Monday, April 30, 2012

Walking Through the Fire

I pushed myself out of the house tonight to attend to an evening sponsored by My Place of Employment.

I have over-committed myself lately and I have been allowing myself to feel overwhelmed by the unknowns of my future.

I let triggers of past events supersede common sense today and I came home with my confidence level at a (recent) all time low.

I had absolutely no desire to push myself into yet another new, uncomfortable experience tonight. Going to this event alone and walking into a room of 1,000 people to find my table and sit with the staff that I barely know was not exactly high on my wish list.

Yet ... I had a feeling that I would gain far much more by attending this event, than by staying home and retreating within myself.

And I was right.

The evening was perfection from the moment 'Go'!

I met up with someone I knew as I walked from my car to the event. It was so good to see a familiar face and we chatted easily as we walked several blocks to our destination.

Our staff was all sitting together at three separate tables. I was comfortable from the moment I sat down and conversation came easily.

Supper was divine. I don't relish the idea of fine dining and foods that I don't recognize. Our meal was simple (chicken and vegetables), yet elegant in the way it was presented. It tasted as good as it looked. The dessert ... was decadent!

Then came them moment we were all waiting for. Our keynote speaker. I hate to admit that I knew little (if anything) about our much anticipated speaker. He inspired me in ways I haven't been inspired for a very long time.

He stated simple facts. Yet they spoke to the heart and soul of me.

He talked of the basic needs of human beings. Once our basic needs have been met (food, shelter and clothing), we all have one universal need. We need to matter ...

As I have spent the better part of this year trying to find my way in this new career, I have felt lost. In my position as a substitute secretary, I have moved from location to location. I have not felt like I have made a difference. I have not felt grounded. I have felt 100% dispensable in my role. It has been very unsettling.

But the tides are turning. I have a half time position until the end of June. I will return to the same school 2.5 days out of 5 for the next two months.

I was invited to this event tonight by the principal of this school. I felt as though I sat among friends tonight. They have made me feel as though I mattered since the moment I walked through their doors two weeks ago.

This is a pivotal time in my new career. I have been given an opportunity. A chance to walk through the challenges that defeated me in the past and persevere.

It feels like I am walking through fire at times. I could get burned. But if I keep on walking and don't stop when the heat is on ... I will be okay.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

'What I Have' vs 'What I Need'

I used to have so much to say here. Lately, it has been a struggle. It feels like I am running out of words.

In reality, there are no fewer words, thoughts or ideas than there have ever been. It is a matter of having the ability to speak them aloud and bounce them off of people.

I have a lot of social interaction in my days. Work. Home. Friends. Family.

My mornings aren't long enough any more. My days are full. I can't stay awake long enough in the evenings to cocoon myself in that quiet place that I enjoy.

And now I must venture out of a life that already feels too busy and make myself available to work evenings and weekends. This is not the goal I had set out for myself when I changed career paths.

What will I have left at the end of a day when my day becomes longer than I want it to be?

I feel greedy. I don't want to give up the time that I have left over at the end of my days. But I don't see another answer.

I have added a dimension that I need into my life. Friends and family. I don't want to lose what I have. Earning enough to pay the bills must be a priority.

Marrying for money is one alternative ...

... I guess I'll have to keep working.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

You Can Fool Some of the Cats Some of the Time ...

My Youngest as - 'Tabaqui - the jackal from "The Jungle Book"

Andre - our cat "Who is that masked man ('Tabaquie' - see above)???"

Friends again ... My Youngest was hesitant to approach our cat until Andre figured out he knew the boy underneath the makeup!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Making a Difference ... Making Memories

In two months, My Youngest child will graduate from elementary school. The fall will bring a brand new set of challenges in a brand new world.

He has quietly made a difference this past year ...

His goal was to have perfect attendance for his 8th year of school. One of his classmates has had perfect attendance since Grade 4. My Youngest decided to make this year his year of perfect attendance. And (to date) he has.

In December, he wanted to buy a 'Candygram' (a fundraiser for his school) for everyone in his class. It was simply something he wanted to do because this would be his last opportunity to do so. He paid for the gift out of his own money. Acknowledgement and attention weren't the motivating factors. He simply wanted to surprise his class. And he did.

Last term, he brought home a report card that was hard to beat. I complimented him on his accomplishments, improvements and the comments his teacher made. Our 3-Way conference with the teacher was an easy conversation. He couldn't be heading into high school on a better note.

He has simply been a 'good citizen' throughout his elementary years. We chatted about some of the ways he has been a positive influence for those in his school world. He told me that he tried to be a good role model for our daycare family throughout the years that I babysat. And after that time, it just kind of 'stuck'. It has become second nature to him to treat others with kindness and to be the best he can be.

Today, I am have made arrangements at work so that I can attend his last performance in an elementary school play (a musical "The Jungle Book"). He knew from the onset, that he did not want a singing part. But he wanted to participate and has a speaking role ("Tabaqui" - the jackal). He thoroughly enjoyed acting in the play last year (he was "Prince Charming") and wanted to include this final performance in his list of accomplishments for his graduating year.

He is one person. He has made his way quietly through his years at school. He makes a small difference to a a great number of people. He realizes that this year is one that he won't get back and he is living it in the way that he has set out to do. He is making memories that he will carry with him into the years ahead.

When kids go off to live their life at school, they become unique and separate entities from their family. They make their own way and create their own memories.

My Youngest is wise enough to realize that he is the one who can make this year count. I am fortunate that he shares these little thoughts with me and he has quietly made me realize how important that it is that I am witness to some of the memories that he is making.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Words Will Come ...

My head is all over the place these days. Life is busy. Life is good. But I miss the quiet place in my mind where 'words that matter' come from.

My thoughts are a-flutter and I can't seem to settle on one dominant theme to carry me through a blog post. Do you want an example of the free flowing thoughts in my mind at the moment?
  • A friend that I want to go and visit. Visions of her and her mom are prevalent in my thoughts this morning. I must call her.
  • Another friend that is undergoing her second dose of chemo this morning. Warm and healing thoughts are going out to her.
  • An aunt (Mom's sister) that is in the hospital waiting for tests and results. Mom is concerned ... my thoughts are also with her.
  • Work. I am challenged in my new temporary position and loving it. I am booked to work today at a different school. My week is almost full. This is good. But it leaves little down-time to follow through on 'all of the above'.
  • My second job. I live in fear of that phone call that will dictate where my life goes from here. Working evenings and weekends is not something that I am excited about. They were supposed to call on Thursday. They didn't. I should call. But I am busy working ...
  • My writing. I have columns that I am now responsible for. They have expectations that I have the ability to live up to. But not right now. At this moment I can't pin my thoughts down into one cohesive story line. My mind is blocked and the words aren't coming. I thought this would pass. But it isn't.
  • The family history book I am perpetually putting off. I need to discipline myself. I need to do this! One page at a time...
  • Which brings me back to work. I am responsible for the bi-weekly school newsletter. This responsibility came with learning a new Microsoft Publisher program; the need to be creative with titles and make the content exciting and easy to read; and proofread, proofread, proofread! My first edition went out late yesterday afternoon. It was a struggle. Next time will be better. I know I can do this but I'm freezing up.
  • Home. I need to find the desire and ambition to wash a window or two or seven; clean that which doesn't show; and pull out the fridge to retrieve the carrot that now lives there thanks to our kitten-like-cat (who decided the carrot made a pretty good puck was brushing up on his hockey skills).
  • Exhaustion. As long as I keep moving, I am full of energy. The moment I sit still I fall into a deep catatonic state of sleep which paralyzes me (thus the lack of cleaning and writing!).
  • A stomach which is sensitive to all of the above. I missed supper last night and by the time I got home my stomach was hurting. I ate and then it started cramping. I woke up this morning and fed it and it is stirred up by my nerves as I face my work day; the possibility of receiving a call which will initiate my evening/weekend work; and all that I should be doing with the hours left over in this day.
Don't get me wrong. I am content and happy with the changes that are transpiring in and around my life. Life outside of my home and head has become busy. I am engaged in the act of living these days. Family, friends and people in general are more important than the little thoughts that I think and the quiet little life that I'm accustomed to living.

But I do miss that quiet little oasis within my mind. Solitude grounds me. I need to make room for my quiet place and the words will come ...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Living a Weekend to the Fullest

I don't know how long I have before I will be scheduled to work at my second job. I was expecting a call last week but it didn't come. So I have been making the most of my evenings and weekends while I have them.

This past weekend was pretty much ... perfect.

I woke up Friday morning with a purpose. I wrote a list of things to do first thing in the morning. If I didn't get called into work, I had a plan.

I didn't get to work, but I kept busy.

I had two emails that I wanted to send. That was the most important order of business so I did that first thing. Then I picked up the phone.

One call led to the next ... and the next ... and the next. One conversation would remind me that I wanted to talk to another person. That conversation reminded me that there was someone else that I should call. One forgotten birthday reminded me of another missed birthday so I called that person too. I talked on the phone all morning.

Then came my errands. I didn't have to do a lot but it filled the rest of my afternoon. By the time my car was turned around and headed home, I realized that I was ending my errand-day at the same time that I would have ended my work day. It was a very good feeling to fill my 'working hours' with things that mattered.

After supper, I was out running one last quick errand and I found myself a block away from a friend's home. I dropped by and we had a nice little visit. It was a perfect end to a perfect day.

Saturday was much the same. Less people, but one thing led to the next and the next and the next. The day was filled up with an appointment; a few phone conversations; an afternoon class; a visit and back home to enjoy the evening.

I couldn't believe it when Sunday unfolded in the same fashion. I had a feeling the day could slip away on me so I started my day by coloring my hair. The phone rang and I chatted until the color had to be rinsed out of my hair. I showered and the moment I was done, breakfast was ready and waiting for me. A leisurely breakfast and coffee transformed into an afternoon with a friend and a visit with my aunt before I made my way home again. Supper was a joint effort and came together effortlessly and was a pretty tasty end to a most flavorful weekend.

I had a few things that I wanted to accomplish last night. Most evenings I would have succumbed to exhaustion before I completed my mission. But I got my second wind after My Youngest went to bed and finished what I set out to do before I called it a day.

Unfortunately I didn't do any cleaning or make headway in some of the unfinished projects I have around here. But I lived each moment of the weekend to the fullest. I won't look back and regret weekends like this one.

It was a weekend where every moment counted.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Good Things Come ...

It is said that "good things come to those that wait". In my experience, it is more than just waiting.

Good things are all around you. Even in the darkest of times there are small miracles that make a difficult moment more tolerable. A moment of joy mixed in with a day of sorrow can make all the difference in the world.

Good things that matter  -  a quiet mind, a happy heart, a life of peace and joy, people that matter and a sense of feeling safe and secure in your world -  are the things worth fighting for. Material possessions come and go. Every human being deserves inner peace and harmony. Find yours. Fight to keep it in your life.

Good things are relative. In a time of joy, it is human nature to look beyond the moment and strive to bring more into your life.

In challenging times, look outside yourself and find a lifeline. Something to hold onto and pull you back to safety. Faith and the belief that there is a Power greater than yourself to pull you through the moment. You never know when the tides will turn. You don't know what is around the next corner. Just take it "one day at a time". "Let go and let God". These are the quotes that got me through my darkest moments.

Never give up!

Because good things come ... eventually. They really do.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Like a Rock!

I sat down on the couch last night with a book in my hand. I woke up at 6:10 p.m. and decided that I may as well get ready for bed because my exhaustion factor was high.

I woke up at 7:00 p.m. and (sort of) watched 'Grey's Anatomy'. Since I was in a dozing state throughout the hour, I flipped the channel to the second airing of the same episode at 8:00.

My head woke up at an unknown time and all I could think is "Boy, that TV is loud!" My body was in a dream-state kind of paralysis. I couldn't move.

My eyes woke up at 10:00 p.m., just in time to say good night to My Youngest and then (finally!) I went to bed. For the night.

I have absolutely no memory of tossing, turning, moving, thinking or dreaming for the seven hours that followed. None! I never sleep that soundly. Never!!

My eyes/head/body hopped out of bed a half hour later, ready to face the day! I feel keen and ready to take on the day with a gusto.

My head has been busy lately. It finally rested last night. I slept like a rock. And it was wonderful.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Benchmark - "A standard by which something can be measured or judged"

The benefit of writing things down is that you have a record of where you have been, the road you travelled and where you are at. As you go through the motions of life sometimes you forget how far you have come because the evolution is so gradual.

Often I look back and discover the origin of an idea that grew. A wistful thought that became a dream and a dream that became a reality. Small goals that became something bigger than they were when they started.

I begin to recognize patterns. Cycles that I seem to keep repeating. Same lessons, different people and scenarios. Life keeps presenting itself to me in different fashions until I learn what I need to know and move on.

I remember where I was. I look at where I am. I reflect upon the learning curve that has evolved. And I try, try again.

Oooo! What a Week!!

I have been too busy (occupied) to write this week. Things are happening in my little world ...

I worked at a most wonderful school on Monday. The expectations were laid out in black and white. I was told what to do and how to do it. The day was filled with work and responsibilities that I have never been given before. The staff were wonderful and they welcomed me with open arms. It was a very good day.

I came home from work to find a message from a (part-time) job that I applied for last Friday. They asked if I could come in for an interview. I listened to the message seven hours after they left it, but I immediately picked up the phone and called. I arrived for my interview ten minutes later.

I got the job. I went for my orientation at 7:00 Tuesday morning. My new boss will call on Thursday (today) to set up a time for my training.

I was scheduled to work at the same school again today. I found out on Monday, that they had a half-time secretary position that needed to be filled. From now, until the end of June. I found out today, that I got the job!! I get to stay!!!

I will be working there for more than 20 days, so my hourly pay rate will go up to the next step. So I get a raise, to boot!

Could the day get better? Yes.

I got home to find a cheque from my insurance company to reimburse me (in part) for my orthotics. I was expecting $200.00; I received $420.00 (I guess I should ask them to mail me an up-to-date booklet, but it is fun to be surprised)!! I was going to be $100.00 short to cover this month's bills. I needed $90.00 to pay for a sign language class that I start on Saturday. This little unexpected bonus covered what I needed and gave me a $30.00 bonus (which will cover the cost of the text book required for my course)!

I now have a guaranteed half-time wage. I will have a part-time job. I am still on the substitute list so I hope to get called to work on the days I'm not scheduled at my new school. My work situation is looking good. I still cannot count my chickens before they hatch but I'm starting to think of names for them!

Yesterday, I read an article that I had written about a month ago. I felt as though I had hit a wall. Specifically, I pinpointed my job, my finances and my feet as the three areas in need of improvement. Little over one month later, my job, my finances and my feet are all headed in a much better direction.

I have been feeling like I have been spinning my wheels lately. Somewhere deep, deep down inside of me I felt that the tides had to change one day. I just had no idea when.

All of these good things are very reminiscent of this past fall. I am starting two new jobs once again. I will be working with new people. I am starting from scratch. Again. But with one very important benefit. My role as a substitute has given me a lot of experience in being 'new'. Let's hope that pulls me through these transitional weeks ahead ...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Getting What You Ask For

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”
~Dalai Lama

Maybe that is why it can be a little bit frightening when you do get what you ask for.

Have you ever felt that way???

Monday, April 16, 2012

Brave New Ideas

My Middle Son has told me on more than one occasion to keep my mind wide open and dare to explore all of the possibilities that this world has to offer. I thought that I was doing that ... until he reminded me again a few days ago.

Saturday afternoon I took my blinders off and I saw things from a different perspective. A few new ideas were born.

Which led to Sunday. I tossed the ideas out into the world to hear a little feedback. Interruptions ruled the day and though I initiated the process, I didn't have the time to follow through.

I woke up this morning and wondered why I keep doing this to myself. Why can't I finish what I start before I start testing new water again?? Oh. Right. It's because I need to find employment to supplement two months of unpaid summer vacation. That's why.

Then there is the "Twenty Seconds of Insane Bravery" quote that is taunting me. I know that I have to keep pushing myself out of what is comfortable. I know what I could do to something that terrifies me. But there is a cost factor which has me cooling my heels.

I'm not giving up on the ideas that were born this weekend. I am letting them brew a little bit. I would pursue them this morning if I wasn't headed off to work.

Twenty seconds of insane bravery. The email is written. All I have to do is hit 'Send'.

P.S. I hit the send button. I received this message:
SMTP Error: Could not connect to SMTP host. localhost:25
Sorry! There was an error handling your form submission.
If at first you don't succeed ... try, try again. I resent the email via an alternate route and I await a response.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Good Hair Story

Our neighborhood hair salon closed several years ago. I missed the convenience of being able to walk over and get my hair done. Those were the days that preceded many year's worth of bad hair stories. When I received a flyer announcing a new hairdresser was setting up shop in our neighborhood I was quietly elated.

I called on a whim yesterday afternoon and they squeezed me in late in the day. They have been open ten days ... and they squeezed me in! Yay for this brave new entrepreneur!!! I was happy for this new business before I set foot in their shop. And they impressed me every step after that.

I walked in and immediately noticed the renovations that had taken place since the last time I was there. It was simple but modern. The color schemes were all tied together and the mirrors were adorned with positive thinking messages, a few pictures that looked like they were tailor made for the spot, more positive words framed at the back of the shop, a cozy waiting/coffee spot. Someone that cared, put this look together. Simple but welcoming.

Then came the snippets of conversations. The lady I assumed was the owner was gushing about how absolutely over-the-moon-ecstatic she felt. One client was getting her nails done and her neighboring hair stylist was so interested and pleased at the overall effect of her choice of nail decoration: "The colors are beautiful! They match your shirt!" The other stylist wanted to sneak a peek at the new set of nails before they walked out the door and was full of compliments.

Compliments galore! Positive energy! The place oozed happiness!!

My stylist and I segued into a conversation about a negative work place that each of us had experienced and how we didn't realize how bad it was until we got out of it. It was at this point that my stylist told me how excited and happy she is to go to work each day in this environment.

Happy Staff = Happy Customers. It is as simple as that.

I not only entrust my hair with these people, I want to work with them. Now that ... is service!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

20 Seconds

"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."
 ~ Quote from "We Bought a Zoo"

  • Pick up the phone and dial it
  • Strike up a conversation with someone you don't know
  • Sign up for a course
  • Send a quick email to let someone know you are thinking of them
  • Invite! Invite! Invite! Invite people into your life
  • Smile at a stranger
  • Compliment sincerely and often
  • Make a decision and follow through
Twenty seconds of bravery. Anyone can be brave for twenty seconds ... can't they? Twenty seconds. It could change your life.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Last fall I felt a dire need to run away. Away from home. Away from work. Away from life. I felt the need to hop in the car and put some physical distance between me and my troubles.

I followed through with my desire. I didn't run far or for long but I did some healing and strengthened my inner reserves and headed back home ready to take on the world again.

Lately I've been feeling a little bit of that same feeling. With a difference. I didn't need or want to run away. The words "I want to run towards" resonated in my mind. But I talked myself out of voicing that sentiment. I simply stated that I wanted to go and spend a day with myself.

Today was that day. I was in a bit of a funk last night and I couldn't pull myself out of the doldrums. So I sat and scribbled a list of some of the things I could do with the day that I was going to call my own. It was enough to keep me occupied if I left the house and felt I had no where to go. As it turns out, I didn't need that list.

My day started with talking with a friend which was the starting point of a day that I could have never planned.

One friend led to another. I talked, dropped by and visited with a small group of friends. A friend at a time.

Each friend I spoke to inspired me. I felt energized with each visit. Each friend held a small piece of what I didn't even realize that I needed today.

I have had such a negative force field around me lately that I have refrained from calling, emailing or initiating visits with people. I haven't wanted to spread my negativity ... so I kept it to myself.

Today I was driven by something different. I needed to be a friend. In giving a little piece of myself and my time, I received so much more.

Today I ran towards my friends. It was exactly where I needed to be.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Feet!

I am enjoying 'Day #2' with my New Feet - the name that I have dubbed for my newly acquired orthotics ('orthotics' sounds so 80-year-old).

I have been instructed to wean myself into my New Feet gradually. If any discomfort develops, we want to know if it is originating from my New Feet; not any sudden changes I've made to my lifestyle. Darn! There goes my plan of going full tilt with a new exercise regimen. 

He still suggested that I take my New Feet on a short walk at first and see how everything feels. Then work my way up. Baby steps.

I am so certain that this is a step in the right direction. First, I will get my New Feet broken in ... then I will break into a life of movement again.

I won't be breaking out pretty footwear for anytime soon. But footwear that doesn't irritate my tender tootsies works for me.

My feet were holding me back from too many things that brought joy to my life. Dancing! Zumba! Exercise and movement of any sort has been thwarted. At first because of my feet. Then my feet became an excuse.

No more excuses!! It is time to take these New Feet and change the direction of my life.

Have feet, will travel!!! Onward ...

Spring is in the Air

I love being out in the wide open spaces this time of year. The Canada geese are making their way north. To me, it is as exhilarating as watching the jets make their way to Our Fine City for an airshow. It is a sight to behold.

The sky was teeming with geese in V-formation (or finding their way into formation) throughout a country drive that I took the other day. The moment I saw the tell tale signs of black dots in the sky, you could see various formations in and around each other. I quietly wondered if there was anyone in the flock squawking "Are we there yet?" as they made their way north.

Then we spotted a bunch circling at a lower altitude. When our sights were lowered to the ground, you could see that a body of water was abundant with those that had already arrived to 'fuel up' for the remainder of their trip for the day. I wondered if anticipated these family and 'home town' reunions and caught up with the events of their Southern winter vacations.

I enjoy watching the ever-changing formation as the job of 'head goose' was handed over from one to the next. Is it a positive transition as one takes over the lead to make the job easier for the one who had been breaking the wind and making it easier for those behind him? Or is it a test of endurance and a macho contest as each tries to outdo the other??

We came upon some snow and speckle belly geese that (we found out later) had already reached their destination as they took up residence in some farmer's field. It was hard to believe that these wonders of nature were not welcomed with open arms as they create havoc with our man-made world and our efforts to make a living at the crops that are sewn. If only they could be kindly guided to a nature preserve where they would find a warm welcome. I tend to think that Man's ways will not be that of a Disney story, as they discourage the presence of the geese that travelled so far to an unwelcome reception.

When my attention was not in the sky, it was drawn to the abundance of sloughs. I was rewarded when I found the green head of the male mallard swimming beside a less noticeable mottled brown female. As I noticed the couples that paired up, I couldn't help but fast forward to a time in the near future where we will find a family of ducklings paddling along behind their mom.

Spring. A time of renewal. That which lied dormant all winter comes back to life. Those that left the cold northern climate return. Birth, hope and renewal.

Ahhh ... spring is in the air again. Be it ever so humble, there is no place like 'home'. Welcome back!

Hanging in the Balance

A little while ago, I wrote about my favorite place to be: "The Place Between Yes and No". May I add an addendum to that? My least favorite place to be is "Hanging in the Balance".

It is the place where you stick your neck out and ask, suggest or attempt to change your destiny. And the answer is "Nothing". Absolutely nothing.

Where do you go from there?

I asked the questions. I received the response "I'm very busy right now, but I will answer you later". That was over two weeks and two quiet reminders later.

I have submitted some resumes/applications to a few job positions that could enable me to continue to follow the path that I'm on. It is not surprising that I have heard nothing. But it is disappointing.

I even applied to be a volunteer for an upcoming event in our city. Even though my application was received on the last day of their deadline, would it be too difficult to set up an automatic reply that stated the positions were filled and thank me for my application? Or a 'thanks-but-no-thanks' response? Something? Anything??

As Easter Monday (a holiday for some, but not all) turned into a regular work-day-Tuesday, I thought that a few responses would roll in. That the phone would ring. That I would hear something. Tuesday has turned into Wednesday and I am still waiting.

I can accept that no response is the answer "No" from a position with a well-defined deadline. I wish that on-line applications were acknowledged with a response: "We have no openings at this time, but will keep your application on file." I know that resumes are accepted with the proviso, "Don't call us, we'll call you". I know that people are busy and return phone calls are not high on the urgency list. But people ... please give me something!

I may not find the answers that I am seeking, but "No" or "I cannot guarantee what the future holds" gives me something to work with.

Hanging in the balance is depleting me. I didn't have much to start with. I know that "no answer" really means that I must take the reins of my life and move forward. In some direction. In any direction. Standing still is really not an option (but if I got the answer I was hoping for, I could afford to idle just a while longer).

I am stuck out here in no-man's land. In a place where there are no answers. Only more questions.

The biggest question I face? "What now??"

Sunday, April 8, 2012

No Sweat

“Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.”
~ Richard Carlson

"Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson. Remember the book and the common place phrase that followed it? I have perfected the art. I don't sweat at all anymore.

As I was tidying up the house yesterday for company the words 'I just don't care' wafted in and out of my brain with great regularity. We don't live in a pig sty. The house is tidy, everything has its place, things are organized and it is quite simply good enough.

I haven't washed the blinds, scrubbed the windows or cleaned all the nooks and crannies around here for longer than I care to put in writing. I'm a clean-as-I-go kind of girl. If I see dirt, I deal with it. I just don't play hide and seek with it any more. If it's hiding, it could be a while before I take my turn and start seeking.

I used to deal with clutter on a regular basis. Now? I cull as I go; make a pile; and when the pile gets too high I make it disappear. I don't open a closet door just for fun and think 'I'm going to declutter this today'. That just doesn't happen any more.

I used to work hard enough to break a sweat. I used to dance and exercise hard enough be wringing wet. I even used to break a sweat if I started thinking too hard! Now? I don't sweat. At all.

Have I gone too much the other way? I used to be obsessive about this stuff. I used to drive myself (and the people around me) crazy with my standards and expectations.

A friend painted a picture in my mind that may explain (or excuse) this phenomenon. She said to think of a pendulum. I used to function on the far arc of that pendulum's swing when I was obsessive about work; cleaning and organizing. She suggested that all that has happened, is that (for now) the pendulum has swung to the complete opposite end of that spectrum. In time, I will settle in a place that I like to call a 'happy medium'.

I'm coming back to a new normal. I'm just enjoying hanging out where I'm at right now.

“The key to a good life is this:
If you're not going to talk about something during the last hour of your life,
then don't make it a top priority during your lifetime.”

~Richard Carlson

Friday, April 6, 2012

Yes Woman!

It is time to start saying 'Yes!' to life again.

I have fallen into a bad habit of saying (thinking) 'I would, but ...' I seem to have an excuse, an alibi or a very good reason to say 'No' to too many things lately.

I would exercise, but I my feet are a mess. I would enrol in a Zumba class (despite my bad feet), but I can't spend the money right now. I would apply for a different job, but I think I'm on the right path with the job I have. I would sign up for a paper route, but I don't want to be tied down six days of the week.

I should clean the house, but if I don't get started first thing in the morning my day is wasted (what kind of an excuse is that?!?!). I should walk the dog, but the other dog would be jealous. I should get busy on the book I'm 'writing', but I don't want to unless I have the perfect writing conditions. I should write up an arsenal of columns, but I have no inspiration ...

Why do I not have any inspiration?? Because I have stopped living my life!

I have allowed my current situation to envelope and deplete me. I have waves of energy but they pass before I act on them. Or I quit before I get energized with the idea of completing the job before me. Everything overwhelms me these days. There is too much to do and I have stopped taking those first steps to start the job, let alone complete it.

When you live a life of saying 'No' or finding an excuse to almost any opportunity that comes your way, you stop living.

This morning I called a friend that I have been thinking about (but not following through and calling) lately. Our conversation inspired and motivated me out of my computer chair and back into the world of the living (at least for this morning).

After I hung up the phone, I put my name in to be a volunteer for an upcoming event. I applied to be a paper/flyer carrier (but qualified that I would like to share a route or be available to cover holidays for another carrier). I printed off another resume and cover letter which I will deliver next week. I have a free fitness pass sitting beside me that I am going to use.

Maybe I don't have to say 'Yes' to absolutely everything that comes my way.  But I can work to eliminate the word 'but'. Saying 'Yes' may be scary, but saying 'No' depletes me.

Saying 'Yes' may be frightening but once you get beyond that, 'yes' opens doors and invigorates you. Getting past the fear is the hardest part. Once you overcome that hurdle, 'yes' can be intoxicating.

Go for it!! Say 'Yes' to life today .... and see what a difference it makes.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I love where I work. One of the benefits of my job as a substitute secretary for the schools is that I get to work in a vast number of schools across the city.

I am in awe of the teachers, principals, EA's (Educational Assistants), counsellors, caretakers and the vast population of the school system that makes everything work.

I work in the office so I see, hear and feel only a small portion of what transpires in a day but it makes an impact.

I hear teachers working together with everyone on their team. I hear administrators (principals, vice principals) encouraging, listening and available to staff and students alike. It feels like a family working together for the sake of their children. Doing the best that they can within the confines of a school day.

I hear calmness in their voices despite what is happening around them. I feel 'the love' as they talk, counsel and listen to the children. I see how excited the kids are as they start their day and can't wait to tell their school family what is new in their world.

No ... it isn't a perfect world. But it isn't for lack of effort. I wish that these kids knew how much goes on behind the scenes. Do the parents and students realize how hard their family at school is working to find the best solutions for them as they makes every attempt to make the educational experience a positive one?

It takes quite a team to make everything work. I am so grateful for the opportunity to sit back and absorb the wonder of what it takes to get through a day in the life of these leaders.

A day at school is so much more than the academics of learning. I am grateful for each day that I get to go to work and learn. I am inspired.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The High Cost of Instability

The phone rang at 6:31 on Sunday night. It was the 'Automatic Dispatch System' from work. I got a call to go to work Monday morning.

I went to bed Sunday night knowing that I would be working the next day. Knowing is kind of a relative word in my world. Planning to work is a better way to describe it. Because things change. And they did.

Just when I thought it was too late in the morning to get a cancellation, the phone rang again. But the voice on the other end asked if I could work at a different school than the one I was originally called to. Sure! And so I went.

While I was at work on Monday, they asked if I could come back on Tuesday. Definitely! So I went to sleep two nights in a row, knowing planning to work the next day.

I got a call while I was at work on Tuesday, asking if I could work at the same school for the rest of the week. You bet!

I have gone to bed every night this week, 'knowing' that I was working the next day. Not only that, but knowing where I would be working (with the exception of one morning).

On a typical weekday morning, I get up and ready for the day just as I would if I was going to work. By the time 6:30 a.m. rolls around I'm ready for that phone call. The longer the phone doesn't ring, the more I don't want to go to work. When a person doesn't work enough, they quickly lose their desire to work.

Sometimes the phone rings. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I get a call; then shortly thereafter, I get a cancellation. I have had my destinations changed enroute to work. I have had my day change half way through the day.

It has been an emotional roller coaster ride. I'm losing my desire to work, but I need to work. When I don't work, I don't get paid. I have lived with an unstable income since My Youngest was born. But things have never been quite this tight. My safety nets are gone and I feel vulnerable.

A person is fortunate when you have a good idea what to expect when you wake up in the morning. As inconvenient as this is, I know that I am lucky. I know that my working hours will fall within the confines of Monday - Friday; 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ... it could be much, much worse. To be on call 24/7 is most definitely something I would not wish upon anyone. Yet there are jobs that expect this and people that work these hours.

I didn't realize the magnitude of the effects of my job instability until this week. This week has shown me what I need, to turn my thoughts around. I want to find that within the job I am working at. I need to find it somewhere.

That's a relief. Because there for a while, I thought perhaps I was losing my sanity.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Working on Empty

I have been running out of moisturizer for my face for the past few months. Granted, I don't use much ... but the amazing thing is how much was still left in the bottle after most people would have considered it empty.

I turned the bottle upside down. That easily added a month onto the lifespan of my lotion. When it started gasping and sputtering, I shook it vigorously every time I used it and that added at least two more weeks to its life span. When shaking the bottle every which way provided little more than a breath of air from the bottle, I cut the bottle in half and scraped out the contents into another moisturizer jar. And that is still going strong.

I remember the angst that I felt when I spent cash that I really didn't have, to ensure that I still had a supply of moisturizer on hand when this 'almost empty' bottle ran out. That was February 13th. I was (what I thought) half way through the drought season of my current budget situation. It was money that was going to be spent one time or another ... so why not then?

Since that time, I have been squeezing the most out of my budget in much the same fashion as my overturned moisturizer bottle.

As with my moisturizer, I am finding that a little dab'll do me. Less is more when it comes to extra-curricular spending. Spend with abandon and you forget to appreciate the little things. I love when a take-out meal feels like an occasion instead of a week-day-coping-mechanism.

I turned my spending habits upside down and made the most of what I had. It went farther than I thought it would. Just when things were getting tight, I 'shook things up' and a well timed income tax refund covered past, present and (a few) future shortages. As I look ahead and see more uncertainty in my future, I foresee scraping the bottom of the barrel to make this work.

This is where the parallels end. Unlike replenishing my moisturizer in a time of financial uncertainty, nothing short of a miracle (a full-time position at work would suffice, but a winning lottery ticket would suffice) will provide that 'extra bottle of moisturizer' to pull from the cupboard when the well runs dry.

I have been looking for answers but they are taking their time revealing themselves to me. I haven't resorted to scraping the bottom of the barrel. I don't mind doing so ... but I need to know what I have in my reserves before I deplete that which I have.

My depleted moisturizer supply is symbolic of my financial state. What appears to be empty can be stretched to last much longer than one would expect.

I'm getting the best mileage that I can, out of what I've got. If I run out of gas, I will walk. I will keep moving ... of that, I am certain.

Monday, April 2, 2012


It's just out of my grasp. It flits by me and hovers close by ... but when I try to grasp it and hold onto it, it remains just out of my reach.

I long to wrap myself within the protective layers of my life and I don't want to peek my head out until I am transformed within. Something feels broken and I want to cocoon myself away from reality until it is mended.

I want to be alone; I need to be around people. I want to curl up into a ball until this passes; I need to get out and push my limits. I want to cry; I need to laugh. I want time off; I need to work.

This too, shall pass. I know this. But I am getting impatient. This has been going on too long.

There is only one person in the world that can make a difference. I look at her reflection in my mirror and I want to shake her out of this stupor.

Words are not enough. It is time to take action. Small steps are better than no steps at all.

When you're lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you've just wandered off the path, that you'll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it's time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don't even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert