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!

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!

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.