Dec 19, 2014

Top 10 Christmas Movies

I seriously can't believe it's already the 19th! Due to our upcoming move, I must say this Christmas hasn't been as festive ( at least decor wise) as it usually is. We tend to go all out in decorating and trying to craft our family tradition, but this year we're focusing on two things: eating healthy holiday treats and watching our favorite Christmas movies.

Billy and I have a thing about watching old school movies, especially if they are rare and artistic.  We also enjoy classics that are meaningful. I could add a lot to this list, but for now, here are some of our favorite Christmas moveis!

A Monster's Christmas The monsters of the world are unable to sing Christmas carols anymore after losing their voices. A little girl decides to team up with them to confront the pretty amusing, gym loving witch who cursed them. It's the cutest little movie from New Zealand!

Muppet Christmas Carol One of my all time favorite movies! A Jim Henson spin on the Dickens classic, this movie is filled with lovable characters and great songs.

Scrooged  Please tell me you have seen this Bill Murray take on A Christmas Carol! It is hilarious!

Last Holiday I rented this movie when we lived in LA and Billy and I loved it. It is our must watch every year, probably because of the hotel in Czech Republic that the movie took place in. That plus the fact there is an emphasis on eating good food.

Munster's Christmas If you've been reading my blog for a while you know we love all things monsters. This 90s movie is one of our daughter's favorites! Freddie Munster isn't feeling very festive living in California, and to cheer him up the family decide to compete in a Christmas decorating contest. And Santa makes a visit!

A Holiday For Love If you're a sucker for Hallmark style Holiday romance movies, you will love this movie! A corporate guy from the city goes to lay off workers at a small town factory, only this get complicated. He doesn't have the courage to tell anyone they will have no job after the holiday, so lies and says he is on a business trip to possibly buy tractors from them. He falls for one of the factory workers and struggles to help find a solution to what the corporate CEO wants.

Cabbage Patch Christmas If you're a child of the 80s/90s you'll probably love watching this with your little ones!

The Snowman Ray Bradbury's beautifully animated classic. This movie is magical.

A Christmas Story I was never a huge fan of this movie until Billy and I spent one Christmas in New York. It was playing all day and night on one channel so kept tuning in on and off. We've been fans ever since. It's so well written.

The Happy Elf Another long time favorite of ours, this animated story follows the super energetic and enthusiastic elf that is determined to help one town get the Christmas it deserves.

What are your favorite holiday movies? Elf? Home Alone? Let me know in the comments!

Dec 15, 2014

How To Blog Better: An Interview With Jeff Goins On Persistence

Today friends I have another interview as part of my Simplify Blogging series. I am honored to have one of the top bloggers in the world, Jeff Goins of GoinsWriter, giving blogging tips. Jeff is also the founder of Tribe Writers and an author of several books.

SS:  First off Jeff, thanks so much for letting me interview you, it's a huge honor. I wanted to ask you right off the bat if you could tell us a little how it feels to be living your dream of being a published author, problogger, and speaker.

Totally my pleasure, Elizabeth. How does it feel? Hm. You know, I think we have this idea that a dream is all about "me," that it's ours. And I don't think that way, at least not any more. You are a caretaker of your dream. It's given to you so that you can share it with the world.

Over the past few years, I've realized that my writing isn't really mine; it belongs to my readers. And the fact that I have the opportunity — and responsibility — to do that full-time for a living is an honor. Honestly, it's not always fun, but it never feels pointless. And this was the thing I was missing earlier in life: the sense that what I was doing really mattered.

I think we all feel that way sometimes, like we're missing out on the true purpose or meaning of life. And all I can say is try not to ignore that feeling. It's telling you something significant.

SS: Tribe Writers has been a huge influence in my writing career. What prompted you to create the course? 

Wow. I just can't believe what you've done, Elizabeth. You are such a great example to others who will undoubtedly follow in your footsteps. Thanks for doing the work!

Tribe Writers was, like a lot of things, a response to something my readers were asking for. I tried to give away as much content as I possible could for free on my blog, and people still wanted more. I was getting literally hundreds of questions a day, and finally someone said to me, "Why don't you create a course? Make it a guided experience where you can walk people through your process."

So that's what I did. Eight months later, I had the first iteration of the course. And now two years and nearly 2500 students later, it's finally beginning to look like what I envisioned when I started it. Which taught me a lesson: it takes time for you realize certain dreams, but don't wait to begin them.

SS: There are many writers who want to write a book but put it off, or procrastinate. What suggestions do you have for people struggling with staying focused and pursuing their publishing goals?

The truth is this is most people. The New York Times did a study a few years ago and it revealed that over 80% of the population wanted to write a book. Obviously, we know most don't. So why is this? I think we could give a lot of answers, but for me it comes down to two things:

First, just because you have an idea doesn't mean you have a book. It takes a lot of work, a lot of planning and discipline, to write a book. Most people just aren't willing to stick with it, and often that's a good thing. We don't need a bunch of half-baked ideas turned into books now, do we?

Second, there's fear. My advice to anyone who dreams of writing a book is to write the book that won't leave you alone. If you find yourself continually talking about the same thing over and over, if you just can't get this nagging idea or story out of your head, then maybe it's there for a reason. Now, the next part is to push through all the fears of failure and being found out and just write.

Because the truth is you don't really ever write a book. You write a sentence. And then a paragraph. And then a page. And so on, day after day, until finally you have something, months or years later, that looks like a book. In other words, writing a book begins with a sentence. Don't make it into something bigger than it really is. If you can get up and write a few hundred words every day, you can write a book.

SS: Guest posting has been a huge part of you becoming one of the most successful bloggers in the world. I've noticed many bloggers ( myself included) tend to put off guest posting. Just how pivotal is guest posting to growing a blog?

Well, I don't particularly care about guest posting, per se, but as a writer you have to find a way to break into new audiences so that people can find you.
  Until you have readers who will wait for your next book or blog post, you have some work to do. 

And the best place to go to share an idea is where the ancient Greeks used to go: the marketplace. Go where people are gathering — whether that be on a blog, news site, forum, or social network — and engage in the conversation. Over time, as you share your own ideas, you can start attracting people back to your platform.

It just so happens that I think guest posting is the best way to do this. But don't get hung up on the language. Just start sharing your work where people are congregating, and do it in the most generous, helpful way you can.

SS: How does a writer balance spending time creating their newsletter, blog posts, guest posts, and working on their ebook or novel? Any time management tips?

Ugh. Good luck. This is hard. And it was meant to be difficult. If all you had to do to be a writer was write, then every journal would now be in a bookstore. But that's not the way it works, and maybe that's a good thing.

I think a writer has to focus first and foremost on her craft. Getting good is not a luxury in this world of noise; it's a necessity. But the temptation, I think, is to wait until you're perfect before you start sharing your work. And that's a recipe for never sharing a word with the world.

I suggest, quite pragmatically, to get good while you grow your platform. 

In other words, spend part of your time writing, part of your time growing your network, and par of your time finding ways to get published or paid. Even Hemingway did this. It's what professionals do.

That's what I think, at least. And if that's not helpful, here's a more formulaic answer: build your blog first, then create a newsletter, then guest post. The books will come in time.

SS: You recently launched Intentional Blog and I must say it is awesome. What prompted you to create a course specifically for bloggers?

I noticed that my course for writers was probably missing a lot of people who wanted to blog or grow their blogs but didn't consider themselves writers, per se. I disagree with that idea — if you write, you're a writer — but instead of trying to argue with them, I just created a course. 

I think that blogging is not going to go away, as some have predicted, but it is undergoing a major evolution and it will be interesting to see where it ends up. My prediction is those who focus more on creating great content (particularly long-form content) will win. That's what Intentional Blog is all about.

Top photo via Michael Hyatt
Middle: Jeff's Fanpage

Dec 10, 2014

The Importance of Health

Friends, we just got back from Bangkok and are trying to catch up on holiday decorating and work! We had a wonderful trip and hope to go back there soon. Today I have Emily talking about the importance of health, beyond losing weight. 

Hi everyone! 

This is Emily, stopping by for a visit from my blog, That’s What I Eat, where I tell the story of going from being obese and miserable to dropping 70 pounds and becoming an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I’m so excited to stop by and meet you today! 

This past week something happened to me. In my work as a health coach, I find myself discussing weight a lot. “I want to look good in my skinny jeans,” or “I just want to be confident in my appearance,” are statements I hear a lot.

 And believe me, I get it! Since losing all my weight, I feel so much more confident and happy with my appearance. It’s fantastic! But sometimes something happens that reminds you of the real why, the real reasons behind wanting to be healthy and live better. 

 This past Monday, a neighbor friend of mine found a child that she babysits not breathing during his nap. From my house I watched an ambulance drive by and heard its sirens stop not long after passing. I ran up the street but still got there after the ambulance had driven away with lights not on, the siren quiet. 

They weren’t in a hurry, there was no need anymore. My friend was so distraught that they ended up calling an ambulance for her, too. Another neighbor, also a friend, was also visibly shaken. I found out later that she had been the one to perform CPR on the boy while waiting for the ambulance. I didn’t know the boy, had never even seen him. I don’t know his family.

 And yet, that night I didn’t sleep, spending the night instead watching my own babies sleep. A family out there had lost their child, and my friends had just experienced what no one should ever have to experience. As I went through my day the next day, my normal routines seemed almost meaningless. Who cares how skinny you are when babies are being lost? Why does any of it even matter? 

 But I believe health is about so much more than green smoothies and running marathons. It’s not about the vanity. True health involves every aspect of our lives. It involves looking our children in their eyes and soaking in their spirits. It involves loving our spouses and those significant to us with our whole souls. It is all about the people around us. It is about being involved in activities that are bigger than us, things that make the world better. 

  As I thought more about this, I realized that this is exactly why I do what I do. When it comes down to it, why do people want to be healthy? A small part of it might be so they look great in a bikini, but when you really dig deep, you find the reasons for health extend to the people around us. It is about soaking in the moments and enjoying the ride. I want to be healthy and strong so I can run and play with my daughters, so I can live as long as possible with my amazing husband, so I can be present for the people in my life. 
 I am so sorry this happened. My heart hurts for the family, for everyone involved. But at the same time I am grateful for these little defining moments, the moments that remind you about what is important, about the big picture. So why do you want to be healthy?

What does the big picture look like for you? I would have to have you stop by and say hello! Sign up for email updates on my blog, That’s What I Eat, and come follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.