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.

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.

Circus, hamster wheel and mind tornadoes…

I recently learned that not everyone has a dialogue going constantly in their head. Not everyone has overlapping stories, memories, to-do lists, replays of conversations, future conversations, “what ifs” & “could have dones.” I wonder what that’s like. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, empath or have undiagnosed ADHD… but it’s a circus up in my head. It’s like if you took the movie Inside Out and had them all taking at once. Even when I try to meditate, my grocery list pops in my head, or the thing I should have/or shouldn’t have said either yesterday or 30 years ago. Pause. Breathe. Relax. Let go.

I think it’s one of the reasons why I rarely see people while shopping. If I’m at the grocery store, I’m doing a mental scan of my kitchen. What did I forget? Do we have enough cream soup? Did I remember the apples? Is there enough yogurt for lunch? On top of the other stuff that races through, it’s especially “busy” while shopping. I’m less present to what’s going on around me. I don’t see the people around me, so I often don’t even know that someone I know is in the same store. When my husband does the shopping, he gets what is on the list and that’s it. He doesn’t wonder if we have enough of this or that. He doesn’t think of what meals we will have this week, what’s in the fridge and what we need for the freezer. I love him dearly, but he just doesn’t think that way. He gets what’s on the list and he leaves.

I’m sure you’ve seen articles before on how “many women are exhausted.” Those of us with this mental gymnastics competition are even more exhausted. We want nothing more than to turn our brain down, hit a pause button or have someone else take care of some of these things. Yet we probably stink at asking! Several of us are addicted to social media because we try to zone out and slow the hamster wheel in our heads. We say we are “fine” when people ask how we are doing, but many of us are hanging on by a thread. We don’t want to complain, seem needy or weak, so we keep it to ourselves.

If you’re like me, I encourage you to write it down. Whether or not you read it again isn’t really the point, (unless it’s a grocery list then maybe make a separate list.) I need to do more of this – writing it down to stop it from spinning around in my head. If I write it down with pen on a paper, my mind breathes a little sigh of relief, “Oh, ok. I don’t have to keep that thought spinning up here and try to remember.” Several of these things we don’t really need to remember anyway. Maybe if we (and myself included) start this practice (back) up in December, we can have a more peaceful holiday.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May your mind tornado be slowed to a gentle breeze, and may you find peace this holiday season. Oh, and if you see me, but I seem oblivious, go ahead and say “hi,” I’d love to visit, I was just thinking about peanut butter.

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.

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.

To bee, or not to bee?

There is asparagus in there!

This past weekend was gardening weekend. No, it wasn’t especially warm. (48 for a high one day) it’s nearly the end of May and we needed to get the garden prepped to seed and plant. We have some rhubarb and asparagus that comes back every year. Luckily they weren’t hit with frost. This first picture is one of our asparagus rows. Yep, weeds and dandelions galore! Part of this is to prove to people who visit and think we never have weeds… yes, yes we do. Sixty five foot rows of asparagus (times five) makes for a lot of weeding. This year we had a larger than normal dandelion crop. Yes, I know that dandelions are edible, you can eat the leaves, make wine and use the roots for tea. Realistically, I don’t have time or energy for any of that. The dandelions are competing with the asparagus for nutrients and water, and I can’t sell dandelions but I can sell asparagus!

So I started weeding. Normally this is Cam’s gig, but he was busy doing other prep work that I couldn’t do. So I sat and pulled dandelions, and thought… “I wonder if anyone else has stories running through their heads at all times. I wonder what it would be like to have my mind quiet down a little. I wonder what the farm will look like in 5 more years. I wonder how many stories or metaphors there are about weeds in our garden.” As I inched my way down the row, it was obvious to see where I had been.

Slowly the asparagus and straw became more visible, and I thought the asparagus must be happy to breathe a little more. I learned that the chickens love dandelions, so I gathered some piles of plants and put them in a suet feeder cage. What a treat for the ladies! Trust me, the bees have plenty of opportunities for dandelion pollination in the yard. We’ve been very bee friendly this year.

Our focus changed to garden bed prep and the weeds had to wait. What weeds do you have crowding out your harvest? What things are bogging you down and slowly taking your resources? Stress? Over commitment? Illness? Recovery? Negative thoughts? Clutter? Perhaps you can take a little but at a time, freeing up some space and allowing you to take a deep breath. Spring is a wonderful time of rebirth and renewal. It’s a hopeful season but it can also be messy with mud and dirt (& now pollen!). New sprouts pop up, gardens and crops are planted, flowers are blooming. It’s a good time to weed our physical or mental gardens. While weeding may not be fun, seeing the fruits of our labor sure is rewarding.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. If you feel like you’re emerging from a two year cocoon, you’re not alone. Spread your wings, butterflies!

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!

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.

Bicycle built for two…

Sometimes I need reminding, but we typically celebrate the anniversary of our proposal. I’m thankful to have a partner who is good about remembering (less thankful that he gives me a bad time when I forget.) 27 years ago, it was a rainy spring day, much like today. We had less snow compared to today. It was similarly gloomy and chilly. He had been working overnight shift and the morning show at the radio station. I was still in college and working at Red Lobster. He wanted to go for a bike ride. We often went for rides around Fargo/Moorhead, up to 20 miles or so at a time. I was crabby about it because I didn’t want to get wet and it was cold. We lived in the same apartment building. I had a basement studio and he was in the first floor.

I’m sure I grumbled something about going but I reluctantly got into some warm gear for biking in the rain. He opened the garage door, and there was a tandem bike. At first I was a little mad because we didn’t have the money for a bike. There was no person hiding to film the proposal. No Instagram post, no Snapchat story… just him and me in a crummy garage with no photo proof. He talked about being on separate paths and how he wanted to be on the journey together with me. (Hence the tandem bike) He pulled a ring box out of the bike bag and got down in one knee. Obviously, I said “yes.”

He had borrowed the bike and needed to return it. We weren’t going to ride in the rain. He told me to go in and call family/friends while he returned the bike, then we were going out for supper. There weren’t cell phones for texting or taking pictures and I couldn’t even reach everyone I wanted to tell. I changed clothes and met him downstairs. There was a limo with champagne waiting for us. He drove out to my parents’ house to share a toast with them. They already knew, since he had asked them before he asked me. Then we drove back to Fargo and ate supper at TGI Fridays, the same place we went on our first date. They used to have really good broccoli cheese soup and really thin onion rings. I’m sure I stared at the ring and probably told everyone I could.

I know I’ve told the story before, but I like to be reminded of how special and romantic it was. It’s one of those “core memories,” something that changes the course of your life. I knew him through 4-H. We didn’t start dating until after my freshman year. I balance out his “crazy,” and he makes sure I laugh more instead of being so serious. We have lots of inside jokes. We talk in movie quotes way too often. We spent 7 years together before we had kids. We traveled, did goofy stuff and had fun. We also went through hardships. In just three more years, our nest will be empty. Maybe we will get a tandem after all. (P.S. we did eventually try a tandem and it was not easy!)

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I’d say yes again, I hope he would 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!