Saturday, January 30, 2010

The New Hair

I keep forgetting about my shocking new look until I happen upon a mirror. I shudder at the reality that is my hair now. Every single time I catch a glimpse of myself, I remind myself of this Looney Tunes sheepdog.

My hair feels like it falls in my face the same way as this sheepdog's hair does. And the hair color? I would say it's a pretty close match.

The dazed expression on his face? That's me ... stumbling through the dance moves that I'm supposed to know by now.

Just call me "Sam"...

"Sam" the Looney Tunes sheepdog

Friday, January 29, 2010

Into Each Life, a Little Snow Must Fall

Our Fair City has recently dug its way out of a 25 cm snowfall. The snow started Saturday and it snowed for two days. Saturday night, the wind picked up and as the new snow continued to fall, it created some beautiful snow drifts. At the onset of this snowfall, I could still see grass in my front yard. It now looks like a winter wonderland.

Great snowfalls unite the city. Even the neighbors who don't shovel their walks regularly, are forced to deal with snow. You look out your window and you see your community in action. Everyone is working together, doing their part in clearing the way.

Then there are the roads. I heard stories of cars getting stuck (I am grateful beyond words that I don't have my personal testament ... I have a miracle-car that navigated the storm without a hitch, but that's a whole other blog) as they simply couldn't navigate the drifts. Stories of the Good Samaritans that helped others out (granted, since there was only one rut in the road some were helping out of necessity ... otherwise they couldn't have passed).

My Middle Son returned from Mexico one day after 'The Great Snowfall of 2010'. His touchdown back to earth was a stark return to reality. He couldn't retrieve his truck from his farm due to the snow and drifts that had made passage impossible. Two shovels, five hours of digging, getting stuck and unstuck and then stuck again ... and pure perseverance eventually paid off. He loaded his quad onto his truck, headed for the city and then proceeded to smooth out the ruts on our residential street. My own personal Good Samaritan.

The crisis has passed. The roads are passable, buses are running and we are a mobile city again. Two days later, our city was up and running.

I thought of this massive amount of snow compared to the endless winters where there isn't any outstanding weather phenomenon to contend with. Just a relentless long and cold season. As it is with life ...

Sometimes we have 'natural disasters' in our lives. The big stuff. Sometimes you don't see it coming and all of a sudden you are in the middle of a 'blizzard' and overwhelmed at the idea of digging yourself out. You start ... simply by continuing to breathe. Then, you take a step.

There are great communities of people to help you shovel your way out. If only you reach out to them. If you take one step forward, chances are that you have a community of support to help you through the storm.

Sometimes you get blindsided by life. Akin to an aftershock after an earthquake. One would think that the crisis itself is bad enough, but it isn't. More loss and pain ... your new reality. It is tough to wake up to a brand new world. A world that isn't what you planned or expected. But you must continue to dig your way out of the rubble. Reaching out to your community and feeling them reach back helps. It doesn't heal all ... but knowing you aren't alone in the world makes a difference.

Then there are the 'winters' that are simply long and unrelenting. Life issues that simply don't go away after the crisis has passed. There are some sunny days in between the worrisome times, but it is still 'winter' in your heart. There isn't that satisfaction that comes from digging your way out of the 'blizzard' of life ... because it continues to snow. Every day. Then the cold arrives ...

There is a completely different kind of strength that it takes to deal with those long, cold 'winters' of life. A winter that doesn't necessarily end with the onset of spring ...

But spring does arrive. It brings hope, growth and a time of renewal. After a relentlessly cold and hard winter, one always needs hope. One continues to need their community. Even when the snow has melted, they still benefit from someone helping out with the rain that falls every day.

We all have some storms to endure. As I look around me, I know many that need a little help with the long, cold winter of their lives. It's time to grab my shovel and lend a helping hand ...

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I love my ruts. Every now and again I like to forge my way out of an old rut ... but it is in the quest to make a new one.

There is a lot of same-ness in my life. We've lived in the same house for over 15 years ... I've had the same car for 11 1/2 years ... I hold on tight to my friendships.

I've jumped out of the career-rut ever so gradually. I worked in the banking industry for 30 years. When I thought I wanted to try something else, I continued to work at the bank one day a week for 10 years (while I ran my daycare from home). Before I was ready to jump ship altogether, I took a year leave of absence. Just in case I changed my mind (I didn't).

There is my daycare. I started babysitting 11 years ago. Even as I attempt to find a new rut in my next career move, I continue to keep before and after school kids. I can't bring myself to try and sell off or give away all of the daycare paraphernalia around here. Just in case ...

I needed to replace my purse last night. When I found an exact replica of the purse that I already have, I was thrilled. It is the same with pants or shoes - if I find some that actually fit, if I can I will buy two pairs of them. And I definitely replace the worn out, with duplicates of what has worked for me in the past. New, but the same. That's me!

I don't move my furniture around ... my clothes have been around forever (though I recently went on quite a spending spree) ... my routines and rituals are a variance of the same old, same old. Then there is my hair.

Even though I spent the better part of the past two years trying to grow out an old hair cut, my son looked at an old picture of me and said "Your hair style never changes". What?! I've tried and I've tried to find a new look. More often than not, I'd go to the hairdresser with shiny new ideas. Then, I would walk out looking just like 'me'.

The 'Dorothy Hamil' look that I aimed for a few weeks ago has not been going well. I've gotten over the shock of the new reflection in the mirror, but what I see is a hair style that I don't love. I was willing to go with it because it will grow into something I like. I'm sure of it. But upon the advise of The Man Who Knows All when it comes to dancing and dance competitions, I'm losing the new (old) look.

This morning I am off to the most intense hair appointment of my life. My hairdresser has talked to The Man Who Knows All and he has told her his vision of what he would like my hair to look like. This is so out of the norm, that my hairdresser called me yesterday and said "Are you okay with this?? Do you really want to do what he is suggesting?"

Scary words from a hairdresser.

I woke up at about 3:30 this morning. What should be at the top of my subconscious mind ... but my new hair.

I didn't break out into a sweat. But I didn't go back to sleep either (I'm sure that I dozed, but my brain never stopped thinking about my new look).

If I was going straight to the dance competition, that would be one thing. But I have to walk around in real life for two weeks. Two weeks where I can just feel what people will be thinking: "What is that old woman trying to prove?! Look at her hair!" I'm wondering if I can fashion a scarf &/or hat to sport in the real world for a while.

But then again, there is a chance that I may like it.

Change scares the socks off of me. This morning my feet are pretty chilly. But I'm moving on. It's time for a new rut.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I have far too many kind people in my life. They are gentle with their words, generous with their support and they listen to my banter ... far too much.

I could coast like this forever. I don't want to do that. I want and need to continue to push myself. You don't grow and learn if you don't venture out into new territory. I love that feeling of safety and security. But I'm stagnating at this level. It's time to push the bar.

Going back to school is a step in the right direction. I'm challenged and motivated. I've set goals for myself that I'm achieving. Yet, if I'm achieving them that easily ... maybe I should be striving for something more difficult.

Then there is dancing. It always comes back to dancing for me.

Preparing for this competition has been fun. I'm learning new things - small bits of information here and there. Nothing overwhelming. I don't want to say it's easy, because the simplest of things throw me completely off of my game when it comes to adding a small bit of proper technique onto something that I already know. But I knew I wasn't pushing my limits. Until Monday.

The owner of the dance studio offered several suggestions and pointers as we worked through the last part of the lesson. He is a very wise man - he sees all, knows all and feels all (from my perspective anyway) when it comes to dancing. I value his opinion and respect his knowledge.

My head was swimming as he suggested what to practice at home, where to hold my arms, how to move them, reminded me to breathe, relax my shoulders and so on and so forth.

He talked of the upcoming competition and the look he 'saw' on me (this involves wild and crazy ideas about my hair).

He checked over my new dance costume and honestly evaluated it. 'Yes' - it is too young for me. But ... 'Yes' we are going to use it anyway. Then he went on to suggesting ways to make this costume work. If he thinks it could work, I believe it will.

My head was swimming by the time I left my dance lesson. I believe that I walked out of the dance studio with the deer-in-the-headlights look. But after the dust settled, I was grateful for the time and energy that was spent on me during the last part of my lesson.

I know I'm not pushing myself at the dance studio. And I should be. As I prepare for this competition, I should be pushing the limits and daring to dance as I've never danced before. I was complacent - thinking that what I knew was good enough. It was safe. It was comfortable.

I need honest criticism in my life. And I received a very gentle dose of that during my Monday dance lesson. I didn't walk out of the studio laughing and full of the 'fun' that I usually feel. But that was okay. It was necessary.

This is a person that I gravitate towards when I want an honest answer. I have a few people in my life like that. I need that ...

My Middle Son has always had the knack of speaking honestly to me. He seems to have a detachment that allows him to see the full picture and communicate what he sees and feels. I respect his judgement and when he says something, I listen.

I need that honesty in my life. I quietly crave it. Sometimes I seek it out.

I'm okay with who I am ... but I know there is always room for improvement. Whether it's on the dance floor or simply being a good human being. I need a little honest criticism in my life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Daytime Heroes ... Reunited!

I was in heaven yesterday. Rosie was on Oprah ...

'The Rosie O'Donnell Show' and 'Oprah' were two staples in my life when I was home on maternity leave 11 1/2 years ago. Rosie made me laugh. Oprah made me think. Life was good. Life was very, very good.

Then Rosie wound up her show and I had absorbed all of the wisdom that I could absorb from Oprah for a while and we all parted ways.

I was thrilled when Rosie returned to daytime television on 'The View'. I enjoyed listening to her view on world events, her passion made me feel some of what she felt and I truly admired the fact that she stood for what she believed in. The world needs people like that.

Then I drifted back into Oprah's world for several seasons. Once again, I heard what I needed to hear. I was inspired, uplifted, motivated and a lot of positive changes in my life are a result of Oprah's show.

As I dove into a new life this fall (a life where I didn't have the time to be watching a lot of TV), I stopped taping 'Oprah'.

After watching yesterday's show, I realized just how much I missed my two favorite daytime TV hosts.

What I enjoy about Rosie, is the deepness that lies underneath her comedy. She was candid and honest about much-talked-about events of her life. There is far too much publicity about things-that-don't-matter in the lives of the rich and famous. I admired the way she spoke about some of the controversial events in a way that were honest, yet she didn't put anyone down in the retelling of the stories.

I was spellbound, as Rosie and Oprah bounced their words off of each other. The interview, the wording of the questions, the way one topic segued to the next, the ease they appeared to have with each other ... and the laughter. It is the laughter that always speaks to me the loudest.

My brother has a talent for putting words together in a most unique and special way. He is deep and introspective then ... whammo! He has you laughing. You laugh harder because a millisecond before that, you were close to tears. It's a talent. Rosie's made millions off of her humor. My brother has his own set of fans much closer to home. The ability to laugh through the tears is key to survival. At least in my world.

As the hour of Rosie on Oprah wound to a close, I realized what has been missing in my life recently. Thought provoking conversations.

My thoughts are too 'all about me' lately. People in my life have granted me a wide berth as I have tried to take on a few new challenges and spent all of my energy on coaxing myself forward. My conversations, my writing, my thoughts ... are too internal.

I love when I'm inspired and motivated by the world around me. It is truly the best way to live. Absorb the good around you, take an interest in the outside world and all of the people in it, learn from the bad stuff, absorb the good stuff, help when you can and say 'yes' to life.

I haven't done that in a while. I wish that Rosie and Oprah could team up together again and push me through this spot.

I just might have to do this on my own ... but in the mean time, I believe that I will tape the last part of Oprah's final season. I will learn what I can, while I can ... from one who has inspired me so much.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Say It! Believe It! Go For It!

I have never read 'The Secret' cover to cover. I had a daily calendar with quotes from 'The Secret' that I recycled and reread for a second year. The quotes from 'The Secret' are not all new ideas. I've heard various forms of the same way of thinking from other sources, over the years.

I have lived some of 'The Secrets' truths. I am a believer of many of their adages. What can you lose by believing, visualizing and talking about what you want to come true in your life?

Yesterday afternoon, I was talking to a friend. I told her (as I have told many others before her) that what I want, is a job with hour requirements and guidelines just like my school week. At school, I must attend 20 hours per week. I must work within the hours that the school is open, but how and when I put in those 20 hours is up to me. I love that flexibility!

As I uttered the words once more yesterday, I qualified my statement with one of the adages that I learned from 'The Secret'. You must visualize what you want in life. You must say it out loud. You must believe it. I have seen many of my dreams come true from following this exact philosophy.

Within a few hours, I received an email from this friend. She had been on an Internet site and found the job that I had just described. "Typist Required - Casual hours, advance notice on an ‘on call’ basis, normally during the hours of 9:30a.m. – 3:00p.m., Monday – Friday. Some of the job requirements it asked for were for Microsoft Office programs that I have just taken/just finishing at school.

Ask and you shall receive!

I submitted a resume with a cover letter last night. I don't know if I could find a way to make this fit into my schedule at the present time, but my true hope is that I can make enough of an impression that they will consider me for the future. Or ... if we could just find a way to make it work now, it would be perfect.

I am a believer.

Know what you want. Create a vivid picture of it in your mind. Visualize it, believe it, know that you deserve this, say it out loud. Tell the world ... because the world does listen. At least in my experience it does.

And really ... what do you have to lose?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Music That Touches Your Soul

I love when music speaks to me. It doesn't happen all of the time but every now and again there is a hauntingly beautiful piece of music that I just want to hear over and over again.

Last night, we went to see the movie 'Old Dogs' (I highly recommend it). I walked into the theatre thinking the movie was about dogs (it was a Disney movie after all). It seemed a logical presumption. I was wrong. But I'm not giving out any more hints about the movie. It's a light hearted story that tells itself.

I loved the music in the movie. At one point I actually grabbed my pen and paper and scribbled down a key phrase from the lyrics so I could go home and seek out one particular song on YouTube.

This morning, I woke up with that song in my head. I grabbed my glasses and raced to the computer to use my best detective skills to find this song.

It took a little while because the phrase that I had remembered was the title to another song altogether. So I was off on a wild goose chase.

Then I found it. 'The Song'. As I listened to it, I knew it was 'The Song' that had haunted me on two separate occasions years ago. I heard it once at a dance ... the next time at a dance at our own studio.

It didn't dawn on me to immediately ask the name of the song. Instead, I did my Google search (to no avail) and asked at my next dance lesson. The only words I remembered were "I can't take my eyes off of you" ... and I knew it was a waltz. Without enough clues enough to go on, I never did find the song.

When I heard it last night, I had no idea that this was the song that I had been seeking out years ago. When I found it this morning, it was like stumbling across a lost memory.

As it is, with most of the songs that I fall in love with ... it is a Viennese Waltz. Is the Viennese Waltz my favorite dance because of the dance ... or the music?

I adore the dreamy tempo of this song. It makes me want to waft across a dance floor:

I love when I stumble across something I've been searching for ... and forgotten that I've never found.

I wonder if that is what falling in love could be like?

Friday, January 22, 2010


I just finished watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy. As with so many television series, there is a theme that runs throughout the hour. As each individual deals with their own personal situation, there are many more characters that are living something parallel. There are words beyond the script that are communicated because each person is internalizing what it happening to another. They get it. They truly get it, because they can relate.

It all seems kind of hokey on TV. The hour is wrapped up nice and tidy with a start, a middle, an end and a moral wrapped up as each character has walked a similar path yet the results are different.

Then I looked at real life. The parallel theme isn't so hokey after all.

It seems that no matter what my friends or family go through, I take in the information and process it in a way that has me searching for parallels. I can't know what it is like to walk in another person's shoes, but I do my best to find something that I can relate to.

Every time I talk to one of my friends, it never matters who has 'the story' that is playing through their days. We each hear the other, turn it around in our minds and come out with the knowledge the other person gets it. It seems most of our conversations end with the feeling that it doesn't matter what one of us is going through ... the other person is/has gone through something similar and can relate. It tightens the bond of our friendship. The parallels. The understanding. The relating.

I don't do well with small talk. I find it exhausting to talk about things that don't matter for an entire conversation. I start to yawn, my thoughts drift, I feel an inner struggle going on as I crave to find something relate-able to focus on. The knee shaking conversations - where two people find a kindred thought and run with it -are what I remember. The parallels. Two minds tossing out thoughts, feelings and words ... the mutual feeling of being understood.

Yes, the parallels that are so often brought to light in a half hour comedy or an hour of drama on TV aren't as far fetched as they seem at first glance.

Life is so much richer when you find a kindred spirit. Someone who finds the parallels in their lives that make you feel understood.

Parallel lives are all around us. We just have to look for them.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Lazy Week

My mind is aflutter with things-that-really-don't-matter this morning.
  • I should have exercised. I didn't.
  • I need to look into getting a garment bag for my upcoming holiday. I haven't.
  • I should have done some work last night. I'll do it today.
  • I really don't love my 'new hair'. Oh well.
  • I need to come up with a 'tacky outfit' for the tacky-themed-dance at the studio tonight. It shouldn't be hard ... but I have a very hard time with the idea of dressy tacky on purpose. It is my fear that my tacky-look will be misinterpreted as my regular look.
  • I'm wrapping up one more course at school - my goal to complete four courses (in 2010) before I take my holiday is becoming a reality. Yay!
  • I'm thinking of dancing. What else is new?

What I am really thinking underneath all of this is: I am not keeping myself the 'right' amount of busy this week.

There is a balance to the busy-factor that works for me. I need to keep moving and motivated. It is wonderful when I have a quiet day in among a busy week. But I've had too many quiet days in a row. I could have been doing something productive. But I haven't.

I'm frustrated with my slowed down state because it is too easy to just go with it and do nothing ... rather than do just a little bit.

My life is just a little too 'quiet' for my tastes right now. I believe it is the calm before the storm. Maybe that's why I'm having a hard time pushing myself out of this slump. But honestly? I think it's an excuse.

I'm feeling pretty lazy this week.

P.S. I just looked in the mirror and decided my 'new hair' isn't as bad as I thought. I stuck velcro rollers in it this morning and it poofed it up just a bit. Maybe the velcro rollers will a part of my tacky costume. If nothing else, my hair may benefit from my tacky-look.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ouch ... I'm Not Getting Any Younger

I devised a plan to stretch out my sore shoulder and attempt to strengthen the muscles that surround it, in an effort to alleviate some long term stiffness.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. If my shoulder hurt, I wouldn't push it. Stretching was my goal. And strengthening my arm muscles - we are supposed to strive for muscle mass, aren't we? It seems if the muscles surrounding my shoulder are stronger, it may help.

My first course of action? I returned to my Wii Fit trainer. He never lets me down.

If you are familiar with Wii Fit, you will know about the body test that it prompts you to take every time you start up. You tell it your age, you weigh in, do some balance tests and it puts all that information together and tells you your Wii Fit age.

I am routinely told that my Wii Fit age is 10 or so years younger than I am. I am so gullible that I tend to believe it and I am often surprised to remember my actual age. One time, it even told me I was 27! I laughed as I tried to convince myself not to get to cocky over that calculation. It still felt good to hear.

Well, I haven't been too faithful with my exercising lately. In fact I have pretty much abandoned ship all together. So when I decided to dust off my Wii Fit and get it my best shot this past weekend, you can imagine my dismay when my Wii Fit age was one year older than my true age. Not to be deterred, I thought "It thought I was 27 a while ago ... obviously this machine is not too smart!" That is, until I did the next day's body test. And it calculated that my Wii Fit age was my correct age. Hmmm ... what happened to that 10 year spread? Could I actually be aging?

As I hobbled around 'the day after' my first work out, I thought "That Wii Fit age just may be right." Ohhh ... my aching body!

Not to be deterred, I got right back on that horse the next day. It never fails - if I just work out and stretch those sore muscles, they usually bounce right back. This time? Not so much (meanwhile, my Wii Fit age was not helping my ego).

Day #3 - I was tired. I just did some stretches and skipped right over that Wii Fit age calculation. No time for that nonsense. I thought I'd return that night but in the end, I decided reading was much more age appropriate.

This morning was Day #4. I'm just barely hobbling now. The exercises are tough, but I can endure. But the best thing of all? My Wii Fit age is back on track. I have fooled it into thinking I'm 10 years (or more) younger once again.

I can't help but think that my fountain of youth is running dry.

I can see myself as I navigate my sore shoulder into my coat. I remind myself of someone 40 years my superior. In my mind, my hair has turned into my Grandma's and my body is deteriorating. If someone rushes to help me into my coat one day, I may break down and cry.

Then ... I fell on a patch of ice in a parking lot last week. My feet both slipped out in front of me and I landed, full weight (plus the velocity from the fall) right on my keister (apparently my elbow softened the blow because I later felt some repercussions on my arm joint). When I landed, the full impact seemed to shoot up my spine and the only discomfort that I felt at the time, was on the top of my head.

The only lasting injury from my fall was my tender elbow. But add my sore left elbow to my stiff right shoulder ... and some of my exercise moves are pretty scary to witness.

My thighs were so stiff, that going down a flight of stairs was quite a feat. My abs were so sore, it was akin to the tenderness I felt after surgery last year.

So it really is no wonder (after I rolled out of bed and hobbled ever-so-slowly down the stairs to work out with my Wii Fit trainer) that he thinks the years are wearing me down. If he could see me do those single arm stands using my sore right shoulder to push my entire body up ... and land on my tender left elbow, I think he would jump right out of the TV set and hand me a cane (here is a demonstration of the exercise I'm talking about).

It's a sad state of affairs when I rely on my Wii Fit trainer to stroke my ego. But it does have me determined to get this weary old body in shape. And I guess that's a good thing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dancing Makes Monday Fun!

I am enjoying my Monday afternoon dance lessons this month. It may not be the lesson of choice for my instructor, as it is his first lesson of the week and he's fresh out of 'weekend mode'. But for me? It's great!

Everything feels easy when I know I only have a half-day of school. Before my Monday afternoon dance lessons, I would be nodding off and utterly exhausted by the afternoon of my first day back after a weekend. But now? I'm racing to get as much done as I can, in the four hours that I'm at school.

After my lesson, there really isn't enough time to go back to school. I have a half hour at the end of the day. To do with, as I please. Bonus!

I love it when my days are broken up into workable segments.

I get up early so that I have lots of time to tend to all that I enjoy tending in the morning (my breakfast smoothie, coffee, word puzzles, reading and writing blogs and whatever else I can squeeze into those precious early morning hours).

I love a four hour school day. If I am motivated and my courses are not too overwhelming, I can accomplish a lot in four hours. My brain is firing on all cylinders and it is wonderful.

Dancing. One can never go wrong by throwing a little dancing into the day! But most importantly, I believe that the reason I enjoy my lessons so much is the easy rapport I have with my instructor. We talk and laugh easily. And we dance ... oh, we dance!

Having a small amount of time 'just for me' before my school-kids return for the day is a welcome bonus. My daycare load has been incredibly light this past long while. But today, I will have lots of kids. Before and after school. It makes the calm before the storm ever-so-much-more-precious.

And the evening. Ahhh ... the evenings!

Last night, I didn't have one thing on my agenda. My Youngest asked if we could run out so that he could buy something (he knew exactly what he wanted and where to buy it). He has his own money (his new babysitting career has been working well for him), so all he needs is a ride (at least until he gets that 'teleporting' thing down pat ... where he just has to 'think' his way somewhere).

I love it when I'm not in a frantic frame of mind, where I feel like I have a long list of things to do and very little time to do them. I believe that this feeling is what I enjoy most about my 'new life' as a part-time-everything. I have lots of leeway in between my various commitments. I must put in 20 hours at school, within the hours the school is open. But how I accomplish that feat is totally up to me. I have certain book-keeping responsibilities that are time sensitive, but the vast majority of my work is a work-when-you-want and how-you-want kind of deal. My daycare load is still the most restrictive, but at least it is in small time commitments. An hour in the morning and three hours after school.

It seems that most things I have 'on my plate' are doled out to me in small portions right now. I'm not overwhelmed by any aspect of my life.

But the dancing ... oh, the dancing!! I love the bonus hours that I have been putting in at the studio. It makes everything else in life just a little bit more fun, when my life is seasoned with dancing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Very Good Day

After losing a day to laziness, overeating and indulging in my whims on Saturday ... yesterday was everything opposite.

First off, I reread Saturday's blog. As I sat there Saturday morning wondering if I should exercise or start working first ... I quickly realized that I had done neither. So yesterday, I did both.

Starting the day off with physical exercise works miracles for me. It gets my blood pumping and my ambition levels start firing up. After I put in a fair amount of exercise time, I got ready for the day and went immediately to my book-keeping work.

The day ended with our family supper, which is my most favorite way to wrap up the week.

As we sat around the table, there was such an easy flow of words. Laughter comes easily and often. It is fun ...

Our little family seems to be wrapped up in holiday-mode. As each of us head off on our own separate vacation (weeks apart from each other over the course of these first few months of the year), we all seem to be in a very relate-able mind set. There is a genuine shared excitement as each of us can anticipate and relive our own personal holiday experience as we each fly off to our individual vacation destinations.

As my dance holiday is the last on the agenda, there continues to be a quiet thrill that runs through me every time I let my thoughts linger on the idea. The anticipation is half of the fun.

It was a very good day!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Lost Day

Some lazy days are much needed and appreciated. Others ... are wasted.

Yesterday, I lost a day. I accomplished less than nothing. I believe that I moved backwards, if that is possible.

Food ruled the day.

"I'll just toast those last two slices of homemade bread and then I'll start to work ..." Then: "I'll just make myself a BLT sub sandwich for lunch ..." Then: "I need something sweet to top that off ..." Then: "Hmmm .... I'll just polish off the last little bit of chips ..."

Then ... I grabbed my book and headed towards a comfy couch. But before I dozed off, I had a nice, healthy serving of ice cream with M & M's ...

When I started moving again, what was I thinking about? Food. "I'll just have some nachos with cheese, sour cream and salsa before supper ..." Was I hungry for supper? No. But the momentum of putting my hand to my mouth had begun. It ended at supper time.

And how do I feel this morning? Gross beyond belief.

I'm having a food hangover of major proportions. What am I thinking this morning? "I'm not going to lose another day"... and the cravings are gone.

I shall write yesterday off and start anew.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Calm Within

As I sit here with my third cup of coffee and my head is only going in a few directions (should I exercise ... or start to work?), I feel serene.

I believe that I have crossed most of the to-do items off of my eternal, internal list-in-my-mind. It feels marvelous.

What has surfaced after a week of running?

Gratitude. Always gratitude.

Our home is an oasis in a storm. Everything I live and breathe when I am within the confines of home strengthens my body and soul.

Second Son moved back home (at my suggestion, which I hope is financially beneficial to both of us) about a month ago. From the moment I put the offer on the table, to the present-day ... I have not one regret.

He moved back home with a large, furry dependent. 'Sadie' is a German shepherd/border collie cross. She is a horse (that thinks she's a chihuahua), she is a pup, she sheds ... but she is quiet.

She has been diligently working at playing/chewing all of the toys that were 'wintering' outside in the sandbox. My thoughts? "I should have taken them inside ... whoops." Second Son's actions? He saved the save-able toys, threw the rest in the garbage and bought/found her some dog appropriate chew toys.

Her hair is permeating throughout the house even though her primary residence is outside and in her room downstairs. The hair gets on our socks and finds its way upstairs. My thoughts? "I should vacuum downstairs more often anyway."

None of these thoughts or actions have any quiet undertones of frustration. None. I knew what I was getting into when I made this offer. I feel complete and utter acceptance of the situation at hand.

It is my hope that both my son and I are mutually benefiting from this arrangement.

He is going on a holiday soon ... and I will be on hand to tend to Sadie. I will be going to a dance competition after his return and he will be on hand to tend to the 'life' I've leaving behind. No one has to adjust living arrangements to accommodate the other. It's easy. At least it is for me.

One of the benefits of having an adult child return home after being independent for so long, is that they appreciate things so much more. There is little to no complaining about the inadequacies of the situation.

Our weekday meals are nothing to write home about it. I call it survival-cooking. There is food ... but supper is not 'meat and potatoes'. It fills a void. Not much more.

Space and privacy are issues that I worry about. After living on his own for so long, I know that my son is sacrificing a lot to save a little money and help me out at the same time.

I keep checking with Second Son to see if he is okay with things as they are. I suggest ways to try and accommodate his needs better. He continually assures me that he is fine with things as they are.

I am so content and at peace with the situation that I am concerned that it may be a one-sided street. Is it actually possible for two adult family members to live under the same roof ... and be mutually content? Maybe.

If I think about the flip side of that coin, I know for a fact that if I was bitter about the dog, the hair, the chewed toys, etc, etc ... it would be coming out in my tone of voice and body language. If I was frustrated, my son would know it. And I believe the opposite is true. The more I think about it, the more I accept the fact. I think that this is working for us.

I wake up in the mornings and I am content. Without a word of a lie ... I am completely at peace. Life-as-I-know-it is good. It was good before Second Son moved back ... it is still good.

What could possibly be better than that??

Friday, January 15, 2010

Service With a Smile

Yesterday was yet another day that I had choreographed down to the minute.

8:00 - arrive at school
9:25 - pick up a spare power supply for the computer (I go through a lot of those for some reason ...)
9:45 - hair appointment
11:00 - sign up for my new cell phone
Then, my plan was to return to school for the remainder of the day and be back in time for the kids after school.

All went according to schedule ... until I went to get my new cell phone. What was supposed to be a 15 minute transaction (to sign up and get my new cell phone), started at 11:00 (as I had mapped out in the schedule-in-my-mind) and it is still not complete.

It was one glitch after the other. And it just so happened that my cell phone number was 'lost' in the masses of others as it was being ported over from my old carrier. Some computer/Internet/? failure of epic proportions transpired yesterday. I was just lucky enough to be caught in the middle of it all.

The interesting thing about this whole endeavor to inquire about and change over to a new cell phone carrier is the service.

I was impressed by the person who I talked to initially on the phone. That one impression kept me wanting to go to this company throughout the weeks that I mulled over this decision to change providers.

The impression that I got from my (then) current carrier was one of disinterest. At every turn, I was referred to their call center. Will there be any penalties for transferring? "Call the call center." I was standing right there in front of them ... but they didn't want to help me. Begrudgingly, my wish was granted. But there were computer problems. It took a good half hour for the search to be complete and I was told my account didn't exist. I must have already cancelled it. No - I didn't. I had just talked on my phone minutes prior and I had made no move to change carriers at that point (but my loyalties were certainly moving to 'the other side'). It took 45 minutes to find out that there wouldn't be any extra fees.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that changing carriers would be a pain in the neck. So I had convinced myself that it was probably best to just get the bill switched over to my name (my cell phone was a gift from Second Son many years ago, so it was in his name). Again - "Call the call center" was the answer. This seems crazy, since we were both there and one would assume that they would require ID for this kind of transaction. But no - "this is all done in the call center" we were told. Twice (we tended to be disbelievers so we went to another location).

So ... we walked over to the competition.

Yes! They could do everything that we asked. Right then and there. In person. Hallelujah!!

Unfortunately, 'Aurora' crashed (their computer system??) as my transaction was in midstream. But the service? Outstanding! I found a pleasant, eager and willing employee to walk through this with me. It was frustrating. But this one person made the difference.

As my son and I were talking about which plan/cell phone provider was the best for my needs his advice was "It all boils down to service". I decided to let service be the deciding factor. And I'm so glad that I did.

If I would have had a disinterested, uncaring and frustrated (and believe me, there was good reason to be frustrated) employee helping me yesterday, I would have walked away from the whole experience with a very bad taste in my mouth. I would have immediately questioned this company and my loyalties would have been shaky right from the start.

Instead, I am impressed.

One person can make all the difference in the world. The front line staff that deal with people day in and day out can easily become lackadaisical in their work and attitudes. But when they rise to the occasion and attempt to make every experience a positive one ... people remember that (they also remember the disinterest).

I walked away from a day where I had every reason to be over-the-top-frustrated ... but I wasn't. Though this whole scenario had to be discouraging to the staff member who helped me, I have a feeling (because of the attitude she adopted) that she walked away from the day knowing that she had done all that she could do.

When you provide 'service with a smile' ... and mean it ... you are usually still smiling at the end of the day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Learning As I Go

This time last year, I was valiantly trying to introduce one good habit into my life each week.

It was small stuff - drink lots of water; stop buying chips; stop drinking pop; start exercising 20 minutes a day (then 40); start eating (mostly) whole wheat; and then the big one: stop eating after 7 pm.

That is where it stopped. The habit of eating after supper was the deal breaker for me. I was five weeks into my 'one good habit a week' program when I hit the wall. I stepped on the scale after five weeks of developing better habits ... and I had actually gained weight. More weight (after a very bad spree of gaining a pound per month).

So ... I went on a chocolate and chip binge like no other. I returned to my previous life where I ate what I wanted, when I wanted.

Then, in the spring I tried again.

I went on my food budget. I carefully tracked my food/calorie intake and worked hard to offset the calorie reduction with exercise. I thought that I had it licked. It was simple math. It was a budget! I've been budgeting for the entirety of my adult life. I could do that.

As it turned out ... I couldn't. I went into an exercise hyper drive mode just before a family gathering. I was still watching what I ate and exercising as much as I could find the time for. Add in a lack of sleep, an obsessive desire to be organized for company/a surprise party/a night away from home and my overly excitable tendencies ... and I could barely keep myself together the next day. I almost had a meltdown of major proportions in front of a group of family members.

I stopped the 'food budget'.

My latest binge of under eating, lack of sleep and high excitement levels was in November. The week prior to our dance showcase, I could feel it coming. The excitement, forgetting to eat and the inability to sleep. All was good and fine ... until it was over.

The above mentioned combination of lack of food and rest, added to my overly excitable state made for a very, very bad 'morning after'. An emotional hangover. It wasn't pretty.

Now ... here I am again. On the brink of yet another incredibly exciting event in my life - an upcoming holiday and dance competition. How am I going to learn from the past?

First of all, I started one new habit ... at least a month and a half ago. I stopped eating after supper. Period. Nothing more, nothing less. No snacking in the evenings. I quit cold turkey and it hasn't been that bad.

It is rather disheartening because the weight (obviously) isn't falling off of me just because I stopped noshing after my last meal of the day. But what is happening is better. I have lost a pound. Maybe two. And this is exactly how I gained my weight. A pound a month. It isn't rocket science ... but I believe this is the answer for me.

Secondly, I am doing my best to tend to all that must be tended in a relaxed fashion. I am not going to be running around like a crazy-person the week before this competition trying to do a million last minute things. Slow and steady. I don't want the crescendo ... because I don't need the crash that inevitably follows.

I love feeling excited about something. But I must temper it. A little.

What I am feeling at this moment is incredible. A little bit of happiness is right under my skin at all times. I can get lost for a moment in dealing with the daily rituals of life and then I'll think ... Montreal! One month from today! What will we be doing? The happy factor is alive and kicking. I love it.

While I'm at the competition, I will be sharing a room with someone who (from what I've seen) seems to be the essence of calmness. As long as I don't drive this person crazy with my energy, I think the calming factor will be exactly what I need.

We will be gone for six full days. Six days should give me the time to relax and savor the experience. I shouldn't feel the tendency to leap into that hyper drive state where I feel I must see, feel and experience it all ... because the moment is fleeting. Our dance showcases are like a wedding day. A lot of preparation and hype ... and it is over in one day. Six days will be wonderful. Time to experience everything to the fullest.

I've looked back on the year past and not made any resolutions. My goal is to learn from the past year and make the year ahead better.

No earth shattering revelations - I'm just learning as I go.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Kaleidoscope in my Mind

My mind is colored with dancing thoughts lately.

The dance holiday that is pending has tainted my view on the world. Everything I do has a backdrop of music and the sensation of wafting on air ...

The world continues to spin around me. I must tend to 'life' as I normally do. But with every breath that I take, every thought that I think and every action I follow through on ... I am thinking about dancing.

School and work - what must I accomplish before I go away? Budgeting - I'll spend what I need to spend to be prepared for this competition and figure out the math at the end. Home and kids - I think it's covered. I have an amazing little family that can function independently and keep things running on the home front while I am away. Primping, preparing and packing - my head contains a running list of what I've done, what I need to do and what I can't do until I'm 'there'.

There is a happy medley of thoughts flitting in and out of my mind these days. I'm already getting my money's worth from this holiday. And it hasn't even begun ...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Traditions

Our new tradition of a family Sunday supper has been put by the wayside for several weeks.

First of all there was Christmas, and we were scattered out among a few provinces. Then First Son went on a holiday so there wasn't a formal 'Sunday Supper' in his absence. This past Sunday was to be the return of our new found ritual.

Then it happened.

Life got in the way. Some unforeseen plans came up and there was uncertainty if the supper-date would be attainable. I don't want our family suppers to be a job for any of us, so I naturally adopted a go-with-the-flow attitude. If things work out, let me know. If not, we would fall back and have our Sunday Supper on Monday.

As it turns out, I was the one who messed up the plan. When I didn't get a call regarding a change in plans by mid-afternoon, I decided that My Youngest and I were in need of an outing. We decided to go and see a movie on the spur of the moment.

I love spur of the moment. My Youngest has been doing a lot of babysitting lately and he has sacrificed some of his weekend-time with his friends to take on this responsibility. So when his friend wasn't home when he called on Sunday afternoon, I decided to swoop in and take advantage of the moment.

I'm glad that I did.

My Youngest is quite content in his/our world. But I know from experience, that these years are all too fleeting. There are moments in time that we simply won't get back. And the stronger our relationship is before he enters the Trying Teens, the better off we will be in the years to come. So yes, I worry. I need to know I'm doing my best.

As it turns out, had we not gone to see the movie our Sunday Supper would have unfolded as planned. Whoops. I had a moment where I felt like I was choosing between my children and I didn't enjoy the sensation. But I knew that I was, where I was meant to be.

We had our Sunday Supper last night. And it was better than I could have hoped for. A weekday supper had each of us in a slightly different mind-set. It felt relaxed. It felt right. I knew that we were, where we were meant to be.

This family supper tradition is new for us. But it is amazing. As my Two Oldest compare notes on holiday destinations and life, I feel the years between them starting to close. I love the fact that I can sit back and listen to the two of them converse. They don't need me in the middle to guide the conversation or mediate a topic. All is calm. All is bright.

It is a new tradition. One that I hope doesn't get lost in the chaotic world of day-to-day-living. They say it takes three weeks to form a habit. We are past the three week mark. But I know from experience ... that it only takes once to break that habit.

I'm glad that we haven't broken our habit.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Better Than Planned!

I was flustered and bothered yesterday morning (Such is Life) about how badly 'life' was interfering with my plans. I wasn't looking forward to a day that was not going to go according to plan ... again. But, the day went better than I could have ever anticipated.

Going to school on a Saturday meant: lots of parking! and a ultra-quiet classroom environment. It was great. I had planned on working two hours, but I was accomplishing so much that I decided to stay for three.

I had just arrived home and swallowed the last bite of my lunch, when the phone rang. My book-keeping work (along with the required explanations) was en route.

I had no time to lull myself into a laid-back mode. The momentum from a productive morning spilled over into a productive afternoon.

Because I was already in the thick of my work (and through the worst of it) by supper time, I actually wanted to get back to it last night.

Best laid plans ... sometimes it's a disappointment when things don't unfold in the manner in which you expect. But ... sometimes it's better!

Yesterday was most definitely a better day than I anticipated.

The Abyss of Overspending

When I was in over my head in debt, I felt like I was in quicksand. Any money that I made went to pay for things that I already had. If ever there was a windfall that came my way, I would think ''that will pay for (an already purchased item)".

I longed for the day when I would receive a small bonus and know that it was truly mine to spend. It hadn't already been spent. I'm a master at juggling the books to make things work out financially. What it all boiled down to, was that (even though I could trick myself into believing it was okay) I was spending more than I made.

It took a while (and some creative solutions), but I have accomplished my goal of living within my means. I am living on the 'plus' side of life, and it is grand. When I receive an unexpected $30.oo ... it is mine, to spend as I wish. It isn't lost in the excess of my spending.

This upcoming dance competition has me standing on the edge. I have it covered. But I am relying on future income sources to pay for it. It isn't 'money in the bank'. Plain and simple ... it is debt.

I was on the receiving end of some very unexpected windfalls this Christmas. With them, came the spoken or unspoken message that it was to go towards my dream - this upcoming dance event.

As I wade into the weeks of overindulging that I have before me, I have earmarked certain expenses that have been covered by my Christmas gifts. They have paid for the extra dance lessons, new dance shoes and my upcoming hair appointment. I have been paid in advance by my Second Son for his room and board. That went to cover my trip expenses.

I have been hoarding every extra bit of 'bonus money' that I have received for the past year and a half. Instead of putting that money into a savings account, I put it towards my mortgage. So now that I am finally spending some of this hard-saved money ... it feels like debt (I'm now 're-borrowing' the funds that I had used to pay down the principal balance of my mortgage).

I have it justified in my mind. I have truly done the saving and sacrificing for this trip. I have future income that is going to replenish this bout of over-the-top spending.

But at this very moment, I have negative signs running through my mind. I owe, I owe, I owe. This feeling of already owing so much has me thinking that spending a little more really doesn't matter. What is a little bit more, when you already owe so much??

I made a careless remark before Christmas about how small amounts of money are lost in 'the abyss of debt'. That statement wasn't pointing fingers at anyone but myself. I have an internalized way of thinking about money, debt and money-gifts. When you owe thousands upon thousands of dollars, how far does $50.00 really go?

As I stand on the brink of spending money in a way that I haven't done before ... I am nervous. I have to juggle the books so that I'm living back in the black. Those minus signs before my bank and credit card balance cause some dangerous thinking. I'm already in debt, so what's a little more?

But, before I get my feet back on the ground there is a little more shopping that I want to do ... and so goes the cycle of overspending.

The Man of My Dreams

I met him last night.

What started as a mild attraction grew as each facet of his personality and life was unveiled to me. I felt it ricochet back to me, as he came to know me.

You learn so much about a person by the life they build, how they live it and the people they surround themselves with. I was impressed by everything I saw. I could feel myself swoon with the knowledge that 'he is the one' ...

I was attracted to him in a way I have been attracted to no one else. It was mutual. It was fun.

It was a dream.

Ahhh ... what a sad thing to awaken from. But as the dream starts to fade, I have hope. The man of my dreams was not anyone I knew. Someone I haven't met yet.

I'm not looking, but I will know him when I meet him.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Such is Life

The last few days threw me off of my groove. Best laid plans ... just laid there.

There was a time when I could make the best of whatever situation befell me. My daycare days were full of days like those. Last minute cancellations meant less kids to tend and more options with what to do with our day. Lots of kids meant I had to be ultra organized and so I went into super-drive. A cancelled dance lesson meant that I had time for other things. Extra dance lessons meant that I had to squeeze the need-to-do-things into a shorter time frame. I was adaptable.

This week, getting back into the groove of motivating myself throughout the days was a challenge. With dancing as my backdrop to all of these activities, I managed to accomplish a lot with the time that I had.

Then ... there was a water main break at the school. An unexpected day off of school for the kids. Day #1 - we made the best of the situation and worked around it. Thankfully I had only one child to tend that day, so the adjustments were relatively easy to make. Then, came Day #2. I had double the children (yes, only two), but it meant that the prior days game plan wouldn't work.

I was stuck in neutral. All day.

I kept playing games in my mind trying to fool myself into getting motivated. But all I seemed to do was think, "I should be at school ... I should be at school ... I should be at school". After school (I only needed to put in a half-day), I was going to have the bonus of having a free afternoon to myself, by myself. I lost my 'bonus-day'.

I think I pouted. It was a complete and utter waste of a day. I puttered, I frittered, I read and I dozed. But I accomplished absolutely nothing (my mom will be grateful that I made the time to write her a letter). It took Herculean strength at the end of the day, to tidy up the house and get my 'Friday chores' tended.

So today, I must go to school. Going to school on a Saturday almost feels as terrible as going to work on a Saturday.

I have (what sounds like) a big and time consuming book-keeping task to tend this weekend ... only I will already be at school at the time she would have been able to explain what I need to do. And since she is working all day, I will not get those instructions until the end of the day.

I like to be in the home stretch of winding up my weekend-work by suppertime on a Saturday. Not just getting it.

I was so excited to have the first three days of this week go so well and according to the plan I had mapped out in my mind. Even the fourth day was pretty good. But the last few days? I just haven't been able to maximize my time and energy because my work load is not going according to plan.

C'est la vie ...

I guess I'll just put on my 'Wizzy Wig' and let this cheerful little song be the back drop to this Saturday that is (third day running) not going according to plan.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wizzy Wig

WYSIWYG. "What you see is what you get" ... this is a term that I learned in the 'Introduction to the Internet' course that I am taking (long story, but it relates to the background computer language that goes on behind the scenes as we easily post things on the Internet).

Wizzy wig. I love it! This is the attitude that I want to ingrain within myself. What you see is what you get.

With all of the stewing and fretting that I have been immersing myself in, this week in relation to the 'face' I must put on when I attend this dance competition, I just want to adopt a 'wizzy wig' attitude and fly with it.

I just want to relax within myself and put my best face forward.

A bad hair day?? I'll just put on my 'wizzy wig' and keep on dancing. I wonder what colors those wigs come in ...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Don't Burst My Bubble!

I live in a nice little protective bubble.

I don't get the newspaper, I don't listen to the radio or watch the news on TV. The little snippets of news from the real world come to me via a few websites that I go through, to get to the word puzzles I enjoy or else retrieve my email. If the news headline isn't enough to grab my attention in those milliseconds before I head to the web page I'm after, I ignore it.

I get a little of my information about what is going on in the world around me, by the people I talk to. Sure, it's just a little embarrassing when old news is new news to me ... but I really don't care.

The doom and gloom of world events doesn't play havoc with my day to day living.

The only government policies that I concern myself with, are those in the running of my home and raising my family. I figure that if I can keep the peace within our four walls and lead by example, my children will spread 'the word' in their world. If every single person in this world lived a quiet, peaceful and serene existence within their home, doesn't it seem likely that our neighborhoods, our cities, our countries and our world would follow suit?

Depression, recession, bust and boom economies. I have lived my entire adult life managing my own personal economy. I've rallied through depressions and came out the other side. I have coasted through booming times. I spent a great part of my life being financially smart - I saved for retirement, ensured I had enough life insurance in case of my early demise, I struggled to pay as much as possible on my home to pay it off expediently so that I could start spending after the house was paid off. I was not living in the present. I was covering all of my bases, but my present day life was all about sacrificing for the future. A future we are not guaranteed.

I found out that living for today, while being mindful of the future is the way to live for me. I used my retirement savings to help fund a change of career and I shingled our house and garage. 'My future' became my present. And it was worth every penny.

I have contingency plans, I am a hard worker who will do whatever it takes to keep the bills paid and I have no debts other than my mortgage (and now a student loan). I'm not rolling in money, but we live a comfortable existence. As long as I don't worry about the state of the world economy, I am quite content to keep following the path I'm on. A path that is paved with a good work ethic and personal financial responsibility.

It seems that my personal economic state is being challenged a lot these days. I'll be confronted with a financial crisis on one hand ... then the crisis will be averted by a boon on the other hand. Small adjustments, tweaks and balances have kept my bank book in check. It has kept me mindful that nothing is a certainty these days. I keep my mind open to the possibility of needing to continue to adapt to this new world that I'm carving out for myself.

I was marvelling at my coping ability and the uncanny knowledge that no matter what happens, it is going to be okay. I was laughing in the face of challenge and feeling pretty darn good about it. I just know that if Plan A doesn't work, I still have the rest of the alphabet to keep going through. One way or another I'll make the books balance and we'll come out on the sunny side of this economy.

Last night ... I turned on the radio. I was so excited to find an Internet 'Soft Rock' selection of radio stations a few nights ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the memories that surfaced when old songs played. The first radio station that I listened to had a minimal amount of chatter. But last night I decided to try a different channel. They talked.

Little news bites and wisdom from the experts on the best strategies to handle this recession. These are all things that I have heard before. But last night, in the face of another recent bounce-back-occasion as I continue to struggle with my financial choices of late ... I felt the outside world infringing on the state of contentment within my happy little bubble.

This is the reason that I don't invite The News into my world. I am well aware of my need to be cautious and plan for the future. I have financial strategies and back up plans continually floating through my mind. I know the economic state of the world is not in the best place right now. But I am mindful of my own personal economy and I know that I have the tools that I need, to endure.

I was angry that someone burst my bubble. But, in the light of day I still feel that everything is going to work out just the way it is supposed to be. That may not be the way I'm planning ... but it will be the for the best. No matter what.

I'm patching up my little bubble with a renewed sense of needing to be mindful of what is going on in the world outside of my home. I still say everything starts from within ... and I'm going to make the best of the situation that I have at hand.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Luckiest Person Alive

I walked away from the computer after I posted my last blog "Hair and Make-Up ..." and I thought to myself:
"If that is my biggest problem ... I am the luckiest person in the world."

With all of the things there are to worry about in our world, I should (and do) consider myself very fortunate to be in a place where I can afford to waste my time fretting about things that really don't matter.

I am blessed. And I know it.

Hair and Make-Up and All That Stuff

As I mentally try to remember all that I need to do to prepare for this upcoming dance competition, I start to go a little squirrelly when I think about the grooming part of the equation.

Fake nails are the way to go. Despite the fact that it has been two months since my last ordeal with them and they all but destroyed my real nails ... it is the one thing that I won't have to worry about.

Then there is the hair. I've spent the better part of the year outgrowing some very bad hair cuts. My hair is now long enough to have some choices as to how to style it. And what has the suggestion been? Short and sassy. The Dorothy Hamil look. It's a look that I always aspired to have. It's a look that I have asked for on numerous occasions. Short and sassy ... I like that. Then, I come out of the hairdressers looking like ... me. It disappoints me every time.

Then my hair color. Lots of words tossed in my direction but the ones that stuck in my mind, are that you don't want to blend in when you are on a competitive dance floor. Mousy brown is probably out. My present hair color sounds like it is too dark. Highlights. Lots of highlights. Okay ... I'll cross my fingers and hope that between my comprehension of what was said and my hairdresser's talent, we get it right.

Make-up. My dramatic, over-the-top make-up look is ... everyday stuff for most people. I attended a make-up workshop that one of the dance pros put on for us after a dance showcase. It's a lot about contours, eyes and eyebrows. Fake eyelashes are common place, but despite many determined attempts, I have never managed to hone the skill of gluing fake body hairs onto my eyelids.

And there is the tanning. You don't want to have lily white skin on the dance floor. I usually buy some fake tanning cream and spend a few nights prior to a dance showcase trying to darken my skin tone. But this time, I will be away from home, sharing a hotel room and working within the restrictions of what sizes and amounts of lotions, liquids, etc. that I can bring on a plane. The self-tanning process is tedious and I can't quite imagine squeezing in this 'process' while I'm on the vacation-of-my-lifetime-so-far. I'll have to check the alternatives ...

This aging process takes away some of the ease in which one prepares for something like this. There was a time (that I thought may last forever) when I looked in the mirror and a youthful reflection looked back at me. Now ... I see crevices forming around my mouth, bad hair and facial features that fade into oblivion unless I dress them up with some kind of pencil or mascara.

What is happening to me?? I still feel like I'm 27 (or my early 30's, at worst)! Who the heck is living on the other side of my mirror?

I have always wanted to be like the Noxema Girl. The wholesome girl-next-door. I want to wake up in the morning with that fresh and unpainted Noxema Look ... with my Dorothy Hamil hair and be ready to face the day without 'hair and make-up' before I even walk into the kitchen in my own home!

The primping required for these dance events always drives me crazy. I'm grateful for fake nails. How about fake hair and face? Hey Noxema, what miracles do you have within your jars of cold cream these days?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Off and Running

As much as I didn't feel ready to face up to the world yesterday ... I did it anyway.

My mind is busy, busy, busy with all the little things that I must tend to for this upcoming dance competition.

My ball gown is dropped off and getting a new zipper. Extra dance lessons have been booked (I was working on my sleep deprived brain and forgot to multiply by two to come up with the hourly rate - I have booked hour long lessons instead of my usual half hour lessons for the next month, so I owe some big bucks there ... but that's okay). New shoes have been ordered (with a half inch shorter heel and exactly the same style of shoes I've been dancing in for the past decade or so, so my feet should be happy). We talked about my hair (I'll be off to my favorite hair dresser with pictures in tow very soon). I still have one more costume to figure out. Oh, and I must pay for all of the above.

But other than that ... all I have to do is learn, practise and dance! Yee haw!!

School was very painful for me yesterday. I was exhausted beyond words. Tiredness and sitting still are not a good combination for me. I thought I'd cut my day short so that I could face my work at home ... except there was a large group of new students getting signed in on the computer that I must use to sign out. So I waited. The noise from this large (it felt like at least 20 loud adults) group was so distracting that the last hour of my day was a complete and utter waste. I just wanted to go home.

Once I did return home, the book keeping part of my day was ready and waiting. Work that I hadn't finished off during my holidays. And more work en route.

I had the kitchen table literally covered with invoices that I was ticking off to year-old statements. I had a small pile of questions to ask my employer. I had to leave for my dance lesson in a half hour and I hadn't rounded up any supper for My Youngest. Then another box of work got dropped off (statements - a time sensitive task which cannot be delayed) ... and my Second Son was excitedly telling me of his upcoming holiday plans right in the middle of this chaos in my mind, the kitchen, the living room and my evening.

My head was all over the map. I needed to feed My Youngest before I ran out the door ... I had to find some semblance of order in the chaos on the kitchen table ... I had more work to do when I returned home. Aaack!

But ... I was going dancing. I remained somewhat calm (my Second Son is probably hurt because his exciting holiday plans were glossed over in this turmoil in my brain). I skipped supper. But I danced.

Dancing. It makes a stressed out day so much more bearable. And the bonus?? I have 2, one hour dance lessons to anticipate each week for the next month.

It's going to be a busy month. But it's going to be fun!

Monday, January 4, 2010

So This is the Problem ...

"Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry."
~Gloria Steinem

I guess I'm so content within myself, that I'm not looking for anything more.

Let's Play Hooky!

By 7:00 this morning, I had talked to each one of my children. We are in 100% agreement that we would like to play hooky from work &/or school today.

I offered to pick up my vacationing offspring from the airport bright and early this morning. I woke up in the middle of the night and never went back into a deep sleep. I feel like I have been awake since 3:30 am (but I'm sure that I dozed off for at least an hour). When I finally got mobile this morning, I felt physically ill. I wondered if I could have caught the 24 hour flu bug that my brother just suffered through (but he lives over 500 km away and we haven't been in contact with each other for almost 2 weeks, so I would have had to catch his virus through his email ... highly unlikely). I didn't want to face this day.

My First Son arrived home from his one week vacation-in-the-sun at 4:50 this morning. I got to hear his enthusiastic review of his holiday before he even changed out of his summer attire. By the time he made it through airport security and arrived home, he had ten minutes to spare if he was going to make it to work on time. He didn't feel like going.

My Second Son and I chatted as I absorbed my second cup of caffeine and he was completely disoriented when his alarm went off this morning. He has been working long, hard hours lately and enjoyed four entire days off of work this New Years long weekend. His work day wasn't quite mapped out before him as he left for work ... but he too, felt like taking one more day off.

My Third Son started his rant just before he went to sleep last night. He wants to do his school work from home. He hears how I can work at my own pace at school, set my own goals/test dates and work at whatever speed I want. That is what he wants too. He is fortunate enough to find school easy, so he breezes through his work (he tells me he is a multitasker) and waits for the rest of the class to catch up. So ... when he got up this morning, he reiterated that he really didn't want to go to school. I told him that he was too young to quit school and that none of us wanted to go to work or school this morning. But we are going anyway.

Oh, how tempting it would be to wave my motherly magic wand and grant each one of us a day off, to play hooky. We could go out for breakfast ... hear about My Oldest's vacation ... and My Second Son's plans for his upcoming vacation. We could just hang out for a while, as the rest of the world spun along happily without us.

We could do that. We we aren't.

The real world awaits ... whether we are ready for it or not.

Friday, January 1, 2010

One Day at a Time

Easy does it.
One day at a time.
Keep it simple.
Let go and let God.
How important is it?
Just for today.
First things first.
It has probably been around 25 years ago since I last attended an AlAnon meeting. The little pearls of wisdom that I learned in those meetings have resonated within me through out the past quarter of a century. And it seems they've risen to the top of my consciousness a lot this past week.
I was having a conversation with My Oldest last week about faith. He is curious and interested in learning about religion.
It was my intent to expose my children to religious beliefs and let them decide what they believed. I let the Catholic school system provide some of that knowledge to my second and third child ... but my first born didn't have that exposure. He is now searching. So I told him of some of my spiritual beliefs.
Even though I don't follow a formal religion, I have an internal moral code that I live by. And I have Faith. I can remember being told: If every single person followed the Golden Rule - 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you', our world would be idyllic. So I do my best to live by that one Rule.
AlAnon's take on religion is that we should believe in a 'higher power'. What or whom different people choose as that power is an individual choice. But the key is to believe in a power greater than yourself.
Sometimes you just have to 'Let Go and Let God' ... let go of a situation that you have no control over and let a power greater than yourself guide you through.
This year, I know many people that struggled through this holiday season. I think that my compassion for those that are going through the paces of the season tempered my own gaiety this season.
Birthdays, Christmas, New Year's celebrations are so hyped up. When in reality ... they are just another day.
For those who are grieving or consumed with a reality that doesn't fit the confines of 'Merry' 'Happy' and 'Joyous' holiday greetings, it tends to magnify whatever is going on in their world. Granted, it magnifies the good. But really ... why can't we just celebrate each day as it unfolds? Why do we need Hallmark greeting cards to dictate the occasions we observe?
I have wandered through the blogs that I visit on a regular basis to find many New Year thoughts and reflections. What I am feeling within me doesn't fit the mold this year.
Whether a person is overcome with happiness or sorrow, my words on this non-occasion are: Take it 'One Day at a Time'.
As I wrote in an email this morning: "To heck with Merry Christmases and Happy New Years ... may this day be better than yesterday ... savor each and every moment!!"
My heart is feeling the sorrow of those that I know ... and those that I don't know. While the words within me are many, I think it is best to let AlAnon put this to rest in the best way that I can think of:
"God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference."