Calm after the storm…

The Robin nest remains unharmed after the storm

We had quite the storm last weekend in the Alexandria, MN area. Tornado warnings resulted in one tornado and straight line winds. There are at least two power companies in the area and ours had 8,000 people without power Thursday evening. We’ve lost power temporarily before but it usually returns pretty quickly. This one was worse. Many power poles down, trees falling and substation damage made it a challenge to get back up and running. As social media began to show rumors of multiple day delays, we knew we had to get a plan going for fridge/freezer/sump pump. The heating and cooling would be ok since the temps were mild. Having a farmers market business means we have more fridges and freezers than the average person.

The tornado warning extended to midnight, so we slept in the basement and got the generator in the morning. Extension cords were run to the appliances while we quickly tried to combine the freezer contents. A spark on one freezer made us think we were probably at the limit. I spent the day swapping the cord between freezer and sump pump. I would not be working remotely Friday. A call to the power company indicated it would likely be Saturday before we had power. A friend borrowed us another generator so we wouldn’t have to swap back and forth. The basement stayed dry despite the constant water pouring into the sump hole.

We have hundreds of trees around us. It’s not an exaggeration. We live in a pine/evergreen forest. Winds in our area were 80-100 mph. We had 0 trees fall during the storm. Zero. The loss of the contents in my fridge were a drop in the bucket compared to the damage some homes and buildings sustained. Huge old trees tipped over like dominoes less than a mile from our farm. Our power returned early Friday evening. Almost 24 hours without power makes you realize how much you depend on it.

An amazing thing happened between Friday and Sunday. People came together to help each other out. Neighbors and strangers grabbed rakes, chainsaws and wood chippers to clean up the storm damage. A local Bible camp had 40-60 trees down. Zero trees fell on a cabin or building. Hundreds of volunteers showed up with rakes, wheelbarrows, chainsaws and work gloves. Our youngest son wanted to do something for the community so we made Krispie treats with evergreens on them. Many of the trees that fell were big evergreens. We worked for 3 hours at the camp and he had treats for the workers. He interviewed and took some video for his you tube channel “The Unspecified Show.”

All around the community, people shared resources and helped each other out. Sometimes tragedy brings out the best in people. I think there will be plenty of firewood and wood chips in our area this summer.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. We all experience storms in life. I hope your community rallies to help. And I hope there is still signs of new life to come, like our robin’s nest.

Snowballs on International Women’s Day

Tuesday is International Women’s Day and this Snowball reminds me of my mom. Not because she ate them all the time, but because I know she likes them, but they were a rare treat. Why didn’t she have them more often? Maybe because money was tight or because she would have rather have gotten a treat for the kids. Maybe she was just aware of the lack of nutrition value in them. I hope it wasn’t because she didn’t feel worthy of a treat. (Because she was and is – we all are!)

When I did a search on International Women’s Day, it says the first National Women’s Day was in 1909. I wonder if they thought we’d be in a different place 113 years later. I wonder where things will be 113 more years in the future. Hard to say. I can only hope that there will be more women leaders, that women will lift each other up instead of comparing or judging, they will wonder why there wasn’t equal pay way back then, and women will feel safe going for a jog alone or walking to the car at night.

On International Women’s Day, I’m helping to plan meals for a dear friend who is still hospitalized. (Something I should have done sooner but I didn’t want to be pushy.) She is in rehab still and even when she comes home, she has healing to do and strength to build back. Taking care of a few meals is the least I can do. They switched her to a gluten-free diet and it really helped her digestive issues. So we are pivoting for gluten-free ideas… freezer meals for a busy family. We have a cake place in our small mall – the company used to be at farmers markets with us so I want to support them. They have gluten-free cupcakes on their menu this weekend. We will bring one to our sweet friend (& hope her taste buds are doing well that day!) I’ll also make a gluten-free key lime pie since I know it’s a favorite of theirs.

This prompted a friend to say, “You have such a big heart.” People have said this to me before and I tend to dismiss it as no big deal. The thing is, this is not only my personality type, but also how I was brought up. My mom was and is, a very giving person. She would help out people at church, friends, neighbors, people she hardly knew. She’s not outgoing, she just has a giving heart. I grew up watching that. Then my oldest sister, who is a nurse, and nurturing by nature, modeled the same thing too. She is 9 years older than me so I was only 9 when she went off to college. While she was raising her own kids, I saw her doing the same thing our mom did – looking out for others. My other sister, a teacher, also nurturing, made sure to come to my track meets in high school to cheer me on. I was not a track star, but she made me feel special. She does so much for her grade school kids to make them feel extra special. I know she has the same giving heart too. I’m so thankful for them, and for all of the loving women in my life – aunts, cousins, friends & neighbors who helped to show me how to give to others.

Growing up with great female role models has shaped me into who I am. I don’t have a nurturing profession like my sisters. I’ve had to be firm and organized. I have worked mainly with men, and haven’t always been supported by my female coworkers. I’m not a perfect mom… I mess up, I lose my temper, I have regrets that I can’t undo… but hopefully I was/am the mom my boys need. Hopefully I’ve shown them that it’s ok to ask for help, and that it’s good to be able to help others.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I know it’s late on International Women’s Day, but maybe you’ll have a snowball tomorrow. Enjoy it!

One act, many hours…

Years ago, I was in speech and drama in high school. It was a small ND town (500 people), and we didn’t have musicals. We had a speech team, a one act play team and a 3 act play. I was trying to recall the plays that I was in… I couldn’t remember all of them. I know we did “Cheaper by the Dozen,” and “Flowers for Algergon.” I remember finding out I was an aunt for the first time during one of my play practices. I was also on the speech team, yet I don’t remember the details. I remember the hours of practice and the thousands of words memorized. I remember my coach/director’s voice, her “wild hair” and her very dramatic nature.

Most of all, I remember the feeling of accomplishment and pride, the friendships made and the laughs we had. I remember driving our teal ‘65 Ford Falcon to practice. No power steering or air conditioning – it didn’t matter. I don’t remember if the radio worked, but we’d roll down the windows and drive to the nearby town because our high school didn’t have a stage. We did speech practice before or after school. I wasn’t in the one act plays because it conflicted with a sport.

Our youngest son, as a freshman, got a part in the one act play this year. Hours of practice for 34 minutes of performance. While the rules for one act are different because it’s a competition, seeing them perform brought back memories. They won their subsection and advanced to section finals. In one week, they listened to feedback, made tweaks and improvements and memorized changes. I watched the performance with pride, knowing how hard they worked. As I sat in the theater, waiting for the results, I watch the teams interact and I smiled. They are amazing kids. All different backgrounds and talents coming together to tell a story. It brought me back to the feeling of being part of a cast. I couldn’t help think of how he might look back on this experience, 30 years later, with the same fondness I did.

Hours of practice, memorizing, weekends, after school, set building, costumes, make up, more practice, more memorizing… 34 minutes of performing for a life time of memories. The one act play has just one act (no break). They have 10 minutes to set up their set. All of their stuff has to fit in a certain size before they set it up. Their performance can have up to 20 students (actors, lights, stage crew etc), and must be less than 35 minutes. They are judged on their performance and given notes from the judges. When the results came in at Sections, they announced the second place team, and it wasn’t them. I grinned because I knew. I knew their name would be called next and the big plaque would be theirs. They advance to the State Performance. I was so happy for them and their director, who wrote the script herself.

I know theater isn’t for everyone, just like football or swimming might not be for everyone either. I’m happy he was able to be a part of this cast, share this experience, learn about theater and gain confidence in himself. When your child does something they love, they shine, and this mom’s eyes get a little misty. I’m proud of you, buddy… but more importantly, you should be proud of yourself. You are more than enough.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. If you’re in the St.Paul, MN area Thursday/Friday this week, take in the State One Act – you’ll be glad you got to watch these kids shine!

Foundation of trust….

It’s something I wasn’t fully prepared for – my kids growing up and becoming adults. Sure, it took us a while to have kids, so you’d think I would have had plenty of time to learn these things. I’m not sure anything can fully prepare you… because the journey is not fully up to you.

Your role changes. From an exhausted mom of a newborn to the first day of kindergarten… from their firsts to their lasts. It all zooms by and suddenly you have a young adult. You reach this stage and you’re not their event planner, their driver to practice or their cheerleader at events. You may cheer them on from a distance but it’s certainly not the same. They may ask for advice, but the decisions are now up to them. Hopefully you’re still a safe place, a feeling of home, a reminder of how much they are loved. It’s a foundation of trust.

Our oldest son moved 900 miles away – from MN to MT. He got his welding degree when he was still in high school, but decided he wanted to go to college to be an Ag Ed teacher. So, we supported his decision and his move. He loves the outdoors and the adventure, but school was a struggle. He realized that getting a degree, to wind up in debt and make less than he would as a welder was not the path for him. So, after one semester, he withdrew to weld full time. There was a lot of logistics and navigating that had to happen in order for all of this to fall into place. While it was my strong desire to fix and manage things, I let him lead. I helped where I could, but he did a good job.

I feel like a weight is lifted off of his shoulders, but perhaps another one was added. Will he stay in the same job or the same place? Who knows. I’m proud of him and love him. I read a parenting article where the mom felt like a college transfer was a failure on her part, and I thought, “Wow, that’s a heavy burden.” I do NOT feel like my son dropping out was a failure at all. I do not feel like it was a failure on his part nor mine. I’m super proud of him for not getting into very large debt that would take years to try and recover from. I’m proud of him for doing what he loves, for finding a place to live, and for learning to budget. I know he will continue to have changes and struggles, opportunities and victories. I’ll be cheering him along every step of the way, even though we are miles apart.

There is a lot of pressure to have your life figured out at 18/19 years old. I wish there wasn’t. I wish we had more grace with these kids and they had more with themselves. I wish they could look in the mirror and see how great they are. I wish they would all know they have a place in this world. I wish they would have a foundation of trust for themselves and be trusted by others.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Trust in yourself and your path. You are here for a reason!

Trust…

Florida in January

My friend said she was having some serious trust issues. She was having a hard time imagining 80 degree temperature difference. She was going to be traveling to Florida from Minnesota, in January. Packing for a trip when temp is 6 degrees below zero, trusting it will be above zero (let alone 75) when she gets off a plane 3 hours later was a challenge. She wanted to pack her flannel and fuzzy socks, but was trying to trust the weather in Florida being much warmer. As I went to visit my chickens today, I found myself wondering why I live where it’s so cold. I’m sure I’d be tempted to pack some flannel too!

How often do we struggle to trust beyond our current reality? Do you trust the change you’re going through will have a better result? Are you able to see the vision/goal, or is it difficult to imagine? How challenging is it to have faith in the unknown?

If we really think about it, we are trusting every day. We trust our vehicles to safely get us to our destination. We trust our kids to be good in school. Employers trust employees to do their jobs. But there is more to trust than the physical stuff. That gut feeling. You know the one? Something just “feels” like it might be wrong or it feels like we should take a certain path. Do you trust your gut? Doing so means you have to pay more attention to what’s going on instead of running on auto pilot. Trusting your gut is an intentional pause. It’s recognizing the feeling and following it. Practice it for a while and see how reliable it is… you may be pleasantly surprised.

Five months ago was one of the biggest tests of trust for me. I drove my oldest son to Montana, trusting he would do ok on his own. I trusted him to make decisions he had never made before. I trusted that he would eat a vegetable now and then, do his own laundry and manage his money. Some things went better than others. But I also had to trust myself – trust that I (we) gave him a good foundation to get started. I had to trust that the mistakes he did make would be ones he learned from. Sometimes the struggle makes you appreciate the good times, but as a parent, it’s difficult to see your kids struggle. When you love them and want the best for them, it’s hard to trust that it will all work out. But then it does, and you realize it will be ok.

Whether you’re deciding if you should pack shorts for your trip, what your next career path should be or if you should schedule the dentist appointment, just trust. If it doesn’t go the way you thought, maybe there is something better planned.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. We only get one life at a time… live your best one. Pack sunscreen instead of mittens and you’ll be ok. (Unless you’re visiting Mn, then the mittens are a must!)

The Windy City…

I was born and raised in North Dakota. If you live there, you know how flat the Red River Valley is. It’s not a valley with mountains or even hills along side… it’s flat as a pancake with very few trees. When the wind blows, there isn’t much to stop it. When we lived there, our patio faced north, which is where the wind comes from 90% of the time in the winter. It would be 10-20 degrees cooler by the patio door when it was storming.

Five years ago, we moved to Minnesota, and I sometimes forget about the ND wind. We have trees and hills to slow down the wind. People here don’t know the dread of an “east/west road” in the winter (when the wind blows from the north, the east and west roads are the worst because the snow accumulates.) Growing up, I remember hearing about Chicago being “The Windy City.” I thought they must not be able to stand the winters if it’s more windy than ND. But Chicago’s nickname didn’t come from actual wind. The name came from politics.

In 1893, Charles A. Dana, an editor of the “New York Sun,” published an editorial calling Chicago a “windy city.” He did so in reference to the city’s full-of-hot air politicians who were advocating and wooing organizers to hold the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in the city instead of in New York.Aug 8, 2020.

I skipped last week’s post because we were in “The Windy City.” Our youngest son is a fan of The Office TV show. Even though it’s been years since it first aired, he has watched the reruns and has seen it very show (more than once). I stumbled across some info about The Office Experience opening in Chicago and thought it would make a great Christmas gift. So I planned our road trip to Chicago, starting it off with The Office Experience. It was a hit. We all enjoyed seeing the TV props, sitting at their desks, winding our way through the trivia, pictures and set replicas.

We toured the aquarium, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science & Industry, saw the Blue Man Group, went to the top of the Willis Tower at night and to the top of John Hancock building in the morning. We saw “the bean” at night and the reflection of the city was amazing. We did a lot of walking and took several Uber rides (those were interesting!) We had sleet & snow one day and ended up soaked after our walk. We had some great food and stayed on The Miracle Mile. I also forgot our Norwex masks so we had to use what we had in the car & I only had 2 Norwex, so Cam got to wear the floral. I also forgot my tennis shoes, so I walked 10+ miles a day in my snow boots. We had to alter our plans a couple of times, but it all worked out. The Chicago City pass is a great savings, but the art museum isn’t open every day and the Conservatory has a capacity limit. The pass also lets you into addition exhibits or movies at most venues. We skipped the “stand on plexiglass and see the city below you.” We were out of town before New Years Eve festivities began.

This was probably our first trip without Dallas. He was working over the holiday break so he didn’t join us in the Windy City. Life is short, we’re taking the trip. My trip planning used to include spreadsheets and binders of info (ask my uncle!!) Now, I do most of the planning on my phone, use hotel apps and Google to find info, and I’m a little more flexible than before.

I wish your peace on your journey of enough. I know not everyone was able to be with family over the holidays or perhaps it was just different from years past. May the spirit of Christmas be with you year round.

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.

What did you say?

I was at a loss. What do I write about this week? Last week, my post got more views and comments than I’ve had in a while. Which is awesome, but sad because of the topic and so many others feeling overwhelmed and alone. Also, it makes me question myself, wondering “will my words this week be enough?”

So I went back to a suggestion from a cousin of mine about listening. In response to a post about using your voice, she suggested writing something about the value of listening. I thought this was good and probably relevant to my previous post.

Silence often makes us uncomfortable. If there is a pause in the conversation, people tend to want to fill it with words… any kind of words. Sometimes when someone is talking, the other person is only thinking about what they will say next. They may be trying to come up with the perfect solution, “one up” the person talking, or even thinking of how to change the conversation topic. It happens a lot – people will get interrupted by being talked over. It makes them feel like their view or story is not important.

Remember the telephone game when you were a kid? This is how I remember it: A row of people would be lined up. At one end, a teacher whispered a sentence. That person whispered it to the next, they relayed to the next… and so on, until it came to the last person. They said the sentence out loud and it was completely different from what it started as. The point was to show how gossip and rumors change as the story gets passed to different people. Was everyone really listening or did they just hear what they wanted to hear? Or was their mind racing with what they could add? I think if you tried it now, kids might try to bend the story on purpose, but who knows?

In some of the groups I’m in, they talk about holding space for someone. I feel like it’s the ultimate expression of listening and compassion. Holding space means listening without trying to fix. Acknowledging the person and their story, but not talking over it or trying to change it. It also means you’re not playing “the telephone game” and telling everyone else. Instead, you’re praying for or with them, asking for things to work out for their highest good. You’re giving them a space to be themselves, feel their feelings, and be heard. (Just don’t absorb their story, it’s not yours to hold onto.)

Want to talk to someone who will listen and won’t interrupt you? Talk to a higher power – God, Mother Nature or the universe, whatever you connect with. Or, talk with a loved one who has passed. It’s an amazing feeling when you can sense their spirit with you. They may have shed their earthly body, but their spirit is still alive. It’s something we forget about, but it can be helpful and healing… and most of the time they don’t talk back.

I remember growing up in a small town in ND. Our Lutheran Church had a thing called “Junior Lutherans.” I’m not sure what the point of it was, it was different from Sunday School. I remember two older ladies who had either never married or were widows, would lead us in songs. One of them was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” I can still hear their shaking voices and picture their small stature and blue-grey hair. I think I could recite the songs still, but if you’re not familiar, here are the words:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer! 2Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer. 3Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

We all need to feel seen and heard, even if we don’t like the attention. We also need to be able to listen. Really listen. I hope you’re able to have someone who really listens, and to be the same for someone else. And, know that you can always take it to the Lord in prayer. He’s not too busy and he doesn’t have a cell phone to distract him.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you really listen to someone this week. Also, listen to nature and the changing seasons upon us. The leaves crunching beneath our feet will soon be covered with a blanket of snow. There is peace in the stillness.

Bear with me…

5:40pm on Tuesday, I went out my front door and to the mailbox at the end of our driveway. I thought I might take a walk, but decided against it (thank goodness). I went to the back and let the chickens out to free range a bit. I figured there were some extra worms and bugs in the trees for them. They love to scratch in the leaves. I grabbed two containers to pick raspberries in the garden. I was almost done picking the beautiful fall berries (& getting eaten by mosquitoes), when my phone rang. My husband and son were in town and getting ready to go to a movie. “There is a bear in the yard,” he said very matter of fact-ly. “Not funny,” I said. “No, really, there is a bear in the front yard, it’s walking by the pine trees. The neighbor just called and told me.” Again, I said, “Seriously, this is not funny. I’m in the garden and the chickens are out.”

My heart started racing as I walked quickly past the pumpkins and closed the garden gate. I kept my husband on the phone. As I walked past the shed, I could see my chickens. They were still out, but a little frozen in place. They were quiet. I walked quickly towards the coop, whispering for them to go inside. When I looked up and to the left, there was the bear. “Oh my goodness (& some other words), the bear is right there. What do I do?!,” I whisper/yelled to Cameron. Just as I spoke, the bear ran the other direction. It had been less 50 yards away from me. I quickly got the chickens into the coop and shut the door.

The neighbor came over to make sure I was ok and that the bear was gone. It appeared to be just one. We’ve had skunks, raccoons, fox, mink, badgers, pocket gophers and now bear. (Apparently a mountain lion also but I never saw it). I checked on the cat, luckily he was in the garage because I hadn’t let him out after supper. He was sitting on his ledge, probably watching this whole ordeal. He kind of looked at me like “Nope, I don’t do bears. I’ll protect you from mice or birds, maybe a fox or deer… but bears?! You’re on your own!”

I called our oldest son in Montana and told him the story. He said to call the DNR or the state park since we live right across from state park land. I called and left a message with the state park. I texted my “holy cow” story to some friends and family, let Cam know I was ok, then I called my parents. I went back through the Nest camera footage to find a pretty good view of the bear coming through the front yard. We joke about me being a mama bear, but I didn’t think I would get that close. 6:13, the bear lumbered through our front yard. Ironically, it went right past a wooden bear totem in our trees… something that was here when we moved in.

“Bears are more scared of you than you are of them?” Um, I’m not so sure about that. I have no idea if it was a mom or a two year old – IT WAS A BEAR, that’s really all that mattered to me. I’m sure it would have been more interested in my raspberries than my chickens but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.

This is Greta. Greta is glad the bear is gone.

Regardless of its meaning, I’m glad it’s gone… for now. Tomorrow, my lunch break will be spent removing all bird feeders (even though they were empty), cleaning up the chicken treats and making sure we don’t have anything else appealing to bears. I obviously cannot remove the berries, but they are behind a fence, so maybe that will deter it a little. That’s enough excitement for one night! This week, I have my mammogram and I’m going to a retreat. I’m sure I will have some time to think about the bear and what it represents.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Hopefully there are no more bears with me, just peace instead.

Someone must have…

Last weekend, we moved our son 853 miles west to Montana State University in Bozeman. We packed up 2 (pretty full) vehicles and got there on Friday afternoon. He took care of a few things on campus & we went out for supper. Move in day (Saturday for us) was scheduled in 2 hour time blocks. It went pretty well. Since it’s been 29 years since I moved to college, I wasn’t sure how things would go. We unloaded the vehicles and hauled some of the gear up the 3 flights of stairs, used the laundry carts and other carts into the elevators for the big stuff. Thankful for a cool, breezy day, we didn’t have to start the fans right away. The open window was enough to keep us from sweating.

The room is pretty small and has seen a better day. I’m thankful he is in an actual room and not a temporary arrangement like some students. We set up the loft, put down some carpet & started putting things away. He took care of his clothes and soon realized he probably brought too much. (Fewer $2 laundry loads I guess?!) He happens to be right across from the bathroom. My husband went in there and snapped a pic of the bulletin board. “Please do not wash your bike in the shower.” Not even making that up… it’s a laminated poster…. because someone must have done it before. I will always remember one of the rules from my college handbook I found amazing was “do not loft a water bed”… because someone must have. Can you imagine the mess that must have made??

Somewhere there is a notebook or a list of “things to add to the rule book” because someone must have tried it. It made a mess, created a hazard or resulted in damage. 29 years ago, I started out in a 2 room suite with a shared bathroom at the University of North Dakota. My 2nd year, I had a single room in the freshman/women’s dorm because I was a resident assistant. I thought I’d be an RA for the room and board discount. I also thought I might want to go into counseling field… until I was an RA. That changed my field pretty quickly. I was a Physical Therapy major with a Theater minor, thought of switch to psychology or counseling, ended up with a Mass Communication major and a Sociology minor, working in manufacturing. My point is… not everyone knows what they want to do. Granted, there are some people who just know what they want to do. I was not one of them.

4,000 freshman arrived on campus last weekend. Some flew, others drove… some had u-haul trucks, others had a couple of bags… some are local, others traveled long distances… some had family and friends along, others were alone. One thing will unite these 4,000 young adults – they are now all Bobcat Freshman. Will someone do something silly that will end up as a new rule for future freshman? Maybe. I hope my son is not one of them.

I fully thought I was prepared for him to go, then I wasn’t, then I was. I’m pretty sure everyone thought I’d be a mess and would be sobbing on the way home, but I wasn’t. A few tears shed when I wrote him a letter & put it in a favorite childhood book… a few tears when I hugged him goodbye. We didn’t have a fun “last week together,” or special meals before he left. Several circumstances prevented that. We didn’t acknowledge the last meal we’d share around our dinner table or how empty his room would be. So maybe I’m in denial… or maybe I’m just happy for him and proud of how far he’s come. I will miss our end of the day conversations and even waiting up for him to come home. I know things won’t be the same, but 1 day into this, I don’t know yet what it will look like. As my mentor said, “You’ve spent a year preparing for this, sharing your feelings and surrounding yourself with people who support you. You’ve created more new things aside from your kids. It’s ok to just be happy.”

So, to him and all the freshman, in the advice of my husband, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Don’t be the someone who must have washed their bike in the shower, or other crazy things. Have lots of fun, learn new things, meet new people & find your independence. Advocate for yourself and also be open to new opportunities. And call your parents every now and then, they probably miss you.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. We got this, we will get through it, and we will learn something about ourselves along the way.