Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh, The Places I'll Go!

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..." ~Dr. Seuss~

Over the course of the last 32 years, I accumulated a whole library of children's books. But I've never read this particular book.

A friend recently told me that this is a book that she often gifted to new graduates. What a refreshingly simple yet poignant book to give, to celebrate the beginning of a bright and shiny new 'life'.

Even in my slightly used and abused life, these words truly 'woke me up' this morning.I felt young, inspired and capable of anything.

Because ... I'll be "the one who'll decide where to go..."

I've made so many 'out of the box' (for me) decisions these past few years. I've steered myself in any direction I chose. And I chose to explore some brand new paths.

I was on my own so I forged out of a life where I made the same choices time and time again and continued to live 'the same life' with different people time and time again.

I have brains in my head and have decided to dust off the learning centre of my mind and expand it.

I have feet in my shoes and those feet have many stories to tell. Oh, the new places I've walked ... the miles I've danced ... the Zumba lust they allow me to pursue!

I know what I know ... I remember what I've learned but I'm learning to want to know more. What I know for sure, is that I want to continue to know more!

Oh! The places I will go! This past year ... The Great Dance Adventure. Next year ... an Alaskan Cruise. Who knows where I'll end up next?!?!

Monday, November 29, 2010

If You Book It ... They Will Come!

I did it. I finally did it!! I booked my Alaskan Cruise vacation!

This dream originated 31 years ago. A very good friend of mine went on a cruise and loved, loved, loved it. We made a pact to go on a cruise together when we were 40.

Forty came and went about decade ago ... and our goal to go cruising together didn't materialize. But this past year, as I realized that dreams really do come true if you pursue them, I dusted off this old dream and decided to not only say that I wanted to go on a cruise. But to say "I am going!"

It seemed perfect. By the time the cruise departs, my friend and I would have each been 6 months away from our 50th birthday. I'm a year older, so timing our cruise vacation for a date in between that one year age difference seemed significant.

Add my Second Friend. A friend that I knew from about ages 10 to 12. Her family was from the U.S. and her dad had a two year contract to work in Canada. As fate would have it, we became neighbors and fast friends.

We have kept in touch ever since. Forty years later, we not only exchange Christmas cards ... but thanks to the magic of the Internet, we sporadically touch base throughout the year. She now lives in Alaska.

A plan was born. An Alaskan cruise! I would get to fulfill my dream of cruising with the friend that I made the 'When We Turn 40 ...' pact. And at the end of that one way cruise, I would visit my childhood and long time friend in Alaska. Perfection!!

I have been tossing this idea around for the better part of 2010. My Cruise Friend was intrigued but not sold on the idea. I found another friend who was eager and willing to join me ... but when it came time to actually booking a date, I found I simply couldn't get a commitment.

I have been in sporadic contact with my Alaskan Cruise Experts the past few months. When I called on Friday, I was told that things book up quickly from this point on. In fact, the cruise that 'had my name on it' had only 4 spots left. I put a temporary one day hold on one of those spots.

I decided to book 'A Cruise for One', with the option of adding a friend later. There are a few rules and restrictions. But basically, changes can be made to my travelling companion up to as close as a week before the ship sails. So ... I did it. I really did it!!!

It felt absolutely marvelous!

Unfortunately, my Cruise Buddy officially informed me that the one week that I chose for this adventure was the exact same week that she had planned a 'Vacation of a Lifetime'. So we won't fulfill that particular dream. But ... she lives quite close to the city that the cruise begins, so maybe ... just maybe we can find a way to get together while I'm 'in her neighborhood'.

My Second Potential Cruise Companion was away this weekend. So I couldn't talk to her. But I left messages before and after I booked. I believe this way is better. She wasn't quite ready to commit. This will buy her some time. She may or may not decide to go with me. And that's okay.

The amazing thing is, that the idea of going on this holiday on my own does not frighten me. Not in the slightest. I am finding that I push myself out of my comfort zone more when I am on my own. The many classes I have joined these past few months have taught me 'if you reach out, people respond'. It's an amazing thing. But I actually feel a sense of gratitude as I talk to someone who was standing quietly on their own. I could do this on my own. This sense of independence and adventure that is very, very new to me. It is amazing!

But ... what I found just as amazing, is the people who are coming out of the wood work now that I've actually booked this holiday.

A friend who is in a place in her life where she cannot make long term plans said that 'one week' is as far ahead as she can plan right now. She eagerly came up to the plate, waved her hand and said ''pick me'' if I need a last minute replacement.

My Oldest Son said that he would go with me. He admitted that perhaps it wasn't at the top of his holiday destination list ... but he is eager to enhance his vacation experiences. And if I couldn't find anyone, he would be willing to go.

I had a strong feeling that this would happen. As I was rambling on to my mom about this very topic, I simply said, "The first person to come up to me with the 'cash' gets to come!!" But it is nice to know that I have a Plan "B" and "C" to fall back on if whoever-decides-to-come-with-me, must back out at the last minute.

It is a 'Field of Dreams' experience ... I knew it would be!!

"If I book it ... they will come!"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Day Like No Other

Sometimes, I feel like I've stepped out of my life and right into a fairy tale ...

I've had many 'Cinderella Moments' throughout my dancing experiences (unfortunately, right down to the evil step sisters as we tried, tried, tried and tried again to finally find a pair of ballroom dance shoes to fit my ugly-stepsister-extra-wide feet).

But yesterday?? Was right out of a Disney animated film.

A good friend planned an afternoon adventure for us. She should pursue a career in planning 'Adventures Within Your Very Own City', as she continues to astound and amaze me every time she comes up with some tailor made adventure with her most fortunate 'tourists'.

Yesterday, she let us in on a little known secret. We have an Enchanted Disney Forest right outside our city limits.

When she said that we were going to go and feed/watch the chickadees, I thought we would place some bird seed someplace and watch the birds in an up close and personal sort of way. The way I remember being able to watch how close the squirrels/chipmunks (??) came up to us when my family visited Banff when I was a child.

I had absolutely no idea that these tiny little chickadees would come and literally eat out of the palm of your hand! It was beyond amazing.

Once they became familiar with us and knew we would cause them no harm, it was as if they flew off and told all their friends. The next thing you knew, these tiny little chickadees were patiently awaiting their turn as they flitted in, around and about extended hands with 'bird treats' (sunflower seeds).

It was straight out of a Disney movie! I was dumbfounded and said I almost expected all of the other forest animals to scramble out of their winter hiding spots and start making a dress for my friend (Cinderella). But when I started searching YouTube for the Disney movie which best encapsulated the moment, this is what truly epitomized the moment:



There are days when my life feels like that of a fairy tale. I'm a modern day Cinderella who doesn't need Prince Charming to rescue her. I have saved myself and I am quite content with the belief that some day my Prince may or may not come.

I have yet to find a kiss that will awaken me from the life I have led, into a magical Wonderland. But yesterday, walking through that Enchanted Forest I knew without a doubt that my life is already filled with magical and extraordinary moments ...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Love My Age!!

I think we can use 'age' to be an excuse for many things ...

"He's only a baby" ... so they don't sleep on a schedule or walk or talk or anything that exceeds the expectations of that age.

"Terrible Two's" ... an excuse? An explanation? Once again, a two year old gets away with things that may be frowned upon if they were three.

"Teens" ... that's a loaded one. I had a friend that often said her children lost all of their brain cells when they turned 12. I've had three kids, and each of them completely and totally different as they lived the teen years. Once again, we 'expect' certain things of this age group.

"Twenty Somethings" ... the age of living, trying new things. An age where some settle down and others try out their wings. It is an age of experimentation of living a life you haven't lived before. Or not.

"My life began at 40!" ... is the proud exclamation of my mom. I believed she was right, so my 40's sparked some great beginnings for me. I was grateful that my body continued to work the way it always has. Others aren't so lucky ...

"50 is just cruel" ... was a comment I heard when I was in my 40's. Yet I looked at my mom and reflected on all that she was doing in her 50's and I saw no reason why reaching the half century mark should be any different than the rest of my life. I have walked into my 50's embracing the new life ahead of me.

My sisters are 9 and 11 years older than me. I get a preview of the decade ahead, before I live it. My sisters are pretty good role models and I haven't seen anything but good things in store. Settling in and enjoying their adult children and grandchildren. It looks like good times to me!

I have spent countless hours listening to my mom and her sisters visiting. One time, I recapped one of those visits as "hearing loss, cataracts and funerals". Hmmm .... what does lie in wait for me as the decades slip by??

Then I heard Dr. Daniel Amen's 18/40/60 rule:

"When you’re 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking of you; when you 40, you don’t give a darn what anybody thinks of you; when you’re 60, you realize nobody’s been thinking about you at all."

I've decided that I don't need to wait for age 60 to gain that wisdom and live life with a gusto.

At age 50, I have found myself trying new things. On my own! I haven't needed the security blanket of taking someone along with me to find that courage.

At age 50, I am not letting others slow me down. If I want to do something, I am going to do it. On my own, with a friend or making friends as I forge my way.

At age 50, I'm just going for it!! Making plans, setting goals, setting limits and being true to myself.

Age is just a number. It's what is going on inside of you that counts. I plan to remain '27 Forever'. An age where I started making healthy choices for me and my children. An age where I packed up my family and started a new life. An age where I truly began to live.

Sometimes, I think it just can't get any better than this. Then it does.

I plan to keep living my life being amazed that it can just keep getting better!

To 50 and beyond!!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's All About the Shoes ...

If my feet are happy, I am happy.

My Thursday night dance lesson consists of a half hour private lesson, followed by two, 45 minute group classes. Two hours in ballroom dance shoes is pushing my limits. It isn't bad if we are working on quick dances and not a lot of technique.

That wasn't the case last night. Lots of concentration on the footwork. I felt like a whiny child the last half hour of the last class. I just wanted to go home (it didn't help that I was in over my head, as a 'lead' in an intermediate class).

Was I just using my feet as an excuse? When I woke up with the oh-my-aching-feet sensation this morning, I decided the discomfort was real.

I have been rather disheartened to find my feet hurting at my Zumba and Bellyfit classes. My extra-wide feet are being squeezed into only a 'wide' shoe. One of my toes is complaining. I found a 'corn wrap' to cushion my poor little (not so little when it is swollen) toe this morning. I was so happy when I found this perfect little toe-wrap in the drawer. I may need to stock up on those ...

Once again, as I weigh the benefits of working-from-home verses working-in-an-office, the dress code is one of the main benefits finding employment within the confines of home! Sock feet, bare feet, easy-to-slide-into summer shoes. I may never work in an office again. The perks of casual footwear is a huge boon to me in my chosen profession.

A friend asked if I would be interested in attending a Scottish Country Dance class. I was 'in' as soon as I read the invitation. Then I went to YouTube and checked it out. And what captured my attention first and foremost? The shoes. I don't have shoes that look like they'll work for that type of dance. I don't think my latin ballroom dance shoes will work in that venue. Neither will my clunky, comfy Dr. Scholl's. It may come down to the shoes ...

If I can find a comfy shoe that allows me to follow where the music leads, I'll go anywhere. Until then, I'll be home nursing my poor 'morning after' feet.

It's all about the shoes for me.

P.S. Right after I posted this, I investigated Dr. Scholl's (mostly because I had 'googled' it to make sure I had spelled it correctly) and this is what I found:



Ask and you shall receive!!! Scottish Country Dancing?? I'm in!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Powerful

While the power was out yesterday morning, I sat down and started to write.

Throughout the past few weeks, I had been scribbling down words and thoughts as they came to mind. It was an email that I wanted to send but I didn't want to write it under duress. I wanted to put it together when my mind was clear and quiet. Yesterday morning's power outage gave me the opportunity I had been waiting for.

Back in my Daycare Days, I wrote newsletters when recurring issues started overtaking my thoughts. Writing down my thoughts and putting them on paper gave me an opportunity to formulate my thoughts and communicate them to everyone in a safe, non-accusatory way. It helped me confront many small issues that would have gotten out of hand if I hadn't said anything. How can you expect people to change if you don't give them the opportunity to know what you are thinking? And more importantly, how could I live with myself if I created a 'world' where I allowed people to take advantage of me.

The mantra I developed for myself in my Daycare Days was "I have no right to complain about a situation if I don't do anything to change it". If people took advantage of me and I said nothing, it was my own fault. For the first time in my life, I took a stand. And people actually respected me for it. Go figure ...

There have been small recurring issues in my work-world lately. I have been frustrated, but not at my boss ... because how could he know there was a problem if I didn't tell him??

Yesterday I put the words together and formulated an email (there is simply no time to talk when I'm working, so an email was the means of communication I chose).

I thought that I would need to let the words 'breathe' for a few days before I hit the send button. But they had been quietly coming together in my mind for the past few months. So I sent off my email early yesterday morning.

The reply came shortly thereafter. We addressed the issues that I had brought up and talked. I felt back in control of that particular part of my world.

The quiet of yesterday morning provided the time and opportunity to put myself back in the driver's seat of my life. Where I was feeling powerless, I took the reins and felt powerful once again. Not in a forceful way ... but a quiet way which says, "This is my situation ... I would appreciate us finding a workable solution together."

And we did.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Powerless

The power went out for a half hour this morning. We were powerless in more ways than one. It was wonderful.

I had a bath by candlelight. Bathing/showering for me is a quick, must-do item on my agenda. Relaxing is not part of the equation. Even by candlelight, I wasted no time. But there was a sense of slowing down, as the candle flickered in the room.

My Youngest woke up because everything was dark and quiet. I usually flick on lights and turn on his radio to rouse him if he sleeps in. Who knew that utter silence and darkness would be more effective?

I went around the house and opened all of the blinds. The sun hadn't started to rise, but even the moonlight reflected on the snow provided natural light. I usually don't even bother opening the blinds in the bedrooms during the day. But there was a sense of awakening to the world around us, when I let the outside light up our home.

Candles flickered in the kitchen. It was quiet - not even the hum of the fridge, computer or furnace to distract from the peace. The simple 'tick-tocks' of our battery operated clocks were the only background music to the morning.

My Youngest stayed upstairs this morning. The pitch blackness of his favorite room downstairs was of little appeal to him. It was nice to have him close by.

Soon enough, My Youngest pulled out our portable DVD player to entertain him while he awaited 'the light'. I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote by candlelight. We co-existed in the same space, but retreated to our regularly scheduled morning routines.

I was almost saddened when the lights came on a half hour later. I enjoyed the quiet of the morning, sharing time with My Youngest and feeling the sensation of not being able do any more than I was allowed to do without power.

Every now and again, it feels okay to be powerless.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Unrelated Thoughts

The year of turning "50" is full of surprises!

In honor of this landmark decade of my life, I received yet another surprise in the mail. A letter welcoming me to the Screening Program for Breast Cancer. A provincial health program that provides screening mammograms to women starting at age 50. ♫ "Happy Birthday to Me" ♫. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My horoscope for the week:

"You may not feel that you have the skills to tackle the job you are given, but that doesn't keep you from doing a fantastic job. Your performance is even better than that of more experienced folks, largely because of the questions you ask. You assume nothing and learn everything you need to know."

Assuming nothing got me a sharp reprimand yesterday from Boss #2. But I know he didn't mean it (??). He wants things done right and on a normal day, he appreciates a question verses an error.

As for the rest of my world? I feel lacking in skills in so many areas that it isn't funny. As I retyped my horoscope, my life flashed before my eyes and I felt inadequate in every facet of my being. So I will focus on the first sentence of the horoscope and keep asking questions. And learning ...
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I feel 'the right kind of busy' these days. And it feels marvelous!!

Work by day, forage for food (I still define my cooking as a survival skill) at supper time and the evening is mine, to do with as I please!

Last night, I chose to buy groceries (believe it or not, the food supplies are finally dwindling now that we are into our second straight week of eating at home), talk to my mom and go out and 'Zumba'!!!

It was a perfect way to end a day.
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Speaking of 'Zumba', I had an all time worst 'Zumba Experience' last night.

I have been scouring the city for Zumba classes and going whereever that road leads. Each instructor has their own set of skills, enthusiasm, talents and zest for Zumba. I have been absorbing something from each and every one of them.

Last night, the instructor was over-the-top talented, physically fit and inspiring. I was so lost, I could barely find my way to my water bottle. But I perservered.

But it beat spending the night in front of the computer. Or sleeping.
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My thoughts, as I wrote my blog post of yesterday morning 'Chasing Rainbows' resonated with me throughout the day yesterday.

After writing that post, the first person that I spoke with that day had suffered a tragic loss in her family network this past weekend.

Two sisters were driving on the highway. They were jackknifed by a car coming onto the highway from a side road. A young 23 year old girl died. Her sister (the driver) survived.

Driving down a road as they had probably done countless times before. Having a conversation that really didn't matter in the whole scheme of things (as it turns out, they were arguing at the time). Young, vital and alive one moment. And in the fraction of a second .... ..... life will never be the same.
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So I am going to close, with a quote that I found from a good friend in my Inbox this morning from the book "My Grandfather’s Blessings":

“Place in everyone that carries the light. But one candle does not do much in the darkness. God has not only given us the chance to carry the light, he has made it possible for us to kindle and strengthen the light in one another, passing the light along. This is the way God’s light will shine forever in this world."
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I want to thank each and every person who brings light into my world. You know who you are ...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chasing Rainbows

Late last night, I glanced at the leaflets that came along with the Sunday paper that was delivered yesterday.

One was advertising the need for a 'flyer carrier' in our neighborhood. The other, was advertising the need for school bus drivers. In my present-day dilemma of not loving my job, I went to bed thinking "Maybe it's a sign ..."

This morning, I awoke to find messages from two different friends. Once again, I internalized their circumstances and I thought "Life is too short ..."

We have no idea what lies around the next corner.

When we have our health ... we tend to take it for granted. When our family is healthy and self sufficient, that too, is something we don't fully appreciate until it is gone.

When we look back at the life we lived, what will bring the greatest sense of accomplishment? A life spent chasing dollars ... or a lifetime of making memories, making a difference in the lives of others and chasing rainbows?

I choose rainbows.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Communication

Yesterday morning at my Bellyfit class, I drew the word "Communication" (from the word-jar, full of one word cards) to focus on yesterday.

I read it and immediately I commented that I already communicate. A lot. I email, write letters, blog ...

The lady I was talking to stopped me before I continued. She said, "Maybe you need to communicate less today".

Hmmmm.

I did what I had to do yesterday and when I finally came home, I couldn't believe how relieved I was that I didn't have any phone calls or emails to return.

I didn't blog yesterday. And that was okay. The phone didn't ring yesterday. I received one email (in response to an email that I had just sent, so it didn't require a reply).

I was quiet.

And it felt very, very good.

Who knew that perhaps you can communicate too much??

That said, I don't want to make a habit of it. Thus, two blog posts this morning and I'm off to write my weekly letter to my mom ...

Our Disposable Society

I think it all started with the Bic pens .... buy something cheap and just throw it away when you are done. The next thing you knew, it was cheaper to throw away your VCR and buy a new one. It seemed crazy, but it was cheaper (plus you got all the new features with your newer, cheaper model).

It is still my tendency to repair verses buy.

Last month, it was the beater bar on the vacuum. The vacuum worked fine. The beater bar was toast. I bought a beater bar.

This month, I found a perfectly good purse while I was housecleaning. All it needed was a new pull-tab for the zipper. I had it repaired.

A few days ago, the dryer was making a loud, grinding noise. This is a dryer that came with our house and we've lived here over 14 years. They don't make motors for this dryer any more. It's a good dryer. So I phoned my friendly appliance repair shop and one quick house call later, the dryer was up and running again.

After this last repair, I was kind of proud of myself. A lot of people would have just run out and bought something new. I felt that I had made a wise economic choice by fixing what I already had. So I tallied up my savings:

New beater bar - $219.00      verses     New vacuum cleaner - $329 99
Fix zipper tab -    $    6.60      verses      New purse (approx)  -  $  20.00
Repair dryer -      $147.30      verses     New dryer -                      $328.90
                                   $372.99                                                                      $678.89

And what do I have? An vacuum cleaner that may die of another 'death' at any time, a dryer running on borrowed time (my 'new' motor is someone else's used one) and ... a purse that I like.

I spent more than I saved. I was disgusted.

My belongings aren't sitting in a garbage dump. They are still living a vital and productive life in my home.

It was at this point that I thought there should be a tax credit for 'repairs'. I'm saving the planet (a little bit). I'm not saving a great deal of money. In fact, I could be spending a lot more money than I should have, since my old stuff doesn't come with a warranty. There should be some kind of incentive in place to encourage people to extend the life of their belongings.

Disposable pens, disposable razors, disposable VCR's ... What is our world coming to??

The sense of permanence is fading. The land fills are overflowing. People are overspending (the prices I quoted for new items are the bottom line prices. Chances are, that you would walk into a store and pay hundreds more than that after doing some comparison shopping). Don't even get me started on the disposable nature of relationships these days ........

What happened to the sense of  'forever'? Is that just a fairy tale ending now-a-days?

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Got My 'Happy' Back!

I've grown quite accustomed to walking around and facing life with a smile and a sense of 'happy'.

Smile and the world smiles with you. It's true. When I walk around with my happy on, people are cheerful and open. Even when someone isn't outwardly glowing, I can usually find a crack in the veneer and feel a little of their inner happy.

Lately, I've been so glum that I've been annoying myself.

I have been walking around with a cloud over my head. I have been feeling powerless to make changes ... when I know that is not true. I have been hovering in between the state of action and fear. I have been doing nothing about my circumstances when I know that I have the power to take charge of these fears. But I have felt paralyzed in the state of indecision.

My Second Son sat down and had a talk with me. He didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. "I'm tired of looking at that mopey face!" ... he stated the obvious. "Well, I'm tired of it too!!" was my reply. "You are not impressing me" he said (of my lack of work ethic when it comes to handling his bookwork). "Well, I'm not impressing myself" I said (wondering if my other bosses are picking up on this as well .... hmmmmmm).

It was a talk I didn't need to have. Because I was already berating myself worse than another human being possibly could. But it was good to get the words out of my head and onto the table. And deal with them!

Once the words were unleashed, I needed to purge them from my mind. I needed to talk to someone who would not judge me or tell me what to do. The negativity within me was at toxic levels and I needed to release the words and emotions ... and let them go.

So I did.

Yesterday was the first day in a very long time, that I felt I had my 'happy' back. Not in a temporary dance or birthday induced state. I feel like "I" am back. The real me. The happy me.

I walked through a day of mundane bookkeeping work yesterday. At home. While it snowed outside. And snowed. And snowed some more. And lucky me .... even though I was doing a job that I do not enjoy, the words, "I love my job" passed through my mind. Even though I finally uttered (words that I have been suppressing) aloud to my mom an hour later, "I hate my job". Because I do. I really despise the inane tasks that I have been paid to do. On a regular basis. But yesterday? Even though I hated the work I was doing, I loved the fact that I was working from my home. It was something to hold onto.

The evening before, I had taken steps to make some changes. Baby steps. Forward steps. Steps that require energy and determination. But steps that could change my life.

I am making choices. To decide to do nothing or decide to do something. Either way, a choice had to be made. I am doing nothing (consciously) about some things. But I am doing something, about others.

I'm taking charge. I'm back in the driver's seat of my life. I got my 'happy' back!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back-up Plans

I like working with a safety net. If things don't go as planned, I like to have a Plan A, B and/or C to fall back on.

When I worked full time, I lived in a world of paid holidays, sick time and I made a habit of career-longevity. I felt safe.

When I dared to start my daycare, I did so by first of all taking a year leave of absence from my job. A trial period. If I couldn't make a go of my daycare, I had a full-time job waiting for me.

When the year was up, I approached my work place about hiring me for 'Saturdays-only'. It was an arrangement that worked well for both me and my employer. I earned an income that paid my mortgage interest and I had the opportunity to apply for a full time job if one came available. I was safe.

I did that for 10 years. Eventually the six day work week wore me out.

I took another year leave of absence. A year to try out a new sideline of bookkeeping. I babysat by day and squeezed in my bookkeeping where ever I could. I went from working 6 days a week ... to sometimes working 7 days, plus evenings.

At the end of that last leave of absence, I had to make a decision. To go back to my Saturday-only employment?? Or not.

I chose 'not'. I went back to school and took a course to expand my bookkeeping horizons. I ran my daycare before and after school. I did bookkeeping evenings and weekends. My Youngest Son stated what was blatantly obvious to him: "You are always working now ..."

Then I finished school. I was ready, willing and able to work full-time for my current bookkeeping employer. They led me to believe that there was more than full-time work available, if I wanted it. I was working without a net ... but I had a plan. Or so I thought.

Since I finished school, nothing has gone as planned. Full-time work is not available with my current employer.

I found a second job. A job that was supposedly to be within the hours of 9 - 3, Monday to Friday. There was no schedule. I would be called in, as needed. I thought that was the answer to the instability of my bookkeeping job.

In my bookkeeping world, I strived to make the 40 hour work week become a reality. I took the initiative and kept hounding them for work. For a month. I felt like I had hassled them to the point of exasperation. So I have reigned myself back in. In doing so, I have become fearful. Fearful to make it known what I need to make this work for me.

My second job has become a 'jump-when-I-am-called' position. Only because I have allowed it. I was available and frustrated with my bookkeeping, so I let this on-call position rule my life. I have worked well beyond 3:00 (to the point where My Youngest is frustrated because I am 'never' home when he comes home from school). I have worked Saturdays. I have worked Sundays. I have allowed this to happen.

I am spinning my wheels. Like a car stuck on a patch of ice, I am expending a lot of futile energy and not making any headway. I'm not even making enough to pay the bills ...

I am not in control of my destiny right now. I have handed the reigns over and have just coasted. I was hopeful that things would find a way of working out, if I didn't go against the current.

Enough is enough! It is time to take a stand, make a plan and forge onwards.

I am presently working on a Plan C. Since Plan A (bookkeeping) and Plan B (casual work position) are not fueling my passions, I am going after something that is! I'm not certain that this will become a money making proposition ... but I am taking the necessary steps, with that as my end goal.

Taking the opportunity to learn is never a waste of time, energy or money. I have enrolled in a home study course ...

That ... is Step One, in a Five Step Program to create a Plan C. A plan ... a safety net that fuels my passion, energizes me and feels like it was what I should have been doing all along.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thank You

My two favorite words in the English language: "Thank you."

I once heard, that if the only prayer you offer is "Thank you ....", it is enough. I find great peace in offering my gratitude to a Power greater than myself.

They are my favorite words to speak (and write), the most valuable words I have learned and passed along to my children and they are a gift when you are on the receiving end.

My mom is a big stickler on Thank You Notes. She can tell you who has not thanked her for a gift, what year it was and all of the circumstances surrounding the particular situation. She also remembers those that do thank her - quick acknowledgements move you up on 'her list' in a memorable way.

I don't track my thank you acknowledgements as religiously as my mom does. I do and give what I do, because I enjoy it. I give a gift because it feels right. I give from the heart. I do not enjoy the pressure of  'obligatory' gift giving occasions. The flow of giving is lost when a gift is expected. The gift of 'giving' is a treasure unto itself.

I can tell when I'm giving under pressure. It is then, that I am looking for an acknowledgement.

My last years of daycare were very much like that. I used to put together a yearbook for each of the kids at Christmas time - pictures, poems (tacky as they may have been) about our year, bios which highlighted each one of the children, a 'letter of gratitude' to my families for all that they gave me throughout the year and a 'signature page' where each of the kids signed to the best of their ability (which evolved from year to year). My last year of daycare gift-giving involved putting together personalized DVD's of mini-video creations where each particular child 'shone'. I spent weeks putting these personalized gifts together for each child. I added a Christmas card where I wrote individual messages to each one of my families, My Youngest went shopping at the Dollarama so that he could give a gift to each of the kids, and I tossed in a store bought toy from 'me'. The dollar value of the gift was nominal. The time and effort is where I 'spent' my fortune.

I gave these gifts to each of my families ... which grew with each year. The 'thank you's' decreased, each and every year. Until the last year, until I received possibly one acknowledgement from a group of ten (?). I was disheartened.

That was the last year of the yearbooks, the DVD's and the creative gifts. A great part of the magic of Christmas was lost when I stopped creating these little 'masterpieces'. Yet two years later, what I tend to remember was the lack of gratitude. I was giving for the wrong reasons. I benefited from these gifts because these yearbooks and DVD's forced me to focus on the positive (something that I was having a much harder time doing, as they daycare years drew to a close). But the spirit of giving was lost.

This morning's post is inspired by a 'note of gratitude' that I received from a friend this morning.

I had completely forgotten what I had done until she reminded me this morning. Again - it was something that cost nothing but time. A project that I struggled with a little because my creative juices weren't flowing from the onset. But with a little help from my friend, I kept tweaking it a little here and there. By the time I gave her the finished project, I had put it to rest in my mind. I had done my best. The end.

Then I received this gift from my friend this morning. The words "... I just feel so grateful ..." made my spirit soar. I had hoped that the end result of our collaborative effort would be okay. And I was grateful that it was.

The only words that compare to "Thank You" in my mind?

"You're Welcome" ... when I give, I give from within. The gifts may be small and without cost. The gift of giving is the best gift of all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Found Him!

July 29, 2010 - Quote from my own blog "I Love Being Single"

"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'!"
 
I woke up this morning completely turned around in my bed. I was laying almost horizontally across the top of my bed. The alarm clock was no where near where I expected it to be.
 
When I finally dragged myself out of bed, I saw why I had assumed that particular position. Our (not even) 10 pound cat had all 26 inches of him (from the tip of his head to the end of his extended tail) sprawled out and perfectly positioned smack dab in the middle of my bed.
 
I laughed to myself when I immediately remembered my wish (quoted above). I have found 'my man' ... I've had what I've wanted all along!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quiet

It's a rare thing. But every once in a while ... I am quiet.

I've become a chatty little thing. I chatter incessantly.

If I'm happy, the words fall out of me with abandon. If I'm upset, I speak the words in my head to stop the unending cycle of repetitive thoughts in my mind. If I'm angry, I vent. If I'm frustrated, I tend to verbalize a lot until the mystery of my mind is solved. If I'm bored, I talk. If I'm lonely, I look for someone to visit. If I'm feeling sociable, the words are unending. Then, when I'm tired ... I sleep.

But every once in a blue moon ... I am quiet. I had such a day last week.

My Second Son was perplexed. I always talk. But this day? He asked me a question and I answered in as few words as possible. He asked what was wrong. My reply? "I just feel quiet today. It happens."

He was on to a little more than I let on. But talking wasn't the answer that day.

I simply didn't feel 'myself'. And I had little desire to encourage that behaviour by bringing it out of the closet and talking about it.

I felt uncertain and a little bit lost at that moment. Just little things. Wishing I knew all of the answers. Angry at myself for losing my momentum - my motivation. I felt uninspired and lazy. Overwhelmed at some of the projects I have taken on. But mostly frustrated with myself. Nothing and no one else. Just me.

I didn't want a pep talk from an outside source to get me through the moment. I knew it had to come from within.

So I was quiet.

I woke up yesterday morning and I felt revived again. Ready to start the process of taking the necessary steps to move in a forward direction.

I sat still with my coffee and this empty blog before me this morning and felt a little bit of what I was feeling last week. I just wanted to curl up in a little ball (like our cat), bury my head in my hands and be invisible. And quiet.

That isn't the answer. It's a brand new week and even if I don't feel up to running a marathon this week, I can keep taking small, consistent and steps to propel me forward. Out of the quiet and into the real world.

We all need to be quiet with ourselves every now and again. I find a sense of being reborn after pushing through times of insecurity and doubt. The key is to keep taking forward steps. They may be small. They may not get you to your destination as fast as you wish. But as long as you are taking steps in a forward direction, you will move out of the 'quiet' and back towards the light ... and the life you aspire to live.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Perfect Days

Sunday is my favorite day of the week!

This morning, I awoke with an agenda. The first time I've had 'an agenda' for quite a while. Sunday or not ... I had to accomplish something with the day.

I succeeded.

From 6:00 until 10:30 a.m., I was busy doing and accomplishing tasks that I had set out before me. I had just showered and gotten 'prettied up' for the day when the phone rang. And it just never stopped!

A call from my mom. A call to go to work. A call to meet a good friend (pseudo-cousin) for coffee. Another call from my other job. A call to go out for supper (this must be the end of my 'birthday treats' that have been ongoing since October 2nd!!!). And emails ...

I had a nice visit with my mom. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with my cousin/friend that I haven't had an opportunity to visit with for years (and years!). It felt good to put in some work-hours (and much appreciated by my boss). Unfortunately, I couldn't be at all places at all times, so I must go out tomorrow morning to pick up my work from my other boss. And the day ended with a most enjoyable birthday supper with two out of three of My Sons.

It was an ideal balance of work, play, family and friendship. Perfect!!

What a most wonderful way to kick-start a bright and shiny new week.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Flip Side of Facebook

Facebook, texting, tweeting and all the rest of the massive ways we have to instantly communicate these days have certainly been getting a bad rap lately. It's unfortunate that a select few take a good thing and turn it into something negative.

The whole reason Facebook came to be so popular is because people want to stay connected to those who live somewhere else ... who have drifted through a person's life ... and you don't want to close the door on what could be a long lasting friendship.

Or at least that is why I enjoy Facebook.

Yesterday afternoon, a brief message from a friend from 'a lifetime ago' ended up being a correspondence that volleyed back and forth between us throughout the afternoon and early evening. Then I woke up to one final message from this friend this morning.

We caught up (as much as one can, when you are trying to be brief with your words) on each other's life ... but what was so incredibly special was to hear a voice from the past come across through the words chosen to tell the story of 'them'.

Old memories, happy thoughts, laughter and the essence of this friend from long ago came back to me as we messaged back and forth.

That ... is what Facebook is all about. Finding ways to stay connected to those who have impacted your life.

I embrace any opportunity that I find, to help me keep in touch with family and friends. It was a most wonderful visit with an old friend ... and I look forward to many more.

Photos to Keep Me Humble

There is nothing like candid photos from a surprise party to keep a person humble:

Lesson #1


Don't accentuate the "th" in words when cameras are around!
(There is a story behind this expression ... and I can almost guarantee you that I'm making this face to my mom!! It's no wonder she gets annoyed with me from time to time .....)

Lesson #2


Never, NEVER put tanning lotion on your face!!!! Ugh!!

Lesson #3


''Always'' wear gold lamé and bling ... it takes away from the stupid expressions on your face!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sigh ...

I started yesterday by taking a "Real Age" test ... to see how my biological age compared to my calendar age. It seemed like a fitting way to start the 50th year of my life.

The last time I took this test, my biological age was far younger than my calendar age. I assumed that this would be the case once again and I would carry on my merry little way, continuing to live my life as I have been living it.

I took the test and eagerly awaited the final tally. Da ... da ... da .... DAH!! Then it was there before me. My biological age was 49.7!

I redid the test, making healthier food and exercise choices and assumed it would drop the age by a decade. Once again, I eagerly anticipated the revised age if I revised my diet and activity routine. The age 46.5 flashed before me. Three years? That's all?!??

So ... I then proceeded to eat my way through the remains of last weekend's party food. The chips and ice cream cake are gone. My supper was Triscuits (black pepper and olive oil .... my newest flavor sensation!!) with cheese and pickles. I came home after dancing and ate a piece of cheesecake and 'vegetable crinkle chips' until my stomach hurt.

Take that, 'Real Age'!!! If you knew the foods that I was consuming that fell in between the cracks of what you asked ... I am frightened to know how 'old' you would say my biological age is.

This morning I'm still suffering a vegetable crinkle chip hangover. I'm nursing it with coffee and it's not going so well.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I wonder what decisions I will make today, to make the rest of my life full of health and good cheer.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pushing Through

Sometimes it's easier when there is no choice in the matter.

When you have a predetermined work schedule and you must be at a defined place at a set time ... you do it. You may not want to do it. But you do. Approximately eight hours later ... your work day is done. Complete. Over.

Appointments. You are told where to be and what time. You simply follow the instructions. It may not be ideal, but you do what has to be done. You work around it.

Then there is the housework. It's amazing that a person can get the job done if there is a reason to do it. When I know I have company coming, I have the desire, drive and endurance to simply do the work (you've gotta love 'surprise parties' ... a most excellent excuse to skip the housecleaning and go straight to the fun!).

Cooking. Oh my gosh. Cooking. Cooking is my nemesis. Survival cooking is what I do best. Yet, when my heart is in it, I can produce a meal that is not only edible ... but is actually tasty as well (trust me, that has not been the case in the past few months).

The act of cooking starts to blur the line. It is necessary and required. Yet ... there is an artistic and creative flair that pushes the limits. I can pull out a frozen entree, cook it, place it on the table and it is consumed. We survive. But when I actually take the time to choose a menu, cook from scratch and orchestrate a meal so that flavors, textures and colors are part of the process ... something changes.

There is nothing more mouth watering than the aroma of your favorite food cooking. The old fashioned way - in the oven. Fast food, microwave entrees, quick frozen-to-table food doesn't give your taste buds an opportunity to anticipate the meal.

Utilizing your creativity and passion is something that doesn't happen on demand (at least not for me). I write when the spirit moves me (which is normally first thing in the morning). I come up with creative little projects one small piece at a time ... and one day it all seems to come together. If I push the creative process, it shows. It looks/reads/'smells' as bad as a meal I cook under duress.

These past days have been heavenly.

Day #1 - My definition of a most perfect day! I did what was required to do. I ran errands, went to my Bellyfit class and put in a four hour work day before I participated in a fun dance event and outing ... then a completely and totally unexpected surprise party awaited me upon my return home.

Day #2 - breakfast with my family who had travelled and gone out of their way to all be part of this celebration. I didn't waste the mood on housework, errands or bookkeeping after they left. I sat still with my memories and followed the flow of the day. The creative juices were beginning to flow.

Day #3 - back to work. As luck would have it, I was required to go to work and then wait for my boss to attend a meeting and return with more work. I didn't have enough work to keep me occupied. So I grabbed some paper and a pen ... and I wrote. Thank-you notes started flowing from my fingertips with ease. The words came easily. All I had to do was write. So I did.

Day #4 - ended up revolving around a project that I was doing for a friend. A project that I was trying to squeeze into the time available. Evenings and weekends. A project that required creativity and forethought. A project with a deadline.

I forced my way through this project. Just to get it started. My next attempt added some small touches that helped. It wasn't until I started getting feedback that the creative juices started to flow. And when they did, I simply couldn't stop the momentum to put in a 'required' work day.

I can push my way through numbers, deadlines and necessities of my job(s). I can't push my way through writing or putting together something that has some feeling behind it.

When the creative juices flow, I love to be able to follow the current and go with it.

That is what I have done this week.

Now, I simply must push through and do the work.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Real Life

Into each life, a little reality must fall.

Just a quick post today as I must jump back into my 'life as I know it' ....

The descent back down to earth after the excitement this past weekend has been a joyful ride. Kind of like I've been sliding down a rainbow. When I eventually hit sold ground, I landed in a pot of gold.

Such is my life. Truly a treasure!

My reality is pretty awesome.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Afterglow

I hope the magic doesn't fade after I write this ... sometimes the best part of a memory is holding it near and dear to your heart and not tainting it by taking it apart and looking at each individual piece of a most incredibly special 'whole' ...

I cannot neglect to mention the 35 days that preceded Saturday night ...

It all started when my sisters treated me to a 'Hair Make-Over Day' and a fun-filled Sister Day last month. They surprised and shocked me when they had already paid for the cost of my hair make over in honor of my upcoming birthday. Surprise!

A few weeks later, my good friends treated me to an Overnight Adventure. It came with only instructions as to what to pack, a vague outline of the day so I knew what kind of shoes to bring and a timeline as to when our adventure began and ended. They treated me to an overnight stay at a Bed & Breakfast - in honor of not only my birthday ... but my dream of running a B & B myself one day. It was an amazing adventure, a precious day with good friends and a peek at what life could be if I continue to follow my dreams. Surprise!!

Fast forward to this past Saturday night.

Unbeknownst to me, there had been a conspiracy going on behind my back. The strategy began in September. A date had been chosen to execute the plan and normally The-Girl-Who-Is-Always-Home-On-a-Saturday-Night would not mess with the game plan.

A dance event came up unexpectedly 11 days prior to D-Day. Who knew that my desire to dance with my formation team would set off a sequence of events to make the final execution of this plan such a challenge??

Can you imagine my surprise when I walked in the door after our Dance Performance ... to find 22 guests awaiting my (tardy) arrival?!?!

The complete and utter surprise was superseded only by finally focusing on the guests that had been part of the conspiracy. I blinked once and focused on my own children. I blinked again to realize that it wasn't one of My Sons in focus, but My Brother ... who was standing in the vicinity of My Sisters and My Mom (so that's where she had been, as my overactive imagination had 'found' her in a hospital emergency room when I couldn't reach her on Friday) !! One by one, I found a Cousin ... then Two More. A Friend ... and then Another. And my Aunt ... (and of course, all of their spouses).

Surprise!!!!!

There is something about a happy surprise that simply takes your breath away. You walk in the door, expecting an ordinary moment and poof!!! In one millisecond, you don't have time to consciously decipher what is unfolding in front of your eyes. There are less than zero expectations. Anything could happen from that moment on and it would be a delightful revelation because you were expecting to come home to ... 'what you expected'.

The evening was a delight. My only regret? Is that I was late for my own party! The hour that I lost with my family & friends, but gained with my dance friends having one quick drink (of pop ... no alcohol for me because I was driving home and supposedly going out for a drink with My Oldest Son).

As the evening came into focus, I had the opportunity to visit with my guests. The conversations were not long enough. I didn't get a chance to spend enough time with everyone. I barely spoke to my own family (hoping/knowing that they would be the last to leave), I thought we would have ample time to visit later ... and the next morning and 'forever' ....

Approximately 210ish minutes from the onset of the Biggest Surprise of My Life ... I was transported back to my reality. I was alone with my memories, cards and emotions of the evening.

As I quietly reflected, I found a representation of every facet of my life in the guests in attendance.

I 'found' each and every member of my immediate family. Need I say more? This is the family that is there for me when I don't even know I need them. This is the family that knows me better than I know myself. This is the family that I cherish, respect and love with all of my heart. They were all there ... as always.

I found my first-ever friend (we lived a handful of miles away on the farm where I spent the first 9 years of my life). My friend and I have reconnected on many levels this past year and the easy friendship, way of thinking of rapport grows with each and every encounter. This year has been sprinkled with opportunities to strengthen our childhood bond.

I found my newest forever-friend (not only a person that represents my friend in real-life ... but a friend that I met through dancing!). This friend is not only a warm, friendly, interesting and a person that I treasure as a friend ... but she represents the first time I reached out a hand in friendship at the dance studio. Our budding friendship has encouraged me to continue to take risks and get to know 'the people who touch my life' better.

I found a cousin from my dad's side of the family (not only an amazing person who is my cousin, but him and his wife represent the very first bond I started to make with my cousins when I moved back 'home' 23 years ago).

I found two cousins from my mom's side of the family. These cousins are a delight and a breath of fresh air. I love being in their company ... but in addition to that, they 'represent' their sister, who is probably my closest cousin-friend (who, due to her beliefs could not attend a birthday celebration). It was a perfect 'gift' to enjoy the company of these cousins.

I found an Aunt from my mom's side. Not only was this aunt representative of her side of the family, but she was the only family I really knew when I first moved to this New City several decades ago. Plus I had the opportunity to get to know her even better as she provided many memories, reflections and perceptions of her life as I have collected memories for both Mom and Dad's family stories.

The only family member who was not represented in person, had managed to find my way into my mailbox. An Uncle from my dad's side had mailed a birthday card, which I received one day prior to this gathering. An uncle I have become extremely close to ... a 'piece' of my dad. I have never received a birthday card from him before ... Christmas? Always. Birthdays? It was like he 'knew' that it was important that he was with me on such a special occasion.

The emotions ... the words ... the afterglow ...

I'm in a most wonderful place this morning. Thanks to my Brother who was The Mastermind of this occasion; my Children who were his Co-Conspirators; and my Sisters and Mom who added all of the special touches to make this An Evening to Remember.

And the pictures that follow represent the physical mementos my guests left behind:

Please note that the milk, margarine, eggs and yogurt were the only things that were in the fridge when I left the house earlier that evening!!


I am overcome with appreciation and wonder. I am in awe with the special people in my life and a 'Milestone Birthday' which gave My Brother an opportunity to gather 'my life' together for one evening under my very own roof.

"Thank You" doesn't even begin to cover it ...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Turning 50 is Not For the Weak of Heart

I require a full night's sleep and fresh, morning thoughts to write about this one. But this little video clip will give you a preview of a blog post coming soon:

video

I have the best family and friends in the world.

In the mean time, this is an informal 'Thank You to the Good People in my Life':
(a brief commercial message (sorry) precedes the most appropriate song for my thoughts today)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bargain Store Beauty

Our dance formation team is performing our routine once again tonight, so I had to go through the paces of trying to 'beautify' myself.

This .... is what 5 hours in the 'salon' and $264.44 looks like (when we performed at 'Ballroom With a Twist' a few weeks ago):


And this ... is what I look like tonight, after 1 1/2 hours in my very own 'salon' (aka: bathroom) and a new tube of mascara ($11.65):


Things that make me go hmmmmmm .....

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dear Sweet Sixteen,

(I am writing a letter to my 16 year old self this morning, after reading this blog)

Dear Sixteen-Year-Old-Me,

I'm going to write you a letter. A letter that you won't fully understand or believe until you actually live your life. It is a letter that could change your life .... but the question is: "Is that a good thing?"

In about three months, you are going to meet a boy. He is going to notice you and yes! ... he will pursue you. Yes! You!!!

It's a heady thing - to finally have someone notice you! He's two years older than you and you will fall head-over-heels for him.

Most people in your life would tell you to run for the hills and never look back. I'm not telling you that - not even after all that I know today.

This boy will teach you a lot. You see the world through rose colored glasses right now. Those glasses will be ripped off, trampled on, tossed aside and you will never see the world quite the same again. But it's okay. Trust me ... these are lessons you need to learn. And believe me when I tell you that you will find some rose-tinted glasses that are ever so much better, to replace those that were lost.

I would love to tell you to walk away when the going gets tough ... but if you do, you will lose two of your children. That is an enormous sacrifice. So even if you knew what this path had in store, I couldn't tell you to high tail it and run. You lose something in this particular relationship ... but you gain more.

What I will tell you is that you cannot change anyone. All you can change is how you react to them. You teach people how to treat you. If you act like a door mat, you will get walked on. If you believe you are unworthy, you will attract people into your life that help make that prophecy come true. You cannot change him. He is who he is. Stay true to yourself.

Remember that the people in your life will not live forever. Appreciate the here and now. You will never regret telling someone how much you care or what an impact they have made on you and your life. Never hold back the positive. Put a voice to it and you will be amazed how it all comes back to you.

You will suffer a great loss early in your adult life. Life and death do not unfold as we expect. There are surprises at every turn. Treat everyone with care ... because you never know what news a phone call will bring.

You will endure heartache, loss, betrayal, disillusionment. You learn to expect this from some people ... but others will surprise you. Trust me when I tell you - the harder you fall, the greater you rise.

You will find friends for each season of your life. Your friends are beyond special - but I don't need to tell you this. You have already made some 'forever friends' and you will walk with them at your side throughout the ups and downs of your life. But you will continue to make friends where ever you go. Remember this. There will be a time when you don't believe it. You have yet to meet some of your best friends ...

Every single time you feel like you don't know where to turn, family will be there. Every time. You don't even have to ask ... there is a sixth sense when it comes to family. They will come to you, even when you don't know you need them.

If I could turn back the clock, the only thing I would change is to make sure my loved ones knew how much I loved them. Love is a verb. You don't have to say the words to communicate the emotion. Act in loving and respectful ways. Always. You will never regret it.

Bon voyage! You have quite a journey ahead of you. You will not only survive ... you will thrive.

Live life well. Be kind to yourself. And I'll see you in 34 years!!

With love,
Your 50 Year Old Self

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Where I Am Meant to Be

I have been struggling with my new 'career' choice.

The hours (or lack of) ... the unreliable pay cheques ... unpredictable days ... and do I even really want to do what I'm doing!?!

It seems funny that the lack of benefits, holiday pay and pension is really not even a concern. I learned long ago that the benefits of raising my own child and being the kind of mom that I want to be was a benefit that far outweighed dental coverage and sick days.

None the less, these past months have been a challenge that I wasn't expecting. So I've struggled.

I have questioned if I am just being lazy. Maybe I should get a 9 - 5 job, Monday to Friday (if a job like that exists any more) and enjoy the benefits of a secure pay cheque, paid holidays and a few of the luxuries a stable job provides.

But I keep going back and trying to make this 'new life' work. Even after last month's experiment where I made a conscious choice not to obsess about the instability of my pay cheques, I have come up fighting. I am determined to keep with it and see this through. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I just know there is!

Despite this valiant effort to talk myself through this, I have many doubts. They were all relieved a few nights ago as I was saying good night to My Youngest.

He said to me, "It seems like you are never home any more ....". Immediately, I cringed. The truth hurts. I have been gallivanting around a lot lately. Between Zumba, Bellyfit and dancing I seem to be flitting from one activity to the other all week. I knew the day of reckoning would come.

I went on to admit that I have been out a lot and was prepared to have a chat about this. And he cut me off to say, "No - it's not that. You are never here when I come home from school any more. I come home to find a note ..."

What? I have been here, there and everywhere after supper (for a few hours at a time) ... and what really matters to him is that I am home for him after school?? My after-supper-life doesn't bother him (as long as I'm home before he has to go to bed)!

His wants are simple. He's had a mom that has been home for all 12 years of his life. And he still wants that. Our conversations after school are almost non-existent. A brief acknowledgement between us, I may or may not ask about his day or if he has homework. Basically nothing. But I am here (sometimes).

Immediately, my doubts about this career choice were alleviated. I work an unpredictable schedule. I have no idea what my pay cheque will be at the end of the month. But I am striving to work from home to 'be here' on the chance that My Youngest may need me.

I am where I am meant to be.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Two Days In ...

Today is November 3rd. Two days of this bright and shiny new month are behind me. So far, so good ...

I marvelled aloud at supper time last night "It's November 2nd and we haven't had take-out food yet!". October was an all time record bad month in our take-out world. I recorded 20 entries in the 'take out' column where I record my spending. Twenty!! Granted, two of those were 'going out for milkshakes' and one was for coffee. But without even trying to think very hard, I know that I was treated to a restaurant meal at least twice (make that three times, now that I've had a moment to think about it). Twenty is pretty accurate. So to go two consecutive days in the new month without dining out is rather miraculous.

I have worked an average of 8.5 hours per day so far this month. Once again, this doesn't sound like anything too special until you take into account the fact that I averaged about 5 hours per day for the month of October. My goal is to work 10 hour days ... but I'll settle for 8. So far, so good.

I have allowed myself some small indulgences in the two days that I have seen in November. But both are bought and paid for. My credit card balance is 'zero' and I did not borrow from Peter to pay Paul to accomplish this. I have completely messed up my budgeting system (I usually have a credit balance on my credit card at the beginning of the month and use it like a chequing account) to do this, but for now this will have to do. I will be accountable and careful with my spending this month.

My other big goal for the month was to become motivated. Working a full 8 hour day, eating home cooked meals and regaining control of my spending has done wonders for my frame of mind. I have things I need to do and the energy to do them.

Then again, I am only two days into the new month. I hope that I'm setting a trend for the 28 days that follow ...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Caught!

I have been leaving a trail of forgetfulness behind me lately. For the most part, I have been the only one truly aware of it (though I'm sure my Second Son will vouch for the fact that I'm wrong with that assumption).

I was going along with the illusion that I was wading through the sea of absent mindedness alone until ... I got caught.

Let me rewind the tape:

Thursday night, a friend dropped off a gift in my mailbox. I didn't find it until Friday. Though when I did stumble across it, I was reminded of the conversation that we had earlier in the week, when she called to tell me that she would leave this in my mailbox on Thursday.

I immediately thought "I should email her to thank her and let her know that I received this ..." and then who knows what thought crossed my mind after that. But whatever it was, led me down a trail that is becoming all too familiar these days.

Fast forward to Sunday:

I received a gently worded email from this friend, asking if I had received her gift. I was embarassed and aghast at my oversight. It was simply a case of bad manners! 

I had left her gift on the kitchen table - following the logic that no gift may be used, worn or spent until the giver of the gift has received a formal 'thank you'. I should have left this reminder-to-self on the computer desk to remind me to email her. Immediately!

So I quickly responded with my sincerest apologies for my terrible manners plus an explanation (though that is still no excuse!!):

These days I seem to lose my train of thought in between destinations. I leave the bathroom & leave the light on to remind me that I must vacuum the floor ... then I remember I must empty the garbage too ... so I go to the kitchen to collect a bag for the garbage and empty the garbage from the kitchen too, but first I remember that I must throw that load of laundry in the dryer ... which reminds me I forgot to clean the cat litter ... half an hour later, I walk by the bathroom which still has the light on and I remember "Oh yes!! I must vacuum the floor ... but first, I must empty the garbage ... ...." and I'm off again. This goes on all day!

I didn't 'leave a light on', but I did think to myself when I received this package, "I must thank my friend so that she knows I received her gift ..." But then I may have found a scrap of paper with 'notes to self', reminding myself that I had to update my time sheet ... which reminded me that I needed to update in my cheque register .... and I was off on another tangent.

I have been very conscious of my tendency towards amnesia ever since. I've been leaving myself more notes and clues to remind me of what I need to do, and when. I zipped through this morning's chores and was quite proud of the fact that I seem to have woken up with all of my marbles intact.
 
But I really must end this blog post right here and now. I have left the bathroom light on again. There is something else that I must remember to do ...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Turning Over a New Leaf (and a new calendar page)

This is it! I must write quickly, get my Mom's letter mailed, lunch made and be on with my day!!! November is the month that I pull up my socks and work 8 hour days, spend only what my budget allows, cook meals and become motivated!!!

October?? That was an experiment. Apparently, an experiment gone wrong.

I lived in the moment, stopped worrying about the budget, went with the flow and savored the moments. I thought at the end of that 'experiment', I would have discovered the secret to living well. I didn't.

It all started going terribly wrong last week.

The end of the month was looming and my credit card balance escalated to new heights. Not heights that it hasn't seen before. It simply soared beyond my means.

The end of the month arrived and not only did my bookkeeping work never pick up last month, but my motivation to work descended to an all time low. I could have worked this past weekend. But I didn't.

October was a write off in many ways. I knew I would have to compensate for that in November. So I thought I may as well 'enjoy' the last few days of un-motivation, overspending and laziness this past weekend.

Big mistake.

Hello November! I am so glad to turn the page and find a bright and shiny new month. Let's see what I can accomplish in the next 30 days ...