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I’ve probably used this analogy here before, but sometimes I feel like blogging is a lot like keeping in touch with a friend who lives far away. When you make a point to talk on the phone frequently, it’s really easy to just dial her up and tell her about the latest, stupid little thing that’s happened. But, when you haven’t talked to her in a while, you can’t just call her up and be all, “Oh my god you would not believe the size of the ball of ear wax that just came out of my ear!” because first you have to catch up on all the big things that are going on and by the time you’ve heard about how she’s selling her house and they’ve adopted a Romanian orphan, the news of your ear wax ball, impressive though it surely is, seems to pale a little in comparison.

But! Since I get to talk first, you get to hear all about my metaphorical (and maybe literal) ear wax balls before you get to tell me about your new orphan. God I love blogging.

I quit my job. You know, the job writing and editing for Paw Nation (and also writing for other AOL properties) which I’ve done for the last few years and  LOVED. I don’t really want to go into details right here, right now — it just doesn’t seem cool — but let me just say that I’m a big believer in signs, and this time, the universe made it really clear that it was time for me to move on, and so I have. I’m still figuring out exactly what I’m going to do, but I’m planning to use the opportunity (yes, I’m totally considering it an opportunity) to follow my heart and get some exciting new experiences under my belt. It’s all good, I promise.

I did a (practice) tri. My big race, the Olympic length St. Anthony’s tri, is Sunday (as in, like, a few days away), but a little over a week ago I did a sprint distance tri (about half the length) in Jacksonville to warm up, along with my friend Jodi (who took first place in our age group — I took third). Overall, it left me feeling pretty excited for the race, and only somewhat nervous. Maybe a little more than somewhat, but I’m definitely not freaking out. Well, not much, anyway. Most of the time.

I threw a killer party. The animal rescue I volunteer with, Puppy Hill Farm, had its biggest fundraiser of the year on Friday night, and I sort of headed up the committee for the event. It was pretty major and incredibly stressful but, overall, I think it was a pretty big success, and I’m already brimming with ideas for next year. Because clearly I’m insane. (Although one of the main ideas is GET MORE HELP. I think that’ll make a huge difference.) Still, it’s a huge weight off my shoulders to have this over — I’ve been working on it in some way for the last five months, and when I woke up Saturday and knew there was nothing I needed to do, well, I almost wept with relief.

I had an emotional surprise. After the Puppy Hill gala, we had loads of flower centerpieces left over, and one of the women there suggested taking some to a nursing home. I was planning on doing a bike/run brick out in Trenton (you remember this trail, right?), which is where the nursing home where my grandma lived for several years is located. I figured since I’d be in the area, I’d stop in, drop flowers off, thank the nurses for all they did, and be on my way. Well, I got no further than saying, “My grandmother lived here for quite a while,” before the nurses all said, “Oh, you’re Sara’s granddaughter! We just loved her so much.” And then I sobbed. This was not at all expected. I mean, Grandma Sara died over a year ago, and I was pretty prepared for it even then. Why this hit me so hard, I couldn’t tell you, but I’m extremely touched that these nurses cared enough about Grandma to not only remember her, but even remember her granddaughter.

Okay, you’re all caught up on me, I think. (I’ll save the ear wax ball story for another time.) Now what’s new with you all? Anybody moving, having babies, getting a new hair cut?


I contribute regularly to a number of different outlets, and while this space is a good place to list them all, the idea of a space that’s a little more focused on that and that alone is … well, maybe not a necessity, but I like it. I like it a lot.

Enter I saw some other people’s profiles, was impressed, and signed up to be part of it when it got going. And, it’s now getting going. I think it’s a really sleek, simple way to list the places people can find my work while still being able to personalize it enough to let folks know what they’re getting into. So, if you don’t get enough of me here and want to check out my profile, voila!

I didn’t know about life lists until sometime last year (for someone who blogs for a living, I’m surprisingly slow to pick up on things like this), at which point I was completely enthralled with the idea. Shocking, I know, considering I make lists to keep track of my lists for trips and work and stuff. I mean, you guys don’t even know how hard it was for me to not create a whole life spreadsheet. (Okay, fine, I made one. But I’m not sharing it, so don’t tell. Shhh.)

Anyway, so I’ve basically been working on it for a year. Partly in my head, partly on Post-Its, and partly in various documents on my computer. And finally I decided, ENOUGH! Does it have any power if it’s not shared? I don’t know, but I want to share it — I want it to be real, and I want a reason to work toward checking off the items.( A reason other than the fact that these items are things I just totally want to do. Because, I guess, that’s not reason enough? Whatever.)

One of the things I loved about creating this is that it not only gave me a way to articulate things I want to accomplish, but it gave me an excuse to look back on things I’ve done; things I’m proud of. Just because I’ve already done it doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of being on the list, you see — if I hadn’t already done it, it would be on there, so why not put it on there and have something to cross off, right?

(Yes, I do that with my to-do lists, also. SHUT UP.)

So, with no further ado (because this has been a lot of ado — much, and about nothing, really), here it is: My Life List. It doesn’t all make sense, and I might not do all of it, and that’s okay. Let me know what’s on yours — maybe I’m missing something! (And shitballs, that was more ado, wasn’t it? Sorry, y’all.)

(Big thanks to Kate O for inspiring me to separate this into sections, which has helped immensely. And, fellow life listers — if I stole your idea, I’m totally sorry and you can tell me I stole it and I’ll add in a link. I promise I didn’t do it on purpose!)

Key: italics mean it’s in progress, bold means I’ve done it. If it’s bold and in italics, it probably requires explanation

1.    Live on the beach
2.    Own a house with a backyard and guest rooms
3.    Live a laid-back life on a laid-back island, in the Caribbean or elsewhere
4.    Marry someone who makes me laugh and think
5.    Know the best restaurants and bars (hole-in-the-wall, fancy, whatever) in every city I love
6.    Become a regular at a local restaurant or bar (Norm!) (preferably, within walking distance of the beach house I’ll live in)
7.    Live in a truly energy-efficient home
8.    Plant a beautiful flower garden and keep it alive for more than a year

9.    Spend a month (or more) in Europe without everything planned out
10.    Fly first class on a long flight
11.    Go to Egypt; see the pyramids and the Sphinx, etc.
12.    Do a Pacific Northwest wine tour
13.    Hike and camp Machu Picchu
14.    Drive throughout the Northeast in the fall to see the leaves
15.    Attend a Final Four basketball game (TWICE!)
16.    Take a roadtrip with girlfriends
17.    Go on an African (photo) safari
18.    Ride public transportation alone in a major city
19.    Spend enough time in another country that people no longer assume I’m an American tourist
20.    Go to Hawaii and visit at least three islands
21.    Go horseback riding along the beach
22.    Zipline through a rain forest
23.    Visit the hometowns of my ancestors (which would probably involve finding out where they lived, I suppose, and also who they were, and gah, this sounds like a lot of work.)

Good Stuff
24.    Help homeless animals in more ways than adopting
25.    Become fluent (again) in Spanish
26.    Learn French, German, and Italian well enough to get by
27.    Take a painting class
28.    Surprise my goddaughter with a really amazing, life changing gift
29.    Celebrate a major anniversary with good friends at a fancy party
30.    Start or join a book club with a wide variety of people
31.    Send my family on an all-expenses paid vacation
32.    Learn to be a better photographer and print, then frame and hang my favorite photos
33.    Own a nice camera
34.    Be a season ticket holder for the closet college’s football and basketball teams
35.    Hike a mountain and have a picnic of wine and cheese at the top
36.    Write down my parents’ stories
37.    Develop a pet product and donate proceeds to an animal-related charity
38.    Star in a play (in high school — Arsenic and Old Lace, I was Aunt Abby — but I’d like to do it again)
39.    Read the classics I missed in high school
40.    Commit favorite quotes to memory
41.    Organize a 5k to benefit charity
42.    Know the names of all my neighbors
43.    Send cards with a handwritten letter on people’s birthday

44.    Start exercising first thing in the morning
45.    Be good enough at golf to play without constant embarrassment
46.    Learn to surf (thanks Erin)
47.    Be confident in a bathing suit, regardless of the size on the tag (without the help of any boozy drinks)
48.    Coach youth sports
49.    Waterski all the way around a lake
50.    Complete a sprint, Olympic, and Ironman 70.3 triathlon
51.    Win the swimming leg of a triathlon
52.    Learn swing dancing with my husband and be GOOD at it
53.    Play in a beach volleyball tournament
54.    Learn to breakdance
55.    Take an adult tap class (and perform!)
56.    Paddleboard (I mean, I did it, but not very far or for very long or very well, so I think it deserves another go)

57.    Become an expert wine taster (Taste 1000 wines and KEEP NOTES)
58.    Cook a vegetarian meal that meat eaters love (I have yet to win over my Dad, but there are several meatless meals that Jared totally digs)
59.    Grow vegetables, then eat them
60.    Make a pie like my Grandma’s
61.    Dedicate one afternoon a week to drinking wine with a couple of friends (this would require not having to work every afternoon, so I guess I should add WORK LESS)
62.    Learn to identify 100 cheeses by taste
63.    Put together a cookbook of my favorite recipes to share with friends

64.    Have a beautiful (and beautifully organized) closet
65.    Keep my house clean on a regular basis
66.    Print the good photos I have saved on my computer
67.    Create a travel file and keep notes on where I’ve been, what I liked best, what I would do differently, etc.
68.    Go through old home videos, edit them, and put all the keeper parts into a digital file

69.    Win a Halloween costume contest in something I created
70.    Wear something stylish that I sewed myself
71.    Put all my printed photos into albums
72.    Organize all my crafty supplies and keep them in one place (even the same room would be a start)

73.    Write a book that makes people laugh
74.    Write a book that makes people think (these can be the same book or different ones)
75.    Have someone recognize me (by name or sight) because I wrote something that resonated with them
76.    Interview a really, really famous actor (Sean Connery)/athlete (Misty May-Treanor, Aaron Rodgers)/writer/____
77.    Write for a living
78.    Have a column in a local newspaper
79.    Put all of my favorite articles/posts/stories together in one place

80.    Develop a signature style
81.    Find the perfect mascara
82.    Phase leather out of my wardrobe and own high quality, beautiful, cruelty-free shoes and purses and jackets
83.    Buy a pair of high heels that don’t hurt my feet, regardless of cost
84.    Decorate my house in a way that makes me smile
85.    Learn to mix patterns successfully
86.    Find the perfect perfume
87.    Own a DVF wrap dress
88.    Put together a collection of cool hats

89.    Throw out the first pitch of a baseball game
90.    Bid on and win a big ticket item at a silent auction
91.    Sing on key (so, um, taking voice lessons should probably be on there)
92.    Curate an enviable repertoire of jokes
93.    Be able to sew more than a button
94.    Get in a fight, and preferably win
95.    Walk a red carpet
96.    Perform a stand-up comedy routine
97.    Be an extra on a favorite TV show
98.    Watch an old movie outside, either at a park or on a beach
99.    Perform “We Didn’t Start the Fire” at karaoke
100.    Dance on a table in public

Is this list final? Hell no. I’m sure I’ll add things as I think of them, and I’ll remove them when they no longer appeal to me. But it’s a start, right?

Back in the early days, when J and I were dating and just married, it was so weird to say good bye to each other for more than, like, the day. Now granted, I’m a more emotional person than most (and yes I cry at commercials and movie trailers all the time), but I would actually get teary if he was going out of town for two or three days.

(It was different, by the way, if I were the one leaving, because WOO HOO vacation!)

Now that he travels for work — a lot — that has obviously changed. After all, his first day of his current job was actually a two week trip to California and Puerto Rico, so we kind of had to get used to that quickly.

People are always asking me, “Isn’t that so haaard?” with a sympathetic tilt of the head. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried when we first realized just how much he’d be gone, but the thing that’s most surprising is how easily we both settled into things. I might talk to the dogs a bit more than I used to, and I definitely expect them to respond more often, but it’s very rarely lonely. And the nice thing is that, when he’s home, he’s really home. And since I work from home and we share an office, I get to see a lot of him when he’s here.

(Added bonus — when he’s been gone for a few days for work, I’m truly and genuinely excited to see him. How many people are that thrilled to see their spouses walk in the door after work?)

In fact, I just realized something last night. I’ve been trying to schedule my life around when he’s home; turning down offers for ladies’ night parties and other activities with girlfriends because he was in town and, well, didn’t that mean we needed to spend time together? And the irony of this is that it’s more important than ever that I have these friendships because there are so many days and nights when I’m on my own and would love to have something fun to do.

(Let me be very clear — at no point has J ever asked me to stay home with him. I mean, sure, he likes having me around — WHO WOULDN’T? — but he’s always encouraged me to hang out with my friends, and I’ve done the same for him.)

I read something the other day about how people don’t sleep enough during the week, and they try to make up for it by sleeping in on the weekends, but it doesn’t work that way. Getting more on Saturday and Sunday doesn’t change the fact that you got so little the rest of the week — you’re better off aiming to make each hour of sleep you can squeeze the best it can be.

See where I’m going with this?

It’s not that I don’t love sitting around and doing nothing with my husband. I honestly do — Sunday afternoon happy hour on our back porch is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. But I also think it’s important that, rather than look at how much time we can spend in the same house, focus on doing more fun things, even if that means less time together.

So, I broke the cycle. He’s home this weekend, but I’m spending Saturday kayaking with friends. I don’t think we’ll have too hard a time squeezing in some fun on Sunday, especially if it’s anything like Sunday before last.

Hollie's first off-leash experience

Tired, happy girls

Also: THIRSTY. And cute.

Yes, those were gratuitous dog pictures, but Hollie just turned a year old and it seemed appropriate. You’re welcome.

My job isn’t always easy, and it’s very rarely glamorous, but some of the people in my virtual office make it pretty damn easy to show up every day. Usually, like in any office, we talk about work, but other times (like in any office), we get … a little off topic.

Today, I was instant messaging with Susan during lunch, and we now have an (amazing) idea for a theme restaurant: Celebrity Head Salads.

me: I just ate a salad the size of Ben Affleck’s head
Susan: I am picturing your salad served IN Ben Affleck’s head
also, is his head larger than your average head? or salad?
me: he’s got a giant noggin. and i’m opening a restaurant. like, you could order in sizes: Reese Witherspoon, Bradley Cooper, or the GIANT Ben Affleck
Susan: Celebrity Head Salads!
me: awesome
Susan: i cannot stop laughing
or pituring various celebs with their heads in salad
me: it’s HILARIOUS
think about John Malkovich!
Susan: the Toby McGuire salad would be both small and vegan
me: laughing SO LOUDLY now
Susan: wondering what would be in a Puff Daddy salad
which would also be smallish, yes?
me: Tom Cruises would be short, and filled with weird Scientology veggies
Susan: Mark Anthony = small
me: definitely
me: but JLo would be HUGE
Susan: hhahaahah

me: and with croutons of gooooold
well, shavings, maybe
and truffles!
Susan: snorting
me: and caviar, for SURE
Mel Gibson’s would be served with a jug of wine, and would NOT be kosher
(I’m so blogging this, btw)
Susan: god I hope so
Can you imagine if we worked in a real office and could actually go somewhere? Like, with alcohol? It might be safer to be in different parts of the country.

I quit my job. Not all of them, but one of the major ones — my editing gig at StyleList. It’s a great site, but it’s gone in one direction, and I’m just not that flexible. Fortunately, at the same time that I quit StyleList, I was able to pick up an editing job with Holidash once again, where I’m working with one of my very favorite people in the whole world (Susan, stop blushing).

For many reasons, the last couple of months have been full of uncertainty and upheaval. Normally, my work life is very, very organized, and it’s felt a little out of control as of late (my own doing), but I’m getting it all back in order. I’m making my (voluntary) spreadsheets again, and putting things on my calendar (with proper reminders). I’m making To-Do lists and crossing items off (albeint, sometimes slowly). I’m waking up less in the middle of the night in a panic because, oh my god, did I do That Thing I was supposed to do this morning? Yes? No? Shit, maybe …

Yes, things are stressful, and life is sometimes haaard, but the problems I have are mainly problems that stem from good. I’m stressed about work because I care, and I like my job, and I want to do it well (and also because I spent a couple of days at the beach working and was bummed to be on my computer instead of on a towel in the sand). And, bottom line, I have a job. So, not gonna complain.

My house is messy, but I live in a house I love, and it’s messy because I live in it with a dog and a cat and a husband, and sometimes, we’d all rather snuggle than clean up. I can live with that.

My heart still hurts and my throat still closes up every time I think about Yuki (dammit, there we go again), but it’s only because I had a chance to know an amazing soul, and because I experienced the kind of bond some people dream about. And, as a really good friend recently told me, it’s because I have a big heart that it takes so long to heal. That’s not such a bad problem to have.


On Saturday, I will have three months until turning 30. I’m ready to turn 30 in a lot of ways (and that’s a whole other post, which you’ll see soon), but there are things to do before then. I’m ready to get a move on it. I’m ready to actively work toward my goals. But right now, I’m ready to take a shower and go grocery shopping, because my fridge? Well, there’s not much in there that doesn’t have mold growing on it. Cleaning that out and filling it with food that’s edible seems like a good first step.

I’ve never lived alone. I went from living with my folks, to living in the dorms, to living with roommates, to living with Jared. And, since living with Jared, I’ve probably only stayed home alone for a few nights at a time. Until now.

He’s been gone for a week (a week!) doing training with Oakley, and he just went to Puerto Rico with them today for meetings or beer drinking contests or bikini judging or something, and will be there until Saturday. Most likely, I’ll see him Sunday. And man, I miss him. A lot.

However, being slightly weird and antisocial, I actually like spending time alone. But, it’s really weird to have a job that doesn’t require me to leave, and then also not having anyone else come into the house. Don’t get me wrong — there’s no pity party going on here. I’ve been able to be really productive (like, I cleaned, y’all, and plan to clean again). It’s just weeiiird.

Okay, and this productivity thing — I don’t know whether it’s because I know that, if I don’t do it, things won’t magically get done the way they do when Jared’s home, or if it’s because I don’t have someone to sit and be lazy with at night, but it’s bizarre. I normally get into a crazy cleaning mood once every few months, but I’ve already spent hours tidying and stuff on multiple nights. What gives? Will this go away when he gets home?

God, I hope so.

We had a bit of excitement today. It was Jared’s last day of work at his old job — he’d been there for over 10 years, and he’s now moving on to his dream job, working for Oakley. He got out of work early, so we decided to take the afternoon to do something fun, and to celebrate. And because we’re good doggy parents, we took the dogs.

And, as it turns out, they can fly.




We went to Watermelon Pond, which doesn’t actually contain a pond (it dried up long ago), but has a giant field for the dogs to run in, and some really cool trees.





The dogs had a really hard time figuring out just how (or why) J was up in a tree. Truth be told, I wasn’t entirely sure about why he was up there, either, but it made for some good pictures.

At any rate, it was a damn good day. The sun was shining, but for once, it wasn’t hot. And, I got to hang with my man and my dawgs. What more could a girl ask for?

I know, I know, it’s been a while. Longer than I would like, and I’m sorry. But I’ve been working really, really hard. Like, the other day, I got a pair of fancy jeans in the mail that I had to try on to review.  And then today, I got some makeup, so I had to play around with that. You know, to make sure it all works.

(And holy cow, just wait until you read my review on the Lip Venom. Just. You. Wait.)

Okay, aside from all that hard work, I’ve been doing a little something else — AOL is launching a new (and temporary) holiday blog, called Holidash, and guess who is the copy and line editor! No, not Natalie Portman — ME!

Unfortunately, there’s no way for me to use a red pen (total bummer), but I still get to go through and make changes. I’ll be doing a little writing for the site, too, but not as much as I do at StyleList or That’s Fit. Anyway, I’ll be sure to tell you when it goes live (hint: sometime in November). It’s gonna be great — fun, snarky, informative, and seriously festive. We have some brilliant and really funny writers participating, and I can’t wait to share what they’ve done with you.

My friend Kyle (who also writes at StyleList and Tonic with me, along with several other places) recently wrote a post on how she started blogging for a living, and asked me to join in the discussion. And, to be honest, she was pretty much right on the money — there’s a lot of luck involved in getting started.

My story is pretty simple. My trainer, Fitz, wrote for AOL’s health and fitness blog, That’s Fit, and knowing I was a writer, kept bugging me to submit samples. I held off because, while I’m athletic and try to stay fit, I don’t have a degree in health or fitness, and at that point I didn’t have anything published, and I just didn’t see how they would want to hire me — what did I have to offer, you know?

Then, last fall, Fitz got an email about a new wedding blog at AOL, and it needed writers. She threatened to really beat me up at our next session if I didn’t submit samples, and since I have LOADS of experience with weddings (more on that another day), I was more than happy to oblige. I sent them in and was hired immediately. Like I said, luck.

From there, it was just a matter of letting those above me know that, should other writing opportunities come up, I was open to them, which is how I landed jobs at That’s Fit and StyleDash (which is now StyleList). My site lead at AisleDash, Susan, was involved in the startup of Chatterbox, so I got in there through her, and she also recruited me for BeautyHacks. And, my friend Cat, from StyleList, recommended me for Tonic.

I landed these jobs through contacts who are willing to help me out because they know I write well and consistantly meet deadlines. And, I’m always happy to step up when the occasion rises, often on a moment’s notice. Such is the glamorous life of a blogger.

Speaking of the glamor, let me break down a bit of what I do. I get up in the morning and start writing. Sometimes I start with ideas I formed in my own brain, but usually, I scour the Internet for hot ideas or products. Some days I work five or six hours, and sometimes it’s closer to 10. Some days I just can’t come up with much, so I walk away — I don’t want to burn myself out. But, that means the next day I have to kick it into gear, or else give up a day off.

The great thing is that I have immense flexibility in my schedule — I can have lunch with a friend or go on vacation when I want, no problem. However, I don’t get paid if I don’t work, and there’s no guarantee that the blogs I write for will be around forever (as I learned with Aisledash).

Some people expressed concern that I’d be alone, but I’m surprised at how not alone I feel. I’ve made some fantastic friends through work, and while they don’t live close enough to visit in person, we email and chat most days of the week. And, the beauty of that is, when I’m feeling antisocial, I can just wait to respond instead of closing my office door and starting a bunch of gossip. I like being alone a lot of the time (although I do find myself carrying on conversations with the dogs on occasion).

I love what I do. I don’t make a ton of money, but it’s better than what I’ve made at other jobs that caused me more stress and had far less flexibility (plus, they required the wearing of pants, to which I am somewhat morally opposed). I mean, I am a writer. Like, that’s my job, you know? It still blows my mind a little that I can say that. But I love my job because I love to write — if I didn’t, it would be incredibly difficult to get up and stare at my laptop every morning.

My best advice, if you want to start blogging for a living (or just as a side job) is to leave witty and well-written comments at the blogs you like. Find blogs you enjoy reading — they’ll be easier to write for — and submit samples with a short, smart cover letter to the editors, asking if they’re looking for contributers. Be friendly, remember names, and don’t be afraid to put something out there. Kyle has some other great suggestions in her post, but if you have any specific questions, leave a comment. I’ll do my best to help you out!

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