big news

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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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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the SSR Podcast is live!

It’s a crazy experience to have your head down so intensely in a passion project for months on end, and then to release it out into the universe in a way that probably feels very loud (and maybe even a little annoying) to the outside world but somehow seems very quiet to you, at least relative to how much louder it actually sounds in your head. Basically, when I dispatched all the social media announcing that The SSR Podcast was a living, breathing thing at about 5 AM yesterday morning, it may have felt a little spammy from an Instagram perspective… but it seemed surprisingly quiet and private for me — and not because I’m not getting support (because I am, and it’s been amazing!), but because I’ve been so consumed with getting all of this up and running that it was hard to believe that tapping those little “post” buttons was really all it took to make it happen. After so many hours, hitting “post” was the last thing standing between me and the moment I’d been stressing about? It was a pretty crazy feeling.

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Believe me — I still have plenty of work to do in order to really get things moving and grooving the way I want to for the podcast. But to have met this one major milestone in what felt like such a quick, quiet way was an extremely weird feeling.

You may already be tuned in to SSR’s social media accounts — and if you are, thank you, seriously! — but I just wanted to take a quick moment to share some easy links for my followers here who may have yet to jump on the SSR train. If you’re feeling like I’m being a little spammy, bear with me for just a little longer here, please. Getting the podcast off the ground has been a huge part of my journey in 2018 so far, and it would be weird if I wasn’t getting the official launch news out with all my pals here on the blog! I’ll resume regularly scheduled programming shortly, I promise : )

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about yesterday’s official launch of The SSR Podcast

You can listen (and subscribe and leave reviews!) here…

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  • iTunes — if you’re going to subscribe and leave a rating or review, this is a great place to do it!
  • Google Play
  • Stitcher
  • the SSR Podcast website “Listen” page (this is a great place to go for fun show notes and extra resources, even if you actually listen to episodes elsewhere)

You can be part of The SSR Podcast community here…

I can’t wait to get your feedback on the show, and if you enjoy it, I hope you’ll share it with your loved ones! This feels more personal than anything I’ve done before — more even than the blog, which is kind of crazy — and inviting people into it is scary, but I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me : )

And while I’m talking about sharing with loved ones…

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Don’t forget to enter this month’s giveaway! TWO of you will be getting a goodie bag full of all-natural lip balms from Bushel & a Peck (a woman-owned business YAAAAS!). Comment on my last post here to enter! I’ll be randomly drawing the winners this coming Friday 6/29, so get those entries in ASAP. I’ll announce the winner 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! Good luck!

Product photo credit: Gallivan Photo (via Bushel & a Peck) 

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introducing… the SSR podcast!

*takes a deep breath, pushes her shoulders back, tries not to panic at the thought of putting this thing that she’s been working on for months out into the world*

**… but is mostly just so excited**

Friends, meet my podcast…

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(You have no idea how many times I’ve looked at this awesome logo — designed by the one and only Sophie Forman — thinking about how great it would be when I could finally share it. And now I can!)

Inspired by a little something called Silent Sustained Reading that was a staple of my elementary school days (you may have known it as “Sit Down, Shut Up, and Read!”), the show is called SSR: Literary Throwbacks Revisited. For an added punch, the show’s not-so-secret alternate title is Sh*t She Read, a nod to the fact that, each week, I’ll chat with a guest about a book that we millennials would have read in our tweens and teens. 

In the first few episodes, we’ll discuss Harriet the SpyThe Princess Diaries, and Matilda… and the list goes on and gets more awesome from there. I honestly can’t tell you how wonderful it’s been to revisit these books and to talk about them with each guest. These conversations have been so interesting and hilarious, and I am counting the minutes until June 26 when you can start listening to them.

You read that right. The launch is still a month away. So what can you do in the meantime? Well, in super fun news, the SSR Podcast social media starts to roll out today! Follow the show on Instagram here so you can take a peek at what this process has looked like so far and stay in the loop about new episodes come June. In the next few weeks, I’ll roll out our Twitter, as well as a Facebook group that will serve as a great place for book talk and (hopefully) a community for podcast fans. More on that to come!

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If you’re already feeling like you’re going to be an SSR Podcast superfan (because, duh), I’d love to have you join the launch team. I’ll send you a set of these crazy cute SSR bookmarks so you can start talking about the show to friends and family, and as we get closer to the launch date, I’ll provide you with plenty of social media graphics so you can help me get the word out within your own networks. If you’re interested in being part of this, please let me know with a comment below or send an email to hellossrpod@gmail.com.

It’s hard for me to put into words how much this project means to me and how excited I am to bring this podcast into existence.

As you probably know by now, books mean the world to me. They’re connected to so many of my own life experiences. In preparing to start SSR, I’ve found that even people who aren’t big readers as adults have intense memories associated with the stories they read during their childhood, and I can’t wait to create a platform where we can share those memories. And laugh. A lot.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, friends! Thanks for being part of this dream with me!

(… AND while we’re on the subject of books, don’t forget to enter to win this month’s giveaway! The prize is a $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Pick up the book that’s at the top of your summer reading list, or grab a copy of Harriet the Spy or The Princess Diaries so you’re up to speed for the podcast launch on June 26! All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post here. I’ll announce the winner right here on the blog next Wednesday 5/30. Good luck!)

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pre-summit feels.

I didn’t become a work-from-home-ing freelancer because I like spending time alone, but I can’t say that spending more time alone didn’t seriously appeal to my introvert soul when I decided to do it. I’m lucky to have met some of my best friends when I was working in my corporate job, but I knew back then that I would become an even better friend to them once I was able to transition our relationships out of our cubicles — especially when it became clear that I was no longer a great fit for those cubicles.

These days, I’m admittedly alone a lot. I’m in constant contact with plenty of editors and sources and I have face-to-face meetings with people a few times a week, but there are days that I don’t actually interact with another human being until Matt gets home from work. Working from home is most definitely not for social butterflies, my friends, but most of the time, the quiet doesn’t bother me. I’ve always been pretty content doing things on my own, and thanks to the magic of texting, Gchat, and social media, I’m never far from a friend : )

The fact that I spend so much of my time alone makes it that much of a bigger deal that…

I’m leaving for a summit today.

Yup, a summit. Like, the kind where there a lot of people. And icebreakers. And the possibility that I might be expected to share parts of my story with total strangers. 

(Even before I was a constantly-alone writer type, that whole “sharing with strangers” thing wasn’t really for me.)

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I know from my fellow creatives and solopreneurs that there’s a lot of value to gatherings like this, so when one of my biggest social media and podcasting crushes Amber Lilyestrom opened registration for her Ignite Your Soul Summit in Portsmouth, NH, I thought it would be a good place for me start putting myself out there in a new way. I texted my friend Brittney Lynn (you’ve heard me gush about her before) to see if she would be open to going, too, and within 24 hours we’d both purchased our Early Bird tickets and were planning our takeout and trash TV lineup for our nights sharing a hotel room. Brittney and I have been close since we connected through blogging and Instagram back in October, and I’m so excited to officially meet her! I feel like we already know each other so well, but I’m anxious to find out how tall she is (I know that sounds silly, but it’s one of the only things I really don’t know about her!) and have wine and sushi together.

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All of the photos that Brittney and I have together so far look like this. Definitely planning to change that this weekend!

Honestly, if not for Brittney, I’d be having all kinds of social anxiety heading into this weekend, and even with her as my friend and security blanket, I can’t help but feel a little nervous about all of this. Even a year and a half later, it’s hard for me to confidently share with people what I do (hello, imposter syndrome!), and now that I’ve added a few more projects to my plate (hello, podcast-to-be!), it’s that much more confusing. I know that if people are going to take me seriously, though, I need to take myself seriously… and if they’re going to be open to me, I need to pay that forward proactively.

I decided to take the train to minimize the stress of air travel, and I’m actually really excited to use that time to get some work done, read, and decompress as I get ready for the summit. I was an Amtrak regular back in college when Matt and I were maintaining our relationship from a few states away, so I have a weird sentimental attachment to trains, anyway.

Wish me luck! I’m sure I’ll be sharing a lot of the weekend on my Instagram stories, so tune in if you want to check it out. Even with my nerves, I feel really grateful to have the chance to experience something like this, and I’m excited to see what’s in store.

What are you up to this weekend? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

…AND don’t forget that there are still a few days left to enter the April giveaway! All you have to do to be eligible to win a Color Intense Lipstick from Beautycounter is comment on this post or this photo.. The winner can pick the shade of their choice! Be sure to get your entries in by midnight on Sunday 4/29. I’ll announce the winner right here on the blog on Monday 4/30. Good luck! 

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november giveaway winner announced!

Happy Friday, friends! Can you even believe that it’s already been more than a week since we all stuffed ourselves silly with turkey? I know I can’t.

My mom and I are currently away for a girls’ trip in Alexandria, VA. Yesterday, we explored some DC museums, did a little shopping, and saw The Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre, and today we’re planning on some spa time and (hopefully) plenty of lounging around the hotel. I’m more grateful than ever at moments like this that my mom and I both happen to work for ourselves — you can learn more about what she does here and here — because it’s nice to be able to set aside this quality time for each other while still staying plugged in and productive.

And, of course, just because I’m traveling, it doesn’t mean that this month’s giveaway winner has to wait one. more. second. to find out that she’s about to get herself TWO bracelets from The Shine Project. Congratulation, JULI! You’re the winner! I’ll reach out via email to make arrangements to send you your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and please continue to spread the word to all of your friends about these giveaways! The next one will go live right here right before Christmas.

Before I wish you a happy weekend (Matt and I are spending ours decorating the apartment for the holidays and making our second annual mini Thanksgiving dinner), there’s one more thing I want to share. I’m so excited to announce that I’m working with my friend Brittney Lynn — the mastermind behind the Day In the Life podcast, which I was lucky enough to be the guest on this past week — on a free webinar, which we’ll be hosting on Wednesday 12/6 at 8 PM EST. The webinar is called Better Together: How to Reach Out to Journalists and Get More Media Mentions, and it’s going to be a super fun and casual (but also extremely informative!) conversation about how small businesses and hustlers of all kinds can work more effectively with writers like me! Sign up to join right here.

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the new normal.

How did we already get to Tuesday? Birthday celebrations rolled on into the weekend (thanks to everyone for all of the well wishes!), and I feel like I’m just now coming down from all of the excitement…

My family came in on Saturday and I got to do one of my favorite things — show them around Brooklyn! Our borough is so chock full of amazing little corners and things to see, and I can’t help but feel like it’s a personal victory when I have a chance to let out-of-towners in on some local secrets. Saturday, we caught up over coffee on the patio at the bakery across the street from our apartment (which also happens to be my favorite work spot of late), then jumped in the car and went to Red Hook, a Brooklyn neighborhood located right on the water that’s off the beaten path of the subway. Red Hook is known for its awesome views and yummy seafood, so we had a photo shoot (the barge in the photo below says LEHIGH VALLEY, which happens to be the area of Pennsylvania where we’re from!) and then celebrated my birthday at Brooklyn Crab over crab rolls and margaritas. No birthday is complete without dessert, of course, so we finished the day at Ample Hills Creamery with a scoop of cotton candy ice cream (for me, at least).

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Before the weekend, Matt won the Husband Of The Year award (as if he doesn’t do that practically every day, anyway!) and gifted me tickets to Hamilton for my birthday. I still can’t quite put into words what it meant to me. We are ob-sessed with the show and its soundtrack in our house, and I’ve been dreaming of going to see it for months. Sunday, we capped off my birthday weekend with a matinee, and it was even better than I expected. This show is quite literally the best thing I’ve ever seen (yes, generally the best thing), and I still can’t believe I got the chance to share it with this special guy. I’ll never forget it, and it was a great way to kick off my twenty-eighth (eek!) year.

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Something I’ve been thinking about over the last few weeks as I’ve rounded the corner on some big milestones — yes, my birthday, but also the one-year anniversary of launching this blog last September — is the concept of “the new normal.” It’s a phrase that we all hear pretty often, and one that I can personally cop to using maybe a little too much. Heading into year two of Finding Plan A, I’ve been imagining what the next chapter is going to look like for the space, and I just thought I’d share some of that with you.

When I started blogging last year, I was mostly focused on flexing my writing muscles again as I prepared to transition out of my corporate job into full-time freelancing. I thought it would be a good way to keep my friends and family in the loop about what was going on in my new life, and I hoped I might be able to help people understand why I’d decided to go my own way and what it had taken to get there (if I got there at all, because at that point, I had no idea what was going to happen!). While this space has definitely served those purposes, it’s also turned into a community that’s kind and gracious and vibrant and supportive — and one that I’m excited to continue growing moving forward.

I would never claim to be “done” with the transition just because I have a full calendar year under my belt now. I haven’t “found Plan A” (LOL). I’m not starting an entirely new chapter here on the blog simply because a certain period of time has passed. This journey is still in progress, and I would never pretend to be an expert or to give up on learning and reflecting.

You will, however, notice some changes around here now that I have 365 days in the books. While I’ll still be doing goal recaps (like this one), you’ll notice that I’m going to be phasing out more general monthly progress updates (like this one). I’ll take a moment to call out major milestones, but I’ve graduated beyond those more regular recaps, and I don’t want to bore you with the details of the constant inner monologue that happens in this overanalyzing brain of mine : ) Moving forward (not including this month), I’ll also be making changes to the procedures for giveaways — so be on the lookout for that!

In the meantime, I’ve mapped out what’s happening on the blog for the full month of October, and I’m really excited about the content you’re going to see in this newly normal phase. I’m itching to get started! We’re stepping it up over here, friends, and I can’t wait to share it all with you!

… some things never change, though. Giveaways, for example, are always awesome.

Remember to enter for this month! September’s prize is my favorite skin care product EVER — Beautycounter‘s Adaptive Moisturizer. All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner on Friday 9/29, so get those entries in ASAP!

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working from PA

When I decided to become my own boss, one of the things that most excited me was — no surprise! — the ability to work anywhere.  Given how easy it is these days to work remotely, it always fascinated me that my corporate gig didn’t offer any of this flexibility.  When you’re working on a more traditional team, it’s obviously important to spend plenty of face time at the office, but many of my friends have been able to work from home or traveling offices for years (even in more corporate organizations!), so I often felt frustrated that my company wasn’t on board.

As I’ve written about before, I like to take my little show on the road to a coffee shop in the neighborhood every once in a while, but this week, I’m experimenting for the first time with working from my parents’ house in Pennsylvania.  On Saturday, we had family visiting in New York to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday and see Waitress on Broadway, and Matt and I followed them out of the city that night.  Matt had to head back to Brooklyn on Sunday, but I decided to stick around for a few extra days to see how productive I can be out here in the ‘burbs.

I am incredibly close with my family, so having the chance to spend some bonus time with them while still getting a lot of work done is more rewarding than I can describe.  It all ties into those reflections I had last week about high school, and it makes me feel a lot more like myself  🙂

Yesterday, I spent nine hours with my mom at her office, making myself comfortable in her workspace and knocking out a ton of the work I currently have on my plate.  My mom recently started working for a new company, and their offices are in an old farmhouse that is all kinds of cozy.  They even have a feline mascot named Enzo!  I’m a pretty serious animal lover, so it was fun to have Enzo nearby.

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Just another day at the office for Enzo the CFO.
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Yesterday’s office view — Mom hard at work!

Last night, I drove to the opposite end of our town to my dad’s house, and today I have the chance to work from my other home!  As I write this post, I am sitting in our TV room with a PB&J next to me and a fleece blanket at my feet, waiting for my little sisters to get home from school.  PLUS, I get to work with my dog bestie Jake in the next room.  (All in all, life would be a lot better if our workplaces ALWAYS included pets.)

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Jake, our golden oldie.

One particularly sweet part of my time in PA this week is that I got to celebrate my first official piece of published work with my family!  I can’t tell you how much it meant to FINALLY see my byline and bio posted after six weeks of hard work lining up freelance gigs.  I’m so excited to be working as a contributor for Brit + Co, and there will be a lot more content ready to share with you just around the corner!  If you want to keep track of all of my published work, you can check out my CLIPS page right here on the blog anytime.  Thanks again to all of you for your continued support.  This is a huge milestone for me in this journey and it has been fantastic to have you cheering for me!

 

Thanks also to all of the new blog subscribers from last week!  The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified via e-mail, but don’t worry — there will be plenty of other chances in the future  🙂

 

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i did it.

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but here’s the big news:

I quit my job today.

Wow.  It looks even weirder typed on the screen than it sounds when I say it out loud.

I, constantly overachieving, straight-shot-from-point-A-to-point-B Alli, have done something completely unexpected.  I’ve strayed from the path.

The truth is that, while this may seem like a surprising and plan-deflecting move, it’s really just a return to my original life track.  I was lucky enough to land an awesome internship in book publishing when I was a junior in college, but prior to that, my focus was all writing, all the time.  The publishing internship was intriguing at that time– could I really spend my life surrounded by books?  I fell completely in love with the idea, and before I knew it, it was three weeks after graduation and I was sitting on a bus bound for my first day in the Sales department at a major New York City book publisher.  Now, almost five years later, I know that I lost myself somewhere in the excitement of landing that job.  And if it means taking an unexpected turn to get back to where I want to be, then I need to make that leap.

It’s been a privilege to work where I’ve worked for the last few years.  I learned to interact with lots of different kinds of people, saw the inside of corporate America, and read hundreds of books along the way.  But, it’s important to follow your intuition (I’m a big fan of Jess Lively and her work on this subject), and to know when to take the next step to get where you really want to be.

So, here we are– at the next step!

What’s the plan?  The plan is to write, and to create.  The plan is to learn, and to network with people who are interested in what I can do and what I have to say.  The stars have aligned over the past few weeks and I’ve made some exciting contacts out there in this exciting online world.  I’ve already jumped into some freelance assignments at a few fantastic outlets, and I’m looking forward to building that portfolio.  I’m excited to share my work as I gain momentum!

Thanks for following along as I start down this new path.  It’s never too late to follow your gut instincts, or to try to work your way back to the beginning.

 

 

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