Wednesday, December 31, 2008

101 Things in 1001 Days

Happy 2009, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's Eve and recovered quickly from all the *ahem* celebration. I had a quiet night myself and am looking forward to an exciting year filled with new accomplishments, lots of love and laughter, and amazing experiences. Which brings me to this year's goals.

I heard about 100 Things in 1001 Days a while ago and thought it might be something I wanted to participate in. When I was reminded of it a few weeks ago, I decided that I'd make my list and get started on January 1st. The list of challenging goals that are both specific and measurable and can be attained over the next 1001 days (that's about 2.75 years) was not as easy to create as I thought it would be. It took me several days and a lot of creative thinking and brainstorming. The list I finally came up with is below, and my one resolution for 2009 is to actively pursue my 101 Things Project and track my progress at the end of each month.

My 101 Things Project (January 1, 2009 to September 28, 2011)

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific and measurable. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (they should take some effort).

The Key:
In Progress
Completed (Date)
Not Started

The List:

Health & Fitness

  1. Lose 25 pounds. (0/25)
  2. Participate in the CSA each year. (0/3)
  3. Go skiing. (0/1)
  4. Complete the Couch to 5K program. (0/1)
  5. Practice yoga 3 times per week for 8 weeks in a row. (If I miss a week, the 8 weeks starts again.) (0/8)
  6. Meditate 10 minutes every morning for 30 days. (If I miss a day, the 30 days starts again.) (0/30)
  7. Participate in a 30 day fast from refined sugar. (0/30)
  8. Give up caffeine. (0/1)
  9. Take my vitamins every day for 45 days. (If I miss a day, the 45 days starts again.) (0/45)
  10. Eat a vegetarian diet for 30 days. (If I miss a day, the 30 days starts again.) (0/30)
  11. Pick 10 slow-cooker recipes and try them all. (0/10)
  12. Do my monthly self-breast exams every month. (0/33)
  13. Eat locally for one month. (0/30)
  14. Participate in One Local Summer. (0/3)
  15. Can my own preserves, fruit and/or vegetables. (0/1)
  16. Give blood five times. (0/5)

Writing & Career

  1. Take a writing course. (0/1)
  2. Go to three writing conferences or retreats. (0/3)
  3. Review and update my website at least once every 3 months. (0/11)

  1. Finish the 1st draft of my novel. (0/1)
  2. Complete two rounds of edits on my novel. (0/2)
  3. Prepare a proposal for novel submission. (0/1)

  1. Submit FK essay to 10 more markets or until published. (0/10)
  2. Submit FILWB essay to 10 markets or until published. (0/10)
  3. Write book proposal for essay collection. (0/1)
  4. Submit book proposal for essay collection to 20 agents or until accepted. (0/20)

  1. Write and submit 10 separate queries for health and fitness articles. (0/10)
  2. Write a short story. (0/1)
  3. Submit an essay for “This I Believe”. (0/1)

  1. Finish and submit C8ANY book proposal. (0/1)

  1. Spend a weekend at a hotel (anywhere) writing. (0/1)
  2. Set a writing schedule for one month and stick with it. (0/1)
  3. Write and publish an e-book. (0/2)

General Self Improvement

  1. Read 30 books. (0/30)
  2. Buy a new digital camera. (0/1)
  3. Take a photography class. (0/1)
  4. Volunteer as a writing tutor or mentor.
  5. Take knitting lessons. (0/1)
  6. Knit a scarf. (0/1)
  7. Knit a hat. (0/1)
  8. Knit a blanket. (0/1)
  9. Learn a new language (Italian) and carry on a conversation in it. (0/2)
  10. Brush up on my Spanish and find a conversation partner to practice with. (0/2)
  11. Turn off the TV at least one evening a week. (0/142)
  12. Take swimming lessons. (0/1)


  1. Paint my dining room. (0/1)
  2. Buy a dining set. (0/1)
  3. Get 3 to 5 quotes for getting my roof replaced. (0/3)
  4. Schedule the sump pump installation. (0/1)
  5. Put up shelves in my office. (0/1)
  6. Hang the mirror in my living room. (0/1)
  7. Refinish the bookcase in my basement and move it to my office. (0/2)
  8. Install the programmable thermostat. (0/1)
  9. Get 3 – 5 quotes for central air conditioning installation. (0/3)
  10. Finish landscaping the edge of my backyard. (0/1)
  11. Clear out my “wild patch” and plant herbs there instead. (0/1)
  12. Make my bed everyday for 45 days. (If I miss a day, the 45 days starts again.) (0/45)
  13. Paint the kitchen. (0/1)
  14. Paint the bathroom. (0/1)
  15. Get my sewing machine fixed. (0/1)
  16. Make curtains for my bedroom. (0/1)


  1. Save monthly in a long-term emergency fund (for back-up when I go freelance full-time). (0/33)
  2. Pay off my car. (0/1)
  3. Reallocate my 401K funds. (0/1)
  4. Pay off my credit card every month. (0/33)
  5. Refrain from buying any magazines for 90 days. (0/90)


  1. Travel to Italy and take a walking tour of Tuscany. (0/2)
  2. Travel to Arizona to visit my sister. (0/1)
  3. See the Grand Canyon. (0/1)
  4. Travel to an island for a relaxing vacation. (0/1)
  5. Visit my friend in New Orleans. (0/1)
  6. Visit my friends in NC. (0/1)
  7. Go to BlogHer. (0/1)

For Fun

  1. Participate in NaNoWriMo. (0/1)
  2. Get at least three massages. (0/3)
  3. Plan a “me” day at least once a month. (0/33)
  4. Participate in and successfully complete Project 365. (0/365)
  5. Take a self-portrait every week. (0/142)
  6. See three plays and/or musicals. (0/3)
  7. Send 33 cards or letters. (0/33)
  8. Write a secret and send it into Post Secret. (0/1)
  9. Go to a concert and sing along to all the songs I know. (0/1)
  10. Send a surprise care package to three friends or family members. (0/3)
  11. Turn on a CD and dance in my underwear. (0/1)
  12. Ask a stranger to tell me his/her story and just listen. (0/1)
  13. Get a tattoo. (0/1)
  14. Buy myself a gift/flowers on the 5th of every month. (0/33)
  15. Have a dinner party. (0/1)
  16. Host a girls’ night. (0/1)
  17. Compliment a stranger 33 times. (0/33)
  18. Create 15 scrapbook pages. (0/15)
  19. Create a vision board. (0/1)
  20. Go to an NBA game. (0/1)
  21. Sit in the stands for a Ravens (or Cowboys) game. (0/1)
  22. Create 5 new playlists for my iPod with the following themes: Mellow Music; Dance in Your Underwear; Just Like High School; Summer Fun; Road Trippin’ (0/5)
  23. Watch a sunset. (0/1)
  24. Watch a sunrise. (0/1)
  25. Go to the movies by myself. (0/1)
  26. Meet a blog-friend in person. (0/1)
  27. Track my 101 in 1001 progress monthly. (0/33)
  28. Make a new list of 101 things. (0/1)
**Update: For more on my 101 Things list and my progress, visit my 101 Things in 1001 Days blog.**

Another Year Over...

It's time to say goodbye to 2008 and look forward to 2009. Looking back on my 2008 posts, I found the Year-End Meme that I completed last year, prompted by sognatrice over at bleeding espresso (who is continuing the tradition, as well), and decided to give it another go. As for 2009? Stop back later this week for my 2009 goals.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

Went to Dave & Buster's, ate at Benihana, read a personal essay in public, joined a CSA, started my own flower garden

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

As usual, I didn't make resolutions last year, per se, but I did create a Thursday Thirteen list of goals to accomplish in 2008. Without relisting them here, let's just say that (as usual) I did well with some of them and not so well with others.

I've decided to something a little different this year. I'll post about that tomorrow.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Two friends had a baby girls.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?


6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

Last year I said, "More focus on the things that I'm passionate about." I'd say this year I could stand more focus again. I would also like to have more time with my family and friends.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

August 23rd - they day I held New Lines in my hand and flipped to my very first printed essay.
November 4th - Yes, we can!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting my essay published in New Lines from the Old Line State.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not getting myself into a regular exercise routine again.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing more than a cold or two.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A new laptop and docking station

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

The presidential candidates

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Too many politicians to name

14. Where did most of your money go?

Into my house

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Planning a trip to visit my sister; having my essay published, reading that essay in front of real live people, and then reading it on the radio for everyone to hear.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

(a) happier; (b) I prefer to call it "thicker"; (c) richer...I got a promotion!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Being present no matter what I was doing...also reading, writing, submitting my work, and exercising

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Watching television (this seems to be a theme); eating; wishing I was doing something else

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With most of my family in my hometown

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

Still in love with My Love...and there was that stray kitty that stole (and then broke) my heart.

22. What was your favorite TV program?


23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No hate here.

24. What was the best book you read?

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Alanis Morissette's "Flavors of Entanglement"

26. What did you want and get?

A great new haircut, new windows for my house, a kinder attitude toward myself, new writing projects and an essay published in a book

27. What did you want and not get?

An engagement ring (again), a healthier (thinner) body, a book deal

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

The Dark Knight

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 32 and spent the day doing mundane tasks.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I had a really great year, but I think there are two things that would have made it more satisfying: 1) having been more dedicating to making healthy choices; and 2) having finished the book proposal project I've been working on.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?

I think I've become a bit more trendy over the last year, while still being relatively casual and professional. (Is that a concept?)

32. What kept you sane?

Cuddles with my kitty; time with My Love, my friends and my family; mini-vacations; blogging/writing; and lots of reading.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Paul Rudd

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

The Presidential election obviously

35. Who did you miss?

Several friends and my entire family. I felt very separated from important people this year. It wasn't the first year away from them all, but for some reason the distance seemed especially far.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I met several wonderful new people in 2007, but there were four women in particular that had some major impacts on my writing, thinking and/or living: Ann Bracken, Lisa Spahr, Marion Winik and Amanda Moxley.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

That gratitude is a powerful tool.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I have been running so sweaty my whole life urgent for a finish line
And I have been missing the rapture this whole time of being forever incomplete.
(Incomplete - Alanis Morissette)

How do you feel about 2008? Did you do all that you wanted to do? Was it a good year? Are you ready for 2009?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I'm fully engulfed in last-minute gift-getting, eating wonderful food, family activities, wrapping, did I say eating?, and all the fabulous traditions of the holiday season. But I wanted to take a moment out of all that to stop by and say hello. I hope you're all enjoying this time of the year, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or some other winter holiday.

I'm extremely grateful for this time to enjoy my family, the snow and the decorations. I find Christmas is always a great time for me to reflect on the year gone by and remind important people in my life how much they mean to me. So to all of my readers and internet friends:

Thank you for being such wonderful people. I deeply appreciate your comments and the connections we've made. And I wish you all a beautiful holiday and a blessed New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

TBR Challenge 2009 - It's That Time Again

I'm so glad I discovered the TBR (To Be Read) Challenge a few years ago, because it keeps me motivated to read those books I collect so compulsively. I'm glad to be a reader, but sometimes my love of books is bigger than the shelves I have to hold them.

The TBR Challenge for 2008 didn't go so well on my end. I got distracted by books for reviewing as well as new and used books hot off the shelves of the bookstore. I also seemed to have less time for reading this year, although I'm not exactly sure why. Priorities, I suppose. Anyway, I managed to read 7 wonderful books off my 2008 challenge list. I enjoyed every one of them and even added a few books by some of the same authors to my shelves. This is one of the benefits, as well as the curses of reading. As soon as I finish one book, I find I've added several more to my list of books I'd like to read. The more authors I find I enjoy, the more books I have to add to my shelves (physical or virtual).

Which brings me to my TBR List for 2009:
  1. I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

  2. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

  3. A Hand to Guide Me by Denzel Washington

  4. Writing Your Life by Lou Willett Stanek

  5. Hollywood Worldviews by Brian Godawa

  6. Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

  7. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

  8. Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David (Finished 8/20/09)

  9. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult (Finished 1/18/09)

  10. Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

  11. American Girls About Town edited by

  12. Girls' Night In edited by (Finished 3/11/09)
Several of these were on my list from last year (and the year before), but I'm hoping to plow through many of them this year. While 12 is the goal of this challenge, and 24 might be a miracle, 15 or so shouldn't be too high of a bar to set. So just in case I get through the 12 above, or I find I just can't get through some of them, here's this year's alternates list.

  1. The Ha-Ha by David King

  2. Writing Articles from the Heart by Marjorie Holmes

  3. Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach

  4. Trudy's Promise by Marcia Preston

  5. Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

  6. The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman

  7. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

  8. Songs of a Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult (Finished 4/26/09)

  9. Mercy by Jodi Picoult (Finished 2/22/09)

  10. Lisey's Story by Stephen King

  11. I'm Not the New Me by Wendy Mclure (Finished 10/29/09)

  12. Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

If you want to join the challenge, visit the official challenge site and sign up. There's always room for more readers (if not for more books).

Have you read any of these books? Any suggestions on where I should start?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Question Me Good - Pt. 16

We've come to the end of the Question Me Good series. My final question was a great writing prompt. You wouldn't believe all the scenes that I jotted down when I started working on my answer. If you're looking for something to get the writing juices flowing, you should give this one a try.

Shelby asks: What are the sounds that you remember from long ago, or when you hear a random sound, does it ever trigger a memory? Talk about the sounds and memories.

Songs are the most powerful memory triggers for me.

There's "Come to My Window", which reminds me of a particular early summer day, right after I finished taking a Regents exam. My mom picked me up and the song was on the radio.

The one and only time I ever danced with a particular crush was to "Groovy Kind of Love" at a school dance. He was wearing Obsession and I was wearing a green striped drop-waist dress.

I remember being rather young and riding in the car with my mom singing "I Am Woman" at the top of our lungs.

I also remember dancing in my bedroom while listening to my records: the Chipmunks Christmas album in particular.

There was a summer day when my extended family was visiting and I played my George Michael tape on my boom box while I read on lounge chair in the yard and everyone else ran around playing and yelling.

It's pretty amazing what scenes of my life I can remember when a song comes on the radio or into my mind. Music seems to connect me to moments that were important in my life, but also to moments that were otherwise pretty everyday and insignificant. I'm thankful for that, because I feel like it's those everyday moments that made me who I am.

What sounds trigger memories for you?

If you're just tuning in, check the rest of the series.

Monday, December 15, 2008

She's Alive!

Hi everyone! I bet you thought I'd gone MIA and you were going to have to send out a search party for me. Or that I'd been abducted by aliens never to be seen again. Or that I had enlisted in the Peace Corp and was off to Africa.

Nothing that exciting, though.

It's just been a busy couple of weeks and after a month of blogging almost every day, I didn't figure you'd miss me much. Unfortunately, a couple days' break turned into a couple weeks. I hope you're all well. I've missed you!

Since I last blogged I:

  • Almost finished my Christmas shopping and started packing gifts up for my holiday visit back home
  • Shopped at the farmer's market for the last time until spring
  • Attended my company's holiday party and had a great time
  • Worked two games at M&T Bank Stadium, including the disappointing Ravens-Steelers game last night (so, so sad...and we were robbed!)
  • Traveled to D.C. by car/metro for a three days to attend a training in Project Management (Have I mentioned how much I love public transportation? Seriously. I wish I could take the metro to work every day. I read 1/2 a book in three days!)
  • Met some really great people and learned A LOT about managing projects
  • Decided I won't be sending out holiday cards this year because I just don't have the time
  • Saw Four Christmases and Nothing Like the Holidays at the theater and watched Smart People from the comfort of my couch
  • Enjoyed a play at Everyman Theatre
I haven't been getting much sleep, but I've been enjoying December and getting excited about 2009. Hope you're all having fun this month and aren't getting bogged down in the holiday rush. If you are, check out a couple of my articles at Healthy Bliss for some great tips on handling the holidays.

And there's one more post for the Question Me Good series, so I'll be sure to get that up this week. Have a great Monday!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Question Me Good - Pt. 15

I'm nearing the end of the current question bank, so if you haven't asked me a question and you'd like to, go here and submit your queries. For today's Question Me Good post, nejyerf gave me a fun little exercise.

Below is a list of song titles and/or lyrics that are in the form of a question. You can either tell us the song/singer or give us an answer or both. Challenge!!

Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near? (Close to You - Carpenters)

Because my hair looks like a nest.

Why can't this be love? (Van Halen)

Because you're married and I'm practically engaged.

What's love got to do with it? (Tina Turner)


Who let the dogs out? (? I don't know without cheating.)

There are no dogs, only cats.

Who says you can't go home? (Bon Jovi)

The little voices that remind me how long the drive is...what? Can't you hear them?

Where do broken hearts go? (Whitney Houston)

To take a hot, candle-lit bath with a good book and a glass of wine.

When will I be loved? (? Again, don't know without cheating.)

Right now--you're loved more than you know!

If you've got a burning question for me but haven't had a chance to ask it, you can go to the original post and leave your question in a comment. I'll keep answering a question or two a day until they're all answered.

If you're just tuning in, check out the rest of the series.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Do You Need Africa?

Last week I posted about why I need Africa and introduced you to the Mocha Club. Today they're launching an all-out campaign to remind people why they need Africa. I encourage you to read the information below, check out the YouTube video and go to their site to learn more about Mocha Club.

(From Mocha Club)


When I think of Africa, the following images immediately come to mind: Starvation. AIDS. Child soldiers. Genocide. Sex slaves. Orphans. From there, my thoughts naturally turn to how I can help, how I can make a difference. “I am needed here,” I think. “They have so little, and I have so much.” It’s true, there are great tragedies playing out in Africa everyday. There is often a level of suffering here that is unimaginable until you have seen it, and even then it is difficult to believe. But what is even harder is reconciling the challenges that many Africans face with the joy I see in the people. It’s a joy that comes from somewhere I cannot fathom, not within the framework that has been my life to this day. [read more]

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