As I was sitting on a plane, on my way to Kauai a month ago, I wrote a post about being a lucky girl. I chose that as the theme, recognizing how truly lucky I have been, to be traveling a lot over the past five or so years. Friends and family continue to comment about all the places I seem to find myself. It is not that I never traveled, I have, but I believe my perspective began to change as my boys moved to various states, and recently has expanded beyond that.

There are a few things in play. One is how much I miss going out east to visit Sean. The monthly trips gave me a distraction from “real life” stuff and afforded me the opportunity to watch hockey, discover new parts of the country, and meet some really cool people. This is also true for visiting Alex in Texas, minus the hockey! Unfortunately, because it is much more difficult to fly to Lubbock, these trips do not happen as frequently. Visiting Scott in Lansing has always been fun, but will soon end. He is moving to Long Island, NY in August. New place to travel!

In the past year or so, another thing happened. I began to recognize the importance of spending time doing what I love, and seeing people (and dogs) who are important in my life. I also decided, with a tremendous amount of support from Bob, that I would use some of my resources to go beyond my yearly trip to Jacksonville and Spring Break vacations. Those two trips are a given and things I treasure, but I have the bug to do more.

Besides, it really is true that, “You Can’t Take it With You.” And yes Bob, I will save some for retirement.

This new travel mind set started last summer with an amazing trip, with my long time friend Lisa, to San Diego to spend time with the Rutz family. I had not seen them in seven years. To say they top the important to me list, is an understatement. Let’s just say it will not be seven years again.

Believe it or not, I find myself sitting on a plane again. This time I am heading to Arizona for a Peaker gathering of sorts. I am calling it a mental health retreat in the desert! Next month it is Lubbock with Scott. June will find me in North Carolina for a hiking trip with an MPC friend, and later in the month a family+ trip to Pictured Rocks. Oh, there are two weddings Up North in September, but you will find me at 11651 Brandywine in July and August in my flower gardens and around my pool!

I just gave my MSU Social Work interns signs that say DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOUR SOUL HAPPY. So as I travel the USA, collecting stickers, postcards, photos, and memories, my soul will definitely be smiling!

Sent from my iPad

A Tribute to Scott Nelson

On the eve of my son Scott’s thirtieth birthday, I decided to put some thoughts to words for him. Mother of a 30 year old, wow! All of you who know and love him, know he is always worth celebrating, and all his 30 year self. So here goes, this is for you…

Scott was our first child, first grandkid on both sides, and we were the first amongst our friends to have a kid. He lead the way for all to follow, and was our “test case” for parenting. We should have known when he walked at ten months that he would do things his way.

How lucky we have been to be on the journey with him. Lucky to attend Harry Potter midnight book releases, sing along to NSync, watch his bands TIPS, Tiger Tiger, and Secret Grief perform, see Green Day with him when no one else would go with me, learn about Straight Edge, meet some really cool people, play unique games, discover Soup Spoon Cafe and other vegan restaurants, go hiking together, and watch him skate for 14 years.

Scott has so many talents and gifts. Two of my favorites have been watching him on the ice and on the stage. He was an incredible hockey player and still is an amazing musician. Equally, he follows his convictions, is a super thoughtful gift giver, is passionate about the Wings and Tigers, loves the great outdoors, and understands linguistics more than any of us ever will.

This is a big year for Scott as he starts a PhD program in Linguistics at Stoney Brook University on Long Island. He and Benny his beagle-basset are moving. First time I won’t be living in the same state. This mom is struggling with it, but I know he once again will lead the way and do great things.

One last thought just for you Scott Nelson as you get “OLD”. The old man the boat!
Happy Birthday to you!
Your Mother

Do More of What Makes Your Soul Happy!

I love quotes and look for ones that ”speak” to me.  This is one of those quotes I had come across last year.  Ironically, it showed up in my gift pile from my in-laws last Christmas.  Since that moment, I have not only given it a lot of thought, but have taken action to see that it happens.  If you are reading this, you have most likely seen my Facebook posts, so you have an idea about what I have been up to.

I decided early last year that I was going to spend my time and money doing the things that, just like the quote states, “make my soul happy”.  I had reasons beyond the message on the plaque.  My life had changed in many ways and I found I needed some distractions.  Aging parents, a stressful job supporting the lives of the students I encounter, the end of hockey, and my boys growing up and moving away.

First, and fortunately, I found Outlander, which lead me to My Peak Challenge, which led me to hiking.  I do believe it has kept me whole.  As a bonus, it also got me in better shape.  My husband and friends may think I neglect them to spend time with my peaker pals.   I do not love them less, it’s just different.  It is hard to explain what this means to me.  I recently told one of my MPC friends, as we were laughing about going to a ComiCon, that my hope is that everyone is lucky enough to find something that brings them such joy.  There’s plenty out there.

You may have noticed that I have been a traveling fool.  This was part of my plan as well.  I came to the conclusion that I work really hard and as a result, would rather spend my money why I can still enjoy it.  (I do save a little!!!). I also decided I wanted to spend time with people that are important to me and to visit places that feed my soul.  I have a long list, so if I haven’t seen you yet, be patient.

Life can be hard, complicated, and stressful.  But, oh it can be so much more.  I plan to keep peaking, hiking, traveling, and reading and watching Outlander.  Find your own version of what makes your soul happy and then maybe you will get what makes mine!


My 52 Hike Challenge


If you are reading this, you have most likely seen my journey.  I discovered #52hikechallenge through My Peak Challenge, an online community that encourages challenging yourself to be the best version of yourself, through fitness, nutrition, or personal goals.

I first joined MPC in 2016 to reclaim myself.  I felt I had lost sight of who I was in the active arena.  Having been an athlete in high school and after, then keeping up with 3 young boys kept me moving for most of my life.  But, before getting involved with MPC, I felt I had lost my “toughness”.  I was spending too much time sitting out and watching, rather than getting in the mix.

I lost count of how many times I talked about “getting in shape”.  In 2015 several things happened that put me in a new direction.  First, I read the book Wild. It got me thinking about her own “toughness” and asking myself, why not me?  Then my boys got me a Fitbit for Christmas.  About that same time, we traveled to my brother-in-laws ranch in Texas.  While there, we went out skeet shooting.  I watched as everyone gave it a try.  They were having so much fun.  Then one of my boys looked at me.  My first instinct was to decline.  Then I thought of Wild.  To say I loved it was an understatement.  The fact I was with my boys, and actually hit some of the clay pigeons, was the icing on the cake.

In January 2016, by pure chance, I discovered My Peak Challenge because of my Outlander obsession.  That is a story for another blog, actually a previous blog!  I thought what the heck, I will give it a try.  Nothing else has worked, so maybe some Sam Hueghen motivation will.  To say it has changed my life does not do this statement justice.  In a year of life not always going as planned, it became my distraction and so much more.

A healthier life, new friends from all over the United States and World, and of course  hiking.  I never, in my wildest dreams imagined, when I joined, that I would gain so much.  I have hiked in over 8 States, 1 Country, and 17 different cities over the past year.  I have Hiked with my husband, old and new friends, my boys, and some grand dogs.  I hiked in as cold as 6 degrees and as hot as 100+ degrees.

I look up trails wherever I go now and often choose hiking over shopping!  I have so many ideas for 2018 and know I will be hiking in new places and with new friends and family.  I still have to get one in with Rizzo!

The 52 Hike Challenge site asked participants to fill out a form about their experience.   I gave it some thought and came up with what hiking really has been for me.  As I mentioned earlier, it has allowed me to reclaim myself.  And in doing so, I have met incredible Peakers, seen so many amazing places that make my photographer heart happy and my soul sing!


See you on the trails…

Love, Kris💚


This Mom’s Empty Nest is Full

It has been six years since Sean, my youngest, graduated from high school.  At that time I was warned by another mom, who had already been an empty nester, about how difficult that time in life can be.  I can honestly say, she knew what she was talking about.  There were times, in the first year or so that I just sat in a chair, not knowing what to do.  It is a weird time for sure, and I still get very sad at times.  This is usually after I watch the TV show Bluebloods, where the entire family sits down together for dinner each Sunday.  Sure I would love all my birds close to the nest, but life does not always turn out that way.

This year Sean graduates from college (As do my other two, go figure!).  About a month ago, when I was having a pity party for myself, I started to reflect on all life has brought me since 2011 because  my boys had the confidence to forge their own path, I got to follow along, and how lucky I have been.

Scott, my oldest did not go too far.  He landed in Lansing.  One nearby at least! I get to see him at MSU tailgates and still follow his music career.  He introduced me to Soup Spoon Cafe, Brick Road Pizza in Grand Rapids, and when he comes to town, we eat together at La Marsa or Thai Express.  I actually went to Mac’s Bar for the first time (hard to believe isn’t it) to watch his band play.  I also have someone to go to IKEA with and have enjoyed transplanting some of my flowers in his yard.  Every now and then he shows up with his dog and stays in his old room.  He’s staying around Michigan for now, but keeps teasing me with plans to pursue his Ph.D. In another state.  I have him for at least 2 more years!  Did I mention we finally have a Spartan?

Alex, took a huge jump, and moved to Lubbock, Texas.  After a cross country drive in the Envoy pulling a trailer, four hours stranded by the side of the road, and a two hour drive in a tow truck (Bob, Alex, the driver, and myself all crammed in the front seat), he settled in a new city.  He is only an hour and a half from his Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary Pat, and his girl cousins.  They have taken him under their wing. (Thank you.)  Since he has been there Bob visits on business from time to time, we go together, and Scott and I have done two weekend trips together.  It is no easy task traveling to and from.  Yet, how would I have ever got to visit Roswell without our last trip?  Gotta say…it makes you wonder! I have seen cotton in bloom, hiked in a canyon, drove through New Mexico, attended a record breaking Texas Tech football game, and seen my independent son thrive.

Sean of course took us on a whirlwind adventure through junior and college hockey. He went East (the other bookend to my boy in the West).  I fell in love with Burlington, Vermont, Portland, Maine, and all things Boston.  We met too many great hockey families and players to mention.  Saw Sean play all over New England, and of course, to really make my heart happy, I got to cook some meals for his team the last two years.  I fell in love with The Freedom Trail, maple syrup, beautiful mountains, The Met Bar, Newbury Street, Walburgers, Suzanne’s Home Furnishing, the North End, small towns around Boston, Cape Cod bracelets, reconnecting with Jill and family, Quincy Market, of course Cappys, and will forever cherish the wonderful Boston accents.  I also got to meet Catie, Sean’s girlfriend, a Criminal Justice major, and incredible girl.  P.S.  Sean is staying out east so I get to still visit!

I must mention some members of our family that have been added over these six years.  We have Benny the Beagle Basset, Theo the Bulldog, and recently added Rizzo, who I still need to meet.  They make me laugh and grand dogs are pretty awesome.

Bob and I are loving all the places we get to travel to and enjoy some trips of our own.  We have been to our old stomping ground of Jackonville, out to San Diego and saw the Rutz family, Ft Lauderdale with friends, hanging out in Orlando with Mom and Dad Nelson (Disney just isn’t the same without the boys), a family trip to Colorado, and an amazing trip to Aruba recently with our long time friends the Ketners.  Did I mention how lucky I am?

If I need to fill the gaps, I have Bauer, my house and yard, a new love of hiking, friends, all my busyness, imagework, and of course Outlander!

I certainly miss having my nest full of boys and activity, but this lucky mom’s life is full!





A Place

As I am reading, I often times find a sentence or passage that really speaks to me.  Since I still read books that I can hold in my hands and turn the pages, I have the opportunity to mark in them as I see fit.  Sure I was accostumed to this from my college days as my books were full of highlighted pages, but lately it serves other purposes.  When I joined a book group, I started doing this because  I wanted to revisit parts that were meaningful or relevant, so I could share them with the group when we got together.

I typically have a pen close by so if I come across something, I can star it or put wiggly lines down the side to find it at another time.  I do go back periodically to find the marks.  Sometimes it is advice, sometimes something I want to share with the groups I lead, but most often it is something that gives clarity to who I am, what is important in my life, and how I see the bigger picture.

This happened recently as I was re-reading the fifth book in the Outlander series.  Yes, re-reading and loving every minute of it.  Honestly, I do not find a lot to mark in these books, but every now and then one of the characters says something that gets a wiggly line down the page.   I just went back and found the passage again as I was reading the book on a recent flight to Boston.  How appropriate it was too, because I am heading to “A Place” next weekend.

Let me share with you what this means.  These lines are from The Fiery Cross by Dianna Gabaldon, and come from the character named Jamie.

“He felt a peace come over him at the sight, and breathed deep, his body relaxing. Ah, he thought, and the realization stole over him that this was a Place.  He thought of such places that had no words, only recognizing one when he came to it.  He might have called it holy, save that the feel of such a place had nothing to do with church or Saint.  It was simply a place he belonged to be, and that was sufficient.”

Some of you know this to be true.  I certainly do.  I will be heading to Jacksonville, FL next weekend for my annual birthday get-away, time spent doing many of my favorite things, with two of my best friends.  Two of the nights are spent at the ocean.

All I have to do is step out onto the balcony of my hotel room and know this is a Place.  Here’s to knowing yours and being lucky enough to spend time there!image


Keeping the Messages of PEACE, LOVE, JOY & HOPE Alive in the New Year…

Each year as the holiday decorations hit the shelves I start to notice the words that appear on ornaments and signs. PEACE, LOVE, JOY, HOPE. The appearance of these sentiments is nothing new, they have always been associated with Christmas. What I have noticed the past few years is that they are more prevalent as holiday decorations have evolved. They are the mantras for the season and quite a few now deck the halls of my own home. This year I have decided to carry these words into the New Year and not just promote them for a month or two.
I have always resonated with the word PEACE. Maybe it’s because I was born in the sixties. This is the word I always look for. I have recently tried to stop purchasing anything with peace on it, but so far I have two new signs to hang on my walls. My fondness for this word actually goes much deeper than my fondness for peace signs. I believe in peace and try to lead by example. This is true for what it means for my family, friends, the students I work with, and others I interact with. Each year when anyone asks me what I want for Christmas, it is always the same: Peace on Earth.
LOVE is a word we see the most throughout the entire year, not just at Christmas. It plays a central role in other celebrations as well. If you notice specifically at this time of year, love appears to be the word that always gets pinned between peace and joy. They just seem to go together. I sign my Christmas card with Peace, Love, and Joy, and have for many years. It has a nice ring to it. Yet, love needs its own sign and as Coca Cola once told us “Share the Love”.
Last Christmas I happened to find a dish towel with the word JOY on it for a friend. When I gave it to her tears welled up in her eyes. She asked me how I knew that she had been trying to “find her joy again”? It got me thinking. We all want to find our joy, but sometimes life gets in the way. I recently learned that if we look too much at the big picture, we lose the chance to see the simple joys in the small things of everyday life. This past summer I decided to do a Facebook project called “The Joys of Summer”. I was having a difficult time with some things and thought it would help me focus on all the little things I enjoyed about Summer. It really was easy and a lot of fun. On December 21 st I plan to start a new project, “Finding the Joy in Winter”. I have a feeling I will be searching a bit harder to complete this one.
As the New Year approaches I have started to make my invisible list of what I HOPE for in 2017. Some would call it a list of New Year’s Resolutions. Whatever it is called it has always been the same: to get more organized at work and at home. As important as that is to me, the clutter is taking over my life, I plan to make my hope for 2017 a bit more significant. There are bigger things in life that I hope for this coming year.
As the decorations get packed away make sure you keep a little PEACE, LOVE, JOY, & HOPE on the shelf for 2017!

In the Rockies

I am an ocean person.  I love listening to the surf hit the shore.  Walking along the beach is one of my favorite things to do.  It is always my first choice for a get-a-way spot.  That was until I took a trip to Colorado.

It was a chance to go on a trip with our 3 boys.  Something that takes a lot of coordinating, but fortunately it worked out and we landed in The Rocky Mountains.  I had been to Crested Butte on a ski trip once when Scott was 2 and Alex was on the way.  The only outdoor activity I got to do on that trip was go snowmobiling in the mountains.  I remember it was beautiful.

This time I was ready to fully enjoy the outdoors and take advantage of some hiking and picture taking.  I was also hoping to see some wildlife.  I was rewarded with all three.  Fishing was also on the agenda as a co-worker of my husband’s lives in the area and took Bob, Sean, and Alex for some trout fishing.

Our first stop was a place called Twin Lakes, near the town of Leadville, altitude 14, 400.  You see in Colorado everything is about altitude.  We all fell in love with the remoteness of this location and started our mountain adventures.  By the end of our 3 days there, we had seen a female moose and calf, done some hiking, learned that hummingbirds are everywhere, road a train to 11,000 ft., had to take a 3 hour detour home from Aspen, and some of us decided we wanted to buy and run the General Store in town.  Ironically, it went on the market the day we left.

I must also mention that my 3 boys hiked to the tallest point in Colorado, Mt. Elbert, a 14er.  Go big or go home!  My biggest hike was the south part of that trail.  No small accomplishment!  If it had not been for My Peak Challenge (yes it is true) and getting in shape, I would not have made it.

After Twin Lakes we headed to Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Bob had been there 40 years ago and wanted to share it with us.  Well…the mountains and park did not disappoint, but Estes Park is like the Disneyworld of the Rockies…very busy.  The ride through the mountains was stunning and we even saw a lot of Elk!  The boys are already planning to tackle another 14er.

I have discovered there is another place to go and enjoy the peace and beauty of this country.  There is more than just the ocean to soothe my soul.  A good walk in the woods can also do the trick.  It also helps that The Rockies are photographer’s dream.

Bob and I have always worked hard to make opportunities for our family to be together.  We are lucky they still want to hang out with us.  I will cherish this trip through my pictures and memories.