Monday, October 31, 2011

New Week ... New Hope

The week is starting out right. I just got called in to work a full shift at an elementary school today.

Though working at a different school every time that I get called in creates its own set of stresses, I know that this is part of the learning curve. I am learning so much more than just 'the job'.

I have the opportunity to work in many different scenarios, with different staff and different dynamics at play. I choose to see this as 'shopping' for the (eventual) full-time position of my choosing.

I am taking tentative steps towards my future. A destination that I was convinced was 'the one' a few short weeks ago. One idle week at home (waiting for the phone to ring), placed all sorts of doubt in my mind.

I was 'tested' many, many times throughout my daycare career. Families would come and go. I would look ahead and question my ability to pay the bills. I had choices. I always chose to forge ahead with my decision to work from home. Each and every time that I firmly decided within myself to persevere, I was rewarded. Opportunities arose that allowed me to not only keep doing what I chose to do ... but allowed me the luxury of paying the bills.

Yesterday, I made the firm decision within myself to keep going in the direction that I knew was what I believed to be in my best interests. Now and in the future.

I shook off the pressure of deciding an alternate route. I don't have the energy, stamina nor self-esteem to choose an alternate direction right now. Especially because I already thought I was on the right path.

I still believe that I am on the correct highway. I have the opportunity to check out the side roads before I commit to following them to the end.

I am going to enjoy and make the most of this journey.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Honestly Now ...

Well? Life isn't always a bed of roses. Even when I do my best to consciously act, speak and think positively ... sometimes it just isn't enough.

I've been glossing over a lot of the drama in my life the past few months. When I started this blog, it was my intent to focus on the positive. I have done my best to place my energy writing about the positive, in a negative situation lately.

Thus ... to anyone who knows what is going on in my life, it has been hard to crack the code of all that has been written in between the lines recently. I received an email from My Sister yesterday.

Subject: How are you??????
"I have been reading your blog and can't tell how you are?????"

I decided to cut out the fluff and just be honest with her. This (in part) was my reply:

"I'm a little bit crappy ... but mostly okay! Honestly.

I'm in a holding pattern right now and unsure what direction to take. But I hate to walk away from what I feel could be the perfect job for me at the school. I just haven't convinced them of that yet. And I don't know how much more energy they can zap from me before I call it quits.

Do I wake up every morning and hope that they don't call me in to work? You bet. Does this pay the bills? Not so much. Due to the change of my employment status from 'full time' to 'substitute', my pay date has been changed. So ... not only do I have to contend with 3/4 of a month's wages in October ... but the fact that it has to cover 2 months of bills. And the fact that I have no idea if I will be working more than a day or two per week as time goes on. And the funny part? That is the least of my worries!!

So ya. Kinda a lot of crap going on. I really want to jump into a cave and hibernate until spring. Thankfully (I guess) ... I can't. Honestly ... I know (in the end) that it is all going to work out for the best. People are exhausting me right now ... but (I suppose) I need them, to keep from withdrawing from the world.

I haven't cornered the market on work-dramas. The unfortunate part? I am hearing (far too often) "Welcome to my world" or "That is just the way it is these days" or "Get used to it".

I don't want to get used to it. The more I stick my neck out into this brave, new world ... the less I want to go out.

I'm just venting. I'm sure that I will look back at these words (perhaps, not for a very long time though!) and laugh. In fact, I'm almost laughing right now. How much worse can it get?? Please don't answer that.

But really!! I am okay! I know this will pass. I just don't feel like faking it right now. So these words might not be fluffy and full of hope and dreams ... they are just honest. And honestly. I am fine.

The fact of the matter is that no one can 'save me'. I have to do this on my own. And I'm okay with that. Really. And do you know why? Because I know that I am not alone. I know that I have enough caring and supportive people around me to help me pick myself up when I am down and that will carry me through.

I'll get through this. A day at a time. "

And I will.

Now ... back to my regularly scheduled agenda of Focusing on the Positive in Life!

Smile! It's Saturday!!

I woke up to this email this morning. It made me laugh. I haven't started my day with a laugh in a very long time. So ... I have copied it in full and full credit goes to

Have a Happy Saturday (and if it happens to be your birthday today, add an extra dose of cheer to your day)!!

The Cat

Dwight Nelson recently told a true story about the pastor of his church.

He had a kitten that climbed up a tree in his backyard and then was afraid to come down. The pastor coaxed, offered warm milk, etc. The kitty would not come down.

The tree was not sturdy enough to climb, so the pastor decided that if he tied a rope to his car and drove away so that the tree bent down, he could then reach up and get the kitten.

He did all this, checking his progress in the car frequently, then figured if he went just a little bit further, the tree would be bent sufficiently for him to reach the kitten.

But as he moved a little further forward, the rope broke.

The tree went "boing!" and the kitten instantly sailed through the air - out of sight.

The pastor felt terrible.

He walked all over the neighborhood asking people if they'd seen a little kitten. No. Nobody had seen a stray kitten. So he prayed, "Lord, I just commit this kitten to your keeping," and went on about his business.

A few days later he was at the grocery store and met one of his church members. He happened to look into her shopping cart and was amazed to see cat food. Now this woman was a cat hater and everyone knew it, so he asked her, "Why are you buying cat food when you hate cats so much?"

She replied, "You won't believe this," and told him how her little girl had been begging her for a cat, but she kept refusing. Then a few days before, the child had begged again, so the Mom finally told her little girl, "Well if God gives you a cat, I'll let you keep it?"

(Can you see where this is heading?)

She told the pastor, "I watched my child go out in the yard, get on her knees, and ask God for a cat. And really, Pastor, you won't believe this, but I saw it with my own eyes.

A kitten suddenly came flying out of the blue sky, with its paws outspread, and landed right in front of her."

Never underestimate the Power of God and what may appear to be breaking on one end, is answering prayer on another.

Thank you for inviting MountainWings in your mailbox.
See you tomorrow.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

When the Going Gets Tough ... The Tough Go Dancing!

Everything I watch, see, hear or read lately seems to be a pumped up, amplified version of what I have going on in my life and inside of my head.

I see bits and pieces of myself in all the wacky situations and characters portrayed on TV. I feel like a patchwork quilt of emotions. My life feels like it is in a state of flux that has spiralled out of my control.

I look back at who I used to be and wonder if I was daft. I used to think that if I was positive and optimistic about life ... I would draw positive people and life experiences into my world. That theory has been blown out of the water lately.

I could quite honestly bury myself under that patchwork quilt (see above) and eat cookies all day.

I was snuggled up under a cozy blanket last night, reading a book, with Our Cat snuggled up beside me and My Youngest busy at the computer three steps away. Everything I could ever want and need was within reach.

I wrestled with the idea of going to a group dance class. I have not been getting a great deal of enjoyment out of many things lately. This was only one of many things that I could easily cross off of my to-do list.

It would have been sooooo easy to just stay where I was. It is where I wanted to be. But I knew that I needed to push myself out of what is easy and just go.

It was easier than I thought it would be, to propel myself out the door.

I just about changed my mind at the end of the driveway when my Middle Son came home with his work truck and it would  have been more convenient for him to park in the driveway behind the garage. But he squeezed into the extra parking spot on the side and waved me on to my lesson.

I left home with only moments to spare. Then I hit every red light along the way. I thought "if I'm late ... I just won't go". But I arrived in time.

The parking lot was full. I thought "if I can't find a space, I will be late ... and I will just go home". But I found a space and slid into the dance studio just under the wire.

The room was full. There was an almost perfect male to female ratio (our dance instructors filled in as required) and I actually got to dance with a male ... as a follower (trust me! I am in no position to 'lead' anyone, anywhere lately) ... all night. We had some beginners in the class so the instructor geared the class towards the beginners with added information and instruction for all other levels of dance.

It was relaxed. It was fun. The lesson was as easy or as hard as I needed it to be.
I needed to push myself out of the house last night. I needed to move. To be among people.

I am grateful that I had a safe place to go. The dance studio is my 'Cheers'. A place where (almost) everybody knows my name.

I took a risk and stepped out of my comfort zone last night. It was a good night. It was just what I needed (even though I didn't know it at the time).

The dance studio has long been my Happy Place. When 'life' starts following me into the studio and dragging me down, I usually walk away from dancing. Maybe this time ... that is not the answer.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

If You Have Never Failed ...

If You Have Never Failed ...

... you have never lived.

I Am Okay

I have everything I need. I may not have everything I want ... but that is okay.

The earth keeps turning, one day continues to turn into the next. Each day may bring its own set of surprises and challenges. But as long as I keep waking up in the the morning ... that is okay.

I'm on a different path than I expected to be. I am unsure of where I am going. But as long as I keep putting one tentative foot in front of the other ... I will be okay.

I truly want to cocoon myself into a quiet state of solitude until I figure out where I am at, where I am  headed and if that is truly where I want to go. Answers always come to me when my life becomes quiet.

I know that family and friends are within reach. I'm not reaching out ... because I am really okay.

The best things in my life have come to me because life did not go according to plan.

I am not enjoying this metamorphosis phase ... but really I am okay. Because I know without a doubt that I am exactly where I am meant to be.

I will be okay.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Here I Go Again

Day #1. Again.

So far, being on the substitute secretary list has not been too lucrative. It hasn't been stressful. But sitting at  home waiting for the phone to ring brings its own special kind of tension into the day.

Yesterday the phone rang. Twice.

First call? Can I work from 12:45 - 4:00 on Thursday? Three and a quarter hours. Yes, I can. But three hours? At least if it is stressful, the day will go quickly.

Second call? The automated phoning system called at 9:20 p.m. ... I will be working a full day today.

Two different schools. Two first days. Two opportunities.

Two chances to make a good first impression.

Here I go. Again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


There are always options available. One may not like their choices ... but there is always another way to go.
  • Quit or persevere?
  • Give up or remain hopeful?
  • Do the bare minimum or go above and beyond?
  • Become consumed with the negativity or look for the positive in a negative situation?
  • Let yourself become consumed with all that is beyond your control or do what you can with what you've got?
  • Start over from scratch or begin again from where you are?
I have been starting from scratch a little a lot lately. I'll take it one day at a time and work with what I have.

Be Careful What You Ask For

"This working for a living is getting tiresome!" ...

Look at the thoughts that I am putting out for the world to see, feel and hear. I'm tired of working ... and work is not working out. I am getting what I am asking for.

It is time to ask for something different.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Soundtrack of My Weekend

"Invincible" was the theme song of my recent road trip. I found the song playing on several channels as I headed West on my little retreat. The chorus spoke to me and I was soothed by the melody. The reason I took this last minute vacation was to 'detox' and 'destress' after the past few months. I needed to come back 'invincible' ...

I had the radio on during the entire drive. I switched channels incessantly. I needed fun, upbeat songs that made me want to dance. I steered away from the radio stations that played music from the past. I questioned why I didn't want to listen to the 'oldies' ... and as the miles went on, I had an epiphany. I am tired of looking back. Old songs carry memories and take me back to where I used to be. I don't want to go back. I am looking ahead. I thoroughly enjoyed the 'Top 20 Countdown' to songs that have no history for me. I had my eyes on the road and a sunny, bright future ahead.

I found it rather ironic that (since I switched channels when the music started taking me back in time) as I took a turn towards my first destination (to visit with a friend that I've known since Grade 6) an 'April Wine' song started to play. This friend and I lived and breathed 'April Wine' during our teen years. We have not seen a lot of each other in the recent past, so I just smiled as the theme band of our teens serenaded me as I drove into the city where she now resides.

I didn't spend much time driving once I arrived at my destination. I stayed at a hotel right next door to a restaurant and my friends came to me. The music stopped playing and the world was quiet. I savored the visits with my friends at a restaurant that is synonymous with 'happy times' for all of us.

My next destination was to meet My Brother for coffee. We had our coffee in a favorite coffee-spot and as I drove off after our visit, "U2" was playing on the radio. Not only my brother's favorite band ... but the song that he chose for his wedding dance. Once again, I marvelled at the mystical timing of the weekend's soundtrack.

Once I got to my mom's home, the music stopped. Words carried us through the day and evenings ahead. It was only when I jumped in the car to head back home, that the soundtrack continued.

I gassed up and turned the car eastward. I was headed  home. And what song should start to play on the radio? "I've Got a Feeling" - the 'theme song' from my Great Dance Adventure a few February's ago. A song that encapsulates 'happy thoughts' and savoring the moment. The theme song of 'everything good' in my world. The words "Tonight's gonna be a good night ..." sang to me, as I headed East and towards home.

I was a half hour away from home when "Tonight's gonna be a good night ..." emanated from my car's stereo speakers one more time. I was almost home ... and it was going to be a good night.

I am home. I have returned with a state of calmness within. I have no idea what is around the next corner ... but not knowing is easier than the state of 'knowing' lately.

Last night was a good night. I slept through the night. Soundly. I woke up this morning. Peaceful. This state of 'being' could change with one phone call. I am now on-call as a substitute secretary. I could end up at any school in the city. Every day will be a first day. But ... it will lead me to a better place than I have been.

The soundtrack of the weekend-past has lifted me up and will carry me through the unknowns. I feel stronger and ready to face the world again. I feel invincible.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Driving Distractedly

"Distracted driving laws enforced" was the first sign that I noticed when I crossed the border into the next province. Oh no!! I was eating a sub sandwich while I was behind the wheel, with a Booster Juice in my drink holder. Were they going to charge me for being distracted while driving??? I gobbled down my lunch and drove with both hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road.

I was falling asleep at the wheel. I was an hour away from my destination. Tim Hortons was minutes away. A cup of coffee would be a very good investment. I drank the first part of the coffee in the restaurant. The part that I always spill down the front of me. I thought I could pull off the act of drinking the last part of my coffee while I drove. Before I left the parking lot, I took a sip and dribbled coffee down the front of me. So I took another drink and slopped some more. Third time's the charm, I thought ... and took another gulp. For heaven's sake! Must I make the exact same mistake three times before I realize that the problem could be with a faulty lid?? It's no wonder they thought I couldn't handle my job position at work!!!

I rummaged through my bags for the wipes that I knew that I had packed. I knew they were there somewhere. But as it was with spilling my coffee three times before I realized I was expecting a different outcome by doing the exact same thing ... I looked and re looked in the exact same location for the wipes that I couldn't find.

Eventually, I found the wipes safe and sound in a zippered compartment of one of my bags. So began the struggle of trying to wipe the coffee stain off of the one and only light colored jacket that I had brought along.

I thought to myself "I should have just kept on driving!" ... but quickly realized that had I kept driving while I was in the early phases of nodding off to sleep, I could have had a lot worse problems than a coffee stain to deal with. 

My eyes were wide open to the fact that a small spilled coffee incident could have saved a life. I was alert from the dose of caffeine and the added shot of reality.

I drove the last hour with my eyes wide open and without distraction. I arrived to my destination safe and sound. Just a small coffee stain on my lapel to remind me of the perils of distracted driving.

It was a cheap lesson.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I was told, "You ask too many questions". I was in a brand new job. In an entirely new world. I didn't know anything. But I was told, "You ask too many questions". So I stopped. I asked a question only if I had turned over every other stone.

I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I googled. I asked people in other departments. I made notes and quick reference guides so that what I couldn't remember was easily accessible.

I focused on being positive, speaking positively, being upbeat and avoiding negative circumstances and people.

I could control nothing or no one but myself. So I did everything within my power to turn the situation to make it work.

But it wasn't enough.

It wasn't even fair. Because when I asked where I went wrong, I was told, "You ask too many questions."

When you find yourself on a dead end road, you must turn around, go back to where you were. And try again.

"I'm little run down ... I could (can) beat it ... 'cause I'm feelin’ ... Invincible"
~ Lyrics from "Invincible" by Hedley

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Bridge

I just wanted to 'run away' for a few days. Take some time for myself between transitioning myself 'out of the old and into the new'. Time to be quiet and put some physical distance between me and life-as-I-know-it.

I drove down roads that I have travelled more times than I can recall. A five hour drive to a place that was once home.

I moved there with my parents when I was nine years old. I moved away when I was 27. It was my home for 18 years.

I have travelled that road for 42 years of my life. With my parents, with my husband, with my children, with my sisters and recently, I have travelled that road alone.

Forty two years of memories.

But what memory knocked me over like a ton of bricks on my most recent trip back 'home'? The Borden Bridge.

Dad and I made the trip one time. Just the two of us. I can't remember what we talked about. I can't remember how old I was. I just remember ... it was just Dad and me.

The only vivid memory that I have, is that we picked up our local AM radio station until the Borden Bridge. We carried that radio wave with us for most of our trip. It had never happened before. It didn't happen again. It was nothing. It was just one of those little memories that has stayed with me ever since.

Yesterday? I looked at that bridge as I drove past ... and I cried.

I miss my dad. I'm grateful for triggers that take me back in time. Who knew that such a simple moment would mean so much one day?


"A melody is like seeing someone for the first time. The physical attraction. Sex. ... But then, as you get to know the person, that's the lyrics. Their story. Who they are underneath. It's the combination of the 2 that makes it magical." ~ Quote from the movie  "Music and Lyrics"

It is the melody that gets me. Every time.

So it was, with "Invincible" by Hedley. Then the chorus started speaking to me:

"I've come a long, long way
Made a lot of mistakes
But I'm breathin’, breathin’
That's right and I mean it, mean it
This time I'm a little run down
I've been living out loud
I could beat it, beat it
That's right, 'cause I'm feelin’, feelin’
Invincible ~ Hedley

Yes, this time ... I'm a little run down. But I can beat it. Because I'm feeling ... invincible.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What Helps Me Sleep at Night?

I have had too many restless nights lately. Waking up in the middle of the night with a brain full of thoughts. Waking up and feeling anxious about the day/week ahead of me. Waking up because (perhaps?) I've been sleeping too much lately. Waking up out of habit.

So I've been doing my best to do what I can during the day, so I can sleep at night.

I try to unload my thoughts ... somewhere. Whether by talking or writing, I try to relieve the excess. I sequestered myself into a state of solitude when I started my new job. Lately, I have been inviting friends and family back into my world. This is good.

I have done my absolute best to 'empower' myself with regards to the stresses in my life. Choosing how to react. Remembering that I am only in control of 'me'. Accepting the fact that there will always be challenges and challenging people. I have focused on that which I have control over. It helps. It helps a lot.

I have done a better job of avoiding the after-supper naps. I think that I had been sleeping to avoid thinking. Shut down all systems and go into forget and avoid mode. It has been better to keep myself active and (somewhat) productive. That definitely adds quality to my night-time sleeping hours.

That habit seems to be hardest to break. But if I keep my life in balance and my thoughts and actions positive, at least I wake up in a calm state of mind. Sleep returns easily if my life is in balance.

But what really, really helps me sleep at night? Living the day the best way that I know how. Looking my challenges in the eye and thinking to myself "You are not going to get the best of me!" Acting and reacting to life, so that when the day replays in my mind (and it always does!), I can hold my head high and know that I did the best that I could with what I was given.

Yesterday? I did all of the above. Then I went dancing. It was the perfect end to an (almost) perfect day ...

Last night? I slept. All night. Today is going to be another good day. The tides of change are shifting my course. But I like where I'm headed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Am I Headed in the Right Direction?

"If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking."
~ Buddhist Saying

I am certain that I am headed in the right direction. It just seems to be taking a lot longer to get where I was headed than I thought it would!

But it is the journey ... not the destination that I must focus on.

The journey has brought a profound appreciation for that which I once took for granted. This is a lesson that I needed to learn.

The journey has brought new people, new ideas and a renewed sense of believing in and following my dreams.

This felt easier when I was younger. I'm just grateful that I have the fight and drive to keep persevering. Life has taught me that ''the best is yet to come''. I believe that to be true. With all of my heart and soul.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Life is an Art Form

We read the same words. We each pulled out the exact same quote to prove our point. The points we were trying to prove were at polar opposites of each other. Yet we each found our own version of the truth, within the very same sentence.

Everything we see, hear, write and live is defined by our past, our vision and our personal perception of what lies before us.

Timing is everything. I remember reading a fictional novel about teen pregnancy. Three times. Before, during and after my own pregnancy at a young age. It was the same book. The exact same words. But the story changed each and every time, because of what I was living at that moment.

Art. Movies. Music. Writing. Each and every form of art brings a unique and personal meaning to the person seeing/watching or reading it. Each individual brings their own story into the art form and translates it differently than the next guy.

So it is with life. What feels right to me today, may differ from what felt right yesterday. Or a year from now. I walk through my days alone and I share my experiences after the fact. I must make decisions that I can live with. Every day.

" 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something." ~ Steve Jobs

This quote means different things to different people. On different days. In different circumstances. How each person perceives what needs to be changed is as individual as their fingerprint. The 'truth' lies within the eye of the beholder.

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Beginnings

The year 2011 has been The Year of New Beginnings in our family ...

My Nephew started the Tides of Great Change when he overcame all obstacles and was accepted, trained and became a Police Officer this year.

There have been numerous other job transitions going on within our family since then. Did My Nephew start something by having a dream, pursuing it and succeeding at what he set out to do? Did he open the door to the belief that anything is possible if you believe it to be true and act on it?

Sometimes we set our sights on a goal and we find ourselves heading towards a different destination than we originally planned. No matter where things go ... know that if you keep following your heart, your dreams and your passions ... you will end up in a place better than you started (even if you have to take a few detours along the way).

Today marks yet another New Beginning for another extraordinary family member. I just want you to know that I believe in you ... in endless possibilities ... and in success in whatever form it takes.

Each and every day opens the door to another new day. A new beginning.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Best Thing That Could Have Ever Happened

The email subject line was "Text of Steve Jobs' Commencement Address (2005)". It was an email forwarded from our school principal to all of the staff the day after Thanksgiving, so I read the words with gratitude in mind.

Jobs' first story was about "connecting the dots". He had my undivided attention. When I read the words "It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made", I knew that this man was telling 'my' story from a different perspective.

Steve's next story was about "love and loss". Once again, every word resonated with a kinship and the feeling that he could have been telling my tale. "It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it ... Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith." No matter how experienced in life I get, I keep swallowing those bitter pills. But Steve says, "Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it." The more I live, the more I find this to be true ...

The third story was about "death". " 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something." It is with this type of thinking, that I have decided it is in my best interests to end a relationship ... make a career change ... or fine tune my living to a degree where I wake up each morning excited (or at least content) about the day that I have at my disposal.

I read this commencement address and was inspired. I googled 'Steve Jobs' this morning, with the intent on finding out just a little bit about him before I wrote this post. I was shocked and surprised when Steve Jobs' death appeared as a selection on my google's 'auto complete' feature. He died October 5th, 2011. I didn't read his words until I received this email October11th.

His words resonated with me before. They took on a deeper meaning after I realized that he had recently passed away ...

The more I look back and "connect the dots" ... the more I realize that the best things that have ever happened to me, were the hardest things to endure at the time. I have faith that this this will always remain to be true ...

** Note: all italicized quoted are Steve Jobs' words - not mine **

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Don't Get Paid For This ...

Back in my daycare days, I got paid to stay home.

Sure ... I tended a house full of kids. I fed them, kept them safe, taught them manners and a few life lessons and we build a little home around our ever-changing family. But I also got paid as I puttered away in the house and in the yard; baked and cooked supper (yes! I actually cooked suppers on a regular basis during those years); read; wrote; chatted on the phone; and visited with my mom when her visits overlapped with some of my babysitting hours.

I was tied to the house back in those days. At their longest, my days started at 6:30 a.m. and lasted until 6:00 p.m. Yes, I got paid to stay home. But I was home a lot. There is always a sacrifice.

During that phase of my life, I appreciated each and every time I left the house. I loved being in the company of other adults. I enjoyed my Saturday employment for close to ten years ... because it got me out of the house and I got to talk to other adults.

I also had dancing. Oh ... how my life revolved around my dance lesson during those years. Dancing represented everything fun. Laughter, adults, socializing, music, moving and learning. I loved everything about it. Everything!!

Life has changed.

I now work out of our home. All day. Every day. This changing of the tides began in March, but I had the illusion of feeling that I was somewhat in control of my away-from-home-hours until I started my new job.

I work around people. Lots of people. Over 100 staff members. Over 800 students. Parents, social workers, electricians, neighbors, police ... you name it. They walk through the door and/or phone into our large and busy high school. As the receptionist, I speak to the vast majority of those who walk through the door.

The learning curve has been steep. The past few weeks have been so much better. But there is one day, each week that is (somewhat) a challenge. Yesterday was the day. It wasn't bad. I handled it. But 'it' was the day that didn't end when I walked out the door.

I had a dance lesson last night. I wanted to stay home, climb into my PJ's and curl up on the couch. But it was dance night. I went out.

My private lesson was fun. We laughed in a way we haven't laughed for a while. It was therapeutic. And worth every penny (see Next Time ... I'll Book a Dance Lesson). But I knew my brain capacity had hit overload when I couldn't grasp a section of the routine we were working on. I don't know my part. Plain and simple. And I don't seem to have the ability to retain long streams of information. One small section at a time? I'm okay. Link five or six of those sections together and I'm lost.

Then came the Beginner Group Dance Class. We were basically on our own, learning our half of another routine. I was okay for the first four or five sequences. Then I needed to be attached to a partner to figure out the rest. Thankfully, we had an even number of participants so I did get partnered up with a lead. I knew that I wasn't grasping and retaining what was being taught, but I didn't care. I was doing this for fun. I was paying for the pleasure of being there. So I took what I could from the lesson and just enjoyed it. All the while, my self esteem was heading south. Just a little bit.

Then came the Intermediate Class. One more student joined the class. We now had an odd number of participants, so it would either be a lot of individual learning or I would have to become 'the lead' or it would be one-man-out from time to time. Add the fact that I was already in over my head and I was losing interest. Fast.

I tried. Or did I? My head was saying "I don't know this. I can't learn this. This is too much!" And my feet were believing my head. Once we started working in the corners, talking 'diagonal to wall' and the technical jargon that comes with the theory behind ballroom dancing, the words started swimming in my head.

All of a sudden, I felt like I was at work. I was overwhelmed. I was expected to learn. Or at least try.

It had been a long day. I didn't need or want the pressure. It was a 5 ladies to 2 men ratio. Someone was going to be sitting out. Or else I was going to  have to 'take the lead'.

Suddenly the words "I am not getting paid for this ..." entered my mind. The decision was made. I quietly exited the class.

The tides have shifted. I am out of the house far more than I want to be. So if I am going to leave the house and pay for the privilege ... it must be worth it.

I have to think on that one for a little while.


... and she ends the post without a poignant recap and solution ...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Good-Hearted Living

"Follow these daily practices to prevent Hardening of the Attitudes and add more laughter to your life" ~ Steve Wilson

One of the nuggets that I took home from our Laughter Yoga class, was a one page hand out on "Good-Hearted Living".

The idea is to be mindful of developing habits that incorporate positive thinking and actions into your day-to-day living. The ultimate goal is for these habits to become second nature. In doing so, it brings joy, happiness and laughter into your life.

Throughout regular exposure to speakers, positive thinking articles, Oprah, forwarded inspirational email messages and just a general 'keeping my eyes and ears open' to positive energy ... I found myself already living the good-hearted way.

The journey into a new career has been a challenge. When I was feeling myself in an abyss of despair on a semi-regular basis, I knew that I had lost my happiness. My joy for living.

I slowly but surely reincorporated what I knew worked for me in the past and made a conscious effort to turn my thoughts around.

I started looking for the positive in a situation and spreading it around. Speaking of the positives, complimenting people and simply being aware opened my eyes and widened my focus. Suddenly my own challenges felt smaller when I looked at the bigger picture.

I became quiet. I absorbed as much information as I could retain. I listened. I became conscious of the unwritten 'rules' which would make my life easier. I found ways to learn and do what I needed to know and get done. I learned that there is more than one way to accomplish a goal. I opened my mind to learning new things in new ways. I was flexible.

Gratitude has long been my fall-back coping mechanism. When all else fails, be grateful. Gratitude for the smallest of things brings life into focus for me. Start small ... and it grows. Pass it along ... and it becomes contagious. I once heard that if the only prayer you say is one of gratitude ... it is enough. I endeavor to live a life of eternal gratitude.

The Golden Rule. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. This is ingrained in my thinking. Kindness begets kindness (most of the time). Even if it doesn't, I feel better knowing that I acted in kindness. When I replay the tape of the day, I want to have the peace of mind that I was kind to those that crossed my path during the day. It helps me sleep at night.

Forgiveness. Even when I don't understand what motivates people to act the way they do ... I must accept 'it is what it is'. I must learn how to react in a way that does not belittle me or the other person and forge onward. "Accept the things you cannot change ..." Holding a grudge or letting anger rule my thoughts is a waste of energy. I choose forgiveness.

Indulgence. I have given myself what I need, to regenerate myself so keep taking those forward steps. Initially, I found myself wanting to cocoon myself in the peace, serenity and safety of my home. Eventually, I started adding 'people' into the equation. I have started surrounding myself with friends and family. I've ate a little 'chocolate' from time to time too.

I have come full circle and have come back to Good-Hearted Living quite by accident.

To read the article in full, click here:

The abbreviated version from "Good-Hearted Living" by Steve Wilson is:

Mondays are for Compliments
Tuesdays are for Flexibility
Wednesdays are for Gratitude
Thursdays are for Kindness
Fridays are for Forgiveness
Weekends are for Chocolate

Now ... go and have yourself a day filled with kindness. Happy Thursday!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Some friends and I tried out a Lafter Yoga class last night. It was advertised "for stress reduction, shedding inhibitions, increasing your sense of humor, better physical and mental health and energizing your life". Laughter among friends, gentle breathing and stretching sounded like a winning combination. So we gave it a whirl.

The concept is based on the idea that your body doesn't recognize the difference between a fake smile and a real smile; fake laughter or real laughter. "Laughing for no reason" is the name of the game in this club. It does not rely on humor, jokes or comedy. You laugh with people; not at them.

We learned fake laughing techniques for the better part of an hour and there were moments when it became real. We laughed for (almost) two minutes straight. Try it. It's hard work. It was the best core work out that I've had in months.

Maybe it is because I was a novice and very self conscious, but I didn't come out of the session feeling much different than when I walked in. 'Relieved' would possibly be the best description of how I felt at the end of the hour. Relieved that it was over and I could go out for coffee and real laughter with my friends!

As we sat at the table and enjoyed our coffee/tea afterwards, our 21 year old friendship generated true laughter. We laughed with each other. Nothing beats a genuine, from the heart belly laugh among friends. There were serious moments, thoughtfulness and encouragement was volleyed back and forth across the table. But each time we burst into gales of laughter, I realized how blessed I was. To share friendship, laughter, tears, good and bad times with a group of friends that I would trust with my life.

There were many nuggets of positive information that I took home with my from our Lafter Yoga class. I have been craving laughter these past months. I'm glad I tried it.

What I learned, I have known all along. I am blessed to have a life that is generously seasoned with laughter and tears, enough challenges to appreciate what I have and good friends to share it with.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Day of Cookies, Take Out, Dill Pickle Chips and Skittles

Ooooo ... my stomach. Yesterday was not a good food day.

It all started because the prior evening, I had promised to take My Youngest to McDonald's for breakfast, after a bright and early run to WalMart for a video game that he desperately wanted.

I slept in. He was still sleeping and I didn't want to ruin my appetite for our upcoming breakfast, so I didn't make my regularly scheduled breakfast smoothie.

Big mistake. I got a little munchie while I waited for him to wake up ... so I ate the last three chocolate chunk cookies.

Three hours later than planned (and one stomach-full of chocolate chunk cookies), we finally picked up our breakfast. I wasn't hungry but I knew that if I sacrificed that meal (now more like brunch), I'd be nibbling all afternoon. So I ate.

Well ... the thing about McDonald's, is that it seems to open the door to my cravings. I held off as long as I was talking on the phone (I had a few very enjoyable phone-visits yesterday) ... but sometime around 4:00, I started surveying the household for the opinion about supper. The consensus seemed to be that it would be a fend-for-yourself night.

Yee haw!! The remnants of a bag of dill pickle chips was calling my name ... (I ate far, far too much sugar the day before and all that I could think about before I went to bed that night is "I need salt". So I grabbed a bag of chips and crawled into bed [I didn't want to disturb the quiet of the house by turning on the TV in the living room]).

Anyway ... I polished off what remained in the chip bag and opened another. Having satisfied my salt cravings, I moved onto a new food group. Sugar. There was a fresh, new bag of Skittles sitting in the closet. Certainly a few of those would stave off starvation ...

It was some time after this little 'party' that I realized that I had not heard My Youngest rummaging in the kitchen for supper at any time during the supper related hours. Thankfully, we had just enough left overs from our chicken supper the prior evening to satisfy his hunger and nutritional requirements. No cooking required on my part.

This little junk-food-fest was preceded by 'Sunday' ... where the dessert temptations at a buffet lunch with my sister set my sugar cravings to high. Then, returning home in time to cook supper ... I ate four chocolate chunk cookies while I peeled the potatoes for our Sunday Supper. Thus, I wasn't terribly hungry for the main meal ... nor the extra-large pumpkin pie that My Oldest brought over for dessert (but of course, I ate an ultra large slice of pie to be polite). Then ... I went to my aunts, where I easily resisted all food temptations ... until I was offered a home made pecan tart just before I walked out the door. All that sugar intake led to the salt craving (see 'dill pickle chip paragraph #7).

Oh. My. Achin'. Stomach.

I am quite relieved that regularly scheduled life will mean the return of eating habits as-I-know-them. My stomach needs a rest.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Family Connections

"Blood is thicker than water" is one of Mom's famous quotes that I heard often while I was growing up.

I didn't really understand what it meant until the time some friends of mine dared to talk badly of my little brother. I don't remember details, but I believe the gist of the story is that I could say what I wanted about my brother ... but no one else could put him down. I remember defending him quite adamantly on the phone. When I hung up, Mom's words were - "Now that deserves a pat on the back!"

That was quite likely the first time that the "blood is thicker than water" quote made sense to me.

Over the course of my life, I have found myself either thinking or saying that quote aloud when the blood connection trumped one of life's challenges.

Family sticks together. Sometimes you don't even consciously understand why you feel the way you do ... but it's that connection. The invisible ties that bind. Family.

This weekend, I was invited to join my aunt's family as her daughter (my cousin) came home for a rare visit. She lives in the U.S. and she had not been home in six years.

The house was full. People had come from far and wide to come and visit with my U.S. cousin. The old me would have avoided a situation like that like the plague. I was a 'distant' relative - a cousin. These were her parents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and in laws. I didn't belong ...

But I did. I was welcomed with open arms. I talked to my visiting cousin at length. I talked with other family members and I was as comfortable as I would have been, sitting among my own siblings.

Family history, family connections, family humor ... we know each other. We get each other. After over two months of being surrounded with new people in a new environment learning a new job ... I was finally plunked into the middle of a family gathering. I felt like I had come home.

The group eventually depleted to few more than 'the sisters', a few of their adult daughters and my aunt. I know how much Mom cherishes those moments when she is with her immediate family. It was time for me to disappear.

I was still welcome to stay. But I left. I know how much I cherish my 'sister time'. I am fortunate to live close to both of my sisters and we take advantage of the opportunities that we have at our disposal. My cousin may not be 'home' for years to come and she has a lot of sister/mother/family bonding to pack into the few days that she is here.

I left with a happy heart. The essence of family was sprinkled into a regular, ordinary day. I have been running on empty lately. Moments like these fill me up.

I am grateful to my mom for nurturing those family ties with her stories and the sense of history that she has passed along. It made a day like yesterday comfortable and easy. I am grateful for those family connections.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

When Everything Works

When our cars start at the turn of the key ... when our furnace or air conditioners turn on at the flick of a switch ... when our computers start up without a hitch ... when we turn on a light switch and the light goes on ... when all that we expect ... happens ... we think 'this is how life should be'. We may take what we have for granted.

When we have a job to go to and receive a pay cheque for our efforts ... we sometimes forget what it is like to be unemployed.

When life is easy and each day unfolds into the next without effort or design ... we may not remember to appreciate how good we have it.

When our bodies work the way they were designed to function and no outside interference is required to live our lives ... we may forget to appreciate how blessed we are to have our health.

How many times have I let little things get me down? The dryer quit the day after I had the hard drive on the computer replaced and the day after that, the computer desk broke. Woe is me. Life happened.

How many times have I complained about my job lately? Yes. A book could be written about my work sagas. But I am working!! What am I complaining about?

How many times have I woken up with fear and apprehension about the day ahead? Not many. Life has thrown me a few curve balls. But I wake up in the morning with a fair idea of what to expect. I am rarely disappointed.

How many times do I fear that my body or the body of a loved one is failing? Sometimes ... but it has been a rare occurrence when the world of modern medicine hasn't been able to repair, cure, stabilize or manage the symptoms so life goes on (perhaps with some modification) as expected.

My life is touched by many people who have not had this same good fortune. Without even trying, I have too many examples of families struggling with health issues that pop to the forefront of my mind.

No one knows what tomorrow holds in store ... but there are some who face their tomorrows from a different perspective.

When everything in our lives goes according to plan ... we sometimes forget to acknowledge the little things.

When our security is threatened and we face challenges ... we are much more likely to say a silent prayer of thanks.

It shouldn't take the threat of losing 'life as you know it' to appreciate what you have. Every day. Little things.

A home to shelter us. Food to nourish us. Fresh air to breathe (and the ability to breathe unassisted).

When the sun shines upon us and graces us with warmth and security, we are blessed.

When our bodies and the bodies of our loved ones work without medical intervention ... we have been given more than money can buy.

Today ... I am grateful for my health and the health of those that touch my life. More importantly, my heart goes out to those that would give anything to wake up to a day where life goes (somewhat) according to plan.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Oh ... The Joy!

It's been slow in coming ... but my 'happy' has returned.

It ebbs and flows a little bit. It isn't a given. I have to work a little harder for it. But I feel it under my skin once again. The ability to find happiness in every day, ordinary little things.

I am finding happiness at work. I am feeling comfortable and the getting-to-know-you process is beginning with many staff members. I found my sense of humor. Common sense is prevailing (though I still lose it from time to time).

I had one 'off' day this week. It was a day that would not stop rewinding and replaying in my head long into the evening. Finally, I stopped myself in my tracks and analyzed why it was another day-of-many-mistakes. It was because I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone and flexing my going-above-and-beyond muscles again. It was a good excuse for a bad day. I got over it.

Yesterday was pure heaven. There were only three of us in our office, while the rest of the school attended a presentation all morning. We worked a little, chatted a little, got to know each other a little and savored the stress-less hours.

I returned after lunch and the day shifted into a little bit of a different mode, but the tranquility of the morning prevailed.

I felt happiness welling up and bubbling inside of me. While I was at work!! It was by far, my best day yet.

And there are more to come. I can feel it.

Two months. I always say the first two weeks of a new job are the toughest. The first month or two are still pretty rough. I was nine days shy of my two month anniversary at my new job when I finally felt the joy that is now within my reach.

We appreciate things more, when we have to work for it. I promise to savor, be grateful and nurture the joy that is returning to my life.

It is our Thanksgiving long weekend. A most perfect time to find that which I am grateful for and celebrate.

Friday, October 7, 2011

You Can't Save Them All

A teacher and a counsellor talking about their approach in handling a student with bullying issues. It wasn't black and white. It was a combination of many different teachers and enlisting family to approach the same problem from different angles.

A few teachers speaking to a student in the hallway. I heard not a word but could tell by the demeanor of the student, that he didn't want to hear what they were saying.

Bits and pieces of conversations among the school's team have opened my eyes to a fraction of all that these people are dealing with all day, every day.

Yesterday, I heard the words "Kids making bad choices ..." coming from a teacher that I had met in the weeks before school started. I was in awe of this teacher's zest for life, enthusiasm and joyfulness. Yesterday? I saw defeat. I complimented this teacher on the way that the school staff works together and works in the best interests of the students. She silently acknowledged that fact but it wasn't enough. "You can't save them all ..." was her response.

In so many cases, these teachers are the best shot that the students have. These children come from every situation imaginable. I cannot begin to fathom what these young people are dealing with - inside and outside of the school. I see only whispers of the story within as I hear only a very, very small fraction of what is going on around me.

There is so much that I don't know about, understand or see. I have witnessed small victories ... watched the connections between staff and students ... seen the weight of the responsibilities fall upon the shoulders of a caring staff ... a smile when a positive encounter has turned a situation around ... but what haunts me the most were the words I heard yesterday. "You can't save them all ..."

But if you can make a difference in the life of one child, it could make all the difference in the world.

“ I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." 
~ Helen Keller

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Making a Difference

I saw it with my own eyes. I heard it first hand. 'This' is what they had been talking about ...

It took but mere seconds. I saw the defeat in the teacher's eye. The sullenness of the student who was following her. The utter disrespect in the student's manner and words.

The student was ushered into the assistant Principal's office. I thought that is where it would end.

I listened to my thoughts and remembered what I had been told about some of the students. This is early in the school year. I supposed that situations such as these (and this was minor), could taint a person's view if this became the norm. Day after day, month after month, year after year ...

But it didn't end there.

Later in the day, the Principal had the student apologize to the office staff who were witness to her behavior. Anyone can say "I'm sorry". But what impressed me the most, is that the student made eye contact and was sincere with her words. What impressed me just as much, was the immediate words of forgiveness within the office group.

I was in a different office the next day, when I crossed paths with this student once again. She was nothing but respectful. She was treated with nothing but respect and dignity. She reacted in kind.

It is too easy to react to the outward display of another person. It takes time and genuine compassion to find what is triggering the negative actions. It is a two way street.

I have no idea what was said or what transpired behind closed doors. I do know that I felt a positive transformation within a young and vulnerable soul. Whatever was said, allowed this to happen.

My hat goes off to those who make a difference in the life of another. I am blessed to be working in an environment where I am surrounded by a group that is working together and looking for the best solution for each individual. Working within this group inspires me to live up to their example.

They make a difference. One student at a time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Return of Peripheral Vision

This past week has widened my vantage point and I am starting to feel and experience the world around me once again.

I feel the outside world breaking through the barriers and drawing me back into living life instead of just getting through it.

I have been wandering through these past months with tunnel vision. I have narrowed my line of vision and focused my attention into work. And little else.

A friend called last week. She needed to talk, to vent and to bounce her thoughts off of a neutral party. She needed reassurance as she wades through the trials and tribulations of 'life'.

As I listened, empathized and eventually wound up giving her a bit of a pep talk, I felt myself starting to come back to life. It is through giving, that much is received.

Since then, I have found myself on the giving end of a friendship a handful of times. Each time I am touched by a friend in need of a friend, it expands my peripheral vision and I start to feel like I am living again.

There has been so much going on in my life that I have not focused on lately. Tunnel vision is like the blinders (blinkers) that they put on race horses. They are designed to reduce stimuli and increase performance. I have needed to narrow my focus ... but much has been lost by living the past few months of my life without peripheral vision.

The time has come to remove the blinders and see the entirety of the world around me. It is time to unearth the common sense that has been lost in the process of learning. The time has come to find my sense of humor and laugh at myself instead of beating myself up.

Peripheral vision + common sense + a sense of humor = An equation for living life fully

Monday, October 3, 2011

24 Hours

This past weekend, a very good sister-friend (my ex husband's sister) drove 5 hours to come and spend some time with my family.

She is one connection to my older children's father that has weathered the storms and survived. Not only intact, but stronger.

I watched her, watching her nephews/my sons and absorbing every morsel of who they are, where they have been, where they could go, the family resemblances and traits that remind her of her own children. I listened to the words she spoke and heard her wisdom, her heart ache and the perspective that she brought with her, and into our world.

It was a wonderful weekend. A weekend that made a difference in the lives of at least four people ... with the potential to spark small changes that help to heal some old wounds and bring a family just a little closer together. One small step at a time.

She spent just over 24 hours with us. But the whispers of the time that she spent with her nephews will linger long after ...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fussy Eaters, Lactose Intolerant and a Vegeterian

It is no secret that I do not enjoy cooking. Cooking at the best of times is not something I enjoy, do well or do unless it is absolutely necessary. So you can imagine my delight to find myself planning a menu for two fussy eaters, one lactose intolerant and a vegetarian.

The desire to go out for supper was overwhelming. A restaurant kitchen is designed for this challenge. Me? Not so much.

I wandered up and down the food aisles in Walmart, thinking that if I could find some brand name marinated chicken kabobs, a garden salad and some potatoes I would be well on my way.

All I could find was pork kabobs. I am not a huge fan of pork. I looked up and down the meat counters and my stomach was heaving at the sight of beef (I am a vegetarian wannabe 90% of the time ... shopping for meat kills my appetite and feeds my take-out food habit).

I grazed the ready-to-go salad aisles and anything I was interested in, appeared to be far beyond its expiry date. I picked up the greens, looked at the 'rusty' lettuce within and carried on. Potatoes held no interest to me by this time.

I gave up. I walked out of the store with nothing but a shower curtain and soap scum cleaner ...

I then went to our family's all-time favorite food store. Our neighborhood Co-op. They are famous for their meats and I enjoy perusing their fresh food aisles.

Once again, I walked up and down ... up and down ... away and back ... and finally decided on some marinated chicken breasts that my eyes could tolerate the look of. If I never saw a raw meat product again, I would die happy.

The easy part, was finding the produce. The challenge was, to find a salad(s) that my picky eaters would eat. Caesar salad is my favorite side dish with chicken and this did not bode well with my lactose intolerant guest.

I ended up buying plain iceberg lettuce ... but did not dare add any extra vegetables or color due to the fussy factor. We had diced and sliced carrots, celery, broccoli, baby tomatoes and cheese on the side ... and a very pretty herb salad (that looked very much like the salad I remembered our guest ordering when we went out for supper together).

The rest was easy. Baked potatoes, garlic toast and I picked up some prepackaged vegetable kabobs. Voila! The menu for our supper for six was chosen and in the fridge.

My Oldest was eager to show off his new home to his aunt, so we packed up our supper and took it along with us.

My Oldest took over barbecuing the meat. My Middle Son tended to the vegetable kabobs. Between the three of us, we got the garlic toast in and out of the oven. But for the most part, I did basically nothing except bring out the salads just before it was time to eat.

My Oldest has a very striking dining room set. A dark glass table with place mats, square white plates, teamed with cutlery and glasses that actually come from a matching set. Add the colorful array of foods ... and the supper table was a work of art.

The scent of our supper cooking whet our appetites and by the time we all sat down and started our meal, I had to admit that no restaurant could have done it better.

Easy conversation, a variety of foods that appeased all appetites and diet restrictions and a team effort to put our meal together made for one of the best 'Sunday Suppers' that we have had in a very long time.

It was a family supper that enveloped a sister that I gained as a result of my marriage. A sister that was a huge part of my life before we moved out here. A sister that I 'adopted' as my own, when I lived in a world far away from my own sisters ...

It was a meal that combined a lot of good things together at one table.