The Lawn as a Symbol of Wealth

louvre-palace-1090031_640(Not my lawn.)

Mowing the lawn is something of a meditative activity for me. Transforming a rough, ragged area into something neat and tidy is quite satisfying. Like folding laundry. It’s also a solid workout and allows me to work on my tan, so really it’s a win all around.

Today while pushing the trusty John Deere through the grass, I started thinking about lawns as a symbol of wealth and privilege. Consider the grand estates and plantations of yore – enormous houses surrounded by grand lawns and carefully cultivated ornamental gardens signified the family’s status. Think about the neighborhoods in your city with the grandest lawns. I’ll bet they are solidly middle- and upper-class.

Lawn care in the United States is a multi-billion dollar industry. According to the July 2015 IBIS world market report, the landscaping service industry alone generates $76 billion in annual revenue. Sales of lawn mowers and other equipment generate about $7 billion annually. That doesn’t include the cost of items such as grass seed, fertilizer, weed killer, etc., let alone the man hours needed to keep our yards in order.

Having a lawn requires property, usually the ownership of but sometimes renting. It requires that you have the means to care for the lawn, whether through possessing the time and tools needed to do it yourself or hiring a third party to do so. A grass lawn also requires enormous amounts of water to maintain all that lush greenness. Did you know that approximately one third of all public water in the United States is used to water grass? True story.

That stretch of green grass is also a symbol of what many of us don’t have – the necessity of raising our own food. In the past – and still in many parts of the world – land was needed to raise crops and/or cattle. Now we can dedicate land solely to growing grass to look pretty. We don’t harvest it for any purpose, simply trim it to meet an aesthetic ideal. We fertilize, aerate, water, and often obsess over it, but in the end, it’s purely decorative.

Decorative isn’t a bad thing. Access to green space is important for our mental and physical well-being. But I wonder how many of us are aware of the privilege we enjoy when mowing our lawns.

Just some musings from behind the mower on a Saturday morning.

P.S. I’m not the first person to have this thought. A quick Google search generated this brief history of lawns and this book about our obsession with lawns.

365 Miracle Mornings

365MiracleMorningsNew Year’s sunrise, 2016

It’s January 4, 2016, and I’ve just completed my 365th Miracle Morning routine. Three hundred and sixty-fifth. 3. 6. 5.

When I started this routine a year ago, it was with the hope that it would become just that – a routine. I say “hope” because the idea that I’d still be practicing these self-improvement skills a year later was so abstract, I really couldn’t see it. But here I am.

(In case you’re just tuning in, 365 days ago I began The Miracle Morning (TMM) routine, based on Hal Elrod’s inspiring book.)


What an amazing year! I feel like it’s been a rebuilding year following a few, well, pretty awful years if I’m honest. Layoffs, traumatic injuries, the loss of a family member, depression, financial struggles – that sums up the previous 3 years. While 2015 wasn’t always an upward trend on the graph, it definitely ended higher than it began, and I know that my TMM was a major factor in that result. Here are just a few examples of what happened in 2015.


  • I haven’t finished my 2015 bookkeeping yet, but even without the numerical confirmation I can say that this has been my best year as a freelancer so far! Granted, it’s only my second full year, but I’ve already either met or surpassed my last 9-to-5 job income (again, need to finish bookkeeping chores).
  • I added two new clients in 2015, both of which I successfully negotiated up to higher rates than initially proposed thanks to techniques and encouragement from some of the freelancing resources I read during my TMM.
  • I’m also now the editor of a digital magazine (3 issues and counting) and have accepted a trial editorship of another magazine within the same family to see how the workload fits into the rest of my assignments.
  • Just as important as adding new, decent-paying clients is letting go of clients that aren’t a match. A few months ago I faced facts and acknowledged that a particular project I’d been working with for nearly a year was not a good fit for my skillset. The client wasn’t the problem; I simply had no business taking on the project. Severing that relationship was tough, but necessary.


  • Calm, focus, purpose – these were watchwords for me in 2015, skills and traits I wanted to learn and practice through my TMM. Mediation helped tremendously, which came as a surprise to someone who had never put much stock (or, let’s be honest, commitment) into meditation. I feel like I still have a long way to go in all of these areas, but am very happy with current progress.
  • I’ve almost filled 4 journals with visualizations and gratitude journaling. This year I plan to do more long-form journaling and have already started mind mapping as part of my visualization process.
  • Several relationships/types of relationships are undergoing changes as a result of what I’ve learned about myself as well as how healthy relationships work. This is ongoing, and generally private since it involves other people, so I won’t go into detail.
  • This year was my best experience at Comic Con in years. Maybe ever. Much of that can be attributed to practicing mindfulness and living in the now rather than thinking ahead to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing…
  • I traveled to two new places – Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks and Las Vegas. These trips came about as part of my commitment to saying “yes” more and following through on opportunities.
  • I would also like to mention that I’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens four times so far and listened to the soundtrack while writing this post because Jedi! And I re-read the Harry Potter series which meant a resurfacing of that obsession. Not necessarily TMM-related accomplishments, but I feel like all of this nerdiness should be recorded for posterity because it makes me happy and isn’t that what this is all about?


  • I had two bouts with depression this year; a minor one in January and a major one over the summer. The latter threw me off track in many areas, as depression is wont to do, and I’ve not yet regained all of that lost momentum. My TMM was my lifeline, particularly over the summer, giving me some structure and purpose, keeping me from spiraling as far down as I have in the past. Currently life is good, my brain is my own, and I’m excited about getting back to work on my health in particular.
  • I haven’t done yoga every single day as part of my TMM, but it’s been part of at least 75% of my mornings over the past year, and boy, can I tell a difference! My joints, my neck, my shoulders, my back – everything has improved. My posture is better, I’m more flexible and less prone to injury, and it’s easier for me to calm down when I start getting anxious or angry or flustered (yoga breaths). Adriene has been adding some interesting new practices to YouTube recently, and I’m looking forward to challenging my body.

What I’ve Read

365booksAn important part of TMM is reading books that help you learn and grow in a variety of areas. I focused on relationships, health, and business growth this year. Here’s an almost complete list of what I read (I know I’m missing a couple of titles):

What’s Next

I plan to continue my TMM because it gives me needed stability and measurable results. My next goal is 500 days in a row on my way to a full two years. I’m deeply encouraged that I’ve stuck with a routine – any routine, let alone one that pushed me so often – for this long, so I’m working on using this as motivation to establish other healthy/productive routines. As tempting as it is to go full steam ahead with checklists and charts and plans for routines in all areas of my life, I’m being mindful of my resources and considering my options. My physical health is a top priority, and this is a good month to embark on a routine with discounted gym memberships, healthy food, etc., so that’s probably my next area of focus. Look for that decision and progress made in my next TMM update.

Books to read: I have quite a pile of books waiting for me already this year, including: On Writing Well by William Zinsser; Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; Rebuilt by Michael White and Tom Corcoran; Life is Hard, Food is Easy by Linda Spangle; and The Mindful Brain by Daniel J. Siegel. I’d also like to find a well-researched and documented “rebuttal” to Zealot; hit me up with suggestions!

300 Miracle Mornings


You know that old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Well, I decided that didn’t apply to me and tried to get all fancy and change up my Miracle Morning routine. It was a miserable failure.

As a reminder, on January 5, I began The Miracle Morning routine, based on Hal Elrod’s inspiring book. Today marks 300 days in a row of following that routine. Sort of.


A couple of months ago, I decided that I needed to customize my routine, to mix it up, to try something new! and fresh! and other buzzwords! Instead of doing yoga daily, I would do yoga 4 mornings/week and go for a walk or do other cardio the other 3! Instead of writing out my visualizations, I would make a cool vision board! Instead of using someone else’s affirmations, I would write my own!

Guess how much of that happened? Exactly none. I averaged 1 yoga practice and 2 walks – in the afternoon – per week, resulting in near constant pain in my joints and muscles from the lack of stretching. My vision board is half-finished. I never got the hang of writing my own affirmations, instead turning out insipid drivel that wouldn’t inspire anyone.

Clearly daily yoga is a necessity for my poor muscles (I suffered two major muscle traumas in the past 8 years). While the idea of a pretty vision board is appealing, writing has always been the best medium for me. And the affirmations I compiled from other sources provide enough inspiration for now, until I can really dig into writing my own.

So, as of today, I’m back to the old routine: meditation, affirmations, visualization, exercise (yoga), reading, scribing (journaling).

It wasn’t all negative, though. Despite my failure at reinventing the Miracle Morning wheel, I did see success in other areas of my life.


  • August and September were so busy, I came within $50 of meeting my monthly revenue goals! Those goals are low by most people’s standards, but enough to live on, and I did it all with my brain. Shades of River Tam!
  • By mid-October, I’d caught up on most of my paying work, which was unfortunate because, riding the wave of success from the previous two months, I’d set my revenue goal higher. However, I reached out to a couple of clients and let them know I was available, and assignments started rolling in. In the end, I missed my October goal by about 30%, but still invoiced enough to pay the bills. With my brain.
  • My first issue as editor of the digital magazine I mentioned last time was published in mid-August and the second issue is due out this week. This last issue has been a challenge for a variety of reasons, all of which I hope are one-time lessons that upon learning, can be avoided in the future. Still, I’m enjoying the work and am already elbow deep in the next issue.
  • I landed a new client! During my mid-October downtime, I started working on my writer’s site so I could begin marketing and prospecting. Before I could get it finished, however, a company contacted me based on my work for one of the trade magazines. Honestly, I wanted to find something in a different niche, to avoid burnout, but they were willing to negotiate a rate I’m happy with, the work is steady, and they need a lot of content over the next couple of months when I’m generally low on assignments anyway. So, I’ll continue writing about supplier diversity.


  • On Labor Day I posted about my summer-long battle with depression, along with the hope that it was ending. I’m happy to report that the gray has lifted and life is generally sunny again. The holidays/winter generally brings another round coupled with S.A.D., but thanks to various tools and techniques and working with my therapist, last year I sailed through the season. I’m already taking steps to waylay it again this year, and I know that my Miracle Morning routine will be a valuable tool.
  • I made a couple of tough decisions about letting go of some situations that were causing undue stress and contributing to the cycle of depression. One is over and done, with just some lingering feelings of regret that it didn’t work out. The other is in the beginning stages with some difficult times ahead before it’s all over, but I already feel relief just from making the decision. I’ve been journaling about both, extracting lessons and wisdom so I don’t end up in either situation again.
  • The Royals won the World Series!!! I know that had nothing to do with me, but I sure did have fun watching the games and cheering for the home team.


  • Nothing major to report here. I haven’t been physically ill, although I am battling fatigue. Getting back on track with my meds, including Vitamin D, should help with that.

Books I read: I re-read The Miracle Morning as a refresher; started reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown; read a lot of articles about freelancing, time management, and entrepreneurship.

The Next 65 Days

With the holidays upon us and the Family Birthday Marathon (8 birthdays in November/December) underway, I’ll be using my planning, organizing, and time management skills to get everything done. I’ve been doing some introspection about my progress this year as well, jotting down notes for a blog post to come in the new year. Despite some setbacks, 2015 has been a definite improvement over previous years.

Books I’ll be reading: I need to stock up on new books; still want to read Listful Thinking by Paula Rizzo.

See you on Day 365!

The Long, Gray Summer


WARNING: Possible triggers.

Today is Labor Day in the United States, the unofficial end of summer. I’ve been waiting for today, hoping this will also be the symbolic end of a summer-long bout of depression.

It wasn’t all darkness. I traveled quite a bit, with friends and family, and enjoyed those trips tremendously. There were times with friends that made me happy. Being around my nieces and nephews always, always helps.

It wasn’t enough to break the cycle, though.

Historically summer is likely to contain a depressive cycle for me. My birthday is in the beginning of June, and it’s a trigger. I’m prone to heat stroke, and Kansas regularly hits the triple digits in summer, so I end up staying inside a lot, which is another trigger. This year I had a couple other factors – both rational and irrational – that I think prolonged the cycle.

It’s hard to explain what depression is like to someone who hasn’t experienced it long-term. I think it’s slightly different for everyone, but the feeling that your brain is being held hostage – I think that’s universal. It traps you with feelings that aren’t based on reality and sucks away your energy. You know you have things to do. You make the lists. You create the schedule. You put things on the calendar. You give yourself the pep talks. You have the best of intentions.

Then…your brain simply refuses to function properly. I cannot tell you how many times I sat down to work on a writing assignment, only to realize an hour later that I’d only written a few words. It’s weird; my clients can’t really tell the difference between what I write when I’m well vs. when I’m sick (I can – there’s a certain stiffness to my words when I’m sick vs. the more fluid style of when I’m well), but the effort it takes to write is five-fold. Seriously. An article I can research, draft, edit, and file in an hour when I’m well takes at least five hours when I’m sick.

Self-doubt and procrastination are often cited as issues for writers, and I absolutely struggle with both when I’m sick, but my biggest challenge is not being able to absorb information. I can read through my notes or a transcript from an interview or research materials I’ve gathered, and it just doesn’t make sense. I can’t “see” the article. Normally I look at those pieces and they fall into place, like pieces of a puzzle, the words flowing and the article coming together with ease and a bit of whimsy or a clever turn of phrase. It’s exhilarating. When I’m sick, it’s like trying to put together a puzzle in the dark, forcing pieces together until they fit, and feeling so frustrated when they don’t.

So you put it off. You put off working. You put off cleaning the house. You put off making food (that’s a whole other post…). You know you should be doing all of these things, but you cannot summon the energy to overcome the force that’s holding your brain hostage.

Some days my sole accomplishment was finishing my Miracle Morning routine, even if it took hours.

You tell yourself that tomorrow will be better. And maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. But you keep trying because you know that eventually the lethargy will lift and your brain will begin to work again. Eventually the sadness and despair will dissipate and you’ll feel lighter. Eventually you’ll remember to take your pills regularly and go to the gym and eat something green every day. Eventually you will get your life back and you’ll catch up on what you let slide while you were focused on just making it from one day to the next and you’ll tweak your routines and you’ll promise yourself that you’ll be consistent and you’ll try to work ahead so that next time maybe it won’t be so bad or last so long.

One of my friends, who’s had her own struggles, texted me over the weekend to check in and ask if I was feeling better. I could truthfully tell her that, yes, I am. I’m still working on focus and follow-through, but I’m not so sad. My energy levels are increasing and I’m beginning to take better care of myself. The last couple of therapy sessions have been very emotional, and I know this week’s will be as well, which is a good sign that I’m coming back to myself. The words are starting to flow again.

Half the battle is in the knowing, and I know that I’ve been through worse and learned a little more about how to fight this battle every time. I’m going to be OK. I’m going to be better than OK. I’m a fighter.

Happy Birthday, Elizamouse!


This beauty is 14 today.

I still remember that sunny summer Sunday when she was born. Who could have predicted that she would turn out to be such a smart, witty, opinionated, creative, silly soul? (Well…silly was inevitable given the family she chose.)

Happy birthday, my Elizamouse!

Geek Summer Camp 2015


The most common question I’m asked when I mention attending San Diego Comic Con is, “Do you dress up?” The answer is “no.” I am not a cosplayer – unless “writer wearing a geeky shirt” counts – but the elaborate costumes are certainly one of the most recognizable and entertaining elements of Comic Con.

So, what is Comic Con?


Tiny Stormtrooper

San Diego Comic Con is the world’s largest comic book and popular arts convention. Held every July, it boasts hundreds of events covering everything from comic books to movies to television to video games to books to music to science. With attendance topping 130,000 people, many of whom do indeed dress up as their favorite fictional characters, downtown San Diego is overrun with geeks and nerds of all ages, shapes, sizes and colors for one week every summer. I call it Geek Summer Camp, and it’s one of my favorite weeks of the year.

Why I go

This was my eighth year at Geek Summer Camp, hanging out with my fellow Potterheads, Sherlockians, Trekkers and Tolkeinites. While I am there to enjoy being with my tribe of nerds, the trip is also about work. I co-own a few websites that cover television shows, including, which focuses on shows with strong female characters and/or women behind the scenes, and, covering all things fairy tale in pop culture.

Attending as members of the press, my team of reporters and I have the opportunity to preview new shows; interview the casts and creative teams behind shows we already love and those we think we’re going to love; and connect with people at the networks and studios who bring us those shows. We return, exhausted, to our respective homes with hours of video footage from panels and press rooms and pages of notes and ideas for stories. Then it’s my job to coordinate all of that content into articles and posts.

But what about the famous people?!? (aka some highlights)

In addition to the hours of watching and editing video footage and editing articles and following up with publicists that comes from attending Comic Con (I know, you’re pulling out the tiny violins for me right now), I always come home with some amazing experiences and stories to share.


Not an engagement photo.

One of this year’s highlights was meeting Richard Armitage, one of my favorite actors (you’ll know him from the British miniseries North & South or the BBC’s Robin Hood or The Hobbit trilogy or all of the above), at the annual NBC press party on Saturday night. He was there along with Bryan Fuller, creator of NBC’s Hannibal and one of my favorite people, promoting his guest-starring role on Hannibal for the remaining episodes of the series. I think my photo with Richard generated more excitement than anything else I posted on Facebook that entire week. And by “excitement,” I mean garbled comments and swooning. Completely understandable.

Perhaps less universally thrilling but one of my most anticipated experiences was attending a Quidditch match in a bayside park. Quidditch, of course, is the fictional sport from the Harry Potter universe. In 2010, an amazing group of people converted it into a real life, non-magical (aka Muggle) sport. With nearly 200 teams and 4,000 players in the United States, the U.S. Quidditch League plays matches all over the country and participates in the Quidditch World Cup which is an actual thing.



This was my first chance to attend a live match, and I loved every minute of it. Well, except for when my friends over at the hotel where all the press rooms were set up began texting me that Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter himself, was there to promote his new movie. No matter how many times I texted back in ALL CAPS to SEND HIM TO THE QUIDDITCH MATCH, he never showed.

The hotel I stayed in was right next to the San Diego Convention Center, which meant several studios and networks were housing their talent in the same building. On our first morning there, while I sat in the lobby using the free wi-fi, Steven Moffat (executive producer of the BBC’s Sherlock and Doctor Who) wandered by, clearly in need of coffee. I opted for a nod and a smile because I’m sure he’s already quite aware of impatient we are for the next season of Sherlock.

We caught up with Stan Lee at one point, waving hello and getting a wave back as he hustled to his next event. In fact, the entire cast of MARVEL’S Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. plus Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) were staying on our side of the hotel, so we ran into them frequently, playing it cool as much as possible.

I was less cool when I rode the elevator up from the fitness center with Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager, and a million other things), but he took my little bit of fangirling in stride. Bless.

You really never know who you’re going to see at Comic Con. One year I remember coming around a corner in the exhibitors hall and literally bumping into someone dressed up as a squirrel. I bounced off the large, stuffed stomach, apologized, and went on my way. (Pro tip: there is no such thing as personal space at Comic Con, but it is still polite to apologize when bumping into someone.) Later I found out that I’d bumped into Johnny Depp dressed as a squirrel; he wanted to experience the hall without being recognized.



And then there was the time, this year, when we were over by the Warner Bros. booth on the convention hall floor and Hugh Jackman walked by after signing autographs to promote his new movie, Pan. I swear we made eye contact for, like, 3 seconds before he turned his head just as I was snapping a photo of our time together (see above).

A couple of friends and I unexpectedly scored passes for the Game of Thrones autograph session, which turned out to be rather delightful as the cast were clearly having as much fun as we were. Alfie Allen (aka Theon/Reek) and I had a nice chat while waiting for the line to move, and Maisie Williams (aka Arya) agreed that her name tag should read No One, and promptly changed it. #winning

On Sunday, I sat down with the cast of the upcoming Heroes Reborn, the 13-episode series that picks up five years after the original series ended. Although they were necessarily full of secrets, the cast got me even more excited about this continuation of the show. Plus while I waited to go into that press room, the entire cast of Grimm assembled in front of me while waiting for their rides to the airport. (No, I didn’t creep any photos.)

Three years and counting!

Three years and counting!

Another highlight was chatting with Stephen Amell (the CW’s Arrow) and continuing our tradition of taking a photo together at the Friday night Warner Bros. party. If you’ve ever wondered if celebrities care about their fans, I can confirm that, for Stephen, it’s no act. He’s sincerely grateful for his fans and one of the nicest guys I’ve met in the Industry.

Speaking of traditions, my Geek Summer Camp friends and I have established several over the years, from our Nice Girls meet’n’greet on Wednesday to open the convention to our blogger dinner on Sunday to wrap it up to hitting every photo booth we can find in between.



This year seemed to be the year of the hashtag – #teamkitkat #teampenguin #fakehusband #luckycardigan – any of which are guaranteed to leave a smile on my face. Meeting and talking with celebrities is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s these memories with friends that keep me coming back.

Until next year, campers!

No Fish Allowed


I hate fish.

And squid and octopi and pretty much anything you’ll find in either saltwater or fresh water.

I don’t know when this happened. I had a goldfish as a child (Noah). I recall eating fish sticks. I even ate tuna salad into my 30s, although at that point it was the only fish-related food I could stand and I had to make it myself.

At some point, however, I became fully anti-fish. I do not want to see, taste, touch, smell, or even talk about fish or sea creatures. If  my dining companion orders seafood, they will find themselves behind some sort of barricade made out of napkin holders, condiment bottles, and whatever else I can call into service. If you want to see my face turn a delicate shade of green before I either change the subject or walk away, bring up fish in conversation.

I nearly canceled my trip to Japan. Twice. Because I knew I’d be surrounded by fish. As it was, I made it through a visit to the aquarium, but skipped the sushi restaurant and hurried past the “let tiny fish clean the dead skin off your feet” booth. (Seriously?)

Some possible catalysts for Mel Hates Fish:

  • The seafood department at the grocery store. *gag*
  • Gollum. No joke.
  • The smell of stagnant areas of lakes/ponds.

Just thought you all should know.

200 Miracle Mornings!


(Photo from my hotel room in San Diego on July 13, 2015)

Sooo…it’s been a while since I posted a TMM update. Eighty days, to be exact. I fully intended to post on Day 150, but a) it was my birthday and 2) it was the last day of our family vacation in the Ozarks. By the time I got home, caught up on laundry and emails, and emerged from a backlog of writing for clients, it was almost time for the Day 180 update.

But on Day 180, I was preparing for Comic Con and just didn’t get an update in amid everything else.

But now, it’s Day 200! Not a 30-day milestone, but a big one nonetheless! And an excuse to update now rather than waiting another 10 days.

As a reminder, on January 5, I began The Miracle Morning routine, based on Hal Elrod’s inspiring book. Today marks 200 days in a row of following that routine.

200 days of starting my day with a period of meditation.

200 days of starting my day with affirmations spoken aloud.

200 days of starting my day of visualizing what I want to happen in my day and my life.

200 days of starting my day with 15-30 minutes of yoga.

200 days of starting my day by reading a few pages of personal development books.

200 days of starting my day by journaling about three things I’m grateful for that day.


The past 80 days have been something of a roller coaster. Most significantly, I hit my first real bout of depression since beginning my Miracle Mornings. It lasted about a month and was on the gray end of the spectrum (I use a gray-to-black scale to non-scientifically measure my depression). Not the worst I’ve suffered by far, but still not fun. Fortunately I have a lot of tools in my toolbox, so once I figured out what was going on, it took about a week to pull out of it. My Miracle Morning routine was integral to not only beating this round of depression, but to keeping it on the milder end of the spectrum. Some days I had to fight to get through the whole routine. Some days it took hours. But I did it and felt better for having done so.

This summer suddenly exploded into Summer of the Traveling Mel with two trips down and another in a couple of weeks (see below). Through planning, adaptation, and determination, I managed to stick with my Miracle Morning routine even while I was away from home. Bringing the routine, and accompanying mindfulness, with me made both trips even better, IMO.


  • Writing, writing, writing! May and June were particularly hectic as I was writing for 7 different clients with competing deadlines. But you know what? While there were a couple of times when my head was spinning from trying to focus on so many different projects, I never felt anxious or even all that stressed. Writer’s block? Absolutely. Anxiety attacks? Nope. Progress!
  • I accepted the editorship of a new, digital magazine. It’s been quite a learning experience, but quite interesting as well. We’re wrapping up my first issue and anticipating a publication date in the next week or two, at which point I’ll be bragging about it like I just gave birth.
  • I’ve started a bootcamp on writing Case Studies, one of the many helpful bootcamps offered by The Freelance Writers Den. Case Studies are very similar to what I write for various trade magazines, and they pay really well, so I’m looking to branch out into that market.
  • I negotiated my way from a possible 1 or 2 article, not-so-well-paying magazine gig to a guaranteed 3-article gig at double the rate originally offered. On top of that, the assignments were super fun!
  • A success story about the above negotiations that I posted in The Freelance Writers Den forum lead to an invitation for a paid guest blog post. Win!


  • At the end of May/beginning of June, almost the entire family loaded up and drove over to Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks. It ended up being 5 adults and 12 children, and we had a blast! We’re already planning our next trip and hoping to make this a twice-annual family vacation.
  • In July, I went to Comic Con in San Diego for the eighth time. It’s turned into Geek Summer Camp for me at this point. Sure, I still “work” by interviewing TV talent and attending panels, but it’s become more about hanging out with my friends who I pretty much only see once a year. I think this was my best trip ever, thanks in large part to my mental state. Being present and open and mindful made such a difference in how I experienced everything. I don’t think I quit smiling the whole week!
  • I’ve been working on some deeper, tougher issues with my therapist and with what I read/speak/meditate on during my TMM. Specifically, conflict and relationships (sometimes conflict in relationships, but not always). I’ve been surprised by some of what has been accomplished already.
  • I’ve actually set up a budget and am actively striving to improve my financial health.


  • Nothing major to report here. I haven’t been physically ill. I started going back to the gym and incorporating more physical activity into my days (even though exercise is hugely helpful during depression, it’s one of the first things I let slide).

Books I read: A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson; a book about forgiveness that my priest loaned me, and whose title I cannot remember; The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey; Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves (currently reading; very helpful)

The Next 50 Days

I’ll be traveling again in a couple of weeks, finding a quiet corner in the hotel fitness room to practice yoga and go through my whole routine. Having a portable, adaptable routine is such a blessing for someone who thrives on structure even as they thirst for new experiences. I’ll also be continuing to work on the aforementioned conflict and relationship areas of my life, and growing my writing clientele. Onward!

Books I’ll be reading: I feel like I need a refresher, so I plan to read The Miracle Morning again. After that, probably Listful Thinking by Paula Rizzo.

See you on Day 250!

How Lucky Am I?!?


Being an aunt is pretty much my favorite thing ever. Look at these 12 silly faces (well, 13 if you count mine). How lucky am I?!?

Photo by Katelyn VonFeldt Photography

My Miracle Morning Tools: Yoga with Adriene


One of the best parts of the Miracle Morning routine is that as you get going, you fill your toolbox with the tools that will help you build the life you want. As part of chronicling my Miracle Mornings, I thought I’d start sharing some of the tools I use daily.

From the start I knew that I wanted the Exercise segment of my routine to be yoga. After a traumatic neck/shoulder injury in 2007, it was yoga and my chiropractor who helped me recover. I practiced yoga at least once week for a few years before falling out of the habit, primarily because the classes were offered at awkward times for my schedule. After another traumatic injury in 2012, affecting the entire right side of my body, I knew I needed to get back to regular yoga practice. But how? The classes I’d attended previously were still awkwardly scheduled, and just the effort of getting started was daunting.

When I decided to begin The Miracle Morning, I started looking for online yoga classes. They needed to be of the “yoga flow” variety, focusing more on gentle stretching than intense muscle-building. I also wanted a yogi who was, how do I say this…grounded. Connecting with the breath and calming the mind is integral to my yoga practice, but crystals and messages from guardian angels, not so much.

Enter Adriene Mishler and her You Tube channel, Yoga with Adriene!

Adriene is a young Austinite with a gentle teaching style and a silly sense of humor. She strikes the right balance of nurturing, teaching, and being excited about doing something she loves. Her videos are free, and there are dozens! Here are my favorites:


Yoga for Beginners

This 20-minute sequence is a great introduction (or reintroduction) to yoga. I followed this routine for the first couple of weeks to get a feel for Adriene’s teaching style.


Gentle Morning Yoga

Another 20-minute sequence, I now practice this 4 or 5 mornings out of the week. It’s a full-body routine with an amazing variation on Cat/Cow that is soooo nice for the hips/lower back.


Yoga for Digestion

Digestive issues have plagued me for most of my life, and this practice gets me back on track. I try to do it at least once per week, twice if needed. Warning: don’t do this one more than two days in a row; it really gets things moving!


Gentle Yummy Yoga (aka Hip Hip Hooray!)

Part of Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga series from January, this practice targets the hips and lower back, two chronic problem areas for me. I like all of the poses, but the Reclining Pigeon is pure gold. This is my go-to practice for days when I’m going to be sitting a lot, like when I’m traveling or on deadline.


Yoga for When You Are Sore

Adriene has several videos for specific issues; this one is primarily for runners, but it has helped me with inner-thigh muscle pain that popped up recently. It’s also one of the few routines I do that includes balancing on one leg. Still working on that!


Yoga for Cramps and PMS

Ladies, trust me on this one.

This is just the tip of the Yoga with Adriene iceberg. If you’re at all interested in limbering up your body, in lubricating your joints, in building muscle, in learning to be present in your own body, then you need this tool in your toolbox!