Saturday, May 29, 2010
I believe it was tagged as my favorite during my old, crazy life. The life where I ran a daycare for 11 hours a day, 5 days a week. Then (for a change of pace and to surround myself with adults for a day) worked 6 hours on Saturday outside of my home. Then, for a few years, I tossed in paper &/or flyer delivery into the mix. The one thing that kept me sane during that time was the fact that Sunday was my day off. From everything.
Even in my new life (where I go to school, run my daycare only before and after school and squeeze bookkeeping into my life where ever I choose), Sunday has remained my favorite day. Because it incorporates our new family tradition of 'Sunday suppers'. No matter what I do on Sunday, it must be wrapped up in time to cook or go out for supper (working on a Sunday is ever-so-much-easier when you know your family won't expect you to cook).
My new Sundays have a different flavor than the old. But I love them just the same. It is a day to stop and focus on my family. I love it.
But my Fridays are starting to develop their own unique qualities. Qualities that I'm learning to love as well.
I believe that Friday started having its own special 'flavor' because it follows Thursday night. Thursday night = dance lessons. Dance lessons = a new lease on life. Every single week. I wake up Friday mornings and I'm energized and excited from the night prior. Friday mornings are the best!
More often than not, I am able to wrap up my school hour commitment by Friday. Which means that Friday is often 'my day'.
I can spend the day doing what I want to do. This may never become a novelty to me. After 11 years of being bound to my home from the hours of 6:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday ... I may never lose the appreciation that I have gained to simply be able to be unaccountable to no one for six hours, one day per week (while the kids are in school).
I can choose to work. I can choose to run around to various appointments and tend to errands. I can putter the day away doing what I want, when I want. As long as I'm home for my after-school kids.
The past handful of Friday nights have been devoted to going out with a new group of friends. It is fun and exciting to take the tentative steps of getting to know this new group. This new Friday night tradition makes me feel like I'm back on my Great Dance Adventure. It is a time where I can step out of my life and into a group. Become part of a whole. And get to know people that I've had only a nodding acquaintance with, a little better. I love this new experience and I do hope the tradition carries on.
Yesterday, this new group of friends didn't come up with anything to do or anywhere to go. I hope that doesn't stop a good thing. I hope we can pick up the ball and carry it onto new adventures in the Fridays that follow.
I didn't have this Friday Night Adventure on my agenda this week, but in its place I reconnected with old friends.
I spent the afternoon with good friends. I talked too much ... but in the end, each of us had the chance to tell the others what was going on in our lives.
What I love about these friends, is that when we sit down and talk ... we really talk. We trust each other with the under currants of what is going on in the lives that we are living. And there is a lot going on.
I sat and I listened (yes, novel for me ... I know). As each of them talked honestly about the challenges that they or a loved one faces, it changed my perspective on so many things.
These friends are my heroes. They stand up to whatever curves life has to throw at them. They champion for their family. They have such capacity for loving, giving, caring and fighting for those they love. It takes my breath away.
I look up to these friends. Unbeknownst to them, they were my mentors long before we became friends. They have qualities that make them stand out. Qualities that I aspire to incorporate into myself. I am still awe struck that these heroes of mine ... have become my friends. I know that I am a better person because of them.
After a most excellent afternoon, I returned to my easy and predictable life. I reflected on our conversations. I simply savored the afterglow of a visit with close friends.
I confronted the bookkeeping task that was facing me. And that is how I spent my Friday night. Not a night out with friends ... but it was a good night none-the-less.
Then ... just as I was winding up my work, the phone rang. A friend that I have been trying to reach for quite a while now, returned my call.
When a few calls/emails/letters aren't returned, I always take a step back. I don't like to push myself on someone. I know that life is busy and most people are much busier than I am, so I don't take offense when I don't hear back from some one. More often than not, I'll think that they are busy and I'll try back at another date.
But this particular friend is one that has been through a rather rough time lately. I knew that I wanted to make contact but I didn't want to push it. When my calls weren't returned, I thought that perhaps the message wasn't relayed. I wasn't worried. I thought 'I'll try later' ...
And yesterday, I did.
We are going out for lunch today. We talked for half an hour on the phone last night and I was updated on the myriad of reasons why she hadn't had a chance to call me back (hospitalization is perhaps as good a reason as any, to not worry about returning a call. Don't you think?).
I have had a handful of heart-to-heart talks with this friend. It's a mutual give and take of conversation. Our lives are parallel on so many levels that I believe we were related in another life (I feel this way a lot ... just last week, I chatted on the phone with a sister-from-another-life ... yet another friend I want to know better).
Yes, Fridays are developing their own personality. As I carve out my new life, I am planning to incorporate this new found flexibility into my working days. I took a tentative step and asked my current employer what lies in store after I'm done school. And the future looks bright. I believe that my next full-time job will be one that affords me the luxury of the feeling of my New Friday.
Flexible Fridays. Yup ... I like the sound of that. But I'm still holding onto my Family Suppers on Sundays. And dancing on Thursdays. Pretty soon, each day will have its own Flavor of the Week. I kinda like that.
Friday, May 28, 2010
As I opened the drawer this morning, I was struck by the knowledge that I had utilized almost every gadget in this particular drawer within the past five days.
This means ...
That I cooked pork tenderloin (which I sliced with the electric knife) on Monday; I made spaghetti and meat balls (I needed the adapter for the electric frying pan) on Thursday; and this morning, I actually baked a batch of muffins (thus, requiring my electric mixer).
Every morning, I pull open that drawer to retrieve what I need to make my morning smoothie. It is a rare morning indeed, when I open that drawer and realize that the only gadget that I haven't utilized is the bottle brush (those days are over, my friend ... but a bottle brush does come in handy every now and again).
My domestic skills could use a little dusting off. So could 95% of the gadgets in that one kitchen drawer.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
I believe my energy was zapped the moment that I realized that my school was open on Friday. Due to a completely avoidable misunderstanding, I thought the school was closed that day and I had logged my school hours accordingly. I ended up being short one hour and forty minutes of attaining my required hours. My perfect attendance record is shot for this month. Energy drain.
The second bump in the road was bookkeeping. I need and want the work. When no extra work walked in the door Friday morning, I was somewhat ecstatic. She gave me a job to do, involving what I had on hand. But it was new and different so I was eager to tackle it. Then ... Saturday morning, she dropped off a bucket of work. Ten hours worth of tedious work. It zapped my enthusiasm.
Walking down memory lane last weekend was rather exhausting. My thoughts were directed to a different time in my life. I looked back and reflected on the months when I was asea. I spent too much time looking back.
I did manage to putter with my family history project. I climbed a hill ... but I have several mountains yet to scale. Not a great feeling of achievement. But at least it's a step in the right direction.
I found the ambition to look at the video of my revised Samba routine. I spent a little bit of time on my dancing. But not enough.
I squeezed all of my bookkeeping work into the last day of the long weekend. I logged ten and a half hours in one day, when I could have just as easily worked four hours for three days and accomplished much more. I crammed six more hours of work into yesterday, when I could have divided that by two and retained a little serenity within. The work that arrived Saturday morning ... is finally done.
One task complete. It took four days to finish one job.
I plan to take an exam at school today. I want to finish another bookkeeping task. I need to get into the habit of working slowly but steadily at my family history project. I must get into the habit of practising my dancing. I have closets to clean (and everything else in the house).
One hurdle down ... so many more to go. But maybe if I simply break these onerous jobs into manageable segments, I will get those mountains moved before the new fall TV season arrives.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
At the onset of the new fall season, I didn't think that I would have time to watch all of my favorite shows. I had just started school, I had the lofty goal of logging 20 hours per week doing my bookkeeping and a dance showcase was on the horizon (of course I would be practising for that ... ya, right).
As it turns out, not only did I have time to watch all of my favorite shows ... but I found a few new ones to add to the mix. I became a TVaholic when it came to my shows.
I have wasted so much time these past months it isn't funny. It's time to turn off the TV set and get on with life.
I have so much to do that doesn't revolve around making time to watch those silly programs. I need to motivate myself in the evenings and move a few mountains around here. I have a long list in my mind, of things that must be tended.
It's time to pry myself off of the couch and get busy! After rereading my journalling as I mended a fractured heart (not surgery ... just love gone awry) three years ago, I marvelled at my ambition. I painted my way through it. I painted everything that I could reach outside. It was pure therapy. Plus I accomplished a lot.
I hate to think that I need to find an excuse like that to get motivated again. How about I do it because it needs to be done? Or because of the way it feels to accomplish something? Or because it feels good to move ... not just sit still in front of the television set (or computer) and let my life pass on by?
I'm grateful that my favorite shows are all on hiatus. I hope to keep the TV turned off for the summer season. It's time to get moving.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
As I have dared to venture out of 'the safe zone' I have created in my life and started investing my energy in creating some new friendships, I realized that I needed to tend to the friends that I already have.
Most people were busy or away ... but I did manage to connect with a friend that I made 31 years ago. Once upon a time, we made a promise that we would go on a cruise together when we were 40 years old. Almost a decade has passed since that goal came and went without our anticipated cruise. So I've tossed out the idea that we should make that dream come true. Next year. I wanted to call and talk to her about the idea of taking that long awaited holiday.
Our lives have drifted in two totally different directions. A year can come and go without contact. She lives two provinces away from me. Our paths haven't crossed in over 20 years.
Yet, as soon as she heard my voice on the other end of the telephone line ... the years vanished.
We talked for two hours without taking a breath. Each of us had stories to tell of our present day lives. When I mentioned one particular subject that concerns me, she has the 'history' to know what lies deep under the surface. She was the friend that walked with me through the relationship that left me physically battered and bruised. So when I speak of the past, it is quite likely that she remembers it more vividly than I do - I voluntarily block a lot of those memories.
I don't have another friend that has walked that particular walk with me.
I've come to peace with that time in my life. I don't dwell on those years. At all. I pull them out and deal with them as necessary as my son needs to talk about that time. So much of who he is today, is because of what he saw, felt and lived throughout 'those years'. This is the undercurrent that my friend picked up on. She knew what I was saying without me having to say a word.
Friends. Those who know us better than we know ourselves sometimes. Special people that have walked at our side and saw us through the best of times. The worst of times. Someone you can call out of the blue and remember what it feels like to be 18 again.
We laughed. We shed a few tears. We reminisced and reflected. We looked at our present day lives and dared to dream about what we hope is in store.
It was just like the old days ...
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sheesh! I lost two days of my life. Looking back. One day reflecting. The second day stuck in neutral.
Today I woke up at 5:30 a.m., knowing that I had to get on with life. I had work to do!
My day was spent working, talking with friends, making supper, spending time with my family and then working some more.
I can't believe that I wasted an entire weekend. I had so much to do ...
I've looked back. I've looked ahead. But most importantly, it's time to put my nose to the grindstone and look at the present day. It's time to get my head out of the clouds and do what has to be done.
I did this to myself. I've become a master procrastinator. But it was fun while it lasted ...
Sunday, May 23, 2010
June 3/07 - The first 3 years of dancing were complete and absolute heaven. I was able to take a step away from my family and home responsibilities. I could remove my 'mother hat' and simply become an adult dancing with and conversing with other adults about adult things (mostly dancing). I have never been happier. My Instructor was/is the best instructor for me. He could make me laugh when I felt like crying ... I could lose myself in the dance the moment I put on my dancing shoes. It was the best of times!
June 21/07 - There is/was a dance at the studio tonight. At one point I thought I would go. But by the time tonight rolled around I knew I had no desire. I have the cloud over my head again and I have promised myself that when I walked through the dance studio's door, I would leave the doom and gloom behind. Last months dance was the best ... and I'd rather leave it at a positive memory.
Aug 16/07 - I'm exhausted tonight ... last week all I could think of, was going to the dance at the studio tonight - to get me out of the house, around people and moving. As the day neared, my desire to go waned.
Aug 19/07 - I want to dance!! And I want to be a person in my own right in the studio. I long to be part of the group ...
Oct 21/07 - Thoughts of the dance showcase drifted in and out of my consciousness and they were all so very good. Memories and feelings of the good times I had at those showcases .... where they would be in their day, as the day unfolded .... my desire to return and rekindle even a small part of that ... ... ... It was all so very positive. Everything remained in perspective.
Nov 2/07 - A nice quiet evening at home .... it dawned on me that there was a dance tonight ... but even if I had really wanted to go, I really wouldn't want to spend the money. It would be fun to dance again though .....
Nov 15/07 -There was a dance at the studio tonight and I would have really liked to have gone. Talking to My Instructor last week and having some birthday money to splurge with has piqued my interest about dancing once again ... Money is my biggest worry at the moment. And it's not a huge worry ... just feels like a bigger deal, because I am ready to dance again.
Dec 12/07 - Dancing continually pops into my mind. That is a constant. I'd like to go back ...
Jan 11/08 - I'm back. Loving it, loving it, loving it!!!! It felt great to walk back through the doors to the dance studio. I felt welcomed, happy and simply glad to be back. It was like riding a bike ... we just started dancing and danced the 1/2 hour away. Fun! Fun! Fun!! I was stretched and stressed to my max when I quit my lessons last February. Now ... I feel relaxed and enthusiastic. A much better recipe for success.
And the rest ... is history!
My journey back into dancing brought the bounce back into my step, a twinkle in my eyes and a heart that beats to the tempo of the music.
Six months (to the day) after the initial blow to my world, I wrote this:
It's been 6 months since my world as I knew it came crashing down around me. It's mostly good now ... but I still feel that loneliness creep in from time to time (I think it is lessening though).
Reflection .... yes, I think that is the stage I'm entering now. Some of the good stuff is starting to rise to the surface again. It's good to feel something positive even if the relationship didn't withstand the challenges we faced.
My life is rich within these walls of mine. And that is what is so important to me ... and being on my own again and forcing myself to look outside of these walls has enriched my life further, by including family and friends into the mix.
Ya. I guess I am content, aren't I? It wasn't an easy road ... and I am quite sure that even this road I'm travelling on is going to have its share of thrills and spills along the way. But for the moment, I'm cruising and just enjoying the ride.
I read the words of hurt, anger, sorrow, reflection, backslides, reminiscences and eventual healing of the end of an era for me. I'm glad I wrote them. I'm glad they are private because I could write whatever came to mind with no mind as to how 'the world' may see it.
I can see how far I fell. I can feel the life being breathed back into my soul. I am living the result of the healing.
Six months to mend a broken heart? I don't think there is a tried and true recipe for all. But I do believe that being thoroughly honest with yourself, allowing yourself time to go the the grieving processes, letting go of the words within you in whatever fashion suits you best and reaching out to those who can help you step back into the world of living again, are steps in the right direction.
I don't want to live in the world of looking back. It drains my energy. But it is nice to have a benchmark in life at times. Just like marking the growth of your children on the door casing - it's nice to see how far you've come and see the timeline that it took to get there.
Everything in life is a process. We have the ability to endure the challenges we are faced with. Those challenges can make us or break us.
Personally, I am grateful for every road I've travelled in my life. If I could do it all over again ... would I do it the same? In a word ... yes.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
My family unit is stronger than it ever has been. The ties to my sisters, brother and my mom is more distant but we are close in every way that matters. The extension of adding aunts, uncles and cousins into my friends/family unit has given my life a foundation that feels unshakable.
I've invited people and opportunities into my life. I've done things that I've never done before. The future excites me. I have a vivid picture in my mind of where I see my life going. I believe it will come true. I don't know how ... I don't know when ... but I have a strong conviction that the future is full of untold possibilities.
I've cracked open the door and dared to walk through.
A comment that I made last night is haunting me this morning. Possibly because my Second Son recently brought to my attention that I am blocking out any opportunity to find that 'someone special'.
Last night, my words came out before I stopped to think of how they would sound. A friend of mine recently told me about a single male-friend of hers. She's known him for years, he loves ballroom dancing and she said that every time that she sees him she thinks that I should meet him.
What was my initial knee-jerk reaction? How would I ever 'fit' a man into my life? How could I ever incorporate a relationship into what I have built ... and not lose the life that I have created these past three years?
My second reaction? Why is he single if he's as wonderful as he sounds?
I said that out loud last night. When I got home, the echo of that statement rolled around and around in my head. The same question could be asked of me. If I'm anything special, why am I single?
I went back to the ramblings of my mind which I journalled three years ago:
June 3, 2007
... My ExHusband's 'invasion' into our lives over Christmas was frightening. After 19 years, for this intent focus to hurt our family was eerie. I was so afraid that he was at a point of no return and he was going to intrude into my world and take it all away ...
... I thought I could give the (dance) routine my best shot. But my fight, my ambition, my drive and the fun in dancing was gone. I gave it what I had ... but by this time, I was running on near-empty so I didn't give it much. I quit. I quit it all ...
... The fun in life was gone ... I felt like the only reason I had survived the winter was because I had one 'crisis' after another to cope with so it kept me from dwelling on this depression that was seeping into my world ...
... I am weary, overwhelmed, sad, easily annoyed and very 'prickly' to be around. I used to pride myself on my ability to find the positive in a negative situation and for this past (very) long while, everything seems to have a negative spin to it ...
... Future. When I stop dreaming of my future, part of me dies ...
... When our relationship is rock solid, I feel like a rock. When I am on my own I am a rock. But knowing that we were on shaky ground made everything in my world feel like too much ...
"When I am on my own, I am a rock."
There you have it. I believe that is at the crux of the matter. Am I willing to risk everything I have built to test the strength of the person I have become?
I am at the very beginning stages of believing that maybe ... I am.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Once upon a few decades ago, someone told me I looked liked Sally Field. WOW! To be honest, this person was under the deluded idea that I was someone other than who I was ... but to be compared to such a wholesomely pretty, happy and vital star? I was over the moon.
But how do you dress up as Sally Field? Just wear my dazzling smile and hope someone else sees the resemblance? Perhaps.
I have idolized Cher for the better part of my life. In fact, I still admire many of her qualities. I think the fact that she was glamorous, even if she wasn't beautiful was part of what I admired about her. It made an ugly girl like me feel like what is on the outside isn't important if you have an inner confidence (and a glamorous wardrobe and make-up artist may help as well). Maybe that's part of why the costuming in dancing is such a part of a childhood fantasy fulfilled for me. Because this ugly little duckling can glam it up for a day and my Inner Cher can shine.
Let's see ... I have a package of fake nails; fake eyelashes that I've never been able to master; I definitely have the upper body proportions; and I'm sure out of my dance wardrobe, I could have come up with something to mimic Cher (though my days of baring my belly button are over, I'm afraid). But I didn't have the hair. You need the hair!
Then, I had this fleeting idea about Dolly Parton. Between hearing the song 'Islands in the Stream' and receiving a dance costume by mail order the same day (that will most likely never be used unless it's ''dolled up" in a Dolly-Parton-sort-of-way), I thought that a blond wig and a few additions in my Cher-like bust area could help me pull off the Dolly-look.
But, buying a wig and the accessories that I'd need to accessorize my figure was not in my time or money budget.
I surveyed my Second and Third sons to see what their opinion was.
Second Son is brutally honest with me (just recently, he told me how annoying my 'I-think-I-remember-but-I've-totally-forgot-look' is to him - he says it looks like a fan is blowing in my face as my lips quiver and I squint my eyes). I was prepared for anything. His answer? Marilyn Munroe. Hmmm ... this is exactly what my dance instructor told me. It must be in the Bro-Code Book, in the Answer To The Unanswerable Questions That Females Ask Men Chapter: "What answer will get you in the least amount of trouble when a person of the female persuasion asks 'What movie star do I remind you of?' " Answer (of course): "Marilyn Munroe".
I didn't have a blond wig and without standing over a fan, to whisk my billowing white skirt up around my shoulders ... I'm pretty sure no one else would have figured out who I was trying to be (unless they read the 'Bro-Code Book').
Then ... I asked My Youngest. He kind of squirmed when put under the pressure of such a heavy duty question just before he went to sleep Wednesday night (and he hasn't had the chance to read the Bro-Code Book). He said a few people came to mind ... and under duress, he finally spit out the star that he immediately thought of: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Ahh! It's my bulging biceps (Second Son was complimenting me on my shapely arms just the other day, so I could be onto something).
Sooo ... I went to the studio last night, baring my biceps. And do you know what? No one recognized that I was doing my best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation. I guess I should have worked on my accent.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Ahhh ... the memories!
I finally decided to order some pictures from The Great Dance Adventure. I received them yesterday. The memories aren't quite as vivid, but they are still alive and well. It was fun to revisit them.
Months ago, I found this video of a montage of rhythm dances that were performed on the last evening of the competition.
It begins with the Samba (this is a dance that we are presently working on ... but I have oh-so-far-to-go in learning the technique which really makes this dance effective) ... then a Cha Cha ... a Rumba ...
You can see 'our group' in the audience (bottom portion of the video screen). Just before the Paso Doble started, there was a moment in time which was captured on tape ... by a stranger. It was a brief, two second exchange. I wasn't in the picture, but I was on the receiving end of some sign language which was meant for me.
This brief moment is caught on the video that follows.
The dancing in is amazing. This is the night that my heart started beating in time with the music. The entire evening was the piece de resistance of the entire event. The wind-up. I was wrapped up and savored every moment.
When I found this video clip months ago, I was brought back to that moment in time. As I flipped through my photos last night and the memories were refreshed, I wanted to try and find that video clip and put it someplace where I could 'retrieve' it on a whim.
And here it is:
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
There was no time left over to write my morning musings. Maybe the world is a better place because if it?
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Mother's Day weekend and the week which followed completely through me off of my cooking groove (as if I had one in the first place - ha!).
My Second Son took me out for a Mother's Day supper on the Saturday preceding Mother's Day ... just in case he couldn't make it on the actual 'day'.
My Oldest Son took me out on Sunday - Mother's Day. My Youngest didn't want to come (though he did have the last half of his submarine sandwich from the night before, so he didn't starve) ... so it was another quiet one-on-one visit (which I enjoy very much).
No one was around Monday night. Supper was whatever I could manage to forage for my Youngest and myself.
Tuesday ... we went out for a buffet supper. Very tasty indeed. My mouth had started watering for this food after I'd come across a month-old receipt from the restaurant as I was sorting through my credit card receipts.
Wednesday, my sister came to the city and we 'did lunch'. Yet another out of the ordinary event in the middle of the week. I hate to say what we did for supper that night. But it didn't involve cooking ... this I know for sure.
Thursday and Friday, I managed to unwrap the cellophane on some frozen food entrees. I still didn't cook (but at least there was no gas mileage cost factor in these meals).
Saturday? Who wants to cook on a hot Saturday afternoon after working in the yard all afternoon? Heavens! I don't enjoy cooking on a cool, rainy day ... a cold winter's day ... a beautiful autumn day. Why should 'Saturday' be any different??
Which brings me to Sunday.
My Oldest was off on a weekend adventure with friends and I knew he wouldn't be home for supper. I had a BBQ menu in mind for the rest of us for Sunday. But when My Youngest and I took off to run an errand (without announcing our intent), My Middle Son guessed that we had gone out for supper without him ... so went out in search of some nourishment while we were gone. So much for good intentions (secretly I was a little relieved because I had managed to eat the better part of a bag of chips that afternoon and wasn't very hungry ... though I did manage to eke out a rather hearty and healthy meal for My Youngest).
The take-out-quotient in our lives is high. Too high.
So, when My Oldest announced that he would be able to come for Sunday Supper on Monday (that would be yesterday), a meal was born.
A plain and ordinary meal. Barbecued hamburgers, hot dogs and potatoes. It doesn't get much easier than that. I got extra fancy and sauteed some onions, served lettuce and cheese to go with the BBQ'd meat ... and you would have thought that I'd put out a gourmet meal.
I guess the secret is to keep the home cooking to a minimum. That way they are happy with absolutely anything!
But in reality, it was a meal seasoned with 'family'. I believe that's why it tasted so good. Sunday? Monday? Or any day of the week. Add a dash of something out of the ordinary to an ordinary meal, and you've got the recipe for success.
Monday, May 17, 2010
How much can one write about letting go of cleaning; being frustrated and overwhelmed by adopting procrastination as a new habit; and the growing out phases of my Great Dance Adventure beautification processes?
My thoughts are running in a circuit. A continuous loop of ineffectiveness, it seems. I need to break out of this cycle.
So ... I shall pull out another little morsel from "The Passion Test" - by Janet Bray Attwood & Chris Attwood:
This particular little excerpt was preceded by a little story about how Janet (the author) accidentally set fire to a room of the house in which they were guests (while they were on a trip to India). The family's (who was their host) only concern was for the well being of their guests. As far as the fire? "It was a blessing!" was their response.
Their belief is that "... for the new to be created, the old must be destroyed. Because life is constantly evolving, hanging on to the old may prevent the new from coming in ..."
I immediately related to this statement.
When I moved my young family here 22+ years ago, we brought next to nothing from our 'old life' with us. While that remained (remains?) a bone of contention with my (then) nine year old son, for me it represented a new slate. It allowed the new to enter our lives.
I have no memories of harboring any great resentment over the fact that we walked away from (almost) everything from our previous world. It was a fact of our new life. Our new beginning ... which had very few physical ties to our old life.
Everything was brand new. A new city, new job, new school, new friends ... a brand new life. It was just what I needed to break out of a cycle that had enveloped me for ten years.
"It was a blessing!"
It's hard to belief that our greatest sorrows can be a catalyst to times of growth and renewal. As I was in the thick of enduring that first year of transition, I doubt that I appreciated the hidden blessings. But in looking back, I know that it was for the best.
I'm grateful for the need to walk away from the past and everything in it. It made room for the new life we created for ourselves. There wasn't room for the old.
I believe that I am in need of getting rid of the old to make room for the new once again. It is time ...
Saturday, May 15, 2010
For me, it is usually the beat of the music that catches my attention first. The words come some time after that. I don't listen to country music unless someone else brings my attention to a song. But it is the lyrics of country music that bring the music to a new level.
The interview at the beginning of this video heightened my appreciation for the lyrics that were to follow.
The wisdom gained from a man who is 102 years old. And the fact that a talented songwriter put all of that together in a package so that people of every age could hear the words of someone who has a lifetime of experience to share. It touches a chord deep inside of me when the talent of a stranger reaches out and makes an impact in my life.
I loved the old man's words at the end of his interview as he tells new generation about life: "To give love and respect ... not all day, every day ... but at least once a week, to your mother and father. Especially your mother."
Instantly, I could relate.
The letter that I write to my mom every week. "At least once a week" ... I've been writing on a weekly basis for years. It's my time to sit down and connect. To take the time to show my mom she's in my thoughts. Time to give love and respect.
My own family's recent Sunday Supper habit. It's new. But it feels like a time when my adult sons join me in my life. It's small stuff. But it's a time where they show their love and respect.
One on one time with each of My Boys. It's a special time. Each of the individual in their thoughts, their challenges and their joys. I love when I feel like I've spent time enjoying each of my children, without other distractions. It's a time where I can show my love and respect.
My aunt was telling my mom about an anecdote that she read about today's generation and music. Mom and her sister come from a generation of music where the lyrics tell a story. They enjoy testing and refreshing their memories by recalling the verses of music that was a part of their life. The stories within the songs are meaningful and poignant. The author of this article my aunt quipped, "When the kids of today's generation are in their 'golden years', what are they going to recall about the lyrics of the music they play today? 'Oh baby, baby' ... ?"
It was my 22 year old son that brought this song to my attention. Along with some words that he wrote about how this song heightened his awareness of time.
I sent my mom a copy of this song yesterday with a little yellow sticky note that said "Tell (my aunt) that 'this' is what (some of) the younger generation is listening to ...".
Music that withstands the test of time. You know you've heard something special when it touches something deep within. Words that you can appreciate now ... as well as 70 years from now.
Friday, May 14, 2010
When I ran my daycare, I had a routine that was strict. I followed it to the T and I moved mountains on a regular basis.
I was 'stuck' home with a house full of kids, for the better part of 11 years. I didn't have long stretches of time at my disposal. I had moments between crisis's, needs, wants, bickering, lunch, snack, after school and pick-up and drop-off times. I made the most of those moments. Now? I could have 6 hours at my disposal ... and I accomplish absolutely nothing.
It was early in my daycare career that I began the ritual of Friday Chores. After sharing our house with other people's children for five days of the week, I lived for Fridays. The day when I washed off everyone else's germs ... so that for the weekend, it was just our dirt. It's a totally different feeling. Family germs verses the unknown.
In the beginning, I spent two hours after everyone (finally) left on a Friday night cleaning, scouring and vacuuming. As time progressed, I squeezed the Friday cleaning into Friday morning and afternoon. So by the time the last child (finally) left on a Friday evening, the house was clean and I was in weekend mode.
I honed the art of my Friday cleaning schedule. I loved summers because I could finish off my cleaning just before nap/quiet time, have our afternoon snack outside and not mess up my clean house. We even waited out rain storms in the play house ... I was not bringing 6 - 8 sandy kids into my clean house!
This fall, my return to school and the decreased daycare load still didn't affect my Friday cleaning schedule. Sure, the house wasn't quite as dirty. But dust happens. So does the need for a regular sanitizing of the bathroom. The plants are thirsty. The mats need to be shaken out every so often anyway. Friday was as good a day as any.
Lately, those Friday chores just haven't been happening. I thought that the plants could probably use a fast. So I starved them for an extra six days this week (Honestly! How hard is it, to water three plants!?!?)
A few Fridays ago, I started my Friday Chores and didn't finish them until the following Wednesday. That was so close to Friday, I figured that was a 2-for-1 deal. So I took that Friday off. Then came the next Friday. Ahhh, what's another week? Finally, this Friday was looming. It was time.
I have started to dread the hour or so, that it takes to do these menial little tasks. The less that you do, the less you want to do ....
So, I decided to kick-start my Friday Chores on Thursday this week.
I started with the idea that anything that I accomplished would be one less thing to do on Friday. The momentum kept me moving until I was complete. Friday Chores completed on Thursday. What a concept.
The need to 'wash off everyone else's germs' that was the origin of my Friday Chores, is no longer one of my obsessions. The runny noses, unrestrained sneezing and coughing, the bathrooming of the pre-school set and milk spillages at lunch and snack time are all but a memory. My 'big kids' are a clean and self-maintained group.
I believe I've come to the end of an era. The Friday Chores are ... no more. Maybe I'll only do Those Chores every week and a half ... or two. And I won't 'save' them for a Friday. I'll squeeze them into a mid-week-day and get the job done before the weekend.
Friday is ever so much sweeter, when the house is already clean. Or ... you just don't care anymore.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I have a long list of favorite blogs that I follow each morning. Some of them come and go. Most stay. I find a few more gems to add to the list along the way. I like the way these real-life-people in real-life-circumstances make me think.
Some have survived unthinkable tragedies in their lives. They are hero's to me in some fashion. Strength through adversity. A quick wit. Interesting writers. Most of all ... they open my eyes to the undercurrents that are going on within everyone I meet.
I have gained an empathy for those going through things that I have never experienced.
There is a heightened realization that everyone has a story. You just doesn't know what another person's story is. Whether it is a friend, a stranger or someone you think you know. There is much more going on underneath the surface.
I look around me and I am continually reminded how fortunate that I am. I live a quiet existence, with little to no drama. My little world ... our home ... is an oasis. No matter what is going on in the real world, I come home and I'm strengthened by what I feel inside of our walls.
I usually walk away from my morning visit with my favorite blogs, with a renewed sensitivity. I face the day knowing that I will be crossing paths with many people who have their own 'story' playing in the background of their day.
I start my day with quiet reflections.
These are a few of the thought provoking sentences that I came across this morning:
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” – Norman Cousins
"If you had your life to live over again, would you change any of it?"
I thought this morning's blog would be based on one of these topics. The statements I stumble across inspire many of my own stories.
But instead, I thought I'd pay tribute to the every-day-people who impact my day. Without knowing it, these bloggers have made me stop and reflect ...
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The tan was the first to go. It washed off by the time I returned home. Lily white skin in February - April is something that doesn't bother me.
The eyelashes? I miss them. Now, when I awake in the mornings, I no longer see my eyes. Literally. Since my eyelash extensions fell off, I am back to the process of trying to define my eyes with eyeliner and mascara. I do it by feel (I need to wear my glasses to see clearly and it's pretty impossible to put on eye make up while wearing glasses). It's interesting. You judge by the resistance against the eyeliner pencil and mascara wand.
The finger nails? They are in the ugly process of being half grown off of my nails. I spent every spare moment on Sunday trying to sand the gel nail down. I can't bear to pay someone to do this for me. If I'm paying for it, I want to just fill the nails again and talk myself into believing that I'll let them grow out the next time.
Then there are the toe nails. Oh, to have pretty feet for the summer. Wouldn't it be nice? But after one of my fake nails getting caught up in dance partner's foot and nearly ripping it off? I don't know. At least I was able to finally cut down my tender toenail so it doesn't hurt any more. Socks are a good cover for untended toes. But oh, I liked my pretty toes.
The hair. The one thing that is out there for the world to see. I'm in an ugly half grown out stage right now. The grayness is starting to appear again. I can't bear to look in the mirror. What to do? What to do??
But the one thing that spurred my thinking onto this topic is ... chin hairs.
Oh! They are sneaky. They come out of no where. All of a sudden, you find a dark, half-inch-long chin hair! Do they grow overnight? Or do others stare at your chin wondering why you are growing out your 'beard'? But the one I found this morning? It was bent upwards, as if I slept on it wrong. My chin hair was having a bad hair day!
This aging and fading process. It is what it is.
I'm grateful that I have eyes that can see. I feel foolish to have obsessed about filing down my nails. For a day! I have a thick head of hair. I have feet that can dance, a heart that is full of life and an inner drive that is not fading away.
Youth is only skin deep. Go beyond that point and there are many hidden treasures. Yes, some mornings, it may be a chin hair. But others ... it is an unearthed passion.
I kind of like what age has brought into my life. You can buy all the other 'stuff'.
Monday, May 10, 2010
~The Houghton Line, November 1965
Sunday, May 9, 2010
My family knows that cooking is not one of my all time favorite things to do, so they do suggest that we eat out. Often.
Not because it's Mother's Day. Just because.
My kids treat me very well and respect me. It is in the small gestures. The way they talk to me, include me in their lives, listen to me and simply by being the people they are.
Not because it's Mother's Day. Just because that is who they are.
My family has learned not to make a big deal out of Hallmark days. This year was no different. There were no cards necessary to tell me what I already know and feel.
There have been years that I wished for a card ... or a phone call ... or some small gesture to give me a sign that underneath it all, there was 'something' there. Not this year. This year, I yearned for nothing more than I already have.
As today unfolded I realized how unremarkable this Mother's Day was ... because every Sunday has turned into Mother's Day in our house since we started our Sunday supper ritual.
To my three sons ... "Thank you!" It was the best Mother's Day ever. Our family is 'one'. We stand united when the chips are down. We can look back and laugh ... we can reflect and gain some understanding ... we can look ahead and dream. The past has made us into the people we are today. We've travelled through some rough territory, but adversity builds character. I love what we have built together.
Not just because it's Mother's Day. That's just how I feel. Every day.
Friday, May 7, 2010
So I hit the snooze button. Four times. Kinda like spinning the wheel of fortune. Where it stops, nobody knows. Ads, ads and more ads. It must be Friday. Those in the selling business are ramping up the volume to get people out there spending their money instead of singing the tune "Tonight's gonna be a good night" ...
I walked down the hallway as I faced the day. And John Denver was singing in my mind. "Like a sleepy blue ocean ... you fill up my senses ..." Ah! Now that's a better way to start the morning.
The price that I must pay for having Monday off of school, is that I still have some hours to log today. I only have to put in a half day. But I have to leave the confines of my home. Sigh.
But, it's been a productive week at school. I wrote another exam.
Oh! The angst that I put myself through before I write those exams. I felt so confident when I finished that course last week, that I thought I should just write the exam immediately. Without studying. I wish they would give us a trial run so that we could see where we stand before we start to study. But that isn't the way of the school world. No trial runs. You write the exam when you decide you are ready. And you get what you get. So I studied.
I had all weekend to put school work out of my mind. A four day weekend to boot. I cracked open the books Tuesday morning and I was overwhelmed. I thought "I can't remember reading this!"
I slowly waded through the chapters. Reading. Listening to the audio tapes. Making notes. Dozing off (yes, I've been known to actually find myself waking up with a start as I sit and ''study'').
I did this for two days. By the end of the second day, I was a wreck. I kept reading things as if I was reading them for the first time. I kept nodding off. How much can you absorb when your mind is in a catatonic state? I fretted. I stewed. My heart started to palpitate.
At the end of the second day, I still had two hours left. Enough time to write that exam and just get it over with. Be done with it. Grit my teeth and bare it. Whatever mark I got, I deserved. I couldn't take the pressure any more.
As it is in life, the reality wasn't half as bad as what I had imagined it would be. As I went through the exam, my heart was beating regularly (for the most part). I was 2/3 of the way through the exam when I thought I was finally hitting the tough part. But I read, reread and figured out my answers. It was going to be okay.
These are online exams. At the end of them, you simply hit a key ... close your eyes ... and your final mark leaps out from the computer screen at you.
The moment of truth. What will be will be. I was done. It was time to move on to something new.
Da-da-da-daaaa ... I hit 'the button' that would tell me what I needed to know, to move forward.
I can't believe that I psyched myself up and worried a few years off of my life. I knew that I felt confident before I started to study.
I guess I'm just a perfectionist at heart. It's nice (every once and a while) to see that pushing myself does help me achieve my goals.
What goals should I set for this weekend?? I don't think it will be home renovations &/or condo living. Your advertising can't harm me! My mind is like a shield of steel!!
I shall shun this morning's radio ads and create my own destiny. I believe that I may start by cracking open the book "The Passion Test" ... The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Destiny.
I'll bet it doesn't tell me to renovate my home or buy a condo.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Last Friday's unfinished cleaning had been haunting me for five days. Five days of that bathroom cleaner and rag taunting me , "I'm still waiting ..."; five days of the dust rag in the kitchen gathering dust. Five days, I stared those cleaning tools in the face and walked away.
I can't believe the energy it takes to avoid something. I love the energy I get by waking up and knowing that I don't have unfinished chores awaiting me.
I was spurred on to not only wash and dry a load of laundry ... but to do this early enough in the evening so that the clothes were put away before the night was over (I have gotten into the nasty habit of throwing a load of wet clothes in the dryer just before I go to bed at night).
I turned on the dishwasher (not a hard thing to do) early enough so that the dishes were put away last night.
I looked around the house before I called it a night and I was pleased. I knew that I wouldn't have any of these jobs waiting for me in the morning. Oh-what-a-feeling (in my old life, this was a habit).
This morning, my alarm woke me to the (exact) lyrics "Tonight's gonna be a good night!" (Blackeyed Peas). I hit my snooze button; let those good words roll around in my mind; remembered that I have a dance lesson tonight; and then I remembered that all of my chores were done last night.
I hopped out of bed with a gusto this morning. All the while thinking, "Tonight is going to be a good night!!"
This morning isn't too shabby either.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I was determined to finish the job that I started. I left the bathroom cleaner out on the bathroom counter. The rag is right there. All I would have to do is take a few minutes and do the job. I haven't.
I started dusting. I got as far as the flat surfaces in the kitchen. I left the dust rag out so that I could just grab it and swipe down the rest of the house. It's still sitting there.
As I scraped the dried on ketchup out of the kitchen sink this morning, I got to thinking about what I used to think 'cleaned itself' around the house (before I was the one ultimately responsible for the job). I would have thought that anything in the kitchen sink would automatically wash itself. Water is always passing through ... why wouldn't that eventually wash away any dried on food particles? The toilet and bathroom sink? Same thing (no need to go into details).
Then there is the grass, dirt, sand and grime that makes its way into the entrance ways. This is a pet peeve of mine. I am constantly vacuuming, sweeping and shaking out the mat. I think that my family members assume that the dirt from the entrance way takes care of itself. It's clean all the time, isn't it? I think the cat thinks the same of the kitty litter ...
Ever since I started taking an interest in other things that life has to offer, my house has suffered. I used to take pride in clean, organized and dejunked closets and drawers. Now? The closets have doors, don't they? And if you can close a drawer ... it must be clean. Right?
Every now and again I used to save on the grocery budget by convincing myself that we could survive (on the stockpile of groceries that amassed in the house) for at least a month. So I would cut down on groceries and empty out the cupboards and freezer. Lately? I may start to do that. But the instant that some of the supplies start depleting, I start replenishing them. This started just before New Year's Eve 1999, when there was such talk about world wide computer crashes stopping our world. I thought that candles, flashlights, batteries and extra food would save us. It seems to have become a habit.
Clean windows? Clean floors? Raking the lawn? Washing the car? All of the above hurt my shoulder. I'm working at fixing what ails my shoulder. Before long, I should have full mobility once again. I wonder what excuse I'll find then. Trust me ... I find that once I break a good habit, I have no trouble incorporating (the lack of) it into my everyday life.
I look back at the person that I used to be ...
I would devote an entire weekend to decluttering the closets. And that was all that I would talk about for a week. Heavens! I'm sure that I even have memories of showing people my clean oven &/or closets. How shallow I used to be!
The next weekend, I may focus on cleaning windows, light fixtures and vacuuming out the registers. Oh, the satisfaction I used to get from knowing that all of these nooks and crannies were clean!! I would sit down at the end of the day and just gaze at all the cleanliness. It would be the focal point of my conversations. It's really no wonder I didn't have many friends back then.
Then after all of that, I would gather all of my old treasures and start to organize a garage sale. This would entail cleaning out the garage. Can you imagine the conversations that triggered?
If that wasn't enough, I would spend the next weekend sitting in the garage with all of my excess clutter and try to sell it. This was exciting for me! I would fill up the coffee butler, take out a pad of paper and crossword puzzle. It was my excuse to sit still for two days. I loved it! The bonus was, getting to talk to some of my neighbors that dropped by. Neighbors who were privy to look 'inside of my closets' and make their assumptions about the kind of person that I was. Just by looking at the wares that I was trying to sell. Talk about airing your dirty laundry ...
That ... was my life.
Then ... I started writing. I started a blog. I started collecting memories about Mom's family. I started dancing again. I started immersing myself in 'all things family' and invited family into my life. I called friends and suggested wild and crazy things (okay, okay ... it was just a day at Moose Jaw ... but back in the day where the highlight was sitting in the garage with my garbage, this was a milestone). Amazingly enough, when I wasn't talking about cleaning, dejunking and having a garage sale ... people actually started to act like they enjoyed my company.
I am living my life now. I have never been happier. And ... I get a little bit happier every day.
Cleaning, my friend (this blog was inspired by an email from an overwhelmed friend who commented that there were so many things she should be doing ... spring cleaning, for one) ... is highly overrated!
“My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?” - Erma Bombeck
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Yesterday, I finally sat down and made those 'connections'. I had a handful of people that I kept thinking about. I would sit down at the computer to send an email, but the words didn't come. I would make a tentative phone call, and the line would be busy. I didn't make the connection. Until yesterday.
The reasons that I was thinking of each of the people I contacted was varied. The responses from each and every email that I sent, told me that my instincts were right. I really needed to reach out to these friends.
The busy-ness of our world today is wide spread. It seems that life is busy for everyone. But even when you are busy, it's good for your health to stop and breathe. Talk with a friend. Take a moment to recharge and reflect. It's energizing.
If you are thinking about someone ... tell them. You won't regret it. And neither will the person you've called.
Monday, May 3, 2010
As I awoke to this reality, the day started to feel like a second Sunday. My favorite day of the week.
Before my conscious mind was fully awake, I drifted back to sleep and I dreamt.
I dreamt of the phone ringing and all of a sudden I made some plans. In my dream, I was only tending one (older) child so I was in a pick-up-and-go state.
Then the night mare began. I had forgotten that I had to await the arrival of another child. A small child. All of a sudden, I was going to be late for my plans ... the car was going to be so full of car seats that I wouldn't have room for the people that I had planned to pick up. A fun, quick and easy little outing turned into a state of confusion. And I was going to be late!
Eventually, I awoke from my little nightmare.
Not only do I appreciate that I am going to have a 'second Sunday' ... but I'm love, love, loving my downsized daycare load with children who are less dependent on me.
But I still run a daycare. My day could change with just one phone call. Maybe I won't answer it.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I rolled over and my neck didn't seize. I flip flopped from one side to the other and my tender shoulder held its own. It was a painless night. I am blessed.
Each time I appreciated this flexibility, I wondered "What made the difference?"
- Are my stretching exercises starting to kick in?
- Is it the special sore-neck pillow that my sister gave to me? (Thanks, sis!)
- Was it because I kept moving yesterday?
- Is it because my varied tasks kept my body flexible instead of working at a repetitive task?
- Did tying up many loose ends in my bookkeeping jobs take the weight off of my shoulders?
- Or was it all of the above?
I have not moved mountains the past few days, but I've moved enough hills to feel pretty good. Paper shuffling, sorting, posting and all of that good stuff isn't exactly a cardio work out. But it feels good to have control over my workload.
My shoulders aren't bearing any excess weight. That feels good in both a mental and a physical sense.
The key is to keep the weight bearing exercises at a tolerable level. It's good to know you have the stamina to endure. But carrying those weights around without dealing with them is not the route to take.
- Dump the weights that you can.
- Deal with the excess weights so that you aren't carrying them around needlessly.
- Work with what is left.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
The instability of my bookkeeping job has not been conducive to living life according to a schedule. It's kind of nice to have some flexibility in a job, but too much is a dangerous thing.
I love, love, love the flexibility that my school allows. I must put in a certain amount of hours per week, within the hours that they are open. I can put in more hours if I wish. I've been able to work in three separate weeks of holidays, as long as I fulfill my school hour requirement before (or immediately after) I take the time I need.
It's important to have 'minimum requirements' and it is truly a bonus when there is some wiggle room as to how you attain that. Too much room equals procrastination.
I can work at my bookkeeping seven days a week, 20 hours (I'm not crazy ... need to sleep!) a day if I want to. Too much room to put off until later, what I should be doing right now.
I am starting to work on another family history book. I have a self proclaimed deadline that I plan to attain. I need that. But in the mean time, I tend to think "I'll work on it when I have time." I never make the time.
I am (supposedly) my Middle Son's bookkeeper for his new business. He's been in business for one month. I have figured out the computer accounting program that I hope to use to keep his books. I just have to sit down and do the work.
I have a lot to do. And here I sit. With my coffee ... blogging all about it. Doing nothing.
Yesterday was a productive day. I worked nine hours at my bookkeeping job. They are under the gun to get one year-end wrapped up so that they can deal with the next year-end (at the end of this month). My abilities are limited, but I'm ready, willing and able to do whatever it takes to get the work done. So yesterday, I worked feverishly at the tasks at hand. I cleared the slate so that I am ready. And it felt good.
Last night was supposed to be devoted to dealing with my Middle Son's books. I was going to sit down at the computer and work at it until it was done. But ... going out for a cup of coffee sounded like a better offer. Besides, my neck was stiff and I thought that I should get out of the sitting-at-the-computer position. Sitting-and-having-coffee uses totally different neck muscles.
This morning, I promised myself that I would work at my family history project for two hours. Then two hours later in the day. Repeat, as necessary until the job gets done.
I presently have two bookkeeping jobs. I should be finished my schooling by Christmas. My goal is to complete my dad's family history before Christmas. It's happening. Room is being made for great things. I can't wait to see what life has in store after I wrap up a few unfinished tasks.
Oh ... the plans that I have! They are grand. I just have to do the work and attain those goals. I have a feeling that great things are ahead. All I have to do is follow through with my plans.