Monday, August 31, 2009

The End of an Era

As I went through the paces of readying myself for the day ahead of me this morning, I brought out the diapers that I will need for the day and stopped.

I won't need the rest of these diapers [insert silent yee haw here]! I ceremoniously bagged up the excess diapers and spare clothes that I will no longer need after today is done.

Today is the end of my '4-year-old-and-under-set' at my daycare.

I can fold up and put away the 3 playpens that I have in various rooms in the house. I can pack away the 4 booster seats that I have. I can store the 2 high chairs that I have in the kitchen.

I have 2 spare drawers in the spare bedroom (where I kept spare diapers/clothing for the kids). I can bring out books and puzzles! The living room doesn't have to be dominated in Fisher Price ... and maybe I can wash and store the 'baby toys' once and for all?

Baby locks on the cupboards and safety plugs in the electrical sockets are a way of life for me. In fact, the safety plugs disguise the fact that my electrical sockets don't match my decor. I just may keep those.

I have had a high chair in the kitchen for 11 years. It's a catch-all spot, for the things we bring into or take out of the house. I may not need a high chair, but I definitely need something in its place.

June 11, 1998 was the day I started changing diapers. August 1st, 2009 was the day I stopped. Until grandchildren. Maybe I'll just store some of that 'baby stuff'. It's my hope that my house isn't going to be without babies forever ...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

All Over the Map

I can't pin down one thought this morning. If I was to pin it down in a phrase, 'all over the map' would be it ...

I took yesterday off. Off of everything.

I had an enjoyable visit with my mom. It ended with dropping her off at my aunts and I stayed and enjoyed the festivities at their home for a little while. It's nice to feel comfortable stopping and staying a little while.

Kurt and I watched a movie together after I got home. A little ways into the movie, I had this chest crunching feeling. Guilt? Did I say or do something wrong? It was an emotional 'crush'. Something I felt that I had done or didn't do that was making me feel this way. I relaxed when I pinned it down to feeling guilty (I wasn't working on the book keeping that I had promised myself). As the day progressed, I rewound some of my 'words' and I often wonder (and I'm sure that I do) if I talk too much ... say too much. Guilt. That was the emotional 'crush' that I felt.

I had wasted so much of the day, I granted myself the remainder of the day off. To sit back, rest, read, relax and putter to my hearts content. And that's what I did.

You don't wind up the day with a great feeling, when you've spent a day working hard at doing nothing. There was no zest in what I did. No zip. Blah. I went to sleep and woke up feeling much the same.

I love the relaxation that comes after a day well spent. I know that I can ill afford to simply sit back and do nothing right now. I'll open a drawer or cupboard ... or move a piece of furniture and think to myself 'Hmmm ... I wonder if I'll ever have a clean house again??' Why didn't I clean a drawer or vacuum under a bed with my time yesterday? Why was I glued to the couch with a book that I've been reading for (what feels like) forever?

I haven't lived with 'guilt' much lately and as far as I'm concerned, I would like to keep it that way. If I've done or said something wrong, I need to recognize it, address it and rectify it. And carry on. If I'm taking a day for myself, it is completely wasted if I wallow in guilt so much that I don't enjoy it.

If ever there was a day that I wasted, yesterday would be it.

I woke up this morning and through the links of 'blog land', I found the blog of a new widow. She's younger than me; her husband was older than me. She talks of the imperfections of their marriage, but what truly spoke to me is that she loves this man. With all that she has to give. I don't think I've ever loved so much or so freely.

There's a part of me that I don't let go of. The naivety of youth is a wonderful thing. And I suppose first loves are special because you haven't experienced the devastation of the many ways one's heart can break. If that gets chipped away at, slowly and gradually ... you eventually learn to protect your heart.

I feel that life has taught me a lot of lessons that I needed to learn. I have no regrets and my heart is not eternally broken. It has a protective covering ... but it still has the capacity to feel.

The book that I am reading is a story woven around relationships. Relationships where one person loves more than the other person in the relationship. Been there. The shield of steel that encases my heart makes me the one that 'loves less'. Or at least that is how it feels.

In truth, I don't think that I did love any less than the other party. It's just that when I started feeling the hurts that come with that gradual erosion of a positive relationship, I start withdrawing. No words are said ... but it is felt. By both parties. The balance tips. The other party starts 'loving more' because they are grasping to hold onto a piece of me that I am withholding. Then I start feeling smothered. And I retreat. To my safe place.

I have a friend that loves with all of her heart. I read this blog (of this woman whose husband has recently died) this morning and as sad as I am for the heartbreak that she is feeling ... but I love reading about her ability to love, with her whole being.

I don't miss being in a relationship. I do miss being in love. New love. Love where the feelings are equal and mutual.

It is an elusive dream. One that I don't waste much time thinking about. I am surrounded by wonderful people. Strong family ties, good friendships and even the people who are in the sidelines of my life are like butterflies that flit in and out of my vision but leave a bit of their beauty in their wake. There is the odd occasion where this isn't the case - where I know someone doesn't 'get' me or appreciate the person that I am. And I can smile at that too. Because it really doesn't matter. The fact is, that I don't really 'get' them either. Even that is mutual.

Deep thoughts going through my head on this Sunday morning. And thoughts of the week ahead. My new life is dawning. I'm not afraid ... but I do long to get into the swing of my new routines so that I know what to expect. I'm not a big fan of surprises. I love my ruts ... but it takes a while to make new ones when you are travelling down a new path.

I'm a little apprehensive ... I am feeling very reflective ... I'm feeling the guilt of wasting a day ... and I am trying to rev myself up for a more productive day today.

My thoughts are everywhere ... but on the book keeping job that I need to complete. That will add the satisfaction that I need to make the day feel like a good one.

It's time to pin down a 'destination' on that map of life and head towards it. One step at a time.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Time to Pause

I like when life hands me moments where I must stop in my tracks and enjoy the moment ...

My mind has been consumed with many thoughts lately, as I ready myself for the next season of change. As I gear up to go back to school and wind up a few aspects of life at the same time, my mind is busy tying up loose ends so that I can look to the future with a clear slate. Or so has been the intent.

The chaos of my mind hasn't been a restful place to be. I'm getting a lot accomplished because this is just what I do. I do best under pressure. If I have to get "X" amount of things done in "X" amount of time, I do. If the deadline is wishy washy, so is my enthusiasm. So this has been exactly where I need to be right now. It feels good to get things tied up and put behind me.

But this week has had a few opportunities to just sit back and savor the moment.

An impromptu visit with friends, that happened without forethought. I had some things to drop off and I was invited to sit down and stay a while. I did. And it was wonderful. Sitting still and spending time with people that fill your soul is energizing. It was something that I would have thought I didn't have time for. But you always have time for moments like these (or you should). Time to breathe. Some people breathe life into you when you are overwhelmed with the days. And this was such an occasion.

Then, my mom had a one night layover at my house en route to a family wedding and a bit of a holiday for her last night. Once again, this is an evening that I can easily fill with errand running and to-do-list-items. But I was forced to pause and be still. I'm so glad that I was.

'My boys' called or dropped in during the day, checking on 'grandma's' arrival time. They both took time to pause in their own lives to come and spend part of their Friday night hanging out with me and my mom. Unplanned, unexpected and unchoreographed ... it was an evening that was perfectly relaxing. I brought out snacks that I just happened to have around and I didn't waste a moment fretting about food/snacks/drinks or entertaining. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.

'My boys' arrival and departure times were staggered, so there was a chance for one-on-one visits as well as the family-portion of the evening. The dynamics changed ever so slightly and my mom had a chance to get to know the deeper side of my younger son as his stay lingered on. I sat back and listened and just enjoyed the moments.

Small snippets of time, little pieces of conversations, being still to enjoy the moment are a gift. Especially when you are consumed with the act of living. Taking time to breathe and just enjoy the here and now balances out the busyness of living.

It is time that I wouldn't have purposely carved out, but it is time that I am so glad that I was given.

Moments to pause. Moments to savor ...

Friday, August 28, 2009


If ever there was a day that felt like Christmas ... it would be yesterday. I found small 'gifts' at every turn.

I started the day out by somewhat fulfilling a promise that I had made to myself. I finished (as much as I can at this point) something that I started. I did what I set out to do. The project still isn't wrapped up with a bow and sent off on its merry way. But it is so close. So very close. That felt like some kind of wonderful.

That done, I had some spare hours (okay, only one) to whittle away on the overwhelming book keeping project that I have been chipping away at this week. I didn't have time to complete the task, but what I did discover, is that I was well on my way. I tackled this project from another angle and I had the chance to see if it was going to make my job easier. And it will. Hip Hip Hooray!! That makes the next step (finishing the job in its entirety) a whole lot easier. I'm on my way!!

Then ... I had to ask my families to pick up their children early (about 15 minutes in most cases) so that I could run Kurt to our family doctor (he has had a case of hives that has lasted 8 days to this point). So not only did I get off work somewhat early (though I did bring one of my 'daycare kids' along with us to the doctor) ... but we got the green light that there is really nothing to worry about. I wasn't worried before we went to the doctor. But when something lasts this long, it's nice to check in with a professional. One more item checked off of my list-of-things-in-the-back-of-my-head. It's nice to tick off those items and toss them away.

That left the evening. My third night at the dance studio. This time for my private lesson, and a bonus of having it be an hour long (we doubled up because last weeks lesson was cancelled). What an hour. I never laugh so much or as whole heartedly, as I do when I'm at my dance lesson. It is truly a gift to spend time with a person who laughs at life. And that is what my dance instructor does. At least for as long as that half hour or hour lesson lasts. We tackled our new routine and it's more than halfway done (lots of work left to do ... but my feet sort of know where they are going). We ran through our old routine (lots and lots of work left to do there ... my feet, arms and body are quite confused throughout an entire section of this one). We danced, we laughed and the hour flew by. I left the studio thinking 'this is as good as it gets' ...

But it got better. I dropped by at a friend's house on my way home and spent the remainder of the evening wrapped up in the relaxing ambiance of my friend's home. It is a home that says 'family' in every sense of the word. This is a family that opens up its arms and adopts those who come their way. Another friend that I hadn't seen for 'forever' was also there, along with her grandson. Her grandson was off playing with my other friends nephews (whom she had borrowed for the evening so that the kids would have each other to play with). And we all relaxed and simply enjoyed a relaxed evening with friends mixed with family. So many small but precious moments. Many small memories to last long beyond the short visit.

One would think that would be the perfect end to a perfect day. But it wasn't.

The friend that I had just visited forwarded on a comment that her sister had emailed about something that I had written. It takes so few words to make a persons day. And my friend realized what a gift it was to share these words, which ended with best words of praise that I could ever here. Her sister wrote that I was ''as amazing as her sister''. Wow. If ever there were words that could make me feel that I was becoming the person I hoped to be ... those were it.

The day was wrapped up in small gifts. They arrived in every shape and form (I have neglected to mention a few ... but there were more). Even as the day ended, it was wrapped up with a bow and marked as a "Day to Remember".

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Mind at Rest

I have been waking up regularly, with my mind-at-rest busy 'inserting' and editing a document that I've been working on (during my mind-at-work part of the day). As my mind-at-rest sees the little dots that signify a space in the Word program and cycles through the editing process in my sleep, I turn on the TV so that I can overwrite the thoughts in my mind and get back to sleep.

Once resting, my mind gets back in the 'loop' that is my life right now. I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed and I can tell, by the cycles of my sleeping.

Exhausted, I fall asleep as whenever I'm idle. Once I'm in bed for the night, I sleep, edit in my sleep, wake up, turn on the TV, have no memory of the TV going off (I love, love, love the sleep timer on my TV!!!) and the next thing you know, I'm awake again and turning on the TV (to turn off my thoughts). That only happens once or twice through the night.

Then the alarm goes off. I set it a half hour early last week and never changed it back. I know that I can hit 'snooze' 3 times, before I must get up and face the day.

In the middle of one of my sleep/TV/back to sleep cycles, I startled myself awake, heard voices and hit the snooze button. I woke up in a semi catatonic state and realized that it wasn't my alarm. It was the TV. Hooray!! That meant I hadn't hit the '3-snooze-buttons-before-I-had-to-get-up' portion of the night yet.

My mind-at-rest is telling my mind-at-work to finish what I've started!! I would love to lock the outside world out of my day today. I've got work to do.

But that is not my reality. I have a day-with-kids ... followed by another (3rd in a row) evening at the dance studio.

I'm feeling that I'm in a little over my head at the dance studio. We started a group formation routine last night. And there's homework. We have a small section to practise. We are working on a rendition of this (this clip isn't in English ... but neither is the 'language' I'm learning on the dance floor with this one ...):

Last night we worked 9 seconds of this clip (from 2:30 to 2:39 seconds). We've got a long, long way to go in 10 weeks!

One more item to add to the list of things-to-think-about-in-the-middle-of-the-night.

Tonight, I'm off to my private lesson to start working on a fun filled and energetic routine to a fun and peppy song.

This week at the dance studio, I've learned: 'The Hustle' (Tuesday group class); 9 seconds of our formation routine; and tonight I'm off to learn some more.

It's no wonder I can't sleep soundly ...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Living Life in the 'Pluses'

The moment that my back-to-school decision was a reality, I buckled up and prepared for some extreme budgeting.

We had just returned from a holiday where we went and did what we wanted to do, without counting pennies. It was a holiday all 'bought and paid for' from a bonus that I had received from my book keeping job. So I wasn't too worried. But I knew the holiday was over. Time to plan for my new reality.

The thing that concerned me financially, is that I was wracking up a month's worth of debt on my credit card every single month. My rule was, that I had to pay this off debt at the end of each month - with money that I was earning while I was spending it. I was perpetually living one month beyond my means. A rather scary prospect when I thought of my new student-budget.

My extreme-budgeting had me not only pay that debt off before it was due ... but start the month with a credit balance on my credit card. I love using my credit card, because I accumulate 'points'. Points that we use to treat ourselves to spending a night or two at a hotel every year. This is not something that I wanted to give up, so I had to find a way to still 'wrack up points' ... yet not break the bank.

A revelation revealed itself to me as I lived life in the 'plus' side of budgeting. As the month whittled away, I saw my plus balance decreasing, instead of a minus balance increasing. The mentality is completely different when you are dealing with a finite amount of dollars. 'I must make this last' goes through my head, every time I tally up my balance. If I splurge a little here ... I must sacrifice a little there. It's an obvious way to live. But when you live life in the 'minus' side of budgeting, you don't think the same.

When you are in debt, it is all too easy to think 'What's a little more??' You juggle things around ... or else your debt slowly but surely creeps up on you. It is akin to how you feel spending cash verses a 'card'. When you look in your wallet and see that specific dollar amount and know how long it is supposed to last, you think twice before overspending.

In this world gone crazy with personal debt loads out of proportion to what they should be, a person needs to find 'tricks' to make things work in the budget. This is something that works for me.

I can remember when debt and paying bills overruled my life. I'd get a little windfall and wish that I didn't have so many bills, that this windfall was consumed by covering my over spending. Every time it happened, I wished that I didn't chronically live in the world of excess. So that when I did get a small sum of money that I hadn't planned on ... it would truly be mine.

I have arrived! I have very often said that I feel that I am rewarded. Every time I am in a place where I am respectful of the money I am earning and budgeting accordingly, I feel that I get a little bonus. That credit balance on a utility bill ... a little bonus tacked onto a cheque I was expecting ... a cheque that comes out of the blue. It happens all of the time. It amazes me every single time that it does. But what I believe what the reality is, is that I can appreciate a $30 cheque or a $75 credit on a utility bill when I'm living on the 'plus' side of life.

When debt doesn't gobble up all of life's bonuses, you feel very rich. You can appreciate every small gift that life sends your way.

As I am on the cusp of the 'Great Student Budget of 2009', I feel ready. I've got my bases covered, a good idea what the income flow will be, a back up plan and I'm starting out on the 'plus' side.

Life is full of surprises. This is a fact. The most a person can do is be aware of the fact, budget as wisely as you can ... and forge ahead.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Final Countdown

Yes, it's finally happening. I'm finally starting to count the days.

'5 more days', I uttered to our cat (as I put him downstairs so that he doesn't escape out the door, with all the mornings comings and goings). 5 more babysitting days, where he will be banished downstairs away from the kids. He loves kids, but he 'teaches' them not to bug him by lightly biting them. Not enough to hurt. So the kids keep bugging. It's one small aggravation that I can alleviate, by keeping him downstairs and out of harms way. So I do.

'5 more days', I think to myself ... as the inane banter of my regular summer crowd is embedded into my memory.The tattling, the hair pulling, the endless toys, the running back and forth in the house. 5 more babysitting days to deal with the younger set of personalities. The diapers, the naps and making lunch. I won't have to make lunch on a daily basis! Yay!!

'7 more days' of life as we know it. Later bedtimes (though we are weaning ourselves to go to sleep earlier this week), a relaxed schedule, the ease of no homework or studying. Our go-with-the-flow pace will soon be but a memory, as our school hours must be heeded and deadlines will soon be upon us.

'1 week' to catch up on all that I want to finish before I start my new life where my days and evenings will be dictated by: the amount of hours that I'm required to deal with kids, school, book keeping, dancing, errand running and household chores. Just keeping on top of the day to day running of my new life will require (I think) an empty slate, at the onset.

'4 more days' until the weekend. 4 days of kids, 4 days to catch up on my book keeping, 4 evenings that are committed to things other than kids and book keeping. 4 short days to squeeze in as much as I possibly can (while still adhering to the new 'early to bed' rule), so that we can make the most out of the 'last weekend' of our old life.

'1 more weekend' to savor before my new way of life crashes into our lives. The past few weekends have been consumed with 'catching up'. I've caught up on one project but my book keeping has suffered. So as much as I know that I will have to devote a great deal of the upcoming weekend to that work ... I want to make time for Kurt and I to just hang out.

'10 weeks' until the upcoming dance showcase. 10 weeks of one extra night of dancing and doubling up some of my private dance lessons. 10 weeks to learn and hone 2 new routines that I haven't even started yet and 'perfect' the routine that we have been working on. 10 weeks to figure out the minute details such as costumes and all the 'girl stuff' that goes into preparing for the big day. 10 weeks to squeeze this into my new world that revolves around school and work instead of kids. 10 weeks of that 'one extra pressure' that I don't really need (but I really do want) right now.

I am excited about what is in my horizon. As I count down the days to the end of 'life as I know it', I'm eagerly anticipating what is in store.

New goals, changing responsibilities, different schedules and a revised way of life. I'm counting the days ....

Monday, August 24, 2009

National Caregiver Day - Everyday

My life is touched by so many unsung heroes. Those who just do what feels natural and right. And in doing so, they provide so much ... to so many.

I see people who have 'worked from their home' their entire live who don't appear to recognize the value of their tirelessness in what they do as naturally as they breathe.

Moms who have raised a houseful of kids ... are now on call to take care of a revolving houseful of grandchildren.

Moms who have outgrown the worries of day to day worries of the scrapes/bumps/bruises, colds and flu's that young children bring home on a daily basis ... to now worry about life threatening health conditions and the effects of adult stresses of their now grown children.

People who have retired from the work force, to live a life of giving to others. Whether it is volunteering or helping out their adult children or taking care of aging relatives ... they have moved away from a Monday - Friday, 9 - 5 job ... to a life where they are on call 24/7.

There are those that have never had the official title of a counsellor ... yet they wear that label quietly on their lapel of life. People seem drawn to them, and they hear the worries and troubles of many. Without pay. At any time of the day or night. They are our friends. They are our family. They take on many more worries than their own. They do it willingly and unconsciously.

There are heroes all around us. And one of them just may be 'you'.

Grant yourself a moment, an hour, a day ... whatever you can afford. Take some time to replenish your body and soul. Just as you must grab that oxygen mask for yourself first, so that you are able to help others ... remember that in your day to day life. You are no good to anyone else, if you aren't good to yourself.

Give yourself a break today. And everyday after that.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Song in My Soul

I woke up this morning with the fun and peppy song that we will be choreographing a dance routine to, in my mind. It's still there.

I often have a song running through my mind, my fingertips, my heart or my soul. My fingers are rarely idle. When they aren't finding their way around the computer keyboard, they are working, picking away at something or tapping out the beat to some song that I don't even know that I'm 'hearing' within the confines of my mind.

When I drive, I usually have a soundtrack of a song in my mind. I usually default to 'Calypso Boy' (a song that I memorized on the piano for a talent show that I was in, when I was young), when my mind is void of all other music. My fingers still know the first moves to that song (I should try them on the piano keyboard to see if they still remember where to go).

Unconsciously, I beat out the song in my head, with my ring tapping against the steering wheel. I remember my friend asking me what I was doing (we were 18 or 19 years old at the time). The steering wheel in my 1965 Plymouth was a hard plastic. My ring resonated nicely with the beat against my pseudo drum.

A few years ago, I was asked the same thing as we drove along the highway. I rhymed off the name of the song that was in my fingertips that day and shook my head. I wondered where in the world that music came from. We had been to a wedding and some time afterwards, I watched a video of the song that the bride sang to during the karaoke portion of the dance. It was the same song that was oozing out my fingertips a few days later. I was impressed with my fingers ability to beat out the tune (that I didn't even remember) that had been a part of our evening.

Lately, I've been concerned. I haven't had music playing in the car as much. I enjoy the quietness of my thoughts running through my mind. Apparently, the soundtrack has been turned off. I noticed that my fingers are beating out the tune of the signal light. I thought 'How boring!' I tried to bring up the music of the song that we will be choreographing a dance to. Nothing. It's a fun song and makes you want to dance. I wanted to unearth it from my consciousness. It didn't happen, so I turned on some music and started singing and tapping out the tune to something that was a little peppier than the beat of the signal light.

I came home and worked. I didn't turn on music and the only soundtrack of last night was the beat of my fingertips against the computer keyboard. Click, click, click ...

You can imagine my delight and surprise when I woke up this morning with the music that I had tried to find in my mind, last night. It is such an upbeat song that makes you want to move.

I love waking up with a song in my heart. It has set the tone for a very good day.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Revving Up For the Day

I'm a tad overwhelmed with what I've promised myself to accomplish today. I'm sure the biggest hurdle that I will face is just getting started.

As you sit at the bottom of a steep mountain and know that it is your goal to climb it, it is overwhelming at the onset. Knowing it is your choice, can help or hinder.

No one is expecting any more out of me today, than I am of myself. That takes the pressure off. I know that I could walk away from my goals and I would disappoint no one but me.

I hate disappointing myself. So I'm going to buckle up and gear up for the day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

5 1/2 Weeks

I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep this morning. I had emailed a friend last night and she (almost always) has a reply sitting in my inbox the next morning. It was the lure of this email that may be awaiting me, that got me out of bed. I was not disappointed.

I thought that I'd go back to sleep after I satisfied my curiosity about what she may have written. But I didn't.

I checked in on the blogs I follow and I was still awake. Something led me back to my own blog and I started reading. I went back and read 5 1/2 weeks of past blog entries. Now ... I'm tired!

Whew! It's been a busy month.

It's kind of neat to have the archives of my mind written in a form that I can go back and read. I enjoyed finding that thread that was woven in among many of them, that led to my ultimate back-to-school decision.

What will I think when I go back and read these words of my random day to day thoughts 10 years from now? 20 years? Will my children ever care to read them (so far, I don't think so - I believe I overwhelm them in my words)?

I ask myself many questions when I reread my words. Have I exposed anyone's privacy in a way they would disapprove of? Do my words have the power to hurt anyone? Can anything be learned from the learning curves of my own life? Do I inspire anyone? Can people relate to my mundane ramblings and put their life into my scenarios? Does anyone really care???

I write for myself. If I truly wanted this to be a solitary endeavour, I wouldn't be blogging. I have just found through life, that there is almost always someone who is walking a parallel path. Someone who can relate and truly get what you are feeling when you say something. In conversations, it happens all the time.

So ... I write these (what I hope to be) 'relateable' meanderings of my mind and every once in a while, I hope to say something worth thinking about. I hope to make someone smile from time to time. I hope to make someone feel less alone when they are feeling like 'it's only them' that feels in a certain way.

I've written about so much more than I ever thought I would write about. And just when I think 'I think I've said too much' ... I'll receive an email or a comment that lets me know that 'someone' needed to read those words.

After reading the past 5 1/2 weeks of daily meanderings ... I'm tired. If I knew what this past month was going to reveal to me 5 1/2 weeks ago, I would have been too overwhelmed to enjoy it.

Life is best revealed ... one day at a time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Dawn of a New Day

I start my mornings the same way. Every day. I make my breakfast smoothie and a cup of coffee and I 'breakfast' at the computer.

I check my emails (I have an inspirational email that I receive every morning and on really good mornings I may find an email from a friend or family). I have a handful of blogs that I check in on. I play word puzzles if I have time. I blog and email with whatever time is left over.

It's a most wonderful routine that wakes up my brain and gets my thought processes rolling for the day.

This morning, I seem to have found inspiration at every turn. Here are just a few sentences out of the various reading that has found its way into my world this morning:'

"1000 excuses for failure. Never a good reason."... Mark Twain

"The biggest problem most people face is not in doing something, it's in making the decision to do it. Inner resistance is almost always more prevalent than external factors" - Kit Grant

"Live more. Grab at life and hold on, and experience new things and learn new things, so when it's really time to write your first novel, you have something to say." - Erica Orloff

" ... blessed are those who grieve, even if they don’t feel blessed ..." ( The Spohrs are Multiplying)

"Dance, Dance, Dance wherever you may be...........I am the Lord of the Dance said he." - Lord of the Dance (a quote that was included with an email from a friend)

The words I read fill me up as much as my breakfast smoothie. Food for thought, words that make me smile, think, reflect and be grateful for my quiet, humble life. I jostle my memory and word recall with the various puzzles I play. It's aerobics for my mind.

I absorb these words, internalize them, store them up. What comes out of all that I see, hear, read about and experience, seems to find its way onto this blog.

My sister often tells me that she is amazed at the words that I have within me every day. I think we all have a massive amount of internalized words. Our inner voice that has a running dialogue going on within our minds every minute of the day. I've just found a way to release some of the thoughts that circulate within my brain, so I've got room for more.

As I fill my morning with other peoples words and reflections on the world as they see it ... I take out of it what I can ... and face the new day fueled with a renewed perspective. It's a new day ... every day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Smile For the Day

As a chronic list-writer, I had to chuckle when I read this quote:

Write It Down

I write down everything I want to remember.

That way, instead of spending a lot of time trying
to remember what it is I wrote down,

I spend the time looking for the paper I wrote it down on.

~Beryl Pfizer~

A Crash and Burn Day

As I went through the process of putting Mom's family's memories together, I would go full tilt for a while ... then crash and burn.

Excitement and motivation ... followed by the intensity of working with what I had ... the ideas would continue to flow ... and crash.

I'd be stopped in my tracks. I thought I may never get back up. But then ... I'd get a letter, have a conversation or hear something motivating. And I'd be back at it again.

It was a cycle that permeated the creation of 'The Book' that told the story of my mom's family. I do tend to do ... until I overdo at times.

The last time I did this, I think that maybe I learned a valuable lesson. I took what I learned and I have applied it to my life since then. It's been a good ride.

One doesn't accomplish as much or climb as many mountains when you are perpetually in a go-with-the-flow kind of mode. It is a very sane mode and I highly recommend it. But ... if you want to reach the top of that mountain, you do have to put out the energy it takes to get there.

I spent 3 days scaling various mountains. Yesterday, necessity forced me to stop.

I had an 8 month old baby here for the day so it changed my expectations for the day. The baby napped (twice) in the room that Kurt has 'lived' in all summer (TV, computer, X-Box and Lego reside in that room ... it is an 11 year old boy's haven). So Kurt spent the day with us. The kids took over the computer (everything I do seems to be attached to needing the computer).

It was an enforced day off for me. My only job was to tend and feed my young crowd of 6. Quiet time was ... quiet. I grabbed a book and sat down.

It didn't take long before the vertical hold button in my eyes was moving the words on the page of the book I was reading. I thought ... How interesting ... as I quite literally saw the words moving as if the vertical hold button on the TV set (which was my eyes) needed to be adjusted. Then, I simply let gravity take over and I closed them.


I lived the pace of a sane person yesterday. I looked at the baby I was tending for the day (his first and only day that he will be spending with me, as I close the 'doors' to my preschool daycare attendees in only 9 more working days) and I didn't panic. I didn't look at the day and think ... This is the first day of forever ... and superimpose impossibly high expectations on me or the baby. He acted his age. And I acted mine. He is a very good baby and I think we would have done okay in the 'forever' process of raising him. But this time ... I don't have to. That was a very good realization.

I lived in the moment.

Then, the day got better. A card that was personally dropped off, full of words that didn't need to be said. You know the words? Words that have been 'spoken' in every capacity, on a regular basis and you know that you are being appreciated for 'you'. I'm blessed to live a life where that is the case in most of my friendships. People all around me speak volumes in actions, body language and words. I feel that they 'get' me and accept me as I am. They encourage, fuel and support me. But still. To receive a card that has the words written down on a physical piece of paper that I can savor for the moment and save for forever ... is truly the best gift a person could ever receive.

And then ... I went dancing.

I looked at the mirror as I readied myself to walk out the door. I saw a weary and bedraggled reflection looking back at me. The color I had chosen to wear drained my features right off my face. So I chose another color. Not great. I put on earrings (I never wear earrings), just to get the focus off of my face. The humidity in the air did weird things to the ultra short hair that I am still battling with, on the top of my head. I tamed that down, but it was not a good look that I wore as I left the house.

When the part of the lesson came, where we were being taught the 'big picture' of all the details that our brain must know so that our feet will eventually get the idea ... I could hear the TV's long bleep (from the days when the TV stations didn't run 24/7, and there was a long beeeeeeep that signaled 'out of service' until the morning) running through my head. I thought Do I really have to learn this ... today??

It was still a good dance lesson. I laughed, had fun, enjoyed the company of the people at the studio. But at the end of it all, I was glad to go home.

I grabbed a bowl of ice cream and the outstanding work that I have facing me, glanced my way. I savored my ice cream and said 'No' to the work. It isn't going anywhere. I thought that I would end the day the way I started it. Peaceful and idle.

Kurt and I sat down and watched TV together. But it wasn't long before my body longed to be comfortable ... and it wasn't long after that, that my eyelids refused to stay open.

At long, long last ... I could blink my eyes shut and keep them shut. The TV station turned off its signal and ended its broadcast day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I love when my life is in a productive mode. The sense of satisfaction that I get from tackling big jobs and (finally) overcoming the obstacles that made them so huge in my mind is intoxicating.

I tackled one of those jobs head-on this past weekend. I cleared the slate so that I had the entirety of those 2 days to work with few interuptions. Not only did it feel good to move mountains with the time I had on hand ... but the unexpected benefit was the momentum just kept on going after the weekend.

I had one more 'big job' to tend and I devoted every spare moment to that yesterday. I may not have had a clear slate to work with, but I worked around the day that I had.

It feels so incredible to tackle work and not feel overwhelmed in the process. I can spend more energy thinking about (what feels like) the enormity of a job. Or ... I can just take that one forward step and keep moving in that direction.

I woke up this morning, knowing that I don't have any onerus tasks on my plate today. I have to tend an 8 month old baby that I've never met before, as well as 5 other children. That takes more energy out of me than the 'brain work' that I've been working on lately.

I also woke up with a renewed energy for one other project that has been overwhelming me. If I can keep the momentum going, maybe I can take some forward steps on that one as well.

The lyrics from a song from the movie 'Finding Nemo', are humming through my head right now:

Sometimes, the mountains we must climb are just getting through the day. Stuggling with health issues, boredom, depression, stressful family dynamics ... or going back to work after a fun and relaxing vacation.

Make the most of your day. Even if that involves nothing but allowing yourself time to indulge yourself in something you love.

No matter what you are facing in your world today ... just keep swimming!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Books, Books and More Books

It seems that my life is all about 'books' these days ...

My friend and I are working to put her family history together in the form of a book. This past weekend, we were both consumed with tending to the project ... and it is now in the final stretch. We started this project Aug 27th of last year. Completing it close to that anniversary feels good. It feels right.

Then, I have my book keeping that has been put to the side all weekend. It is sitting beside me just begging to be worked on and out of my door. This is a 'book' project that has quicker deadlines. The work comes in waves. Overwhelming and immense for a while ... then ... nothing. It's nice to see it come and it's better to see it go.

And ... my mind is consumed with the idea that I will quite literally be 'hitting the books' as I start school in 2 weeks. Books to read, learn from and study. Books that will lead my life in the direction that I want it to go.

With my upcoming school budget ever on my mind, I am continually working on a way of keeping the bank 'book' in check. I have lists, budgets, goals and back up plans on little scraps of paper. Whenever I sit down, I'm looking at 'the books' and a way to make sure that this works financially.

My own family history 'book' project seems to be on a back burner for now. But I have an idea that may spur on some activity in that area, without overtaxing my time. Since this is a collective story project, a few emails at a time ... I just may be able to find some memories to tuck into the 'memory file' of this book project. I don't want it to get lost in the shuffle of all that I have going on this next year. I need to find a sane way to keep a small amount of my attention and time working on it. Piece by piece. Like the patchwork quilt of stories that I hope to collect ... I hope that this book comes together in a way that it is a family story. Told by the family.

Then there are the books that I so enjoy reading. I love to lose myself in a piece of fiction. My 'home away from home' ... within my home. I love when my imagination takes me places that I've never dreamed I could go. I always have a book that I am reading. I have a stockpile of them. So when one is finished, I know there is another to take its place.

With all of these 'books' in my life, I am never alone. I'm never bored and I'm continually challenged and interested about one of the many books that I have on the go at all times. It makes for a most excellent rainy day weekend project. And boy, did it rain. All weekend.

I sat down and had coffee with a friend who doesn't have the luxury of having so many indoor projects to keep his mind and body busy during inclement weather. I thought of how sad that must be. To have one's life fully hinge on the weather? Not an option in my take of 'life and how you deal with it.' When life hands you rain, learn to swim and enjoy it! (or else build an ark and endure it with friends).

I didn't leave the house for 2 solid days. I didn't spend a penny during those days. I was completely entertained, amused, challenged and busy for the entirety of the weekend. Did I care that it rained? All I could think of, was how happy that my thirsty grass must be.

The sun is shining this morning, as a new week dawns. I hope this fair weather that provides a sunny backdrop to the day doesn't interfere with my plans to 'hit the books' again today. I have some 'books' that need to be tended and find their way out the door.

Books to write, books to keep, books to learn from, books to balance and books to read. Books to provide future generations with a wealth of information about their family, books that provide my present day income, books that provide education and a future income, books to make sure that I make the most of the income that I do have coming in and books that provide nothing but pleasure and entertainment.

Books! Books! Books!! You are never alone when you have a book at your side.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What Chapter Am I On?

As I was talking with my mom today, she was (once again) encouraging me as the date nears, for this next life change of mine. She asked me "So what 'chapter' are you on now?" (in my life).

Good question.

In the 'book' that is life, there really are many chapters. For most of my life, I just went where the road took me.

I didn't consciously sit down and decide to be a wife, a mother or a full time employee. They all just happened (pretty much at the same time). One thing led to another (marriage soon led to divorce), and it felt like all options were out of my hands. I had to work to support my son. So I did.

I ended up in a job that my mom and dad told me I'd be good at. Working in a bank. No planning, no thinking. What started as a work experience course through school, ended up being my career. For 20 years.

Sure, I took the odd course to keep my brain challenged and my job skills honed. I had a family to support. That was a no brainer. I needed to keep myself at the top of the employable list. I did what was necessary. I picked the obvious courses. And I finished what I started.

Same ... same ... same ...

Then, I found myself unmarried and pregnant at the age of 37. If it hadn't been so embarrassing, it would have been laughable. I started out my adulthood at age 17, unmarried and pregnant. It seems that 'same ... same ... same' was a pattern that I was repeating in a 10 to 20 year cycle (I had one more child in the middle of those 20 years and continued the marriage/divorce/ reconciliation cycles more times than I care to admit). Simply put ... I'm a '3 strikes, you're out!' kinda girl. I gave each of my 'forever relationships' 3 chances before I gave up on them.

It was during this final pregnancy that I started thinking outside of my box. I was blessed with one final opportunity to be a mother. That stopped me in my tracks.

I started making choices that weren't expected. Not only did I love every moment of my maternity leave ... but I decided to find a way to work from home so that I could be a full time mother. At age 37, I finally figured out what I had wanted to be all along. A mom.

And I was. I have loved every moment of these past 11 years. I wouldn't change a thing. I made myself a promise that I would do whatever it took to support myself in my decision to be a hands on mom. And I did.

Over the course of the past 11 years, I have babysat, delivered papers &/or flyers, worked Saturdays at the Credit Union, took up book keeping and I'm now considering taking in a boarder.

I took up writing ... with a passion. I write several blogs, family history stories and I'm an emailaholic. No one that I have an email address for, is safe. My fingers are out of control.

I have reached out and gotten to know my extended family. My friendships are strong and a huge part of my inner strength and circle of support. It seems that even though my relationships with the male species don't tend to work out over the long haul, I am forming strong and long lasting relationships with the people who touch my world.

And I dance. Never forget that! The dance studio is the one place in my world where I can go, and forget about everything else that is going on around me. Not that there is anything I really want to forget long term. I just want to forget about my schedules, obligations and dependents for a while. And I do.

A few months ago, I heard myself utter the phrase, "I'd go to school in a minute if I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up." And now that I do know, I'm starting school. In 2 weeks. Another life changing decision. Another new chapter.

I've had a lot of pivotal moments that have had me walking new paths the past few years. So the most recent chapters of my life are the shortest. But they are the most dramatic.

So what chapter am I on? I have no idea. But all I know is that I've got a long way to go until the end of my book. And I'm going to make these last chapters count!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Good Decisions

There are some decisions in life that are easier to make than others. No matter what the choices may be, I find that the worst place to be ... is in limbo. That state of wondering, pondering, second guessing and simply not knowing. Once you make a decision, the rest seems easy.

Once the choice is made, a person can still sit back and second guess. But when a decision is right, you know.

Since I made the final decision to return to school, many things have happened ...

One of the most interesting things I've noticed is my appetite. I am turning to food because I am hungry, not out of frustration, boredom or any kind of reward system. There have been snack foods sitting untouched since our return from holidays. I have grabbed something to nibble on, but I haven't had any trouble putting it away when my appetite is satisfied. Interesting.

There is a calmness within. My days with the kids have really not changed at all. I have the same personalities that I had before my holidays. There has been an addition of more kids which has helped and hindered the dynamics at play. But the difference is ... me. I'm not flying off the handle. I seem to see things in perspective. I have been handling the same crisis's in a different manner. I have noticed that the good behaviours outweigh the negatives by far. I even smile throughout the day.

With every step I take, that further commits me to this decision ... signing the loan documents, signing the school registration forms ... I silently cheer. I know, with every forward step that I take ... that this is the best decision for me.

As I count down the final weeks to my full time daycare career, I am oddly reflective. I am looking at my daycare days in a positive way. I can't help but look at my daycare family and be sad that we are 'breaking up'. At the onset of this decision, I would have never guessed that I would feel this way. Instead of counting down the days and simply enduring them (as I normally do this time of year, before school starts up again), I'm actually enjoying them. I'm not running away from my old life (as I would have been, if I had done this a year earlier) ... I am following a well thought out plan.

I look forward to the year ahead and instead of being overwhelmed with my new workload, I am energized. I visualize the end result and know that it won't always be easy to get there. But I will.

When I made my decision to find a way to work from home after My Youngest was born, I vowed that I didn't care how hard or how long that I had to work ... if I could find a way to work out of my home, I would do whatever it took. I'm back at that spot again.

It's not the easy road. But it's the right one. I can feel it with every part of my being. And that is how a good decision should feel!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Student Status

As I ran around last night, student loan papers in hand ... I felt like I was 18 years old.

I went to my new school and formalized my commitment to furthering my education in writing. We went through the final stages of the registration process, through the student hand book, the financing, cheques are written and I'm ready to go. All I have to do now, is show up with my books and eagerness to learn on Sept 1st and get to work.

As I took my student loan papers to the post office for the final signatures and ID checks, I felt like a young student. As the girl helping me mentioned how many of these loan documents were coming in, I couldn't help but be reminded of my advancing years.

I woke up this morning to find a message in my inbox from a cousin who is my age "Way to go on school! I have thought of it a thousand times and have not had the courage yet." What an impact those words made on me. Someone who is in a parallel situation has considered the same option.

As I spilled my news to one of the instructors at the dance studio and once again (conscious of my mature (over ripe?) student status) confessed how old I felt to be doing such a 'young' thing ... I was reassured that many people at all ages (even mine) are continuing their education.

At every turn, I am encouraged. My family is behind me ... and then some. I had an uplifting conversation with my mom, when I called her yesterday to let her know that my financing was completely covered. She was positive and encouraging in everything that we spoke about (and we spoke of much more than school). She passed along the enthusiasm in which one of my sisters commented on my 'new life'. My brother ended his last email with the sentence "Relish the thought of what is in store for you." My other sister sent me the words: "You are so brave to make this big step! I know that you will be successful, as you can do anything that you put your mind to."

Another email that I woke up to this morning was from a friend " ... it made me think of you and how you are making things happen in your life ... "

Who needs financial backing when you've got support like this?? At every turn, I am encouraged. I am fueled with the belief that this is the best route for me to take right now. My life is headed in the direction I want it to take. Doors are opening ... all I have to do is walk through them.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Placed My 'Order' ... and It Was Filled!

The 'Secret' says to say, visualize and believe what you want in your life.

I said the dollar amount that I hoped to be granted by Canada Student Loans; I budgeted that amount in and saw it in my upcoming student budget; I read and reread the documentation that I had and from what I understood, I fully believed that my wish would be granted.

And it was.

I am putting myself through school. No assistance (other than a relatively small student loan) required. It was as though all I had to do was 'place the order' ...

In this transition into the world of furthering my education, I placed a few more orders. Just two. Nothing greedy or over the top. I truly believe that it is not inconceivable to receive what I can envision. If believing can make wishes come true, I am in for a banner year!

If I Can't See It ... Is It Really There?

I just finished fighting with my hair again this morning.

After my worst-haircut-in-recent-history (9 weeks ago) ... and finally the hairdresser-that-saved-my-sanity (3 weeks ago) who performed miracles with my emergency-haircut-in-Calgary-while-we-were-on-holidays ... I can finally, finally control my hair (somewhat).

Every time I wash it, I cringe at the thought of fighting the never ending battle to control the ultra-short-hair-on-the-top-of-my-head. I am managing. There are still stressful moments as I wage war with my hair, but for the most part ... I'm winning the battle.

Then, this morning ... I got brave and took a hand held mirror so that I could look at the back of my head. It was the wavy-wonky-look, if I ever saw one. I was deflated.

I walked away from the mirror (I hate mirrors) thinking - 'If I can't see it ... is it really there?'

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


"Laughter is the best medicine"

As I was leaving the dance studio last night and saying my good-byes to someone who I hadn't seen for a while, I asked if she would be returning next week. To encourage her, I mentioned how much she laughed and appeared to enjoy the evening. Her response was, "We laugh all the time at home" ... Wow. They are living the good life.

I associate fun and laughter with the dance studio. How the instructors continue to smile and laugh throughout their days amazes me. But they do. For the brief half hour or hour that I am there, I am swept up in their joy and forget life at home. Not that there is anything wrong with my life ... but it's nice to have that 'happy place' to go to.

As my new, fall schedule (back to the books and trying to juggle work, school, kids, errands and a life) is on the horizon, I was overjoyed to realize that my private dance lesson now falls on the same evening as the group classes. One night out of the house and it will encompass everything I enjoy at the dance studio. One precious night to call 'my own'.

Last night, I was approached about joining a 'group formation' class. One extra evening at the studio, with a group of people who are there because they want to be a part of a group dance which will be performed at the dance showcase in November. Ten weeks to learn a dance, be surrounded with people that make me laugh and the end result would be to perform our creation in front of an audience.

I cringed at the thought of giving up that evening. I don't know what my pressures are going to be like in the fall and I know that I need to keep a sane balance of work, pleasure, family and down-time. One extra night at the studio??

Then ... I listened to my response to the friend who had told me that they laugh all the time in their home. I said "That's why I dance ... the laughter. I don't laugh at home" ... (well I do, but it's just not quite the same as my night out, at the dance studio).

Ten weeks. At the beginning of my school term where the pressures shouldn't be too taxing. A small financial commitment and one extra hour, surrounded with people who laugh easily and love to dance.

The more I think about it, the more I know that I have to find a way to keep dancing throughout my upcoming school term. Where there is a will, there is a way. I have a solution in mind ... I just have to follow through on it.

I am saying "YES!" to the group formation class. I know that I would be disappointed in myself, if I didn't.

When you see something right in front of you, that brings nothing but joy to your life ... reach out and grab it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


"Everything in moderation" are good words to live by.

Work, play, solitude, food, noise, good times, bad times, sleep, kids, heat, the list is endless.

It seems that I've been swaying the balance of that moderated life that I so enjoy. Too much idle time at the end of my holiday ... too much work in one day ... too much heat (I hate to be the one to say it, but I really don't enjoy excessive heat). And too many words!

I look over some of my blog entries and I'm overwhelmed in words. "The lady doth write too much, methinks!"

I even went back to a few of them one day to try and contain one train of though and cut down the verbage. But I couldn't do it. It's how my brain works. One thought branches off into many more. They are connected in my mind, but in writing it down ... it seems random (and pointless, perhaps?).

I have been asked "... how you have so many thoughts and words in you?" The answer is simple. Limited adult conversation in my life!

I wake up in the morning and my thoughts run rampant. I woke up this morning with a blog title in my mind. Other mornings, I wake up with paragraphs in my brain. I sit down at the computer with one idea and then my fingers go wild. It's like there is a direct path from my brain to my finger tips, with no conscious thought in between (and I'm sure it is evident). I start with one sentence ... and where I end up, nobody knows!

That said, I am going to be brief this morning. I will go and 'spend' my words on returning a few emails.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I made a glib comment the other day about how 'ugly' I have been feeling lately. I used the 'u' word with little thought. It's the word that came to mind most frequently when I took the time to worry about my appearance.

I don't enjoy mirrors. I use them to get ready in the morning and to give myself a quick once over when I pass one. But for the most part, I find that I am too critical of myself to enjoy my reflection. I avoid mirrors in public.

A mirror is a reflection that I see. Not what others do. I am my own worst critic. And to take the edge off the 'ugly' description in the self-talk that cycles through my head ... I should probably downgrade that insult. I would say that I'm of average looks. I don't turn heads - one way or the other. My mom once described me as a wallflower. At the time, I thought that she was complimenting me. But I realized much later, that she described me perfectly. I'm not a person that most people remember. It almost made me laugh that waitresses 'didn't see' me and I would be the one who's order didn't get taken. It happened on many occasions. I fit in with the scenery. I don't stand out. The key to that sentence is 'I fit' ...

I had the privilege of reading the writing of a 75 year old who had written some of his inner thoughts about his younger years. I was captivated by this piece of writing that turned out to be far from what I could have ever expected to read ...

His story focused primarily on his young adulthood years - from age 17 - 30. He was not only insecure about his appearance, but he was ridiculed, teased and taunted by his peers. That is bad enough when you are a child - excruciating, in fact. But as he entered the years where one starts thinking of the opposite sex, falling in love and the life that follows ... he was faced with what he perceived as one rejection after another. He finally gave up. For 13 years. He sequestered himself from the pain of rejection.

It broke my heart to read the way he told his story. He built his life around what he knew and loved. Family, farming and his faith got him through the years. I can only imagine how quiet and reflective he must have been. To build such a strong wall around himself, so that he couldn't be hurt ... the special few that he trusted must have been saints. He talks about the 'gifts' he received from his nieces - unconditional love. These were children that didn't care about his outward appearance. They saw only what was within.

He talked of 'angels unaware' ... the people that passed through his life and made a comment that affected him for a lifetime. He notices the positive side of people - he has the alternate to compare that to.

I would love to see his story change the way people think (young and old) about carelessly tossing out words. I can envision him talking to a group of young people and those with insecurities and on the receiving end of teasing, would feel understood and less alone. I would like the bullies of the world (they are all around us) to feel what it is like to walk a mile in the shoes of those that they taunt.

I have often thought that the most compassionate and sensitive adults are those that quietly watched life go on around them as a child. The children who don't 'fit in' grow into adults. What each person does with that hurt and anger is as individual as the person that they are.

I have not met the man who wrote these words. I have only read snippets of his writing and every time I read his reflections, I am touched. Even before I read the story of where this sensitivity is rooted.

He is an angel that walks among us. This world is so lucky that he turned to his family and faith to get him through life's rough patches. I can only imagine the treasure that he is, to those nieces and nephews that loved him unconditionally. And to those that he has trusted with his heart.

I'm so grateful that he has an outlet (writing it out) for all that he has lived. He has learned lessons the hard way. By writing his thoughts, maybe he can set them free.

As I read of this man's experience ... just because he didn't 'fit in', it made me very grateful for being the wallflower that I am. I don't want to turn heads ... for any reason. My biggest hope is that the only reason that I may stand out from the crowd, is to be just one person's angel unaware.

The only reflection that is worthy of admiring, is the look in someone else's eyes ... when you've done something that impacts their life in a positive way.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Acceptance and Hope

There are many ways to experience loss ...

I continue to question why I have been drawn into the lives/blogs of several young parents who have experienced the heart wrenching loss of a child or spouse. These people are young enough to be my children. I read their words and long to comprehend the emotional roller coaster they are enduring. They are brutally honest about their pain and the words come straight from their broken hearts. It is as if I need to learn something from their experience. To understand a process which I have had little first hand knowledge.

As people who I am close to experience the tragedy of loss in their lives, I still scramble to find the right words. I feel such compassion for what they are going through, yet it is something so foreign to me. I hear the raw pain of grief in the blogs that I have been following and I often wonder ... Have I said enough? Have I said too much? Can these words be misunderstood? Who am I to console someone when I don't know the extent of their pain?

Then I realized that someone doesn't have to die for you to experience grief. I have 'lost' 2 men in my life - the relationships that didn't last 'til death do us part'. You still go through the stages of grief. It's just that the other person is still alive and well ... and carrying on with their own life (and probably grieving in their own way).

I hadn't realized how far I have come until our recent holiday. An unintentional trip down memory lane unearthed a lot of thoughts and reflections.

I had been to Calgary 30 years ago with my cousin. We were 18 years old at the time and we navigated the city without a map. Amazingly, we found her aunt's house, the zoo and Heritage Park. When I was paying for our tickets (to go through Heritage Park) and asked "Have you been here before?", it was such a gift to say "Yes. 30 years ago." It felt so good to walk down a path I had been before, making new memories ... yet cherishing the old ones.

My cousin and I each 'survived' a divorce. We married men that were quite similar in ways. We lived through the experience and each of us has carved a brand new life. We lost one life but gained another.

I had been to Drumheller with my family, as a child. As we were on the swinging bridge (on our recent holiday), I immediately asked "Was this made out of wood before?" (yes, it was). I remembered walking along it. I remembered a picture of my dad on it. I remembered him slightly rocking it. And then I remembered my recent conversations with his brothers about how heights didn't bother him. I had new memories to reinforce the old ones. Precious.

Dad has been gone so many years, it is such a gift to unearth a memory long forgotten. I could picture Dad 'in real life' - not through the still life a photograph. But an actual feeling, activity and living memory.

Our train excursion in Stettler brought up memories I had long forgotten. We rode in train cars built in the early 1920's, but a few of them were familiar to me. We used to ride the train a fair bit in the 1970's. Again, I turned to one of our tour guides and asked if these train cars were used in the 70's ... because I remembered them (yes, they were). Silly little things - like the heaters on the floor that I used to put my feet on ... the lights on the ceiling of the car. The upholstery of the seats and their ability to flip so that we could face each other on our long train rides. Nothing things. But long lost memories. I remembered the ease being a child and many small memories associated with those train trips.

I sometimes forget how easy it was being a child. I will get stuck on the 'ugly, no self confidence, shy' aspect of myself and forget that 99% of the time ... I was a young person with no worries. Riding the train with my mom and younger brother. The worries all belonged to my parents in those days. I had forgotten.

Then, there were a few of the 'scenes of betrayal' of relationships-gone-by that we happened upon. I didn't plan to seek these places out. They just appeared before me.

I have known in my mind, that I have healed and moved on. But my most recent break up was the hardest loss that I have known in my life (so far). I lived and breathed each one of the stages of grief. I felt a physical and emotional pain that I had never experienced before. As I was living it, it felt endless. But I eventually found my way out. Getting out the other side of grief and starting to live again was the gift I received for enduring the loss of my future as I knew it.

Anyway ... as I endured the pain/anger/depression cycles, I could unearth the pain in a moment. I woke up with it, I breathed it, I lived it, I couldn't forget it. The final scenes of our relationship ran in a loop in my mind and I felt powerless to stop it. The ultimate betrayal was simply a symptom of a relationship gone bad ... but it was that betrayal that ran through my mind over and over and over again. It was like waking up from a nightmare, only to return to it every time I closed my eyes. I had never felt so hurt or betrayed in my life. I trusted this man with my heart and soul. And he stomped on it and crushed it like an old cigarette butt. I was devastated.

Eventually, my life took that upward turn. I started rebuilding my life and myself. I accepted the past and could look back on that final betrayal and the people involved and feel ... nothing.

I, in no way decided to consciously seek out or avoid this 'place of betrayal' on our holiday. It was a non-event in my mind. So when this 'place' appeared before me in the grandest of all ways ... I smiled. I did a silent cheer as I voiced in my mind 'it doesn't hurt any more'. Indifference. When it comes to a broken heart, hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is. And I'm there. I knew it before ... and the physical reminder just cemented the fact in my mind.

Another memory. This one, with the power to reopen a wound. But it was powerless, in my newly reconstructed life.

Then ... just as I thought there could be no more memories to unearth ... I unknowingly ended up on a country road that took me past just one more place in my past. The 'bush party' days when I was 16. The backdrop of many moments between me and my (then) future husband. The scene of the ultimate betrayal of my 'life so far', at age 16 (when he 'disappeared' into the bushes with my best friend ...). Nothing. Less than nothing. It was long after I drove past the farm yard that I actually remembered that this memory was a part of the many betrayals that relationship endured. Talk about indifference. That was over 30 years ago - it is better forgotten. And it almost was.

The memory of pain does fade with time. In the end, it is the good stuff that sifts to the top. Thank goodness.

In our trip down memory lane this past holiday, I remember ...

... a memorable holiday with my closest cousin as we were on the brink of our adult lives, at age 18
... a family vacation in the early 1970's, where my hard working Dad took time to let loose and 'swing' on that swinging bridge
... our many train rides as a child - rides back 'home' and trips to Winnipeg. A time where I had no worries
... old betrayals and wounds that have healed - almost forgotten, in some cases ... but in the end, what I truly remember is that I do have the ability to open my heart and love someone

Stage #7 in the 7 Stages of Grief is 'Acceptance and Hope'. I live and breathe acceptance of my life as I know it ... and hope? I've never been so full of it.

Never ... ever lose hope.

Friday, August 7, 2009


The world through eye glasses is a totally different place to be.

I have had glasses since I was 6 years old. I should know of a life no different. But thanks to the world of contact lenses verses my recent attempt to get back to wearing glasses, there is a vast difference. At least to me.

I remember feeling disjointed and disconnected from the world a lot as a teen. There was a detachment from my brain and body and I perceived life ... differently.

I don't remember the exact time when this detachment became less noticeable but my instincts tell me it is when I got interested in life (boys) and started thinking outside of my own head. But at the very same time, I also got contact lenses.

Which brings me back to the point of my story. When you wear contact lenses (or don't need glasses to enhance your vision), you see the world through your eyes - not through the lenses of a pair of glasses. When you see life through your eyes, you have full peripheral vision. There is a feeling of seeing things directly, rather than through a pair of lenses set apart from your actual eye.

I have worn contact lenses for about 33 years. I wear my glasses after supper, if my eyes are sore or if I've lost a contact lens. I associate wearing glasses with times of rest or on an emergency basis only.

This past week, I have been sporting a new pair of glasses. All day, every day, as I try to adapt my eyes to the world of glasses again. It has been a very odd experience.

Number 1 - is the automatic relaxation/lazy/sleepy mode that I associate with glasses. I look at myself in the mirror and have the feeling that I'm ready for bed. I can fall asleep at any time once I'm in glasses. And I do.

Number 2 - is the 'ugly' association that I have of myself in glasses. I have honestly felt very ugly (since the last 'very bad haircut') the past few months. I never feel beautiful or even pretty. I usually simply feel 'okay' about the reflection in the mirror. And I'm okay with that. But after this sense of walking around feeling ugly, I was ready for a makeover. I thought glasses may work. And I think they did. Until my mom laughed at the Chuck E Cheese rendition of a pencil drawing of Kurt and me on the first day of our holidays (where I was wearing my old glasses and in my ugly hair) ... she said it didn't even look like me. I looked in the mirror and even though I was sporting my new, cool glasses and my newest attempt to try to grow 'past' this most horrible haircut in recent history ... I still look the same as that picture my mom laughed at. 'The ugly' phase is alive and well.

Number 3 - I don't feel like my new glasses are a good 'fit' for me. The eyeglasses totally interfere with my peripheral vision, they are much smaller than I am accustomed to so I am constantly pushing them up because it feels like I'm looking over them. So ... I've worn out the skin at the top of the bridge of my nose. Now it hurts to wear my new glasses.

Number 4 - is the detachment I feel when I wear glasses. It's back. I love looking at the world through contact lenses. It gives me the sense that I am seeing everything first hand - not through a set of lenses, which are set apart from my eyeball.

At the moment, I'm wearing my ugly, old glasses (which are comfortable on my face and give me the feeling of a full range of vision) because I wore my contact lenses yesterday until my eyes were red and uncomfortable (after a week's break from wearing them). I'm having a bad hair day and simply feeling disjointed, ugly and tired.

I would like to banish mirrors from my life. The reflection you see back in a mirror is not important. It's what's within a person that makes them 'beautiful'. But as I look at life this morning through my old, slightly blurry pair of glasses ... I am feeling ugly and disconnected. I think I'll try looking at life through contact lenses once again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Giant Steps

Don't be afraid to take a big step. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps.’
- David Lloyd George

As I look towards my decision to go back to school, I seem to be standing on the ledge of that chasm, looking at the giant step ahead of me a lot these days ...

I've had a few moments of the fear of falling (failing). But those pass quickly. I know that I can do this. I've done it before and I can do it again.

I've had many thoughts of the fear of abandoning the tried and true and taking a leap of faith towards the future. I can visualize the end result of this choice to continue my education. I can see myself walking the path to get there. I know that I am already well on my way (I already have a book keeping job ... how much more fortunate could I be?). I know that this step towards my future is a positive one.

I wonder if the 'other side' of this chasm I am prepared to leap is all I hope that it will be. I do have other options here on the safe side of the abyss. A job that I could return to - a 'guarantee' (if there is such a thing as a guarantee these days) of a set wage, good benefits and a pension ...

But I want more than a pension when I retire. I want a life. I want and need to continue to work. I need the structure and the deadlines that a job imposes, to provide the boundaries that define work and leisure. Getting an education and experience in the book keeping field will provide me that option.

As much as I enjoyed my holiday, by the end of it I was losing my ambition and drive. I didn't have appointments, commitments or a schedule to define my days. I wandered aimlessly through those days and wasted many moments. I thrive on the sense of accomplishment. That was sorely lacking on the last days of my vacation.

The more I think about this decision, the more I am convinced that this is the right road for me to take. It is leading me in the direction I want my life to go.

Yes, it is a big step. But I have complete faith that I can cross over the chasm and explore a new landscape.

I've taken many leaps of faith in my life. Every time I have chosen to redirect my life, it has been a victory. Every step that I took along the way has lead me to this day.

I have heard people my age all but give up hope at the idea of someone hiring them at this age. All I can think is "Why wouldn't they hire me?" I'm a reliable, hard worker with years of experience and I'm not afraid to keep on learning.

Success is the only outcome I see. So I'm not afraid to take this step in one huge leap. It is a leap of faith.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Snap Out of It!

I can't get myself moving in high speed and it is so frustrating! Words are stuck this morning and I just can't seem to motivate myself.

I could blame the transition from holiday to work. I could blame my new glasses (I've been wearing my glasses instead of my contact lenses) - I associate wearing glasses with relaxing. I could blame 'too much work'. I could blame it on the timing of the arrival of my work last night.

But the reality is ... that I'm not forcing myself to get moving. I feel better when I'm productive. There is a great deal of satisfaction in getting tasks completed and knocking things off of that never ending to-do-list.

It's time to snap out of it and get cracking. I've got a lot of work to do before school starts on September 1st. It is time to create a momentum which will carry me through the days/weeks/months ahead.

There is no time like the present!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to My Regulary Scheduled Life

I'm sitting here this morning, grateful for the ease of the transition back into Normal.

I can't help but think of the families that are grieving and facing a day that is so far from Normal. What these people wouldn't give, to just wake up and be facing a Normal work day. A day when life as they knew it, hadn't turned upside down.

Yes, I have a day forthcoming that will be a far cry from the relaxed pace of my holiday. But it is Normal. I've walked this path before. It's familiar and I know how to fall into its rhythm. I'm blessed.

I can remember my mom's comment, as I made arrangements to cover my responsibilities at work and home, while we waited in the hospital waiting room the morning after Dad's last heart attack. She was so lost in the tragedy of the hours that preceded that moment, that she 'forgot' that life continued to go on, all around us.

The world does keep on spinning no matter what we face in life. The sun comes up each morning and the days pass. I guess that is one thing that we can always count on.

It's wonderful when Normal is interrupted by moments of joy and celebration. It's nice to break out of Normal and have a vacation. But for all of those waking up this morning and facing a day that is so far out of the Normal they are accustomed to ... I can only imagine that their wish may be to put in another long day at work, knowing that their life was just as they knew it only a few short days ago.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm

I sit here with only a finite amount of hours left in 'the best holiday of my life' (so far). And I don't know what to do.

The lawn must be mowed, I would love to just lose myself in the book I'm reading, a birthday cake to make (but I'm missing one ingredient), I want to write and I still have a notebook full of family memories to type out.

Where did my energy go?

Energy begets energy. The busier I am, the more energy I have and the more I can accomplish. I have the ability to work hard and do a lot with a set amount of time. I'm also very good at relaxing.

I know I have a busy month ahead of me, as I will have to play catch-up with my book keeping job and my babysitting days will be relatively busy (though who knows for sure??). I have lots of loose ends that I want to tie up before I start pursuing that education I have my eyes set on.

Yesterday, the fear of my new reality gripped me. After this year of education ... where will I be? Will I have the tools I need to make this work for me?

It's a little bit frightening to take a step into the unknown. I've done it before, but I've dived in and just dog paddled my way through until I got my sea legs. This time it feels like I'm wading in slowly, with too much time to think.

I know that once I get busy and my thoughts are dealing with the reality of where I'm at, verses thinking and rethinking this decision ... I'll be fine.

Too much time to think isn't always a good thing.

So for now ... I shall finish up my writing, then go and read my book until it's late enough in the morning to mow the lawn, then I'll pick up that missing ingredient for the cake I want to make ... and get the show on the road!

It's time to get busy again.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Feeling Sombre

I don't know if I've processed the feelings behind the words that are in me today. It may be too soon to release them. Writing is my way of sifting through life's reality and sorting out the lessons to be learned.

I found out that 2 people died yesterday morning. I didn't know either of these people well, but the loss of these 2 souls has deeply affected 2 people that I am extremely close to.

Often when an older person dies or someone who has been battling a terminal disease, it seems that there is a sense of peace that comes along with the loss. As much as the person is loved and the people who love them want them around as long as they can have them ... knowing that their loved one is at peace and out of pain brings some solace.

When an elderly person passes on, it seems that there is a lifetime of memories that fill the hearts of the lives that they have touched. The ache of knowing they can never talk to their loved one again must be heart wrenching. But having good memories to hold onto must help the transition. A little.

Personally, I have experienced very little loss in my life. My dad had a debilitating heart attack 26 1/2 years ago when we lost the essence of who he was (due to extensive brain damage caused by lack of oxygen to his brain). His body lost the battle almost 22 years ago.

Even in my personal experience, loss was introduced to me gradually. When his body survived and his brain didn't, I was young and naive enough to believe in miracles. It took a while before I fully grasped the concept that 'Dad as I knew him' was gone. It gave my brain time to process the idea of losing the Dad I knew.

When he died, it was sad. It was final. The funeral ceremony was new and foreign to me. I was more angry at the necessity of putting together this 'party' than anything. I didn't understand at the time, that the gathering of family and friends is to help those that are left behind. I didn't understand any of this while I was living it.

That was almost 22 years ago. Since then, there have been losses. People who touch my life have experienced loss but I haven't experienced it first hand. I can't begin to comprehend what those who are walking that path are going through.

I do know that much comfort comes from knowing that the person who has deceased lived a good life and feels an inner peace. Family ties and close relationships define a person. Not any of the material accumulations. The way we touch each others lives when we are living is truly what matters in life. Those that have strong and loving relationships have a wealth that can be left behind in the memories they made and the hearts that they touched.

The flip side of that coin is one that I have honestly never fully been conscious of. One of the people that lost the battle of breathing early yesterday morning led a rather tortured life. I know only what I have been told, but it seems this person didn't forgive easily. She held onto negativity, she had secrets, held onto bitterness from her childhood ... but most importantly, it seems that she didn't forgive herself.

We all make mistakes. The people we love and care about make mistakes. It's called learning. Part of the learning process is to take the lesson learned, forgive yourself and others ... and move on. When you hold onto the pain, blame others for your situation and don't move on ... you are hurting others, but most importantly you are hurting yourself.

It was only in death, that this person confessed her fear of dying. Because this person had never forgiven herself, she was afraid to die because she knew she wasn't headed to heaven. My friend heard these words for the first time but in reflection, she could see the truth behind what she heard. My friend was wracked in guilt because she felt that had she known this sooner, she could have helped. She was feeling not only the pain of pending loss, but the agony of watching a loved one fearing death.

I can't begin to comprehend the complexities of death and dying. Knowing that you have a finite time left here on earth seems to me, to be a second chance to make things right before you leave this world. I've often said that if I must die when I have dependent children, I would want to know so that I could make sure everything was in order before I left. Otherwise ... 'surprise me'.

But more importantly, I want to live a life that I feel good about. If my world was to end tomorrow, I would want the people that I love and care about know how I feel. I would want to have made enough of an impact in those people's lives that they could carry a small piece of me within. I would want people to know that I have forgiven all. Some things aren't forgotten ... but no matter what has been 'done unto me', I have forgiven. It is my wish to be forgiven as well ... but most importantly, I have forgiven myself.

I love making memories and capturing them in a way that will last forever, even though I won't. One of the most touching thoughts that I have, of one of the people that died is the poetry she wrote that encompassed every family member. Her family has a tangible memory to physically hold onto, that can only enhance the individual memories that they carry within their heart.

I don't know this person well, but from what I've heard she seemed to be a loving and forgiving person. She had a strong faith within her church and forgiveness is a big part of religion.

'Forgive me Father, for I have sinned ...."

Not one of us is perfect. If you do yourself one favor ... let it be that you forgive yourself and others. Live a happy and peaceful life.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

It's Good to Be Back

This vacation has honestly been the best one of my life (so far). As I sit here this morning, after savoring my breakfast smoothie and a cup of coffee at my side ... all I can think is "It's good to be back."

This holiday has encompassed everything I love about life ...

Time spent immersed in family, quiet time, time to get things done (that I can't do when I'm working), time to make memories and see new sights, time to visit, time to plan a new future and at the end of all of that ... I have a long weekend yet to savor.

I have 4 weeks of Normal before I set out on my next new adventure. An education. As I sit here with 3 uncommitted days ahead of me, the wheels are starting to turn again. How do I best spend these days?

Do I work on our family history story? Yes, I think I should start devoting some time to that project. Do I call and ask for my book keeping work to begin? No - I'm still on holidays. I'll make up for it next week, I promise. Do I sit and read a book? Yes - the couch is beckoning me. Spend some quiet mom/son time? I think so ... these are days I'll never get back.

In the past few days (of tending to life, the future, my new reality and a few more errands), it feels like I have already come down to earth. It was necessary.

As much as I loved every moment of my holiday, it wouldn't be a holiday if it happened all of the time. A person needs to have Normal to come home to ... so you can appreciate the wonder of the extraordinary. Which is simply walking away from Normal ... but knowing you have that same wonderful normalcy in which to return at the end of a most excellent vacation.