Thursday, July 31, 2008

Your Inner Well Being

I feel a connection to people whose sense of who they are is shattered, threatened or eroded. Losing myself within a relationship has been a recurring theme in my life. Without a strong sense of myself, I let another person sway my thinking, feeling and outlook on life. I gradually let go of things that were important to my sense of well being. So gradually, that I could not see where it began or how it evolved to the place where I had sunk to. I started belittling myself and lost all sense of 'me'.

This past year has been a gradual rebuilding, renovation and strengthening within. I have stumbled upon the formula that worked for me. A 'recipe' to start to feel good, strong and happy within my thoughts - my centre of strength and well being.

I have a marvelous support system of friends and family that have cheered me along the way. It seemed every baby step that I took forward, I felt that angel at my side urging me forward. My angels were in many forms. Friends and family sum it up the best. But even when left to my own devices, there was a positive self-talk happening within my brain. I found quotes, sayings and positive thinking articles that kept moving me in a forward direction. There may have been times when I hit a plateau. But I never felt that I slid backwards once my thoughts started heading in a positive and forward direction. 'Look forward, not back' was a mantra that took some time to incorporate into my brain waves.

Those quiet thoughts within your own mind are those that can make you or break you. If your inner voice is constantly belittling or negative it is hard for your outer self to have a positive outlook on things. For myself, I find it necessary to read, absorb, listen and surround myself with positive thoughts and people. Being around negative energy drains me.

I have also found that pursuing something that excites me, drives me or that I feel passionate about puts a little bit of fire behind my actions. That driving force has kept me trying one more new thing at a time. Feeling excited about something in my life makes waking up in the morning something that I look forward to. And it's important that passion is driven by me - that no outside force is necessary to keep the fire burning within.

Writing has always been something that I fall back on in good times and in bad and everywhere in between. It releases words and energy (positive or negative) out of my thinking and out into the world. There is nothing worse than a negative thought that starts spinning out of control within your mind. It attracts negative energy like bees to honey. It is poison to a person's sense of well being. Writing has always helped me release those thoughts. If nothing else, when you put it on paper you can see the number of things that you are dealing with. When thoughts are freefalling within your mind they multiply, infect and interfere with anything positive. On paper you may see 10 negative thoughts. Within your mind, those very same 10 thoughts feel like 100.

Your passion doesn't even have to be something that the world acknowledges as a true talent. I think of my singing when I say that. I have always loved to sing. There was a time (before I saved up for my first tape recorder and heard my own voice), that I had the illusion that I was a good singer. After facing the reality that I was a mediocre singer at best (a bad singer, at worst), I learned to turn up the volume of the music higher than my own voice and I could still feel the joy of singing without the reality of my voice interfering. Then my world got busy, my house got full and the times that I could turn up my music and sing my heart out became next to nil. It was in the painting of my newly renovated bedroom that I discovered the pure joy I felt as I sang loudly and sang for hours on end. There is something joyful &/or emotional that is released from me when I sing.

What works for me doesn't necessarily work for everyone. I think the secret is to think back on your younger years and try to remember what made you feel joyful. Something that you did for you - whether or not you were good at it. Simply something that lightened the load and made you feel good or was an outlet for positive or negative energy forces within. Whether it is sports, creating something with your hands or mind, working, losing yourself in nature or whatever your inner happiness thrived on ... I think that finding that and nurturing it brings a sense of well being and grounds a person.

I look around me at times and feel that I can sense when a person that I know well, feels 'lost'. I just want to help that person find that key within themselves that can unlock the door to find that inner happiness. Happiness that nothing or no one can take away from them. I wish that the key that I found for myself worked for everyone. No one can take their own key and place it in the hands of someone who isn't ready, isn't looking or can't accept it. It has to start from within.

Every person deserves to feel good within. A feeling that cannot be taken away or dependent on anything or anybody. I believe that with my whole heart and soul.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Disconnected

My internet was down for the majority of the day. And did life go on? Differently than it would have, had the internet been working ... but the day did unfold, even without my connection to the outside world via the internet.

It makes me wonder if I have become too dependent on this computer network world. I run to the computer to check the weather, check my email, do my banking, answer any little question I may wonder about, download a song ... ... ... You name it, a person can do it with the internet.

And is this a good thing? I am pondering that. In my world without a lot of personal adult contact, I know I rely on this connection.

Some days this feels like my life line. And is that a good thing? Something to ponder ...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Give More Than You Take

The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die - John Izzo

It is in the giving that you receive...

The magic of Christmas was finally revealed to me when I learned to live that statement. The Christmases that stand out in my mind are the ones where I was more excited about what I gave than what I received. In fact, a few 'from the heart' words in whatever language fit the giver the best (written, spoken or the action), is the best gift I could ever receive.

It was after the magic of this past Christmas that I started my blog in a way to keep connected to people all year long instead of that one letter during the Christmas season. I am quoting myself from my very first blog entry on December 29th of last year:

"It has been a 'Christmas of all Christmases' this year. It seems that the spirit of the season enveloped me and touched everything in my life. The entire month seems like it has been one blessing after another. Gatherings with friends and family ... the shared history that makes the simple act of getting together a gift unto itself.

I thoroughly enjoy the Christmas card exchange part of this season. Keeping in touch with friends and family near and far ... finding a unique way to 'tell my story' ... writing to each individual and feeling as though I had just sat down and shared a coffee (though the conversation is a little one sided) ... it inspires me, it envelops me with such a feeling of 'oneness' with this big place called earth. To feel connected to so many, from so many places, and our shared pasts. Hmmm..."

This was the spirit in which I started the year and it has been a gift that kept on giving. One inspiration led to the next; one success gave me the courage to try again; one well timed phone call or email spurred me onto the next. In each case, I was 'giving' a small piece of myself. And there was a person on the receiving end that could receive something from my gesture.

This has been the best lesson of all for me. In opening up my world and taking chances on reaching out to people, trying new things, following my heart and following my whims it has created a new person within.

A while ago, the thought of the day from "The Secret" calendar that I have, was making sure that your thoughts/words/actions and surroundings don't contradict your desires when you want to attract a relationship. To think of the actions you would take in preparation for the relationship and do as many of them as you can. I read that entry and felt that I have taken positive steps to attract positive people in my life. I am not necessarily thinking of a relationship of the male/female variety. I am thinking of the relationships that I already have with the people in my life. And the new friendships that I am making along the way.

I like the person that I am. I feel better than I have ever felt before in my life. There is a contentedness within me that nothing or no one can take from me. I have learned it and I have earned it. It is here to stay.

I do believe that I was discovering the 'Five Secrets' long before I read this article. And as I started out saying when I first started this entry ... it is in the giving that you receive. I have received more than I could ever hope for. I am happy.

"Give more than you take."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Live the Moment

The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die - John Izzo

Living in a world where I am surrounded by children who live and breathe the essence of that statement should make this a no-brainer for me. But it doesn't. Maybe that is the lesson to be learned for me in this child oriented world of mine.

I have been working on this theme in my life. My daycare blog, my movies, my writing ... I am looking for the little miracles and special moments in my everyday world instead of looking beyond what lies beyond my reach. I am looking for the gems hidden among what I already have.

And I am rich. When I can truly lose myself in the innocence and honest conversations of children I am blessed. Unfortunately I have that lack of attention span (doing 6 things at a time and thinking of 6 million more things), that keeps this a challenge for me.

I must learn to do this in every area of my life. To lose myself in the moment with my own children ... to sit down and do absolutely nothing else when I am talking on the phone ... to take time for myself where I am not just squeezing it in, between loads of laundry and the next 5 things on my to-do list. To lose myself in the moment. It is something to strive for (and succeed at!).

"Live the Moment."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Become Love

The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die - John Izzo

Become love - "make the choice not to search for love but to be a loving person"

To become a loving person ... I once heard it described that love is a verb. And in that context I feel that I can become love.

Uttering the words "I love you" has never come easy to me. I've had the words spoken to me when the person saying them wasn't acting in a loving fashion. The words were not spoken at home as I grew up. But the verb was always acted out. I was loved. And that was more important to me than hearing the words.

The words by themselves are meaningless. The action of loving and being loved is heartfelt and true. There is a language that transcends the verbal language we use. And that is the language which is most comfortable for me.

Become love. Being open, honest, giving, appreciative and giving someone my full attention define that statement to me. In most ways I am succeeding. The one thing I am faltering at, is giving someone my full attention. Lately my mind has been abuzz with at least 6 things I'm physically trying to do. And that is just my body. My mind is all over the place. So I must work on my attention span and the attention the people around me deserve (this is also what was lacking in my last failed relationship - note taken!).

Become love. It is an evolution of a person and becomes who you want to be. For someone to meet you and feel that emotion coming from within ... could only attract positive into ones life. Couldn't it?

"Become love."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Leave No Regrets

The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die - John Izzo

This is the second theme that is unveiled in this book.

This past year, my inner motto has been to follow my whims. If I have an idea, I follow through with it. If I'm thinking of someone, I will call or write to them. If I feel the need to be around people, I initiate a visit. If I need to step away from 'life as I know it', I make plans to do so.

I believe that I could say I have had close to 100% success with this way of thinking. Yes, there have been times where I have made an offer or reached out to someone who wasn't at a place to take me up on my offer or to reach back ... but I have no regrets. I followed my inner voice (I was true to myself) and I put myself out there.

'Out there' is a scary place when you aren't familiar with it. 'In here' ... inside my home, my brain, my comfort zone is a place I enjoy and have not felt the burning desire to venture away from. 'In here' is safe. 'Out there' is a risk. But it is a risk worth taking .... condition being ... that you are true to yourself.

"Leave no regrets."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Be True to Yourself

"The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die" - John Izzo

This is a book I must find. I read a small article that briefly described the book and I feel compelled to read the book in its entirety.

One of the themes in this book is "Be True to Yourself".

As I look back on my life and weigh it against that measure, the times I wasn't true to myself, the times I ignored that inner voice talking (sometimes it was screaming and I still overrode it) are the times that I strayed from the 'right' decision.

Okay, no decision that I have made has been truly wrong. I've had to take a few detours in my life to become the person I am. A person who has chosen enough tough paths to make me more compassionate and accepting.

While in the midst of fighting the battles and surviving certain choices, I was so deep into that road that I couldn't see my way out. In each decision that wasn't the right one for me, there was a time where I didn't know where to turn.

It seemed there was a crisis point in each detour in my life. A point where a firm choice had to be made at that fork in the road. It was at the peak of each crisis that my inner voice came through loud and clear. Once I followed that voice, the obstacles disappeared.

Each time my life hit a point where I could hear and heed that inner voice and be true to myself, I made a choice that I have never regreted.

"Be true to yourself."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Seasons of Our Lives

As I looked out the window this morning, to a cloudy overcast day ... all I could see was my green lawn.

My lawn has never been greener than it has been this year. Our summer of intermittent showers, along with the grass seed I've sprinkled on some dead patches has done wonders for the appearance of my lawn. On the other hand, my mom who takes pride in her always lush, green, weed-free lawn has had a season of stagnant growth.

Lawns as with people, can't always be their best. There are years where they may battle drought, insect infestations and no matter what a person does it just doesn't seem to matter.

We all have seasons like that. Drought (lack of enthusiasm, inspiration and fun), infestations (illness, family crisis and negative forces within) and times where it seems like you go in circles - no matter what you do, you end up where you started.

The thing that one doesn't see is what is happening during those seasons of stagnancy. While the lawn appears to be struggling from outward appearances, it is building a stronger root system. "What does not kill us makes us stronger." The seasons where a person is faced with the challenge of placing one foot in front of the other are building inner strength and character. Those seasons may not see a person in full bloom, but they are seasons where the 'root system' is becoming stronger.

"Into each life some rain must fall" ... try to sprinkle a little seed during the rainy season in your life, so when the sun does shine again (and it always does), something beautiful can come of the rain.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Room for Rent?


Here are some pictures of our finished bedroom. This is the corner where a TV will go ... I can envision this as my exercise area. For now, a TV and my exercise DVD's and weights will have to suffice. I'm thinking about a treadmill, cranking up the music and singing as I sweat though...


This empty space is where a computer desk could go. The internet hookup is all set up and ready.


We have a closet without a door, shelves or rod for now. But doesn't the playpen fit in there nicely? A nice, cozy spot for a napping child.


This is the futon that My Youngest convinced me that we could build. And we did!! Not without putting it together backwards first though. What does 'right' mean when you are putting together a futon? Right when you are sitting on it? Right when you are facing it? I guessed the sitting right. I was wrong. I love putting things together so much that I always get to double my work.
But it is done. Tomorrow's goal: paint that bedroom door the right color!!

Slow Motion Today

I went through my morning ritual of not allowing myself to look at the clock the first time I woke up. The next time, the sun was shining brightly and I let myself peek. 5:45. Wow! I slept in a little. But I wasn't ready to move quite yet. 7:45 was the next time I woke.

After the 2 hour job of dismantling the garage sale and getting things back in order I had invited Wes and Dale over for a BBQ. I moaned to Kurt as I sat in the car (feeling like a huge dustball), picking up the garage sale signs, "What was I thinking?? This was a take-out food night."

But I showered and started getting ready for my guests. And it was one of the best family evenings we've had ... ever? We've had some enjoyable get togethers when Mom is here. But just my family? It's usually a little strained, conversation doesn't quite flow and everyone feels a little bit awkward.

Last night was perfect.

I still had several hours of work to do after everyone left - cleaning up from our BBQ, then I thought I'd quickly clean up the basement. Things needed more than a quick picking-up after the last of the renos created enough dust and dirt that required some deeper cleaning. Then I started moving things into the new bedroom. I thought I'd look at assembling the new futon. And then I felt like the broken air conditioner and computer. I just needed to power down, blow the dust out and try again in the morning.

My fingers are all numb as I type this, so I think I shall go and find a comfortable place to sit as I have my breakfast and a cup of coffee.

I'm not quite ready to power up yet.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Garage Sale Part 2

video

The Garage Sale Movie

video

Another Eager Start

I didn't even look at the clock the first time I woke up this morning. I thought "Rest .... relax ..." So I did. The next time I woke up I let myself look. 5:10. "Rest! relax!!" One more time. Okay. This time when I woke up it said 5:25. Ahhh ... much better.

So I am up and awake and eager to go again.

Okay, how many things can I fix around here by turning it off, cleaning out the dust and turning it back on in the morning? I'm working on #2.

Last night the computer turned itself off while I was working at it. Twice. The last time it did that we had to get a new power supply. So I did what I did with our broken air conditioner. Cleaned it out, dug out the spare power supply that I have (from the last it broke down within the guarantee period), left it turned off for the night and was armed and ready to try again this morning.

And it worked!! I must have a really dirty house if cleaning out the air supply is fixing things. That task of getting the furnace/ducts cleaned out during my holiday is sounding like a good one (probably a good idea after all the drywall dust from the bedroom reno project).

I made a little video of our garage sale (that I've been working on since the computer started shutting down on me last night). I keep freezing up that program as well. And have I learned to save my work first?? This is at least my fifth try and haven't learned yet (sixth time lucky).

I shall download my little movie if I can ... then I am off to do a few painting projects before I sit down and relax with my morning breakfast smoothy and a cup of coffee.

I'm anxious to get moving again. I wonder what the day has in store? Hopefully our clear out prices (I advertised 1/2 price today on the remaining merchandise) will empty out the garage. That is far too much 'stuff' to deal with after I made up my mind to let it go.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Garage Sale

9:55 am

As I sit and gaze at the accumulated stuff that we are willing to part with ... I am aghast.

Granted, a lot of the stuff we have for sale are things that we bought at a garage sale, got years of use from and are willing to let go of.

When I look at some things and know that we have made good use of them and have outgrown or out used it, I'm happy to know that it was money well spent.

I look at my collection of books. I'm an avid reader and I just can't seem to reign myself in, when one of my (many) favorite authors comes out with a new book. I love when I can lend out books from my collection and share the wealth. So I've dragged out my entire library. If someone can enjoy a book at a bargain price, that is a bonus. I'll keep whatever doesn't sell.

It's when I look at the things that only got minimal use that I cringe (well ... we did pay for our tent with one use since we would have stayed in a hotel if we hadn't tented ... and it did get used a handful of times after that). But really as I sit here and look around me, there are only a few items that fit that description.

The really sad part is in the unused gifts. I've received so many well intended gifts over the course of time. Gifts full of good intentions but something that I would never use. So as I sell those items, I'm reminded of the good deeds and thoughts that were the true gift behind the material item in front of me.

The fun of this sale is in the conversations (that, sitting in among the stuff that defines you promotes). There is sense of knowing a person and relating to a common interest that is revealed by placing many of your life's belongings out for the world to see. A fast forward way of knowing a small piece of a person. Then, there are the neighbors that drop by with an excuse to chat ... and the hope that a friend may stop by for a coffee.

There is so much more than simply the money that can be made at a garage sale. Maybe that is the reason I have them on a semi regular basis.

After sitting among the material excess around me this morning, I vow that I'll never let this material overload happen again!

Ya, right .....

Where to Begin??

I haven't woken up with this much zest for a while. After a late night preparing for our garage sale last night I wondered if I should set the alarm so I wouldn't sleep too late. I thought "No" ... and I was right. I rolled over to see what time it was this morning. 5:09 am. I laid there and thought "Lots of time to sleep" ... Wrong.

So I've been up and about for 2 1/2 hours doing what I love to do most on a Saturday morning. Having coffee, emailing and writing. And I still have words left over.

The excitement coarsing through my entire being is intoxicating (actually sometimes I do wonder about these crests of adrenaline .... do I have bipolar tendencies??). It took a while after my aunts surgery (9 days ago) to refind the state of normal my mind has become accustomed to. Just an eagerness to live the day.

Preparing for this garage sale was the tonic I needed. When your body gets physically moving, you start setting goals, you accomplish one small item on that big to-do task at hand and you start looking forward .... it is all good. To me, it is the recipe to maintaining the inner me I want to be.

Taking a day off (that would be last Sunday) to just rest and relax and go with the flow of the day is wonderful. But it can go awry if you don't wake up the next morning with a true purpose to the day.

I felt that I had lost my purpose, the direction I had wanted to go. But it is found. If only there were 4 of me, I would be going 4 different directions right now. I want to write, I want to paint (the bedroom renovation is 99.9% complete, but I need to do some touch up painting), I want to organize the new bedroom, I want to start a new family history book (my dad's side - the letters I want to write to his brothers are formulating in my mind as I sit), I want to get ready for the BBQ I am having tomorrow for my own little family, I want to be out in the garage 'manning the sale' (maybe I need 6 of me) ...

I love this drive, this ambition, this enthusiasm. I love my life.

P.S. And ... I'm on holidays!! 17 consecutive days off. Yes ... life is very, very good ...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Attitudes on Money

I feel like I have spent my lifetime obsessing about money.

My first money-memory is saving up for a tape recorder when I was 10. I bargained with my parents to double my allowance while I saved up for it (possibly from 50 cents a week to a dollar). I believe that tape recorder was around $30. At age 11 I became obsessed with the fact that I wanted an Old English Sheepdog. I babysat dogs that summer (I was too young to babysit kids) and started my 'when-I-move-out-I-want-to-buy-a-Sheepdog-savings-plan'. From then on, it seems I can remember wondering "How can I earn money?" I babysat (children, as soon as I was old enough); I worked at an ice cream kiosk in the mall; I got married and had a baby. Then I was running the household budget. It was a different world back (1978) then but we could stretch $25 to pay for a weeks worth of groceries. Then, I was on my own and providing for myself and my son ...

Throughout my life, I have had financial goals and financial plans. In my young and frivolous years they were fun goals (though I had bought my own bedroom suite, TV and stereo by the time I was 16 years old). Through the lean years, I have stretched the budget; paid off debts; and accumulated the belongings that one's house contains. I've 'lost it all' (not quite - but almost) and rebuilt. I have borrowed money from my mom and repaid it. I've gone through spells of spending foolishly. But through it all, I've kept the budget pretty much in order and paid my way.

Fast forward to this mornings epiphany ....

I am normally completely obsessive about my summer time budget in the world of babysitting. I take 2 unpaid weeks of vacation; I have parents vacationing; my summertime pay varies and it is hard to accurately guess what I will earn over these 2 summer months. Thus ... the obsession.

For some reason, this year I was more relaxed about it. I have been saving 10% of whatever I earn over the course of most of the year. So I have a nice little nest egg accumulated to get me through summer. Then I decided to go ahead with a bedroom renovation (there goes the nest egg - whenever he finishes it up and bills me for it). I was concerned, but not 'over the top' with anxiety as I normally would be.

And then unexpected money started trickling in this week. A very generous bonus from a parent that I babysit for ... repayment for postage (for mailing out The Books) that I wasn't expecting ... a payment for The Books (that I kept forgetting about) .... Small things. But in the month of July, to have some 'purse money' come to me in the mail? Amazing.

Then I went to pay my mid month bills this morning. I will be short 2 weeks pay this month, but it is looking like I should be able to pay my way without dipping into the nest egg I have accumulated.

During all of this, I have been preparing for a garage sale. I've had several sales over the course of years ... but for some reason, the peace of mind that is coming with this particular sale is rather different. I'm sorting through the excesses of our life, closets, basement and garage. And it is cleansing. I'm keeping what is important and letting go of the rest. Not because I have to, or because I think I'm going to merge houses with someone, or because I'm moving. No other reason than to clean house.

I've had many 'money miracles' along the way. And it seems the more that I respect my money, the more 'miracles' happen. Small stuff - no lotteries or huge windfalls. But like the postage-money that showed up in this weeks mail. Small amounts that make a big difference at the right time.

My Youngest had been saving diligently for an X-Box for several months. Finally, finally money wasn't going through his hands like water. He was respecting it, saving it and careful with it. And then he found a $20 bill. I then told him my little miracle money stories - about when I am careful with my money I seem to be rewarded with small bonuses (just like him finding $20). It's quite possible that these miracles happen regardless. But if you are in spending money mode, finding a $20 bill is small stuff, because you are spending far more than that.

That said, I came home to a hot house last night. The air conditioner quit. I turned it off, cleaned the furnace filter and brushed off the outside unit to hopefully give it some more air flow. And it is working again this morning. But a service call is most likely in order. Thank goodness for that untouched nest egg ....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Who Am I?

I woke up this morning thinking "Who am I??"

The first words that came to me were mom, daughter, sister, friend .... The words all described who I am to other people. Not who I really am.

So I thought a little harder. I would also say that I write. But where have I been writing? My blogs, The Book, letters, notes and cards. I am writing for other people. What do I write just for me?

Do I really need the feedback from other people to keep moving in a forward direction?? Would I be okay if I was isolated from the world and had only a pen and paper as my companion?

I think I would. I have journaled my uncensored thoughts for my entire life. It started out by scrawling "I HATE (my brother)" on the blackboard, downstairs in our duplex when I was 10ish years old. I remember the emotion that came out of my being when I (probably) broke the chalk in my frustration (point of interest ... I don't hate him any more).

I wrote letters (again ... the 'audience' I was talking about before) to my old friends when we moved to Edmonton when I was 9. I wrote in a diary. I wrote down my many thoughts as I faced parenthood at age 17. I journaled my emotions after I moved my young family out here when I was 27, when I faced a frightening health concern alone at age 37 and then again as I went through the discovery that I was pregnant and on my own again. I wrote out my emotions as I tried to sort through the chaos last year at age 47 ... (my 10 year cycles).

I am a writer. I write for myself. And if someone else can benefit from my words, I try to share them. I write.

I also sing and I dance.

I sing 'just for me'. Lately, I only dance with my instructor ... but I do love to dance when I am asked ... I used to dance around the house (I want to do that again!). My fingers tap out a tune when there is silence around me. I do this constantly and unconsciously. Music is a part of my soul.

I am at my best when these creative sides to myself are being nurtured. It seems that the last week or so the creative juices have stopped flowing. I felt a little lost.

I'm on my way back.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Before and After With a Difference


Before


After!

Yes, Kurt got his shaggy locks trimmed this past weekend. And ... as much as I was excited about him finally getting his hair cut ... I must admit that I was becoming accustomed to his longer hair.

This is the first time that Kurt actually made a stand with his hair and told me that he wanted to grow it out. I got him to agree to 'tidy it up' with a trim and thinning at one point, but after that he was on his own.

It takes a while to get used to a change. And hair is really a relatively easy way to let kids have their stab at self expression. No matter what ... it can be cut ... or it grows out.

Dale went through some years of expressing himself through his hair styles. He went from wanting to grow it out (like some wrestler), to losing patience with the growing process and shaving himself bald. The bald look was not one of my favorites. But ... hair grows.

It's hard to take a step back from the parenting role at times and realize that your kids need some freedoms in their life. Hair is a pretty innocent thing to practise on.

Kurt has had his say with his hair ... and he took it upon himself to return to his old buzz cut of days gone by. And now that I've seen both of his looks, I'm wondering if he should have left it a little longer on top??

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pick Up and Carry On

The past few days have been a little off the mark for me in my 'new life'. I've been thinking too much, doing too little and the creative side of my brain took a holiday.

The last 'creative' thing that I did was to make up a little card to give to my aunt. Just some pictures that I had from when we went to her house in February and a few words to go along with them. Nothing really deep or sappy. Just light thoughts of wishing Mom was here for her and picturing her back at home. As I thought of what I would write, I knew that I had already said and written the 'big stuff'. What I haven't written in a letter or note or in The Book, I have said out loud to her. I had nothing left to say but the sentiment of picturing her back in good health and enjoying the cozy home that she has made for herself.

There is a great amount of peace in knowing that the people in your life know what a gift you have found in them. It has become second nature to me, to let people know how I feel and how I treasure their friendship and the many gifts that they bring into my life. Just by being themselves. It gets easier and easier the more I do it. By writing things down, it has become natural to just say it out loud to a person. It is always nice to have the written word as back up though. Something that can be reread and reexperienced whenever the need arises.

I have a friend that never gives a card without her gift of words inside. As I was housecleaning my 'memory box' last year, I culled through the cards I have received over the years. There were many cards with a touching sentiment or verse. Those ones, I saved so that I could 'regift' the sentiment as part of another gift another day. The handwritten notes ... I saved. Just for me. When a person is looking back and going through memories those words written with such care and from the heart are the most precious gift of all.

As much as I have given, I have received. Every person's way of communicating is different. There are those that can speak the words ... or let their actions speak for them ... or just in the quiet of a conversation where they let you speak your heart ... I believe I have been surrounded by a family of friends that have given me the courage to find my method of communicating my thoughts.

After a two day hiatus from the creative and busy process that I have come to call my life, I'm ready to make some new lists and start some new projects to get the positive ions in my brain back into the forefront of my life.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A New Day Dawning

Yesterday was not a good day. Not in any capacity. It ended on a much better note though. I called my mom and she talked me through the emotions of the day and I felt ever so much better.

My concern for my aunt ruled the day. I knew that it was in the back of my mind, so when little things that were going wrong felt bigger than they actually were, I thought it was probably related.

By the end of the day I really, really, really needed the kids to be picked up. And parents were late. One family that is never ever late ... was 1/2 hour later than expected. This is a family that is normally here 3 hours. And they were here almost 9 hours. Another family 'forgot' to pick up their kids. Not really forgot, but the mom was on pick-up and her alarm didn't go off. She didn't call here looking for her kids until 7:15. Thankfully I had been able to get ahold of the dad and he did get his sister to pick them up. I was on the brink of tears when one mom asked me what was wrong (and I am never that close to the 'edge').

I had a dance lesson to go to the moment my last family left. And as usual, dancing worked its magic and I felt 110% better just to be out of the house, moving to music and enjoying the company of my instructor. By the time I got home, I was revived.

I decided to call Mom anyway. I needed to hear how her sister was doing. Mom didn't know much, but I think we both received solace in each others company. Mom is normally the worrier. I am much more of the mind 'bad news travels fast' so if we hadn't heard anything, things were most likely okay.

But this aunt has touched me and my world. And I wanted a little more than to assume 'no news is good news'.

Talking to Mom grounded me. We shared our concerns and stories ... and I hope we both slept a little better because of it.

And now a new day awaits. As I always say ... the good thing about a really bad day, is that usually the next day is better. And I'm sure it will be.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Without the Words

I feel full of emotions this morning but have few words to attach to them.

There are times when there is no right thing to say ... you can't do anything ... life as you know it goes on ... but 'out there', there is someone dealing with a life changing, life threatening situation. And you wait.

This morning is like that.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Quiet Morning

This morning, my thoughts are with my aunt who is in the hospital. And my mom. Mom and her sister both have long distance phone bundles so they will often talk on the phone several times a day, despite the 6+ hours that physically separate them. To hear how often and how long they chat on the phone makes me think of two young girls. And I think they also feel a sense of that, as they talk about the many things that come up when you talk to someone so often.

We have been hoping that Mom would consider moving back 'home' to be closer to family. At one point, it really seemed like it was going to happen. Then the obstacles started appearing, not to mention the onerous task it would be for Mom to move, change banking, doctors and everything that is tied to her life where she is at. Then when she got the long distance phone package and was a phone call away from anyone at anytime, I think it bridged the gap for her. So the idea of a move has been tabled.

There have been a lot of family occasions to bring Mom 'home' this spring/summer. She has been on the road a lot. But I think when all is said and done, she is pleased to have her house as she knows it, to return to. It is her home.

But now, with her sister in the hospital and that 'phone connection' missing, I can't help but think how hard this must be for Mom. I wish she was here ...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Following Through ...

Once again, I had the kind of day where I followed through on some ideas that were whirling around in my head. One idea is in the 'up in the air' stage as I wait to hear back from people. The other idea I had was to print off my blog and give it to my aunt to read.

She is in the hospital and I had gone to see her yesterday. Her parting words to me were something like, "If you ever write another book, I'd like to read it!" So in the 'quiet' of the morning, her words came back to me. I thought I could print off my blog entries and drop them off for her to peruse through, while she was confined to the hospital.

So I did it. The meanderings of my mind could be extremely tedious to go through. But a lot of the thoughts and feelings that I had before/during/after The Book have been documented here, so I thought there could be some interest for her. And besides, sometimes when you are in the hospital it is simply nice to have a diversion.

I dropped it off tonight and I'm glad I did. She had received bad news today and is scheduled for surgery on Thursday.

Just before I arrived, she said the news was starting to settle in. She talked about the events of the day and her concerns. It sounds like she has a wonderful doctor and she is so relieved that she is in the hospital - for her sake and her daughters. She said this way her daughter doesn't have to worry about her because she is being well taken care of.

This is an aunt that I have always felt a connection to, because Mom talked so much of her family and I felt like I knew this aunt better than I actually did. Then when we were collecting stories for The Book, I got to know her so much better. We exchanged letters, phone calls ... and I got to read her write-ups of her life (almost) first hand. It was an honor and a pleasure to feel this connection that I always felt that I had, become real. So when I found out that she was in the hospital in the city, there was no doubt in my mind that I would go to see her.

So her news today is unsettling. She is so strong and she has seen so much in her life. I can only envision her coming through this surgery and recovering to enjoy many more years. I truly can't believe or feel anything else.

She is strong. She is my hero ....

Rainy Days and Mondays

"Rainy Days and Mondays" ... a song by the Carpenters that comes to mind this morning. Except that they don't get me down (as the song says). I am looking out the window at the steady stream of rain and what I see is a lawn that doesn't need to be watered ... a 'quiet' (is there such a thing as quiet in my day-time world of kids??) day inside, without the hassles of sunscreening, bathrooming and all the organizing it takes to walk out the door with a bunch of kids ... it feels like a day off from the summer heat of last week ... a days reprieve from mowing the lawn.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Rules for Being Human

It's kind of funny. I thought I would take a glimpse back on the journalling of my thoughts one year ago today. There were a few paragraphs that I was going to 'copy and paste' so that I could comment on them here this morning. And for some unknown reason, I couldn't 'right click' on the page. So I couldn't easily move the words from the past into my present.

Devine intervention perhaps? I am not focusing on looking back. I am focusing on the present. I'm not even really looking too far in the future. I am making the most of each day as it comes. Opening it as if it was a gift and determined to make the most of it in whatever way suits the day.

I'm looking at the past as something that has launched me into ''today.'' There are emotions that I could unearth but it serves no purpose.

The words in that specific passage in my journalling that sum it all up are " .... I trusted him. And it is gone ..." There is a 'book' in those words. Many incidents and emotions that preceded all of that (on both sides). It doesn't hurt any more. I look back and what I see is a lesson learned. Finally.

In an article Rules for Being Human, there is a paragraph that states: "A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it (as evidenced by a change of attitude and behavior), then you can go on to the next lesson."

I look back to my journal entry from one year ago today (and it could have been any of the 30 years that preceded that), and I feel that I have finally learned that lesson.

I feel like a different person. I respect and care for myself. And I believe that is the basis on which to form friendships and relationships in your life. People will mirror the way you treat yourself. If you beat yourself up over your less than redeeming qualities, it is almost a certainty that you can find someone to join you.

I'm tired of being so hard on myself. I am human. I make mistakes. I pick myself up and carry on. The difference between the ''me'' then and the ''me'' now ... is that I am determined to learn that particular lesson and forge on to learn a new lesson!

Because the next point made in the article on the Rules for Being Human is: "Learning lessons does not end. There is no stage in life that does not contain some lessons. As long as you live, there will be something more to learn."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Intoxicated With Life

I went to my dance lesson last night with (what felt like) a zillion things running through my mind. I was excited about so many things going on ...

My sister called to thank me (and thank me and thank me) for the DVD's that I made of her daughter's wedding. We had such a good talk and we are tentatively planning a 'sister get together' during my holidays. Details to be worked out at a future date. I am so excited that she's excited about these projects of mine that have become a reality for the family to enjoy.

Then, I actually went ahead and made plans to see my nephew perform at a comedy club last night. If I hadn't have gone last night, I wouldn't have been able to go at all. So we ended up seeing his XXX-rated show. Maybe not the material I'll write home about, but I marvelled at the way he spun his stories together and made one run into the other and amuse his audience along the way ... I'm glad I went!

Anyway, I had this excitement running through my mind as I arrived at my dance lesson last night. And I simply couldn't contain myself. I was telling my stories, laughing, one thought would lead to the next ... my instructor was laughing along with me ... and it was simply ... intoxicating.

Life amuses me. I am finding hidden treasures in among my day-to-day life. I have never laughed more in my life.

Something has gone very, very right!! I love it!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Visualization

"The Secret" is big on the idea of visualizing what you want to come true in your life. I have been putting this idea to practise and having a lot of success with it.

The Book was my biggest accomplishment in 2008. It started out as an idea 9 years ago ... the vastness of it stopped me in my tracks (for 9 years). The interest was reignited, after reading an inspirational article sent to me by a friend. Then an innocent conversation with my sister spurred me into taking that one small step forward.

One phone call led to the second phone call which led to a few letters ... and I was off and running. One forward step and all I had to do after that was to keep taking a step at a time. I pictured the reality I was aiming for. And now I'm literally holding it in my hands.

I have done the same with other smaller ideas. Start with an idea ... an invitation ... or accepting an invitation. Then I will envision what the reality of that occasion will be. It amazes me how a person seems to be able to make a vision become a reality.

Much of it starts with attitude. Weddings are a perfect example. In the past, I have had a hard time relaxing and enjoying weddings for some reason. Either I have a small child in tow ... or I'm single ... or I'm with someone ... Basically, I find an excuse to be uncomfortable in the situation, no matter what it is. This last wedding I attended, I went with the idea of 'making memories' as my goal. No concern as to my own personal feelings or situation. Making memories and finding a way to keep them fresh was the plan. No matter what was going on around me, nothing was deterring me from my plan. And it worked.

It was after all was said and done that I realized that the wedding dance didn't unearth any of my past emotions. When I've been single at these events, I have often wished for a 'dance partner' to accompany me. When I've had that partner, I've been uncomfortable with the situation. Wishing to dance when I couldn't ... or dancing when I wish I was sitting on the sidelines. No matter what side of the coin I was on, I was uncomfortable. This time, the dance was over and I realized that it didn't matter either way. I enjoyed the occasion and my own small part in the day was irrelevant.

I put all of these memories together to make a 'movie' of the day for my niece ... and as I put the finishing touches on the DVD cover, I quietly saw another dream become a reality.

When friends and I went away for an overnight trip to Regina, I had the same vision. Trying to find a way to put it all together in a way to hold onto it forever. As the first day unfolded, the dream wasn't a reality. I woke up the next morning with this awful ''Oh no'' feeling ... that it wasn't happening as I had seen it in my mind's eye. Then ... as the morning went along, it happened. Without a map to guide us, it still happened. Even better than I had envisioned. I came home and put 'the memories' all together ... and ... you guessed it. Another dream came true.

I just answered the question put before me today "What is on your bucket list" (what you want to do with your life before you kick the bucket). My answer was: "My goal is to keep the bucket empty. To follow my dreams and make them become reality." Making memories is my goal. Making big memories of small occasions is better than having one big occasion on 'the list' and not having the special memories that go along with it.

Making memories out of my day to day life is my goal. I am achieving that and then some. Life isn't about the 'big stuff'. It is all the small stuff that happens day in and day out that defines living. Making the small stuff special is my vision.

Sure, I'd love to go to Niagra Falls ... and I'd really love to go to see my Grandma's house in PEI (and turn it into a Bed and Breakfast!). I'd love to take an Alaskan cruise and visit a friend who lives there ... I'd love to pack my bags and just wander around the western provinces and visit with friends and make new memories to go along with the older ones. These are beyond my reality today. If I had one wish for today's reality, it would be to see my nephew perform at a comedy club tonight. That is attainable. Maybe I'll see what I can do about that dream.

One day at a time. One step at a time. Enjoy the small stuff. That is what life is made of. Making special memories out of every day occurrences is something that anyone can do.

That is my vision.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Andre Update





Our 'poor kitty' is doing well. It was so pathetic last week to watch him look so uncomfortable with his collar. Normally, he will run across a room just to sit in an empty box he has just spotted. So I found a box for him last week and he wouldn't even look at it. Every time I saw him, he was resting in a very untypical spot - on hard surfaces and away from all of his comfort zones.

So when he hopped into this box today, it made my heart happy. Kurt had been closing his door so Andre and his wound couldn't come in. But he left his door open a few nights ago and did he have one happy kitty at his side! Every time I peeked in, I saw Andre in a new, comfortable spot.

His medication is done ... just one more week with the collar to allow him to heal ... and he should be good to go.

He doesn't complain. He just quietly bemoans his restrictions. But I am sure that he will be glad to be rid of that collar and get back to his old tricks (like sneaking outside on us!!).

Living My Life

As this long weekend passed, I thought I would have all the time in the world to sit back, write and reflect here. But I was wrong.

I am a list-maker. I derive great satisfaction by writing down my goals and triumphantly crossing things off as I accomplish them. When I found myself with 3 unexpected days off this past weekend (I didn't find out until Friday, but none of my babysitting families needed me on Monday so I had Sunday - Tuesday off!), I quickly made a list.

When I get in these goal oriented modes, my writing is tedious. I end up writing a time line of all that I accomplished, how and when. Satisfying for me, but pretty boring to read. So I didn't write.

Instead, I accomplished most of what was on my list. My lists always tend to be a little ambitious and I write down 1 or 2 more things than I can comfortably accomplish. But I tended to the important matters anyway.

And the best part is that Kurt and I did one fun thing a day. We saw a movie, we went bowling with friends and we went out with Dale and his girlfriend on Dale's boat.

I didn't have a lot of adult company throughout the weekend (though I did talk to at least one adult per day) and I think this is often the reason that I sit down and write so often. The excess words in my head that simply don't have a place to go when I don't talk to another adult person. But for some reason, I was very content to just be quiet with my thoughts this weekend. No great epiphanies to share ... no overwhelming sense of emotion to quiet ... no real story to tell. I was content within myself and within my world.

And as I sit here with my second cup of coffee this morning and look ahead at the day that lies before me, I feel ready to take it on. Back to my real life. Back to the world of kids and tending to their many needs.

There is nothing like some time off from 'the real world' to rejuvinate a person. It is intoxicating to accomplish things that you have been putting off. One of these days, I am going to put "sit down and read a book" on that list.