Seven Weeks Till Summer

The time to start has come … again. And frankly, I’m over with starting over, I’m done with not being done, and I’m finished with beginning … the redundancy makes me ill. Nevertheless, I find myself at the starting line once more.

Now, a little self-talk: enough with the defeatist attitude Erin, the life is greener anywhere but here bull***t, and the I’ve already lost before starting rhetoric must end this instant.

Ok. Better.

The deal is this: I readily accept fitness, I welcome tightness, and I want full body strength. I need health. I need energy and mental wellbeing. I need to feed my body good things and work it the way it was intended (i.e. more than a little and less than a lot). I must  push-on towards the muchiest version of myself.

I have 7 weeks until the first day of summer, enough time to pull it together for some intense (not gonna lie) shizzle (are people still izzle-ing? if not they should, because it’s awesome).

I must make this clear though – over the next few months you are going to hear a lot about getting ready for  bikini season. I do not want to be another voice among the many saying you are gross in less than an overcoat if you aren’t a certain size or heaven forbid you have certain unseemly textures to your skin. The whole thin-obsessed culture we live in is effing ridiculous.

Here’s the real deal – last week I wore a bikini to the beach, when I bent over to pick up sand toys or sunscreen-up my kid a decent fold of stretch-marked skin hung over my bottoms, also my thighs rub generously when I walk, and neither of these things make me unsuitable for bikini wearing. The only prerequisite for bikini wearing (or anything wearing really) is a body. I do not want my goals of fitness and health to be mistaken as goals of striving for an ideal body, which in my case would be a thinner body.

There are no ideal bodies.

There are only bodies.

Body confidence means being present and grateful in the body I have right this very moment, without making excuses or expecting more than what my current body offers to me. My body does not owe a standard of beauty to anyone, ever, without exception.

Seven weeks from now I plan to have a healthier body, I will not have a more valuable, lovable, or beautiful one.

I constructed eating and exercising guidelines, taking hints from all of my favorite health gurus (Tone It Up, Bob Harper, Paleo), as well as, listing specific dates between now and June 18th (my birthday) which will provide challenges for following said guidelines. JR suggested I do this, and like most every other suggestion she’s had for me over the tenure of our friendship, she has proved to be right once more. She also suggested I keep a journal of my progress. I will try.

Image

In order to celebrate my body’s capacity for health and fitness we are re-releasing our Weekly Plan Printable updated in color and font with the same superior design including tear-away shopping list, 5 meal structure, water goal bubbles and workout section.

Until next time, keep hydrated.

-Erin

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE: two thirtysomethings weekly plan

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How to Write a Novel // Part 2: My Tale of Finding a Character Worth Loving

I read that Stephanie Meyer, author of the runaway bestselling Twilight series, had muses give her ideas, like in a freaking Greek myth: MUSES.  I may have found it on her blog or something.  But, the story goes  like this: Steph wasn’t a professional writer or anything, she was a stay-at-home mom with a background in … I don’t remember (did some research, she studied English at BYU and was a receptionist pre-babies).  Soon after the birth of her second or third child she had an epic dream.  In the dream, a glittery vampire boy lays in a meadow with an average teenage girl, he’s trying not to bite/kill her, and all the while falling in love with her. The next day Ms. Meyer opens a new document on her computer and writes the scene from her dream (ends up being Chapter 13). Thusly, out her fingers in a matter of months flies the Twilight universe with its super moral and yet still bloodsucking vampire boy entwining himself (sometimes literally) with a typical (if not completely mundane) human girl.

This is what solid gold fiction looks like off camera

That time when her dream became a book that became a movie with actors being awkward in a meadow.

She wrote the story as a gift for her sister, who loved it and encouraged Stephanie to send it to publishers. She shopped it around a little bit (15 inquires is a little, seriously, like so very little) and boom bang shamalamadingdong it’s a worldwide bestselling mega-franchise.

Now, I do not want to diminish the work and effort Ms. Meyer did on honing and crafting and editing her books, I just want to share a story that is completely and entirely different from, and does not even reside on the same planet, as my own.

My characters did not come to me from the ether.  And, most of the time they are quite slippery to hold onto  (another way of saying ‘sometimes I have no effing idea what or who I’m writing‘). They are made out of my brain working very hard to craft people worth reading, people worth loving.

So, here’s how I got to my cast of characters:

1.  I spent the lion’s share of the last decade hanging out with real life teenagers pretty regularly. It was not with the expressed purpose of turning them into fiction, it just so happens that I genuinely enjoy almost-adult humans and find their entire selves the most interesting of any other kind of human. I could (and probably will) write more about why teens are the best.

2.  I remembered and rehashed my high school experience with friends (sorry for that guys – you know far too much about 16 year old Erin, but luckily I know a lot more about 16 year old Erin too, and will endeavor to only be the most whole parts of her)

3.  I decided to figure out the type of character I was writing before figuring out what type of story I was writing. (i.e. there is still very little plot in the novel, its more of a setting up the pins and watching them fall kinda situation)

4.  Along the to-plot-or-not-to-plot lines, I wanted a character that was highly relatable and lovable, also flawed, more than I wanted a scenario full of danger & intrigue (those things are not mutually exclusive btw). So, I made a list of qualities, quirks and internal dilemmas of real teen people I know, narrowed the list to my favorites, and then started writing scenes that let me work some of that out. For instance: My girl character loves order, and uses it to cope with chaos, so I wrote a scene where she is doodling a zig-zag pattern around the edge of her beloved mint green day planner on the first day at a new school.

5a.  I wrote out some autobiographical stories in the voice of my main character that seemed very teen – first kisses, best kisses, obsessive crushes, feeling lonely in large crowds, driving a car when I still had to think about what I was doing … you know, the usual.

5b. I deleted a lot of that, but the parts that remain are my very favorite parts.

6. I wrote a secondary voice and main character for months that I ended up deleting because I was having a hard time empathizing with her and I found her story ultimately un-interesting, or less-interesting – she also happened to be 30+ years old (see #1). Delete Delete Delete

At the end of the day I wanted to create a honest and realistic teenager. I am finding it NOT simple.  It is easy to be cliche or to just write myself – which ends up reading 32 not 16.  At the very least I am doing some pretty solid post-processing 16 years in the making, and that’s good.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald-

Below are two photos of me at 16/17 years old for your enjoyment. You can find Part One: My Tale of Getting Started here.

in a boyfriend's letterman jacket - yeah, I was that girl

in a boyfriend’s letterman jacket  – yeah, that was a thing that happened – as you can see I feel weird about it too **

A little happy and a little uncertain and a little 90's hair-fabulous. That about sums it up.

A little happy and a little uncertain and a little 90’s hair-fabulous. That about sums it up.

** not a reflection on said ex-boyfriend, just that I had lettered in 2 (maybe 3) different sports while in HS and should’ve been wearing my own jacket.

Currently Crushing // Erin’s Swaxy September

Here at 230somethings our favorite thing is favoritism. We’ve all got it, we just gotta own it. I have a favorite day of the week (wednesday, always and forever), some favorite people (husband, besties, the vlogbrothers), more than a few favorite foods, a couple favorite bands (john mayer, U2, jason mraz), at least two favorite colors (mustard, cobalt blue) … we (humans) love preference. So, in the name of picking favorites here are mine this month (check out JR’s here):

BOOK

Eleanor & Park by: Rainbow Rowell

this book gave me all the feels

Like so much in my life recently, what I want to say has already been said by epic YA novelist and internet guru John Green. He says, “If you read a lot, you can get jaded. You can forget how a reader has to be generous to a book as much as a book has to be generous to its reader. You feel like maybe everything worth doing has been done, and nothing will ever blow you away ever again. And then you read a book like Eleanor and Park, and you are shocked out of your complacency and grateful to be alive.”

So, yeah, that. Read it. No really, go right now to Amazon and purchase this book. (ProTip: Rainbow  released another novel called FANGIRL this past week – it is getting great reviews and is already on my shelf waiting to be read immediately following the JG book I’m reading now)

FOODthing

Pop it. Lock it. Make it a double.
Pop it. Lock it. Make it a double.

I cannot stop drinking espresso, over ice, in my own kitchen. It’s called Nespresso and I am in love with a machine … hold a sec, I’ll be right back … ok, I had to make one and its frothy aroma is captivating. Delicious.

INTERNET THINGAMAJIG

SPOTIFY

spotify-logo

It’s like a love letter to music and those who listen to lots of it. It is a paid service if you want it on your phone or without ads. I’ve been subscribed for almost six months and I’ll never go back. I don’t buy music any more, but am still suporting the artists who make the musak I love. I am a little obsessed. Click here to hear my favorite recent playlist (spoiler: it is a working playlist of my main male character currently named Bryan)

ON MY FACE

Outlast Lipstain in Wild Berry Wink

it’s a winking berry, a beautiful berry who’s winking at you. what the what does that mean?

Photo on 9-11-13 at 4.55 PM

you know what’s awk? taking a selfie in red lipstick, that’s what.

It works like a marker and doesn’t bleed into my newly acquired lip lines (thanks aging, you’re a gem). While my mister doesn’t like red lips, I think they are super swaxy and make a normal greasy mommy day feel fancy. The mauve one is also worth the $$

MUSIC

Watsky. Watsky. Watsky.

If you are an internet human, particularly a YouTube internet human, you already know Watsky. But, for everyone else he is pretty unknown. George Watsky, to his mother, is a spoken word poet-slash-rapper kid from the Bay and is on every one of my current mixes from workout to contemplative. If talent had a name it would be Watsky.

Also, Imagine Dragons.

SCREEN TIME

I am tempted to say Friday Night Lights (because I always say FNL), but instead I will recommend Teen Wolf for highest honors (you weren’t expecting something highbrow were you? for shame).

You may be aware that the Netflix homepage gives categorical suggestions. After scrolling through “Talking Animal Cartoons” and “Movies based on Children’s Books” and “Because you watching Dragon Tales” I get to two consecutive categories just for me: “Teen Drama” and “Shows about Teens”. It is a subtle but important difference (no, really, it isn’t though).

my heart beats only for teen wolf gifs

Since the passing of The O.C. I’ve been waiting for a replacement. Gossip Girl: same writers, NYC-Love, couldn’t hold a candle. Hart of Dixie: the same writers, great feel, but wrong again. Then I stumbled upon Teen Wolf, an MTV creation about boys who are wolves, and BAM! there it was:  a well written, self-aware, teen drama with lore and, total bonus, a Seth Cohen redux in the character of Stiles.

his vicious rhetoric too

So, there it is: My Swaxy September list. That was fun, right? Let’s do it again next month with Obsession October, wherein I will geek-out about all things YouTube and quote the Vlogbrother’s some more.

Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we are quoting

– John Green

How to write a novel // Part 1: My Tale of Getting Started

By: Erin

moleskine

at starbucks taking selfies of my writing process today

There are so many excellent blogs and articles and books on this topic. As someone who has not finished even one manuscript I cannot tote myself an expert – not even a little bit. But, I assume if you are reading this you are curious about the novel writing process, or maybe just mine. So, here goes…

How I got started…

When I was six my first grade teacher asked our class what we wanted to be when we grew up. A lot of boys said Firefighters or Policemen or Pilots (not the lawyers or store managers or electrical engineers they would become) and a lot of the girls said Nurses, Mommies, and also, Firefighters (maybe the girls were a little more reality-based than they boys, but that’s a blog for another time).

I said “I want to be an Author when I grow up.”

You should know that in 1st grade my favorite foods were camembert cheese and abalone. So yeah, I was a weird kid.

Once I learned to read I loved stories about fairies, fantasy and magic. Teachers were instructed to turn me away from windows, particularly windows with trees, because I would spend class time making up stories in my head about all the little people who skipped between branches and stole kisses behind green leaves, instead of listening to directions on how to fill out grammar worksheets.  I can think of much worse ways to spend one’s easily distracted childhood. For nothing came as close to touching the magic in stories as the making of the stories themselves.  Though, in retrospect I could have used the grammar lessons.

I spent years trying to reign in the ole’ imagination so I could, you know, learn how to do the simple math my phone now does for me. But, all joking aside, somewhere along the line I forgot that I wanted to write. Going through years of higher education with too much required reading and even more required writing distracted me. I learned a trade. I became an intellectual expert in sitting down with people who are suffering, called myself a therapist. I would get good at it, I would work, and then, maybe, with enough street-cred, I would retire as a writer. Become a memoirist, or something.

Along the way, I also forgot how much I loved to read. I was that kid that would come home from school, sit down with a book in the den, and read until mom had to come by and turn on a light. Sometimes I would skip dinner.   I don’t know when I stopped doing this.  I figured I had a hard time reading as much as I used to because I harbored a secret fear that I would love the world of my books more than my real life. Either that or it was because my real life was pretty damn busy and I had no time for reading like a child. Whatever it was, I had forgotten something intrinsically me.

Then, exactly a year ago our little family went to Hawaii for a month. (I know. I know. Hawaii. For. A. Month!!! It’s crazy and you can be jealous. Hell, I am jealous of 2012 Erin right now. I could tell you that leading up to the trip we had a total sh*t year and we deserved it, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. We did have a horribly stressful year, but no one deserves luxury. We are lucky and blessed and insanely grateful. That’s it.).  I made a single goal for the trip: to read 10 books.

2 of the books I read were written by friends of mine (both worth a read, by the way).   It was in their reading that I realized something terrible about myself over the last decade. I was a pissed-off cranky reader.  I had stopped being generous, I had stopped enjoying the process.  It was because my friends were so like me that I was sent into a tailspin of insane jealousy. Like, so out-of-mind covetous. And it wasn’t just Megan and Anne, it was every author I ever read. I was, so effing sick with envy that I had suppressed my childhood insatiable desire for books. It wasn’t that I had been busy. It wasn’t the fear of real life being less real that fictional life. It wasn’t even the pages upon pages of research paper writing. It was pure raging, green as jade, gouge out my eyeballs, jealousy.

While reading a entirely different YA fiction and after the hundredth audible groan/sigh/growl by me, Mr. Man said, “Erin, what is your problem?” only kinder (he is always kinder than I report).

I responded, “I think I need to write a book.”

To which, he said, “Ok. Then why don’t you do it already.”

So, I started writing my thoughts in a moleskine journal. They were all over the place.  I knew I wanted to write about a teenager. I knew I didn’t want to write a dystopian novel (though i heart them muchos). And, that was about it.

I wrote at night and kept a google-doc open on multiple devices around the house, adding sentences here and there. In February I started writing one full day a week, thanks to my sister watching my kiddos. I made headway. I picked up more books to read. I feel back in love with reading.

And, frankly, if I never finish this novel, if it never makes its way into a stranger’s hands, if it just sits in my computer title-less, I will still be grateful. Because, I am trying, and I am writing, and it feels like breathing.

I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them

.Anne Rice

Stay tuned for How to Write a Novel // Part 2: My Tale of Finding a Character Worth Loving

How We Eat

A lot has been said on how to eat to lose weight (even though we prefer to measure in inches). There are plenty of shows and books and articles about it.  So, we don’t want to tote ourselves as experts in the science of weight loss. We are just two moms who care deeply about being healthy for our kids, our husbands, but mostly for ourselves, and who want to share our journey with all y’all. So, how do we eat? One answer: we eat often. Like 5 times a day to be exact.  Seriously, we don’t go hungry. Secondly: we eat smart & sustainably.

Here’s the Smart part:

[we’re going to write our thoughts on this, but if you want something a little more… official and probably better written click here]

Okay friends, the first thing we had to do is get conscious about what we were putting in our bodies. We are convinced that our bodies are machines.  And, like all machines we require specific fuels in order to run right, and loading up on lesser fuels will cause internal corrosion, decreased performance and eventually death (gasp). So, we researched and talked and researched and tested and researched some more, and what we found was: Paleo.  The Paleo lifestyle has gotten a lot of press. And while Paleolithic man went the way of dinosaur their digestive inheritance is ours.  Here’s the thing: today we aren’t running around with a bow and arrow hunting bison or rejoicing over that awesome blueberry bush we bumped into on the way to the water hole, BUT we do have choices when we head down the grocery aisle. In short Paleo is eating things with faces & things you could find ready-to-eat from the earth. There are a fair amount of no-no’s but far more YES’s.

YES’s: Below is a ‘primal food pyramid’ found on paleo-project

You may have noticed that there is no dairy, no grains, no alcohol, no caffeine and no sugars, so you may be thinking NO FUN! That is why we eat sustainably and Paleoish!

Eating Sustainably:

The hardest part of weightloss is “keeping it off”. Shrinking is simple, staying fit is the challenge (so we hear). Therefore, we wanted to do something we could keep doing… forever. Now, you may be saying “what the ef? these girls aren’t going to eat another cookie or drink another ‘real’ latte for the rest of their lives?!? that sounds crazy-nuts.”  And you would be right, that would be crazy-nuts. That’s why we eat like the modern evolved cavewomen we are.

Here is a list of our allowable paleo deviant foods and bevies.

1. Coffee and Espresso.  An addiction worth having.  We just don’t dress it up with milk and sugar.  Try almond milk.  Or a splash of cream if you must.

2. Peanuts and Peanut Butter.  This is America.  Give me Peanut Butter or Give me Death.

3. Wine wine wine. why? because it’s delicious and good for you in moderation.

4. Legumes, you know, beans. (technically not paleo – we just don’t get it. toxins shmoxins)

5. Whiskey and Vodka.  Put on your big girl pants and drink it neat or with soda water.  No sugary mixers.

6. Little bits of dairy.  Organic greek yogurt, grassfed butter, ghee, & some cheese (i.e. goat cheese on a salad).

7. Protein Powder.  We stick to paleo friendly or gluten free varieties.  Perfect in smoothies and as a waffle base.

8.  Rice.  It’s gluten free.  We keep consumption very infrequent but having just a little in your Panang Curry is a delight.

9.  Dark Chocolate.  No explanation needed.

10.  Salad Dressing.  We enjoy all types in moderation.  These can really pack a calorie punch so stir clear of slathering your lettuce in ranch.

Celebratory Foods for Celebratory Events

Eat Thanksgiving Dinner with your family.  Have some of your kids cake on their Birthday.

Date Night is Sacred

If you are going to cheat.  Cheat with your husband.  If you want really want tortilla chips with your salsa this is the time to do it.  if you are dying for that chesse plate go for it.  But only on date night and don’t go crazy.

Remember, sustainability means flexibility. We are open to adjusting the way we eat and learning more about how to best fuel our bodies. With two babies at home we have no choice but to keep as healthy and energized as possible for as long as possible. But, being a parent also means being willing to change and flex with situations as they arise. Like sometimes a friend is going to have a bad day and the only remedy is gonna be a gooey chocolate chip cookie – and that’s okay.

Constant Vigilance.

E & J

how i (erin) workout – an exercise in embarassment

My daughter Emmie and I get serious about working out with the girls from Tone It Up. There were some laughs.

Watching myself exercise is mortifying to say the least. Hopefully my little bit of courage gives you the oomph you need to get from your couch to the floor. it’s never been more awkward or awesome time to get fit.