Saturday, April 30, 2011

Moving On

House shopping has always been one of my favorite things to do ...

My first home was the only one in which the choice was a joint effort. Our wedding day was around the corner and we shopped for our first place together.

It was fun and exciting, mixed with the reality of what we could afford. We ended up in a basement apartment which had everything we needed. It was a beginning.

From there, we moved up to the third floor after the birth of Our Oldest. Unfortunately, my next move was back in with my parents.

Ten months later, My Oldest and I were moving into Our Home. A townhouse condominium which had everything my young son and I would need for many years to come. A young community, filled with kids his age, a school, a corner store and a stone's throw from everything that was important to us.

Eight years and two reconciliations with my Ex later, My Two Oldest Children and I moved out and moved on with life. Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, we had to leave not only our home behind but almost all of our material belongings.

That did not deter me. I didn't want reminders of the past. We moved to a new province and into a completely empty townhouse. We filled it with our little family and the generous donations of many family members. We would make this townhouse a home. A safe haven. That was all that mattered.

We moved one more time before we found the home we were destined to find all along. A house where I can visualize living 'forever' ...

Each of my moves signified an important turning point in my life. Marriage, a growing family, independence, safety, hope and new beginnings. There is not one house along the way that we did not turn into a home. Not by the material belongings, interior decorations or by the extravagance of the house. But by making memories. Some good. Others, not so much.

My Oldest is moving into a new home today. He has been with me every move during every move that I have ever made. He was a silent partner in those moves. There was no choice in the matter for him.

When we abandoned the only home that he ever knew in the middle of the night, he was powerless. When I knew the fight for that house and the material belongings would never be worth the battle, I handed it all over. Not only my 'stuff' but all of My Oldest's belongings were left behind.

We walked away from not only his home and his toys - but his friends, the only school that he had ever known and his grandparents ...

As a young child of nine years old, he was old enough to know that was unfair beyond words. I didn't fight for any of it. He had no control over the situation.

My Oldest's first move from our family home was a traumatic experience. Once again, he was powerless. I thought I was handing the control over to him, but he didn't want to be forced. Not again.

The next decade of My Son's life consisted of moving due to various circumstances. Most of these, once again out of his control. His education consisted of moving back and forth between the city where he attended school and the various locals of his work placements along the way. When he completed school, he was so sick and tired of moving that he purchased a house. It was a rushed and not well thought out decision. It has never been his home.

It seemed to be a pattern. Moving was out of necessity, not choice has been the way of My Son's world. Until today.

Today ... he is moving into a house that he has chosen. The timing was his choice. The location is a place where he can foresee his future. It is not the house that he envisioned. Yet. There is time for that.

This is the move that I hope is the beginning of a new life. A life where he feels happy and in control of his destiny.

A new beginning. He is moving on.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Happily Ever After ...

I was born less than a year before Diana Spencer, so I watched with great interest when she fulfilled every young girl's dream of marrying her Prince Charming and living happily ever after.

By the time Diana married Charles, my illusion of fairy tale endings had already been shattered. I had been married, had a child, divorced, remarried (the same man) and was struggling with the harsh reality of married life by that date in history.

I watched a young Diana on the television screen before me and I didn't see a princess. I saw a real, live girl facing not only marriage ... but life under a magnifying glass, as the entire world watched the story of Charles and Diana unfold before them.

I put myself in her place and wondered how their story would turn out.

Sadly, as one would have expected in true fairy tale fashion, their marriage didn't last forever. I quietly championed for her, as she made her way in her new world after their divorce.

In 1997, my own life had hit a personal crisis level. I sequestered myself into a dome of solitude and silence as I dealt privately with a health issue. My home life was spiralling out of control. I felt alone and desperate in my own world when Diana's life here on earth ended. I mourned her death as I continued to fight my way through the days.

Little did I know that two short months later, I would be on the path that has led me to this very day. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse ... I started to see a ray of light. I have been following it ever since. Part of me died before I was reborn.

Today, another royal couple has pledged their solemn wedding vows in front of billions of people. This is a couple that (from all outward appearances) seems to have a very good chance at succeeding.

Kate is not a young, naive 20 year old girl. She is not marrying a man (almost) a generation older than her. The standards of the Royal Family Protocol have become more liberal. William has his mother's genes and he has learned much from both of his parents.

I still didn't watch a Prince marry his Princess this morning. I watched a mature, young couple with varying life experiences already under their belt make promises of 'forever' to each other.

I saw the hope of 'happily ever after' ...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Up Before the Alarm

I am excited to wake up each morning and find that the sun has woken before me.

Not only have I been sleeping through the night (this 'habit' of waking up in the middle of the night and being unable to go back to sleep has been going on for the better part of the last four years of my life) ... but I've been waking up rested and rejuvenated before the alarm goes off.

I have been going in to work an hour early this week. School holidays means that I don't have my before-school-daycare-charge. My Youngest sleeps in, so I am gone and getting paid for my day long before he even wakes up. This means that I have the flexibility to come home a little earlier as well.

But it hasn't been work that has been forcing me up out of bed in the morning. It is anticipation about the upcoming day that propels me forward.

My Inbox has been a fun place to visit this week. I have been corresponding with a number of people and it has not been unusual to find an email message waiting for me first thing in the morning.

My early morning thoughts are light and easy. I have had the opportunity to sit and write before I head off to work.

I love the quiet of the early morning. I am thrilled that I am in a place where I leap out of bed in the morning instead of lying there hitting the snooze button, dreading the day ahead of me.

During the low spots of my life, I well remember slowly making my bed in the mornings and looking at it with a sense of yearning. I couldn't wait to put the upcoming day behind me so that I could crawl between my blankets of warmth, comfort and security at the day's end.

These days, as much as I love when my head hits my most-favorite-feather-pillow-in-the-world at the end of my day ... I am just as happy to plump up that exact same pillow in the morning, knowing that I have a full day ahead of me.

Waking up to the sun shining between the cracks in the blinds and the birds singing trumps waking up to darkness and an alarm.

There is no hitting the snooze button when Mother Nature is your wake up call!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Planning 101

It seems that my planning and organizing skills are being brushed off and utilized a lot these days.

Not only am I counting down the days to my Great Alaskan Adventure ... but I'm helping My Oldest with a move ... planning to get together with friends ... tending to varying appointments ... a little bit of Zumba-ing ... and oh, I am working as well.

I get to be on the unpacking and organizing end of My Son's move. That will be an exciting place to be, as I explore his kitchen and all of the nooks and crannies of his new home! I was deflated when I heard that he couldn't rent a U-haul the day he had hoped to start moving. But I awoke with the realization that we can load up the cars and get the kitchen and bathrooms organized before the furniture starts coming in. Who needs a U-haul for that?? Onwards!!

I've been trying to organize a day to get together with friends. When you are working with four people's lives and commitments, one never knows how things will come together. It was easy for us to find a time and place to visit. The challenge was to work in a group-pedicure session. Finally yesterday, I simply called the salon and asked what days/times were available. As it turned out, there was only one day that worked. I booked it. Then I called and confirmed with my friends. And it worked!! True to my 'Field of Dreams' fill-in-the-blank-motto: If I book it .... they will come!

I have an array of my own personal appointments to tend to before my holidays. A little of this and a little of that. By the time I sail off, I should leave behind an empty whiteboard (at the moment, it is full of dates/times/and notations for the upcoming weeks).

Zumba. I have lost my Zumba-time this past month. All of the classes I signed up for ended around the time that I was going back and forth to my mom's last month. I hadn't decided what to do about enrolling in the new sessions. Not only had I run out of expendable cash ... I had run out of time. All of the new sessions ran into my Alaskan Adventure dates. The decision was made for me. I told myself that I would just 'drop-in' to some classes instead. But no commitment = no follow through. I haven't been to a Zumba class since March 14th. But ... I have paid and signed up for two Zumba 'Master Classes' this upcoming weekend. I am excited!!

My mom is planning a visit out this way the week before my Great Alaskan Adventure. She will have a chance to see My Oldest's new home, attend a graduation ceremony and a surprise birthday party. We have booked an evening at a Bed and Breakfast ... and I will be surrounded by my mom and siblings the weekend before I leave for the Greatest Adventure of My Life So Far. I am pumped!!

I sat down last night and looked at my budget. All things considered, I am doing okay. This working almost-full-time is a wonderful thing. I can actually budget once again!! I have a very good idea what income is coming in. I know the hours and days that I will be working. I can plan a life around my work instead of planning work around my life. As much as I loved the flexibility of working from home, this is better. Who knew??

Yes, life is busy. A good kind of busy. The kind of busy where 'the more you have to do, the more you get done'.

They say life is what happens when you are making other plans. That was last month. This month? I'm making plans to make the most of this life. So far, it is working.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Getting Ready

I have just over three weeks to organize my life so that I will be ready to set off of my All About Friends Holiday.

The preparations have begun!

ΓΌ I read (and read and read) the tons of literature, checked further into the cruise line's website and made inquires as to all of those boring little things one must tend to (vaccinations, required identification, baggage requirements/restrictions).

@ I have devised a ways and means of trying to update my blog as kind of 'travelling postcard' while I am away. I purchased a 'netbook' (a mini laptop) to take with me on my travels. I can write to my heart's content, then when I am able to connect with the Internet I can 'copy and paste' my ramblings to my blog without spending a lot of money on Internet charges (I hope).

Q  I have purchased a few luggage items which will fulfill my carry-on needs; my last night on the cruise overnight-bag needs; and my excursion needs. Boring little task, but fun because I can already envision myself utilizing these items and feel a sense of what is upcoming.

C I have booked various appointments prior to my departure. Some have absolutely nothing to do with the holiday. Others do. But the appointments that I am anticipating the most? The hair and the nails! Fun stuff. I seem to precede every Great Event of my life lately with a trip to my most favorite salon.

@ I have written Letters To My Youngest. One letter for him to open each day that I am away. In doing so, I have catapulted myself forward and I am now fully anticipating the events of each and every day of the Great Alaskan Adventure. In giving this gift to my son, I am reaping the rewards of an in depth preview of what is yet to come.

J I am taking full advantage of the time at my disposal before my vacation to get together with friends and family. I am filling up the waiting time with some of my favorite things to do - making memories within the confines of my regularly scheduled life. I feel like I'm creating a sense of fun and adventure within my world at home. This is one of the (many) reasons that home is my most favorite place in the world.
This holiday has absolutely nothing to do with escaping my reality. It is all about enhancing what I already have.
It's not so much of a check list. It is an emotional prelude of what is yet to come, while savoring every minute of my much cherished reality at home.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wings to Fly ...

I have had the opportunity to be home with my (almost)  13 year old son for 95% of his growing up years.

I babysat from my home and was with him (almost) every single hour and each and every day for the first 18 months of his life. Then I started working outside of my home for six hours each Saturday. I took some tentative steps away from My Youngest and found some time for myself during those adult hours of employment.

The years between then and last year were still predominantly spent with him. He had to accompany me every where I went until we started testing the waters of independence (for both of us) and I went to my dance lesson or ran errands while he stayed at home. It was a step. A small, gradual step which has grown to the place where he has now arrived.

Having my Middle Son at home has given me the opportunity to step out to Mom's whenever and however long is needed. My Youngest can tend to himself and my Middle Son is an ever present adult in his midst. Each of them are very self reliant and together they are a good, independent team. I know My Youngest is safe at home when his Older Brother is watching out for him.

I have always been very happy and reassured that My Youngest enjoyed being 'home'. More often than not, his friends come over here. So I know exactly where My Son is and what he is doing. I love that comfort.

This past weekend, My Youngest has stepped outside the box. Outside the safety and security of our home. And he likes it. He happily declared that this year, he will be spending a lot of time outside! I am happy. But I am so, so scared.

My little bird is trying out his wings. All of those seeds that have been planted are taking root. Now is the time I will begin to see who My Youngest is becoming.

Be safe, as you start to fly on your own ...

Please World, be kind. He's young and I know the world will have to teach him some lessons ... but please don't take away his desire to soar with the eagles.

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's All About Friends

I was talking to a long-time friend last night. One of my keep-forever-friends where (though I don't talk to often) it is like picking up from where we last left off as soon as we hear each other's voice.

She is the third friend that I hope to incorporate into my upcoming 'It's All About Friends' holiday.

First off, I will be going on this cruise with my very-first-friend-in-my-world.

I grew up on a farm and our nearest neighbors lived a few miles away, down a country road. My friend and I became friends because of where we lived. We remained friends until my family moved to another province when I was nine years old. We wrote and visited back and forth sporadically until I stopped going back 'home' with my parents. She came to my wedding and she came to my dad's funeral. We lost touch.

Fast forward to our town reunion five years ago. We sat down and reconnected. We marvelled at how easily we picked up and carried on our friendship. We vowed we would get together again (since we now both live in the same city). Three years came and went. Three years of exchanging Christmas greetings and promises of meeting up one day. Then (about one and a half years ago) we finally did it. We met for coffee ... and now we are going on an Alaskan Cruise Holiday together!

I am cruising with the first friend that I ever made.

Our destination is Anchorage, Alaska. Who lives there? My-first-best-friend-after-our-family-moved-to-another-province.

Once again, we became friends because of where our parents lived. My new best friend in the world lived a few doors down from us. Her family moved (from the U.S.) to Canada for two years because of her dad's job. We became fast and best friends, and made the most of those two years.

She moved back to the States when we were about 12 years old. Our family went to visit them the summer after they moved back 'home' and we have exchanged Christmas cards every year since then. We started corresponding semi-frequently after 9-11, when I dug out her email address from her last Christmas card with my condolences and concerns.

And now? I am taking an Alaskan cruise. My reunion with my long-time friend at the end of our voyage is like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The whole cruise-with-a-friend to meet-up-with-a-friend began because of a vow that my first-keep-forever-work-friend and I made when we were about 18 years old. "When we are 40 years old, let's go on a cruise together!"

Forty came and went. But this summer, we are each about six months away from being 50. So I brushed off the idea and asked what she thought. She thought (but didn't say) that she was hoping that we would cruise to someplace hot. My first time out of the gate with this idea, she suggested Mexico instead (so I tabled the idea and went on my Great Dance Adventure instead). The second time I suggested it, I was ready, willing and able to book the tickets. Still unable to get a firm commitment from her, I went ahead and booked myself on a cruise. I'd go alone if I had to ... but I was going.

As it turns out, the week that I chose was a week that she already had committed to a once-in-a-lifetime holiday as well. So .... it is our hope that she will be able to make it for supper and an overnight visit during our layover in a city four hours from where she now lives. Since we have been separated by far, far more than four hours for the past 22 years, we are crossing our fingers and hoping that the fates will be kind and allow us to have this short reunion.

I am going on a cruise with the first-friend-I-ever-made. At the end of the cruise awaits a new adventure as I get reaquainted with my first-best-friend-in-our-new-city. On the final leg of my journey lies the possibility of meeting up with my first-keep-forever-work-friend.

This holiday has little to do with fancy hotels, cruise ships, scenery and excursions. It's all about friends. What we will see and do together is unknown. The re-connections we will make ... will last a lifetime.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


My eating habits have spiralled completely out of control. I am eating for all the wrong reasons. My stomach cannot recuperate from each onslaught of food that is ingested, before I'm at it again. Something has got to give.

I know exactly when this began.

Two weeks before I went out to Mom's (the first time), I was actually forgetting to eat. It was awesome. Meal time would arrive and I hadn't snacked since my last feeding. I forgot to feel hungry.

What was the catalyst to this change? Writing my Fitness Knowledge exam on March 1st.

As I studied and prepared for that exam, I had been bribing myself with food. As a reward, encouragement and a means to keep plugging along. Writing and passing that exam released me from the stranglehold of my snacking habit. I was cured! I thought.

Two weeks later, I found myself unexpectedly at my mom's as our family rallied together when Mom's health was in jeopardy. Things in many corners of my world were spiralling out of control and there I was. Enveloped in family. I can picture all six of us sitting in Mom's living room. Mom, all four of her kids and my niece. And in the middle of it all? A circular coffee table with a nice little selection of snacks to nibble on.

My niece started something when she ran out to get 'a few things' and ended up coming home with a goodie bag that was filled with a variety of tasty little goodies that satisfied each and every one of our cravings.

A few days later, my sister and I went to replenish the grocery supply. Eagerly wanting to come home 'the heroes', we chose a few special treats and added them to the cart. Snacks + sisters = good times. We were on a roll.

I had to leave for a week and tend to my life at home. That week is a blur. But what do I remember coming back 'home' to at Mom's?? A fully reloaded stash of snacks!

I nibbled away at those treats on the cupboard over the course of the ten days I was there. But once again, I replenished the supply when my sister returned.

Three weeks (minus a few days) after it all began (our concerns about Mom, plus the snacking), I was plunked right back into my regularly scheduled life. Without my family and minus the cache of snacks. I was empty.

There was a void within me, that wasn't being satisfied by being surrounded by my siblings and my mom. There was little that I could do about that (other than phone each day and check in). But there was one void I could fill (and have been ever since!!). The snacks.

I made it through my first night home without the snack supply, but I quickly remedied that the next day. My snack cupboard has been full to overflowing (as has my stomach) ever since.

This weekend, My Youngest and I are going out to visit Mom. Not because she needs us to be there ... but because we want to be. This weekend, the cycle that began March 15th will come full circle.

March 15th, I ran out to Mom's and had absolutely no idea what life had in store. I arrived at Mom's and felt safe and secure in the company of my family (and food). When I had to leave that atmosphere, I took 'home' what I could (the food). I am now returning to Mom's - without worry or concern.

We will have a completely normal visit. A visit that revolves around visiting and coffee. A visit where we eat because it is meal time - not because our day has revolved around meal planning.

I am returning to Mom's life-as-I-know-it. I will come home full and satisfied. That sensation will have nothing to do with food.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"I Feel Better Than Ever!"

These are the words that my mom said to me when I called her yesterday.

Six weeks. It took six weeks to get from 'there' (the onset new and more frightening symptoms) to 'here' (feeling better than she's felt the past year ... or ever, to quote her).

Almost eleven months. It took close to a year, to get from the initial symptom to where we are today. A vague symptom, that in retrospect seems obvious (after learning what we now know).

Almost a year ago, her diagnosis was 'inflammation of the middle ear'. When she went to another doctor a week or two later, the second opinion was 'vertigo'. In all actuality, it was her heart. Most likely, it was her heart all along (her medical file indicates this fact).

In five weeks, she went to a doctor or emergency room five times. In five weeks, she has undergone another five tests or assessments.

The medication that has made the difference, was perscribed five days after the latest developments of 'new' (probably not so much new, but simply more of what she had been feeling all along) symptoms.

One well timed trip to the ER has made all of the difference in the world. She has been dealing with this for almost a year. Each time she visited a doctor, I'm almost certain that they would take her vitals out of habit (wouldn't they?). But finally ... this one time, she was in the middle of an attack where they could pinpoint exactly what was going wrong.

Sometimes we are powerless in life. Other times, golden opportunities arise. If we are very, very lucky these opportunities can change a life.

I feel better than ever, too. It feels beyond wonderful to have our mom back to where she was before (only better)!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Knew I Was in Trouble When ...

I caught up on all of the 'missed episodes' that I could watch uncomfortably on my computer chair. The chair is comfortable in many, many ways ... but not in a snuggling-up-and-watching-TV kind of way.

I utilize many different contortions and tools to keep me awake at the computer so that I can watch my favorite TV programs on line. They work for a while (being uncomfortable helps) but eventually, I do fall asleep at the computer.

Last night, I watched 'live' TV. It has been ages since I've watched a TV program on TV.

Disadvantage #1 - The only TV hooked up to cable upstairs is in my room. Me + TV = Sleep

So, I grabbed a bag of chips. Yup, that oughta keep me awake. Then I got tired of chips. So I grabbed some Easter chocolate. That went too fast and besides, I was thirsty. I got some flavored water. I still needed something to do during commercials, so as my program went on I continued to find different snack foods and eventually went back to my (stale) chips. My stomach wasn't feeling so good.

By this time, it was getting late (8:00) and I thought 'I should just get more comfy and get into my PJ's. Then I would be ready for bed.

I did that and then I was chilly. So I got 'more' ready for bed and slipped in under the cozy covers.

I don't remember much beyond that point. My Youngest 'woke' me (I must have felt his presence hovering in the doorway of my room) at some point around 9:00. We had a small chat and the next time I woke up, all of the lights were off and he was fast asleep in his room. I slept through his bed time.

This is why I don't watch 'real' TV. It is a sleeping pill. The only means that I know how to ward off sleep, is to eat.

My stomach hurts this morning. I have a chip/chocolate/jujube hangover. I knew I was in big trouble when I went to watch TV in my room. Never again!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Coming Up Empty

Usually by the time I sit down in front of this empty page, I have many seeds of thought and I just let my fingers do the talking once I pick a central theme to write about. This morning? Not so much.

I am four weekends away from my cruise!! Omigosh!

I wanted to write a book before I left. It doesn't look like that is going to happen.

My head has been all over the map these past few months. I have had such a nice, healthy dose of 'life' tossed my way that I forgot all about my upcoming holiday. Okay. I didn't forget. I just tabled my excitement.

It is now official. If I hope to get my money's worth out of this holiday, the time to start to become excited has arrived.

My first early morning thought of today? How many shoes will I really need to bring?? Walking shoes, deck shoes, casual shoes, dressy shoes and a back up pair of simply comfortable shoes. Will I need to pack one entirely separate suitcase for my shoes??

Formal wear. Scary thought. I have a closet full of options. My dilemma is that I am not entirely sure  how they will fit. I have given up Zumba and taken up eating this past month. Not a winning combination when you have size 6 clothes and a size 8 (and growing??) body.

Deck wear. Yikes! I don't have 'pretty' hanging-around-the-ship kinds of clothes. I am going to have to seriously peruse what I do own and try to spice up my existing wardrobe with a few pairs of dressy capri pants and accessories. I think that will work.

Okay. Worrying about what I am going to pack does not constitute excitement. But booking a pedicure, getting my hair cut and colored and a little primping is a step in the right direction (I'm working on that).

I seriously need to sit down and visit with my travel companion. She has perfected the art of being excited right from the onset of our plans. I need a small dose of her pixie dust sprinkled my way so that I can stop worrying and start anticipating.

One month from tomorrow, I will be leaving on a jet plane. I will be sailing on a ship the following day. We will be whale watching, hiking, taking a bus to our waterjet-powered catamaran and rafting silently down a river throughout some of our excursions. Then taking a scenic train ride to our final destination. And then one final flight (with a layover and opportunity to meet up with one more friend on our way home) to wind up the adventure.

This holiday will be amazing. I am headed on a grand adventure ... and I have a most excellent friend to accompany me each and every step of the way.

I'm not feeling so empty any more. I'm ready to amp up my excitement levels and start getting ready for my Biggest Adventure So Far.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

All Caught Up

I have now been home from Mom's for two weeks.

The first night I got home, I caught up on laundry, paperwork, mail, banking, emails and unpacking.

Since that time, I have been working feverishly to get caught up on everything else ...

All of the missed episodes of the programs I watch. Twenty five hours worth of television backlog. I don't know if it is a blessing or a curse, but thanks to the Internet I can go back and watch these shows. It's a tough job, but I finally did it.

That task done, I moved onto the next. Three crossword puzzles that had piled up from our free Sunday weekly paper. I simply cannot throw these puzzles away until I have given them my 'all'. It is a sickness. But last night? I stayed up to 11:30 to complete that chore. Only to be rewarded by today's Sunday paper and crossword. I am pleased to announce that I completed this week's puzzle before supper! My work there is done.

Then ... there was the book I started reading and the movie I started watching when I was at Mom's. I left the DVD player and the book out in plain sight. Yet another 'job' on my list. Last night, I finally finished watching the movie. This morning, I finally finished reading the book. Check! Check! Two more items crossed off my to-do list.

Two magazines found their way into our mailbox. Magazines which I have a half hearted interest in. Free magazines. But I could not ignore them. They were placed on the kitchen table, under the three crossword puzzles that I just had to work on. This afternoon, I diligently leafed through both magazines and ripped out two pages which I may refer back to some day. Those magazines are now filed away and out of sight.

This afternoon, I sat down to write my mom her weekly letter (a half day ahead of schedule ... I usually do this Monday mornings). I have somehow managed to turn that weekly letter into a biweekly letter. Not sure how that happened, but it did.

By the time I sat down with my family for our Sunday Supper, I was completely and totally relaxed. Finally, finally ... after two weeks ... I feel 'caught up'.

Catching up on my leisure activities was energy and time consuming. I finally feel at one with my world ... now that I am caught up on all that 'relaxes' me.

Who else but me, could turn leisure into work??

Saturday, April 16, 2011

You Never Know ...

As I was driving to my dentist appointment this morning, I had 'nothing' little thoughts going through my head ...

My Dentist and I go back a lot of years. He walked me through the stages and phases of crowning my molars.

Dentists had been advising me to get crowns for as long as I had dental insurance, but it wasn't until my teeth started breaking down on me (fillings were falling out and pieces of my molars were breaking off at an alarmingly frequent basis) in my 40's and I was new in my daycare career (without dental insurance), that I finally realized that if I didn't repair my teeth in a more permanent fashion, my nightmares of spitting out all of my teeth would eventually come true.

I found myself in the good hands of My Dentist at that pivotal point in my life. I asked his advice and he suggested that we start working on one quarter of my mouth per year. He chose the plan of action and I just showed up for my appointments.

When it came time to bill me, I found that my bill was far less than originally anticipated. He took my financial situation and lack of insurance into account and made this dental work financially feasible. I thought he was nice before ... but this extra bonus was above and beyond what I could have ever hoped for.

Over the course of the following years, we finally completed our mission. All four corners of my mouth are crowned and I am not dreaming about losing all of my teeth any more. Now, at my annual checkups, whenever the dental assistant asks me if I have any problems or concerns at the onset of my appointment, I smile and say "No ... not a thing, now that I have my crowns!"

Last year at the end of my appointment, I remember making a point to tell My Dentist how elated I was to be able to say that I have absolutely no problems with my teeth - thanks to him fixing me up all of those years ago.

This morning, I was thinking of other things en route to my appointment.

It was some time after my crowning experiences, that I needed a Notary Public to sign a form so I could get a passport. I thought after all of the time My Dentist spent working with me, that he may feel like he knew me well enough to sign this document. Afterwards, I felt badly because I remembered that he had made my dental work financially feasible due to my circumstances and here I was getting a passport.

In reality, I was getting a passport only because I had a credit which would expire with an airline and if some last minute holiday opportunity arose I would need a passport. I never did go on a holiday and my passport has sat idle for the (almost) four years that I have had it.

I will soon be utilizing that passport for the very first time, as I embark on my Alaskan Cruise. I had often heard My Dentist talk about the various holiday destinations that he had recently been on. So I was thinking that (even though he most likely had no memory of ever signing my passport documents) he may appreciate hearing of my holiday plans.

Yes, I had a small sense of happiness as I drove off to my appointment this morning. Then when the dental hygienist told me the name of the dentist that would be helping me today (not My Dentist), I thought ... "they usually ask me when I book my appointment if I mind seeing a different dentist". Then she quickly followed up that statement with "You probably don't know ... but Your Dentist passed away last fall".

He was overseas on a holiday, when he suffered a massive heart attack. He was 53 years old, he has two children, his wife was with him when it happened. He had no history of heart problems. This was completely unexpected and devastating to all that knew him.

We talked at length about My Dentist after that. When I was quiet with my thoughts afterwards, I couldn't help but be happy that I took that extra moment to let him know how much I appreciated what he had done for me and my teeth the last time I had an appointment. He was 'just' doing his job, but I will be on the receiving end of his skill and dentistry magic for the better part of my life (he did forewarn me that crowns do have a life expectancy of about 15 years).

My Dentist will live on in many ways - least of all in the work that he did for his patients. He was just doing a job. And I have been grateful for my good, solid teeth for many years.

The little things we do for people live on forever. The little things we say to people live on as long as they remember.

It takes but a moment to offer the best we have to give of ourselves. To our family, our friends and neighbors, the clerk in the store, our customers, our co-workers ... and our dentist.

I'll never regret taking that extra moment to say 'thanks'. I'll be very sad when the day comes that someone has to repair one of those crowns.

My teeth are something I appreciated before today. They are something that I will appreciate long after today. The story that goes with my 'good teeth' is worth remembering.

Friday, April 15, 2011

34 Days ...

It is snowing and feels like -7 degrees outside this morning. Doesn't that just make you wish you were planning to go on an Alaskan Cruise in just over a month??

I am thrilled with the idea of my upcoming holiday. It is a holiday that will not be defined by good weather and sunny skies. It is a holiday that will revolve around friends. I find that when I'm in the company of friends, I bask in the glow of friendship and the outside temperature is irrelevant.

I checked the Weather Network and found that the temperature in Anchorage this morning is a balmy 1 degree (with little to no wind). By the time we arrive in Anchorage, the sun will be rising around 4:40 a.m. and setting around 11:15 p.m. 

The days will be 18 1/2 hours long (compared to only about 16 1/4 hours long, here at home). Multiply that extra 2.25 hours of daylight by the duration of our holiday (10 days) ... and we come up with a bonus 22.5 hours. We 'gain' (almost) an extra day!!

In the spirit of making the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime holiday, I'm sure that we'll make good use of that extra day's worth of sunshine.

Even though it looks and feels like winter here this morning, I'm already basking in the glow of upcoming Northern Adventure.

Thirty four days from today ... sunny skies or not ... I'm going North!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just a Regular Day

Today ... is simply a regularly scheduled day-in-our-lives.

My Youngest is off to school. Just a regular, ordinary day ... without the added pressure of rehearsing and performing in a play.

He tried out for this play a few months ago and he won the part of Prince Charming. He has had a severe case of nerves, felt very unsettled about performing in front of an audience and was fearful that he would 'freeze'. For the better part of the past two months, our chat-before-bedtime has consisted in talking about this play.

Yesterday, was the day. There was a morning and afternoon performance. Unfortunately, I went to the morning showing (along with the Pre-school, Kindergarten, Grade One and Two classes). I'm looking forward to seeing this again on DVD, because the young audience made it very hard to hear (especially near the end).

It was one of those proud-to-be-a-Mom moments. I'm glad I was there. Not only for the performance ... but for the two months that preceded it. My Youngest took part in life ... he did something he was afraid to do. And he succeeded!

My Second Son is back to work today. It looks as if it will be a busy summer for him.

He has kept his spirits up, by keeping busy. He has taken on an active part of running this household. He stepped up to the plate in my absence, did what needed to be done around the house and yard, worked on some projects on his farm and last night I came home from a day-at-the-shop to find our supper menu completely taken care of.

It has been rather wonderful to have this 'partnership' around home lately. This is something new and foreign to me. A partnership works both ways ... so now that he is getting busy with work, I will have to pull my weight. I'm ready.

Yes, I knew My Second Son was happy and content this morning when I heard us having a conversation first thing this morning. My 'Don't-Talk-to-Me-in-the-Morning' Son ... was an active conversationalist today. I smiled, as I quietly realized what was happening.

My Oldest is just over two weeks away from moving into his Stepping Stone Dream Home. It isn't the house of his dreams ... but it is a house that has the appearance of being built just for him. It looks like the perfect fit for him right now.

I'm so pleased to see him taking a step towards his future. Being happy within the four walls that define 'home' is something that I want for all of my children. When I  hear the way he talks of the house that he is living in right now, I don't hear 'home'. He has a roof to shelter him from the elements. But it is not a home.

I well remember the contentment that I felt when I moved into my first home. I was giddy with joy. The elation remained, far after the smell of newness wore off. My heart was happy and I can remember stating to the world "I love my walls". I was safe, protected, happy and content. This is what I want for my children. I feel that My Oldest is taking a giant step towards that 'place'.

And Me? I am off to another day-at-the-shop. Work is good. I'm finding that I am far more productive when I must step out of my home and there is a definite boundary between work and the rest of my life.

I am being rewarded with more responsibilities (today, I'm taking on yet another new task). I am finding ways to put in my hours and feel productive. I feel that there is respect growing between my bosses and me.

It is still tough when I get a call from My Youngest telling me that he wants to hang out with friends after school ... and there isn't a parent around. So what did I do? I was grateful that he called, he asked and he told me the truth. That has to be rewarded with a 'Yes'. But I had to do my Motherly Diligence and tell him that he is ultimately responsible. Group mentality can be breeding grounds for bad decisions. I told him if someone in the group was doing something that he knew was wrong, to walk away and come home. It was hard to say 'Yes' ... but it would have been wrong to say 'No'.

Welcome to my world. A world where everyone is doing their thing ... living their lives ... and finding comfort in the confines of these four walls, when we come together at the end of the day (or week).

No dramas or worries today. It's just a regularly scheduled day. And that is good.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It Is Far Better to Give

For the first four and a half decades of my life, I was on the receiving end of life.

I accepted the hand that I was dealt and I played the best 'game' I knew how.

I fell into my life. I propelled myself forward, by keeping in a state of perpetual motion. I reacted to whatever life threw at me.

In my 27th year, I started to become more proactive. I packed up my young family and built a new life. I had never acted more brave. It was a beginning.

Yet ... when someone asked me how I thought that I would ever meet 'someone' again, life began to repeat itself when my answer to that was to say, "He will just show up on my doorstep and say 'Honey, I'm home!' "

It amazes and astounds me to say that the next relationship in my life basically happened just the way I envisioned it. Once again, I put myself back in a reactive role.

I waited for him to make all of the moves. That was who I was. I waited for the phone to ring (which may be sweet at first, but not so much 16 years later). I allowed myself to be placed 'last in the priority of claims' in his life. I devalued myself by putting myself in that position.

It was after that last and final break up, that I began to 'give'.

I picked up the phone and called people. I took on life. I issued invitations. I offered suggestions. I made new friends. I reached out ... and gave of myself.

I have often jokingly said that I was allergic to dialing the phone. Picking up the phone and calling someone is still hard for me to do. But with practise, I have been overcoming this 'allergy'.

Yesterday, I had an epiphany. It was small. But it was big.

I was the one who picked up the phone at Mom's house and accepted the 'date which we were given' for an upcoming appointment for Mom. When I was on the receiving end ... I accepted which I was given, without question or hesitation.

Yesterday, I picked up the phone and called that very same office. I was not reacting to their call. I was initiating the call. I felt more empowered. I didn't demand anything. I simply asked about the possibilities. If I hadn't called, we would have never known that there was a cancellation and Mom could fast track her way to that appointment (at absolutely no inconvenience to anyone).

I wondered why I didn't ask to be put on a 'cancellation list' when I answered their call and quickly accepted the date that they gave us. The answer came to me - it was because I was on the receiving end.

When you sit back and let life happen to you, you are not as effective as you are when you go out and meet it half way.

"It is far better to give than receive"

This applies not only to gifts ... but to life. Give of yourself and miracles happen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It Doesn't Hurt to Ask

I have found myself going out on a limb and simply asking for things that (once upon a time) I only dared to hope for.

How many times have I actively asked for what I want and hope for? I'm not talking about the 'big stuff' ... I'm talking about little things.

Things like asking to see I if I could book a bonus dance lesson. Impromptu get-togethers with friends that start with asking about the possibility of making it work. Things like wishing that we could fast track the waiting time for an appointment or test.

There are some big wishes that I have also fulfilled.

I asked about the possibilities when I chose parenthood over career. I asked for the impossible when I made an application for home repairs to a government program that was assisting low income earners. I asked for my job ... I asked questions that led to furthering my education. I stated my dream aloud when I said that I would love to attend a dance competition and doors were opened. I wished for a friend to join me on an Alaskan Cruise. And the list goes on ...

There have been so many doors that have opened for me ... simply because I asked.

My most recent miracles have occurred because I picked up the phone, dialed it and stated my most heartfelt desire aloud to someone who had the ability to help me. I asked if there was any possibility ... and we have have miraculously been granted three separate wishes.

Yesterday morning, I awoke in a state of helplessness. I felt that I was powerless. Circumstances were slipping out of our control and I didn't know what to do.

My instinct was to pick up the phone and call someone who could lead me down the right path. I just about allowed myself to be talked out of it, but I thought "What do I have to lose? I will ask and see what happens."

A small miracle happened. We are still powerless over the results of this 'miracle' ... but we are months ahead of where we would have been, had we simply accepted our fate and waited.

It never hurts to ask. Sometimes the answer is "No ... not yet." But there are times when the answer is, "Yes! We just had a cancellation ..."

Dad's life was saved too late. He stopped breathing. Help was on its way ... but it was too late.

Mom's life is precious and viable. We are working hard to preserve her health. One little miracle after another is helping us make that come true. Doors are opening and we are walking through them with her.

It's almost as if my quiet plea to my dad is coming true. I do not feel alone, as we walk through the unknown. I feel a gentle hand on my shoulder and a whisper in my ear that is telling me, "Just ask ..."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shades of Gray

I know and appreciate the fact that life is not full of black and white answers. I live, breathe and accept that this is reality. Life is not simple.

I'm grateful for gray in almost all instances. There are two sides to every story. Each person has their own set of truths that justifies what they think. Right or wrong? Sometimes the answer is a compromise.

Then there is the matter of health. When I was young, I thought that you lived or died. If you lived, you got better. Then Dad had a near fatal heart attack ... and I learned that there exists a state of life where you breathe ... but you don't live. My world of black and white ceased to exist.

I thought I fully understood this concept.

When it comes to parents, is one always a naive, hopeful, little child? I am starting to think so. But life is teaching me about the color gray again.

Gray is better than black. Where there is gray ... there is hope and encouragement. I would simply enjoy finding a lighter shade of gray.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yesterday ... I Cleaned the Oven

.... and I may never cook again (I had no idea that it would ever come that clean).

This, is the reason I gave up cleaning - it is such a futile effort sometimes. But it does feel good to tackle the unthinkable now and again.

Who knows what today will bring?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Weekend ... at Home

I cannot say that I have been overworked lately. Out of the past 4 weeks, I have worked two. But out of the past 5 weekends, I have been home ... one day.

I am a home body. I love being home, coming home, knowing that everything I need and want in my life is within my home. Our home exudes a sense of calmness and 'happy'. It is my most favorite-place-to-be, in the world.

I have so many things that I want to do with these two days off. I have a list of housekeeping items. I'd love to have the opportunity to meet up with friends for lunch ... or tea ... or simply a visit. I'd love to curl up with a book or finish watching the movie that I started watching while I was at Mom's.

I want to savor the sensation of being home this weekend. I want to envelope myself in my family and friends and make the most of these two days. Two days off ... after working a five day week.

Ahhh ... this is the life!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Life Without Music ...

I have grown accustomed to having music playing in the background of my days.

I listen to music when I work, I have my favorite-songs-of-the-moment playing in the car, Zumba, dancing and all forms of exercise are associated with a musical back drop.

The past month has been quiet. While I was at Mom's, I was around people 24/7. When I came home, I had a lot to pack into those days so that I'd be ready to turn around and go back to Mom's five days later. Back at Mom's, my days were once again filled with people, conversation and an otherwise quiet background.

On the drive home from Mom's, My Oldest turned on the radio for the last leg of our trip. The music was back. Ever so quietly ... the music was starting to return to my life.

Back at work, I turn on the radio the moment I start the day. I now work in the shop, so singing and dancing is not allowed. I suppose that I could try, but since the acoustics from my upstairs 'attic' workspace reverberate to the shop below, I know that my bosses would know that I was dancing or practicing Zumba if suddenly there was a methodical moving of my feet on their ceiling. And singing? Let's just say that if I want to continue to believe that I have a 'voice', that it is best to keep my singing confined to the privacy of my car and home.

I found the name of my newest favorite song and downloaded it (plus a few more) a few nights ago. I came home from work yesterday with a light heart ... knowing that my dance lesson was only a few hours away. And I turned up the music. Loud.

I moved and grooved. I sang and danced. I felt the rhythm of the music in my soul and I was revived. 

I went to my dance lesson with a bounce in my step and a light heart. And I danced. The men to women ratio was 1:1 last night. So I got to dance all night. I partnered up with a new dancer and I appreciated his sense of humor as much as the music.

I not only danced ... I laughed.

Does life get any better than this? The music is back. The laughter was never far away. It is good to be back.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What We Can Control

I have often read that the only thing we can truly control is how we react to our circumstances.

I have had a myriad of life experience tossed my way this past month. And how did I react to it? Not well, by my standards.

I have been emotional. I have been angry. I have made mountains out of mole hills. I have retreated back to my 12-year-old-self. I have been overwhelmed. I have felt insecure. I allowed myself to dwell on the past.

I've been worried about Mom. I  have had challenges at work. I have taken the (second last) course required to get my Group Fitness certification. I must complete one, final challenge to get this certification. My financial situation is not healthy. I have tested the waters and met a new friend of the male variety ... and in doing so, I have been looking back instead of forward.

At the end of the first week of this past month, this is what I wrote:

"I am quite positive that each and every element of what I have found to be a challenge this week, will propel me into making decisions that are going to change the situation. This happens each and every time I feel this way. Life hits a crescendo ... and it forces me to make a positive change. I always look back at 'weeks like these' and I am grateful. Without them, I would remain stuck in situations that are not for the better good."

I had no idea what lied in store when I wrote that. After that first week, I started working on how I was reacting to my circumstances.

I was able to be there for Mom. Two weeks out of four ... I was there. I was powerless in so many ways, but I tried my best. Each member of my family has different strengths. Between the four of us, we are a team to be reckoned with. I'm glad that I was given an opportunity to 'do what I do best'.

I have come to accept my new work arrangement. As I drive home after a 'day at the shop', I must admit that it is very liberating to leave my work at work. When I get home, the rest of the day is mine. There has been a small amount of respect growing between my employer and me the past few weeks (and since I've only worked two weeks out of four, I must admit that I'm grateful that my employer allowed me the time off that I required). Things are headed in a positive direction.

I haven't even had time to stop and think since I completed my last 'Group Fitness' class. I must now choreograph and lead a one hour exercise class (which will I will be marked on). Am I overwhelmed and out of my element? Yes!! Will I give up now? No. I may put it off until I write a book and go to Alaska. But I will be back!

My finances? A small bit frightening, as small appliances are breaking down at every turn. My Second Son noticed that our material possessions seem to be crumbling before our very eyes and was afraid to tell me of that-which-broke while I was away. But it is stuff. Replacing/fixing anything that money can buy is small potatoes. We have the good fortune to be healthy. Our body parts are in good running order. If the only problems that we have, are ones that money can fix ... we are blessed.

Meeting a man? Interesting experience. What have I learned to help me move forward? Not to compromise who I am and what I hope for in life. I would rather be alone, than to be part of a relationship and be lonely. I have learned that I'm not frightened to test the waters. I have also learned that I will not sacrifice myself for the sake of another. And I want someone who is equally determined to continue to be the person that they are.

And what is the most vital quality I'm looking for in a relationship? Humor. I want to laugh at life together. As my family rallied together and faced the unknown together this past month, I hear laughter. I remember a time when my sisters came to my rescue when I was dealing with the tragedy-of-the-decade. And we laughed. We couldn't believe that we were laughing. We laughed instead of cried. I believe that it is the same emotional release - laughter verses tears. We chose to laugh.

There is truly little that we do have control over in life. This past month, I have quite possibly cried more than I have in the past few decades combined. I also laughed. I choose laughter. But I am a grateful for a life worthy of tears.

I feel like somewhat of a super hero when I say, "I can laugh in the face of danger ... face my fears ... do my best ... and carry on".

And so I will. Carry on. With a smile in my heart, for all that I am grateful for.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Finding Normal ... Again

In our quest to help Mom find answers to the symptoms that she has been living with lately, we noticed that whenever the doctors would ask her how she was feeling, she'd cheerfully say, "Good!" or "Fine!". She would dress up, put on make up and look like a spritely senior who was just dropping by for a visit. She asked us what we would prefer, as she slumped over, scowled and pretended to act sick.

Mom seems to be resigned to the fact that the doctors don't have answers. They ruled out 'the big stuff' and she learned to live with her 'new normal'. Mom really doesn't enjoy dwelling on health issues, so she has rebuffed many of our concerns over the course of the past 10+ months. "Who wants to hear about that?" is her answer at times. "I'm fine" is her answer at other times. We have learned to quieten our concerns and respect her wishes.

As her health became an issue once again, we have been trying to be more assertive and hoping that one doctor would look at Mom in her entirety and help us put the pieces of the puzzle together. When you go to the ER, they treat the one symptom and send you on your way. When you go to the medicentre, the doctors are overwhelmed with all of their obligations and they don't appear to have the time to know their patients. When you go to the specialist, they look at what they specialize in. Where was the doctor who would take the time to sit down with us? We needed someone who explained as well as listened. We needed to find someone who cared!

Yesterday ... we found that person. A doctor took the time. He looked at Mom's file in its entirety. He explained the possibilities of why Mom is feeling the way she does. He examined the preliminary findings which were in Mom's file - an ECG from her first visit to the ER on May 31st of last year. An irregular heartbeat was noted in Mom's file over 10 months ago. And she was never told of this. We are well on a path to further investigate her heart, because that appears to be the underlying cause of her symptoms. Symptoms which started over 10 months ago. Symptoms which have been swept under the carpet as Mom quietly redefined 'normal' and learned to live with it.

"Why are we relieved that it is her heart?" my sister asked. I believe that we are relieved because we finally feel that we are the right path. Heart disease is frightening, but we have personally witnessed success stories once the problem was diagnosed. Issues which could have been life threatening had they not been detected.

Finding the root of the problem - the reason behind this symptom is like a ray of light to us. Once you know the problem, you can work on solutions. Treating (or not) a symptom was not the answer we were looking for. Accepting that there were no answers was not acceptable any more.

The doctor that finally took the time to talk and listen to Mom did very little other than assure us that we were already doing exactly what we needed to do. The appropriate tests have been done or have been ordered. The medication Mom is on is exactly what he would have recommended.

We were already on the right path. We just didn't know it. And now we have the assurance from a trusted professional that we are well on our way to finding solutions.

Hopefully a firm diagnosis will redefine 'normal' for Mom. A state of living which allows for the quality of life that she has been fighting for all along.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What I Missed

I have been back home for 38 hours now and I'm still wandering around, savoring that which I missed while I was away.

While I was at Mom's, I talked with My Youngest regularly on the phone. I didn't have a worry in the world, as his Older Brother watched over him and life went on seamlessly (perhaps even better?!) without me. I called each evening to say goodnight to My Youngest and we enjoyed our end-of-the-day conversation just as we do when I'm at home. I talked to my Second Son at length, many times. I was without worry and without guilt. They were content and happy. So I do find it odd to say that I didn't miss my children.

The first time I ran off to Edmonton (three weeks ago), I was running away from my job. I was so frustrated and angry at the situation at work, that I was grateful to leave. The problem was ... that nothing changed while I was away. I had to face up to my reality eventually and it wasn't an enjoyable way to reenter my world. Over the course of that week at home, I found acceptance in my job. I worked at a meaningful task and succeeded. I left work on a high note. It was a good way to leave. Because yesterday, 'reentry' to my work-world was as natural and easy as breathing. Did I miss work? No way. But it was easy to step back into it, because I hadn't run off and abandoned a lot of unresolved issues.

Cooking. I was responsible for keeping my mom and I fed while I was away. I had a lot of assistance. Between pulling out frozen entrees that my Oldest Sister had prepared; M & M Meats easy-to-prepare-meals; the deli department and the frozen food aisle ... my mom and I survived a week of my cooking. Back home, my Second Son adopted the stay-at-home-dad role. And he liked it!! He cooked, he cleaned, he helped My Youngest with that-which-he-needed-for-school ... he became a Mama-Son while I was away and he appeared to be basking in the glow of this new role. I came home at supper time Sunday night, fully prepared to run out and buy burgers and fries to alleviate any hunger pangs. But no. My Older Son wasn't hungry ... and My Youngest was craving Kraft Dinner. Did I miss cooking? Not a bit.

The computer. One would think, with the massive amount of time that I spend on this modern-day-time-waster ... that I would miss it immensely. One would be wrong. While I was at Mom's, I was around people 24/7, so words didn't have a chance to amass in my head. I thought. I spoke. No need to write, because I was purging my thoughts on a regular basis. In fact, Mom and I ran out of things to talk about from time to time. I utilized Mom's encyclopedias and dictionary in lieu of 'googling' something. Funny thing ... it worked. I found myself almost resenting the backlog of things-that-I-check on the computer upon my arrival back home. Did I miss my Internet connection? Amazingly ... no.

A dance event. Our studio put on a weekend of coaching, group classes and an afternoon of student routines while I was gone. I would have definitely joined the fun, had I been at home. But I wasn't. As it turned out, my niece had a dance competition last weekend. After many years of wishing that I could watch her perform, I was finally able to fulfill that dream. As the adjudicator talked to the group that competed and shared his expertise and coached all of them in ways to improve, my interest was captivated. He was telling these girls much the same thing that I would  have heard, had I been at home and participating in my own dance-weekend. I found myself in the audience instead of the stage. And I enjoyed it. I savored the view, appreciated the talent, felt my heart race with pride and excitement as I watched my niece perform. But I had no desire to be anywhere other than where I was. I can't wait for my next dance lesson and to find myself back in the studio. But I didn't miss it while I was away. I was where I wanted to be.

What did I miss, if I didn't miss everything that my life revolves around??

I missed the convenience of having my clothes in drawers. I missed the ease of getting ready in the morning, with all of my essential items in their allotted spots. I missed easy access to my toothbrush. I missed having a clothes hamper. But most of all ... I missed my pillow! I practically took a nose dive into my much savored prized possession (my feather pillow) at the end of each day since my return. I nestled my head into its spot, fluffed and contoured the pillow into the crevice of my neck ... and I have slept through the night. Two nights in a row. I missed ... sleep.

Now that I am home, I am missing being at Mom's. I quite literally thought of Mom and My Sister all day yesterday. What would they be doing now? Did they turn their errand at the mall into an adventure? Were they laughing and enjoying each other's company? Were they watching 'The Bold and the Beautiful'? Was Mom getting a lot of phone calls on her birthday? I miss being at Mom's. I miss being enveloped in my own immediate family. All of my recent thoughts and memories revolve around my brother, my sisters and my mom. I have savored these past weeks.

I was transported to a different time and place, so that I could be with my family as we rallied together. I have memories that I never would have had, otherwise. A very wise friend of mine wrote: "Sometimes, I don’t think it is even about finding solutions which is the real benefit, it is about giving that precious time in whatever ways we can."

Time. It is a gift. These past weeks, I have been exactly where I needed to be. Nestled in the comfort in my family, with the knowledge that my children were safe, happy and content at home without me. No matter where I was, I wasn't missing my family. I am blessed.

Monday, April 4, 2011

She's No Ordinary Mother ...

My mom. It is interesting to hear the adjectives that people use to describe her. Feisty, spunky and most recently "a real sweetheart". She's no wall flower. People remember her.

She's 4'10" in stature but she's a force to be reckoned with. Threaten a loved one and you'd swear she was 6 feet tall. She's one protective Mother Bear.

She's strong and mighty. There is little that she has been afraid to tackle in her life - whether it is a daunting job or facing up to a life that she didn't expect. She is fearless and forges on, through thick and thin.

"Strong as steel, her faith and pride; She's an everlasting shoulder; She's the leaning post of life." ('An Eagle When She Flies ~ Dolly Parton).

Today is Mom's birthday. A day just like any other ... but special because we are fortunate to celebrate it with her. She is a gift. She makes the world a little brighter because she's in it. She's not your ordinary mother, grandmother or great grandmother. She's unique and special. Just the way we like her.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

"But she's an eagle when she flies ..." ~ Dolly Parton

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Home Again

I am settling back into the wonderful world of my reality back at home.

I have rewound and re looked at the events of the past four weeks and I'm somewhat astounded. It has been a whirlwind month.

I have been completely immersed in life at Mom's. There is a huge part of me that stayed behind ... but the physical me must return to my life as I know it and roll with the punches here at home.

I walked back into my world and all was as I hoped and expected it to be. My family can survive very well in my absence, but it is also a good feeling to know that they appreciate my return.

Mom is in good hands, as my Second Sister has returned to escort her through the various commitments of the upcoming week. At the week's end, my Oldest Sister will arrive and take over from there.

Where do we go from here? Time and Mom will tell. Unfortunately we still have more questions than answers. Fortunately, Mom seems to be doing much better than she was three weeks ago.

I want to be at Mom's. I need to be at home.

It is unclear what lies ahead. We must trust that we are on the right path. We just don't know where it will lead.