It all started here. I needed a simple way of motivating myself to workout 5 times a week. Years ago, I was training for my first sprint distance triathlon and even though I was excited about doing it, I had a negative voice in my head letting me know constantly that I had never done this before.
I got a butterfly for running, a ladybug for biking, a fish for swimming, and if I got all five workouts done in one week, Snoopy came on Saturday! My calendar would look like this. It wasn’t long before the calendar ruled. At the end of the season I had a little talk with me. What if you set up a system of stickers for things you are trying to accomplish or things you really don’t like to do? I figured it was worth a try.
A major life discovery was right around the corner. For one, I respond very well to stickers. And the calendar is the first thing you see when you enter my kitchen. So every morning this tacky stickery work of art whispers: “Hey, you’re doing a good job.” I kept this calendar habit up for several years. Then I read a book, The Four Day Win, by Martha Beck, and in her book she describes a method of rewiring your brain using rewards: positive feedback in four day chunks ( o.k. so mine was 5) and a bigger reward if you do the four day chunk. I had to smile.
What if something this small and “childish” has worked with my negative brain? I have suffered many comments about my calendar over the years. Now, I just smile and know that one: it works for me. And two: there are other fanatics out there. Look what a friend posted on my wall on facebook the other day: sticker wallpaper!!! Yes, I am eyeing a space in my office to try it. Perhaps a winter project.
Do you have something that you reward yourself with, that started small and over time gained place in your personality profile? Please tell me what it is.
Posted by Tegan on Aug 29, 2011 in one brave soup
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This morning, Seattle summer feels quite like fall– cool, misty, and grey. But we’ve had a glorious run of sunny and warm-to-hot days lately. I am grateful for Seattle’s temperate summers, especially when compared to the 70+ days of 100+-degree weather in Texas and the humidity, heat, and hurricanes on the east coast.
However, when the mercury rises above about 75, I become a huge wimp when it comes to cooking. I have been known to subsist on cucumber sandwiches and frozen grapes for days at a time during heat waves– not good. So I’m building an arsenal of Healthy Meals I Won’t Melt Cooking. Salads and sandwiches count, but I’m especially proud of my latest vegan soup, good served hot or cold.
Carrot & Lentil Summer Soup
1 onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
6 cups water
3 cups of carrot slices (3-4 large carrots)
1/2 cup dried lentils
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup frozen corn
salt & pepper
Normally, when I start a soup, I sautee onions. Because I was such a wimp, I started to sautee the onions and the mustard seed together, then deemed it “TOO HOT,” so I poured in the water for the soup, gave a quick stir, threw on the pot lid, and stepped away from the stove.
After reading a few pages in front of a fan, I peeked in again, saw the water was boiling, and dumped in the carrots. Again, I put the lid back on and retreated. After about 5 minutes, I returned to toss in the lentils, cumin, and ginger.
10 minutes later, I returned to turn off the burner. More stirring. I let the pot cool for another 15 minutes, then went at it with my stick blender until the soup was thick, with a few chunks. To reward myself for proximity to a warm pot of soup, I
clambered into the freezer added 1/2 cup of frozen corn to the soup, dashed salt and pepper, stirred, and left the kitchen.
After about 20 minutes, the soup was cooled down enough for me to taste, and the kitchen was back to pre-cooking temps.
You can serve this hot or cold, depending on the temperature outside.
Posted by Linda on Aug 26, 2011 in Linda's posts
, Road From Alcatraz
Alcatraz was the biggest event I have trained for in a while, about an imaginary mile outside of my comfort zone. The best part of the race in hindsight was the support. It was perfect. We have photos, and especially video footage, that record how hard the race was on me, in case I want to start telling everyone Alcatraz was a cake walk.
But we also have great moments caught on camera. Come on a guided tour of the morning. (M.L. Daniel or Colin took all the photos in this post. And just a warning, if you’re short on time: this is our biggest post yet because there are so many memories.)
First thing was to put on my wetsuit and the tennis shoes for the walk to the ferry. Good thing Monica and Colin were there this early, I truly didn’t know my right foot from my left.
This is our own Abbey Road-feeling photo as we walked to the ferry, 1 mile away from the finish line. Swimmer Shari in the foreground, Monica in the middle, me in the back, and M.L. checking her camera equipment a few paces behind. I love the early morning focused feeling in this moment.
Then boarding the ferries. By the way, we were among the last seven swimmers on our ferry. M.L. grabbed an offer extended to the crowd, that people could board IF they were willing to carry swimmers’ bags to the truck when disembarking. She jumped at the chance to get some photos from the other boat. These are the coolest photos ever. How did she get one of me jumping off the ferry?
She also got excellent photos of the three of us in the choppy water swimming toward the start line, which was a line of kayaks. And a nice view of San Francisco as we swam toward shore.
We come to the best part of the swim: the end. Riding the currents and the swoosh into the Aquatic Park, topped by my surprise meeting up with Shari. Yahoo!!!
At the finish line Monica had hot chocolates from Ghiradelli waiting. I drank two of them. At this point on the video Colin kept asking, “Linda, what do you need, what do you need?” I had no idea what I needed, but they were there and it was over. All I felt was relief; joy followed in a few minutes. Next thing was to get my wetsuit off and find our other swimmer, Jeri.
As I reflect on the adventure, I see the faces of supportive friends: Shari and Jeri who trained with me; M.L. and Monica who traveled with us; Toni who stayed home and cared for Heather that weekend and slid in for all those early morning workouts as well; and Colin, who shared the blow by blow and caught it all on video (and hasn’t gotten tired of telling the story from his perspective). It’s one of the best adventures I’ve had in a while, and it shows me I should keep having adventures, even ones born out of deep sorrow.
People have asked whether I will do it again. All I can say right now is that I definitely want to, but I haven’t registered yet. If and when I do, I’ll be sure to post about my next Road to Alcatraz.
Posted by Tegan on Aug 24, 2011 in behind the scenes
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By the end of March, we had done a lot of research on literary agents, including hours reading through mediabistro’s agent profiles, writersmarket, and just about every google search I could think of. I read lots of agents’ blogs like this and this, and even started following some agents on twitter. I wrote emails to writers I knew, networked with authors, and bookmarked sites for inspiration and ideas about whom and how to query. Linda and I attended a workshop and read helpful books like this and this.
We polished our query email, double-checked our lists, and submitted to a batch of agents.
All the agents on our list requested email queries, and most were very open on their websites about the turn-around time to expect. (I have to admit, transparency was something I was looking for in a potential agent– the ones on the top of my list were those who had clear submission guidelines and seemed like they communicated expectations well.)
After hearing and reading stories about amazing authors who experienced astounding numbers of rejections on the quest for an agent, I was prepared for rejection. But a part of me also couldn’t help but believe that someone on our shortlist would appreciate Linda’s story in all its inspiring glory.
As you know from Linda’s recent post, our agent match was there! The process worked! We did our homework and got brave, then we found the agent who sees our potential. I guess I can say that she found us, too; agents receive so many queries, it’s wonderful to be discovered. Now we have another great person on our One Brave Thing a Day team.
Thank you for supporting us and helping us get to this point along the path to publication. We’ll keep you posted!
Posted by Linda on Aug 22, 2011 in life at home
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Colin and I bought a great juicer maybe 16 months ago in an attempt to eat more friuts and veggies. The first few encounters with our new appliance didn’t go all that well, so I’m afraid it just sat on the counter and collected dust. We talked about giving it another go from time to time but never quite got there…Until…
We watched a DVD called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It’s along the lines of “Super Size Me” with an Aussie as the main character, which is nice. (I love the accent.) There was enough inspiration in that little flim to carry us two months and counting. What kicked us into gear at first was Colin getting the bug, then I came to appreciate how much better I feel if I juice 3 times a week or more. I also liked the cartoon secton in the movie showing me what repair work was being done in my body by these extra nutrients.
It’s always best fresh, so we have learned our lesson about big batches and trying to freeze it. It’s just better to make peace with the semi-hassle of washing the machine each time. Now, washing up is no big deal, but at first that was a pain.
This batch was beets, tomato, carrots, cucumber, apples, and cabbage. Yum.
Several more months of farmers markets left this summer, and we’re finally making good use of this big machine. I’m liking the near future.
Have you dusted off anything lately?
The hope was that someday we would come out of the shadows. We purposely took silhouette photos of us to symbolize our book as a work in progress.
The same night we also took photos of us expecting that someday we would have an agent– that we would break out of the shadows and our agent would pitch our book to publishers. That day is soon. We have and agent, and she is getting ready to pitch, baby, pitch on our behalf.
Since these photos were taken over a year ago we have learned so much. Actually these photos are precious to me because they remind me of the joy of the journey. I hesitated to show you these because the background is all wrong, but the fun is captured. That’s the important thing.
So what can we all do while we wait? Please invite everyone we know to the website (blogsite)– onebravethingaday.com. (We tried to make it easy for the people you tell to remember– it’s just the title of the book.) And leaving comments is a great idea, as publishers soon will be looking on. We will continue blogging regularly, and frankly, I’m interested in what you would like more posts about. We have had a variety, from Sweeping as meditation, to Heather at the Zoo, the Road to Alcatraz 2011, Highway 101, Bacon, Number’s game, and the Wise women reading circle, to name just a few. What were some of your favorite topics?
I am so excited to see what this next leg of the journey is like…I hear stories.
Keep us on our toes on our blog. Let us know what you think.
Posted by Tegan on Aug 17, 2011 in behind the scenes
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Last week, Linda observed over the phone that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t apologize much. (I’m pretty sure she meant this in a nice way.) She’s right– I definitely try to say “thank you” more than I say “sorry,” and I think this makes me feel happier. Linda pointed out that I seem to run on gratitude instead of guilt.
“Sorry” implies regrets. Yes, of course I do things I shouldn’t, but I try not to regret. To me, this means that I take responsibility, but instead of just focusing on what went wrong, I try to focus on what I can do to change the situation for the better. For me, that is the difference between responsibility and guilt.
When I do say “I’m sorry, ” I try to follow contrition with gratitude. For example, “I’m sorry I am running late. Thank you for waiting for me!” Or at the store, “I am sorry that we cannot give you cash back on this return, but I am grateful for your understanding of this policy. May I help you find something today, or would you like a store credit that won’t expire?” Apologies should be meaningful, and a “sorry” followed by a “thank you” helps me think about why and to whom I am apologizing.
I start most days with a to-do list, but I finish most days with reflections on gratitude. As I snuggle into bed, I think about what I have to be thankful for.
Some things I am thankful for right now: waking up to sunshine and a loving husband; houseguests who help me appreciate our home and neighborhood anew; three very different but enjoyable jobs I’m working on today; plans for a quiet night with a good book; news that I can look forward to two more weddings of friends this year; and a phone appointment with Linda in just a few minutes to delve deeper into the mysteries of motivation and meaning.
What are you thankful for right now?
Posted by Linda on Aug 15, 2011 in family
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This was one of those slow weekends where I actually had time to read a book. I know everyone loves this book. Now it was my turn, and it did not disappoint.
It’s mid August, and just now I feel like I can slow down a little and enjoy summer. Good thing, because summer will be over soon. Or will it? We are known to have gorgeous falls in Seattle, and in fact some of our best weather can be in September.
Being the planning type of person that I seem to be, I start to wonder what do I still want to do before summer has passed. A few more motorcycle rides would be nice, lots more warm weather running and swimming, outdoor eating with friends and family. And perhaps watch the stars for hours some night. And eat about 7 more watermelons. That ought to do it. And oh yeah, Heather and I would like to take a hike on one of the wheelchair-accessible paths in the mountains.
What do you need before we say good-bye to summer?
Posted by Linda on Aug 12, 2011 in behind the scenes
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A nice summer evening on Queen Anne Books‘ back patio with 16 authors, a BBQ, help-yourself lemonade, iced tea, or some more adult beverages, and you have Tegan in her element…sort of. She really isn’t a BBQ whiz and wound up quite red-faced standing over the grill full of hot dogs. (Truth is she is a vegan.)
Tegan at the grill
The element part is how much these authors all know her and have a history with her. She has been the event coordinator for Queen Anne Books for years and has met and hosted nearly every one of these authors individually.
Tonight she had co-hosts, the Seattle7Writers. (There were actually 16 authors by the time everyone made it through the traffic to the party.) I have to admit I was fairly overwhelmed by the author power on the patio. I held my own, meeting several in the casual cookout atmosphere; the chatting was nice and polite. All the authors have been down the road Tegan and I are just beginning, the journey to publication. Tegan was at home and at ease with the authors. I love that Tegan’s world is books, and she is in her element there.
Tegan ringing up a book
My favorite is to give her a reader to solve. I explain that I want to buy a book for my friend who is in a specific place in her life right now. Tegan’s mind goes to work, and she pulls two books from the self. Then the narrowing begins, and a few more questions, and voila, the book is sold! That, my friends, is the wonder of a great book seller.
Tegan: total focus
There are many things to love about Tegan: her intelligence, perseverance, love for a good time, and oh yes…her love of BOOKS!
Where are you in your element?
Posted by Tegan on Aug 10, 2011 in motivation
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Yesterday, all I wanted to do when I got home from work was read my book, but I had laundry, other chores around the house, and work emails to accomplish before I felt I earned the time on the couch. To keep myself on my feet (or on my bouncy ball desk chair), I got out the pedometer. Some days the to-do list just isn’t enough: I need the numbers to back me up.
My pedometer clicks a little with every step. It’s not completely accurate; if I’m wearing a loose waist, it loses about one of every three steps unless I’m climbing stairs. But I love seeing the numbers go up, and I love the extra satisfaction I get from acknowledging the bonus exercise I get as I go about tasks I’d rather avoid.
I try to play games with myself, aiming for a certain number by the end of a particular task, or wondering if bouncing in my chair while I write emails can raise it 30 clicks. (It can.) Best of all, when I wear my pedometer, I sometimes find myself doing some dance steps while I do dishes, fold laundry, or cook because doing the grapevine as I stir a stew really gets those numbers up. Before I know it, not only am I staying off the couch, I’m actually kind of having fun while I do what needs to be done.
Do you have any number games you play with yourself?