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!

Ganel-Lyn Condie: Strengthening through Surrendering

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

“Some of the most challenging, heart-wrenching times of my life have in some ways become the greatest blessings . .  . They were the pathways to learning.”

The list of "life lessons" (aka: trials, obstacles, traumas, etc.) that Ganel-Lyn Condie has been through is astounding.  And yet this woman walks with a bounce and speaks with a light that is absolutely contagious.

Ganel-Lyn shares deeply about how surrendering to these lessons, giving up on perfection, and turning to a higher power have in turn strengthened her to better deal with what life has put in front of her.  As an author and speaker, Ganel-Lyn doesn't shy away from hard topics as she's faced it all: parents divorcing, chronic illness, infertility, job loss, perfectionism, and the tragic passing of her sister, Meggan, through suicide.

It's not that Ganel-Lyn doesn't have her hard days; it's not that she's eager to face another big trial; and it's definitely not that she knows the answers while in the middle of the darkness.  But it IS a choice that she's developed to give in--but not give up!--learn what trials have to teach her, and in turn find greater empowerment to not only create a happier life for herself and her family, but for the world.

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:
Ganel-Lyn's Website, Instagram, Facebook, and BOOKS!
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Insta feed and website
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!)
Q&A Episode + Interview with Janssen Bradshaw
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas


It's Never Too Early, and It's Never Too Late!

Monday, October 9, 2017


Last year, I told you about the perfect planner I purchased, and that my friend Amanda and her father are the brains behind.  I say this without bias--this particular planner is not only wonderfully structured (it's exactly what I'd want out of a planner), but it was essential to my growth both personally and professionally.  I didn't know how badly I needed it until I now have that 20/20 hindsight. 

This is coming from someone who was an OCD planner all growing up and through college, but then fell hard into the other side of perfectionism--the underachieving kind where you don't dare to even try.  The past year, I was an old dog (re)learning old tricks, so having this planner as a way to guide my goals, provide plenty of space for my to-dos, and act as a way to track my progress has been SO helpful in getting me back on the organization horse.

Here are some pictures of just how loved this planner has been for me.  I use it for my home/family to-dos, to plan out posts, to track work-outs, and schedule out all the podcast stuff.  I have also been documenting all my insurance calls so I know exactly where to look to remind myself what they said or call them back armed with you said what/when.  (Ugh, insurance!)

I'd say I'm not obsessive about using my planner, as I had to have some balance with reinstating this good habit and making it something I could actually keep up with!  For me, I simply tried to keep it accessible (on my desk in my kitchen) so I could jot down to-dos as they came to mind in addition to planning out my day either the night before or morning of.  But I also used the planner as a journal of sorts to track my progress with its prompts to both connect with my goals and reflect on my work to get there.  Even a few minute a day on this--or even every other--has helped me immensely in getting back to the old Monica who actually did things. Friends, it's never too late to work on developing a good habit--I'll be your example for that.

Sure, it's October and I'm talking about my planner for next year.  But . . . it's OCTOBER!  The year has gone by so quickly.  So on a similar note, it's never to early to be proactive about setting yourself up for a success.


I was thrilled when Amanda let me know the 2018 versions of the planner were going live early this year (active now here!), she has a code for my followers for 15% off (use APWS2018), and a giveaway of one of your choosing on my Instagram.  Talk about nice!  (This post isn't sponsored, but Amanda kindly sent me a planner.)

Mine arrived last week.  I was pleased to see they now laminated the cover, so that's a plus.  Also, the new cover options are perfection--the right variety of feminine, masculine, and gender-neutral selections.  

On the inside, I am VERY glad they kept with the same layout, as well as kept inspirational quotes.  There is the perfect mix of ways to take notes, make lists, as well as planning daily by hour, weekly by goals, and monthly calendars to boot.  I'm always reminded to stay focused on what I'm reaching for, which I all too easily forget.  


Having my 2018 planner already is making me look back on the past year a bit and start thinking  about what I'd like to accomplish next year.  Just as I did before, I'll be sharing that with you as the year comes to a close, so look forward to that.  (You will, won't you?!)


Remember, the giveaway is here (closes midnight PST on Saturday--look for a picture of the planner!), code for 15% off is APWS2018 (offer ends on 10/16/17 at midnight), and you can peruse the new planners here (Amazon links are affiliate).


Special Episode: Navel-Gazing, At Its Finest! (AKA: Q&A!)

Friday, October 6, 2017


Hi friends!  We've made it to 50 podcast episodes.  Woohoo!!  I am so thrilled about this, and grateful for those of you who have been with me from the beginning and just as grateful for the rest of you are are new to my podcast.

You were kind enough to send in questions for this particular episode: things that you wanted to know about me, the podcast, my parenting, eating, children, where I live (and why), and more.

This episode was super fun to record because I did it with my sister-in-law, Emily.  But it's painful for me to listen to because it's seriously a huge exercise in obsessing over myself.  Also, it went much longer than I had anticipated.

If this is just as painful for you, I get it!  We'll be back to our regular programming next Wednesday.  Otherwise, I'd love to hear about some of YOUR answers to these same questions.  Let's connect more!  You can comment here or on my Instagram and Facebook, @aboutprogress.

Thanks so much for your support!


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 and leave reviews!!




Show Notes:
People I recommended you follow: The Listening Ear Projects, Talk Wordy to Me, Thriving Motherhood, and Julie In Real Life
SURVEY!!!! (It takes less than a minute to fill out--thank you!)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Janssen Bradshaw: Propelling Yourself to Greater Opportunities

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"Fear is not a good reason to not do something.  What is the worst that could happen? . . . If I can live with that worst case scenario, then I’m going to do it and stop worrying about failure."

Janssen Bradshaw of Everyday Reading didn't think she was "creative" or "entrepreneurial."  And yet, those two words completely encapsulate who she is now as the producer of a successful blog and a co-creator (alongside her husband) of a brand new business--children's rain boots!

Janssen shares how starting one thing propelled her into another, and how even the failures she faced led to more opportunities anyway. Refusing to live based off of "what ifs" and fears has led to a series of Janssen trying new things bit by bit, and doing so has trickled down into all areas of her life.  Janssen has learned that you can't just let life pass you by and not try things out of fear of failure or how hard it might be; because time passes anyway, and you'll only be left with regret and "what ifs."

Janssen talks about what it is really like to be a successful blogger, how she is able to stay authentic and resist posting only for , why reading matters for her and her family, and her essential--and SIMPLE--was she survives the everyday chaos of raising a family and a business.


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 and leave reviews!!





Show Notes:
Janssen's Blog, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook
London Little rain boots(!!!): Website and Instagram
Janssen's FREE course on raising little readers
Last week's podcasts with Ralphie from Simply on Purpose and Food: How to Use It, Not Abuse It, Part Two
SURVEY!!!! (It takes less than a minute to fill out--thank you!)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Get Ready With Me: In 5 Minutes

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Hi friends!

We are ALL so busy.  So, I'm sure you're like me and are thrilled to look somewhat presentable within five minutes, because not everyone has time to contour!

I've done something new today and done a little video where I recorded me getting ready within five minutes.  This was on my very first try and I wasn't even sure if I was within the frame, I had a toddler playing with my makeup at my feet, and it was all under my terrible bathroom lighting.  But it's definitely a "real life" video for you, which I'm all about!



I sped up the video just a tad to fit with the song, but I literally only had five minutes before I needed to leave to go to my son's preschool event.  That's pretty standard for me. Yes, I had wet hair, but the top layer of my pony tail dried pretty quickly so it looked fine.  If I have to choose, I'd rather have less dark circles than cute hair.  Oh, and earrings are a MUST for me every day.  My make up and hair are very simple six days of the week, so a little pair of earrings makes me feel much more out together.

Just a few notes: I love the CC cream because it has SPF in it. That blush looks a little scary at first, but the translucent powder softens it.  I swear by setting my makeup, because even if I only take five minutes I want it to last ALL DAY!  And lastly, if there's anything you get from this list I'd recommend the eyebrow gel, cheap mascara, and the lip cream (which you can use as blush when in a pinch!).

I've included links to Amazon for all the products I used, but I'd definitely check out Ulta or your drugstore before checking out to ensure you're getting the best price.

I hope you enjoy the video!


PRODUCTS:
Clean and Clear Face Lotion (used this since I was a teen)
Clarin's Radiance Plus Glow Booster (mix two drops into the lotion for a subtle tan--not orangey)
CC Cream (in light)
NARS Radiant Concealer (in Light 2 Vanilla)
Essence Satin Blush (in coral)
Eyeliner (usually a dark gray)
Eyelash Curler
NYX Translucent Powder
Urban Decay Makeup Setting Spray
Eyebrow Gel (in "dark brown," but comes in five colors; posted more about it here)
Benefit Roller Lash Mascara (got this for $12 at Ulta for recent special)
My Favorite Drugstore Mascara (I like it even more than the expensive one)
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream (in "instanbul;" LOVE these--have several colors; long-lasting but not harsh)


Other moms are sharing in different ways how they get ready. See them below, and if you want to participate please sign up with Madeline or Kiana.

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand
Britt at My Little Sunshines // Erica at Good Job Momma
 
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