Recently I put my kids in day camp for a week and it was one of the best things I have ever done for myself (and for them) in my life and I am not even exaggerating.
It is not normal to be with your kids every day, week in and week out, between the same four walls for over a year. It’s not normal to be their teacher when you never really wanted to in the first place but felt like remote learning was going to be a shit show and in-person learning was going to be an on-again-off-again inconsistent, emotionally exhausting nightmare situation not unlike an unhealthy relationship you experienced in your 20’s. And perhaps it is normal to feel guilty about spending about as much money as you earn in a typical week to send your two kids to camp but it’s probably not healthy.
During that blessed week, I wore cute clothes and worked in a coffee shop. I typed and thought and podcasted (is that a verb?) in my office without unexpected and frequent interruptions. I declared that Friday Pam Day, met a friend for lunch, and got my hair cut. It was like a dream come true.
Speaking of dreams, I also joined a women’s cycling team this summer. Two years ago I wanted to join but I felt like my kids were still too little to get out for group rides (the driving to the start, the waiting, the regrouping, all of it). Last year I still wanted to join but I decided not to; I wasn’t in the mood to breathe heavily among strangers in the midst of a raging global pandemic. But this year… the kids are nine and seven, most of Boulder county is fully vaccinated, and I still haven’t heard of the virus being spread among groups of people exercising together outdoors, so I went for it and I am so glad I did.
I would love to go back in time and tap my 33-year-old self on the shoulder and tell her she’d eventually do stuff like this again; that her kids really will be able to wipe their own butts, brush their own hair, and pour their own cereal someday. I’d tell her it will feel like it takes a million years but it also happens in a blink.
The Real Fit Podcast
I launched the podcast I’ve been thinking about for years in May and I only wish I’d done it sooner. I just surpassed 2000 downloads (which I think is good?) and one of my guests told me I was as savvy an interviewer as Dax Shephard. Also, there are people who don’t share my last name or my DNA who have left me nice reviews on Apple podcasts so I think this is off to an auspicious start. In any case, I am loving it. There is no small talk, only meaty questions and conversations about stuff that matters; I want to know how my guests got from point A to point B, including (especially) all the messy parts.
If you haven’t listened yet WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? I am asking bold, creative women athletes all the nosey questions you’re dying to hear the answers to. Meanwhile, I am living out my childhood dream of being a sociologist and a talk show host and I am doing it in my home office with a $79 microphone I got on Amazon and a post-it note on my door that says “Mom is recording a podcast DO NOT ENTER.” Dreams do come true, y’all.
Here’s a recap of what you might have missed:
- A conversation with my sister, Liz Willey about fitness, stupid diets, and how to figure out what lights you up
- An interview with fitness industry leader Shannon Fable including all the toxic things group fitness instructors should never ever say
- An interview with uber endurance athlete Liz McDonough including insights on untangling self-worth from athletic performance, surviving a divorce and thriving as a single mom
- An interview with runner and self-leadership coach Nesha V. Frazier including some amazing nuggets on how to live your best life no matter how busy you are and the body image issues that derailed her promising running career.
- A bonus episode where I get real about mom rage for mature audiences only
- A mini episode where I share one of my favorite tips for dealing with impostor syndrome
- An interview with sex therapist Jenni Skyler on being resilient in the face of childhood trauma (low quality audio-sorry- but high quality content!)
- An interview with Sarah Johnson, fitness professional and bulimia survivor who gets real about showing up to teach group fitness in a body the world sees as plus-sized.
- An interview with the legendary Bobbe Greenberg, the 74-year-old bubby who will be among the first women to compete in the Ironman World Championships’ 75-79 age group. (She has a birthday before the race!) Her zest for life is contagious.
- An interview with the wellness design consultant and author who, at 50, embraced a fit lifestyle. Now at 60, she’s training to summit Mt. Kilamanjaro.
- A mini-episode where I explain how pretending it’s your bat mitzvah (even if you are not a 13 year old Jewish girl) can help you deal with impostor syndrome
- An interview with pelvic floor physical therapist Catherine Apicella on what it took to accept her body, chart her own course professionally, and live a life that’s aligned with her values.
Some of my recent favorites:
The Push by Audrey Audrain
I could not put this one down. It’s a psychological thriller that touches on postpartum mental health, believing women, the complicated bonds between mothers and daughters, and the inevitability of carrying our mothers’ and grandmothers’ trauma. I think fans of Gone Girl will like it.
Blubber by Judy Blume
I read this one the first gazillion times in the late 80’s and re-read it for the first time in decades with my nine-year-old. If homeschooling hadn’t been so unpleasant in so many ways I would swear to you that I was meant to be an English teacher. I had a lot of fun coming up with spontaneous discussion questions for my daughter; How can you tell this book is old-timey? Can you see certain aspects of these characters in the kids at your school? Do you think Jill is a bad person? Are Jill’s mistakes forgivable?
Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume
This book was basically my bible from the time I became aware that I could get my period at any moment (about age 10) to the time it finally made its appearance five years later, which is about 50 million eons when you’ve only lived twice that long. Again, super fun to re-discover with my daughter.
You Should Leave Now: Going on Retreat to Find Your Way Back to Yourself by Brie Doyle
I did get an advanced reader copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. And honestly? This one was a winner. Brie is smart, funny, and, most importantly, real. Her book explains why we need to make space for retreating and how to get the most out of a retreat – whether that’s a solo night or two at an Airbnb or a week in a group retreat setting.
I’m not going to share every single thing I’ve written here because that would be a snooze fest but I will share a few recent-ish bylines with interesting backstories.
A Resistance-Band Workout You Can Do Anywhere (Outside)
Was this ground-breaking journalism? No, it was not. It was, however, a piece that the editor commissioned for the summer print issue. That’s fancy for, she emailed me to offer me the assignment. This is what freelance writers DREAM about. Pitching is time-consuming and it can be demoralizing. (If you’ve ever crafted a well-researched pitch that your husband/writing buddy/friend said was really interesting, and sent it to an editor or ten, only to never hear anything back, you already know this.)
Why, you might ask, did the editor assign this article to me? I’m not a mind-reader and I didn’t ask her so I don’t know for sure but I suspect it was because I kept showing up. I pitched her a few times before she finally accepted one of my pitches. I turned that assignment in on time and I handled her edits quickly and professionally. Then I kept pitching her. And pitching her. And even though, for various reasons, those pitches didn’t turn into assignments, I was in her inbox and on her mind when she needed a writer. Moral of the story: keep showing up. You never know what seeds you might be planting.
Good sleep means more than getting enough hours. A consistent schedule matters, too. (The Washington Post)
This one kind of hurt my brain (in a good way). It wasn’t easy to take the contents of interviews with five experts and explain how and why we sleep and the science behind why we’re better off sleeping at consistent times.
Not only did I pull it off, I discovered something important about myself in the process: I wasn’t depressed, I didn’t have something called morning depression (this is a thing. I googled it), and I wasn’t deficient in any way. I was simply not adhering to a regular sleep schedule and it was making me really cranky in the mornings. Writing this article legit changed my life. I don’t get up at the exact same time every day but I do my best and it is making a huge difference in my mood. I’ll never be the type of person who bounds out of bed to greet the day, but now I know what I need to do to avoid lying in bed when my alarm goes off and feeling crushed by a blanket of dread.
6 Things You Should Know About Exercise and the COVID-19 Vaccines (SELF)
I had been pitching SELF for three years. I’m not going to even tell you how many ideas I sent their way but it was… a lot. The Washington Post passed on this idea but I still thought it had merit so sent it to SELF and bam I got a quick yes. After turning it in on time and handling the edits quickly and professionally, a couple of months later, the editor gave me an assignment. I am not the most talented writer. I don’t come up with the most groundbreaking ideas. But, reader, I keep showing up and that matters.
If you keep showing up but your pitches aren’t landing , A) I feel you, this was me for a looong time and B) I have something for you. Check out my e-book, 7 Pitches that Sold. It’s everything I wish I’d known when I started as a freelance writer in 34 pages.