Dopamine Detox? No, Content Cleanse.

Have you heard about Dopamine Detoxes? Similar phrases such as Dopamine Fasting and Digital Detox have been used too. I see these as a bit of a myth. Essentially, this idea has gained popularity through YouTube and Social Media. Influencers, popular people on the socials, ‘quit’ social media for a week, or month. It might also include stopping activities such as listening to music, eating addictive foods, and gaming. Why am I talking about it? Because I believe they are going about it all wrong when it comes to social media. Let’s get into it.

I recently watched a popular YouTuber talk about his Dopamine Detox. He documents his days ditching his favorite dopamine addictions. Social media. Chocolate. Music. Then describes his feelings each day and how he fills the voids. I find his method fascinating and seems to work really well…for him. 

But Ronnie, we thought you were going to debunk this myth. 

Oh yes, right. Sorry, his fascinating video editing skills hypnotized me for a moment. His artistry seems to have worked on many others too as he has reached nearly 5.5 million views on this video alone. He actually goes into detail, in a different vlog, about the $$$ he made last year and credits quite a bit to this video. The detox sounds great, and doable, however I would be curious where those habits are right now for him. Truthfully. And really, for the many others that have done the same. I would imagine some got worse after the detox, most probably stayed the same, and very few stayed the course. Why? Because you are only changing the habit temporarily in hopes that it sticks moving forward. 

Detoxes have been used for a long time with eating habits, and the Mayo Clinic shares, “Detoxification (detox) diets are popular, but there is little evidence that they eliminate toxins from your body.” We can assume if one tried to detox from social media, the need to be there, to share, or to consume will still push the participant to be on social media. The Mayo Clinic goes on to state, “If you do choose to do a detox diet, you may want to use it as a way to jump-start making healthier food choices going forward every day.” If you try to detox from social media, junk food, gaming, and other addictive habits, don’t set yourself up for failure by detoxing for a specific amount of time. Instead, set a goal for where you want to be, and begin ‘cleansing’ your habits. For social media specifically, cleanse your feed.

For me, I have found that boredom, or the need to change what I am doing, leads to me jumping on social media. Even if it is to jump into the app for 2 minutes. You know, similar to taking that shot of whiskey, or a quick drag or two of a cigarette, maybe a bite of that brownie, or a quick level up in your favorite gaming app. You may be asking now, wait…what did you mean by cleansing your habits, Ronnie? 

Let’s start very small here. I will continue to share this concept moving forward in future posts, and hopefully you will join me on the journey, as we grow the cleansing process into our daily ritual. This list is very short. Just one item. This is for a reason.

Change our attention. 

The main reason why I start here is because as a digital marketer by profession, I know all too well that attention is what everyone values. I often teach my students that when doing an analysis on a business and their competitors, the competition is not just those similar in product offerings (e.g. pizza restaurants). On a channel like social media, every person and business on that chosen platform is competing with each other. Why? A social media user is not there to just consume information from a pizza restaurant, they are there to see everything on their feed. This means everyone and everything they follow is competing against each other for their attention. From the family member that posts too much, to the kids school updates, and those darn funny dad joke profiles. All of it.

What does that mean for us? We give it to them. Our attention. We will scroll the feed, sometimes mindlessly. We might stop when see something we have already seen before, which could be minutes to hours of thumb exercises. We will scroll the feed until it says there is nothing new to view, yet we keep scrolling to view profiles we don’t follow. We will scroll until the platform employee pops up in the video and lets us know we have been on the platform for quite some time. We push the limits because we are comfortable and want to escape our personal reality. We don’t want to miss a thing, do we? 

Getting back to the first item of our list, the cleanse. We must control and change our attention. It will be hard…yet it is quite simple. Change what you give your attention to. Find alternatives for when you go to reach for your device, or sign in on your computer. Do a simple exercise. Take a walk. Stand and stretch. Talk to someone near you. Doodle on paper. Charge your mouse. Push yourself even further by meditating. Doing some yoga. Going for a run. Preparing meals. You see where I am going. Let’s be more intentional with our time. As we get older, do we want to look back and regret all the time we spent on social media when we could have been doing other things?

A cleanse, rather than a detox, allows you to still find ways to utilize social media in useful ways, in a healthy way. 

What do you think?

Predictions are Meh [Short Track]

* ‘Short Tracks’ are brief thoughts on a topic to seek feedback, or conversation, from our community. *

Prediction, as defined by the dictionary, is a forecast and as we know, a weather or budget forecast is never perfect. Yet, synonyms include words such as prophecy. Of late, especially in my field of knowledge which is marketing, predictions have become popular to make. It always happens at the end of a year, or the start of a new one. It is trendy for “experts” to make predictions. However, those predictions never seem to be far-fetched…enough, nor stretched…over a period of time. They are simply for the year ahead. Boring. I can make a weather forecast too. It will be cold in the winter, warmer in the spring, hotter during the summer, with a cool down in the fall. This makes predictions meaningless, even dull, in my opinion. Anyone can see what might come in the current year. Ideas such as the growth of the metaverse (I imagine my voice in a billowing echo saying metaverse), inclusion of privacy in digital platforms, and [insert a popular topic] will not be the same are, well, common sense. Right? And no one can predict the unknown (see COVID-19). Some of you will find a prediction that will work for that though.

Predictions by well known futurists, oracles, prophets, or soothsayers are only construed to fit the occasional coincidence. Humans such as Nostradamus or Carl Sagan have quotes that are merely memes in our time which give bloggers and media something to talk about. So, I leave you with this. Rely not on the predictions of the future. Believe in the truths that are in front of you. Each choice you make now, continue to steer your path moving forward…into the [your] unpredictable future. 

Thoughts? Share with us on Facebook.

Here’s to Dads!

Dads. They’re great for laughs, learning, and often puns. June is wrapping up and it’s a great month to celebrate all father figures! All three authors at Start of the Trail were busy celebrating Father’s Day a few weeks ago. We thought it would great to share the memories we have of the dads in our lives. Did you know that Father’s Day was not a nationwide holiday until 1972? I did not know this until recently.

Enjoy our Father’s Day edition of the blog with some special guest contributors on the podcast.

Here's to Dads! Start of the Trail

By Jessica Norwood, Molly Schroeder, and Ronnie Coyle Dads. They're great for laughs, learning, and often puns. June is wrapping up and it's a great month to celebrate all father figures! All three authors at Start of the Trail were busy celebrating Father's Day a few weeks ago. We thought it would great to share the memories we have of the dads in our lives. Did you know that Father's Day was not a nationwide holiday until 1972? I did not know this until recently. Enjoy our Father's Day edition of the blog with some special guest contributors on the podcast. — Send in a voice message:
  1. Here's to Dads!
  2. What is on Your Summer Playlist?
  3. Me-er than Me
Jessica Norwood

It’s fun to celebrate dads this time of year (and of course the rest of the year). I remember celebrating with my dad and grandpa in Milwaukee which always involved games, a picnic table of food, and a grill. Such fun memories.

I’ve learned many things from my dad, often involving building things. Dad used to build things for us to play with. I most remember the doll changing table with a shelf and sliding doors to store everything. We used that all the time. In fact, I have it in our house now! I am also pretty sure my love of gardening came from watching dad garden when I was younger. I remember sneaking in the garden to pick pea pods. Most of memories involved being outside and it’s still one of my places to be!

Both of my parents have a love for music, but my love for 50s and 60s music come from dad. One of my favorite things was our car rides to Milwaukee and listening to the “Oldies” station. Until middle school that was the only music I knew and it is the best. Dad, I’m going to admit that listening to jazz music in the car on Sunday mornings used to drive us nuts, but I totally get it now. I chuckled the first time I put on jazz in the car, knowing how I was when I was younger. Gosh there are so many other memories to talk about. I’m excited that you are in the retirement stage of your life so that you can have more time to do the fun things you’ve always enjoyed.

I also get a bonus dad! My stepdad has been in our lives for quite some time. I will never get sick of hearing stories about growing up in Kentucky and the crazy antics that ensued. How you survived your childhood is still a mystery to all of us, haha. Regardless of the day, you always have a smile on your face!

Today I get to celebrate not only with my dads, but with the kids and their dad. I thought it would be great to let the boys join in and talk about their favorite things about their dad and grandpas. Please welcome Cameron, Kellen, and Marcus as guests on our podcast!

Molly Schroeder

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads! Even those dads who have been trying to be a dad, to those dads in heaven, to those dads who have lost a child, to the stepdads and the role models that have stepped into the dad role. We are all thinking of you too!  Also, Happy Father’s Day to the fur baby dads.

I have to give a special Father’s Day shout-out to my dad, Mark. He is truly an amazing man with a heart of gold. He’s doesn’t even bat an eyelash when someone asks for help. He will show up with all the tools he thinks you might need, and some, plus, he will bring snacks. 

I can’t even count all the times I have called my dad at the last minute for help and for all of those times thank you, thank you, thank you! My dad is the most dependable and selfless person I have ever meet. For that reason, I am so lucky to call my dad one of my best friends.

I was his co-pilot as we drove across the country to help my older sister and her family move back home to Wisconsin! When I was younger we use to have secret Hardee’s dinners down by the water and he would throw away all the evidence at work the next day, so my mom and brother never knew. On my first airplane ride at the age of 22, my dad held my hand at take-off and didn’t get mad when I gripped his arm so tight when we landed. He has attended countless soccer games and basketball tournaments throughout the years and he even let my elementary school friends car chalk his beloved suburban! As if all of those memories didn’t show how much my dad cares and how amazing he is, we finally crossed a trip off our bucket lists when he met me on the other side of the world to explore the Emerald Isles like we always talked about when I was a kid.

My dad has also been there for me when I needed him the most, like when he let me move home for a little while to help me get back on my feet, and has been to so many doctor’s appointments and specialists since the beginning of my heart journey, he knows more about my medical history then I do. Plus, he always makes sure everyone’s favorite drinks and snacks are fully stocked in the fridge. I have always looked up to my dad and I’m grateful that I have inherited his love for Irish Whiskey, being outside, and being able to find beauty in all the little things of our every day. He’s always the first person I call when I have some free time to see if he is up for a fire, has time for a quick cold one, or if he is just up for a chat. 

My dad is also a star. Not only in my eyes, but he did star in a Pabst Super Bowl Commercial back in the ’70s and was a part of the Actor’s Guild. He still has his membership card. So it’s not an uncommon occurrence when talking to my dad that one will hear, “You know, it pays to drink.” This comment is normally followed by his commercial story (which is one of my favorites!). I guess I was destined to work in the alcohol industry and follow in the footsteps of my father.

He loves to explore and try new things. My dad is always the first one willing to sample any type of wine, hard cider, craft beer, pickled meats, and all types of foreign cuisine. While sometimes, he falls in love with drinks and foods that I will never agree to even sample, like pickled gizzards, some weird on-sale liquor that doesn’t look like it good for your stomach, jalapeno spam, and he brought home pickled pig’s feet once. No thank you, sir, those are all yours. With his weird taste buds aside, I have learned so much from my dad. Not only how to be adventurous, but also how to find the positive in every situation and always find the best in people.

So thank you Dad for being my dad and loving me to the moon and back since day one! I’m excited to see where our next adventures take us and make even more memories with you in the future!  Cheers to you Dad and all the other Dad’s out there!

Ronnie Coyle

September 20, 2010. That was the day I went from making memories with, to holding onto memories of, my dad. 

After beating cancer four times over a 14 year period, I was certain he would live a long life because nothing would defeat him. Call it resiliency, or stubbornness. I know what many would say that knew my dad. Unfortunate events led to losing him. There is not a day that goes by I don’t think about him. Actually, one thing that is a consistent reminder of our relationship is seeing a hawk. So, I love the summer even more for this reason because hawks are everywhere. Also, recently a pair of hawks have nested in a tree two houses down from ours. They are red-tailed hawks, one of my favorite. It is fun to see them flying around the house and hearing their scream when a blackbird feels the need to annoy them. I got ‘cha dad, I know you are still with me. 

Many years ago I wrote a poem to my dad, or as I often called him Daddio, and as with anything else I have made some changes. Here is my new poem to dad for Father’s Day.

“One of my favorite things about you was your quirky dance moves.

Maybe it was ‘Old Time Rock & Roll, Abracadabra, Maneater, Down Under, or anything from Tina Turner’

I could count on you to make some sort of slow robotic movement to the beat of the song.

You would also make the funniest facial gestures, similar to the photo with this poem.

I have no doubt carried on your traditions when it comes to dancing and making faces.

By the way, I am making a playlist for you, with 10 songs so far and many more to go.

I am thinking about calling it, ‘Daddio’s got some dance moves’. Lol.

We use to always talk about sports, and I sure wish we could talk about my boys.

They are even better than I ever was, and I know you enjoyed watching me play.

I do know you always have the best seat in the house, keep an eye on ‘em.

Before I make this poem too long, I leave you with this.

If there was something I could do to give you the biggest damn hug right now, I would.

Daddio, I love and miss you.”

We hope you enjoyed our stories. Thanks to Ronnie and Molly (and our guest contributors) for joining me this week. I would love for you to share your favorite story or memory on Facebook or in the comments. Have a good pun? We love those too!

What is on Your Summer Playlist?

Music changes everything. It helps us in stressful moments. It keeps us moving during a workout. It can motivate us for the game. Did you know it can also make you smarter and help with memory? Let’s play that music then! Music can help you make an entrance, right Jessica? It can help us relax. It can help you through your workday. Music says a lot about who we are, or what we might be experiencing at the moment. Couldn’t we even say that music is life? Jessica, Molly, and Ronnie think so and we want to provide some of our favorite music for your summer playlist. Jessica starts us off with an eclectic mix.

Here's to Dads! Start of the Trail

By Jessica Norwood, Molly Schroeder, and Ronnie Coyle Dads. They're great for laughs, learning, and often puns. June is wrapping up and it's a great month to celebrate all father figures! All three authors at Start of the Trail were busy celebrating Father's Day a few weeks ago. We thought it would great to share the memories we have of the dads in our lives. Did you know that Father's Day was not a nationwide holiday until 1972? I did not know this until recently. Enjoy our Father's Day edition of the blog with some special guest contributors on the podcast. — Send in a voice message:
  1. Here's to Dads!
  2. What is on Your Summer Playlist?
  3. Me-er than Me
  4. How To Be The Perfect Wedding Guest
  5. Thank You, Mom!
Jessica Norwood

Nothing beats a good road trip. There’s something about the adventure and seeing something new that is so exciting. My first car was a boat of a car, an ’86 Grand Prix almost as old as I was named Billy Bob. My favorite thing to do was to blast music and drive, anywhere, with the windows rolled down (unlike now they actually had to be rolled down). It was needed because the air only worked half the time, ha! I had a playlist on my 1st gen iPod called “Aw, I love that song.” Every time I heard a song and said, “Aw, I love that song,” it was added to the list.

Music has always been a big part of my life. My taste in music includes anything BUT country and heavy metal. I like a variety of music from Weird Al to John Coltrane. I grew up listening to 50s and 60s music, mainly because it was the one thing our entire family could agree on. Nothing beats Motown. It will forever be my go-to music! On our road trip out to the Dakotas and Wyoming two years ago, we spent a lot of time creating our road trip playlist. More than I care to admit. It still gets used whenever we are traveling beyond the city. For this post I took to that list and came up with my top 10 summer playlist (road trip) songs in no particular order.

Jessica’s Top 10 playlist songs

  1. The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson
  2. Mr. Jones – Counting Crows
  3. Twist and Shout – Beatles
  4. Geronimo – Sheppard
  5. Albuquerque – “Weird Al” Yankovic
  6. Give a Little – Hanson
  7. Build Me Up Buttercup – The Foundations (one of my favorite songs ever)
  8. Get Up Offa That Thing – James Brown
  9. Home – Marc Broussard
  10. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond (loved by all in our house of baseball fans)

You have no idea how hard it was to narrow the list down to ten. I concurred with the boys on this list because I couldn’t decide. Now Molly, I’m sure you have some great recommendations. I have Spotify up, ready to add more songs to our playlist.

Molly Schroeder

My summer playlist is something I take seriously. I try to keep it to a max of 25 songs of what I feel will be the soundtrack to my summer. The biggest criteria is that they all have to be songs that I feel the need to belt out while I’m driving with all the windows open. If the songs don’t give me the instant sensation to sing along then, it will not make the list.

Below are the top 10 songs of my 2021 Summer Playlist:

I feel that I have a great mix of almost all of my favorite musical genres. I am missing an Irish Folk song in the top 10, but you bet your bottom dollar that Irish Rover and Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl is on the list. Also, just for clarify, I Hope It Rains by Jana Kramer is not aimed towards any wedding that I am attending or standing up in. I just think the song is very catchy. Plus, I have encountered a few bridezillas in my service industry days in Door County, so this song is dedicated to those not-so-nice people I may encounter throughout the summer.

Ronnie Coyle

Wow, great songs Jessica and Molly. There are a couple I don’t recognize and I definitely need to check them out.

Music. There isn’t much time that passes where I am not listening to music. My family absolutely loves having some tunes playing on the Google Home or in the car. Depending on who is around, and what the activity is, will have its own playlist, of course. You would not know this, but I still like to drive with the windows down and bass bumping. The difference is I no longer drive that beautiful 1988 white Camaro with the two 12’s and amp in the back trunk well. I do miss that ride. Now I stick to factory speakers and adjusting the equalizer, lol. In the house though, I do have a nice subwoofer connected to my computer so I have been known to drop the bass when the fam isn’t around.

When working through different playlists I listen to, it was interesting to think what I would include on a summer playlist. Do I go family-oriented? Maybe a little more grown-up? Is it road warrior time? Or maybe sit on the porch with a sweet iced tea? Typically, I would turn on an artist or general decade playlist on Spotify and let it shuffle. You know, like “This is Queen” or “80s Hits”. So, to help guide my mood in selecting a playlist, I actually take us back to those summer days of the 90’s. For me, I was driving the Camaro around town with the windows down, sunglasses and tank top on with my ballcap backwards, and license plate rattling from the bass. Those were the days. Anyways, without further ado, here are 110 songs, about 7 hours and 30 minutes of nineties goodness presented by POPSUGARs 90’s Summer Jams playlist. Let’s go.

From Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” to “Around the World” by Daft Punk, we had a little bit of everything in these playlists. We hope you enjoyed this collaborative post by our three authors, and we would love to also hear about your favorites. Do you have a playlist you could share? Drop it in the comments below, or consider commenting on the post on Facebook.

Be safe. Have fun. Enjoy your summer. And move your groove thing.

Me-er than Me

This past weekend I turned 29…for the tenth year in a row. I love birthdays, but being the center of attention is a lot of pressure, ha ha. 

I must be honest, this journey of starting a blog and writing thoughts, experiences, and feelings has been an adjustment. I have this insecurity talking about myself. I don’t want it to be all about “me”. What I have learned is that it is OK to talk about myself (there, I said it!). My hope is that talking about the things I have learned or overcome can help someone in a similar scenario, from health struggles to gardening tips. I’m coming around to this process.

Continue reading “Me-er than Me”

How To Be The Perfect Wedding Guest

In the past six years, I have been lucky enough to attend over thirty weddings with even more to come. 2020 put a hiatus on our wedding fun, but we are picking up right where we left off with five weddings this year. While I have never had my own wedding, I have been blessed to stand up in five weddings and have been the maid of honor in three of them. This includes the two weddings that I will be standing up in, in September. Yes two weddings in one month, actually two weddings in one weekend! It’s going to be a great weekend full of love, laughs, and tons of dancing, but that’s a story for another time. While weddings happen all year round, according to the true wedding season is June to September. That means that wedding season is just around the corner. I wanted to make sure you knew how to be the perfect wedding guest this year and drop my perfect wedding guest knowledge on you. 

Here's to Dads! Start of the Trail

By Jessica Norwood, Molly Schroeder, and Ronnie Coyle Dads. They're great for laughs, learning, and often puns. June is wrapping up and it's a great month to celebrate all father figures! All three authors at Start of the Trail were busy celebrating Father's Day a few weeks ago. We thought it would great to share the memories we have of the dads in our lives. Did you know that Father's Day was not a nationwide holiday until 1972? I did not know this until recently. Enjoy our Father's Day edition of the blog with some special guest contributors on the podcast. — Send in a voice message:
  1. Here's to Dads!
  2. What is on Your Summer Playlist?
  3. Me-er than Me
  4. How To Be The Perfect Wedding Guest
  5. Thank You, Mom!


As much as you want to capture the beautiful bride walking down the aisle, the adorable flower girl, or the look of awe on the groom’s face, please, please, PLEASE, put your phone down. The bride and groom have paid someone A LOT of money to capture all of those photos for them. The last thing they need is your cellphone or iPad in the aisle ruining the shot of their first kiss. Photographers are trained and paid for their talent and masterful artistry in getting the right shots. I have been to a wedding where someone was standing next to the photographer trying to get the same shot with their phone. Just leave your phone in your pocket or purse until the I do’s and kissing is over. Once you leave the ceremony, go crazy. Take your selfies with the happy couple and those friends you haven’t seen in forever. Heck, get the fun candid shots after the photographer has gone home, but for the love of Pete, put your phone away at the ceremony. 

#2: Take The Crying Babies Outside

Everyone loves babies and babies dressed in adorable suits and cute dresses always make our hearts melt. But when those cute little babies are hungry or angry, please take them outside or in the cry room. While babies are adorable, they aren’t the best at being quiet and can put a damper on the ceremony.

#3: Pace Yourself

After the ceremony, you might be lucky enough to be on the bridal party bus, or hit up a few bars with your friends before you make it to the reception. Drinks will be served and fun will be had. Plus, at most weddings, there is some sort of cocktail hour and open bar. Remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, to get you to the end of the night. Please, don’t empty your sober tank before the mother and son or father and daughter dance. If you do, you will probably win the worst wedding guest award, not something to brag about. 

#4: Let The Speakers Speak 

We all know that the parents are going to tell a sweet story about the bride and groom and the maid of honor is going to cry even though she said she wasn’t going to, plus the best man is going to tell at least one joke that no one finds funny. But it’s just plain rude not to listen. One wedding we went to the microphones were failing and the brides father had to yell his speach. The people we were sitting with didn’t care at all, they were more focused on their drinks and were talking so loud. They made it impossible for anyone in our section of the reception to hear what the father of the bride was saying. I felt horrible for the family, as that special moment was ruined. Don’t be those people. Please! 

#5: Just Dance

This also means have fun. The bride and groom asked you to be a part of their special day for a reason. They spent a lot of time and money to make sure they could throw the best party ever. That means pack your dancing shoes. Seriously though, bring an extra pair of shoes for you to dance the night away. This way you can bust a move to your favorite songs with the right amount of feet grip and you won’t be slipping around barefoot walking in everyone’s spilled drinks. I have a pair of converse that have become my wedding reception shoes, that I leave in my car until it’s the right time of the night. Plus, the happy couple and their families want to make memories that will last a lifetime, and that includes everyone dancing and having fun! 

As you get ready to attend your next wedding, remember these tips for being the perfect wedding guest. The bride and groom will forever be thankful that you were able to share their special day and you tried your best to make it as special as they are. Oh, and don’t forget to pack your dancing shoes! 

Thank You, Mom!

“To the world, you are a mother. To your family, you are the world.”

I was going to start off this post by stating the history of moms; however, moms are our history. They are the reason we exist. Not to be debated with people’s beliefs of existence, just stating a fact we come into this world by way of our mother. While we honor and appreciate our mothers in May, which is more about marketing than anything else, this is my call to give mothers their due at any and all times. Mothers, you rock! Happy Mother’s Day, every day.

Here's to Dads! Start of the Trail

By Jessica Norwood, Molly Schroeder, and Ronnie Coyle Dads. They're great for laughs, learning, and often puns. June is wrapping up and it's a great month to celebrate all father figures! All three authors at Start of the Trail were busy celebrating Father's Day a few weeks ago. We thought it would great to share the memories we have of the dads in our lives. Did you know that Father's Day was not a nationwide holiday until 1972? I did not know this until recently. Enjoy our Father's Day edition of the blog with some special guest contributors on the podcast. — Send in a voice message:
  1. Here's to Dads!
  2. What is on Your Summer Playlist?
  3. Me-er than Me
  4. How To Be The Perfect Wedding Guest
  5. Thank You, Mom!

A fun little side story before we say thank you to our mothers. Growing up, I noticed a lot of people had ‘Mom’ tattoos. The tattoo was so popular that when creating my own Valentine cards for my mom through the years, I would draw a heart with an arrow piercing it, and a banner across it with, yep you know it, M-O-M. states that “The mom-heart tattoo was first worn by an Irish sailor, in memory of the folk song entitled ‘Kissed me darling mother’.” Sailor’s continued the tradition that has now become an ever-changing tattoo. Artists and tattoo wearers add different sentimental embellishments and creative ideas from the old school ‘Mom’ on a heart tattoo to many other ways to symbolize our love for mom. Interesting to think how one’s personal tattoo became such a tradition.

Talking about tradition. We have possibly a new tradition starting today. Not a Mother’s Day card. Not a present. Not a dinner. Something we want to share with all our family and friends. The three authors of this blog would love to share a quick note to our mothers both in heaven and here on Earth.

Let’s get started.

Ronnie and his mom, Kim, at a surprise party for his 15th birthday. 

Anita Kim Stephens, also known as mom, mother, and Mimi Kim. You have been my mother for 30+  awesome years. Okay, 40+ years. I tried mom, and 30+ is not really lying 😉 Over that time I have given many gifts and cards for Mother’s Day, along with many dinners. Each an accumulation of thanks and love for being my mother and raising me to take on the world. Thank you for putting me in a native american headdress and cowboy outfit to take cute photos. Thank you for putting me in all the sports I was interested in, which was every sport, and always being there to watch…and sometimes coach. Thank you for providing hugs during my teen years to make all the other moms jealous 🙂 Thank you for providing inspiration by going to college the same time I was. These small things add up to a whole lot…even making me eat scrambled eggs every day for a year. On that note, because I do enjoy teasing you a bit, and not just because you say ‘worsh’ instead of ‘wash’, I wanted to write you a comical poem. Sound good? Ok. Here we go.

Since this is a Mother’s Day poem that I write for you,
I will do my darnedest to make it rhyme as it should.
Crud, I do believe I already messed up the first part,
Now I don’t know if I should try to continue a rhyme or toss the idea.
Oh well, I suppose, because the last line is what actually matters, let’s get to it,
That is my mom loves me always, so I wish you a happy Mother’s Day!
Love you, mom!

I also wanted to wish my mother-in-law a Happy Mother’s Day. This year she is spending the day in Colorado with Lynn’s brother, Dave. Since she couldn’t join us for a day of food and celebration, I asked my wife, Lynn, to say share something special.

Lynn and her mom, Maggie.

“No matter the age, you always need your mom.” This quote sums up my mom for me. She’s my best friend, my on call nurse, my cheerleader, my “phone a friend” when I have a question, and well she’s just my mom. We laugh together and cry together. We even bark at my dad together and help my kids grow together (mainly with cookies from her, LOL). She taught me how to be the mom and wife I am today. She’s just the bestest, and I love her to bits. So glad that I have her, cause without her I’d be lost. 🧡 Rinsy Poo

Molly and her mom.

I will never forget the woman who taught me to tie my shoes, brush my hair, helped me get my first library card, and cheered SO LOUD at all of my soccer games. I will never forget the woman who taught me how to be strong and who loved me so so much. While my mom can’t physically be with me to celebrate mother’s day, I feel her spirit and bring her with me everywhere I go, in my heart, and because I have a tattoo with her signature.  While I only had her in my life for 21 years, I am so grateful for all of the memories we made and the sacrifices she made for me, my brother, and my sister. I will never forget our pool days at the campground and sharing my first pina colada with her in Florida watching all of the crazy spring breakers. 

Mom, thank you for sharing your love of the beach, books, and fun. I am so lucky to be your daughter. You taught me how to be a great person and have set the standards for being a great mom. 

Jessica (2) and Mom, Kristi, at the American Club

We always knew that the one with the biggest heart would end up being the shortest one in the family. In grade school we placed bets on when each of us three kids would pass her up in height. So many memories that are still vivid in my mind. I only wish we had smartphones when I was younger to make it easier to share those moments that I replay in my head. While there are so many things to share about the human I call Mom, one funny memory always stands out.

I remember food cooking in the kitchen (or we were already eating) and Mom was particularly loopy that day. We joked about Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” and in an effort to either embarrass us or make us laugh, she imitated an elephant tiptoeing through the tulips all while singing the song and dancing from the sink to the stove. All four had tears in our eyes from laughing.

It was never easy being a single parent. Even though we drove you crazy many, many times, you still let us be us. We found it creepy when you took pictures of us sleeping, but I totally get it now that I have kids (It’s the only time they are quiet!)  You told me I looked wonderful when clearly I was a fashion disaster. Vouched for me (medically and educationally) when I was going through thyroid treatment at 15 and sick everyday for a year.  Not to mention, early on you taught me how to eat with utensils. For that I thank you. 

I’m grateful for all the sacrifices you made for us, for teaching us the things needed to become functioning adults, and most of all…for keeping it weird! Love you!

A huge thank you to our authors for sharing such personal reflections. It is an opportunity to further open up our world to our readers. We do hope you enjoyed reading this week’s post about our mothers. Do you have a special story to share about your mother, or about being a mother? Share with us in the comments below or on the Start of the Trail Facebook page. We would love to hear about them.

Mindset, Movement & Magic

Hello Start of the Trail listeners! This week we are changing it up a bit. I recently sat down with a friend who is on a mission to inspire and help others find purpose and passion in everyday life. We all need a little extra self-care right now and Krissy Zegers is the perfect person to help transform us into the best version of ourselves!

Self-care comes in many forms…all of which She even did a quick two-minute impromptu meditation with me! Enjoy our conversation!

Here's to Dads! Start of the Trail

By Jessica Norwood, Molly Schroeder, and Ronnie Coyle Dads. They're great for laughs, learning, and often puns. June is wrapping up and it's a great month to celebrate all father figures! All three authors at Start of the Trail were busy celebrating Father's Day a few weeks ago. We thought it would great to share the memories we have of the dads in our lives. Did you know that Father's Day was not a nationwide holiday until 1972? I did not know this until recently. Enjoy our Father's Day edition of the blog with some special guest contributors on the podcast. — Send in a voice message:

Below you will find the show notes from this podcast. If you are new to “show notes” they are a guide to the topics discussed and the time stamps and where they fall in our conversation. There are also links at the bottom to join in on Krissy’s conversations, information, and be inspired to step into color!

  • What is Mindset, Movement, Magic? (1:50)
  • The box of grayness and stepping into color (6:00)
  • What meditation does to the brain: The Science of Meditation Documentary (9:10)
  • Do I need an app to start mindset or meditation? (15:10)
  • Dedicating time and prioritizing (16:10)
  • Impromptu two-minute meditation! (17:23)
  • Am I really calming the mind when my thoughts try to intrude? (21:45)
  • What is an energy practice? (25:15)
  • Alignment in your career/leadership (29:25)
  • “Better out than in” Dealing with anger (37:30)
  • Is there a difference in stressors between genders or ages? (40:13)
  • It’s time to step over those hurdles. Krissy can help! (43:30)

Where to find Krissy:


Facebook – Playing with Purpose and Passion

Facebook – Instigator of Inspiration

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream. A Nod to Our Favorite Summer Trips.

With most of us putting off summer vacations in 2020, we are looking forward to safely returning to our travels in 2021. We would like to share some of our favorite places to visit and a few we are hoping to in the very near future. While not intentional, the three of us did have a couple of the same notable ‘favorites’, not just in destinations but also in the delectable treat known as ice cream. Let’s pull out our maps and go on a journey together. Wait, do we still have paper maps. Maybe we should say, let’s open up our favorite map application on your smartphone. Either way works for us.

Listen to the blog post by going to our Podcast page.

We begin with Ronnie.

Ronnie Coyle

Our first trip takes us to ‘da U.P., eh.’ This, of course, is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, land of ‘da Yoopers.

What can be a lengthy three hour drive for us from Green Bay, Wisconsin, is never too far once you step foot at the cabins, or as my mother-in-law likes to say, Camp. This is our home away from home. Our escape into the woods, specifically the Hiawatha National Forest. We have our own little spot on a private lake that is beautiful and peaceful. With no more than a 30 minutes drive to many great scenic locations. More on those in my section of this weeks blog post as I take you on our trip from Green Bay to camp.

First, we start off by driving along the Green Bay (the body of water) shoreline for two-thirds of the drive. A beautiful drive with tall trees and periodic views of the water crashing against the beaches. We also have the occasional town to drive through too, which is good for important stops like getting two scoops of Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream (aptly named after one of our other favorite destinations) or for a quick break, if you get my drift. We don’t go through small towns anymore after the highway construction several years ago diverted around them. I miss seeing the local shops when traveling, but it is much faster not slowing down to 25 miles per hour in those spots.

The first town(s) we travel through are Marinette, WI and Menominee, MI, or simply Marinette Menominee. Often called by one name, the two towns are separated by the Menominee River and the Wisconsin Michigan border. A fun marketing show I watch called Small Business Revolution just recently selected Marinette Menominee as a candidate for their competition. While they were not the final pick, they had a great campaign called #myMarinetteMenominee. Earlier I mentioned ice cream. We typically stop just short of Marinette at Seguin’s House of Cheese for our favorite flavor. And yes, we also get our cheese fix here too. This marks 1 hour down, two more to go.

The other larger town we go through is Escanaba, Michigan. In this area the Green Bay water turns into the Little Bay de Noc. Not to be confused with the Big Bay de Noc, just on the other side of the Peninsula Point Lighthouse. In case you are not aware, these bodies of water do connect to Lake Michigan. If you ever make it through Escanaba, don’t forget to wave to Ronald on top of McDonalds. Am I the only one that doe this? Another fun fact, I always make Lynn laugh when I sing my favorite song, Escanaba by Morning sung to the tune of George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning”. Escanaba by mornin’, Escanaba’s on my mind.

The last third of our trip takes us away from the water. We still continue to curve around the top part of Lake Michigan at this point but we are a bit more inland. This is especially true once we hit Federal Forest Highway 13, as it is a straight shot north towards Munising, Michigan.

Our trip through the Hiawatha Forest is just that, a thick forest of beautiful trees. Our trip last fall I got some great shots of the leaves turning. Once we reach our destination, and turn onto the cabins road, you can feel the rush of “we are here!”

I did mention earlier that we are close to so much, especially on Lake Superior, so what might those destinations be? Here is a short list:

Our little slice of heaven, with so much to do if we get an itch to scratch. Do you travel to the U.P.? Where are your favorite places to visit?

Hey Jessica, your turn. Where will you take us today?

Jessica Norwood

Well Ronnie, I will fully admit that I have only been to the U.P. one time to tour a college. One of our goals this summer is to go up to Lake Superior and the Upper Peninsula, so I am making notes!

I’m in a nostalgia kick lately, going through childhood photos and reminiscing on fun times. Our extended family was known to camp. We camped a few times, but more often visited family at camp sites. My birthday falls right before Memorial Day which meant I had many birthday celebrations in the campgrounds. Mauthe Lake was a popular destination for our family in Milwaukee and was a very short drive for us to meet them. Many candles were blown out around the picnic table. I came across this gem from my 20th birthday. Grandpa was known for making signs, and reminding me I was halfway to forty was no exception. He later created a frame with a picture (he was thrifty and a carpenter). In true Grandpa form, he had notes and names on the back.

Our family of five decided that we wanted to start traveling the country. We have a goal to visit as many national parks as possible. There is a National Parks checklist canvas hanging in our house to hold us accountable. Road tripping is certainly more fun than flying when you want to see everything. Aside from what we remember from our childhood, our camping knowledge was limited. We researched and purchased everything needed for tenting and a road trip with our then 9, 7, and 3 year old.

I’ve always been a planner, but planning our first road trip made me realize I may be a bit over the top. Preparing for this trip put all my past planning to shame, ha ha. One word…spreadsheets. After months of planning, we set off on #NorwoodRoadTrip2019 for ten days. We started in Minneapolis to celebrate the 4th of July before heading out to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. We loved everything about this park and were glad it was the first stamp in the boys Parks Passport.

We clipped the edge of Wyoming to stop at Devils Tower. Despite a steady stream of wasps at our campsite, nothing was cooler than Devils Tower as our backdrop. After one quick night there, we headed to South Dakota to round out our trip. In one day, we visited Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse! It wasn’t our original plan to see all three at once, but the forecast changed our minds. I love a good storm and this one was fun to watch roll in. By the time we hit our last stop, Mount Rushmore, it started to hail. Don’t worry, we took cover in a restaurant with ice cream. We made it out alright.

 <div class="fb-post" data-href="" data-width="500" data-show-text="true"><blockquote cite="" class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><p>Crazy Horse was the second of three big stops in one day. We all loved visiting. The three year old looked at the clouds...</p>Posted by <a href="">On Sight Photography</a> on&nbsp;<a href="">Saturday, July 27, 2019</a></blockquote></div>

Many said that we needed a good five days in the Black Hills and they were not lying! We spent almost three days and wished we had at least two more. There’s already plans to drive through again on our next road trip west. We were so lucky that this was the only time it rained the entire trip. We booked a one-room cabin at a campground to break up tenting (Translation: We knew we would be sick of setting up and tearing down a tent by this point).

Our last stop was the Badlands. Talking to several people there, we picked the right year to go. The Badlands were green…in July! It’s almost unheard of that time of year, but it was a rainy summer. I have no previous comparison, but it was gorgeous! We didn’t hike much because it was almost 90° and the kids were not into hiking in the heat that day. Instead we took the scenic car route which was still wonderful. We followed the Badlands with a day exploring the art filled city of Sioux Falls before heading home.

It’s a trip we will always remember. We print photo books annually, and printed one just for this vacation. The boys pull the book off the shelf regularly and talk about that summer. Soon the camping gear will come out again! This year our “summer” trips will start in May, celebrating our first birthday out of “quarantine” in over a year (mine!). It also marks the first time my family will be together in 3D form since December 2019. I can’t wait to hug my humans and start another summer of road tripping!

I could go on about trips taken as a child and an adult, but I am equally as excited to talk and plan future trips (spreadsheets and all). Slowly but surely we will start to cross national parks off our checklist poster. It reminds us every day that there is so much to explore!

Hey Molly, I heard you visited a location on the east coast we are hoping to go to next year. Tell us about your memorable trips!

Molly Schroeder

Thanks, Jessica. Wow, some great trips for sure.

Speaking of nostalgia, as I pull out my sunscreen and the rest of our summer gear out of storage, I always start to think of summer vacations from the past. One of the most memorable summer vacations was my road trip out west. My Aunt Gretch, Uncle Brian, and closest cousin, Ali, moved out to Utah for a few years because of my uncle Brian’s job. Between my sophomore and junior year of college my mom, and my Aunt Marge, packed up the van and made the trip from Wisconsin out to Utah. We made several stops along the way, including Mt. Rushmore and Independence Rock. On top of it all, I saw my first bison in the wild, which are now my second favorite animal. The best part was my family in Utah didn’t know that I was coming. They thought it was just my mom and Aunt Marge to meet up with their sister, Gretch, for a sister bonding trip. So when we got lost just a few miles from their house in Logan, Utah, my Aunt Gretch and Ali had to drive around to find us. While they were, I was hiding under a blanket laying on the floor in the back of the van. So, it was a great surprise when my mom and Aunt Marge were unpacking the van, and Ali, Gretch, and Brian were helping un-pack when I popped out from behind the back seat. While we were there we went to Yellowstone and saw Old Faithful erupt. Seeing it in person is even more amazing than the photos I saw in school. We also went to the Grand Tetons, Salt Lake City, and Utah State University where I was able to enjoy a tour of Ali’s, then college, and enjoy the famous Aggie ice cream. While all of these things were all wonderful and amazing, the reason this trip is such a stand-out to me is that it was the last trip I went on with my mom because she passed away a year later. While that is the sad part, the memories we made made on this that trip are unforgettable. My mom and I shared clothes, bought matching water bottles, took so many pictures, and ended each day relaxing with our family. I will never forget that amazing trip out west. My family moved back to Wisconsin a few years after our visit, so I’m not sure that I will ever make a trip back out, but I will cherish every memory and every bite of Aggie ice cream we were able to share together. 

Another amazing summer trip I took was to Maine. My elementary and high school friend, Sam, and I share a very unique bond. Our mom’s passed away on the same day three years apart. So to celebrate our mom’s we started our vacation in Rockland, Maine to go to Lobster Fest, the main reason for our trip, as Sam’s mom always wanted to go. From Rockland, we made our way to Bar Harbor and ended the trip in Portland. We ate A LOT of Lobster, if memory serves me right, I’m pretty sure that I ate lobster every time we went out to eat. I also made my first art purchase at A Little Mad in Bar Harbor, ate wild blueberries while we hiked the trails of Arcadia National Park, and learned all about whoopie pies. We even made friends with a wonderful couple that we meet while enjoying dinner in an old Italian restaurant. While these were all amazing experiences the time I enjoyed the most was riding in the car with Sam singing show tunes and the chats we had on the beach. I was at a critical juncture in my life at that time. I was freshly out of an 8-year relationship, my job didn’t feel like a good fit anymore, and I just needed more out of life. Our heart to hearts over lobster dishes and blueberry pie, our daydreaming on the beach, and a few tearful moments were healing for me and inspiring. That summer vacation to Maine was a life-changing trip. I left with a new outlook on life and a bond with an old friend that will always be cherished. Especially because we had to spend the first night in our rental car because we couldn’t find a hotel for 50 miles that had a room available or when our Airbnb in Portland was in the  super sketchy part of town and the cops patrolling the street told us to go home and not walk outside at night. Memories that I’m sure Sam hasn’t forgotten either.

These are only two of my favorite summer trips I have been able to take in my short life and I could talk for hours about the other memorable ones, like the summer I study abroad in Scotland and my family flew over and meet me in Ireland for a week. OR that time I went to the Women’s World Cup in Vancouver Canada, a trip I dreamed about since I was a little girl. I’m excited to see what other adventures I will be going on in the years to come. This summer, my big trip, is a 4-day camping and kayaking adventure near Munising, Michigan for my best friend’s bachelorette party. Ronnie, I think we need to meet up for a coffee soon so you can share all your favorite UP must stops. If you have any upper Michigan suggestions leave them in the comments below. We are always open to new ideas and finding new places to explore. Have fun this summer!

RC: Molly, for sure. While any topic is great with a cup of coffee, I have plenty to share about the Munising, Michigan area. One of my favorite places to travel.

Alright, everyone. We hope you enjoyed our stories and selection of travel destinations. It has been fun to reminisce and share our experiences. We know many of you that read, and listen to, the blog have some wonderful places you travel too. Could you share those with us? Comment on this blog post with your spots, or jump over to our Facebook page and share there. We appreciate each and every one of you, and wish you all safe travels this upcoming summer.

If you enjoy our blog posts, could you follow us? You can subscribe to our email reminders on the Home page. Also, consider clicking the ‘Like’ on our Start of the Trail Facebook page for updates and additional stories from Jessica, Molly, and Ronnie. Social links are at the top of the blog page.

Green is Not Just a Color

I know it may be cliche to write about being “eco friendly” this time of year, but it is something our household has been passionate about for years. It seemed fitting to talk about it right now, but trust me when I say I could talk about it any day!

Reflecting back on when Rob and I started to make a conscious effort to live a more sustainable lifestyle, a lot of it started with research and reading. Anything that taught us ways to live for the environment we gravitated toward (and still do). Does anyone remember the Planet Green channel? In 2010 it was rebranded, but before that it had everything! It was Food Network, TLC, and HGTV all wrapped up into one happy eco channel. I miss it dearly.

Listen to the blog post by going to our Podcast page.

Wa$ted was a great show where Annabelle Gurwitch schooled families and businesses on how changing their waste habits not only positively affects the environment, but that there is a cost savings to changing habits. Yes, it was a typical reality show, but there were learning opportunities amongst the drama.

Wa$ted never disappointed when it comes to reality TV entertainment.

Renovation Nation was another favorite as it was all about building and renovating green. Everything from collecting rain water to building homes from shipping containers. I could go on about my love for these types of shows, but I digress.

Oh how I miss Renovation Nation!

As we approach Earth Day 2021, I reflect on what our house does and what we can change. I’d love to share some of the things we do as a family (all year round) in hopes of helping others realize that small changes can make a big impact. Here are my top 10 eco habits that not only help the environment, but the wallet (more tips and explanations in the podcast):

  1. Rain Barrels. Who doesn’t love free water? We can water our garden for most of the summer from our two rain barrels. During the inevitable midsummer drought, we have a timer and a soaker hose ready to go so that we waste as little water as possible.
  2. Recycle plastic bags/use reusable bags. We didn’t have the option when the pandemic started to use our cloth bags. As an avid reusable bag user, it pained my heart. However, plastic bags can be recycled and turned into many things, like benches! Produce bags produce a lot of unnecessary plastic in a shopping trip. I love reusable produce bags.
  3. Reusable food bags/storage. We’ve invested in reusable sandwich bags and containers rather than use plastic bags. Some of our favorites are Stasher bags!
  4. Hang clothes outside. It’s not as tedious as you think, and I have to tell you I love it. In WI we get a good six months of hanging clothes outside, though I know some that do it through the winter! Not only does the sun help remove stains and smells, it can save you at least $5/mo
  5. Wash clothes in cold water. I know that doesn’t sound appealing to some, but almost 75% of the energy used in a load of wash is to heat the water! I promise your clothes will still come out clean if you use cold water. Not only that, but you can save at least $60/year.
  6. Vinegar and baking soda. Separately and together, they clean everything! We use vinegar as a fabric softener. Baking soda helps remove stains on everything from clothes to pans. Baking soda and vinegar together clean our sinks, drains, and toilets. My favorite is slightly warmed vinegar with dish soap (1:1 ratio) to clean the shower! I never scrub anymore! 
  7. Buy second hand. I’m frugal to begin with, so shopping second hand is second nature to me. Almost my entire wardrobe is from thrift stores. It makes even more sense for kids because they grow out of everything in a week! In a future post I will show some of the repurposing projects I’ve done. Rather than buy new, we recycle and repurpose. Our TV stand used to be a dresser. These projects are what keep me sane, creative, and happy knowing it didn’t make its way to a landfill.
  8. Check your car’s eco ratings. When we are in the market for a new vehicle, I live on! It lets you compare cars, calculate cost to fill the tank, safety ratings, and tells you if you will save or spend on fuel annually compared to the average.
  9. Skip the straw! Did you know you can recycle your straws? I admit I didn’t know that for a long time. If you use a straw, recycle it, but we’ve completely switched over to stainless steel and bamboo straws. The kids love the stainless steel because it makes their smoothies feel colder as they are drinking.I just discovered they make boba straws not too! It’s already in my cart because we love bubble tea, but a regular straw won’t cut it.
  10. Meal Prepping. I know that doesn’t sound like something that is earth friendly, but it absolutely is! Forty percent of food in the US is wasted annually. That’s over $162 billion! Not only is it a cost savings, but less food waste helps all around. Many think it is time consuming, but I have to tell you, we save so much time and money during the week by planning on Friday morning before grocery shopping. I don’t know about you, but I cringe at the “what should we eat for dinner” question. It takes the thought out of it all. Do you meal plan? 

I could talk about this topic all day! It was hard to narrow down the list to ten things. I would love to learn what tips and things do you do to reduce waste or improve the environment. Please share in the comments!

I hope this list gives you at least one idea of a small change that you can make in your life that helps the environment and your wallet.