This space has gathered a fair amount of dust over the last few months. It would be easy to say that life is busy and I simply can’t find the time to write and share. Truth is, Happy by Design’s mantra hasn’t aligned with my life stage since midway through my second pregnancy. My son Louie just turned one so, yeah, that’s a lot of dust-gathering.

During intense seasons of motherhood, I essentially – and unintentionally – lean back, shut down and outsource. For me, it’s not the time to pursue passions or try something new. I attempted to get into weaving small wall hangings during pregnancy, in order to give my eyes a break from one of the multiple screens. Patience was thin, the DIY loom had issues and work always won.

Our family had to shift to make space for our son, Louie, and I unknowingly took a break maximizing, foraging ahead and trying anything new. Rather, I looked inward and focused on the essentials to keep the family afloat.

So, now what? It’s been a few months since the fog has lifted and, dare I say, it feels like there’s a regular cadence to our life.

My first pregnancy led me to create a personal blog where I tracked my daughter’s progress and confirmed that parenting cliches are indeed true. It was a space for me to share the “firsts” with family and friends and process my thoughts through writing.

Happy by Design was created because we had an itch we wanted to scratch, to explore other things that fill our hearts in addition to parenthood – our careers and health. But here’s the thing, those three topics: motherhood, career and health – they are not on the same playing field. Although training for a race, by nature, requires discipline, mental toughness and running shoes; motherhood is MOTHERHOOD and requires all of you. It’s an art, not science – and art gets messy. 

Today, Happy by Design means living an intentional life that includes big plans and mini-milestones: house projects, travel, community with a few personal and professional goals (vague enough?). What I’m getting at is this site will go on with thoughts on motherhood, wellness and DIY home improvements attempts.

Are you wondering, “What about Jamie?” We are fierce friends and our writing pursuits led us in different directions. Her space is about her thoughts and pursuits in writing, reading, career and life. I highly recommend checking it out and subscribing to her updates. I’m not just saying this because she’s one of my closest friends but her point of view is always spot-on, interesting and hilarious.

I’m thrilled to restart this little engine and refuel it regularly. However, if I need to hit the pause button and this space ends up in the repair shop, once again; thanks for understanding because, life!

Butt-Kicking Accountability


I’ve know for a while that I do really well when I share my goals out loud so that I can keep myself more accountable. But to be honest, most of the time those are long-term goals where I allow myself a reasonable amount of room for error. I told you how I trained for Ragnar (and that I’m planning to run this again). I told you about the first draft of a book I wanted to write. But I didn’t tell you about the days of training I skipped each week or how sometimes I didn’t hit my word goals for the day. But in the end, the goal was still accomplished.  And even though I’m happy about that, there is always a small part of me that thinks “What if I had followed the course/plan exactly? How much better would this be?”

Well, now I’m putting that to the test. Let me explain.

At work, we like to have these little competitions. Sometimes I partake, sometimes I don’t. But when this particular challenge landed in my inbox, I knew I was all in.

It’s a healthy challenge where in everyone comes up with their own weekly challenge and then you report in at the end of the week to say whether or not you met your weekly goal.

Your goal can be anything that allows you to work on your health. Some people had a goal of eating healthier, or a weekly weight goal, or increasing their steps throughout the day or working out more often. You’re not required to share your goal, but if it helps you be more accountable, you certainly can.

My goal is 30-45 minutes of exercise/5 days a week. It can be running, yoga or strength training. As I’m also running a 7k on March 21  (The Lucky Leprechaun 7k), my other goal is to get up to four miles of continuous running and my super hard goal is to do that at a 10-min-mile pace. That last one may be too ambitious for someone who has rarely worked out over the last couple months, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

So now we’re finishing up week 2. And this form of weekly accountability is truly a kick in the butt. I just finished up day 4 with a yoga session, this morning. Tomorrow, I’m going to the Petit center to run four miles on their track (okay I hope to run four miles…but it may be a slow run).

But this was an especially hard week to keep myself accountable. Jackson was home sick on Monday and Tuesday and Jake was gone on business for four days. So Monday and Tuesday I did nothing. That meant I would have 5 continuous workouts ahead of me. Wednesday and Thursday, I was rearing to go. Friday? I slept in and knew I would have to do my workout after work…which is not my favorite time to workout, anymore. But I did it! I packed my workout bag before I went to work and managed to leave a little early so I could get in a 30-minute run before I picked up Jackson from daycare. Any other time? I would have just said “It’s okay if I missed today, it’s just one day.” But yesterday was a true make or break day for my weekly goal.

Oh, did I mention there are star stickers for each week? Well, there are. Was I going to work out only four days instead of five and miss out on the star? Um, no, that’s ridiculous.

Did you know that I find star stickers to be incredibly incentivizing? Especially where it’s visible by others? Well, I guess it is. So maybe I’m the ridiculous one (as if we didn’t already know that).

So for the second week in a row, I’m on track to get the coveted weekly star. And it’s like I can just feel the triumph awaiting me each week when I finish up that day 5 workout. Woooo!!!! Done!!  GIVE ME THAT STAR!!

The success of this method, so far, makes me realize how I need to be much more “micro-accountable” with my goals.

Now as I stare at the first draft of my book of which I’m scared of how to proceed, I’m trying to think of how to employ that method to this particular challenge. To recap, the overall book goal is to have something out the door before November. But what are my daily/weekly goals in making that happen? And how do I find the proper incentive when I have a hard time even sharing what my book is about with others?

These are the things I’m wrestling with today. But I’m glad that I’m getting back to my healthier goals, and that work is not consuming my entire life like it was for the last couple months.

Do you have any butt-kicking accountability tips to share? Where have you had success? Or even, what hasn’t worked for you?

Stay warm!

2015: The Year of “Because, Why Not?”


I stated in my last post that I was not about setting goals for the new year just for the sake of setting goals for the new year. But in the back of my mind, there’s a small part of me that knows I want this year to be just a little bit different, hopefully a little better than the last. In 2014, I got a taste for embracing the fear. In 2015, I’m going to push that. I’m calling it the year of, “Because, Why Not?” (screw your grammar rules, it works!)

Maybe it’s because I’m in my thirties and I’ve started to care less and less about the opinions others have of me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been able to keep a child alive for over 2.5 years (with the help of an amazing partner, I might add) and that in itself is a COMPLETE success for me. Maybe it’s because I’m rejiggering the idea of who I am and what I’m capable of. Whatever it is, I’m glad it found it’s way to me. And I plan to embrace that sense of pushing past the fear to try new things.

Just today I stumbled across a piece of advice for aspiring writers from one of my favorite authors, Margaret Atwood:

“”I think the main thing is: Just do it. Plunge in! Being Canadian, I go swimming in icy cold lakes, and there is always that dithering moment. ‘Am I really going to do this? Won’t it hurt?’ And at some point you just have to flop in there and scream. Once you’re in, keep going. You may have to crumple and toss, but we all do that. Courage! I think that is what’s most required.’

So I’m going to be flopping. I might be screaming. But by golly I’m going to give 2015 my all…because, why not? How about you? What will you be doing with the new year?

Monday Motivation: You Got This

Anne Murray - Christmas

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. No seriously, I have maybe five minutes for this post.

First off – Lindsay and I are starting a new series on here called, “Motivation Mondays.” We all need a little extra help on Mondays and because Lindsay and I so obviously have our act together (please note the heavy sarcasm), we thought we’d help get you started on a great week.

Today’s motivational pep talk? You got this! No seriously, you got this because you don’t have a choice.

The shining example

Like a good blogger, I spent a good chunk of my Sunday night crafting a meticulously well-worded blog post that delivers the right mix of motivation and “hey, it’s okay, let’s hug it out.” Oh wait. Did I do that? Nope. I spent my Sunday night working on something for my actual job while watching Toy Story with the family and explaining who Buzz and Woody are. Not my ideal situation to be working on a Sunday night, but sometimes it happens. So now it’s Monday morning and I’m writing this post right now. But you know what? I got this! Because it’s Monday. And on Monday’s we deliver motivational speeches and we kick butt and we do what we said we were going to do.  You got this!

Time is of the essence

Nothing speaks motivation to me like a good ol’ deadline. Do you have continuous deadlines to meet? I put deadlines on everything, not just as it relates to my job. I put deadlines on how long it should take me to read a book so that I can move on to the next book. I put a deadline on how long it should take to write a first draft. I put deadlines on how long I’ll give myself to figure out an answer to a problem before going to someone else for help. And today, I’ve got quite a few deadlines to meet. So I’m going to work my hardest to hit them. And the good news is, even if you miss a deadline once in a while, you’re still closer to the goal than you were before you started, so don’t get too down on yourself. You got this!

You can only juggle so much

You have to, have to, HAVE TO, put something down in order to keep going. Like you, I want to be super woman and super mom and super lady-who-looks-polished-with-her-coffee-and-perfect-lipstick-while-dropping-her-kid-off-at-daycare, but I can’t do it all at once. So I have to learn to put some things down for a while. This weekend, I chose to work on a project with a tight deadline and deal with a cranky toddler. I could have also tried to get those Christmas cards out and gotten up early to work out instead of sleeping in, or dust the living room like I keep telling myself I will or read those books I got from the library, but there just wasn’t room for all of that. The project, the cranky toddler and then laying low with my in-laws while we decorated cookies was all I could manage for this weekend. And I’m fine with it. Because today is a new day. There’s still time to do all of those things, just not all at once. You got this!!

Alright, that’s my dose of Monday motivation. I’m off to fill my coffee cup, put my headphones on and crank out some projects while listening to Anne Murray and Harry Connick Jr. sing Christmas tunes. What’s on your agenda for today?

Happy Monday, everyone!


The sucky things that happen when you chase your dreams

He makes it look so easy.

He makes it look so easy.

I think it’s time to lay some things to rest. Mainly, when you take the time to work on your goals or your dreams, there are things that are going to suck along the way.

Was that too honest? Bear with me.

As you may know, I’m all about pumping up myself and others with a good motivational quote. I’ll continue to do this, but I just need to get a few things off my chest. Here, I’m going to take you down some of the sucky things I’ve experienced when I’ve actually taken the time to work on my goals.

First, there’s resistance.

This comes in the form of distractions, not feeling sure of yourself, writer’s block, walking the last quarter of a mile when you wish you could run, negativity towards your mission, not trusting your gut, etc. Resistance is what keeps you from finishing or keeps you from moving forward on something really important. Most of the rest of this list could be summed up under the header of “resistance” but I think it’s still worth while to call those other ones out.

Resentment towards “others”

I don’t mean  resentment towards your friends or family, because if you have resentment towards them, you should work that out. That’s not healthy. No, I’m talking about the resentment you feel towards the  real or perceived “others” who are doing the things you are trying to do, but seem to be doing them faster, more efficiently, and with more success. It’s hard to step back and put it all in perspective, but everyone has their own path. Just because you see something bright and shiny on the surface doesn’t mean they haven’t struggled for just as long as you have.

A feeling like you’re doing everything wrong

I used to feel this way with running and then I just accepted that I could go the same distance as others…it just might take me a bit longer. Now, I always feel this way with creative writing. Every single day I lay down some words and I feel like it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written. This post? It might be the worst post I’ve ever written. Hands down. And yet, every day I have to put something down on paper. I have to think about what I’m going to post next on Happy by Design and be okay with hitting the publish button. Yet, it hasn’t gotten any easier.

A weird competitiveness against others that they may not realize (which in turn makes you feel silly)

As much as you resent those “others,” there’s still a sense that you have to compete with them. Oh, you wrote 2,000 words today? I’m going to write 2,500! It’s not a competition. Seriously. It’s not. And then you feel like an even bigger idiot when the resistance kicks in and you only wrote 500 and it was way too much explanation about a piece of cheese (seriously, haven’t we all been there?). I don’t get competitive with running (see the “heart attack” explanation below), but I do get a sense of pride when I’ve had a good couple of weeks with running, strength training and eating like a normal human being (As opposed to a grizzly bear preparing for hibernation).

A slight (or significant) drop in personal appearances

You’re focused. You’re putting in the work. You’re taking the time to chase your dreams. After a couple weeks you notice that you now have stress acne, your hair has seen MUCH better days (seriously, get on that, Jamie!), and the jiggly bits are starting to come back with quite a vengeance (how long has it been since I stepped foot in a gym?). It just happens. And I don’t have the hours in a day to do all the things I want to do all the time.

A feeling like you might have a heart attack

The. Worst. Thing. EVER. I talk about this sensation in my recap of running Ragnar (Lindsay and I were part of a twelve person team running from Madison to Chicago over 24 hours). That was the last time it was in super full force. Now it arrives in the form of little anxiety attacks when I’m under a lot of pressure. None of it is good. Make sure your ticker checks out as this could be a serious health issue for you. Lord knows the amount of cheese I eat is not helping my ticker, but I’m going to roll the dice on cheese in this scenario.

Life doesn’t pause for you. Time is never on your side.

It’s your goal, not theirs. Their life continues. Your job is still waiting for you. So are those bills. Sometimes I get really angry when it seems like those “others” have found an extra eight hours to do stuff that I simply don’t have time to accomplish. The 2,000 words you wrote at Starbucks at 10am…after your morning Pilates class? I don’t get the logistics. I also think that would be my dream life if I had enough money, but there seem to be way too many people like this. How does it add up? What are you sacrificing in other areas? I wish I knew. For now, I’ll have to put up with 4:30 am wake up calls where I have to choose between writing or working out because once 6am hits, life is resuming at a rapid speed and I won’t have time to do anything else until 8pm that night. And by that time I’m so exhausted I just pass out so that I can make my 4:30am wake up call the next day. More hours in a day. PLEASE. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.


Okay, so I didn’t mean for this to turn into a really long post, but it did. And if you’re wondering how I was able to write this during peak toddler hours while the hubby is off to the Packers/Bears game? Well, I’m letting some pretty crazy stuff go down in my house right now. There are no less than 3 balls flying around my kitchen at any one time. Oh did I mention “terrible parenting” is also on the table? Well that was just assumed, I guess.

Anywho – I should get going so I can join in the craziness that is life, forever and always.

NaNoWriMo update: I’m on track, but half of the reason I wrote this post is because I was having a “woe is me” moment after seeing a LOT of other people flying through their word counts. Hitting the 50,000 word count is all I can focus on and that’s taking a LOT of energy that I currently do not have. Today I hit 15,000 words in nine days. Previously it took me 6 weeks to hit that count. This is hard!


End rant.

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