Introvert super powers…

I was wondering what to write about this week, then it hit me. BAM 💥. Well, not really… but I was talking with a friend of mine who is much more of an extrovert, and a lightbulb went off. She was talking about her husband, who is more of an introvert, and what his “introvert superpowers” were. What a great way to look at it! I’ve spent most of my life feeling like an introvert is a curse, but looking at it as being a super power?? That sounds way more fun.

Society tries to make introverts into extroverts, but it rarely goes the other way around. In the spirit of embracing these traits, I thought I’d share. So, here are some of my introvert super powers.

I am always observing and collecting data. Ok, this is true aside from when I’m grocery shopping. Then I literally won’t see you because I’m focused on my task. But normally, I’m taking it all in. I scan the room to see where to stand. I observe the safest place to sit. Do I know anyone? Who seems the most welcoming? Do we have anything in common? What do they think of me? Can I see/hear ok without being up front? Can I escape easily if I start coughing or need to get out? It’s one of the reasons that big crowds make introverts so drained. This and 1,000 other questions and scenarios and data gathering goes on at an event with a bunch of people.

I am a giver. If you’re in my circle, I will gift you things, send you things or offer to do things for you. It’s apparently my love language and it’s a way of sharing myself (my time and talent etc). I’ll send a note in the mail or send flowers or drop off some cookies. I don’t expect anything in return. How great is that??

I’m a good listener. Many introverts don’t lead the conversation. We listen. We are good at asking questions to make you talk about yourself. We (I) will interject a personal story to show connection & that we are listening. We are not trying to imply our story is more important. It’s our way of relating.

I’m sometimes better at writing than speaking, but it depends. If you get me talking about something I love, I’m very animated and not very introverted. I will sometimes over share and immediately regret it. I will replay our conversations in my head over and over. I will analyze what I should have said if I’m in person. If I’m writing, there is always the delete button. I love writing.

I’m not opposed to meeting new people, I just have a selective circle. Although I despise ice breakers, I will do them. Occasionally, I will meet someone I click with. I will usually think I’m not good enough to start with, so I can be a little needy (needing reassurance that I’m accepted.)

I have a wealth of knowledge regarding movie quotes. I’ve watched a lot of movies and can quote many of them. It’s a second language in my house. So if you need me for trivia, movies would be my category!

I’m an excellent planner. Aside from sandpaper or electronics, I love to plan trips, parties, weddings etc. I love the organization of it and trying to make it a memorable event. (This is me flipping the “bossy” or “anal” trait into something positive.)

How awesome would it be if we started embracing our differences? If we looked at our limitations as super powers instead of burdens? How empowering! I’m thankful for my friend who helped me see the positive, wether she knew it or not.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you find your super power – introvert or not.

Everybody sleeps…

My cat was happy to be a “sleep model.” It’s something he excels at. Growing up in the 70’s/80’s, Sesame Street was frequently on after school. I can still remember the song, “Everybody Sleeps.” I feel like it was supposed to encourage kids by letting them know that sleep was good and normal and everyone had to sleep, even animals.

About a week ago, I started feeling crummy (fever, sore throat & cough.) I could hardly get out of bed. I slept all of the next day, was weak and had no appetite. Assuming it was influenza, but wanting to be sure, my husband took me to the clinic. A lovely nose swab later, I learned I had Covid. This is the first time I’ve had it throughout the pandemic (that I’m aware of.) I was pretty miserable for a few days, then mainly tired with lingering cough. For some reason, the “Everybody Sleeps” song went through my head a lot. Maybe it was a way of telling myself it was OK to rest. I kind of felt like a caterpillar in a messy cocoon. The days blurred together amidst dreams and thoughts. Most of this week I’ve been moving in slow motion. I’m feeling much better now and I’m glad to have more energy.

The illness forced me to ask for help, to say no to things I wanted to do, and to just rest. Everybody sleeps, but everybody gets sick or has struggles too. Sometimes we forget there are more things that we have in common than things that divide us. If you’re going through a caterpillar time, allow yourself some rest. It’s ok to pause. I only wish I slept as soundly as my cat.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

No more math

This is the year I turn 50. Don’t bake a cake yet, it’s not until November. This is also the year I won’t have to do math to figure out how old I am. Not that my age comes up a lot, but if I’m filling out a form and it asks for my age, I always have to do the math. Not this year! I’m 49 until the end of November and then I’m 50.

I remember when 50 seemed “old.” I’m not sure what I thought I’d be doing at 50. Six year old me would have been a vet or worked at a zoo by now. Sixteen year old me would be an artist. Nineteen year old me would be a physical therapist who acts in a local theater. Twenty five year old me just wanted to be a mom more than anything. I don’t have a fancy job, have a big title or own a big business (I don’t think our farm counts). I am a loving wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend with a bunch of random dreams and a job that supports our family.

If you’ve followed along, or know me in person, you know I’m a list maker, a planner. I often have spreadsheets for planning work and personal things. Yes, there was a spreadsheet for our recent trip to Houston. Mainly because the plan changed and my memory isn’t as good. I wanted to make sure we saw and did the things I had looked into with some extra time for “random things.” I’ve been thinking of making a “to do” list for my 50th year. I probably won’t do a big party. It’s not my thing and quite frankly, I think only a handful of people would show up and that would bum me out. So, I think I’m going to set my intentions for this year. I’m going to make this my luckiest year yet.

Some people don’t celebrate birthdays. I’d be willing to bet, if you asked most cancer survivors, they would say they do. Another trip around the sun is nothing to take for granted. Not everyone is given the opportunity to be here 50 years. I’m thankful.

I’m a little scared about listing them because of fear of failure. What if I don’t do the things? In the spirit of stepping outside my comfort zone, I’ll share a few. Not to brag, but to dream out loud and welcome these great things into my life. (In no particular order):

  • I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii. This year will be the year I make it happen. (Feel free to send me tips on this, keeping in mind a budget for 4.)
  • I’m going to dust off my treadmill and at least walk most days. When it’s not snowy or the air doesn’t hurt my face, I’ll walk outside.
  • I will spent time in nature daily. Yes, the chickens are included with this!
  • I will create again by sewing or painting. I will continue writing and will expand my reach. I will get paid for my writing.
  • I will declutter, starting with my closet. I’ll keep only the things that make me feel great (either they are comfy or make me feel pretty.)
  • I am welcoming financial abundance this year. I can’t wait to see what this year will bring.
  • My A1C (diabetes) will be within normal range. I will reach my goal weight.

I’m sure there will be more to add. It’s not really a “New Year’s resolution,” it feels bigger than that. And more impactful… like a stretch goal I actually want to do. I understand the concept of stretch goals at work, but it always made me feel like, “your goal isn’t good enough, so list this crazy stretch goal that you’re unlikely to achieve so we can set you up for failure.”

I’m going to make a calendar reminder to look back at this post the end of December & see how the year went. I know it will be filled with wedding events for my niece, many birthdays and trips and a lot of changes. Good things are in store. Dream big, friends.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Cheers to a year with less birthday math!

RSD…

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I’m just speaking from my own experience)

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) isn’t a medical diagnosis, but a symptom associated with ADHD. I wouldn’t have ever found out about it, but I’ve researched more about ADHD since our oldest son’s diagnosis. I knew ADHD probably applied to my husband, but I didn’t think it applied to me until I learned about RSD. Once I read about it, a lightbulb went off and I felt understood.

Perhaps I wasn’t crazy every time I “overreacted” to rejection. I vividly remember being rejected by friends in high school. I cried and felt like an utter failure when I got a bad review for teaching a class. I panicked, fearing I’d be fired after I failed a test for a professional certification. When a friend stopped talking to me, I was convinced I had done something wrong. I often don’t start a task because I’m afraid of not doing it perfectly. It’s also probably one of the reasons I avoid crowds because I don’t want to feel rejected. Each week when I write, I worry about it not being good enough. Hence my journey of enough.

Web MD describes it as follows:

“Dysphoria” comes from a Greek word that means “hard to bear.” People who have RSD don’t handle rejection well. They get very upset if they think someone has shunned or criticized them, even if that’s not the case. Up to 99% of teens and adults with ADHD are more sensitive than usual to rejection. And nearly 1 in 3 say it’s the hardest part of living with ADHD. People who have the condition sometimes work hard to make everyone like and admire them. Or they might stop trying and stay out of any situation where they might get hurt. This social withdrawal can look like social phobia, which is a serious fear of being embarrassed in public.

Telling someone with depression to cheer up does not work. Telling someone with anxiety to calm down doesn’t work. Telling someone with RSD to get over it doesn’t work either. I don’t know much about it yet and I have not been formally diagnosed. I just know that it resonated with me so much. The feelings seem more intense for me than it does for most people. For me, awareness is a good step. Now it’s just to determine the next step. (Keep in mind that sharing this is pretty vulnerable & opening myself up for rejection)

I’m wishing you peace on your journey of enough. May 2023 be all you hoped for.

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.

Circus, hamster wheel and mind tornadoes…

I recently learned that not everyone has a dialogue going constantly in their head. Not everyone has overlapping stories, memories, to-do lists, replays of conversations, future conversations, “what ifs” & “could have dones.” I wonder what that’s like. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, empath or have undiagnosed ADHD… but it’s a circus up in my head. It’s like if you took the movie Inside Out and had them all taking at once. Even when I try to meditate, my grocery list pops in my head, or the thing I should have/or shouldn’t have said either yesterday or 30 years ago. Pause. Breathe. Relax. Let go.

I think it’s one of the reasons why I rarely see people while shopping. If I’m at the grocery store, I’m doing a mental scan of my kitchen. What did I forget? Do we have enough cream soup? Did I remember the apples? Is there enough yogurt for lunch? On top of the other stuff that races through, it’s especially “busy” while shopping. I’m less present to what’s going on around me. I don’t see the people around me, so I often don’t even know that someone I know is in the same store. When my husband does the shopping, he gets what is on the list and that’s it. He doesn’t wonder if we have enough of this or that. He doesn’t think of what meals we will have this week, what’s in the fridge and what we need for the freezer. I love him dearly, but he just doesn’t think that way. He gets what’s on the list and he leaves.

I’m sure you’ve seen articles before on how “many women are exhausted.” Those of us with this mental gymnastics competition are even more exhausted. We want nothing more than to turn our brain down, hit a pause button or have someone else take care of some of these things. Yet we probably stink at asking! Several of us are addicted to social media because we try to zone out and slow the hamster wheel in our heads. We say we are “fine” when people ask how we are doing, but many of us are hanging on by a thread. We don’t want to complain, seem needy or weak, so we keep it to ourselves.

If you’re like me, I encourage you to write it down. Whether or not you read it again isn’t really the point, (unless it’s a grocery list then maybe make a separate list.) I need to do more of this – writing it down to stop it from spinning around in my head. If I write it down with pen on a paper, my mind breathes a little sigh of relief, “Oh, ok. I don’t have to keep that thought spinning up here and try to remember.” Several of these things we don’t really need to remember anyway. Maybe if we (and myself included) start this practice (back) up in December, we can have a more peaceful holiday.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May your mind tornado be slowed to a gentle breeze, and may you find peace this holiday season. Oh, and if you see me, but I seem oblivious, go ahead and say “hi,” I’d love to visit, I was just thinking about peanut butter.

You don’t know what you’ve got…

I took a week off. Last Wednesday, my throat started to hurt. By Thursday morning, I was miserable and starting to lose my voice. I had to take the day off work. Friday, I sounded like a deep baritone, and the weekend left me without much of a voice at all. Amazing how we don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone, right? I’m rarely thankful for my physical voice. I take it for granted. I sometimes raise it too much or use it in ways I shouldn’t. I joke that my family is probably thankful for my lack of a voice this last week, but it sure has been a challenge.

I’m a bit of a slow learner. In my (almost) 49 years around the sun, I’ve learned that if I don’t actually express myself, my body will yell at me… forcing me to pause or rest. My mentor warned me about this in September- that if I didn’t deal with the emotions, my body would surely let me know. This week, it has forced me to be quiet, to rest, to reflect. It has shown me how important it is to be able to communicate. How much it means to me to be heard, and how to find other ways to be able to interact with others. it has also forced me to ask for help, since I wasn’t able to lead meetings due to lack of a voice.

November is typically the month where we are reminded to be thankful. Even though we just put away the Halloween decorations, and some people have their Christmas trees up already, it’s still a good time to remember what we have. I’ve done a gratitude journal before and really enjoyed the positivity. It’s a thing that’s easy to forget about outside of November, but it makes us focus on the good. The more we remind ourselves of the good, the more good we see and attract. I can be annoyed with my lack of voice but thankful for helpful co-workers, understanding family and the ability to text instead of speak. I can be thankful for the time to rest and rejuvenate.

Are you looking for happiness while forgetting you have things to be happy for? We all do. I challenge us to have a mindful November… to use our voices to be helpful and supportive. Be kind. To others, but to yourself also. You’re worth it.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

Breaking isn’t bad …

How often do you tell the same story? Either out loud or in your head… “I’m so____.” We repeat our woes or claim to be unable to break the cycle. But we can break the cycle. We can end the story and start a new one. We can be better than what broke us. We can choose compassion, acceptance & understanding.

I recently shared a story about how we apologize for our messy houses. The author encouraged us to break the cycle- to be the generation that doesn’t apologize for being normal. It’s not that we don’t try, but things are hectic… we may have little kids or teens running to different events & meetings or doing homework. Sometimes anxiety or depression keeps us from doing household chores. Apparently, it’s also related to ADHD to be bothered by clutter but not able to take action to clean it up.

If you’re struggling with your kitchen table being full of papers, mail, random water bottles or sunglasses, I see you… I am you. The kitchen table mess didn’t break me, but it sure has made me apologize a time or two. “Heal instead of becoming bitter.”

“Be the person you needed when you were hurting.” I think that’s where a lot of my advice from my cancer recovery comes from. I wish I would have had someone to ____. Instead of dwelling on the hurt, break the cycle. I choose acceptance. I choose inclusion. I choose grace. I choose understanding.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you find joy in creating your new chapter.

Ice breakers?

I’ve seen this phrase many times before. “There is somebody in the world who needs your story.” I often dismiss my writing. I think it’s not important, wonder who would care to read what I have to say and honestly question why I do this. Why do I share my stories with unknown numbers of people, many of whom I’ve never met and likely won’t meet? Connection. I know it’s not the physical connection, in person or face to face, but it’s a connection of sorts. Every now and then, someone will reach back to me and say, “me too” or “wow, I needed to hear that.” That’s the connection.

My writing is random and usually spirit led. It’s not eloquent or fancy. It’s often raw and always honest. It’s a peek into parts of me that not everyone sees. If you ask me in person how I am, I will likely reply with the ever acceptable, “fine.” Although for me to be able to write that I’m frequently not fine seems easier than saying the words out loud. I’ve gotten better with sharing things with friends, but I still feel like I’m a bother, so I don’t always bring it up. I’ll still be “fine, good, ok.” I have a small circle who dig deeper and don’t accept my scripted answer as the truth. Without judgement or criticism, they are willing to hear my crappy days as well as celebrating the great days. I treasure them more than they know, but gratitude is one of my strengths, so I feel like I do show them how much they mean to me. Hopefully that’s true.

It’s been almost 8 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. December will mark 8 years. I started a Caringbridge site soon after, and started writing more regularly not long after my treatment was done. In those years, I’ve seen so much change. Health scares, moving, new jobs, loss and gaining of friendships, struggles/lows and high points with family…. yet there is one thing that I keep getting reminded of: we aren’t meant to do this alone. I can go to church, but I need to walk the walk when I leave. I can go to a retreat, but I need to keep working on myself when I come back home. I can lose weight, but I need to be mindful to be able to maintain it. Along the way, I need people to help with all of those things. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

Our connections are like a thread… weaving us together in one way or another. The last few years it’s been easier to see what divides us instead of what unites us. Have you ever been in a room where you had to do an “ice breaker” event? One of the introvert nightmares of tell me about yourself ?! As much as those make me cringe, I love to watch the connections form. Things you see in others that resonate with you. Soon those strangers now have something in common. They don’t need to be your new best friend, but it reminds us how unique we are, yet we still have common ties.

Someone needs your story too. You may not think so, but they do. I know I’ve written a lot about it lately, but I feel like it needs to be repeated. You’re not alone. Somewhere there is another mom struggling to get it all done. Somewhere there is another middle aged woman wondering how she got to be middle aged. Somewhere there is another baker, a gardener, a chicken tender, a cat lover, an artist, a writer and a survivor. It just takes a brave first step, an awkward ice breaker or a smile in the grocery store.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Thank you for letting me share my story, even if it is just with a few people. I’m thankful for you, more than you know.

Difference makers and daisies…

It’s been a whirlwind of a week or two. From a quick trip to Bozeman (which isn’t quick), to a car trade/purchase, to endoscopy/colonoscopy for me, to a small town hospital & big city hospital for my mom and the start of school for my husband and son, I’m no longer sure what day it is or what is on my agenda.

We’ve encountered some memorable people – not all good… from pushy car sales people, to lying car sales people, to nurses and doctors and aides – some helpful, some less than helpful. It all just reminds me that we can make a difference in someone else’s life. It doesn’t take much – a smile, a kind word, honesty, holding someone’s hand while they are scared, speaking so someone understands, listening and making sure someone feels seen and heard, praying or holding space for someone struggling… all of these things cost $0 but their value is far greater than we realize.

There is a DAISY award at the hospital for the staff who have gone above and beyond. I picked up 3 nomination sheets. 3 different nurses made such a difference in my mom’s care during her stay in Fargo. They were advocates for her health, they paid attention to how she was feeling/what worked best for her, they kept us informed & listened to our concerns and questions, they held her hand, made her laugh and gave her warm blankets. My mom’s health has improved a little but she still has some procedures yet to come. Instead of just talking about how helpful the nurses are between our family, I want them to be recognized. Often times, people who go above and beyond do not draw attention to what they are doing. They quietly go about their jobs, living by the golden rule. They maybe don’t want the attention, but maybe it feels good to be recognized and it lets them know they did make a difference.

There is no such award for car sales that I’m aware of… that’s a whole different story. It was a life lesson, but not fun one. That lesson was about treating people how you want to be treated from the standpoint of seeing what you don’t want, instead of what you do want. I guess those things give us perspective and perhaps make us realize when things go right also.

I’m thankful for a lot of things, but my patience is wearing thin. When I get crabby, I try to think of the positive things. I acknowledge the stress but try not to dwell on it. So here is my gratitude list for today: I’m thankful for my aunt and uncle who opened their home and their hearts to us during the hospital stay. We didn’t have to worry about hotel rooms or where to “land.” I’m thankful for all of the people joining us in prayer and well wishes for my mom. I’m thankful for the team of doctors, nurses and support staff who have helped her to feel better. I’m thankful for my manager and coworkers who have covered for my absence. I’m thankful for my family who has coped without me and kept things running at home. I’m thankful for my friend who helped drive our son after practice. I’m thankful for all of the plants and flowers to brighten the hospital room.

You can make a difference… in the day of someone else or even yourself. Speak kind words to yourself. Have patience and grace. Peace be with you on your journey of enough.