Tuesday, January 29, 2019

What if I'm not a Writer?

I've mentioned this before. My first book I ever wrote was a few chapters long. Each page was a new chapter. I was in second or third grade. The book was about unicorns that lived on another planet. "Do you like writing?" my teacher asked me.

"Well, I don't like moving the pencil back and forth but I like telling stories," I replied. That was because I didn't know if she meant writing like..writing stories or writing like penmanship. I didn't have the patience for penmanship. 

I've been telling stories ever since. 

Besides a ridiculously strong empathy complex, writing has always been my superpower. I'd help friends with papers, I'd edit clients' work, I'd write profound posts on life's happenings that my friends would share. I'd journal. I'd blog. I still do many of these things. However, recently, I've begun to slip down the slide of self-doubt. Influences in my life, some of which have been put in place to make me a better and stronger writer, have tended to a garden of insecurity.

My current full-time role has seen a shift in responsibilities. Many writing projects are being shared with freelance writers....the very role I'm striving to become. Is my work sub-par? Am I not as good as everyone once said I was? Why are these writers a better fit? If I'm not writing...what am I doing here?

At my part-time gig, which I love dearly, I now have been challenged to "step out of my comfort zone" and my work is seeing sharper editing and challenging to elevate it to brilliance. Have I been naive enough to think I had been grazing brilliance every time? Shit, I thought I was great. Apparently I have a lot to learn. 

That is the problem with riding the compliment wave. Everything you do gets praise and when the praise turns into critiques, it is hard not to assume you suddenly suck. Instead of seeing the critiques as growth and learning opportunities and a chance to home in on my craft, I'm doing what I always do. I'm taking them personally. 

If I am not a writer...what the hell am I? I'm certainly not a journalist because I have never been able to break into that challenging and yet dying field full-time. I'm not a marketer because I never was one. I'm a PR person by profession but I do not have the skills to be a PR mogul. I also find press releases to be boring and constricting. If I'm not a writer...I don't know what I am. Perhaps I am still a writer...just not a good one. 

This brain dump is just a way for me to process some things. As January roars to a close, I've lost 10lbs, felt like I was on a different level of conscience all month, bathed myself in unwavering positivity and tried really hard to make each day count. It was exhausting and it was exceptional. Now I'm questioning things. What am I? Who am I? 

I think I need to identify the pitfalls in my writing and seek professional help to fix them. Perhaps a writing course or writing workshop. I need some sort of development to improve my writing skills. After all, are any of us true masters? We spend our lives perfecting our works and elevating our skills. Clearly I need to do that. I need to take myself out of the "great writer" space and put myself back on the path of a novice learning to craft a sentence. 

To new beginnings or something optimistic like that. *clink*

Until next time...

Friday, January 4, 2019

2018: A Year In Review

It is that time again! Okay, well, actually it is a little bit late but here we are. 2018 a Year in Review:

I started off the year with a bang. I was drinking 64oz of water each day, exercises, caught up with my RTC clients, and felt focused. I started the SELF New Year Challenge which gave me circuit workouts to do each day. But as all things, that tapered off by the end of the month. Work exhausted me, it got cold, I stopped finding the time to work out and I hadn't read a book yet. 

February was an incredible month. THE EAGLES WON THE SUPER BOWL!!!! I got to watch the game with some close friends at my favorite local brewery. We had a table right by the TV and ate and drank beer all night. When we clinched the title, we ran out onto Broad street and celebrated with all of Philadelphia. I was drinking champagne from the bottle and wielding an Eagles towel. 
I was so excited I almost had an asthma attack on my way to Broad. I walked all the way up from Synder to Broad and Washington, high fiving strangers and going on Facebook Live. Some guy proposed to me and a bunch of random people would just jump in my selfies. I took off work a few days later so I could experience the parade as well. I will never forget it. It is a story to tell my kids someday. 

I also got a chance to be a pretty pretty princess. My friend Kailah gave me a ticket to the annual Philadelphia Auto Show Black Tie Tailgate, which is this super swanky gala that benefits CHOP. 
We got ready at her hotel and then Uber Blacked our way to the gala. Stepping out of a beautiful SUV onto a red carpet was something special. We enjoyed an open bar and food all night long. Plus there were pretty cars we could touch and take pictures with. It was a good time. 
And here is one of the parade. It was important. There is Coach Doug and Carson Wentz. Nick Foles is next to him in the hat. PURE JOY. Best day ever. Seriously. 

In March I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show with my best friend David. We did the butterfly room again and I enjoyed sampling the spirits at the Wine and Spirits booth. 

Also in March, I completed a successful "run every day" challenge." Each day I ran or ran/walked 1 mile throughout the month of March. We experienced FOUR Nor'Easters last year in that month so there were some snow miles in there too. it was cold as hell but I did my last mile on the sunny Eastern Shore of VA. I had to drop my kid off with my parents because I had a very exciting adventure planned for April. 

In April I went on a solo adventure to Arizona and Utah. I began my travels in Phoenix and then drove to Scottsdale where I stayed at the most amazing AirBnB. I really felt like I was home. I got to visit my favorite bar out there, Old Town Gringos and the manager hooked me up with free swag and a house margarita. I also, finally, finished the hike I started a few years ago on a desert preserve. After a day in Scottsdale, I drove up to Sedona, Arizona. 

Sedona was tricky. I faced crippling anxiety for no reason AND I couldn't breathe. I was breathing fine in Scottsdale but with the altitude change, I was coughing the entire time. It was crazy and I was pissed because Sedona is a hikers mecca. They say the vortexes can make you feel things when you're there. I swear mine amplified my anxiety. I still found ways to have fun like getting a full body massage, trying acupuncture for the first time, eating dinner at my favorite restaurant there and hiking. I did a seven mile hike where I wasn't sure I would make it off the trail! (It was hard and everything hurt). My time in Sedona made me realize I needed to make my health a priority. 

After Sedona I drove all the way to Utah. It was a long drive and I was tired from not getting enough sleep the night before but once I entered Zion National Park, everything changed. It is by far my favorite national park and the most beautiful place. I fell in love. I wanted to try the hardest hike they have, the treacherous Angel's Landing, by I knew my lungs were not up to snuff. I was still coughing. I did, however, have the chance to hike part of The Narrows, where you hike IN a river in a canyon. 
I was so damn happy even though I didn't pay to get the water pants and boots. I loved Zion so much I wanted to return the next day but my receipt aka my ticket blew off the dash when I was taking pictures exiting the park. It was for the best. I went to stay at a lodge in Kanab before heading over to Bryce Canyon National Park. 
It SNOWED. Which was crazy. I didn't do much hiking because my lungs were shot. I was coughing every few minutes and I knew I didn't have the physical fitness to successfully hike down and back up the canyon. I drove it though! You can drive throughout the park and stop at all the overlooks. So I did, in the snow and it was beautiful. After Bryce I drove to Hatch where I spent the night in a beautiful little mountainside yurt. It was such a cool experience. Then I drove all the way from Utah to Scottsdale where I spent one more night in my favorite AirBnB before flying home the next day. 

Solo adventuring is amazing and I highly recommend it. I'm considering a Colorado/Utah trip this year if I can swing it. 

Upon returning, I took Bronx to Sea Isle for a romp around the Shore before the season starts. 
He had so much fun! He hates water but loves the beach. He likes chasing the shorebirds and running in the sand. It makes me so happy to see him so happy. I try to take him once a year when dogs are allowed on the beach. 

I also did the Run for Clean Air with Bronx and my friends Maura and Sharon. Then as April roared to a close I got to meet one of my heroes. The only person to get through to me when I needed it the most: Badass motivator Jen Sincero. I went to one of her book signing talks and got to get my picture with her. OMG, swoon. She is amazing and she told me to keep writing. 

May is when things started to take a turn for the worst. I had to work 2 weeks nonstop (including weekends) for a work project. I had one day off and it was for the Broad Street Run which I ran my slowest time ever. It was brutal. My knee hurt, my lungs were busted and I just wasn't in fighting shape. After that I had fun with my friend Ramya and spent quality time outdoors with B. 

I took a "big girl" fashion risk and wore a crop top to a 90's concert and party. I think I pulled the look off quite well. 
I also took my kickboxing partner to see Philly Bloco for her birthday. We had a blast. 
OH and I cut my hair! That happened in June as well. 
In July I attended my first ever Daybreaker rave where I did yoga in the morning and a sober dance party right after. The energy was lit! Then I took Bronx to City Hall for the annual Patriotic Pup contest. He was the poster dog this year! They used an old photo of him to promote the contest. This year I dressed him up as the statue of liberty. The contest was peer voted and ran two days. There were a total of 18 dogs. Winner would win a Bud Light gas grill. So....
Yeah, we won. By a landslide! I was so happy! I didn't have space for the grill at that moment but I strapped it into my Kia Soul, drove it to my apartment, carried it up three flights of stairs and stored it in my front room under my coat rack. haha

August was another crazy month. I went to Sea Isle, I attended the retirement game for Shane Victorino, my favorite Phillies player. I almost cried during his speech. It was also in August that I made a big decision. It was time to move. My landlords were selling my building and I didn't want to stick around to see what would happen. If my rent went up, I wanted more amenities. So I pulled the trigger and found my third home on Craigslist in a row! This time my dreams came true. I applied for a row home in the Whitman neighborhood of Philly. It had a basement with a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, two bedrooms and a yard. I got it! 

And I would move right after my 31st birthday, making my birthday a bit anticlimactic. 
But right after my birthday I participated in the Yoga on the Outfield event on the Phillies outfield followed by an open bar/brunch in the Diamond club. 
It was epic. 

Then I moved. 

It was exhausting. But I hired movers this time so it wasn't as stressful as it could have been and I had some friends help me which was great. I've been in the house four months now and I LOVE it. 

In September I decided to attend the first ever MOGUL X event in NYC. I had been writing for Mogul for almost two years so it seemed like a good idea. I got to meet CEO Tiffany Pham and have her sign her book for me. I attended cool sessions and met some interesting people. I felt a bit out of my league as the fashionistas of New York were there and I was bumbling around in ripped up jeans and a blazer, but I still had fun. 

Toward the end of September I attended a Gatsby-themed event at the Franklin Institute with my friend Kailah. 
We enjoyed speakeasy-like cocktails, jazz and costume watching. I also took B to the South Philly Sasuagefest. 

I was supposed to go camping with my parents in September. I was looking forward to it because kids were in school and it was going to be wine weekend at the campground. Unfortunately, the weather had different plans. A hurricane hit the area and my parents had to evacuate back to their home. I came down anyway and we had a "non-vacation" where we spent the whole time making fun of the fact we were not on vacation. We made the best of it. 

In October I got to decorate my house for Halloween! I also went to the Endless Summer Show at Xfinity Live! David and I payed for VIP access which also meant a buffet and personal viewing area. A lot of bands I liked were playing and the weather was perfect for a fall show. 

The VERY NEXT DAY, David and I drove to Jim Thorpe, PA where I would go on the hardest and scariest hike of my life. First off, I brought my mountain goat aka puppers who had been having trouble walking with one of his paws. Second, it had rained ALOT so the rocks were hella slippery. Third, it was just hard hiking with a dog. I had to pick him up and have other people pick him up and place him on rocks. On one occasion, Bronx slipped on a rock and was dangling by his harness/leash. Thank GOD I wore a runners leash with a bungee cord. That meant B was literally strapped to my torso so if he went somewhere I'd go with him. We had some close calls but the waterfalls were beautiful. I think I'd happily go again but I'd have to leave B home. 

I kept thinking about the close calls over the next few days and how I could have injured or even lost my dog on that damn trail. 

After the hike of death, I had a single day conference in Baltimore. I decided to drop B off with my parents and take two days in Baltimore so I could explore. I had never been before despite living so close to it. I got to visit the first ever Catholic Cathedral, Edgar Allen Poe's grave, Little Italy and the Harbor. I even went to the National Aquarium. 

As October came to a close, my friend Maura and I went to a bar to watch the Eagles morning game taking place in London. That meant BREAKFAST BEERS! The bar also had a raffle contest for a Yeti cooler. Maura and I combined our tickets to try to win the damn thing. 

AND WE DID! Maura lets me keep it at my house but if she ever needs it, it is all hers. It looks great with my Bud Light Grill. 

My high school friend Chrystal was supposed to get married in September but the stupid hurricane nixed those plans. She had to reschedule for November. I was so glad I could make the new date. 

I spent November trying to survive work. I did some community service just for fun by helping clean up my local park. Then I got to host my first ever FRIENDSGIVING at my house! I cooked a turkey for the first time and had some friends over. It went perfectly. I even got a shirt made for the occasion. 
Shortly after Friendsgiving, I attended the Philadelphia Writer's Workshop where I pitched my non-fiction book to an agent. She requested my proposal and I'm really excited about seeking representation for it!

December was filled with tradition and friends and even an unexpected roommate. I went to see the Philadelphia Christmas light shows, celebrated a good friend's birthday, went to Longwood Gardens to see their Christmas displays and then went home for Christmas. I also had two stories published in Milestones, the Philadelphia Corporation for the Aging's monthly newspaper. It was the first time I had a print byline in awhile. I also ended the year grateful for my RTC clients. That work really fulfills me. 

All in all it was a pretty good year. It was a hard year as well. I learned a lot about what I need to do in my life to be happy. I am getting a better sense of what my purpose is. I'm so grateful for the collection of friends I have worked on gathering and this has by far been my most social of years in awhile. I am still madly in love with Philadelphia and I have to say, I have a good feeling about 2019. 

Big things are going to happen. 

Until next time....

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Follow Along

Hey friends! I've started a new blog to document a challenge journey I'm on. I'll be posting there until the challenge is done. Then I'll be right back here! Follow along at thesevendayswitch.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Yo, What's Up Blogger Fam?

My last post was June 2018. I'm sure many of you thought the 9 year old blog was over. Perhaps it was done for good, left to die on the internet. 

Never. I want to keep this thing going as long as I can. 

I'll get you up to speed.

I kicked off the month by going to a "Saved by the 90's" party all by myself. I had friends who were supposed to go but they bailed so I went solo. I wore a crop top, skinny jeans, a hat and tied a flannel plaid shirt around my waist. It was an outfit well out of my comfort zone. I tried my best to act natural and really "own" the look.I think I did a good job! I stayed for the live portion of the party and then ventured back home, just pleased I took a little fashion risk and stuck with it for the night. 

I also cut off all my hair at an exclusive studio in Center City. I was on a wait list to get an appointment there! I had to take off work for the appointment but it was worth it. 
June was full of music. I saw Nathanial Rateliff and the Nightsweats. I took my kickboxing bff to see Philly Bloco live in West Philly (we had a great night of drinking and dancing). And I went home to the ESVA to surprise my dad for Father's Day. 

The highlight of June came toward the back end. I attended my first ever "Daybreaker Yoga Rave." It started at 10am with an hour of yoga followed by two hours of dancing through the decades. No alcohol, just pure fun and organic snacks. The community was incredibly judge-free and you really felt a part of something. The goal was to get out there and dance. That was it. I went with my friend Maura and we had a ball. I almost got emotional at one point during a spoken word set because I felt so grateful to be a part of that morning. Loved it. 

That afternoon, I got Bronx dressed up for the Patriotic Pooch Contest at City Hall. Center City District had used a photo of B from last year to promote the contest. I decked him out as the Statue of Liberty and we put our best paws forward. The contest was a two-day contest that was peer-judged. 18 dogs entered and the winner would get a Bud Light Gas Grill. Last year when I entered Bronx, we arrived five minutes after the judging! We were actually told if we got there a few minutes prior, he would have won. Bronx didn't care. He was just glad to be out of the apartment and on an adventure but I felt like I let him down. So I went full-on pageant mom. I even had a social media campaign "Vote for #8."

Two days after the contest we got a call. Bronx won. He won by a landslide. 
So we went to pickup our grill! I tied my trunk semi closed and drove 3 miles an hour back to South Philly. I then carried the grill up 3 flights of steps and let it rest in my front room of my apartment. I promised Bronx some hot dogs when we were finally able to fire it up. 


Of course I kicked off July by doing all the 4th of July Philly things including watching Rocky on the Art Museum steps and attending the Party on the Parkway. I won tickets to the concert seats this year but it was ungodly hot. Instead I went to a friend of a friend's bbq and ended up watching the fireworks on top of a rooftop bar in South Philly. 

In mid-July I attended a crabfest with my best friend. It was that night when I received a text from my landlord. They needed to show my apartment in two days. They were selling my building. Their goal was to keep the tenants in place at the rents we're paying, but I knew better. At my last apartment, two months after I moved out, the landlord slapped 30 day notices on all the doors because he sold the building. Now I had a dog, which meant finding a new place to live would be difficult. I decided to be proactive and search.

My work life got mega complicated to the point I thought I might lose my job. I began to wonder what the future had in store for me because my life was mega-interrupted. 

Fortunately I got my answer somewhat quickly. After some baseline searching on the internet, I ended up visiting a two bedroom house that was for rent in the neighborhood I was hoping to move to. I applied, got it and signed a new lease for mid-August. I'd be moving from a third floor walk up to a house! I'd finally get to use that grill Bronx and I won. 

August was an insane blur. I was packing and writing and preparing for the big move. My parents came to visit me the week before I was set to move which was very helpful. We cleaned the new house from top to bottom and packed up my kitchen (which took an entire day). I was purging things left and right but still felt like I had too much stuff. 

August continued to fly by and before I knew it, it was my 31st birthday AND moving weekend. That's right. I moved two days after my birthday. It was almost anticlimactic but friends and family made my day special. I did go to Ray's Happy Birthday Bar for my birthday shot and enjoyed traditional vanilla cake with Bronx back in my kitchen. 
Two days later I moved. I made more trips up and down my three flights of stairs than I hope I ever have to make again. I had friends help me here and there and I hired movers this time which was a huge help. Next thing I know, everything is in my house and I'm surrounded by a hoard of boxes. Time to unpack. 

So here we are! In the meantime I've been writing a lot for MOGUL. This weekend I'm headed to New York for a single day conference put on by MOGUL. I'm excited to meet the CEO and some of the people I write for. I've also been MAD busy with RTC. I have five active clients so there is always writing or editing work that needs to be done. I absolutely love it, I just wish I could dedicate more of my time to it. 

Stay tuned for more updates that won't take three months to put here!

Until next time....

Friday, June 8, 2018

Alive and Well

Hi friends! This is just a note that I'm alive and well. I promise to post an update soon. I've been very busy writing for Round Table Companies, MOGUL and doing freelance projects.

Until next time...

Monday, February 19, 2018

Boom Chakra Chakra

I know I've been venting a bit on this blog about feeling off balance and feeling like I can't juggle all of my goals while surviving and being a decent human being. Well, this time, I'm not here to vent. I'm here to tell you I'm doing something about all of that. 

Also, I owe you guys a Super Bowl and Super Bowl Parade post. I think I'll do that later in the week for a February wrap up or something. 

Anyway, I decided to explore some ways to instill balance in my life. One of those things was the purchase of essential oils. I only have a six pack and they're blended for very specific things: stress, head relief, muscle relief, sleep, breathing, health. But I also bought mini inhalers, like these lipstick tube-like things that let you put some oils on a cotton wick to smell throughout the day. AND I bought an essential oil diffuser. I know a lot of people who swear by these oils and believe me, I though it sounded stupid. Oh, right...smelling random crap can make you feel better? 

Yes it can. The sleep one? Yeah, that thing knocks me out and I have the most restful sleep. I had a massive wine hangover on Saturday. I plugged it in and diffused my "head relief" oil and took a nap. I felt so much better. 

I am also trying to learn more about the chakras. You know, those seven energy centers within the body? I think if I learn more about them I might be able to figure out how to hack meditation. I can't meditate. If I sit still with myself I start worrying about all the things I should be doing instead of sitting still. So maybe focusing on certain energy centers might help me.

But that's not all. I'm so excited to announce that I have booked a trip to Arizona and Utah for April! Lately I've been feeling called to the red rocks of Arizona. I just have a strong desire to go out there and hike and be warm and breathe in the clean air. Something is out there that I need, I just don't know what it is. So I'm going on a solo trip to Scottsdale, Sedona, Kanab, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Flagstaff. I haven't been on a "Mary Anna vacation" in years. Typically when I have time off I go to Virginia for the holiday or break or go camping with my parents. 

I'm also excited that I get to go alone. I'm going to do a lot of hiking. There is a remote Yurt stay at some point as well. I just need to clear my head. In addition to all of this, I'm exploring purpose and passion books/webinars and various things. I have a pretty good idea what I want to do with the rest of my life, I just don't have a tangible way to turn my life into just that. 

Until next time...

Monday, February 12, 2018

Making the Most of It

It being....life. 

We're almost halfway through February 2018. Where does the time go? What do we spend our time doing? 

This morning, like nearly every Monday morning, I was greeted with social media posts of memes and cartoons. Each of these entertaining tidbits had a common theme: Mondays suck...don't want to go back to work. 

They're cute, bite-sized and damn well relatable. "Case of the Mondays?" Who does't have that? If we're lucky we get two precious days to ourselves. We spend those two precious days doing all of the things we don't have time to do on the days we spend at work. Those tasks include but are not limited to: laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, errands, housework, organizing, more work and if you have a family...well...doing things for your partner/kids..etc. 

We go to bed on Sunday and wake up Monday morning. Another week. 

I really struggle with that feeling of dreading Mondays. I struggle with the paralyzing anxiety that comes Sunday night, wondering if I got everything done, hoping I did everything I could to prepare for the week ahead. While I chuckle and raise my coffee above my head to toast the Monday Sucks Meme Posters, I also feel a bit of sadness. Why do we have to hate Mondays? Why do we have to dread work? Why do we have to roll our eyes at the endless torrent of meetings and e-mails? Why do we need to zone out with Netflix or grab a drink at the bar to ease the stress and tensions caused by things that don't really matter?

I know, I'm offering a plethora of questions with little to no answers. It is just, I spent my entire weekend working to feel okay about the week. I was searching for balance. I was searching for a sense of control over my life. I fell off the exercise train, no surprise there. I've been celebrating the Eagles Super Bowl win hard (post on that to come later). (Somehow did NOT gain weight despite the amount of beer/wings I consumed). But I put all this effort into preparation and now we're here. It is Monday. I want to be back home, with my dog, listening to music or writing or daydreaming while watching the wind blow the trees outside my window. 

You don't have to live a life where you dread Mondays. No job is perfect, but people need to really work hard to develop a plan that allows them to be financially stable AND happy. I'm not saying every single day is sunshine and rainbows, but dammit...create a life you can't wait to wake up to each morning.

That is what I'm trying to do. It is hard. There are so many detours. But that is the life I want. The kind of life where when you see the Monday Sucks memes you just shake your head and say, "Not my Monday. My Monday is awesome."

Until next time...

What if I'm not a Writer?

I've mentioned this before. My first book I ever wrote was a few chapters long. Each page was a new chapter. I was in second or third ...