If you know me personally, you may know that I believe in signs. Signs from the universe, signs from God, signs from angels, signs from our passed loved ones… I believe they show up to guide us. We just aren’t always looking.

Cardinals are often associated with signs from loved ones. They also like pine trees. Since we are surrounded by a hundred or so, we see a pair of cardinals every year. This year, they decided to nest right in the tree/bush right by our front window (I’m not sure what it is- it’s either a cedar or an arborvitae). I noticed them flying back and forth and when I looked last week, there were 4 eggs. This week, two have hatched. I like to listen to the momma bird as she chirps and chatters. New baby birds are pretty ugly, but it will be interesting to see these little ones turn into beautiful red birds.

What a blessing to be a host to 4 more “signs” to guide someone else. This week has been busy with work, gardening and track meets. I started three different blog posts and never got around to publishing. Then these little ones started hatching. I took it as a sign that they wanted the attention and to be a vehicle to remind others to look. Look for the signs. When you start paying attention, you will see more than you realize. Every trip we go on, we find pennies or dimes (my grandparents and aunt) and even quarters (my mother-in-law wanted to be unique so we’d know it’s from her). A friend used to see eagles, which were a sign from her husband. She has passed on now too and her friends will see eagles and think of her. Some people find feathers or other animals. One friend gets skunks as a sign (I think I’d request a new one!!)

My point is, be aware. Be looking. What can it hurt? Noticing a sign can give hope, encouragement or help you remember someone you love. Maybe they remind us to slow down. To quote Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you pause to look for signs as we go into the weekend and the new moon. You are enough, and your loved ones and guides are here to cheer you on and help you realize it.

(Side note, our school mascot is also a Cardinal!)

May’s basket is full…

May is a full month! It was difficult to fit all of the things in the basket. These are just a few of the events and things for May. It will go by quickly. Nurse and teacher appreciation weeks hit home for me – I have several of both in my family. These people care for/about and nurture others. They are often taken for granted and tend to put others before themselves. Thank you, nurses and teachers!

May brings us the winding down of the school year, and graduation prep for some. For those moms/parents of graduates, I understand how quickly this month will go. I understand how much you want to soak up these “lasts” with your child. Hang in there. Everyone is looking forward to the nicer weather. We often forget that not everyone is looking forward to summer break. For some, this means food insecurity, lack of a loving/stable/safe home and a lot of uncertainty. I’m fortunate that my summers growing up were spent at the pool or working. I looked forward to the break.

I skipped writing last week due to some personal issues. Since May is also Mental Health month, I’ll share a little of what is going on. I wasn’t doing well last week. My son was struggling and I couldn’t do anything to help/fix it. My work status was in limbo and it was out of my control. I felt sad and frustrated and scared. I wasn’t ready to write about that. We tend to share the shiny /happy moments with others and this wasn’t either of those. This week, I realized that we need to share these “not so shiny” moments also. I’m not alone in my struggles. While I tend to minimize these things in my mind, I listened to a podcast where someone talked about trauma being trauma, regardless of the size of it. That really hit home for me. It’s really what sparked the name of my blog… I felt like my cancer wasn’t bad enough and I frequently felt not good enough. It’s not a competition and it shouldn’t be a comparison. It’s OK to not be OK and this last week, I really wasn’t.

May also has Mother’s Day. I vividly recall a pastor who gave a sermon about Mother’s Day not being a happy day for everyone. I couldn’t understand why when I was young. As I grew older, I realized not everyone has a great mom, not everyone has a mom who is still here, and not everyone who wants to be a mom is able to be. I spent several Mother’s Days in tears… wondering why it wasn’t working for me. Why wasn’t I a mom yet. Since then, I have two wonderful boys who are now young men. I’m grateful and thankful to be their mom. I really am #blessed. For this Mother’s Day, I’ll be missing my oldest son. My other son had me on his podcast, which was cool. It will be coming out soon under the “Be Unspecified” Podcast. One thing I forgot to mention in the interview is how proud I am of him. He has come so far in the last year and I know he will continue to do great things.

So whatever your May brings you, I hope you take some time to take a breath…a deep, cleansing breath. (Hopefully the pollen won’t make you sneeze!) Peace be with you on your journey of enough. You are enough, just as you are.

A different perspective…

This photo is from a recent evening, right in my front yard. I heard there would be auroras visible, so we went outside. At first, it just seemed like lighter cloud streaks in the sky. Then I took my phone out to take a picture, and the magic dancing lights appeared. I’ve tried to take pictures of the moon before and those rarely turn out. For some reason, the northern lights like to have their picture taken. The greens and purples showed up on my phone just like I remembered them.

My husband and I started dating the summer after my freshman year in college. I was home for the summer near Fargo, ND and we started dating after a 4-H conference. When fall came, I went back to college in Grand Forks (80 miles north). I was a resident assistant my sophomore year. We continued dating, but that meant quite a few trips back and forth for both of us. Some of those trips back to Grand Forks were pretty late at night. It was common to see the auroras dancing across the sky as I drove back to my dorm. The greens and purples would ebb and flow like waves across the night sky. There was no city lights to get in the way.

The reason why the aurora looked brighter on my phone than in real life recently, is because the human eye cannot see faint colors at night. So last year, when my sister and I were driving all over trying to see them, we might have been able to if we took out our phones. It’s a different perspective. It got me thinking about how sometimes we need to change our perspective in our lives also. Taking a step back and looking at things through a different lens might reveal something beautiful.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May your “different perspective” bring you clarity and beauty.

The Speed of Life…

I’ve been trying to write on Wednesdays, but the “speed of life” has been pretty rapid lately. I finally realized it was Thursday already, and decided to write a quick post. (well, maybe not quick)

I remember (when I was a kid), the school year seemed like it would take forever. I remember thinking my kids would have never sleep through the night when they were little. Some points in our lives it feels like things are moving in slow motion. Then I blinked, and one boy is 20 and the other is 16. There are men in the photos that used to have little boy grins and buzz cut hairstyles. As nostalgic as I can be for the past, and how quickly it has gone, I’m excited for the future. I’m excited to see where life takes them. I’m their biggest fan (in my opinion), and I’ll be cheering them on through every stage of life.

We don’t see the playbook or the plan. We don’t know the twists and turns ahead… for them or for ourselves. I’ve often said that I’m not a fan of “where do you see yourself in 5 years,” because I never thought I’d be where I am. I also didn’t think our son would be in Montana and the other one would have a You Tube show. I’m so proud of them, and even though I have some regrets about my past, I’m excited for our future.

Last week, we went to Fargo for an improv comedy show. I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time. Right after that, our youngest went to the State DECA competition, where he was in the final round. He’s planning out classes for next year, all while starting track, thinking of a summer job, and planning his live show yet this month.

To quote Ferris Bueller, “Life goes by pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I think it depends on why it seems like it’s going fast – is it exciting? Is it stressful? Are you overwhelmed or just trying to add a bunch of things into your calendar? Can we be busy and happy, or is it one or the other? I think that’s up to you to decide.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Whatever speed your life is at right now, may you be happy and blessed.

It’s free…

A very small number of people know that I had a bit of a scare in the last week or so. There was a red spot and some pain on my right side. Although I had my mammogram in January, it wasn’t going away and I don’t really want to take chances. They only do ultrasounds certain days in my town so I had to wait a week. I contemplated canceling the appointment because it was getting a little better, but I decided to go anyway.

The ultrasound tech was so kind. She complimented my shoes and talked about how she was thinking of getting a pair. She asked about my hair, if it was naturally curly. She talked about her friend’s curly hair and how she wished she had curly hair. She noticed my Valentine nails & we talked about those for a bit. She put me at ease. Kindness is free. She could have just done the ultrasound & sent me on my way. Instead, she validated my concerns, saw me as a person, not just another patient, and complimented three things about me. She asked several times if I was warm enough. She sat with me while we waited for the scan to be read in Fargo.

The scan showed it was ok…Probably just a skin blemish. She said the only “wrong” thing to do is to ignore changes. She walked me out and told me to have a great day. The sun is shining, I still had some money on a Starbucks gift card and I now have a clean bill of health. Life is good. Kindness is free. We should sprinkle it around a little more freely. Share some joy with someone!

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. You know your own body the best. Advocate for yourself and do not feel bad about doing so.

Be fabulous…

This fabulous, tutu wearing, glitter crowned, dancing chicken hangs in my office. It’s a card I got for my birthday. It makes me smile and reminds me that we can all be fabulous. She reminds me of my chicken, Sesame. Yes, my chickens have worn tutus. In fact, there is a video of them running around with tutus and I was laughing so hard while filming that I literally almost fell to the ground in the woods.

How often do you underestimate yourself? How many times do you avoid something new because it’s scary? Fear of failure or rejection, imposter syndrome, lack of self confidence… all those things try to keep us small. We wonder if we are enough. We may miss out on life.

Our youngest son has a You Tube show “The Unspecified Show.” He started it last year when he was 15. He has adjusted and improved and now he has added a podcast (Be Unspecified Podcast). At 16, he’s more brave than many adults. He took a chance, and he’s fabulous. He has learned new skills, advocated for himself, met with businesses, had a float in the parade, is working on an adopt a highway section, and has grown his audience. I am so proud of him.

He has inspired me to reach further myself. I am working on self-publishing a book and starting a another project also. It’s going to be fabulous. I’m going to learn, grow and meet new people. Is it scary? Yep, yes it is. I don’t want to be left with “what if’s.” Life is short, make it great!

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Have a fabulous day!

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.