8 years…

8 years ago, we celebrated my maternal grandma’s 95th birthday. Not too long after that, she passed away. She was in the nursing home and had dementia. She would know my mom some days, and other days she would tell wild stories that didn’t make much sense. My mom would visit her often, some days she wouldn’t stay for long, depending on how grandma was feeling. Whenever we came to visit, we would stop by also to see her and let the boys visit her. Even though she was sometimes a little quiet, our youngest son could always make her smile. He was a baby when my grandpa passed away. We were sure she would be soon to follow, but she surprised us by hanging on for several years.

My boys didn’t know their great grandma like I knew her. They didn’t remember her laugh or twinkle in her eye. They didn’t remember the big family meals (grandma & grandpa had 10 kids). They didn’t remember the card games and laughing until late into the night. Their memories weren’t the same as mine. I recall the old farm house only in brief spurts of memory. I remember some Christmases there. I remember being in my Crayon sleeping bag on the floor. I remember the kitchen and the drawer of treats. I remember the basement, which seemed scary as a young kid because of its dirt floor and hunting traps.

8 years ago, I hadn’t thought about the possibility of cancer. 8 years ago, my brother in law hadn’t yet had his farm accident. 8 years ago, we lived in a different town and I hadn’t thought of moving. 8 years ago, our big family dynamic changed with the passing of my grandma. As the “kids” had families of their own, our get-togethers became fewer and fewer. Some of the group would show up for a wedding, graduation or funeral. Some would show up for a reunion. A lot can change in 8 years.

We just finished “graduation season” and went to California for a wedding, hence my delay in posting. Life is short. For some, it’s far shorter than what we hope or plan for. In three short years we will have another graduate. In 8 years, who knows what will happen. One thing is certain – change. Change can be a good thing because it leads us to a new phase in life.

I try not to take birthdays for granted because it’s a gift not everyone is given … another year. So this year, we celebrated a wedding of one niece, flew to Disneyland and celebrated the 21st birthday of another niece and our youngest son’s 16th birthday. Our feet are sore from walking but our memory banks are full. What a wonderful and memorable birthday for both of them. I’m thankful to have been a part of it.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Wherever life takes you the next 8 years, make it a memorable trip!

A day disconnected…

Last weekend, we took a trip out west to see our oldest son. Since neither of us love driving long distances, we broke it up into 2 sections – part way Thursday after work, and the balance on Friday. Thanks to hotel internet and vehicle WiFi, I was able to get quite a bit of work done. We arrived Friday and got to see his house. It’s a nice place for college kids, in a good neighborhood. It’s nice to be able to picture where he is when we are talking.

Saturday we made our way to Yellowstone National Park. We saw some elk, antelope, maybe a bear & lots of bison. The last time we were there, it was winter – so it was great to see everything lush and green. They’ve had more rain than normal, so the rivers were flowing rapidly and the grass was getting long. While Dallas and Cameron fished, Myles and I checked out the geysers and hot springs. We had little to no internet or cell service – it was perfect (except for trying to contact the fishermen who had wandered up stream). A day to disconnect and reconnect with nature. Despite someone getting thrown in the air by a bison recently, people still walked way too close to them to get a photo. Their heads are large & strong and they can run 35 mph. “Do not pet the fluffy cows!” And this time of year, there were a bunch of bison calves, so the moms were extra protective.

Yellowstone bison (taken from the vehicle)

I could have sat by a stream and listened to the water all day. The hot springs were steamy and warm, but it was still chilly the day we visited the park. We just missed Old Faithful by 10 minutes, the next time it would erupt would be an hour and a half, and it started raining. So we saw some of the surrounding areas and started to make our way out of the park. A long line of traffic was stopped due to another bison traffic jam.

Dallas
Cameron
Myles
Me

I’m thankful for a safe trip and a nice visit. I learned that because of being diabetic, I need to be intentional while traveling. We were all tired and I actually had a sunburn (didn’t think about it because it was chilly and cloudy). I’m thankful for a day disconnected and time with family. My message is to slow down. Take some time to breathe deeply. Stand in nature, sit in the grass, listen to the birds and rivers. It’s easy to get caught up in our “to do” lists & forget to take time to disconnect.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Where will you go to disconnect? Some time away, (even if it isn’t far) is good for your soul.

Smarter not harder…

Most of the garden planted as of 5/23/22

You’ve heard the expression, “Work smarter, not harder,” right? Yep, me too. I’m fact, it was on a performance review of mine many years ago. One of the wonderful (insert eye roll) parts of my personality is to vividly remember almost every form of criticism I’ve received. That’s another story.

Anyway, this seems like good advice, right? Work smarter, not harder. Be more efficient, reduce waste (for my manufacturing friends), do more with less effort etc. Except if you have your worth tied to work. What do I mean? If you have no concept of this, that’s awesome… but some of us have our worth tied to how much or how hard we work. It may be self imposed, but it’s probably tied to childhood. Work was seen as valuable growing up. We needed to be hard workers in school and at home, regardless of the efficiency. For some, the love they received may also have been tied to how hard they work. You are only valuable if you’re a hard worker. No pressure, right? (Again with the sarcasm).

I had multiple jobs while in high school, along with being in multiple sports, stage band, swing choir, acting, drama, cheerleading etc. I also liked to hang out with friends and find a weekend party somewhere. All that pressure means you need to “blow off some steam,” and that’s not always done in a productive way. Fast forward many years and I still have multiple jobs, side projects and hobbies. I have yet to find a weekend party in a long time. (My priorities have shifted.) I’m always busy and I feel guilty when I’m resting or taking a break.

Unfortunately, we’ve passed on this “work” assumption to our kids also. I’m not saying they shouldn’t work, but have we shown them how to effectively rest & recharge? Not recharging their phones, not mindlessly scrolling the internet… real rest. I’ve not been a good example of this in the past. I go through spurts of self care and then I feel guilty and just charge back into more things to do. Have we shown them how to meditate, how to sit and breathe deeply, how to get lost in a good book? Being busy just for the sake of being busy doesn’t get us further in life. Our kids are stressed, over scheduled and overwhelmed. We need to encourage productive rest instead of just working harder.

I guess I just needed this reminder for myself. If it applies to you, that’s a bonus. The picture above is of our garden. (It has all been planted and got a nice dose of rain.) Now managed by the three of us, it’s a lot of manual labor. Some of it seems like extra work, and there must be a smarter way to get things done. We are slowly improving and learning as we go.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Now I’d better take my own advice and get a little rest!