7 Quick Takes about Benedictine Beer, LinkedIn fails, and complaining with metrics

January 17, 2014 | 30 comments

— 1 —

Before we begin, let me get something out of the way: It is taking all of my effort not to make this entire post about my FitBit. I am a huge data nerd — to the extent that I once gave Joe an Excel spreadsheet for Christmas — and I also love anything having to do with the subjects of nutrition, fitness, or weight loss (which is not to imply that I eat nutritious food or am fit or good at weight loss — I just like thinking about it). Anyway, when you roll all that up and dispense it in a way that involves me staring at my iPhone — another great love — you can imagine the extent to which this two-inch device has taken over my life.

— 2 —

Wait. Let me say one FitBit-related thing before we move on:

Yet another thing I deeply enjoy — and I daresay I excel at — is articulating my own suffering. I am so fragile and wimpy that the slightest things cause me great discomfort, and I enjoy pouring all my energy into vividly articulating my pain. The other day I was whining to Joe about the toil of having to get the kids in the car because it was parked outside (since we can’t use our garage because the couch that Salvation Army wouldn’t take is still in there), and my retelling of the event could have put me in the running for the Pulitzer. I recounted the many harrowing treks back and forth from the house to the car, detailing how my calf muscles strained as I heroically made the ascent up the sloped driveway. Joe should have had tears in his eyes as I recounted the despair the descended upon me when I wrestled all the little ones into car seats and seat belts, only to realize that I had forgotten the keys in the house, which would require another voyage down Mt. Driveway.

Combine this fact with what I revealed in #1, and imagine for a moment what a powerful tool a FitBit is for a whiner who is also a data nerd. It’s complaining…with metrics! Instead of telling Joe that his last-minute text adding something to the list while I was at the grocery store made me have to walk “a lot more, ” I can now note that my FitBit data shows that I magnanimously undertook and additional 437 steps so that our family could have bacon.

It’s a new world.

— 3 —

I decided to update my LinkedIn profile in a moment of intense procrastination, but as soon as it started asking me questions about what I do all day, I drew a blank. I added info about the book, which was exciting, but then I was at a loss when it came to inputting my current job title. I could have said “mom, ” but that’s not exactly the type of info LinkedIn is looking for. After an absurd amount of over-analysis I gave up in disgust and just typed in that I’m the Executive Vice President of Blogging ConversionDiary.com. (Which I realize doesn’t make sense that I wouldn’t be CEO of my own blog, but something about a subordinate role felt right.)

Anyway, what I did not know was that LinkedIn was going to blast out this notice to the bazillions of people in my network, subject: Congratulate Jennifer Fulwiler on her new job!:


I got a lot of wry emails in response to that one.

— 4 —

A few years ago, the business school where Joe sometimes teaches offered for each of us to do a Birkman Method personality inventory. It’s basically Myers Briggs on crack (my words, not theirs), and is known for high accuracy and detail when it comes to elucidating people’s personality types, with a focus on what work environments best fit their strengths.

The other day I came across my results, and I was amazed once again by just how accurate they are. I received a big binder packed full of insights about what situations are likely to lead to stress, and which are likely to help me thrive. I laughed as I flipped through it, because when you take a step back and behold the big picture, it basically said I should be a desert hermit who has a blog and occasionally comes out of her cave to go to black-tie galas…which is exactly right.

This note in particular cracked me up:


Indeed, the way I react when I’m in seasons when I deal with non-stop chaos and never have a moment to myself have led to behavior from me that is, to use the phrasing of the Birkman method, “surprising to myself and others.”

— 5 —

Remember my cousin the Benedictine monk? His monastery is now making their own beer! The last time we visited Mt. Angel, one of the monks mentioned that they were interested in starting some kind of income-generating activity like this so that they could have more resources to serve their local community. Also, does it get any better than hanging out with monks and drinking freshly brewed beer? (Answer: No, it doesn’t!)

We ordered a set of Benedictine Brewery cognac glasses for my grandfather for Christmas, and they were absolutely beautiful. I was blown away by the quality. I don’t think the monks are selling beer just yet, but I highly recommend their other products if you’re looking for a great, unique gift idea.

— 6 —

The new couch continues to bless. One of the first days we had it, my seven-year-old daughter walked into the room and exclaimed, “It’s like we’re visiting one of our friends who lives in a nice house!”

— 7 —

I’m getting back into running! My attempt to get new running shoes was the self-esteem-demolishing exercise in futility that it always is when you’re a woman who wears size 12, but the good news is that I discovered the best running song ever! You can pretty much delete your entire workout playlist on your iPod and replace it with this song:

(If you don’t like it, don’t tell me. I need to believe that I live in a world where everyone thinks this song is brilliant.)



  1. Considerer

    HA! I laughed at your heroicness. Glad you now have data to back you up. That’s awesome.

    And congrats on the running. I tend to take that kind of thing too far in terms of self-image and worrying about dress sizes. It took a guest post from a dear friend to remind me that it’s the size of my HEART that will matter in the end, and that on facing God (when we meet) He’s not going to look at me and say “Well, you could have lost a few pounds…”

  2. Amy

    You crack me up! I love this week’s list. Good job on the running–it was very humbling for me at first (started back after a 20 year hiatus!) but it has become addictive.

  3. Amy

    Hahahahahaha! That song!!

    Also, I haven’t heard of the Birkman Method personality inventory, but I can imagine that if I took it, I would end up with something similar in my profile 🙂

  4. Amelia @ One Catholic Mama

    That LinkedIn scenario is actually why that social media scares me. I’m ALWAYS getting emails telling me to congratuate so-and-so on their new job. Half the time, I don’t even know who s0-and-so is.

  5. Michelle @ Endless Strength

    You are hilarious. I love your linkedin story! Hahah! I remember I updated mine to reflect my officer title (because that was approved 6 months after my actual promotion and I had all sorts of “Congratulations!” from people and then I realized what had happened…when I added “officer” it told everyone I had a new job! LOL!!

    YOur kid’s quote about your couch is priceless. I love it when my kids do something like that. Awesome.

  6. Holly

    #6 had me laughing so hard that I had to explain to my coworkers what was so funny!

    I think it mainly made me laugh because my four-year-old asked someone if they were poor since they didn’t have a new couch like we did! I felt horrible! Luckily my friend laughed and said, “YES! You kids are expensive!”

    God Bless!!!

  7. Katie

    I love the FitBit analysis – “Complaining with metrics”. I laughed out loud. That sounds like something I need. I could give one to my son, too. Have a great weekend!

  8. TheresaEH

    #6 caused me to choke on my coffee 😉

  9. Smoochagator

    I just pretty much love everything about this post. I, too, am a big old sissy-whiner (which, one would think, is at odds with my insistence on giving birth sans drugs – but NO! natural birth affords me EVEN MORE opportunities to complain about pain and suffering!) so I would probably react to the loading-of-the-car and grocery-shopping experience exactly as you did.

    There’s a restaurant in Williamsburg (where I will take you for lunch when you eventually get a chance to visit me… I DO live in a resort town, you know… HINT HINT) that sells several Trappist beers by the growler. They also have a TON of other microbrews available. And good food! It was heaven for a beer lover like me. I hope that when your cousin’s abbey begins selling their brews, they’ll be available over here on the East Coast!

  10. Dreena Tischler

    Jen – have you tried the sleep tracker on your fitbit yet? You might be surprised. I always said I was a light sleeper but the fact that I woke up 35 times one night surprised even me. Dear Hubby became a lot more sympathetic when he saw the metrics! Anyway, more data fun for you.

  11. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    I am in a deep emotional battle trying to decide between a FitBit and a Vitamix. Deep. Battle.

    • Mom2Many

      Vitamix is the bomb…can’t believe I held out so long on ours!!

  12. Marisa

    Your Quick Takes never fail to crack me up! I especially love your new title on Linked In and your daughter’s comment about the couch! 😀

  13. Steve T.

    You are a near occasion of sin to me, as you increasingly reveal yourself to be my ideal woman. Complaining with metrics? A woman who voluntarily uses Linux? *sigh* *dewy eyes*

  14. Katie @ Waiting

    For #3, at my church (where I work) a mom put the following as her job title: “Domestic Goddess”!

  15. Jennifer Gregory Miller

    Those Benedictine products look amazing…and the beer so tempting.

    The Birkman Method looks really good. Myers Briggs left me still uncertain. I can change depending on how I answer. I wonder if Birkman would be easier for me.

    You said you had a whole binder? How much would it cost to get what you received? It sounds helpful.

    Your personal descriptions from them sound very much like me.

  16. Barbara C.

    Please do a whole post on the FitBit. I am debating whether to get one, especially the alarm function. (I don’t sleep well because I worry about the regular alarm clock waking my little ones in the bed with me; so I try to wake up before the alarm goes off.)

    How hard is it to set up and sync? Is it comfortable to sleep in? Do you have problems with it falling off your body when you have children hanging on you? Have ever whacked a child with it when it was attached to your wrist at night?

  17. Kara

    This had me laughing out loud today. And I so want to take the Birkman! Too bad I would have to sacrifice an extremity to do it, yikes. I love the personality type talk and sharing your experiences with us…it lets me know I am not the only one out there who needs lots do down time to recharge.

  18. Lynne

    So you wear a size 12 normal shoe. Does that mean (even though you didn’t say it) that you wear a 13 running shoe? When I started running, everything I read said go up a size or more. This question has no bearing on anything except to further depress you about shoe shopping. It’s strictly morbid curiousity.

    I’ve taken a hiatus from running due to a) injury and b) laziness. But now I’m getting back into it AND I have a new little mp3 player (haha…doesn’t that impress you!) so I’m trying to find good podcasts to listen to. So far I’ve got Catholic Answers live. What other wonderous podcasts am I missing out on? Please suggest.

    p.s. accidentally stumbled upon Shaun the Sheep for the first time while trolling youtube. Why didn’t you say he’s like Wallace & Grommit??? <3 We may have to buy videos.

  19. Lisa

    Hey Jen, my husband was formerly a monk at Mt. Angel (that sentence is filed under “things I didn’t think I’d ever type”) and he said he knows your cousin! That’s so great that the monks there are going to be brewing their own beer. It’d be even better if they would sell it out of state! 🙂

  20. Joanne@ Our ABC Life

    #6 required me to bite my tongue so I would not laugh out loud and wake the sleeping 2 month old next to me!!!!

  21. Trisha Niermeyer Potter

    As always, you’ve made me laugh with your tech-savvy sassy ways and your hilarious approach to life with little ones. I thought of you and other moms of multiple wee little ones this week when I was listening to a story from a mom of three young girls who must have tempted fate at some point with the poop fairies, because she got to clean the mother-load out of the bathtub twice in one afternoon.
    As far as the Salvation Army reject couch goes, perhaps you can persuade a friend or family member with a big ol’ truck to haul it to the dump for you. I guess it’s a bit like the dress that Maria wears when she goes to serve as the governess–“the poor didn’t want this one.”

  22. Eva

    Ha! I regularly ‘surprise myself and others’ with my sub-par behaviour after refusing to listen to my own better knowledge and give myself time-out from life. By ‘others’ I mean my Husband, of course. He now demands that I leave the house on my own every Saturday morning for alone coffee and reading time.
    And I tell the kids that tantrums don’t get you what you want 🙂

  23. Liesl

    It makes complete sense to me that you would be Executive Vice President… God is the CEO, right? 😉

  24. lauren

    Funny that your cousins monastery just started brewing beer, a Trappist Abbey located very close to me just started putting out their own beer within the past week or 2 (they’ve been working on it for awhile of course but just went public with it). They are the first certified Trappist products brewery in the States and a major topic of conversation around here lately!

  25. Lucinda

    I’m so jealous of your FIT BIT. I’m going to use your outstanding example of the necessity of one to convince my husband that the UP by Jawbone that I want is not a waste of money. PLEASE keep posting about your Fit Bit!

  26. Cathy D

    As a woman who wears size 13 shoes, I feel your pain. I hate trying to find sneakers that don’t look too masculine, but men’s shoes are the only ones I can buy in a store. Luckily, we have a local shoe store that carries sizes 12 and 13 dress up and casual shoes so I have easy options for those.

  27. Liz Gossom

    I have the same couch issues. Only it is an albatross of a red sectional. It WILL be replaced within 2 months because I am having a party and I refuse to defend that couch’s appearance one more time.

    Thank you for letting me get that off my chest 🙂

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