Hollie's 2019 Outlook

I’m generally not very good at resolutions because willpower is hard. Which is why this year I am going to focus on creating new, positive lifestyle changes, instead of trying to alter my current “bad” habits. And hopefully in the process, I start to embrace my “flaws” and stop the internal criticisms.

Here is what I want to do more of in 2019:

Chill out.

Not everything is a crisis. I’m going to allow myself to pick and choose what areas of my life I want to spend the most energy on.

Smile more.

Life is way too short to feel self-conscious/gross/angry/jealous/stale/etc. If I’m not in a positive situation, I’m going to do what I can to make myself happy.

Trust my instincts.

I’m going to listen to my intuition and stand firm in my decisions. I know what’s best for me and need to start believing it.

Add more green.

This means two things. 1) Add more plants to my living space because they are good for mental health. 2) Add more green things into my diet because my insides are reflected on the outside.

Take more naps.

Sleep is healthy and good for the soul. If I’ve had a hard week and I want to take multiple naps over the weekend, then that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Maggie's 2019 Goals

I’m a daydreamer and a planner, and I’m very into New Year’s resolutions. But like so many of us, I tend to be a lot better at making the list of resolutions than actually sticking with them.

In January of 2014, I made my favorite and most successful New Year’s resolution. I vowed that year simply to wear more eyeliner—and I did! It was something simple that I enjoyed, which made it really easy to stick with. At the time, I was discouraged by all the lists and resolutions I’d been making and then breaking, and I just needed a win.

This year, in contrast, I am totally hyped on myself and all that I can accomplish. Last year was a huge year for me; I made some big changes and I accomplished a lot. I’m inspired to shoot for even more and bigger things in 2019.

To set myself up for success, I made a list of goals for the year, rather than resolutions. Resolutions are supposed to be things you’re already resolved to do, which makes me feel even worse when I can’t stick to them. Goals, however, are things you’re working toward, which seems a lot more realistic and attainable.

Here are my goals for 2019:

Focus on art and work at it like it’s a job. I claimed this for myself on a recent episode—I am going to open an etsy store for my collages. If there’s one thing that I learned in 2018, it’s that I need to create for my career. I can’t separate my job from my life, and I owe it to myself to at least try to make money doing something I’m passionate about. My deadline for launching the store is March 1st.

Get more Zen.
I mean this literally and as a reference to the podcast. I will keep working to find peace through meditation, exercise and self-care. I am also enthusiastic about taking The Gals Get Zen into year two. Hollie and I are renewing our focus on the podcast for 2019, and we’re excited about sharing with you new guests, new adventures and new outspoken opinions.

Reexamine my vices.
This is the year I investigate my relationship with wine (and other mood enhancers). I want to understand why I drink and the purpose drinking serves for me. To start, I’m doing alcohol-free January as part of our trial of Whole 30. I want to prove to myself that I can do it, and I’m excited to see what I can accomplish with the extra time and energy.

Get my house in order.
For years, I’ve been too busy or too overwhelmed to take care of normal, grown-up tasks like doing the dishes every night or going to the dentist. And after living in our house for two years, I am seeing how easy it is to fill up a three-bedroom house between just two people. We’re starting the year by tidying up our entire house using the KonMari method, and hopefully changing our attitude about physical possessions as we go.

Develop a schedule and live by it.
I’ve heard the same advice from multiple women who seem to have their shit together—start living by a schedule and you’ll free up your life. Rachael Cook spoke about it at the first Rebelle Con event, and it really stuck with me. This is the year I take it on for myself. I’m starting small and simply mapping out the week by devoting each afternoon to a regular weekly task. Since leaving my full-time job, I’ve learned I need to create structure for my afternoons in order to be productive. Mondays are my day for house work and podcast prep: Tuesdays are for off-site writing; Wednesdays are for collaging, etc. I’m hoping it will help me accomplish more and feel less guilty when I do relax.

Prepare for baby.
I need A LOT of time to prepare for big life decisions. Pete and I were together for 10 years before we got married; I considered moving back to Richmond for five years before we actually did it. And the decision to start trying to get pregnant has been at least three years in the making. For the first part of 2019, my task is to plan for the ways my life will change when I’m pregnant. I have a feeling pregnancy will be pretty tough for me since I’m such a wimp, and I’m going to need to do a lot of prep work to minimize the monster.

Most romantic year ever.
Here is Well + Good’s 2019 outlook for Leos (my sun sign). It’s so awesome that I decided to turn the prediction into a personal goal as well.

“Leo hit the jackpot. It’s the best romantic year in a decade for Leo. What if they’re already married? Your marriage partner’s still your lover, your sweetheart—a piece of paper doesn’t change that. This could also be the year to have a baby. And their creativity will flourish.”

More eyeliner, more lipstick.
Since 2014, I’ve kept this one, with a new caveat each year. If I stick to nothing else, I know I won’t let myself down with this one.

Hometown Murder

Although Hollie and I are wellness-focused, we also love a good true crime story. On episode 9, we talked about the excellent new Richmond podcast, Southern Nightmare, and I mentioned my "hometown murder" which also tells the story of the Southside Strangler. With that in mind, I'm sharing that story here.

As an avid Murderino, I originally submitted this to the gals at My Favorite Murder for their minisodes. To my knowledge, they've never read it on air, but I'm not holding it against them.  

Mom found his ski mask in the front yard

My mother just retired after 40 years of teaching high school math, and when I asked her what she’d miss most, she said, “telling the kids every year about the Southside Strangler.” 

Yeah, my mom is the F-ing best. 

In the late eighties when I was very little, the Southside Strangler murdered four single women inside their homes in my neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia. 

I remember hearing this story a thousand times as Mom’s best party anecdote:

The murders were very publicized and everybody in town knew about them while they were happening. My mom was super creeped out and convinced she was next on the list because: one victim lived a block away from our house, another lived down the street, one was connected to our family friend, and another took place in Arlington, my parents’ hometown.

One day, Mom and Dad were doing work in the front yard and found a ski mask in the bushes. Mom was immediately freaked out because it wasn’t a store-bought Balaclava; it was a black knit hat with the eyes and mouth cut out. Dad was less concerned and laughed about it; our house is on the main street in that neighborhood, and we’d found crazy shit in the yard before.
But Mom called the cops, and minutes later there were four squad cars and two detectives at our house. It turned out the mask belonged to the killer, and it helped convict him by confirming the timeline of the murders. He had killed a woman in her apartment down the street and then stolen her car. But the car broke down or he wrecked it, and he ended up running down Forest Hill Avenue on foot, tossing the ski mask as he ran.
30 years later, Mom and Dad still live in the same house. And when I moved back to town after a long time away, I decided for the first time ever to google the real story and see how true Mom's version was. 

Timothy Wilson Spencer spent some time in jail for breaking and entering and afterward ended up living in a halfway house in our neighborhood. In the fall of 1987, he brutally raped and murdered four women after breaking into their homes, often through open windows. He wasn’t caught for a while during his spree, in part because he was a young, attractive, black man—and as we know, that doesn’t fit the typical serial killer profile.
But ultimately, his case was the first murder case ever convicted based on DNA evidence. And it led to the first overturned conviction based on DNA, because the wrong person was initially convicted of his first murder.
I found absolutely nothing to support Mom’s story, the ski mask, or whether it actually even mattered. But I’m gonna go ahead and assume it’s the truth.
Anyway, that’s the story of the Southside Strangler. Not quite as good coming from me and not your trigonometry teacher, but certainly explains why I’m a lifetime Murderino. 

xoxo & ssdgm

PS: If you're looking for a new beach book, Post Mortem by Patricia Cornwell is loosely based on this case and is an excellent work of pre-DNA paperback murder mystery.