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Love yourself so you can love others more

If you’re going through some tough times, I encourage you to pause and reset.

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Katie Pinke’s favorite corner of the Minnesota woods to reset is near Dent, Minn.
Katie Pinke / On the Minds of Moms
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Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in On the Minds of Moms.

Coming out of the long winter and into a fresh spring season, you might feel like a weary mom. I connect with the feeling.

Or possibly, you’re in the blurry years of raising babies, or teens. I connect with that life stage, too.

But through all life chapters, I’ve learned an important aspect of who I am the past few years and it’s simply, I need to love myself more than I have in the past. I am a better mom, wife, employee, friend and neighbor when I love myself and extend the love to others.

In 2019, we sold our home on the prairie. We felt a nudge to move so we uprooted our family for a change — a change we had absolutely no idea was coming.

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When we couldn’t find the right home to buy, we moved 200 miles to my family’s farm and lived with my parents. Our daughters started attending a new school and we expanded our small business to a second location on a farmstead we purchased.

Later that year, right after Christmas, our college-aged son was paralyzed in a skiing accident . Then in March 2020, well … we all know what happened that month.

I often say to parents raising babies and toddlers, “you’re in the blurry years.” However, there were times in 2019, 2020 and even 2021 that were blurrier than when I was raising toddlers.

In the days, weeks and months following our son’s accident and during his spinal cord injury rehabilitation in early 2020, friends and strangers cared for my family in big and small ways. I’ll never be able to fully describe how the care, concern and prayers from those who have known me for a lifetime to many who haven’t seen me in years to complete strangers meant to our family.

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Katie, Nathan, Hunter, Elizabeth and Anika Pinke at a family wedding reception in September 2021.
Special to On the Minds of Moms

About 10 weeks after our son’s skiing accident, COVID-19 hit, and the world shut down. While many found the global pandemic to be polarizing and often lonely, it provided me the much-needed time to pause and refocus.

In early 2021, I made it a priority to care for myself. Before I could care and love others, I needed to equally love myself and purposefully carve out time for me, an individual, a mom and a wife in my 40s who recently journeyed through my most difficult, darkest days.

I did not need a comeback. I did not need to bounce back from trauma. I did not need to be more of a mom or a wife. I simply needed to love myself, which would in turn allow me to show and share more love to those around me. I’m not going back to who or where I was in the past.

If you’re going through some tough times, I encourage you to pause and reset. What worked for me to make that happen will likely be different for you, which is why I’m not going to feature a self-help checklist to follow. Through trial and error, find what works for you to love yourself once again.

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Katie Pinke hangs out with Maura, who is being trained by Hillsboro High School's FFC chapter to become a therapy dog. Katie shared Maura's story for an AgweekTV story.
Photo courtesy of Trevor Peterson and Agweek

On the other side of your journey, you will be a better wife, mom, daughter, employee, friend and even stranger to those you encounter. The past few years have opened my eyes to how my people and, again, even strangers love me even in some of my most unlovable, ugly moments. That deep level of love and thoughtfulness stirred a desire in me to give back.

It’s a new season to love yourself first and then extend that gracious love to those around you.

Katie Pinke serves as Agweek and AgweekTV's publisher and general manager and since 2015 has written a weekly column. Pinke resides in rural North Dakota with her husband and children where she is a 4-H leader, active community volunteer, and a proud fifth-generation farmers' daughter.
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