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!

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!

Not too much…

I saw this picture on Monday & instantly thought, “Yes! This is it!” While I often write about not being enough, there have been plenty of times when I’ve been considered “too much.” Too dramatic, too emotional, too obsessed, too hard, too soft, too opinionated, too heavy, too introverted, too quiet, too eccentric, too stubborn… While it’s easy to say “those aren’t your people,” sometimes that is hard to accept. Those people may be your friends or relatives, your co-workers or even yourself. What?! Me?! I’m too much for me?!

I can’t be the only one who has felt this way. Self acceptance is a tough one for me. I may assume people think I’m too much, when actually I’m just projecting my own thoughts. Whew, that’s a heavy burden. If I’m “too much” for myself, how do I show up for others? Insecure, doubting, not fully trusting… I’ve read books, been to counseling, tried medications, yet if I’m fully honest, I still struggle with being too much for myself and not accepting who I am.

The thing is, this is not a “one and done” type of thing – like work on it a little and you’re good for life? No. It’s an ongoing challenge. Self acceptance seems life a life long process. I need to heed my own advice. I need to show my kids that they are also not too much. Each of them has their own strengths and I want them to be proud of their uniqueness. We weren’t meant to all be the same.

While my crown may be a baseball hat instead of a crown, I’ll straighten it up and remind myself that I am not too much. And I’ll have to do it again tomorrow. Not too much, not “not enough”… but just right for today.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. You’re just right & you’re here for a reason. Have some fun while you’re at it!