Monday, September 30, 2013

Facing Fears

I need to push myself to do more 'hard things'.

I didn't enjoy the discomfort of attending my high school reunion last weekend but I did put myself back into a situation that I didn't handle well the first time around and I did better with 35 years of life experience behind me.

My memories of that evening will not be about catching up with old friends, but I did make a friend out of the fear factor that ruled my life back in my high school years. It was empowering.

I came home and the words poured out of my fingertips. I had overcome a fear and I felt very brave in the wake of a harrowing experience.

I haven't had much to write about since then. I think that it is time to go and face some more fears.

I must let my 15-year-old son behind the wheel of the car and guide him into a comfort level that will allow him to (eventually) earn his driver's license.

Yes My Son, I must face my fears. Let's go driving tonight!

To be continued...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Step One - Closing Windows

I succeeded in my goal in closing all (but one) window that was open on the computer yesterday. And boy do I feel 'warm' inside.

This morning, I woke up with more energy than I have had in a very long time. The feeling of being overwhelmed is subsiding.

I do need to get out of the habit of wandering by the computer and reopening those closed programs just to satisfy my curiosity (or is it emptiness??). But I'm off to a decent start.

I have one project that I do want to devote my 'computer time' to and that shall be my focus as I keep all excess computer programs and energy-draining gizmos and gadgets out of sight.

I gave myself the day to finish that which I had started and catch up on a few of the missed episodes of the (very few) television programs I follow.

Am I the only person in the modern world who was actually disappointed that the new season began? I enjoyed the summer of freedom-from-TV.

I have to learn to tune out the technological part of the world. I need to tune back into my inner self and see who I have become since I last checked in.

But right now? I have a full day of work to go and put in. The sooner I start, the sooner I'll finish. Right?

Then I can come in and enjoy a quiet evening at home. Without a 'window' of opportunity to draw me away from what I know that I need most of all.

Keeping those windows shut is going to be a hard habit to break. Sometimes this is the only way that I feel connected to the outside, adult world. But perhaps it is because I have done this to myself.

Living life 'in person' is a better way. I will attempt to relearn that skill.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Playing Catch-Up

Losing a weekend (and all of the sleep that goes along with an out-of-town-adventure) does not bode well for the week that follows. At least for me ...

I could not sleep last weekend. One part anxiety + another part missing-my-home-environment + yet another part adrenaline = three parts of emotional exhaustion at the dawn of a new week.

Emotional wear and tear does not work well when trying to accomplish anything of importance during ten hour days of tending small children. I should not be trying to accomplish anything at all during my days of care-giving. In the past, I have been able to fit a few things into the cracks of my days. Lately? Not so much.

My brain is a replica of what you see in andaround our home.

If the kitchen table has anything at all on it, my brain is at least 'that' full. But a true indication of what is happening within my mind, is what you see happening on the desktop of our main computer.

On a 'normal' day, I will have one or two tabs open on the Internet browser so I can quickly check on what my Facebook friends are doing or anything related to my blog. On any other day, I will have numerous tabs open so that I can read something that sounded intriguing ... or look up an answer to something that I was wondering about ... or finish researching something that I was supposed to do ... or any number of things.

If I have my small net-book computer turned on, this is very dangerous indeed. As a rule, I will have my Family Research project opened up. If I have been displaced from our main computer, I will have the Internet browser up and running and opened up to all-that-interests-me-at-the-moment.

This week, I have had to tend to columns that are due, reservations to be made, responding to emails about our Family Research, replying to emails from friends-that-I-have-been-neglecting, my quarterly daycare newsletter that is pending and my daily blog updates here and for my daycare families.

I had not yet opened last Sunday's paper (on Wednesday) when a student walked up our driveway just as we were exiting our car to tell us that we would be receiving a free daily newspaper for a 'nominal fee' to help him with school expenses. A daily paper to read when I cannot even keep up to our free weekly paper?! I don't think so.

I bought myself a magazine to read during my real-life Hotel Oasis Adventure when I attended my high school reunion last weekend. I didn't even open it until two days after I got back home. And it had a crossword inside of it. Me and crosswords! If I see one, I must do it. And it cannot be done half way. It must be done to my satisfaction. Any literature that contains a crossword becomes a-job-that-must-be-done.

The week has not been conducive to finishing that which I have started.

The columns that I intended to submit on Thursday? I finally completed the job two days later. The reservations that I could have made on Thursday? Waited until Friday. This morning, I have tended to all-that-must-be-done and I have been exiting out of windows on the computer with a flourish (as I wrote that sentence, I discovered two unread emails; responded to one and started a reply to the second...).

It is little wonder that I am not accomplishing anything. I am not sticking with one thing until it is done.

It is my goal to turn off the distractions within my world. I want to relearn the habit of starting and finishing one thing before I 'open up' six other 'windows'.

I am tired of starting ten things and finishing none. I believe that I am allowing (inviting) the on-line world to intrude upon my day when it has no business sticking its nose into the cracks of my day. I must deal with the five windows that are open on the computer at this moment and live this day out loud. Even if living it means opening up a book and sitting still for more than two minutes at a time.

I'm tired of feeling that I'm falling behind. I have set unrealistic goals if I cannot complete them. It is time to do a little housekeeping-in-my-mind and tend to that which is truly the most important.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Original Title - Letting in the Day (Revised Title - Excuses, Excuses!)

Thursday, September 26 - Letting in the Day

I can tell a lot about 'where I am at' by the status of our living room blinds.

Lately I have been very hesitant to open the blinds (which in my mind signify Open for Business) each week day morning. I have felt so un-ready to face these early mornings since the sun started sleeping in.

One of my daycare moms sometimes misjudges her time and arrives ten to fifteen minutes before my stated start-time. When I open the blinds early and find her car sitting there, my heart sinks. So I have started delaying the opening-of-the-curtains until I am mentally ready to find someone there.

It has not been unusual to open up the door and find one of my daycare parents ready to open the door themselves. The moments between "I'm ready" and "Go" have been next to non-existent.

The days when I can bravely open up the blinds fifteen minutes early (knowing that I am psyched up and ready to face the day if it is sitting there waiting for me) are the days that I strive towards.

I have been finding it increasingly hard to open up those blinds in the morning...

Friday, September 27 - Excuses, Excuses

I wrote those words yesterday morning just as I opened up the blinds. Fifteen minutes ahead of the start of my day. I thought I was ready. I wasn't.

The minute I typed those words, life swept in and carried me away from my thoughts, myself and the quiet of my all-too-short-morning. Again.

The kids barrelled in and wanted to pick up from where we left off yesterday. Playing games on the computer. Dancing, playing 'drums' (upside down margarine containers) and 'maraccas' (containers filled with rice) to our new-favorite-song ...

I had an unfinished (okay, okay ... I hadn't even started it yet) Birthday Project for one of my daycare family to create. I was in no mood to share the computer. But I did ...

From there, the kids went wild. This was only our second day of rain and cool weather. And we are already stir crazy. We went for a walk to the mailbox and when we came home, I instructed the kids to RUN in the back yard. Of course running is much more fun in the house and the acoustics (for yelling) are more effective with a roof to contain the noise. They ran all right. They ran into the mud and I had three sets of muddy shoes to contend with when we got inside.

I had to separate the kids while I assembled lunch. I couldn't take the dynamics when two of them were together (my two copycats copy each other to pieces and it always ends (or starts) with running and screaming and bouncing and ...). It took forever to make a simple soup and sandwich kind of meal.

Of course my three-year-old chose this same day to NOT fall asleep at nap time. He played instead. It delayed his falling asleep time by an hour. I thought this would also delay his wake-up time, so I was fine with that. He woke up earlier than he usually does.

Finally ... the house was quiet. I checked my email and found a message from a friend that has been sending me messages for a few weeks now and I still hadn't made the time to respond. So I started a response. Then I received a text from My Youngest as he was on his bus, on his way home from school (I forgot it was early dismissal day). Then the phone rang and it was a friend in a moment of crisis.

My Youngest got home and took over the computer. My Friend and I talked as long as our Daycare Lives would allow us. The kids woke up. And it was the morning all over again ...

My Birthday Project had been abandoned because I couldn't save my 'creation' on a DVD. I had scheduled 'problem solving' into our nap time, but that time was eaten up by other demands. I hadn't had a chance to make a card or anything inventive to present this little gift-of-video-footage to my Birthday Girl. And I was running out of time.

Finally, finally, finally I had printed off a birthday card that was simply going to have to do. And I assembled my little Daycare Family of Three at the table with paper and crayons. I wanted each of the kids to 'sign' the card to give to their Daycare Friend. And it worked. The energy in the house subsided and that got us through until the end of the day (which, by this time was minutes away).

Then (as if the day wasn't already full enough), I had to go and run a few errands. The cats were out of food and I needed milk for my Daycare Family. They were errands that could not be put off any longer.

I flopped into the car with a great sigh of relief when I completed my errands and was soooooo happy to be headed home when ... my key would not work in the car. I tried everything I knew  how to try. I checked to see if I was sitting in the right car. I was. I tried again and again and again (the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to be different. Yes, the state of insanity was seeping deep into my soul).

Finally, I sent out an SOS to my Middle Son. Thankfully, he was home. Even more thankfully, he was willing to come and rescue me (after his trouble shooting suggestions didn't work). My Son must have sensed my low tolerance at the moment because he didn't even give me a very hard time when what he had suggested on the phone ... worked. I was off and driving within seconds.

I came home, grabbed my little DVD player and the latest episode of the Gilmore Girls that I had missed during my non-existent quiet time of the day. I plopped down on the couch with a can of Pringles, some sour ju-jubes and a bottle of Coke. I ate my 'supper' in my little room-with-a-door.

And this is why I didn't post a blog entry yesterday. Am I excused??

I should have kept the blinds closed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Today's Mantra

What I am is ...


I watched this little music video and I felt happy. 

I am going to play this for my daycare family this morning. We are going to sing and we are going to dance and we are going to live this little song today.

What I am is ... grateful!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Insurance Lottery

How often do you pick up the phone from your friendly, neighborhood insurance agent and receive good news?

I used to avoid answering those calls altogether because I felt that I was going to be on the other end of a sales pitch. At one time, that is exactly what happened. 

I listened to two of those sales pitches and then my insurance agent must have tagged my file 'DO NOT SOLICIT' because if she calls me now, it is because something needs immediate attention.

My term insurance just expired so last month I went through the renewal process before my premiums automatically rolled over into a much higher rate. If I went through the reapplication process and updated my medical history I could save a small fortune in monthly premiums.

I had just had my annual check-up and I was pleased to report that the absolutely only health issue that I had was sore thumbs. I am 52 years old and I have sore thumbs (and sore feet if I wear the wrong shoes). Any and all other health questions that I had in the past had been investigated and I have been deemed with a clean bill of health.

It is a wonderful, wonderful thing to simply feel ... good. I wake up in the morning and I pretty much know what to expect. My body parts all work and get me where I want to go. I have no mysterious aches and pains that worry me. I simply feel the way that I expect to feel and have felt for most of my life.

Do I appreciate how fortunate I am? Beyond words. People all around me have health concerns that affect their day-to-day life. 

I know that what I have is a gift. But what I didn't know is that this gift would save me money.

My insurance agent called me yesterday to congratulate me on qualifying for the insurance premium that she had quoted me. Then she told me since my health was above average for my age, I qualified for the 'super-healthy' discounted premium. My monthly premium would be $11.70 less than she quoted me. 

I felt like I had won the best lottery that life has to offer. Not only would I save a little bit of money each month, but I was officially dubbed with the terminology of 'above average health' several years after my 50th birthday.

She asked me if I would like to increase my insurance coverage by $50,000 and still save $5 per month from the premium that she originally quoted. I told her that I had no intention of 'winning' the insurance lottery by checking out early so I would keep my $11.70 per month and enjoy it now instead.

If I save that $11.70 in monthly savings over the course of my ten year term, I will amass $1,404.00. Or that would pretty much cover one take-out-meal-for-two at Burger King. Or several cups of coffee.

No matter which way I look at it, $11.70 in the hand is better than a bonus $50,000 in an estate. I don't know any better way to win at this insurance game.

Monday, September 23, 2013

High School Reunion - The "Ah-ha" Moment

The evening was filled with little things that would come together and become bigger things as the evening progressed.

Before the little things started to accumulate, there were many tedious moments. The moments that don't matter. Small talk. I don't do small talk well. I can't talk about things-that-don't-matter for hours on end.

The boys lined up along one wall. They chatted amongst themselves. It felt like the popular crowd were mixing and I was back where I was back in 1975. The wallflower. The girl that no one noticed. The girl that wanted to melt into the background and become nothing more than an 'extra' in the movie reel called My High School Years.

One girl walked up to me and lifted up my name tag and read my name. "Nope, I don't know you", and she walked on without a backwards glance. It was so rude (and so typical of the reaction that I truly expected) that I laughed to myself. It's going to be a long night...

Others approached me and told me a small piece of their story. They were the girls that 'didn't graduate' with the class. They had graduated out of high school and into Real Life early when they had their first child as the rest of the class waited out their Grade 12 year and graduated with a Grade 12 Diploma instead. I belonged to graduation-into-real-life-early  club.

I was such a forgettable presence throughout my high school years. I was so forgettable that I don't even remember being there myself. The only proof that I attended high school is my report cards and my face in the yearbook at the end of the year. I didn't expect anyone to remember me because I had no memory of anyone from those years either.

The evening progressed and I became a small bit more courageous than the meek and mild 15 year old that walked through the door during the cocktail hour. I recognized some faces from the popular crowd but they were busy among themselves reminiscing and remembering and doing that-which-people-do at a reunion. They were catching up.

How do you catch up with a person that you never knew in the first place? Why did I ever think that this would be any different than walking through the hallway of my high school? Why did I put myself in this position all over again? What was I thinking?!?

I was thinking that there was a reason that I felt so strongly that I attend this event. The moment would unveil itself to me in its own time. I just knew it. Or so I thought.

The evening progressed at its own pace. From cocktails ... to supper ... to dancing ... picture taking ...

I talked with a few people that I knew from my junior high years. They remembered my name. They knew who I was. I remembered how they made me feel when I was at my shiest and at my ugliest. Some said kind things. I told them that their kindness was never forgotten.

Then one of the 'popular girls' recognized me and quickly grabbed a chair to sit down and stay a while. We were never friends but we knew each other. My teenage-self sat in the sidelines and admired those who appeared to have it all, know how to have fun with life and make friends easily. This girl was very popular but she was also very nice. She was always very kind to me. I remembered this and I told her.

She gushed. Suddenly she was fifteen again too. I confessed my innermost teenage insecurities to her. I was ugly, unpopular and painfully shy. I told her how I saw her - pretty, confident and popular. She looked at me with astonishment and said, "Really?!?? I always felt fat ..."

Oh. My. Gosh. The prettiest, nicest, most popular girl had self esteem issues while I thought that she had it all?? 

We peeled back the layers of who we were and how we saw each other and the conversation progressed into our real life, current day fears. It turns out that they are very parallel. Even after all these years!

She never married. I married once (a very long time ago). She is six months into a brand new relationship. She looked like a teenager as she expressed her unexpected delight at finding this relationship when she least expected it in her life. She asked me if I was dating anyone right now. I said, "Oh, no!!" She asked why. I said that I think that I am just a little bit terrified of the mere idea of getting to know someone new. She confessed that she had exactly the same fears and we exchanged private confidences that I never speak aloud. 

It was the "Ah-ha" moment that I knew I was waiting for. The confession of all that lies beneath the surface between two people that (at a glance) would appear to be polar opposite. She exudes confidence and invites interaction from the opposite sex into her world. I feel unnoticeable and like I walk around real life with my walls up and invite no male to cross that line. Real or imagined. We wear the same fear entirely differently.

There is a lesson to be learned from this one short encounter. Never assume to know how another human being is feeling underneath all of the protective layers that they place in their lives. 

I believe that we have our own personal demons that we carry within us. Fear, insecurity, anxiety, hope, despair and self-confidence issues. Just as we all choose to dress ourselves with our own personal style and flair (or lack of it), that is just one coat of armor to penetrate before you know the real person that lies beneath.

If I didn't know this girl, I may sit back and make assumptions about who she was by the exterior that she portrays to the world. Did some part of me subconsciously feel some of those insecurities within this very popular, self-assured looking girl all along? I never made assumptions. Not then, nor 35 years later when this exact replica of her teenage self wove her way throughout the evening before we sat down and talked. 

She walked away and resumed her life as she knew it. But our conversation changed me. It reinforced what I knew all along. We are all so very much the same when we let down our guard and admit our innermost thoughts and fears. What is on the outside does not matter. It is what is on the inside that really counts. We are vulnerable when we reveal our true selves. 

I feel for the people who don't trust the world enough to open up and let others know who they are. Hidden truths are a force field that instil detachment and relationships that don't go beneath the surface. It must be one of the loneliest places in the world.

I walked out of the doors at the end of the evening with one lesson in my mind. A lesson my mom has tried to instil in us our whole lives. It was the mantra that I wanted to be going through my mind as I walked through those very same doors at the beginning of the evening. But I completely and totally forgot what I wanted to feel the moment those teenage insecurities swept in and overtook me. 

My wise mom once told me, "As good as you are and as bad as I am, I am as good as you are as bad as I am."

These are good words to live by. 

High School Reunion - The Boy

There once was a boy that either had a crush on me or had taken it upon himself to tease me in a way that my twelve year old self didn't recognize. I'll never know which of the two it was. But my twelve year old self thought he liked me and I remembered that feeling.

I approached him. I greeted him by his first and last name. I introduced myself with my first and last name. He said, "I remember you!" and immediately informed me that he was texting his wife.

This was a conversation that would not go far but it was one of the first brave things that I did that night. He went his way. I went my way. That would be the end. For the moment.

I went up to my hotel room and regrouped. I brushed my teeth. I texted my brother and I made a promise that got me through the moment. I would go back downstairs and rejoin my Grade 10 nightmare. The first and last high school dance that I ever attended was renamed my 35 Year High School Reunion.

I went back as my 52 year old self and I left that 15 year old girl back in 1975 where she belonged.

The group that I was sitting with started to dance. It was dancing-without-partners and simply moving and grooving to the beat of the music that took us all back to 1975 - 1978.

I took every single thing that I learned about ballroom dancing and threw it all out the window. The only thing that I kept was the self esteem that my dance lessons have instilled in me. I danced like no one was watching and it was a wonderful thing.

Eventually this confidence gave me the courage to ask the-boy-who-(maybe?)-once-liked-me to dance a slow dance.

"Would you like to dance with me? I love this song. Nothing else ..." (hand in a "Stop! Don't go there!!" gesture) and he said that he would love to dance with me.

And we danced.

Conversation was easy. Getting easier by the moment as he drew me in a little closer so that he could hear what I said.

I was holding my frame firmly in the ballroom dance position that I know well. My body language clearly stated 'let's keep some daylight between us'. He was making moves that my dance instructor knew to wait at least ten years to teach me. We were in the 'competitive Tango dance position' (translation: a hundred dollar bill could have been placed between our torsos and it was not going anywhere - in fact, held there long enough it would have probably accrued a little 'interest').

Well, My Friend, I'm not much of  'Tango' person myself. I'm a fan of jiving a little and having fun at a distance until I know you very, very well and ensuring you do not have any other 'Tango' partners...

The moment lasted no longer than the song that we danced to. Three minutes took me back to Grade 7 and the way my twelve-year-old-self felt when this boy may or may not have indicated his interest in me. It was fun to go back there and think that perhaps that boy liked me.

Another childhood memory revisited and put to rest. Thanks, My Friend! You gave me such a gift. You made me feel attractive and desirable. It has been a very, very long time since I felt that way.

It was a moment. But it changed me...

High School Reunion - Overcoming Fear

Why in the world did I think this was a good idea?

I sat there. Alone. Everyone was mingling, visiting, laughing and catching up with old friends. I didn't know anyone well enough to know who they used to be. I was back in Grade 10 again.

I have few memories from my high school years so I knew that no one at my high school reunion would remember me. My wish was that I would run into one old friend from my junior high years. That wish was not to be granted.

I was the painfully shy, ugly girl all over again. The only thing that was different is that I didn't run home with my tail between my legs and vow to never, ever, ever put myself out there like that again.

I was driven to attend this event. Something bigger than myself had the courage to RSVP and say "Yes" to something that was a little bit terrifying to the fifteen year old girl that still lives deep inside of me. There was a reason that I went. So I did my first brave thing. I stayed.

It took over three hours to work up the courage to get up from the table and get myself a glass of wine. I would prefer to drink nothing at all, than to get up and get a drink by myself. I've lived a life where people around me do those little things for me. I am a little bit sheltered that way. So I did my second brave thing. I got myself a drink.

I had taken only a few sips of wine on a full stomach and the majority of those sitting at our table got up to dance to the sound track of our high school years. I moved. The music seeped inside of my bones and took over. I danced like no one was watching. I simply felt the music and danced. I danced like I have never danced before (well there was one prior alcohol-induced dance incident in 1988...).

This dancing was 'me'. It was not the alcohol. Minutes prior to this, I was the painfully shy, ugly girl. Now I was the less shy, less ugly me that danced.

I love what music does to me. It recreates me from the inside, out. I feel more of the music and less of the ugly. Music gives me courage. The courageous me started to emerge. The part of me that has always been there broke out of the paralysis that had overtaken the fifteen year old me. And I danced.

I overcame a great hurdle at our school reunion. I still didn't know anyone but I revealed a piece of myself that was always inside of me but terrified to come out.

The evening was (finally) off to a good start...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Prep Work for the Big Reunion

Preparations for my weekend getaway are under way. Tomorrow is the day of my 35th high school reunion. I have been having a love/hate reaction with this event.

When I received the invitation I was intrigued by the idea of going. As I immersed myself in my high school yearbook and found an on line site where fellow-graduates had made their mark, I found myself getting excited. The feelings were so strong that I made my decision. I was going to go.

That was three months ago.

Last week I had convinced myself that by not going, I would save myself time and money. I had already booked myself 'off' from the world. No one would be expecting a thing from me. I could go and find a quiet place in the house and just reconvene with my quiet side. This was sounding better by the moment.

Then I talked with a friend that will be going. She (re)convinced me that I should go. I quickly remembered that deep sense of knowing I wanted to attend this event (all those months ago). I was convinced. I would go as planned.

As the date crept closer I did nothing to prepare myself for this event. There has been no extra-curricular primping going on. Other than my ultra-ultra-short haircut growing out (and the roots in need of a touch up, right along with it) I have done nothing to enhance my normal look.

Then came yesterday. What to do? What to do??

I started by collecting some photos. I read the memo about bringing photos but did not reread it before I had put together a collage of photos that showcased the highlights of my life-so-far. There is nothing like going through old memories to take you out of the spot you are in.

As I assembled My Life on one sheet of paper, I must say that I was happy with what I saw. My family, my work, my home and my passions are all wrapped up together in one place. And it looks good. It looks very good.

It was a very healthy exercise for me at a time when darkness was overtaking the sun in my days. Collecting memories and a highlight reel of my life helped me focus on the goals I achieved verses the mountains I have yet to climb.

It is better to focus on who you are verses who you are not. What you have verses what is lacking. What you have done verses that which has been abandoned.

Try to assemble the highlight reel of your own life. I think you will be happy with what you see when you put it all together in one small spot.

P.S. Upon rereading 'the memo', it clearly states to bring family photos to display at the family booth. Whoops! Although my family contained within my photo collage, it is really more all-about-me than it is all-about-family. Apparently I have become quite self absorbed over the course of these 35 years since high school ...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hope Begins in the Dark

I need sun. I need it shining in the windows before I wake in the morning. I have no concept of time in the darkness. I simply want to sleep.

I wrote about my sentiments over the shortening days to a friend in an email and forgot I wrote it. In her abbreviated reply, I found this disjointed paragraph, "Vitamin D 2000 to 3000 IU my doctor says...." It wasn't until I came back at it later and reread my original email that I figured out that she was talking about the lack of sun. Once again, I thought to myself - unless someone takes that Vitamin D and shines it through my windows in the morning, that is of no use to me.

I cannot recall ever feeling like this in the fall. By March? Yes! I have been known to sit in a sunbeam and soak up the rays simply to replenish that missing Vitamin D. But I don't think I'm missing the vitamin yet. It is simply the sun that is lacking.

I suppose that I should turn on every light in the house as I wake, to give me the illusion of daylight (she writes, as she sits in the darkness with little more than the light from the computer screen illuminating her way). I love this sensation of writing in the darkness when it is Christmas time and the only lights that I turn on are the Christmas lights. But this is September. We have not yet reached the point where our daylight hours equal the darkness.

The weather is showing signs of the impending cooler days. Our mornings are brisk. You need three layers of clothing to get through the temperature changes of the day. At least we can still go outside ...

I find the mere idea of winter overwhelming me. I am working at the best job in the world where I don't have to brave the harsh weather. My work comes to me. All we have to do is hunker down and find ways to spend our days within the warmth and comfort of home. Yet I feel a case of cabin fever coming on.

We have spent a great deal of this summer outside. The only days we sequestered ourselves inside, were the ones where the heat was unbearable and it was more comfortable (and safer) to stay inside of an air conditioned house.

Our five day forecast is predicting beautiful fall weather. Three out of five of those days are Daycare Days. Two of those days I will not even be home.

Two of those days I will be out and about as I attend the school reunion that I thought that I was anticipating. It turns out ... I am not. The clouds have come in and are raining on my parade. The self confidence that I planned on packing up and accessorizing myself with? I think that it is somewhere out there with the sun that is lacking.

This too shall pass away. I know that it will. It always does. It is always darkest before the dawn. I feel something on my horizon and I think that it is going to be great. Because it is feeling pretty dark around here right now.

"Hope begins in the dark, 
the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, 
the dawn will come. 
You wait and watch and work: 
you don't give up."
~ Anne Lamott 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Listen to Your World Today

One of my daycare charges is missing this week. He is a little personality that absorbs the world and everything that he sees, hears and feels is reflected in his behaviour. I thought it would be a quiet week. I was wrong.

I take care of a little girl with a very small voice. She loves action, activity and she has honed the art of that ear piercing scream that could shatter a window. She is drawn to those around her that channel her energy and open the door to playing out her style of fun.

The third child that I tend is a little bit of a diva. She knows what she wants and she pursues her end-goals relentlessly. Her voice is loud and clear. If she has been wronged, we know about it. She plays just as happily on her own as she does with her partners-in-daycare.

Mix these personalities up in a bowl and you have My Day.

This week has been a very good eye opener for me. The loudest 'voice' in our daycare crowd is missing, but I still hear him. Because he has been channelling the energy, behaviours, misdemeanour's and actions of the two that he left behind. He amplifies what he sees and projects it repetitively into our day.

As I absorbed this knowledge and recognized the fact that I must look beyond his behaviour to see where (and who) it is stemming from, I couldn't help but wonder just how many of our 'bad days' are when he is channelling my actions and feelings.

A friend dropped by to visit last week. She works in a daycare so we have many daycare-related conversations. But she came over after my daycare family had gone home for the day. But she visited and interacted with each and every one of our pets throughout the course of our visit.

Our sickly Senior Cat literally stopped in mid stride as she called out to him. He approached  her and took up his perch where she could easily love, adore and talk to him. He purred his loud, monster-purr (that we have not heard since he got sick). He stretched, rolled and took in every ounce of love that she had to give him.

Our Junior (Scaredy) Cat approached her without reserve and took what she had to give and moved on. Other than being apprehensive about anything new or different and being skittish to the nth degree, he has few health or self esteem issues. So he accepted her kindness and moved on.

We went outside and our (normally) bouncing, jumping dogs actually listened to me when I told them to stay 'down'. Within moments our Little Dog resumed his position and took over the lawn swing. But what astounded and amazed me was the way our Big Dog (who will sit still for My Son, but quite literally vibrates at times because she is so full of energy) sat motionless and perfectly at the side of My Friend. My Friend and I chatted and our Big Dog sat absolutely still and simply revelled in the light touch of My Friend as she mindlessly massaged the top of our dog's head. I had never seen our Big Dog so absolutely entranced.

My Friend left and I got to thinking about some of her 'shadows' at daycare. The little kids that have a hard time feeling comfortable in a new environment are drawn to her and will follow her everywhere. The calming energy that she projects into the world invites such trust. Small children and animals can feel it and channel it as easily as my little three-year-old boy who reflects the world he lives in.

We all absorb, reflect and internalize the world that we live in. Sometimes we reverberate in that energy, other times we quietly take it all in and it changes our internal make-up. Perhaps the key lies in (first of all) absorbing and taking in 'life'. Internalizing and processing this information is a good second step to take before we outwardly reflect that which we see, feel and hear.

If all we do is absorb and internalize that which happens to us without a release valve of expressing and letting it go, little things become bigger-than-they-are.

If we respond to life's stimuli as a reflex action, without conscious thought of the consequences of our actions we don't grow and become as-much-as-we-can-be.

I want to hone the gift that My Friend has. She is highly sensitized to the world. She sees, hears and feels all. She takes it all in and it comes out in a sense of calmness and peace that invites those around her to trust her implicitly with their fears, inhibitions and vulnerabilities.

I strive to become a little bit like my little daycare charge that has learned at the tender age of two years old, to go after what she wants in the world. She lives out loud and screams at the injustices of life as they happen.

When I react in a knee-jerk fashion to that which happens to me, I am no better than the little boy that I tend that reflects his world without processing it first.

There is much to be learned from those who cross our paths in life. Listen to your internal reactions to the people in your world today. What do you hear?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Perfection of a Sweet/Sour Mixture That is Life

Something has changed inside of me. It takes so much less to fill and satisfy me than it used to ...

I noticed a change a little while ago when we had several tasty packages of cookies in the house. The cookies had a happy and positive association with a supper meal that My Brother and His Family served to us during our holiday. When I returned home I knew that I wanted 'more of the same', so I bought two packages of these cookies.

I opened the package and realized that the brand was not identical, thus the sensation was a little bit off. But who can go wrong with a basic cookie base with a chocolate covered topping? So I ate them. But the strange part of this was that I could eat no more than three cookies. Per day.

I know, I know ... to most people this is probably too much to begin with. But I know 'me' and this was new for me. I have eaten so much beyond the point of being satisfied, so often that this was a new and foreign land. Satisfying the emptiness inside of me with three cookies?!? What is going on here?

Then I started  noticing other little shifts in my norm.

I could only eat a few of my most favorite 'sour' candies at a time. In fact, I have almost stopped craving them at all. Popcorn has lost its appeal. I have eaten some potato chips but mostly in an attempt to rekindle an old love affair with anything of the greasy, salty kind.

My newest passion with food is sour ju-jubes. I want for nothing else. I just want these specific ju-jubes. But (here is the amazing part) I can only eat a handful at a time. I tried to eat more one night when I really, really wanted to stay awake, but I physically couldn't.

Yesterday afternoon, I found myself craving sugar. Sugar in any variety. We were out of snacks, out of cookies, out of everything that I knew to contain sugar. Finally I remembered that we had some milk chocolate, chocolate chips.

Ahhh, the relief of finding a small dose of sugar when I needed it the most. But again, I started and stopped eating these tasty little morsels of goodness within a very respectable time frame. And I was done. My craving was satisfied.

I had to go out and replenish our milk supply last night so I took precautionary measures and replaced our sugar supply as well.

We returned home and it was still early. There was plenty of snacking time left in the evening. But I wasn't craving anything that I had just bought. Trust me, I only bought my absolute favorite things. It was disgusting. I walked up and down the snack, sugar and cookie aisles and thought, "No ... not that ... that isn't what I'm after ... too sweet ... too chocolatey ... nope ... no! ... NO!!"

I bought one box of the cookies I had at My Brothers. I bought some Pringles because they were on sale. I had to go to my favorite bulk food supplier to replenish my sour ju-jube supply. I was very particular about what I bought. Even though I bought nothing by my absolute favorites, I came home and wanted ... nothing.

I am full. I am satisfied. I ache for nothing ... except a little bit of sugar now and again - most especially a sweet/sour combination.

This is very much how I feel about my life right now. It is a perfect combination of sweetness intermixed with a little bit of sour flavor. Oh, the contrasts in life. We simply don't appreciate one without the other.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Not Enough, Too Much ... or is it Just Enough?

Not enough time.  That feels like the story of my life right now.

When I returned home from my nine-hour-day of work on Saturday, I came home to find that outside chores had been tended in my absence. The kitchen was full of the aroma and sense of busyness that comes from someone baking. The house felt full and busy.

Within that-which-is-full, comes obligation. Our Senior Cat was waiting to be fed. Junior Cat was wandering around the house with a watering, half-closed, sore looking eye. My Youngest was hovering in the background (sort of) waiting for an offer of supper.

I had dirty laundry awaiting me. Cat litter to be tended. A full dishwasher. Why in the world do I feel the need to add that?! I have a machine that does all of the work for me and all I have to do is turn it on. And I call that work? Washing clothes is basically the same thing. The only part of that entire job that is work, is putting everything away once it is clean.

I tended that (and those) that needed to be tended and I couldn't get to bed soon enough. The day was just a little bit too full. But it was followed by Sunday which made everything okay in my world.

A morning of tending to me. An afternoon that had a holiday-like quality to it as My Youngest and I spent six hours in the hub of our city. My Youngest participated in a fund raising activity, I absorbed the inspiration that surrounded the event, then went off on my own for an hour before we met up for lunch and a movie.

Once again it was a day where six hours were spent out of the house but the house was calm and relatively empty upon our arrival back home. Other than our ever-needy Senior Cat wanting some supper, no one needed a piece of me.

It was heavenly to return to a home where there were no demands placed upon me.

As I reflected to the overwhelmed feeling that I felt on Saturday when I had too much to do, not enough time and feeling torn by work and obligations, I quickly looked at the opposite end of that spectrum.

How would I feel if I returned to an empty home? A home where the onus of responsibility was (once again) 100% mine. A home where the phone didn't ring or life didn't demand enough from me. A home that wasn't full of responsibility and interaction. What if I didn't have an excuse to leave my home in the first place?

I will endeavor to enjoy what I have while I have it. One never knows what tomorrow brings and though we think we know what we want ... what we need is very often not what we expect it to be.

Enjoy your 'today'!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

It DOES All Work Out in the End

It is the end. It all worked out.

Our Fence Project gone sour has wound to a close. The fence is up. And (drum roll please) a good portion of my deposit to our Fence People has been refunded for a job-not-done. The end.

Insert huge sigh of relief here.

In other news, our morning of Friday, the thirteenth started with a phone call from our friendly, neighborhood city bus depot. The wallet that my Youngest Son lost after school on Thursday ... FOUND. Everything was completely intact. Even the small amount of change inside.

I knew it was going to be a good day.

As our day wound down to a close My Youngest realized what day it was and said, "Friday the 13th is a good luck day for our family" ... and upon a few more moment's thoughts he added "And our two black cats bring us good luck as well".


Happy Saturday the 14th to you. 

Just remember Sonny's famous words - "Everything will be all right in the end ... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end." ~  "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"

Amen, Sonny. Amen!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Living Out Loud

I have been censoring my thoughts and words this week and it hurts.

I live out loud in this little place called My Blog. I am careful with what I write here because friends and family read this and I do not want to set off any false alarms. As a rule this works well for me because it puts me in a place that I most-like-to-be. One can usually find the lessons within life's little challenges. Sometimes my fingers take me that spot sooner than I may get there if I rely solely on my reasoning abilities.

This week started out like any other. I was living my quiet little life, seasoned with ups and downs and the emotions one feels as you sort through the rubble of the day. This week is no different than any other ... except for the fact that I am a little more consumed with worrying about my financial state of affairs than usual (note to self: do not undertake any further renovations until you have the cash to do so).

Mom called me on Sunday night. She was concerned about the tone in the blogs that I sent to her. These blogs were one to two weeks old. Old news. Old worries. Old words. If I was my mom, I would think "Wow! Look how she worked through that little mess..." and I would carry on with my own self-absorbed world.

Need I say more? I am not my mom. And she is not me. She worries. She worries oh-so-much. She exhausts me with the energy she spends on worrying. I make every attempt not to be the source of her worry-of-the-moment.

I failed.

I'm tired. My life is too 'loud' at the moment. I can't find my quiet little space and a safe space to unleash my words. I need a spot to be real and uncensored.

I haven't found that spot for a little while and I lost my centre of gravity. The world beneath my feet was not quite as stable without those real and grounding conversations. In fact, I was almost at the point where if I had to have another mindless conversation about nothing I may have screamed. Out loud.

Then I had to worry about my mom. I couldn't even write honestly because of what I thought she may think and how she would internalize my words. My mom doesn't even have the Internet and has no way of knowing what I write here unless I print it off and send it to her. This is the power that my mom (still) has over me.

I was immobilized. Over nothing.

I was not overly affected by living my own life in the fashion that I was living it until my mom called me Monday night and didn't find me at home. She called my son and he didn't answer his phone. She called my home again and we have an unspoken pact within our home - we don't answer the phone unless the phone call is for us (so my Youngest Son didn't answer the phone either). So my mom called my brother searching for clues as to where I may be.

When I finally got home from donating blood and picking up a few groceries, I returned my mom's call. She was a mess. She had concocted wild and crazy scenarios where (I think) she thought I was having a mental breakdown. I made every attempt to relieve my mom's concerns but I don't think I succeeded.

Suddenly I was without words. What could I write and think about that my mom wouldn't obsess over. Apparently nothing. I started a few posts on my days-without-a-post and I couldn't complete them. Too serious. Too wordy. Too revealing. What would Mom think??

My mom had no reason to worry to start with. Sure I had some shades of blue in my days. Who doesn't? It feels better if I release some of that useless anxiety. The moment I write it or speak it or truly let myself feel it, those worries lose their power.

Living quietly kills me softly and quietly. Little things become powerful and I become a (blue) puddle on the ground beneath my feet.

Living out loud is my reality. I have safe spots where I spill my words so that they lose their power over me.

When you have 'real' conversations with people you are vulnerable. People may think you are weak or crazy or a myriad of other things. But what I have found to be the truth, is that when I live out loud and tell people my truth, I hear a different version of their own truth. Openness and honesty is the only foundation (in my books) for friendships that are real and lasting.

People all around me are hurting these days. I don't know where to turn some days. But I do know that the moment I stop hiding behind the fa├žade that I think that my mom most wants to see, I become more of who I am. More honest. More compassionate. More open. More happy. More ... real.

Will I recycle and reuse the ideas within the posts titled "S.A.D.D." (Seriously Affected by these Dark Days) and "Walking a Tightrope"? I am not sure. Perhaps I will just go back and hit 'Publish' in their unedited form.

My week of Living Quietly has not been one of my better ones. I just got off the phone with the friend that I call when I have days (weeks) like this and we grounded each other in our parallel view of this universe. I feel sane and grounded and have found my centre of gravity again.

I'm going to Live Out Loud today. It feels right and it feels good. I find my happy by not burying myself under life's little speed bumps. I'm going to sail right over those bumps and worry about aligning my wheels another day when I have more time (and money).

I Live With a Comedian

I am always on the alert for ways to document my daycare days and the lives of my daycare family. 

I found this short questionnaire that often makes its rounds at the beginning of the school year and it was mentioned that it would be nice to ask children these questions each year and save the results. It would be interesting to see how the answer "When I grow up I want to be _______" would evolve over the years.

So I copied down the questions thinking that I should come up with some form of questionnaire for my daycare kids and update it from year to year within their Christmas gift.

I left the blank form on the kitchen counter. When I came home from my evening's errands I heard my youngest chuckling out loud. This is what he found:
My son, the model. Who knew??

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The High Cost of Waking Hours

I am not lovin' this whole September/back-to-school thing. It is getting old. Fast. And we aren't even half way through the month.

First off, who went and shortened the days so quickly? My alarm goes off and it is still pitch black outside. What's with that? I need the sunshine to bask through the slats of my blinds and beckon to me. Pitch blackness ... you are not my friend. Not to mention the fact that the sun is setting as I eat supper. Yes, I know I could be eating earlier. But life just keeps getting in the way of that happening. I eat supper and want to go to bed. The end.

I have been quietly protesting the dark mornings by sleeping in. Then that messes with the whole system this family has (namely me), where I spend one solid hour alone before the rest of the world wakes up. Normally I would still have a little wiggle room but My Youngest is back in school which means he is waking up during (what is normally) my last hour of relative quiet. I must share the bathroom. Sometimes I must speak. Usually I have to give up the computer.

We brought in the month of September with our whole Fence Project going backwards. The financial aspect is taking its sweet time in becoming resolved. I am more than a little unsettled by the precarious balance my finances will be in if this is not soon remedied. I accidentally got a full view of my financial state of affairs this morning and it knocked the wind out of me. Scary stuff, this living-on-the-edge-business. I don't think I'll play this game again.

Our Senior Cat has been doctoring for his pneumonia this past month which just one more concern that I can't simply put to rest. We went back for a check-up tonight to see how he is progressing. Unfortunately his lungs still aren't what they should be. She said maybe 60% ... but at least he is improving. Slowly. We are continuing his antibiotic treatment and our next course of action will probably be steroids. There is much we don't know and there is a possibility that he could be battling cancer. At this point, I just want him to feel as good as he possibly can.

Our kitty-cats seem to be waging a little contest amongst themselves to see how much money they can cost us in the shortest amount of time. Our Junior Cat came into our lives and nickel and dimed us up to a grand total not exceeding $500.00 over the course of the first month he adopted us. Senior Cat was not to be outdone. He has exceeded the $500.00 mark in less than one month. He wins. I think I'm losing. Do you see why this entire fence-deal-gone-bad is feeling worse by the moment?

Tonight, My Youngest returned home from school without his wallet. Thankfully he has only three cards to replace. His bus pass (replacement cost $5.00); his learner's license (replacement cost $10.00); last year's school I.D. (which will be updated any day now - NO cost); a house key; and just over a dollar in change. Not to mention the new wallet he will need. I think he must have been subconsciously feeling left out of the competition that our cats were having and was hoping to exceed all their expenses. By the time I add up his new school wardrobe (I think he may end up being the tallest of our family - he is outgrowing his clothes faster than either of his brothers ever did); school supplies & fees; and general maintenance I'm sure I could soon tally up a total that may scare me.

It's truly no wonder that I want to sleep my mornings and evenings away. It is far too expensive to stay awake!

Morning blogging just hasn't been happening and the sun setting on my evening hasn't assisted my ability to put words into sentences in the evening either. So this is just a little up-to-the-minute update on life as I know it.

Tomorrow must be the turn around day. I wrote my mom a letter and post-dated it for tomorrow, telling her how I planned for everything to all work out by Friday. I should have kept a copy of that letter for myself. From what I can remember, tomorrow is going to be quite a day!! I can't wait for the sun to shine down upon our Friday and see what we have to deal with at the day's end.

Walking a Tightrope

I have been a little off my game lately. I can't seem to shake it (whatever it is) off. It is more than a slight bit annoying. It is as if some unknown force is attached to me and I don't know what or where it is so I can't remove it.

I'm annoyed with myself. I am the only one who can turn the tides and I seem to be stuck in a state of inertia.

This morning, I stumbled across what I assume is some of the weight on my shoulders. I was checking my bank balances and had my entire financial picture in front of me. One glance told me that my finances are in a very precarious state.

This was not something that I didn't already know. I have assured myself  that this sense of gloom and doom is directly correlated to the fact that my fence project has pushed my state of financial affairs over the tipping point. The only thing that can save me (from myself - I did this completely and totally to myself, by myself) is the deposit that my Fence People promised to repay me.

It is no wonder I feel like I'm standing still on a tight rope at the moment. The world beneath my feet feels a little too unstable. My centre of gravity is askew.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

S.A.D.D.

I am Seriously Affected by these Dark Days. There is not enough sun around here lately. It is upsetting the precarious balance that is My Life.

It feels like the middle of January inside of me. My alarm wakes me up to pitch blackness. So I don't get up. I lie there wishing (and waiting) for the light. The sun is setting before I've had a chance to enjoy a few kidless-hours. The days are getting far too short far too soon.

I'm tired of being tired. Last night I went to bed at 9:00. I was exhausted but I was hopeful that I could stay awake to simply savor the quiet, solitude and my favorite feather pillow. I did not fortify my waking hours with ju-jubes this time (my stomach still does a quiet little roll as I think of my ju-jube hangover yesterday morning). I simply laid my head on my pillow and savored my waking moments.  For oh, about 90 seconds.

My goal was to get up with my alarm this morning. I couldn't do it. But I did better than I did the first two days of this week. I gained a half hour this morning. But it wasn't enough to write a few words before the day came crashing in.

The sun is shining, the weather couldn't be more perfect and we are getting outside every day for several hours on end.

So why does it feel like January inside my sun-deprived head??

I'm not loving the idea of fall this year. I don't know why. Fall has always signified new beginnings for me in the past...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Lukeless Life and Ju-Jube Story

I have an addiction to watching "The Gilmore Girls" reruns. I have it bad.

They went and changed the afternoon showing from 2:00 to 3:00. This does not work with my daycare family's nap schedules. My kids are waking up by 3:00. This just doesn't work for me.

Have no fear. This channel replays the same episode at 10:00 p.m. and again at 3:00 a.m. so I have two more chances to catch up on what I've missed.

Of course, going to bed at 10:00 means that I will be asleep within approximately 90 seconds from the time my head hits the pillow. Only on evenings when I'm fortified with a few glasses of iced coffee and activity, am I able to stay awake until 11:00.

I wake up in the middle of the night on a regular basis. It amazes and astounds me that I never wake up during the 3:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. airing of the third and final Gilmore Girls episode of the day. Never!

Last night I woke up at 3:29 a.m. - right at the point that my napping two-year-old woke up and wanted to watch the "Bubble Guppies". It was at the point in the show when Luke was telling Lorelai the story of the first time they met and that he had held onto the memory and momento that marked their first meeting...

Anyway ...

When I woke up at the precise moment that I had to turn off the TV yesterday afternoon, I knew that I would never be able to stay awake for a half hour ... so I grabbed a bag of sour ju-jubes. As long as I ate, I could stay awake.

My eating skills are waning. I have limits as to how much I can eat at one sitting. Gone are the days of mindless chewing and ignoring all signs and signals that my stomach is full. I have a 'full' marker and once that point is reached, I am done.

I did my best. I ate ju-jubes mindlessly for as long as I could. I tried to chew and chew and chew to prolong one ju-jube's longevity. But I didn't succeed. I had to stop eating before the episode ended. Thus, I didn't stay awake long enough to make it through the half hour that remained. Sigh ...

I woke up this morning with a ju-jube hangover. Blech. My stomach was not happy. My head was acting like it was on caffeine withdrawal. It felt like a was cold coming on. I was in rough shape.

I told My Youngest that I didn't want to babysit kids today. Only cats. Yes. I will become a cat-sitter ...

I am one breakfast smoothie and half a cup of coffee into my day. All of my symptoms are waning. The ju-jube hangover is nearing its end.

My eyes are still heavy and I am heavy into Luke & Lorelai withdrawal.

My Youngest has asked me on a few occasions why I am so hooked on "The Gilmore Girls". He has voiced his concern and wonders if I wish that I had a daughter. No, My Son. No. It is not that at all. But I wouldn't mind 'a Luke'...

So I shall forge ahead in my Lukeless life and live another day.

Monday, September 9, 2013

This Morning's Gratitude List

Words are scarce. Negativity is winning. I am going to write about that-which-I-am-grateful-for as they come to mind this morning:
  • Two loads of laundry and I'm all caught up
  • The ability to wash and dry two loads of laundry simply by running down a flight of stairs and tossing them into machines that do all of the work for me
  • The fact that I have enough clothing to fill the washing machine. Twice.
  • A home that houses the washer, dryer, stairs and closets where I store my clothing when it is not in the hamper
  • Clothes that actually get dirty again. Whether it is from work, sweat, weather or just plain 'living' ... my clothes do get dirty enough to deserve soap and water verses a simple 'airing out'
  • The ability to wash those clothes during my work day
  • The fact that I have a job that defines my week days
  • The privilege to work from home
  • The ability to earn my own way
  • The skills to diversify my income and my life to keep things interesting
  • Friends and family that are like a lifeline to me
  • The ability to pick up the phone and find a friend or family member on the other end of the line
  • Connections. To family. To friends. Via the written word. Via the spoken word...
Connections. It is truly by the connections that I have within my life that I define myself and for which I am most grateful. 

A person could have all the money in the world, all the time they wanted at their disposal, good mental and physical health. But if you don't have someone to share it with ... how much do you really have unless you feel a connection to those that share your world?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shades of Blue

I can't seem to maintain a train of thought these days so I'm just going to sit here and see where my fingers take me. I'm not guaranteeing that it is to one particular destination but I hope that they have a few interesting stops along the way.

I'm feeling a little off my game these days. I tend to want to say I feel some shade of blue but I think it is a little bit more aquamarine. Blue with a shade of green and sunshine, hope and dreams. Yes. That is it. I am feeling a little aquamarine today.

I don't know why there are shades of blue within my make-up right now. I truly have no reason to feel down other than absorbing the seriousness of life around me.

So many people are being dealt some harsh blows. Some of these people are well beyond arm's reach but the ripple effect seems to be hitting me a little bit harder than it usually does. I think it is the unexpected nature of some of the news that I have been hearing. It serves as a reminder that our time here on earth is finite. And I have been wasting that precious gift of time...

Life's little injustices serve a greater purpose in life and in looking back one can usually find the goodness sprinkled among the bad. Sometimes it is easier to deal with the 'big stuff' than it is, to deal with the day-to-day little stuff. I'm not fending off the small stuff as well as I know that I am capable of doing. That frustrates me more than anything. The little stuff is just grating on that one sensitive nerve.

Finances are a concern. Things are getting better and there is much hope on the horizon. But digging oneself out of the hole they have dug themselves into takes perseverance and time. Despite the many life-lessons that are whirling past, through and inside of me these days I tend to feel like I have all the time in the world. It is the perseverance that I am lacking. I am weakening. And I don't like that. Not one little bit.

Negative self-talk is dominating my thoughts. That is most likely the root of much of the shades of blue that are intermingled within the aquamarine that is my mood. I have positive messages coming at me from all angles but I still seem to be berating myself at every turn. Stop that! It is a waste of time and energy. I seem to think I have lots of time ... but it is the energy factor that is wearing me down.

My Youngest has returned to school this week. He played a part in our days and activities within our daycare days over the summer and there is such a big contrast between then and now. I miss him and our little mini conversations throughout the day. My daycare world feels lonely without the interaction of another being that speaks in 'paragraphs'. I am happy that he is back in the world of his peers, learning and interaction. But it is just adds a small dose of loneliness to my days.

Then there are the cats. Oh, our little cat family. To watch them at play is like gazing into an ocean. I do not have any idea where we would be without our little black furry family. Those moments lost in cat wonder turn my day around. I feel light, happy and many shades of yellow.

This post is going nowhere but I will leave you with a moment of 'yellow'. Here is a small video clip of our Junior Cat trying to teach our Senior Cat the joys of playing with an earplug.

Junior Cat seizes every opportunity to seek out and destroy my Second Son's earplugs whenever he finds a chance. This particular morning, Junior Cat ceremoniously placed the his prized earplug at our Senior Cat's feet as if sharing a much coveted bird of prey with someone he adores. Senior Cat looks on and tries to find the glory in this fluorescent orange object but he just can't see what the big deal is all about:

video

Little things. They have the ability to bring us down. But they also have the power to sustain us and bring us back up just as well.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Half an Hour

I have about thirty minutes at my disposal before I have to kick into some form of action to ready myself for the day ahead. A person can do a lot with thirty minutes ... if you choose one thing and stick with it.

Lately, my time management failures have come from the simple fact that I cannot make myself stick with one thing.

I can send an eight line email and find at least six other things to do at the same time. Thus, this short email takes a good half hour to write. Not an effective use of time.

My thoughts are bouncing from 'A' to 'B' to 'C' ... and the next thing you know, I'm up to the letter 'J' and I should have been out the door one minute ago.

I have so many little things niggling away within my subconscious mind. Most of them are very obvious but I had no idea how much my upcoming school reunion is weighing on my mind until I wake up in the morning. I have been having dreams that circle in and around this terrifying event. My subconscious mind has taken me back to high school where I was afraid to speak out loud. High school reunion = Fear. Honestly, this is the least of my worries. But I didn't think it was a worry at all until I started dreaming about it.

My chequebook is sitting on the computer desk. A constant reminder that I must start to figure out how my finances are really doing.

Yesterday, I talked with a friend who has also decided to 'spend now; worry later'. We have both spent the better part of our lives worrying about building up nest eggs, emergency funds, contingency plans, only to figure out that no matter how much you worry about it or budget for it ... life happens. So we have adopted a new financial plan. "It all works out in the end." And it does. Every time. Yesterday, her husband was 'terminated' from his job. Yup. Life happens. "It is not yet the end, my friend ... it is not yet the end."

Despite my friend's concern over their financial state of disrepair, it was the least of her worries. Mental health issues are weighing heavy on her mind as she walks through a familiar path with her adult son. Her own health is a concern as yet another door has opened and revealed a truth that has taken her back to a place of loss. "If money can solve our problems, we are very fortunate ..."

The state of 'limbo' is my most un-favorite place in the world to be. This is exactly where my friend sits. It is where I feel like I am lingering (though my worries are far less worrisome than most). When you know where you are at, you make a plan. You look for your best route out of where you are. When you don't know where you stand, all you can do is start to map out various coping mechanisms. You probably shouldn't even waste your time on that but you can't help it. You go on auto pilot and start to mentally prepare yourself for the worst case scenario. That takes an incredible amount of energy.

I don't have to look far and I see so many people struggling with issues that are far greater than the little energy-draining thoughts that are going through my mind. Life and death situations. Mental health issues that are so hard for anyone outside of it, to see and feel.

Even with the worst case scenarios, you may think that you are braced for the worst. Then life throws you a curve ball out of left field that knocks you over. You get up and are dazed by what just hit you. You can watch the instant replay but that doesn't affect your new reality. You are knee deep into a new place in your life that you would have never chosen for yourself ...

Life is ever-changing. It is exciting when the changes are for the good. But we never know when the good will turn on us. "Good luck? Bad luck? Who really knows for sure?"

I shall leave you with an ancient Chinese story that asks this very question:

There once was a simple farmer who lived and struggled alongside his neighbours and friends, trying to exist and fulfil a peaceful life. One day news arrived from far away, that his old loving father had died. His neighbours gathered to grieve, but the farmer simply said, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” 
In time relatives brought a very fine horse of great cost and fine breeding, left to the farmer by his father. All the villagers and neighbours gathered in delight with him to celebrate his good fortune, but he just said, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”
One day the horse escaped into the hills and when all the farmer’s neighbours sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”
A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”
Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”
Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg they let him off. Now was that good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

May you find simple blessings among that which life throws your way today.

(My thirty minutes are up. I kept to the task at hand (even though my thoughts bounced from here to there to everywhere within this short post) and I started and completed this task without distraction. That will be my mantra of the day: "Make the most of the time that I am given...". We just never know when life-as-we-know-it may change.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Craving Quiet

I have no words. I am tired. I need quiet ...

It has felt hectic around here, yet people walk into our home and comment on the calmness. That is good to hear. But it doesn't feel that way.

My head is a jumble of thoughts, emotions, concerns and a general up-in-the-air-ness...

I am simply a little off balance. I am craving some of my holiday bliss. The quiet. The solitude. I want to shut the world out for a day or two ...

Our home is amazingly serene considering the fact that four adult-sized beings, two cats and two dogs live within a small space. Personal space is an essential need for all and I think that we are doing a pretty fine job of sharing that-which-we-have.

'Family' is the general theme of life around here. We have had a recent influx of relatives moving in and out and through our doors. It has been incredible and I hope that never ends ...

The tipping point was The Fence. That project went awry for so many reasons. It has consumed far more energy than it deserved. It has taken a toll on all of us and I just want it to be over.

I am channelling an inner calmness within today. I have aroma therapy scents in the areas I frequent the most. I can feel the serenity wafting my way.

I'll be back. Soon. I can feel the words fighting to find their way to my fingertips. They are just not there yet.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Fence Project (so close to 'The End')

Our Fence Project has been riddled with delays, excuses, poor workmanship, anxiety and expense that I could not afford from the onset. 

All that I knew for sure, is that I could ill afford to lose my deposit and still have the same old fence. That was ... until I stood to lose all of my deposit and have NO fence. That came very close to becoming my reality.

One week ago:


Thanks to my Knight in Shining Armor and his Associates (I will simply call them all Super Heroes to give credit where credit is due), I have come out the other end of all of this unscathed and more than a little bit grateful.

Today ... 



Everything unfolded so fast that I didn't see it coming until I was knee deep in it. I didn't even realize how much help I needed until I had already been rescued.

One week ago:


Thanks to many, many people who saw the injustice of a company claiming to be professionals, walking off the job and itemizing the reason to withhold the entire deposit, My Son did not work alone all weekend to create this masterpiece:
 

An army of 'angels' walked together this weekend and helped me out before I realized just how much I needed assistance. 

Thankfully the fencing company realized the error of their ways and have offered to repay most of my deposit. 

Thank you does not even begin to cover my gratitude. 

"Everything worked out in the end ..."