Oh honey…

I recently had my first experience in having my own intern, which was educational for (I hope) both of us.  This was a young woman who had been interested in volunteering with my organization, but since she was in school, we agreed to call it an internship.  I was thrilled to have help!  Running all marketing and communications for an organization on your own can be a lot some days.  Most days.  So I was excited.

My intern was very quiet but enthusiastic.  As she was planning to be around for a while, I created a curriculum and outcomes that we would be working toward, which would encompass a wide range of communications skills and duties.

About a month into the internship, I asked her to help me with making follow-up calls to businesses and community partners from whom we were seeking donations.  This did not turn out to be her strong suit.  The day after her first attempt (during which I was on hand to help,) I received an email from her stating that making phone calls was not the kind of experience she was looking for. She continued by saying that she plans to go into event/advertising and felt that doing the social media posts was a better use of her time.  We weren’t paying her or anything, so that was fine.  I was happy to let her work on what she wanted.

I had also asked her to outline some of her career goals so that I could make sure the experience she was receiving lined up.  She plans to become a business owner, doing events and advertising for herself and her business.

Another month or two into the internship she decided she didn’t have enough time and resigned.

So that was that saga.  The point of this post however, is this: Oh honey.  It’s cute you think your life is going to go as planned.


My senior year of high school, I knew I was going to be a French teacher.  I went to college for Political Science.  I knew was going to be a lobbyist and live in DC.

Baker 3
Yeah, didn’t use that degree either.

I graduated and went to grad school for Religious Studies.  I knew I was going to be a professor.  So I went and got a Master’s with the intention to get a PhD.  Due to academic burnout and a lack of funding, that didn’t happen either.  Then I got an MBA in Human Resources and knew that was going to be my career.  It’s been three years now and I have zero intention of going into Human Resources.  This may sound a bit haphazard, but it really came down to taking the opportunities that presented themselves.  I love where I ended up, but I didn’t specifically plan or prepare for it.

Dressing up as Professor Trelawney does not help you predict the future

I was able to take the opportunities that came along because I said yes to a variety of experiences and opportunities before that.  My haphazard education allowed me to develop an ease in writing and an ability to speak competently and confidently to a wide variety of people.  My varied job experiences (camp counselor, ice cream scooper, dance teacher, preschool teacher, child care worker, hotel front desk worker, volunteer coordinator, cafeteria worker, bank teller, admin assistant) each taught me something different, and I’m grateful for all of it. Even working as a bank teller for Wells Fargo, which wasn’t stellar, taught me that I truly hate sales.  But it also taught me how to be salesperson, a skill that has come in handy in other (more ethical) ways.

So, dear intern, I would encourage you to reconsider next time you turn down the opportunity for experience, even (especially) one that takes you out of your comfort zone.  Do you imagine you will never need to call a stranger and ask them for something?  I can tell you right now that running events and advertising involve a lot of cold contacts.  Experience is experience.  You never know when you will need it. You’d be surprised what kinds of skills might come in handy.   Life will most likely not go according to your plan, not exactly.  I hope that life goes so much better than you could have ever planned for, and that you have been open to all the things that will prepare you for it, despite never knowing  precisely where you’re heading.


Adventures in Adulting: Money Edition


Not to get all Minnesotan on you, but seriously, oofdah.  Money is rough.  Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that I have a job that pays well enough that I can more or less pay my bills, but trying to stay on top of said bills is slightly exhausting.

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not super great with money.  I’m not totally irresponsible, but I really enjoy shopping.  Amazon and I get along super well.  I tend to buy odd things too.  My recent purchases include a new planner, what is supposed to be the best underwear for travel, the Scots translation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and a large bag of dog food. None of these are huge purchases, but they do tend to add up.  Plus the occasional Target run that somehow always totals at least $50.  And I love going out to restaurants.  Basically, I have a problem with not being stingy with my money, which leads to somewhat startling credit card balances each month.  Never totally insurmountable, but considerably higher than I would like.  Carrying a balance on a credit card is no fun.

Add to that student loans, car loans, and two mortgages.  Super fun.

I have finally begun to take steps to be more responsible and proactive when it comes to my spending and my debt.  I am not someone who will get all gung-ho to be debt free.  That doesn’t seem like any kind of fun to me.  Being debt free would be great, but I want to have a life in the meantime.  Baby-steps.

Here, for your reading pleasure and in no particular order, are the steps I am taking and tools I am using to get a handle on my finances.  Fell free to steal any and all ideas that you feel might work for you.

*Disclaimer: I’m not getting paid for any of the links below, which is a real bummer.  But it means that what follows are things I have actually found useful.

1. 50/20/30 Budget

I learned about this budgeting method at thepennyhoarder.com.  This is a useful website, but they do have a ton of sponsored links, so take their advice with a grain of salt.  The 50/20/30 budget is basically this: 50% of your income goes toward essentials, 20% goes toward financial goals, and 30% goes towards whatever you like.  It’s a great budget for someone like me who really likes having a life.  For me, the 50% includes all the money that goes to my joint account with my husband, which covers our major bills and mortgage payments.  The rest of the 50% includes car payments, minimum student loan payments, credit card minimums, healthcare costs, and gas.  The 20% includes extra student loan payments, extra credit card payments, extra car payments, and savings.  The 30% is for everything else like Netflix, Spotify, shopping, eating out, haircuts, etc.  I’ve been using this budget since November and it is working pretty well!

2. Spreadsheets

This brings me to my next tool.  Spreadsheets.  I use google drive for this, but Excel works too, or whatever Macs use.  Below is what my 50/20/30 Spreadsheet looks like.  I’ve left a lot of the details out because, you know, privacy, but take a gander anyway.

PS – color coding helps.

Budget Categories
Monthly Budget Tracking

3. Mint.com

If tracking all your spending every month in a spreadsheet sounds super time consuming, you’re right.  That is where tool #3 comes in.  Mint.com is a website and app that you can connect to your credit card and bank accounts and have it track your spending for you.  It has lots of nifty charts and graphs too.  You can tell it what your budget is for a variety of categories, and it will alert you if you are getting close to overspending.  Super handy.  Then, at the end of each month, you can use the app to tell you what you have spent in each category, which will cut down on spreadsheet time.

4. Ebates

I find the Ebates TV commercials annoying and a little scam-like.  However, I decided to try the website after hearing a real live acquaintance say that she had had a good experience.  Basically you create an account at Ebates.com and install a tool on your internet browser.  Whenever you go to an Ebates partner site, a little notification will pop up asking if you want to activate cash back.  Once you do, anything you spend on that site will get you a certain percentage of cash back through Ebates.  Then Ebates will send you a check or a paypal deposit each month with however much cash back you have earned.  This is less of a financial tool and more of a nifty money related thing I have found.

5. Dosh

Along similar lines, there is an app called Dosh which you can link to your credit cards to earn cash back on your spending.  Nothing fancy, but it’s earned me $15 I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

6. Capital One Credit Card

I was having a conversation about credit cards this weekend with some girlfriends, so I thought I’d include this here as well.  I’ve had a Capital One Venture card for about 5 years now, and it’s been really solid.  I like travelling, and this card has a “travel eraser.”  You earn 2 points per dollar spent, and can then use those points to redeem travel expenses, including Uber and Lyft.  Their customer service has been pretty stellar in my experience, their website and app are easy to use, and I’ve generally been happy with this card.

7. Ally Bank

In an effort to make the most out of what savings I have, I recently opened up a savings account with Ally Bank.  This is an online only bank and a regular old savings account there has an interest rate of 1.2%.  This is astronomically higher than my old savings account with Wells Fargo.  Yay for making money without actually having to do anything.  Plus their website and app are easy to use.

8. Awesome Husband

I told you this was in no particular order, otherwise this would be much higher on the list.  My husband and I communicate remarkably well about money.  He is supportive of my efforts to improve my spending habits, cheers my successes, worries respectfully when I spend too much, and doesn’t make me feel like a bad person when I am working to get back on track.  He and I have a joint account for most of our bills and home related expenses, as well as some spending money for date nights and miscellaneous expenses.  We also maintain our own checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit cards.  We are responsible for our own car payments and student loans.  The separate accounts also make Christmas and birthday surprises a little easier.  So shout-out to my awesome partner in life!

9. Automatic Transfers

Back to actual money tools.  Once I had my 50/20/30 budget in place, I knew how much I wanted to put towards savings and paying down debt.  I immediately set up automatic transfers from my checking account to my savings and loan accounts so that I couldn’t back out.  I send these payments on a weekly basis.

10. Digit

One last cool app.  Digit is an app for your phone that you connect to your checking account.  It tracks your spending habits and figures out when you have a little money to spare, then automatically transfers it to your digit savings account.  You can transfer it back at any time without any penalties.  You can also set specific savings goals.  For example, I knew I was getting a new tattoo in about six months, so I told digit that I wanted to save $350 by January 15 to cover the cost of my tattoo.  Then I just sat back and watched the savings accumulate.  $1 here, $2.15 there, it began to add up.  By the time January 15 rolled around, I had painlessly saved up more than enough for the tattoo.  It was pretty nifty and I highly recommend it.

I hope some of these things are helpful or at least interesting to you.  Adulting is hard.  I’m a fan of anything that makes it a little more manageable.

Finding My Magic

Last winter, my dear sweet husband started trying to teach me to play the trumpet.  He played in high school and college and it was and still is a big part of his identity.  I had fun learning the basics, he had fun teaching me, and it made for some very nice date nights.  We eventually moved on to other things.

What struck me at the time and what has stayed with me is the way in which my husband relates to music.  When he listens to music, he hears it in a very different way than I do.  It hits him on a different level than it does me.  I enjoy music.  He understands music.  Hearing him talk about and play music is almost like a kind of magic.  It is something beyond my understanding.

My husband the trumpet player

My dad is a brilliant scientist and thinker.  He is creative and curious about the world in a way that defies categorization.  The way my dad sees the world and understands the science behind it, and the math behind that science, is to me a kind of magic.

sauddering at desk
My dad the scientist

My mom has loved photography for most of her life.  She is very modest about it, but she has an ability to see pictures that others would miss.  Her understanding of light and lines, and her ability to capture them, is a kind of magic.

One of my mom’s photos

I didn’t feel that I had any particular magic of my own.  There were things I was good at, but nothing that came so easily to me that it felt like magic.  And that was that.  I didn’t think much more about it for the last year or so.

Then last week, I published my piece about becoming a grown-up and had more than one person ask me how I write like that.  I had no answer for them.  I just write.  Words come easily to me and flow easily from me.  It brings me peace and calms my mind.  I am able to write honestly and without second-guessing.

And it struck me that maybe I do have a magic of my own.  Writing might be my magic. This is not to say that I think I am a brilliant writer or about to change the world with something I write.  But the ease with which I am able to write apparently strikes others as a kind of magic, in the sense that I use the word.

I know music and math and writing and photography are all things that can be learned. Magic involves learning. The magic is in that thing that lights you up. Once you find the thing that lights you up, you need to learn and cultivate it.

Magic isn’t something you just have and that’s that. It takes work and dedication. Not just learning how to do your bit of magic, but dedication to actually doing it. Your magic doesn’t do you or the world any good if you never actually do it. If you love music and love to make music, but stop making it, then you’re neglecting your magic. I love to write. It inspires and sustains me. But only if I actually take the time to write.


In Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic,” she discusses the idea of “permission slips.”  You do not need to wait for someone to give you permission to be creative, to cultivate and enjoy your magic.  You do not have to wait for a life or world changing idea or project to come along.  You have permission already.  You do not need to wait for it.  You do not need to be the greatest or most original.  There is no requirement upon your creativity and magic except that you give it a means of expression.  There is an exchange in a song from “Sunday in the Park with George” by Steven Sondheim that goes,

[GEORGE] I’ve nothing to say

[DOT] You have many things

[GEORGE] Well, nothing that’s not been said

[DOT] Said by you, though. George.

I love that exchange.  Don’t worry so much about being the best or being original.  Worry is not helpful in creativity.  Your magic is yours, and yours alone.  It is good enough and original enough simply because it is yours.  There has never been anything quite like it and never will be again.  Isn’t that amazing?  Figure out what your magic is.  You have one.  It could be dance or fixing cars or running or doing makeup or computer programming or invention or painting or gardening.  If it brings you joy and lights you up, it is your magic.  You do not need to explain or justify it to anyone.  Learn all you can.  Cultivate and practice it.  Give it room to move and be.

For me, the hard part of my magic isn’t the writing, it’s taking the breath and finding the courage to share it with the world. I’ve always written. It’s the sharing that’s new.  I hope that as you discover your magic, you will also discover the courage to share it.  The world could use a little more magic, I think.


7 Things that make me happy (That I think other people should do because maybe then they would be happy too)

I, on occasion, have been known to think that I know what is best for everyone.  What follows is a list of things that I have recommended or wanted to recommend that people do in order to be happy.  I am a generally happy person and tend to want to spread that around, whether others like it or not.


So I am aware of the thousands upon thousands of blogs and websites and magazines and books and podcasts dedicated to the joys of running.  And yet, people still don’t believe me when I say that running fixes everything.  I guess maybe they don’t read/listen to those thousands of running dedicated media.  It’s true though.  I took up running about 6 or 7 years ago, starting out very slow with low mileage.  Since then, I have run two half marathons and one full.  And there has never ever been a time when I regretted a run.  There have been runs that weren’t what I expected or hoped they would be, but I have always felt better afterwards.  My friends and family have seen the (sometimes dramatic) improvement in my mood after a run.  And still, there are those who are all like, “Nah, I think sitting on the couch watching TV will be better for my mental health.”  They are wrong.  Dancing also falls into this category.  Dancing and running have never failed to make my life better.

I am also aware that running is not a possibility for all due to physical constraints. To those of you who are not able to run (not wanting to is not the same thing), I am a firm believer that going outside and moving, or sitting by an open window, is a decent alternative.


Books are amazing.  Not all books.  Some books really had no business being written.  Some books have turned out to be a waste of my time.  But books, in general, are fantastic.  Reading is calming, a safe and healthy means of escape, and can actually make you smarter.  I’ve been an avid reader my whole life.  I highly recommend it.  I have also become an avid listener of audiobooks lately.  Thanks, hour long commute.  The best thing I have found to feed my reading habit has been Overdrive.  This amazing app lets you borrow ebooks and audiobooks from the library and download it right to your phone!  It has saved me piles of money and allowed me to make better use of my commute.  Most recently, it nearly caused me to drive off the road from laughing so hard at “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson.

Spending time with kids

Kids are hilarious.  I don’t have my own, which may be why I think so.  But working with or volunteering with or even just hanging out with kids tends to make you check your problems at the door.  Kids do not care that your check engine light is back on for the third time this month, or that your work deadlines are insane, or that your mother in law is driving you bonkers.  (That last one I made up.  Love you Kathy and Debbie!  Yes, I have two mothers-in-law.  It’s a stepmom situation, not a married to each other scenario.)  Kids demand and require all of your attention in the time that you are with them.  Their joys and concerns are the biggest thing in the world to them, and need to be the biggest thing in the world to you too at that moment.  I have taught pre-school and had to say things like “Stop punching the duck,” “We do not make our friends into horses,” and “Nope, that is definitely not food.”  Little ones are a fun escape if you don’t have any of your own.  I can’t speak to what it’s like to have kids of your own.  I’m now a volunteer coach for Girls on the Run and work with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.  I don’t have to say quite as many ridiculous things, but their joy and learning is still a bright spot in my life.  Spending time with them makes my day better.

Spending time with dogs

Similar to kids, dogs are hilarious.  And I still get to say “Nope, that is definitely not food” pretty frequently.  Plus, snuggles.  So many snuggles.  And they depend on you, so it kind of forces you to get yourself together.  I’m just going to leave this picture of a dog here to prove my point on why they are fantastic.  Feel free to hear the “Jaws” theme song in your head.


Making things is amazing!  You start with stuff that isn’t anything, and you turn it into something!  Gives one a feeling of accomplishment.  And if it’s total crap you can start over or throw it out.  No pressure, just something to do that has no connection to whatever else might be stressing you out.  Arm knitting and cross stitching have been my latest endeavors.


If you have the means, travel the world.  If you don’t, this site has some interesting ideas on how to travel for cheap. (Disclaimer- I am not on board with their hitchhiking recommendation.)  Travelling is incredible.  Seeing things you’d never have seen otherwise, experiencing other cultures, meeting new people – there really isn’t anything else like it.  I believe some of this experience can be found in your hometown.  I love Facebook’s Events feature.  It is so easy to find things going on near you any day of the week.  A lot of it is free, too.  Art, music, dancing, sporting events, comedians, activism, charitable events, it’s all there.  And if you live in the Twin Cities and can’t afford a study abroad program for you or your child, check out City Stay.  This unique non-profit brings study abroad to the local community level by arranging stays in the homes of families from other cultures.


I’m putting these two together because they are similar in my mind.  For the love of God, if you are having trouble, talk to someone!  Here is a list of 81(!) mental health resources that are low or no cost.  Finding a professional to talk to is the best thing you can do if you are struggling.  But it’s important to have an everyday outlet too.  If you have a close friend you can talk to, that’s awesome.  That can be such a help.  I find that writing helps me.  I try to journal most nights before bed.  This gets all my thoughts out and allows my brain to slow down enough to go to sleep.  This does not solve all my issues or get all my crazy out, but it helps me to be calm enough to see the good around me.

I will continue to recommend these and other happiness inducing activities to my friends and family to the point of annoyance.  I’d love to hear what others do to keep calm and find joy in the midst of life’s craziness.  Leave a comment or contact me!