Steps to success…

I’ve been making an effort to move more on a daily basis. Tuesday, after several hours (6) of meetings, I took a lunch break walk down to the river. I love listening to the water bubble and churn over the rocks. This time I walked across the street to the spot we used to put our tubes into the river. It was a slippery slope before and that’s not a metaphor- it was an actual slippery slope. Sometimes you’d fall into the water before you got your tube ready. I was pleasantly surprised to see stairs where the slope used to be. Stairs. How wonderful! It will make the access to the water so much nicer. It will be safer for people trying to get in, just a few short weeks from now. The water is clear and cool right now. It’s flowing quickly with the extra moisture from snow and rain & the melting lake.

I missed posting Tuesday because of work and other activities. Plus, I had a dietitian meeting on Wednesday and something told me that it would tie into my post. We met for an hour. We talked about my diet and weight loss, what my goals were and what questions I had. I told her I have tracked food before but I dislike it because I become obsessed with it. So as she looked through my color coded spreadsheet, we talked about control and maybe letting go of the need to be perfect. I freaked out because my blood sugar (once) got over 190. 180 is my goal for a max level, but one time at 190 isn’t going to do serious damage. I’ve been almost completely avoiding bread/grains/carbs but just because I check my blood sugar, that doesn’t mean I know what else is going on inside. Not having a balanced diet may mean that I’m lower in other nutrients than I should be. I also need to be able to do something sustainable. I’m “only” 48. In theory, I have a lot of years ahead of me.

The more she talked, the more I realized that I probably do overdo the tracking and monitoring. For me, it was my way to deal with the changes, cope with adjustment and yes, control my numbers. You see, I’d prefer the steps to the water instead of the slope. I like the path to be clear of debris and reduce the risk of falling. Having stairs increases the chances of a successful launch. Control… perfection…success. Sometimes they feel as heavy as those rocks along the side of the river. Time to take some pressure off and find a happy medium. My pendulum tends to swing to the extreme sometimes. I tend to be a people pleaser, but I forget about one person… me.

I’m learning what I can tolerate. I’m learning what works best for me, because everyone is different. I’m learning to have grace, experiment and try some new things. My journey is not what I had expected. It’s not what I had planned. I’m a planner by nature and as a profession. Having things not go according to plan is frustrating to me. I’ll get there. My path to success may have changed from a slope to a set of stairs… I just need to set down the rocks so I don’t trip down the stairs.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Thanks for joining me in my journey. Even though it’s taking a different path, I’m determined to make it a good one!

Judging a book…

“Don’t judge a book by the cover.” You’ve likely heard the saying before. Usually it applies to people – don’t judge the outside of the person when you don’t know what they’re really like. If I’m honest, sometimes I find myself judging anyway, even though I try not to. One example is marathons or running events. I would find myself making an assumption about someone based on what gear they were wearing, who they were with and where they were in the pack. I was almost always wrong. Expensive gear doesn’t make you faster. Age doesn’t make a difference in many cases. Maybe I was being more curious than judgmental. Curious about their training, their story, what brought them to this place, what their drive and determination… yes, that sounds more like curiosity instead of judgement. (If you haven’t seen Ted Lasso, it’s worth watching)

Actually judging a book by the cover is a different thing. What draws you to pick up a book? Is it the cover? The title? The pictures? The author? Was it a movie or show you saw? Is it the subject matter? So many possibilities. I was honored to be part of a compilation book last year. When the cover came out, I was a little taken aback. Judgement. What would people think? Would they be drawn to the deer lady? Would they buy the book as a favor to me? Would my friends and family read more than just my chapter? My own judgement became my self sabotage. I was reluctant to promote the book. Reluctant to get it into local bookstores. The cover doesn’t match the insides. The inside is filled with wonderful stories from beautiful women. It just didn’t match up for me.

This is our book cover.
This is the title of my chapter and the feeling I had while writing.

Maybe it’s because I often feel so different than what my outward appearance shows. Maybe it’s the words that trip me up. Rituals don’t have to be evil or bad. “Actions performed according to a prescribed order.” Many people have a morning or evening ritual – a way of doing things that either helps them get their day started or help them wind down.

I helped out at a Spirit expo last weekend. Over 600 people came to the event. Many walked past our booth. Few picked up my book. Zero book sales. Sure, I was disappointed, but I had a great experience on a rainy day. I will continue my journey and try to keep adding more joy. Joy in ways I hadn’t thought of or haven’t practiced frequently enough.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. And if you’d like a book, I still have a few (wink wink). I’ll ship it to you and even include a recipe.

April showers…

From “false spring” to “third winter” to “April showers,” the weather in MN lately has been nuts. It’s messing with my mental health. When the sun is shining, it’s so much easier to be in a good mood. I have a window in my office and it’s nice and bright. When the weather is gloomy, my mood tends to follow. Lately it has rained or snowed most days. We didn’t get the three feet of snow or the ice storms that North Dakota received recently, so I’m thankful for that. They did need the moisture, but it was quite a mess. The one day it was close to 70 here, it rained and was windy.

I tried to do some stretches while at my stand up desk today in an effort to sit less. My vertigo has improved from the physical therapy, so that’s wonderful. Since I’m working from home, I don’t get many steps in per day. It’s one of the things I’m working on. Recently diagnosed diabetic, I need to get some more activity in each day. It will probably help my mood also. It just gets difficult to get any to go outside to walk when it’s so chilly. I’m a “fair weather walker.” It’s supposed to rain again Friday and Saturday so I’m not sure if that means April is going out like a lion or like a lamb.

This Saturday, I’ll be helping out at an Expo in Fargo, ND. It’s the first time I’ve helped my friend and mentor with one of her shows. I’ll have my books there for sale also. (Ramada Inn -Fargo 10-5) It will be outside of my comfort zone but I’m very excited. I’m going up the night before and staying over. Some long overdue self care is in order! Although I’ll be missing the Sandy’s donuts as originally planned, but it will still be good. I’ve had a lot of changes in the last year, and I am looking forward to a brief pause. We often neglect ourselves or forget to take care of our wellbeing. Too busy looking out for others, our own needs take a back burner. We wait for someday or think of maybe later. It’s easy for time to slip by and nothing has changed.

The past three weeks have made me focus on myself. I’ve had to be more intentional about what I eat, when I eat and how much water I’m getting. I’m tracking food, blood sugar, weight and activity. I was in auto pilot for too long. This can be a good change.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. You’re worth it! I am too!

I thought I was in a movie…

I finally made it and didn’t slip on my way in! March in MN is always a wild card. I’ve been putting off a work trip due to COVID and the weather – we’ve had so much snow this year. It had been nicer lately, so I thought I’d squeak in a visit to Wisconsin in between track events and bowling. I picked wrong. It’s been a strange day.

I had an upset stomach today, but I figured I was just worried about traveling. I haven’t met the people at this facility yet, and I haven’t traveled for work in quite a while. I made it to the north side of the Twin Cities by supper time. I stopped to eat and my corporate card didn’t work… is it a sign? It started to rain as I climbed in the van to make it the rest of the way to WI. I asked for driving angels to surround and protect me, to get me safely to my hotel before 9:30. I’ve never been to Rice Lake, WI. I didn’t know where I was going, but Google maps was narrating my directions. I was alone. Now it was dark and rainy. The white lines of the road were faded and worn, barely visible on a good day, but they were invisible because of the rain. An occasional burst of lightning would light up the sky. Otherwise the trees, the rain and the dark road made it feel like I was driving in a tunnel. I like to be able to see where I’m going. Then a jolt of a pothole threw my phone from the cup holder to the passenger side floor. I waited to see if I could still hear Siri from there. I kept the radio low and I could hear, so I didn’t stop. The rain turned to sleet as the temps dropped from 42 to 36 to 32 to 30.

Roundabouts, navigating in the dark, the sleet, the thunder and lightning, the canopy of trees…. I felt like I was in a movie set. I could almost hear the Dateline voice narrating my story, “She was on her way to Wisconsin, but had some trouble. And then what happened?!” I kept praying for safe travels, specific requests to arrive safely, stay on the road etc. I drove through the town I’m visiting towards my hotel. Road construction. Really? Luckily it was short. The map took me through residential areas, making me wonder if I had typed in the wrong address. Ice was building up on the windows. The wipers struggled to keep up with the sleet. Then I finally saw the hotel. What a relief. The parking lot was full. I drove around to find a place to park and the sky opened up. Cold sleet came down in sheets. I had to get my bags and make it into the hotel without slipping.

I did “the penguin shuffle” all the way in. I had my winter coat along just in case, so I had a hood and wasn’t completely drenched. I was cold and wet when I arrived but I chuckled to myself as I walked in. “I wonder what tomorrow will bring??” Being a writer (for me) means I always have a story going in my head… or I wonder what things of life would be interesting to share. Do we really write our own stories? Do we pick these lives or do we shape them as we go? Either way, I’m going to take a warm shower and set the intention of safe travels tomorrow and a wonderful visit. I hope the trip home is mundane and safe. I will be leaving before dark for sure, but at least I know my way home.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. If I’m going to be in a movie, I’d prefer a rom-com instead of a scary mystery!

PS- I arrived exactly at 9:30. Thanks, angels!

Bicycle built for two…

Sometimes I need reminding, but we typically celebrate the anniversary of our proposal. I’m thankful to have a partner who is good about remembering (less thankful that he gives me a bad time when I forget.) 27 years ago, it was a rainy spring day, much like today. We had less snow compared to today. It was similarly gloomy and chilly. He had been working overnight shift and the morning show at the radio station. I was still in college and working at Red Lobster. He wanted to go for a bike ride. We often went for rides around Fargo/Moorhead, up to 20 miles or so at a time. I was crabby about it because I didn’t want to get wet and it was cold. We lived in the same apartment building. I had a basement studio and he was in the first floor.

I’m sure I grumbled something about going but I reluctantly got into some warm gear for biking in the rain. He opened the garage door, and there was a tandem bike. At first I was a little mad because we didn’t have the money for a bike. There was no person hiding to film the proposal. No Instagram post, no Snapchat story… just him and me in a crummy garage with no photo proof. He talked about being on separate paths and how he wanted to be on the journey together with me. (Hence the tandem bike) He pulled a ring box out of the bike bag and got down in one knee. Obviously, I said “yes.”

He had borrowed the bike and needed to return it. We weren’t going to ride in the rain. He told me to go in and call family/friends while he returned the bike, then we were going out for supper. There weren’t cell phones for texting or taking pictures and I couldn’t even reach everyone I wanted to tell. I changed clothes and met him downstairs. There was a limo with champagne waiting for us. He drove out to my parents’ house to share a toast with them. They already knew, since he had asked them before he asked me. Then we drove back to Fargo and ate supper at TGI Fridays, the same place we went on our first date. They used to have really good broccoli cheese soup and really thin onion rings. I’m sure I stared at the ring and probably told everyone I could.

I know I’ve told the story before, but I like to be reminded of how special and romantic it was. It’s one of those “core memories,” something that changes the course of your life. I knew him through 4-H. We didn’t start dating until after my freshman year. I balance out his “crazy,” and he makes sure I laugh more instead of being so serious. We have lots of inside jokes. We talk in movie quotes way too often. We spent 7 years together before we had kids. We traveled, did goofy stuff and had fun. We also went through hardships. In just three more years, our nest will be empty. Maybe we will get a tandem after all. (P.S. we did eventually try a tandem and it was not easy!)

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I’d say yes again, I hope he would too!

Golden Rule…

I know when they talk about “the golden rule” they are not referring to a yellow or golden ruler. Instead, it’s referring to a Bible verse:

Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Treat others how you would want to be treated. That’s the golden rule. Sometimes we get too self centered, or maybe it’s because we don’t always talk kindly of ourselves – either way, we forget the golden rule. Wish someone would ask you about your day? Try asking someone about theirs. Wish people spoke more kindly? Try being intentional about speaking kindly yourself. The summary of the verse: “Be kind.” Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I’m fully aware of the golden rule, but I don’t always follow it. I’m not perfect. I do know that when I’m more caring and considerate to others, I feel better myself. Giving makes me happy, but sometimes I forget to fill my own cup. We cannot pour from an empty cup. It isn’t selfish to fill your own cup. Sometimes we forget how. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of every day life, we forget what fills us up.

This past weekend, I spent 2 1/2 hours cutting up chicken (not my own birds!)… and that filled me up. What a strange thing, right? Two friends came up and we made a bunch of freezer meals for our friend. We decided since we had a big mess already, we’d make some for our own freezers too. And, cutting up chicken filled my cup. Not only will it provide meals for my friend’s family as she continues to heal, it will provide meals for my other friends and their families, as well as my own. We had recipes and assembly stations, freezer bags and bags/coolers of food. Coming from a manufacturing background, we had raw materials (chicken, beef, veggies, seasoning etc), semi finished goods (freezer meals ready to go), finished goods (key lime pie) and work instructions (recipes). We worked well together but we were exhausted at the end!

The golden rule. What did I appreciate when I was having treatment or recovering from surgery? Not having to worry about what/how to feed my family. So, I did for my friend what I was thankful was done for me. It doesn’t have to be a marathon food prep weekend – it can be a postcard, a call, a smile, a hug… do unto others. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you find what fills your cup so you can share that with others. Your act of kindness will be enough.

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!

March coming in like a … squirrel?

I think the March “In like a lion out like a lamb,” or “In like a lamb, out like a lion” is a little more accurate than the Groundhog day predictions. In the upper Midwest, there is almost always 6 more weeks of winter from early February (so Phil doesn’t know what he’s talking about). March weather tends to be a wildcard around ND/MN. We can have blizzards, sleet, rain, sun, clouds… all of the weather options tend to show up in March. The first day of March in central MN was sunny and near 30. “Lamb” type weather.

I think the whole month of March is probably going to be more like this black squirrel in my back yard. Erratic. He zoomed across the snow bank and went part way up the tree. Either he saw me and the black cat watching him or he decided he was going to find a hidden stash somewhere else. Maybe he smelled the scent of the 12 deer who have been living in our yard… I’m not sure. He zoomed off and we didn’t see him the rest of the day. My cat made a huff noise (like he was upset that he wasn’t squirrel chasing today,) and went back to finish his nap.

We may joke about feeing like a dog wanting to chase a squirrel, but my brain really does feel like that most days. I probably need to be tested for ADHD, but I’m not sure what that would change for me. I’ve been trying to do a mediation right away before I get out of bed – to ground me. I’m not sure if it’s made a difference in the spinning but it at least gives me twelve minutes of calm before I start my day. The rest of my day, my mind zips between work & what activities our son has & what’s for supper & what I need to add to the grocery list & what bills are due & work & the fact that I haven’t worked out & I should drink more water & when did I clean the cat box last & did I talk to our other son yet today & what can I do to support him & is my gas tank full & I should write a card to this person & work & I should really put away the laundry & what day is it & how much longer do I have to get my tax info together & what will we plant this summer in the garden & when will I paint the office & what’s the best direction to have my desk & I haven’t gotten up from my chair in a while & why do I feel guilty moving around just because I work from home & should I get rid of most of my clothes because I only wear sweats & I should text this person or call that person. Squirrel. Squirrel. Squirrel.

I could go on but you get the idea. I hear there are people who aren’t like this. I assumed it was normal. Some days I’d like a pause button for my racing mind. Someone suggested treating the passing thoughts like something you should put on a bookshelf. I’d need a giant book shelf. See, I started off talking about the weather and now here we are talking about squirrels and zooming thoughts. I have no advice. I’m not a therapist or an expert. I’m just a lady telling you you’re not alone. I probably won’t fix myself anytime soon. I will probably stay on my hamster wheel for a bit longer. But one day… one day I will step off of it and just stop. I’ll stand in the stillness and take a big breath then a step forward. Until then, I’ll dream of my somedays and my what ifs. I’ll make plans for the summer and I won’t put away my snow shovel until the end of May.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May your March be more like a lamb and less like a lion or a squirrel!

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!