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Hope to see you there!
Allegra

The Food Snob

Mousse decorated with peaches, whipped cream, ...

Image via Wikipedia

  • Beer.
  • Tea.
  • Soup.
  • Molten chocolate cake.
  • Lobster.
  • Fish.
  • Crab.
  • Tiramisu.
  • Mousse.
  • Home-made mac and cheese.
  • Clam chowder.
  • Chile rellenos.
  • Pancakes.
  • Pastrami.

What do all of these foods have in common? These are things that I’ve only started liking within the last year–many within the last 3 months.

Why do you care? Well, you probably don’t! But The Pioneer Woman can get away with making lists, and I feel like I can make lists that rank up with the best list-makers out there.

These foods are actually accomplishments of which I’m very proud. My whole life I’ve been a picky eater–and often I still am. Well, guess what?

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore! (name that movie!)

I can’t for the life of me figure out why I would force myself to not like something or not, at the very least, try something. Where was my head?

It seems that one day I just got sick of being so picky. I didn’t like having to tell waiters to leave off a certain ingredient, or to have three dinner rolls and a small pile of turkey on my plate at Thanksgiving. It got tiring being the person everyone had to accommodate.

And, yes, being a picky eater was much better for my waistline. But still. It’s like I’ve been introduced to new friends! The kind of friend that even if you don’t see her for months or years, you can come back together like you were never apart. It’s easy between us now.

Plus, this goes with my goal to try new things and be adventurous. And I’m well on my way!

Just for the record, here are some foods that I still don’t like, but maybe one day we’ll get to know each other better and forge a trusting relationship:

  • Wine.
  • Onions.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Yogurt.
  • Shrimp.
  • Scallops.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Peas.
  • Asparagus.
  • Cabbage.
  • Whipped cream.

So please, if you’re a picky eater, and you really don’t understand why you still are, go ahead and try a new food for me. Just give it a shot. I promise you’ll come across something new to love that you weren’t open to before.

- Allegra

P.S. I also don’t understand adventurous picky eaters. You know, someone who jumps out of a plane for the heck of it but grimaces at the thought of eating something with sour cream on it. You know who you are.

Water weight and a liquid diet

I know I’m not fat. But that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable in my skin these days.

If you’ve followed my progress toward getting back to what I believe to be a comfortable size for me, you know that I’ve been working out regularly–in fact, relentlessly–at a studio specializing in Ballerobica classes, the fusion between ballet strength and toning and aerobics. Now I’m averaging 9 hours a week! In fact, I fully expect to win the studio’s New Year Fitness Challenge–each class is worth a certain amount of points, then you subtract one point for every dessert you have over the challenge–January 1 through February 13. I have 168 points–they’ll be handing me my 3 free ballerobica DVDs any day now (even if I do win because no one else has turned in their points yet). I’ve been working my butt off (literally) and I deserve the prize!

Anyway, I’ve decided on an additional weight loss goal for the month of March. It’s kind of a diet plan, but I don’t plan on being meticulous about food–obviously I’ll eat healthy, but I’m not going to starve myself or give up foods I absolutely love. I’ve heard that drinking a lot of water is healthy, right? At first I intended to drink only water for the entire month of March. But that’s just not realistic, so I widened my scope.

March Liquid Diet:

1. water

2. flavored carbonated waters (for when I feel like I need a pop, I really like Cascade Ice waters, and I only like the flavors that have 2 calories or less anyway)

3. tea (many have little to no calories)

4. protein shakes (I’ve been drinking these for breakfast)

5. alcoholic drinks at social functions, but here’s the caveat: for each drink, I must have a glass of water

Basically I’m avoiding soda, juice, milk, and any other higher-calorie beverages for the month of March. I figure it is an easy way to cut back on unnecessary calories that will still allow me to eat some of my favorite foods without too much guilt.

Is this idea completely crazy? What weight-loss strategies have you tried? How do you hold yourself to them?

I’ll keep you updated on my progress!

Stay healthy!

Allegra

P.S. I’ve lost 7 pounds (from all the ballerobica), and my calves are fantastically toned! Now I just need that to make its way up the rest of my body.

 

“Career Move Mondays” – Today is Tuesday

Well, I’ve already fallen off of the blogging wagon! Yesterday was my day to discuss the triumphs and troubles in my working life. Since yesterday was President’s Day, I was super busy doing a lot of things that have nothing to do with my career. Very fitting, I know.

Anyway, I really have been busy. I’ve been applying for jobs, going to interviews, and shortly after getting turned down. The constant rejection got me thinking about what I’m really trying to accomplish in life. Why do I want a new job? Why do I dislike my current job? Why should I even care about a job?

Sadly, it all boils down to money. I need a new job because I’m not making enough money where I am now. So why would I want to go get a new job that would probably turn out to be only slightly less awful than the job I have now? To make more money.

“But money can’t buy you happiness!” you say? I agree. Money can’t buy you family, friends, love, sunshine, laughter, or an unlimited supply of red wine.

Okay, maybe the wine.

Call me materialistic if you wish, but there are a lot of things that make me happy that I can buy. Would I survive without them if I had to? Of course. Would I be unhappy without them? Maybe for a little while.

The fact of the matter is that I don’t need a career to so I can establish my self-worth by climbing a ladder the rest of my life. Some people find this intriguing, and others find it disgusting. Maybe I was meant to be a 1950′s housewife, where ideas like this are accepted and praised!

We’ll see how this all pans out. I’ll keep you updated on my hunt for a well-paying, careerless job, if such a thing even exists. Until then, I will continue to sit here at my desk with an uncomfortable smile on my face and an uncomfortable number in my bank account.

Ciao!

Florence

 

“Career Move Mondays” – Building a Business

Buttercream swirls are piped onto the sides of...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ll try not to make this post too cryptic, but since this blog is intended to give us some anonymity, I can’t reveal specific details. Sorry!

Here is the first thing you should know: I decorate cakes.

Here is the second thing you should know: I don’t want to open a bakery.

A few years ago I started taking cake decorating classes. I absolutely fell in love with decorating cakes. Sitting down with some frosting and fondant and creating something beautiful is one of my favorite things to do. I find it both relaxing and challenging–when everything is going right, I get into a groove and out of nowhere 7 hours have gone by, but when everything is going wrong–which is likely to happen when using food to look like it’s not food–it can be hell.

A while after I took the classes I kept making cakes for friends and family to practice, and I eventually became a cake decorating instructor. I absolutely loved my students and seeing what creations they came up with. But there is a little red tape involved in working for not just one, but two companies, and I couldn’t stand that.

I eventually began to develop my own idea for a business, and pursued it particularly after I graduated college last spring. I got the business cards, the website and some marketing materials, I planned the classes I would teach, and even had a small grand opening celebration/test class with family and friends.

Everything went great. All my students thought it was a fantastic idea for a business and they all learned something new. However, not one of them booked a future class. And supposedly they liked it? Seems a little fishy.

Anyway, from the beginning I expected this endeavor to just be a part-time side job, and concentrated on finding a full-time job. Check! So what’s happened to my business? I haven’t done even one paid class. And I didn’t have the momentum to push the business.

Although I didn’t put as much money into my business as many budding entrepreneurs do, I certainly don’t want all the effort I did make to go to waste–plus, I still think I have a good idea on my hands.

So this is the year of my business. I’m giving it a chance.

First of all, I’m reformatting. There had to be a reason I couldn’t even get friends to book a class…money? convenience? difficulty of the material? the types of classes?

So I’m reconsidering everything. Overall, the business model will remain the same. But I’ve already got a few ideas in the works for something new and improved.

But the way I’m really going to push myself is by applying for a student entrepreneurship grant through the university I work for–and technically I’m still a student, so I qualify. Many of the other students I would be competing against really need the seed funding–many of their businesses are highly technological. While some money would be nice, I’m applying for this to receive the guidance and advice from entrepreneurial experts.

Over the next few months I’ll be attending info sessions and submitting a concept proposal in the hopes that someone else sees the value and potential of my business. Wish me luck!

Oh, and by the way, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

We love you!

- Allegra

 

And the winner is…..

“Sit”…… click….. praise. 

“Heel”… click…treat.

“Off”… click… pat.

So, the clicker training continues and I am learning that consistency is hard.  I feel like my life has been overrun by sharp tinny noises and monosyllabic commands!

However much of a commitment this clicker training has been, my trusty pal has definitely developed a keen ear for the “click.”  On walks he knows right where I keep it in my pocket and continually gazes up at it while prancing down the sidewalk.   He knows that sooner or later he will do something “click worthy” and will get to enjoy a yummy reward.

And while I am overall pretty impressed with the progression of the clicker training, I am even more amazed at my attitude throughout the whole process.  You see, while doing research on the clicker method, I came across a book called Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, by Alexandra Horowitz, and this book has changed my life.

One night, I came across a concept proposed by Horowitz that totally went against everything I thought I knew about dogs (and I read A LOT of dog books.)  According to Alexandra and her research, you, as the owner (or adoptive parent, if you prefer) of your dog do not need to be the alpha of the pack!

photo by Erin Vey

In fact…there really isn’t a deep pack mentality engrained in most domestic dog breeds!  She explains that because we, as humans, are not sure what to do with animals living among us, we assign these notions of packs and alphas to our living environments in an attempt to create order and organization in our lives.  In other words, we are not doing it for the dogs, we are doing it for ourselves.  Brilliant!

Now, I will be the first to admit that I was incredibly skeptical about this whole concept upon first read because I have been attributing all of my dogs naughty actions to the fact that he thinks he is “the alpha” for about 2 ½ years now (I am a big Dog Whisperer fan!)

But, what if…… what if……I was letting this “alpha business” get to me, essentially jading my view of the relationship that my dog and I really have?  What if my stress and frustration surrounding my efforts at becoming “master” of my dog was actually damaging our relationsip?  After reading these eye-opening pages, I started slowly (and somewhat skeptically) letting go of my “I always need to be in charge” mentality and started placing a little more trust in my dog.

I stopped nit-picking every little thing he did (getting too excited when another dog walked by, stopping too many times to lift his leg on walks, pulling ahead of me on the leash) and started giving him some of that freedom, while also asking for him to give me some respect in return. 

I slowly began to realize that our walks became a kind of dance.  He gets a little out of line, I calm him down, ask him to sit, reward him with a treat (and click of course!) and let him spend some additional time sniffing next to the mailbox.  It is a compromise, not a power struggle!

I have started to realize that trying to control all of his actions (while trying to be the alpha) was stressing me out and setting me up for failed expectations.  He could sense that (as our dogs are truly are mirrors of our emotions) and would, in turn, become more agitated and rebellious on our walks.  An endless, negative cycle.

Now, I am not saying that we are a perfect pair that will ride (or walk) off into the sunset with never a problem to deal with, or that I will totally discount all that I have learned from the great Cesar Millan, but I am learning to be more open minded with how I communicate with my dog. 

What he and I have is a companionship, not a contest.

Please post your stories (and challenges!) of raising your dog to be a happy, healthy companion.

“Career Move Mondays” – School Daze

One of the best pieces of advice my dad has ever given me is that life is too short to hate going to work every day. 

Now, I am not so disillusioned to think that I will one day have a career that I will excitedly jump out of bed for at 6:00 am on a cold Monday morning, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for to like what you do, at least just a little bit.

I went to college for elementary education.  I loved college; I loved my classes; I loved student teaching, but when it came to getting my own classroom, the love affair quickly died.  At the risk of sounding like a completely horrible monster, I must admit, I am not a huge fan of kids, well large amounts of them in a confined area, anyway. 

I know, I know, then why would I ever choose elementary education as a career to pursue?  Well, as I found out a few years later sitting at my desk adorned with apple trinkets and papers that needed grading (and completely burned out, I must add), it wasn’t the prospect of working with children that had caused me to want to be a teacher, it was my interest in the curriculum that drew me in.

So, here I am, about to enter my 30’s, back in school for instructional design.  I am currently working on an internship at a textbook/software publishing company, and I feel hopeful.  In my spare time, I thumb through 7th grade biology and 6th grade grammar textbooks, and I honestly really enjoy it.  I am a nerd at heart; a nerd that is not a big fan of large numbers of kids, and I have embraced that.  I will still be shaping the leaders of tomorrow; I will just be doing it from behind the scenes.   And, I am not a monster.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that there is no need to be discouraged if your career aspirations are not working out the way you expected them to.  At the risk of sounding too cliché, life is a journey, not a destination.  Finding a career that completely suits, challenges, and makes you happy is a journey.  It takes time. 

However, don’t be discouraged if you are never excited about the thought of getting out of bed at 6:00 am on a cold Monday morning.  There are some things we must learn to live with.

Leave a comment and share parts of your career journey to inspire others.  It always helps to know that you’re not alone!

Happy Monday!

*Hope

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