I see you…

This picture of an “invisible woman” really caught my attention. I first time I saw it was in a writing group. They asked us to write a short paragraph about how this made us feel. Tears rolled down my cheek as I typed my paragraph. It made me sad because I often feel invisible.

Sometimes we yearn to be seen and heard. It’s a validation that we are enough.

Have you ever felt invisible? I admit that invisible is my preference at a party or in a crowd. I hide behind being busy. My labels make me invisible and I lose myself. I’m not Mavis, I’m Dallas’ mom or Myles’ mom. I’m not Mavis, I’m Cameron’s wife. I lose myself to be what others want me to be, what they expect me to be. I lose myself to make sure I stay “small.” I set my own wants aside to make sure everyone else is taken care of. Self care seems selfish for me, even though I know how important it is & I encourage it for other people.

I will be the invisible helper in the kitchen. I will be the invisible chef, invisible crafter, invisible planner, invisible laundry folder, the invisible accountant. I keep a mental checklist of all of the appointments & medication refills, of every item in the house, each upcoming activity, birthday, bills to pay, who needs new socks or pants to be spotted, what homework is coming due, what trips we have coming up…. oh and then there is the list for work related stuff too. No wonder I have vertigo with all of these things spinning in my head. Don’t get me wrong, my family is great, and I know they love me. The only females around me are 6 hens, and they aren’t much help (other than the eggs).

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and to the other moms who feel invisible, I want you to know… I see you.

  • To the hopeful mom, praying for a positive pregnancy test… I see you.
  • To the new mom worried about doing “the right stuff”… I see you.
  • To the toddler mom who thinks these days will never end… I see you.
  • To the mom in the store with a kid in full tantrum mode… I see you.
  • To the mom of the 4th grader longing to fit in… I see you.
  • To the mom of tweens who wonder what happened to their kid… I see you.
  • To the mom of junior high awkwardness… I see you.
  • To the mom of a senior, taking a deep breath as their child prepares to leave the nest… I see you.
  • To the mom of a graduate, wishing for another weekend together… I see you.
  • To the mom who became a grandma, beaming with pride… I see you.
  • To the mom who became a great grandma, yearning for a more active body to keep up with those sweet babies… I see you.

I see you. I have been you or likely will become you… invisible and just wanting to feel enough in the ebbs and flows of motherhood. I have gotten used to skipping self care. It’s not something I’m proud of. I’m aware of it… it became apparent when I had cancer. I was forced to take care of myself. I was forced to say no so I could conserve my energy. But time marches on, and I became invisible again. I did “all the things” because it is easier to, right? Who am I if I’m not busy or stressed? Sometimes I feel like I’m not worthy of taking time for myself. It makes me feel guilty for taking time away from my family, partly because I know time is limited.

I’ve attended a few retreats and towards the end, we sit in a circle with one person standing in the center. We go around the room and say positive & uplifting things about the person in the center. They can only say “thank you”… they cannot dismiss the compliment, they just take it in. We fill up their bucket. We see them. I do not volunteer to go first, but I do admit that it feels good to be seen.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you truly see others and allow yourself a o be seen. I will be working on this too!

Zip lines & spider webs…

2 years ago, I was zip lining in the mountains of CA for a cancer survivor retreat. I like to remember that trip. For me, it reminds me of what is possible. It reminds me I can fly to CA, drive up a mountain by myself (without getting lost), and stay with strangers who would become friends. I can do a ropes course, zip line and do yoga on the mountainside. I can share my story, and listen to someone else’s story without fear or judgement. I grew a lot that weekend. It seems like a lifetime ago, but I think it was a turning point for me. I can do the tough things and still be vulnerable.

It’s bittersweet because we’ve lost some of the ladies from the retreat. My heart aches for their loved ones who have a void that won’t be filled. The kids who miss their mom, the spouses, friends and parents who reach for the phone and realize they can’t call to say hi. They enriched the lives of those they touched, but it still doesn’t make sense why they had to pass. Some things just don’t have easy answers.

The loss reminds me to appreciate my health, to cherish my friendships and to find JOY. It reminds me to fill my circle with people who cheer me on, even if I don’t make it across the ropes. We all have an invisible connection. When I picture it, I see a spider web. It slowly spins as we tell our stories and gain a connection. By the end of the weekend, the web was strong. Roommates, similar diagnosis, similar struggle, similar victories, similar likes and dislikes, with a common respect and a lasting connection.

A zip line in the mountains was where I found my courage. A zip line in the mountains was where I laughed and screamed and almost puked. A zip line in the mountains will hold a special place in my heart. And every year when this memory pops up, I will think of this web of connection woven between women who started with one common thread (cancer), and ended up with so many more. Your tragedy doesn’t have to define you, but it sure shapes you in a different way.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you find your own “zip line in the mountains” and don’t forget to keep your eyes open. The view is breathtaking!

Are you willing to stick your tongue out?

This is one of the many bird feeders in our back yard. It is empty. Although we’ve had some snow lately, it has melted and hopefully it will feel like spring soon. The bird feeder isn’t empty due to a bunch of migrating birds returning from their winter vacation. It’s not empty because of a wind storm or squirrels. Nope, it is empty due to the deer wandering through the yard. While this feeder closes if a squirrel gets on it, it does not close if a deer sticks its tongue through the hole to lick out the bird seed.

Pretty creative, right? The deer walking from the state park through our yard like to stop for a snack, I guess. We have 3 “winter feeders” we keep full all year. These 3 deer were having some breakfast when we looked out the patio. (Our snow is gone finally- this was a little while ago)

How often does our life not go quite like we planned it? How often are we forced to adapt? Sometimes we have to be creative, be like the deer and stick our tongue out. It might be something small like a road detour causing us to reroute. It might be a larger event – job change, a sickness, a marriage, divorce, baby or graduation causing us to adjust to our new circumstances. Will you keep walking past the feeder, not even realizing that it’s a solution? Will you pay attention to the person showing you the way? Will you take the path not yet traveled? Sometimes the detour is wonderful and exciting, yet other times it feels scary. There isn’t one right answer, you just have to be open to new ways to seek help or find solutions.

I was happy that there were deer in the back yard. If it was a bear in the bird feeder, that might have been a different story. My chickens are pretty safe with the deer. Deer are often a symbol of peace and serenity. I figured they had some kind of lesson or wisdom to share. I think the wisdom is ‘to find peace amidst the change.’ Often times, the part of change that feels scary is the lack of control… the fear of the unknown. Maybe if we are willing to stick out tongues out, we might find what we are looking for.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you find some answers you’ve been searching for, and maybe a full bird feeder or two.

Hang on!

Roller coasters. I feel like you either love them or avoid them at all costs. I’ve been on more actual roller coasters in the last 6 years than my previous 41 years combined. I’ve had my share of emotional and life related roller coasters also.

Last week marked 6 years since I rang the bell at the cancer center, signaling the end of active treatment. The 5 months from diagnosis to bell ringing was a fast roller coaster. It had lots of twists and turns. It made me sick to my stomach at times, elated, feeling like I was just dropped 7 stories, smiling, upside down, laughing and wanting to scream. It felt like the slow “click-click-click” as you inch towards the top peak, and the racing/rattling of the downward descent. You feel relief when the ride stops, but then you realize that wasn’t the end. There is another section. It might be the lazy river but it might be the corkscrew or a 100 year old wooden roller coaster. You might even get stuck at the upward ascent (this actually happened to us – someone had their phone out and was going to take pictures, which is against their rules).

The last 6 years have had plenty of roller coaster moments, but none as quick as those 5 months. I could almost break the last 6 years up into separate “rides.” …Cancer treatment…recovery…selling a house…moving…having teenagers…starting a new job…loss of friends…loved ones with cancer…pandemic…distance learning…starting a farm & business…writing for a compilation book. Each different in their own way, but not without their twists and turns. The roller coaster in the photo happens to be one in the shape of a cancer ribbon. I thought it was fitting for me. Your roller coaster will look completely different. Yours may be full of people or just have a few. You might be laughing the whole time or scared to death. You may feel like you are completely in the dark or basking in a bright sunny day. None of it is wrong, it’s just part of life.

There are some upcoming roller coaster rides that I’m aware of – graduation, moving the oldest son from MN to MT, having a chapter published in an actual book, adjusting to one son at home, driver’s ed… but there are so many that aren’t planned also. There will be times we want to close our eyes and hope it will end and other times when we want to enjoy the view. I’m thankful to have you on my roller coaster ride. Wait, do rides make you sick? I’ll sit in front.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May your roller coaster ride have some great times, with you in the front row. Throw your hands in the air, take some Dramamine and don’t forget to take the change out of your pocket. Hang on!

For the birds….

I was recently looking for an upgrade in eyeglasses. Normally, I’d have one of the guys come with me to help narrow it down. I mean, they look at me way more than I look at myself. But, due to COVID19, I had to go alone. I couldn’t try on 50 pairs either. I normally have a difficult time deciding. I had to leave it all in the hands of the eyeglass expert.

If you’re new here, letting go of control is not easy for me. To just sit there while she chose the glasses FOR me was a big test of strength. She came back with 5 pairs. Wait, where are the other 45? How will I pick from 5? The first one was cute, second one was too small, 3rd one was cute, 4th was too tight and the 5th one was funky. I narrowed down to 3, took pictures and send to my husband. While I was talking to him to see his opinion, she told me the funky one has actual feathers on the side. What?! Ok, never mind, that makes the decision so much easier! So my new glasses will be “from the birds” instead of “for the birds.”

It’s so easy to stay in the middle. To stay safe and comfortable and not make changes. Sometimes it’s fun to go a little outside the lines. I used to be more fun. I used to not follow the rules or worry as much about what people thought. I’m trying to get a little bit of that back… perhaps a new “middle ground” that has a little more harmony. Aside from new glasses, I have a few other things up my sleeve. You’ll have to wait for them to unfold. One of the big ones is becoming a published author in June. I’ve submitted my 2,000 word chapter for a compilation book. “Why do you want to be a published author?” Because it will feel like a validation for me, it will be outside of the middle ground and it will make me feel a little more enough.

What kind of shift can you make? What will stretch you outside of your middle ground? Maybe it will be for the birds and maybe it will be from the birds. Whatever it is, it will be enough. Peace be with you on your journey of enough.