My Article on Social and Emotional Learning in The Washington Post

Last week I was thrilled to see my article on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) on The Washington Post’s On Parenting Section. I knew I wanted to write about this topic ever since Sweet Pea came home from school practicing (and teaching us) her “soup breathing,” “birthday cake breathing,” and “pretzel breathing.” Her teacher doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to asking the kids to focus on their breathing as a means of mindfulness and stress-reduction throughout the day—she walks the walk.

I have volunteered in the kindergarten classroom and seen the way the teacher takes her own brief pauses to collect herself, to breathe, and to show the kids how you can use the power of your own breath to be a calmer, kinder person. To read the full article (and find out why schools nationwide are increasingly adopting SEL curricula, and how you can incorporate the concept into your own home) click here.

The best thing that ever happened to my writing life

I’m not great with metrics but I think it’s fair to say that I wrote more this year than I’ve ever written in my life put together, except maybe the year I did NaNoWriMo. I wrote at least once a week for Parent Co., which was my main gig, plus I wrote regularly for a couple of other clients, I took a couple of writing classes, and there were, of course, my irregular blog posts here. Writing frequently with deadlines constantly looming was (not surprisingly) the best thing that has ever happened to me as a writer. Here is what I learned this year…

 

the best thing that ever happened to my writing life

1| There will always be something to write about
It’s true. Yes, there were moments I thought I had nothing interesting to say or that everything worth saying had been said before and with more wit, humor, and clarity than I ever could manage. But then the time would invariably come for me to give my editors a slew of pitches from which to choose my next assignments. When the choice was a) mope around feeling bad for myself and my poor little uncreative brain or b) think of some goddamned ideas already, b always won.

2| You have to believe 
I believe in manifesting. In other words when we look for something we’re going to find it. Is this new age bullshit? Maybe yes, maybe no but it works. Do you think all the bad stuff always happens to you? Do you think you will fail in the face of a challenge? You’re probably right. Are you convinced that life is amazing and beautiful? You will find joy in the most unexpected places. (True story: Dan often turns to me in the car and says “Aren’t fossil fuels amazing!? We are so lucky.” with this huge grin on his face.) Even when I wasn’t sure if I believed it, I forced myself to say these words in my mind: There is an abundance of ideas. Is it magic? I don’t know, maybe. I believe in that, too. (You guys, I AM THE ACTUAL TOOTH FAIRY. BELIEVING IN MAGIC IS ONE OF MY ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS.) What I know is that once I started telling myself the ideas would come, they did. And the more I came up with ideas, the more confident I felt that there would always be more. Other things I believe: There will always be a way to get paid for my work, my work matters to more than just me, my mom, and Dan, and I can resist the pull of Facebook, email, and Instagram while trying to work.

3| The voices get quieter
If you’re a writer (or a runner, or anyone who has ever done something hard), you know the voices I’m talking about. When you sit down at a blank screen (or show up at a race or do anything hard), they say you’re not good enough. They ask you who you think you are. They want to tear you down. But when you have a deadline you don’t have time for that. The more I practiced ignoring the voices the quieter and quieter they became until I finally got to a point where they got out of the way and just let me write.

4| Its okay not to be perfect
The more I wrote, the more comfortable I got with letting things be imperfect. That’s not to say I was okay with putting my name on shoddy work. I always submit work I’m proud of. But if you don’t set some kind of limit, you could be tweaking your work forever. That’s not hyperbole. I literally mean forever. You have to accept that there will be aspects of your work that you will wish you could edit after publication, and that is okay.

5| Embrace the cringe
I cringe when I read my early blog posts. It was 2007. I was 28 and dipping my toes into creative non-fiction (that’s fancy for blogging) for the first time. Some of those early posts are okay, some are mediocre, and some are awful. It was a few years after I wrote them when I started to realize that. And there are articles I’ve written less than a year ago that I’d like to edit the crap out of now. I’d delete whole paragraphs, save certain ideas for a whole new article, trim all the fat. But I consider this a good thing. It’s not just a sign that my work could have been better, though it is that, too. That I can recognize the flaws in my writing is also a sign I have grown as a writer.

6| Do what works
I have wasted untold hours on the internet searching for the secrets to productivity, creativity, and how to win at life. Wading through all the pretty infographics and Facebook discussion threads only made me feel inadequate. Successfully managing my deadlines made me feel like a rockstar. Working backwards, I ask myself, what “methods” worked for me? The same methods that have always worked for me; having an external deadline, breaking my tasks into smaller chunks, slotting those sub-tasks into my available free time, using low-tech methods such as a bullet journal (e.g. glorified spiral notebook) and an Excel sheet. I’ve also found—and this is a new one for me— that forcing myself out of bed at stupidly early times to write when the house is quiet and my mind is fresh works for me. I just don’t think well after the kids go to bed and staring at a screen before bedtime sometimes messes with my sleep. Also, it is a luxury to feel there is nothing I “have to” do after I put the kids down, as far as work. I’ll take the little luxuries where I can get them.

 

 

 

How I made 10k this year as a freelancer (and a stay at home mom)

Guys, I made ten thousand dollars as a freelance writer, running coach, and (primarily) stay at home mom with limited childcare this year… and I’m going to tell you how.

I’m not saying my magic formula is going to work for you. I’m just saying it worked for me. Are you ready?

I worked really hard.

It would have been so cool if I told you it was all about the Bulletproof coffee I’m addicted to. (I’m actually just starting to get used to it.) Maybe you’d be inspired if I told you I always did my writing from 5 to 7 am before the kids got up and did all my editing between 1 and 2pm while my big girl is at school and  my little one is (supposedly) resting. That’s hilarious because my kids have slept until seven one time each. I could have uploaded photos of pages of my bullet journal, but sadly, no productivity or creativity secrets can be found there, either. Mostly it’s just tasks I need to complete slotted into any available windows of time and reminders about school pajama days, credit card payments, and dentist appointments.

I know my “method” is not cool or sexy or what you wanted to hear but it’s the truth. I also know I’m probably not supposed to talk about money and I’m definitely not supposed to publicly announce how much I’ve earned. And women are never supposed to think (or at least admit) that anything they do is a big deal.

But this is a big deal to me. When I was tallying my earnings to pay my quarterly taxes this morning and I saw how much I’d earned on my un-fancy excel spreadsheet I thought “HELL YEAH.”

Hell yeah because I was it was with no small amount of “who the hell do I think I am?” that I announced to the universe that I wanted to get paid to write five years ago. In 2013 I was an occupational therapist with a blog and a baby and I loved to write but I didn’t imagine that after my second kid was born my scrubs would stay in a storage box and that I’d someday be able to say I was a writer and a run coach without feeling like a complete and total fraud.

Hell yeah because last year I had one kid in preschool four days a week from 7:55 to 10:40 (yes you read that right; not even a full three hours) and one kid in no school at all. Four days a week, I dropped Sweet Pea off at preschool, then schlepped Lady Bug across town to the only gym where I was pretty sure the childcare wouldn’t accidentally send my food-allergic child into anaphylaxis. There, I’d wait ten minutes for childcare to open at 8:30, drop her off, then hide in the cafe with my laptop and a travel mug of coffee until 10:15.

Hell yeah because I this year I have one kid in preschool and one kid in all-day kindergarten, and even though most of the other moms complain about the bullshit 7:55-10:40 am schedule (You can’t get anything done! By the time you drop them off, you’re turning around to pick them up again!), I (usually) don’t. You can actually get a lot done in that short window of quiet, child-free time when you focus.

Hell yeah because my only regular childcare beside the precious hours when kindergarten and preschool overlap is a sitter who comes three hours a week. I struggle with whether I can really afford this, whether I should really afford this, whether a good writer/coach/mom/human being would forgo this luxury in favor of staying up late to work or declaring Thursdays Netflix Day. Dan is adamant that I deserve a sitter one afternoon a week. He says you have to spend money to make money and we both know that I’m a total nightmare when I get less than eight hours of sleep.

Hell yeah because I know I am so lucky to have Dan as my partner. He has always supported my writing and he continues to be my champion. Every time he shares my work on Facebook (even if it is because I expressly ask him to), every time he takes the kids to the gym or the library or to the park on a Saturday so I can be alone with my computer is him saying “I love you and I believe in you” and I am so very grateful for that. I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to dare call myself a writer without his support.

Hell yeah because I’ve read a million and one blog posts and heard dozens of podcasts on how to be successful, how to get published, how to make money, how to do a lot with a little, and I’m sure a lot of that works for a lot of people but the only thing I’ve done that works for me is to just keep working, even if it’s at a snail’s pace. What has worked for me is forcing myself to do things that are scary and then keep doing them until they are not scary, and then find a new scary thing to try.

This is an incomplete list of what has worked for me: Start a blog, start a writing group, co-produce the Listen To Your Mother Show, start a book, submit my work, attend a blogging conference, keep submitting my work, quit writing a book, submit my work to new outlets, start another book, get rejected, create a writing retreat, quit writing another book, be an author, ask stores to carry my book, speak in public, keep submitting my work, ask my editor if there’s room for me to write on a weekly basis, sign up for a writing retreat, sign up for a writing class, create another writing group, keep submitting, get rejected, keep submitting.

I’m not saying you should start a blog, start your own writing group, co-produce a show of your own, or do anything I did. Maybe you should look at my list and do the opposite of everything I’ve done. I don’t know what will work for you. I just know what’s working for me. It’s not magic and it hasn’t been quick and it hasn’t been easy but it’s been slow, steady, and extremely gratifying.

 

how i made 10k in one year as a freelancer

The Seven Best Books I’ve Read in 2017

I’m in the middle of my 46th book of 2017 as I write this. It was hard to narrow down my top seven pics for the year,maybe harder even than choosing an ice cream flavor at Sweet Cow, but I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge (with a few exceptions including but not limited to fixing our unruly towel bar and almost anything to do with computers). If you want my thoughts on everything I’ve read, including the books I didn’t love, connect with me on Goodreads. I also post my books on Instagram, but only the ones I like. Once in a while, I buy Kindle books because they’re only 1.99 but they usually go unread, partly because there’s no cover to woo me, and partly because I much prefer pages to screens.

1| All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
by Brynn Greenwood
The Seven Best Books I read in 2017
Between the books and all the randomness (Friday is Preschool Pajama Day! Remember to defrost the chicken! Call the web guy about the funky margins on my blog! Don’t forget to never update WordPress without software husband’s supervision ever again!) there’s a lot to sift through in my head… But when I ask myself which book was my favorite read of 2017 this one shoots straight to the top. I’m not sure I’ve ever rooted harder for a character than I did for Wavy. She is the heroine to end all heroines. The book jacket says this is a love story and it certainly is, but it’s also a heroine’s impossible journey and a coming of age story. Beautifully written, page-turning plot, believable characters, and it had me crying like a baby. Wow.

2| The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Seven Best Books I read in 2017
I have read a lot of true crime but nothing creepier than this work of fiction. So. Many. Nightmares. Beside the plot being so compelling, the writing was just beautiful. Atwood sucked me right into this dystopian misogynistic society and left me wondering if we are closer than we think to creating such a thing right now. And the end note… Ugh, the end note! So! Good!

3| Unsubscribe
by Jocelyn Glei
The 7 Best Books I read in 2017
While it wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking—I’d read most of what Glei wrote before, albeit via random blog posts and newsletters, etc—it was concise, witty, funny, engaging, and compelling. But the best part was it literally changed my life as far as helping me break my email addiction/obsession. I’m not 100% cured but I’m significantly better since reading this book about six weeks ago.

4| Slow Motion
by Dani Shapiro
The Seven Best Books I read in 2017
I’ve been on a Dani Shapiro jag… Ever since I read Hourglass this summer, I’ve been obsessed. I read Devotion this fall, and now this, which is my fave of hers so far. Her writing is so sharp and vivid. It engages all the senses AND compels you to keep reading to find out what happens next. What else could you want in a memoir (or any book)? This is a story of family, growing up, and identity. If books were related, and if you can compare memoir to fiction (they’re not and I am) it would be Sweetbitter’s big sister. Although I felt way more connected to Shapiro than I did to Tess (the protagonist in Sweetbitter). Maybe I felt an extra surge of love for this book because I, too, was involved with a toxic guy in my early 20’s and I could relate to being in an unhealthy relationship where the only way to get out is to grow up.

5| El Deafo
by Cece Bell
The Seven Best Books I read in 2017
This graphic novel reminds me a little of Judy Blume, if Blume drew cartoons. It’s the autobiographical story of our heroine Cece, who is growing up deaf among hearing friends and family. I️ loved reading this with Sweet Pea, who is now five. There were parts that were over her head but still super enjoyable for both of us. It’s a story of identity, resilience, friendship, and confidence. I wholeheartedly recommend it to readers of any age, who will see themselves in young Cece and her quest for belonging. 

6| Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng
The Seven Best Books I read in 2017
Little Fires Everywhere was hauntingly beautiful writing, a plot filled with twists and turns, characters who leap off the pages. Set in the idyllic town of Shaker Heights, Ohio, we see that things are never quite as they seem, particularly when it comes to the inner workings of a family—any family. Ng is a genius. Don’t read this book without tissues.

7| The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
Adele Waldman

I couldn’t put this book down. The dialogue, the characters’ mannerisms, and body language were so realistic. I normally don’t love a book if I don’t fall in love with the protagonist, but this was an exception. I found Nate to immature and grating yet Waldman helped me understand him, which allowed me to tolerate him. I adored Hannah. The genius of this book was that I felt Waldman excavated the mind of the non-commital immature dude, came back from her journey, and over a few glasses of wine, told every woman who ever wondered what the hell happened with a relationship that seemed to be going somewhere until the guy mysteriously bailed, exactly why it ended, by simply telling us a story. This would be a perfect book to take on vacation. 

For more recommendations, check out my top picks from 2016 and 2015.

Writing. Speaking. Reading. Running. (Late summer 2017 edition)

Writing. Speaking. Reading. Running. (Late summer 2017 edition)

 

Writing
You might have seen my essay on Bell’s Palsy on Longreads. If you sat and read all 4k+ words of it, thank you. I know it’s hard to sit at a screen and read anything longer than a tweet or twenty million (or maybe I’m the only one with a Twitter problem?). If you didn’t read it, it was long, it was personal and I was proud that Longreads published it because I’ve never read anything I didn’t love on that site. That experience, which included random strangers reaching out from random corners of the internet to thank me for telling my story would have been sufficiently awesome even if it didn’t lead to me getting my picture on PEOPLE FUCKING MAGAZINE’S WEBSITE. Yes, THE People Magazine.

The actual day after my essay went live on Longreads, friends were blowing up my phone like “OMG did you see Angelina Jolie announced she had Bell’s Palsy!? You’re going to be famous/besties with Angelina!!” And I was like, “Talk about serendipity.” AND THEN A REPORTER FROM PEOPLE MAGAZINE EMAILED ME LIKE CAN I INTERVIEW YOU? And I was like YES HOW SOON? We chatted for a good half hour, and I obsessed the whole rest of the day about all the things I shouldn’t have said and all the things I should have said instead and when Dan asked me why I didn’t prepare more, I said I didn’t think I needed to because she was going to be asking me about me, which is a topic I’m basically an expert on even without any flash cards or cliffs notes or anything. I consoled myself by reminding myself that when I interview someone for a story, it’s in everyone’s best interest to make that person sound as smart as possible and then I tried to chill out and avoid compulsively refreshing my email waiting for the reporter to send me the link to the story. (I was not successful in either venture.)

The story is here. (It did not make me appear to be a blathering idiot, as I’d feared.)

Pam Moore People Magazine

It wouldn’t truly have been a few minutes of fame without some obligatory hate mail lurking in my inbox. Or my Instagram comments. Same diff. Confession: I used to be jealous of people who complained about hateful words being hurled at them from across the interwebs because I thought someone hating you meant you made someone feel something, which is always a writer’s goal, isn’t it? And if no one is hating you, mustn’t that mean no one is reading you? I still think being hated is kind of cool in the theoretical but now that I’ve experienced it, I can say that in the actual, it’s about as cool as being stuck in the driest of dry spells when you see your ex-boyfriend with another woman who is prettier than you, thinner than you, and in possession of perfect ponytail full of flowing, honey blonde hair, and they are laughing and carrying on like they’re in a Prozac ad and your stomach lurches, your face gets prickly hot, and you look down while walking away quickly, hoping they didn’t see you and when you reach for your car keys five minutes later you notice your hand is trembling. So, not fun at all.

Speaking 
I was invited to a friend’s book club as the guest of honor! It was really fun to answer questions about my book, There’s No Room for Fear in a Burley Trailer, and to hang out and drink a Bloody Mary (with homemade pickled green beans!) with a group of cool women. If you want me to come to your book club, whether in person or virtually, just let me know.

FullSizeRender (1)

 

Reading
I am not going to re-invent the wheel… Here are my Instagram posts of a couple of my recent faves. I post everything I read to Goodreads, but only my favorites make it onto my Instagram feed.

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Those were two amazing books. I have a few book crushes (e.g. books I am DYING to get my hands on). They are Celeste Ng’s new one, Little Fires Everywhere and two by Elizabeth Crane. I don’t know how she published two books (a book of short stories, Turf and a novel, The History of Great Things) before I knew anything about it but apparently, she did. I know, you’re like “dying to get your hands on them, Pam? There is this thing called Amazon which makes it possible for you to have them in 48 hours or instantly on your Kindle.” I have Amazon Prime. I know. I also have a stack full of books that I have owned for an embarrassingly long time and still haven’t read because of all the books I put on hold at the library, and then they become available, inevitably all at the same time, which means I am in a constant mad rush to finish my library books before they’re due, which means I never get to read the books I actually own, which means I feel too guilty to buy more books, or at this point, to even request more from the library. Fellow reading addicts do you feel me??

Running
I ran a 5k while we were on vacation in Bethany Beach, Delaware. Despite not having run much at all, I am a competitive asshole which means I rarely skip a chance to race at sea level. When I showed up to the start line, I was at turns baffled and impressed by how much school spirit the other runners had. Nearly everyone was wearing something or more than one thing adorned with the name of a college. I thought maybe I’d become so accustomed to Colorado, I’d forgotten how obsessed with prestigious institutions of higher learning us east coasters are wont to be. (That said, Dan doesn’t know which colleges are in the Ivy League and I have a hard time wrapping my head around this gaping hole in his knowledge). Me being me, I failed to understand that the fact that the race was called the College Day 5k had anything do with it until I did my cool-down jog.

Shortest race recap ever: I hadn’t been running because I’d been (and continue to be) going to Crossfit three to four times a week, teaching spin once a week, and running or biking or swimming one day per week. I wanted to see how well I could run on practically zero running, lots of weights, plenty of squats, and mostly HIIT (high-intensity interval training) for cardio. It turns out I actually need to run in order to run fast.

I started toward the front, noticed that my watch read 6:50-something as I passed the first mile mark and also that I was kind of dying, so I slowed down a few notches. While I struggled to establish a sustainable pace, it felt like the entire field was passing me. When I got to the turnaround,  I could see that this was totally not the case, but my slowing pace was demoralizing nonetheless. I kept telling myself every race doesn’t have to be a PR and that I had no business coming here and thinking I’d be able to run my best on virtually no running. As we neared the three-mile mark, I found a pair of women running together, one of whom had the same shorts as me (twinsies!!!). I focused on them and only them. My breath was coming out in gasps and my legs were on fire but seeing that I was making up ground with every step, I resisted the urge to slow down, even just a hair. I pretended like I was relaxed and cool as I passed the slower of the two (they’d separated by the time I got to her) and forced myself to keep my legs turning over as I was still on the hunt for my shorts twin. As I passed her, I said, “Come with me,” but she was feeling rougher than I was apparently, so I passed her stayed in front of her through the finish line.

After I crossed the line I bent down and put my head between my knees and told Dan to please please please remember that if an hour from now I was ruminating on whether I’d truly given it my all, to remind me that I had, no question. Though it wasn’t my fastest 5k it was the best effort I could give on that day and I am proud of that. My time was 22:45, which put me at second in the 35-39 age group and tenth overall woman. (In comparison, last year, after months of consistently logging 20ish miles of running per week, albeit at a slow to moderate pace most of the time, I ran a flat, sea level 5k in a time of 21:59.)

CollegeDay5k

And like I mentioned… I’ve been doing CrossFit (CrossFitting?) and I am loving it. It’s efficient, it’s different, and I’m always pushing myself in new ways. Running will still be there when I get the urge to run again, but I just haven’t felt like it. I love running but I’m not married to it, so a break feels right for the time being. Also, I have my eye on a totally non-running goal… pull-ups. Even a single pull-up would be a huge accomplishment for me.