Monday Motivation: This Girl Can

Good morning and happy Monday!

Over the weekend I read that we think we act a certain way because of how we feel but we really feel a certain way because of how we act. If our actions radiate happiness and joy then we’ll tend to feel a sense of happiness and joy. Do you agree? To me this makes sense but just in case, I’m brewing a strong pot of coffee to help kick this gloomy Monday into high gear.

I’m six month pregnant and feeling great. For me, pregnancy and high intensity workouts do not mix. Even so, these two videos make me smile and have been motivating me to slap on some shoes and get out the door for a walk or quick trip to the gym.

 

Cheers (with mugs of coffee, of course) to a great week!

Monday Motivation: Can We Not?

Okay, it's not this bad outside. But doesn't it feel this way? Side note: this is from a blizzard in 1977. Yikes!

Okay, it’s not this bad outside. But doesn’t it feel this way? Side note: this is from a blizzard in 1977. Yikes!

It was -6 degrees this morning. And for being the shortest month of the year, it seems to be dragging on longer than usual.

So to that I say, “Can we not, February?”

I know this is supposed to be your motivation for the week, but sometimes it’s not us that needs the motivation. It’s this month and it’s this weather that needs to get moving on to springier seasons.

And I know that because I live in the Midwest it’s something I should get used to. But I can’t. I mean, I like winter for the most part, but this particular slow crawl to the end of the season is always intolerable.

Today, though, I haven’t left the house yet. That’s right. The little man has a nasty cough and a runny nose and we are staying put in our nice warm house.

However, it’s still Monday. So yeah, I’m still doing a little work from home, and then taking PTO for the rest of the time.

So if you have the opportunity to snuggle down today…do just that.

And then read this hilarious post, “Hey…Can you not invite February? No Offense.” It’s what February would be like if she was a terrible excuse for a friend.

A preview from that post…

A: She’s a psycho!

B: I know. She’s so annoying.

A: SO WHY DO WE ALWAYS HAVE TO HANG OUT WITH HER??

B: Because we literally cannot ditch her. Not unless we move to like, Florida or Australia or something. Just accept that February is that friend who we grew up with because our parents are best friends with her parents. She’s gone skiing with our families. We’ve seriously known her our whole lives. We can’t get rid of her.

…It gets better. And on the plus side, only 5ish days left of this not-so-stellar month. And then it’s on to shamrock shakes and my birthday!

Stay warm, people.

Monday Motivation: Laugh a lot

Big smiles on a grey day

Big smiles on a grey day

 

How was your weekend? Our college friends were in town and we all enjoyed a relaxing lunch at our house on Saturday. Drinks were consumed early in the afternoon while kids ran around the house, leaving unfinished puzzles for us to complete. Yesterday I stayed up way too late to watch Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary Special. I grinned ear-to-ear when they brought back memorable characters. I had a serious crush on Adam Sandler during his run on SNL and vaguely remember writing him a fan letter. I’m sure it was in cursive and full of jokes that reeked of desperation.

That show provided Dan and I with unexpected laughs. This winter is dragging on and it’s only February. I’m just about maxed out on chili, winter boots and hot chocolate. I take that back, I still have tolerance for hot chocolate. Regardless, it’s a dreary time of the year and laughter is welcomed.

Motivation comes in many forms and today, it’s in the form of well-crafted comedy. Isn’t it interesting that actors are typically thought of as artists but we don’t typically put comedians in the same category? Lately, I’ve been drawn to comedians who provide comic relief and some sort of motivational message or perspective. A few weeks ago, Jamie recommended Nick Offerman’s American Ham Netflix special. Nick’s top ten ten list for a prosperous life was equal parts comedy and motivation. He provided viewers (me) with a reality check. Are we really living the life we love? Can we just put down our phones and actually do something, like a hobby? Carry a handkerchief and you’ll be a hero.

Let’s smile more and seek out opportunities to consume good comedy. Yes, let’s vow to watch more clips and read more Buzzfeed articles. Happy Monday!

Monday Motivation: Short and Sweet

Complements of the cult classic, "The Big Lebowski"

Complements of the cult classic, “The Big Lebowski”

Here’s to a quick and painless Monday.

As I also have a busy day ahead of me, instead of sharing words of encouragement, I’m just going to share one of my favorite motivational songs as of late.

Alright, now get out out there and keep working on your own masterpiece. Cheers!

Monday Motivation: Keep on Keeping on

Ingrid Ice Skates

The face of determination.

 

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend? Over here, it was a good mix of tackling house projects and ignoring responsibilities like laundry and grocery shopping. Yesterday Jamie and I met up for coffee and chatted about our families, writing and Trivia Crack. I told Jamie that I was falling short on my most recent writing goal but, I want to keep writing. She nodded and for some reason, that gesture was enough motivation – and validation – to keep going. After all, the name of the game this year is determination.

Over the holidays, I stumbled upon a project that resonated with me and mimicked National Novel Writing Month – Picture Book Idea Month. Although I discovered the site a few months after the challenge, I decided to participate, or should I say “participate.” The challenge: to come up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. The website provides some writing prompts but its primary goal is to motivate writers.

I started 30 days ago and have 16 ideas.

If you just look at the calendar and the number of ideas, I’ve failed. Since I’m going at this solo instead of following along with a group of like-minded people, I’m proud of my progress. That’s not entirely true – I find my progress acceptable. My arbitrary date has come and gone but instead of giving up, per usual, I’m going to continue to write and generate ideas. If it takes 60 days, it takes 60 days.

I tend to get caught up in a negative feedback loop and ultimately stuck in my own head. Telling myself these ideas aren’t good. These books have all been done before. Why would anyone want to read a children’s book about that topic? Fear, what a powerful beast!

It took me a long time to get mentally tough as a runner. Mental toughness is proving to be a muscle that I need to continue to flex. I didn’t think brainstorming 30 book ideas would require the same level as mental toughness as running a half marathon. It does. It’s easier to check email or read blogs. It’s easier to stop running and walk. But, as any seasoned runner will tell you, it’s quicker and far more satisfying to run up that damn hill instead of walking up the long climb. You reach the top feeling satisfied and accomplished. It was hard and you did it. You can do hard things.

It took me a long time to believe that hills were worth running but over the course of training, I started to like hills. There is this gradual, never-ending hill about a half mile from my house. Each time I run up the incline, I repeat the mantra, “This hill is my bitch, this hill is my bitch. This. Hill. Is. My. Bitch.”

It’s time to embrace this mantra and repeat it over and over until I reach the top, and write 30 ideas, “This challenge is my bitch, this challenge is my bitch. This. Challenge. Is. My. Bitch.”

Monday Motivation: Learn Something New

 

Well it's not my dog, but it's a cute dog. But what does he wonder?

Well it’s not my dog, but it’s a cute dog. But what does he wonder?

I’m baaaaccckkkkkk. Oh, you didn’t know I was gone? That’s alright, all is forgiven.

In a nutshell, I spent the last week on a real vacation in Florida – Disney and then Tampa. It was fun, it was magical, there was even a nap that occurred at one point. What more could an overworked and slightly looney girl ask for, am I right? More to come on that vacation. But first, let’s talk about learning something new.

Mind = Blown.

While on vacation I got in some good hearty reading. I read two books that I kept putting on the back burner over the last month and finally found the time to read them. The first was, “The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us” by Diane Ackerman. The second was, “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits and World Dominators” by Chris Brogan.

And as the section header implies, my mind was blown (figuratively) after reading these two insanely different, yet both incredibly compelling books. And I probably could write a very, VERY long review on each, but that’s not what I want to do here. What I want to do is let you in on some things I learned from “The Human Age” because, well, I think they’re interesting things.

  • Sweden actually ships in garbage from other countries in order to fuel their cities…because they don’t have enough of their own garbage. They’re THAT clean.
  • 3D printers will likely end many industries. Not all, but a lot of them. Oh, they’ll also be able to make organs out of actual human tissue. Creepy, right?
  • 1/10 of your body is made of human cells, the rest is made of other stuff like bacteria and microbes. Gross, but fascinating, huh?
  • A robot that creates another robot is not necessarily like how you would build a robot. It’s how a robot thinks a robot should be built.
  • Animals may know you know something. But they don’t know you know they know something. Did you catch that?

Why am I reading up on 3D printers and the internal workings of animals? Because…

I just wanted to learn something new.

I have a question in my mind that needs to be answered for the book I’m writing. It’s a very open-ended question, but I knew I would need to fall deep into the rabbit hole if I wanted to paint a picture of the world my characters are currently living in.

The question was, “What separates humans from all other life forms?” On a scientific level I get it. I mean, well, sort of. I get it so far as what I learned in the Biology 101 class I took in college (that I barely passed). So I wanted to learn more.

Now, you might be asking, “Shouldn’t you write about what you know?” Well, I guess I’m trying to test that theory. Because I think a lot of people already know random Disney facts and the lyrics to Iggy Azalea songs so that didn’t seem all that interesting in terms of a story plot. But I digress. 

While going down one rabbit hole, I stumbled on this Brain Pickings article reviewing “The Human Age” and it was this very excerpt that offered a glimmer of an answer to what I was seeking.

[Animals] possess a theory of mind, and can intuit what a rival might do in a given situation and act accordingly. They exhibit deceit, compassion, the ability to see themselves through another’s eyes…

I don’t think they fret and reason endlessly about mental states, as we do. They simply dream a different dream, probably much like the one we used to dream, before we crocheted into our neural circuitry the ability to have ideas about everything. Other animals may know you know something, but they don’t know you know they know. Other mammals may think, but we think about having thoughts. Linnaeus categorized us in the subspecies of Homo sapiens sapiens, adding the extra sapiens because we don’t just know, we know that we know.

So then I found the book and started reading it. And then I learned WAY more about the way humans are shaping the world around us than just simply how we’re different from animals.

Your mind needs a break

On any given day I probably think about the same things over and over again. So to take a break and think about the world in a different way, or to think about anything in a different way, was a nice change. It doesn’t mean you have to take action. It’s enough to just absorb it and let it keep you wandering down a couple more rabbit holes. Don’t stress out about it. Just find something new that piques your interest. Maybe dig a little deeper instead of putting it on the back burner of your mind. And heck, if you find a way to apply the new knowledge in your everyday life, all the better!

Happy Monday, fellow Erudites!

Monday Motivation: Eat, Work, Read, Repeat.

Hey Monday, go step on a Lego.

Isn’t that a great quote? Thank you, Some eCards.

A new week, a fresh start and cold temps. It’s the middle of January and the cold weather is having a major impact on the “word of 2015.” I’m trying to focus on my accomplishments instead of the lingering items that never get done. Why is that such a tall order? Instead of sharing a ball-busting quote, here are some of my favorite sources of motivation:

  • Tone It Up – Great resource for weekly workouts, fitness tips, and healthy, clean recipes. Not only are these two women fit and fierce but they are positive and motivating. Although I doubt they are trying to target mothers the recipes, workouts and weekly plan align with my family’s tastes and my schedule. I love that they don’t take themselves too seriously and remain authentic.
  • Skinnytaste –  Do you guys have a solid meal-planning method? Binder? Print-out or email yourself recipes? I have yet to find the best method for our family but time and time again, I visit Skinnytaste and find easy, delicious recipes. Our faves include: Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries and BananasCrock Pot Chicken Taco Chili and Cheesy Baked Pumpkin Pasta (such a fall favorite).
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler – How good were Amy and Tina last night on the Golden Globes? Over the holiday break I read Poehler’s new book and loved nearly every page. My favorite chapter, “Treat your career like a bad boyfriend” was a quiet little reminder that your goals can’t be reached overnight. After someone plopped a script down in Amy’s lap (as she was sleeping on a train) she writes:

Good or bad, the reality is most people become “famous” or get “great jobs” after a very, very long tenure shoveling shit and not because they handed their script to someone on the street. People still think they will be discovered at the malt shop, even though no one cal tell you what a malt is anymore…People don’t want to hear about the fifteen years of waiting tables and doing small shows with your friends until one of them gets a little more famous and they convince people to hire you and then you get paid and you work hard and spend time getting better and making more connections and friends. Booooring.

  • Goodreads – I love to start the day by reading The Skimm. Read it – be informed and smirk at all of the wittiness.

There you have it. Motivation from a lot of women. A lot of strong, honest and authentic women. I didn’t plan it that way but I’m not surprised. Please, we could all use a little more motivation (and coffee). Share your favorites!

Monday Motivation: Don’t get stuck in the in-between

Let it go

You had to know this was coming, right?

Let it go or do something about it.

That’s the mantra I’ve created for myself today.

Like many of you, I feel like I have a holiday hangover. It’s the start of the first full work week since I left for Christmas break (although I did work a couple days last week before the new year) and it feels like it’s time. It’s time to stop shoveling food into my gullet. It’s time to get focused and re-energized. And it’s time to tackle some monumental goals. Not new year’s goals, mind you (other than to face my fears, basically), but tangible, concrete goals. Goals related to work projects. Goals related to training for my next event. The goal to get our finances in order for tax season. The goal to do something with that book I won’t shut up about.

It’s a lot to take on for a Monday after a long holiday. And even just thinking about the not-so-pleasant parts of those goals had me really stressed out this weekend. Like there may have been a small episode in the grocery store parking lot where I mentally screamed “Fudge this!” (But my mind is a little more uncouth than that). And I just felt very not-present all weekend because of the things weighing on my mind.

I hate being in the “in between.” It’s the space between the “I’ve identified a problem” and whatever comes next…”I’m just going to ignore it.” or “I’m just going to get through it.” or “I’m just going to give it my all and tell off the nay sayers in my mind!”  (I wish the last one happened more often). It’s just a lot of dwelling and thinking on what I could do or should do or shouldn’t do or REALLY shouldn’t do. I try not to get stuck dwelling on these things which make me feel like “this sucks and it’s how my life is going to be forever and ever until I die!” but it happens.

And obviously, my life is not going to be terrible forever. But in the moment, it feels that way.

So going back to my mantra, today is about letting go or doing something about it. I’m pretty good at not holding grudges, mostly because my long term memory isn’t that great (I digress), so letting go is a strong suit of mine. But all too often I let too much go and then it’s a cycle where it comes back around multiple times until I decide to do something about it. So there may be some of that today, as well. For the most part though, I want to let it go and just put my head down and get through what I need to do this day and this week so that I can have a very clear mind and “presentness” (shhh, I’m making that word happen) for our trip to Florida next week.

So where others may be shouting at you to BE DETERMINED and GO ATTACK YOUR GOALS and MAKE THOSE UNICORN DREAMS HAPPEN today…to that I say. “Sure. Go do that.” But also, deal with your past so that you can move forward. Either let it go or do something about it.

Wise words from Rafiki

Wise words from Rafiki

Here’s to a blistery cold Monday!

 

p.s. this post was not in any way, shape or form sponsored by Disney, but I can’t lie, I’m MORE than a little pumped for our Disney trip next week. It may be a reoccurring theme for a bit. Just bear with me.

Monday Motivation: Thinking about 2015

 

Quote_fear

By the time the next Monday Motivation post comes around, it will be 2015. Does that seem crazy to you? It does to me. This year flew by incredibly quickly. But as busy as it was, I have a feeling 2015 will be equally, if not more, busy than this current year.

This ain’t your Facebook Year in Review…

I’ve spent the year capturing moments – both on camera and off. But it’s only the most pristine that I display to others (or moments that are so ridiculous that I can’t NOT share them with others). Jeff Goins noted this in his recent Year in Review post, and it holds true for me as well. I looked at the Facebook Year in Review. The reason I didn’t share it? It didn’t capture the moments that were important to me. But that’s because not all moments can fit in a small view that I display to the world through the means of social media.

So here are some of the big ticket items that stuck out to me in 2014 (in no particular order).

  1. Little man turned 2 (every birthday of his is super important in my mind)
  2. I wrote a first draft of a novel and won NaNoWriMo
  3. I started this blog with my dear friend, Lindsay
  4. I completed the almost 200-mile Ragnar Relay with 11 other amazing people
  5. I got promoted
  6. The hubby and I were able to put a sizeable chunk into savings by sticking to a budget (mostly) so that we could save up for a down payment on a new house
  7. We also hit the five-year anniversary mark. Woohoo!
  8. I ran a half marathon in Arizona with my sister

And there are the unspoken, uncatalogued moments. Like during the Ragnar Relay I faced down a fear so large I thought I was going to have a heart attack (It was the fear of letting down others, if you must know). Or the fact that I pushed aside the self-doubt and was able to conquer all kinds of negative voices in my head to write a first draft of a novel. Or that I finally started a blog and decided that I didn’t have to be the perfect writer, or be able to have “my voice” well defined ahead of time, or have everything figured out…that it was enough to just start. Or that I’m continually tested on patience and perseverance in raising a precocious, adventurous and WAY too brave 2.5 year old with a pension for very high ledges. But that all happened in 2014. And it’s crazy to think that all of that was accomplished in just 12 months.

Looking ahead…

So now I turn my eyes not to what I have done, but what I will do in the coming year. I stopped putting together new year’s resolutions a couple years ago because I don’t like arbitrary goals created just because it’s a common time of year to make goals. I like setting goals when they’re meaningful to me. So I don’t think of these as aspirations. No, these are things that are going to happen.

  1. Finishing the novel – hard deadline of October 31, 2015. That means, having it in a publishable format. I used Christmas break to start skimming the surface to see if I could try and put more order to it. And now, I have to put some real thought into how much time I want to use to edit, then I need to figure out when I can get some beta readers to critique, then another round of polishing edits, then maybe looking for  a real editor, then finishing it up. That’s what needs to happen by November 2015. At that point I hope to use November to write the next novel and hopefully be at the point where I’m shopping around my first novel.
  2. Ragnar beckons me, yet again. June 12, 2015. I swore I wouldn’t do this race again. Even though I had my fastest times, even though it was an amazing bonding experience, it was still the most stressful, mentally taxing and heart-attack inducing experience of my life (okay, minus child birth). Who would be crazy enough to go through that again? This girl. Much like I’ve forgotten the long hours of labor and excruciating pain of child birth and now fondly think of what it would be like to have a second child, I once again am turning back to that gritty Ragnar Relay. And this time, I’m coming at it with a year of experience under my belt. My training will be harder, my miles might be longer, and surely my pace will be quicker. Bring. It. On.
  3. Celebrating the five year milestone: DISNEY. DISNEY. DISNEY. Oh and yes, spending time with my hubby in a much-needed vacation to celebrate our five years together. That will be happening in January.

There is so much more I hope to conquer in 2015, but for now, those are the concrete items on my to do list. Are you still wrapping up 2014 or are do you have your sights set on what’s coming up in 2015?

Happy New Year!

Monday Motivation: The Best Laid Plans

 

A last minute trip up to the Dells with friends? No problem! Let me just squeeze on back here with you guys.

A last minute trip up to the Dells with friends? No problem! Let me just squeeze on back here with you guys.

Today’s Monday motivation post is going to be about taking it easy…but trying just a little bit.

A recap of sorts…

Has your vacation started yet? Ours is basically in full swing and it’s quite the roller coaster of ups and downs.

The ups so far have included a last minute trip to the Dells and water park adventures (Friday through Sunday) with some amazing friends. Then we went back to the Watertown area for a Christmas family gathering and a visit with some old friends (Sunday afternoon). Tomorrow, we have a play date set to go to Jump country in the morning…which I think the husbands are more excited about than the kids are, and then on Wednesday (Christmas eve) we’ll be heading up to the Hudson area to visit with my family until Sunday. We’ll do Christmas with them, and then we’ll also be celebrating our niece’s 3rd birthday party.

The downs? Well lots of driving for one. Up to the Dells, back to Milwaukee. Up to Hudson (5.5 hours) and back down on Sunday. We manage, and Jackson is becoming a great little road tripper, but still, we all wish the time would pass quicker than it does.

The other bummer is that Jackson has a nasty cough/cold combo and if it were up to him he would just chug children’s Motrin. (Sorry buddy…there’s a waiting period before the next dose). Sleeping through the night in the Dells on Friday and Saturday night was a little trying, but we made it work (and by “made it work” I mean I let him sleep in the bed with me which really was just a lot of him changing positions every five minutes and then coughing in my face…but hey you do what works). Yesterday, though, he took a turn for the worse. I don’t think it’s the flu, but he was running a high fever, his cough was making him gag which made him puke at one point, and we were doing the tylenol/motrin switch off throughout the night to keep the fever down. This morning, he finally got a couple hours of hard sleep in and stayed sleeping until 8:30 (which is really late considering he’s typically up by 6am). So today we’re lying low, playing with a new puzzle he got from Jake’s aunt and watching Toy Story while playing with his new basketball hoop in the basement.

About those plans…

Now this isn’t all to say “woe is me.” Really, it’s the time of the year, he hasn’t had so much as a runny nose in the last couple months and it was to be expected. But, it has thrown in a kink in the aforementioned “best laid plans.” Today was supposed to be Mommy/Daddy break day. It’s the only day where he was going to go to daycare for a couple hours so that we could relax, get things in order and get some energy back up for the long week of activities ahead of us.

Obviously, that didn’t happen. I couldn’t imagine sending him to daycare right now, and I’m actually thankful that this happened during break and not during a busy work day. But still, we’ll just have to manage with the precious few hours of a break we get during naptime and after he goes to bed (if he goes to bed unassisted).

So instead of using this day to go work out, go to a coffee shop and write for a while, wrap presents, bake, take a REALLY long shower, do some reading….well, I’ll be okay with the small workout I got done, and the fact that I’m currently writing a blog post during nap time (but I have to hurry because I think he’s already waking up), and I may get Jackson to help me with some baking, later on.

It’s a lot. Yeah…

We don’t normally take on this much right around Christmas, but there were just some really great things that we didn’t want to miss out on. And we’re young, we’ve got enough energy to keep going. But it does get a little tiring. So here’s to another Monday of filling your cup with some really strong coffee and enjoying the time you have with your loved ones before the actual Monday morning grind starts up again. For me, that’s next week, already. For some of you it might not be until the 5th. Regardless, make it a good one…no matter your circumstances.

Cheers!

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