Tag Archives: goals

Why You’ll Never See a Lumberjack Wearing a Fitbit

I’ve been so active today that I’m already feeling sore. I’m sore at my Fitbit for jerking me around.

This morning, I spent over an hour down by the river working on my brush and ivy clearing project. Squatting, pulling out ivy by the roots, tugging it out of trees, hauling limbs to the river and chucking them in. The weather was so nice and it felt so good to be moving around that I decided that it was time to get rid of the two dead trees that have fallen over but are stuck on the bank.

So Carlos and I adventured out to Lowes and walked all over the place looking before I chose just the right axe. While the kids played inside the fence and Huck patrolled the bank for deer scents, G and I took turns whacking away at the dead beech tree. Those first chips flew into the air and the THWACK of my mighty axe blows echoed up and down the river. LOOK HOW FIT I AM!!!

It was easy going for the first few inches of tree because that part had been rotting for a while. Then we hit the center–that shit was HARD. Now I understand why they use beech to make railroad ties. (Yes, I looked that up.) G went back in the house for a saw. I was picturing a handsaw but he came back down the hill with a little reciprocating saw. Best used for cutting out keyholes and finger sandwiches. I fought not to roll my eyes. (I sure do sound like my parents’ daughter at this point, mocking my city-born man for his choice of blade.)

Big Stump, Calavaras Grove, California - Watkins, photographer Identifier: 104 Collection: Frank B. Rodolph Photograph Collection Album 2 : BANC PIC 1905.17147-PIC Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.

Big Stump, Calavaras Grove, California
The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.

But damn if we didn’t–with a combination of me on the axe, G on the nail file, a 4×4 used as a wedge under the chopped part and some ill-advised hopping up and down while perched on the part that tilted out over the river–get that tree snapped in two and tumbled into the water for the fish to nibble!

G cut down a couple of little scraggly cedars and some privet before the reciprocating saw said, “Take me Jesus, I’m done.” He went back to the house while I continued my fight with the English ivy. Seriously, I used to think that stuff was lovely, but now that it has taken over my river bank, I am looking into whether our neighborhood covenants will allow a goat.

After two hours of lumberjacking and full contact gardening, I came back in the house and synched my dongle. (You Fitbitters will know what I’m talking about –the rest of you will think perverse thoughts.)

Guess what? As I sat there with my back muscles aching and my thighs screaming, Fitbit was like, “Yeeeeeeaaaaaah, girl, that’s good for you and all, but I’m about THE STEPS. Sorry.” It blinked two little piddly-ass lights at me (4000 steps). Oh, but my dashboard DID give me a pat on the head for TWO VERY ACTIVE MINUTES. I’m guessing, since we’re going based on steps, that those were the two minutes it took me to walk down the hill with my tools and then drag my tired butt back up the hill after hours of effort.

I’m not giving up. After the kids were in bed tonight, I walked myself up to the movie theater and my Fitbit went CRAZY. It was all, “Now you’re STEPPING!”

There’s a Zen proverb that comes to mind:

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.


Finding our goal isn’t something separate from everyday life. It’s the tasks of every day that help us get there. Enlightenment doesn’t happen on just the right yoga retreat and fitness doesn’t happen because my wrist tells me so.

Even when we reach the goal, we still have to take care of the daily tasks that keep us living. I can’t walk to the movie (YAY!) then eat a tub of popcorn (BOO!). The path is never something outside your life. It is your life.

Work’s not valuable because the Fitbit can measure it. Work is valuable because now I can sit on a clear spot and appreciate the miracle of having a river in my back yard.


What’s #1 On Your List?

go do them


You should.

And you CAN!

What’s the number one thing on your bucket list?  Mine used to be “Be someone’s mother.”  Check!  “Go skydiving.”  Check.  “Sail the Greek Islands.”  Kinda Check (it wasn’t a sail boat!).  Right now, my number one adventure dream is to see the Northern Lights, preferably from one of those glass igloos in Finland.

I’ve learned four essential principles for crafting a bucket list over the last 13 years.  Click on this sweet kitten in a bucket to go over to my post at Work It, Mom! and get to the bottom of the bucket!

bucket kitty

Goals, Outcomes, and Daffodils

daffodils in snow

As I left my office yesterday afternoon to walk to the car, my heart was equal parts heavy and joyful.  Heavy for a friend whose life is in a tangle right now.  She’s sad and confused and overwhelmed.  I remember those sunless days in my own past and ache for her.  I know she’ll figure it out and find herself on the other side of this, but right now she has no place to rest.  The path ahead seems so long and dark and she’s having a hard time believing that she will find her way.

The other part of my heart was joyful, because yesterday I reached a goal I had set for myself a few months back.  February 4th marks the one year anniversary of Baddest Mother Ever.  I wanted to reach 100,000 page views on the site in that first year.  That happened yesterday!  Thank you so much for reading and sharing and building this community.  I feel great joy that I have stuck with this and it is growing.

These are the thoughts that were on my mind when I looked down into the snow and saw green shoots of daffodils peeking up into the frigid air.  Those shoots took me right back to a time in my life when I had no idea what my future would look like.  My birthday is in late October, right around the time you plant spring bulbs so that they can sleep through the winter and surprise you in the spring.  I got a big bag of daffodil bulbs from my mom for a birthday present about a month after Fartbuster came home with lipstick on his collar that first time.  I hadn’t told anyone about our situation because I was ashamed of my husband’s behavior.  One bright Sunday afternoon, I took my bag of bulbs and a trowel out to the backyard and started planting them around the pine trees and along the fence.  On my own and with time to think, my thoughts gravitated back to our marriage, my trust in him, and whether we would ever get back on track and feel normal again.  With each bulb that I tucked into the earth, I wondered, “Will I still be living here to see these come up in the spring?  Will I be married?  Will we make it?”

I tried to bury my fear and sadness with the bulbs.  I committed to a goal–I would be in that house in the spring to watch these flowers bloom.

Well, I reached my goal–I was in that house in the spring when the daffodils bloomed, but Fartbuster wasn’t there.  My marriage was gone.  That’s the difference between a goal and an outcome.  A goal is a milestone along the path.  An outcome is the result of all those goals…with a measure of dumb luck thrown in.  So yes, I reached my goal of seeing the daffodils bloom, but the outcome wasn’t what I had imagined.  Simply achieving the goal didn’t predict the outcome.

We don’t always get to control the outcome.  We control the goals.  I planted the daffodils at just the right depth and I added bone meal.  I tucked them into the warming red dirt and I covered them with a layer of pine straw.  But that’s as far as I could influence the outcome.  Floods or freezes or insects could have taken it from there and the outcome would have been out of my hands.  Same thing with my marriage to Fartbuster.  My goals, like going to counseling and working on my own self, were reached.  Instead of saving my marriage, I saved my self.

So if you’re walking briskly through the cold wind, with your chin tucked to your chest, look around for that little shoot of green.  That daffodil has something to tell you.

Finishing Strong

WinnerI’m writing over at Work It, Mom! today.  My featured post is about ending the calendar year on a strong note at the office.  Here’s an excerpt:

The school year creates its own rhythm for our children–each month lines up from August to May in a clear pattern.  Their effort begins in the fall, builds throughout the winter, then concludes at the end of the spring.  They get summer off to rest, rejuvenate and prepare for the next round.

But when do working moms get our chance to mark a clear finish to one year and the start of the next?  I suggest now, in December!  The end of the calendar year is a powerful time for us to finish strong and start fresh in our work life.  While we’re setting resolutions for the new year, why not do the same for our work year?  Finish this year STRONG and start the next with clarity and energy!

And now you’re rolling your eyes at me (I can hear it!).  December is the crazy month of school programs, teacher gifts, holiday parties at work, family celebrations, sending cards, late night baking, online shopping, decorating the house, kids out of school, travel, entertaining, and that blasted Elf On the Shelf–how are we supposed to get all that done AND focus on work?  Read the rest of the article…

So if you’re looking for ways to finish strong with 2013, head on over to read my story.  It has some good stuff in it about assessing this year so you can plan for the next!  


I Have Loved the Stars

“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

– Sarah Williams, “The Old Astronomer to His Pupil”


This moment happened on my deck tonight.  I’m grateful I got to witness it.  I was sitting still with a glass of wine and dinner in the oven. The first word that slipped into my mind was “gloaming.”  That’s the tiny sliver of time between sunset and night.

Star light, star bright,
first star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might
I wish to have this wish tonight.

I’ve got this wish that I’ve been working on for a year.  In February, this blog will be one year old.  It feels like something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I’m finally doing it.  Now I want to set some goals and own them.

Goal #1:  1000 Facebook followers

Terribly close on this one.  788 at last count.

Goal #2:  100,000 page views in a year

Striking distance on this one.  Last count was around 76,000.

So, I’m owning it.  Expressing my dreams has always felt like a risk, as if dreams must be pounced upon instead of worked on diligently.  But I can either focus on the stars or dwell on the darkness.

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

I’m nervous about this goal.  It’s time to make a plan.  When I think about the dream, I see the star in this picture–the thing that keeps me looking up.  When I think about actually getting there, I think about the river that’s in the picture, invisible in the dusk.  It’s the thing that changes the landscape through persistence, not sheer power.