Happy New Year!: A Look at My New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!: A Look at My New Year’s Resolutions

I love New Year’s resolutions! I know a lot of people think they’re a waste of time, and for a lot of people, they might be. But for me, I’ve been nothing but happy with taking the time to define my year. Many of my resolutions stay the same every year because it’s almost as if I’m defining my life standards, in addition to setting the bar higher. For me, it works best to do both.

I also choose a word or phrase to define the year and then organize my resolutions for the year by category. For the year 2015, my word was “adventure.” I chose that word because I was pregnant with my son. I was experiencing pregnancy, having a baby, becoming a Mom, and then actually caring for a newborn. And let me tell you, what an adventure it was! For 2016, I chose the word “fearless.” I wanted to spend less time thinking about what everyone else was thinking and instead just living and loving my own life.

Read on to see what I am focusing on in 2017!

My “Word” of the Year

I always choose a word of the year, but this year, a phrase is what kept coming to me. That phrase is “lead with love.” That’s what I’m going to focus my entire year on. I plan to focus on that in my work, personal, and passion project lives. For me, leading with love means caring for people above all else, loving yourself and showing others how they can care for themselves too, and taking the initiative to do great things.

This year, I’m letting the phrase “lead with love” tie into one of my overall New Year’s resolutions – to lessen the suffering of others. I make this a goal every year,  whether it’s donating to someone who needs the money or volunteering my time to a worthwhile project. I think that leading with love is going to help me lessen the suffering of others in 2017.

Health Resolutions

I am going to do my morning exercises every day, something I incorporated this year with regularity. I definitely want this to be a key part of my 2017. It centers me, reduces my anxiety, and lets me excel in all aspects of my life. I do a personally created blend of yoga, squats, weights, Pilates, Betsy Wetzig exercises (a class I took in college), plus planking. I am going to incorporate Tabata exercises 3 times a week. I am hoping Tabata exercises will get me the cardio I desperately need.

I also want to walk an hour a day, outside my commute and around the office walking. Walking has always helped me think, plus getting outside provides me balance, especially in the middle of the day. My hope is this walking can be incorporated in my walking my sweet dog Bronte and taking a brisk walk during my lunch.

Several of my health resolutions revolve around food. For the past 2 years, I have made our pizza instead of ordering it, and I would like to continue that practice. I’ve tried to make our bread and rolls as well, but haven’t gotten in a good routine for that and want to get better in 2017. I also want to pack my lunch every day for work and drink my coffee at home or bring it with me. This helps me both health wise, but also financially. Ordering food and coffee out gets pricey!

I also want to make my own sweets instead of buying sweets either out from a bakery or eating processed foods. I have a huge sweet tooth, which is obviously not great for my health. I am going to work this year to incorporate healthy sweet recipes from my friend and super health coach Shelly Robinson. Gosh, I love this woman, and her recipes are scrumptious. I want to rock her fudge out all year long.

Financial Resolutions

Every year I create a budget, and every year, it becomes more of a guideline. Not. This. Year. I am making my budget, and I am following it. Obviously since that’s failed so horribly, I am going to be reading Tapping into Wealth by Margaret Lynch to help get me in the correct money mindset. I will also be saving money according to my budget. This is my money year! Totally.

Personal Habits

I have a horrible habit. It’s really terrible, and I can barely type the words.

Breathe, I can do this…

I’m late. All the time.

It’s genetic, I swear. My father is late for everything. Everything! People tell my family a different time so we’ll show up at whatever the event is on time.

But no more, for me, anyway! This is the year of Cristin being on time for everything!

Spiritual Resolutions

As a part of my morning routine, I have done a micro meditation and a visualization exercise, and both really work for me. I want to continue to incorporate them into 2017 and to grow them to be even more useful for me.

Education Resolutions

Every year, I pledge to read 52 books, and I always do, but not in 2016. It’s the first year I have not hit my goal. However, in 2016, I won in other ways, including: writing daily, listening to podcasts, and experiencing new music, something that’s really important to me. I also always try to watch 12 movies a year, and never, ever do, and this year I watched 3 times as many! So even though I didn’t hit my book goal, I did pretty darn good on my resolutions. I’m keeping all of these for 2017, but I’m also going to try and watch theatrical recordings (since I can’t really get out to plays anymore), read 25 plays, and watch 3 dance production recordings (again, no outside time for Mama).

*****

There you have my New Year’s resolutions for 2017! What are yours? Let me know in the comments.

TNW17: Outdoor Adventures for You and Your Child with Rebecca P. Cohen and Marni Penning Coleman

TNW17: Outdoor Adventures for You and Your Child with Rebecca P. Cohen and Marni Penning Coleman

About this episode

Adventure awaits you in the great outdoors, or your own backyard if you can use your imagination! And if you need a place to get started or a little help, PJ is here to help in the wonderful children’s series PJ’s Backyard Adventures. Today’s interview, my first duo interview, features notable women Rebecca P. Cohen, author, and Marni Penning Coleman, illustrator. Marni is a friend of my dear love Tia Shearer Bassett (from The Notable Woman Podcast Episode 1 fame), and she reached out to me about being on the show with Rebecca. I have wanted to get authors and illustrators on the show so I was super happy to be introduced to them and was totally floored to discover during the interview that they are sisters. How cool is that?

In our conversation, we talk about outdoor play, why it’s important for both adults and kids, and how we can incorporate it in our lives even when it’s cold! We also chat about Marni’s life as an actor turned illustrator, Rebecca’s first book and going both the traditional publishing route as well as going independent.

This is a great episode for authors, illustrators, parents, aunties/uncles, people who know they need to get time outside but aren’t sure why, and those interested in creating their own work. Enjoy!

About Rebecca P. Cohen and Marni Penning Coleman
So the fact that your inspiration can come from filling the needs in your own life, and that the needs that you’re filling in your own life can help other people, that’s, I think that’s a pretty big takeaway. (Marni Penning Coleman)

Rebecca P. Cohen believes time outside transforms our lives for the better. Rebecca is author of the new children’s book series PJ’s Backyard Adventures, as well as author 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids, and creator of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. She is also host of the video series, Get Out of the House, which shows fun ideas for time outside in every season. For Rebecca’s inspiring blog and free downloads, visit BeOutsideAndGrow.com.

Marni Penning Coleman is a playwright, teacher, VoiceOver artist, children’s book illustrator, two-time Helen Hayes Award nominee, and other-award-winning Shakespearean actress who lives with her husband, son, and dog in Falls Church, VA. She co-founded Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in 1994 and made a living during the 2008 election as a Sarah Palin impersonator. When not playing with her son or drawing “PJ’s Backyard Adventures,” Marni narrates audiobooks for the blind for the Library of Congress. For more information, visit MarniPenning.com.

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The Best of The Notable Woman: 2016

The Best of The Notable Woman: 2016

“The Best of The Notable Woman: 2016” is my look back at everything I loved about this year. In all fairness, it’s been a pretty short year. Though in gestation for a very long time (like an elephant pregnancy, I’m telling you!), The Notable Woman is barely 4 months old. I love me some year in review / round-up posts so I thought you might too. Here are my favorite quotes, book recommendations, tips, habits, and more!

Top 5 Book Recommendations

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
Recommended by Tia Shearer Bassett
You can find it in The Notable Woman Podcast, Episode 1
Summary from Amazon:

A thrillingly original novel published in thirty-three countries to worldwide acclaim, The New York Times Magazine called The Raw Shark Texts a genre-founding work of fiction.

Eric Sanderson wakes up in a house he doesn’t recognize, unable to remember anything of his life. All he has left are his diary entries recalling Clio, a perfect love who died under mysterious circumstances, and a house that may contain the secrets to Eric’s prior life. But there may be more to this story, or it may be a different story altogether. With the help of allies found on the fringes of society, Eric embarks on an edge-of-your-seat journey to uncover the truth about himself and to escape the predatory forces that threaten to consume him. Moving with the pace of a superb thriller, The Raw Shark Texts has sparked the imaginations of readers around the world and is one of the most talked-about novels in years.

Tia recommends it for anyone who loves a good novel.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Recommended by Reverend Lorraine Peterson
You can find it in The Notable Woman Podcast, Episode 3
Summary from Amazon:

“One of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century.”—Time magazine, on the Fairyland series

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when author Catherynne M. Valente first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Fiction title for 2011.

Lorraine suggests it no matter your age; it’s a great book for adults too!

The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield
Recommended by Boom Shikha
You can find it in The Notable Woman Podcast, Episode 4
Summary from Amazon:

Internationally best-selling author of Last of the Amazons, Gates of Fire and Tides of War, Steven Pressfield delivers a guide to inspire and support those who struggle to express their creativity. Pressfield believes that “resistance” is the greatest enemy, and he offers many unique and helpful ways to overcome it.

Boom suggests it for those struggling to find life’s purpose.

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan
Recommended by Victoria Ng
You can find it in The Notable Woman Podcast, Episode 6
Summary from Amazon:

“Funny and scary … an utterly believable critique of society. A+”—THE WASHINGTON POST

“The best graphic novel I’ve ever read.”—STEPHEN KING

“This year’s best movie is a comic book.”—“ALL THINGS CONSIDERED,” NPR

“A seriously funny, nuanced fable…. Grade A.”—ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Y: THE LAST MAN, winner of three Eisner Awards and one of the most critically acclaimed, best-selling comic books series of the last decade, is that rare example of a page-turner that is at once humorous, socially relevant and endlessly surprising.

Written by Brian K. Vaughan (Lost, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD, EX MACHINA) and with art by Pia Guerra, this is the saga of Yorick Brown—the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by a mysterious government agent, a brilliant young geneticist and his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth. Collecting issues #1-5.

Victoria suggests this graphic novel for a great read, whether or not it’s your first graphic novel or not.

Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie
Recommended by Laura Macauley
You can find it in The Notable Woman Podcast, Episode 8
Summary from Amazon:

The incredible story of the man behind TOMS Shoes and One for One, the revolutionary business model that marries fun, profit, and social good.

“A creative and open-hearted business model for our times.”—The Wall Street Journal

Why this book is for you:

  • You’re ready to make a difference in the world—through your own start-up business, a nonprofit organization, or a new project that you create within your current job.
  • You want to love your work, work for what you love, and have a positive impact on the world—all at the same time.
  • You’re inspired by charity: water, method, and FEED Projects and want to learn how these organizations got their start.
  • You’re curious about how someone who never made a pair of shoes, attended fashion school, or worked in retail created one of the fastest-growing footwear companies in the world by giving shoes away.
  • You’re looking for a new model of success to share with your children, students, co-workers, and members of your community.

You’re ready to start something that matters.

Laura suggests it for those who are looking at what’s next for them in their life.

Habits to Pick Up in 2017

Micro meditation from Boom’s episode The Notable Woman Podcast, Episode 4

Like the idea of meditation but scared of sitting in silence thinking about your to do list for 30 minutes? Don’t worry! You don’t have to start there. In her episode on meditation, Boom suggested micro meditation as a good place to start when developing a meditation practice. 2, 5, 10 minutes a day is where you can begin! It’s much easier to start a practice when it just feels like you’re dating (2 minutes) instead of marrying it (30 minutes, ack!).

Tia’s tip about stress from The Notable Woman Podcast, Episode 1

Tia brought up an interesting thought about stress, which is that we choose stress. We don’t actually need to stress. We just feel like we have to, when in fact, we can just continue on as we were. Tia believes she picked this habit up from her family, but realized she could stop it from spreading to her son if she chose right now to not choose stress.

This tip really resonated with me because I can clearly see it myself. Since Tia shared this nugget o’wisdom with me, I have been NOT choosing stress, and I feel so much better about everything from work to Mom life.

Top 5 Quotes

“What I think is that God is right there holding us up, and strengthening us, and weeping with us, and helping us to face unspeakable heartache.”
-Reverend Lorraine Peterson on God and hardship

“I would want anyone who’s listening to be proud of who you are. Accept that where you are is where you need to be right now. And that’s totally okay.”
-Victoria Ng on loving who you are right now

Definitely put your intentions out there and good things will follow.”
-Yanran Carpenter on manifesting your dreams

“You have to make a decision that you want your life to be better. And then you just take one small step, and another small step, and another one, and it’s just doing that over and over again to help build up to the goals you want to reach.”
-Shelly Robinson on getting to a better place with your health

“So every time you go on self sabotaging or self loathing activities, thinking all negative stuff, then pull out that piece of paper and read all the positive things you wrote about yourself, and that helps to get your mind from negative to positive instantly.”
-Susan “Suz” Adhikari

The Best Free Resources

Boom’s Group – The Millionaire Hippie – Money and meditation, what could be better? 🙂

Shelly’s Group – Healthy Mama Hustle – Health support for Mamas who run their own businesses or side hustles

Julie’s Group – Nest Egg Chick – Personal finance tips

From Rosemarie – A Guide to Building Your Self Confidence – Free guide / workbook

From Mikayla – 5 Day Guide to Crushing Burnout – Mikayla’s tips on how to say goodbye to overwhelm and control your own time

*****

That’s it for me! I’m looking forward to doing this again next year!

XOXO,
Cristin

TNW16: Rockin’ Your Social Justice Business with Missy Sturtevant

TNW16: Rockin’ Your Social Justice Business with Missy Sturtevant

About this episode

Missy Sturtevant is so impressive! I am so jazzed by her and her social justice business, but let me start at the beginning. Missy and I went to college together, and I was a total fan even before this interview, even before I knew what she does now. But let me lay it down for you — Missy was a social worker and wasn’t 100% happy with how she had to do her work within the structure already set up. And you know what she did? She didn’t whine about it, she didn’t wallow, she went ahead and started her own business! Maebright Group, LLC works with Massachusetts-based state agencies on working with the LGBTQ population, using actual best practices and research.

In our conversation, we talk about how Missy wanted to start a business, how she became the mentor that she needed and now helps other people, and how she does the actual work with her state agencies.

This is a great episode for social justice advocates, business owners, entrepreneurs, and people who have an idea for a movement but haven’t gotten started yet. Enjoy!

About Missy Sturtevant
I actually much more prefer it when people disagree with what I’m saying, if they bring it up and challenge me, because if you can put something out there and we can have a conversation and I can listen to what are the things you’re nervous about, what are your concerns, which are usually legitimate concerns and I can address, we can have that kind of engagement together.
Missy Sturtevant, LCSW is the Director and Founder of MaeBright Group, LLC. Missy holds over a decade of training and facilitation experience. She studied social work at Wheelock College and has a BA in Psychology with minors in Health and Wellness as well as Theatre from Cedar Crest College. Missy has direct and macro-level social work experience that includes policy research, youth leadership development, group home care, and inclusive comprehensive sexuality education.
Episode Resources

MaeBright Group, LLC – Missy’s website
Hamlet the Cat on Facebook
Center for Women & Enterprise – Missy used this excellent resource to start her own business
The StartUp Podcast – Missy used this great podcast to start her business

Recommended Reading

Stone Butch Blues: A Novel by Leslie Feinberg
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomedia Paperback by Alison Bechdel

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My Year in Review: You Have to Look Back to Look Forward

My Year in Review: You Have to Look Back to Look Forward

Presenting my year in review! I was recently contemplating my 2017 New Year’s resolutions when I received an email from business coach Sarah Liddle. A prolific writer, Ms. Liddle is a coach to coaches, and her writing has been featured in Huffington Post and Lifehack, amongst many others. And in her insightful email, she said you can’t create goals for next year without reflecting on this past year. Great advice! How could I possibly set my resolutions for 2017 without seeing how I succeeded and failed this past year? That reflection will ultimately affect my 2017 choices. So here’s a look at the progress I made in 2016.

Family

I celebrated my son’s first birthday! I can barely believe that my son is now one. Where did the time go? It’s so amazing that he went from an 8 lb 3 oz tiny little nugget to a… dare I say it… toddler! At the time of this reflection, he is a year and a half. He’s so tall. 99th percentile, of course. He is my Mini Me but is slowly getting to look more like his father, mostly in the faces he makes. He runs, he jumps, he climbs, oh how he climbs! Nothing is safe. He says banana (“nan-a”), apple (“ap-l”), Mom (“mum”), Dad (“dada”), blueberries (“b-b-b”), sippy cup, really trying to say bottle (“bot bot”), and Bronte, our dog’s name (“non-nay”). He loves to laugh, and laugh, and laugh. I couldn’t be more in love with him.

And what else happened as my son turned one, but I turned one as a Mom! One year as a Mom, ack! I can barely believe it. It has been a whirlwind of a year. Being a Mom is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever, ever done. First and foremost, sleep deprivation. Let’s talk sleep deprivation. It’s cumulative, folks, and I have no idea when you catch up, if you ever do. I can certainly tell you that you start waking up to pee in the night during the end of the second trimester, and it has never stopped (the not sleeping, thankfully the peeing does). Maybe you sometimes get one complete night of sleep, but please! That doesn’t make up for the 300 days before it.

Also, I think becoming a parent gives you an insane amount of respect for your own parents. No matter your relationship, at the very least your Mom carried you and gave birth to you. And then she had to recover from that! And whether or not your biological parents raised you or you were adopted, someone cared for you as a tiny human. They fed you, clothed you, changed your diapers, and cuddled you. That person, or people, loved you! They lost sleep over you. It makes you have a lot more respect for their sacrifices.

Lastly, as a parent, you make a thousand decisions a day. I have always been a boss and a decision maker (well, since I was 16… ). I’ve now been a boss longer in years than not. But being a parent pushes decision making to the nth degree. You have to decide all of these things all of the time, and hope you are making the right decisions for your child! Gosh, it’s a lot of pressure!

Finally, my last family notable moment was my and my husband’s 5 year anniversary. We spent our 4th year anniversary in the hospital having my son. That was certainly memorable! This year it was dinner and a movie, and our first date night since our son was born! We have been on a thousand or more dates in 11 years of being together, but this anniversary was special. I’m glad I found my penguin. And he’s an amazing Dad! I love watching him be a Dad.

The Notable Woman

I started a blog and a podcast for The Notable Woman. I did a lot of personal reflecting to come up with this idea in the first place, and then I actually followed through on it! I learned a lot about the online space, blogging, and podcasting! I took classes and joined groups. I built a website in WordPress, and I launched it! Even better, I understand what I am doing (uh, technically speaking).

Add to that all I learned about podcasting! I learned about audio and microphones and software. I learned how to put together an episode. I learned iTunes. I put together the creative content. I couldn’t be happier to have this podcast to show for my 2016 work.

This year, I celebrated one year in my mastermind group! I love these people like my family. If you aren’t in a mastermind and you’re trying to change the world, get yourself in one! You definitely need like-minded people to bounce ideas off of. I’d be happy to give you pointers if you’d like some.

Resolutions

Every year, I endeavor to read 52 books and watch 12 movies. I always read my books and then some, and I never ever finish 12 flicks. What can I say? I love to read and although I like movies, I just don’t get into them enough to watch with any consistency.

But this year, everything changed. I saw over 30 movies so far and read 35 books. At this point in December, I can say with confidence that I am not going to finish my book challenge for the first time since I started this challenge.

Why?

Well, I saw a lot of movies because babysitters in NYC are pricey so my husband and I stayed home and watched movies. The end. I didn’t get more enlightened, just poorer. But my husband did force me to watch all sorts of deep films and fascinating documentaries, and I liked them.

As for books, it’s near impossible to read in front of a toddler, or perhaps, it’s just near impossible for ME to read in front of MY toddler. I can barely read a text longer than a few words without my son shot putting my cell across the room. I did read a lot during my commute into and out of the city, but I also did a lot of writing, researching, and work on the train this year. And, I read far more non-fiction / self-help / teaching me something books, which often cause me to stop and contemplate before moving on to the next chapter.

Either way, I’m proud of what I did this year, and I think it’s good for my big head that I didn’t finish something I wanted to do.

Endings

I’ve always known that having a pet as an adult would be different than as a kid. A kid loves a pet without necessarily having to care for it – you know, the walks, the baths, the litter, the poop. Your poor parents might have gotten stuck with that. And then when your adorable life friend is older and sick, your parent or parents had to decide what care to provide, how much they could afford on vet expenses before it was just too much, and whether or not to have your pet euthanized or not. These are really big decisions for someone who has been a part of your family for decades or more.

And this year, I had to make all those decisions for my old man cat Atticus. My husband scheduled the vet appointment for me because I refused to acknowledge that Atticus was sick. At the vet, I was horrified to discover Atticus was only 8 lbs, smaller now than my son when he was born. How could I not see how sick he was? And they just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him, and I had to make the decision to bring him home when we could no longer afford the exploratory tests, knowing he would die. We made him as comfortable as possible, gave him the medicine the vet gave us, and prayed that now wasn’t his time. The day before we were going to bring him back to be euthanized, he passed away.

I always knew that my first pet passing as an adult was going to be rough, and it was. But what I’ll say is that Atticus rescued me as much as I rescued him, and I am forever thankful for my time with him.

I’m really thankful for Sarah Liddle and this exercise. I think I’m far better prepared to tackle my 2017 goals. What about you? Want to give this a try? I’d love to hear how it goes.

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