still totally paying attention, of course, but I have lots of great art to show for those hours, too.
  • I’ve cried during every episode of the American Idol reboot so far.
  • Bachelor Nation might be my favorite book of the year so far, in spite of the fact that I’ve read a lot of highly-acclaimed historical fiction and literary fiction. Hey, we like what we like.
  • I immediately delete any email in which my name is spelled incorrectly. Like, immediately. Without even opening it.
  • When things feel frustrating here in the home office, I typically turn to Broadway soundtracks. Recently, I’ve worked my way through Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof, and Waitress. Repeatedly.
  • Lately, I’ve found myself feeling a lot of jealousy toward other writers. Before I started working for myself, I think I assumed that these kinds of comparisons would go away as soon as I was laser-focused on my own work exclusively, instead of seeing what other people were doing in their cubicles. If only that were the truth!

Do you have any “real talk”-style confessions you’d like to share? Fill me in by dropping a comment below?

And don’t forget…

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TONIGHT, Brittney Lynn and I are hosting a free webinar called Partnering for Press: How to Find + Share the Story of Your Business. We’ll be getting started at 8 pm EST and I’d love to see the Finding Plan A community representing! The webinar will be a great opportunity to learn more about the businesses of both PR and journalism and to pick up some tips on how to grab publicity for a side hustle you’re working on or a small biz you represent. Check out the details and register right HERE!

I’ll see you back here later this week for GIVEAWAY DAY! 

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imposter syndrome + the big picture.

Over the past few days, I’ve spent a lot of time talking with other writers — all kinds of writers: writers who haven’t been paid for their work yet but who know they have a passion for the practice and want to figure out how to make a living at it, writers who are in the freelance game like me, writers who have finished real books (insert so-impressed-jaw-is-dropped face here). I didn’t plan for all of these meetings to happen over the course of the same week, but they did, and in addition to filling my heart with all kinds of joy and appreciation for other people who do what I do (and leaving me with a bit of a scratchy throat), this coincidence of timing has gotten me thinking a lot about the journey that I’ve been on figuring out how this new career that I’ve made for myself is supposed to look. Lately, I’ve been working so fast and with my head so. down. that it’s been a while since I really thought about the big picture.

Let me tell you something that you might have already guessed…

When I first started this blog in September 2016, it was because I honestly had no idea what was about to happen with my life or how I was going to spend my time. 

I knew that I wanted to be a writer, and I had a vague picture in my head of what a writer’s day would look like. I pictured myself toting my laptop around Brooklyn, posting up at various coffee shops, always casually and comfortably hipster chic in a loose sundress — or a loose sundress with a chunky sweater and tights, for winter. I’d learn to enjoy the taste of coffee and drink three or four cups a day, mostly because the people who worked at said coffee shops would learn to know and love me so well that they would offer free refills without a second thought. I’d crank out content for magazines and Web sites and maybe a few corporate clients here and there, but being in the constant flow of writing would also make it suddenly easy for me to finish the novel I’ve dreamed of writing since I was seven years old.

I knew that this wasn’t my reality in September 2016, and I knew it was going to take a lot of work to get there (which hopefully makes it sound a little less silly), but the best thing that I could think to do in the meantime was start a blog — and to use that blog to share with a few people the journey of actually achieving that writer lifestyle fantasy. I also knew that having a blog would give me an advantage when it came time to reach out to editors who would surely need to check out samples of my writing before they could agree to work with me. I didn’t set out to be a Blogger-with-a-capital-B, and it felt awkward when I started putting links to new posts on social media. There are still days when it feels awkward putting myself out there like that, but this blog has evolved with me over the last year and a half, and I’m so grateful for the community that’s built up here in that time.

In some ways, my life looks a little like the fantasy I had — but in a lot more ways, it doesn’t. I do occasionally tote my laptop to coffee shops in my neighborhood, but most of the time, I just feel anxious about whether or not I’ve spent enough on snacks and drinks to deserve a table.. and since I still don’t like coffee, my options are limited, anyway. I can rock the sundress or chunky sweater look after a meeting, but more often than not, I show up wearing gym clothes and sneakers. I most certainly crank out content for magazines and Web sites and the occasional corporate client, but being in the constant flow of writing sometimes makes me feel so creatively tapped out that I go for a few weeks at a time without even touching my novel.

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Positively cheesing with my first official byline last fall.

I say all of this not to somehow show that going this route has proven to be less glamorous than expected or to prove that working for yourself is harder than it looks. Even with the ups and downs — and the minimal glamour — I have a genuine appreciation for the way my days look now because it’s taken me a long time to get here. I feel pretty comfortable owning the fact that I’m a Writer-with-a-capital-W, even if some days I can’t help but wonder if real writers would wear the same sweatshirt for three days in a row.

But let me tell you about something else that has happened, something that I didn’t expect.

As I’ve grown into myself as a writer, I’ve also been so inspired by the social media and solopreneur communities that I’ve found myself trying to diversify my workload even further. I’m working toward launching a podcast this summer, I’m building an awesome PR/journalism education program with my friend Brittney, and I’m even feeling added pressure to turn myself into a Blogger-with-a-capital-B. It’s in these spaces that I find myself feeling insecure again. If I’ve already “found plan A,” should I keep showing up here? And if I’m “just” a writer (even one with a capital W), will people think I’m stepping out in a way that’s inappropriate or irrelevant when I put myself out there in new places with projects that have nothing to do — in an official capacity, at least — with my work?

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Things get real with a podcast when the microphone arrives.

I guess the answer is that I don’t know. And I’m sharing all of this with you not to imply that I’m right and other people are wrong or to make you feel sorry for me, but because I think it’s important to pull back the curtain a bit and show that imposter syndrome is still a thing over here, and that I’m still not quite sure where I’m going to land as the big picture keeps getting bigger and bigger. In that way, I guess I haven’t totally “found Plan A” yet, so I hope you’ll keep sticking with me while I do : )

In the meantime, I’m so excited to share one of my latest new ventures with you! (Cue imposter syndrome…. now.) I’ve been teasing to my new venture with Brittney Lynn for a few weeks now, and it’s finally time to reveal the details of Partnering for Press. We’re launching a series of three free Webinars all about the intersection of PR and journalism, so if you want to learn more about what I do or have a secret side hustle that you’re dying to get out in the world, I would love, love, love for you to tune into the first chapter, which will be live on Tuesday 3/20 at 8 pm EST. It’s free, so you have absolutely nothing to lose, and you may even decide to stick around for the rest of the series!

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You can register (for FREE!) right here. If you have aspiring writers or entrepreneurs in your life, I’d be so grateful if you could share the details with them, too!

 

 

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follow friday: feeds i’m loving.

Happy Friday, friends!

I’m spending this weekend back home in Pennsylvania with my family, celebrating my sister’s high school musical! We’ve been going to these shows for years, and it’s hard to believe that the youngest of my sisters is now a junior. There are only so many more musicals featuring one of our own left for us to see, so I’m trying to soak up every one of them.

I thought I’d kick off the weekend with something fun and a little different. In the spirit of the #FollowFriday movement on Instagram, I’m sharing with you some of the feeds that I’ve been especially digging lately. Keep scrolling to check them out for yourself!

Also, if you’re planning to pop in your earbuds at some point this weekend and are looking for something fun to listen to, check out my interview with The Real Female Entrepreneur Podcast right here (or on your podcast streaming platform of choice)! The episode just went live on Wednesday — perfectly timed pre-International Women’s Day — and while I was nervous to share yet another super real part of my story with all of you (swearing and all… oops!), it was great to have the chance to dig a little deeper with Lauren about the insecurities that came with leaving my corporate job, the lessons I learned about my relationship throughout that journey, and what it meant to me to ultimately be able to match as a full-time writer the income that I had been so afraid to leave behind back when I made the leap. Happy listening!

And now, on to #FollowFriday… and a chance to celebrate social media in its most positive, uplifting forms! 

Do you guys ever feel like the weirdest person that was ever born? 🙋🏼‍♀️ … Do you ever feel like you’re moving + grooving and fitting in with the “cool” kids only to realize that you’re actually a total + utter weirdo? … That you’re the only one who thinks that hilarious cat gif was *that* hilarious…or like the posts you write never sound quite right…or like the big sparkly dreams that get you all heart eyes makes no sense to the people in your life? 🤓 … Oiy…sister…been there, (still) sportin the t-shirt. 🤡 … But here’s what I’ve picked up along the way…it turns out, we A L L feel like the weird one…and when we unite our weirdness + appreciate each other’s awkward-factor we feel more united than we do different. 👯‍♀️ … So today’s message is a salute to all of my fellow weirdos. 👩🏻‍🎤 To the ones who laugh at the jokes no one else does, to the ones willing to pick up the mic, share their insides on the outside while rocking what feels right over what will get the likes. …. The world needs (y)our weird, my love. 💞 … Comment below with what leaning in to your weird looks like IRL 😻 . . . 📸 by @laurenbodwell . . . . . . . . . #entrepreneurship #entrepreneurlifestyle #entrepreneurlife #entrepreneursofinstagram #thehappynow #livethelittlethings #meetthemoment #nothingisordinary #abeautifulmess #beingaleader #creativepreneur #bedeeplyrooted #pursuewhatislovely #becomingirresistible #creativeentrepreneur #createcultivate #bloomyellow #theeverygirl #flashesofdelight #savvybusinessowner #thenativecreative #thedulcetlife #businesscoach #successcoach #femaleambition #financialfreedom #everywomancan #mumcoach #flexibleworking #motivation

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In case you didn't know, in addition to running a PR business where I help entrepreneurs get more press for their business, I'm also the host of the @dayinthelifepodcast. . What started as a passion project has now turned into a way for me to interview the most interesting and impactful people in the world. . Recent episodes include: 💜a former Lutheran pastor where we discuss his thoughts on gay couples and Christianity 💜@BuzzFeed Lifestyle Editor @the_rewm (I've been following her for 9 years…insane!) 💜Health & Wellness Coach @homebodysoul on the pressure to be "healthy" all of the time 💜Former NFL Coach @coachdkr on making big career changes & setting boundaries. . There's so much more goodness coming out of the podcast this year. Would love to have you listening and if you already tune in, would love it if you left a comment below and told me your fav episode! . . . #ditl #ditlpodcast #dayinthelife #podcast #shepodcasts #podcasting #podcasters #podcaster #podcastersofinstagram #savvybusinessowners #mycreativebiz #thesavvycommunity #beingboss #thatsdarling #theeverygirl #risingtidesociety #entrepreneur #womeninbiz #womeninbusiness #onewomanshop #onewomanshoplife #creativepreneur #bloguettes #womenentrepreneur #dallas #dallastx #dallasblogger #entrepreneurlife #entrepreneurmindset #solopreneur

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What feeds are you loving lately? Tell me more in the comments below! 

 

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monthly goals recap -> february + march.

Another month down, and another list of goals (mostly) tackled! There’s a lot to dig into here, so I’m just going to jump in with the briefest of shoutouts to my Passion Planner and Powersheets, which are continuing to keep me on track in 2018.

January was pretty much a home run in terms of checking off monthly goals (read more about that here!), and I can’t quite say the same for February. As frustrating as it was at times, I kept reminding myself that it was a short month — those three days we lost are the equivalent of 10 percent of any other month! — and that I deserved a little slack over the days when I was sick and traveling.

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Monthly, weekly, and daily progress bars from my February Powersheets.

Here’s how it panned out:

  • Dive into brainstorming and planning the podcast. √ YES! I’m pretty late to the party with organizational and work flow systems, but I spent a lot of time in February playing with Asana and using it to build a lot of potential content for the show. I’ve also mapped out a pre-launch schedule, narrowed down to a short list of titles, and put a tentative launch date on the calendar — June 26.
  • Successfully launch next collaboration with Brittney Lynn. Because of some scheduling issues, Brittney and I decided to push the launch of our next collaboration (remember our free webinar?) back by a few weeks. That being said, we made good progress in February, and I’m excited to share more with you soon!
  • Stop checking Instagram first thing in the morning. √ YES! I kept this up through February, and I’m so glad I did. You can read more about how I’ve been working on my phone boundaries here.
  • Pitch to at least one of the outlets on my target list for 2018. √ YES! I’ve used a lot of different metrics to measure my pitching success over the last year, and I think this is my favorite. Focusing on this goal from month to month is a great way to stay focused on the big picture so I’m not getting stuck in a writing rut.
  • Save Fridays for big pitches and passion projects. Thanks to some travel and weekend visitors we had in February (such fun things!), I didn’t get to be as disciplined about this in February as I was in January, but I did work exclusively on pitching and passion projects every Friday that I was in the office.
  • Read three books. √ YES! Last month, I read The Immortalists (one of my favorites of the year so far, and a perfect read for fans of The Interestings and Emma Straub), Tell Me More (a really interesting memoir/essays hybrid all about the things that are the hardest — and arguably most important — to say), and Sing, Unburied, Sing (which felt a little too literary for my personal taste, but was beautifully written and will definitely be a classic for decades to come).
  • “Feel-good food.” √ YES! There were a few weekend days when I felt like I didn’t make the best possible choices, but doesn’t that happen to all of us? Overall, I think I did a much better job of balancing healthy eating with sweet tooth indulgences in February.
  • Work on the book three to four days a week, every week. Honestly, I lost some momentum here last month. I hate to make excuses for it, so I’ll just admit that I’ve been feeling a little uninspired and also insanely busy with paid work and own the fact that I’ve gotta get back on that train!
  • Take a day off. I can’t give myself full credit here, because although I took one afternoon off for our trip to Charlotte and another to spend time with my best friend who was in New York for a weekend, I didn’t officially set aside a free day for myself to do nothing. Those afternoons off were super fun, but I think there needs to be some intentionality for something to count as the true day off that I need.

And now… on to March! In February, I found myself in a kind of survival mode with work. I was hyper-focusing on smaller assignments, which I think killed some of my creativity and brought down the energy level I had at the beginning of the year around bigger projects. Overall, I’m hoping to take a bigger picture look at things in March so that I can invest time and effort in a wider diversity of things without burning out.

Here are a few specifics:

  • Successfully launch next collaboration with Brittney Lynn. You’ll hear more about this very soon! I can’t wait to see our hard work come to fruition. (Also, I’m finally meeting Brittney in real life at a conference we signed up for in April, and I am borderline freaking out about the fact that we’re going to be in the same place for a whole weekend! She and I were totally meant to find each other in this crazy blogging and social media world.)
  • Start buying podcasting equipment. It’s really happening!
  • Finalize podcast title and start working on art/logo. Like I said… it’s really happening!
  • Share draft pages. This is a really scary one for me to put out in the world. One of my goals for this month is to actually let someone read the chapters of my book that I’ve already written. Friends, just typing that out makes me nervous! Even Matt hasn’t read any of my pages before! As stressful as it feels to open this kind of more personal work up to other people, I know that doing so is going to be a really important part of this process — and I’m hoping that it will really inspire me to pick back up on some of that writing momentum that I lost in February.

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  • Refocus on Pinterest. I’ve been reading a lot lately about how Pinterest can be a really important strategy for growing a business — and I also really miss pinning things for my personal life. I want to start using the platform again, and doing some research about how I can put it to use for the blog and podcast, too.
  • Pitch to at least one of the outlets on my target list for 2018. Like I said, I’m loving this as a monthly goal.
  • Read three books. : )
  • Take a day off. I’m moving this one over from February, and hoping I can be a little more intentional about it in March.
  • Taxes. Ugh. I know we’re all in the same boat on this one! Taxes will be interesting for us this year since it’s the first time we’ll be looking at a full year of freelance income from me. We are drowning in documents over here.
  • Work on the book three days a week, every week. Just because I lost a little momentum last month doesn’t mean I can’t pick it up again!
  • Save Fridays for big pitches and passion projects. Our March weekends are a little crazy, but I’m still hoping to make this part of my regular routine. With my focus on bigger, more diverse projects in the weeks ahead, I’m going to need that dedicated time.
  • Find time once a week to write just for meNot for the book and not for my clients — just for me! I think this is going to be really big in helping me stay inspired and creative in all the other work I’m doing.

What are your goals for March? Tell me more in the comments below!

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february giveaway winner announced!

Happy Friday, everyone!

The weekend plans in this house consist of mostly sleep, sleep, and more sleep. Somehow, I managed to fall wildly behind with work after just one full day off for our Charlotte trip (how does that even happen?), so I’ve been working 12 and 13 hour days all week to make up for it. I’m seriously ready for some down time! There are a few hours left between me and that precious weekend and you can bet that I’m in full-on countdown mode.

In the meantime, though, it’s time to announce the winner of this month’s giveaway! We had a record number of entries in February, so thanks to everyone who entered and shared it with their friends and family, too. Don’t forget to keep checking in for monthly giveaways (and other great posts, too!) — they go live on the 23rd of every month! The winner is selected based on a random drawing.

The winner of this month’s prize — a $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble — is….

Tamara H!

Congratulations, Tamara! I’ll be emailing you your prize shortly!

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What is everyone doing this weekend? I’d love to hear more about your plans in the comments below!

 

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weekend in charlotte.

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and that your week is off to a great start, too. We’ve been back from our little southern getaway for a few days now, and I’m excited to share some of the details!

First of all, if you’re planning a trip to Charlotte any time soon, I would highly recommend the Airbnb we stayed in. It was walkable to lots of bars and restaurants (although we learned that most people don’t walk as many places as New Yorkers do — oops!) and a 15-minute-or-less drive to pretty much anywhere else we wanted to go, from the center of the city to cool neighborhoods like NoDa (my personal favorite). Honestly, the space was more than we knew what to do with — we had two bedrooms and two bathrooms — but since we’re used to living in such a small apartment, getting to spread out a little bit was really part of the vacation! You could easily fit six or eight people in this Airbnb, and Matt and I agreed that if you have plans to visit Charlotte for a football game or something similar, it would be absolutely perfect, especially since it had an awesome front porch that would be great for a little pre-game beer and snacks : )

We snapped this pic in the living room of our Airbnb, actually! I’d hoped for more photo ops during our visit and that didn’t quite pan out, so I insisted on a selfie before our last dinner out.

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Here are a few more highlights of our trip!

(Fair Warning: Most of them involve food. Hey — we were just trying to get a feel for the culture of the city! And isn’t food love in the south?)

  • Driving through the Dilworth neighborhood and eyeing up all the beautiful old houses from the car. It’s basically everything you ever imagined that a beautiful Southern city could offer.
  • Exploring NoDa and brunch at the Crepe CellarNoDa was the closest thing to Brooklyn that I saw while we were visiting Charlotte — funky artists selling their work on the sidewalks, cool paintings on the building facades, funky stores, and cool bars. A friend recommended Crepe Cellar to us for brunch and the four cheese savory crepe I had there may have been my favorite bite of the trip. We also stopped by Amélie’s French Bakery & Cafe to get Matt his coffee fix — another suggestion from a friend!
  • Reading and relaxing in Freedom Park. So much of what we enjoyed about our weekend getaway was the weather. After a long few months of cold temperatures here in New York City, it was such a treat to enjoy a little sunshine and 75-degree air! We grabbed our books and spent a few hours on a bench reading.
  • A night out in downtown Charlotte, starting with dinner at Sea LevelWe ate dinner outside (did I mention that warm weather?) and tried oyster shooters for the first time (yum!). After that, we took a little field trip to the Howl at the Moon piano bar because we thought it would be fun to listen to some live music, and we got way more than we bargained for. If you follow my Instagram Stories you know exactly what I’m talking about… there was a banana-themed citywide bar crawl happening all across town, and we spent the evening watching hundreds of people in banana suits belting out the oldies on stage. It was amazing.
  • Breakfast at Sunflour Baking CompanyThe multigrain bread I ordered with my breakfast sandwich was quite possibly the best bread I’ve ever tasted. And Matt is still talking about the fact that he didn’t get to go back here to try a chocolate chip cookie!
  • Checking out the U.S. National Whitewater CenterGiven the timing of our visit, I’m not sure that we saw this landmark at its best, but I can imagine that it would be an awesome place to explore in the late spring and early summer. You can buy a day pass and have free reign of all of their adventure activities and ropes courses, and they also have a beer garden smack in the middle of it all.
  • Getting a great deal on a denim jacket at the Gap outlet store. I don’t usually like to shop on vacation, but we had some rain on Sunday afternoon and decided to check out the Charlotte Premium Outlets on our way back from the Whitewater Center. By the end of last summer, I’d more or less worn out my trusty old denim jacket, and I found a new one for $40.
  • A feast on our final night! I had one of the best Italian meals of my entire life at Fiamma restaurant (hands down!) and we — of course— made an ice cream stop at Golden Cow Creamery. Did you really think we’d last a weekend in another city without checking out the ice cream scene?
  • Trying the steamed bagel sandwiches at Owen’s Bagel & DeliI have a blog reader to thank for this one (thanks, Victoria!). I can’t quite explain why these steamed sandwiches were so much different than other bagel sammies I’ve had in the past… but they were really different and really good.
  • Getting through the Charlotte airport so. fast. I know this sounds a little silly, but I can’t say enough about how easy it was to travel through this airport. At the last minute, we decided to switch our tickets onto an earlier flight, and we made it from the rental car dropoff through to our gate in 25 minutes flat.

Thanks for letting me share the highlights of our trip with you!

One more thing…

Don’t forget to enter the February giveaway! This month’s winner will take home a $30 gift card to Barnes & NobleAll you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post (linked here!). I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner this coming Friday 3/2, so don’t miss your chance to enter ASAP!

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february giveaway.

Friends, you did it. You made it to Friday!

This afternoon, Matt and I are leaving for our spring getaway weekend — and not a minute too soon, either, because after all of the warm temperatures we had here in New York City earlier this week (I was almost too hot in a light sweatshirt!), we’re looking at a colder, rainier forecast for the weekend. For a few days there, I was worried it would be colder in Charlotte than it is here, and that would have pretty much defeated the whole purpose of this southern adventure! Anyway, I’m really excited to get a change of scenery and to enjoy the kind of down time you can only get when you’re removed from your usual routine and environment. I can’t wait to tell you all about it when we get back!

In the meantime, though, it’s GIVEAWAY DAY, which means that it’s all about you and showing my gratitude for your continued support.

The February giveaway prize is a $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

This is pretty much the prize of my dreams, and I hope you’re as excited about it as I am. A $30 gift card should be enough to get you a hardcover or two paperbacks. If you’re the lucky winner, I’m happy to give you some recommendations!

All you have to do to enter to win this giveaway is COMMENT on this post! I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Friday 3/2. The winner will be announced right here on the blog. Good luck!

As you’re getting ready to type those comments below, can I just ask you for one quick favor? Just one? I promise it will be really easy!

If Finding Plan A has resonated with you and you love reading the content and entering the giveaways, could you please grab the URL up at the top of your screen and pop it in an email or text to one of your loved ones? Give them the opportunity to enter for the Barnes & Noble giveaway and to be part of this awesome community! The more we can share, the better. It would really mean the world to me if we could work together to get the word out, friends!

Have a great weekend! xo

 

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gratitude diaries #9.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I typically don’t like to wait until Hump Day to make an appearance in this special space, but after a round of what I thought might be the flu over the weekend (don’t worry! false alarm!) and the quasi-day off that followed as I recovered and had Matt home with me for President’s Day, I’m feeling ever so slightly off my normal schedule right about now.

We’re also just 48 hours away from our weekend trip to Charlotte! I haven’t really spent any time there (except in the airport, of course), so if you have any recommendations for things to see and do, please feel free to share them in the comments below. We don’t have a lot of plans at the moment, and if it stays that way, I might not even mind! I’m just looking forward to exploring a new city, enjoying some warmer weather (and the spring wardrobe that comes with it!), having some good meals, and getting in some quality time with Matt. Charlotte is such an easy and inexpensive flight from New York City, so it’s the perfect destination for a mini getaway to help us get through this last stretch of winter. I’ll definitely be documenting our adventures on Instagram, and I’ll be excited to share some photos of our trip when I get back, too!

In the meantime, I think I’m a little overdue for a quick round of Gratitude Diaries (check out my last entry here). Here are a few things I’ve been especially thankful for these days:

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  • The Olympics, because I never get tired of watching skiing and snowboarding and figure skating (especially figure skating). I was particularly grateful for the Games this past weekend when I was feeling too crummy to read or leave the couch.
  • Warmer weather, because even though I’m pretty sure that the crazy jumps in temperature are to blame for my being sick in the first place, it’s pretty amazing to be able to leave the apartment without my heavy coat even for one day. Don’t worry, fellow Northeasterners — I’m fully prepared for the inevitable cold front to come and am under no illusions that spring is actually here for good.

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  • The “Here to Make Friends” podcast, because it’s making this already hilarious season of The Bachelor that much more hilarious… and is also great company for riding the subway.
  • Trader Joe’s Cocoa Almond Spread, because, well, just buy it. And eat it by the spoonful for dessert. And get back to me.
  • Running, because for the first time in a few years, I’m feeling really healthy as I finish up the first few weeks of my training program for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and it’s a great reminder of why I love doing it in the first place. It doesn’t hurt that I’m binge watching The O.C while I’m on the treadmill, but that’s neither here nor there.
  • Wonton soup, because it’s the ultimate fix for any sickness. On Saturday, I ordered two quarts from our local Chinese restaurant, and it lasted me through the rest of the weekend.
  • Haircuts, because even if you only get a trim (and I was seriously tempted to do a major chop last week), it can sometimes be exactly the ego boost you need! If you live in New York City, I totally recommend Jade at Sam Brocato Salon. She really talked me through a hair identity crisis last week, and she did an awesome job, too.

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  • Quiet time at night, because ever since Matt started doing work at home in the evenings, we’ve been forced to turn off the TV (except, occasionally, the Olympics) after dinner, and I’ve loved all the extra reading time! I’ve been blowing through books recently.

What are you grateful for lately? I’d love to hear more in the comments below : )

And be sure to come right back here on Friday to enter the February giveaway! I’d hate for you to miss out! 

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