Saturday, March 24, 2018

Send Me a Sign ...

She was the wind beneath my wings. 
She was my reason to recap each week in a letter, look for the highlights and send off the best each week could be. 
She was my sounding board, she gave a voice to those who didn't speak the words directly to me. 
She gave me the tools to be the best that I could be. 
She lifted me up and made me feel worthy. 
She fought for me. 
She spoke for me before I learned to speak on my own...

I wrote these words in July, 2011:

"Five years ago, I returned to our home town for a Homecoming reunion. Five years ago, a seed was planted which changed the course of my life. Five years ago, my mom found two of my cousins and an old friend. She gathered us together at a table and we visited as though a lifetime hadn't elapsed since we last talked. 

Little did I know, the chain of events initiated by that moment would alter the course of my life, my thinking, my confidence and my being. Five years ago ... I started to come home."

I have often joked that I didn't start talking until I was 46. After I became chatty, Mom would explain, "She's making up for lost time". We would laugh. I often wondered if I embarrassed her with my excess wordage. I never asked.

Mom was a catalyst to a change within my life that took me to exactly where I am today.

We "co-wrote a few books" together. I was the writer. She was the story teller. But the stories were not hers alone to tell so we invited all of her siblings together to write the memories of her family. Then she stood by my side as I compiled memories from Dad's family to forge their own book.

The feeling of "starting to come home" came full circle as I talked with and got to know Mom and Dad's families. I became deeply rooted within family and the gifts I have received as a result of finding my roots have carried me through and beyond everything life has had to dole out ever since.

This past week has been a tough one.

I took all of Mom's income tax papers and all of my knowledge about the land Dad farmed to the accountant and laid it out before her. We talked of "Capital Gains" and all the technicalities that entails. I didn't know all the answers so I had to reach out. I contacted Dad's family to ask questions I didn't know the answers to. But the biggest gift of all was in the gifts Dad left behind and the fact that Mom saved them for me to open at a later date.

I often state that I have Dad's income taxes "since income tax was invented". But I would be wrong. What I do have is each and every income tax form Dad filed from 1946 until the year he died. One would think that is pretty boring reading. But I held onto them. I kept thinking "there is a story within those papers". And there is.

The second gift I opened was a box of Dad's farm accounting books. His record keeping was meticulous. He recorded everything. Each and every expense, down to the penny. Every dollar earned. Long distance charges, telephone rental, how much he paid his hired hands and notations of all kinds.

My world outside of "Mom and income taxes" was crushing me and I found such comfort in reaching out to Dad's family, immersing myself in Dad's paperwork, grateful for the fact that Mom saved them and the excuse to contact my siblings to update them on the "tax situation at hand".

Give me numbers, black and white problems and accounting any day of the week. It is the messy part of living and working that has become so hard, that I start each morning I must leave our home to go to work with a chant I actually say aloud as I summon my courage to face the day, "You can do this.Yes you can!"

One day in particular this week, I was at my weakest. It took everything I had in me to leave the house and face the day. I sat down in the car, turned it on, looked to the radio and thought loudly, "Mom? Talk [sing] to me..."

I have become super-skeptical about the whole idea of "a presence after death". I want to find signs that Mom &/or Dad are with me. I haven't felt, seen or found what my sisters have spoke of. But what I have found hopeful is the fact that the radio waves seem to send me words when I least expect them. I can't scan the channels and bring these words up at will. They seem to need to find me when I'm not looking. But when the words speak to my heart and sound like something Mom would say, I gaze into the empty space around me and think, "Mom? ..."

Could music and lyrics be the "currency" she uses with me?

My sister told Mom that she heard finding a dime means the spirit of a loved one is watching over you (I could have the exact meaning misconstrued but it is something along that line). Mom knew my sister believed this. My sister found a dime the morning after Mom died. She found another shortly thereafter. She had just found another when we spoke this week. I have no idea how many dimes she has found. I haven't found one. Not one.

Dimes are my sister's "currency". Mom knew this. Hmmmm....

My other sister has commented on knowing Mom is with her. The eagle that came out of nowhere and flew directly in front of her husband when he was driving to our family farm to collect some old barn boards. The two eagles that showed up after our family gathered at our old farm to spread some of Mom's ashes " was Mom and she brought Dad along".

I try to be logical and not expect other-worldy communication but my heart would be comforted if I could believe again.

As I spoke with my sister yesterday, I could barely speak the words but I told her I was very skeptical of the belief Mom was still with us but I asked, "What if she could be ... and if she could ... she would "speak" to each us in a way we would hear her and feel her presence?" Dimes for one; eagles; lyrics ... what if?

The morning I asked Mom to "talk" to me via the radio waves, this is what I heard:

"Everybody says "say something"
Say something, say something
Then say something, say something, then say something"

I went to work and I said something. The entire day rotated on its axis. I desperately needed to SAY something. 

Thanks, Mom. You ARE the wind beneath my wings. Thank you for lifting me up and carrying me when I feel too weak to do it on my own.

And the real reason I felt Mom's presence behind the lyrics that told me what I needed to hear? Because the song ended with this line:

"Sometimes the greatest way to say something is to say nothing at all"

That line is straight out of the Book of Mom. I truly believe she did think I talked too much.😊

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Spring! At Last!!

Welcome, Spring! You feel like a long, lost friend. I have missed you.

I don't love the early stages of our friendship. The puddles, the mud, the mess and the general untidiness of it all. But I can easily overlook this (especially now that I'm not running a daycare and seeing "mud everywhere" within these thoughts), because I know what is on the horizon.

Earlier mornings. Later evenings. Robins. Signs of the world coming to life again. The sounds of summer are on the horizon. Trees going into bud. The hint of green within the trees which were in hibernation all winter.

Ahhh. It looks like we made it through another winter.

I have felt winter within me for (what feels like) two winters. I keep thinking "spring" is on the horizon and then another "winter storm" hits and I'm down again.

This morning, I am headed off to the accountant to prepare my income taxes and Mom's.

My duties of "executor" will begin to wind down to a halt after today. Everything will be in Revenue Canada's hands once Mom's final return is filed. There are a few more hoops to jump through, forms to be filed and wait for a few final authorizations.

My work here will be done. Soon...

Then what will I do?

I'm not sure. But I'm dreaming of a vacation via rail. I feel ready to dream again. I've missed those dreams. Perhaps even more than I have missed Spring.

Happy Spring to You! May some of those seeds planted long ago come to life and bloom in the summer sun. It's time to come out of hibernation!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Not the Post I Expected to Write...

I was sitting in the middle of a glorious Sunday when I had a flash of the feeling of waking up to "today". STOP!!, I shouted to myself without saying a word. DON'T GO THERE!! I stopped that train of thought before it left the station and was left paralyzed with the knowledge that my weekend hours were numbered.

I woke up this morning and this Goalcast video awaited me: (  It was that of a young man who was told he had mere weeks to live without treatment. His message was one of: "be grateful for the people in your life"; "there is no excuse not to live life fully"; "you owe it to your people to go out and do your best". And he ends with "what a fantastic way to start each day".

I am living the dream. I wake up in my warm, comfy bed each morning. I have the ability to:
  • spring out of bed
  • throw in a load of laundry
  • prepare my breakfast/lunch/supper meals for the day ahead 
  • sit leisurely in front of my computer and connect to the world all around me...
  • ... as I mentally prepare myself for the work day/week ahead of me
  • then DRIVE off in my car - to go wherever I need or want to go
  • and so much more. So very much more
I am fortunate to have good health, work that not only sustains our way of living but I work for people who nourish my need to learn/make a difference/feel respected. 

I live in a world without fear, I have all I need right here under our own roof. I have not only a house, but a home to return to each and every day.

I am gifted beyond words with my family. The past year put us all in the same arena together and we made a formidable team. We faced life, illness, death and dying as one cohesive unit. I was a useful part of that team. 

I'm feeling a tad lost out here in the world alone again. The "alone" part is that of my own doing. I could be (should be? probably will be one day sometime soon?) inviting people into my days and finding my way again. 

I AM part of a few teams ... I am making a difference in the work I do. I am a vital part of what makes things work. But there is one difference. I don't have the back up unit of "family" to walk through this. Yes, I am supported and supportive. But I am weak when I am on my own doing the things I do. 

I am part of two independent units/families. I know and feel their gratitude and support. But it isn't the same. I'm not part of the family unit. There is a subtle difference when you are on the outside. It is almost unperceptive. But it's there. 

I knew (and still know) my family had my back not only last year but all the years that preceded it. I am in a similar but different set of arenas at the moment. I am where I am, because I am needed

I don't know if I have all the tools I need to take me where I need to go. In fact last week, I was reminded of how much I have yet to learn. It just about brought me to my knees.

I see where things are going. There are no happy endings here. 

I knew where things were headed this time last year. There wasn't a happy ending. I knew there wouldn't be. 

Last year, my siblings had my back each and every step of the way. I knew no more about what to do next last year, than I do this year. I just kept showing up. Doing the next right thing. Forgiving myself at the end of each day for the mistakes I made along the way and all that I didn't know. I woke up each morning and simply did my best. Forgave myself regularly. Showed up. Rinse and repeat.

This year, I feel like an island. I have people to turn to for support, guidance and to talk with. But I'm on the outside. It is not my role to lean in and take what I need from my support systems. My role is to relieve their pressure. This is different ...

And I can't run home to Mom's and find some relief. I'm afraid I leaned on Mom during her final year. She heard more than she needed to hear about some of the load I was carrying. 

I have two mother figures in my life but they are not Mom. Man! I miss her today ....

This is not at all what I had in mind when I sat down here with my cup of coffee this morning. I need to get back to the beginning of this post and take what I need from what I learned over at Goalcast:

"Be grateful for the people in your life"
"There is no excuse not to live life fully"
"You owe it to your people to go out and do your best"
"What a fantastic way to start each day"

I am.
I know this.
I do.
It is.

So begins another new day. I'm grateful for this. I will show up. I will do my best. I will forgive myself for any errors of my ways along the way. Rinse and repeat. 

Then I'll do it all over again.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday! At Last!!!

The gift of this Time of Great Exhaustion is the elation a weekend brings. I woke up this morning with the refrains "You can do it!" "One last day!" "You are almost there!" chorusing through my mind.

I can DO this! I can work one more day.

What plans do I have? None. All I can say about that is "Yee haw!!!"

All of the hard things are done:

P Hair is washed
P Sheets are clean
P Laundry is done
P House is vacuumed (then again, I could vacuum twice a day with these cats that shed as much as they breathe)
P Groceries vital to our needs are in the house (thought I could buy some option items that would result in the ability to cook a meal)

There are no errands to be run or missions I must accomplish taking up space in my mind. I can make this weekend whatever I need it to be.

There are books to be read. Cats to admire. Sun to be soaked up. Lost items to be found (this eternal game of an "Easter Egg Hunt" could be considered fun if I tricked myself into believing this was a game - not a symptom of me losing my ability to remember where I put things).

My goals for the weekend are vague but I have a few. I will do what I do and call it good enough. Yes, it will be a weekend titled: "Whatever will be, will be good enough!"

Happy weekend to you as well. Here's hoping for a few rays of sunshine ... but happy to simply be able to stay home. There is no place quite like it!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Off to Work Another Day

I watched a short "Goalcast Video" featuring Stephen Hawking on Facebook yesterday morning. I had no idea he had died until I heard it on the evening news. I was suddenly aware of how much of his story I had actually absorbed (I am afraid I'm going through a bit of a "saturated sponge" stage at the moment and an awful lot of important information is not soaking in).

This morning, I found more of his quotes and became more aware of who he was and how he persevered through his health challenges. What I remembered from what I read yesterday is that he was given a prognosis of living two more years (I have since read four to five years - don't quote me on these statistics) when he was diagnosed with ALS. He was determined to make the most of the time he had. He lived 55 years after his diagnosis. And lived those years fully.

Three of Stephen Hawking's most important pieces of advice:

 "One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. 
Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. 
Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is rare and don't throw it away."

I can't help but think of the words I wrote here yesterday. I was feeling overextended, mentally exhausted and feeling the need to create boundaries to make my current work situation feasible to continue in the long run.

I woke up this morning to read Stephen Hawking's words of advise on work:

"Never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it."

I fully concur. I have often joked that my retirement plan is to work until I die. As the calendar pages fly by and I find myself gainfully employed with no end in sight at the age of 57, I stopped thinking that was funny. I have become overwhelmed with the thought. "I don't want to work forever ..."

I have also realized I need the structure of work, the satisfaction of having completed a feat set out before me and knowing I'm contributing something back into the world around me. I appreciate I have been given the gift of a job that may be the answer to all I am seeking.

I just need to find a way to adjust my thinking and see what control I have over what feels out of my hands at the moment.

My need for organization and "white space" within my work environment is huge. It is very hard to work in an office that is not my own. I have great respect for how others work best and I do not want to overstep my boundaries and organize someone else's work-in-progress.

The idea of eventually working out of my home had my mind fast forwarding the situation at hand, thinking of the day when I would be in control of the clutter, the paper, the excess and my need for a clear and empty work space.

Add the frustration of learning that I have so very much more to learn and no idea how long I may have to learn it and it became the "perfect storm".

I am hyper-aware of how fragile life is. Mom died. She bounced back from everything life threw at her until last year. No one is invincible.

The correlation between losing Mom and the idea of my boss not living forever has created an emotional vortex in my subconscious mind. I try to think logically and act accordingly but my emotions sometimes get the best of me.

Put all of this together and you have my state of mind when I lost my cool at work a few days ago. 

I must walk back into the arena this morning and find a way to regain a sense of control over the situation. I feel like I did back in my daycare days when the challenges at hand made me ask the question "Do you want to quit? Or do you want to fix this?" I chose "fixing" every time (until I quit. Twice). 

I choose to fix this. I know there is a way. 

Ask for what I need - I will offer to work longer hours in lieu of having one weekday off per week.

Organize what I can - at the moment, not only is the work space around me too cluttered to concentrate, but my basket is in a totally "out of control" state.

Ask, learn and absorb - every morsel of information I learn is of utmost importance.

Be grateful for every mistake I make - I need to learn these things. Now. 

Communicate - an open line of communication is the key to everything. I need to talk. I need to listen. We need to put our heads together. We are both in this together and the only way "out" is walking through it.

There is some guilt at play here. I know my battle is minor in comparison to what my boss is going through. She is fighting the fight of her life right now. Plus, she has got deadlines looming all around her and an employee who is reaching their limit. I have added to her worries which is the last thing in the world she needs.

So I must wrap up my morning at home and carry on. It is better to face the fire than walk away from it. It is the only way ... 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Bonus Day

I am sitting still, enjoying the moment at home in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. Can I just say, "This is totally AWESOME!!!"

I'm not doing this "work" thing well. I am working at the same jobs I have worked at for the past year. I am not doing anything new. I am not working for different people. My role is essentially the same as it has been for the previous fourteen months. 

But it feels harder. Oh, so much harder.

A year ago, I was running out to Mom's on as "as needed" or "as I wanted" basis. The drive out to Mom's forced me to be awake, still with myself and think my own thoughts for five consecutive hours one way. Then five more hours coming home.

As a self declared introverted kind of person who gains their energy by being alone, I truly believe the combination of breaking up my work load with visits to see Mom, with the added bonus of ten hours of quiet meditation made all things possible.

I was no super hero last year. I just did the "next right thing". I showed up. I did what I had to do, when I needed to do it. And I just kept going back out to Mom's. Those trips saved me.

I knew my role. I was "daughter" (hear me roar?).

This year? I don't know anything. 

I am working at the same jobs, for the same people without breaks to run out and see Mom, nor my ten hours of quiet meditation on a regular basis.

My weeks are "the same old, same old". The only grasp I've had on holding onto my sanity throughout this long, cold winter was the knowledge that I got most Fridays off and rarely (if ever) had to work more than four days per week at my "day job". Knowing I had one or two weekdays off was the best part of my week. I lived for that bonus day.

Last Friday? I was asked to work. After working the Monday through Thursday which preceded it. Followed by working the following Monday. And (the implication was) another full five day week this week. Which was followed by a comment that there is so much to be done over the course of the next three months, I could pretty much work as much as I want ...

Did she SEE my expression when she told me this? Was this before or after I had a melt down of a minor kind over not knowing how to word and set up the invoices I had been toiling over for two days?  

Do I KNOW how fortunate I am to have a full time job, a regular income, a very good employer and such an opportunity? Yes, I do. I really, really do. 

But it is killing me softly, to work outside of my home ten hours per day, for five days of the week. I'm not made of that kind of stuff. 

I want to go back to running my daycare. I want to go for nice, long walks, I want to watch for the first robin of the season. I want to count ladybugs, chase butterflies, pack picnic lunches and create little adventures outside. I miss working from my home where I was my own boss and I could create the kind of days I needed. Most of all? I miss quiet time!

My ten hour work days are ten hours of "being on". Being accountable. Talking. Being sociable. No breaks. I barely stop to go to the bathroom ...

It can be done. I just don't want to do it. I just need that ONE weekday off to make it possible to do the rest of the things.

This morning, I decided to wash my sheets. By the time the weekend finally arrives, I never want to spend that time on the weekend because I have ZERO energy to expend. I would do it today!

I washed my sheets. Then I realized the mattress cover was due for a wash. The mattress was covered with big "lint balls" from the backing of the mattress cover. These balls didn't come off easily. I had to pick them off one at a time. I eventually just decided to shave it. 

It was such a novel concept. Time AND ambition ... wait! I didn't have time. I was supposed to leave for work soon. 

My little melt down yesterday stemmed from reaching the end of my knowledge base. I have worked on my own for almost four months and I have worked to the best of my capability without the guidance of my boss. I knew I had many shortcomings. But I kept trying. Yesterday, it became painfully obvious that I don't know enough to do it "all". I have soooo much to learn. But she is slowly recovering from a broken hip and she has only pockets of time and energy to ensure all is being done correctly.

Today, I knew she had appointments most of the day. She wouldn't be around for me to ask questions. I was feeling quite "broken" from the combination of working on my "day off" (last Friday) and my realization that I have so very much yet to learn. So I called and asked for today off. 

What could she say? She said "yes". As I called, she was heading out the door to work. She wouldn't have been there when I arrived. She had appointments. 

I feel inadequate, exhausted and tired of being "on" (even my weekends have been more committed to being social than I feel capable of). I have reached the end of my abilities. At least as of yesterday. I needed today (is it a "want" or a "need"? Honestly, it feels like a need) ...

I have been grasping at straws, trying to gain a foothold on this life of mine. I have been losing things. Waiting for other things. I'm running behind on most things.

This morning, I found the second "lost-to-me" item I have been looking for, for a while. This afternoon, I finally received a pension statement I had requested last December. Another letter finally made its way into my hands in a long and round-about kind of way. 

And now? Thanks to taking today off? I get to sleep in clean, fresh sheets tonight. 

A day off AND clean sheets (not to mention getting my hands on a few things I thought were lost to me forever) and I feel like I can live to work another day. 

There is nothing quite like a day off when you least expect it (and nothing quite like working a day you expected to have off either). It will all balance out in the end. It always does.

Friday, March 9, 2018

New Math

I have been playing the points game with a few of my "spending cards". I had only two small missions to complete:
  1. Spend $951.00 in just under three weeks
  2. Fill up with gas three times within a month
The rewards I will reap are:
  1. A $20.00 credit on my credit card if I reach 2000 points
  2. A bonus on my Air Miles equivalent to $10.00 if I make the third fill-up in time
Thirty dollars is my prize, if I manage to meet these deadlines. 

I have two days left to fulfill my third stop at the gas pumps and six days to spend $150. Thankfully, I can use my credit card to purchase my gas so that should knock down my need to spend by approximately $40 to $50. Whew!

Trying to rein in my spending has been like trying to hold water in my hands for oh, say about the past year or forever. Every time I thought I could count on a relatively predictable month, some unexpected expense would arise.

Then all of a sudden ... "this". A time of NO spending. I have tried. Oh, how I have tried!

First off, I booked a hotel room for an up and coming sibling gathering. I tried to pay for my brother's, only he had already paid for his room. I had the opportunity to pay for my sisters', but as this unfolded, I was knee deep in a "road trip" away from home. Followed by the need to rush home to prepare for and await the arrival of an out of town guest. It was not a day where I had the presence of mind to stop and think about reaping the rewards of spending.

My road trip would require a gas fill-up on our return to the city so I was eager to fill up at the gas station specified by Air Miles. Except ... the people who road along with me insisted on paying for the gas. So I stopped at Costco. It was on the way home, the price is normally about 4 cents per litre cheaper and I wasn't spending my own money. Rats!

Oh well, I would just pay for our gas using the credit card where I needed to spend $950. Except it didn't work. I must have forgotten the PIN, I thought. Double rats!!

Then I remembered I had a fairly extensive list (5 things) of items I wanted to purchase at Costco. You cannot walk out of Costco without spending double the amount you intend to spend. Right? Bonus! This would rack up my necessary spending, purchasing items I needed to buy. I went to pay with my credit card and THEN it hit me. "Do you accept VISA credit cards?", I asked. The answer was "no". THAT is why I couldn't pay for my gas with the card I needed to use to play my spending game.

I was so frustrated. That would have totalled $125 against my need-to-spend total. Instead, I had to use another credit card which (although I am rewarded for spending on it as well), didn't have a deadline to meet.

Oh well. Tomorrow was another day.

As I was driving to work, I heard that Michelle Obama was coming to town. Yes! I would buy two tickets and ask a friend to join me later. Except ... it would mean making arrangements to leave work early; drive to a venue I don't relish going to; then I finally asked a friend to join me and they were unable to go that day. So I talked myself out of it. Too much trouble. I googled what Michelle's platform was about and it didn't really sound like "my cup of tea".

I would live to spend another day.

The next day, I found myself with some hours to kill and it dawned on me that my spending dollars were doubled if I used my credit card at I had started the quest to purchase some jeans a few months prior but forgot to follow through; summer will eventually come and I wanted some capris; and there were a few books I had been lusting over for quite some time. My grand total was $102.07 (doubled, that added up to $204 to add onto my points, so I was starting to make some headway).

I like to have a pair of "back-up shoes" on hand (my feet are so finicky, I always buy the same shoes and panic a little bit when I don't have a spare set sitting in the closet). Of course the shoes came to $49.97 and shipping is free if you spend $50.00 or more at So I added some microwave popcorn to my order and called it good. I was inching closer to my spending goal.

A weekend or two worth of groceries, filling the gas tank a few more times and I should easily make the required spending limit.

Groceries - $102.72; gas; $46.99 ... I still had to spend $251.00 to reach my target.

Starting to panic, I thought "What can I buy that will not be wasted?" The rules to spending within my small little world, is that you don't "spend frivolously". Restaurant and take-out meals are considered "groceries" (aka: necessities) in my budgeting scheme. So ... I spent $100.00 in fast food gift cards. When you know the money will be spent sooner or later, it is not defined as wasteful (I can justify anything - just ask me).

This brings me to today.

I'm meeting my sister for supper tonight (on "me", so I can add it to my required spending) and as luck would have it, the gas station I must use to qualify for the third and final fill-up within the next two days is right beside the restaurant we are meeting at. One stop at a grocery store within the next six days and I do believe I should have spent all I need to spend.

All of this ... for $30.00 worth of free spending.

What lengths would YOU go to, to reap the rewards of the games we play to rack up the points on your spending cards?