Everybody sleeps…

My cat was happy to be a “sleep model.” It’s something he excels at. Growing up in the 70’s/80’s, Sesame Street was frequently on after school. I can still remember the song, “Everybody Sleeps.” I feel like it was supposed to encourage kids by letting them know that sleep was good and normal and everyone had to sleep, even animals.

About a week ago, I started feeling crummy (fever, sore throat & cough.) I could hardly get out of bed. I slept all of the next day, was weak and had no appetite. Assuming it was influenza, but wanting to be sure, my husband took me to the clinic. A lovely nose swab later, I learned I had Covid. This is the first time I’ve had it throughout the pandemic (that I’m aware of.) I was pretty miserable for a few days, then mainly tired with lingering cough. For some reason, the “Everybody Sleeps” song went through my head a lot. Maybe it was a way of telling myself it was OK to rest. I kind of felt like a caterpillar in a messy cocoon. The days blurred together amidst dreams and thoughts. Most of this week I’ve been moving in slow motion. I’m feeling much better now and I’m glad to have more energy.

The illness forced me to ask for help, to say no to things I wanted to do, and to just rest. Everybody sleeps, but everybody gets sick or has struggles too. Sometimes we forget there are more things that we have in common than things that divide us. If you’re going through a caterpillar time, allow yourself some rest. It’s ok to pause. I only wish I slept as soundly as my cat.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

No more math

This is the year I turn 50. Don’t bake a cake yet, it’s not until November. This is also the year I won’t have to do math to figure out how old I am. Not that my age comes up a lot, but if I’m filling out a form and it asks for my age, I always have to do the math. Not this year! I’m 49 until the end of November and then I’m 50.

I remember when 50 seemed “old.” I’m not sure what I thought I’d be doing at 50. Six year old me would have been a vet or worked at a zoo by now. Sixteen year old me would be an artist. Nineteen year old me would be a physical therapist who acts in a local theater. Twenty five year old me just wanted to be a mom more than anything. I don’t have a fancy job, have a big title or own a big business (I don’t think our farm counts). I am a loving wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend with a bunch of random dreams and a job that supports our family.

If you’ve followed along, or know me in person, you know I’m a list maker, a planner. I often have spreadsheets for planning work and personal things. Yes, there was a spreadsheet for our recent trip to Houston. Mainly because the plan changed and my memory isn’t as good. I wanted to make sure we saw and did the things I had looked into with some extra time for “random things.” I’ve been thinking of making a “to do” list for my 50th year. I probably won’t do a big party. It’s not my thing and quite frankly, I think only a handful of people would show up and that would bum me out. So, I think I’m going to set my intentions for this year. I’m going to make this my luckiest year yet.

Some people don’t celebrate birthdays. I’d be willing to bet, if you asked most cancer survivors, they would say they do. Another trip around the sun is nothing to take for granted. Not everyone is given the opportunity to be here 50 years. I’m thankful.

I’m a little scared about listing them because of fear of failure. What if I don’t do the things? In the spirit of stepping outside my comfort zone, I’ll share a few. Not to brag, but to dream out loud and welcome these great things into my life. (In no particular order):

  • I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii. This year will be the year I make it happen. (Feel free to send me tips on this, keeping in mind a budget for 4.)
  • I’m going to dust off my treadmill and at least walk most days. When it’s not snowy or the air doesn’t hurt my face, I’ll walk outside.
  • I will spent time in nature daily. Yes, the chickens are included with this!
  • I will create again by sewing or painting. I will continue writing and will expand my reach. I will get paid for my writing.
  • I will declutter, starting with my closet. I’ll keep only the things that make me feel great (either they are comfy or make me feel pretty.)
  • I am welcoming financial abundance this year. I can’t wait to see what this year will bring.
  • My A1C (diabetes) will be within normal range. I will reach my goal weight.

I’m sure there will be more to add. It’s not really a “New Year’s resolution,” it feels bigger than that. And more impactful… like a stretch goal I actually want to do. I understand the concept of stretch goals at work, but it always made me feel like, “your goal isn’t good enough, so list this crazy stretch goal that you’re unlikely to achieve so we can set you up for failure.”

I’m going to make a calendar reminder to look back at this post the end of December & see how the year went. I know it will be filled with wedding events for my niece, many birthdays and trips and a lot of changes. Good things are in store. Dream big, friends.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Cheers to a year with less birthday math!

RSD…

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I’m just speaking from my own experience)

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) isn’t a medical diagnosis, but a symptom associated with ADHD. I wouldn’t have ever found out about it, but I’ve researched more about ADHD since our oldest son’s diagnosis. I knew ADHD probably applied to my husband, but I didn’t think it applied to me until I learned about RSD. Once I read about it, a lightbulb went off and I felt understood.

Perhaps I wasn’t crazy every time I “overreacted” to rejection. I vividly remember being rejected by friends in high school. I cried and felt like an utter failure when I got a bad review for teaching a class. I panicked, fearing I’d be fired after I failed a test for a professional certification. When a friend stopped talking to me, I was convinced I had done something wrong. I often don’t start a task because I’m afraid of not doing it perfectly. It’s also probably one of the reasons I avoid crowds because I don’t want to feel rejected. Each week when I write, I worry about it not being good enough. Hence my journey of enough.

Web MD describes it as follows:

“Dysphoria” comes from a Greek word that means “hard to bear.” People who have RSD don’t handle rejection well. They get very upset if they think someone has shunned or criticized them, even if that’s not the case. Up to 99% of teens and adults with ADHD are more sensitive than usual to rejection. And nearly 1 in 3 say it’s the hardest part of living with ADHD. People who have the condition sometimes work hard to make everyone like and admire them. Or they might stop trying and stay out of any situation where they might get hurt. This social withdrawal can look like social phobia, which is a serious fear of being embarrassed in public.

Telling someone with depression to cheer up does not work. Telling someone with anxiety to calm down doesn’t work. Telling someone with RSD to get over it doesn’t work either. I don’t know much about it yet and I have not been formally diagnosed. I just know that it resonated with me so much. The feelings seem more intense for me than it does for most people. For me, awareness is a good step. Now it’s just to determine the next step. (Keep in mind that sharing this is pretty vulnerable & opening myself up for rejection)

I’m wishing you peace on your journey of enough. May 2023 be all you hoped for.

Cat, dog, snowstorm & solstice…

Not being able to plan is difficult for this planner. The pic is of my cat on his “cattop,” which is a regular laptop size and lightly heated cat laptop. He loves it. He is not a fan of the dog though. Our oldest son (& his dog) drove home from MT early to get ahead of the winter storm. It is supposed to hit almost all of the upper Midwest Wednesday through Saturday. The cat is used to being the only pet aside from the chickens. He has had to adjust his routine. Plans had to change… work adjustments made for our son, flights changed for other family members, and meal changes (we are probably not grilling in a blizzard).

This time of year can be wonderful, but it can also be stressful. We try to plan a wonderful, magical Christmas & holiday break. We rush trying to find the right gift, plan a great meal or make everyone’s favorite treat. This year, on the winter solstice, we have winter storm warnings, blizzard warnings & wind chill warnings. Estimated 5-10” of snow, 30-50 mph winds and -30 to -45 wind chills add another layer of holiday stress. We are having remote school on Thursday. My nephews have a large number of cattle and are trying to keep them all fed, warm and alive. They had three feet of snow last week. We could make a list of issues or struggles, but this year we are especially thankful for family.

When asked what I wanted for Christmas, I said I wanted experiences instead of things. I want to spend time with family, I want to travel safely and make memories. I want to frost sugar cookies and play Bunco. I want to share holiday treats to spread joy (& also so I eat fewer goodies.) I want to take some deep breaths and smile.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough this holiday season. May your time be filled with family, friends and food. Safe travels for those traveling. Wishing peace to those missing loved ones this year too. I’m likely taking next week off from writing as I soak up some family time and cheesy holiday movies. Happy Holidays!

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.

Circus, hamster wheel and mind tornadoes…

I recently learned that not everyone has a dialogue going constantly in their head. Not everyone has overlapping stories, memories, to-do lists, replays of conversations, future conversations, “what ifs” & “could have dones.” I wonder what that’s like. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, empath or have undiagnosed ADHD… but it’s a circus up in my head. It’s like if you took the movie Inside Out and had them all taking at once. Even when I try to meditate, my grocery list pops in my head, or the thing I should have/or shouldn’t have said either yesterday or 30 years ago. Pause. Breathe. Relax. Let go.

I think it’s one of the reasons why I rarely see people while shopping. If I’m at the grocery store, I’m doing a mental scan of my kitchen. What did I forget? Do we have enough cream soup? Did I remember the apples? Is there enough yogurt for lunch? On top of the other stuff that races through, it’s especially “busy” while shopping. I’m less present to what’s going on around me. I don’t see the people around me, so I often don’t even know that someone I know is in the same store. When my husband does the shopping, he gets what is on the list and that’s it. He doesn’t wonder if we have enough of this or that. He doesn’t think of what meals we will have this week, what’s in the fridge and what we need for the freezer. I love him dearly, but he just doesn’t think that way. He gets what’s on the list and he leaves.

I’m sure you’ve seen articles before on how “many women are exhausted.” Those of us with this mental gymnastics competition are even more exhausted. We want nothing more than to turn our brain down, hit a pause button or have someone else take care of some of these things. Yet we probably stink at asking! Several of us are addicted to social media because we try to zone out and slow the hamster wheel in our heads. We say we are “fine” when people ask how we are doing, but many of us are hanging on by a thread. We don’t want to complain, seem needy or weak, so we keep it to ourselves.

If you’re like me, I encourage you to write it down. Whether or not you read it again isn’t really the point, (unless it’s a grocery list then maybe make a separate list.) I need to do more of this – writing it down to stop it from spinning around in my head. If I write it down with pen on a paper, my mind breathes a little sigh of relief, “Oh, ok. I don’t have to keep that thought spinning up here and try to remember.” Several of these things we don’t really need to remember anyway. Maybe if we (and myself included) start this practice (back) up in December, we can have a more peaceful holiday.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May your mind tornado be slowed to a gentle breeze, and may you find peace this holiday season. Oh, and if you see me, but I seem oblivious, go ahead and say “hi,” I’d love to visit, I was just thinking about peanut butter.

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.

Fairy Rings…

According to Google, a “fairy ring” is as follows: A fairy ring is a common name for a group of redwood trees growing in a circle, usually around the stump of a logged old-growth tree. After being cut down, a new generation of trees sprout from the roots of the fallen redwood, often creating a near-perfect circle or ring.

Obviously there are not a lot of redwoods in MN. I’m in CA visiting one of my sisters. I didn’t know I’d see her twice in the last couple of months (in ND) when I booked my trip. Normally we only get to see each other twice a year. I have zero regrets. I had a free ticket that I had received for donating to the Healing Odyssey Women’s cancer survivor retreat. I had actually forgotten about it, and when I realized that I had it, travel needed to be completed by November 1. Yikes. It all worked out and the trip has been great.

Since I work remotely, I can work remotely remote – as long as I have internet & don’t miss my meetings, I’m good. Since it is two hours time difference, I need to get up early but I’m done by 3pm or so, which works out well. I’m able to take a walk at lunch time to a nearby Target store which has a Starbucks. She has a Mane Coon cat who is enjoying having some daytime company. Sunday we went up to San Francisco to a musical and a walk along the pier. It was a great performance, fun to spend time with my sister and niece, and we had fabulous fish for supper!

Monday after work, we went to the redwood forest. Walking amongst the giant redwoods was amazing. It was so still and peaceful, not a breeze or a noise other than the rippling of the small creek or the occasional hiker. These trees are so giant and so old. It’s amazing to walk in their presence and think of how many hundreds of years they have been growing. One of the trees that had fallen was dated back 2,000 years. We stood inside and under them, walked through the paths and enjoyed the smell. My sister explained the fairy rings and we stood inside several – gazing up in amazement.

Traveling refreshes me. I love to see new things and experience new places. Yes, I’m a “homebody,” but traveling ignites something special. And, I think I could eat crab cakes and clam chowder several days a week, if not daily. I think there is a quote about going into the trees to find yourself. I couldn’t find the specific quote, but I highly recommend this, if you’re able. Being in nature is so refreshing and grounding to me. And, apparently the fairy rings have some magic of their own. Check out the green light in these photos!

(My shirt is not sparking green, it’s grey)
Green sparkles above my sister too!

Wishing you peace on your journey of enough. May you find time to be in nature, to travel or to spend time with those you love.

H.O.P.E. ; Pause, but let your story continue

H.O.P.E. = Hold On Pain Ends. Mental health awareness is something that needs to get more attention. We have talked more about mental health than we did in the past, but there is room for more awareness & acceptance. We now have a “World Mental Health Day,” which is a great step forward. Four years ago, a friend of ours lost a son to suicide. He was the same age as our oldest son. They started an organization called Robbie’s Hope to help stop the epidemic of suicide by reaching teens and their families. They have teen ambassadors who help raise awareness in their communities and wrote a handbook for parents. Visit http://www.robbies-hope.com to learn more about their mission.

A long time family friend shared this story with me. It’s written by a pastor from Trinity Evangelical Lutheran church in Watertown, MN: Mark Twain said, “There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibly. Inside of the dullest exterior, there is a drama, a comedy and tragedy.” At out annual outdoor service during “rails to trails” weekend in July 2018, I shared the above quote by Mark Twain that spoke to the fact that everybody has a story. It might seem obvious, and yet we so often forget this simple fact when we see people on the street, at work, at the store, or even at church. We forget that they might have just had a birth in their family, and so they’re celebrating. We forget that they might have just had a death in their family, and so they’re grieving. We forget that they might have just lost a job, or found a job, or moved to a new house, or received important news in an email, a text, or a letter. It might not seem like a big deal, but when we forget that everybody has a story, we begin to see them simply as “objects” that are inanimate rather than “subjects” that are full of life. You know, people. With feelings. And goals. And hopes. And dreams. And they are worthy of our attention, and our support and our prayers. And this means you, too. Maybe you feel like you, yourself, don’t have much of a story, or have much to say, or have much to offer. But it’s not true. You do have a story. You do have something to say. You do have a lot to offer. Someone once said, “To the world, you might be just one person. But to one person, you just might be the world.” Yes, that means you. Whether you realize it or not, you have so much to offer… so let your light shine! Pastor Engholm

I’ve written about this before but we all need a good reminder. It’s OK to not be OK. It’s ok to have a bad day, a sad or stressful time or to need a pause. We need to put aside the “just toughen up” mentality and acknowledge the real feelings… validate the stories…. let someone feel seen and heard. Take a pause, but please let your story continue. You never know the impact you have on other people. Don’t assume people are ok either. Robbie was a smiling kid with loving parents. He helped other kids through struggles but didn’t reach out about his own. If you are struggling, please dial 988, or 911 if you are in a crisis.

I’m forever thankful that my son had a pause, but his story continues. Please hold on. Reach out. You are loved. Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

Breaking isn’t bad …

How often do you tell the same story? Either out loud or in your head… “I’m so____.” We repeat our woes or claim to be unable to break the cycle. But we can break the cycle. We can end the story and start a new one. We can be better than what broke us. We can choose compassion, acceptance & understanding.

I recently shared a story about how we apologize for our messy houses. The author encouraged us to break the cycle- to be the generation that doesn’t apologize for being normal. It’s not that we don’t try, but things are hectic… we may have little kids or teens running to different events & meetings or doing homework. Sometimes anxiety or depression keeps us from doing household chores. Apparently, it’s also related to ADHD to be bothered by clutter but not able to take action to clean it up.

If you’re struggling with your kitchen table being full of papers, mail, random water bottles or sunglasses, I see you… I am you. The kitchen table mess didn’t break me, but it sure has made me apologize a time or two. “Heal instead of becoming bitter.”

“Be the person you needed when you were hurting.” I think that’s where a lot of my advice from my cancer recovery comes from. I wish I would have had someone to ____. Instead of dwelling on the hurt, break the cycle. I choose acceptance. I choose inclusion. I choose grace. I choose understanding.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you find joy in creating your new chapter.