Project Wonder Woman

Well, 2007 is winding down, and the start of the new year is almost upon us. It’s time to make those traditional resolutions that most of us will just toss to the curb by February 1.

Grown up responsibilities and that thing called Life will get in the way of our goals. We will declare that we have no time to take that cooking class, learn a new language, or start an exercise program. Resolutions will be written down, but without some concrete steps and direction to help us stick to them, nothing will change.

But what if we change the outcome of the annual resolution dissolution this year? What if we were to head into 2008 with some solid goals to reach and some actual plans and strategies to achieve them?

That is the goal of Project Wonder Woman, a collaborative, virtual troop of women who will all pledge to complete the requirements for one activity per month from Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas’s book, You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls (currently available from for the bargain basement price of $6.49).

The book consists of chapters covering sixty fun, enriching activities ranging from competing in a triathlon to learning how to sew. Each chapter includes an overview of the activity, an essay from a female expert/mentor, clearly-defined steps for earning the activity’s merit badge, and recommended reading and online resources. A virtual merit badge is earned for each completed activity. In order to qualify for the badge, each PWW member must document her progress with blog posts, photos, and/or video clips as she completes each requirement.

You Can Do It! will provide the framework for achieving our goals for 2008, but it will still take time, effort, and persistence on our end to earn all twelve of our life merit badges over the next twelve months. This is not a 12-week challenge but an ongoing project that can cover everything from life skills to physical challenges, financial mastery to artistic experimentation. Our rewards will vary depending on which activities we each choose to undertake, but I have no doubt that we will all emerge from the experience more skilled, talented, competent, confident, knowledgeable, and infinitely more kickass than we are today.

With each badge we earn, we are one step closer to becoming a Wonder Woman in truth.

I sent a copy of the book to each of my closest female friends this Christmas, and it is my hope that they will all join me in posting to a group blog called Project Wonder Woman as we check off each proposed merit badge for 2008, one by one.

My current working list of proposed badges is as follows:

  1. Breaking Bad Habits
  2. : This one will be a year-long undertaking. I want to get rid of 6 bad habits and develop 6 good ones by the end of 2008. I will tackle one item per month, starting with Punctuality in January.

  3. Organizing
  4. : There are so many things in my house that need organizing that this one should keep me quite busy for a full month.

  5. Healthcare
  6. : I’ve been meaning to choose a good primary care physician who can run the full battery of health tests on me and perform a full physical for a while now, but keep putting it off. It’s time to learn where I stand health-wise now that I don’t get regular check-ups from a military doctor.

  7. Fitness
  8. : Yes, I know I already know how to exercise and stuff, but I will be rolling my 12-week Turbulence Training transformation challenge and my goal of improving my swimming skills through regular lessons into this one for 2008.

  9. Personal Style/Sewing
  10. : This one combines a skill I already possess but haven’t been applying very much (sewing) with an area in which I have been sadly lagging (personal style) since I started to work in the very casual dress code environment of video game development. I looked in my closet for clothes to take up to Philly for the eHarmony shoot December 16-17 and realized that I had almost nothing but jeans, funny t-shirts, and workout clothes in my wardrobe. It’s time to put my sewing machine to work and my stunted sense of style back into active duty.

  11. Budgeting
  12. : I already budget to some degree using Microsoft Money, but I’ll be tightening it up even more as Chris and I focus on completing a Total Money Makeover a la Dave Ramsey in 2008.

  13. Yoga
  14. : Yeah…you know how I always harp on being really unbendy and needing to do more yoga? Well, I still am unbendy and still need to commit to a regular flexibility program. I’m making this a badge-earning opportunity since I am horrible at integrating yoga into my fitness routine when there is no obvious reward or punishment involved.

  15. Car Care
  16. : I’ve always known in the back of my mind that familiarity with the basics of auto maintenance was important, but fear of grease and laziness have prevented me from actually learning much about the machine that carries me 30 miles each way from home to work and back each day.

  17. Gardening
  18. : 2007 was the year of the neglected yard and veggie patch. 2008 will be the year of flourishing flowers, stunning shrubbery, and eye-popping edibles! This activity will be ongoing.

  19. Decorating
  20. : Chris and I haven’t really gotten around to decorating our house since we moved in…two years ago. It’s probably time. I don’t think we are going anywhere for a while.

  21. Painting
  22. : I have kept my oil and acrylic painting supplies from my one college painting class around all these years for no reason. Ditto for the copy of Painter 8 software that I bought around the same time and never bothered to learn how to use. My bare walls need art. I will endeavor to create some for them.

  23. Draft a Business Plan
  24. : A gal can’t stay in video games forever. I am going to learn how to draft a business plan for future reference.

7 thoughts on “Project Wonder Woman

  1. This is such a great idea! One question- where I can find out more about the Project Wonder Woman? I’d love to get some of my friends involved in this as well!

  2. westy – Right now Project Wonder Woman is a group blog that I have just started with a small group of friends and family. It isn’t very formal yet, but I hope to add some more features over the next week or so and open it up to other women who are interested in completing 12 activities this year as well. People interested in becoming full posters at the PWW blog can register as subscribers for now (this will allow you to comment on existing posts), leave an intro comment on the first welcome post, and I will add you as an author within 48 hours.

    If you want to get started now, I recommend picking up a copy of the You Can Do It book from Amazon (It’s in their bargain bin, so it’s dirt cheap at the moment) and selecting your badge for January. 🙂

  3. Wow, it looks like I’m the only one thinking that this is EXACTLY like all the other New Year’s Resolutions that ignore the current knowledge about things like Strengths and built-in-personality traits. Endeavor to be more Maggie and less someone else.

    For example, I notice that you’re talking about
    -organizing the house
    -decorating the house
    -being more fashionable at work
    That’s all well and good to allow yourself to do these sorts of things if they make you happy and come naturally to you, but what’s the point? I, personally, FUNCTION better in an uncluttered environment, i.e organized but not decorated. Many people function better with MORE clutter and more decoration. Chances are, if you haven’t been organized until now, it’s not harming you any.

  4. Laura – Great! Let me know if you want to join in later. 🙂

    RG – I can see your point, but truthfully, these 12 badges are all things that I have been meaning to do for a long time but just keep putting aside due to lack of time, planning, and laziness. These aren’t resolutions. These are specific tasks that need to be done or activities I’ve always wanted to try or would like to revisit.

    – Gardening: I LOVE gardening (got the bug from my father), but Florida has a crazy growing season (Fall/Winter are good for greens and beans, Spring is great for what northerners would normally call summer veggies, and Summer is a barren wasteland) that just happened to run afoul of my work schedule this past year.

    – Organizing the house: I’m actually pretty organized by default, and I DO function better in an uncluttered environment. However, spending most of 2007 in a work crunch with a wedding squeezed into the middle sort of sent the usual order in my home into a tailspin. The unorganized clutter in certain parts of the house and my life really nags at me and needs to be handled. I can’t stand it anymore. I’m sure that the handful of grey hairs that have sprouted up on my head are due in large part to the pile of “to be shredded” balance transfer checks sitting on my desk.

    – Being more fashionable at work: Who said I wanted to be more fashionable at work? This is for special occasions, date nights, and such! I admit that the lax dress code at work has contributed to the deterioration of my fashion sense, but frankly, I really do need some more grown-up, dressy clothes to wear when I go out, and due to my 1-year vow to not buy any off-the-rack clothes, I must re-fashion and/or sew my own until this June. I’ve been sewing since middle school, and even before then I spent hours each week drawing new clothes for my paper dolls. I love clothes and fashion; I just don’t like to spend money on them.

    – Decorating the house: Okay, you got me on this one. I don’t actually care too much about home decor. I just like having everything tidy and stowed away. The act of matching furniture and color schemes doesn’t get me excited. If it were up to me, my furniture would consist of a Murphy bed, a computer desk and chair, and about a dozen bookcases or standing cabinets. I don’t like buying expensive, non-functional stuff like random vases and table runners just to make my living quarters look like a magazine page. However, I do like the clean, pared-down look of modern interiors (think West Elm), and I plan to knock off a reasonable facsimile of said look in my house in one month for as little money as possible so I can get this tedious decorating stuff over with and get back to more interesting stuff.

  5. Cool – thanks! I just might join in – sounds ilke a fun way to make time for goals and fun projects that normally get overlooked.

    I looked up the book on (damn inflated Cdn book prices) and it is almost $20 – I’m actually going to be in Florida in a few days (yes! warmth!) so I might look for it in stores there before ordering it online when I get home.

    I think an aspect of your very cool idea that grabbed my interest is that some of us need to take time for ourselves to rediscover hobbies, find lost confidences, learn something new, etc. Those things often get overlooked in day-to-day life. Some people are good just the way they are – that is great too. I find I get bored easily, so having things to look forward to – but without the looming “resolution” word behind it – might help me get out of that rut!


  6. thanks for the clarification. I guess I can’t match the “likes fashion” (or gardening, decorating, etc.) with the fitness, organized, geek personality mostly because I fall into the latter and not the former. I decided I liked the IDEA of gardening (especially in a low-maintenance square-foot-gardening kind of way) more than I actually liked the process. Now I limit myself to sprouts and herbs. And my apartment is ridiculously plain – while I enjoyed having a gay roommate who decorated, it seemed like more work than I could deal with. Fresh flowers, green plants and West Elm interior = ideal.

    I’m still skeptical on the sewing thing – though I suppose there is a fashion equivalent of West Elm. Have you seen the Brown Dress project? I want me one of those.

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