Friday, February 28, 2014

The Hardest Day

It has been a rough week. Monday was my favorite day. It has been an uphill battle ever since.

Okay. What is happening here? What are the variables going on outside of what is going on inside of my head? Is it me or is it the world that is falling apart at the seams? How much of this am I making bigger-than-it-is?

Number 1 - I worked all of last weekend. It was a good weekend. It didn't feel like a working weekend. But I woke up, went to work, came home and went to bed. That was about the extent of my weekend.

How much contact did I have with the outside world? I talked with my boss. I had email contact with my brother. I sat down and ate supper with my family on Sunday. I talked to a friend Sunday night.

The tail end of a working weekend usually equates to a noticeably stressed 'me'. I didn't feel the stress at the end of my weekend. Maybe it was subliminal. Maybe it was still there underneath it all but I didn't openly blame it for anything that happened after the fact.

Number 2 - It is winter. I have been housebound with three to five children for ten hours a day, five days a week for (about) four solid months. We have had a few outdoor opportunities but nothing that has been really good for the heart and soul. I long for those summer days where I can park myself in a sunbeam and soak up some good old natural Vitamin D.

I felt winter before winter arrived this year. The shortening days cut me to the quick. The days are getting longer now. The sun's rays feel stronger. The sky has been blue. But I have heard a rumor that the weekend forecast is -60 weather (with the wind chill). We have not had much snow this year but we have had unrelentless cold weather. This must have some bearing on not only my coping skills, but the people within my days.

Number 3 - I am challenged each and every day by each and everyone of the children I tend. I can roll with the punches the vast majority of the time. But I have a screamer. A little girl that cries if she is not being held. She cries when she is being held. She screams louder when I am carrying her and she doesn't want to be where I am. She acts like the world is ending if I have to put her down to take care of someone else.

Add this onto the behaviour of her partner-in-onehood. He does not believe in boundaries. He looks me in the eye and does that-which-he-knows-he-is-not-supposed-to-do. He does not listen to words. He barely listens to actions. Thus, I have to carry the girl-who-cries-too-much with me as I chase him down to prevent him from destroying everything-that-is-not-a-toy.

For an added bonus, I have a two-and-a-half-year-old that is getting a little lost in this world of demanding one-year-olds. She is craving attention and affection, and is demanding it in the most unflattering of ways. When she has a partner-in-play, she mimics them to the nth degree. She quite literally attaches herself to the side of the personality that she is embodying. It is often me that acts as her cojoined twin. I suffocate easily and need personal space. I cannot exist with someone attached to my side. Thus, I feel for her playmates at times ...

Yesterday? I had these three personalities together. All day. Need I say more?

Number 4 - How much of this is cyclical? When I look back at A Year Ago Today, what do I see? A lot of the same. Life goes in cycles. Ups and downs. Ins and outs. Good and bad. Elation and frustration. If it was all good, we would have expectations that were impossible to meet.

Bad is the new good. That is my story and I am sticking to it!

Yesterday was The Hardest Day. Which should make it easy to have A Better Day today. And that ... I will do. I am certain of it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mom's Superpowers

I heard Mom's voice yesterday (in my head) quoting her mom's advice to me (which I am most likely misquoting now) "Don't give away your guts..."

Mom doesn't use words like that. She has only cited that quote to me (as far as I remember) once.

Mom doesn't hand out praise on a platter. I remember being very young when I tried to figure out if Mom was proud of me. Or even liked me...

I weighed all that I knew about Mom (at that time). I eventually deduced that even though she didn't openly communicate her feelings, I was pretty sure that she thought I was okay (though she never openly declared it). I am not playing the victim here. That was just the way it was. There are many ways of speaking that don't include words, hugs and lavishing praise and affection upon another person. These ways often speak far louder than words. Mom is a master at speaking without words.

Mom doesn't talk to me about what I write. There have been silences that I have taken as criticism. There have been times-of-great-worry when I know that I have given her too much information. Then there was the time when I gave the world too much information. That is when she quoted her mom's words to me (so that I could figure it out on my own).

Yesterday afternoon, my fingers sat down and wrote a tale of honesty. I opened up my consciousness and confessed all of my sins (the ones that I could remember, anyway). I didn't publish that post. I thought I would come back to it later, cull through it and see if there was anything of substance left over. I walked away from those words and heard Mom say "Don't give away your guts..."

I am running short on time this morning so I thought I'd pull up that post (that I assumed was saved when I exited the program ... it has always saved my drafts in the past). And it was gone. My first thought was "I hope it did not get posted on my Daycare Blog!" (that was where I started to post it initially, but I did catch myself and moved it over to my safe spot here). I checked a few places and my words vanished into thin air (perhaps where they were meant to stay, to start with).

Sometimes ... do you get the feeling that someone is watching over you and putting roadblocks in your way on purpose?

I don't know how Mom does it. She definitely has superpowers. But this? Pretty incredible.

Thanks, Mom. I knew those words were meant to be silenced. Honestly, I was going to do it myself. I think.

There is a lesson here somewhere. It is either "Save your work!" or "Be careful what you put out for the world to see". This time? I think it is the latter.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Easy Life

I have it easy. I truly do!

We recently endured another Valentine's Day where there was much written to appease the lonely and broken hearts out there and 'Single Parents' were singled out and honored in a few articles that I read. I have never considered myself to be one that deserved any special honor. For me (I am not saying that this is true for anyone but myself), single parenthood was the easy road.

My marriage was hard. Really hard. I have raked myself over the coals enough times over the years (and reconciled enough times to know that it really wasn't all my fault) to forgive myself for my part within that particular partnership. It wasn't healthy. Not for me. Not for my children. And I don't even think it was healthy for my ex-husband.

When I forged out on my own, I had only my children to worry about. I had only my own (and those of my children) expenses and needs to pay for. My attention did not have to be divided between my children and maintaining an unhealthy marriage. I felt like I lost a dependent when I left my marriage. It was ever-so-much-easier for me to take care of my children when there was so much more of myself to give.

I didn't do this all on my own. I had family members that stepped in and shouldered some of my responsibilities over the years. Much more, when I was a young parent. Less and less over the course of time. When you space your children 20 years apart, you truly are a different person by the time the youngest is born.

Sure, I had only one pay cheque. But I had only one adult to provide for. Adults can be very expensive (I should know ... I am one of them). But when you are single, the expense is not doubled every time you look around. Everything is just a little more affordable when you multiply it by one (then tack on a small surcharge for each child).

I can make an 'executive decision' on a whim and make spur of the moment plans without consulting a partner. I am in the driver's seat of my  life and can choose what to do, where to go and how much to spend. Or not. Sometimes it is easier to just stay home and savor the quietness if you don't have someone who is not content with that same choice.

My vantage point is very, very skewed because I didn't have children that demanded more than I had to give. Wanted? Perhaps. But demanded? No. My kids seemed to understand from a very early age, that there were limits on spending. For the most part, it seemed like they simply accepted that was their lot in life and we carried on.

Maybe I didn't have a husband to share the load, share the good, the bad and the ugly. But I never felt alone. My 'village' was around me even when I couldn't see them. I had support in the wings all the way along this voyage. As I said earlier, I speak for no one but myself. Because I know that I was/am one of the fortunate ones.

Can it be lonely? There have been times. But the longer one lives the life of singlehood, the less you can imagine truly opening the door and letting someone new walk in. There is great comfort in living a familiar life.

I attended my 35 year class reunion last fall and within almost every single person I met, there was a void that you could feel within them as they talked of marital break-ups; singleness; single parenting and the quest to find 'someone'. I didn't really see the difference between 'them' and 'me' until my friend pointed it out. She told me that I was one of the few (if any?) single people that she knew, that was completely content with life-as-they-knew-it.

Sometimes it takes someone looking at your situation from the outside, to see what you have all along. I am so very fortunate to live the life that I live. I don't bask in material wealth, I don't long for (much of) what I don't have (I do long for a well-maintained-home though). I revel in what I do have. There is peace and contentment within my heart and my home. My family unit is cohesive. Our health is good. I am earning a living doing what I want to do. From where I sit, it just doesn't get any better than this.

Would sharing my life with someone special enhance or detract from what I already have? Who knows? Maybe I'll find out one day. Maybe I won't. But I am good with either direction. All we really have is 'now' so it is good to soak up that-which-you-have because you simply don't know where the road is going to turn from here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Love Stories

I have been on the listening end of some beautiful love stories lately.

It is unfortunate that these stories have been triggered by grief and a need to talk of a lost loved one...

People are talking. I am listening. There are beautiful stories all around us. Sometimes we don't tell those stories while we are living them because life is so full of clutter that we can't hear the beauty in among the task of living-our-lives.

Love is all around us. We just have to listen.

I was sitting still with my thoughts this morning (okay, I was busy applying lotion to my feet before I race off out the door and off into another work-day) and it came to me. Love stories...

I must finish the writing project that has been filed under "Procrastination Project #21238" so that I can start a series. Love stories.

Love and marriage. Love and children. Love and pets. Love and parents. Love and siblings. Love and friendship. You see? No one is immune.

I want to approach one person at a time and ask if I can put their story into words, illustrate it and put it together in the format of a small booklet so that they can share their story.

One person at a time. Short stories. Stories that speak to everyone's heart.

I feel something stirring inside and it is not indigestion. It is a spark. I feel a flame begging for oxygen. I feel alive.

I must not delay.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Doing Hard Things

I sit here with a small pit in my stomach. I must leave the house in an hour to head off to work. Last night, I felt the same way as I headed off to a dance class. I felt a little of the same when I ran to get groceries right before my lesson.

Given a choice, I would choose to stay home.

I can do hard things. I can leave the house. I can go out and socialize and be among people. But it takes so much energy. I can feel the elastic band that ties me to our home pull taut and I simply want to let it go and spring back into my safe and happy little place.

I am grateful that I cannot succumb to my wishes all of the time.

Thankfully, groceries must be bought and errands must be run. I am fortunate to have friends and family that invite me out into the real world and keep me from shutting myself in. It is good that people ask me to do them a favor that forces me out of my safe space here at home.

I am not the frightened, shy girl that I used to be.

I may not act like that young girl on the outside any more but she is alive and well inside of me. When I come home and replay conversations that I have had, I cannot stand it when I hear my own voice so dominantly within the playbacks. I have had verbal hangovers when I have literally approached people 'the day after' and made amends for talking so much.

 I know that this is getting harder because I am pushing myself less.

There was a time when I was running out of the house (almost) every night after supper. Zumba was my passion. I danced. I tried a BellyFit class. I was pushing my personal limits and I was exhilarated by my bravery. I didn't need anyone to invite, cajole, push or join me on my adventures outside of these walls. I did it. By myself.

I felt so alive when I pushed my limits.

I have shrivelled up into someone that I don't want to become. I am pushing myself out of that spot a little bit at a time and I hope that (in my tortoise-like way), I will eventually get to my destination. But I remember the way I sprinted to the (illusive) finish line when I had the energy of that hare in Aesop's fable...

Perhaps I am the hare after all. I sprinted so hard and so fast there for a while, that I curled up to take a nap at the side of the road. Then, whenever I saw that tortoise approach, I took another short jog. And rested.

Jog ... and rest. Jog ... and rest. Jog ... and rest...

Is that really the best way to get where you want to go? It is better than just resting. Jogging is good for the heart but places a greater strain on your body. Thus, the rest period is required.

I know that slow but steady is the way to go. Perhaps that is exactly where the-life-I-am-leading is taking me.

But for now? I must jog to work. Maybe I will walk home ...

Friday, February 21, 2014

I'm Livin' the Dream (and I didn't even realize it)

I think that I retired from the work force some time ago and I never fully realized it.

Fifteen and a half years ago, I unofficially retired. For a year. Some may call it maternity leave but looking back, I see that it was the beginning of my retirement.

My retirement income became that-which-I-could-earn-from home. Thus, my Daycare Business was born. I was a little bit uneasy about this whole idea of full retirement, so I kept my foot in the door at my previous place of employment for ten more years.

In and around the end of that ten year semi-retirement I thought that a change of career was 'it' for me. It was a three year experiment which I am grateful that I tried. But it wasn't a good fit. Nor did it pay the bills the way that my retirement-income-from-home did.

I have now been back in my comfort zone and living a happy little life for well over a year. It took walking away and coming back to it (with a little bit of perspective and some new rules to guide me) to fully appreciate the life that I stumbled upon over fifteen years ago.

It is a good life.

I wake up each morning and I have a purpose. I have become an 'adopted Grandma' figure for five families. With the added bonus of not being asked to take on overnight and weekend shifts (which I hear often comes with the territory when these children have blood ties).

Life without a defined purpose is a hard road to navigate. You must be much more disciplined than I. Give me a day ... and I can waste it like nobody's business. If I had 365 of those days at my disposal I hate to think of the places I wouldn't go. I thrive on responsibility. It keeps me focused.

My retirement dream has been supplemented by an (almost) lifelong dream that has come true. I am getting paid to write. I dreamed this dream decades ago. I said it out loud much, much later. I started putting my words 'out there' (for friends and family to read) and they were accepted. Then I got brave and I submitted my work to the 'real world'. And I have found a small audience that is not related to me. I did it. Retirement goal #1 - achieved.

My retirement status also gives me the flexiblity to spread my wings and grow a little bit. A little supplemental job-with-numbers is helping to keep my brain lubricated and agile. I am helping a friend in the process. This has proven to be a winning combination for me (I probably would have quit this job if it wasn't attached to a friendship). Despite the fact that I do not enjoy leaving the house (my other two retirement activities allow me to stay with in the confines (comfort) of my home). This activity pushes me out the door. Not something that I would do voluntarily. But each time I accomplish this great feat I know that it is for the greater good. I always feel better at the end of those hard (yet easy, once I am actually there) days.

If my retirement was as easy as working from home, I could easily become a hermit. I don't enjoy the idea of the days when I must push myself out of my comfort zone but they are necessary.

Retirement means many things to many people. The easy life. Retirement vacations. Life without a schedule. Pursuing dreams...

Oh, to wake up in the morning and know that the day was yours to do with as you please!! Isn't this (almost) every working person's dream? But every single day? For years on end?

Why save 'living the dream' for your retirement? Maybe the dream is now. You know what they say about the journey being more important than the destination.

I look at the journey that I am on and I see that I have already arrived. I simply cannot foresee a life where I could be more fulfilled on so many levels.

My children are at stages of their lives where they need less of me. This has given me the gift of being able to fill myself up with what I need to be 'a better me'. I still have lots of room for improvement but I don't see that happening unless I keep my life full, challenged and keep the possibility for dreams alive.

It is all about perspective some times. Look at what you do have within the life that you are presently living. I know that my rose-tinted glasses skew my personal view. I know that many people are in situations that are not at all like mine and they cannot see a way out.

But if I can do it (a single parent, living solely on the income that I can provide for myself), you can do it ... we all can do it (SCREAM!!!) ...
... these are the thoughts that I am filling my little preschool crowd with each day. Not a bad way to think if you ask me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

When Did They Stop Writing Love Songs For Me?

It wasn't all that very long ago when I wondered "when did they stop writing love songs for me?". It was a little bit of a sad day when I realized that they aren't singing 'my' song on the radio any more. I hear the lyrics and remember a time when those were my feelings, thoughts and emotions they are crooning about. But I simply cannot imagine feeling that way again (insert a sad violin song here).

I have a friend who is recently divorced. She is my age and her eyes are wide open to the Wonderful World of Men. Newly single, she has resumed life again and dated. She doesn't give away too many secrets but when I listen to her, I hear her 16 year old self all over again. It is like we are sitting in the basement of her parent's house, listening to April Wine's record "Forever For Now" over and over and over again. She had very serious crushes in those days. I dated her left-overs. I married the second one and that was the end of that ...

Enough about that. Back to the future now. The reason that I backtracked and wrote of my friend's ability and desire to lay her heart out on the line again, is that I know that love could happen again. To someone else.

I have all but stopped dreaming of a life where I find someone who speaks to my heart and makes it beat a little faster. At this stage of my life, a fast beating heart equates to a health condition. Not love! So I am more than content that my heart beats a regular, steady beat to the tune of life-as-I-know-it. Life is good without the complications of 'a man' tossed in for good measure.

I suppose that I haven't given up altogether. I keep tossing out the idea that I just want 'a Luke' ...

... doesn't everyone watch the Gilmore Girls to know exactly what I am talking about here? The Gilmore Girls ran for seven seasons. 'Lorelai and Luke' were meant for each other from the start. It took them five and a half seasons to realize that. Then ... it was magical. For oh, about a season and a half. But even after they broke up, you knew that they were meant for each other. Television romance. There's nothing like it...

Anyway, I just have a feeling that if love is meant to come knocking on my door again, it will be 'a Luke'. Someone that I have known 'forever' will finally spark into something real.

I had a dream this morning. It was only a dream. But it was vivid. Oh! So! Vivid!

... mid-way into my dream sequence, I realized that the man I was taking home to meet my mother was a shyster. I caught him being himself and I realized that he was not to be trusted. He tried to smooth talk me through the moment and I didn't even bother wasting a breath on him. I knew. He could talk all he wanted. I was done.

... fast forward to the end. I was sitting on the floor and a man that I have known 'forever' was standing beside me. For some unknown dream-reason, I was feeling down and out. And I reached over. I hugged this man's legs (calves). He bent over and draped his arm around my shoulder (yes, I even have G-rated dreams). I was wearing the worn out burgundy cardigan that I have been living in since January, 2012. I looked at the frayed seam on my favorite item of clothing. Then I looked up. Our eyes locked. I had found My Luke.

Then I woke up.

It was not a fuzzy image in my mind. The dream was as clear as day. It could happen again one day. It really could. Couldn't it??

Maybe someone will write a song for me yet ...

**A little bit of dream analysis here, now that I have reread what I have just written. I think that my subconscious mind was focused a little too heavily on my worn out burgundy cardigan. I have been thinking of little else but finding a good replacement for my favorite sweater lately and have not been having good luck with it. I may never find 'my Luke' ... but I really do hope that I find another good sweater!**

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Technical Difficulties

The day started to go awry the moment that I hit the 'Publish' button on yesterday's blog post. I went to read/proof my post and I noticed "Friendchecker" pop-ups all over my blog. I deleted a picture that I had uploaded to my post, thinking that it was related. But it wasn't. Our internet explorer homepage kept changing itself back to 'Bing'. The computer was acting like it was possessed. Oh no.

My Youngest Son had possession of the computer all weekend. He was downloading games. He was Skyping. He was Skyping, while playing games with his friends. The computer was crashing on him on a much too regular basis.

All of this made me rather nervous. My central nervous system is attached to this computer. Or at the very least, about 85% of my own personal memory. Pictures are the least of my problems. It is all of the bookwork and writing that I have saved without back-up paper copies. So Sunday night, I did back up the computer. I thought we may be at risk of losing it all, so I was battening down the hatches.

Then the computer started acting up first thing the next morning. All I could think was that I backed up not only the computer ... but also whatever infection the computer may have at the moment. Oh. No.

I did everything I knew how to do.

I deleted all programs that didn't appear to have a purpose. I restarted the computer. Then our antivirus program was full of 'red boxes' (never a good color to see when it comes to antivirus warnings). Subscription problem. This problem. That problem. I think that I saw the word 'corrupted' within the many (red) warning messages that I read. Oh. No!!

Once again, I started running through that-which-I-knew-how-to-do. The list isn't long. But it is time consuming. Eventually I ended up on the phone with a tech from our antivirus program. He told me to do everything that I had already done and a few more things. He couldn't pinpoint the problem so he emailed me instructions on how to do a 'deep scan' in safe mode.

I tried running this scan but the computer kept shutting itself off. During one of the times the computer was running, I emailed my tech support and they advised me to create a Get System Info report and email it to them.

I did all that they asked me to do. Somewhere within all of these processes, our computer started acting like the friend I have always known it to be. It became complacent and left our internet home page alone. The pop-ups on my blog seemed to disappear. It felt like we had averted a crisis-of-the-computer-kind (all, without a phone call to my own personal computer tech-guy ... I was pretty pleased with myself for handling this like a responsible adult).

I continued to clean up disks, defragment, rescan and error-checked disks well into the evening. I had the laptop computer at my side, as I attempted to update our daycare blog during this computer maintenance period. The laptop required updates. My cell phone battery was almost dead and it was recharging via a computer port as well. I was all hooked-up and going nowhere fast as each one of these technological devices were incapacitated in one form or another (my phone was still hooked up to the WiFi connection so that was where I started updating the blog).

It is frightening to see how dependent that I have become on computer technology. I try to blame my lack of attention span (that of a gnat, is my common refrain) on the ages of the friends that I keep throughout 50 hours of my week (trust me, your brain cells may start to resemble those of 1 to 4 year olds, if they were your constant companions). But I must wonder if I am starting to slack off because I have my technology to assist me in all-that-I-must-keep-track-of.

If all systems were to fail me and all that I had left was my brain, a notepad and a pen ... how would I manage?

Perhaps I need to back up a few more files within the memory that cannot be touched by computer viruses. But even that is not fool proof. Memories shift, fade and disappear over time. A back-up plan is still a good way to go.

Prevention is key. Maintenance is crucial. Not holding all your memories on one computer drive is recommended.

The threat that all is not as it should be is a good chance to investigate and take preventative measures. Good computer health and good physical health are more closely correlated than one may think.

Go and look after your own personal Me:drive today!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Off-ui. Hey, I'm Cured!

One step in front of another. Forward steps. I just kept taking them and they got me to where I needed to be.

I woke up to a (what felt like) terminal case of ennui this weekend. It started the moment my weekend began Friday evening. I fought through it and endured. But it hurt.

It hurt to shower. It hurt to clean the bathroom. It hurt to get ready for company. It hurt to visit. It hurt to go to a funeral. Then I had a hangover of hurt after my company left and I did not have to be anything to anyone.

I watched episode after episode of the Gilmore Girls. I had a can of Pringles at my side at all times. I immersed myself in my lethargy and hoped to wake up feeling like a renewed me yesterday. Didn't happen.

What happened instead, is that my Middle Son, His Girlfriend and Their Two Dogs returned from their weekend at their farm hours ahead of when I expected them. I had promised myself that I would have the walks shovelled before their return. So my day was immediately jump-started into motion. And it wasn't awful. In fact, it was a little bit good.

Our weather was absolutely beautiful. Why wasn't I sitting outside on the deck?!?? Okay. It wasn't that beautiful. But it was above freezing. After enduring -30 to -40 degree weather for the better part of a few months, anything above that feels like a chinook. Yesterday? It felt like spring summer!

Next on my agenda - we needed milk. I told my Youngest Son when I left. "I am going out to buy milk. I have a bazillion other things that I could do while I am out. I may be right back. Or I might be gone all day ..."

I left the house at 1:00 and did not return until 5:30.

I spent all of the money that I would have spent on the overnight-get-away that was originally planned for this weekend. I didn't fritter it away. I bought that-which-was-needed. A few clothes (I despise shopping for clothes); an ice fishing sled (so I can pile my Daycare Family into it and go for a nice, long walk now that our winter weather is mild enough); a new mat for the front door (the rubberized backing on the previous mat had disintegrated into black, plastic dust and was no longer repelling water from seeping through to the carpet below); some used toys for the daycare; groceries; and oh, milk.

I got home at 5:30 and had much-left-to-do. I laid my 'carpet' which was a bigger job that it sounds like (I will not go into details but trust me. It took time and muscle power and a small amount of endurance). I assembled the sled (No I didn't. I asked for help tying a knot so it wouldn't come undone when I had a sled-full-of-kids when I was a mile away from home). I washed up the used toys that I had bought. I continued to organize my world for the onslaught of a new Daycare Week.

I didn't stop moving until after 9:00. At night.

It hurt to move. It hurt to sit. I It hurt to sleep. I hurt all through the night. I had just recently started sleeping through the night again after my sleep injury (I hurt my back sleeping) finally healed. Then I moved yesterday. And I hurt all over.

My ennui was cured.

A little Gilmorism that cracks me up:

Lorelai: What's the opposite of ennui?
Sookie: Off-ui. Oh, hey, I'm cured!

*Ennui - a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.

Monday, February 17, 2014

It Must Be Winter ... (I feel stormed in)

I can't quite snap myself out of this mood that I woke up to this weekend.

I have gone through the paces. I have done what had to be done. I have showed up. I have interacted with people. Many people. But in each and every conversation or scenario, I caught myself drifting. I wasn't in the moment. I wasn't focused on the here and now. I was wandering.

So yesterday, I let myself shut down.

I did nothing more than absolutely necessary. Supper time came and went. I asked My Youngest what he felt like eating. He told me that he was craving Kraft Dinner but he didn't feel like making it. Neither did I (I know, I know - a major parent-fail-moment). I made him an offer. "If you cook it, I will wash the dishes"... and that is what we did.

Sometimes doing 'everything' feels like too much. Just break down the job and do something.

This sense of lethargy has seeped into the very core of my being. I feel overwhelmed with life and there is absolutely no reason for it. So ... I just laid in bed this morning and eventually, this is the scene that started my day:
I cannot recommend this as a sure fire way to turn a day around. But it doesn't hurt. 

I am still not up to piling a whole heap of anything onto my day's to-do-list but I am going to take one forward step and leave the house to buy some milk. I am not certain if I will do much more than that ... but I will break down the 'job' and at least do one thing...

Doing something. Doing at least one thing. It is the way that we must get through some days. Do what you can do. Sometimes, that must be enough.

Today I am going to try to push harder and do more than necessary. It is something. It is a start. There is no end without a beginning. So I shall begin my day from where I left off yesterday at this very time.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sad ... Just Sad

I woke up with an extreme case of 'sad' this morning.

I dreamt of a friend who passed away in October. I woke up with the whisper of her memory just out of grasp. I have no idea what I dreamt about. But she was there. I laid in bed unable to push myself into the day when "I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll" played on the radio. I attended this friend's wedding. Did they play this song at the dance? I have no idea. The details of that evening are as illusive as my forgotten dream this morning.

A year ago, this very friend was in the hospital at this time. She seemed to welcome and enjoy my company when I dropped by, so I went to visit her each day over the course of the long weekend and stayed as long as she wanted me to stay. What did we talk about? It is like this morning's dream. Details are fuzzy. I simply know that I was there and I listened for hints as to what I could bring with me the next time to make her hospital stay a little more comfortable. I brought packages of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. I brought Dole fruit with a plastic spoon. I brought a thermos cup for her to keep hot water at-the-ready. Yet I cannot replay a specific conversation. It is all like a misty dream.

This has been a time-of-great-loss in and around my life. People are getting sick and not recovering. I feel like I have reached a new plateau and the view is hard to take in all at once. A person can just look at one sunset at a time. Relish the beauty that is left in its wake and focus on the highlights of the day that was just lived.

I am headed off to a funeral today.

I didn't know my aunt well, but we had the most enjoyable conversation with her this past fall. I sat beside her at a steak supper put on by the community. Our table was full. Four of my dad's brothers, two cousins, a cousin-in-law, my aunt and me. I talked (almost exclusively) with my aunt. I knew that she was not in the best of health. Her lungs were compromised and her oxygen tank was her companion. She had lost an extreme amount of weight and was unable to tolerate most foods. Yet, when she spoke you could not tell any-of-the-above. I heard life, vitality, inner strength and (I suppose) a little bit of resignation as to her current state of health. I cannot remember details. I remember energy. I remember her. I remember simply enjoying the moment. I remember that she packed up her steak to take home ...

Another family has lost their mother. Another husband has lost his wife. Another person is leaving this physical world and leaving behind bits and pieces of the life they lived. Memories.

When the sun sets upon another day, may you close your eyes and sift through the memories you have accumulated. It is within the memories and stories that we accumulate our wealth.

Memories may become as illusive as that forgotten dream but you don't forget the feeling. I woke up in the comfortable arms of friendship. I felt that I had spent time with someone who no longer walks this earth. If we could only all feel so rich.

If all memories fade the way mine have and all that is left behind is the feeling, endeavour to live a life where you breathe in honest and refreshing encounters with those that you meet. Then exhale more of the same.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 
~ Maya Angelou

Friday, February 14, 2014

Missing in Action; Present in Life

I've been missing in action here this week. I cannot even tell you exactly where I have been. Other than I have still been here, doing the same old thing but feeling like I am not really ever catching up with my writing to-do-list.

One morning, I took a pain killer at 4 a.m., and decided to give myself the gift of resting until it kicked in. I stayed in bed until the very last minute and there was no time to write that morning. Sometimes, the need for sleep must supersede all else. Sleep when you are able. You never know when you may need to call on those reserves ...

Then that day took on a life of its own. Our family has faced another loss. My cousins have lost their mother. My uncle has lost his wife and his brother within seven weeks of another. Life is fragile. Treat it with care ...

I spent the next morning sending and returning emails. I had 'writing obligations' to meet. I had a house full of children to tend all day. Life happens. Sometimes all you can do is live in the moment and trust that it will take you where you most need to be ...

I have friends in crisis. One friend just found out her dad has cancer. Another friend is living with an adult child and their lives are in turmoil because his emotional state is upset. I have other friends who are sitting quietly in the sidelines with their own challenges. We had plans to get together this upcoming weekend but I had to cancel those plans. My friends are like sisters to me. Treat your friends like family - you never know just how much they may need a sibling ...

The morning after that, I was the middle-man in a text-to-email-translation between my sisters. One texts. The other emails (she is out of the country and can't send/receive texts at the moment). I was passing messages between the two of them because I have the ability to text and email (my texting sister can also email - it is just that her grandson removed eight keys off of her computer keyboard and she has to use the little white stubs to type). When my sisters do manage to find a means of communication that does not involve me, I will miss the interaction. It has been a great form of entertainment this week. Oh, the little things. They make me smile ...

I sent off a few emails 'just because'. The words were in me and I had to do something with them. I believe it was the right thing to do because I received (almost) immediate responses. I had been scolding myself because I was not following my own advise of calling/emailing/dropping by to see someone when you are thinking of them. When I finally followed through and 'just did it', I knew it was the right thing to do. When your thoughts keep taking you to the same person and place, there is a reason ...

I look all around me and I see so many people who would give anything to have what I have. Our home is like a quiet little oasis in the storm. I look out the window and see what is happening all around us. I feel safe within the confines of our home and I do what I can do to support and walk with those who are facing their own personal storm.

We could lose it all in a millisecond. The life that we presently have. Our health. Our family. Our serenity. Our support system...

In this marvellous world of technological advancement, I can pick up the phone and call my mom (who lives five hours away) and it doesn't cost a penny. I can send off a text to my siblings and assume that it will be read almost immediately. I can email my sister who is out of the country and guess that she may read it within a 24 hour period. I can email my uncle who lives across the country and even though I know that checking in on emails is very low on his priority list, I can be assured that he will read it when he has the time and energy to do so. I can send one email to a group of people and touch a lot of people with a few words. I work from home, so I can reach out and touch people without taking a step out of my home at any time during my day.

Once upon a time, in a land far away, a friend once told me that he felt so peaceful within the home that I had created with my young family. I fought hard for this peace and I strive to maintain that serene aura within our lives. It was such a compliment to hear that someone outside of my little family unit felt what I had fought so hard for.

As I watch what is happening outside of these four walls, I feel safe, serene, content and happy. I feel a little bit like a 'port in the storm' for some of the people who touch my life. And for that ... I am grateful.

And that, my friend ... is why I have been MIA this week. I have been present within my life. There is no place else I would rather be.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Fresh New Week

I am so grateful for Mondays!

Monday is the beginning of a week where I wake up in the morning and my 'work' comes to me.

Monday is a day when I wake up and breathe a huge sigh of relief. "I get to stay home. I get to stay home! I get to stay home!!" is the mantra that sings within my early waking thoughts.

Monday feels like a fresh, new slate. I know the calendar starts its week on Sunday. Personally, my weeks begin on Monday. No matter what the weekend was - work, play, relaxation, productivity, people, solitude or a combination of all of the above - Monday is a new day. A new week. A fresh start.

Do I live for my weekends? A little bit. But not the way I once did. Weekends are the days I get to 'change the channel' and watch something different within my life. But I rather enjoy my weekday line-up.

I was out of the house far too much this past weekend. I could barely pry myself out of bed in the mornings because I knew my day was 'spent' the moment my feet hit the ground. So I hit the pause button and stayed in bed far longer than I usually do.

When I returned at the end of my days, I wanted to cocoon myself in my quiet little spot. I always made it there at the end of the day. But I didn't feel like I enjoyed the voyage that I took to get me where I most wanted to be.

I had a little bit of people-contact after my work hours. But it was hard work holding up my end of the conversation. I was done. I was empty. I was depleted by the time I walked in the door last night.

It is nights-like-this that I wish I lived with cats. Cats need so very little. Very little (or less) was all I had left. Cats tend to forgive you if you have a cranky moment at the end of a very long day at the end of a very long working weekend.

I am very fortunate to live in a home where 'my people' need very little from me either. I walk in the door and no one expects much (if anything) from me. People may forgive you if you have a cranky moment at the end of a very long day at the end of a very long working weekend ... but they don't forget the 'cranky'.

I'm sorry. I was cranky. I wish you hadn't seen that. I wish I hadn't felt that. I can tell that I am feeling my life tip out of balance when I feel that emotion so intensely.

Today is Monday. A new day. A new week. I have hit the 'reset' button. I feel better already. The 'cranky' has left the building.

I am so ready for this new day!

Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” 
― L.M. Montgomery

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Sleep Injury

Ten days ago, I woke up with a sleep injury. I placed the blame solely on the fact that I had went to bed at about 7:00 the previous evening and my back could only take so much immobility in one sleeping. I woke up stiff and sore and my malady has reoccurred every night since then.

I strategically place pillows all around my sleeping zone so that my achy back can find relief no matter which way I lay. I have tried every variation except for hanging upside and I have not yet found the magical solution to bring back sleep-as-I-once-knew-it.

Once I get up and moving, I am cured and the symptoms do not present themselves again, until the next time I fall asleep.

My only other symptom is the fact that it 'hurts' to drive. What a ninny I have become!! First off, I become nauseous even thinking about sitting in the back seat of a car. And now this? I get cramps in my 'seating area' and it physically hurts to remain seated in the driving position!

The pitfalls of aging seem to be catching up with me. This time, last year it was sore thumbs. Now, my lower back and buttocks!?!! These are important body parts! I think that my entire chassis needs a good oil and lube job. A general greasing of the drivetrain's steering system and the suspension system sounds pretty good right about now.

As I rethink of the drama that I have created within myself this week - from worrying about our Senior Cat's health condition ... to an over-reaction to a bad hair style ... to whining about a bad night's sleep, I can't help but wonder if the central theme is that my thoughts have become 'all about me' and I need to push myself out of this self absorbed spot and get out into the land of the living.

And that is just what I shall do. Tonight I have a dance class to attend. This weekend, I must work. There are things to do and places to be.

Enough of the drama already! It is time to get moving and shaking. If I can injure myself while I am sleeping, what does that say about my overall state of physical fitness!?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Hairy Tale

I am not a big fan of primping and pampering. The faster I can get through the ritual it takes to get ready for a day, the better. I would prefer a wash and wear hair style over anything else in the world ... which is making this growing-out-my-hair-phase a rather painful ordeal.

Six months ago, I got the shortest-hair-cut-known-to-my-locks. It was frightening. I got accustomed to blurring out my reflection in a mirror but any time my face/hair combo made it to a photograph I quite literally cringed. Take an aging, lifeless looking face (that rarely smiles) and place it smack dab in the middle of an ultra-short haircut and you have "moi".

Two months ago, my bangs finally reached my eyebrows again and I was feeling overgrown and shaggy. So I made my way to a hair salon (shaking all the way), not knowing what I dared to ask for. I did not want my hair 'cut'. I simply wanted it tidied up so that it appeared that I looked this way on purpose.

My newest favorite hair guy gave me color and sparkle and tidied up my hair so that I could leave the house without a bag over my head throughout December and a little way into January.

Lately, I have been coveting stay-at-home-experiences because my hair has reached a terrible phase of roots and I could not walk past a mirror without the words "mushroom cap" coming to mind as I caught my reflection taunting me.

This would not phase me so much if it were not for two things. "Dancing" and a "Weekend Getaway". I must leave our home and go out into the public (buying groceries and working does not count) on a semi-regular basis over the course of the next few weeks. If it were not for that, I would not have done what I did. But I did it. I called and made an appointment to tend to my new mushroom-cap-with-roots look.

My appointment was at 6:00. I walked in right on time and sat down awaiting my transformation. I have never 'touched up my roots' before. I couldn't believe how quickly the process went. In no time flat, he was done touching up. Then I sat.

And I sat. And I sat.

Then I sat some more.

I thought I would never stop sitting.

I thought that my hair was going to fall out at the roots because I sat so long with this goop on my head.

I wanted to go home!

I wanted out of this prison called a hair salon!

I wanted my mommy!!! Okay, I didn't really go there ... but I really was getting close to wanting to cry scream.

Finally, finally, finally my hair-guy (I have temporarily removed 'favorite' from his title) rounded the bend and came back to me. I honestly thought that maybe he went home and had completely forgotten me. I thought I may have to wash the floors and do laundry after they closed up shop. At a bare minimum, I was thinking that I deserved a free hair cut.

He quickly clipped and trimmed, dried and styled, primped and processed my hair. By the time I got out of his chair, I could have been whipped around in a tornado and my absolutely straight-to-my-face, lifeless head of hair would not budge.

I couldn't wait to get out of there. It was 8:00!! Two hours of my life. Wasted! At least one hour (if not, an hour and a half) of that time was sitting still. Waiting ...

I got out to the car and messed up my hair as much as I possibly could. I had to work that goop out of my hair! I did not have the time or energy to wash my hair when I got home! I mussed and fussed and scrunched and pushed my hair every which way. It stood straight out from my head. It felt horrible.

I got home and messed it up some more. Then pushed it back down. I was NOT wasting any more time on my head! I was NOT going to wash it!! I detest hair-care! The entirety of my wakeful after-daycare-hours were wasted. On primping. BLECH!

Then I made myself some supper. Doors were slammed. Something (I can't remember what it was) was tossed. Absolutely everything in the world made me angry.

Finally, finally, finally ... at about 8:30 at night, I sat down and enjoyed the moment that I live for all day. Sitting in my quiet little room-with-a-door, with my supper in front of me, an episode of the Gilmore Girls on ... and NO mirrors!

My Son walked in with a cat in his arms and we 'talked cats'. And I was home again. All was right in the world. I was in a quiet (padded?!??) room, with my food and our cats.

We laughed, we enjoyed moments, we savored our Senior Cat's new lease on life (it is amazing what half of a tiny little pill can do for a person, right Mom??) and I finally, finally, finally put the emotions from my bad hair experience behind me.

Then I woke up this morning.

Darn mirrors! I hate them. My hair is still bone straight (a look flattering to someone who is at least a decade younger than me), but at least the feeling of the 'goop' is gone.

I spritzed my hair and scrunched it up. I wet my hands and raked it through my hair. Please, please, please I just want a dab of 'life' added to this lifeless look. I do not want to have to wash it! Did I mention that I despise washing (and the inevitable styling that follows) my hair?!

I think the hair cut, itself will be fine. Is it a wash and wear style? I highly doubt it. But you can be sure that I am going to do my best. Otherwise ... I may just have to return to the girl who cut my hair back in August and start this process all over again. That is ... if my hair does not fall out after all of the hair processing, hot, hot, hot flat ironing and goop that was endured last night.

Happy Hair Day to you!!

P.S. Yes I know, if this is my biggest problem I am the luckiest girl around. I am grateful that is exactly the truth. I am grateful. Bad hair and all.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Morning Gathering at the Watering Hole

Yesterday morning, I wrote of our cat's early morning ritual. I was concerned because Senior Cat was not ready and waiting for his fresh-water-experience.

Who should greet me bright and early this morning?
video
These ... are the little things that make me smile. 

He's back. 

I may be premature in thinking this ... but I think that our Senior Cat has reached another plateau now that his new dosage of medication has alleviated his symptoms. At least for now. 

And for now? This is enough


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Soaking Up the (Cat) Sunshine

I am savoring all moments such as these ...
Our Senior Cat's health is slowly deteriorating. His enemy-without-a-name (maybe asthma? maybe cancer??) began well over a year ago and became something we started doctoring for this past fall, is evolving.

It started several weeks ago but I didn't want to believe it. Maybe this change of events was not a sign of things getting worse. Maybe as his lungs were healing and he had to hunker down and 'cough' (it appears more like a dry heave, but we have started calling it an asthma attack) to get rid of some irritant in his lungs. Maybe that vigorous petting worked up some flem. Maybe it the way he was being held. Maybe, maybe, maybe...

This past weekend, I could not fool myself any longer. The look in My Son's eyes told me that I am not the only one seeing this. He tenderly brought him to me after one such attack ... then Our Kitty had another attack before My Son could tell me about the first one. 

I doubled his steroid medication (he is on a very low dose and our vet has instructed me to act according to what I see) that day. I should have increased it sooner. Why did I wait? 

My eyes are watching for any change. Good or bad. Every purr, every spurt of energy, every little kitten-meow (he used to be such a talker; now he talks only if he really has something to say), every time he makes the moves to socialize with us is Big News. 

Yesterday afternoon, our Senior Kitty tried to hop into My Son's backpack. A typical move for him. It reminds us of better days when any box, suitcase, backpack or anything unusual was too much for our cat to resist. He simply had to hop inside and enjoy his new room with a view. Yesterday, he tried to hop in the backpack. Twice. He missed, the first try and the backpack and him toppled over. My Son rearranged the backpack to make it a little easier. This time, his front leg gave out as he made his move and he toppled over sideways. My heart cracked a little.

Later in the evening, I decided to have some cheese. Before I could arrange myself on the couch, our Senior Kitty was racing into the room with the look of youth and vigor in his eyes (he is an extreme lover-of-dairy). I shared my cheese with him. Not too much - but more than I normally would have. He looked so happy and kitten-like. How could I resist him?

This morning, he didn't come and greet me (as has become his new habit). The steroids make him very thirsty and though we do have an ample water supply downstairs by the cat food, with dog-water by the back door ... the small cat-water dish by the fridge is always bone dry in the mornings. Our kitty loves fresh water. So our newest little tradition is that I turn on the tap in the bathtub and let a fresh stream of water trickle down so our cats can enjoy a fresh water fountain experience. This novelty has almost guaranteed two cats waiting for me at the bathroom door each and every morning.

This morning, Senior Cat was missing. I assumed that he must have decided to spend the night in My Son's room so I didn't think too much about it. Don't worry. This is not as bad as I am making it out to be. The only concerning factor is that I found our Senior Cat resting on the back of the love seat in the living room. Apparently the desire to remain resting superceded his love of fresh water today. It happens. 

I gently caressed his head (he flinches at our touch a lot these days) and spoke gently in his ear. And the next thing I knew, he had followed me into the bathroom to enjoy the bathtub fountain. And his front leg gave out on him. Again.

He has gained a lot of weight due to his steroid medication. Our vet said that it is not unusual for older cats to have arthritis and topped with the weight gain, this is not alarming. But it is happening more often. Add that to his wheezing attacks and general slowing down ... it just breaks my heart a little to see that his holding pattern is slowly starting to deteriorate. 

So yesterday afternoon, when he hopped up on me as all of my Daycare Family were napping ... I just lapped up the moments. And took snapshots. This morning, I recorded his purr once again. His purr makes my heart sing.

Even Junior Cat (our ever-moving-blur) seems to be checking in on his partner-in-cathood in a gentle and caring way. This morning, he nuzzled his nose into Senior's fur and just inhaled. He then looked up at me, with his mouth open and his tongue sticking out in a fashion that makes one think that he has smelled something awful (our Senior Cat's coat is in meticulous condition - so I took offense at Junior's expression!). Later, he initiated a little bit of cat-play and Senior batted him off, in a polite sort of way.

We all miss the kitten that lives inside our Senior Cat. I still try to convince myself that maybe things can level off once again and we can enjoy a lot more months in a new holding pattern. 

His fur looks vibrant and he appears to be the picture of health. I know that animals don't show their weakness. I know that purring can mean that they are in pain. My head knows many things but my heart is holding on, wishing for more than we may have.
In the mean time, I am lapping up these moments like a cat in a sunbeam. Soak up the 'sun' whenever you can. You just never know how long it may last ...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Thinking Out Loud

I didn't realize it at the time, but I could have been sitting down and having a conversation with my brother yesterday when I wrote down my thoughts-of-the-day-I-just-spent at the day's end.

I was fortunate enough to hear his end of the conversation via an email that he sent to me before he read those words. We could have been sitting down at the kitchen table talking to each other. Our thoughts were so closely correlated.

Each and every time someone comments that they have connected to something that I have written brings me back 'here' - writing my nonsense, heavy thoughts, frivolous thoughts and everything in between.

Perhaps I write too much. I lay my thoughts out on the ground and they could so very easily be stomped on, criticized, ignored or ridiculed. I don't doubt that happens. It is just that I live in a very small, secluded and  protected island where I am surrounded with kind people. So I just keep writing.

Just when I think that I've written enough about our cats, someone will tell me how much they enjoy those cat-tales. Just when I think I've said too much and revealed something that I should have kept to myself, someone will tell me that was exactly what they needed to read that day. I can almost hear my sister laughing when I bare my soul about the inevitable phases of aging and 'beauty' gone awry. Even when I write of the nothingness-that-is-my-life and turn a kitchen table into a story, and someone (my mom) may comment on that.

So I keep showing up.

I am blessed with incredible friendships within my world. Many of those friends stop by and read my blogs. I cannot tell you the number of times I have found myself in the middle of a conversation where I feel that someone has read my mind. Then I recognize my own words within their vocabulary and I realize that they haven't read my mind. They have read my writing.

Each of us has our own burden to bear. The load becomes heaviest when we try to carry it on our own. I found out a very long time ago, that by opening up and talking about hard things ... the load is lessened.

Sometimes the excess thoughts pile up and simply releasing the words (and emotion behind them) lightens the load. Sometimes that is all that is required.

Other times, you hear your own answers when you spill the words that are piling up inside. Or you may hear your own answer come back to you in another person's voice. You may simply need permission to feel what you are feeling so that you can take the next forward step.

When you open yourself up to the world, you become vulnerable. I believe that (most) people respect that vulnerability because they recognize themselves within that, which you have just bared.

Thinking out loud has opened many doors for me. Friendships have become 'real' faster by revealing my true self. Answers have come easier by spilling the emotions behind my thoughts and leaving the words behind.

Give yourself permission to think out loud. Don't think of it as complaining or whining. Think of it as 'problem resolution' and 'relationship building'.

Say the words. Your answers will come. Eventually...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Kitchen Table

I sat down at the kitchen table instead of making my way to the computer desk this morning. It changed the course of my day.

A long time ago, in a far away land (before I was addicted to checking emails, blogs, Facebook and updating my own blogs) I used to sit down at the kitchen table with my morning coffee.

Sunday mornings were especially memorable because I used to open up our 'Sunday Sun', read it at my leisure, then work on the crossword. I would sit down and (hand) write a weekly letter to my mom. I may sit and work on my budget. Or make lists. Sometimes, I would simply dream out loud on a piece of paper in a scribbler.

I kept many of these notations, hopes and dreams. It amazed me just how often the 'impossible dreams' became my reality. Bit by bit, year by year, dollar by dollar, goals were achieved. There is something very powerful about putting your dreams on paper. They become tangible. I think your brain works harder to connect the dots and pursue your dreams when you physically 'draw a picture'. On paper and in your mind.

Time has a way of slowly shifting those little habits. Priorities change. Routines shift. You adapt and get things done in a different way. Eventually what you are presently doing bears only a faint resemblance to that which has served you well in the past.

My early morning activities have varied from walking the dog, to watching an episode of "Little House on the Prairie, to delivering papers, to exercising, to writing, to (presently) sitting down at the computer and frittering away two hours without blinking an eye.

I try to write every morning and spill my early morning thoughts into something readable. I still write my mom's weekly letter but I am in such a hurry to get it written (that task seems to have shifted to a Monday-chore), that I type it up on the computer (I chose a very nice 'handwritten' font to make it more personal though), print off and send a few blog posts along with it to thicken the envelope. Mom still has a personal letter in the mail but it isn't quite the same as a handwritten letter (except it is much more legible).

As I sat still and hand-wrote a letter to my mom this morning, it felt like I had come home again. From there, I started writing down (and illustrating) my dream-renovation list. I could have spent a few more hours at the kitchen table but I had people that I wanted to see and things that had to be done. So my fun had to end all too soon.

My scribbler remains on the table. Dreams have been documented. I already feel myself breaking down the dreams into manageable segments. I feel like I rerouted my thinking this morning. I have turned my impossible dreams into a plan. It may take years to achieve. But anything is possible if you simply keep putting one foot in front of the other and taking one, small forward step at a time.

I miss sitting at our kitchen table. I think that I will try to make a date with it more often.

Look around you. What enjoyable routine have you eliminated from your life? What is one little thing that brought you a small piece of happy without spending a penny or even leaving the house? It is often the most obvious of things that become impossible to see, within the clutter of our busy lives.

Slow down. Sit still. Dream ... it could not only change your day. It could change your life. One small step at a time.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

... Just Don't Keep Score

A few days ago, I read a blog post (click here to read it yourself) that was too good not to be shared with a teacher or principal.

Immediately, I started to write an email to a principal that I had once worked with. Then my day got busy and it didn't get sent. Eventually, I had the time to polish up this email and send it on its way. But I decided to sleep on it. Sometimes, I regret acting on my impulses. So I waited to see how my words sounded in the morning.

After waking up to a new day, I decided to complete and send off this unsent email. Should I? Shouldn't I?? How would it be received??? Done thinking! SEND.

In the millisecond that it takes to send your words off into a world where you cannot take them back again, the deed was done. No time for second guessing myself. My day walked in the door and I (almost) forgot what I had just done.

The day got busy and I had a slight twinge of regret when I didn't receive an immediate response from my email. Then I subconsciously filed it away under "The Best of Intentions Gone Awry" and stopped worrying about it.

At one point in the day, I reminded myself that it is best not to 'keep score'. If a person expects every single action to be reciprocated in kind, they will live a life of subconsciously recording What I Have Done and comparing it to What I Have Received in Return.

You simply can't win at that game. Because you never quite know when a small deed has made an impact.

Sometimes you receive an immediate response. Other times, there may be a slight delay. Then there are times that you truly have no idea how much of a difference you have made until years later. I can only guess that there may be even more times that you simply never know. The odd time, you don't 'score' at all. In fact, I have been handed the odd 'penalty' from time to time.

What I have learned is that I am the one who reaps the biggest reward in the end. Simply by doing what feels-right-at-the-time. With little importance (other than not wanting to anger, offend or hurt) placed on 'winning' an appropriate response.

Different people construe actions and the written word in different ways. Five people could see, hear or read the same thing and take five different meanings from it. And they could have twenty different ways of responding to the above mentioned actions.

No response does not always indicate indifference. It can be so very, very many things. From lack of time, to lack of words, to the wrong timing, to all else that may be going on within another person's life at the time...

I have come to believe that if I send out words or give something to the world with the best interests of another human being my only motivating factor, I 'win' at the game where I don't keep score.

Sometimes good intentions come back to me in the form of a gift. Sometimes they come back to me years later. Sometimes they don't come back at all. But always, always ... I feel better for having followed my instincts.

Today? I received a gift. I received a response from the principal that I wrote to. It started like this:  "Thank you so much for thinking of me and then sending this note. It truly made my day! ..."

I suddenly felt that it is very right to follow through on those little thoughts when you think of someone in a positive way.

You never know what an impact you can make, simply by being kind. You may be holding the key that unlocks a window of 'happy' into someone's day.

If you are thinking of someone, let them know it. If someone has made a difference, tell them. If someone looks a little down and out, spread a little bit of sunshine into their day. You will not regret it.

... just don't keep score. That negates the goodness that you just shared.

Dancing My Way Back Into Living

Last night, I attended a group dance class. I was the 'new girl' in the class. Everyone else was familiar with each other and I was the one that didn't belong.

I was the quiet one in the corner (actually, I was standing against a wall) ... but I was not ignored.

Suddenly I was reminded that this is what was so magical to me, about the dance studio.

I started dancing about sixteen years ago. I was immediately invited to join the group classes.

It was daunting to me at the time. I saw the interactions of the group around me and I longed to belong. I stood quietly on the sidelines and I was invited to become part of the whole.

People were wonderful to me. And to each other. As weeks progressed into months and the months into years, I felt a sense of belonging.

As time went on, I was no longer the quiet one. I was one who approached the new person.

A person does not tend to forget how it feels to be on the outside, looking in. Life has a way of presenting itself in a fashion where you can give back, what you have once received. It felt good to be invited into the dance community within this studio. It felt even better to be on the giving end of that cycle.

I fell out of the dance world in a quiet, unremarkable way. I gradually stopped going to group classes. Eventually I even dropped out of my private lessons. But I will never forget the magic that I found within those studio walls.

When I was asked to join this particular group class last night, I did not have a moment of hesitation. "Of course, I could come!"

The only moment of stress arrived when I realized that I had to dress for the occasion and my wardrobe feels slightly lacking these days. And I was having a bit of a bad hair day.

I did the best, with what I had and I walked up the stairs to the studio. I had not even walked through the studio doors, when I struck up a conversation with the stranger-who-would-be-my-dance-partner for the evening. And I forgot everything else in the world.

I walked through the doors and found my way through the evening. It was easy. And it was good. It was only upon reflection, that I saw the cycle that started to repeat...

Suddenly, I was on the receiving end again. I felt safe. I felt good. I was back in a world that has brought me nothing but joy.

The good news? Is that I have been invited to go back. And I will. It felt good to hop back into that community of comfort and joy.

The magical allure of dancing has once again brought me back to a place I enjoy. Maybe I need to dance my way back into living ...