Planning ahead

I’m a planner, organizer, map-maker, scheduler, problem solver, detail oriented kind of person.  Give me a situation, and I’ll figure a way through it.   I’m not afraid to ask for help and input, but it’s all part of the strategy to get to the finish line.  And boy, howdy, do I have some things on my plate right now I’m working through!

Coming up in just a couple of weeks, I’m heading to Seattle for an MRKH Conference.  I’ll be gone for a few days, so I’m working on the plans to get everything done at home in my absence, coordinating with other MRKH sisters who will be attending, securing my air mattress plans with Helen, and working out activity schedules for the touristy day I’ll spend with friends.  Planning out a day with friends involves everything from outlining itineraries, ferry schedules, and parking options, to places to eat, things to see, time to rest and sleep!  While I have been to several MRKH meet ups, lunches and dinners and fun times with MRKH sisters, I haven’t been to an organized conference before…so this is somewhat new territory for me.  But I’m super excited, because some of my closest MRKH sisters will be attending too – ones I haven’t actually met in person yet, so I’m excited to be hugging their necks for the first time very soon!

Also, happening right now in my life…my in-laws are moving to Idaho from out of state.  More specifically, they are moving IN with us temporarily. Over the past couple of months they have been making trips up here with their “stuff”.  Some has been unloaded and put in storage in our barn and other storage sheds and trailers – and some has just been parked on our property.  My driveway is starting to get complicated with all the trailers and other vehicles things parked along the edges! Let’s just hope that no one has to leave in a big fat hurry…or they might just back into something!  This week marks their final big load of belongings coming up to be stored before their current house closes and they make the final trek up to Idaho.  They are in the process of buying a place up here in Idaho that has been in the same family since the 1800’s.  The seller has run into a little snag with deed transfer a couple of generations back, so they are working to resolve that little hiccup, but we hope to have it all sorted out by the end of the week – or at least a plan and timeline to get it resolved.  Once the sale is complete, then my in-laws will be completely updating and remodeling the house before moving in.  In the mean time…my little house is going to be bursting at the seams!  I’ve been busily trying to de-clutter and make a bit of room in the spare room so they don’t feel quite so claustrophobic in there!  I’ve taken a few loads of things to the thrift store already,  but I’m guessing there will be another load or two before the end of the month.  It’s a good reason to purge the stuff I’ve just been storing for the past 20 years!

It’s summer time here of course – but that means at my job the students are mostly gone.  It’s a time when I can get caught up on projects, tie up loose ends, and prepare for the students to return in August.  We do lots of planning ahead in my job anyway, often we are thinking about our needs 2 semesters from now!  I plan out and strategize on a yearly calendar…and I’ve already got my 2018 calendar drafted out!  I’ve been doing lots of document updates, list corrections, and follow up tasks scheduled as the semester gets closer and closer each day.  We will be ready to literally hit the ground running when the students get back in less than a month! Eeeek!

When I return from Seattle, I’ll be spending some much needed time in the soap room, organizing and preparing for some fall craft shows.  I need to make a few more batches of soap, but first I need to trim and store the ones that have been drying for a couple of months now so I have shelf space!  I also have to get busy and plan to spend some time canning tomatoes!  I buy lovely organic tomatoes at the farmers market every year and do a years worth of canning in August and September every year.  I love the look of a full pantry!!!  And while the long hot days of canning seem exhausting – having them the rest of the year is well worth the time spent!  And I bet my mother-in-law will be anxious to help in the process this year too!  Blanche, peel, pack and repeat!  I usually do whole tomatoes, Italian stewed tomatoes, plain tomato sauce, salsa, enchilada sauce, and pizza sauce…I know, it sounds like a ton of work – and it is….but the reward is priceless.

Our women’s ministry group at church is always busy planning something.  We are getting ready to launch our latest service project of creating baby boxes for local women’s shelters and food banks.  We meet once a month for a Ladies Night In to visit, plan, do some bible study, and just spend time in fellowship.  I’m co-hostessing our August get together, and we’re planning a tea party!  It should be great fun, and the perfect way to wrap up our mid-summer before school starts back up.

So what are you planning these days? What are your favorite resources when you are planning an event or project?

Girl Time

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve begun to accept that I can’t get through this life without my girlfriends.  They are there for me time and time again, even when I think I don’t need them…I really do!  And in the last few months in particular, I have made a conscious effort to make girl time a priority.  And my SOUL appreciates it!  No really, it is more important…vital…than I ever expected it to.  I need to laugh, I need to talk, I need to listen, I need to connect on a level that no one quite gets – except my girlfriends.   And you know what, my girlfriends need this too.

This past weekend I did my annual first craft show of the year.  Stress, long hours, hard work, a booth neighbor with migraine inducing lights shining RIGHT IN MY FACE, and hours and hours of talking with the public.  But at the end of the day, I got some much needed girl time with my dear friend Yvonne.  We got caught up on our lives, we talked about snow and spouses, we talked about firewood and flooding, and we laughed and cried a little, drank some wine and had some really good long hugs!

Also last weekend, my best friend on the planet, Eileen sent me a text – Hi Honey, how are you?  Are you ok?  My BFF-ESP kicked in….  Awww…how does she always know???  Because she knows me so well, and we really are connected soul-deep.  I assured her I was fine, told her about the craft show, the lights, and the girl time.  We set a phone call date for Tuesday.  On Tuesday we laughed and got caught up on the last week or so, talked about spouses and work obligations, summer plans, we laughed and cried a little, we talked about priorities and standing up for myself.  We made plans to talk again next week.

And also last weekend, we had Girls Night In at church.  Its our new women’s ministry group where we host a monthly get together for ourselves and women in the community.  We laugh and play crazy games.  We spend some time in the sanctuary talking about God and the role of women in the bible, and in our lives.  We eat fabulous food, and we laugh and talk and pray.  This month we also planted flowers to celebrate spring, and talked about some options for service projects – and you know what came out as the favorite idea?  Working with organizations to support disadvantaged women and children in our area.  Not sure what that will look like exactly – but I’m sure some “drive” of some sort to collect things women and children need – diapers, clothes, feminine hygiene products, toys, blankets, and the like.  I’m excited to work with my friends over the next few months to make a difference in some local lives.   Working on projects together brings us all closer – to each other, and to God.   When we are serving others, we are serving God.

And while I wasn’t able to participate because of my craft show, this past weekend was also another fabulous gathering of girlfriends in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was MRKH Day  – A day of Education, Sharing, and Support for people with MRKH.  This special day is sponsored by the OB/GYN department, Gynecology division of Michigan Medicine In cooperation with Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.  A full day of MRKH information and support…for those of us with MRKH and our parents and partners.  The full day conference event is followed by an evening social – you know, the after party!  I haven’t had a chance to attend an MRKH conference yet, but from all the reports of those who attend…they are incredible.  While we all enjoy the online support groups, Facebook friends, and the incredible opportunities for “instant support” we can find on the internet – nothing quite compares to meeting another MRKH woman in person – and a whole house full of them….MIND.BLOWN.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I LOVE my local girlfriends…wine, chocolate, giggles, tears, talks, phone calls, texts, the whole shebang…but when you have something in your life like MRKH…well, you’re always just a little detached from all the other women in the room.  You can’t quite relate to the period talk, or the parenthood talk, or the grandchild stories – and how in the world can they truly relate to us?  They try…with valiant effort…they ask thoughtful questions and try to understand my perspective…but they don’t quite get it.

The first time I got to meet another MRKH woman face to face, 3 of us got together for dinner.  It was effortless – we instantly connected and could relate to each other just like life long friends.  We laughed, talked about diagnosis and treatment, life choices and having our choices taken away.  It’s been close to 3 years since that encounter….I’ll let Jen tell it, as I think she summed it up perfectly!  I’ve met up with others since then a handful of times.  And each time it’s the same kind of instant connection.  And each time I spend some girl time with MRKH women, I heal just a little bit more.

That’s what girl time is about I think – it’s restorative.  It’s a chance to look at life from different angles….share the heavy burdens….get some insight from trusted friends.  While I love my husband and family dearly, and love to spend time with them – nothing quite compares to girl time.

I’ll leave you with this song by the incomparable Reba McEntire – it’s a new favorite!



Woe is me

I think it happens to us all.  Things don’t go like we think they should…and we get caught up in the spiraling self pity bubble.

It can be triggered by almost anything, and once it starts, it can escalate so quickly into a full blown pity party before you even notice.  Self doubt, feeling sorry for yourself, everyone is against you, nothing goes right, traffic sucks, you get a flat tire, you trip over something, your alarm doesn’t go off, insomnia strikes, you spill your coffee, someone ate the last cookie…doesn’t matter what starts it…pretty soon you are that bratty little 4 year old who is throwing a tantrum just because you can.

Man, have I been there.  And even while I know the tantrum is an overreaction – I’m so invested by this point that I won’t stop just on principle.  I’m stubborn that way – ask my husband!

This week has kind of been this way.  It’s the perfect storm, all the planets align, if it could go wrong, it probably will…and go!

  • busy schedule at work – check!
  • fighting a cold off – check!
  • mortgage payment due – check!
  • snow and ice – check!
  • tired – check!
  • dog collar breaks – check!
  • tire goes flat – check!
  • hormones kick in for extra drama – check!
  • -4 degrees in the morning – check!
  • drop your phone on carpet and crack the screen – check!

One or two of those things, and you can probably deal, right?  But get hit with a bunch of them…or all of them…in the span of a couple of days and a full blown pity party strikes.

I start to question everything, I start justifying old habits and behaviors, I lash out at people, I burst into tears, I curse the unfairness of it all.  I stomp around and slam doors.  I say things I know I shouldn’t.  All because I feel sorry for myself.  Because obviously, it’s all my fault.  It’s all the result of my poor choices, and I’m getting exactly what I deserve for doing what I did.  I should have done this…I could have done that…I shouldn’t have done it, but I did it anyway.  My emotional side is vindicated…proven correct…totally justified in my reactions and the resulting consequences.  I got what I deserved.

Sigh…but my brain and my heart  know better.  Sure, these things happened…but it’s not worth the response I’ve given it.  It’s just stuff that happened – I didn’t do anything to cause it all to happen – and I need to not make it into more than it is – my reaction needs to be less than or equal to the action.  I need to exercise self control, and make rational choices.  Pretty much – I need to get over myself.

But it’s hard…it’s much easier to feel sorry for yourself, and pout like a 4 year old who was told (again) he couldn’t have a cookie.  I mean, we all want that cookie, even if we know it fell into the dirt – because it’s a COOKIE with magical powers to make the world a better place! It’s not rational to expect the cookie to have magical powers, and it’s not rational to eat a cookie that has fallen in the dirt, and it’s hard to pull yourself out of the self-pity bubble.

As I’ve been wallowing around trying to find my way back to sanity, I know that it’s not nearly as bad as all that.  I know I didn’t cause all this “stuff” to happen.  I’m not being punished for some deed.  It’s just life, and how I respond to adversity builds character and strength.  I can be a bratty 4 year old and feel sorry for myself and hope that someone will come along and show me some compassion, wipe my tears, dust off my knees, and hand me a new cookie – or I can be an adult and pick up the cookie, toss it in the trash, and grab myself a new one.

I still don’t have the answer to “why me???” in my pity party – but I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  I am learning to trust God’s plan for me, even when I don’t understand it.  I’m trying to have an open mind to the life lesson that every challenge presents – trust, patience, resilience, paying attention to what really matters, being kind, being thankful for blessings in disguise, and finding joy in the midst of turmoil.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to go find myself another cookie!