What Have You Done All Year?

I hope you enjoy my yearly review of major events and accomplishments in 2013.

What I Did in 2013


Bookish Stuff

Runnin’ Thangs

Me, feeling exuberant after a 7-miler

I obtained three fitness instructor certifications this year, but I’m proudest of my decision to start–and keep on–running. It was monumental that I even started running in the first place!

Super-quick running summary:

  • Finished five 5K races (four in Atlanta, including a 6K, and one in Charlotte)
  • Total of 425 miles ran in approximately 86 hours (April to December)

2014 Plans include more races: one half marathon in Virginia Beach, one 15K in Atlanta, three 10Ks (one in Brooklyn), and several smaller races in Atlanta. (I am also shooting for a race in Boston and other cities as my budget allows.)


This year I went to Virginia (visiting family and friends), Charlotte (runner’s conference), and Las Vegas (fitness conference).

2014 Plans include trips to St. Louis, Cleveland, and a few cities where I hope to run in races as mentioned above.

4 Big I-Want-To-Dos in 2014

These are listed in the order in which I think will be hardest to easiest to achieve:

  1. Learn how to swim
  2. Learn self-defense techniques (I had a scary encounter while running alone the other day)
  3. Finish a half-marathon (at least one, as mentioned above)
  4. Launch my new book Continue reading “What Have You Done All Year?”

Decisions, Decisions: Overcoming Decision-Making Paralysis

The stress that comes from making decisions can be tremendous. In the past decade I’ve moved several times, (twice to different states), gotten divorced, added new career paths and side hustles, begun homeschooling my child, purchased cars (3 in the past 2 years), succumbed to home foreclosure and filed for bk. You name it, I’ve been through it or close to it.

Credit: Touchdown Space

I continue to struggle with decision making. I’m one of those people who wants to be really sure of things before I do them, and I can’t always trust my gut because sometimes it’s fear doing the talking instead of faith. Even in prayer, I sense uncertainty and do not always have peace, which I usually regard as the “be-all-end-all” indicator of making sound decisions in my life.

Continue reading “Decisions, Decisions: Overcoming Decision-Making Paralysis”

Redeeming the Time

Alrighty, here’s a quick update on my post earlier this week.

  • Finish the last 3 chapters of edits on my book (not yet, but will by Sunday)
  • Cook more meals and eat less fast food (yep- made 2 slow cooker meals)
  • Post 2 more blog posts (check!)
  • Upload a new video to my YouTube channel (2!)
  • Get to bed before 11:30 pm each night (only once I think– but it happened when I turned off the computer by 8 pm)

Some additional accomplishments:

  • Completed 2 more speeches in 2 of my 3 Toastmasters clubs (I’m on track to achieve my Advanced Communicator Silver by June). I’ve actually decided to scale back to 2 clubs 🙂
  • Did some networking at a couple of events this week (I often don’t do anything on weeknights)

It’s been a productive week overall for me and I’m looking forward to some great summery weather this weekend. How was your week?

My Birthday is Like New Year’s Day

If you read yesterday’s post, then you know today is, but I’m going to treat this day like New Year’s Day.

I’ve got a bunch of things I’m thankful for since my last birthday, and a bunch of things I want to accomplish before my next one. I started writing the following lists two months ago and managed to save my notes. These lists are in no particular order…

The Top 5 “Ballsy” Things I Did This Year

The Top 5 Things I Learned This Year

  • Just because someone isn’t there, doesn’t mean s/he doesn’t care.
  • I can handle single-parenting without “losing it.”
  • No one is inaccessible.
  • Stepping out on faith has its rewards.
  • Doing the right thing isn’t always the easy choice, but it’s always the best choice.

6 Things I Want to Do Next Year (That I Haven’t Done)

  • Publish my book.
  • Build a minimum 6-month emergency fund.
  • Get more paid writing and speaking gigs.
  • Join the NSA Academy (for aspiring professional speakers).
  • Attend a writer’s conference.
  • Earn another Toastmasters award, and get closer to Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM).

5 Things I’m Going to Keep Doing Next Year (Not Previously Mentioned)

  • Being straight-up and honest with people.
  • Paying for things without using credit cards or financing.
  • Driving my ’04 Mazda (I enjoy not having a car payment).
  • Guest blogging (thank you to all my subscribers and supporters!).
  • Trusting God.

I plan to reassess these goals of mine every month, and you’ll like see posts about my progress on them. I’m really excited about what the future holds– how about you?

Living On the Next Level Up – Seize the Day Recap #2

Courtesy of JohnMaxwell.com

Former pastor, author, and leadership guru John C. Maxwell’s speech was one of my two anticipated highlights of the Seize the Day event. His speech was entitled, “Living On the Next Level Up.”

Continue reading “Living On the Next Level Up – Seize the Day Recap #2”

No One Is Unreachable

Is there a connection you need to make, but the person seems to be inaccessible? You CAN reach them. It’s as simple as sending a message to your contact in their preferred method.

Now granted, this preferred method is not always so simple, and may not be easy to find. You can always start with their website or social media page. But I’ve found that most of the people I want to reach, I can contact them directly, and if not, they have listed a way to reach their representative (agent, etc.) on their website.

Because of the nature of Twitter streams, the person may not catch your query on your first try (and ideally, you should develop a relationship with the person before diving in and asking them for something that primarily benefits you, such as a book endorsement or a guest post.

I have this “can-do” attitude about reaching people because I have forced myself to overcome the fear of rejection. As a budding freelancer, I’m not going to get clips (for free nor for pay) if I don’t speak up.  No one’s going to come along and offer me anything that I really want (unless they’re a good friend who knows what I’m looking for, or a mind reader). I actually believe that if I want to talk to President Obama directly, I can (don’t roll your eyes—I know it would take a while, but I CAN). And I’d love to. But first I’ll tell you what I’ve already done.

I’m a technical writer by day, but I’ve got a book I plan to publish next year for young adults.  I’ve also been eyeing some major magazines I want to write for as a contributor. So I hit up several well-known authors and players in the publishing industry last winter (around Christmastime!) and ALL of them responded and were willing to have me interview them, even though I didn’t have “a name” or a special place I knew I would publish the work. It was a privilege for me, not to mention very unselfish and gracious of them–they’re all very busy but made to talk to what I then considered “little old me.” (This is the resulting award-winning article.)

Getting Noticed

I’ve got several people I would love to endorse my forthcoming book, and a few would I’d love to write a foreword for it. But I’m not going to just pop up and say, “Hey, I love your work? I know you don’t know me from Adam, but could you stop what you’re doing to read my book, and give me a quote to endorse it so it will sell faster?”

That is not a good look.  When someone comes up to you with a generic, thinly-veiled “buy-my-product” pitch, it’s a turn off.

But if you market yourself the right way, it’s kind of like politics–when you see enough signs on the road with candidates’ names, you remember them name even if you don’t personally know those people. Here are a few tips that worked for me:

  1. Participate in conversation wherever your desired contact is active. Get involved with online and/or in-person networking. Don’t be afraid to let your personality come through (err on the conservative side in the beginning though). And please, use a good picture of yourself too.
  2. Consider the person’s brand (what are they known for, and what causes do they support), then use your good common sense to determine whether that person is a good contact for the project you’re seeking their help on.
  3. Provide the person with value in some way. (Check out Dave Navarro’s excellent, free workbook about networking with A-listers for all the details).
  4. Ask, and you shall receive. (If you don’t, switch a bit and keep trying.)

Meeting With A Mentor

Daree and Denene

11 months ago, I interviewed an author I highly respect, Ms. Denene Millner How did I get the interview? I sent her a simple message on Facebook and asked. Did we have any mutual friends to introduce us? No. I simply asked to interview her, sent her some questions, and she responded in kind. I even Once I moved to Atlanta, I let her know and she offered to meet me for lunch, which I was honored to do. She is a sweetheart! There we discussed some friendly things, parenting things, and political things. She also let me pick her brain a bit about publishing/writer things and it was great.

The moral of the story? No one is totally out of reach, but regardless of how popular the person whom you have your sights set on, you’ll need to start early. There may be only six degrees of separation (maximum) between you and your desired contact. Don’t wait until your situation becomes such that you needed this contact “yesterday.”

Who are you trying to reach, and to what end (that is, what are you trying to accomplish with this contact?) Have you had success with this method or another one?

Debt is Slavery: Notes From a Freed Slave

Make no mistake: debt is slavery. It seems that few of us have been untouched by debt in this economy.

Last night, CNN aired the special report, The Almighty Debt, hosted by Soledad O’Brien in Atlanta. It had me nodding my head in agreement with so many statistics and opinions mentioned by the experts, as well as the predicaments of the many ‘average Joes’ featured. It had me reflecting on the last several tumultuous financial years I have survived as a young adult.

Continue reading “Debt is Slavery: Notes From a Freed Slave”