Saturday, July 31, 2010
It was after these words had time to settle, that I realized that dancing and writing are almost synonymous to me. Both activities breathe life into my soul. The only difference? I can write for free ... and alone.
And so began this blog.
No matter what surprises my budget throws my way, I can write. I can write any time I wish or not at all. There are no demands on my writing skills. I haven't taken classes (though heaven knows that I should) because perfecting the art of writing is not what I'm after right now. It would take away the spontaneity.
Writing and dancing are both therapeutic. They provide an outlet for whatever may be going on within.
Dancing provides many opportunities for laughter - laughter releases stress, strengthens the stomach muscles and releases toxins from the body. Dancing provides human contact, moving to the beat of the music and letting my feet & body do the talking.
Writing provides an outlet for whatever may be going on within. Sometimes I have no idea what my fingers will come up with when I sit down in front of an empty computer screen. There is a subconscious connection from my brain to my fingers. Sometimes I even surprise myself.
I profess to be nothing more than I am.
I am a person who enjoys dancing because it is fun. I like to to challenge myself - combining something that I love with learning has proven to be a mood booster for me. Becoming 'the best' is not what I'm after. I'm content with being the best that I can be.
I write for very similar reasons. I don't need to be a professional writer. I'm content with being a real life person who has stories and thoughts that others can relate to. The biggest compliment that I can receive is when someone reads something that I write and says "I feel exactly the same way!" If I can write something that makes someone 'feel' anything ... my work here is done.
It is rewarding for me when someone can benefit from something that I enjoy doing.
Am I good at writing &/or dancing? Good enough, I suppose. I write and dance because they are CPR for my soul. My only hope is that the enjoyment factor shines through. That defines success to me.
Friday, July 30, 2010
'Friday chores' seem to be a thing of the past. I forget to water the plants. We can leave messages in the dust. 'Tumbleweeds' of hair need to amass before I remember to vacuum the laminate flooring. Vacuuming is a thing of the past (I wore out the vacuum cleaner anyway).
Recent conversation after my Second Son dropped some food on the kitchen floor:
Son: "When is the last time the floor was washed?"
Me: "... umm ... sometime in June? But I swept it today."
Son: "Good enough." (as he gobbled up the dropped food item)
I never did get around to washing windows this year. I had a rare case of ambition for a while in June (when the kitchen floor did get washed), but the ambition was replaced by holidays and transition into my 'new life' and I just don't have things mapped out in my days yet.
I don't even 'see' the yard any more. The first time that I seem to remember that the lawn may need to be mowed is when I hear the sound of our lawn mower driving past the window that I'm working beside.
I'm grateful my son has taken the lead when it comes to the outdoor chores, but now that his work load is picking up I may need to get out and mow the grass myself. Heaven knows, I could use the fresh air, sunshine and exercise.
I need to create some routine into my days. I feel like I'm treading water here. Just keeping myself above the surface, with a great deal of effort.
I think that I may set aside some time to simply clean the house this weekend (and perhaps I will even wash the kitchen floor). Then I will go outside and pick some weeds and mow the grass.
I need a little Vitamin D that comes in the form of a sunbeam. It's time to clean those windows and let the sun shine in!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
In this past work-crazed week, I have been logging 9 - 12 hour days. I have no excess energy to take care of anyone else but myself. I don't feel like talking (!??!) and I've been kind of (very) prickly to live with. I'm so glad that I don't have to 'be' anything to anyone else this week.
I can live a very go-with-the-flow kind of life. And I like it like that. Spur of the moment decisions, holiday plans and destinations that fit 'me', time for friends and family and in the quiet moments left over ... I can read a book or nod off or spend hours puttering away at the computer. I need 'quiet' time to recharge my batteries. And when I am on my own, I have just the right amount of time for that.
Raising kids - some people feel that single parenting is hard. I tend to disagree. Although I know that my children could have benefited from being raised with a second parent who had a different spin on life, there are many advantages to being a sole parent. Discipline, routines and expectations are not challenged by a second party. In my case, I have found it easier to raise my children on my own. My kids may have their own opinions, but this style of parenting (though not my first choice) has not been a hardship.
When I have gone to a social function as a single, I have been grateful that I'm not concerned about whether or not my partner is enjoying themselves. I have walked into (what used to be terrifying and to-be-avoided-at-all-costs) situations in my newest round of single hood and conquered my old fears. I have a renewed sense of confidence and fun because I am only concerned with 'me' in a social situation. It has been surprisingly easy.
Budgeting is another task that is easier when one person dictates the household economy. Whether it is a severe cutback or an ease on spending ... when the finances aren't strained by alternate priorities and styles of spending, it is not the same challenge. I can buy dance lessons instead of groceries if I want to, and I don't have anyone second guessing me!
Some people in my shoes may look towards the future and see an empty house and a hole in their life. I look ahead and I see a Bed and Breakfast being 'full to capacity'.
I look forward and anticipate whatever may come my way. As I continue to live my life as I do, if I should happen to meet someone who makes my knees shake, I may find that the exact opposite of all of the above is true. Because for each and every point that I made, there is a flip side - an empty bed at night; I could work half as much if I had a partner to share the financial responsibilities; the comfort of going to a social gathering as part of a couple; shared holiday time with a partner; someone to help with the parental responsibilities and worries; and looking towards the future knowing that you have someone to hold your hand along the way.
There are no guarantees. I thought I knew what my future held in store. But I was wrong. I had the rug pulled out from under me, but that was necessary for me to 'find my wings' and realize that ''all that I needed, was there along'' as the lyrics from my new favorite song - ('The Time of My Life ' by David Cook) state so eloquently.
Yes. I'm having the time of my life. I don't need someone else in my life to 'complete me'. I am a complete and vital person on my own.
Until I find a man who equally enjoys sprawling himself diagonally over the bottom half of the bed, I'm simply enjoying the 'state of being single'!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I was just plain cranky on Sunday. I needed to work. Not because the work couldn't have waited a day, but because I seriously needed to log some work hours. I need a pay cheque that covers more than our grocery bill.
I stopped to put supper on the table for our family but it was the most tasteless, bland meal that I've ever made. In a word? Blech.
Conversation didn't flow. We went our separate ways soon after supper and I returned to my work. Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Not this past Sunday!
Then came Monday. I logged 4 1/2 hours at my typing job, grabbed McDonald's for lunch (I deserved a break that day!), read for a while and even closed my eyes. Then I was back to the grind and logged 7 1/2 hours at my bookkeeping. But at least it was Monday. You expect to work on a Monday.
Yesterday was a day that didn't go as planned but I got a lot done in spite of the fact. I got a very, very tedious bookkeeping job started and finished within a 10 hour time span. That felt so good that I actually woke up with energy this morning.
But it was the mail that sent me on an inner rant yesterday. I got my documents from Student Loans because I finished school early.
I was tentatively excited when I opened the first envelope to read "We are pleased to advise you that you have been approved for the following grants/bursaries ..." Then I opened the next envelope which contained information on my loan reassessment. That one brought me down to earth.
In a nutshell, there was little to no advantage of finishing off school two months early. I see no benefit thus far, to achieving the marks I received. I worked hard, I did my best, I treated school as I would treat a job ... and the reward? I lost $525 of the student loan grant that I had previously qualified for ... I received an 'overpayment' of $1,378 (thankfully this will repaid over the lifetime of my student loan and they don't expect a cheque in the mail) ... but at least I won't owe an extra $631 (which would have been my August 1 living allowance). In a nutshell, I came out of this owing $106 less than I would have, had I taken the extra 2 months to complete my schooling.
To top that off, I have lost three sources of income this month. To be replaced with a job where I logged 60 hours of work in a three week time frame due to a lack of work available. A job where I have no guarantees, no control over the work flow, no 'room' to flex my organizational skills to make my job easier.
I did everything right! There has to be some kind of cosmic payback for this. But it isn't apparent at the moment. It will come. It always does.
But at this very moment? I am just a little disillusioned ...
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I was mulling on this when I had the thought "This would be a crappy week to die" cross my mind. A week where work ruled my life would be a bad way to go. My headstone would read "No time for fun ... but at least she paid her bills."
There was another point in my life where I had a similar epiphany. I must have just watched an Oprah episode where grown children were reflecting on their lives and the special memories that their parents made with them along the way. I looked at my life with my children and wondered what thought provoking words they would have engraved on my headstone that reflected on our family memories. All I could come up with was: "She kept a clean house."
I've lived a much more fulfilling life in between then and now. When reflecting on the memories I would be leaving behind, I've been much more content.
But it is a pivotal moment for me, when I look at the words that could summarize my life-at-the-moment and decide "Is this the legacy I want to leave behind?"
I don't want work to rule my life. I want my life to rule my work. And when I do have 'weeks like these' where (by necessity), work does rule my day ... it is my hope to have moments worth remembering, even when I'm knee deep in the reality of paying the bills.
"We do not remember days; we remember moments. ~Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand"
Monday, July 26, 2010
Last week, My Youngest and I went to see a movie. A very bad movie. But because we left the house, we ended up following a bus. A bus that had an ad for some restaurant that was known for its breakfast food. There was a picture of pancakes, sausage, bacon and eggs as big as life right before us. My Youngest immediately suggested that we should go out for breakfast one day.
Fast forward to Saturday morning. I stayed in bed a little longer than I usually do and in my wakeful moments of tossing and turning, I opened my eyes to see My Youngest looking in to see if I happened to be awake. The second time our eyes connected, he took advantage and asked, "Can we go out for breakfast?"
And we did.
Now ... because we went out for breakfast, I missed a call that would have provided me some much needed work. I could have went in to work Saturday morning, logged a few hours and come home to work at my bookkeeping in the afternoon.
So, I went about my day and eventually started working at my bookkeeping later on in the morning.
Because I missed that call, I was home when my sister called. They were in the city and asked if we would be interested in meeting up so that we could drive out together and see my Second Son's farm acquisition.
We met later in the afternoon and we had a most enjoyable visit out at The Farm. We got to see and enjoy the benefits of their new motor home. We visited, we forgot to 'leave' their home so that they could carry on with their holiday and my sister and her husband made supper for us in their home-on-wheels.
It was a perfect day.
We didn't get home until 10:00 that night and I immediately went to check the messages (my mom had promised to call me back that night to see how our visit went). And what was the first message that I heard? My 'second employer' ... a call that was made at 8:47 that morning. While My Youngest and I were out. I didn't even think to check for messages when we got home.
Immediately I felt awful for missing the opportunity to work and earn a little extra cash. I was bemoaning the fact when my Second Son replied, "If you would have went to work today, we wouldn't have gone out to the farm with Your Sister".
He was right. Because of a fluke of fate, the day turned out just the way it was meant to be. I couldn't have planned a better day.
And it all started because we went to see a bad movie.
You may not believe it,
but here's how it happened ...
One cold winters day,
our little cat scratched.
Because of that scratch,
we went to the vet.
Because of that vet,
we found our cat had fleas (we assume our dog too).
Because of those fleas,
I vacuumed every nook and cranny.
Because of that vacuuming,
I found black mold in my room.
Because of that mold,
I called the inspector.
Because the inspector got called,
he noticed our windows.
Because he checked out our windows,
he recommended replacement.
Because of his recommendation,
Our new windows got approved.
Because of our new windows,
I started painting.
Because I started painting,
I just couldn't stop.
Because I couldn't stop,
I painted everything outside, on our lot.
Because everything looked so new,
I started inviting.
Because I started inviting
we had many friends and family gather.
Because of those gatherings,
my heart swelled with joy.
And that started something I'll never forget
and as far as I know, it is going on yet.
And that's how it happened,
that's how it all hatched.
Because, just because ...
our little cat scratched.
(P.S. The 'inspector' mentioned is part of a wonderful, wonderful program which has
allowed us to get a lot of water drainage issues (our driveway, for one!), among other things
repaired (see story above).
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I have always said that the best way to appreciate the job that you have, is to actively seek a new one.
I read through the lists of responsibilities and qualifications. It was somewhat daunting. It is hard to think of the reality of stepping out of my comfort zone (home) of the past 12 years, back to the world of full-time work and hours that are dictated, learning a new job and working within a group of people I don't know ...
I bravely hit the "Send" button on the job that I could apply for online and I hand delivered my second resume.
I talked to the person who would be in charge of hiring when I dropped off my resume. Not an interview - just a conversation. I went into my auto pilot mode where I 'am who I am'. I didn't underplay or overplay myself. I have a good, solid foundation of knowledge, I learn quickly and I work hard. But there will be a learning curve.
Do I really want to hear back from these employers?
Part of me is up to the challenge of seeking out new horizons. I need the hands on experience that working in an office can provide. One job is part time (which would be ideal because then I could still juggle the jobs that I currently have). The other job is full time and it would be a huge undertaking.
But 'what if' I was offered the full time job? 'What if' the pay, the benefits, the guaranteed holidays and a stable pay cheque made me waver in my resolve to work from home and have the flexibility to make my own hours? 'What if' ...
I know that if my current pay cheque was stable and reliable, I wouldn't even be looking. Maybe all I need is another 'offer on the table' to resell myself to my current employer and regain some financial security.
I have been treated very well by my current employer. No matter what, it is my intent to keep working for them in whatever capacity I can (if I was to get another job offer).
What do I need? I need financial stability.
What do I want? I want to work from home and to have the ability to have flexibility in my work schedule, so that I am not 'all work and no play'.
What can I do to control my own destiny? I can explore other options. I can talk honestly with my current employer. I can continue to look for other work that I can do from my home. I can send out my resume and see what happens.
I've tossed the dice. They just haven't stopped rolling yet. I had to do something. If only, to spur me into to fighting for what I already have, and making it work for me.
Yes ... there is no better way to appreciate what you have, than to take the initiative to make a change. Whether it is a struggling relationship, a change of jobs, buying a new house or packing up and leaving everything behind ... is it better to work with what you already have? Or is it better to sacrifice it all and start anew?
Starting fresh sounds good ... but I know that I love the sense of security that 'history' provides. I needed to do something to fight for what I need. I've taken one step. Now, I just have to take another ...
I may not be in control of my destiny, but I can open a few doors and see where they lead.
Friday, July 23, 2010
I'm glad that I don't have to know the answer to that because I have been blessed with one of the best Big Sisters this world has to offer.
My sister has always had the uncanny ability to know what I was feeling. I didn't have to say a word ... and she knew. For a young child who didn't voice a lot of what I felt, my world was a much better place because I knew my sister understood me.
The nine years that separate my sister and me have all but vanished. Her youngest child is two years younger than My Oldest. Being parents definitely helps to bridge the gap, but we became something far beyond co-conspirators in parenting. We became friends.
Conversation comes easy. We laugh, we confide, we share and we care. I look around and know that I am not the only lucky one ... her children, her friends, the rest of her family ... we are all blessed.
So I'll write about what I enjoy the most. Dancing!
Last night was 'dance night'. This is the first time in forever, that I had an excess amount of time before my lesson. I was waiting and watching the clock for the better part of the afternoon, as I counted down the hours.
I actually practiced! I found some Samba music and tried to incorporate bits and snatches of my routine to the beat of the music. I turned on the music and tried to work on the little bit of technique that should be habit by now.
By the time my lesson rolled around, my head was into the dance. It made my lesson feel ever so much more productive. I know that I have far to go, but I took a few steps in the right direction yesterday.
At the moment, my budget is looking very, very scary and I'm wondering what corners to cut. Dancing? Socializing with the friends I've made at the dance studio? I've often justified the high cost of dancing by the fact that I don't have a social life. Now? I seem to have a little of each. What is a girl to do??
There is only one solution. Cut back on groceries! A girl's gotta dance, doesn't she?!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Due to road construction and pre-rush hour traffic, we had much more time to chat than I had originally intended. Our (usual) 20 minute drive took 40 minutes. Much of the excess 20 minutes was spent saying "Oh no! I should have taken a different route" ... or a count down until movie time.
The movie choices were "Marmaduke" or "Shrek". Personally, I would have chosen "Shrek" but I was okay with either option. They were both awarded '3 Stars' by the local movie goers. My Youngest chose "Marmaduke" and since our trip to the theatre took an extra 20 minutes, we would have been late for "Shrek". "Marmaduke" it was ...
I wasn't expecting much from this movie. But it was so much worse than I had imagined. My Youngest was not impressed ... possibly if he had been four years old, there would have been some value. Then again, if he had been an infant he would have slept right through it and enjoyed it just as much. It was bad.
We didn't have to rush home, so we decided to follow through pre-ordering a video game that My Youngest wanted. It was quick and easy ... until I asked the selling price after our transaction was complete. It was going to end up costing almost $13.00 more than it would cost to order it over the Internet. We could have saved our time by calling first. So we cancelled the order and we were back to where we started before we walked in the door.
I suggested that we stop and have supper at the mall or else pick something up to take home. Neither of us were very hungry after snacking on popcorn at the movie, so when My Youngest suggested New York Fries, it sounded perfect. In no time, our fries were ready and we decided to eat them in the car on the way home. Bad choice. The fries were undercooked and just bordered on being edible. They were soggy, grease laden and just ... not good. But we were already headed home when we discovered this, so we couldn't easily go back to ask for some properly cooked fries.
It was the most unperfect end to an unperfect afternoon.
I spent almost $30 to watch a very bad movie, snacks (the popcorn was good) and soggy fries. I could have stayed home to work and earned $45.00 in that same time frame (Note: I did my work in the evening instead ... you've gotta love that flexibility!).
It seems that almost any time we try to see a movie on any day other than Sunday, we end up with this kind of result.
A movie on any day but Sunday ... just isn't the same.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Answer: "Write one page a day ..."
The undertaking of organizing the family history memories that I have collected to date feels onerous at times. Because I didn't keep up with it as I went along.
I have notepads full of transcribed conversations. I have masses of reference material from various sources. I have photocopied information. At the moment, I am in the process of putting it all together.
I feel like a child who is placed in the middle of a room full of toys and clutter, that I have been told to clean up. Shoving things out of sight is not the answer. Finding the correct spot for all that has accumulated is what I need to do.
I have been tackling the mess that I have created. A day here and a day there. Yesterday, I worked at it until the phone rang and I had paid work to contend with.
This morning, I have a minimum of two days of bookkeeping work waiting to be done. The family history project will be put to the side once again.
But then ... I read a blog this morning that told me what I needed to hear. "Write one page a day ..."
Writing anything is better than writing nothing.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
This spilled over to other things. I don't like coming home to a messy house. I don't like devoting a day to doing all of the mundane household chores that could be taken care of, just by keeping on top of things. It's an energy-drain. So in my role of New Mom and Homemaker, I also kept the house in a state of readiness. I find it relaxing when I don't have a zillion small things that are staring me in the face and should be done.
Then came the Daycare Days. When I worked outside of my home, I kept my work area in a state of readiness at all times. Organized, supplies replenished as soon as they were running low, easy access to what I used most ... our entire house became 'my desk'. Obsessive compulsive would most likely be the best words to describe the routine, order and systems I had in place to keep things running like a well oiled machine.
In most things I do, I create order so that life runs smoothly. I love living in a state of readiness. It energizes and relaxes me at the same time.
And so begins My New Life. Days where (apparently!!) I have no idea what is in store (I hope this changes soon). Days where I could have work piled along the walls to contend with. Days where I'm waiting on the work. Days where I could get called in on a moments notice to do some 'casual typing'. Days where I have no idea what is in store. How do I get myself into that 'state of readiness' that I've come to know and expect in my life?
#1 - I shall continue to get up early and go through my morning paces as if I expect the day to be consumed with work.
#2 - I shall ready myself so that I can walk out the door at a moments notice. I may get a call to work. I may get a call that I can go and pick up some work. I will be ready.
#3 - I shall have a back up plan. No more sitting, waiting and wasting days. Weekdays shall be earmarked for work. If the work isn't here, I shall work on my family history project. I will maintain a work schedule even if it isn't work I get paid for.
#4 - Weekends will be different. I shall differentiate between work schedules and 'play' time. Time where I can spend mindless hours following my whims.
#5 - I will be flexible. The goal of my New Life is to allow the flexibility of getting my work done in such a manner that I can still stop and have that cup of coffee with someone; go out for lunch with a friend; take care of appointments during the day. My workload will revolve around a little bit of 'living'. Balance.
I woke up this morning not knowing what the day has in store. I have promised myself that this will not be a wasted day. I will work on my family history project until I am interrupted with a paying proposition.
I will remain in 'a state of readiness' and be ready for whatever the day has in store.
Monday, July 19, 2010
I've read and I believe that you must see a clear goal. Know exactly what you want. Be specific. Set time lines and state exactly what you want to achieve. Don't worry about the ''how do I get form here to there". Know where you want to be and the middle part - from 'here' to 'there', will work itself out.
Have faith. Believe. Don't let the negative self talk detract from where you want to be.
Yes, I talk the talk ... but this past week, it has been harder to walk the walk.
This new life is not going exactly as I had planned. The work isn't there. I'm ready and waiting for work and the work doesn't come. I have wasted more time this past week, as I live in a state of flux. The month is ticking by and I haven't been working. I have bills to pay and just a fraction of the pay cheque that I am accustomed to, coming in at the end of the month. And that potential pay cheque keeps shrinking with each day that the work doesn't come.
It has been uncomfortable. But in reality, it hasn't been that long. The first two weeks of the month, I was not in full-time-work-mode. I finished school on Wednesday of last week. It has only been four days. But it is all of the days that I was geared up and ready, but didn't have the work to do. It is the fact that I only have a finite amount of days left in the month to earn what I need to pay the bills. It is knowing that this is the way it has always been with this job. Why did I expect it to change?
I kept telling myself "Give it a month", "Remain positive ... it will work out ... it always works out in the end", "Keep believing, keep positive, don't let the negative in". But I was losing faith.
I am planning a holiday adventure of a lifetime for next summer. It's a year away. I am going to find a way to go no matter what. I am meeting up with a long-time friend and we are going to have a reunion to remember. My finances are in a very scary state at the moment, but that is not standing in the way of my plan. I am going.
I received an email from this friend last night. She sounded so eager and excited. I read it and I tried to feel it too. I searched the Internet for ideas for this upcoming holiday and I got swept away. But I couldn't reply immediately. I couldn't share her excitement.
I woke up this morning and took control of my day.
I remembered that there was some work that I could work on for my bookkeeping job. I worked at that until I hit a wall. Then I called my boss and asked for more work. She is also stuck between a rock and a hard place, but I knew there were other things that I could be working on until such time that the flood gates open on all the work that has been on hold. She emailed me some information so that I could go ahead with what I was working on. I could move forward.
At this point, I was in the mindset to reply to my excited friend. I was in the middle of replying to her email telling her that due to my present financial state of disrepair, I wasn't quite in the place to mirror her excitement. But I was still planning on going to see her. No matter what. I was going to be there. I was certain that the excitement would come, but it just wasn't quite 'here' yet ...
Then the phone rang.
I sent out a resume 6 months ago. One resume for a casual typing position. It was a resume sent off before I took my 'Job Search and Resume Writing' course. It was a resume sent when I was mid-way through my studies. It was a resume written on a lot of hope, past experience and a good work ethic. It was a promise of what I hoped I could be.
When I didn't receive a call after that resume went out, I chalked it up to experience. I never did delete the email that I sent along with it. I thought that I would follow up one day and ask for their advice as what I could do to 'sell myself' for the next time.
Well? That resume landed me a job today. They needed someone to come in immediately to type up three documents. I was in their office within 20 minutes of that phone call. I worked for 4 1/2 hours. I made enough of an impression that he promised that he had lots of work and he would definitely call me if I was interested.
Was I interested?!?! You betcha! Opportunity was knocking. And I was home to answer the call.
Was this part of the ''how'' to get from "A" to "B"? Not specifically. But as it has been in this quest to gain control of the direction my life is headed, I'm open to any and all opportunities. A casual typing position today, working with a businessman/lawyer could lead to any number of unknown opportunities. And if nothing else, it can definitely pave the way to my Next Holiday Adventure.
My faith was wavering. It was being tested. I was holding out, but it was not easy. And I was rewarded.
Never give up.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I was curious to find out who I wrote like, so I copied and pasted several different blog posts to this analytical tool and had them analyzed.
I write like: Arthur C. Clarke; Dan Brown; David Foster Wallace; and Margaret Mitchell.
After much consideration, I have decided that "I Write Like ... Me". And I'm okay with that.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Locking the door and closing the blinds at the end of my 'Daycare Day' was the first time that I noticed the rituals that I subconsciously created within my mind. That small but powerful signal to my brain signified that I was closed for business.
I create the tone for each and every day by the small things that I do when I wake up.
If I need to be conscious of time or routine, I'll put on my watch. If I want to create a day of leisure, I leave my watch on the bathroom counter.
The kitchen blinds are opened as soon as I work my way to the kitchen to make coffee and my morning smoothie. Opening the kitchen blinds signify that I'm up and ready to face the world.
If I want a day to myself, the living room blinds stay closed (okay, they also stay closed to keep the excessive heat from the sun out of the living room). If I'm really in a funk, the kitchen blinds remain shut as well.
Coffee = break time; friendship; conversation; stimulation. Is it the taste of coffee that I enjoy? Or is it what it triggers in my mind?
Climbing into my pj's is my own personal celebration of the end of another day. No matter what kind of day I have had, there is a peace that washes over me when I slip into the clothes I will wear when my head hits the pillow.
As I enter a new phase of my working life from home, I'm eager to set some new triggers that will inspire and motivate my subconscious mind into a 'Day Well Spent'. It's only been two days into this new full time work from home venture. I'm eager for this new life to become routine.
Friday, July 16, 2010
I am a follower by nature. A leader by design. In the early stages of dancing, I cringed in fear as I was delegated to lead out of necessity.
But in the beginner group class, I have had the comfort factor of learning the lead from the elementary stages. It's been a good experience.
Over time, I have had the ability to absorb some of the basics. The steps, the rotation, a few of the dance patterns ... but the one thing that I have yet to master, is truly leading. I am a wimpy lead. Nothing is solid or firm and my partner doesn't feel like I'm in control.
It's funny how one part of life translates into another. I have been finding many parallels within my life that equate to 'leading'.
I used to be a person that sat at home and waited for life to happen. I took little control over my own destiny and followed the path of least resistance. I did what had to be done, took care of my young family and in the time that was left over ... I sat around and waited for 'life' to come knocking at my door. I was a follower.
Something has changed within me over the course of time. I have taken the reins and I'm living my life intentionally. I'm making decisions. I've learned a lot and one of the most valuable lessons that I've retained is that if I'm unhappy with a situation I have no right to sit and belly ache about it, if there is something that I can do to change it.
This epiphany served me well in my daycare career. I became comfortable dealing with uncomfortable situations when the alternative was feeling like people were taking advantage of me. I was yet to be 'taking the lead' ... but I was 'taking control' of my life. It was a ground breaking transition into the person I wanted to become.
Lately, I have taken that a step further. I am taking the lead.
I am initiating get-togethers. I am approaching family members (and beyond) to help me put together a book of memories about my dad's family. I am actually picking up the phone and calling people (this is still one of my biggest challenges and I'm still working to overcome it). I've changed the direction of my career. I have become an active participant in my own life and I'm inviting people to join me in the adventure.
Last night, at our group dance class I had a melt down of a minor proportion. I was (once again) in the lead position and was fortunate to be dancing with someone who followed not only what I was leading ... but what I was feeling. The unfortunate part was, that I was feeling a lot of uncertainty. My partner followed every move that I made and every move that I considered making. She apologized but I reassured her that she was following me perfectly ... she picked up on the half-leads, the late-leads, the non-leads and even (a few) actual leads as I tried to incorporate a pattern into a basic step we had just learned.
Why did I become so frustrated with the knowledge that I was not an effective 'leader'? Most likely because I was messing up a lot ... but the bigger picture is that this wimpy lead carries into my life outside of the dance studio as well.
Yes ... I do try and take the initiative gatherings of family, friends and acquaintances. Yes ... I did take control of the direction of my career. Yes ... I do take the lead in my day to day life. But what do I do after that? Just like on the dance floor ... I become indecisive and wishy washy. There is very much a "Now what?" feeling that overtakes me when I get myself into a new situation.
Yesterday, I put in seven hours of mind-numbing work at my bookkeeping job. I tidied up my work and walked away and I didn't feel an ounce of satisfaction from the job that I had just completed. What have I done? I took control. This is my new life. And ... "now what"??
I had just enough time to dust myself off and get ready for my dance lesson. The uncertainty of where I'm at carried right on to the dance floor. I feel sorry for my partners who most definitely felt my "now what" vibes.
Yes, I'm taking the lead. It's a frightening prospect. But the satisfaction of facing one's fears is that it becomes part of the person you are growing into becoming.
My mini-meltdown at the dance studio consisted of a rush of words saying, "Yes! It's all my fault. I know it. It's not anyone else but me ... I'm doing it wrong!"
This is part of the learning curve. Taking the lead means taking responsibility. I'm responsible for where I'm at and the decisions I make. I'm just in the middle of a transitional phase at the moment and not too comfortable in my shoes. Yet. But it will come. Of this, I am certain (after some minor adjustments).
I apologize to anyone who was harmed in the process of the 'lessons learned' in the making of this blog post.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
It wasn't quite like that, though it could have been if I didn't push myself a little out of the person I used to be.
I liked the sound of the "exit interview". I thought it would be an encouraging pep talk and a mutual gathering of information from the student's and the school's perspective. It wasn't. It was to complete one form and sign another. If I didn't have student loans it would have felt even less official.
I was glad that there wasn't a feeling of rushing the process. We sat and talked after my two forms were completed. We talked a little bit about school but a lot about life (the focus quickly shifted to my 'memory gathering' process as it often does when I tell people what my next project is).
I handed in my final assignment. It took a painstaking amount of work, frustration and reaching into the recesses of my brain to come up with the 'final answer'. I was determined to make it perfect. I didn't want to leave any stone unturned. I questioned my work, double checked it and when I handed it in, I was confident it was the 'answer' they were looking for.
Apparently, this final trial balance of the company which I have been painstakingly working on is simply filed. A copy gets sent to the head office of the school. A copy remains in my file. The act of handing in these final two sheets of paper will be rewarded with "complete" as my final mark.
Complete!?! I worked hard and wanted to earn "perfection" ... my final 100%. That was my goal.
But as it is in life, the true satisfaction comes from doing the best job that you are capable of doing. It's rewarding to see percentages mark your progress. It's a way of competing against yourself. It's that mark of progress and accomplishment.
Even if I had known that no human eye would care what answers that final assignment contained, it wouldn't have changed a thing.
I learned so much by completing that last assignment with every part of my being, working towards that perfect mark. Yes, I could have taken shortcuts and faked my way through. But the only person that I would have cheated would have been myself.
Part of the learning curve is struggling, making errors and finding out how to correct those errors. Throughout my career, I have stated that I should be the smartest person around, if you learn from your mistakes. If there is a way to do something wrong, that is usually the first route I take. It takes a second to make a mistake ... and it can take hours to find and correct it. Those are the lessons you remember.
Perfection is a good goal, but I prefer to take the long route. I learn something every time I err.
Whether it's school or real life ... I usually take the longest route to the ideal goal that I am seeking. It's not about the destination. It's the journey that counts.
Which is possibly why I was a little bit sad as I walked out of the school today. I enjoyed every step of this journey. I attained my goal of completing my course but it has me looking ahead. Where do I go from here? What else can I learn to make this journey through life an adventure?
The exit interview was only the first step to my next new beginning.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Is it too much? Is it because I have to leave the house? Is it because I haven't dug in and started something? Or am I just lazy?
My best answer is "a little of each".
School. I've enjoyed it. As one of my fellow students rushed up to talk with me before I left yesterday to tell me some of her news, I thought "I'm going to miss this." I looked around the room and was comforted by the number of familiar faces that surrounded me. I like being in a place of learning. There is an energy that revives me within that building.
Work. I have work. A total of five boxes of work. Once I get started, I am not sure how long it will take to finish up the task at hand. My boss is sure that I'll be finished quicker than she expects me to be. I look at the unopened boxes and sigh. But once opened, the work gets done. One step at a time.
Flexibility. That is my life. When I was fighting with myself to get up and mobile, I realized that I didn't have to get up if I didn't want to. There was nothing stopping me from going to school an hour later than I had planned. I could do what I wanted. I discovered that I wanted to be at school at 8:00 a.m. The sooner you start something, the sooner you finish.
Leaving the house on time will ensure that I make the most of this day. If I didn't have to leave, I could easily putter an hour away. A lost hour when I could be accomplishing something (that I actually get paid to do) seems like a waste. So I will leave on schedule.
And now? I move forward. One step at a time.
Monday, July 12, 2010
All weekend, I was up with the birds. I knew that I didn't have bookkeeping to work on, but that opened the door for me to finally work on my family history project. Finally! I didn't work feverishly, but I worked at a steady pace and I've finally got myself motivated to put all of my research together in one cohesive unit. Slow but steady wins the race. But you must start the race to win it. I have started.
Then there was this morning.
I should be at school right now. But I didn't want to leave the house in case there was some bookkeeping work to be dropped off this morning. So I wasted an hour this morning, hitting the snooze button every ten minutes.
I finally got up and slowly met the day that was before me. I was frustrated because my energy should/could be in about three different places today. The first step is getting up. Then what?
Then ... I picked up the phone and asked about my work. Would any be dropped off? Could I pick it up? And the answer was a resounding ''Yes!"
Ahhh. Some work is available and ready to tackle. All of a sudden I was energized. I could go to school ... then pick up my work ... and then meet up with some friends for lunch. I was back in control.
At 6:00 a.m., I woke up to a day that was adrift with could/would/should have's. By 8:00 a.m., all of that was replaced with a purpose. My lackadaisical mood was instantly transformed by making one phone call.
And now ... I can carry on with my day!
Sunday, July 11, 2010
When you have too much time on your hands, you don't appreciate it and it goes to waste.
When you have too little time and too much to do, you can move mountains ... but in most cases it causes a great amount of stress because you are trying to juggle too much at the expense of your health and peace of mind.
Then there is the 'Goldilocks Time Zone'. The place where you have just the right amount of time at your disposal. That place where you have just enough to do, that you feel a happy/healthy amount of pressure.
I need to feel a small amount of angst and stress to force me to work at my optimal pace. It's a tricky balance though, because you can waver in that place of too much or too little and things don't work out just quite right.
Life has been idyllic for me for the past long while. Once I adapted and knew what to expect from my school life, I worked around it and made it work for me. Life was good. It was very, very good. My goal was to incorporate that balance into my next work-from-home goal.
It seemed that I was to succeed with that goal. I am officially working at my 'perfect' job. Working out of my home, setting my own hours and pace and I have the flexibility to work my job around my life. Perfection. Right?
I hope so.
This past week has been a transitional one. A week where I wasn't officially available for full-time work. A week where I was available to do the beginning-of-the-month-work that I've come to know and expect. It was also a week where I had the flexibility to do extra work. But when the work didn't come when I hoped and expected it would ... I did nothing.
I sat in limbo. I waited. I wasted time because I didn't want to get started on another project only to be interrupted by work. I wasn't in the GTZ (Goldilocks Time Zone).
Doing nothing is most uninspiring.
I opened a book but I couldn't concentrate to read it. I turned on a movie that I had little interest in watching and fell asleep. Exhaustion ruled the day. The couch called my name and I answered. I filled myself up on junk food. When they say 'you are what you eat', they are right. I felt like crap (excuse my harsh language).
I did utilize my idle time to ensure that I booked up enough of my free time so that I won't continue waste my days ... next week. I have made plans with friends. I have initiated a 'question of the week' to promote some family input into my dad's family history project. I have propelled myself back into a must-do-something mode.
I am feeling a small amount of angst within as I waver between the perfect time zone that I created when I balanced school/work/kids/family/and friends into my life. This new zone is uncharted territory. I have a vision of what I aspire my 'new life' to be. I'm determined to find my new GTZ.
I'm certain that finding that perfect time/stress zone is the key to contentment. No one should be overworked, overtired and stressed out all of the time. On the flip side, there is little reward or satisfaction to not having enough to do ... enough to push you to a place where you feel "Ahhh ... that was a good day!" ... enough so that you sleep well at night.
As our lives change and evolve, I think it's good to keep searching for that perfect balance. A balance of work/play/family/friends/and time to rejuvenate yourself. The ratios are ever changing. But when you find a mix that feels just right, settle yourself in and enjoy it. Find your inner 'Goldilocks'!
Saturday, July 10, 2010
"... But here - she sighed - out there and upstairs, there was nothing of hers. She felt for the first time in her life the danger of other people's things - how they might erase her if she weren't careful ..."
I closed the book and wandered through our home. A home filled with permanence, history and a story unto itself.
I don't crave material 'stuff'. Sure, I like to have things that are serviceable for my needs. I buy what we need (and want). I replace that which is broken (and can't be fixed). Our home doesn't look neglected. But when I wander through our home, I can find a little piece of history in every room.
Our kitchen is furnished with a table and chair set that my parents bought before I was born. The table has been refurbished and the chairs have been reupholstered several times. But the original table and chairs are still standing and completely serviceable to this day. Our kitchen also houses a bench that my dad made.
Mom sent many of her belongings along with us as we tried to 'fill a moving van' with enough to start a new life when we moved out here 22 1/2 years ago. She started us off on our new beginning with not only the table and chairs, but a myriad of many other furnishings which are not only serviceable, but hold a memory or a story.
Many of the belongings in our home are old and refurbished. Mom sanded down and refinished a wooden mirror frame; a dresser and a book shelf that we had, before we moved into the house we live in right now. I painted a dresser that my aunt and uncle donated to us when our belongings were scarce.
Pictures of my family and a picture of our farm adorn the china cabinet.
It is the memories, the people and the history of our family that I cherish. Crystal and bone china hold little significance to me. That which is useful, serviceable and holds a piece of history are much finer gifts to hold onto.
As I read the last lines of Chapter 4 of "The Postmistress", something inside of me awoke to the knowledge that I am rich beyond words. I am surrounded by history. Not only in the belongings that a find strewn throughout our home ... but in the memories ... and in the family that I find myself drawn to, more and more each day.
It is my goal to encapsulate a piece of our family's history between the covers of a book. It has been a gift to wander through the country side and collect these most special trinkets of information which each family member holds within.
It is time to organize these memories and put them together so that I can share that gift with the rest of the family.
Shared history and finding a little piece of myself within a family member that I didn't even know brings me such a sense of 'belonging'. I have never felt more grounded than I do right now.
The material belongings that surround me can be taken away. The memories? This feeling inside of me? They are here to stay.
I am building a life on the person that I have become. So much of who I am, is based on 'history'. I am beyond grateful that my history has given me wings to fly. I know that I am blessed.
And then I woke up.
As my conscious mind caught up to the unreality of my dream I remembered: I don't babysit anymore! I didn't do anything wrong! I didn't forget!
A weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I don't babysit anymore!
Friday, July 9, 2010
The holiday budget was nil this year. Even though I've had a few windfalls that eased the financial worries, my new reality is that I have worked my way back to the "working poor" status. I've been here before. It's not unfamiliar. But it's a world where I must respect my financial limitations.
My Youngest and I went on what most people consider a 'real vacation' last year. We travelled new roads, we saw new sights, we played tourist and spent a grand total of four whole nights in a hotel. We wound that up with an additional three nights at my mom's. My Youngest was so glad to get home, that the idea of going on a holiday isn't high on his priority list. Not this year, anyway.
My entire holiday itinerary consisted of a few gatherings at my house and to go out to Mom's. End of plan. It was a perfect way to go. Think small, do small and be happy with whatever happens.
Week #1 of my holidays was basically to consist of:
- No school
- No bookkeeping
- No housework
- No dancing (!?!)
- No babysitting
I attained 100% success with the goals set out before me.
Week #2 was to ease back into reality. There are certain beginning-of-the-month tasks that must be done in my bookkeeping job. I asked if it was okay if I was available to work on the work that must be done for this week, and I would immerse myself into this new full-time role of bookkeeper next week.
So I have worked approximately 'half time' this week. Long enough to accomplish what must be done. Long enough to help my pay cheque at the end of the month. Long enough to appreciate the end of my short work day. Long enough ...
I went to my dance lesson last night. I was ill prepared and unpracticed (nothing new there), but my goal is to devote more time to practicing before my lesson. My instructor works with what he has, but we would accomplish so much more, if I worked at honing a few of the skills on my own. Last night was fun and easy. It was good enough ...
I have been cooking. Holidays equals 'no cooking' in my world. But this second week of half-holiday/half-work, plus the fact that I must be careful with my spending has equated into home-cooked-meals. It hasn't been awful. It's been pretty good, as a matter of fact ...
I have been mapping out the weeks ahead of me. Tentative plans have been made with several people. Something to anticipate. I find that I work harder and accomplish more, when I have to work around other commitments in my life. My heart is already pumping with anticipation as I see what is unfolding in my life next week. How will I accomplish all that I need to do and still have time for the fun stuff? Oh! Where there is a will, there is a way.
My new life is to be one of flexibility. I have a job, expectations and hours that I must log. But I can work my job around my life, instead of working my life around my job.
There is much to be done in my new full-time job. I believe that there is more work, than there is time in the day (at least for now, and probably for the next year or so). I anticipate that I will work harder than I've worked in a very long time. But the reward, is the fact that I am in control of the hours that I work. I can put in my hours however and whenever I want ... as long as the work gets done. This is exactly what I asked for.
I'm easing back into the real world and into my new reality. This second week of 'holiday-to-work-transition' has been a good one. I hope I'm ready for what's ahead
Thursday, July 8, 2010
It's always a catchy melody that grabs my attention. Music that strikes a chord in my heart and in my soul. Fun and peppy ... deep and resonating in my heart ... something that makes you want to dance ... something that makes you feel. Yes, it's the 'physical attraction'.
Then come the lyrics. I love when the words tell a story that touches my world.
I have recently stumbled onto Internet radio. Our local FM radio stations were a thorn in my side. Too many advertisements, too much talking and finally when the music would start to play, it was an annoying cacophony of notes and words that assaulted my senses. I preferred the quietness of my thoughts over the brash 'music' that eventually hit the radio waves.
I turned off the radio in the car several years ago. My Son gave me a CD player for Christmas shortly thereafter. I burned a few CD's with some of my musical favorites and played them over and over again in the car. Once again, silence was sometimes the music of choice after hearing the same songs for the bazillionth time.
My discovery of an Internet radio station that plays 'my kind of music' all day long, with precious few moments that aren't musically inclined has broadened my horizons. I love that music is once again touching my world in new and improved ways. My own music collection is benefiting from a new selection of songs.
Then I watched the movie "Music and Lyrics". I love the quote about the magical quality of the combination of the music and lyrics. It's exactly how I feel. I just hadn't put the thought to words.
I love when a movie can do that for me.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Where do I begin?
June 25th. That was the last day that my school was open (it closes for a two week summer vacation). Even though I'm approximately one day away from completing the last course that I need to earn my diploma, I couldn't do it on June 25th. I had logged my school hours for the week (and then some), so I had the choice to focus on other things that day. For sanity's sake, I fully believe that I made the best choice - not to focus on school that day.
June 25th. The last day of school for the kids. The last of the school supplies and excessive paperwork came home. The report card came home. I read it. Once. It is clipped to the side of the fridge so that I can look at it again. Someday.
June 25th. My last day of babysitting. Perhaps ... for forever. I did a little checking yesterday and I will be losing money, if I babysit the one child that needs me for one hour before school next fall. I'm seriously considering abandoning ship. More research is required. But June 25th? My last day of babysitting? Completely uncelebrated and unacknowledged. The end of my daycare career went out with as little fan fare as it received when I started.
June 25th. The first night of 'Dance Camp'. Three hours of dance lessons (thankfully with a short break after each hour). We focused on the Waltz, the Tango and the Foxtrot. Oh ... my aching feet. My favorite part of the whole evening? Getting to visit with all of the people that don't normally come out to the group dance classes. I felt like a kid. "My favorite part was recess!" My brain stops working when my feet start hurting. So I absorbed approximately 45 minutes of knowledge out of a total of 180 available minutes of dance education.
Then came the next day:
June 26th. The second day of 'Dance Camp'. This time, it was three hours of dance lessons (Cha Cha, Rumba and Swing), followed by a pot luck supper ... at my house. I cleaned nooks and crannies that haven't been cleaned since our cat had fleas, in preparation for my company. I got obsessive about things I wanted to do and organize before my guests arrived (thus, I didn't go to school on the 25th). And it was worth the effort.
I loved having people gather in my home. Loved it! It took a while before I sat back and just relaxed ... but once I did, I savored every moment. It is great to have the opportunity to get to know my dance acquaintances outside of the dance studio. It was symbolic to open my home and life to these new friendships. My world feels bright and shiny and new, as I take steps to know people and let them know a piece of me.
June 27th and 28th. Time to rest, appreciate and absorb the events of the weekend past. It was wonderful. I did question my ability to function as a human being as I lost my train of thought in mid sentence, jumbled up words when I spoke, lost the car (and My Youngest) in a parking lot and other miscellaneous things. But it felt very good to stop for a few days and catch my breath. Because ...
June 29th, I had my cousins over for supper/the evening. It was a quiet and laid back visit. Initially, I had sent out an invitation asking who may be interested in getting together to collect memories for the family history book that I'm compiling. There wasn't much feedback on that idea, so we just visited and caught up with each other's current lives instead. Very enjoyable.
June 30th - we headed off to visit my mom. No predetermined plans once we got there. It was a play it by the moment kind of holiday. Normally when I go to Mom's, we do a fair bit of gallivanting. Between trying to visit old friends and taking My Youngest a few places to entertain him, we bounce in and out of Mom's doors a lot. Not this time. My Youngest packed his X-Box and was content to stay put. I went out one evening with a friend. But the rest of the time? Mom and I visited. We reminisced about family history ... we talked about many things (in a light and easy way). We didn't dwell on anything negative, worrisome or serious for any length of time. The visit was to be of the 'feel-good' variety. And it was.
July 4th. We returned home. We walked in the door at 5:30 and I was back out the door by 6:00. I had supper with My Oldest and then we came home and had a long overdue one-on-one chat. It was perfect. My cousin's wife dropped by after My Oldest left. It was 10:00 before I locked the door and I was alone.
July 5th. I went out for an all-morning coffee with my Second Son. I came home and called my sister. I wasn't ready to return to my regularly scheduled life quite yet. So I lingered somewhere in limbo between holidays and reality that day. It was a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
July 6th - yesterday. Back to the real world. I had statements to work on for my bookkeeping job. I put in a 6 1/2 hour work day. I made supper. I sent off a handful of emails to people I wanted to 'talk' to. I talked to a friend on the phone. I ended the day by falling asleep in front of the TV set. Ahhh ... reality.
I love my reality. The past weeks have been fun, but if I didn't have this routine life to return back to I would be lost.
My routine life is undergoing some change. It will be interesting to see what the next months have in store, as I focus on one job. I wonder what energy I will have in me at the end of the day and the end of the week. Where will I divert the excess time?
Almost every email that I sent out yesterday was initiating a gathering of friends or a one-on-one visit with someone. Somehow, I have a feeling that my time will be filled with people and activities that fuel me.
I am excited about what life has in store. I feel like I'm on the cusp of a new beginning. I have time in my life to allow new life into it. I have a little piece of happy within me. And as I told my mom, "I just feel a little bit happier every day!"
Life just doesn't get any better than this ... or does it? Stay tuned!
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. I've been on the go. I've been around people. I've had people gather in my home. I've been on a short holiday. I've been so busy living my life, that I haven't had those peaceful, quiet moments to sit and write.
I drove for five hours and thoughts of the weeks that preceded that very moment came wafting back to me. Happy little thoughts. Words, people, special moments, thought provoking conversations, the laughter, the tears, the friendship and family.
I didn't turn on any music as I drove. I just listened to the memories as they came to mind.
It was the best conversation that I didn't have.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I have a very hard time letting go of things that I think that I just may need again one day. More often than not, when I go through the house, what I do is shuffle my belongings.
I tidy things up, bring forward the items that I use all of the time and store the less used items in another spot.
I throw away a little, I donate a little and I sell a little. But I keep a lot.
My Son is not the same as me. When he cleans ... he cleans out. I knew the garage needed that. I closed my eyes and let him go. He tried to explain what he was doing and why, but I had to just let it go. Trust him. Trust that he knew what had to stay.
He did a wonderful job. The garage is completely decluttered and it feels amazing.
He also cleaned out the playhouse and sorted through the masses of toys that I have out there from my daycare 'career'. I look at the shelves of toys in that playhouse. I look at the spare bedroom that is filled to capacity with toys. There are high chairs and playpens lined up in the basement. There are toys in the shelving unit in the living room.
Then there is my bedroom closet. Yet another Pandora's Box that I dare not open until I'm fully rested. It is full of things that I just don't seem to want to let go of.
I thought of what I had read about needing to clean out the old, to make room for the new. Not new possessions ... but a new life.
My daycare career is history. I'm moving on. My past is my past. I'm moving on.
It's time to clean house. And make room for a new life.