Monday May 25, 2015

Oh, it's been too long since I've had a chance to write! We've been busy and I guess, busy is good.

Here's a quick synopsis:

Dan has had airline travel to North Dakota, Nashville and tomorrow he will fly to Michigan. In between, he ran a half marathon. It was a struggle yesterday as cramps plagued him, but he finished. Erin and I did our best to root him on along the way and let him rest once we got home...

Erin now has 9 days of school left, but she's hoping she only has to go to 7 of them. She will miss Thursday as the section golf tournament starts that day. If the Mayo Spartans do well, they will qualify for day 2 of sections, which takes place on Monday, June 1. (June?? Already??)

So, Erin has to get ready for section golf and get ready for HS final exams. The next two weeks will be a blur...

I am continuing with my work schedule, playing a little tennis and working on preparations for the golf tournament coming up in July. Everything is happening so quickly right now. The days and weeks fly by and there are still things to get done.

My parents arrive tomorrow, driving cross country from Nevada. Papa has his 6 month check up with the cardiologist at Hennepin County Medical Center this week. There have been no episodes of afib while he's had the heart loop monitor in. It's still a bit of a mystery where the clot that cost him his eyesight came from. We'll know more in the weeks ahead. He's having a neurosurgery consult at Mayo Clinic in June as well. As I've said before medicine is part science, part art...

So, we push on through these last two weeks of the school year. Shannon's friends are finishing their junior years of high school. Seniors... how could that be? Shannon's first best friend, our old neighbor, Abby, graduated from high school this weekend. I remember Shannon's first day of school at Bamber Valley, when Abby showed her how to get on the bus.

The end of a school year is another marker in time. Another missed memory. There is much good in our lives, but always a bit of sadness. We're missing out on things we thought we'd have.

Spending time at the Med City races this weekend brings back memories of our smiling little girl. In 2011, we all gathered there to support her in her fight. She ran the kids race that day, then watched family and friends walk and run in our I Heart Shannon shirts. Impossible to return there and not see her in my mind.

That's life, though, unpredictable and unforgiving sometimes. And yet, there is beauty. There is appreciation for all that we have. Even in our loss, we have gained - perspective, humility, purpose. Thanks to Shannon, we live now with our eyes wide open...

Friday May 15, 2015

Another week has flown by and we've reached the middle of May. My new work duties are keeping me busy, but it's really interesting. One of my tasks is writing one minute health pieces. I'm learning a little bit about a lot of things. This week's scripts included hernias, long-term care facilities, cochlear implants, parasites and mouse avatars... Dan and Erin may tire of me telling them all the new stuff I learned!

The end of the weeks are busy as much of my work is due on Thursday, Friday and Monday. No complaints here, though. It feels good to be engaged.

Dan is busy, Erin is busy, and I guess that's the way it should be. The school year will come to a screeching halt in just 3 weeks time. It's been a challenge for Erin to keep up with all the school work during the golf season. Another good life skill, I guess, managing the want to do with the must do.

And, in 6 weeks time, we will be headed to Ireland. It's all happening so fast...

I was reading the other day as I'm always looking for inspiration and guidance. I came across this list, and it's worth sharing. So many good reminders to practice gratitude, to be kind to one's self, to do your best each day. I'm trying...

10 Life Lessons from Buddha:

1. Its Okay to Start Small

“A jug fills drop by drop.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every artist was once an amateur.”
We all start small, do not despise small beginnings. If you’re consistent, and if you’re patient, you will succeed! No one succeeds over night; success belongs to those who are willing to start small and patiently work until their jug is filled.

2. Thoughts Become Things

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”
Buddha said, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” James Allen said, “Man is mind.”
In order to live rightly, you must fill your mind with “right” thoughts.
Your thinking determines your actions; your actions determine your outcome. Right thinking will grant you everything you desire; wrong thinking is a vice that will eventually destroy you.
If you change your thinking you will change your life. Buddha said, “All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?”

3. Forgive

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
When you release those who you are holding captive in the prison of un-forgiveness, it is you who is released from prison. You can’t keep someone down, without staying down with them. Learn to forgive, learn to forgive quickly.

4. It’s Your Actions That Count

“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?”
They say “Talk is cheap,” because it is. To progress you must act; to progress quickly, you must act daily. Greatness will not fall upon you!
Greatness is for everyone, but only those who are willing to act consistently will experience it. There’s a proverb that goes, “God gives every bird a worm, but he doesn’t throw it into their nest.” To be great you must act great. Buddha said, “I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.”

5. Seek to Understand

“In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.”
Stephen Covey said, “Seek to understand first, then to be understood.” Easily said, very difficult to do; you must labor to understand the “other” person’s perspective. When you feel anger rising, let it cease. Listen to others, understand their perspective, and you will have more peace. Be more concerned with being happy, than being right

6. Conquer Yourself

“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”
He who can conquer himself is greater than the mighty. To conquer yourself you must conquer your mind. You must control your thinking. Your thoughts cannot be tossed to and fro like the waves of the sea. You may be thinking, “I can’t control my thoughts, if a thought comes, it comes.” To that I say, you may not be able to stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can certainly stop him from building a nest in your hair. Dismiss thoughts that are contrary to the life you desire to live. Buddha said, “It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe that lures him to evil ways.”

7. Live in Peace

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
Don’t look without for something that can only be found within. Many times we may look without only to distract ourselves from the reality we know is true. That reality is that peace can only be found within. Peace is not a new job, peace is not a new car, or a new spouse….peace is a new perspective, and that new perspective begins with you.

8. Be Thankful

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
There’s always something to be thankful for. Don’t be so pessimistic that for a moment, even a split moment, you fail to realize the thousands of things you have to be thankful for. Everyone didn’t wake up this morning; some people went to sleep last night for the last time. There’s always something to be grateful for, recognize it, and give thanks. A grateful heart will make you great!

9. Be True to What You Know

“The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.”
We know a lot, but we don’t always do what we know. If you fail, it won’t be because you didn’t know; it will be because you didn’t do what you knew to do. Work to do what you know to do. Don’t just consume information, but ponder on thoughts that are conducive to what you desire to become until you have a burning desire to manifest it.

10. Travel Well

“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”
Life is about the journey! I’m not trying to arrive, I’m already there. I am happy, and content, and satisfied where I am today. I may experience nicer places, and finer wines, but I am traveling well. Don’t put off your happiness into some nebulous time in the future based on some goal that you think will bring you happiness. Travel well today, enjoy the journey.

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all. The Shannon tree has bloomed just in time...


I get to spend my day watching Erin play volleyball. A good distraction, for sure. The club volleyball season wraps up today. Seeing your kid interact with their friends and handle themselves with grace, well, what more could a mom want.

Of course, Mother's Day will never be the same. I'll be glad when it's over, and that's just the cold, hard truth.

A friend shared this blog with me recently. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Being the Mother of a Child Who Died - On Mother's Day


Thursday May 7, 2015

Again yesterday Dan and I played hooky to go watch Erin play golf. It was an invitational at The Jewel - a beautiful course in the bluffs just of the Mississippi river in Lake City, MN.

A couple of the top teams in the state, Red Wing and Lake City, were there, along with Winona who is not far behind. The Mayo Spartans were paired with those top three teams, so it was going to be the best competition of the year.

So, little Miss Erin, playing in the #3 varsity spot, played with two juniors and a senior. The Red Wing and Lake City girls could hit it 100 yards further than Erin could. It was really fun to watch this top level talent play.

Erin, to her credit, held her own, shooting an 88 to tie her personal best. (For perspective, Erin was still high score in her foursome - 79, 80, 86, 88!) Instead of being intimidated, though, Erin embraced the chance to play with these girls. That's what I'm most proud of. And to these girls credit, they treated Erin wonderfully. Such a good thing to see that girls can be competitive and pleasant at the same time.

The Red Wing #3 player, who shot 79, is a multiple sport athlete. Golf is secondary to her best sport - hockey. She is going to play Division 1 hockey at University of MN - Duluth.

Want to talk about a small world? Shannon skated against her back when they were 11 year old girls. I remember the girl from Red Wing who was clearly the best player on the ice. What are the odds that 6 years later, she would be playing golf with Shannon's little sister.

As we walk these beautiful golf courses watching our kid play, Dan and I can't help but wonder if Shannon would have come to love golf, too. She didn't get the chance to find out, but I know she would have worked at it. Wouldn't that have been something if Shannon and Erin had gotten to be a part of Mayo Girls Golf together?

It's just one of those little cracks in my heart.

Don't get me wrong, I had a great day yesterday. Watching Erin was fun. Yes, I thought about Shannon out there on the course, but maybe that's just my way of taking her along for the ride.

Friday May 1, 2015

It's funny how things work out sometimes. I hoped for a chance to write and use my skills in some meaningful way. And now, that opportunity is presenting itself.

The work I began a couple of months ago with the Mayo Clinic News Network is expanding. As I have proven myself to them, they have given me more tasks and more opportunities to write. It's really wonderful.

But, be careful what you wish for - doubling my workload has left me no time to do online jigsaw puzzles or play Candy Crush Saga... I jest, but my head has been spinning this week and I've been consumed with getting up to speed with the job.

It's not lost on me that Mayo Clinic has become a big part of my life, again, but now in a positive way. Who woulda thunk it? I hope Shannon is smiling about that.

I truly want to have it all - time with family, time for work, time with friends, and still have a little bit left over for some Jen time. This week I wasn't so successful at that - I spent 4 hours working last night instead of hanging out with Erin - but I'll get into a rhythm soon.

Erin will have plenty of momma time as she and I are headed for a volleyball tournament in the Twin Cities this weekend.

Life continues to evolve. I guess that's what we all want. To move forward, to look for opportunities and be willing to try something new. I'm feeling grateful today.

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu

Monday April 27, 2015

The sun is shining and it doesn't feel so much like a Monday today. Maybe it's because we had a productive yet relaxing weekend. Maybe it's because have a fun week ahead.

We reached another milestone this weekend... Erin beat me on the golf course. Over 18 holes, she was better than me by 3 strokes - 94 to 91. She didn't rub it in too much... I gotta get out there and work on my short game, or this will be a regular occurrence!

Truth be told, I am happy about it. The hard work she put into improving her game is paying off. She broke 90 for the first time last week in a meet at Red Wing. Today she is off to Northfield for a triangular with Mankato West, and Wednesday she will play in the All-City meet at Soldier Field here  in Rochester.

Erin is learning some real life skills juggling school, golf, volleyball and her social life. She spent most of Sunday doing homework for the week ahead, knowing she will be missing classes for golf. Learning time management and how to prioritize tasks is a great skill to have.

Of course, as her mother I feel I have to bug her about getting things done, and yesterday, I kept asking her about whether she had finished each assignment. She was annoyed at my hounding. Hey, kid, just doing my job...

Dan and I plan to play hooky this afternoon and take a drive to Northfield to watch her play. We are lucky that Erin doesn't mind having us around. Many kids ban their parents from watching them golf, saying it makes them too nervous. Erin is used to having us around - it's a running joke around here that she is "smothered" by having all the attention of both parents now.

But Erin understands our need to hold on and cherish these moments just a little bit more than might be "normal". Our loss of Shannon made us truly appreciate watching Erin grow up, and we want to be there for all of it. I can't believe how quickly her freshman year has gone. We're just 6 weeks away from her being a sophomore. I don't want it to go so fast...

When Dan reads this, he will tease me about getting ahead of myself. I can hear him already -"How's that one day at a time thing working for you?" It's a constant struggle for me to stay in the present.

So, I will try to enjoy today. This Monday, the sun is shining and I will get to go for a walk around Northfield Golf Club with my husband, watching our kid play. The present is pretty dang good...

Friday April 24, 2015

Today marks seven years since Dan got sober. It was a life changing event for him, for us as a couple and for our family.

So often here, I write about milestones that are tragic - diagnosis day, missed birthdays and homecomings and of course, the day Shannon passed.

As we talked about this milestone last night, Dan recognized that seven years ago he couldn't imagine being where he is now, leading a life without alcohol. Then he turned to me and said, "You know how I got here? One day at a time..."

Those words are an important motto no matter what you face in life. It's so easy to get caught up in projecting to the future and worrying about what's ahead.

So, today is a reminder to celebrate the good in life and to stay present. To remember that change is inevitable, but growth is optional. It's easier to just go along letting things happen to us, keeping things the way they've always been. Status quo is the path of least resistance.

It takes courage to make a conscious choice to improve your life. I'm grateful that Dan made the choice to grow.

"Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better." - Sydney J. Harris