How do you show it?

Mother’s Day was more than a week ago, but as I was reflecting on the day, I had some thoughts. Isn’t it interesting how we show love differently? My youngest son made a Mother’s Day card and wrote a book about my chickens. I knew he was up to something when he took paper and markers out to his fort the week before. He’s been writing stories since he was very little. He loves to draw and paint. He’s 13.

My oldest son was going to make breakfast but he overslept, so he made brunch. Eggs, bacon and pancakes. He even tried to make the letter pancakes I make when we go camping. The back story on this was (when I was little), we went to a cabin each summer to visit a relative. She would make pancakes in shapes and it was the coolest thing ever. So, when we had kids of our own and started to go camping, I would make pancakes in letter shapes for my kids. Each time, I’d make a “D” and then an “M” and take a picture. This tradition must have meant more to him than I knew. He did admit this was not as easy as he thought it would be. It took a few attempts to get my “M”- but to me, it was perfect. He’s 17.

Quarantine Mother’s Day was different from “normal”… but it was great. Brunch, flowers from my husband, movies, steak and potatoes cooked outside over the fire – it was another day at home, but it was great. We got to Zoom call my parents and sisters that evening. We played a family game of cards later too.

Everyone shows love differently. There are many books on the subject, but I didn’t read these before I had kids. I had plenty of time (years) to read it, but I didn’t. Sometimes we think kids should be the same. We forget about their individuality and want them to conform to a certain mold. They have to take standardized tests & conform to the social norms of school. The distance learning has been quite a shift from standard learning. Some kids love it. Some kids struggle. Some parents are “all in” supporting them. Some parents yell at the kids for being on the computer too much.

Our oldest was recently accepted into the welding program at the Technical College. As a senior next year, he will be taking all of his classes there. Next spring, he will graduate from high school and tech school at the same time. It hasn’t been an easy road. He doesn’t like traditional classes. He works best doing hands-on projects. He made it this far. He can make it the rest of the way.

We show love differently and we learn differently. It doesn’t make it right or wrong. It makes us unique. Unique should be honored and celebrated. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Stay safe. Stay well. You are loved.

Let me know how I can help…

A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer. This is never an easy thing to hear, but in the midst of a pandemic, it can be especially overwhelming. In the past 5 years, I’ve had many people reach out to me after a friend or loved one was diagnosed. They want to know what they can do to help their loved one. I don’t feel like an expert. I don’t have a medical or psychology degree. I’ve written about it before but it’s a good reminder. And, if you’re willing to share this post, it might help someone else too.

For the person diagnosed: This is scary. It doesn’t matter who you are. When you hear those words, your heart stops. The doctor may sound like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon show “wa wa, blah blah blah.” You can’t process those things. It’s all going to be a blur. Here is my humble advice. some of it I did and some I wish I would have.

  • Get a notebook. Take it with you to each appointment or treatment. Keep it in your purse or by your bed to write down questions- you will have a lot of them and you will forget 90% of them when you walk in the doctor’s office. Write down what the doctor or nurse says. It’s super helpful.
  • It is not your job to give people a “to do list.” People will say, “Let me know how I can help.” If you do think of something, great… but do not feel like you have to give a list or task to everyone. Also, some people just say that and don’t really mean it.
  • It is your job to accept help. This takes pressure off of you and lets your loved ones feel like they are contributing to your fight. If someone close to you can let people know what you need, it’s up to them to figure out the ‘how.’ My mom, sister and nieces came to clean my house before I started treatments. It was great. I’ll have some ideas for the helpers below. Just know you can and should accept help. It does not make you weak, it allows you to focus on getting better.
  • Find someone who does Reiki or Healing Touch. I learned about this later, but it’s really good, helpful and soothing. Also, yoga Nidra is like a deep relaxed state – not the yoga you’re thinking of. It will help keep you calm during treatments and ease some anxiety.
  • People around you will not know what to say. Some will fall away and you won’t hear from them. Others will show up at your door with a hot dish and a smile. I wasn’t prepared for the people who ignored me. I’m sure they were uncomfortable and they didn’t know the right words, but it was surprising. It’s ok. Focus on you, your health and recovery.
  • There will be expenses you aren’t prepared for. Even insurance companies who seem good will deny coverage for strange things. Accept financial help. It will ease some burden and worry. It’s also an easy way for people to help and support you.
  • Scan-xiety is a real thing. It’s also something they don’t prepare you for. You will likely be anxious or moody before a scan or test. It’s ok to talk about it. The Reiki/breathing techniques do help, but it’s still a real thing years later. It does get better!

For the people looking to support the patient, here again is some humble advice.

  • Just do something. Don’t wait around for the perfect thing to do – just reach out. Send a card, letter, gift card or care package. They will appreciate it, but they might be overwhelmed or exhausted & not get a thank you note sent.
  • Instead of asking what you can do, offer options. “I’d like to bring dinner on Tuesday. Does that night work for you? Would hotdish or meatballs be better?”
  • Ask if you can set up a Meal Train. It’s a great way for people to sign up for meals. The recipient can state how many people to feed, if there are allergies or foods they don’t like. Keep in mind, if someone is going through chemo, their tastebuds will be different. They may have family or caregivers though who still need to eat.
  • Care package ideas: notebooks, plain note cards, stamps, cash, gift or gas cards, books (Jesus Calling was one of my favorites), prayer blanket, movies, tea, lip balm, unscented lotion (my sense of smell went crazy and I couldn’t handle strong scents), something with meaning between the two of you, travel pillow, hard candies, water bottle, planner, comfy socks/slippers etc. I got button up pj’s for after surgery because it was difficult to raise my arms. If you know them well, make it personal & meaningful.
  • Ask if there is an errand you can run for them… “I’m going to get groceries, what can I get for you?” “What day could I fill your vehicle for you?”
  • This is difficult for them. Don’t make it about you. Don’t look at them like they’re broken or dying. Don’t leave them. They need your support and prayers.
  • Remember the caregiver and family. This is super hard on them also. They are scared too. Find ways to reach out and help, distract the kids etc. (this is more challenging now but you can get creative.)

This is probably more than you wanted to know, but it’s for sure not everything. Everyone is different, with different diagnoses, different personalities, and different needs. Maybe it will help someone going through cancer, their caregivers or their loved ones. Please share it if you feel it could help someone else.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. You are not alone, and you are worth fighting for!

You don’t know what you’ve got…

5 years ago, while still healing from radiation, I stepped wrong going down the stairs and broke my foot. I remember thinking that I never realized I take “walking with ease” for granted. I tried to use crutches, but it rubbed on my already raw skin, making it nearly unbearable. 20 rounds of radiation had peeled away layers of skin right where the crutches sat under my arm. A friend suggested a knee scooter. What a game changer! Now I could get around more easily, but since I couldn’t put weight on my broken left foot, it still made it a challenge to get around. It was better, but wow did I appreciate my foot the first day I could wear regular shoes. I kind of forget about it until it comes up in my Facebook memories.

This week is both nurse appreciation week and teacher appreciation week. I have 2 sisters… a nurse and a teacher. While their jobs are much easier to explain than mine is, their jobs certainly aren’t easier to do. I think many people across the world are realizing the impact of teachers and nurses. Many of us are trying to help our kids do distance/remote learning. We are now how I was when I broke my foot – not realizing what I had until it was gone.

But it’s not “gone” … the teachers are putting in even more hours to try and connect with kids virtually, following up with emails, Zoom or Google meets, sending kids notes, etc. Some parents are looking for the scooter to make it easier, but it’s still a challenge. It’s difficult to explain to kids why they can’t hang out with friends. It’s hard to see them miss the connections with their teachers and classmates. Heart warming stories of unique ways students and teachers are connecting are popping up all over. Look for those stories. I’m thankful for my teacher sister.

Nurses are also getting much more respect and admiration. Many nurses are holding the hands of those who are sick. They are the last person a dying patient sees. They are managing their other patients, trying to keep them safe and get them healthy. They are trying to manage their PPE, when most of us recently learned what that means. They are volunteering to help other hospitals & working long hours. They are staying separated from their families because of their exposure to high risk patients. They are saying prayers for their patients and coworkers and themselves. They are cheered in big cities, and hopefully appreciated in small cities also. We are giving them a scooter by sewing masks or donating meals. I am thankful for my nurse sister.

There are a lot of things we are realizing that we miss right now. The hair stylists, the full church, the corner bar, the favorite restaurant, the handshakes and hugs … all have more meaning when we feel them missing in our lives. Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you stop for a moment and thank a teacher or a nurse, but don’t stop there. There are so many people to be grateful for. You are one of them. Hang in there!

What day is it?

Seriously, since mid-March, 90% of the time, I have no idea what day of the week it is. Very rarely do I know the date. This is a bit of a challenge when I’m trying to keep track of school assignments, work schedules, blog posts and birthdays. The last two months have flown by and crawled at a snail’s pace all at the same time. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a time warp, or living some alternate reality. I’m aware this is a historic time, yet I’m not doing anything memorable or interesting. All of our summer plans are cancelled… county fair, state fair, fishing camp, Bible camp, Dude Perfect show… all of it. We aren’t sure if we will be able to go camping or not.

We are gardening, cleaning up outside, going for walks & fishing. Oh, and chickens. The chickens have been loving their tractor. I’m not sure why it has that name. Maybe because they drive around? They peck the bugs and grass and weeds and we drive them to their next spot. Some days I just want to stick my head in the sand and go watch chickens. Some days it’s productive and feels normal.

I run out of things to say. I run out of ways to motivate myself and my kids. I get overwhelmed by “do’s and don’ts” and the latest reports. We all have different opinions. At first, we seemed so unified, and we heard inspiring stories. The hearts in my window are sun faded. It seems the dividing lines, negativity and mean comments get more attention lately. When I feel those creeping in, I try to think of something positive, but I’m probably reaching for a snack instead. So today, I don’t have an inspiring story or words of wisdom… I just have me. Honestly floundering and just trying to remind myself that I am enough. You are too. Hang in there. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. We will get through this.