Why all the advice in the world is amazing and amazingly stupid.

I have seen many lists circulating the internet lately about the pros and cons of when and how to make important life choices, especially when and if to marry or have kids. While I certainly could create my own list defending the choices I have made, I think it might be better to focus on a list of the reasons why you should and shouldn’t listen to all the advice out there.

You shouldn’t listen to advice, stories, lists, or blogs, because

Everyone creates opinions based on their own “stuff”, experiences, knowledge, ignorance, etc.

When we take advice from someone without knowing what stuff they come with, we are taking advice blindly. I may know some things, like that this person did or didn’t do this or that, and that these are the reasons they cite for that choice. However, there is a lot more that I DON’T know… I don’t know how they were raised, what news they watch, what knowledge they have on the subject, or anything else that combines to create their life experience and their opinion. In that way I really don’t know much about the reasons they are citing.

Every experience of everything by everyone is different

Let’s say we have two people, same gender, same sexual orientation, same race, same age, living in a similar home in the same city, making the same life choice. Those two people can still make different choices, or they can make the same choice, but that choice will look totally different for each of them. Just because someone is or isn’t like someone else doesn’t mean experiences will be similar or not. In that way, listening to some persons list about how they experienced young marriage, or being single until they had an established career, or whatever, doesn’t actually mean that it will translate to you and your experience of that same choice. You are an independent and amazing creature who will experience everything differently than everyone else

Life is a big beautiful complex beast, and we do it an injustice by narrowing it down to short quips and summaries

I love hearing stories and telling my own, but have you ever noticed that at the end of a good one, you always want more? Well, that’s life. We always have more to do, see hear, feel, smell, experience, love… on and on. When we narrow down these big choices and experiences into a simple list or summary, we are choosing to ignore all of the other things going on in our big wonderful lives. Each of these experiences live in a kaleidoscope of life! We can’t ignore anything, yet in order to summarize and make these experiences translatable, we need to. No marriage happens in a vacuum void of anything but those two people, there are families, jobs, friends, and a million other things happening at the same time.

You should listen to advice, stories, lists, or blogs because

Life is simple.
You are born, you live, and you die. That is life. We have countless experiences within that scope, but in reality, the only things that matter are the things that matter to you. By taking these snapshots of someone else’s life, we can find meaning in our own. By listening to the stories of women who waited to have kids until she checked off the boxes on a two page long spreadsheet I can start to decide what being a potential mother means to me. By listening to the small snippets of advice in a list about buying a home in your twenties I can find meaning in my home, financial choices, and plan for my future. We all get to choose what pieces of our lives have meaning, and learning about what means something to others can help us do that.

Every experience of everything by everyone is similar.
While it’s true every experience is different, it is also true that every experience shares similarities to experiences across the globe. We all want to love, be loved, and live. The woman who adamantly believes marriage should only be undertaken by a woman over 30 with a solid career and I both have contemplated the choice to marry, and have weighed our beliefs about it to form an experience. In every person, event, and experience shares something with everything else that has ever happened. You only need to look to find it.

Everyone creates their opinions based on their own “stuff” including YOU.
You bring your own knowledge, memories, experiences, instincts, etc. to everything you do. That means when you read a college girls opinions about the value of this or that, you can use your own self to make some choices about the opinions she expresses. We don’t have to believe, but we can choose to believe, anything we want. You hold all of the power to define each moment and piece of advice for yourself.


Take it all in, listen, read, write, smile, laugh, cry… and then ignore or take on whatever works for you. Respect that others are doing the same. Each choice we make is both simple and complex. Think critically and follow your heart. Whether it means you get married and have babies at 23, buy a home for the first time when you are 45, or switch careers at 67, be the best you that you can be each day.


Love always,


Marriage Equality: The argument we never argue about

I watched this video recently and it got me thinking about some opinions I rarely share.

I think we missed the biggest argument in the marriage equality debate…

Should marriage be a government institution at all?


BUT Since we have already given some people rights and connected those rights to the title “marriage” we can’t take marriage out of the government entirely… I’ll explain this later.

Let me break it down for you.

When “marriage equality” is debated I hear those against it often bring up one main argument…

The “_ _ _ _ _” says that marriage is between (a man and a woman, only two adults, etc. whatever their personal religion/belief system says about marriage).

Let us begin with this argument, which can apply to many different religious beliefs, and for the sake of simplicity examine it through Christianity (BIAS ALERT: this is going to be broad-sweeping and will in no way paint a picture of all Christians).

IF we decide that in our version of Christianity the Bible is our doctrine

AND we decide that we will interpret the Bible so that we believe it says marriage is ONLY allowed between one man and one woman (which is a whole different debate),

AND we say that in our religious institution this interpretation of the Bible is word of God

AND we say to be part of our Church you need to uphold the word of God

AND we say that this means you can only be married in our Church

IF you are one man and one woman.

That is fine.

I have ZERO issue with that. You also have a right as a religious institution to say that people can only be married in your Church if they are baptized, confirmed, Catholic, Protestant, Purple, Striped, live in an underground bunker… whatever. It is YOUR Church. YOU make the rules.

However, you only make the rules in your Church. You do not make the rules outside of your Church. Like, for example, in the government.

On to the second half of my debate… If you’re hating me right now for repeating old arguments, stay with me, I promise I am getting to the “new” part.

Let me preface this by saying I am an “Ally” as they say. I support equal rights for all, including those who have differing sexual preferences than the “norm”.  I voted “NO” in Minnesota, I wear my rainbow wristband proudly, I try to be respectful, I say “spouse” or “partner” instead of assuming male or female significant other… on and on.

However, none of this really matters.

What matters is that a long time ago our government made a grave mistake. AND THIS IS THE ARGUMENT WE NEVER ARGUE ABOUT…

They decided to take a RELIGIOUS institution, marriage, and adopt it into public policy.

Take here a bit from the first amendment “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.”

Basically, we have the right to practice, or not practice, any religion we want to, and the government cannot uphold any one religion over another.

So why did we break our own constitution and make marriage a public policy? There are many theories. I’ll let you research that on your own, as it is quite illuminating. Seriously. Google it.

In any case, we DID adopt “marriage” into public policy, and attached rights to this title. We can’t take away the rights to those who already have them. We CAN however, give rights to those who we have excluded.

NO ONE should be married in the eyes of the state. We should all be allowed to be in “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships” which operate completely outside of any religious affiliation and operate within the state.

So if you want to be married in a Church that only allows people who are left handed to be married… fine. You and your leftie spouse can also apply for a “common law union” under the government so you have the right to be by each others side should the worst happen, claim each other on tax returns, adopt left handed babies, etc. etc. etc.

It doesn’t matter. The Church of Left Handedness does not decide who has rights in the eyes of the state. Neither does Christianity. No Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, etc. should be “married” under law. They should be next of kin.

We should change the title to reflect our bill of rights. We should say that all consenting adults have the right to join with another consenting adult in a civil union, common law union, or domestic partnership, under law and have access to those rights currently given to those with the title of husband and wife.

Should marriage be a government institution at all?

Nope. But choosing your next of kin should be.

Maybe we should call it Family Equality.


I see you in scenes

Often, I see the world in scenes.

Especially when I think of a person I love, I see a scene.

Sometimes it’s a scene from nature:

A coral reef: dazzling fish darting in and out of rainbow coral. A striped eel gliding through mazes, towers, and hiding holes searching for something unknown. Bright red, orange, magenta, fuchsia, teal, and yellow structures all woven together in rich layers- complicated, confusing, and surprisingly fragile. An ever changing and ever growing complexity. An elementary school teacher with a rainbow sarong, paperback novel, and a tropical drink. My mom.

Sometimes it’s an item:

An old-school thick wool sweater. Bill Cosby style. Warm and solid, cozy, safe, secure. A familiar feeling, like an old friend. Soft gentle colors, cream, grey, beige, brown. Then an unexpected stripe of deep maroon, a golden zig-zag, a burst of strange in a sea of calm. A city planner in cowboy boots and a bugs bunny tie standing at a counter reading the newspaper. My dad.

Sometimes it’s a distorted memory of a place:

Wood plank deck hovering over the edge of the lake. Gentle waves lapping a few feet below, the smell of seaweed, flowers, and sunscreen tickling my nose. A wooden table laden with snacks, a drooling dog dropping a dripping ball on a bare foot, towels thrown over chairs and railings. A drink in an insulated tumbler that has glitter and tiny plastic sailboats floating between its two layers of plastic. The clicking of round ice-cubes like frozen bubbles being bounced back and forth as a hand shakes in laughter. A conversationalist with bright red hair and a ring of metallic leaves twisted around a finger. My gram.

Sometimes it’s flashes of lots of little things:

A duvet cover of bright orange and magenta. Contrast and symmetry, bright, daring, strong. Hairspray and lipstick in an orange make-up bag. Neon. Metallic. Animal print with glitter and a softball glove. Loud music in a little white car. Sweatpants three sizes too big and a frozen pizza. Rhinestones, sequins, shimmering eye shadow. Layered. A leopard print blazer with glittering gold heels and a light beer. My Sam.

Sometimes it’s like a dream:

Walking through a quiet forest. Feet hardly making a sound on a bed of soft earth, fallen leaves, and green pine needles. A fern reaching up in a soft curve. A thick tree trunk covered in soft moss and lichen, a patchwork quilt of fungi and flora. A gentle brook bubbling over grey, rust, charcoal, and beige stones that curves between pines. Hands laced together, a gentle squeeze of reassurance. Eyes that mimic the colors of the forest- green, gold, brown, hazel all blended and softly shifting. A pine green plaid coat, its cotton collar brushed by a fuzzy brown beard. My husband.

But how do I see myself? I can’t picture a scene for me. What am I? How do I fit? Am I meant to be the photographer? The narrator? Am I supposed to take notes and observe? Do I sit in the background?

I don’t know. I guess I can’t see myself.

But I see you.

I see you in scenes.


Weekend update: friends, family, and fun

This weekend was ca-razzy.

On Friday the in-laws came to town and I went out to dinner for a friends birthday while T entertained his folks…Image

Look at that good-looking bunch!

On Saturday we rose early to stand in the rain and watch T run the Grand Forks Wild Hog 1/2 Marathon


Soggy Mother-in-law, Father-in-law, and Dakota Bear

T finished his 13.1 miles in 1 hour 46 minutes (not his fastest ever, but also not bad!), and we retreated inside for warm clothes and soup.

Then on Saturday night, we celebrated our friends birthday again, this time with the help of a big old silver friend full of cold bud-light and a garage full of fun friends.


It was more exciting than it looks…


Look at how SHORT she is! 🙂

It was a fun weekend! We also got a lot of home stuff done, cleaning, re arranging some furniture, cooking, home work.. blah blah blah.

More to come about the lessons gleaned from this weekend in a coming post.

Tata for now!


Saying Yes: it’s an issue

I have a disease.

Yes it is true.

It’s one that many of my peers… well actually, most people I know have.

It is called YES-a-citus.
Symptoms include:

1. The inability to say NO to an idea, commitment, or activity


2. An overbooked and impossible to stick to schedule


I have four minutes of free time between the gerbil cancer gala planning meeting and the Graduate students against the unfair treatment of elevators rally! What shall I do with all this freedom!?

3. A planner with so many appointments and meetings that you can’t even read whats in there

Hmmm, that might say Thursday at noon… or it says Thirsty Baboon… hard to say…

4. Extreme dependance on caffeine



5. A lack of a social life outside or clubs, organizations, and volunteer groups


We have matching T-shirts and everything!

6. All of your meals consist of leftover “bribery food” you offer to get unsuspecting victims to attend your meetings


Oh yum! A sausage!

7. Not ever accomplishing anything because you are spread thinner than one WAFER thin mint.


Why yes that was a Monty Python Reference.. and yes, that is a not-so-subtle metaphor for your carefully managed lists, meetings, and events imploding all over life


SO I say to myself? What is the cure!? Do I need a cure? pssh. I love being involved! I like all of my clubs and events and volunteer adventures! It’s fun to be busy!  Hooray for not sleeping!


I’m sorry, is my denial bothering you?

I find myself unable to keep commitments. I get tired, I am worn thin. The work I do accomplish is not to my best ability, because I simply have committed to too much.

Then I get sick.

And it hit me… I’m allowed to say no.


…. uh…. What?

How has no one ever told me this before?

I can just look at that sad, sad little student org leader and say… Nope, not today sweet-cheeks.


Twerk girl. TWERK.


BOOM Muther truckers. Boom.


I mean, no…



Our culture of immunity.

Bad things happen everyday. In every community, to every person, some bad thing happens. Sometimes its small… you get cut off on the interstate, you bang your toe on the coffee table, the dog threw up, etc. Sometimes its a big thing. Someone dies, gets hurt, loses their home. This week an 8th grader in my home town committed suicide. This week thousands of people in Colorado lost everything to floods. This week 12 people died at the hands of one man with a few guns in a DC Naval Yard.


Bad things happen.

They happen everywhere and to everyone.

Yet, we live like we are immune. Like somehow in our comfort zones, nothing bad will happen to us. That somehow OUR roads are safe from drunk drivers, OUR hometown is safe from floods and tornadoes, that OUR elementary schools and workplaces are safe from gunmen, and that OUR nation is safe from evil and corrupt leaders.

We are NOT safe.

I watch the cable new networks all of the time. I flip from station to station in an attempt to get the truth behind all the political bias. I sit and watch, and it makes me sad.

Not just because there is so much sadness on our news, but because of the way the stories are given to us. For example, on Monday I was watching as news was coming in about the DC Naval Yard Shooting and on every station the tone was the same… How could this happen here? On a military installation? In the capitol? In congresses backyard? A civilian workplace? Etc, etc, etc. It is exactly that attitude that makes us so vulnerable. That attitude of “it will never happen here” that makes us easy prey when it does inevitably happen HERE. I’m not saying every community and workplace will be victims of gun violence, but I am saying that every community will be victims of some kind.

And we need to be prepared.

We need to stand up and say we will fight back, we will KNOW the emergency preparedness procedures and we will ACT on them when we need to. The media doesn’t need to tell us how shocking it is when something bad happens in our comfort zone, we all know that. We all know how it feels when something unexpected comes and rocks our world to the core.

The media needs to tell us how the survivors survived, how they were prepared, how they worked together to save each other and make it through the worst. We do not need to know the guy behind the gun. We need to know the victims, and how to not become them.  We need to honor those who suffered by working to stay free from the same fate.

Media, this is to you. Celebrate the survivors, tell us their story. Don’t give the aggressor the trophy, give the victims the recognition. Show their faces a thousand times. Tell their life story. Let us hear how they fought back, how because of their actions a room full of elementary students was spared! How they barricaded themselves in a conference room and survived! Tell us those stories.

Don’t tell me that I should be surprised when something bad happens to me.

Tell me how to survive. Because we are not safe.

We need to shift our culture. Remember the names of the victims, not the names of the gunmen. Remember that people lost everything to the flood, wedding photos, baby blankets, and homes. Remember that you too could be there one day.

Remember, and learn.


A chuckle for a rough week

Things have been stupidly hard this week.


I’m bitter and angry.


But this brought me some well needed joy 🙂



Yes, we got him a costume. No I am not ashamed.


He looked so ridiculous. It was precious .


I mean come on? Look at the butt!!


My heart aches for all of those who were affected in DC and elsewhere. I think I’ll be posting something about my opinions of the media soon. But as of now, I just needed a chuckle.


Thanks Kota for being delightfully weird and patient with me!




A Scandinavian battle cry, “keep fighting my brethren”, skol is a way of life here in the North. It can be a toast, a greeting, or an encouragement. Skol means support and hope. It also represents the most amazing football team to ever not win much or anything, the Minnesota Vikings. http://www.vikings.com/

For T &I  right now it means “finishing-reading-the-chapter-on-tax-law-and-ethical-responsibilities” or possibly “punching-your-boss-will-get-you-fired-keep-your-head-down”.

So we distract ourselves with play, which only exacerbates the problem of not having enough time for all of our responsibilities. Oh well. 🙂

It’s in the Sunday nights with five text books open that you need to remember “this too shall pass” and to softly say…


It’s a reminder to have good self-care practices, and to do things that make you happy.


For T that is “Church”. Church for us is to drive out into the middle of nowhere to our favorite backwoods gun club and go shooting. It’s stress relief: time in nature, loud bangs, time together, it is the essence of Skol.


For me, it is a trip to the library. I could be there for hours. Touching, holding, and flipping through the books. I get to check out books like this one… and curl up with some tea or coffee on the balcony with the Woof.


He likes to stand guard. 🙂



And finally, its a good idea to say Skol as you watch your beloved Vikes let you down once again… TO DETROIT? I can’t even. I can’t.



SKOL. Potentially meaning drinking your post-victory brew out of your opponents skull… graphic, but also bad ass. So, make yourself happy, remember that everything changes and everything comes to an end. When things are tough, look into the face of your opponent (see here Single Case Design Research textbook), and simply say, Skol.


A (&T too)


ps. heres a super funny article from daily norseman about SKOL



Instant Karma

Sometimes in life Karma likes to make you wait. You do something Karma worthy (good or bad) and know at some point you will be made to pay or be paid for whatever you did. Sometimes the wait for the retribution is the hardest part.


On the other hand, sometimes you get your comeuppance instantly.

Like this morning at the Vet, when the nice vet-tech had to give Dakota a vaccine through his nose…


And he peed all over her.

Instant Karma.

 Granted, it wasn’t her fault, and he was probably just scared. But still.

Karma has been on my mind a lot lately.

T and I have been working on being mindful of our Karma. We’ve been trying to put good vibes out, in the hope some will bounce back our way later on when we need them. We’ve helped a friend with a little extra cash, have been opening doors & saying “thank you”…

We helped build new front stairs for a friend


Lots of shoveling cement.

And in return, we have found that doors are being opened for us, people are telling us “thank you”, and most importantly…


WE’VE been happier!

Maybe though, it’s not the Karma bouncing back… so much as our own joy from helping others drawing more joy to us. Like a happiness magnet.

Maybe it’s just being more aware of the small things

Who knows?

A & T


Summer Catch-up.. kind of?

WHEW! It has been a crazy busy summer!

Between moving, starting new jobs, getting a dog, two weddings, and spending lots of time out on the road there hasn’t been time to do much relaxing.

For memorial day we spent a weekend here


The beautiful land of Luverne ND

AKA T’s family’s farmstead.

When I say farm stead I actually mean homestead. They literally homesteaded the land when North Dakota was only the Dakota territory and covered wagons were roaming around. WOW. We spent the weekend with lots of family, and learned all our T’s family history.

I love road trips…  T drives, and I nap.


Or annoy the driver. hehe!

Meanwhile… the fluff (I’ll introduce him later) navigates.


“Hey guys? Need any help? I’m here… you know… just right back here… guys? Guys?”

Next, we spent a long month prepping for and actually moving and I took no picture. Eh, You know the routine, lots of boxes, too much stuff, lots of headaches… etc. etc. etc.


Then we got to bring home our new dog! He is a 2 1/2 year old rescued Sheltie we call Dakota. A total sweetheart who acts more like a feline then a dog.. prompting his nickname



He also answers to Kota, Butthead, Fluff, and Hound.




Sniff, sniff, snifff

We enjoy him.

We also went to two different weddings, both in Perham MN, both Catholic, and within a week of each other.  Very tiring business.


Richter-Lindseth Wedding Party WOOT WOOT!!

I also saw this car, while not exactly related to our summer… it was a beautiful thing.


They see me ‘splore in… they hatinn’

So… our summer was pretty successful.

The peak of the summer? Celebrating our ONE YEAR wedding anniversary!

Pit of the summer? the act of moving. I love our new place and it was well worth the move… but man. Moving STINKS!!

Tata for now!

A Buchin