Dares, Goals & Guts

Project Extended Birthday continues!

My guest today is Elizabeth from Flourish in Progress.  If you’re not already reading her blog, consider this a public service announcement that your life is not as complete as you thought it was.  I have followed Elizabeth’s writing for a while, and she’s a total and complete badass.  I mean that as the highest possible compliment.  Her words are powerful, spot-on and pack such a punch.  She can make you laugh, cry and curse like a sailor equally well.  

I had the pleasure of meeting her last year at a blog conference in Boston, and she is as wonderful and entertaining in person as she is in writing.  Plus, I’ve never seen such a well-dressed, elegant woman start a pitch-perfect verbal bar fight quite like she could {it was totally justified, trust me}.  She prevailed, of course.

Her blog began as a way to chronicle her 30th birthday resolution of not shopping for a full year.  Yes, really.  Along the way, she acquired tons of followers and gave us some fabulous writing, including her not-to-be-missed Monday Dares series.  She was a BlogHer 2011 Voice of the Year and recently had her writing appear in — get this — The Huffington Post.  Which officially seals her position as one of my heroes.  

It’s such a treat to have her here — just don’t cross her in a bar.  

Thank you, Elizabeth!


I stopped making a long list of Ways I Will Vastly Improve Myself to ring in the New Year almost a decade ago. Sure, I still “commit” to one or two things at the beginning of the year, but it’s mostly because I need a quick and easy answer to spit out when those overly chipper women at afternoon pick-up ask repeatedly for a span of about three weeks in January how I plan to change my life for the better. I’d like to be honest and say the best way to boost my mood on a daily basis would probably be to stop making forced small talk with them, but who has that kind of courage? Well, maybe you do, but I’m a coward. I’m very self-aware of this flaw, but I don’t plan on changing any time soon, so I’ve learned to just put up with me.

Instead, I save all of my Self Improvement Goals for my birthday.

Some years, I can’t muster up much more than “Try really hard not to steal money from my daughter’s piggy bank because I’m too lazy to go to the ATM and I really want to eat lunch at the cash-only noodle joint.” This might not seem like such a big deal, but trust me, I wrestle with this on a weekly basis.  I have yet to pay her back a single penny. My secret hope is that she just thinks she’s an extremely bad money counter, and in fact, there were only $43 dollars in the bank instead of the $49 she thought she had when she last counted.

Other years, I mean business. My birthday is in September, so this usually happens after I’ve spent an entire summer reading self-improvement books on how to be happier or healthier or craftier or less ghetto. I’m still open to all the improvements listed. Except for the “less ghetto” part. If you took out that very integral part of my being, I’d just be an empty shell.

On my 21st birthday, I made a commitment to stop living on welfare. I was a single mom with a high school diploma and a 2-year-old. I felt trapped and I felt helpless. Actually, what I mean to say is that I felt hopeless, not helpless.

I had been stuck in a rut- moving from one temporary home to another, working menial jobs and barely scraping by. I didn’t think my life could be any other way.

As I woke up on my 21st birthday, the first words to cross my mind were “SCREW THIS.” That simple statement ignited a fire to climb out of the hole that I had dug for myself and to be the kind of person that my daughter would proudly claim as her ma.

It was slow-going at first, but that’s the thing about doing something hard. You’re unsure at first, maybe even afraid, but each step makes you feel more empowered.

My daughter recently turned 12. And I know now that all of it, every hard grimy little bit, was worth it.

Happy Birthday, Kim. I feel so fortunate that we crossed paths. If you are the picture of 40, then I can’t wait to get there.

Did you like this? Share it:


  1. Anna says:

    i love this. as a constant list-maker and claimer of self-improvement, i’m planning to take 40 off from all of it.

    thanks to you and kim both for reminding me of our fun boston times last year! we should so find some trouble nyc-style this august!

  2. Kim, thanks so much for asking me to guest post as part of your birthday month. I feel totally honored.

    • fordeville says:

      Thanks a million for being here, and for confirming that the post New Year’s resolution banter should be banished.

  3. christine says:

    Crying – what a story and I would have both your backs at a bar any day.

  4. Alexandra says:

    Love Project Extended Birthday and Love Flourish in Progress.

    What a perfect morning…

    BTW, Elizabeth can write it all: funny, smart ass, true to life, deep down in the guts. ALL OF IT.

Leave a Reply to Anna Cancel reply