I recently traveled to CA for my niece’s graduation. She is the last niece on my side (of 6 nieces and nephews), and my Godchild. To get from MSP to San Jose, CA, I flew through Denver. I had a layover and then they said there was an hour delay. They changed the gate 5 different times and then moved up the departure time so it was only 10 minutes late instead of an hour. While on the plane, and waiting in the airport, I had time to finish a book. #IMOMSOHARD is a book from 2 moms who also have a YouTube and Instagram page dedicated to telling it like it is… messy and tiring and sometimes requiring wine. I’m not much of a drinker anymore. I think I took care of that in my younger years. I did take Southwest up on their free drink coupon though.

On one leg of the flight, the WiFi wasn’t working, so I read some more and rested a little. I also sponged though. (It’s kind of a nicer term for eavesdropping) The flight from Denver to MSP was full. A couple in their 60’s boarded after me. They took aisle seats across from each other. A lady who was traveling alone asked if she could sit in the middle seat. She made sure the wife didn’t want to sit by the husband. They both prefer aisles. She said to him, “You two are the cutest couple. Are you newlyweds?” He chuckled. “Yes, we are,” he said with a grin. “We’ve been married only 38 years.” Without having to say a word, I learned the woman next to me had 4 boys and a girl, all grown. The man had two sons, a doctor and lawyer in New York.

The last few minutes was the only time I talked. She commented on all of the water/lakes. I told her that MN is the land of 10,000 lakes. She was surprised by how flat it was. She said Carson Wentz is her favorite player (after I told her I was from ND originally). It’s ironic to me that I write a blog anyone can read, yet I avoid making small talk on a plane. Introverted. Text book introvert.

Before graduation, we cleaned, made food, did landscaping, set everything up, ran errands, decorated and arranged flowers. We got the chocolate fountain ready and had food options for everyone. At the graduation party, I made sure the food was refilled, the drinks were chilled, the chocolate fountain had plenty of berries & treats to dip, and the garbages were emptied. When the guests had all gone home, my sister said she felt bad that I had spent all my time in the kitchen. My niece said, “Oh no, that’s where she prefers to be.” And she was right. I didn’t have to do much small talk. I was able to be helpful and let my sister and nieces visit with their guests. Yep, it’s totally where I want to be. This is the 5th of 6 graduation parties I have helped with (along with a wedding, bridal shower, baptism etc). I’d much rather be the one making sure things run smoothly, (quietly refilling the chips) than being the center of attention. #introvert.

I’m so glad I made the trip. I’m glad my husband took care of things at home. I’m glad my sister let me help (and give honest opinions). I’m glad her cat was excited to see me. I’m glad my niece had a great party. And, I’m glad I’m an introvert, because that’s part of my journey and it makes me enough. I don’t have to be outgoing or social or vibrant. I can be behind the scenes, and it’s helpful enough. Whatever your skill is, embrace it. Whatever you love to do, do more of that. Those who love you will still love you and those who don’t aren’t worth your time.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you have your very own gluten-free funfetti bundt cake to make you feel extra special… because you are.

(Photo of my niece, Emily on her high school graduation day)

I responded in my head…

This picture is proof that I could use a good wrinkle cream. LOL. That’s not what this is about though.

I was talking to my niece at Easter. She was complaining about her brother, who rarely responds to texts. She’s mentioned it to him a few times, and each time he says, “Oh, sorry. I responded in my head.” It really struck a chord with me. THAT’S IT!!! For the last several years, there have been many occasions where I thought I told my husband something, but I clearly just responded in my head. Apparently, we must have full conversations in my head, and I think the issue is resolved… so I don’t actually tell him things.

This happened a LOT after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. There was so much information, appointments, people checking in on me, etc. I would think that I had told him something, but I probably told my sisters or my mom, my friend or co-worker. He felt left out. He thought I was not telling him the whole story. I just honestly couldn’t keep track of everything. This was unusual for me- I was a note taker, had a Caring Bridge page to update people… but I still didn’t know who I had talked to. I never had chemo. I cannot blame it on chemo brain fog. I thought maybe I was alone until I brought it up to someone at work. He said, “Don’t all married people do that?” Huh. I’m not sure, but at least I’m not the only one.

When I came back from my retreat, this was something I had put on my “to do” list. Be more intentional – have more conversations. I tend to retreat inward when there is a bunch of stuff going on. I need time to process things, figure stuff out & sometimes think of every possible (sometimes worst-case) scenario. I like to think I remember to mention the big stuff but that’s not always true. Apparently, we had a conversation (just in my head), where I decided I was going back to CA for my last niece’s graduation. Since my husband can’t take time off from work during the last month of school, and we wouldn’t want to take the kids out of school, it seemed logical for me to go alone. (Again, I obviously never said this out loud)

I clearly have some work to do in this area. I’m not an expert… just a middle aged mom who likes to write for the 30 or so people who read this every Tuesday. Occasionally I will get readers from Sweden or Japan or even Cameroon. If you’ve taken the time to read this far, thank you. Someday I will get brave enough to put myself out there in a bigger way. When I do, I promise to have a conversation with my husband (out loud this time), so he’s aware of it.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. If you’ve responded in your head, you’re not alone. I challenge you to respond out loud also… or at least in a text.

To the moms…

That’s me in the middle. Lol. Obviously. I’m no longer taller than either of the boys. Neither one can (or would) sit on my lap. I don’t read stories to them or hold their hands in the parking lot. Those days are gone. This picture was taken on Mother’s Day. While I could be sad that my boys are no longer little, I chose to be happy they are growing.

Mother’s Days are not always sunshine and roses. Many Mother’s Days were spent wondering if I’d ever get to be a mother. This year was the first Mother’s Day since my mother-in-law passed away. This was the first Mother’s Day for friends who lost their son. I’m aware of how special it is, and I try my best to appreciate each Mother’s Day. There are very few things I want or request on Mother’s Day.

  • Let me sleep a little
  • Coffee is good
  • No dishes
  • No laundry
  • Flowers are nice but don’t spend too much
  • I’d like to avoid cooking (much)
  • I want to spend it with my kids

That last one is like a time bomb. I can hear the time ticking away like the clock on the wall. I won’t always get to spend this day with them. I don’t always see my own mom each Mother’s Day. There will be a time when my boys are working or in school or married or having kids of their own (hopefully not for a while). So for now, I’m thankful for each Mother’s Day I get with them. Last year, we moved compost and planted asparagus on Mother’s Day. This year, we played cards, went for lunch, visited a little and took a nap. Heavenly. The cat even got to visit for a while.

There are many days of motherhood where we feel like we aren’t enough. I don’t think that will go away regardless of how many books we read or inspiring videos we watch. We will feel like we are not enough because we care. We care about our kids, our family and ourselves. We want to do better and be better, not realizing we already are. We already are the cheerleaders, the working moms, the stay-at-home moms, the ones who remember the lunch money and get the ibuprofen in the middle of the night. We are enough because we care. I urge you to look into the mirror this week and tell yourself “You are a good mom. You are enough.”

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you have fond memories of Mother’s Day to carry you through some tough days. We are all in this together & you, sweet mom, are enough.

To leave it behind…

This is the confident me. The numbing fear in my entire body might not be visible in this picture. The ropes course at Healing Odyssey retreat was more difficult and life changing than I had expected. I mentioned in my previous post how I wasn’t sure why I went to the retreat, I just knew I needed to go. After the first night, I thought, “Well, maybe I’m supposed to be here as support or encouragement for someone else.” (Because I couldn’t possibly need healing, right? Ha ha) I was telling my friends and family about the retreat and they all asked, “So, you didn’t know anybody? WHY did you go?!”

Partially, I believe I was supposed to meet these ladies from cabin 8. All are strong and powerful. Each with a unique cancer story and a unique life story… yet we all shared a common chapter to our stories: CANCER. It’s something that’s difficult to explain, yet if you’ve had/have cancer… you “get” it. You “get” the scanxiety felt with each scan and test and doctor appointment. You “get” the fear, the anger/frustration, the strength needed, the way it changes your life and the way people look at you. The list goes on and on. I didn’t know how powerful it would be to surround myself with over 30 other cancer survivors. I didn’t know I would cry in front of complete strangers. I didn’t know I would leave with a bunch of new friends… many of whom I won’t see in person again.

The other reason I went was revealed at the ropes course. I was 8th in line. I had a chance to see others go before me… each getting to a different point on the course. I had a chance to plan my goal. There were 4 ropes to reach towards to get to the end. My goal was to get to 3 … for my 3 guys. I tried to psych myself up for this. As I got hooked up and ready to climb, I had to stand at the bottom of the ladder and tell everyone what I was leaving behind. My hand started to shake and my voice quivered as I told the story about my journey of enough. I was leaving the idea that I’m not enough behind. I was leaving behind the “can’ts. Leaving behind doubts and fears & moving towards new adventures and a renewed sense of self. Once I dried my eyes, I started the climb up the ladder and then up the pegs.

Once I got to the top, I had to stand on a wire and reach for a rope. Easy, right? Nope. Not at all. This was my first ropes course. First time being 30 feet in the air, standing on a wire, attached to a harness and rope. I could hear the cheers and encouragement from below. I listened for the voices of those who had gone before me, telling me what to do next. As my legs trembled and the adrenaline rushed, I grabbed for the first rope. “I’m good, I’m done.”

I leaned back and descended back to earth. I was greeted with hugs and cheers and more tears.

It literally took hours for the adrenaline to leave and for me to calm back down again. It was intense, it was exhilarating & it was life changing. You may be thinking, “But you only got to the first rope. You wanted to get to 3.” Yes. That’s true. What I realized after it was over, was that the 1 rope I got to was for ME… not for my husband, my boys, my parents or my sisters… it was for me. You cannot pour from an empty cup. 1 was all I needed to believe I can. I left the can’ts behind.

After the ropes course, we went on a zipline. This was another thing I said I would never do – but after the morning, it seemed like a breeze! I didn’t have to balance, I just had to let go and enjoy the ride. What a feeling! The Mountain views were breath taking. The feeling of accomplishment was amazing.

So, why did I fly all the way to California, drive myself up a mountain, stay with 30+ strangers, go to sessions, hike in the mountains, do a ropes course, zipline and tell my story? To leave it behind… leave the doubt, the fears, the worry, the comparison, the feeling of being “not enough.” Am I completely free of these things? Maybe not. But nobody told me it was just stage 1. Nobody said it was just breast cancer. To everyone there, I was enough... and that feeling will carry me up many mountains in life. I will always remember the ladies I met at camp and the feeling of conquering those fears.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you have friends cheering you on from the sidelines. May you have voices to listen to of those who have gone before you. May you be a listening ear or a comforting shoulder to someone else. We are all in this together & you are enough.