Misadventures: Overcoming Obstacles

My hair has been graying for some time. Coloring over the gray was bothering me so I stopped. I tried to have a stylist help blend it in the meantime. It wasn’t really working. Then after my hair was so dead from all of the bleaching, I decided to start over and have it cut into a pixie bob which is very short. It looked better but I still had golden ends and gray roots. I had the idea of blending in some blue high lights to break it up, on my own, without involving a stylist. When I rinsed my hair out and looked in the mirror, I had created a head full of fuzzy light green hair. Never to be defeated, I marched myself to the store and got some black dye and became an Elizabeth Tayloresque black haired beauty again.

I have a history of creating obstacles for myself. Not doing oil changes resulting in a dead car in college. Dating and marrying men that were clearly bad choices resulting in having to rebuild my life over and over again. Adopting a Dalmatian not researching what the care of that breed involves resulting in having to take 3 hour walks everyday just to give it the minimum exercise needed.

My friends and family reading this now are thinking of even better examples of how I have messed up in life. Some of those stories are funny. Many of them were far from funny at the time.

Even if you do everything right, bad things will happen to you at some time. Our response to these obstacles is all that remains in our control.

I just inherited a farm that needs work. I didn’t plan on being in my parent’s property at this time of my life trying to make choices about the care and eventual sale of this farm. My mantra has been to just make it a little better every day. Make it pretty and see what happens. I don’t know if I will have a buyer at the price that I need in order to sell it or if I will be a farmer for years to come. The outcome is not within reach. My response in the present is what I have.

There is a method to my madness. I have made lists and keep making lists of boss moves I can do to make this place better. Next I evaluate what the pay off will be for each move.Finally, I choose to put the majority of my energy and financial backing into that move. Once I finish, I look at my list again and see what the next reasonable move should be. In summary, list, evaluate, make a move, go back to the list. If you do this, over time, your goals will be completed, you will have a sense of accomplishment, and today’s obstacles will be tomorrow’s memories. Don’t worry though, you will have other obstacles to keep you from getting bored.

Have fun making boss moves today and enjoy the journey as much as you can!

Wellness Coach Heals Herself First

At the end of December in 2022, I made the bold move to leave my job as a teacher, to work on regaining an acceptable level of wellness after caring for my mom in hospice and losing her last summer.

I used all of what I have learned from research and my healing times of the past. I am pleased to say that at this juncture which is not even two months later but feels like a lifetime, I have regained this level of reasonably good health again.

I started inserting one small habit at a time.

The first was food related. I had developed a habit of large portions of junk food to keep me awake on my long commute. Breakfast at a fast food place was a common occurrence since I was on the road so early, before I felt I could eat anything. Also, when I was caring for mom, my mornings were feeding her and administering medications. I didn’t fit in the schedule. When I got home it was the same thing. Many caregivers and mothers can relate to how these habits begin. This would not be healthy for everyone but intermittent fasting helped me become more mindful about eating. I have one meal a day, that is satisfying. I allow myself some Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or fruit for snacks. All eating occurs after 8am and I am done at 5 or 6. I have lost 10 pounds, but more importantly I feel I am in control of what I eat and when again, on a behavioral level. The biggest pay off is I do not feel as sluggish as I did when I was eating all of the filler foods that I didn’t necessarily love. They were just convenient.

After I cleaned up my diet, I worked on de-cluttering the house I inherited, that was full of my mom’s belongings, family treasures, and tons of stuff that needed to be thrown away. It was so much, I hired a friend to help me with a few closets. I painted where there had been busy wallpaper that was an energetic drain. My daughter took some furniture that was extra and family members came to claim some things they wanted. There is a little left to do but most of the decluttering is done. Decluttering makes life more simple because there is less to manage and clean and the objects and possessions that matter to you take a front row seat, rather than being lost in the back of a closet somewhere. This mentally made me feel so much more freedom.

I started allowing myself to be creative. I have been painting and learning guitar. I started a class to help me work on some business skills. Creativity and learning have always been part of my healing journeys in the past and it was no different this time. I have decided on roof and siding renovations for the house. I have ordered flowers and trees. Outside I needed to remove troublesome trees in order to begin other renovations. Sometimes out outdoor areas can have clutter. Dead trees and trees that blocked internet access had to go.

I feel healthier and my mind is more clear. I scheduled a cruise that will be happening in a few weeks. The things that I have informed clients about and encouraged them to do when they were in a transition of some kind is how I have healed myself. I am not in perfect health. There is no such thing. I feel I am in reasonably good health and going the right direction.

Wellness is a process and what I learned on the deep end of caregiving is sometimes you are just surviving. It is okay. Love yourself through that. Take care of yourself as you can. If you want to talk to a coach about exploring some small changes that can make a big difference in the long run, please feel free to contact me about coaching. The best way to reach me is e-mail with the subject line saying “I need a coach”.

If you email me, I will reach out and we can have a free initial chat. Take care.


The Voyage Out, In, or Otherwise

Randomly, in my scrolling today, I found out that Virginia Woolf’s first novel was called “The Voyage Out”. It is about a young girl who goes on a sea voyage with her aunt and uncle. While on the ship, her mind is exposed to a wide variety of ideas about everything, as she has conversations with people on this ship and travels around South America.

Coincidentally, I have booked my own voyage. I booked a cruise for the very first time. I will be going on a 15 day trans-Atlantic cruise that starts in Miami and ends in Barcelona. I am travelling alone but there will be thousands on board. I know I will have the opportunity to talk to many other people and learn from their stories. I am voyaging out of the country into an experience that will for sure force me out of my comfort zone. I am voyaging inward. I imagine time alone in my cabin, on my terrace, drawing and writing and reflecting. I see myself daydreaming and just enjoying the ride. This is my first vacation I am taking merely for my enjoyment and not related to seeing family or friends or doing some form of service.

Like the girl in Virginia Woolf’s book, my voyage out will help me open my mind to new experiences and people and learn more about myself. I am not completely clear on what I want this second half of life to look like but I have some time to ponder my choices.

The Pause

I resigned from my teaching job, that required a drive 1 hour each way. I finished up the semester and settled into winter break for a pause.

The pause began with freakishly brutal winds and 30 below windchills that my dogs could not even stand with their little hot pink parkas on. It was the kind of cold where no one goes anywhere for a few days. My pause began with a dead stop. Scented candles, heat turned up, fire place going, dog cuddles, and quiet boredom filled the beginning days of winter break.

My pause continued with laying low for the holidays. I considered every vacation imaginable, both in the states and international. I checked on dog kennel options. I have my passport ordered. I was going to just pause until at least March, but on January 3, 2023, I woke up with my next plan. I started applying for jobs and I really want to be teaching again soon or doing something that lights me up the way teaching does. I am not at peace with leaving my dogs while I travel. They are my babies. Down the road, I will go places. My elderly dog is a little sick, and my new dog is a clingy little baby, and it does not feel right at this time. I don’t feel my soul needs a vacation as much as I just need ongoing reasons for getting up in the morning.

I am going to work on fixing the house, find a job nearby, and continue to spoil my dogs. That might not seem amazing, but just two weeks ago, I could not figure out what I was going to do with any level of decisiveness. I traveled the globe in my imagination and arrived back here in on piece with some rational decision making skills.

Trauma, grief, and overall exhaustion got me to the place where I needed to pause. It was necessary to do a reset. My former job did not serve me well because of the exhausting commute. Another job, but closer to home, should put things in better balance.

By changing jobs, I will get 10 hours of my life back a week. This can be time to eat planned meals, exercise, and maybe read or socialize. In a month, I get 40 hours back— equivalent to a whole extra work week of time. Our time is our most precious resource and I hope to use mine a little more resourcefully in the New Year. How can you find more time to take better care of yourself this year?


Mom passed away in July. She had a fall. A short hospital stay. A few weeks in a nursing home, the last week with covid. She called me one evening after having gone through the worst of covid. She was eating the special popsicles I brought for her with her roommate who also had covid. I thought she might bounce back. I even wondered if someone dying survived covid like she did, was she really dying? Maybe she should be re- evaluated. I saw her the two days following, and on the following evening, she passed.

Many people have asked me how I feel. I went through some shock when she died and I have been having some quiet moments when I shed some tears. I started teaching again about week after the funeral so this Labor Day weekend, I had some time to rest a little and reflect on all of it.

Just before mom died I adopted a dog, Smooch, who was a $50 shelter dog. My Jeep keys have gone missing since about a week after I got her. I had to have my car towed to the dealership to have new keys made. She found soap, Christmas ornaments, and other odds and ends that were not food and then she got sick. I had her x-rayed and neither my Jeep keys nor any of that other stuff was inside but her tummy was hurting. I got lots of snuggles this weekend and we napped together. I needed the snuggles, too.

Not having mom now is like an empty nest experience. One minute she consumed all of my time and energy and now there is a void. Smooch is helping fill that some with all of her misadventures. I am feeling more like myself with each passing week. The routine of being back with my students and coming home to my two dogs, keeps me anchored. Everyone does grieving their own way but routine is helping me.

There are some things I am pondering. After all of this I have been through, who am I now? I know I have changed. Do I want the same things? What are my hopes and dreams for this second half of life?

Life is just a twinkle. One day after another, fleeting chapters, love, adventure, awe of nature, music, art, poetry, and letting go.


My cousin just posted a meme saying, “ ‘Meatloaf’, should be the ultimate safe word because it means I’ll do anything for love, but I won’t do that”. This is a strange lead in to a post on how things are going on the home front caring for my mom in hospice, but there is a connection. I promise.

In this process, I keep saying not that, and then I find myself doing that, getting through that, That , and then another THAT outdoes the former That! Are you following? I cry “ Meatloaf” but that next bad thing keeps coming and I can’t control it. There’s no safe word to save me. I am not safe. Mom is literally dying, and she is stuck with me and that has to be extremely unsettling, too.

Writing helps me process, so while this may help others out there, I am trying to help myself primarily. What do you do when you are faced with an unfavorable thing and you have to go through it? It’s not a matter of simply setting boundaries or creating better habits, although I am doing both of those as I go through this journey. I can change the things I can but the things that I cannot change, well, I am just holding on for the ride and praying to anyone listening. I hate rollercoasters and this ride, this hospice ride, where I was forced to get in, and cannot get off until it’s over, sucks. It sucks so much. Only those who have gone through it know what I mean.

I watched mom fall and get hurt, complain of pain, I have bandaged her over and over, struggled to find what she can still eat, she has lost so much weight, and she lost so much independence. For two weeks she fought me hard about driving. This week she needs to check with me before going outside because she had a big fall the other day. I feel like there is a hand on my heart squeezing the life out of me as I watch my mom fail slowly. There’s no safe word. There are no ruby slippers to take me back to a happier time and place. I am locked on this hospice roller coaster to the end. I know how it ends and I hate that too.

So as mom stood over the toilet this evening and told me there was something in there that should not be, I got on some rubber gloves and fished out the chapstick that dropped in. “Meatloaf” isn’t my safe word. I don’t know what I will do for love next, but I am strapped in. Peace to any of you who are on this awfully sucky but sacred ride as well. Mom won’t be here at the end of this ride, and for that woman, I probably do it all again.

Mom has been watching PBS shows with painters like Bob Ross and others. She wants to paint some happy little trees soon. I am ready with the supplies when she is. Creativity will most likely be our pathway into transforming this time that is beyond our control into some beautiful, funny, and sensational memories.

The Case of the Pumpkin Patch Murder Hornet

It was a beautiful October afternoon. I picked up my cousin Bonnie and we drove way out in the countryside to a farm with pumpkins for sale. No one was there to collect money. Customers pick their mini, small, medium, or large pumpkin, and put it money in the wooden box with a slit cut out of the top.

They had all colors imaginable. Pink, purple, blue, white, orange and white, orange and green, and the classic, just orange. As we pondered the choices I folded my arms. My wrist landed on a tiny winged fellow with black and yellow stripes. He appeared to be dancing to the twist without music on my arm. I felt a pinch and gently flicked him off of my arm. There was mild pain and a raised red bump. It was only the second time in my life I was ever stung. I am not one to worry about bees and hornets and other pollinators buzzing around because they are an essential part of the interconnected web of life. That guy with the stinger was just trying to survive. It wasn’t personal.

About a week later, I looked at my arm, the area was raised about twice as high and the redness was traveling to my elbow. I made a trip to Urgent Care. The diagnosis was cellulitis/ staph infection. I was given a tetanus shot and antibiotics.

The redness went down. I seemed to be doing fine. I had extreme difficulty swallowing my antibiotic one afternoon. It was a large pill. It felt like it was stuck in esophagus. That night, I had bad heart burn, could still fill something in my throat, and vomited blood in the morning.

I am teaching High School Science, so like most teachers, I hate having to ask for a sub. We don’t even have many subs at my school so calling in for a sub means inconveniencing colleagues to cover for me. My online research said I needed “emergency” medical attention. I called a nurse in my clinic. She said I needed to go to the ER.

First, I created my lesson plan and wrote to alert my colleagues. I got ready. I live with my now 77 year old mother. I tapped her foot to wake her, trying not to scare her to death. “I’m going to the emergency room. Do you want to come?”

She did. She took about 30 minutes to get ready. I needed to put gas in my car. We realized we forgot her medications. We went back to the house. Well, we both had to go potty since we were in the house. We eventually made it to the E.R. where we waited a little longer to see a doctor and get diagnosed. Mom stood at the edge of our privacy walls to stare down the nurses. She asked when the doctor was coming. The nurse said, “You all have a seat and he will be there soon.” The doctor treated me for the ongoing heartburn and referred me to a gastroenterologist to address my bleeding esophagus. As we were leaving mom commented to the nurse that nurse with the southern accent, “I see you are expecting.” The nurse replied, “No, I am just fat.” Under her breath she was probably saying, “I’m glad you all are going home now”. The medicine was helpful in relieving issues I was having with heart burn and nausea.

A few more days pass. On lunch break, I notice a growing rash or hives. I try calling my clinic to get an appointment with my doctor but I am put on hold for a while, and as lunch comes to a close, and kids are about to rush in, I give up, and decide I will just hope it goes away. By the next morning, I was covered in hives, and I was heading to Urgent Care again. I didn’t take mom this time. Diagnosis: “classic” sulpha medication allergy. I was prescribed 5 days of prednisone.

I have time to write a blog today because school had a two hour delay. I didn’t know that at 50, I would find myself single, caring for my mother, in the small rural town I grew up in. Mom would say she is caring for me, too, and that is also true. I didn’t know that two years after completing a self help book, empowering caregivers to employ the happiness, resilience, longevity and flow research to navigate their journey, my dad would pass. I would move in with mom. I would watch my Dad’s sister, my Aunt Sue, get dementia, then covid and pass. Her husband shortly departing after her. I didn’t know I would have to reconstruct powerful new connections, support systems, habits that were accessible in my new environment. In Minnesota, where I wrote the book, I was surrounded by friends I had know for as many as 20 years. I had lakes, and woods, and a nearby YMCA. I lived in an artist loft with other creatives in downtown Saint Paul with music, food, night life, and beautiful historical architecture. It was easy a good life.

This is a good life, too. I have the most supportive educational team I have ever been a part of now. I work with some great people in the Science department and my administrators are very kind. They have been so gracious about my absences. My cousin Bonnie lives in my town now, in her parent’s home, as she lost them both, and we get to hang out again. We help each other take care of ourselves. Having people that you know, like, and trust is the most important piece to living through hard times. As I enjoy taking off later for school and hoping that my hives keep fading away, I am so grateful for now. My now has been kind of messy but I see my support systems rising up in this time and place and thank you all for being here for me wherever you are geographically.

If you were stung by a murder hornet, who would care about you? I strongly encourage everyone to find a tribe of supportive people to connect with. It makes all of the difference. My mom turned 77 yesterday, and I get to be here. I feel privileged. So many birthdays and holidays were spent away, but we spend all of them together now. If she gets sick, I am here. When I was sick, she was here. I won’t have to come from Minnesota in a rush and then feel I have to rush back to work if something happens. I am here. It is a special kind of blessing to know your parents are okay when they get older. It was a great source of worry when I lived in Minnesota. This new season of life has its challenges and blessings. Thank you Murder Hornet for showing me I am not really alone in this adventure.

The Eye

This whole week, I was on a one week, recover from the Pandemic, find my creative spark, wrestle with decisions that have been put on the backburner, and try to find my center now vacation. I can only share what my experience has been. It was for sure not the worst. I am deeply grateful to have simply survived the pandemic.

Earlier this year, I was working with two women on an educational Facebook page that would help people learn what it means to be antiracist called Courageous Conversations. The election happened. January 6th happened. Derek Chauvin’s trial happened. As I was trying to create some things for upcoming art shows with consumers, my body started not working right. I had a lot of body pain. I had stomach discomfort eating about anything. Stress and a bad diet can cause this. I had a terrible diet from reducing my shopping trips during the pandemic and my stress level was definitely high. I changed my diet to an anti-inflammatory protocol and saw a doctor. I was put on a anti-depressant/ anti-anxiety med that helps with joint pain as well. The combination of the medicine and a better diet has helped a great deal. I even ran a couple of miles without any pain whatsoever. I have needed a lot of sleep this vacation. I have allowed myself to paint, listen to music, daydream watching the sun go down, waste time chasing my dog around while she has the zoomies, eat the foods that I love that were not necessarily part of my anti-inflammatory food groups, and processed, and felt, and cried a little. I had a couple of funny dates. We’ll save those stories for another time.

I was talking to a dear friend this morning about how things are not perfect but this is the hard, I am choosing. This hard, that I am choosing, is one of great privilege. I have a job, a home, good health, a country that is safe from the devastation of war. The world is still beautiful. There will always be hard things. This season was a challenging one for me and for the whole world.

These lyrics in The Eye written by Tim Hanseroth and sung with Brandi Carlyle really spoke to me today “You can dance in a hurricane, but only if you are standing in the eye.” We were all right in the middle of it and some of us are still dealing with after effects. We don’t know if it is all over yet. Some of us are just exhausted. It makes sense.

How can you take a moment to dance in the eye? Maybe you might have to keep moving with the storm, or maybe as you dance, the storm will subside. Maybe it’s about to get a lot better. If you are reading this, along with me, you survived. That’s something great in itself. Know that it may take some of us longer to heal from everything than others. Hold on a little longer. Be patient with yourselves. Be good to yourselves. Try to be good to others as well. It has been a different kind of hard for everyone.

The Shit is Real.

I believe in positivity. At the same time I believe in being authentic. It is possible to be both. The truth about the pandemic is that the shit is real. I am going to invite you to sit with me and decide whether this list of shit applies to you as a whole or at least in part.

  1. It is possible to get sick.
  2. It is possible to make others sick.
  3. Opportunities to connect with our main support people are limited.
  4. Work feels a little harder.
  5. People are a little extra mean.
  6. The fighting over how to handle everything has caused stress for those fighting about it and those who have to watch the fights happen.
  7. It feels like some lives matter and some don’t as much. In this metaphorical ethical problem of who gets pushed off the boat, right now that would be the elderly, the front line workers, our school children, the poor, all parents but especially single parents trying to balance e-learning support and maintain employment, and minorities. For those with well-developed empathy it sort of makes you feel ill whenever you see things for what they are.
  8. Special occasions are mostly cancelled.
  9. Being able to visit the sick and attend funerals to support the mourning has been taken away.
  10. The arts, fitness, and travel are only available in a limited fashion.
  11. Loss of jobs and the failure of businesses are strong possibilities.
  12. Relationships are tense.
  13. People with medical problems and/or mental illness (which is a medical problem) are not able to access help when they need it the most.
  14. Due to cut hours, businesses trying to tread water, illness, and quarantines, there is less money, yet the bills keep coming at the same steady clip.

What numbers apply to you? You have the right to hate going through this and grieving what you have lost. You don’t have to put on some act that this is not big deal. It has been a big freaking deal! Grieve those losses.

I read a book almost twenty years ago now. It was an important book for me. It was called “Nasty People: How to stop being hurt by them without stooping to their level” by Jay Carter, Psy. D. In this book, Carter explains how “Invalidators” can be hurtful. On one hand, we don’t want to invalidate others’ feelings and do them harm. Neither do we want to absorb unwarranted negative shade that invalidating personalities put on us. This is not easy. It is hard to see the “invalidator” in ourselves. If we do not have a sense of our own worth, we might believe negative comments that are not constructive in nature. Some things people say come directly from their own insecurities and pain. This is what I have been trying put into words for days but it has been so difficult.

Readers, I don’t want to speak to you in platitudes that are void of empathy. I don’t want to pretend for one second that reading my blog is going to be a remedy. It won’t be. I just want to validate that the shit is real. I want to encourage you to take care of yourself. Guard your words. Be one of the good ones in sea of people being mean because they are hurting…if you can be. If you can’t, if you are one of those out there lashing out, forgive yourself, and get help if you need to. Try to create breaks for yourself so that you have energy to give to the things that most matter in your life and you can show up in a way that lines up with your values. Like no other year in recent history, 2020 was a year that made us aware that life is short, and precious, and not to be wasted. If you want coaching on navigating personal obstacles, having a healthy perspective of yourself, and following your bliss, I am taking on new clients now. I have tools to help you make the plan and work the plan, even when the shit is real. I am not going to tell you it isn’t. I am also not going to let you think you are powerless to improve your life during a pandemic. Only you can make it better.

Take Care,

Tracy May, M. Ed

The best way to reach me about coaching is to e-mail me at tracymay1200@gmail.com or call or text at 651-331-1421. Are you ready to put some effort in creating the life you want? Let’s talk and see if I am the right coach for you.


Social distancing is needed to manage an infectious disease like Covid 19. I agree with the stay at home orders, with the use of masks to mutually protect each other when possible, and cleaning off surfaces.

Not one of us is going to do it perfectly. Not one of us will ever be completely safe. If we are in a war with a virus as it has been stated, war by definition does not have rules for safety. It takes out men, women, children, young, old, disabled, and even pets. It’s awful. It’s not something that anyone wants.

The silver lining is that humanity could decide that in this war, instead of beating up other humans, we can just focus on hating the virus.

I think people need to be with their main people. I think some of you big extroverts should slow your roll at this time. Make some choices. Could you get your contact with people down to 10 people that really matter? Could you shop with a list and go out less?

I am lucky to live on a farm and I can have fires. My mom comes and joins me at the fire. Sometimes others fill the chairs at a safe distance. I am introverted so I can get by with a lot of time alone, but I need people too. I have talked to lots of friends and family through text and FaceTime, etc.

I am an essential worker and I have struggled to not resent customers that do not understand that I want to minimize my risk, too. I am working through this. This time of distancing and caution could go on for quite awhile. My mom has some health issues and I don’t want to bring back this virus. Even if I wasn’t an essential worker though, I have to shop sometimes. My mom is on of those extroverts that shops as a means of connection. I can’t protect her 100%. I never could. Life is dangerous.

You are on your own journey and you will figure out a balance that serves you. For me, I am going to do my best to be of service at my job, try to keep my customers, Co- workers, and myself as safe as possible without being unkind. I will do my best to be kind to my mom as she figures out how to adjust to this less people time. I also think it is time to meet face to face with my most important people and for mom to do the same. I think it is important to our well-being. This is the perfect time to be mindful of our most important connections. Who are your top 10 connections? How can you make sure you are nurturing those relationships during this time. How can you have face to face time with people that are truly essential to your well- being?

Also, I am going to hug my dog. I am breaking rules every day. I can’t social distance from the horses here either. There is a longer more detailed version of this documentary that I have shared before. The research in this video is foundational to my coaching business…named Promising Connections. Please consider taking some time to learn about stress and how to reduce it.

Take care. May your connections make this time of difficulty a little lighter. Peace to all of my readers. Be easy on yourself and others.

Tracy May, M. ed

Promising Connections, LLC