Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Let There Be Light!

As I saw the last of daylight slip away yesterday, I had to take a picture. This is what it looked like at 5:55 p.m. on January 15th:


I googled this when I got home. Yesterday was 8:16:31 hours long. We have gained 32 minutes since our shortest day. It may still be cold and snow and wintery outside. But the sun is staying out a little bit longer each day. We are gaining ground. 

I've changed my mind about January. I used to feel it was the longest, coldest, dreariest month of the year. I wish to amend that to December. 

We are still losing daylight hours in December. It contains the shortest day and all the shortest days around it. There is all that Christmas season "stuff" to contend with. 

It's always darkest before the dawn. I am starting to feel the effects of sunshine. Let there be light!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Exercise First!

In keeping with yesterday's post and theme, here is a picture of the way my morning has started:


Yes. I did it. I found some Beachbody exercise videos with Debbie Sieber on YouTube. Debbie Sieber's DVD's were my initiation into early morning exercise habit a decade or more ago. So when I found her and tried out one of her core busting routines yesterday [note to self: "Your core is busted!"], I knew she will be part of my way back home.

Yesterday's trial run at exercising in the living room was a good start. I found out where I'm at and know I have a long road ahead. "This" didn't happen overnight. So it won't change quickly or easily. All I can do is start to reinstate some good habits back into my life and be satisfied that I am doing the next right thing. One day at a time.

So the second thing I did, was decide to make some homemade chicken soup with the leftover chicken bones from Christmas.

It was easy to throw the bones into a pot and simmer lightly all afternoon. One quick text to my son who was at work (he works in the produce department of a nearby grocery store) and all I had to do was wait for him to come home and our soup would be a peel, chop and a boil away from completion.


I thought my intention was clear. What do you think? How much celery would you have picked up if you received this message? This is what my son came home with:


Two "bunches" of celery. I moaned with the idea of so much celery in the house. He said, "If you would have said 'two sticks of celery', I would have known what you meant."

He disappeared downstairs momentarily and googled the term "stalk of celery" to find out he was right. I knew I had been calling one "stick" of celery a "stalk" for as long as I have had the need to describe an amount of celery. So I had to double check his facts:


"We were both right!" I gleefully announced. We chuckled at the miscommunication as the soup with all its added vegetables started to simmer and finish cooking on the stove.

I was quite hungry by this time since I had not snacked the afternoon away. So I decided to snack on celery and dip as a first course to our chicken soup supper. It sounded so good that my son decided to go for some peanut butter on his celery.

I ran out of chips three days prior and I have missed the sensation of something crunching between my teeth, so the celery provided some satisfaction as I snacked on my rabbit food before supper.

The excess celery in our home may end up reinforcing a good snacking habit. But honestly? The first thing I thought when I saw so much celery in one eyeful was to send out the message, "Caesar's anyone??"

Since I don't have vodka or clamato juice OR any of the required seasonings to make a Caesar in the house, I think we'll stick with salad dressing and peanut butter to help alleviate our excess celery.

One good habit at a time. It's all a person can do. I'm starting "Day 2" and feeling better already. The universe is helping me along. Two bunches of celery did not walk into this house on their own. It was meant to be.

Exercise first. Write second. And in the writing, I had an opportunity to relay a silly little story to remind me that laughter is a very important ingredient in living a good life. I feel better already...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Welcome to My Morning - Chapter One

Here is a picture of the moment I'm in:

Jan 14, 2018

It is a good moment. 

It is eerily similar to another photo I accidentally inserted into this post and was startled to see our cats were missing:

Oct 22, 2017

What is different besides the addition of a few cats, an unfinished puzzle and some place mats for the table? The difference is in the way I feel.

In October, I was still working in a state of hyper drive. I felt focused. I had a defined purpose, things to do, ongoing obligations and a sense that when I accomplished all I had to do, I would feel completely at peace.

What has happened instead, is after I did all I had to do with dealing with Mom's estate and no reason to return to her home, I am wandering through my life aimlessly. Without purpose. Without intention. Without a driving force to propel me into action and feel the satisfaction of a job well done.

I have used up all my excuses to stay withdrawn from life as I know it. I am doing what must be done to get through the day. I am fulfilling my obligations to the world in a half hearted, lack lustre way. 

I have been in contact with a few friends this past week and as I summarized the lethargy I'm feeling, I was surprised to find I am not alone. 

Once our conversations switched from a superficial "I'm fine, thanks. And how are you?" and we started talking "real", I heard my thoughts, feelings and emotions echoed by those I call my friends.

We are of similar age and somewhat similar stages in our lives. We are hovering in our later 50's, retirement is either a reality or something we hope to attain in some way or another within a ten year time frame.

As I relaxed and let the words spew from my mouth with abandon, I heard myself saying, 

"I know I will most likely have to work until the day I die, but I have reached a point where I want what I do, to have meaning. It is less about the pay cheque and more about doing something that has purpose. I want to recreate what was good about my daycare years. I want to turn my home into my work place. I want people to come and go through our door again. I want to create a business where our home is an oasis in the Saskatchewan prairie landscape, where it nurtures and houses others, while it creates a drive within me so I want to cook, clean, maintain and enjoy our home again."

I have been through this phase many times before. This is the part of my life where the life as I knew it was upended and I had to reinvent myself and start anew. It has always been hard and uncomfortable. Each and every time. But when I came out the other side of this evolution, I was always, always grateful for all that had brought about the unwanted, unplanned but necessary metamorphosis.

This time is different. I told my friend, 

"I'm running out of story lines. I don't want to write another chapter within this little life of mine, let alone a book!"

I heard a version of "Amen, Sister" from my friend's reply. We thought we were done with the hard stuff. We are in our later 50's, gosh darn it!! We thought we had already earned our wings. We are ready to fly. We don't want to reinvent ourselves, our world, our livelihood and our sense of purpose. Again. We've been there, we've done that!

C'mon, Life. Really now? What do you have in store for us? It must be very good because this cocoon feels like one of the hardest ones I've had to break free of.

I know some reinvention is necessary. This is debilitating. I must return to that which worked for me in the past, to get me up off the couch, away from the chips and chocolate and moving towards taking a leap of faith off a new cliff.

I need an action plan. 

I will start by writing regularly. I have written my way through every hard transition I've walked through. Writing is my therapy.

I must start moving again. Exercise is nature's very own anti-depressant. It will be soooo hard. But I must. I will try. I will.

I have a doctor's appointment made. I skipped my annual physical this past year but now is as good as an excuse as any to check in with my doctor and tend to my body. 

I will tell my doctor that I feel I am fighting a depression see where that conversation takes me. As I said, this feeling is not new to me. But the hole feels broader and so much more comfortable than it has felt in the past. My children are growing independent of me. I have fewer years ahead of me, than I have behind me and I am losing the battle to fight for myself. 

I may need to find some tools to help me beyond this moment. I have a deep seated feeling that this will not be the last time life presents an "opportunity" to reinvent myself.

The worst part of all of the above is the level of comfort I am feeling within this safe little cocoon of mine. I don't know if I really want to fly any more. I just want to coast.

But I want to enjoy the view. Whether I'm flying or simply coasting effortlessly through these next years. I want to enjoy the view.

There is still much work to be done. My story is far from over. I may as well create a good one while I'm at it.

Welcome to my next new chapter. It is not my last, so I may as well call it what it is: 
"Chapter One" (again)...

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Dear Mom (Dec 31/17)

Sun, Dec 31/17

Dear Mom,

Today marks the end of "2017". It has been a year I will never forget...

I have been grateful to be spending this time in your home. It is the last time "you" will play host to me. It's been relaxing and so peaceful here as I have squandered these days away.

It's been beastly cold and as I wavered between staying or going yesterday, I could hear you say, "Stay another day...what do you have to hurry home for?" So I stayed.

I had hoped the extra day would give the weather a chance to break but it doesn't look like that is going to happen until tomorrow. What would you say about that?

I've puttered away a little bit while I've been here. Nothing extraordinary and I most definitely didn't break a sweat. But a wipe here, a swipe there and I stumbled upon a glass picture of an owl in a downstairs window. I think I'll bring it home with me...

As I sat still and gazed out your living room window to enjoy the view you saw evolve over the years (and most especially this past one), tears fell from my eyes. I've been wandering through these days as if I were you, taking everything in, listening to the walls speak .

Laughter and voices of those who have come through these doors are ringing in my ears. Your home holds so much history. Laughter, joy, pain and sorrow ... but most of all, this house lives and breathes "family".

A family united. Throughout it all, you were the constant. So many people came and went. Company was welcomed with open arms - "Everyone brings joy to this house ... some when they come ... others when they leave". This slightly paraphrased plaque Trev gave you said it all.

You welcomed everyone who came to call. Everyone. The coffee was always on, even if it wasn't coffee. "A cuppa...", as May would say.

Derek's family were going to be your last guests. At first, you were simply resigned to the idea even though you weren't up to company. You perked up when you decided you would like to have an assortment of fruit to offer them. You chose the selection - pineapple, strawberries, grapes, banana. "Don't get them yet, though. Wait until the day before they arrive..."

I never did pick up that fruit. You ended up in the hospital the morning Derek's family was due to arrive. Throughout your hospital stay and (almost) until your dying day, you kept asking me if I had picked up that fruit yet.

A host to the bitter end. That was who you were. Your door was open, the coffee was on and your offer of a "B & C" (bed and coffee) was always available.

Your clock would be chiming 8:00 right now. Your walls are talking to me again. I can hear your voice as we called it a night. "What time shall we say? 8 o'clock?", as we decided a reasonable time to get up the next morning.

I remember those last mornings when I sat at your table, watching for your bathroom light to come on, signalling the beginning of another day with you. It didn't happen. I knew it wouldn't, but I wished for it so...

I think of you every time your clock chimes 8 a.m. It isn't quite the same now that your clock is in my home but it is close. The sense of smell can take you back to another time and place. The sense of sound is a close second.

I must pack up and remove all traces of my presence very soon now. I will be thinking of you. I will wear your angel on my shoulder for my drive home and hope you can guide me home safely.

I will miss you, Mom. Thanks for everything. You were everything to me. The idea of flipping the calendar page to a brand new year without you brings tears to my eyes.

Rest easy. All is well here on earth. We miss you (but the letting go is a little harder than it sounds).

All my love,
Colleen

Friday, December 15, 2017

I'm Listening...

I am desperately seeking direction right now. This morning, these are the messages that found their way into my consciousness:

Compliments of my daily email compliments of ProjectHappiness.com, this was the first of four affirmations I was destined to read today:

2016: The Caterpillar
2017: The Cocoon
2018: The Butterfly

"Just when the caterpillar thought its life was over, it began to fly. Trust the seasons of your life ..."

Because I started following "Goalcast" on Facebook, the next three found their way into my line of vision:

"Always remember your focus determines your reality" ~ George Lucas 
https://www.goalcast.com/2017/12/14/george-lucas-star-wars-making-masterpiece/

"When the whole world is silent, even one voice is powerful" ~ Malala Yousafzai
https://www.facebook.com/goalcast/videos/1672631226147394/?hc_ref=ARSgRXLr3ol3zjNRmRxKpxZTGXhkmqtfnyH01H6jF4X3KBb-bcXa771BHXkLRv82Ieo&fref=nf

"It is not over. Matter of fact, it just begun" ~ Lisa Nicols
https://www.facebook.com/goalcast/videos/1669663696444147/?hc_ref=ARSgRXLr3ol3zjNRmRxKpxZTGXhkmqtfnyH01H6jF4X3KBb-bcXa771BHXkLRv82Ieo&fref=nf

I must be at the beginning of something brand new. Is this how a butterfly feels before it works its way out of its cocoon? If so, I must commend that fragile butterfly for continuing to forge ahead when it must feel uncomfortable and scary.

Change is on its way. I am not a big fan of change...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Dreams are Coming ... (where is my field?)

Life feels overwhelming when you think too hard. I have been trying not to force my thoughts. When I finally relaxed, the right kind of thinking replaced the fear, the anxiety and all the negativity that has been sneaking into my thoughts lately.

The last real conversation I had with Mom, about my "ten year plan", continues to weigh on my mind. 

Life is a fickle thing and we never know what tomorrow may bring, let alone ten years. The mere thought of my need to direct my focus onto "what's next" when my employment situation changes is daunting.

As I headed my car in a westerly direction towards Edmonton last weekend, thoughts wafted in, around and through my mind. 

I keep coming back to the "Oakes Place". A bed and breakfast. A place for reunions to happen. Perhaps a sideline of pampering and a friendly coffee place for the off season. A little oasis in the quiet of the Saskatchewan prairies.

A diamond in the rough. I cannot let go of the idea of wanting to build an investment out of little to nothing. I want to build a future the way my grandpa did. I cannot let go of the fact that the quarter section of land I inherited was bought for $1,000.00 back in 1938. It has been sold for 150 times that amount almost 80 years later. How can I invest in something that will retain its value and (hopefully) appreciate in value that exceeds the cost of living?

Retirement accommodations ... housing that could provide independent living, yet provide one roof which would house areas to promote socializing, quiet reflection, recreation and nourishment. A miniature version of where my aunt lives in a scaled down, small town way.

I don't want my "ten year plan" to include pounding the street to find employment outside of my home. I'm already pushed to my max right now, leaving our home on an (almost) daily basis to earn a living. I'm working for people I know well, I'm doing what I want to do but I don't love doing it. Because I'm not really my own boss. 

I want to recreate the "daycare dream" where my home provided not only shelter and a place to live, but it housed my place of employment. People came to me. I earned a very good living from home. Self employment brought out qualities in me that I never would have found, if I had never worked on my own.

The answer is somewhere within these thoughts. I'm not in a hurry. I have the luxury of not having to rush the process.

I have a feeling I'm already "living the dream". I just have to relax and let the ideas come to me. If I build it ... they will come. My field of dreams may be closer than I know.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Impossible Things

Getting out of bed in the morning is getting harder with each passing day. Leaving the house became so hard yesterday, I stayed home.

I went to bed last night knowing I could not play hooky another day. I had to leave the house. Early. But I had so much to do. It was going to be sooooooo hard.

Six impossible things to do before breakfast:
  1. Snow to shovel
  2. Hair to wash ...
  3. ... resulting in a bathroom to vacuum ...
  4. ... so why not vacuum the rest of the house while I'm at it
  5. Lunch to make
  6. Recycling and garbage to go out
I did it. I did it all. I sat down with my coffee and morning smoothie knowing the hardest part of the day was behind me.

All I have left to do is:

     7. Leave the house

Life is hard. I don't think I like December. It seems to me last December felt much the same. No wonder people go south for the winter.

But then again, I'd have to leave the house.