Saturday, October 31, 2009

Self Sabotage

Our assignment in our 'Thought Patterns' class is to record 5 ways we have sabotaged our own success this week.

I was quite relieved that 5 things didn't immediately come to mind when we were handed this task. But self sabotage is something that I do to myself. More in the past than in the present ... but now that I've been conscious of it, I realize that I do it more than I thought.

I've started to feel much better about myself over the years. My self esteem is at a rather healthy (I think) spot right now. But I don't want people to think that I think I'm all that good. So I continually point out my flaws. I would rather be the one to point out what is wrong with me, than have someone draw it to my attention. So I continue to be hard on myself.

Then I started listening to 'Lou Tice' (he is the motivational speaker on the DVD's we watch in class and the CD's that we received at the onset of this class). He talks about self-correcting. A person has a certain belief within themselves and tend to limit their own success by believing they are only capable up to a self imposed limit.

I wonder if this is the reason I continually berate myself? Am I limiting my own potential? Hmmm ...

Dancing. This is another area where I believe I sabotage myself. I walked into my lesson Thursday night with all the right thought processes going through my mind. I know I have the ability to do this. I can. I will. I pictured it all in mind and believed it. Yet the reality was, that I made mistakes and did things I've never done before (not in amazing and wonderful ways ... in purely comedic and lack-of-ability ways). I thought about it when I got home. Am I having too much fun messing up? Am I doing this to myself?

Parenting is yet another issue for me. Granted, it is a learn-as-you-go position. The more I learned, the better (I believe) that I became as a parent. Yet ... my oldest son and I are talking in ways we have never talked in our lives. I am giddy with happiness that I feel that I am becoming closer to my son every time we talk. There is a connection that we've never experienced before. And what do I do when we are talking? I remind him of the parent that I wasn't for him, all of those years. There is a big part of me that simply wants him to know that I am aware of my many failings and I'm sorry. I can't undo our past, but I can't pretend it didn't happen either. But do I really have to remind him of it every time we talk? Am I living down to the parent I used to be?

Having a strong and vital relationships of the male/female variety is probably the one area that I struggle with the most in my life. I am completely content with my life as it is. I have no desire to draw anyone else into the life I'm living. I am living 'the good life' on my own. Yet ... I listen to what I say to people when I talk to them. I continually bring attention to the areas I am lacking in. It's like I'm saying 'Look at all I am not ... and help me believe it.' Is that a healthy way to portray myself, if I want to draw a positive person into my life?

Any time I am complimented, my internal voice is telling me 'but they don't know this about me' ... and I very often voice that thought. I can take a compliment as long as there is a 'but' attached to the end. As I surrounded myself with people I used to work with yesterday morning, I found myself swimming in compliments. I want to believe these things but I don't want it to go to my head. So I deflect many compliments. It's automatic. I know as far as I've come in my abilities and talents, I have just as much and more to go. The road to improvement is never ending. I don't ever want to think I've reached that illusive destination.

So yes ... in some ways, I will probably continue to sabotage my own success. I just hope that I keep resetting the bar and continue to grow.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thank You

Thank you. Those two words encompass almost 22 years of gratitude.

I moved to A New City on Dec 31st, 1987. I started working for the My Place of Employment one week later. Little did I know the impact that that Place of Employment and all the people I have crossed paths with along the way, would have on my life. As I sit here today and reflect on the years, I am in awe.

Thank you for hiring me. I was at a huge crossroad in my life when I packed up my young family and moved here. Having a job was crucial.

I moved here and knew very few people. The friends that I have made along the way can all be directly or indirectly linked to people that I met at work or because I was working. I’ll never forget the first people that took me under their wing and befriended me. And it only got better.

Every person that I have worked with has made a difference. People that I may have never uttered a word to … have made a difference. I have sat back and absorbed so much from so many. I have worked for and with an amazing group of people. I have admired so many and tried to adapt a little piece of everyone’s goodness into my being. I am a patchwork quilt of everyone I’ve met. Thank you for being part of my life and the person that I have become.

I was given many opportunities during my years at My Place of Employment. When I had the urge to challenge myself and the desire to learn … all I had to do was ask. I was directed toward the path of learning. As challenging as those correspondence courses were at times, they gave me the confidence and tools that I would need to keep growing. To think that My Place of Employment not only encouraged me along the way … but paid for it as well is a tremendous gift. Thank you for allowing and encouraging me to learn.

I have had some life changing times during these past 22 years. It seemed that every time that I needed a chance to regroup and take on a new direction, the ability to do so was provided through work.

The opportunity to move around to different branches and challenge myself in new and exciting (okay … honestly, they were quite scary at times) ways. Every frightening change that I made allowed me to grow. And to meet even more of our wonderful staff.

My maternity leave and the following year leave-of-absence gave me the opportunity to look at new options. Working from home was a high priority for me and thanks to that leave and having the security of knowing I had a back-up plan, I was given a golden opportunity. I could try.

When my year was up and I had to decide whether or not to return to work, I was given yet another golden opportunity. The ability to work one day a week. I had the best of both worlds. I was home all day and every day with my young son and a world surrounded by children as I ran my daycare. Then I had Saturday. A day among adults and a day to challenge my brain in bright and shiny new ways.

I was wearing thin after 9 years of the ‘Saturday only’ portion of my career. Then another (unbeknownst to me at the time) opportunity landed in my lap. Emergency hernia surgery. The best thing that happened to me in this decade. I couldn’t go to work the Saturday following my surgery. I knew it then, but was deathly afraid of admitting it. I couldn’t go back to working 6 days a week.

Once again, I was granted a leave of absence. One year. A year to decide where I was going from here. I knew that I had to find a way to work only 5 days a week. Whether it was working from home, running my daycare … or returning to My Place of Employment full time. I had a year to decide.

One never knows what will unfold in life. I went with the flow and as the year was drawing to a close, I knew the direction I wanted to take. I wanted to return to school to hone some skills that I hope to utilize in my next career-direction. Book-keeping from my home.

Today is formally my last day of work. I said good-bye to some old friends this morning and hello and good-bye to some friends I hadn’t yet met. As great as it was to be surrounded in what I have come to know and love about My Place of Employment (great people and a supportive staff) … I knew my time was up.

My years with My Place of Employment have given me so many opportunities. Opportunities to grow, learn, explore and try new options.

As I hear of some of the new challenges that everyone at work is now facing, I hope that there is a glimmer of the positive out there. I’ve never met a challenge that didn’t better me and change my life in a positive new direction. I just hope that everyone finds their ‘best life’ as they work through their own personal challenges. At work, at home or at play … there is just so much to explore.

When I look back on the years with My Place of Employment … I can honestly say that they changed me. I believe I’m a better person than I was when I walked through those doors on January 7, 1988.

Thank you.

A Happy Heart

I love waking up like this. I'm excited about the day ahead of me, I'm fueled with a good nights sleep and the afterglow of my dance lesson last night. I wish I knew the recipe to feeling like this. The 'Thought Patterns ..." class that I am taking tells me that we are in control of creating these moments.

Forethought. Planning, visualizing and creating the day/life ahead of you. Work out a few Plan B, C and D's if 'Plan A' doesn't go according to plan.

I do that. I map out the days and have the ability to bounce back and redirect the day if things don't unfold as I expect.

But this happiness in my heart. This is what I love. This is the recipe that I want to patent. But what is it??

Is it putting that exam behind me this week? Facing up to and writing that exam took a huge weight off of my shoulders. That definitely helped.

Was it 'getting in the school spirit' and dressing up yesterday that added to my sense of fun? As I thought about that this morning, there was a day that I would have been embarrassed and completely consumed by the fact that there were only a few of us in the entire building that dressed up. But yesterday? I refused to pay attention to the fact (though I was quite relieved that I spend the vast majority of my day sitting at a computer desk where no one really noticed me).

Is it because my school week is behind me and I have today to myself, to tend to other matters? A day that starts out by dropping in at my old job and saying 'good-bye' to those that I worked with in another life. A day that I plan to work feverishly at my book-keeping so that I can free up my time this weekend. A day that has a million possibilities.

Or is it because my running around in the evenings is done for this week? The guilt that I carried with me as I ran here, there and everywhere took the enjoyment out of what should have been fun. My Youngest realizes that I feel badly about all of this gallivanting and every now and again he'll play his 'guilt card'. But no matter what he says or does, it is my internal guilt-meter that guides me. This week was too much. I'm glad it is behind me.

What were some of my first conscious thoughts that put the smile on my face? My dance lesson last night. I went into my lesson firmly believing that I was capable of performing my routines the way they were intended to be performed. My self-talk was all positive ("I can do this" "I know this" "I am capable"). I visualized it, I ran through my routines in my mind, I turned on my dance-music and tried getting my head in the 'zone' before I got there. It was going to be a lesson where everything went right.

The reality was quite the opposite. I even vocalized my positive-thought-process aloud and snapped myself on the wrist with the elastic band (from my "Thought Patterns ..." class - every time you have a negative thought, you pull the elastic and let it snap you out of that thought pattern). I did everything I could to turn things around.

Nothing worked. Is it because I was having too much fun just the way it was? We laugh. I simply cannot get enough laughter in my life. I live to laugh. And laugh we did. I would intend to be serious and focus on what I knew I could do. Then I would catch the expression of my instructors face, out of the corner of my eye. He was barely containing the laughter at times. And really ... why should he?

Laughter unleashed is one of the worlds best medicines.

I am convinced that my dance lessons provide me with what I need to face the world. I walk into the dance studio and I'm transformed. I walk out of the studio and I carry a piece of the dance-world with me for days on end.

I exclaimed "This is the highlight of my life ... and worth every penny!" when we were having a conversation about the high-cost-of-dancing before my lesson last night. And I meant every word of it.

My life is full of good things. Dancing is most definitely a highlight. But if the rest of my world was out of sync, even dancing couldn't provide all the answers.

Do I have the recipe for a happy heart? Not precisely. But a good balance of challenge, spirit, possibilities, letting go of the guilt and dancing worked miracles for me this week.

What resonates within me this morning, is the laughter from last night, the endless possibilities that lie in wait today and a weekend on the horizon where it's 'all about My Youngest'. Halloween is just an excuse, but he needs a little kid-fun in his life. And that ... is exactly what is on our agenda.

My heart is full this morning. I am content and happy. I wish I was a cat so that I could purr. The vibrations of a cat's purr is one of my favorite sensations. I hope that I can touch someone with the good vibes that are emanating from my soul this morning.

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spirit

It's 'School Spirit' this week at my school. I had intended on trying to participate but I got caught up in the rest of life and completely forgot about it until we were well under way with 'Super Hero Day'. The sad part is, that I didn't even realize that I had missed participating until I read a sign that reminded me. I'm not the only one who was lacking in spirit - as I looked around me, I couldn't find a soul that had dressed up for the occasion.

We had a school assembly yesterday and there was a grand total of three students, that had dressed up for the 70 - 80's day (that should have been easy for me ... all I'd have to do is look in my closet and I'm sure I could have come up with something horribly out of date). Retro is my look.

I'm rounding up some school spirit this morning and I've dressed up for the 'Really Formal Thursday'. The sad part is that I probably also qualify for the pajama-day, Super Hero day, 70/80's day and Hallowe'en costume - all wrapped up in one costume.

My dress is as comfortable as an old pair of pj's; the fact that I wore it 7 years ago speaks volumes for the fact that it must have looked better on my leaner/firmer body, so I feel as brave as a Super Hero by wearing it; the dress is so old that I'm sure it would have been fashionable in the 80's; and all I'd have to do is don my 'Miss Understood' sash and tiara and I'm set for Hallowe'en.

It's fun to get wrapped up in the spirit of an occasion. Whether it's school, work or play it brings out a different side of yourself when you dress to the occasion and join in on the fun.

We have several theme dances at the dance studio. As frightening as it is, to go out of your way to dress out of the ordinary it's amazing how fun it is to join in with those who have participated. You feel like a team member. You feel like you belong.

I love wrapping myself up in the spirit of an occasion. Why make it an occasion? Why don't I just immerse myself in the spirit of a regularly scheduled day?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

High Energy Day Wednesday

Wednesday seems to be 'my day'.

It's the day of the week where I don't feel as overwhelmed with expectations of myself. I've had 2 days to whittle away at the challenges of the week and I'm in the home stretch.

It's the day I return to the dance studio after a small hiatus from the prior week. As much as the upcoming dance showcase is draining my resources, being at the dance studio (dancing, surrounding myself with people who are there for the love of dance, laughing, moving to music and learning) fuels me.

Wednesday is the day that I feel in control of the week. My take-charge day.

Today, I plan to go to school and I'd love to take the exam I've been preparing for all week. I'm not sure if I'm ready, but I'll walk in the doors full of energy and confidence that I'll be ready to take that exam before I walk out of those doors today.

This afternoon, I plan to take control of the book keeping work that walked in my door Monday morning. I have the tools I need to complete the last job in the 'Pandora's Box' full of work that I opened a few weeks ago. I may not be able to complete this work today. But today is the day that I am going to control that work. It's not going to control me.

I have been out of the house too much lately. Last night, I had a nightmare that I had let My Youngest stay on his own all night. I need to be home more. Even though we don't spend our time side by side doing things together, there is a sense of security in knowing that we are under the same roof. Breathing the same air. A few steps away. My Youngest doesn't need much of me ... but he needs to know I'm here. I'm way out of my comfort zone with all the gallivanting that I've been doing lately. We are counting the days until our lives return to normal.

Today is the day. I need to make more days into high-energy-days. Wednesday just isn't enough!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Gift

Yesterday's post went on and on about the guilt I felt, after indulging myself in accepting a gift ...

I have a friend that is not only the most intuitive person I know, but she acts on many of her thoughts. I call her a mind reader but she insists that she is no different than anyone else. She is simply in tune to what she senses and acts accordingly.

Mine is not a hard mind to read. If it's not something that I am blatantly talking about ... just ask me. I'll tell you pretty much anything. But every once in a blue moon, I have thoughts that I keep to myself.

This is a friend that I would go to first. She is the easiest person in the world to talk to.

When I found myself pregnant and quite alone ... when I was ready to talk, I talked to her. She already knew (I think she knew before I did). She walked down that road with me when I was alone. She listened, she called and she kept me sane.

She was the one that was here for moral support when I struggled with the right-thing-to-do when my oldest son and I were having a lot of trouble.

She heard me out when my heart was broken.

Our friendship is more than me running to her when I have troubles (in fact, I don't think I've ever run to her ... she has simply been there). We have worked together and share that common ground. Our lives have led us in different directions, but we still connect. She listens a lot but says little about herself. At times I do question if the friendship is a little lop sided. I talk too much ... but yet, when I tentatively ask her a question there is reserve in her answers. So I respect that and I don't push too much.

That's the history ... now on with Sunday's gift:

My friend's phone call to invite me to come along to see 'A Chorus Line' with her, came out of the blue. She issued the invitation, instructed me to take 5 minutes to think about it and call back. Show time was in 2 hours.

I did wonder how she ended up with a spare ticket to see this show, but this particular friend is very lucky in some ways and she does often have these opportunities fall into her lap. My guess was, that she had won the tickets and the person she expected to go with couldn't make it at the last moment.

I was wrong.

Still reluctant to give me details, she eventually confessed that she knew this was the only way I would agree to go. If she had called and given me time to think about it, she knew that I would talk myself out of it (she is right).

Which brought me to the next question ... how in the world did she know that I wanted to go to this show?? She smiled and I believe she thought about keeping me guessing. But she had been in the dance studio and had been talking to the instructor that is teaching us the group formation dance. It came up in their conversation, that we were working with music from 'A Chorus Line' ... and she took it from there.

This was a gift that far exceeded the actual tickets (which was rather amazing unto itself). It is the gift of a friend who knows me so well, that she knew (without me saying a word) exactly what I wanted. She also knew (better than I did), the way in which I would follow my basic instincts and not allow guilt to talk me out of accepting it.

This friend is the true gift. How do you thank someone when the words ''Thank you" don't even come close to covering it?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

I woke up with a heaviness in my heart this morning. There is only one word to describe it. Guilt.
Last night, I put myself first.

I've been taking a lot of liberties lately, in preparation for the upcoming dance showcase. Extra dance lessons, running around to find accessories and clothes for my costumes and a mind that is often drifting off into the dance world. Even when I'm home, I'm not here.

But as long as I race back home, I assuage my guilt by thinking 'I wasn't gone too long'.

Then there is my book keeping work. Work that I used to be able to squeeze (mostly) into the days so that there wasn't the appearance that I was always working. Now? The only time I can work, is during the evenings and weekends. We are 2 months into my schooling and My Youngest is already tired my endless work.

The next few weeks feel like they will be a whirlwind of activity. I am counting down the days to the dance showcase so that our lives can return to 'normal'. This pace isn't one I want to adopt into life as we know it. It's too much.

Then ... last night, a temptation too great to bear was placed right in front of me. And I couldn't resist.

With a 5 minute time limit to make my decision and two hours to show-time, I was offered 'the gift of a lifetime'. Something I had quietly wished for but hadn't voiced aloud, that I was hoping for.

Our group formation is performing a dance routine to the song 'One' from 'A Chorus Line'. Our instructor had wanted us to watch the movie to help us feel in character for this dance. As luck would have it, there was a live performance of 'A Chorus Line' here this past weekend. I looked at the price of the tickets and immediately vetoed the idea. There was a free chance to win tickets and I mailed off my entry. I thought 'if I'm meant to go ... I'll win' - I didn't win. So I was quite complacent about the whole thing. In fact, I forgot all about it.

At 5:20 last night, a friend called me and asked if I'd like to go. Show time was at 7:30. I had 5 minutes to make up my mind.

I wanted to go so badly. Number One son was over for supper but he immediately told me to go. He was tired and not feeling well. He said that he would have been leaving early anyway.

I didn't even want to ask My Youngest. I knew it was too much. But I did. And he agreed that he was fine with the idea. Guilt was with me right from the moment the invitation was issued. But I overrode it. I went.

It was great. I'm glad I went. In fact, I'd like to see the movie now because I was trying to absorb too much and I feel like I missed a lot.

But the overwhelming feeling that I had when I got home and most especially when I woke up this morning? Guilt.

Plain and simple. Guilt.

When I got home, My Youngest told me that he does want to see me go out and do things that I want to do. But he reminded me that I have been out an awful lot lately.

Guilty as charged. I will find a way to make this up to him. I don't know how. But I will. This weight in my chest is too much to bear. I need to stop my world and join his for a while.

He asks for so little. A small piece of my time now and then, is really all he wants. And he will eventually not even want that one day. I dare not miss the opportunity while I have it.

The wheels are turning. I have to find a way to make this right. I can't have fun at My Youngest Child's expense.

I put myself ahead of everyone else last night to enjoy a simple indulgence. But I'm paying the price this morning.

Guilty pleasures. Are they worth it?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Quiet Sunday

I woke up to the knowledge that I have nothing that I have to do today. This is not a feeling that I would want to wake up to every day ... but in a while, it is nice.

I didn't want to sleep the morning away, so I kept hitting the snooze button (I didn't want to get up at 5:30, but I didn't want to turn the alarm off altogether). Morning is my favorite time of day and I didn't want to miss a moment.

Thoughts of 'life' are continuously flowing through my brain. Reflections of the day past ... looking forward to the day ahead. Feelings and emotions that are fueled by looking back a little and looking ahead a lot. Gratitude. I waft through my mornings simply grateful for the full day that I have ahead of me. Even a quiet day is a day full of possibilities.

I reread the blogs I updated yesterday and was once again reminded of the small things that elate me.

My daycare blog was updated with a story about actually sitting down with my after school crowd and having a conversation with them on Friday afternoon. There were 6 here after school and most of them were actively involved in talking about their 'inner best'. The middle grades had to bring something to display on their desk, that showcased something that they were good at doing. These displays came home with the kids and promoted a lot of conversation. What I loved most about the whole dialogue was the way each of the kids lit up as they talked about what they were most passionate about in their life. Any one, at any age lights up from within when they talk about something they enjoy.

Our dance blog was updated with a video of our group formation routine. I have watched it over and over again. As I watch the group of us, performing in (close to) perfect synchronicity, it takes me back to all of the trials and tribulations we've had along the way. There are a few in the group that pick up the choreography with little effort. But most of us have to work at it. When you are one of a majority (that has to work hard, to learn a little), there is such a sense of comfort and camaraderie. At times, I have questioned whether joining this group routine was the sane thing for me to do. As the memories of all that it has taken to get from 'there' to 'where we are at' waft through my mind ... I know that I did the right thing. I absolutely love being part of a group effort. I've done it before and I'll do it again. In a word, it is fun!

Then there are the words from my 'Thought Patterns ...' class sifting through my consciousness. I have heard so much of this before, but they are good concepts to keep fresh. They talk a lot about 'positive self talk' ... 'intentionally creating your day/life' ... 'visualization' (seeing/feeling and believing that you can achieve what you set out to do) ... 'setting goals'. I have many personal testimonials for each of these overused catch phrases. When I hear them being talked about in class, I just want to stand in front of the crowd and say "Try it ... it works!!"

I love the thoughts that are free falling from my mind these days. Once in a while, I get caught in a downward spiral of negativity. But there are so many positive forces in my life, that I don't get caught up in it. You don't appreciate the good, without the bad to offset it. So even a bad day is a good thing.

That said ... I shall carry on with my 'quiet Sunday'.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Too Many Words ... So Little Time

I woke up with about 6 chapters of words in me this morning.

Thoughts about yesterday ... thoughts about my 'Thought Patterns' class ... thoughts about the people I talked throughout the day ... thoughts about today ... thoughts about dancing ... thoughts of my family.

Joy! Pure joy is coursing through my veins right now. I've only had one cup of coffee so I can't even say this is caffeine induced. I lived this feeling all day yesterday. I fell asleep with it. I woke up to it. Pure elation over the life I am living.

Do I dare write about it and spoil the illusion? It is the simplest of things that I am revelling in ...

I had barely taken a step out of my room yesterday morning when My Youngest met me in the hallway and said (ever-so-nicely) "You do realize that I only have holey pants to wear today?" No accusation, no anger or spite. He spoke to me in a tone that one could not take offence to. Such a small thing. But huge! He's 11 years old. Many kids are developing an attitude by now. Not my boy ... I don't know if it will last, but I'm enjoying every moment of this while I have it.

Then I got thinking about this more as the day went on. I went downstairs to vacuum 'My Youngest Child's domain'. The room was left in meticulous condition. All Lego, dart gun and toy clutter was put away in its spot. What child does this without adult intervention? That room used to be a disaster zone. A very long time ago, he had asked for shelves so that he could display his many Lego creations. Eventually I cleared out a few wall units and let him use them for his Lego. Since that time (6 months ago??), he has taken care of that room. He asked for one simple thing. Shelves. Some people are just so easy to please.

Last night as I was saying good night to him (we are at the stage where I tucker out earlier than him, so he was still watching TV when I was calling it a day), he asked if I could put something in the fridge for him on my way upstairs. I smiled and said "And you can't do this yourself?" His reply "But you're walking right by the fridge." I responded "And you won't be?" (it was a partially drank bottle of pop - not milk that was going to go sour). I took his pop upstairs with me and smiled. In my stressed out years, I could have easily turned that dialogue into an argument. Now? I smile and I'm grateful that I have a child who is conscious of putting things back where they belong.

I was dealing with more laundry this morning and once again, my thoughts drifted to My Youngest and the respect and kindness that we have between us. I marvel at this gift. I wondered "How did I get so lucky?" Then I saw it.

His brothers are grown and they treat me with a kindness and respect that takes my breath away. My adult children make me proud (is that okay to say out loud??). I respect the men they have become and they respect me. It's not a mushy gushy kind of love. It is in gestures, the tone of voice, the fact that they do come by and are very much a part of my life. My Youngest may not sit with us and revel in the company of his older brothers when they are here. But he respects and admires them. They have set the bar. And My Youngest, at such a young age, seems to be taking it all in. He treats me the way his older brothers treat me.

I look at the people that I surround myself with. I have family and friends that show me the same respect. I cannot think of one person in my life that doesn't treat me with kindness. My Youngest sees, feels and lives with this incredible aura that envelopes our lives. He seems to be swept up in the magical wonder of it all.

The key? There are many.

I never used to treat myself with kindness. I used to beat myself up and put myself down. Amazingly, I found people that would treat me the same way. When you don't feel worthy, it is not a good basis on which to base a relationship. It was blatant and obvious at times, very subtle and almost self induced at others. But I lived a life where I didn't respect myself and the relationships I formed were based on that. Not healthy.

My older children watched and unknowingly (I believe) treated me in the same way. A lot of their teen years were rough to endure. But was it worse because of the way I felt about myself and my relationships that they saw and emulated, were based on that feeling?

Disrespect is something that can be volleyed back and forth between the players. It's hard to respect someone who doesn't respect you. Where it starts and ends becomes illusive. I was not my best self when I raised my older children. I was becoming better, as the years went by ... but I wasn't there yet.

But now ... I like the person that I have grown into. I believe that I also treat My Youngest with respect. It is a two way street. This is something that I wish that I could have given my older children as they were entering their teen years. This foundation.

I don't know where the years will take us. But I know that no matter where things go, we will come back to this. I know this without a doubt.

These words are only the tip of the iceberg. But I like this story the best out of all the tales I have to tell this morning. It's my 'feel good' story of the day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Sense of Humor Has Returned

I vented my frustrations yesterday morning. By the time I walked out the door, I was back on track. I had a plan of attack. The day, and what I must accomplish was set out before me. I took one step forward and momentum took care of the rest.

Other than getting to school and attacking my books with a vengeance, the next best thing that I did was run out and buy that 'much needed accessory' for our group formation dance.

First - I found the above mentioned item on the Internet first thing in the morning. So when I called the store to put a hold on it, I had an actual name for it.

I made this 'emergency phone call' in the coffee room at school. I have made one other phone call from school (to the police, the morning of our fire in the playhouse). I always have my phone on vibrate - just in case there is an emergency at the school and My Youngest needs me (he hasn't). Other than that, my phone is idle. I never use it. It's in my in-case-of-emergency-only means of communication.

I walked into the coffee room and spotted a guy sitting at the table and wondered if I should make this call where no one could hear me. But I talked myself out of it - it's a gold lame sash for heavens sake. Nothing personal about that.

My end of the conversation sounded something like this:

"Do you have a gold lame shiny sash? .... Someone told me that the only one left in your store is right by the front till ... I really need it - can you put a hold on it for me?"

They replied that they could only hold it to the end of the day. My day was 'booked' from the moment I was on the phone until 9:00 last night so in my frantic excitement of knowing that this much needed item was available as we spoke, I ended the conversation with "I'll be right there."

I walked out of the coffee room thinking that I sounded like such a 'girly-girl' ... asking for this gold shiny sash ... needing it so badly ... it was so important that I was willing to drop everything and run out that very moment to buy it. I took half a second to wonder if I should explain this inane conversation to the guy sitting at the table. I never make calls like this - let alone at school ... with an audience. He didn't know me from Adam and I'm quite sure that he couldn't care less. Our paths would probably never cross again. I left it at that.

15 minutes later, I was back at school with the gold lame sash tossed carelessly in my trunk. I know where it is and I can grab it when I need it. "Back to the books!"

I thought my story ended there. Happy ending and all. But I don't think that it did.

A few hours later, I sat down at the last spot available for the "Thought Patterns ..." class. It was beside some guy, right at the front of a very small class room. I could reach out and touch the teacher. I was so uncomfortable with the front row seat, I thought of little else.

Until ... through the course of our group discussions (we were talking about eavesdropping on conversations), this guy sitting beside me mentioned overhearing conversations that people have on their cell phones in the coffee room. I took a quick intake of breath and thought "He's 'the guy' ... he heard the 'gold lame shiny sash' conversation that I can't believe that I had" ...

Me. An almost 50 year old. Sounding like some young thing all ga-ga about some shiny sash. "I need it! I'll be right there!"

I now feel the need to explain myself. Or will I just carry on like I do this every day and let him wonder about the spinny-graying-brunette that crossed his path yesterday?

As I retold this story ... I laughed. I laughed a lot. Laughter is like oxygen for my soul.

As my evening unfolded and I spoke about the dramas of the day, they came off sounding like that out of a sitcom. Rather inane. In the whole scheme of things, many of our day-to-day crisises are just that. Something we can laugh about when we remove ourselves from the situation.

I'm back. And so is my sense of humor.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Not Funny Any More

I've really tried to retain a sense of humor and a positive attitude about all that I am juggling in my life. But I'm not laughing right now.

When you are on the edge, it really takes very little to push you over. Last nights group dance lesson did it.

Not only did I not make the time to pick up the 'one final accessory' I needed for that costume (I honestly tried) ... but my feet hurt the moment I put on my shoes ... and I was 'out of my groove' right from the moment I walked in the door.

Then, the new top hats that we got for our routine were ready for us last night. We've been practising with hats that slip on and off your head easily. These new ones are felt lined and offer resistance, my hair was all over the place and I had the hat on sideways a good portion of the time. The hat was not working for me last night.

But, I trudged along.

Then ... the words I didn't want to hear. "Who's not available this Saturday at noon?" Extra lessons. Boy, do I need them! But, Saturday is the day I devote to my book keeping work in the hopes of taking Sunday off. I'll go. I'll do my books before and after. But I'm losing my sense of fun right now.

Today, I may have to take time out of my school day to pick up this 'needed accessory'. I found it on their Internet store and the price tag woke me up this morning. I heard the beginning (but not the end) of a conversation about the cost of the hats ... I think I owe more money there too.

I have my private dance lesson tonight. I wish I could just cancel it and wait for a day where I didn't feel so grouchy.

Oh well, on the bright side ... I start a new class at school today "Thought Patterns for a Successful Career." It is in a classroom setting and I will be around people for 2 hours this afternoon. If ever there was a day where I needed to be reminded of positive thought patterns, today is it.

I'm sure I'll be laughing about all of this before the day is over. It's all I can do (except scream, perhaps).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Going With the Flow

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans" is a quote that rings true. Every day.

Last Christmas, Second Son asked me to add a line to our family's annual Christmas Poem. He wanted to announce his intentions to buy a house within the next year. I think part of his intent was to have equal time in the poem (his verse was two lines short of everyone else's). But I believe that putting his objective out there for the world to see, instilled a desire to make that goal become reality before the year ended.

A few months after he made that affirmation to himself and the world, he broke a bone in his hand. Because the physical demands of his work requires the use of that hand, he was instantly unemployed. Compensation kicked in and paid him enough to pay his bills, but little else.

He was told it would take 6 weeks to heal. But it didn't heal properly and he ended up being off of work for about 3 months.

Before he broke that bone, he had just started saving to pay his hefty tax bill which was looming. His compensation cheques certainly didn't allow leeway for this necessity. So when tax time came, he talked to the Tax People, to make arrangements to pay the amount owing as soon as he was able.

When he was finally able to return to work, work had slowed down. Work was there, but not as plentiful as it had been a year ago during our housing boom. He continued to work as if there was another job waiting for him, even if there wasn't. Despite the fact that there was not a lot of work, he got the work that was available ... because he quickly finished what he could. And was ready, willing and able to work on the jobs as they came up.

Eventually, he got the Tax People paid off and in the midst of his final payments to them he was working on fulfilling that goal that he had set for himself last December. He really wanted to be a home owner before the year was done.

He talked to a lot of people. He investigated the options that he had. He started looking. And last night, he announced to 'the world' ... that his dream had come true. He takes possession December 1st.

Is it the house of his dreams? Not yet. It will be a work in progress - something that he's talked about wanting to do since his first job. A 'fixer-upper' is all he ever hoped for. And that, he got (and then some).

Despite all odds, he has accomplished what he set out to do not quite one year ago.

This got me thinking about My Oldest ...

Alot of My First Son's hopes and dreams have recently been upended, as his life headed in a direction that he hadn't expected on taking. I heard his despair as he talked about lost dreams. I quietly suggested that he not give up his dreams. Change them, perhaps ... but never give up on them.

Lately, First Son has been talking about those revised dreams. There is a little bit of bitter sweetness about it right now. But it is early in the game.

I believe my children are resilient. I have been marvelling at their ability to pick up and carry on. I feel their hurt, but I see their inner strength - that drive that has got them to where they are today.

We rarely get to take the straight and narrow path to our dreams. A person wouldn't appreciate it, if you could. When life throws you curve balls, you have to alter your plans and shift your dreams. Chances are, those detours are leading to you to 'the place' you were meant to be all along.

Keep making those plans ... but expect life to happen. And go with the flow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Regaining Control

I hate when too many things in my life feel like they are spinning out of control.

Lately, I have felt too many things slipping out of my hands. I keep blaming lack of time ... but I'm the only one who has placed too many burdens on myself. I am the one who is ultimately in control of the choices I make.

Work. It is a work ethic that I grew up watching, living and breathing. When there is work to be done ... do it. So I do. Yes, the pile is growing daily. I work through a box and get two more. I work through those two boxes and get another box and three more files to work on. Then there are the nine boxes in the kitchen just won't go away.

I talked to my 'boss' yesterday and told her that I can't keep this pace up. I explained that I realized that they aren't placing the pressure on me. I'm doing it myself. She whole heartedly agreed and told me to just take the time I need, when I need it. They know I will get the work done. But what did she do at the end of the day? She brought me another armload of work on top of what she had dropped off that morning.

I worked three hours on one file last night and called it a day. I still had time in the evening to take care of a few household tasks and time to sit and finish watching a movie with Kurt before he went to bed.

If I put a time limit on how much I do, will that work? If I put in more hours during the week, will I feel okay about taking a part (or an entire??) weekend off?

When the work doesn't end, where is the limit?

This overwhelming feeling is seeping into the rest of my life. I look at the house, errands, things that must be done and I whimper inside.

But this past weekend, I did one thing. I took care of the 'outside work' that needed to be tended before winter settles in. It took two hours. But simply putting that onerous task on my 'done' list energized me. Suddenly, I had more energy than before.

The past few evenings, I've done 'small stuff' around the house so that I don't have to worry about it the next morning. Those pesky little chores add to the clutter in my mind and I like keeping the 'counter top in my mind' free and clear of excess.

I woke up this morning with a minimal amount of tasks to tend. I can still see my book keeping work, from my peripheral view as I sit here and type.

At school, I'm winding up one more course and should be able to write an exam within a weeks time and get yet another course behind me. I'm wading through a course on 'Grammar Essentials for Business Writing' at the same time. Thankfully my exam dates will be staggered. I love the feeling that I have at school. A commitment of 20 hours per week. No evenings or weekends. Nothing comes 'home' with me. I have time to do all of my school work and studying within the confines of those time limits. It is perfect.

That is the pitfall of working from home. It lives with you. It stares you in the face and haunts you when you need to take some time off.

I believe that I need to make an office space within my home. I need to separate life from work. I need to draw some boundaries. I need to regain control.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Most Perfect Weekend

Over the course of the past 3 days, I had a chance to just 'be' ... with each of my sons.

An impromptu lunch on Friday with Middle Son was just the tonic I needed to get through a day of working-at-home. I'm so frustrated and overwhelmed that I could cry. I was hungry to boot. So on a whim, I picked up the phone and called Second Son. It just so happened that he had stopped for a lunch break and was 5 minutes away at the time. I vented, we ate, we visited. It was exactly what I needed. I came home and worked with a vengeance that I didn't have before I stopped. Fueled with food and a good one-on-one visit with my son, I was raring to go again.

Friday night with Kurt was idyllic. Time to just wander through life and 'kill time' ... together. We haven't had many moments like this lately. It grounded both of us again. Living with me when I am overwhelmed is not an enjoyable place to be. So having time to just stop and smell the roses (or walk through a mall) was perfect.

Last night, Number 1 son came for supper. He walked in the door with a smile. A smile that I haven't seen for a while. We had a good chance to visit, enjoy the happiness that he was feeling, talk a little deeper ... and talk about some of the 'roller coaster' stuff that is his life right now. This is all new for us. We missed 'knowing each other' while he was growing up. This is small ... but it is big. We are talking a lot now. I can't undo the past. But we can go forward from here.

As I turned off the lights around the house last night and reflected on the weekend, I didn't even think about the overwhelming moments of 'work'. I thought about my family. I have a good life. I have my little family at arms reach.

At one point in our conversation last night, the question "What is love?" was posed. At the end of the weekend, my heart was full to overflowing. Completely and totally fulfilled with memories of my weekend and my 3 sons. And I thought "This is love ..."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Exceeding Capacity

I'm on overload.

Moments ago, I finally finished the book keeping that I thought I would be able to complete yesterday. A day and a half of work is better than 2 days. But I need to wake up one morning and know that I have time to breathe.

I'm keeping on top of other things. Sort of. I just have no idea what I'm forgetting ...

It was my sister's birthday on Friday. Not only did I not have a card in the mail ... I had completely and utterly forgotten about it. It wasn't even in the back of my mind. I would have never remembered that I had forgotten, had my mom not reminded me.

This is not the only thing I've forgotten. Some friends and I got together last month. One of the main reasons for our visit was to celebrate the 50th birthday of one friend. Though I had bought a card and made a cake to bring along well in advance of our planned get together ... when the actual date rolled around, I forgot to bring them along. I would have never remembered, had my other friend brought out a gift. But at least that time, I had remembered at one point.

My dance lesson last week was a 'symptom' of too much in my brain (I couldn't speak or dance, let alone do both of them at the same time).

I write lists and that helps immensely. But I have lost track of the days. A few weeks ago I wrote something down, that needed to be done on 'October 6th'. I read it, I wrote it and thought I had a week before October 6th arrived. Had someone not called and asked about what we needed to bring on on the 6th (which happened to be the very next day), the 6th would have come and gone and I would have been none the wiser.

I guess I could save a lot of time and money by just 'forgetting things'. Think of all the cards I wouldn't have to buy or food to bring along ... if I just forget the date or occasion all together.

I have issued an invitation to my family for supper tonight. I hope someone replies soon ... or I may forget to cook it.

My brain is just too full. I guess this is my body's way of dealing with the excess.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Killing Time

Last night, Kurt and I did something that we rarely (if ever) do. We leisurely wandered through some stores in our nearby mall ... and looked. At one point, a store clerk asked if we needed any help. When I told him that we were just looking, he replied, "Ah, killing time are you?"

My heart lurched. I thought 'I don't have time to kill! What are we doing?' Then I took a breath and relaxed with the idea.

I used to have 'time to kill'. I used to use those shopping trips with one of my young sons in tow, as a diversion or escape from a home I didn't want to rush home to. I used to spend money frivolously as I 'filled the void' within, on those trips. We used to go to the mall to cool off on hot, hot summer days (before we had air conditioning in our home). Going to the mall used to be our entertainment.

As we walked through various stores, it was like walking down memory lane.

The pet store reminded me of the 'rodent phase' that Number 1 & 2 sons each went through. Hamsters and gophers. Yes, they each captured a gopher at different stages of their youth and brought it home as a pet ... one of them even managed to live inside (word of caution - gophers can and do escape from hamster cages). Second son took the quest for pets to a higher level. He tried out fish, iguanas, a frog, several attempts at the 'rodent family' ... he is also responsible for the last 2 cats we acquired and is presently going through a dog phase.

Trips to the pet store were a part of growing up for my older sons. I was filled with angst as we used to walk through those aisles, knowing that the inevitable "Can we get a _____?" was soon to follow.

Last night? Kurt enjoyed the pet store and had memories of when we used to look at the fish. He had a curiosity about the pets ... but didn't ask for a thing. I relaxed and enjoyed the scenery and appreciated the contrast between my older and younger sons.

We then walked through (what used to be) a Radio Shack type of store. This was the store that enamoured Number 1 son. He had a fascination with remote control trucks. He coveted those trucks, wished for, saved and wanted them more than anything. I remember standing and staring at those trucks with him and feeling the ache within him as he left the store empty handed. Number 2 son also went through that phase, but not with the same passion. Kurt glanced at them ... stopped for a minute ... and kept on looking at other things.

We glanced at a 'fortune telling machine'. For twenty five cents, this little coin swallowing machine would answer 'yes' or 'no' to any question you posed. We passed on by. Then we saw a photo booth ... Kurt said "I can't remember the last time we had a picture taken" ... we kept on walking and eventually I remembered when it was. This past summer, when we were on vacation in Calgary.

We zipped into a store that had some jewelery that I would have considered buying (glitter and big, showy jewelery is a 'must' for the showcase). Kurt patiently waited for me as a little girl manhandled all of the jewelery, with little or no supervision ... I was quietly grateful that my kids never acted like this. And we (again) left the store empty handed.

Eventually, we entered the store that is a part of our regularly scheduled life. Walmart. Walmart is the store where we go when we need almost anything. Walmart is where I run to, when I'm running errands. Walmart is what I will think of, when I think of Kurt's growing up years. I buy what has to be bought ... he looks in the toy and electronic aisles ... and then (more often than not), we buy junk food and a movie.

We came home and each did our thing for a while. At the end of the evening, we sat down and watched 'Because of Winn Dixie' together. It's a movie about a dog. Kurt and I are not dog lovers, but I love a good love story between a child and their dog. This movie seemed to fit the moment. Kurt begrudgingly sat down with me, reminding me "I'm not a dog person" ... but we each enjoyed the story of this special dog that smiled and was the best friend of a lonely little girl. A love story.

Yes ... we killed some time last night. But even so, it was time well spent. Who knew what memories would come rushing to the surface when I took a few hours to slow down and amble through the aisles of our local mall? And in the process, we made a few new ones.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Too Much In My Mind

I knew my mind was busy, but it didn't really hit home until my dance lesson last night.

My head has been so wrapped up in the dance world lately. And it really came to a head, as I muddled my way through my lesson.

I know that I have so far to go in my routines before they are honed to a place they should be, to perform in a showcase. Instead of actually practising, I have been running through things in my mind. All the different things that I think that I should be worrying about.

Then there is the costuming. I've already written too much about that. But on Wednesday, I wore what I will be wearing for my costume in our group dance. I felt better on the dance floor and I thought maybe I was 'living up to' the costume? Or maybe it was the fact that I actually practised before I went to my lesson (I wouldn't realize that until my fiasco of a lesson last night).

Last night, I wore the pants that I will be wearing for one of my routines. I dressed myself up a little. There was a dance at the studio after my private lesson and I had a 'back up' Hallowe'en costume with me that would utilize what I had worn for my lesson. I thought that maybe the clothes would help me focus on my dancing and make me perform like I knew what I was doing.

Not.

First of all ... I (apparently) couldn't slow down. I thought I was. But I wasn't. Thankfully my dance instructor has a sense of humor and he made light of it, but it had to be frustrating beyond words for him to try to put my brakes on.

Then, came the dancing. I was so worried about the technical things that I should know by now, that I was messing up the simplest of things. Yes, I should be concerned. But did I really need to waste my instructors time with my ineptness? Why don't I just practise at home? I could concentrate on one thing at a time and take a little of that with me to my lesson.

Oh, we laughed. A lot. But after all was said and done, all I could think was: I'm sure (my instructor) has better ways to spend his time.

From my lesson, we went straight into a few group classes and then the group class melded right into the dance (one of my partners didn't realize that the dance had begun and we were halfway into the dance by then). It felt like one long dance lesson.

My head had no more room for information. My feet were beyond sore (they are still throbbing this morning).

No 'morning after' fuzzies from last night. I'm frustrated with myself. Time to stop worrying about what I'm wearing and start focusing on what I'm doing. Practise!!

Once again, I woke up with a head full of thoughts. I will be at home, doing book keeping today (I've fulfilled my school hour requirements for the week). My early morning dreams were based on how I can accomplish the task set out before me today. And finish the job that I've been working at (for almost 3 weeks). Then ... I have another task to work on, as soon as I rid myself of this one. Backlog. Lots of it.

Yikes.

What have I gotten myself into? Why can't I catch up? Why does every little task feel like too much?

I think that is why I've let my thoughts wander to dancing a lot lately. It is my happy place. No matter how inept I may be, I have fun. The laughter erases so much of the chaos in my mind. But the chaos in my mind is not helping me on the dance floor.

Maybe today, I can empty my house and brain of this monumental book keeping task that has been haunting me for far too long.

I need to clear out the clutter in my brain. I need to clear out the clutter in my house. I need to clear out the chaos. Period.

Is that too much to hope for in one day?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dreams Do Make Wishes Come True

"Make it your intention to look at everything you like and say to yourself, 'I can afford that. I can buy that.' You will shift your thinking and begin to feel better about money." - The Secret

I read these things and internalize them yet ... even to me, these words sound just a little bit hokey.

But then ... I look at my life.

Financially, my life is rather idyllic. There is absolutely no reason that it should be (okay, working definitely helps the situation). But I am going to school and surviving on what the Student Loan Programs says is sufficient (most people disagree). And we are living comfortably.

Granted, our grocery bill has been slashed to a mere fraction of what it used to be. And I feel busier than ever, so there isn't a lot of spare time to go around spending money. But it is the little every day miracles that keep me believing in 'The Secret's' premise.

Yesterday I blogged about my wish for a fairy godmother to come and grant me enough 'magic' to deal with my lack of costuming for the upcoming dance showcase. And yes ... that pixie dust was sprinkled on me once again.

It started, by looking in my closet to see if I had any clothes that could be used for a Hallowe'en costume. I have a few occasions where I could use a costume and I just can't see spending money on one. It is often amazing what one can come up with when you just look around. So ... I opened my closet.

As I sifted through the clothes-less-worn, I stumbled upon a glittery red halter top which would be ideal for a top for one of my dance costumes. I had absolutely no clue where the top came from. It wasn't mine ... unless I bought it and put it aside for a rainy day. But I just don't do things like that (I found out later in the day, that my fashionable mother gave it to me after she decided that she didn't have a use for it).

Then, I stumbled across my 'blasted red ballgown'. And ... like Cinderella's slipper, I thought I would just try it on. I have avoided this because it just isn't good for one's ego to have items of clothing go no farther than your thighs. I didn't need that slap of reality. I've come to terms with the new-sized-me. But I don't dwell in the past where I used to fit comfortably into a smaller size.

I stepped into the gown and wiggled into it (even 10 pounds ago, I had to squeeze and squirm my way into the too-small-opening). And it fit!

Granted, it looked better on me 10 pounds ago. But ... in a pinch, I could wear it.

I wished aloud yesterday morning ... and by supper time, my invisible fairy godmother had waved her magic wand and I had 2 costumes that I could wear to the ball!

Fast forward to our group formation class at the dance studio last night. Our instructor tossed the idea out, that he would like to see us continue to add onto and hone this routine after the dance showcase ... so that we could 'take it on the road' and perform it in Quebec in February.

Quebec in February isn't everyone's dream. But I've had one wish when it comes to dancing. And it is to be able to go to just one competition. Just once. If a group of 10 of us went, it would cut costs substantially and make it something worth considering. I came home and did some sleuthing (to find the 'where' and 'when' of it all) ... and it could be possible. It's not completely out of the realm of my reality.

I reread 'The Secret' quote from yesterday (you may need to reread it by now - it is at the top of todays blog) ... and I went to sleep last night believing in fairytale endings.

Yes, some days I do feel like Cinderella. But better. I don't need a prince to ride into my life on his white steed and whisk me away to a better life. I'm already living it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nightmare!

I woke up realizing 'it was only a dream' ... and I was so relieved.

It was one of those dreams. You are in the middle of it and you can't get out. You can't undo what's been done. You can only move forward. Then it crescendos ... the tension is at an all time high. And you wake up.

The dream?

It was the Dance Showcase Day. I had a house full of company. My hair was in need of a color and I hadn't had time. The Showcase Hour was near and my hair looked like it does every day (my bad hair days have become barely tolerable hair days). I couldn't believe that I hadn't made the time to take care of this one small thing.

Then ... the soup boiled over (it was a dream ... so in it, I was making soup). I was standing beside my brother in law and I started swearing a blue streak (I don't swear). I couldn't stop.

Then I woke up. It was 'only' a dream.

Showcase Day. The day that I lose myself in the ballroom dance world. It's a 'princess-for-a-day' kind of feeling. It's magical.

I do untypical things ... like worry about my hair, nails, make up, jewelry and clothes. By the time the day arrives, I'm so sick of fretting about such petty little things that I'm driving myself crazy.

This year, I really should simply worry about my dance routines. We are 24 days away from Showcase Day and my feet just barely know what they are doing. My arms are confused at times. My technique is simply not there. Spotting? What's that?

I'm a 'big girl now' and I've outgrown the ballgown that just barely fit 10 pounds ago. So I'm scrambling for costumes. I'm forced to go to the mall and shop. I hate shopping. I've made three trips thus far (four, if you count the time I raced through our neighborhood mall when I went to buy groceries). Two of those trips involved a blouse which I bought and then returned.

Apparently, I will be wearing a pair of my own dressy pants (that are a size too small for me). I have visions of the seams not taking the pressure and having a 'costume malfunction' of epic proportions. EEEEK! The owner of the studio described a top that would go with these too-small-pants. A top that is just a little bit daring (completely open down the front, but the 'folds' keep you covered).

I've been scouring the Sears catalogue just hoping that something will jump out at me. But it's not happening. I need a fairy godmother to waft down from the skies above, sprinkle her pixie dust and transform me (except I need three costumes in total please). It is a fairytale kind of day, after all.

See why I'm having nightmares??

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Holiday For My Mind

Yesterday, I reprioritized the day. It was a holiday so ... I put my want-to-do items ahead of my need-to-do's in the invisible list-of-things-to-do-in-my-mind.

It was wonderful!

I wrote, I did my puzzles, I watched some taped TV programs, I called people, I read ... and I relaxed.

The wonder of it all, is that I would do something on my fun-list-of-things-to-do ... then look at the clock. Then I would marvel at all the time I still had left in the day. I still had time to work ... but later.

By 3 o'clock in the afternoon, all of my fun wishes for the day had been acted upon. So ... I opened 'Pandora's Box'. The box of book keeping work that had yet to be opened.

The things that came out of that box were frightening. A file that was missing ... a journal entry book that I had wanted to have a look at ... many miscellaneous items ... and a huge pile of things-I've-never-done-before-in-my-life.

I puttered with the work that spewed out before me. For 3 hours. 2 of which, I was thinking "am I done yet??" Finally, I piled the papers back where I had found them and closed the dreaded box.

Back to relaxing.

One more task found my way to me before I closed my eyes for the night. A job that I could start and (almost) finish. A job that gave me some satisfaction because it is in the very end stages. It is something I know how to do and feel proficient at. After 3 hours of wading through papers, trying to make sense of things and decrease the overwhelming load ... it felt good to do something that had a finish line.

Yesterday slowed me down. It was a wonderful feeling. The only problem is ... I have lost my momentum. I want to keep moving at this relaxed pace.

The act of slowing down and relaxing was great. But I need to get moving again. Thank goodness it is already Tuesday!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thoughts of Gratitude

Gratitude is something that I live and breathe every day of the year. Unconsciously, I whisper ''thank you'' aloud on a regular basis.

The ability to be sitting here at my computer alone provides a chapter full of words of thanks. The ability to sit, read, write, communicate with family and friends that span the continent ... at any time of the day or night. My health and the good health of my family, which makes it easy to have the energy to focus on other things. My family, which is a phone call, an email or one 'SOS' away. My friends - which I may not see on a regular basis ... but I know that they are there. My home - that provides shelter from not only the weather, but is my oasis in the storm. It is a place I love being, coming home to, being confined to and inviting the people of my life into.

That's all 'old news'. That is the stuff that I am eternally grateful for every single breath of every single day. On this Thanksgiving Day, I'm grateful for the adversities in my life.

Without the challenges that I had along the way, I shudder to think where I may be right now. What I fear, is that I would be in a place where life's simple gifts weren't something that I appreciated.

I've had to climb out of a few valleys that felt overwhelming at the time. The last battle was one that was starting to overtake me. But I got out. I tossed a life-line to people I trusted ... and they walked with me through the darkness.

They couldn't do anything for me. But they supported me, listened to me, were there for me and I trusted them with my innermost thoughts. I had to do the work alone. But I had family and friends at my side.

Enduring the 'storms' of life changed me. I am a better person for living the life that I have led. But most importantly ... I am hoping that my children will walk in my footsteps when adversity comes there way.

Being the parent of adult children is a wonderful place to be. I believe that I am a better parent now, than I was 'then'. Back in the days of my children's youth, one long bear-hug (to assure them that I was there for them) would have helped to keep their darkest fears at bay. But many times, I wasn't there for them. I was too busy growing up and climbing out of the hills and valleys of my life at that time.

As a mother to my adult sons, I feel stronger. I am here now. I can empathize, listen and feel some of what they feel. I can't do the work for them ... but I can walk along with them. They are not alone.

I am championing for my children as they walk the rough paths of life. And when I see them stand up tall, in the face of adversity ... take the road less travelled ... the road that is an uphill battle and tough to walk ... I am proud and happy for them beyond words.

It's a small thing, but maybe one thing that they did learn from me is stand up and endure the challenges of life. Because you just don't know what is around the next corner.

It's hard to be grateful for life's adversities when you are in the thick of them. You have to believe that if you work through those times and strive to build a life where you won't repeat the mistakes of your past ... you will one day look back at these dark days and say "Thank you."

You will be grateful. One day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Horoscope That I Deserve

My horoscope for the week ahead:

"Those who usually praise you might be less attentive than usual. It's an opportunity to look within. Could this be the result of some strange opinion you've formed about yourself? A change in the way you see yourself results in a change in the way others see you. Personal triumphs precede public victories."

After Friday's blog where I 'tooted my own horn', by including some of the comments that I had received throughout the day ... I just laughed when I read that horoscope.

After I wrote that blog, I went back to it and was going to delete the quotes I included. I didn't have the energy to reword it and I thought that it sort of 'fit' with the back story. So I left it as it was.

So I am grateful that those who usually praise me will not be so attentive this week. Yes ... I need to look within and not feel so needy.

The strange opinion I've formed about myself? For the most part, I think 'I'm okay' ... that is rather strange, isn't it?

Personal triumphs over public victories? I'll take that any day.

And so the next week of my life begins ... what would I do without that weekly horoscope to guide my way?

Goal Setting

My mom tells me that she used to go to bed and map out the next day in her mind. Setting goals ... making an agenda ... these are the thoughts that she used to go to sleep with.

Now that her life has slowed down, there would be a variation of what she will accomplish 'tomorrow'. But I can imagine her trying to fill her last conscious moments of the day with pleasant thoughts.

My dad was a hard worker. I don't know the inner workings of how he thought, but from what I remember and what I hear, I know that he was a goal setter as well.

Together, they were a good team - each of them ambitious and hard working. Things got done.

As I constantly set goals for myself, I hope that I have inherited that trait from my parents.

I've committed myself to many things this past while. I've been overwhelmed and overloaded.

I got selfish this weekend and stayed home to try and accomplish some work-goals as well as make time for rest, relaxation and time with Kurt.

I had the pleasure of letting yesterday unfold in a way that was quite different than the 'Plan A', that I had in mind.

My plan was to put in a full day of work. I also had a smattering of errands to run on the opposite side of the city, so I checked out the closing times of the stores involved and decided 4:15 would be the time that I would have to put work aside and tend to life.

Just as my day got started, a friend who was in the neighborhood called and had time to drop by for a visit. A slight variation in my plans ... but I went with the flow and thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

The rest of the day unfolded according to plan and I was home from my errand-running with supper in hand and had 'booked' the time with Kurt to sit down and finish watching a movie.

Ahhh ... the good life.

Exhaustion set in early. I simply couldn't function or keep my eyes open by 8:00. So I went to bed.

This morning, my pre-waking thoughts were of the 'goals verses reality' theme. I set many, many goals. I achieve a lot of them ... but not all.

I never want to lose this drive. My goals may change as my life goes on ... but I do hope that my life always keeps me busy enough to go to sleep, excited about what the next day will bring.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Bad and The Good of Yesterday

Yesterday was truly a stand-out kind of day.

Oh ... it was a tough one to endure. The kids were out of school yesterday and I really, really had no tolerance for a day full of bickering and tattling. I laid down the law early in the day. No warnings, no Mrs. Nice Guy. Bam! "This is the way it's going to be and if you have trouble with that, leave the room and don't play." Not pretty. But for the most part, it worked.

I had a book keeping task that I really wanted to wind up that day and send at least one box of work home with its rightful owner.

I started the job as 12:30 pm. I stood at the kitchen table as I sorted, organized and added up the months invoices. I was so tired that I thought something must be physically wrong with me. But I convinced myself to just keep on moving forward and see how I felt after I got the first phase of the job done. Sure enough, once the enormity of the job was behind me, my energy level picked up and I finished what I started.

I had plans to go out to see a family member perform in a coffee shop last night. As the day wore on, I thought "I just can't do it." I had invited Number One and Two Sons to come along but, I was intent on going alone if they didn't want to join me.

As the day wore on, I was convinced that I would be backing out of my evening plans. But ... after my book keeping was done ... after the house was clean ... minutes after my last for the last child left ... the phone rang. Son #1 was up for supper and an evening out. So ... out we went.

Energy levels completely revived, I was going on a 'date' with my son!!

The evening was perfect. I picked the restaurant (I hate being responsible for that choice) and our meal was great. Whew! That pressure was relieved. Then we headed to the coffee shop where my cousin's son/girlfriend were performing. A coffee shop where the beverage of choice is 'anything coffee'. My son is not a coffee drinker and I felt his angst as he stood in front of the vast coffee menu. Eventually, he did find something to his liking and we went and joined my cousins.

It was nothing ... but it was everything. The music this couple makes together is thoroughly enjoyable. We did some light visiting with the family that was there and I was so relieved to see my son relaxed with the situation and appearing to enjoy himself. The evening was simply not something that I could ever imagined the two of us doing, not so long ago. It was a gift.

Added to that gift was an inbox full of incredibly encouraging words sprinkled generously throughout a 15 hour period of 'life as I was living it'. It was as if some unknown, cosmic connection knew that I needed a little help getting through the day. These are just a few of the words that I received as the day wore on:

(About my job resignation)
9:48 am "It has truly been a pleasure working with you over the years"
9:53 am "... she was described as valued, hard working, amazing, and a wonderful team member. She will certainly be missed"

(In regards to a blog I set up for our dance group to try and help us practice between lessons)
3:28 pm "What a genius you are!"

(From my cousin's wife, after we spent the evening enjoying the talents of their son)
12:27 am "You are such sweet person"

Wow. What a day. As our talented singer/song writer told us last night (about a song she wrote about 'black' and 'white'), you need to experience the bad parts of life to fully appreciate the good. She said it much more eloquently than that but you get the idea.

For me, the day was full of small 'black' moments. But it made the 'white' ever so much sweeter.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Internet Addiction

The Internet is down this morning. And I’m lost …

I had to actually turn on a TV to find out the temperature (thankfully the cable is working). My pre-waking thoughts were about a ‘YouTube’ video that I want to post on another blog that I have. No Internet = no YouTube … and no access to my blogs.

I can’t check in on the blogs I’m following. I have a few emails I want to send. There is a new TV series that I stumbled upon yesterday that I can watch on the TV channel’s website. But not this morning.

I grabbed a pen and paper and I thought that I would start to write my weekly letter to my mom. But then one of the kids sat down at the table to finish his breakfast and I didn’t feel like sharing the space.

So … I wandered over to the computer. I’ll write this now and post it when the Internet is working again. Sitting down and letting my early morning thoughts flow through my fingertips has become the norm for me.

This crazy world of technology has me hooked. I like it … but I don’t feel comfortable with my addiction.

Cell phones … I love them for emergency and convenience. But not as a sole means of contacting a person. The thing I hate about them is the fact that they demand too much attention. I prefer to leave a message for someone who isn’t home rather than interrupt someone who is out and about with a cell phone. The way I normally work around that, is to email those that are 'too connected' and let them get back to me at their convenience. Not this morning ...

The Internet came back up before I finished writing this blog. I immediately sent off a few emails, followed up on my pre-waking thoughts and added those YouTube videos to another blog, checked the temperature and cruised a few other Internet stops before I came back to finish this off.

This addiction is troubling. But ... I'm not hurting anyone. Or am I?? Maybe some face-to-face, one-on-one contact should replace the connection that I have through the Internet world. Then again, it all boils down to time and convenience. The Internet Connection allows me to connect with anyone at any time. I'm not forcing myself upon anyone. And that ... is my style.

I like putting my words 'out there' for people to read when it is convenient for them. I don't like forcing my presence on anyone.

I may not cure this addiction entirely. There is too much to be gained. But I will try not to panic when outside forces make me look for other ways to connect to the world when that tenuous Internet connection is broken.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Life of a Cat

As I have become the 'chosen one' by our cat ... I somehow feel honored.

Our cat took up sleeping on my bed after I started opening my door at night. Then suddenly, he stopped. I would find him in any one of his favorite sleeping spots in the morning ... but he stopped choosing me. As much of a bed hog that he is, for some reason I felt slighted.

Our cat is a very sociable one. He loves people, kids and activity. He's not one of those cats that hides in secluded spots when things get chaotic. He's grown up in a house full of kids and he's been known to slumber deeply in the midst of kids, noise and confusion. One time, one the kids piled toys up all around and on top of him while he slept. And he just kept on sleeping.

We have thwarted his escape attempts for the most part, this summer. Our friendly cat loves nothing more than to wander the neighborhood and come back when he chooses to do so. Our neighbor tells me that he often comes to call, when he is on the loose. He says hello, plays with their dog and moves on. I'd love to have a little 'kitty-cam' mounted on his forehead, so that I could see where he goes and what he does. I have a strong feeling that he has friends that he drops in on. I can just see him calling on his favorite people and animal friends in the neighborhood ...

He seems to get wound up by company. As we sit and visit in the kitchen, our cat will race through the house at top speed. He howls a little bit as well (in case we missed the blur of black fur as he speeds by). It's as if he is jealous and wants some of the attention.

Every time my mom comes to stay, he parks himself on top of her suitcase at some point. He is black, as is her suitcase. I think he thinks he's camouflaged and we can't see him as he spreads his cat hair and scent to mark his territory. He loves to warm up her bed and generally acts as the good will ambassador to our home.

Any sleep over guests I have, close their bedroom door at night. They have little desire to share their bed and peaceful nights sleep with my friendly ball of fur. Except my uncle. An animal lover at heart, he opened his door at night so that our cat could come and go as he pleased. I think our cat thought that was 'as it should be' and quite enjoyed the liberties he was able to take with that open door policy.

Our cat has no self esteem issues. He loves the people in our world and knows that they will love him back (and I think he thinks it's their loss, if they don't). He graces us with his company and lavishes us with his attention.

I think he loves it best when Kurt and I actually sit down together in the same room and watch a movie. He goes back and forth between us until we have both had the pleasure of loving him. Then he perches himself directly in the middle of us. Surrounded by his two favorite people in the world ... he is content.

I remind him often, that he is very lucky. I look longingly at him, as he lives in a home where he is adored and doted upon. He spends his days lounging about, hanging out with 'his people', eating and drinking whenever the spirit moves him and sitting at the window watching the world (and planning his route for his next escape attempt). He has a pretty good life.

Why am I so full of cat-thoughts this morning? Because I have become his 'chosen one', once more. He started sleeping at the foot of my bed a while ago. And it has become his nightly ritual. Again.

Why do I feel so blessed?

Being 'chosen' by a cat is one of life's greatest gifts. I think he knows this.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Today's Blog on 'Wordle'

Here's one way to look at my words as a piece of art:
(Check out http://www.wordle.net/create and create your own masterpiece)






It's Official

"It is after much thought and consideration that I am officially resigning from 'My Place of Employment' as of November 1, 2009.

I thank you for the opportunities that I was given during my employment. I am grateful for the experience, the friendships, the support and encouragement which I felt throughout my career with the 'My Employer'.

Thank you."


I just hit the 'Send' button and sent off my formal resignation via email.

This marks the end of a 21 3/4 year career. Granted, I've been holding on by a thread the past 11 years. Between my maternity leave, a year leave of absence, working Saturdays-only for 9 years and my final year leave of absence ... one could hardly say that I've had much more than a very tenuous connection to my place of employment.

The past year has been a year of knowing. I knew that if I returned, it would be under duress. It was nice to know I had the ability to go back to work, as a back up plan. But it wasn't my first choice.

My first choice, is continuing to work as I have been the past 11 years. I'm a self-motivated and self-propelled type of person. It has served me well.

So ... I'm taking another leap of faith. This leap doesn't come with a safety net.

Best Under Pressure

As I ran about this morning, tending to all of the small little jobs that aren't getting done regularly, now that I'm not home with a house full of kids all day ... I got thinking.

Why is it so much easier to keep on top of things, when there is so much else to do? What happens when a person slows down? Why does taking out the garbage become such a big deal?

Garbage used to be a no-brainer. I had kids in diapers. Where there are diapers, there is garbage that must be tended. Daily. As I threw out the smelly garbage, I just ran around the house and emptied all the other garbage at the same time. There's no sense in wasting a plastic bag ... I would fill it up. Garbage went out regularly. I didn't even think about it.

Cat litter. Our cat must think I've gone on strike. I used to go into the laundry room several times a day. Between gathering up what I may need from the deep freeze for lunches and snacks ... the eternal laundry ... and the never ending need to replenish our milk and toilet paper supply upstairs, I was in the laundry room many times a day. So ... the cat litter got cleaned. These days? I can go days without entering the laundry room. Some nights our cat starts howling a tune like he is really trying to tell us something. I think he's saying, "Would someone please clean my litter box??"

Recycling. There used to be so many empty milk jugs, soup cans and other miscellaneous recycling that piled up in the recycling spot right outside the door ... that emptying it was as natural as taking out the garbage. Now that I don't have dirty diapers in the (what used to be) dirty diaper garbage can (right beside the recycling one) ... I fill up both of them. Then, it's even a 'bigger' job and it gets put off. Crazy.

Cooking. I don't have to make lunch every day, for my preschool set. Yet ... cooking one good meal each Sunday for my family feels like an onerous task.

As I went to grab a Kleenex this morning, I looked up and was amazed to realize that I haven't needed to replace the Kleenex since my full time daycare load was decreased.

I haven't wiped a nose or changed a diaper for over a month. I quit taking out garbage, cleaning cat litter and doing laundry on a daily basis. I rarely cook ... we just forage to find something relatively healthy and balanced to fill our stomachs at supper time.

Yet ... I feel like I have less time on my hands than ever.

What is wrong with this picture?? I guess I need more to do ... I seem to work best under pressure.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Blank Monday

I logged into my blog this morning, to discover a completely blank entry for yesterday. I knew I did something kinda funky yesterday, as I tried to add some words. I double checked the blog but as far as I could see, nothing happened. Yet ... this morning. There it was. Nothing (the date, the time ... and nothing else).

The thoughts rambling through my head yesterday were far from nothing. Too much, perhaps. But never nothing.

First thought of the day:

"Another cloudy day" ... I don't mind cloudy days when I feel sunny inside. But I had talked to so many people recently that commented on the weather, their mood and how it affected their ability to cope. The dreary days seem to impact many people in a negative fashion. I wish I could wave my magical wand and grant inner sunny-ness to all those who suffer with gloom on those cloudy days.

Next thought:

"All I can think about is dancing!" The dance showcase is nearing and there is an electricity in the air at the dance studio. I've been listening to a lot of music lately. Singing, beating out a tune and dancing a few steps. The music within is plentiful (I think it helps with the sunny disposition on dreary days too). I also realized, that the dance studio is where I have the most contact with other adult beings these days. As I recall the conversations I have, most of them are within the walls of the studio. So I carry a small piece of the magic of the dance studio with me in between lessons. It's grand!

Then as the day went on:

I'm getting frustrated.

I thought I had a plan all mapped out for the month of October. A way to try and spread out my down time. Yet, five days into the month it was all going downhill.

School - I logged excess hours during the month of September. I'm a few weeks ahead of where I'm scheduled to be, in my studies. My marks are averaging in a range I feel good about. I'm putting in the time, effort and studying required and it's paying off.

So ... I thought I'd check to see if I can try to keep my hours at the school down to the minimum. I was told it was possible ... but not recommended.

I had planned on making the most of those few extra hours - to run around and tend to some of the 'girly stuff' (clothes, hair, jewelry) that needs to be tended for the dance showcase. But most of all, I planned to log in a lot of book keeping hours so that I could have more down-time during the evenings and weekends. Shot down.

I'm going to come at it from a different angle today. Talk to someone else and state my case. There has got to be a way!

Weekends - This past weekend was an ideal mix of work, play, family and alone time. If I could patent the recipe that was last weekend, I would. It was ideal.

Now ... a long weekend is pending. I was thrilled. Three entire days. I have outside work to tend to. I have a book keeping task that should be able to be wrapped up this weekend if I can work steadily at it. Kurt wants to go and see a movie. I even promised to cook a turkey supper for my family.

But ... it has been suggested that we try and make this Thanksgiving a 'family affair'. More than our own immediate family. Which requires giving up those 3 days.

Three days. Is it really too much to give up for the sake of family? No. But it just wasn't in my plans. Especially since I was told that I should still put in a full week of school despite the long weekend taking up an extra day.

So ... yesterday, I wrote nothing.

Today ... I shall try it all again.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It Looks Like It's Gonna Be Another One of Those Weeks ...

My horoscope for the week ahead:

"You can be an incredibly social creature when you want to be. But you also have the ability to devote hours upon hours alone in a dedicated and focused effort toward something you want. This is the mode you will often be in this week. Your motivated and intense style will help you to achieve a dearly held goal."

That said, I'm going to go back to my solo endeavors for the day. I got so busy with what was on my agenda, that I forgot to stop in and 'blog' this morning.

I'm making the most of my Sunday. It's going by all too quickly!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Illusion of Time

'The Secret' talks of how powerful your thinking is. If you think, believe and act like you have a shortage of money ... that shortage translated into you in life. And so (I believe), it is with time.

I had an entire day at my disposal yesterday. 24 hours in which to choose my own direction. Sure, I had goals. But most importantly I felt that I had an excessive amount of time to work with.

I played while I worked (the mindless task of doing statements is ever so much more fun when you turn on the music and sing and dance a little while you are doing it). At one point during the job, I could hold a conversation without affecting the speed in which I was working. The job took 4 hours to complete. But I had fun while I did it.

Grocery shopping has become my most dreaded chore. With my leftover time at the end of the statements, I got that trip to the grocery store taken care of. But what did I do to add a different dimension to that task? I decided to quickly check out the clothing stores at the mall. It is time to start thinking about my costumes and accessories for the upcoming dance showcase. It added a spark to the dreary task of filling the cupboards on a cool, cloudy and somewhat miserable day.

I like my weekend to start with a clean house, so I had my 'Friday chores' to work into the day. Once the kids came home from school, I knew I was limited as to what I could accomplish. So I thought that I may as well start cleaning when the kids were home and settled in. I can't begin to count the interruptions that I had, as I went about my cleaning. But eventually ... it got done.

By the time my weekend officially began at 6 pm last night, I felt that all of the must-do items on my eternal-to-do-list were done. And the best part? At no point in my day, did I feel like I was racing against the clock.

The clock and I are forever waging battles against each other. I race to try and accomplish "X" amount of things in "Y" amount of time. When I must be someplace, I leave the house as late as I possibly can so that I don't waste any time sitting around waiting for an appointment time. When we drive long distances, the timer in my mind is set the moment we back out of the driveway. How long will it take to get there?

How much work can I squeeze into a set amount of time? How fast can I get from "A" to "B"? How many errands can I run with the limited time that I have between one commitment and another? How much can I get done before my daycare kids go home for the day? How fast can I finish a course? How far can I push the limits so that I can accomplish as much as possible with the time that I have at my disposal?

My dance instructor calls me "Speedy" ... I carry my energy onto the dance floor (and takes a great amount of pleasure in trying to slow me down at times). Why do I feel that there is never enough time?? Why don't I slow down??

Well yesterday ... I did. I relaxed and let the day unfold in its own way, at its own pace. My heart slowed down ... I felt the music that I enveloped myself in ... I puttered the day away and climbed a few hills.

I didn't move mountains yesterday. The day seemed to go on forever as I slowed down and enjoyed the music of my life.

I need to carry the thought of 'excessive time' into the days ahead. Breathe and savor the moment. And trust that there are many more of those moments ahead ...