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!

Trust…

Florida in January

My friend said she was having some serious trust issues. She was having a hard time imagining 80 degree temperature difference. She was going to be traveling to Florida from Minnesota, in January. Packing for a trip when temp is 6 degrees below zero, trusting it will be above zero (let alone 75) when she gets off a plane 3 hours later was a challenge. She wanted to pack her flannel and fuzzy socks, but was trying to trust the weather in Florida being much warmer. As I went to visit my chickens today, I found myself wondering why I live where it’s so cold. I’m sure I’d be tempted to pack some flannel too!

How often do we struggle to trust beyond our current reality? Do you trust the change you’re going through will have a better result? Are you able to see the vision/goal, or is it difficult to imagine? How challenging is it to have faith in the unknown?

If we really think about it, we are trusting every day. We trust our vehicles to safely get us to our destination. We trust our kids to be good in school. Employers trust employees to do their jobs. But there is more to trust than the physical stuff. That gut feeling. You know the one? Something just “feels” like it might be wrong or it feels like we should take a certain path. Do you trust your gut? Doing so means you have to pay more attention to what’s going on instead of running on auto pilot. Trusting your gut is an intentional pause. It’s recognizing the feeling and following it. Practice it for a while and see how reliable it is… you may be pleasantly surprised.

Five months ago was one of the biggest tests of trust for me. I drove my oldest son to Montana, trusting he would do ok on his own. I trusted him to make decisions he had never made before. I trusted that he would eat a vegetable now and then, do his own laundry and manage his money. Some things went better than others. But I also had to trust myself – trust that I (we) gave him a good foundation to get started. I had to trust that the mistakes he did make would be ones he learned from. Sometimes the struggle makes you appreciate the good times, but as a parent, it’s difficult to see your kids struggle. When you love them and want the best for them, it’s hard to trust that it will all work out. But then it does, and you realize it will be ok.

Whether you’re deciding if you should pack shorts for your trip, what your next career path should be or if you should schedule the dentist appointment, just trust. If it doesn’t go the way you thought, maybe there is something better planned.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. We only get one life at a time… live your best one. Pack sunscreen instead of mittens and you’ll be ok. (Unless you’re visiting Mn, then the mittens are a must!)

The Windy City…

I was born and raised in North Dakota. If you live there, you know how flat the Red River Valley is. It’s not a valley with mountains or even hills along side… it’s flat as a pancake with very few trees. When the wind blows, there isn’t much to stop it. When we lived there, our patio faced north, which is where the wind comes from 90% of the time in the winter. It would be 10-20 degrees cooler by the patio door when it was storming.

Five years ago, we moved to Minnesota, and I sometimes forget about the ND wind. We have trees and hills to slow down the wind. People here don’t know the dread of an “east/west road” in the winter (when the wind blows from the north, the east and west roads are the worst because the snow accumulates.) Growing up, I remember hearing about Chicago being “The Windy City.” I thought they must not be able to stand the winters if it’s more windy than ND. But Chicago’s nickname didn’t come from actual wind. The name came from politics.

In 1893, Charles A. Dana, an editor of the “New York Sun,” published an editorial calling Chicago a “windy city.” He did so in reference to the city’s full-of-hot air politicians who were advocating and wooing organizers to hold the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in the city instead of in New York.Aug 8, 2020.

I skipped last week’s post because we were in “The Windy City.” Our youngest son is a fan of The Office TV show. Even though it’s been years since it first aired, he has watched the reruns and has seen it very show (more than once). I stumbled across some info about The Office Experience opening in Chicago and thought it would make a great Christmas gift. So I planned our road trip to Chicago, starting it off with The Office Experience. It was a hit. We all enjoyed seeing the TV props, sitting at their desks, winding our way through the trivia, pictures and set replicas.

We toured the aquarium, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science & Industry, saw the Blue Man Group, went to the top of the Willis Tower at night and to the top of John Hancock building in the morning. We saw “the bean” at night and the reflection of the city was amazing. We did a lot of walking and took several Uber rides (those were interesting!) We had sleet & snow one day and ended up soaked after our walk. We had some great food and stayed on The Miracle Mile. I also forgot our Norwex masks so we had to use what we had in the car & I only had 2 Norwex, so Cam got to wear the floral. I also forgot my tennis shoes, so I walked 10+ miles a day in my snow boots. We had to alter our plans a couple of times, but it all worked out. The Chicago City pass is a great savings, but the art museum isn’t open every day and the Conservatory has a capacity limit. The pass also lets you into addition exhibits or movies at most venues. We skipped the “stand on plexiglass and see the city below you.” We were out of town before New Years Eve festivities began.

This was probably our first trip without Dallas. He was working over the holiday break so he didn’t join us in the Windy City. Life is short, we’re taking the trip. My trip planning used to include spreadsheets and binders of info (ask my uncle!!) Now, I do most of the planning on my phone, use hotel apps and Google to find info, and I’m a little more flexible than before.

I wish your peace on your journey of enough. I know not everyone was able to be with family over the holidays or perhaps it was just different from years past. May the spirit of Christmas be with you year round.

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.

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.

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.

Zip lines & spider webs…

2 years ago, I was zip lining in the mountains of CA for a cancer survivor retreat. I like to remember that trip. For me, it reminds me of what is possible. It reminds me I can fly to CA, drive up a mountain by myself (without getting lost), and stay with strangers who would become friends. I can do a ropes course, zip line and do yoga on the mountainside. I can share my story, and listen to someone else’s story without fear or judgement. I grew a lot that weekend. It seems like a lifetime ago, but I think it was a turning point for me. I can do the tough things and still be vulnerable.

It’s bittersweet because we’ve lost some of the ladies from the retreat. My heart aches for their loved ones who have a void that won’t be filled. The kids who miss their mom, the spouses, friends and parents who reach for the phone and realize they can’t call to say hi. They enriched the lives of those they touched, but it still doesn’t make sense why they had to pass. Some things just don’t have easy answers.

The loss reminds me to appreciate my health, to cherish my friendships and to find JOY. It reminds me to fill my circle with people who cheer me on, even if I don’t make it across the ropes. We all have an invisible connection. When I picture it, I see a spider web. It slowly spins as we tell our stories and gain a connection. By the end of the weekend, the web was strong. Roommates, similar diagnosis, similar struggle, similar victories, similar likes and dislikes, with a common respect and a lasting connection.

A zip line in the mountains was where I found my courage. A zip line in the mountains was where I laughed and screamed and almost puked. A zip line in the mountains will hold a special place in my heart. And every year when this memory pops up, I will think of this web of connection woven between women who started with one common thread (cancer), and ended up with so many more. Your tragedy doesn’t have to define you, but it sure shapes you in a different way.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you find your own “zip line in the mountains” and don’t forget to keep your eyes open. The view is breathtaking!

Never too old for “firsts”…

This past weekend, we flew from MSP to Bozeman. We had originally planned to fly to Kalispell, MT when we thought that’s where our oldest son was moving. We were scheduled to go over October break, but things were too risky with Covid, and vaccines hadn’t come out yet. Between then and now, he decided NOT to move to Kalispell, or to go to Billings. He wanted to see Bozeman once more before moving there and get a feel for the town. It’s 170 days until he moves away.

There were a few “firsts” on this trip.

  • First time traveling without snacks
  • First time changing flight plans a week before the trip
  • First time flying first class
  • First time in Yellowstone National Park
  • First time on a winter wildlife safari
  • First time seeing a wolf pack surround an elk
  • First time in the Bozeman airport
  • First time flying during a pandemic
  • First time in a Murdoch’s store
  • First Roost chicken and Red Tractor Pizza

I’m sure there are more “firsts.” Each time we travel, we try to eat somewhere new. (Or at least somewhere we can’t go to at home… so no McDonald’s, Culver’s, Taco John’s etc). We had a big lunch one day and were too stuffed for supper. Instead, we decided to go out for ice cream. I might have added it to the list, but I can’t guarantee it’s a first time having just ice cream for supper. It for sure is the first time we’ve had ice cream AND shared huckleberry shakes for supper. (It was amazing!)

While we sometimes remember the “firsts,” we aren’t always sure when we will have the “lasts.” The last time our kids held our hand or wanted to sit on our lap. The last time we heard someone’s laugh. The last time we hug someone we love. A friend of mine has gone through a lot of loss in the last year. A LOT of people she knows and loves have passed on. Some of them were known to be passing due to illness and some were sudden. It’s a lot for our hearts to bear. We want to help others navigate their loss, while still trying to process our own. We miss seeing them in person. We miss their smile, their stories, their touch. Was our time together enough? What do we remember most? Memories & pictures are what remain after they are gone. The other “stuff” left behind is just that. Stuff. It’s those moments of joy that bring us back to the time when they were here physically.

It’s one of the reasons I like to go on trips. Memories. Moments. Joy. A little escape from regular life that carves out some firsts…. some “remember when?…” It’s putting a pause on Groundhog Day and making room for some Pennies from Heaven.

As we flew into the Bozeman airport, my son said, “Can I just live here forever?”… and that’s when my mommy heart knew that my boy had found his place. He will be living in a beautiful town, surrounded by mountains and streams and abundant wildlife. He will have so many new “firsts” coming up. I hope someday he will remember this trip and smile…and know how very loved he is. I’m so excited for your journey, buddy. You are always enough.

I wish you all peace on your journey of enough. If your heart is hurting and missing the “lasts,” think back to the “firsts” and go create some new ones. You might just find some signs from your loved ones when you do. We found pennies and quarters on our trip. Each time, I stopped and smiled, and my heart was happy.

862…

862. It’s 862 miles from our house to Montana State University in Bozeman. Our oldest son got accepted to MSU for this coming fall. He will graduate high school in June and have his welding certificate this summer from the Tech school. This fall, he will move 862 miles away to pursue an Ag education degree to become an Ag teacher and hopefully an FFA advisor.

This is not a piece of cake. He isn’t a 4.0 kid. He will have to work hard, ask for help and really get to know the tutoring department… but I know he can do it. We haven’t been saving for this since he was a baby, like is often suggested. The amount the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) suggested we should contribute is ridiculous. Why am I not stressed about this? It will work out. He will apply for scholarships, take out loans and get a side job welding or at a sporting goods store. It’s where is heart wants to go, and to have him settle for less because it is more convenient, cheaper or closer to me wouldn’t be fair. His one year of school will cost what almost 4 years cost when I went. The thought of moving to Norway did cross my mind. (Just joking – kind of).

He will be ok. He will have a high school diploma and a tech degree/certification and a 4 year degree. Since some of his tech classes will transfer, it should be less than 4 years. He has something that is difficult to teach…. communication skills. He isn’t afraid to talk to people. He is his father’s son. He’s getting better at asking for help and has seen the value in tutoring. He will be able to relate to the kids who have trouble focusing and who prefer hands-on learning. He can share his love of nature, outdoors, agriculture, welding and wildlife.

From Jaguar to Cardinal and now Bobcat, I’ll cheer him on wherever he goes. Part of my heart will move 862 miles away, but I’m so excited for his adventures. His journey is just beginning and there is so much more to his story. How does this relate to you? Don’t settle. Don’t sell yourself short. It’s not entitlement. It’s about knowing what you want and knowing what will bring you joy.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you find what brings you joy, even if it is 862 miles from home.