Adventures, Bucket Lists, and Contentment: 2014 Recap

I want to start documenting a little more directly the exciting and adventurous things I have done each year…it helps me remember how blessed/not boring my life actually is. I have been contemplating this project for a while, and I like it because it is not only a great way to remember a creative, fun year, it also caters to the side of me that loves to put everything in boxes.


Sweet things I did in 2014:

dyed my hair like Rogue from X-men
refinished a desk
tried Kopi Luwak coffee at the Woman at Risk Conference
discovered hammocks
sent over 50 letters and read 26 books (and started countless more)
learned to throw pottery
found morel mushrooms
completed an internship at Hawkins Family Farm
finally mastered the forearm stand
finally got a six pack
started teaching myself cello
community dinners with rock climbing friends
tried slacklining
saw a calf just birthed in the mountains of Switzerland
started a monthly newsletter about courage

Month-by-Month 2014:

Januaryrecipe tested for FoodLovesWriting’s Einkorn Cookbook
February– solo road-tripped to Virginia, participated in the 40-day challenge through Goshen Grace Community Church
March– got some killer bruises while ice climbing in Michigan
April– Rock climbed at Red River Gorge (discovering Miguels and Ale-8), visited Nashville to run a marathon without training (barefoot) (don’t try this at home)
May– got published in Edible Michiana for the first time, got published in Wolftree magazine twice
June– saw baby bears and washed my hair in a mountain stream while backpacking for three days through Shenandoah Valley, (also may or may not have hitchhiked 20 miles up a mountain in a storm with a guy who’d just gotten out of court for possession of marijuana…did not just tell you that) sat in on a Sasquatch convention during the family reunion in Burr Oak State Park
July– helped unload a truckload of hay for the fun of it (and for a little cash)
August– competed in my first triathlon, drove a jet ski across Culver Lake, learned how to wakesurf, swam across Winona Lake
September– spent a week in Switzerland, hanging out around Eiger and drinking ungodly amounts of espresso, celebrated Hobbit Day, ran the Grace College Alumni 5k, got published in Edible Michiana again and hung out at the Nappanee Apple Fest
October– raced (and won) Nocturnal IV, hung out at Mississinewa 1812
November– learned about winter harvesting and butchered chickens during my internship at Hawkins Family Farm
Decembercut down a real Christmas tree, counted small blessings, and enjoyed a month full of celebrating with family and friends, observed Advent, celebrated my 2-year wedding anniversary and the 12 days of Christmas!

Okay, on to some of my favorite things (basically this means food and books)

U-Picked: strawberries, blueberries, and apples
Foraged for morel mushrooms, black raspberries (made black raspberry syrup), sassafras, hickory nuts (made hickory syrup), and wild blueberries in Switzerland
Made home-pressed apple cider (from a press my father in law built!) and homemade root beer with the foraged sassafrass
Shared: participated in a bread share, as well as receiving an abundance of vegetables from Hawkins Farm!

Gifted a moka pot
Discovered chicory coffee and dandelion root coffee
Invented a hot chocolate with smoked tea infused caramel and smoked salt (it tasted like a campfire)

Best Reads:

East of Eden by Steinbeck (, Unbroken (biography of Louis Zamperini), (reread) Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, The Shack by William Young (wow that one was different than I expected!), Mastery by Robert Greene (hidden ebook gem), and Lone Survivor, autobiogrophy of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.

Best Movies: The Secret Life of Walter MittyThe Battle of the Five Armies, Unbroken
I also watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Ameile for the first time and re-watched The Breakfast Club. Classics! (Also, I learned that my favorite TV series, Pushing Daisies, was heavily inspired by Ameile!

Quick 2013 recap (Because I didn’t do this last year and I plan on making it a yearly thing)

States visited in 2013:

North Carolina
Indiana (duh)
Ohio (duh)

Best of 2013 in chronological order:

–saw the Avett Brothers in concert (best.concert.ever.)
–stayed in a cabin in Bryson City, North Carolina and hiked on the Appalachian Trail
–shot a semiautomatic rifle and milked a cow in Alabama
–ran a quarter marathon Winona Lake trail race
–solo-road-tripped to Wausau, Wisconsin to visit my sister
–baked several piecakens
climbed to the top of Mount Yale, my first 14er
–spent a weekend in Mesick, Michigan (just on the border of Manistee National Forest), fishing, cooking over campfires, canoeing, and practicing archery
–saw Josh Turner in concert
–celebrated Hobbit Day with an apple pierateship
–saw Mumford & Sons in concert (!)
ran a 50k relay in Door County, Wisconsin (and medaled!)
–ran a Tough Mudder with my brother
placed 2nd in a poetry contest
–saw A Christmas Carol at the Indiana Repertory Theater and ate at Hard Rock Cafe
-finished 19 books and started many more

All of these things were made possible by friends, family, and a little dose of stubbornness on my part to take every opportunity and live life to the fullest. I am grateful.

the fears that keep me from writing

If I write, then people will know.
They will know I’m different.

To some it’s that I’m quiet, that I’m not always bursting with jokes and laughter, always casting spells on the audience, singing loud and uninhibited. I know the truth about myself, and it is hard enough to accept because sometimes I wish I was all of those things. But I also know what’s true: I’m full of life, of energy. I create, I have ideas.

And I also watch.


That can be a blessing and a curse, because the watchers are the storytellers, and they have a special role in the world. They help people remember, help them see what they would normally miss.

But also sometimes the writer sorts  sit back, sit still,  wait for the people to come to them instead of standing up and reaching out.

I can be like that.

Some of you can be like that.

You don’t reach for things. You’re all curled up inside yourselves. Every once in a while I can see inside enough to know you’re the same way I am, I see just pieces and glimpses of the you you’re hiding.

And I think it’s beautiful.

Because I’m the the sitting-back-and-putting-pieces-together sort. The finding-beauty-where-it’s-hidden sort. The sometimes-quiet sort.



Course, there are times I unfold and spill over, loud and excited, but those are when I am absolutely, completely surrounded by people and routines that say, every day: you are wanted. you are accepted. you are useful. 

I’ve been there before, and I’m not there right now, but rather in this strange limbo world between safe-places.  I can relate to C.S. Lewis, who said when he first came to Oxford: “Is it that no man makes real friends after he has passed the undergraduate age?” Something about adulthood, about reserve and manners and dignity, makes that joyful “you too!?” so much more difficult to say.

I kick myself for not being able to reach out, for letting my scared little heart be content to only watch. The excuse? “I’m a writer, I was meant to observe, not engage.”


That’s a lie, heart.
A writer has to live, too. The best writers have compelling stories of their own, and though they can tell someone else’s with honesty and grace – well, they have to be able to tell their own with the same force.

And they have to lower their guard enough to discover the others in hiding.

So this is me, waving a white flag of sorts, saying, I want to  live, and watch, and run headlong into all of the scary new places of that lonely world called adulthood. I want to know your story, though I’m terrified to ask.

If you can relate, leave me a comment about it, will you? I’m in desperate need of some kinfolk.

February 27: road trip to North Carolina

(where awaits a cabin, a hot tub, and Appalachian mountains under a stony sky) —

The hazy minutes waking out of a doze next to someone in the car can be revealing. When people think you are asleep it leaves them in the pleasant self-awareness of being alone with themselves, yet with the cozy connection of a sleeping soul close by. Yet the sleeper, in a poetic haze, watches dazedly and feels like a secret onlooker, loving harder than ever an hoping it can spill over into the waking hours.




the paradox




Spending the weekend with my husband’s family. It’s been full of good things: tea and blueberry scones/stacks of maps/husband in camo/light earlier and later/secret plans

Be grateful for the home you have,
knowing that at this moment,
all you have is all you need.
~Sarah Ban Breathnach



My OneWord365: Why discipline needs a prefix

I’ve read about OneWord365 on several blogs. It seemed like a good idea, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I almost ditched the idea of posting about it entirely, but I can’t. Because my one word is


I’m in a transitionary time in my life: I just graduated from college, got married, and realized a whole bunch of things about myself that I need to act on and not just sit on. Basically, The direction I choose now will be the direction I take my entire future. Therefore, (and perhaps more importantly),

The habits I create now will affect the direction and results of the rest of my life.


me, at NAIA Nationals in Portland Oregon

Because habits add up.

I read a post on (tomboy! don’t judge) called What’s Your 20-Mile March? Using the famous race to the South Pole between Robert Scott and Roald Admundson, authors Brett and Kate McKay outline the major differences between those who achieve high levels of success and those who don’t reach their goals. They also cited a research project done by Collins and Hanson, studying businesses that performed 10x better than their peers.

The secret?

The magical key?

“It was actually discipline, fanatic discipline, that was one of the true master keys of the companies’ success.”

Oh, gracious. How boring.

But, as I reflect on my own life and what I consider to be my biggest accomplishments so far, I have to agree. My career as a runner in college is something I consider one of my best accomplishments. I graduated with eight records from my (albeit small) college, a posture of confidence in myself that I never previously dreamed of, and a host of wonderful memories of even more wonderful friends that I will never, ever forget.


I’m the one on the bottom row, in the middle, with the smile so big it’s about to crack my face in half.

And why did I reap these rewards?

Every day at four o’clock,  I walked over to the gym.
That’s it.

Those early days, when I hated running and all the weird people I had to be around all day (they actually liked running, so something HAD to be wrong with them!) my motivation was (I’ll admit) completely externally motivated. If I wouldn’t get into a buttload of trouble with my coach for skipping practice, there’s no way I’d be there. If I hadn’t the constant fear of my uber-consistent teammates sitting me down and giving me “the talk” about giving it my all…slacking would have been my default option.

It was only after I started reaping the rewards of my consistency that I grew in my own confidence and ability to motivate myself. When I started winning races. When teammates became friends, and practice actually meant fun – I started to look at the whole 4 o’clock nonsense a lot differently.

That’s what I have to do now.
Minus the team. And the winning. And maybe even the fun.

Which makes it really hard, I’ll admit. I miss having the perfect excuse to stay ridiculously fit. I miss having scores of friends to keep me motivated and encouraged. It’s so…lonely!…trying to do it by myself!


My relay team. We were tight.


The habits I create now will affect the direction and results of the rest of my life.

That’s why my word this year isn’t just discipline, because that isn’t enough anymore.  I need to make use of my resources  and right now those amount to…


I have no choice, really.  Not now that I know what I’d be missing in the long run.