Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Change ... Is it in the Air?

Did you ever have your hopes and dreams (almost) offered to you on a silver platter? It feels so right. It is what you hoped for. Yet you find that you are almost frightened to reach out and take it?

That is where I am. I put myself out there. I took a chance. I took yet another leap of faith. I risked nothing but rejection. And ... it is starting to happen. A dream is becoming reality.

I have been writing within the comfort of my little blog space for four years. At times I write something that is deep and meaningful. Sometimes thought provoking. Other times it is purely inane and almost a waste of words. Daily life and how I absorb it is what I write about here. This blog is me. It is my home.

I have been asked to write a column for a monthly paper. They wanted a writer for their Senior Page. So I tried writing within the guidelines that I was given. I was told what they were looking for, with the disclaimer that 'they will know it when they read it'. And they would let me know if I was a 'fit' for their paper.

Well? I missed the mark. But!!! Writing what came natural to me got me the job!

Instead of being placed on the Senior Page, they are going to find me another spot within the paper. I have been given some guidelines which fall very close to the way that I write (when I truly have something to say). They would like me to write my little story, give some examples and wind it all up with something for the reader to mull over when they are done. "Food for Thought" was the title which was suggested.

That conversation has most definitely given me a lot of food for thought! I think of little else (when life isn't drawing me into the necessity of earning a living and tending to life-outside-of-our-home). I am consumed with the process.

Can I do an effective job? Will my next set of 'edits' result in what they are looking for? Can I write on demand? Am I up to the task??

Then there is the small stuff.

I must submit a photo of myself. This causes me much greater angst than writing does. I am in control of my writing abilities. But my physical appearance?? It is what it is. And that ain't purdy. I can handle the reflection in my mirror because it changes a little from day to day. But to capture this reflection on an unchanging 'canvas'?  I have aged five years just thinking about it.

I was invited to add my website and email address which they would add to the end of each column. The question is ... do I want to add my blog site? Or should I start up a completely separate web address? This blog has become personal. I write what I want to write, when I want to write it. Sometimes it is blog-worthy. Sometimes it isn't. I am comfortable here. Do I want to invite a completely different set of readers into my home here? I am far more comfortable inviting my existing readers over to my 'new place'. My vacation home ...

I have another paper that sounds 99% committed to my column and a third paper that is asking questions that could lead to something.

This is happening, people! This is really happening!!

I am on the edge of a dream and I feel like I am on the cusp of waking up to a whole new reality. It is exhilarating. But it is a little bit frightening.

I am taking something that I love to do ... and turning it into a job. If all goes according to plan (yes, I have ulterior motives), this is one part of my retirement plan. To write, so that I can subsidize my ultimate retirement goal - to run a Bed & Breakfast.

They guessed that I was a housewife (according to what I had submitted). When I corrected them and told them that I was presently a secretary, I could hear the deflation in their voice. Housewife trumped secretary. Do you know what? I tend to agree.

This secretary gig is a transition job. It is getting me from 'A' to 'B'. In my heart, I am an entrepreneur. I am doing what must be done to make my way to where I want to go. And I am getting there. I really am!!

Have you ever had that moment where life is handing you exactly what you dreamed of, worked towards and wanted. But you were afraid to grasp it for fear of bursting that bubble?

When your hopes and dreams become your reality ... where do you go next??

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Food For Thought

Something to Chew On ... Intellectual Nourishment ... Meanderings For the Mind ... Words to Ponder ...

What would you name a column that involved telling a little story; giving real-life examples and winding it up with a little succinct sentence at the end to give the reader something to think on?

I am just wondering. Because the plot is thickening.

I have been asked to come up with a name for my new column.

That's all ...

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Best Day

I have a lot of best days. Yesterday was one of them.

I got Mom's income taxes pretty much wrapped up first thing in the morning. I had two questions for her, so a phone call was in order. One more phone call to confirm some other information and that job was complete.

Then I received a phone call that changed the course of my day. It may alter more than a day. It may not. I am hopeful. If nothing else, it will be a most excellent 'lesson' for me ...

I picked up the phone and called a friend in the afternoon. I had been thinking of calling but hadn't followed through. So I just picked up the phone and mindlessly dialed it. We were a few minutes into our conversation when she said that she was going to call me. In fact, she said that she found herself holding the phone talking with me and she couldn't remember who called whom. It was such a little thing, but it wasn't. Two friends on exactly the same wavelength.

Then Mom called. She had an idea which was spurred on from our earlier conversation. I had one last item to clarify before I officially wrapped up her taxes. So we talked a while. And she asked if I would be sending her a letter this week. I said I was working on it ...

I barely hung up (and went back to amassing an envelope of items-of-interest for Mom), when she called me back. She was so impressed that she found exactly what I had asked about within moments of hanging up the phone. I said, "You are making this letter that I am trying to write a bit of a challenge ..." (I also talked to her twice on Saturday). We had a little chuckle over the frequency of our phone-visits and she promised that she probably wouldn't call back for a few days.

I went back to Mom's letter and it is signed, sealed and ready to deliver. I looked at what I had been working at all day one last time. I made a few small revisions and sent that off.

I didn't work on our family's book project at all yesterday. But I moved a few other mountains. I guess that is good too.

I thought that I may not get called into work today and I could make up for my lost day. But the phone just rang and I must work.

All good things must come to an end. And so it was with this February break. I kept myself fully occupied within the confines of my home. I enjoyed every moment of it.

Everything that I wanted and needed was at my fingertips. That is what I miss about working from home. The feeling of containing my life under one roof. When I am not physically pulled in too many directions, I can accomplish so much more.

My home grounds me. This holiday gave me exactly what I needed.

Now, I must go and make today the best day it can be.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hope Springs Eternal

Hope is peeking its head out from under the winter snow. I glimpsed it a short while ago but it backed down under cover and has remained illusive ever since. Dare I hope?

I am not certain. Maybe it is rejection masked within the context. It isn't a 'no'. But it isn't a 'yes' either.

At this very moment I need to feel hopeful. I need to feel that daring to venture where I have never gone before may have a small payback.

Yes. I will hope. Yes, I will tread gently and carefully and see if I can make something come of nothing.

It is impossible to contain the flutter of excitement that is stirring. It is small. It is almost nothing. In fact, it is a little bit of 'working for nothing'. But I think it is a step in the right direction.

I am faced in the direction that I want to go. I must simply take forward steps. And maybe ... just maybe ... I can.

"Once you choose hope, anything's possible."
~Christopher Reeve

Friday, February 24, 2012

One of Those Days

Yesterday didn't start off on a good foot. The temple snapped off of my glasses when I was cleaning them first thing in the morning.

Undeterred, I thought I would quickly run out and get them fixed. I had been putting off getting groceries and my eye doctor is across the street from the grocery store. I would be back in an hour.

I drove up to my eye-place and it looked rather dark inside. My eyes were drawn to the sign on the doors. They had moved. It wasn't too far, but it added an unexpected dimension to my quick errand.

After getting groceries, I found the new location for my eye doctor. I walked in and someone was able to help me immediately.

Except ... the moment I told her that one of my temples had snapped off, she told me that a part would have to be ordered. She checked to see if my glasses were still under warranty. Unfortunately, they weren't.

So ... the next girl called to find out how long it would take for the necessary part and the cost. I wasn't terribly surprised to discover that they no longer make the part required for my glasses. It looked like I would be shopping for some new ones.

I mentioned my financial limitations and asked if we could browse in the bargain section. The girl was so cheery and helpful. I said that I had been feeling rather frumpy ever since I started wearing my glasses full time and she said, "We'll have to change that!"

I didn't even bother looking in the mirror because I couldn't see. She suggested that I could look in the mirror at the end of the aisle and get really close to it. Sorry. A close up version of a blind me in a public mirror would not sell me on the best pair of glasses. I looked at her instead and let her choose.

Last fall, I went in for a quote on some glasses prior to finding out that I couldn't afford to buy them (just before my full-time job turned into a substitute position). Lens prices had increased since that time, but they honor their quotes for six months. That saved me $30.00. She found me a cheaper pair of frames and that saved another $110.00. Which means I also saved $14.00 in taxes. It was my lucky day after all.

Next disappointment? It will take 10 - 12 business days for my new glasses to arrive. She did put a rush on it since my current glasses are unfixable. She couldn't even glue them together as a temporary fix. So I must wait.

Then I came home.

My momentum was lost. My Youngest was at the computer so I couldn't go straight to my book project. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to email another batch of resume/writing samples to (a fourth) province.

By the time I got to the computer and was able to start on the book project, my ambition level was declining to nil. I tried to spur myself forward, but all that I saw before me was the chaotic layout of the book which I must fix.

As I struggled to persevere, replies from my resume started coming back. Two of the three responses were of the "we are 100 per cent local in our content" ilk. The third was that of we are not accepting new columnists but " I'll keep you in mind, if anything changes" ... Why was it then, that all I could think afterwards was, "What am I doing? Who do I think I am???"

I was sitting with my disorganized family history project in front of me, still reeling from the 'rejections' of the columnist idea when the phone rang.

It was the dance studio. "We will see you at the group class tonight, won't we??" they asked. I was feeling low, frumpy, my vision blurred with my out-of-date perscription in my ugly old glasses ... and they were suggesting that I push myself out of my misery and go out and socialize? My mind was not even in a place where I wanted to negotiate. I was staying home and I knew it.

It came up in conversation that the blog posts that I had been asked to write (about a month ago) had been sitting 'unpublished' in their dance-blog. I had sent an email the morning I finished them to let them know they were written. I left them in 'draft' form so that they could be edited if necessary before they were posted. And there they sat. For a month (more rejection??).

One of them was titled "Winter Blues? Come to a Group Class!" It focused on the special group classes being offered at the studio in January and February. The whole theme behind what I initially wrote was out of date. I tried to go in and edit it. But I couldn't. I couldn't even talk myself into going to a group class. I most certainly couldn't sell anyone else on the idea.

I gave up.

I threw supper together and parked myself on the couch. I started nodding off to sleep somewhere around 6:00. I woke up at 7:30 and thought to myself, "Whoops ... I missed group class". Then fell back into a light snooze.

It was kind of a crappy day. I have been sticking my neck out an awful lot lately and it's getting sore. I just needed to sleep it off.

Surprisingly, I woke up at about 3:30 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. I checked my email and found this message:

"Many of life's failures
are people who did not realize how close they were to success
when they gave up."
~Thomas A. Edison~

I read those words, took two pain killers to ease the pain in my neck/back and headed back to bed. Numb the pain and don't give up. That is my plan for today.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Dream Vacation

This week has been a gift. A gift of time. Which is allowing me to finally work on following through on one of my unfinished goals of last year.

I stopped in my tracks last year and never really regained my momentum. Then, I allowed myself to be distracted by the fun and uplifting events going on in my world. Which was followed by a bold decision to stop everything and switch career paths.

It has almost been a year since my world stopped turning in a predictable direction. I am finally regaining my equilibrium.

Working on our family's collection of memories, stories and history has taken over my thinking this week.

I have travelled back to a simpler time. I am enveloped in memories of when Dad and his six brothers were young and just starting to find their way in this big old world of ours.

As I reread and rewrite the transcribed conversations, I am taken back to the journey that I have been on since I started my 'research'. I have warm memories of talking with Dad's brothers, family members, family friends & neighbors. I hear their voices as I replay our visits.

I have reconstructed my vision of what I hope this book becomes. It keeps changing, evolving and growing. I don't think this book was meant to be rushed. But I have taken far too long. I believe it's ready to be written now.

I am gaining the momentum that I lost. I am ready.

It is exactly the kind of vacation that I needed and wanted. A vacation within the confines of my very own heart and home.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Then Comes the Crash

Not a crash so much. Just a gentle ride downhill ...

My brain is so full of ideas that I am having a hard time keeping up. The fact that I have a 'tickle trunk' full of books, notes, research, maps and a multitude of ideas scribbled on small pieces of paper for our family's story is overwhelming me. Just a bit.

I have spent two days going through the masses of information within that 'trunk' and I have accomplished so little. As I transpose the handwritten notes into my Word Document, I am so easily sidetracked. I want to find maps, pictures and dates correlating to the snippet of information that I've just written. My thought is, if I am curious then others will be. So I must follow these threads.

The threads are multi faceted. Many are interwoven with many other threads and by the time I have woven them all together, they have become a multicolored strand of yarn.

One. Step. At. A. Time. I must keep taking forward steps. This is something bigger than I am right now. I must try and contain it and put it all together between the covers of a book.

I have an unwavering picture in my mind of what I hope this could become. I can envision losing myself in this project when it all starts coming together in one, cohesive unit.

I can see it. I can feel it. I could do it.

But getting from here to there? Scares my socks off. I feel the sea parting ... do I have the courage to walk through before the waters come crashing back in on me?

Most of the time? I feel invincible. I can do this. Before I go to sleep at night? I wonder. Am I up to the task? Can I truly pick myself up and transport myself into a world where I could immerse myself in this project?

Life has a way of opening doors and making anything possible. It also has a way of stopping you in your tracks. I am prepared to make some detours.

I have great faith that 'what is meant to be ... will be'. I have taken a few tentative steps out of my comfort zone to try and find a unique and personal way to turn this book into an adventure.

My Second Son is behind me 150%. He tells me "If you do this ... it will change your life." It could. That is both exhilarating and terrifying.

Thus ... my sleepless moments last night before I drifted off into another dimension. What have I done??? Is that a crash I hear? Or the sound of new wings testing their stamina?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Quote from an episode of 'House' that I saw (napped through) this morning:

Alvie: I didn't know there was a section of the brain just for hope.
House: It's very, very tiny.

I snapped to attention at those words. Why? Because I think the 'hope' section of my brain has swollen out of proportion to what I used to know as my reality.

Lately I keep finding that  hope is overriding worry at every turn. Nothing feels impossible. Circumstances that I felt were obstacles are transforming into situations that are enabling me to be the person that I want to be and do the things that I want to do.

It is nothing short of a miracle.

My life is far from perfect ... but it is the perfect fit for me. I look ahead and I see good things. I walk through my days and I am content. I glance back and it is all so perfectly clear ... I needed to be where I was, to get to where I was meant to be.

Hope. Dreams. Aspirations.

When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
~Author Unknown

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Three R's

I believe that it is safe to say that I will be on unofficial holidays for the next week, as the schools have closed their doors for a much anticipated February Break.

I should be able to actually relax and enjoy this time off, since it does not come as a surprise. I do not anticipate living in that twilight zone of not knowing which way my day will turn, as the phone dictates my day at the last moment. Knowing that, means that I go into this week armed with the knowledge that this will be (yet another) an unpaid holiday. So I will spend accordingly.

I armed myself with Readin'; (w)Ritin'; and (a)Rithmetic assignments which will not cost a penny (that hasn't already been spent) and has the ability to occupy my time off.

Reading - I bought the book "11 22 63" - by Stephen King last week. I opened the cover Monday evening and I was hooked. I sat down with the half read (it is 842 pages) book at 7:00 yesterday morning. I finished it shortly before 7:00 last night. My mind vacationed back and forth between 1958 to present for the past week and I didn't even have to pack a suitcase. It was quite a ride ...

Writing - Before I sat down to read yesterday morning, I pulled out the box which contains my notes, maps and reference materials that I have collected over the course of the past three years. It is time to devote my time and energy to finishing that which I started. I have already done a lot of the leg work. All that is left is the brain work. With little or no distractions, I believe that I could move mountains this upcoming week ...

Arithmetic - Tax season will soon be upon us. The tax program that I purchased on Monday will help me assist a handful of other tax payers (family members) complete their tax return for the year. That one is a no-brainer once all the papers are in. It's almost fun. The best part (for me) is that I am quite certain that I should be receiving a tax refund which will offset the shortages in my budget for the past few months.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. I am headed toward that light.

February Break = Three R's = Readin', Ritin' & Rithmetic

Easter Break = Two R's = Rest & Relaxation ... that is, if I accomplish what I set out to do this week.

It's time to get crackin'!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hidden Treasures

Sometimes, all we have to do is look beyond the surface to find the hidden blessings in our regularly scheduled life.

I've been finding that a lot in the past few months. I am beginning to wonder if perhaps that is part of the grand scheme of things ...

I have had the opportunity to spend time with friends that are going through a challenging time. Time to follow through on little ideas that I have. Time to sit still and watch the snow gently waft towards the earth.

At work, I am not pulled in a million different directions. As a substitute, my role is usually very straight forward (and easy). I have time to see co-workers, students and teachers as people.

I love when life stops for a moment and there is a perfect clarity that you are exactly where you are meant to be. And doing exactly what you are meant to do.

Sometimes those moments are fleeting. Other times, they stay with you long after the moment is gone.

I have had a lot of those special moments lately. Times when my heart swells with contentment and joy over the simplest of things.

The scavenger hunt that I had as I scoured the city to find the items on my ever-growing list has taken on a new meaning. The scavenger hunt continues. I am seeking the little treasures within every single day that I am given.

I am finding treasures where I least expect them. They are everywhere ... when you take time to stop and focus on that which is right before you.

Take a moment. Savor it. Find the beauty in it. And let it go ... there are many more where that came from.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why Am I Not Worried?

I decided a long time ago that worrying is a waste of energy:

From the archives: Mar 9, 2010 - Time Saving Tips
  • I've cut back on worrying. It is a waste of time and energy. No matter how much I worry about something, it doesn't make a difference. The only way I can make a difference is by 'doing'. A much better investment of my time.
I should be worried. But I'm not.

I am working at the job-of-my-current-dreams. I am doing everything that I can do to succeed and prosper at this job. I am making slow and steady gains. But I am not working full-time. Yet.

I am determined to keep attempting to sell my writing skills. Slowly but surely, I am working my way 'across the country side' in my attempt to find a way to make my words work for me. The only way I consider myself failing at this task, is if I give up. I'm not giving up.

My current financial situation is not pretty. But it is not desperate. I took steps to provide myself with a cushion before I fall. Before long, I will start to utilize a portion of that protective layer. Not all of it. Just enough to buy me some time.

In the mean time, I am 'doing'. I am doing that which I have the power to do right now. I am persevering.

"Quit now, you'll never make it. If you disregard this advice, you'll be halfway there."
~David Zucker

I'm not quitting. The best is yet to come. I just have to keep believing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Sweet Day

I worked at an elementary school yesterday. Valentine's Day was in the air!

The teachers mentioned that the kids seemed to be more hyped about Valentine's Day, than they had been over Christmas.

From where I sat (in the secretary's chair), it felt like business-as-usual. But the difference was in the cupcakes.

Kids brought treats to share and wandered the hallways spreading their good cheer and tasty treats. How could you say no to that?

I was just working at the school for the day so I didn't feel deserving of the treats being lavished upon the staff. Nor did I want to hurt anyone's feelings so after I ensured that they had ample to go around, I did have a few cupcakes and a nanaimo bar.

As I told one young lad that I didn't feel right accepting these treats because I wasn't a regular staff member at the school, he looked me in the eye and insisted that I should take one. His eyes twinkled and his smile lit up the hallway as I thanked him by name and told him how kind he was.

It was a day that felt like it was all about giving. Caring, sharing and making someone smile. It was a most perfect Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Spender's Remorse

With great restraint, comes a time of great spending. After doing so well, for so long I fell off the wagon.

Oh! I held back and bought no-name verses brand-name granola bars. I found the best deal on printer paper. I turned around and walked away from many, many other temptations.

My shopping trip ended up feeling like a scavenger hunt as searched the city (okay, six stores) for the hard-to-find-items on my growing list of 'little things' that were piling up. It became a game.

The more places I stopped, the less tempted I became. By the time I left the last store and headed for home I was spent. In more ways than one.

I indulged myself in a few things that I wanted, but did not need. I picked up breakfast-for-one and had myself a small little party after my morning foray.

I added up the money I saved by finding a lower cost replica of what I was going to buy anyway. I put many, many items back on the shelves. It wasn't hard to restrain myself. Most of the time.

The budget is starting to feel a little scary. Something must change. Soon.

Yesterday's spending binge was a tiny bit frightening. It was a reality check. The outgo is exceeding the income. I need to know that March is going to be a better month ...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Something for Nothing

Throughout these budget-conscious months, extra curricular spending has been cut back. A lot.

The list of things not getting repaired or replaced around here was growing. One day I decided to write down that-which-is-undone.

Thankfully, the list was not as long as it had grown to in my mind. It was a finite number on a small piece of paper.

The Number One Annoying thing-left-undone was the dripping kitchen tap. I knew in the past (because our kitchen tap came with a lifetime guarantee), that I had been able to replace the broken part with a new one at no cost. It took longer to think about doing it, than it did to drive there (twice ... because I had forgotten that we had replaced our lifetime-guaranteed-tap with a different one, so I picked up the wrong part) and fix the tap.

Total cost (even though it was no longer our tap with the lifetime guarantee)?? $00.00 Zilch. Nada. It cost me my time (and a little gas). The satisfaction that was derived by fixing that dripping tap?? Priceless!!

The second and third items I decided to tackle were the broken computer downstairs and the broken speakers on the computer upstairs. Granted, this was not my idea or inspiration. I just followed through on suggestions made within the family.

We decided that the cost of fixing a slow-moving, out-dated computer was probably not worth it. Besides, we have been doing very well without it for the past eight months or so. I think that it can officially be donated to someone for parts. But ... we did salvage the speakers for use upstairs. Only one of those speakers work, but half is better than none. Total cost? $00.00 Zero. Nothing.

The items left on the list will require actual money to fix or replace that which needs replacing. A car windshield (thankfully it cracked along the bottom); rotors for the front brakes (at least the brakes work); a kitchen phone (if you don't jiggle the offending cord, you probably won't get cut off ... besides, we have two other phones in the house); (eye) glasses (it was a luxury item anyway ... I can see good enough with my existing prescription); and a door frame for our garage door (even I can hip check the door open ... that is, if it managed to latch in the first place).

In the mean time, I am enjoying the challenge of fixing (or doing) something for nothing.

Organizing my son's tax papers took a day to accomplish; didn't cost a penny; and possibly saved him hundreds of dollars in bookkeeping charges.

I have closets full of unused items that I could amass for a garage sale in the spring or advertise for free on Kijiji.

I have a book to write and all that I need to do is make the time to do so.

I have notes and cards to send. I accomplished that yesterday and was just giving them some 'breathing room' (I printed off what I had done and was planning to have a second look at it this morning ... but then our cat threw up my work!?!!) ... once again, the only tangible cost was my time.

I have not sacrificed everything. I make room in the budget for that-which-is-important to me. But some of my greatest pleasures come from making something out of nothing.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Do it NOW!

If you are thinking of someone ... call them; email; send off a note. Don't put it off. If they are in your thoughts, let them know. Do it now.

If you think that someone could use a little care package ... act on it. Whether it is a batch of cookies; a pot of soup; a beverage of their choice. What ever it is that crosses your mind? Follow through on that whim. Do it now.

If you think someone could use some company ... drop by. Make yourself available to do whatever it is that you can do for someone who is struggling. If it is uncomfortable, do it anyway. You'll never know the difference your presence could make. Do it now.

Is there a small favor you could bestow upon someone that could help lighten their load? Running an errand; shovelling a walk; picking up some groceries. Assistance in any capacity to lighten the load of someone who is carrying far too much on their shoulders is appreciated. Just do it. Now.

Make gatherings with friends and family a habit. Yes, sorrow and loss bring us together. But wouldn't you rather have an arsenal of memories when times are light and happy? Don't delay. Make plans to gather those close to you whenever you can.

I remember how adamantly I felt when we tried to gather friends and family together for one of Mom's milestone birthdays. The birthday was simply an excuse. The true reason we gathered, was celebrate the life, friendships and relationships that Mom has built throughout her lifetime.

Some people's religious beliefs prevented them from attending this celebration of life. While the honoree was alive and able to enjoy it. Yet ... their religion would allow them to go to her funeral. There is something terribly, terribly wrong with that.

Celebrate, do and be all that you can be every day. We don't know what life has in store for us tomorrow. So don't delay. You will never regret what you have done. You will only regret that which you did not do. Do it now.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cat Hair

I wandered into the kitchen this morning. As I greeted the day, I was busy 'fluffing' my hair and doing my best to make my bed-head-look disappear without wetting my head (it didn't happen).

As I did so, our cat came up from downstairs and greeted me with a meow.

He did his morning hair fluffing as I did mine.

He shook his whole body (I love watching his full-body shake, because he shakes so hard that his two front paws lift off the floor). And poof! Perfect hair!!

His hair is sleek, black and shiny. He never needs a hair cut. And he has never had a bad hair day (minus the days that my Second Son thought it was humorous to dab some peanut butter on the top of our cat's head and have the dogs lick it off).

We pet his hair backwards and muss it up a little. It never lasts. One little shake and his hair is as perfect as it was to start with.

He is graying a little. But he looks so distinguished.

When he moved in with us, he had a grand total of about seven white hairs on his underbelly. He has substantially more than seven hairs now. But they look perfect on him.

No maintenance hair. It is something that I have been craving for so long! Then I look at our cat and see that he has what I've always wanted.

What do you suppose a hairdresser would have to say if I asked if they could give me a cat-hair-cut?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Coming Up Blank

Usually as I make my way through the morning, I have a few thoughts drifting through my mind and by the time I sit down in front of this blank screen, my fingers have a story to tell. Not this morning. I'm coming up empty.

I'm empty. But I'm full ... I am satisfied and content. I am peaceful and accepting of where I am at at this moment.

Heaven knows there are many areas of my life where I should be striving to do more and be more. But for this moment in time ... who I am? Is enough.

And for this morning? This is all that I have got. I am coming up blank. But it is enough.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Difference a Phone Call Can Make

I was ready, willing and able to sit in 'idle' mode this morning.

I didn't have work lined up for today. Lately, if I don't know where I am going to work the night before (more often than not), I don't end up working at all the next day.

That has been my unfortunate reality since I flipped the calendar page into the new year.

Whether I am scheduled to work or not, I get up at the same time. I get ready for the day, despite the fact that I don't know if I will be called in to work. I go through my morning routines and I am ready to be out the door and headed to work by 7:30 each morning. Then I wait for the phone to ring.

6:30 to 7:00 is often the time the Automated Dispatch System calls (if it is going to call); 7:00 to 7:30 is usually when a live person from our Human Resource Department will call (if they call); 7:30 to 8:00 is when I can expect any last minute changes to what I have been told between 6:30 and 7:30.

If the phone remains quiet throughout that time frame ... I can usually count on having (at least) the morning off. And more likely than not, the afternoon as well.

So when the phone rang at 6:33 this morning, I had a feeling that I would be heading out the door an hour later. I was right.

I don't love the uncertainty about this job. It's a challenge to 'psyche myself up' for the day ... when I have no idea what the day will bring. And that's the easy part.

The real challenge is the variable pay cheque. I don't know long I can afford to work like this. I hope something changes soon, though I highly suspect this is my fate until next fall.

I could be wrong. I hope that I am. All that I hope for during this Time of Great Uncertainty ... is for the phone to ring on a daily basis (preferably the night before). If I work steadily ... I can make this work. If I don't?? I'm going to have to dig deep to find out where I need to go from here.

Oh .. the difference a phone call can make as to how the rest of a day unfolds.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Holiday Destinations

I just found out that one of my cousins is setting out on vacation soon. Destination? Family. A daughter on the coast; and a sister in the U.S.

I woke up this morning with my cousin's holiday on my mind. Oh ... to be able to pick up and take off on such an adventure!!

I remember well, the last few times that my world came crashing in upon me. I needed to keep myself occupied and distracted from life-as-I-used-to-know-it. I took off on several little 'adventures' during those periods of my life.

I was running away from life at home. But I was moving towards friends and family.

A day trip with friends; an overnight visit with a cousin; and a weekend with My Youngest. More recently, a few day trips to visit with my sisters; and a solo holiday to distance myself from 'life' ... but it was a weekend where (once I reached where I was going) I was surrounded by everything I needed. Solitude; friends; and family.

Dream vacations for me have nothing to do with the destination. It is the people that I bring with me and the people that I see when I reach where I was headed. And sometimes? It is about the quietness that brings peace to my soul when I physically put some distance between myself and that-which-is-painful.

I meant so much more than meets the eye, when I wished my cousin "May this holiday be everything you need it to be". It is the kind of holiday that I have needed in the past. Even now that my past is behind me and I'm looking towards the future with hope and anticipation ... it is still the kind of holiday that I enjoy the most.

A holiday with family and friends as my destination is my favorite kind of holiday of all.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Icy Patch

I thought that I'd take a brisk after-supper walk to the mailbox last night. I gave myself ten minutes to run there and back ('House' was starting at 7:00) and I thought the extra push to walk (run) a little faster would maximize the effects of those ten minutes.

I started out at a healthy pace. I crossed the street and thought I would jog as long as I could. Then I held out just a little bit longer. I set a goal to push myself just a little harder so I was uncomfortable when I slowed down to a brisk walk.

I stopped running just short of my goal. A handful of steps after I stopped running, I hit an icy patch that was disguised by a light dusting of snow.

I went down. Hard. I didn't get up for a few seconds. The wind was knocked out of me and my letters flew out of my hands and into the snow around me.

When I got up, I knew something was going to hurt later on. At the time I didn't know if it would be my hand or my shoulder.

I kept walking, eventually brushed the snow off of me and made it to the mailbox. Mission accomplished. So I turned around and made my way home.

I decided to jog just a little (I was still trying to get home by 7:00). But I was pretty careful around any patches of snow that could be hiding another icy patch. I never did push myself as hard as I did before I went down.

The icy patches of life. We don't see them coming ... and WHAM!, we are down for the count.

If we are lucky we can get right back up on our feet, brush ourselves off and carry on. Other times, we may get up a little slower and have a bruise, a sprain or broken bone. Any time we can pick up and forge onward, we are blessed. What if ... what if you hit that patch and you didn't get up?

The last time I went for a long walk, the sidewalks were treacherous. You could see the ice. You could feel it with every step. I didn't fall. But I didn't enjoy the walk either. I didn't see any of the world around me because I was too focused on the icy conditions.

You can't go through life fearful of that which you don't see. You miss too much when you are worried about the hidden perils beneath your feet.

You can tread carefully, 'dress for the weather' and enjoy the walk despite the conditions. But you must keep 'walking'. Be mindful of the weather, but enjoy your stroll through life.

That's where I went wrong yesterday. I should have left the house five minutes earlier and simply savored the mild winter conditions and the lightly falling snow. I should have enjoyed the world around me instead of racing through the moment.

In all likelihood, I still would have hit that patch of ice. But I wouldn't have come home and wondered when I would start breathing normally again. The influx of heart activity plus breathing in cold, winter air was a shock to my system.

Once my lungs thawed out, my breathing returned to normal. My shoulder is a little stiff this morning, but that's pretty minor in the whole scheme of things.

This little tumble made me appreciate those who trek down these streets in the line of duty. Our paper, flyer and mail carriers. Those who must rely on their own two feet to get them where they need to go in a day. Kids who walk that route to school ...

There is so much to be enjoyed as we walk through the streets of our lives. We cannot live in fear. We should endeavor to appreciate the small moments along the way. That which we cannot predict ... it can happen to anyone. At any time. Nothing in life is guaranteed. But what kind of life would we live if we were fearful of that which we cannot see?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Two Boxes Down ...

I did it. I finally did it!

I conquered My Son's bookwork for the year 2011. His papers are organized, the numbers are tallied and I have summarized his year to the best of my ability. He is ready to go off to see the tax-man.

I am a bit of a perfectionist, so playing with numbers is a challenge that I rather enjoy. Right and wrong. Black and white. Checks and balances. And the ability to pack it all up in a box and put it behind you when you are done.

Conquering those boxes made me feel as though I had scaled a mountain.

In my life of unfinished business, it feels good to reach the summit from time to time. I forgot how good it feels.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Touched by an Angel

"A courageous and loving man went to his heavenly home to be with our Lord yesterday ..."

Ever felt an angel's breath in the gentle breeze?
A teardrop in the falling rain?
Hear a whisper amongst the rustle of leaves?
Or been kissed by a lone snowflake?
Nature is an angel's favorite hiding place.
~Terri Guillemets

A very good friend of mine lost her father yesterday.

Her only request was no food or flowers please. "Instead go give someone a hug, share a coffee with a friend, listen to the stories of a family member or just say thanks to a stranger.  My dad would have loved that and so do we."

I am powerless to do any more than to pass along her most fervent request. Please take my friend's words to heart today and treat the people you meet in your life with a smile, kindness and gratitude that her father lived. Every day.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

How Much is Too Much?

A blog author that I follow has recently announced her and her husband's decision to end their marriage. This is an author that has written through the challenges that they lived as their child confronted and survived cancer. More recently we have walked with her through her own personal recovery of massive strokes which she was not expected to survive.

I wholeheartedly understand where she is coming from when she says to withhold this information (about her marriage), after her readers have been with her as she walked through some of her darkest days, would feel dishonest. I believe that she will never know the difference she has made in many people's lives because she has had the ability to put in words, what so many others are feeling.

In every post that I have read, I have felt her honesty. I have not felt her vying for pity in any way, shape or form. I cannot ever recall her blaming anyone or anything for her struggles. Writing is her way of dealing. I get that. Because I feel exactly the same way.

I have a few personal rules that I try to adhere to when I write in a public forum.

I make every attempt to write truthfully and in a way (that if I am referring to another party), that party should not take offense to what I have written. Maybe they wouldn't like what they are reading ... but I do not throw out accusations. So if they are squirming, it would be because they recognize a truth that is uncomfortable to confront.

I do not write about something when my emotions are raw. Recently I shocked those who know me best, when they had been following my blog looking for clues as to how things were going with a specific situation. And they didn't see it coming. I truly felt like a success as a 'blog author' when I didn't cross the line and bring my personal life into public view before I had the opportunity to rationalize the situation and write about it without the emotions that I felt at the time.

I write carefully when referring to those who touch my life. I am liberal with compliments and focus on the positive traits of those close to me. When it comes to my children, I withhold a lot of information.

At one time, I wrote about My Oldest and his comment to me was, "You put that out for all the world to see??" I immediately removed the post. Within a day, he asked me to repost it. I had told 'his story' in a way that he had never been able to talk about and he wanted to share that with those that he trusted. He has followed my blog (intermittently) ever since ...

My Second Son reads this blog on a relatively regular basis. I believe that my honesty has opened the door to many conversations that we may have never had otherwise. He has read little stories about life-that-preceded him (or his memories) and felt an emotional tug. He tells me when something I have written touches him (positively and negatively). And I listen.

My Youngest doesn't really care about my ramblings at this point of his life. But from time to time, I will write a little bit about him and show it to him. And he quietly smiles. Sometimes I think that he doesn't think that I 'get' him. Until he reads what I  have written. Then there is a little sigh of relief that is evident, as his demeanor changes and I get the feeling that he knows I am listening after all.

I write honestly about my life. I am who I am ... and I cannot undo the past. So I write about it. I have come to terms with it and I appreciate the value in the lessons learned from the challenges that I have overcome.

While I was living some of my 'darkest days', I felt very alone. Now that the emotions are not acute, I feel that there is value in writing about some of those days ... on the chance that it could help someone feel less alone and validated in the emotions that they are coping with.

I once commented on a post that another blogger wrote about. I was so grateful for a broader understanding and compassion that was one of those 'unresolved issues' of my past. Yes, it brought back an acuteness of emotion within me as I recognized a truth that I was too young and naive to understand at the time I was living it. I read and fully comprehended what she wrote when I was in a position to fully understand it. She apologized for unearthing those emotions. I thanked her for it. I read what I needed to read ... when I needed to read it.

And that ... is why I write so much.

I will continue to write what I feel, when it moves me. It never ceases to amaze me when someone comments on a blog that I just about didn't publish. My brain to fingertip connection has come up with some posts that I have questioned. My subconscious mind seems to come out in my writing. So I will keep following my own unwritten rules. But I will continue to write honestly.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Back in the Saddle

I have worked three consecutive days this week. At the same school. I am booked to work there today as well. That is four out of five working days. It has been marvelous!!!

I have learned more in the past three days, than I did in the first two months at the first school I worked at.

Granted, there was a pretty steep learning curve going into my original school. I did not have a secretarial background. I took courses and had a determined 'I can figure this out' attitude. I took those tools and that was all that I was equipped with, when I walked into a brand new work environment where I didn't know the lay of the land, the rules or the expectations. So I'll give myself a bit of a break. For the first month.

Originally, I was not in an environment where I had the opportunity to grow. Since that time, I have felt a little bit like a bird who has been tossed out of his nest and forced given the freedom to fly.

It has been a frightening ride. But what I needed to learn is: how to think on my feet, become adaptable and to learn to rely on myself to find the answers. Yes, I have called around and found out what I needed to know. But the quest for the answer and figuring things out put that new found knowledge in a longer term memory block in my brain. The harder you have to work for an answer, the more likely you are to remember it.

Over the course of the past three months, I have been placed in situations where I thought I was in over my head. And I have succeeded.

I have heard little nuggets of positive feedback, so I know I'm headed in a good direction. I'm no different than a small child. I need some encouragement. Not false hope or illusions. Just tell me what I'm doing right. But also tell me what I'm doing wrong, so that I can fix it.

This week has felt like the ultimate turning point. I have been working in a high school, doing the job that I was originally hired to do. And I'm doing it!

Being tossed into a high school environment has been a little bit like getting back on the horse that tossed me off and kicked me while I was down.

Well! I got back on that horse and I'm headed where I want to go. And if that horse bucks me off again? I will get right back on and learn what I need to know to decrease the likelihood of letting it happen again.

"When you're young and you fall off a horse, you may break something. When you're my age, you splatter." ~ Roy Rogers

I am grateful that I didn't splatter.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Then There is Reality

I've been focusing a lot of energy on my hopes-and-dreams lately. And that is a good sign. Because I lose my ability to dream when my day-to-day reality is sucking all of the energy from me.

My reality feels pretty okay right now.

Work. That has been my greatest challenge. The story is long and old. Currently things are not ideal ... but they are inching their way to a better place. I see signs of things to come. When I work, I have been surrounded by positive energy and encouragement. The only thing that I could hope for, would be to work more consistently.

Friends. Oh my gosh! Friends!! I have surrounded myself with people lately. My outings usually consist of coffee &/or a meal and I am usually home within three hours or less. But it has been good for me to push myself out of the house and into the real world (among friends). Perhaps this month was a little over-the-top due to my lack of working days. Thankfully I did have a positive to outweigh the negative.

Family. Even though My Youngest quietly chided me about being out of the house so much (three nights in a row does not feel right in any capacity ... and it was after the third night that he voiced his thoughts), but we always have our nightly before-he-goes-to-sleep chat. I think he forgives me. I have had opportunities to visit with each of my older sons one-on-one. So all in all, my family life feels calm and content.

Quiet time. I suppose I have probably had too much quiet in my days. But that solitude served a purpose. It pushed me out of a thinking mode, into a doing mode. And that is a good thing. I like being alone with myself. Free falling thoughts and the ability to hear them without the chaotic background of life always brings me to a better place than I was when I started.

Finances. Into one's life, a little rain must fall. It seems inevitable that all things are not going to be ideal at the same time. So I am very grateful that the rest of my life feels in balance. It makes dealing with this one challenge a little easier to bear. I knew it was going to be a tough month. I expect this upcoming month will be more of the same. I have had a back-up contingency plan. I'm grateful that I didn't need it before. Because it is going to come in handy right about now.

In the past, this financial state of uncertainty would have taken an emotional toll. Logically, I know that things have to change. From some deep 'knowing' place, I feel that they will. In this state in between those two places, I can envision different solutions.

The logical answer would be to get a 12-month position within the school system that would bring income stability. The greater part of me hopes that I can find a way to make a 10-month position work for me. That has been my plan all along.

This is where my dream comes into play. If I can make this work. If I can find a way to earn an extra source of income doing something that I love to do ... and something that I can do anywhere ... the sky is the limit. At least as far as where I hope that I can go.

While my reality is perhaps not perfect, it is in a hopeful place. I am emotionally grounded in all things important. Family, friends, work and my state of mind are all in a very good spot. I am so well grounded, I have gained the ability to dream once again.

Each and every time I lose that ability to look into the future with hope and anticipation, I know that something in my life is dragging me down. My reality is in such a good place right now, that I have regained my wings.

Life is good.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Dream Garden

I have been 'planting a few seeds' this past little while. Out of the many seeds strewn, one has peeked its head out of the soil. At this point, I have no idea if it will survive or not.

I dare not pin all of my hopes on one seed. I have to give it a little bit of time to grow on its own and gently water as needed. And wait.

I must remember that I have planted many other seeds and one never knows how long one may remain dormant before it springs to life.

I must keep planting. I must look to diversify my garden and try different seeds in different locations. One may take root where I least expect it. I'll never know if I don't try.

But this one seed that has peeked its head above the soil has brought hope. Another seed made me consider possibilities that made me believe that if I follow this path, expand my ideas and shoot for the moon ... it could enable other dreams to come true.

What if ... this seed one small piece of the puzzle? What if ... I keep finding other pieces that fit? What if ... two of my dreams collide and create one big picture? What if ... this is just one small piece of the garden of my dreams?

~ Walt Disney