See the light, be the light…

This past weekend, I went to a retreat with 18 other women. I almost didn’t go. 5 times. I came up with multiple excuses, mostly related to someone else needing me to stay home – even though they didn’t. They needed me to be there, to relax, refresh & reconnect.

When I returned home and my husband asked what we did, I wasn’t sure what to say. Time was strange last weekend – it seemed to go slowly and quickly at the same time. We laughed, we shared, we connected, we caught up with ladies we knew and met new friends. We did crafts, played, ate and sat by the fire. For some reason, I was reluctant to share our spirit connections. Um, I’m an author in a Wild Woman Book of Shadows book… spirit connections shouldn’t be a shock. We connected with loved ones who have passed, we acknowledged and celebrated the light in each other, we shared stories and shed old patterns. We challenged each other to level-up, be the light and share the joy. We did yoga and sound therapy, stayed up late and giggled.

This was our first retreat without our friend. She attended many in the past and this was the first one since she passed away. We could feel her presence. She sent so many signs… some were subtle and some were huge. The photo above is the fire we had one night. I was going to snap a picture because I love the cozy feeling of a campfire. After I took the picture, I noticed the green light to the right of the flame. This was not visible when we were just sitting there. It danced off to the side as I held my phone up. I was able to get a video of it. Again, we couldn’t see it just sitting there, but it was amazing. We knew it was her spirit celebrating with us.

Last year I was spinning a lot and was nauseous, so I made a conscious effort to stay grounded. While we were visiting after breakfast, I knew I needed to step away. I went to the porch, sat with my coffee and a grounding mat. I did some meditation and was setting my intentions for the day. This was the largest group of people I had been around (for the longest time) in a year. I realized it was a little much for me and I needed some time alone. The difference is, that I took the time. I actually put myself on the list of “things to take care of.” While other people might have had big breakthroughs, my small one was a big first step for me. I struggle to add myself to the list. I tend to want to do/help/give and I forget about myself. Don’t forget about adding yourself to the list!

My other “big deal” was that I sat in our circle, far from the door or the kitchen with my back to the window. You may be thinking, “So what?!” It’s a big deal for me because I like to look outside. I couldn’t do that where I sat. I also like to either be by the door so I can quietly escape or to be by the kitchen in case someone needs something. And I acknowledged this step. Silly as I may sound, my friends also recognized this change and pointed out how different it was for me to do that.

My weekend take-aways: 1) add myself to the list 2) acknowledge small steps 3) my family cannot read my mind 4) releasing control is ok 5) allow the support and friendship. There were lots more, but this was a start.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Add yourself to the list every day. see the light, be the light.

Bear with me…

5:40pm on Tuesday, I went out my front door and to the mailbox at the end of our driveway. I thought I might take a walk, but decided against it (thank goodness). I went to the back and let the chickens out to free range a bit. I figured there were some extra worms and bugs in the trees for them. They love to scratch in the leaves. I grabbed two containers to pick raspberries in the garden. I was almost done picking the beautiful fall berries (& getting eaten by mosquitoes), when my phone rang. My husband and son were in town and getting ready to go to a movie. “There is a bear in the yard,” he said very matter of fact-ly. “Not funny,” I said. “No, really, there is a bear in the front yard, it’s walking by the pine trees. The neighbor just called and told me.” Again, I said, “Seriously, this is not funny. I’m in the garden and the chickens are out.”

My heart started racing as I walked quickly past the pumpkins and closed the garden gate. I kept my husband on the phone. As I walked past the shed, I could see my chickens. They were still out, but a little frozen in place. They were quiet. I walked quickly towards the coop, whispering for them to go inside. When I looked up and to the left, there was the bear. “Oh my goodness (& some other words), the bear is right there. What do I do?!,” I whisper/yelled to Cameron. Just as I spoke, the bear ran the other direction. It had been less 50 yards away from me. I quickly got the chickens into the coop and shut the door.

The neighbor came over to make sure I was ok and that the bear was gone. It appeared to be just one. We’ve had skunks, raccoons, fox, mink, badgers, pocket gophers and now bear. (Apparently a mountain lion also but I never saw it). I checked on the cat, luckily he was in the garage because I hadn’t let him out after supper. He was sitting on his ledge, probably watching this whole ordeal. He kind of looked at me like “Nope, I don’t do bears. I’ll protect you from mice or birds, maybe a fox or deer… but bears?! You’re on your own!”

I called our oldest son in Montana and told him the story. He said to call the DNR or the state park since we live right across from state park land. I called and left a message with the state park. I texted my “holy cow” story to some friends and family, let Cam know I was ok, then I called my parents. I went back through the Nest camera footage to find a pretty good view of the bear coming through the front yard. We joke about me being a mama bear, but I didn’t think I would get that close. 6:13, the bear lumbered through our front yard. Ironically, it went right past a wooden bear totem in our trees… something that was here when we moved in.

“Bears are more scared of you than you are of them?” Um, I’m not so sure about that. I have no idea if it was a mom or a two year old – IT WAS A BEAR, that’s really all that mattered to me. I’m sure it would have been more interested in my raspberries than my chickens but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.

This is Greta. Greta is glad the bear is gone.

Regardless of its meaning, I’m glad it’s gone… for now. Tomorrow, my lunch break will be spent removing all bird feeders (even though they were empty), cleaning up the chicken treats and making sure we don’t have anything else appealing to bears. I obviously cannot remove the berries, but they are behind a fence, so maybe that will deter it a little. That’s enough excitement for one night! This week, I have my mammogram and I’m going to a retreat. I’m sure I will have some time to think about the bear and what it represents.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Hopefully there are no more bears with me, just peace instead.

Fine…

Last week, my boss asked me how I was doing. I blurted out a partial list of stressors in my life. After I felt like I puked out a few too many feelings, I said, “You probably weren’t looking for that long of an answer. Maybe ‘fine’ would have been good enough.” Or would it have?

People around me were having loved ones die unexpectedly or die slowly, both of my (vaccinated) parents were ill with COVID, navigating the school schedules of cross country practice (in a different location each day with a kid who cannot drive)/band/bowling/gym/6am swimming for cross training, weekly market baking, picking & processing garden vegetables, one son 900 miles away navigating freshman year alone and needing a vehicle to get him through winter & hopefully home for Christmas… & 100 other things. I’m not unique. I’m one of many moms (and some dads) who have a rolling check list of “to do,” “to find,” or “to get” running through their brains. So yeah, this last week, I haven’t been fine, but I consider myself lucky.

I’m spinning in my head with everything, but I’m learning techniques to make it better. I’m overwhelmed by life, but I know there are people who need and depend on me. I may be sad for others, but I’m thankful for my family. “It could be worse” doesn’t mean that your struggles aren’t valid. It’s not a competition of woe’s. Sometimes we need to let things out and release them… set them at the feet of Jesus, release them into the universe, turn them over to a higher power – whatever it is, we don’t have to hold onto it. We don’t have to pretend we are fine.

I was part of a Wise, Wild Woman conference last week. I went back and watched my interview. I need to take my own advice. Find your joy. Do the things that make you happy. “Yes” you can do what you love. Sometimes events shake us and sometimes we feel stuck. It’s ok to reach out for help. It’s ok to need someone even when you’re a fixer/helper. I know I’ve written about the subject before, but I feel like some of this was smacking me on the head & need to be repeated. If you’re swimming along and things are great, good for you. I am honestly happy for you and jealous (it’s ok). If you’re struggling, hang in there. Reach out, ask for help, talk about it out loud. Say the words you need to release. You don’t have to always be fine. Sometimes we just need to hear that it’s ok. We aren’t alone. You are not alone.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Smile when you can, cry when you need to… it’s ok to not be ok, but you are needed here.

The end…

This is the beginning of a recent cross country race. It’s one of my favorite views. The race gun goes off and the kids start running. The long horizontal line funnels down while they jockey for their spot. They try to find their pace. Don’t go out too fast and burn out, but don’t save too much so you have too much left over at the end.

Between 5K’s, half marathons, full marathons and cross country runs, I’ve lost count of how many I’ve watched or participated in. 50? Maybe more? It doesn’t matter. While the starting funnel is one of my favorites, the end is my other favorite. Not the finish line end, but the end of the pack. The kids who still are running even though many of the spectators have already moved on. They may have had to walk part of the course, they are battling an injury, struggling with the heat, or this is their pace. Regardless of their story, they are worthy of claps and cheers. They need someone to smile at them even if they have no idea who I am.

What’s the point? I know how they feel. I’m usually at the back of the pack too. I haven’t run in several years, but when I did, it was more of a slow jog. I have a friend who walks faster than I jog. At some point in our lives, we need someone to cheer us on. While it feels great to hear the loud cheers when you’re at the front of the race, the few people who cheer you on when you’re just hanging in there are important too. Odds are, either you know someone towards the back of the pack right now, or maybe it’s you. I hope you’re cheering someone on, if you’re able. It doesn’t take much – a smile, a quick text, a lunch visit, an unexpected package or treat… you never know when it might be just what that person needed to keep them going.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. “Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” Hebrews 12:1

What the cluck?

This is Noodle chicken. Pepper is behind her and Daisy is in the back. They are part of the flock of nine hens at our farm. Noodle is wondering why I’m taking pictures of her. Pepper is trying to grow her feathers back. Daisy is annoyed there aren’t more treats. Chickens are funny. They can’t smile but they have a bunch of different cluck noises and expressions. So far, it seems there is a cluck noise when they lay eggs (called the “egg song”), a different cluck when there is danger, a cluck indicating something exciting (like a frog), a cluck when there are treats, a cluck when they see me, a cluck when they are determining “pecking order,” a cluck in the morning and a different one at night. Chicken personalities… who would have thought?

This is Sesame chicken. She is wondering why Noodle was chosen for the first picture. She is usually the last one in the coop at night. She can be kind of sassy and she loves bean plants.

The chickens are pets. I could tell you a story or something specific about each one… even the new ones. They are as unique as you and I.

So why a “fluff piece” on a Tuesday? These ladies were the back drop to my interview for the Wise Wild Woman conference next week. It’s a free virtual conference with several of the authors from our book along with other amazing women. Of course I talk about my chickens a little. You’ll probably be able to see them peeking around – looking for snack.

Women sharing stories of healing and connection creates safety and opportunity for others women to show up and rise. Join us for the call of the wild ones in this virtual conference for women. I’m excited to be a part of the change we are seeking in the world today, I hope you can join us! Come receive, learn, relax, laugh, and connect with us!

https://mavisfrueh–melissacorter.thrivecart.com/wise-wild-woman-virtual-conference/

I also have some books in stock from our book launch! Message me at mavisfrueh@journeyofenough.com to get your copy today.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Hope you will be able to join us in the conference and hear from these amazing wise wild women!

If God can lead you to it…

I was scrolling through Facebook before bed, too tired to move off the couch. We did a lot of canning on Labor Day. Whatever we don’t sell at the market, we try to use in some way. Today was salsa and jam day. We made 3 more batches of mild, medium and hot salsa, 3 batches of pasta sauce, strawberry jam, blueberry jam, chokecherry jelly & strawberry rhubarb jam. It was more than twelve hours of prepping, cooking & canning. My husband carried a canner full of jars and water up and down our patio steps many times on Monday. He wore gloves & glasses to prep the jalapeños for the hot salsa. Everyone stayed safe, so it was a good day. We do the canning outside on a propane stove. It keeps the heat out of the house and it’s much quicker.

Anyway, I saw this quote from Toby Mac. He’s a Contemporary Christian artist and has lost a son. His words struck a chord with me & I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to write about. We all face struggles of some kind. Most of the time we don’t know what someone else is going through. They may have lost a loved one, struggled to get out of bed, battled depression/loneliness/anxiety, struggled with hidden health issues… the list goes on. After I was done with breast cancer treatment, I had a bit of a panic attack. I wasn’t “actively” doing anything… no more surgery or radiation, no more regular doctor visits… I was just set free to do what? Now what? It’s a strange feeling. Like maybe when you’re not fighting anymore, it will come back?

I met with a counselor at the cancer center and also met with mentor (someone who had been through breast cancer herself). I asked, “Does it ever get easier? Is there a day when you don’t think about it?” Their answer was “kind of.” Eventually it doesn’t consume your every thought… other things fill in. You make plans for the future instead of putting plans on pause, you take some chances you had held off on, you find a new routine. I’m thankful that now I have to do math to remember how long it’s been. This past Memorial weekend was 6 years since my last surgery. This coming December will be 7 years from diagnosis. The thing is, it won’t ever go away. It will always be a part of me, always a part of my story, always a concern for my family.

But I like to think I have helped others who have gone through cancer. I’ve shared tips for them and for their caregivers, I’ve sent care packages to strangers, answered questions when I could and said many prayers for healing and strength. I remember hearing, “If God can lead you to it, God can lead you through it.” FYI, this was not helpful for me. It kind of made me mad. Why did God lead me to breast cancer at 41? Why did God make me give that news to my family & take me on a journey I didn’t ask for? Why did some friends turn away and abandon me? Why was work so challenging while dealing with such an illness? I don’t have the answers. Maybe it is because I was meant to help someone else.

The same could be said for you. Have you struggled with something and then been able to help someone else? You might not even realize the impact you had. It forms a connection. I picture a spider web in my mind… a small strand connecting us to someone else. When you get enough of those strands, the web can be pretty strong.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Stop and take a moment to reflect on how you’ve helped someone else. You are here for a reason, even if it’s not apparent to you, you’ve no doubt made a difference in someone’s life. Maybe God really did lead us to it.

What if….

Matthew West has a new song, talking about living life to the fullest. My sister thought it would make a good blog post. She’s right, only I don’t feel like I can give it justice. I’m not doing these things. I’m not going all in or prioritizing right. Yes, I’ve crossed some things off my bucket list. I’ve checked off some of the things I knew I wanted, and added to the list with things I never dreamed of. But I don’t feel like I live every day to the fullest. I feel like I hold back, I underestimate my abilities, I assume infinite tomorrow’s. There’s always a someday or a maybe when… does that mean I’m filled with regrets? I’m honestly not too sure. Yes and no.

The thing with regret is, I usually think it as something in the past that I did, instead of something that I haven’t done yet. I do have some “I wish I would have” moments… things I didn’t do. I’ll let you read his words and see how it resonates with you.

What If – by Matthew West:

[Verse 1]
I’ve heard ’em say before to live just like you’re dying, yeah
Wish I could say that’s how I am but I’d be lying, yeah
Lying in my bed at night one too many times, I’m thinking
What if? (What if?) What if? (What if?)

[Verse 2]
My biggest fear is waking up to find what matters
Is miles away from what I spent my life chasing after
Is my story gonna have the same two words in every chapter?
What if? (What if?) What if? (What if?)

[Pre-Chorus]
But last I checked this heart inside my chest, is still beating
Well I guess it’s not too late

[Chorus]
What if today’s the only day I got?
I don’t wanna waste it if it’s my last shot, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
No regrets, in the end
I wanna know I got no what-ifs
I’m running ’til the road runs out
I’m lighting it up, I’m right here, right now, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
No regrets, in the end
I wanna know I got no what-ifs, yeah

Verse 3]
See I refuse to be a should’a, would’a, could’a been
I can’t go back in time, I don’t have a DeLorean
What I’m tryna say is I don’t wanna say these words again
What if? What if?

[Pre-Chorus]
But last I checked this heart inside my chest, is still beating
Well I guess it’s not too late, no no

[Chorus]
What if today’s the only day I got?
I don’t wanna waste it if it’s my last shot, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
No regrets, in the end
I wanna know I got no what-ifs
I’m running ’til the road runs out
I’m lighting it up, I’m right here, right now, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
No regrets, in the end
I wanna know I got no what-ifs

[Bridge]
I’m gonna dream a little bigger, burn a little brighter
Stand a little taller, closer to Your fire
Dig a little deeper, reach a little further
Love a little harder
I’m gonna dream a little bigger, burn a little brighter
Stand a little taller, closer to Your fire
Dig a little deeper, reach a little further
Love a little harder

There it is. I feel like I take steps forward and steps back. An open book, then a closed up clam shell… ready to take on the world, then not able to move… cleaning like crazy, then unable to put my clothes away. Adulting is hard. Please don’t give up. People need your light. It’s ok to not shine bright each day, just don’t forget about your flame.

I’m wishing you peace on your journey of enough. Peace for your heart, peace for your body, peace for your soul. May you be surrounded in love and light. Maybe the song will spark a “what if” for you too.

Someone must have…

Last weekend, we moved our son 853 miles west to Montana State University in Bozeman. We packed up 2 (pretty full) vehicles and got there on Friday afternoon. He took care of a few things on campus & we went out for supper. Move in day (Saturday for us) was scheduled in 2 hour time blocks. It went pretty well. Since it’s been 29 years since I moved to college, I wasn’t sure how things would go. We unloaded the vehicles and hauled some of the gear up the 3 flights of stairs, used the laundry carts and other carts into the elevators for the big stuff. Thankful for a cool, breezy day, we didn’t have to start the fans right away. The open window was enough to keep us from sweating.

The room is pretty small and has seen a better day. I’m thankful he is in an actual room and not a temporary arrangement like some students. We set up the loft, put down some carpet & started putting things away. He took care of his clothes and soon realized he probably brought too much. (Fewer $2 laundry loads I guess?!) He happens to be right across from the bathroom. My husband went in there and snapped a pic of the bulletin board. “Please do not wash your bike in the shower.” Not even making that up… it’s a laminated poster…. because someone must have done it before. I will always remember one of the rules from my college handbook I found amazing was “do not loft a water bed”… because someone must have. Can you imagine the mess that must have made??

Somewhere there is a notebook or a list of “things to add to the rule book” because someone must have tried it. It made a mess, created a hazard or resulted in damage. 29 years ago, I started out in a 2 room suite with a shared bathroom at the University of North Dakota. My 2nd year, I had a single room in the freshman/women’s dorm because I was a resident assistant. I thought I’d be an RA for the room and board discount. I also thought I might want to go into counseling field… until I was an RA. That changed my field pretty quickly. I was a Physical Therapy major with a Theater minor, thought of switch to psychology or counseling, ended up with a Mass Communication major and a Sociology minor, working in manufacturing. My point is… not everyone knows what they want to do. Granted, there are some people who just know what they want to do. I was not one of them.

4,000 freshman arrived on campus last weekend. Some flew, others drove… some had u-haul trucks, others had a couple of bags… some are local, others traveled long distances… some had family and friends along, others were alone. One thing will unite these 4,000 young adults – they are now all Bobcat Freshman. Will someone do something silly that will end up as a new rule for future freshman? Maybe. I hope my son is not one of them.

I fully thought I was prepared for him to go, then I wasn’t, then I was. I’m pretty sure everyone thought I’d be a mess and would be sobbing on the way home, but I wasn’t. A few tears shed when I wrote him a letter & put it in a favorite childhood book… a few tears when I hugged him goodbye. We didn’t have a fun “last week together,” or special meals before he left. Several circumstances prevented that. We didn’t acknowledge the last meal we’d share around our dinner table or how empty his room would be. So maybe I’m in denial… or maybe I’m just happy for him and proud of how far he’s come. I will miss our end of the day conversations and even waiting up for him to come home. I know things won’t be the same, but 1 day into this, I don’t know yet what it will look like. As my mentor said, “You’ve spent a year preparing for this, sharing your feelings and surrounding yourself with people who support you. You’ve created more new things aside from your kids. It’s ok to just be happy.”

So, to him and all the freshman, in the advice of my husband, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Don’t be the someone who must have washed their bike in the shower, or other crazy things. Have lots of fun, learn new things, meet new people & find your independence. Advocate for yourself and also be open to new opportunities. And call your parents every now and then, they probably miss you.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. We got this, we will get through it, and we will learn something about ourselves along the way.

I’d rather be “a little much…”

Color within the lines… follow the rules… don’t make waves… sit and listen… From the time our children are babies, we can’t wait for them to talk. Then they turn 2 and we wish there was a volume control. They may go through teen years where they rarely speak at all to us,but can talk to their friends non stop. They get ready to go to college and we wish we could talk to them in person.

As we get ready to send our oldest son to MSU Bozeman, I thought it would be fun to have their school colors (blue and gold) as my nail color. “It’s a little much, mom,” he said, after I excitedly asked what my son thought of my new (self done) manicure. It got me thinking about how many times I was a little much in my life… and how often I played it safe. The “little much” stories are lots more fun, although most people would say I tend to play it safe.

This past weekend, our youngest son and his buddy were in a bowling tournament. They started bowling last year, and something just clicked. They were both hooked. Soon they began learning the bowling terminology, talking about different types of bowling balls, shoes and lane oil patterns. They bowled with masks and had to take a break when the bowling alley shut down for a while. They signed up for the hometown/Midwest tournament and practiced a few times a week. Some days their scores would be low because they were trying out new things. 265 bowlers signed up for the tournament. The first day, he didn’t want to wear his new bowling shirt because he didn’t want to “look too professional.” So he wore his lucky bowling shirt, which is a Christmas/Dunder Mifflin shirt. He had a great day and got his highest score. He advanced to the semifinals in 2nd place. First place was the buddy he bowls with!

Day 2 (not planning on this being a multi day event), he decided to wear his new bowling shirt. He stood out, he was a little much. It was awesome. Even the announcers commented on how awesome his shirt was.

They both bowled well, and he ended up in 3rd place. His buddy was first. In bowling tournaments, the kids win scholarship money. Since we are navigating college expenses with his brother, having a head start on scholarships is a wonderful thing! I was proud of them for how well they did, but also how polite they were and how much fun they had. He went up to the organizers, thanked them and said he had a great time. I did not prompt this, he did it on his own.

The awesome thing about his shirt and my nails is that we each love them. It didn’t really matter what anyone else thought. It was fun and made us happy. Win/win. Sometimes you’ll find JOY outside of the lines. We will be packing and driving almost 900 miles one way. At least it will be below 70 instead of 95!

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. I hope you’ll take a chance and do something you wouldn’t normally do.

Spending time…

“Time is money…” “Spending time…” “Wasting time.” Somewhere along the way, we began to equate time and money. Maybe it’s because we’re paid by the hour? Or maybe we realize how valuable time really is?

“Days of Our Lives” is still a soap opera and it must have enough followers to continue to produce shows. Although I haven’t watched it in many years, I’m sure some of the same characters are still there. I could probably pick it up and be able to follow along despite a 20 year break. “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” Who would have known a TV show opening lines would have so much meaning? Time slipping away like grains of sand in the hourglass. I can picture the grains as events… moments… good or bad, happy or sad, all slowly moving to the other side. We don’t know how many we have. Each person’s is different.

Only God knows how many days we have. Some hourglasses are small and some are large. For many years, I couldn’t picture myself growing old. It worried me. “Did this mean I would die young?” I wondered if it was a premonition. It bothered me that I couldn’t envision a 95 year old me. That was probably around the same time I thought 47 seemed super old though. I’m not sure. Now I find it fun to think about the what if’s. Twenty five years ago, I didn’t imagine my life today. Marriage (grain of sand), two sons (grains of sand), 3 main jobs (grains of sand), 4 different houses (grains of sand), published author, cottage food baker… it wasn’t all on my list. How have I spent my time? Did I wisely use my grains of sand? Either way, I don’t get them back.

Tonight I spent some time with our youngest son, who is learning to drive. I spent time with him at the bowling alley. I spent some time with the cat. I spent some time talking to our oldest son, as he prepares to move to Montana next week. I spent some time making supper and dessert (spent time=saved money). Spending time seems like it has a positive spin. We also waste time too. Sometimes the wasted time adds grains of regret or guilt. These too, we cannot get back.

The passage of time has been on my heart a lot lately. Not only because of our son moving away, but seeing my great nieces and nephews change, seeing my parents age, seeing my grey hairs become more plentiful… all reminders of the passage of time. It can seem so fast and so slow all at once. I know there are some moms who will be missing their kids and others who can’t wait for summer break to be over. It’s ok. It’s ok to not have the answers. It’s ok to feel “all the feels.” It’s ok to spend your time however you want. Your journey is yours. Embrace it.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. (And if you want to spend some of your time reading a good book, I still have some for sale! )