Category Archives: This Is Not Your Practice Life


I am 31.

I have been writing in this place for 10 years now.  10!  I just felt like mentioning that because (1) that is nearly 1/3 of my life and (2) I did not observe this during The Blog’s Traditional Birthday Month, May.

Here we are.

I don’t feel old, I don’t feel conflicted.

I feel the most relaxed I have felt in probably…three years?  Since Critter was born?  I feel the most content I’ve felt in recent memory as well. We are so settled in our home now and it just feels cozy, you know?

Physically, spiritually, mentally, I feel so good right now. I am working out at least three times a week (but usually more like four or five).  I am sleeping well.  Thanks to my new 5:00 AM wake-up call, I am getting at least 30 minutes of quiet time in the morning five days a week (I still wake-up at 5:00 AM the other two days, but I have to keep everyone moving so that we can all get out the door and to where we need to be).

If I have learned anything in the last few years, it is that it is your decision to do things that serve you or don’t.  There are some things in our lives that we cannot control, and some of those are REALLY big things. But when I realized that I am the adult?  I get to choose how the day goes!  I get to control how I respond to those things!  I get to make choices and deal with the consequences those have in my own and our family’s life!

Mostly nothing changed.  But it finally gave me some words and a framework to make my decisions in.

I have also learned that if you don’t love the life you are living or the body you have  when you are in the best of circumstances, you won’t love them more when things are harder. To that end, it is best to commit to the self-improvement you need to do rather than to waste days/months/years not dealing with it.

All of that said, here is to a great new year ahead.


This Is Not Your Practice Life

Not Your Practice Life

Sorting Out The End Game.

When you find yourself having the same conversation with people like, four times in one week, that means it’s time to have the same conversation with EVERYONE because something is going on.

Repeatedly I have found myself in conversations with friends and family where they are either in the middle of a major life change, or they are on the verge of saying yes to one and are getting ready to take the next step.  How exciting/cathartic/terrifying, right?  As they have talked about what they love about their lives, their hopes, and the dreams they have not yet been able to realize, I have been all Not To Oversimplify This But It Sounds Like You Need A Roadmap Vision Board Because We Need To Plan The End Game Here And I Want You To Get To That Final Thing That You Want.  

Or, to back it up one step further, we need to figure out what the end game even is in order to get there.

This will either be super surprising to you or Totally Not Surprising At All, but I am a big believer in Vision Boards and monthly goal setting.  It helps me to set my intentions for the month.  It helps me to sort out what my priorities are.  It helps me to figure out what my priorities are not.  You know that feeling at the end of the month where you’re like, Seriously where did all of that time go?  It helps me to banish that.

How I would break it down:

Step 1: Figure out your big picture items.  Maybe these are values for the year.  Maybe these are values for your life.  Maybe these are dreams that you have always had, but never thought you could accomplish.  Sort it all out!  Say the big life dreams that sort of terrify you out loud and then write them down!  Keep them on the list.  Cross them off of the list.  Put them back on the list again.  Sift through everything until what really matters is what remains.  Maybe it’s five things.  Maybe it’s 15.  Only you know what is “right” there.

Step 2: Figure out what you need to do each day to accomplish these things and figure out what you need to do each month to accomplish these things.  Some values require a lot of work.  Others might simply require that you show up and pay attention to them versus being a passive actor. Break it all down.

Step 3: Actually live these things.  This might actually be harder than Step 1 where you’re admitting all of the big things you were never sure you could have.  Why?  Because if you’re making space in your life for the things that you actually want/actually matter, it means that you are probably going to have to take some space away from the things that do not matter.  These are bad habits, bad mindsets, bad people, bad places.  All of them are distractions and derailers and detractors from what you really want.  For some people, it can be super-helpful to write these things down as well.  Sometimes you already know what they are, and you just need to deal with them cut them out, end of story.

What does this look like in my life?

Right now my big picture items are:

  • Prioritize (and make time for) my marriage.
  • Work on keeping my body healthy, feeling good, and as something that I can feel proud of.
  • Be financially conservative.
  • Spend time with the people that are important to me.
  • Make space for time with God and prayer in my life.
  • Create a nest we want to live in.

Here is my Vision Board for December.



That’s pretty much how we get things done around here.

The vision board-style arrangement I am showing above is from my inkWELL Press planner.  They’re sold out of full 2016 planners, but they are selling quarterly planners that are launching on December 9, 2015.  Take a look here if you’re interested because I have really loved my Q4 (Fall mini-) planner this year.  Had this set been an option when I was ordering my 2016 planner, I think I would have preferred this.  But it was not, so I didn’t.  Anyway, like pretty much everything else on The Blog, that is NOT a sponsored or affiliate link.  I’m just really a fan of this and think you might like it too.  They also have some free organizational downloads here.

Another resource that might be helpful for you is this list of Recommended Resources from Jess Lively.  I listen to her podcast on the regular and she preaches the gospel of values based living.  When I was starting to write this post, I thought Self: I bet Jess has some tools that would go well with a vision board/re-arrange your life-situation and I was right.

If you are a vision board/goal setter, I would love to hear what tools you use!

This Is Not Your Practice Life.

Not Your Practice Life

There will never be enough pets.

In the three hours preceding Spot’s death, there were a hundred tiny heartbreaks.  But as we sat there, the most selfish one of all was petting him.  Because while we continuously ran our hands down his back, held his paws, scratched his head and captured his tail, I wanted so badly to fit a lifetime of pets in.

I think we all did the best that we could, but in the end it was an insurmountable task.  Even if it had been Spot’s first hour, I know that even over the course of 12 years, it was not enough time.

There is never enough time.

For some things in life, we will be forever hungry.  As we leaned in Eden, far more great and terrible is the burden of knowing instead of not knowing.

Many times over the course of a life, our worlds will be shattered by the people and things we love the most.  To try to escape pain is to run into the labyrinth.  There is no end.  There will never be a point we reach where we say about these beloved people and things, our most prized possessions, that we have had our fill.  There will never be a point where we find ourselves exhausted and empty, grasping at straws, immune from that hurt.

Unconditional love is everlasting.  There is no way out.

There is always going to be a point where we are forced to either walk into pain so bright it nearly blinds, or to declare surrender.  To continue to put one foot in front of the other is how we keep going.

This Is Not Your Practice Life

This Is Not Your Practice Life

Happiness is an inside job.

I don’t usually pay attention to the signs outside of churches, but there is a Lutheran church on my running path Up North At The Cabin.  In June, this statement stood alone as the weekly message.  I was a lot tired and a little bit not in the mood to contemplate Happiness at that particular moment in time, but as the weeks have flown past, the phrase has stuck with me.

I will be the first person to admit that the #100HappyDays hashtag has alternately annoyed and fascinated me.  I’ve found that I love to see the Facebook/Instagram updates from close friends because joy shared is joy doubled.  The updates from everyone else?  Seem narcissistic.  If A Happy Day Passes And No One Takes A Photo Of It, Was It Truly A Happy Day?

I mean all of that is probably part of a larger conversation about Digital Natives and how we were raised.  For some, maybe happiness is an outside job too.

During a commencement address in 2005, Steve Jobs said, If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?

We are all given the same 24 hours.  There are only so many parts of our days that are negotiable.  Absent winning the lottery, we are going to have to work.  Fantastic metabolism notwithstanding, we are going to have to choose to eat something other than birthday cake for every meal.  These are not good or bad things per se.  These are not things that absolutely give or take happiness.  These are just realities.

So what about Right Now?  If you knew that tomorrow you had to hit the pause button and live with exactly what you have, what would you truly need to be happy?

Not want.  Need.

I know I am not the only one who finds myself in conversations with friends that run along the lines of, Once I have X, it will be better.

Which is great.  Really, it is.  Dreams, goals, hopes and wishes are what propel us.  They are the fire beneath us.  They are our fuel.

If I had to hit the pause button tomorrow, there are only two things I would need.  My family.  My friends.

If someday we move into the M Family Dream Home, that will be wonderful.  If I get a Chanel bag, I will not deny it of its joy-bringing capabilities.  If we deign to feast on croissants and fresh jams each morning forever more, who could argue that such a meal would not improve our quality of life?

But really, I just need All Of Those People and enough time to spend with them.  The rest of it is just clutter.  There is no signal to their arrival, nor is there ever a sign of their departure, because these relationships are not an If, then.  These relationships are constant.

There is no one giving you permission to have happiness.  Happiness is not a maybe later.  Happiness is right now.

This Is Not Your Practice Life

Not Your Practice Life

Throw open your doors.

Growing up, our house was full.

Which isn’t to say that it was overcrowded by the four of us (it really wasn’t), but that on the weekends, in the summer, and always there was a constant stream of people.  Sometimes they came for dinner in pairs.  Other times they came in dozens.  For backyard summer parties, New Year’s Day, and birthdays.  Instead of being shooed away, tucked into the basement or escorted upstairs,  Billy and I would join these people at the table, in the living room, around the hors d’ oeuvres.  Listening, observing and laughing.  Learning how to share life.

Q4 2013 and Q1 2014 will be remembered as The Season of Parties.

We threw parties with china.  Parties centered around beer.  Parties to create Hanukkah traditions for ourselves.  Parties to kick back and unwind.  Parties to celebrate birthdays.

We have thrown more parties in recent memory than we have in total since Marcus bought this house in 2009.  Our house is the cleanest that it has ever been and now I am tired.

I want our home to be a sanctuary for us.  A soothing place.  A relaxing place.  A comforting place.  The place where we unwind.

But I also want to fill our home with the people who fill us up.  I want to be able to use our hospitality to create a sanctuary for the important people in our lives.

I used to think that hosting parties was about the perfect theme.  Having great decorations.  Lots of planning.  Lots of anxiety.  Much in the same way I have an attention span of zero for Pinterest, I just do not have the energy for all of that.

At the end of the day, I do not need our friends/family/guests to come into our house and think, Wow, they really have it together.  She put a lot of work into this.  What a clever idea.  What I do need is for these people to come into our house and feel at home in our home.  I need to continue to make space in our life for That.

This Is Not Your Practice Life

Not Your Practice Life

We Are Surrounded By Noise.

I want to say that it was the fall Harvest Party where I found myself in a conversation with my Auntie Kim about introverts and extroverts.  Which family members fell into which camp, where we felt we stood.

At the most basic level, I am an extrovert.  I enjoy talking to strangers.  I am energized when I spend time with the people who I love.  Filling my planner with appointments and dates is cathartic to me.

In December, I got outright trampled by my schedule.  The best-worst part is that I saw it coming even before the first of the month rolled around.  By the middle of the month, I was bargaining with my body, begging it to stave off sickness until Christmas, because I’d have just that much extra time to sleep it off and recover.

I am not the best version of myself when I am exhausted.  I am not the best version of myself when I am stretched thin.

So for the month of January, I’ve committed one day/weekend to myself.  I have completely cleared my own schedule.  So I don’t have to leave the house if I don’t want to.  So the only person I plan to see is my husband.  So I can go on a marathon BRAVO-jag or I can sit down on the couch and read a book.

I know y’all are thinking Duh, Kat.  That is the whole point of weekends.

But if I don’t intentionally set aside that time for rest, it gets committed to other people and other things.

I graduated from college nearly five years ago.  And from that point forward, rest is not something that I ever made a priority.  Rather, I’ve positioned it as an antidote and action of last resort.  Just like the half-gallon of orange juice I down when I feel a massive cold coming on and the active release massage I perform on my calf when I feel the need to ward of tendinitis.

It doesn’t have to be like that.  It’s not supposed to be like that.

I isn’t rest that I need to learn how to be comfortable with.  It’s knowing that not every minute needs to have a purpose.  That the unintentional time is what will make me better and stronger in the intentional minutes.

This Is Not Your Practice Life

Not Your Practice Life

If 25 was breathless, 26 can only be described as Truly Bizarre thus far.

So.  On Wednesday, I hopped on a plane to Atlanta and spent the next hour pouring my heart out on paper to the tune of five pages that are never going to see the light of day.  It was weird and winding and hard and cathartic all at once.  And in that moment, with a glass of wine in hand it felt so very good to be able to work through All Of It.

All of it.

Centered around the idea that This Is Not Your Practice Life.  Which happens to be a sign that a friend saw at Mile 23 of the Chicago Marathon.

When I first heard about this, This Is Not Your Practice Life, I gave it little more than a passing thought.  This is after all, life lived in 140 characters or less.  Bird-fed, bite-sized chunks that are designed for easy, mass consumption.

But daily, I returned to it.  As it transformed from a whisper into a roar.

It probably does not help that I’ve just started reading Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection.

Which is to say that I want to breathe a life into this idea.   I want to spend more time with it than one post will allow.

It is not a weeklong series, it does not involve goal setting or any particular brand of self betterment and enlightenment.  This is not A Journey.  We are not going anywhere.

But it is A Process.  A rhythm.  An unraveling.  It is hard to know where the end of the thread will fall.

And so, without the end in mind, we begin.