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.

Spending time…

“Time is money…” “Spending time…” “Wasting time.” Somewhere along the way, we began to equate time and money. Maybe it’s because we’re paid by the hour? Or maybe we realize how valuable time really is?

“Days of Our Lives” is still a soap opera and it must have enough followers to continue to produce shows. Although I haven’t watched it in many years, I’m sure some of the same characters are still there. I could probably pick it up and be able to follow along despite a 20 year break. “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” Who would have known a TV show opening lines would have so much meaning? Time slipping away like grains of sand in the hourglass. I can picture the grains as events… moments… good or bad, happy or sad, all slowly moving to the other side. We don’t know how many we have. Each person’s is different.

Only God knows how many days we have. Some hourglasses are small and some are large. For many years, I couldn’t picture myself growing old. It worried me. “Did this mean I would die young?” I wondered if it was a premonition. It bothered me that I couldn’t envision a 95 year old me. That was probably around the same time I thought 47 seemed super old though. I’m not sure. Now I find it fun to think about the what if’s. Twenty five years ago, I didn’t imagine my life today. Marriage (grain of sand), two sons (grains of sand), 3 main jobs (grains of sand), 4 different houses (grains of sand), published author, cottage food baker… it wasn’t all on my list. How have I spent my time? Did I wisely use my grains of sand? Either way, I don’t get them back.

Tonight I spent some time with our youngest son, who is learning to drive. I spent time with him at the bowling alley. I spent some time with the cat. I spent some time talking to our oldest son, as he prepares to move to Montana next week. I spent some time making supper and dessert (spent time=saved money). Spending time seems like it has a positive spin. We also waste time too. Sometimes the wasted time adds grains of regret or guilt. These too, we cannot get back.

The passage of time has been on my heart a lot lately. Not only because of our son moving away, but seeing my great nieces and nephews change, seeing my parents age, seeing my grey hairs become more plentiful… all reminders of the passage of time. It can seem so fast and so slow all at once. I know there are some moms who will be missing their kids and others who can’t wait for summer break to be over. It’s ok. It’s ok to not have the answers. It’s ok to feel “all the feels.” It’s ok to spend your time however you want. Your journey is yours. Embrace it.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. (And if you want to spend some of your time reading a good book, I still have some for sale! )

Zip lines & spider webs…

2 years ago, I was zip lining in the mountains of CA for a cancer survivor retreat. I like to remember that trip. For me, it reminds me of what is possible. It reminds me I can fly to CA, drive up a mountain by myself (without getting lost), and stay with strangers who would become friends. I can do a ropes course, zip line and do yoga on the mountainside. I can share my story, and listen to someone else’s story without fear or judgement. I grew a lot that weekend. It seems like a lifetime ago, but I think it was a turning point for me. I can do the tough things and still be vulnerable.

It’s bittersweet because we’ve lost some of the ladies from the retreat. My heart aches for their loved ones who have a void that won’t be filled. The kids who miss their mom, the spouses, friends and parents who reach for the phone and realize they can’t call to say hi. They enriched the lives of those they touched, but it still doesn’t make sense why they had to pass. Some things just don’t have easy answers.

The loss reminds me to appreciate my health, to cherish my friendships and to find JOY. It reminds me to fill my circle with people who cheer me on, even if I don’t make it across the ropes. We all have an invisible connection. When I picture it, I see a spider web. It slowly spins as we tell our stories and gain a connection. By the end of the weekend, the web was strong. Roommates, similar diagnosis, similar struggle, similar victories, similar likes and dislikes, with a common respect and a lasting connection.

A zip line in the mountains was where I found my courage. A zip line in the mountains was where I laughed and screamed and almost puked. A zip line in the mountains will hold a special place in my heart. And every year when this memory pops up, I will think of this web of connection woven between women who started with one common thread (cancer), and ended up with so many more. Your tragedy doesn’t have to define you, but it sure shapes you in a different way.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you find your own “zip line in the mountains” and don’t forget to keep your eyes open. The view is breathtaking!

Less than?

From Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:

Based on what we know at this time, adults of any age with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:

My BMI is 31. I’m obese. I’d like to say that you can’t tell by looking at me, but maybe that’s denial. So technically, if I got Covid, I’d be considered a person with an underlying health condition. The people who dismiss illness or deaths because the person had an underlying health condition frustrate me. Do you fall in any of these categories? Smoker? Overweight? High blood pressure? If you do, that does not mean you deserve to get COVID19. And it certainly doesn’t mean it’s ok if you die from it. You are not less than. My cancer is gone, my blood pressure is borderline ok & I’ve gotten rid of almost 20lbs, but I’d still have that label.

My head swims with worry, not fear. Worry for my dad who has cancer, my mom who will be his caregiver, my sister and niece who are exposed in the healthcare field, my sister, niece & friends who are teachers, my friend who is high risk, my friend who is going through chemo, my sons and husband, my extended family… the list goes on. As an intuitive introvert, I crave harmony. I want everyone to stay safe and healthy. I don’t feel like anyone is less deserving of life if they have an underlying issue.

We don’t know everyone’s story. We don’t know their history or what issues they have now or have had in the past. You are enough and you are worthy of good health. I wish you peace on your journey of enough… May you have compassion for others and share the peace of you have some extra. Take care!

No rest for the weary?

Normally, I sleep pretty well. Aside from when my boys were small, I’ve usually been able to sleep well. My husband is a very light sleeper and gets up pretty early. If it was up to me, I would probably sleep longer but I always feel guilty sleeping in. After all, there is stuff to do. I’m not a 5am type “early,” but I do get 6-7 hrs of sleep. And I need to or I don’t function well. I know this about myself.

I was recently thinking about the difference between sleep and rest. To me, they are not the same. I can sleep well, but not feel rested. And I feel like my soul needs rest, but it does not need sleep. In the last 6 months, many of us have had more time at home than ever before. Some of our busy has been replaced with other kinds of busy. Commuting worries replaced with internet speed worries…Wondering what to wear replaced with wondering what to cook… Trip planning replaced with “at home” routines. Balancing work, school, cooking, homework, internet speeds, lack of travel, gardening, markets, relationships, baking, mental and physical wellbeing has been exhausting for my soul. Some days are better than others, but I’ve felt a general sense of needing rest, regardless of how much sleep I get.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:2

Ugh, weary. That word just speaks to me so much. Weary is a very vivid word, and it makes me think of a tired soul. Weary – like a mom who needs some time alone. Weary – like a teacher worried about her students. Weary – like a pastor who just wants his congregation to be together, but also to be safe. Weary – like a cancer patient navigating treatment during a pandemic. “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” Jesus isn’t saying for you come to him and take a nap. He is saying to come to him with your burdens of worry, and lay them at His feet. How many times would you like to take off that weight on your shoulders and set it down? You can. Easy to say, not as easy to do. We hold so tightly to the straps on that burden, clenching it in our fists… afraid to set it down. Afraid of the “what if’s.”

  • What if I didn’t do enough to help my kids?
  • What if their time online outweighs their time to be “kids”?
  • What if work doesn’t think I’m doing enough?
  • What if my house is messy?
  • What if I have to say no to someone?
  • What if my kids’ mental health suffers?
  • What if mine does?
  • What if I miss the Senior year and don’t soak it up enough?
  • What if my health suffers?
  • What if a loved one gets sick?
  • What if I miss out on time with my spouse, even though we see each other more?

Lay it all at His feet. Hand it over. Worrying just steals from today, it doesn’t change anything. Telling someone not to worry is also not effective. So maybe we do both? Allow the thought, acknowledge it, and release it. Either hand it over to God or write it on a piece of paper & burn it. Release it, so you can rest.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough… The kind of peace that gives your soul the rest it needs. Time to get some sleep too.

Yabut …

My high school art teacher recently passed away. She was a cool lady. She told it like it is … no sugar coat at all. She didn’t like it when someone said, “Yeah, but….” She would stop you. “There is no yabut,” she would say. Either you agree or you don’t. I think that was her point.

There are lots of debates being waged on social media. Lots of yabuts. Lots of keyboard warriors on a crusade. I’m guessing the posts have changed very few minds. If I strongly believe something, some stranger yelling at me isn’t likely to make me suddenly switch. Instead of yabuts, what about “yes, and?”

  • Yes, I believe in God, AND I think others can believe whatever they like.
  • Yes, I want to get back to normal, AND I worry about my high risk family members.
  • Yes, I support friends who are cops AND there are some changes that need to be made.
  • Yes, kids are missing school AND I have family who would be impacted because they are school staff.
  • Yes, I understand the desire to go back to work, AND I’m a wreck with anxiety.
  • Yes, I want to travel and explore AND I want to stay in my house.

It’s draining. The energy around people is almost visible right now. Tension, anger, frustration… if I could float down the river each night, I would. Tonight, I’m pressing pause. I’m sitting in a lawn chair on a gorgeous MN night… reading a book and writing to you. Asking you to pause. Put down the anger and frustration. Leave the “yabuts” for a while. Look for some miracles or inspiration or something positive. I almost didn’t write today because I was too overwhelmed… then I figured just maybe someone else needed to pause too.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you have more “yes and’s” and fewer “yabuts,” and take some time for o pause. People will still be angry online tomorrow.

Let me know how I can help…

A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer. This is never an easy thing to hear, but in the midst of a pandemic, it can be especially overwhelming. In the past 5 years, I’ve had many people reach out to me after a friend or loved one was diagnosed. They want to know what they can do to help their loved one. I don’t feel like an expert. I don’t have a medical or psychology degree. I’ve written about it before but it’s a good reminder. And, if you’re willing to share this post, it might help someone else too.

For the person diagnosed: This is scary. It doesn’t matter who you are. When you hear those words, your heart stops. The doctor may sound like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon show “wa wa, blah blah blah.” You can’t process those things. It’s all going to be a blur. Here is my humble advice. some of it I did and some I wish I would have.

  • Get a notebook. Take it with you to each appointment or treatment. Keep it in your purse or by your bed to write down questions- you will have a lot of them and you will forget 90% of them when you walk in the doctor’s office. Write down what the doctor or nurse says. It’s super helpful.
  • It is not your job to give people a “to do list.” People will say, “Let me know how I can help.” If you do think of something, great… but do not feel like you have to give a list or task to everyone. Also, some people just say that and don’t really mean it.
  • It is your job to accept help. This takes pressure off of you and lets your loved ones feel like they are contributing to your fight. If someone close to you can let people know what you need, it’s up to them to figure out the ‘how.’ My mom, sister and nieces came to clean my house before I started treatments. It was great. I’ll have some ideas for the helpers below. Just know you can and should accept help. It does not make you weak, it allows you to focus on getting better.
  • Find someone who does Reiki or Healing Touch. I learned about this later, but it’s really good, helpful and soothing. Also, yoga Nidra is like a deep relaxed state – not the yoga you’re thinking of. It will help keep you calm during treatments and ease some anxiety.
  • People around you will not know what to say. Some will fall away and you won’t hear from them. Others will show up at your door with a hot dish and a smile. I wasn’t prepared for the people who ignored me. I’m sure they were uncomfortable and they didn’t know the right words, but it was surprising. It’s ok. Focus on you, your health and recovery.
  • There will be expenses you aren’t prepared for. Even insurance companies who seem good will deny coverage for strange things. Accept financial help. It will ease some burden and worry. It’s also an easy way for people to help and support you.
  • Scan-xiety is a real thing. It’s also something they don’t prepare you for. You will likely be anxious or moody before a scan or test. It’s ok to talk about it. The Reiki/breathing techniques do help, but it’s still a real thing years later. It does get better!

For the people looking to support the patient, here again is some humble advice.

  • Just do something. Don’t wait around for the perfect thing to do – just reach out. Send a card, letter, gift card or care package. They will appreciate it, but they might be overwhelmed or exhausted & not get a thank you note sent.
  • Instead of asking what you can do, offer options. “I’d like to bring dinner on Tuesday. Does that night work for you? Would hotdish or meatballs be better?”
  • Ask if you can set up a Meal Train. It’s a great way for people to sign up for meals. The recipient can state how many people to feed, if there are allergies or foods they don’t like. Keep in mind, if someone is going through chemo, their tastebuds will be different. They may have family or caregivers though who still need to eat.
  • Care package ideas: notebooks, plain note cards, stamps, cash, gift or gas cards, books (Jesus Calling was one of my favorites), prayer blanket, movies, tea, lip balm, unscented lotion (my sense of smell went crazy and I couldn’t handle strong scents), something with meaning between the two of you, travel pillow, hard candies, water bottle, planner, comfy socks/slippers etc. I got button up pj’s for after surgery because it was difficult to raise my arms. If you know them well, make it personal & meaningful.
  • Ask if there is an errand you can run for them… “I’m going to get groceries, what can I get for you?” “What day could I fill your vehicle for you?”
  • This is difficult for them. Don’t make it about you. Don’t look at them like they’re broken or dying. Don’t leave them. They need your support and prayers.
  • Remember the caregiver and family. This is super hard on them also. They are scared too. Find ways to reach out and help, distract the kids etc. (this is more challenging now but you can get creative.)

This is probably more than you wanted to know, but it’s for sure not everything. Everyone is different, with different diagnoses, different personalities, and different needs. Maybe it will help someone going through cancer, their caregivers or their loved ones. Please share it if you feel it could help someone else.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. You are not alone, and you are worth fighting for!

All in…

There is a song by Matthew West called “All In.” This is the first part:

My feet are frozen on this middle ground. The water’s warm here, but the fire’s gone out.

I played it safe for so long the passion left
Turns out safe is just another word for regret

So, I step to the edge and I take a deep breath
We’re all dying to live but we’re all scared to death
And this is the part where my head tells my heart
You should turn back around but there’s no turning back now

I’m going all in. Headfirst into the deep end. I hear You calling, and this time the fear won’t win. I’m going, I’m going all in.

The song is talking about your faith in God – how it feels safe to stay where you are… in the middle ground. If you go to church, do you go just to be seen, or are you the hands & feet of God? Routine and comfort are familiar, but the fire has gone out. Where is the excitement? Sometimes our head tries to keep us in the routine and tries to stifle our hearts. Whenever our hearts try to lead, our heads try to stop us.

  • That’s silly.
  • That’s not practical.
  • That won’t work.
  • Don’t follow your heart.
  • Don’t talk to someone new.
  • Don’t take that risk.

Our heads would like our world to remain small. Our heads would like us to stay safe. The song says “safe is just another word for regret.” At the affirmation & intentions class I went to in Saturday, “All in” was my phrase for 2019. We didn’t do New Years resolutions, but we did have words or phrases to focus on. This is the year I start my book. This is the year we will harvest and sell our fruits and vegetables. This is the year I will write consistently. This is the year I will be “All in.” All in with my family, my faith, my work, my farm, my writing & my love of life.

I hope you have someone who challenges you to move off the “safe middle ground.” Life is meant to be experienced & not just tolerated. Have some fun, try something new or complete something you started long ago. I wish you peace along your journey & maybe you’ll listen to this catchy tune. Don’t let fear win. May you be “All in” on your journey of enough.

So close…

Do you ever feel like this pool ball? Do you feel on the edge – soooo close, just not quite there? What’s the thing you need to push you forward or onto something great? How long will you sit there?

A few things happened to me after I had cancer. Aside from physical changes, my outlook on life changed some also. “Life is too short” took on a whole new meaning for me. I would sit at my desk job, feeling bad because I wasn’t making a difference in the world.

Life is too short to be unhappy.

Life is too short to be stressed.

Life is too short to be angry.

Life is too short to _____ (fill in the blank).

I might not be “changing the world” like I envisioned, but I am changing my world and my family’s world. I’ve tried a bunch of new things in the last 3 years… I joined a wine club, taken a Healing Touch class, joined a church small group, become a co-chair of our Relay for Life team, taken intuition & spirit classes and shot a bow & arrow. Do you ever get a whispering feeling nudging you in a certain direction? If you don’t pay attention to it, does it get louder? Are you like the pool ball, sitting on the edge? Don’t let fear hold you back. There is a Christian radio song called “Fear is a Liar.” It’s a great song. Fear is a liar. It will try to keep you small and safe and comfortable. Don’t believe the lies.

On your journey of enough, I hope you listen to the nudge instead of just sitting on the edge. I hope you take a risk, make someone smile, try something new, meet a new friend, experience something amazing. Peace be with you on your journey. Life really is short – make the most of it.