Herbster Home for Sale

Update: On Monday, October 27 we sold this home and thus this chapter in our lives. The new owners seem wonderful and I hope they enjoy the house in a way we were never got a chance to. While I am happy that it sold, I can’t help but wonder about all of the “what ifs” that went with the property.

The backstory behind how we ended up owning a 3-bedroom home near Lake Superior in Herbster, Wisconsin is a whole different story. But, today, it is with mixed emotions that we’ve decided to sell it.

The view from the road.
The view from the road.

I still remember that crisp fall day when we walked the property for the first time. The former hobby farmer in me was fascinated by the outbuildings and aged barn. Next to it, a spacious back yard, 30 acres of woods to explore and winding ATV trails that intersect with deer paths satisfied my curious side. While an artisan well watering the field out back with water from Lake Superior’s Basin reminded me just how close we were to the greatest of great lakes, Lake Superior.

A second story deck provides the perfect spot to read, write or dream.
A second story deck provides the perfect spot to read, write or dream.

Glancing upward, I notice a second story balcony overlooking the property providing the perfect writer’s nook and I couldn’t help but wonder if this unexpected purchase was a glimpse into my future. As we toured the home, the word character kept coming to mind. It was clear the previous owners had a vision for this renovated farmhouse. In the kitchen, new cabinets and flooring, along with new windows provided the floor plan for a modern day, functional kitchen. The gorgeously crafted tongue and groove ceilings, spacious family room and open floor plan provided plenty of room for a growing family to run around. Upstairs, the bedrooms were simple but large, with access to newly finished deck. Standing there, I could almost taste my morning coffee. There were snippets of wonder and vision as I toured the property. An unfinished loft space that was designated for a second story hot tub seemed to be more appropriate for a second bathroom. The previous owner’s love of blue, including blue carpets and a blue first story bathroom was a bit extreme for this gal’s love of neutral. But these cosmetic differences were easy fixes in the grand scheme of things.

As we left the house, Steve and I had a moment of pause. Could we leave our life in Iron River to start a new life in Herbster? Our immediate response was absolutely. I could already envision roasting coffee from the outbuilding, planting a pear orchard and having my own 1-acre vegetable garden. I could see our kids exploring the woods, chasing deer and harvesting mushrooms without ever having to leave our property. I could see our family biking the mere couple miles to the shores of Lake Superior to enjoy a summer filled with sand and sun. It could in fact be the perfect life. But, life is a bit more complicated than that. The realities of our jobs and the life we’ve built on Moon Lake topped our dreams of starting a new life in Herbster. We’ve sat on these dreams for a few years as we rented this property out. But, at this juncture in our life, we’ve decided to sell. So I write this post with mixed emotions. If you or someone you know of is looking to start a new life away from the rat race, near the shores of Lake Superior in some of the most gorgeous country around, this property is worth checking out. Here’s the nitty gritty details: Escape the rat race in this for sale by owner 3-bedroom, one bathroom home (1,900 sq. ft) just 2 miles from Lake Superior in Herbster on a beautiful 5-acre wooded lot. Option to buy an additional 30 acres of prime hunting land adjacent to the proerty. Highlights include Internet fiber optic wired to the home, new windows, newly remodeled kitchen, tongue and groove ceiling, second story deck off master bedroom, 4 car garage, maintained trails on backside of property, large yard, an outbuilding and an option to buy up to 30 additional acres of prime hunting land. Closing and title insurance will be professionally handled by Wisconsin Title. Priced to sell at $104,900 or $134,900 with the additional 30 acres. Private showings available starting in late-May. Call Steve at 218-269-6776 for additional information or to set-up a showing. At this price, this home won’t stay on the market long. I’ve also included the PDF of our poster for you to share as well. South Shore Property For Sale

The Perfect Marketing Storm

The calendar says April 4 but if I look out my window, I have the joys of seeing a fresh foot of snow. As someone who is training for a half-marathon, this is extremely annoying. Muster up a conversation with anyone in the tri-county or possibly tri-state area, and the conversation will likely turn to this unseasonably miserable winter. As a life long northlander, I get winter. I get miserable weather but honestly, enough is enough. On a side note, this winter will go down in the history books for more than just the longest winter ever. Around here it’ll always be remembered as the year the Sea Caves went viral. The social media, marketing, story teller in me couldn’t help but attempt to explore why this happened in this month’s Business North.

Of course, I didn’t draw any incredible conclusion. But, it was a fun, powerful lesson and reminder about the fact that television news isn’t dead, social media matters, people love selfies of themselves in front of cool things (which will cause others to long for said selfie), and there’s nothing like a Hail Mary Polar Vortex on your side to boost tourism in the northwoods. Here’s a link to the article.

If you stumble across any other recaps about the Sea Caves or want to share a post about your experience at the caves, send them my way. I’d love to share them here. In the meantime, here were a few of my favorites. Some make this list for incredible writing. Some make this list for great photos. And some make this list for over-the-top reporting that makes it sound like the Sea Caves are either a new thing or that hiking on Lake Superior (in the winter) is something incredibly unusual. I’ll let you be the judge…

The Surreal Apostle Islands May Only Be Visitable For Another Few Weeks: Huffington Post

Almost Otherworldly: The Sea Caves of Lake Superior, On Ice: NPR

Lake Superior Freezes, Revealing Ice Caves Blocked for Five Years: Esquire

Winter Gives Access to Dramatic Ice Caves Along Lake Superior: Pioneer Press

Our Morning at the Ice Caves: The Cookery Maven

Sea Caves Shrowded In Ice Open to Explorers: NBC News (local affiliate reporter)

Lake Sueprior’s Ice Caves Offer Glimpse of Nature’s Fleeting Beauty: CBS Evening News

Rare Frozen Path on Lake Superior Opens Dazzling Ice Caves to Hikers: LA Times

Guest Shots: The Sea Caves of Cornucopia: frankjhutton.blogspot.com

Exploring the Frozen Caves of Lake Superior: The Baltimore Sun

The Beautiful Ice Caves of Northern Wisconsin: Stonehouse Photo Blog

Extreme Weather Exposes Rare Ice Caves in US: Aljazeera

 

 

Celebrating 36 My Way

Token Selfie at the Apostle Islands Sea Caves
Token Selfie at the Apostle Islands Sea Caves

I turned 36 today. As of this moment, I’ve been an adult longer than a kid. I officially feel old. I thought this might kick in when I turned 30 but that was a breeze compared to today. Perhaps it is because I’m a new mom. Perhaps it is because I have now fully accepted I cannot start my day without a cup of coffee and that just seems like such an old person issue. Or, perhaps it is because I keep nursing a multitude of aches and pains resulting from a combination of training for my next half-marathon and just everyday life. Either way, I feel old.

To celebrate 36, I opted for solitude. These past few years I’ve really come to terms that despite being a freelance writer and public relations guru by day, I am in fact the world’s largest introvert. I love interacting with people. I love connecting the dots between friends and colleagues. But there is nothing more I love than disconnecting from everyone and everything and just being lost in my thoughts. Better yet, stick me with those thoughts alone in the wilderness with a camera.

I’m not sure if you had heard but the Apostle Islands Sea Caves opened up for the first time in 5-years. (Yes I’m joking). I’ve walked these hidden gems in the past. My first time was while living in Duluth. I ventured over the bridge to the unknown “south shore”.  This magical place felt like it was days away versus 45 minutes from Duluth. I was instantly in love, not just with the caves but also the hidden gems along the way. It was Lake Superior in all her glory but without the people.  That frosty mid-week morning I was the only one wandering through these majestic, ice adorned caves.

At the time, I never thought I’d end up living in Wisconsin. What little I knew about my future. Several years later I ventured out to the caves again, this time with Steve. We were dating at the time and despite claiming he was the great outdoorsman, he had never bothered to visit the caves. It was a day filled with laughter, endless picture taking and another affirmation that I had found the man I wanted to live with forever.

And today, I returned to the Sea Caves again. I know I’m a bit late to the game but my goal was to enjoy the caves alone. As each day passed that they were open, the numbers of visitors grew exponentially. I couldn’t seem to find a moment to escape my day-to-day responsibilities to beat the morning, afternoon, and weekend crowds that were coming from all around the world to see this wonder.

When the notice came out that the caves were closing, I realized time had run out. It was now or never. I woke at 6 am to arrive at the Sea Cave parking lot around 7. As day’s first light broke, I made my way down to Lake Superior to discover I wasn’t alone. But, alone enough given 125,000 folks have visited the caves in a mere two months.

At midnight the caves close. My birthday passes. All things considered, it was an uneventful birthday. But, it follows an eventful year of buying new land, becoming a mom, growing my freelance and returning to the streets to prepare for my fourth Half-Marathon. I’ve learned lots and discovered I really know nothing. I’ve made new friends, found new hobbies and grown as a person. I look forward to all 36 has to offer and sharing it with those around me, while embracing my quiet moments alone.  In the meantime, one final look at today’s hike.

The Future is Bright: Why Print is King for Northwest Wisconsin’s Largest Shopper

*Update: In July, 2015, Gary LaPean sold the Evergreen Country Shopper to Adams Publishing Group LLC. Read the full announcement here.

If you happen to know my husband, you know he lives for a good deal. This is why every Saturday, without fail, we head to the gas station to grab a copy of the Evergreen Country Shopper. We’ve bought and sold more cars, sleds man cave toys than I’d like to admit via this Shopper. Sure, we love our Craigslist as well but in northwest Wisconsin, print is still king when it comes to selling your treasures. This past fall, I had an opportunity sit down with the man behind the Shopper and learn the rich history of the company and why he believes print will remain king when it comes to his shopper. It ran in the December issue of Business North. But in case you missed, it, here’s you go:

Gary LaPean
Gary LaPean

Ashland Wisconsin businessman Gary LaPean, 70 considers his day-to-day management of multiple businesses a way to stay young. He says he learned it from his business friend Don Moore who formally owned a business on Main Street Ashland.

“Even though he’s retired and his kids have taken over the business, he still goes in to work every day. He goes from morning to night and never seems to age. I’m modeling my life after this,” LaPean says.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Over 40-years ago, LaPean set a goal of owning his own business by the time he was 30. He dreamed of owning a radio station and was managing several Ashland stations at the time, along with some weekly shoppers out of Michigan.

Before he knew it he was 31 and he hadn’t reached his goal. It was at this point he knew he needed to act. “My first choice was to buy a radio station in Ashland but I needed to come up with a plan b if that didn’t work,” he says.

At the time, the Ashland market didn’t have a weekly shopper. “I saw potential there,” he explains. But, while he knew the finance side of a weekly shopper, he didn’t know the day-to-day side.  To learn it, he drove to Waupaca, Wisconsin and spent some time learning the day-to-day operations of a shopper by the owner down there. Then, in the spring of 1974, he and his wife Kay launched the Evergreen Country Shopper.

“We worked 60-80 hours per week those first years,” LaPean says. “But we were young and could do it.” It wasn’t a walk in the park. “It was tough in the beginning. We were trying to build a brand and establish a reputations for ourselves.” It didn’t help when the daily paper in-town launched a shopper within their newspaper in response to LaPean’s product. But, it lasted less than a year. Meantime, LaPean has been in business for 39-years and counting.

Over the years, he’s grown his businesses to include owning multiple storefronts in Ashland, Printing Plus Screenline and additional shoppers.

The shoppers came first. Within a couple of years of launching Evergreen Country Shopper, LaPean added the North Country Sun out of Ironwood, Michigan and later the Park Falls Shopper to his portfolio. By owning all three, he could justify the purchase of his own web press that allows him to print his shoppers along with other papers as far away as Chicago. But, his bread and butter remain the weekly shoppers.

Today, the combined three shoppers reach about 40,000 homes in northwest Wisconsin. And, while most daily print newspapers are scrambling to find ways to make money on the web, LaPean says his business model is different.

The paper, which features items for sales and ads about upcoming events and deals in the region, is a good news alternative to what else is available in the market. But, it is also a cost-effective way for folks to reach a large audience.

“For less than $5, you can place a want ad that will reach 40,000 homes,” LaPean says. “Where else can you do that?” While online options like CragisList are free, LaPean says they don’t have the same effectiveness in northwest Wisconsin as his product does.

LaPean says his annual research shows that about 90% of those who receive the Shopper, read it and prefer to have a hard copy in hand. In the Ashland market, this equates to about 12,500 readers. “There is nothing with even half that distribution in our market,” LaPean says. When you add in the Ironwood and Park Falls distribution, that number grows even higher.

The paper can be found online, but not until Monday. This is in part because a large portion of LaPean’s revenue comes from the inserts within the shopper, such as the grocery store and big box store ads. The best way to view those is through the hard copy of the paper.

“Reading our product online is not a natural fit for us,” LaPean says. “We’re ready to evolve if the market demands but right now it isn’t our focus.”

They don’t see that changing in the immediate future. “Right now we are really good at what we do and we have a solid future ahead of us.”

In terms of succession plans, LaPean’s daughter and son-in-law left strong careers in the Pharmaceutical industry down in Texas to return home and work at the Shopper. While LaPean refuses to give up doing what he loves, he does say it provides some peace of mind for his employees. “They could run the place if needed. And, it assures that my long-time employees will have a place to retire.”

The paper is more than just a business to LaPean.  As a good community steward, he shares some of his success by giving back to the community. He’s served on the Ashland County Board, Ashland’s Unified School District Board of Education, Ashland Airport Commission, Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Northland College Board of Trustees.

He’s active within his church formerly serving on the church council. He enjoys theater and has starred in several area productions along with MC’ing dozens of local events. Throughout the years he’s been recognized as the JC of the Year, Elk of the Year, Ashland’s Outstanding Person of the Year along with the Evergreen Country Shopper being named Business of the Year. LaPean also brought smiles to hundreds of folks as a stilted clown for more than 40-years. He recently had to retire at this gig but says he plans to do an encore performance when he turns 75.

Back at the paper, he regularly donates ad space to regional nonprofits. He employs 46 people, 34 of which are currently full-time. In addition, there is a large network of delivery folks delivering the shopper door-to-door.

Ashland Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary McPhetridge says the community is fortunate to have the LaPeans.

“They are committed to the success of the Ashland Area and have many vested interests both financially and socially.  They are native to the Ashland area. They are a second generation company, with the possibility of grandchildren that may eventually run their business. In my opinion this is the definition of Hometown. They love this area and the people that live here and have made a commitment to stay for the long haul.”

32 Days of Jacob

Pretend this is in focus. I am too lazy to download pics off my actual camera so this will have to do.
Pretend this is in focus. I am too lazy to download pics off my actual camera so this will have to do.

Thirty-two happens to be my favorite number. Think Duke’s Fabulous Five and Christian Laettner. What can I say, some things from my middle school days stick. So, in honor of Jacob being 32 days old, I thought I’d share these 32 facts that many a mother has shared before me, but I didn’t believe until going through this myself. I write this one-handed as I rock him, nurse him and make a silent prayer that he takes an afternoon nap. Despite that, I wouldn’t change this for anything. Even at 32-days, he is still my miracle baby.

  • Newborns are extraordinarily resilient. Mothers (especially first time moms) are not.
  • Tears. There will be lots of tears. They will not be from your child. You think you can control them. You can’t.
  • Diapers. So many diapers. With so many various surprises that leave you talking a lot about poop. That is all.
  • Those first smiles – just signaling the need to use more diapers. It is not your child being a genius.
  • Breastfeeding is not this beautiful and easy part of motherhood. Your child does not make sweet sounds while you sit back and relax knowing you are nourishing your baby.  It is work.
  • You will make mistakes. Daily.
  • You will take shortcuts. The sooner you accept this doesn’t make you a bad mom, the better.
  • There is no such thing as supermom. Just being a mom, is frankly super enough.
  • Some friends will be annoyed by your constant baby talk or just check-out of your life. Guess what – they were never your friends to begin with. It has nothing to do with you changing. Life events should change you.
  • Raising a puppy is not the same as raising a child. Duh. Should have figured that out sooner.
  • You will be very tired. Very, very tired. Even if you sleep when he does. It doesn’t matter. Your very strong friendship with coffee will be reunited.
  • Stalking old friends on Facebook will be a regular occurrence during your endless feedings.
  • You will spend all day running around like crazy but get to the end of the day and discover you’ve accomplished nothing but surviving.
  • Life will be measured in ounces, number of wet diapers, and minutes sleeping. Everything else is just details.
  • You will quickly learn how to eat one handed while rocking. Those who can’t, will perish.
  • You’ll gain perspective on what matters in life. Guess what? It isn’t the new car you bought. (Even though I still do love my new Forester).
  • Car seat buckles suck.
  • Someone needs to invent an inexpensive solution to hands free pumping without having to change, create a homemade bra or sit hunched over like a cow being milked.
  • The overpriced swing that you thought you didn’t need—be really glad you have it.
  • The swaddle swoosh route will only take you so far.
  • You can never have enough burp rags.  But, you can in fact have too many newborn onesies that he will outgrow before he even gets a chance to wear them.
  • Your eardrums will learn to tune out or turn down your child’s moments of rage.
  • Your nose will learn to ignore the smell of sour formula.
  • You will learn to shower in under 10-minutes with one ear tuned in for crying. This will be the closest thing to “getting ready” you’ll do for a while.
  • Even the best baby in the world has bad days. Moms who tell you differently either have selective memory or are liars.
  • The good moments outweigh the bad.
  • You’ll find yourself obsessed with baby photos and overwhelmed with love for any and all of your friends who are having, had or thinking about having babies.
  • You’ll have a new gratitude for other friends who are willing to talk candidly about makeshift solutions for parenting.
  • The first time he grabs your finger, looks into your eyes and babbles to you, life will never be the same.
  • It is an overwhelming and awesome sense of responsibility to have someone so innocent rely on you for everything.
  • There is a special zen that happens every time he nestles on you, grabs your shirt and falls into a deep sleep. These are the moments you will never get back.

Despite every day being so incredibly long, before you know it, your little guy won’t be so little so take everyone’s advice to just cherish every moment – good and bad. It is a lot to take in, so quickly. But, like millions of mothers before me, this too shall pass. And, before I know it, there will be a whole new set of wisdom to acknowledge.

 

 

Hi, my name is Jacob.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t know if you heard but since mom had me, she’s taking a small break from blogging and writing in general. So, I thought I’d take her spot and introduce myself. My name is Jacob William Probst. Son of the Probst clan on Moon Lake. I was born on August 8, 2013 weighing in at 6 pound 12 ounces.

Life has been pretty crazy the past few months. I guess years for mom. But that pre-dates me so I’ll start with what I’ve been up to. A few months ago, I decided to give mom a run for her money and play with her blood pressure. My goal was to get her on bed rest so that she’d have time to rest up before I arrived. I quickly discovered she is not the greatest listener. It turns out she’s also old (35 for Pete’s sake). The combination resulted in me getting a little antsy. Which I guess resulted in the doctors getting a little antsy which ultimately resulted in them attempting to jump start my delivery date.

Guess what? I didn’t like that. I refused to come out. Mom suffered for about 25 hours before the doc finally said, I don’t think your little guy wants to come out. You think? I still had 3 more weeks of lounging to do. But, the doc had different plans for me. Next think I knew I was screaming bloody murder and the clock of life had officially started. It turns out in my wild days I had somehow put a true knot in my lifeline (aka cord) and wrapped it around my neck, so it is probably good it ended this way. I know mom, dad and docs were relieved this chapter of my life was over.

Since then, we’ve been chilling as a family after an extended stay at the hospital. Turns out in addition to me, mom and dad have four very hairy kids. They like to sniff around me, especially while I’m eating. I haven’t had a chance to look in the mirror yet but I can only hope I’m cuter (and not as hairy). A couple of them tend to puke up what I’ve heard are hairballs—my spit-up doesn’t even hold a candle to that nastiness. But, I definitely poop more so I’ve got them beat on that end.

Mom says I’m a miracle baby. She tends to say this when she’s crying (which is daily right now but she keeps saying they are tears of joy so that’s a good thing I guess). If you ask dad, he’d say there is a scientific explanation for how I came to be. But, I’ve seen the way he looks at me when he thinks nobody is watching. While new to this whole life thing, I must admit I’m digging this whole unconditional love thing.

Since coming home, I’ve went on several adventures. My first stroller ride was to the local library with mom. Mom and dad are obsessed with books… I wonder if they recognize by the time I’m in school, books will be so old school. That said, we practically have a library in our house and I already have a book shelf packed with books. Mom’s been reading me OK magazine. Dad says it’ll make me stupid. But, I must admit I enjoy hearing the latest about all of the celebrity babies right now, although Prince George and North West are not nearly as cool as Jacob of Moon Lake.

We did a family hike on our Herbster land. Dad says this land will be the down payment for my college. Not sure what that means but it has lots of trees so that’s cool I guess. Rumor has it that my dad makes his money off of trees. Afterwards we went to Lake Superior. I like water but I wasn’t crazy enough to go swimming in it the way Joey did. She’s nuts. Granted, she’s a lot furrier than I, but still the world’s largest lake can’t be too warm. Even a baby knows that.

Twice now we’ve went to something called garage sales. I’m not quite sure why we are bargaining on other people’s garbage but mom, and especially dad, seem to get a kick out of it. Supposedly, a lot of the things I have come from these odd sales. I just enjoy them because it means I get to ride in the car, which is very relaxing. That said, most of my car time has ended with time at the doctor’s office. I guess I lost a lot of weight in the beginning which had some folks on edge. But, I’ve been eating like a horse and yesterday I officially weighed in at bigger than my birth weight. (Even if you factor in the 2 ounces of milk I spit-up right after they finished weighing me).

I’ve also met quite a few old people. Family, friends, co-workers, and even random folks off the street who cock their head to one side and ogle me like I’m some rare, precious gem. Lots of people seem very happy to meet me and are constantly congratulating mom and dad. That said, I do know I’m pretty special so I can see why folks would say that.

This weekend I’m heading to my first County Fair. Mom says I’m too young to enjoy my first mini doughnut. But, she thinks I’ll enjoy looking at furry, four legged creatures. (I think she’s more into taking pictures of me near said creatures). She also has dreams of my winning the mutton busting competition some day. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

After that, I’m not sure what comes next. This whole time thing has me tripped up. Mom says we need to take it moment by moment. Dad doesn’t seem to acknowledge time at all. My life is measured in days. My feedings are measured in minutes. My sleep is measured in hours while mom’s is measured in cat naps. All of that said, I’m operating on what I call Jacob time.

More soon-

Surprise! My Journey to Motherhood…

My life in 90 seconds.

This is in fact one of the worst kept secrets of all-time for me. I guess it isn’t so much that it is a secret but rather an odd thing to share beyond my close circle of friends and colleagues who need to know from a planning standpoint. However, as my pants get tighter and I admit that I am no longer training for my 4th Half-Marathon, I wanted to clear up the confusion as to why. So there you have it.

The past month has been a flurry of writing activity. With tourism season around the corner (should spring ever arrive), I hope to post about a couple local favorites including the awesome Delta Diner and year-round gallery favorite Karlyn’s in Washburn, Wisconsin. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’ll share this. For those who don’t like corny, feel free to stop reading right now. In January, I started a 90-day program with the creative and inspirational Leslie Hamp. The program, Create the Life You Crave, was a chance to pause this winter, take stock on life, set some tangible goals and work to achieve them. Of course, life threw a curveball because immediately after I set my goals and 24-hours before the program started, I learned I was pregnant. That said, I still managed to adjust my course of action, achieve some of my goals and better understand where I’m going in life. Not bad for 90-days. The course ended with a vision board. While my artistic talent is lacking, it is a great reminder of what matters in life.

As part of the course work, we were asked to write about our perfect day. No additional parameters were set other than to dream big. I immediately dived in, knowing exactly what my perfect day encompasses: Nature, exercise, quality conversations and encounters, great food and coffee, and some quiet. To this, I added the impending news of baby, which is 5-years in the making. My perfect day goes something like this:

I awake as the sun breaks on Moon Lake. A loon serenades me as I face a new day full of promise. I tiptoe down the stairs and start water on the stove—a base for a freshly pressed cup of light roast coffee I made on the grill earlier this week. While waiting for the familiar whistle signaling the water is ready, I peak into the nursery for my daily reminder that miracles happen.

By the time my first cup is down, baby is awake with a freshly changed diaper via my hubby. It is Saturday and we’ve got the entire day ahead of us to explore. Once dressed, we head to the Farmer’s Market in Port Wing where we buy freshly baked bread to accompany the giant beefsteak tomatoes and basil from our garden at home. From there, we continue on to our land in Herbster where we take our little one out and about to check and trim the balsams on our Christmas Tree farm that’ll one day be home to an important family tradition. Then, it is off to the beach in Cornucopia for a picnic and opportunity to listen to the solitude of Lake Superior while enjoying fresh smoked whitefish. Baby dips her toes in the Big Lake for the first time and squeals with joy. Fully relaxed, we continue along on our South Shore journey, wandering the shops of Bayfield, indulging in an ice cream sandwich from Tetzners, picking berries in our special spot and buying goat cheese from Sassy Nanny at Coco’s to round-out our dinner all while snapping endless photos along the way.

We head home for an evening boat ride on Moon Lake. Our neighbors are out and before we know it, a small group has gathered on our deck for dinner. We fire up the grill and fill it with veggie kabobs freshly picked from our garden and burgers from Jim’s and enjoy sides from the treasures we’ve picked up throughout the day. As the sun sets, we build a bonfire and watch babies wonderment directed at the flickering flames. Surrounded by friends and family, I am reminded that perfection comes in many forms.

Everyday is not this perfect. But, my life is filled with love and balance and family. I am healthy enough to chase after baby, run half-marathons and swim across Moon Lake. Work is fulfilling – I’m a full-time PR specialist with enough time to freelance write about the area I love and continue working on my self-published book, while staying at 40-hours per week. I balance the rest of my time out with board service and volunteering with an ultimate goal of building a new Youth Center and Library in Iron River, writing that next great American novel, exercising, cooking, gardening, reading, traveling, being a loving mother, sister, daughter and wife and having meaningful, rich relationships with friends, neighbors and colleagues.

Despite these dreams, I also accept and recognize that my self-published book will not hit the New York Times Best Selling List and that I may not succeed in building a new library in Iron River, become the next Julia Childs, break a Half-Marathon record or win All-American mother. But, for the first time in my life, I am ok with this. I have come to the conclusion that it is better to live life to the fullest and fail than to give up at the first sign of imperfection. The journey to motherhood has taught me to be vulnerable, to let go and find resolution with the unknown. To accept I cannot control everything and that things might now always go my way. But if I believe I am enough, than I am in fact enough, even if others don’t feel the same.

Brené Browne in her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead says, “Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.” Oh so true. And how I love her.

I realized a few days later after reading this back to myself that my perfect day is in fact, my current life. Sure, it all doesn’t play out in a single day. But, all of these components are very real and important parts of my daily routine. This didn’t happen by accident, or without a ton of missteps, miscalculations, mistakes and sacrifice. But, in hindsight, I wouldn’t trade that journey for anything. It makes today, that much sweeter.

I know things won’t always be this perfect. And, there are plenty of things I can keep on doing in the self-improvement category. But for now, I want to savor the fact that hard work and being true to one’s self pays off in the end. I hope everyone can feel this way at least once in their life—it truly makes up for all the days that don’t pan out this way.