What I accomplished as a Pen and Pencil Club governor 

I first visited the Pen and Pencil Club in January 2009, as a spunky, 23-year-old. After visiting frequently, I finally became an official member of the country’s oldest surviving open daily press club in early 2012.

Then, in 2013 I ran and was elected to the club’s board of governors, with some encouragement from then club President Chris Brennan, a celebrated politics reporter and columnist who worked hard to grow the kind of members in the club. I was growing a reputation with Technical.ly and an active local organizer of the Online News Association.

I was proud. I learned a lot, and I put a lot of effort into being a board member. Next week, rather than run for a fifth term, I am stepping down. Here I share some of what I accomplished during the last four years.

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Getting married? here’s some advice on handling joint finances

More than a year ago, I got married. It’s fun and challenging and rewarding. I’ve learned a ton — even before the big day. One of the great challenges of any marriage is how two people merge their finances.

I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned over the last two years.

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Subscribe to my new weekly Story Shuffle podcast project

After six years of regularly hosting an every-other-month, themed storytelling event among friends called Story Shuffle, I’ll be sharing my favorite stories over the next six months in a weekly podcast format.

From more than 200 recorded stories told at one of 36 live events held in houses and apartments, I am launching this as a project to learn more about podcasting and to give this storytelling event of mine a final goodbye. I’m billing this podcast as a ‘first draft’ storytelling series, as people regularly told their stories for the first time. It was authentic and fun and earnest. It’s something I want to see more of online.

So subscribe on iTunes or on your podcatcher of choice (or on the Story Shuffle website). Let me know if you can’t find it somewhere you want it.

Below I shared a few notes of what I already learned, though I know I’ll have plenty more lessons after the project is over.

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This will be my first year of saying no

For as long as I remember, I was proud of being someone whose default response was YES. It was the right mind frame for my teens and 20s. But I turned 30 last year. And I now I want to get better at the other side of that spectrum: saying no.

So I made it one of my 2017 resolutions: to say NO more often. Though I hope to do lots with that perspective, it will come down to focusing my attention.

This is my pledge to myself that I will say no, that I will limit what I do and agree to so that I only focus on what I can do well. That means I will have to say no to things I care about.

One of the clearest ways I’m doing that is by dropping and limiting my existing extra curricular activities, while being far choosier about any I add. Understand: this does not mean I don’t have interest in these or other issues. This means I’m focusing on what I can provide unique value to and fits me now.

I’m aiming to take this more into my day job (so I don’t let my office get as cluttered and messy as it was in the header photo from early 2015) but for the first clearest way to show my progress, I wanted to share what I’ve already set in motion.

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I turned 30 and fell out of shape. Here’s what I did about it

Not long after my 30th birthday early this year, I had what might be called a commonly American experience. I noticed I had suddenly gained a bunch weight —  going from weighing something like 190 lbs, where I had been for years, to 220 in what felt like just a couple months. I also just felt worse.

That puzzled me — my diet hadn’t changed much, I was still (somewhat?) active, with basketball and bicycle commuting and frequent walks. What went wrong? I had been a skinny kid my entire life: why would I gain weight? …This wasn’t entirely because I turned 30, right? (Oh my were my friends amused by this).

It took me more than two months to figure out the pretty straightforward answer and the rest of this year to do something about it.

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3 trends I learned this year that totally shook my understanding of the American economy

I learn new big foundational truths every year. Yet for some reason, three trends in particular that I learned this year meaningfully shifted how I understood my country, in particular the work I do in reporting and organizing around economic development.

They’re so important and telling that I admit I’m a little embarrassed I only really understood them this year.

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