Nostalgia, like a warm hug…

I skipped writing last week. Sorry if you were looking for it. I’ve still been struggling with some things. Here I am this week though, ready to go. By the time I post this, I will be traveling to Montana. I’m so excited to go back to Bozeman for Thanksgiving. I’m also thankful for a friend willing to check on the chickens and cat, thankful I remembered to hold the mail and thankful for a Nest camera to keep an eye on things at home.

As I was in Target on Sunday, I walked by the hats and gloves and had to do a double take. This hat instantly reminded me of my grandma and the crochet turtles she made for all of the grandkids. Now this same pattern is in a hat and a headband. It isn’t the olive green, gold and autumn orange colors, but it’s the same pattern. She made pillow turtles for all of us. It was a backrest for Saturday morning cartoons or a pretend horse, depending on the day.

The old is new again. I’ve seen it many times. “Mom jeans” becoming cool again. The acid washed jeans, folded & rolled ankle … I’m waiting for the stirrup pants to return too. (Although I don’t think I’d jump on that trend) I’m not sure why the style trends rotate back around. Some of these are likely nostalgic – maybe a designer also had a “Grandma U” and they wanted to remember her.

Why do these things make us smile, make us feel comforted, like a warm hug? It reminds us of a happy time or of a loved one who has passed. As we approach the holidays, food often triggers a memory also. I remember my grandma B’s gingersnaps, not much larger than a half dollar coin. I remember my uncle playing guitar and my one cousin with a Christmas birthday. I remember finding my grandmas Siamese cat hiding from the visitors. I remember my grandma U’s “Christmas dessert.” I remember the house filled with laughter and games. I remember decorating sugar cookies in our farm house kitchen, a tradition that I’ve continued with my kids. I remember the molasses spritz cookies, still requested this year. Our Angel tree topper was made by my grandma. Some things make us smile and other times we might scratch our heads.

While I may not jump on board the acid washed jeans trend, some of these old things becoming new brings a sense of comfort. I’m instantly transported to those memorable events. I may not remember what I received as gifts each year, but I will remember the laughs, games and food of the holidays.

Wherever your holidays take you, I hope you’re able to have a hug of nostalgia. I hope you’re able to pause and think of all you have to be thankful for. May peace be with you on your journey of enough. I’m thankful for all of you who take the time to read and/or share my posts.

What did you say?

I was at a loss. What do I write about this week? Last week, my post got more views and comments than I’ve had in a while. Which is awesome, but sad because of the topic and so many others feeling overwhelmed and alone. Also, it makes me question myself, wondering “will my words this week be enough?”

So I went back to a suggestion from a cousin of mine about listening. In response to a post about using your voice, she suggested writing something about the value of listening. I thought this was good and probably relevant to my previous post.

Silence often makes us uncomfortable. If there is a pause in the conversation, people tend to want to fill it with words… any kind of words. Sometimes when someone is talking, the other person is only thinking about what they will say next. They may be trying to come up with the perfect solution, “one up” the person talking, or even thinking of how to change the conversation topic. It happens a lot – people will get interrupted by being talked over. It makes them feel like their view or story is not important.

Remember the telephone game when you were a kid? This is how I remember it: A row of people would be lined up. At one end, a teacher whispered a sentence. That person whispered it to the next, they relayed to the next… and so on, until it came to the last person. They said the sentence out loud and it was completely different from what it started as. The point was to show how gossip and rumors change as the story gets passed to different people. Was everyone really listening or did they just hear what they wanted to hear? Or was their mind racing with what they could add? I think if you tried it now, kids might try to bend the story on purpose, but who knows?

In some of the groups I’m in, they talk about holding space for someone. I feel like it’s the ultimate expression of listening and compassion. Holding space means listening without trying to fix. Acknowledging the person and their story, but not talking over it or trying to change it. It also means you’re not playing “the telephone game” and telling everyone else. Instead, you’re praying for or with them, asking for things to work out for their highest good. You’re giving them a space to be themselves, feel their feelings, and be heard. (Just don’t absorb their story, it’s not yours to hold onto.)

Want to talk to someone who will listen and won’t interrupt you? Talk to a higher power – God, Mother Nature or the universe, whatever you connect with. Or, talk with a loved one who has passed. It’s an amazing feeling when you can sense their spirit with you. They may have shed their earthly body, but their spirit is still alive. It’s something we forget about, but it can be helpful and healing… and most of the time they don’t talk back.

I remember growing up in a small town in ND. Our Lutheran Church had a thing called “Junior Lutherans.” I’m not sure what the point of it was, it was different from Sunday School. I remember two older ladies who had either never married or were widows, would lead us in songs. One of them was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” I can still hear their shaking voices and picture their small stature and blue-grey hair. I think I could recite the songs still, but if you’re not familiar, here are the words:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer! 2Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer. 3Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

We all need to feel seen and heard, even if we don’t like the attention. We also need to be able to listen. Really listen. I hope you’re able to have someone who really listens, and to be the same for someone else. And, know that you can always take it to the Lord in prayer. He’s not too busy and he doesn’t have a cell phone to distract him.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you really listen to someone this week. Also, listen to nature and the changing seasons upon us. The leaves crunching beneath our feet will soon be covered with a blanket of snow. There is peace in the stillness.

I just couldn’t…

I missed my blog post Tuesday yesterday. I don’t get paid for this or have an editor to report to, it’s a self imposed timeline. I just couldn’t. Some things happened in the last week or so that were a bit triggering for me and I needed to take some time. It didn’t feel authentic to write about the beautiful fall weather when I was feeling down. I still don’t feel like Mary Sunshine but I’m taking steps forward and that’s a good thing.

I took a walk at lunch down to the dam. Breathing in the crisp fall air, hearing the leaves crunch below me, the squirrels gathering nuts for winter and the soothing sound of the water trickling down the rocks was just what I needed. It was part of what I needed. I also needed to be open/honest, but how much do I share? It didn’t seem right to spill everything out to anyone when I haven’t expressed things to my friends, family, co-workers etc.

In the past year, I can’t tell you how many times I have felt like a failure. It’s a lot. Of course I wouldn’t call anyone else a failure for similar things, but this is how my mind works. Messy house = I fail at keeping it tidy. Extra weight = I fail at eating healthy. Anxiety = I fail at doing the things that keep me balanced. Too much debt = I fail at managing money. Son struggling with money management = I didn’t model it well or work with him enough. Depression = I have too much to be thankful for to be depressed. Communication issues = I’m a bad wife/mother. Stack of unsold books = I fail at promoting myself. Cat sickness = I fail at being a good cat mom.

Unfortunately this list could go on. You get the idea. Our church is starting a worship series about the perfect family. Spoiler alert – there isn’t one. We all have issues, history, skeletons in the closet, you name it. The picture perfect “social media worthy” photos don’t tell the whole story. Sometimes we reach out and don’t find the help we thought we’d find. Sometimes we reach out to someone else who seems to struggle, but they don’t want our help. It can be so hard, yet we don’t talk about it. We don’t allow ourselves a bad day.

Then, on my way back home, I spotted a penny. I always pick them up, smile and say “thank you.” It’s usually a message to remind me that I’m not alone. The year often means something also… the year on this one? The year my husband graduated high school. Yep, I’m not alone. Neither are you. Sure, life can feel lonely at times, but we aren’t alone. Someone cares for you. If it doesn’t feel like it right now, reach out. You might be surprised in a good way. Perhaps your circle needs to change if those people aren’t supporting you in good times and tough times. Everyone experiences ebbs and flows.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. If you feel like you “just can’t,” reach out… get support…allow yourself to pause.