Weekly Update

Path of Resistance

I received a message from one of my friends, joking that for the next mom’s morning out, we should do a swamp walk. Attached to her message was a link.

I was intrigued. Coming from Minnesota, I had never heard of such an activity, and it sounded like a bad idea, because…..alligators?

I clicked on the link. It detailed how you can sign up to be led on a walk through the swamp. Not on boardwalks, but in the water. The particular one I was looking at was rated 5/5 difficulty and was a 5 mile adventure through “a couple inches to a couple feet of water.”

My brain lit up. It sounded like something I was capable of. I love spending time outside, and a swamp walk sounded so… nature-y.

The stars aligned: I was somehow able to convince life insurance actuary husband who is healthily fearful of alligators and snakes to approve of my participation in such an event. AND, I was able to find a babysitter. So, I registered. Shockingly, none of my friends were interested willing to risk their lives.

So last Thursday morning, under the pink skies of sunrise, I found myself driving to the swamp walk with a considerable amount of anxiety.

I had already tried to talk myself out of it the day before, the survival-motivated side of my brain arguing that my allergies could be COVID and I should definitely not go and infect other people.

As I drove, my brain continued to bring up other valid arguments against attending: being unable to find the remote parking lot, alligators, snakes, not being able to keep up with the group, but mostly- the highest fear- was spending five hours, doing a rather intense activity, with a group of people I didn’t know.

As I ran through a list of the worries on loop, it occurred to me that often, when I am facing something I feel a lot of resistance towards- something that scares the crap out of me- it usually means I am on the right path.

I’ve encountered these moments before jumping off the diving board, before entering a room full of people I don’t know. The seconds that lead up to giving a speech, the pause before the gun goes off at the start of a race.

For me, these moments are marked by a racing heart, flip floppy stomach, and sweaty palms. I do not enjoy being in these moments. In fact, I almost despise them. I would completely despise them if I didn’t know, if I hadn’t learned, that these moments typically occur right before something great happens.

Usually, pushing through the resistance brings me to new places, new people, the opportunity to try something new. And almost always, I leave with a sense of accomplishment.

Maybe, these moments that I try to avoid should be sought out.

And so, as I turned off on a remote dirt road, lined by tall skinny cypress trees, hitting approximately 5 potholes per second, I ignored the voice in my head that said, “This looks like a spot you could get murdered.” And instead of following the voice in my head, I followed the dirt road, to a parking lot filled with the friendliest nature geeks you’ll ever meet and a disgusting port-a-potty.

The thing I had feared most- awkward moments with strangers- didn’t happen. I forgot that nature people are some of the most down to earth, hilarious, and friendly people.

We slogged through the water, stopping to look more closely at snail eggs, swamp apples, and the Lincoln Log cocoons of bagworm moths. We found a turtle, watched a water moccasin slither away, noticed a hawk feather, and then the hawk above, camouflaging into the tree, watching us curiously.

It was 5 hours of wonder, and it left me more refreshed than a massage. There is something about spending time surrounded by the color green. I left with muddy feet and new friends. It turns out, swamp walks are really good for the soul. Maybe just my soul?

Whatever it is for you, here’s to following the path of resistance. I’d highly recommend you give it a try. Safely. With other people. Because, as my mom reminded me, even the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s nuns) go out in pairs. Which is precisely the motherly advice I’d expect to receive after walking through a swamp containing alligators and snakes.


PS- I didn’t take any pictures in an effort to remain fully present. But you can check out this website for pictures and learn a bit more about “Wet Walks”.

Weekly Update

Thirty One

I’m just going to go ahead and admit that I like birthdays almost as much as I did when I was five. Maybe more, now that they can include margaritas.

There is a certain delight that surrounds getting cards and packages in the mail. My mom always feels compelled to write on the packages she sends, “Do NOT open until your birthday.” It’s as if she knows I still lack self control at the young age of 31.

This year she forgot to write it on the package, so she called me to tell me not to open it until my birthday. And it’s a good thing, because I would have opened it otherwise.

I like how the day feels special from start to finish; with even the mundane feeling extraordinary. Flossing my teeth is a lot more fun on my birthday, maybe because of the sense of gratitude I have for another year of eating without dentures.

When I visited the dentist last month, they had a section on the sheet asking what my dental goals were. Unsure of what they were looking for, I wrote, “Avoid dentures and root canals.”

My dental goals were just like my birth plan, simple and to the point: “Give me an epidural ASAP, and keep the baby alive.” The nurses liked that one. Also, I wanted Chad to play “Push it” by Salt N Peppa while I was pushing, but he refused.

I like the sound of thirty-one. It doesn’t end in the deeeeeee sound that thirty ends in. It sounds more concise. Knowledgeable. Wise?

This year’s birthday was full of my favorite things: A run in the morning, a chai tea latte, browsing a book store, opening packages and cards, chik-fil-a, writing, kayaking with the manatees, dinner with Chad & the girls, my in-laws and some friends, margaritas, better than sex cake made by my amazing mother in law, and yes, that is the honest name, despite the number of eyebrows it raises.

I’m not saying that the name of the cake is accurate, but I will vouch for it being super delicious.

If you haven’t had the chance to kayak with manatees, I’d highly recommend it. Manatees are simultaneously one of the ugliest and cutest creatures. (Please, manatees, teach me your ways.) They are HUGE, with small little heads and creepy/adorable black eyes, and whiskers covering their bodies.

It is terrifying and awe inspiring when they swim under your kayak. It makes me think about Moby Dick, because I fear my kayak will capsize. I imagine I am in the ocean, kayaking over a blue whale; but alas, it is just me in a river with a manatee. Just the right amount of adventure for this boring thirty one year old.

Also, I’ve never read Moby Dick so please excuse me if nothing about Moby Dick relates to capsizing kayaks. The picture on the cover just makes me think it might.

Did you know that manatees are related to elephants? And that they aren’t actually fat, they just have super huge intestines? Neither did I. Now you’ve learned something from my blog, after almost 2 years of reading it. Thanks for hanging in there.

It’s the 31 year old wisdom I’m channeling.

Two of my friends came for the weekend. One, I’ve known since babyhood, and for the other, since high school. They are the kind of friends that know so much of your history that conversations can quickly go deep since little explanation is required of past events.

As we watched the sunset together, on a chilly by FL standards night, we huddled close, wrapped tightly in beach towels. We had spent the past 3 hours discussing the bad and good that had made up our last year.

We all experienced different forms of loss. COVID changed a lot. Life changed a lot. We are not the same people who we were when we ran together in high school. Quite contrary, we all changed significantly through the different routes we chose to take through life.

On the beach, it seemed for a moment, that we had made it to the other side off the loss, the change. For a moment, we were suspended in the beauty of orange hues that lit our existence as the sun slipped down in the sky. We had made it through the past, we were sitting firmly grounded in the present, toes rooted in the sand, and for a minute, there wasn’t the future to worry about.

It was a beautiful moment. And then we smelled pot.

We looked around, trying to figure out who the guilty party was… but realized everyone was looking at US.

Now maybe I look like a pot smoker. To be honest, I don’t really know what a pot smoker looks like, but I envision baggy pants. That’s it, just baggy pants. I wasn’t wearing baggy pants.

*Steps on soapbox.

I’ve never smoked pot in my life. I’ve never done it, period. Because, you know… there are many ways to do it. If I were to DO IT, I would eat the gummies. Because I like gummies. But I think I like control too much to do pot.

I’m sure no one is shocked by this confession.


The funny thing is, that of all people on the beach, we were the least likely to be the pot smokers. In high school, we were the goodie goods. We left a party once because someone was smoking a cigar.

We were very risk adverse. Our parents had nothing to worry about and they knew it.

When we returned home from the party, I told my mom what had happened, wide eyed. (Again, let me reiterate, someone was smoking out of a cigar, so basically nothing happened). I’m pretty sure my mom had to suppress laughter.

So back to the beach. It smelled like pot and everyone was staring at us. The sun had set, so we packed up our things to leave.

As we walked to the parking lot, a guy yelled, “Hey, smelled like you were having fun over there!” We shook our heads and shrugged, “Wasn’t us!” He continued, “I was about to send Grandma over!” And then a Grandma looking lady waved her hands and cheered.

She looked like fun. Maybe someday, I will be fun like her.

But not for awhile. Today Avery told me that she wants to move to a different state because, “I don’t like living with grumpy people.”

Shots fired, Avery.

I bet you’re wondering how I’m going to conclude a blog post that covered the topics of birthdays, dentures, better than sex cake, “Push it” by Salt n Peppa, manatees, best friends, sunsets, and pot.

I also, am wondering the same thing.

Sometimes, life gives us a beautiful narrative, a storyline that is easy to follow. More often, it’s a mod podge collage of events that somehow make it onto the same poster board.

This past year of life has been a beautiful mess. It produced quite a few finished puzzles, melt downs, half marathons, quarantines, sunsets, zoom meet ups, clorox wipes (or lack thereof), and moments of quiet.

Here’s to another one,


PS- The blog posts might be fewer and farther between. I’m currently taking a creative writing class, which I am absolutely loving, but it does cut into my free time to write for the blog. The class ends at the end of April and things should pick back up around then.

Weekly Update

Holding Space

I’m writing this from a new bedroom, on a new bed, in a new house. Everything smells new; and for the moment, life feels foreign.

We still don’t have hand towels in the bathroom, so each time I wash my hands, I face the predicament of whether to dry them on my shirt, a feral child, or let them air dry. The worst thing is, the hand towels are in the dryer… I just keep forgetting to grab them.

You may have noticed the radio silence on the blog. I superstitiously didn’t want to say anything about the new house until we closed.

That being said, we bought a house. We closed the Friday before Labor Day, and are approximately 70% moved in. We live about 10 minutes from our old condo, still close to where Chad’s parents and grandparents live during the winter.

Our new digs

For me, house hunting was less about checking off criteria from a list and more about my heart saying, “Yeah, I could see us making this a home”. It was less about a purchase and more about a commitment to the future- I could see us being happy here, I can see the girls growing up in this house, I can envision Christmas and birthdays and family dinners.

Home is the place where you can let your guard down. It’s the place where you stop sucking in your stomach. Pants are optional. (Underwear is however, REQUIRED, in this household.) It is a place where you can truly be yourself and not worry about judgement.

Despite the fact that we were hunting for a home 1725 miles away from “home” for me, I still found myself searching for the familiar. I wanted a home with multiple levels (a lot of FL homes are one level due to the aging population), because that is what I grew up with. And the home we picked is on a golf course.

“I can’t believe you wanted to live on a golf course,” Chad said with a grin, as if shocked by the fact that I would live on a golf course. But see, he didn’t realize that golf courses are almost as familiar to me as they are to him.

Sure, I don’t spend 4 hours on the course 3 times a week playing actual golf, but golf courses are where I ran cross-country races for 6 years of my life.

Running a race is painful, and in those moments of pain you enter a deeply introspective relationship with yourself.

“I hurt,” your muscles scream. “I know this feels like you are dying, but I promise you aren’t,” your brain tries to reassure your muscles as they drown in lactic acid and your oxygen deprived lungs. Your body slowly tunes out unneeded energy expenditure.

You stop caring what you look like. You’re not worried about anyone else’s opinion. All you are left with is the conversation between your brain and your body. In the pain, there is a silence, an honesty, an acceptance. You can’t fight back or suppress emotions.

It is on golf courses that I witnessed the battle between my body and my brain. There is an intimacy that comes from pushing yourself through discomfort.

So for me, yes, golf courses are very familiar. Just not in the traditional sense.

This transition is bittersweet.

“Are you going to miss the old place?,” my mom asked on our weekly call, referring to our 3 bedroom condo that we’ve rented for the past year.

The condo was small. A little too small when it came to the whole Chad working from home and needing quiet during his conference calls. The kind of small that kept us shushing the girls, trying to keep the noise levels below ear splitting for our poor downstairs neighbor.

But also, the condo was exactly the right size. The year we spent there was full of growth. We explored the unknown as a family, with the condo being like a familiar, homely nest we could return to at the end of the day.

We tracked buckets of sand into that place. The walls were covered in adorable art projects. We snuggled together out on the lanai, watching afternoon storms roll in, taking in nature’s great show. We gathered around the kitchen table as a full family for 3 meals on most days. I can’t count the number of times I carried a sleeping child up the stairs after an adventure filled day.

Bread baking at the condo

Awhile back I read a book that talked about the concept of “holding space for hope”. I’ve really tried, but I can’t figure out who wrote it- if I had to guess it was probably by Lori Gottleib, Brene Brown, or Glennon Doyle Melton.

For us, the condo held space for hope. When we moved down to Florida, we had no idea what the future held. We didn’t know if we would love it or hate it. We believed we would be moving to Iowa after a winter spent in FL. I wasn’t sure if I would be horribly homesick, or if this would be a massive failure. And on top of that, I was trialing being a stay at home mom.

The condo offered us space to try something new and be okay if we failed. And that was one of the most freeing feelings in the world; to know that either way, if we failed or were successful, we would be just fine.

Sunset this past week

My favorite part of Florida is the ocean.

I have never felt God more than when I watch a sunset. There is something so calming, peaceful, awe inspiring about watching a big ball of fire 93 million miles away slip below the horizon.

It is in the moments of sitting on an expansive beach, hearing the powerful waves crash against the shore, and watching the big ball of fire make its journey across the sky that I am reminded of my minuscule size in this vast universe.

The thing we’ve realized about sunsets is that they are a lot more beautiful if there are clouds. Sure, a clear day is gorgeous. But when you add clouds to the equation, it adds a whole new dimension to the view.

The sun provides stunning backlights to big, billowy cumulus clouds. Every inch the sun moves down creates a whole different picture- with light being blocked in different areas and light shining through in new spots.

Cloudy sunsets are a great reminder that in life, sometimes cloudy moments accentuate the beauty.

This year hasn’t been perfect. We’ve missed our families and the places we grew up. But these clouds have accentuated the light that this year has brought to us.

Wishing you the beauty of a cloud filled sunset,


PS- We picked this house because it has plenty of space for visitors. So please come visit us. We would love to see you!

Weekly Update

Year One

Dear Readers,

It has been a year. One full year of Florida living. A year filled with sand everywhere, sunsets, tons of ice cream, unbelievable amounts of sweat, missing home, new friends, laughter, tears, and every conceivable emotion in between.

This year was a risk, an adventure, a “who am I and what am I capable of” kind of year.

Rewind back 18 months and you would find Chad and I in the middle of long conversations about what direction we wanted to point our future, about how much change and loss we could handle, and mainly about how to escape the snow.

There were endless lists of “pros and cons” that we reviewed each time, trying to weigh our options and make a logical decision.

But the more we circled the topic, we eventually realized that we could circle the topic forever. There was no right answer. Any decision we made would involve loss, but also, positive gain.

We finally agreed that we should stop wondering and start doing.

I laced up my shoes by the light of my phone flashlight. I recently discovered that if I don’t turn on any lights, I’m able to sneak out of the house for a morning run without waking our lightest sleeper, Avery.

I quickly opened the badly in need of WD40 door and stepped out into the early morning. The humidity immediately hugged me, as if I was covered in a blanket.

The neighborhood was quiet, and the houses themselves took on the personas of sleepy giants. After I completed my usual gaze at the stars, I slowly walked out the front gate.

Once I was through the gate, I began my slow shuffle. My body groaned and my brain tried to warn me that this was not what it had hoped for this morning.

I watched the first glow of morning light tint the sky while I waited for my heart to catch up with the self-inflicted increased oxygen demands. Breathless, I reflected on a podcast I recently listened to called, “The Happiness Lab.”

Shout out to my lifelong friend, Regina, for getting me hooked on this podcast.

The podcast is narrated by Dr. Laurie Santos, a psychology professor from Yale. The topic is obviously, happiness. The episode I recently listened to talked about how sometimes… often, your brain thinks you can achieve happiness by doing things that won’t cultivate happiness: sleeping in late, skipping a workout, watching 8 hours of TV, scrolling endlessly through social media, wealth.

She argues that happiness takes work. It is not a state you can reach and stay at forever, nor can you buy it. And sometimes, oftentimes, it is putting in tough work that doesn’t feel fun that will lead to an end result of happiness.

I knew this was true from a running perspective. I am not a fan of waking up at 6 to get a run in, nor am I usually a fan of running while I’m doing it. But the endorphins I get at the end, or the feeling of finishing a long run… those make it worth it.

While I continued to let my brain ruminate on the topic, I watched as the sun rays broke through the humid atmosphere of Florida. The sun rising here looks exactly like the pictures 5 year olds draw of the sun; the big ball with rays of light streaming out.

How sunrises look. Also, what my family looks like.

I was struck by the beauty of the sunrise. A moment I would have easily missed had I listened to my brain and slept in.

I shuffled on, realizing that this entire year has been reflective of the fact that happiness is something to be worked for.

Selling our Minnesota home was a lot of work, saying goodbye to my family was a wrenchingly* hard decision, being outgoing and making friends in a new state was not within my comfort zone, etc.

BUT, the people we’ve met here have been so gracious, kind, and welcoming. Southern charm, I guess you would call it. We love being minutes away from Chad’s parents and grandparents for 5 months of the year.

We have enjoyed the ability to get outside every day in a t-shirt and shorts, no matter what month of the year it is. We love our family swims after dinner, the way that sunsets and rises involve a lot of pink and purple, the summer storms, and the chance to be on an adventure, together.

What I learned from this year is that we are never stuck. Nothing is holding us captive in one situation or another. Change is always possible. And sometimes the best way forward is to simply start moving forward.

Perhaps my favorite part of this whole year has been rediscovering my love for writing. I have loved reading all of your comments and feeling connected by words. Thank you for being the best bunch of fans.

Love to all,


*I’m aware that “wrenchingly” is not a word, but you know what I meant and it sounds right.