Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Wild Rose of a Prairie Summer

I came upon a wild rose that had sprung up willfully on a city street boulevard. I was taken back in time.

Finding a wild rose on the walk home from school signaled the end of another school year. Summer time... the school picnic... July 1st...

"The July 1st Sports Day was a big summer event for us. We didn't always get to go but it was a fun day when we did. And a long one too. Driving home with a team of horses at night, looking at the stars and thinking of the day's events."

The memories of the stories she told came barreling back to me when I spotted that wild rose. Stories of her childhood during the Dirty 30's. Tales of living life as they knew it in among the realities of drought and a life of making do with what you had.

We look back today and call those years 'The Depression'. They were too young to remember a time when things were any different.

Little things meant a lot. Rare family outings in the summer time… eating an ice cream cone… looking up into the stars on their ride home in their horse drawn buggy after a memorable occasion…

May you find joy in the simple things in life … and remember her.

“The rose and the thorn, and sorrow and gladness are linked together.”

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Weather Forecast - Do We Really Want to Know??

It is the calm before the storm...

Not really a storm. A storm would require hunkering down into survival mode. Battening down the hatches. Gathering all that you need and love close to you and holding them close. A protective mode. No. It is not a storm.

It is more like ... changeable weather conditions ahead.

I'm expecting company in just more than a handful of hours. My company has low expectations. They expect little more than a place to lie their head tonight and perhaps a cup of coffee with a side order of toast in the morning. Blessed are those who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed.

We will wake up tomorrow morning and head towards our home town where we will gather with  family. These past few weekends, Mom's sisters seem to be drawing people family together no matter where they are in this universe. The reasons we gather may vary, but the result is being surrounded by family. And that is always a good thing.

I will not stop at home again before I head back for an overnighter at Mom's house after tomorrow's gathering. I am adopting her car and driving it back home on Monday. A six & a half hour drive west on Sunday, followed by a five hour drive in an eastward direction twelve hours later. Insert some time to sleep within that twelve hour lay-over at my mom's and it will be one tiring day.

Before my company arrives, I have errands to run (an anti-nausea patch is high on my list of priorities for the hours I must invest in being a passenger), some baking to do, a house to clean and laundry. Always laundry ...

I sat down on the couch first thing this morning and immediately fell back to sleep. And it was good. I started to move but I have made it no further than the computer desk. And that was good too.

This is the end of a four-week run of 'committed weekends'. When I flip over the calendar page in a few short days, I have nothing booked except for appointments. Dentist. Car. Vet. Doctor. Week day appointments!

Then there is my Sunday employment. I think that is the 'tipping point'. The mere idea of being available to work six days a week, every week ... exhausts me. Thankfully? It doesn't work for my employer either! So that seems to be working itself out.

I suppose that all of this busy-ness that surrounds my life these days makes me appreciate the precious hours of mornings such as this one. When I have too much time on my hands? I waste it. Life is teaching me a lesson that I need to learn.

Every day is precious. It is a gift. I am discovering that I much prefer to unwrap my days as they unfold.  Waking up to a committed calendar (an unwrapped gift) feels so much harder to me.

A friend sent me an email today telling me that she had "fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants" plans with a friend this upcoming weekend. Ahhhh ... my most favorite kind of blueprint for a day!

I know that I am lucky to have a full docket in this thing called 'life'. I would just prefer my calendar  be written in invisible ink. Knowing that each day has value and an agenda. But not knowing exactly what that was until the day revealed itself to me.

My leisure time has come to an end. I must make cat hair disappear and set up a bed. I must move forward with the momentum of the day and see what has been written in invisible ink within today's agenda.

My changeable weather forecast will soon be present weather conditions. I had best go put on some sun screen to prevent over exposure to the rays of sunshine that are sure to be beaming through this agenda called 'life'.

Friday, June 28, 2013

I Am the One Who is Going to Change That!

A sound bite from a conversation that I had with a relative last weekend:

Her: "So are you still dancing?"
Me: "I have one more lesson left ..." (inaudible sigh)
Her: (perplexed expression)... "You are still taking lessons? Haven't you learned enough? ... Are you going for 'Dancing With the Stars' or what?"
Me: "Dance lessons are the only way I get to dance ... I don't have a dance partner, so I have to pay someone to dance with me."
Her: "Well! We are just going to have to change that!!"

That conversation sparked something within me. I'm done. I'm finished taking lessons. I'm over the concept of paying someone to dance with me.

As I made my way towards the exit of the dance studio after my lesson last night, I had conversations with my instructor as well as the owner of the studio. When they asked/assumed that I would be finding my way back one more time, I said "This time feels different ...".

"Why? What is different?"

What is different? My knee-jerk response is the truth. I have a life now.

When I started dancing, I didn't have a social life. At all. A big night out on the town for me, consisted of going to a dentist appointment. Because it was the only time that I got to leave the house without a child in tow. Now that My Youngest is fifteen years old, my out-of-the-house adventures are childless pretty much 100% of the time (especially since my fifteen year old feels like anything but 'a child' any more).

When I started dancing, I was a bit of a recluse. I didn't have a lot of friendships that took me out of the confines of my safety zones. The friendships that I had, welcomed my children as readily as they accepted me. My dependent children were welcome wherever I went, so this takes me back to the excitement that I felt when I got to go see my dentist. Alone!

When I started dancing, I hadn't fully discovered family outside of my siblings and my mom. Big family gatherings? I panicked at the mere thought of them because I thought, "Who do I know? Does anyone even really know who I am?" It turns out I know most everyone ... and everyone knows me too. I have immersed myself in family and I have found acceptance, encouragement and friendship within.

I have been invited to join this adventure called life. I have more friendships than I feel that I can adequately 'nourish'. My time feels far too committed. I thrive on solitude and quiet ... and my world has become too noisy. I simply don't have the energy to dance any more ...

I walked into that dance studio almost sixteen years ago. My world was crashing down around me and I walked into this utopia called 'Dance Dynamics'. And I danced. I found joy, acceptance and friendship. I was enveloped in a safe world where everyone was there for the same reason I was. To dance.

I was broken. Then I started to heal. My wings got stronger and I tried to fly ...

I fell out of the nest a few times but was always welcome to come back and learn to fly again. Always. My self esteem took a few harsh blows in the world outside of the dance studio, but within those doors I was safe. I was protected. And I learned to fly. Again ...

Well? I feel confident to fly on my own now. It was worth every penny and every moment that it took to get from 'there' to 'here'. Sixteen years. And I am flying solo.

I may not be soaring with the eagles, but I'm frolicking with the robins and having fun within the world that I have created.

I may not be dancing with the stars but I do hope that one day ... one day ... that someone will ask me to dance again. Not because it is their job. Not because we are within the confines of a safe-place where all that we do is dance. Not out of pity. I want to be asked to dance again simply because someone wants to dance. With me. I am ready.

Thank you 'Dance Dynamics'. You gave me that gift. I can dance. Now I am ready to try it out in the real world ...

My (delayed) response to my cousin that sparked this internal conversation?
Me: "No ... I am the one who is going to have to change that!"

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sharing the Day

My Youngest spent his first day of school holidays with my daycare family and me. And it was good.

The kids love him. He is so good with them. Firm, yet kind. He sees all that I see, but more. He gave them a piece of himself and then they played independently (for a while).

I love him too. I am not quite sure how long he was awake (we were pouring cereal, so it was very early in the day) when he looked at me and said (something to the effect of), "You really need to talk to someone, don't you?" Yes. Yes, I do. Talking in complete, meaningful sentences is a lost art form by Wednesday. You have no idea how much I need to talk. Especially as the week progresses.

We went on a small 'adventure' (okay, okay ... I was able to walk with the kids and run a few errands at the same time) and we ended our outing with lunch at McDonald's. We spent a few hours out of the house and it was good. My Youngest tagged along and pushed the stroller sometimes ... opened doors for us other times. "How would you manage if I wasn't here?" he asked. Oh, where there is a will, there is a way. It's amazing how resourceful one can be when it comes to finding ways to expand your day's horizons.

By the time we got home, there was little time to do anything but get cleaned up and wind down for nap time. At 12:30, the house is quiet and we watch an episode of "Berenstain Bears" (I love the lessons that those animated bears teach children. And me). At 1:00 (or thereabouts), the sleeping begins. The house is silent until (approximately) 3:00. Those two hours sustain me. I need no verbal interaction of any kind. The quieter the better. Thankfully My Son was of the same mind yesterday. I didn't say one word ... and he vanished into the oasis he calls his room.

My Son was up and about before my daycare kids woke up. "Now what will you do?" he wondered. Much depends upon the waking times of my little people. I have one rule. "You don't wake a sleeping child". If they are tired, let them sleep! The world is a much better place when children are well rested.

Yesterday, they awoke close enough to the same time that we still had a fair little bit of time for outdoor play. The skies were gray but they didn't look ominous. At least not in the back yard ...

My Son brought out some outdoor playground equipment. The kids played on that. He suggested they run. And they did that too. They wandered over to the playground and climbed and slid. They played in the sand. Then it started to thunder. Then it started to rain...

My Son ran about the yard, putting the play equipment away and gathered up my little ones to bring them into the playhouse. He didn't want the youngest one to get too wet in the rain and the older one cried because he wasn't getting carried, so my son went back and retrieved him too. I have no idea what I was doing, that My Son was doing all of the work (other than sitting back and taking notes!?!!).

We played with the toys in the playhouse and My Son started wondering how much longer this day was going to last. He was looking just a little bit weary.

"I'm not sure how often I'll do this," he said at the end of a very long day. "Maybe I'll go on some of your adventures ... but this isn't how I want to spend my summer holidays."

"How would you like to do this all day, Monday through Friday ... for the rest of your life?" I asked.

"The rest of my life is a very long time ..." he responded.

I think he will continue to pursue his own dreams. I believe My Boy will go far with his education. The rest of his life is going to last for a very long time. The sky is the limit when you set out and take on your life. It is a good lesson in life to work at jobs that teach you, "I don't want to do this for the rest of my life!"

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

He Was Singing My Favorite Song in the World ... Just for Me

Four weeks and four days ago ... we adopted our Junior Cat (Ray). Four weeks and five days ago ... our Senior Cat (Andre) was pretty darn happy in his own fur. He was confident, self assured, purred like an engine and spread his love generously among his fans family.

Andre has changed. He is a shadow of the cat he once was. But he is holding onto his well deserved title of King Cat.

Ray is about four to five pounds heavier than Andre, but he bows to Andre's authority. He will take his head and nudge it into Andre's chest. A submissive move. Andre takes him or leaves him. If Andre isn't in the mood to wrestle or play Cat Chase he will just bite Ray's back. Or heels. Or ears. Or anything at all that isn't nice. This signals the end of the game.

In the beginning, Andre would fall asleep in one of his favorite spots (sometimes on me). Ray spent a lot of time sleeping under My Youngest's bed back then. When Andre woke up, he was completely himself. His big purring engine revved up automatically. He would bask in the glory of being loved by His People. Then Ray would walk into the room. If cats could scoff, Andre would have become a master. Every time that big, black, overgrown kitten walked into the room Andre's new reality came crashing down upon him. It was like waking up from a nightmare and realizing his life was still one long bad dream. (Insert cat-scoff here).

Andre seems to have accepted his fate. He keeps his Junior Cat in line (it amused me this morning when I saw Ray respectfully waiting in line for whatever was left over in Andre's food dish while Andre was still dining) and we have to work to get Andre to purr. When he does, it is soft and tentative. He is wary. As if he expects Ray to pop out of the woodwork and ruin the moment.

We are suspicious that Andre is onto us and using his power (and our guilt) to get some extra special attention. He has become quite adept to converting us to becoming his master and slave to making him purr and feel confident and happy.

Andre doesn't realize it, but he gives us something Ray doesn't. He snuggles. And accepts love and affection graciously.

Ray is a foster cat. He was in foster care for three years out of his less-than-four-year life span. He doesn't seem to trust people enough to melt into their arms and accept the affections that are being doled out. He doesn't nestle into the curves of one's body when they sleep (I thought that was a natural characteristic of cats - I've never owned a cat that didn't thrive on human body heat).

I think that Ray likes the father-figure-he-never-had in Andre. I'm pretty sure that he wants to love us but isn't entirely certain that he isn't going to be uprooted from his surroundings once again and placed in the home of another stranger.

Andre is safe in knowing that we are His People. He owns us. And boy ... he is working that angle a lot these days. As upset as he may be that this young ball of fur is here to stay, he knows that he is not in jeopardy of losing his family. His home. His life.

Andre & I had some one-on-one snuggling time last night and this morning. He nestled into my shoulder and nudged his nose into my chin. And purred for me. Just for me. Softly at first. He was singing my favorite song in the world. Just for me. And it was good.

They see two different worlds when they look out that door. Andre sees fun and adventure and a world that he loves to explore. Ray sees homelessness and abandonment. They run in two separate directions when the door opens. Andre bolts for freedom (outside) and Ray runs for cover (inside). Oh, to be secure enough in your love to know that door will always open and welcome you back. No matter what ...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Holding on to the Moment

One down ... three to go. And the way that 'one' went, it will feel like I blinked three times and My Youngest will be graduating from high school.

I know, I know. Three years is not going to happen over night.

First of all, we must survive the 'learner driver' year. I'm gearing up for it. I am remembering the past and forgetting it all at the same time. The past is not an indicator of the future. If it is anything like mutual funds or the stock market, I am due for a good year.

Did you see how fast that year flew by?

After that year, he will be halfway done his high school years. He will be an independent driver (one would assume) and quite likely working at a part time job. He will be driving. And working. And well on his way to finding out what the-world-outside-of-school-and-home feels like.

A new perspective on his world could change him. Or not. No matter which way it goes from here, he will be taking steps of independence away from the world within these four walls. The third year will probably be a little bit like that.

I can see the fourth year speeding past us already. He will be focused on life beyond high school. He will have his sights set on his future and he will be making life changing decisions. If he pursues the goals that he has had in mind the past few years, he will know exactly where he is going. And he will have the ability to drive himself there.

Yes. This is just one year. The 'rest of his story' will unfold in its on time. I will look at him today in the exact same way I have looked at him all of the years that have preceded this one. And I will be grateful ... that for now ... for tomorrow ... he is happy simply because I am working from home. He will wake up in a house that is filled with other people's children. And he will make a difference in our days. Just by being here.

This past year flew by much too quickly. I hope the seconds tick a little slower for a while. I want to sit still and hang onto the moment for just a little while longer.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cooking is Bad for My Economy

I tried to do the right thing last night. I 'cooked'...

I invested fifteen minutes of my time and $30.75 of my hard earned cash at the grocery store after a full day at work. I finally arrived home at 5:55 p.m.

I washed and cut up lettuce. I rinsed off and sliced a few tomatoes. I cut several slices of cheese. I cooked up some bacon and brought out some cold cuts. I sliced up some sub buns. Forty five minutes later, we had some pretty slim pickings to create a sub sandwich.

Forty five minutes!! I could have taken those fifteen minutes that I wasted in the grocery store and gone to a drive-thru restaurant, invested $11.95 on two take-out meals and been home and finished eating in the time that it took me to come up with a rather lack lustre meal.

Thirty dollars!! Granted, I bought groceries for tonight's supper and the sub-leftovers will take us through lunch today. But thirty dollars? I could have picked up (almost) three take-out meals-for-two for little more than that.

My rule of thumb when it comes to cooking: "If it takes longer to create the meal, than it does to eat it ... don't make it!"

Forty five minutes invested in a meal that took five minutes to consume (and My Son was still hungry) equates to bad economics in my books.

It's no wonder I don't do this too often ...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Family ... Makes it Easier

Family. Roots. A sense of belonging. These are my fragmented thoughts of the hour ...

It wasn't all that many years ago that the mere idea of attending a family function where I didn't expect to know anyone except the family-of-honor would have had me running for cover. Anxiety would have ruled and most likely I would have found my way out of going.

Old habits die hard. I still felt a tiny bit of that child inside of me. I was a little apprehensive, but I powered through it (good girl! ... that is what being over 50 buys you! The invincibility card). I went. And I am very glad that I did.

It was easy. It was fun. I actually felt like I belonged (life long habit of insecurity speaking here). I belonged. Because I am family.

I sat with a handful of people I knew. It felt like every time I turned around, there was someone to talk with.

I was plunked down in the middle of a town that I am not connected to in any tangible way. Any other time I have attended a function in that town, I have been my mom's tag-along. Yesterday? I wished that mom was with me. But it did me good, to know that I could do it on my own.

But I wasn't on my own. I tagged along with My Uncle. My Aunt was not with him. They used to go everywhere together. And she is gone.

As much as I wished Mom could be there, I was comforted by the fact her absence was simply her choice (two long distance family events, in close proximity to each other). My Uncle was not comforted by such a luxury.

Walking into a room full of family and friends made it easy. Easier, perhaps. Being enveloped within the comfort and warmth that comes from people you have known for a lifetime eases the loneliness. It was easier than I thought it would be. I hope that My Uncle felt the same sensation at the end of the day ...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I Can See Clearly Now

"It was like opening a door and going into heaven ... I could see. Everything wasn't a blur."
~ a quote from My Aunt upon getting her first pair of glasses.

I had a very similar experience last weekend. After a four hour drive in the rain, with my sister on the passenger side of my car she declared, "I am going to buy you something when we get to Our Destination. Windshield wipers!"

It was something that I knew I needed to do but since the driver's side of the car was okay, I procrastinated. The need for windshield wipers is something that you don't tend to think about when the sun is shining.

What I wasn't prepared for, was the difference that a new windshield wiper on the driver's side of the car would make. I was like a kid with a new toy. Each and every time that I turned on the wipers, a small thrill of appreciation and excitement coursed through me as I saw the world in a whole new light.

My aunt experienced a similar, but more profound difference in her world when she got glasses. She could see the individual leaves on a tree. Life was in sharp focus for the first time in her life. I experience a similar elation every time I wash my glasses...

Life is full of such moments of clarity.

Little every day occurences such as a blue sky after a long stretch of clouds and dreary weather. The joy one can feel when on the receiving end a cheery greeting from a child or stranger. Washing a window ... 

Then there are life changing events. Discovering one's true calling or faith. Finding yourself on the outside, looking in after a negative experience. Finding contentment within a relationship ...

As much as I enjoy clean windows and a perfectly clear vision of the day before me, I couldn't help but think of the bird that swooped in towards our kitchen window the other day. A little dirt on our window may have saved his life (or a real nasty head ache).

Sometimes we need a little obscured vision to help guide us through a tragedy one step at a time. To see and feel everything crisply when our lives have been uprooted, is not what we want or need at that time.

It is important to see clearly to avoid some of life's pot holes. But when a person finds themselves in a spot where they didn't choose to be, a little fog may be just what you need to get through for a few miles.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Life as I Know It ... (it is enough)

I heard a 'voice from the past' yesterday. And it was everything that I hoped it would be ...

Ever since I received my invitation to our high school's 35th reunion, I have been looking back in time and wondering where my friends-of-the-past may be in their lives right now.

I joined and was delighted to find a few names that I used to call 'friend'. I wrote a 'public note' to one friend. I emailed another. I read the stories of other familiar names and left my name in their guestbook.

Yesterday, one of those friends replied to my email. We corresponded back and forth throughout the day. Our electronic connection reinforced my idea that 'now' was a good time to walk back through those doors-of-the-past and peek through.

As my friend wrote a condensed version of her life-story-so-far, I read words that paralleled my own experiences. It was a small bit uncanny. But not really. When people talk openly and honestly with each other about life and how they have experienced it, it opens the door wide. And we can relate with another person's struggles.

I think that all (most) a lot of us want to experience that 'connection' with others. I call them 'knee shaking conversations'. You know them when they happen. It is when all illusions are cast aside and the conversation is raw and genuine.

I have been yearning to run into someone-from-the-old-days each and every time I have been in Mom's neighborhood (the neighborhood I grew up in) for years. I didn't know what I was searching for, but I know that I found a piece of it in the friend I corresponded with yesterday.

It is interesting to discover if the friendship that was sparked in childhood (often due to geography, school and friends-of-the-family) can be reignited years later. I have been fortunate enough to discover that it can happen.

So I mailed off my RSVP, paid my way and I will attend my reunion in the fall.

I will take my genuine self with me when I go. I am presently twenty pounds heavier than I was, when I thought that I was ten pounds over weight. Do I wish I was sporting a sleeker, more attractive body? Sure. Do I wish that I looked younger than that reflection in the mirror? You bet. But this is the 'me' that I have grown up to be.

I will pack my imperfections and wear them proudly on my sleeve. I am who I am, and I hope to meet up with others who are feeling okay about where they are and what life has taught them as well.

Will I turn into an insecure teenager, fretting about hair, shoes and what to wear the day before the event? Quite likely. But thanks to what-life-has-taught-me, I will know that the minute I sit down and start talking with someone ... outer appearances won't matter. Not if I am having one of those 'knee shaking' conversations...

When I heard that one of my friends-of-the-past is now a doctor, I had a flash of insecurity (... all that I have done is raise three children and run a daycare ...). But I stopped that scene before it got any further. Underneath the badges of honor that many have worked for and have come at a price ... is a person. A real, live, vulnerable person.

My badge of honor is my life. My life-as-I-know-it. And that is enough ...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's Not Too Late to Save the Week

I talked a lot this past weekend. It is haunting me this week. Because I focused on that-which-was-not-uplifting in my life.

It was little things. It was what I chose to harp on that made such a difference. In the aftermath of the weekend ... all I see, hear and feel is negative. That is where my attention has been drawn, so it has created more of the same this week.

Every day you wake up. Every moment of the day you are living. You have choices. It is all about where you place your energy.

I can wake up in the middle of the night and feel awful. Maybe I'm coming down with something. Maybe it is an ache from abusing the way I use my body. In the middle of the night, the discomfort is all consuming. I have nothing else to distract me, so all that I feel is the pain-of-that-moment.

Oh, the number of times that I have quietly celebrated the mere idea of being able to call in sick, after feeling so terrible during the night. Then I wake up in the morning.

I am up and out of bed and going through my routines-of-the-day long before I notice that I am no longer feeling badly enough to be able to stay home from work. My focus has shifted to life-all-around-me and suddenly the intensity of whatever it was that woke me up in the middle of the night is gone.

Obviously I don't have many health or chronic pain issues to contend with. I know and appreciate just how fortunate that I am. But it is a little back-story as to what I'm trying to say here this morning.

What I focus on, is what I bring into my day. I know this. Yet this week I am letting little things play havoc with my focus.
  • It's raining. Again. Still!
  • My (almost) three-year-old is talking like a baby. Again. Still!
  • One of my parents is late and not calling. Again!
  • I don't know what to make for supper. Again.
  • There is a wet dish rag in the sink. Again.
  • I'm tired. Again. Still!!
  • And the list goes on...
Today? We are going to go out and play in the rain. The wetter, the better. Bring it on!

Today? I am going to focus on talking to my (almost) three-year-old in a fashion to encourage him to show me just how smart he is.

Today? I will expect my parent to be late. If she shows up on time, I will celebrate.

Today? I know what I am making for supper. I just have to remember what it was when supper time rolls around ...

Today? If there is a wet dish rage in the sink, I will wring it out. I can do these things. Truly, I can.

Today? I will move. I will create energy within and stay awake. Besides, I have missed almost every Gilmore Girl episode this week because I have slept through nap-time.

Today? I will do better. I will focus on that-which-is-good. I will write it down.

Today? I will shift my focus. I will.

P.S. As if the powers-that-be-in-the-universe knew that I needed to shift my focus, this is a blog post that I was meant to read today. I suggest you read it too. Today? I will be awesome!!
Blog - Life With Greyson & Parker - "Being Awesome"

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Looking Back Through the Archives

I was at a loss for words today, so I went back into the archives for some inspiration.

A year ago today, I was grateful for some kind words that someone was generous enough to pass along. A year later (and every day since then), I continue to pay that good deed forward. Little things do indeed, go a long way.

So I went back further. Six years ago. And this is what I found. Perhaps not six years ago today, but six years ago in general.

June 21, 2007

What do I want in a relationship? In my life? What are my dreams and hopes for the future?

Most of all I want personal contentment. I want to surround myself with family and friends. I want to be comfortable in whoever's company I'm in or by myself. I want to laugh. I want to focus on all that is good in life. I want space and time to myself .... that nurtures me in a way I need, to face the days.

In a relationship ... I want someone who makes me laugh and who I find spellbinding (a lot of the time, anyway). Someone who I can trust implicitly. Someone who is open and honest with me. Someone who 'fits' with me, my kids, my family and to have mutual friendships and socializing as well as time to have our own friends. I want to be with someone who inspires 'forever' in a relationship.

I want to get married again. I want to build a home with someone who I can honestly imagine living the rest of my life with.

Most of all I just want to be okay with 'me'. Because I'm stuck with myself for the rest of my life.

"I want space and time to myself .... that nurtures me in a way I need." I could have written that sentence yesterday. Some things never change.

"I want to be with someone who inspires 'forever' in a relationship." Same holds true for that sentiment. I haven't found it. But the criteria has not changed.

"I want to get married again." Hmmm ... let me ponder that one. I could go either way on that concept. The idea of being on my own for the rest of my days doesn't scare me. If I met that person who inspired 'forever', maybe that could change. Who knows? It simply isn't high on my priority list. And that is not altogether a bad thing.

"Most of all I just want to be okay with 'me'." Okay. That is another winner. Not only could I have written that yesterday, but it has been the standard by which I have lived with since the sentence was inspired. Perhaps longer.

When we are happy with who we are, I believe the rest all falls into place. I am content with where I am and where I am headed. I don't know what the future holds. No one does. But the stronger I feel within the confines of myself, the more capable I feel that I can roll with the punches that life has to dole out.

It feels good to look back and find that I was setting goals, standards and ideals within my ramblings. My heart was broken and I was valiantly searching for answers. "Where do I go from here??" was prevalent in my thoughts back then.

Ideas conceived during a time of crisis can change a life. I'm grateful for the record of my thoughts. It makes me sound wiser than I feel. But it tells me something that I truly believe. We have our own answers within us. We simply have to be quiet and listen. And? It doesn't hurt to make a written note now and again so you can look back and see how far you've come.

"When we cannot find contentment in ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere."
-- Francois De La Rochefoucauld

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Today is Going to Be One of Those Days!

" 'Going with the flow' is a sign that the different parts of us are in harmony. We are more likely to dance and sing to life's music when we follow the guidance of our hearts. How do we tap into the heart? With every expression of gratitude, every moment in wonder, every respectful thought, every act of forgiveness and every loving touch." ~ from a Magical Moment inspirational email from Wayne Lee (quotations and tips by Higher Awareness)

Going with the flow ... whenever I find myself wavering on decisions and where I am at, I know that I am not following life's gentle lead.

Tapping into the heart? I have equated that ability to finding that sense of quietness where I can be still in body and mind and I hear that quiet but persistent inner voice guide me in the direction that I need to go.

But as my inspirational email suggests, we can find this with every:
  • expression of gratitude
  • moment of wonder
  • respectful thought
  • act of forgiveness
  • loving touch
I found myself completely and totally depleted when I woke up after my weekend. When I look at the way I spent yesterday, I did not appreciate these finer points of the day I was living.

I am surrounded by little people in my daycare world.

"Moments of wonder" are plentiful in my day. I know that I feel better about myself and my day when I shift my focus and see the world through a child's eyes.

I am teaching my daycare family manners ... but am I focused on gratitude? Those moments when I stop my world and fully appreciate an act of kindness within my little daycare family. Sometimes I do. Yesterday? I didn't.

Respectful thoughts... oh, how easy it is to become child-like (not in a good way), when you are surrounded by children all day. As my (almost) three-year-old walked in the door yesterday and started talking baby talk, I must confess. My thoughts were not respectful. Not respectful at all! And it went downhill from there.

Forgiveness. A child forgives and forgets. They forgive fully, totally and completely. Do I? Yesterday felt like a day where I focused on all of the wrong things. One can't hold a grudge against a child, but I found myself thinking time and time again, "Here we go again ..." (and not in a good way).

Loving touches. I am not a hugger. But I believe in the magical quality of touch. The 'touch' of a kind word. The touch of a hand on one's shoulder. A pat on the back. Even a gentleness in the way one handles themselves in a house full of preschoolers.

When my little people nestle in and cuddle with me, I know that I am holding precious cargo. I feel wonder in the moment. I am grateful for their presence in my world. I become one with them in the moment and I respect and appreciate each of them for who they are. All prior misdemeanors are forgiven. And forgotten. In that moment, it is wonderful (knowing that nap time is soon to follow doesn't hurt either).

Every day, we are given a chance for a do-over. Today is going to be one of those days. Today is a day to focus on life's small wonders, gratitude, forgiveness, respect and reaching out and 'touching' someone.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Long Term Forecast

It was a weekend that was focused on family...

My Oldest Sister and I went out to see My Brother's Daughter perform at her final dance recital of the year. My Second Sister was at home and on call to be of assistance for my Mom's Sister and Her Daughter. It was truly a weekend where 'sisterhood' ruled.

The sky wept this weekend...

Life-as-we-know-it is changing. Life is always evolving. Sometimes it is subtle. Other times the shift is harsh and we don't know where the road ahead will take us.

When the rain comes down so hard and so fast that the windshield wipers on the car don't quite keep up, all you can do is keep your eyes on the road and tread slowly...

I looked at the five day weather forecast and if feels like it is forecasting the skies ahead for our family. "Overcast"; "Cloudy with sunny breaks"; "Isolated showers"; "Sunny with cloudy periods"; "Variable cloudy periods"; and "Rain"...

"Ninety percent chance of rain" ... only ninety percent. There is ten percent chance the sun could prevail. There is hope.

The sun is trying to peek out and shine. It is prevalent in the "14 Day Trend". I can feel My Aunt's fighting spirit trying to peek through the clouds.

I can barely hear My Mom's words through the downpour of rain she is preparing for.

Ninety percent chance of rain. It is simply the weather forecast. But it feels like so much more..

Friday, June 14, 2013

What I Have Learned From Dancing

I had a dance lesson last night. It was the second last lesson of a group of lessons that I have bought and paid for. I have one dance lesson left ...

I am afraid that this may be the end. I have stopped and restarted my ballroom dance lessons several times over the past sixteen years. But this time feels different. I don't know if I'll be back.

I was so relieved to step out onto the dance floor and rekindle my love affair with dancing last night! My body knew what it was doing and my brain just relaxed and went with the flow of the music and the lead of my dance instructor. We laughed. I learned a little. But mostly? We laughed. This ... is what hooked me in the first place. The fun factor!

The reality is that dance lessons are expensive. Ballroom dancing is a sport and you can go far with what you learn. If that is what you want to do. I competed. Once. Competition is not for me. But I am glad that I tried. It was worth every moment and penny spent on taking part in that dance competition. But I just want to have fun. Private dance lessons are a pretty expensive way to bring a half hour of joyfulness into my week.

For the past few years, I have wandered in and out of the dance studio. I changed career directions a few times and my finances have been turned inside out and backwards. I still found myself returning to the dance studio. But since I bought that last set of lessons, part of my passion has died. I'm not sure why. I think it has something to do with wanting to build a fence (i.e. tend to the upkeep and maintenance of home ownership) and refortifying my contentment within my own life and home.

I was so glad to find that piece of happiness on the dance floor last night. It was good to be reminded of all that has kept me going back for more (dancing) since 1997. Sixteen years.

I've learned a lot over the course of those sixteen years. Here are just a few of the lessons I have learned from dancing:
  • I have learned to follow. Not only to follow … but to relax and trust the person who is leading. Oh, to be in an environment where blind trust is encouraged and required? It is a good lesson in life, to learn to trust and follow the direction of another human being.
  • I have learned to relax and stop thinking so much. Over-thinking confuses the body’s ability to just go with the flow of things. Life? Dancing? It is all best lived by not thinking so hard!
  • I have learned there are no such things as mistakes. “Different perhaps … but not a mistake”, is a quote from my dance instructor. As it is in life-outside-the-dance-studio. Lessons are learned each and every time we do something ‘differently’ than we first intended. Different may lead to better than you originally anticipated. Just don’t be afraid to try!
  • I have learned that there is no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an illusion. It isn’t real. To attain to be perfect is to limit yourself to only that which you think that you can do well. Forget about being perfect. Just be the best you can be and the possibilities are endless.
  • I have learned to go where the music takes me. There is nothing better than when the beat of a song gets under your skin and you can’t help but move to it. Dancing or just plain living life … follow the beat of the music in your soul. It will take you places beyond your wildest dreams.
  • I have learned that my muscles have memory! Repetition teaches your body what it needs to do so that before long, you can work on autopilot. Sometimes this is a good thing. Other times? Consider your options. Just because it is something you have always done, doesn’t mean that there aren’t better alternatives.
  • I have learned that learning has no end. The learning ends only when you put a stop to it. How (and whether) you continue to learn is a personal choice. There are endless ways to build on the basics. What it all boils down to is: Practice! Practice! Practice!! Practice what you want to learn and you may be amazed at what you can achieve.
  • I have learned that dance is an art form. You start with a basic step. You add a pattern. You add some technique. Then you add our own special flavor and personality and it becomes your own unique art form. Season your life with that which turns the mundane into a piece of work!
  • I have learned to take the lead sometimes. Yes, it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. But it can be done. Taking control of your own destiny – whether it is on the dance floor or in real life is empowering (and teaches great respect for those who do it with such ease).
Knowing when to lead and when to follow. It is a delicate balance sometimes. In my independent life, I must take the lead far more than I wish was necessary. Perhaps that is part of the allure of dancing. To just take a step back and trust in someone else's lead. It is a beautiful place to be. Sometimes.

Perhaps I am not finished with dancing just quite yet.

Fifteen Years

The end of an era? Or the beginning of a great new one??

My Youngest turned 15 years old this week. Yesterday, he got his learner's (driver's) license. Today, he is polishing up his resume and could officially begin looking for a job. A few weeks from now, he will have completed his first year of high school ...

How did it go from this ...

... to halfway-to-grown-up so fast??

As if sensing my unease with the way this all seems to have happened so quickly, he assured me that he will still be living at home for quite a few more years. "By the time I finish university, I will be in my twenties ..."

University!?! Yes. He knows what he wants. And he plans to go after it. He has a plan. He is fifteen years old. And he has a plan!

He is a deep and insightful thinker. Within our family unit, he comes off as quiet and a bit of a recluse. Yet if you engage him in something that he is interested in, he can hold up his end of the conversation and you may not have the chance to speak once he builds his momentum.

My 'little hayseed' ...

... has turned out to be full of great ideas and promise.

He doesn't yet 'see' what has to be done in and around his world.

His focus is on his own living space and he takes care of his belongings (and vacuums when the cat hair gets too thick). His Older Brother is encouraging him to take ownership of some of the outside maintenance and this is more than His Brothers took on at this age and stage of their lives.

I believe 'tunnel vision' is very normal for this time in one's life. I never tried to fight it with my older kids because I remembered all too well, what it was like to be that age. 

Children copy what they see ... 

... perhaps My Youngest saw far too much vacuuming in his formative years. He is a tiny bit 'allergic' to vacuuming now.

He has grown up with pets. He has learned to be caring, gentle and kind. He has felt the unconditional love of a cherished furry family member.

He sat by the sidelines and earned the title of being The Chosen One from our Senior Cat (Andre) ... and has finally taken on the pride and responsibility of being the one who fought to adopt our Junior Cat (Ray).

He knows what it is to love someone the way a parent loves a child. Without condition. Without end.

Our 'guard dog' Sheba keeps her young person away from the danger of the stairs around the corner ... 

... we never know what is around that next bend in life. But we know that we can handle whatever we are given when we have loved ones at our side.

My children are gifts. To me. To this world. To those that they bring into their lives. Each and every one of them.

My fifteen year old son gave me the give of appreciating the many blessings that parenthood has bestowed upon me at a time in my life when I was finally open to receive these many gifts.

Every time he advances through an age or a stage that I have gone through twice before, I am given the gift of 'multiplying it by three'. I was too young, too hung up on appearances and perfection, too stressed and trying too hard to figure out who I was as I raised my older children. My Youngest has known a calmer and a more experienced 'me'.

I will continue to expect the unexpected as my fifteen year old son rounds the bend and takes on the challenges that life will toss his way.

May the seeds we have planted along the way, carry him where he needs to go.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Heart Has Grown Three Sizes

I feel like I'm 'cheating' on our cat ...

How would I feel if I was in his shoes? If I was relaxed and happy in my role of Senior (and Only) Cat in the home ... and My People brought home a younger, more energetic, healthier version of myself. My twin, in fact?

Ray (New Cat) on the left; Andre (Senior Cat) on the right
How would I feel if the Family Computer desktop photo displayed the New Cat in the family?!!?

Honestly, I thought Andre would think that he was looking at a picture of himself ... but who else but 'Ray' would lay in this 'yoga' fashion?!?? The 'left eye wink' is another of Ray's trademarks

Andre, the bystander. He can't believe Ray's lack of modesty!

Andre cowers to my touch these days. He literally winces and his bones become like jelly as he avoids me. If I think it hurts to be rejected by him ... how in the world must he be feeling to have another cat taking over his family?

As much as they appear to mirror each other in so many ways ...

The difference is in their tail placement - Ray is on the right (with the curled tail)

Andre still maintains ownership of 'his' spot on the couch!

In the hierarchy of cats, Andre comes out on top (on the top bench, anyway)

... they are two unique personalities.

I hate to see Andre become any less of the cat that he has always been. But he has. His confidence is shattered. He is so much less of the confident Only Cat that he used to be. And it breaks my heart.

The sad thing is, is that Ray is fast earning his spot in our hearts. He is a fun loving, out going cat with energy, health and vitality. Is this why people are drawn into temptation outside of loving, long term relationships? That lust of falling in love all over again with a younger version of someone who mirrors the person that they have known and loved for 'forever'?

I found myself lusting over townhouses in a new area near us yesterday. It brought me back to the time in my life when I bought a brand new townhouse and was forging out on my own. Everything was fresh and new. Everything was clean and everything worked. I seem to be looking for a younger, fresh and new in more things than cats these days.

Then there is the fact that I have been a small bit obsessed with the idea of attending our high school reunion.

I think that part of me is wanting to go back in time. And what better way, than to adopt a young, new cat?

So yes, I do think that I am feeling the guilt of having an 'affair'. And I think Andre knows that and feels it too. He is trying to forgive me but it is coming out in small, tentative doses. It hurts. But I can only imagine how hurt Andre must feel.

A person's heart simply grows to love more and more as life goes on. A parent doesn't love one of their children any more or less than another. We love with our whole heart. We simply love and appreciate the differences that each unique being (whether they be a child or a pet) brings into our lives.

I think that my heart has grown three sizes lately ...

"The Grinch hated Christmas — the whole Christmas season.
Oh, please don't ask why, no one quite knows the reason.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
And what happened then...? Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!
And then the true meaning of Christmas came through,
And the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches… plus two."
~ Quote from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Train Wreck Theory (as I know it)

One of the blogs that I follow recently had an article published where the author of the blog talked about the high amount of traffic her blog received after her son was hospitalized. She spoke (respectfully and kindly) of how it is simply human nature for people to stop and look when they see a tragedy but she assumed that her readership would drop off as her reflections on her blog returned to her day-to-day meanderings.

As I read the words, I couldn't help but think of the blogs that I follow. Half of the them involve loss. 

So yes. I too, have succumbed to allure of the typical 'train wreck' observer. I have seen (read about) tragedies and I simply can't look away. Why? But more importantly, why am I still following these blogs four years after the loss? It is because of my dad ...

Dad suffered a massive heart attack and after fifteen minutes without oxygen to his brain, he was revived. If you had read about it in a newspaper, you would have walked away thinking that it was a miracle that he survived. If you were the person that was involved in saving his life, you may walk away feeling like a hero. If only that was the end of the story.

Dad's body survived. Yes. But we lost everything else that he was that fateful night. He continued to breathe for four years and eight months longer. He was hospitalized for the rest of his life. My mom was still married but she lost her husband. There was an entire story that followed that 'train wreck' of our lives.

Surviving loss comes in so very many forms. Death is final and there is no going back. There are so many more ways to lose a loved one. Debilitating health issues change a person and their relationships. Bankruptcy, job loss, retirement and/or career change. Divorce. Family dynamics may break down and you 'lose' a family member that is still living and breathing a life separate and apart from your own ...

'Train wrecks' derail our lives. But life goes on. What can be salvaged is put back onto the railroad tracks and carries on for the rest of its natural life.

My attention is drawn to those that survive and must carry on with some semblance of 'normal' in a what has now become a completely 'abnormal' life. I have learned so much from those brutally honest authors. I sit back on the sidelines and quietly cheer them onwards.

I may not be able to avert my eyes from the tragedy ... but it is the story of survival after the unthinkable happens that keeps me coming back. It is the story of the survivors that is what is most important after the fact.

It isn't about 'survival of the fittest' for me. It is about the 'survival of the survivors' ...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Touched by a Memory

I had a crush on a boy when I was in my early teens. I had several small crushes throughout my elementary years but for some reason this crush mattered just a little bit more than the others. I don't know why ...

I didn't speak to boys in those days. Honestly? I don't really think that I learned how to speak to those of the opposite sex comfortably until I was nearing 30 years old. So I would imagine that I would be about as memorable as a gnat to those in my class. Especially boys.

This particular crush had a memorable moment.

I was in gym class. Somehow in some way, I got knocked over and fell to the floor. I quickly picked myself up and (knowing the me that I was back then) the only injury would have been having my invisibility cover blown. If anything at all, I was probably embarrassed.

Then ... the boy-I-had-the-crush-on, came up from behind me, put his hand on my shoulder and asked me if I was okay. He touched my shoulder! He talked to me!! Me!!!

I was over the moon. I remembered that moment for ... forever. Heavens! Even right this moment, I remember that touch.

One other moment stands out in my mind like that.

I was 27 years old and I was sitting helplessly in my car, watching my 'ex' toss my belongings out of our second story window. I was powerless. But I was not alone.

My brother came up to the car and touched my hand. No words were spoken. But it was a touch that was spoke volumes. It was powerful in much the same way as my teenage moment when the-boy-I-had-a-crush-on touched my shoulder.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Thoughts of my high school's 35 year reunion had me reminiscing and I found my way to

I signed up and checked out the names that were familiar to me. I found the name of boy-I-had-the-crush-on.

I read his story. It is of a 'Prince-Charming-married-his-Princess-and-lived-happily-ever-after-variety'. That is nice. I like happily ever afters.

Then. Monday morning, I received a message from, that two people had "stopped by and signed my guestbook".

I would have shown up in his guestbook the day prior. It is not an unexpected thing that anyone who is curious may have checked in on anyone who 'signed their guestbook'. Even if they had no idea who that person was.

But ... the moment I saw the name-of-the-boy-I-adored-in-junior-high-school in my guestbook, I was a young teenage girl once again.

It felt like someone touched my shoulder and asked me if I was okay all over again.

I lead a charmed life. Moments where I feel 'angels on my shoulder' in such a wide variety of ways ...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Newer Isn't Necessarily Better

Life is full of little lessons. Who knew that a broken camera could remind me to appreciate what I have ...

I went to snap a picture of the kids Friday morning and the camera was out of focus. Of course I didn't realize it was out of focus at the time. I thought I must have dropped the lens in a vat of oil. But wiping off the lens did nothing to help the situation. It was then, that I had a vague recollection of dropping the camera. So, I batted the camera around (rather) forcefully in hopes of knocking things back into place (hey!, it worked for Fred Flintstone's amnesia).

Nothing worked. So I was forced to feed my Kijiji addiction and I scoured the ads. I found what I assume was a bargain. A never-been-out-of-the-box camera that someone had won from a home lottery. I googled the camera and it looked like it would do the trick. I would have paid $130 for it in the store. I bought it for $75.

Once the battery was charged, I was eager to find out what my new camera could do for me. It has a few little bells and whistles that I didn't have before (sound options which allow me to have a dog barking or a chick cheeping in lieu of your regular, old shutter and button sound effects and various ways to 'have fun' with your photos...).

What I didn't realize, is exactly what a memory card does for you. My other camera was a gift and I do remember being told about the memory card. But since I continually download the pictures off of my camera onto the computer, I really didn't think that I was fully utilizing the memory card. That is, until I tried using this camera without one. I could take approximately six pictures and had room for about five seconds of video.

As I played around with my new toy, I slowly realized that the camera I now have is not as good as the camera that I had. Not having shopped for my previous camera nor having a great deal of knowledge about camera features, I assumed that what I bought would be close to what I had. Close is the operative word. It will be just fine for my purposes ... but I wish that I had realized what I had before I lost it.

Not too long ago, our vacuum cleaner audibly sighed its last breath and died. It was sudden and it was final. The motor - the heart of the vaccum cleaner - was gone.

I could live without a stove without greatly impacting life-as-we-know-it. The same could be said for many of our kitchen appliances. But the vacuum cleaner?! At the height of the mud and dirt during the spring season? I was out shopping for a vacuum cleaner faster than you can say 'Clean it up!'

I just needed a quick fix. Anything with a canister and power nozzle would do. Or so I thought. We brought home our new toy and it was soon put to use. Hmmm ... it was nothing like what we had before.

From width of the power nozzle, to the ease of changing attachments, to the inability to carry the attachments within the vacuum cleaner itself. Little things. But I missed our old vacuum cleaner with the few extra features that it had. I didn't appreciate those little things until they were gone.

Then there is our cat.

Andre is a senior citizen among cats. We know this. We appreciate who he is and what he has to offer just the way he is. He still has kitten moments, but they don't last long. His lack of appetite has been a concern for the past six months. He is slowing down and it is sad. And it is scary. The very thought of losing our precious most-favorite-cat-in-the-world breaks my heart. He is still here. And we fully appreciate Andre for the cat that he is and always has been. He has filled our hearts and home with a special brand of cat-love like we will never know again. And he still does ...

Then we got 'Ray'. Our New Cat. Ray is the new model among cats. He comes with all of the bells and whistles that come with young age. He has energy. He has personality. He loves all and shares his affections generously. He is an up and comer in the cat world. He is a likeable guy. And we are keeping him.

It breaks my heart to see the contrast between our Senior Cat and our New Cat. Our new model is not necessarily better ... but his warranty will not expire as soon as Andre's. If all goes according to the natural law of aging, we will lose Andre first.

While our new model of 'cat' will fill a part of our hearts ... he will be nothing like the original. He has pretty big paws to fill.

That which is new comes at a price. Newer isn't always better. It helps us appreciate what we once had. The sad part, is that it is often too late by then.

Treat what you have with care. You may be able to replace or live without what you already have ... but it will never be the same again.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Walk Down Memory Lane

An invitation to our 35 year reunion had me walking down memory lane this morning. Since my memory needed a little encouragement, I pulled out our high school yearbook and started thinking about those young and 'innocent' years. All I can say (35 years later), is I wish that I would have made more memories during that time.

As my youngest son started high school this past fall, I found myself reflecting on my high school years as being 'invisible'. It wasn't altogether a bad thing for me. I walked through the halls of My Old High School and made little (or no) impact during those years. I was quiet and absorbed the world I lived in. I believe those quiet reflections made me more of who I am today.

Who am I?

I started my role as 'Mom' shortly after our class graduated. And so began my journey into adulthood ...

My marriage taught me independence. It was an off again, on again relationship that lasted the better part of ten years. I had one more son and three months after he was born (twenty six years ago), I packed up my little 'family of three' and moved to Saskatoon. It was the best move of my life ...

I worked full time in the banking industry from January, 1979 until June, 1998 (when my youngest son was born).

If life has taught me one thing, it is that the best outcomes come out of the most trying of times. It was a moment in the sun with my youngest son that changed my world. I sat in a sunbeam with my infant and knew that 'this' was where I had wanted to be all along. I 'just' wanted to be a mom ...

I opened a daycare and have been operating that (with a three-year hiatus to educate myself and try out a brand new career at the age of 50) ever since. I learned many more hard lessons during those three years of trying out the brave new world. What I learned most of all ... is that I have made a difference in this world simply by being a mom.

My children are reflections of who I was when I raised them. They are good citizens in their worlds and making small differences in the way they see and reflect the world. And they like me. They really like me! Trust me, after raising two teenage boys, I know that I am blessed beyond what words can express to be able to say, "My 15 year old son likes me." I always follow up that statement with the disclaimer "I know this can change in a heartbeat ... but I am grateful for every moment that this remains to be true." I have been saying that since he was 12 years old and he still delights me simply by LIKING me!

So no, I don't have a list of degrees, careers or accomplishments to write about. What I have instead, is a life that I am grateful to have. There is peace in our home and harmony within my family. And my family has grown to include friends that feel just as close as family to me.

Moving back to Saskatoon brought me closer to my 'roots'. I was born and lived in this area until I was 9 years old and I believe that I spent my life finding my way back home. I have researched, interviewed and compiled memories for both of my mom & dad's families and gotten to know my extended family in ways I could have never imagined.

I am nearing 53 years old and I can happily say that I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. If life goes my way, I will never stop saying that. I love being open to being able to go where the wind blows. As long as it always blows me back to a home filled with quiet joy, peace and contentment.

Thirty Five Years Later ...

I received an invitation to my 35th Year School Reunion a few weeks ago. At first glance, I was intrigued and excited about the idea of going back in time and seeing those that I once knew throughout my school years. Then I scanned the two pages of graduates that they are looking for ...

Each and every one of the people that I think of, when I think back on my school years was on that list. From the group of us that used to meet up and walk to school together ... to those that I was closest to in my junior high years ... to the names of the guys that I used to have crushes on. They were all on that list.

I have kept in contact with two people from my school years. One of those friends, I met in grade six. The other, I met in grade ten. That is it. Other than a few rare school-friend-sightings (where a friend of mine recognized my mom or my brother or their name) over the course of these past three decades, I have completely broken away from my school friend bonds.

As I thought of the list of the names that I recognized on that 'missing list', I realized that I made one new friend in my high school years. At least that is what I remember. Are my memories from junior high years meshing with my high school years? I hope so. Because if they aren't, I believe I must have been what one must call a hermit or a recluse or afraid of the world in my high school years ...

I pulled out my high school yearbook and counted up 426 in our Grade 12 year. Two hundred and fifty six of those students are on the 'missing' list. I know from talking to the two friends that I have kept in touch with, that at least three of the lost have been found.

I know that we can't go back in time, but I have rekindled long, lost friendships by being present and available for the opportunity to get reacquainted with someone I once called 'friend'.

Will I attend that reunion? The jury is still out on that one. If I knew that I would cross paths with just one person that I have lost touch with I might.

My biggest fear? That I would walk through that door and people would look at me and wonder if I had ever attended that school. Because I felt invisible in those days ...

Perhaps what I am seeking is the hope that one person did notice and remember me back from the days where I blended in with the walls. I long for the feeling that comes from learning that you did make an impact somewhere in your life ... without realizing it at the time.

My bigger hope? That if I did make an impact ... that it was a positive one. And that is the scariest thought of all. To go back in time and hear that someone remembered who you were for all the wrong reasons.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Home ... There is No Place Like it!!

I must stay home tonight. And for the better half of tomorrow too. My Youngest is hosting a 'Birthday Sleepover' tonight and my role is easy. I must pick up a birthday cake and order pizza. Snacks and drinks have already been bought. I just have to be here. At home.

I have been gadding about far too much lately. It is exhausting. Even my daycare days seem to revolve around our daily walks (which take us out of the house for two or three hours at a time).

So the mere idea of being home-bound tonight and tomorrow makes me happy, happy, happy! What to do? What to do??

Unfortunately I have some bookkeeping work that must be done. I have been procrastinating long enough. That little pile of work has been shuffled onto and off of the kitchen table more often than I set the table for a meal. My work has made a lot of miles around this house but I have yet to open that little Pandora's file folder and tackle it. I must do that. First! So I can enjoy the remainder of my hours at home.

Then there are those books that have been begging to be read. My problem is that "Reading = Sleeping", so books continue to paralyze me. Maybe I will read. Maybe I won't.

There is yard work to do. Nothing fancy. Just mowing the lawn, weed control and a little trimming. Then again, rain is in the forecast. Maybe that will get done. Maybe it won't.

The exciting part for me, is that all options revolve around being home-bound. I don't really care what I accomplish. The reward and satisfaction comes from being home. And staying here. There is truly no place in the world that I would rather be.

I know what a gift that I have. To have a home that is an oasis to me. Once again, I can say with all honesty "Everything that is important to me, is contained within these four walls. My family. My work. My life. It is all within arm's reach."

Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home ...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Math and Budgeting ~ Does it All Work Out in the End?

Am I spending too much money these days?? That is the question.

I wandered over to our neighborhood Canadian Tire with my Daycare Family a few days ago. There were a few items on my list that I thought I may be able to find there. One of those items happened to be grass shears.

I found what I was looking for but was aghast at the price. Twenty dollars?!? I don't shop for these kind of items often, but I thought that was a little steep. There were others that cost more, but $20.00 was the cheapest that I could find. I decided to leave those on the shelf and look a little before I lept. That night, I went to WalMart. I found the shears I was after. For $10.00. Half of the cost. I saved myself $10.00 by not being impulsive. Yay, me!!

So last night, I went out and spent the $10.00 I saved on a used tricycle for my daycare family. Did I save money in the end? Or did I just spend $20.00 too much?

We adopted a cat. He is an adorable cat with a likable, outgoing personality. His 'two week trial period' ends on Saturday. And he is 'broken'. He has had diarrhea since we adopted him. He has an eye that we have been doctoring. His previous owner has connections with a vet that supplies her with (perhaps expired?) medications. So we have been following her advise and doctoring him as she suggests. And nothing has really changed.

I can't afford to adopt a cat with ongoing medical bills. But we like him. We really like him. He shows absolutely no outward symptoms of feeling badly. His litter box says otherwise, but he is vibrant, energetic and his fur is shiny and he is the picture of health. I booked an appointment for him to see our vet. $65.00 for the check up, plus $70 - $90 for any blood work (with the possibility of an additional $20 in courier costs if they needed to send anything out) and that doesn't even include the cost of any medication they may suggest.

This morning? I am going to cancel that appointment. Instead, I shall call the person I adopted him from and talk to her about the possibility of having her vet check him out instead (if his problems persist). Instinct tells me that his symptoms are stress induced. He is a jumpy cat. I think his stomach is settling in to his new home and family. I have a stomach like that. He is acting healthy in every other way. I think I'll save those vet costs for another day ...

But tonight? I am off to buy another tricycle for our daycare. Grand total spent - $10.00. Hmmm ... a savings of almost $200.00 on present day vet costs (future costs unknown) verses current spending of $10.00. It sounds good this morning. How will this compute in the future?

My car has been leaking automatic transmission fluid ever since I had it flushed and changed at my last oil change. I checked the level regularly but since the level continued to be fine, I guessed that maybe they had over-filled it when they changed it. What do I know?

Finally, the level dipped to the 'add' level on the dip stick. Then my son told me that I should check this level while the car is running. The fluid barely reached the bottom of the dip stick when I checked it properly. Whoops...

I called my friendly neighborhood mechanic yesterday morning to see if they could check this out for me. They were happy to accommodate me, only they were booked until Monday. Meanwhile, I had this running commentary going on in the back of my mind. I am getting a new fence. What if the car breaks down? What if the furnace or air conditioner or anything else major needs to be replaced or fixed around the house? Do I have a contingency plan in place???

So ... last night, I stopped in at the place that flushed my transmission (back in February) and told my little leakage story (and why I had delayed coming by sooner). I honestly thought that any 'warranty' on the work that they did four months ago would have expired. But after hearing me out, they were happy to check into my problem. Immediately. Within the hour, they found and rectified the problem. They topped up my transmission fluid and sent me on my way. It didn't cost a penny.

There we go! Crisis averted (today). Money saved for another day? Can you 'save' money that you didn't have in the first place?!??

So tonight? If that Little Tykes ride-in car is still for sale? I just may add that to our Daycare Inventory ...

What I save on one hand (by not purchasing that-which-I-really-couldn't-afford-in-the-first-place), I am spending on the other. Is this what they call new math? Am I digging myself into a hole with this thinking?

I may be in the hole ... but I will have a nice new fence around it!