Everybody sleeps…

My cat was happy to be a “sleep model.” It’s something he excels at. Growing up in the 70’s/80’s, Sesame Street was frequently on after school. I can still remember the song, “Everybody Sleeps.” I feel like it was supposed to encourage kids by letting them know that sleep was good and normal and everyone had to sleep, even animals.

About a week ago, I started feeling crummy (fever, sore throat & cough.) I could hardly get out of bed. I slept all of the next day, was weak and had no appetite. Assuming it was influenza, but wanting to be sure, my husband took me to the clinic. A lovely nose swab later, I learned I had Covid. This is the first time I’ve had it throughout the pandemic (that I’m aware of.) I was pretty miserable for a few days, then mainly tired with lingering cough. For some reason, the “Everybody Sleeps” song went through my head a lot. Maybe it was a way of telling myself it was OK to rest. I kind of felt like a caterpillar in a messy cocoon. The days blurred together amidst dreams and thoughts. Most of this week I’ve been moving in slow motion. I’m feeling much better now and I’m glad to have more energy.

The illness forced me to ask for help, to say no to things I wanted to do, and to just rest. Everybody sleeps, but everybody gets sick or has struggles too. Sometimes we forget there are more things that we have in common than things that divide us. If you’re going through a caterpillar time, allow yourself some rest. It’s ok to pause. I only wish I slept as soundly as my cat.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

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!

Journey through time…

Time is a funny thing. Some days it seems to creep along, and other times you wake up and realized years have passed by. That’s where I’m at this week. Eleven years ago, I ran my first half marathon in Las Vegas. After watching Cameron run a bunch of full marathons (26.2 miles), I thought I’d try the half marathon (13.1 miles). It was a “Rock & Roll” marathon at night on the Vegas strip. It was around the same time as the National Finals Rodeo, so we did a multipurpose trip. It was a memorable experience for sure. I finished the race, with Cameron pacing me and keeping my spirits up. Navigating the stairs of the rodeo arena the next day was a bit of a challenge. We had a fun time.

8 years ago this week, I heard the diagnosis of breast cancer. I’m sure there are some people that get annoyed when I bring it up. But, I was 41 and I want people to be aware that it can happen at younger ages, and to be advocates for their own health. 8 years ago I didn’t know where I would be. I hoped I’d be cured and healthy. I didn’t think I’d be in Minnesota. I am healthy and doing well. The diabetes diagnosis isn’t related to cancer (more related to gestational diabetes & genetics).

7 years ago, we went back to Vegas and we were able to go to the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night at the rodeo. It was an emotional experience to be there as a survivor. I felt guilt for taking a trip, but I was an important part of the healing journey. The guilt is something I’ve wrestled with for 7 years. It’s time to let that go. Because my cancer came in December, and I was healthy before that, we had to pay out of pocket for November & December appointments/procedures to meet our deductible, and then start all over again in January. It was more than we could handle financially, and we needed some help. The school put on a fundraiser for us to help with medical bills. I knew there would be people who judged us for taking a trip the same year we needed financial help. I need to let go of that guilt. They don’t know the full story. Have you heard the saying, “what people think of you is not your concern?” This applies here.

So, this week especially, I’m setting down that guilt. I’m blessing and releasing the fear, shame and anxiety that filled me up for so long. I am putting it down and walking the other way. I’m moving forward in good health and in joy, knowing I am enough. You are too. You don’t need to explain your life or your choices. You need to be happy. I honestly hope you are.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. This time of year we see many signs about peace. I hope you find it. Don’t let the outside expectations steal your joy. You deserve joy, not because of what you do, but because you are here to experience love.

You don’t know what you’ve got…

I took a week off. Last Wednesday, my throat started to hurt. By Thursday morning, I was miserable and starting to lose my voice. I had to take the day off work. Friday, I sounded like a deep baritone, and the weekend left me without much of a voice at all. Amazing how we don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone, right? I’m rarely thankful for my physical voice. I take it for granted. I sometimes raise it too much or use it in ways I shouldn’t. I joke that my family is probably thankful for my lack of a voice this last week, but it sure has been a challenge.

I’m a bit of a slow learner. In my (almost) 49 years around the sun, I’ve learned that if I don’t actually express myself, my body will yell at me… forcing me to pause or rest. My mentor warned me about this in September- that if I didn’t deal with the emotions, my body would surely let me know. This week, it has forced me to be quiet, to rest, to reflect. It has shown me how important it is to be able to communicate. How much it means to me to be heard, and how to find other ways to be able to interact with others. it has also forced me to ask for help, since I wasn’t able to lead meetings due to lack of a voice.

November is typically the month where we are reminded to be thankful. Even though we just put away the Halloween decorations, and some people have their Christmas trees up already, it’s still a good time to remember what we have. I’ve done a gratitude journal before and really enjoyed the positivity. It’s a thing that’s easy to forget about outside of November, but it makes us focus on the good. The more we remind ourselves of the good, the more good we see and attract. I can be annoyed with my lack of voice but thankful for helpful co-workers, understanding family and the ability to text instead of speak. I can be thankful for the time to rest and rejuvenate.

Are you looking for happiness while forgetting you have things to be happy for? We all do. I challenge us to have a mindful November… to use our voices to be helpful and supportive. Be kind. To others, but to yourself also. You’re worth it.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

H.O.P.E. ; Pause, but let your story continue

H.O.P.E. = Hold On Pain Ends. Mental health awareness is something that needs to get more attention. We have talked more about mental health than we did in the past, but there is room for more awareness & acceptance. We now have a “World Mental Health Day,” which is a great step forward. Four years ago, a friend of ours lost a son to suicide. He was the same age as our oldest son. They started an organization called Robbie’s Hope to help stop the epidemic of suicide by reaching teens and their families. They have teen ambassadors who help raise awareness in their communities and wrote a handbook for parents. Visit http://www.robbies-hope.com to learn more about their mission.

A long time family friend shared this story with me. It’s written by a pastor from Trinity Evangelical Lutheran church in Watertown, MN: Mark Twain said, “There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibly. Inside of the dullest exterior, there is a drama, a comedy and tragedy.” At out annual outdoor service during “rails to trails” weekend in July 2018, I shared the above quote by Mark Twain that spoke to the fact that everybody has a story. It might seem obvious, and yet we so often forget this simple fact when we see people on the street, at work, at the store, or even at church. We forget that they might have just had a birth in their family, and so they’re celebrating. We forget that they might have just had a death in their family, and so they’re grieving. We forget that they might have just lost a job, or found a job, or moved to a new house, or received important news in an email, a text, or a letter. It might not seem like a big deal, but when we forget that everybody has a story, we begin to see them simply as “objects” that are inanimate rather than “subjects” that are full of life. You know, people. With feelings. And goals. And hopes. And dreams. And they are worthy of our attention, and our support and our prayers. And this means you, too. Maybe you feel like you, yourself, don’t have much of a story, or have much to say, or have much to offer. But it’s not true. You do have a story. You do have something to say. You do have a lot to offer. Someone once said, “To the world, you might be just one person. But to one person, you just might be the world.” Yes, that means you. Whether you realize it or not, you have so much to offer… so let your light shine! Pastor Engholm

I’ve written about this before but we all need a good reminder. It’s OK to not be OK. It’s ok to have a bad day, a sad or stressful time or to need a pause. We need to put aside the “just toughen up” mentality and acknowledge the real feelings… validate the stories…. let someone feel seen and heard. Take a pause, but please let your story continue. You never know the impact you have on other people. Don’t assume people are ok either. Robbie was a smiling kid with loving parents. He helped other kids through struggles but didn’t reach out about his own. If you are struggling, please dial 988, or 911 if you are in a crisis.

I’m forever thankful that my son had a pause, but his story continues. Please hold on. Reach out. You are loved. Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

Breaking isn’t bad …

How often do you tell the same story? Either out loud or in your head… “I’m so____.” We repeat our woes or claim to be unable to break the cycle. But we can break the cycle. We can end the story and start a new one. We can be better than what broke us. We can choose compassion, acceptance & understanding.

I recently shared a story about how we apologize for our messy houses. The author encouraged us to break the cycle- to be the generation that doesn’t apologize for being normal. It’s not that we don’t try, but things are hectic… we may have little kids or teens running to different events & meetings or doing homework. Sometimes anxiety or depression keeps us from doing household chores. Apparently, it’s also related to ADHD to be bothered by clutter but not able to take action to clean it up.

If you’re struggling with your kitchen table being full of papers, mail, random water bottles or sunglasses, I see you… I am you. The kitchen table mess didn’t break me, but it sure has made me apologize a time or two. “Heal instead of becoming bitter.”

“Be the person you needed when you were hurting.” I think that’s where a lot of my advice from my cancer recovery comes from. I wish I would have had someone to ____. Instead of dwelling on the hurt, break the cycle. I choose acceptance. I choose inclusion. I choose grace. I choose understanding.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you find joy in creating your new chapter.

Hanging in there…

This little green tree frog was chilling on the chokecherry bushes the other day. Cameron found him and he hopped onto my hand. I put him back in the bushes and I thought it was cute how his sticky hand was hanging onto the leaf. Ever feel like him? Just hanging on and trying to get by? Trying to blend in and keep cool? Yeah, me too.

The last several weeks have been a whirlwind at work. I feel like this little guy, just hanging on. Our garden is in full swing and the chokecherries just turned ripe. This week marks the start of the fall school season- athletic meetings, cross country practice, sales on school supplies and one last camp. Next week will be musical practice also. We don’t start school until after Labor Day but will have a cross country meet before then. A few last Farmers markets and we will be picking pumpkins before we know it.

If you’re just hanging on, good job – keep it up. It’s ok to rest in the shade if the leaves. Blending in can be a form of rest also. It allows you to just “be”… without as much effort or explaining. That’s totally fine. Look how happy this little frog is, blending in with the leaves. He’s less attractive to predators and he will probably find a snack or two.

We put so much value on being busy. I wish that wasn’t the case. As we start another school year, I’m reminded of how few there are left. Our youngest is in 10th grade already. I hope we can enjoy all the activities amidst the busy schedules. I’d better start getting ready for cross country spectating and become familiar with the “Chicago” musical songs.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Life is short- try the chokecherry jam!

Hidden victories…

First of all, it’s a temporary tattoo. I’m too scared of the pain to get a real one. Maybe someday. I do like the image though. It reminds me of making a wish. Making a wish on a dead weed doesn’t sound as appealing. It’s all about perspective.

Secondly, I’m celebrating a “non scale victory” by wearing my wedding ring again. I haven’t been able to wear it for a while due to weight gain/inflammation. Since being diagnosed diabetic in April, I’ve worked hard to watch what I eat, be more active and add some supplements to help me shed 25 pounds. I have 25 more to go, but I will get there.

It’s a hidden victory… one that I might not normally celebrate, but today I am. We all have our hidden victories that we are too afraid to share. We may think it’s not a big deal or nobody will care, but we should acknowledge and celebrate these wins. I’m quick to dismiss my wins. And I realize that negative self talk just keeps the negativity swirling. Not that I need to be “Mary Sunshine” but a negative narrative attracts more negativity. Pretty soon you forget to see the good. You’re only focused on the 25 more pounds to go, not the 25 already shed.

Instead of thinking about how much I want to overindulge in sweets, I can think about all of the fresh veggies we are growing. I can focus on a smaller portion of my favorite snack or pairing it with protein, water and a walk. I can be thankful for the time in nature instead of focusing on the deer fly buzzing around my head (trust me, that was not easy).

I’m a work in progress, friends. We all are, regardless if we admit it or not. I’m here to support you, cheer you on and not judge. Take a few minutes to celebrate a win, small or large, one that impacts you or a bunch of people.

Our walk last night led us to a secluded pond where some ducks were enjoying the evening. Another small victory – hiking without vertigo.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Peace is something I’ve been seeking a lot lately. Perhaps I need to pause more, make a wish on a weed and recognize the small victories. You are enough. Just as you are.

How “prickly” are you?

If you know me personally or have read my blog before, you probably know (or have learned) of my personality. I’m an introvert, sometimes speak my mind too much and I’m not a big hugger. Some might call me aloof, or even prickly.

As I took a mental health break to pick some berries today, I started thinking about how similar I am to black raspberries. These delicious gems are sweet and firm (ok maybe they aren’t completely like me!) The thorns on the plants are NO JOKE! Not only do they have rose bush size thorns, they seem to want to stick to your clothes. What a defense mechanism! Protect the fruit and don’t let anyone or anything get too close. Sound familiar?

It’s easier to put up defenses than risk getting hurt. But, in doing so, we may hurt the people close to us. The people who just want to love us. The people who know me well don’t often think I’m an introvert because I will talk freely around them. (Sometimes WAY too much with hand gestures and facial expressions etc!) But many people don’t get to know that side of me. They just see the thorns and back away. Sometimes when I try to open up, I go too far and don’t stop talking. As I see their face indicating they’d rather be somewhere else, I regret the decision to let my guard down.

The thing about black raspberries that’s different from our other raspberries (aside from the thorns), is the way they reach out. These thorny plants will grow long canes that reach to the ground and root. The other raspberries spread new plants from roots beneath the ground. The black raspberries spread out above ground. They also quickly overtake an area. I feel like writing is my way to reach out “above ground” where anyone can see it. Even though I don’t have thousands of followers, that’s ok with me. It keeps me a little safer and less exposed to other people’s thorns. I’m sure you’ve noticed that people on the internet can be pretty cruel sometimes. I don’t recover well from those things. I’m learning about some ADHD traits and “rejection sensitivity” really struck a chord with me. That’s a post for another time but if basically means I have a hard time getting over rejection.

These long canes/branches will root into the ground to create new plants

So, if you have a prickly friend, be patient with them. The fruit of their friendship might be worth it! We can complain that the raspberries have thorns or be happy that the thorns have berries! I wish you peace on your journey of enough.

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!