Category Archives: life

30 Books before 30

30 Books before 30

I used to be an avid reader. But, then, I went to college, graduated, got a job and prefer to spend my free time watching awesome TV shows like Modern Family and The Bachelor. Go ahead, judge me.

However, I got an iPad for Christmas, and I am very excited to start reading on it. Mainly, because I enjoy “flipping” the digital pages. It’s awesome. So I asked friends for recommendations from friends before we left on our honeymoon. I read Unbroken and The Night Circus on the trip – and they were fabulous.

While searching for new books to read, I came across this list of 30 books everyone should read before their 30th birthday. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read many of these.

  1. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  2. 1984 by George Orwell
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  4. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  5. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  6. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  7. The Rights of Man by Tom Paine
  8. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  10. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
  11. The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton
  12. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  13. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
  14. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  15. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  16. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  17. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot – ugh, poetry?
  18. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  20. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  21. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  22. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  23. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  24. The Republic by Plato
  25. Lolita
  26. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  27. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  28. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  30. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  31. BONUS: How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
  32. BONUS: Honeymoon with My Brother by Franz Wisner

I guess I know what I’ll be borrowing from the library for a while… How about you? How many of these have you read?

Wedding joys and woes, a privilege?

Yesterday, as Andy and I were meeting with our pastor to finalize our wedding ceremony plans, the Minnesota Senate voted to pass a bill that would amend our state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

The same thing has happened in 31 other states. And in each of those 31 states, the voting public has passed the amendment.

Unreal. I can’t even process what’s happening.

At no point in my life have I ever questioned whether or not I had the right to get married. The only question was, “Who out there can possibly handle my sass, loud laugh and love for the Packers?”

Now, in less than 18 months, that lack of a right to get married could become even more permanent for a segment of Minnesotans. Gay marriage is already banned in Minnesota, but this constitutional amendment would make it nearly impossible for gay marriage to ever happen in our state.

Who knew that it was so important to protect two men or two women from the excitement (and headaches) of wedding planning. Who knew that those frustrations, woes, triumphs and joys were a privilege. I sure as hell didn’t.

I know that I have bitched and moaned about wedding planning. A lot. However, no matter how many times I get frustrated about etiquette for addressing envelopes or where to put the cupcakes on the tables, I am loving every second of it. More importantly, I love knowing that on July 16, in front of my family and friends, I am going to pledge to spend forever with the person that I love.

So, tell me: why shouldn’t everyone have that same opportunity?


Life-Changing Experiences

I haven’t had very many life-changing experiences, which I suppose is obvious given the word “life-changing.” However, skydiving with my co-workers on July 11, definitely counts as one of those moments. When I think back on all of my adventures, across the world and back again, very few can be identified as events that altered my state of mind and being. In my opinion, the experiences that can be defined as life-changing encompass the following characteristics:

  • Something that challenges you, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally
  • Changes the way you view yourself or the world around you
  • Provides a rush of emotions: accomplishment, excitement, fear, etc.

What do you think defines a life-changing experience? Or, is it the very nature of these experiences that they cannot be defined by any number of qualifiers?

Have you had a life-changing experience? Multiple?


“Life changed after that jump…I’d suddenly stepped to the highest level of daring, a level above even that which airplane pilots could attain.”

– Charles Lindbergh (1902 – 1974), describing his first skydive

First Job Checklist

Earlier this afternoon, I gave a presentation to the University of St. Thomas PRSSA chapter. It was a great exercise for me, because as a young professional I often struggle with feeling inexperienced and “too young.” Throughout the process of preparing my presentation – and thanks to Arik Hanson for the idea – I decided I could speak to what I know, which is what to look for and expect in your first job out of college.

For this presentation, I also experimented with Prezi. While I found it a bit hard to get used to, I definitely think that with more practice it will become my favorite presentation tool. If nothing else, it definitely wins points over PowerPoint for being more visually interesting and engaging.

Here is a quick recap of what I had hoped to get across. While this certainly isn’t an environment where recent graduates can’t be picky, there are definitely things that you want to look for in your first full-time job:

  • Challenges. One item I mentioned to the group was to step outside of your comfort zone. Your first job is the perfect place to develop new skills, especially those you aren’t particularly comfortable with. For me, this is in the realm of public affairs. I’m lucky that my employer has robust knowledge in this area, and I have worked very hard to get on teams where I can gain some experience and learn from my colleagues.
  • Variety. As a young professional, I had (and still have) no idea where exactly I would like to end up at the end of my career. Thus, an agency was the perfect environment for me to be exposed to a large variety of work, clients and industries. Whether it’s varied client industries, or varied tasks in the work day, it presents the opportunity for recent graduates to learn as much as possible.
  • Professional Development. It is my believe that one’s first job out of college presents great potential for furthered professional development. Whether it’s sponsored by the company, or done on one’s own time, learning new skills and tools is absolutely necessary. If you are able to find a company that fosters and encourages such behavior, you should take advantage.

What would you add to this list? What did you most value out of your first full-time position? Or, what you have experienced later in your career that you wish you would’ve done much earlier?

If you’re interested, here is the magic that I created. Like any presentation, it might not translate as well without my awesome dialog…

Sharing News in the 21st Century

Well, as many people know… I am recently (very recently) engaged. The past 24 hours have been exciting, happy, busy and overwhelming. Wisely, I waited until the next morning to start sharing the news with family and friends. This is, by far, the biggest news I have ever had to share with so many people and I wasn’t entirely prepared for the process.

Naturally, the first form of communication was a phone call to my parents and sister, followed by a picture text of the ring. Following a phone call to my grandma, I resorted to text message to share the news en masse. All of this, plus the phone calls that followed were completely expected. However, the announcement via social media was quite a task.

Congratulations tweets from Madeline Koch and Paul DeBettignies were the beginning, followed by congratulations and excitement from all of the great people I know online and in real life. The official changing of the Facebook status and obligatory photos unleashed even more.

I am so very grateful to have so many people who care about me and love me. And that isn’t the point of this post. I am truly amazed at how differently information is shared, especially huge life-changing information. The utter speed of communication and response is exciting, and alarming! I am still working to catch up, say thank you and update everyone on the news. This entire process has truly opened my eyes to communication of the future, and at the same time, how traditional communication – over the phone and in person – is still necessary, and important.

Well, I’m off to make more phone calls to family, but this is definitely a moment and a day that I never want to forget. Thank you to all of you for being my support, sounding boards, friends and mentors.