No more math

This is the year I turn 50. Don’t bake a cake yet, it’s not until November. This is also the year I won’t have to do math to figure out how old I am. Not that my age comes up a lot, but if I’m filling out a form and it asks for my age, I always have to do the math. Not this year! I’m 49 until the end of November and then I’m 50.

I remember when 50 seemed “old.” I’m not sure what I thought I’d be doing at 50. Six year old me would have been a vet or worked at a zoo by now. Sixteen year old me would be an artist. Nineteen year old me would be a physical therapist who acts in a local theater. Twenty five year old me just wanted to be a mom more than anything. I don’t have a fancy job, have a big title or own a big business (I don’t think our farm counts). I am a loving wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend with a bunch of random dreams and a job that supports our family.

If you’ve followed along, or know me in person, you know I’m a list maker, a planner. I often have spreadsheets for planning work and personal things. Yes, there was a spreadsheet for our recent trip to Houston. Mainly because the plan changed and my memory isn’t as good. I wanted to make sure we saw and did the things I had looked into with some extra time for “random things.” I’ve been thinking of making a “to do” list for my 50th year. I probably won’t do a big party. It’s not my thing and quite frankly, I think only a handful of people would show up and that would bum me out. So, I think I’m going to set my intentions for this year. I’m going to make this my luckiest year yet.

Some people don’t celebrate birthdays. I’d be willing to bet, if you asked most cancer survivors, they would say they do. Another trip around the sun is nothing to take for granted. Not everyone is given the opportunity to be here 50 years. I’m thankful.

I’m a little scared about listing them because of fear of failure. What if I don’t do the things? In the spirit of stepping outside my comfort zone, I’ll share a few. Not to brag, but to dream out loud and welcome these great things into my life. (In no particular order):

  • I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii. This year will be the year I make it happen. (Feel free to send me tips on this, keeping in mind a budget for 4.)
  • I’m going to dust off my treadmill and at least walk most days. When it’s not snowy or the air doesn’t hurt my face, I’ll walk outside.
  • I will spent time in nature daily. Yes, the chickens are included with this!
  • I will create again by sewing or painting. I will continue writing and will expand my reach. I will get paid for my writing.
  • I will declutter, starting with my closet. I’ll keep only the things that make me feel great (either they are comfy or make me feel pretty.)
  • I am welcoming financial abundance this year. I can’t wait to see what this year will bring.
  • My A1C (diabetes) will be within normal range. I will reach my goal weight.

I’m sure there will be more to add. It’s not really a “New Year’s resolution,” it feels bigger than that. And more impactful… like a stretch goal I actually want to do. I understand the concept of stretch goals at work, but it always made me feel like, “your goal isn’t good enough, so list this crazy stretch goal that you’re unlikely to achieve so we can set you up for failure.”

I’m going to make a calendar reminder to look back at this post the end of December & see how the year went. I know it will be filled with wedding events for my niece, many birthdays and trips and a lot of changes. Good things are in store. Dream big, friends.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Cheers to a year with less birthday math!

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!

Fairy Rings…

According to Google, a “fairy ring” is as follows: A fairy ring is a common name for a group of redwood trees growing in a circle, usually around the stump of a logged old-growth tree. After being cut down, a new generation of trees sprout from the roots of the fallen redwood, often creating a near-perfect circle or ring.

Obviously there are not a lot of redwoods in MN. I’m in CA visiting one of my sisters. I didn’t know I’d see her twice in the last couple of months (in ND) when I booked my trip. Normally we only get to see each other twice a year. I have zero regrets. I had a free ticket that I had received for donating to the Healing Odyssey Women’s cancer survivor retreat. I had actually forgotten about it, and when I realized that I had it, travel needed to be completed by November 1. Yikes. It all worked out and the trip has been great.

Since I work remotely, I can work remotely remote – as long as I have internet & don’t miss my meetings, I’m good. Since it is two hours time difference, I need to get up early but I’m done by 3pm or so, which works out well. I’m able to take a walk at lunch time to a nearby Target store which has a Starbucks. She has a Mane Coon cat who is enjoying having some daytime company. Sunday we went up to San Francisco to a musical and a walk along the pier. It was a great performance, fun to spend time with my sister and niece, and we had fabulous fish for supper!

Monday after work, we went to the redwood forest. Walking amongst the giant redwoods was amazing. It was so still and peaceful, not a breeze or a noise other than the rippling of the small creek or the occasional hiker. These trees are so giant and so old. It’s amazing to walk in their presence and think of how many hundreds of years they have been growing. One of the trees that had fallen was dated back 2,000 years. We stood inside and under them, walked through the paths and enjoyed the smell. My sister explained the fairy rings and we stood inside several – gazing up in amazement.

Traveling refreshes me. I love to see new things and experience new places. Yes, I’m a “homebody,” but traveling ignites something special. And, I think I could eat crab cakes and clam chowder several days a week, if not daily. I think there is a quote about going into the trees to find yourself. I couldn’t find the specific quote, but I highly recommend this, if you’re able. Being in nature is so refreshing and grounding to me. And, apparently the fairy rings have some magic of their own. Check out the green light in these photos!

(My shirt is not sparking green, it’s grey)
Green sparkles above my sister too!

Wishing you peace on your journey of enough. May you find time to be in nature, to travel or to spend time with those you love.

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!

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.

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.

I thought I was in a movie…

I finally made it and didn’t slip on my way in! March in MN is always a wild card. I’ve been putting off a work trip due to COVID and the weather – we’ve had so much snow this year. It had been nicer lately, so I thought I’d squeak in a visit to Wisconsin in between track events and bowling. I picked wrong. It’s been a strange day.

I had an upset stomach today, but I figured I was just worried about traveling. I haven’t met the people at this facility yet, and I haven’t traveled for work in quite a while. I made it to the north side of the Twin Cities by supper time. I stopped to eat and my corporate card didn’t work… is it a sign? It started to rain as I climbed in the van to make it the rest of the way to WI. I asked for driving angels to surround and protect me, to get me safely to my hotel before 9:30. I’ve never been to Rice Lake, WI. I didn’t know where I was going, but Google maps was narrating my directions. I was alone. Now it was dark and rainy. The white lines of the road were faded and worn, barely visible on a good day, but they were invisible because of the rain. An occasional burst of lightning would light up the sky. Otherwise the trees, the rain and the dark road made it feel like I was driving in a tunnel. I like to be able to see where I’m going. Then a jolt of a pothole threw my phone from the cup holder to the passenger side floor. I waited to see if I could still hear Siri from there. I kept the radio low and I could hear, so I didn’t stop. The rain turned to sleet as the temps dropped from 42 to 36 to 32 to 30.

Roundabouts, navigating in the dark, the sleet, the thunder and lightning, the canopy of trees…. I felt like I was in a movie set. I could almost hear the Dateline voice narrating my story, “She was on her way to Wisconsin, but had some trouble. And then what happened?!” I kept praying for safe travels, specific requests to arrive safely, stay on the road etc. I drove through the town I’m visiting towards my hotel. Road construction. Really? Luckily it was short. The map took me through residential areas, making me wonder if I had typed in the wrong address. Ice was building up on the windows. The wipers struggled to keep up with the sleet. Then I finally saw the hotel. What a relief. The parking lot was full. I drove around to find a place to park and the sky opened up. Cold sleet came down in sheets. I had to get my bags and make it into the hotel without slipping.

I did “the penguin shuffle” all the way in. I had my winter coat along just in case, so I had a hood and wasn’t completely drenched. I was cold and wet when I arrived but I chuckled to myself as I walked in. “I wonder what tomorrow will bring??” Being a writer (for me) means I always have a story going in my head… or I wonder what things of life would be interesting to share. Do we really write our own stories? Do we pick these lives or do we shape them as we go? Either way, I’m going to take a warm shower and set the intention of safe travels tomorrow and a wonderful visit. I hope the trip home is mundane and safe. I will be leaving before dark for sure, but at least I know my way home.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. If I’m going to be in a movie, I’d prefer a rom-com instead of a scary mystery!

PS- I arrived exactly at 9:30. Thanks, angels!

Bicycle built for two…

Sometimes I need reminding, but we typically celebrate the anniversary of our proposal. I’m thankful to have a partner who is good about remembering (less thankful that he gives me a bad time when I forget.) 27 years ago, it was a rainy spring day, much like today. We had less snow compared to today. It was similarly gloomy and chilly. He had been working overnight shift and the morning show at the radio station. I was still in college and working at Red Lobster. He wanted to go for a bike ride. We often went for rides around Fargo/Moorhead, up to 20 miles or so at a time. I was crabby about it because I didn’t want to get wet and it was cold. We lived in the same apartment building. I had a basement studio and he was in the first floor.

I’m sure I grumbled something about going but I reluctantly got into some warm gear for biking in the rain. He opened the garage door, and there was a tandem bike. At first I was a little mad because we didn’t have the money for a bike. There was no person hiding to film the proposal. No Instagram post, no Snapchat story… just him and me in a crummy garage with no photo proof. He talked about being on separate paths and how he wanted to be on the journey together with me. (Hence the tandem bike) He pulled a ring box out of the bike bag and got down in one knee. Obviously, I said “yes.”

He had borrowed the bike and needed to return it. We weren’t going to ride in the rain. He told me to go in and call family/friends while he returned the bike, then we were going out for supper. There weren’t cell phones for texting or taking pictures and I couldn’t even reach everyone I wanted to tell. I changed clothes and met him downstairs. There was a limo with champagne waiting for us. He drove out to my parents’ house to share a toast with them. They already knew, since he had asked them before he asked me. Then we drove back to Fargo and ate supper at TGI Fridays, the same place we went on our first date. They used to have really good broccoli cheese soup and really thin onion rings. I’m sure I stared at the ring and probably told everyone I could.

I know I’ve told the story before, but I like to be reminded of how special and romantic it was. It’s one of those “core memories,” something that changes the course of your life. I knew him through 4-H. We didn’t start dating until after my freshman year. I balance out his “crazy,” and he makes sure I laugh more instead of being so serious. We have lots of inside jokes. We talk in movie quotes way too often. We spent 7 years together before we had kids. We traveled, did goofy stuff and had fun. We also went through hardships. In just three more years, our nest will be empty. Maybe we will get a tandem after all. (P.S. we did eventually try a tandem and it was not easy!)

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I’d say yes again, I hope he would too!

Trust…

Florida in January

My friend said she was having some serious trust issues. She was having a hard time imagining 80 degree temperature difference. She was going to be traveling to Florida from Minnesota, in January. Packing for a trip when temp is 6 degrees below zero, trusting it will be above zero (let alone 75) when she gets off a plane 3 hours later was a challenge. She wanted to pack her flannel and fuzzy socks, but was trying to trust the weather in Florida being much warmer. As I went to visit my chickens today, I found myself wondering why I live where it’s so cold. I’m sure I’d be tempted to pack some flannel too!

How often do we struggle to trust beyond our current reality? Do you trust the change you’re going through will have a better result? Are you able to see the vision/goal, or is it difficult to imagine? How challenging is it to have faith in the unknown?

If we really think about it, we are trusting every day. We trust our vehicles to safely get us to our destination. We trust our kids to be good in school. Employers trust employees to do their jobs. But there is more to trust than the physical stuff. That gut feeling. You know the one? Something just “feels” like it might be wrong or it feels like we should take a certain path. Do you trust your gut? Doing so means you have to pay more attention to what’s going on instead of running on auto pilot. Trusting your gut is an intentional pause. It’s recognizing the feeling and following it. Practice it for a while and see how reliable it is… you may be pleasantly surprised.

Five months ago was one of the biggest tests of trust for me. I drove my oldest son to Montana, trusting he would do ok on his own. I trusted him to make decisions he had never made before. I trusted that he would eat a vegetable now and then, do his own laundry and manage his money. Some things went better than others. But I also had to trust myself – trust that I (we) gave him a good foundation to get started. I had to trust that the mistakes he did make would be ones he learned from. Sometimes the struggle makes you appreciate the good times, but as a parent, it’s difficult to see your kids struggle. When you love them and want the best for them, it’s hard to trust that it will all work out. But then it does, and you realize it will be ok.

Whether you’re deciding if you should pack shorts for your trip, what your next career path should be or if you should schedule the dentist appointment, just trust. If it doesn’t go the way you thought, maybe there is something better planned.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. We only get one life at a time… live your best one. Pack sunscreen instead of mittens and you’ll be ok. (Unless you’re visiting Mn, then the mittens are a must!)

The Windy City…

I was born and raised in North Dakota. If you live there, you know how flat the Red River Valley is. It’s not a valley with mountains or even hills along side… it’s flat as a pancake with very few trees. When the wind blows, there isn’t much to stop it. When we lived there, our patio faced north, which is where the wind comes from 90% of the time in the winter. It would be 10-20 degrees cooler by the patio door when it was storming.

Five years ago, we moved to Minnesota, and I sometimes forget about the ND wind. We have trees and hills to slow down the wind. People here don’t know the dread of an “east/west road” in the winter (when the wind blows from the north, the east and west roads are the worst because the snow accumulates.) Growing up, I remember hearing about Chicago being “The Windy City.” I thought they must not be able to stand the winters if it’s more windy than ND. But Chicago’s nickname didn’t come from actual wind. The name came from politics.

In 1893, Charles A. Dana, an editor of the “New York Sun,” published an editorial calling Chicago a “windy city.” He did so in reference to the city’s full-of-hot air politicians who were advocating and wooing organizers to hold the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in the city instead of in New York.Aug 8, 2020.

I skipped last week’s post because we were in “The Windy City.” Our youngest son is a fan of The Office TV show. Even though it’s been years since it first aired, he has watched the reruns and has seen it very show (more than once). I stumbled across some info about The Office Experience opening in Chicago and thought it would make a great Christmas gift. So I planned our road trip to Chicago, starting it off with The Office Experience. It was a hit. We all enjoyed seeing the TV props, sitting at their desks, winding our way through the trivia, pictures and set replicas.

We toured the aquarium, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science & Industry, saw the Blue Man Group, went to the top of the Willis Tower at night and to the top of John Hancock building in the morning. We saw “the bean” at night and the reflection of the city was amazing. We did a lot of walking and took several Uber rides (those were interesting!) We had sleet & snow one day and ended up soaked after our walk. We had some great food and stayed on The Miracle Mile. I also forgot our Norwex masks so we had to use what we had in the car & I only had 2 Norwex, so Cam got to wear the floral. I also forgot my tennis shoes, so I walked 10+ miles a day in my snow boots. We had to alter our plans a couple of times, but it all worked out. The Chicago City pass is a great savings, but the art museum isn’t open every day and the Conservatory has a capacity limit. The pass also lets you into addition exhibits or movies at most venues. We skipped the “stand on plexiglass and see the city below you.” We were out of town before New Years Eve festivities began.

This was probably our first trip without Dallas. He was working over the holiday break so he didn’t join us in the Windy City. Life is short, we’re taking the trip. My trip planning used to include spreadsheets and binders of info (ask my uncle!!) Now, I do most of the planning on my phone, use hotel apps and Google to find info, and I’m a little more flexible than before.

I wish your peace on your journey of enough. I know not everyone was able to be with family over the holidays or perhaps it was just different from years past. May the spirit of Christmas be with you year round.