Nostalgia, like a warm hug…

I skipped writing last week. Sorry if you were looking for it. I’ve still been struggling with some things. Here I am this week though, ready to go. By the time I post this, I will be traveling to Montana. I’m so excited to go back to Bozeman for Thanksgiving. I’m also thankful for a friend willing to check on the chickens and cat, thankful I remembered to hold the mail and thankful for a Nest camera to keep an eye on things at home.

As I was in Target on Sunday, I walked by the hats and gloves and had to do a double take. This hat instantly reminded me of my grandma and the crochet turtles she made for all of the grandkids. Now this same pattern is in a hat and a headband. It isn’t the olive green, gold and autumn orange colors, but it’s the same pattern. She made pillow turtles for all of us. It was a backrest for Saturday morning cartoons or a pretend horse, depending on the day.

The old is new again. I’ve seen it many times. “Mom jeans” becoming cool again. The acid washed jeans, folded & rolled ankle … I’m waiting for the stirrup pants to return too. (Although I don’t think I’d jump on that trend) I’m not sure why the style trends rotate back around. Some of these are likely nostalgic – maybe a designer also had a “Grandma U” and they wanted to remember her.

Why do these things make us smile, make us feel comforted, like a warm hug? It reminds us of a happy time or of a loved one who has passed. As we approach the holidays, food often triggers a memory also. I remember my grandma B’s gingersnaps, not much larger than a half dollar coin. I remember my uncle playing guitar and my one cousin with a Christmas birthday. I remember finding my grandmas Siamese cat hiding from the visitors. I remember my grandma U’s “Christmas dessert.” I remember the house filled with laughter and games. I remember decorating sugar cookies in our farm house kitchen, a tradition that I’ve continued with my kids. I remember the molasses spritz cookies, still requested this year. Our Angel tree topper was made by my grandma. Some things make us smile and other times we might scratch our heads.

While I may not jump on board the acid washed jeans trend, some of these old things becoming new brings a sense of comfort. I’m instantly transported to those memorable events. I may not remember what I received as gifts each year, but I will remember the laughs, games and food of the holidays.

Wherever your holidays take you, I hope you’re able to have a hug of nostalgia. I hope you’re able to pause and think of all you have to be thankful for. May peace be with you on your journey of enough. I’m thankful for all of you who take the time to read and/or share my posts.

What did you say?

I was at a loss. What do I write about this week? Last week, my post got more views and comments than I’ve had in a while. Which is awesome, but sad because of the topic and so many others feeling overwhelmed and alone. Also, it makes me question myself, wondering “will my words this week be enough?”

So I went back to a suggestion from a cousin of mine about listening. In response to a post about using your voice, she suggested writing something about the value of listening. I thought this was good and probably relevant to my previous post.

Silence often makes us uncomfortable. If there is a pause in the conversation, people tend to want to fill it with words… any kind of words. Sometimes when someone is talking, the other person is only thinking about what they will say next. They may be trying to come up with the perfect solution, “one up” the person talking, or even thinking of how to change the conversation topic. It happens a lot – people will get interrupted by being talked over. It makes them feel like their view or story is not important.

Remember the telephone game when you were a kid? This is how I remember it: A row of people would be lined up. At one end, a teacher whispered a sentence. That person whispered it to the next, they relayed to the next… and so on, until it came to the last person. They said the sentence out loud and it was completely different from what it started as. The point was to show how gossip and rumors change as the story gets passed to different people. Was everyone really listening or did they just hear what they wanted to hear? Or was their mind racing with what they could add? I think if you tried it now, kids might try to bend the story on purpose, but who knows?

In some of the groups I’m in, they talk about holding space for someone. I feel like it’s the ultimate expression of listening and compassion. Holding space means listening without trying to fix. Acknowledging the person and their story, but not talking over it or trying to change it. It also means you’re not playing “the telephone game” and telling everyone else. Instead, you’re praying for or with them, asking for things to work out for their highest good. You’re giving them a space to be themselves, feel their feelings, and be heard. (Just don’t absorb their story, it’s not yours to hold onto.)

Want to talk to someone who will listen and won’t interrupt you? Talk to a higher power – God, Mother Nature or the universe, whatever you connect with. Or, talk with a loved one who has passed. It’s an amazing feeling when you can sense their spirit with you. They may have shed their earthly body, but their spirit is still alive. It’s something we forget about, but it can be helpful and healing… and most of the time they don’t talk back.

I remember growing up in a small town in ND. Our Lutheran Church had a thing called “Junior Lutherans.” I’m not sure what the point of it was, it was different from Sunday School. I remember two older ladies who had either never married or were widows, would lead us in songs. One of them was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” I can still hear their shaking voices and picture their small stature and blue-grey hair. I think I could recite the songs still, but if you’re not familiar, here are the words:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer! 2Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer. 3Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

We all need to feel seen and heard, even if we don’t like the attention. We also need to be able to listen. Really listen. I hope you’re able to have someone who really listens, and to be the same for someone else. And, know that you can always take it to the Lord in prayer. He’s not too busy and he doesn’t have a cell phone to distract him.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you really listen to someone this week. Also, listen to nature and the changing seasons upon us. The leaves crunching beneath our feet will soon be covered with a blanket of snow. There is peace in the stillness.

I just couldn’t…

I missed my blog post Tuesday yesterday. I don’t get paid for this or have an editor to report to, it’s a self imposed timeline. I just couldn’t. Some things happened in the last week or so that were a bit triggering for me and I needed to take some time. It didn’t feel authentic to write about the beautiful fall weather when I was feeling down. I still don’t feel like Mary Sunshine but I’m taking steps forward and that’s a good thing.

I took a walk at lunch down to the dam. Breathing in the crisp fall air, hearing the leaves crunch below me, the squirrels gathering nuts for winter and the soothing sound of the water trickling down the rocks was just what I needed. It was part of what I needed. I also needed to be open/honest, but how much do I share? It didn’t seem right to spill everything out to anyone when I haven’t expressed things to my friends, family, co-workers etc.

In the past year, I can’t tell you how many times I have felt like a failure. It’s a lot. Of course I wouldn’t call anyone else a failure for similar things, but this is how my mind works. Messy house = I fail at keeping it tidy. Extra weight = I fail at eating healthy. Anxiety = I fail at doing the things that keep me balanced. Too much debt = I fail at managing money. Son struggling with money management = I didn’t model it well or work with him enough. Depression = I have too much to be thankful for to be depressed. Communication issues = I’m a bad wife/mother. Stack of unsold books = I fail at promoting myself. Cat sickness = I fail at being a good cat mom.

Unfortunately this list could go on. You get the idea. Our church is starting a worship series about the perfect family. Spoiler alert – there isn’t one. We all have issues, history, skeletons in the closet, you name it. The picture perfect “social media worthy” photos don’t tell the whole story. Sometimes we reach out and don’t find the help we thought we’d find. Sometimes we reach out to someone else who seems to struggle, but they don’t want our help. It can be so hard, yet we don’t talk about it. We don’t allow ourselves a bad day.

Then, on my way back home, I spotted a penny. I always pick them up, smile and say “thank you.” It’s usually a message to remind me that I’m not alone. The year often means something also… the year on this one? The year my husband graduated high school. Yep, I’m not alone. Neither are you. Sure, life can feel lonely at times, but we aren’t alone. Someone cares for you. If it doesn’t feel like it right now, reach out. You might be surprised in a good way. Perhaps your circle needs to change if those people aren’t supporting you in good times and tough times. Everyone experiences ebbs and flows.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. If you feel like you “just can’t,” reach out… get support…allow yourself to pause.

Pennsylvania Polka in Montana…

This past weekend, while our youngest son was in Washington for a school trip, my husband and I went to Bozeman to see our oldest son. We had previously only seen him (once) for a few hours in the last two months. My mom heart was so happy to hug him and to see Bozeman from his eyes. We saw one of the spots where he likes to fly fish. Surrounded by the snow covered mountains, the sounds of the river, the crisp air and the beautiful yellow leaves of fall – it was easy to see why he loves it there. Of course we treated him to some food that wasn’t made in the cafeteria and filled up his truck. We got to see his shop class and also tour where he has been working.

He mentioned a critter calling contest and a wild game feed in a nearby town. We agreed to check it out. We slowly (because we were behind a hay truck) made our way to Ennis, MT… a small town of 850, southwest of Bozeman. We parked at the top of the hill and walked down towards the wild game feed. There were 20 or more tables set up along the main street with wild game samples. Mostly elk based chili items in small sample cups were passed out until they ran out. “Be sure to vote for #18,” or something similar was said as they handed us their samples. People hugged in the street and visited at the park. The realtor office gave out ice cream and there was an exhibit in the park about bears. The local chamber had a booth promoting their town.

A tourist town, mostly supported by hunters and fly fishing expeditions, it felt like we stepped back in time. It reminded me of the movie “Groundhog Day.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth your time. Bill Murray is a weatherman who is reporting on the

Groundhog shadow tradition in the small town. They have a festival in the town square where they everyone gathers and has a great time. He gets stuck in Punxsutawney – reliving the same day over and over until he “gets it right.” Ennis reminds me of Punxsutawney. Nobody looked at us like we didn’t belong. They thanked us for coming and encouraged our son to sign up for the critter calling.

The local distillery, run by a veteran, set up a stage behind the bar. They had a panel of judges and prizes for each category of critter calling. Youth categories ranged from kittens to ducks to cows. Adult categories were either farmyard animals, predators, waterfowl or upland game. And they called in a Yeti, which is apparently a town mascot of some kind.

We won the waterfowl calling contest and got lots of compliments from the locals. He’s more like my husband so he talked to everyone. It was fun to listen to all of it and see the excitement.

The next day brought us back to Ennis for a fly fishing adventure. Dallas had been river fishing before, but not float fishing & Cam hadn’t done either. We arrived early so we could get the license and get fitted up for waders etc. After they took off with their guide, I wandered through town. It was so great to have 4 hours to just look in the stores and not have to be in a rush. I felt like I was in a movie set. I walked into one store and the two ladies were cleaning up from all of the traffic the night before. I got some compliments on my glasses and visited about the beautiful weather. I strolled slowly through each open store. I had lunch at the soda fountain/pharmacy/gift shop and enjoyed a huckleberry shake. I walked through the gift shops, clothing stores, thrift shops and art/mercantile. I stood at the end of Main Street and took in the mountain views and listened to the creek running through town. I sponged on some conversations, loving how charming the town and the people seemed.

At the mercantile, the shop owner said she is also from Minnesota. She mentioned that she recognized me from the calling contest the night before. We visited for a bit, which is kind of out of the ordinary for me. Then I went back to the soda fountain for a chai latte and took it to a table outside to read a book. The guys came back in the afternoon. They had a good time, caught some fish and had seen a moose in the river. We wound our way at back to Bozeman so we could start our journey back home. If the price of homes wasn’t so high, I might consider relocating.

I just had to share part of our journey. Since I mention peace weekly, this was sure a peaceful place. I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I wish you the opportunity to slow down, take in your surroundings and step back in time a little.

See the light, be the light…

This past weekend, I went to a retreat with 18 other women. I almost didn’t go. 5 times. I came up with multiple excuses, mostly related to someone else needing me to stay home – even though they didn’t. They needed me to be there, to relax, refresh & reconnect.

When I returned home and my husband asked what we did, I wasn’t sure what to say. Time was strange last weekend – it seemed to go slowly and quickly at the same time. We laughed, we shared, we connected, we caught up with ladies we knew and met new friends. We did crafts, played, ate and sat by the fire. For some reason, I was reluctant to share our spirit connections. Um, I’m an author in a Wild Woman Book of Shadows book… spirit connections shouldn’t be a shock. We connected with loved ones who have passed, we acknowledged and celebrated the light in each other, we shared stories and shed old patterns. We challenged each other to level-up, be the light and share the joy. We did yoga and sound therapy, stayed up late and giggled.

This was our first retreat without our friend. She attended many in the past and this was the first one since she passed away. We could feel her presence. She sent so many signs… some were subtle and some were huge. The photo above is the fire we had one night. I was going to snap a picture because I love the cozy feeling of a campfire. After I took the picture, I noticed the green light to the right of the flame. This was not visible when we were just sitting there. It danced off to the side as I held my phone up. I was able to get a video of it. Again, we couldn’t see it just sitting there, but it was amazing. We knew it was her spirit celebrating with us.

Last year I was spinning a lot and was nauseous, so I made a conscious effort to stay grounded. While we were visiting after breakfast, I knew I needed to step away. I went to the porch, sat with my coffee and a grounding mat. I did some meditation and was setting my intentions for the day. This was the largest group of people I had been around (for the longest time) in a year. I realized it was a little much for me and I needed some time alone. The difference is, that I took the time. I actually put myself on the list of “things to take care of.” While other people might have had big breakthroughs, my small one was a big first step for me. I struggle to add myself to the list. I tend to want to do/help/give and I forget about myself. Don’t forget about adding yourself to the list!

My other “big deal” was that I sat in our circle, far from the door or the kitchen with my back to the window. You may be thinking, “So what?!” It’s a big deal for me because I like to look outside. I couldn’t do that where I sat. I also like to either be by the door so I can quietly escape or to be by the kitchen in case someone needs something. And I acknowledged this step. Silly as I may sound, my friends also recognized this change and pointed out how different it was for me to do that.

My weekend take-aways: 1) add myself to the list 2) acknowledge small steps 3) my family cannot read my mind 4) releasing control is ok 5) allow the support and friendship. There were lots more, but this was a start.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Add yourself to the list every day. see the light, be the light.

Bear with me…

5:40pm on Tuesday, I went out my front door and to the mailbox at the end of our driveway. I thought I might take a walk, but decided against it (thank goodness). I went to the back and let the chickens out to free range a bit. I figured there were some extra worms and bugs in the trees for them. They love to scratch in the leaves. I grabbed two containers to pick raspberries in the garden. I was almost done picking the beautiful fall berries (& getting eaten by mosquitoes), when my phone rang. My husband and son were in town and getting ready to go to a movie. “There is a bear in the yard,” he said very matter of fact-ly. “Not funny,” I said. “No, really, there is a bear in the front yard, it’s walking by the pine trees. The neighbor just called and told me.” Again, I said, “Seriously, this is not funny. I’m in the garden and the chickens are out.”

My heart started racing as I walked quickly past the pumpkins and closed the garden gate. I kept my husband on the phone. As I walked past the shed, I could see my chickens. They were still out, but a little frozen in place. They were quiet. I walked quickly towards the coop, whispering for them to go inside. When I looked up and to the left, there was the bear. “Oh my goodness (& some other words), the bear is right there. What do I do?!,” I whisper/yelled to Cameron. Just as I spoke, the bear ran the other direction. It had been less 50 yards away from me. I quickly got the chickens into the coop and shut the door.

The neighbor came over to make sure I was ok and that the bear was gone. It appeared to be just one. We’ve had skunks, raccoons, fox, mink, badgers, pocket gophers and now bear. (Apparently a mountain lion also but I never saw it). I checked on the cat, luckily he was in the garage because I hadn’t let him out after supper. He was sitting on his ledge, probably watching this whole ordeal. He kind of looked at me like “Nope, I don’t do bears. I’ll protect you from mice or birds, maybe a fox or deer… but bears?! You’re on your own!”

I called our oldest son in Montana and told him the story. He said to call the DNR or the state park since we live right across from state park land. I called and left a message with the state park. I texted my “holy cow” story to some friends and family, let Cam know I was ok, then I called my parents. I went back through the Nest camera footage to find a pretty good view of the bear coming through the front yard. We joke about me being a mama bear, but I didn’t think I would get that close. 6:13, the bear lumbered through our front yard. Ironically, it went right past a wooden bear totem in our trees… something that was here when we moved in.

“Bears are more scared of you than you are of them?” Um, I’m not so sure about that. I have no idea if it was a mom or a two year old – IT WAS A BEAR, that’s really all that mattered to me. I’m sure it would have been more interested in my raspberries than my chickens but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.

This is Greta. Greta is glad the bear is gone.

Regardless of its meaning, I’m glad it’s gone… for now. Tomorrow, my lunch break will be spent removing all bird feeders (even though they were empty), cleaning up the chicken treats and making sure we don’t have anything else appealing to bears. I obviously cannot remove the berries, but they are behind a fence, so maybe that will deter it a little. That’s enough excitement for one night! This week, I have my mammogram and I’m going to a retreat. I’m sure I will have some time to think about the bear and what it represents.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Hopefully there are no more bears with me, just peace instead.

Fine…

Last week, my boss asked me how I was doing. I blurted out a partial list of stressors in my life. After I felt like I puked out a few too many feelings, I said, “You probably weren’t looking for that long of an answer. Maybe ‘fine’ would have been good enough.” Or would it have?

People around me were having loved ones die unexpectedly or die slowly, both of my (vaccinated) parents were ill with COVID, navigating the school schedules of cross country practice (in a different location each day with a kid who cannot drive)/band/bowling/gym/6am swimming for cross training, weekly market baking, picking & processing garden vegetables, one son 900 miles away navigating freshman year alone and needing a vehicle to get him through winter & hopefully home for Christmas… & 100 other things. I’m not unique. I’m one of many moms (and some dads) who have a rolling check list of “to do,” “to find,” or “to get” running through their brains. So yeah, this last week, I haven’t been fine, but I consider myself lucky.

I’m spinning in my head with everything, but I’m learning techniques to make it better. I’m overwhelmed by life, but I know there are people who need and depend on me. I may be sad for others, but I’m thankful for my family. “It could be worse” doesn’t mean that your struggles aren’t valid. It’s not a competition of woe’s. Sometimes we need to let things out and release them… set them at the feet of Jesus, release them into the universe, turn them over to a higher power – whatever it is, we don’t have to hold onto it. We don’t have to pretend we are fine.

I was part of a Wise, Wild Woman conference last week. I went back and watched my interview. I need to take my own advice. Find your joy. Do the things that make you happy. “Yes” you can do what you love. Sometimes events shake us and sometimes we feel stuck. It’s ok to reach out for help. It’s ok to need someone even when you’re a fixer/helper. I know I’ve written about the subject before, but I feel like some of this was smacking me on the head & need to be repeated. If you’re swimming along and things are great, good for you. I am honestly happy for you and jealous (it’s ok). If you’re struggling, hang in there. Reach out, ask for help, talk about it out loud. Say the words you need to release. You don’t have to always be fine. Sometimes we just need to hear that it’s ok. We aren’t alone. You are not alone.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Smile when you can, cry when you need to… it’s ok to not be ok, but you are needed here.

What the cluck?

This is Noodle chicken. Pepper is behind her and Daisy is in the back. They are part of the flock of nine hens at our farm. Noodle is wondering why I’m taking pictures of her. Pepper is trying to grow her feathers back. Daisy is annoyed there aren’t more treats. Chickens are funny. They can’t smile but they have a bunch of different cluck noises and expressions. So far, it seems there is a cluck noise when they lay eggs (called the “egg song”), a different cluck when there is danger, a cluck indicating something exciting (like a frog), a cluck when there are treats, a cluck when they see me, a cluck when they are determining “pecking order,” a cluck in the morning and a different one at night. Chicken personalities… who would have thought?

This is Sesame chicken. She is wondering why Noodle was chosen for the first picture. She is usually the last one in the coop at night. She can be kind of sassy and she loves bean plants.

The chickens are pets. I could tell you a story or something specific about each one… even the new ones. They are as unique as you and I.

So why a “fluff piece” on a Tuesday? These ladies were the back drop to my interview for the Wise Wild Woman conference next week. It’s a free virtual conference with several of the authors from our book along with other amazing women. Of course I talk about my chickens a little. You’ll probably be able to see them peeking around – looking for snack.

Women sharing stories of healing and connection creates safety and opportunity for others women to show up and rise. Join us for the call of the wild ones in this virtual conference for women. I’m excited to be a part of the change we are seeking in the world today, I hope you can join us! Come receive, learn, relax, laugh, and connect with us!

https://mavisfrueh–melissacorter.thrivecart.com/wise-wild-woman-virtual-conference/

I also have some books in stock from our book launch! Message me at mavisfrueh@journeyofenough.com to get your copy today.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Hope you will be able to join us in the conference and hear from these amazing wise wild women!

If God can lead you to it…

I was scrolling through Facebook before bed, too tired to move off the couch. We did a lot of canning on Labor Day. Whatever we don’t sell at the market, we try to use in some way. Today was salsa and jam day. We made 3 more batches of mild, medium and hot salsa, 3 batches of pasta sauce, strawberry jam, blueberry jam, chokecherry jelly & strawberry rhubarb jam. It was more than twelve hours of prepping, cooking & canning. My husband carried a canner full of jars and water up and down our patio steps many times on Monday. He wore gloves & glasses to prep the jalapeños for the hot salsa. Everyone stayed safe, so it was a good day. We do the canning outside on a propane stove. It keeps the heat out of the house and it’s much quicker.

Anyway, I saw this quote from Toby Mac. He’s a Contemporary Christian artist and has lost a son. His words struck a chord with me & I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to write about. We all face struggles of some kind. Most of the time we don’t know what someone else is going through. They may have lost a loved one, struggled to get out of bed, battled depression/loneliness/anxiety, struggled with hidden health issues… the list goes on. After I was done with breast cancer treatment, I had a bit of a panic attack. I wasn’t “actively” doing anything… no more surgery or radiation, no more regular doctor visits… I was just set free to do what? Now what? It’s a strange feeling. Like maybe when you’re not fighting anymore, it will come back?

I met with a counselor at the cancer center and also met with mentor (someone who had been through breast cancer herself). I asked, “Does it ever get easier? Is there a day when you don’t think about it?” Their answer was “kind of.” Eventually it doesn’t consume your every thought… other things fill in. You make plans for the future instead of putting plans on pause, you take some chances you had held off on, you find a new routine. I’m thankful that now I have to do math to remember how long it’s been. This past Memorial weekend was 6 years since my last surgery. This coming December will be 7 years from diagnosis. The thing is, it won’t ever go away. It will always be a part of me, always a part of my story, always a concern for my family.

But I like to think I have helped others who have gone through cancer. I’ve shared tips for them and for their caregivers, I’ve sent care packages to strangers, answered questions when I could and said many prayers for healing and strength. I remember hearing, “If God can lead you to it, God can lead you through it.” FYI, this was not helpful for me. It kind of made me mad. Why did God lead me to breast cancer at 41? Why did God make me give that news to my family & take me on a journey I didn’t ask for? Why did some friends turn away and abandon me? Why was work so challenging while dealing with such an illness? I don’t have the answers. Maybe it is because I was meant to help someone else.

The same could be said for you. Have you struggled with something and then been able to help someone else? You might not even realize the impact you had. It forms a connection. I picture a spider web in my mind… a small strand connecting us to someone else. When you get enough of those strands, the web can be pretty strong.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Stop and take a moment to reflect on how you’ve helped someone else. You are here for a reason, even if it’s not apparent to you, you’ve no doubt made a difference in someone’s life. Maybe God really did lead us to it.

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.