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.

Golden Rule…

I know when they talk about “the golden rule” they are not referring to a yellow or golden ruler. Instead, it’s referring to a Bible verse:

Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Treat others how you would want to be treated. That’s the golden rule. Sometimes we get too self centered, or maybe it’s because we don’t always talk kindly of ourselves – either way, we forget the golden rule. Wish someone would ask you about your day? Try asking someone about theirs. Wish people spoke more kindly? Try being intentional about speaking kindly yourself. The summary of the verse: “Be kind.” Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I’m fully aware of the golden rule, but I don’t always follow it. I’m not perfect. I do know that when I’m more caring and considerate to others, I feel better myself. Giving makes me happy, but sometimes I forget to fill my own cup. We cannot pour from an empty cup. It isn’t selfish to fill your own cup. Sometimes we forget how. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of every day life, we forget what fills us up.

This past weekend, I spent 2 1/2 hours cutting up chicken (not my own birds!)… and that filled me up. What a strange thing, right? Two friends came up and we made a bunch of freezer meals for our friend. We decided since we had a big mess already, we’d make some for our own freezers too. And, cutting up chicken filled my cup. Not only will it provide meals for my friend’s family as she continues to heal, it will provide meals for my other friends and their families, as well as my own. We had recipes and assembly stations, freezer bags and bags/coolers of food. Coming from a manufacturing background, we had raw materials (chicken, beef, veggies, seasoning etc), semi finished goods (freezer meals ready to go), finished goods (key lime pie) and work instructions (recipes). We worked well together but we were exhausted at the end!

The golden rule. What did I appreciate when I was having treatment or recovering from surgery? Not having to worry about what/how to feed my family. So, I did for my friend what I was thankful was done for me. It doesn’t have to be a marathon food prep weekend – it can be a postcard, a call, a smile, a hug… do unto others. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you find what fills your cup so you can share that with others. Your act of kindness will be enough.

Same, but yoga pants…

I’m not a fancy gal. While I do like my nails painted, I’m too thrifty to have someone do it. In my 48 years on earth, I think I’ve had one or two manicures ever. I color my hair myself, which I know makes hairdressers cringe. Prior to the pandemic, not many people would have seen me in yoga pants unless I was doing actual yoga. Now I’m working from home and they are the attire of choice. Not seeing other people (aside from family) has me choosing comfort over fashion. (That and an extra x # of pounds.) It could be my age, or menopause or the events of the last several years, but I’m leaning more towards just being me. Oh sure, I’m still incredibly insecure, but I’ll wear my yoga pants anywhere I please now. And those friends who accept me “as is” are the friendships I value.

I recently read the book, “I’ll Be There (but I’ll be wearing sweatpants.)” I’m the same, but yoga pants. I highly recommend it. It’s easy to read, has stories from two ladies and tips or “things to do/what’s next” at the end of the chapters. It’s geared towards women. Sorry guys, but your whole idea of friendship is not really the same. I mean, feel free to read it if you want an insight into many women’s friendship struggles. I lost count of how many times, while reading this book, that I thought, “Holy cow… me too!” So many quirky things that I thought must be some strange trait, is actually more common than I could have ever guessed!

  • Trouble making friends? Not alone.
  • Still reliving friends from the past? Not alone.
  • Insecure when you walk into a room? Not alone.
  • Difficulty joining a friend group? Not alone.
  • Wonder what went wrong with a friendship? Not alone.
  • Wanting to be part of a group but afraid of rejection? Not alone.
  • Over-share or just not click with someone? Not alone.
  • Not invited to a group event when you thought you were part of the group? Not alone.

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Parts of the book had me time travel back… Back to 5th grade when a girl made our whole friend group turn on me because I wouldn’t give her my mashed potatoes at lunch. Back to when I was insulted at prom and didn’t realize it until many years later… (seniors willed the juniors things and many of them were code and either got by the admins or they just didn’t care.) Back to the time when I got a promotion and lost most of my friends as a result. Back to the time I had cancer and some of my friends disappeared completely, not once checking in.

But, it also made me super thankful for the friendships that I’ve held dear. Thankful for the times I went outside my comfort zone and met a bunch of ladies who believe in angels, fairies and signs from loved ones. Thankful for the friends I met while writing my first book. Thankful for the friends who met me in my mess and stress of graduation prep. Thankful for the friends I can text at 1am and the ones I can text at 6am. Thankful for the ones who send a postcard just because, who drop off flowers, or who want an honest answer when asking, “How are you doing?” Thankful for the friend who started out a neighbor and now knows me better than anyone.

Even those close friendships that I lost taught me something about myself. Do I wish I didn’t stress about what went wrong? Yes, of course. If you watch Ted Lasso, he says to “have the memory of a goldfish,” because they forget right away. I’m no goldfish. I remember the hand written notes, calling me names, shoved in my locker (because this was before cell phones.) I’m not a good fake friend. Sometimes my filter is gone. Sometimes I think I can trust someone, so I tell them a story and then I realize that was the wrong move. (I hear “abort mission” in my head as their eyes glaze over.)

So while I probably won’t try to small talk someone in the grocery store (for like 109 reason), I will take some of the other advice an tips from the authors. After I read the book, I sent texts to several friends. I have several more to do, but I’ll get there. Main take-aways: 1) Be honest 2) Put yourself out there 3) You’re not alone. Everyone has a mess of some kind. Mine might be my cluttered living room, but theirs might be something you don’t see.

As always, I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I’ll be there, but I’ll be wearing yoga pants and a funky ball cap. It’s ok to show off your crazy, I have plenty to go with it!

Same, but yoga pants…

I’m not a fancy gal. While I do like my nails painted, I’m too thrifty to have someone do it. In my 48 years on earth, I think I’ve had one or two manicures ever. I color my hair myself, which I know makes hairdressers cringe. Prior to the pandemic, not many people would have seen me in yoga pants unless I was doing actual yoga. Now I’m working from home and they are the attire of choice. Not seeing other people (aside from family) has me choosing comfort over fashion. (That and an extra x # of pounds.) It could be my age, or menopause or the events of the last several years, but I’m leaning more towards just being me. Oh sure, I’m still incredibly insecure, but I’ll wear my yoga pants anywhere I please now. And those friends who accept me “as is” are the friendships I value.

I recently read the book, “I’ll Be There (but I’ll be wearing sweatpants.)” I’m the same, but yoga pants. I highly recommend it. It’s easy to read, has stories from two ladies and tips or “things to do/what’s next” at the end of the chapters. It’s geared towards women. Sorry guys, but your whole idea of friendship is not really the same. I mean, feel free to read it if you want an insight into many women’s friendship struggles. I lost count of how many times, while reading this book, that I thought, “Holy cow… me too!” So many quirky things that I thought must be some strange trait, is actually more common than I could have ever guessed!

  • Trouble making friends? Not alone.
  • Still reliving friends from the past? Not alone.
  • Insecure when you walk into a room? Not alone.
  • Difficulty joining a friend group? Not alone.
  • Wonder what went wrong with a friendship? Not alone.
  • Wanting to be part of a group but afraid of rejection? Not alone.
  • Over-share or just not click with someone? Not alone.
  • Not invited to a group event when you thought you were part of the group? Not alone.

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Parts of the book had me time travel back… Back to 5th grade when a girl made our whole friend group turn on me because I wouldn’t give her my mashed potatoes at lunch. Back to when I was insulted at prom and didn’t realize it until many years later… (seniors willed the juniors things and many of them were code and either got by the admins or they just didn’t care.) Back to the time when I got a promotion and lost most of my friends as a result. Back to the time I had cancer and some of my friends disappeared completely, not once checking in.

But, it also made me super thankful for the friendships that I’ve held dear. Thankful for the times I went outside my comfort zone and met a bunch of ladies who believe in angels, fairies and signs from loved ones. Thankful for the friends I met while writing my first book. Thankful for the friends who met me in my mess and stress of graduation prep. Thankful for the friends I can text at 1am and the ones I can text at 6am. Thankful for the ones who send a postcard just because, who drop off flowers, or who want an honest answer when asking, “How are you doing?” Thankful for the friend who started out a neighbor and now knows me better than anyone.

Even those close friendships that I lost taught me something about myself. Do I wish I didn’t stress about what went wrong? Yes, of course. If you watch Ted Lasso, he says to “have the memory of a goldfish,” because they forget right away. I’m no goldfish. I remember the hand written notes, calling me names, shoved in my locker (because this was before cell phones.) I’m not a good fake friend. Sometimes my filter is gone. Sometimes I think I can trust someone, so I tell them a story and then I realize that was the wrong move. (I hear “abort mission” in my head as their eyes glaze over.)

So while I probably won’t try to small talk someone in the grocery store (for like 109 reason), I will take some of the other advice an tips from the authors. After I read the book, I sent texts to several friends. I have several more to do, but I’ll get there. Main take-aways: 1) Be honest 2) Put yourself out there 3) You’re not alone. Everyone has a mess of some kind. Mine might be my cluttered living room, but theirs might be something you don’t see.

As always, I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I’ll be there, but I’ll be wearing yoga pants and a funky ball cap. It’s ok to show off your crazy, I have plenty to go with it!

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!

The Windy City…

I was born and raised in North Dakota. If you live there, you know how flat the Red River Valley is. It’s not a valley with mountains or even hills along side… it’s flat as a pancake with very few trees. When the wind blows, there isn’t much to stop it. When we lived there, our patio faced north, which is where the wind comes from 90% of the time in the winter. It would be 10-20 degrees cooler by the patio door when it was storming.

Five years ago, we moved to Minnesota, and I sometimes forget about the ND wind. We have trees and hills to slow down the wind. People here don’t know the dread of an “east/west road” in the winter (when the wind blows from the north, the east and west roads are the worst because the snow accumulates.) Growing up, I remember hearing about Chicago being “The Windy City.” I thought they must not be able to stand the winters if it’s more windy than ND. But Chicago’s nickname didn’t come from actual wind. The name came from politics.

In 1893, Charles A. Dana, an editor of the “New York Sun,” published an editorial calling Chicago a “windy city.” He did so in reference to the city’s full-of-hot air politicians who were advocating and wooing organizers to hold the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in the city instead of in New York.Aug 8, 2020.

I skipped last week’s post because we were in “The Windy City.” Our youngest son is a fan of The Office TV show. Even though it’s been years since it first aired, he has watched the reruns and has seen it very show (more than once). I stumbled across some info about The Office Experience opening in Chicago and thought it would make a great Christmas gift. So I planned our road trip to Chicago, starting it off with The Office Experience. It was a hit. We all enjoyed seeing the TV props, sitting at their desks, winding our way through the trivia, pictures and set replicas.

We toured the aquarium, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science & Industry, saw the Blue Man Group, went to the top of the Willis Tower at night and to the top of John Hancock building in the morning. We saw “the bean” at night and the reflection of the city was amazing. We did a lot of walking and took several Uber rides (those were interesting!) We had sleet & snow one day and ended up soaked after our walk. We had some great food and stayed on The Miracle Mile. I also forgot our Norwex masks so we had to use what we had in the car & I only had 2 Norwex, so Cam got to wear the floral. I also forgot my tennis shoes, so I walked 10+ miles a day in my snow boots. We had to alter our plans a couple of times, but it all worked out. The Chicago City pass is a great savings, but the art museum isn’t open every day and the Conservatory has a capacity limit. The pass also lets you into addition exhibits or movies at most venues. We skipped the “stand on plexiglass and see the city below you.” We were out of town before New Years Eve festivities began.

This was probably our first trip without Dallas. He was working over the holiday break so he didn’t join us in the Windy City. Life is short, we’re taking the trip. My trip planning used to include spreadsheets and binders of info (ask my uncle!!) Now, I do most of the planning on my phone, use hotel apps and Google to find info, and I’m a little more flexible than before.

I wish your peace on your journey of enough. I know not everyone was able to be with family over the holidays or perhaps it was just different from years past. May the spirit of Christmas be with you year round.

I just couldn’t…

I missed my blog post Tuesday yesterday. I don’t get paid for this or have an editor to report to, it’s a self imposed timeline. I just couldn’t. Some things happened in the last week or so that were a bit triggering for me and I needed to take some time. It didn’t feel authentic to write about the beautiful fall weather when I was feeling down. I still don’t feel like Mary Sunshine but I’m taking steps forward and that’s a good thing.

I took a walk at lunch down to the dam. Breathing in the crisp fall air, hearing the leaves crunch below me, the squirrels gathering nuts for winter and the soothing sound of the water trickling down the rocks was just what I needed. It was part of what I needed. I also needed to be open/honest, but how much do I share? It didn’t seem right to spill everything out to anyone when I haven’t expressed things to my friends, family, co-workers etc.

In the past year, I can’t tell you how many times I have felt like a failure. It’s a lot. Of course I wouldn’t call anyone else a failure for similar things, but this is how my mind works. Messy house = I fail at keeping it tidy. Extra weight = I fail at eating healthy. Anxiety = I fail at doing the things that keep me balanced. Too much debt = I fail at managing money. Son struggling with money management = I didn’t model it well or work with him enough. Depression = I have too much to be thankful for to be depressed. Communication issues = I’m a bad wife/mother. Stack of unsold books = I fail at promoting myself. Cat sickness = I fail at being a good cat mom.

Unfortunately this list could go on. You get the idea. Our church is starting a worship series about the perfect family. Spoiler alert – there isn’t one. We all have issues, history, skeletons in the closet, you name it. The picture perfect “social media worthy” photos don’t tell the whole story. Sometimes we reach out and don’t find the help we thought we’d find. Sometimes we reach out to someone else who seems to struggle, but they don’t want our help. It can be so hard, yet we don’t talk about it. We don’t allow ourselves a bad day.

Then, on my way back home, I spotted a penny. I always pick them up, smile and say “thank you.” It’s usually a message to remind me that I’m not alone. The year often means something also… the year on this one? The year my husband graduated high school. Yep, I’m not alone. Neither are you. Sure, life can feel lonely at times, but we aren’t alone. Someone cares for you. If it doesn’t feel like it right now, reach out. You might be surprised in a good way. Perhaps your circle needs to change if those people aren’t supporting you in good times and tough times. Everyone experiences ebbs and flows.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. If you feel like you “just can’t,” reach out… get support…allow yourself to pause.

See the light, be the light…

This past weekend, I went to a retreat with 18 other women. I almost didn’t go. 5 times. I came up with multiple excuses, mostly related to someone else needing me to stay home – even though they didn’t. They needed me to be there, to relax, refresh & reconnect.

When I returned home and my husband asked what we did, I wasn’t sure what to say. Time was strange last weekend – it seemed to go slowly and quickly at the same time. We laughed, we shared, we connected, we caught up with ladies we knew and met new friends. We did crafts, played, ate and sat by the fire. For some reason, I was reluctant to share our spirit connections. Um, I’m an author in a Wild Woman Book of Shadows book… spirit connections shouldn’t be a shock. We connected with loved ones who have passed, we acknowledged and celebrated the light in each other, we shared stories and shed old patterns. We challenged each other to level-up, be the light and share the joy. We did yoga and sound therapy, stayed up late and giggled.

This was our first retreat without our friend. She attended many in the past and this was the first one since she passed away. We could feel her presence. She sent so many signs… some were subtle and some were huge. The photo above is the fire we had one night. I was going to snap a picture because I love the cozy feeling of a campfire. After I took the picture, I noticed the green light to the right of the flame. This was not visible when we were just sitting there. It danced off to the side as I held my phone up. I was able to get a video of it. Again, we couldn’t see it just sitting there, but it was amazing. We knew it was her spirit celebrating with us.

Last year I was spinning a lot and was nauseous, so I made a conscious effort to stay grounded. While we were visiting after breakfast, I knew I needed to step away. I went to the porch, sat with my coffee and a grounding mat. I did some meditation and was setting my intentions for the day. This was the largest group of people I had been around (for the longest time) in a year. I realized it was a little much for me and I needed some time alone. The difference is, that I took the time. I actually put myself on the list of “things to take care of.” While other people might have had big breakthroughs, my small one was a big first step for me. I struggle to add myself to the list. I tend to want to do/help/give and I forget about myself. Don’t forget about adding yourself to the list!

My other “big deal” was that I sat in our circle, far from the door or the kitchen with my back to the window. You may be thinking, “So what?!” It’s a big deal for me because I like to look outside. I couldn’t do that where I sat. I also like to either be by the door so I can quietly escape or to be by the kitchen in case someone needs something. And I acknowledged this step. Silly as I may sound, my friends also recognized this change and pointed out how different it was for me to do that.

My weekend take-aways: 1) add myself to the list 2) acknowledge small steps 3) my family cannot read my mind 4) releasing control is ok 5) allow the support and friendship. There were lots more, but this was a start.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Add yourself to the list every day. see the light, be the light.

The end…

This is the beginning of a recent cross country race. It’s one of my favorite views. The race gun goes off and the kids start running. The long horizontal line funnels down while they jockey for their spot. They try to find their pace. Don’t go out too fast and burn out, but don’t save too much so you have too much left over at the end.

Between 5K’s, half marathons, full marathons and cross country runs, I’ve lost count of how many I’ve watched or participated in. 50? Maybe more? It doesn’t matter. While the starting funnel is one of my favorites, the end is my other favorite. Not the finish line end, but the end of the pack. The kids who still are running even though many of the spectators have already moved on. They may have had to walk part of the course, they are battling an injury, struggling with the heat, or this is their pace. Regardless of their story, they are worthy of claps and cheers. They need someone to smile at them even if they have no idea who I am.

What’s the point? I know how they feel. I’m usually at the back of the pack too. I haven’t run in several years, but when I did, it was more of a slow jog. I have a friend who walks faster than I jog. At some point in our lives, we need someone to cheer us on. While it feels great to hear the loud cheers when you’re at the front of the race, the few people who cheer you on when you’re just hanging in there are important too. Odds are, either you know someone towards the back of the pack right now, or maybe it’s you. I hope you’re cheering someone on, if you’re able. It doesn’t take much – a smile, a quick text, a lunch visit, an unexpected package or treat… you never know when it might be just what that person needed to keep them going.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. “Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” Hebrews 12:1