Fairy Rings…

According to Google, a “fairy ring” is as follows: A fairy ring is a common name for a group of redwood trees growing in a circle, usually around the stump of a logged old-growth tree. After being cut down, a new generation of trees sprout from the roots of the fallen redwood, often creating a near-perfect circle or ring.

Obviously there are not a lot of redwoods in MN. I’m in CA visiting one of my sisters. I didn’t know I’d see her twice in the last couple of months (in ND) when I booked my trip. Normally we only get to see each other twice a year. I have zero regrets. I had a free ticket that I had received for donating to the Healing Odyssey Women’s cancer survivor retreat. I had actually forgotten about it, and when I realized that I had it, travel needed to be completed by November 1. Yikes. It all worked out and the trip has been great.

Since I work remotely, I can work remotely remote – as long as I have internet & don’t miss my meetings, I’m good. Since it is two hours time difference, I need to get up early but I’m done by 3pm or so, which works out well. I’m able to take a walk at lunch time to a nearby Target store which has a Starbucks. She has a Mane Coon cat who is enjoying having some daytime company. Sunday we went up to San Francisco to a musical and a walk along the pier. It was a great performance, fun to spend time with my sister and niece, and we had fabulous fish for supper!

Monday after work, we went to the redwood forest. Walking amongst the giant redwoods was amazing. It was so still and peaceful, not a breeze or a noise other than the rippling of the small creek or the occasional hiker. These trees are so giant and so old. It’s amazing to walk in their presence and think of how many hundreds of years they have been growing. One of the trees that had fallen was dated back 2,000 years. We stood inside and under them, walked through the paths and enjoyed the smell. My sister explained the fairy rings and we stood inside several – gazing up in amazement.

Traveling refreshes me. I love to see new things and experience new places. Yes, I’m a “homebody,” but traveling ignites something special. And, I think I could eat crab cakes and clam chowder several days a week, if not daily. I think there is a quote about going into the trees to find yourself. I couldn’t find the specific quote, but I highly recommend this, if you’re able. Being in nature is so refreshing and grounding to me. And, apparently the fairy rings have some magic of their own. Check out the green light in these photos!

(My shirt is not sparking green, it’s grey)
Green sparkles above my sister too!

Wishing you peace on your journey of enough. May you find time to be in nature, to travel or to spend time with those you love.

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking isn’t bad …

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

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

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

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

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

Ice breakers?

I’ve seen this phrase many times before. “There is somebody in the world who needs your story.” I often dismiss my writing. I think it’s not important, wonder who would care to read what I have to say and honestly question why I do this. Why do I share my stories with unknown numbers of people, many of whom I’ve never met and likely won’t meet? Connection. I know it’s not the physical connection, in person or face to face, but it’s a connection of sorts. Every now and then, someone will reach back to me and say, “me too” or “wow, I needed to hear that.” That’s the connection.

My writing is random and usually spirit led. It’s not eloquent or fancy. It’s often raw and always honest. It’s a peek into parts of me that not everyone sees. If you ask me in person how I am, I will likely reply with the ever acceptable, “fine.” Although for me to be able to write that I’m frequently not fine seems easier than saying the words out loud. I’ve gotten better with sharing things with friends, but I still feel like I’m a bother, so I don’t always bring it up. I’ll still be “fine, good, ok.” I have a small circle who dig deeper and don’t accept my scripted answer as the truth. Without judgement or criticism, they are willing to hear my crappy days as well as celebrating the great days. I treasure them more than they know, but gratitude is one of my strengths, so I feel like I do show them how much they mean to me. Hopefully that’s true.

It’s been almost 8 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. December will mark 8 years. I started a Caringbridge site soon after, and started writing more regularly not long after my treatment was done. In those years, I’ve seen so much change. Health scares, moving, new jobs, loss and gaining of friendships, struggles/lows and high points with family…. yet there is one thing that I keep getting reminded of: we aren’t meant to do this alone. I can go to church, but I need to walk the walk when I leave. I can go to a retreat, but I need to keep working on myself when I come back home. I can lose weight, but I need to be mindful to be able to maintain it. Along the way, I need people to help with all of those things. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

Our connections are like a thread… weaving us together in one way or another. The last few years it’s been easier to see what divides us instead of what unites us. Have you ever been in a room where you had to do an “ice breaker” event? One of the introvert nightmares of tell me about yourself ?! As much as those make me cringe, I love to watch the connections form. Things you see in others that resonate with you. Soon those strangers now have something in common. They don’t need to be your new best friend, but it reminds us how unique we are, yet we still have common ties.

Someone needs your story too. You may not think so, but they do. I know I’ve written a lot about it lately, but I feel like it needs to be repeated. You’re not alone. Somewhere there is another mom struggling to get it all done. Somewhere there is another middle aged woman wondering how she got to be middle aged. Somewhere there is another baker, a gardener, a chicken tender, a cat lover, an artist, a writer and a survivor. It just takes a brave first step, an awkward ice breaker or a smile in the grocery store.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Thank you for letting me share my story, even if it is just with a few people. I’m thankful for you, more than you know.

BFF?

I couldn’t find a fitting picture but I love the river.

Within the last few weeks, I’ve seen Facebook posts about our 30 year High School reunion & the “all school reunion,” as well as people bringing their kids to college. It got me thinking about friendships. How many people have life long friends or friends from college years versus friends they met later in life?

I didn’t attend the high school reunion due to a bowling tournament for our youngest son. If I had gone, it would have been pretty uncomfortable. I haven’t kept in touch with many of my classmates for the last 30 years. It was not a large class – less than 50 in our whole grade. Obviously we have things in common, but we grew apart for various reasons. It was probably 10 years ago when I last saw any of them. I kept in touch with my college friends for a while, but we grew apart also.

What makes a lasting friendship? I’m probably not the right person to ask. I told one friend about my concerns regarding her abusive boyfriend… that friendship ended. I over-shared with another friend… didn’t hear much from her after that. Some who I thought were friends disappeared during crisis. Some faded without knowing the reason why… maybe there wasn’t much of a reason. In my head, it was likely something I did. Since I’m more introverted, I tend to avoid going out to meet people – I prefer to be behind the scenes. I wasn’t always that way. I was much more social in high school and college. I think it was the fading of friends that shifted it for me. I know people, but not all of them really know me.

I’m guarded. I worry about being accepted, about not being enough or being too much. I value time with my family and prefer to recharge at home. I do enjoy adventures and traveling. Attempts at setting boundaries end up being walls. What do I think is important in a BFF? Acceptance, honesty, fun, caring, compassion & joy.

I remember the friend who could walk and talk for miles. I miss that. I remember the friend who stopped by with a meal, I want to be like that friend. The friend who sends random postcards or texts, I cherish that. The friend who digs deeper into the “How are you doing?” question and doesn’t take my “fine” answer, I appreciate that. I want to be the kind of friend who makes a difference. I want to be a safe/accepting friend. I want to make someone smile, make them realize they matter and let them see how wonderful they are.

Our seasons of friendship change. For some, the season is longer and others maybe fade more quickly than we planned. Either way, they shape us into who we are. I hope you have enriching friendships and you are able to be the kind of friend you need yourself.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Make sure you are friends with yourself first and be aware of what you want in a friendship. You are enough, just as you are. Someone else thinks so too!

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.

Busy beaver…

I couldn’t resist the pun. My job has taken me to Cumberland, WI this week and the school mascot is a beaver. Kind of fitting for the busy week it has been so far. We had a big system upgrade and the teams of people who have been working for years on this project have come together for the “go live” event.

This trip was different for me in a couple of ways. I haven’t spent much time away from my family in the last 2 years. I haven’t spent 10-12 hours/day in a conference room with 15 other people in quite a while either. I miss the family. I could do without a conference room full of people for a while.

What have I learned this week? 1) I overestimated the amount of time I’d have to read. 2) Not all Holiday Inn Express hotels have scrambled eggs. Some have sour coffee, but sugar free cocoa (I don’t understand). 3) I like routines. 4) Not everyone thinks about food all day. 5) I am thankful for my home office. 6) We could use a Kwik Trip near our place at home. 7) My mind wanders in 1,000 directions and by the end of the day, I’m exhausted. 8) It’s ok to leave for lunch at 11, especially if your blood sugar is low. Nobody cares. If they do, they don’t say anything. They’re probably jealous you took initiative and they’re waiting until 1pm to eat.

I didn’t find myself in Wisconsin. I wasn’t lost. I did learn some more about myself and I feel much better when I can take a pause. I’ll let the beavers be busy while I recharge. Back at it again tomorrow, but looking forward to the weekend. Now if you’ll excuse me, Redwood Bend is calling my name, and 5:40 am will come soon enough.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Stay busy but know when to pause. You’re worth it!!

A day disconnected…

Last weekend, we took a trip out west to see our oldest son. Since neither of us love driving long distances, we broke it up into 2 sections – part way Thursday after work, and the balance on Friday. Thanks to hotel internet and vehicle WiFi, I was able to get quite a bit of work done. We arrived Friday and got to see his house. It’s a nice place for college kids, in a good neighborhood. It’s nice to be able to picture where he is when we are talking.

Saturday we made our way to Yellowstone National Park. We saw some elk, antelope, maybe a bear & lots of bison. The last time we were there, it was winter – so it was great to see everything lush and green. They’ve had more rain than normal, so the rivers were flowing rapidly and the grass was getting long. While Dallas and Cameron fished, Myles and I checked out the geysers and hot springs. We had little to no internet or cell service – it was perfect (except for trying to contact the fishermen who had wandered up stream). A day to disconnect and reconnect with nature. Despite someone getting thrown in the air by a bison recently, people still walked way too close to them to get a photo. Their heads are large & strong and they can run 35 mph. “Do not pet the fluffy cows!” And this time of year, there were a bunch of bison calves, so the moms were extra protective.

Yellowstone bison (taken from the vehicle)

I could have sat by a stream and listened to the water all day. The hot springs were steamy and warm, but it was still chilly the day we visited the park. We just missed Old Faithful by 10 minutes, the next time it would erupt would be an hour and a half, and it started raining. So we saw some of the surrounding areas and started to make our way out of the park. A long line of traffic was stopped due to another bison traffic jam.

Dallas
Cameron
Myles
Me

I’m thankful for a safe trip and a nice visit. I learned that because of being diabetic, I need to be intentional while traveling. We were all tired and I actually had a sunburn (didn’t think about it because it was chilly and cloudy). I’m thankful for a day disconnected and time with family. My message is to slow down. Take some time to breathe deeply. Stand in nature, sit in the grass, listen to the birds and rivers. It’s easy to get caught up in our “to do” lists & forget to take time to disconnect.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Where will you go to disconnect? Some time away, (even if it isn’t far) is good for your soul.

Calm after the storm…

The Robin nest remains unharmed after the storm

We had quite the storm last weekend in the Alexandria, MN area. Tornado warnings resulted in one tornado and straight line winds. There are at least two power companies in the area and ours had 8,000 people without power Thursday evening. We’ve lost power temporarily before but it usually returns pretty quickly. This one was worse. Many power poles down, trees falling and substation damage made it a challenge to get back up and running. As social media began to show rumors of multiple day delays, we knew we had to get a plan going for fridge/freezer/sump pump. The heating and cooling would be ok since the temps were mild. Having a farmers market business means we have more fridges and freezers than the average person.

The tornado warning extended to midnight, so we slept in the basement and got the generator in the morning. Extension cords were run to the appliances while we quickly tried to combine the freezer contents. A spark on one freezer made us think we were probably at the limit. I spent the day swapping the cord between freezer and sump pump. I would not be working remotely Friday. A call to the power company indicated it would likely be Saturday before we had power. A friend borrowed us another generator so we wouldn’t have to swap back and forth. The basement stayed dry despite the constant water pouring into the sump hole.

We have hundreds of trees around us. It’s not an exaggeration. We live in a pine/evergreen forest. Winds in our area were 80-100 mph. We had 0 trees fall during the storm. Zero. The loss of the contents in my fridge were a drop in the bucket compared to the damage some homes and buildings sustained. Huge old trees tipped over like dominoes less than a mile from our farm. Our power returned early Friday evening. Almost 24 hours without power makes you realize how much you depend on it.

An amazing thing happened between Friday and Sunday. People came together to help each other out. Neighbors and strangers grabbed rakes, chainsaws and wood chippers to clean up the storm damage. A local Bible camp had 40-60 trees down. Zero trees fell on a cabin or building. Hundreds of volunteers showed up with rakes, wheelbarrows, chainsaws and work gloves. Our youngest son wanted to do something for the community so we made Krispie treats with evergreens on them. Many of the trees that fell were big evergreens. We worked for 3 hours at the camp and he had treats for the workers. He interviewed and took some video for his you tube channel “The Unspecified Show.”

All around the community, people shared resources and helped each other out. Sometimes tragedy brings out the best in people. I think there will be plenty of firewood and wood chips in our area this summer.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. We all experience storms in life. I hope your community rallies to help. And I hope there is still signs of new life to come, like our robin’s nest.

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.