Trip preview & summary thoughts…

I just got back from a Healing Odessey retreat in California. While I take some time to write more about the event and what I gained from it, here are some things I learned on my trip:

  • Solo trips are a good thing. If you can do it, you might learn something about yourself.
  • People in airports don’t realize there is a volume button on their phone and I don’t need to hear them type or play a game.
  • I am for sure one of those people annoyed by certain sounds. Trying to let that go isn’t working.
  • If you can check your bags (Southwest gives your 2 free), it is far easier to navigate the airport and the plane.
  • Target stores in California have entire aisles of wine. Seriously, I’d probably go broke.
  • If you’re from Minnesota and go to other regions, people can tell you have an accent. (Dontcha know)
  • You can usually purchase another bag if you run out of room (or if you have to waste some time at Target and Kohl’s.)
  • If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.
  • Listening to your body takes practice.
  • Finding people with whom you share a common thread is powerful.
  • It’s ok to be nervous.
  • A double cappuccino means something different at different coffee shops.
  • There is something magical and healing about walking in nature.
  • Hotels close to the airport start their breakfast earlier.
  • If you have a fear, worry or question, odds are high someone else does also.
  • If you tip the airport shuttle driver, it will make his day and he will give you directions on where to go next.
  • Everyone has a story, their surface might not show it.
  • Never say never (except for sky diving, I’m seriously never doing that!)
  • You cannot judge time by distance in the LA area. In Minnesota, if it’s 60 miles away, it will take you just under an hour to get there. I have no idea how to gauge time here.

More summaries and pictures next week. It was an amazing, powerful and inspiring weekend!

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you have a group of people cheering you on!

But I’m not lost…

This week I will embark on a solo trip. I’m flying out to California for a breast cancer survivor retreat. I found out about it from a group I follow on Facebook. Sometimes it helps to connect with people who share a similar part of their story. Everyone in the group has been impacted by breast cancer. One of the ladies highly recommended the retreat, so I looked into it a little more.

It’s very reasonably priced. They have it more than once per year. It’s called Healing Odessey. The retreats run from Friday to Sunday. I’d just need to get myself to CA in time. Oh, and drive up the mountains by myself. In the dark. Alone. Hmmm. I convinced myself I could do this. It might be one of the last things I do like this, since they are usually focused on women in the first 5 years since diagnosis. I booked my flight with airline miles, reserved hotel rooms before and after the retreat (using Holiday Inn points) & reserved a rental car. I’ll essentially be gone 5 days for a 3 day retreat, but I figured I’m worth it.

What am I hoping to get out of this? Am I going to find myself? Not really, I’m not lost. A weekend with strangers normally isn’t on my wish list. As an introvert, this gives me a little bit of anxiety. There are some reassuring things though: 1) Nobody knows me, so there is no “history” or story that they have about me. 2) I likely won’t ever see them again, so if they think I’m strange, I won’t run into them at Target next week. 3) I am going to take time on the flights and in the airport to read some books and just re-set.

  • Old me: I can’t take that time off from work.
  • New me: I need to take time for myself.
  • Old me: I need to be there for my kids.
  • New me: My kids need to see me also as an individual & trying new things.
  • Old me: My husband needs my help.
  • New me: He is completely capable of handling things at home. (He was before also, I’m just acknowledging it more now)
  • I think I’m ready. I’ll make sure to bring my passport/ID an empty water bottle. I’ll pack some headphones and plenty of books. I’ll throw my motion sickness pills in my purse and make sure I have plenty of gum. I’ll bring an open mind and an open heart. I believe things appear in our lives for a reason. I’m taking this opportunity to see what I’m supposed to learn from it.
  • Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you have the courage to say “yes” to something… even if it’s outside of your comfort zone, a little scary (in a good way), or might possibly make you nauseated. Sometimes great things happen just outside of our comfort zones.
  • Peas in a pod or peas and carrots?

    One likes hunting. He learns about it and has patience to wait for them. The other would rather watch the deer and turkeys walk by or try to catch them.

    One likes fishing. He would fish all day if he could. The other would rather look for interesting shells or spy on turtles.

    One quit band. The other plays saxophone and guitar & has tried to write some songs.

    One struggles with school. The other is stressing out about his only “B.”

    One has curly brown hair. The other has straight blonde hair.

    One likes country music. The other prefers rock.

    One wears jeans, t-shirt and a hunting or fishing cap year round. The other wears a suit any chance he gets. (Opposite in this picture because of prom.)

    If you know my kids, you know which one is which. 2 boys from the same parents can end up being so different. I remember when we were going through fertility treatments (again) after having Dallas. I recall sobbing on the steps, “But what if he will never have a brother or sister?” I assumed they would get along. I assumed they would be similar kids. You know what happens when you ass-u-me?! Yep.

    I’m still thankful and I love them both. I cannot make them have things in common or want to spend time together. Sure, when they were little, they liked the same toys and movies. Then they developed their own personalities. Things changed. We ended up dividing our parenting time based on their interests. Cam would take Dallas fishing. I would go for walks with Myles and look for acorns or cool rocks. We still do plenty of activities together. It’s just different. In 2 years and 2 months, Dallas will graduate & things will change again. It’s hard to say where their paths will take them in life. I hope they stay in touch and find some more common bonds.

    These are the things they have in common as of now:

    • They both love French toast.
    • They both run cross country.
    • They both have blue eyes.
    • They both think Ironman is the best of the Marvel super heroes.
    • They both think they are competitive.
    • They both like the cat.
    • They both bow hunt left handed.

    We struggled to come up with this list of things they have in common. There might be more, but for now, they are finding their way and learning what they like. Parenting is more difficult than anyone prepares you for. For the past 12 & 16 years, I’ve tried to protect them and keep them safe… give them independence and skills to be on their own… but mostly, I’ve just tried to love them through it all. I feel like my relationship with God is the same way. Because of free will, I still make plenty of mistakes. Those mistakes teach me something… or if I wasn’t paying attention, I’ll get to experience/learn it again. God is like our parent… a safe place to land.

    My kids mess up. They aren’t perfect. They are learning there are people who will dwell on those mistakes and people who will forgive them. Regardless, I hope they know I am their safe place. I hope they know God is too. HE loves us through all of our differences and similarities. Peas in a pod or peas and carrots… he loves us just the same.

    Peace be with you on your journey of enough. If you’re in the middle of parenthood, just starting out, dealing with an empty nest or enjoying grand parenting, God will love you through it.

    Not just “another day”…

    4 years = 1826 days. 4 years ago, I thought that I’d never forget April 8th. While I never forget that I had cancer, it took my Facebook memories to jog my mind regarding April 8th’s true meaning. Monday seemed like just another Monday, but it wasn’t. 4 years ago, I rang the bell at Roger Maris Cancer Center, signifying the end of active treatment for breast cancer. 4 years ago, I stood with my family and friends while strangers watched me ring the bell. Perhaps it gave hope to someone just starting their journey, that they too can make it to that point – the bell ringing day. I gave my phone to someone to take pictures. I’m so glad I did. I want to remember the image of that strong, but scared 41 yr old. I want to remember the look on my husband’s face of pride and relief. I want to remember how small my boys were.

    It’s a big deal. I still carry the card in my wallet from that day. I don’t want April 8th to be just another day. Why? Because not everyone sees 4 years go by. I don’t want to take that for granted. “Easy cancer” or not, cancer is still cancer. Fighting to make sure it’s gone and stays gone takes effort, determination, strength and luck. It shouldn’t be underestimated. It should be celebrated. So I ran over to our grocery store and bought these pink flowers for myself. (4 kinds/colors of pink and white) and some cookies for my co-workers. (I know I should have gotten fruit or something more healthy, but cookies are fun.)

    It will likely be a day where the details fade over time, but the memory of ringing the bell still stays. Do you have an event that changed your life? How do you remember or celebrate it? In what ways has it shaped your life from that point on? I want my kids to know I’m not perfect. There are things I would have done differently, but those things also taught me lessons. Ladies (and men), listen up:

    • You’re “only” 41? Cancer doesn’t care. Get checked.
    • No direct relatives with breast cancer? Cancer doesn’t care. Get checked.
    • Your family depends on you? Cancer doesn’t care. Get checked.
    • You are flat chested, big chested or even male? Cancer doesn’t care. Get checked.

    Cancer is a jerk, it doesn’t care. Monday was not just another day. It was a reminder about life being short. So eat the cookie, but go for a walk. Love the body that is home to your soul. Hug your kids, even the teens. Tell those who love and support you just how much they mean to you. We aren’t guaranteed our tomorrows. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. You are always enough. Sometimes I feel like too much, but it’s always just enough.

    Always watching…

    This is Roz from the movie “Monsters, Inc.” It’s a cute movie with the story line: kids’ laughter is more powerful than their fear. Whenever I think of someone watching, Roz’ voice pops into my head.

    Recently, our Destination Imagination (DI) team went to the MN state tournament to compete. They won their regional event and this was the first time Myles’ team had gone to state. They were very excited. 10 middle school teams competed in their “Game On” challenge, but there were a bunch of kids in many categories. It was an all day event. And, any event which hosts thousands of kids and parents needs lots of volunteers. I was the volunteer for our team.

    To back up a little, Destination Imagination is kind of hard to explain. The description online says, “Destination Imagination is a volunteer-led, educational non-profit organization that teaches “21st-century” skills and STEM principles to kindergarten through university level students through collaborative problem solving challenges.” Myles’ team is a group of 4 boys in 6th grade and one in 5th. They had to come up with an 8 minute “central challenge” skit. Their category was fine arts and this year it had a game theme. They chose to combine “Sorry” and “Pac-Man” to be called “Sorryman.” The kids come up with everything. From their team name, to their set design, script and costumes… it’s all their ideas. Seeing them progress over the course of 4-5 months is amazing. It teaches them problem solving skills, working together to complete a challenge, and overcoming obstacles.

    So, back to the event…. the team performed and did an amazing job. My volunteer shift was in the afternoon. I needed to be the door monitor. Close the door when the team is ready to start. Open the door when they are done. Do not let anyone in during the performance. Simple, right? I had a dad ask me if his daughter was in the room. (I didn’t know the man or his daughter) At first, I thought he was joking. Then he described her – seriously? I don’t know your daughter. The thing that bothered me though was the lady who got mad at me. An adult female wanted to argue about the door being shut.

    Me: “I’m sorry, you’ll have to wait until they are done.” Lady: “But my team is inside.” Me: “The door needs to stay shut during performance, you’ll have to wait.” Lady: “But my team is inside.” Someone else comes up to the tiny window. Lady (to the stranger): “She won’t let you in.”

    Wow. Ok. Your kid might not have been there, but 10 other kids watched this interaction. They watched someone who didn’t think the rules applied to them get mad about rules. The same person would have been livid if someone just walked in while her kid was performing. It’s rude. Our kids are watching. Always watching. They take cues off others about how to behave. Let’s give them better examples. I’m not perfect. I have my flaws. But, I hope I’m showing my boys how to be kind. The door monitor doesn’t have a problem with you, she’s just trying to help out her team.

    As much as DI teaches life skills, we also teach those skills each day without knowing. On your journey of enough, someone is always watching.

    Peace be with you on your journey of enough.