Annual Vacation NOT the Same Old Same Old!

Friends, I just came off our annual family lake vacation more energized than ever before! We’ve been driving up to the Alexandria, MN area for 24 years, many of which exhausted me…I usually returned home feeling like I needed a vacation from my vacation. Does that make sense?

It used to be a crazy week for me when the kiddos were younger, making sure we packed everything, keeping them from drowning or hooking each other with their fishing rods, keeping up with their unlimited energy and filling each moment with unforgettable memories…kind of like being the activities director. I suffered burnout every year. And I’m just going to say that a week is a lot of together time for our tribe!

Luckily, seasons change, kids grow and I wised up.

This year it finally hit me…the only person’s activities I needed to direct were my own, so I aimed a very different direction that made all the difference!

A solo five mile walk around Lake Moses was refreshing. The birds serenaded and the breeze coaxed me forward while the water beckoned…ahhhhh.

A trip into town treated me to a relaxing energy work/intuitive reading/massage session. Another soulful way to spend some me time.

I stopped to enjoy coffee and conversation with someone I heard astounding things about…thanks, Fr. Darin!

I treated myself to a ridiculously expensive, playful dress for my son’s upcoming wedding…a dress that shouts FUN (kind of like me haha)!!!

I took time for the things that feed my soul…catching nearly every awe-inspiring sunrise.

And oh, those sunsets. And while my family continued to do all the things they do on vacation, I set out to try a few new things…like marking SUP yoga off my bucket list with the extraordinary instructor, Karen of Kosha Wellness at the Lake Carlos Marina.

 

That experience only lasted 90 minutes, but it will be etched on my heart forever! Namaste.

 

I’ve never taken time to explore my passions during this annual vacation quite like this year. Do you know what happens when I do? I find fascinating new FIT BFFs that feel like old friends…how amazing to be able to vibe on this tribe! Loved meeting you, Nikki, Siw and Karen; can’t wait to do it again!

Sure, I spent some time with the fam…

But I took things slower, calmer, quieter…

Watching my kids (and soon-to-be daughter-in-law) grow even more independent, yet enjoying the inner child within each of them.

I made the annual F Day dessert to honor the dads in the bunch, while still missing my own dad fiercely.

So much so, I decided to treat my wounded heart to a healing session with Debra at Soul Harvest & Healing.

My time spent with her was the best gift I could’ve given myself. I feel like crying all over again (in a good way) just thinking about what happened in that sacred space.

Before I knew it, the week was over…

It was time for one last paddle around Lake Aaron to bid my beloved playground a fond farewell… reminiscing over a beautiful, wonderful week of new beginnings.

I can’t wait until next year!

52 Fridays…It’s All in How You Look at It!

I’m running a bit behind this week, as I wrap up one week of travel and look toward the next. It’s Friday again, Friends! Another opportunity to settle in, get comfortable and breathe.

This week’s 52 Fridays takes a look at the idea that life is constantly changing, whether we like it or not. Within a lifetime, we go through countless beginnings and endings. Take some time to consider what’s going on in your life. Are you finding yourself at the end of a chapter or chapters? Does this feel good for you or does it fill you with trepidation? Are you prepared to move forward?

If you look deeper, does it appear to be not just an end, but a new beginning of sorts? If we take time to consider that endings are merely the start of something new or different, we can begin to feel excited about the upcoming chapters of our stories.

If we can learn to put a more positive spin on life’s surprises, those tricky transitions that once felt unsettling can begin to find you gliding over calm waters. It takes practice, but soon you’ll be turning those stormy seas into smoothe sailing.

Shifting perspective in such a way is one more great way to put our Best Foot Forward.

52 Fridays…Because You’re Worth It!

Yay for us, Friends, we made it to another 52 Fridays! Forget about what craziness might be going on around you. Take a moment to stop thinking about your to-do list…you deserve a little me time! So grab that beverage, journal, pen, cozy into that chair and let’s just breathe!

If you’ve been around here long, you know how I feel about the myriad of things that are vying for our time and attention. I’ve learned that I don’t need to say yes to every volunteer opportunity, I can let events and happeneings pass me by. Really, it’s okay! Because in doing so, I have more time to come back to me, to regain focus, clarity, balance.

Take some time to pinpoint and record the things you prioritize on a daily/weekly/monthly basis…are YOU included in that mix? If yes, good for you…keep it up! If not, what things on that list can you let go? What would you do for yourself if you had a bit more time to focus on you?

Friends, I PROMISE it’s not selfish to love and care for yourself, to prioritize your happiness…it’s a basic need! Once you accept that, look out…your life is about to change in ways that will astound you. Why? Because you are worthy!

52 Fridays…Expect the Wonderful

Are you like me? Did your week go by so fast you feel like your head is spinning? I can’t, for the life of me, figure out where it went! This is a crazy-busy, insanely-paced time of year for me, but I know it’s only for another week until school is done. I’m only thinking good thoughts as I attempt to keep up!

And that thought brings me to today’s episode of 52 Fridays! I’ve got my beverage, journal and pen readied, I’m cozied into my chair and ready to explore this week’s idea. Come along!

It fits right into this time of year for many. Back when I was living a much unhealthier lifestyle, weeks like these would tear me apart. Why? It was all in my way of thinking. I was always on guard…just waiting for and expecting the next bad thing to happen. And do you know what? That’s exactly what happened because that was what I had my brain trained to look for. How depressing is that?!?

Let’s examine your way of thinking. Do you worry? Are you just waiting for the next thing to break or to derail your day or life? If so, how does that feel? For me it was downright exhausting, until I made a mindful change. It took me some time to shift my thinking, but once I did, I was able to recognize that feeling, adjust my thoughts and let the negative go. I can tell you it has made a world of difference in my life. And I’m sure my drop to a normal blood pressure has much to do with this more positive way of thinking.

If you don’t already, could you shift your thinking to expecting the positive instead? What does that look like for you? Take a few moments to try it on for size, then notice how you feel? Jot down those thoughts and feelings. Want to make an even bigger impact? It will take some effort, but put it do daily practice! You will be surprised at what happens…I promise!

If you only expect the wonderful, look out…here it comes!

Growing Around the Grief

Growing up, my parents taught me a LOT about gardening. They grew an impressive vegetable garden each year and included me in every aspect of its growth. I’m grateful to have learned the process. So much so, that I’ve carried the practice into my adult life. I’d like to say I’m half the gardener they were, but maybe someday I’ll get there.

Our family’s time-honored tradition of planting occured every year between May 14th-21st for reasons I’ll get to in a minute. I wanted to follow this rule, but was incredibly busy all week in preparation of some pretty important events.

Our family is growing. Hitting me square in the feels, our oldest son Logan arrived smack-dab into adulthood Friday night, graduating from the Mayo Clinic’s Paramedic Medicine Program. That sweet little heart of a boy has grown so much and is ready to save the world one person at a time!

And the family is growing in other directions too…Saturday afternoon, my amazing mother-in-law did an exquisite job of helping me shower Logan’s fiance in a lovely manner. We will soon be adding this beautiful young woman, Anna, into our tribe. Again with the feels, Friends!

So yesterday I needed to decompress, to let it all sink in how quickly this precious life goes by. I found myself out in that garden…boy did that thing need attention to get it planted by my deadline.

See, we used the May 14th-21st span because the frost is generally done by then, an easy rule of thumb for us to remember because those dates are my brother and dad’s birthdays. My dad’s birthday was rolling around again, this the 7th year we’d celebrate without him. These special days so hard to get through, yet I’ve grown, Friends, and I had a plan to observe this year a bit differently.

I’m stronger these days, more grateful for EVERYTHING! I couldn’t help focusing on that gratitude yesterday as I rototilled with the tiller my dad gave me when he stopped gardening. Couldn’t help feeling him holding on because the thing is a BEAST! I planted all my seed vegetables yesterday but saved the seedlings for today.

I purchased my plants just as it began to rain. Drat! But do you know what? I was so determined to finish planting by the 21st that I did it in the rain. He’s probably the one up there who made it rain anyway…he was quite the jokester and why would now be any different. Instead of feeling the familiar heaviness in my heart, I smiled.

I wore one of his favorite shirt jackets, played a playlist of all the songs just like he used to play on the organ, and I got it done. On time! The birds we both love were out there singing too…it was as if he was right there with me, and we had a ball. I can’t wait to watch this garden grow and think he had something to do with it. This felt like the perfect way to spend his day.

Birthdays have always been very special in our family. I look back to one of the last we celebrated with him, and gratitude hits me square in the heart again…

I came upon a video on Facebook the other day that best illustrates how we grieve; it made HUGE sense to me. Check it out here.

I wanted to share it with any of you missing a loved one so much it hurts. As I think back to the pain of missing this guy these past seven birthdays, yet moving forward with an abundant, happy life, it makes perfect sense. I’m growing around the grief.

Happy 82nd Lotus Conrad, thanks for being there today!

 

 

52 Fridays…Self Talk

Yup, Friday again, Friends and time for 52 Fridays! Grab that journal, pen, soothing beverage and cozy into your favorite space to relax.

I’d like to start a conversation about the way we talk to ourselves. Last summer I spent some time in the wild with a dear friend that picked up on something I didn’t even realize I was doing. Not only was I speaking negatively about myself, I was doing it aloud.

I’m so glad she was kind enough to tell me I’m too hard on myself…I never noticed! But I sure pay attention to it now!

Friends, here’s your 52 Fridays topic…

Are you unkind to you? Do you speak negatively to yourself? Are you tougher on yourself than on anyone else? You may want to take a few moments to simply breathe and be, then begin to listen to what that little voice inside is saying. Is it kind? Jot it down if you feel so inclined. Start paying closer attention. Think about if you’d tell your friends the same things, because…”If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.” -Jane Travis.

Friends, this continues to be something I know I need to work on. I’m grateful this lady noticed I was not being a friend to myself. We know how important kindness is, so let’s choose to begin with ourselves…one more way to put our Best Foot Forward!

Have a beautiful weekend!

 

52 Fridays…Saying Yes to You!

Happy 52 Fridays, Friends! I’m cozied in with my coffee, journal, my sentimental Paper Mate pen, wrapped in a fuzzy blankie and ready to dive into this week’s thought…come along and join me!

This is a crazy-paced time of year for me; do you feel that way too? My planner is bulging with engagements and events…more so than ever before, there is simply a lot going on in my life right now.

I’ve learned long ago to analyze every activity of its relevance, to determine if it serves or sinks me. But in looking at my current schedule, there is nothing I’m willing to let go…all of it IMPORTANT! There’s Moms’ Night Out (I NEED/WANT this), Mother’s Day (I have THREE moms to honor), two bridal showers for my soon-to-be daughter-in-law, my older son’s college graduation, my brother’s birthday, my younger son’s last band concert of the school year, and then there is work…none of it I’d want to give up because I LOVE my job…all of this within the next 10 days! Oh, and I can’t forget workouts…those are non-negotiable!

Seriously, this is my schedule pared down, but I know things will calm down soon; many of these are major life happenings that don’t occur often. My calendar used to be insanely packed full of other stuff…of school, church and community volunteer commitments and distractions, plenty of extra days and nights each week of work responsibilities in a job that sucked the life out of me, mindless shopping trips to pacify my stressed spirit…it was beyond exhausting that kept me literally running from one thing to the next. Do you find yourself in a similar pattern?

I’ve learned a little word that has made all the difference; do you know that word of which I speak? I used to worry about what other people would think if I said it, wondered if they saw me as insolent, disconnected, uncaring. Do you know what? That simple word that SAVED me…

Are you drowning in a schedule that doesn’t serve you? Can you look through your upcoming calendar and find things that have little or nothing to do with you that are there because you said yes to other people…in effect, saying no to YOU? I challenge you to dig deep on this installment of 52 Fridays, to find and sound your voice with one word that will give YOU a break…

It’s time to say NO! Which is saying YES to YOU!

Take some time to sit with your journal, consider what commitments, responsibilities, engagements and events you can release to bring yourself closer to you.

52 Fridays…What Floats Your Boat?

Yup, it’s that time again already! Grab that journal, favorite pen, soothing beverage and settle in for a few moments devoted solely to YOU!

When my kids were young, I spent WAY too much time in stores. I busied myself looking for the latest and greatest. Shopping was a filler back then…it filled my time, the result filled my home, yet it never quite filled the void. Funny, when I think about it now, I was looking for something that couldn’t be found in any store. Can you relate?

These days, the last thing I want is things. I’ve made this mindful shift…

How does this idea hit you? Try it on for size. Would you rather collect things or memories and experiences. Why? No answer is wrong here! But look deeper within the why and you’ll get closer to comprehending what makes you tick, what truly feeds you. Take some time to reach further into this idea, Friends. Taking time to understand self is an amazing way to put our Best Foot Forward!

 

 

I’m Springing Into Motion!

Friends, I’m outside, smiling for a reason today! I’ve been back to my regular fitness/nutrition regimen for a solid week and I’m feeling pretty good about that! If you’ve been following me a while, you know I’m pretty notorious for hitting a wall (or being hit by one), so to speak, picking myself up, checking to be sure everything is in working order, then aiming myself toward forward progress. I refuse to quit on ME!

My nature has become quite like that Japanese Proverb, “Fall seven times, get up eight.” I’ve probably blogged at least seven of those “falls”…death of a loved one, trauma injuries sustained in an auto accident, multiple failed mammograms, biopsy, surgery, hospitalized family members, sports injuries, chronic pain…I could go on, you get the idea.

Lots of people have asked how I continue to push forward despite each fall or wall. What motivates me? All kinds of things, but I keep coming back to working through simple, short-term challenges. One I find on the internet, something a friend mentions, or one offered by my husband’s employee wellness program…anything that sparks my interest is worth a shot!

So I’m back on point with my fitness and nutrition for a week, and I’m determined to keep going, I’ve kept my eyes and ears open for that next little spark. As luck would have it, I’m beginning one today. It’s an extremely simple idea encouraged at Eric’s work called Spring Into Motion.

So between today and June 10th, I’ll be walking every day with an aim of 10,000 or more daily steps. Simple. Doable. Employees who participate and complete an evaluation at the end receive $25. I, as a spouse, earn nothing…unless you look further. Not only will I receive the health benefits, this is something that will get my husband moving too, something we can enjoy together. I’ll enlist the help of friends to keep me company too and will reward myself at the conclusion with some much-needed new shoes because there will be nothing left to these when I am done!

So I’m almost to my 10,000 steps already today. I made some time for a couple laps around one of my favorite trails and enjoyed the balmy fresh air and new life associated with spring…

Kind of symbolic…it’s a new beginning for me too!

Friends, think about what things drive you, motivate you to push forward, then implement a new one or more to get moving. Let’s ALL Spring into Motion!!!

 

52 Fridays…Taking Care of Me

Happy 52 Fridays, Friends! I don’t know about you, but for me, these weeks seem to be flying at warp speed. I lost control of my schedule for a bit and had to dial it back. In doing so it brought me straight to this week’s journal prompt!

I’ve got today off, totally and completely off. No work, no kiddo responsibilities…the day is mine. I spent some extra time doing things that ground and center me earlier this morning. I got to the gym for a mighty workout, then treated myself to a redbox rental of MY choosing) for later. I’ve got my coffee and am settled in to really digest today’s thought…

In doing what I’ve done this morning, I’ve got a great start on taking care of myself today. I’ve cozied into my chair and my journal is all set for some exploration. How about you?

Friends, do you ever consciously make time to care for yourself in ways that recharge your body, mind and soul? If so, good for you…it truly is GOOD FOR YOU! Keep it up!

Many of us are so consumed in caring for everyone else that we loose sight of our own needs. By the time we shows signs of overwhelmedness, we are well, well past due for any and all self care.

So whether you are at the mastery level or the me? I’m supposed to take care of me??? level, think about what it means to you, this notion of caring for yourself. What things do or can you do for you that encourage renewal, peace and calm. How often do you actually do these things? If you had the time, if your only goal for a day was to care for yourself, how would that look?

If you find you are too busy to fit you in your schedule, how can you shift things around to make you a priority.

Well, that’s a whole lot to think about. I’m off to prepare one of my favorite healthy lunches before I enjoy some creative artsy-fartsy fun I don’t prioritize nearly as often as I should…but maybe that’s about to change.