Nostalgia, like a warm hug…

I skipped writing last week. Sorry if you were looking for it. I’ve still been struggling with some things. Here I am this week though, ready to go. By the time I post this, I will be traveling to Montana. I’m so excited to go back to Bozeman for Thanksgiving. I’m also thankful for a friend willing to check on the chickens and cat, thankful I remembered to hold the mail and thankful for a Nest camera to keep an eye on things at home.

As I was in Target on Sunday, I walked by the hats and gloves and had to do a double take. This hat instantly reminded me of my grandma and the crochet turtles she made for all of the grandkids. Now this same pattern is in a hat and a headband. It isn’t the olive green, gold and autumn orange colors, but it’s the same pattern. She made pillow turtles for all of us. It was a backrest for Saturday morning cartoons or a pretend horse, depending on the day.

The old is new again. I’ve seen it many times. “Mom jeans” becoming cool again. The acid washed jeans, folded & rolled ankle … I’m waiting for the stirrup pants to return too. (Although I don’t think I’d jump on that trend) I’m not sure why the style trends rotate back around. Some of these are likely nostalgic – maybe a designer also had a “Grandma U” and they wanted to remember her.

Why do these things make us smile, make us feel comforted, like a warm hug? It reminds us of a happy time or of a loved one who has passed. As we approach the holidays, food often triggers a memory also. I remember my grandma B’s gingersnaps, not much larger than a half dollar coin. I remember my uncle playing guitar and my one cousin with a Christmas birthday. I remember finding my grandmas Siamese cat hiding from the visitors. I remember my grandma U’s “Christmas dessert.” I remember the house filled with laughter and games. I remember decorating sugar cookies in our farm house kitchen, a tradition that I’ve continued with my kids. I remember the molasses spritz cookies, still requested this year. Our Angel tree topper was made by my grandma. Some things make us smile and other times we might scratch our heads.

While I may not jump on board the acid washed jeans trend, some of these old things becoming new brings a sense of comfort. I’m instantly transported to those memorable events. I may not remember what I received as gifts each year, but I will remember the laughs, games and food of the holidays.

Wherever your holidays take you, I hope you’re able to have a hug of nostalgia. I hope you’re able to pause and think of all you have to be thankful for. May peace be with you on your journey of enough. I’m thankful for all of you who take the time to read and/or share my posts.

Discouraging words?

“Home, home on the range
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day”

After a modified Christmas, we ventured towards Billings, MT. We planned a tour of the college over the break. We saw lots of deer and antelope playing on the way. There were a few discouraging words from the back seat (ha ha). A tour of the town and driving through campus in person is much different from what you can see on a web site. It’s difficult to get a true picture of size, cleanliness, safety and over all feel of the college (and town) from the pretty pictures on the web site.

As long as we are this far west, what else should we see? This sparked a conversation that led to a last minute trip 2 hours west to Bozeman and a campus tour. The town is beautiful, the campus was larger and he really seemed to like the area.

Do you remember deciding what you wanted to do after high school? I do. I changed my mind and my major several times. I changed colleges twice. I heard several discouraging words. My high school guidance counselor said I should not go to a technical school for radiology tech because my grades were too high. I was told I couldn’t be a physical therapist because I got a B my freshman year. I thought of becoming a counselor until I was a resident assistant in the dorms. I ended up with a Mass Communication degree but scheduling and planning manufacturing production lines.

It’s a balance between finding what you love to do and being open to other options. Allowing your kids to be able to spread their wings is one of the most wonderful and frightening moments all at the same time. As we toured the campus, they had a statue of a bobcat named “Spirit.” Surrounded by snow capped mountains, it seemed so peaceful. And, as “cheesy” as it sounds, I knew the spirit would always be with him. I hope he listens to the nudges from spirit as he navigates adulthood. I’ll try to limit my discouraging words.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you seldom have discouraging words as we head into 2021.

Missing pieces?

2020 is certainly a year unlike any other. It will likely be one of those moments in time you will remember. Similar to the Space shuttle explosion, JFK being shot or 911 attacks, people remember where they were or what they were doing at the time. Except this was more than just a moment in time, it was a whole year. With 18 million Covid cases in the US, you likely know someone who has contracted it by now. It’s changed almost everyone’s life in one way or another.

As we approach Christmas, you may feel like you’re missing some puzzle pieces. You may be missing a tradition, an event, a gathering, a trip or even a family member. My youngest son has a bunch of Christmas/holiday suits and he normally loves to wear them all month long. This year they remain in a tote. Our big group holiday baking day was replaced with individual baking day(s), not quite the same. We don’t have a Christmas program or a winter concert. Our whole family won’t be together for the first time in several years. When we were in college and first married, we had to work over Christmas, and had to celebrate at a different time. It seemed like no big deal. Now the lack of control makes it feel more difficult.

The very first Christmas was simple. It was small. There were no fancy Christmas outfits, no big buffet meals… just a young couple and a baby, some livestock and shepherds. Maybe this year is our reminder to keep it simple… to think back to the true meaning of Christmas. I know not everyone celebrates Christmas, but if you do, Christ’s birth should be top of the list. I like the Gospel of Luke.

Luke chapter 8: And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

I can’t imagine this happening today, can you? I can believe the “no room in the Inn” part happening today, but if someone said , “Hey, follow me to see the son of God.”… I’m guessing some people would pause. Maybe that’s the piece we need to put back together. The Christ in Christmas. Or if you aren’t a believer, maybe Hope and Peace are your missing pieces.

Whatever your missing piece, the love of Christ can always fit in. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Merry Christmas & happy holidays!

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!

Thankful Tuesday?

What age is it when you can’t remember how old you are, so you have to do math to figure it out? …But your random math skills stink even though you do math every day? Not sure, but it’s been happening for a while. Tell me I’m not the only one who has to do math to figure out their age? Like only on the significant years (21,30,40) do I know how old I am for a whole year. Ha ha, maybe it is just me.

My birthday usually falls around Thanksgiving. Since that isn’t the same day each year, it varies. Having a Black Friday birthday was fun when we could stay up all night and go shopping. I’ve baked Christmas cookies for my birthday, driven to our favorite restaurant, had Thanksgiving meals or spent the day shopping. This year will be different, so I’m going to see if I can come up with 47 things I’m thankful for. These are not really in order of importance. I’m just glad I could come up with this many.

  1. My husband. 25 years of marriage – we’ve had our ups and downs but he’s stayed with me and still tries to make me laugh.
  2. My boys. Forever thankful I got to be their mom. Even though some days I struggle, I think they know I love them.
  3. My sisters. I’m thankful to have them as my friends. They are both strong, faith centered, family loving women. They are amazing examples to me in more ways than they will ever know.
  4. My nieces and nephews. Blessed with some of the best. I’m thankful to get to see many of them & treasure the time we have together.
  5. My friends. I’m a bit reserved, so it takes a while for me to open up, but if I talk your ear off, you’re in my circle. My true friends “get” me & don’t try to change me or force me to fit in.
  6. My cat. Toothless has been a wonderful addition to our family, even if my hubby isn’t a fan. I love the kitty cuddles. He is one of the softest black cats.
  7. The chickens. These 6 ladies make me smile so big. They each have their own personalities and make me laugh. I love their different sounds, and the way they run to me when they think I have treats!
  8. My cancer journey. I’m not thankful for cancer in general because it sucks and it takes lives and loved ones. I’m thankful for the lessons I learned and for my ability to help others.
  9. My job. It puts food on the table and a roof over our head. It’s not glamorous and most of my family has no idea what I do, but I’m thankful for it.
  10. Our land. Not just the house, but our land. The land that grows the crops that feed us and our community. The beautiful trees and the land that houses the chickens and my son’s fort.
  11. I’m thankful to live near the river. Floating down the river with friends in the summer is one of the most relaxing experiences. I love to walk down to the dam and listen to the water and watch the fish.
  12. Faith. My faith has gotten me through some tough times. It has also evolved over the years.
  13. Love of travel. Most years, we’ve been able to take a trip or go camping. We sure missed it this year.
  14. Music. I listen to the same station when I’m driving & it’s uplifting/positive. I’ve been enjoying Christmas music at home though.
  15. Planning skills. Aside from being my job, it also helps with #11. Not all my trips have budgets and spreadsheets, but it has happened.
  16. Writing. I’m glad my cancer journey led me to writing. It’s something therapeutic for me and I’m in awe when people share it because it resonates with them.
  17. Art. I’ve always loved art. I like to paint and draw. I don’t let myself do it enough, although I have more paintings than I have room to hang them.
  18. Sewing. I learned to sew through 4-h. When I was in college, I had a work-study job at the costume shop. I kind of faked my way through sewing costumes for plays. Now I like to sew baby blankets, masks & the burp cloths like my grandma used to make.
  19. Pictures. I take a lot of pictures. I go in spurts with getting them printed or put into books. I don’t remember everything, so I like to have a picture to remind me. It’s fun to look back on our adventures.
  20. Empath. I consider myself empathic. I can sense people’s energy and often take on their feelings. I’ve learned more about holding space for someone else instead of being a sponge and absorbing it.
  21. Yoga. I’m thankful I learned yoga. I miss it. It’s peaceful and relaxing. It’s a way to connect to the earth and move my body.
  22. Laughter. The kind of belly laugh that makes your eyes tear up so you can hardly see. I was laughing so hard recently, I almost had to pull my car over. It was great.
  23. Senses. Something we often take for granted, but I’m thankful I have all of mine.
  24. Meditation & prayer. It is a great way to be present & connect with a higher power.
  25. Journaling. Sometimes I just need to write down all the stuff that’s in my head so it stops spinning around up there.
  26. I’m thankful for anyone who had read this far!
  27. Campfires. I love sitting by the fire… Especially on a crisp night, with a hoodie or a fuzzy blanket. I love the smell, the sound, the sight of it. Maybe because it awakens so many senses. (Not touch though LOL)
  28. Lakes. Being by water is relaxing to me. I like to be on the boat or go fishing with my family.
  29. Stories. I’m thankful for the stories my boys tell me about their day. I miss reading stories to them as little kids. I’ll settle for fishing or Minecraft stories now.
  30. Half marathons. I’m thankful I did them. I didn’t set any records or have a fast time, but I finished. I showed myself that I could move forward for 13.1 miles. Maybe I’ll do another… someday.
  31. Fall leaves. I love going for a walk in the fall, when the leaves crunch beneath your feet. I love the smell of them, the sound, and the sight.
  32. Crisp white snow. I’m not a big fan of winter, but when the ground is all white and the snow glistens in the sun, it is pretty.
  33. Skiing. Speaking of snow, I like to downhill ski. Our friends taught us how and I like it. I’m still a novice but I have a good time.
  34. Camping. I know I mentioned travel, but I think camping is it’s own thing. There is something special about cooking over the fire, making letter shaped pancakes and sleeping in a tent or small cabin. Some of my best memories with my boys have been camping.
  35. Big extended family. My parents came from large families. I’m thankful to have a big support network. I miss my grandparents.
  36. Curly hair. Maybe a strange one, but I have very curly hair. It’s naturally curly and I let it be. It doesn’t take me long to get ready in the morning.
  37. My unique name. There aren’t too many Mavis names around, so it makes me feel unique. Add in a last name that few can pronounce, and I’m even more unique.
  38. Coffee. But not for the typical reasons… I don’t NEED it to get my day started. I like it though. I like the warmth, the smell and the taste.
  39. Retreats. I’ve gone on a few retreats with other ladies, and it’s been amazing. I’ve met people I would never have met before. They’ve opened my heart and widened my circle.
  40. Time. I’m thankful to have had (almost) 47 years here. We never know when our time is up, and I’m thankful to still be here.
  41. Pennies from heaven. My grandparents & aunt send pennies or dimes (10 kids). My mother-in-law sends quarters. Little reminders that our loved ones are still with us just warms my heart.
  42. Movies. We watch a lot of movies as a family. I enjoy the time together & we are often quoting lines from movies.
  43. Flowers. I love fresh flowers. I often pick some up to have at my desk (pre-Covid). They are so beautiful and make me smile.
  44. Blankets. Maybe because it’s cold outside now, but I love being curled up in a cozy blanket.
  45. Care packages. I love sending them. I love to put together a surprise for someone to lift their spirits or even make their day.
  46. Fireflies in the summer. I love to watch them in the summer, especially on a clear, starry night.
  47. Last, but not least, my parents. (Hopefully they read this far!) I wouldn’t be here without them. I wouldn’t have a giving heart, a sense of faith or a love of family without them. I’m grateful to be their daughter. My dad just celebrated his 80th birthday. I’m thankful for that also.

Wow. 47. I wasn’t sure I could get that far, but I could probably keep going. It’s easy to think of a few things, but to get to 47 takes some extra thought. Whatever your Thanksgiving looks like this year, remember all that you are thankful for. Focus on those things. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May your thankful list be long, and your heart & belly full.

Kindness can be contagious…

(Ok the picture isn’t an act of kindness- I love the angel wings and I’m wearing my Chickens Christmas sweater so I thought I’d share lol) Nicole Philips has a book called, Kindness is Contagious. She’s a fellow cancer survivor, mom and just all around neat person. Her book about kindness, my recent birthday & the goal to get me out of my “humbug” led me to my 46 acts of kindness. I set out with the idea to do at least 46 things between my birthday (on Black Friday) & Christmas Eve. It took a little bit of planning. I also had to remember to write them down. I’m not doing this to brag or for an attagirl– I wanted to spark some ideas for others. Some of the things on my list were things I’ve done before but some were new. Some were free and some cost a quarter or two. Others were a little more expensive, but nothing crazy.

I learned a few things: 1) people are often shocked when you give them something 2) not everyone pays it forward & that’s ok 3) it’s ok to step out of your comfort zone to make someone’s day brighter 4) I found myself judging my acts- were they big enough, good enough etc. – don’t do that 5) kindness really can be contagious & it doesn’t have to just be for birthdays or Christmas- we can do this anytime!

So, here are my 46 things. Some I did more than once.

1. Brought coffee and donuts to church staff.

2. Went back home to get Cam’s medicine so he wasn’t late for work

3. Tipping the gymnastics team at the grocery store

4. $10 gift card to Caribou to a random person in the drive through. (walking up to their car freaked them out a little)

5. Bag of toys for holiday toy drive at work

6. Reindeer chow for coworkers (this is a Chex cereal/nuts/almond bark/candy treat)

7. Platters of treats for neighbors & friends.

8. Donated to 2 charities (Robbie’s Hope and Healing Odyssey) on Giving Tuesday Dec 3, so the funds were matched

9. Gift bag of office supplies for church office

10. Donated toiletries, blankets & gloves to homeless (Kare Packs)

11. Put a $5 bill in a box of generic diapers at Target – maybe next time I will add a note

12. Donated food to the food pantry

13. Sent a bunch of pjs for kids who have been abused or neglected (Project Ignite Light)

14. Paid for my coffee in the drive through + person behind me and gave the lady at the window a $7 tip. Her smile made my day even more than the $7 made hers.

15. Shared Christmas chickens pictures with co workers to brighten their day.

16. Praying intentionally for a friend who was experiencing lots of struggles.

17. Smiling and saying “hi” (more than I normally do)

18. Brought a poinsettia plant for our front desk lady & thanked her for all she does.

19. Mailed Christmas cookies to a niece right before college finals

20. Put a bunch of quarters in the carts at Aldi (x2)

21. Fed the birds

22. Put quarters in the candy vending machines at Wal-Mart (found a dime when I was doing this, thanks Grandma!)

23. Got a wind up Christmas chicken for a co-worker who also loves chickens

24. Save pop tabs for Ronald McDonald house

25. Handed out free ice cream coupons to 3 men walking over to Culver’s.

26. Set out waters & treats for UPS, Fed Ex & USPS workers (modify this if you’re in MN, the water will freeze LOL)

27. Gave change to Ronald McDonald house in the drive through

28. Put candy canes on car door handles in Albertville parking lot (this was lots of fun)! Also did this in Target

29. Put quarters in the candy/toy area in Albertville outlets

30. Son wore a Christmas suit to spread cheer – made people smile

31. Donated to the FFA at Culver’s

32. Put coffee creamer in the lunchroom by the coffee pot for coworkers

33. Bought toys & books for a little boy from the giving tree at church

34. Held the door for construction worker at church

35. Brought donuts for coworkers on a stormy Monday

36. Picked up an extra gift card for the giving tree because there were some that weren’t claimed yet

37. Gave a coworker a ride to her car at the repair shop

38. 7 Bags of treats for middle school teachers

39. Make tie blankets for Pink it Forward (sends to cancer patients)

40. Leave pennies for someone to find

41. Put quarters in the feminine products machine and left 2 extra quarters

42. Tipped cleaning people at the motel

43. Sent a bunch of personalized packages to ladies from a retreat I went to last year. Each thing reminded me of them specifically. I think the postage might have gotten mixed up though – Oops!

44. Mailed out a bunch of Christmas cards & put an extra sheet of stamps in the self service kiosk at the post office

45. Donated food to the middle school food shelf (sends food home with kids in need)

46. Paid for the person behind me in the Culver’s drive through. The cashier said, “Why would you do that? Just kindness?” Yep, just kindness. Merry Christmas.

My most fun: (by far) was the candy canes on the car doors. I did this 3 times because it was so much fun! There were people waiting in cars who saw me – I gave them candy canes too!

The most sneaky: $5 in the diaper box with no note

Most unlike Pinterest: the treats for the delivery drivers… the water froze & I had to bring them in at night so critters didn’t try to eat the snacks, then sometimes forgot to put them back out even when we did have a delivery.

Which one will you try? I’d love to hear your ideas! Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Merry Christmas if you celebrate or Happy Holidays if you don’t. Either way, I encourage you to spread some kindness- maybe it will be contagious!

To the moms…

That’s me in the middle. Lol. Obviously. I’m no longer taller than either of the boys. Neither one can (or would) sit on my lap. I don’t read stories to them or hold their hands in the parking lot. Those days are gone. This picture was taken on Mother’s Day. While I could be sad that my boys are no longer little, I chose to be happy they are growing.

Mother’s Days are not always sunshine and roses. Many Mother’s Days were spent wondering if I’d ever get to be a mother. This year was the first Mother’s Day since my mother-in-law passed away. This was the first Mother’s Day for friends who lost their son. I’m aware of how special it is, and I try my best to appreciate each Mother’s Day. There are very few things I want or request on Mother’s Day.

  • Let me sleep a little
  • Coffee is good
  • No dishes
  • No laundry
  • Flowers are nice but don’t spend too much
  • I’d like to avoid cooking (much)
  • I want to spend it with my kids

That last one is like a time bomb. I can hear the time ticking away like the clock on the wall. I won’t always get to spend this day with them. I don’t always see my own mom each Mother’s Day. There will be a time when my boys are working or in school or married or having kids of their own (hopefully not for a while). So for now, I’m thankful for each Mother’s Day I get with them. Last year, we moved compost and planted asparagus on Mother’s Day. This year, we played cards, went for lunch, visited a little and took a nap. Heavenly. The cat even got to visit for a while.

There are many days of motherhood where we feel like we aren’t enough. I don’t think that will go away regardless of how many books we read or inspiring videos we watch. We will feel like we are not enough because we care. We care about our kids, our family and ourselves. We want to do better and be better, not realizing we already are. We already are the cheerleaders, the working moms, the stay-at-home moms, the ones who remember the lunch money and get the ibuprofen in the middle of the night. We are enough because we care. I urge you to look into the mirror this week and tell yourself “You are a good mom. You are enough.”

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you have fond memories of Mother’s Day to carry you through some tough days. We are all in this together & you, sweet mom, are enough.

Thanks, but no…

It’s Christmas time and the season of holiday parties. While we don’t have a “work Christmas party,” there are some groups who do parties this time of year. I’m thankful to be invited, but I’m likely not going. I just might not have thought of an excuse yet. I wrote about this last year also, but it bears repeating.

I’m a stereotypical introvert. I need time alone to recharge. I get flustered by people who demand an answer right now. And the thought of going to a party makes my stomach hurt. If you are not an introvert, this probably seems strange. “Just go, it will be fun.” Yeah, I’m sure people will have fun, but if I go, I’d likely fill awkward silence with a drink and that would quickly become out of hand. It is not the image I’d like to portray to my co-workers. When I was 17? Sure, I didn’t care. Also, I’m not good at small talk. If my husband is there, I’m fine – he does all of the talking and story telling. I smile and laugh at his jokes or roll my eyes, and I don’t have to say much.

For years, I thought there was something wrong with me. “Why don’t you come out for happy hour?” I just couldn’t. I’d rather be at home with my family or shopping by myself. It wasn’t until I read some articles on introverts that the lightbulb went off – I’m not so strange. I need to honor and respect that part of me instead of trying to be something I’m not. I have little patience for “fake” people, so why would I want to be one myself?

People have different reasons for not going to the party – maybe they have other things going on in their personal life that they haven’t shared yet. Perhaps they are dealing with loss or being alone. While it’s good to invite people, I think we need to respect their answer. We shouldn’t make them explain their why.

Going to events like this remind me of all of the ways I’m not enough. I realize it’s a self imposed thing – I’m not smiling enough, I’m not funny enough, I’m not social enough, I’m not pretty enough… this list goes through my head. I know I need to speak kinder to myself and I’m working on it. It takes time. My request is for the answer of “no, thanks” to be enough.

Peace be with you this holiday season. You are always enough, whether you go to the party or choose to stay home.

Thanks, but no…

It’s Christmas time and the season of holiday parties. While we don’t have a “work Christmas party,” there are some groups who do parties this time of year. I’m thankful to be invited, but I’m likely not going. I just might not have thought of an excuse yet. I wrote about this last year also, but it bears repeating.

I’m a stereotypical introvert. I need time alone to recharge. I get flustered by people who demand an answer right now. And the thought of going to a party makes my stomach hurt. If you are not an introvert, this probably seems strange. “Just go, it will be fun.” Yeah, I’m sure people will have fun, but if I go, I’d likely fill awkward silence with a drink and that would quickly become out of hand. It is not the image I’d like to portray to my co-workers. When I was younger? Sure, I didn’t care. Also, I’m not good at small talk. If my husband is there, I’m fine – he does all of the talking and story telling. I smile and laugh at his jokes or roll my eyes, and I don’t have to say much.

For years, I thought there was something wrong with me. “Why don’t you come out for happy hour?” I just couldn’t. I’d rather be at home with my family or shopping by myself. It wasn’t until I read some articles on introverts that the lightbulb went off – I’m not so strange. I need to honor and respect that part of me instead of trying to be something I’m not. I have little patience for “fake” people, so why would I want to be one myself?

People have different reasons for not going to the party – maybe they have other things going on in their personal life that they haven’t shared yet. Perhaps they are dealing with loss or being alone. While it’s good to invite people, I think we need to respect their answer. We shouldn’t make them explain their why.

Going to events like this remind me of all of the ways I’m not enough. I realize it’s a self imposed thing – I’m not smiling enough, I’m not funny enough, I’m not social enough, I’m not pretty enough… this list goes through my head. I know I need to speak kinder to myself and I’m working on it. It takes time. My request is for the answer of “no, thanks” to be enough.

Peace be with you this holiday season. You are always enough, whether you go to the party or choose to stay home.