Tough Transitions

Something tells me that maybe somewhere someone needs to hear this. At least I know I do and I figure I cannot be alone. As a writer, I understand that words matter. I had initially wanted to call this post, setbacks suck. Instead, I’m trying this. Tough Transitions. So much of my life these past few months have been about transitions. This past week, it came to a head in something that is most definitely a first world problem, but was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

My race was cancelled. The one I started pre-training for in January after my dad died and was just hitting my stride on in my real training. The one that I’ve been religiously training for because I needed a win. Not in the literal sense – let’s be real. But, in the sense that I needed to feel in control of something.

Sure, I knew it was a long shot when I signed up. COVID-19 is still real and I respect the very tough decisions race organizers are facing right now. But dam, I needed that weekend to push myself. Yes. I know I can run any number of virtual races. Yes. I know my husband would set-up a mock half-marathon course and cheer me on. But that’s not the point. I had a plan and my plan was turned upside down… again.

I was really mad. So mad I almost deleted Hal’s training plan right off my phone. I definitely was NOT going to hop on the treadmill for my 3.5 mile run without a reason. I definitely wanted to have a pity party. And man did the waterfall of tears start flowing.

To be honest, I’m a bit sad. I’m really, really tired of losing things. And, no matter how hard I try, this idea of finding meaning in the hard stuff is kicking me in the ass. Yep. I’m going there. I think it is time to say that sometimes things just flat-out suck. The silver lining just isn’t there. That if handed rotten lemons, one could make nasty lemon-aid or they could just say, throw the lemons out.

That’s where I’m at today. There is no silver lining to losing my dad. Yes. He is done suffering. And, I am so glad that he is no longer in pain. I am glad that my dad got to make the decision but that doesn’t ease so many of the what-ifs. And, it definitely doesn’t change my reality. I’ve lost my rock and sounding board. In many ways, a huge part of my purpose.

So yep. I’m mad and sad and not ready to find any silver lining. I don’t want to know his legacy lives on in his kids. I want him here. I want him here to say to me right now, who cares if your race was cancelled. Find another. I want him here to provide me perspective and tell me that running will probably kill me someday because it is hard on my knees. I want to fight over the price of a rib-eye and the weather differences between Iron River and Cloquet. I don’t want to drive by the Scanlon exit but rather to it.

So yes, the cancelling of the May 1 race triggered a lot. It reminded me that I need to give myself some flipping grace. That I’m not ok and right now, that has to be ok. That every day I get up and try hard and do the minimum is a win right now. I’m still showering (most days). I’m still loving on my kid and dancing in the shower and finding joy in the most superficial of things (amazon deliveries are almost daily). I’ve settled on a new vitamin stack and I’m letting Hal tell me what to do 4-times per week. And, I’m trying to come to terms with my new reality of being an orphan. I don’t say that for pity. I say that because words matter. And while I am so blessed to have so many incredible people in my life, I am an orphan at 42. It sucks.

On a different day, I might try to say that family isn’t just who you were born to but who you befriend along the way. That I am so blessed to have incredible in-laws and friends and a soul mate and a son. But guess what? I had all of that and dad up until December. So nope, no silver lining yet. No greater sense of purpose or understanding or acceptance. It doesn’t diminish the moments I cherish and the time we had together. It just means I still wish he was here back when he was healthy. Back when we’d play catch in the backyard and chat about nothing for hours on end.

Will it get better? I don’t know. Lots of people say it will evolve and change and become the new normal. An extended transition I suppose. But, the road seems really long right now. So, I’m trying to find control in the little things. The Door County Half was one of those. But, that to turned out to be another transition.

If you’re wondering, when my pity party ended, I ran the 3.5 miles. I found a back-up run that’s 10-miles on the same day. My friend was gracious enough to follow my change of plans. I got back on the saddle and said tomorrow is another day. A chance that maybe someday the moments of joy will outweigh the sadness.

Transitions are tough. They are one of the hardest things to get right when writing. They are painful and cruel in real life. A necessary evil to grow and evolve and to do better. I’m hopeful that some of the roughest, choppiest transitions in life pave the way to something I never could imagine. I’m cautiously hopeful that’s what my future holds. That if I continue to show up and speak my truth, my experiences can someday help someone else through a tough transition.

So if that’s you, I hear you and I feel your pain. I won’t say I try to understand it or that things will eventually get better. Inevitably, just like pain found you, I want to believe joy will find its way to you again as well. At least that’s what I’m banking on.

To tough transitions and finding ways through them without losing sight of all that’s good. Sixty days and counting until race day. Let’s go.

PS For those struggling with grief. A game changing books that have helped me…

It’s ok that you’re not ok by Megan Devine

Training, podcasts, and pasta!

Sporting my newest training ball cap. Being a mom is the hardest and most rewarding journey of them all!

Valentine’s Day. What a loaded holiday of unmet expectations. I’m gearing up to channel my inner Finlander by eating my weight in carbs with this TikTok phenomenon known as uunifetapasta. I’ll enjoy this savory meal with my favorite men and a chilled shot of Teramana, Cointreau, lime and Sprite Zero. It isn’t quite a margarita but might be one of the best drinks of ALL time.

But, before I do that, I wanted to talk a little bit about love. Yep. I’m going there. This week marked my first Amazon review by someone I didn’t know. On my first-time author journey, this was a big deal because I honestly didn’t know if anyone who didn’t feel obligated to the read book would. And, it turns out some folks have.

It also tuns out, at least one person, loved it. From Hildee Weiss, “I loved hearing her story of how she got into running and I enjoyed reading her tips and suggestions ranging from what to eat before a big race to what to look for in a shoe. She writes with honesty and humor and with heart.” A five-star review. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it felt pretty amazing.

My writing is far from perfect. But, the one thing I pride myself on is being honest. I write my truth, for better or worse. I mean how many other gals share their stories about shit-stained pants for the world to see? And, it turns out that vulnerability occasionally resonates with like-minded women trying to find their way in the world. Enough so, that I’m excited to announce that starting tomorrow I’ll be occasionally sharing my running adventures on Another Mother Runner. Dimity and Sarah have been absolutely fabulous to chat with and they are kind enough to allow me to share some stories on the amazing platform they’ve built over the past decade. I am pretty excited. If you are interested in checking it out, sign up for their podcast here. This past week, I also had the opportunity to share more about my running journey on WTIP out of Grand Marais. I was once again extremely nervous, but Annie was an amazing host and it was an absolute honor to share my adventures with folks in Grand Marais. I also dropped off copies of my book at Zenith Bookstore in Duluth, making it now available in 5 places!

Most weeks, this would be beyond exciting. But the thing I’m most excited about this particular week is I just finished Week 1 of my 12-week half-marathon training plan. It was sub-zero so my time was spent on the dreaded treadmill. I had four training runs for a total of 12 miles. And guess what? I did all 12-miles. This week I loved myself enough not to quit running. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy. I used all of the hacks. Tim Riggins. Ordering new shoes. Drinking Nuun and using the massage gun. Scheduling the work-outs in my calendar. Doing the Mel Robbins countdown and channeling my inner sisu. Yes. I know that sounds a bit dramatic. But, I’m being honest. Running isn’t easy for me. Especially after a year plus hiatus.

And you know what? It felt good to keep my promise to myself. It felt good to move my body. It felt good to focus on putting one foot in front of another after a challenging month of navigating grief and a harsh Wisconsin Winter. Thank god for therapy, friends and family. I don’t know what the next 75-days hold. I do know that right now I’m savoring this week’s wins and lacing up for another week of showing up not just for those around me, but for myself as well.      

The promises we keep

Ten hours after my father died, I found myself in a pet store trying to comprehend the clerk as she explained she could not legally sell my son and I goldfish due to not having the appropriate tank prepped for the occasion. It was Christmas Eve afternoon and I had promised my son we’d surprise dad with a fish for Christmas. I was still under the impression that a 25-cent goldfish did not take an act of congress to secure. In the haste of navigating nursing homes, a global pandemic, a hospital transfer and hospice, I had neglected researching the complexities behind purchasing a simple fish. Standing under the fluorescent lights of the big box pet store, I fought back tears (and some serious anger) as my mind raced to come up with a back-up plan.  

Meantime, my son, ever so resilient, immediately suggested we peruse the pet store aisles for a pet we could take home that afternoon. He guided me blindly up and down the aisles and before we knew it, I was seconds away from making a 2-year commitment and walking out with a hamster. I was all in until my son confirmed that hamster poop was beneath him and that it’d be my responsibility. In that moment, I regained control, fought the holiday crowds and secured four tropical fish, tank, food, and accessories with a few white lies and a lot of grit. We even made it home and had the tank set-up prior to our 3 pm family zoom call.  

 It wasn’t until a few days later that my world came toppling down. Grief is like that. It comes out of nowhere and leaves you trying to find meaning in even the simplest of things. But, this isn’t a post about grief. It is a post about promises.

Why the fish? Because when I make a promise, I keep a promise. I knew with every ounce of my being that I would not leave the Twin Ports Christmas Eve without a fish. But, the problem with promises is that commitment ends as soon as it is with myself. Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to break a promise to your employer, friend, family, volunteer committee or even random acquaintance on Facebook but promises to yourself are the first to go? If you’ve figured that out, let me know. Because I am guilty as charged.

Last week, I had the honor of being a guest on Another Mother Runner podcast. We talked about all sorts of things surrounding my new book, including the simple question – do you really hate running?

The simple answer is yes. But, anyone who knows me, knows that nothing is simple. Nothing is black and white in my world. I hate running but I love the act of running. And, I love that even during a global pandemic, runners get to write their own narrative. You get what you put in. And come race day, your time reflects your effort. In a world where everything it out of one’s control, I can still control putting one foot in front of the other. I had forgotten that for a while… but as I’ve pushed out my book… I’m remembering. And the truth is, I need that right now. Losing dad leaves a big hole in my heart… my calendar… and my future. I always knew my dad was sick but given the man had exceeded nine lives, a part of me believed he would live forever. Even while in hospice, I genuinely went to bed believing that there was a chance I’d go visit him the following morning and he’d be skimming the grocery ads ready to argue about the price of a rib-eye.

So here I am. One month later. If you’re wondering, the fish are thriving. I am not. I’m struggling quite a bit on a lot of fronts right now and I want to be honest about that. I don’t know how I’ll come to terms working in health care when I struggle with how mediocre and cruel the system is to people and their families. I don’t know if I’ll write another book or ever lose the weight or grow professionally. Many of the dreams I set out on to achieve in 2020 – pre-pandemic and pre-grief seem tone deaf to the life I’m living right now. The RISE conference a year ago seems like a lifetime ago. I find myself now with a blank page on what comes next.

For those wondering, yes, I’m back in therapy. I’m also starting to ask myself what’s next. Slowly, I find myself setting new goals that are a bit simpler, yet true to what really matters to me. I’m going to grow a garden of only vegetables and flowers I love. No more zucchini or marigolds and minimal beans. Good bye broccoli. I’m going to learn about rock polishing and shine some Lake Superior treasures. And, I’m going to run a race again.

Yep. This was a very long-winded post to say I’m running again with a real goal in mind. I hope to find myself lining up at the Door Count Half Marathon on May 1 and crossing that finish line in under 3-hours. It is a goal that is now ten-years in the making. It is time. I suppose one could say losing dad was the spark… but that wouldn’t be honest. The truth is, I want this for me.

I want to take the next 13-weeks and train hard. I want to make a promise to myself that I’ve earned the right to be selfish for a few months. To say I need this win after a year of losses. I need to feel like I’m in control of something right now – even if it is just for a few hours on a cold and windy May day. If the race is cancelled, so be it. I’ll find another and then another. And when I cross that finish line, I’ll be reminded that the most important person to keep your promises to is yourself.    

Why RISE?

To say I was skeptical is an understatement. This introvert does not embrace large crowds. I struggle to strike up conversation with strangers. Nothing about me would seek out a crowd of thousands. So, when the announcement of RISE Fort Myers came across my newsfeed, my instinct was to scroll. Only I didn’t. Something caused me to pause. I clicked. And that quickly, a spark had been ignited in me that couldn’t be put out.

The antagonist in me fought back. I hesitated, assuming tickets would sell out and that’d make the decision for me. Then, I could tell myself it wasn’t meant to be. But, that didn’t happen. Rachel’s marketing had hooked me and seats were available.  Each day her conference would show up in my feed beckoning me to hop on a plane and head due south to see if I could rediscover my true north. Rachel won. For the first time in my adult life, instead of beating myself up over why, I let myself say why not.

I’ve never attended a personal development conference.  I’ve always aimed for perfection but my journey has been in isolation and generally involved higher education. I had no idea what to expect.  So, I did what any Gen X introvert would do…I researched the hell out of Hollis and RISE because if I was going to make this investment, I was going to make it count (Yes, I’m the girl that was irritated when I got an A- in my MBA program). I read the books, subscribed to the podcasts, watched the Rach and Dave Morning Show and devoured the documentary. I quickly accepted that I’d be traveling thousands of miles to dance like an idiot, share scary secrets with strangers, and attempt to navigate Florida’s interstate with Siri as my co-pilot. I was scared but prepared.

I went all in on day one. I showed up early and chatted with strangers. I drank the water and set my intentions. And, I danced. Oh did I dance. This country bumpkin jiggled and strutted with a total of zero rhythm and patted herself on the back for ‘keeping it real’. By the time Rachel hit the stage, I felt like the gold star student ready to show myself that I was so together that this conference was just a brief respite before returning north and resuming regular scheduled programming.

Then, we unpacked. We unpacked and we unpacked and we unpacked. And, just when I thought we couldn’t unpack anymore, we unpacked some more.  We talked trauma. We stood up for our sisters. We talked triggers. We talked habits, good and bad. We dove into body image and the 10 bod commandments.  I soaked it all in. I cried. And I cried. I took notes. I was present. I put away technology and let the words soak into my body. I checked my traumas off on a sheet one at a time, at peace with knowing that while those things happened to me, they did not define me. Years of therapy had paid off.  I was feeling good, right until I wasn’t.

I didn’t know going in that a single aha moment would trigger so much baggage in me, that I’d want to reframe my entire life. Yep. Rachel Hollis went there. What past experiences have shaped your perspective on life?  What if that perspective was wrong? What if you took time to do something about it? And, let’s just keep going, what if you took a minute to understand what triggers the bad habits so that you could do something about it?

Newsflash – I’m over weight. Because I eat too much, sometimes, right? But, I try to conquer that with super healthy habits like running half-marathons. Unlike so many other runners, though, I’ve been running for 9-years and have completed over a dozen half-marathons and gained weight.  I never understood why I’m doing all of this work on myself to do this race but yet am not motivated enough to lose the weight. My inner answer has always been you need to try harder. But damn Rachel and her ability to push us past surface level answers. The truth is, NONE of this was about losing weight.

The reality is running is really hard at my size, especially since I don’t train properly, and despite finding the strength to finish, I never feel amazing after a race. I run half-marathons to inspire other folks and because I put it on the stupid internet my pride says, you better cross that finish line no matter what. Because, YOU show up for people. I don’t know who these people are but I show up for people.  And, I’ve managed to find the joy in finishing last and failing and telling myself it is ok to not be perfect because that’s the lesson I wanted to spread for those people.

But here’s the problem. I DON’T show up for myself in those races. I don’t take care of my body leading up to those races. I don’t invest the time in meal prep or blessing my body with healthy food or stretching or doing any of the things runners do to care of themselves. And, because of that, I’m ok with running. It isn’t selfish or about me, it is about them so that’s ok.

And yep, just like that the trigger hits. Twenty-two years ago I got in a fight with mom about laundry. She’d been sick for 4-years and I was tired of doing everything for her and so for the first time ever, I exploded at her. I told her she could get her own laundry from the basement. And with all the drama of an 18-year old with a license and car I stormed off and went to work…. Ten hours later my uncle was driving me to the hospital so I could say good-bye. By the time I got there she was unconscious. She’d die the next day. And for 23-years, I’ve been trying to make up for that moment by showing up every day for everyone else. If I could just keep showing up for everyone else in the world, it’d be ok.

I had processed in therapy and understood that my mama knew I loved her when she died. That it isn’t my fault she died. But, I never took the time to understand how that single action would reshape my perspective on what I call being a good person. The truth is, it is the most selfish thing ever because when I don’t show up for myself, it shows up as all sorts of crazy in my day-to-day life. It shows up as eating fast food for convenience versus prepping healthy meals. It shows up as binge watching Netflix instead of moving my body or spending time with my family and friends. It shows up as me being short with my husband because he’s trying to help and doesn’t he get it, I help people, they don’t help me. It shows up as me juggling twenty-seven things like so many mamas I know only to say, what this, no problem… even though I’m a mess inside. It shows up as me making myself smaller so I can fit into the life my husband has made for us versus the life I want for myself. It shows up as me investing time and energy in things I don’t love but think I should love. But, something changed this week.

Right before my flight took off this week, my dad landed in the hospital. He’s been on and off sick for about a decade now. My gut screamed, you better stay, because what if something happens? I struggled with what to do. I waited for someone to judge me or give me the fuel to stay. For someone to say, wow, are you sure you should go on that flight? But here’s the thing, nobody said that. Everyone said get on that plane. Everyone said go and have fun. Dad will be here when get back. And, thanks to trip insurance, I forced myself on to that plane because I could always fly home. And, if I’m being totally honest, I hopped on that plane for them because I didn’t want them to think I couldn’t do it. As soon as we were in the air, I second guessed my decision. But, it was too late.

I sat with this guilt while Rachel talked about trauma. I danced with it. I mulled about it back at my hotel room alone. And, when we talked about triggers, the light bulb went off. My trigger isn’t a fear of being abandoned but a fear of abandoning someone I love. A fear of not being enough for them. And, so every time I let someone else down in my head, I’m triggered. Because for years, I’ve been telling myself that while my mom loved me, I let her down that day I stormed out over stupid laundry. And, if I could just double down and never let anyone down, I’d make up for that day.

Here’s the problem – my bar is high. I expect myself to show up perfectly for people every time. They don’t, but I do. And, given I’m far from perfect, I fail A LOT. So I’m triggered a lot, which then makes me feel like I didn’t show up for them, which triggers me to double down on my investment in them versus my investment in me. I honestly believed if I just showed up more for them, I’d be a better version of myself.  But am I? No. How sad is it that others believed in me more than myself—that it was because of them I got on a plane to work on myself.

The conference ended with the future. To understand that at any moment we can make the conscious choice to show up for life.  That’s step one. Then there is the work. The really, really hard part of actually doing the work to live the life you want. That scares me. And is the thing that I need more than ever. So my word of the year is grace. Because this all or nothing approach to perfection or curling up and being small – yeah that doesn’t work for my anymore. That I know that to be me, I’m going to have to give myself and those around me some grace to figure it out. And so, 2020 will forever be remembered as the year I stepped up to the plate but gave myself some grace to show up as me.

My goal is to tackle health, one step at a time. This may culminate in a half-marathon but only if I’m willing to invest the time to do it right. To see what I’m really capable of. My ten year dream is to know I could complete a 12-hour Trail Ultramarathon strong if I wanted because I am truly healthy and whole.. which means I’d run the Ultra for me and nobody else, but only if that’s STILL my dream. To do that, I need to channel some Lindsey Vonn and rediscover the big, bad ass I used to be.

Lots of folks have asked me if attending RISE is worth it. They’ve asked for the down low and whether this is something they should consider. It depends. It depends if you are open to the idea that you are worth more. If you are open to putting yourself first or making the investment in not changing yourself but acknowledging your worth. (And, if you’re willing to release your inner dance moves because you won’t get away with not doing this). This conference didn’t change my life but it reminded me that I am blessed with a life that’s worth living. And, that’s an investment I’m ready to start making every single day.

 

Hello 40!

yourlifeDo you honestly think a writer would let her 40th birthday pass without spewing some thoughts about the day? Here’s the thing, I’m struggling a bit to really shine in this major moment. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to interview some healthcare workers for a campaign I’m working on. During one of the interviews, someone shared a patient story about an elderly lady who said, “You know what the hardest part about being old is? That when I look in a mirror, I see a 30-year old but everyone else just sees an old lady.”

This really resonated with me not because I’m an old lady by any means, but this week I realized just how often we’re judged by our age. Not necessarily good or bad, but rather just educated on how we’re either too young or really old or in some cases both. But here’s the thing, I’m just not buying it.

I assumed given my dramatic quarter-life crisis and then thriving thirties struggle, that 40 would play out like a really bad Lifetime movie. If ever there were a year to have an existential crisis, this would be it. But, if I’m being completely honest, while I did have that brief breakdown on Pinterest in which I attempted to define my life’s meaning with inspirational quotes and unattainable Bucket List items because the pictures were pretty, it passed. In fact, it passed pretty quickly and now suddenly I’m sitting here on St. Urho’s Eve looking at middle age with a new found appreciation and perspective.

a527ab998649cc9142a34f45c043512a

These first 40 years have been a shit storm of highs and lows that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I earned every inch of the massive crevice of a wrinkle on my forehead overcoming the obstacles thrown my way (and conquered). Those crow’s feet are the result of being blessed with amazing friends who make me laugh so hard my stomachs hurt and my face crinkles. And those stretch marks that span my waistline paved the way for the greatest achievement and challenge of my life—motherhood.

So yes, tomorrow, I turn 40. I’ll pay more for Life Insurance and modify my retirement plan. My metabolism will diminish overnight and I’ll probably spend a bit more time strength training and a little less time with chips and top the tater. But honestly, that’s about all the craziness I can squeeze out of this middle-age milestone. Because when all is said and done, I’m simply happy to be here in this moment.

If you are reading this right now, it means you have somehow played a role in my first 40-years and for that, thank you. The one piece of wisdom I have tonight is I know very little—but what I do know is that the people in my life matter. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without you. What’s equally exciting is I have never been more in the driver’s seat of my own life than right now. I’ve finally reached a place where I am confident saying I’m a work-in-progress but it is my work in progress. So here’s to a new decade and life of living on my terms and to all women who are finding it within themselves to do the same. May we all be so lucky to enjoy so many more trips around the sun.

grandsabbatical

Better for It.

dearselfAlas, another year is coming to a close. With that, comes the reflection of goals and dreams unmet in the past 365 days and the opportunity to start anew. This practice is particularly poignant for me this year given the vast number of milestones I anticipate celebrating next year. While some of these are goals, others are just a proof of mere survival, but all hold meaning to me. This includes:

  • Turning 40
  • Celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary
  • My first and only child starting kindergarten
  • Graduating with my MBA

To mark these milestones, I started surfing Pinterest several months ago looking for that perfect bucket list of items to accomplish as I sail over the hill. Many of the lists, memes, and words to live by resonated with me—so much so that I started folders and sub-folders within my Pinterest profile marking running goals, health goals, parenting goals and 40-year old bucket list goals. The laundry list of things I could do got very long quickly… While this all started out as fun, this also happened to be timed with finals, the holiday frenzy of Christmas and complications with an aging father. Needless to say, it went from fun and inspirational to gut wrenchingly impossible, very quickly. I could barely find time to shower let alone conquer the world.

It was about this time Twitter served me up this article from Harvard Business Review. This article focuses on your framework at work but I easily found this applying to my life. In my quest to keep moving forward, I had given up control of some things that really mattered to me. It was easier to keep piling things on than saying no to keep the overwhelming sense of guilt at bay. The task lists piled and life seemed to spiral out of control. As a control freak, this is a quick road to burn-out, irritability and feeling hopeless.

This past month, after hitting submit on my final paper, I took a time-out. No freelance. No schoolwork. Vacation. Reading. I spent time with friends, mailed thank you cards, and made sure I was present at Christmas. I cooked great food and drank cocktails of my choice. I didn’t bake, even when my kitchen-aid mixer glared at me for going unused during her prime season. I looked at my freelance contracts and let go of a few that were far from fulfilling. While it is hard to walk away from money, it was liberating to retake control of the small things.

And so it leads me to this post and the inevitable New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve whittled my list down (thanks to the help of a book called Grit, highly fascinating and I definitely recommend it) to just one with a few milestones to lead the way. It is cliché but as I watch some people near and dear to me struggle with health complications and saying good-bye to loved ones, it has meaning to me. And so, as I fly over the hill, my New Year’s resolution is to simply strive for a healthier and whole me.

Doing so, means saying no more. This will definitely not be the year of yes. It’ll be the year of, let me think about it and get back to you. My time and energy will be spent investing in my family, friends and frankly me. I’ll still volunteer and give back when I can, but honestly, it’ll be a lot more inward than outward this coming year.

runningpaths

It also means walking across a few lines. Topping the list – my first trail run. Initially, I wanted to think big, so I figured I’d do a complicated half-marathon in my neighborhood. It frankly didn’t even sound fun and to my disbelief, does not award finisher medals. After some soul searching, I thought, Why?!?!? Why set myself up to suck at something so bad?!?!?! I’ve done the whole finishing last thing so no need to repeat that chapter.

So I’ve revised that goal to a 10K at Mount Bohemia in October. Last May, I took a trip that way and really reconnected with myself. I figure what better way to celebrate that, than by crossing a finish line in that same neighborhood. I have a series of races I’ll run leading up to that, all allowing me to train in a realistic manner.

A few months later, I plan to walk at commencement. It is something I’ve never allowed myself to do and I figure after 4-college degrees, it is time. Plus, I’m somewhat confident (as is my pocketbook) that at this point, I’m done with spending thousands of dollars on a sheet of paper to confirm my self-worth. No offense to higher education but it is time to be a lifelong learner outside of the classroom.

mother.jpg

Beyond that, there are a few other things up my sleeves but more on that to come. Bottom line is I’m ready for 40 and am just getting started. Don’t get me wrong, the self-doubt is certainly alive and well but I’ve learned that my Sisu is in fact grit and my passion is improving. So, worse case on this trail run goal, I find myself meandering through the woods of the UP during fall peak healthier than I’ve ever been before… and that’s a pretty awesome consolation prize. In the meantime, here’s a snapshot compliments of Nike of my life in the gym…

Thriving Thirties Crisis Anyone?

C6ZvbbYWQAAkS-z

Another trip around the sun means I’m one step closer to the inevitable mid-life crisis that happens at 40. Or, at least that’s what I’ve been told. What baffles me, though, is nobody talks about the time between your quarter-life crisis and your mid-life crisis. That in-between time where so much happens your head spins. So this is a post about the unnamed, unknown crisis turned opportunity I’m calling the Thriving Thirties.

I was thinking this week, what a shitstorm of highs and lows, all in a decade. Ones you think you can anticipate, and in many cases long for, but society does a great job of masquerading into something else.

There is of course the biggie—my status. I went from girlfriend to fiancé to wife and now mother. Each time, I discovered my beliefs and understanding of what unconditional and unwavering love means were completely underrated. You hear about the sacrifice that comes with parenting, often when you are rolling your eyes at your parents, but experiencing it is a whole different ballgame. Talk about high highs and low lows. There really needs to be more about the tough days, because frankly I’ve never experienced something more challenging than raising a family.

My career took a backseat—something I never thought would happen. I changed jobs three times in my 30s, only to discover that while I know I want to make my mark in the world, I have no clue how to do it. Career advancement, which seemed to come so easily in my 20s, came to a screeching halt as I realized that living in a place I love, doesn’t always come with abundant economic opportunities. Guess what? I wouldn’t change a thing (other than my paycheck).

The lifelong learner in me had a near meltdown when I finally paid off my student loans and realized for the first time in 34 years I wasn’t attending or paying for continuing education. I opted to re-enroll for my 4th college degree creating a seamless transition from being a student to graduating at the same time my son enters school. And so the cycle continues.

And then there was the pursuit of happiness. Despite self-help books telling me that I could in fact wake up everyday and conquer the world and be happy, I seriously question the sanity of those so-called authors. Living the life that I want with those I want, where I want, means compromise. It means prioritizing and sacrificing and wiping boogers and changing diapers. It means long commutes, limited shopping, befriending Amazon Prime and fighting over things like uncrushed diet Mountain Dew cans scattered around the house. It means experiencing unmet dreams and acknowledging that sometimes life is bigger than your needs and wants.

Nobody warned me about the weight-gain that comes with an aging metabolism. Gone are the days of downing Dr. Pepper and munching on chips and Top the Tater while binge watching the latest season of Dawson’s Creek. Instead, I found myself hitting the pavement (literally) and crossing the finish line not once but ten times over the past six years, to barely maintain the weight gain that I’m lovingly calling my dirty thirty in honor of my attempts to do Beach Body at this size. The running highs and lows are a whole different post but if you had told me in my 20s, I’d have some of my heaviest and hardest conversations with myself wearing running shoes, I would have laughed.

My 30s did not result in endless afternoons hanging out at coffee shops chatting about the weather like the characters on Friends. Instead, it was spent scrambling to keep connections with lifelong friends on Facebook messenger and recognizing that many of those friendships would fade away, despite noble and in some cases knock down, drag down attempts to keep them. It was hard to let go at times but I find friendships now are easier—more based on common interests, shared values and day-to-day life experiences than the baggage of what you were once pegged to be.

And somewhere in all of this, I discovered that one of life’s greatest gifts arrived for me in my 30s. It frankly couldn’t have happened sooner. And, maybe I’ll change my mind after my next centennial crisis, but in this moment, I’m still a bit in awe.

I distinctly remember my quarter-life crisis. It played out like a bad after school special that left me leaving television news and moving to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. It meant abandoning bad habits, facing my demons and acknowledging that the person I was trying to be, wasn’t me. But, then my 30s hit and I discovered that instead of trying to be someone or something, I could instead, just be me.

Better yet, I could embrace it. There’s something empowering about grabbing life and saying, I’m good enough. I wake up everyday and I do my best. Frankly, that’s enough. It may mean 175% some days or surviving on others. And that’s ok, despite the self-help books saying otherwise. It isn’t that I don’t care. It isn’t that I don’t embrace life and all of its complexities and know all too well that we never know when our ticket is going to come up. Instead, it is acknowledging that some of the best things in life happen, when you just let them be.

So in a long winded way, I discovered I know less in my 30s than my 20s. But this I know. At times I’m irritable and unbearable and cranky. I’m stubborn like my mother. I’m a bit odd. I crave meaningful connections but am an introvert. I love to try new things like roasting coffee and buying obscure plants that have no chance of survival (banana plants anyone) because it is fun to try and fail. I run races with mediocre times and battle the bulge, while still finding a way to love myself even though health blogs and beauty magazines tell me I’m obese. I tell really bad jokes and most times, people can’t even tell if I’m joking. I’m inpatient. I’m independent. I’m loyal. And the best thing is, all of this could change in a heartbeat because the thing I know most, is I’m a constant work-in-progress and that’s what makes me, me.

The Economics of Time

Let’s be frank. It isn’t on my side right now. I find myself caught in-between trying to keep up with the day-to-day, while struggling to find new and exciting goals to be excited about this year. It is an odd place for me to be right now, but I’m starting to think this may become my new normal.

I was listening to a Planet Money podcast last week, in which the economics of love was the focus. It is a pretty entertaining, and frankly informative episode. In it, the conversation around love being in abundance came up and yet many of us (myself included) choose to limit our love to one partner.

The economist cited a Nobel Prize winning economist’s theory about the finite complexities of time and how it is a valuable resource for all. Later on in the discussion, the notion of being with something that’s good enough removes the time for you to experience or pursue something that could be really amazing.

This really hit home. At the time, I was border line burned out due to a number of events colliding at the same time. Each day, I’d wake up and go through my to do list and find a way to cram it all in, but I was missing the luxury of just enjoying life. I realized that while project management is great, equally as great is just saying no.

This past week I stepped down from a committee I wasn’t passionate about and passed on a great freelance gig because frankly, money isn’t and cannot be everything. I scaled back from a half-marathon to a 10K. I got excited about a bathroom remodel project, only to step back and put it on-hold. At first, I was pretty bummed out. Frankly, I felt like a borderline failure. But, then I realized that by saying no to these things, I was making room for things like planting a garden with Jake and reading a novel on my deck and even continuing the Tuesday night fitness classes. That while I may not be running a half-marathon this spring, that doesn’t mean I can’t do the Shamrock Shuffle followed by a 1k with Jake—both of which sound a lot more fun. Sure, I want a new bathroom. But, I also want my sanity.

I have an abundance of hobbies. An endless checklist of items I want to do in the here and now because frankly, we don’t know when our time is up. But, in my haste to make the most of each day, my time to do more of what I love is getting squished out.

I never thought economics would remind me of that. Nor, did I think a Planet Money Podcast would make me pause and re-evaluate the time-space continuum. But, I’m really glad it did.

Year-In-Review

And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln

As I look back on the past year, my head and heart ache a bit. It was a whirlwind year filled with incredible highs and some tough lows. But, it was also a lesson in resiliency.

I’m not one much for ringing in the New Year. This year was no exception, other than at 12:01 am I was awoken to the sounds of my son heaving. Mopping the floor and soaking my son’s puke-filled Superman footie pajamas, I couldn’t help but think what an ironic way to ring in a New Year. This trend continued for much of the night. But, come morning, my son awoke with his usual zest for life with a desire to wrestle, be pulled around our lake on a sled and eat crackers and juice while wrestling with dad. Just like that, he bounced back.

My son’s resiliency always ceases to amaze me. But, it isn’t just him. This past year, I’ve watched some friends and colleagues suffer illness and loss that I couldn’t even begin to imagine. And, they’ve done it with such grace. When asked how, they simply say, you’d do the same. But would I? I’m not so sure.

Past experience has taught me New Year’s resolutions don’t work for me. But, that doesn’t stop me from hoping the coming year will find me being more resilient when things happen. That I will find ways to bounce back versus letting them consume me. To recognize that even while mopping up puke while millions ring in the New Year with champagne, I am in fact truly blessed. After all, for years all I wanted was to be mom. And, I am. That’s just one of many blessings I need to appreciate.

A girlfriend recently got a t-shirt that reads, perfectly imperfect. I totally want it. It sums up my life and well me. This coming year, I hope to improve upon a few things beyond just being resilient. Some I’m just not quite ready to share here. But, I hope to do so with a bit of grace and understanding that I’m a work in progress and that’s frankly ok, partly because of all of the amazing people that have chosen and continue to be an integral part of my life. I couldn’t do any of this without them. Likely, if you are still reading this post, that includes you. So thank you. I wish for you in the coming year joy and excitement and should life throw you curveballs, the resilience you need to power on.

Happy New Year-

So much of the same

I realized I hadn’t checked in lately. If you have a moment, grab this month’s issue of Northern Gardener. I did a column about apples – which may not sound super exciting at first. But, if you are all into the economics behind the price of an apple or wondered why there are so many variations of apples in the store, you might enjoy it. I’ll try to post a copy of it as well sometime soon.

I meant to post on the 15th anniversary of September 11. But, I was flying to Chicago and time got away from me. So I’ll share a bit of that now. I think we all remember where we were that day when the planes struck. We all have our own story – our own memories – our own truth of that day. For me, I was working on my MA in Broadcast Journalism and had actually left the newsroom for my morning class at UWS in broadcast journalism. The topic that day happened to be breaking news. My teacher and mentor Mike Simonson was talking about the first crash that had happened right before class as an example. At the time we didn’t know the magnitude. He turned on the Today Show to demonstrate how well (or in his mind how sensational network news was becoming, given he was a public radio guy), when we watched the second plane hit live. It was a surreal moment to share in that class. We ended it and I immediately headed back to the newsroom where I spent the next few days attempting to connect what was happening to ties in the Northland while still giving viewers the weather and sports they wanted to hear. At the time, I was convinced that I’d finish my degree and climb the corporate newsroom ladder, landing in some mid-to-larger market as a newsroom executive.

It is crazy to think how that definitely did not happen. I finished my degree with my grad thesis focused around female news managers and how they find a work-life balance. The only thing that solidified was that this career path probably wasn’t right for me. I left news soon after that. Fast forward to today and life is very different but in many ways the same.

This fall I started school again. On the anniversary of 9/11, I was busy studying a different topic but with the same passion for learning as always. This time, I’m pursuing an MBA in Rural Healthcare to hopefully land in a more operational position so I can work to help my friends and neighbors access care in rural communities. It is a cause I care deeply about and want to play an active role in improving. But, it comes at a time when I’m already struggling to balance my time between an aging father, being a new mom, working full-time, a growing freelance business and enjoying time with my hubby. Add in my much needed desire for me time to stay sane and well I have a hunch the next few years will be interesting, potentially rocky and a bit chaotic. But, no matter how I slice it, definitely worth it. And at the end of the day, isn’t living a perfectly imperfect world better than not taking risks? Stay tuned for more updates as I embark on life as a Saint (AKA CSS student).

So that’s the latest from Moon Lake. The leaves are just starting to change and I look forward to sharing some shots soon. This weekend we’ll be attending yet another fall festival and hopefully harvesting apples with Jake so he can make his first batch of Apple Crisp. Should make for a yummy but messy weekend.

Happy Harvesting-