A Slice of PIE

Ah, November.


This month brings cool weather, bare trees, time with family, scruffy men, and, of course, Thanksgiving food. Unfortunately, I don’t have most of those things here, but I do have pie. Or rather PIE. (aka Project for Individual Excellence (or Personal Initiative for Excellence or whatever other acronym I misremember at the time))

I first heard of PIE a few months ago from my friend D.J. Podgorny, who coopted the idea from Zak Slayback’s blog. It sounded like an interesting idea, but I was feeling lazy. Then, last month, Bo DellaMaria joined in and convinced me to hop on the PIE train as well. I’m still lazy, but might as well give it a shot. Plus, November is the perfect time for PIE.

The concept of this month-long challenge is to set goals with tangible metrics for different growth areas. Sounds like fun, right? 😀 So in the interest of self-growth and all that fun stuff, here’s my goals for the month.



Exercise at least 5 days a week for at least 45 minutes

Work out more – original, I know. In college I’d have this bad habit of working out religiously for a week or two and then getting bored or injured or busy or [insert other excuse here]. I’ve started classes for Muay Lao (Lao boxing!), so between that, going to the gym, swimming, and my personal fitness trainer Shaun T, I have plenty of options for meeting my goal of 5 times a week.

I’m trying to get in shape for a bike race coming up soon (more on that later in this post!), plus,





Finish 4(ish) books, start to end 

I was doing a good job of reading when I first got here, but since then my pace has kind of slowed. I’m not entirely sure what books I’ll read for this, but here’s the handful that I’m considering:

I’m almost done with Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, so finishing that up will be the “ish” part. I have the audiobook version of Goldfinch, which clocks in at around 32 hours and Thinking, Fast and Slow is a beast of a book, so I’m expecting this to be challenging.



Publish a blog post biweekly & participate in NaKniSweMo


Isn’t it strange that “biweekly” means both occurring every other week and twice a week? Here, I mean the latter. I’d love to be ambitious and post every day, but in the interest of fleshing out slightly longer pieces that currently exist only in my head and including lots of photos, I think twice a week will lead to a good balance between quality and quantity.


Secondly, November is NaKniSweMo, a knitting-based riff on NaNoWriMo. National Knit a Sweater in a Month involves knitting a 50,000 stitch sweater in a month. Hopefully, come December, I’ll be nice and warm, just in time for Lao “winter.”



Study Lao 2 times a week for at least 30 minutes

This kind of stretches the definition of social growth, but working on my Lao will help me be more social with people here. I learned a good amount of the language really quickly in my first month here, but since then have had difficulty finding a teacher, so my pace has slowed. I’m hoping that this will keep me more accountable to studying, even it if it’s just sitting down on my own and reviewing vocabulary.




Every good challenge has stakes. Every great challenge has steaks. Unfortunately, this challenge is only good, not great. Since I gave my best “anti-charity” idea to Bo, who is donating to Donald Trump’s campaign for every time he misses a goal, I’m going to go the charity route. Remember that bike race I mentioned back in the Physical section? Now is the later I was talking about then!

In December, I will be biking around Angkor Wat with Bike4Kids. The event raises money for Village Focus International, an NGO that supports local leaders in Laos and Cambodia to create global change through protecting and empowering women and children, and developing leadership within communities to take address issues like health and sanitation, education,  land and food security, and natural resource management.

For every time I miss a gym or Lao day or blog post, I will donate $5. At the end of the month, I will multiply the remaining percentage of books and sweater by $20 and donate that amount as well.

Village Focus International does some great work; if you can afford to contribute, you can do so here. After all, biking around the temples doesn’t actually help people, but donations do.


And for the sake of festivity, my reward if I do not crash and burn completely with these goals will be to make myself a pie. Yum! You guys give me suggestions for what kind of pie to make, I’m off to reach some goals.




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