Hidden victories…

First of all, it’s a temporary tattoo. I’m too scared of the pain to get a real one. Maybe someday. I do like the image though. It reminds me of making a wish. Making a wish on a dead weed doesn’t sound as appealing. It’s all about perspective.

Secondly, I’m celebrating a “non scale victory” by wearing my wedding ring again. I haven’t been able to wear it for a while due to weight gain/inflammation. Since being diagnosed diabetic in April, I’ve worked hard to watch what I eat, be more active and add some supplements to help me shed 25 pounds. I have 25 more to go, but I will get there.

It’s a hidden victory… one that I might not normally celebrate, but today I am. We all have our hidden victories that we are too afraid to share. We may think it’s not a big deal or nobody will care, but we should acknowledge and celebrate these wins. I’m quick to dismiss my wins. And I realize that negative self talk just keeps the negativity swirling. Not that I need to be “Mary Sunshine” but a negative narrative attracts more negativity. Pretty soon you forget to see the good. You’re only focused on the 25 more pounds to go, not the 25 already shed.

Instead of thinking about how much I want to overindulge in sweets, I can think about all of the fresh veggies we are growing. I can focus on a smaller portion of my favorite snack or pairing it with protein, water and a walk. I can be thankful for the time in nature instead of focusing on the deer fly buzzing around my head (trust me, that was not easy).

I’m a work in progress, friends. We all are, regardless if we admit it or not. I’m here to support you, cheer you on and not judge. Take a few minutes to celebrate a win, small or large, one that impacts you or a bunch of people.

Our walk last night led us to a secluded pond where some ducks were enjoying the evening. Another small victory – hiking without vertigo.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Peace is something I’ve been seeking a lot lately. Perhaps I need to pause more, make a wish on a weed and recognize the small victories. You are enough. Just as you are.

Busy beaver…

I couldn’t resist the pun. My job has taken me to Cumberland, WI this week and the school mascot is a beaver. Kind of fitting for the busy week it has been so far. We had a big system upgrade and the teams of people who have been working for years on this project have come together for the “go live” event.

This trip was different for me in a couple of ways. I haven’t spent much time away from my family in the last 2 years. I haven’t spent 10-12 hours/day in a conference room with 15 other people in quite a while either. I miss the family. I could do without a conference room full of people for a while.

What have I learned this week? 1) I overestimated the amount of time I’d have to read. 2) Not all Holiday Inn Express hotels have scrambled eggs. Some have sour coffee, but sugar free cocoa (I don’t understand). 3) I like routines. 4) Not everyone thinks about food all day. 5) I am thankful for my home office. 6) We could use a Kwik Trip near our place at home. 7) My mind wanders in 1,000 directions and by the end of the day, I’m exhausted. 8) It’s ok to leave for lunch at 11, especially if your blood sugar is low. Nobody cares. If they do, they don’t say anything. They’re probably jealous you took initiative and they’re waiting until 1pm to eat.

I didn’t find myself in Wisconsin. I wasn’t lost. I did learn some more about myself and I feel much better when I can take a pause. I’ll let the beavers be busy while I recharge. Back at it again tomorrow, but looking forward to the weekend. Now if you’ll excuse me, Redwood Bend is calling my name, and 5:40 am will come soon enough.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Stay busy but know when to pause. You’re worth it!!

Have to?

How often do we say we “have to” do something? I know I do… I many times a day. I have to get up earlier. I have to feed the chickens. I have to check my blood sugar. I have to vacuum the carpet. I have to drink more water. I have to go for a walk. Some of these things really do need to be done and some could wait. When I say the phrase “have to” it feels heavy to me. It feels like a burden. It feels like it’s something we are forced to do instead of something we want to do.

We have to… says who? Are we imposing these rules on ourselves or does it come from elsewhere? I don’t really have to write each Tuesday. It’s not part of a job. It’s something I get to do. Getting to do something instead of having to do something has such a different weight and feel. Getting to do something sounds more like an honor or privilege. People don’t usually say, “I have to get ice cream,” normally they say, “I get to have ice cream.”

Words matter. What we tell ourselves matters too. I’ve had a lot of things going on in my life that I’ve not written about, but all of those things swirl around in my head. I’m not great about “positive self talk.” I’m quick to dismiss compliments and I’m very hard on myself. I try to catch those thoughts and flip them, but it’s an ongoing struggle. I don’t think many people wake up one day all cheery and mentally well adjusted with a wonderful positive tract in the background of their mind. I tried adding some affirmations to my walls to have a visual reminder. Not quite the kitty hanging on a tree, but close. My pessimistic side says they are cheesy. I read that our minds don’t really know the difference between what is actually happening and what we are just thinking about. Are you thinking about what you have to do and all the struggles with it? It’s shaping your day. It can feel like a hamster wheel some days and it’s hard to jump out.

Sometimes I feel like this mushroom in the woods, growing silently in the shade. If I’m stressed out, am I acknowledging it and moving on or dwelling on it in the dark? What’s feeding my thoughts and shaping me into who I am becoming? There are currently 4-5 different kinds of mushrooms in our woods. They grow out of the stumps, in pine needle piles and on the side of the logs. We just got more rain so there will be even more sprouting up. They grow despite the lack of direct sunlight. They don’t need the spotlight to thrive.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Whether you’re in the shade or basking in the sun, your journey is your own, and you get to have a great day.

How “prickly” are you?

If you know me personally or have read my blog before, you probably know (or have learned) of my personality. I’m an introvert, sometimes speak my mind too much and I’m not a big hugger. Some might call me aloof, or even prickly.

As I took a mental health break to pick some berries today, I started thinking about how similar I am to black raspberries. These delicious gems are sweet and firm (ok maybe they aren’t completely like me!) The thorns on the plants are NO JOKE! Not only do they have rose bush size thorns, they seem to want to stick to your clothes. What a defense mechanism! Protect the fruit and don’t let anyone or anything get too close. Sound familiar?

It’s easier to put up defenses than risk getting hurt. But, in doing so, we may hurt the people close to us. The people who just want to love us. The people who know me well don’t often think I’m an introvert because I will talk freely around them. (Sometimes WAY too much with hand gestures and facial expressions etc!) But many people don’t get to know that side of me. They just see the thorns and back away. Sometimes when I try to open up, I go too far and don’t stop talking. As I see their face indicating they’d rather be somewhere else, I regret the decision to let my guard down.

The thing about black raspberries that’s different from our other raspberries (aside from the thorns), is the way they reach out. These thorny plants will grow long canes that reach to the ground and root. The other raspberries spread new plants from roots beneath the ground. The black raspberries spread out above ground. They also quickly overtake an area. I feel like writing is my way to reach out “above ground” where anyone can see it. Even though I don’t have thousands of followers, that’s ok with me. It keeps me a little safer and less exposed to other people’s thorns. I’m sure you’ve noticed that people on the internet can be pretty cruel sometimes. I don’t recover well from those things. I’m learning about some ADHD traits and “rejection sensitivity” really struck a chord with me. That’s a post for another time but if basically means I have a hard time getting over rejection.

These long canes/branches will root into the ground to create new plants

So, if you have a prickly friend, be patient with them. The fruit of their friendship might be worth it! We can complain that the raspberries have thorns or be happy that the thorns have berries! I wish you peace on your journey of enough.

Mystery cave with a side of mystery…

Mystery Cave

This past weekend, we went camping in southern MN to the Forestville Mystery Cave State Park. We hadn’t been camping in a while due to Covid and other conflicts. We arrived Saturday, (got a little lost thanks to Google maps), but eventually found our cabin. We unloaded the vehicle, set up camp and made supper. Campfire cooking is my favorite. My husband makes wonderful meals over the fire. We played some yard games and tested our skills at some new axe throwing games (not real axes!) After supper, we went on a hike though the forest. It was a beautiful area. We saw some deer, lots of white moth/butterflies and a sea of lightning bugs.

Beautiful sunset at camp

Sunday morning I woke up with vertigo that would not go away. I couldn’t walk a straight line. I looked like I was drunk without drinking. I’ve had vertigo before but it is usually quick to resolve. This was not. We had a cave tour scheduled and I didn’t want to miss it, so I held it together as well as I could and went. The Mystery Cave was neat. 48 degrees cool, always constant temp. 13 miles of caves, but we were on the easy tour that lasted an hour. I held the railing and shuffled my feet to maintain balance. It felt like I was walking on a bounce house instead of in a cave due to the vertigo.

After the cave tour, we went to “historic Forestville” for a tour of the town. I had gotten a walking stick to help steady me, but I wasn’t feeling well. The whole time that Art was talking I kept trying to will myself to stay upright. After the tour, I tried to have some coffee, thinking that might help make me feel better. It didn’t work. I was sitting outside and started vomiting. But then I was vomiting blood. I asked to quickly leave so we could find medical help. This State park is not near a large town, and it was Sunday. With no cell signal it was difficult to find the nearest clinic. The closest one was in Rochester. Thankfully I had some “puke bags” in the car for the ride to town. The clinic was a basic clinic and suggested we go to St Mary’s/Mayo, so we did. Apparently if you are vomiting blood, you don’t need to wait in the waiting room.

My son came with as they took me back to a room and my husband tried to find parking. It was like a NASCAR pit crew of people putting on sensors and hooking up IV and asking questions. By this time, I was still throwing up, but they gave me an anti nausea medicine to help. They ended up doing a head/neck CT to rule out anything brain related, and did an abdominal CT to make sure there wasn’t active bleeding. They did an EKG and a bunch of lab work. It all came back ok. There was no real reason for this mystery illness. It couldn’t be explained other than Vertigo. They made sure I could keep down some graham crackers and water and sent me on my way.

We opted for the Holiday Inn down the street instead of going back to camp. The guys got some basic supplies and Gatorade for me. I was able to rest. We went back to the campground in the morning to pack up. I still felt dizzy but kept small amounts of food down. I had to take of my glucose monitor for the CT scans so I was checking my blood sugar manually. It was in a good range. We made the four hour trek home.

The mystery illness is still a mystery. I’ll follow up with my doctor here to see if we can figure out where the blood came from. I guess if I was going to get sick, having it happen near one of the best hospitals was a good thing. Now to get back on my feet and not feel like I’m on a ship!

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. I hope to solve my mystery soon!

Just go with it…

My favorite gentleman at the Minion movie

It’s been five years since a Minions movie came out in the theaters. When the Minions were at their peak, they were Myles’ favorite. “Minion Myles.” He had Valentine’s boxes in the shape of Minions. We had more than one birthday party with Minion themes. There were Minion backpack, pajamas, shirts, slippers and toys. The first Minion movie came out in 2010. He was 4. He grew up with these little yellow dudes.

In the fall of 2015, we went to California. Part of our trip was to Universal Studios. Minions everywhere!!! Minion rides, Minion characters, Minion stores, Minion foods and a carnival similar to one of the movies. Both boys played carnival games. Myles won & we thought his prize was a small stuffed toy. Nope, it was a giant Bob Minion. It was almost as large as him. He won this in the morning, so Cam got to carry it around all day. It has stayed with us all these years. Today Bob made an appearance at the Minion new movie.

There are trends on social media of teens dressing in suits to attend the movie. Some media outlets have covered it, tried to explain it and failed. “You just can’t explain it mom, just go with it.” So I did. Of course he had the suit already. Just needed the Bob Minion to ride along in the car and pose by the marquee.

The movie was cute. There were references to the previous movies and to other popular movies etc. It was a fun night. Pretty soon we won’t be going to movies together. Only three years of high school remain, and I’m guessing I won’t be his choice for movie date. That’s ok, it’s part of growing up. For now, I am happy to share the time together.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Even if you don’t fully understand the reason behind it, sometimes you just have to go with it. You might have some fun along the way!

Minion Valentine’s Day box

Who is steering your ship?

A recent trip to Disneyland meant lots of walking, lots of rides, lots of sun and lots of water! Of course there was some shopping & pin trading thrown in. We also got to celebrate our niece’s 21st birthday and our youngest son’s 16th.

The movie, “Inside Out,” is a Disney movie about all of the emotions in the character’s head. Each has their own role, but Joy is the leader. They have a “command center” type set up. Joy zooms around, trying to keep the happy thoughts driving, but sometimes Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear take over. Joy tries to calm Anger, reassure Fear, cheer up Sadness and please Disgust. She occasionally looks exhausted trying to keep everyone happy. Who is steering your ship?

This photo is of me, standing by the “Disgust” character near the ride called “Emotional Whirlwind,” which we did not ride. For many years, Disgust would have been the one steering for me. I was usually annoyed and didn’t have much of a filter. I don’t have a poker face, I have a resting b*tch face – before it was actually a phrase. I’d like to think I’m different. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not Joy all the time, but I’d like to think she steers more often in the last few years. Sadness had her turn and Fear still reluctantly takes the wheel now and then. But Joy is the one coordinating things.

One thing I like from the movie is the idea of core memories. These are memories that shape who we are and how we feel about ourselves, our lives and our environment. We often talk in our family about the trips we went on when the boys were little – they don’t always remember the specifics, but to me, the trips are a core memory. They invoke a feeling of adventure and love. Maybe that’s not the case for them, but I hope so. There are many pictures and photo books of those trips though, so that sometimes helps jog a memory.

I also like the rainbow unicorn from the movie. She is magical and sassy. While she isn’t an emotion, she is an imaginary friend. She goes with the girl on adventures and inspires her imagination. If the unicorn could drive the ship, I think she would try! She would be the one to encourage a coloring book or an ice cream cone.

There is a lot going on in the world now. It can seem overwhelming. Who is steering your ship? Are you letting Anger take the wheel? Is Fear stepping into the drivers seat? They can all take turns, but if Joy isn’t the leader, the road can seem dark. I’ve written about it before but I need the reminder myself. What sparks your JOY? What makes you smile or laugh or feel loved & alive? Make some time to do that thing, have that experience or be with the person who lights you up.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. I wish you enough Joy to make you smile and so much that it pours out into others too. Not in a “toxic positivity” way, but in a real, honest quest for JOY. Let her steer for a bit.

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!