The nature of healing


Winter seemed to hold on for a long time this year, with snow in March and even a few cold days into late April. Now that it’s early May, it seems we’ve skipped right over springtime into 80+ degree days and the nostalgic smell of summer vacation on the breeze. I’ve been driving with the windows down (until the noise gets too annoying) and sunglasses on, jamming along to my newfound love of Kesha, and generally feeling upbeat about life.

The local nature reserve I drive through on my way to work every morning is home to my favorite tree, gorgeous views of the river, and families of deer happily munching away in the meadows. I’ve been running with my friend along the paths in this valley, through rain and snow, as we trained for a half marathon at the end of April. I mentioned that the trees all still looked dead and wintery, and she pointed out that you could see a bit of yellow fuzz as new buds started to grow.

After this exchange, I’d spend a few moments each time I ran along the path trying to unfocus my eyes a little bit to see the growing fuzz. Some trees had pink fuzz, others had yellowy green fuzz, but you could see the buds coming if you stopped looking so hard.

Then, this morning, on my drive through the valley, everything was lush and green. I just drove through it yesterday and it was not this green. But today, it was. It was like overnight everything suddenly came to full life in technicolor. I drove the fifteen minutes through the winding valley road with a smile on my face, overwhelmed by the excitement and beauty of nature. I may have shed a tear or two (but that may also have been Kesha).

Alone in my thoughts, it occurred to me that healing from emotional trauma is kind of like waiting for spring to come. If you keep looking for every little sign of growth, you may not see it. You may think the long winter is holding you back. But if you stop looking so hard, you can see new habits, new emotions, new strength, and new growth starting to take hold.

And one day, when nothing special in particular has happened at all, you may be completely surprised to find that things are going exactly according to plan, and your spirit is still intact, beautiful, and able to grow again.



Turning V-Day into U-Day: Self Care Tips for Valentine’s Day

coffee love

It’s almost Valentine’s Day!

This holiday is always tricky for me as an aspiring minimalist because I really don’t like “stuff for stuff’s sake.” Sometimes flowers are nice, but they seem like a waste of money to me because they die in a few days (Side note: I do enjoy potted plants, despite my sad, dying succulent on my desk), and I’m not eating sugar very much because it turns me into a fiend, so chocolate’s out. Please do not buy me the 6′ tall Costco teddy bear either – a cat will just pee on it. 

Valentine’s Day feels like obligation to shower someone with useless stuff you wouldn’t normally buy… and that just feels odd to me. 

Let’s not do that this year. Let’s take care of our own damn selves. We give to others daily, we pour ourselves into those we love, our job, even strangers. When is the last time you poured yourself into…you?

This Valentine’s Day, I’m issuing a challenge. I double dog dare you to make February 14th* all about you. How is your relationship with yourself? Let’s fix that.

*Note: Valentine’s Day is a Wednesday so if you want to schedule this self-care day for the weekend, that’s great! Just commit to taking a day for yourself, guilt-free. 

Challenge 1:

Set a timer for 2 minutes. Make a list of things that make you smile – but nothing to do with doing something for other people. While those things are noble, that’s not what this is about this time. Here are a few of mine:

  • Hanging out on the couch or in my hammock with the cats 
  • Watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix 
  • Running
  • Taking a hot bath while I browse Pinterest or read a book
  • Eating yummy food (bonus points if I don’t have to cook it myself)

Challenge 2:

Now, I want you to make a list of things you have been wanting to do for yourself lately. These things, again, can include other people but cannot be FOR other people. Set that time for 2 minutes. Ready, set, go! Here is my list:

  • Take an aerial yoga class 
  • Get a massage
  • Buy planner stencils for my bullet journal 
  • Plan a lunch date with a friend 
  • Plan a solo weekend getaway 

Challenge 3:

Now that you have two lists, what do you do with them? You’re gonna plan your Valentine’s Day self-care date. Take at least two items from list one and one item from list two and make a day of it. I give you permission to focus on you. Forget the world. This isn’t V-Day anymore, it’s U-Day!

Challenge 4:

Last but not least…. I want you to write a love letter to yourself. Yeah, I know this is cliche. You’ve heard this before, probably. Did you do it though? If you did, was it lately? Hang it on the wall. Use it as a bookmark in your book. Just keep it around so you can remember that you’re your biggest fan and you’re the only person whose validation and admiration you really need to be your best self.

Don’t focus on what you’d like to improve or change – this is a positive, love-based letter to yourself.

Here are some prompts if this feels awkward:

  • I’m really proud of you for…
  • Something I admire about you is…
  • My favorite thing about your personality is…
  • You’re amazing at…
  • I can’t wait to see what you do with…
  • You have a great butt!

You deserve this. Don’t let anyone else tell you’re selfish.

It’s okay to do stuff for you. It’s okay to set boundaries. It’s okay to say no.

Its okay to take care of you.

8 Free iPhone Apps to Improve Your Mental Health

012218 mindfulness

If your new year’s resolution includes practicing mindfulness or meditation as part of a lifestyle change, this is the post for you. Even if mindfulness wasn’t on your to-do list for 2018, it’s never a bad idea to start. Meditation has many benefits for your physical and mental health, including:

  • Improving focus and attention
  • Increasing brain volume related to positive emotions
  • Improving emotional regulation
  • Decreasing feelings of loneliness
  • Decreasing anxiety, depression, and stress

Read the details on these benefits and more at Psychology Today.

I’ve put together a list of apps you can download to your iPhone to help guide a new mindfulness practice. Premium memberships with all the meditations unlocked will cost you a little bit (the price varies by app) but the free membership will get you started on the right track for the low cost of just a few minutes of your time and a willingness to commit to this new habit.

  1. Calm: Calm is a popular meditation app with guided tracks as short as 3 minutes (perfect for a quick morning routine before coffee) and up to 25 minutes long if you’ve got half an hour to spare. Even the loading screen is calming, with the message, “Take a deep breath” while the app loads up. You can choose from several goals:  sleep, gratitude, anxiety, happiness, stress, self-esteem, meditation, or focus. Once you set up a username and password, you’ll get a screen with paid options, but you can tap the X in the top right corner to move ahead with the free version. My favorite part is the ambient noise you can choose for your home screen on the app: choose from flowing water and songbirds at a mountain lake, a crackling fire, a rainy drizzle in the forest, or silence while you look at the Earth from space.
  2. Headspace: Headspace is another meditation app that’s very popular and has great reviews. Free tracks are available without handing over your payment info, but if you sign up for the trial premium membership keep an eye on your auto-renewal in case you don’t want to continue. Choose from the “Everyday Headspace” track, one- to three-minute “Mini” tracks, or the “Basics” tracks that are designed to teach you how to meditate one day at a time. Note: Your phone will download each meditation before playing, so this will take a moment and some storage space.
  3. The Mindfulness App: When you download Mindfulness, you’ll set up the app’s permissions, including the option to receive a “Daily Notice” in your push notifications (to remind you of a mindful tidbit to keep in mind each day), the ability to connect to the iPhone Health App to track your mindfulness practice and/or heart rate, and then the obligatory slide detailing the premium account cost and benefits. Just tap the X to keep it free. Choose from 3, 5, 15, or 30 minute meditations and a 1 or 5 minute body scan to check in with your body. There are options for guided (where a narrator talks you through the meditation) or silent (which lets you do your own thing and just guides you with chimes throughout the session to come back to your breath as needed). You can set a background sound for your meditation, nearly all of which are water-based except the forest track, which has birdsong. You can set a daily timer to remind you to do your meditation to make sure you remember each day.
  4. Insight Timer: This app boasts more free content than any other meditation app. When you first sign up, you’ll see the default home screen, a world map that shows you where people are meditating all across the globe — which is fascinating and exciting. You can connect with friends or search by location to see which meditation tracks are popular in your area. If you choose, you can also set the “Explore” page (the icon that looks like headphones) as your home screen, featuring a multitude of tracks and music to help you focus and center. The timer screen (clock icon) lets you set a timer with a distinct chime of your choosing at the start and end of your unguided meditation (with an option to ring during the session too). You can also join groups (four dots icon) and check your own progress in your profile.
  5. Sattva: Sattva’s setup is similar to the rest with a basic push notification allowance, etc., but it also asks to access your location in order to display sunrise, sunset, moon phases, and other location-based stats. You can set privacy to just you, friends-only, or the entire Sattva community. As always, there’s an upsell page to promote the premium membership, but you can easily skip this step. The display of Sattva is beautiful and brightly colored, which personally makes me feel happy and upbeat. Your dashboard will display your overall stats on how long you’ve meditated with the app and your best streak of days in a row, a daily mantra, a timer, and any playlists you’ve assembled. There’s also a daily quote or wisdom for reflection as you see fit. Within Sattva, you can join “lounges,” which are essentially groups with recommended meditations. Sattva feels like a social network for mindfulness.
  6. Aura: Aura promotes itself as “A personalized mindfulness app that understands you” and you’ll start off by setting a profile with your age, some descriptors of yourself, the habit you want to attach your mindfulness practice to (this is unique and actually works, since it builds on existing habits you already have like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast), and opting in for reminders/push notifications. Once your profile is set up, you’ll choose your main goal, similar to other mindfulness apps. The free membership allows you to choose from “Learn Mindfulness,” “Enjoy Peaceful Morning,” or “Reduce Stress.” Premium membership unlocks goals related to anxiety, focus, happiness, healing, self-love/confidence, and sleep. When you’re ready to start your meditation, you can select how you’re feeling – selecting a feeling will filter a meditation that best suits your mood.
  7. Mood Mint: Mood Mint isn’t a meditation app, but it helps you “reprogram” your brain to focus on the positive. You’ll see four images and your goal is to tap the one that is the most positive. The images available are a mix of human faces showing a range of emotions, people being physically active, foods, and nature photos. You can also upload your own photos to the mix as well. For example, if you see the following four images: woman laughing, boy frowning, donut, and storm cloud, the “correct” response is to tap the woman laughing. The quicker you select the positive image, the more points you get. Over time this re-trains your brain to focus on positives over negatives. There are also text slides during each round, a positive word-search, and a breathing exercise.
  8. Shine: Shine is an awesome app that sends you a positive text each day that helps you practice mindfulness, self-care, and gratitude. You can follow the text to a blog post that goes into detail about each day’s Shine. The Shine app also allows you to listen to free “Quick Hitters,” either to set a positive mindset in the morning, boost your mood in the afternoon, or help you wind down in the evening. You can unlock premium membership tracks with a free 7-day trial or upgrade to a paid membership. The daily texts are great on their own, though!

Now that I have eight new apps on my phone, I should pick one to commit to for more than a few days! Which one sounds best for your needs?

9 New Year’s Resolutions to Simplify Your Life

It’s that time again. Monday, January 1, 2018 saw us starting a new year, new month, and even a new week (for those of us who start counting on Monday). Now that the new year is here, it’s time to reflect on 2017 and decide what to improve in the following year. Or not. But I like setting goals and making lists, so that’s what I’m working on! More on my personal resolutions later — this is about you!

new year photo

The following nine ideas are resolutions you can put into place this year to make your life a little more simple. Decluttered. Minimalist. However you want to put it, it can become your reality with a little bit of work. Take a look at the list and pick one to get started.

  1. Donate one bag or box per month. This one’s easy. Make some time once a month to tidy and declutter in your home until you’ve filled a vessel of your choice. You can make this as easy (small plastic grocery bag) or hard (large garbage bag) as you want. But set yourself a goal for each month and get moving!
  2. Put one item away each day. This sounds too simple, but it’s a good resolution for several reasons. First, if your home is super cluttered and you’re overwhelmed with where to start, this will give you an easy win every day. Second, goals don’t work unless they’re achievable, and this one is super simple. Notice an empty soda can on the counter? Rinse it and put it in the recycling. You just put one thing in your home where it belongs. Repeat. (And if you can’t find a good home for it, put it in a bag like in #1).
  3. Try a 30 day clutter challenge. There are a few varieties of these clutter challenges around. One is to declutter one item on the first of the month, two items on the second, so on and so forth until you’re decluttering 30 items on the 30th of the month. Another challenge is a bag challenge, where you fill a bag every day with items that will leave your home. It might be a bag of trash or recycling to throw out, a bag of donations, or a bag of stuff that you borrowed from your sister last year and it’s really time she got it back. Just get it out!
  4. Try a Project 333. Project 333 can be incredibly fun and is a low-stress way to try a minimal wardrobe. You choose 33 items to wear for 3 months, and you can only wear those items. I make exceptions for underwear/socks and workout clothes but stick to 33 tops/bottoms/dresses/accessories/shoes for the actual challenge.
  5. Konmari one category. Taking on the whole of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a big commitment. But if you resolve to do just one category (say, clothing or books), you might get hooked and do the rest! But even if you don’t, you’ll make great progress in simplifying your life.
  6. Create one minimalist space. Overhauling your entire home is daunting, especially if you live with those who are less minimally-inclined and don’t mind clutter. Don’t pull your hair out in stress over it, just commit to creating and maintaining one minimalist space in your home. It might be a spare room or office, or it might even be the kitchen table. Communicate to your family or roommates that it’s off limits, and enjoy your happy space.
  7. Implement a household system. I thought about resolving to keep a clean house this year, but that is a recipe for disaster. I can, however, commit to a household system. For my home, that will mean making sure all of the litter boxes are scooped on Monday night and all the cat litter trash goes out on trash night. Maybe your system is “we don’t go to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink” or “we clean the bathroom on laundry day and wash the shower curtain.” Whatever your system needs to be, implement just one and try it for a month. If it goes well, add a new system later!
  8. Keep a bullet journal. Bullet journal purists may turn up their nose at the idea of spending hours each week making a pretty layout, but it’s actually very relaxing to spend some dedicated time organizing your thoughts in a stylized bullet journal. Whether you go classic and just keep the basics in your journal or you fall down the Pinterest rabbit hole to find one million layout ideas and try your hand at calligraphy, this habit can help you simplify your schedule and keep on top of tasks. (Plan your week in your minimalist happy place from #6!)
  9. Say no. Minimalism isn’t just about reducing physical clutter, it’s about emotional clutter and mental clutter too. Overcommiting to all sorts of responsibilities (between home, work, and volunteer or other extracurricular activities) is bound to stress you out and lead to a breaking point. This year, learn to prioritize yourself. You do not have to do everything someone asks of you.

What do you think? Do any of these resolutions sound like a good idea to you?

My personal resolutions are around my home (decluttering, of course), fitness, relationship (plan more dates!), and brand/business. As part of that brand building resolution, I have a goal to publish two blogs per month on Born Again Minimalist. I’m also working on an e-book of the best posts, as well as totally original content! Stay tuned for more info.

5 Quick Mental Health Tips for the Holidays

First, I’d like to apologize on the lateness of this post. There are three days until Christmas, and this advice would have been especially helpful about three weeks before Christmas, but I completely forgot to schedule it. My bad, friends.

It’s the most streeeeessful tiiiiiime of the year!

Happy Holidays! It’s time again to start worrying about gifts, your rude and inappropriate uncle, and affording getting your family half-way across the country to see your mom because well, she said so.

In an extremely informal poll I conducted on Facebook, I found that most people seem to dislike the holidays because of the financial aspect. People feel a need to travel, buy gifts, have pretty outfits, send out cards, and host a big dinner or three.

Many other people mentioned things such as politics, having multiple celebrations due to divorce, and the gimme-gimme commercialization of it all.

However, while you’re busy making sure everyone else gets their wishes fulfilled this season, it’s not time to stop taking care of yourself. In the midst of it all, how can you ensure that you still do? Here are 5 top tips to keep your cool through the holidays.

1. Do yourself a HUGE favor. Learn to say no. “No” is a complete sentence that doesn’t require explanation. All together with me now! No. NO. NoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO.

2. It’s ok to set ground rules when you’re around family. Politics, religion, snide comments about the vegan side dishes, smoking at the dinner table – it’s okay to set these boundaries and stick to them. 

3. Stick to your budget. You still need to pay your bills this month. Don’t allow anyone to push you to feel they deserve more than you can give. This holiday isn’t about presents, it’s about presence.

4. Give *yourself* something to make you smile. Maybe it’s a coffee or hot bath or even just a night reading alone. Don’t forget you; you’re your #1 priority. This time of year I often treat myself to things, recognizing that I force myself to go without more often than not. I just got a $3 pack of hair ties – BIG SPENDER. 

5. Remember, you don’t have to see, talk to, or spend time with anyone you don’t want to. (Refer back to #1). Also remember that if your kids (or YOU) don’t want to hug anyone, you don’t have to. Forced affection is not love, it’s control, and it’s icky. 

I hope you’re able to put some of these holiday tips into action on such short notice. And if you need a permission slip from your internet buddy the Born Again Minimalist, you can totally throw me under the bus. “Sorry, we’re not putting Christmas on the credit card this year, some blogger told me it’s okay.” I’m cool with that.

Happy Holidays to you!

13 Life Lessons from a Half Marathon

I recently did something way out of my comfort zone: I ran a half marathon. I spent weeks training, running miles and miles, preparing for this huge day. The day did not unfold ideally, but I learned a lot from the experience and hope any of you working on a fitness goal (whether or not it’s running-related), a business goal, or any goal can learn from my experience too. After all, it’s all about goals, progress, and pacing yourself.


  1. Ask for Advice: I spent a couple of hours in the days before my race browsing through Pinterest, asking in my running groups on Facebook, and chatting with a coworker who has run several half marathons to ask the very important question: What do I need to take with me for race day? The answers varied but they were all really helpful and helped me to prep a race day kit that had all of my needs covered. I could have made up my own kit and flown by the seat of my pants without too much hardship, but asking people who had been there before gave me different perspectives and things to consider that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. For example: A long sleeve shirt or sweatshirt from a thrift store that you don’t mind never seeing again. Many people tossed their sweats along the path to be collected later (many race organizers donate the unclaimed items), but I stalwartly tied my sweatshirt around my body to hang onto it. A volunteer took it for me at the halfway point and said it would be in the finisher’s tent — but when I realized I had forgotten it as I got back into my car after the race, I couldn’t have made my legs go back out there if I’d wanted to. Goodbye, sweatshirt — and thank you, people who have done this before me.
  2. Nothing New on Race Day: This was said to me several times as I asked for advice. Should I wear compression socks for the race? Should I try an electrolyte drink I had never tried before? Should I do this, or that? The answer was always the same: Nothing new on race day. With this advice in mind, I picked an outfit made up of clothes that fit comfortably and that I knew I could run in. I packed snacks I knew I could eat on the run without upsetting my stomach. I ate a typical post-run lunch when I finished (spoilers: it was Chipotle). This advice relates to many aspects of life. Going for a job interview? Don’t wear brand new makeup you might be allergic to, or new shoes that pinch you in ways you didn’t anticipate. Getting ready to pitch your boss for a promotion or raise? Stick with your usual communication style vs. an approach that’s recommended in a one-off article you read about negotiating at work. Wedding day? Don’t skip breakfast if you usually eat it, or eat something if you normally skip. When it comes to a big day you’ve prepared for… stick with your routine. The time to try a different approach comes later, when it’s not all on the line.
  3. Find a Focus: I like to focus on a positive affirmation when I am doing something new, or difficult, or anxiety-inducing. For this race, my ongoing messages to myself included “I trained to finish” and “Unafraid of toil.” More on training to finish in the #4, but “Unafraid of toil” is derived from the description of Hufflepuff house in the Harry Potter universe. No matter what you’re up against, having a go-to positive message can help you remind yourself that the stress is temporary and you’ll get through it.
  4. Done is Better Than Perfect: When I repeated to myself, “I trained to finish,” it was a reminder that I had trained to be able to run 13.1 miles. I didn’t train to do it fast, I didn’t train to win, I trained to finish. And finish I did – dead last. I was dead last from almost the beginning of the race, and I didn’t mind a bit. I got applause when I crossed the finish line and it was just for me! It was awesome to complete a run longer than anything I had done before — and though I was exhausted, sore, and cold from the rain, I was also proud of myself. No matter what project you’re working on, remember that done is better than perfect. Perfectionism will paralyze you into not even trying, because why bother if you’re not going to get it right, or be the best? I weigh over 200 pounds, I run a 15 minute mile, and I just completed a half marathon — you can do that thing that’s scaring you.
  5. Get Your Head in the Game: I was really distracted during my half marathon, because I had just dropped my husband off at the airport the day before and he wouldn’t be there to see me finish like we had initially planned. It was a sudden change of plans due to illness in the family, and I felt not only worried but guilty for being out doing this half marathon for myself when I felt I should have been at home babysitting the phone for bad news and crying. I did end up crying, when I passed the ten mile mark, making this my official longest run even if I hadn’t finished. But my husband adamantly wanted me to complete the race and would have been upset on my behalf if I had decided to quit before I started. “You trained for this, you deserve to run it,” he told me. He believed in me enough for the both of us and got me through the moments when I was out of my head. Stay in your head!
  6. Make a (Flexible) Plan: When I set out to do a half marathon, my planning went something like this: I’m going to do a 10K. I found a 10K race in early October. Better look up a 10K training schedule since I’ve never run that much before. Should I do a half? I found a half at the end of October. Can I train for a half with this 10K in the middle? OH MY GOSH I CAN! And thus began my plan. Things did not go according to plan, as I totally nailed the first week of training, started skipping cross training in week two, and had given up both cross training and yoga days by the third week. So I ran a few times a week for several weeks leading up to my 10K, and then the subsequent three weeks leading up to the half marathon I was in rare form. I ran four or five days a week, including a long run on the weekends (eight miles two weeks before the race, and ten miles the week before). I made it happen even when training didn’t go perfectly — but having the built-in reality check of that 10K assured that I would have to show up and put in the effort on my way to the big goal. You can break down any goal into manageable baby steps and just go one day at a time until you achieve it. (A 90-day goal setting planner like BestSelfCo can help you break down big goals into weekly and daily targets – use this referral link to get $10 off any purchase until 12/15/17).
  7. Hold Yourself Accountable: An accountability plan is crucial to achieving your goal, whether it’s a race or a debt payoff or getting your degree. I actually kept my half marathon goal pretty quiet, telling only a few close friends rather than making a big announcement on my social media pages. I did announce my 10K plan so that my sudden uptick in weekly runs didn’t rouse any suspicions, but I kept the half quiet because publicly sharing your goals can actually hurt your chances of achieving them. So when you’re working on a big goal, loop a few close friends in to help motivate and keep you accountable to your plan (pick the friends that will actually hold you to your word, not help you make excuses), but try keeping the big announcement to yourself until it’s done. You can also hold yourself financially accountable (like I did when I spent money on my race registration or like someone who commits to applying to college might pay their application fee, or like somebody might sign up to attend a conference or book a vacation they keep putting off).
  8. Make Things Fun: Finding a way to put a little pep in your step is always better than the alternative! When running, I like to listen to music or run with a friend so we can chat. Since I had no friends ready and willing to run a chilly, rainy half marathon with me at dark o’clock in the morning, I loaded up a playlist with over three hours of music and set on my merry way. My phone died after mile 11. See #6 to make a flexible plan, and pack a backup battery and charger if you’re going to be running multiple apps on your phone. I used Charity Miles and Map My Run as well as Spotify. For non-running goals and plans, you could build in rewards (a new lipstick for each week you declutter one room of the house, a three day weekend vacation when you pay off a credit card, etc.) to keep things interesting and engaging. Because slogging along with nothing fun to do is, well, no fun.
  9. Hydrate: Just, all the time. Go get some water. Yes, right now.
  10. Find Your Power Groove: You might have a song that gets you super pumped up, a snack that gives you energy (try Delish Fish!), or a time of day when you work at your most efficient and effective. Whether you’re running a race, writing a book, or painting a bedroom, take note of when and how you do your best work. While you can’t guarantee conditions on race day, you can make the most of the things you can control and keep yourself in a positive forward-moving state of mind and body.
  11. Know When to Quit: While I didn’t end up quitting the race, at the back of the pack you tend to acquire a helpful cop or two driving by slowly to ask if you’re okay. “Yep, I’m good,” you will say — but for a moment you might just think about hopping in the car and considering 11 miles as good enough. There is a time and a place to quit running — if you are injured, if you are over-exhausted (especially in the heat), if you are violently ill. And there is a time and a place to quit on other projects too — if your goals change and the project no longer makes sense, if you leave one job to start another, if you decide that you don’t even like zucchini anyway so who cares if you stop weeding the garden this summer (true story). Know when it’s okay to quit and do it with confidence — but make sure you do it for a reason you won’t second guess forever.
  12. Get Professional Help: Between my 10K and my half marathon, I hired a running coach via Thumbtack, which is a great resource to find local professionals for basically anything. He ran and walked with me for a mile or two, observing my gait and pace, answering my questions, and giving me practical tips to improve my training for the half marathon. His most important advice that I wouldn’t have figured out on my own: run more frequently. Rather than running three times a week, he advised me to run upwards of five or six times a week in order to effectively improve my pace. And it worked — when I started to run more often during the week, my pace improved and my long runs didn’t seem as arduous. When it comes to planning for a goal, you can probably figure a lot of it out by yourself. Or you could spend a little money and get a professional to help you get back the hours you’d spend researching and planning on your own. See a therapist, hire a business coach, even hire a freelancer to help you handle day to day tasks for an online business or website. There’s always someone who can help make it easier.
  13. You’re Competing With Yourself: My first lap of the half, I was behind these two older women who were literally power walking the whole time. And I was behind them until about mile 5. Five miles of constant running from the start line and I start telling myself, “Really, you can’t outrun the power walkers?” But then when I did catch up to them, it was time for my first snack break and a quick recovery walk. I chatted with them and they said they were so proud of me and I was doing a great job, and they loved my hair and my headband, and I was gonna do great. I went from envy to appreciation in no time. They wished me luck as I finally pulled ahead and onward before they finished their lap (they did the two person relay but did it together instead of one runner at a time). The second lap, I was on the heels of a young woman in a bright yellow jacket. Yellow Girl, I called her. She had been just ahead of me the whole race. At one point I caught up to her and pulled ahead. “Hi!” I said to her, excited for a little human contact. “Hi,” she said back, with less enthusiasm than I mustered. She pulled ahead and I didn’t catch her again. She finished a couple minutes ahead of me and I completed my half marathon in 3 hours and 23 minutes, dead last. And 100% victorious. Because I wasn’t racing Yellow Girl or the power walking ladies. I was proving I could run 13.1 miles. Success. Now I have a time to beat, because I will definitely be doing another half marathon, and I will be even more prepared.

On Trusting the Universe and Letting Go

About a month ago, a friend of mine on Facebook shared a link to a great deal on an arguably frivolous item that she really wanted. To be honest, this particular thing is on my want-it list too. I understand the desire for something just-because. I sneakily ordered it and shipped it to her.

When I got a delivery confirmation I subtly suggested she check her mail, and there was nothing there. I confirmed her address only to realize that I’d shipped the damn thing to her old address and she had moved.

I emailed the vendor and admitted my mistake, hoping they’d let me re-order it at the sale price. No dice. I resolved to order it again for her the next time they put it on sale and just let the whole thing go. I hoped that the new tenant of her apartment would actually like it and figured maybe that person needed a boost from a new piece of pretty.

Imagine my surprise when I checked my email this week, weeks later, saying that the vendor had received my order back to their warehouse. Just confirm the address and we’ll send it right back out, or we’ll issue you a refund.

I updated the address and away it went to its rightful destination after all.

When I had given up on the thing I thought was over, it ended up coming back and working out.

This is not the first time this has happened recently, either.

Also about a month ago (I was apparently feeling exceptionally charitable in August!) I did a good deed to the tune of $75 and within hours had a new resume client asking for my $75 special for a resume and cover letter. It was almost like the universe said “Hey, good job, here’s something nice for you too.”

I’d chalk that up to cosmic coincidence except that it happened again this month too. Another $75 good deed, another $75 resume gig.

What you put into the universe comes back to you. Giving is receiving, if we let it happen. 

Some more examples from my own life:

I had $200 in resume orders just this week. Last week, I sent my sister $200 to rent a car so she could attend our dad’s birthday party.

When my sister lived with me, she had loaned some money to a friend who later ghosted her and never paid her back. It was about $300. I advised her to just consider it a gift and tell the friend that it wasn’t worth straining or losing their friendship over the $300 loan. She let it go. Over the next weekend serving tables at her restaurant job, my sister brought home roughly $300 in tips – well over her average.

The best part of this is that I am always completely surprised when it happens. I’ve never gone into a good deed thinking “I wonder how this will come back around to benefit me!” But a while after any of this comes to fruition, I realize what has happened. It’s eerie and awesome.

Make Giving a Regular Part of Your Life

While an evangelical Christian Dave Ramsey baby-stepper would be tithing 10% of their income to the church, I prefer to designate roughly 10% of my income to just doing nice things for people.

Whether it’s donating to individuals fundraising on GoFundMe or social media, sending a friend some quick cash just to get themselves a treat, or putting in an order for somebody who ran out of cat litter two days to payday, knowing that I have that type of spending worked into my plan is a huge freedom and my favorite part of my monthly budget.

Even if you can’t give ten percent, I encourage everyone to plan a small kindness into their regular routine. It doesn’t have to cost a cent to put a smile on someone’s face. And that smile will come right back around!