The Best Surprises of 2019

I’m SO happy to be writing here. I’m perfectly aware I started my last post with the same words, but Oh! How I’ve missed this place. I have so many drafts written in my head, so many ideas…

First! The surprises of 2019. I always get a little down at the end of the year. Probably because my expectations for myself are too high, probably because I eat more sugar during the holidays (did you know 70% of serotonin is formed in the gut and sugar consumption hinders serotonin production?), probably because I’m sleep deprived and I’ve just spent too much money and I’m constantly trying to keep a lot of people happy.

So, when that sadness hit this year, I knew exactly what to do– start reflecting on the surprises, the delights, the unexpected blessings of the year. For me, it’s been a year of extraordinary personal growth. They say our successes are built on failures and, oh my, have I had failures. The other day I told my sister I’d failed at least 365 times this year– one of my kids piped up and said, “Oh, it’s a much higher number than that.” And it’s true. I’ve failed pretty spectacularly in many ways– primarily with Build Your Teenager. But I’ve tried so many new things and I know I’ve grown personally. I also KNOW our BYT Workshop transforms families (including ours!) and our MIND + BODY Workshop is absolutely life changing. Both programs can save people so much time, wasted energy, money and PAIN. But I still have to figure out how to get that message out there. OK, enough whining. Let’s talk about those surprises (in no particular order because I just can’t overthink this).

1.Xander came home (not a surprise) and he’s just as delightful and funny and goofy as ever. And he’s even kinder and better at getting along with people. I’m constantly surprised by his cute quirks and his constant desire to learn. When we stop to put gas in the car he quizzes me on flags of the world while we wait for the tank to fill. He tutors teens in math and French and he loves finding new ways to teach. Always an early riser, we often come into the kitchen to see him washing the dishes from the night before. I could go on and on, but I’ll save it for another post. Needless to say, we’re glad he’s home.

Xander Comes Home from Michelle Lehnardt on Vimeo.

2. Ben and Sammie bought a condo and they’ve turned it into the loveliest little home. We all worked together painting and moving. Now they host waffle breakfasts for their siblings and the coziest couch for heart-to-heart chats. Sammie also earned an amazing job as the Head of Communication for the Governor and Ben works three jobs until he graduates with his JD/MBA a year from now.

3. Stefan and Heather went to Jerusalem. The dreamed, they applied, they hoped and prayed and they got in! At this very moment, Stefan and Heather are in Jerusalem with an organization called Passages that sponsors young Christians on trips to the Holy Land. They were beyond excited to be accepted and are traveling with a group of primarily Harvard MBA students. Stef is halfway through law school, working in San Diego this summer and Stef and Heather constantly cheer us with their jokes and Facetime calls and constant love and support.

4. Hansie spent an entire semester at the BYU Jerusalem Center. He traveled, made incredible friends and learned so much. I’m especially proud that he completed the complicated admissions process without help and never asked us for a dollar– still not sure how he paid for the whole adventure.

5. It was a Jewish year for us. I was voted onto the board of the Anti-Defamation League Central-Pacific Region. In their 106 year history, this is the first time they’ve approved a non-Jewish board member. It’s been a complicated year finding the best way to serve within the organization. I’m now partnering with TSOS creating assemblies to encourage inclusion. This whole paragraph makes me sound much cooler than I am (especially if I throw in speaking at the UN in August or talk about getting the hate crimes bill passed in Utah). In truth, it’s a bunch of ragtag efforts that I hope come together in 2020.

6. Little Fish Swim School When we put in a pool, we talked to the kids about all the amazing possibilities to teach swim lessons. Mary put that into practice this summer with Little Fish Swim School @littlefishswimschool. You know how swim lessons can be so hard on parents– you haul all the kids to the pool for a 20-30 minute lesson and then repeat that daily for weeks. We thought long and hard about how to make swim lessons easier for parents and created a camp where the kids come M-F from 9-12 AM and get three lessons a day alternating with activities, storytime and games. Kids get 15 lessons over the course of the week and turn into excellent swimmers. Parents get free time (especially if the kids opt for the Lunch Bunch). It was a brilliant business, a TON of work and honestly, just a privilege to spend so much time with dozens of darling little kids. Hans and Xander are joining Mary this summer and it will likely be even more fun (and less work for me).

You can see dozens of cute photos and videos in Instagram @littlefishswimschool

5. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In past years my kids have prepped for auditions, practiced songs, gone through lines. This time around they winged it. They auditioned at the very last minute on the very last day and received very fun parts. Gabe played Pharoah and brought out his best Elvis impersonation which meant he was only on stage for a very short time and wore only one costume– which he loved. Mary played one of the wives which meant she got to be on stage most of the musical and had a half-dozen costume changes– which she loved. After some not-so-great musical theater experiences, ‘Joseph’ was a delightful surprise. And even though Gabe will tell you he did NOT enjoy it, he certainly LOOKS like he’s having fun.

6. I love coaching. So it’s not exactly surprising that I became a life coach this year. I paid a lot of money, did a lot of studying and practice and went through The Life Coach School Certification Program. Still, I’m constantly surprised about how much I absolutely love coaching. Every time I get off a call I skip around the house for joy. I LOVE helping people become the best version of themselves, find solutions, gain confidence and recognize their own potential. I certainly haven’t figured out the business side of it yet, but I feel like anyone who comes into my orbit has amazing results. And that’s the goal.

7. Lizzy and Benji got married! Just in case you don’t know. Lizzy is my beloved nice and she married Benji, who is Sammie’s brother. It was an amazing, gorgeous party in San Diego.

8. Gabe serves as Men’s Association President. Darling Gabe spends hours every week painting posters, creating morning announcements, planning dances and assemblies and activities and he loves it all. It’s the perfect senior year activity. Oh yeah, and he’s in charge of the men’s dance group, The Lingeries, too.

9. Baby Yoda.

Nuff said.

It was a good year, a beautiful year. Hello 2020, we’re ready to dive in.


1 Comment

  1. Adri

    January 6, 2020

    I love your habit of remembering the surprises of your year. It is delightful for me, and such a treasure for your family history.
    I was just at home this weekend with my parents who pulled out an old scrapbook to show my kids. It included a pic of my dad and his Skyline HS friends doing the first-ever performance of the lingeries. He was shocked to hear that their silly spoof on the drill team lives on. He was the class of 1972. Gabe might find that an interesting tidbit. ?
    Thank you for coaching me through trek planning this past year. Your advice definitely helped me create a focus for our activity and I went back to your advice over and over. I never properly thanked you, but I’ve been thanking heaven for you all year.
    Happy 2020, my friend!

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