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.

A day disconnected…

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

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

Yellowstone bison (taken from the vehicle)

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

Dallas
Cameron
Myles
Me

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

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

Smarter not harder…

Most of the garden planted as of 5/23/22

You’ve heard the expression, “Work smarter, not harder,” right? Yep, me too. I’m fact, it was on a performance review of mine many years ago. One of the wonderful (insert eye roll) parts of my personality is to vividly remember almost every form of criticism I’ve received. That’s another story.

Anyway, this seems like good advice, right? Work smarter, not harder. Be more efficient, reduce waste (for my manufacturing friends), do more with less effort etc. Except if you have your worth tied to work. What do I mean? If you have no concept of this, that’s awesome… but some of us have our worth tied to how much or how hard we work. It may be self imposed, but it’s probably tied to childhood. Work was seen as valuable growing up. We needed to be hard workers in school and at home, regardless of the efficiency. For some, the love they received may also have been tied to how hard they work. You are only valuable if you’re a hard worker. No pressure, right? (Again with the sarcasm).

I had multiple jobs while in high school, along with being in multiple sports, stage band, swing choir, acting, drama, cheerleading etc. I also liked to hang out with friends and find a weekend party somewhere. All that pressure means you need to “blow off some steam,” and that’s not always done in a productive way. Fast forward many years and I still have multiple jobs, side projects and hobbies. I have yet to find a weekend party in a long time. (My priorities have shifted.) I’m always busy and I feel guilty when I’m resting or taking a break.

Unfortunately, we’ve passed on this “work” assumption to our kids also. I’m not saying they shouldn’t work, but have we shown them how to effectively rest & recharge? Not recharging their phones, not mindlessly scrolling the internet… real rest. I’ve not been a good example of this in the past. I go through spurts of self care and then I feel guilty and just charge back into more things to do. Have we shown them how to meditate, how to sit and breathe deeply, how to get lost in a good book? Being busy just for the sake of being busy doesn’t get us further in life. Our kids are stressed, over scheduled and overwhelmed. We need to encourage productive rest instead of just working harder.

I guess I just needed this reminder for myself. If it applies to you, that’s a bonus. The picture above is of our garden. (It has all been planted and got a nice dose of rain.) Now managed by the three of us, it’s a lot of manual labor. Some of it seems like extra work, and there must be a smarter way to get things done. We are slowly improving and learning as we go.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Now I’d better take my own advice and get a little rest!

To bee, or not to bee?

There is asparagus in there!

This past weekend was gardening weekend. No, it wasn’t especially warm. (48 for a high one day) it’s nearly the end of May and we needed to get the garden prepped to seed and plant. We have some rhubarb and asparagus that comes back every year. Luckily they weren’t hit with frost. This first picture is one of our asparagus rows. Yep, weeds and dandelions galore! Part of this is to prove to people who visit and think we never have weeds… yes, yes we do. Sixty five foot rows of asparagus (times five) makes for a lot of weeding. This year we had a larger than normal dandelion crop. Yes, I know that dandelions are edible, you can eat the leaves, make wine and use the roots for tea. Realistically, I don’t have time or energy for any of that. The dandelions are competing with the asparagus for nutrients and water, and I can’t sell dandelions but I can sell asparagus!

So I started weeding. Normally this is Cam’s gig, but he was busy doing other prep work that I couldn’t do. So I sat and pulled dandelions, and thought… “I wonder if anyone else has stories running through their heads at all times. I wonder what it would be like to have my mind quiet down a little. I wonder what the farm will look like in 5 more years. I wonder how many stories or metaphors there are about weeds in our garden.” As I inched my way down the row, it was obvious to see where I had been.

Slowly the asparagus and straw became more visible, and I thought the asparagus must be happy to breathe a little more. I learned that the chickens love dandelions, so I gathered some piles of plants and put them in a suet feeder cage. What a treat for the ladies! Trust me, the bees have plenty of opportunities for dandelion pollination in the yard. We’ve been very bee friendly this year.

Our focus changed to garden bed prep and the weeds had to wait. What weeds do you have crowding out your harvest? What things are bogging you down and slowly taking your resources? Stress? Over commitment? Illness? Recovery? Negative thoughts? Clutter? Perhaps you can take a little but at a time, freeing up some space and allowing you to take a deep breath. Spring is a wonderful time of rebirth and renewal. It’s a hopeful season but it can also be messy with mud and dirt (& now pollen!). New sprouts pop up, gardens and crops are planted, flowers are blooming. It’s a good time to weed our physical or mental gardens. While weeding may not be fun, seeing the fruits of our labor sure is rewarding.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. If you feel like you’re emerging from a two year cocoon, you’re not alone. Spread your wings, butterflies!

Calm after the storm…

The Robin nest remains unharmed after the storm

We had quite the storm last weekend in the Alexandria, MN area. Tornado warnings resulted in one tornado and straight line winds. There are at least two power companies in the area and ours had 8,000 people without power Thursday evening. We’ve lost power temporarily before but it usually returns pretty quickly. This one was worse. Many power poles down, trees falling and substation damage made it a challenge to get back up and running. As social media began to show rumors of multiple day delays, we knew we had to get a plan going for fridge/freezer/sump pump. The heating and cooling would be ok since the temps were mild. Having a farmers market business means we have more fridges and freezers than the average person.

The tornado warning extended to midnight, so we slept in the basement and got the generator in the morning. Extension cords were run to the appliances while we quickly tried to combine the freezer contents. A spark on one freezer made us think we were probably at the limit. I spent the day swapping the cord between freezer and sump pump. I would not be working remotely Friday. A call to the power company indicated it would likely be Saturday before we had power. A friend borrowed us another generator so we wouldn’t have to swap back and forth. The basement stayed dry despite the constant water pouring into the sump hole.

We have hundreds of trees around us. It’s not an exaggeration. We live in a pine/evergreen forest. Winds in our area were 80-100 mph. We had 0 trees fall during the storm. Zero. The loss of the contents in my fridge were a drop in the bucket compared to the damage some homes and buildings sustained. Huge old trees tipped over like dominoes less than a mile from our farm. Our power returned early Friday evening. Almost 24 hours without power makes you realize how much you depend on it.

An amazing thing happened between Friday and Sunday. People came together to help each other out. Neighbors and strangers grabbed rakes, chainsaws and wood chippers to clean up the storm damage. A local Bible camp had 40-60 trees down. Zero trees fell on a cabin or building. Hundreds of volunteers showed up with rakes, wheelbarrows, chainsaws and work gloves. Our youngest son wanted to do something for the community so we made Krispie treats with evergreens on them. Many of the trees that fell were big evergreens. We worked for 3 hours at the camp and he had treats for the workers. He interviewed and took some video for his you tube channel “The Unspecified Show.”

All around the community, people shared resources and helped each other out. Sometimes tragedy brings out the best in people. I think there will be plenty of firewood and wood chips in our area this summer.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. We all experience storms in life. I hope your community rallies to help. And I hope there is still signs of new life to come, like our robin’s nest.

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.