2013: Bombshell. Marathon. Pen Pals.


Last Year, instead of resolutions, I had two themes, and I called it the "Year of Good Health and Money." There were quite a few goals to accomplish in those areas, but my main focus for the year was getting my health in order and getting our family's finances under control. I give myself a B for Good Health. I worked out pretty regularly for six months and then came to a dead stop, but I got my supplementation worked out, got my anemia under control, found a new dentist, and lost 20 pounds. I give myself an A for Money. I cut expenses, took care of some scary tax stuff, eliminated our credit card debt, and created a budget for 2013 that allows me to continue to work for myself.


This year, as I was contemplating my themes (I was leaning toward Vanity and Business), I came across Chris Brogan's Brave New Year program. It takes my themes idea and goes so much deeper. I am going to accomplish big things this year and I am going to need guidance to do it. So, I joined up.

Similar to my themes, is Chris's idea of three words for the year. The three words you choose provide a framework for your goals and, ultimately, all of your actions throughout the year. As with last year, before making a big decision, or when I finding myself stuck, I will ask myself how does what I am doing right now align with my three words. If it doesn't, then I need to do something else.

My Three Words


There are two definitions of "bombshell." First is something that is sensational, shocking, surprising, or amazing. Second is a very attractive woman.

I hope that I am able to balance my vanity and narcissism with my intelligence, humor, and generosity, but that doesn't make me any less vain. The part of "Good Health" that I failed last year was physical fitness. Fitness is measurable, but it's impact on my overall health is not as apparent, so it was easier to focus on the things I could see measured with a simple blood test.

I know myself very well and I know that appealing to my sense of vanity is one way to get me to do something. (Now you know it, too.) Working out (to fit into a smaller size, to be more attractive, to have slimmer legs) and taking better care of my skin (so my face is prettier), and eating well (to slim down, to keep my hair shiny, to keep my skin clear) are going to be easier for me to do on a regular basis if I think about how it makes me look in the near term rather than how it affects my health in the long term. Is that messed up? Yes, but that's how I work.

Going back to the first definition. I intend to be the sort of person who makes an impact. I am going to be introducing my company and our products to many people this year. I am going to be asking a lot of people for their advice, or assistance, or money. I intend to leave those people amazed and impressed so that they want to do business with me.


This word is not about running, it is about continually moving and doing. I intend to accomplish big goals this year and the only way I am going to get that done is continue to take the next step, even when I don't want to, even when it hurts, even if I am pretty sure I am going to fall on my ass when I do.

If I let myself get overwhelmed by the size of my goals or the length of my task list, I freeze. I get stuck where I am and I do not move foward. This word is to remind me that I can't stop. Yes, the goal is big and the steps to get there are many, but I only need to take one at a time. When I am starting to feel overwhelmed, I need to pull back from the big goal for a bit and focus on the next step. A crucial piece to this is to have a well defined plan so that I always know what the next step is.

This word is also here to help me get through those tasks that I simply do not want to do. As co-founder of a bootstrapped startup, there are a lot of those tasks for me to do right now. We don't have the funds to hire someone else to do them.

Pen Pals

This word took the longest for me to decide. I was looking for something about developing deeper relationships with people in my network. I have built a broad network, but I tend to maintain only shallow relationships with the people in it. Sadly, this includes family and friends.

I rely on social media so much for communication because it is quick and easy, but it also allows me to continue on with shallow interactions. Writing real letters is something that I used to love to do, and it enabled me to get to know someone more personally, and share more of myself. I had a pen pal in Lithuania when I was in grade school. I remember so many details of her life, and I can still picture her unique style of printing.

This word is not about having literal pen pals. It is included in this list to remind me to go deeper with my communications. I intend to form deeper relationships with the people in my personal and business networks, no matter the method we use most to communicate.

Your Turn

Do you make resolutions for the year? Do you set goals? Have themes? Make vision boards? Want to try this three words thing? I'd love to hear about it.

2012: The Year of Good Health... and Money


I am anemic. I have been that way for about six months. It's a side effect of gastric bypass. My body does not absorb all of the nutrients from the food I eat. I've made it worse by not taking my iron supplements faithfully, and not eating the foods I should be eating. If I don't get my iron levels up in the next three months, I will need to have an IV iron infusion. My calcium and vitamin D levels are low as well. I haven't seen a nutritionist since I had surgery.

I have lost 100 lbs in the past year. My surgeon wants me to lose 30 lbs more in the next six months. If I had been exercising at all during the past year, that 30 lbs would already be gone. I weigh 195 right now. That would put me at a final weight of 165. I'd rather be 145.

I have a numb spot on my right calf that has yet to be diagnosed and did not response to a course of steroids. The next step is to get a referral to a neurologist. I've been putting that off.

I've never had a mole check with a dermatologist. I have a referral to see one, but I haven't made an appointment yet.

I need to be screened for the breast cancer gene. I'll ask about that about my six-month follow-up mammogram next month to check on the calcifications that are still in my right breast.

I haven't created a budget spreadsheet for at least five years.

My savings accounts and retirement accounts are as anemic as my body is.

I did not meet my goal of paying off all credit card debt by the end of the year.

We are woefully behind on our taxes.

All of this is going to change in 2012.

My first priority is health. My second priority is finances. With everything I do, I will ask myself, "Is this the healthiest choice I can make right now?" or, "Is this the best financial choice I can make right now?" and, in that order. For instance, is watching three episodes of Gossip Girl the healthiest choice I can make at that moment? No. I could do something more active. I could play Just Dance on the Wii with my girls, or go for a walk, or clean up clutter around the house, or prepare meals for the week, or go to bed and get a reasonable amount of sleep. Is watching three episodes of Gossip Girl before bed the best financial choice I can make at that moment? No. I could get tax paperwork together, or work on my 2012 budget spreadsheet, or list things for sale on Craigslist and eBay.

Health. Finances. That's it. If I can't get those two things under control, everything else falls apart. I'll still parent my children, and be a wife to my husband, and be a model employee, but I won't be taking any classes and I won't be making any committments to anyone else if there is something else I can be doing that would be better for my health and finances.


What doesn't kill me makes me awesomeI don't think I'm invincible, but I do think I'm unbreakable. I believe, with every ounce of my being, that there is nothing in this world that can happen to me from which I won't recover, emotionally. Nothing.

I consider all possibilities. What is the worst thing that can happen? How would I deal with it? I have the answers to those questions and, whether or not I am right, having thought about it gives me the strength to get through it. It's not morbid to think about those things. I am realistic and I know that the worst thing to happen isn't the likely thing to happen, but I want to be prepared. Loss of limb? Death of my spouse or my child or my sister? Loss of sight or hearing? Chronic or terminal disease? Loss of all of my worldly possessions? I've considered them all. I will be distraught if (when) one of those things comes to pass, but I will not be destroyed. One day, many days ahead, I will emerge on the other side.

Last year was the worst year of my life. At the low point of the worst year of my life, my mom was killed in a car accident. It was already bad before that, and it was worse after. 2010 was my nemesis, kicking me when I was down, throwing salt in my wounds, kneeling on my chest every time I tried to stand up. I don't believe that time heals all, but I know that every situation is temporary. My mom is never coming back -- that is permanent -- but every day since she died is a day that I lived, a day that has passed, a day that will never come again. Everything changes, and if I can continue to think, and act, and breathe, and be myself, then I can survive any situation. I may be changed, but I will also be whole, unbroken.

This life is the only one I get and I will never give up on myself.

Ten years ago, on 9/11

When I was single, I was a serial alarm snoozer. The alarm clock I used was 14 years old. The buzzer no longer worked, so I was roused to waking by a local FM station. Instead of the usual music at 6 AM Pacific, there was a news report. I hit the snooze button, so I didn't learn yet that a plane had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. While I slept for nine more minutes, a second plan crashed into the South Tower. I played the snooze button game for nearly an hour. Each time, a little more of the news reports seeped into my consciousness. When I heard the newscaster say that the South Tower had collapsed, I bolted out of bed and turned on the television in my bedroom.

I was stunned by the sight of the smoking tower that remained, and the hole where its twin had been. I was sitting at the end of my bed, in my pajamas, when the second tower fell. I gasped and my chest tightened. I could barely take another breath as tears sprang to my eyes. After many long minutes, I  tore myself away from the television. I couldn't bear to look at that empty space, to think of the people that had fallen with the tower, to imagine the heartache that was being felt, simultaneously across our nation. I popped into the bathroom long enough to pee and wash my face. I brushed my teeth in front of the TV, once again riveted by the news coverage.

Over the next hour, I slowly readied myself for work. When it seemed like nothing else catastrophic was going to happen, I drove to work. Traffic was lighter than usual. My boss, her eyes bright and manic, met me at the door and asked if I had heard. She queried everyone who entered. One coworker hadn't heard. He lived alone and only listened to CDs in the morning.

We sat at our desks, not working, sending each other links to news sites with streaming coverage that hadn't yet been overwhelmed. BBC was the most reliable. Coworkers with family in New York went home, or hadn't come in. Scheduled meetings occured, but attendance was spotty and agendas were ignored.

My boyfriend's mother was stranded in Chicago. She'd flown there from Michigan, hours before the attacks, on her way to California. I was throwing a surprise birthday party for my boyfriend's 30th birthday that Saturday. (The attacks occurred on a Tuesday.) She was going to stay with a friend, who would bring her to the party. No flights were going in or out of any airports. Eventually, she was able to fly. She arrived in California on Saturday, a couple hours before the party started.

I didn't learn an important lesson on September 11th. That day wasn't a catalyst for change in my life. I remember it like it was yesterday, though. That gasp. My chest tightening. The smoke and the rubble. The shared experience of our nation, united by tragedy. Shaken out of our daily routines. Our world shifted and never returned to what it had been before.

My schizophrenic drive to work, in photos

My drive to work is 40 miles long, with changing weather and terrain. This picture was taken in my neighborhood, about a quarter of a mile from my house.


This picture was taken about six miles away from my house, still in the same city.


These four pictures were taken in the canyon that connects the 101 freeway with Pacific Coast Highway.





These two pictures were taken on Pacific Coast Highway. You weren't thinking about going to the beach for Labor Day, were you? My drive was a little slower than usual on PCH this morning because of the high surf. Those surfers don't care what the weather is like.



To be honest, I expected it to be sunny at my office (a couple miles inland) in Santa Monica. Sorry to have to disappoint you about beach city weather in Southern California. I'm glad I wore a sweater today.


I'm adding Military Advisor to my resume


On my flight from L.A. to Dallas last week, I noticed the game my seating companion was playing on his iPhone. It was Connect 4! (I still need to download that.) I mentioned it and he said it was kicking his butt and that his kids had added it to his phone. We chatted about kids and iPhone games and then our reasons for being on that particular flight. He was headed back home to Mississippi from California, where he'd been traveling for business. He was a Colonel in the Air Force. We both talked about what our jobs entailed.

When he found out I was in business and working on my MBA, he asked me questions about transitioning out of a military career into the corporate world. I gave him lots of advice about how to position his experience, what sorts of networking and research he can do over the next couple of years before he retires, what level and salary he could expect, and so much more. I literally could not shut up.

I have never been so chatty on a flight, to a perfect stranger, before. That guy knows how much money I make, how old I am, where I grew up, where I went to college, how long I have been married, how old my children are, and who knows what else I spewed out of the course of our flight. He was so easy to talk to, though. He must have felt the same way, because I know all those same facts about him.

Anyway, I hope that he does take my advice about joining LinkedIn, so that we can reconnect and I can get him linked up with a couple of retired military guys I know who are now in the corporate world.

It isn't every day that I get to advise a Colonel in the Air Force.

Today is Friday, July 29, 2011

My MIL arrived last night. She is visiting for a couple weeks. The timing of her trip coincides with me going to the BlogHer conference in San Diego so that she can help out my husband with the girls. She always asks for a list of projects to do while she is here. Usually, I have a bunch of little things that need doing, but I guess I have been keeping my shit together this year. I have two big things for her to do: potty train the toddler, and organize the garage.

Potty training started this morning. We are using my patented No Pants Boot Camp method. So far, this has resulted in the toddler slipping in a puddle of her own pee three feet from the potty. I have high hopes for success.

My MIL and the girls are at the park right now. I am working from Panera. I usually work from home on Fridays, but we all had to be out of the house because the exterminator came this morning. We were being overrun by spiders. I'm going to take a lunch break soon to drop my jeans off at the tailor to be hemmed. I hope they are ready in time for BlogHer. After work, we're touring a new preschool/daycare that we'll likely start next month.

I had a good day yesterday.

I dropped off my girls at daycare in the morning, which is usually my husband's job. They looked so freaking adorable in their dresses over jeans. The little one is such a kisser.

In the morning, at work, I was on a conference call about the number of social media mentions for luxury car brands. There was some interesting demographic data that came out of it.

I drank the required amount of fluids yesterday and I remembered to take two multi-vitamins. I also remembered to order more vitamins and calcium online.

Two people complimented me on my hair. Another person complimented me on my fake eyelashes and used the word "smoldering." Two people mentioned that they can really tell I've lost weight now. The daycare provider said my shoes were "beautiful."

I had a productive afternoon meeting in which an issue that had been annoying me was resolved. Then, the meeting evolved into a long girly chat, which provided a nice break. I was able to accept sympathy about my mother's death without crying.

I met a lovely lady on and connected with her on Twitter as well. I'm looking forward to corresponding more with her and meeting her in Austin.

I went to my weight loss surgery support group meeting after work. They hold a clothing exchange before the meeting. I dropped off two bags of clothes that were too big for me and picked up half a dozen new shirts and a denim vest. At the meeting, we talked about prioritizing self-care above everything else. I don't do that. We made a goal for one thing we can work on over the next month and we're supposed to report back at the next meeting about how we did. My goal is to spend at least ten minutes a day outside and to eat my lunch outside twice a week. There are so many days when I go from house to car to office to car to house without ever spending more than a minute at a time outside. It's raining today, but I will at least leave the building and walk elsewhere to get my lunch. I'll walk slowly so that it takes me ten minutes.

While my sister was at my house, watching my girls while I was at the support group meeting, she cleaned my kitchen. After I put my older girl to bed, my sister and I watched The Big Bang Theory.

I had an email from my Business Law professor letting me know I received 100% on the case brief I turned in the day before. I finished another case brief while I watched American Idol.

I slept soundly the entire night with no weird dreams about pirates.

10 things I've never revealed before, for 10/10/10

  1. My feet grew with my second pregnancy and I now wear a size 10W shoe.
  2. I had my first kiss when I was 15. It was very nice. I don't remember the boy's name.
  3. When I take a class,the first thing I do is look at the syllabus and calculate the least amount of effort I need to expend in order to earn an A.
  4. I remember each of the five Bs I received in college and why I didn't receive As in those classes.
  5. My thumbs are short and squatty, and I usually try to hide them in pictures.
  6. I believe fertility treatments subvert the evolutionary process.
  7. After I typed that sentence, I looked up "subvert" to make sure I had used it properly.
  8. I lie every single day.
  9. The first diet I ever did was the Pritikin diet with my mom. I was twelve years old. I have been overweight (then obese, then morbidly obese) for two-thirds of my life.
  10. I am having gastric bypass surgery on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Choose Your Own Adventure

I used to write for a friend's web mag, Clark Schpiell Productions. This piece was published there November 3, 2003, when I was 29.

I recently stumbled onto a web site that was a spoof of those Choose Your Own Adventure  books that were popular when we were kids. In addition to the slightly nerdy sci-fi books, there was also a series of books for adolescent girls. As a slightly nerdy adolescent girl, I read a few of both.

I loved those books, but they also made me a little tense, which could explain quite a bit about why I am the way that I am. What if I made the wrong decision? I hesitated slightly before turning to the designated page. Once the decision had been made, however, the giddy excitement would build as I rushed to read my fate. (In case you are not familiar with these books, they are written in the second person: you are the protagonist.) The idea that I could go back and change my mind if I did not like the outcome of my decision, or if I simply wanted to see what happened if I made a different choice, was the most thrilling possibility I could imagine. It was easy not to have regrets when none of my decisions were final.

It is so much harder in real life. That is the struggle with 29. From this perspective, the paths that I have chosen are clearer than they have been in the past, and so are the paths that I have not chosen.

Continue reading "Choose Your Own Adventure" »