But First, A List: The Pitfalls of Overplanning

Good morning dear readers! It’s me, your friendly (and kinda weird, if we’re being honest) freelancer writer and le jaqueline-of-all-trades! Oui!

After a month of chaos (like, not our normal chaos of raising three tiny humans and juggling multiple gigs, but more like hosting lots of out-of-town guests followed by a voodoo hex of a stomach bug which descended on our my family LIKE A PLAGUE) I’m back and I want to tell you, I have a dirty little secret.

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No, no, no! Nothing like that! My dirty little secret is…I am an overplanner. There, I’ve said it. No take-backs!

I L-O-V-E to plan things, and I love making lists (and if you want proof, check out my very first blog post!) Lists are one of the most effective ways for me to accomplish just about anything. Going out-of-town with the aforementioned three smaller-than-me humans and not sure what to pack? Make a list! Managing multiple projects simultaneously and worried about letting something crucial fall through the cracks? Make a list! Going on a Target run and need groceries, a seasonal door mat that says “Welcome” and three small bottles of super glue? Ok, maybe make a list, because let’s be honest, Target runs are basically an every-other-day thing around here.

And you know what lists are really super perfect for? PROCRASTINATING! Yep, it’s true…sadly, tragically true. I make lists in my head and on paper about things I want to write ALL. DAY. LONG and you know what happens next? Nothing. I spend so much time planning and getting excited about new ideas and mentally indexing my creative musings that when it comes time to actually do the thing called “writing” that I don’t even know where to start.

(Sidenote: I found a super complicated way to make a list, called bullet journaling, it gave me borderline anxiety, and basically confirms everything I’m writing in this blog post).

(Also, I DID find a sort-of-list that I think I could actually use and you can buy it at KnockKnockStuff.com)

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As I mentioned, the last month has just been CRAZY around here, and now that the dust has settled I’m really not sure where to pick up and what should come first. Obviously, I’m tending to my blog, but what comes next? Should I start working on outlines for my book chapters? That sounds fun! Should I update my website and repost some of my blogs on my social media channels? Pretty good idea, social media is so important for freelancers. Should I do a writing exercise (because what’s better than practicing writing?) Um, that would be writing, dummy.

This whole conundrum reminds me of the nailing jello to the wall analogy. Useless and frustrating (and a waste of perfectly good jello). I think when it comes to writing, we just need to write. Over and over and over again, just write! I started my freelance business because I needed the flexibility of working on my own schedule so that I could tend to LIFE when it came a-calling. But what I’m slowly, stubbornly realizing is that you must protect your writing with the fierceness of a warrior goddess protecting her right to rock skin-tight, leather corsets and skimpy metal armor regardless of the fact that she’s being blatantly sexualized in the media…you know, relentlessly! #IheartXenaforever

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Look, I’m not trying to take away anyone’s rollerball blue pen and yellow notepad. Far be it from me to shake off the conventions that have served me so well as a multi-tasking fiend. But writing isn’t always about multitasking, is it? Sometimes it’s about getting that one stupid cube of jello to actually stick to the wall.

P.S. I actually hate jello, but the metaphor works.

XOXO,

M

 

 

French Fries are a Lie (a beautiful, beautiful lie)

Hey y’all…how goes it? Good? Great, let’s get to it.

I recently learned something I can’t “un-know” and it’s causing more than a small amount of internal conflict. As you may be aware, I’m a mostly vegan, environmentally minded, documentary obsessed human. A few years ago, I challenged myself to go 60 days on a vegan diet, and guess what?! I liked it so much I decided to go full on vegan (I thought that might have a double meaning, but I Googled it and there’s nothing interesting there, sorry).

As you can imagine, I got a lot of unsolicited advice about how to sustain myself on such a restrictive diet and also make sure I wasn’t shunned from society at social events.

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One piece of advice for finding something on just about any restaurant menu went something like this: French fries are always vegan. It sounds so nice, doesn’t it? Like the middle part of an almost utopian novel when you just know that things are about to come crumbling to a depressing and final end. Or maybe not, maybe I’m hungry and not thinking clearly.

The point is, I hung onto that advice like a misinformed teenage boys clings to his Axe body spray. It sprayed that shit everywhere. Kids hungry and we have to make a fast food pit stop? FRENCH FRIES! Going out to dinner with friends and not sure what to order besides lame salad? FRENCH FRIES! Someone I know literally just walked past me with a basket of FRENCH FRIES and I’m not even joking. They’re everywhere, and they are a lie.

Let me splain. I had dinner with my family last night at a restaurant which we frequent exactly every Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how much I don’t want to go to the grocery store during the week. I ordered the same thing I always order: veggie burger (which I know is vegan), no mayo, no cheese, and a side of fries. The thoughtful and intuitive waitress asked me if I wanted my bun “un-buttered”. Well of course I did, cause you know, VEGAN! She then shattered my world and shared with me that the oil used to fry their, well, fries, was the SAME OIL THEY FRY FISH IN!!!!

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So here I am, left with the choice of knowingly consuming tainted french fries, or giving it a hard pass and sticking to my vegan convictions.

I ate the french fries, y’all.

There’s always tomorrow. Happy Friday!

I’m a Rottweiler of Determination and I’m F*cking Fabulous

During my tenure as a self-proclaimed “non-profit junkie” I had the privilege of meeting inspiring and accomplished folks from all walks of life who were doing the hard work of creating a better and more equitable community. I rubbed elbows with people who ran amazing charities and were seen as thought leaders in the sector, who were sought-after speakers at leadership trainings and conventions. And whenever I met and mingled with these super-humans, my initial inspiration at their accomplishment was swiftly replaced with self-doubt and a strong dose of imposter syndrome. I was #JealousAF.

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My head began to swim with questioning: “Who was *I* to try and be a leader in this community? What did *I* bring to the table?” I told myself I didn’t have enough experience, all while continuing to climb the ladder from coordinator, to officer, and finally to director. And you know what I realized? It wasn’t the titles or leadership positions that made me feel like I had arrived. It was only after I left the traditional work place and created my own space (this website and my writing) that I began to feel authentic.

Over the past few years I’ve gone through a lot of introspection. I put my ish “out there” to close friends and spent time reading inspiring books, like Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life  and Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I was doing “the work” y’all. And something that became clear to me in a visceral way was that every time I felt that tell-tale pang of jealousy and self-doubt, it was because I hadn’t been working on my “Dream Biggie” life plan (that’s mine, you can’t use it #sorrynotsorry, and also it’s in no way connected to the late American rapper, Notorious B.I.G. aka Biggie Smalls). But I digress…

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My Dream Biggie life plan meant taking the risk of forging my own path, defining what successful meant for myself, and only saying “yes, please!” to opportunities that checked off the right boxes. So far, I think I’m doing a bang-up job. And one of the side-effects of my plan is that instead of being all jelly over someone else’s accomplishments, I am able to say “Wow! You are super awesome!” and I mean it. Aaaaaand, it inspires me to go back to my work as a successful (read: compensated) freelance writer and take on projects that former, self-doubting me would have been afraid of.

I love my life. I love that I’m surrounded by people who care so deeply that they can’t NOT go out into the world and make it a better place, even just a teen tiny bit. I love that every day I have endless opportunities to write, to meet like-minded humans and connect with them in ways I probably couldn’t just a few short months ago. And I hope I’m inspiring to even a few people who are kind enough to tolerate my often over-caffeinated brainstorms and enthusiastic ramblings. Because despite any bravado I might inadvertently exude, I’m just a rottweiler puppy chewing through a door at the end of the day, trying to tell you, “I’m here!”

XOXO,

M

This Blog Post Survived A Torpedo of Cat Puke

I don’t really believe in click-baity titles. And honestly, I’m no good at them. So you can rest assured that the title of this blog post is nothing but accurate.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve sat down to write for you. I know, I promised weekly content and I haven’t been able to hold up my end of the deal. There you are, waiting patiently and eagerly for that notification email telling you I’ve posted new content, growing increasingly sad and lonely, and I’m over here like “It’s back to school week! The sky is falling! I don’t know what to do with two of the three kids out of the house!” But I digress…

 

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During the previous school year, I made a promise. I told myself (and my friends, and my family, and my yoga app) that I wasn’t going to take on any leadership roles or unneccessary responsibilities and I would whole-heartedly work on myself. You see, part of the reason I quit a full-time development director position was so that I could focus more of my time on the kids, my health, and so that I could start a freelance writing business and really make a go of it.

And look at me! I sure did. However, I did NOT keep my promise. I did NOT say no to leading a board of volunteers at my daughter’s school when I had every reason to do so (y’all remember, I just had a baby…like I made a tiny human and then brought him home). Then I said yes to chairing a group of parents at my synagogue (which I love with all my heart, but still…leadership role!)

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So here I am, sitting at my computer, lamenting that I don’t have time to write, or give my website attention, or crank out a simple blog post every week, and BAM my cat torpedo vomits all over my work space just seconds after I swiftly maneuvered my laptop away from certain (disgusting) death. And I took it as a sign, y’all. Kind of like that scene in Under the Tuscan Sun when the bird poops on Diane Lane.

When you make a promise to yourself and don’t keep it, your cat will remind you. And when your cat, sitting nearby, making those tell-tale, gutteral enunciations finally spews your broken promise back at you, you’ll vow never to do it again.

So this is me, coming back from the chaos of self-inflicted injury, trying to make amends. I am a writer. I move through life with a constant hum of ideas and “what ifs” swirling through my head. But my headspace needs room for other things. So I must write.

XOXO,

M

5 Lists To Help You Make More Lists

Welcome to my blog! I hope you come back each week (or so) and find out what I’m up to. In lieu of your standard introductory post about me and how I got here and blah blah blah I thought I’d give you something “actionable”. Don’t you just love to read “actionable” blog posts?! I know I do! So here are 5 Lists To Help You Make More Lists!

A Grocery List

A grocery list is complete in and of itself, right? WRONG! You can’t just go jotting things down all willy-nilly! When was the last time you found Himalayan Pink Salt sitting smack dab right next to your favorite brand of gluten free, guten flavored, gluten nibs? It never happens! So why write down your grocery list without considering layout and optimizing your chances of not forgetting your favorite snacks? Avoid this time waster by breaking down your grocery list into multiple lists featuring like items or items in proximity.

A To-Do List

This list is self-explanatory. You write down a list of things you want to do. If you want to get all crazy about it, consider a Venn Diagram style approach or create a vision board.

A Bucket List

There might be things you want to do before you die. Instead of a long, yabbery list of unfulfilled dreams, break them down into the following:

  • Things that might kill me
  • Things that probably won’t kill me, but require adequate and ongoing health insurance (good luck!)
  • Things that are highly unlikely to ever happen (like writing a novel, living in a tiny house, or making a go of stand up comedy)
  • Figuring out America’s fascination with Kevin Bacon

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A “Honey-Do” List

This is sexist and outdated. Do that sh*t yourself. Also, create a list of less offensive, more gender-inclusive names for a “Honey-Do” list.

A Sh*t List

This is probably my favorite kind of list. Although I typically write it in my head and rearrange its order based on what member of my family or circle of friends is currently doing the DUMBEST. SH*T. EVER, it can sometimes be therapeutic to put pen to paper on this one. Categories might include, “Gave me a stupid birthday gift” or “Excessively pushed a new food item during dinner” or “Thinks Chili’s is a great place for hanging out.” You get the picture.

So there you have it! 5 Lists To Help You Make More Lists! I hope you found this week’s blog valuable. If you need more lists in your life, check out Buzzfeeds’s Lists News for more lists on lists on lists.

XOXO,

M