new work published

five month recap

Happy day-after-Valentine’s Day! I know it can be a tricky and emotionally challenging holiday for so many, but it’s always been one of my favorites. There’s nothing better than having an excuse to celebrate LOVE in all of its forms — especially these days, when there’s so much to be scared and upset about in the world around us.

Matt and I went on an early Valentine’s Day date over the weekend (so much amazing sushi!), so we decided to keep last night low-key, but we also started a new tradition. On our first Valentine’s Day together in 2010, Matt surprised me by bringing all of the fixings for ice cream sundaes to his college dorm room. To this day, it was my very favorite February 14, and as a nod to that, we’ve decided to indulge in homemade sundaes to mark the occasion every year. Last night, we had a little date to the grocery store to pick out all the ingredients, then skipped dinner and went right to dessert. As adults, how often do we actually eat a real ice cream sundae? If you ask me, the answer is “not enough,” so Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect opportunity to fix that (especially if you’re ice cream lovers like Matt and I!).

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Anyway, now that it’s the 15th of the month, it’s time for a recap (you can check out my last two recaps here and here)! It’s now been five months since I left my job to become a freelancer. Here are some of the things I’ve learned and have been thinking about over the last few weeks:

  • I’m gaining credibility. A few months into this journey, it finally feels like people are starting to “get” what I’m doing, and I can’t tell you how satisfying that is. When I first left my stable job, I know there were people who questioned if I would actually be working in this next chapter of my life. There was a sense that I’d just gotten married and was throwing this “freelancing” word around as an excuse to get out of my career and be taken care of by my husband. In the last few weeks (and with my last few bylines), it seems that I’ve finally proven to the doubters that I’m working, working hard, and even starting to become successful!
  • I’m becoming more business-minded. As I continue taking on new projects and clients, I’m realizing more and more that my time and talent is worth something. I’ll be honest — when you start as a freelancer, you’re happy to accept any job that comes your way, and you don’t ask a lot of questions. These days, I’m having to juggle so many exciting gigs, and it’s forced me to become more strategic about the way I work and the way I collaborate. I never expected that being a writer would also force me to switch on my entrepreneurial instincts, but it has!
  • I’m being really hard on myself again. In the first month or two of my freelance transition, I did a lot of negative self-talk. I worried if I would ever get the jobs I wanted, if clients would ever take me seriously, if I would ever be able to make money as a writer, and if I’d made the right decision. Ironically, that negative self-talk is starting to come back — this time, because now that I’ve started to gain some momentum, I’m terrified that I won’t be able to sustain it. In my writing life, I have off-days and even off-weeks, just like I did in my corporate life, and I find that I’ve been very hard on myself during those periods lately. I’ve been doing a lot of “should” thinking — “I should do this,” “I should do that” — and I’ve forgotten that trusting my gut and my intuition has gotten me this far in the past five months!
  • I’ve had some amazing experiences. Even with the growing pains I’ve been working through, I am so humbled by the writing opportunities I’ve had lately. It’s been such a treat to continue growing my relationship with Brit + Co, to share some of my personal stories (like this one) with The Kitchn‘s community, and to have my very first print byline (in the March issue of Marie Claire). As always, I’m so grateful to all of you for your love and support of my work!
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This was a pretty special moment. You can find my article on page 136 : )
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monthly goals recap –> january + february.

It’s (somehow) the start of a new month (how did that happen???), which means it’s time to check in on my goals for January and start looking ahead to February. Here’s a recap from last month:

  • Work on my book outline. √ YES! This process is still slow-going, but I’m happy to say that I’ve at least gotten started. I spent the first half of the month researching best practices for book outlines and then started working on research and an outline in Scrivener during the back half.  
  • Hit 45 blog posts. As of today, I have 43 posts (this is my 44th). While I didn’t technically “achieve” this goal, I’m not going to count it as a failure because I actually feel really good about the pacing of my posts this month! Would you like to see me post more or less often? Feel free to let me know in the comments below (or contact me elsewhere)!
  • Run 5 miles. √ YES! Half marathon training is officially underway!
  • Read at least 3 books. I’m very close to finishing my third book from the month of January, but I didn’t quite get there. To be fair, I’ve been reading pretty hefty books — but I need to do a better job at making time for reading, which is still one of my favorite things to do.
  • Confirm first copyediting/copywriting gig. √ YES!
  • Write another piece for Bustle √ YES! I pitched a few pieces to Bustle earlier in the month that didn’t quite land, so I wasn’t feeling too confident about this goal. At the very end of the month, though, I had an unexpected opportunity to write this piece about the late, great Mary Tyler Moore and what her show (and its theme song) means to me.
  • Break into at least one new outlet. Not this month!
  • Keep weeknights sacred. √ YES! I’ve been doing a much better job at this so far in 2017. Matt and I are really enjoying having more time together during the week just to spend time together and recharge.

Yesterday, I wrote out my goals for February in my Passion Planner (which I’m still loving, by the way). Here is what I’m hoping to accomplish in the next (short) month:

  • Successfully launch the Bulldog Yoga blog. I’ve been hired to launch and run the blog for an amazing yoga studio near Philadelphia. The content will go live in the middle of February, and I can’t wait to see all of our hard work come together! (P.S. If you live in or are visiting the Philly area, you should definitely check out Bulldog.)
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I got to spend a day at Bulldog Yoga earlier this week… how cute is Gracie, the mascot?
  • FINISH my book outline and start the writing process. I thrive off of organization and structure, so I’m hoping that once I have an outline in place, I’ll be able to jump into a first draft a bit more easily. The outline process is more labor-intensive than I would have expected, but I think it’s going to be key to my success on this project.
  • Write another piece for Bustlereally enjoyed working on my latest piece for their Feature section, so I’m definitely hoping to pitch and write for them again. Let’s get some momentum going!
  • Feel strong and healthy in my first month of half marathon trainingA few days into my training program, I’m already feeling great! My goal is to keep myself healthy so that I can make the most of my runs and lay good groundwork for the rest of my race prep.
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This morning’s run!
  • Continue pitching to Refinery29In early January, my essay about “quitting The Bachelor ran on this amazing site. I pitched a few more concepts to my editor there mid-month, and none of them were exactly the right fit, but I’m going to keep trying in February.
  • Break into a new outlet. The constant freelancer’s goal!
  • Read at least 3 books. I’m going to get my reading mojo back!
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The next books on my reading list. Let the record show that there is not a “light read” among them!
  • Finish our wedding album! I started creating our album (using the amazing photos from Bri Cibene Photography) in mid-January, and I’m hoping to have it finished and ordered by the end of February. I’m having so much fun making it — the only problem is that I want to include all of the pictures and there just isn’t space!
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Here’s a sneak peek at the first full spread of our album!

What are your goals for February! I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!

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two month recap.

 

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Image credit: Pinterest/spoken.ly

Somehow in the craziness of the world this past week, it’s crept up on me that it has been TWO months since my last day of work pre-freelancing.  It’s hard to believe how much has changed in the four weeks since my one-month recap, and I’m happy to be sharing the strides I’ve made (as well as some of the continuing challenges!) with you today.

Here are the major updates:

  • I’M PUBLISHED!  Obviously, when I left my corporate gig to become a writer, the goal was to be a published writer, and my greatest fear was that I would end up feeling totally silly with nothing to show for my leap of faith.  Within just the last few weeks, I’ve become a regular contributor to Brit + Co, and yesterday, an essay that I wrote for The Kitchn went live.  The fact that just one month ago I was working my butt of and still waiting to see a byline anywhere and now I have a little starter portfolio of clips to my name — it makes me happier than you can imagine.  (As a reminder, I link all of my work as it’s posted right here to the blog!)
  • I’m feeling the benefits of calling my own shots.  Now that I’m getting more traction and seeing the evidence of my efforts in a more tangible way, I’m really starting to understand how the hustle works.  My success — and my paychecks — are directly correlated to the amount of time I invest and the number of ideas I can generate.  As safe as it felt to get a consistent paycheck every two weeks in my previous job, I feel so much pride when I see that my willingness to put in extra work often results in a greater reward.  It’s certainly less predictable financially (especially in these early stages), but now that I can actually see how satisfying it is to make my own luck, I am all the more motivated to be my own boss.
  • I’m meeting really interesting people.  Whether I’m connecting with fellow freelancers at a coffee shop or interviewing people who are doing really awesome things for my articles, I’m loving the opportunities I have to build professional relationships in a new way.  Working from home can feel lonely at times, and I was almost entirely isolated for my first month, so it’s been totally refreshing to network with a community of other writers and creatives.
  • My confidence is growing.  As a journalism student, one of my biggest struggles was conducting interviews.  Although I’m usually pretty self-assured, if you put me in front of a source for a story, I would immediately become uncomfortable and awkward.  It’s amazing what a few years of life experience can do for your conversation skills!  I still get pre-interview jitters here and there, but it’s nothing compared to the anxiety I used to get.
  • The bad news — I’m still not sleeping.  You can check out a post detailing all of my sleep issues here, but the short update is that I am still really struggling to get enough rest.  I’m sticking to my goal of phasing out my (formerly) beloved over-the-counter sleep aids, and I know I’ll be happy I did it in the end, but right now I just feel completely exhausted.

Sometimes I forget that what I’m really creating is a “new normal,” and that someday, it won’t feel like some wild experiment that I’m still figuring out one step at a time.  Until then, I appreciate all of your continued support as I build this new life for myself — growing  pains and all.

 

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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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