Tiffany Webster: Discovering Greater Strength by Embracing the Broken

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

“It is that moment of complete 100% surrender that we step into that power we never had before.”

Tiffany Webster knows a thing or two about surrender.  As a lifelong perfectionist, life had a way of showing up and forcing her to slow down, and slow down hard: infertility, chronic illness, brain surgery, and poor mental health.  That's just some of what Tiffany faced that helped her see she had to learn how to give in, look outward, and reach up--and in the process of doing that, she found greater strength than she ever knew possible.

You might recognize Tiffany from her viral talk on perfectionism given at the Hope Works conference: "The Perfect Lie."  Tiffany has recently released the most beautiful book--Embracing the Broken--that goes into great depth with what brought her to her lowest lows, the lessons she learned about the lies of perfectionism, and how we can rise above it.

In this interview, we talk about this as well as how Tiffany deals with the messiness of progress, how we can stop wearing masks with each other, and what's on the other side of embracing the broken in your own life.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!



Show Notes
Tiffany's BOOK, website, Instagram, and Facebook
Recent interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: "Get Over Yourself"
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife's website and Holiday DEAL!
Jennifer's past interviews with About Progress on perfectionism and goodness (doing things for the right reasons)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Tamarynn Bennett: Racing Toward What Matters Most

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

"Comparison is evil . . . Any time you look at someone else's strengths that might be your weaknesses, you'll always come up short."

10 years ago, Tamarynn Bennett was 25 years old and had barely run more than a few miles at a time.  So, she reasonably thought she would be a "one and done" with a marathon she signed up for.  But after accidentally qualifying for Boston (!), she found herself drawn to the challenge and the thrill of racing.

Like most athletes, Tamarynn has had her fair share of set backs and disappointments.  From taking a full six years off of doing triathlons so she could focus on her family, to facing adrenal fatigue and injuries, to not being able to do races she had trained so hard for, Tamarynn has seen it all.  Her persistence is admirable, but it's also reachable; Tamarynn likes to make it clear--she is ordinary and credits achieving these big goals just one step at a time and holding strong to the bigger picture.

Tamarynn also discusses the personal trials her family has faced, and how they have both challenged and strengthened her commitment to what really matters.  A big piece of that puzzle?  Avoiding the trap of comparison and instead embracing the little progress we make each time we try, and then try again.

Some recent good news since our interview was recorded: Tamarynn was not only able to finish the Chicago marathon she was nervous about completing due to an injury, but she also completed her first official Ironman!!!!  Tamarynn described it as "magical."  Congrats!!!

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!




Show Notes:
Tamarynn's Instagram
Last week's interview with Lisa Funk
Lisa's new book, The Guide to Mindful Lettering
Recent interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: "Get Over Yourself"
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife's website and Holiday DEAL!
Jennifer's past interviews with About Progress on perfectionism and goodness (doing things for the right reasons)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

State of the Podcast Address

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Friends, family, About Progress community!  We passed our year anniversary of this podcast dream of mine becoming a reality.  And what a year it's been!

In this short--and unedited--episode, I share about what I've learned the past year, what have been our stats and most popular episodes, the challenges I am currently facing with the podcast, and where I see it headed.

Thank you for being here and for coming back!!!

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!

Lisa Funk: Developing Our Creativity, and Using it as a Tool to Fight Depression

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


"I meet a ton of people who say, ‘Oh I can’t do that, I'm not creative . . .'  Maybe they will never find that painting or drawing fulfills them, but they ARE creative in the way that they solve problems, or put things together, or organize . . . We can think about creativity differently in that we are created to create.” 

For Lisa Funk, lettering (also know as calligraphy) isn't just about creating beautiful text--it's about purposefully living a life she loves.  Lisa found that by honing her craft and mastering inspirational messages, she was able to better face her inner mental health battles.  Lettering changed Lisa's life!  Once she started sharing her gift, she was surprised how people didn't just want to know where they could buy her artwork, they wanted to learn how to do it themselves.  That's how Lisa became an accidental businesswoman, and one steeped in the goal in improving lives, one letter at a time.

Lisa discusses how creativity is innate in all of us and how learning to work hard to develop our gifts can change us as people.  She shares more in depth about how her own struggles with depression and more have taught her the importance of self-care and mindfulness, and that an essential piece of facing our demons is growing our gifts.  Finally, Lisa teaches us how we can find our own intentions in life and live them more purposefully.


Lisa's new book, The Guide to Mindful Lettering, combines instruction on brush lettering as well as how to approach learning this craft in a mindful, meaningful way.  On top of the instruction are 50 affirmations to "trace, ponder, and apply."   Lisa's hope is that this book, "can be the creative outlet so many women are looking for and at the same time help them to live an intentional life they love!"  You can find The Guide to Mindful Lettering here

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!



Show Notes:
Lisa's website, Instagram, and Facebook
Lisa's new book, The Guide to Mindful Lettering
Last week's interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: "Get Over Yourself"
Jennifer's website and Holiday DEAL!
Jennifer's past interviews with About Progress on perfectionism and goodness (doing things for the right reasons)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife: "Get Over Yourself" || When Perfectionism Undermines Your Development, Relationships, and Peace of Mind

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Those that are most able to deal with their flaws are most willing to be seen as human . . . [This requires] real moral courage, and that’s the kind of courage that sets us free."

Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife was so kind to return for our third interview together!  Our first breaks down perfectionism, while our second discusses making decisions based on approval-seeking vs. real goodness.

Have you ever heard the saying, "I am my own worst enemy?" If you've thought or said that about yourself, then this episode is for you.  (And if you haven't, then this episode is also for you.)

Jennifer discusses how all of us carry the innate tendency to mask our own humanity--our flaws--from those we love, work with, and even ourselves.  Doing so actually inhibits our growth, creates tension in our relationships, and leads to inner turmoil.  The only way to get over all that is to get over ourselves.

Jennifer teaches how to do just that by facing our own flaws with compassion and true moral courage.  She also helps us see what we get out of doing so: a life filled with challenges, certainly; but also a whole lot more love, fulfillment, and freedom.  


More on Jennifer:
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife grew up in Burlington, Vermont as one of eight children.  She studied Psychology and Women's Studies at Brigham Young University, and went on to receive her Masters and PhD in Counseling Psychology from Boston College.  She has a private practice  in Chicago, IL where she works primarily with LDS couples on relational and sexual issues. She is a frequent guest on LDS-themed podcasts, and has written articles for LDS-themed magazines and blogs on the subjects of sexuality and modesty as well as mental health and faith.  She is married to John Finlayson-Fife and has three wonderful children.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!



Show Notes:
Jennifer's website and Holiday DEAL!
Jennifer's Facebook 
Jennifer's past interviews with About Progress on perfectionism and goodness (doing things for the right reasons)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

How I Don't Let My Food Issues Ruin Thanksgiving (Or any other holiday feast...)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

10+ years ago, Thanksgiving would send me into the fetal position.  Too much food, too many people and eyes, too much temptation, and, most of all, way too much fear.

There were a few years that I'd have to lock myself into the bathroom mid-feast just to hyperventilate, it was that overwhelming for me.

But now?  Now, Thanksgiving (and Christmas, and New Year's, and any other feasty celebration for that matter), is just like any other Sunday dinner.  I don't worry about it ahead of time, I don't stew much the day of, and if any issues come up for me I'm able to work through them.  In short, I actually LOOK FORWARD to our holiday feasts.

If you haven't had food issues (i.e., stress eating, emotional eating, fear of food, bonafide eating disorders, etc.), than you can't understand how miraculous this transformation has been for me.

Photographer: Baley Marie Photo
Aside from years of building up my Intuitive Eating skills and thought-patterns, here are eight ways I approach the holiday meals so I'm empowered to make good choices and made free to be present--both with the food and the ones I love.  Each tip starts with a phrase I tell myself, and I explain each one:

1) "It's just food."  If my heart is racing, I "mess up," or I can tell my thinking it getting out of my control, I just remind myself that it's all just food.  It's not there to hurt me.  

2) "Savor it."  Grandma's fudge might only come once a year, so instead of avoiding it like the plaque or completely bingeing on it, I grab a piece, sit down, and savor each sensation.

3) "You can always have it later."  Related to the above, if my instinct is to want more, more, more--either out of guilt or deprivation--I remind myself that I can in fact always have more later.  Either when my tummy is a little less full, or even months down the road.  Grandma might make the fudge only once a year, but that doesn't mean I can't get her recipe and make it myself whenever the heck I want to.  There is no "last supper" mentality needed here!

4) "Who is this about?"  I remind myself that the holidays are meant to enjoy my loved ones.  So instead of getting trapped by my thoughts and habits with food, I try to recenter back to what matters more than that and get busy talking.

5) "It's just a normal day." I don't go crazy with hours of working out, eihter/both before the feast or after.  I do exercise--I do set myself up for success in eating a reasonable meal in the morning and trying to hold out until then big feast.  I think ahead of time of what foods/desserts I actually love and want to ensure I have room for, and which ones I'd rather not take part in. But I don't carry such high stakes on the actual meal that I'm trying to do penance for it either beforehand or the rest of the day.

6) "What do you want out of today?"  Do I want to eat my heart out?  Do I want to talk the day away?  Do I want to completely savor that apple pie when I'm all alone after all the family has left and the kids are in bed (my personal favorite way to eat dessert)?  Having that in mind helps me recenter when I need to.

7) "Breathe."  It's easy to do.  You can in fact leave and do it in private in the bathroom if your anxiousness is reigning.  Or you can do it between bites.  Just take those deep breaths and remind yourself of your other phrases..

8) "It will get easier." Perhaps this is your first year into a new relationship with food.  Then it will be more heightened--don't chastise yourself if you don't navigate it all successfully.  Give yourself patience and remind yourself that these new thought patterns and habits WILL get easier; they'll become like second-nature.

Here are two podcast episodes I did on Intuitive Eating, for more help: Here and Here.

Julie Taylor: Battling Addiction from a Place of Love, not Hatred

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"With each thing I tried, every time it failed . . . I failed deeper and the problem got bigger.  It got to the point where I no longer felt any control over it.  I remember one day thinking, ‘I’m not going to try anymore.’”

Julie Taylor was known online for being "real," but only she knew the truth--that she was hiding an addiction, and one especially riddled with shame: food addiction.

Julie talks about the transformation she has been through the past few years of identifying herself as someone addicted to food, pursuing help for it, and how in time it made her far more real than she ever had been before.

Julie's path unfortunately led her from one form of addiction to another--an obsession with perfection.
One particular incident alarmed her husband: After accidentally having a bite of cheese while out to dinner, she sobbed for hours.  Julie eventually decided that this other extreme way of living was making her just as unhappy as having no boundaries.

The biggest key to Julie's TRUE healing arose as Julie came from a place of healing, rather than a place of punishment; from a place of wanting to change because she loved herself, not hated herself.

Julie shares how this lesson can be applied to all of our weaknesses we need to work on, and how doing so will empower us all the better to finally see real results and lasting growth.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please share, subscribe, and leave reviews!!


Show Notes
Julie's Instagram and Youtube channel
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Reachel Bagley of Cardigan Empire: Moving Beyond the Superficial

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"I have worth and it isn’t always looking to the external to try to find validation, because that’s an endless competition that you’re never going to win.  It doesn’t bring any happiness."

Reachel Bagley is not your normal "fashion blogger."  Sure, she has a fabulous sense of style--one that you're going to salivate over.  But Reachel loves fashion because of what it can do to really transform someone's confidence, to help them feel more empowered to face their lives and their trials. She loves to really teach her clients and her followers what colors, cuts, and fits look best on their bodies, not just show her own polished outfits.  (One of her mantras is: it's not that you aren't fitting into your clothes, it's that your clothes aren't fitting YOU.)

Reachel knows what it is like to lack confidence, and in a really dark way.  Her own sense of pride and love of her body took a beating after years of infertility.  She saw her body as something to be punished, not loved, because of the way she saw it hurting her.  But 10 years later and after a lot of work, Reachel has earned that love and acceptance of her body because she knows who she really is at her core.  She knows that our worth isn't dependent on a size or a number on the scale--it's innate, and it will never change.

Listen to learn about how Reachel came about this transformation, what she hopes to inspire in others, how she views fashion as a tool, how she got her start and developed her business into what it is today, and much more.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please share, subscribe, and leave reviews!!


Show Notes:
Reachel's website, Instagram, and Facebook
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Friday Favorites: My Go-to Affordable Lipsticks

Friday, November 3, 2017


Once I turned 30, I noticed that my lips basically went from pinkish to skin-toned.  I always looked washed out and tired.  And I was tired (babies! kids! life!), so I chose to branch out from my typical LOW-maintenance makeup routine and start trying a little lipstick.  Now, it's become part of my routine!  On top of a few colors in my makeup bag, I keep several in my diaper bag and one in my car for easy application.

Don't underestimate the power of a little color on your lips!  I love me some bold shades now (and that took me some practice and courage, sillily enough!), but even some nude shades make a big difference.  I find that the natural-looking berries are MONEY though in brightening my whole face.  Here are some examples (most are unedited) for you that I took over the last month--and yes, you can see I'm usually applying while in the car--and most shades aren't super bright!

You can see how a little lipstick goes a looong way to taking some years off your face or distracting from very tired eyes.

I love Lipsense for long-lasting color (check out my girl Taylor for them--she is PROFESSIONAL and awesome!), but most days I'm applying lipstick in my car and I often use the lipstick on my cheeks too (which I wouldn't advise with Lipsense, ha!).  Don't worry!  I'm always parked, but I'm also always in a hurry: going to and from school, appointments, errands, etc.  Other times, I just need a quick pick-me-up when I'm feeling run-down, and looking it.


So, I wanted to share today my go-to AFFORDABLE lipsticks that are really easy to apply and brighten your whole face without busting your wallet.

None of this is sponsored--per usual for my Friday Favorites--but any amazon links are affiliate.

My absolute favorite is Maybelline's "Lust For Blush" (color 665).  It's in the first picture too of this post.  I looks a little brighter in this photo (see the second to the top of the before-and-after photos!), but I find it a nice natural looking berry and it's matte, which I favor.  I also have a nude in this line too that I like (in one of the pictures above, too) that's "Daringly Nude."  I have a feeling I'll keep trying other colors too!


My favorite nude (and it's longer lasting) is Tarte's Lip Paint in "Bestie."  This one is pricier though--got it at Ulta when they had a deal going on.  Nudes still make a difference so try them out!


Another one I just happened to grab at the drugstore that I love is Milani's Amore Matte Lip Cream in  "Precious."  It is longer lasting too, and is a bit brighter than my favorite Maybelline color.  It goes with any look.


My friend told me about NYX's soft matte lip creams.  I've tried three and they are all AMAZING.  Truly.  The one above is my bright color, "Paris," but I also love a middle-bright shade that I use a ton in "Antwerp" (which is pictured in the second to bottom of the before-and-after photos) and a lighter pink in "Istanbul" more as a pinky neutral.  I want to try more shades, but I'm trying to use what I have for now until I start running out!  Which should be fairly soon . . .


I hope that helps!  And I'd love to hear what your favorites "car lipsticks" are too.  Ones that are easy to apply, go with any outfit, and won't break your heart if they get lost due to cost.  Happy face-brightening!!!

Greg Karelitz: Spreading Positive Vibes

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

"By choosing your habits and staying with them, you are scientifically engraining them in your body . . . setting you on a pace that will help you achieve what you want to achieve."

What do you get when you create the perfect mix of zen and science?  Greg Karelitz, is what.

Greg is the founder of the Positive Vibes Only Society (PVOS), a community with a mission to help people better live in the moment, backed up with science.  As a touchstone, PVOSers sport a necklace that act as a physical reminder to live positively.

Greg developed a fascination with the science behind positivity when he was at a big low: having just undergone a double hip surgery and with it a big life style change that eventually led to him experiencing anxiety attacks.  He had his own necklace--the star of David--that helped him recenter during those moments.  And perfectly, the hex in that symbol align with the shapes of the chemicals in our bodies that contribute to our happiness--chemicals that Greg was in the trenches of researching himself.  This is how he was inspired to create not only the hex-shaped necklace, but the positive-focused society Greg leads today.

Hear what Greg says about what he's learned about the science of positivity, how he got through his own dark times, what change he hopes to ignite in the world, how focusing on good habits contributes to our greater happiness, and how we can live in the moment even when we need to also deal with hard things.  Greg is definitely an expert in this field, and it shows.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please share, subscribe, and leave reviews!!


Show Notes:
Greg's website (new ladies-specific necklaces being offered!), Instagram, and Facebook
Referenced interview with Andy Proctor
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Danielle Stepp: Learning the Value of Time

Friday, October 27, 2017

"You don’t really appreciate time unless you’re looking at a diagnosis like cancer. . . You don’t appreciate the time that you have until you know that there could potentially be an end date.” 

Danielle Stepp was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma--cancer--as a new mother of a three month old baby girl.

Her treatment entailed 12 debilitating rounds of chemotherapy.  As Danielle made her way through this very difficult period of her life, she held on to her family, her friends, and what she calls "Prayer Power" to help her arise above the immense hardships.  She also used her fighting spirit and treated cancer like a bull, and Danielle "wrestled it to the ground."

Now a year cancer free (!), Danielle looks back to see what helped her through this hard chapter, how cancer has changed her, and what she has learned about not taking time for granted.


The family photo Danielle referenced in the podcast.



You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please share, subscribe, and leave reviews!!


Show Notes:
Danielle's blog
Compassion that Compells
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible(Affiliate link)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Paul Cardall: Rising From a Broken Heart

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


“I think the reason we all suffer is because it makes us stronger—it’s a strength, it’s a gift in a way . . . I could not write the music that I write had I not gone through hard things.” 

Paul Cardall knows a thing or two about suffering and turning that suffering into a gift.  He was born with half a heart and experienced poor health throughout his childhood and well into his adulthood.  In 2009, he underwent a full heart transplant that gave him a miraculous new way of living.  And yet, it was after his transplant that Paul faced the darkest period of his life: guilt, depression, the ending of his marriage, and more.

But Paul used his pain to create masterpieces that helped him rise above, music that has gone on to transform millions of lives across the world.  Yes, millions.

Listen to this interview to hear about how this is the case for Paul, how and why he started playing the piano as a late-teen, what the creative process is like for him, and how he believes wholeheartedly that our trials can transform our lives for good and make us stronger.  Paul believes that his love of forming connections through his music could not have been as fully achieved had it not been for his suffering.  He inspires us to rise through our own trials too, and to believe that there is so much goodness on the other side.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please share, subscribe, and leave reviews!!


Show Notes:
Paul's Website, Instagram, and Facebook
Paul's Music
Paul's Production Company, Stone Angel Music
Song Played: "Gracie's Theme"
Paul and Tina's Interview on the LifeBeats Project!
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Instagram and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Heather Jenson: Achieving Big Goals in Small Ways

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

“I’m not a professional athlete.  I don’t do this to win money and races.  I do this to enhance my life and it brings me joy, along with my family . . .   As long as I'm putting them first and taking care of them, everything else usually falls into place.”

Heather Jenson says this to describe how she views her "little" hobby as a triathlete.  This sport can suck people into perfectionism, obsession, and the comparison trap.  But Heather has learned how to resist the negative side of her passion and embrace it for the goodness it brings to her life and to her family.

Heather shares how her love of racing (she started as a swimmer!) increased after dealing with a terrible bout of postpartum depression, that having big and then bigger goals to aspire to helped her regain what she thought she had lost within herself.  She is so honest about how hard training can be, but how breaking up a huge goal into small pieces has helped her achieve big dreams.

A favorite example she shared: Her first half-marathon was 10 years ago at 24 years ago and her time was 2:14.  He latest half time was 1:36.  And yet, Heather is insistent that running is her hardest sport and what incredible lengths she has gone to to improve.  She is also just as insistent that if she can become an Ironman, so can you.

So even if it's not you seeking to race in Kona like her, Heather inspires us to reach within ourselves, find some passions, and let them guide us to becoming better people inside and out.

Heather will have an entire episode devoted to her on the show, "Quest for Kona" on @NBCsports next Wednesday, 10/25.  Check your local listings for times!  Here's some more information on the show: here and here.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please share, subscribe, and leave reviews!!


Show Notes:
Heather's website and Instagram
Last week's episode with Ganel-Lyn Condie
My interview on The Luckiest Mom Podcast (click on Episode 151!)
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Insta feed and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Selling Out: My Views on Sponsorship

Monday, October 16, 2017

We all know those posts.  The ones where an influencer shares about a product that we can all tell she's used maybe once.  A makeup artist who goes crazy over a lip gloss that you never see appear in her posts again. Or a meaningful podcast interrupted with ads riddled with celebrity names.

I share the feelings you do when it's clear that someone I follow is "selling out:" the annoyance, the skepticism, the exasperation.

But here's the thing: I don't think sponsorship is bad.


I think there is a wrong way to do it, and a right way.  For me, I do believe these "influencers" work very hard.  They produce something for me to ingest everyday: from entertainment, to wisdom, to instruction and advice on fashion, makeup, books, fitness, food, and parenting.  Many of these influencers legitimately have changed my life (and my children's!) for the better.

Perhaps it's because I take special care to follow people who genuinely add to my life and do their best to promote goodness that I don't mind their occasional sponsored posts.  I do feel that I can trust these select few when they say they use a product or service because they have a reputation of being genuine and honest.  AND because I do think they deserve to get paid for the work they do so they can continue to add to my life in the way that they do.  I want them to be able to keep going and support them in return.

If someone is clearly "selling out" on a regular basis, I simply unfollow them.  I think we are all smart enough to tell the difference by now.


Now as a (small) producer of content that my (also small, but lovely!) community ingests, I am to that point where I am ready to start incorporating sponsorship.  This is something that is very complicated for me and that I've been mulling over for quite some time.


I work hard at what I do, spending 20-30 working hours a week to write posts and produce the podcast.  I spend my own money each month to host the podcast and blog, as well as on software and equipment.  I pay for babysitters occasionally to get things done.  I get up early, stay up late, stress out, and think about what I create constantly.

I have made less than $150 in two years of work via affiliate links to Amazon and ads on my site. I've paid way more than that to keep it up and running.


I also LOVE what I do and see great value in it.  I got into all of this for what I believe are the right reasons and I do my best to continue to align with those reasons every day, to stay on-point to who I am and what I want my public work to inspire and help in others.  And to do so with integrity.

But, I also started it all with the (realistic) hope that it would in time pay me in more than just satisfaction and joy.  My writing here, my Instagram, and my podcast have been undeniably what I NEEDED in my life, which was something to aspire to.  And I needed to share the messages that are near and dear to my heart.

I don't think it's wrong to also have the goal to get paid for what I contribute.

I knew from the beginning (almost two years ago, wow!) that I would be doing things differently.  There would be more heart; more real and less of the "highlight reel;" and that when the time came to do sponsorship, I would also do it my own way.


I have been offered sponsorship many, many times the past almost-two years and especially the last six months, whether it's to post for free products or money.  I HAVE TURNED EVERY SINGLE ONE DOWN.

They simply didn't feel right; I felt like if I took companies up on their offers, I would indeed be selling out because their products were things I either wouldn't use in real life OR pay for (especially because they were too expensive in my normal life).  So, I said no to the gorgeous boots, the tempting watches, and the high quality bras.  I said no to the random apps, the snacks for my kids, and the cookbooks.  I said no to people paying me to post on my site and insert ads on my podcast.  I paid for each book, lipstick (including Lipsense!), planner, and more that I have shared about even when it was offered to me for free. I also buy each product/service my podcast guests pitch, because I believe in them AND want to support them.

I have done all of this because I reminded myself that the TRUST I was creating with my little community was far more valuable than getting something awesome for free or a little money on the side, even if I needed it, quite frankly.  I reminded myself that incorporating sponsorship in the RIGHT way and right time was worth waiting for, so that my online friends could still trust me.


So with a bit of angst, I'm going to start sharing what things I ACTUALLY use and love in my life.  Things/services I have been loyal to long before getting paid for it, and will continue to adore even if I don't earn a cent.  And I plan on sharing these things in as genuine of a way as I can.  If I share a story about a product, you have to trust me that it's real.  If I get excited about a service, I truly do think it will add to your life.

I don't feel angst about what I'm planning on sharing--they feel right!--nor about the timing.  But I do  I feel worried about appearing to be a sell out, because it's been vital to my mission to be 100% real.



So, here's some transparency for you:

Initially, I plan on sharing about some products/services like Fabletics and Audible.  These are affiliate ads, meaning I only get paid if people buy the products or pay for the service vs. getting outright paid, which I get offers to.  It's not guaranteed money for me, but they are are least companies I can stand by because I've used and loved both for years.

In addition, I plan to share about hair products that have solved huge problems I've had with my hair (and scalp!) for years, and years.  Products I've paid for myself and used for 8 months without the intent to sell them.  And I plan on doing so minimally (primarily through one ad-slot on my weekly podcast, but perhaps 1-2 posts about it per month on the blog/Instagram) and WITH INTEGRITY.

I am now a market partner with Monat, so I will actually be adding more work to my load and help my future clients--but that feels right to me.  To be honest, sponsoring myself this way will entail far more time for me than working with the ad services I've been pitched numerous times; but I want to try it my way first.


Because I want to ensure that you understand who I'm going to be partnering with (again, on a minimal basis!) the why behind it, and how I plan on doing so, I created this video specifically about my partnership with Monat.  I also share a history of my hair/skin issues to build some understanding around my genuine love of Monat's products.  I hope you give it a chance, and give me the benefit of the doubt.


And even if you don't, just know that I haven't changed.  That I'll still be here, doing things my own way and in my own time, and for what I believe are the right reasons.  That I love you anyway.


Here's the video, friends.  Thanks for reading (and listening, and watching)!

If You Find Yourself Depleted

Thursday, October 12, 2017


I started this blog right in the middle when I felt the most depleted as a mother.  The demands on me were exceptionally high with a little baby who was very attached, an unpredictable (that's a nice word to describe him, at the time) two year old, and a basically-traumatized-by-daily-life four year old.  I felt sucked dry, honestly, for a year.  I had nothing left to give, but I had to keep giving.


I wrote a few posts while in the trenches (here, here, and here) and I can read those now and see that I was completely drowning.  But those posts?  That writing?  That attempt at joining millions of public accounts on Instagram? That's what got me through it.  That is what helped me rediscover my strength.  That is what helped me regain my confidence in mothering.


That's why I started my Do Something campaign.  Because my little attempts at being brave--at doing something outside of my mothering responsibilities--was getting me out of a terrible pit.  That writing--that investment in myself, trying something that scared me (starting a blog/Instagram) was more than just a little hobby; it was actually SAVING me.

While my pursuits certainly added a bit of stress, it was the good kind--the kind that was motivating, the kind that was only mine, that it was just for me.  So while it took energy, self-doubt, and lots of time, it also ADDED energy back into my soul that I needed to get through that very demanding period of motherhood.  It seems counterintuitive, but it's something I now swear by. (Oh, and parenting expert, Ralphie Jacobs, stands by this thinking too--this will benefit your children!)


So, if you mothers (and dads!) find yourself in a similar place as me--lost, unrecognizable, and unsure how you can continue in this way--please do something about it.  It doesn't have to be public, like it was for me.  But do something that you've been wanting to do, thinking about, or interested in.  It doesn't matter if it takes five minutes out of your day or a few hours.  It's worth the investment, it's worth the neglected household chores, it's worth the added (but energizing!) stress.

And then maybe you'll see a little transformation like I did.  You'll be "you" again.


I spoke more about this time in my motherhood with Reagan from the Luckiest Mom Podcast and what I did to get out of it.

I loved her interviewing style and this podcast is much shorter than my own, which I think people appreciate!  Here's where you can find Reagan: website, Instagram, and podcast.  And my episode is "Do Something" on her podcast feed, which you can find by searching for "The Luckiest Mom" wherever you get your podcasts.



PS: My Do Something campaign is still going strong.  I now highlight people on my podcast as part of my special monthly episode.  If you're "Doing Something," however small or big, tell me about it.  Or nominate a friend/loved one.  Let's share how moms are saving themselves, one hobby/interest/pursuit at a time!

 
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