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.

I’d rather be “a little much…”

Color within the lines… follow the rules… don’t make waves… sit and listen… From the time our children are babies, we can’t wait for them to talk. Then they turn 2 and we wish there was a volume control. They may go through teen years where they rarely speak at all to us,but can talk to their friends non stop. They get ready to go to college and we wish we could talk to them in person.

As we get ready to send our oldest son to MSU Bozeman, I thought it would be fun to have their school colors (blue and gold) as my nail color. “It’s a little much, mom,” he said, after I excitedly asked what my son thought of my new (self done) manicure. It got me thinking about how many times I was a little much in my life… and how often I played it safe. The “little much” stories are lots more fun, although most people would say I tend to play it safe.

This past weekend, our youngest son and his buddy were in a bowling tournament. They started bowling last year, and something just clicked. They were both hooked. Soon they began learning the bowling terminology, talking about different types of bowling balls, shoes and lane oil patterns. They bowled with masks and had to take a break when the bowling alley shut down for a while. They signed up for the hometown/Midwest tournament and practiced a few times a week. Some days their scores would be low because they were trying out new things. 265 bowlers signed up for the tournament. The first day, he didn’t want to wear his new bowling shirt because he didn’t want to “look too professional.” So he wore his lucky bowling shirt, which is a Christmas/Dunder Mifflin shirt. He had a great day and got his highest score. He advanced to the semifinals in 2nd place. First place was the buddy he bowls with!

Day 2 (not planning on this being a multi day event), he decided to wear his new bowling shirt. He stood out, he was a little much. It was awesome. Even the announcers commented on how awesome his shirt was.

They both bowled well, and he ended up in 3rd place. His buddy was first. In bowling tournaments, the kids win scholarship money. Since we are navigating college expenses with his brother, having a head start on scholarships is a wonderful thing! I was proud of them for how well they did, but also how polite they were and how much fun they had. He went up to the organizers, thanked them and said he had a great time. I did not prompt this, he did it on his own.

The awesome thing about his shirt and my nails is that we each love them. It didn’t really matter what anyone else thought. It was fun and made us happy. Win/win. Sometimes you’ll find JOY outside of the lines. We will be packing and driving almost 900 miles one way. At least it will be below 70 instead of 95!

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. I hope you’ll take a chance and do something you wouldn’t normally do.

Spending time…

“Time is money…” “Spending time…” “Wasting time.” Somewhere along the way, we began to equate time and money. Maybe it’s because we’re paid by the hour? Or maybe we realize how valuable time really is?

“Days of Our Lives” is still a soap opera and it must have enough followers to continue to produce shows. Although I haven’t watched it in many years, I’m sure some of the same characters are still there. I could probably pick it up and be able to follow along despite a 20 year break. “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” Who would have known a TV show opening lines would have so much meaning? Time slipping away like grains of sand in the hourglass. I can picture the grains as events… moments… good or bad, happy or sad, all slowly moving to the other side. We don’t know how many we have. Each person’s is different.

Only God knows how many days we have. Some hourglasses are small and some are large. For many years, I couldn’t picture myself growing old. It worried me. “Did this mean I would die young?” I wondered if it was a premonition. It bothered me that I couldn’t envision a 95 year old me. That was probably around the same time I thought 47 seemed super old though. I’m not sure. Now I find it fun to think about the what if’s. Twenty five years ago, I didn’t imagine my life today. Marriage (grain of sand), two sons (grains of sand), 3 main jobs (grains of sand), 4 different houses (grains of sand), published author, cottage food baker… it wasn’t all on my list. How have I spent my time? Did I wisely use my grains of sand? Either way, I don’t get them back.

Tonight I spent some time with our youngest son, who is learning to drive. I spent time with him at the bowling alley. I spent some time with the cat. I spent some time talking to our oldest son, as he prepares to move to Montana next week. I spent some time making supper and dessert (spent time=saved money). Spending time seems like it has a positive spin. We also waste time too. Sometimes the wasted time adds grains of regret or guilt. These too, we cannot get back.

The passage of time has been on my heart a lot lately. Not only because of our son moving away, but seeing my great nieces and nephews change, seeing my parents age, seeing my grey hairs become more plentiful… all reminders of the passage of time. It can seem so fast and so slow all at once. I know there are some moms who will be missing their kids and others who can’t wait for summer break to be over. It’s ok. It’s ok to not have the answers. It’s ok to feel “all the feels.” It’s ok to spend your time however you want. Your journey is yours. Embrace it.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. (And if you want to spend some of your time reading a good book, I still have some for sale! )

Drop the hiking pack…

I took this picture after dropping my son off at school. What a beautiful sunrise. (I added the words to make it more “artsy”) But, it got me thinking – how many days do we drag yesterday with us instead of starting over. Have you seen the movie “50 First dates?” Adam Sandler falls in love with Drew Barrymore, but she has short term memory loss. She forgets yesterday & starts over each day. I wouldn’t want to forget yesterday, but maybe I don’t need to hold onto it so much. You’ve heard people say they have “emotional baggage.” To me, that brings up a powerful mental image. The heavy baggage of yesterday that we carry around…We dwell on it. We let it define us. We let it hold us down & keep us from moving forward.

Have you ever pictured it? Have you pictured getting rid of it? Have you seen yourself lifting it off your shoulders like one of those giant hiking backpacks? Give it a try. Picture yourself taking off that burden. Release that fear, that anger, that guilt, that doubt. You don’t need to carry it with you. It does not need to define you. It may have shaped who you are, but it doesn’t need to weigh you down and keep you from discovering something new about yourself.

You might not want to get rid of your big hiking pack. I get it, it’s comfortable & safe. It feels like something you’re supposed to have on, to carry around and to keep you from running too far or trying something too crazy. Ok, so what if you took baby steps & took a few things out of your pack to start with? Maybe you’re not ready to kick it down the street just yet. What if you wrote down something from that backpack & then tossed it away? We did this at a retreat & it was a powerful experience. Toss it. Got rid of it. Throw it in the fire or into the garbage. You don’t need it anymore. You don’t need it to define you. Fill yourself up with some laughs. Let that laughter take the spot of whatever you took out of that pack. See how much lighter the laughter is? It’s bound to make you smile too.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. I wish you peace that you will find from the release of your baggage. Fill it up with enough love to keep you warm, enough laughter to keep you light & enough hope to keep you moving forward.

Have a friend who thinks you are enough…

Change is hard. It’s scary. It’s also not impossible. It’s been 6 months since we moved … half of a calendar year has gone by in a new state, new city, new schools, new jobs, new churches, new Dr’s. We are still adjusting but we are also doing fine. More people were worried about my kids than my husband and I. “It must be hard to move at that age.” “I can’t believe you changed schools during the school year.” You get the idea – I must have ruined their lives. Only, I didn’t.

Kids are way more resilient than we give them credit for. Yes, we moved our kids. But we also love and support them, we feed and clothe them and take them places. They aren’t abused, neglected, dealing with alcoholic parents or wondering where their next meal will come from. Many of their classmates are. We just don’t see or talk about it as much. Kids are also more easy going (sometimes). They may be more open to learning about “the new kid.” The boys still miss their friends deeply, but they are also making new friends. Much easier than the adults are. Making new friends as an adult is harder, in my opinion.

I don’t have anything to compare it to. We moved to Kindred when I was 1. I graduated from high school in the same town. I even moved back for a period of time. I didn’t have much change of scenery. I wasn’t forced to adapt. That’s not a bad thing – it was comfortable and secure. It was safe.

Making friends as an adult is hard for me. I’ve become even more introverted than before. I fear rejection & judgement. It’s scary and doesn’t feel safe. I am admittedly hard to know. I have a small circle of close friends, but those are ones that I would do anything for. I am very thankful for them. I became friends with Jessie when we were neighbors. I offered some baby clothes to my pregnant neighbor, and somehow we clicked. Similar values, love to bake, both introverted. We would go on walks around our neighborhood & talk for hours. We’d lose track of time while we put on miles. We’d have monthly group suppers (with enough food to feed many) Then she moved. Just 15 miles, but it was so hard. Would we stay friends? Would we still see each other? I mourned the loss of my best friend & walking partner…The person who didn’t care if my house was messy or not. She accepted me for me. The real me was enough for her. Fast forward many years…We stayed friends and are still close, even though I’m farther away. It just takes more planning to get together in person. She knows that if she texts me at 11:30pm, that I’m sleeping but I will reply to her at 6am when I get up. Our kids have grown up together and act more like cousins or brothers and sisters than just friends.

Friendship are hard, but they are possible. I may meet some new people, but I will always cherish the friends in my circle. I know people who are making some big life moves, and the thought of leaving their friends is hard. My advice is this: “you will make time for what/whom is important to you.” Peace be with you on your journey and may you always has a friend who believes you are enough. (Because you ARE!)

Peace, signs & perspective…

Sometimes, days go by like the movie “Groundhog Day.” Other times, you get repeated messages or signs over and over and over. Today was one of those days. Everything seemed to be sending messages of letting go, of releasing anxiety and of finding peace.

Maybe it’s because it is the start of a new month. Maybe it’s because today is the first day of Lent. Maybe it’s just because I’m paying attention. Sometimes I feel conceited for thinking that God takes the time to send signs to little old me. And then I realize that He sends signs to all of us. If we are too busy or aren’t listening, he keeps trying. The God of the universe tries to make sure we have what we need.

We closed on our houses this week – the sale of our old house and the purchase of a new home. It’s the start of a new chapter and a new adventure… Anxiety, letting go & finding peace. We went to Lent service tonight and were reminded that God finds us when we are lost. It talked about leaving home and Jesus venturing away from what was familiar and safe and going out into the wilderness. My 14 year old leaned over and said, “it’s kind of like they are talking about us.” There was an artist there who painted during the service. In less than an hour, he created a masterpiece. It was related to the Bible story about the man who stored up his weath, but for what? He was so proud of his earthly wealth but what good did that do when he was gone? A reminder that it’s not about “things.”

Then, our bedtime reading of “Jesus Calling for kids” by Sarah Young also talked about peace and anxiety. We should hand over what we need to God & thank him.

You, Lord, give true peace. You give peace to those who depend on you. You give peace to those who trust you. Isaiah 26:3

The perspective comes from those who have lost people close to them recently. Some died too soon, some unexpectedly, but all created a void. We cannot live on earth forever, but we aren’t always ready to leave. We heard a story tonight of a 43 year old man who died suddenly of a heart attack. 43. My age. Perspective.

So, here is my wish for you –  may you have peace or learn ask for it. May you see the signs that are being sent for you. May you understand that God’s timing isn’t the same as ours. May you have the perspective you need to appreciate the good in your life. Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

Roller coasters, mess & hopes for the future…

Our pastor on Sunday talked about letting God meet us in our “mess.” We often show the best side, and fail to be real with each other. If you ever want to know how real I am, drop by on a random Tuesday and my house will likely make you feel better. (It’s not spotless!) Anyway, here is me – letting you in on my mess. What a roller coaster. The last few weeks have had us up and down and down and up again. When we decided to move to Alexandria, homes in our neighborhood were selling very quickly. We wrongly assumed ours would sell quickly also and we’d be able to move forward. But then it was the election and Thanksgiving and Christmas and not much happened. We thought we had it sold twice, but those fell through. Then last week we put it back on the market, ready to start over. Thankfully, the market has picked up, and 3 showings and 2 offers later, we can finally put a SOLD sign out front. Our ND realtors did a great job in making it all come together. Our MN realtor did a great job in calming the sellers here (of the home we want to buy.) By the end of February, we should be ready to really move forward.

We are thrilled there is a young family who will be loving our home as much as we did. It was neat to hear my boys talk about how much the kids will love the playground and yard… how they will think the park is neat… all the ways that the new kids will love to grow up in the house that was their home. There is so many things I hope for them…

I hope they get to carve pumpkins on the kitchen table in the breakfast nook. I hope they have cookie sprinkles on the floor and Nerf gun darts stuck to their dishwasher. I hope their kids “farm” the new carpet. I hope they open their home to the neighborhood kids & not worry if it’s clean or not. I hope they have S’mores in the fire pit and teach their kids to garden. I hope they ride bike or go for walks “around the loop.” I hope they get tons of trick or treaters. Mostly, I hope they make the house into their home – with memories that their kids will cherish also.

Sometimes our journey of enough takes is on a roller coaster instead of a nice smooth path. God has a plan for each of us. Sometimes it’s hard to see and it’s usually hard to wait, but it will come. Peace be with you on your journey. And remember, the roller coasters make us appreciate the smooth paths!

Onto the next adventure…

Friday was my last day at work. It was a bittersweet week filled with lunches and stories and “lasts.” The last meetings, the last time I’ll visit with some people and the last time I will be a planner for this company. As we pack up our house of  12 years, I’m often reminded of the “firsts.” My boys had their “firsts” in this house. First steps for Myles, first teeth lost for both boys, first garden they remember, first crushes and heartbreaks, kindergarten and school programs. We moved here when Dallas was 1 1/2. It’s the only home they’ve known. They rode their first bikes here, carved all of their pumpkins here & done all of their homework here. They’ve had friends play,(but not as many as they should have had because I was too worried about my messy house.) I’ve rocked them in the living room and dried their tears in bed. It’s the only house they’ve ever known and I’m taking them from it. It makes me feel crappy and selfish, but I know it’s a move we need to make. For reasons that I cannot explain to them, we need to move. Onto a new adventure.

While a house is just a building, a home is wherever your family is. I hope they understand that someday. I hope they forgive me for taking them (all of them) from their friends and their routine and their “normal” into something all new. I hope they see it as an adventure, an opportunity for a new start. I hope they learn that the people you want to stay in touch with are the ones you always will. Your true friends will be able to see you anytime & pick up right where you left off. I never moved around as a kid. I was also 1 when my parents moved to Kindred but I was married and on my own when they moved off the farm. People who have moved around as kids reassure me that they will do fine. They will make new friends and stay in touch with the ones important to them. I’m not sure how to explain that on Monday, their last day of school. I’m guessing there will be big tears. Kind of like the ones I have now as I write this. I will dry their tears and hug them and let them know that my arms are their true home.

We are entering a whole new chapter of enough. Is our house good enough for someone to buy? Will they fit in enough at their new school? Will I fit in enough at my new job? I have to trust that the answer is yes. I have to trust that we’ve been led in this direction for a reason. I can’t wait to see what that is and how it unfolds. In the meantime, I’m sure there will be fishing and skiing when we aren’t unpacking and finding a farm to call ours.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough, and please say a prayer for a good transition for my family. It’s not “good bye,” it’s “see you later.”