Fifty five cents…

Last week, my dad turned 80. Since he will be starting radiation soon, and he was already high risk, a party was not an option. So, I checked Pinterest for birthday ideas. I think that’s where I found the idea of sending out 80 letters, in hopes of getting 80 birthday greetings back. My sisters were on board with the idea. I sent the letters to friends and family and friends of family. While my son was bowling, I wrote out envelopes so people could mail the greeting to my dad. I posted a request to a few more friends who sent cards.

Envelopes started coming… some from people he didn’t know. I made this wall hanging (with the help of my hubby), so they could hang the greetings on the wall. When I was going through cancer, I kept all of the notes people sent me. It was a visual reminder of love and support. It kept me going some days. I wanted him to see that support too.

Something happened that I didn’t plan on. People did more than just sign their names. They wrote messages to him. What a blessing! Too often we wait to say things to people we care about. I’d rather have people tell me what I mean to them while I’m alive instead of waiting until I’m gone.

80 years isn’t a given. It’s not something everyone gets to celebrate. My dad has had 2 open heart surgeries, a stent in his artery, diabetes and now prostate cancer. 80 years was certainly not a guarantee. I’m so glad people took part in our little project and put smiles on the faces of both my parents.

None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. We know we won’t live forever, but we don’t know when our time is up. Don’t wait to tell people you love them. This week, I’ll be writing a letter to a friend with terminal cancer. Today, I mailed a card to my friend’s grandma for her 95th birthday, and a 50th anniversary card to another friend’s parents. A stamp is $0.55. You can get cards at a DollarTree store or just write on a piece of paper. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to make someone smile. I think we all like to feel loved and remembered.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough (& 55 cents for the stamp.)

Thankful Tuesday?

What age is it when you can’t remember how old you are, so you have to do math to figure it out? …But your random math skills stink even though you do math every day? Not sure, but it’s been happening for a while. Tell me I’m not the only one who has to do math to figure out their age? Like only on the significant years (21,30,40) do I know how old I am for a whole year. Ha ha, maybe it is just me.

My birthday usually falls around Thanksgiving. Since that isn’t the same day each year, it varies. Having a Black Friday birthday was fun when we could stay up all night and go shopping. I’ve baked Christmas cookies for my birthday, driven to our favorite restaurant, had Thanksgiving meals or spent the day shopping. This year will be different, so I’m going to see if I can come up with 47 things I’m thankful for. These are not really in order of importance. I’m just glad I could come up with this many.

  1. My husband. 25 years of marriage – we’ve had our ups and downs but he’s stayed with me and still tries to make me laugh.
  2. My boys. Forever thankful I got to be their mom. Even though some days I struggle, I think they know I love them.
  3. My sisters. I’m thankful to have them as my friends. They are both strong, faith centered, family loving women. They are amazing examples to me in more ways than they will ever know.
  4. My nieces and nephews. Blessed with some of the best. I’m thankful to get to see many of them & treasure the time we have together.
  5. My friends. I’m a bit reserved, so it takes a while for me to open up, but if I talk your ear off, you’re in my circle. My true friends “get” me & don’t try to change me or force me to fit in.
  6. My cat. Toothless has been a wonderful addition to our family, even if my hubby isn’t a fan. I love the kitty cuddles. He is one of the softest black cats.
  7. The chickens. These 6 ladies make me smile so big. They each have their own personalities and make me laugh. I love their different sounds, and the way they run to me when they think I have treats!
  8. My cancer journey. I’m not thankful for cancer in general because it sucks and it takes lives and loved ones. I’m thankful for the lessons I learned and for my ability to help others.
  9. My job. It puts food on the table and a roof over our head. It’s not glamorous and most of my family has no idea what I do, but I’m thankful for it.
  10. Our land. Not just the house, but our land. The land that grows the crops that feed us and our community. The beautiful trees and the land that houses the chickens and my son’s fort.
  11. I’m thankful to live near the river. Floating down the river with friends in the summer is one of the most relaxing experiences. I love to walk down to the dam and listen to the water and watch the fish.
  12. Faith. My faith has gotten me through some tough times. It has also evolved over the years.
  13. Love of travel. Most years, we’ve been able to take a trip or go camping. We sure missed it this year.
  14. Music. I listen to the same station when I’m driving & it’s uplifting/positive. I’ve been enjoying Christmas music at home though.
  15. Planning skills. Aside from being my job, it also helps with #11. Not all my trips have budgets and spreadsheets, but it has happened.
  16. Writing. I’m glad my cancer journey led me to writing. It’s something therapeutic for me and I’m in awe when people share it because it resonates with them.
  17. Art. I’ve always loved art. I like to paint and draw. I don’t let myself do it enough, although I have more paintings than I have room to hang them.
  18. Sewing. I learned to sew through 4-h. When I was in college, I had a work-study job at the costume shop. I kind of faked my way through sewing costumes for plays. Now I like to sew baby blankets, masks & the burp cloths like my grandma used to make.
  19. Pictures. I take a lot of pictures. I go in spurts with getting them printed or put into books. I don’t remember everything, so I like to have a picture to remind me. It’s fun to look back on our adventures.
  20. Empath. I consider myself empathic. I can sense people’s energy and often take on their feelings. I’ve learned more about holding space for someone else instead of being a sponge and absorbing it.
  21. Yoga. I’m thankful I learned yoga. I miss it. It’s peaceful and relaxing. It’s a way to connect to the earth and move my body.
  22. Laughter. The kind of belly laugh that makes your eyes tear up so you can hardly see. I was laughing so hard recently, I almost had to pull my car over. It was great.
  23. Senses. Something we often take for granted, but I’m thankful I have all of mine.
  24. Meditation & prayer. It is a great way to be present & connect with a higher power.
  25. Journaling. Sometimes I just need to write down all the stuff that’s in my head so it stops spinning around up there.
  26. I’m thankful for anyone who had read this far!
  27. Campfires. I love sitting by the fire… Especially on a crisp night, with a hoodie or a fuzzy blanket. I love the smell, the sound, the sight of it. Maybe because it awakens so many senses. (Not touch though LOL)
  28. Lakes. Being by water is relaxing to me. I like to be on the boat or go fishing with my family.
  29. Stories. I’m thankful for the stories my boys tell me about their day. I miss reading stories to them as little kids. I’ll settle for fishing or Minecraft stories now.
  30. Half marathons. I’m thankful I did them. I didn’t set any records or have a fast time, but I finished. I showed myself that I could move forward for 13.1 miles. Maybe I’ll do another… someday.
  31. Fall leaves. I love going for a walk in the fall, when the leaves crunch beneath your feet. I love the smell of them, the sound, and the sight.
  32. Crisp white snow. I’m not a big fan of winter, but when the ground is all white and the snow glistens in the sun, it is pretty.
  33. Skiing. Speaking of snow, I like to downhill ski. Our friends taught us how and I like it. I’m still a novice but I have a good time.
  34. Camping. I know I mentioned travel, but I think camping is it’s own thing. There is something special about cooking over the fire, making letter shaped pancakes and sleeping in a tent or small cabin. Some of my best memories with my boys have been camping.
  35. Big extended family. My parents came from large families. I’m thankful to have a big support network. I miss my grandparents.
  36. Curly hair. Maybe a strange one, but I have very curly hair. It’s naturally curly and I let it be. It doesn’t take me long to get ready in the morning.
  37. My unique name. There aren’t too many Mavis names around, so it makes me feel unique. Add in a last name that few can pronounce, and I’m even more unique.
  38. Coffee. But not for the typical reasons… I don’t NEED it to get my day started. I like it though. I like the warmth, the smell and the taste.
  39. Retreats. I’ve gone on a few retreats with other ladies, and it’s been amazing. I’ve met people I would never have met before. They’ve opened my heart and widened my circle.
  40. Time. I’m thankful to have had (almost) 47 years here. We never know when our time is up, and I’m thankful to still be here.
  41. Pennies from heaven. My grandparents & aunt send pennies or dimes (10 kids). My mother-in-law sends quarters. Little reminders that our loved ones are still with us just warms my heart.
  42. Movies. We watch a lot of movies as a family. I enjoy the time together & we are often quoting lines from movies.
  43. Flowers. I love fresh flowers. I often pick some up to have at my desk (pre-Covid). They are so beautiful and make me smile.
  44. Blankets. Maybe because it’s cold outside now, but I love being curled up in a cozy blanket.
  45. Care packages. I love sending them. I love to put together a surprise for someone to lift their spirits or even make their day.
  46. Fireflies in the summer. I love to watch them in the summer, especially on a clear, starry night.
  47. Last, but not least, my parents. (Hopefully they read this far!) I wouldn’t be here without them. I wouldn’t have a giving heart, a sense of faith or a love of family without them. I’m grateful to be their daughter. My dad just celebrated his 80th birthday. I’m thankful for that also.

Wow. 47. I wasn’t sure I could get that far, but I could probably keep going. It’s easy to think of a few things, but to get to 47 takes some extra thought. Whatever your Thanksgiving looks like this year, remember all that you are thankful for. Focus on those things. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May your thankful list be long, and your heart & belly full.

Ho Ho, oh no!

Thanksgiving is next week. Normally, I wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the Christmas tree. Not this year. Not 2020. Something that brings joy and doesn’t hurt anyone else? Go for it. Handmade ornaments, sentimental gifts and mementos from trips we’ve taken adorn our tree. There isn’t a theme or fancy ribbons, but every ornament has meaning. There isn’t room for a tree upstairs, so you can’t see it from our window. Instead, it’s in the basement family room, and to me – that’s perfect. Watching movies with the twinkling glow of the tree is one of my favorite things.

This year, our cat joined us in the festivities. While the Christmas music was playing in the background, the cat attacked a few ornaments. In order to distract him, our son got a fuzzy cat toy. In the picture above, his claw is stuck to a fuzzy toy on a string. He has a guilty look on his face. Silly, but funny to me.

We could all use some silly. We could all use some extra joy. It’s been a stressful 8 months. Tensions run high, people are frustrated and there is a lot of anger. Way too much anger. Even though your Thanksgiving or Christmas might look different than you planned, try to find some JOY. Put your tree up early, bake your favorite treat, take a drive, go for a walk, sing to the radio, dance in the kitchen, savor a cup of coffee, read a book, spend time with your pets.. so many options. Just think – if we all did one thing a day to bring joy, what a difference it would make.

So this year, instead of “Ho Ho, oh no,” say “yes” to joy. I’d love to hear your ideas on what you can do to bring joy. Many of us aren’t traveling, but we can get creative. Video call, write a letter, send a surprise in the mail to someone, leave a treat for your mail carrier or delivery person. There are still ways to connect, even if it’s different than before.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough… and enough joy to make you giggle… or at least crack a smile.

Support…

Sometimes we try to hold on so tight… we forget to ask for support.

What does support mean to you? My mentor asked a group of us “what does support look like for you?” Do you need just to talk it out? Do you need someone to sit quietly with you? Do you need some space alone? Do you need to write it out? Do you need someone to give you a hug or hold your hand? There is no wrong answer.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in making sure other people are ok, that we don’t express what we need for ourselves. What support do WE need? It’s not selfish to think about it. It’s helpful to those around you if they know how they can support you. It can be a different answer, depending on the person. For me, it was a difficult question to answer. I hadn’t given it much thought. I mean, aren’t I just supposed to help and support other people? (The answer is “no”.)

I’ve written about it before, but it’s always good to have a reminder- reach out. If you are in need of support, ask specifically, let people help, and don’t feel bad for asking. Recently, I reached out to a few friends. I was not ok that day. I didn’t need to be fixed or helped and I couldn’t be hugged by them. I just needed to feel supported. I have friends and family and friends of family going through cancer during Covid. What a scary time… so many changes, so much more isolation. They still need support, it just looks different than before. Instead of visits in person, maybe we can support with Zoom calls, care packages or cards and letters. As always, you can pray for them. You can do this at any time and any place. It costs $0, and when multiplied can create miracles.

Support means something different to each person, and it’s different depending on the person supporting you. My friend supports me by letting me vent a either via text or phone call. My guys support me by giving me a hug. My sisters will pray for me. I have friends who will send me positive thoughts (& really mean it, not empty “thoughts & prayers.”) If any of them asked for similar support, I would NOT think they were bothering me or being needy. I would be happy to support them- and they do the same for me.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. We could all use a little support right now. Think about what that means to you, and let your loved ones know. You are enough!

When the elephant in the room sits on you…

“Horton Hears a Who” is a cute book & good movie. This lovable large elephant is what comes to mind when I think about anxiety. I’ve talked before about “the elephant in the room” being cancer… It makes people uncomfortable to talk about it. Anxiety is another elephant. This one can make it feel like the elephant is sitting on your chest. The pressure on your chest or throat can seem very real. It almost makes it hard to move. Sometimes the elephant’s trunk wraps around your throat while he’s sitting on you. It’s hard to be mad at such a cute elephant. I mean, look at that smile! 

Have you ever felt this way? If not, then please be thankful for that. It’s a crummy feeling. I switch between wanting to cry, scream or run away. Anxiety & depression aren’t talked about much, but they are getting more attention. For years, I thought it must be my fault. I should be able to just snap out of it. I would take medication and then think I was fine, so I could go off. Then I’d have anxiety attacks and realize I need some help keeping that harmony. My “tool box” (to keep my elephant in another room) is filled with support, medication, meditation, and grounding in nature.

Many people are feeling the weight of the elephant right now. If it’s not you, there is likely someone in your circle with an elephant they won’t talk about. Sit with them (even virtually)… hold space for them. I didn’t know what that phrase meant a few years ago. To me, “holding space” means to be there for someone without judgement… just to hold the space for them to process, and not try to fix it. When I reach out to my circle, letting them know I’m having a tough day, I’m acknowledging my feelings. It’s not a weakness and I don’t need to be fixed. I just need support that day.

Many of us are trying to hold it all together. Be kind, choose love and don’t assume you know someone else’s story. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. It’s a cute movie, but none of us want Horton on our chest!