Monday, September 18, 2017

Dear Mom (Sept 18/17)

Mon, Sept 18/17

Dear Mom,

A new week is dawning. The week spells "the return to normal" in every way. Though I know this is good and it is time, I am going to miss being immersed in family and the memories that continually wash over me as we tend to business at hand.

We all returned to your home this past weekend. One of your rabbits was waiting for us upon our return. He didn't beckon me forward. He simply acknowledged me and headed in the opposite direction. He's moving on...

It is good to have a purpose and reason to return to your home. I am grateful for the excuses we have to keep coming back for a while longer. My heart is aching at the thought of removing your essence from the home which was such a big part of you.

Your home was an integral part of our "coming together" as a family. It symbolizes so very much. Christmases past. Reuniting in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. The list goes on and on...

Your home was more than a piece of real estate. You put your heart and soul into your house and it sheltered you through many a storm. You stood your ground and stayed in your home when we thought it would have been better for you to move out and into a "simpler life".

Simpler for who (or is that whom?), you ask? Yes, you are right. We had our own agenda. We worried about you on your own and we would have worried less, if you had been in a community where support systems were in place. But in the end, you did it your way. And your way was good.

Your home housed all of us as we came together and walked through the last of your days at home. When you were hospitalized, your home sheltered and embraced us as we walked through new and foreign territory. Your house was a port in the storm. We were surrounded by the essence of "you" and it was good. It was the best we could have hoped for during a time when the ground we were walking on was shaky and unfamiliar.

We brought out the outline you created for and with us (approximately twenty five years ago, when death and dying were the furthest thing from your reality) and we talked about the contents of each of the rooms you had earmarked for us. We used your guideline. It was a good one.

We shared what you wanted shared. We compromised. We acknowledged and respected each other's wishes. We gave more than we took.

We each have our strengths and weaknesses. My weakness showed up in a very big way when it came time to sort through material possessions and forty years worth of living at one address.

Wendy and Donna sent me on my way and I sat alone "with you" in your sunroom. I shed a few tears as I thought of the hours we have spent together with you enjoying your favorite reclining spot. I pictured you there and in my mind, I saw the evolution of your slow decline over the course of this spring, summer and fall. I knew in my heart it was time for you to move on and it is good that your spirit has been set free from the confines of a body which was slowing you down.

My heart may break into a million pieces when we deconstruct the home you so carefully built. I may go and spend some time alone before that day comes. I wish I could step in and preserve the world you built around you but I just can't find a way...

Everything happens as it should. The past year has cemented my need to build upon the world I have created here. A year ago, I would have walked away from it all. But during this last year, life presented opportunities which entails staying "here", in the home I have created over the course of the past thirty years.

I want few of the material possessions you have acquired over the years. They hold little value to me. But an idea was planted within my brain last night as I reflected upon the weekend past. 

If it is okay with the others, I would like to preserve your "library" after everyone picks and chooses whatever books they wish to have. I will create a little oasis within my home and use your library as a starting point. I will let my heart make the choices and create my own little "sun" room, using your spirit to light the way. No one will recognize what it is, except for the people who knew you well.

No one can take away the memories I have collected within my heart. Yes, life goes on. A new family will move into your house, renovate, live their own life and make their own mark in the world. You have made yours.

As important as your home was to you, it isn't where you left the lasting imprint. It is in our hearts where we will carry a little piece of your feisty spirit. We will mix it together with Dad's way and our own, and we will move on knowing we have our guardian angels watching over us.

Love,
Colleen

P.S. Mom, I found the missing plastic end to the heater you had in the sunroom. How in the world did I find it in with income tax papers from late 1980 to the early 1990's (along with cards, notes and letters from in and around 2012)? I will never know. I lifted it up to show you. I hope you know. The lost has been found. May you rest easy in knowing we will find what is important to us, along our way.


P.P.S. Your rabbits didn't show up when it came time to leave. I missed them. I miss you too. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dear Mom (Sept 10/17)

It's been hard to write from my heart this last long while. My mom fought the good fight with all her humanly strength, but she lost her battle to stay with us here on earth. She passed away peacefully, with her family at her side on September 6, 2017.

I have been writing letters to Mom regularly since I moved to Saskatoon (almost 30 years ago). I was short on funds and high on ideas one Christmas when I gave her a coupon stating that I would write to her every week "until death do us part".

It was a lofty promise (and one I had wished I had simply renewed each Christmas instead of making this life long commitment) but it was an easy one to keep. 

Mom has had a few health scares over the years which reminded us that she was a mere mortal and her time on earth would come to an end one day. I mourned the thought of her loss many times over. One time, I broke down and thought of my weekly writing habit. "What will I do when she's gone??"

My answer came to me immediately. I would continue to write to her. It was as simple as that. 

As I sat down with my Sunday morning coffee, the words came easily. I wrote my first letter that Canada Post will not be responsible to deliver. 

I am not sure what "connections" Mom may have to us now but on the off chance that one of them may be an Internet one, I thought I'd post these letters publicly. Our family is healing and may find solace in words that come straight from my heart and (hopefully) into Mom's...

Sun, Sept 10/17

Dear Mom,

I know I just got home from your place a few days ago but when has that ever stopped me from having something to say? So I thought I'd sit down this morning and write my weekly letter. I have much to tell you.

We are planning a little reunion in your honor tomorrow. I wish you come.

The process of preparing for this gathering has given me the opportunity to gather pictures that tell "the story of you", listen to music I think you would approve of, read your memories, hear your stories and speak of you. You couldn't be closer to me if you were sitting across the table from me. Thanks for "being here". In my heart, mind and soul when I need you the most.

You've touched a lot of people, Mom. Your small but mighty presence has left an impact in our world and our lives. I'm quite certain you have even left an impression on the medical team who walked with you during your days in the hospital. You were not a typical patient to say the least. And I AM going to get the final word in here, Mom ... when a medical professional asks you how you are, they DO mean it. "I'm good" was your final answer to that question. We all laughed when your doctor smiled and said, "I'm think we are going to have to rely on your test results". Leave 'em laughing. It's a good way to go.

I have another rabbit story for you. When it came time to leave for home, I was desperately seeking a rabbit. I needed "a sign". A sign of what, I don't know. Rabbits, you, me ... we have a connection. I didn't spot a rabbit the morning we had to leave for home and my heart needed the reassurance those rabbits gave me. "I'm just going to drive around front", I told Donna and Wendy. I never go home that way but I wanted to drive past the front of your house one last time. I didn't want to go home.

I set out with that in mind, then what should appear in the alley I always take home? A rabbit. He was leading the way. He said to me (we have a special ESP connection - your rabbits and me) "Go forward ... don't look back". He enticed me further along our path toward home. I crossed the road and he stayed where he was, so we could enjoy him a little longer. He was a small rabbit, Mom. I think he may have been "Jack" - the little rabbit who adopted your yard as his home. We savored the moment and shared our special connection, but he was going the wrong way. So I had to drive away from him. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear? Yet another rabbit. "Come this way ... go forward ... it is time to go home". The rabbits told me what you would have told me, if you had been here. I listened. And here I am. It was time to go home. Kurt had been holding down the fort long enough. It was time.

I wake up in the morning and forget whose home I'm in. Yours? Or mine? The two have been so intertwined in my mind, that they have become one. I am so grateful I visited you when the visiting was good. My instincts told me what I needed to know. Thank you for "being there". The time we spent together was good.

I have been channelling a little bit of my "inner Margaret" these days. It is a comfort. But a little scary too - you wield a great power. I just need to mesh it with my own way and it may be a good mix. Dale will let me know if I get out of hand. I know this for sure.

I don't know what power you have now that you are not walking with us on earth, but I have a little favor to ask. If you can, do you mind watching over and guiding us through this time? Send us a little "God wink" from time to time to remind us that you are and always will be a part of our lives?

Wes may miss you more than anyone. You were his "everything". If you can bring comfort to him and send "rabbits" to help guide him down a forward path, I would be forever grateful.

In my heart, I hope you are soaring with the eagles right now. Joined together with Dad and all those who found their way "home" before you.

You have left the biggest part of yourself with us. Your heart, your soul and the essence of who you are is interwoven within all who knew you (or is that whom???). Rest easy. All is well here on earth. And I'll write again soon. I promise.

Love,
Colleen

P.S. I am finally picking up that fruit you insisted I pick up for you one short week ago. Trev & his family on their way. We are all here for you, Mom. Always have been, always will be.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Moments

I thought I would have to go into work this morning. I went through my morning routines, expecting to leave the house at 9 a.m., but instead, I made a phone call and was told "There really isn't a full day of work here for you today". And in that moment, I knew I had exactly what I wished for. A quiet day at home.

Our cats capitalized on the moment and made a break for the outdoors as soon as I opened the back door. Our little black cats have (almost) become content to stay within the confines of our back yard, with only the occasional breakout these days. I made myself a cup of coffee, brought out the tools which help my brain function and here I sit:


This moment feels like a small slice of heaven.

Moments. That seems to be the theme of my days of late. Simply being where I feel I need to be. Sharing those moments with people I want to be with. Even when conversation wanes, I feel I am exactly where I am meant to be.

Planning has become next to impossible. I set a date for what I would like to do but I'm ready to change course on a moment's notice. Kind of like this unexpected morning off of work.

Flexibility is everything to me. I am fortunate I have "life" set up exactly the way it is. I have employers who are willing to bend and stretch as needed to make things work for all concerned. My children are grown and even my youngest needs only a small piece of what I have to offer these days.

My priorities are exactly where I want them to be right now. Life at home can go on just as smoothly without me. Perhaps things are a little "hairy" around here while I'm away, but what's a little cat hair in the big picture?

When I'm home, my goal is to make it simple for me to pick up and leave on a whim. I think the powers that be must laugh at us when we actually think we have the ability to plan anything. I've all but given up. I have a basic outline of what I must do, when I think I must complete certain tasks and dates when I anticipate I will be away from home. But it is really a joke. It is a little like those suggested "best before" dates on food packaging. It is a suggestion at best. It is not set in stone.

I have literally packed my suitcase and thrown it in the trunk of my car so I could make a getaway straight from work. As it turns out, I probably should have followed that instinct and left that day. But I didn't. Because I stayed at home a few extra days, I may not have been "exactly where I should have been", but those very same days allowed me the freedom to stay as long as I did once I finally got there.

Moments. In reality, that is all we can really count on. The here and now. The moment we are in. String all those moments together and you have a life.

Take the worry out of your day by remembering you cannot know what the future holds in store. Whether it be good, bad, indifferent or anything in between, all you really control is the moment you are in. Try to make the best of it.

Go ahead and write your outlines. It is the best way to make your story worth reading about later on. Outlines are good. Continue to set the date, place and time to do, see, go and be who you want to become. When life has other plans, try to bend and go with the flow. Trust you are exactly where you are meant to be.

I thought I was wandering and living my life without purpose this last long while. Perhaps that is true. But it is for a purpose. I will simply call this time "My time of great flexibility".

There are moments I wonder if this is the best use of my life. But what those very moments give me, is the stamina to walk through whatever "tomorrow" may have in store. Instead of beating myself up for not being, doing or producing "enough", I am going to assure myself it is okay. I will take these quiet moments to build myself up from the inside, out. I will rebuild who I am and what I expect of myself in the times of great quiet.

But for now, I simply want to be in the moment. And enjoy the company of those I spend those moments with.

Today? It is our cats. Tomorrow? It may be the world.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lost

Gratitude. The key is in finding what one is grateful for, even in the darker moments of living a life.

I've lost my way and I seem to be without a compass to guide me. I need to find my true north and I'm not sure where to look first. I will start with gratitude.

I know I'm lost. For this, I am grateful. I know what contentment feels like. I've had it. I actually still have it. It is simply that "contentment" is not the fuel I need to push myself beyond where I am and toward a place that is better for me.

I have lost my way before. I have always found a way back onto the path I believe I was destined to walk. I have done this before. I can do it again.

My "before's" used to be a lot darker. There were relationships I needed to leave behind or find my way through &/or heal in the best way I knew how. There were circumstances which were unhealthy. I simply needed to recognize them for what they were, revise my plan and follow the new fork in the road.

Looking back, it was obvious what I needed to do. There was a decision that had to be made. The power was within me. I had to save myself or my children or my heart or our home. I had to find a way to earn a living while living a life which felt like a good fit for me.

I simply needed to find a way in which to maintain my sense of self, while maintaining the status quo. Paying the bills, raising children, maintaining what I already had.

Part of what I have had and count as one of my biggest blessings, is the community of family, friends, encouragers, supporters and simply a soft place to land when I didn't know where to turn. I have not lost any of the above, but I have lost the energy it takes to maintain those ties.

I have become "allergic" to planning. I cringe when I have a schedule of events lined up on my calendar. It doesn't matter if it is a dentist appointment, a family reunion or simply a coffee date with a friend. What is written down and planned becomes an appointment to endure and cross off. Each and every date with destiny is "one more thing done and behind me". You know you are in trouble when you compare a root canal with a commitment to a friend or family member.

Life has become "something to be endured". This is wrong. I know I must work to pay the bills. I work with and for people who like and appreciate me. While I'm working, there is really nothing else I'd rather be doing. But it is also a little like that dental appointment. I can't wait to be done. I just want to go home, crawl into my pajamas and cocoon myself within the serenity of our home.

I am grateful for my employment and employers who are friends above all else. I am grateful for this oasis I call "home". I am grateful for the creature comforts our house provides - cupboards, fridges and freezers which are full enough to feed us for a very long time; heat in the winter/air conditioning in the summer; clean, fresh water and air to drink and breathe. The company of my Youngest Son who shares this roof and our furry little black cats who adorn our home in a way only cats can.

I have so much. But I have lost something which is almost as critical as clean water. I've lost my purpose. I don't have any dreams on the horizon. I look towards the future and I see nothing but a calendar with days to be crossed off. Endured.

I'm wasting the days I have been given. I want for little more than I already have. In the past, this void was filled with something life changing. A child. A divorce. A move. A new job. A new relationship. Focus on the relationships I already had. Writing a book ....

Hmmm. My answers lie within me. I just need to start believing in them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Feeling Grateful, Feeling Lost

This is the email that greeted me as I awoke this morning. 
Yes, checking emails is a waking moment thing for me so the words "Stop scrolling" spoke directly to me:

Pause, breathe, and then comment below with three things you are grateful for right NOW

The first three thoughts that crossed my mind were:

  1. Not having to go into work first thing this morning
  2. Jobs with flexibility
  3. Being employed
I have wandered quietly through the morning hours, quietly grateful for the fact that I told my boss to just give me a call to let me know if and when she would like me to come in. I reread this email and immediately thought of (at least) three more things I was grateful for:
  1. Purpose. Waking up in the morning with a purpose is a game changer. I don't do well without knowing my defined purpose within a day. I resent that which pushes me but I need it. 
  2. Cats. These two little furry critters make my heart sing and the corners of my mouth turn upwards inexplicably as they race around the house together, get into trouble and simply laze around and look adorable. I'd be lost without these guys.
  3. Family. This year has been earmarked "The Year of Family" in my mind. We have been drawn together for numerous reasons, the most recent of which have been fun, easy and light hearted moments. Reunioning for the sake of getting together, celebrating milestones but most of all simply for the simple pleasure of enjoying one another's company. 
I could (and probably should) sit here and list a thousand things for which I am grateful. I cannot think of something I wish for that I don't already have or have the ability to reach for the stars and try to grab hold of something just out of reach.

All I have lost is the desire to reach outside of this comfortable and cozy little world I live in. It is a blessing to feel this content within my little world. Perhaps I am a little too comfortable. Who knew I'd miss the turmoil that moved pushed me into new and uncomfortable places? 

I felt this way right around this time last year. I upended my world by handing in my notice and closing my daycare. The whirlwind of activity during that time of great change was scary, exhilarating and busy. A busy mind was exactly what I needed to climb to the next hurdle.

Well? I climbed up to that next step. And here I sit. Waiting. Waiting for what? I don't know. I am losing my ambition and my courage right along with it. I'm holding on tight to this spot I'm sitting in. Perhaps I'm afraid I may get pushed off this precipice, so I've hunkered in and found myself a cozy little cave in which to sit back and enjoy the view of life passing by.

I sat down and wrote these words to force me to focus on gratitude. I do feel grateful. Honestly, I do! I simply feel a little lost. Does anyone else feel this way?

Friday, June 23, 2017

One Step at a Time

Thought for the day, compliments of ProjectHappiness.com

#MondayMotivation: You don't have to take this day all at once, but rather, one step, one breath, one moment at a time... "Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step." ~Naeem Callaway

I cannot honestly think of a time in my life when I have been this thoroughly unmotivated. It is one thing to have a relatively short spell of time when I have felt like I have lost my way. But this has been going on far too long.

I know the action must come from me. From within. I think I must return to a mantra that has propelled me in a forward direction in the past: "Six impossible things before lunch".

Back in my daycare days, I tried to squeeze in all of my "impossible things" before my young families started walking through the door at 7:30 each morning. I had to get up at 5 or 5:30 a.m. to accomplish all I wanted to do.

It wasn't easy but I believe it was the key to successfully dealing with those hectic days. I had carved out time for what was important to me. I did more with those two hours each morning than I have accomplished this entire past weekend (or two).

My world has been becoming smaller and smaller. I am retreating within myself more and more. I am reaching out less. My energy levels are nil. My ambition levels are non-existent. I have forgotten the definition of "motivation".

I have stopped sitting in the sun. I don't even want to come upstairs. I have retreated to my little oasis in my bedroom (that has the feeling of a hotel suite) and I feel content and safe. I don't want to come out.

I tried coming up for breath one day this weekend. I got up, I got dressed, I acted like I was expecting company and was pleased that I wouldn't be embarrassed if someone dropped by. I listened to a few podcasts on the computer. I read a little. Nothing resonated with me. Nothing spurred me into a state of positivity.

Content that I had at least made the effort, I happily returned to my little oasis and continued my "Scandal" marathon. I am happy to report that I am well into the fifth season. Only 1-3/4 more seasons to go and I can consider that job complete.

I believe that television is a thief of joy. I can wrap myself up and around a TV series and lose myself in a way that an addict must feel when they succumb to that which numbs them. Add a few boxes of chips, several chocolate bars and some diet Coke (I have been craving diet Coke lately - yet one more addiction to add to the list) and you have my weekend.

I showered. I cleaned the cat litter. Twice. That is it. That is all I accomplished with two full days at my disposal.

It is time to face the week ahead of me. I will take it one small step at a time and hope to come out of it in a better frame of mind than when it all began..

No Way Out (or is there?)

I'm not making the most of my life lately. I walk around a lot of days feeling like I am a waste of oxygen. Certainly a pretty flower would exude more joy than I have been lately. I'm not a lover of flowers, so that is saying a lot.

Purpose is severely lacking in my moment to moment thoughts.

I wake up in the morning and wonder what I must endure throughout the day ahead of me so I can head back to my room and turn off the world.

I feel bound to one of my jobs and when someone asked me why I didn't quit, my response was simply, "I can't quit. I think the only way out is for me to die."

I said those words one day and headed off to face another new day 16-1/2 hours later. It was the hardest thing I've done in recent history. But I did it. And it was good that I faced that particular moment so it can't hang over me during my days off.

Daycaring wore me down but my current role is depleting my resources to a near all time low. And it has only been seven months.

If I could quit, what would I do? That is the million dollar question.

The very first thought that entered my mind as I spelled out those words was, "I would see if Mom would be agreeable to me moving into her basement and I would try to get a job at the daycare which is housed in a senior's residence across the street from my childhood home."

I'm experienced in childcare and I've been exposed to senior care. I have a feeling there is a place where the two worlds collide and that is where I'd like to go next.