Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Goals for 2011

I think we get tested in our lives from time to time. I'm not sure by who, though I have an idea, but I personally believe ideas pop in our heads for bigger reasons than we know at the moment. I had a recent discussion with a friend who thinks brain waves are behind these thoughts/ideas that find their way to us. I think he explained they come from cells and neuron combustion or something crazy like that (he lost me).

But I think it's more than that.

Without getting crazy religious, I think God knows who we are and who we can become and created us for a purpose. Maybe it doesn't make complete sense because some humans don't even get the chance to live a full life. However, those who've been given the gift of life are granted free will, meaning we get to make most of our own choices (depending on age and circumstance) and can design our own little journey. And I think that's pretty cool.

I've always wondered why I never wanted to become a firefighter or a pilot or a teacher, etc. Instead, I've always wanted to be a writer. And that feeling hasn't gone away, it gets stronger with every passing year. I mean, at one time I wanted to play volleyball in the Olympics, but I knew I wasn't good enough. There is a difference. Maybe this is how Taylor Swift felt when she persuaded her parents to move to Tennessee or Johnny Cash when he sang a song from the heart and scored a record deal. Something moved these people to keep after their dreams, no matter the amount of rejections.

I want to believe something or someone is pushing me to follow my dream(s). With that said, 2011 is right around the corner and that means resolutions! I feel like I need to get some of my goals written down so I'm held accountable throughout the year and can go back and check them off one by one. Here they are in no particular order.

1. Receive representation for my book
2010 was all about writing my first ever manuscript, all 330 pages of it. This was a huge challenge and journey - but once completed, something inside of me grew. I became hungry for more. A deep passion was birthed. If I lived in a perfect world, I'd set up shop in our house and write all day (that's how fun writing my manuscript was), but to pay the bills I need to hold my job and balance the dreaming. In 2011, I plan to query my manuscript off to agencies and intend to touch my book and smell the pages. I want to have book signings and walk into Barnes and Noble and see my book on the shelves. One step at a time.

2. Travel somewhere new
I love seeing all parts of the world, especially with my husband. I enjoy exploring with him and building memories. In 2010 we concluded our amazing trip to South Africa and took a week's vacation along the west coast (Northern California, Oregon and Washington) in August. Who knows where 2011 will take us(fingers crossed it's somewhere warm). I've always wanted to go to Hawaii...

3. Start a family
Just so you all know, this goal scares me to death. I don't want to lose my freedom - I'm still very much selfish, but I do want to see what we can create and what they'll look like and who they'll become. Plus, I'm not getting any younger. I know the chances of having children drops once women hit 35, and that age isn't far away. I'm scared to lose sleep, my body, patience and myself. Most of all, I'm worried our marriage will change. Right now we're able to do whatever we want, whenever we want and we have so much fun!!! I have a feeling that spontaneity will go away. Plus, I have a hard enough time trying to keep up with everything going on and only have to do laundry once a week and cook for two and clean whenever my schedule allows. I'm semi-aware of what having a child means and know it's going to be hard - very hard - so this means I'll work my ass off at making the experience precious. Am I scared. Very. Ready? Not so. Are we ever? Probably not. But I think it'll be awesome, stretch marks and all.

4. Start a recipe portfolio/blog
I love health and fitness and cooking healthy meals. Sometimes I even impress myself with the recipes I piece together. I take a recipe from a magazine or a cookbook, and make it healthier. I love colorful meals with tons of flavor. I think it'd be fun to take snapshots of our faves, write out the ingredients and start a "family" recipe book. Watch for this in 2011.

5. Get an article in a magazine
I subscribe to 10 or 15 magazines. It's a bit of an obsession. I can't remember the exact number anymore. In 2011, I want to open one of them up and see an article written by me.

6. Say "no" more and do things for me
I have a tendency to say 'yes' to others simply because it'll make them feel better. It may make them happier, but it makes me insane. Why do I do that to myself? The older I get, the things that matter are doing those things I genuinely want to. I need to listen to that voice telling me 'no', and form the sounds and actually say it. I've learned people are highly capable of doing things themselves, but find it easier to ask someone else for help rather than learning themselves. I'm guilty of this as well. But I have my own life to live and dreams to chase after. My life would be a lot less complicated if I just said NO more.

7. Get organized
Part of the reason I feel so scatterbrained is because my husband has a chunk of his stuff packed away in his town home. Yes, as's been there for over a year and a half now. That's another nightmare - I wish we could sell, but I try to remind myself we'll be fine and it'll sell when it's supposed to. Not only that, but I'm a pile person. I have piles everywhere: on the carpet, in the corner, on our island. Why? I need to purge it all and that's my plan for 2011. Get rid of stuff and start a filing system!

8. Stop biting my nails
What can I say? I'm an addict. But it's time I let the damn things grow already!

9. Flush out the bad with the good
Karl and I are going to try and metals detox. Karl had to pee in a jug for 24 hours. The results: he had high levels of arsenic and platinum in his body. Ewww! I'm nervous but excited since I do not believe in those liquid detoxes one bit. This one is a 30-day program. No, we won't be starving ourselves, but will be eating really healthy foods (like grass fed meats, filtered water, raw veggies) and taking some cleansing pills that are supposed to pull the metals out. I'm excited to try this. More to come...

What are some of your goals for 2011 and how will you hold yourself accountable?

"I wish you sunshine on your path and storms to season your journey. I wish you peace - in the world in which you live and in the smallest corner of the heart where truth is kept... More I cannot wish you except perhaps love - to make all the rest worthwhile." - Robert Ward

Friday, December 17, 2010

And the Results are...

In my last post I was 'darn-near' close to finishing my manuscript (ms) and sending it off. I did finish (hip hip hooray!) and I want to share the next step.

1. Second Round of Edits Completed!
Yes, you read right. A couple weeks ago I finished the second round of edits on my ms. And yes, I celebrated. Maybe not as I thought (no booze...rats), but internally something grew. First and foremost, I consider that a success. I think when we consistently ignore those "nudges", we die a little inside. But it's too hard. I can't do that. We tell ourselves. Pretty soon negative thinking becomes a habit. Yet, when we do something challenging and scary, and then finish, so much of us grow. And that, my friends, is awesome!

I mean, I wouldn't perceive myself as an editor - I am after all a writer - but there were glaring mistakes that stood out to me and needed to be fixed before I'd let anyone beside my critique group see. And thanks to them, I've received constructive suggestions and was able to fix them chapter by chapter! It's a great feeling knowing I'm satisfied with my entire ms; however, do note that I'm not sure I'll ever be 100 percent satisfied until I get representation. And maybe what I think is complete is just the beginning for an editor/agent/publisher once they get a hold of it...if they get a hold of it. Everyone keeps reminding me this is a long journey. I try to remind myself this.

2. My husband will finish reading my entire ms tonight
Drum roll please. Yes, Karl will finish Wanted: Groom for my $100k Wedding tonight. The reading began last Monday. I'd print copies and bring them home and he'd read three chapters at a time. I'd fix dinner or put away dishes as he read in another room. I'd listen closely for laughter or sounds of "mmmming" and "ahhhing". Nothing. Pure focus is what I got and I appreciate it more than he'll know. Of course there were giggles, mainly when he spotted a ridiculous grammatical error or pointed out my awkward sentences, but for the most part he'd flip to the last chapter, stand up and say, "Dang, I want to read more!" To me, that was a good sign. And thanks to Stephen King and his book "On Writing" he taught me it's okay to have someone, like a lover, read/critique your stuff. King's go-to reader was his wife. No, Karl isn't an English major or a writer/editor, but he reads more books than anyone I've ever met, and he's brilliant and funny and the love of my life. I wanted to include him in on my dream, and journey. After all, he's the reason I finished the book. He believes in me and that's the coolest feeling ever!

3. My manuscript is now in the hands of a a screenwriter.
This sounds like a big deal, but my friend "the screenwriter" is critiquing my ms out of the goodness of his heart and I can't thank him enough. As you roll your eyes, I know, I's not like once he touches it, it'll turn to gold. But I get his input, which feels like gold! Ha! He's in the business and will know if my story is a hit or a total miss, and can at least guide me on the right path if I ventured the wrong way. I hope it's a hit - I think it is - but again, I like vegetables and bright colors, not everyone else does. Luke is the guy who helped me complete a ten page synopsis back in June so I could use it as my guide while I wrote. He said, "If you follow this, you'll be fine. I don't want to see anything until your ms is completed." 

And here it is...December...and I'm done!!!!!!! I'm finally comfortable enough to send it off to him for review. He just completed filming his first movie "The Day" and is going on Christmas break. He has enough time in his insane schedule to review my ms. My ms! God, that feels awesome to say and write.

So, here I sit, nibbling off every last nail. My heart beats through my chest and my stomach churns. What if he tells me my writing needs help? What if he says, "It's a great story, but the writing could be better." What if he snorts and tosses it to the side after chapter one? What if...what if...what if....

I guess this is the story of life, isn't it? Do we ever really know what the outcome is going to be? I can sit here and tell you what I want it to be, but is that enough? No. But at least I tried:)

Stay tuned!

"There is no failure except in no longer trying."
- Elbert Hubbard

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dance like nobody is....writing....

You can probably tell that I'm nearing the end of my ms, since I'm not updating my blog as much and I'm MIA. Sorry about that, but I'm soooo close. Below is the latest!

My Writing/Editing Status
I started with this crazy wedding story idea back in April, during my writing class. Okay, in truth, it started more than five years ago when I was mailed an invite by Wedding Day Diamonds and Glamour Magazine. Why I got the invite, I will never know. Everyone was left scratching their heads at that one, but now I know it's part of something bigger. Anyway, I was invited to bring a couple girlfriends to try on rings and drink wine and champagne at the jewelry store. Cool, right? Ummm, yeah! So I went with my girls, Kimbra and Angela. We tried on some fabulous rocks. A nice guy behind the counter started a ring "wish list" for me.

"Oh, yes, my boyfriend will love this ring," I said, flashing off the rock, knowing very well there was no boyfriend. I was as single as they come.

Then, off to the side, was a drawing: "Win a Ring."

I'll just throw my name on a piece of paper and see what happens. Like I'll win.

I won a beautiful wedding ring. And I didn't have a fiance to show for it. Did I look stupid standing up in front of everyone, hugging people like I was their BFF? I'm sure. But I didn't care.

Was God watching down on me that night...?  Of course he's not about material things, but was the concept all part of a greater plan? I mean, of course I had yet to fall in love before I'd ever think of writing a romance novel...

But...back to the story idea... I remember sending off my idea to a couple of my closest girlfriends. They liked it. My class thought it was clever, and I decided...maybe I'm on to something here. Maybe I was supposed to win that ring a few years back so I could share the experience but also tie in a lot of modern technology and trends.

Since then, the storyline grows and has developed into this really cool manuscript I'm proud of. I'm close - really close - to being done, as in fifty pages and THE END will be staring me in the face (again).  I'm so close, as in, Karl (my husband) gets a full copy to review and maybe my friend Luke (if he's not too busy promoting his movie).

The whole process is a crazy story in itself...I sign up for a fiction writing class because writing a book was and is a dream of mine. I get a wild idea to write about a gal who wants a wedding so bad she puts her name in a drawing and wins a $75k dream wedding...without a boyfriend. She has eight weeks to find Mr. Right or the wedding is no longer an option. Is it possible? You tell me:).

Meanwhile, as I'm learning how to outline an entire ms, and writing a synopsis, drafting chapters, I come across five other hopeful women fiction writers, looking for 'critiquers'. I send my work to them...I get feedback and pages back slaughtered in red...and then I get frustrated. Real frustrated. Maybe I wasn't cut out to be a writer. Boo hiss.

Then Luke says, "Nothing of value comes easy, Christie." OK, so maybe he's right. The ring came easy...but I value writing and relationships so much more!!  They mean something deeper.

I flip open my laptop and read every single critique with an open mind and learn. I develop a website. I start blogging for Star Tribune. More hopeful writers start finding me, asking me questions, offering up advice. A male writer (word to ya, Lyle) starts reviewing my stuff (and is actually okay with it!). I back out of fun plans, sacrifice working out and cooking my infamous healthy dinners (sorry Karl). I put my nose to my laptop and write/edit/revise/whine. I learn. I grow. And I read. Oh, I read: blogs, books, magazines, anything I can get my hands on.

Before I know it, I have a completed ms staring at me. But I'm not jumping around. I'm a little excited, but knowing it's not my best work dims any celebratory dance.

Finishing the ms was just the beginning. I wanted to throw up at the thought of picking apart 340 plus pages word by word, but realized the more time I gave 'nurturing' it, the story grew better...and better...and same with my confidence in writing.

Then one day I sort of "got" it. The light went off, and the joy of writing was back! It's all I want to do, and I take off work from my "real" job to write. Screw relaxing...that's what writing IS for me - a wonderful, exciting place. I couldn't be happier.

Soooo...Sunday it is - the day - where I get to see 'the end' (no pun intended). And will have a piece I'm proud to hand off to Karl to read. It may not be perfect. There will always be changes, but this time I'll soooo be dancing! Watch out world!

Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully
- Phillips Brooks

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Karl and Christie Koester Five-Minute Wedding Recap (christiekarlflashback.mpg)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Balancing Act

Speaking of balancing act, I spent a portion of yesterday updating this blog, and then my two-page post disappeared on me. Grrr. I was ready to throw my computer out the window yesterday. Today is a new day. So let's try this again!

Life is getting busier, but when does it ever slow down? Is this when burnout occurs? If so, I'm in trouble. But who isn't feeling the pressure these days, right?

The latest and greatest in my no particular order:

1. Getting through Second Round of Edits on my Book
Thank God for my chick-lit critique writing group. Without them, I'd still be writing in passive voice, using adverbs freely and forgetting about contractions. I guess I like to use longer words. I cannot tell you why either. Ha! I thought after my first round of edits, I'd be golden and querying my ms off to a handful of agents. Wrong! However, the more I make edits the more I fall in love with the story, so this is a good thing...even thought it's taking forever and there are not enough hours in the day! I'm growing so impatient. Anyone else have this problem?

2. Best Piece of Writing Advice thus Far
I have two.
1. Keeping writing and finish the book.

2. The book needs to move forward. If there is a sentence, paragraph or chapters that stall the story, trash em. 

This is a scary thought for me because currently I have two chapters that might be stalling the story. If my intuition is telling me they are, then I should trash, right? But these are also the chapters I woke up at 4 a.m. to write. Do I really want to let in that I could have slept instead?

3. I have been hired as a freelance writer for
Finally! I get paid to write! Have I mentioned how much I love LinkedIn? I do. A gal called me a month ago through LinkedIn asking if I'd be interested in becoming an editor for Patch in Shakopee. After having a few more conversations, we decided I didn't have enough editorial experience but I was able to write. Shakopee is still searching for an editor so she mentioned writing for Eagan, since I spend most of my life there working. Patch was started by It's an online "patch" of a community's latest news.

My "paid" writing gig began last week. And the two articles were a lot of fun to write. The first is about English speaking students (juniors and seniors) at Eagan High School teaching immigrants (non-English speaking students) the English language. Can you imagine ttransferring from a different country to a new school full of teens and not knowing a lick of English?! This is such a cool program. There are some great teachers out there!

My next article is about Internet Safety. A couple things that shocked me:

1. Most fourth graders have cell phones.

2. Cyberbullying is more common that I thought.

3. Webcams need to be covered up at night, unless you want someone remotely taping you from the outside world. Yes, it's possible and it does happen. So either close your laptop at night or hang a hat over your camera when you go to sleep. SICK! Basically visit this website if you are kind of lost in the technology world. It's a library of information!

Will I be able to write two articles per week and juggle everything else? I'm not sure... Verdict is out. The launch of EaganPatch will be November 11.

4. Metal toxicity
Karl and I attended a seminar at Finish Line Chiropractor in Burnsville on toxicity. Dr. Delrae Messer spoke (and, yes, she's smokin hot). I can't believe the amount of people who take three, five, eight pills a day, hoping they will cure their illness. A lot of these "new age" illnesses are caused by inflammation. I mean, where was fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, restless leg syndrome, ADHD, years ago? Why now?

She explained that a lot of these new age diseases have to do with environmental toxins. Think dishwasher detergent, lotions, corn fed meats, plastics, microwaves and the water we drink. All that stuff is passed down through our mothers into our cells. But I also believe in doctors and that some medications are needed in order to survive. That we can't help. My interest was piqued though. Karl and I are both getting a metals test done to find out what's going on in our bodies. We have to pee in a cup for an entire day.

1. Karl is extremely tired all the time and has passed all his blood work and sleep apnea tests. So what's going on?

2. Me...I'm losing my hair again and I'm always freezing cold. My feet turn white when they get cold enough. I'll keep you posted on the results.

5. I'm getting so excited for Thanksgiving!!!
I love long weekends. And I love long weekends at home with my family...all of them. Yes, Mark and Tot are coming home from South Africa and I can't wait. My dad is even breaking open the Jack Daniel's Single Barrel.

6. Polish Vodka anyone?
My traveling brother Mike went to Poland a few months ago and brought back Polish vodka for us all to try. He even brought some for my grandparents to taste this past weekend. My grandpa fell in love with it, and I learned how well he speaks Polish! No wonder he talks backwards! My mission is to try to find this vodka in the states. Anyone know? It's supposed to be an after dinner drink; something to settle the stomach. The only thing I can find is Krupnik honey vodka, but it doesn't look like the bottle my brother brought home. There was definitely honey in the bottle though!

Until next time...

Your only treasures are those which you carry in your heart.

- Demophilus

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Bro, Mike...The Guy Next Door

Most of you know I have two pretty cool brothers: Mike and Mark. Without them, I think I'd be a different person. Actually, I know I would. Thanks to them I learned to drive a stick (kind of). I developed a thick skin (bless my younger brother for making back-up beeper noises whenever I crossed paths with him in the hallway. Good thing round butts are in these days, right Mark?) Growing up with them, I discovered that men are simple creatures, and us women tend to complicate things by over thinking (at least I do). AND I recognized that I really wanted to marry someone who had both my brothers' characteristics mixed into one, awesome guy. And there was Karl...

ANYWAY.... since I live right next door to my oldest brother, Mike, I had to choose him for Shakopee's GUY'S NEXT DOOR contest. My younger brother Mark is thrilled he is living in South Africa at the moment (whatever). Several men from Shakopee (population 21,000+) were nominated by someone (friends, wives, sisters, etc) to partake in a community calendar. Mike has been selected as a possible candidate, but I now need your help voting him in!  Voting ends October 31.

Maybe I chose Mike because he is my next door neighbor (seems fitting, doesn't it?) and he's about the nicest guy I have ever met. Truthfully, I had to nominate him for this contest because he really IS the guy next door - as in the guy who will do ANYTHING to make people around him happy.

I think there are five facts we all know about Mike:
  1. He smiles more than the average person; perhaps more than anyone you and I have ever met.
  2. The guy is the most selfless person on the planet.
  3. He loves maps and rarely gets lost. If he does, he calls it an adventure.
  4. He loves the smell of bleach 
  5. His life can be summed up in three words: The Amazing Race.
Somewhere down the road, you met Mike (or will) and he probably made you think twice about your own actions. Is it possible to be this nice, giving and happy all the time? How does one do it?

Rumor has it, my parents named Mike after the LIFE cereal commercials back in '77...He Likes It! Hey, Mikey! My mom said his first word was "Ernie" and he used to ask questions she never had answers for, such as, why do I wrinkle in the bathtub and whales don't? Or, why isn't our skin as beautiful as other nationalities? Not quite the questions I asked...

Besides being the most giving person, he has a spirit about him that is contagious, maybe this is why so many people want to be around him, especially me. Hope Karl doesn't mind Mike being our neighbor for many years to come. Mike's involved in anything and everything he can get his hands on: volleyball, marathons, beer brewing, traveling, church ministries, work, gardening, cooking, earning his MBA, etc... What hasn't he done?

You get the picture! I'd love for you to vote for him if you can!  Vote away (see below)!! Thank you!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Amazing World of Social Networking

I used to hate Twitter. I didn't quite get it. Then one day this spring I started to play around with it and before I knew it, I was hooked. I started to like it more than Facebook. Twitter is simple. (And now I love Twitter so much I just had to add it in my manuscript.) Soon, I found a large group of aspiring writers through Twitter. Some had published books, others were in the editing phase and the rest were right in the same place as I was...the beginning stages. But no matter who I asked, most were willing to share whatever knowledge they could to help me along my writing way.

Before I knew it, I received an email from a gal named Gabriela living in Brazil. "I am thinking about starting up a chick-lit critique group, are you interested?" she asked.

"Wow, someone all the way from Brazil? Cool. This Twitter thing is neater than I thought!" I remember saying out loud to myself.

There are currently five women in our critique group. We mainly focus on women's literature but there is a little supernatural and young adult genre thrown in the mix too. We take turns emailing the entire group one to three chapters of our manuscript once a month and we spend a week reviewing each other's manuscripts. And let me tell you...this has been SO helpful! We're Twitter friends and Facebook pals and now follow each other blogs. What would I have done ten years ago? God, I love technology!

Gabriela is a Brazilian journalist and writer. She writes women's fiction and is currently trying to finish her first English-language novel. She's just like me in a way. Gabriela has a full-time job, not necessary where her heart lies, but she has an intense passion to go after her dream of becoming a full-time novelist. We both want to find a job that will allow us to travel and write. Someday, Gabriela!

Gabriela had a wonderful idea to start a Women's Fiction Month in October. She wanted to meet even more women fiction writers and form a bigger network for all of us. I say, "GREAT IDEA!"

Gabriela's blog (which is pink!) is completely devoted to women’s fiction this month. She spends time interviewing writers and asking writers to post their thoughts as they go through all the phases of writing. She even was able to contact Jodi Picoult (yes, the writer of My Sister's Keeper) to answer a few questions for her blog! Sweet!

Below is my blog posting on Gabriela's site! In my post, I shared my latest writing struggles. I finished my manuscript but questioned why wasn't I celebrating... Hope you enjoy!

Keep on writing!

"When we dream together, it is not just a dream. It is the beginning of reality."
- Dom Helder Camara

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Star Tribune Blog - What Do You Think Heaven is Like?

Here is my latest article posted on Star Tribune YourVoices online blog! I guess you can say I have been thinking a lot about heaven...

"God puts each morning, each new chance of life into our hands as a gift to see what we'll do with it."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dexter Has Taken Over My Life

Earlier this summer my husband Karl asked me if I wanted to start watching a new show. We were both sad our favorite show LOST was over for good. No more smoke monsters, Dharma Initiative and confusion for us. Part of me was okay to let go of LOST. After all, this meant I had more free time to write! And I did spend the summer writing, a lot. I finished my manuscript!

But then Karl brought up Dexter again a couple weeks ago. "Just one episode," he insisted, "if we don't like it, we won't ever have to watch it again."

Little did I know I would become partially obsessed. Dexter is in my dreams at night. I can't seem to let the  concept of the show settle in my head on its own. I need answers now. I want to know Dexter. Sometimes I hear his voice throughout the day. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I'd like a show about a serial killer who kills bad people, and has no remorse or emotion. Anyone who knows me, knows I love feelings!!! Dexter is different. I mean, a killer who chops up the bad people in this world is still doing bad, but the show is a twisted kind of good. He's taking out the trash. But I bet God wouldn't like this... I know, I know, the show is fiction, but still it is BRILLIANT.  I think I'm drawn to the characters the most. Each one fits their role perfectly. I can't find one who bothers me.

We finished up season one on Monday night. Our bedtime is early and we stayed up close to midnight just to finish. The ice truck killer had our heads spinning!

If I were you, I'd head to your local video store and pick up Season One of Dexter. And then message me because I want to know if I'm the only one who is this crazy about the show. I'm going to warn you, it's addicting... I hear the books are even better. Oh, dear - I'm in trouble!

Have you seen Dexter? What do you think?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Finished my FIRST Manuscript

I can't believe I haven't posted anything about finishing my manuscript yet. I'm in a bit of a walking coma to say the least. My eyes are completely fried after spending most of the day revising and editing my completed manuscript. There's that word again...completed.

Last Monday, I had finished the goal I set out to accomplish. I ended my manuscript at 297 pages, which seems absolutely nuts in my eyes. I can't believe I had that much to write about, but I did and the book is still growing. After today, I'm at 303 pages and have revised up to chapter eight. The more I revise, the more excited I get about my book. How on earth did I come up with these ideas?

Revising and editing takes a long time - much longer than I ever anticipated. I thought I'd go back and read the first draft of my manuscript and be completely happy. Wrong. There are so many pieces of information I missed. My patience is wearing thin. I'm one of those people who likes for things to happen right away. I want my manuscript off to agents yesterday, but I know it's not ready. I need to LOVE it. I do, but I'm a perfectionist and I know I can make the story better.

There are not enough hours in the day.

I had to pull myself away from my computer this afternoon to go on a hike with Karl. The weather was spectacular and here I was stuck behind my laptop, like I am already five days out of the week at work. I knew I had to get away because my neck was screaming in pain. I don't like sitting still in the first place - I have way too much energy for that and was losing my mind over here.

I will say writing "The End" was one of the coolest feelings, but not ccompletely what I thought it would feel like and I think it's because I know I'm just not there yet. I think once I finish editing, I might shed a tear or two. Actually, I will be going out and celebrating. Right now, I still have holes in my manuscript. I'm scared to fall asleep for fear I will lose my memory or something. What if I forget where I left off?

I tend to welcome interruptions throughout the day.  I'm a doer and a helper and this shows in my current manuscript. One chapter someone had blue eyes and three chapters later they have green. Sigh! My goal now is to make the entire story flow.

This is where having a full-time job becomes a struggle. I have to leave all my thoughts and ideas about my book behind because otherwise they will consume me on a daily basis. I even dream about my book. The weekends are meant for charging ahead and getting as far as I can before the next one comes. During the week, I have too many events going on that I can maybe give an hour or two towards my book. This makes piecing the story together difficult. I'm inspired more on certain days than others and it shows in my writing.

I'm still celebrating though because this is a huge feat - maybe a small step in the writing world but a gigantic one for me. I can't believe I actually did this, and it's that feeling that's pushing me to keep going.

For's time to dream about that book of mine! Good night!

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Celebrating One Year

Enclosed is my latest article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It's sort of a recap of the adventure my husband and I had on our one-year wedding anniversary trip!  Hope you enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm back!

I know you guys missed me! Sorry I have been MIA (missing in action - for those who struggle with acronyms). If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I was on a fabulous one-year anniversary trip with my amazing husband, Karl. I will say I do not feel like I have been married for an entire year - I've had way too much fun! Below is the latest in my world in no particular order!

1. My amazing grandpa
My grandparent's car after their accident
My grandparents were in a horrific car accident almost two Thanksgiving's ago. They were in a head-on collision the night before my grandma was going to meet me for my FIRST EVER bridal gown fitting. I didn't realize how bad it was until I saw some of the pictures. The man who hit them shouldn't have had a license. He had been in and out of jail and seemed to keep getting free passes. This confused me. How can we let someone who had a two-page long record continue to drive? He was behind a semi on a two-lane country road when he pulled out to pass in a no passing zone and hit my grandparents going about 60 miles per hour. My grandpa didn't have any time to react. My grandparents were in the hospital for many weeks. They eventually made it through and even danced at our wedding (which meant the world to me) but the accident took years off their lives. I know they survived because they have always been so active and have this amazing strong faith in God.

Right before Karl and I left on vacation my grandpa was rushed to ICU by helicopter. His brain was leaking blood again - he was experiencing dizzy spells and his leg wasn't moving correctly; his speech was slurred. They drilled another hole in his head and drained the blood. This was his second time getting a hole drilled in his head since the accident. He had to lie in bed for 12 hours without moving. The last time this happened, they took him off his blood thinners and three large clots formed around his heart. One broke off when I was with him last July and he almost had to have his leg amputated. He is off thinners for good now. This is scary. It's one thing after another and I know time is short. This kills me. I love my grandpa so much. He's the coolest guy in the whole world and I'm not ready to say goodbye. But are we ever ready? How do we prepare? I spent an entire night on our trip thinking horrible, sad thoughts and couldn't sleep. Then I started wondering more and more about heaven. What is it like up there? Do you think our loved ones will be up there? If anyone has any answers, please let me know..

2. Trip out to the Northwest
The world's largest Spruce Tree (1000 years old)
What a trip!!!!!! I think I'm going to highlight this trip in my next Star Tribune blog, so you'll have to look for more on our awesome trip there. The world is so huge and full of so many beautiful places. I wish I could spend my life traveling with Karl. I'm trying to figure out how we can visit places all over the world, and I can spend time tweeting and blogging about them (and make some money)! Is that too much to ask for? Talk about dream job!

3. Summer don't go away!
I know summer isn't officially over until September 22 (also my super awesome grandpa's birthday) but I can't help but get depressed! I'm not ready for the cold. I feel like summer has just started! I saw snow in Oregon and Washington and I'm just not prepared. Being cold causes me to get crabby - sunshine and warmth makes me smile! I think I need to start planning that tropical Koester family trip during the cold, winter months. Maybe that will help. According to a post I saw on, Farmer's Almanac says we're supposed to have a normal winter with three major snow storms. Three?? We'll see about that!

4. My book status
I was excited that I spent the entire flight out to San Francisco writing! I am so close to being done with my manuscript (ms) that all I want to do is write, but time isn't allowing that! I would love to bury myself in our house all weekend and finish it, but again...we're on the go! I hope to at least dedicate maybe a half of a day this weekend to writing. I'd like to say a full day, but I don't think that's possible. I'm trying to shoot for smaller goals. I think what I'm most excited about is starting back at chapter one and reading the entire ms. I know I have holes right now because of my schedule and it's hard trying to find time to write several chapters at once. I lose track of where I am at. I'm ready to fill the whole story in and send off my ms to my friend Luke for his opinion! I also joined a chick lit critique group. It'll be nice to hear a variety of opinions from both sexes. Karl also wants to get his hands on my ms. He reads more than anyone I know, so he'll be great at this...I'm just nervous what he might think of me. LOL! I can almost taste how excited I'm going to be when I finish this. I actually feel like this book might go somewhere, but I do tend to live in a fantasy world too... Sigh!

5. Is my schedule normal?
I know everyone says they are busy, so I have to wonder if I even fit in that category? What is "busy" in people's minds?  I mean...I work 40 hours, I have a freelance job where I design newsletters for a small engineering company in New Ulm, I write for KSTP, I write for Star Tribune, I have this blog, I am quite obsessed with Facebook and Twitter and email...I'm writing a book, I play volleyball, I workout, I'm involved in my church, I'm reading three books at once...I cook and clean and try to pay the bills...I try to make happy hours and coordinate fun events. I rarely ever just sit on the couch.  Is this a normal type of schedule? Because sometimes I feel really overwhelmed, but then I hear people go on and on about how busy they are that I just don't know if I compare? I guess I just feel like I need to prepare myself for motherhood because I feel like I'm going to have to learn to juggle a lot. How am I going to do it though? For real... Any advice?

That about concludes my thoughts for the day! More to come on our trip and other goods!

Of all the things granted us by wisdom, none is greater of better than friendship - Pietro Arentino

Karl and Christie in Crater Lake in Oregon

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Star Tribune Blog...Dreams DO come True!!!!!

My latest blog featured in Star Tribune YourVoices about following YOUR dreams!

What are you waiting for? Chase after those dreams!

Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.
- Gail Devers

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Writing is like Running a Marathon

I can't believe I made it to page 202 in my manuscript, Wanted: Groom for my $100k Wedding, this weekend!!! The most I have ever written in my life was a 60-page paper for a class my junior year in college. I procrastinated and gave myself two weeks to write it - my grade reflected how little time I spent on it. I was horrified.

Writing an entire book has always been a goal of mine. I minored in health in college and for one of my classes I had to write five measurable goals for my future. I wrote them out, stuffed them in a box with a noise maker and was to open the box two years later when all my goals were [hopefully] met.

I found my box buried in my closet six years later. I smiled when I picked it up and dusted it off. I anxiously opened it and my heart sunk when I realized not a single goal was met. I couldn't use the noise maker to celebrate. Instead, I was crushed. All those goals and dreams were just that - words on paper that I had imagined would come to life without trying.

Today, with a lot of determination, I am making them come true. My motto: if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. I stand by that because believing in myself has worked for me thus far! (I wish I knew this back in the day!) I can already cross off one of my goals. Next on my list - write a book.

As my neck ached and my fingers cramped yesterday, I kept telling myself, "okay, if I even write a hundred more pages, I will be happy." 

"Just a little further - you can do it, Christie!" I'd cheer.

Even today, when I start thinking how much more of my manuscript I have left to go, my motivation starts to dwindle. It already seems like so much time has gone into this book and I'm only halfway to the end. How much longer? Will I be able to stay on track? Will agents and publishers love it as much as I do? I have a long journey ahead of me. There will be rejections and criticism and lots of red ink - I will have to edit and adjust and re-edit.

Then I started to remember when I first started running. I always hated running in my teens. My least two favorite days of school were the day I had to run the timed mile. The worst day of volleyball was always the first day of preseason in college -we had to run a timed mile. I hated every second of pounding pavement. I would start breathing heavy two minutes in. My mouth was dry. I thought I'd pass out. Then one day I realized how mental running was.

My body was rocking. I was in great shape. I should breeze past the mile runs. What was my problem? A friend of mine forced me to sign up for a 5k after I moved to Minnesota. I was so nervous I thought I would pass out, but for some reason I fell in love with it. Running was fun! I wasn't doing it for the best time or to get more playing time on the volleyball court. I was doing it for myself. Soon I started doing 10ks. I'd see how far I could go without walking. Then came my first half marathon - it was in Chicago. It was a hot summer day and I went out drinking the day before. Not smart. Even before I crossed the start line, my heart was pumping and a pit in my stomach kept telling me...

"You're not going to do this!"
"Christie - do you realize how far 13 miles is???"

My finish time was embarrassing. I ended walking most of the half.

Spectators yelled to me as I walked by, "But, you're athletic! You can do this!"

Physically, I was in the best shape of my life, but mentally I was weak - doubt filled my head the entire time.

"What were you thinking, Christie?" I demanded of myself.
"You can't do this! Why did you think you could do this?"
"It's too hot!" 

I let the excuses win: Yes, it was too hot! I was dehydrated! I was tired! I should have trained more! I should have...I could have...I would have...What if...

Even though I crossed the finish line, I wasn't proud of myself one bit. Deep down I knew I could have done better. I let my negative thoughts win. A year later I decided to try again - maybe because I knew I could do it. I wanted to try another half marathon but in Minnesota. I trained, and mentally prepared myself. I was ready. And I finished in just over two hours. I felt unstoppable. Something came over me while I was running. I couldn't feel pain, I wasn't breathing heavy at all and I was light on my feet. I did it! Yes, doubt started to creep in, but even before I crossed the start line, I set a goal - I would do the run so I would be proud of myself. I knew that feeling and I wanted it. And, yes,  I was so proud. I became hooked. I ran another and another, but I always shied away from a full marathon.

Once I saw mile marker 13, I couldn't imagine running ANOTHER 13 miles to make a full marathon. How would my body function? So instead of running a marathon, I'm writing a book, which feels like a full marathon in a way. I have just completed my half-marathon in the book world - I'm halfway there! To me, another 13 chapters seems insane, but I know I can do it. I will do it. And when I cross that finish line, the moment will be priceless!!

"Encourage each other to build each other up." - 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Christie Koester YourVoices Star Tribune Blogger!

Never a dull moment, is there? What a crazy week it’s been! More below.

1. Visit from the parents
It's Pete! Our family dog! We love him!!!
I swear I have the coolest parents ever. I know, I know. Everyone thinks they have the greatest parents and we all should feel special! We didn’t get to do too much considering our family dog, Pete, is on his last leg and can’t be left alone. Karl thinks he has many years ahead of him and just loves the attention. Pete howls now, for no apparent reason. He sounds like a dying cow. We didn’t want to scare the new neighbors. Instead we took shifts: mom and I got pedicures and the guys watched Pete. The guys went to the horse track and we watched Pete. That dog is so spoiled, but we all love him to pieces and I’m not sure what my mom is going to do when he goes. Someone will have to provide her with grandchildren soon after to keep her spirits up (Mark and Tot...hint, hint). Anyway, we ate in every night, which was HEALTHY and incredibly cheap (my dad won big at the track and bought us steaks at Sam’s Club...a whole $54 win!!). We also went on nightly walks to Dairy Queen and my mom and I went shopping! Fun times were had by all. It’s so hard being five hours away from them. It’s not like I can hop in the car for dinner...

2. I’m a blogger for the Star Tribune
I am so excited about this! Every week I get to blog about happenings, events, thoughts, or whatever my heart desires and I will be featured on Star Tribune’s website!! I noticed the bloggers who get the most responses are the ones who write about politics. Unfortunately, I don’t have a passion for politics; however, I have a feeling I’ll be blogging about President Obama and Congressman John Kline both sending us a wedding congratulations card - HAND SIGNED. If that’s what it takes to get the attention of Minnesota... Anyway, here is a link to my first blog. It’s about customer service. I deal with it everyday, so yes, I think about it often. Let’s just say I’m amazed by people in today’s world.

3. Book Status
With my parents being up, I had very little time to write. Okay, I had none at all. I did write for 20 minutes on Monday after work, during my oil change and before sand volleyball. Have I mentioned how much I love Walser Mazda in Burnsville? I get free popcorn AND car wash...PLUS my oil change was FREE. Now that’s awesome customer service! Oh, back to writing...yes, I will be writing this weekend! My goal is to be on Chapter 18 by Sunday night. I can do it. Next week is going to be crazier than this week. I have volleyball, a happy hour, dentist appointment, a few "big" meetings, the peddle pub for a friend's bday, a wedding and a huge Shakopee Derby Day volleyball tournament on Saturday!! And just in case you forgot what I’m writing about, here’s a link!

4. Excuse me....August is next week?
Honestly, where has the summer gone? I thought last summer was fast planning a wedding, but this one surpasses all of them. Next summer I promise not to fill up every weekend. I promise to do the things Karl and I like and want to do! And I promise to kick back and enjoy the moments more.
5. Our house situation
Where do I even start? Karl and I both have town homes. Back in 2003, it looked like we were both ahead of the game. At age 22, I was a home owner (that’s crazy!), and a couple years later so was he. When we met, we both had places we were proud of. We never expected the market to turn upside down on us. Now, Karl has a renter in his place, but we’re not sure for how long. When do we sell? Will we make any money? It’s a constant nagging thought in the back of my mind. All we can do is hope and pray everything will fall into place. It usually does. But what a pain!

6. My husband
I love you, Karl. Thanks for always making me smile!

My brother Smike eating weird food in China...
7. My brother Mike
I call him Smike because he smiles more than anyone I have ever met. On Saturday, he goes to China for two weeks. He travels more than anyone I know. He will miss his birthday completely...well, kind of. He'll be on an airplane flying through a million time zones. And physically MISS the whole day of August 9! But he does get to eat weird that strange thing he's holding in his hands in the enclosed picture. So I just wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SMIKE! You are a great brother! Oh, and Happy Anniversary Mark and Tot:) You both are awesome too.

8. Inception
I’m dying to see this movie. I already know I’m going to love it. I know I’m going to stay awake at night thinking about it and I know I’m going to want to write about it. So maybe we’ll go this weekend:) Have you seen it? Thoughts?

My friend is one who takes me for who I am. - Henry David Thoreau

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Dreams, Heaven, Annoyances and More

I often wonder how different my life would be if I were bored all the time. I frequently read Facebook postings that read, "I AM BORED". I don’t get it…

1. Interesting Dreams…
The other night I dreamt of twisters, bed bugs and winding stairs. I looked them up in my dream book. Bed bugs are a little odd to be dreaming of (though I did have them in Greece) and I’m hoping the meaning behind them isn’t true. Maybe this all has something to do with the fact I finished 90 Minutes in Heaven and then after I personally emailed the author. I was intrigued and couldn’t sleep. I felt like I needed to have coffee with him; yet, I was still able to dream. But I was so tired when I woke up!

2. What is Heaven Like Anyway?
Back when I was in college, my dad passed out on our driveway. It was a balmy, hot August afternoon and my older brother’s 21st birthday. My dad was washing the cars and his heart stopped working. He experienced heaven for a short minute. He explains it as being peaceful and vibrant – a place he felt at home and didn’t want to leave. He met his grandma who only shrugged when he asked if that moment was his time. Then he woke to my mom slapping his face begging him not to leave her.

To many, this may seem crazy. Maybe it was a dream? Maybe my dad's brain was wigging out? But how do others have similar stories?

I finished 90 Minutes in Heaven this week. Don Piper had a similar incident, but he died for 90 minutes. He met several deceased relatives and friends in heaven. He embraced them. His description is very similar to my dad’s. However, Don was horrifically injured and was in ICU for weeks; my dad had to get a pacemaker…

I hope heaven is really as they both described. I frequently think of life after this…mainly because I can’t imagine being separated from the ones I love dearly or saying goodbye. Will I really see them again? And maybe that’s why love is the greatest emotion/feeling ever. I can’t imagine having a conversation with my grandpa one day while we're in heaven about the BMW I always wanted or how I wish I made more money. That stuff won’t matter because it won't exist...just love. I bet time won’t even matter and when I’m reunited with the deceased, it’ll feel like we were only apart for seconds. In my mind, time on earth is real and this is why it's precious. In heaven, time is endless and this is why love is precious. I hope I'm right. I always wonder if my dog Pete will be up there? Because that would be really cool.

3. Diets are LAME
I’m sorry but if you’re planning on going on a “diet” that consists of denying yourself breads, pastas or any carbohydrates, you will fail. Food is too damn good to pass up to lose a pound. Sure, you will drop weight after a couple weeks, but can you keep it up for 20 plus years?? Why?? Life is too fun and short to pass up delicious foods. Please save your money and do it the right way. I say this because I tried all those “diets”. I can save you a lot of TIME and money. The word diet shouldn’t exist. I like the words "lifestyle change". I’m 5’10” and used to be 179 pounds. Yes, I said it. At my largest, I was 179 pounds. My jeans were so tight I’d email my friends and cry to them, "I feel fat. I’m miserable.” I’d complain about my weight to anyone who would listen.

”But I’m eating so healthy,” I’d say. ”I worked out two hours yesterday and am running a half marathon tomorrow,” I’d whine. And my pants kept getting tighter and tighter. Yes, I was eating healthy; my fridge was stocked with sugar free puddings and fat free creams and skim milk. Problem was, I was NEVER satisfied and was ALWAYS hungry. The more I couldn’t eat the REAL stuff, the more I wanted it. One night, after eating three Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, I baked a chocolate cake with butter and fat and ate the whole thing. Then I ran ten miles the next day.

After a long talk with my mom, I threw away all my fake, processed, chemically induced cuisines; basically anything that wasn’t REAL. Plus it always tasted NASTY and has been linked to cancer, so what was the point? Soon my cereal was filled with delicious 2% milk and a Dairy Queen Blizzard never tasted so good. Something funny started happening. My portions grew smaller. I didn’t need to eat an entire plate full of food. My stomach stopped growling. And my pants started falling off. Vegetables, fish and chicken became staple dinner and lunch options because they tasted so good and fueled my body with nutrients. Too much sugar and I was practically sleeping on my keyboard at work. Being tired wasn’t worth it.

On my wedding day, I was about 140 pounds. Today, I fluctuate between 145 and 150. And I have never been happier.

My motto: yes, you can have your fatty cake and eat it too…just smaller portions

4. A hike in a swamp park
One of the many qualities I love about Karl is his ability to take charge. Sunday afternoon Karl decided we were going to go on a hike, but he wasn’t going to tell me where (yeah! I love surprises). We ended parking at a trail just outside of Shakopee, near the Renaissance Festival. The trails were great, but the mosquitoes were awful (possibly from the swamp). We had to turn around and take the shorter path since it was higher (less bugs). I love going on walks with Karl. I feel like they are mini adventures and we're back on one of our first dates.

5. My book status- chapter 14…or 15…
I’d like to say I have reached chapter 15, which would mean I am MORE than halfway done with my book! I’m technically on chapter 14 but I have inserted and started another chapter between 12 and 13, so doesn’t that mean I’m really on chapter 15?? I know, I know – I’m totally pushing it! I’m sad because I won’t be able to work on my book at all this weekend since my parents are up visiting, but perhaps I’ll have more energy and incentive to get to chapter 20 by the end of next week! Trying to stay optimistic! I love spending time with my family, so that’s my focus!

6. Talkative folks and other minor annoyances
Do you know someone who talks? And I mean…TALKS so much they don’t even breathe? I do. How do you suggest I approach this person and tell them ever so kindly to STOP? I have tried staring at the wall and running away, but neither seems to work. I know all I have to do is communicate to this person, but I’m not sure how I can get a word in or approach this matter professionally? Any advice would be appreciated! I don’t understand how they can get their work done and still manage to talk. I will briefly mention that LISTENING is one of those GREAT skills very few humans can master. To those amazing listeners out there, God bless you! Sometimes that’s all you CAN do.

One other bothersome event… why do cars pull out in front of me when there are no cars behind me and then turn just a few feet away so I have to slow down? Couldn’t they have waited until I passed and then pulled out?

Oh… and merging in Minnesota. It's killing me. People stop when merging and I don’t know why??? Did I miss the stop sign??

Ali and The Bachelorette…I don’t know why, but she still hasn’t grown on me. I have a hard time forgetting mean people. She was mean on The Bachelor. So I have boycotted this season. I can't get into it...

These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Follow the way of love. -1 Corinthians 13:13; 14:1 NIV

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Friday, July 16, 2010

A Case of the Fridays

This week was full of fun little adventures, so of course I must share my thoughts and speak my mind.

1. Our church has selected a new pastor. Karl and I haven't been to church in almost two months - this is a record for me (other than the four years I missed while in college). But Karl and I have been gone or busy with weddings since Memorial Day weekend. I will say it was nice to be back. I love my church friends and I don't know where I'd be without Transfiguration Lutheran Church. Honestly, I feel so blessed for the community of our church. Does anyone else feel like a new person when they walk out of church on Sunday morning? There's an extra lightness in the air and with each step.

I was extremely close to our senior pastor, probably because we worked together for four years after I first moved to Minnesota. When Karl and I met with our pastor (Pastor Vern) last year to go over last minute wedding details, he told us he was leaving. I bawled. I never thought I would do that for a "pastor"!?!?! But I did. Maybe it was the banana pancakes at the The Original Pancake House (Joe Nathan of the Minnesota Twins eats here!) we’d have some mornings to catch up or because he had such an enormous impact on my life. He was by far the best boss I’ve had to date. He taught me more about effective communication than any of my professors in college ever did. I miss him dearly. But I am ready to meet the new guy and I hope he can handle me! Time to move forward!

2. The Oil Spill in the Gulf has been contained
Thank GOD! THANK God. Amen.

3. Planning a vacation with the in-laws
Karl's parents are graciously taking us on a trip this winter. I am excited! Problem is - nobody really knows where we want to go. I could tell you where I want to go: Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, every little island in the Caribbean, etc., etc. So I had a BAD experience in Mexico and feel like I don't ever need to go back. I think that's probably where we'll end up, and that's OK. I know I can be persuaded, but after our honeymoon in St. Lucia, there will always be a special place in my heart for the Caribbean. I just wish travel wasn't so expensive!! Any recommendations? Someone recommended a cool website called Vacation Rentals By Owners. WOW! Now I just want to use this and travel the world! Must finish writing my book so I can reach the best seller list!

4. I can't keep up with my magazine subscriptions
I have a teeeeeeny obsession with magazines. Let's see...I get Us Weekly, People, Health, Women's Health, Self, Shape, Fitness, Glamour, Ladies' Home Journal, Real Simple and Redbook starting very soon. I mean, a year subscription for $5.99 is a steal!! A year ago, I'd plop down on the couch and read the entire magazine the second it hit my mailbox. I promise, one of these days I'll have an article in one of these magazines!!Today, I have stacks lying all over. Now I understand why my mom has this very same problem! It's all starting to make sense...

5. My love affair with Chipotle
I could probably eat Chipotle three times a week without complaining. I love their food. It's healthy and you can mix it up so it tastes like something new every time! What food could I eat for the rest of my life, you ask? Chipotle, pizza and fruit. Lots and lots of fruit. Raspberries, cherries, strawberries and blueberries are in my top four of favorite fruits...there's a tie for fifth: kiwi, watermelon and mangos. God, I love summer!

6. Is there volleyball in heaven?
In the sixth grade my best friend Laura picked up a volleyball. We started passing the ball (it was called "bumping" in the 80s and 90s) back and forth. I was hooked. Laura encouraged me to try out in the seventh grade. We made the team! And I have been playing ever since. That's about 19 years of volleyball under my belt. I'm sure the day I stop playing for good will be a day of great sadness. Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and play with the knowledge I know now. Life is funny like that! I also wish my coaches in college would have let me play a little more. Damn politics!!!

7. South Africa
My younger brother, Mark, and my sister-in-law, Amy, (who we call Tater Tot), are supposed to come back to the states November 11. Our plan was to have a huge welcome home party for them back in Roscoe, Illinois. THEN out of nowhere Mark's work asked them to stay another month! NOOOOOOOOO! WTF! Seriously. Again, life is funny - nothing goes as planned! But just in case Mark’s boss reads this: I AM SAD!!! We want them HOME!!!

8. Wanted: Husband for my $100k Wedding
I'm on chapter 11 and I'm LOVING my book. I know I'm not pumping out chapters at the rate other hopeful writers are, but I'm trying! I will say this book has been so much fun to write. I just hope agents and publishers will see this...

9. Old Spice Commerical
I don't know if you had a chance to watch the Old Spice commercial but it cracks me up and I think it'll make you laugh as well! My husband thinks the man behind "old spice" is Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins. There is an eerie resemblance. I'd Google it if I were you...

10. Mental illness is wide spread
I know my fair share of people who suffer from mental illness, and yet there are so many who are scared to admit this or share their stories. Or they assume it's something else. Maybe it's cancer or migraines or stomach issues? The brain is SO powerful. Do not underestimate it!

Do not be afraid or feel alone - there are others who need YOU! I wish I could understand better what these dear friends of mine are going through, but it's hard to relate. To me, shutting the brain off from thinking or worrying is as simple as flipping a light switch. To them, controlling their thoughts is near impossible. And I don't get that.

I won’t lie - I will spend countless hours wondering what heaven will be like or how I'm going to react to losing someone close to me. Will I see them again? Is this it? Will my dog be there? But I have God to lean on. I have to believe he's out there because of LOVE. Love is so powerful and nothing is greater than that. To me, God is love. And just when I think I can't love anymore, something happens to challenge my thinking. A child is born. A miracle takes place. Love is real and so is God. If you are suffering right now, please know you're not alone and God is right there next to you! I promise! He has to be!

That's all for this week! More to come next week - my parents are coming up! Yeah! Have a wonderful weekend all!

"The most I can do for my friend is simply be a friend." -Henry David Thoreau

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Funday!

It's Friday! And we know what that means... Time to update the world on my crazy thoughts for the week!

1. Basilica Block party
I have never been but Karl and I were determined to go the minute we found out Weezer was going to be there. Karl is in the Weezer Fan Club, and has been since 1997. He's sort of infatuated with Weezer. As I type this, Karl's favorite Weezer t-shirt proudly hangs in his car so everyone can see how big of a fan he is. Weezer was my sixth CD ever (Meatloaf was my first), and I feel like I owe them for bringing rad music into my life.

2. Microsoft Outlook
What is so scary about Microsoft Outlook? I don't know either. If you had the opportunity to use and learn it so you could simplify your work schedule, don't you think you would? I could type a book on this. But I also don't feel like getting fired.

3. Closer to 50
I'm not talking about age here. I'm talking about the 50 states!!! When I first met Karl, we talked a lot about Arkansas. We weren't sure why, other than his dad was there hunting and Karl's calendar was flipped to a picture of beautiful Arkansas. I was surprised how pretty is was. Travel has been a huge part of my life, Karl's too. In 2008 we traveled down to Arkansas and Karl proposed at the Murfreesboro Diamond Mines on the MOST perfect day; that day was the best day of my life. I would be spending the rest of my life with the perfect man [for me]!

This week we bought tickets for another adventure! Karl and I will be flying into San Francisco for a week-long trip. We plan to visit Alcatraz, the Golden Gate and maybe even snap a few pictures by DJ, Stephanie and Michelle Tanners' house (Full House)! We'll head north to Napa Valley and then drive our rented car along the Oregon and Washington coast. We plan to hit up a Twins' game at Seattle too before we fly back. I am so excited. We are celebrating our one year anniversary with another adventure!! After our trip, I will have visited 33 states and Karl will have 35 under his belt. We're getting there! All 50 states is the goal!

4. My book
I'm on chapter eight of my book! Yeah, me!! I have never in my life typed anything over 50 pages. I am now on page 84. I can only imagine how I'm going to feel after I type in the last period on page 333 and click save. I love this book so much. I started going back to chapter one, then two and then three. Not a good idea. Then I started doubting myself. I need to remember: write from the heart first and then edit later. It really helps!

5. Salt and lunch meat
I don't like lunch meat.
A. There are nasty nitrates in the meat.
B. It is extremely salty.
For example, I had Subway this week and two hours later my fingers, legs, ankles and feet were majorly swollen. Then last night we needed to eat the last of the lunch meat from the cabin and I couldn't even get my rings off my finger. Gross. My body obviously is trying to tell me NOT to eat it. If doctors don't want pregnant women eating this stuff, then why do non-pregnant people still eat it? Convenience! I was happy I didn't have to cook, but I'd rather choose my health! No more lunch meat for me! Sorry Karl.

That's about it for this week. Everyone have a nice weekend!

"There's something beautiful about finding one's innermost thoughts in another" - Oliver Schreiner

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Help Find a Cure - Ride for a Reason this Saturday!

Below is an article I wrote for Brooke (Palmer) Distad. I met Brooke my freshman year at Southwest State (SSU) in Marshall. We were family girls with boyfriends back home. We'd sit in class and count down the days until we could go back home. My town of Roscoe was an eight hour drive away and Kasson was around three for Brooke. Though we were at SSU on athletic scholarships, we struggled with our coach. Everyone did. We thought she was evil. After completing our freshman year, we both transferred out to play Division III ball in Wisconsin. We started playing against each other.

Brooke's parents were diagnosed with cancer within two years of each other. Her story is heartbreaking. Life is short and so very precious. We can never take a moment for granted!!!

Brooke devotes her time raising money for the American Cancer Society. To date, she has raised over $120,000 to find a cure!! Join her on her journey!

Help Find a Cure - Ride for a Reason this Saturday, July 10! | Mankato Area News

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Weekly Friday Thoughts

1. Writing a Heartbreaking Article
I’m in the middle of writing an article for my friend Brooke. Brooke and I used to sit in Health and Wellness class freshman year, spending most of our time counting the days until we could go home to see our families. I played volleyball with Brooke for one year at Southwest State (Marshall, Minnesota). Then we played against each other when we both transferred out due to our evil coach. I was at UW-Whitewater and she was at UW-Stout. Brooke lost her mom to breast cancer in 2002. And in 2004, she lost her dad to leukemia. How does one deal or even get out of bed? It’s very hard to write. My heart breaks as I write it. Will it be good enough?

2. My Mazda 6 (“Ma’s dress” - as my grandpa calls it.)
I currently drive a Mazda 6, 2003 model. It has rust forming around the wheel frames. I noticed this during my lunch yesterday. Thus meaning I’m going to have to buy a new car, meaning monthly car payments. Problem is Karl has a 2002 vehicle. Can someone say double payments! Money. Money. Money. I do know my next car will have a compass of some sort, GPS, a door that won’t slam shut on my leg as I reach for my morning coffee AND SIRIUS radio. Sounds expensive!

3. Bad habits
My name is Christie and I'm a nail biter. Why do I bite my nails? I saw my dad biting his while we were watching a Bears vs. Packers' game back in '84. Soon I was spitting my nails across the sofa just like dad. Today, I bite them so short they bleed. Gross right? How do I stop? I’m not sure, considering I like the taste of the NO BITE nail polish. I even bite my acrylics. What do you think this means?

4. Revenge of the Twilight Saga
How did I not get into the epic Twilight saga? Maybe it's the whole vampires vs werewolves rivalry. Or it could be because I don’t really find Robert Pattinson THAT good looking. He seems charming, but I don’t really have the desire to pick up the books or wait in line at a theater. But I don't want to sound too much like Miley Cyrus either. Now, Sex in The City is MY kind of movie!

5. Stay-at-home Mom vs Career-Driven Super Mom
We have these hoodlums around our neighborhood who hang out and vandalize our community gazebo every chance they get. They wear their pants too low, call me “shorty” and smoke a funny smelling substance. Where are their parents? Probably working and not paying attention! I just don’t know how long I’m going to handle sitting behind a desk after I give birth, as our adorable, chubby-cheeked babies are growing up. I’m not really thrilled about having someone else raise them for me. How am I going to work a full day, workout, cook, play volleyball and raise kids...oh, and be a good wife?? Seems impossible!! Am I asking too much? I’m taking my chances at writing a book... Praying it leads me to the “better” life:)

6. Manager? Graphic Designer? Web Designer?
What am I anymore? I feel like I have lost my identity at work. I'm incredibly burned out. I don't want to whine too much because I think "being overwhelmed" is common for everyone right now with the economy the way it is. I will say I am grateful I have a job. However, it's frustrating when I don't have manager experience or any training available and I can't delegate anything! I thought this is what managers do? Delegate... Maybe I’m bummed out we don’t have Monday, July 5 off like 90% of companies do. What would Harvey MacKay do?

7. I Miss Home
I wish my parents lived closer. I wish my brother, Mark, and my sister-in-law, Tot, would move back already... They live in South Africa right now and move back in November. They have been out there for two years. Great experience for them. We even made a family trip out there this past December. Quite the adventure for all of us. I know all families are a little weird, but I feel like there is really something special about mine. I could be biased. There is a lot of LOVE though. That makes me happy.

I do not want to cook when I get home tonight. No desire. I'm wiped out on Friday evenings! But I can't expect to go to my in-law's cabin and mooch. I did that last weekend. Honestly, how do moms with full-time jobs AND kids do it? I'm just an independent married woman without kids. I think parents who work full time with kids have to be more organized to fit it all in, whereas moms who stay home are a little more spontaneous with their schedules? My mom was a stay-at-home mom and kicked butt at this. This is why I need to move closer to her, so she can teach me how it's done! I will admit I AM excited about making my famous Strip and Go Naked slush punch tonight though! It's supposed to be 95 and humid tomorrow. Refreshing!

9. Trucks, trucks and more trucks
Swear to God I get stuck behind every single slow semi out there. It drives me crazy, especially since Minnesota is home to clover leaf ramps. It doesn't help that I work across the street from one of the largest semi companies AND a college is right around the corner for "truckers"! I think I'm still upset at the semi that dumped a sheet of ice on my windshield this winter when I was going 78 mph. Scary.

10. Finances
Karl and I met with a financial advisor last night. Good news is we are great savers and are on track to retirement. If we keep doing what we're doing, we could retire comfortably. My stay-at-home mom idea was shot out of the window. And so my book writing continues... Someday I'll be writing this blog and it'll be all about how I'm drinking a fruity cocktail from the white sandy beaches of Tahiti!

I think that sums it up. Until next week! Happy Independence Day! Be safe and don't drink and drive!!!

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Monday, June 28, 2010

New week - New Adventures!

I’m currently on chapter five of my book and am super proud of this!! My schedule hasn’t been that easy to manage lately, so the fact I’m prioritizing my writing, makes me really happy. I now have the science down behind cleaning toilets in two minutes or less. Dinners and lunches for the whole week need to be planned on Sundays (I’m too healthy to eat takeout or hot dogs and mac and cheese). My husband now handles dirty-dish duty if I’m cooking. And I found a way to stay focused at work. Work is for work and writing is for home. I can’t mix the two together - way too hard. I don’t work out as much as I would like, but I can start up again full force in November. My health magazines say even 30 minutes three times a week is enough. I am exercising my mind though! There is a lot of give and take right now, and compromise. My husband is a gem. Not once has he doubted my decision to do this. He’s my biggest cheerleader. I love him for this.

I know some family/friends think I’m crazy. I just smile at them when I can hear the thoughts and conclusions forming in their heads. My silent answer: Yes, I do believe I am going to complete this book and, yes, it’s going to become something! This answer is what keeps me going. Most friends and family are extremely supportive and excited for me. This, I am forever grateful for.

I have been reading a lot of authors’ blogs and article links via Twitter - all which say first time writers MUST write. My secret to pressing on: I cannot analyze the total distance to Chapter 33. Truth of the fact is, Chapter 33 is pretty far off, but not so in the book world. I am making progress - and I must continue to focus on the small feats.

1. I have already completed five chapters in a month’s time. Yeah!

2. I still manage to keep up with all that’s asked of me - I still play on a volleyball league, work full time, handle bills, do freelance on the side, write for the paper and KSTP AND go away almost every weekend...

If I continue at the rate I’m going, I’ll have 30 chapters done by November. That is my goal. Karl and I are supposed to take a family trip to Mexico in January. I want that trip to be my personal celebration trip. I want manuscripts, outlines, query letters, etc. out to agents, so I can fully relax and resonate in my life’s biggest dream possibly becoming a reality. How cool to lay in the sun, with a Corona in hand, with my adorable husband lying next to me knowing I DID THIS. I wrote 33 chapters - completed a book I am excited about and proud of. I took something I thought would be incredibly hard and time consuming and ran with it!! This, my friends, is how people grow!

My motto right now: Don’t make someone a priority in your life when you’re only an option in theirs. This helps me find the time for writing. Perhaps, I make myself too available sometimes and can easily be taken advantage of. So I like this saying a lot. It’s a quote I found on a friend’s Facebook page. It’s a way for me to stay focused, positive and determined. You will always encounter someone who wants more of you. Remember - “a relationship should complement, not complicate!”

Keep pressing on!

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chapter Two Complete!

Morning world! It's totally amazing what a week of rest will do to my body. I don't know if it's fair to say I rested, but I feel like a million bucks today. Flu must be out of my system! Christie's back!

Yesterday Karl and I celebrated our ten month wedding anniversary. When we clicked our glasses full of sweet tea over a healthy dinner (cooked by me), we both had a premonition - we felt like we should be celebrating ten years! That was kind of fun to giggle about. Then we started talking about gray hairs (some have been spotted already) and what our life will be like ten years from now. I honestly can say I count my blessings everyday for Karl. What a special gift to wake up to every morning! I'm excited for the next ten years!!!

I made a special trip to Mall of America (MOA) yesterday. Karl thinks I have a Bath and Body Works lotion obsession. Maybe I do, considering almost an entire shelf of our bathroom closest is full of half-used bottles. On the other hand, Karl has a lot of vitamins, strange prescriptions and medicines covering his shelf (and I mean...a LOT). We really do have a pharmacy in our bathroom. He made me promise that if I buy a lotion, I have to throw two out. I did that this morning! Bath and Body Works has the BEST sales at the end of June, especially at the MOA. I only purchased like ten bottles of hand soap, some lip stuff and ONE bottle of lotion. Their lip stuff that's usually an insanely expensive $7.50 was $1.75!!! I LOVE C.O. Bigelow lip gloss!

The best part of my trip to the MOA was seeing the rotunda set up for a book signing (Alyson Noel - A NY Times Best Author). I even took a photo of the set up and emailed it to my mom and my friend Jaymie. My mom even wrote back she already has her outfit picked out. LOL! She's really the greatest!

I was inspired after my dinner with Karl and wrote for two hours. I pumped out Chapter Two and felt really giddy after I hit save. I am LOVING this book so much. It's so much fun. They synopsis was the challenge for me, but writing the book is taking what I already pieced together in the nine page synopsis and breathing life into it! I'm hoping I get to Chapter Three tonight! I did skip my workout, but that's okay - it's all about a little give and take.

"A friend understands what you are trying to say...even when your thoughts aren't fitting into words." - Ann D. Parrish

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