A moment of sadness

For the last few months, I’ve loved sharing the Commit2Twenty idea with all of you. While continuing my twenty minute commitment to exercise, I’ve experimented with other 20 minute commitments as well. I’ve written for 20 minutes a day, I’ve worked on my “picture project”, I’ve even set the timer for 20 minutes and run around my house cleaning the bathrooms. In the last couple of weeks, though, I’ve been reminded that not everything can be given a twenty minute time slot. When someone’s life ends, it would be easier if we could squeeze our grief into a twenty minute window, but our hearts require so much more time.

The really funny thing about life. . . no scratch that. The really shitty thing about life. . . no scratch that. The really inevitable thing about life. . . is that it ends. Sometimes when we least expect it – and that’s tragic and soooo sad. Sometimes when we totally expect it – and it’s still soooo sad. My grandpa’s death last week was fortunately the latter, but still I find myself feeling soooo sad.

When a person like my grandpa dies at age 90, after living a life overflowing with love, loyalty, adventure, passion, and knowledge, you’d think we’d stand up and cheer. He did it! He lived life to the fullest – to me, his ever adoring granddaughter he was larger than life – and he lived 90 years. His was a life truly worthy of a standing ovation, but instead those of us who loved him wilt with sadness.

For my grandpa, the last few years were very difficult. His body, forever strong and fit, failed him miserably in the end. Eleven years ago, while hiking with him in the mountains in Mexico, I had to ask him to slow down. I’ll use the elevation and the first-trimester of pregnancy as my excuse, but the truth is my grandpa was going strong, even at age 80. A mere decade ago, my grandpa very easily could have committed to twenty minutes of daily exercise, and most likely did much more.

He grew up in Denmark, and loved to tell stories of his days in the boy-scouts, how he rode his bike to Holland for the boy scouts’ “jamboree”. In the scouts he learned how to read and draw maps, which I recently learned he would do for his hiking friends in Mexico, guiding them along hikes through the mountains around his home, even as his own legs made it more and more difficult for my grandpa to simply walk through his home.

I think it was in the scouts that my grandpa learned how to light a fire, and boy was he particular. His way required kindling cut just so and positioned just right. He was certain no one could build a fire of his caliber and therefore never allowed anyone else to try – except me. I confess, I made him let me during a visit this past year because I was frightened he was going to light himself on fire. I set up the sticks just so and am certain it was almost exactly as he had taught me to do. Fortunately my grandpa’s sense of humor was still intact and he laughed when it took me 26 matches to get it lit!

After coming to the United States at age 23 to study for his Ph.D., my grandpa continued hiking and biking as he had in Denmark which fortunately fit nicely into his career in the forest service. He also was an avid cross-country skier, quietly sliding past the pines in the Nicolet Forest in northern Wisconsin, many of which he planted and cultivated himself. Until the last five years his artificial hip and arthritic ankle never slowed him down.

But then, one day, his hip did slow him down. He’d exhausted its metallic lifespan and it needed to be replaced. But alas, he was too old. The doctors tried twice, but just couldn’t get the new metal to attach to the old bone well enough to support him. He started to use his hiking sticks to get around. My grandpa was stubborn as an ox and hated to accept help. He eventually accepted a walker, but never liked the wheelchair.

The last few years of his life were torturous, but my grandpa really didn’t complain. He swore like a sailor when his legs didn’t support him, but never complained about the pain. Because he was so stubborn, he insisted on living his last years in his home in Mexico, far from his family, but in a climate and country that he loved.

His children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, and his “adopted” great-grandchildren – we were all his joy. That joy emanated from his smile and twinkled in his striking blue eyes that I’ll always remember. And his hard, loving kiss on my cheek that I always “complained” scratched because of his mustache is something I’d give anything to feel one more time.

My grandpa’s life was certainly one well-lived. If he was here right now to take a bow, I’d stand up and clap and cheer. But since he’s not, for now, my friends, I’ll just sit and cry.

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Commit2Twenty Results!

Though I’ve been absent this week, it’s certainly not because I’ve given up on my 20 minute commitment – quite the contrary. I was busy with life and cleaning my house and networking over coffee and realizing that my butt wasn’t made to sit on bleachers three nights a week watching Little League and furthermore thinking that if the military was looking for a new form of torture, they might try making a terrorist sit on metal bleachers for hours upon hours without a break. I’m betting a day of “bleacher torture” with nothing between his butt and the metal but a thin piece of fabric would have even the most hardened criminal flapping his jaws in no time.

Yes, life is busy. This week culminated in my running our local 10 mile race to celebrate Syttende Mai. As far as I’ve learned since moving here 5 years ago, Sytttende Mai is a Norwegian celebration where the 50% of our community who are Norwegian celebrate their heritage and the other half of us pretend we are one of them. It’s great fun, mixed with great food, with parades, bunads, lefse, and dancing thrown in for fun.

Race day turned out to be a beautiful day for a run. The 10 mile course is a point to point race through rural, southern Wisconsin. The flowering trees and lilacs added to the serene surroundings.

I had made it my goal to finish the 10 mile this year is 1 hour 30 minutes at a 9 minute pace. (You can read how I did last year, here.) When I crossed the finish line, the clock read 1:25:16. That is an 8:32 pace. I didn’t just shave off a few minutes from last year, I chopped off a whopping 12 minutes!

That, my friends, is further evidence that Commit2Twenty works! You don’t need hours everyday, you need 20 minutes, and it needs to be consistent. Commit2Twenty has taken me from a bottom third finisher in races to the top third. Just imagine where it will take you!

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Network for Success!

On Friday mornings this month my daughter’s 4K class has begun having classes to help them transition to the 5 day a week schedule of kindergarten in the fall. Since she is now at class, I have been able to attend the Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs (WWE – not the wrestlers, the entrepreneurs!) morning networking meetings.

I joined the group two years ago when I was working in a home based business as a way to expand my network. The women that I’ve met through the group have become so much more than simply a network. They have provided me with a healthy dose of advice, a plethora of wisdom, and oodles and oodles of encouragement. There are a few women there that have been in business for themselves for 40+ years and have encountered, tackled, and overcome nearly every obstacle under the sun.

Though getting to the meetings isn’t always easy for me, I was reminded last Friday how important they are. The thing is, the women in the group refuse to let me sit idle. They refuse to let me get too comfortable and are always happy and eager to push me forward to take the next step and lift me up to reach the next level. The universe even threw out a sign that I was meant to be at last Friday’s WWE meeting when I got my order number for breakfast:


When you Commit2Twenty, make sure you look for those friends, family, acquaintances, or co-workers who will support you just as the women in WWE support me in my business. Seek out the people who will champion your successes and push you to do your best day in and day out. I can’t remember who said it or where I read it, but they say that you’re about as happy, as wealthy, and as successful as your 5 closest friends, so choose them wisely. Surround yourself with the most positive people you can find, and then become the most positive in the group!

I did 20 minutes of exercise today and wrote for 20 minutes and feel great! What’s your twenty and how did you feel when you got it done today?

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I Remember it Exactly – Except Better!

You have probably gathered that our family is into sports. The seasons go by, not as winter, spring, summer, and fall, but as basketball and hockey, baseball and golf, football and recently there’s been talk from our 8 year old that soccer may be added this year as well. Though my husband and I are of the belief that kids’ sports have gotten a wee bit out of hand as far as time and travel are concerned (sometimes it’s practically time travel as we buzz from one event to the next), we do love that our kids stay active and involved and have found activities that are healthy for their bodies and that they enjoy.

This morning as everyone was getting ready to walk out the door our oldest son, age 10, and my husband were talking about his first baseball game, which is tonight. A disagreement ensued when our 10 year old, boldly stated, “Last year I never struck out in Little League.” My husband adamantly disagreed, and I was of no help because, let’s be honest, as his mom I am pretty sure I only saw him hit home runs.

After all three boys left for the day, the biggest to his job, and the littler two to school, I was left to ponder our memories. I sat wondering about how my husband could stand there and say with utmost certainty that our son had, in fact, struck out in Little League at least once and our son could disagree whole heartedly and state that he had not. Who was wrong? They were both there at every game. They were both 100% certain they were correct.

It brought to mind those crime shows where the eye witnesses sit down with a sketch artist and they describe who they saw while the artist sketches it. I’ve always thought I would be a horrible eye witness. The worst. I swear I can, at times, be the most unobservant person in the world. I’m so bad that I have to quiz myself in the morning after my kids have left for school to see if I remember what they are wearing. If they went missing during the day, there are days that I honestly couldn’t even tell the police what my own kid was wearing when he left in the morning. That’s terrible, right?

I think people’s minds work in many different ways and what we remember depends on what is important to us. I can happily say that I almost always remember a story someone has shared with me. I am continually coming home from the park and relaying a story to my husband that I’ve just heard there. One day a sweet woman was sharing with me her struggles with infertility prior to conceiving her young son as we pushed our kids on the swings. As I was explaining in full detail this woman’s saga, my husband stopped me and asked how long I’d known her. “Oh,” I said. “We just met 20 minutes ago at the park.” I couldn’t have told him that day what color eyes she had, what color her hair was, or what she was wearing, but I can still remember years later her story.

When it comes to men and sports memories, I’ve discovered that their memories are affected by certain factors.
1 – If they were playing.
2 – How long ago the game was.
3 – If the person they are discussing the memory with was there.
4 – If they feel they need to compete with the person they are speaking to.

These four factors come together like so – if a man was playing in the game or sport under question, his memory will always be slightly better than what actually happened. The level by which his memory improves upon his performance will depend upon how long ago the game or sport was played. If he is discussing a particular game, such as the high school basketball conference championship and he is talking to a fellow teammate, both of their memories will be inflated and they will pump each other up, with one exception. If either man feels like he is in competition with the other and feels he must assert himself in front of the other, he will remember the faults of the other person and will inflate his own strengths.

I may be off a bit here, but as the daughter of a coach, the one-time teenage girlfriend of a high school basketball player, the wife of a former high school basketball player, and the mother of two young athletic boys, I know I’m not out in left field.

So when my husband and son were in complete and utter disagreement about whether our son had played the whole season of Little League without striking out I was left to ponder where the truth lay. Our son was the one playing, so he very well could have remembered his playing as better than it was. The season was only a year ago, not long enough to have inflated the memory too much. Both my husband and son were there, so the fact that they were in disagreement told me that there might have been a certain amount of competition between the two.

Because I grew up with only one sister, my knowledge of the father/son relationship is only limited to the past 10 1/2 years. But that’s a topic for another blog.

In this case there was no way to prove whether my husband or our son was correct. Records were not kept, games weren’t recorded, and there wasn’t another person’s memory that we could rely on – I only saw home runs, remember? I began to think, does remembering the facts really matter? Certainly it does if we’re a witness to a crime, but in our everyday lives, are the facts all that important? Are we better off remembering the facts slightly better than they were?

I have come to the conclusion that on a day to day basis remembering the facts exactly as they were serves no purpose. Most of us are not historians. We aren’t needed to testify to the facts. So if our son remembers getting on base every time at bat during Little League last year, he should. It’s his memory and in this case, the facts are unimportant.

Do you remember the facts, or do you remember something better?

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Talk about Commit2Twenty

The best thing that’s happened since I started this blog has been hearing from you about your 20 minute commitments and the changes you are seeing since starting Commit2Twenty. You continue to inspire me to share my message and motivate me to find ways to get more people on board. My favorite response when I’m talking to people in person is, “You know what? I can do 20 minutes. Now, what am I going to do?”

Everyone really can find 20 minutes in their day to spend doing something that is important to them. Once it becomes a habit, it isn’t hard at all. One thing that I have found is that doing something, anything for 20 minutes has become such a habit for me that I have extended it to different areas of my life.

As you know, for last month’s 10 – 20 – 30 Challenge, I committed 20 minutes to my picture project. I also, after being challenged to “jump off the ladder” by Amanda over at The Live Simply Blog, began putting 20 things in a bag at a time to be donated. (Clearly I only operate in 20s.)

Though you can’t always tell by looking around our home, I can get a little carried away when it comes to cleaning. I get started and before I know it half my morning is gone. So this week I decided to set a timer for 20 minutes and after it went off, I was going to be done cleaning. The great thing was, I was happy with having only done 20 minutes and I didn’t feel bad stopping because I knew I could find another 20 minutes the next day to pick up where I’d left off.

Enough about me, though, this is what you are saying about Commit2Twenty:

Yay! I finished my 30 days straight of exercising a minimum of 20 min. daily and made it 31 today. Now that the weather is decent….we hope…it will be much easier to continue.

Thanks so much for challenging and inspiring me.

I’ve learned that I can “fit” 20 min of exercise into my day, no matter what! I will continue on this journey, I hope to make another 20 min goal this next month. Thank you for inspiring me!!

It is enough and then some! I am on day 22, and I find I have so much more energy and motivation! I am not only getting in my 20 min, I am adding extra workouts in the afternoon, and getting so much more done around the house! You just have to start, stick with it, and have faith that it totally gets better!

I liked my first thirty days so much that I am extending my baby steps to another thirty days! Excited because I found that love of exercising again, and dropped 12 lbs! Yea to commit2twenty!

I don’t mean to get sappy here, but when I read that someone even lost weight by committing to 20 minutes a day, I got a little choked up. This is big, my friends! Tell your friends about Commit2Twenty. Invite them to give it a try. Let’s keep moving and get this twenty minute movement started!

How did you feel today after doing your twenty minutes?

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Introducing Standing Forward

When you grow up in a small town, you go to school with the same kids for 13 years, and you often times end up sitting next to the same kid in nearly every class because your last names are next to each other alphabetically. Then, when you become adults and reconnect at a reunion or through Facebook you realize that you have a uniquely shared history. You could run into that person at a coffee shop years after high school and say, “hey, do you remember when . . .?” and they would, because they were there. They sat in the same classrooms, learned from the same teachers, played in the same concerts, and performed in the same plays.

For me, one of those “kids” was Keith. Keith and I were in orchestra and choir together, I marched in band and he was the drum major, our lockers were next to each other, and he later confessed that he lost count of the number of times he watched me braid and unbraid my hair when I was bored in class and he was stuck sitting behind me. (Alphabetical order, remember?)

As we grew up, I watched Keith develop an early passion for music. He sang, played percussion and the viola, and taught himself how to play the guitar. After high school, our paths went different directions, but I heard through our small-town network that Keith had started writing his own songs and was producing his own music. Recently, I learned that Keith not only had followed his passion, studied his passion, and turned his passion into a career, I learned he now is helping others do the same through his business, Standing Forward – Heart Centered Career Strategies.

When I first heard of Standing Forward and how Keith is counseling people to make a living by following their hearts, I was eager to learn more. I thought you would be too – Enjoy!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself..

I’m Keith, 36, grew up in Wisconsin and have spent most of my adult life in New England. I’ve always been interested in the arts, wellness, and helping others.

2. What led you to form Standing Forward?

As a professional musician/artist and nationally certified career counselor, I have become interested in the ways that creative people and organizations can benefit from assistance in the realms of marketing, business skills, personal development, and wellness. I formed my practice in order to address these topics through my own experience and knowledge. We teach that which we most need to learn, after all!

3. How did you choose the name Standing Forward and what is its significance to you?

The name and logo represent a moment that sometimes happens in life, when the opportunity to make a major improvement, take action, and both literally and figuratively “stand forward” can become apparent. It also relates to a curtain call; when the whole cast is bowing after a performance, and each artist has a chance to step up into the light. I find that validation seeming to come from outside ourselves is even more powerful when it comes from within. My goal is that anyone who works with me will make progress in “standing forward” with whatever their current issues or challenges may be, career & otherwise.

4. Are you focused solely on working with and helping musicians?

I have training and credentials to work with anyone. Those who tend to find my practice are often creatively-focused, because that’s the world in which I have the largest and most active network. As a musician myself, I have a special understanding for what it might be like for a fellow performer to be dealing with work/life balance or other issues. I also truly enjoy meeting and working with anyone!

5. Where do you see yourself and Standing Forward in 5 years?

I am currently writing a book and producing an audio podcast. I’d like to cultivate a strong and engaged community around the topics that interest me, by continuing to work with individual and organizational clients, producing content such as the podcast and book, and facilitating career-related creativity workshops with schools, colleges, and nonprofits.

6. You chose to meditate for 20 minutes a day for the 10 – 20 – 30 Challenge last month. What effect has it had?

Meditation is a way for me to become still and quiet, and to listen for the guidance that is always present within. I appreciate the 20 minutes per day approach. It seems do-able while also offering a tangible result that takes meaningful effort to begin and sustain.

7. What is your favorite inspirational quote and why?

I am currently studying the philosophy and methods of author and teacher Byron Katie. One of my favorite teachings of hers is: “There are only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.” I find that for myself and with my clients, when learning to address the sphere of influence where we have the most (and only) power to effect change–our own individual “business”–we become more clear and authentic, and thus able to be of service to others.

You can find Standing Forward on Facebook as well as here.

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Congratulations – you did it!

You did it! Today is the last day of our very first 10 – 20 – 30 Challenge. If you’ve been with us the whole month, you have completed 20 minutes of daily positive action for the last 30 days! Woohoo!

I bet, like me, you’ve learned a thing or two throughout the month. For this challenge, I committed to working on my picture project for 20 minutes each day this month. I’ve also continued exercising 20 minutes a day everyday, alternating between running and toning exercises and I’ve made it my goal to write for 20 minutes a day. This is what I’ve discovered this month in no particular order:

1. We have three adorable children who take some darn cute pictures.
2. However, on occasion our children look so horrendous in a picture that I’ve been tempted to print it and file it in an envelope in case I need to blackmail them by threatening to show their friends during their teenage years.
3. Last year was an exceptional year of travel for me. I was in California twice, went on an Alaskan cruise, visited my grandpa in Mexico, and went on a family vacation to Arizona. Super spoiled! I haven’t been anywhere since November and I feel like I’m in travel withdrawal. Please can somebody put me on a plane?!
4. After printing 600 pictures and completing 3 photo books, I’ve decided that I prefer the photo books. They take up less space, I am more discerning in my picture selection, and I can write better captions. From now on, I’m going to do only the photo books.
5. My picture project was harder for me to commit to than the exercise. I found that I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t passionate about it like the exercise. Even after running everyday last year and now alternating that with toning and aerobics, I can’t wait to do it each morning. I never really felt that way with the pictures.
6. After 20 minutes everyday for the last month I have made lots of progress on my photos – I’m already a third of the way done!
7. Just like with the exercise, there were some days that I spent more than 20 minutes on my photos, but on the days when I only had 20 minutes, it felt great to fit it in and get it accomplished.
8. When you commit to something for 20 minutes a day and know that you are going to do it again tomorrow, it takes a lot of the stress out of getting it finished. By exercising everyday I have committed myself to keeping my body as healthy as I can. The 20 minutes a day has taken away the pressure of losing weight, getting to a certain size, or even running a certain time. 20 minutes is enough and the rest will take care of itself.
9. Finding 20 minutes 3 times a day is easier than finding an hour once a day. That being said, I would encourage you to limit your 20 minute commitments to three at the most, and when you are just starting, stick to one.
10. When you Commit2Twenty, you immediately put yourself on the right path to improving your health, your happiness, and you life! Keep going, my friends – you can do it!

What have you learned this month? Are you going to continue with your same 20 minute commitment as we flip the calendar tomorrow? Have you decided on a new twenty for the next month?

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If You Give a Mom a Night Out

As a stay at home mom, I have 10 years experience reading hundreds (thousands?) of children’s books. Many of them ten, if not hundreds of times. They often get stuck in my head and if you catch me after I’ve just finished up Dr. Seuss, I’ll probably be speaking in rhyme and talking about the Who’s down in Whoville. So when I thought about writing about my very fun, overly fun, weekend, Laura Numeroff’s, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, came to mind. I don’t know why, but here goes:

A story based loosely on my weekend. . .

If you give a mom a night out, she’ll want a martini to go with it. So she’ll walk into your house, demand a shaker and start mixing. When she finishes her martini, she’ll want another. And another. When her glass is empty she’ll ask for more, but you’ll tell her it’s time to leave for the party. She’ll want to go with you.

When you get to the party, she’ll remember that the wine is $10 a cup and all you can drink so she’ll want to get her money’s worth. She’ll ask you to fill her cup at the bar. When she finishes that, she’ll hear a song that reminds her of the top 10 list she had as a teenager and drag you onto the dance floor to dance. She’ll start dancing. The wine will remind her what a great dancer she is so she’ll keep dancing. Dancing will make her thirsty so she’ll ask you to fill her glass again.

Drinking more wine will remind her she has to pee so she’ll ask to find the restroom. While there, she’ll run into two girlfriends and fall into one of those deep conversations that only happen in women’s restrooms. Talking in the restroom will remind her how much she loves being out of the house and listening to great music. The music will remind her what a great dancer she is, so she’ll ask to go dance again. The dancing will make her thirsty so when the music stops, she’ll ask to go upstairs to the bar so you can get her a drink.

All the dancing and drinking and fun will make her sleepy so she’ll ask you to walk her home and put her to bed. When she wakes up in the morning her parched mouth will remind her to drink water. Drinking water will make her think of her daily commitment to 20 minutes of exercise. Practicing her Lamaze breathing during her workout, so as not to throw up, will remind her of her children. She’ll ask you to go get them.

You will go and get the children who she will be so happy to see and hug and kiss. Seeing the kids will make her think of the beautiful weather outside and ask them all to go outside. While outside, the warm sunshine will remind them of squirt gun fights so they will get them out. One child will squirt another child who will chase that child around the driveway threatening to beat him up and the third child will begin screaming about being WET!! The screaming children will make her angry so she will drag the children inside to clean their rooms.

While the children are whining about cleaning their rooms, she will remember the wine from last night. Thinking of the wine will remind her of the martini and she’ll ask you for one. And chances are, if you give her the martini, she’ll want a night out to go with it.


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Deep thoughts with a five year old

I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being. – Confucius

Yesterday while driving home from the mall, a place I normally avoid like the plague, but have visited three days in a row – yikes! – our 5 year old daughter and I had the following conversation:

K – “Mommy, what is your center?”

Me – “What do you mean?”

K – “You know, your center.”

Me – “Do you mean like your centers at school?” (reading, coloring, dramatic play, etc.)

K – “No, I mean what is your center in your heart?”

Isn’t it crazy how deep a five year old can get, and how it’s always while you’re in the car or putting them to bed? They pull out those whammies and suddenly you’re trying to remember why you never took a college psychology class and furthermore why in the class description it didn’t say, “this class will help you understand the multiple personalities of each of your future children and help you answer their deep, difficult questions while driving in the car or putting them to bed.” I would have signed up for that.

In answer to her question, my center in my heart is certainly my children, my husband, my parents, my sister and her family, and my growing faith. Spreading out from my center are my friends, who encircle my relatives. Further out are my passions for exercise, good health, and encouraging others. I realized, though, as I was thinking about it, all of these can be summed up in a word – relationships. Whether they are loving, friendly, or working relationships, they make up my center and fill up my heart.

What is your center in your heart?

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Carry On

Baseball and golf season are in full swing – pun intended – so recently my writing time has been limited to my 20 minutes a day. Therefore, I have two words for you, my friends – carry on!

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