Up the Hill I Go

Two weekends ago, I participated in the Ragnar Michigan race along with my friend Caroline. Ragnar is a 12-person, 200 mile relay race. In my case, the race route started in Muskegon and followed along the Lake Michigan Shoreline to Traverse City.

I’m not going to lie: it was tough.

The toughest part was my third leg, when my calves and hamstrings were already fatigued. This leg was my longest, 6.5 miles. It was also the hilliest. Due to our pace, I’d also be running this leg at about 5 am – in pitch blackness.

I dreaded every moment of this leg.

From the start, it was awful. The course was mismarked, so I ended up running a mile in the opposite direction, adding to my fear of exhaustion. I also got cornered by a male Chatty Cathy of sorts, who admitted to having no sense of direction nor technology to direct him (how he functions in day-to-day life is uncertain).

About 10 minutes later than expected, I reached the hill and started running.

For the first mile or so, I tried to distract myself from the task at hand. I sang Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” and Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” out loud, as if my bad singing would wart off the creatures of the night and make the time go faster. Who knew I could sing every word to these songs?

I had to stop and walk after that. By then, Chatty Man had passed me, so I was left alone, in the dark, with only my headlamp to guide me.

I started crying. It just seemed so overwhelming, I was off my pace, and I didn’t see a way out.

Along the way, someone pulled over and gave me water. I don’t know why they knew I needed help, but I just said thank you.

Eventually I reached the top of the hill, where my van of friends was cheering me on, giving me water, and promising me the rest of the path was flat.

I’m in the midway point of my own personal hill right now. There are lots of days that seem like they will never end. There are lots of moments where I am left alone, where the only way to cope seems ridiculous or distracting.

But sometimes, you get help from an unexpected source. And you can hear cheering in the distance and know you’re on the way back to the top.

35 is


…knowing that sometimes convenience is worth the price (hello, Amazon Prime)

…but that some things are really, really, not worth the price.

…treasuring true friends, and giving up on the ones who are too much drama.

…enjoying your family because of who they are, how they know you, and how they came to be.

…being comfortable enough to go out without makeup on. And take a selfie (see above).

…vocalizing when someone or something doesn’t meet your needs. Facebook rants on local business pages are really good for that.

…understanding that experiences are usually worth it. Things sometimes aren’t.

…knowing that I really do feel the best when I get up and go to sleep at the same time every day.

…and being really sad that that time cannot seem to be any later than 7:30 a.m.

…enjoying smells, tastes, sights, sounds, and textures.

…savoring every moment spent with my two kids.

…but also being able to understand that I need time alone to recharge my batteries.

…being able to turn down social invitations, just because.

…making a grown up budget.

…and a grown up grocery list.

…but occasionally having fro-yo for dinner.

…trying to read more books and create more pieces, and scrolling feeds less.

…not waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.

…saying “thank you” and “you made a difference” more.

…thinking about what will make the world a better place and what gives my life meaning.

…actually enjoying exercise and eating right.

…trying not to pull out the gray hairs, because there are just so. many. .

…being young enough still to dream, but old enough to understand what is possible.

…following intuition.

…listening more.

…spending every summer moment outside.

…not beating myself up for needing rest.

…trying to not have regrets.

…understanding that a lot of wrongs can be corrected by a smile.

…having a hairstyle that allows one to go from bedhead to ready in 20 minutes.

…insisting on good coffee.

…buying more flowers (ok, fake ones. I don’t have a green thumb).

…learning that others’ feelings don’t have to become my feelings.

…taking it one day at a time.


There’s nothing worse for a blog silence than a blog post acknowledging your blog silence. I finally felt OK with it when Leigh Kramer posted about how she was “processing some big stuff right now, none of which is for public consumption. It’s nothing dire but as an introverted feeler, this is the time to tend to my soul.”

So yeah, big life stuff is happening. I’m trying to follow Leigh’s example and tend to my soul – making more time to read, exercise, pursue other creative projects, and realistically, devour The Good Wife on Amazon Prime. It’s so good ya’ll.  If you haven’t watched, go spend 128 or so hours doing that rather than stalking this place.

I’m struggling right now with figuring out how to pursue an authentic, creative life…that doesn’t seem like I am doing so for the sheer purpose of sharing it with you all.

More later. Happy Memorial Day. I wish you many Mason jars of tasty drinks, grilled treats, and mosquito bites.


There is a lot of loss that happened for me in March. 3 of my 4 natural grandparents passed in March. My friend Caroline’s dad passed in March. This year, we lost my dear Uncle Jerry in March. But March is also a month of gains. I’ve started 3 of my past jobs in March.  My son had an awesome first hockey season and an amazing parent-teacher conference that made me wonder if I’m really capable of raising the incredible young man I see every day.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this the past couple of days, as I munch on far too many Easter eggs filled with candy.  There needed to be death in order for there to be the Resurrection (if that is something you believe).  There needs to be darkness before the dawn.

That’s why I live in a place with four seasons and suffer through blinding snowstorms – because I’m starting to see the life blooming again.

…but what can you do?

Things are happening here lately. Big things. Life-changing things. Things I’m not ready to discuss in this space yet, but when I do, you’ll understand my absence.

Enough with the vagueness. Amid all the shock, the sadness, the rawness of it all, is a sense of, well, normal.  Someone is dying, but there is still dinner to be planned and laundry to fold. A marriage is ending, but it’s Crazy Hair Day at school tomorrow and C went poo on the potty. Our next president is very likely to be either insane or a dishonest crook, but oh, let’s look at Easter wreaths on Pinterest.

Right now, I’m having trouble dealing with all the heavy things in my life, so I’m focusing on the small. Making it to the next meal. Getting in the workout. Enjoying a cup of tea or a book or a coloring page. I know it won’t always be like this, but right now, I don’t know what else to do.

on (not) weekending

I’ve stopped blogging about our weekends, because they have fallen into a very predictable routine:

Friday: Get home, go to dinner with extended family.

Saturday: homemade pancakes (I apparently am the best pancake chef to my kids. who knew?). Drop C at my mom’s, take Dad with me to watch M’s hockey practice. Freeze in an ice rink while he practices. Go back to parents’ house for grilled cheese and tomato soup. Nap (usually while still at my parents’ house). Go home, eat out at some sort of fast-casual restaurant. Work out. Relax.

Sunday: Church. Groceries. Clean up the house. Laundry. Prepare for the week ahead (set out clothes and snacks, make lunches, etc).

It’s monotonous, but instead of feeling like my life is flashing before my eyes, the routine is comforting. This winter is going by surprisingly fast, and I don’t feel the need to “survive” as strongly as I have in years past. That doesn’t mean I’m not counting down the days to March 1 (23 and counting!).

What are some of your weekend rituals?

part of our Saturday ritual
part of our Saturday ritual

What’s working for me in 2016

  • Yoga. I haven’t been able to keep with the meditation habit, but I discovered Yoga with Adriene on YouTube one day and her 30-day Yoga Camp has been awesome. So many of the classes I’ve taken have turned into a dysfunctional yoga “competition” where I felt like I couldn’t fully embrace where my body is in the present. These classes are just the right level of challenge. Adriene is an amazing instructor and they are full-length classes. Did I mention they’re completely free?  I like to combine one of these with a HIIT routine and I’m good to start my day on a positive note.
  • 5:30 a.m. wakeups. Speaking of exercise…I gave up on the early mornings when C went through a phase of waking up in the middle of the night, but this year, I’m making a conscious effort to wind myself down early enough to where I can make the early mornings work for me again. I usually do the aforementioned exercise routine, but there have been a couple of days where I just get up early to do a couple of random house tasks as well.
  • EvernoteI admit it, I’m a bullet journal failure. There were so many times that I’d want to write something down, and just be in the middle of dealing with a kid situation or driving or some other place where it just didn’t make sense to pull out my journal to jot down whatever it was I was thinking. I’m back to logging my to-do lists, my grocery list, and all my other brainwork in Evernote and I’m much, much more efficient.
  • These cookies. I’m on my 4th batch in as many weeks. The kids love them, they’re not too terrible for you, and the best part is, the recipe is written for a dozen at a time so I can set limits on my eating all the cookies.

    What baking with C looks like.
    What baking with C looks like.
  • Taking time off. It’s so easy to fall into the pattern of “I’m too busy to take a day off.” I did it for the past 6 months. Folks, as a burnout PSA, I implore you – just take the dang vacation day. “But what if I end up working half of it?” So be it. 4 hours away of taking a break from working is better than no hours. I’m writing this post from my second vacation day in four weeks, which is doing wonders to counteract my winter blues. Did I work part of it? Yes. But I also had time to take my kids on an outing to the Children’s Museum yesterday, I’m making granola and the crack cookies right now, and I did a ton of cleaning and purging.
  • Not shopping. I already waxed poetic about my love of Meijer Curbside, and now it is available in the grocery store in the next town over. A few minutes of extra travel and $4.95 a week is well worth saving over $30 and an hour of time each week. Furthermore, I’ve realized I am a total sucker for impulse buys. Case in point: a 30 minute time-killing trip to Meijer on Friday cost me $30 thanks to my kids. I’ve also picked back up my Amazon Subscribe and Save purchases and I’m also trying out Boxed delivery. Between the three of these services, I have very little reason to actually go to a store right now – which is great, considering the weather is awful outside!
  • Not reading blogs. I’m utilizing Pocket to capture anything I want to read, and I am trying to discipline myself to only peek at them every so often.
  • Coloring. On an urging from Caroline, I picked up an adult coloring book a week ago on a date night with M. I am officially obsessed. Since that time, I have pinned a zillion free printable pages on Pinterest and spend at least an hour a day coloring while either watching a show or listening to an audiobook. I especially love the latter because it allows me enough brain power to stay captivated to the story, but does not allow my mind to wander off. It’s definitely my favorite creative pursuit of late.

What’s working for you in this new year?

My one little word: 2015 wrap up and 2016 choice

Like many, this past year I chose a word to represent my 2015.  The word I chose was mindfulness.  I do think it was a successful choice, particularly in these past few tough months. Taking some time to pay attention to the small things around me, such as the beauty of the snow on the leaves, and the holiday Christmas lights, paid huge dividends. I also was more mindful of how I treated my body – even in those instances where I made bad choices, I at least was able to acknowledge the fact that I made a bad choice.

Not going to lie – this year was a tough one, probably the toughest I’ve faced. I am hoping for a year of less personal and professional upheaval in 2016.  As I reflected on what I wanted this year’s word to be, I tried on several in my head.  “Transition” seemed too negative, “grace” felt too religious. “Kindness” was pretty close, but then I went back to a theme that has always radiated through me: Choosing love.

Loving myself, and making the choices that seem true to me.

Loving others, and making a greater conscious focus on choosing to help those around me.

Loving my family, and doing everything I can to make my kids’ childhood joyous and teaching them lessons to become successful adults. Treasuring moments with my extended family. Telling people I love them.

Giving people more hugs, more touches, more asking “are you OK?”

Love, my friends. It is the difference.

These two. The things I love the most.


A few thoughts from December

This holiday seems more depressing than most. You would think there’s more of a chill in the air based on some of the colder news we’ve faced, everything from the attacks in Beirut and Paris, to several folks dear to me who were diagnosed with incurable diseases, to the fact that we STILL own an extra house…

It’s been resonating with me lately, these things like this and this or this, that talk about choosing to see the light as we move forward to the night that is silent, the darkest night. You may view this in the religious sense, or in the more metaphoric way that I’m approaching it. We need the shadows to appreciate the beginnings of the light.

I have a Christmas list that I’ve barely started working on. My kids have not yet seen Santa Claus.  I keep ogling cookie exchanges and hot cocoa recipes, but resort to Swiss Miss and Oreos on a far-too-regular basis.

But at the same time…

I got to have a Jingle Bell singalong with my daughter.  We made a gingerbread house for the first time over Thanksgiving.  My son is doing winter sports this year and we’re starting to see the benefits of it. It hasn’t been cold.  Some days as I’m driving to and from work, I notice the beauty of the Christmas lights. When I drove into my parents’ driveway to pick up C from babysitting, I stopped for a second to savor the familiarity of seeing their tree in the window, every year, making me smile for each of my 34 years.

The “light” list is still longer, is it not?  Maybe I’m just finally learning to look for the tiny specks of it as more of the darkness comes around me.

Is it all a facade?

I’ve been trying to get into the habit of Morning Pages. I think mine may end up being End Of the Day pages, because the two days I tried last week, I ended up majorly crimping my arm because I was in such a rush. So its do them at night, or wake up at 5, and I’m just not in the mind to do the early mornings any more.

One of the themes that has stumbled out of my subconscious of these pages is the fear that all I am doing in this space is a sham, that I am not truly any happier than I was a few years ago. But then I look around and see myself noticing things, like all the holiday lights that are suddenly up in my neighborhood. Or my mother-in-law doing a gingerbread house with my kids this weekend. I deeply believe that a few years ago, I wouldn’t have taken the time to notice the simplicity of these things. Being joyful is a choice, just like what we eat (ugh, 5 lb weight gain), what we say, and what we do. 

I worry that by taking the time to do things like visit the apple orchards, bake cookies, and go for color tours, it’s not for the sheer enjoyment, it’s for the showcasing. Sometimes as I’m taking a photo of my kids, I think “Is this only so I can share it?” The struggle of our generation, I presume. But then I look back at those times with genuine smiles later on.

On another note, has it really been 26 days since I posted? I miss real computer time. We do have an outstanding offer on the money pit known as our old house…sending vibes that it goes through and we can move forward to the next part of our lives, whatever that may be. 

A few shots from the weekend:


watching the Thanksgiving Day parade
building a human body replica. the joy of cleaning out closets and finding new toys!
convincing his sister not to eat the gingerbread house
one of many forts built over this weekend
the finished tree