I Asked For It!

Hi Friends! I realize it’s been a very long time. Looking back, my last post was pre-pandemic. Wow, has our world been turned upside down like never before, and each of us has been made to shift and adjust to our own unique sets of circumstances. When the stay-at-home order began here in March, I felt as though someone had yanked the rug out from under me and I was free falling. Can you relate?

I quickly took every opportunity I could to immerse myself in nature. It’s the place I felt safest and most myself. I took so much time going within, meditating on a regular basis to help make some sort of sense of everything going on around me. These days I’m just doing the best I can. I hope you are finding your way too.

This summer, I had hopes of walking the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile pilgrimage across Spain, but the Coronavirus put the kibosh on that. So it will have to wait. As I was looking for a different goal that would keep me moving here at home, I found a virtual version of the Camino that uses an app to track progress and a shiny finisher’s medal upon completion of 480 miles. I thought if nothing else, I’d get an idea of what this distance feels like.

I began the virtual journey May 30th with the very first step…

It’s been a few months and I’ll admit, it’s getting old. How I wish my protesting foot, ankle, knee, hip and back would be cool with running again…it would take so much less time.

I feel like it’s much of the same scenery, even though I try to change up the view. The city is only so big.

And it’s just such a long way.

As of this morning, I’d traveled 292 miles. I was beginning to feel weary knowing I have miles and miles left to go. Today’s goal was 8-10…oof! So I went inward and asked my guides to send me signs to inspire me along the way. Funny, whenever I do this, they never disappoint…be careful what you ask for haha!

By mile 2, this symbol allowed me to set an intention for the rest of today’s miles…to be gentle with myself and keep an open heart and mind. By mile 4, another sign (literally) both tested my will and tickled my funny bone.

Good one, Universe, haha! There would be no ride for me! I kept moving, one step at a time. By mile 4.5, I passed an open garage, intrigued by what I saw, but I continued forward until the 5 mile half way turnaround. Curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped outside that open garage on the return trip. I was so inspired by what I saw, I had to give props!

There, before me was a mini-sized senior version of a CrossFit garage and the guy was killing it! The minute I greeted him, he introduced himself and invited me in! His name is Jim and he’s an 80 year-young retired PE teacher. You guys, 80!!! He happily showed me around his digs he has named Jim’s Gym. With his treadmill pointed toward the beautiful river view, well, I couldn’t love anything more. He has hundreds of photos out there and quickly pointed out family, friends and acquaintances.

And when I caught a gander of this, well, I knew these were exactly the signs I was meant to see this morning. Jim told me as the steps begin to get boring on the dreadmill he looks up at those words. And it dawned on me, those are the same words that are getting me through these 480 miles. It has taken all of those words. The one that drives Jim most is discipline, and I think I will let that be the word that drives me to finish this mission of mine. Because discipline is exactly what this kind of thing requires!

I thanked Jim for inspiring the heck out of me, and he thanked me for stopping to talk. He said our visit was the highlight of his day and to be sure to come back any time. Awww. as I hopped back onto the trail I was lighter than air for part of the remaining 4.5. I’m pretty sure I had a smile on my face the rest of the way.

As I passed that billboard again, I was like NOPE! Reaching home, sheer gratitude for the signs placed before me today. I was given exactly what I needed to complete 10 miles because I simply asked for it. With today’s 10 I’m 302 miles down, 178 to go…I’m getting there!

As I’d been feeling hard into how the actual Camino will be a tougher journey with a moderately heavy pack on my back, and higher daily mileages, I was reminded there will be people like Jim along the way, providing exactly what I need to push forward. I just need to ask for those signs.

Yes Gal!

Once upon a time, several years back, I adopted a new mindset that has vibrantly colored my life nothing short of astounding at times. If you’ve followed me for a while, you may recall some of the many adventures I shared here…none of which would have occurred if not for a single, solitary word. YES!

This mindset was encouraged, in part, by the humorously thought provoking 2008 Jim Carrey film, Yes Man. This movie portrayed a man living a mundane existence until he learned to unleash the power of simply saying YES. The thought intrigued me. What would my life be like if I said YES more often? I admit, I was careful about what I considered because I’d become a big believer in saying no to things that did not serve me. But what if I said YES to opportunities meant to enhance my life?

The crazy part of it all, the more often I said YES to things like running marathons in Honolulu & Washington DC, participating in a 24 hour urban scavenger hunt/adventure race in Vegas, hiking the Narrows of Zion, walking Key West over and over, climbing a mountain here and there…the more these opportunities seemed to seek me out. Here’s a fun example of how this YES mentality worked for me…

A few months back, my neighbor asked if I’d like to accompany her on a business trip to Chicago. An amazing hotel was covered and I’d just need to come up with airfare. There was never a moment of hesitation…the answer was an obvious DUH! And before I knew what hit me, I was on a plane, and the Universe seemed to nod with exulting approval…

In anticipation of the possibilities of this playground, I did some recon before we left. In doing so, I was able to make some preparations to assure our trip’s awesomeness; as soon as we landed, it began to unfold!

Of course, Jane was there to work, so while she was occupied, I jumped into an event I knew I was meant to attend.

Weeks before, I found the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K walk and could already envision myself helping make a difference. Armed with generous American Cancer Society donations contibuted by friends (thanks again!!!), I joined thousands of others that morning with a united aim to put an end to this vicious killer! No need to guess how I felt about it…

It still blew my mind how easily I found myself in the very place I was meant to be in that moment. And how surreal to find myself surrounded by abundant love and a common goal as I walked across the start line.

What a brilliantly perfect way to sightsee!

Before I could even comprehend what happened, I found myself talking with a girl I have no doubt I was meant to meet in this sea of fuschia. Emma and I had an instant connection and spent nearly the entire 3.1 miles sharing our stories and lives. I LOVE when this happens!

Oh how that serendipitous time flew! Lovely to meet you, Emma! As we went our separate ways, I came upon someone else I felt destined to meet.

Melissa is a BADASS WARRIOR SURVIVOR…no other way to describe how she’s chosen to pay forward her struggle. She is the co-director of Ginger The Movie, inspired by her courageous, ongoing battle with breast cancer. I can’t wait to see her movie when it hopefully hits the big screen in my area or shows up on Netflix soon. Friends, keep your eyes open for it!

I was also grateful for the opportunity to sing OOFOS’ praises for the love they’ve shown me over the years. I walked in memory of Duncan Finigan, OOFOS fearless Brand Leader & Marketing Director, creator of Project Pink.

With my heart broken wide open, and my awareness greater than ever, the event came to an end and I was reunited with Jane for some sights and tastes of Chicago…like how can you hit the Windy City without some deep dish?!?

Oh, how we celebrated with a heck of a YES to that pitcher of sangria! Uff-da! Or explore the city without a stop at an icon or two…

And you’ve got to love this chance encounter…imagine me running into a health expo at the church I chose to attend lol! No way I could say no to free acupuncture (I’ve been dying to try) and massage…thanks, Healing Paradise Acupuncture!

And if I hadn’t done my research, I’d never have known my beloved Powell’s in Portland originated from this treasure in Hyde Park…what a fun place for this book addict to play!

Time and again on that trip, I was reminded just how glad I was that Jane invited me (thanks, Jane!) and that I had the good sense to say YES!

My favorite line from Yes Man kept washing over me again and again, “The world’s a playground, but somewhere along the way everyone forgets it.”

That, Friends, is something I refuse to forget! The world is a playground and I just can’t seem to get enough. As I tuck Chicago away in my precious cache of memories, I look onward because I’ve said YES to much more in the near future. I’m preparing for an upcoming trip to Spain in a few weeks and it’s time for this YES GAL to do her homework!

Win-It Wednesday 5th Blogiversary Winners!

Happy Win-It Wednesday, Friends! This marks the end of FIT BFFs’ 5th Blogiversary Giveaway. I’d like to take one last opportunity to thank all you readers who continue to join me throughout this most surreal, healthy lifestyle blogging adventure! And in case you think I’m winding down, don’t go anywhere…because this journey continues to unfold in exciting and unexpected ways. I’m working toward all new goals, education and adventures just around the corner…so stick around!

I am ever-grateful for OOFOS and Rollga’s generous and unwavering support of my endeavors and willingness to partner again and again!

Without further ado, today’s winners are:

Pink Rollga…Kasi!

OOFOS recovery footwear of your choice…Jenny!


I will contact both of you with details.

Thanks to all who entered! If you didn’t win, you will still want to check out Rollga’s website to learn more about their contoured foam rollers and OOFOS’ website to find out how to feel the OO with their recovery footwear!

Trading Fear For Action!

Recently, I took care of some annual business I don’t necessarily enjoy. Just before riding RAGBRAI, I went in for my routine mammogram. You may recall why I experience some anxiety surrounding this simple exam…

Following some previous mammograms, I’ve experienced some adventures I hadn’t bargained for including multiple recall mammograms, ultrasounds, a core biopsy and lumpectomy. None of it fun, but all of it paramount for my ongoing health.

One of the most difficult things about a mammogram for people who’ve had a history such as mine where I doctor? Patients at my clinic are made to wait about a week for results to be mailed. Those can be long days of stress and worry if a person gives it energy. Luckily, I had a seven day bike ride across Iowa to keep my mind off what that piece of mail could potentially say this year…so, well, I was too busy to go there for most of that week.

I was blessed to have ongoing support from a few of my very favorite companies along for this year’s ride. My friends at OOFOS provided me with an incredible care package including a pair of their Project Pink OOriginal sport sandals to allow me to better recover after each long day.

I’d recently visited my friends at Rollga and they provided me with another of their amazing foam rollers to reach and target my road weary muscles.

Not only was I tickled PINK to have both these products along for my continued comfort and recovery, it turned out to be quite a coincidence, I thought, that both beloved companies promote breast cancer awareness through supporting research. For every pair of OOFOS sold, they donate 3% directly toward the Dana-Farber Breast Cancer Research Team. 25% of all proceeds from Pink Ribbon Rollga sales are donated to breast cancer research and awareness programs. Thank you, OOFOS and Rollga!!!

While riding 427ish miles that week, you can imagine I had a lot of time to think! As my mind returned to those pending exam results, I formulated a bit of a mindful strategy going forward. I could choose to spend that week following my mammogram each year waiting for those results with uneasiness and worry, but I feel that gets me absolutely nowhere but stressed. A better choice? I could focus my efforts in a more positive direction, taking cues from companies like OOFOS and Rollga…actively working toward a cure! I thought more about how I could put that second choice into practice, as I found it a much better option than worry!

I finished that week’s event feeling pretty fantastic…my feet and legs were in great shape thanks to daily recovery with OOFOS and Rollga!

I returned home to a letter I received from my healthcare provider stating my mammogram results were normal! PHEW!!! Though I was relieved with that news, I knew I still needed to find my role in making a difference. As I thought off and on about it for the next several weeks, that perfect opportunity surfaced…more about that coming up!

Stay tuned, Friends…you won’t want to miss out!

In the meantime, ladies, the American Cancer Society is now recommending women at average risk of breast cancer should get annual mammograms beginning at age 45. Is it time for you to make an appoinment?

I’m Back!!!

Wow, it’s been a really long time, Friends! If you follow me on Facebook at FIT BFFs, you know I’ve continued to put my best foot forward despite the ridiculousness of a winter we barely survived!

If you’re from around here…well, you just know. Seriously, the kids had like 10 snowdays!!!

I did my very best to stay consistent with strength training at the gym, but my heart was not in it at all. I mean, there were reminders everywhere a person looked that we were all trapped.

I felt as though I was in a dark state of disequilibrium that may have been avoided if one could simply hibernate. If you read my previous post, you know I’ve been dealing with a wide array of new, adventurous hormone curiosities that could potentially lead to insanity. Couple that with a shrinking house due to a year-long houseguest…my zen little crafting getaway/general storage is occupied and its previous contents are strewn throughout the rest of the house. I spent plenty of wasted time feeling literally and completely snowed under…not. even. kidding.

Every time we turned around, there was a new pile to shovel, only where were we even supposed to put the stuff? I actually didn’t mind getting outside and tackling it, because out there, I enjoyed the fresh air, the good vibes and the amazing workout! But, Friends, I was RESTLESS.

A while back I shared with you an upcoming event I was looking forward to, I mean who wouldn’t; it was in Florida! Everwalk Key West was a walking adventure that included 10 miles of walking every morning and Habitat for Humanity hurricane repair every afternoon. Ten miles every morning meant this gal needed to prepare! You may remember how much I loathe the dreadmill, so I trained outside the best I could…

But because there were multiple feet of snow on the ground, I resorted to creativity. My snowshoes afforded me the ability to walk above the drifts while breathing deeply the fresh air I so desperately needed. It became clear what a renewed person I’d become after spending a few hours out there.

It got to the point where the winter fog had lifted each time I escaped outdoors. Tapping into what my body was feeling, I yearned to be outside more and more! Mother Nature’s beckoning became stronger by the minute and I found myself truly embracing that freaking winter wonderland!

I took every opportunity I could find to travel, to change up my surroundings. I took full advantage of my husband’s work conference so I could run away to the woods.

I savored every second of this spacious indoor retreat I had all to myself!

I continued to work out, enjoyed some Tai Chi Chih and yoga on the mezzanine, some snowshoeing across the frozen lake, and a last minute 10 mile practice walk in prep for Key West.

I hit the target mileage, but those all too familiar aches and pains hit back. But no matter, the plan was set into motion as I jetted off to the Sunshine State.

I instantly forgot it was winter when my hotflashes became blow torches. But I barely noticed because paddleboarding!!! I was thrilled to spend some quality time with my twin cousin who loves the great outdoors as much as I do!

And what a perfect place to start training for another upcoming event!

And suddenly I find myself face to face with the morning 10 milers I’d been obsessing about for months, with a host of fellow walkers on the same mission…

What an honor to spend some time walking beside swimming LEGEND Diana Nyad!

Even though it was just walking, it took a heavy toll on my angry knee. So I took a much needed morning to rest in a place I return to again and again in my soul. An enchanting spot to read, reflect, journal and relax. I soaked in hours worth of sunny, cosmic, healing vibes!

I flew home from two weeks of paradise IN a potent snowstorm, telling myself I could easily survive whatever winter had left to dish out. But I quickly lost my warm weather buzz and slid into a familiar slump. I was going through the motions at the gym, tolerating/ignoring my knee’s chronic crabbiness and nearly succumbing to cabin fever. But I continued to force myself outside and soon rekindled my love affair with Old Man Winter. And before I knew it, the snow all but disappeared. It was time to make good on a promise I made my newly 50 year old hub. I agreed to ride RAGBRAI one more time so he could experience it too. A 427 mile ride across Iowa required a better bike than he had, so Happy Birthday to HIM!

I admit, thinking about all that riding scared the crap out of me…I cringed just imagining how my knee was going to wreak its revenge. Again, no matter…we hit the trails immediately!

Within a few weeks, I noticed some profound improvements! Maybe it’s the gorgeous weather, perhaps the piles of new endorphins? And it might have something to do with the magical outdoors…

My mood is markedly more positive, I am EXCITED to get to the gym for the gains, and I can’t believe I’m even about to say this…

With each training ride I assumed would anger my knee more and more it’s, in fact, the opposite!!! I’m feeling stronger, I can put full weight on that leg and the pain I’ve learned to mask for almost three years is GONE! Now if I could just talk my sore behind into enjoying the ride haha!

If this is the knee fix I’ve been looking for, I’m never going to stop biking! I’ve found alignment, Friends, and I eagerly proclaim…I’M BACK!!!


Hi Friends, somehow we are a quarter of the way through this new year and you may have decided I must have fallen off the side of the Earth. I have been absent here for a few months, meandering my way through some uncharted territory in my life. I’ve been off on my own, in an unusual headspace, but I feel strongly compelled to share since yesterday’s International Women’s Day.

See, what I’ve been slogging through these past months is completely female. And though it may have been considered taboo to talk about in past generations, it’s high time we bring about a healthy shift because women can feel lost and hopeless where I find myself right now. We gals need to know what to expect because none of us will escape this thing…and not one of us is alone here.

So where am I? I’ve literally been MIA! But maybe not what you are thinking…I’m smack dab in the throes of Menopause is Activated! When I put it like that, it feels more like a superpower haha! What does it even mean? Means I’ve been dealing with a pile of changes I find difficult to navigate on a daily basis. Had my mom’s generation warned me, I feel confident I would have been better equipped. So let’s start that conversation!

Menopause affects each woman uniquely, so I can only tell you what I’m experiencing…that list is long and unpleasant. I’ve got frequent hot flashes that have me peeling off layers at most awkward moments. I find it difficult to concentrate and find myself forgetting important things. My sleep is abruptly interrupted by night sweats, followed by unfounded anxiety that keeps me wide awake and deposits bags under my eyes the next morning. So I guess that’s why another common symptiom is exhaustion. I’m dealing with headaches, irritability, moodiness…pretty much a feeling of perpetual PMS…ugh. The weight gain I’ve read about on the hips, abdomen and thighs…yup, I’ve got that too. I feel like for me, that’s the result of lack of sleep, general depression and the insatiable hunger trigger of this emotional eater.

These are rough enough, but throw them at a gal and expect her to continue juggling the daily grind, while possibly coping with emotions surrounding a shrinking nest and the continuously unexpected with a smile…seriously?!? Guess that’s why they called it a mid-life crises…makes perfect sense to me. Also guessing that’s why valium aka Mother’s Little Helper was so popular back when they wouldn’t talk about it?

So what the heck is a gal supposed to do? It’s easy to see why this is such a difficult time in a woman’s life! Luckily we have the choice of fight or flight here, and I simply refuse to quietly retreat to a corner and allow this to defeat me. So I fight!

I’m grateful to find relief to many of these issues by remaining physically active. I’ve found exercise to be of great help and relief in improving not only the physical changes but the mental and emotional as well. I’ve thrown in some extra heavy doses of yoga and meditation too for a mindful boost…adding in some of that self care reminds me to love myself. Getting outside to breathe deep is priceless too. Sure, I still have moments when it all feels like too much and I succumb to a full-blown tantrum. That’s a great time to just let the emotions come and let it all go!

So there you have it, kind of a laundry list of why I’ve been MIA lately. Not excuses…just taking some time to gently deal with some of the rites of passage associated with the privilege of being a woman.

I’m reminded how blessed I am to have a spouse that understands what I’m going through and picks up the slack without missing a beat. #rockstarhusband!!! He gets me because I tell him how I’m feeling. Communication!!! I’m grateful to not feel alone…exactly why we all need to talk about this.

Have you found yourself MIA? Do you have any wisdom to impart? Or dealing with something you’d like others to weigh in on? Leave a comment, we could all use some help here!

2018…I Can’t Believe I Did That!

Friends, another year has come and gone and it seems right to look back before moving forward. If you’ve followed me this past year, you know I set an intention to look less at the numbers and more mindfully at the heart of what I was doing. Simply stated, I aimed to change things up, try new things…LOTS of new things. It seemed everywhere I turned I kept coming back to two wise quotes that resonated deeply…

It’s better to look back on life and say, “I can’t believe I did that,” than to look back and say, “I wish I did that.” – Manthan Sharma

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them. – E.J. Lamprey

With those thoughts in mind…I decided I wanted to be able to say, “I did that,” so…I did! Here are a few of those things…

There was blacklight cycling that seemed to shut the entire world off around me…COOL!

Then there was blindfold yoga that had much the same effect, while exponentially raising the difficulty level of my practice.

A Pilates Reformer series really tested my limits and increased my strength in a challenging, refreshing new mode.

Though I was unsure another 13.1 was in my future, I completed Donna’s Half in Jacksonville. Having walked nearly every step, I made peace with knowing my running days are now behind me.

I’ve become the biggest advocate for self-care, enjoying my first facial. Heaven.

Though some classes offered at my gym were well outside my comfort level, I decided that was no reason not to at least try.

I’d been dying to try a new bungee workout forever. I located the only one offered in the US at the time, so I worked a visit to Tough Lotus into my travel. Similar classes are now available much closer to home than Arizona, so I’ll be bouncing around again soon, no doubt!

I’d also been longing to see what all the hype was surrounding goat yoga, so I checked that out while in Arizona too.

And why in the world would I hike Tempe Butte or A Mountain? Well because it was there, of course!

I made it my mission to explore any National Parks that were anywhere near where my travels took me. So imagine my delight when I got to hike down the equivalent of a 75 story building to behold the wonders beneath the ground at Carlsbad Caverns. And because the elevators were out, I got a great workout hiking back up those 75 floors!

I invited a new tradition into the family. Instead of gifts for Mother’s Day…please take me on a hike!

A role for me this year was training buddy as we initiated our son’s fiance into our Tour de Pepin tradition.

I finally took the opportunity to test my balance limits with stand up paddleboard yoga while making some extraordinary new friends!

A trip to San Diego made this serendipitous Cowles Mountain hike a must-do with this outstanding tribe!

And my IDEA World Fitness Conference/Blogfest finally allowed me to meet Chris and Heidi Powell face-to-face…solid gold manifestation for sure!

I never could have imagined how enchanting it would be to dance with my son at his wedding…pinch me!!!

Earlier this year I accepted a position I knew was perfect for me as a program coordinator for the mentoring organization I previously mentored for. I’m ecstatic to have given this job a try and am so fulfilled in what I am doing!

My new job enables me to have a larger impact on our community’s youth while staying connected to my mentee. She and I were blessed to explore three more national parks together…Theodore Roosevelt, Yellowstone and Badlands on an alumni trip to Montana.

Gave a trampoline park a whirl for the first time with my extended family of kangaroos…who says we have to grow up?!?

Continued my education in a most hilarious way. That’s right folks, I’m a certified laughter yoga leader and that’s a laughing matter! I’ve also been spending a LOT of time on the Duo Lingo app learning Spanish for a milestone that’s still a few years out.

I tossed apprehension to the wind and facilitated my first women’s mindfulness retreat, a sacred space to sample a number of modalities. I don’t know about them, but I LOVED it!

An unexpected trip to care for my mother allowed for a quick rendezvous with my soul sister, climbing another mountain in Arizona simply because it was there. Why wouldn’t we?!?

One thing more to include…this has become my most beloved bench. I’ve been here so many times this year to meditate, read, pray, to ponder, breathe and just be. I’ve had several challenges and struggles in 2018, but who hasn’t? Through it all, I’ve found the more I’ve come through, the brighter the sun shines on the other side. I will treasure everything the year has taught and brought and can absolutely say, “I can’t believe I did that!”

It is with a full heart of gratitude that I look onward to what 2019 holds. I will continue to tackle each new day putting my Best Foot Forward!

Happy New Year, Friends!

52 Fridays…Nourish to Flourish

Yup, Friends, it’s totally that time again…52 Fridays! We survived another week and are headed for the weekend! YAY!!!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed so many people running around, stressed to the limit, trying to accomplish their tasks in a hurried frenzy this week. Is that you? Unfortunately, I’m very guilty! It doesn’t even add up for me, as school is out around here…our son is off for the summer, but those summer activities are already in full swing. Somewhere, I missed that notion of relaxed summer days, but I’m about to do something about that!

I’ve learned when I am at this point, to pull back. It’s time to observe the observer…to break it down and get to the heart of the cause. In doing so, I can look around, adjust what needs it and go forward a bit lighter. Refreshed.

That is my sole aim this next week, and it can be yours too!

Take some quiet time for yourself. Breathe. What items on your calendar can you let go for next week to bring yourself back to a more “youer” you? Think about what feeds your soul (maybe take a moment to make a list) and carve out some time for that instead.

It’s impossible to flourish is we are constantly throwing ourselves forward into the next thing, and the next thing…we need time to replenish ourselves. It is not selfish, it’s absolutely necessary! It’s very important to understand, this is not a one-time fix; it’s a constant work in progress.

Friends, this 52 Fridays challenges you to remember what nourishes you because you’ve got to nourish to flourish.

Have a nourishing weekend!


I Still Do!

Today marks 24 years I’ve been married to my BFF! I can’t imagine where in the world I would be without Eric by my side. He’s supported me through every last challenge and struggle I’ve encountered…loved me though them all. He encouraged me every single step throughout my tumultuous road to a healthier, happier me. Truth is, he has loved me unconditionally, whether at my largest or smallest. My size never mattered to him, only my happiness.

As I searched for a quote that sized up this relationship, many resonated, but one stood out today…

“Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite.”

Friends, I’ve recently been reminded again and again of a story I shared over a year ago.

Funny how a symbol of love can mean so many different things throughout a relationship. At this moment back in February 2017 is was far more than a token of our love…it was also a great metaphor for the repaired, resized, restored new me (and we).

If you missed it, check out my greatest NSV-non scale victory of my transformation journey…that gift is still very much giving here.

Happy Anniversary, Babe!

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!