Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of 2009

I think many of us will agree that 2009 was a difficult year.  And it felt difficult while living it.  But looking back, I have so much to be grateful for and wanted to share some of the highlights with you.

  • I got married!  On February 27, 2009, I married the love of my life, Tim Long.  Just a small, simple ceremony with my sister, brother-in-law and parents in attendance.  It was the perfect way to start our life together.  I couldn't ask for a better friend, partner, cheerleader and coach.

  • My sister got married, too!  Her celebration was larger and more elaborate, but no less joyful.  So happy to welcome Brian to our family and see my sister so happy.

  • My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary!  So, so grateful for their love and support.  And their genes--don't they look amazing?

    • My dad completed his first half marathon!  Our family trip to Kiawah Island was supposed to be my marathon debut.  Alas, it was not meant to be--a nasty case of swine flu knocked me out.  But it was a true joy to cheer on my father as he crossed the finish line--two days later, he was ready for more! 

    • My best friend Emily had another sweet baby boy, Samuel "Cutler," every bit as adorable as his big brother, Jonah.  Such a blessing to be able to spend time with the Hardings this year.

      • While the Country Music Marathon was my least favorite event of the year, I got to spend the entire weekend with one of my best friends, Angela Hansberger.  It was our third season training together, and collectively, we've raised over $30,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Angela had never even run a mile until her dear friend Kate was diagnosed over two years ago--what a joy to run all of those miles with her, and better still, to celebrate Kate being cancer free this summer.

        • The 4th of July!  It's my favorite holiday.  This year, I ran the Peachtree Road Race for the eight consecutive year with my TNT friends, my husband, my dad and honorary brother David Cordell, whose wife Sarah (my best friend from college) and son Nathan have started joining us for the holiday.  I love nothing more than a great run in the sweltering heat with 60,000 of my closet friends, followed by grilling out, fruity drinks and low-key times with family.

          • The Stupid Chickens!  Most Wednesday nights, you can find me, Tim and our neighbors and close friends, Paul and Sarah McKibben, plus others who joined us along the way, at Bone Garden Cantina.  No matter how packed our training and work schedules are, Wednesday night has become sacred time reserved for fellowship over cheese dip and margaritas.  Better yet, we managed to win four straight quarterly tournaments--earning us bar cash for even more cheese dip and margaritas!

          • My dear friends Jaclyn and Roger got married!  I met them through my very first Team in Training event, when their relationship was brand new, so it's been a joy to watch them fall deeper and deeper in love as the months and years have passed.  Mazel tov!

          • Twitter!  I heart Twitter.  Yes, not all connections on Twitter turn into friendships (see this recent blog post for more), but many of them did, particularly with my long-lost twin Gini Dietrich (whom I got to meet in Chicago in October), and the fabulously witty and wonderful Marisa Sharpe.  So blessed to meet so many amazing new people.


          2009 was the year this formerly picky eater became a foodie.

          • Meeting Jen and Ryan Hidinger of Staple House.  Fabulous people making fabulous food (and football fanatics).  You won't meet more real people in all of Atlanta, and Tim and I are happy to call them friends.  Can't wait for their restaurant to open!

            • Woodfire Grill.  I had four outstanding meals at Woodfire this year: Tim's birthday, a girls' night out with Angela, my birthday dinner with family and a serendipitous meal with my friend Chris.  All very sweet memories, made even sweeter by the company as well as the outstanding food and service.

            • Antico pizza.  I need a 12 step program for this pizza.  My best experience there was a private tasting in the kitchen, where we ate slice after slice of cheesy goodness.  While the place has lost some of its initial charm, the pizza is still heavenly enough to merit a weekly visit.

            • The Holeman and Finch burger.  It's legendary.  For those who don't know, they only make 24 burgers a day and only serve them at 10pm.  And on Christmas Eve, Tim and I FINALLY got to taste Atlanta's juiciest novelty.  We've decided to make it an annual tradition. 

            • Julie and Julia.  The ultimate foodie movie.  Several of us (including Patti and Kathianne, pictured below), got together to celebrate a friend's birthday, then went to see the movie that had all donning aprons and craving beef bourguignon


            While 2009 seemed challenging in the moment, as I look back, it was a year of huge growth.  For me as a person, as a runner and as an entrepreneur.  I can't say thank you enough to all of the people who made that possible and look forward to more amazing experiences, relationships and connections in 2010.

            Pass the champagne!

            Monday, December 28, 2009

            Shitty First Drafts

            As a writer, I’m both lazy and a perfectionist. I don’t want or think I have to devote a lot of time to writing, yet I’m frustrated when the outcome isn’t perfect. Not the best recipe for a
            successful blog.

            I’ve realized that both the laziness and the perfectionism are born of fear. Of failure. Of disappointment. Of disappearing. Of being misunderstood.

            "Writing is not, for us, an art, but breathing." -Anais Nin

            I’ve been a writer since my early years, when I scribbled stories in notebooks, poems in the margins of textbooks and entered every essay contest imaginable. I had no fear. I hadn’t learned it yet. Instead, I wrote because I loved it. Because I wanted to. Because I needed to.

            As you get older, you learn fear. You learn excuses.

            I’ll write more when…

            I have more time.
            I have a better (or any) blog design.
            I get more followers.
            I have better ideas.
            I’m in the mood.

            Which basically means, you’ll never write.

            A few weeks ago, I realized that I needed to embrace the fear. So I did what I always do when I need inspiration. I turned to Anne Lamott. She describes the process perfectly. The excuses, the rituals, the bargaining, the terror. And then she introduced me to something powerful: the “shitty first draft.”

            I’ve tried everything to circumvent the shitty first draft. Not writing one. Writing and not revising. Writing a draft and abandoning it in frustration. Writing at 2am and blindly praying for the best.

            But there’s no avoiding the shitty first draft. It’s part of the process.

            And Jon Morrow’s blog a few days ago drove that point home.

            Writing is work.  Hard work.  And necessary work.

            So, I’m embracing it all—shitty first drafts, the fear, the anxiety, the perfectionism. How about you?

            Saturday, December 26, 2009

            Are You My Friend?

            One of my favorite childhood books is Are You My Mother?  In this endearing tale, a lost little bird wanders around in search of his mother.  He happens upon planes, cows, trains and other random objects, asking plaintively, “are you my mother?”  It’s a really sweet story about finding your tribe, about belonging, and I think it is similar to situations some of us encounter online.  We all want to make friends.  We all want to connect.  Belong.  But to what extent are we building friendships and lasting relationships?  And how much of it is white noise?

            I have a tendency to call everyone a “friend,” with no distinction between those I just bonded with about Glee on Twitter and those who knew me the first time leggings were popular.  My husband recently questioned my overuse of this word, saying [insert your social media guru and/or popular blogger of choice here] is NOT your friend.  Which, of course, prompted me to craft a smart-ass DM to one of the aforementioned gurus/bloggers, who replied that he did, in fact, consider us friends.

            “But there’s a difference between ‘friends’ and ‘friendly,’” my husband insisted.

            And he has a point.  Yes, I’m accessible and witty and occasionally overshare, but the several hundred people I know solely through the magic of the web aren’t all the same category of “friend.”  Only a handful of us have shared deep secrets and belly laughs over a bottle of wine or held each other in moments of grief.  To those special few, I am eternally grateful.

            But what does it mean to be authentic--to be real and engaging and sincere--in a space in which public and private are so blurred?  To want people to know those things that make your heart soar (for the record: running, Anne Lamott, Manhattan, naps, wine, amazing food, Don Draper, show tunes and shoes), but without them thinking I’m wasting time (naps, running, the contents of my DVR), money (wine, travel, the shoes) or influence (talking about all of the above instead of super-important industry facts and trends).  What’s the difference between things I endorse and products and people I represent?  How do I use these tools effectively to promote myself and my business?  And do so with personality and grace?  And yes, maybe even find a few friends along the way.

            Wednesday, December 23, 2009

            Taking the Plunge

            I've always had an identity crisis when it comes to blogging.  This is my fourth blog to date, and while it's the first one to bear my real name, I've realized that I'm still a bit intimidated by the blogosphere.

            In person, I think I come across as poised, confident--a leader.  But when it comes to writing, at least publicly and especially when it comes to thought leadership, I am shockingly meek.  I thought because I've established this blog as a personal, confessional space, it wasn't the place to explore more weighty topics--particularly professional ones.  But I'm realizing now it's simply fear.  Because I don't have all the answers, and the questions change daily. 

            I've been guilty of the same timidity when it comes to business.  Second-guessing myself.  Undervaluing my work.  Giving things away.  Fearing risk and failure.

            No more.  If I'm serious about my dreams--writing, speaking, connecting with amazing people and promoting the heck out of my clients--I need to jump in the deep end, feet first, eyes wide open.  

            Or, as some of my wise friends have written in the past few days: Strike while the iron is hotBurn the ships. Fight like hell.

            2010 is my year. Stay tuned.

            Monday, December 21, 2009

            December 17, 2009

            A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about serendipity and perseverance.  How if you just make the effort and take baby steps (again, "bird by bird"), good things will come your way.  Little did I know that that particular bout of perseverance was coinciding with the swine flu--so perhaps, a little rest would've been in order.

            And then, approximately two weeks later, I had a very similar day (sans swine flu), on a much larger scale.  So big, in fact, that I sent this email to a good friend:

            Do you ever have one of those days when it seems like everything--every idea, dream, connection, thought--comes together?  Today is that day for me--put it on the calendar.  December 17, 2009.

            And little did I know what was to follow.  So many amazing connections and opportunities and experiences that made every little misstep, every dead-end job, every ounce of blood, sweat and tears I've poured into this business worthwhile.

            2010 is going to be a huge year.  Bring it.

            Wednesday, December 16, 2009

            Bird by Bird

            It's December 16, and nothing this month has gone according to plan.

            I was looking forward to December.  My birthday, my first marathon, my first real vacation of the year.

            Instead, I got the flu (on my birthday), missed my first marathon after months of training (again) and spent most of my vacation sick with hives (and watching other people run the marathon).

            Needless to say, I've been a little blue.  Maybe a lot blue.  And no amount of peppermint bark or wrapping paper or Christmas music was easing the pain.

            At 2 this morning, two weeks deep into my personal pity party, I turned to an old friend.  As I picked up my worn copy of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and read the words that inspired its title--"bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird," suddenly, the path became clearer.

            It's not about the grand plans--the marathon, the business empire, the book I've yet to write--it's about the steps in between.  Getting out of bed.  Running a few miles.  Writing a few paragraphs.  Responding to a few emails.  Connecting with a few friends.  Sharing a few great ideas.  

            The rest will come... 

            Thursday, December 3, 2009


            Today was a quintessential weary publicist day.  I woke up slightly hungover from family visits, marathon training, birthday celebrating, good food and yes, perhaps too much tequila.  It was once again monsooning in Atlanta (seriously--when did this city turn into Seattle?), running on maaaaybe four hours of sleep and nursing some pretty nasty hives.  All I really wanted to do was go put on my flannel pajamas, curl up under the warm blanket and make it all go away.

            But I fought the urge.  I promised myself I could take a nap once I finished up a 3pm call with a potential new client.

            And then amazing things started happening.  Seredindipidous things.  The details of which aren't important.

            The important thing is that I got out of bed.  I tried.  I strove.  I persevered.  

            And the universe listened.

            Wednesday, December 2, 2009


            January used to be the dedicated month for resolutions.  But it seems now that December is en vogue.  I've read quite a few blogs this week encouraging people to use the holiday season for self-reflection, planning and strategizing.

            Maybe it's because my birthday falls at the beginning of December (I'm currently celebrating nearly 24 hours of being 34!), but this is also a natural time of year for me to ruminate and dream.

            Note my use of the word "dream."  Substitute "vision," if you must.

            Because I'm not a fan of resolutions.  Big lofty plans just seem destined to fail.  Maybe it's the free spirit in me, but I don't like to put boxes or limits or black ink on dreams.  Conceive them, believe in them and nourish them, but don't get bogged down by lists and tasks and metrics.

            Dream big and dream often.


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