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.

Win-It Wednesday OOFOS Black Glitter Winner

Happy Win-It Wednesday, Friends! I want to take this opportunity to thank the generous folks at OOFOS for their unwavering support in my endeavors and providing today’s amazing giveaway prize…thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!

I’m excited to announce the lucky winner of the Black Glitter OOlala Luxe Sandals is…

Congratulations to Patty!

I will email you for shipping details, Patty.

Thank you to all who entered. If you did not win but are looking for the ultimate in support and sport recovery relief, you can treat your feet…pop on over to OOFOS website right away so you can feel the OO too!

This FIT BFF is here to tell you, OOFOS is one of the best ways I know to put our Best Foot Forward!

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!

 

 

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.

I Choose FIGHT!

For those of you new to my story, I’ll bring you up to speed. In 2012 I began a journey that saw me through a significant weight loss, and more exciting, a tremendous life transformation.

I’ve been on this wild ride for almost six years and I’ve experienced a multitude of highs and lows. Keep in mind, I’d previously gained and lost weight throughout my adult life…more like a roller coaster than the yoyo thing, really.

So my history was to lose the weight and then, for whatever circumstances, gain it back, plus more. It was a cycle that left me more ashamed and further defeated each time. Until 2012!

This time was different…SO different! I didn’t just focus on the food this time, so not only did I have the support of a dietitian, but I regularly met with a trainer and a health coach. Work in these areas were key to my lasting success…know how I know? Though I’ve gained back some of that weight over a longer period of time, I’m continually turning toward the issues instead of away from them. Here’s what I mean…

I’ve been taught to mindfully pick apart my behaviors, to pinpoint what needs to be fine-tuned. So lately I’ve noticed that creep on the scale, trending in the wrong direction. I’ve found myself feeling uncomfortable in my own skin again. In the past, I would consider these failure, I’d further busy myself with distraction, give up on me, and proceed to emotionally eat myself back to where I started and beyond.

One of my key, lifelong struggles has been to try to do it all. I know that when my calendar is relatively clear, I’m more in tune with myself. But as soon as I take on too much, spread myself too thin, that whole busyness thing…well, my progress collapses.

Now that I’ve been equipped to pull back and observe self, I’ve noticed some areas I need to revisit to hone a more positive outcome. Number one, I looked at my recent schedule to find there has been a ton of travel combined with a new job and countless epic things going on with my kids…none of it bad, but I have to retool to find myself in all of it, to regain the balance I know is just right there!

Number two, my diet has been off the rails. Am I seriously still dealing with this struggle?!? I could list the reasons, but they would quickly appear a simple laundry list of excuses. It is what it is. I’m on day three of journaling my food and although I hate it more than almost anything, this has to be another big priority for the time being. No excuses!

And number three, though I’m good about staying active, it’s time to refocus those efforts. Again, lots of reasons…frequent injury/arthritis associated pain, the onset of menopause kicking my ass, the reality that I’m older than I was when I started this journey…again, these could be looked at merely as excuses. I’m not going to give up because in doing so, it will all get worse! I’ve been fruitlessly arguing with myself over this part for too long…what a waste of time and energy!

I’ve considered returning to work with a trainer for a while. My strength training has become less and less and I realize it is KEY if I want to turn everything around. I stopped meeting with Kasi about 18 months ago to finally aim for autonomy; when it became clear the ship was sinking on my own, there was only one thing to do. I’ve committed to meeting with her once a month to buoy me back up to a place I can confidently breathe. If I employ that higher level of watching the watcher, I see that this is not failure, this is survival at its best!

Yesterday was our first session back together. My previous apprehension about it is gone. I know I made the right choice. Friends, we can either wallow in the poor me, I can’t do this hard thing alone flight response, or bite the bullet, ask for help, grab someone’s hand and courageously choose to fight together.

Though it can be so, so tough…I’m renewing my vow to choose FIGHT from here on out. Forward really is the only option, an important way for me to put my Best Foot Forward.

52 Fridays…3 For 1

Happy, Happy Friday, Friends! I’ve been so busy diving into my new job, attempting to keep up with my teenage son’s jam-packed activity calendar and embracing the last few snowfalls to the fullest. Well, something had to give, and I’m sorry to say I’m pretty behind on 52 Fridays posts. So today, to bring us current, I’m offering a 3 for 1!

For those of you participating, grab a favorite beverage, settle into that favorite chair, dust off that journal and let’s get back to that journaling adventure of you! I’ll post three quotes this week; work with them however you like, whether that means examining all three in one sitting or chunking it up into three separate sit-downs…it’s totally up to you. Also, I’m going to make this week’s journaling exercise a freestyle…minimal commentary, just the quotes to spark your thinking and exploration. Without further ado…

I couldn’t help chosing that one in light of my new job and recent travels. I picked this next one in observance of Tax Day…

And finally, because nature is constantly beckoning, not just on Earth Day…

There you go, Friends, a 52 Fridays 3 for 1! Try these thoughts on for size and let your pen reveal what comes up for you.

Review: Latest Bedding’s Black Bear Lodge Quilt Set

Hey Friends, I’d love to share a fun little story with you! I should start by telling you how much I LOVE my bed. You know that feeling when you travel, how you long to be back in the comfort of your own bed? Well that’s exactly my point…my bed is my sanctuary.

Several weeks back while making my bed, I thought how frumpy my bedding looked…that since we’d had it nearly as long as our oldest son (the almost 21 year-old), because it was beginning to show its age, I should think about updating. And because of how the universe works for me lately, just a few days later I was asked to review one of Latest Bedding’s quilt sets. I was just heading out for another of my adventures when it shipped, so it arrived while I was exploring Arizona. You know, I love the outdoors, right? There was this great mountain in downtown Tempe that beckoned, so of course I had to check it out!

It was a whirlwind couple of weeks. I kept thinking, as great as it all was, I couldn’t wait to get back home to my own bed! Better yet, I knew there was a certain package that required my immediate attention. I couldn’t wait to see the Black Bear Lodge Quilt Set and Black Bear Lodge Pillow Pair Latest Bedding generously provided for my review. I should mention, they pre-selected this quilt set for me, but after exploring their site, I have to admit, it’s the very one I would have chosen for myself…I mean there goes the universe again right?!?

I admit, I was hesitant in ordering the full/queen size quilt, as I feared it wouldn’t be wide enough to adequately cover my queen mattress, but it was the perfect size! I also noticed the use of the word quilt in this case refers more to the fact that the fabric has lots of embellished stitching, but is not the thick, warm weight I was expecting. But as it turns out, that is a very good thing because I was sad to think I’d be replacing my favorite down comforter…I get to use both…win/win!

The pillow shams are a great weight for decor, the pillow pair is the perfect accent, and together, this well constructed set makes my room pop!

The minute I finished assembling the new ensemble, I stepped back knowing this bed set was so ME!!! Know how I knew? Because this weekend I was back out there again, embracing Mother Nature’s glory…

A quick trip to the beautiful woods of northern Minnesota had me breathing deep, receiving all those amazingly good vibes! Yeah, of course I hugged a tree or two haha!

As spectacular as it all was, I was right back to that familiar yearning…to get back home to the comfort of my favorite retreat. But this time, upon returning home, I couldn’t help smiling when I realized I have my favorite parts of nature’s beauty all right there…the wildlife, mountains, trees and those good vibes all right here…ahhhhh.

This set couldn’t have been more perfect than if I had picked it myself. But I know the Black Bear Lodge set isn’t for everyone. That’s why you should stop on over to the Latest Bedding’s website to look for yourself…there’s something there for everyone to create a comfortable refuge that is just so THEM!

 

 

 

52 Fridays…Breathe

Happy 52 Fridays, Friends! Have you been experiencing times lately where you are so stressed, when you stop to think, you aren’t even breathing? Well then, grab that journal and breathe! Take a few moments to relax, breathe deeply!

Consider those times you may find yourself holding back your breath in anxiety, frustration, disappointment, struggle. What would happen if, when you find yourself in those moments, you take a step back and breathe?

Is there a time or place you associate with peace? When I’m in one of the moments mentioned above, if I’m able to recognize it, I not only breathe, I try taking myself to one of those places. Here’s an image I go to regularly…

Jot some thoughts down in your journal regarding those moments you realize you’re holding your breath. When you find yourself there, take that breath. Where can you journey to in your heart, mind and soul? If you have a few places in mind, at the ready, you can escape nearly any situation, any time, Friends…give it a try! It really can be this simple to put your Best Foot Forward!