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.

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! )

Ready. Not ready. Ready.

Normally, in MN, we start school after Labor Day. That is still true, but our oldest son started PSEO (Post Secondary Education Option) at the Technical College. He had orientation last week Monday. He is a senior in high school, but he will be 100% at the Technical College for welding.

He is ready. He is ready to be welding. He is ready to be a senior. He is ready to explore. He is ready to set his own schedule.

I’m not ready. I’m not ready for a different senior year. I’m not ready to take senior pictures. I’m not ready for planning a graduation party. I’m not ready to have him move out. I’m not ready to watch him drive away or bring him to college. I’m not ready for an empty room.

But it’s not the end. 18 years is just 1/5th of your lifetime if you live to be 90. What will be other 4/5th of his life bring? Will he remember what he learned at home? Will he have good manners, clean up after himself and be able to cook? What will he miss or fondly remember about his childhood? How often will he return? Will he find someone to share his time? Where will his life path take him?

I’m ready. I’m ready for him to walk across the stage at graduation. I’m ready to hear about his adventures. I’m ready to listen to more hunting and fishing stories. I’m ready for the excitement in his voice when he finds the perfect fishing spot. I’m ready to bake his favorite brownies when he comes home on the weekend.

I could worry about it or I could embrace it. I had to make my own mistakes. I had to fall and pick myself up. He will have to do the same. I have to release control. I have to trust. I will continue to cover him in prayer. I will float between “ready” and “not ready” for the rest of this year… maybe longer. There is a lot I wasn’t prepared for in motherhood. Letting go is one of them.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. To all you moms of seniors, cheers to a great senior year. To any seniors reading, give your mommas some grace and patience. We want the best for you, but we still see that cute little kindergartener when we look in your eyes. And we love you more than you will ever know. (Unless you have kids of your own… and then you will realize the depths of our love for you.) And some day, you too may be ready, not ready, ready.

Yabut …

My high school art teacher recently passed away. She was a cool lady. She told it like it is … no sugar coat at all. She didn’t like it when someone said, “Yeah, but….” She would stop you. “There is no yabut,” she would say. Either you agree or you don’t. I think that was her point.

There are lots of debates being waged on social media. Lots of yabuts. Lots of keyboard warriors on a crusade. I’m guessing the posts have changed very few minds. If I strongly believe something, some stranger yelling at me isn’t likely to make me suddenly switch. Instead of yabuts, what about “yes, and?”

  • Yes, I believe in God, AND I think others can believe whatever they like.
  • Yes, I want to get back to normal, AND I worry about my high risk family members.
  • Yes, I support friends who are cops AND there are some changes that need to be made.
  • Yes, kids are missing school AND I have family who would be impacted because they are school staff.
  • Yes, I understand the desire to go back to work, AND I’m a wreck with anxiety.
  • Yes, I want to travel and explore AND I want to stay in my house.

It’s draining. The energy around people is almost visible right now. Tension, anger, frustration… if I could float down the river each night, I would. Tonight, I’m pressing pause. I’m sitting in a lawn chair on a gorgeous MN night… reading a book and writing to you. Asking you to pause. Put down the anger and frustration. Leave the “yabuts” for a while. Look for some miracles or inspiration or something positive. I almost didn’t write today because I was too overwhelmed… then I figured just maybe someone else needed to pause too.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you have more “yes and’s” and fewer “yabuts,” and take some time for o pause. People will still be angry online tomorrow.

Like sands through the hourglass…

How many of you said, “So are the Days of our Lives?” Ha ha. Yeah, I used to watch that soap opera. I think if I tuned in now, they would still have the same story line.

Tuesday marks the start of school in most MN towns. Usually the Tuesday after Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. This year we will have a 7th grader and a junior. As we were making a quick trip back to Rollag, to the Western MN Steam Threshers Reunion, my husband said, “This will be less and less, you know.” (I pretended I didn’t know what he was talking about.) “This, the making memories stuff.” Yeah, I know. Like sands through the hourglass, it just goes faster and faster. Our job isn’t to keep them at home forever though. Our job is to prepare them to be on their own. They might not remember every camping trip or adventure we went on, but hopefully they will have a general sense of having a good childhood. And hopefully, they will be prepared to be independent adults.

We’ve been blessed with good kids. Not perfect kids, but good kids. They’ve made our job a little easier. We’ve still had plenty of roller coaster moments. Highs and lows that I’m not fully prepared to share (mainly because of the impact it may have on the boys.) Hopefully we’ve given them a foundation of faith and family. Hopefully they know that we will love them through it, whatever that may be. I’ll be their biggest cheerleader but will also give them “the mom look” if they’re being inappropriate. We just hope we’re not messing them up. Do all parents wonder this? Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s a common thing or if it’s just my over-active imagination. My boys probably don’t cook as much as they should or independently start laundry. They do fold clothes and mow and can build a campfire with some birch bark and a match.

If you have kids or grandkids heading back to school, say a prayer with me. “Dear Lord, please watch over our kids. Help them to be kind and patient. Help them to look out for others. Help them to listen and learn. Please be with the teachers and support staff as they try to guide and teach them. Keep them safe. Amen.”

Here we go, only one more “first day of school” picture with all three of these guys. Love you!

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Instead of wishing the time would slow down, let’s be thankful it’s still moving forward. We can do this!

Even hummingbirds need to rest…

This window hummingbird feeder has been the source of much entertainment over the course of this summer. We knew these would work, because we had seen them at Itasca State Park. They have a restaurant in the park (because it’s so huge), and they have hummingbird feeders on the windows. They don’t need red nectar… they don’t even need a red feeder. We have a purple one in our back yard & it also attracts the tiny birds.

I used to assume hummingbirds didn’t sit still. I had heard that their wings are always moving. Not true. The one above was just sitting. We’ve seen it with others also. There are 4-5 that frequent our yard now. We have the window feeder in the front and two hanging feeders in the back.

This one was hovering above my rug, in the rain. (I also thought they didn’t fly in the rain… again, wrong)

This past weekend was full. I worked, drove to Minneapolis, met up with friends, went mini golfing at the Mall of America, went to Vikings game, went to MN state fair to see our son at the FFA Miracle of Birth building, half of us drove back home, half stayed for 4-H judging day. We didn’t do the farmers market since we already had planned to be out of town (and our beans are producing less). Some days I feel like the first hummingbird, barely sitting still for a moment… wondering if someone else is going to swoop in… Buzzing from fake flower to fake flower to real flower and back again. Even hummingbirds rest. I should observe nature a little more, maybe I’d learn something. It’s ok to rest.

I’m gonna type that part again, in case you weren’t paying attention… It’s OK to REST. Even God rested. Why do we think we have to buzz around all the time? “There is so much to do.” Yeah, I get it. I have a husband, two kids, 10 chickens, a cat, a full time job, a very busy “side” job of farmers market and a couple of direct sales things. I know busy. I value the buzzing and I feel super guilty if I rest. That doesn’t make me better than someone who rests. It doesn’t make me better than someone who knows when to stop. I did sit down tonight, but that didn’t stop my mind from racing…

We’re not doing the market Tuesday, so I don’t have to make the pies until Wednesday, after back to school night at two different schools. But we should pick beans for the lady who wanted 5 bags, even though it rained. Maybe tomorrow. Finish getting school supplies since that starts next week. Clean the house before baking and clean again before company comes. Get all of the laundry off the spare bed. Did I wash those sheets? I can’t remember. Find someone to take some roosters so I can keep the hens long enough to actually get eggs. When should we move the coop? Why do they always pick on Noodle (the smallest chicken). Water the new strawberries. Figure out how to maximize our growing area for next year. Did I send the email I was supposed to for work? What about the writing seminar next May. Yeah, I should do that. Dallas starts at the tech school. He’s a junior? When did that happen? When should we go out for anniversary supper? Maybe next week? Did I order dish soap? Finish making the beds – I need to do that. I really need to lose weight – again. Oh yeah, and it’s Monday night so I have to finish my blog post.

I realize it’s a long paragraph, but that’s just some of what was going through my head while I was “relaxing” for a few minutes. I’m guessing many of you do the same thing. Why do we feel guilty when we rest? Why do we skip our 15 minute breaks at work or work through lunch because we’re so busy? Why do we think we need to multi task, when all it does is give half of our attention to something that deserves all of it? I’d like to say I will try to do better this week, but you read all the stuff that’s going on, when am I going to do that? I need to delegate. I need to ask for help. I need to sit and have coffee and relax. Even the hummingbird relaxes after a jolt of sugar water. I should be able to relax after a cup of caffeine. Juggling it all can get exhausting. I hear ya. Keeping mental track of where every item is in your house, just in case someone needs it can be a mental drain. Add on the multiple “to do” lists and schedules and variables. Ugh. I wish I had some solid advice to insert here. LOL. I don’t. Just know there is at least one momma swimming up stream with you. If you are resting while you read this, you’re a step ahead. Hopefully you weren’t thinking of your grocery list in the middle.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you find some rest this week. Even for a moment. Close your eyes and breathe deep. Really deep. And if you need me, I’ll be covered in flour Wednesday night, but I’m sure I’ll be up late. I’ll say a prayer for you too. We’re in this together.