Sarah Grace McCandless

Teller of Stories. Yours. Mine. Ours.

Digital Strategist. Social Media Expert. Brand Marketing Guru. Seasoned Writer. Published Author.

Poor Man's Tina Fey. Dog Mom to Nancy Drew.

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Filtering by Tag: Project15

The Mistakes We Made

Today, we celebrate the art of public declarations.

Sometimes, just saying what you're going to do is all it takes to actually do it.

I don't know who is going to publish it. I don't know if I will self-print 50 copies and sell them out of the back of my RAV4 in Safeway parking lots.


These details do not matter right now.

What matters is I love this project. What matters is I am embracing the idea, and making the commitment to see it through and finish the collection.

Because what I do know is this: I. Am. A. Writer. And this is happening. 

I'm not writing this book to fill a spot in some publisher's marketing program, or a line on a P&L statement. And I'm not writing this book to become a household name...though I certainly wouldn't kick that outcome out of bed, should it happen.

This month marks 10 years since my first book came out, and 8 years since my second book hit the shelves.

And now it's time for my third, but this time, I am writing for one simple, true reason: I have stories to tell. And I think I'm pretty good at telling them. And maybe you will want read some of them, or even all of them, and find something worthwhile in my words.

I hope you'll come along for the ride. 

More Than Words

Like millions, I was saddened to wake up to the news of Maya Angelou's passing this week. A beautiful, profound life so well lived, and so robust with wise words. As a writer, this one of course speaks to my soul:

In terms of overall life, though, this is the one I anchor most to - and oddly enough, just shared through my own social channels less than a month ago:

I'll only know so much about how I truly made or make people feel while I'm still a part of this earth, because this is dependent on people telling or showing me this. I can and have made assumptions about how I impacted feelings, be it a stranger I never spoke a word to, and never saw again, or something who has been a staple in my life for decades or more.

The surest way for me to know is for it to come directly from the source. But do we feel safest to share how people truly made us feel only after they're gone, and unable to do anything with this information? 

That said, I also know is I can make choices that will likely lead to creating feelings that are more on the positive mark: appreciated, confident, loved. And I can make plenty of other choices in terms of my actions and words that really only have one possible outcome: negative residue, from the fingerprint to the permanent scar variety. 

The more life I live, the more I reflect on my choices past and try to make better choices present and future - to the point that part of my first and only tattoo ever, inked at the beginning of this year, includes an italian phrase that was the closest I could come to the sentiment, "Make good choices."

This is, of course, easier said than done on some days versus others.

But as I move through my days, my intent is pure. That I will make the kind of choices that create feelings of sincere care, concern, protection, inspiration, joy. That my life will be measured not by my last job title, or bank account balance, but rather by how widespread I can leave these kind of marks.

Back in the Saddle

I've been mapping out my #Project15 goals on a weekly basis, in pencil, and when I achieve the daily goals - be it a wellness mission or a creative one - I go over the pencil in permanent marker as a visual reminder of the accomplishment. 

This past week has looked a bit... different in terms of my tracking.

At first glance, this looks like a loss. Complete and utter failure. Thankfully, a very insightful man (who I happen to be married to) just reminded me that there's actually a significant win here.

And that is this: the best part about getting super sick is how much it makes you appreciate being well. How much it drives your desire for wanting nothing but good health. And clarity. And an appetite. And exercise. God, I'll NEVER bitch about working out again. I will embrace it. Daily. I'm gonna hard core make out with the fact that my body can run, leap, jump, dance. I'm gonna move. Move. Move.  

Traditional meds are great, and I will certainly finish the antibiotics and prescription-strength cough syrup as directed, but I'm adding a strong dose of mind over matter to my routine. I'm evicting sick. Effective immediately. 

So thanks pneumonia. 'Prec the life lesson, you little rascal, you.

Consider yourselves warned, world. I'm officially back - maybe not twice as smart, but definitely twice as strong.

Finding Your Voice

I started losing my voice today. Just my physical one, courtesy of what I won't admit is a chest cold that's leaving me with, at best, a dead-on impersonation of Kathleen Turner circa 1980s.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. 

By 3pm today, I had reached my lowest point of audibility. So I stopped trying to talk, and focused on my work. And listening. Some of the conversations around me made me laugh, and even that, to myself and soundless, hurt to do so.

That's also not necessarily a bad thing.

There are other types of voices, too. Mental. Spiritual. Creative. Physical not with your vocal cords, but with you body. So sorry, Universe: you managed to wrestle one away from me today  - temporarily - but you can't have the others.

Fresh squeezed, post-work juice from Greenleaf followed by quality time with Sonja. Then on to Pound at Pulse PDX (this may have not been my best idea, in hindsight - so sayeth my chest right now).

Cap it off with a twilight walk with my 13-year-old stepdaughter, who is having very real and very valid and very challenging moments that come with the territory. At that age, the last thing you want to hear, "You'll get over it," even though you are 99.7% they will. 

You just. Want. To be heard. 

So I listened. To her voice. Grateful to let it take it's rightful place, and to be a part of it. 

The Original Tumbler

When a three and a half hour drive, north and alone, turns into five, it's the perfect time to examine all the heavy rocks in your head - the anxious ones, the insulted ones, the angry ones, the fearful ones. Tumble them back and forth. Back and forth. A few more times. And once again. And by the time you hit the ferry to Whidbey Island, your car will be first in line to enter. Your view will be this. And in just 12 minutes or so, you will have reached the other side of the water, and you will realize that your rocks have indeed transformed, and turned into #Project15 gems.


Welcome to #Project15.

When you're headed into turn three on the final lap towards hitting the 40-year-old finish line, you best be armed with a strategy - and a good sense of humor.

With just three months to go until I blow out my candles, I recently started thinking about the same 15 pounds I gained over the course of a year or so, starting when I moved back to Oregon in Fall 2010 - and have been trying to lose for, oh, three years now. Not a daunting amount of weight to lose, and certainly not a goal that should take more than a few months at most. But it was just high enough of a number to annoy me, gnaw at me, beat me up, hold me back, knock me down, and hold me hostage. 

Why? Because I let it. 

I've also recently officially become the stepmother of a fabulous 13-year-old girl, and that changes the game. Significantly. I had to think about what kind of example I would be setting for her by obsessing over these 15 pounds. And not to sound like a Special K ad, but what was I really trying to lose. And gain.

I had to ask myself if this gnawing was truly about the physical weight. My acupuncturist told me a few months ago that weight, physical and emotional, is about protection and safety. So what exactly was I trying to protect myself from? 

Maybe myself.

15 pounds also got me thinking about 15 minutes, and how so few of us even take that small slice of time every day to make sure we are doing something that makes us fit and well, versus sick and feeble (and thanks to On Your Feet for introducing me to this concept).

Which is what led to the "A-ha," and that is this: it's not about the 15 pounds. It's about the 15. It's about a starting point, a marker of time, a commitment to myself to do at least 15 minutes of something that supports the overall concept of wellness, daily. For myself, or for someone else (as the latter is just another way of taking care of myself). 

I started listing the possibilities out into categories:

Movement: Something, anything, every day, for at least 15 minutes. Every damn day. 5K training run. Actual 5K (Starlight, I've got my eye on you). barre3 or Pound class at Pulse PDX.  And those Hip Hop Abs and Brazilian Butt Lift DVDs I so eagerly ordered after watching the infomercials aren't going to do themselves.

Connection: Sitting at the dining room table to have my dinner, TV/laptops/smartphones OFF. Focus on actual conversation. Listening. Volunteering with Girls, Inc. of NW Oregon. Making a juice, tea, brunch, happy hour or dinner date with my friends, my chosen family, and my blood family. Going for a walk with my stepdaughter to hear about her day.  Hitting the snooze button twice more in favor of extra spoon time.  

Creating: Working on my new book. Reading. Going to a reading or book signing. Finding opportunities like the Writers Workshoppe weekend in Port Townsend to remind me of who I am.

Nourishing: Planning my meals. Sticking to the plan. Trying new recipes. Revisiting Foodtrainers LBT and 4-Hour Body for guidance, because they make the most sense without going to extremes. Indulging occasionally. And not feeling guilty about it. And maybe a facial, mani/pedi, and deep conditioning treatment or two.   

So the goal is this: commit to seeing how many of these buckets I can hit every day from now until the birthday bash. Record and share my progress - the good, bad, and ugly. And most important, pay attention to what I'm learning, and have learned.

Today's #Project15 wins included a long overdue, follow up acupuncture appointment, making my first batch of antioxidant-fighting black rice as part of my dinner, and stringing together a series of barre3 online workouts as featured on Dr. Oz to hit that minimum minutes of movement I've promised myself daily. 

Day one? Check. Now let's see where this goes.