Out of the spotlight…

My mom recently turned 80. She has never liked the spotlight. She probably won’t like the attention, but she deserves to be celebrated. We couldn’t go see her on her birthday because our son was exposed to Covid and had to quarantine. It broke his heart and mine too. We want her to know how special she is and how much we love her.

Where to start? My mom is the oldest of 10 kids. I remember stories about the one room schoolhouse and the farm they grew up on. I remember big Christmas get togethers and family reunions filled with laughter and food. But it’s the small things too that make her special. My oldest son says she makes the best toast. My youngest son says she makes the best mac and cheese. Everyone is convinced her scalloped potatoes and ham have some secret ingredient because we can’t quite replicate it. Not only the food she makes, but her smile, her warm laugh, her hugs and the way she loves her family makes her one of a kind.

She has always been an example of giving. As a church secretary for many years, she was often a listening ear to whoever was waiting for the pastor or happened to stop by. She would write notes to people in need of a smile. She listened to many hours worth of teen heartbreak and drama (and I understand now how difficult that must have been.) She went to my band/choir concerts, 4-h events, track meets, plays, basketball and wrestling to watch me cheer. She’d make pizzas and malts for me and my friends before a game. Many slumber parties and sleep overs were held on that orange shag carpet and my friends always knew there would be treats.

She taught me to sew, how to bake, how to do laundry and how to write thank you notes. She showed me the importance of faith and giving. She used to have “Hobby Club” and “Homemakers” and Bible study meetings. Aside from her weekly hair appointment, those were the few “self care” things she did. She is an example of how to show up for those you love. It’s one of the reasons I was sad that I couldn’t show up for her. It was beyond my control, but sometimes lack of control is hard to accept.

80 years is a big deal. I’m sad to have missed most of the last year with mom, but know it was important to keep them safe & healthy. Too often we wait to tell those we love what an impact they have on our lives. So, to anyone reading, I hope you tell someone today what they mean to you. None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. If your loved one has passed, sit quietly and talk to them as if they are still here. Their spirit is with you.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Mom, you’ve always been more than enough and I’m forever grateful God chose you to be my mom. It was worth the wait!

Fifty five cents…

Last week, my dad turned 80. Since he will be starting radiation soon, and he was already high risk, a party was not an option. So, I checked Pinterest for birthday ideas. I think that’s where I found the idea of sending out 80 letters, in hopes of getting 80 birthday greetings back. My sisters were on board with the idea. I sent the letters to friends and family and friends of family. While my son was bowling, I wrote out envelopes so people could mail the greeting to my dad. I posted a request to a few more friends who sent cards.

Envelopes started coming… some from people he didn’t know. I made this wall hanging (with the help of my hubby), so they could hang the greetings on the wall. When I was going through cancer, I kept all of the notes people sent me. It was a visual reminder of love and support. It kept me going some days. I wanted him to see that support too.

Something happened that I didn’t plan on. People did more than just sign their names. They wrote messages to him. What a blessing! Too often we wait to say things to people we care about. I’d rather have people tell me what I mean to them while I’m alive instead of waiting until I’m gone.

80 years isn’t a given. It’s not something everyone gets to celebrate. My dad has had 2 open heart surgeries, a stent in his artery, diabetes and now prostate cancer. 80 years was certainly not a guarantee. I’m so glad people took part in our little project and put smiles on the faces of both my parents.

None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. We know we won’t live forever, but we don’t know when our time is up. Don’t wait to tell people you love them. This week, I’ll be writing a letter to a friend with terminal cancer. Today, I mailed a card to my friend’s grandma for her 95th birthday, and a 50th anniversary card to another friend’s parents. A stamp is $0.55. You can get cards at a DollarTree store or just write on a piece of paper. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to make someone smile. I think we all like to feel loved and remembered.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough (& 55 cents for the stamp.)

Math, birthdays & kindness…

I’m not sure what age it happened, but somewhere along the way, my age became irrelevant. Of course it was exciting to become a teenager, then sweet 16, then 18 & then 21. Turning 30 was a big deal but I thought I would have been done having kids instead of just starting. 40 seemed like a big deal but I wasn’t sure why. Should I be having a mid-life crisis? Am I only living to be 80? Why don’t I feel like a grown up at 40? This week I turn 46. It’s an odd year that requires me to do math when I think about how old I am. I can guarantee each age has been nothing like I imagined it would be.

I didn’t think I’d be married at 21. I didn’t think I’d change jobs after 40, have cancer at 41 or move at 43. I didn’t think I’d have a hobby farm and 7 chickens at 46. The saying, “you’re only as old as you feel?”… some days I feel 16, and some days I feel 60. Some days it feels like life is zooming by me and I’m missing it. Other days, it seems like Groundhog Day. As I was trying to think about ways to celebrate my birthday, a few ideas crossed my mind. 1) 46 acts of kindness 2) 46 things I’m thankful for 3) 46 things I want to do in the next year. It is Thanksgiving week, but I think I’ll pick kindness. I’m not sure if I will get that many done before my birthday, but I can for sure complete them before Christmas.

46 (not so random) acts of kindness. I like it. Maybe I will count #1 as going back home to get my husbands sinus medicine. We can do acts of kindness to our loved ones as well as friends and strangers. I’ll make a list and report back in December. I encourage you to do some random (or planned) acts of kindness this holiday season also. You don’t have to do 46… just do one or 100 – whatever feels right for you. I know we can for sure use some more kindness in the world, so any amount (above 0) is good.

Wishing you peace on your journey of enough. Regardless of your age, may you take the time to share some kindness. It could make someone’s day and it will likely come back to you in an unexpected way.