Monday, December 31, 2012

The Unremarkable Year - 2012

Unremarkable.

That was our year of 2012. Rather unremarkable.

The more I thought about how fitting that particular word was to describe our year, the more I found that it is very much a blessing to have an unremarkable year.

It means that we are much as we were a year ago.

We are all doing much the same that we did and have been doing for the years that preceded this one.

My adult sons and I continue to work. There have been slight variations as to what we do … but we are employed. We are paying our way. We are setting goals and aspirations as to where we hope the fruits of our labor will take us. My youngest has graduated onto high school with a new set of challenges before him. But he continues to learn and benefit from the education that is provided for him.

The place we call home remains the same ~ my middle son and his girlfriend have plans to move a house onto their farm this spring ~ but all in all our places of residence remain unchanged. The houses we live in are home to us. They provide more than shelter, warmth and safety. We are happy within our walls and are grateful to call our house … a home.

Relationships, friendships and family ties continue to grow and thrive. It has been a year where our hearts are happy and we have been surrounded by people that nourish us. We are blessed to continue to hold onto those who are near and dear to us.

We wake up each morning and our bodies continue to take us where we want and need to go. No surprises have caught us off guard as good health continues to be a blessing that we have carried with us throughout the year.

This has been a year where many people that touch my life have not had such an unremarkable year. There has been loss, heart-break, critical health issues, job loss and unstable new territory for so many that I know. Bad things have been happening to good people. What they would give … to have such a thing as an ‘unremarkable year’.

Oh … to sit in a doctor’s office and hear the words “Well … your test result is unremarkable”. I had such an experience for a minor issue that was being investigated. The word ‘unremarkable’ remained with me long after I walked out of the office.

Unremarkable.

No wonder I was having trouble coming up with a Christmas letter theme. My life is unremarkable.

At first I took issue with such a realization. I must make my life remarkable! It is time to set new goals (or at least follow through on the goals I have not yet attained)! I must dream and reach for the stars! I must make the most of the days that I have because we do not know what is around the next corner…

But to live in fear of what may lie in store … is to stop living life to the fullest.

As I walked through the days that followed, I realized just how wonderful it is to have an unremarkable year. Perhaps the highs were not so high … but on the flip side, the lows were not so low. It was a slightly hilly year, but our feet were on the ground throughout the ride.

We have had years of drama and it is always a very good feeling to come out the other side of it a little wiser, a little stronger and with compassion for those that are dealing with their own personal challenges. This year, I have sat on the sidelines with my heart aching for others.

No matter what this past year has brought you, my wish for you? An unremarkable day … or week … or more. A day where you wake up and life doesn’t throw you a curve ball that you weren’t expecting.

In the experiment called life, I feel that perhaps this year was one to call the ‘control year’. The year in which all was stable. The year to measure others against. It isn’t much to write about … but in the end? I am grateful for such a year.

2012 – The Unremarkable Year. We should all be so lucky …

Friday, December 28, 2012

Propelled by Fear

Even though I know better, I have allowed fear to seep into my holiday scheduling ...

My Sister invited my mom and me to her place while Mom was here for the holidays. I didn't have any qualms with the idea until (almost) -40 temperatures dominated the days in and around Christmas. Even though we have graduated to an (almost) balmy -30 degrees, I still found myself gravitating towards wanting to stay home when the temperature didn't rise substantially.

Honestly! What difference would it make if you were stranded in -20 degree weather verses -30 degrees?! Cold ... is cold. We would have been travelling on a busy, two-lane highway. I have a cell phone. I have my winter emergency kit packed. Even in the worst of circumstances (which most likely would have never occurred), all would have been okay in the end.

Would I want to risk taking my mom out in the frigid weather? Not really. Do I relish the idea of mechanical break-downs due to the cold? Not at all. Do I prefer to stay at home?? You bet I do!!!

I walked into the Christmas season very aware of the realities of life that so many people that I know are dealing with. Fragile health, loss and a general feeling of how everything is magnified during this season. Good becomes great. Bad becomes awful. It has been a melancholy season as I internalized (what I guessed) were the feelings of those that touch my world.

Then my mom's sister was hospitalized the morning of Christmas Eve. Once again I put myself in the shoes of her family and was ever-mindful of the precarious balance that makes our bodies work as we expect. Everything is connected. When the health of one organ is compromised, it affects the entire body. The concept of how"... the toe bone is connected to the foot bone, and the foot bone is connected to the ankle bone ..." rang through my head. When this starts affecting the major organs of a person's body, it reminds a person of the fragile state anyone could be in, if any one of those organs stopped doing its job effectively. If the health professionals can't hone in on the cause of the symptoms, it instills a sense of fearfulness ...

To live fully is to take hold of the reins of life and take calculated risks to make the most of the day at hand.

Do I wish that I had just let go of the fear and driven out to see my sister yesterday? Sitting here in the warmth and safety of my home and the feeling of simply wasting a day of my life yesterday, I can honestly say that I wish that I had gone ...

Have I accomplished one thing by worrying about my aunt and her family? No. Taking an active role to help those, whose lives have been thrown into a state of upheaval helps a person feel that they have done something. Worrying? It is not a productive use of one's resources. Do I know what I could have done differently? Not yet. But the answers will come ...

Living life to its fullest is a delicate balance of weighing risks against rewards. Living in fear of doing nothing verses doing something paralyzes a person into a state of immobility. It is harder to get out of that state than it is to do one small thing ...

Sometimes you just have to stare down the fears and take one small step. One step in a forward direction is better than no step at all.

Fear ... you have not got the best of me yet. You may have won a few too many rounds this past year, but your reign is coming to an end. I'm tired of what you have done to me.

We Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming ...

I will be so glad to see life-as-I-know-it resume after this holiday season.

Early to bed. Early to rise. Regular routines. Regular TV programming (I am so sick and tired of holiday movies that I could almost scream). Work ...

Yes! Even work. An appropriate balance of work, play, family, friends and quiet is paramount to my inner sense of happy.

I went into this holiday feeling guilty that I actually felt that I needed this break after (not even) four months into my new and improved daycare career. I thought that I had found the answer to my work challenges, yet I was craving a holiday.

Perhaps I needed the break for different reasons than one usually looks forward to vacation time. The years that preceded this one were rather stressful ones. I was working. But I didn't have job stability. I had time off. But I didn't know how long it would last. I could have been called to work any time. Or I may not be called to work when the 'holiday' was over.

So I am trying to give myself a break for this dire need for a break from my routine in the middle of this long, cold winter.

I am almost anticipating the return of my regularly scheduled life that revolves around my daycare family. I have one new child scheduled to start next week. A new personality to fit into our lives. A new dimension to add to our little family. A new challenge ...

I do best when I have an appropriate balance of challenge to overcome in my life. This habit/need may have been perpetuated by the years of drama that preceded these peaceful ones.

There is an inner sense of knowing that I always end up in a better place than I started, when I am faced with a challenge. I wonder if my subconscious mind creates the need for obstacles to overcome so that I can feel victorious when I come out the other side.

My holiday has rejuvinated me. I am actually anticipating getting back to life-as-I-know-it so that I can overcome this inner sense of restlessness.

I am ready, world! This must be the year that I overcome the doubts that have been taking over my thinking.

I am ready to move out of the season of Holiday Specials and return to our Regularly Scheduled Programming!

It is Hard to be Sociable

I am a very solitary soul. I could happily exist for days on end with little to no contact with the outside world.

I love when my world gets quiet and thoughts waft in and out of my head like a gentle breeze. I revel in those moments when I can sit down and let my fingers do the walking over the keyboard when my head is in that quiet, reflective place. Moments like that recharge me like little else.

I savor the quiet of my morning rituals. It gives me the opportunity to sit still with my thoughts (or lack of them). My entire body relaxes when I find my quiet place. My body and mind are closely correlated and when one is happy and relaxed, so is the other.

I enjoy finding a quiet pocket in a day to sit still and let myself close out the world around me. That time and place when I am nothing to no one. I am just idling and neutral. From the outside I may look grumpy and depressed, but on the inside I am regaining my inner happy.

I haven't had too many of those quiet moments this holiday. That is okay. I will find them again when life resumes its normal pace. But I do anticipate those quiet moments when I am officially on holidays from my day-to-day life.

I find it hard when I feel the subtle pressure from those around me, to be more than I am. Sometimes ... what you see is what you get. If I find myself in a quiet moment, I can easily lose myself in it. And sleep.

Falling asleep when someone is talking to you is (perhaps) the epitome of rudeness. Most people's remedy wouldn't be getting up hours before you need to be up to regain their energy levels. But that is my solution. Those few hours to let my body and mind relax and be quiet is exactly what I need to get through a people-oriented day. To take those hours away and jump right into my day with both feet drains me.

I got up before the birds this morning. I could barely keep myself in bed until 5:30. I have too many things to do today and I must make it look like I don't. I am not quite sure how to accomplish that ... but I know that a two hour head start will give me my best shot at getting through the day ahead. So please understand if I start nodding off at 9:00 tonight .....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Day is Done

With Mom's arrival on Christmas night, our Christmas celebration was sprinkled over several days this year.

It all cumulated yesterday when my Second Son cooked a turkey meal (where quite literally, all that I did was make a salad, peel some potatoes & carrots, turned on a few burners at the appropriate time and heated up a few cans of corn). His girlfriend made buns and pickles which supplemented the meal.

Nothing makes a turkey taste better, than having someone else deal with it. From start to finish. It was a most excellent meal. Add a few extra family members to the table setting and the dining experience was complete.

The day was good. The day is done. All that is left is left is the leftovers ...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas to All

May you be where you most want to be and feel embraced by warm memories of Christmases Past, if your Christmas Present is not what you hoped it would be.

I wish you warmth, safety and peace of mind. If your thoughts are consumed with worry, sadness or loneliness ... may you feel a cloak of protectiveness comfort you as you proceed gently through the days ahead.

Our Christmas Present feels very untypical. My family is still sleeping. I am more eager to spend the quiet by myself than I am anxious for them to open my gifts. I don't have the perfect gift to give anyone this year. The gifts under the tree do not represent how I feel. Fail ...

Mom may or may not come out to spend the holidays with us. She is not a winter traveller and the winter weather has not made her choice easy. I think it is more important for her to feel safe and warm in the comfort of her own home, than it is to trek out by bus on a cold, December day. I hope she chooses what she most wants to do.

A very good friend of mine is spending her first Christmas without her parents. I cannot help but think of her family's traditions that will change this year ...

Another friend who absolutely loves Christmas and all it stands for has been dealt some tough blows this year. She has terminal cancer. I cannot help but think of this Christmas and how bittersweet it could be ...

My mom's sister is back in the hospital. I have been thinking of her and her family a lot ever since I heard that she was readmitted a few days ago. It has been a rough year for her as well ...

Imperfect family dynamics make me think of others, as people everywhere deem this a day where families put aside their differences and try to make the most of this day. If everyone could leave their baggage at the door, it could open the doors of communication. That is much easier said than done. It is hard to erase years of hurt because it is Christmas day ...

I feel very melancholy this year. I know and appreciate how blessed I am ...

My family is stirring. It is time to go and make the most of this day.

No matter where you are or who you are with ... I wish you 'Happiness'. My wish for you is to wake up with a light heart that will carry with you through the day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Spirit of Giving ... All Year Long

I have been avoiding my Christmas Rant this year. I thought if I couldn't say anything good, I wouldn't say anything at all about the over glorified hype of this season.

The quieter I got, the more I felt it. I was relieved when I received an email yesterday that allowed me to vent my feelings. Once purged, they became a little less powerful and I could go through the motions of the festive season and endure.

The expectations of this season make me somewhat angry. I admit it. No matter how hard I try to bring the spirit of Christmas into my day-to-day life ... I still feel that Christmas means that I must give more.

What if I don't have more to give? What if I am emotionally spent? What if I am financially spent!? What if I am out of ideas and time and creativity? What if I am running on empty??

The truth of the matter is that it feels good to give. Giving of yourself lifts you out of dark places. To make a small difference in another person's day is a gift to the giver as well as the one on the receiving end. How often have you paid a good deed forward when someone does something completely unexpected and kind?

In some small way ... the gift is forwarded. Even if it is to lighten the mood of the person on the receiving end. A person feels a little lighter and has more to give of themselves when life has given them an unexpected blessing and that mood is carried forward to those people that touch the life of that person .

A complement. An acknowledgement of appreciation. A kind word. A smile. It is not the money spent that makes the difference ... the gift is in the way you make another person feel.

We have no idea what those that cross our paths are dealing with. It is impossible to guess. But it is safe to say that 'everyone has a story' ... and if we are gentle with our words and generous with kindness we can make a big difference in a person's day.

I love that Christmas is a catalyst of generosity among us. A note. A chocolate bar. An acknowledgement of a job well done. Anything positive that can be paid forward is a gift ...

The Christmas season has a way of making the emotions that we are carrying with us on a day-to-day basis feel more acute. Whether we are lonely, in pain, have suffered a loss, are dealing with serious health issues in our world or simply carrying a load of sadness with us from day-to-day. This season can make it all feel bigger than it would be on any other day.

If you know someone who may be feeling the acuteness of this season in a way that hurts ... reach out and touch them. A phone call. A note. An invitation. Anything to draw them out and into the world ...

The best gifts in life do not cost a penny. Don't save your generosity for special occasions. Those that are feeling low at Christmas are feeling the same low-grade sense of pain with them the other 364 days of the year.

Give all year long. If you can make a small difference to another person, remember them when special occasions bring their hurt to the surface. Not just because it is Christmas ...

May you carry a piece of the magic this season has the opportunity to bring to you throughout the days, months and years ahead.

I wish you a Happy Christmas and may you share the gift of happiness with those that touch your world.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Kindness Abounds

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
~Aesop

I hate to admit how much  harder it is becoming to voluntarily walk out of this door and push myself into the world of people and activities that used to fuel me. I have retreated into my shell and I find myself quite content within my safety zone at home.

I found myself committed to an evening outside of these doors last night. When I accepted the 'challenge', it was not easy. I finally convinced myself to go by admitting aloud that I have to start saying "Yes!" to life again and telling a friend that I would be there. Then I had to further stake my commitment and RSVP to an invitation to attend a dance at the dance studio that used to be my "Cheers". The place where everyone knew my name. My oasis of happiness and cheer.

Why in the world was it so hard to want to go as the day grew closer? If I had not committed myself, I am quite certain that I would have backed out. I haven't been able to dance much over the course of the past year. I felt that I was falling out of my place there. I haven't felt at ease there the last while. My oasis in the desert was drying up ...

But I said I would go. So I went.

I booked a dance lesson before the big event as a way to further entice me back through the doors. I walked into the studio and I was the only student there. Ahhh ... there was no discomfort as I made my way. And it just kept on getting easier.

The next person who arrived was a friend. Then more and more people walked in. A lot of them were familiar to me and many were people that I have come to know quite well over the years.

Conversation was easy. The entertainment was light. There was a small amount of dancing (a combination of too much food and not enough men). It was good.

I was on the receiving end of many small kindnesses throughout the evening. The entire day was a smattering of unexpected gifts.

Kind words. Kind acts. I felt enveloped in kind people and gentle acts of kindness.

It gave me courage. I signed up for more dance lessons in the new year. The dance studio's two-day offer was enticing ... but more importantly, I felt a part of myself come back to life last night. I know that I must follow this familiar path and let it take me where I need to go.

I used to like the person that I became when I danced. It was so much more than dancing. It was being part of a community. It was moving to the music of life.

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul”
~ Martha Graham

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Could I Be His Mother?

When a young man lashes out at society in the most brutal of ways, I cannot forget that he was some one's son. I have three sons. I cannot help but wonder ...

We take on the world when we raise a child. We do the best that we can with what we have. We learn as we go. There is no training manual and even if there was, each model is unique and responds to the same circumstances in different ways.

It was only last year that my adult sons told me just how hard their high school years were to endure. The pains that one son went through simply to fit in and be like everyone else. The pains the other son went through because he wouldn't conform to those standards and walked his own path. The advice and perspective that each one of them had as my youngest was on the cusp of entering high school was eye opening.

Teen age children walk through the doors of their high school years and life comes at them in a variety of ways. Teachers that may or may not understand and see them for the unique person that they are. A subculture within the school that labels them as they assume they know the person within. Peer groups that have the power to accept or ostracize. Then there is the pressure of a whole new level of learning, homework and scholastic expectations.

I walked through the doors of a high school as an adult last year and was confronted with a steep learning curve not unlike a new high school student. There was a feeling of 'survival of the fittest' within those doors. I didn't survive.

I  have a lot of empathy towards the students that fall between the cracks in life. At school. At home. Within their social group. In society. There are so many pressures out there. It isn't an easy life that we are asking our youth to walk through.

My children were at risk of becoming a statistic. They came from a single parent home. My oldest had to contend with a mother who was emotionally unavailable throughout his formative years which placed a wedge in the development of our relationship. He came from a background of abuse, addictions and violence. He lived through a lot of dysfunction in his young life. My biggest fear was that I didn't get him away from it early enough. It would affect his entire life ... the stakes are high when you bring up a child in the best of circumstances. We had walked through fire together ... then I 'lost' him during his teen years. It could have gone any way.

My middle son knows his own mind. It started when he was two and he never fully outgrew it. He knew what was right in his mind and he would stand his ground no matter what the consequences. It wasn't endearing at age two. It became somewhat volatile throughout his late elementary years. He never took his anger out on another human being, but we had to fix a few walls ... By the time he stopped going to high school, he was starting to shut down. He ached for an adult figure to reach out to him. His advise to me when I started working at a high school last year was to "Be aware ... reach out to kids that don't have their own voice..." Quitting school was his only way out. As his peers pecked away at his individuality, it could have gone either way.

My youngest has walked through those big, scary doors to his future. I am home to talk with him at the end of every day. We touch base and talk about life in general before he goes to sleep at night. I feel like I would see the signs if  he started to withdraw or change in a significant way. But he spends so much time alone ... playing on his X-box with games that have adult content (and dare I say ... violent). I shudder at all that I don't know about him ... even though I feel that I know him the best of all of my children.

We do what we can as parents. We cannot infiltrate our children's every thought and buffer out the world. We have to be brave enough to set them free and experience whatever life throws at them.

Is it enough that we do not live a life of violence within our home? Will that take away their violent tendencies?

Is it enough that we do not keep a firearm within our home? Does the lack of a weapon deter a violent nature?

Is it enough that even though we do our best ... that we are imperfect in our parenting? Each and every one of us. We can teach our children all that we know and life could still tempt them with something that we never in our wildest dreams imagined.

All I can do is provide the best home that I know how to give my child. I have fought to maintain the peace and serenity within these walls that we call a home. When it has been threatened, I have made changes. All that I know how to do is to create a world within our home and family that my children will subconsciously navigate their lives toward. It is all that I know how to do ...

Our world has become a strange and foreign place to me. There is a a quiet, subtle change out there that wants me to keep my teenage son safe within these walls. Even though my adult children have survived and appear to be thriving out there ... there is a fear that lurks within me.

When the some one's son lashes out at the world ... could I be his mother? It makes me shake in my boots to think that yes, I could. We cannot control the way that our teens internalize the world, their pain, their isolation and the way they perceive life. We can do the best that we can ... and it may not be enough.

Love your children. Young and old. That is all that I know how to do ...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Listening to the Quiet

I had the opportunity to start and finish the job of delivering my flyers before my daycare family arrived this morning. The kids arrived minutes after I walked in the door and moments within each other.

We were all plunked into my home at the same time. I sacrificed the quiet solitude that I anticipate each morning (in lieu of getting my flyers delivered) but it was worth it.

I turned off the light at the front door after the parents left and we basked in the gentle glow of the Christmas lights. One of my kids was not feeling that well, so I turned on the TV and let him sit back and relax while he watched his favorite cartoons.

I fed the one-year-old her breakfast and took the time to sit with my coffee. I then joined the kids in the darkened living room and simply enjoyed listening to the quiet...

The hum of the computer ... the dishwasher doing its job ... the inane chatter of the cartoons at a low volume on the TV ... no voices ... no words ...

The sun is starting to light the room and the voices of the children are starting to fill the air.

It was a quiet start to a day. Quietness among children. It doesn't come often or last very long when it does. This morning was a gift ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Priorities

It is only in looking backwards, that we can truly see what we have learned as life propels us through our days.

When I first ran my daycare, life outside of this house was put on hold from 6:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. I remember three incidents when real-life overrode my rule. Other than that, doctor/dentist/eye and any other appointments were booked during my summer holidays and any follow-up had to fall within my allotted time off. No exceptions were made to that rule.

During my hiatus from running my daycare, I furthered my education. The school that I attended was a self-study environment and you had to log a minimum of twenty five hours per week. They were open until 8 p.m. on weekdays, as well as Saturday mornings. There was flexibility on how you accomplished your goal. Even though I was working at a bookkeeping job on the side and babysat before and after school, this was the first time in eleven years that I could carve out time for myself, errands and appointments during the day. It was heavenly!

I vowed that when I started working for myself after that point, that I wanted to emulate those hours and the flexibility that I had during that time. For the most part, I succeeded.

When I worked out of my home, I got the job done. But I worked around what was important to me. I worked evenings and weekends to make up for time I may have lost during the week. The fog began to clear and I realized that there are some moments in time that you will never get back. I capitalized on those moments when they happened and still did the job that I was expected to do.

When we were concerned about Mom's health, I quite literally dropped everything and left on a moment's notice. When I saw a need that I could fill for Mom during that time, I didn't ask for time off. I came back, did the work that needed to be done and told them that I was going back. And I did. Priorities were sharply in focus.

My last year in the work force was not an ideal year, but in looking back I can see the benefits that I reaped because my work week was not a guaranteed one. I was ready, willing and able to work each day ... but when I was not called in to work, I was readily available to do what felt important to me at the time. I had the ability to book off time if I needed to go to an appointment. I was available when a friend needed a friend. I even took the occasional dance lesson in the middle of the afternoon. I didn't realize the gift that year gave me. It was another year of living a life where priorities were sharply in focus.

I have been back in my daycare provider role for close to four months now. I am tied to my home between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. I have taken on further responsibilities that take Wednesday and Friday evenings out of play. Life has to be planned a little more carefully now that I have lost the flexibility that I had come to know. But it is a little bit different this time around ...

... I have not completely shut out the world and my need to follow my rigid daycare schedule. There have already been a few occasions where I had to go to an appointment. So I arranged for alternate care for my daycare families. I saw a window in time where I knew that I needed to be available to a friend. Life outside of my daycare doors had to take priority ... and I made it happen.

I couldn't and wouldn't have followed through on these needs ten years ago. My focus was rigid and clear. I would not let my daycare families down. They needed stable and reliable care. That is what I gave them. Friends and family made allowances for my lifestyle and I don't think anyone held it against me ... but I felt better about myself when I could be there for others if I was needed.

It wasn't until I noticed the way a friend was consumed with the worry and stress over her work-outside-of-her-home took priority over a moment that will never present itself again ... that I saw who-I-used-to-be. Only who-I-used-to-be was so much less than that.

Priorities shift and sway with life's ebbs and flows. We can give different parts of ourselves at different times, depending on what is happening within our own little world. But to shut out the world? And give nothing? That is what I did for eleven years of my life. I can see things clearer now. I may not be able to give 100% of myself 100% of the time. But I can do better than I did before...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Life Must Go On

Tragedy touches everyone.

As I heard of Friday's tragedy at an elementary school in Connecticut ... I was on my way to a friend's home to walk with her as she dealt with her own personal loss. No less tragic. Loss is loss. There is an emptiness that will never be filled the same way again. Yet life does go on.

I have had a friend and a close relative that are fighting cancer. Different cancers. Different prognoses. Different all around. But a disease has invaded their body and they are waging their own personal war between good and bad. Good does not always win over evil. Life isn't fair. Yet we must fight to win what we can. In the hope that life will go on.

I contacted an old friend out of the blue. Her response to me was, "I'm in a crisis whenever you contact me ..." A ten-year relationship that she was in had just ended. This is a friend that knows how to love. She hands over her heart and loves like there is no end. There is such risk in loving so completely. For her heart is not just broken. It is shattered. Yet life must go on.

Another long-time friend wrote to tell me that she walked into work one day and was told that she was being laid off. It came out of the blue for her. She is just in the process of picking up the pieces and creating a new life for herself after a 25+ year marriage ended. She was a full-time mom throughout her marriage. She now has to support herself. She found a 'perfect' job for her. And it ended. Without warning. Yet she must forge onwards.

People that I used to work with have lost their spouses suddenly and unexpectedly. People that are my age have passed away.

It has been a year when people at arm's length from me are suffering great loss and devastation. Yet life around them goes on.

It is the people that are left behind or supporting those with devastating health issues that I think about and wonder how they are coping with their side of the loss.

The family of the shooter in Connecticut. How much support are they getting as they suffer so much more than the loss of their loved one? Will they have the support they need to help them through these dark days? The families of those who lost their lives so tragically and so unexpectedly, as they went to school that one fateful day ...

There is much that we will never know. I can never fully understand or feel what another is going through. All that we can do is stand beside our friends and family and hold out our hand in the hope that they will grab onto it to keep them above water when the tide comes in. And it will ...

Life must go on.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Creating a History

My two, 1-year-olds had gone down for their morning nap. It was just my 2-year-old and me. He wanted to sit on my lap. Perhaps more because he had just seen the two younger ones on my lap than because of his need at that very moment.

One of the girls was having a bit of trouble settling. So my 2-year-old & I talked in soft tones and we quietly wished her to sleep from a distance (it worked).

Suddenly my 2-year-old & I were back in time. It was just like his first day at my daycare. We were looking out the living room window together and talking about what we saw.

On his first day, he noticed all of the trees in our neighborhood. I counted and counted to him. Eventually we just said there are "... lots and lots and lots of trees ..."

We have talked about the trees a handful of times since that first day. We haven't mentioned the trees for a very long time. My little 2-year-old has developed more conversational skills and sees so much more than 'just the trees' when we look out the window.

But today? As I talked with a soothing, quiet voice as I willed one of our restless girls to sleep (it worked) ... it was as if my 2-year-old and I were back in time. It was our first day again.

Suddenly ... out of nowhere, he said, "Trees ... lots and lots and lots of trees ..." and we were reminded of that first day.

It feels so long ago. We have created so many more memories since that day. I'm glad he remembered. We are creating a history here ...

Friendship

Two unconnected souls meet and start a conversation. There is a relationship built upon the circumstances where you meet.

There are many dynamics between people that you meet at work. Co-workers ... employee/supervisor ... trainee/trainer. When you are blessed, you forge a friendship that goes beyond the workplace. I call them my keep-forever-friends. The ones that come with along with me when I leave a place of employment.

As time goes on, if we are very, very lucky ... those keep-forever friends become so much more. A sister without the blood ties. A kindred spirit. Confidences are shared. Trust is built. Support wavers back and forth as life doles out its lessons. Laughter and joy are as big a part of what works between friends as the heart ache and pain. The yin. The yang. The give. The take. It becomes as natural as breathing as the years go on ...

I moved to our New City when I was 27 years old. That sounds young now (25 years later), but at the ripe old age of 27, I thought that I had already made the best friends that I would ever know. Little did I know that the best was yet to come.

The first years that I lived here, I relied on family and old friends with shared history to walk with me along the way. Oh ... how I missed having friends that 'knew all about me, and liked me anyway'. I searched for those friends and ached to start forging friendships that mirrored those that I had moved away from. That which you actively seek sometimes eludes you. It is when you are sitting back and just being who you are ... that seeds of friendship are planted.

I have been beyond blessed. Words cannot do justice to the strong and lasting friendships that have been formed throughout the years.

I have one particular friend who 'taught' me how to be a better friend. I watched, learned and listened to the quietness of her friendship as she saw deep into the person that she spoke to and responded to the inner voice of that person. She gave without thought or reservation. She put a voice to the positive within a person and those around her became more of who they were ... because of the intuitive insight within this person. She nurtures the seeds of greatness that are already within the people that she meets. I have become better than I used to be ... because of this friendship.

My friend needs her friends right now and I am so afraid that I will not be enough. She has been a great teacher and I feel that through our friendship and growth that I have what I need within me ... to be the friend that she needs right now. I hope it is enough ...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Patience

Our Internet was down this morning so I had time to read the attachments on a monthly newsletter that I receive. I found it ironic that I didn't have the patience to sit still and read November's article on patience. I didn't get through it in November and I didn't make it through to the end this morning either. What is my problem? Is it that I have an issue with patience perhaps?

I unplugged the router and restarted the computer. Nothing. So I waited and occupied myself with other things (I was patient ... see?!???)

Eventually, I called our Internet provider and the first message that they had on their recording was that our area was going to be down for maintenance this morning. I accepted the explanation and went about my morning. I was still patient. Honest! I was ...

I could have started writing something. Anything. Anywhere. I don't have to blog to write. Right? Interestingly enough, this is when I started to feel my patience thinning.

I have my little rituals that put me in a place to sit still with my thoughts and write. I drink my morning smoothie as I read my favorite blogs. Often I will read something that triggers a moment of reflection. Sometimes this inspires a thought that I write about. Sometimes it doesn't. But I like to sit down and enjoy my morning coffee with my virtual Internet friends (that have no idea of my existence, nor my dependence on their company).

After more time elapsed, I went and unplugged our Internet modem and router. I walked away from them so that I wouldn't plug them in too soon. I went back. Plugged them in. Restarted the computer. Waited for the computer to condense my email files (it took forever ... note to self: "clean up emails!!"). I was still very patient. Really.

Eventually I sat down and read a newspaper that happened to be in the house. Hmmm ... sitting down at the kitchen table and reading a physical piece of 'literature'. I remember mornings like this! Maybe my addiction to the Internet is ruining what used to be a good thing (do you notice that my patience levels are still intact?).

Finally ... it was when the lack of Internet services was causing my son's girlfriend grief because she had work that she had to do, that I called our Internet provider one more time. Apparently I did everything right ... right up to the point where I plugged in the modem and the router at the same time. The correct thing to do is plug in the modem first. Wait for all lights to come on. Then plug in the router. Otherwise they don't 'talk to each other' and the Internet will not work.

Moments later, we were up and running. Everything was right in the world once again. Except ... they aren't.

At this moment of writing, it is 9:47 a.m. The message: "An error occurred while trying to save or publish your post. Please try again." is on my compose blog screen. It is taunting me. One wrong move and all of these words will be gone. I cannot save this post nor publish it (yes, I have copied and pasted it onto a completely separate document but I keep changing the content).

Is my patience starting to thin? Just a tiny bit. But maybe I should go back and absorb the article that I couldn't digest this morning. Perhaps this morning is trying to tell me something ...

"Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success."
~ Napoleon Hill

It is now 10:00 a.m. ... I think all systems are 'go' and I will now attempt to 'publish' this lesson on patience...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Engaged

I was shivering in my boots (shoes) at a Christmas party long ago, when our table became engaged in a mind teaser game designed to get us 'mixing' with each other. The moment my brain started working, my entire body warmed up.

In the aftermath of a separation long ago, I eventually stumbled onto a coping mechanism that was the springboard for so many of the good things that followed. I became 'courageous' as I stepped far, far out of my comfort zone and stirred things up in my life. I became engaged in my life and it was intoxicating as I invited people into my life to join me for the ride.

I had a good run. I suppose I had to run out of steam eventually. But over the course of the past few years, I can remember specific moments in time where I started shutting down.

Being told that my work-from-home position had been changed to a work-out-of-my-home without forewarning or discussion was one of those moments. My job was less than perfect before that happened, but that moment catapulted me into a fight or flight mode that started a domino effect of work-events.

Mom's health scare that happened at the same time completely unnerved me. Emotions were strong and raw. Suddenly a hyper awareness of the fragility of life made me fearful.

The fear overrode the courage that had been a driving force of my life.

I could not have predicted where life would take me after that point. Deciding to change career paths while I was down was not one of my wiser moves. Perhaps that explains the 'learning curve' (I so want to say failure) after that point. Strong people around me sensed my fear and pounced.

You don't go far in life when you retreat inside a protective cloak of sleep and withdrawal. But I had to keep going. So I did. But I slept. I slept alot during that time.

Thankfully the past three months have been the turning point that I needed so badly. I am getting my feet back underneath myself once again and I am becoming stronger. I am sleeping less ... but sleep is still my safety zone.

As life quietened down and stress levels declined, I noticed one variable that remained unchanged. When I was actively engaged in something ... as long as my mind was busy and active ... I felt fully alert and awake.

This past week, I have been fully alert. Not in a fight or flight mode. Simply engaged in my life once again. There were things to do, places to be and deadlines to meet. This is what I need to propel me.

The weekend arrived and there was a part of me that would have loved to retreat into my zone of safety. Oh! To grab a blanket and snuggle up on the couch and lose myself in a movie &/or sleep marathon. Ahhh. The temptation.

But Christmas is looming. I had a small assortment of tasks that I could do without even leaving the house. A few gifts ideas to start. And complete. Cards. Oh ... cards. How could I ever do cards this year? How do you write about a year that will not go down in history as 'memorable'??

The words came.

Saturday morning, I sat down and wrote the words. They were nothing. But they were everything. It helped me see that this was a year that I needed. The pieces of the puzzle started coming together ...

Then I became engaged. Engaged in the idea of doing 'one small thing' to start the momentum of doing another small thing. And so on. And so forth. Saturday afternoon, I immersed myself in the idea of giving. It was a wonderful place to be.

Sunday morning, I woke up once again knowing that if I sat down on my favorite comfy couch ... I would lose myself. And the day. I could turn off everything and sleep. But I didn't.

I started by writing one card. And then another. Momentum propelled me throughout the day. Was I tired? No! I was engaged. Engaged in the idea of popping into the mailbox of family and friends. I know the joy that I feel when I see a hand written letter addressed to me in the mailbox. I was giving that gift to others.

It can be hard work to stay engaged in the moment. I feel like an addict who knows what they want. Can see it. Feel it. Loose themselves in it. To become disengaged. Sometimes it is just easier to cocoon yourself away from life's lessons. It is hard to step out of that cocoon and believe that your wings will take you wherever you want and need to go.

Your wings don't get stronger if you don't flex them. Go out and spread your wings today. In one small way. Do something 'courageous'. Call a friend. Write a note. Stay awake and alert and become engaged in your day. You will be glad that you did ...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Here Goes the Memory ...

Did you ever look down at what you were wearing and not remembering putting on that particular item of clothing??

I did. Just now.

I vividly remember opening my closet door and in my mind, I knew exactly wanted to wear.

It was a pull-over hooded sweatshirt. I went to put on my jacket when I realized that I wasn't wearing what I thought I was wearing. Yes ... it was a sweatshirt. Yes ... it had a hood. But it was a zipper closing. I have absolutely no memory of selecting this particular item of clothing or doing up a zipper.

I have done this type of thing before. I am in a grocery store and I see and read the specific flavor, brand or size of grocery item that I want to buy. My hands have a different idea and pick up the item beside the desired purchase. How do I know this? Because when I get home, I find surprises inside of the grocery bag as I unpack them.

Is this only the beginning?

The more I wonder about the effects of aging ... the more I realize that I need a full length mirror beside the back door so that I can double check what I am wearing before I step out in public.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Remembering Dad

I don't normally acknowledge the anniversaries of 'the end' out loud. I prefer to celebrate new beginnings and marking a memory-making-moment in time, over the anniversary of a loss.

Today I am making an exception because of a message that I received yesterday that felt a little 'heaven sent'.

I received my very first comment from a reader. It was spurred on by an article that I had written, which was published in her local paper. I had written about the wedding band that Dad gave to Mom on their wedding day and the memories that held for me.

Her story about her mom's ring was parallel to the story I wrote. That 'simple gold band' held the same significance to her as it did to me.

This is the part that makes me feel that there 'are no such things as coincidences'. She wrote that this particular article really touched her heart 'today' ... because 'today' was the first anniversary of the passing of her father. My dad died on the anniversary of 'today' - one day after I received her email.

I have a small arsenal of 'Remembering Dad' stories. I am going to try to go back into the archives of my blog and earmark them with that label so I can easily retrieve them when the occasion calls.

Today I have one little moment in time that allows me to believe in an energy that lets me feel Dad's presence when he is not here ...

I was out at Mom's last month. Her snow shovellers continued to renege on her wish (I do believe that it is quite literally Mom's wish, because I am not certain that she has specifically told her snow-shovellers what she expects to be shovelled??) to have her deck and patio of interlocking blocks shovelled off, in addition to the sidewalks and driveway.

I woke up early one morning with the time and energy to surprise Mom before she woke. I thought I would just go out and shovel 'for a while' and see how far I got before Mom woke up and caught me in the act. I ended up having time to almost completely shovel off her deck and patio before I found her looking out of her kitchen window and beckoning me to stop (not really).

I found myself thinking of Dad as I shovelled off what Mom wished to have done. Fleeting thoughts without tangible words. Just wistful thinking of Dad ... who he was ... how he lived ... and how he would have just automatically shovelled off what Mom had expected, without a second thought ... if he was here to do it for her.

It was a beautiful, windless morning. I was aware of the wind chimes that were on the corner of the garage because I bumped them a few times as I shovelled in that area. Other than the times that I bumped them they remained silent.

I was no where in the vicinity of the chimes when they rang one more time as I was almost finished the job at hand. I had been thinking of Dad. I felt him within me. It was as if the ringing of the chime was Dad saying "Thank you" ... I immediately thought "Dad??? ..." The chime rang one more time.

And that was it. The chime never rang again.

Do I have an angel on my shoulder? Could Dad be watching out over Mom?

It brings a quiet sense of peace to believe in that which I don't see. Listen to the quiet in your world ... what do you hear? What do you feel?

Was it just a coincidence? I don't believe in coincidences...

Unremarkable

It was a little bit like checking in for an overnight stay at a hotel.

The difference was: I checked in at Emergency at a city hospital verses a hotel lobby. And the only card they required was my provincial hospitalization card instead of a credit card.

I brought my overnight bag with everything that I would need for the evening and the next morning. Arrangements were made at home so that (almost) no one even noticed I was missing.

I had arrived for my overnight sleep study.

Once you check in, you are directed to go to the sleep study lab waiting room. There was a questionairre to be completed and then you do exactly what the sign says. You wait.

There were six of us booked in for the evening's festivities. Each of us had a private room with our own private bathroom. It was no suite at the Ritz. But it was my oasis for the evening. I could pretend ...

I was quickly greeted by my personal overnight hostess. She explained what would be happening and invited me to 'dress' for the evening and she would be back when I was ready.

This is when it became evident that my hotel fantasy would end. I sat back as she hooked me up to a myriad of wires, leads and even a ground wire as they would be monitoring my brain waves throughout the night. They could tell if I was awake or asleep, the quality of my sleep and the stage of sleep that I was in. There were more leads attached to my face as they could monitor eye movement (during REM sleep) and chin movement (to see if I grind my teeth in my sleep). My heart was monitored with two electrodes attached on either side of my chest. Then there were the leg leads which were attached to each shin (to detect Restless Leg Syndrome or other movement disorders).

At this point, I was still mobile. All of my wires were attached to a central box which I could wear around my neck like a necklace. Not quite the evening attire that one would wear, to go out on the town. But a wander down the hallway to watch TV was a viable option.

Since I had the look-of-Frankenstein going on, I decided not to wander the halls. The hour was getting late so I opted to get wired down for the night.

There were another set of belts and paraphernalia which awaited me in my private room. A belt around my chest and another around my stomach which would sense my effort of breathing. A 'cannula' was attached to my nose which monitored when I breathed in and out. One more gadget - the Pulse/Ox was clipped to my finger and I was suited up for the evening.

Oh yes ... then there was the video camera and microphone above my bed, so that they could see my movements and hear my snoring. There is nothing like looking forward to a good night's sleep when your every movement, sound, breath, brain wave, leg movement and teeth grinding activity is being watched by someone down the hall.

I could have swore that my brain never shut down all night. The only evidence that I fell asleep at all, was the fact that I kept waking up. All night.

But apparently, I did sleep. The monitors proved it. When I sat down with the doctor the next morning, he said that they got a very good reading because I slept on both sides, on my back, woke and fell back to sleep several times and had a lot of REM activity.

Apparently ... I snore. This was not entirely news to me, though I thought that it was just the little snort that woke me up that was the extent of it. I got to see the steady waves on the chart to prove that it is perhaps a little more than I thought. But even the snoring was really nothing note worthy.

In the morning, the technician said that what she noted was very minor (in the snoring realm) and she unhooked my wires and sanctioned a morning cup of caffeinated coffee.

Later, the doctor said that if I had not had that coffee, he would have suggested spending the day to monitor nap activity (simply because I was already there) just to completely rule out narcolepsy. But he said there were no indicators that this was an issue and his report would reflect that.

So ... I have a complete and total clean bill of health. Between my last full physical and a new doctor that was happy to investigate any and all concerns that I brought up ... I feel like I have been checked over from head to toe. After my sleep study, it honestly feels like no stone has been left unturned. My life insurance provider should be content to insure me without reservation (or doubling my monthly premium).

The first word that my doctor said in regards to his interpretation of my polysomnogram was: "Unremarkable". While my instinctive reply was, "Well this was no stay at the Ritz either!" ... I knew that 'unremarkable' was the result that I expected and it was exactly what I wanted to hear.

My self-diagnosis before I walked in the door was simply a low-grade depression. Something completely and totally within my control. Because I am living an 'unremarkable life' ... I am quite literally sleep walking through my days.

It is time to endeavor to make my days 'remarkable' and worthy of staying alert awake for ...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Off to Sleep ...

On Monday, I found out that I needed to follow up on my at-home-sleep-test at the overnight sleep lab. My life insurance will more than double next year when it comes up for renewal if I have absolutely ANY health issues that are under investigation. So ... I called to ask if I could be put on the cancellation list for this test (the waiting list is about two years).

Tuesday... they called to say that they had a cancellation on Wednesday.

There is nothing like being told that you have to be somewhere by 8:00 p.m.; sleep over; and be available for the next morning to create a little fire under a person.

I picked up the phone to see if I could make arrangements (with my daycare families and arrange for someone to be here for me) to have this test done. Five phone calls later, I was 'in'.

I woke up this morning knowing that I had much to do, with limited time to do it. And I did it. I did it all.

Why can't I be this ambitious every day?!??!???

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Stray Seed Comes to Life

The thing about planting seeds, is that you can never be quite sure when they may decide to take root ...

Throughout my career-change-journey, I planted many seeds. A lot of them simply died without a sign of life. Some sprouted and gave life to new opportunity. There were a few that actually bloomed ... only to die an early death.

July 31st, I sent out one more round of résumés. Less than two weeks later, I was in the business of rerouting my life. August 10th, I started delivering flyers. The same day, I came home and posted an advertisement that I was reopening my daycare. August 17th, I had an offer of a part-time bookkeeping job. September 4th, I was on my way to reliving my old life. And it felt good. It felt very good.

Yesterday ... I got a call out of the blue. A company that I could have seen myself working for called to request an interview with me tomorrow.

It is a six-month, full-time position. I perused the company's postings on the Internet to try and get an idea of the rate of pay. It was enough for me to do a double-take and consider the possibilities.

I got this call at the end of a frustrating Day at Daycare. Toilet training drains me. I felt like I had nothing left in me at the end of the day. Then I see this alternative choice ....

I asked if I could sleep on the idea and call this person back this morning. I kind of knew what my answer was going to be before I asked if I could consider the idea. But I couldn't slam the door shut. I needed to peek into another horizon to see if it held any possibilities worth uprooting my new/old life for.

I have invested a lot of myself and money into reestablishing myself in the Daycare World. I am building trust, respect and relationships with my families. My Youngest seems very happy to have me at home. I love working from home. I could not abandon ship at this point. I knew it yesterday. But I needed to consider the idea.

I sent an email off to my brother ... mostly to just let the words flow out of my fingertips and see how they presented themselves. But my brother's opinion truly matters to me. So I was delighted to find his reply, "If this was you a year or two ago ... You'd consider this as a sign it was time to move on. But this isn't last year. This is after a year of you learning who you are and what makes you happy ..."

If I was to make a rash change at this point, it would be about money and little else. My sense of security would be shattered. At the end of the six month position, I would be back to where this all began. Perhaps with a regained sense of security. Perhaps ... not. Part of me would like to redeem myself in my own eyes. Part of me wants to know if I could survive in the 'real world' ...

But the biggest part of me? Knows that I am exactly where I am meant to be. And as my brother threw my own words of advice back into my own court "If money can fix the problem, maybe the problem really isn't that bad".

I am committed. I will thrive in this new world that I have created for myself. I just needed a little nudge to remind myself that I am in this for all of the right reasons. I am here to stay.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Burying My Head in the Snow

I hibernated yesterday.

I slept in. Then I got up and found the couch. I dozed intermittently throughout the morning and early afternoon.

I didn't open the blinds until the afternoon. It was snowing lightly outside. Kinda pretty in fact. Though my son was ever-watchful of the amount of snow that was amassing on the ground, I kept my eyes upward. Snow is very pretty if you don't have to deal with what falls on the streets and sidewalks.

I got up this morning and eventually remembered to look outside. This is the view from outside our front door:


I am so very, very glad that I work from home!

Even our snowmen look a little snowed in ...

Be careful out there. Be grateful if you don't have to venture out and are able to just sit back and enjoy the view ...

Welcome to December!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Unexpected Pitfalls of Delivering Flyers

I have been delivering flyers for over three months now.

I started when the weather was fine and the daylight hours lasted past supper time. I watched the days get shorter. I almost appreciated when it cooled off a little. I expected the cold, the snow, the ice and the wind.

It is a little bit of an inconvenience to have to squeeze in delivering the flyers before &/or after my daycare responsibilities. I prefer morning deliveries, but I can't count on the flyers being dropped off on time. So it is a little bit frustrating when a parent picks up their child late and I'm finished my deliveries fifteen minutes before the 8:00 p.m. deadline.

I expected as much. I have done this before and I know it isn't a perfect world. I knew there would be sacrifices along the way.

What I didn't expect?!? Sore thumbs.

I feel like I've pulled muscles in both of my thumbs. If I had a chronic 'texting' habit, I would swear that was the cause. But I don't. The only thing that I am doing differently ... is delivering papers.

I hold the paper that I am going to deliver in my left hand. I retrieve the papers that I will need with my right hand. It is pretty simple muscle movement. It doesn't hurt while I'm out delivering papers. It is the shooting pains that come out of nowhere when I go to pick up something (often a child) after the fact.

I have thought of the possibilities of spraining an ankle or breaking a bone as I weathered the icy days. But never in a million years did I think my flyer delivery career could be cut short due to sore thumbs.

Weird.

I don't like what is happening to my body. I am too young to be moving around like someone forty years my senior. My ankles don't work too well when I hop out of bed in the morning. I can't bend over to put on my socks right away. I can't move from sitting to standing like a spring chicken. I can't go from standing straight, to bending. And my thumbs get sore from delivering papers!!

Of all the preconceived ideas that I had about what this body of mine is capable of ... and the limitations that the years will bring ... never once did I think that it could be sore thumbs that do me in.

Do you think perhaps that I'm just a little bit out of shape?!?!??

Friday, November 30, 2012

Don't Worry ... Be Happy

It was a hit song in the late 1980's. The message is so simple. But the follow through is hard.

Don't worry.

I have managed to turn off my worry button for much of what is out of my control. There are so many wait and see scenarios that a person must endure in life. You simply cannot foresee or prevent everything that life throws your way. So it is logically a good idea to hand over the big stuff to 'the powers that be' ... if you can. "What will be ... will be", as Doris Day would sing.

It is easier to divvy up the problems worth worrying over, when you sit down and think about what you can do to prevent a situation from running amok. If I take 'that which I have control over' and either deal with it or else choose not to do anything ... I feel a little more powerful.

Yesterday morning, I woke up with a handful of worries on my mind. I thought there were three concerns on my mind. This morning, I can only remember two. See how wasteful it can be to worry?? We often forget what yesterday's troubles were ...

I made a conscious decision to 'do what was within my power'. I wasn't met with a lot of success. In fact, a door was quite literally closed in my face. But to say and do nothing? It makes mountains out of molehills. It is better to have spoken and failed than to have never spoken at all ...

My other concern is of a financial nature. I sat down and studied where I am' On the "You are here" map of life ... I think I am on a lifeboat out at sea. I'm not drowning. But if I spring a leak in my raft right now, it won't be good.

Every single time, I take responsibility for my financial actions and take the reins to steer myself towards a distant shore ... things have a way of working themselves out. Yesterday I drew the map of 'where I am'. Today I need to find a route to get to where I need to be. Once I get my feet firmly planted on solid ground, I will look ahead to where I want to go. In fact ... I think I will include that destination in my plan.

It is vital to look towards the horizon. Look where you want to go and 'steer into the skid'.

I don't expect a quick and simple resolution. I have hope. But I need to regain my footing so that I can let go of the worry.

When the worry dissipates ... the happy falls lightly on your shoulder.

Be happy.

I am happy underneath the worry. I can feel an inner contentment knowing that I am where I am meant to be right now. I just have to keep on swimming towards the shore. Me and seasickness don't see eye to eye.

Don't worry ... be happy. Easier said than done. Just take a little piece of your worries and try to whittle away at them.

One small step in a forward direction will take you one step closer to your destination.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happiness is in the Moment You Are In

Life is sending me little messages everywhere I look.

An inspirational email that spoke of the topic of happiness. And if you cannot be happy in the moment you are in, you will not find it when you stumble across a financial windfall ... or when you retire ... or when you go on a vacation. Happiness is now. Within you. Every moment. It is not what happens to you ... it is how you choose to react to it.

Another message that was short and sweet. It said to "Stop Worrying". "Yes ... 'you'!" It was as if someone read my mind at that very moment. I am letting everything pile up. I am worrying. I know worrying is a waste of energy. But I'm doing it anyway. It is time to do what is within my power to do. And to stop worrying. Now!

I found myself wallowing in the negativity of the moment yesterday. It was a half hour after lunch. Lunch, clean-up and 'after lunch digestion' takes a lot of time and energy. More so, when you have a two year old in the mid-phases of toilet training. I read the signs and knew he 'had to go'. He didn't. After some time we gave up on that moment. Then minutes later ... he 'went'. And it wasn't where he was supposed 'to go'. Aaaack!

I plunked myself down in the middle of the living room floor and started picking up a few toys before I put the kids down for their naps. I was quite likely pouting. I was not exuding an aura of happiness.

Then my little one-year-old sat down beside me and then twisted her body so that she was face to face with me and said, "Hi!" This little girl lights up my world. Her heart felt, eye-to-eye "Hi!" changed the way I saw the world at that moment. Then? She leaned in and gave me one of her famous bear hugs. Then another. And another.

There is nothing like surrounding yourself with one and two year olds to remind you that happiness is in the moment that you are in. And the magic of a hug.

Yes ... I am where I am meant to be right now. I need not worry about life's minor inconveniences. They all work out in the end. The big stuff is in making the little stuff matter.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Space to Call My Own

Quiet time in the morning. It has been the way the I have started my days for a very, very, very long time.

I believe the need for the solitude started when I previously ran my daycare. When you babysit, your days are noisy and busy. Nap time was my saving grace ... but I shared that time with my older kids who watched a movie while the little ones slept. The only time that I was completely on my own was the mornings. 

The quiet became what I needed to start the day. To be nothing to no one for the first hour or two of the day. It is something I need.

I have utilized that quiet time to deliver papers ... to exercise ... to read ... and to write. It is simply time that I give myself to do whatever it is that I want to do. 

Life in the morning has been changed up a notch around here. 

My Second Son and His Girlfriend have taken on a paper route. They are out of the house before 5:30 each morning. The first two days, I believe that I may have quite literally danced with joy. No more tip toeing around the house for fear of disturbing my downstairs tenants. No matter how quiet I tried to be ... it was never enough. Now, I could just be me and it would be good enough.

Then came the shifting of the morning traditions. When the paper route is finished they have developed a delightful routine of sitting down and having breakfast together. That is wonderful. For them. 

For me? It has been a transition. We like different lights on. I adapted to the semi-darkness. They turn on the radio. That's okay. It drowns out their conversation and gives them a modicum of privacy.

I still isolate myself to the world of my second cup of coffee and the computer (ten steps away) in the living room. It was okay.

Add my Youngest Son to this equation. He likes to wake up early and sets his alarm for 6:00 each morning. His teenage hormones must be kicking in, because exhaustion often overrules his desire to enjoy a few hours to himself before he heads off to school. But when he does wake up with his alarm, he enjoys some computer time as well.

Thus ... this morning, my quiet time was severely infringed upon. The kitchen was taken. I was bumped off the computer. I grabbed my Netbook and cup of coffee and headed towards the opposite end of the house. I found myself a spot in the toyroom.

I like it here. I really like it!!!

I am in the room above the laundry room. I have no downstairs 'neighbors' here. The room is in the furthest corner from all of the activity in the hub of the house. It is rather peaceful. The room has a door. I have the option of closing out the world.

Hmmmm .... I think I'm onto something here. I must find a way to turn this room into my private oasis. A place where I can find some solitude without disrupting what works for the rest of the household.

I didn't realize how much My Son & His Girlfriend were sacrificing until they started  cutting corners with their spending and started spending much more time at home. I am quite certain that they were feeling cramped within their 'space' and often simply left the house to find their privacy. 

Yes ... our house is full. Three adults, one teen, two dogs, a cat and a Daycare Family of three. Is it any wonder that each of us is flexing our elbow room and trying to find a way to make all of this work?

I think that I stumbled across my answer. I am quite comfy sitting here on the futon with our cat at my side. I think he likes this quiet little space as well.



I have become quite addicted to the Home & Garden Network and the wide variety of home renovation shows. It never ceases to amaze me how each and every new home owner is looking for an 'open concept' living space. That would drive me around the bend. Have these people not enjoyed the benefits of finding a cozy little nook to call their own?

Give me an old house with nooks and crannies any day! I need a little space to call my own. I think that most of us do ... don't we?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Life is Fair ... Isn't It?

"What goes around comes around."
"It all works out in the end."
"Good things happen to good people."
"You get what you give."
And the list goes on ...

I have raised my children with these mantras. Life is not always fair ... but it usually works out in the end. It is only by looking back, that we understand that we had to go through life as we lived it, to get to the place we are today.

I still believe that. To an extent.

Health issues, unexpected loss and accidents? Who understands why these things happen? If you look hard enough, you can find some good that has come out of a bad situation. You may have to dig deep. But you can usually find a few morsels of goodness that come from unthinkable situations.

But day to day, week to week, year to year ... I still believe that if you live your life 'doing unto others ...', you usually find behaviours reciprocated. Even if you don't, you know that you have treated another person and situation the way that you would like to be treated. It's still good.

It is in those little setbacks that one questions all of the 'wisdom' that I have tried to live, breathe and impart on my children.

My Second Son and His Girlfriend have taken on extra jobs, have pursued any income earning opportunities that they can, they have sold off luxury items and taken on overtime at work. They have cut out extra spending, found ways to economize with their groceries and carpooled to work. You name it, they have done it ever since they bought a house to be moved to their farm in the spring.

That is why it was so disheartening to see them victimized by a random act of vandalism yesterday. My Son's truck was sitting right outside the living room window. I was home all day. There is a constant rotation of people coming and going around our home. Yet someone broke the window on My Son's truck. In broad daylight. On a busy street. With people 'everywhere'. 

They took nothing (except perhaps some house keys which no longer work since we changed all of our locks). They simply broke a window and went in and messed things up in his truck. Thankfully they didn't destroy the interior just for the sake of destroying it. They 'just' messed it up.

A few minutes out of their day destroyed My Son and His Girlfriend's belief that taking small, but steady steps towards their goal would be rewarded.

It will cost more than they made at their second job this month to replace the window. Every penny that they 'saved' by carpooling has been wasted. If My Son had driven his truck to work, it wouldn't have been sitting in the driveway to be a sitting duck for this random act of recklessness.

I struggle to find the lesson here.

One will never, ever know what could have happened if My Son had driven to work yesterday. Roads were slippery yesterday morning. One never knows the accident that may have been averted by him not being at a particular spot at the wrong time.

As a parent, I just want to make it better. As a co-struggler in life's (seemingly) unjust lessons, I know that this isn't the first ... nor will it be the last time that bad things happen to good people.

You can do everything right ... but still have the wrong things happen. Life isn't always fair. Sometimes? It just plain sucks. But we have to keep taking one forward step at a time and push ourselves through even when it makes you feel like giving up.

Yesterday .... a doctor could have handed over a diagnosis that was unfair, unthinkable and something that came completely out of left field. We could have been dealt a blow that money couldn't fix.

In the grand scheme of things ... he is still very lucky. I will fall back on one of the mottos that I still believe with every fibre of my being. If our problems are something that money can solve ... we are (still) very, very fortunate.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reactivating My Ambition

My son and I went to see "Here Comes the Boom" yesterday afternoon. I had recently seen the review but my faulty memory had me describing it as a movie 'about a teacher that tries to raise money for his school by doing some kind of wrestling or boxing or something' ... and its star was an actor who was 'a comedian that was in some sitcom' (yes, I should definitely go for a job in writing one sentence movie summaries - I know). The motivating factor to go and see the movie was upon a friend's review "Everyone in our family enjoyed it!" So ... we went.

I don't like to pump up a movie so much that anyone seeing it after hearing my recommendation would have their sights set too high and be disappointed. But my friend's review would be the best way to describe the movie.

I expected the movie to be light hearted and worth a laugh or two. I was not disappointed. What I didn't expect was the sparkle that returned to this teacher's eyes when he became passionate about his goals and how that bubbled over into his entire life.

He gave his biology class a lesson in how one inactive cell affected all of the cells around it and they also became inactive. And how the opposite is true - when one cell becomes active, its energy is contagious and rubs off on all of the cells around it. Like when you cut yourself and how your body works to heal itself. I have completely misquoted this lesson, but you get the idea.

Immediately I transposed my own life into that inactive cell theory. The more inactive I become, the less I want to do. My ambition, my goals and desires and energy are all sapped by my state of inertia. I cannot forget the way that I used to feel when I was fueled by passion. Nothing felt impossible. I reached for the stars ... and I became more of who I was because I believed in my ability of making dreams come true.

This energy oozed all over my life. I beamed with happiness. Inside and out. When I stumble across pictures of myself taken throughout this time of my life, I hardly recognize that girl. The girl that I see in the mirror and in the pictures these days is haggard, old, drawn and worn out.

The passion. The drive. The energy. Where did it go?

I have let a few of life's lessons knock me down. I've picked myself up. But I'm crawling. I'm staying close to the ground so that I don't have as far to fall.

This weekend was a good beginning in reactivating my ambition. I did everything that I set out to do on Saturday. I treated myself to some fun and then came home and 'decked the halls' on Sunday. I can feel something sparking inside of me. I need to light the fire inside and reactivate my passion for life.

One step at a time. I think that I will start by writing some Christmas cards. 'Tis the season of reaching out and touching those that touch my world. One card at a time. I hope to make a small difference this Christmas season. To be followed by a New Year where I dust off my goals and make things happen in my world again.

It is time.

If the Grinch Had a Cat ...

... I think he would look like this:


André  ~ our very own Santa Cat

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ho! Ho!! Ho!!!

My Youngest and I went to see a movie this afternoon ("Here Comes the Boom" ~ a most excellent movie for all ages ~ it made my day!) and we came home to find my Second Son baking these:


Christmas Day is exactly one month away. It crossed my mind this morning, that I should bring out the lights today and at least light up the house in a Christmas sort of way. The lights at Christmas time are my favorite part of the decorations.

They say one's true character is shown by the way one handles tangled Christmas lights. How about plugging in said lights, only to find out that they don't work?

There are many, many years when that would have pushed me over the edge. I would have thrown the lights in the garbage with a gusto, closed up the boxes and stomped off.

But the sight of my son's baking and the aromas coming from the kitchen made the difference. I perservered and eventually I came up with this:


It only made sense to balance out the room with some lights in the opposite corner ... so a little while later, that other corner looked like this:


You will note that our two-foot tree nearly touches the ceiling. My young daycare family was most definitely in my mind as I put anything glittery and pretty out on display. Certainly this will keep curious hands away from temptation. It looked even better when it got dark outside:


I really had no intention of going any further but I took the China cabinet apart one shelf at a time ... and little by little, bit by bit ... it ended up looking like this:


Then I turned on my angels as they sit in their place of honor on the computer desk. May they watch over my shoulder and help me focus on the beauty of the season ...


One month until Christmas ... may you find a way to make your season bright.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ahhh ... The Silence

Life has been busy lately. It has been a good kind of busy because I feel my inner happy present once again. It came when I wasn't looking. And it has remained.

The evolution of my state of mind from the Personal Day that I took for myself until today has been a gradual one.

A day of solitude grounded me. It helped me appreciate the world we have created within our home while I sequestered myself to a quiet corner of that world for a day.

The return of life-as-I-know-it the next morning helped me see just how much my Daycare Family is starting to become something vital and important to me. When I ran my daycare before, My Youngest was part of that family. I loved him. Though I made every effort not to treat him any different than anyone else that I cared for ... the difference was in the way that I felt about him. With my current little daycare-family-of-three, I care about each of them equally. I enjoy those moments of cuteness that arise out of nowhere when you are physically and mentally present in your day. This is truly where I am meant to be right now.

My weekend vacation at my mom's was perfect. I enjoy my own company as I find opportunities to distance myself from my Real Life. The drive and the overnight stay at the hotel enroute to my destination gave me the gift of time to myself. I arrived on Mom's doorstep well rested, content and fulfilled. So I had something to give of myself throughout our visit. It wasn't a lot. But it has happened far too often, that I come on 'empty'. There is a difference. It was a weekend with my mom that was light, easy and breezy. I am so glad that I went.

Upon my return home, I seemed to stumble across the energy it took to take care of a few need-to-do matters around the house. Nothing drags me down like a to-do-list that isn't getting done. I have done all that I can (afford to) do for now. Unfortunately the list never ends as I found a small puddle of antifreeze under my idling car last night. Sigh ... hopefully it is an easy (and cheap) fix. The list never ends. And that is okay. It means I have small goals to strive towards as I keep my eye on the big picture and look for bigger goals in the horizon.

I woke up to a quiet home this morning. Everyone is in their own space and it has presented the opportunity for me to enjoy my quiet little space here at the computer. My fingers can wander where ever they want to go and I can sit back and enjoy the moment before I take on a few need-to-do chores that I must fit into the day.

I can write. I can blog, I can email, I could start writing Christmas cards ...

I can begin to think of creative ways to give. This Christmas is going to be a from-the-heart kind of year. Expenses have been adding up to more than the income. The shortfall means I must utilize what ever I can find 'within' ... the quietness around me helps me find a creative outlet for this season of giving.

I could lose myself in a book. I have amassed a small collection of reading material but rarely find the energy it takes to open a book. I can start reading a book and simply forget to continue reading it. I miss reading.

Quiet and solitude. They are a gift when your life is full. Quiet and solitude. Could be my undoing, if this was the life that I woke up to each morning. The trick is in how one capitalizes on the quiet times. Quietness in my physical world means that I can pursue the 'noise' in my mind.

I love the silence ... but only when it is balanced by a life filled with work, goals, friendship, family and fun. I can tell when life is out of balance. I can often find the 'reset' button when I find a quiet little corner to recoup, reboot and restart.

Ahhh ... the silence. Life is good!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tracks in the Snow

I was somewhat taken aback at a complaint that I noticed on my flyer route last week. The complaint was "Carrier is walking on the lawn". I know for a fact that I never walk on the lawns (except on the few occasions where I saw that the resident had actually shovelled a path in the snow), then I realized that it was the day that I had someone deliver the papers for me.

I investigated the complaint (quite certain that both parties that got the job done for me in my absence knew the rules of 'Do not walk on the lawn') and upon discussion we figured out that the paper must have been delivered before the walks were shovelled (our city had received 10 - 15 cm of snow that weekend). Because my substitutes did not regularly deliver papers, they didn't know where the sidewalks were located. So we guess that what probably happened is that they walked straight towards the city sidewalk, guessing that would be where the sidewalk was located.

Mystery solved, we just went about our lives and forgot about the trivial little complaint.

The next time I delivered flyers, I specifically took note of the snow at the address the complaint came from. One would assume that if this person took the time to complain about someone walking through their snow on a day when a person couldn't tell the difference between the sidewalk and the grass, they must have a pristine yard where no one walks in the snow. Wrong.

This snow in this particular yard was completely full of footprints. Comparable to the days when my daycare was full to capacity and I had kids playing and walking through the front yard on a regular basis. Why would a person who sees such high traffic in their yard take the time to complain about something so trivial???

Yes - newspaper and flyer carriers have a small manual that reminds their employees of these small courtesies that are expected. We knew the rules. I follow the rules. To the letter. I can see the person complaining if this was a habitual matter. But it was an isolated incident. On a very snowy day ... where one simply couldn't see the sidewalk. There was an explanation.

It just makes me wonder about the stress that this person must accumulate in a day when they take the time to complain about such a trivial matter. Stress levels are far too high these days. Why sweat the small stuff??

I have given this petty complaint more energy than it deserves. It doesn't matter. It's small stuff. I am simply sad for the person that made this into 'big stuff' in their world.

I strive to live a life where the tracks in the snow are inconsequential. They mean that someone brought something and delivered it my home. Or came for a visit. Or took time to play in my yard. There would be nothing more lonely to me than to have a home where no one came to call and left 'footprints' of their presence in my life.


"Don't sweat the small stuff...and it's all small stuff.” ~ Richard Carlson