Introvert super powers…

I was wondering what to write about this week, then it hit me. BAM 💥. Well, not really… but I was talking with a friend of mine who is much more of an extrovert, and a lightbulb went off. She was talking about her husband, who is more of an introvert, and what his “introvert superpowers” were. What a great way to look at it! I’ve spent most of my life feeling like an introvert is a curse, but looking at it as being a super power?? That sounds way more fun.

Society tries to make introverts into extroverts, but it rarely goes the other way around. In the spirit of embracing these traits, I thought I’d share. So, here are some of my introvert super powers.

I am always observing and collecting data. Ok, this is true aside from when I’m grocery shopping. Then I literally won’t see you because I’m focused on my task. But normally, I’m taking it all in. I scan the room to see where to stand. I observe the safest place to sit. Do I know anyone? Who seems the most welcoming? Do we have anything in common? What do they think of me? Can I see/hear ok without being up front? Can I escape easily if I start coughing or need to get out? It’s one of the reasons that big crowds make introverts so drained. This and 1,000 other questions and scenarios and data gathering goes on at an event with a bunch of people.

I am a giver. If you’re in my circle, I will gift you things, send you things or offer to do things for you. It’s apparently my love language and it’s a way of sharing myself (my time and talent etc). I’ll send a note in the mail or send flowers or drop off some cookies. I don’t expect anything in return. How great is that??

I’m a good listener. Many introverts don’t lead the conversation. We listen. We are good at asking questions to make you talk about yourself. We (I) will interject a personal story to show connection & that we are listening. We are not trying to imply our story is more important. It’s our way of relating.

I’m sometimes better at writing than speaking, but it depends. If you get me talking about something I love, I’m very animated and not very introverted. I will sometimes over share and immediately regret it. I will replay our conversations in my head over and over. I will analyze what I should have said if I’m in person. If I’m writing, there is always the delete button. I love writing.

I’m not opposed to meeting new people, I just have a selective circle. Although I despise ice breakers, I will do them. Occasionally, I will meet someone I click with. I will usually think I’m not good enough to start with, so I can be a little needy (needing reassurance that I’m accepted.)

I have a wealth of knowledge regarding movie quotes. I’ve watched a lot of movies and can quote many of them. It’s a second language in my house. So if you need me for trivia, movies would be my category!

I’m an excellent planner. Aside from sandpaper or electronics, I love to plan trips, parties, weddings etc. I love the organization of it and trying to make it a memorable event. (This is me flipping the “bossy” or “anal” trait into something positive.)

How awesome would it be if we started embracing our differences? If we looked at our limitations as super powers instead of burdens? How empowering! I’m thankful for my friend who helped me see the positive, wether she knew it or not.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you find your super power – introvert or not.

Everybody sleeps…

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

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

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

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

No more math

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cat, dog, snowstorm & solstice…

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

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

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

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

Circus, hamster wheel and mind tornadoes…

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking isn’t bad …

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

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

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

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

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

Hanging in there…

This little green tree frog was chilling on the chokecherry bushes the other day. Cameron found him and he hopped onto my hand. I put him back in the bushes and I thought it was cute how his sticky hand was hanging onto the leaf. Ever feel like him? Just hanging on and trying to get by? Trying to blend in and keep cool? Yeah, me too.

The last several weeks have been a whirlwind at work. I feel like this little guy, just hanging on. Our garden is in full swing and the chokecherries just turned ripe. This week marks the start of the fall school season- athletic meetings, cross country practice, sales on school supplies and one last camp. Next week will be musical practice also. We don’t start school until after Labor Day but will have a cross country meet before then. A few last Farmers markets and we will be picking pumpkins before we know it.

If you’re just hanging on, good job – keep it up. It’s ok to rest in the shade if the leaves. Blending in can be a form of rest also. It allows you to just “be”… without as much effort or explaining. That’s totally fine. Look how happy this little frog is, blending in with the leaves. He’s less attractive to predators and he will probably find a snack or two.

We put so much value on being busy. I wish that wasn’t the case. As we start another school year, I’m reminded of how few there are left. Our youngest is in 10th grade already. I hope we can enjoy all the activities amidst the busy schedules. I’d better start getting ready for cross country spectating and become familiar with the “Chicago” musical songs.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Life is short- try the chokecherry jam!

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!!

How “prickly” are you?

If you know me personally or have read my blog before, you probably know (or have learned) of my personality. I’m an introvert, sometimes speak my mind too much and I’m not a big hugger. Some might call me aloof, or even prickly.

As I took a mental health break to pick some berries today, I started thinking about how similar I am to black raspberries. These delicious gems are sweet and firm (ok maybe they aren’t completely like me!) The thorns on the plants are NO JOKE! Not only do they have rose bush size thorns, they seem to want to stick to your clothes. What a defense mechanism! Protect the fruit and don’t let anyone or anything get too close. Sound familiar?

It’s easier to put up defenses than risk getting hurt. But, in doing so, we may hurt the people close to us. The people who just want to love us. The people who know me well don’t often think I’m an introvert because I will talk freely around them. (Sometimes WAY too much with hand gestures and facial expressions etc!) But many people don’t get to know that side of me. They just see the thorns and back away. Sometimes when I try to open up, I go too far and don’t stop talking. As I see their face indicating they’d rather be somewhere else, I regret the decision to let my guard down.

The thing about black raspberries that’s different from our other raspberries (aside from the thorns), is the way they reach out. These thorny plants will grow long canes that reach to the ground and root. The other raspberries spread new plants from roots beneath the ground. The black raspberries spread out above ground. They also quickly overtake an area. I feel like writing is my way to reach out “above ground” where anyone can see it. Even though I don’t have thousands of followers, that’s ok with me. It keeps me a little safer and less exposed to other people’s thorns. I’m sure you’ve noticed that people on the internet can be pretty cruel sometimes. I don’t recover well from those things. I’m learning about some ADHD traits and “rejection sensitivity” really struck a chord with me. That’s a post for another time but if basically means I have a hard time getting over rejection.

These long canes/branches will root into the ground to create new plants

So, if you have a prickly friend, be patient with them. The fruit of their friendship might be worth it! We can complain that the raspberries have thorns or be happy that the thorns have berries! I wish you peace on your journey of enough.

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.