Cat, dog, snowstorm & solstice…

Not being able to plan is difficult for this planner. The pic is of my cat on his “cattop,” which is a regular laptop size and lightly heated cat laptop. He loves it. He is not a fan of the dog though. Our oldest son (& his dog) drove home from MT early to get ahead of the winter storm. It is supposed to hit almost all of the upper Midwest Wednesday through Saturday. The cat is used to being the only pet aside from the chickens. He has had to adjust his routine. Plans had to change… work adjustments made for our son, flights changed for other family members, and meal changes (we are probably not grilling in a blizzard).

This time of year can be wonderful, but it can also be stressful. We try to plan a wonderful, magical Christmas & holiday break. We rush trying to find the right gift, plan a great meal or make everyone’s favorite treat. This year, on the winter solstice, we have winter storm warnings, blizzard warnings & wind chill warnings. Estimated 5-10” of snow, 30-50 mph winds and -30 to -45 wind chills add another layer of holiday stress. We are having remote school on Thursday. My nephews have a large number of cattle and are trying to keep them all fed, warm and alive. They had three feet of snow last week. We could make a list of issues or struggles, but this year we are especially thankful for family.

When asked what I wanted for Christmas, I said I wanted experiences instead of things. I want to spend time with family, I want to travel safely and make memories. I want to frost sugar cookies and play Bunco. I want to share holiday treats to spread joy (& also so I eat fewer goodies.) I want to take some deep breaths and smile.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough this holiday season. May your time be filled with family, friends and food. Safe travels for those traveling. Wishing peace to those missing loved ones this year too. I’m likely taking next week off from writing as I soak up some family time and cheesy holiday movies. Happy Holidays!

Journey through time…

Time is a funny thing. Some days it seems to creep along, and other times you wake up and realized years have passed by. That’s where I’m at this week. Eleven years ago, I ran my first half marathon in Las Vegas. After watching Cameron run a bunch of full marathons (26.2 miles), I thought I’d try the half marathon (13.1 miles). It was a “Rock & Roll” marathon at night on the Vegas strip. It was around the same time as the National Finals Rodeo, so we did a multipurpose trip. It was a memorable experience for sure. I finished the race, with Cameron pacing me and keeping my spirits up. Navigating the stairs of the rodeo arena the next day was a bit of a challenge. We had a fun time.

8 years ago this week, I heard the diagnosis of breast cancer. I’m sure there are some people that get annoyed when I bring it up. But, I was 41 and I want people to be aware that it can happen at younger ages, and to be advocates for their own health. 8 years ago I didn’t know where I would be. I hoped I’d be cured and healthy. I didn’t think I’d be in Minnesota. I am healthy and doing well. The diabetes diagnosis isn’t related to cancer (more related to gestational diabetes & genetics).

7 years ago, we went back to Vegas and we were able to go to the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night at the rodeo. It was an emotional experience to be there as a survivor. I felt guilt for taking a trip, but I was an important part of the healing journey. The guilt is something I’ve wrestled with for 7 years. It’s time to let that go. Because my cancer came in December, and I was healthy before that, we had to pay out of pocket for November & December appointments/procedures to meet our deductible, and then start all over again in January. It was more than we could handle financially, and we needed some help. The school put on a fundraiser for us to help with medical bills. I knew there would be people who judged us for taking a trip the same year we needed financial help. I need to let go of that guilt. They don’t know the full story. Have you heard the saying, “what people think of you is not your concern?” This applies here.

So, this week especially, I’m setting down that guilt. I’m blessing and releasing the fear, shame and anxiety that filled me up for so long. I am putting it down and walking the other way. I’m moving forward in good health and in joy, knowing I am enough. You are too. You don’t need to explain your life or your choices. You need to be happy. I honestly hope you are.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. This time of year we see many signs about peace. I hope you find it. Don’t let the outside expectations steal your joy. You deserve joy, not because of what you do, but because you are here to experience love.

Circus, hamster wheel and mind tornadoes…

I recently learned that not everyone has a dialogue going constantly in their head. Not everyone has overlapping stories, memories, to-do lists, replays of conversations, future conversations, “what ifs” & “could have dones.” I wonder what that’s like. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, empath or have undiagnosed ADHD… but it’s a circus up in my head. It’s like if you took the movie Inside Out and had them all taking at once. Even when I try to meditate, my grocery list pops in my head, or the thing I should have/or shouldn’t have said either yesterday or 30 years ago. Pause. Breathe. Relax. Let go.

I think it’s one of the reasons why I rarely see people while shopping. If I’m at the grocery store, I’m doing a mental scan of my kitchen. What did I forget? Do we have enough cream soup? Did I remember the apples? Is there enough yogurt for lunch? On top of the other stuff that races through, it’s especially “busy” while shopping. I’m less present to what’s going on around me. I don’t see the people around me, so I often don’t even know that someone I know is in the same store. When my husband does the shopping, he gets what is on the list and that’s it. He doesn’t wonder if we have enough of this or that. He doesn’t think of what meals we will have this week, what’s in the fridge and what we need for the freezer. I love him dearly, but he just doesn’t think that way. He gets what’s on the list and he leaves.

I’m sure you’ve seen articles before on how “many women are exhausted.” Those of us with this mental gymnastics competition are even more exhausted. We want nothing more than to turn our brain down, hit a pause button or have someone else take care of some of these things. Yet we probably stink at asking! Several of us are addicted to social media because we try to zone out and slow the hamster wheel in our heads. We say we are “fine” when people ask how we are doing, but many of us are hanging on by a thread. We don’t want to complain, seem needy or weak, so we keep it to ourselves.

If you’re like me, I encourage you to write it down. Whether or not you read it again isn’t really the point, (unless it’s a grocery list then maybe make a separate list.) I need to do more of this – writing it down to stop it from spinning around in my head. If I write it down with pen on a paper, my mind breathes a little sigh of relief, “Oh, ok. I don’t have to keep that thought spinning up here and try to remember.” Several of these things we don’t really need to remember anyway. Maybe if we (and myself included) start this practice (back) up in December, we can have a more peaceful holiday.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May your mind tornado be slowed to a gentle breeze, and may you find peace this holiday season. Oh, and if you see me, but I seem oblivious, go ahead and say “hi,” I’d love to visit, I was just thinking about peanut butter.