The Sweet Spot of Work

sweet spot

This week I was told, “my older children got my youth and my younger children got my wisdom”. Man alive, truth. I think the same is true for our professional lives. Finding the sweet spot: the holy grail of intersection between wisdom, ability and enthusiasm. Warts and all, here’s my take on the sweet spot. Maybe you’ll see yourself here, too.

Dear Former Students, Clients & Colleagues,

To those of you I met at the beginning, I’m sorry. I had things to prove and I didn’t listen much. You were my testing ground and I failed sometimes, miserably. I also carry you in my heart, while I have forgotten many others in years since. You consumed much of my thoughts when I wasn’t at work. I had crazy high standards (obnoxious really), but fun ideas. I was willing to try nearly anything to connect with you…In some ways, you received the best of me.

To those of you I met in the middle of my career, I’m sorry. I was distracted. I had young children, aging parents, and too much going on all the time. I forgot you were the reason I was there. You felt like one more thing to take care of and I was tired. I also saw my children and family members in you, good and bad. I became more realistic and compassionate. My heart grew three sizes during this time. I had a better idea about what works and started to realize what truly matters…In some ways, you received the best of me.

To those of you yet to come, I’m sorry. I’m reaching the end of my career. My thoughts are starting to turn more to what I’ll do in my retired life and less about what I may accomplish at work. That’s not totally true though. I’m beginning to think about my legacy and who did I really help? I recognize the value of time and I’m choosing to be here each day with you. I want it to count. I pay closer attention now to the things people say and what is unsaid. I listen. I take my time to respond. I can guide, rather than push…In some ways, you’ll receive the best of me.

In the end, I’ll always hope that I helped in some way and that I was able to shine a light on the best part of you, too. If I didn’t, forgive me, and be the better person to someone else.



P.S. I think all the ages and stages have sweet spots. Look for the best part of the fruit and you’ll be sure to find it.

Keep sharing moxie.




Shut it, Auld Lang Syne

when harry met sally

I blame When Harry Met Sally and my maudlin teenage nature, but I’ve never liked New Year’s Eve. I was 17, and at the height of natural loveliness, when I agreed to marry a friend if we weren’t already married by the time we were 40. This was such a grave concern to me, not being married, that I apparently had to have a back-up plan WHEN I WAS 17?! Come on. Auld Lang Syne my Aunt Fanny, I wasn’t old enough to even have “auld acquaintances”.

And now, with our propensity towards a completely navel-gazing culture, I like New Year’s even less. Shut it, Auld Lang Syne, with your trumped up resolutions, your weepy scrolling through your frenemies social media feeds, the idea that one should have a fantastic New Year’s Eve plan or you’re a twee bit sad. No. Let’s face it, the holidays can be really difficult for some and there are, quite honestly, (more often than not) a year or two that we can’t wait to close the book on. After reading through Robert Burns’ original Scottish verse, I can see that Auld Lang Syne is really about getting completely wrecked in a pub taking “a right-gude-willie waught” and damn the consequences. And that, perhaps that, I can get behind.

So if you’re like me and want to cocoon this evening or get absolutely rat-arsed guttered, shine on, friends. We live enough of our days feeling like we don’t quite measure up. Don’t let a drunk Scotsmen from the 1700’s make you feel like you need a back-up plan in life, just live it.

Keep sharing moxie.

Robert Burns’ Original Scottish Verse

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne*?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.

Is smart the new pretty?

smart is the new pretty

Every day I ask my daughter some version of “what happened at school today”. This week? Sweet creamery butter, it was about math class. My nerdy heart soared. There were kids moving between advanced and regular math classes and it was A. Big. Deal. After watching inane snapchats by the thousands, it’s easy to discount the general level of intelligence and engagement of our children, but then there are rays of hope.

If smart and strong are the new pretty we need to celebrate science fairs more than selfies, math competitions more than insta followers, grit over giving in, problem-solving over popularity, and grades over make-up tutorials. This isn’t a competition pitting kids against each other, it’s more about shutting down the constant overt and covert messages about beauty being the ultimate prize.

I’m teaching a group of college women about group therapy practices. Each week the students lead a different part of the class and I listen as they share about the things they manage: volunteering, working, studying, caring for others, roommate issues, dating, finances, and the list goes on. This is an outstanding group of individuals yet none of them feel good enough. “I look at what my friend’s post and think “What the hell? Really? My life sucks. I feel like a freaking beast in my tower sitting in my sweatpants.”

If smart is the new pretty, let’s celebrate thinking. Let’s compliment the way a girl figured out a difficult problem, not the way her jeans looked. Let’s not give a fig newton about sitting at home wearing sweatpants while you’re studying. Tell all of the young adults in your life the truth, no one has the utterly fabulous life they portray. No one.

The world will continue to tell girls (and boys) a million ways they don’t measure up, don’t add to the chorus. In my experience, people don’t need to know what they aren’t good at, they could tell you 10 things in 10 seconds. Your job, all of our jobs, is to make them believe they are smart. All of them. At something. Dig deep, people. These kids need you to say something beyond their hair, their face, their clothes. Give them something that will last.

Keep sharing moxie.



Am I the last person to know about the “meetaversary”? My daughter was baking a cake this week and I asked what the occasion was, “It’s our meetaversary tomorrow, we’ve been friends for ** years.” My first reaction was promposals, now this? Come on. But then, my grinchy heart stopped, and thought about my own friends, and grew bigger.

My friend from elementary school that made it through bluebirds, divorce, and moves with me. Happy 35th meetaversary, Granny.

My next door neighbor that lived through middle school, loss, boys and break-ups. Happy 31st meetaversary, neighbor.

My college roommates that walked me down the garden path in ways that you can truly only get away with in college. Happy 22nd meetaversary, roomies.

The ones that have saved my sanity through my first real job, marriage, kids, and the shitsortment of life for the past 20 years. Here’s to 20 more, softball gang.

I think we spend a great deal of time trying to immortalize ourselves on social media, taking pictures of this vacation, and that amazing meal, but if you really want to see who you are? Look to your friends. They have the goods on you from every stage of your life, right? They knew you before you were whoever you present to the world now. Any friend that has stood witness as you dramatically flushed some boy’s picture down the toilet with gusto and then offered to bike to get you ice cream is the real deal. Same for the friend that showed up for the funeral, that showed up, and showed up, and showed up.

We celebrate love with anniversaries, with engagements, with weddings, and a huge amount of pomp and circumstance. The truth is, my friends have saved me, all through my life. My husband didn’t. It’s because OF my friends that I didn’t need to be “saved” but rather to just have fun and see where it went. I can’t thank all of them enough. If you stop and think about it, I bet you can’t either. Meetaversary? It’s not such a silly thing. When I think about what I truly want for my daughter? It’s to have friendships that she wants to celebrate. That is no small thing. It’s everything.

Keep sharing moxie.


Her happy place…

love is cassette.jpg

Every family has their own vacation rituals, right? My childhood trek was to, wait for it, the great state of South Dakota. Every. Single. Summer. My mom had little vacation time, so the yearly pilgrimage to South Dakota was a big deal. We got a bag of cheetos, twizzlers, made some sandwiches, filled up the coffee thermos, and wouldn’t dream of forgetting to pack “Love is- Best of the 70’s” tape, part 1 and 2. I can still recite every single line of “Islands in the Stream” and “I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me.” (Now if that isn’t a great party trick…I don’t know what is…)

welcome to sd

No air conditioning, sticky seats, and an older sister that barely tolerated me headed to a town smaller than my own. Sweet bliss! As time has gone on, what I remember most about these trips is how happy my mom was. This was the one time that I could imagine what she was like as a child. She hummed getting close to South Dakota. She let me blow things up with my rowdy cousins in South Dakota. She let me drive a car (when I was 13) in South Dakota. This was her happy place.

Of all the gifts from childhood, the ability to see your parents as people separate from yourself is a lasting one. I always associated my mom with work, cleaning the house on Saturday mornings, grocery shopping, and worrying about the future. I saw someone different in South Dakota. It was the equivalent of seeing your elementary school teacher on a ride at the county fair. They can have fun?! That’s allowed?

I just spent the last week packing to decamp with my own family to the lake for a month. I hummed while writing my packing list. I overheard my kids talking last night, “Just ask her. She’ll probably let us. Mom’s in her happy place.”

Bike to get ice cream? At 10 o’clock? You bet. I’ll do you one better. I’ll race you there.

Keep sharing moxie. Happy Canada Day to our friends to the North & Happy 4th to those stateside.


Mothers are crazy birds…

FullSizeRender (68)My porch has been taken over by an expectant robin. She is fierce and a little unhinged. My daughter made this sign to make sure that no one dares to step foot on our porch. This bird will fly at you like a missile. She will pretend to be wounded to lead you away from her eggs. Her dive-bomb tactics will make you run screaming for the hills. Today is Mother’s day, and to me, it isn’t about just being a mother, it’s about anyone that is ready to dive-bomb to protect a child, that instinctively thinks of someone else before themselves. A mother’s love is not limited to biology, to race, even to gender. I have met some single fathers that are better “mothers” than me. I have known aunts that rock parenthood like professionals. I have been taken in by someone that shares not a drop of DNA structure with me, but loves me unconditionally. Unfortunately, I also know “mothers” that don’t give a fig newton about their children, that are mothers in name only.

Mother’s Day is about celebrating the slightly crazy, fierce, unhinged birds that love with their whole hearts and would sacrifice themselves to protect whoever they have claimed as their own. Welcome to the ranks, Little Mama Bird.


Before you go thinking I’m some ribbons for all, celebrate everybody fluffer nutter, I’m not. A mother’s love is something to be celebrated, its sanctity is the ultimate reflection of sacrifice. I’m saying that can come in all sorts of vessels and in no way is that something to scoff at.

I was playing a “What-if” game in the car with a group of friends years ago and one of the questions went something like this “You’re in a room, you have a choice to push a button to kill yourself, or someone in the next room that might or might not be your spouse. What would you do?”. One person answered, without a moment’s hesitation. “I would push the button and kill the person in the next room. Even if it were my spouse. No one could love my children like I can.” As I said, a mother’s love is not to be trifled with.

So today, on this day that is beautiful for some, and something to be endured for others, let me leave you with this…You may be a mother, you might not be. You may have children, you may have lost children, you may have chosen to not have children. In any case, I hope you have someone you would dive-bomb to protect and a person in your life that loves you with a mother’s love, because it is fierce and glorious. Happy Mother’s Day!




Rise up, small town, rise up…

small-townI live in a small town, was born and raised in a small town. Stop it, John Cougar Mellencamp, this is my story. Like many, I couldn’t wait to get out of a small town, until I had kids. My children can walk down any street in this town. Everyone knows their names, who they belong to. My kids will eventually feel suffocated by this, but not me. Nope. This helps me sleep at night.

There are two seasons here: ice in and ice out. Whether for fishing or the two hockey arenas, it’s boat or fish house, skates or dryland. We have more churches than bars. This is Minnesota after all, not Wisconsin :). Our polling place is in a farm field. I kid you not. My husband brings out donuts to the election judges, and by the time I get there I’m treated to a full report of not only when my husband voted, but who he visited with. Often I feel like I live in Mayberry, but sometimes I feel like I am stuck in high school. Forever.

Sometimes small towns can be, well, small. Small-minded and full of nosy parkers. I’m not quite sure why I have Facebook, most of the people that are my friends on this medium see me grocery shopping daily and picking up my kids from practice. It’s hard to make a mistake and change in a small town, or to create a better version of yourself. Everyone seems to remember Fat Timmy, Drunk Bev, or that homewrecker, you remember the one.

But then, once in awhile, this small town knocks the curmudgeon right out of me and fills me with love.  When it comes to the nitty gritty, this town shows up. Whether that’s a fire, a car crash, or a brave little boy fighting to get well, the town answers the call. Rise up, small town, rise up. There is a family that needs you. Print the t-shirts, open the fund, fling wide the doors, invite others in. And we do. And we will. Because we live in this same small town…

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Prob’ly die in a small town
Oh, those small communities

All my friends are so small town
My parents live in the same small town
My job is so small town
Provides little opportunity

Educated in a small town
Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another boring romantic that’s me.

Alright, John, you had your moment. Pack it in. I’ve got a little boy on my mind, just like everyone else in this town tonight. Rise up, small town, rise up. Let’s watch something magical happen, bigger than you, bigger than me, more than we could ever do on our own.

I hope all of you have a small town somewhere, at some point, in your history. They’re a good place to spring from and return to when you need it.

Keep sharing moxie.