The Go Mighty team has been building a community of people who make things happen. Come be part of it.
I’m teaching a one-week Life List Workshop through Skillshare, starting April 8. It’s online, it’s only $20, and you should do it.
As part of the class, the Go Mighty team is choosing one participant (or group of participants, if you feel like doing a team project) to receive a $1,000 grant toward turning a dream into an action.
If you’ve been wanting to make a Life List, or meaning to choose a few goals to tackle, or thinking about supporting others who are working on their lists, you could do that later. But later is dumb. Instead, let’s do it right now:
See you there, doers. I will bring pizza.
Our Mighty Happy Giveaway Contest generated so many awesome and uplifting responses, it seemed unfair to highlight only the winners. Here, then, are 180 happy things, suggested by you guys. They made me happy, too.
1. The sound of my children making each other laugh. (Sabrina)
2. Being the first person to wake up on a weekend and sitting on the couch reading, waiting for the day to start. (Catherine)
3. Long conversations with my sister. (Jasmine)
4. Photo booths. (Shannon)
5. When someone likes something I’m wearing. (Kristin)
6. Discovering a beautiful thing in an unexpected place in an unexpected moment. (Amy)
7. Seeing old friends and realizing only after the rush of catching up that it’s like no time has passed and I love them just as much as ever. (Amy)
8. The moments when I realize there’s nowhere I’d rather be than where I am right then. (Samantha)
9. Hugs from a wet-from-the-pool four-year-old. (Cass)
10. Tears — sometimes the other side of them bring the best kind of happy (Cass)
11. The sparkle in my son’s eye when he’s telling a funny story. (Corri)
12. Sitting by a lake under the stars. (Meg)
13. The smell and feel of old books as I’m browsing my local book store. (Kami)
14. The feeling you get when in the ocean, just bouncing along with gentle waves. (Joanne)
15. The movie theater in town that plays independent films and serves beer. (Elizabeth)
16. Coming home from a trip. (Jana)
17. Jumping with the children on the trampoline we’ve got in the garden. (Mette)
18. The smell of the earth when it first starts to rain. (Amanda)
19. Feeding my friends food that I’ve cooked. (Vivian)
20. Being a traveler totally anonymous in a foreign country. (Morgan)
21. The feel of very old, somewhat transparent vintage t-shirts. (Abby)
22. Kneading bread dough. (Heather)
23. Music playing in the background. (Allisone)
24. Being barefoot in the kitchen, sipping wine, and cooking dinner. (Ginny)
25. Getting into a made bed at night. (Samantha)
26. Completing challenging tasks. That makes me feel bullet-proof! (Samantha)
27. Eating the first cookie, slice of bread, etc. that I pull out of the oven. (Hanna)
28. Songs that tell a story. (Karen)
29. In the moment when you realize an inside joke has been created. (Ginny)
30. Watching an Oklahoma sunset. (Penny)
31. When my husband and I suddenly catch each other’s eyes – amidst laundry, tired children, mess and long lists of to dos – smile, and kiss. (Mette)
32. When I come across something in my late father’s handwriting. (Tami)
33. Sharing dessert. (Tami)
34. Seeing my husband’s face light up just as much as the baby’s when they see each other. (Nestra)
35. That my daughter has to give the dog a kiss goodnight and the dog sleeps in front of her door. (Alicia)
36. When my husband gets into bed way later than me and inadvertently wakes me up by cuddling. (Hope)
37. The questions my five-year-old asks friendly strangers on the train. (Finding Magnolia)
38. Passport, travel documents, and a neatly packed bag – ready to head out the door. (Amy)
39. Falling asleep outdoors with the sun on my face. (Kate)
40. A slightly cool breeze coming off the river that hints at fall ahead. (Pseudostoops)
41. Seeing how confident and brave my 14-year-old daughter is. (Rochelle)
42. When I get to spend a whole day with my mum. (Angy)
43. Sitting on the front steps of my house in Capitol Hill, reading a book, drinking a glass of wine, and watching the neighborhood go by. (Rachel)
44. Watching my daughter carry around a Patty O’Green doll from the 1980s like it’s the hottest toy ever. (Marti)
45. Being able to spend an entire day reading favorite books. (Cynthia)
46. Those conversations with strangers in which the walls seem to fall away. (Morgan)
47. Seeing my husband read to my girls. (Famous Amy)
48. New paints, clean brushes, and an empty canvas. (Emily)
49. Deep roasted black coffee. (MDJ)
50. Remembering to buy myself flowers. (Sarah)
51. Strawberry season. (Erin)
52. Meandering conversations with my thirteen-year-old son. (Lisa)
53. Nighttime play dates — kids in the yard, adults on the deck. (Amy Beth)
54. Listening to my husband play the guitar. (Violeta)
55. Hugging my son when I pick him up from school. (Melissa)
56. Listening to music outdoors. (Katie)
57. A long chat with an old friend. (Erin)
58. Sitting on my 11-year-old daughter’s bed, next to her, as she chatters on about her most important things. (Linny)
59. Sitting at long table filled with great food and fantastic friends, and you suddenly realize just how lucky you are. (Patsy)
60. When my boyfriend anchors my feet with his feet, wraps his arms tight around me, and kisses the top of my head, with my face buried in his chest. (Janelle)
61. Coming downstairs in the morning to a clean house. (Dutch)
62. Deer trimming my blackberries for me, so I won’t have to. (Guinevere)
63. Hymns of my childhood. (Guinevere)
64. Being in the middle of really good book and being excited about how much there still is to go. (Candice)
65. The moments when I realize there’s nowhere I’d rather be than where I am right then. (Samantha)
66. The amazing woman in my life who catch me when I fall. (Rhiannon)
67. Buying my new planner in January and filling it in with birthdays and special events for the year ahead. (CP)
68. Homemade waffles on a Saturday morning at 11 am. (Christine)
69. Lifting someone up. Whether from complimenting them on their awesomeness or empowering them to try something new. (Kristen)
70. An email from the public library, telling me my requested books have arrived and are ready for me to pick up. (Nicole)
71. Fresh-cut zinnias from my garden. (Sassafrass Mama)
72. Being in Yosemite and seeing the valley from Tunnel View, which reminds me just how small my life is in comparison to the world, and gives me instant perspective. (Stephanie)
73. Riding my Vespa. (Cindy)
74. The laughter of women in a group. (Katie)
75. My son getting off the plane when he comes home from university. (Also his younger brother’s happy face when he sees his older brother). (Cass)
76. The rush of adrenaline at that moment on a run when a good song comes on my iPod. (Kate)
77. Finally having a job I love. (Lydia)
78. Sitting around with family after dinner on the deck outside, talking and laughing, with no one wanting to pack up and go home. (Leah)
79. Watching mass group hugs, like when a team wins the World Series. (Alyssa)
80. A day that is 78, calm and sunny. (Nicole)
81. Hearing the people I love laugh. (Karen)
82. Kids hugging babies. (Flora)
83. Fresh tomatoes from the garden. (Hilary)
84. A day alone in a new city with my camera. (Amy)
85. Planning a trip somewhere I’ve never been. (Erin)
86. Those moments in life, occasionally, where everything just seems right and crystallizes into a memory right as you watch. (Becky)
87. Riding my bike down the tree-lined streets of my neighborhood, seeing how long I can balance at stoplights. (M)
88. Spontaneous dance parties with my (brand! new!) husband. (M)
89. Swimming in my lake. (Heather)
90. The way my boyfriend and I can look at each other and know the other is thinking “ice cream.” (Kristen)
91. Arriving in a new place at the start of a long vacation. (Aimee)
92. Too much wine at dinner with new friends. (Rachel)
93. Blueberry season. (Rachel)
94. Looking at pictures of my best friend’s new baby. (Andi)
95. When one of my children says something unexpected and unintentionally hilarious. (Nicole)
96. My husband and I communicating something to one another that no one else gets. (Jodes)
97. Dandelions. (Amanda)
98. The constant sound of simultaneous awe, love and contentment in my sister’s voice since the birth of my niece. (Annette)
99. Walking in the woods with a light breeze. (Leah)
100. Dream decorating my new apartment. (Laura)
101. The first green points peeking through the dirt in spring, and the first turning leaves in the fall. (Casey)
102. A table-full of friends bursting into laughter. (Desiree)
103. Swimming in a pond with my dog. (Ariel)
104. Clean surfaces. (Kim)
105. The way my four-year-old son’s hair smells after his bath. (Becky)
106. My husband’s accent. (Becky)
107. How music can make me cry and laugh and feel so deeply. (Becky)
108. Cuddling in any form. (Mandy)
109. Embarking on a new project. (Andrea)
110. Riding on a scooter around New Orleans with my husband. (MacKensie)
111. My little cousins and the letters they write me. (Rachael)
112. Tomatoes and avocados on sourdough bread. (Rachael)
113. The way my dogs are freak-out-happy to see me when I get home from work. (Nancy)
114. When my daughter tells me her brother is her best friend. (Beks)
115. Eating apricots straight from the tree. (Laura)
116. Reading under a shady tree. (Danielle)
117. Hiking near wildflowers. (Tiff)
118. The Internet that connects me to the wider world. (Crystal)
119. A good sweaty run. (Marissa)
120. A semi-toothless grin. (Sarah)
121. Men with crinkle-eyes when they smile. (Stephanie)
122. Suntan lines on my feet. (Jodi)
123. Remembering to look up: trees, sunset, stars, sky … (Meghan)
124. Crossing things off. (Michelle)
125. My little nephew calling to say hello. (Michelle)
126. Long walks through the woods in the fall. (Sue)
127. Pushing myself past what I think are my limits. (Rachel)
128. A healthy, delicious dinner made at home. (Heather)
129. When someone else makes coffee in the morning. (Michelle)
130. Crawling into a freshly made bed. (Erin)
131. When my three-year-old calls my six-month-old honey and sweetie. (Hope)
132. Spending a day in the kitchen cooking with all the windows open. (Sarah)
133. The third lap in the pool. (Mai)
134. Biking in the sun. (Mai)
135. Biting into a ripe homegrown tomato. (Trish)
136. Holding hands and seeing others doing the same. (Kristen)
137. When you get home right before the rain starts. (Wan)
138. The rush of endorphins toward the end of kickboxing class. (Nicole)
139. The smell of the tent when we unfold it. (Shelly)
140. Using the china that was given to me on my wedding day by my mother, which was her mother’s, which was her mother’s. (Megan)
141. Opening the windows when it starts raining. (Megan)
142. Listening to my 88-year-old grandmother telling me how my grandfather proposed. (Heather)
143. A shiny-clean kitchen floor. (Louise)
144. An unexpected surprise — and planning an unexpected surprise. (Louise)
145. Climbing into a bed made up with fresh sheets and lots of pillows at the end of the day. (Lisa)
146. Fireflies. (Maileen)
147. Honey-mint iced tea. (Sonya)
148. The moments leading up to a kiss. (Ats)
149. Smiles, knowing looks, and general understanding with strangers whom you may or may not speak to and may or may not see again. (SWAK)
150. Eating healthier and feeling better as a result. (Sarah)
151. Belly laughs. (Rhonda)
152. When my son wears his superhero cape to the grocery store. (Sarah
153. That first real exhale after sex. (Maya)
154. Making my mother proud. (Ingrid)
155. The Sunday paper. (Carla)
156. Living in NYC. (Lauren)
157. Little kids when they’re learning to talk. (Danielle)
158. When I come across something in my late father’s handwriting. (Tami)
159. The way I feel after exercise. (April)
160. That my daughter has to give the dog a kiss goodnight and the dog sleeps in front of her door. (Alicia)
161. Fresh lemonade. (Claire)
162. When friends from different circles of my life become friends with each other. (Annabanana)
163. When light turns golden at the end of the day. (Gabi)
164. Rainbow sprinkles. (Heather)
165. Using treasured postcards as bookmarks. (Christy)
166. Being good at what I do. (Hita)
167. My kids when they first get out of bed, all sleepy and snugly with wild hair. (mk)
168. Old things: Buildings, books, people … (April)
169. Taking off my bra at the end of a long day. (C)
170. Receiving handwritten letters from my grandfather. (Jan)
171. Wearing my (long distance) boyfriend’s clothes. (Elise)
172. My kid singing her heart out (to a thirty-year-old song.) (Marla)
173. Looking forward to date night. (Alison)
174. Bright colors. (Meredith)
175. Tropical scented anything. (Victoria)
176. Laughing by a campfire with friends and family (Genevieve)
177. Forehead kisses. (Kristin)
178. Being in an airport. (Megan)
179. Watching the sun set through trees from a hammock. (Lauren)
180. When I make a little list of the things I am grateful for. (Heather)
The last few weeks have been concentrated, so packed that I haven’t had much room to relax. I was rushing somewhere in my car with my shoulders pulled to my ears, when my thoughts turned to the usual questions, “What do I want? What do I need to do?” It made me think about everything I didn’t have time for, everything that’s out of reach.
Then I remembered the article I read last week — go read it if you didn’t see my post. It suggested replacing “What do I want?” with a more concrete question, “Do I have enough?”
So I asked myself, “Do I have enough?” just as I was cresting a huge hill on Dolores Street. It’s a wide avenue with a lush median strip, lined with palm trees to the horizon.
The light was just sinking below the hills, I was on my way to a fun weekend with some favorite people, in my car with a full tank of gas. It was so gorgeous, and there was so much good stuff to anticipate, I started to laugh. My brain stumbled from one good thing to the next — my healthy kid, the city I love, the girls I work with, my lovely friends, my apartment with a full fridge. I laughed and laughed at my own dumb luck.
So that’s what this mix is about. Do I have enough? Yeah.
I hope this music makes you feel that way too.
Little Red Wagon, Audra Mae and The Almighty Sound
Nobody Knows Me at All, The Weepies
What I Like About You, The Romantics
Hate Me Soon, Yellow Ostrich
My Love, the bird and the bee
I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous, Frank Turner
D-D-Dance, The Royal Concept
Throw Your Arms Around Me, Summer Fiction
Glorious Dawn (feat Stephen Hawking), Carl Sagan, Symphony of Science
Submarines, The Lumineers
Invincible, OK Go
Crank That, Soulja Boy Tell’em
Vegas Girl, Conor Maynard
Summer Home, Typhoon
Super Disco Breakin’, Beastie Boys
Eyeoneye, Andrew Bird
I’m Good, I’m Gone, Lykke Li
The Clapping Song, Shirley Ellis
Hot Knife, Fiona Apple
Take it Off, The Donnas
Black and Gold, K. Gates
Manchester, Kishi Bashi
That’s Not My Name, The Ting Tings
We Run This, Missy Elliott
What have you been listening to lately? Let us know in comments, I’m compiling a playlist of your recs.
So while I was at ALT Summit, I did a panel on the business of blogging with Erin Loechner from Design for Mankind and Liz Gumbinner from Cool Mom Picks and Mom101. I always enjoy presenting, but something about the chemistry with those two girls made this conversation extra engaging for me.
I finally remembered to ask someone to record my presentation, but neglected to bring her a tripod. (Thanks for your forbearance, Kelly.) Here’s a slightly shaky video of my portion of the presentation:
I know a lot of you are bloggers trying to bring in a little income, so here are the main points of our entire presentation — each of us took on four tips.
Beyond the Banner:
A 12-Step Program for Successful Content Campaigns
Erin Loechner from Design for Mankind:
1. Re-invent the wheel.
Creative campaigns are fun and memorable. Consider Jason, who’s renting out his torso at I Wear Your Shirt. What do you have to offer that’s a little offbeat?
2. Test the waters first.
Before you jump into a huge commitment with a single advertiser, put a toe in the water. This way you’ll know more about how your readers will respond, learn how to price yourself through trial and error, and figure out which campaigns make you want to take a nap, and which are fun.
3. Know your professional strengths.
If you’re crappy at project management or staying on top of communications with clients, hire someone to do that for you while you produce content.
4. Less is more.
Erin likes to keep a ratio of 95 percent content to 5 percent sponsored posts. You’ll find your own ratio, but be mindful that you’re giving your readers something of value while you’re paying the rent.
Liz Gumbinner from Cool Mom Picks and Mom101:
5. It’s not all about you.
Think about the sponsor, what are their wants and needs? Let that shape the program you propose.
6. Measure your digital footprint.
Remember that your blog probably isn’t your only online presence. You may have readers on Twitter, Facebook, or even a newsletter. Think of the whole package.
7. Know thyself.
If your gut tells you that an advertiser doesn’t seem like the right fit, say no. Your readers know you, and they’ll obviously be able to tell if you’re promoting something and your heart isn’t in it.
No one likes to feel misled. Let your audience know who’s paying you and for what.
And me, Maggie Mason from Mighty Girl:
9. Consider events.
Throw a party for a local boutique, host an event in conjunction with a larger conference, or start a little retreat and build from there. If you enjoy throwing events, they can be a good way to build a tighter community while you grow your business.
10. Remember advertisers are people.
People who want to give you money are not your enemies, so keep the conversation going. If you start to feel adversarial about a proposed campaign, suggest other ways to work with a brand that might be more interesting to you and your readers. Even the largest brand has a team of people behind it, people with faces and families, who care about their product succeeding.
11. Pitch to your passions.
Seek out advertisers to support the content you’re already producing by being smart about how you package it. Can you tell people what your site is about in a single sentence? Is there a memorable narrative in your life story – maybe you’re building a house, starting your life over, becoming a new parent? Focus on that when you approach potential sponsors.
12. Know your worth.
Don’t just look at your daily unique visitors when you’re pricing a campaign. Consider your ability to amplify on Twitter, Facebook, via newsletter. Think about engagement — if you have a small audience of readers who are passionate about a particular subject and will leave lots of comments, that’s valuable to an advertiser. And don’t forget to take your time into account. Your work is probably worth more than you think.
That’s it! Are you trying to figure out how to make your living as a blogger? What did we forget?
I try to travel without checking luggage, and Packing Light is a series about what I pack to get that done.
I haven’t done a lot of winter suitcases, so I thought I’d do a post about what I packed to speak at ALT Summit. The jeans are from The Limited, and I need to imagine a gospel choir singing and Jesus rays breaking through the clouds as I type this next part: They were the first pair I tried on. I’m a size 8 to 10 in jeans, and the ones at The Limited have a perfect waist to bum ratio for my figure, so the waistline doesn’t gap. The boots are my magic Buenos Aires boots from the trip we took when Hank was a baby.
The undershirt is an acid yellow top I got at Old Navy in a frenzied stock up on layering pieces when they had the $5 sale before Christmas. I like to buy unusual colors so I can combine them with neutrals and have it look all artsy, which is what I’m going for with this grey Dolman sleeve sweater, also from a sale at The Limited (twenty bucks, baby!).
Laura took this lovely photo of me in my outfit for the “Old Hollywood” party. I took that to mean retro-Oscars, but most other ladies wore chic little cocktail dresses, which means I was grievously overdressed. Upside, I arrived after dinner and drinks, so I was mostly too illuminated to care much.
This is a cheap feather hair clip I often use to spruce up dress straps. It can add va-voom to the most mundane spaghetti strap number.
Update: I got the clip at a cheesy costume shop on the Haight, the one with all the wigs and spandex zebra print outfits. I looked for a similar one online but couldn’t find it. If you do, let me know and I’ll post a link in a later post. Also, this can get crushed in a suitcase, so I pack it in a hard-sided cardboard box that’s maybe three inches high.
My hair is getting too long for ponytails, it just tends to look scraggly, so this is my version of the quick updo. I twist back the front sections, then do a loose chignon in the back.
The shoes are a hand-me-down from my sister. I like the surprise lattice work in back.
I got the shirt and belt on sale at JCrew and I wear them both constantly. The cashmere sweater is a vintage Pringle from the Alameda Flea Market (twenty bucks!). The brooch is by Elefante, e a Vida, and I adore it. Miriam’s work is my go-to gift for beloved girlfriends, all of whom I’m pinning one by one.
I got this fake fur jacket years ago at a thrift store in Sacramento. It brings back amazing memories of having breakfast at a sidewalk cafe on sunny winter mornings. My roomie at the time had a giant giraffe-print coat, and we’d wrap up so we could sit outside without waiting for a table. I swear I can smell mint tea every time I put it on, and it’s crazy warm.
Update: I wore the jacket and boots on the plane, so I didn’t have to fit those in the suitcase. Next time I’ll remember to include a shot of the case packed. I also roll my clothing to save space, though the long dress I just folded over and stored in a top panel of the case.
Leggings by H&M, as is the zip-front sweater.
These leg warmers are also H&M, and they are divine. They make it more feasible to wear leggings as pants, and you can really wear them with anything when you want to throw in a little trendy kick.
(Someone asked in comments what I’m wearing on my lips in this photo. I think it’s just Burt’s Bees peppermint chapstick.)
And finally, you must own one of these American Apparel circle scarves. I never take mine off, and there’s so many ways to wear it, I give a full-on infomercial to anyone who will listen. Sorry about that, Karen and Erin. But you love the scarf don’t you? I thought so.
Bon Appétit just published an interview with me on their site, A Mighty Girl’s Quest to Taste 1,000 Kinds of Fruit. Isn’t that cool? I think so too. Go have a look.
Today is the last day of Intel’s Sponsors of Tomorrow Campaign on Mighty Girl. I can hardly express how grateful I am to the Intel team, and how blessed I am to have all of you guys supporting me.
A quick recap of everything Intel has made possible in the last few months. Together, we:
Because the campaign let me make my life list a top priority, I even tackled a bunch of goals on my own. We took Hank camping, played with sparklers on the Fourth of July, and introduced him to ice cream cones. I did one of Miranda July’s projects. And I even got a few friends together to help me plan a retreat.
How Did this Happen?
A lot of you have asked me how I got Intel to sponsor my Mighty Life List, and the answer is I didn’t. These guys did.
That’s Paige Thomas, Jason Ratner, and David Veneski. Paige and Jason work for Federated Media — the company that helped make blogging my job. David works for Intel, the company that made my dreams my job.
I talk to Paige nearly every day, and about a year ago I asked her to tell the sales team about my list. Ideas like this can easily come across as “some blogger wants free stuff,” but Jason understood. He told David, and showed me some of the ads around Sponsors of Tomorrow. I thought the main ideas were in line with my values: Celebrating smart people, and embracing the future.
David eventually agreed to have Intel sponsor my life list, which was bold of him, I think. Intel is a huge company with a lot at stake, and most companies of that size want full approval over any text that goes out. That clearly would never work for Mighty Girl, so David decided to trust me, which must have been scary at first.
When we first started the campaign, Matt Jessell at FM sent me this Brady Bunch collage to pin on my board:
It cracked me up when I first got it, and it still does, but now it makes me a little sentimental too. This is the team behind the Sponsors of Tomorrow campaign — most of them have made their own life lists, some have become Twitter friends, and all of them played a part in changing the way I approach my life. I owe them my gratitude.
What Happens Next?
Y’all, I am going to sleep. I had no idea how much I was biting off, or how much emotion I’d feel through all of it.
It may sound cheesy, but these few months have been transformative, and change takes a lot of energy. Doing all this has helped me clarify what makes me happy, and reminded me to be more gentle with myself. I understand now that a list like this requires flexibility, and writing about all of it has shown me that I can be comically rigid. It honestly came as an epiphany that I could change my own list — add new things, delete the things that just didn’t seem appealing when I actually started tackling them.
I’ve also learned so much about all of you. That you want to travel, be role models, buy homes, start businesses. I love reading your lists, and I’m still thinking about a better way for us to work on them together.
While I sleep for a year or so, Paige will be building a succulent wall; Jason is figuring out how to found bed and breakfasts for snowboarders, cyclists and vinophiles; and David wants to write a book. I’ll let you know how they do.
In the meantime, thank you, everyone. For all of it.