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! )

The village changes…

Shopping at Target, I walked by the cute little newborn onesies & mini dinosaur socks on my way to the dorm room supplies. Instead of sippy cups, I’m looking for water filter pitchers. The mental list is a long one, so I try to write random notes when I think about it… extra forks & spoons, ibuprofen, scissors, Kleenex etc. There is a Target in Bozeman. I’m not sending him out into the wilderness alone. He is fully capable of getting anything he needs. This isn’t an episode of Survivor.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think your village must shift around this stage of life. The village changes to support the moms. I cannot speak for the dads, I feel like many of them don’t talk about this stuff. I’ve seen my village shift over the last 8 months. From supporting me while I looked through senior pics, to helping get ready for graduation open house, and now as I navigate the “last 16 days”””… it’s my friends and family who have picked me up. My village is changing.

  • A friend reminding me to journal out my feelings and (safely) burn the paper…
  • My sister sending an encouraging card…
  • A friend helping me navigate trying to get residency for a new state …
  • A friend listening to me wonder out loud about financial aid and logistics…
  • My sister sending a text to let me know she’s thinking of me…
  • Encouraging words from a friend who has been there…
  • A hug…
  • My husband’s patience as I order another “must have” from Amazon or Target, based on the Bobcat parent group or the ‘Grown and Flown’ group…

I feel like I’m prepared for this some days and other days I read an article about time flying and my eyes get misty. It’s so confusing to feel excited for him, nervous, sad, guilty and happy all at once. It’s strange because we didn’t have a senior year of “lasts” since he was enrolled at the tech school at the same time. It seems like the summer has flown and now I’m starting to use my packing list. I did pick up some extra Kleenex today and a really cool fan came to the door step from Costco.

The past 7 years, I’ve learned to ask for help (more than before). I’ve built a support system and had it shift and change. I’ve tried to prepare him to be out in his own, and he’s made me proud so many times. My village is changing and that’s ok. I’m thankful for those who have stuck with me and continue to support my roller coaster ride.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. If your village is changing, that’s ok… and if your new college momma is randomly teary, let her tears flow. Next time she will be sharing about the fun college adventures of her new adult.

Zip lines & spider webs…

2 years ago, I was zip lining in the mountains of CA for a cancer survivor retreat. I like to remember that trip. For me, it reminds me of what is possible. It reminds me I can fly to CA, drive up a mountain by myself (without getting lost), and stay with strangers who would become friends. I can do a ropes course, zip line and do yoga on the mountainside. I can share my story, and listen to someone else’s story without fear or judgement. I grew a lot that weekend. It seems like a lifetime ago, but I think it was a turning point for me. I can do the tough things and still be vulnerable.

It’s bittersweet because we’ve lost some of the ladies from the retreat. My heart aches for their loved ones who have a void that won’t be filled. The kids who miss their mom, the spouses, friends and parents who reach for the phone and realize they can’t call to say hi. They enriched the lives of those they touched, but it still doesn’t make sense why they had to pass. Some things just don’t have easy answers.

The loss reminds me to appreciate my health, to cherish my friendships and to find JOY. It reminds me to fill my circle with people who cheer me on, even if I don’t make it across the ropes. We all have an invisible connection. When I picture it, I see a spider web. It slowly spins as we tell our stories and gain a connection. By the end of the weekend, the web was strong. Roommates, similar diagnosis, similar struggle, similar victories, similar likes and dislikes, with a common respect and a lasting connection.

A zip line in the mountains was where I found my courage. A zip line in the mountains was where I laughed and screamed and almost puked. A zip line in the mountains will hold a special place in my heart. And every year when this memory pops up, I will think of this web of connection woven between women who started with one common thread (cancer), and ended up with so many more. Your tragedy doesn’t have to define you, but it sure shapes you in a different way.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you find your own “zip line in the mountains” and don’t forget to keep your eyes open. The view is breathtaking!

Never too old for “firsts”…

This past weekend, we flew from MSP to Bozeman. We had originally planned to fly to Kalispell, MT when we thought that’s where our oldest son was moving. We were scheduled to go over October break, but things were too risky with Covid, and vaccines hadn’t come out yet. Between then and now, he decided NOT to move to Kalispell, or to go to Billings. He wanted to see Bozeman once more before moving there and get a feel for the town. It’s 170 days until he moves away.

There were a few “firsts” on this trip.

  • First time traveling without snacks
  • First time changing flight plans a week before the trip
  • First time flying first class
  • First time in Yellowstone National Park
  • First time on a winter wildlife safari
  • First time seeing a wolf pack surround an elk
  • First time in the Bozeman airport
  • First time flying during a pandemic
  • First time in a Murdoch’s store
  • First Roost chicken and Red Tractor Pizza

I’m sure there are more “firsts.” Each time we travel, we try to eat somewhere new. (Or at least somewhere we can’t go to at home… so no McDonald’s, Culver’s, Taco John’s etc). We had a big lunch one day and were too stuffed for supper. Instead, we decided to go out for ice cream. I might have added it to the list, but I can’t guarantee it’s a first time having just ice cream for supper. It for sure is the first time we’ve had ice cream AND shared huckleberry shakes for supper. (It was amazing!)

While we sometimes remember the “firsts,” we aren’t always sure when we will have the “lasts.” The last time our kids held our hand or wanted to sit on our lap. The last time we heard someone’s laugh. The last time we hug someone we love. A friend of mine has gone through a lot of loss in the last year. A LOT of people she knows and loves have passed on. Some of them were known to be passing due to illness and some were sudden. It’s a lot for our hearts to bear. We want to help others navigate their loss, while still trying to process our own. We miss seeing them in person. We miss their smile, their stories, their touch. Was our time together enough? What do we remember most? Memories & pictures are what remain after they are gone. The other “stuff” left behind is just that. Stuff. It’s those moments of joy that bring us back to the time when they were here physically.

It’s one of the reasons I like to go on trips. Memories. Moments. Joy. A little escape from regular life that carves out some firsts…. some “remember when?…” It’s putting a pause on Groundhog Day and making room for some Pennies from Heaven.

As we flew into the Bozeman airport, my son said, “Can I just live here forever?”… and that’s when my mommy heart knew that my boy had found his place. He will be living in a beautiful town, surrounded by mountains and streams and abundant wildlife. He will have so many new “firsts” coming up. I hope someday he will remember this trip and smile…and know how very loved he is. I’m so excited for your journey, buddy. You are always enough.

I wish you all peace on your journey of enough. If your heart is hurting and missing the “lasts,” think back to the “firsts” and go create some new ones. You might just find some signs from your loved ones when you do. We found pennies and quarters on our trip. Each time, I stopped and smiled, and my heart was happy.

862…

862. It’s 862 miles from our house to Montana State University in Bozeman. Our oldest son got accepted to MSU for this coming fall. He will graduate high school in June and have his welding certificate this summer from the Tech school. This fall, he will move 862 miles away to pursue an Ag education degree to become an Ag teacher and hopefully an FFA advisor.

This is not a piece of cake. He isn’t a 4.0 kid. He will have to work hard, ask for help and really get to know the tutoring department… but I know he can do it. We haven’t been saving for this since he was a baby, like is often suggested. The amount the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) suggested we should contribute is ridiculous. Why am I not stressed about this? It will work out. He will apply for scholarships, take out loans and get a side job welding or at a sporting goods store. It’s where is heart wants to go, and to have him settle for less because it is more convenient, cheaper or closer to me wouldn’t be fair. His one year of school will cost what almost 4 years cost when I went. The thought of moving to Norway did cross my mind. (Just joking – kind of).

He will be ok. He will have a high school diploma and a tech degree/certification and a 4 year degree. Since some of his tech classes will transfer, it should be less than 4 years. He has something that is difficult to teach…. communication skills. He isn’t afraid to talk to people. He is his father’s son. He’s getting better at asking for help and has seen the value in tutoring. He will be able to relate to the kids who have trouble focusing and who prefer hands-on learning. He can share his love of nature, outdoors, agriculture, welding and wildlife.

From Jaguar to Cardinal and now Bobcat, I’ll cheer him on wherever he goes. Part of my heart will move 862 miles away, but I’m so excited for his adventures. His journey is just beginning and there is so much more to his story. How does this relate to you? Don’t settle. Don’t sell yourself short. It’s not entitlement. It’s about knowing what you want and knowing what will bring you joy.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you find what brings you joy, even if it is 862 miles from home.

Adulting…

No, not adultery… adulting: “the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.” Our son just turned 18, so he is officially an adult. He could legally get a tattoo, vote and apply to be an auctioneer. I’m not sure he will be doing any of those things very soon. Instead, he’s fishing, welding and applying for scholarships.

18. I know… I’ve written about this more than I thought I would. You might be sick of hearing about my senior. When I look back at the pictures of my little boy, I can’t believe how fast it went. I will let him read this before I publish it, but here are my 18 things I want him to know.

  • 1. I will always love you. Not in a cliche way or something that moms “should” say… I really love you. If you have kids some day, you’ll understand.
  • 2. Always be humble and kind. Listen to the song if you need to, but this is important. Kindness will get you further in life than being a jerk or being “cool.”
  • 3. Have fun but be responsible. Your teen and college years should be fun. It’s one time in your life where people will assume you’ll have lots of fun, but please know your boundaries and respect the boundaries of others.
  • 4. You really do need to eat some fruits and vegetables. It won’t make you less popular. It’s good for your body. Unlimited ice cream is fun, but seriously, have a pear every now and then.
  • 5. Keep music in your life. Dance, tap your toes or sing along in your car. Music lifts your vibration and is good for your soul.
  • 6. Stay grounded. Connect with nature and don’t absorb any negative energy around you. Sit on the grass and watch the geese and ducks, stand in the water while you fish.
  • 7. Your college friends are more likely to be your life long friends. You get to choose who you hang out with even more after high school. Choose wisely.
  • 8. Don’t smoke. Don’t smoke anything, just don’t. Your grandpa had open heart surgery in his early 40’s because he smoked. It’s not worth it. It’s really not. Plus you’ll save money.
  • 9. You don’t need to spend everything in your pocket. I’ve failed at being a good example of money managing and letting you learn about it. It’s ok to save some. The fishing lures will still be there next time.
  • 10. You will always have a place here. I hope you always feel like being with us is like “home,” regardless of where we are. A year from now, I might be sitting in your room, wishing for a messy floor.
  • 11. I hope we taught you the value of hard work. It’s ok to go the extra mile. It’s ok to get up early or stay later. People will notice this, even when you think they aren’t paying attention… they are.
  • 12. Look someone in the eye and shake their hand (once COVID is over). I think you do this well. You had a good example by watching your dad. Don’t forget this.
  • 13. Brush. Your. Teeth. I’m not even joking. You have a beautiful smile. We spent a lot on orthodontics. Don’t mess it up.
  • 14. Look for a partner to share your time with. They are not “less than”… they aren’t your maid or cook. You will be a team. Make sure you give and receive respect.
  • 15. It’s ok to change your mind. You already have, but it won’t be the last time. It’s ok. You can do more than one thing with your life.
  • 16. Always do the extra credit. ALWAYS. Ask for help before you get stuck. It’s ok to fail, but you need certain grades for scholarships.
  • 17. Crappy jobs will add to your character. Have a job (at least once) where you have to serve someone so you know how difficult it is. Don’t look down on another profession.
  • 18. I’m so ridiculously thankful to be your mom. That won’t ever change. I can’t wait to see what the world has to offer you.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. 18 years have flown by, and I am looking forward to cheering you on for the rest of your journey. Oh, and to quote your dad, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Discouraging words?

“Home, home on the range
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day”

After a modified Christmas, we ventured towards Billings, MT. We planned a tour of the college over the break. We saw lots of deer and antelope playing on the way. There were a few discouraging words from the back seat (ha ha). A tour of the town and driving through campus in person is much different from what you can see on a web site. It’s difficult to get a true picture of size, cleanliness, safety and over all feel of the college (and town) from the pretty pictures on the web site.

As long as we are this far west, what else should we see? This sparked a conversation that led to a last minute trip 2 hours west to Bozeman and a campus tour. The town is beautiful, the campus was larger and he really seemed to like the area.

Do you remember deciding what you wanted to do after high school? I do. I changed my mind and my major several times. I changed colleges twice. I heard several discouraging words. My high school guidance counselor said I should not go to a technical school for radiology tech because my grades were too high. I was told I couldn’t be a physical therapist because I got a B my freshman year. I thought of becoming a counselor until I was a resident assistant in the dorms. I ended up with a Mass Communication degree but scheduling and planning manufacturing production lines.

It’s a balance between finding what you love to do and being open to other options. Allowing your kids to be able to spread their wings is one of the most wonderful and frightening moments all at the same time. As we toured the campus, they had a statue of a bobcat named “Spirit.” Surrounded by snow capped mountains, it seemed so peaceful. And, as “cheesy” as it sounds, I knew the spirit would always be with him. I hope he listens to the nudges from spirit as he navigates adulthood. I’ll try to limit my discouraging words.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you seldom have discouraging words as we head into 2021.

Letting go…

There is a saying, “Autumn leaves show us how beautiful it is to let things go.” This past weekend, we took a spontaneous trip to Itasca State Park. Last minute fishing trip for my husband and oldest son meant a chance for me and the youngest son to explore the state park. We’ve been there before, but usually in the summer. Fall in MN is just magical. The trees are brilliant yellows, oranges, reds and browns. We met up with some friends and hiked the trails through the woods where bikes aren’t allowed. It was a perfect, crisp fall day. The sun was shining, the leaves were beautiful and the fallen leaves were crunching beneath our feet. It smelled like fall. If fall has a smell, that was it – crisp air, fallen leaves, slight breeze.

The kids (my son and my friend’s two girls) complained a little about the length of the hike. Some photo stops, finding walking sticks and the many leaf colors distracted them a bit from the amount of miles we were walking. My friend and I just breathed in deeply… soaking it in. “They need this,” we both agreed. Spending hours online for school, they needed the connection with nature. We did too. To be grounded with the earth, breathing in fresh air, soaking up the silence…. all just good for our souls.

If there was a place that was fall year round, I’d move there. But it’s part of the cycle… letting go (fall), being still (winter), regrowth (spring) and abundance (summer). One of the benefits of living here is our distinct season changes. It’s one of the reasons I put up with winter.

What are you letting go of this fall? Fear? Anger? Frustration? Busyness? Self doubt? We get so wrapped up in being busy, we forget the value of being still and connecting with nature. I hope you are able to be outside, breathe fresh air and soak up some sunshine before our days turn colder and shorter. Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

Holy Rabies!

What?! The cat got rabies? Nope. There is a back story….

If you have kids or grandkids (or you just like animated movies), you know what movie this is from. In 2012, a movie called Hotel Transylvania came out. It looked like a cute movie – Dracula’s daughter turns 118, which is like turning 18 in real life, and she is wanting to explore the world. Her father doesn’t want her to go – he wants to keep her safe. He instills fear in her – that the humans are just out to hurt her, so she stays at Hotel Transylvania and doesn’t venture out.

As we were watching the movie, Dracula called his daughter by name – Mavis. “What did he say?” I have a unique name. It’s an older name, but still not that common. I don’t hear my name in a crowd. I don’t have to go by my full name because there is another “Mavis.” I rarely meet someone else named Mavis either. My dad often assumed I didn’t like my name, but it’s not true. I kind of like being unique. The only thing that bothered me growing up, was not being able to find cool trinkets with my name on them. I couldn’t just go to Claire’s in the mall and get a Mavis bracelet like some of my friends could. So, imagine my surprise when there was an actual character named Mavis. So strange!

I was shopping the clearance aisles at my local Target last week, when I spotted Mavis’ on clearance! “Holy Rabies!” (It’s the thing Mavis in the movie says instead of “holy cow” or “holy smokes.”)

3 different “Mavis'”?! Wow!! I still haven’t decided if I’ll open one and display it or what I’ll do. I think I will bring one to work and leave 2 in boxes. (For sure the one that has Mavis’ name on it should stay in the box.)

Sometimes I feel like Dracula – wanting to keep my kids safe… wanting to protect them. Sometimes I think back to when I was their age and how I felt like the Mavis in the movie – ready to explore! Our fears can be like Dracula too- trying to keep us small… telling us lies to try and keep us from experiencing new thing. Our heads, like I talked about last week, try to keep us safe. Our hearts are like Mavis – wanting to adventure to Hawaii. I’m not saying that being safe is a bad thing. When it comes at the cost of missing out on life though? Then I think it’s sad. Not many people, at the end of their life will say, “I’m so glad I didn’t try new things.” Since it’s still January, you can make a list of one new thing you want to try this year (something that will not cause harm to you or anyone else.)

I wish you peace on your journey of enough, but I also wish you adventures and experiences. I hope you have something so exciting, it makes you shout- “Holy Rabies!!”