Busy beaver…

I couldn’t resist the pun. My job has taken me to Cumberland, WI this week and the school mascot is a beaver. Kind of fitting for the busy week it has been so far. We had a big system upgrade and the teams of people who have been working for years on this project have come together for the “go live” event.

This trip was different for me in a couple of ways. I haven’t spent much time away from my family in the last 2 years. I haven’t spent 10-12 hours/day in a conference room with 15 other people in quite a while either. I miss the family. I could do without a conference room full of people for a while.

What have I learned this week? 1) I overestimated the amount of time I’d have to read. 2) Not all Holiday Inn Express hotels have scrambled eggs. Some have sour coffee, but sugar free cocoa (I don’t understand). 3) I like routines. 4) Not everyone thinks about food all day. 5) I am thankful for my home office. 6) We could use a Kwik Trip near our place at home. 7) My mind wanders in 1,000 directions and by the end of the day, I’m exhausted. 8) It’s ok to leave for lunch at 11, especially if your blood sugar is low. Nobody cares. If they do, they don’t say anything. They’re probably jealous you took initiative and they’re waiting until 1pm to eat.

I didn’t find myself in Wisconsin. I wasn’t lost. I did learn some more about myself and I feel much better when I can take a pause. I’ll let the beavers be busy while I recharge. Back at it again tomorrow, but looking forward to the weekend. Now if you’ll excuse me, Redwood Bend is calling my name, and 5:40 am will come soon enough.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Stay busy but know when to pause. You’re worth it!!

Just go with it…

My favorite gentleman at the Minion movie

It’s been five years since a Minions movie came out in the theaters. When the Minions were at their peak, they were Myles’ favorite. “Minion Myles.” He had Valentine’s boxes in the shape of Minions. We had more than one birthday party with Minion themes. There were Minion backpack, pajamas, shirts, slippers and toys. The first Minion movie came out in 2010. He was 4. He grew up with these little yellow dudes.

In the fall of 2015, we went to California. Part of our trip was to Universal Studios. Minions everywhere!!! Minion rides, Minion characters, Minion stores, Minion foods and a carnival similar to one of the movies. Both boys played carnival games. Myles won & we thought his prize was a small stuffed toy. Nope, it was a giant Bob Minion. It was almost as large as him. He won this in the morning, so Cam got to carry it around all day. It has stayed with us all these years. Today Bob made an appearance at the Minion new movie.

There are trends on social media of teens dressing in suits to attend the movie. Some media outlets have covered it, tried to explain it and failed. “You just can’t explain it mom, just go with it.” So I did. Of course he had the suit already. Just needed the Bob Minion to ride along in the car and pose by the marquee.

The movie was cute. There were references to the previous movies and to other popular movies etc. It was a fun night. Pretty soon we won’t be going to movies together. Only three years of high school remain, and I’m guessing I won’t be his choice for movie date. That’s ok, it’s part of growing up. For now, I am happy to share the time together.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Even if you don’t fully understand the reason behind it, sometimes you just have to go with it. You might have some fun along the way!

Minion Valentine’s Day box

Who is steering your ship?

A recent trip to Disneyland meant lots of walking, lots of rides, lots of sun and lots of water! Of course there was some shopping & pin trading thrown in. We also got to celebrate our niece’s 21st birthday and our youngest son’s 16th.

The movie, “Inside Out,” is a Disney movie about all of the emotions in the character’s head. Each has their own role, but Joy is the leader. They have a “command center” type set up. Joy zooms around, trying to keep the happy thoughts driving, but sometimes Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear take over. Joy tries to calm Anger, reassure Fear, cheer up Sadness and please Disgust. She occasionally looks exhausted trying to keep everyone happy. Who is steering your ship?

This photo is of me, standing by the “Disgust” character near the ride called “Emotional Whirlwind,” which we did not ride. For many years, Disgust would have been the one steering for me. I was usually annoyed and didn’t have much of a filter. I don’t have a poker face, I have a resting b*tch face – before it was actually a phrase. I’d like to think I’m different. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not Joy all the time, but I’d like to think she steers more often in the last few years. Sadness had her turn and Fear still reluctantly takes the wheel now and then. But Joy is the one coordinating things.

One thing I like from the movie is the idea of core memories. These are memories that shape who we are and how we feel about ourselves, our lives and our environment. We often talk in our family about the trips we went on when the boys were little – they don’t always remember the specifics, but to me, the trips are a core memory. They invoke a feeling of adventure and love. Maybe that’s not the case for them, but I hope so. There are many pictures and photo books of those trips though, so that sometimes helps jog a memory.

I also like the rainbow unicorn from the movie. She is magical and sassy. While she isn’t an emotion, she is an imaginary friend. She goes with the girl on adventures and inspires her imagination. If the unicorn could drive the ship, I think she would try! She would be the one to encourage a coloring book or an ice cream cone.

There is a lot going on in the world now. It can seem overwhelming. Who is steering your ship? Are you letting Anger take the wheel? Is Fear stepping into the drivers seat? They can all take turns, but if Joy isn’t the leader, the road can seem dark. I’ve written about it before but I need the reminder myself. What sparks your JOY? What makes you smile or laugh or feel loved & alive? Make some time to do that thing, have that experience or be with the person who lights you up.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. I wish you enough Joy to make you smile and so much that it pours out into others too. Not in a “toxic positivity” way, but in a real, honest quest for JOY. Let her steer for a bit.

A day disconnected…

Last weekend, we took a trip out west to see our oldest son. Since neither of us love driving long distances, we broke it up into 2 sections – part way Thursday after work, and the balance on Friday. Thanks to hotel internet and vehicle WiFi, I was able to get quite a bit of work done. We arrived Friday and got to see his house. It’s a nice place for college kids, in a good neighborhood. It’s nice to be able to picture where he is when we are talking.

Saturday we made our way to Yellowstone National Park. We saw some elk, antelope, maybe a bear & lots of bison. The last time we were there, it was winter – so it was great to see everything lush and green. They’ve had more rain than normal, so the rivers were flowing rapidly and the grass was getting long. While Dallas and Cameron fished, Myles and I checked out the geysers and hot springs. We had little to no internet or cell service – it was perfect (except for trying to contact the fishermen who had wandered up stream). A day to disconnect and reconnect with nature. Despite someone getting thrown in the air by a bison recently, people still walked way too close to them to get a photo. Their heads are large & strong and they can run 35 mph. “Do not pet the fluffy cows!” And this time of year, there were a bunch of bison calves, so the moms were extra protective.

Yellowstone bison (taken from the vehicle)

I could have sat by a stream and listened to the water all day. The hot springs were steamy and warm, but it was still chilly the day we visited the park. We just missed Old Faithful by 10 minutes, the next time it would erupt would be an hour and a half, and it started raining. So we saw some of the surrounding areas and started to make our way out of the park. A long line of traffic was stopped due to another bison traffic jam.

Dallas
Cameron
Myles
Me

I’m thankful for a safe trip and a nice visit. I learned that because of being diabetic, I need to be intentional while traveling. We were all tired and I actually had a sunburn (didn’t think about it because it was chilly and cloudy). I’m thankful for a day disconnected and time with family. My message is to slow down. Take some time to breathe deeply. Stand in nature, sit in the grass, listen to the birds and rivers. It’s easy to get caught up in our “to do” lists & forget to take time to disconnect.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Where will you go to disconnect? Some time away, (even if it isn’t far) is good for your soul.

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!