Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself

I knew I should not be afraid. I knew honestly knew better. But the one and only and last time I had a tooth pulled, there were four of them, there was anesthetic involved and when I woke up there was bruising, swelling and at least one black eye. I vaguely remember being told the roots were hard to remove, thus the bruising. All I knew for sure is that I was grateful I had been asleep throughout the ordeal that had me looking like I was the loser of a barroom brawl. So yes, I admit it. I was a little fearful of the idea of getting a tooth pulled while I was fully conscious and aware of everything going on around me.

I shouldn't have been.

My tooth saga has come to an end. The mysterious tooth ache for no visible reason, the temporary filling that actually did NOT fall out (it was the filling beside it), the cracked tooth, the specialist appointment and all the drama and concern about needing a bridge or implant. It was as simple as pulling a tooth. The end (I know right now my son would be nodding his head and telling me "That's what I would have done from the start").

May I also add that the dental profession has come a very, very long way since those original fillings were done. I remember the scariest dentist of my life waving the big needle that was going to freeze up my mouth right in front of my eyes. I think he even had a mean cackle like Frankenstein's doctor. It was scary stuff in those days. So scary that the one and only time Dad took me to the dentist (I have NO idea why he took me to a dentist because that was not the role he played in our family), he came home and told Mom to change dentists. And we did.

Our next dentist had a reputation of being "the painless dentist". I think I even remember there being a write up about him with that exact description. He was good. I was never afraid of dentists again. The dental hygienists? Perhaps. They always had a lecture at the end of my cleanings which made me tremble in the chair. But the dentist? He was good.

I have long since gotten over my fear of dentists, the freezing procedure became easier with each passing visit. Yesterday, even the part that he warned me was going to be uncomfortable was nothing awful. Any time I thought of something that hurt just a little more than I was comfortable with, I thought of my mom and sister, who have each recently broke a wrist (what a team!). This minor, quick little fleeting bit of discomfort was NOTHING compared to what they went through.

I did ask what to expect. I told my dentist the last time I had a tooth (teeth) pulled, I was unconscious and woke with black eyes (yes, I exaggerated a little bit). He said there would be a pulling sensation, I would hear some grinding kind of noise and I forget the rest.

So I took a deep breath (maybe three) and settled in, preparing for the ordeal ahead. There was that pulling sensation. There was a noise in my head I didn't love (if only the freezing could mute the sounds of dentistry, without deafening the world around me, it would be perfect). I thought of my mom and my sister and the pain they have gone through with their broken wrists. I braced myself for what was yet to come. And that was it. He was done. It was THAT easy!

I could have taken my tooth home to put under my pillow to see what the Tooth Fairy would bring for me but I declined. Instead she showed me the cracks on both sides of my tooth and as she placed her instrument along the crack line so I could see, my tooth fell into two pieces. It was "that" close to falling apart in my mouth. I was glad to be rid of it.

The Tooth Fairy actually did make her appearance in the dentist's office. I did express my frustration over having to pay $170 our of my pocket (my insurance covered $25) for a specialist appointment which I highly questioned and felt was unnecessary. So my dentist asked me how much my insurance covered and that is all he charged me. I walked out of the office without my tooth but I saved the cost of that final act of dentistry. The Tooth Fairy is alive and well!

And so am I. There was little to no pain, I didn't bleed to death, there was next to no discomfort and the only fear I had was reading the after-care instructions. I had to limit my liquid intake for 12 hours, eat only soft foods and not drink from a straw until my healing is well underway.

There I go again. I made a big deal in my head over nothing. I have been told this before and will probably be told again, "You should write fiction because you sure know how to make up a story!"

Well, Glennon and Brené (my two best friends who don't know me - Glennon Doyle Melton and Brené Brown, for those of you who can't read my mind) tell me "The brain is wired for story". When we don't know all the details, how everything works and how it is going to work out, we create our own story. The power lies in creating our own endings and becoming more of a participant in the act of participating in the act of our own story (and its ending).

Well, I'm not exactly sure if that is what they said or not but it is something along that line. I took what I knew (my last tooth pulling experience), added two good doses of fear (I don't know this dentist nor his reputation so I highly questioned why he referred me to a specialist so I created my own little story, which I now believe to be truly false. I take it all back), add this "age factor" into the mix (I am starting to feel like I'm hitting the age where we don't "fix" things any more - we either accept it as our reality, or in the case of teeth we "extract" them and just do without) and I was a little afraid.

All's well that ends well. I have a mouth full of pretty healthy teeth now. I believe this was the only molar that didn't have a crown on it, so I expect my tooth stories to be non-existent from this point onward. Or at least until my crowns need to be replaced.

I'm just grateful my tooth story had a happy ending. I believe in the Tooth Fairy once again.

The end.

Friday, October 21, 2016

An Unexpected Day Off

I'm living the dream right now. I am taking care of one child and that child has a mom who gets every third Friday off. And this is a mom who likes to spend her days off with her child. Which means [drum roll, please] I have today off!

A long weekend in the middle of no where, with a few little tasks tossed into the day to make it a useful one feels pretty good this morning.

I can take this day and utilize it like a "Sunday" so that when Sunday officially rolls around, I can have a day with nothing else on my agenda. Ahhh. An agenda-less day sounds pretty fine.

Today's errands consists of a hair cut, compliments of one over generous sister, "Thank you very much!" Followed by a dentist appointment, which should be almost all covered by insurance, which is a great relief to me. And lastly, an oil change, where I found a $30.00 off coupon in the mailbox the very same day I went to their website to print off an ongoing "special" price reduction. I am greatly relieved the last oil change I had consisted of a "full meal deal" of everything the car needed so this little pit stop should be quick, easy and painless (I wish the same can be said of my dentist appointment).

During my Time of Great Spending, I did some things right. When something was broken, I fixed it. When the oil change guys told me I should take care of my transmission and cooling system fluids the last time I was there, I listened. I spent while the spending was painless. And it was good.

I have kept track of almost every cent I have spent since July, 2010. I could tell you how much money has been spent on take-out food (I don't really want to know, do you?), house maintenance, groceries, holidays, alcohol ... You name it, I can find it. Including my income from various sources all along the way. Yes, I have frittered away a great deal of money. My weakness is in take-out and convenience food. I don't smoke, drink, socialize (much) so I figure take-out food is a vice I can live with.

I have kept things fairly well kept up and maintained so I hope this this all counts for something during this Time of Restrained Spending.

It has made me very aware of the little things I simply paid without thinking while the spending was good. This past month, I've had to replace a broken kitchen window (the "panes" of living by a cat walk never cease to amaze me); pay an endodontist's fees for (what I feel was) an entirely wasted appointment; and replace the weather stripping on our back door (cats are an incredible waste of money some days).

If this had happened two months ago, I wouldn't have blinked an eye. I would have simply paid my dues, tallied it up as unavoidable expenses and went to McDonald's as a consolation prize because I could hear the lyrics "You deserve a break today ... at McDonald's" run through my mind. Again.

This Time of Restrained Spending comes with more benefits than drawbacks. Because of my reduced daycare load, I have ended up with a few early days off (one of which saved me a $75.00 service fee, for the window and door company to deliver and install the weather stripping on the back door) and one entire day off (today), so I can fit in a hair cut, an oil change and a dentist appointment within one work day instead of three evenings after 6:00.

I should have time left over to list more items up on my favorite auction site (this has become rather addictive and I'm cleaning out closets at the same time) and just go with the flow of the day.

It's going to be a beautiful day. I hope. The hour or so spent in a dentist's chair is debatable.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm"

My horoscope for the week:

"You may succeed in making a living from your art. Some major changes allow you to take a new path in life ..."

Well, I'll be. 

I have been sitting here pelting off an inner dialogue which has been filled with words and doubt and fear. Yesterday I listened to Glennon Doyle Melton's interview with Maria Schriver and Glennon said that when you are thinking in "words", that is fear. The deep, wise "knowing" is something that comes to you in the quiet. It is wordless. It is like gravity.

I felt that sense of "knowing" when I knew I had to change what I was doing. It was weighted down with inner truth and it was wordless. I was scared to follow through on it but I knew it was the right thing to do. Because it was the "knowing".

This inner dialogue within my head, the words, the fears, the calculating, the Googling to see what I can do next. That is "fear". It is full of words. It is incessant. It isn't the truth. It is fear. It is negative. It isn't helpful when it tells me all I can NOT do.

So I walked away from listening to my guru, "Glennon" and told myself to "fear not", you will know when your truth sits down with you. You will know. You have time. You are okay. 

Then I went and double checked my financial status, back up plans and plans to back up the back up plans and trusted Glennon was right. I will not be afraid. Not today (or yesterday).

I woke up this morning knowing (See? It is happening already) the very next thing I had to do was to submit my columns to my newspaper editors. It was a small thing but it was the next right thing (Glennon also says we may not know everything at the same time but we always know the "next right thing"). 

It was small but it was something (else) weighing me down. Submit my articles and then take the next logical step.

I have been toying with the idea and waiting to feel courageous before I take the next step. I know I need to try to "sell myself" to more papers and publications. One of my editors gave me a contact name and number so I could make one call and she would be able to spread the word to all of the Saskatchewan weekly publications. I have held onto that name and number for the better part of a year. I have been feeling too inadequate, too overwhelmed and too fearful to make that call. My word well was drying up and I was ready to quit writing. That was not the time to be looking for "more".

I have many things I want to accomplish during my Time of Great Quiet. Ridding the house of its excesses is one major item on my agenda. Repairs and maintenance is another. Once the house is clean and taken care of (and yes, I do believe I recognize the fact that I "need" to have a clean and organized house as just another excuse), I want to sit still within my days and focus on writing.

I want to "sell myself" to more publications. I want to see what writing I can organize and compile into something one may call a "book". I don't want the noise and chaos of children, stuff, house maintenance and the fear monger which lives within my head to bother me while I'm doing this sacred work. I want to be still and quiet and know

This is what I want to do "next". After my column submissions are complete, edited, polished up and sent off. I want to sit still with this idea and see where it takes me.

"This" is what has been in the back of my mind and I was unable to hear it because the voice of "fear" has taken over my thoughts. "This" is what I've been striving towards ever since I started emptying closets, selling our belongings and lightening the load I'm carrying. "This" is part of where it is at for me. "This" and renting out a room. That is taking up a very big space within my thought processes as well.

I have been thinking these thoughts but pushing them down and aside and chastising myself for being a dreamer. Then I read this horoscope. Yes, I know. It is just a horoscope. It is a general comment meant to mean something to almost anyone who reads it. But it was directed to "Scorpios", this week and I read it today. Timing is everything sometimes.

You may succeed in making a living from your art. It did not state you "will" succeed. It said you "may" succeed. I will "never" succeed if I don't try. If I try, I will know I did my best and I "may" succeed on some level. My barometer for success is pretty low. Completing something I set out to do is a win in my books. 

Now is the time to try. My world is becoming quiet, the weight of excess is lightening, my responsibilities are manageable. Writing does not cost a penny. Above all else, this is the most affordable pastimes I could ever hope to stumble upon. It is a win, win, win situation.

Some major changes allow you to take a new path in life ...

It is just one of those things that makes me sit back and go "Hmmmm".

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Tooth Story

I woke up feeling "ickky" this morning. Not sick, not sad, not overwhelmed, not angry, frightened or paralyzed. Just plain old "ickky".

My dominant thoughts are revolving around my Tooth Saga. I need to find a metaphor for what this tooth has done to me, my thinking and my reality. Maybe if I write it out, I will find a string within this story of mine. Maybe I'll just vent and release. I have no idea where these fingers are going to take me this morning but let's just say we'll find out together.

It all started with a tooth ache. A very real, painful, tangible tooth ache. Where there is pain, there must be a "fix", right? This was my theory at the beginning of my tale. Simple! Make an appointment with the dentist, fix the tooth and life goes on.

Except it didn't quite go that way.

Imagine my surprise when the dentist told me he could not see any reason for my pain. He had a few hypotheses and he didn't accuse me of faking my pain but I walked out of the office wondering if I just made it up or if I was entering the phase of not being worthy of being repaired.

The toothache diminished on its own and I felt like a fraud. Life went on. Until it didn't.

When (a few weeks later) part of a filling fell out of the tooth that had been aching, I felt victorious and validated. There WAS a reason for my pain after all. Now, my dentist could fix me up and I would be on my way. The end.

Except it wasn't.

The dentist found a crack in my tooth when he went to fill it. He referred me to an endodontist and threw around terms like "bridge" and "implant" and sent me on my merry way. His only advise to me was "Be careful with your tooth", which I interpreted to mean "Don't chew on that side of my mouth". He did NOT say don't floss and everything under the sun was getting caught up on that rough filling. So I flossed. I flossed that filling right out of my mouth.

One would assume that would be when the tooth ache would return. Except it didn't.

I called to make an appointment to get my filling repaired. Then I started questioning every little thing. WHY was I getting referred to a specialist? What insurance coverage did I have? What was I signing when I signed the release forms saying "There is no guarantee that a root canal would work"? Who was talking about a root canal anyway??

My instincts told me, "Just go get the tooth pulled and be done with it". The professionals told me, "You will NOT regret knowing for sure, whether or not your root can be saved". I surveyed the audience around me (everyone I talked to between that time and my specialist appointment) and the survey said, "PULL THE TOOTH!"

I ignored my instincts, I ignored the survey results and yesterday morning I left the house bright and early to go to see the specialist. And the specialist said, "A tooth like that cannot be saved". The tooth is ready to break off. He could see that with his bare eye (though two X-rays were taken to ensure my bill was adequately large, I'm sure ... no, I'm not. I'm certain it is just their procedure to X-ray first, examine second so the doctor has everything he needs at his fingertips without having to back track).

My question was, "Why in the world did I need to go to a specialist and pay specialist prices which my insurance does NOT cover, in order to tell me what this doctor could see with his bare eyes??"

I walked out of that office angry. Anger is better than pain I suppose. I felt used and abused. I don't know what I fear most. A dentist who is too inexperienced to make the call to pull my tooth so he referred me to a professional. Or a dentist who is in the business for the sake of making money off of referrals.

In either case, I woke up this morning feeling (for the first time since I was a child) fearful about "what comes next".

What if I have an inexperienced dentist, the tooth crumbles as it is being removed and he can't pull the roots because they detached from the tooth and he has to go digging for them? AAARGH!!

What do I do? Do I call the dentist's office and confess my fears? Or my anger? This specialist appointment will cost me about $150 AFTER my insurance pays me what is covered. $150.00 I cannot afford to spend right now. I want a full refund. But do I ask for that refund and voice my frustration before they pull the tooth? Or after? Because I am also very afraid I have a new dentist who will need to consult a specialist when the tooth shatters and he is scrambling to pull roots which are not attached to anything.

Am I overthinking this? Possibly so. What if this "broken tooth" results in a hemorrhage and this is the end of my story? The end. I hope my estate fights for the $150.00 I could not and did not want to and highly questioned paying in the first place.

Okay, there has to be a moral to this story, right? That is why I sit down and write here. Because I usually make write myself into circles and find a happy little ending or lesson to take away from all of this.

This is what I know for sure:

When your body is in pain, it is telling you something is wrong. LISTEN.
When the experts tell you there is no reason for your pain, ask them to LOOK FURTHER.
When your instincts and "the survey says", "DON'T DO IT!!", heed that call.

But those very same instincts woke me up in fear this morning. I don't like where this path is leading. Not one bit.

In the olden days, I had a cavity and the dentist filled it. As I aged, those cavities and teeth began to fall out or break, so I got crowns. My wonder-dentist (I wrote about him here) crowned every molar in my head except this one. Why? I really hate to think about what this whole "tooth saga" is headed. 

Have I reached the age and stage of my life where I lose all of my teeth? 
Will my recurring dreams of spitting out my teeth start occurring again? 
Will I get compensated for throwing away $150.00 in specialist fees, that I could ill afford to spend in the first place?
Will I die in the dentist's chair? Or will he just refer me to another specialist when the going gets tough?

These are the questions I do not have answers for this morning. It's no wonder I woke up feeling "ickky". I guess that is all I learned here this morning. 

Thanks for listening...

To be continued. I hope.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Messages From the World

I think the world is always speaking to us. Sometimes we are open to hear the messages and other times, the wisdom of the world around us passes us by. When we are too busy focusing on the moment we are in and in survival mode, we aren't as open to receive the messages we that are all around us.

After a quiet Sunday of trying to regain my perspective and turning it into a day of wondering "What in the world are you going to do next?!!" and trying my best not to panic, I woke up to a Monday full of words, wisdom and connections to shift my focus.

The first words that found their way to me was my daily dose of "Project":

I was reminded that I AM doing the right thing. I needed to change my "career path" because all I could think of before I gave notice that I was closing my daycare doors was "How much longer do I have to do this?" "I can't do this for the rest of my life" and the only relief I could see was a shortened life expectancy. You KNOW you are in the wrong job when you think you would rather die young, than carry on as you have been. DANGER! DANGER!! DANGER!!! 

No matter where things go from here, I do know that where I am is better than where I was. I am living life in the moment and it is a much better place than looking too far ahead or focused on where I have been. One step in a forward direction will take me closer to where I am going. I just don't know where I am going quite yet ...

Then this message from found its way to me:

After spending too much time focusing on the jobs I didn't feel qualified for, I continued to dream of finding a way to continue working for myself. I have ideas. I am not certain if they are marketable or if I can sustain myself financially on them but I have ideas. Where there is a spark, there is hope. If I do the right things for the right reasons, I will have the passion behind my actions to ignite that spark. I think...

Then I made a phone call to the student loan office to talk to them about my debt, my future, my ability to repay and wanting to ensure I made the right moves so my actions of today don't negatively affect my future.

The person on the other end of the phone wore angel's wings. Of that, I am quite certain. These are a few of the things she told me. "NOW is the time to return to school!" "Find out what grants your province offers for women entrepreneurs." "Follow what you feel passionate about and you will be great at it!"

Here I was, talking to a person who could just as easily have said, "Get a job. Get ANY job! You must repay this student loan or your future could be jeopardized!!" Instead, she reiterated what has been resonating deep within me. "Don't go where you feel you HAVE to go. Follow your passion. It will take you where you NEED to go."

When you are open to new thoughts and ideas, they find their way to you. The positive messages of the world are always there and trying to find their way into your world, your thinking and your subconscious mind. I love when the world around me makes me feel safe enough to open myself and my thinking to allow what I need to hear into my world.

If you listen, it will come ...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Panic Stricken

Breathe deeply. One forward step at a time. Don't panic. There is little you can change right now. Just keep doing the next right thing.

Sitting down with the reality of my budget is a little bit sobering at the moment. I was doing just fine until "real life" stepped in and now I must contend with a broken tooth, a broken window and hoping the "third" (you know how bad things supposedly happen in three's?) item on that list was replacing the weather stripping our cat chewed up.

I felt like I was being proactive when I started selling off my daycare excesses. I felt like I was in control when I stopped all extra-curricular spending immediately. I was certain the quiet would come and I would find my answers. But I haven't stopped long enough to hear and feel the quiet. So just a little bit of panic is setting in.

I felt a little bit paralyzed yesterday. I should have been digging into closets and reorganizing "my life" a little bit. Yesterday was the day I could have cleared out a room to make room for whatever is heading my way. Instead, I peeked into my son's room as he gave up a handful of items he is willing to put up for sale and thought "Man, we have a very long way to go!"

I've come so far. I can't stop now. Why did I freeze up yesterday? Was it the fact that it was just a one day weekend? Was it because my crazy-busy week caught up with me and my head was spinning with all the activity, people and words which were tossed into six short days?

Maybe I wasn't ready to be with people yet because the question of the hour was, "So what are you going to do next?" I didn't have an answer. I felt foolish for admitting that I honestly didn't know. My pipe dreams of "If I build it, they will come" felt very "Field of Dreamish" when I started speaking the words. Writing the words is another thing.

Writing empowers me. Speaking depletes me. I think I need to hunker down and isolate myself so I can hear my own thoughts again. Last week was amazing. I loved every moment of it. But at the end of it all, I was empty. I wasn't ready to admit my plan relied on faith and faith alone quite yet.

I know I need to take one step in a forward direction. I just don't want to backtrack and wish I hadn't stepped out before I was ready. I will do the quiet work by myself first. Then I will take one step outside my box, with one foot planted safely on stable ground.

It has only been two weeks. I have only missed one pay cheque so far. I'm still in the black. I'm still okay. This is going to be an expensive week as the dentist tells me "where we go from here" and the window guys bill me for the cost of one act of vandalism which I shouldn't have to absorb. When I was making the "big bucks", these things didn't bother me. I just rolled with the expenses and carried on. I will do the same this week. In fact, I have these expenses fully covered simply by selling off my daycare assets.

I'm okay. I will continue to be okay. This I know for sure. I'm just a little bit afraid of flying rocks and biting down too hard right now. It will all work out in the end. And if it hasn't, it is not yet the end ...

Sunday, October 16, 2016


My present day reality is seeping into my every thought these days. This isn't what I wanted. I wanted to breathe deeply, get very quiet, move about my life in a fashion that opened my mind, doors and opportunities I had never thought of before started coming to the surface. Sitting still with a laptop on my knee typing the words "56 years old looking for a job" unveiled truths I don't want to focus on, so I reworded my Google search to "56 year old success stories self employed work".

I can't stop considering the idea that I want our house to "pay its way" so the idea of renting out a room or two keeps creeping into my thoughts. I have considered everything to renting out the main floor of our home, to having someone else run a daycare out of our house (not a good idea), to renting a room to a student or an international home stay program. I keep falling back to the idea of renting a room and sharing space to a fully independent adult who cooks, cleans and fends for themselves.

I am not used to sharing our home with anyone who isn't related to me or under the age of 4, so there could would be a very, very steep adjustment curve. But I think I must find a way to adapt, otherwise "panic" will soon start to seep into every crevice of my state of semi-retirement planning.

Yes, I prefer to think of this as a semi-retirement. I definitely do not want to work six days a week but I would love to find a way to work four days. Monday to Thursday one week; Tuesday to Friday the next would be somewhat ideal. Alternating between a two day and four day weekend every other week could be something I think I could get used to.

The ability to be flexible sounds best of all worlds. I am not quite sure how I'm going to manage it but thankfully I don't have to decide today. Maybe I should get back to emptying out closets, creating wide open spaces and seeing what I have to market this week. I feel like I'm stuck in limbo so sitting still in this state of mind is not a good thing.

I have two black cats trying to convince me to hang out and have a "cat day" with them. This is so very tempting but I think I'd better start moving. I'm not loving the paralysis I start to feel when I sit still too long.

Moving is the best way to keep the thoughts flowing. Forward is the only direction to go. Onward! Let the ideas flow ...