Muscle memory…

I often get asked about my pie crust. It really is delicious, if I do say so myself. I was thinking about it the other day, and realized it’s probably a muscle memory thing. I’ve been baking pies for over 30 years. The crust ingredients aren’t fancy. It’s not a trade secret. Crisco, flour, salt and water. That’s it. Oh, and the special mixing fork. The perfect pie crust just “feels right.” There isn’t a good way to describe it. I mix the first three ingredients until they look just right, and then add the water and mix it until that looks just right. I’ve taught my sons how to make cookies and Krispie treats, but pie crust is tricky. They have made them for 4-h projects, but that’s about it.

An athlete knows when it feels just right. Baking isn’t necessarily a sport, but it’s a similar concept. The Olympics started and I’ve watched a few events. We assume this is easy, but it’s not. From our couch, it seems to go by quickly. They practice hours per day. Their muscles know how to propel them through the water or twist through the air because they’ve done it thousands of times.

Watching the Olympics is always inspiring to me. I remember watching the Winter Olympics on our green and gold couch with my leg in a full cast. This was before cable TV or internet or smart phones. I wonder how many people are inspired enough to say, “I can do that.”? The age range of Olympians is impressive. A 13 year old skater, a 45 year old gymnast… think of the combined hours of practice for all of these athletes. Wow. My hours of pie making doesn’t compare… but it’s not supposed to. Olympics weren’t in my plan, it wasn’t part of my goals.

I have a lot of respect for the women’s gymnastics team. For Simone knowing when she had to stop and for the other 3 girls for stepping in and winning silver. It’s raising a lot of awareness about mental health. We all have mental health, some people are more aware of their boundaries. It’s OK to not be OK, it’s not OK to not advocate for yourself.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. While I’m making blue & red pies and star shaped cookies this weekend, I’ll be thinking of those athletes. I wonder if any of them are bakers too.

Do you validate?

I’m not talking about parking. I’m talking about validation of feelings. I often think, “Why am I writing? What’s the point?” And then I would read an article from someone else and it would make me feel like I’m not alone. So that is why. I may end of being the validation for someone else. You just never know what someone else is going through or what they need to hear. If I can make someone feel like they are validated and not alone, then I’ve done my job.

The recent articles that made me feel validated were about exhausted moms, moms of seniors getting ready to go to college, introverts needing to recharge, and the value of true friendships. Sometimes when I’m writing, I feel exposed. “Wow, did I just write that? What will someone think?” They will think they aren’t alone, they aren’t crazy, and they can get through it. There is something about feeling like you have something in common with someone that gives you a bond. You feel validated in your emotions.

So my recent dilemma is with my cat. He is a shelter cat, probably 6 years old. Neutered male who was in and out of the shelter. He was an outside cat that would do ok inside. We took him home and he lives (mainly) in the garage. He likes to visit inside, but also loves to chase squirrels, birds, chipmunks and gophers. He’s had a couple of urinary blockages. He is otherwise fine and only went to the vet for his yearly shots. Now he has been in and out of the vet, the emergency vet and now he’s referred for surgery. I guess it’s common for male cats. I had no idea. I love the cat. My sons love the cat. My husband is not a fan. I grew up with farm cats, but Toothless is different. I am not sure I can explain it, other than “he’s part of the family.”

I kept reaching for an answer… for someone to tell me what to do. I spoke with a friend who validated my feelings. Loss of a cat at this time is not something I could handle. I reluctantly drove the cat 2 hrs to a vet who can do the surgery. I brought my laptop so I can work remotely. Decisions like this are not easy. It’s one of those adult decisions I am not prepared for. Hopefully the kitty will be ok, the recovery will go well, and the payment plan will work out.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Whatever your struggle, you may be surprised at who else is also going through it or has gone through it already. We are interconnected by an invisible web, woven together with shared experiences. We just don’t always see it until later.

6 and counting…

This is the shirt I wore on Monday. I normally just wear it around the house, but I thought it was appropriate. For 15 minutes, it sat on the chair in the doctor’s office for my yearly checkup (not that kind). I’ve graduated from oncology follow up appointments being every 6 months. Now I just go yearly for in person visits, still alternating MRI and mammogram every 6 months. It’s been over 6 years since I rang the bell. Each time I walk back into the cancer center, it takes my breath away a little bit.

Today’s appointment was fairly uneventful. I did get the green light to skip the dexascan (bone density) every 2 years. Since my numbers looked good last time, the Examestane & lack of estrogen must not be creating any bone issues. Although the dexascan is not painful or uncomfortable, there is something reassuring about not having to get one done. I’m 47, so osteoporosis is not super common, but it is more likely given my medical situation (side effects of estrogen reducing drugs and total hysterectomy/menopause). The Dr also asked if I wanted to continue the meds I’m on. I said “yes,” because my physical side effects are minimal (everyone is different), and I had aunts with breast cancer more than once. If a tiny, once a day pill can prolong my life, I’m all for it. And now that I met my deductible, the $500/month is covered.

We chatted awkwardly about the weather and how I had been feeling. I had nothing to note, really. I recently had my MRI, which showed small change in right side lymph nodes, but nothing to be worried about. We talked about my vertigo and other routine medical things. It was wonderfully uneventful. As soon as he left the room and I put my “breathe” shirt back on, I did just that. I took a deep breath and texted my family & friends that I had the “all clear” for another year. I walked outside into the sunny, 85 degree day, took off my mask and took a deep breath again. I walked over to the sculpture, snapped a picture and gave thanks. I’m thankful for my health, the support of my friends and family, the ability to keep sharing my story, and for the wonderful sunshine.

Why do I share such a mundane thing? Because for cancer survivors, it’s not over when they ring the bell. It’s not over when the treatment ends, when the scars heal or when their hair grows back. It’s a lifelong sensitivity to their health, follow up appointments they don’t discuss, health scares they may worry about in silence. They become the family member or friend who had cancer. They become an expert even when they don’t feel like they are… but they have been through it. They get calls or texts or messages from people asking how to help their newly diagnosed loved one… because they have been though it. I have been through it. While it is in my past, it will still make me pause each time I walk through those doors and wait for my appointment… thankful that I can just breathe.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Wherever you are, it’s always a good reminder to breathe deep & say a “thank you” when you do. And if you’re in Fargo, ND and want a fun treat, check out the Thai ice cream rolls at Tea & Crepe downtown. We had a nice walk downtown, stopping at some shops and visiting with friends.

Presence …

In lieu of blog post Tuesday


Presence… It’s what came to mind when I took a break and walked outside today. I didn’t stop and smell the roses, but I did take a picture of my flowers. I’ve been in a slump this week. So much so that I didn’t post on Tuesday- the first time in a while. I had a post started about freedom, one about word triggers and one about presence. The one about Presence completely deleted and could not be recovered. I still felt I needed to write about it, so here I am.

I usually don’t figure out what my slump is from until I’m towards the end of it. I was out of sorts this week. The sigh of relief after the graduation party, putting the stuff away, missing out in seeing my sister more, sending Dallas off for a week at Rainy Lake, the rain (which was good), waiting for MRI results, and the moon… all of it made me want to retreat. I wasn’t present for me or for my family.

I enjoy working from home, but I often forget to disconnect. It’s too easy to forget to move around more… too easy to work just a little longer when it’s right there. I wasn’t taking time for myself. We value “being busy” so much that it seems like a luxury to relax. Have you ever thought, “It must be nice to be able to relax,”… I sure have. We value work and being busy so much that we feel guilty when we do relax. At least I do.

The last 17 months, we’ve spent a lot of time together. I didn’t think I’d miss Dallas being gone this week as much as I did. I’m used to him being gone, but normally I see him after work or on the weekends. I haven’t waited up for him this week, reminded him to bring up his laundry, fill his car with gas or bring his water jug to work. I miss his presence. I know it’s preparing me for when he goes to college. It won’t be long. He’s going to be 13+ hours away (if you drove straight through), so he won’t be popping home on the weekend. We won’t be stopping by to see him much. So while I’m missing his presence this week, I’m missing his future presence also.

Sometimes we need to acknowledge our feelings, honor those broken parts/fears/grief/frustration, then make a choice to move forward. So, going into the weekend, I’m going to try to focus on presence. Since His mercy is new each morning, I’m going to try to give myself a little mercy and grace.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.