Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Uncle

I don't think that he realizes the impact that he makes on the people he meets in a day ...

He looks you in the eye when you speak. He responds to your emotions when he writes. He encourages and supports. He treats everything that lives with kindness and respect.

I have never heard him say an unkind word about another person. He may acknowledge 'the way things were' and speak of them ... but it is done with such kindness and tact, that his words would not harm those of whom he speaks.

He has a wealth of knowledge. He is educated and was an educator for most of his career ... yet when he speaks to you, you feel as though you are his equal (or better).

He downplays all that he has accomplished with his life. I feel that I only know one small piece of him. If he makes me feel the way that I do each and every time we touch base ... I must multiply that by the thousands of other lives that he has touched to even come close to knowing the difference he has made in this world.

He is my dad's brother. My uncle. He fulfills the part of me that longs to hear what Dad may have thought at pivotal times in my life.

He is one of my greatest gifts. He believes that I am better than I am ... so that is who I strive to be.

"Thank you, Harold! You mean the world to me."

Monday, January 30, 2012

In Search of the Goldilocks Zone

I'm yearning for that 'juuuust right' feeling in my days. A balance between work and leisure. I don't know quite how to achieve that when I never know what to expect of a day.

January has not been a profitable month as a substitute. I have been warned that February could be much the same. I have been given some hope that job postings start coming up from March to June, so there could be a time in my future when I get to work at the same school for months on end. That would be heavenly.

So, I should be making the most of my days at home. If I am not working outside of my home, I should be working within the confines of my home.

The knowledge that I must respect my financial limitations is at the forefront of my mind. But it doesn't cost a penny to clean; to write; exercise; or take the dog for a walk. So why haven't I leaped at the opportunity that all of this time off has afforded me??  I have no excuse.

As I write, I am quite literally sitting on the edge of my seat. The phone could ring at any moment and change the outcome of my day. I am not in control of that. Today.

What I am in control of, is what I do with the hours between 8:00 and 4:00 if I am not called to work. I should earmark those hours as work hours, whether I am home or not. Eight hours of productivity. In some fashion. Any fashion! I should have something to show for my day whether or not it is driven by financial compensation.

Today. One day. What can I do to make the most of the hours that lie before me? How can I attain the balance that I crave to put myself back in the 'Goldilocks Zone'?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Horoscope for the Week

Once again, I found it interesting just how fitting my horoscope-for-the week is:

"The time is right to increase your income and broaden your horizons. You'll need to expand your reach in order to bring new opportunities into your realm. It is easiest to get to know people through work or school, though clubs, sports and online communities are also a viable option for social fun."

There is an interesting timeline unfolding today. I will elaborate as news progresses ...

Pressing On!

The next time I come up with a 'great idea' ... I think I will keep it to myself!!

Announcing my intent to the world around me has made me accountable. If I had been quiet, I could have slipped the whole thing back into a closet, ignored it and just carried on with life-as-I-knew-it.

But, no. I felt obligated to follow through and push a little further out of my comfort zone. I was already uncomfortable. What harm is there in adding just a little more angst?

Squeamish as I may be about this discomfort, I know that it is a good thing. When things come easily, there is not the same appreciation. If you give up before you give it your all, you will never know what could have happened if you just kept persevering.

If you don't announce your intent to those around you, you are not accountable.

As Walt Disney said, "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."

Thoughtful pause ... as I think of the 'Disney World' in my mind and my habitual references to the Disney cartoon characters that I relate and refer to, in my writing:
It is as if Walt is whispering in my ear. And I think he is saying, "If you can dream it, you can do it ..."

So ... I shall press on. I will keep dreaming, but work hard enough at 'real life' to keep my feet on the ground and in the direction that I need to go. Dreams can make wishes come true ...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Holding Pattern

It feels like life has been put on 'pause' for the moment. There are several doors ajar. I have stepped through several. I have peeked into a few. I have walked through some and stopped dead in my tracks. I have stopped moving forward.

What is wrong with me??

I am fearful. I am afraid of failure. I am afraid of success. I am becoming afraid to try. I am afraid of not living up to my own expectations.

I am making excuses. I hear the thoughts in my head and I am trying to justify why I am sitting around wasting my days. I hear what I am saying out loud and I hear excuses.

This state of inertia is paralyzing. I have the ability to move. Yet ... here I sit.

Every single time I start to feel powerless over a situation, I come to this same place. When I examine what I do have control over and start to make forward moves in some direction, that the feelings of powerlessness start to dissipate.

It is time. Time to sit down and list all that is plaguing my thoughts. Time to conquer that which can be conquered. Let go of what cannot be done. Give an all out effort to that which I am passionate about. And let the rest all fall into place.

It all boils down to the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.


Friday, January 27, 2012

City Streets

One of the advantages of working in numerous schools throughout the city is I have driven to places that I have never been before.

I'm a creature of habit. As a rule, I take the same route to the same destination time and time again. I don't have an adventuresome spirit when it comes from getting from Point A to Point B.

Add to that, the fact that my destinations don't vary a lot ... and you can imagine how few city streets I have driven down over the course of the 24 years we have lived here. It's embarrassing.

Lately, I have been called to work at schools across the city. My aunt and uncle live in that neck of the woods and I had vague memories of their neighborhood from when I was a child. These memories snap, crackle and pop to life when I drive down those roads.

I was a naive country girl, so those city-memories stood out from the rest. Those city streets that hold some memories from my childhood ...

One time, we took a city bus and we went down town to see a movie. Just us kids! Granted, there were a bunch of us and my older cousin was with us ... but I still couldn't believe that we were given such independence. I'd never ridden a city bus before that day. I doubt that I'd ever been further than that corner candy store of theirs, without a parent at my side.

We walked to the outdoor swimming pool in their neighborhood. Once again ... there was a big group of us. I believe I was a little older by this time. It's just another one of those memories that stands out because it was so out of the norm for me.

But one thing that we must have done with some sort of regularity (when we came to visit our big-city cousins), was walk to their corner store and buy a treat. I can picture Dad digging through his pocket to hand out some of his change ...

I can picture those summer days ... walking past their neighbors. Their neighbors called them by name and their was a sense of security as we meandered down the quiet street that took us to the store.

I remember the stores on that corner. I can picture us walking home with those much anticipated treats in our hands. Those hazy, crazy days of summer. Light hearted childhood memories ...

I worked at a school this week where I drove past those corner stores that hold a fragment of my childhood within them.

As I drove to work ... then home again ... and was called back to work at that same school the next day and drove past that corner two more times, I wistfully thought to myself 'Who would have guessed that I would be driving past this corner that held such light and easy memories from my childhood over 40 years later?'

The idea of me moving to this particular city in my adulthood was not in the cards for me. Originally, we lived on a farm an hour or so southeast of this city. We moved in a huge metropolis five hours to the west of here when I was nine years old. I thought that I had packed my bags and moved out of this province permanently.

So I get a happy little thrill when I drive on these streets filled with carefree memories of a childhood well spent. Just one more way in which I feel that I have come home again.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Tag On

"... & Colleen"

My name has been added onto the end of a note &/or gift twice, within a five day span.

I tagged along with a friend on a feel-good mission. It was her idea. She amassed a gift bag, a gift basket and thoughtful words in the enclosed cards. She asked if I would mind going along with her to drop them off and stop by to visit the lucky recipients. Of course I said 'yes' ... and because of that one-word answer, she added my name onto the gifts that were her idea, her generosity and her words. My part of that gift? I drove.

Another friend came up with the perfect gift idea for the above mentioned friend. I complimented her on her perfect and most thoughtful choice. She asked me if I would like to pitch in towards the cost. Of course I said 'yes' ... and because of that one-word response, she added my name onto the gift tag (that was her idea and personally chosen by her as well). My part? A little bit of cash.

I have been out for supper with the above mentioned friends twice in this same five-day period.

Friend number one has had to make more decisions than any daughter ever hopes to make for their parents. She had one small request for me. "You can choose the restaurant ..." She was tired of thinking. Of making decisions.

I didn't really know where we were headed when we left. But I thought we'd stumble across the perfect spot in our travels. Well, our travels took us by a McDonald's, (what felt like) a bazillion take-out spots (my friend's only request was that we sit down and have someone take our order and serve us) and back by the same McDonald's. Only to decide to go to the restaurant that she suggested in the first place (when I thought I was about to take a wrong turn).

Five days later, we were taking this same friend out for her Birthday Supper. Once again. She just asked one small favor. "You guys choose ..."

Well? Friend #2 had a most excellent suggestion. But it is a restaurant that has a reputation of being 'loud' which makes it hard to visit. So I suggested an alternate. It was Friend #1 that suggested the restaurant that we finally ended up going to (after she heard that the prices at the restaurant that I suggested had gone through the roof after their latest renovations).

Once again, my friend who simply asked for nothing more than 'not having to make a choice' helped us to decide on the perfect dining spot. Once again ... all I did was tag along.

Where has my ability to act on my own thoughts gone?

I admit that my role of last-minute calls to work; not knowing what the next day will bring; working at new schools and with new people five days out of seven is taking its toll (as I wrote that sentence, the phone rang and announced the fate of my day ... I get to go to one of my favorite schools this afternoon!).

I know that I have nothing to complain about. That which drains my energy these days, is something that I have some control over. I could search for and find another job which would provide me with stability of income and knowing what the next day could bring. This is a pretty minor inconvenience in the whole scheme of things. I know that.

In the mean time I just hope that people don't mind if I tag along for the ride for a while. My energy is still here. I am drawing on it for other purposes at the moment.

I will be back. I am still here. I'm just "... & Colleen" on the days when someone graciously takes over the thinking part of a decision for me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Mile in Their Shoes

Of all of the curve balls that life has thrown my way ... one ball that has never come close to hitting me is unresolved-health-issues. Not for me. Not for my children. Though the years before dad died were traumatic, Mom took care of all of the decisions. She was a role model for strength and coping abilities. And my life went on, much the same as it always had ...

I have friends which are facing 'all of the above'.

I am lost. I don't know how to help. What to say. What to do. I don't have life experience to draw on and I am floundering.

What do you say, when there are no answers? You listen.

I talked. I talked when I should have listened.

I am on the outside, looking in. I talk with my friends the way that I have always talked. I empathize. I try to walk a mile in their shoes. But their shoes don't fit me and I take them off and walk barefoot through that-which-I-don't-understand.

I guess by walking barefoot, I am walking forward with my senses on full alert. I have no shoes to wear until I find my own.

In the mean time, my friends ... I am learning as I go. I will be all I can. I apologize when that is not enough.

I will stand beside you and be your friend.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

If You Are What You Eat...

Yesterday was not a good food day for me. After a week of eating turkey leftovers; turkey buns; turkey soup and spaghetti & meat sauce to put an end to the cycle of turkey ... yesterday was the day I fell off of the turkey wagon with a crash.

I didn't intend on it going that way. It was a combination of things-gone-wrong.

First of all, the last thing you want to see when you are hungry for lunch and you don't have a firm idea of what you want to eat ... is two, chocolate-covered donuts. I saw them. I ate them. And I had a cup of coffee. That was lunch.

Secondly, when Plan A doesn't work out (I didn't work yesterday afternoon; though I did get to work the morning) nor Plan B (I tried phoning a friend and had hoped that I would at least be able to talk with her on the phone) ... one should have a Plan C to fall back on.

Plan C, for me ended up being a bag of no-name Chili & Dill potato chips which I found on sale when I picked up a few groceries on Sunday.

I had never tried this particular flavor before, but when I was shopping on an empty stomach on Sunday (all that I had eaten all day was a cereal bar and I was buying groceries at 5:00 p.m.) I thought that it sounded like they would have an interesting kick to them.

Interesting is a good word to describe them. Unsure of what I thought of these chips (though my first impression was "ick!"), I kept sampling them until I had eaten half of the bag. I ceremoniously closed the bag and hid it back in the closet and thought they were good chips to have in the house because I would  not be tempted to eat them.

Turns out I was wrong. A few hours later, all that my taste buds could think of was the fact that I believe that I had acquired a taste for these odd chips. I turned on the TV and nibbled until the bag was 99% gone. I could not pack away the last of those chips. What willpower!

Since I had eaten a (healthy) Fibre One cereal bar at some point in between my two goes at the chip-bag, most of my 'food groups' were satisfied. Oddly enough, I was not hungry for supper.

They say that something in turkey makes you tired. I would also like to add my scientific opinion that a diet of donuts, chips & Fibre One exhausts a person (or could it be the fact that my brain was so worn out from the weekend, that I could no urge myself to do anything productive?).

So I napped on the couch until bedtime (though I did wake up for one more Fibre One snack).

At 10:00 p.m., my stomach finally talked to my brain and reminded it that it had not been fed anything nutritious for the entirety of the day (though it did get its regular breakfast smoothie, so I don't know what it was complaining about). I had visions of grilled cheese sandwiches wafting through my mind as my head hit the pillow.

I woke up this morning and made a promise not to repeat yesterday's mistakes. It helps that there are no donuts sitting on the counter taunting me. I believe that I even have the power to throw the chili-dill chip left-overs away.

If I am what I ate yesterday, I am nothing more than a pile of junk. But then again, if those Fibre One bars are everything they say they are maybe I'm not so bad off, after all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Who I am is Who I Wanna Be

I woke up with the words 'I'm a Survivor' at the tip of my consciousness.

Going back through my journals from a lifetime ago, there were few times that I wrote when I was entirely down and out.

I wrote my way through a lot of transitions. There were a few entries that I wrote when I was in a desperate place. But it never failed. I talked my way through it as I wrote. By the end of the entry, I had written out what was wrong; how I felt; diffused the emotions; and started looking to how I would get through the moment.

My writing was sporadic in those days. I would come across my journal every now and again, and would write an update (I must have cleaned more regularly in those days because it seemed I stumbled across that scribbler at least once a year). But there were also a few incidents where I simply needed to write my way through.

In trying to find a way to sell myself as a writer in my cover letter, I drew examples from my personal life to illustrate the fact that I have a deep well to draw from. I tend to have a very 'pollyanna' way of looking at life which is not always realistic (and down right annoying at times, I'm sure). There is still a naivety in my ways and I am almost grateful for it. Life's blows haven't taken away my ability to believe in the best of people.

I believe that it is important to have the fight to rally back, no matter what life throws at you. I don't do well when I'm kicked when I am down. But it is still my instinct to fight.

My Great Career Change of 2011 has proven to be one of my biggest challenges in recent history. At my lowest, I knew that I had to stay where I was at (if they would keep me) because I could not have sold myself to another employer if my life depended on it (I exaggerate of course, but it felt that bad). The idea of brushing up my resumé just one more time brought me to my knees.

But this past weekend ... I did it! I overcame the fear of trying again and I did it with a gusto. It was harder than it should have been. But considering the place that I was at only three months ago, never did I believe that I would have the ability to revamp, reword and resell myself to not only another employer ... but a completely and totally different line of work. And, so soon.

No matter where things go from here, I made it over a hurdle this weekend. I struggled. Next time will be easier. But I overcame my fear of ever trying again. I did it! Because ... "I'm a Survivor"!

My roots are planted in the past
And though my life is changing fast
Who I am is who I want to be
Reba McEntire - "I'm a Survivor"

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Brother Said I Could ... So I am Trying

This idea has been stirring within me since October, 1994. It was fuelled once again throughout 1999 - 2000. I have been dabbling with various possibilities no matter what official job title I hold. People have encouraged me to take a step in this direction throughout the years since then. I took some forward steps in 2008 and continued down that same familiar path ever since. But now? I'm making a serious attempt to take myself where I have never gone before.

In a moment of clarity one weekend in October of 1994, I put together a very half hazard attempt at selling myself as a columnist for a Sunday paper that is distributed at no charge within our city and outlying areas. I wrote a passionate cover letter and enclosed several samples of 'articles' that weekend. I mailed them off and never heard another word about it.

Tabled but not forgotten, I have never let go of the dream to turn my writing into something more than it is.

I took a writing course throughout 1999 - 2000 and once again the feelings of 'I think I could do this!' wafted through my consciousness. Receiving feedback on my writing was good. It made me realize how far I had to go before I could consider pursuing my dream.

In 2004, I dabbled with writing that I shared with the world when I wrote a quarterly newsletter for my daycare families. Fueled by positive feedback from the parents of 'my kids', I compiled a Yearbook as part of a Christmas gift tradition for the last three years of my daycare career.

2008 was the year where I put myself out in a public forum. I started this blog. I wrote a family memory/history book about my mom's family. Learning as I went, I kept moving forward. I started a private blog for my daycare families and gave them a daily update of our 'Days at Daycare'. At the same time, I started my 'Infants to Independence' blog. A Friendship blog. A Family blog. I was becoming a blogaholic and loving every moment of it.

I approached the dance studio where I take my lessons with my ideas of starting up a dance blog and submitted a sample 'article' and a montage of video and photos from a recent showcase to illustrate my idea. It was an idea that took time to marinate, but eventually I was approached about going forward with some of my writing ideas.

I am slowly accumulating a small following on this blog. I receive feedback from various sources. I am encouraged from all angles. The small idea that had been planted in my mind was becoming tangible.

One (more) comment was all that I needed to push myself from the sidelines into the arena. Thanks, Bro!

On January 11th, these were my brother's words:

"I'm truly serious. I've said it before. You have all the skills and abilities to be a daily columnist. Just imagine...getting paid for your words. Start with your local paper, then go nationally, then globally. When the editor asks what makes you think you can do the job, just tell them 'My brother said I could.' "

I called our local paper to ask about the opportunity to write a column or blog. On January 17th, I sent an email to a small group of people that I thought followed my blog. On January 18th, I wrote a post about it.

Then ... I froze.

Fear paralyzed me. The words 'What have I done??" rambled repeatedly through my mind. Emails kept appearing in my Inbox encouraging me to go forth with my idea.

Fear of success came next. What if ... I succeeded? Was I up to the challenge? What would this bring to my life? When would I write my dad's family history book? What if I ran out of ideas? What if I froze under pressure?

Underneath all of this fear was a solid foundation that I am fully willing and capable of doing this. Of going public. Public!

Next came the overwhelming task of writing a resume and cover letter like I have never done before. All of my education and work experience from previous resumes needed to be reworked and looked at from a brand new angle. How in the world could I find the words that I needed to declare my passion for writing? If someone scanned over my resume in disinterest, how could I present myself in a way that they would 'see'me?

I went back into the archives of my hand written journals and rediscovered my roots. I found my passion written on the pages before me. This is not a spur of the moment decision. This is a goal that I have been aspiring towards for almost 20 years.

The idea that took root in 1994 has been establishing itself. Watered with encouragement from those around me. Gently fertilized with education in various forms. Reaching towards the sky since I started blogging in a public forum in 2008. I am ready to sell myself. And if at first I don't succeed, I will try, try again (and again!) ... "Because my brother said I could!"

Friday, January 20, 2012

February 12, 1998

I have been wading through my journals sporadically throught the day. Here is yet another treasure that I found. It was written the same night that I told my Middle Son (then 11 years old), that he was about to become a big brother:

... the best news of all was from my Second Son. I took him out for a special supper tonight and told him my news.

He was so surprised! He got teary eyed ... blushed ... was breathless ... and speechless. He told me he might need child therapy. He was wonderful! He is hoping for a girl. He is picking out names.

He heard a kid go "AAACK" in the restaurant and said, "I'll bet that kid's mother just told him she was going to have a baby!!"

He came home and tried to call his babysitter. He said, "I just can't keep this to myself!!" Then he wrote His Aunt & Cousin a card: "My mom is pregnant. I hope it's a girl. This will be fun. By the way, how are you?"

He is so tender with me. He snuggled up to me later and asked, "How's that baby?" He says I have to take it easy. He is worried about me going into the hospital and the pain and where he will stay.

What a boy. I told him that I was worried about telling his Older Brother (who was not living at home at the time). My Middle Son just looked seriously at me and said, "Don't tell him. He'll just come over one day. And look. And see ... another me!"

I tell you. My Second Son is a breath of fresh air. Pure tonic for me. I am so glad he knows. And tomorrow? I do believe ... that I will tell the rest of the world. I am so content.

Baby #3 ... I cannot wait for your arrival!

And four months, less a day later ... My Youngest was born.

One From the Archives (1994 or 1995)

I found this among my hand written archives this morning, as I attempt to pull out all of the stops and create a resume/cover letter worth consideration.

This piece was sandwiched between two other pieces that I wrote - one dated November, 1994; the next was dated February 26, 1995. My children were 16 and 7 years old at the time:

I stumbled onto a poem last week that says "to love is to risk not being loved in return". It stopped me in my tracks and made me really wonder when the last time I really risked my heart ...

I've found, in my wise 34 odd years, that the difference between love and hate are minuscule. You really can't hate someone, if you don't love them first.

As I ventured through the recesses of my mind, I relived the "I HATE (MY BROTHER)" years, when I scrawled out my frustrations of my brother, five years younger than myself, on the blackboard.

We went from those years, to an awkward stage where all of a sudden, I was 16 & 17; he was 11 & 12 ... and we didn't fight any more. When we stopped fighting, we didn't relate much any more either.

Then, came the years when Mom became the 'interpretor', telling both my brother and me how much we thought alike. That we should talk to each other, because we could help each other. And, as so often mothers are ... she was right.

We eventually became the best of pen pals. Both, being at home on paper, to reveal our truest selves and living in separate provinces, we got to know each other and became friends.

Then came my next love/hate relationship. My husband. We divorced, remarried, separated, reconciled again, separated again and finally divorced. Again. You name it ... we did it, over the course of those ten years. Never had any one unearthed those 'hate' feelings the way he did. Yet, neither  had anyone unearthed the love.

We loved as intensely as we hated. The turmoil of those years took its toll. Eventually, at our last parting ... it happened. I didn't hate him any more. Numbness took over. An acceptance that I couldn't change him, I couldn't fix all that ailed him. Whoever said that love conquers all was wrong! This relationship was destructive. Bringing two children down along with us, was the breaking point. Yes. Numb was good.

Then ... being the mother of a 16 year old has let those love/hate feelings resurface again. In its purest form, the love is undying. No matter what he does/says/is ... I will love him. Unconditionally. I think this is 'parent's love'. It doesn't mean that all is rosy though. Tempers can flare and for those instants, I feel the 'hate' of the act of what he has done or is saying. Forgiveness comes easy and is almost a given. But sometimes ... I need a heartfelt "I'm sorry".

This ol' heart of mine is tired of risking it all though. In retrospect, I can feel how I pulled back and wasn't willing to risk the hurt of totally loving someone again.

I thought I'd fallen in love with my head this last time. Not my heart. I guess that way is safe. But holding back not only protects you from the fall, but prevents you from feeling all of the good parts of being in love. When I played back the tapes of my last relationship in my mind, I could see how he risked his heart. I played it safe and didn't put my heart on the line. I needed a safety net of knowing that I could pull back at any time and not risk the devastation.

I think he was the winner in the end. I admire his ability to put his heart on the line. Once I saw it all clearer, I found the courage to call him, apologize and read him little parts of this poem about 'risk', to show him that his ability to care that much is an admirable quality to have.

The poem encompassed so much of what I'd let become 'me'. Afraid to try, in case I failed. Afraid to love. Afraid to reach out.

Hey! I'm a survivor and never want to appear needy. Hey! I was wrong.

I have had the good fortune of finding the best of friends. I have always been rather hesitant to actually lean on anyone though (Hey! I'm strong!!). I make these little attempts to reach out. Very subtly though, in case I'm turned down. Then I don't have to face that failure. I've found that a lot of my subtleness is just plain missed. Even my sisters say that sometimes they can't 'hear' what I am trying to say. Funny how Mom can hear it though. Must be a 'Mom' thing ...

So, attempting this writing is risking failure. Reestablishing a friendship with my previous fiance is risking his turning me away. Risking involvement. Reaching out and writing my thoughts for all the world to see is risking showing my true self.

But ... I know that I must at least try. Because "the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing".

Here is the quote that inspired those thoughts:

To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To hope is to risk pain.
To try is to risk failure,
But risk must be taken,
Because the greatest hazard in life
Is to risk nothing
~ Leo Buscaglia ~

And those ... are the meanderings of my mind from 17 years ago.

6:39 and All is Well

As I sit down to write this, it is 6:39 a.m.

The Automatic Dispatch System has not called me into work. Yet. 6:30 a.m. is the earliest that I can be called. I passed that moment in time. So far, I am not working today.

At 7:00, the people-part of the substitute dispatching system start coming in. The phone could still ring. And it has. Then it could ring again, to cancel that dispatch. It has done that too. Or they could call and change my location - before I arrive at the school I am told to go to ... or after. Been there. Done all of that.

I am mapping out the possibilities of this day.

I am one cup of coffee and a quick bath away from being ready to run out the door and go to work. But then again, if the phone doesn't ring I will probably stay in my comfy pajamas for the better part of the morning and have a third cup of coffee.

If the phone rings and dictates my day, I will go where I am told to go ... and do what has to be done. I am guaranteed to be finished my day (if I work) by 4:00. That is all that I know for sure.

If the phone doesn't ring ... I am going to pull out a cover letter that I worked on when I took a writing course. I am going to revise my resume. I am going to do this. I am going to venture forward into a world that I have envisioned for well over a decade. I am going to pursue the idea of writing a column or blog for our local paper.

What is my biggest fear? Success. What if writing became something more than it is for me right now?

Deadlines. Writing within defined parameters. Stepping beyond the comfort zone that I have created within this blog. Daring to write where I have never written before.

It is frightening. Because ... I think I can do this. I really do. And it scares the socks off of me.

This day is a work in progress. I have no idea what will unfold within the next half hour that will determine where I will be and what I will do within the hours of 8:00 and 4:00 today.

One thing that I know for sure. If I don't spend today at home, I will be here tomorrow. My alternate plan for today is going to happen. It is just a matter of ... when.

** Update ... it is now 8:39 a.m. and the phone never did ring. I could be home today after all. **

Thursday, January 19, 2012


If dreams are the subconscious mind, speaking to the consciousness ... boy!! Is my subconsciousness one busy place.

Crazy dream scenario: My dream-state-mind has always and forever intertwined the men in the two relationships that I have had in my lifetime. One man morphed into the other and back again. When I woke up, I never had any firm idea of 'who' I really dreamt about. This was always something of great concern to me. What was my subconsciousness really telling me?

Anyway, I had another 'one of those dreams' last night with one &/or the other of these men in my life.

In one scenario, we were at a restaurant making plans with another couple. Why do I think that this couple was the couple that we met at our dinner-table on our cruise? I have no idea how they found their way into my dream ... but they did (is it the cruise disaster near Italy that set off those memories?).

Fast forward and suddenly I am back in the condo I lived in during my marriage. Enter: my husband; his cousin; and his cousin's wife. They have ''plans'' that I want no part of. Plans in our bedroom which is a complete and total disaster area. Was I concerned about the ménage à trois that was unfolding? Heavens no! I already knew my husband was unfaithful (?? no ... I didn't ... not consciously anyway!), so what was the difference? I just knew I wanted no part of that. But I was very concerned about how messy the bedroom was! I was racing around trying to clean up a bit so I didn't leave a bad impression (could this have anything to do with the current state of the cleanliness of our home??).

Besides ... I was running late for work. It was 8:00 a.m. and I should have been there at 8:00 a.m.; I was spinning my wheels trying to get out of the house but it wasn't happening. Finally I made it to where the car should have been parked with a wagon-load full of stuff that I had to take with me, when I realized that the car was in the shop.

I needed a ride, but I didn't want to go back into the house with 'all that was going on' in there ... so I spun my wheels a little longer, trying to think of a solution. Call a cab? Or not? And why not??

Eventually, I made my way back into the house and my husband's cousin offered to drive me (his work there was done, I guess). But I didn't know where I was going. I knew that it was easy to get to and it was two main roads and a quick turn. But I didn't know which roads ... but we left anyway.

At this point, I realized that I didn't have a way to get home for lunch nor did I pack a lunch. I just uttered out loud that I would just work straight through my lunch hour. I would work from 9 - 3 and get my seven hours in without a break. No!!! That was only six hours!! I would have to work until 4:00.

Suddenly I was back to my bookkeeping job ... even though my dream-state job was at my cousin's house (???). And my biggest concern was the lack of lunch!

Needless to say, I was relieved when my alarm went off and pulled me back into my reality. It goes without saying that the first thing that I did when I got up, was make my lunch.

I rambled on about this nonsensical dream to my Middle Son and he just smirked and shook his head (there are truly some things that a son doesn't want to hear his mother say out loud).

I finally summed it all up by saying, "I think the dream is telling me that I have no idea where I am going ... but I'm going anyway!"

And that ... is where my mind wandered while it was supposed to be sleeping last night. Where have your dreams taken you lately???

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Peeking Through a New Window

I am testing the waters at the moment. I don't want to jump right in ... but I'm wading on the coast of something that I believe could be right for me.

Oh! How illusive that paragraph sounds ... I could just leave it at that and let the imagination wander. I could be talking about anything. The truth of the matter is, those are good words to keep on deck for the next dream I try to pursue.

For this particular moment, what I am considering is the possibility of attempting to publish my writing in a format which may eventually supplement my income.

This is a work in progress and I do not plan to leap before I look, research, survey and fine tune what it is that I believe I could 'sell'.

My Theme? I would take an incident, a phrase, a thought or a quote from my day-to-day living and write around that topic. Sometimes (hopefully) insightful and provocative. Other times light and easy.

I don't want to constrict my writing in a way that I could run out of topics. I would write in a conversational manner. I would attempt to write in a fashion that anyone reading, could insert the details of their own lives and relate.

What I would aim towards, would be a rapport between my readers and me. I would want those who take the time to read what I write, to feel like I am speaking to them.

The overall theme would be taking life and putting a positive spin on the negative. Encouragement at times, inspiration at others and when things get too hot and heavy ... something light and frivolous to release a little pressure.

Basically, what I write about here. Only reign it in a little in some areas; generalize it more in others and delete the clutter that sometimes works its way into my stories.

My questions to anyone reading this are:
  • What do you enjoy as a reader?
  • Which posts have spoken to you?
  • Which ones haven't?
I went back through the archives of this blog and posted a few of my personal favorites in a 'Favorites' tab (at the top of this page; right under the title "Life as I Know It"). Please feel free to add your comments to this post; or email me with your suggestions at: lifeasiknowit1960@gmail.com

I will add/delete/revise this list throughout the week(s) ahead, so if you wish ... please keep checking.
Thank you!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


My arms look like I've done battle as a street fighter. In reality, each of these scars have a story (albeit a rather boring little tale about the time I reached over a boiling pot and scalded myself ... or accidentally touched an oven rack ... or grazed an iron ... or [you get the idea]).

I forget about these scars as I go about my day-to-day life. People who know me, know what has happened to me. I laughingly say that these scars are evidence the I make the attempt to cook/bake &/or iron.

Other scars are not so visible.

The fat lips, the black eyes and the bruises from my marriage healed and became invisible to the eye. It is only when I consciously go back into the recesses of that time in my life, that I remember the evidence of how wounded I was within that relationship.

Then there are the scars that no one else in the world can see.

Emotional wounds run the deepest. Like salt on an open wound, the slow but steady attack on one's self esteem erodes something much deeper than the battle wounds of a physical attack.

I have all kinds of scars. We all do.

I am one of the fortunate ones. Though I had very little self esteem as a child, it was self inflicted. Time, maturity and life experienced healed all that I felt was hurtful as I went through the growing pains of life.

I had minor skirmishes between friends ... but I was never bullied or picked on. My school days may not be full of light and carefree memories ... but neither was there a shadow of foreboding that made facing the day a nightmare.

Most of my war wounds come from doing battle after I left the safety of my home.

Relationships of the male/female variety left their fair share of scars. Physically, financially, emotionally and psychologically. Thankfully, I can say that I have come to terms with each wound and all that is left is the scar of that which has healed.

Do I stop and wonder about the injuries that I have inflicted during those battles? Yes ... I do. Relationships are a two way street and though I was hurt within them ... I too, inflicted my fair share of pain. I am not without blame.

I wear my scars like a badge of honor. I was hurt. I have healed. I have overcome. Most importantly? I tried.

Never be ashamed of the scars that life has left you with.
A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed, you endured
the pain and God has healed you.
~Author Unknown~

Monday, January 16, 2012

I'm Elmo and I Know It

Smile for the day:

The Best Turkey That Has Ever Come Out of My Oven!

My family really, really enjoys a turkey meal. I really, really, really abhor making a turkey meal. That extra 'really', plus the underline means that 99% of the time ... I win.

I simply cannot remember the last time I cooked a turkey. If I remember correctly, I was mad at that turkey and all the work he created for me.

Honestly. I cannot think of a more labor intensive meal.

We took our (year+ old) turkey out of the deep freeze Saturday afternoon around 3:00 and started the defrosting process. We immersed the bird in cold water and so began 'the thaw'.

Later on, we were reading 'How to Cook a Turkey' on the Internet and by that calculation, we took the turkey out hours too early. But the deed was done. Visions of bad turkey danced in my head ...

The next morning, some time after 10:00 I thought I'd check in on our turkey. I worried needlessly. There were still ice crystals on the outside of the turkey. The innards were frozen quite solid inside the turkey's cavity. It was a wrestling match to remove them and prepare for the next steps that would rule the day.

It was at this point (after the cavity was emptied), that my Middle Son stepped in and took over.

He cleaned, seasoned and stuffed the turkey. He took over the bird portion of the meal. I started peeling potatoes but was interrupted when we went to get groceries (he had to start his truck anyway, so offered to drive me out in our newly snow covered streets).

We came home and as I unpacked the groceries, my Middle Son finished peeling the potatoes. He suggested we have carrots as well and proceeded to peel those.

It was sometime soon after that that he checked the temperature of the turkey and it was cooked (hours ahead of schedule ...  how could it take hours longer to thaw on one end of the scale and hours earlier to cook on the other??).

He removed the stuffing from the bird and we let it sit for a good half hour before carving. And he did that too. He was meticulous in his carving and the platter of turkey was pleasing to the eye ... and the carcass was ready to be tossed into a soup pot. His work there was done.

But did he stop? No. He mashed the potatoes (to perfection) while I tended to the other courses. We both puttered our afternoon away in the kitchen, but the lions share of the 'ugly job' of tending the turkey was done by my Middle Son.

Our entire meal was cooked and ready in the oven as we awaited my Oldest Son's arrival. There was absolutely no chaos in the kitchen at the last minute. We were all sitting down and watching America's Funniest Videos when My Oldest arrived.

The food was brought out and plates were loaded. I waited until everyone else had filled their plates and served myself a generous helping of each of the entrees.

I could not believe how good that turkey meal tasted. It was the best turkey meal that has ever come out of my kitchen.

Did it have to do with the fact that it was a free-range turkey? Or was it because the turkey was not over-cooked?? Or ... was it simply due to the fact that the job did not land entirely on my shoulders? My Middle Son stepped up and did everything that grosses me out, when it comes to cooking a turkey (except cleaning out the frozen gizzards).

By the time we sat down to eat, I had forgotten any part that I had played in the preparation of that bird. It was the best 'Christmas meal' that I can remember.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christmas in January

Our turkey is in the oven. The potatoes, carrots, corn, stuffing and gravy are at the ready. Dessert in the fridge. Chocolate and nuts are set out to nibble on.

We had our first winter storm last night. It looks and feels like winter out there (finally).

My Oldest returned home from Thailand late last night and we hope that jet lag and our quick onset of winter does not deter him from making his way here for supper.

It looks and feels a lot like Christmas today. It takes the sting out of our first real blast of winter this year ...

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Change of Habit

Sleep. I have no trouble sleeping. It is the waking up part that can be a challenge.

When I work, I give myself a few hours to putter away before I must leave the house. I like to have time to read, write, email, have my morning smoothie and a few cups of coffee. Two hours gives me ample time to do all of the above.

I slipped into the habit of sleeping in a little bit over the holidays. I was certain that I would undo that bad habit once the holidays were over. But not starting my work day until 12:45 p.m. made it seem pretty silly to get up at 5:30. So I fell into the habit of getting up at 6:30 or so.

Yesterday I dragged myself out of bed at 7:00. The phone rang at 7:08 and I was asked to go into work. I was out the door by 7:45. It was time to get myself back into my regular waking routine.

Prior to yesterday, I wondered how hard it would be to slip back into the 5:30 habit.

I am scheduled to work at 8:00 this morning. Did I have trouble getting up at my usual time? No.

In fact, I woke up at 4:08. That was far too early to get up and stay up. So I wandered back to bed and turned on my sleeping pill (the TV) and set the sleep timer on the TV for an hour. I drifted back into a light slumber and then my alarm started going off.

I have a terribly confusing time zone in my room. Every time the power goes off, my clock has a battery so it doesn't lose the time when the power goes back on. But ... it gains a few minutes each time there is a power outage and it resets the clock to the wrong time.

At one point in time my clock was 18 minutes fast, so instead of correcting the time, I set the alarm to go off at 5:48 so that it was really going off at 5:30 (are you confused yet?). Then our area of the city had a massive amount of power outages in a short period of time so this messed up my math a little, but I basically 'knew' that I had about ten minutes of 'snooze' time after my alarm went off and the rest of the world caught up to my 5:30 wake-up call.

This morning, I honestly had no idea how fast my clock was. I hit the snooze button twice and that took me to 5:30.

So ... my clock used to be 18 minutes fast. So I adjusted the alarm to reflect that. Now ... I must hit the snooze button twice to get up at the proper time.

Some people may reset the clock and alarm to reflect the correct time. To be honest, I am a little bit afraid to do that because I have grown accustomed to the fact that my clock is usually 15 to 30 minutes fast (I just checked and my clock is presently 45 minutes ahead of schedule).

Knowing that I had to go to work this morning made it very easy to fall back into my old habits. I could have gotten up earlier. My brain is already kicking into gear well before I get out of bed as I try to do the mental math, to figure out the actual time.

The problem is ... I have been up for an hour and a half and I'm still trying to figure out what time zone my bedroom is in.

** I hate to admit how long it has taken me to write this inane post. Suffice to say ... I could have slept in until 6:30 this morning and saved anyone the trouble of reading this! **

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Full Day of Work - At Last!!

A last minute call, the admin staff did a little juggling, I had the ability to be flexible ... and I have two full days of work to end off this week.

Was it pure and utter confusion when I walked into a brand new school this morning ... with computer systems malfunctioning and the inability to sign on at my school? Yes. But I am slowly learning to deal with it and roll with the punches a little better.

Don't look back. Don't show them your fear. Don't tell people your shortcomings ... maybe they won't notice if you don't draw attention to it.

With those words of advice to myself, I am going back to work and put in the last half of my day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How Does Your Future Look?

 "Telling the future by looking at the past assumes that conditions remain constant. This is like driving a car by looking in the rear view mirror."
~ Herb Brody

Yesterday I was asked the question, "How is your future looking?" Instead of simply sending a reply email, I decided I would ponder that very question in today's post.

It seems that every time I think that I know where my future is headed ... I am proven wrong.

Life has blindsided me at times. I have taken detours. I have hit dead ends and had to turn around and find a new route.

No matter how much we think that the future is within our grasp. It isn't.

How is my present looking? One day at a time ... my life looks and feels very good. When I start projecting too far into the future, I become fearful.

I am quite enjoying my half-day work schedule so far this month. I have been puttering away my mornings and utilizing the extra time to write more thoroughly about the predominant thoughts of my mornings. I have been picking up a book. I have been contacting friends. This morning, I am going to meet a friend for breakfast.

Three and a half hours of work speeds by. Work is fun it feels like you just 'pop in for the afternoon' to help out! I feel like a paid volunteer.

I have been getting positive feedback at work. I solved a small puzzle yesterday afternoon. I am available to work every single day (even throughout the Christmas holidays). I am eager to work. I will apply for a temporary or permanent position each and every time one is posted. I am doing everything that I can possibly do to turn the uncertainty of my days into a full-time wage.

I am being very careful with my spending. I have a little bit of a cushion to fall back on if necessary. I made certain that I had a back-up plan when I changed jobs last July and (fortunately) I didn't need to utilize much of that little nest egg. This buys me time. Not much ... but it is my ace up the sleeve this month. I have no idea how many more times I may need a back-up plan. So I must respect my limitations. And I am.

I don't spend much time focusing on 'that which I don't have' ... but lately I have been spending just a little more time pondering the 'lack of a partner' in my life. I am not lonely. I don't need any man to 'complete me'. But the more time I spend on my own, the more familiar it becomes. I have a hard time visualizing where I would fit a man into my present-day life. I would enjoy a dance partner. Every now and again I think that it would be nice to have someone to hold my hand and walk into the future together. But right now? This moment? All I can think is, "It would be nice if there was a second income at times ..." This is not a good foundation for a relationship. So I am content to walk this path alone. For the moment, this is where I need to be.

The present is all that I know for sure. I can say with all certainty that as I wake up each morning, I am happy. I look forward to the day ahead of me. My life is surrounded in all that is important to me. A warm, safe and peaceful home. The security of family and friends that are within my reach. A purpose to wake up and greet each day. And hope. So much hope for the days/weeks/months that lie ahead.

Every now and again, I will be driving along the routes that I know well. I see the oncoming traffic and realize that all it would take is one millisecond ... one moment of inattentiveness on my part or the part of another driver. And life as I know it could change forever ...

I don't live my life in fear. I try to live it one day at a time. I acknowledge my past. I do my best to be grateful for each day that my life is what I expect it to be. And I have dreams of the future.

I am powerless over tomorrow. I see good things ahead. The past has taught me to expect the unexpected. Sometimes that is a good thing. Sometimes it isn't.

"How does my future look?" My future looks bright. I don't know the route I will end up taking. But I know without a doubt that no matter what happens today, I will keep hoping for the best. I will focus on the direction that I want to go. One day, I will get there. And then? I will just keep on going ...

 "Tomorrow will give us something to think about."
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I went to see the movie "Courageous" last night. It is a movie that would have slipped under my radar, if not were not for the words from a MountainWings email - "Grab a man who is a father and take them to see the movie Courageous".

It isn't your mainstream Hollywood movie. It has a very blatant Christian message. But the underlying message is to fathers everywhere. It is a movie I would want to see if I was a father.

As a single mother of three sons, I was surprised that it did not impact me on an emotional level.

Yes - each and every one of the issues addressed was at the forefront of my mind while I raised my Oldest Son. He was perhaps my most 'at risk' child due to what he saw and felt during the first nine years of his life. I raised him in fear. I was strict and unwavering in my ways ... because I did not want to see him go the way of his father. Nor did I want him to become one of 'those' statistics.

"There but for the grace of God (go I)". These are the words that rose to my subconscious after I wrote the preceding paragraph. There were times when I felt that things could have gone either way ... but we were spared. My Oldest has had some growing pains, but his life is headed in a good direction. Is this a movie that I would like for him to see before he considers fatherhood? Emphatically, I reply "Yes!"

I packed up my two sons and moved them a province away from the drama of our previous life soon after my Second Son was born.

My Middle Son was raised without knowing his father. He had some positive male role models and a Big Brother during his teens. I never 'told stories' about his dad. One way or another. I said nothing and let him draw his own conclusions as he grew up and had the opportunity to meet his him (yes, he was 'that old' when his dad was introduced into his life).

My Middle Son is now 24 years old and has own, unbiased opinions about his dad. He is wise beyond his years and we have had many conversations about 'all of the above'. I would very much like for him to see this movie. He has the same blood ties as My Oldest has ... but he doesn't carry the emotional baggage. I would like to hear his perspective.

My Youngest Son's circumstances are entirely different. His father and I never married; nor did we ever live together. We always lived (and continue to live) two independent lives. We are no longer 'a couple', but we do remain friendly and he does make the effort to call and drop in to see His Son. His father is not a negative influence in my son's life. Nor is he a positive one.

There is one scene in the movie that did hit a nerve with me. It was a scene where a teen-age son was reaching out to his dad and almost begging his dad to run a 5K marathon with him. His dad had no interest in running, nor interest in the video games that his son was into. He shrugged off his son's pleas without even looking his son in the eyes, to see the pain he inflicted so carelessly.

This segued into another scene with the same dad with his daughter. A whimsical moment when she asked him to dance with her to her favorite song as they were sitting in their parked vehicle. He didn't want to make a public spectacle of himself so he turned her down. So ... she danced by herself. For him.

These are a scenes that I have been guilty of. These scenes depict the relationship that My Youngest has with his father. These are scenes that are addressed later in the movie. One of those scenes has the opportunity to have a happy ending.

Am I worried about My Youngest? No.

He has a strong bond with his Older Brother. He carries no emotional baggage towards his father. The door is open for him to develop a relationship with his father. But neither one of them appears to be walking through that door on an emotional level.

Would I like for My Youngest to watch this movie? Yes. Because I would really like to hear how he feels about the whole 'fatherhood' thing.

I believe that on some level, every single one of my boys has missed out on having a real Dad in their lives. There are scenarios when that presence is detrimental. This movie did not address that issue. That is perhaps why it didn't hit home with me in a way that one would assume that it would.

My mother-in-law once told me (as a child of divorce), that children never ever stop hoping that their parents will get back together.

A single father knowingly looked me in the eye and told me that 'without a doubt ... if a man is a father, there is not a day that goes by that he doesn't think of his children. Whether they are a part of his life or not'.

I listen to 'the world' around me and I hear the emptiness created in a person's life when their parental relationships are not fulfilled. Where there is a missing (or disfunctional) parent ... there is a void.

But there is that one scene that spoke to me ...

Is it too late for My Youngest and his father? When it comes to parenthood ... it is never easy. But it is never too late.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Keeping Engaged

I went to visit a friend and her dad last night.

Her dad has been in the hospital for 44 days. A person isn't hospitalized for that long without good reason. So it goes without saying that he's not feeling up to par.

He was sleeping when I first arrived. As the night nurse came on duty, she commented on his wakefulness the night prior. So the nurse and my friend started engaging her dad in conversation to keep him wakeful until visiting hours were over.

I was nothing short of amazed at the way he rallied and worked his way out of the fog of (what must be) exhaustion, pain, medication and a confusing state of drifting in and out of life-like dreams and wakefulness.

Several years ago, I helped my friend compile her dad's family memories into a book. I have listened to hours of her dad's memories. In person, on tape, via his brothers and my friend herself. I know the family history and I feel a connection that goes far beyond the surface.

It warmed my heart to hear him talk once again, about growing up on the farm and farming throughout his life. In a small way, it was like going back in time. Back to the months when we were compiling those memories.

His thoughts and passion about farming was as passionate yesterday, as it was four years ago. It was harder work for him to put a voice to his thoughts, but when he did ... it was the same voice. Underneath the illness, the pain and effects of being hospitalized for so long ... the essence of the man he always was (and still is), is still fighting.

As if that wasn't enough, he then started joking around with the nurse who had come in for her evening shift. The quick wit that has always been his trademark is alive and well. We laughed and enjoyed the lightness of the moments. The twinkle in his eyes was evident under all that his body is contending with.

These ... are the moments that my friend is fighting for. She spends hours at the hospital with him ... because it makes a difference. She waits out the challenging times and perseveres. She knows that he needs to keep engaged ... to keep fighting.

I returned home to my quiet and predictable life and reflected on the evening. The need to keep 'engaged':

en·gaged (synonyms)
absorb, engross, engage, occupy interest
hire, engage, employ

Isn't that something that everyone needs to fight to keep in their life? As I wander through my days, they may be quiet and unassuming ... but my interest, energy and thoughts are occupied. We all need to be needed ... and I believe that we are at our best when we some form of 'engagement' in our lives (people, work, appointments, social engagements) - structure.

We are very fortunate when we have the means and power to keep ourselves engaged in life. We can only hope that we have someone fighting for us (like my friend is fighting for her dad), to keep us engaged ... when we are feeling powerless to do so on our own.

To live a life with no regrets ... is to be able to look back and be grateful for all that you have done.

**Thank you, My Friend. You never fail to inspire me!**

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Where Would I Be Without Google?

Apparently, I am a master of wasting time. The lack of a television set in the living room hasn't changed a thing.

I now fritter away endless hours at the computer instead of the TV. The difference between then (TV addiction) and now (computer addiction)? I stay awake. And I utilize more of my brain.

Any time I have an unanswered question, I google it. As I was googling one of about a million queries lately, I stopped for a millisecond and wondered 'what would I do if I didn't have a computer?'

I would become my mother. I am almost sure of it.

Mom has always had reference books in the house. I was very young when she got her first set of World Book encyclopedias and also a set of Childcraft (which undoubtedly played a part in my instinct to refer to reference materials when in question). Decades later, Mom still refers to her encyclopedias to find an answer that she is looking for.

I have never in my life met a person that quite literally wears out dictionaries. Mom does.

Atlases, school readers from when she was a child, history books from each of the small towns that were in the farming community where she grew up and lived half of her life, biographies, books on the royal family ... these are what you will find predominately in Mom's library.

 Mom has a thirst for knowledge that is never quite satisfied. She enjoys being around people who have a 'quiet' intelligence. If she had grown up with the opportunities that we have these days, I cannot begin to imagine what she would have done with her quest to learn.

There is one reference book that she doesn't have. It is the one that has the lyrics to all of the songs that she remembers. We have chatted on the phone at times when she was be talking about a verse she couldn't quite recall. I googled it as she spoke and she was (initially) quite amazed at this arsenal of information at my fingertips. Since that time (and it makes me smile each and every time I hear Mom's voice utter the words), she has phoned on occasion and asked, "Can you google _________ for me?"

As my curiosity is quickly satisfied by my ability to google anything and everything ... I cannot help but wonder what reference books I would surround myself in, if it were not for the convenience of the Internet.

We are a very fortunate generation. The one thing that frightens me is what do we retain, when we have so much ... so readily available? Will my brain go lazy because I know that I can find the answer quicker than I could try and recall an answer I already know? 

Thankfully, I live with a few of those from the Google Generation (and the History Channel; the Learning Channel; and a wide variety of other educational television channels), and I am amazed and astounded by the retained knowledge of those following in my footsteps.

Television and the Internet are often given a bad rap. There is a lot of garbage out there. But the potential to learn, expand and satisfy the quest to learn is at our fingertips. "Seek and ye shall find."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reaching Out

I took advantage of a quiet morning yesterday, to send off an email to a close group of friends that I used to work with.

I wrote, rewrote, edited, added and deleted to those words many times before I finally hit the 'Send' button on that email. But the moment that I did ... I felt at one with the world.

Each of those friends is unique. I interact with each of them differently. The frequency and 'who contacts whom' varies from person to person; circumstance to circumstance. Each of these friends has a varying amount of commitments and time-to-call-their-own, so it seems that we have fallen into a pattern of 'how we keep in touch' based on how our lives work.

There are a few that moved out of our community many years ago. Contact with them is sporadic and most incredibly special when it does take place. They have moved on and out of our lives here ... but will always remain close in our thoughts. There are friends that, no matter where life takes them or how many years it has been between visits, that are friends of the heart. The moment you sit down and start talking, it is as if no time has passed. We have that kind of friendship.

We are all in different stages of our lives. I think that it is safe to say that each of us are very committed to our families ... the biggest difference is the demands that happen to be placed on each of us at a given time.

There is a quiet understanding that each of us has a different amount to give and take, at different points in our friendship. We have known each other over the course of the past 21 years and a lot has changed throughout that time.

There are times when one person 'takes the lead' and other times when someone else steps up. There is the feeling that someone has your back. You can draw on the energy of the group, when your own energy is low. There is a yin and a yang that is unconscious. It is simply 'there'. And it works.

We get together in small groups when we can, one-on-one at others. Our visits have ranged from regular contact ... to an 'almost loss of contact' ... to a rebuilding stage ... which has refortified what is good and special about this friendship.

This group of friends has seen me through the good, the bad and the ugly. They have cheered me on, lifted me up, believed in me and created a safe haven for 'me to be me'. I have become more courageous in living my life, because of what I have received from this circle of friendship.

Yesterday ... I reached out. I hoped that I made a small difference in one person's day. In doing so, it made my own day just a little bit more special.

Thoughts lead on to purposes;
purposes go forth in action;
actions form habits;
habits decide character;
and character fixes our destiny.
~Tryon Edwards

Friday, January 6, 2012

Freefalling Thoughts

I cannot seem to make my thoughts stop in one place long enough to focus on any isolated topic this morning, so I shall let my fingers free fall over the keyboard and see what they have to say ...

~ Health. It feels good to feel good this morning! I realized that I was not exaggerating how yucky my stomach felt, until it started feeling normal again. The weirdest thing of all? I am not craving junk food. I want real food. Turns out my stomach is smarter than my brain. ~

~ Money. The uncertainty of income this month has me focusing a lot of energy on the my state of finances. This is a temporary phase. I must adhere to my limitations. Each and every time I reign in my spending according to the current budget restraints, I am rewarded in some fashion. It may be a small thing. One time, I was short 30 some dollars to cover some bills. I received a completely unexpected cheque in the mail for around 30 dollars. It it is as if the universe is encouraging me. This too, shall pass .... ~

~ Work. It is tough jump starting into work-mode, mid way through the day. I have appreciated the mornings off, but I haven't worked up the momentum to put in an effective afternoon at work. The good news? I am working at schools that I have worked at before, so I am not completely lost. It could be worse. I could be putting in those partial days, where I haven't a clue what I am doing or where things are at. This temporary state will help me appreciate new opportunities at 'places unknown'. ~

~ Email. Where would I be without it? I have the feeling that friends and family are at my fingertips. I can send off a message any time of the day or night, knowing that I am not interrupting any one's life. That freedom has given me the greatest gift of all. The gift of keeping in touch and feeling connected. Long distance phone plans offer the same gift. The world is at my fingertips ... and it doesn't cost one (extra) penny to simply feel connected to friends and family. What a great consolation that is, during this budget-conscious month! ~

~ TV ... or lack thereof. It turns out that I can't completely tune out my television addiction. When I wasn't feeling well, the TV lulled me into a serene state of sleepfulness. Last night, I was elated when I realized it was Thursday night and 'my shows' were on! Could I stay awake for two consecutive hours in front of the TV? No. But I had fun trying. I watched '3rd Rock From the Sun' before I got out of bed this morning (it wasn't necessary to get up at 5:30, so I allowed myself the luxury of staying in bed a little longer and watched TV). Harry was addicted to TV on this particular episode. Dick turned off the television and told him (something to the effect of) "TV is not the reason we came to earth!" Harry replied with a pout, "But it is the reason we stayed!" ~

 ~ Making the most of a day. My Middle Son is working at a job that is 'paying the bills'. He isn't terribly enamored over his days but accepts that this is where he must be for now. He has told the company that he works for, that he would be happy to take the out-of-town runs. To be paid for a drive outside of the city is not a bad gig. It doesn't happen all of the time, but he makes the most of it when it does. Today? He has a job just outside of Mom's City. He will be done work in time to take her out for supper and stay overnight at her B & C (Bed & Coffee). That is a treat in and of itself. But to add to the pleasure, my Son's Girlfriend works in a job where she has managed to have these days off as well, so she can join him for this little road trip. A regular, ordinary work-day turned special! ~

Now I must go make the most of this day, myself. May you also find a way to turn the mundane into something special today.

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

You Don't Always Get What You Want

... but you get what you need.

I couldn't help but feel apprehensive and uneasy about this New Year, as I turned the calendar page and thought of the uncertainty this month holds for me.

I am booked to work only half days, for the first few weeks of the year. That is all that I know for sure. This could all change with one phone call. But for the moment, all that I am certain of, is what is on my schedule.

Does working half-days put me out of the running for any available full-days? What will my pay cheque be?? How will I manage it financially?

When my stomach started doing flips yesterday morning, I thought it was just a case of nerves. I couldn't have worked yesterday morning if I had been scheduled. My stomach ruled and I couldn't have left the house if I had to. I needed to be home.

I was able to work my 3.5 hour shift, but the last hour was a little bit tense. I had to get home. This I knew.

I basically slept from 4:30 yesterday afternoon until 7:00 this morning. My stomach is much better, but I am grateful that I didn't get called into work this morning.

You don't always get what you want in life (full-time work) ... but you get what you need (sick days, without having to call in).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Keep Your Eye on Where You Want to Go

We have a fairly long driveway. The last part of it is double-wide, so a lot of the time there is another vehicle parked there. It never fails. If I focus on vehicle that I want to avoid hitting, I end up going where I don't want to go. If I look at the fire hydrant directly across the street from where I want to go, I back up as straight as an arrow.

If I look where I want to go, that is where I end up.

I try to live my life in the same fashion. To focus my attention on where I want to be and do my best to avoid giving my attention and energy to all of the reasons that I cannot reach my destination.

The minute I start letting my thoughts stray off course, that is where I end up going.

I became overwhelmed and incapable of choreographing an exercise class. I talked about how inept I felt. I lost my confidence. I became paralyzed with anxiety. I didn't even try. I gave up. I took my eye off the ball. I stopped the momentum. I gave all of my energy to explaining why I couldn't do it. And I didn't.

Around the same time, I let myself become overwhelmed with the task of putting Dad's family's stories together in the form of a book. I have set the bar a little higher than my original attempt and I have a great fear of failing to meet my own expectations. So I stopped. I have all of the tools that I need, to forge onwards and get these words put to paper. But once again ... the lack of forward momentum, without a firm vision and belief in the end goal ... I have let everything else in my life take priority. And the 'book' remains unfinished. I took my eye off of where I was headed.

I quit my job and found a new one. I knew exactly where I wanted to work and I placed a great deal of energy towards believing that I could get that job. And I did. I sold myself on that interview because I had my eye on the prize.

I have a strong network of friends and family. Recently I have questioned how this has come to be. I believe that having a solid base foundation within my own family as I grew up, has played a big part in this. I know what I want ... so subconsciously, that is what I have drawn into my life.

My own little family has had its share of drama and at one time, it seemed that the damage was irreparable. I kept looking at my own family. My sister's families. The closeness that I knew I wanted. It didn't happen over night. But bit by bit, slowly but surely ... my own little family is becoming closer than I could have ever imagined. I never stopped believing. And now my dreams are coming true.

I have so many minor miracles that amaze and astound me. Writing a book ... working from home ...going to a dance competition ... going on an Alaskan cruise ... (to name a few).

I have enveloped the spirit of 'If I believe it ... it will happen' in my life. And it does! I am living proof that anything is possible.

Yes, life does throw you curve balls that you simply can't avoid. When that happens, it is like steering into a skid. Continue to keep your eye on where you want to go. Don't stare into the ditch and hope for a safe landing. Look into the horizon and believe.

Keep focused on where you are going.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Out With the Old!

We moved the TV out of the living room yesterday. I feel better already.

The television set moved into the living room eight months ago. I can't pinpoint the exact turning point, but I do know that turning on the TV (and immediately falling asleep in front of it) after supper became my new norm around the time of my job change.

Turning on the TV and turning off my brain became a habit. I noticed that it was interfering with what (I used to call) my life, but it was harmless. Or so I thought.

The past week made me rethink my position on that presumption.

I was drawn to the TV, like an addict. Yes, I bounced back and forth between the computer and TV. But what was forever minimized on the computer screen? The TV listings. I would plan my day around what was on TV. Great strategy was involved so that I could maximize my television viewing hours.

I stopped cooking. I stopped talking. I stopped writing. I (almost) even stopped snacking because that would require a trip to the store to replenish our grocery supplies. Then I would have to make myself presentable enough to be seen in public. I stopped living.

I cannot recall a time where I did so little, with so much time. It had to come to an end.

So I asked for assistance in moving the TV downstairs yesterday. My Middle Son was eager to assist (the TV was right above his bedroom downstairs and the base in the volume was interfering with his sleep). My Youngest Son was thrilled to (finally) get this television set moved into the TV room downstairs.

And that is how quickly our lives changed.

I prepared supper. I started organizing My Son's income tax paperwork. I felt the energy returning. My restrained words from the past week started flowing and there was no stopping them.

Am I feeling the ache to turn on the TV and turn off my brain once again this morning? Unfortunately, yes. Fortunately, I have eleven months of paperwork to sort through for My Son. I return to work tomorrow, so I cannot drag my heels. I must be productive today.

I wish that I would have done this five days ago. I am not certain what was gained by losing those days. On some level, I must have needed the down time. But enough is enough!

There is work to be done around here. And it isn't going to happen with a television set ruling my life. Out with the old ... in with the new!! The TV is gone. And I am back ...

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Year Ago

This time, last year ... I had an agenda. I had a plan. I knew where I was headed and all that was required on my part was a little perseverance and dedication.

I had it all mapped out. Courses, exams, deadlines and goals. I had a dream-vacation booked. Two reunions to anticipate.

January 1, 2011 ... I looked at the calendar before me and I (thought that I) knew where I was going.

This year ... I have no agenda. I have no idea where this year will take me and I feel paralyzed.

Is it fear? Is it lack of dedication? Why am I feeling so lost?

2010 energized me. I faced a bright and shiny new year with the belief that anything was possible.

2011 exhausted me. I started the year feeling invincible. I set out some goals and life side-tracked me. I didn't achieve the satisfaction of achieving what I set out to do. Instead ... I changed jobs.

2012 is a fresh, new slate. I laid out the ground work last year and did the hardest part. Now ... all I must do is persevere. One forward step at a time and I will continue to move in the direction that I have in mind.

One day at a time.

My goal this year? To do one productive thing per day. One thing that makes me feel that I have made a small difference in my world. Whether it is cleaning the oven ... or writing a page in an unfinished book ... or meeting up with a friend. One thing that makes a difference.

One day at a time, I will make the most of the days, months and year ahead of me.

A year ago, I thought I knew what the year had in store. I was partially right ... but I didn't allow any room for error in my plans. I got side-tracked. I stopped in my tracks. Now it is time to make some tracks and move forward from here.

Need Input

I have sequestered myself into a cone of silence and solitude the past five days. And it's not really working for me.

When you don't talk to anyone or invite people/experiences into your days there is very little to think about. Let alone write about.

I woke up this morning and went through my morning stalking ritual on Facebook and found this:

~ by ToxicAntidote

Missing somebody? ….. Call!
Wanna meet up?..... Invite!
Wanna be understood? ….. Explain!
Have questions? …… Ask!
Don’t like something? ….. Say it!
Like something? …… State it!
Want something? ….. Ask for it!
Love someone? ….. Tell them!

I searched the Internet to find the author of these words and found this:

"... I stopped going to work, stopped reading the news,
I sit and twiddle my thumbs cos I got nothing to do,
Minimal exercise,
To help uncomplicate my life ..."

And this ... has been the story of my holiday. All I can say is: bring on the complications!
I need some input, to inspire some output.