Christie Koester

Christie Koester is a Marketing and Communi- cations Manager and a Graphic/Web Designer in Eagan, Minn. She is also a freelance designer and writer and has written several articles for the Shakopee Valley News and KSTP as a community reporter. Koester is writing her first novel. | Follow Christie on Twitter at @christiekoester or check out her personal blog.

What is the Right Age to Marry?

Posted by: Christie Koester Updated: November 8, 2010 - 10:46 PM

A favorite part in my day is scrolling through my BlackBerry and reading all my friend’s Facebook status updates. It makes me feel connected to them in a way. I will admit I have some creative, interesting friends. 

But a couple days ago I came across a startling status update. One of the girls I coached years ago, a 15-year-old at the time, had posted she’d just gotten engaged. Sure, she was older now, but still, only 20.
What is the rush? Wasn’t 20 too young? Does she even know who she really is?    
But I couldn’t exactly post: “OMG, who gets engaged at 20?” as my status, knowing she’d read it. Who was I to burst her bubble, throwing her off cloud nine? Maybe her marriage will be a successful one. I hope it is.
Instead I had to Tweet my thoughts. A few minutes later, one of my “tweeps” tweeted me back, “@cpkoester I have a few friends that met/started ‘going out’ in jr high and are still together doing very well/married.”
Ahh, judging. I was doing it again. Shame on me.
I took a step back. My grandma spent this past weekend sharing her love story as we dried dishes. At 18 she was married to the man of her dreams, my grandpa. Sixty years later, they still have the most amazing amount of love and respect for each other. I can’t help but be happy around them.
Then there are my parents. My mom was married at twenty one. Just the other month she confessed my dad still creates swarms of butterflies in her stomach, simply by the way he looks at her. 
Love can happen and it can knock our socks off. But is it the lasting love to get us through 60 years of marriage? I almost feel like young adults today, including me, want everything right now, as fast as a BlackBerry sends emails.
But at a young age do we really understand all that goes into a marriage, and who we even are?  Do we have that time to reflect, or are we busy jumping to the next task on our list?
Oh…and then there was me…I was once that young girl with a shiny ring on her left finger. A few days before my freshman year in college, my high school sweetheart grabbed my hand on a starry night, leading me to a cornfield a few blocks from my parent’s house under a green sign that read “Love Road”. He got down on a knee and proposed. I was 18. I couldn’t help but squeak out a yes, but everything inside me was screaming no. I was more worried about volleyball practice and my first day of college than walking down an aisle. That should have been my first sign. But life felt comfortable with him in it, and marriage was the next step, right? If I didn’t accept, we, as a couple, would be over. That was a scary thought at that age.
But love makes people do crazy things, especially when we think we’re in a bit of a race. And sometimes love has a way of sneaking up on us in all kinds of ways and it’s hard to deny.
Lucky for us, life got in the way. Our schedules became busy and complicated. We started maturing differently. Things fell apart; maybe a blessing in disguise even as much as it hurt. We broke up before the wedding bells could even ring.
What I didn’t know was I’d be single for the next nine years - most of my twenties. Plenty of time to question and second guess everything I did wrong, but also learn that sometimes finding the right person has to do with timing, a lot of patience and soul searching.
That didn't stop friends of mine from falling in love, walking down the aisle and having kids. Every time I’d turn a year older, or stood up in another wedding, I’d wish that’d be the year for me. Why not me? What was so wrong with me? Did I ruin my one chance…
While my friends were settling in their homes, sharing their views as newly married couples and the responsibilities that followed, I was watching. What worked? What didn’t? I recognized the people I needed most in my life, perhaps later this defined the characteristics I’d needed in a companion. My values changed – I didn’t need muscles and a six-foot Mr. Hottie Pants. I wanted the guy who made me laugh and was compassionate enough to listen when I opened my mouth. I started traveling the world, challenging myself, growing as a person and really got to know the most important person, myself.
I kind of liked myself and who I was becoming. I started to enjoy all the journeys life had in store for me. My grandparents would repeatedly tell me, do everything you want to do now because when you get older, you won’t. “Trust us.”
And just like that, as I inched closer to my thirties, the most perfect guy [for me] walked into my life at the most right time. I can’t help but think, would I have ever known any of this if I raced to the altar?  
What do you think is the right age to marry?

Challenges of Writing My First Book

Posted by: Christie Koester Updated: October 17, 2010 - 5:07 PM

In a previous YourVoices post of mine you read about my decision to follow a dream.

"I want to write a book," I shared. And six months later, I did just that. I finished my first ever manuscript, coming in at a little over 340 pages long last month. Phew! But I am not celebrating and have millions of insecurities and doubts…. Why? 

Below are a few lessons I have learned on my writing journey:

1. I like to be good at things but I need to know I’m good to venture forward.
Maybe this determination stems from volleyball.  In the sixth grade my best friend invited me over to “bump” a volleyball. Pretty soon she and I were passing the ball 40, 50, 60 times back and forth. Before then, I had never touched a volleyball but something inside me fell in love. I made the team in seventh grade and earned the title of MVP in high school. I kept getting better the more I practiced and involved myself. Before I knew it I had a volleyball scholarship when I graduated high school. I even made it to the NCAA Final Four my senior year in college. And then, just like volleyball started, competitive volleyball was over. There was nothing more beyond college that really counted. No NBA, no WNBA, no MLB and no NHL…not even the minors…just  recreational leagues and non-officiated tournaments. I would be playing solely for the love of the game.  
But just like there are no guarantees for a future in volleyball, there are no promises my book is going to get published. That’s a hard pill to swallow. But I didn’t throw my body on hard volleyball courts digging up balls for nearly twenty years of my life because I knew I was going to play in the Olympics someday. I did it because I genuinely loved the sport. I was eager to get better and was open to learning.  And I need to remember that when going after my writing dream. I’m doing this for me and for the love of writing. Nothing more.
2. There is no failure in trying
I read this quote somewhere and have it posted above my desk at work. I have accomplished something huge. Hello, I finished writing 345 pages – the most I have ever typed in my life, but I am unable to let myself enjoy this accomplishment. Why? Maybe because deep down I know I still have so much work ahead of me and I'm not there yet. My next step: editing and revising the entire manuscript. I need to make sure everything flows since starting with chapter one back in May. It’s October now and there have been a lot of interruptions since. The difference between editing 50 pages versus 300 is considerable. And unfortunately there aren’t enough “free” hours in the day to devote to revising all day long. So I start doubting.  Am I good enough to do this? Do I have what it takes? Can I be patient enough?
I have two choices: One, I can keep trying and do as much as I can. Two, I can give in. The difference:  if I keep trying, there will always be a chance of success.    
3. It pays to be nice
I caught up with an old high school friend of mine one day via Facebook. He lives out in Hollywood now and has just received news his very first screenplay is becoming a movie (yeah)! Granted he writes horror films, I knew he would understand how I was feeling about my doubts. He has written a few full and half manuscripts and over 17 screenplays. This is his first big break. He told me he wanted to help me. He wanted to see my dream through.
Why would he want to give me the time of day? His answer: I was nice to him in high school.
I wrote: Luke, I’m spinning out of control. I don’t know how much more I can take. All my free time is going towards this book. But is my writing worthy enough? Will this go somewhere? Am I wasting my time? What he wrote back was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I wanted to share parts of his advice in case any of you self-doubters happen to be in the same boat right now.

Christie –
First off-- MBA, PHD, freakin' billionaire's son.... no one is "guaranteed" anything, ever. There are only two lifetime guarantees....

1) You were born
2) You will die

Rock solid guarantees. The rest of life is 85% timing, 10% luck, and 5% hard work. I think you've just birthed your first serious undertaking: and like a newborn, it's new, vulnerable, a little stinky, and has A LOT of growing to do... and you're suddenly having doubts about being a new mother. But a mother doesn't abandon her child. And you can't abandon your baby. You've got to now spend time with it, nurturing and shaping it so it can grow up and have the best chance of success out in the world.
The words were exactly what I needed to hear. You never know when you’ll run into someone from your past again. I think it's that timing statistic...with that said, always be on your best behavior!  

4. Social Networking is therapeutic and helpful
When I first signed on to Twitter to follow some of my favorite celebrities, I was confused. I didn’t get the point. But now, Twitter is my go-to networking tool. Not only do I get to find out what restaurants in Minneapolis have the best happy hour specials, but I have been able to become a member of a women's writers critique group all because of my tweets. I share my writing struggles and by doing so I gain followers. Pretty soon a hopeful writer from Brazil asked me if I would participate in a writing group she was starting. Soon our critique group was formed. Two of the women in our group have already published books and have been through the entire process start to finish. So you can imagine how much input they have. We spend every week taking turns proofing one to three chapters of each other’s manuscripts and offering suggestions and edits. This group has opened doors for me and has taught me so much about the writing world.
5. Dreams are meant to be shared
This leaves me with a closing thought…what if I had continued to keep my dream to myself like I had been doing for years?  What would have happened? The answer: nothing. Nobody was ever holding me accountable, and I wasn't doing a very good job. What I do know is the more I share, the more I chase after my dream. And that feels good.
Do you have any advice for when the going gets tough?

What Do You Think Heaven is Like?

Posted by: Christie Koester Updated: September 26, 2010 - 6:53 PM

What do you think heaven is like?

 
Seems like a strange question, but the thought is something that crosses my mind every once in awhile, especially before bed. I already tend to think a lot – maybe more than normal. Nighttime is my moment of reflection.
 
Death is something that scares me. I know I don’t have to let it – I could easily trust God. He knows what he’s doing, but it’s the mystery of it all that gets to me.
 
Why do so many people have to get cancer?
Why do young, innocent people have to die?
Why do we have to lose the ones we love? 
 
I spend a good amount of time trying to figure out answers to questions I know there isn’t concrete evidence for. These thoughts about death and heaven don’t come every night, but there are nights I definitely lose sleep thinking about them. I suppose I could say I have a silent one-way conversation with God.
 
Why God, why do bad things have to happen to good people? Why do I get so close to people to only have them taken away in the end?
 
Just the thought of losing someone close sends me in a panic. Will I ever be ready for this moment? I want proof that I will see them again. I swear that will help. At least knowing will make the anxiety subside. But then I have these pangs of guilt. What if in the end, heaven isn’t about what I want or need. Maybe there is more to heaven than being reunited with our loved ones.  
 
My husband and I are part of a young adult group at our church where we pick a book and read it, then discuss. Our last book was 90 Minutes in Heaven. I was skeptical about reading it, but curious too. Maybe this book would make better sense of heaven. To date, over a million people have read this book – something about its words affected readers, or it wouldn’t be a best seller.
 
The book is supposedly a true story – Don Piper, a Baptist pastor, was in a horrible car accident and claims he died for 90 Minutes. Another pastor prayed over him and Don was brought back to life. Don claims prayer was the reason he came back, but he did make a trip up to heaven…for 90 Minutes. He explained what heaven was like – there was music and colors he had never seen, and family. They were waiting for him. Everyone was happy. Love was all around.
 
His description brought some hope, but little comfort. Why of all people a Baptist pastor? I’m a bit of a shy Lutheran – I need simplified answers. He didn’t spend enough time explaining heaven. He was too intense for me throughout most of the book, but his story wasn’t the first I had heard about out-of-body experiences.
 
The day was August 9, and my older brother’s 21st birthday. The temperature was balmy, but normal for August in Illinois. My dad had finished up washing his car and moved on to my mom’s minivan. The neighbors had a big party the night before – their parents were out of town. They had too many people on their deck at once. It had collapsed. They were in a hurry to put it back together so their parents wouldn’t find out, and asked to borrow my dad’s tools. My dad ran down in the basement and came back up quickly, too fast maybe, because his heart simply stopped beating.
 
He hit the driveway pavement hard. He claims he saw this all. He floated out of his body and above the trees. And then he was somewhere new – a place he didn’t recognize but the colors were audacious. His late grandma was waiting for him as he remembered her cane and all. He kept asking her questions. “Is it my time?” She shrugged her shoulders. “Is that heaven?” He pointed towards a bright light. She shrugged her shoulders again. “If I go there, can I come back?” She shook her head no. And my dad was back in his body, lying on the driveway. He remembers an overwhelming sense of peace, but most of all the intensity of love.
 
What was that place my dad went to? Was it real or all a quick dream?
 
Then there are miracles. My grandparents who are devout Catholics were in a horrible car accident two Thanksgivings ago. An alcoholic who had a two-page police record pulled out behind a semi to pass in a no passing zone on a two-lane country road the exact minute my grandparents were in the other lane. He hit my grandparents head on, both going around 60 miles per hour. We are not sure how, but they survived. There were many broken bones and blood lost. They don’t remember anything from the car accident – how could they, they were completely passed out. Maybe they didn’t float above the trees or spend time in heaven, but I believe God was still there with them. He decided they needed to stay.
 
I mentioned my grandparents are Catholic because they pray every single day, at least 20 minutes, sometimes longer. My grandma cried to me that maybe God was trying to teach her a lesson since she spent everyday for as long as she can remember asking God to take both her and my grandpa at the same time, maybe even in a car accident…
 
Does God work that way?
 
As a result of the accident, my grandpa is now a bit of a ticking time bomb. He had a pig valve put in his heart several years ago and was on blood thinners. Because of the accident his brain slowly leaks blood; he can’t be on any thinners at all. He’s 84 – too old for surgery. Clots are forming around his valve and doctors can’t stop them. The doctors are shocked every time they see him.
 
Last summer the doctors insisted we get our families together and say our goodbyes to my grandpa shortly before my husband and I were married. The clots would break away at anytime and more than likely head to his brain, they insisted. I stayed an extra day with my grandpa – I needed more time with him. I had written him a note. I couldn’t say the things I wanted to directly to his face. I’m so much better at writing. That very morning before I could hand him my note, one of the clots broke loose. Instead of going to my grandpa’s brain the clot went south to my grandpa’s leg. He made it through surgery and he danced at our wedding. He still tends to his garden and heads to polka mass with my grandma on Sundays.
 
Tick. Tick. Tick.  
 
I can’t explain miracles or why they happen to some people and not to others. I don’t understand why bad things happen to good people or what heaven is like or what’s going to happen up there.
 
The only conclusion I have is maybe our life here is like a school, and we have the choice to learn about God, let him in and believe there is more to our life than maybe we will ever be able to comprehend. I mean, there is this great emotion called love. I can’t explain it either. It’s nearly impossible to avoid, and is the only emotion and feeling that nothing seems greater than. And all the while, that feeling and emotion continues to grow. I know I can’t stop it or control how deep it goes. A friendship is born, we fall in love, we have children, we adopt, we make unforgettable memories and with all those events love gets stronger. Even in death and loss. Even when bad things happen. Somehow love has a way of finding us among our pain and sorrow. And to know all ends of love, we simply have to experience the good and unfortunately the bad.  
 
What if God is behind this intense emotion called love? What if he’s constantly working in us through the spirit of love? And maybe when we get to heaven, the love we have inside us for our friends and parents and grandparents, husband and wives, children and grandchildren will be magnified so much that we’ll finally feel whole. Only then will we have the answers. All we can do now is trust in a promise of everlasting life and love waiting for us…
 
What do you think heaven is like?

Celebrating One Year!

Posted by: Christie Koester Updated: September 3, 2010 - 6:39 PM

My husband Karl and I recently returned from our one-year wedding anniversary trip out west. Last August, as we exchanged vows, we promised one another our marriage would be a journey full of fun and exciting adventures. And a year later we definitely have succeeded in the adventure part.

Karl and I have a goal to hit up all 50 states (we're both currently around 35 states and counting). We also have a list of the destinations we would like to see all over the world, but haven't completely figured out how we’re going to afford all these trips, let alone get the time off. We have a few more places ahead of us and will continue to dream!
 
When we opened the atlas earlier in the summer to plan our trip, we decided we'd fly into San Francisco, rent a car and drive to Oregon and Washington – two states neither of us had been but had always wanted to go. Our goal: fitting three states into seven days and seeing as much as we could fit in a day. Our reward: a Minnesota Twins game in Seattle!
 
Follow us along on a picture journey as I highlight some of the must sees in each state. Maybe you’ll just find your way on the same journey.
 
San Francisco
There were plenty must sees and dos in San Francisco, but beware the city is pretty expensive. From the food to transportation to sightseeing, our pockets were definitely taking a hit, and we only spent one full day here. We spent the morning driving around the exaggerated hilly streets of San Francisco and seeking out two of our favorite childhood television houses: Full House and Mrs. Doubtfire. We drove through Chinatown and saw the world's windiest street packed with cars. 
 
Our biggest adventure for the day was visiting Alcatraz. We purchased our Alcatraz tickets online, which helped us beat the long lines. I wasn't sure I would enjoy visiting a prison, but I had seen The Rock when I was younger and was intrigued. Karl and I were able to synchronize our self-guided tour (head pieces) so we could walk around the prison together. I actually enjoyed this because there are four prisoners who share their story throughout the tour and I almost felt like they were standing beside me the whole time. The whole tour is a bit eerie but that also was the reason I liked it. We were able to walk into the small jail cells and even experienced 15 seconds in one of the confinement cells. (Now, that's some serious darkness and quiet time!) The view of San Fran from outside Alcatraz is gorgeous.
 
After the ferry back to the city, Karl and I were starving and hit up Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 and had the best clam chowder and sourdough bread of our life, and I can't forget the ahi tuna! Amazing. We walked around and purchased fresh fruit, watched the sea lions sunbathe and enjoyed the street people entertain tourists by jumping out behind a handful of branches and scaring them. We said farewell to San Francisco as we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and were ready to see what else Northern California had to offer.

 

The World's Windiest Street

The World's Windiest Street

 

A typical Alcatraz Jail Cell - only 5 feet by 9 feet

A typical Alcatraz Jail Cell - only 5 feet by 9 feet

 

 

The best clam chowder and sourdough bread we have ever had was in San Francisco

The best clam chowder and sourdough bread we have ever had was in San Francisco

 

The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge has supposedly around 41 million average crossings a year

The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge has supposedly around 41 million average crossings a year

 

Northern California
It was time for us to try some wine! Northern California is known for its wine. As much as we wanted to go to Napa Valley and Sonoma, we had heard that it's nearly impossible getting anywhere fast during the weekend, so we surpassed both places and ended up meeting our brother-in-law's friend in Mendicino County, Jake Fetzer. Having parents who enjoy wine, I have heard plenty about Fetzer wine. I just never expected to meet an actual Fetzer. Karl and I met Jake on his ranch and had the wine tour of a lifetime. The Fetzer's sold their name a few years back and are currently in the process of starting a new brand - Masut wines. And it is good! Karl and I were able to drink straight from the tanks! It was an experience we will never forget.

We decided to move on and entered the Redwoods. These trees are unbelievable. Just when we thought we saw the largest tree, we'd see one bigger. We stepped out of our car plenty of times to walk around and play in the forest. These are a must see! We also spent an afternoon at the Fern Canyon in the Redwood National Park. Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World was filmed here. It's a 50 foot canyon with wall to wall ferns. It's full of lush greens and is quite beautiful.

 

Drinking the newly produced Masut wine at the Fetzer ranch!

Drinking the newly produced Masut wine at the Fetzer ranch!

 

Karl standing next to one of the "large" Redwoods

Karl standing next to one of the "large" Redwoods

 

 

I'm super strong!

I'm super strong!

 

 

I married Spiderman...

I married Spiderman...

 

We were waiting for a dinosaur to jump out while at Fern Canyon

We were waiting for a dinosaur to jump out while at Fern Canyon

 

Welcome to Oregon
Oregon was a new state for the both of us and had such character! The mountains, luminous lakes and wildlife takes on a whole new meaning in this state, not to mention the beer! We knew there were several places we wanted to stop, but didn't have enough time to see everything. Several people mentioned Crater Lake and we were glad we went! I do wish we spent an entire day at Crater Lake because the water looked so inviting - I wanted to swim in it. Crater Lake is supposed to have some of the cleanest water in the world.

En route to Crater Lake, we stopped to hike around and see a waterfall. There is actually an entire trail of waterfalls along Highway 138 - there are over 25 of them. We saw two, and the ones we did see were awesome!

We raced to make the coastline before dark. We stopped at Brideview Winery and found out Minnesota is the second largest consumer of Bridgeview wines beside Oregon! We made the Oregon coastline as the sun was setting and jumped out of our rental to play in the sand dunes. I felt like we were in the Sahara desert (even though I have never been there). Not only were the dunes an amazing workout, they went on for miles. I felt like I was 10 again. We had so much fun.

 

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States!

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States!

 

Watson Falls - Oregon's 3rd highest waterfall (272 feet) - found off of Highway 138

Watson Falls - Oregon's 3rd highest waterfall (272 feet) - found off of Highway 138

 

Oregon Sand Dunes go on for 50 miles along the coast and off of Highway 101

Oregon Sand Dunes go on for 50 miles along the coast and off of Highway 101

 

The Oregon Mountains
One mountain Karl and I both wanted to see was Mount Hood. We also happened to get there on the day they had found the remains of two climbers who had gone missing last December. We had wonderful weather throughout our trip, but the day we saw the mountains was the day the clouds rolled in. We were able to take a ski lift up part of Mount Hood and explore, as well as enjoy the view. We also spent time driving along the crystal clear rivers and picking fresh wild berries. 

The view of the Oregon coastline

The view of the Oregon coastline

 

Mount Hood is Oregon's largest mountain and the world's second most climbed mountain

Mount Hood is Oregon's largest mountain and the world's second most climbed mountain

 

Oregon has plenty of beautiful rivers full of fish just waiting to be caught!

Oregon has plenty of beautiful rivers full of fish just waiting to be caught!

Welcome to Washington
Washington also has gorgeous mountains, clear waters, large trees and is home to Forks - otherwise known as the birth place of the Twilight saga. We started our journey in Washington by driving up to Mount St. Helens. We did have troubles with road closures in this state. We had the option of waiting for two hours for a road to open while rocks were cleaned off a mountain side or take a dirt road. We tried the dirt road and made the best of it. Mount St. Helens happened to be under quite a few clouds, so we didn't get to see the peaks, but we were able to experience the destruction from the 1980 eruption. This was definitely worth the two hour drive through some windy, non-paved roads. We took a drive around the entire peninsula of Washington to see Olympic National Park. We were able to stand on the World's Largest Spruce tree, see the town of Forks (supposedly Twilight has increased their tourism substantially) and I also had the best piece of fresh salmon for dinner.  

 

Mount St. Helen's erupted in 1980 and some of the ash reached eastern states three days later

Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980 and some of the ash reached the eastern states three days later

 

The world's largest spruce tree is found in Olympic National Park - 58 feet and 11 inches around and 191 feet hight!

The world's largest spruce tree is found in Olympic National Park - 58 feet and 11 inches around and 191 feet high!

 

The Hoh Rain Forest gets about 150 inches of rain a year! Totally lush!

The Hoh Rain Forest gets about 150 inches of rain a year! Totally lush!

Seattle, Washington
And last but not least, what's a trip without seeing and cheering for our beloved Minnesota Twins playing (and winning) at Safeco Field?

 

Christie and Karl cheering on The Minnesota Twins to victory!

Christie and Karl cheering on The Minnesota Twins to victory!

 Do you have any recent vacations you have been on and would like to share? Where else do you think we need to go?

 

 

 

 

 

Have you tried a new Minnesota adventure lately?

Posted by: Christie Koester Updated: August 16, 2010 - 4:23 PM

I’m someone who loves trying new adventures; thankfully so does my husband. These adventures could be anything from tasting alligator off the grill brought in from New Orleans to sampling warthog and biltong in South Africa to skiing down a black diamond in Montana (with little skills) or tasting my grandma’s home cooked specialty: pig’s feet. I might pick up a different book genre or sign up for a 5k; I may even polka with a lonely old man in the corner at Gasthof zur Gemütlichkeit in Northeast Minneapolis. I just do it because I know if I won’t, I’ll feel like I missed out. I will never know if I don’t try.

I love Minnesota because the variety of cool events and fun activities available for the willing. The truth is Minnesota has a lot to offer. Minnesota is not a state that encourages boredom. Below are just a few of my latest discoveries in the months of July and August. Some have been around for awhile, whereas others are fairly new.
 
Crofut Winery in Jordan, Minnesota
My husband Karl and I love tasting all kinds of wines. I wouldn’t say we’re wine connoisseurs by any means - we like our inexpensive $3.00 bottle wines and don’t have anything near a wine cellar in our house. However, we do enjoy stopping at wineries all over the world. Karl and I have been to wineries in Temecula, California; the island of Crete, Greece; and Cape Town, South Africa.
 
We recently received our Southwest Coupons in the mail and found savings off a bottle of wine at a winery practically in our backyard - we were thrilled. We waited for a beautiful Saturday and jumped in our car to try out Crofut Winery. We pulled up to a large purple sign that read FREE WINE TASTING along Highway 13. We love the word free! We drove up to a red barn and noted not very many people were there. Maybe Crofut was still unknown to many or we stopped during a slow time. Besides one other couple, we were the only ones tasting a variety of  award winning wines. We learned about the grapes and found out there are several other wineries in Minnesota (Minnesota Heartland Trail ). All and all we really enjoyed the day! It was something different and for a second we thought we were thousands of miles from home. We also purchased three bottles of wine. We might just be back for the big grape stomp coming in September! www.crofut.com.
 
Welcome to Crofut Winery in Jordan! Wine tastings are held in the red barn.

Welcome to Crofut Winery in Jordan! Wine tastings are held in the red barn.

 
There are 6.5 acres of commercial vines at Crofut Winer

There are 6.5 acres of commercial vines at Crofut Winer

 
Yes, FREE Wine Tasting! Can't go wrong there!

Yes, FREE Wine Tasting! Can't go wrong there!

 

PedalPub in Nord’east Minneapolis, Minnesota

My spontaneous girlfriend was turning 32 and wanted to do something different for her birthday. She sent out an email to a group of friends encouraging all of us to sign up for the PedalPub [on a Thursday night]. The cost would only be $20 per person for two hours of pedaling around Minneapolis. I had heard of the PedalPub but never spent time looking into it until her birthday. There were 16 of us who filled the seats of the PedalPub - not everyone had to pedal! Truthfully, I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time and I was actually sore the next day. The best part: the looks and waves we received from those sitting at restaurants or driving in vehicles beside us. This is a definite must! There are several other routes to choose from. www.pedalpub.com
 
Karl and I enjoy our little adventure on the PedalPub in Nord'East, Minneapolis

Karl and I enjoy our little adventure on the PedalPub in Nord'East, Minneapolis

 
All 16 of us said we'd "do the PedalPub" again!

All 16 of us said we'd "do the PedalPub" again!

 

Sweet suites and firework show at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota

My husband’s friend was coming into town and had tickets for the Twins game and wanted us to go. My husband and I have been to Target Field twice already this year and have loved every minute. So when we were offered a chance to sit in a suite, the word “No” wasn’t even an option. I definitely wasn’t prepared for the awesomeness of the suites. General admission seating is great but from the view to the customer service to the cleanliness, the suites are incredible.
 
I was also able to find out more on the Pepsi Refresh Project. The Twins are competing against other Major League Baseball teams for a $200,000 Pepsi Grant. The Twins want to create a specialty softball field for Courage Center’s Rolling Twins youth softball wheelchair team, which currently plays in the a parking lot and is in desperate need of a “home field”. Check it out here and vote for your favorite idea. Voting ends tomorrow (August 17)!
 
We stayed after for an incredible firework show. As we watched fireworks dance along to music for 15 minutes, I almost felt like I was at the Bellagio in Las Vegas watching the water show! They really put on a great show! The fireworks were after the games on July 2 and August 13.
 
One last note: The 11-year-old little boy who sang the national anthem on Friday, August 13, was incredible...he gave me goose bumps!
 
The Target Field suites are SWEET!

The Target Field suites are SWEET!

 
The view of Target Field from the suites is one you don't want to miss

The view of Target Field from the suites is one you don't want to miss

 
Twice this summer Target Field blasted off an awesome firework display from the top of the "B" Ramp

Twice this summer Target Field blasted off an awesome firework display from the top of the "B" Ramp

 

Basilica Block Party Minneapolis, Minnesota

My husband has a bit of an obsession with music. I honestly don’t know how many CDs he owns (or where he hides them all), and I’m not sure I want to know. His all-time favorite band is Weezer. He is not shy to share that he is actually one of the original Weezer fan club members and is very proud of this.
 
Yes, my husband is one of the original Weezer Fan Club members and is darn proud of it too...

Yes, my husband is one of the original Weezer Fan Club members and is darn proud of it too...

 
When we heard Weezer was coming to the Basilica Block Party, we immediately purchased tickets. The Basilica Block Party was a first for us. We had a wonderful time! We enjoyed walking outside and listening to great music with a drink in hand. Summer never felt so good.
 
Weezer jammed during the Basilica Block Party this summer

Weezer jammed during the Basilica Block Party this summer

A Walk in the Park – Murphy-Hanrehan, Savage, Minnesota

I love the outdoors. I think Minnesota is incredibly beautiful (especially in summer and fall) and has plenty of parks available for those of us who want to break a sweat, get away or simply enjoy nature’s beauty. Our latest discovery has been Murphy-Hanrehan Park in Savage. I enjoyed charging up the steep hills and my husband liked looking for deer and pointing out unique bugs (he's an Eagle Scout...what can I say!). With the amount of lush greens and tall trees at Murphy-Hanrehan, there are many opportunities to scout garden snakes, beautiful butterflies, birds, deer and other critters. It’s a close, quiet break from the busyness of the city. The park offers plenty of trails and is a favorite among bikers!
 
Murphy-Hanrehan Park has plenty of awesome hiking paths and welcomes bikers!

Murphy-Hanrehan Park has plenty of awesome hiking paths and welcomes bikers!

 
What fun activities have you done lately this summer in Minnesota? Any suggestions of places we should try in the coming months?

 

Can Our Dreams Become Reality?

Posted by: Christie Koester Updated: August 8, 2010 - 11:23 AM

Several years ago a professor at University Wisconsin-Whitewater asked her class to write down three to five measurable goals on a piece of paper. The goals could be anything, as long as they were attainable and from the heart – they had to mean something to the student. In short, these were the student’s dreams and they had an entire class period with no interruptions to think about their future.

“What is it you want to become?” the professor asked. “Where do you think you can go?”
 
One by one she placed a small cardboard box on each desk. The students had to write a date five years in the future on the outside of the box in bold, large print. They then had to fold up their goals, throw in a candle and noise maker (accessories for the celebration party) and close the box. They were asked to hold on to the box and open it five years later.
 
It seemed like a silly idea back then but somewhere in the shuffle of moving to Minnesota, my little box came with. It ended up in a bin of stuff I didn’t touch for another few years. Then one weekend out of sheer boredom I started cleaning my closet. I remember being upset that particular day. I was single AGAIN. I couldn’t find anything fun to do and I felt stuck. Poor me. I was tired of my routine – I thought there would be more to life if I moved away from home. What was I doing with my life anyway? And there, at the bottom of my closet stuffed under a pile of shoes and clothes was my little box. I studied the outside, almost forgetting what was inside. I was two years too late! But I still dusted it off and anxiously opened it.
My box of "dreams"

My box of "dreams"

 
I read through all four of my goals and sadly realized I had not reached a single one. I was still single, dating all the wrong guys. I didn’t have any kids. I hadn’t written a book. I was living in Minnesota and not the log cabin in Montana with horses and mountains in the backyard as I had hoped. Something inside me ached. I wanted those goals all the same, maybe even more at that moment. Instead of celebrating and blowing the noise maker, I threw it on the ground. What did I have to celebrate? I had failed.
 
But my professor must have known better. Something happened that day, eight years after I created my dreams and stuffed them in a box. The date written on the box had expired but I certainly hadn’t. Apparently at one point in my life I believed I was capable of making these dreams happen, otherwise I wouldn’t have written them out. What had happened to me along the way?
 
The answer: my dreams got lost. They were always there; they just happened to collect a lot of dust. I was now faced with a choice. My dreams could either sit in a box at the bottom of my closet collecting dust or I could let some light in. Around this time, I was also working at a church. I started getting involved. I traveled to Peru on a Mission Trip with my brother. My eyes were opened. I started signing up for volleyball leagues around Minnesota and formed great friendships. I was traveling to Ireland, Italy and Greece with my new friends, attending happy hours and girl’s night out. I became busy all of a sudden. How did I ever think life was boring? Life felt rich. Good people entered my life. I was writing and traveling the world. I was involving myself in activities. I loved my life and had never been happier.
 
The senior pastor at the time asked if I could stand in front of the church and share my experience with the congregation. He noticed a change in me. He felt there were others out there who could relate. The sermon series was on relationships. I was single – others were in the same boat he promised. I was scared. You can do it, he assured me. Would they laugh at me? Would they think I was desperate?
 
I spoke at all three services embarrassed, anxious and all. I shared my little box story. I had goals and dreams and none of them had come true yet, I admitted to the congregation. But that was okay because l would get there. I was happy. I pledged I wouldn’t give up. Afterwards, members of the church approached me. They could relate! They thanked me, shared hugs and cheered for me.
 
“Your dreams are going to happen! Keep doing what you’re doing!” they said.
 
After I had shared my dreams out loud, they felt closer to reality than I thought. They weren’t stuffed in a little box anymore collecting dust. Life felt more purposeful the more I shared.
 
And shortly after, Mr. Right came walking in to my life. Just like that goal number one had happened. He was different than anyone else. Something special was happening and I was hooked. My next dream: write a book! Today, I’m halfway there. I’m doing this and it feels awesome. Writing has always been fun for me. However, writing an entire book takes on a whole new meaning. My goal is to finish the first draft by November. I’m sharing my dream with you so you can help me get there. Who knows what will happen when I finish. But I do know what would happen if I didn’t try…nothing. And that seems boring. My mission is to continue watching my dreams come true by letting them happen! 
 
Surely, we all have dreams. Some may be collecting dust and some may be so close we can taste them. They might be small or huge, but no matter what they are YOUR dreams. Nobody can take them away but you. And you are capable of making them come true. Try it. I encourage you to share your dreams and vow to make them a reality.
 
What is one dream you have for yourself?

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