Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taking a Stand

If a thought resonates in your mind long after the conversation is over, an emotional chord has been struck.

I had one such conversation a short while ago. What is normally an easy going give and take conversation, took a turn that surprised me. I felt like I was being judged ...

I avoid confrontation. This may explain a lot of turns that my life has taken. Over the course of time, I have found 'work around' solutions to issues that have needed to be dealt with.

I believe that you can make a stronger impact by first - trying to look at the situation from the other person's perspective. In almost every case, that is my knee jerk reaction.

As an employee, I looked at things from my bosses perspective. As a daycare provider, I put myself in the parent's shoes. As a friend, I empathize withe where that person is coming from. As a parent and 'partner' ... the lines tend to get fuzzier because there are many more emotions that can arise. But all in all, I feel like I try to walk a mile in another person's shoes and it keeps my reactions in line with what I expect of myself.

My first line of offense, is to try and help the other person do the same. I try to offer scenarios where they see the same situation from a different angle. More often than not, it shifts the whole dynamic of the conversation. You can feel the change as the other party takes a moment to ponder their thoughts from a new vantage point.

Quite often, it happens that a person is talking about someone else. It is so much easier to put another person down if you aren't face to face with that party. I have been fortunate to be the 'nice guy' and usually people aren't confronting me personally. So I will turn a situation into a 'what if this was me' scenario. Once again, it gives me the opportunity to subtly offer my view.

I will talk about what I've felt, how I've reacted and what I've done in parallel situations. I don't tell people what to do. I try not to give advise. I am honest in my imperfectness and appreciate the fact that every situation is different ... but it helps to let another person know that they are not alone.

But what do I do when someone tells me something that is offensive to a person who isn't there to defend themselves? Do I take a stand? Or am I just a wishy washy push over??

These thoughts have been in the fore front of my mind since that conversation. What do I do when push comes to shove? Do I do enough? Should I be more assertive? Am I a good person??

Life is a good teacher. It hands out lessons as necessary. There were a few incidents which happened in close succession to each other. Did I have time to consciously react? No. I did what I do instinctively.

In one case I said nothing. After hashing it over in my mind, I know that was the best reaction for me. The 'story' involved four people. Two of them were absent. The story could have been about me. The person relaying this little tale will never know if it was or not. Because I didn't say a word. I didn't react one way or the other. It is my belief that by saying nothing at all, my point was made louder than had I jumped on the bandwagon or took a defensive stance.

The second situation arose when there were mere seconds to respond. I chose to ignore. Once again, this specific scenario is a 'hot topic' in my mind because I have many unvoiced opinions. Taking a stand in a public place, where there were too many ears and not enough time to have a quiet discussion wasn't conducive to confronting the issue at hand. I don't like the way this person is talking about another. I have many words in my head. But I'm waiting for a time when they can be 'heard'.

I'm sure that there will be many more opportunities to find out what kind of a friend I am (do I openly take a stand for a friend who is not there to defend themselves) and if my stance on this matter requires some fine tuning.

In the meantime, I am content in knowing that I take an active stand on things that matter. If something strikes an emotional chord, watch out. That has happened a few times in my life and it's shocked the socks off a few people (possibly half the neighborhood??).

I prefer that emotions take a back seat when dealing with confrontation. But trust me ... whether you are a stranger, an acquaintance, a friend, family member or loved one ... I've got your back. I may not be a lioness waiting to attack but I'm ready to take a stand.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Horoscope for the Week of September 26th

"You'll pay attention to your routine and notice the ways in which it is lacking. There seems to be enough time to do the work you must do, but very little time to explore options and extras. And yet, it's those seemingly extraneous activites that allow you to be most creative. Adjust to make more time for them."

Been there. Doing that. I think the horoscope writer has been peeking at my blog!

Up Before the Alarm

You know it's going to be a good day when you are wide awake and ready for the day before the alarm goes off.

I have this nasty habit of waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. with a head full of words. I have habitually become accustomed to turning off my own internal dialogue by turning on the T.V. and letting someone else's words replace my own. It works like a charm.

So I get a slight thrill when I roll over to look at the clock and see the number "5" something on the clock.

Today, I woke up about 15 minutes before my alarm was due to go off. Fifteen minutes that I normally spend hitting the snooze button. But instead, I mulled over the day that I have ahead of me.

I will have to work at both of my jobs today which inspires me to get an early start on 'job #1'.

I have made a conscious decision to stop stressing about making the 160 hours-per-month goal with my bookkeeping job. I'm fighting the current on this one, so it's time to relax and just let go with the flow. I am close to my goal. That's good enough.

I know what I am cooking for supper tonight. Another great stress relief off of my plate.

I don't have to rush off after supper. I have a few hours of 'wiggle room' to do with as I please tonight. Work? Write? Practise dancing? Or simply frittering the time away. I have the ability to choose.

And I am rewarded with a dance lesson at the tail end of the day. This is always a good thing.

Today is a good balance of work, play, structure and down time. It was an easy day to get out of bed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I'm hooked. Two lessons in, four to go and much, much more in my future.

I searched the leisure guide this fall to try and find a way to get myself active. Ambition levels were at an all time low, I was exhausted and my life needed a jump start.

I used to have the motivation to get up early to work in exercise of some form. Whether it was walking the dog, delivering papers or working out to a DVD or with Wii Fit. I had the ability to get up, go and just do it.

Try as I might, all I have wanted to do with my mornings is sleep. The mere thought of getting up to get active was exhausting. So I slept some more.

My first Zumba class was last Monday. Fun! Fun! Fun!

The music was incredible. Our instructor is fun, energetic and you can see her transform in front of your eyes as the music gets into her body and soul. I like to think I'm looking in a mirror when I mimic her moves. I know I'm not ... but I'm relaxed in this class and I have the ability to loosen up and just have fun.

What I found most exciting was the wide range of ages in our group. I would guess that the ages range from 20 - 60 or more. The after-class chatter is incredible. It doesn't matter who I talk to ... everyone loves it. Age doesn't matter. We aren't making a fashion statement. No rules. Just do what you can and keep moving is the theme of that hour.

No dance partners are required. Clothing is cool, comfortable and whatever works. And the best part? The shoes!! Runners!

When my feet are happy, I'm elated. There is nothing like a comfortable pair of shoes to enhance the fun factor for me.

Yes ... ballroom dancing is fun. But the shoes? Dance shoes are my nemesis. Move over ballroom! Until I find dance shoes that feel as good as my runners, Zumba is giving you a run for your money.

"If you want to forget all your other troubles, wear too tight shoes." 
~The Houghton Line, November 1965

My favorite music to 'Zumba' to ... so far

Monday, September 27, 2010

This, That and the Other

There is no one central theme running through my mind this morning, so I'm just going to let my mind wander and see where my fingers take me ...


Sometimes you just have to walk away from something and come back at it with a fresh mind.

Computer glitches, balancing the bank book, onerous jobs, crossword puzzles, tough homework assignments ...

You name it, if it overwhelms you and you are becoming frustrated, it is worth a few minutes of your sanity to walk away from it and come back later.

Neat coincidence ... last week, in a moment of frustration about not being able to solve my problem-of-the-moment, I picked up the phone and called my sister. She wasn't home. After that short break, I sat down and solved my mystery. Where had my sister gone? She too, had decided to walk away from something she just couldn't figure out. We were sharing the experience of 'just walking away' from something (so that we could come back at it later with a fresh perspective) at the very same time, across the miles.

It's not rocket science, but I have found this to be true more often than not. The key is to come back.


You should follow through on your instincts.

I can't begin to count the number of times that I've just gone with the moment and done something without over thinking and talking myself out of it. I've run very close to a 100% success rate when I follow my instincts. Yet ... I continue to hold onto that habit. Of over thinking.

I was talking to my mom just before supper time on the weekend. As we were saying our good-byes, she asked if I'd had supper yet. I was in a whimsical mood because I wasn't responsible for anyone but 'me' on Saturday night. I thought of picking up the phone to call a friend and see if she had supper plans. But I was in the process of talking myself out of it. Who doesn't already have supper plans by 5:10 on a Saturday night? My mom's response? If she lives by herself, call her!

I called my friend immediately upon hanging up the phone with my mom. I don't even know if the phone rang one complete ring and my friend answered with a smile in her voice. After a few preliminary questions, I asked if she was busy and if she'd like to go out for supper. Well! She was just in the process of wondering what she was going to do about supper herself and was considering ordering something in. Within five minutes of our conversation, I was out the door. We had a most excellent supper and completely spontaneous visit. All because my mom encouraged me to follow through on my instincts.

Always listen to your instincts. It astounds me every time, when I call someone and they say "I was just thinking of you ..." (and the number of times someone has called me and I have been thinking of them). ESP? Coincidence? Whatever it is, it's worth the risk of dialing the phone.


Sundays are not meant to be a work day.

I worked yesterday. It was not a good day. I had trouble accomplishing things, my self esteem was in the toilet, I was sensitive, I was frustrated and I was overwhelmed.

Thankfully our family Sunday Supper forced me to stop for a moment and prepare some nourishment. The desire to just go to McDonald's (insert McDonald's theme song here - "You deserve a break today") was at an all time high.

Instinct told me - put a ham in the oven. The rest of the meal will come together.

I knew I needed to walk away from my day.

I followed my instincts. I walked away. I sat down and had supper with my family.

The 'round (rectangle) table' conversation that followed our meal was light and easy. I vented my frustrations of the day and the comment was made "For having such a bad day, you seem to be in a good mood ...". And I was. I needed to stop. I needed to vent. My adult children listened to me and diverted my attention away from things-that-really-don't-matter.

I didn't return to my work after we parted ways last night.

It should be a law! Sundays are a day of rest. A day to walk away from the week's responsibilities. A day to be guided by your whims. A day for family.


I guess I did have a central theme running through my mind after all.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Things feel a little more special when you have to work for it.

This past week, I fought hard to regain some equilibrium in my life. It came easy for a few days, I lost the battle one day, I struggled through a day but in the end ... I won. The day that I waged my own internal war and came out on top was the best day.

The past week and a half, I have been part of a dance formation team. We had 10 days and 6 dance lessons to learn our routine and be ready to perform it for the judges yesterday afternoon. New partners, new dance moves, being part of a team, knowing your own part and creating a 'oneness' within a group of 18 people has been a challenge.

It's been overwhelming, invigorating, frustrating and fun. I have gone from feeling like I'm in way over my head ... to the 'I think I can' mode ... to actually feeling like I got it ... then lost it ... and found it again.

Our instructor has been thinking forward and implanted visions of our success right from our first lesson. He has accidentally purposely imprinted the picture of us on that stage throughout.

When the official audition day was upon us and we went through our routine for the judges, I was fairly confident that we made a good impression. Did I have doubts? Yes. Was I certain we would get chosen? Sort of. Did I know how I would feel when I got the official word that we were selected? Not a bit.

Our dance team has been chosen to perform at "Ballroom With a Twist".

Was I elated? I was over the moon! I had no idea how good it would feel to know we were 'in'. I felt complete and utter joy. The joy was accentuated because we had to work for it.

Whether it's attaining a specific goal ... climbing your own personal mountains ... struggling through a crisis ... or simply getting through the day ... look for and appreciate your own personal joyful moments every chance you get.

I felt my inner child shine through as I allowed myself to savor and lose myself in those moments of joy

"Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day."
~ Henri Nouwen

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Goldilocks Zone

I have been fighting to find the "just right" balance in my life lately.

Working from home has many advantages. But one of the disadvantages is the inability to walk away, turn it off, shut the door and leave it all behind.

The work flow is unpredictable. Busy, with lots of goals and an agenda for days on end. Then nothing. Nothing is nice when it lands on a weekend. Not so great when the end of the month is looming and I have 5 days to log 46 hours to ensure I get a full pay cheque.

Work has been seeping into evenings and weekends. So this week, I took steps to force work to stay within the confines of the pre-evening hours. I went and created myself a life outside of these doors.

Monday, I was completely and totally in the 'Goldilocks Zone'. The balance was perfect. My work day was over before supper, I cooked a meal for my family and ran out the door for my first Zumba class which was followed by a dance class. I sat down at the end of the evening and I felt like Goldilocks. My day was just right!

Tuesday was good. It was a day that I added the word ''no'' into my vocabulary in a valiant effort to maintain the balance. It was a day which ended in an arduous F.I.T. class which I didn't quite have the stamina for, instead of a fun and carefree Zumba class. I didn't get to dance on Tuesday. But the balance was still intact. My mind and body were both physically worn out at the end of the day. The "just" in the phrase "My day was just right" was less emphatic. But it was still there. I was still in the zone.

Wednesday. Day #3 of my new improved Goldilocks Zone life. Work during the work day. Supper at supper time. A dance class in the evening. I could get used to this. The momentum was good. I like a day which is full of perpetual motion which keeps me focused and moving. I love knowing that the end of my work day is rewarded with a balanced, home cooked meal (and amazing when I'm the one who actually cooks it!). Dancing? A perfect end to a perfect day.

Thursday, I started the day as planned. I was finished with my bookkeeping project-at-hand before 9:00 a.m. and went to the shop to pick up more work. Then it ended. I needed to work in a computer program which I couldn't gain access to during the work day (too many users - I was locked out). I had work to do, but I couldn't do it. There wasn't even anything I could work on as I tried, tried and tried again to get into the system.

I was determined to keep myself motivated. I used the time to write my mom the letter that I didn't have time to write earlier in the week. I got a call to go into work at my typing job (thank goodness!). I came home from that job and tried to get into the computer program to do my work and I still couldn't get in. The clock was ticking, supper time was looming and I hadn't put in my required hours for the day. There was nothing I could do about it.

I made (reheated) supper (leftovers) and then checked to see if I could get into the computer program once again. Sure enough. At 6:00 p.m., I had access to the program that I had needed all day. Just when my day was scheduled to be complete, I was finally able to begin. This was everything that I was striving not to do! I was deflated.

I had a dance class at 7:00. My private lesson. The lesson that fills me up in every way. And I was depleted.

I went to my lesson, but my heart wasn't in it. I had fallen so far out of the Goldilocks Zone that even my dance lesson didn't revive me. I was a complete waste of oxygen on Thursday night.

I didn't stay for the group classes after my private lesson. I had work to do. If I couldn't get into the computer program during the day, it meant I had to work at night. I was not a happy camper. The balance I had strived to attain all week was gone.

I came home, turned on the desk lamp so that I could start to work. I then checked the TV guide so that I could set the VCR to tape 'my programs' .. and that was it.

I returned to my lit up work desk two hours later.

I sat down and watched Grey's Anatomy. I taped Private Practice so I could 'watch' it later. But instead, I fell asleep.

I didn't dance. I didn't work. I didn't even stay awake. I was empty.

Friday - the last day of the week to regain control and balance of my week-at-hand.

I was up and out of bed by 6:00 a.m.; logged into the computer program I needed to access by 6:10 a.m.; I fully expected to be booted out or asked to log out of the system so I worked as fast as I could for as long as I could. Other than a minor glitch with my anti virus program, bringing nourishment to my desk so that I could eat and work at the same time, and a phone conversation that I had while I worked (I was working on a mindless job) ... I worked for nine solid hours.

I was frustrated. The 9 hours I worked on Friday didn't make up for the 3.25 hours I worked on Thursday. There are only 6 more days in the month ...

I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was sleep but I had to keep my eyes open so that I was conscious when my daycare charge was picked up at 5:00. So I ate four packages of Fruit Gushers within as many minutes.

So not only was I frustrated and exhausted, but I felt like crap after ingesting a pure sugar snack at the end of a mentally exhausting day. I couldn't cook.

I ran out and picked up supper. My Second Son was trying so hard to hold a conversation with me as we ate. But all I could do was sit there. I know there is going to be a 'test' on this conversation. He is getting so frustrated because I confuse details and I don't understand &/or remember everything (anything??) that he tells me. I had mashed potatoes for brains and he was encouraging me to be a participant in a conversation that I was having trouble absorbing.

The phone rang. It was my bookkeeping boss. I had questions for her and she couldn't get back to me until after supper time. I heard my voice. I made a feeble attempt at speaking coherent sentences. It wasn't working. I usually work in the 'Accounts Payable' portion of the bookkeeping world and I had spent the day in 'Accounts Receivable' and I simply didn't have the vocabulary to communicate. Especially after a mind numbing nine hours working at a completely repetitive task that required few brain cells.

I hung up the phone and worked for an hour. After supper.

What was happening to my perfectly choreographed week? Is this how my new life is going to be? A life where I don't get to turn off my work world????

Thankfully, I had yet another dance class at the end of the day. My brain was mush and I felt like I could have slept until spring ... but dancing was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I had to stop working - that worked exactly according to my plan! We are learning a group formation dance to a fun and peppy song - there is not one moment to think of anything but the moment while I'm there. Perfection! I worked my mind (remembering the next steps) and my body. I sweated, I laughed, I released 'the day' and put it all behind me.

I walked back in the door at the end of the night and felt like Goldilocks. I came home and everything in my world was just right once again.

It's a fight to maintain the balance, but I think I'm gaining ground. I know what I want - I just have to be like Goldilocks and keep try, try, trying until I get it juuuust right.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saying No

I have found myself "saying no" an awful lot in the past few days. It's a little bit frightening to me because this is not my way.

Okay, it was only three times. But it was three times within a 24 hour time frame. Once every 8 hours. That was a pretty high ratio. Especially since my 'just say no' ratio usually runs about 1 in every 20 (or not at all).

After the third 'no', I started shaking a little bit. Was I over using the word? Am I lazy? Selfish? Fearful of the unknown? Or just a bit too over extended?

The first 'no' should have been: "Can I think about it and call you back?" But I was feeling overwhelmed with my work at the time.

My typing job has been keeping me busier lately. My bookkeeping job has ebbs and flows. I have had no work available for 3 days out of 7, for the past 2 weeks. So I have been working on the weekends to make up for time lost during the week. The last week and the first week of the month are a frenzy of work. It has been my habit to start panicking about not having enough hours to pay the bills right about this time each month (there's only one week left and I still need to work ____ hours to pay next month's bills).

Then I received a call out of the blue from the school that I attended. Would I be interested in a part time job (possibly 9 to 15 hours a week) as a facilitator at their school? The hours may be from 1:00 to 4:00, but the schedule and times would vary ...

I heard 1:00 to 4:00 and immediately my head went to the one daycare child that I still have in attendance. The after school program at our school was scheduled to start on the 20th but there has been no news yet. They need to find and hire someone to run the program (maybe I should apply for that??). So I still have one child here after school until the after school program gets going (then this child will only be here before school). My Youngest enjoys the freedom of having friends over after school. I don't want him having friends over unless I'm at home. Being at home for these 'little things' was the reason that I wanted to work from home in the first place.

Next, my head went to the piles of boxes (for my bookkeeping job) that were surrounding me at that precise moment. I was knee deep in my latest 'project'. There is still so far to go to get our year end work done. The work arrives in bits and snatches, but when the work arrives I like to know that I can work steadily until it is complete.

My typing job has been keeping me busier than I anticipated (which was a very good thing last week because I was sitting idle a lot, with my bookkeeping job).

Did I have time to add a third job into the mix? I briefly described my present job situation to this employer who called me and I politely declined the offer. I said that I would be more than interested to diversify my experience and I would really like to take advantage of the opportunity once I got things running on some sort of schedule with my bookkeeping job. But for now? I just can't.

I hung up the phone and wondered. Why did I say that? Why did 'no' come so easily? Why didn't I think about it? I would have enjoyed the challenge, I loved being in a learning environment.

Chances are, that I would have called back with the same answer. But I would have liked to have had the opportunity to ask more questions ...

The next morning, I had my day set out before me. I planned to work from 8:00 until 5:00 at my bookkeeping. I had worked at my typing job for 4 hours on Saturday and I was pretty certain that I could count on a full, uninterrupted day at my bookkeeping. I was wrong.

The phone rang - it was my typing boss. "Can you come in?" My answer is always "Yes ... when should I be there?" This time I said "I'm up to my ears in my bookkeeping work at the moment ..." He paused and stammered and said it would only be 2 hours. I said yes. I guess technically, this was not a no. But I wanted to say no. I just about said no. I made him work a little for a yes. So I'm counting it.

The third call came that afternoon (actually it was an email). I read the email at 5:30 - after a day of frantically working at my bookkeeping, running out to work at my typing job for 2 hours, coming home and eating lunch while I worked so that I wouldn't lose any more time (or momentum), so that I could cook supper and be out the door by 6:45 p.m. to go to my F.I.T. class at 7:00. My bookkeeping boss suggested that she could come over that night to go through some of the questions that are piling up. I said, "I have plans tonight ..." We arranged for her to come over last night instead (it didn't happen - she said this won't really work until a weekend and the next two Saturdays are completely booked up for me).

I hung up the phone after I said 'No' for the third time in (just over) 24 hours. What was happening to me? Should I call her back and tell her I'd cancel my plans for the sake of work? No! Again ... no was my instinctive response.

Work is overruling my life (when I have it). Free time comes when I least expect it. I don't mind that for a day ... but three days in one week, two weeks in a row is a little excessive when I know that there will be a payback time.

This is the reason that I have arranged my life to keep myself busy in the evenings. It keeps me motivated to work during the day. By supper time, I know that my work is done and the evening is mine. To ensure the evening is my down time, I have made my evenings busy with things I want to do.

It has been working like a charm. I have been motivated to cook supper. Real food. A meal that consists of meat and vegetables. I love a structured life. A life where I work during the day, sit still while I have supper and the evening is mine to do as I choose.

Saying no is a necessary step to regaining some balance and control over my days. Saying yes to me, activities I need and enjoy and my family is what I need to work on.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Living the Possible Dream

I have dug out some writing assignments from a writing course that I took 10 years ago. The title of this one (written August, 2000) captured my interest:

I am living my possible dream.

It took the quietening of the life around me to hear my voice from within ...

Meditation comes in many forms. I found walking alone and working outside induced unconscious thoughts to the surface. The thoughts that provided me with the most clarity and insight often came to me in the first waking moments of the day.

Listening to that inner voice (without quietening it or justifying all the reasons to ignore it), was the toughest and most important step I took to change my life. At first, I simply listened.

The next step was to say it out loud. It began with "I wish ..." and "If only ..." statements. Eventually, those wistful thoughts became the realization that there is a voice inside of me just screaming to find a way to make this work. I voiced this revelation to supportive and encouraging friends. The only feedback I got was positive. I purposely avoided telling anyone that would offer negativity at this point.

Then, the reality check. I sat and listed every pro and con, financially and personally. I listed any and all conceivable ways to make this work. Putting ideas, goals and budgets to paper gave me a vision. This vision evolved into how I must reorganize my lifestyle to accommodate the plan I was formulating. I sat down and wrote out my 'mission statement'. I visualized my new reality. I saw it, I heard it and I felt it. I could picture my success.

Research came next. I checked into all options, back up plans and applicable  legislation's. I talked to people who were doing what I aspired to do, to hear their first hand experiences, to get an idea if my idea was financially feasible and if there was a demand for the services I wanted to offer (in this case, it was opening up a daycare in my home so that I could be a stay-at-home-mom). I checked into insurance coverage, my savings account balances to see how long I could sustain an unknown income. Then, I gave myself a trial period of two months to give it my best shot.

At last, I was ready to move forward. I placed an ad in our paper offering my service, made physical changes in our home to reflect my goal. With a firm conviction that I could succeed, I 'sold' myself and my services. Within my two month deadline, I was well on the road to success.  The two month trial period was extended to a year. In the months that preceded the end of the year, my mind was once again in a state of indecision. Back to step one ...

I was 'tested' with dry spells, where my bills exceeded my income. All that did was encourage me to diversify my income sources. I took in a boarder. I returned to my prior place of employment one day a week. I asked for some child support for my children. I believe these obstacles were put in my way to test my conviction to succeed. At one point, a person bluntly told me that my decision not to return to my previous job was wrong. This opinion didn't sway my belief in the slightest. It was then, that any doubts I had were alleviated. I was certain that I was headed down the right path.

My contentment comes from within. I am living the possible dream!

Writing a sidebar for publication was also part of this assignment. Here is the short version of the above:

How to Follow Your Possible Dream
  • Listen to your inner self - your heart's desire
  • Give your dream a voice
  • Put all ideas/thoughts/dreams/plans to paper
  • Research the viability of your dream
  • Visualize/physically make changes to reflect your goal
  • Plan to succeed
  • GO FOR IT!
  • Be prepared to run into obstacles. Plan to overcome them
  • KEEP tuned in to your inner self; recognize signs signalling unrest from within
  • Continue to pursue your possible dreams
This outline has been one I've followed through every life changing decision I've ever made.  It's my own personal formula for living out my dreams.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Really! I'm Fine!!

My Second Son took on a serious tone last night and asked me if I was feeling 'down'. Heavens! I was having a great day. Where did that come from??

"I've been reading your blogs ..." he stated seriously, as if that was supposed to clue me in. I had posted an upbeat entry yesterday morning and I was bewildered as to what he was referring to. It was my old journal entries that hit an emotional chord with him.

I read and posted those entries with a healthy detachment. I don't live in my past. I did that for the better part of the first 48 years of my life. I learned a lot from the choices that I made, but I'm done with trying to fix and confront people from a prior life. I'm over feeling guilty. I am taking what I learned and moving on.

I will not spend my energy on negativity. I will not draw that back into my life. I am content in the knowledge that I did all that I could and it is out of my hands. I don't have to live with other people's choices. They do. I'm good with that. And I sincerely hope that they are as well.

My Second Son was so intense with emotion as he talked about the past, as it related to him. I was rushing through my evening and didn't have time to stop and focus on the moment. But as I was running out the door, I thought to myself ...

"The ripple of the past ..." it's still there.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Resetting My Time Clock

Today was a great day! I'm writing in the evening because I've 'reset my clock' a little. At least for today.

This was day #1 of my new energetic fall schedule. I fooled myself into putting in a full and productive work day before I set out for my evening of energetic exercise (Zumba!); came home and practised for a formation dance routine I'm a part of; and then a group formation dance class (to a fast and fun song) which has had me dancing the night away!

I couldn't have asked for things to go smoother today. No school, so I didn't have any excuse to delay getting started at my work (not that needs to be an excuse). No phone calls, no call in to work at my second job (though I did get a call with a job offer) and I had enough work to keep me busy all day (and hopefully a few more).

This is my goal. To have something on my agenda for the evening so that my work day must be within working hours. It's far too easy to get a late start when I'm working for myself, thinking I'll make the time up later. Here it is - 10 days from the end of the month and once again I'm in a panic trying to log enough hours to pay the bills. I must stop this cycle. The first step is to set deadlines for myself. Knowing my work day was complete by 4:45 p.m. gave me the energy to propel me through almost three hours of dancing fun.

Tomorrow's agenda? Another full work day (my goal is to start by 7:00 a.m.), I already know what I plan to cook for supper, followed by a one hour F.I.T. class after supper. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday? More of the same (except dance classes in the evening instead of exercise).

This is only day #1. But it feels so good, I'm sure that this will be the motivating factor that pushes me out of the rut I've been in.

I'm not only resetting my clock, I'm recharging my energy levels.

Back to the Present

The past. It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

I must put my old journals back into storage (but there are some old assignments from a writing class that I took over a decade ago that may resurface before the day is done) and get back into the present day.

What I found most interesting was the letter to my children that I wrote over 12 years ago. The words that I wrote to My Oldest were exactly what he needed to hear. During this past year, My Oldest and I have had many deep conversations. We revisited the past and he talked about what he needed from me as a child. I had forgotten about this letter. But when I pulled it out and read it this weekend, I 'already knew' what he needed. It's a pity that I never did share that letter with him ...

My Second Son was 11 years old at the time. I saw things in him and our relationship when he was 11, that are true to this day. We talk. We always have. He's learned a few lessons about loving the world and receiving that 'love' in kind (life lessons are not always fair), but in the end I believe that he still sees the best in a person and a situation until he's proven wrong. His love of life still prevails.

My Youngest is still in the early stages of life. His first 12 years have been easy. He emulates the way that he sees his older brothers treat me/talk with me and it has enhanced our relationship. He's a good, young citizen - I like what I see in him and I honestly can't see him straying far from the path that he is on right now. Who knows what life has in store for us ... but we have a good foundation. I think we can withstand whatever comes our way.

I'm not a fortune teller, but I was grateful to stumble across my inner thoughts from a time long ago. When it comes to my children, I think from the heart. I have learned to speak those words instead of tucking them away in a drawer, only to discover 'I knew it all along', but didn't act on it.

Looking forward, I shall take that knowledge and utilize it. I tend to verbalize a lot more of those thoughts than I did in the days of my private journalling.

Back to the present day now. I have a full day of work ahead of me. It is time to take my head out of the past and move on ...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Letter to My Children

I'm back in the archives of my old journals ... as my head is presently consumed with a flurry of tedious thoughts, I thought this would be a good time to pull out some old words to fill this space instead of my drivel about work, expiry dates, socks and other inane topics.

This letter is undated, but I wrote it in the hospital in the days prior to My Youngest's birth:

June, 1998

My children.
Each of you born to a 'different' mother.
Each of you needing a different part of me.
Each of you having your own special place in my heart ...

20 years ago.
I was a child myself.
And I had a child.
Sometimes I feel his life is haunted by the uncertainties that haunted me as I grew.
I grew up.
I grew into my responsibilities.
I grew to love you.
You grew up with my inexperience, my youth, my mistakes, my pain.
It was only when I saw my pain reflected in your eyes that I could see the road we had to take.
We had to separate ourselves from the pain.
We had to build a secure, safe, loving home.
We lost a lot ... but we gained more.
We were safe ...
Safe to 'act our age' ... and make new mistakes.
You made mistakes that were typical for your age ...
A cry for help?
Were you screaming inside?
Did I miss the cues?
You needed me ... you needed to talk ... you needed to feel loved.
I was so scared.
Scared of making mistakes in raising you, in disciplining you.
So scared that history could repeat itself.

The trust got shattered.
The words were never spoken.
We were both afraid to be anything less than strong.
We slowly started to drift apart ...
The years eroded what we once had.
What we 'had' was so fragile.
It needed to be nurtured.
But instead, in our mutual pain, it seemed to fester ...
There are glimmers of hope that there is something still there.
The open talks we've had.
The mutual understanding we admit quietly and rarely verbally ...
We've both seen a side of life we shouldn't have.
Instead of that pain becoming a force to keep us close
It has wedged us apart ...

11 years ago ...
I was 'grown'.
I was ready.
I had my second child.
You were spared from the 'pain' of the 9 years that preceded your birth.
You grew up knowing 'no pain'.
You loved the world
And the world loved you back.
You grew up without knowing your Dad ...
Reflections of your father were sporadically mirrored in your brother.
Not always the best images
They were diluted recreations of a prior time ...
The cycle of 'pain' in your eyes was too familiar.
Your youthful innocence was beginning to be shattered.
Home wasn't the oasis it was meant to be.
Life was starting to hurt.
But you talked.
For one of such a tender age, you were able to unload your burdens, your hurts.
As a more mature mother, I was able to HEAR you ...
You may hurt from life's blows ...
But you heal by talking ...
The pain isn't festering ...
You're going to be okay ...
Just never stop talking ...
I pray I never stop listening ...

Today ...
The birth of my third child is nearing.
Today, as I've felt you moving, LIVING within me, I'm wondering about you as a real PERSON.
What challenges lie before us?
Who are you?
Who will you become?
Have I 'learned' enough to be a good enough Mom to you?
My home is peaceful once again.
I'm bringing you into a home of love and stability and routine.
But there's still 'just me' to raise you ...
The father figure keeps eluding my children ...
I've made unwise choices that have left me fending for you on my own ...
But as a result, I have YOU.
My three precious children ...
My reasons for 'being'
Unique in your needs, your talents and your personalities.
I am 'one' now.
I love you all. And I long to unite us emotionally
We are family.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

If He Could See Us Now

Here is a journal entry that I found in my old journal between the dates Dec 26/96 and May 10/97. Nine years after I packed up my children and walked away from an abusive relationship.

I am recopying it here, word for word. I remember the way I felt when I wrote this so I'm not changing a thing:

     ... a man's voice was on the other end of the phone line ... the questions, the voice, the "unknown" triggered an emotion in the young boy's mind. He hung up the phone, deflated. He sighed out loud, "I thought it was my Dad" ...

     ... a young man. Eager yet terrified to step towards adulthood, is tentatively learning about cars in a mechanics class. He feels a betrayal. So many of his classmates know so much more than he does. Their dad had taught them. So many emotions lie beneath the surface. But one seems to rear its ugly head the most ... anger.

     ... the responsibilities of running a household and family on her own, she wrestles with the trials, triumphs and day-to-day mundane ... alone. Whether it be a moment of devastation or one of jubilation, she longs for a partner to turn to. To share the moment. Another day, like all the rest, is over. Sleep will bring comfort ... dreams of the future.

     ... somewhere out there is a man. Alone in his own way. Possibly masking it with another drink ... another "toke" ... running ...

     Does he know he's not alone in his pain and his grief? Does he know he'll never be able to run away from it? Does he ever wonder about his family and their pain? Or is he too busy masking his own?

     Years go by and like the ripples from a pebble tossed into the stillness of a lake, his influence in their life is a constant.

     She had tried to run from it too. For a while it seemed to work. She inched towards independence and distance from the life they had lead. A life, that no matter what pain and devastation it wrought, that kept bringing them back to each other ...

     The cycle of abuse is seemingly endless. The good times SO good ... the bad times so devastating. It affects everyone ... the ripple in the lake ...

     From the outside looking in, it appears so black and white. "They" see the family torn apart ... "they" know the answer. But ... when the family does the "right" thing and separates, does the outside world feel the ripples?

     There's a longing inside her. A longing to "solve" the past. To spread the word and help someone learn from her experience. It wasn't good enough to protect her children from a future exposed to the havoc an abusive relationship. They had already been exposed. The seed already planted. The ripple ...

     The anger the young man feels slips out from time to time. An anger that's always under the surface. He can "justify" his actions because it's "someone else's" fault ... ... ... Her blood runs cold at his response ... What will trigger his anger next? Who will be wounded as the ripple continues to affect the calmness that surrounds the lake?

     Has your life been affected by abusive behaviour? Are you one of its victims? Are you masking the pain in any addictive behaviour? Are you running?

     Those that are inflicting the pain of abuse are usually victims too. It's a cycle. It's NOT an heirloom one would choose to pass along to their children. But unwittingly that's what happens.

     No matter if you're a victim or the one inflicting the pain, STOP RUNNING! Remove yourself from the situation. Get help. Find support. Talk. Confront the issue. Get help. FACE the pain. If you don't face it, it will never go away. Don't allow another generation to toss another pebble into yet another peaceful lake.

     She wishes he would get help. Get healthy. Get to know his children. She wishes he could acknowledge that he understands she did what she thought was best for everyone. She hopes that what she did wasn't in vain. That future generations will not suffer because she didn't learn sooner the toll it would take on her own children.

     She prays the anger in the young man feels will be dealt with in a positive way. Before it affects the people that touch his life.

     She's sad the young boy never knew his Dad, but yet relieved. The ripple can't touch him. He didn't feel the pain. He felt the loneliness instead.

     She longs for the ripple to calm into the stillness of the lake. She's tired of fighting the waves.         

Before I Blogged

Last night My Youngest asked how long I have been dancing. My answer was "I started dancing right at the same time that I found out that I was pregnant with you. I danced from November until February and then I quit dancing until you were two." (and I've danced for the better part of the 10 years that followed). His response when he found out that I danced while I was pregnant? "That's why I've got rhythm. I like to dance but I have my own style ..."

His question motivated me to find the journal that I kept (sporadically) long before I blogged. I knew that I had written about all that was going on in my head at that time and I wondered what my exact thoughts were when I started dancing. It took me a very long time to find those words. Because I started reading from the beginning ...

I started this journal one week after I moved my family to a new city and province. It was a fresh, new start and I was hundreds of miles away from everyone in 'my world'. I had my children and knew an aunt and uncle and I knew of some cousins that lived in our new city.

I had my work, a babysitter and a pen. So I wrote myself through a few of the phases of reconstructing our life. I didn't write regularly. Maybe a few entries close together, but for the most part this journal seemed to find its way into my hands on more of an annual basis.

It was interesting to read my writing from almost 24 years ago. I have grown, but they are the same words that I continue to use to describe old memories. My 'hope runs eternal' attitude has grown stronger throughout the years, but it was in its infancy back then.

I wrote of the good, bad and the ugly. I wrote about my (then) two children and some of the challenges we faced.

It was a reflective walk through the decades. I didn't relive the moments. I remembered them. I appreciated what I learned from them. And I kept flipping through the pages. They were easy pages to read because I already knew the ending.

A few hours later, I finally worked my way to the page I was looking for. Here is a very abbreviated version of a four page journal entry two days after I took my first dance lesson (excuse the excessive capitalization in this excerpt, but I'm copying it exactly as I wrote it and I didn't have access to italics and bold in the hand written form):

Friday, November 14, 1997

It's been QUITE the week! The best and the worst all tossed in together. Thank goodness the best is winning. As long as I keep busy enough, hopefully I can put the worst aside to let time (and God!) work a little magic to help me see my way through.

A week ago yesterday, it was confirmed that I was pregnant. I was basically numb ...

I started dancing lessons on Wednesday. It was SO wonderful. The movement to music and the instructor being so utterly flattering (that's his job ... but he made me FEEL like such a natural!). I couldn't believe the lasting effect that half hour had on me. I honestly FORGOT about my problems! I woke up the next morning with nothing but light, dancing thoughts in my mind. It was SO very wonderful ...

I invited (The Father of My Child) to the Christmas party and when he asked the date, he had other plans BUT he was considering it anyway. I honestly felt privileged that he was even CONSIDERING me instead. Usually, it would be a "Sorry - I have plans" type of answer. When I said it out loud (to some friends), I said "I was honored to be worthy of his consideration" ... I KNOW I hurt him when I walked away from 'forever', but do I really have to place myself SO low to regain his trust and love???? I did this to myself and I don't like what it's doing to my self esteem. This is NOT a positive thing!

My birthday was probably one of THE most low-key (but BEST) EVER ... (some friends came over) and we laughed and laughed. I was positively breathless when they left. It was WONDERFUL ... so I was up and wide awake when My Oldest came home ...

... he was utterly drunk ... His friends were shushing him and one even came up and apologized. When I told  him HE wasn't doing anything ... he just looked at me very kindly and said sorry again. I think he was sorry for what My Oldest was shouting ... All I could hear was My Ex Husband down there ... I'm TOTALLY at a loss as to WHAT to do ... He's bringing back an element of my past that I can't and won't put up with again ....

My doctors appointment is Monday. She booked me in for a long appointment, so I wonder if I can look to her for a little guidance ... I need to talk to someone ... maybe my Dr. can at least ... listen? answer my questions?? help me??? I don't know. I'm trying so hard to just be patient and let things unfold and see what God's plan is ... Now I must make choices I can live with for the rest of my life ....

This is too much sometimes ... I need more of him (the father of my child) than he has to offer. This is just NOT a good situation ....

Dance lesson #3 is in one hour! Thank goodness! I need to let go of some of this "stuff". I need to walk into a fresh world, untainted by the real world's worries and frustrations and hurts ...

           ... and this too, shall pass ...

And so it did.

It was the best of times ... it was the worst of times. But we endured and thrived. The seeds that were planted in that one particular week changed the course of my life forever.

I'm grateful for that journal I kept before I blogged.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Expiry Dates Are For Wimps

I'm cheap. When it comes to food, I am the queen of thriftiness. If it's edible, you don't throw it out.

If it is perishable, it must be consumed before it becomes unfit for human consumption. If it's canned or frozen, it lasts 'forever' (in my mind). Best before dates are to be taken seriously only if you are purchasing chips from a store where the stock doesn't move readily. Expiry dates? They are kind of like those 'speed' signs that don't have the word ''Max'' preceding the speed limit. It's only a recommendation. Not punishable by law.

Meals are planned according to what must be consumed. Leftovers are not wasted. If no one else will eat them, I do. If something doesn't look like it will be consumed before it goes bad, I freeze it. Rule #364 - anything in the deep freeze lasts 'forever'.

It is commonplace to find upside down bottles of ketchup, salad dressing, syrup (anything in semi liquid form) upside down in our home. When I say it's good to the last drop, I mean use every last drop. This rule applies to non-food items as well. Shampoo and liquid detergent/laundry soap? Add water to an 'empty' bottle and you'll be amazed how many more uses you can squeeze out of it. Lotions/liquid make up? Slice the tube in half and there is at least another week's supply.

In housecleaning my cupboards and pantry this week, I found evidence of my frugalness at every turn. Half used pre-mixed seasoning packages for fajitas, chicken and various others(carefully rolled up and 'sealed' with a piece of tape to preserve their freshness). I collected the excess of unopened non-perishables amassed during my daycare days and they are enroute to our local food bank.

But even I questioned a half consumed box of Special K (purchased at the time there was a free step counter in each box). There were dehydrated strawberries in there so perhaps there may be a purpose for a 'best before' date this time. Sure enough. I checked and found the date "MA 2005". That box had to be at least 6 years old. I admitted defeat and tossed the contents and recycled the box.

Last night, my Second Son asked if I had bought any more sour cream. You would have thought that he was some sort of war hero, the way he proudly declared that he used the last of the expired sour cream. Rule #563 ... sour cream is already sour, right? So unless it is green and fuzzy, I use sour cream beyond the recommended time frames.

But since my son didn't write 'sour cream' on our grocery list, I didn't know it needed to be replaced. Due to Rule #563, I never stock pile sour cream. It is bought on a must-need basis. So we defaulted to Rule #594 ... improvise.

Me: "How about some salad dressing instead?"
He: "Sure ... do we have ranch?"
Me: "Probably not ..."
He: "Ha! Now you have to eat those words. Did you write it on the list when you used the last of it??"
Me: "No. We have too many salad dressings, so I'm not replacing those that run out, until we use the excess in the fridge ... is there any in the downstairs fridge?" (from when he moved home last December).

My Second Son came upstairs with a handful of salad dressings and was headed towards the garbage.

He: "They are expired."
Me: (Sound of disbelief) "Salad dressings don't expire ... what kinds do you have?"
He: "Jalapeno ranch ..."
Me: "Perfect!! I'll use that."
He: "But it's expired. Look at the sides."

I opened the bottle and no green, fuzzy stuff was on the lid. I checked the expiry date - "JUN 24 2009". Heck, it's still in it's infanthood! So I proceeded to shake the bottle (no more funny film on the sides) and poured it sparingly over my quesadillas, with salsa.

He: "Don't come running to me when your stomach feels funny later ... when I ate the last of that expired sour cream, my stomach didn't feel so good later. Honest!"

My reply? "Expiry dates are for wimps!"

P.S. Between my Baking 101 post and this one, no one is ever going to ask me to bring anything to a potluck ever again (my work here is done).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pushing Limits

I work best under pressure. Give me too much time ... and I fizzle out like a balloon set free. Fill up that time ... and I can accomplish a lot.

I have made myself get busy once again. I have found myself with one bonus commitment. I have made time for family and friends. And I must work to fulfill my monthly quota of work hours.

As I listed off my new after-supper-weekly-schedule to My Youngest, his immediate question was "How are you going to get all your work done?" My answer - "I'll just do it."

What has to be done gets done. It's much more fun and challenging to squeeze work into a life full of activity, than it is to know that you have the entirety of a day/week/or month to get something done. I drag things out when I have time to do so.

And now I'm so busy, that I don't have time to be lazy!

The happy endorphins are coursing through my brain again. Idle time is not my friend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Keeping Active

If I don't have an agenda or get actively involved in something first thing in the morning, I 'lose' a day.

Whether my agenda involves working, running errands, writing, cleaning the house or even a planned day of R & R ... the key is to have an agenda.

I was ready, willing and able to put in a full days work yesterday. But there was no work to be had.

My typing 'boss' called me, but only to help him through some trouble he was having with his email program. Two quick phone calls and my work there was done.

I called my bookkeeping 'boss' and asked if there was any work I could pick up. She told me that she would try and get some ready for me at lunch time. She sounded busy and frazzled. She didn't call back so obviously they were having a very busy day at the shop and she didn't have time to round up some work.

Thank goodness my project for yesterday was to seek out and enrol for some dance-fitness type of classes. At least I had a mission that was worthy of a few hours of research and decision making.

I found a F.I.T. (Fundamental, Intensive, Training) class that runs Tuesday nights ... and I went.

We were a group of 'five'. I had to be the oldest. I haven't exercised diligently for at least a year. I made a half hearted attempt, as I was preparing for the dance competition in February but I was more afraid of ruining my shoulder than I was of how my ballgown would fit. So I didn't last.

And I kept up!! We did some 'circuit training' - two minutes at each station (weights, skipping rope, a bell weight exercise, push ups, etc). And by the last two stations, I was so weary that I wasn't able to give it my all. But I didn't stop. I kept moving.

My body was physically exhausted. I cannot remember a time when my body felt so weary. My mind? It gets a good work out and I'm used to feeling mentally depleted. But not my body.

Tonight, I am going to register for a 'Belly Fit' class on Saturdays. This afternoon, I shall sign up for a Zumba class (on Monday), I am intrigued about a 'Cuban Salsa Rueda de Casino' class (on Friday). Then there is my regularly scheduled ballroom dancing class on Thursday and the possibility of becoming involved in another ballroom group on Wednesday (click on the blue 'links' to see how fun exercise can be!).

As we were parting ways from our Tuesday night F.I.T. class last night, one of my classmates was wishing that the class was more often than once a week. I told her of the options that I'm looking into ... because I too, believe that keeping moving is key.

Finding a fun way to exercise, making it a social and uplifting evening out, adding music and dance can only enhance my desire to get moving again.

It feels like my work days are out of my control. But at least I'm taking back my evenings. I am in control of something. If I can get my body working half as much as my brain, I could be in good shape before long ...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Energy Levels = Zero

Does expending energy = acquiring more energy? Does sitting idle = zero energy levels? Do I sit here and write about it ... or should I actively seek out some energizing activities?

I finally noticed how slow and sluggish I have become while I was dancing with a young, vital and highly energetic young man last Thursday. I felt old for the first time of my life. I used to have energy. Where did it go??

My days used to be fully committed. I woke up early to exercise because there was no other time of the day to work it in. I used to have hair that didn't require an extra half hour to tame into something that didn't take on a 'mad scientist' appearance.

At one time, by 6:30 a.m. I had either exercised or finished delivering papers; had a quick shower; eaten breakfast ... and often, I had soup/lunch entree or some type of baking all ready to start whipping up before my daycare charges started arriving.

I was frustrated those days because I was tied to the house. My days were ruled by other people's schedules. I took that excess energy and spent it on the house. I cleaned, I was organized and I puttered. A little bit every day. Little did I know at the time, I was slowly moving mountains.

My daycare days often didn't end until 6:00 p.m. The last half hour of that day felt endless. I had things to do, places to go and even if I didn't, I had my own agenda within our home. I didn't stop at 6 o'clock.

Now? I am usually still in bed at 6:30 a.m. Showers in the morning? They ruin my day. Because spending an hour fussing with my hair/makeup/overall appearance takes too much time and energy. If I don't shower at night, it doesn't bode well for the way the next day unfolds.

Once again, I am tied to my responsibilities. I don't stray too far from home when there is work to be done. The challenge is to squeeze my work into the hours between 8 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. It usually doesn't work out that way.

My evenings? When I am not working or dancing ... I am sleeping. I can easily fall asleep at 6:30 p.m.; nap all evening; sleep all night; and I'm still tired at 6:30 the next morning. Why??

I am considering enrolling for some dance/fitness classes in the evening. Zumba, Belly Fit, a F.I.T. (Fundamental Intensive Training) class have piqued my interest.

What would this do for my sanity levels when I need to work evenings to make up for hours lost during the day? Would it inspire me to get up earlier to ensure that didn't happen? But the big question ... would this energize or deplete me??

I'm not sure of the answers to these thought provoking questions. But the time has come to do something. I'm tired of being tired all of the time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Baking 101

When I babysat, I baked. I baked a lot. I was quick, efficient and it wasn't unusual to have my home smelling like a bakery before 8 a.m.

Since my full time day care 'career' ended just over a year ago, baking has gone by the wayside. Sometime last year, I pulled out my dusty baking gear to make gingersnaps. The oil that I used had gone bad. The aroma of gingersnaps cooking was more like the smell of rancid oil permeating through the air. The cookies were edible ... but not great.

I believe that I tried honing my baking skills once more, at Christmas. I have no memory of the cookies being good or not. They aren't cookies I enjoy, so I don't eat them. This usually doesn't bode well for the success of whatever it is I'm baking - if I don't have my own taste buds set for the end result, beware. But ... there were no complaints. Mind you, no one complained about the gingersnaps either.

A week and a half ago, I thought that I should bake some Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. So I took out some frozen mashed bananas to let them thaw 'overnight'.

I have moved that container of bananas around the fridge more times than I can count. Each time, thinking "I must make those muffins!" Each time I closed the fridge door, I immediately forgot that thought.

I completely and totally frittered yesterday away. By the end of the day, I was disgusted with myself, the lack of energy, drive and ambition. I used to accomplish so much with a day. Now? If I'm not getting paid to do something, I don't do it. That mentality is a definite down side to working from home.

So I thought that I would get up this morning and act like I used to act in my full fledged daycare/ambitious days. If I acted energetic, I would feel energized. Right?

Not so much.

I feel like I've been wading through molasses this morning. I've gone through my morning routines and more. And I decided to make those muffins.

My question when I baked my rancid oil gingersnaps was: Does oil go bad?? My question this morning was: Do frozen, then thawed-for-a-week-and-a-half bananas go bad?? My answer (after going through the ugly process of mixing, baking and cleaning up) to both questions is: Yes!!!

My only-daycare-charge has arrived. His mom immediately commented that the house smelled like baking. She then asked what I made. When I told her 'banana muffins', her reply? "Oh ... it doesn't smell like bananas. It does smell like baking though."

And I still have one more muffin tray to wash (because yes, I made a double batch). I was better off being lazy.

Trust me. If I'm asked to bring 'baking' to any type of pot luck affair, know that you are lucky if you see me walking in with something packaged straight from a bakery. Because heaven only knows how long flour lasts. Is three years excessive???

The next thing you know, I'll find out that eggs have an expiry date ...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Going With the Flow

The last few days have not gone according to plan - an unexpected day off, followed by a day where I expected to work and only put in a fraction of the hours I had intended on logging.

I haven't been fighting the natural flow of events. Instead, I have just been going along for the ride and enjoying the scenery along the way.

I have talked to more people in the past few days, than I have in the past month. I have had the chance to send out long overdue emails. I've taken time for my family ... and time for myself.

Going with the flow, enjoying the days that unfold, taking opportunities to reach out, daring to dream and planning a few small adventures breathe life into my soul.

Taking time for the little things revives me. It is more energizing, than a good night's sleep.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

An Accidental Saturday

The phone rang at 8:00 a.m. yesterday morning and it seemed to set the tone for the day. My one and only daycare charge would not be coming before or after school.

By 8:10 a.m., I received a call telling me that there wasn't bookkeeping work available to work on for the day. When I didn't receive a call from my typing job by 9:00 a.m., I officially declared it 'Saturday' in my mind. An unexpected day off.

One day was okay. Because I knew work was forthcoming the next day. By 2:00 yesterday afternoon, I received a call from my typing job and I will be working there this afternoon. When there is no fear of lack of work, it is okay to have an unexpected day off.

I called my sisters and fine tuned some plans that we had been making via email. I received another phone call which changed my Sunday plans. I made plans for a 'sibling gathering' next month; checked into information for a family reunion next year; checked into flights, cruises and I even talked to a cruise specialist for my Alaskan Cruise Dream (then made arrangements to get together with my friend who will be accompanying me, so we can talk about booking something very soon!). Then ... I sent off an email to a new group of friends in hopes of reigniting interest in our 'Friday Night Out With the Girls'.

It was a day of dreaming, planning, communicating and spreading a little bit of excitement back into my world.

It was an 'Accidental Saturday' which I thoroughly enjoyed ... one day early.

Friday, September 10, 2010

You Know It's Time to Get a Life When ...

I was getting dressed for a rainy, chilly day today. I glanced over at my holey sock collection and reminisced about the end of the sock season this past spring. I recalled how pleased I was that the bare foot season of summer was upon us, because my socks were (literally) springing holes at every turn.

Then ... I had this flutter of excitement within, when I remembered having some spare new socks in my extra sock stockpile. Woo-hoo!! Happy dance! I love the way new socks feel. So 'complete' in their unholeyness. Soft and fresh. Ahhh ... if it's gotta be a sock day, let it be a new sock day!

I pulled out an untouched collection of three shades of blue socks. The light blue immediately got tossed into the pile of brand new light blue socks (they just don't match anything). Which left a medium blue and a darker blue (not navy). Which to wear? Which to wear??

I pulled out my jeans and tried to color match my socks to the shade of faded denim. Neither was perfect. It was then, that I caught myself. All of this?? Over a pair of socks!?!?

I uttered out loud, "Get a life!!', picked the medium blue pair (which incidentally are perfect for the day) and so the day began.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

If the Dress Fits ...

Yesterday, my dance instructor called to ask if I will be participating in the annual dance showcase this year. This has always been the highlight of my dance year. The preparations, the fun, the costumes, the comraderie, enjoying seeing all of our dance group in one day and the culmination of a year well spent.

As the showcase date is fast approaching this year, the first thing that comes to mind is the cost.

I've been pinching pennies all summer and I think I have a handle on my spending once again. The actual cost of the showcase isn't unreasonable. It's all the extra ''stuff'' where I find myself spending money. Hair, nails, jewelry, attire for the evening ... you name it, I can spend money on it, at this event. Showcase has become synonymous with excessive spending in my mind. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Then there is the actual dancing. The long and short of it is, is that I'm not prepared. My feet have a vague idea where they need to go and what they need to do. My arms and hands are slowly catching on. But the technique - that stuff that no one consciously notices ... but makes a huge difference as to how the dance feels and moves? I haven't been practising or working at this. I deserve to look as 'unpolished' (and that's putting it mildly) as I do.

Okay. I could scrimp on the spending this year. Spend no more than it costs to participate. I could practise. I read somewhere that practise doesn't (necessarily) make perfect ... but a person can get perfect at practising. I can do that.

That leaves ... the dress. If the dress fits, I'll do it.

The problem? I tried on the dress last night. I always wanted a dress that stretched. This ball gown stretches. And it ain't purdy.

Do I have time to ''unstretch'' the gown in the next six weeks? We'll see. Because I've made up my mind. I'm going to do this whether the dress fits or not!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Everyone Has a Story

I am working for a man who is gradually pealing back the layers of his 'story' and telling me little sound bites from his life.

I know only a very small piece of who this man was and who he has come to be. But hearing of his humble beginnings and seeing what he's made of his life has opened my eyes and ears. I want to hear more.

I know many people that I care about are going through some of the most challenging times of their lives right now. I know there is a story behind all that isn't said ... and all that is said in outbursts of words and emotions.

Everyone we cross paths with has that story going on in the background of their mind. The clerk that appears gruff and defensive may have just been reamed out by a customer. The person who is quiet and seemingly afraid to speak, may waiting for an opening. Someone who is laughing on the outside may be crying within.

We just never know what is happening within the thoughts of another. Even those we know well.

As I searched my mind for the words I wanted to find, I found this quote:

Teach this triple truth to all:
A generous heart,
kind speech,
and a life of service
and compassion
are the things which renew humanity.

Sometimes, words are not enough. Kindness, caring and compassion go a long way when you can't find the words.

When I go silent, it is because I am unsure what to say. Or as Winnie the Pooh would say:

"Don't underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."

Sometimes that is exactly what you need to do.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

So ... That Was a Weekend

I flipped back through the calendar to find out the last time that I took a complete, two day weekend. On a weekend. It was in July.

In August, I took off the holiday Monday. I didn't work on a Wednesday/Thursday. A Sunday/Monday. Then there was the Monday through Wednesday holiday. But not two, consecutive weekend days. Until this past weekend.

It was great.

I emailed, I talked with friends on the phone, I went to a play, I finished reading a book, I ran errands, I hung out with My Youngest for an afternoon one day and went to a Corn Maze with 'my boys' another, then had supper with My Oldest last night. And I slept.

Taking time off when 'the rest of the world' is off with you, is a wonderful thing. But then again ... so is taking time off when 'the rest of the world' is working.

I guess the secret, is to have a variance between those days of responsibility verses the days of relaxation. Because, do you know what? Three days off, was one day too long.

It feels good to be facing my responsibilities once again, after a weekend of rejuvination.

Monday, September 6, 2010

If Money is the Worst of Our Troubles ...

"If wealth is lost, nothing is lost. If health is lost, something is lost. But, if character is lost, everything is lost." ~ Unknown

If money can solve all of our troubles, we are fortunate.

At this very moment, I have three updates from friends sitting in my inbox. Updates on health issues and concerns where there are no quick and easy answers. No amount of money can fix these problems. Medicine, time, faith. advancements in the health field and miracles are the answers to the prayers of those who walk this path.

Heartache, sorrow and loss. My world is touched with people who have an ache in their heart. Many different scenarios ... time will help to heal the wounds in some cases ... in others, nothing in the world can make up for the years lost. Missing out on precious years because of a breakdown in family communications - no amount of money can make up for that time. We never know what tomorrow will bring. Every day that we live, is a day to make amends, make memories and make a difference. As long as there is life, there is hope ...

Happiness and contentment. You can't buy it. There isn't one magical formula that works for all. It is a unique and special gift. If you chase it, it is illusive. To have it and hold onto it ... is a blessing. You can have all of the money in the world, but still feel empty and hollow within. Without inner peace, what good is money? I would rather be poor and happy ... than rich and empty within.

Character. The ability to sleep at night because your conscience is clear and empty. To live a life where you do 'the right thing', live honestly and give the best of yourself to those that touch your life. It doesn't cost a penny to be kind. A smile and gentle touch are priceless. The words you say to a stranger can make all the difference in the world. Living by The Golden Rule - "do unto others, as you would have done unto you", enriches your soul.

That which is worth having, can't be bought. Life, health, happiness and character - that is how I choose to measure my net worth. The dividends paid are friends who feel like family and family who feel like friends.

There are days where budgeting and money concerns overrule what I know to be true. I have my health and the health of my family. I have an inner contentment that carries me through times of difficulty. I live a life where I can go to sleep at night, knowing that I have lived by The Golden Rule. I have family and friends that enrich my life.

I am rich in all of the ways that matter. If money is the worst of my troubles ... I am very lucky indeed!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

October 9th

I was cleaning off a 'note to myself' on the whiteboard - a place where I write things that I need to remember. And I found the words "October 9" scrawled to the side of another note.

October 9th.

Hmmm. Not related to the message that I wrote to myself about calling someone Thursday morning.

I do remember saying the words "My calendar is empty" ... so I flipped the calendar page to see if I happened to write any further details on the calendar page for the 9th of October. Nothing.

Who did I talk to that morning? Later that day? Why does it ring a faint, faint bell?

My mind is scattered. I keep telling My Son that I can't remember things because my brain is too full. Then I try to think of what is filling it up and I am unsure about what is filling up all the vacant space.

If anyone knows what I am supposed to do or know about October 9th, please contact me. Preferably by email so that I have a written reminder.

Friday, September 3, 2010

'Me' Time

August was a challenging month. So was July. There was a lot of good stuff tossed into those months, but it is my fear that the summer of 2010 will be forever etched as The Year of Transition in my mind.

A new schedule to juggle, a new budget to figure out and flexibility in my life that has been a blessing ... at the expense of working evenings, weekends and what feels like all of the time.

I am not complaining. I took an entire day off 'just for me' last month. I spent time gallivanting around the country side, visiting family and making the most of Mom's visit out here. I took My Youngest and a friend on a holiday (which equated to almost 100% relaxation and a feeling of getting away from it all for me).

But the price that I paid was working weekends and evenings to make up for all the time I played. This was a sacrifice I made willingly. But it's akin to my 12 year old getting his days and nights mixed up over the summer holidays. I got my weeks and weekends mixed up.

Since our return from our mini-holiday nine days ago ... I have worked. I have worked eight days in a row. I have logged 70 'billable hours'. I've been mothering my children. I succeeded in making the August budget come out in the black - I've been pinching pennies here so I could spend them there. I've been stealing hours from the weekdays and giving up time that I used to be able to call my own.

I've been plagued by the knowledge that my dance lessons are most definitely a luxury item in my new budget. Last month, I had two lessons instead of my usual 'four'. As the time was nearing for my next lesson, I thought of all of the money that I could save if I gave up dancing. As I sat on the deck, enjoying the evening and my family last Thursday night I knew that was exactly where I wanted to be. As a friend told me that she was taking (hopefully only a temporary) a break from dancing, I thought "I should do that too" ...

Then ... yesterday arrived. Thursday. My dance lesson was booked and I was going.

The day was not a day without challenges. I was torn in too many directions. I had work that I wanted to get done, hours I needed to log and I was being pulled away from my responsibilities again. My mind was full of worries that were not mine to own. Little things were feeling bigger than they were. But each and every time that I remembered that I had my dance lesson that night, I felt a shiver of excitement run through my veins. Dancing - my gift to myself. An evening where I got to go out and step away from this responsibility-filled life. 'Me' time!!!

To make matters even better, I started the day by sending an email to a friend. Which reminded me that there was a play we had talked about going to see. The play is finished running this weekend and she is going away. Lost opportunity. Or was it???

I have another friend that has often come up with last minute, fun ideas and invited me to tag along. I picked up the phone that very instant and called to see if she'd like to go to this play with me. She told me that she was already going, but I was free to join them.

This was feeling like such a perfect and spontaneous idea that I quickly emailed two other friends to see if they could come. Then (I waited until 9 a.m.), I called the ticket office and found out that the tickets were sold out. I was not deflated for a moment. I had an excuse to contact three different friends and the idea of an evening out with friends was as exciting as the reality. The gift, was touching base with my friends.

Then ... as the afternoon played out, it turned out that if I was willing to volunteer to hand out programs at this play I could not only go and see this sold out play, but I could do it for free!! So I get to go after all (what a charmed life I lead).

Knowing that I was going dancing that night ... making plans for an evening this upcoming weekend. It was then, that I realized why I am feeling so drained lately. I've been sacrificing that which fuels me.

Dancing. I need that evening to step away from it all. Even when it is all good. Last night, my instructor immediately picked up on my cues and got me so busy concentrating on our routine that I didn't have room to let my mind wander on anything besides that very moment. The laughter flowed freely and my head was consumed with nothing but dancing. Perfection.

Friendship. Even when plans don't happen to fall together as you hope, the gift is in the contact. Reaching out and knowing you have a friend is one of the best gifts of all.

Yes, the past few months have been harried and hectic. But yesterday, I was reminded that as long as I take time for 'me' ... I can keep on going.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Marking TIme

My Middle Son turns 23 year old today ... he's done a lot in those years.

He's tried out a handful of 'careers' and each job has been a stepping stone to the next. Some of the correlations are more illusive than others, but where he is today is a direct result of all of those connections.

He's a guy that sees what he wants and goes for it. He's had his eye on the ball ever since I can remember (and most especially after he received that first pay cheque).

He's creative, unafraid to dream and fearless when it comes to going after those dreams.

There are learning curves every step along the way. If we use every experience - good or bad - as a lesson, we have the opportunity to become very wise.

School doesn't teach one everything they need to know in life. Living life to the fullest, daring to pursue your dreams, picking yourself up and carrying on will teach you lessons you will never forget.

At age 23, my Middle Son has learned a lot. I see him putting each lesson to use as he strategically plans his next step.

You have only just begun, My Son ... I can't wait to see what you make of your life.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day #1 - The New Reality

It's almost 8 a.m. and another morning is slipping out of my hands. Is this my new reality??

I thought that the return of school would do something positive for my organizational skills. Instead, it just managed to throw the routines that were finally falling into place all out of whack.

I have been ready, willing and able to start my bookkeeping tasks at 8 a.m. for four out of the past six mornings. Yesterday? Not.

8:00 a.m. - I remembered that I had forgotten to make a lunch for My Youngest. Of course I was out of the routine, so none of my little shortcuts were in place. It took at least twice as long as it should have taken. Ten minutes ... lost.

8:10 a.m. - The phone rang. My first day back in daycare mode and I thought "Oh no! It's starting already". But I was wrong. It was my bookkeeping boss calling for my hours. We talked 'work' until my daycare charge arrived at ...

8:20 a.m. - My one and only daycare responsibility arrived. I haven't seen him or his mom since June, so we had lots of details to exchange and talk about.

8:40 a.m. - I walked the boys to school. With each of them loaded down with a full and heavy back pack plus a plastic bag full of the excess, I thought they could use some assistance. Plus, this is why I'm working from home. To be able to do these 'little things'.

9:00 a.m. - I had to come home and 'blog a bit' about my morning's musings.

9:20 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. - I worked. I was concentrating, accomplishing the task set out before me and moving right along. It was going to be a very good day.

11:45 a.m. - My stomach had been rumbling for at least a half hour. It was time to toast a bagel. To work while I ate? Or to take a 15 minute break? That was the question.

11:45 - 12:15 p.m. - A half hour break won. I had budgeting ideas floating in my head and I took the time to scribble them down and see if they made as much sense on paper, as they did in my head.

12:18 p.m. - A call from my typing job. Could I come in at 1:00? Sure.

12:19 p.m. - Second Son comes home bearing coffee and lunch for us. The coffee looked wonderful and I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd already eaten. So I ate a second lunch. We visited until I had to leave for my typing job.

1:00 - 3:10 p.m. - I worked at my second job. I messed something up right as it was time to leave and I had to stay and fix it.

3:15 p.m. - I raced home to arrive moments before My Son, my daycare charge and two of my son's friends came home from school. My Youngest was the happiest and most animated that he has been since the last day of school. He didn't want to return to school ... but it was the best thing for him.

3:45 - 5:45 p.m. - Back to my bookkeeping. Finally!!!

5:45 - 6:35 p.m. - Supper break. I took out hamburger and Second Son spiced it up, formed the patties and BBQ'd it. I put fries in the oven. Voila! A meal.

6:35 - 7:25 p.m. - Back to the books. See how much I can do before ....

7:25 p.m. - I ran over to My Oldest's home to drive him to the place where he just bought a car. Filled my car up with extra tires that went with the car deal, back home again and we took time to admire My Oldest's shiny new black Cadillac.

8:30 - 11:45 p.m. - Back to the books. Again. The house was finally quiet. The phone didn't ring. I didn't have to stop for nourishment. No one asked anything else of me. I worked. Until one portion of a labor intensive task was complete.

12:30 a.m. - I closed my eyes.

5:45 a.m. - I opened my eyes.

I've been flitting from one task to the next all morning. It is now 8:30 a.m. and I'm back to where I was this time yesterday.

It's a new day. I don't need to help the kids with excessive school supplies this morning. I have a new bookkeeping task to tend. I don't expect a call from my typing job. I should be able to work at a steady pace and finish my work before supper.

That is the plan. But we'll see what this second day of my new reality brings ...