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.

Find one thing …

This is my cat in his “cat cave.” I’m jealous… I wish they made them for humans. Ever feel like you’re at the tipping point? Just on the edge of ok and not ok? Yeah. Me too. Some things seem silly and still drive me nuts. There is a road sign by a beach area – it’s a yellow sign suggesting to slow down. It’s winter in Minnesota. Nobody is at the beach. It’s not even plowed out as an ice fishing access. Every day I drive by it twice, and most days someone slows down for the beach area. I let it bother me. I know it shouldn’t but it does, so that frustrates me. When I know how to respond or how to act, but I don’t do it, I get frustrated with myself. I feel like a pouting kid needing a “time out.”

I’ve taken a lot of classes, read books and gone to retreats to help me be more self aware. I am much more aware of what things trigger me and how to respond. It doesn’t mean that I respond appropriately on a regular basis. I know I feel more relaxed when I meditate. I know I feel more clear when I am outside. I know I feel more grounded when I go for a walk. I know my mind feels less cluttered when I journal. Some days I feel like I have a tool box full of options and it is sitting on a shelf, just out of reach. That’s when I am jealous of my cat and want to crawl into a cave.

We had the cloudiest January in Minnesota this year. When the sun doesn’t shine for days on end and it’s cold & snowy outside, it can impact people’s moods. It does for me. I’ve been frustrated with others, frustrated with myself and just out of sorts. I think it’s a reminder to me that we are all human. Even when we know what to do, sometimes we struggle to follow through. Some days it feels easier to be like my cat and hide away.

This week, I challenged myself to find one good thing about the day. Even when things go wrong, I am going to find at least one positive. I know that focusing on the crappy stuff brings in more crappy stuff. The things that frustrate me in others are often a mirror to what frustrates me about myself. I can’t even fix it with a Snickers because I’m trying to eat healthier. So instead of candy or saying something I’ll regret, I’ll try gratitude. I’ll try focusing on something good. Will I be 100% positive? Probably not. But it’s enough because it’s a start. We all have to start somewhere and each day is a new day.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Give yourself some grace, but challenge yourself to find at least one good thing about your day. You’re worth it!

Hibernation…

It’s opening deer season in MN tomorrow and everyone is excited about getting out and hunting. Except me. I’m excited for my husband & son, but I won’t be sitting in a deer stand myself. I’m more of an “inside girl” in the winter. I try to ski and liked snowshoeing, but I still don’t love winter. Yep, I’m aware of where I live… winter is inevitable. It’s been in the 30’s for several days, and while that makes my son super excited that “ice will be forming on the lakes,” I just want to crawl into my hot coffee & eat all of my Halloween candy. It’s been super cold at work so I’ve had layers on. (Not as cold as my old job where I had a heater and fingerless gloves like from The Breakfast Club movie.) It’s cold enough that I crank it up to “nursing home hot” when I get home.

Hiding. Hibernation. Isolation. It’s easier to do here when it’s cold. It’s easier to get stuck inside under a cozy blanket and nap away the winter. But that’s not what we are called to do. We are called to connect with others, to support each other and to experience our lives. Remember how I told you that I joined a Connect Group at church? Connection. Why are we so scared of it? I met with two strangers and they didn’t laugh at me or call me nuts. We all have our own version of crazy, so we shouldn’t hide ourselves away just for fear of rejection. I went to a retreat last weekend with 18 other ladies I had never met. Me. An introvert. Guess what? It was great! It was amazing and it was fun. Connection. We all crave it whether we admit it or not. I cried and laughed with 18 strangers and made 18 new friends. I opened up my small circle to let people in. They didn’t run away. They hugged me instead. They cried with me and laughed with me. 

Even though I feel like a momma bear some days, I’m not meant to hibernate. Neither are you. I challenge you to let someone new get to know you. The real you, the authentic you. May your journey of enough include some new paths, new friends and new experiences. Life is short, go live it! 

Peace be with you!