A Wish for the New Year


This New Year’s Eve, Kyle and I sat down at the table with bowls of ice cream and a notebook. Together, we started reminiscing about the year and setting our intentions for 2020. A few minutes in, his brow was furrowed. “What’s wrong?” I asked. He tapped the paper in front of me—already half full of our to-dos for a better life—and said, “This isn’t fun! It just feels like another list of things we have to do.”

At first, I protested. This was exciting! The way to live an intentional life! Goals! Dreams! But as I skimmed the neatly written lines in my notebook, I could see his point. We were already setting a high bar for 2020. It occurred to me that the buzzing in my ears might not be born of eagerness but anxiety. We were already behind.

Resolutions are usually my jam. I’m an enneagram one—a goal-setter, list-maker, and thing-doer. I’m constantly moving. I measure my worth in achievements, accomplishments, and boxes checked off. Honestly? Setting goals makes me feel like I’m in control.

But this year I feel a tightness in my chest. My social media feeds are bombarded by calls to exercise more, clean out my closet, see a therapist, set a reading goal, put down my phone, lean in at work, date my spouse, and play with my kids. These are good and worthy goals, but I’m already overwhelmed.

Maybe I’m coming at it all wrong.

As we enter 2020, I want to hold my hopes and dreams loosely—not in a death grip. I want to be gentler with myself and to slow down. I want to sit in discomfort and give myself grace to make mistakes. I want to remember that I have innate worth, regardless of the things I do or achieve or produce. I want to offer the same to the people I love.

Maybe then, the goals that really matter—serving my King faithfully, loving my people well, and offering my gifts with humility—will fall into place.


This post was originally shared on my Instagram.

The First 15 + Paul Harvey

The grayness of February can almost quash the hope and enthusiasm of a new year, but I’m staying motivated. Proof? Dairy Man and I have been eating a lot of quinoa and Greek yogurt, I’ve been making the bed almost every day, and I am making plans to check things off my 30 Things To Do Before I’m 30 list.

Today I’d like to explain how some of these 30 items found their way onto my not-a-bucket list. Let’s start with the first 15.

1. Send 25 handwritten notes
I might be an odd duck …well, let me rephrase… I know I’m an odd duck, but I am one of those nostalgic wallowers who fondly remembers the days of snail mail and pen pals. There is just something about receiving a handwritten note. It feels more special somehow. Unless you have handwriting like my doctor. Then stick to the computer, caveman.

2. Drink a large glass of water before every meal
This one comes straight out of The Skinny Rules by Bob Harper. You might know Bobbo from a little (or is it large?) TV show called The Biggest Loser. DM and I have embarked on a healthy eating regime in 2013 and one of our rules comes from Bob: always drink a large glass of water before a meal. It keeps you hydrated and keeps you from feeling hungrier than you are. Win/win.

3. Read at least one book every two months.
I wanted to say “read a book every week,” but let’s be real here, people. I don’t want to set myself up for failure. I love to read, but something about my old pre-30 age causes me to fall asleep every time I pick up a book at night. One every two months seems realistic. I’m starting with an interesting look at French parenting.

4. Visit our friends in Salt Lake City
DM’s childhood best friend is a lovable long-haired hippie named Mark. Mark was the best man in our wedding and now lives in Salt Lake City. We don’t get to see him very often, so we want to journey west to soak up some Mark-time, snowboard/ski, and ogle the Mormons.

5. Milk a cow
Oh, the controversy. I still vividly remember the piece of advice from a farm wife at my wedding: “Whatever you do, don’t learn how to milk. Because if you know how, you might have to!” While I don’t want to find myself on the shift list, I do think it’s about time for me to try sticking one of those sucker-thingies on a cow’s udder. But I promise you, I won’t “learn” a thing.

6. Take a girls trip to Vegas
I don’t gamble, but I hear it’s warm there. Even my grandpa said it’s worth going once. And everyone loves a girls trip. Plus, I think I’ll have a much easier time getting the ladies into a Celion Dion show than my dear Dairy Man.

7. Try ten new restaurants in West Michigan
West MI, particularly the Grand Rapids area, is bursting with new restaurants and microbreweries. It is my mission to stray from our usual haunts and try something new! It’s much easier to do in a big city like Chicago, but I’ve got three years.

8. Have at least one official date night a month
DM and I have a terrible time making date nights a priority. The hardest part is that we live at least 45 minutes from “anything to do.” Date nights typically have to be intentional and will almost always involve driving. It’s my goal to have one of these bad boys every month – no sweatpants allowed.

9. Host a dinner party
After over two years of marriage and an empty dining room, we finally bought a large table last fall. This baby can seat eight and gives the dinner-goer a great view of cows frolicking in the pasture. Now that we have a table, it’s time to use it! Who wants to come to my house for sweet potato and black bean burritos?

10. Go on an actual vacation with Dairy Man
As you might recall, my dear husband does not vacation well. It’s almost impossible for a farmer to tear himself away from the dairy for a weekend, much less an entire week. But my psyche needs a break. A break that lasts longer than two days and doesn’t involve 3 a.m. phone calls from the dairy. I want to explore a new place and make some new memories with DM.

11. See a show at Second City in Chicago
When I lived in beautiful Chitown I never made it to Second City. Any place that spawned Tina Fey and Will Ferrel has to be awesome. And I want to go to there.

12. Do something that absolutely terrifies me
I’m not a risk taker, just ask the Dairy Man. Sure, I’ll dance like a fool in the rain and boldly try weird-looking vegetables, but I steer away from anything that truly makes my knees knock. But I’m young, and this is the time of life to take some risks. Some might argue that I take a risk simply by living on a dairy farm (I mean, what if the cows get out and I’m trampled in a stampede!?), but I need to stretch myself before the big 3-0. I’ll almost certainly be better for it.

13. Go to five plays or musicals
As a former thespian, I love going to the theater. In the next three years, I want to see at least five new shows. We have a few local theaters with tempting offerings and I am dying to see The Book of Mormon in Chicago.

14. Run the Fifth Third Riverbank 5K
Already half done with this one: I officially signed up last week! Now I just need to get my butt into gear and actually start, oh, I don’t know … exercising. I ran the Color Run last summer with absolutely zero training or preparation, but my shins would prefer I work up to this 5K a little more gradually this year. Wish me luck on May 11.

15. Spend a day with each sibling doing something they choose, paid for by me
Though my little sister and brother only live 60 minutes from my hamlet in Smalltown, I don’t see them very often. It’s really a shame. Thus, I want to take a day to smother each one of them in embarrassing sister love.

Phew. I’m exhausted already. But there’s something very motivating about setting goals and sharing them with my five friends out here in cyberland.

And one more thing before I go. I would be remiss if I left the awesomeness of Ram’s Super Bowl ad pass us by! Dairy Man is still preening today. This is certainly a bit of an outdated folksy look at the world of farming, but it’s not entirely inaccurate. I’ve never seen DM splint the wing of a meadow lark, but I HAVE seen him “finish his forty hour week by Tuesday noon” before. Oof. Remind me to tell you about the time he worked 120 hours in one week. Till then, enjoy Paul Harvey:

30 Things To Do Before I’m 30

Ah, 2013, a squeaky clean new year. A time for renewed hope, motivation, and healthy eating habits. I’d like to think that our bovine ladies get into the spirit too, making resolutions to increase their milk production, gossip less around the water trough, or really commit to getting pregnant.

I don’t write resolutions, but I do like taking a breath each January to think about my dreams and goals.


I was inspired to write this post by Sarah of Project Soiree and Mackenzie of Design Darling. But while these ladies chose to list 101 goals for 1001 days, I decided to take a slightly different approach. My non-mathematical brain couldn’t wrap around the idea of 1001 days (approximately 2.7424657 years), and 101 was too tall an order for a post that Dairy Man claimed “deviated from important things like manure and artificial insemination.”

Thus I landed on: 30 Things to Do Before I’m 30.

What I like is that Mackenzie and Sarah didn’t write “bucket lists.” Bucket lists overwhelm me. Of course I want to wine taste around Italy, trek to Machu Picchu with my sherpa, write a bestselling novel, speak French fluently, and get a jetpack. Who doesn’t? But these high, lofty goals can take a lifetime to accomplish. You’re talking to a girl who writes tasks on her to-do list after they are already completed, just to have the pleasure of checking them off. In red ink. I might even give myself a high five. I need to see forward progress. Otherwise I’m liable to give up on the whole thing and camp out on my couch with a quart of cookies n’ cream ice cream.

So I created a manageable list of 30. I hope to challenge myself, go outside of my comfort zone, and check items off this list over the next three-ish years.

30 Things to Do Before I’m 30
1-15 details
16-30 details

  1. Send 25 hand written notes
  2. Drink a large glass of water before every meal We do this faithfully. Bob would be so proud.
  3. Read at least one book every two months
  4. Visit our friends in Salt Lake City Accomplished in August 2013
  5. Milk a cow
  6. Take a girls trip to Vegas
  7. Try ten new restaurants in West Michigan (Currently: Perrin Brewing, Hoolihan’s, Brick Road Pizza, )
  8. Have at least one official date night a month
  9. Host a dinner party After reading this book, I really had no choice. My dining room table hosted an excellent dinner party for 10 of my girlfriends
  10. Go on an actual vacation with DM We spent a week in Salt Lake City visiting friends in August 2013 (see #4)
  11. See a show at Second City in Chicago
  12. Do something that absolutely terrifies me
  13. Go to five plays or musicals (Currently: Wicked (for the third time), The Sound of Music, The Nutcracker, Phantom of the Opera)
  14. Run the Fifth Third Riverbank 5K I donned stylish running tights and blazed through this race on May 11, 2013. 29:30 wasn’t a bad time for someone who didn’t train one iota!
  15. Spend a day with each sibling doing something they choose, paid for by me
  16. Say “I’m sorry” more than 50 percent of the time
  17. Talk to my grandparents each week via phone or email
  18. Drink a $50-100 bottle of wine (and see if I can tell the difference)
  19. Complete family photo yearbooks for 2010, 2011, and 2012 I’m all caught up and starting on 2013!
  20. Purchase coffee for a stranger behind me in the Starbucks drive-thru
  21. Create something with my Instagram photos
  22. Upgrade to a DSLR camera
  23. Teach Jersey a new trick He can high-five like it’s his job, but we’re adding other awesome things to his repertoire too
  24. Spend an entire weekend unplugged
  25. Refurbish an old piece of furniture
  26. Make a list of birthdays and addresses and send cards
  27. Pay off our student loans
  28. Find an active outdoor activity DM and I can do together
  29. Have a baby We’re expecting a baby boy in April 2014!
  30. Write a letter to myself to be opened on my 30th birthday

I may flesh out a few of these in the future (like the controversial “Milk a cow” – something another farm wife warned me never to learn), but I’ll simply leave you with the list for now.

So how about you, dear readers? No matter which ages you put in the blanks of “___ things to do before I’m ___,” what’s on your list?