Friday, August 31, 2012

Trial Runs

It's a very good thing that we took a dry run this morning. Because it didn't work ...

My Youngest starts high school on Tuesday. I won't be able to drive or assist him in any way that involves leaving the house because my official start date for my daycare is the same day. So we decided to try out the bus routes this morning to give him a feel for his new mode of transportation as of next week. And ... we waited at the wrong bus stop. A bus never did arrive.

We came back home and called the bus information line once again and got different instructions. A 'better' route than we were originally given. One bus that will take my son from (almost where) his elementary school was (indirectly) to the front doors of his new high school. It will take him 22 minutes to get from 'A' go 'B'.

Unfortunately, I did not absorb what I was reading when I read his back-to-school information ... so the school was locked and appeared to be (almost) abandoned when we arrived for what we had hoped would be a chance to locate his classrooms and ask a few questions. Whoops.

Upon our arrival back home, my eyes and attention were more focused and we found most of what my son will need to know for his first day at school.

Only the Grade 9's will be registering on Tuesday morning. They will meet in the theatre and there is a half hour presentation before they are on their way. After that, they will meet in their home rooms for 20 minutes (I assume that they will get their schedule, locker assignment and locks at this time). Then they proceed with an abbreviated version of what their day will be when they go back for a full day on Wednesday. They have a '15 minute period' for each one of their classes. Again I assume that this is to give them a chance to find their classrooms, meet their teachers and get a list of required supplies.

I could feel the tension fall from My Son's shoulders as he realized how his first day would unfold. "Only half a day?! And it's not even Thursday! (an early dismissal day)". And only Grade 9's in the school in the morning?! "They are really making this easy for us!" As we discussed what I guessed would be a trial run for them in the safety of their own grade level, we both breathed an audible sigh of relief.

We assembled what we assume he will need to get through his first morning. We got him a binder that zips up and holds all of his stationary items as well as zippered pockets to hold other important things (school I.D. and bus pass perhaps?).

The bus ride will be a breeze "I can use that time to finish up homework if I need to ..." (I hope he isn't cutting it that close but I quietly thought to myself that it would be a good time to review before a test). One bus. No transfers.

His first day will be as stress free as one could hope for. A half day surrounded by students his own age and grade level. A chance to find his way through the halls of his new school along with his peers.

We have done all that we know how to do to prepare for this transition. If today would have been his first day, he would have been late as we waited for the wrong bus at the wrong stop. It was far better to make that mistake and learn from it today. Who needs the added stress that would bring to a brand new school year?

As My Son said, "Every cloud has a silver lining ..." It seemed that I heard him finding that silver lining at every turn today. Our trial run was a good adventure for us to enjoy on My Son's last official day of summer holidays. It was music to my ears to hear him find the positive every step along the way.

I feel calm as My Son takes these brave new steps into his future. He may feel unnerved by all that is new but underneath is all, he has a good solid foundation to build on. He is going to be okay.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pretty Paws

No stone is being left unturned in preparation for reopening my daycare. As parents voiced their concerns about our cat, I thought that I would take some preventative measures and get some 'soft paws' for Andre (even though he grew up with a house full of kids and I'm quite certain that he will readapt to his old ways).

For a mere $49.12 our cat has a set of fake nails. Feel my dismay as we walked through the mall later on and we spotted an advertisement for a full set of gel nails (for humans) for $30.00. We walked a little further to find a sign advertising a manicure and a pedicure for $55.00!

I could afford no pampering today ... our cat got the spa treatment instead.
Andre was NOT impressed with his new 'soft paws'

We think they are kinda cool (and worth every penny??)

So Much to Do and What Am I Doing??

This is a glimpse of what our home feels like at the moment...

 And what have I been doing???
  • I went to see my sister yesterday. I left shortly after 8 a.m. and did not return until 3 p.m.
  • Upon my return home, I delivered flyers
  • After supper, I went to a dance lesson
  • I came home and scoured the Kijiji ads for items that I could use for my daycare
  • Then I slept
Today I woke up and I feel weary. Our cat has a manicure appointment this morning for 'fake nails'. We are going to the vet to have them put 'Soft Paws' on our cat (photos to follow) ...

My Youngest is getting eager to move into his new room ... so I must vacuum the washing soda that I sprinkled all over the carpet when we get home from our cat's appointment (the heat of the dehumidifier running in his room to dry the carpets from our small flood has unearthed an unpleasant odor that I hope the soda will absorb). Then he will be ready for the big move.

I have so many things that I need and want to do. I'm starting to run out of time. I will be getting a phone call about my bookkeeping job (that was postponed from Tuesday & Wednesday). There are two days of work that must be squeezed in some time in the next six days. The playhouse must be emptied, kid proofed and readied for my new daycare family. I will have two sets of flyers to deliver tomorrow. A playroom to get ready upstairs. Then there is the menu planning (aka: groceries!) for the upcoming week.

So much to do. So little time. But wait! I am going to be working from home now!! I will have the ability to putter away at little things throughout the days ahead. Slowly but surely, all will be done.

As I made plans and then drove off to see my sister yesterday when the house was in such chaos, the words, "What was I thinking?!?!?" kept running through my mind.

I'm thinking that maybe a few mixed up priorities is a good thing from time to time. The work will get done. The opportunity to run out and visit my sister comes but once in a blue moon.

Now I must run. My cat has a date with his manicurist ...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


We are slowly but surely going through our home and turning it upside down, inside out and every which way as we turn the upstairs into a daycare zone once again.

Toys now reside where our T.V. used to take up space in our living room. The living room has evolved from a cozy television-watching &/or conversational nook into a wide open space with room to move and play.

My Youngest is moving downstairs. His old room is 80% emptied and he had to remove a lot of the excess out of his new room before he could move down. He put in a lot of productive hours yesterday.

The excess is collecting in (what used to be) the playroom downstairs. I'm certain that my Middle Son could empty that room in no time flat. The overflow mainly consists of things to give away, garbage and in a word ... excess. That which we do not need.

We found one thing that we were not expecting as we moved. Water.

My Youngest found it (first) in his new closet. This is located in the middle of a room, no where near a water source. It was a mysterious find. Until ... I found a puddle in the laundry room adjacent to My Youngest's new room. Luckily my Middle Son was home by this time and he not only found more water, but he found the source of our troubles. The drainage for our air conditioning had a blockage so it found an alternate route for the water to go. Thus our mini-flood.

My Son cleared the blockage, vacuumed up the water and investigated where to go from here as I vacuumed the excessive water in My Youngest's room and set up the dehumidifier. We found more wet carpet in his new room so his move-in-date has been slightly delayed, pending dry carpets.

The amazing thing? This water was located in areas that we would have not stumbled upon for heaven-only-knows-how-long, had we not turned our house upside down and inside out as we prepared for all of the changes around here. We know for a fact that the air conditioner was draining properly a few days ago because both My Son & I noticed the puddle by the drain in the laundry room. So this water problem was new.

I thank my lucky stars for so many things. The excuse to turn this house upside down and locate this problem. My Youngest for finding the problem in the first place. My Middle Son for saving the day and fixing the problem for me! And the fact that this had not been going on for weeks on end.

As we continue to wade through areas that we have not had a reason to touch for the past three years (or more), I wonder what else we will find ...

Sometimes a little upheaval can be a good thing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It Never Hurts to Ask

I have approached reopening my daycare from a different angle this time around. I am taking full advantage of all that the Internet has to offer in the way of free advertising and it is serving me well.

I have placed a free ad in our local community. I am advertising in two Internet daycare locater agencies. I have started a website. And ... it is producing results that I could have never predicted!

Number One - People are actually calling and following through and meeting me! I have placed ads on one of these sites before and it often attracts 'window shoppers'. People who are interested in looking but not 'buying'. That has not been the case this time. I have met with most of the people who have contacted me. This feels like success already.

Number Two - A lot of these websites ask you to post your hours of operation and rates. I did this in a manner not unlike a child writing a letter to Santa. I thought to myself as I wrote down what I hoped for but didn't expect "... it doesn't hurt to ask ...". What I have found out instead is - ask and you shall receive! People are not questioning my hours or my rates. I am the one setting the tone and it feels unexpectedly wonderful.

Number Three - I have written up my Daycare Policies on my website. I have actually had one parent call me and started the conversation with something to the effect of "... I found your website and read through it and I think we meet your criteria ..." What!?! I'm the one making the 'rules and guidelines' and I am getting positive feedback? This feels like a good way to run a business!

Number Four - I am interviewing parents as much as they are interviewing me. I recognized that a big part of my downfall (when I ran my daycare the last time) was that I accepted families that did not think/parent in a similar fashion that I did. The days would be a struggle because the children were learning to adapt to two very differing styles of parenting. It was like fighting the current. It is my goal to know when to say "No" this time around. It is not good for the parent, the child or the caregiver when we are not working as a (relatively) cohesive unit. I am very uncomfortable in this role and today I may be in a position where I must choose one family over another. I must remain true to myself and the answers will follow.

I am reopening my doors with a renewed sense of self. I have set the bar higher than I set it before and it appears to be working!

I will make every attempt to learn from the past and bring it forward into my new life. I will go forth with the attitude of Ask and You Shall Receive verses Wait and See What is Offered and You Get What You Get (with no one to blame but yourself).

I may come with a higher price tag this time around ... but I'm actually starting to believe that I am worth it.

'Sunday' ... at Last!

It may be Tuesday to the rest of the world, but to me it is 'Sunday' and I'm ready for this day!

I slept in ... and no one cared. I got up and readied myself for the day at a leisurely pace. Now here I am with my coffee and my blog. Ahhh! Life never felt so good.

I have many things to do today. But for this moment ... I am simply going to have a second cup of coffee. And perhaps write another blog post about some of the (many) thoughts that are going through my mind right now.

It's going to be a wonderful day.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tired ... So Very Tired

I have the ability to drop off to sleep the moment that I stop moving, talking or eating. I have been known to nod off if I am not actively engaged in a conversation. At one job, I took power snoozes sitting at my desk in lieu of a break.

I can sleep on and off all day and still sleep throughout the night. Then I wake up in the morning and could easily go back to sleep a few hours later.

I have the opposite of insomnia. I have friends who I would love to give this gift of 'sleep' to.

Driving on the highway is something that I do with great caution. If I have someone to talk to, it is not an issue. If I am alone (or with My Son who watches movies or plays games instead of visiting with me), it is another story. Unless my mind is actively engaged in something, I must be singing or eating. Otherwise I have a tendency to feel the waves of exhaustion overtake me.

So I loaded up on caffeine before and during our recent trip. McDonald's vanilla iced coffee (for a mere $1.00!!) has been my saviour. It tastes good and it keeps my eyes open. I have had many extra lucid hours of wakefulness thanks to this (relatively) economic, tasty and caffeinated beverage.

My vacation was delayed because I had a last minute opportunity to speak to someone about this issue. I have been 'moving, eating or talking' ever since. I am so exhausted that I could sleep through the entirety of this day ahead of me.

But I have committed myself to a friend today. A friend who is recuperating from a long hospital stay. And what am I thinking?? I wonder if we can have a nap sometime throughout the day ...

The other thing that I am wondering is ... am I going back into the daycare business so that we can have that blessed hour of 'quiet time' in the afternoon?

Oh! To be a child again and have someone tell you to go and have a rest in the middle of the day ... I'm looking forward to my New Life!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

This Holidaying Business is Exhausting!

We were gone for 5 days and 4.5 hours. We have been back home for 25 hours. I am ... exhausted.

Nothing is quite as easy when you are away from home.

From getting ready in the morning ... to those quiet moments of the early morning that I cherish ... to the ease in which a-regular-day unfolds ... to tending to the day-to-day things that need to be tended. It is simply easier when you are at home.

I felt torn in too many directions while we were away. My Youngest wanted to spend time with me. I wanted to spend time with him. And my mom. And my brother. And his family. And a few friends. Plus I was longing to simply spend some time 'with me'.

The days were simply not long enough. The nights were even shorter. The one morning I decided to sleep in a little bit, my mom barged into my room in a slight panic. She thought maybe I was dead because I was the only one in the house that had eaten a piece of the dessert (that had raw eggs in it) the evening prior ...

I stressed my mom out to the max. From a misunderstanding about our estimated time of arrival; to a further misunderstanding about the amended time of arrival; to gadding about and taking longer than she anticipated that I would when I was out; to forgetting to call when I ran late while visiting a friend; to checking in on me after I arrived home the one evening that I cautioned her to just go to sleep and I would see her in the morning. Her worry button was on MAX throughout the duration of our visit and I think I wore her out. Which wore me out ...

Finally, finally we turned around and headed home one day later than planned. My Son was constructing a deck at home while we were away and between work and rain, he was running behind schedule. He begged us not to arrive home before 9 p.m. last night. 

I did my best, but we arrived at 7:30. The deck looks wonderful but he didn't get a chance to finish all that he had hoped to do. But I get the feeling that what I see is the completed project. We were supposed to talk about that this morning ...

... but my morning started on the run (a comedy of errors on no one's part in particular meant that I was the one who had to deliver the Sunday paper this morning which was a two hour job that was not a part of my Sunday morning plan).

While I was delivering papers, I got a phone call from a prospective Daycare Parent who asked if they could come over ... in two hours. 

I had time to complete the papers, tidy the house and finally, finally have my breakfast smoothie and my first cup of coffee of the day before they were due to arrive. 

I hadn't quite finished my coffee when the phone rang. A friend who has just returned back home (after her second long-term stint in the hospital this year) called and asked if I would be able to spend the day with her tomorrow since she is not yet up to being home alone. So I will go over there first thing tomorrow morning.

We barely got off the phone when my Daycare Family arrived. We spent close to an hour getting to know each other and talked of Daycare Issues and such. 

We were shaking hands and saying our farewell when the phone rang. It was a friend that I had hoped to visit while I was on holidays but didn't dare take the time to call (since I was already treading on thin ice with all of the time I was gadding about while I was supposedly visiting Mom). So ... I gave this friend all of the time that she wanted and we chatted for a few hours.

It was 4:00 when I hung up the phone. And the doorbell didn't ring. Neither did the phone. No one needed or wanted me to do anything. Even though I tried (by this time, I think I was being shunned by My Son who had counted on us sitting down and talking about the completion of the deck first thing this morning).

I sat still and alone for the first time all day. I looked at Google images of deck seating that will most likely not be in our deck's future. I made supper. I searched for bargains for that-which-I-will-need for my Daycare Revival.

By 6:00 p.m. I was ready for bed. I can't believe I'm still awake (I got a call back from a guy who had a deal fall through on his barely-used-bargain-playpen which revived me).

I must get up early tomorrow morning so that I can find an hour to call my own before I go and spend the day at my friend's.

The Sunday morning at home that I wanted so badly was not meant to happen today. Nor tomorrow. At least the bookkeeping job that I was scheduled to do on Tuesday & Wednesday was cancelled. Maybe I'll get my 'Sunday morning' on Tuesday ...

Holidaying has never felt so exhausting. I'll be relieved when I get my Daycare Doors open once again and add some structure back into my days at home. I am looking forward to weekdays that feel like workdays ... and weekends that feel like weekends. 

After a holiday like this one, I relish the idea of returning to Work As I (used to) Know It!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sigh of Relief

I could sit here and do absolutely nothing but stare into space this morning and be absolutely, 100%, completely and totally happy.

I am relaxed, happy, on vacation and looking towards the future with anticipation.

I look at the life that seems to be falling together for me with little effort and I am relieved. Relieved to be going with the current again.

It makes me wonder why I tried so hard to fight it. I believed that if I kept taking it one day at a time and kept moving in a forward direction, that it would all come together in the end. Sometimes it does ... sometimes it doesn't. You just have to stick out your neck and try when the passion moves you. I'm glad that I did. But I am also glad that it is over.

I read my cousin's Facebook status update this morning to see that she is going to strike out on her own and work for herself. From everything I know about her, I feel that she will succeed in her endeavour. I hope that she is soon sitting still in her new life and feeling what I feel this morning ... relief and contentment that comes from pursuing what your heart tells you that you can do.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

On Vacation

I am hours into my summer vacation time and off to a good start.

The first item on my agenda was to turn off my alarm. I awoke to the dog barking ferociously at someone/something and I awoke with a start. "What is that light shining through the window?" was my thought as I jumped out of bed to peek out the blinds. It was the sun ... I slept through the night!

I awoke to a day with an empty slate. I finished watching the movie that I had started to watch last night. It was a cheap movie that I had bought to take along with me on the 'retreat' that I planned for myself last week (and didn't need once I changed the direction of my life). This movie was symbolic of carving out a piece of time for myself. And I did.

I sent off a few early morning emails. One was to a friend who had suggested that we get together for a visit. She returned my email with an early morning phone call. We have decided to take a riverboat cruise right here within our very own city this afternoon. She has not been feeling up to par for the past many months and had to use her holiday time to cover the time she needed off of work. I have not had the carefree summer that I had hoped for. So we decided we could vacation right here at home. Who needs grand destinations and weeks on end when a Sunday afternoon is right here at our disposal?

My Youngest has wanted to do something that represents a vacation, so we will pack our bags and head off tomorrow. We hope to do a few things out of the norm to bring a sense of 'holidaying' to our days. Nothing big, no big hopes or expectations. Just ... something.

When we return I must focus on getting the house daycare-ready. I must put in a few bookkeeping days. There will (eventually) be flyers to be delivered. I must gently turn my mindset into one that will set the tone for the life I have set out before me.

I have a two weeks to transition myself, my thinking, our house and our lives into what I hope is a good direction.

But for this very moment ... and for the entirety of the upcoming week? I'm on vacation. I haven't taken one step out of the house and I can feel the difference already.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I'm Done!

My last four hour shift turned into 4.5 hours. That last half hour just about did me in. I just wanted to get out and put that job behind me. But I had to tie up a few loose ends so I stayed on.

I walked out and waved to no one in particular because there was no one to say good-bye to. I tried to sign out on my time sheet but Saturday's time sheets are always scooped up and gone before I finish work. Those last four hours took all that I had left to give that job and I do want to get paid every penny that I earned. So I made a notation on next weeks time sheets to ensure that I will be paid.

It was a shift like every other. I spun my wheels and tried to accomplish what I was supposed to do but barely made a mark in the uncompleted tasks from the prior shifts. Thankless, unending and no solution in sight.

I'm glad that I'm done.

I washed my uniform for the last time. I showered off my day and it felt wonderful. I climbed into fresh pj's and have purged this day (and this job) from my body and soul.

And ... I finally opened the gift Mom gave me (after she read about me mending my torn sheets). She bought me some brand new sheets!

I did not want to waste the luxury of this gift on a body that was not completely 'cleansed' of all remnants of this last job.

Tonight I will sleep a dreamless sleep. I am on holidays. The best kind of holidays. The holiday where you don't have to return to a job that takes everything you have out of you ... and gives very little in return.

I am done. And I am relieved ... so very, very relieved.

Four More Hours ...

I am booked to work the 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. shift at (previously) Job #2 which is (presently) the only job that I officially have ... which (after tonight) will be Job #0.

Which makes it official. I am back in business for myself!

This all started with taking on the job of delivering flyers in our neighborhood. Mere days after I signed on for that responsibility, I made the decision to reopen my daycare. If that wasn't enough ... destiny called and asked me to meet for lunch yesterday!

I have been asked to (gradually) take on some of the bookkeeping responsibilities for a family that I know. This will be a gradual process as each one of us weans our way into taking on additional responsibilities (and relieving the responsibilities of the person who is presently carrying the lion's share of the load).

The timing could  not have been more perfect. It sounds and feels like a win-win-win solution for the three parties involved. I am thrilled to have the ability to say an enthusiastic "YES!!" to this opportunity. Two weeks ago I couldn't have felt this unadulterated joy at saying "YES!!" to anything.

All I have to do is put in four more hours at the job that pushed me to a place where I had to react. I am grateful for that. I'm also grateful for the incredible staff that I met and worked with. And ... I am secretly grateful for the seven pounds that disappeared (which I am quite sure is as a result of the physical demands of the job and perhaps a small amount of dehydration) when I stepped on the scale yesterday!

Four more hours to go ... before I take a step into my newly renovated life. There is some work yet to be done, but I feel like the 'house has been gutted' and anything is possible once again.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The People in My Neighborhood

I have officially been delivering flyers in our neighborhood for a week now.

The first time out, I ran into a neighborhood couple out for a stroll and we stopped to chat for a spell before we headed off in our opposite directions. The next time out, we ran into a family that I used to babysit for. It was great to catch up with them and we had quite a nice little visit as we stood on the sidewalk by their house. Yesterday I ran into another family I babysat for. Ahhh ... it feels so good to be 'home'.

Today's stroll (delivering flyers) was quicker. A wave to the family I talked with yesterday, brief exchanges with people out in their yards. A wave and a greeting for many ... but most of all it is a feeling of belonging once again.

I loved working in my home and walking through the neighborhood with my daycare family. I enjoy an excuse to walk anywhere and the flyer route pays me for that.

I just came home to a message from yet another family member of someone that I used to babysit for. We set up a 'date' to meet for lunch in an hour.

Everywhere I turn, I feel it. A coming home feeling. The life that I led before (running my daycare) is all around me. It is a marvelous feeling of community, friendship and 'family' all around.

I woke up with a few butterflies in my stomach this morning. Have I done the right thing? Is this financially feasible? Can I rekindle what worked before??

Then I walked outside and felt like a part of my community as I did my flyer route. I feel at one with the world again ... as I walked through and chatted with the people in my neighborhood.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It Just Keeps Getting Better ...

Yesterday, I had two interviews with prospective parents who are interested in bringing their children to my (soon-to-be-reopened) daycare.

The minute they walked through the door, I was completely and totally in my element. I was relaxed, comfortable, honest and open about who I am and how I run my daycare. It was easy.

The contrast between these interviews and the job interviews that I have been on over the course of the past year are like night and day.

Job interviews were spent selling myself on my potential. I can learn ... if I am trained. I will become a valuable employee ... if I get feedback and some guidance along the way. I have the ability to figure things out ... but in the beginning, I will not be working at top speed.

Then actually succeeding and getting hired for a job proved to be yet another obstacle to overcome. Expectations to learn and to learn quickly are high. Questions (in some cases) are not encouraged. Feedback was not a given (in some cases, all I got was negative feedback).

My self esteem plummeted. No matter how much positive feedback I got as time went on, I never lost the feeling that I was completely dispensable and that I was walking a fine line between employment and unemployment.

I have never, ever felt this way before. Has the work world changed that much since I started my last new job? Have I become inept and inadequate and unable to learn? Or was it just a few isolated incidents early in this transition that knocked the wind out of my sails and I never fully recovered?

My probationary period never did begin, let alone end. I had never felt more fearful about job stability in my life. It was a stressful year.

But the moment the phone started ringing with inquiries about my 'new' daycare, I was back in my comfort zone. Talking with new parents and remembering oh-so-well how scary it was (when I was the one needing to find childcare) to entrust a relative stranger with your child made it very easy for me to talk with parents and reassure them that I completely understand that they must do what it takes to become comfortable in a new daycare arrangement.

The rapport was easy. I know that I can do this. As much as I know that there is always room for improvement, I have no doubt in my mind that I can provide the comfort, security, reliability and caring environment for this to work for all parties involved. I know this.

I can sell myself in a way I haven't sold myself in a very, very long time. Part of me wants to say that I've never been this sure of my abilities. But there was another time when I sold myself well. It was when I ran my daycare before.

Every morning I wake up and I feel even more reassured that is was the right decision for me. My confidence is building and I feel like a part of me has been revived.

With every step that I take towards my 'new beginning', it reinforces my belief that this is the road that I am meant to travel right now. It just keeps getting better ...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It is a Good Decision When ...

You know that you've made the right choice when:
  • You sleep at night
  • The fist in your chest is gone
  • You wake up in the morning eager to face the day
  • Little disruptions in your day don't overwhelm you
  • You can walk through your day without having anxiety attacks overwhelm you
  • You know that the choice is the best one for YOU
  • You don't care what others think
  • You look ahead and can appreciate the view
  • You foresee the pitfalls and plan your way through them
  • The future doesn't scare you
  • You regain the ability to dream
I have placed a mental check mark beside each of the above ... and more. This decision was the right one for me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Full Body Work Out

Never in my life have I ever experienced a complete and total body ache the way I have since working at this job. Specifically, doing the 'bread wall' has worked every single muscle in my body.

I lift above my head, stock shelves at every level, carry, push, pull and drag crates of bread taller than myself (I toppled the mountain just once).

Then I go to the freezer and pull the products that we need. These boxes are much heavier than bread and the majority of those that require shuffling are above my head. Pushing, pulling and lifting heavy items is the second part of the shift.

You squeeze in everything else that you can possibly do with 'all the time' in between. Your fine motor skills are put to use as you package product, make garlic bread, slice bread, write on birthday cakes and the list goes on ...

Once I walk in those doors I don't stop. For anything. I find it easier to work through a break than to take one. So I just go until it's time to go home and then I just keep on working. Most days it is about eight or nine hours of constant movement. Who needs a gym membership when you can work for a busy grocery store??

Nothing hurts while I am moving. My feet are tender when I take off my shoes. Once I do stop, getting up from a sitting position takes a few moments.

It is when I wake up in the middle of the night that I realize how uncomfortable my muscles are. From the carpal tunnel tingling in my hands, to my sore neck and shoulders, to my pulsating feet, to each and every muscle that it takes to roll over in the middle of the night. I feel about 100 years old when I roll out of the bed and start moving again.

Every muscle in my body is getting a work out. Every muscle in my body lets me know that it was worked harder than it is used to working the minute I sit still. Every muscle is reminding me that it isn't as elastic as it used to be.

BUT ... every joint in my body is holding up just fine (other than the tension in my neck). For that, I am grateful.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Coming Home Moments

The minute I started puttering around in the sandbox, I had my second 'coming home' moment in four days.

You know those moments? The ones that feel absolutely right and like all the stars have realigned? The moments when you start to breathe easier and your thoughts become light and wistful. Moments of deja vu. You've been there before and memories start wafting to the surface.

I haven't enjoyed our backyard for years. I have had nothing to do with the maintenance and the dogs seem to dominate the 'energy' back there.

The paint on the fence is peeling, the deck is rotting and there is so much work to be done. I haven't spent a moments energy in the backyard since my son took over the lawn care and my eyes started glossing over the new reality.

We spent many, many hours in the back yard when I ran my daycare. Kids pent up energy was spent outside and voices drifted up into the clouds and everything seemed easier when we went outside.

I have been replaying the memories of the past and it is good. I like where life is headed ...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What Day Is It?!?

Working seven days of week is for the birds. I have the days of the week so muddled up in my head that I have to stop and think about what day it is more times than I care to admit.

Then there is pulling expired products off the shelf at work and dating the 'best before' dates on new products. I am forward-dated to so many different dates in the future so many times throughout a shift that my brain can't comprehend what date it is either. And even that date changes, as we date the product that is being shipped to another store one day in advance.

Thankfully my work hours have stayed within the confines of 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., but there are shifts that start as early as 4 a.m. and go as late as 3 a.m. ... I have no idea how my poor little brain would manage if I had been asked to work those shifts (I got out of another 4 a.m. shift this morning because the girl who worked that shift yesterday preferred to work it two days in a row to regulate her sleeping hours as much as possible).

The people who work here have my greatest admiration. There are several long term employees and (as far as I understand) even they don't get full-time hours or a regular shift. Others have worked there several years and their shifts change like the wind in the same manner that I have experienced.

There is little satisfaction to the job because you are never, ever, ever to a point where you feel caught up. I now appreciate my naivety during the first weeks because we were so far behind, but I had no idea. So I just went home. Now I see that there are actual definitions as to what is expected for each shift, so I stay late every day attempting to catch up on something (which is not even close to being caught up).

I handed in my resignation yesterday and planned on coming home on time for a change. I'm quitting. Why should I care? But I did. I stayed after work longer yesterday than I ever had before. Because if I didn't, I would be the one to pay the price today (and I would have felt guilty leaving so much backlog for the next person, that I would have done it anyway).

How do people do this day after day, month after month, year after year? Even if they work at top speed during their shift, it doesn't make up for the fact that the prior shifts have fallen behind. Then everyone is behind. The backlog just accumulates.

The people that I have been working with are great. I feel guilty for walking out on them. But not the job. I hate to admit defeat. And I wouldn't ... if it wasn't for the seven-day-a-week availability. That was the last straw.

I simply cannot wait for my New Life to begin. The one where I wake up at the same time every day ... and know (as much as one can know in the daycare world) what to expect.

I thought my days were ever-changing and full of surprises when I ran my daycare. Then I went to work. I worked at a job where the work came in ebbs and flows. Not enough work. Too much work. Working evenings and weekends to ensure I worked enough hours to pay the bills. Then I started another job. I readied myself for the day. Every day. Then waited for the phone to ring.

I thought my daycare income was variable. Then I worked at a job where there was not enough work to pay the bills. So I started a different job where I had even less control over my pay cheque. Then I worked at this last job where I'm barely making over minimum wage.

I am going back to my daycare career with my eyes wide open. I know it won't be a walk in the park. I know that I will miss working with adults on a daily basis. There will be many parts of this new life that will be out of my control. But compared to where I've been? I'm willing to take the risk.

Now I must carry on with my day that feels like a Monday. But it's not. It's really more like a Friday (because I get the next three days off). But it's not. Then again, it's a little bit like a Tuesday because it is the second day in a row that I worked, after a day off. But it's not. I don't know what day it is ... but I'm glad to know that it is the last day that I am booked to work for a few days.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Two Steps Back ... One Step Forward

Sometimes ... you have to take a step back in life.

In my case, I am going back in time. Back to a life which had its share of limitations, frustrations and drawbacks. But it was a life that fulfilled me. It was a life that enabled me to feel in control of my own destiny. It was a life where I took time to stop and smell the roses.

I am reopening my daycare.

Yes, I ventured out into this brave new world. I educated myself in more ways than simply going back to school. I tested the waters in a few new areas. I learned a lot. I grew alot. I will never regret trying. But after two years of giving it my best shot, I am going back to a life where the rewards were small but plentiful.

I will see the world through children's eyes once again. I will sit and absorb the small wonders of the world through eyes where everything is new and exciting. I will take what I know, take what I've learned over the course of the past few years and bring it with me into my new and improved daycare.

My daycare has mission statement: Infants to Independence. A one-stop-shopping kind of deal. A daycare where I grow right along with the children who come here. Right up until the time comes that they no longer require daycare.

I took one additional step back in time and signed on to deliver flyers to our neighboring streets. The minute I stepped onto the curb with my cart full of papers and headed out, I knew that it was exactly where I needed to be.

I walked down familiar streets and for the first time in a very long time, I appreciated the view. I reminisced about the many times I walked these very streets with my daycare family in tow. I walked past house after house after house where my daycare families live (or used to live). I remembered that my daycare years were the years that I truly started to feel like I belonged in my neighborhood.

I talked with neighbors. My Youngest Son joined me on my second time out (I had the opportunity to deliver Saturday's paper on Friday) and we ran into a family that I used to babysit for. We stopped on the street and talked for an hour.

It may look like I'm going backwards. But after two years of testing other waters, I know that I am finally moving forward again.

This feels like a good fit for me. I feel like I have truly come home again ...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Life's Great Equalizers

As I don my hair net to work at Job #2, I quietly chuckle to myself. Once that hair net is nestled into place it really doesn't matter what kind of hair day I am having. It looks the same no matter what.

At the end of my work day when I take the hair net off and ruffle up my hair, I smile once again. I've had a hair net on all day ... what can you expect?

Hair-net-head explains a lot. I just carry on and I really don't waste much time fretting about the state of my hair these days. It saves me a lot of wasted energy.

Yesterday, I had to wear a surgical mask when I stopped by to visit a friend in the hospital. She has a family member with her at all times and they must wear a mask as well.

I stayed and chatted with my friend's sister-in-law in the hope that my friend would wake up before I had to leave. We communicated expressively with our eyes (just like they do on 'Grey's Anatomy' during the surgery scenes where their facial expressions are covered). Once again I was quietly content beneath my mask where (like my hair underneath a hair net) it really didn't matter what I looked like underneath.

It was a silly and frivolous thought to think as my friend slept a drug-induced sleep as we visited.

Eventually my friend woke and was aware that I had come to visit. She apologized for 'being a mushroom' and not being up to visiting. I stayed until she started drifting back to sleep. I clasped her hand before I left, feeling that my words may be lost but the sense of touch may seep through to a deeper place within her.

I woke up this morning thinking of the overwhelmed state that I have been living in lately. I suppose that I should be grateful that my life is not stripped down to bare bones 'survival mode'. I have so many good things going on around me, that I am somewhat blessed to only be concerned about my state of employment.

I had said many, many times ... that if the only problems we have, are ones that money can solve we are very, very fortunate.

When one's health (or the health of a loved one) is in jeopardy, your body and mind slip into survival mode. The important things in life shift sharply into focus. Decisions seem black and white. You do what it takes to alleviate the pain, fix what is wrong and heal.

I feel a quiet longing within to find the focus that I need to alleviate the discomfort I'm feeling right now. It isn't black and white. It is many shades of gray. It is so unimportant in the whole scheme of things ... but in a world where life has a way of bringing us down to basics before we know which way we need to go, I do wonder how much farther I need to go before the answers come sharply into focus.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Day Off!

What a beautiful, glorious morning! Not only was I not scheduled to work today ... I was not called in to work at the last moment either! Now that the morning is shifting into afternoon, I think I can relax.

I read a week-old paper ... I wrote a card and letter that I intended to write a week ago .. I found an alternate income source that is one step towards enabling myself to quit 'Job #2' ... I made a few phone calls ... I puttered.

I need unstructured time to rejuvenate myself from time to time. Today is one of those days. Now that I've nurtured myself for a few hours I'm ready to leave the house and take care of a few other things that I have been putting off during this seven-day-in-a-row stretch of work.

Ahhh ... I feel the pressure subsiding. It's amazing what a day off can do for a person.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Fence

Our fence is in dire need of painting. Again. It is a fence that goes on forever and 'lucky for me', only one small side of the yard is shared with a neighbor. So I have the privilege of painting both sides of it. It feels like an endless task.

It has been five years since it was last stained. Five years since I painted memories into those boards that I knew I would never forget.

A long time relationship ended during the time I painted that fence. I can look at a section of the fence and remember what I was thinking and feeling as I painted. I can remember being afraid that looking at that fence would forever be a reminder of the pain that I painted through.

Five years ago I was in a deep, dark place. Five years ago I pulled myself up and through it (with a little help from my friends). Five years ago I started to rebuild my life. Five years ago I had no idea where that life transition would lead.

That transition proved to be the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The rebuilding process led me to a place that I would have never guessed possible.

A person never knows where life is going to take you. You just have to keep taking small steps in a forward direction and make slow and steady progress ... and you come through the other side. Usually in a better place.

I looked outside the window this morning and looked at the section of fence where it all began. Five years ago.

I am back to where I was five years ago. It is cyclical. The highs. The lows. Starting over. Rebuilding. I've been through the process before. I recognize the landmarks. It is different, but it is the same.

I must keep taking those small steps in a forward direction and I will come out the other side of this. Probably in a better place than when I started.

Thank goodness for the memories that I painted into our fence. They reminded me of the cycles and rhythms of life. And the fact that I always come out the other end more compassionate, a little wiser and always in a better place than where I started.

Maybe it's time to paint the fence again ...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Follow Through

When you think you should do something ... follow through and do it.

I cannot think of a time when following through on a whim to call, write, email or drop in on someone didn't end with the comment, "I'm so glad you called".

Just the other day, I called my cousin to see if he was up to some company. I sensed the hesitation in his voice before he replied, "Yes, sure ... come on by" so I backtracked and said we could do this another time ... but he insisted. So I did.

I wouldn't have had the courage to pick up the phone and call him, had his sister not encouraged me to do so last weekend. I always worry when a friendship feels lop-sided and one person is calling or suggesting to get together more than the other. So I usually back off for a while and see how things play out. All I needed was a little nudge and I felt that it was okay to tip the balance just a little.

Each of us had had one of those days where you are uncertain if you are going to be good company. Each of us spilled a little of the contents of our minds on the table. Each of us felt better for releasing some of our thoughts into words and bouncing them off of another person. At the end of our visit, I think both of us were grateful for the opportunity to talk with each other.

I called my cousin on the day I felt 'lost' and didn't know which way to turn. I quite literally thought that no one was strong enough to carry me through the moment that I was in. When I drove off to no where in particular, I ended up driving right past his house when my car finally turned around and headed in a direction that was homeward bound. I was parked by his house when I called him. When I didn't know where or who to turn to ... my cousin came to mind.

Our dads are brothers. His dad died in 1980. My dad died in 1987. When little coincidences bring me together with someone that my dad could be 'co-existing' with in a world that is not my own ... I often wonder if he could be watching over me and guiding me to a place I need to be. When I end up in a place where someone else's parent could be watching over them in the same manner ... I wonder. Are these little miracles are bigger than they appear?

When you feel an overwhelming urge to reach out to someone ... do it. You never know, you may have an angel on your shoulder guiding you to exactly where you need to be. For yourself and for the other party ...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I Thought I Was the Only One ...

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 
"What! You too? I thought I was the only one."
~ C.S. Lewis

I can look back on the evolution of my friendships and feel the moment we connected. The 'I thought I was the only one' moment in time when something clicked and a friendship began.

Some friendships are based on where you are and who you are with. School friends. Friends of significant others. Work friends. Friends through kids, sports or social activities. These friendships are vital yet often they don't travel outside of their perameters.

I didn't realize how important Work Friends are ... until I didn't have them.

This year in transition has been harder to endure than I care to admit. It wasn't until I read this quote "Those who say they have no real friends at work have only a one in 12 chance of feeling engaged in their job. Conversely, if you have a "best friend at work", you are seven times more likely to feel engaged in your job." (from Tom Rath's book "Vital Friends: The People You Can't Afford to Live Without") that I finally realized that perhaps there is something far deeper going on here.

When you don't connect and make friendships within your work community, it is hard to feel like a vital member of the 'family' that encompasses the biggest part of your day.

I know that I thrive and grow when nurtured by those that sprinkle the words "I remember what it was like when I was new ..." and "I felt the same way ..." When you feel like a duck out of water, it helps to hear that you are not alone. A friendly voice and compassion as you feel your way through a new situation is like a life preserver. It may not help you learn to swim, but it gets you to shore safely during a crisis.

"Let friendship ring. It might look like idle chatter, but when employees find friends at work, they feel connected to their jobs. Having a best friend at work is a strong predictor for being a happy and productive employee." ~ Time Magazine (on Rath's "Vital Friends: The People You Can't Afford to Live Without" book release)

Friendships aren't built in a day. But the opportunity to capitalize on those moments of you find yourself thinking "What! You too? I thought I was the only one ..." are all around us.

Friendship Quote

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us,
we often find that it is those who,
instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures,
have chosen rather
to share our pain
and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.
The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion,
who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement,
who can tolerate not knowing,
not curing,
not healing
and face with us the reality of our powerlessness,
that is a friend who cares.
~ Henri J.M. Nouwen


I have been wandering around like a little bit of a lost soul this past while. I have been frantically grasping for air, trying to keep afloat as I have felt a deep, dark undertow trying to pull me under.

I have been feeling low enough that I had an honest conversation with someone and admitted that I could not encourage our friendship because I needed to be around positive people. I felt that this relationship brought me down.

I have been drowning at work. I have internal anxiety attacks on a regular basis and I feel like I am falling apart at the seams. Yet people around me are complimenting me on being 'cool under fire' or handling a situation well. I am grateful that people don't see the weakness that has me shaking under my skin. I guess that I am perfecting the fine art of faking it until I make it.

But ... I finally did it. I fell apart after a day that unravelled me.

I have known that I needed to spend time with myself for a very long time. This has been one of my goals this summer. To just give myself the gift of 'time'.

When I found a movie that I wanted to see after work the other day, I dashed out of the house and barely made it to my seat in time. It felt a little bit wonderful to sit alone in a darkened room and lose myself for a few hours.

It was what happened when I walked out of the theatre that I wasn't expecting. The anxiety enveloped me and took over. I was walking through Zellers and I could barely contain myself. I wanted to run for the nearest exit but I didn't. I finally made it outside and breathed the fresh air around me.

It wasn't enough. I needed to get to the car. I needed to enclose myself and shut out the world around me. I started to crumble. I needed to drive.

I had no idea where I was going, so I turned in a direction that didn't take me home. I drove. I cried. I shook. I leaned into it and felt all of the emotions that I have been suppressing.

I had no where to turn. I have friends all around me, yet I didn't want anyone to know the extent of desperation that I had been containing.

If I would have had the home phone number of my boss, I would have called and quit work. Right then. It was the source of my immediate anxiety. It keeps me awake at night. It is not rewarding. I'm embarrassed to say that I work there. I don't want anyone to see me in my uniform. I avoid the store like the plague if I am not at work.

Yet I cannot quit. I need this. It is possible that I need this job more than I even know ... because my future at my other job is completely up in the air. I have no idea what the fall may bring. This uncertainty is like nothing that I have ever known.

There has never ever been a time in my life when I felt that I could not go out and do whatever it takes to support my family. I feel it now.

I have started three new jobs in under a year. As a relief secretary, I have faced the potential of 'every day being another first day' for the better part of the year. I am completely uncomfortable waking up to face yet another new day. Every day. It is wearing thin.

I don't know what the answer is.

I feel incapable of starting yet another new job. The very idea of selling myself and telling someone that I can learn anything would feel like a lie. I don't know if I can. I have never doubted myself or my abilities to this extent. I have learned ... that maybe I cannot learn. Not the way that I expect myself to.

I have never, ever not wanted to work before. I do now.

How do you think that would look on a resume? Nope. I don't think that the time is right to start yet another new job search. I think that I need to look within and find who I have evolved into first.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dilemma of 'Want Verses Need'

As I prepared to flip the calendar month from July to August, I felt my heart start to race. Omigosh! Half of the summer is over and I have accomplished absolutely nothing on my Summer Wish List.

I am committed work at Job #2 until August 9th ... but after that point? I am weighing my options.

Option #1 - Take the two upcoming scheduled days off that I have and add three more days to that, giving myself the gift of Five Days. I played around with various ideas and one can do a lot with five days if you have a plan. Five days are good.

Option #2 - Be available to work the week following those Five Days and book off the last week before I must be available to work again at Job #1. This would be a compromise. I feel that one of the reasons that my second employer hired me was because I was available to work the summer. But the art of juggling two jobs with unpredictable hours has me craving some real down-time. A holiday.

Option #3 - Book the remainder of August off of my second job and tell them that I will be available to work weekends once again in September. I feel that may jeopardize my job because I am backing out of the commitment that I thought that I could make to them. This goes against everything that my conscience tells me is right. Other than that ... it is what I most want to do.

I must take that back. Because what I most want to do, is to quit that second job altogether. That would be Option #4. Quit and never go back.

I sent off three résumés yesterday. The very idea of starting yet another new job feels daunting to me. Yet continuing down the road that I am presently on, for an undetermined amount of time, is no less exhausting of an idea. 
  1. I do not want to have to be available to work seven days a week!
  2. I do not want to wake up each morning and wait for the phone to ring and dictate the direction of my day.
  3. I definitely need and want a full-time job!
  4. I believe that I could start over and learn (yet another) new job ... if the reward was a full-time position.
If I could just one wish granted, it would be to attain the goal of that elusive full-time position at the job that I already have. It could happen. It may be a bit of a miracle ... but it still could happen. It is just a matter of when. And can I wait that long?

In the meantime, the dilemma within is raging. Do I pursue what I want at the risk of letting go of what I need?

May the correct answer please reveal itself to me? Please?