My Reverb13 Check-In Prompt

(It’s nice to dust off the blog here…)**

For the last few years, I’ve participated in the Reverb blogging campaign, an effort to reflect on the last year and use those reflections to manifest goodness into the next year. 2013 was the first year I actually finished all the prompts- and it was mind blowing!

It occurred to me that we’re now 6 months into the new year and I’ve felt a strong desire to take time to check-in with myself on the insights I made back in December and whether I’ve actually used them to make change in my life. I also realize that some of my ideas may seem utterly insane now that time has passed and I should probably even toss some ideas out of my head.

With the blessing of my Reverb twitter friends, and especially my lovely muse and Reverb captain Kat McNally, I put together the following 5 prompts if you also want to check in with yourself this July. Not all of these may be relevant depending on what you reflected on in December. Definitely pick and choose the questions that work for you.

It’s been six months since Reverb13 finished. You likely made some promises to yourself through your blog entires and it’s time to check in and acknowledge your accomplishments, hold yourself accountable, or change direction so that 2014 is an amazing year.

Look back at your Reverb13 entires and think about these questions. Reflect with words, images, or whatever works for you!

1. Choices: If you chose one, how are you honoring your word for 2014… or do you want to change it (feel free to pick a new word now!)?

2. Habits: How are you managing your habits? Are you still battling addictions, eliminating the negativity and turning-off auto-pilot? Have you added any new good habits? 

3. Priorities: Describe a single moment where you practiced self-compassion over the last six months. What did you do and why? 

4. Living: Show us your best memory to date. How can you make more of them just like that this year?

5. Dreaming: If we could grant you one wish that would ultimately make 2014 your best year ever, what would it be?  

I’ll be answering each question over here over the first two weeks of July. I’d love to read your responses, too, and will be checking the #reverb13 hashtag on Twitter.

** I’ve been taking advantage of tools like Tumblr and Medium to blog all over the internet the last two years rather than use my space here at The Opportunities Project. I am looking to change that in 2014. I used Tumblr to write all my 2013 entries. Here are links to the entries and the prompts. The categorization is mine in how I want to use my reflections to a better person, achieve more success, and experience more joy.


2013 Remembrances

2013 Insights and Lessons for 2014

2014 Promises

Reverb12 Prompt 5: Lushness


Prompt 5

What was your dream destination in 2012 and why?

It can be a town, city, country or region — real or imaginary — and doesn’t matter if you actually got there or not!

As I wrote in Prompt 3, I really wanted to go to Portugal and France, the countries of my heritage in 2012 before my body and mind told me no. While I hadn’t found a way to configure it in the trip I was planning, the place I really wanted to go was the Azores, an island of Portugal where I believe part of my mother’s family originates from, and where most people I grew up with can trace their families, also.


Image courtesy of Butterfly Diary.

A few years ago, my friend posted on my Facebook wall that Anthony Bourdain traveled to the Azores as part of his show No Reservations and I needed to watch it (video below). The episode starts out in the restaurants of the cities where I grew up, New Bedford and Fall River, Massachusetts, and Anthony talks about how specific Azorean food and culture is and how it’s different than mainland Portugal’s. He travels to the island, showing the world this green lush place that looks like paradise.

It was hard not to fall in love with this image. Plus, I just love islands. I feel like a clearer and calmer person the closer that I get to water. After watching that episode I imagined setting myself up at a café in the Azores, writing and eating glorious food in a sea of green.

Must have some Gaspar’s linguica shipped to Savannah and make some kale soup ASAP.



Reverb12 Prompt 13: Cheese!

Moving right along, Reverbers.



Prompt 13:

Please post your favourite picture of yourself from 2012, self-portrait or otherwise!

In February, I started using a social goals program called to work on my 2012 goals. It has a great interface and was developed by Brooklyn-based female entrepreneur, Jenn Vargas, who is completely lovely and an inspiration to anyone who wants to create something that is meaningful to the world and ship.

In addition to publicly declaring your goals on, you can accept challenges from the community and one of the challenges I accepted was to take a picture of myself every day in 2012.

I fell short. By a lot.

But if it wasn’t for the challenge, I wouldn’t have created a Dropbox folder for this project and taken 100 or so pictures of myself through the year and stored them. I learned a lot even in my half-ass attempt.

Taking pictures of myself over time has its pros and cons. On the benefit side… when I look at the pictures altogether, I feel more attractive than I often feel on a day-to-day basis. I’m not so bad on the eyes, world! On the negative side, I can physically see some of the health challenges I’ve had at different times this year etched on my face and it makes me wistful and also angry at myself for not taking better care of my body when I have had the opportunity to make better choices.

But enough of the reflection- here is the winner for my favorite picture. There were a few finalists, but most were private pictures that I took for specific reasons and I decided to keep them private even though they made my heart sing. My favorite picture is one I took of myself on Halloween as Effie Trinket of The Hunger Games. I hadn’t dressed up for Halloween since I was 12 and was worried about looking dumb, as well as wearing a short wig. So it represents a risk for me. But it also seemed to go over okay… ahem… especially with men.

Maybe more wigs are in my future for 2013?!?

October 31

Here is another shot with a flirty smile. Why helllllllooooooo Haymitch!


And my attempt at a serious look. Effie does send children to their death, you know.


Reverb12 Prompt 4: Celebrate

An unexpected family emergency brought me to Massachusetts for five days during the second week of December and left me behind in my work, among other things. I am finally resuming Reverb12. Lots of prompts to post, and most out of order. But let’s get restarted!



Prompt 4:

How are you going to celebrate your self this festive season?

I’ve been fortunate to hit a lot of personal and professional milestones this year and celebrate each one. In Prompt 1, I summarized some of my big personal wins. On the business side, I exceeded my revenue goal, am publishing a new career guide this month, and finished a complete draft on my labor of love project, The Professional Badass Playbook, a guide on how to establish new career habits and meet your business goals for 2013 (coming out soon!).

I’ve recognized my milestones by recording them in my OhLife and Grateful160 journals, having wine with a friend, and in some cases, even going to the spa and getting a massage. This has been huge because celebrating for me has always been tough. First, I have high expectations for myself so I always think I should be doing more and question what is worth a celebration. Second, things that feel like a true reward, like giant cupcakes and mac and cheese, have negative consequences, or in the case of massages, cost some serious dollars. I wish I could be one of those people who feel rewarded by long walks in the park, but alas I am not one. Yet.

I do realize that I get enjoyment when I share my wins with people who make me smile. So during December, I plan to celebrate myself by spending time with people who do that, including my niece and nephew as much as possible.

Isn’t he  handsome?


Reverb Prompt 3: Owning my Time

Prompt 3 of Reverb12 is a heavy one, developed by blogger Curlypops who has been on a transplant list for 457 days.

 Travel is a priority for 2013.

Prompt 3:

Living life on a transplant waiting list gives you lots of reasons to reflect on what you’ve achieved in your life, and what you wish for the future.

Imagine a scenario where you only had one year left to live. What is one thing that you really wish to do that you just haven’t had the chance to accomplish yet?

What steps could you take (however small) to ensure that you accomplish this thing in 2013?

I would travel, hopefully not alone. I’d sell my belongings and spend 50% of my time exploring the parts of the world and this country I’ve always wanted to see and never did. I’d spend the other 50% visiting the places I’d seen and loved the most, giving hugs to all the people who touched my life.

(Map courtesy of World Atlas)

I had planned to go to France and Portugal in October 2012 by myself after a big contract ended for me. As I was planning the trip in August, I became tired thinking about all the travel I had done for business this year and realized what I yearned for was time to nest with my new Savannah friends. As we enter December, I know that was the right decision even though I had the time and money to accomplish this goal. Now I have enough free miles for a free international trip and am ready to use them once I figure out a few questions about my professional life for 2013. I am also eager to convince a travel partner to come along (hint, hint…).

What’s your priority for next year?

Reverb Prompt 2: Vroom, Vroom

Here is prompt 2 of 31 in the Reverb12 campaign.

Empowerment takes various forms

Prompt 2:

What was your most significant expenditure in 2012?

It doesn’t have to be necessarily the biggest expenditure, just the one with the most impact.

What difference has it made to your life?

Too easy!

On November 30th, I bought my first car, a 2012 Nissan Versa SL Hatchback. Yeah, my first car was a new one and I bought it at age 37. I got my drivers license less than three weeks ago.

Since age 16, I’ve struggled with a deep anxiety of driving. Nope, never been in a car accident (someone suggested that I must have been in a past life- yes, she was crazy). Lessons in various periods of my adult life and therapy made little dents, and a big challenge was living in New York City since I was 20 years old. Maybe it’s just me, but I found it difficult to get comfortable driving in a constant video game. It also became a crutch for years as a reason I couldn’t leave New York because I was afraid I would never be able to function anywhere else.

I felt stuck.

Moving to Savannah was a perfect place to take this on. Don’t get me wrong- it was still not easy. But I hired a wonderful retired drivers’ ed teacher who took me out driving four hours a week during October and helped me get better and most importantly, manage my anxiety. I also worked with my coach Thekla on limiting beliefs around my driving issues. With the encouragement of a small group of loved ones, I finally took the dreaded road test and passed.

Beyond the anxiety,  I felt guilt and shame about driving. Guilt came from having to ask people to give me rides, though Tina Fey’s Bossypants helped a little. Shame came from not seeming able to do something that even people who seemed 90% brain dead could accomplish. But the reality is that not driving didn’t matter as much as my fear led me to believe it did. I know lots of people who drive but they haven’t visited 28 states and 5 countries or flew 60,000 miles in a year. My biggest realization the day after I got my license is how little my life had truly changed, as well as people’s opinions of me.

I’ve lived in Savannah for almost a year and the resourceful NYer part of me finds it a place you can navigate fine without a car, but it was something I wanted for myself. The impact of owning this car is tangible for sure, including opening up more business opportunities in the Southeast. But the biggest impact of purchasing the car is probably the realization that stuck was a false emotion created by my brain and nothing more.

Wish me luck getting better at parking!

I bought my first car this year.

Reverb12 Prompt1: The Pros and Cons of Being Present

It’s time for Reverb12! While I don’t get to blog as much anymore as I manage my business growth, I must make an exception for Reverb.

Reverb happens every December when bloggers reflect on the year that has passed and start to manifest their dreams for the new year. If you’ve been around since the start of my journey into self-employment and small business ownership, you may have read my entries for Reverb10. My job is to help people reach their goals and maximize their personal and professional development. Not all coaches or “experts” agree, but I believe I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my own challenges and triumphs from my experiments with pursuing my own dreams.

I missed Reverb11 because I was in the midst of moving myself 900 miles from New York City to Savannah, GA, last December. Inspiration to move first came to me through the understandings about myself and my goals that I gained through Reverb10.

I can literally confirm that participating in Reverb changed my entire life.

If you want to sign up for Reverb yourself, you can sign up here to get the prompts. Also follow the hashtag #reverb12 on Twitter to read what other people are discovering.

So here we start with Prompt 1 of 31.

Reverb12 has me present.

Prompt 1:

How are you starting this last month of 2012?

Take a moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask yourself the question: how do you feel…

… in your body? in your mind? in your day job? in your creative life? in your heart?

One of my favorite songs in the world is As Is by Ani DiFranco and today I found myself singing one the lyrics at the top of my lungs: “…cause when I look down, I just miss all the good stuff. When I look up, I just trip over things.”

I feel that way and that is why I am starting December present in my life.

2012 has been a year of personal growth and change that started with relocating to Savannah on January 2nd after 15 years as a neurotic, overstretched and dissatisfied New Yorker. Today, December 2nd, I took a road trip to Tybee Island in the first car I have ever owned with my boyfriend who I met this summer, and a friend I met in an entrepreneurship incubator who happened to find herself in this corner of the country. I stood at the edge of the water in my sundress on a 76 degree day in December and breathed in deep and thought of the person I was three years ago. I wondered what her reaction would be to me right now.

Honestly? Probably “Who the f*ck are you?”

I have decided I am okay with that.

Enjoying the beach as part of Reverb

Being present also gives you a chance to recognize what’s NOT working in your life. That would be my health. Since August, I have not felt in control of my body- it has been throwing me unexpected and unwelcome surprises. Some of what I feel is a physical cost of having reached what I wanted in my professional life so quickly, some of it is my denial of changes that come with age, and some of it is “just because.” I don’t have any immediate solutions, but I know that this is something I need to focus on in 2013.

I am enjoying my present because I set big audacious goals for myself in 2010 and I met almost all of them. Enjoying my present so much has made it difficult to figure out what other big and audacious goals I want to pursue in 2013 beyond more of the same. “The same” is a temporary place and I can’t wait for the Reverb12 to steer me in the right direction.

Announcing Our 2012 Scholarship Winners!

The Opportunities Project team is beyond excited to announce the winners of our Second Annual Scholarship Program

Congratulations to all of the 2012 Scholarship winners! We were so excited this year to be able to increase our program from three scholarships to five, and we even threw in an extra runner-up scholarship (because we can!). It took a three-person team to make our final decisions, and we can’t say it was easy!

Our entire team wants to say thank you to everyone who made the time and effort to apply. All applicants will receive a copy of Tracy’s book, Create Your Own Opportunities. We received some truly inspiring applications and cannot wait to get started.


At a Glance: The 2012 Scholarship Contest Winners


Heather Wiggins

Break the Ceiling Scholarship: Heather Wiggins

Heather Wiggins, based in the Washington, D.C. area, is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Wisconsin Law School, and The Catholic University of America’s School of Library and Information Science. She is currently a writer, entrepreneur, and also a Copyright Specialist at the Library of Congress. Ms. Wiggins enjoys reading, writing and traveling (especially to Jamaica—the place of her birth) and it is her goal to find ways to give back to the community and to encourage young people to receive higher education.




Ai Hirashiki

Social Entrepreneurship Scholarship: Ai Hirashiki

Ai Hirashiki is an educator with over 15 years experience working with schools, non-profits, community groups and youth organizations to develop and implement education programs.  She currently works as a consultant for the New York City Department of Education and various non-profits and is a student at NYC Farm School.  Ai is working on creating her own consulting practice to help educators and non-profit groups launch educational programs that revolve around urban farms and gardens and that focus on issues such as food justice, self-sufficiency, green skills development, nutrition and healthy living.


Kara Smith

Creative Development Scholarship: Kara Smith

Kara Smith is a painter and mixed media artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She also runs a small terrarium company called Undiscovered Worlds, and teaches terrarium making workshops to children and adults. She just began the Masters in Art Education program at Brooklyn College.



Alexandra Kenin

The Big Change Scholarship: Alexandra Kenin

Alexandra Kenin is a New Jersey native who now lives happily ever after in San Francisco. After earning her MBA in Marketing at The Wharton School, Alexandra worked as a Product Marketing Manager at Google for 4 1/2 years. She now is leveraging her online marketing skills to launch and market her new urban hiking business, Urban Hiker SF. Alexandra loves hiking (naturally), traveling (37 countries and counting!), road biking, yoga, and vegetarian food.


Shawndra Russell

The Big Change Scholarship: Shawndra Russell

Shawndra Russell is a novelist–her debut novel Couple Friends was released in August 2012–and magazine/newspaper freelance writer as well as a social media strategist for several businesses. She and her husband are launching a social media company based in Savannah, Georgia that offers analysis and live event coverage. You can follow her on Twitter here.



Faith Bell

Runner Up Scholarship: Faith Bell

Faith Bell a recent graduate of Kenyon College. She is a writer inspired by travel, constant reading, and the calm of drinking tea. She has recently become more open to exploring a wide range of career options in order to connect her passions with her intent to serve others.




A Scholarship Story: Darlene Bois

We are proud to publish the last of four blog posts from The Opportunities Project’s 2011 career coaching scholarship recipients. Meet Darlene Bois, a public relations professional, Toastmasters extraordinaire, and career changer.

Darlene won a scholarship I gave away for my one year anniversary and she chose The Social Proof package. Here is her story about what she learned through our time together.

- Tracy

PS: Want to apply for a 2012 scholarship? Look for the info at the end of the post. 

Moving To The Beat of Social Media Drums With A Purpose

Do you have profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter? Well, I was not plugged in for a longtime because I did not think that I needed to be.  Guess What? I finally gave in and created a Facebook account but I kept it for a very short period of time because I was not prepared for the content on the walls of those who wanted to “friend me”.

Reluctantly, I decided to have a LinkedIn account after attending yet another seminar where the presenter mentioned that everyone should get on board or get left behind. I felt comfortable with LinkedIn because it was a platform for professionals.

Would you believe that I had a bare minimum basics profile for one year on LinkedIn? Once again after attending another seminar, I learned to get more from my LinkedIn profile and added more dimensions to it. Unfortunately, I was still only scratching the surface.

Little did I know but help was around the corner.  I was referred to Tracy Brisson who helped me navigate the Social Media superhighway.  Before we delved into the social media, she took the time to ask about my career status and goals which include pursuing a career in public relations.  She even looked at my LinkedIn profile and gave me valuable tips to revamp it for branding purposes. Now, I use social media more purposefully and strategically in order to stay connected and share ideas.

Since training, I keep track of my LinkedIn account regularly, I tweet intermittently, and I even have a Hootsuite account. If you are not familiar with any of these social media platforms, do not be alarmed. It really is not as daunting as it seems once you have a road map that contains all the landmarks that you need to pass on the way to your ultimate destination.

Overall, I have expanded my networking capabilities as well as gained meaningful insight via my revamped LinkedIn account and the recent Twitter account that I now maintain.

If I can navigate the social media superhighway, so can you!


Inspired by Darlene? Apply for our Second Annual Scholarship Contest by Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day). 

The Opportunities Project Second Annual Scholarship Contest

A Scholarship Story: Abby Cajudo

We are proud to publish the third of four blog posts from The Opportunities Project’s 2011 career coaching scholarship recipients. Meet Abby Cajudo, a northern California based scientist, social entrepreneur, and aspiring blogger.  

When I met Abby, she had a plan, but unanticipated opportunities came her way, leading her to different successes, so we changed course on our coaching topics. If I were you, I’d pay special attention to Abby’s advice on adapting- it’s something we can learn at any age! 

- Tracy

PS: Want to apply for a 2012 scholarship? Look for the info at the end of the post. 

Last May, I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. I experienced the same range of emotions most recent grads experience: excitement, fear, nervousness, “What the hell am I doing-ness?” It’s been over a year since I’ve graduated, and although I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be a year or two from now, I want to share some fundamental lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

Create your own opportunities.

“No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself” – Seth Godin 

During my last few months of undergrad, I was really nervous about what I would be doing after graduation. Most of my friends had plans. They had jobs lined up or plans to attend graduate school. I, on the other hand, had uncertainty. But instead of throwing myself a pity party, I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere by waiting for someone to pick me. Picked for an internship. Picked for a job. I needed to pick myself. I was volunteering at a non-profit organization during my last semester and it was there that I found my passion for community work, particularly around issues of health equity and health education. I saw so much potential to reach the local community through health education programs with this organization. But since the size of the organization was so small, I knew that I needed to let my voice be heard and share my ideas in order to show my value and potential to lead these programs. I needed to give myself permission to be bold. I proactively attended meetings and other events to gain as much knowledge as possible about the community I was working in and find ways I can help. Before I knew it, one month before graduation, I was offered a position at the organization as the program coordinator for a health education program!

Trust your value. You bring a whole lot to the table.

I remind myself of this every day. My first job out of college as a program coordinator, was a huge opportunity for me. I had demonstrated my potential to the organization and they were trusting me to lead their program. The program’s scope spanned the entire Bay Area I was in charge of collaboration between students, agencies, and other organizations. There were times I felt overwhelmed and under-qualified. Those were the times I needed to remind myself that I did have something to offer. Too often, recent grads feel like they don’t bring much to the table. The truth is, you bring a whole lot to the table! You bring your own perspectives, views, experiences, and opinions. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise due to your lack of work experience in “the real world”. Every internship, every college course, every assignment, every experience has shaped you into who you are. Own it. Bring it.

Don’t rush the process. You are where you are for a reason. 

Don’t rush it. You can’t rush growth. I needed to work a year at a non-profit to understand my love for community and my heart for service. My interests in public health and community health continue to get deeper every day. I recently started working for a research study with one of the largest clinical research groups, studying factors of breast cancer survivorship. I had no idea that I would be working where I am today. I thought that I would graduate undergrad, get a job for my “gap year” and go back to graduate school. One year out, even though I’m not there, I lovewhere I’m at and have time to figure things out. I’m giving myself time to explore and grow my passions. I don’t feel rushed or pressured by where my peers are at or what my peers are doing.

Plans change. You need to adapt.

If you asked me three years ago what my plan was, it was to go to pharmacy school. If you asked me one year ago what my plan was, it was to work for a year then go to pharmacy school. I realized within that year that pharmacy is not the field for me. That’s okay. It’s okay for plans to change. It’s completely normal. The most important thing is that you adapt. Give yourself time to adapt. Your plans changing is not a sign of failure, rather your ability to adapt is an indicator of your future success. Last Spring, I was privileged to win The Opportunities Project’s College Student Scholarship. My coaching sessions with Tracy have been extremely helpful in organizing my life and making specific steps in my career goals and networking goals. 

Inspired by Abby? Apply for our Second Annual Scholarship Contest by Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day). 

The Opportunities Project Second Annual Scholarship Contest