Day 2: What’s the big deal?

In the Whole30, Day 2’s prediction is that you’ll experience smooth sailing and wonder what the big deal is. Of course, I have already done the Whole30 a couple times already, so I remember the optimistic early days and have decided to use the enthusiasm of this fresh start to set up systems as recommended by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits.

My hope is that I can use the momentum of the enthusiasm I have at the outset to create systems enjoyable enough to coast me through the uphill segments without a ton of additional effort.

One of the things that I started yesterday was getting the first phase of The Gabriel Method going… I found some bodies that might inspire me. It’s hard looking online for female bodies fit 5’7″, because much to my dismay, most of the “fit” bodies are what I’d consider too thin for me. I don’t want a thigh gap.

But finally, I found some role models.

I just got back from the gym a bit ago, and I’m pretty excited to spend some time working out there (as in: a lot of time). Today, I did a very light workout (half hour) because I don’t want to hurt myself going in too hard and too fast. We’re in this for the long haul, not to break records.

Day 1 is Today

But here we are, and pride be damned. I want today to be the start of something.

I’m always cautious to “make a public commitment” to start a new program, because what if I forget to update? What if I get lazy? What if I stop caring? Do I write about that? What if I get too busy to post the blog, and what if I stop eating right, and what if I don’t go to the gym? What if my knees start hurting and it doesn’t make medical sense to go to the gym? What if I run out of good food and only want peanut butter? What if I embarrass myself by starting something publicly and then stop?

I’m not grossly obese. This is probably not going to be a radical transformation over 6 weeks. I’m flabby and smushy and barely physically fit enough to do the things I want to do.

A year ago, I was working out a few times every week and my knees could support my chosen activities (mostly hiking).

Two years ago, I was working out regularly and just coming off of a very strict Whole30 phase – the first diet to work for me in a long time. I hardly drank at all. I was dedicated to clean living and clear thinking.

Three years ago, I was drinking a bottle of wine every day and scarfing down any food that appealed to me (mostly nachos). I had given up. I was at my highest weight in two decades: 176. I tried to get a handle on my eating, but as long as I was drinking a bottle of wine every night, eating right was something I could only handle for a few days before I caved into whatever garbage my husband was eating (mostly nachos).

And now? Now I’m none of those things. I’m 157.7 lbs. I’m not at the peak of my weight, but I’m 20 lbs from my ideal. I’m not completely incapable of doing the things I want to do physically, but they take quite a lot of effort. It’s just uncomfortable, not incapacitating.

But this isn’t what I want to be. At 44, I feel like there could be more… not just a thinner me, but more capability of my body. I’m an entrepreneur heading up a company at the verge of a big leap of growth – we assembled a board and are looking for the right investor – and I want to be mentally and physically up for the challenge of the next four or five years, since I know the focus and energy required will be significant.

So today is DAY 1.

I’m planning on posting every day.

Today, we’re starting off strong with the Whole30, which I mentioned earlier. I’m also re-reading The Gabriel Method, which made a lot of sense to me on a spiritual and emotional level when I read it a decade or so ago. I’ve got James Clear’s new and awesome book Atomic Habits and I ordered Transformation from Bill Phillips, who successfully motivated me to work out for many months back in the early 2000s. I’m tapping into EVERYTHING that has motivated me in fitness and life so far.

I’m clearing out the fridge and cupboards and hiding all the non-compliant foods, and replacing them with healthful, nutritious food that will serve as fuel for this new, exciting stage of my life.

At just a shade over 44, I know I’m getting ready to start the rest of my life – I’m not even at middle age, and the first 20ish years of my life were spent in a weird blur, so hardly count. My plan is to live to be more than 120 and enjoy the vitality and enthusiasm for life that my mom has in her mid-70s. My whole life is truly ahead of me.

Let’s begin!

My poor dog got attacked by a deer

“I didn’t even know a deer could attack a dog!”

It has been a pretty weird 48 hours, and even though it’s 4:30 in the morning, I figure I better get this post out now or I might not get to it in the rest of the day.

On Saturday late afternoon, just when Russ and I returned from him picking me up from the airport (with our dogs, who were beside themselves with joy to see me), Roxy ran out of the car after something. We called for her, but she didn’t come right away, so I started getting worried.

When I heard her yelping, we literally dropped everything and ran after her, finding her staggering out of a thicket of trees behind our house with a horrible gash on her back.

It was one of my worst nightmares in the world. Roxy is my precious darling.

I had heard that deer could attack dogs, but it seemed very unlikely that our dogs would even encounter a deer up close… but it’s rutting season, and according to this lifehacker article, that’s a dangerous time for deer encounters.

We immediately took Roxy to the vet, who was kind enough to see us just an hour before closing on Saturday. We live in a rural area, so there are really no emergency animal services up here… we’d have to drive down to Roseville to see anyone after hours.

They immediately put her on the table and administered anesthesia, and gave her a bunch of x-rays to see what kind of damage was done. Thankfully, the wounds were mostly superficial. No broken bones, which is especially good, since the hit was directly on her spine.

The vet gave her a whole lot of stitches — about 7″ worth of stitches in all — and kept her for the night. We picked her up yesterday morning, and have been tenderly taking care of her wounds, de-crusting her drains, and wiping off her seepage.

Let me tell you… to a person whose dog is everything, waking up in a small pool of dog blood is awful.

Which is why I’m awake. Also, jet lag. But I couldn’t sleep with Roxy laying there seeping next to me (no, that’s not a typo). I kept worrying that she’d wake up and pull on her stitches (we took the cone off for her to sleep), so I wanted to keep a watchful eye.

Deer are no joke.

Today, I’m supposed to drive to San Jose for the Quickbooks Connect conference, but truth be told, I’m not sure I want to go. My little doggie is so sad and hurt. 🙁

“I feel so out of my depth”

“I’m not very good at this. I feel so out of my depth.” Me, yesterday afternoon, struggling to sketch out our business plans in a slide.

“I think this is where you really shine, D!” Teresa, reassuring me (for about the hundredth time) that I am actually quite good at this weird unknown jungle.

I’m in the process of putting together an investor deck for Outlaw Soaps, our happy little soap company (which is taking over the world, by the way), and this is all new to me on so many levels. From the actual budgeting process itself, to the articulation of our strategy, to the sexy graphics required for such presentations, I’m struggling to get the deck together in a compelling way.

Russ and I started Outlaw Soaps in 2013, and since its inception, we have stayed fairly faithful to the business plan I sketched out in my little silver notebook. The products have changed, and we shifted our business strategy a little to capitalize on shifting markets and our improved understanding of the industry, but the concept and plan was a good one.

According to that plan, 2017 was when we wrapped up our product development (it leaked a little into early 2018), 2018 was the year we worked out all the kinks in our product line and  created a business foundation to grow on… and 2019 is when we get an investor.

When we started the business, I didn’t know anything about corporate structures or investors.

Before Outlaw, I had been a cubicle worker at the Oprah Winfrey Network, putting together product specifications for the developer team to execute on the website. Aside from glimpses into project budgets and ad insertions, the business side of the Oprahverse was invisible to me. I collected a bi-weekly paycheck. For my own entertainment, I’d periodically calculate the “return on investment” (ROI) of my employment to Oprah, adding up the ad projects I worked on and measuring that against my paycheck. As long as I cost 1/5 as much as I was making, I was satisfied.

But that was for “fun.” It was very different from submitting a plan for new hires and additional marketing expenses. All my projects were responses to advertiser or editorial team requests, translating vague hand-waving into hard plans… and now I’m both the vague hand-waver and the plan generator, plus the accounting department, the marketing department, and a lot of other random stuff.

A few months ago, in preparation for getting an investor (who would want to be on a board), I assembled a board of directors – trusted advisors I had worked with on other projects or at other jobs.

I had no idea how to assemble a board, but I knew that just like we defined our customers as the kind of people we’d want to go camping with, our board would be people we could be ourselves around, vulnerability and nonprofessionalism included.

I wanted to get everyone together before we brought on an investor, so we could establish a rapport among ourselves and come up with an articulate business strategy. I wanted the investor to come to an existing foundation so we didn’t have to scramble around getting ourselves introduced, etc. It seemed like the wise thing to do.

And I did assemble the right team, that’s for sure.

As chaotic as it is inside my head, our board has been so great about introductions, laying the foundation for good board meetings, and bringing the kind of leadership our business needs.

On Monday, I’m going to San Jose for my third annual trip to the Quickbooks Connect Conference, which I’ve found to be very enlightening. This year, I’m going with an ear toward connecting with investors.

In a surprise serendipitous moment, I found that a startup incubator in San Francisco will be having a mixer on Wednesday morning. I bought a ticket just to see if some wisdom might rub off on me in the company of these slick, smart Silicon Valley types.

With this business, we’ve stayed focused on being our authentic selves and bringing our earnestness to everything. We’re hard workers. We’re scrappy as hell. We made mistakes early and with our own money so that when we finally went to ask other people for money, we could do it with the confidence that they’re making a good investment.

I hope we’ll find someone who can appreciate our authenticity, even if my slides are a little rugged looking.

“How is this fair?” or Why the Electoral College Exists and Why You Need to Vote In Midterms

What follows is my very basic understanding of why the Electoral College exists. If you have more information, I invite you to include your thoughtful and respectful comments at the bottom of this post.

I saw a meme circulating a couple weeks ago pointing out the difference in electoral college representation between population centers and rural areas. The question was something like, “This whole area [indicating the center of the US] has more electoral college votes than these tiny areas [indicating major cities], but these tiny areas have many more people. How is that fair?”

When the electoral college was created, it was intended to balance power across a diverse set of people, none of whom have a lot in common. The city folk didn’t understand the needs of the farmers, and the farmers didn’t understand the needs of the industrialists. Neither could be trusted to hold the interests of the others in mind.

They regarded each other with justified suspicion.

When the US government was first set up, it was created to avoid one party getting too much power. The three bodies of government (The Executive, Judicial, and Legislative) were only the beginning of checks and balances.

In order for the checks and balances to work, there also had to be voting checks and balances in place. Hence, the electoral college.

The electoral college was expressly created to make sure that the city folk couldn’t elect a president that didn’t meet the needs of the rural folk.

And really, that’s the only purpose of the electoral college.

In this case, as much as I fear for the fate of our country (and the world) with the results of the recent presidential election, the electoral college worked as it was supposed to.

Other Branches

Unfortunately, because of some political fancy footwork (which I believe was unethical and against the intention of the founding fathers), the president was able to name two Supreme Court justices (that’s the Judicial branch).

Where the population density-rich cities and states can create an impact is in the House of Representatives (Congress and Senate). I believe (and internet, correct me if I’m wrong… I’m writing this on an airplane without wifi), that every state has a set number of Senators (2?), and a variable number of Congresspeople, depending on their population.

The checks and balances only work if there’s a diversity of beliefs represented across all three branches. Right now, all three of the branches are dominated by one party.

In looking at the percentages of people voting, it looks like most people don’t understand how important these other branches are. They’re the only representation that is governed by population size. So if you’re looking at that and asking, “How is that fair?” but you’re not voting for Congresspeople and Senators, you’re missing a critical opportunity to influence the balance of power in the government.

Because of what I believe is a human tendency toward monarchy, many of us only think the Executive branch matters (the president), but really, the electoral college, not individual citizens, elects the Executive branch. It was never intended to be the be-all-end-all “leader of the free world” godhead it is today.

Local Elections

I live in California, which is a holdout in the attack on social values and environmental responsibility. I have been very impressed with Jerry Brown’s ownership of the role as Governor, and am hopeful that Gavin Newsom will win the Governor’s seat in this coming election.

Before the current administration, I took for granted that the local governments would mostly run themselves, but now I feel compelled to participate in local elections. For example, I’ve never been more motivated to vote for my Attorney General. What’s an Attorney General? John Oliver did a nice piece on the office, and even rounded it out with some suggestions on how to get more information.

Vote with your conscience

Recently, Oprah was on stage at a rally, and she said she refuses to align herself with any one party, because she doesn’t want anyone to tell her what to do, because she earned it. Well, I think we’ve all earned it, just by virtue of the fact that we can vote. Lucky us!

I found that in local elections, I’d rather have more hands-off leadership (which tend to be traditionally Libertarian, with a fiscally liberal bend). At the local level, I want people to be the captains of their fate, and the masters of their soul. I’ve earned it.

And so have you. You’ve earned the right to vote, just by being born or naturalized in the US. Please go exercise it.

International Travel While Trump Is In Office

I’m sitting in the basement of our hotel in London a block from Paddington Station, since that’s where we leave from tomorrow. Teresa had scheduled us to arrive back here and have a full day between adventures before we had to get back on the airplane for the long flights home. I appreciate the break, and as much as I’d like to spend all day working, I feel like it’s best if I just do nothing. I might venture out in search of fresh vegetables, since those have been pretty lacking in this trip (mostly because of my own choosing).

One thing I’ve been worried about (not worried enough not to travel, but still…) was how people will react to us as Americans now that we have a hateful jerk as the most prominent political figure in our country.

Our encounter with an angry British man

We haven’t had much interaction with people on a social level, but as I purchased Noam Chomsky’s Optimism Over Despair from a lovely little bookstore on a canal here in London, a very drunk man wearing ski goggles and braids came over and started excitedly talking with us about how he doesn’t understand the political system of the United States, but our president is truly awful.

Except he didn’t say it in an angry way. He said it in an outstandingly British, angular way about how we might not like him, but after all, we did elect him, and [here’s where I tried to interject and explain our electoral system and that he didn’t win the popular vote, just the blah blah blah, but the guy wasn’t listening at all]. He also said he was sure that our system had “checks and balances and all that,” and when I started trying to explain the Supreme Court and Congress also being Republicans, he went back to talking about how he wasn’t quite sure how we could have elected Trump after our previous president was so great (that’d be Obama [chorus of angels]). So then I got onto yet a third tangent about how Obama didn’t really represent a lot of the rural Southern voters, and that Trump promised to represent them better, so they rallied and now…

But I could tell he wasn’t listening.

He just wanted to poke at us about our elected official.

And also, he was very, very drunk.

We eventually extricated ourselves from that conversation (with some effort)

“I think most people around the world are familiar with the feeling of not being represented by their government,” my mom said when I asked her if she was worried about traveling to Kenya last year.

And yes, that’s probably true in developing countries, but in democratic countries like the UK and France, I wonder if maybe people assume we support our democratically elected president, without understanding the nuances of the electoral college and how a president has won the popular vote but lost the election not once, but twice, and how this didn’t immediately spark a revolution.

I wonder, too.

But revolutions are complicated things, and most of us still have faith – however misplaced – in our democratic processes.

As we discussed the drunk man and his ideas about Trump, Teresa and I came to the conclusion that the best we could do is keep traveling and keep talking to people, and let our friendliness and personalities open the door for a better international understanding of what’s happening in the US.

NaBloWriMo? Anyways, the first of a month of posts

I saw a talk by Ana at View Source Conference last week that reminded me how important blogging is / could be to me, and I decided that instead of NaNoWriMo, I’d see if I could write one blog post every day for a month. I have tried (and both succeeded, and failed, at different times) this challenge before, but if you know my writing, you know that I think failure is nothing unless we assign meaning to it. Without meaning, the failure is just a thing that didn’t happen the way I hoped it would.

So here we are again, working on the blog (or my other blog, which I may update also).

I had intended to write a long piece about my weird trip to the Louvre (where you can eventually see such sure-fire hits as my “LOUVRE feet,” at right), but instead decided to open with the reason I’m going to be writing more now (hopefully).

I enjoy writing, mostly (unless I’m writing a book, which is actual torture designed to ruin lives), so the idea of blogging regularly is not just familiar, it’s downright friendly!

But also, life happens.

And in this month, life is going to happen a lot. I’m currently in Paris (you know, where The Louvre is), and we’re about to hop on a train back to London, and then Saturday, I’m flying back to Sacramento, then Monday, I’m leaving for San Mateo for the Quickbooks Connect Conference (because small business conferences!!!! wooo!), then, the following week, my friend from Australia (the legendary Belinda Hellyeah!) and I are driving to Joshua Tree for a few days (I’m exhausted just writing that all out).

And then I’m back home from the 18th of November through the 8th of December, and then I’m gone for another week – this time, to Orlando for the Mozilla All Hands.

I want and enjoy a life of travel and adventure, so this is all by design, but I guess I’m just disclaiming to say that probably most of everything I write will be written in transit or under duress.

But it’s best left said, rather than unsaid, however imperfectly. Here we go.

Why I’m excited to talk at the Altitude Oasis in March 2019 (and how you can get a discount)

Last week, I got the above email, which prompted about an hour of shrill “OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG” from me, both typed and shrieked. See, for the past three years, I have wanted to go to the Altitude Summit, but tickets have sold out almost immediately after launch. Plus, it has always seemed really expensive (which is why I set an education budget for myself this year!).

This year, when I got the call for proposals, I knew what I wanted to talk about: Why goals work for some people and not for others, and how to set goals in accordance with your own goal-setting style so you can actually benefit from goals, rather than just being burdened with the guilt of not achieving what you hoped. (that title was too long, though, so I cut it down)

What is the Altitude Oasis?

It’s a 5-day conference for creative entrepreneurs and marketers who want to understand how to use modern technology and skills to create empowering impact, while following ethical practices.

(my words, not theirs)

Here’s a sample of topics from their blog:

Newsletters Intensive Workshop For Beginners
Advanced Newsletters Workshop
Instagram Growth
Instagram Stories & Live — Trends & Tips
Using Facebook Pages
Strategies for Facebook Groups
Using Facebook Ads
Driving Traffic with Pinterest
Pinterest Promoted Pins
Preparing Photos for Pinterest
Collaborations With Complementary Brands
Marketing through Influencers & Bloggers
Traditional Media Coverage
Trade Media Coverage
Marketing on Local TV
Logo & Web Design
Developing Your Brand Voice
Creating a Brand Style Sheet
How To Be A Good Community Member

Podcasting 101
Podcasting Equipment & Setup
Podcasting Growth Strategies
Developing As An Online Writer
Writing For Other Sites
Coming Up With Authentic Sponsored Content
Creating Positive Communities Online
Using Your Platform For A Good Cause
Writing about Current Events on a Non-Political Site
Writing About Pages
Moderating Conversations on Social Media and Blogs

Shooting Flat Lays
Editing Process — From Capture Through Publishing
iPhone Skills Photo Class
Shooting Interiors
Shooting Kids & Portraits
Shooting Food
Shooting Yourself — Self Timers and Other Tricks
Top Photo Editing Apps
Facebook Live
Instagram Stories & Live — How to Create
On Camera Skills
Capturing Great Video
Video Editing
Building a YouTube Audience
Finding Your Youtube Niche
Video Lighting

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners
Advanced Affiliate Marketing
Finding Your Affiliate Niche
How to Pitch Sponsors
Working With An Ad Network
All About CPMs and Other Display Ad Terms
Book Projects
Launching or Running a Small Online Shop (like Etsy)
Launching or Running a Big Online Shop
Opening or Running a Brick & Mortar Shop
Creating and Selling Email Courses & Video Courses
Creating and Selling Hosted Online Classes (like Skillshare)
Collaborations With Existing Brands (creating a line or a product for someone else)
Consulting or Joining a Board of Directors
Writing/Creating for Other Sites or Brands
Selling Skills You Didn’t Know Your Had
Creating a Media Kit

Accounting Tools & Skills
Payroll Tools
Managing Company Email Addresses
How to Hire or Build a Team
Negotiating Contracts
Getting & Keeping Business Paperwork in Order
Strategies for Managing Your Inbox
How To Pivot
Working Full-Time and Managing a Side-Gig
Leveling Up – How to get the skills to go to the next level
Finding Your Tribe
Starting a Mastermind Group
Getting Investment as a Woman Entrepreneur
Getting Grants as a Woman in Business
Developing Residual Income or Putting Your Business on Autopilot
Selling Your Business and Other Exit Strategies
Career Paths in Social Media

Work Life Balance
When To Quit Your Day Job
Realizing Your Potential
How To Find Your Creative Passion
Overcoming Creative Blocks
Dealing with Negativity Online
Managing Stress
Top Wellness Practices/Trends
Toxin-free Living
Trash-free Living
The Art of Organization/De-cluttering
Tiny Houses

Artist Installations
Movie Screenings + Panels, featuring woman-led projects
Concerts and Performances
Runway Shows

Why You Need to Know About Blockchain
Telegram -The Important Social Media Platform You Haven’t Heard Of
Cryptocurrency Overview
Voter Registry
How Bloggers and Influencers Can Wield More Political Power

It was the above list that made me realize I absolutely must go this year, whether or not I was accepted to talk at the event. And yes, there are practical courses that help with almost every aspect of creative business, but there are also more than 2000 attendees who are creative, empowered, incredible, awesome, driven individuals (mostly women), and the idea of connecting with an army of brilliant people like that was just too much to resist.

Plus, in Palm Springs at a fancy hotel? (I’m staying at The Riviera) Hell to the yeah!

I bought the $850 ticket just a couple days before I found out I was accepted (they gave me a refund on my ticket, bless them).

Why I think this conference is worth it

Right. So, I paid $850 for my ticket (before they refunded it) because I knew it was going to be worth it, no matter what. I knew that with the hotel and travel and everything, the cost of the conference was going to be about $2200 (if I include the reduction of my billable hours for Mozilla, the cost of the conference is more like $3500).

If I wanted to go (and make a successful pitch to Russ for me to go), I had to be sure I’d make at least $3500 from the lessons I learned from the conference, just to break even. Which sounds like a lot.

But look at those above topics.

  • If I get a $10k grant because I took that workshop on “Getting Grants as a Woman in Business,” it has already doubled my investment.
  • If I can create more free time and make more money because I took the workshop on “Developing Residual Income or Putting Your Business on Autopilot,” then I get more time, and what’s more valuable than time? (nothing!)
  • If I can learn to be better organized and be satisfied with less stuff because I took the wellness courses on “The Art of Organization/De-cluttering” and “Minimalism,” then I will have significantly simplified my life and built systems for saving money.
  • If we launch an affiliate marketing program and get Outlaw Soaps into the hands of thousands of new customers because I attended the “Affiliate Marketing” workshop, then we have fundamentally shifted the direction of our business!

Any of these workshops could boost our business and more than make up the investment of time and money, not even considering the incredible relationships I’ll make while I’m there.

We support you!I always try to surround myself with interesting, creative, driven people, and this is the conference for people like that. It’s like professional-oriented Burning Man, but with indoor plumbing and office supplies (both major selling points for me)!

Should you go?

If you’re reading this, I really do hope you decide to come!

Do a cost evaluation for yourself like I did. Is it worth it? What are you giving up by deciding to go? What do you stand to gain from attending? What would you learn? Are there other places to learn these things? What style is best for you?

If you decide to go, I’d love to hang out while you’re there!

They gave me an affiliate code so you can save $50 on a ticket (and I get a kickback, 100% of which is being funneled into books to bring to the event and give out for free).

Here’s the registration link to the Alt Oasis, and if you use the code YOU-NICORN when you check out, you’ll get the $50 discount.

Hope to see you there!

Inspiring quotes from brilliant and wise people

Worm's personal purpose“This is bravery: using the challenge of daily life to sharpen our mind and open our heart.” – Sakyong Mipham

“Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings — always darker, emptier, and simpler.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Everyone should have themselves regularly overwhelmed by Nature.” – George Harrison

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

“Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.” – A fortune cookie

“Sometimes the mountain
is hidden from me in veils
of cloud, sometimes
I am hidden from the mountain
in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue…”
– Denise Levertov

“Mindfulness of the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” – Sylvia Boorstein

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” – Zen saying

“To stand on your feet is the most important thing. To sacrifice this moment for your future, for your ideal even, means that you are not standing on your feet… Don’t complain; accept things as they are and satisfy yourself with what you have, right now.” – Shunryu Suzuki