Steps to success…

I’ve been making an effort to move more on a daily basis. Tuesday, after several hours (6) of meetings, I took a lunch break walk down to the river. I love listening to the water bubble and churn over the rocks. This time I walked across the street to the spot we used to put our tubes into the river. It was a slippery slope before and that’s not a metaphor- it was an actual slippery slope. Sometimes you’d fall into the water before you got your tube ready. I was pleasantly surprised to see stairs where the slope used to be. Stairs. How wonderful! It will make the access to the water so much nicer. It will be safer for people trying to get in, just a few short weeks from now. The water is clear and cool right now. It’s flowing quickly with the extra moisture from snow and rain & the melting lake.

I missed posting Tuesday because of work and other activities. Plus, I had a dietitian meeting on Wednesday and something told me that it would tie into my post. We met for an hour. We talked about my diet and weight loss, what my goals were and what questions I had. I told her I have tracked food before but I dislike it because I become obsessed with it. So as she looked through my color coded spreadsheet, we talked about control and maybe letting go of the need to be perfect. I freaked out because my blood sugar (once) got over 190. 180 is my goal for a max level, but one time at 190 isn’t going to do serious damage. I’ve been almost completely avoiding bread/grains/carbs but just because I check my blood sugar, that doesn’t mean I know what else is going on inside. Not having a balanced diet may mean that I’m lower in other nutrients than I should be. I also need to be able to do something sustainable. I’m “only” 48. In theory, I have a lot of years ahead of me.

The more she talked, the more I realized that I probably do overdo the tracking and monitoring. For me, it was my way to deal with the changes, cope with adjustment and yes, control my numbers. You see, I’d prefer the steps to the water instead of the slope. I like the path to be clear of debris and reduce the risk of falling. Having stairs increases the chances of a successful launch. Control… perfection…success. Sometimes they feel as heavy as those rocks along the side of the river. Time to take some pressure off and find a happy medium. My pendulum tends to swing to the extreme sometimes. I tend to be a people pleaser, but I forget about one person… me.

I’m learning what I can tolerate. I’m learning what works best for me, because everyone is different. I’m learning to have grace, experiment and try some new things. My journey is not what I had expected. It’s not what I had planned. I’m a planner by nature and as a profession. Having things not go according to plan is frustrating to me. I’ll get there. My path to success may have changed from a slope to a set of stairs… I just need to set down the rocks so I don’t trip down the stairs.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Thanks for joining me in my journey. Even though it’s taking a different path, I’m determined to make it a good one!

Judging a book…

“Don’t judge a book by the cover.” You’ve likely heard the saying before. Usually it applies to people – don’t judge the outside of the person when you don’t know what they’re really like. If I’m honest, sometimes I find myself judging anyway, even though I try not to. One example is marathons or running events. I would find myself making an assumption about someone based on what gear they were wearing, who they were with and where they were in the pack. I was almost always wrong. Expensive gear doesn’t make you faster. Age doesn’t make a difference in many cases. Maybe I was being more curious than judgmental. Curious about their training, their story, what brought them to this place, what their drive and determination… yes, that sounds more like curiosity instead of judgement. (If you haven’t seen Ted Lasso, it’s worth watching)

Actually judging a book by the cover is a different thing. What draws you to pick up a book? Is it the cover? The title? The pictures? The author? Was it a movie or show you saw? Is it the subject matter? So many possibilities. I was honored to be part of a compilation book last year. When the cover came out, I was a little taken aback. Judgement. What would people think? Would they be drawn to the deer lady? Would they buy the book as a favor to me? Would my friends and family read more than just my chapter? My own judgement became my self sabotage. I was reluctant to promote the book. Reluctant to get it into local bookstores. The cover doesn’t match the insides. The inside is filled with wonderful stories from beautiful women. It just didn’t match up for me.

This is our book cover.
This is the title of my chapter and the feeling I had while writing.

Maybe it’s because I often feel so different than what my outward appearance shows. Maybe it’s the words that trip me up. Rituals don’t have to be evil or bad. “Actions performed according to a prescribed order.” Many people have a morning or evening ritual – a way of doing things that either helps them get their day started or help them wind down.

I helped out at a Spirit expo last weekend. Over 600 people came to the event. Many walked past our booth. Few picked up my book. Zero book sales. Sure, I was disappointed, but I had a great experience on a rainy day. I will continue my journey and try to keep adding more joy. Joy in ways I hadn’t thought of or haven’t practiced frequently enough.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. And if you’d like a book, I still have a few (wink wink). I’ll ship it to you and even include a recipe.

Hair cuts and finger sticks…

I’m not a good one for regular hair cuts – I’m more of a ‘one or two times per year’ kind of gal. I don’t have a hairdresser that I see on a regular basis. My method is usually, “I’m tired of this,” and I get it chopped short. Last week Monday was that day.

Recently, I had a doctor appointment with my primary care doctor. As I stepped on the scale, a new number came up on the screen. I weighed more than when I was pregnant. I’ve kind of avoided the scale at home. I’ve been less active due to vertigo and, let’s face it, it’s been a long cold winter. Stress and adjustments over the last 2 years have added up. Dr. ordered blood work before a CT scan. I hadn’t been fasting and had honestly had Oreos and milk before going there. So my blood sugar was high, but it was higher than it should have been, even though I wasn’t fasting. She ordered a follow up A1C, which gives a better view of longer term blood sugar levels. Mine was 6.9 and it should be below 5.7.

CT scan was fine. Set up a physical therapy appointment to help with vertigo (which it did). Diabetes nurse educator meeting was held and I got the blood sugar testing kit & a log for tracking food for the next two weeks. I had gestational diabetes with our second child, 16 years ago. The odds of me becoming Type 2 were higher because of that history, but being overweight and less active were bigger factors.

So, I chopped off my hair. Not to lose weight but because this is the beginning of change for me. A baker who now needs to watch sugar. Hmmm. That should be interesting. My drive to improve my health is strong, and hopefully that will get me on the right track. I’ve done food logs before and they make me kind of obsessed with it… not in a good way. I end up with very little grace for errors when it comes to the plan. I’m hard on myself and get bummed out at the idea of “lack/can’t/no.” It can be a bit of a roller coaster. It’s something you always need to be aware of – not really a day off or vacation from a lifestyle change.

So what have I changed in the last week? (aside from my hair being cut and no longer needing ponytail holders) I’ve been tracking my food & carbs. I’ve been intermittent fasting. I’ve been checking my blood sugar 2-3 times per day. I’ve been looking into lower sugar options. I’ve started to walk on the treadmill since my vertigo is getting better. I’ve gotten more veggies and fruits. I had 0 Peeps or Cadbury eggs this week!

What did I learn? Feeling out of control makes me crabby. I previously ate way more carbs than I knew. Sugar is hidden in lots of things. Sugar free options are very expensive. I can do intermittent fasting without impacting my blood sugar (everyone is different.) Plain black coffee tastes fine. Pre-measuring potions helps to avoid over-doing it. It takes your body a little while to adjust to changes. When I started checking my own fasting/morning blood sugar, I was at 200. The last 3 days, I’ve averaged 135. My target is 80-130. Not bad for a week.

Why am I sharing this? Accountability & awareness. Just another reminder that people deal with all kinds of things and we have no idea. I’ve found a Diabetes 101 Facebook group that’s been helpful with ideas and support. I will continue on this new journey and if I find some amazing low sugar baked treat that isn’t $20, I’ll let you know.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Make your day a sweet one, even without sugar.

April showers…

From “false spring” to “third winter” to “April showers,” the weather in MN lately has been nuts. It’s messing with my mental health. When the sun is shining, it’s so much easier to be in a good mood. I have a window in my office and it’s nice and bright. When the weather is gloomy, my mood tends to follow. Lately it has rained or snowed most days. We didn’t get the three feet of snow or the ice storms that North Dakota received recently, so I’m thankful for that. They did need the moisture, but it was quite a mess. The one day it was close to 70 here, it rained and was windy.

I tried to do some stretches while at my stand up desk today in an effort to sit less. My vertigo has improved from the physical therapy, so that’s wonderful. Since I’m working from home, I don’t get many steps in per day. It’s one of the things I’m working on. Recently diagnosed diabetic, I need to get some more activity in each day. It will probably help my mood also. It just gets difficult to get any to go outside to walk when it’s so chilly. I’m a “fair weather walker.” It’s supposed to rain again Friday and Saturday so I’m not sure if that means April is going out like a lion or like a lamb.

This Saturday, I’ll be helping out at an Expo in Fargo, ND. It’s the first time I’ve helped my friend and mentor with one of her shows. I’ll have my books there for sale also. (Ramada Inn -Fargo 10-5) It will be outside of my comfort zone but I’m very excited. I’m going up the night before and staying over. Some long overdue self care is in order! Although I’ll be missing the Sandy’s donuts as originally planned, but it will still be good. I’ve had a lot of changes in the last year, and I am looking forward to a brief pause. We often neglect ourselves or forget to take care of our wellbeing. Too busy looking out for others, our own needs take a back burner. We wait for someday or think of maybe later. It’s easy for time to slip by and nothing has changed.

The past three weeks have made me focus on myself. I’ve had to be more intentional about what I eat, when I eat and how much water I’m getting. I’m tracking food, blood sugar, weight and activity. I was in auto pilot for too long. This can be a good change.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. You’re worth it! I am too!

March coming in like a … squirrel?

I think the March “In like a lion out like a lamb,” or “In like a lamb, out like a lion” is a little more accurate than the Groundhog day predictions. In the upper Midwest, there is almost always 6 more weeks of winter from early February (so Phil doesn’t know what he’s talking about). March weather tends to be a wildcard around ND/MN. We can have blizzards, sleet, rain, sun, clouds… all of the weather options tend to show up in March. The first day of March in central MN was sunny and near 30. “Lamb” type weather.

I think the whole month of March is probably going to be more like this black squirrel in my back yard. Erratic. He zoomed across the snow bank and went part way up the tree. Either he saw me and the black cat watching him or he decided he was going to find a hidden stash somewhere else. Maybe he smelled the scent of the 12 deer who have been living in our yard… I’m not sure. He zoomed off and we didn’t see him the rest of the day. My cat made a huff noise (like he was upset that he wasn’t squirrel chasing today,) and went back to finish his nap.

We may joke about feeing like a dog wanting to chase a squirrel, but my brain really does feel like that most days. I probably need to be tested for ADHD, but I’m not sure what that would change for me. I’ve been trying to do a mediation right away before I get out of bed – to ground me. I’m not sure if it’s made a difference in the spinning but it at least gives me twelve minutes of calm before I start my day. The rest of my day, my mind zips between work & what activities our son has & what’s for supper & what I need to add to the grocery list & what bills are due & work & the fact that I haven’t worked out & I should drink more water & when did I clean the cat box last & did I talk to our other son yet today & what can I do to support him & is my gas tank full & I should write a card to this person & work & I should really put away the laundry & what day is it & how much longer do I have to get my tax info together & what will we plant this summer in the garden & when will I paint the office & what’s the best direction to have my desk & I haven’t gotten up from my chair in a while & why do I feel guilty moving around just because I work from home & should I get rid of most of my clothes because I only wear sweats & I should text this person or call that person. Squirrel. Squirrel. Squirrel.

I could go on but you get the idea. I hear there are people who aren’t like this. I assumed it was normal. Some days I’d like a pause button for my racing mind. Someone suggested treating the passing thoughts like something you should put on a bookshelf. I’d need a giant book shelf. See, I started off talking about the weather and now here we are talking about squirrels and zooming thoughts. I have no advice. I’m not a therapist or an expert. I’m just a lady telling you you’re not alone. I probably won’t fix myself anytime soon. I will probably stay on my hamster wheel for a bit longer. But one day… one day I will step off of it and just stop. I’ll stand in the stillness and take a big breath then a step forward. Until then, I’ll dream of my somedays and my what ifs. I’ll make plans for the summer and I won’t put away my snow shovel until the end of May.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May your March be more like a lamb and less like a lion or a squirrel!

Grace like snow…

In MN, it seems like winter has overstayed its welcome. Since it’s only mid-February, I know we are a few months from spring. Heck, we’ve had snow in May, so it’s possible. When I saw this picture comparing grace to a snowfall, I thought it was a good analogy. Grace covering everything like snow… powerful image, isn’t it? Just like the snow not being able to avoid certain houses, grace doesn’t pick and choose.

The God I believe in shows grace to everyone. The God I believe in loves all of us because he created us. The God I believe in wants us to show grace to each other and to ourselves. Somewhere along the line, “love one another” became less important than being right. I picture God waiting, shaking his head a little, hoping we will embrace kindness and grace. He’s waiting for us to see the snow all around us. The grace.

It’s not just grace for me and my house, it’s grace for all. Grace for the teachers struggling to teach our kids without the support they need. Grace for the servers in the restaurant trying to make ends meet. Grace for the healthcare workers trying to save our loved ones. So many examples of people struggling, yet so many people just wanting to be right. We need grace. We need kindness. We need to smile at each other. We need to pause and listen to the answer after we ask, “How are you doing?” And we need to be willing to give an honest answer.

Over the last two years, we’ve lost friends, relatives, jobs, routines, safety and a sense of normalcy. Instead of trying to come together, people are just wanting to win the argument. This has my conflict avoidance mode on high alert and I just want the snowy grace instead. If you’ve experienced a snowfall without wind, it’s a beautiful thing. The air is crisp and calm and quiet. It’s what I envisioned when I saw this picture.

I am a bit of an open book in some aspects, yet I don’t like to create waves. I’m afraid of people attacking me for what I believe. But I’m tired. I’m tired of the middle of the road. I’m tired of the anger and fear and finger pointing. But can one person make a difference? Yes. One person can make a difference even to just one more person. Grace and peace to just one more person. Then it can ripple like waves on the water.

“Put your own mask on before assisting others.” They say it every time you fly. Same goes for grace. You must show grace and love to yourself or you cannot give it to others. That grace you show them might be what helps them through their day, through their shift, through their grief, through their illness. Less judging and more grace.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Peace like a new fallen snow, and when you see that snowfall, think of God’s grace.

One act, many hours…

Years ago, I was in speech and drama in high school. It was a small ND town (500 people), and we didn’t have musicals. We had a speech team, a one act play team and a 3 act play. I was trying to recall the plays that I was in… I couldn’t remember all of them. I know we did “Cheaper by the Dozen,” and “Flowers for Algergon.” I remember finding out I was an aunt for the first time during one of my play practices. I was also on the speech team, yet I don’t remember the details. I remember the hours of practice and the thousands of words memorized. I remember my coach/director’s voice, her “wild hair” and her very dramatic nature.

Most of all, I remember the feeling of accomplishment and pride, the friendships made and the laughs we had. I remember driving our teal ‘65 Ford Falcon to practice. No power steering or air conditioning – it didn’t matter. I don’t remember if the radio worked, but we’d roll down the windows and drive to the nearby town because our high school didn’t have a stage. We did speech practice before or after school. I wasn’t in the one act plays because it conflicted with a sport.

Our youngest son, as a freshman, got a part in the one act play this year. Hours of practice for 34 minutes of performance. While the rules for one act are different because it’s a competition, seeing them perform brought back memories. They won their subsection and advanced to section finals. In one week, they listened to feedback, made tweaks and improvements and memorized changes. I watched the performance with pride, knowing how hard they worked. As I sat in the theater, waiting for the results, I watch the teams interact and I smiled. They are amazing kids. All different backgrounds and talents coming together to tell a story. It brought me back to the feeling of being part of a cast. I couldn’t help think of how he might look back on this experience, 30 years later, with the same fondness I did.

Hours of practice, memorizing, weekends, after school, set building, costumes, make up, more practice, more memorizing… 34 minutes of performing for a life time of memories. The one act play has just one act (no break). They have 10 minutes to set up their set. All of their stuff has to fit in a certain size before they set it up. Their performance can have up to 20 students (actors, lights, stage crew etc), and must be less than 35 minutes. They are judged on their performance and given notes from the judges. When the results came in at Sections, they announced the second place team, and it wasn’t them. I grinned because I knew. I knew their name would be called next and the big plaque would be theirs. They advance to the State Performance. I was so happy for them and their director, who wrote the script herself.

I know theater isn’t for everyone, just like football or swimming might not be for everyone either. I’m happy he was able to be a part of this cast, share this experience, learn about theater and gain confidence in himself. When your child does something they love, they shine, and this mom’s eyes get a little misty. I’m proud of you, buddy… but more importantly, you should be proud of yourself. You are more than enough.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. If you’re in the St.Paul, MN area Thursday/Friday this week, take in the State One Act – you’ll be glad you got to watch these kids shine!

Foundation of trust….

It’s something I wasn’t fully prepared for – my kids growing up and becoming adults. Sure, it took us a while to have kids, so you’d think I would have had plenty of time to learn these things. I’m not sure anything can fully prepare you… because the journey is not fully up to you.

Your role changes. From an exhausted mom of a newborn to the first day of kindergarten… from their firsts to their lasts. It all zooms by and suddenly you have a young adult. You reach this stage and you’re not their event planner, their driver to practice or their cheerleader at events. You may cheer them on from a distance but it’s certainly not the same. They may ask for advice, but the decisions are now up to them. Hopefully you’re still a safe place, a feeling of home, a reminder of how much they are loved. It’s a foundation of trust.

Our oldest son moved 900 miles away – from MN to MT. He got his welding degree when he was still in high school, but decided he wanted to go to college to be an Ag Ed teacher. So, we supported his decision and his move. He loves the outdoors and the adventure, but school was a struggle. He realized that getting a degree, to wind up in debt and make less than he would as a welder was not the path for him. So, after one semester, he withdrew to weld full time. There was a lot of logistics and navigating that had to happen in order for all of this to fall into place. While it was my strong desire to fix and manage things, I let him lead. I helped where I could, but he did a good job.

I feel like a weight is lifted off of his shoulders, but perhaps another one was added. Will he stay in the same job or the same place? Who knows. I’m proud of him and love him. I read a parenting article where the mom felt like a college transfer was a failure on her part, and I thought, “Wow, that’s a heavy burden.” I do NOT feel like my son dropping out was a failure at all. I do not feel like it was a failure on his part nor mine. I’m super proud of him for not getting into very large debt that would take years to try and recover from. I’m proud of him for doing what he loves, for finding a place to live, and for learning to budget. I know he will continue to have changes and struggles, opportunities and victories. I’ll be cheering him along every step of the way, even though we are miles apart.

There is a lot of pressure to have your life figured out at 18/19 years old. I wish there wasn’t. I wish we had more grace with these kids and they had more with themselves. I wish they could look in the mirror and see how great they are. I wish they would all know they have a place in this world. I wish they would have a foundation of trust for themselves and be trusted by others.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Trust in yourself and your path. You are here for a reason!

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.

Love and light…

My heart was heavy today as a dear friend was air lifted to another hospital. She is in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator. It’s never a good time for this, but it’s 10 days before Christmas Eve. Whenever anyone is struggling or hurting, she always sends prayers of love and light. This time she is the one in need of the prayers.

She is a beautiful, radiant woman with a heart larger than most people can comprehend. She has an angelic and comforting aura. She believes in the power of prayer, the presence of angels and the benefit of a good hug. We had to drive 200 miles away to find out that we lived in the same area. We met on a retreat and have been friends ever since.

Today, I lit some candles for her and said many prayers… prayers for complete and total healing, prayers for her family, prayers for her care team. It’s a helpless feeling when you can’t make someone better – it’s out of my hands, out of my control. All I can do is pray for her and offer assistance for her family. When one person is sick, it throws the rhythm off of the whole family. She is for sure an orchestra leader, like many moms. She needs our prayers and some help with the baton while her body rests and heals.

I don’t have an inspirational message this week. I don’t have a quirky story or a picture of my chickens. Instead, I have a request… I ask you to say a prayer for my friend, and any who are struggling right now. If you’re not one who prays, think loving/caring thoughts and fully healed lungs.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Take a big deep breath for those who cannot & give your loved ones an extra squeeze.