5 Life Lessons I Learned from Pure Barre

In late April, I had one of those moments many women dread. I was packing for a work conference in Orlando when I discovered a majority of my clothes from a few seasons ago no longer fit: zippers were much harder to close and sitting down could only happen if I held in my breath. I couldn’t believe that I’d managed to gain so much weight in such a short period of time. And all I could think was that I was unable to wear clothes I had only just finished paying off on my JCrew credit card….how sad (for my health and my finances)!

I was mad at myself for not noticing these changes in my own body. I knew all of my old excuses had to go – the biggest one being that I just didn’t have the time to work out.

Since I am terrible at motivating myself to get to the gym, I decided taking a class was the best way to go. Every night on my way home from work, I would pass a Pure Barre studio that had opened recently in my neighborhood. I’d always liked the idea of it since I had taken ballet as a kid, so I signed up in May 2014. Since that first class, I have gone to the studio at least five times a week (when not traveling for work). And on October 25th, I celebrated my 100th Pure Barre class, joining the studio’s 100 Club.


In this journey to finally get fit and take control of my physical health, Pure Barre has taught me five great lessons that I plan to take with me as I continue this new healthy lifestyle:

  1. You must take time for yourself.  Most of my adult life has been devoted to work, both my day job and the many projects I take on outside of the 9 to 5. I was going to networking events, volunteering, doing work for professional organizations, writing for online magazines and blogs – but I wasn’t giving any of my time to my physical health. I thought the networking activities were the way for me to truly grow and I made them a priority, until I realized I wasn’t really doing any of this extra work for myself. While it is important to nourish your mind and build your network, it doesn’t do any good when your body is run down from sleep deprivation and a terrible on-the-go diet.
  2. You can build new habits. I always thought I wasn’t the athletic or fit type, and that this was just who I was; why bother changing or apologizing for it? But a surprising thing happened — over the last five months, I discovered I really enjoy physical activity. It was just a matter of building it into my daily routine. Now I am at a point where I couldn’t see my life without it, and wonder how I managed in those years when my idea of stress relief was eating in front of the TV or drinking a beer.
  3. Progress is made in small increments. I could barely make it through all the Pure Barre exercises when I started, but with the encouragement of the instructors (who never make you feel too weak or too slow), I built my strength up one class at a time. Pure Barre is all about small, incremental movements, and it is amazing how these small movements can make big changes in your body and your mind. I also applied the idea of “small incremental changes” to my diet, and have slowly worked in healthier foods and have adjusted to eating smaller portions of my fattening favorites: French fries, mac and cheese, and craft beer.
  4. You are stronger than you think you are. The instructors always say this during class, right when you hit that point where you’re shaking so much you want to stop and take a break, or give up completely. We always think we aren’t capable in those moments when the pain or discomfort starts to kick in – but it is pushing through those moments that make you realize your body is capable, as long as your mind remains focused and positive.
  5. Breathe, focus, and tune out the world, because this is your time. Pure Barre is one hour in the day just for you. The instructors make you put away your cell phone and focus on the moves and music. It amazes me what I am capable of if I just let myself focus and breathe. Even when my legs are shaking (embrace the shake!), I can conquer that fear of not being strong enough by focusing on my breathing or the beat of the music. My ability to focus in class has helped me focus better in my everyday life, and I can now better tune out the unnecessary noise when I really want to finish a project.

Thanks to Pure Barre, I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in. At the moment, I don’t fit in to many of those old clothes, but not because they’re too tight – they’re too big! In fact, I had to buy a lot of new clothes recently, one to two sizes smaller.

Thanks to Pure Barre for pushing me in the right direction, and here’s to many more happy, healthy, active years!

Reviving the Blog & Re-commiting to my Side Projects

LitCity312_Logo_3C_LoResYes, it has been more than one year since I updated my personal website and written a actual blog post, and I am here to tell you I am still alive! And I am still pursuing my passion for storytelling in all of its various forms.

Where did I go? Well, I was fortunate to land a great corporate job working for a great person and a great company. I have been there just over one year, and in that time I have not forgotten about my side projects and interests. Yes, they have slowed down, but don’t worry, I’m not done with them yet!

In the past year, my independent press project has grown into a website: LitCity312, and we are now thinking of applying for nonprofit status. I’ve also joined the Chicago Women in Publishing board as the website editor, and I continue to be inspired by these women everyday! In fact, they are the reason I’ve become motivated to blog again.

Earlier this month, I had the chance to attend a great event with a few of my CWIP friends: Coach Jennie Mustafa-Julock’s Astonish Yourself Tour. Not only did I set goals to keep up with my many projects, but I was reminded that there are others like me: people who have these big ideas, who are never just doing the regular 9 to 5. And of course along with that comes the pressure of having seemingly too much work to complete, and the concern that family and friends might forget about you, as you lose your spare time in your various projects. I think we’ve all had friends ask us why we haven’t been around very often, why we always seem to be busy when everyone else is having fun on the weekends. But because our work is so solitary, they don’t always know that this extra stuff we do is because it is fun, because it’s part of our dream and passion…it just happens that this is an activity we often have to do alone, and some, like me, do it in addition to a full time job she also loves.

And so, with this post, I won’t be ashamed of my “side hustle” or “passion projects” anymore! And if working toward my goals means a little more solitary time, then so be it. I won’t be absent from my dreams anymore, or feel guilt for it!

Though it took me two weeks since the workshop to start this, it is a start — the baby steps are being taken! And I promise to be in touch now much more frequently, bringing you blog entries about various fun and sometimes random topics…and I’ll probably bring them to you at random times, because, just like I did during discussion days in my high school English class, I only like to speak when I really feel inspired and have something legitimate to add to the conversation. I may even bring back my Single in the Suburbs series! So stay tuned…

Pop-Up Book Fair Recap & An Anthology Update


A still from the video I shot at the Pop-Up Book Fair on Sunday, April 14th. My apologies for the somewhat poor quality — lighting was tricky.

On a particularly nice Sunday this rainy April, I had the chance to attend the Pop-Up Book Fair at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, local book publisher Curbside Splendor hosts this event with partners every few months or so, inviting other local book publishers to join in. The place is full of literary types (my people), table after table of locally-published lit, and there’s a bar — could there be a better combination?

I was able to connect with a lot of those who I had already interviewed for the Independent Press Anthology, and also met knew presses to add to our ever-growing project! As always, being around these individuals is inspiring, and not only from a writer’s perspective. These are true entrepreneurs pursuing their passion for good art and literature, and many of them are so dedicated that they continue to run their press as a second job, in their “spare time.” Every time I talk with a new press, I find more and more to admire about these individuals. And it is amazing how many more them are forming and growing every day.

Some of the presses I met for the first time, and am excited to learn more about, include: Criminal Class Press, Anobium, 7Vientos Press, Convulsive Editions and Burial Day Books.

Yes, it has officially been one year since I started doing all of these interviews. I can’t believe time has gone by so fast, but our project is still progressing — and growing even larger. I’m sure many of you have been wondering, “Whatever happened to that?” Here’s where we are now:

After a lot of careful thought, we’ve decided to create a local literary website, and possibly an ebook component that will be sold on the site. Since we have collected a number of video interviews, this would be the best way to share both the written and visual data we’ve collected. In addition to sharing the stories of independent presses, we will also share the stories of local independent booksellers and live lit series/events. This second portion of the project has not begun yet, but I hope to be headed out to interview and profile the individuals who help run these sometime this year. There will be many components to the site, including an event calendar for local literary events and possibly job postings. The plan is continuing to evolve — as is an official name! — but I will share these with you when I have them.

Until the website is up, I will continue to write and post updates here on my personal website. Stay tuned!

Video Premiere: Meet Gina Marotta, Your Chief Happiness Officer

At some point in all of our lives, we had jobs we didn’t love. Maybe it was working a concession stand in high school or waiting tables during college — it was okay, but not something we would want to do for the rest of our lives. But for some people, happiness and fun is missing from their current jobs, and they aren’t sure why.

My client, Gina Marotta, has a special talent: She helps both companies and individuals bring happiness, fun and passion back into the workplace. It is possible for all of us to enjoy what we do, and to wake up excited to go to work. And companies can help their employees feel that excitement and passion.

This video is an example of excellent teamwork. When we started, we knew what the message would be, but weren’t sure exactly how it would look. We brought in a third team member, Molly Rudberg-Leshnock of MRL Productions, and her new perspective brought in some freshness and focus. With Gina’s vision, Molly’s branding expertise, and my visual storytelling abilities, we created a video that reflects Gina’s message and passion.

Check out the video below, and visit Gina’s website! Also be sure to check out Molly at her website by clicking here. I feel so lucky to have met and worked with these inspiring women, and I’m sure you would enjoy working with them, too!

Who is Really in the Book Business?


Here are two customers who missed the memo — this is a still image from video I shot in June 2012, months after all Borders stores closed.

I wish I could say that I have many fond childhood memories of trips to the local independent bookstore. But the truth is that my dad used to take me to the local Barnes & Noble or Borders at least once a week in the summer, and I loved it. I’d spend hours browsing the aisles, trying to decide what to read next. Sometimes we’d go to both stores in one night. Back then I had no idea that these big chains were hurting local bookstores, nor did I understand that they were symbols of consumerism. Now that I’m an adult and a supporter of all things literary and independent, I get it — but I’m still saddened when I discover that both the Barnes & Noble and Borders I went to as a child have since closed.

Last week The Wall Street Journal reported that Barnes & Noble will be closing as many as a third of its stores in the next 10 years. The announcement once again had people talking: Is this the death of the book? Is this the end of the mainstream bookseller? The chief executive of Barnes & Noble’s retail group says it’s all part of the business evolving, and that the company will stick around.

As someone who is studying the independent publishing community, I have mixed feelings about this news from Barnes & Noble. I feel guilty for being a little sad about B&N’s need to downsize.

Just after this news broke last week, I watched an old favorite movie: You’ve Got Mail. (I spent the bulk of January at home sick, and I discovered that You’ve Got Mail plays several times a week on TV; it could not be avoided.) Watching the romantic comedy this year was more like a history lesson, a reminder of the ever-evolving publishing industry. Here is Kathleen Kelly, owner of the sweet, independent Shop Around the Corner, and Joe Fox, one of the owners of the big, bad, corporate Fox & Sons Books. Early on in the movie, the two are at a party, and Fox accurately guesses how much Kelly makes in sales each year. Kelly asks, “How did you know that?” and Fox replies “I’m in the book business.” Kelly looks taken aback and says, “I’m in the book business.”

Fast forward 14 years after the movie is released, and here we are. Today, it would likely be Fox’s store who is closing. Where would the picketers go with their signs and their chant of “One, two, three, four — We don’t want your superstore”? Perhaps outside of the Amazon headquarters? More likely they’d just write a lot of angry comments and blog posts online.

Maybe it’s karma. The big bookstores weren’t really in the book business, not like the independents. And so the “suits” like Joe Fox got what was coming to them. But still, part of me fears that this is a loss for all of us, and another win for online retailers. The enemy has simply changed from a physical one to a virtual one. And that enemy isn’t just around the corner — it’s a few clicks away!

As more of these stores disappear, my hope is that people turn back to the independents, back to the basics and the intimacy of a locally-owned shop. These small stores who survived the coming of mainstream retailers may be better equipped to handle the future, and unlike the stores we find in malls, they have a truly loyal customer base.

While I am working to share the stories of local independent publishers, my hope is to next share the stories of the booksellers. What are their next moves? How are they surviving? I hope to soon find out.

Marcy on the Web — Holiday Recap

I hope everyone had great holiday breaks! In case you weren’t online for the last few weeks (and rightfully so) here’s a recap of my holiday posts on Career Girl Network:

What are your highlights from the holidays? Keep checking back for more here on marcyfarrey.com — there are lots of great things to come in 2013!





Marcy on the Web — Weekly Recap

Here’s a look at my articles on Career Girl Network the week of December 3rd:

Build Your Reputation the Smart Way: Building a good reputation in the professional world is extremely important. If you want to be well-respected and viewed as an expert in your field, you need to put in some serious work. I single out one of the keys to building a good reputation.

Your Message: Keep it Short and Sweet: In a digital world, it’s even more important that you keep your message short and to the point. Here’s how to keep your focus and nail down the most important parts of your message.

Be Careful What You Share: We all know to be careful what we share on social media. We’ve heard the horror stories of people learning this lesson the hard way. But what about  what we say to our bosses, coworkers and clients on a daily basis? We have to be careful what we say in person, too. I explain why.

Single Career Girl: Be Proud of Your Career: I discuss one of my latest dating challenges — talking about my career. I explain why you shouldn’t “dumb it down” on any dates you go on. Be proud of your career, regardless of what stage it’s in.

Managing Your Office’s Holiday Activities: Are you in charge of creating holiday spirit in your office? Here’s a few ways to build morale and have a little fun.

Marcy on the Web — Weekly Recap

Here’s a look at my articles on Career Girl Network the week of November 26th:

 It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say it: If you seem to have trouble communicating with coworkers or those below you, you may benefit from this principle: It’s not what you say, but how you say it. This post reviews how to deliver constructive criticism.

Desired Job Skills for 2013: Why You Need Personal Branding: Some people roll their eyes when they hear about developing a personal brand. But as we enter 2013, it’s one of the most important skills for you to have when you’re job hunting. Start building your presence — online and off — before the new year.

What Every Employee Needs: What is the one thing every employee needs to ensure career success? They have to know they matter. That’s a pretty big statement, but it is possible, and I break it down.

Single Career Girl: Does Age Matter? This is one question I’ve been struggling with for a few months now. When it comes to dating, how big of an age gap can there be between two people? While I’ve been consistently told to date older in order to find more mature men, I’ve found many older men are just as immature. I look at the pros and cons of age differences in dating.

5 Ways to Manage Holiday Greeting Cards: Get your holiday cards out on time this year! Here’s a few ways you can go to make the process a little easier.


Marcy on the Web — Weekly Recap

This is a little late (I’ll blame the holidays), but here’s a look at my posts on Career Girl Network the week of November 19th:

Who Shouldn’t Be in Your Network: We’ve all met some of these people at networking events or at work. While we want to have a big, strong network, there are some people that just shouldn’t be in your inner circle. They are unreliable and in some ways, can hold you back. Watch for these people, and, while I encourage you to always be nice and polite, remember not to rely on them.

Surviving a Job You Don’t Love: If you’ve been there, you know how painful it is — going into work every day to a job you don’t love. How do you stay motivated, how do you keep your cool? It’s important if you want to exit your job gracefully, or at least with your sanity still in tact.

Don’t Fight Your Passion: You passion is your best asset — and you should use it in your career. Why some recruiters and hiring managers say it’s crucial to your success.

Eliminate Stress: Change Your Expectations: If you’ve been feeling a lot of work stress lately, especially surrounding a coworker or boss, the key could be changing your expectations. How I learned this at one of my jobs…

Show Gratitude, Not Favoritism: Why it’s important to be thankful for everyone — not just the people it’s easy to be thankful for. Show gratitude to more than your favorites.

Single Career Girl: Single for the Holidays: Single this holiday season? Great! Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a rough time to be “alone.” How you can enjoy the holiday season just as much as any person in a relationship.

Crafting the Video Holiday Greeting

Let’s be honest — sending out individual greeting cards all on your own can be a hassle. I always run out of steam after card number five, and most of my cards end up going out a few days late. Luckily, there are a lot of great alternatives now to paper cards, but one option you can use instead of (or in addition to) paper cards is the video greeting.

If you’re looking for a creative way to reach family, friends, connections, clients and customers during the holiday, a video greeting can be a great option. All you have to do is post it to the web or email it out in a newsletter. And while it may not seem as personal, if you put a lot of yourself or your company into the video, you’ll be sure to get a few laughs or smiles. Good videos get attention — and it will keep your audience talking. Think of it as an opportunity to tell the story of your past year, or share what is coming in the new year.

So what kinds of video greetings can you create? Here’s a few suggestions and examples:

Family Holiday Greeting — You can send out your own family greeting on video. You can either do a slideshow of still images, or actually shoot a holiday-themed video, complete with script. I found this great example from a company called Moving Portraits in San Francisco: http://vimeo.com/53998653. You can easily find a local company that does this.

Personal Holiday Greeting — A lot of individuals building a personal brand or blog like to send these out, but you can also send one out for fun. Again, you can use stills or shoot a video yourself. Let people know what you’ve been up to, and thank them for being a friend, customer, reader, etc.

Small Business/Non-Profit/Corporate Greeting — For businesses and organizations, you can use video greetings in a few ways:

  • To say happy holidays to your employees or customers
  • To say thank you to customers you’ve worked with
  • To greet potential new customers, and boost those end-of-year sales numbers
  • To ask for an end-of-year donation, if you’re a non-profit
  • To give your employees/coworkers a laugh at the holiday party

For the video, you can get as technical or involved as you want — you use still images collected throughout the year, or shoot a video with your whole office. Here’s a few things you can try in a video:

  • Sing a song
  • Write a brief sketch
  • Give a communal greeting from the lobby
  • Have individuals speak their message or give their appeal

And finally, here are a few real life examples. These are a few good holiday greetings from businesses and a nonprofit:




You have a lot of great options when it comes to creating a holiday video, and if you’re trying to do it yourself, finding templates or images online is fairly easy. You can create simple slideshows without doing a whole video shoot. Here’s one option: http://animoto.com.

If you do want to shoot a video and don’t have the proper equipment, look for small production companies or freelance videographers in your area. I shot a corporate holiday greeting last year, and am hoping to take on new clients this holiday season — particularly nonprofits and small businesses/entrepreneurs. If you’re interested in shooting a video and are in the Chicago area, send me an e-mail, and I can send you some samples of my work. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about holiday video greetings.

Happy Holidays!