In which I lose my writer's conference virginity

Get your mind out of the gutter, that not what I meant. Got your attention, didn't I?webbadge4 It's been a while since my last post and that's because I've been head-down-hands-on-keys revising The River Maiden. I was right, giving myself an external deadline was a very effective prod to getting the thing done. The good news is that I finished and the alpha reader says it's a much better book and the new ending makes him hungry for more. That external deadline was provided for me by the James River Writer's Conference which I was lucky enough to go to this past weekend.

Having never been to a proper writer's conference, I wasn't sure what to expect. But I can definitely say that I was not disappointed.  I won't give you a whole summary of the conference. Rebekah Pierce already did a fine job of that on her blog. I will however try to give a summary of my experience as a conference noob.

I've been to tons of trade shows and conferences in other industries and I have to say this one was very well organized. They even designated Mary Chris Escobar to welcome first timers, which was very helpful.

I attended two of the Pre-conference Master Classes.

Growing Your Online Presence with Erica Orloff and Jon VanZile - If you're new to social media and the idea of online branding, this was a great class. For me, it pointed out some interesting things that I'll be trying going forward and confirmed that a lot of what I've been doing is on the right track.

The Secret: Award-Winning Author Brad Parks Finally Shares It with You with Brad Parks - This was a very engaging class. Parks is living the dream and does a good just of telling others how we can too with lots of humor and straight talk. I left feeling very energized.

The conference kicked off with some terrific speeches on Saturday morning. Brad Parks once again brought his brand of wit to a hilarious "opening prayer" and Carey Albertine of In This Together Media talked about the history and future of publishing. Finally Chip Kidd discussed the importance of cover design and the power of a well-designed book cover. If you haven't seen his TED Talk, I highly recommend it.

The panel discussions I attended were very well put together and fascinating. Since I have a finished manuscript, I stuck mostly to the Getting Published Track, and learned a lot about getting funding, marketing and publicity, and self-publishing. One of the most useful talks for me was given by April Eberhardt who went over the whole spectrum of publishing options and shared her perspective on the merits and ills of each.

I also attended a lunch discussion, "Why I Self-Published & Lessons Learned" led by Mary Chris Escobar. There was a good group for this discussion and we probably could have kept on talking about our experience much longer if the schedule had allowed.

Another useful event was the First Pages Critique in which a panel of agents gave feedback on first pages that some writer's had sent in. I did not send in mine because I was still revising when the deadline hit, but I found their feedback very interesting and left feeling pretty good about my first page.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I learned quite a lot about the industry. It also help crystallize what my plans are for The River Maiden. I will likely be going back next year. I just hope it doesn't conflict with my much loved Celtic Festival next time. I missed my kilted caber tossers this year:( Still it was worth going without pipes, haggis (I don't actually eat haggis)and whisky tastings to meet all of the wonderful writers and publishers that I met last weekend. Here are some links for just a few of those folks. They're a great bunch and deserve support. claudiaharbaugh

marychris Neverending Beginnings

Mary Chris Escobar

I just started reading this one.

Her Grace in Disgrace

Claudia Harbaugh

Next on my list

stevensmithSummer of the Woods Steven K. Smith

 My 9 year old will be reading this soon.

Daydream Believer

I'm just not creative... This is something that I hear all too frequently. It's usually accompanied by a slow puzzled head shake and a glazed look at whatever creative thing I'm doing. It's like they're staring at that thing and wondering why they can't think of things like that. In my consulting work a similar reaction comes when the client hears a course design and asks, "How do you come up with this stuff?"

The simple answer is daydreaming.

I am and always have been an unapologetic daydreamer. For evidence of this see my writer's confession. At my client's office it may seem like I'm just playing or socializing or surfing the internet, but there is always a purpose to what I'm doing. I'm letting my mind go and eventually it will go to the solution that I'm looking for.

Unfortunately, we are conditioned not to daydream. In school we're told that it's bad, unless we're lucky enough to have a teacher who recognizes it for what it is. In adulthood we have responsibilities like jobs and kids that require our focus. On top of that we now have media content (social or otherwise) at our fingertips with which to occupy ourselves. Our natural inclination to daydream gets shut down or pre-empted by life and noise. But we should never underestimate the power of daydreaming.

Now that my training work has increased, I have less time to devote to daydreaming than I did when I was at home with the kids. So I have been seeking ways to promote daydreaming at the appropriate times. Triggers to shut the world off and set my mind flying.

Music is a method that has worked wonders for me when it comes to fiction. I associate certain songs or styles of music with certain characters or situations and use them to put myself in the right mindset. For general purpose daydreaming I try to find classical music to fit the mood of what I'm writing, such as Beethoven for soaring emotions, Grieg for action or Chopin for working through plot questions. These are good for certain characters and mood, but sometimes even with headphones and repetition these triggers have a hard time shutting off the internal noise of to do lists, chores and general worries.

I have also found that "meditative doodling" or Zentangling as some folks call it is a great way to quiet the noise and spark daydreaming. Zentangling is a method of pen and ink drawing that is focused on weaving together shapes and repeated patterns within a defined drawing space usually just a few inches square. It starts with a simple "string" that gives the shapes the patterns will follow. Choosing which pattern fills each shape and how they fit together forces you to make quick creative choices. It's like a jumpstart for the creative process. While the repetition of the patterns leaves room for your thoughts to wander. It's a very relaxing experience and can get your creative juices flowing, like yoga for your brain.

In addition to sparking those creative juices, you end with a pretty drawing. So, you still have that sense of accomplishment even if what you were thinking about while you were drawing is an ongoing project. I have been using this method over the past few weeks to try to wrap my brain around some of the revisions in The River Maiden with great success. zentangle

Here are a couple drawings that I've done while thinking about what will happen next to Dermot and Sarah.


If you would like to learn more about Zentangling you can check out for more info.

You can also see some more examples from people better at it than I am on my Pinterest board.








If you're interested in reading more about daydreaming and how it can be a powerful thing, check out this article from Psychology Today.

"A Man of Worth"

If you know me at all, you probably know that I am a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I won't spend this post gushing about how great these books are. (But you should really read them if you haven't yet.) There has been big news of late about this series though. Starz and former Battlestar Galactica producer Ron Moore are working on a TV series based on these books. I'm super excited about that prospect. I can't wait to see these delicious characters on my TV screen. However like any good fan girl, I have my concerns. This is mostly because I've not been too impressed with the Starz shows that I have watched. (Camelot comes to mind.) But with the addition of John Dahl who has directed episodes of shows I love like Justified and Breaking Bad to direct the first couple of episodes, I have hope. I'm also fascinated by watching the process unfold. It's interesting to see how a book series with such a loyal fan base makes that journey from on the page and in our heads to the screen and the role that Gabaldon is playing in that journey.

When the character of the series hero Jamie Fraser was given to an actor who is relatively unknown in theheughan US, Sam Heughan, the reactions ranged from joy that we had a face to put on the character to outright revolt that he wasn't Chris Hemsworth or Gerard Butler or some other hot and/or Scottish actor that certain fans had been picturing in their heads.

Initially, I was satisfied that Gabaldon saw his screen tests and said, "He is Jamie." If the woman who created the character is satisfied, then so am I. He is after all her creation. She ought to know. Then as I watched some of this unfold, I'm getting more and more excited about this choice.

There is a lot of pressure that goes along with getting a part like this. There is the rabid fan-base, that is only going to get larger when the show hits people's screens. And there is the 20 years that people have had to fall in love with this character and build him up in there own minds. And then there is the character himself.

Jamie Fraser is a complicated guy. He's politically savvy and charismatic but also fiercely protective of his family by blood or by choice. He's industrious (spoiler alert) from helping to manage the family farm, printing business and smuggling business in Scotland to leading a colonial outpost in Western NC, to being a colonel in the Revolutionary army. Jamie is a natural leader, a man who helps build and hold together communities just about wherever he goes.  As he says in the books he longs to be a "man of worth". He doesn't mean monetary worth, he means a man of value to his community and extended family. That leads Jamie to get into some interesting situations, but he is steadfast in maintaining that attitude.

Now, I'm not saying that Sam Heughan is Jamie Fraser in real life, but I will say that he seems to be approaching his impending stardom with a similar attitude. An actor in his position could easily celebrate getting the role and then put his head down and do the work without getting involved in public conversations with fans. I for one wouldn't complain about that. I want this show to be successful and I want him to be successful in the role and whichever path he needs to take to be successful he should do that.

However, Heughan has gone above and beyond in embracing the existing Outlander fan base. He engages with them and with Gabaldon almost daily on twitter. He updates people on his preparations and the aspects of the show that he is able to talk about (without giving spoilers of course).  He shares pics on Instagram probably knowing full well that he's providing fantasy fodder for any number of ladies and probably some gents too.

That alone would be great stuff for fans hungry for news about the series, but like his character Heughan seems to be taking it a step further. Prior to this role he raised money for Leukeamia & Lymphoma Research, but doing things like running the NYC Marathon. Now some of the aforementioned Outlander fans calling themselves Heughan's Heughligans, have been inspired by Heughan to raise awareness and money for his chosen charity, and he has embraced their efforts.

In a world that seems to eat stories of misbehaving celebrities like candy. It's nice to see a rising star who is making an effort in the other direction. While it's too early make judgements about Heughan's performance, I think impulse he seems to share with Jamie Fraser to be a "man of worth" shows more about his ability to get inside this character than good looks, red hair or a Scottish accent.

If you would like to help the Heughligans raise money you can go to the Just Giving site.


If you're a Sam Heughan/Outlander fan, you can also order some Heughan's Heughligans gear on their Zazzle store.


More than the resting place of Tamerlan Tsarnaev

It's not everyday that our little county makes the news, but it happens occasionally. Today, however Caroline County was in the news in a big way, and not for anything that anyone who lives here did. You might have heard by now that Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been buried in Doswell, VA which is in the southern part of Caroline, about 10 miles from my house.  Personally, I don't think it matters where he's buried and I don't really think it should matter to anyone but his family. The most important thing about Tsarnaev's death isn't where he's buried. It's that there is one less terrorist plotting to hurt innocent people. And by terrorist I mean a person who hurts or kills innocent people, causing mass terror to make a political/religious point. I do not mean Muslim, Chechen Separatist, Arab or any other specific ideology, nationality or religion. Fundamentalism of any stripe is dangerous and leads to that kind of behavior. I would like to think that through reason, kindness and tolerance potential terrorists could be reformed, but that's maybe not so realistic.

There are actually two things that do bother me about Tsarnaev's burial in my neck of the woods.

First - We're a very small and frequently cash strapped rural county. My husband likes to say we live in the Middle of Nowhere. I prefer to view it as the Edge of Somewhere. We're just 25 miles north of the state capital and only 75 miles south of the nations capital, but we're also 10 miles from the nearest grocery store. Here's the Wikipedia page on us if you're looking for more info.  Unfortunately, as idyllic as this rural setting can be it has it's issues, and funds are one of them. Our schools are barely adequate, no matter how hard the teachers and administrators try. Our county water system consists of a series of wells, some of which are prone to run dry in hot summer months. Our police and fire departments do their best to cover 539 square miles.

Now, they have to focus additional attention on protecting one small cemetery near the county line from vandals and hate crimes, whether they like it or not that is their job.  But our county doesn't have the money for that. So, I would like to ask Martha Mullen who arranged the burial how she thinks we should pay for her doing her "Christian duty".  Should the county put off digging a new well, or layoff one of my children's teachers to pay for the additional law enforcement around a cemetery that otherwise wouldn't need it?  Those are the kind of decisions that our county Board of Supervisors face every year, and unexpected expenses like this cause real repercussions for those of us living here.

Second - Caroline is actually a really nice place with some great people in it. On of my favorite things to do around here is ride through the back roads of the county and it really is beautiful. My Instagram followers will be vary familiar with some of the sights here. It's full of rolling hills and tree farms and gorgeous historic homes and a rich history.

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But like everywhere, we also have some bad apples. When the news broke today, some residents were actually calling 911 to voice their displeasure over the burial as if they could send police out with sirens blaring to stop something that happened yesterday. I've seen some of the comments on facebook and in our local paper loaded with intolerance. What the Tsarnaev brothers did was horrific, and inexcusable and people are angry about it with good reason. Unfortunately, I have no doubt that at some point someone from here or from outside the county is going to vandalize that grave or the whole cemetery. They are going to show the intolerance and bigotry that simmers under the surface of American society in ways that will not affect Tsarnaev or his family but will hurt the families of the innocent people buried there.  I would like to think that we're better than that, but just like reforming fanatics that too is probably unrealistic.

That should not be the face that Caroline shows to the world. There is a lot more to our home than one cemetery.  For me, this is the place where my ancestors first owned land in America after coming here as indentured servants. It's also the place where William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame was born. This is where John Wilkes Booth was killed after assassinating Abraham Lincoln. Until recently this was the home of Boy Scout Jamboree. This is where Secretariat was born.

Most significantly on the subject of tolerance, Caroline was the home of Richard and Mildred Loving.  The Lovings grew up in Caroline, but were forced to leave when their interracial marriage was discovered by local authorities. At the time miscegenation was illegal in Virginia and many other states. The Lovings challenged that law, and in 1967 the Supreme Court found anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. If it weren't for the Lovings and their desire to live here in Caroline, those laws might have taken a lot longer to be struck down. There are a lot of couples in America who owe the legality of their marriage to the Lovings. Here's the trailer for an HBO film about them.

I sincerely hope that my neighbors of all creeds will put their best feet forward while the world is watching our little corner of Central Virginia. I would like for Mildred Loving's beautiful and determined face to be the face that represents Caroline County to the world, not the face of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and not the face of intolerance.

First quarter of 2013 - Overcoming Inertia

Now that the bombers have been caught and America (especially those of us who live and/or work near target cities like D.C.) can let out that breath we were collectively holding through most of last week, I can get to that blog post that I had been planning before last week's tragedy. I didn't so much make a New Year's resolution for 2013 as a sort of pledge to myself at the beginning of the year to step out of my comfort zone. If left to my own devices, I would be a hermit and by hermit, I mean never picking up the phone, only communicating through email and only going to the store to buy food and craft supplies. I am by nature and introvert with a capital I. This is one of the reasons that being a writer is a good fit for me. It's also one of the reasons why my writing and other creative efforts tend to fly under the radar.

Through an unfortunate series of events toward the end of 2012, I was rather forcibly made to look at the state of my life, career, accomplishments…and realize that I was pretty much being that hermit that my little hater (for a definition of "little hater" see this video) would like me to be. I did a little research and realized that two of the professions in America that are most prone to depression are Writer and Stay-at-Home-Mom and for much the same reason. The work is solitary, and the recognition of success is almost non-existent. Oh, and the pay sucks.

Of course as a Write-at-Home-Mom I'm like a Double Strength Depression Magnet. This is not to say that I was depressed or am now nor was I in January, but I did suffer from Post-partum depression after my daughter was born, so I know enough to recognize the turn off for that bumpy road to Misery Town.

It became strikingly apparent to me that if anyone was ever going to read the novel that I had just finished much less publish it, and if I was going to emotionally survive the process of submission and rejection that will eventually get me there, I would have to start interacting with more people and putting myself out there.

So instead of a resolution, I personally declared this the year of stepping out, putting myself out there for people to see and basically changing what normal is for me. With that in mind. I did a number of things.

  • I cut off the long hair that I'd been hiding behind for years.
  • I joined a gym, and started going to classes. For an introvert who's been overweight since puberty, I can't overstate how big a step it is to work out in front of other people. It's huge.
  • I joined a local critique group where writers come and read their work to be critiqued in person. I'm no stranger to public speaking, I actually enjoy it, but it's a first for me to be reading/speaking in front of people about anything other than tax software or instructional design.
  • I joined a very thorough online critique group that tackles one member's novel every 2 weeks. I like this because it forces me to stick to their schedule instead of pushing things off as I am prone to do. And right now, they're all reading The River Maiden. I can't wait to hear their feedback.
  • I eventually started working with a personal trainer.
  • I sent The River Maiden out to beta readers. This is very big, because it's been in my head for over 10 years. These characters are very personal to me, and I feel protective of them.

My results have been a little mixed. I haven't lost as much weight as I think I should have in 3+ months, but I am much more physically fit than I was in January (and probably have been in years), and I push myself further every week. I also feel 100 times better than I did last year. I'm actually starting to enjoy the feeling of sore muscles and dripping sweat. I learned that even when stepping out of my comfort zone, I'm not interesting in getting my hair cut every 3 weeks which is the approximate time that it takes from my short curls to grow from cute and sassy to old lady hair helmet. So, I'll be letting it grow out a bit.

In the second quarter of this landmark year, I'm planning to…

  • Start querying agents for The River Maiden. I'm happy to take recommendations from anyone who knows a good agent
  • Keep showing my work to more people
  • Keep building my online social media presence
  • Overhauling my etsy store, something I've been putting off for too long.

…among other things. I'll update you on my progress.


"Choose a suitable design and hold to it."

I am a plotter. I think I've mentioned this before. I'm always amazed when I hear people say they just write by the seat of their pants. I can't even conceive of the idea of writing without knowing how something is going to end. Maybe it's my non-fiction background, or my academic bent, but for anything larger than flash fiction I have to have an outline. I think it was probably said best by those wise writing gurus Strunk & White. "Writing, to be effective, must follow closely the thoughts of the writer, but not necessarily in the order in which those thoughts occur."

This is not to say that I'm never carried away by a scene or character into something that I hadn't foreseen or planned. Much of the Alex Budge parts of The River Maiden were expanded based on the strength of the character as he appeared in my head while I was writing. Still, I start a project knowing where I will end and what things need to be covered along the way.

Now, I started writing The River Maiden years ago, and when I did I had a very useful mind mapping program that helped us turn abstract ideas into outlines. Unfortunately, since I no longer work for that company, I don't have access to that program anymore. So, now that I'm in the process of plotting the next book, and was looking for a way to get all of the various themes of this book that have been swimming around in my head into some sort of outline. I found a few methods for plotting a novel, including mind mapping as I had done before. But I also found the information about how to use a snowflake diagram.

That's a lot of very specific steps (so specific that they've now made software for it) that get down to more specifics than I'm ready for right now. Instead I'm using it help me layer the various themes of the plot. I have 6 main themes and each section is for outlining that theme and how it all fits together.  I built my own tool for using the snowflake diagram using a folding foam board.


This helped me brainstorm the different movements of the plot and how each of the main characters get to where they need to be at the end. Instead of going through all of those steps however useful they may be, I used the snowflake structure to organize my brainstorming. Since I've had some scenes running through my brain for a while now, this gives me a chance to get them out and organize the. Not all of these points of the snowflake have specific events lined up with them, but it does give me a look at what is needed to move Sarah and Dermot and company to where they will be at the end of this book. While brainstorming the plot, I used the side panels to note locations and characters who need to be fleshed out further. I did this with post-its on the board so that I can move things around as needed. This also enables me to use the board again for the next project (did I mention I'm cheap?).

Snowflaking as we've started to call it around here is becoming quite the thing. My six year old is even using it to plot her work-in-progress "The Day it Rained Kittens". I helped with the writing, but the plot points are hers. I can't tell you how important organization is when your story is being dictated by a six year old.


9 Unlikely Things I Learned While Writing The River Maiden

One of the things I love best about writing is research. I'm a naturally curious person, so it's just the way I operate. It's one of the reasons that I fell into training in my corporate life. I just wanted to know how things workphone pics 232ed and I didn't mind explaining what I learned to other people. It struck me the other day when I caught myself reading up on the parking brake of a 1990 Honda Civic, that I've learned some unexpected things on my way to finishing this novel. There are the obvious things; Celtic lore, Appalachian culture and off the grid living. Naturally,  my Gaelic vocabulary has increased about ten fold.  there are also some unlikely things. These are things that I wouldn't have thought of until I got to that point in the novel, things that I probably wouldn't have Googled if I hadn't been writing this book.

1) The basic geography of Nova Scotia.

2) This looks like an awesome place to spend a summer vacation.

3) The little blue house on Ransom St. that I used to live in is no longer blue, no longer has a porch swing and has fallen even further into disrepair.

4) The basics of moonshining. I watched a lot of how to videos. Here's a relatively short one.

If you're interested in moonshine or moonshiners you should check out these videos about the late Popcorn Sutton who was part of the inspiration for the appearance and voice of Alex Budge.

5) How to malt barley and corn for making liquor.

6) Recipe for peach brandy.

7) The path of ocean currents from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Maine.

8) The basics of disarming someone with a handgun. Just one of the many ways it pays to be married to a former Marine.

9) And, of course, this is the parking brake of a 1990 Honda Civic.

My Big Chop

Shortly after I graduated from college, I stopped by my paternal grandmother's house on my way to the beach and she asked me when I was going to cut my hair short, not if but when. The implication was that all grown women had to cut their hair short as some final rite of passage. Seeing as I inherited my curly hair from the woman asking the question, I thought it was kind of odd. At the time it just seemed a shame to me to cut those curls. They were part of who I was. I was Meredith, the one with the curly hair (I went to college with more than a few Merediths.) There was absolutely no question in my mind of ever cutting my hair short.  IMG_20130107_151923Flash forward 17 years and my attitude was very much the same. Sure I had cut it up to my shoulders occasionally, but when you're lucky enough to have curls like mine it just seemed a shame to cut them off. Until I realized a couple of weeks ago, that I wasn't really enjoying having my curls anymore. Here I was with curly hair down to the middle of my back, but I was pulling them up into a bun pretty much every day.  Hair that long takes work and curly hair takes work, and as a mom, I just wasn't putting in the work anymore. I was in a rut, and it wasn't just my hair. Lots of moms go through this. We get so focused on getting things done, and making sure everyone else is prepared for stuff that we don't really take care of ourselves.

So, I decided late last week to give myself a jump start, shake things up if you will. In my case, it starts in the form of a haircut. I know you're probably floored, right? But for a curly girl like me this was a huge change.

Let's start with a little background on my hair. First, I didn't have hair until I was about 2 years old. As you'll see if you scroll down to the pics, I've spent the last thirty-six years making up for that.  Once I started growing hair, it came in thick and curly. The trouble with that is that my mom's hair is straight. This means that the person most inclined to help a growing girl with grooming tips and the like, had no idea what to do with my curls. So, the solution when I was about 10 was to cut it off.  So my mom took me to her hair dresser, a really very nice lady who worked out of her basement shop and loved to chat with my mom while she cut my hair. This would have been a lovely Steele Magnolias kind of moment in a a girl's life, if the woman cutting my hair hadn't been telling my mother about how she needed EYE SURGERY. In my mother's defense she let the near blind lady cut her own hair too.  Thus began a rather strained relationship between myself and the haircare professionals of the world. Some have looked at my thick curly hair as their personal styling playground, some have just looked perplexed, and some have just completely half-assed it and cut it the way they would strait hair. Unfortunately, the result has been far more bad experiences getting my hair cut than good ones.

So, I was super careful this time when looking for a salon to cut my hair. I asked for recommendations. I checked Yelp and Google for reviews. And I settled on Salon 730 in Fredericksburg, mostly based on the reviews. Then there was the question of how to cut it. I had gone up to shoulder length in the past, but I was ready for something that required less maintance and more drastic. I wanted a pixie, a very short pixie. Now, I have two strikes against me when it comes to short hair. First there are the curls, and second I'm a big girl. So, while Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams might look amazing with their pixies, I'm aware that I'm not going to look like that. But I was ready to take a chance, and I'm glad I did.

20130107_110739So, I got up Monday morning and went to the salon. I told them what I wanted and they steered me to Kristen, who is not listed on their website, but who I can now recommend. I told her what I was looking for, showed some pics and warned her that I'd been burned in the past.  She completely understood and after making sure that I was sure about what I wanted to do, she put my long hair into two braids and chopped them off. Here's a picture of that carnage. We did the braids in the hopes of donating my hair to Locks of Love. Unfortunately, they do not take hair that has been bleached, and I did have strands in there that had been bleached.  Kristen thought they would take it anyway, but I called and confirmed after getting my hair cut that they couldn't use it. Bummer.

After a quick wash, Kristen proceeded to cut and style my now short hair into just what I wanted. She stopped and asked questions and verified what she was doing. She communicated with me while she was cutting my hair and not  about her need for eye surgery (Thank goodness), but about the change that I was likely to see with short hair and how to achieve that style on my own. It was absolutely the best experience I have ever had in a salon.

And, I'm truly happy with the result. I love the ease of it, and the fact that I need less of everything when dealing with my hair. Less time brushing it. Getting the tangles out of curly hair takes a long time. Less shampoo and conditioner. Less weight on the back of my head. I actually stepped on the scale the next morning and found that I had lost an entire pound. Yep, we cut off a pound of hair. Just less work in general. Plus, I can wear hats now! I was never able to wear hats before because they would never sit right over my curls.

I confess, there are moments when I miss my long hair a little bit especially when I feel the cold January wind on the back of my neck, but overall I'm very happy about this change. We also joined a gym last week, so who knows, maybe one change will snowball into more changes for the better.IMG_20130107_111543