Haiku Challenge: SNARKY

Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments below!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

wit can be useful 
snarky is entertaining
unless against me!

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : SNARKY

Let's hear your haiku!






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Haiku Challenge Friday: PASSION

Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments below!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

A Passion Planner;
dirty or most useful tool?
Consider the source!

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : PASSION

Let's hear your haiku!






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How is Your Bucket? How to Win Friends and Influence Other Kids (NPR Michigan Chronicles WVPE 88.1 FM)


I’ve been struggling to find joy lately. I took the Facebook app off of my phone so I could control my exposure to…All The Things. I am staying engaged, I am in the resistance, but I need to keep myself balanced and encouraged.  I look for big ways to make an impact.  I am in groups and I am writing letters and I am making calls.  I marched in a local women’s march.  I am doing what I can to be positive but it is hard and I am often afraid.

Recently on the walk through our neighborhood to school, I was humbled and inspired by my seven year old daughter Portia.  She might pretend she is a ninja instead of unloading the dishwasher the fourth time I ask, but Man! She can deliver a sermon without preaching.

One of her friends, Isabel, was having a crummy day and it was affecting the mood of our little “walking school bus” enough that I just started walking way ahead with a few kids to avoid it all.  I saw that Portia lingered back with Isabel and her father, Lucas, who is one of my favorite people.  I kept going, not wanting to deal with the fray.  I was annoyed and dismissive.  Lucas came up to me and said “Portia is talking about Bucket filling?” I stopped still on the sidewalk.  Tears filled my eyes and I began to explain.

Not too long ago my family was in town to visit my Dad and we attended the Unitarian Church I grew up in.  The children’s moment there consisted of a dear lady named Cathy Duncan reading the book “Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids” By Carol McCloud.  The author talks about how everyone had a desire to be loved and appreciated and we carry around a ‘bucket’ of feelings.  When we make someone else feel good, we fill their “bucket”.  If we are unkind to someone we are dipping into their bucket and taking away their good feelings.  The book said some people try to fill their own bucket by taking from others, but it never, ever works well.  I find that many messages like this given to children are often even better aimed at adults. We need it more!


My daughters talked about being “bucketfillers” for weeks after they heard the story.  They looked for ways to help others, to apply the message.  I talked about it with my mentor and she gave me her copy of the book since her kids had outgrown it.  We thrilled together at the power of this positive concept.  I shared the book with my friend Karyn who leads our church’s Childrens’ Ministry and they liked the message so much they used the entire “Be a Bucketfiller” curriculum for weeks!  Many of us got our buckets filled by the kind words and actions of the kids learning to look for ways to fill other people’s buckets.

So back to the sidewalk.  There I was, supposedly every inch an adult, dismissing a little kid having a hard day.  I wanted to avoid the tantrum, their sad feelings, their littleness. I was guarding myself from it (and besides there was a parent there to deal with her).  My daughter did better.  My daughter engaged her friend with love, distracted her, told her about bucket filling.  As Portia’s kind and patient words lifted Isabel’s heart, I saw at once how effective this is.  We all started telling Isabel nice things about herself.  We told her what we admired.  We told her what we were proud of her for.  We all begin smiling.  We walked together and started telling the other kids in our group how they mattered, how they made us smile, how glad we were to know them. 

We were all lifted up, smiling, energized and full of joy.  Filling each other’s buckets filled our own lumpy and battered buckets.  A little child had to lead us, but she changed the course of our morning.  Instead of dismissing someone’s pain, she worked around it to fill a bucket and changed the world.  Her corner of it, anyway. 




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Haiku Challenge Friday: COFFEE

Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments below!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

The daily adventure
My coffee in microwave
Mom's scavenger hunt

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : COFFEE

Let's hear your haiku!






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Red Long Lasting Lipstick and Dentist Appointment Tangle: Who Wins? News at 11


Can your long-lasting lipstick make it through a dentist appointment? I'm a reasonable woman, I just want everything.  Especially my RED LIPS!  I've tried something new in long lasting lipstick this past week, and I figured if it could last through a dentist appointment at Dental Arts Group here in Valparaiso Indiana, it would be RAVE WORTHY! My two daughters and I all had appointments today for tooth cleaning and X-rays.  Portia crazily can tell you exactly which two teeth she got cavities in (J & K on their mouth map, if you wondered) and I already talked about my awesome Dentist at Dental Arts Group. 
And there was that other time I road tested long lasting lipstick and told the tale about the staying power of  a certain red Lipstain at a dentist appointment...  I forgot my phone today and really wanted to get evidence. Luckily, my dental hygienst Kathy took some quick snaps (AND A SELFIE) to document my (supposedly?) long lasting lipstick during our appointment.  Here is the beginning!


And of course here is a picture with my Heroine who sent the pictures to me!  Kathy....THANK YOU SO MUCH!  She was impressed with my long lasting lipstick and I think she'll be checking Christa out on Facebook!




So I would assume you have been to the dentist: X-rays, scraping, brushing, flossing... lost of rubber gloved fingers rubbing all over my red long lasting lipstick lips.  For 20 minutes or so.  Plus water, spitting, and a paper towel wipe because: Gross.


THIS is my long lasting lipstick AFTER all of that.  AFTER I tell you. 
Go ahead and start talking to my new best friend Christa Plew RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Please tell her about the Dentist Visit Blog Post on long lasting lipstick...she'll know. She isn't pushy, she shared lots of information and I feel good about my long lasting lipstick choice.  The Lipsense lip color is made in the USA and is gluten free which I thought was a dumb claim but someone said folks who cannot have ANY gluten value that.  They don't do animal testing, it's vegan and there is no whale blubber in the stuff. I'm against animal testing so this was a plus.


If you squint you can see one tiny fleck missing.  I threw gloss over the top of my fabulous long lasting lipstick and when on my merry...my VERY MERRY way.  I'm wearing Blu-Red color, if you are curious.  I use Glossy gloss over it but really think I'll prefer the matte. You can combine the colors to make your own custom color too...crazy eh?  But it makes sense...LIPSENSE!  Bwahahaha I am hilarious.



Below are pictures from the past week of wearing this new magical lip color.  I only have the red.  I do use the OOPs remover to get it off, tho I believe my Norwex makeup cloth would do it too.  (Another CRAZY thing that works so well...and I'd been a cynic.)








I want you to see it did  rub off on my waterline, this will happen with deep colors after eating oily food...or in the afternoon at least.  I just reapply to the blank space.  No biggie.  

The magic I have discovered is LIPSENSE long lasting lipstick.   (Well they call it lip color since it isn't a lip stain or lipstick).  Never mind about the selling points....trying it, wearing it to the dentist....proves for me I have at long last found what I want in lip color.  I have my red.  It doesn't smear or rub off.  Even at THE DENTIST!!!!!!!  I got all of my pesky questions answered by Christa Williams Plew who sells it.  

My girlfriend Holly mentioned this expensive but crazy longer lasting lipstick called Lipsense a few months ago.  (Christy is her lovely sister in law!)I'm thrilled with Lipsense lip color and hope you will get a kick out of this post.  I hope to save you a few months too, since I balked at the price.  I didn't think it would work on me since EVERY OTHER LONGWEAR splits off and chunks off and is gross and still gets on my drink glass. I'm ecstatic to be wrong.   Christa posts all sorts of fun videos  showing the lip colors range of awesomeness.  

I doubt if I will get freebies from her, I am not posting expecting anything...I simply wanted to solve this problem for anyone like me who wants to kiss folks, drink things, and smile while feeling they look their best and not having to worry about their lips!  I'd love to know what you think, what works for you, and any other non spam comment you might have!

THANK YOU for reading my blog!  I'm grateful for your time.


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Dear Little Unitarian Girl Told about Burning Fiery Hell by Christians

I am so sorry.  Sweet ten year old child, I am so sorry.  I heard from your Unitarian Church Sunday School teacher that your were sad and scared and confused by some things other kids at your school told you.  They said if you didn't believe in Jesus you were going to a fiery hell.  You were sharing this during Sunday School and were not sure what to think.   Your Sunday School teacher wasn't sure what to think.  Or what to say.  I am: I know what to say.

I am so sorry.  I do not know your name and I dislike the rampant blog posts with the "Dear Random Person" titles but I needed to share with you, and anyone else who is told they are going to hell, that I am so sorry your were told about Jesus like this.  It is wrong.  I have not died, and I am not sure about Heaven or Hell, but may I please tell you what I know as a woman who is a Christian?  May I tell you some things, Sweet Girl?
Akiane's Prince of Peace Portrait of Jesus ( painted by 8 yr old child of atheists who had never seen a pic or heard of Jesus but met Him in visions and dreams)

I believe there is a God who made us and loves us.  Every. single. one of us. You may choose not to believe this and I will still think you are a wonderful person full of light and joy.  We can talk about it or not talk about it, but I will respect our difference of opinion and enjoy you just as much.  

I believe love wins.  When any person of any age acts kindly and gently towards another person, they win, even if it is hard to tell from the outcome.  Acting out of love and kindness makes you a winner every. single. time.  The opposite is also true: acting out of anger, jealousy, fear or hatred makes that person lose.   It is always a bad choice, it does not make the person a bad person, but they do lose.  Every time. Only LOVE WINS.

I believe we are all learning all the time.  No one can know all things, no matter how educated or old that person is.  The bible says lots of things and church people say lots of things and most of it will not match up at all to the truth.  Each of us needs to learn all we can about all the things we can, and then listen to that soft, small voice of God to help us discern our path and choices.  I would encourage you to read the Bible in an engaging translation like NIV or NLT or the Messsage, other religious texts, and pay attention to everything in school.  You decide your own life path.  You choose your own spiritual path.  And noone knows everything.  Someday, when our lives are over, we will know the truth. 

You are precious, and you matter, and I am sorry about the Christians.





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Haiku Challenge: WEEDS


Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments below!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

Every year I wail
Weeds have overtaken me
why can't I use Preen?

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : WEEDS

Let's hear your haiku!






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Tips for Personal Peace from Catherine Ashton of Younique Yoga of NWI

I first met Catherine Ashton when she spoke at a Healthy Living  workshop called Healthy U" in Merrillville Indiana.  I shared this experience (and my Fashionista faux paux) thanks to Project Runway's Nick Verreos who gave a talk on women and fashion here.  

The other workshops I was interested in (Sugar Detox, Simplify & Organize Your Life & Home) all had the same speaker:  Catherine Ashton of Sacred Spaces Interiors.  I only got to attend two of her sessions but I was hooked.  I still have the card she handed out with simple steps listed on it hanging by my desk.  I wanted more of her and so we began a lazy series of phone tag and email efforts and thus, this a post two years in the making...so ENJOY!

Catherine Ashton is a therapist in training but is a practicing artist for the past 28 years.  Her passion for Yoga, health & wellness moved her from a hospital administration job to seeing clients & teaching yoga.  Catherine wanted more a creative path, she wanted less, and she wanted to simplify her life.

When I caught up with Catherine again last year for this interview, she is teaching yoga in Chicago full time and it has blossomed as a business for her. She still does private practice with women offering hypo therapy and yoga psychology.

I wanted more of what I saw in the workshop, so I asked her some questions and these are my favorite thoughts from that conversation.

"We can be blessed and happy at the same time."

1) Gratitude is a powerful way of being in the world.  When we are grateful, the whole world changes.    It is hard to be unforgiving and hateful if we are grateful.

2) The other piece of this is we tend to look for external kinds of things to make us happy...house ,job title, the car...but once we get those things we are still not happy and we cannot figure out why.  Money is an exchange in the world.  When we are connected to ourselves and other people we do feel that happiness, that sense of peace and belonging we all want.

Catherine runs a yoga studio and yoga teacher training program called Younique Yoga (www.YouniqueYoga.com).  They now offer classes for HOT YOGA in Valparaiso!  She is the  founder & director of teacher  training   www.JoyfulJivaYoga.org which serves NW Indiana through the south side of Chicago.

Catherine said "Yoga is not restricted to posture or poses, that is only 1/8 of it.  Yoga philosophy is much bigger than that...identifying most things that are important to us.  Identify what is important and letting go of the rest. Yoga is a way of thinking vs. a way of being."


I asked Catherine what brought her into yoga and she said, "I was pregnant and living in California  and started a prenatal yoga class almost 29 years ago."  She said her yoga teacher training focuses on
trauma sensitive issues for womenand healing through yoga practice.


How can a person bring yoga into their life without taking a class?

Attend once a week.  Most people are too distracted at home to do yoga.   Physically doing yoga  is the gateway through the body.    We are not going to challenge ourselves as much as someone else could in a class.  Yoga helps us be stronger,  flexible and more balanced.  It makes our spirit more flexible and balanced too.

I asked Catherine about the Pilates craze, or the PIYO class I tried recently that uses Pilates and Yoga together.  She said Pilates is based on yoga, it was an offshoot, but is predominately fitness based and doesn't focus on the mind body and spirit.  There are different kinds of yoga that are releasing and gentle and then there are others that work you as hard as a Pilates class.

She also said yoga in a studio is different than yoga in a gym.  Both the environment and the focus are different.

A few parting thoughts on living a better life:



  • UNPLUG DAILY for quiet time, prayer, meditation  This is 5-10 minutes of quiet--whatever you want to call--it; sitting in stillness with no sounds,  no distractions.




  • WRITE DOWN YOUR GRATITUDE.  Every day list ten to twenty things for which you are grateful.  It really does change your perspective.




  • PRACTICE YOGA. We were made to move and we have to move.


I hope you are able to check this out, meet Catherine and let me know how YOU were affected for the better.  

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P.S. My apologies  to Catherine as our meeting, the interview and and at long last this post have allowed much time to elapse.  Forgive any possible errors.

Bodacious Blog of the Week: Mr. Money Moustache

OMG I am in an awesome group I need to post about LATER, Nerd Fitness Rising Heroes, but for now let me say I challenged myself this morning.  I posted on the FB pages for the Rising Heroes group, asking them to help me stay accountable to ride my bike instead of driving ALL. THE. TIME. One innocent post change my whole day but mentioning Mr. Money Mustache and how often he talks about saving money thought bike riding instead of driving.  I've barely even singed up to be a cult member yet you MUST KNOW ABOUT THIS!  He is preaching to our Novak Family Choir.  We live WELL, we rarely fight about money, we cut some corners and we avoid debt.  Sometime I need to be reminded WHY, and this Mr. Money Mustache site just did that for me in spades.  I am so encouraged and fired up and STOKED.   I hope you feel the same.


Mr. Money Mustache ala TWITTER


This article on "Killing Your $1,000 Grocery Bill" got my attention this money, as I prepare to head out on my bike with trailer to grocery shop today.


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3 Tips on Saving Money: Princess on a Budget

Do you struggle to teach your kids the value of money?  Do your kids want All The Things All The Time?  Do they have a hard time paying for that $70 Hatchimal on their $3 weekly allowance?   Do you hit resale shops and garage sales to ease the cost of outfitting children who change sizes ever four minutes?  I'm lucky to have two daughters who can share hand me downs from their cousin and other friends, and they stair step even those clothes.  I still buy some shiny things from Target or similar, but I do work to teach my kids the value of money and to my family clothing costs low.  



Here are three simple tips to help teach your kids the value of money:

1)I cut costs with holiday dresses: I never buy the sparkly chiffon tulle extravaganzas.  I buy lovely dresses they can wear in regular rotation. They get something new for the holiday and I stretch the budget.  I have bought fancier dresses second hand, being mindful that they could be worn again.  We sometimes get fancy dresses handed down or as gifts and they love that.

2) I only keep about two weeks worth of clothes for each girl.  You know, a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe! I figure the clothes we hold on to "just in case" could be someone else's mainstay.  I know for me, holding on to excess needed to stop for many reasons.  One perk of limiting the sheer quantity of clothing my little ones own is LESS LAUNDRY!  It becomes much more motivating to get the laundry cycle finished when the drawers are empty or they have to be painfully creative when putting their outfits together.  (Sports t-shirt with tulle skirt, anyone?)This also helps teach your kids the value of money because they have to take better care of their clothes so they last longer.

3) My BEST stroke of genius in clothing has been sheer Bribery.  We were at Kohl's for winter coats and snow pants when I made Libby an offer she couldn't refuse: If she agreed to take Portia's coat from last year, I would buy her a toy under $20 right then and there.  Sure she didn't get the shiny new coat and snow pants($50!), but we both won and she got something after all. It helped me teach both kids the value of money through choices.

This month the school has a Fairytale Character Ball for the 2nd grade and families are invited to attend in costume! SQUEEEE!  After much tossing through our old outgrown and torn costumes from the past seven years, Portia wanted to be Belle and Libby wanted to be Briar Rose.  Both wanted sparkly new dresses.  As we looked at stores and I searched online, my pursestrings loosened and I actually went to the Disney Store.  I spent $60 on the Belle Dress and at Penney's I spend $36 on the Sleeping Beauty Dress.  It hurt, but I'm just practicing for prom right?  I was anxious about spending so much money on play dresses, but the look on their faces trying them on...well I want girls to feel like that always.

But then.

Then I tried the bribe.  I told them I would pay them each $20 to let me return the dresses and wear a costume we already had.  We assessed the repairs needed, length, sparkle, and both girls took me up on the offer.  I get about $60 back and my daughters have a chunk of money they rarely see all at once.  We all learned the value of making do with what we have.  

This lesson is more tangible because they HAD the dresses.  They put them on.  The dresses hung in their rooms overnight.  They tasted the glory of a new dress and decided they would rather spend the money elsewhere!  I consider this a huge win for all of us, one that we can harken back to in the future.  Living simply is a journey and this was a wonderful moment for all of us.  Even a Princess can budget!


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Always Be Prepared: NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary with Michiana Chronicles

Prepper Much? Emergency preparedness and post apocalyptic society collide in my otherwise normal life. Listen in as I share my plans to cope with our uncertain World Political Climate with humor and diced tomatoes in this National Public Radio Bit "Aways Be Prepared".  

Listen to or read this latest NPR piece By Clicking HERE!


Find out more about the book I mention: https://stevenkonkoly.com/category/the-jakarta-pandemic

Lear more about preparing your family for emergency by Clicking HERE.

Running Music AKA Music I Don't Want my Daughters to Like

NOTE:  I wrote this eons ago, did it for NPR, and cannot find it on my own blog!  ENJOY!

“Running Music’ By Heather Curlee-Novak


I started running several years ago to distract myself from a broken heart and to quit smoking.  I hated it.  I did about eight 5K races with my Father who has been a three-miles-once-a-week runner for decades. Then I quit.  I was happy once again.

In the past few years I married my own Personal Prince Charming and have given birth to our precious first child.  Our lives have never been the same.  My body is not the same either...so I decided to try running again. In about a month I was able to get up to a slow plodding run interspersed with lots of walking, as usual.  I found regular weekly running partners: our baby Portia in a jogging stroller, my Hot Mama friend Tracy on Wednesdays and of course dear old Dad on Monday or Friday. 

I have been running longer and better than four years and thirty pounds ago thanks to the maturing process of parenthood, good running partners and my Ipod.  The Ipod helps by distracting me from my agony and energizing me with wild happy songs just when I’m ready to give up and eat more french fries.  I also have the cool Nike Plus attachment that tracks all my runs in pretty graphs with stats that keep me motivated to go out one more time. I sometimes miss a run with my Dad or Tracy, but the Ipod is my constant running partner, I won’t go out without it.  Really. 

I was out with my Dad and my Ipod for a longer run and breathlessly mouthing the words to a favorite song in a quiet moment.  My Dad said “WHAT?”  and I realized what I had sung- “I’m a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie world, I’m plastic, its fantastic”  Funny happy words from a random song on my playlist.  I like happy sexy songs to keep my tired sweaty body on task...I am running to be healthier, sure, but above all to be thinner, sexier and to feel good about how I look. It may not be the highest goal in my life, but it is authentic!  Later on I was singing about “bringing sexy back”  and once again Dad stares at me and comments on the words. This is the man who takes me to Chicago operas, who likes classical music, NPR, and old style country.  Pop music is an alien world to him, and as I usually listen to NPR and Christian music, he is surprised at my play list.

I try to explain to him how the music gets me going and how I know the lyrics are vapid and hardly worth listening to let alone picking up as a daily mantra, but he doesn’t understand.  He asks, “Do you want your daughter to listen to this junk?”  I do have to think about that one.  I have already begun reframing my language, both foul and self flagellating, so that when she actually understands words I am giving her the best role model I can summon up.  I want her to know she is beautiful, captivating and valuable just as she is, whoever she is.  I want her to be confident, kind and love others well. 

I know the world may send her a different message. The struggle we women have with body image is an old dragon that never seems to be vanquished.  We can know the truth of our beauty in our hearts and then turn on the TV or open a magazine and question our value all over again.  We can have thin thighs in college but think they are enormous, not realizing the truth until our thirties when we learn the meaning of ...well, never mind.


Body image can be a real challenge for women and I certainly do not mean to perpetuate it by my running playlist.  How do I appreciate the lyrics for what they are without letting them affect me in the negative?  How do I protect and shape my daughters’ view of herself in a healthy way as she grows into a young woman?  Honestly, I don’t know.  I think that is a process that will take a long time.  But I do know that “I’m a Barbie Girl”  and Brittany Spear’s “Womanizer” help me run faster.  They help me run longer.  They bring me joy for what they are; silly upbeat dance songs that do not act as a moral guide for my life but keep my feet moving and my sweat pouring and my healthy beautiful mama’s body running.  I am happy once again.