30 by 30 Countdown

My 30th’s birthday is 6 months away – and I’ve done… 7 things. On the bright side, between September 8 and October 8 has been my most productive month – I hit 4 of them!

Galaxy Hill 27 Galaxy Hill 42 Galaxy Hill 41 Galaxy Hill 40 Galaxy Hill 38

4 Goals I finished in the last month:

  1. Finished my Masters Degree – I turned in my last assignment midway through September and Friday October 10th I finalized my paperwork for graduation. Although I won’t officially be graduated till December, or get my diploma until March, or be able to walk until May… (seriously. All that is kind of depressing)…. I am done with the work part!
  2. Attended a Professional Conference – NEHRA conference in Worcester on October 8, and I heard some great speakers, learned some great tools in my field, and yes, came home with a fistful of business cards.
  3. Went on a Weekend Road Trip – A friend recently asked me “Can you ever have as much fun with your friends if you all bring along your kids too?” A weekend long trip to VT with my ConnectShore buddies answered the question with a resounding yes. At one point we foolishly all tried to sit down to an adult type dinner with candles. I lit the candles – with great expectations – and they were quickly extinguished.  But hikes in the woods, apple picking, eating and so.much.laughter. really made the weekend amazing.  Different fun… but still very fun.  (See the above photos!)
  4. Went to a Wine Tasting – I tried a weekly wine tasting with a friend in Salem.  It was less pretentious than I thought, but as Marta pointed out, they do it every week.  I’m not necessarily sure I expanded my knowledge of wine – but I was happy.

3 Goals I’m having the most trouble with right now:

  1. Learning 4 new functions on my camera – I found a meetup group to join… but then the focus started going wonky on my Nikon D3100.   I’ve been seriously procrastinating on getting it looked at because it seems like a hassle.
  2. Running the 66% of the North Shore Trail Series – I thought it would be good to put a percentage on this goal- since SMART goals are well, smart. But then… life happened and I can’t make the percentage goal.   So, I will only run 3 of the races this year. My younger self – my black and white self- would declare this a failure. My wiser, older, more moderate self sees that challenging myself to try and run trail races, something I haven’t done in 10 years, helped to reinvigorate my love of running.
  3. Deciding what to do with this blogI love blogging. I’ve blogged for a long time, even here at this site!  But… I see the world of blogging is so different now than it was 5, 10 years ago…. I just can’t decide if I want to keep it personal, launch a more professional site, or … just keep on keeping on in the way that I do.

2 Goals in progress right now that I’m really excited about:

  1. Becoming a mentor – I volunteered to be a mentor for a freshman undergrad student at Salem State, and although the first student I was paired with dropped out of the program, I’m still optimistic about being part of a way to give back to an educational institution where I had a positive experience and share some of my hard won career and life skills.
  2. Getting a job – After going to the conference and new connections, I’m more excited than ever to continue reaching out to others, researching positions, and (hopefully soon) getting some interviews.

1 Thing I’m keeping in mind

Sure I’ve only done 7 things… but like my friend Emily said over at Relishments a week or so ago about her 101 in 1001 days list”many of these items were too specific for who I was when I wrote it and as things changed in my life, the list didn’t.”

Plans and priorities shift, roles change, and sometimes a list just shows a past self you aren’t sure you still want to be. 

Some of these things won’t get done… but I’m still excited to see how many I can do.

Here’s to the next 6 months!

All Growing Up 30by30

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Summer Reading Roundup, Fall Reading Ideas

An apple tree definitely signals back to school - which equals more reading... right? Except no school for me!

An apple tree definitely signals back to school – which equals more reading… right? Except – no school for me! I’m done my MS degree!

Remember when I said I was going to read maybe half of that summer reading list? I read about a third.

But holy cow the ones I read were amazing!

(Except for Babbit. That wasn’t that great.)

I highly recommend Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.  I’m planning on giving it as a gift for Christmas for some special people.  Who knew psychology and economics had so much in common… not me – but now I do. This book is almost dauntingly big, but you can read it 10 page chapter by 10 page chapter as a nightly devotional.

I’ve been reading Metamorpha with my husband, and it’s allowed for some really great conversations about how Christianity is a journey, not a destination, or a past gate we walked through when we were “saved” so many years ago.  I’m loving Kyle Strobel’s overarching framework of a trifecta of worldview informers who help Christians through life: the Bible, good community, and the Holy Spirit.

I re-read the entirety of Lev Grossman’s trilogy – including the final book The Magician’s Land which kicked ass by tying up all the loose ends and being satisfyingly well written. Yep, I recommend all three – and my awesome Librarian friend Anna reviewed the book here.

I just finished Aubrey Daniel’s classic Bringing out the Best in People, which is the popular version of his textbook Performance Management, which I mistakenly thought I wanted to read. I didn’t really feel like reading a textbook. Really. Daniel’s is a huge proponent of positive reinforcement, with reinforcement being used in the psychological sense.  The book makes a lot of sense for both managers, teachers, and parents to read.  It wasn’t exactly scintillating – but I gleaned some important lessons.

The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen was powerful, but oh so sad.  I read it on the plane to and from my brother-in-laws wedding – which helped to not make it as sad as it could have been.  Otherwise it’s the type of book that will depress you for weeks.  The basic premise is that unless violence is alleviated in third world countries with serious justice systems and police accountability there will be no relief from poverty no matter how much money is thrown at the problem.  The stories are really heartbreaking.

Off-the-list reading this summer I really enjoyed included:

  • The Sparrow and sequel Children of God by Mary Doria Russell.  Super thought provoking fiction grappling with the concept of theodicy.
  • Drive by Daniel Pink.  Looks at the idea of motivation and what motivates us.  This is written in the spirit of most pop nonfiction books (think “Blink”).  The book was fascinating with it’s distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation – but what was more fascinating was reading the online venom between Aubrey Daniels and Daniel Pink. Ha.

As always, my “To Read” list on Goodreads is enormous and I’ll never finish it.

But… I’ll try and read these books this fall (significant summer overlap since I reallllllly did want to read the first 4), and hopefully a few others off of it.

  • Big Data at Work – Davenport.
  • Reasons and Rationalizations – Agyris.
  • Cradle to Cradle – McDonaugh.
  • Disunity in Christ – C. Cleveland.
  • The Meaning of Sex: Christian Ethics in a Moral Life – D. Hollinger
  • Kristin Lavransdotter Trilogy – S. Undset.
  • Good Work – H. Gardner.

Once in Lifetime Plans and New Chapters in Life

once in a lifetime

On Saturday I facilitated an orientation at my church for new leaders filling new positions in our new governance structure.  Watching people share their hearts, passion, and vision for these new roles, clarifying expectations, and being able to have a small part of this day was the culmination of an epic summer for me.

Each week this summer I felt stretched to my limit as I helped coordinate elements of this church transition and nominating process, alternately navigated my disappointment and elation about certain parts of my internship, and felt the full weight of being done graduate school.

However, in order to lead this orientation, which I desperately wanted to do, I turned down the opportunity to run one of the North Shore Trail Series races – despite my New Years Resolution and my 30 by 30 desire to do these things.

(Also – speaking of foiled plans – for the second time the Stand Up Paddleboarding appointment I’d made with friends was cancelled due to inclement weather – I may have to scratch that one from the lists.  Or blog about how i’m going to manage things that I’ve missed the window of opportunity on).

This choice between two things I really want to do is representative of one of my Secrets of Adulthood I think.

There are no once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

For me, this paradox, something both true and not true at the same time, comes up over and over.

As a teenager and young adult I felt bombarded by this phrase, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities were being thrust at me from all sides – to study abroad, choose a college, date, take summer jobs, travel.  Everything seemed like it gleamed with the possibility to change my life, and if I didn’t make the right choice I was going to miss out.  Trusted and not-so-reliable sources all had opinions on what the right choices were, too.

With a little bit of time on my side I’m beginning to see that there aren’t really any once-in-a-lifetime opportunities – even though, technically – everything is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

If you stand back a moment you realize – the event can be repeated. A five month trip to New Zealand.  Getting a college degree. Acting in a play.  Taking part in a flash mob. So you missed this one – don’t worry – there will be another chance with the right amount of money, time, or friends.

Taken as a total experience however, with each of the particular and terribly personal details in place – everything is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I won’t get to travel “by myself” again – even if I choose to go alone on a trip, simply because “myself” doesn’t exist the same way it did in 2006 – without a husband, child, masters degree, and deep rooted involvement in a local church. Even if I take the same trip, follow the same route, and go by myself – it won’t be the same – it will be something new.  It will be a different once-in-a-lifetime experience.

As much as I hate the cliche “live every day as if it were your last” when I consider the sentiment behind it – that each day is a very particular occurrence, that won’t happen again – I am inclined not to gag quite so much.

Although – if every day really were my last – I’d eat donuts for breakfast daily.

Here I sit – with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of job hunting for a new position in a new field.  I have a certain amount of trepidation and desire to run straight back into the arms of all or any of my old jobs (yes, even outdoor education).  I’m choosing to call this a learning opportunity, and to take it as a chance to continue to be stretched to my limits, because it’s bound to make me uncomfortable.

Yet, at the same time, this isn’t the first time I’ve job hunted, and based on my readings and research on the topic of career development – it’s completely likely and predicable that I will not only change jobs, but careers several other times in my life.  I will invent new ways to tell my story that make it seem as though these moments of self-doubt and transition were simply logical next steps that I navigated with ease.

So… once in a lifetime… or not.

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5 Lessons Learned this Summer

Salem MA Harbor Derby Salem Lighthouse

1. The two most questions to learn to ask as a critical thinker and kick-ass adult are: What is the context. What are the possible consequences. Every time I get myself into trouble it’s pretty much because I forget to ask these questions. Yeah, I got myself into a little bit of trouble this summer, but it wasn’t terrible enough to blog about it.

Mahi Mahi Cruise Marblehead Lighthouse Salem Harbor Sunset

2. I am a morning-not-a-morning person. Every person who has ever lived with me can vouch that I’m a grumpy gus from the moment I roll out of bed until at least an hour later, or when I get my first cup of coffee – whichever happens first. I don’t like small talk, whiny kids, or anything that stands in my way. 

Which is why I was so surprised to take the Employee Engagement Accelerator Index at my work and have a lightbulb realization that when it comes to WORK, I am most definitely a morning person.  I get the most items on the check list checked off, am able to write decent prose, and function credibly and skillfully at meetings. On the other hand, if you get me at 3pm, all of these abilities have strongly declined.  So. I guess I am a morning person. Kind of.

Boston Harbor

3. I am still excited by Industrial Organizational Psychology – the study of behavior and motivation in the workplace.  As I’m finishing up my MS degree I’m not required to take any more classes, but surprise, I am motivated to learn more about this topic.  Unlike the end of my undergraduate career, where I wanted to run as far away as I could from all things academic, I’m still reading and learning the way theory and practice blend together. This summer I have been reading Aubrey Daniels “Bringing out the Best in People,” Donald Brown’s “Experiential Approach to Organization Development”, and plenty of great HBR articles and blog posts.

Cosco Shipping Freight Georges Island Boston

4. If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, be a servant to all.  And service can only be Christian if you take the same attitude as Christ, in humility through prayer.  So many times I have forgotten basic lessons in Christianity, and it’s nice to be reminded of them through a very intense summer. It required more prayer than usual, and service outside of my comfort zone as well as finally, squarely, inside of it.  Although I haven’t always been sure of my spiritual gifts this summer I was able to exercise some of them in a very good way.

Georges Island Boston Ma Georges Island Boston Ma

5. Ginger Beer is where it’s at.  A few years ago I vowed to drink more liquor, which didn’t really happen.  In the last 3 weeks I’ve been working oh-so-hard to learn to make better drinks as part of my #30by30. Part of this, has just been understanding more about the basic components of drink making.  The other part has involved drinking plenty of Moscow Mules and Dark and Stormys.

How about you? Any lessons learned this summer?

Pictures from my Salem Harbor Mahi Mahi cruise and trip to Georges Island in the Boston Harbor last week – Another 30by30 crossed off the list.

Be sure so follow along with my #30by30 progress on facebook – I update a lot more there than here.


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30 by 30 Update

I am 127 days into my 30 before 30 List.  Of those 30, I’ve done one item, and I’m in the middle of 8.

I’ve also decided to face reality that (as usual) I live in the ‘unreality’ known as the land of “bite off more than you can chew.”  To be honest, it’s actually kind of nice living here, when you look back and see all that you were able to accomplish by just believing you should be getting more done. More on the pressures of overachieving another day. Ha.

As written 3 of my goals are totally impossible, and honestly, 2 are ultimately out of my control.  I’ll have to edit this list if I want to be serious about it. Do I?

Why am I doing a 30 before 30 list?

I’m doing this project because…

- it’s what bloggers do! In my mind that’s a legitimate reason.  Even though over the last two years I’ve stopped blogging more than two to four times a month, some part of me still identifies with the title “blogger.”  I’ve come to realize most bloggers identify as list-writers more strongly than the general public. Bloggers make lists and do them.

- to stretch myself. I put a lot of my hopes and dreams on that list.  Getting a job is somewhat out of my control – but the individual components of it, like writing cover letters, networking, practicing interviewing, and actually applying to jobs aren’t.

- to affirm that experiences matter.  Experiences and knowledge are more important than things.  That’s why my list is heavy with items I want to do with friends, or that cause me to recollect fondly on the things that I’ve done in the past.

So, yes. I’m still working on this list – even though I had to edit some of the items to make them a reality.

Also I’m updating my progress on the facebook page for this blog more often than I do here.

30by30 updates


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The Key to a Great Summer

It’s July.

How did that happen?

I’m a planner and a doer by nature – and between those two, I slightly emphasize planning more than doing. It’s very easy for me to forget there are three components of every experience – anticipating, participating, and remembering.

So often, rather than remembering – or savoring – the experiences that I’ve had, I’m off planning the next experience.


Reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” in May and June, however, taught me something new.

The Remembering Self is in Control

What does that mean?

Daniel Kahneman tells the story of two groups of subjects who were invited to participate in a research experiment involving submerging their hands in a bowl of ice water for several minutes. (I know, makes you really want to be a research participant… right?) The first group of people experienced the frigid waters for a few minutes. The second group experienced the frigid waters for the same few minutes, but a key difference was the experimenter had the subjects keep their hands in the water an extra 30 seconds or so, but warm water was added to the bowl, which lessened their discomfort. After rating their experience, participants were more likely to choose to repeat the second, but longer, experience because it ended on high note!

There are several conclusions psychologist draw from this and other research.  They note that there are two “selves.”  One self experiences events – the frigid hands in the water.  Another self remembers that event – but through the lens of completion with a higher priority placed on the end of the event.  That warm water suddenly meant the experience wasn’t that bad… right?

The remembering brain shapes our memories, lives, decisions, and what experiences we will choose to repeat in the future.

How can I use this knowledge?

As I was contemplating my whirlwind June I realized – I want to have a GREAT SUMMER!  I don’t want to look back in August and ask “Where did it go?!”

I’ve decided to Spend More Time Savoring this Summer.

I used a framework I learned earlier this year – More Less Same – in order to focus and prioritize activities so that I could actively savor the summer experiences I love so much, like church softball, camping, and just being outdoors.  I needed to decide what I needed to do more of, and what I needed to do less of, and what I could keep the same.


Have you made a list like this before?

Using a calendar and flipping through my journal, I noted frustrations and triumphs and then listed several things to do more of – so that I could build in more time to Savor.

I want to do MORE…

Pictures – Especially, taking, posting on facebook, and getting into physical photo album form. Although there is always a danger that taking a lot of photos will destroy your memory of an event (citation) – looking at photographs of good times actually increases your happiness and confidence (citation). I’m only so-so about remembering to take pictures – but I want to be better.

Writing – I keep putting writing on the back burner in favor of reading or friend time – but I’d like to move toward more writing, whether it’s journaling, blogging, or even tweeting.

I want to do LESS…

Reading. I’m reading some great stuff right now (especially enjoying co-reading Kyle Strobel’s “Metamorpha” with my husband, and discovering AS King – recommended by LCarsLibrarian. ) But rather than trying to read a book a week, I’m just reading a few chapters at a time.

Exercise.  I’m still trying to run the North Shore Trail Series (Saturday the 12th, 6 miler!) But I’m focusing on maintaining my fitness levels, rather than increase them.

I want to do the SAME…

Praying – As I recently read and found amusing – praying for 30 minutes or more a day actively changes the way your brain works. This is probably about how long I pray every day – so I’d like to keep that the same. I also find prayer to be an excellent way to remember and savor experiences, as well as consider how to reorient your life to reflect your priorities and focal concerns.

Friendship Building – I love how many fun events we’ve been doing with friends lately – from church softball, to family volleyball, up to last weekend time spent camping.  I definitely want to keep going out a couple times a week in a socializing low-key fashion, but finding time to rest after each of these activities is key as well.

camping walk

So what about “Summer To-Do’s?”

Like other friends, I love making Summer To-Do lists, and have in the past… but I’m not going to this year.  There are a lot of items from my “30 by 30 list” that fall I want to check off – and that fall into the “More” and “Less” category.   I’m hoping to finish a wedding photo album before my 4th anniversary, as well as write some Thank You cards to big influences in my life.

Finally, I want to look ahead to August and plan a peak experience for sometime at the end of the summer – something that I can both anticipate – as well as savor as extra enjoyable.

How about you? What are you doing More, Less, and the Same of this Summer?

As always comment here, or on my facebook page.


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