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Dang, I have a cold. Lucky it isn’t anything worse, but I still feel like a slug stuck in bubble gum. But there is some good news – I have lost 8.5 pounds! James has lost 10. Crazy to think that we are both basically halfway towards our goals. In the moment time seems to pass slowly when you are counting calories, however looking back it has actually gone by pretty fast. We are both looking forward to our maintenance phase so we can start learning how to eat again on a normal caloric budget. One thing we’ve both done well is to not call our new way of eating a diet, instead we’ve both embraced it as a lifestyle change. We have discovered the joy (and frugalness) of sharing entrees instead of getting our own. We both love having a variety of foods so sharing gives us the opportunity to try more while eating less.
Yesterday was James’ birthday! We had a great time this weekend celebrating the occasion. I’m not kidding when I say that a strikingly large number of my good friends were born in the month of January. Almost every day there is another person I know well to say happy birthday to. On another awesome note, we’ve officially entered into Aquarius, my own birthday sign. In a little over three weeks I will be 34! Turning another year older always makes me think about my life plans and dreams. Last night I made a rough grid of what I’d like to accomplish or have happen to me in the next 10 years or so. I know you can’t predict the future, but you can definitely steer it in the right direction.
More good news: We’ve all made it past the most depressing day of the year – Monday, January 21st. This online article from has some good advice and tricks to help get you through these dreary days. Before we know it, spring and summer will be here again to brighten our worlds.
Right now the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals are going on in Park City, Utah. One of my bigger goals is to one day have a feature film in one of the two. I know in order to get there, I must write my book first which will hopefully either fully fund or partially fund that film project. I think it’s a good plan, and I know I can do it. I’ve been writing really well the past few weeks, but I know I must keep pushing forward on a consistent basis. Sometimes while writing I think about how much more there is still left to do, and I get overwhelmed. So tonight I am going to break it down into mini goals and milestones. I want to be finished with it by the end of the year, no matter how much work and time it takes me. I will fully dedicate myself to this one project above all other personal initiatives for 2013. Because once it’s finished, I feel like it will be a total game changer for my life path.
Good news: We found out on Monday that Crush was accepted into the Portland Oregon Woman’s Film Festival in March! That makes nine acceptances for our short film. We are nearing the end of our festival run, so Rebecca and I are both very proud of the success it’s had. I wish we had the means to attend them all, but we were fortunate enough to at least go to most.
Today will be a snow day for some of us in the Southeast, a rare occurrence indeed. It’s only a matter of time before my Instagram feed is covered in white…which will be really fun to see.
As of yesterday at my two-week weigh-in, I’ve lost 5.5 pounds! It is a reminder of how much work it takes to lose, but I’m well on my way to my goal. James has also lost close to 7, thanks to our calorie counting efforts on LiveStrong’s MyPlate. We have a few food events to navigate in the near future, but I feel very confident that my overall health goal will remain the most important focus.
Speaking of team efforts, it’s been really nice to have other friends preparing for the Florida Half Ironman in May. I get regular check-ins from my friend Lauren, which I greatly appreciate. She and I will probably put our names in the hat for the October Ironman Lottery in Kona…I might as well since I’ve built up the momentum with prior year submissions. With each passing year, your likelihood of being chosen grows by your number of annual entries. Scary and awesome thought all at the same time. One of these days they are going to draw my name from the hat, and I am sure I will freak out accordingly on every level.
My writing has been going good as well. It is a definite challenge on a daily basis, as it takes a lot of willpower to move forward. I can clearly see myself with a finish book in my hands… so I know it is going to happen for me. Once it’s finished, I predict that I will say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. I’m sure tackling a feature film will be just as hard, but I am very familiar with the production world. Writing a book has been like being dropped off in the middle of Antarctica with only a pair of shorts and a tank top. But even the smallest successes are hugely rewarding, so I can only imagine the feeling I will have once it is complete.
I have been thinking a lot lately on why I’ve been so discouraged/unmotivated to write a book based on my blog experience (with fictional characters)… and I think it’s because it’s not something that I want to do 100%. I always find myself going back to my original idea of a story based on Louise Wooster, a prostitute and madam romantically connected to John Wilkes Booth in the late 19th century. But even that was hard to piece together, as she had written her own autobiography and I didn’t want to change any real life facts. My ultimate desire is to write a book, hopefully sell it, then use the profit to make a feature film. I recently reread Louise Wooster’s book trying to figure out a way this could all work. I actually know a great deal around the circumstances and way of life of prostitutes in the South during that time, so my new idea is to completely rewrite everything – fictional characters and fictional circumstances… but with real historical situations and possibly figures as secondary characters. James helped me come up with an amazing loose outline yesterday that I feel very excited about. I’ve decided this story will not be about Lou’s life, but inspired by it. It will not take place in Alabama, but instead New Orleans in Storyville, the brothel district at the turn of the century. There will be two lead female characters, demonstrating a high contrast of life experiences during that time. As my mentor Elizabeth Bradley Hunter always said, keep the story private until it’s ready to be exposed. So that is all I will say for now on that. But this is also worth mentioning – I have so much respect for my friends who have actually finished a complete book. It’s a huge thing to take on. I really do think that this is my only option to hopefully one day make a feature film…as I am worn of fundraising for the time being. I want to work for my own funds to make my creative projects happen in the future. I’m going to figure out realistic time goals for this project in 2013 and reveal at the end of December. In the meantime I am going to continue my research and work on finalizing a formal outline…
The two-day juice thing is OVER. I am so glad, I have no words. I haven’t done anything like that in quite some time, and honestly, I didn’t enjoy it very much. I would much rather eat 1,200 calories of real food than 1,200 of liquid any day. Maybe it had some benefits that I can’t see from the outside, but I have a feeling all it was really good for was some significant sugar crashes and starvation. That can’t be good for the metabolism. So happy we only did it for 48 hours! Now, back to a regular eating schedule. I am actually looking forward to our other two challenges this month: one week of vegetarian and two days of vegan. I believe that starts on the 14th, so I will keep you posted on how those go.
This weekend is Artwalk here in Birmingham! Soooo excited. James is coming down today on the Megabus and we plan to hit up the loft district downtown for some amazing local art. Before we head that way we will be having dinner with my good friends Charles & Carrie Beth. I haven’t gotten to see them much since their wedding a few months back, so it will be great to catch up on their lives. I know Charles just finished his book, so we will be celebrating that for sure. Once it’s published I will post a link for it!
Speaking of books, I’ve actually been working on mine lately. I’ve done a big overhaul on the storyline that I think fits much better. What I’ve come up with now feels perfect, and it is flowing much easier. God only knows when I will actually be done with it, but I have a feeling it is going to be a faster process. My friend Gin who is an accomplished novelist told me that her first book took her years, and she was still never 100% happy with it. However, her second and third books were much easier to write and were more successful. That makes me feel a little bit better about my snail’s pace. You know though, I think some congratulations are in order for me on that because I am always in such a rush to complete creative projects. I am proud of myself for giving this time to breathe and unfold as it’s ready. Mark my words, this book will be written and it will be a true labor of love!
Vero said something really sweet to me this morning after our run…. she said that I was going to be pretty for a long time, because I got good genes from my mom and grandmother Gayle. That was really nice of her to say after pouring sweat for an hour. When I think of myself, the word pretty doesn’t always come to mind. It’s not that I don’t like my body and physical appearance, but I just don’t associate myself with it. Words that have to do with personality usually pop up first and foremost – like loud, ambitious and creative. Sometimes it’s almost borderline uncomfortable to think of myself in terms of attractiveness, because it just feels weird to do so. I told Vero that my mom is beautiful because she takes such good care of her body. Both of my parents are fairly health conscious, as they get a good amount of exercise and watch what they eat on a consistent basis. They still have fun and splurge when they feel like it, but they’ve adopted a life of wellness that I try to emulate. They buy local and organic whenever it is possible, and they enjoy cooking with whole ingredients. I think that translates to the physical body and spirit. In fact they remind me a lot of Vero in this sense, because that’s exactly the kind of lifestyle she lives as well. I love surrounding myself with people who I look up to.
Speaking of which, when I look at the people around me right now in life, they all have a quality or two that I really admire. The people I see on a regular basis inspire me, and I’ve chosen to be around them as often as possible. I find that if I get a negative vibe or energy from a person, situation or place, that I go into an avoidance behavior. Time is too valuable to waste feeling drained or down more than you have to be. However, we all go through down phases, so it is still important to help a friend or family member when their spirits need uplifting. I love the thought that we give and receive energy every moment, and the more you participate in the process the more rewarding life can be. It’s good karma, and that is something I strongly believe in.
Rebecca and I announced yesterday evening that our short film Crush got into the Indy Film Festival in late July! Woooohoo! Making films can be so much fun…. especially when you get to the part where people get to actually see your work. With that being said, it is still one of the hardest types of creative projects to take on due to all the moving parts and the time (and usually money) it takes to complete. After I finish writing my book I hope to take on my first feature length film, hopefully in 2013. Is it weird that writing something with no images or visuals scares me more than the commitment it requires to make a movie? While I still have a lot to learn in the film world, it is something that comes fairly naturally to me. I feel fearless and I understand how the process works. Writing a book has proven to be one of the biggest creative challenges I’ve ever taken on. But that is also what excites me about it.
Sometimes I deliberately avoid my blog dashboard so I won’t be too influenced by if people are actually reading or not. What seems to happen is that I begin to believe that no one reads at all, since my entries don’t necessarily generate a lot of comments or likes. But then, when I am brave enough to actually look, I see that there are just as many readers as ever checking in on me. What’s really amazing is that you know when I post – you know my schedule. That makes me really happy. Thank you for reading my blog.
I got a really good comment on my post from yesterday from my friend Lisa that I thought others might find valuable: “…I wanted to share some insight a mentor faculty mentor passed on to me at a very important phase in my life. I was worried I wasn’t being “productive” enough and when I told her so, she gently smiled and taught me that productivity isn’t just about physical action and that it’s good (imperative!) to trust your own brain’s process for development and need for rest/recuperation.” Isn’t that great advice? I too often compare myself to other people as if constantly looking to see if I measure up, or if I’m good enough. There is also another side to her advice that I found helpful – that the process of life has its own agenda. You can control it up to a point and steer it in the direction you’d like to go, but you ultimately just have to go with the flow. Learning to relax a little bit and enjoy the ride is a true talent and gift that takes a little bit of practice. I’ve gotten much better at it, but still have a ways to go.
I have found as well that with each year my idea of happiness changes. In the past I think accomplishing huge things made me feel better about myself and also excited me to no end, and while that is still true…. I now find myself looking more for unique experiences to feed my soul. I like being with people who inspire me, I like new ideas and places, I like rediscovering things with a whole new perspective. Still I find myself wanting to turn my experiences into something tangible, which I do to some extent with my blog. I think that’s why a book calls to me right now, because I can apply some of my feelings, thoughts and experiences to a character that I have free creative range with. James has offered to help keep me accountable to a schedule, which I will take him up on. It is really hard for me to share the content of my book though with other people, which I am going to have to get over really fast. It is highly personal and makes me feel very vulnerable for several reasons. I think because a lot of what I write about has actually happened to me, and also I worry that I’m not a very good writer. That book is a lot like looking into my soul, and I worry that it might be too much for another person. But, I also know that is a very silly thought and goes against my desire of being truly authentic. It excites me that I’m reaching so deep to create something of such importance, because that’s also how I know that people will probably find value in reading it.
Speaking of important personal projects, The Burger Coalition is tonight! It’s the brain baby of James & Dan, and I was lucky enough to get my name in the hat for the Birmingham group’s dinner this evening at Ollie Irene. The idea is simple – to share a good meal (specifically, a burger) and have good conversation… hopefully with people who you don’t know or see often. James & Dan make a dynamic duo of sorts, as they seem to have this magic between them that makes collaborative projects happen with ease. You’ve heard the saying before that there are “sayers” and “doers”, well, they are definitely doers. And it is so inspiring. I will be glad to say that I was in the first one, and I will report back tomorrow on how it went!
Last night I had dinner with the amazing Gin Phillips, local author of two nationally successful novels – The Well and the Mine and Come In and Cover Me. She just wrapped up her latest book tour and is now knee-deep into her next project. Gin and I share some mutual close friends, though we’ve never spent any one-on-one time until last night. Her birthday was a few days ago as well, so we first talked about what had done to celebrate being one year older. Gin also has a 7-month old baby, so you can imagine that her life is pretty busy these days.
When we got to the topic of the process of writing a book, I just laid it all out there for her. I told her that I had been wanting to write one for years, and that I finally had a solid idea & outline… plus almost 2 chapters written. I confessed my concern that it was taking me such a looooong time to have so little done, and was that normal? I also told her that felt inadequate sometimes b/c I don’t know some basic things about writing in long form, and I’ve had to go back and redo things because of my lack of knowledge. She told me that her first book took the longest, several years in fact, and it was never published. The Well and the Mine was her second effort, and it was rejected by so many agents and publishers before it was even taken on by someone. As you know, The Well and the Mine has gone on to be extremely successful and was picked up by Penguin Publishing before all was said and done. I have no doubt that the sky is the limit for Gin from here on out. Before we met for dinner last night, she also told me that it would not be advisable to send out my outline & completed chapters until I have a solid rough draft finish. The reason why is because so many things can change from point A to point B…and it only gets better with more polishing. Plus, it is already difficult enough to shop a fairly completed book, the odds of getting the best shot that I could would be even less with only a few chapters. I felt better getting some solid direction from someone who has been-there-done-that.
As far as time is concerned, she said she knows authors that took 15 years to write a book (which won’t be my case, I assure you…I don’t have the patience). There are no predetermined rules or expectations. However, what the publishers do look for is marketability, and she felt like my premise was a strong & interesting one. I do too, actually. The hard part for me is the formatting, hole-filling, and motivation to keep pushing when it gets hard…to be completely honest. But I’m not one to give up, so it will come to fruition all in due time. I left our dinner feeling re-energized and validated. New things just take time to master, and I’m a fast learner.
I love New Orleans more than I could ever express in words. It is such a magical old city, and while only being here for a few days some very magical things have already happened. Just for the fun of it, several of us went to see a fortune-teller down in the French Quarter last night after dinner, and what she told each of us was nothing short of amazing. I’m not new to that sort of thing, as there is nothing I like more than to have my future told (even by someone who isn’t very good at it). It’s just fun for me. But out of all of the people I’ve ever had “look into my future,” no one holds a candle to this lady. She pretty much blew my mind. It’s no secret that bad things can, have and will happen in life…to everyone. There is no way around it. Luckily though I was very fortunate to not only get an accurate reading, but a very hopeful and exciting one as well. I completely respect those of you who think that this is a load of horse sh*t, but I honestly believe that some people have a gift in this way. While the majority who claim that they have this special talent are totally full of it, I have genuinely run across a select few in life who really have something very unique. This lady was definitely one them. I’m very grateful to have had this experience with the specific group of friends I was with as well. It was something that I will always remember.
While attending our work conference, there’s been a big budget movie (Broken City) shooting in front of the hosting hotel. Out of all the places we’ve been so far in the last 3 days, it is the only film I’ve seen around…and it’s dead smack in the middle of our walking path in and out of the conference. I’m taking it as a sign to buckle down and work hard, as I hope to turn my book into a feature film once it is completed. I get a fuzzy feeling in my stomach every time I pass the working set. Especially since we got to see Mark Wahlberg.
I am going to leave this city tomorrow feeling energized and recharged.
It’s not set in stone, but I think I’ve made a big decision – I’m not going to attempt a Half Ironman this year. Why? For two reasons. Number one, my knee is giving me a little bit of a problem. It just gets sore when I try to do more than a certain amount of exercise. The two PT’s in my family say that my injury is definitely manageable if I ever want to attempt that distance again, but I will have to supplement with stabilization exercises and ice every time I do anything significant on it. Honestly, I need to feel some significant passion to complete a Half again… and I’m borderline there. That’s just not good enough to stay injury-free. The second reason why is because I want to enjoy exercise this year. While I love a big goal and I love to train, I want to use that time for other things… like writing and being with other people. Here’s the thing – I’m never going to be the best triathlete. It is something I really love, but when it boils down to it it’s just a hobby. I have a real opportunity this year to do something significant with my writing, so I am choosing to put that effort in that direction. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to give up sports, far from it. I have no problem completing shorter distances and plan to still participate in local short distance triathlons and running races. After saying all of this… watch this be the year that I actually win a slot in the Kona Ironman World Championship Lottery. That would suuuuuuuuck. But it doesn’t matter in the end, this year is for other goals. I can always train up again next year for the Half, and maybe even a full Ironman. And by then my knee might be even better.
Speaking of writing, I am on course for my end of January goal. I’ve tracked down an agent in New York City who is going to look over my outline and first chapter, and give me feedback based on what I’ve got so far. That’s exciting! The more I talk to people about my concept, the more ideas I get. I’m still a little shy about the fact that I’m doing another romantic comedy, but honestly I kind of dig the direction it’s going in. Last night while writing in a local coffee shop, I randomly sat next to a table of writers who were also working on book projects. I picked their brains a little about the process, as some of them had almost complete manuscripts and were in the last phases of completion. In a time where almost anyone can write a book and get it published (whether on your own or through a publisher), it kind of lights my fire a little to know that I can be competitive. Sometimes you can just feel things in your bones… and this is one of them. I kind of know that I am going to knock this one out of the park. Not that it is going to be easy, but I’ve got what it takes.
I woke up this morning feeling like life is good. I was warm in my bed with a cute cat next to me, I had a good job to get up for, dreams to concur, and my body felt alive and healthy. You know what’s the best? Waking up a few hours before your alarm is set to go off and realizing you still have plenty of time to go back to sleep. What’s even better is waking up during an especially awesome dream and getting to continue it. I am very happy with this Wednesday morning.
Some days you get a gift of better clarity, perspective and foresight. This is one of those days. I worked on my book last night and was very happy with the progress I made. I am getting conflicting reports on what to do next however… some say that a solid outline and first chapter is enough coupled with my blog statistics, while others say that I will need a polished manuscript in order to get a publisher since this is my first book. Either way I am going to start putting the project out there at the end of January in the hopes that I can at least get an agent, if not a book contract as well. Having a good agent would be huge and a big confidence booster for me. We will see what happens…I feel like I am ready to make this a reality and I have been following through with action.
This week I have been eating a lot of whole foods while eliminating processed crap, dairy and meats. Basically, I have temporarily gone vegan just to see what it would feel like. I do not plan to permanently stop eating dairy and meat, b/c I love both of them very much. But it’s been fun to try something new and I feel like it’s been beneficial to my body in only a matter of days. I thought eliminating dairy would be especially difficult, but it’s been no big deal. The easiest thing I did was swap my regular 1% milk for almond milk. It’s really tasty and even has more calcium. I was afraid to try it honestly, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been tracking my food on Livestrong’s MyPlate app, and my protein intake has been above normal even without the meat and dairy. That always blows my mind a little bit. Anyway, this is just an experiment to broaden my horizons. It’s been fun!