Guest Pep Talk [Valerie Wilson]: NOvember

It started with the chair.  Several years ago, when my dad cleared out the house of anything resembling my childhood, he assigned some sort of family significance to this chair, so I took it in out of some weird obligation.  This chair sat in the corner of my room for 2 years, collecting dust and odds and ends.  Then the leg broke and wood glue couldn’t fix it.  The chair couldn’t fulfill its most basic purpose.

During a post-breakup shopping spree, I finally got a window seat for my room, which pushed the chair to the middle.

Maybe I should see if my dad can fix it.
Maybe I should ask my brother if he wants it.
Maybe I could fit it into our cramped living room.

Saying “no” goes against my nature.  Perhaps it’s a female thing, not wanting to seem selfish or confrontational.  Or a yolo thing, not wanting to miss out on everything while I’m still young.  Or a polite-child-of-the-suburbs thing.  But whatever it is, it’s obnoxious.  Saying “yes” all the time is why I continued to get the grunt work at my previous job.  It’s why I get stressed out from an overbooked schedule.  And it’s why I put way too much thought into an otherwise generic, decrepit chair.

It was time to give no f***s (à la Alison).  Because it’s just a f***ing chair in the middle of my tiny apartment.  After a very quick, very amusing trip to Goodwill on my bike, that chair, that guilt, and that weight were gone (well.. at least until I mention it to my dad).

Then NoExNo came around again.  Two years ago, I set out to start a new blog – a success in that I started it, but a failure in that I didn’t keep it up.  Last year, I resolved to meditate once a day, but try as I might, I couldn’t consistently find time to do that in the morning.  10 minutes of my time each day and I couldn’t do that for myself.  This year, I wanted to get to the root cause of the excuses.

I’ve been realizing that every time you add something to your life, something else gets pushed aside – so it was time to see if the opposite was true.

My successes so far this month:

  • Taking out the chair really opened up my room, resulting in fewer stubbed toes and, randomly, more stretching.
  • I felt horrible telling a friend who lives close by to wait until my schedule cleared up to hang out, but I ended up enjoying his company more a week later.
  • I said no to a side project at work that I honestly didn’t have time for and no one questioned it, despite how I figured it would go down (go figure).
  • Following other NoExNo-ers, I removed Facebook from my phone, so now during lunch breaks, after I check emails and Instagram of course, I have nothing else to do but relax and space out.
  • I sent this pep talk to Allison before I really felt done.  I remember hearing somewhere that perfectionists should aim for 80% perfect, because the rest is a waste of time and energy.
Look at all that room!

Look at all that room!

And the failures, since I’m, sadly enough, only human:

  • I should’ve said “no” to a good friend I recently dated, who I’ve hung out with post-breakup more than I ought to.  Despite it being his decision due to the circumstances, his feelings are still very ambiguous.  He didn’t say f*** yeah last weekend, so I should’ve said a firm f*** no.
  • A friend asked me to be a reference for a position she applied to.  How could you say no?  I instinctively said yes, despite not remembering much about the projects we’d done together.  I really could do without having to spend time reading through old emails and piecing together old memories in the middle of a big work project.  Ugh.

    No matter what goal you set this month, think about what in your life isn’t helping you reach it.  Anything that doesn’t want you to be your best, healthiest, or happiest is probably not worth it in the end!

    Valerie is a San Francisco cyclist, dancer, climber, nerd, introvert, and stress monkey (yet not a hipster, although I guess hipsters never admit to being hipsters..shoot).

Guest Pep Talk [Martha Caldwell]: Keep Calm and Love YouTube

keep-calm-and-love-youtube-6This No Excuses November has been a different sort of experience for me.  The last two years I easily picked a goal and knew exactly what I wanted. This year, I feel a bit lost.  Maybe it’s because I frantically changed my goal at the last minute.  My original plan was to give up YouTube.  I should now confess that I have a full blown YouTube addiction.  I discovered YouTube in its true “people get paid to create ‘content’ on a regular basis through channels” form a little over a year ago.  (I use the work “content”  in quotations because of the extreme variability of the definition of that word.)  Since that time, YouTube has become my primary brainless form of entertainment.  I watch YouTube more than normal TV programming.  I am subscribed to a lot of channels/creators and these 3 to 20 minute videos have brought me endless joy.

However, this happiness brought with it a bit of embarrassment. I am very aware the primary YouTube viewer is a teenage girl.  Most of the videos I watch are very dumb and as a result of this addiction, I have almost ceased to read.  I used to be a voracious reader and that was no longer the case. I missed books and I didn’t know if I could achieve balance without getting rid of YouTube completely.  On top of that, this new form of entertainment had me experiencing a lot of self-imposed anxiety about needing to be productive, well-read and cultured. I am unfortunately the type of person that has a really hard time relaxing.  I make lists and set goals and this YouTube thing did not fit into this mold. It felt juvenile. What was I doing wasting all this time?! My Type A self was ashamed.  YouTube is silly and it was time for me to grow up I told myself.  The original goal was born.

When I started sharing my plan with people, I noticed they were not as jazzed as I was.  The most vocal opposition came from my sister. My sister acts as a major sounding board for me and I look to her for validation and also honest, true feedback (even though that never always feels as great as validation). “If these videos make you happy and help you relax, I don’t see what’s wrong with that.  You don’t need to be productive all the time.”  I heard what she had to say but politely disagreed. Imagine all the time I would have without YouTube!  Imagine all the books I would read!

As I progressed closer to the Nov 1st goal, I really got to thinking about what it was I was trying to achieve.  If I wanted to read more, why wasn’t THAT my goal?   Ultimately, I sent a frantic text to Allison declaring “I just can’t do it!” and changed my goal to reading 3 books during November.  This past week, I’ve wondered a lot about whether or not this was the right decision.  Was my sister right?  Alison’s “Giving Zero Fucks” pep talk helped me solidify my answer. At a time in my life when I am trying to alleviate my anxiety, why did I think it was necessary to eliminate something that helped me do that? Instead, I could add an activity like reading that would help me get there faster.  I can find balance with both.  I need not be embarrassed of my YouTube addiction. Who CARES if it entertains me? Who am I trying to impress?  What I’ve learned the most this NoExNo is to evaluate what I want and why and to make self-care the measurement.  

Guest Pep Talk [Allie Seidel]: Why announcing your goal is half the battle.

Processed with VSCOcam with a4 presetCongrats! You’re halfway there! Goal setting is as much a part of my life for me as brushing my teeth or getting dressed in the morning (which, let’s hope, are two things that happen on the daily).

Since August of this year, I’ve chosen a few goals each month and have written about them publicly. (See August, September, October and current November goals here.) I’ve found that simply writing my goals down and making them public gives me an extra push to achieve them. Additionally, I love looking back and seeing something that seemed so far off at the time and realizing that I’ve accomplished it.

So naturally, I love NoExNo and have participated for a few years, some years with success, others not so much. My NoExNo goal this year was an interesting choice. I picked “launch the holiday line in my shop” even though I knew I had this planned for Nov. 3rd.  So did this leave the rest of November “goal-less” for me? Hardly. When I chose this goal, I knew that I needed to get the holiday line out earlier than the last day in November, so moving it to a later date wouldn’t help, and I was also aware that I could pick a “smaller” goal that I could technically be working towards every day in November.  But, since my biggest goal all month was the launch, the early date didn’t matter to me so much as the concept behind announcing it as my goal.

When I set that goal in October, I had no idea what the extent of my holiday line was going to look like. I had big dreams, but wasn’t sure how to reach them. It unfolded over the course of a few weeks to include stamps, 8×10 art prints, and Christmas cards, most of which were only far-off ideas when I set the launch date. Despite the uncertainties, I knew I needed to announce this goal in order to make it happen. This is why I love NoExNo, because everyone is announcing together, and I know that for me, this tiny steps makes a huge difference in helping to make my seemingly far-off goals a reality.

So, announce I did, on multiple platforms including NoExNo, and I set the date. The weekend before I was frantic, learning skills I didn’t yet have (hello, Photoshop) and spent many late nights and early mornings struggling through it. But, since I knew I had announced it, I pressed on because I had set this as a personal and public expectation. And then, magically it all came together and I launched it. And today, a week in, it’s live and it’s selling.

Sometimes achieving goals doesn’t look like a linear path, but more like a maze: two steps forward and fourteen steps backward, with plenty of road blocks and wrong turns, but the feeling I get when I finally accomplish my goals is the reason why I’ll hopefully continue to be a goal-setter (and goal-announcer!) for the rest of my life.

So, NoExNos, be encouraged! Know that by simply sharing you goal here, you are on your way to achieving it. Keep going after what you want, and telling people about it. You’ve already won by being courageous enough to announce your goal. Now, get after it!


Allie Seidel lives in Seattle with her husband. Find her sometimes blogging on, and always instagramming @allieseidel

Guest Pep Talk [Sarah Luery]: The Struggle

The dreadful beginning and dreamy end of Daylight Saving Time always remind me of how arbitrary the concept of time really is.

What is time exactly?

I have watched enough late night YouTube videos about String Theory to know with virtually no certainty that time is a dimension. Time is also a father. It is somehow associated with sand. It flies, usually in proximity to fun. And, despite the fact that we can for some reason move it forward or backwards (but only by one arbitrary time-unit!), it runs out. Probably more often than we would like.

White Rabbit: Don’t just do something, stand there… Uh… no no! Go go! Go get my gloves! I’m late!

These days, I feel like I have been channeling the White Rabbit, whose time seems to be perpetually running out. Each morning, as I wake up 15 minutes after I should have already left for work, and then proceed to play catch-up the entire day, usually working through my lunch break in order to make it to an evening art class or rock climbing session that I have added to my schedule to “de-stress my life,” before coming home to cook a 10pm dinner and read That Book for book club before going to bed too late to wake up for the alarms I have set for 6:00, 6:10, 6:20, 6:30 and (sigh) 7:30 (sorry, bedfellow Evan), I wonder why I keep falling down my own rabbit hole of being behindedness.

Whenever I remark to my dear friend Lisa about the difficulties of managing time in adulthood, she crunches up her hands into fists and tosses her head back to declare, “Sarah! It’s the struggle!” It always makes me feel better to know that it has such a noble name. The. Struggle.

But what is behind all this madness?

I have no idea. But I do have two guesses.


  1. That Little Voice


In researching this PepTalk, which I would like to downgrade to simply a “talk” (lowercase T; no promise of pep) to lower your expectations, I found an infuriating quote, which I wanted to share:

Image 1

BLEH. I mean seriously. The quotes around busy? VOM. What kind of guilt-inducing madness is this!?

If you REALLY cared, you would find the time.

The subtext?

The way you are doing things isn’t good enough. YOU aren’t good enough.

Unfortunately, this sentiment doesn’t just come from a sad Internet girl on a bench in the middle of winter with all her feelings tucked away in a single shoulder bag.

It’s everywhere.

It’s uttered by your gym shorts as you come home from a long day of work and need to get dinner started for the kids. It’s whispered by your Netflix queue as you spend a night out with friends, and by your friends when you spend a night in with Netflix. You hear it from your parents who want you to visit more often, and your grandparents who want you to visit more often, and your best friend from college who lives in another state and wants you to visit more often. It comes from your boss at work who needs you to put in those extra hours, and your DIY project that you hope to craft into your side business and your Blue Apron box sitting un-opened in the fridge because you have declared that you will Cook With Seasonal Ingredients Three Times A Week, by golly!

And it comes from within.

Which brings us to:


  1. Expectations

Image 2

[Presented with an eye-roll]


Sometimes, it seems like the solution to everything we are doing wrong is *just* to do it better.

In fact, if you listen closely to That Little Voice (whether it is coming from your mom, your boss or yourself), it seems to also offer a solution for how you can *just* do it better — an expectation for action.

Not seeing enough progress at the gym? If you really cared you would *Just* workout more frequently/longer/harder. If that means you have to cut time from other things, so be it. Aren’t you dedicated? Don’t you want it? Or do you not want it enough?

If you perk your ears up, you can probably hear a storm of voices telling you how you can be better – a better friend, a better colleague, a better constituent. And you can probably hear a flurry of expectations within yourself for how you can be the person you want to be – Eat better! Exercise more! Call your family more often! Write more! Watch less TV!

And if we would, we could.

But there are only 24 arbitrary time units in a day, and we just can’t do it all.

Sometimes, we have to learn when to say ‘Uncle.’ We have to figure out how to allocate our time in ways that perpetuate our growth and nourish us, but we also have to learn how to build in time to rest, rejuvenate, and replenish.

And this, I think, is The Struggle. Knowing when to say yes, and when to say no. When to step forward and when to take a back seat. When to stop and when to go.

These days, I am starting to suspect that there is no magical moment at the end of a task when everything falls into place and we can breathe a sigh of true relief. There is always something else beckoning to us; something new needing our attention.

So I am trying to learn to put on the brakes, even when it feels like the job isn’t yet done. Or maybe, especially when it feels that way. This is why, for the month of November, my goal is to take my lunch break every day.

Because the work will still be there when we get back. But another thing about time? It slips away. And it will continue to do so unless we grab it at those inopportune times, like now.

Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to channel that White Rabbit after all.

White Rabbit: Don’t just do something, stand there…


Sarah lives in Los Angeles.  She enjoys audio books, art class (” ‘Cause adult education’s a wonderful thing”), rock climbing, and listening to Maria Bamford on repeat.  She is doing the best that she can.


Guest Pep Talk [Alison Kranz]: 14 Things I’ve Learned from 14 Months of Giving Zero Fucks

Above, my Zero Fucks Protégé Haley and I demonstrate the Team Zero Fucks secret hand signal which combines the round “zero” of thumb and forefinger with the ASL sign for the letter “F” to provide a comprehensive sign that laymen assume means “AOK.”

Recently, I realized I have three guiding life tenets:

  1. Give zero fucks
  2. If it makes you laugh, do it
  3. Say what you mean and mean what you say

For the sake of this post, I will focus on tenet #1, which I have upheld wholeheartedly since August 2013. Note that I am referring to “fucks” as a noun (though there was a sad, dark expanse of time where I was upholding “zero fucks” in its verb form as well).

You might think “zero fucks” is the opposite of “no excuses,” but I assure you it’s not. At its essence, “zero fucks” means “say yes” and “just do it”; don’t spend too much time overthinking your actions, and certainly don’t spend any time caring what others think. Eliminate that doubt and do what you know, in your gut, is right for you.

Here are a few things I’ve learned from my ongoing practice of giving zero fucks:

  1. If you are tall and wondering whether or not to wear those five-inch platform heels, the answer is “yes.”
  2. You have no responsibility to respond to text messages from your ex. Especially when he refers to you by an old pet name.
  3. As soon as someone says something the least bit offensive on a dating website, block them—that’s what the command is there for. (“I would love to sniff your ass” is not an acceptable opening line.) Remember: If it’s not “fuck yes,” it’s “fuck no.”
  4. If you want to listen to one song on repeat for an entire month, do it. (Exhibits  A, B, C, D, E, F.) And be sure to sing at the top of your lungs. Definitely when you’re in the car, sometimes even when you’re walking across town.
  5. It’s your scrapbook. It’s totally okay if you want to fill it with pictures of unintentionally explicit newspaper headlines and store signs you’ve come across.
  6. If you’re a lady, the pickup line “Excuse me, would you like to makeout?” is very effective on the gentlemen.
  7. Your iPhone autocorrect is smart enough to change “makeout” to “MAKEOUTS.”
  8. If Lady Gaga is playing a show on a Saturday within driving distance from your house, you buy a ticket. Even though you’ve already seen her once this year. (She is the original zero fucks inspiration, of course.)
  9. It’s all right if you want to watch Aziz Ansari’s Buried Alive special seven times within as many months. You’ll still laugh out loud every time.
  10. When you bicycle home in the morning from the house of the HOT MAN you’ve been seeing, refer to it as a “bike ride of pride,” which is the exact opposite of a “walk of shame.”
  11. If you are feeling like you are giving too much of a fuck, go out for a (really fast) run until your brain is cleared.
  12. Life is too short for binding, underwired bras. Embrace the stretchy, soft cup bra, and—when it gets cold—let those nipples fly free. At least they’re comfortable when they do.
  13. Let people read your writing, even if you are afraid of showing a little too much of yourself (or others).
  14. No one’s stopping you but you.

I encourage you to embrace the practice of zero fucks this November and beyond. Who knows what might end up on your own personal list of zero fucks triumphs?


Alison Kranz is an editor, writer, observer, runner, and abundantly photogenic model. She likes wordplay, flânerie, typing, squares, surrealism, and consistent correspondence. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter at @alisondearest.