An early birthday gift

I wanted to spend my birthday morning on the shores of Lake Michigan but the weather forecast had other ideas. (And it is indeed a blustery, rainy day. Where’s my birthday snow Mother Nature?!?) However,  the perfect opportunity presented itself yesterday so I hustled up to the Lake. I picked a spot where I could visit without hiking since I’m trying to be the best injured Achilles patient ever. And I soaked in 15 minutes of my Lake in all its winter glory.


When the shelf ice appears the Lake is eerily quiet. The sounds of lapping waves are swapped for the quiet, occasional squeaking and creaking of ice. There were small icebergs floating further out. The pier had mounds of ice – waves that froze as they crashed over it.


I took some deep breaths of Lake air. I said some prayers for the year ahead of me. I said some prayers of thanks. I raised up some intentions for others. I snapped a few pictures and happily went back to start my day. It was a good early birthday gift.

Goals for 2017

Definition of resolution: a firm decision to do something

Definition of goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort

I don’t like to set resolutions. I prefer action, ambition and effort over “firm decisions.” I don’t want to just decide I’d like to do something. I want to set plans in motion to do it. I have no resolutions for 2017 but there are some carefully considered goals. Checkpoints that I can reflect on throughout the year to see if my activity is moving me towards those goals or away from them. Goals like…

Be a better wife: I do a lot in this house and for my family but I don’t always do a good job of doing something specifically for my husband. This year I’d like to spend more time with my husband doing things for just the two of us.

Grow my spiritual life: I pray every day in different ways but this year I’d like to read a few books and consider my faith in a new light. I just bought a new daily planner (remember I still like those paper lists) and the planner includes weekly scripture quotes and a plan to include Bible reading in each day. I’m hoping that gives me a daily reminder to keep moving towards this goal.

Heal and renew: I want this Achilles tendon to get better. I want to start running again. I want to go on walk dates to catch up with friends. I want to reduce my stress and give myself a break more often. That’s a lot of wants but they aren’t wishes… they are steps I have already started taking towards a better me.

I want to read more books: In 2015 I read 85 books. Last year I read 59. That’s moving in the wrong direction and a good indication that I was overwhelmed and not taking good care of myself. I set a goal of 75 this year.

We’ll see how I do as I attempt to move through my life with intention and care. Care for those around me, care for those in my house, and care for myself.

16 blessings from 2016

It’s easy to look back at 2016 and see some events that make the year seem bad. It’s unfortunately also easy to look ahead to 2017 and see things looming that make me anxious. Instead, I’m shaking off the gloomy thoughts and focusing on my corner of the world – the place where I can make a difference.

And I’m starting by recognizing 16 things that 2016 gave me:

  1. An awesome few months of running: I would like to say that 2016 gave me the accomplishment of a big goal (a race each month) but it didn’t (hello Achilles injury). It DID however give me the strongest running start I’ve ever had. By mid-April I had run 3 races of 5 or miles and an additional 2 half marathons. It was a good start even if the lack of stretching plus other factors lead to injury.
  2. Ragnar: I was so afraid I’d have to drop out of this race experience and I wasn’t sure I’d ever get the chance again. Luckily I had a team that didn’t care if I walked my legs of the relay and I ended up with a weekend that was one of the highlights of my year. Who knew 36+ hours of no sleeping (or showering) could be so much fun!
  3. Running Sunburst with my boy: Well I didn’t run but I walked and J ran. I’ve now down Sunburst 8 years in a row and at least one time with each of my kids. Yay!
  4. A whole new vacation adventure with my husband: Portland, Oregon. It was a great mix of alone time and fun time with extended family. We saw all new sights and had such a fun break.
  5. Great American Road Trip III: I’ve had this trip planned for at least 3 years and getting to take the kids away from their everyday lives and spend time together exploring new places was amazing. As it always, always is.
  6. Maine: Yes, this was part of the road trip but it deserves its own mention. Maine is beautiful. Acadia National Park is one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever seen. Hiking; sitting on the rocks watching ocean waves crash; kayaking… I really hope I get to go back.
  7. An energizing work year: It was stressful (oh was it stressful) but I expanded my business and found myself traveling for the first time in over a decade. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt independent and impactful in that way. I loved it. And I’m excited about another year that includes more trips and possibly more growth. (but less stress would be nice… we’ll see if I can work that out)
  8. Cheering at the Chicago Marathon: I had the opportunity to scramble all over Chicago cheering on a family member (who I’m lucky enough to call my friend). It was a beautiful day to watch someone accomplish such a huge goal and I loved every minute of it.
  9. College visits: My oldest is a senior about to make her college decision and I really enjoyed going out to explore campuses and help her set the stage for the next phase of her life. (Before this year is out I’ll be doing the same for my second daughter – gulp!)
  10. Chicago Cubs World Series Champions! I’ve already written about what this meant to me and it was definitely a highlight of my year.
  11. Dunes Hikes: I made a conscious effort to get myself out to the Lake more this year and every single trip – even the ones where I was racing back to make a conference call – was so worth it. Even though I can’t hike those dunes for a while I need to keep this intention for the coming year.
  12. Small family adventures: It wasn’t always easy to find the time. And I wish I could have found more of it. But every adventure I did with my kids was worth it. Trips to the city. Hosting my nieces for “Aunt Barb’s Cooking Camp.” Heading to South Bend to see the Downtown Abbey exhibit with my middlest. Chicago Cubs World Series Parade with my oldest. Movies. Six Flags. Blueberry picking. Walks to the farmer’s market with my son. Small moments that are each a big blessing.
  13. Youth Ministry: I expanded my volunteer work with my church and “my kids” in youth ministry. I ventured outside of my comfort zone as an adult leader at a diocesan retreat. I took a group on a weekend retreat in Wisconsin. I fostered new traditions for the youth of my parish. It’s a lot of work but watching these kids grow is an awesome experience.
  14. A Northern Michigan Adventure: Any time a year includes time in Northern Michigan it is a good year 🙂 Somewhat last minute we pulled together a family road trip to Mackinac Island for Labor Day weekend and it was a blast.
  15. Trying new things: I went new places. I did a few things solo that I’ve never done before. I cooked new foods. Nothing earth-shattering but it’s good to do new things.
  16. Friends: Lunch dates. Walking dates. Sharing a few drinks. Massive group text conversations. The small moments that make life a little richer are some of the best blessings indeed.


Looking forward to a new year

I spent too much of 2016 in high stress mode. The year certainly had some wonderful highlights: an awesome family road trip, a Cubs World Series win, a great Oregon vacation, some fun work adventures — just to name a few. But I started the year hoping to find a way to reduce stress and never found it. On top of that, I injured myself which has taken away my primary stress-relief: running and workouts.

Here I am with just three days to go in 2016 and I’m still injured and I’m still experiencing far too much stress. I need to find a way to make 2017 a year with more balance in my life. In one small step that might make a tiny difference, I bought a new style of work planner. Yes, I still buy a paper planner to set up my schedule and task lists. I love to check off tasks when they are complete and having a visual that lets me see my entire week in list form helps my brain keep it all together.

The problem with my planner? I tend to be very (VERY) ambitious with my daily task lists. This sets me up for daily and weekly failure. It also sets up some long nights and weekend hours of working. So I thought I’d buy a planner with less space in it forcing me to trim down those task lists. However, I’ve just started to update my lists for next week and it’s driving me nuts.

I’ll give it three weeks to see if it helps me plan a more manageable day but if not, I’m getting something else.

When Prime shipping isn’t so prime & other annoyances

Let me start this post by telling you that I love Amazon Prime. ADORE IT. I use it all the time and as a heavy online shopper during the holidays,  I use it even more this time of year. I’ve noticed in the past few months that my guaranteed 2-day shipping hasn’t been exactly on time. I’ve had more than a few packages delivered 3 or 4 days after ordering. I let it slide because no one is perfect, not even my beloved Amazon Prime.  Things happen after all. But then the holidays hit and it was happening two out of three times. And then it happened when I specifically ordered an item I wanted in my house for party.

I ordered said item on a Wednesday morning. I didn’t see it until Monday. That was not in time for my Saturday party. And that’s not exactly worth the price of Prime. So I complained and they gave me a $5 gift card. Not so Prime either but better than nothing I suppose.

In an example of better – in fact AWESOME – customer service we have Under Armor. A shirt I bought J for his birthday has shredded holes in one sleeve. This shirt has not undergone some crazy event to cause it to start falling apart and it’s less than 3 months old. I reached out to UA on a Sunday via Twitter – because I’m risky like that. And guess what?? I got a response within 30 minutes! And they said they stand behind their items 100% and with no questions asked offered a full refund or exchange. THAT’S AWESOME!

But back to things that are annoying me this holiday season…

I ran out of holiday stamps so the last 8 cards I sent have regular postage stamps on them.

I lost one of my favorite gloves.

I just found out that I’m stuck wearing this thing for at least the next few weeks:


How am I supposed to run Christmas errands in this thing?

Or shovel the driveway? Or carry laundry around?

Do I really have to wear it when I’m leading an all day retreat next week?

What about when I’m grocery shopping? If I wear it 90% of the time will that be enough?? And don’t even get me started about the workout restrictions…