You don’t know what you’ve got…

I took a week off. Last Wednesday, my throat started to hurt. By Thursday morning, I was miserable and starting to lose my voice. I had to take the day off work. Friday, I sounded like a deep baritone, and the weekend left me without much of a voice at all. Amazing how we don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone, right? I’m rarely thankful for my physical voice. I take it for granted. I sometimes raise it too much or use it in ways I shouldn’t. I joke that my family is probably thankful for my lack of a voice this last week, but it sure has been a challenge.

I’m a bit of a slow learner. In my (almost) 49 years around the sun, I’ve learned that if I don’t actually express myself, my body will yell at me… forcing me to pause or rest. My mentor warned me about this in September- that if I didn’t deal with the emotions, my body would surely let me know. This week, it has forced me to be quiet, to rest, to reflect. It has shown me how important it is to be able to communicate. How much it means to me to be heard, and how to find other ways to be able to interact with others. it has also forced me to ask for help, since I wasn’t able to lead meetings due to lack of a voice.

November is typically the month where we are reminded to be thankful. Even though we just put away the Halloween decorations, and some people have their Christmas trees up already, it’s still a good time to remember what we have. I’ve done a gratitude journal before and really enjoyed the positivity. It’s a thing that’s easy to forget about outside of November, but it makes us focus on the good. The more we remind ourselves of the good, the more good we see and attract. I can be annoyed with my lack of voice but thankful for helpful co-workers, understanding family and the ability to text instead of speak. I can be thankful for the time to rest and rejuvenate.

Are you looking for happiness while forgetting you have things to be happy for? We all do. I challenge us to have a mindful November… to use our voices to be helpful and supportive. Be kind. To others, but to yourself also. You’re worth it.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

Have to?

How often do we say we “have to” do something? I know I do… I many times a day. I have to get up earlier. I have to feed the chickens. I have to check my blood sugar. I have to vacuum the carpet. I have to drink more water. I have to go for a walk. Some of these things really do need to be done and some could wait. When I say the phrase “have to” it feels heavy to me. It feels like a burden. It feels like it’s something we are forced to do instead of something we want to do.

We have to… says who? Are we imposing these rules on ourselves or does it come from elsewhere? I don’t really have to write each Tuesday. It’s not part of a job. It’s something I get to do. Getting to do something instead of having to do something has such a different weight and feel. Getting to do something sounds more like an honor or privilege. People don’t usually say, “I have to get ice cream,” normally they say, “I get to have ice cream.”

Words matter. What we tell ourselves matters too. I’ve had a lot of things going on in my life that I’ve not written about, but all of those things swirl around in my head. I’m not great about “positive self talk.” I’m quick to dismiss compliments and I’m very hard on myself. I try to catch those thoughts and flip them, but it’s an ongoing struggle. I don’t think many people wake up one day all cheery and mentally well adjusted with a wonderful positive tract in the background of their mind. I tried adding some affirmations to my walls to have a visual reminder. Not quite the kitty hanging on a tree, but close. My pessimistic side says they are cheesy. I read that our minds don’t really know the difference between what is actually happening and what we are just thinking about. Are you thinking about what you have to do and all the struggles with it? It’s shaping your day. It can feel like a hamster wheel some days and it’s hard to jump out.

Sometimes I feel like this mushroom in the woods, growing silently in the shade. If I’m stressed out, am I acknowledging it and moving on or dwelling on it in the dark? What’s feeding my thoughts and shaping me into who I am becoming? There are currently 4-5 different kinds of mushrooms in our woods. They grow out of the stumps, in pine needle piles and on the side of the logs. We just got more rain so there will be even more sprouting up. They grow despite the lack of direct sunlight. They don’t need the spotlight to thrive.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Whether you’re in the shade or basking in the sun, your journey is your own, and you get to have a great day.

April showers…

From “false spring” to “third winter” to “April showers,” the weather in MN lately has been nuts. It’s messing with my mental health. When the sun is shining, it’s so much easier to be in a good mood. I have a window in my office and it’s nice and bright. When the weather is gloomy, my mood tends to follow. Lately it has rained or snowed most days. We didn’t get the three feet of snow or the ice storms that North Dakota received recently, so I’m thankful for that. They did need the moisture, but it was quite a mess. The one day it was close to 70 here, it rained and was windy.

I tried to do some stretches while at my stand up desk today in an effort to sit less. My vertigo has improved from the physical therapy, so that’s wonderful. Since I’m working from home, I don’t get many steps in per day. It’s one of the things I’m working on. Recently diagnosed diabetic, I need to get some more activity in each day. It will probably help my mood also. It just gets difficult to get any to go outside to walk when it’s so chilly. I’m a “fair weather walker.” It’s supposed to rain again Friday and Saturday so I’m not sure if that means April is going out like a lion or like a lamb.

This Saturday, I’ll be helping out at an Expo in Fargo, ND. It’s the first time I’ve helped my friend and mentor with one of her shows. I’ll have my books there for sale also. (Ramada Inn -Fargo 10-5) It will be outside of my comfort zone but I’m very excited. I’m going up the night before and staying over. Some long overdue self care is in order! Although I’ll be missing the Sandy’s donuts as originally planned, but it will still be good. I’ve had a lot of changes in the last year, and I am looking forward to a brief pause. We often neglect ourselves or forget to take care of our wellbeing. Too busy looking out for others, our own needs take a back burner. We wait for someday or think of maybe later. It’s easy for time to slip by and nothing has changed.

The past three weeks have made me focus on myself. I’ve had to be more intentional about what I eat, when I eat and how much water I’m getting. I’m tracking food, blood sugar, weight and activity. I was in auto pilot for too long. This can be a good change.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. You’re worth it! I am too!

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!

What if?

Butterscotch posing for a picture with her new scarf

So you’re probably sick of me writing about being in a “funk”… but honestly, am I the only one? Probably not. What do you do when you’re in a bad mood or just out of sorts? I am not great at remembering, but being outside AND smiling really help me. So today, at lunch, I went out to visit with my ladies and tried some scarves on them. They weren’t big fans. Only two had them on, and honestly not for that long. But I gave them treats & told them they were good chickens.

Sometimes we need to look within. What if we just loved ourselves? What if we stopped the internal chatter that is so mean, we would never say it to another human? (Although I think some people on social media really would say this) What if we looked in the mirror and said, “I love your curly hair,” or “Your eyes are beautiful.”? What if…

  • What if we appreciated the laugh lines because it means we laughed a lot?
  • What if we appreciated our grey hair because it means we got to spend a bunch of years on earth?
  • What if we were thankful for the toothpaste in the sink & the inside out socks on the floor because it means we aren’t alone?
  • What if we were thankful for smelly teen clothes because we knew we won’t always have them around?
  • What if we paused and took a deep breath because it reminds us to be present & thankful for life?
  • What if we were thankful for for rain because it brings rainbows and nourishes the soil?
  • What if we looked people in the eye when we checked out at the store because it would let them feel “seen?”
  • What if we stopped expecting pastors & teachers to be perfect and realized they are normal people like us?
  • What if we stopped waiting for “someday” because we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow?

I’m just as guilty of these as anyone else. I’m too hard on myself, too shy to look people in the eyes and too self absorbed to notice things around me. None of us are perfect. We aren’t meant to be.

Many of our kids are distant learning or partially distant. Many of them are struggling, missing their friends and the stability that school brings to their life. Many of our teachers are working in person and remotely or having students with a combination of the two (while trying to care for their own family.) Many of our health care workers are stretched thin, worn out and tired. Many of our small businesses are struggling to get by. There is a lot of crud & struggles & mess, but I don’t believe we are doomed.

What if we found the thing that makes us smile, and did that? What if we showed love to ourselves so we can fully love others? Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup… it is especially important to remember that around the holidays. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you have some “chickens in scarves” moments to brighten your day. Hang in there!

So close…

Ever feel like this pool ball? So close… just on the edge, but not quite there? Sometimes are aren’t ready yet. Sometimes we don’t feel safe. Sometimes we need support in order to make that last push forward. Just a small tap to get to your goal. New year’s is just around the corner and I’m not ready for more goal setting.

Somehow, it’s already December. Calling it a strange year is a monumental understatement. I’ve run through a variety of emotions, sometimes all on the same day. I have been the highest weight ever and have shed 20 lbs. I frequently have no idea what day it is, and I really want a vacation. I sent out some Christmas cards, but I haven’t done much baking. I put my tree up much earlier than normal. I grew to love yoga pants. We had a successful farmers market, despite a late start and obvious challenges. We planted earlier than we have in many years. We got rid of our roosters, but our hens are doing well. I was able to go to Texas in February and the rest of the year’s trips were canceled, postponed or modified. I sewed hundreds of masks. I baked more pies than ever before. I have a senior in high school and an 8th grader. We are managing through distant learning, then hybrid, then distant learning all while working from home (and then not, and then home again.) Oh and figure out what the senior will do after school. We’ve seen people come together and people more divided.

Did that seem random? Yep, that’s how the year has been. Celebrated 5 years cancer free, but learned of my dad’s cancer diagnosis and diagnosis of a friend of mine. Celebrated 25 years of marriage but couldn’t really celebrate. Some days I tried to work on personal growth and other days I was just trying to get by. Even though it’s early December, I feel like the New Year’s resolution time will be here before we know it… or maybe it will seem to take forever.

I frequently feel like the pool ball… On the edge of “ok” or not ok. Anyone else? I think we will all remember 2020. Nothing is normal and so much has changed. I still have a lot to be thankful for. I try to focus on those things when it feels like I’m walking uphill in quicksand.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Just keep in mind… someone else may be having a “pool ball” kind of day. Show them some grace- you don’t know what they are going through. If you are having a pool ball kind of day yourself, hang in there. You have a purpose & you are loved.

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.

Baby step…

This was the view from my floating raft Monday night. The sun beams peeked through the clouds as we floated down the river. The clouds gave a reprieve from the 92 degree day. The cool, clear water felt refreshing as we made our way down the shallow river among the turtles, muskrats and ducks. It was a peaceful night, and a baby step towards being around others.

Since mid-March, we’ve been mainly at home. Work and school from home, meals at home, & working in the garden at home. As our state continues to open up more activities, and lessens restrictions, we’ve been around more people. Our friends from Fargo came down last week for a tubing down the river adventure. We ate outside at our place and kept our social distance, but were so happy to be around other people. When it hit 90+ on Monday, it sounded like a good idea to do that again. Even for an introvert, being alone for the last 2+ months has been a challenge. It’s time to baby step back into society.

There are guidelines on opening up restaurants, guidelines for going back to work, guidelines for visiting others, guidelines for hugging relatives (but not for too long)… it’s overwhelming and exhausting. I’m thankful to have a job, thankful to have been able to work from home, and thankful for some extra time with my family.

It’s still a bit scary for me as a cancer survivor. Am I at a higher risk? How much higher? I made the first step in setting up my MRI for next week. It’s a “routine” for me since I have dense tissue and a history of breast cancer. Then early July I will see my oncologist, possibly for the last 6-month check. Perhaps I will get moved to yearly appointments after that. Baby step to Tuesday. And then I pause, because a random Tuesday was when I got bad news. Stop, refocus, change the story. Tuesday’s can be good. They are good.

When some of us are still isolated, it’s ok to reach out. It’s ok to baby step to the next thing. Oh, and if “What About Bob?” is on Netflix, I highly recommend it. I’m pretty sure we could quote the whole movie at our house. So if you’ve seen the movie, “I’m doing the work, I’m baby stepping.” I’ll get there eventually.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Even if it’s just baby steps, I’ll help cheer you on!

What day is it?

Seriously, since mid-March, 90% of the time, I have no idea what day of the week it is. Very rarely do I know the date. This is a bit of a challenge when I’m trying to keep track of school assignments, work schedules, blog posts and birthdays. The last two months have flown by and crawled at a snail’s pace all at the same time. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a time warp, or living some alternate reality. I’m aware this is a historic time, yet I’m not doing anything memorable or interesting. All of our summer plans are cancelled… county fair, state fair, fishing camp, Bible camp, Dude Perfect show… all of it. We aren’t sure if we will be able to go camping or not.

We are gardening, cleaning up outside, going for walks & fishing. Oh, and chickens. The chickens have been loving their tractor. I’m not sure why it has that name. Maybe because they drive around? They peck the bugs and grass and weeds and we drive them to their next spot. Some days I just want to stick my head in the sand and go watch chickens. Some days it’s productive and feels normal.

I run out of things to say. I run out of ways to motivate myself and my kids. I get overwhelmed by “do’s and don’ts” and the latest reports. We all have different opinions. At first, we seemed so unified, and we heard inspiring stories. The hearts in my window are sun faded. It seems the dividing lines, negativity and mean comments get more attention lately. When I feel those creeping in, I try to think of something positive, but I’m probably reaching for a snack instead. So today, I don’t have an inspiring story or words of wisdom… I just have me. Honestly floundering and just trying to remind myself that I am enough. You are too. Hang in there. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. We will get through this.