Journey through time…

Time is a funny thing. Some days it seems to creep along, and other times you wake up and realized years have passed by. That’s where I’m at this week. Eleven years ago, I ran my first half marathon in Las Vegas. After watching Cameron run a bunch of full marathons (26.2 miles), I thought I’d try the half marathon (13.1 miles). It was a “Rock & Roll” marathon at night on the Vegas strip. It was around the same time as the National Finals Rodeo, so we did a multipurpose trip. It was a memorable experience for sure. I finished the race, with Cameron pacing me and keeping my spirits up. Navigating the stairs of the rodeo arena the next day was a bit of a challenge. We had a fun time.

8 years ago this week, I heard the diagnosis of breast cancer. I’m sure there are some people that get annoyed when I bring it up. But, I was 41 and I want people to be aware that it can happen at younger ages, and to be advocates for their own health. 8 years ago I didn’t know where I would be. I hoped I’d be cured and healthy. I didn’t think I’d be in Minnesota. I am healthy and doing well. The diabetes diagnosis isn’t related to cancer (more related to gestational diabetes & genetics).

7 years ago, we went back to Vegas and we were able to go to the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night at the rodeo. It was an emotional experience to be there as a survivor. I felt guilt for taking a trip, but I was an important part of the healing journey. The guilt is something I’ve wrestled with for 7 years. It’s time to let that go. Because my cancer came in December, and I was healthy before that, we had to pay out of pocket for November & December appointments/procedures to meet our deductible, and then start all over again in January. It was more than we could handle financially, and we needed some help. The school put on a fundraiser for us to help with medical bills. I knew there would be people who judged us for taking a trip the same year we needed financial help. I need to let go of that guilt. They don’t know the full story. Have you heard the saying, “what people think of you is not your concern?” This applies here.

So, this week especially, I’m setting down that guilt. I’m blessing and releasing the fear, shame and anxiety that filled me up for so long. I am putting it down and walking the other way. I’m moving forward in good health and in joy, knowing I am enough. You are too. You don’t need to explain your life or your choices. You need to be happy. I honestly hope you are.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. This time of year we see many signs about peace. I hope you find it. Don’t let the outside expectations steal your joy. You deserve joy, not because of what you do, but because you are here to experience love.

Hidden victories…

First of all, it’s a temporary tattoo. I’m too scared of the pain to get a real one. Maybe someday. I do like the image though. It reminds me of making a wish. Making a wish on a dead weed doesn’t sound as appealing. It’s all about perspective.

Secondly, I’m celebrating a “non scale victory” by wearing my wedding ring again. I haven’t been able to wear it for a while due to weight gain/inflammation. Since being diagnosed diabetic in April, I’ve worked hard to watch what I eat, be more active and add some supplements to help me shed 25 pounds. I have 25 more to go, but I will get there.

It’s a hidden victory… one that I might not normally celebrate, but today I am. We all have our hidden victories that we are too afraid to share. We may think it’s not a big deal or nobody will care, but we should acknowledge and celebrate these wins. I’m quick to dismiss my wins. And I realize that negative self talk just keeps the negativity swirling. Not that I need to be “Mary Sunshine” but a negative narrative attracts more negativity. Pretty soon you forget to see the good. You’re only focused on the 25 more pounds to go, not the 25 already shed.

Instead of thinking about how much I want to overindulge in sweets, I can think about all of the fresh veggies we are growing. I can focus on a smaller portion of my favorite snack or pairing it with protein, water and a walk. I can be thankful for the time in nature instead of focusing on the deer fly buzzing around my head (trust me, that was not easy).

I’m a work in progress, friends. We all are, regardless if we admit it or not. I’m here to support you, cheer you on and not judge. Take a few minutes to celebrate a win, small or large, one that impacts you or a bunch of people.

Our walk last night led us to a secluded pond where some ducks were enjoying the evening. Another small victory – hiking without vertigo.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Peace is something I’ve been seeking a lot lately. Perhaps I need to pause more, make a wish on a weed and recognize the small victories. You are enough. Just as you are.

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.

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’d rather be “a little much…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spending time…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hang on!

Roller coasters. I feel like you either love them or avoid them at all costs. I’ve been on more actual roller coasters in the last 6 years than my previous 41 years combined. I’ve had my share of emotional and life related roller coasters also.

Last week marked 6 years since I rang the bell at the cancer center, signaling the end of active treatment. The 5 months from diagnosis to bell ringing was a fast roller coaster. It had lots of twists and turns. It made me sick to my stomach at times, elated, feeling like I was just dropped 7 stories, smiling, upside down, laughing and wanting to scream. It felt like the slow “click-click-click” as you inch towards the top peak, and the racing/rattling of the downward descent. You feel relief when the ride stops, but then you realize that wasn’t the end. There is another section. It might be the lazy river but it might be the corkscrew or a 100 year old wooden roller coaster. You might even get stuck at the upward ascent (this actually happened to us – someone had their phone out and was going to take pictures, which is against their rules).

The last 6 years have had plenty of roller coaster moments, but none as quick as those 5 months. I could almost break the last 6 years up into separate “rides.” …Cancer treatment…recovery…selling a house…moving…having teenagers…starting a new job…loss of friends…loved ones with cancer…pandemic…distance learning…starting a farm & business…writing for a compilation book. Each different in their own way, but not without their twists and turns. The roller coaster in the photo happens to be one in the shape of a cancer ribbon. I thought it was fitting for me. Your roller coaster will look completely different. Yours may be full of people or just have a few. You might be laughing the whole time or scared to death. You may feel like you are completely in the dark or basking in a bright sunny day. None of it is wrong, it’s just part of life.

There are some upcoming roller coaster rides that I’m aware of – graduation, moving the oldest son from MN to MT, having a chapter published in an actual book, adjusting to one son at home, driver’s ed… but there are so many that aren’t planned also. There will be times we want to close our eyes and hope it will end and other times when we want to enjoy the view. I’m thankful to have you on my roller coaster ride. Wait, do rides make you sick? I’ll sit in front.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May your roller coaster ride have some great times, with you in the front row. Throw your hands in the air, take some Dramamine and don’t forget to take the change out of your pocket. Hang on!

Roller coasters, mess & hopes for the future…

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

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

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

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