Getting Ready to Trip…How Do You Prepare for Hitting the Road?

I want this, badly!

How do you prepare for a trip, folks? Are you a last-minute packer? Do you plan every, single, thing out? Or do you go with the flow?

In about three weeks, I’ll be headed to the Bahamas for the first time. The Bahamas, y’all!! As a relative newbie to international travel (I only have 4 countries under my belt), I’m super excited for my first trip to the Caribbean. Even doper? I’m going for free! I’ll be headed to the Bahamas on a working press trip, and judging from my last jaunt to Milwaukee, I’m gonna have a funky good time (*cue James Brown*).

In preparation for my trip, I’m searching for the perfect swimsuit. I mean, you can’t go to the Bahamas with all of that turquoise water, and pristine sand, and NOT feel compelled to hit the beach, right? So, while I have what one might call a bathing suit stuffed in the back my dresser drawer, I think it’s only fitting to find a fly swimsuit for my inaugural trip to “the Islands.”

But here’s the thing: ‘m not the perfect size 6…or 8…or 12, for that matter. I’m what one might call a “curvy girl,” who fluctuates somewhere around a 16 (*gasp*, I just wrote that for real for real.). An while I carry my weight well (I’m tall & everything is proportionate), and I’ve had some serious swimsuit envy of the thick chicks who throw caution to the wind to rock a bikini, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it just yet. But as this Bahamas trip approaches, I’ve been eyeing the two pieces more and more and I think I just might cop one.

And yet….I still have doubts. What am I waiting for?

Yes, I could always wait until I shake this extra weight (the hiking is helping a lot) to rock a bikini, but even when I get down to my goal will I suddenly find the confidence to bare more skin? Or is my issue mental and am I not throwing on a dope bathing suit, sans coverup or shorts, because I’m afraid of what others will think of me?

Despite my brash exterior…I’m afraid it’s the later, rather than the former. But as Deepak Chopra said on Lifeclass (yes, I know I’m getting annoying quoting Lifeclass):

“What other people think of you is not your business. If you start to make it your business, you’ll be offended for the rest of your life”– Deepak Chopra

So while I’m still working on my body confidence, I think this trip will be just the thing I need to truly appreciate where I am at THIS moment of my journey and celebrate the progress I’ve made thus far.

How do you prepare for a trip? In your preparation have you ever had an ‘aha’ moment about your life? 

You Are What You Read – What’s On Your Bookshelf?

I love books. I adore cracking open a tome and losing myself between its pages. I love words–and even better, a well-told story.

I own so many books, that I have them stacked up, spilling over, and damn-near positioned on every table, bookshelf, floor, and nightstand. A mess, for sure, but my standom of words is quite apparent.

Although I love books, most of my collection consists of fiction. James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Colin Channer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernesto Quinonez, Junot Diaz, Tayari Jones–I could literally go on for days. But lately, I’ve been looking to add a little self-help/spiritually-focused material to my stash.

As many of you know I’ve been a SERIOUS fan of Oprah’s Lifeclass. And as a decidedly non-new-agey type, the weekly discussions on Lifeclass have been extremely helpful and eye-opening for me. Surprisingly, Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra have been two of my favorites thus far because they’ve been focusing on changing your “story”–or your thoughts, and creating the life that you want.

Much of what I do here, and will do on (don’t forget to signup) centers on living your most awesome life. Traveling, doing what you love, helping others, and not being bogged down by the burdens of your past is what I’m most interested in these days.

Call it maturing or call it not being interested in negativity anymore, whatever the case may be, I’ve realized that life is too short, too precious, and too full of potentially dope experiences to constantly look back regretting what you could have done.

On the strength of yesterday’s Lifeclass I went out and bought Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. From the opening pages, it had me, and I’m hoping this will be yet another resource that will continue to guide me in the right direction.

I’ll leave you with this:

You are what your deep, driving desire is.

As your desire is, so is your will.

As your will is, so is your deed.

As your deed is, so is your destiny.

–Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV. 4.5

What’s on your bookshelf these days?

Go Outside. Now!

Hiking in RPV

I don’t know about you, but I hate the gym. It’s not that I’m lazy (ok, sometimes I am), but I just don’t like the repetition of doing the exact same thing day in and day out, no matter how many new fangled machines there are. My beef with the gym boils down to one thing–I get bored. Quickly. So, with a birthday looming, I’ve been looking for ways to get healthier without stepping foot in the YMCA.

While I own (and shhhh, have downloaded) a plethora of workout DVDs, they also bore the hell out of me. Last year I managed to make it through Level 1 of Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, but I haven’t been consistant or finished the program since then. No matter how much motivation I have starting out, I can’t get over the fact that by the end of the week, I can quote each “joke,” motivational tip, and command. Which, again, leaves me feeling completely bored and uninspired to do it again.

So….what do you do when you hate the gym and workout DVDs get annoying very easily? You head outdoors!

A few weeks ago Le Kid and I took an impromptu trip to Griffith Park to hike and have a picnic. Despite grabbing onto me for dear life for the first half of the trip because he thought he was going to fall off the side of the mountain (he wasn’t even close), we ended up having a really good time. We had an “adventure” and although it was tough, when we got home I I found myself Googling other local spots for hikes. I found one near me in Rancho Palos Verdes and have been back several times to get it in.

Although I’m not the “outdoorsy” type (no camping, fishing, etc.) I really enjoy going out for hikes. Yes, I feel like I’m going to die when I’m (slowly) making my way up a hill, but at the end, I feel accomplished and the view is just so damn pretty I can barely take it.

These hikes have also given me some time to connect with God, organize my thoughts, and just be generally thankful for how my life is shaping up.

How could I NOT appreciate this view of the Pacific?

Last week was a mentally difficult one. I was waiting to be paid for several articles I’d written, I was beginning to doubt my choices (again), and I was wondering how I’ll reach my ideal life if I’m so drained from working so hard for others (yes, even as a freelancer). Instead of completely throwing in the towel, my hikes gave me an opportunity to remember all of the things that were going right and that I had to be thankful for. I mean, it’s hard to be depressed when you’re out on a brilliantly clear day with the ocean staring you in the face.

But what I also realized is that while my body is getting healthier and stronger, these hikes serve to strengthen my mental resolve as well, and for a freelancer or anyone working toward a really big, seemingly impossible goal, this is key.

Reaching your goals takes an unlimited amount of mental fortitude. It’s not easy to strike out and dedicate your whole self to your goals. The what-if-I-fail thoughts will kick in. Negativity from those you hoped would have your back happens. And you begin to question what the hell you’re actually doing. You ask yourself what makes you so special that you think that you will make it when many others have tried and failed.

I get it. I’ve been there. Hell, I am there. But what I know to be true is just as much time and effort we put into reaching our goals, we need to also put as much time and effort into taking care of our mental and physical selves while we’re trying to reach them. In the end, there’s no use of making it to the top and being too depressed, disgruntled, or too unhealthy to enjoy it.

How do you make sure you’re taking care of your mental & physical help while you work toward your goals? 


Want more #GOALdigging tips and trick? Sign up for my new site, Together we’ll build a supportive army of GOAL-diggers and dream-chasers so we’ll all reach our goals together.

Why Wait?

“So many fail because they don’t get started, they don’t go. They don’t overcome inertia. They don’t begin.” – W. Clement Stone

Getting started is tough. Believe me, I get it.  Once we get our “great idea” or set our ambitious goals we talk a good game, we plan forever, we brainstorm incessantly…but we wait for things to be just so, to be perfect, before we begin. And then…just like that, we never get started.

And soon, before we know it, weeks, months, and years have passed by and we just wasted a whole lot of time waiting until things were just right before we began working on our goals. But as you already know, things will never be perfect. Perfection is an illusion.

I was speaking to a Facebook pal the other day when she mentioned a blog project she is working on. Although she had been toiling away for some time, she wasn’t quite ready to release her baby to the world because it wasn’t perfect. While I totally understand, waiting until her blog was amazingly designed or until she collected all of her thoughts into an assemblage of kick-ass blog posts meant it was never going to happen.

Like anything…you have to overcome the inertia and just get started…even if things aren’t quite in order.

After she showed me her blog, I didn’t understand why she was waiting. Her idea was DOPE and it needed to be shared. But still she had doubts. Like so many others, she was stuck in the perfection trap.

But thankfully, there is a very simple way to get out of it.


On his blog, the Art of Non-conformity, Chis Guillebeau suggest folks set a deadline to begin working toward their goals/projects, and then shorten it.

He writes, “Find a way to launch your project within 30 days of conceiving it. If that feels uncomfortable, make it 3 days.”

Making yourself uncomfortable often causes you to feel a sense of urgency, which will help you overcome the inertia and begin taking actual steps toward your goal.

About a year ago, I bought and planned to unveil it to the world…one day. After a year of putting in work for others trying to kick my freelance career into gear, I decided it was past time to put in the same amount of work for myself.

But after weeks of toiling around, looking for WordPress themes, color schemes, and playing with Photoshop, I decided to just roll it out to the world. To do this, I created a sign-up page to let people know when it is going to go live and—although I never thought I wanted to ever write one—I’m working on a very short ebooklet that will explain what my site will be all about—helping others reach their goals while I work toward mine.

Will it be perfect from the beginning? Certainly not, but just getting started is the best way for me to get as close to perfect as I can get. Because inaction, certainly won’t get me any closer to the life that I want.

Have you been procrastinating on something you’ve wanted to do? What’s stopping you from just getting started?  

Underneath It All: What’s Holding You Back?

Taken at Abalone Cove...underneath the water lie a flurry of sea life. We had a ball!

You can see it clearly. You know exactly what your ideal life looks like–what you’d do, how you’d live, and how you’d feel if you were just able to live exactly how you wanted. But time, life, circumstances, or finances are in the way and you just can’t make it to the life you so desperately crave.

Sound familiar?

For most of my life I’ve always held back. I’ve always been very measured, even-tempered, mild-mannered, quiet, and lived in my head. I guess that’s why I’m a writer. You know the phrase “still waters run deep”? That sums me up.

Despite my outward, reserved demeanor, my mind is always moving—racing, even–as I think about the life that I want.

As I mentioned before, I have an issue sharing my truth. While I think everyone should keep a bit of their business to themselves, my “truth” (read: most everything about my life) typically stays with me. I don’t talk about it, I don’t share it, I don’t allow people to give me their opinion on it. Nada. Why? I don’t want to hear people’s judgments, pity, and most of the time, their point of view. It sounds harsh, but underneath it all, I like to project an air of calmness, of togetherness, and front like I have it all under control. I like to appear perfect.

But perfection is incredibly oppressive (peace to Anne Lamott), and the more you strive to be perfect the more trapped you’ll be by the illusion you’ve created for yourself. I learned the hard way, but slowly (veeeerrry slowly) I’m letting go.

Last night, I watched Oprah and Bishop T.D. Jakes talk about living with purpose, and one of the things Oprah said that resonated with me was, “Even if you’re in the middle of disaster, you can use that disaster for direction.”

That really struck me because I’ve had my fair share of disasters. Getting fired from my first “real” job; finding out I was pregnant while unemployed and in an unstable relationship; raising my kid alone…all very big disasters. But instead of being crushed by them, I was able to respond to each of them in a way that didn’t break me, but rather made me stronger and more resilient.

What I’ve learned throughout the years is that how we respond to life’s disasters is vital because it sets up our next big thing.

Typically people respond to a crisis in a few ways:

1) Go into paralysis & become completely stuck.
2) Go into problem solving mode & look for a solution.
3) Choose not to deal with it and move onto something else entirely.
4) Distract themselves with vices (drinking, sex, gambling, food, escapism, etc.).

Personally, I’ve done them all (no sex, though…sadly lol). But while I may have wallowed in feeling stuck or decided not even to deal with a crisis, at the end of the day, I have been forced to deal with things head one. While I’m not superwoman and haven’t conquered EVERY challenge (I’m still working on a few), there is something very powerful about finding solutions and knowing you can change things.

How we deal with life’s adversities can either be our undoing or our catalyst to something greater.

Which do you choose?

Yes, the Truth Can Be Scary

getting to work...

They say the truth can set you free, but I think it can also set your house on fire if you let it go unattended.

I’ll let you in on a secret. I have an issue with the truth.

While I’m not a liar, per se, I just don’t like to divulge certain information about myself willingly. While this seems counter-intuitive for someone who lives her life (very openly) in the digital space, there are certain things I no longer talk about because–frankly–it’s none of your business.

But in writing this book (oh, I didn’t tell you I am writing one?), I’ve come face-to-face with the truth, and I’m wondering just how much of it I want to tell.

Back in 2010 I saw a therapist. He told me I was brave, and back then I believed him. I set about creating goals, working toward my dream of becoming a full-time writer, and freeing myself from the overwhelming feeling of being stuck. Despite the progress I made I still have an issue with disclosing certain things about myself that I’m afraid to share for fear of other’s jugement (no, I’m not as tough as I look). Let me be clear, though. Strangers? I don’t care about sharing with them. My peoples, though? Scared to death.

I shouldn’t be, though. They’ve always held me down, but somewhere there is always this voice inside that tells me to hold back a little and not say too much or else they’ll give me THE side-eye of all side-eyes and begin questioning what the hell I was thinking.

That’s all too much. And I don’t want to think about it.

But in writing this book….I’ve come to the realization that the truth will come out, and however it shatters this facade I’ve created is just how it goes down.

Last night I began writing #TheBook.

I took a cue from Anne Lamott and just began getting it all down. You see, I know what my idea is and where I want to start, but making it sound just so can be paralyzing. So I just began culling my memories and writing.

And then this happened:

The night I brought him home from the hospital he cried and cried for hours until his little tawny face turned bright red. I didn’t know what was wrong. He wasn’t wet or hungry or sleepy–although he should have knocked himself out from all that crying. I know he wore me out.

That night his dad called from Men’s Central—he was still being held in L.A. then—and Little O cried his heart out while his father asked if he was hungry or hurt and why I couldn’t get him to stop.

No. My answer that night was no. He’s fine, but I have no idea what his problem is. Maybe he’s crazy like you, I offered.

I remember being angry that his dad was gone. Pissed that he’d gotten arrested and was missing out on hearing this kid yelp in real-time. I was upset and angry and tired my damn self that he could only be with us on the other end of a phone call. I was still hopeful then that he would make it home before Le Kid learned to walk or talk or remember he had been missing. But that wasn’t the case. Six years into motherhood and his dad still parents over the phone.

That night I nearly drowned Little O with baby gas drops, hoping they’d pop the imaginary bubble I thought was growing in his belly. I worried I was overdosing him, although the bottle said it was impossible. But who can be too sure?

Maybe he was just mad. Who knows. But I’m sure my neighbors hated my guts that night. It was the first time I thought that perhaps that abortion I’d considered when I found out I was pregnant might have been a good idea after all. If this is what our first night looks like, I thought, how the hell would I handle the next 18 years?

I’m not sure where this all will lead; the truth has a way of dragging you along for the ride.

But what I do know is that if I honor it, write it, share it, the truth may indeed set me free after all; and if not, it will lead me exactly where I needed to be all along.

Please tell me I’m not alone in this–can you relate? Do you have a problem telling your truth? 

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Have you thought about an idea so long it became apart of you? Even if you tried to escape it, you couldn’t run fast enough. And even when you procrastinated on it or filled your life up with so many other things that took your attention off of the idea, it still sat there, waiting for you you in those quiet moments right before you went to sleep?

Have you ever had one of those…or is it just me?

Last time I wrote about my “now what?!” moment—you know that time when you’ve taken the leap and jumped headlong into a life-changing choice. At first, you’re exhilarated and bolstered by the adrenaline. But then doubt sets in and you begin to second-guess your decision. You begin to doubt your abilities, and you begin to think you made a HUGE mistake.

Yup…I was there. And if I’m honest with myself, I revisit that place often, but as Oprah said on Lifeclass, “Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway“—so that’s what I’m doing.

For as long as I have been writing, I have been thinking, dreaming, and wanting to write a book. For a writer, having the stamina, focus, and determination to complete a whole book is the ultimate goal.

Although I had to finish a manuscript when I was in grad school to get my MFA, it was in poetry…which, if I’m being honest (again), I chose because it came fairly easy to me (a pattern in my life). But deep down, I always wanted to write a novel or other work of prose.

Over the years I’ve started and stopped multiple stories. I’ve told myself I don’t have the focus, the attention span, or a good enough idea to finish an entire book. Basically, I psyched myself out before I really got started (sound familiar?). But recently…that idea, that gnawing feeling to put pen to paper and write a book has come back again, and this time I won’t be ignoring it.

Telling myself that I’m going to write a book is scary. Admitting what you really want and telling yourself you’re going to try to accomplish it is a completely terrifying proposition.

In 2010 I wrote a list of things I wanted to accomplish. Hiking was one. Last Sunday, I reached my goal!

As with any new or different experience, self-doubt starts to creep in.

Can I do it?
What if I suck?
What if no one likes my work?
What if I can’t get it published?
What is nobody buys it?
What if I fail?

I’m sure you’re familiar with these questions. Anyone who has ever decided to do something, anything of value knows these questions well. But the key is to just push past them and get to work.

When it comes to writing, I’m my toughest critic. I constantly edit myself, erasing whole passages before I’ve given them a chance. I’ve often gotten stuck on a sentence, a thought, a page—paralyzed by the fear of sounding like a talentless hack. But as Anne Lamott pointed out in her book Bird by Bird:

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

Although the thought of actually writing a book completely unnerves me, I decided to research the process instead of shooting down my idea before I even allow it a little space to breathe and grow.

Along with revisiting Lamott’s Bird by Bird, I picked up Thinking Like Your Editor which will help me navigate the proposal-writing process. I’ve also reached out to friends who have already done what I’m planning to do for their advice. So progress is being made and it feels…good (and terrifying, and nerve-wracking, but definitely really good).

But how about you?

Once you’ve identified your goals (and if you haven’t…get some already!), did you start taking steps to get you there or are you still stuck in fear?

Remember this:

Set the goal and believe you can do it: When I heard Oprah say, “We become what we believe,” I had an ah-ha moment. I’ve been believing the wrong ish about myself. Time to rewrite the script.

Plot your steps: Once you have your goal, go about finding out what it’ll really take for you to reach it and make a plan to do so.

Follow-through: Toughest part of the process—the action. Yes, we know what we want and we may even know how to get it, but will we actually get started? What’s holding you back?

Be accountable: If no one knows you’re working toward a goal, it’s easy to allow yourself to slack off. Tell the right people (those who will be dream supporters, not dream slayers), and let them know you want them help you keep your eyes on the prize (can you help me stay focused, y’all?).

What do you want to accomplish folks? I want to help you reach your goals any and every way that I can, and in the process, I know I will reach mine.

Let’s support each other! Drop a comment letting me know what you want to accomplish and how we (yes, we) can help.